Chapter 1 : Of critters and men
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To say I made a bunch of shitty choices, would be the understatement of the year.
It all started with an innocent idea of changing my hair colour. I had never done it, but how hard could it really be? Simple spellwork really. Swish, flick and few well chosen words from the book called ‘100 Fail Safe Ways To Charm Your Hair’. In my wildest dreams I sported the softest strawberry blonde curls known to wizardkind. In reality, when I took a peek of myself in the mirror, I had to take a hard grip from the armoire. I had turned it into pink. Bloody pink. One measly pronunciation error and my head glowed like a festive paper lantern. I would be matchy matchy with the paraphernalia from Madam Puddifoot’s. So I screamed and fainted promptly.
“Tam?” Not-so-subtle kick in my ribs. “Tam McLaggen? Are you awake?”
The rug under me was not the comfiest. I bet the Hufflepuff dormitories have much softer ones. The draft from the tower window started to chill my bare skin. Thanks to Godric’s silly notion that bravery was the Gryffindors’ leading quality, we were living in the tower that could double as an icebox. The winter mornings when stone floors were extra chilly certainly required bucketfuls of it. Not that these Scottish summers were much better.
I peered through my long lashes and scowled when I saw the baby blue eyes of my blonde veela best friend staring back at me.
“Why are you still lounging around in a towel?” Dominique Weasley sighed. “We’re supposed to be in the carriages in a half an hour and most of your stuff is still out of the trunk.”
“You’re supposed to offer me smelling salts or some such, not a kick in the ribs.” I muttered and tinkered with the rug’s tassels. “You didn’t even ask if I hurt myself. What kind of friend does that?”
“Har har. Would a pair of your dirty socks do?” Dom had rummaged through my trunk, dived under the bed in a search of missing items and now dangled particularly ugly pair of Christmas socks in front of my nose.
“Urgh, take those away from me. They smell like barf.”
“That’s probably because it’s exactly right conclusion, sweetie. Remember the New Year’s party? Oh yes, you probably won’t. Those have been under your bed ever since. Even the house elves won’t voluntarily touch them.”
Dom threw the socks to a bin and gave me encouraging smile. Then she fished a relatively clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt from the trunk and put those on my bed.
“Why don’t you be a good girl and put some clothes on. Unless you want to go back home bare arsed.”
I hate when she makes sense. So I blew her a raspberry. Just because I could. What able-minded sixth year nearing their seventeenth birthday and approaching adulthood wouldn’t roll around floors in a towel and make faces to their friends? Dom has already reached the magical age which requires occasional sagacity, but I will rebel against it as long as I can.
The impending doom will hit me in a month or so. Until then, the adulthood can kiss my smooth behind.
I got up, locked myself into the bathroom and shrugged myself into the clothes. Then I took a another look into the mirror. No change. I had hoped that my memory had failed me this once, but the pink horror was still there. Sigh. What a way to begin summer hols.
Dom was still waiting for me when I got back to our dorm room. She has a patience rivaling saints that one. Her blonde locks were pulled back, a crisp white shirt with cute eyelets and pale blue shorts that showed long legs were chosen meticulously this morning. Only a firm grip on a nail file betrayed her nerves.
We couldn’t be much more different really. I was a loud and overdramatic tomboy in rumpled jeans. She was a half French babe with preppy clothes and cool demeanor. But we had met when we were old enough to fly on toy broomsticks and had kept the united front ever since.
Even now she was too kind to mention my most recent catastrophe, the mop of hair that flamingos would attack come the mating season.
I fumbled the wand from my jeans pocket and with flicks, that would make any wizard proud, dumped the rest of my belongings into my trunk. Our dear Charms professor, Mr.Beamish, would say that what my wand usage lacked in finesse, I compensated with enthusiasm. Not sure if it was a compliment though.
