Chapter 1 : Reasons Why Not
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"But Dad..." the whine was repeated several more times, but still Neville Longbottom paid no attention whatsoever towards it. As they made their way down the corridor, Alice trailed behind him, despite knowing it was hopeless but all the same thinking that she wasn’t losing anything by trying. "But Dad..." Lily Potter trailed after the other girl, making a face as she heard the whine again and pulling on her friend’s sleeve.
"Alice, leave Neville alone," she sighed with a shake of her head. "We’ve got better things to do. We’ve still got that Transfig assigment for Professor Bridge, remember?"
Alice glowered at her interruption. "Since when have you become such a goody-good, Lils?" she snapped. Lily turned red and shut her mouth, eyes narrowing at Alice. "Exactly. You can go start on the assignment if you want, but I need to talk to Dad."
Lily sighed once more. "Oh, alright, but don’t say I didn’t warn you..." She let that sentence trail off as she walked away, and both Alice and her father pretended not to notice the many pairs of eyes following her. It was best not to speak about it – Neville had tried once, and that had been one hell of an awkward experience.
"Dad," Alice tried one more time. "Please. I promise I won’t get into anymore trouble." Professor Longbottom finally frowned, turning to look at his daughter. Alice had her mother’s eyes, and a combination of her parents’ hair, making it a wispy light brown shade that she hated. She had cut it up to her shoulders last year, and wore it in a ponytail often. She was practically the image of him.
"Alice..." He didn’t know what to say to her, to lessen the blow. "You have to understand, that’s what you told me last time, too. Don’t you remember what happened?" Alice looked at the ground, dejected.
"No one got hurt," she reminded him. "Just –"
"Severely embarassed?" he finished for her. "Ali, honey, I know it’s hard for you..."
Alice sniffled sadly, turning away from him. "Fine," she mumbled. "Fine. I’ll leave you alone. I’ve got an assignment due on Monday anyway..." However, Professor Longbottom couldn’t bear to see his only daughter so upset by just one little thing. He inhaled deeply, wondering if he was going to regret his decision.
"Oh, Alice, you do my head in sometimes, but okay. Your detention is rescheduled to Monday afternoon, you understand? Don’t miss it again. Don’t make me regret giving in." Alice’s face lit up in sheer delight, and she wrapped her arms around her father.
"Oh, thank you, thank you! I promise you won’t regret it, I really, really do." It didn’t matter what she promised, he regretted it already.
The tinkling silvery voice of the bronze eagle knocker was the one that greeted Alice when she finally reached Ravenclaw Tower in search of her best friend.
"What is lighter than air, and yet a million men can’t lift it?" The knocker asked, and Alice’s eyes widened in surprise and a bit of disappointment. She had been hoping for a harder one.
"A bubble," she informed it, and the door swung open, revealing Lily in the centre of the common room, working diligently on the Transfiguration assignment due tomorrow. Many people were surprised when the youngest of the Wotter Clan was sorted into Ravenclaw. Alice wasn’t. Lily was witty, independent, extraordinarily clever and the biggest procastinator she had ever met in her entire life.
"Alice!" Lily’s grin stretched from ear-to-ear as she stood up to greet her best friend, momentarily abandoning her homework in order to do so. "What did your Dad say?"
"Oh, he said yes," Alice answered nonchalantly, as if it didn’t matter a bit what her father thought. Lily’s eyes widened, and her face paled almost comically. Alice raised an eyebrow innocently, trying to hide her grin.
"Alice, you’re my best friend and I love you, but please say you’re kidding!" The brunette merely shook her head and bit her lip to hide her laugh, looking down at the ground. Lily sighed wearily. "Oh, you’ll be the death of me someday, you know – do I really have any choice in the matter?"
"Nope!" Alice said cheerfully, grabbing her friend by the hand and dragging her back out their Common Room. "Come on, Lils! Where’s your sense of fun gone?"
"Back with my Transfiguration homework," Lily deadpanned and Alice rolled her eyes at the redhead fondly. This was typical to how the two girls usually reacted when Alice had done something ‘bad’ – Lily would protest, moan and groan but still go along with it, and Alice would do her best, and succeed, to drag Lily into it. Alice was the sole reason Lily had so many detentions, but even without her the redhead was a little too cheeky for her own good.
