Chapter 2 : pity parties at grimmauld palace anyone?
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Sorry for the wait! If you're confused on anything or think I need to make something more clear in the story please tell me!
***EDIT: new chapter!!! the next ones won't make sense, so don't bother reading them. I'm rewriting the whole thing. Let me know what you think about the plot and characters!!!
The next morning, Megan woke up unusually early despite barely getting any sleep. She’d been mulling over the past evening over and over, the bad feeling and eerie vibe Professor Fletcher had given off making her skin crawl. It was almost time for breakfast, she realised after looking to the clock. Pulling back her red curtains, Megan wakes her friends and the three of them got ready in comfortable silence. That is, until a shrill voice broke through it.
“How’d you feel, Megan? About getting picked?”
Turning her head to the voice, Megan’s eyebrows raised, the girl in question standing by her bed with her arms crossed and bitter expression plastered on her face.
“Great, thanks,” she mumbled in response to Claudia, pulling her jumper on.
Just like Michael did, Megan had her own academic rivals but nowhere near as competitive or requited, even. Megan was very nonchalant about her studies, which may be why Claudia had always been bitterer than Megan could respond with. Claudia sweated blood for her grades and never let it go that, according to Claudia of course, Megan barely put in effort yet hardly got below an eighty on any test. It wasn’t something Megan acknowledged or really thought about, she didn’t boast or really care about her grades so much, but Claudia had a problem with coming second all the time, it was obvious.
“Yeah, I figured you’d feel just great, I mean you’ve just been picked out of the entire sixth and seventh year as one of the brightest students but yeah, I’m feeling great.”
“Claudia, you’ll be late for that extra Saturday morning session you planned with Professor Longbottom if you don’t shut your bloody mouth.”
It seemed Claudia’s bloody mouth was shut right up at Chloe’s retort, the blonde’s eyebrows raised at the ginger girl, who was sheepishly pulling her cardigan on before sulking away with Georgia Cattermole down the staircase to the common room.
“It’s because she’s a ginger, I swear,” Amanda says once the three were alone, combing through her curly hair. “The only ginger who isn’t a Wotter, immediately meaning she’s allowed to act so…pompous.”
Megan could only nod in agreement, eyebrows raised as she ties her own hair into a quick bun. The three had discussed this theory long and hard ever since they joined the school; Claudia Bulstrode had assumed she was just as popular as the infamous gingers and had acted extremely sour when she realised she’d been rejected out of the clan. It seemed friendship was exclusive to family members only for some, though they’d deny it, Megan knew.
As soon as the three were ready, they stumbled half asleep still down to the sitting area to find Michael perched on the sofa rather uncomfortably. Megan noted that he had never looked more like a bird than that precise moment.
“Good Godric, only took you five years. Quick, lets go,” he says in a hushed voice, eyeing their fellow Gryffindors around them suspiciously, making Megan realise herself they were giving her the same looks.
Michael explained to his friends on the staircases to the Great Hall Peter Hopkins and Harry Rabnott’s rancorous attitude towards Megan as well; according to Michael they had made ‘petty’ comments all evening and were bothering him with questions on Megan’s intellectual ability. Michael said he saw it coming, especially from Hopkins and Rabnott, who were notoriously bossy and bold with their words to anyone who proved better than them in any aspect. It was common knowledge most people were better at everything than the pair, but their ego acted as warm protection from that reality, clearly.
“You aren’t going to listen to what anyone is saying, right Megan?” Chloe asked as they sat down at the table, Megan shaking her head in response.
“No. I’m fine, don’t worry,” she says yet the looks she was gaining from others on the table were beginning to get unnerving. “So what did you tell them, Michael? About my intellectual ability?”
Michael was half way through cutting a sausage when replying, a nonchalant look on his face. “I made sure they knew their doubts about you were incorrect, but assured them I was smarter.”
“Of course,” Megan laughed, the tiniest of smirks on Michael’s face.
