Chapter 1 : The Unexpected Promotion
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It takes me a while to read letters. It’s not that I’m dyslexic or anything, I just that I have this weird thing for observing handwriting. And the letter I was reading was like handwriting porn.
I knew this handwriting. It was neat, thin and cursive, with the letters leaning ever so slightly to the right. There was seven lines of “xoxo’s” written at the bottom. The sender had written the word “sorry” no less than twenty-two times. Merlin, I hated this girl. Simply hated her.
Well, actually no. I loved her. Quite a bit too. The letter was from my best friend Maya. She wasn’t going to be on the Hogwarts express today. In fact she wouldn’t be at Hogwarts at all. Like ever. She was moving to India. A whole different continent.
Why did she need to move with her family anyway? Surely Maya’s family could live without Maya for a few years, couldn’t they? COULDN’T THEY?
Oh Merlin, I’m going mental. Maya had told me she was moving months ago and now I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown.
You’re probably thinking ‘Hey, that’s not so bad. You have other friends, right?’
But you see, I’m one of those people who have one best friend, a group of people in my classes, and then a group of people I make awkward eye contact with.
Actually, scratch that. I make awkward eye contact with everyone. Except Maya. And now I had to go back to Hogwarts without her.
“Now Sophie, I want you to try extra hard this year to make the Quidditch team.”
I groaned dramatically, tugging violently on the seatbelt of the front seat. Dad always brought this up on the way to King’s Cross. I’m not even kidding. Every single year.
“Dad, I told you – I’ve already been selected for the Quidditch team.”
“But they’ve made you bloody reserve chaser! You’re better than that, Sweetheart.”
“No, Dad, I’m not. The whole Gryffindor Quidditch team is practically made up of the Potters and Weasleys. Quidditch takes human form in that family. Tell him, Charlie!” I barked at my little brother, who was sitting in the back seat, cleaning his ears vigorously.
“She’s right, Dad.” Charlie sighed, extracting his finger out of his ear and wiping it on his pants. God, thirteen year olds are disgusting. “James Potter, Roxanne Weasley and Louis Weasley are the permanent chasers, then it’s Sophie as reserve.”
My brother was the seeker on the team, the talented arse. It was inevitable really; my Dad had played Quidditch for England. Now he was a commentator. And not just any commentator, he was Cormac McLaggen, one of the most aggressive and harshest commentators of all time. It’s the worst, because every time he says something about a team or player that shocks the Quidditch nation, I need to shrivel up and die for a week; to avoid dirty looks.
But putting Quidditch aside, Dad’s lovely. I mean, everyone’s got that one person in their life who’s just misunderstood by the general public. I really don’t know how my Mum stands it.
We got to King’s Cross and pushed our way into Platform 9 and 3/4. Dad felt the need to enclose Charlie and I in a family bear hug me and gave us both embarrassingly heartfelt kisses, just as a group of popular Slytherin sluts walked by.
I face-palmed myself mentally.
I am sixteen years old, Father Dearest.
“Okay, Bye Dad!” I said as hurriedly but affectionately as I could, kissing him on the cheek.
I was already in the thick of the crowd when I heard “Bye Sweetheart!”
I pushed my trolley over to the trunk carriage. Then I realised what a bad idea it was to have run away from Charlie and Dad. I positioned my hands on my trunk and heaved, but I could barely lift the thing 3 inches off the trolley. I huffed and dropped it back onto the trolley. After three unsuccessful attempts I decided to just leave my trunk near the train carriage; surely someone would put it in for me … So I started backing away from the trunk.
“Do you need help with that?” someone asked.
I looked around for the source of the offer and my eyes found Albus Potter. The little famous child in the year under me. He looked a lot like his brother. Sigh. With all the fame and fuss surrounding his family, I never thought he’d be the typical “Need help with that?” kind of guy.
“Yeah, I would, if you don’t mind.” I replied, smiling, awkwardly walking back towards my trunk.
Together, we placed it into the trunk carriage, and turned to get back on the platform when someone carelessly plonked their trunk in front of the way we were walking. Albus tripped on it first and fell out of door of the carriage, back onto the platform. In a big blur, I found myself tripping right after him, flying through the air and then landing on top of him.
“Oh Merlin, I’m so sorry!” I yelped. I struggled off him hastily.
Fred Weasley suddenly appeared, towering over us, waggling his eyebrows at me and Albus.
“And what is going on here?” He asked suggestively, smiling mischievously.