Lily trailed after Alice, defeated, as the other girl cheerfully went along the corridor, whistling at her good fortune. Not one person who passed the pair had the mind to ask what on earth was going on – the students of Hogwarts were too used to the strange minds of people like Lily and Alice. So when Alice froze in her delight of having escaped the clutches of detention, Lily had no idea what to think.
"Erm, Alice..?" The end of Lily’s statement was met with a harsh "Shh!" from her best friend, and Lily clamped her mouth shut with a "Hmph!" She hated it when Alice did things like this, stop for no reason at all and expect her to know that reason.
"Look!" Alice hissed eventually, pointing to the end of the corridor where a group of people were gathered, and Lily’s jaw dropped as she noticed a certain man in particular. Now, the wait was worth it.
"He’s gorgeous," she whispered back to Alice in awe. Even the dingy light of the corridor made the young man’s hair shine like spun gold, and warm eyes twinkled with laughter. He was a whole inch taller than the man he was standing next to – and the man was a fully-grown adult – and yet was listening attentively to an older man who was nattering on and on and on about who-knows-what.
"I know, right?" Alice whispered, eyes wide with wonder. How could anyone that handsome work for old people? Or, at least, that’s how she saw it in her fifteen-year-old brain. "What do you think he’s doing here?"
"What do you think you’re doing here?" another voice interrupted, male, this time, with a tinge of amusement but mostly disapproval. "Spying on the Ministry workers?" Alice and Lily whipped around to meet two pairs of eyes – one bright green, accompanied with two raised eyebrows, and one hazel-brown, lit up with laughter.
"Hey, Sophia," Lily said, acknowledging the girl first. "How have you been? Finally dating someone, yet?" Sophia Clarke raised an eyebrow so that the expression on her face was eerily identical to that of her companion.
"And who, pray tell, would I be dating, Lily?" she asked sweetly, despite knowing the answer already, and Alice decided that this was the perfect moment to pipe in with her own thoughts.
"Al or Reese," she said cheekily, shrugging innocently when Albus Potter glared at her for even bringing him up. "Take your pick." Sophia’s mouth clamped shut, but still she rolled her eyes. Lily and Alice had been trying for years to set her up with at least one of the two, and now that they were in their seventh year pretty much the whole school had gotten in on it.
"Anyway –" Sophia started in a half-hearted attempt to distract the girls from her love life, nudging Albus with her elbow and nodding over at the small group of men in a circle, the blonde one that the two younger girls had been admiring in particular. "Can you really blame them, Al? He’s fit." Albus rolled his eyes at her, frowning, and Lily and Alice high-fived quietly while the pair are occupied.
"Well, you’re going to need a whole lot more than –" His eyes scanned the girls, and when his eyes passed over Sophia, she gave an indignant ‘hmph!’. Albus cleared his throat. "Well, if you want his attention, you’re going to need something big."
"Yeah," Sophia agreed, frowning at her friend, probably wondering what he was up to. Alice and Lily were wondering the same thing. "Something massive – like, like, um..." She glanced at Albus for help, and he chuckled at his own thoughts.
"Like making it rain or snow or hail or something inside the Great Hall!" he offered, laughing. Sophia grinned, and joined in with the bizarre suggestions to get the Ministry worker’s attention.
"Or start a food fight! Now that would be a sight."
"Or you could use a stink bomb!"
"Seriously, Al, that would stink. I prefer the Self-Exploding Slime Balls, you know, the new ones from your uncle’s shop?"
"That reminds me – give them a box of chocolates filled with Howlers!"
"I’d hate to be your poor visitors from the Ministry. What if you placed a charm on the door which makes all of their trousers disappear – every single one of them, too, even the old ones –"
"Moving on, Soph. Wait, got one! Lure them into Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom!"
"You sound like you’ve got experience. Enchant a suit of armour to follow them, maybe?"
"Or use a love potion and make them fall in love with Evora or Longbottom or each other!"
"Okay, okay, we get it," Lily interrupted, pouting. It was obvious to Lily and Alice that Albus and Sophia were teasing them with their crush on the young Ministry visitor, even though Sophia was fond of him too, and she had had enough of it. "There’s no way in hell he would ever even look at us."
Albus tapped her on the nose, winking. "And you better remember that, Lils. C’mon, Soph, we’ve had enough bonding time with my little sis and her friend."
