Chapter 2 : I Remember When
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There was something about Herbology everyone hated. It wasn’t just Gryffindors. It was everyone. Hell, I’m pretty sure Muggles hated Herbology too. The labs in the greenhouses were tolerable, but it was the lectures that made my mind go fuzzy. There were only so many balloons one could draw while still remaining conscious.
The classroom was on the third floor. The curtains were always drawn, blocking the giant view of the forest. Two to a table. Three rows of tables. Three rows of people attempting to sleep with their eyes open while Professor Smith used his pointer to show us the finer details of plant veins. The most thrilling thing that happened was the button on the slide machine breaking, forcing him to attempt to fix it by magic.
None of us have ever witnessed Smith do magic. Hell, his name was even boring.
Today he was going through his usual lecture. This time it was about some sort of leafy green buggers with spikes just under the flower. No idea what those were for. Didn’t much care either, just as long as I didn’t have to demonstrate the improper way to pick one up in lab on Thursday.
“You get that last slide?” James looked over, his eyelids falling.
“Does it look like I did?” I motioned to my paper, which had a list written on it. Obviously nothing to do with Herbology.
Multi-flavor fizzy drinks.
Alcoholic grape juice – is that just wine?
Gift wrap line.
Prank designer bags.
“Heard from Uncle George?” he asked, scanning the list.
“Not yet.” I shrugged and twirled the quill between my fingers for a moment.
“You think he told my dad?”
James looked back at the slides, wrinkled his nose, and then started practicing his signature. He did that a lot. Told me when we were second years that once we owned the shop we would have to sign autographs since we’d be so famous. He hadn’t stopped practicing yet, even though the only people who asked for his autograph were the nutter historians obsessed with Uncle Harry.
One of them knocked on his window during the summer.
Uncle Harry recently upped security on the Potter house.
“What d’you think he’d do?” I asked. Smith looked over and I pretended to write something. In actuality I wrote ‘watermelon’ four times. “Freak out?”
“Nah,” James whispered, writing ‘Herbology is for fucks’ a few times. “I just think he wants me to go into something different. I dunno. We all know Al’s going to play Quidditch and Lily will probably be a Healer. Maybe he figured I’d work with him? Or something?”
I wrote ‘watermelon’ a few more times. “I think he’ll be okay,” I said. “As long as he hears it from you and not Dad.”
James had been keeping the shop-running from his dad for years. It was mentioned as a possibility – how could it not be with as close-knit of a family as we had – but never seriously. Not in public. Not around our family. My parents both knew, but James wanted to be certain he knew exactly what was happening before he told his parents exactly what choice he’d made for his life. He was the eldest Potter after all. He was a legacy or something.
There would probably be an article in the paper. At least his hair would look good.
“Your dad knows to keep it quiet, right?”
“He’s kept it for the last like … six years,” I mumbled. “I think he’s okay.”
“Will the two of you shut up?” Molly turned around from in front of eyes, eyes on fire. “It is impossible to concentrate.”
Molly knew about our passion too. It was impossible not to when we were the only three Potter-Weasleys in our year. She was good for keeping secrets too, especially since we knew she lost her virginity to Headboy Rune in fifth year and always use it against her.
It’s a cousin thing.
“Come on, Mols,” James whined. “This is business.”
“I am going to convince Uncle George I ought to take over the shop if you two don’t shut up,” she hissed. “And we all know he’d listen.”
Dad had a soft spot for the girls in the family. Always gave into them. Bloody nightmare, especially with Roxy. Happy birthday, Rox. Here’s a bloody tiger. Not really, but I wouldn’t put it past him. At the very least a lemur.
“Can I still work the register?” I asked sweetly.
Molly huffed, shoving her dark curls away from her face and turning back to the front.
“You think she’s still shagging Rune?” James asked, just loud enough to turn the back of Molly’s neck bright red.
“He probably ran out of moves,” I commented.
Then I got a paper ball to the head.
To the back of the head.
I turned and rolled my eyes. Damn it.
That was another shit thing about Herbology. That, along with Transfiguration, we enjoyed in the company of the Ravenclaws. Sure, not all of them were obnoxious. Some fit the Claw stereotype. Others didn’t. Some I was quite sure were supposed to be in Hufflepuff or Slytherin.
