Chapter 4 : Casual Fun
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Image Credit: tina.loves @ TDA
As a kid (I shouldn’t say kid, but I guess youngster might work because it’s not like I’m an adult now or anything), I enjoyed the train to Hogwarts because the hustle and bustle of the station always amused me. I liked seeing the different people all crowded together and how flustered everyone got while in a hurry. I for one was never one to feel rushed before the train left. My main purpose being there was to always scope out my friends and find the next victims for my pra… I mean ‘other acquaintances’.
However, my patience with the hordes of families at platform 9¾ has dwindled down to plain annoyance and frustration. Why couldn’t these people move along faster? Why do these parents have to farewell to their children as if they’re sending them away forever? And most importantly, why do all the owls manage to simultaneously hoot and holler together at the most bothersome pitch and volume? Perhaps my annoyance with the train to Hogwarts has just increased because I’m getting older, but I’m not 25 or some old age like that. So I’ll just blame this on my family’s earlier ignorance of my needs… as usual.
Entering the platform is like entering into a manic beehive where the amount of bees have increased but the beehive has shrunk. I instinctively began to zig-zag my way through the enormous amount of people, like a fish going upstream. I was making so much ground and feeling really accomplished, until out of nowhere, an owl flew overhead. Now the classic tale would be that the owl would poop on me, but no, not this time. It perched itself on my head and I held in every urge to scream at the top of my lungs. I slowly turned around to see a lone first year with his mouth wide open along with his bird cage.
“Get your stupid bird off of my head right now, or I’ll end you,” I said emphasizing every word, making sure to look directly into the first year’s eyes. A small amount of silence followed that made me think the bird would either dig its talons into my head or defecate all over my hair… or both. Either way, it wouldn’t end well if this first year didn’t hurry up.
“Uh sure,” the first year cautiously uttered as he took a dead mouse out of one of his pockets, “come on Fynex, come here.” I could feel the owl tense up on my head and then swoop down gracefully from its perch on my head to the hand of the first year. I had never been more relieved, until I looked into my jacket pocket to find the owl had left me a lovely, liquid and rancid gift.
“You’re lucky I don’t know your name, but I suggest you get out of my sight before I change my mind on sparing your life!” I yelled at the first year as he made his swift escape.
Great, now my jacket was ruined and I had wasted time which I would normally use to find my friends. I took the jacket off, making sure to not stain myself anymore and placed it strategically on my suitcases. When I looked up, I found my mum and dad waving for me to come over to them. Albus and Lily weren’t in sight so I assume they were already on the train, those lucky bums. Unfortunately, after the hassle with the owl, I was left this year without any time to find my yearly train prank victims and with probably no time to find a good seat.
I started waving bye to my parents to save myself a little time, but they started to approach me. Talking to my parents about how I should behave at Hogwarts was my least favourite conversation, and I really did not want to speak to them. I guess my waving, huge grin and my inching towards the train didn’t seem to connect in their brains so I was left with no choice.
“I SAID LAST NIGHT WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WOULD EVER DO THAT ME!” I shouted at the top of my lungs with my hands cupped around my mouth to amplify the sound. The whole platform literally went silent and you could have heard a pin drop. The other families began to look in confusion and shock towards me and my parents who were now frozen in place. The disbelief on their faces appeared almost permanent, but this was my chance.
I grabbed my bags and trunks and packed them into the train. Leaving the trolley outside, I jumped into an open door of the train and it shut right behind me. I could hear the engine start and the puff of steam shoot out of the train as it began its journey. I quickly ran towards a window to see if my parents were still there and when they locked eyes with me, they just shook their heads in anger. I could see them trying to convince the crowd they had done nothing wrong so I decided it was time for me to find a cabin and my friends. And it was the perfect excuse to get away from them. I made sure to yell to get everyone’s attention, I left the claim open ended and up to interpretation and it was enough to shock the spectators and my own parents. In my opinion, that was a job well done… and hey, my parents will get over it sooner or later, they have to.
The train smelled of sweat and it was probably from the amount of people zooming by, packed like sardines. All the faces seemed unfamiliar and rather young. Maybe they let in a lot more first years this time around and that prospect terrified me. Those runts were annoying and if I remember the owl on my head from earlier, they weren’t very intelligent either. Oh well, to look on the bright side I guess there were more victims to terrorize now. The more the merrier.
“James! JAMES!” I turned around to the sound of my name and was greeted by the sight of none other than my cousin and best friend, Fred Weasley. He was frantically waving at me, a boyish grin on his face and a wicked gleam in his eyes. The last time I had seen Fred was... well that was when Uncle George and my dad had given us ‘the talk’. I shuddered at the memory of that and pulled my trunk towards Fred and his very happy self.
