Chapter 8 : A Little Competition
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Enjoy! Happy November!
The feeling of relief didn’t last.
Molly and Rune (ugh) called a Prefect meeting the following morning, too early to function. We met in the Entrance Hall and walked outside in a tight-knit group since it was chilly and China was freezing. She stuck to my side as we sat in a circle, attempting to avoid the hazy sunrise.
Ryan was to my left.
I stole a glance. Who could blame me? She looked fine. Normal and wrapped in a thick green sweater. Her legs were crossed under her and her gaze focused intently on Molly, who was pacing outside the circle. She didn’t so much as pass me a spare thought.
“You all know why we’re here,” Molly said, tugging her cloak around her arms. Maybe she wouldn’t be cold if we weren’t OUTSIDE.
“I’m not sure I was informed,” noted Dex Lathrop. He was the second Ravenclaw Prefect and knew about Charms, Transfiguration, and how to drive away women. His willingness to bathe in cologne did most of the work for him.
Molly shot him a scathing look. I was familiar with it. “Lately, we’ve had a problem with students sneaking out of the castle.”
“Oh, is that right?” Dex asked. He was obviously guilty, though I wasn’t sure who he was sneaking off with.
“Yes.” Molly returned to pacing. “We have had reports from multiple shop owners that students are showing up on non-Hogsmeade weekends doing shopping, having drinks, and causing problems. It is up to us to curb this behavior.”
“What’re we going to do? Set up camp at the gates?” I blurted. There was no way my corn-cob cousin was stopping me from leaving the castle. Then I might have to do homework.
“I’ve already put a petition in to Headmistress Finklehut to re-administer the charms on the front gates,” Molly explained. “The security measures have been too lax and because of this, students are able to walk all over us.”
Speak for yourself.
“So we’re doing what, again?” China asked.
“We’re going to give the students something to occupy their time instead of wanting to leave the grounds,” Molly replied, her tone changing immediately from surly to giddy. This was clearly her brainchild. And what a boring brainchild it was.
“Like?” China prompted.
“Like events!” Molly said. “We’re going to put together study groups, fun clubs, story hours, s’more fires, and so on.”
Ryan snorted. “Study groups are going to make them want to stay here instead of going to the pub for a whiskey? Fat chance.”
“With the gates charmed they won’t have a choice,” Molly snapped.
“I’d still choose not to go.”
“Well, that is your prerogative, Davies.” Molly huffed a little. “As you are all Prefects, you will all be responsible for putting on an event. You will be in groups of three. Some of the years will overlap.” She pointed aimlessly toward the twittery fifth years. “Start counting off.”
Yes, it’s safe to say that by the time the numbers found their way to my side of the circle, one, two, and three fell with Ryan, China, and I.
“Now, take fifteen minutes to discuss ideas,” Molly said. I wondered why Rune was just standing there and came to the conclusion he was thinking about snogging her later. Gross. “Tomorrow, please submit a written proposal about your event, the details, time, and estimated cost of supplies. We do have a limited budget for student activities.”
“I didn’t know we had a budget for student activities,” Dex muttered before turning away to his group, a pair of Slytherins. Sorry, Dex.
I scooted back so Ryan and China could face each other.
They didn’t move.
“Right,” I said, clearing my throat. “So, what should we do?”
“Tell Molly to snuff it,” Ryan said. “I’m not throwing an event for a bunch of gits who would rather sneak out or go have a lay.”
China stared. “I was going to suggest a bake sale.”
“Good start,” I said nervously, keeping my eyes on the grass. “How about we try something more involved and less geared toward making money?”
“Like what? Stripping?” Ryan suggested, smirking.
“Are you volunteering?” I shot back.
“Maybe I do.”
Her eyes flashed. “Don’t start with me, Weasley.”
“Why? Because you’re a lady?” I rolled my eyes.
China made a noise.
“How about something where people can sit and relax and not study,” I suggested, feeling the color rise in my cheeks.
China nodded. “Oh! And we can have cookies!”
“You just want to bake,” Ryan said. She was picking grass out of the ground and tossing it at Dex.
“Can I?” China asked, eyes wide like saucers.
“Sure. Think I care?” Ryan brushed some hair away from her face and sighed. “So what are they supposed to do? Sit around and each cookies and get fat? Let me write the proposal, I beg you.”
“We’ll watch films.”
“Muggle films?” Ryan arched a brow. “Why?”
