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Ever After by The Tired Magician
Chapter 1 : Everybody Talks
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6

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Chapter 1: Everybody Talks

Chapter Image by Ginnykar @ TDA

"Oh my, my, shit, everybody talks, everybody talks, everybody talks too much." Neon Trees "Everybody Talks"

James wouldn't admit it to anyone, but he was feeling nostalgic when Lily came running into the great hall. It was, after all, his last first breakfast at Hogwarts. Unless he got expelled, but as it hasn't happened yet, he didn't think it very likely. When he was made captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team last year his troublemaking days had dwindled. Between practices, planning strategy and maintaining his grades, he hadn't had much time for pranks or silly altercations. This unfortunately also meant that he had grown apart from his best friend, and cousin, Fred.

It was the fond memories of pranks in the great hall that had his attention when his baby sister practically fell into the seat between him and Fred (also suffering from a minor case of seventh year nostalgia) and across from Albus.

"Al, you'll never believe who I just saw." She stated breathlessly. James raised an eyebrow at her disheveled hair and wild eyes. His baby sister had only recently turned fifteen and begun to grow into her womanly figure. Her lips were glossed, her eyelashes elongated and her flaming red hair curled loosely. More often than not, her warm brown eyes glinted with the knowledge of gossip. No matter how hard he looked, James couldn't see the little girl with dirt on her face who wanted so desperately to play quidditch with him and their older cousins in the orchard at The Burrow.

"A Weasley cousin, perhaps?" Al responded drily, not bothering to look up from his plate. James snorted over his toast in appreciation at his younger brother's humour. While James' brand of comedy was all energy and performance, Albus' style was subdued. James gesticulated funny stories, pulled pranks and delivered punchlines. Albus was a master of delivering a clever remark sarcastically at the right moment. Most of the time Al's wit went over people's heads but James enjoyed his younger brother's subtle brand of comedy. Lily, however, was not amused by Albus' dry and uncaring response.

"I don't think I'll tell you. It'll serve you right." Lily huffed and began to fill her plate with various fruits. James and Al exchanged looks across the table. James arched his eyebrow and Al rolled his eyes. Lily was horrible at keeping any sort of gossip to herself and everyone knew it. Fred snickered at the exchange and ruffled Lily's hair while he stood up.

"Good luck keeping that information to yourself, Little Lily." He teased genially. Fred flashed the Potter kids a bright grin before turning toward the Hufflepuff table where his girlfriend sat amongst her friends. Her face lit up with a grin when she saw Fred approaching. The two were still so obviously in the first stages of young love. It made James sick to his stomach.

"I won't say a word! I won't!" Lily hollered to her cousin's retreating back. No more than a minute had passed when she slapped the top of the table and turned to her brothers with wide eyes.

"Bloody hell, I can't keep it in any longer!" With both palms flat on the table she leaned across the table and lowered her voice. "Al, I saw Lorelei Wright heading to Gryffindor tower with Neville." Lily fell back in her seat staring imploringly at Al with her wide brown eyes. The same warm brown as James, their mum and Nana Molly.

"Professor Longbottom." Al corrected automatically. He caught himself before he made eye contact with Lily. The action caused him to stare awkwardly at his goblet of pumpkin juice, his face carefully arranged into a disinterested mask. James looked for an explanation from his younger brother but Al wouldn't meet his eyes. Al was the picture of cool indifference (as cool as one could be while staring at pumpkin juice) so James turned his gaze expectantly to his frenzied sister.

"Who's Lorelei Wright?" James asked when he realized no one was going to explain. Lily gaped at him incredulously. Her jaw quivered for a moment before her mouth closed with an audible click.

"Who in the hell is Lorelei bleeding Wright?" She shrieked while slapping his arm in quick succession. James barely felt a thing, having grown up with so many cousins and playing quidditch, but Lily had gained the attention of people sitting nearby with her dramatics. "Only the girl who broke Al's heart!"

"She didn't break my heart!" Al denied quickly, scowling at his sister and anyone who dared look at them. The surrounding students looked away at his gaze but were clearly still listening. James raised his eyebrow at Albus' white knuckled grip on his silverware. Noticing James' look, Al dropped his knife and fork with a clang that drew the attention of students at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables.