“Sup Fredster?” I asked happily. Fred was one of my favourite people. He was fun, always happy and not to mention, loved to pull pranks. On top of that, he was also my cousin which made him more awesome. We shared the same blood for Merlin’s sake; if one of us was awesome, both of us were. But then again, we also shared the same blood as our cousin Molly who was a downright prude. We all blame it on Uncle Percy. He’s the boring one in the family and he passed on those genes to his daughter Molly. Thankfully, Molly’s sister Lucy takes from her mother. I don’t think I could bear the thought of having more than one fun-killing kid in our family. It just wasn’t right.
“The usual...” Fred replied his sentence trailing off for a dramatic finish. “Planning a prank!” We both finished together. Fred and I shared a high five as he led me down the train. I could only imagine we were heading towards the compartment Fred was in seeing as he had no trunks of his own. The lucky bastard didn’t get attacked by an owl and was happily set up on the train. I suppose I should have been grateful that at least someone had saved a seat for me.
“So Fred, any ideas in mind?” I grinned.
“Of course! What do you think of water balloons?” Fred asked mischievously.
“Brilliant! It’s so simple yet sounds highly effective. Nice work Freddy!” I said clapping him on the back. Fred just beamed at my approval. That was the thing with me and Fred. We were close enough that we trusted each other with everything. I know what you’re thinking. This kind of sounds a bit girly but nope, it is nothing of the sort. Fred and I are both quite manly. Very manly in fact. So manly that we both shave and fart and burp. Yep, there’s manliness for you. But anyway, back to the approval. It is extremely important to both of us. I swear we’re meant to be twins or something. We’re basically the same person in different bodied. I’d say that one of our parents’ had given us to the other but the problem is, Fred and I look nothing alike. Stupid genes. It would be so much cooler calling Fred my brother than Albus.
“Why thank you dear James,” he said with another wide grin. Fred opened the door of the compartment in front of us and I was met with the beaming faces of my dorm mates: Alfie Longbottom, Duke Witty and Jonathan Evans.
“Finally, you found James. Hiding from us?” Duke asked as I put my trunk above us and sat down in the seat next to him.
“More like hiding from his parents...” Alfie replied with a grin.
“You heard that?”
“James, everyone heard that,” Johnny pointed out. “You were so loud that the train went quiet for a few moments. Are you sure that you didn’t use sonorus to make your voice louder?”
I knew he was joking around but Johnny had this way of being serious even when he wasn’t serious. It was a little confusing at times but I learned to get used to it. Besides, I’m very good at knowing when he’s joking and when he’s being serious. Ok, most of the time I can get it. I’ve always been afraid that one day, someone will think Johnny is joking and make a huge deal out of something he says and then Johnny will just snap because he can’t take it. Don’t get me wrong, Johnny is not the psychopathic type who explodes like that; it’s just my mind that’s a wee bit too active. Hey, at least I keep my thoughts to myself... most of them anyway.
“I was going to get the ‘you better behave yourself in school this year mister’ talk and I thought that if I avoided it, I technically couldn’t be blamed for not following through with that since I never promised in the first place,” I said cheekily.
See, my idea was pure genius. I wasn’t going to disappoint because no one had made me promise to behave. I swear my parents just set themselves up for disappointment. How can they expect me to not get in trouble? I am James Sirius Potter, bitch. Not that I would ever say that to my parents but I think you catch my drift. It’s like they don’t know me at all. Since the minute I was born, I was wreaking havoc. When I took my first breath, I swear I did it knowing that my purpose in life was to entertain and be a self renowned trouble maker. So far, I think I’m doing a pretty fine job at completing my life’s purpose.
“Nice James. You still know that they can owl you it though right?” Johnny asked cocking an eyebrow. Dammit. Damn Johnny and his ability to point out the flaws. I guess my plan wasn’t as genius as I thought it would be.
“Shit, I didn’t think of that,” I said frowning slightly. Just slightly because in reality, I didn’t care. I got the lecture every year and every year, I would do the same thing: get in trouble. I think my parents have gotten more owls from the Headmistress than they have gotten from me. It’s a bit sad really but I suppose they would just have to live with it.
“Of course you didn’t...” he said sighing but an unfaltering grin still present on his face.
“Shouldn’t you be in your Prefects meeting or something?” Fred asked coming to my rescue. Bless his soul.
“You got made a Prefect? Nice one Johnny boy!” I said with an amused look on my face. I didn’t think any of us would have gotten made Prefects but it had to be someone from our year and house and the only guy I could think of that was remotely close to being mature was Johnny. So it really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
“Nope. It’s not until later,” he said addressing Fred, “and yes I did,” he said addressing me.
“I hope this doesn’t affect you too much. We can’t have our local genius off being a goody two-shoes,” I said jokingly.