“They’re classic,” I argued. They were. James and I were huge fans.
“So let me get this straight.” Ryan pulled her legs up to her chest. There was loud chattering around us from the other groups attempting to be productive as Molly and Rune wove through them like hounds. “We’re going to have a room with a bunch of baked goods and a film?”
I paused. “Sure?”
“Good. I’ll write the proposal and hand it in tomorrow.” With that, Ryan moved onto her back, draped an arm over her eyes, and didn’t elaborate.
I exchanged glances with China.
Well, that was that.
How was I supposed to tell James? Yes, we were Frames. James and Fred. Freddo and J-Man. Admittedly, no one ever called him J-Man, but it was something I was keen to start. Perhaps a new product?
Mental note: WWW J-Man Sweets
Mental note: WWW J-Man
After Molly had reluctantly signed off on our movie event, I spent half the day in the Prefect’s bathroom with China and Ryan (Still have no idea why they wanted to meet there) discussing the details. By discussing, I mean Ryan was perched on the sill of the stained-glass window eating ice cream and China was playing with the faucets. I was busy trying to scribble notes down about this silly event because Molly barely let us do something that wasn’t “educationally stimulating.”
Ryan and I bickered some more. China grinned at me a lot. She asked about Annie. I said things were fine.
I hadn’t spent much time with Annie since asking her to be my girlfriend, but she didn’t seem bothered. She held my hand in class and asked about the shop. That was all she needed apparently, and I was thankful for it. Especially since I had a lot of things to deal with.
After a day of avoiding Ryan’s eyes and avoiding China’s questions about Quidditch, I pulled James away from creating a riot about the charming of the front gate. I closed the door behind us and made sure Andrew, Chopper, and Mox weren’t there.
“What’s going on?” James asked, falling back onto his bed and putting his hands behind his head. “I was about to incite a rebellion.”
“Against your cousin?” I asked. “Pretty sure Molly would just pinch your ear and tell Uncle Harry on you.”
“Crafty woman,” he mumbled. “Is this about Ollie? Is she talking to Parise?”
“Of course she’s talking to Parise. They’re friends.” I raised a brow. “Relax.”
“I hate that guy.” James was looking rather huffy.
“For once,” I began, sliding onto my own bed, “This isn’t about Ollie. Or Annie. Or Molly.”
“The shop?” James shot up in the bed, looking terrified.
“Is fine,” I finished, shaking my head. “Look, I have something I need to say.”
“Shut up, will you?” I said, raking my fingers through my hair. My heart was hammering. I wanted nothing more than to leave right then and there. Just like I had at the shop. Why was I so horrible with dealing with things? Where did that come from?
I knew, but didn’t want to admit it.
I was thirteen and home from Hogwarts before my third year began. It was only two weeks or so until the train and I’d been working at the shop since July. I had memorized everything long before, even the new inventory. Even then the newer stuff was shrinking and the older products occupied the shelves.
A pretty girl with raven-colored hair was behind the register. I was smiling at her. That goofy grin thirteen-year-olds think are attractive.
Wrong, Freddo. So wrong.
“So what are you doing this weekend?” the girl asked. For the life of me I can’t remember her name.
“Hanging out with James.”
She laughed. “My shift is almost up. Who’s in after me?”
“Dad’s closing up.” I checked my watch. Dad always closed up on Tuesdays. It was rarely busy this late so it gave him time to make sure everything was in place and count the drawer in peace before heading home. Sometimes I helped. Other times he wanted to be alone and gave me some gold for ice cream.
“He does a lot himself.” The girl drew some hair behind her ear. “Can you go make sure he’s on his way? I don’t want to leave the register with those sketchy-looking boys looking through the clearance bin.”
I nodded and followed an aisle to the back of the store. He wasn’t in his office, so I moved toward the back room. The sign was the same, but I paused before opening the door, eyes distracted by the merchandise window. I could see the back room. Back then the tables were ladened with interesting things to test and try.
Sitting on top of one of the tables was my father, knees pulled to his chest as he sobbed. His shirt was sweaty and sticking to his back. Fingers grasping his hair.
I frowned, pulling out of my wand. If the Ministry caught me, well, they could just deal with it. I concentrated hard and forced the blinds closed before returning to the cashier. “He’ll be out in a minute. He said you could go. I can handle the register until he comes out.” I grinned. It didn’t quite reach my eyes.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. Go on.”