Two who exuded Slytherin-esque qualities were Ryan Davies and Gemma Rousseau, who were behind James and me. Opposite in physical features, the girls were too similar on the inside. I knew very little about them and intended on keeping it that way. Ryan was a tall beauty with that dark chalk around her eyes to make her look intense or something. Gemma had the platinum hair and aqua eyes, her skin fair and her lips always glossy. James always joked about her coming out of the womb with manicured nails and lip plumper. Hollywood style.
Gemma shot me a quirky wave. “Sorry, Weasel,” she said. “My notes just flew right out of my hand.”
“Yeah, after you threw them,” I shot back, picking up the paper. I opened it. “Oh, real classy, French.”
“Do you not like my artistic talent?” Gemma asked sweetly. That was the voice she used to get out of detentions when she came late to class after a smoke break on the grounds.
“Not when it’s a picture of me in a compromising position,” I grumbled. “It doesn’t even look like me.”
“It is,” Gemma insisted. Ryan snickered, taking a few notes. “See there? That’s an arrow with your name. That’s how you know it’s you.”
“You sure you didn’t bribe the Sorting Hat with Daddy’s money?” I asked.
James turned his laugh into a hacking cough when Smith looked over. He didn’t seem to care that my back was turned. Probably because I was talking to Ravenclaws who got good marks.
“You’ll never know if I did,” she replied, chewing on the end of her quill, eyes locked on mine. “You’ll never have enough money to bribe it to confess.” Her smirk was something out of a horror film.
Right before the murderer is about to off you.
I looked to Ryan, but she wasn’t looking at me. Couldn’t exactly blame her, seeing as she’d seen me naked. I had already interacted with her more this year than in six years. Awkward.
James elbowed me. “Oy, he said this was going to be on the test,” he said.
I groaned, turning and scribbling down the notes. Molly shot us another look. I made an obscene gesture. Family love.
“I’ll never understand Ravenclaws,” James said as we made our way downstairs. We’d just left History of Boring and were on our way to lunch, stomachs grumbly. “Why can’t they just stick to being quiet and smart?”
“The same way we stick to being chivalrous and brave?” I asked.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty chivalrous,” he countered. “Remember a minute ago when I held the door for Molly?”
“You held it to push it into her face when she got closer,” I said.
“Yes, well, the thought was there.” James shrugged and started down the marble staircase. “I’m brave as well.”
“Yes, very brave the way you ran away screaming when Rose went at you with the Beaters bat yesterday.”
“Most of the time!” James whined, elbowing me. “Oh, hey, Rox.”
My sister was walking up the stairs toward us. She had a bag overflowing with textbooks over her shoulder and jamming into her hip. We didn’t have many of the same features. She took after Mum. Serious eyes. Darker skin than me. Way better sense of style. Dad couldn’t dress for shit and he passed that down to me.
He told me that he and my namesake, Fred, once bought hideous dragon-skin suits when they opened the business. Come on, Dad.
“Hey, James.” Roxy nodded and continued up the stairs before turning the corner and vanishing.
“She did, you know, realize you were here, right?” James said, jumping the vanishing step and pausing to look back. “Or has she gone blind? I heard Aunt Ang talking about that once. Is it a family thing?”
“Pretty sure that’s a figure of speech, James.” I rolled my eyes and frowned. “Yeah, Roxy knew I was here.”
“We should start calling her Roxanne,” he said, biting down on his lower lip. “I bet that’d get her attention. Still can’t believe it’s like bloody ships passing. I think she talks to me more than you.”
“You aren’t her brother.”
James shrugged. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “I talk to Lily way more than you talk to Roxy.”
“You’re both in Gryffindor.”
“You don’t honestly still think that’s it, do you?”
“Let’s just eat, okay?” I shoved open the doors to the Great Hall and led the way to the Gryffindor table. Food was a welcome distraction.
Growing up, Roxy and I had been inseparable. A lot of parents say that about their kids if they spend time together, but it wasn’t just the two of us reluctantly sharing toys or getting in adorable toddler fights filled with blubbering and awkward shrieking. We were best friends.
Sure, James was around, but before the age of thirteen Roxy was everything to me.
We each had our own rooms, but we rarely spent time there. Most of our childhood was spent either exploring the back garden or pitching sheet tents in the den. We made up games. We finger-painted the fuck out of canvases Mum brought home from work. We stifled giggles until three in the morning and we made pacts about things not to tell our cousins.