“Nothing.” I replied, trying to sound chilled. I looked over at Albus and his face was fire truck red.
Why was he so embarrassed? I mean, we just fell over together. Surely I wasn’t that bad to be seen in public with? Was I?
I looked down self-consciously and realised the straps of my singlet were hanging off my shoulders, exposing my frilled bra to the world. I was horrified.
It was one of my worst pieces of underwear; my mum bought it for me when I was thirteen. Emblazoned across my bra were the words “CUDDLY BABE”. Accompanied by a little diamante motif of a cupcake.
I kid you not.
I fixed my singlet quickly. Great, now I was going red. Albus and I did not look chilled. And it definitely didn’t look like we’d been doing nothing.
To top it all off, James Potter and his mates came up behind Fred, eyebrows raised.
“I know Mum told you to enjoy yourself, but I didn’t think she meant it like that, little bro.” James said mockingly, winking one of those twinkling brown eyes at me.
I tried to roll my eyes but ended up gulping really, really loudly. I hate how saliva just builds up at the exact wrong moment. Seriously mouth, how many times do I have to tell you to control your salivary glands when I’m looking at James Potter?
Potter, Fred Weasley and their little gang (which consisted of Connor Peakes, some douchey Quidditch players and a progression of annoyingly pretty girls) continued to amble into the train, a few of them making exaggerated sexy faces at us.
“They are immature arses. I’m really sorry.” Albus apologised, looking thoroughly mortified.
“Don’t worry about it.” I assured him, nearly choked up in humiliation. “Thanks for your help.”
And before anything else embarrassing could happen, I leapt onto the train and started navigating myself through the narrow corridor packed with groups of people hugging, chatting, screaming and snogging. I caught a glimpse of James Potter and Co. in one of the front carriages and felt a slight twinge of annoyance.
I mean, he just walked up to Albus and I, and (EVEN THOUGH WE ARE IN THE SAME YEAR AND HOUSE AND HE BLOODY KNOWS ME) he didn’t say hi. And then he decides to be a git and crack a dirty joke.
Okay, it’s not the dirty joke that he said. I’m fine with that - make as many dirty jokes about me that you want people. What irritated me is the fact that he didn’t say hi. You don’t make dirty jokes about people without saying hi. It’s like getting a subscription to The Quibbler. You just don’t do that.
Of course, popular people don’t say hi to just anyone. It’s part of their image. Whatever. I was over it. He did see my bra though. I mean that deserves a ‘hi’, or at least a ‘hey’. I sighed. Popular people are always thinking that they’re the bee’s knees.
So my mind was rambling on about society’s view of popularity when the train started moving and I heard someone screech “SOOOOOPHIE!”
Okay, let me just get something off my chest. Before, when I was saying Maya was my only friend, I was lying. I do have a rather spectacular group of friends but I didn’t want you to get your hopes up about my popularity, because really, I’m nobody.
Anyway Dominique Weasley, also known as the human Barbie, ran down the corridor, arms outstretched, strawberry blonde hair streaming behind her like strands of satin.
Strands of satin? Wow. If I fail my NEWTs, I’m sure as hell becoming a poet.
Dom hugged me tightly. I squeezed her and she started rocking us from side to side, causing us to get weird looks from onlookers.
“Heeey Dom,” I said, letting go of her, but she wasn’t letting go of me. “Dom, Let go of me.”
“I’ve missed you so much Soph, you don’t understand.” She said into my shoulder. Well, actually into my back. See, I was so short, that people basically slumped over me to hug me.
“Well I didn’t miss you one bit.” boomed the Irish-accented voice of my mate, Tom Finnegan. I looked at him dejectedly, miming a heart attack.
“Only joking! How have you been Miss McLaggen?” He asked, putting his arm around my shoulders and leading me into the compartment.
“I’ve been bored as dung Mr Finnegan! All Dad wanted to do all summer was play Quidditch and I couldn’t even palm him off to Charlie, because he was at his friend’s place.”
“Ah well,” said my other friend, Raymond Thomas, who was sitting inside. “Maybe this year, Potter will pick you for the team and we can be Quidditch buddies!”
Ray was the beater on the team, along with Fred Weasley.
“I doubt it.” I muffled into his shoulder as I hugged him.
“Don’t stop believing!” Ray sang, half mockingly - half encouragingly, patting my head softly.
Ray was such a sweetie. So was Tom. It was probably why they were best friends.