She grabbed her purse, kissed me on the forehead, and left.
James caught the door and sauntered in. “Oy, where’s Uncle George? I’ve got a snackbox idea that I think will sell.”
“Indisposed,” I said. It was our keyword.
“Then why’d you let her leave?” James jerked his thumb back toward the door. He shot the blokes in the corner a strange look.
I shrugged. Because I didn’t want her to know about Dad’s episodes. Because I thought I could handle it myself. Because I didn’t want her to see the fear in my face.
“You want help?” James said, interrupting the silence.
I shrugged again.
“Want me to give you gold for ice cream?” He smirked and joined me behind the register. He grabbed an apron and swung it over his clothes even though Dad bought the aprons as a joke and we never actually utilized them. He looked over to the boys. “Oy, buy something or get the fuck out!”
They turned, all at least sixth years, and stared.
“Got a lip on you, don’t you?” said the tallest one. He had a haircut that made him look like he got in a fight with a lawnmower.
“It’s not a library,” James chimed back. Always the charmer.
“And what if I don’t want to buy something?” he asked, lips growing into a smirk. He probably felt relatively confident, approaching the counter where two thirteen-year-olds were standing. Not looking remotely threatening.
“Then get out.” James huffed. He was always so huffy.
The bloke grabbed four magazines off the front of the counter and walked toward the door.
“Don’t even think about shoplifting!” I called, shoving James aside to follow him. I only got a few steps and his group of goons (okay, two guys with worse hair cuts) shoved me back.
“You going to stop me?” He shoved the door open.
Then he was immediately sucked into a tube that descended from the ceiling and vanished.
I looked at his mates. “Did you want a bag for those magazines?” I motioned to the merchandise left on the ground where the boy’s feet used to be.
They were gone before I could laugh.
“New thievery device?” James asked, moving forward to examine the magazines.
“Just had it installed the other day.” I hopped onto the counter, laughing. “Transports you directly to the village courthouse holding cell. Pretty convenient if you ask me.”
James shoved me and hoisted himself up beside me. “You think we should tell Uncle George?”
I draped an arm around his shoulder. “I don’t need to tell him. I’ve got you here. He’ll find out eventually.”
Young Freddo was a cheeseball.
I was feeling less confident now. It was so easy to share everything with James before. About my father because he was family. About the shop because he had the same passion I did. About Quidditch because he played too. Girls because he had Ollie and was just as stupid.
But this was different. This was something James had very little knowledge of.
Dad was right, though. If anyone else needed to know it was certainly James.
Ryan was going to murder me.
I cleared my throat. He was staring like he couldn’t quite figure out what to make of me. Not that I blamed him.
“Are you sure this isn’t about Ollie?” James blurted.
Oh, hell, James.
“Here’s the thing,” I began, running my fingers through my hair. “The thing is...” I cleared my throat again. “This is the thing...”
“What the fuck is the thing?” James demanded.
“Do you remember that time you were worried you got Ollie pregnant?” I nervously fumbled with the material of my shirt. “How freaked out you were?”
“Did you get Ollie pregnant?”
“NO. Do you remember or not?”
“How could I forget? At one point I was certain Ollie was going to behead me and her parents were going to off me.” He shrugged. “Why?”
I remembered how he hid under the blankets for two days.
“Because I made a mistake,” I explained, eyes on the wood floor.
“Annie?” James breathed.
I shook my head. The silence was starting to close in on me, weighing down on my chest.
I kept my voice quiet and explained all about what had happened over the summer. For a while I just used “her” and “she,” but James wasn’t fooled. He prodded. And prodded.
“Ryan,” I eventually admitted.
“Davies?” he stammered.
My silence was enough to stun him.
“You’re kidding,” he said. “You’re joking. You’re pulling my leg. Ha ha, Freddo. Very funny. Good prank. Your father would be proud.” James was up and pacing now, scratching the back of his neck so hard red lines were dotting his skin.
“I told Dad,” I said, rubbing my lips together.
“Ha ha, Freddo,” James repeated in a high voice.
“Ryan’s going to keep it.”
“But we’re keeping it quiet for now,” I explained. “So no telling anyone. Annie doesn’t know. Ollie shouldn’t know. I mean it.” I raised my gaze to find him staring at me, dumbfounded. “Say something, James.”
“You’re being serious, aren’t you?” His bottom lip trembled.