I always protected her when Dom wanted to pick on her for not having that pretty blond hair Aunt Fleur passed down. She protected me when Grandmum paid more attention to James and fussed over his hair, claiming my hair was obviously better than James’ hair and she just needed to look closer.
It was hardest when I went off to Hogwarts, but I came back for the holidays a true Gryffindor. Roxy and I stayed up late every night. She demanded I tell her everything about Gryffindor house. About the dormitory and the view and the people and where the table was located in the Great Hall. Mum and Dad joined in.
“Two more years,” Roxy insisted, grinning as she sat cross-legged on the end of my bed. “Two more years and I’ll be able to bug you every night.”
We spent every minute of our holidays together, usually with our parents. I gave her lessons on how to be a proper Gryffindor. I always brought home extra scarves and ties for her to wear. She put them on every time we went to Dad’s shop, pretending she went to Hogwarts, cheeks rosy with excitement. It was sad saying good-bye every time I went back, but she assured me it wasn’t long before we’d be able to hang out again all the time.
I saved a seat for her at the start of third year. I figured she could sit between James and me.
I should have known, as he’d done the same for Albus the previous September.
Roxy’s face showed nothing but shock when the Sorting Hat was pulled off her head. She stayed seated for close to ten seconds, fingers shaking until finally she was given a mild shove toward the Ravenclaw table. She stumbled a little, eyeing the navy and gray, probably checking her memory to make sure that was Ravenclaw as I had told her little of the other Houses.
She sat beside Albus, still trembling, and tried to focus on the rest of the sorting.
I kept watching her, but Roxy was determined not to meet my eyes.
It didn’t get better. She insisted everything was fine and she loved Ravenclaw. She got on well with her house-mates, she got amazing marks her first year, and she smiled at all the right times. But something wasn’t there in her eyes anymore.
During the holidays she’d make plans with her mates and our cousins. She had more plans with Lily and Louis than she did me.
“I’m just busy, Freddie,” she said, shrugging, grabbing a piece of toast, and disappearing. Again. Again. Again.
Around my fifth year we started to argue. I didn’t understand her. She was impossible. Arguments about everything and nothing at the same time. They started over how many crackers I put in my chili and ended with dents in the wall the size of book spines. At Christmas, no one asked us about the other.
Mum and Dad didn’t pressure us to get along, but they dropped hints.
I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t known what to do since the last day of August my third year. She wasn’t my sister anymore. She was as good as Scorpius Malfoy’s sister. When she cried, he was there to console her. When she got top marks, he was there to celebrate. When she wanted to have a snowball fight in Hogsmeade on her first trip, he was there to throw the first one.
Which was the way Roxy wanted it.
So instead of getting a book to the head, I watched.
I watched from the Gryffindor table as she had her heart broken last year by some stupid Hufflepuff with hair that stuck up in the back. Malfoy’s arms circled around her and she melted into him, sobbing. I watched her jump onto the marble staircase, screaming about her top score in Charms. She leapt off the fourth stair and into his arms again. He twirled her around, laughing with her. I leaned against the doorframe.
And my back was against the cold, hard bark of a pine while Roxy ran around with her friends in Hogsmeade, throwing snowballs back and forth. Hugo was invited to play. Louis. Lily. Hell, Dominique got her nails dirty for a minute to try to ball up the snow, only to fail miserably and hide behind a bench.
Scorpius tackled Roxy into a drift pile and shoved snow in her face.
Like a brother.
There were only so many times I could attempt to distract myself from being replaced.
“Need some company?”
There were three knocks on the door and Annie walked in holding a few books to her chest.
“Anything to get my mind off these reports.” I was sitting in the Prefect office. It was a small room with two desks, a pair of chairs, and the walls were lined with photographs of previous Prefects. Far too many of my family members were on those walls. My parents were not.
“Easy day?” Annie hopped up onto the desk and I tried not to look at her legs. I wished she would adjust her skirt so it covered more of her thighs.
“Had to deduct some points from a third year for threatening a Ravenclaw using some pretty filthy language.” I laughed and showed her the report.
“I don’t even know what that means.” Her nose wrinkled. “Please don’t tell me.” She tossed it onto the desk and leaned back on the palms of her hands. “I had a late dinner and figured I’d see how you were. Classes going okay?”
“They’re all right,” I replied. “How are yours?”
“I’ll never understand why you don’t get as good of marks as other people,” Annie commented, her eyes on the walls. “You’re really smart.”
“I’m no Ravenclaw.”