“Yes, that would be a shame wouldn’t it? Then who would help you perfect your pranks?” Johnny asked with a tone of amusement. We all burst into laughter and Duke started the topic of summer.
All thoughts of how my genius plan sort of failed were forgotten and I launched into a full on explanation of how my summer was. For a while, each of us took turns telling the others about our summers and sharing our experiences. Alfie had been sent to live with his great grandmother for the summer. His parents hoped that this would teach him something seeing as the old lady was tough and strict. Trust me, I’ve met her. She’s scary. She gives Great (great) Aunt Muriel a run for her money. Why were old ladies so mean? They always carried around those small purses that you thought held candy and used canes because they looked so frail but when someone so much as laughed a little too loudly in front of them, the cane and the purse became beating tools. But even that wasn’t enough to change Alfie Longbottom. No one was surprised though. He was Alfie and the only way he was going to change his ways was if he chose to do it himself. Only for him.
Duke visited family in Australia and Johnny had gone on vacation with his parents to some remote island. His parents were magizoologists who were studying some type of bird. They were pretty boring people, even Johnny admitted to that but they were pretty laid back too which I suppose is cool. Sometimes, I wish my parents were as laid back as his but then again, I don’t think I could deal with them being boring. I liked loud and my parents were definitely loud. They can’t exactly blame me for being that way since I do get the loud genes from them. Is that even hereditary?
I hadn’t seen my friends – with the exception of Fred – all summer thanks to their not being here but we were on our way back to school and there was no stopping us from being together now. Our talks of summer came to an end and we went back to our favourite topic of pranks. Of course, we had to pull some sort of a stunt in the train. It was the best time to do something without getting in trouble AND no one expected anything on their way to Hogwarts. The ickle first years were the best targets. Scaring the little buggers was quite amusing and satisfying. They always gave the same reaction: panicked faces, shrieks and cries for help and sometimes, they would even go as far as to hyperventilate. I’m not one to pick on little girls but I had to admit, they were the ones with the best reactions. Girls were just easy to scare I suppose. Most of them anyway.
Fred’s water balloon idea was popular amongst us all. We agreed wholeheartedly. And, Fred had come prepared. I loved the guy even more now. I could just give him a hug. A very manly hug mind you. The ones where you slap the other guy on the back. Yeah, they hurt sometimes but hey, man-hugs weren’t supposed to be all soft and squishy and enjoyable. Since we were on the train and on our way to Hogwarts, we got away with using magic to fill our balloons. Technically, it was still against the rules but everyone did it. We went a whole summer without using magic. Who cared if we used it for a few hours? We were on our way to a zone where magic was accepted anyway! Soon enough, each one of us was carrying a huge pile of balloons in our arms.
“Ow Fred, you stepped on my feet,” Duke yelled as we all got up simultaneously.
“Sorry, I can see with all these balloons in my arms. They’re blocking my line of vision!” Fred complained.
“Merlin, Fred, you did it again!” Duke said even louder this time.
But before Fred could respond, Alfie cut in. “Why didn’t we just levitate them?” We just stood there flabbergasted at our stupidity and no one said anything until Alfie took action and levitated his pile of balloons. We followed suite, still a little confused but that moment of stupidity was soon forgotten.
“Where’s our target?” I asked looking down the train. It was basically only one line so it couldn’t be too hard to find someone to throw the balloons at but at the moment, I was having some difficulty choosing someone.
“There!” Alfie pointed to a lost looking first year boy who was nervously talking to a first year girl. They were both blushing and seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. Ah, young love. Too bad we were going to ruin it for them.
“Perfect,” I muttered with an evil grin.
“Can I have the honours?” Fred asked pouting a little. None of us could deny Fred when he pulled that ridiculous face on us and our laughter was enough of a ‘go ahead’ for him. Without a moment of hesitation Fred pointed his wand at four of his balloons and made them float towards the two youngsters. Two for each. Perfect. One for initial shock and another to rub it in. The balloons hovered over their heads and they were so absorbed in talking to one another that the poor suckers didn’t even notice them. Bless their hearts.
“I’M ALL WET CLYDE!”
“Here, let me help you!”
The poor kid scrambled to help the girl dry off. I don’t know how he was planning on going about with that but he ended up just sticking his hands in all the inappropriate places. I could hear Fred cackling – wait since when did Fred cackle? – and I, myself was doubling over with laughter. I managed to keep my wand hand steady so as to not let the balloons currently hovering over my head fall on me. Seriously, this was too funny.
“Ew, Clyde, you perve!” The girl said pushing the guy who was obviously Clyde away from her and stalking off.
“Jane, come back! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to,” Clyde pouted following after her.
Normally, we would have followed them to see what would happen but we had more interesting things to do, better fish to fry, new victims to find.