Lily glared at her brother’s retreating back and yelled after him, "I’m not little!" She turned back to Alice, frowning, probably to tell the other girl why her brother was so annoying and how could he drag poor Sophia to the dark side, but the look on Alice’s face stopped her.
"Alice?" Lily asked, fearing for her academic life and sanity. Alice’s plans were only known to be crazy and impossible, not worth while, foolproof or detention-free. She had a right to be worried. Alice looked back at her with a wicked smile on her face and a gleam in her eye.
"Lily, I’ve got a plan."
"This is mad, this is mad, this is mad," Lily chanted to herself again and again as she watched Alice unwrap the cough potion, severely grating on the other girl’s nerves. They were now in one of the many unused classrooms in the castle, accompanied with potions and a cauldron.
"It is not mad," Alice said crossly. "A seventh year suggested it, didn’t he?" Lily wrung her hands in despair.
"That seventh year was my brother!" she cried hysterically, and Alice rolled her eyes while shushing her hastily. They had to be quiet, that much she knew. She held up the shining red bottle to the light, examining the label with an air of suspicion. "Five minute delivery. Lily, you don’t think –"
"Come on, Alice, Fred and Uncle George are family," Lily said immediately, dismissing the mere thought of it. "But, I must warn you, even though this Heartbreak Teardrops bottle is the strongest of the WonderWitch line – and that’s a guarantee, by the way – it won’t be as strong as say, Amortentia."
Alice waved her hand airily. "We don’t want Amortentia, and you’re good at Potions. You can make it at least a little bit stronger, right?" Lily frowned, obviously wondering if she should really use her just-a-little-bit-above-average skills at Potions to participate in this. But Alice was her friend, and she really did like that boy – man – whatever.
"Right," she said a little weakly, in Alice’s opinion. "Give me that bottle, I’ve warmed up a cauldron already – oh, and I think there’s some Strengthening Solution in my bag. I almost got caught nicking that thing from Professor Abbey’s stores." As Alice handed her the two bottles, she was glad they had decided to remake the potion in one of the abandoned Potions classrooms, and not in the dungeons, where they would have already been caught by now. She, for one, liked to think she learned from her mistakes.
"Isn’t Strengthening Solution for humans?" she inquired a little nervously as she watched Lily pour it in the cauldron. The redhead frowned as she thought about it.
"Well, it is," she agreed, stirring it. "But so is this love potion, and it’s the only thing I could think of – and anyway, I went to too much trouble nicking it, and it’s already mixed in. Too late, now." Alice frowned some more, but she trusted Lily’s Potion skills. They would get that Ministry worker’s attention even if it killed them.
"Alice, do you mind not breathing down my neck?" Lily snapped finally a while later, breaking the awkward silence that had settled. Her nerves were getting to her, and Alice knew that, but still she huffed indignantly.
"Well, excuse me for being curious –" Her worst fears were confirmed when a shadow – no, multiple shadows – passed the door, and the footsteps and shadows were getting suspiciously close to the door. "Lily! Red alert, red alert! Duck down, now!"
"But the potion –" Lily protested weakly, half-wanting to get caught so they didn’t have to go through with this, but Alice was insistent and pulled her down despite her protests. They held their breaths, hoping against hope that the smoke coming from the still steaming cauldron wouldn’t be seen, hoping that the Ministry workers wouldn’t come in here to discuss something in private. It seemed like they had been crouched under that table for an age before the last footsteps finally faded.
"That was close," Alice said, once she caught her breath.
Lily nodded, and said, "That was too close. It isn’t safe here. We need to go somewhere else."
Alice leaned over the now bubbling cauldron, and then her eyes shot back up to Lily. "Isn’t it finished, yet?"
Lily hesitated. It was pretty much done, but now they were supposed to let it simmer for a bit before bottling it – she was thinking they might have to let it simmer for a bit longer, since the smoke coming from it only a couple of minutes ago might have altered it somehow, but Alice would have found a way to persuade her otherwise, so she agreed.
"Yeah, I’ll just bottle it now." Lily put the stopper in, and held the bottle up to the light again. Still bubbles like the ones in honey were the first things that caught her eye, and she wondered if it was supposed to do that. "Alice..." Her best friend turned back to her, in the middle of going back across the room to open the door. A random cauldron in an empty Potions classroom wouldn’t be noticed – it was abandoned, after all.
