Chapter 2 : YOUNGBLOOD
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"Put on display just like a cinema, standing naked on the stage and I'm unashamed." — 3OH!3 "YOUNGBLOOD"
Every teacher started their lessons the same way on James' first day of class.
"This is your final year as Hogwarts students. After graduation many of you will take time to travel, perhaps around Europe or perhaps around the world, as is tradition. Some of you will go on to a summer internship. Others may begin to prepare for further education in the fall. But before any of you can do this, you must first make it through your NEWTs. Your NEWTs will determine what you can do after you graduate."
And on and on and on. Different variations of the same thing: screw up in your NEWT year and become a sanitation wizard. Professor Longbottom went as far as to keep James after class to discuss his future.
"James, out of all my students graduating this year, I worry about you the most. Have you considered my advice at all?" James adjusted the strap of his bag on his shoulder and glanced around at the various magical plants housed in greenhouse three. James loved spending time in the greenhouses, a fact that not many people knew. He found the smell of wet dirt, dragon fertilizer and the organic flowery odor in the air comforting. It reminded him of summer days at the Burrow and the camping trips Aunt Hermione organized.
"Not really. Let's be honest, Professor. My mum played for the Harpies, most of my family played a large role in the rebellion against Voldemort and my dad saved the entire wizarding world. I don't even need to do well on my NEWTs. I can play quidditch professionally, if I want."
"Is that what you want, James?"
When James was younger he'd always tell people that he wanted to be a professional quidditch player like his mum. He liked the sport well enough and he did have the talent. He would do decently as a professional seeker. James was a fair captain, a fine strategist and won the cup last year in the finals against Ravenclaw.
But he just didn't have the passion for it that other students did. James was reluctant to commit himself to the idea of making a career out of the sport and he didn't know why. So when Professor Longbottom asked him if playing quidditch was what he really wanted, James just shrugged.
"James, don't you want to do well on your NEWTs? To do something for yourself?"
"What's the point? I'm a Potter. I could fail my NEWTs and still get a good job because of my name. I don't even need a job, really. I could become one of those useless celebrities who are famous for no reason and have their picture constantly printed in Witch Weekly." Professor Longbottom looked at James sadly.
"But you're not useless, James."
It was very heavy stuff for his first day of classes, indeed. Herbology was his last lesson, ending his first day back on a heavy note. Professor Longbottom gave James a sad smile and left him alone in the greenhouse. He didn't say anything else, he didn't have to. He knew that James needed to think over what he said.
James did his best thinking when he was in a state of movement. Thanks to the map he nicked from his dad's study he never worried about getting lost in the castle. So he left the greenhouse and let his feet guide him.
He ended up walking to the owlery. He looked to the rafters for familiar owls, spotting Al's snowy owl, Wick, and Lily's miniature owl, Dorothy. James visited with his barn owl, Moony, for a few minutes, stroking his feathers, before he decided to go back to Gryffindor tower to clean up a bit. He had yet to wash up since class had ended and he had dirt under his finger nails and on his jumper. It was on his way there that he ran into Lorelei Wright.
Literally. They had both been walking close to the wall. James rounded the corner first knocking her backwards with a soft oomph, his bag falling to the floor with a muffled thud. She pivoted to lean against the wall in an attempt to keep her balance, but dropped the textbook she had been reading. She righted herself, but kept her eyes downcast. She began to apologize profusely before James could utter a word.
"I'm so sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going. I really should have been paying attention to my surroundings." Her voice was soft, as if speaking too loudly might incur James' wrath. His first instinct was to brush it off. It had, after all, been an accident. He was as much to blame as she was. But then he looked at her and it triggered something in his memory. He could only see the top of her head, part of her forehead, the tips of her eyelashes and the light blush on her cheeks.
"Look at me," he requested. His tone had been mild but she reacted instantly. She had to crane her neck to look him in the eye at such close proximity, but when she did he nearly stopped breathing. She wasn't like how he imagined and yet she wasn't quite what he remembered, either.
He remembered his brother, beaming with happiness and pride, his arm around the waist of a short wiry girl with shiny blonde hair (a bit on the "yellow" side), a wide grin and unremarkable blue eyes. He remembered an unapologetic jittery girl sitting next to him in the Gryffindor changing room, jiggling her leg with nerves and pent up energy. He remembered a thirteen year old girl.
That girl had blossomed into the young woman in front of him. She had grown up quite a bit in her time away from Hogwarts. If she stood on the tips of her toes she could probably rest her chin on his shoulder. Her figure had rounded out and even her face seemed plumper. Her hair, an ashy blonde, was frizzy and pulled back in a messy bun with small pieces falling out (or maybe she had missed them while putting her hair up). She was stoic under his gaze, her face unreadable.