“You fancy her?”
I shook my head. “At this point we can barely spend time together without arguing.”
He paused and I could tell he was fighting with something internally. “How was it?” he asked. I threw a pillow at his head. “Sorry! I was always curious about her.”
“Shut it.” I flopped back onto my bed. “Just don’t tell anyone.”
“What about when they find out? Davies has a good figure. What about when it up and disappears?” James flopped down beside me, shoving me over on the bed with his hip.
“Then we figure that out when the time comes.” I elbowed him because he was hogging the bed. He always did that. “What do you think?”
I shot him a look.
“I don’t know,” James said slowly. “I can’t believe it. When did we stop being kids?”
“I don’t think we have.” I made a face.
“Suddenly Ryan’s pregnant, Annie doesn’t know, and you’re going to be a father.” James coughed. “Wow. A dad. I’ll get you that Father of the Year mug or some shit, okay?”
“Appreciate it,” I mumbled darkly.
James plucked at the seams of his pants. “So why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“Can you blame me?” I asked, but I knew the answer. “I’m sorry. I needed to find out where Ryan was with everything before I told anyone.”
“Afraid Annie’s going to find out?”
“Of course.” I groaned. “When did life become so complicated?”
“First Year,” James noted. “When we got here.”
James and I stayed up chatting for a few hours about Ryan and French and how Annie could react and how she would react. He eventually climbed into his own bed when Chopper came in with an armful of books that looked straight out of the Restricted Section. He growled a little before pulling his hangings.
Chopper. Not James.
The dormitory fell silent until James began to snore, which was a noise I was used to by now. He told me once Ollie had taken to using ear plugs.
I peeked my head out from my curtains to make sure no one else was out and about before grabbing the pregnancy book from the bedside stand. The last thing I needed was Andrew Parise getting curious about my midnight reading.
I opened to a random page.
Then slammed it shut.
I had barely glimpsed a sketch of a baby with its foot stretched somewhere I’d rather not say.
Undo. Undo. Undo.
“This is ABSURD.”
I rolled over. “James, go away please.”
I had been attempting a nap after practice. My whole body ached from Rose forcing us to try out all of these complicated bat maneuvers. I say attempting a nap because Mox had been in four times to find the correct book for his Charms essay and Chopper was trying to grill some rodent in the fireplace. I tried to ignore the smell.
“Okay.” I stuffed my face in the pillow.
“They think they know everything.”
“They’re women. They do,” I grumbled, pulling it over my ears.
He just yelled louder. “Like they know everything. They don’t!”
I snorted. So did Chopper, but he turned it into a grunt.
“Why don’t you just go tell them that?” I pulled the blanket over my head. It didn’t do much of anything except give me the hint that my socks were dirty. I pulled it back down.
“I’ve tried,” James said, shaking his head. “I want to prove it. I want to prove that they don’t know everything about everything. I’m not stupid! I know things!”
“Of course you do. Now please go away.”
“You have to help me.” James leapt onto the bed, damn near crushing me. He dug his elbow into my spine. “C’mon!”
“Why don’t you do a bake-off or something,” I grumbled darkly. “Get China to help you. Or trivia.”
He paused. “Trivia? Now that isn’t a terrible idea.”
“It’s not a good idea either,” I said. “You’re horrible at trivia.”
“But you’re good at it!” he said. “Help me, Freddo! Come on. Annie and Ollie are ruthless. Let’s just shut them down.”
I supposed spending some time with my girlfriend was a good idea. I should at least spend more time with her than Andrew Parise. “Anyone else?”
James looked over at Chopper. “Oy, want to do trivia against the girls?”
Chopper stared. “Why?”
“We can raise the stakes.”
I considered that Chopper didn’t know multi-syllable words.
James rolled off me, straightening and clearing his throat. “I have a great idea,” he said.
“I’m going to regret this,” I grumbled, my face moving back to the pillow.
Ollie’s lips were parted in shock. She stood in front of the fireplace, hands on her hips. “You want to bet WHAT?”
Annie was on the sofa and Concetta and Charlotte were on her other side. They were the other two Gryffindor girls (other than Molly) who were seventh years and in all those years I knew all of two things about each of them. Concetta was a runner and was obsessed with James’ younger brother, Albus. Charlotte had a lower back tattoo and was obsessed with James’ younger brother, Albus.
Why? I had no idea.