“Sometimes Ravenclaws are hardly Ravenclaws, you know?”
I thought about Gemma and Ryan.
Annie moved a piece of hair behind her ear. “Ollie said Quidditch is tough with Beckett and Teo.”
“They’re all right.” I shrugged a little, scribbling in some answers on the forms. Paperwork was the worst. If there were no issues through the entire fourth floor, why did I need to bloody write that down? “Rose wants the Cup this year. Well, she wants it every year. Pretty sure she’s addicted to it. She goes into Longbottom’s office to sniff it I think.”
“Probably smells like victory,” Annie said, laughing. “You think you’ll win it again?”
“I hope so,” I replied. “James and I have been working really hard at our technique.”
“You’re way better than the other Beaters.”
“You think so?” I dotted the ‘i’ in Freddie on the page.
“Ravenclaw’s already down a Beater,” she said. “I overheard them talking about it at dinner. Apparently he was one of the new ones. Took a Bludger to the head, got scared, and quit.”
“Can you imagine if I would have quit after a Bludger to the head?”
She grinned. “What have you taken, like twenty?” she asked.
“At the very least.” I shuffled the papers into a neat file, paper-clipped them, and put them in the outgoing basket for Professor Aurora, who was the faculty advisor for Prefects. “I’m pretty sure that’s how I get my best shop ideas.”
“I think the shop will be great when you own it.” Annie beamed, crossing one leg over the other.
I looked. “Yeah?” I said.
Annie put her hand on mine. “Sure,” she replied quietly. Someone’s footsteps echoed in the hall. “You’re brilliant.”
“Thanks.” My thumb brushed across the back of her hand.
“This is great, isn’t it?” James asked, shoving a huge bite of ham and turkey sandwich into his mouth. He was next to me on the Quidditch stands, the sun to our backs, as we waited for the Ravenclaw Beater try-outs to begin.
“Don’t you think Rose should be here?” I asked, pulling my jacket tight around me.
“And have her telling us everything that’s wrong with their Keepers form? Fat chance.” James rolled his eyes and took another huge bite. He looked like a hamster. “Les jus not tell her, kay?”
“Good idea.” I stuffed my fingers in my pockets. “Let’s not tell her we’re spying on the new Beater.”
“They ‘ame to ours!” James huffed bitterly.
“Yeah, okay, tough guy.” I patted him on the head, which he slapped away, almost losing his sandwich in the process. I couldn’t quite make out the swear word, as his mouth was still full of three different kinds of Swiss cheese. “See anyone down there with talent?”
My eyes went to the pitch now that a group of hopefuls were collected. Albus was standing a little ways away with sunglasses and a clipboard. The rest of the team was in their gear.
Stupid Scorpius Malfoy and his stupid gear.
“Gemma’s down there,” James said, pointing toward the left side of the group. “Most of them are young, though. Godric, could you imagine going up against her on the pitch? Bruises would be the light end.”
“We could take her on.” I narrowed my eyes. “I’m sure she’ll flash some gold at your brother.”
“Good thing he’s rich,” James noted. “Al’s too obsessed with Quidditch to let someone buy their way onto the team. He wants to win.”
“Wish he wasn’t,” I grumbled. “Then I could hope Malfoy bought his way onto the team and sleep easier at night.”
“I wish he wasn’t talented too,” James said, patting me on the back. “Don’t worry. Whatever Beater they select won’t be as good as we are. That’s a fact. We’re Frames.” He gave me a little salute. “Everyone in that group didn’t make the first cut, so they’re not good anyway.”
The group lined up with old school bats (way too many dents) while Albus shouted something at them. Probably about how to actually be a Beater since most of them looked lost. One kid was staring at a butterfly. The fuck was a butterfly doing down there?
“Ollie thinks all the Ravenclaws are shit,” James said, swallowing another huge bite. “Mostly the girls though.”
I raised a brow. “They’re not the best team, but she can’t be saying shit about Davies, can she?”
“She tried.” James shrugged, eyes turning back to the pitch. He was hunched over on the bench, elbows on his knees.
“What’d she say?” I licked my bottom lip, heart beating quickly. I hadn’t told James anything about my encounter with Ryan, which was strange for us. He knew everything. Except that. I’d been too ashamed of it. He was never one for one-night encounters and I was pretty sure he wouldn’t approve of one with a Ravenclaw who probably hated puppies and babies and stuff.