Megan had befriended Michael before the other two and the pair were best friends by the time the lady with the trolley arrived at their compartment on the Hogwarts express. They had both been considered to join Ravenclaw as well and to their joy, they discovered Megan’s father worked with Michael’s at the ministry, meaning they enjoyed holidays together too. Their straightforward yet snappy attitude attracted the pair as friends rather than repelled, resulting in having to dismiss many dating rumours weaving around the mill at Hogwarts time and time before.
“Oh, Megan! Dad says congratulations,” Amanda said brightly, reading from the letter in her hands. “He also says he knew you’d get picked, and hopes Michael isn’t too upset.”
“Wonderful, tell Mr. Thomas he needn’t worry. I’m completely detached from the whole thing,” Michael said shortly, taking a sip from his juice.
“Write him thank you from me,” Megan says through her light laughter.
“That’s believable, Michael. Suzuki told me you were crying in your sleep,” Chloe taunts.
“No, he’s the one who weeps at night, not me. You would know though, wouldn’t you Chloe? How are the poor lad’s nightmares now?”
Michael and Chloe hadn’t been friends at first, (just at that moment Michael was being threatened with a bowl of cereal over his head by the blonde) and it was mainly Megan’s friendship with Amanda that had brought the mutual friends together to form a group.
“Uh Megan–– Meg, Gavin Cooper’s coming this way,” Amanda’s smile quickly faltered to a confused expression, the other three’s looks quickly following.
“Crow, mind if I take a seat? I was a little early for breakfast, none of my friends are down yet,” Gavin sits down beside her without waiting for a response anyway, a grin on his face. Megan only really knew about that stupid grin and his playful antics. Apparently he had managed to get a summer job at the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, which Megan thought was pretty likely and suited him well.
“Go ahead. Well, morning,” she says cautiously, unsure of what he wanted. Her friends stayed silent yet vigilant.
“Morning. I was wanting to let you know we will be partners in this competition,” he said, voice completely casual and dark eyes set on her own. “So, you know, it would be worthwhile to get to know one another, right? You’re in Potions, aren’t you?”
“I hardly think breakfast gives you the appropriate amount of time to get to know her properly, Cooper,” Michael adds, turning the page of his newspaper.
“I was only implying we do so in the future, Seung. Don’t worry; she’s still all yours.”
Before Michael could retaliate, a group of loud boys swaggered into the Hall and called over to Gavin, interrupting their conversation.
“Well, I’ll see you in the Trophy Room, yeah Megan? We’ll have plenty time then and thereafter to get to know one another,” He gets up with a laugh, sending Megan a smile before joining his Slytherin friends.
Megan returns the smile before glaring at Michael, shaking her head. “Was there any need?”
“I was merely putting my input in! I’m allowed to do so.”
“Fair enough, but they aren’t always needed. Megan, you better get going, I think. Hannah and Mary are making their way now.” Chloe gestures to the pair of girls getting up from the Ravenclaw table and looks to her watch briefly.
“Remember, you need to get some information out of him. Try anything,” Michael says firmly as Megan gets up from her seat, the girl mimicking her friend’s voice as she made her way to the Trophy Room.
“Good morning, good morning. Oh, Mr Potter, bit late aren’t we? No worries, come along now sit down, all of you. Right!” Professor Fletcher claps his hands once; the smile on his face stretching from ear to ear yet there wasn’t a drop of friendliness apparent.
The chairs in the Trophy Room were arranged the same way as the night before, Mr Fletcher standing in the middle of the semi-circle. The suits of armour glistened in the sunlight that was beaming through the windows, unlike the night before, along with the many trophies. Megan noted the room appeared a lot bigger in the day; she hadn’t been in the Trophy Room very much in the past, aside from meeting with her friends after curfew (it was still unlocked even after the students were to be in bed) and on her Prefect rounds, where a number of couples decided to enjoy each others companies.