Both were moderately pretty but too stupid to put a broom the right way up.
Molly was sitting nearby, looking sulky. Probably because Rune wasn’t there to snog. Ugh.
“You heard me,” James said simply, folding his arms. “I want to bet your room.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Ollie snapped. “There is absolutely no way. We’d have to get something amazing if we won.”
“A date with a Quidditch player?” Concetta suggested.
“The only Quidditch players playing are off-limits,” Annie said and I appreciated the tone of her voice. I liked the little bit of jealousy she had there.
“Name it,” James said, grinning. Behind him, Mox, Chopper, and Andrew jerkface Parise were sitting on a sofa. I was on a stool a meter or so away, observing.
“A trip into Hogsmeade for some drinks?” suggested Charlotte.
“That’s against the rules!” Molly said. Everyone rolled their eyes. “Unless it’s a Hogsmeade weekend.”
“Drinks are not worth our room anyway,” Ollie said. She narrowed her eyes at James and the tension was a little disgusting. “I’ve got it.”
“Name it.” He looked really confident.
“If we win, James has to propose.”
Until she said that. Then he went green, his knees buckled, and he almost took out a lamp.
“Excuse me?” James stammered, grabbing the arm of the couch. Andrew was trying not to laugh, but failing. In fact, so was I.
“All right,” I said, putting up my hands in mock surrender. “We can just call this quits now. There’s no way we can play with those stakes. I’m going to go nap again.” I stood, dusting my pants even though there was nothing there. More because I knew Annie was looking at me and it made me nervous – hiding things from her.
James wheeled around. “Oh, no,” he said. “We’re playing.”
I blinked. Ollie looked stunned. And a little green in the face. Clearly she hadn’t expected things to go that way.
“You would not,” she said. “You’re going to cheat. Find a loophole.”
“Why don’t you just find out?” James shot back. I was a little certain he was seducing her.
Ollie didn’t back down. They were standing toe to toe. “Fine,” she said. “You’re on.”
“Is it okay to be scared?” Mox whispered.
“If we win we get their room,” Chopper said in a low voice. “I was up there. It’s clean.”
The boys fell silent. We were picturing a clean room.
It smelled of daisies and buttercups. What did buttercups smell like? Didn’t matter. It smelled of buttercups. And ladies. Perfume. Cleaner. Furniture polish. Fabric softener.
Not like a locker room.
“And the rest of them?” James jerked his thumb back toward the rest of us.
I kept watching Molly, but she was reading now. Potions.
“If you lose they have to streak the next Herbology class.” Annie smiled. She was looking at me. My cheeks like up like fairy lights.
It wasn’t that I minded. Okay, I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of showing off body to anyone who didn’t see me get dressed before a Quidditch match. Annie did look excited, though.
Did that mean she wanted to do more than snog?
For some reason, an image of Ryan swam into view. Probably because I’d be too terrified I’d have two pregnant girls on my hands. Great. Hormonal Ryan and Annie. Right. No.
“Deal,” said Andrew with a smirk. I couldn’t tell if he was smirking at Ollie or Annie.
We let Gee do the trivia reading. She had a great public-speaking voice and she was fun, unlike Rose, who volunteered. We let Rose down easy, though, by giving her a brownie for her troubles. The last thing I needed was my Captain throwing a sofa at me for answering incorrectly.
The first round was easy. Just some back and forth questions about subjects and grades. We missed a few and they missed a few (effectively killing anyone’s confidence). It was when Gee took a five minute break to scribble on some note cards we got worried.
“This is the lightning round,” she said and waved the back of the cards at us. “Each team will be given one minute to answer as many questions as possible about the opposite sex. Anyone can answer. At the end of the round, whoever has the most correct answers is the winner.”
I settled into my place on the couch. James’ leg was shaking beside mine. If we lost he would have to propose to Ollie.
I took a moment to picture James as a groom. For some reason I assumed he would wear a top hat.
Mental Note: WWW Top Hats? With rabbits? Work in progress.
The girls were sweating just as much. The pressure of losing their clean, tidy room with a beautiful view of the Quidditch pitch was finally dawning on them. Ollie and Annie were sharing a large chair, Ollie’s arm around her friend’s shoulder. Concetta and Charlotte were pacing behind the chair, probably lost in thought about Albus Potter.
I still had no idea what that was about. He was kind of scrawny and wore glasses. Granted, he was the Ravenclaw Captain but I didn’t think that would be enough to redeem him.