"Oh come on, Al. You were in love with her. There's nothing wrong with that!" Lily leaned across the table and gave her brother an encouraging smile. Al didn't let his mask slip one inch.

"I was not in love with her, Lily." Al replied coolly. "I was fourteen. I merely enjoyed being able to snog her regularly." Lily shook her head at her brother with a condescending smirk. She crossed her arms and tossed her hair over her shoulder in a prelude to what was sure to be a winning argument.

"Then why haven't you had a girlfriend since you and Lorelei broke up?" Al's lips twitched in annoyance before he smirked and James perked up. Who needed nostalgia when nothing ever seemed to change? Al and Lily always argued ("debated" as Al would say) over breakfast. While it usually got under their mother's skin, James found the whole situation entertaining. His siblings were pretty evenly matched. Al had cunning on his side but Lily was all fire. Often times Al would give up because in his opinion the fight wouldn't be worth the energy. If he was about to continue then it was because he had something amazing up his sleeve.

"Because, Lily, I realized that relationships are a waste of time. Girlfriends demand a lot of attention and there is the hassle of remembering anniversaries, buying the right kind of flowers and watching what you say around them or their friends. Why bother with the responsibility of a monogamous relationship when there are girls who are willing to snog a bloke without any strings attached?" James laughed at Lily's flustered expression. She quickly rearranged her features into a fierce glare.

"And which girls are those?" She asked scathingly. Al considered his sister's question for a moment before grinning.

"Ravenclaw birds. They get all stressed out about exams and homework. What better way to relieve some of the tension than a snog? They don't have time for a boyfriend. Don't want to risk their grades, do they? Yeah, it's usually a Ravenclaw." James beamed and raised his hand swiftly for a high five. Al slapped it eagerly and smirked.

"And the winner of the Potter sibling morning row is Albus Severus." James announced in a booming voice to the surrounding eavesdroppers. Al's smirk fell into a scowl to match Lily's. She quickly bounced back from the defeat by leaning over the table and lowering her voice considerably so that James had to strain to hear her.

"Deny it all you want, Al. It was obvious when it happened that she broke your heart."

"She can't have. I don't have a heart. Excuse me, I see Professor Nott is handing out class schedules." Al wiped his hands on a scarlet napkin and stood quickly from the table. James checked over his shoulder and could see Professor Nott descending from the staff table along with Professor Finch-Fletchley and the aged Professor Flitwick. James searched the hall but couldn't see Professor Longbottom anywhere. He shrugged and returned to his breakfast but didn't get very far before Lily spoke again.

"I can't believe you don't remember Lorelei Wright." James sighed and took a sip of pumpkin juice before he responded.

"I don't understand why I should remember her."

"For one thing she was on the Gryffindor quidditch team with you, prat. Your fourth year, her third. She was a chaser."

"Well I'm a Seeker, aren't I? I don't exactly work with the chasers on the team. Not like I was captain that year. You can't really blame me for not remembering her." James defended himself but Lily merely raised her voice to talk over him.

"For another thing, she broke your brother's heart! Before Christmas! Through a bloody letter! Al was so upset that he--" Lily cut off abruptly, eyeing the students nearby. She leaned in close to James and began to whisper. "Al was so upset that he came to you crying so hard that he threw up!"

James remembered that happening. He had been writing a letter to a girl he fancied when Al quite literally fell into his room. James had opened his mouth to demand that the intruder leave when he was shocked into silence. His little brother was crouched on all fours his face pressed into the rug. At first James's eyes and ears weren't coordinating. Then he could hear the desperate gasping breaths and heart wrenching sobs. Al was crying so loud and so hard that James thought he was going to pass out. Al pounded the floor, his hand curled around a bunched up bit of parchment. James had just kneeled next to his brother when Al lifted his head. James would never forget his brother's red splotchy face, cheeks damp, eyes red and swollen. There was a brief moment when they made eye contact and then Al threw up.

But James could not summon up an image of the girl who broke his little brother's heart.