“You’ve all worked out by now you’ll be competing in pairs. Each pair will have a winner, leaving four champions of Hogwarts. If you recall, I mentioned yesterday that this was a competition testing more than just your average physical aspects –– if I wanted something like that I’d go to a Quidditch match. No, this is a challenge where you’ll be competing with each other’s minds.”
He stopped speaking and looked to his audience of young adults, as if waiting for an elaborate response. Megan narrowed her eyes together, not thinking of anything that this could involve. The others seemed to have the same reaction, and they waited for him to continue.
“You’ll be moved to a special location and will be staying a hotel. This is where the competition will take place.” With a flick of his wand, images and maps of the presumed hotel popped into thin air in front of them. All Megan could understand before the images disappeared was that it was tall and had endless corridors, rather than the name of the hotel, which her eyes had been desperately searching for. “In your pairs, you will travel through the corridors and will eventually come across two rooms, one for each of you. The contents of this room and your subsequent reactions and decisions will determine if you are a champion or not.”
“What’s in the rooms, Sir?” Albus Potter asked from beside Megan, arms crossed with a suspicious tinge to his voice.
“That depends on you; each room is unique to your own pasts and futures, what you want and what don’t, what you adore and what you’re afraid of.”
Megan’s lips part as she looks over to the Potter who had spoken for his reaction, but he fell silent, the crease between his brow deepening.
“Professor, how do we know if we’ve won?” Sylvia chimed, to which Professor Fletcher laughed quietly. The sound felt inappropriate in the silent room with confused and apprehensive students, making Megan feel a lot less comfortable by the second.
“You’ll know you’ve been successful when you are alone.”
Fletcher had dismissed the students soon after Hannah asked if they could bring their pets and Mary wondered how long the test would be (again, it apparently depended on them).
“Pardon Professor, will we be given time after the competition to catch up with the course material we have missed out on?” Megan asks before the Professor leaves, one or two of the other students murmuring in mutual interest.
“Well, some of you will, some of you won’t. It depends on how able you are,” he answers, before dismissing them once more and slipping out the door.
They were leaving for the ‘special location’ the next morning and without the knowledge of when they’d be back, Megan couldn’t help but feel nervous. Peter and Mary followed suit quickly, along with Hannah and Sylvia whereas the remaining stayed where they were sitting. Megan assumed they were trying to understand this the same way she was.
“It could be anything in those rooms from what he answered with,” John speaks into the silence, elbows resting on his knees.
“Have you noticed his answers are generally very…generalised?” Albus waves his hand as he speaks, that frown on his face seeming to be permanent on his face. Megan sat up straight and turned to him; relieved someone was feeling the same way towards Fletcher as she was.
“I agree. He’s very vague with most of it all, but why would there be a need to be? We should know what we’re facing. Even with the Triwizard Tournament they know what they could possibly be up against, to an extent,” Megan says, noticing Albus nod his head. Megan then realised this was probably the first time the infamous Albus Severus and herself had addressed each other properly. She didn’t count their Potions, Herbology, Charms, Transfiguration and Defence Against the Dark Art lessons, despite the fact they’d been in the same class for the past six years.
“Unless there’s something he doesn’t want us to know, which is highly likely. I mean, he’s a fishy bloke, isn’t he? Fishy blokes are usually hiding fishy things,” Gavin inputs, getting to his feet and stuffing his hands into his pockets.
“All he’s told us it’s something to do with the mind; he hasn’t told us how we win or what happens after,” Head Boy John Clarke huffs, leaning back in his chair.
“When we’re alone. We’ll win when we’re alone,” Albus’ voice trails off in thought, a hand running through his dishevelled hair.
“That’s somehow linked with that we’ve got to do in the rooms, right? Something we do in those rooms means we end up alone.”
The room fell silent again but it hung over them tightly. She hadn’t realised she was holding her breath until Gavin cleared his throat, looking to his watch. The uncertainty of her words and the entire competition was evidently not something the brightest students in Hogwarts could handle and by the looks on their faces, anyone would know this is not where they’d stop.