Maya and I often wondered why the two of them had such bad luck with girls, to which Dom would wisely reply ‘Girls like guys who treat them like merde.’
I looked over at Dom, who was staring at me with her head cocked to the side. Dom was a funny one. She used to be much better friends with Maya and I, but as time progressed and puberty hit us all, Dom became this social butterfly who could hang with anyone if she wanted. Maya remained the smarty pants. I slowly became an awkward, shy flobberworm of a human being.
“Why are your cheeks so red?” Dom observed. Curse her awesome observing skills.
I felt my flaming cheeks and cursed myself.
“I kind of body slammed Albus Potter onto the platform before. And then flashed everyone my bra.” I mumbled ashamedly, “And then James Potter came around and implied that his brother and I were …” I broke off, unsure how to phrase it.
“Doing it?” Tom suggested, unabashedly.
“Yes.” I replied tightly, to Tom and Ray’s sniggering.
“Were you though?” Asked Dom, her eyes wary.
“No! Of course not! Ugh, he’s like fifteen.” I replied, scandalised.
“More importantly - he’s my cousin!”
“Oh yeah, that too.” I muttered uncomfortably.
Dom and I shared a communicating look. Her eyes were widened, questioning me. I squinted in disgust, shaking my head side to side. The boys looked confused and went back to their chess game.
Here’s the explanation, people - basically, I used to have a big crush on James Potter. This was back during my first three years at Hogwarts. Only Maya knew. Then in third year, Maya accidentally blurted it to Dom and Dom was all “Oh no you didn’t, girlfriend! James is my cousin!” Insert Dom clicking her fingers in a z- formation here. Anyway, being the dramatic thirteen year old Dom was, she demanded I stop liking him. She even set me up on dates with some of her ex-boyfriends (yes, Dom is weird like that).
But it was for the best. James is a big arse now days and if Dom hadn’t told me off, I would have been one of those idiots who would probably lick his shoes for him if he asked.
Dom was still looking at me suspiciously. I put my thumbs up at her.
“It’s all good Dom, I don’t like Albus. Or Ja- you know who. Not anymore.” Smiling, I turned to watch Tom’s queen behead one of Ray’s bishops.
“Seriously, you need to cool down your cheeks, Soph.” Raymond said, passing me his water bottle.
I pressed the cool bottle against my face.
“Not those cheeks…” Tom added, winking.
I winked back at Tom and slowly began moving Ray’s bottle toward my backside.
Ray snatched the bottle out of my hands and donged Tom and I on our heads with it.
“Idiots.” Ray laughed under his breath.
“You’re so lucky Sophie – you never need blush.” Dom said thoughtfully, checking her own perfect pale reflection in her mirror before handing it to me.
I huffed at my reflection. I always look like I’ve stuck my head in an exploding cauldron.
My hair is very nearly a blonde afro - it’s like a million long, blonde ringlets trying but failing to be influenced by gravity. I usually tie it back as tightly as humanly possible but this morning I was feeling pretty hippie so I just left it.
Then there are my eyes. I like the fact that they are a blue-green-grey colour. But they are bloody humungous. I mean, I know it’s supposed to be a good thing, but I think my eyes borderline scary size.
Pair those eyes with frequently pink cheeks, blonde ringlets and a severe height disadvantage and you’ve got yourself one of those dolls you had when you were two years old. Probably given to you by a random Aunt with a hairy mole. Okay, maybe that’s just me.
But, compared to Dom, I’m a moose. She’s gorgeous. Tall and slim with silky straight hair to die for.
A sudden wave of hatred for my hair came over me. I was about to ask Dom to braid it for me when a loud shout outside interrupted me. It was followed by a thump.
“What was that?” Dom asked me.
“I don’t know.” I shrugged.
She poked her tongue out at me randomly and we leaned out of the compartment to survey the situation.
It seemed that further down the train, someone was pinning someone else up to a wall by the collar of their shirt. It was very American-teen-drama style. Dom and I hustled excitedly with the crowd toward the commotion.
The person doing the pinning was none other than James Potter, looking pissed off as hell. But he was still looking really hot in that pissed off macho-man kind of way. Ahem. Anyway, due to me being vertically challenged, I couldn’t see the person he had pinned against the wall. But I could see Lily Potter, clinging onto her brother’s arm, screaming at him in high screechy tones.
“Let him go James! Put him down now you overprotective git!” She shrieked, pounding her brother’s arm.
Dom inhaled sharply under her breath.