Maybe I could ask Dom’s mum to do something about the hair situation. She was a kind hearted woman who with French efficiency could fix any mess and look chic while doing it. My parents were busy tackling a Gringott’s crisis somewhere in Asia. So I was looking forward to spend a summer with Dom and her family in their cottage on the coast.
We ran like the wind towards the train. People were closing the doors by the time we got to the station, but with a last spurt that left my lungs somewhere in the dust behind us, we caught the last carriage before it left the station. Even Dom’s usual coolness had dissipated, as we stumbled into the first free compartment. Our legs were bruised from hauling the trunks to the train.
“By Merlin, what you’ve got in that trunk?” I asked her when my lungs finally started working properly. “Rocks? Giant squid? It weighed like a ton.”
She blew a lock away from her eyes and blushed furiously. I stared at her like it was the first encounter with foreign species. Dom never blushed. Never. It just didn’t compute.
“I hope you are not trying to smuggle one Scamander twin in there? Your maman wouldn’t like that one.” It was a shot in the dark, but from her eyes I saw that it hit pretty close to the target. What in Merlin’s name have those two blonde gits done?
“Of course not,” Dom said, but her voice wasn’t quite right. I swore as it finally dawned to me.
“Please tell me, that we’re not hauling some odd creature all the way to Cornwall as a favor to them?”
The Scamander brothers shared their parents’ interest in magizoology. Unfortunately. As unfortunately, they had a habit to try to save all the magical creatures known to wizardkind. Now there wasn’t any doubt in my mind, that Lysander could get Dom to promise just about anything with a little peck on a cheek. He was her weakness. And the boy knew it too darn well. With this notion, it was more than probable that we were hauling something that was either dangerous or illegal to transport without a clearance from the Ministry of Magic.
Dom looked me with wide blue eyes. The confirmation was right there. I sighed and looked warily at her trunk that was propped besides the window. It and my own one took together most of the floor space. For once I felt like the older one of us.
“Do you even know what kind of creature it is?” Dom shrugged and we sat down to old, well-worn benches. I sighed once more. Yep. We were in a deep doo-doo.
“Are you nuts?” I asked her, just as the door to our compartment opened.
“Of course she is.” Two tall boys stepped in. The speaker had black hair and emerald green eyes, other one had blonde hair similar to Dom’s. Albus Potter and Dom’s baby brother Louis. More affectionately known as double pains in an arse.
“Wow, what a hair colour, McLaggen! Are you trying to apply for a summer job as a lighthouse light? Since that can sure be seen miles away.” Louis snickered as he stared at my pink mane.
“Thank you, Louis Weasley. How nice of you.” I flipped him off.
“The more pressing question is, what took you so long to realize Dom’s state of mind?” Louis drawled and leaned against the door frame. His aquamarine eyes searched mine and crinkled with amusement.
“If you think that Dom is off her rocker, then you must realize, that since you share the same genes, it means the two of you must be equally cracking.” I mused to Louis and Albus and raised my eyebrow. Albus was Dom’s and Louis’s cousin after all. If you ask me, the whole Weasley-Potter clan was pretty much bonkers anyways.
“No, that’s just Dom. The rest of us are pretty much normal. Except Victoire. But she’s their sister,” Albus said. “Mate, I guess it means that every female in your family is a nutter. Good luck with that.” He poked Louis with a glee.
“Like yours is any better,” Louis commented. “Does Lily still collect corkscrews?” That shut Albus right up.
“So what’s up, sis?” Count Louis the meddlesome Ravenclaw to notice that something was bit off.
Dom grimaced. Last thing we needed was two fifth year Claws, who were far too bright for their own good, to butt in when we had to decide what to do with a mysterious critter residing in our luggage.
This called immediate diversion tactics. Luckily we had perfected some over the years. When we were kids, the diversion was needed so we could slip out for a cone of ice cream without Louis knowing. In later years it was needed for moonlight dates with muggle boys and midnight skinny dips.