But her eyes... blimey her eyes. They were blue-grey and stormy. Clouds of grey shifting in conflict with blue so clear it could be lightning. There was an emotional in her eyes that he had only seen in from people who had suffered a great deal. He saw the same thing in the eyes of those who stood against Voldemort. James felt a bit queasy looking into her eyes for so long, so he lowered his gaze to her mouth. Her lips were slightly parted and neither pulled up into a smile or tugged down to frown at him.
"Lorelei Wright," he acknowledged in an even tone after a tense moment. She dropped her gaze to the ground abruptly, staring at his trainers.
"James Potter," she mimicked, but her heart wasn't in it. Her tone lacked the proper amount of sass for it to be considered rude. She sounded tired and flat to him. In one swift and languid movement she had stooped down to pick up her book and moved around him. He was momentarily at a loss of what to do with himself after such an abrupt departure. James snapped out of it by swooping down to retrieve his bag where he noticed a bit of white paper on the ground. He slid his nail along the stone until he was able to get it under the corner and pick it up.
When he turned it over he was confronted with the unmoving image of a small child. Perhaps it could even be considered a baby, James wasn't sure. It had to be somewhere between one and three years old and judging by the pink dress it was a she.. Her wide blue eyes looked directly at the camera, her jaw slack, head cocked to the side. It was a look of curiosity so pure and innocent that only an infant could pull it off.
James rounded the corner to call out to Lorelei, but she was gone. He could only assume that the photo belonged to her. With a careless shrug he slipped it into his bag with no intention of seeking her out. If she wanted the picture back she could approach him. She wasn't worth his time.
"Where's Al?" James asked the small collection of Weasleys (and Lily) seated at the end of the Gryffindor table.
"Eating with the Slytherins." Fred answered matter of factly at the same time that Lily replied. "Avoiding Lorelei Wright."
"And that is why he wasn't sorted into Gryffindor." James remarked jokingly. He and his family spent their dinner chatting about their first impressions of their classes amicably. He left out his chat with Neville and his run in with his little brother's ex-girlfriend. Rose, who was seated on Lily's other side, was joined near the end of the meal by Lorelei Wright. She walked right in front of James, catching his full attention, and stopped in front of his cousin.
"Rose, may I please have a seat? I have something to ask you." Rose surveyed the girl with thinly veiled interest while the Weasleys and Potters outright stared (not bothering to veil their interest at all). The other surrounding students pretended to be discreet about watching the interaction.
"Sure, Lorelei." Rose conceded. Lorelei pulled her skirt tightly to her legs after stepping over the bench and smoothed out the creases after she sat. Her gaze was drawn to the ceiling of the great hall and the corners of her lips pulled upwards in a small smile.
"I still remember the time your cousin broke the enchantment on the ceiling. I thought for sure he was going to be expelled for making it rain in the great hall." James smirked at the memory. He had thought of the idea the summer before third year. He spent all his free time in the library that year but couldn't figure out how to break the enchantment. The solution came from his Uncle Ron. James had been sneaking into the kitchen for something sweet when he overheard his uncle talking to his parents.
"... Only in the Department of International Magical Cooperation." James' father remarked.
"I remember when it was raining in Yaxley's office. Was a tricky charm to clear up but impressive none the less. I'd have given it a go if I had been working at the Ministry with that git."
Within a month James had mastered the charm. He had nearly been expelled for it. The staff was furious that he had broken a charm that had lasted for more than a thousand years. He had desecrated a piece of history! The portrait of Albus Dumbledore had talked sense into the Headmaster and James admitted that he hadn't actually broken the charm. Professor Flitwick was able to reverse it quite easily once James had told him what charm he used.
"So what did you want to ask me?" Rose prompted, bringing Lorelei and James back to the present. Lorelei forced a smile at Rose and begin to speak quickly, as if someone might stop her from getting it all out.
"Well, as I'm sure you're aware, I've been away from school for a while. Some of the Professors are worried that I'm not up to snuff on the material. They've suggested that I ask you for help with our mutual subjects. I'm fine with Arithmancy, Potions and Ancient Runes but I'm seriously lacking in the practical execution for Charms, Defense and Transfiguration. I don't expect you to help me with three classes, Rose. Any help you'd be willing to offer would be appreciated." Lorelei finished with a deep breath and stared at James' cousin with wide, hope filled eyes.