“We’ll figure out what this means,” John reassures them with a warm smile, one Megan can’t help but return as they moved out of the Trophy Room to the moving staircases. Blood Prince Charming, John Clarke was. Chloe was right. “I’ve got an Ancient Runes revision session, which I’m very late to so I’ll be on my way. I’ll catch up with you all later,” John waves before disappearing down a staircase.
Megan knew the other two might be going to the Great Hall for more food, same as her, but had no great intention in sitting with them in the Great Hall. Albus Potter wasn’t nearly as interesting as Georgia and Claudia yapped on about and Gavin still looked as though he was about to crack an inappropriate joke.
“Your father is an Unspeakable, isn’t he? Rowley Crow?” Albus asked Megan, bringing her out of her thoughts suddenly.
“Yeah, that’s him.” To Megan’s disappointment, it looked like the three of them were making their way to the Great Hall. She couldn’t avoid them now.
“His work in the Department of Time is pretty much how they managed to catch Dolohov. It’s incredibly impressive, your father’s studies.”
“You know what else is impressive, Al? The fact that an Unspeakable’s work is as well known as it is now. They’re called Unspeakables for a reason,” Gavin jokes, raising a brow.
“Yes, but he helped catch Dolohov. That won’t go unnoticed, even an Unspeakable isn’t an exception.”
“Or maybe you just know more than you’re suggesting because Daddy told you?”
Megan’s eyebrows shot right into her hair, glancing over to Albus to see how he’d react to Gavin’s poor joke. She was aware he, out of all the Weasley-Granger-Potter family, was particularly intolerant of such statements. After a short silence, Albus’ stern face cracked into one of defeat before rolling his eyes, a slight smirk on his face.
“Hilarious. I would have hexed you if you weren’t right.”
“I’m always right, Potter.”
“Right, well. Thanks for the appreciation,” Megan slips in as they reach the doors of the Hall. Her father didn’t get it enough, in her opinion, but her opinion may be slightly subjective. “I’ll let him know what you said. He was happy to help.”
“My pleasure, Megan. My father did…He wanted me to let you know you’re both welcome for dinner some time. I know you couldn’t make it at Easter but–– they have been looking for this ex-Death Eater for about twenty-three years, after all. It’s the least he could do.” Gavin had disappeared by this point, leaving a rather sheepish looking Albus alone with her. “I’m…We’re sorry about what happened to your mum too, Megan. They won’t stop looking for the guy, you know, until they’ve got him. They’ll get him.”
She breathes out deeply, finally realising what this was all about. She’d been stupid not to realise earlier. Harry Potter felt responsible for her mother’s death, is all. Of course, she’d known that already but she had genuinely thought their invite to dinner was for her father at first. Her opinion was becoming less subjective now; it was clear her father’s work needed more appreciation if everybody was overlooking it to give sympathy for his wife’s death. Ruby Dowson had been one of the Aurors to have aided Harry Potter in his final search for Antonin Dolohov, whose whereabouts were finally discovered by Megan’s father’s research; Antonin Dolohov had been in hiding in the past and future, creating disturbances in time that someone as skilled as Rowley Crow could not miss in the mysterious Department of Time.
Ruby Dowson had been murdered beside Harry Potter moments before Antonin had been captured, hence his guilt was not unreasonable but Megan did not commend it. It had been six months now; she’d truly thought he would have moved on. This happened often as an Auror, Megan’s mother had warned her and her father constantly every time she left for a job.
“It wasn’t anybody’s fault but the murderer’s,” Megan says in a hushed voice, a faint smile on her face. “No need to apologise, Albus.”
However, her mother’s warnings did not help dull the pain, nor did Albus’ awkward smile and her friend’s attempts to cheer her up. It would take time.