“Tam doesn’t want to go buy Bertie Bott’s every flavour beans from the trolley with me. You know how she hates those after she ate the one that tasted like haggis.” Dom whined to her brother and her cousin. I shuddered from the thought of reliving the haggis flavour. I heaved for hours after that one. It had turned out, that I really didn’t like boiled sheep’s intestines.
“I’ll come with you,” Albus offered. “I’m still trying to find Fulbert the Fearful from the chocolate frog cards.”
Dom got up and before she vanished after Albus, she looked worriedly at her trunk and tried to signal me to get rid of her little brother. As if she didn’t know, that the bugger could be very persistent.
I tried to look like there wasn’t a care in the world and got a Fifi LaFolle book out of my bag. That’s a sure way to get rid off any unwanted boys. Just read a romance novel and they scamper to the hills. Louis watched my bustling with interest. The boy clearly couldn’t take a hint.
“You know, you can stop pretending to read,” he said after a while and sat down across of me.
Sometime during the winter he had filled out rather nicely. Not that I was staring or anything. But that checkered shirt looked quite lovely on him. Brought out the eyes. Or toned shoulders. Couldn’t decide which. Still, definitely not the same scrawny git he was last autumn.
“I’m not pretending.” Or so I would like you to believe.
“I have two sisters who do exactly same thing when I’m not wanted company.” He peered through his lashes and smiled to me.
I put the book down as nonchalantly as possible. The trunks were still between us. What to do with the trunks? Louis was a prefect. Smuggling the critters out of Hogwarts was a big no-no as far as school authorities were concerned. I bit my lip and pondered the dilemma.
Louis interpreted my thoughts totally wrong. The hours of Fleur Weasley’s lectures about good manners had finally taken root.
“I can lift those for you,” he said and grabbed the handle of my trunk.
“No, no, it’s okay. I quite like them there,” I countered hurriedly and jumped in front of the other trunk. There was no hope in hell that my skinny arse would keep him away from Dom’s belongings. But I tried.
“Really, it’s no trouble at all,” he insisted and lifted mine to the hat rack with ease.
I sat on top of Dom’s trunk. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to sit here the rest of the trip. The handle was pressing rather uncomfortably against my tush. But what a best friend wouldn’t do to save the other, when the said friend had mucked up in such a glorious way and then ran off to satisfy her sugar cravings.
“Are you going to move? Or should I lift you to the hat rack too?” Louis asked and his eyebrow arched as he took in my weird choice of seating. I shook my head as an answer.
His eyes looked up and down of me with the interest that I doubted was because of the trunk underneath me. My cheeks started to redden. Darn it. It was just Louis Weasley, the prat and my best friend’s little brother. Just not so little anymore.
He was clearly amused by the situation. I was perched on top of the ugly luggage and apparently he thought it was somehow ...hot? Weird kid that one.
Louis walked in front of me and grabbed the corner of the trunk. His hand rested just beside my thigh. Not exactly touching it. He looked deep into my grey eyes and I leaned away against the window as my breath started to hitch. This really wasn’t what I had in my mind. Just keeping the luggage nice and secure. Not any Veela trickery, which he was undoubtedly using. Why was it so hot in here anyways?
“So what’s it going to be, Tam?” His voice had dropped to more deeper tone and I had the inkling that he was really talking about something totally different than what the words implied.
He was challenging me. Choose or lose, kid. But what? The trunk or the dignity. Or did he mean kiss or not to kiss? My mind was short circuiting here.
I made a decision and slid off the trunk. Louis lifted it on the rack with a thud. Then there was a sloshing sound and a faint hiss from inside of it. His eyes went wide.
“What the hell?” He exclaimed.
So I grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed him.
A/N: Hello! This is my little summer story! I hope you will enjoy it! What did you think about the beginning? The kiss? The mysterious critter in the trunk? The worst dye job in the wizarding history? Let me know. ;)
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