James had said once, “Be thankful they’re after my brother. If not they could have been after you.” Good point, J-Man.
Gee cleared her throat and ushered Andrew to move so the seventh year boys were sitting in a clump by the fire. She smiled in the same way she did when eyeing the opposing team before a match. Ruthlessly.
“Gentlemen first,” Gee said. “You have one minute.” Rose set the timer (we had to give her something to do). Someone was humming the bridal march and James was sweating. Annie was itching her collar bone and my eyes were drawn there.
“If Ollie was in another house, which would she prefer?” Gee began and the clock started to tick.
“Hufflepuff,” James replied. “Godric knows why.” He rolled his eyes and I elbowed him.
“What is Annie’s favorite animal?”
James looked at me. I had no idea. We hadn’t talked about it. Hell.
“Monkey,” said Andrew.
That son of a bitch.
“What is Concetta’s career ambition?” Gee said. My heart was hammering.
“Date my brother?” James blurted.
“Really?” I said. “That’s the answer you’re going with?”
“Herbologist!” Mox piped up. “With a specialty in plants of the Amazon!”
Everyone looked at him, shocked. Hell, Concetta looked shocked.
“What?” Mox said. “I listen.”
Gee flipped to the next card. The girls were leaning forward on the couch. A few others had come over to watch. “Where in Great Britain is Charlotte from?”
“Wales!” said Mox. Know-it-all. Charlotte squeaked and clapped before the girls silenced her with looks.
“Molly’s greatest ambition?” Gee prompted.
“To piss me off!” James said.
“Potter you’re going to get married if you don’t shut up,” Andrew snapped. “It’s to be the first female Minister of Magic.”
Gee smiled. James tried to throw a pillow at Andrew, but I stopped him. Not very well, as the pillow hit Chopper, who narrowed his eyes.
I wouldn’t be sleeping well tonight.
“What is Ollie’s best class?” Gee asked.
“Charms!” cried James and Andrew at the same time. James tried to launch himself over the sofa and attack, but I grabbed him around the middle and forced him back onto the couch.
“Ollie’s worst class?”
“Divination!” both boys shouted. James grabbed a table lamp, but Mox plucked it from his grip and placed it back on the table.
“Annie’s favorite Muggle film,” said Gee.
I stared. I didn’t even know Annie liked Muggle films. Bugger. Andrew’s eyes locked with mine. He didn’t know either.
The clocked ticked to its end and the buzzer went off, causing Mox to jump and almost dive behind his chair.
“Seven,” Gee said, writing the total on the back of a blank card. “All right, ladies. Let’s see if you can beat seven.” She shifted in the chair and for the first time I realized how nervous the girls looked.
Made me wonder what was so wonderful about that room.
James patted me on the back. “Good teamwork,” he said sarcastically.
“Nice aim,” I shot back, nodding toward Chopper.
“It was nice knowing you.” He chuckled.
“What was the name of James’ first dog?” Gee began and Rose hit the timer.
“Mr. Snuffles,” Ollie said offhand. She was very smirky, unlike the other girls. Apparently that question was too easy for her.
“What is the name of the teddy bear Freddie keeps stuffed in his top desk drawer?”
I choked. “And there goes any hope of getting laid ever in my entire life.”
“You went out with a decent track record,” James mumbled behind his hand. I elbowed him. Though I kind of knew he was right.
I wondered why Ryan was up to. I also wondered if she knew Rox.
The girls exchanged glances. It was clear the teddy bear was a secret. Thanks, Gee.
“Pass!” announced Ollie. Annie’s face was red. She twisted her fingers in her lap.
“Andrew’s ambition in life?” Gee asked.
“To run against Molly for Minister of Magic,” said Annie, finding her voice.
Sure, she doesn’t know about her boyfriend’s teddy bear, but she knows about Parise’s secret ambitions to beat out my much more qualified cousin for a position of authority. Did she fancy him? I needed to have a Gryffindor girl meeting about Andrew Parise.
I was starting to sound like James. What was his deal getting two questions in a row anyway?
“Andrew’s middle name,” said Gee.
“Anthony,” said Molly, glancing up from her book. Her ears reddened. There was a story there.
Gee shuffled the cards quickly. “What does Mox fear most?”
“Spiders!” shouted Concetta.
“Poison!” said Charlotte.