"Yeah?" Lily hesitated again, and she hated herself for it. She shook her head, dismissing whatever she had been thinking about.
"Nothing, nothing. We better go, or we won’t make it down to the kitchens in time to put the potion in their drinks." Alice eyed her friend curiously. When Lily noticed something, it was usually something significant, but if she dismissed it then maybe it was okay. Maybe. Probably.
Dinner came eventually, and Lily and Alice found themselves seated at the end of Ravenclaw table closest to the staff table, where the professors and Ministry workers were seated, waiting for the outcome of their prank. At first, there was just the clink of forks and spoons and knives against plates, the low hum of chatter in the background, and the occasional burst of laughter. And then came the swooning.
"Oh, Tilly, my love for you shines brighter than the brightest stars!" the eldest Ministry worker crooned, to none other than the Headmistress. "Nothing in the world could make it shine brighter!"
"Stars are balls of gas!" Lily hissed, frowning. Never one for romance, she had never understood the metaphors.
Alice rolled her eyes at her. "Well, they still give off light, don’t they?"
"That’s not romantic!"
"Come away with me, dear Filly!" the shortest man whispered loudly to Flitwick. "Let’s bathe in roses with candles and eat chocolate together! And then we can watch the stars under the shade of the elm trees, and you can do what you do best." Accompanied with a wiggling of the eyebrows, it made the two girls shudder.
"Let me help you with your food, Nev," the tallest said to Longbottom, grabbing the spoon, licking from it himself, and then putting it back onto the plate. Alice turned a little green in the face.
"Ooh-er, Maddie!" None other than Adonis himself – Alice, a Greek Mythology lover, had dubbed him this, much to Lily’s displeasure – was cooing lightly to Professor Bridge, also one of the youngest of the current staff. "Let’s run away together, living away from the harshness of the world! These pesky children are doing nothing for your beauty!"
"Excuse me?" she squawked indignantly, but that was just the start of it.
"Mathias, oh, Mathias!" One of the Ministry workers was down on his knees in front of the other. "Marry me, my love? I’ll take you away from your worst nightmares!"
"I’m in love with Julius!" the one named Mathias said firmly, taking another by the hand and planting a kiss upon it. "And there’s nothing even Merlin could do that will change my mind!"
"What is the meaning of this?" Professor Knight of Ancient Runes rose from the table, fire in her eyes as she tried to look for the culprit, eagle-eyed gaze scanning the House tables.
"Evora!" Filch burst through the doors, past the tables with the slack-jawed and guffawing students. "Lookie here what I found! A cauldron in an empty classroom!" Alice’s eyes widened, and they shot to Lily accusingly. Of course she would forget to take the cauldron. Of course she would. Lily’s face burned red. Filch proudly turned the cauldron upside-down, and inscribed on the bottom in neat, flowing letters easily recognisable were Lily L. Potter. Wide eyes, some filled with admiration, some with curiousity, some accompanied by raised eyebrows shot to Lily instantly.
"Longbottom, Potter, detention," Headmistress Evora said calmly, all the while fending off her potential suitor, "for the rest of the month. Pulling a stunt like this! Did you even bother thinking about how this will reflect on the school, and the Ministry?" Lily and Alice’s mouths were clamped shut. There was no evidence of Alice helping Lily, but it was obvious Lily could never have done this on her own.
"Professor, it wasn’t just them," a voice piped up, and at the Hufflepuff table, Sophia stood, but not before shooting Alice and Lily an exasperated glance. "I gave them the idea."
A snort from Albus at the Slytherin table interrupted her. "Please, Soph. We both gave them the idea."
Evora shook her head with a sigh. "Well, then! Dorms, all of you. Twenty points each from your respective houses." With one last shake of her head, as the doors shut behind the four of them, the last thing Alice heard was, "I’m getting too old for this job."
The following Monday afternoon at their detention, Alice pouted at the line she was supposed to write, but she was the only one. Sophia, Albus and Lily just got on with it.
A/N: Bah! Those last lines! Anyways, this was for Rylan (LiveLarge or Live Life Large), for her challenge. Sorry for taking so long, dear! Hope you guys liked it, and reviews are extremely appreciated! :)
majorly edited 27/12/13.
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