Rose bit her lip while she contemplated. It was no secret to those at Hogwarts that Rose was the top student in Charms (for her year) and her ability to think on her feet gave her a distinct advantage in Defense. It was a family secret that Rose struggled with Transfiguration. That was the subject she had to try her hardest in and spent most of her time practicing.
In fact, if James recalled, Al tutored Rose in Transfiguration last year. It physically pained Rose to admit that she needed his help to pass her OWL. James watched, smirking in amusement, as Rose struggled to answer Lorelei.
"I can definitely get you up to speed in Charms..." Rose began slowly. "And I could try to help with Defense but... I can't help you with Transfiguration." Rose breathed a sigh of relief when she had finished. Lorelei smiled, a genuine smile, and James marveled at how it transformed her. She sat up straighter, her shoulders relaxed and her lips twisted in a relaxed grin.
"That's fine, that's totally fine. Having you help with Charm and Defense is more than I could ask for. Um, you wouldn't happen to know anyone who excels in Transfiguration, would you? The thing is I didn't quite qualify for NEWTs and have two months to get up to snuff before Nott chucks me out of the class." The air crackled with tension.
"Al's the best in his year," Lily supplied for Rose, looking Lorelei up and down with disdain (a show of Potter solidarity, James supposed).
"Oh," Lorelei muttered, shoulder slumped and eyes cast downward. "That's alright then, I'll talk to Professor Longbottom about my options." She looked up and forced a grin at Rose. "Thanks again, Rose. You're the best." Lorelei moved to get up from the table when Rose stopped her.
"Wait! Um, how was your first day?" Rose asked meekly, cheeks flushed. Lorelei tilted her head to the side and surveyed James' cousin thoughtfully. She slowly lowered herself back to the bench, teeth tugging at her lower lip. After a short pause she released her lower lip, dark red where the blood had pooled.
"It's going really well. People have been talking behind my back all day but that's alright. I bet tomorrow people start coming up to me to confirm or deny some of these ridiculous rumours. It'll be really annoying since I'm so far behind with my studies." Lorelei admitted quietly. James imperceptibly shook his head at Lily. She gave him a grim smile in return. Lorelei Wright had no idea what it was like.
James had been the first Potter kid at Hogwarts. He couldn't go anywhere in the castle or do anything without someone interrupting him to ask him stupid questions about his family. A process that repeated every year with each new batch of first years. It wasn't so bad when Al and Rose started Hogwarts in his second year. They were bothered far more frequently than he was (being in the same year as the ickle firsties and more "approachable"). The same went for when Lily and Hugo started Hogwarts. The children of the Golden Trio had it far worse than Lorelei Wright ever would.
"You don't get bothered quite as much when you're in the library. It's mostly Ravenclaws who don't care and the quiet intimidates people." Rose advised her, a handy fact that she had learned early in her first year.
"Thanks, Rose. I'll keep that in mind." And Lorelei Wright smiled gratefully at James' cousin. This didn't sit well with Lily who scoffed and moved down the table to sit with Hugo and their friends. Her retreat left behind an awkward and tense silence.
"Did you hear the rumour that you were sent to Azkaban for trying to kill my uncle?" Rose asked to break the silence. Lorelei gave a dry, humourless laugh.
"No, but I did hear that I was possessed by the ghost of Voldemort." This set the two girls off laughing and when they stopped the silence was comfortable and familiar.
"I missed this," Lorelei admitted quietly. It occurred to James then that his cousin and Lorelei had been friends before she disappeared. In fact, they had probably been friends before Al and Lorelei had ever dated. James wondered if it had been through Rose or classes that the two had met.
"Me too," Rose agreed even more quietly. She cleared her throat and began in a louder voice. "So are you going to try out for the quidditch team this year?"
James could see that the sudden change in topic had startled Lorelei. She faltered for a moment, opening and closing her mouth before she cleared her own throat.
"I'd like to, but I'm really far behind. I might just have to sit this year out and try next year."
"Oh Lorelei, you were such a good chaser. You should at least try out. It has been proven by muggles that joining a club or a sports team is actually beneficial to a students' academic life."
Lorelei tentatively began to load up her plate while Rose prattled on about useless muggle information. James tuned his cousin out and waited impatiently for dessert to be served.
A special thank you to hiddenbyhair for giving me my first review.
YOUNGBLOOD belongs to 3OH!3 another fun band I suggest you check out. I dare you not to bounce in your seat.
Once upon a time I was looking at a picture and couldn't help but notice how nice someone's eyes were. It inspired this story. J.K. Rowling created this really awesome world of witches and wizards and these characters. She owns them. I just own Lorelei Wright (dance monkey, dance) and I hope you grow to love her.
Thanks for reading. Please review.
xoxo The Tired Magician
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