“Green beans?” said Concetta. We stared. “What? There was an incident in the Great Hall a few days ago.”
“Let’s move on, shall we?” Mox mumbled, burying his head in a pillow.
“Being buried alive!” cried Ollie. “I remember!”
“Correct!” shouted Gee. She glanced at the clock. “Chopper’s best class?”
“Potions,” said Annie. Her eyes were bright and on fire. She did not want to lose that room.
“Freddie’s first love,” Gee said. She was enjoying this too much. Why couldn’t she ask what my best class was?
“Alessandra,” Annie said with a grin.
Gee shook her head. “I’m sorry, incorrect.”
“Tabitha Winters!” Ollie all but shrieked.
I looked at James, who was scarlet. “Thanks,” I grumbled. Tabitha was a cashier for the shop when I was around nine. I was convinced we were going to get married and live together and have lots of children, though at that time I barely knew where babies came from. She was stunning though and when she put in her two weeks to travel to New Zealand I started a piggy bank in the corner of my room to save up to be with her.
I thought James was the only one who knew about that. Clearly I was wrong.
“To tie!” Gee hurriedly glanced at the clock. “What is Chopper’s given name?”
Silence. Silence. Silence.
Hell, what was Chopper’s first name? We looked over, but he was expressionless, staring at the fire.
The girls exchanged glances. Not one of them knew.
“Um, Chopper?” Concetta offered, wrinkling her nose.
“Duane,” said Charlotte.
“Castor,” said Ollie. “Silas! Beauregard! Sebastian! Liam! Michael! Zachary! Peter!” She was shrieking by now. The clock had almost run out. “Bentley! Edward! Lorenzo!”
Molly stood up and looked at the clock, her eyes suddenly going wide. “This is absurd!” she cried. “It’s Eugene.”
We looked from Molly to Chopper and then to Gee. The clock ran out. It buzzed.
Gee dropped the card into her lap. “I’m sorry,” she said. “That’s incorrect.”
Chopper grunted and smirked.
James was on the couch dancing. “We got the room! We won! We are the champions!”
The girls, however, had a different reaction. Ollie was shrieking at Gee for fixing the competition. Annie had to pull her back from trying to punch her teammate. Concetta and Charlotte were sobbing in each others’ arms.
You’d think there was a mansion up there.
Molly was leafing through a large book I assumed to be ‘the rules of Gryffindor tower.’
“We get their room?” Mox was staring at the girls. “Is this serious?”
I shrugged. “I guess so. A bet is a bet.” I wondered what it smelled like. Felt like. What the breeze would be like through the windows.
James was still dancing on the couch.
“You are absolutely not getting our room!” Ollie said, wagging her finger at him.
“Sorry, love.” James hopped down. “We won it and you’re ruining moving day for us. So kindly remove your belongings or they will be packed like a wild dog did it. Without bubble wrap.” He grinned.
“I have a feeling you’re not getting any for a while,” I said.
“But we get the good room.” James patted me on the back. “Priorities, mate.”
“I thought I was thinking of priorities.” I shrugged and removed myself from the common room before Annie started making me feel guilty for not losing on purpose.
Chopper, Andrew, and Mox filed in behind me.
“Moving day!” Mox cried, throwing open his trunk and shoving things inside.
“Ollie told me they have different closets,” Andrew explained, taking his perfectly pressed shirts from his wardrobe. “They were charmed a couple decades ago to accommodate more. And their bathrooms have warming granite floors.”
I thought about my cold feet in the morning. That would be nice.
And getting out of this room, which smelled like gym socks.
James burst in the door singing. “Home awaits, gents!” Not having to propose suited him well. He wasn’t even trying to murder Andrew, which I was proud of him for.
I checked my watch and looked out the window. There was someone sitting at the foot of a tree out by the lake, a book in hand. It was beginning to get dark.
“Oy, James. You mind throwing the rest of my shit in my trunk? I’ll be back.” I smiled. He stared for a moment, but I knew he wouldn’t ask while the others were there.
“Right. Sure. But you get last dibs on a bed.”
“Don’t give me Molly’s,” I said. I didn’t want to know what she and Rune did on that. “Or Ollie’s, Godric.” I grimaced, grabbed a jacket, and headed outside to see what Ryan Davies was reading.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Anyone who has seen Friends probably got the big nod to the show in this chapter :) Yay for some more Ryan in chapter 9!
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