“That was priceless!” Duke said clutching his stomach. Somehow, he had managed to get himself on the floor and he was very close to rolling.
“Mhm. I have to say I quite enjoyed that,” Alfie replied grinning. Ah, it was good to be back with my friends.
“Who next?” Johnny asked with a grin that matched Alfie’s. I’m very pleased to know that the fact that Johnny has been made a Prefect has not gone to his head. Honestly, what would we do if we didn’t have him to join in on our amazing pranks? Not to be arrogant or anything, but our pranks were pretty amazing. No one could deny that. Ok, maybe the Professors could, and my parents, and the victims of these pranks but who cares. The spectators enjoyed it!
“How about my dear brother?” I asked grinning mischievously. Albus was the perfect target. He would give me all the reactions I wanted and he would even go as far as to get angry with me. Get angry with me of all people! I’m his brother. His blood. His role model! Maybe not the last part but the best thing about bugging Albus was that I knew just how to do it too. By being me. Nothing made him angrier. It was so simple. I just had to do it.
“Sounds fun,” Duke agreed enthusiastically.
After a few minutes of searching, we found Albus sitting in a compartment with Rose and some of their other friends that I hadn’t bothered to learn the names of. Fred had gone in casually without the balloons just to make sure that they were there and after a moment or two of annoyance, Rose had ordered Fred out of their compartment. Yes, ordered! She definitely took after her mother. I gathered my balloons in my hands and slid the compartment door open with a bang.
“Take that suckers!” I yelled before launching the balloons in Albus’ direction. Fred had so graciously told me just where everyone was seated once he came out. I launched a few more balloons at no one in particular. The entire compartment erupted with splats as the balloons exploded everywhere. Johnny had been smart enough to cast a spell on the five of us so that we wouldn’t get wet in the process. Thank Merlin for that kid and his brains even if sometimes, he was a bit daft. But, he hadn’t failed us yet when it came to the important business.
“James you prick!” Albus was yelling at me. What’s new? Naturally, a grin slid itself onto my face and when Albus saw that, his face turned red in anger. I knew that face. He was about to rage.
“I swear James, I will KILL you for this!” he said not realizing that I frankly, did not give a shit about his empty threats because after all, they were just that: empty threats. Albus could never kill me. He was too good for that. Maybe he would get back at me but even that didn’t scare me. I actually liked our fights. When Albus ‘got even’ with me, it gave me full permission to get even with him.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say,” I said waving him off.
“James, you’re such an idiot!” That was the voice of Rose Weasley. She looked absolutely livid. Ooh, I love angry Rose. She just might be better than angry Albus.
“Well that’s not very nice dear cousin,” I said placing a hand on my heart and pretending to look hurt. Rose knew very well that I wasn’t and she squinted her eyes and glared at me. it was kind of scary so I looked away. It looked like she was trying to burn a hole through me with her eyes.
“You’re not very nice.” That was a new voice. I whipped my head around to spot the speaker and my eyes landed on a tiny boy. He looked way too young to be 14. He looked more like a first year but I had seen him around so I knew he wasn’t. His mousy brown hair was curly and he looked a bit timid but the kid did have some courage standing up to me. I chuckled in response to him and he averted his gaze.
“Right, well this was a lovely reunion and all but I gotta go,” I said flashing them all one of my famous grins before turning around to walk out. Right as they thought I was about to leave though, I turned around. “Oh and Albus, one more for the road.” I threw my last water balloon at Albus which hit him square in the face before running out. That was too perfect.
I had expected to see my friends when I left the compartment but they were nowhere to be found. Instead, in front of me was no more than a crowd of students dripping wet and looking very angry. Most of the train was wet and they were all throwing water balloons at each other! I pushed past them, grinning as I saw a few fly past me. I knew exactly where my friends would be and when I got to my compartment, I wasn’t disappointed. There was Fred, Alfie, Duke and Johnny, sitting looking perfectly innocent and eating chocolate frogs and cauldron cakes.
“How the hell did you manage that?” I asked choking with laughter.
“That’s what you call talent,” Alfie yelled out to me and the rest of them erupted in laughter as well.
Now this was a perfect example of what my friends were like. While the majority of the train was angry with one another, we were sitting in our compartment, perfectly content, eating our sweets. It was good to be going back to Hogwarts.
Welcome to the life I live with my friends.
A/N: Well hello there! Long time no see, eh? So, we’re really, really sorry about the super long wait! It wasn’t nice and we’re horrible people but we hope you can forgive us anyhow? No. How about some cookies? Maybe those will help... Haha, so we hope you enjoyed this chapter! James is so much fun to write and hopefully, you like him as much as we do. Please leave us reviews telling us what you would like to see, what you liked, what you didn’t like and anything else you can think of! Gracias lovies!
-Alex & Marissa