“I’m still sorry,” he mumbles, fiddling with his glasses. Megan noted he was at least a head and a quarter taller than her, as well as having an obstinate posture and bright eyes. She wonders why it had taken six months for Albus, or any of the Potter children, to say something to her. Lily and James were in her house, after all. In fact, they were on the Quidditch team with her. Megan wasn’t necessarily expecting anything until now, now that Albus had approached her about it she’d realised how much better she would have felt if there were people at school to properly talk about it with. Their father was beside her mother when it happened; she’d do anything to feel closer to her mother in her last moments.
“Then thank you,” she replies, her voice still has soft before nodding and walking to her house’s table just as the bell in the Clock Tower struck to announce the start of lunch.
Megan was sitting with her three friends by the Black Lake after dinner, Chloe had demanded they enjoy the last drops of sunshine Scotland would see for a long time while they could. The only person to complain was Michael, naturally.
Having settled under a tree for some time, Megan began to explain what Fletcher had told them that morning and the discussion she had with Gavin, Albus and John.
“Tomorrow?! You’re going tomorrow?!” Amanda yelled, getting up quickly. “That’s much too early, we still barely know anything!”
“I reckon we know as much as we can right now, really. There won’t be much else we can find out,” Megan sighs, shrugging her shoulders.
“Can you keep your wand on you?” Michael asks from his position beside her.
“He didn’t say we couldn’t so, I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Poo, you’re going to be leaving me in Alchemy. How dare you,” Chloe groans and falls back against the grass dramatically.
“You’ll be fine in Alchemy, Chloe. You’re really not as bad as you think,” Megan encourages her friend, prodding her head with her wand.
“I’ll be the only non-Slytherin too. A lion in a pen of snakes, how fun,” she continues to complain.
“Oh, that does remind me, Albus spoke to me today,” Megan says, their heads snapping towards her quickly. “He asked me about Dad and invited us over for dinner. Dad the Dolohov Slayer, you know.”
“It was about time, your father might have saved us from the potential of a regrouping of Death Eaters, you know,” Michael says seriously.
“That’s great, if they weren’t really inviting us over for a pity party,” the brunette says sourly, throwing her parchment to the side. “He said he was sorry about Mum and that they were still looking for him.”
The group fell quiet; Megan appreciated the fact they didn’t know what to say when it came to this conversation. They didn’t try to sugar coat anything or put on a façade; they were honest. Silence spoke louder than words at times.
“Do you want to have dinner with them?” Chloe asks quietly, moving so her head was on her friend’s lap comfortably.
“I dunno, I want to for Dad. He needs to talk to people.”
Nobody spoke again and after a short while, Chloe fell asleep with her head still on Megan’s lap.
The next morning, the eight students were told their belongings would be transported to the hotel and that they needn’t worry, you were allowed to bring your pets. They were to meet with Professor Fletcher in the courtyard at 11:00am.
Megan ate her breakfast slowly; most of the meal they sat in silence aside from Michael and Chloe attempting to fight to lighten the mood. They weren’t sure why they were so sullen; this was supposed to be exciting, a challenge, but Megan was more anxious than thrilled.
When they had finished, Megan stood to bid farewell to her friends by the entrance to the school. Claudia and Violet had forced out a good luck, it looked as though they were being punched in the back because it seemed to pain Claudia so much for saying it. Before Megan could say anything to her friends, Amanda threw her arms around her tightly.
“Please win. We’ll be rooting for you,” she whispered through her bright smile.
Megan nodded and hugged Chloe and Michael in turn.
“Please come back too,” Michael mumbled as Megan pressed a kiss to his cheek.
“What does that mean?” Chloe asked, worry on her face.
“It means, please come back.” So he was still cynical about it. “I’ll still be looking into this–– have you realised he hasn’t even given us a name for this competiti––”
“All right Michael, all right,” Amanda shushed him, shoving his side.
Megan smiled once more at them before turning to join the group of students surrounding a cushion on the ground of the courtyard.
“Can everyone get a hold on the portkey? Yes? Good!”
With that, Megan left Hogwarts and did not know she would not return with the same group of people.
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***EDIT: again, the next chapters won't make sense as I'm rewriting this, bear with!!
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