Something in me decided to keep it from James.
“That Davies is probably on steroids,” James said, chuckling. “Look at her down there.”
My eyes moved to where he was pointing. Ryan was on the sidelines, weight on one leg as she leaned against her broom lazily. Her gaze was at the hoops, probably not paying attention to what Albus was saying. “She’s got talent,” I said.
James nodded. “Yeah, her dad played pro for a couple years. She’s good Chaser blood and shit.” He squinted looking down at her. “You think she gets around?”
I choked. “What?”
“Like, plays at other pitches and stuff? She’s got too much talent just to play at Hogwarts.”
My face was a new shade of red. Sports drink red. Terrible.
“Yeah, right.” I nodded quickly, looking away. “Yeah, I’m sure she plays over the summer. She’s good.”
Albus pointed to the air and the first two Beater prospects took off, as well as their current Beater and the rest of the team.
“She’s good-looking,” James noted.
He nodded. “For a Ravenclaw.”
He elbowed me. “You think Gemma is hotter or Ryan?”
“I’m telling Ollie.”
“Spoil-sport,” James grumbled. “Look at that kid – does he seriously think he could do an underhand there?”
Thank Godric he got off the subject. It made me uncomfortable, James talking about the hotness of Ryan. Not that I didn’t agree with him. Ryan was gorgeous. Gemma was attractive. But they kept to themselves for the most part except the odd paper-throwing Herbology incident.
I didn’t know anything about her other than that.
Well, I knew a few things.
“Look!” James said, elbowing me hard. “Number three. Right there. Completely wrong form.”
My eyes were on Ryan, easily passing the Quaffle, barely holding onto her broom. It wasn’t something you could be taught. Hell, it was a kind of Quidditch I’d never be able to play. I just wasn’t built for it. She was just plain talented, whereas James and I could be qualified as educated and good. An important combo for school Quidditch, but a combo that would never get us signed past Hogwarts. Not that we wanted it.
Ryan turned. She had her hair tied back in a pony tail and it was flying back, nearly whipping her in the face each time around the pitch. She completely ignored the Beaters, even though half of the Bludgers were aimed at her.
They never got anywhere near her.
“See Ry’s moves?” Albus asked. He had huffed his little way up the stands now that Malfoy was blowing the whistle and flopped down between James and me. “She’s been practicing this summer.”
“Looks like she practices instead of doing homework,” James mumbled.
“Top marks too,” bragged Albus, grinning.
“I bet she sucks in bed,” James said.
I blushed. And then looked away.
“I’m telling Ollie,” Albus said, turning his eyes back to the tryout. “No one’s really looking good.”
“That’s because they’re Ravenclaws,” James said.
“You sound like Rose.” Albus shoved his brother. “You’re just sour that I have Ry and you have … well, that Teo girl and a crazy captain.” He grinned and tapped his foot on the bench below ours.
“One of these days that girl is going to get injured and you’re going to be shit out of luck,” James mumbled. “And then we’ll beat you again.”
“Quit pretending like you care about Quidditch.” Albus yawned. “We both know you only play so Dad will quit asking about your future and so Mum will stop encouraging you to take up a hobby with me.”
“Not my fault you didn’t want to take up basket-weaving,” James said. “They already scouting Davies?”
“Have been for two years.” Albus groaned when one of the candidates got nailed in the shoulder. “Five teams have requested her stats.”
“Hell,” James said. “You sleeping with her, Al?”
“You need to stop thinking about sex,” Albus scolded, elbowing him again. “Especially with my players.”
Blush. Blush. Blush.
Why was I blushing?
Because I had been the one to tangle my fingers in the fabric of her dress and hoist it up over her hips.
Stop, Freddie. Please stop.
“Good luck on the Beater search, Albus!” I cried, voice a little pitchy, and damn-near ran down the stadium stairs.
“Where you headed, Weasel?” shouted Gemma from the pitch. “Done spying?”
“Sod off, French!” I cried, bee-lining to the double-doors.
“He always runs,” Ryan added from above, laughing. The rest of the team laughed, though I was pretty sure none of them knew what she was talking about.
I didn’t dare stop running until I was in the Entrance Hall.
A/N: Thanks again to everyone who is new to my stories and to everyone who came over here from stories like Breaking the Quidditch Code & Hide and Seek.
Thoughts so far?
UP NEXT: The library. Ryan Davies. Father-son relationship. And the docks.
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