“What is it?” I asked, stumbling on my tippy toes.
“Come on.” She pulled me towards the front.
I still couldn’t see the poor guy getting pinned to the wall. But I could hear him spluttering at Potter, who firing questions at him, one after the other.
“How long have you known my sister? How do you even know her?”
“Let go of me ...please.” the boy choked at Potter.
That sounded familiar. They were the words I heard whenever I tackled my brother to the ground for the front seat in the car.
I gasped and looked over at Dom.
She jerked her head in a ‘Get over there!’ kind of way.
I shoved through the few people in front of me, and then I saw him, pinned against the wall.
Charlie, red in the face, with his blonde curls all over the place. His eyes were wide with pleading, and I could tell he was feeling self-conscious.
Sisterly protective rage flooded into me like a tsunami. No one can make my brother look like that, except me. And then, I couldn’t help it. My inner Dad came out.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I yelled. Potter’s shocked face quickly snapped towards mine. A few people gasped. Even I froze for a second.
What the hell had I just done?
“Got your shirt back on then?” Potter replied chirpily, recomposing himself.
I blushed furiously as people behind me muttered.
“If you don’t mind, I’m teaching this tosser a lesson.” He continued.
“That tosser happens to be my brother, and yes, I do mind. Put him down. Now.” I snapped back, trying to keep my voice from wavering.
Potter just raised his eyebrows.
“Okay,” I replied coolly.
I don’t know how, but suddenly my wand was out and pointing at him.
Fred Weasley then lurched forward next to me, with his arms up in the air, his fingers in the peace sign.
“PEACE!” He shouted dramatically, with his eyes closed.
Everyone laughed at Fred and he opened his eyes, looking amused.
“Just put the kid down James.” Dom said exasperatedly.
“Yeah, just put him down.” Someone else agreed. I think it was Rose Weasley.
Potter looked around at the crowd for the first time, and I saw a little sparkle in his eyes. It looked like he was pleased with himself for attracting so much attention.
He whispered something in Charlie’s ear and then let go of his shirt.
“Keep a leash on your brother.” He said to me as he pushed past. “And by the way, nice bra.”
He and his friends walked away and the crowd started to disperse.
“Charlie!” I rushed toward my poor brother, who was massaging his neck. “Are you okay?”
I realised I had said that in sync with Lily Potter. What the hell.
“I’m alright.” Charlie replied feebly.
“Why the hell was Potter doing that to you?” I demanded.
Charlie looked nervously over at Lily and then back at me.
“Well?” I asked impatiently, arms crossed.
“He – uh – he saw me and – uh – Lily together.” He mumbled, cheeks flushed.
I looked from Charlie to Lily, who were both blushing like crazy.
“And what exactly were you two doing that made him go nuts?” I asked, reluctant to hear the answer.
“We were just– uh – we were – uh –,”Charlie stammered.
What would’ve made Potter so mad and overprotective that he nearly throttled Charlie? I started to feel a bit sick. Charlie was thirteen and Lily was only twelve. Surely they wouldn’t-
Suddenly Lily burst out from next to me in exasperation.
“For Merlin’s sake, we were just holding hands!”
Holding hands. Potter had pinned my brother against a wall for holding hands with his sister. Merlin’s beard.
Several hours later, when we had reached Hogwarts, Tom and Ray were still chuckling over the Charlie-and-Lily Potter-holding-hands incident.
“I mean, I’ve lived in James’s dormitory for five years and I honestly didn’t know he was so nuts.” Ray said, climbing out of the carriage that was pulled by nothing.
“Yeah, I mean he always seems so chilled.” replied Tom, shaking his head.
“He probably doesn’t want Lily to end up like all the girls he’s been with.” Dom reasoned.
“Slags.” I couldn’t help muttering under my breath. Well, they were slags.
Dom didn’t hear me, because she was distracted by Professor Robins, the Head of Gryffindor house, calling to the crowd of people trying to walk into the entrance hall.
“I need to see Dominique Weasley, Beth Wood, Violet Clearwater and Sophie McLaggen in my office immediately!”
Professor Robins had just mentioned all the sixth-year, Gryffindor girls. I looked at Dom with wide eyes and saw her gulp. Had we left our dormitory too messy last term or something?
We said bye to Tom and Ray, and walked into Robins’s office behind Beth and Violet. Beth and Vi were the typical inseparable best friends. They were nice enough, but they kept to themselves.