"Ah, yes. I swore to him that I'd forget that ever happened." James cringed away from the memory. There was just too much material to tease Al with. So much, in fact, that James' head hurt from all the thoughts that tried to form at one time. The reality that Al came to him when he was in that much pain kept James from ever thinking about it.

"I could never forget it. I've never seen someone so upset!" Yet the fact that no one but the Potters knew about it just proved that, like James, Lily grasped the seriousness of Al's pain. Though James suspected mum and dad had told Nana Molly, Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron about Al's first heartbreak. If any of the Weasley cousins knew they were smart enough to keep their mouths shut about it.

"Who's upset?" Rose asked, taking Al's vacated seat. She glanced down at the remaining bits of his breakfast and frowned. "Ah, damn. I've missed Al, haven't I?" James adopted an expression of severe disappointment.

"Yes, you have. You've missed Fred, too. Where have you been, dearest Rosie?" He could see her tongue poking between her teeth as she scrunched up her face in distaste.

"Don't call me Rosie, Jimmy. And the girls in my dorm wanted to tame the beast. I may be my mum's daughter but it's a bit of effort to disarm three people. I couldn't be bothered." Rose pushed Al's plate to the side and leaned over to pick up a clean plate.

"I think your hair looks lovely, Rose." Lily complimented. James hadn't noticed before but Rose's usually bushy curls did look different from last night. For one thing it had gotten longer, for another it was wavy instead of curly. It also wasn't as frizzy as it usually was.

"Yeah, lovely." James agreed, after an elbow to his side from Lily. Rose smiled and began to make up her plate. There wasn't much left to choose from thanks to James, Fred and Al.

"Thanks, I don't care either way." James sighed, why did girls always lie? "Anyway, Lily I've been wanting to ask you something. Last night when we went to sleep there were four beds in our room. When we woke up this morning there were five. Do you know anything about it?"

Lily's eyes lit up as she began to fill in Rose on Lorelei Wright's return. James rolled his eyes at his gossiping sister and thanked Merlin that Professor Longbottom had finally showed up with the class schedules.

Everybody was talking about it. Lorelei Wright had returned to Hogwarts! Everyone in third year and up seemed to be speculating on the girl's return to school. James couldn't help but scoff at some people's blatant lies.

Lorelei Wright was kidnapped by Death Eaters because she was dating Al Potter.

Lorelei Wright's parents pulled her out of school because they believed she was possessed by the devil.

Lorelei Wright dropped out to follow the Weird Sisters on their reunion tour.

Lorelei Wright got knocked up by Al Potter, left school to have the baby in secret and then sold it.

The Daily Prophet would have reported if Death Eaters had resurfaced. Even if they didn't, The Quibbler would have (Lily's godmother, Luna Scamander, would have made sure of it). There's no way that Lorelei's parents would have let her attend school for years and then suddenly decide she was working for the devil. It just wasn't logical (as many Ravenclaw's pointed out). Lorelei is muggleborn. She doesn't even know who the Weird Sisters are (Lily explained during lunch). James would know if his brother had lost his virginity. Al would have told him. At least, James was pretty sure Al would tell him.

Despite the outlandish rumours there were a few plausible theories.

Lorelei Wright had to leave school because she was ill.

Lorelei Wright transferred because she didn't want to see Al anymore.

Lorelei Wright had to stay home and take care of her dying mother/father/sibling/grandparent.

Lorelei Wright moved to North America.

James had yet to actually see the girl whose name was on everybody's lips. All this talking had built up an image of her in his mind. James thought she might be blonde and tall (he remembered a tall blonde girl on the house team in his fourth year) with dark brown eyes and a constant smirk on her thin lips.

But when James ran into her in the corridor he found that she was nothing like he imagined.

Author Note/Disclaimer:
J.K. Rowling created the wonderful world of Harry Potter related things, including the Next Gen. I'm just playing here. Everybody Talks is a Neon Trees creation (I highly suggest them as they are a fun musical artist). Lorelei Wright is my OC and you'll meet her next chapter.

Thanks for reading. Please review.

xoxo The Tired Magician

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