“Don’t look so scared; I called you in for something good!” Professor Robins smiled as she hustled to her desk.
Professor Robins wasn’t really a clean-cut teacher. She was more of the fun, young Aunt. She would have little discussions in class about all the latest trends and songs, but would still cramp in some Transfiguration at the end.
The four of us were staring at Robins curiously as she took something out from her drawer. She held it out – it was a shiny, silver Prefect badge.
“Now girls,” She began brightly, “Since Maya has left; we need a new sixth-year Gryffindor prefect to take her place. Professor McGonagall told me to just choose the most eligible girl out of all of you. But I thought, where’s the fun in that?”
We all stared at her rather blankly. I had forgotten that Maya was a prefect. A pang of broken heartedness went through me at the thought of her and her prefectness.
“Anyway, I thought it would be good if you girls choose who should be prefect!” Robins finished happily, clapping her hands together in excitement.
Robins was a bit too happy in my opinion. I mean, she was only in her thirties, and she had to leave her husband for months on end in order to teach at Hogwarts. She shouldn’t be happy. She should be depressed and on an anti-depressant potion. Seriously, what was wrong with her? Maybe she was a serial killer. Dun dun dun. Or maybe having an affair with the Bloody Baron. Or maybe … She was just a happy person. Gah. I hate those people.
I was reaching the end of my little thought cycle when I realised Dom, Beth and Violet were all talking over each other.
“Professor, I would make the worst prefect, honest to Godric Gryffindor. “ Beth said dramatically, with hand on her heart.
“This year I was really hoping to focus on my studies, Professor.” Violet reasoned.
“I’m really scared of the dark and I don’t think I could ever patrol at night.” Dom blurted out lamely, wiping a fake tear from her eye.
I was having an inner laughter attack at Dom when I realised everyone in Robins’s office was looking at me expectantly.
“I … er –“ I stammered, looking around for inspiration for an excuse not become a prefect.
My eyes only found a frame on Robins’s desk with a picture of Robins holding a baby.
Perhaps I could say I was pregnant …
No. Too weird. And too uterusy.
“I see no reason why you can’t be a prefect, Sophie.” Professor Robins said encouragingly.
“Yeah Soph, you’d be great!” Dom said with exaggerated enthusiasm. I looked at her with wide eyes and she winked at me.
“Um…” was all that could come out of my mouth.
“It’s decided then.” Robins said happily, pressing the badge into my hand.
“Congratulations Sophie! I’m sure you’ll make a wonderful prefect!”
What. The. Fudgemuffins.
I just stared at the little silver thing in my palm while Robins dismissed us.
Robins was chatting to me while walking to the door of her office but I wasn’t listening at all. I mean, I legitimately would make the worst prefect; I’m useless at being commanding unless it’s anything to do with Charlie, I’m as shy as a baby with a butt rash and I have the awkwardest tendencies in the world.
Robins suddenly looked at her watch and yelped.
“Oh my goodness! Hagrid and the first years must be waiting for me! Your Gryffindor prefect counterpart should be waiting for you outside my office. He’ll show you the reins.”
And with that, Robin’s hustled out of her office and sprinted toward the entrance hall.
As I walked slowly through the corridor, I racked my brains to remember who Maya’s prefect counterpart was. Connor Peakes came to mind. He’s the only Gryffindor sixth year that I can recall being remotely responsible. I guess he was alright. We had been Charms partners for years.
In that case, why wasn’t he here, ‘showing me the reins’?
I sighed again. Dom had abandoned me and was up ahead, chatting animatedly to Beth and Violet. I was about to break into a sprint to catch up to them when I heard someone behind me.
“Are you the new Gryffindor prefect?” A male voice asked.
“Yes. And you’re late. ” I turned around, irritated.
My face was about an inch away from an amazing smelling chest. I stepped back and stifled a surprised gasp.
Now that I had calmed down, my brain let me admire the sight before me.
I was looking up at a jawline that looked like it was perfectly chiselled out of pure sandstone. And the person’s hair, OH GOD, THE HAIR, was like shiny, black feathers sticking up in every direction possible. The brown eyes were trained mischievously onto mine.
It was the very person who I had screamed at this afternoon.
On his robes was a silver prefect badge, identical to mine.
No. Fucking. Way.
He smiled at my gobsmacked expression.
A/N: So, how was it? Your reviews would be significantly appreciated. Just a few of your thoughts, typed below in that grey box - You catch my drift? Thanks for reading!