Chapter 9: Of Nutters and Family Reunions
‘No one appreciates my genius!’ shrieked an extremely high-pitched voice from our dorm-room door.
‘I want to be like Bathilda Bagshot when I grow up,’ I replied dreamily, my eyes not leaving the pages of Hogwarts: A History.
Elle laughed, ‘I want to be a troll when I grow up.’
Dom, who was the owner of the aforementioned high-pitched voice, scoffed very loudly, ‘You guys are so weird.’
I finally spared a glance to my temperamental Veela friend, whose hair was frizzled and a scowl plastered onto her face, ‘What’s up, Dom?’ I asked, tentatively.
And then Dom exploded. And we all died.
I joke, we didn’t die. We came close to it, though. Dom stormed into our room and flung the door shut, shrieking, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong!? JESSIE KURT IS WHAT IS WRONG!’
Ah, of course. Dominique had never liked Connor’s girlfriend, mainly because she was in love with Connor.
‘I just hate Jessie Kurt so goddamn much!’ Dom screeched frantically, dropping herself onto my lap and throwing my book on the floor. I pouted; books should be treated with respect I tell you!
‘She always sits with us now! And James and Freddie don’t even do anything about it anymore. It’s like they’ve embraced her presence!’
‘Well,’ Elle tried reasoning, very bravely if I do say so myself, ‘They have been dating for nearly a year.’
Dom wailed, ‘Why would you remind me?’
Elle shot me a panicked look, and I wracked my Ravenclaw-brain for a solution. ‘Elle has a crush on Freddie!’ I yelped.
Elle face palmed. Since I knew Dom’s violent mood-swings down to a tee, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest when her features lit up in excitement.
‘WHAT?! SINCE WHEN?! YOU TWO WOULD BE ADORABLE TOGETHER! LET ME MEDDLE. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!’
Elle shot me a glare, ‘I’ve liked him since third year. And please don’t meddle. Please, please, please,’ she begged, her pleas getting more pathetic as the sentence wore on.
Not wanting to lose one of my only friends, I turned to Dom, ‘Seriously, don’t meddle. They’re going at their own adorably slow pace. Give it a couple of months and the two will practically be inseparable,’ I reasoned, winking at Elle as she beamed in approval.
‘And as payback,’ Elle said, smiling creepily at me, ‘HALLE LOVES JAMES!’
Dom’s mouth dropped. My mouth dropped. And then we all died.
HAHA! I LIED AGAIN, we didn’t die. But I did pounce on Elle, successfully making her hair look like a frizz-ball. ‘She’s a liar! She always lies! Don’t believe her filthy lies!’
Elle giggled, ‘Yeah, she doesn’t love him, yet,’ she managed to squeeze out through her fits of laughter.
Dom’s eyebrows shot up to her forehead, but she nodded anyway, ‘Be careful of James, Halle. He’s a bit of a man-slut.’
I nodded gravely, ‘So I’ve been warned.’
Dom gave me a weary glance all too similar to Albus’s, ‘Seriously. He’s a twat when it comes to girls. And you’re too good for that, OK?’
I nodded again, ‘Alright, Dom.’
She grinned, her temporarily solemn mood discarded like an old chocolate frog wrapper, ‘Speaking of James, he gave me a message to give to you,’ she said, fishing out a piece of stained parchment from her robes.
This piqued my interest, ‘Curious. Very curious,’ I said, accepting the parchment.
‘Go on then, read it aloud,’ ordered Dom, heaving her legs onto my lap.
‘Thomas. The first task is approaching soon. I have managed to be awesome and score some information about it. It’s all about courage. I know you don’t have much, since you’re not in Gryffindor, but it’s going to be centred on courage. Last time the first task was to fight a dragon. Before that a cockatrice. So I suspect that we have to fight a large creature of some sort, as it seems to be a tradition. And this Tournament’s all about falling back into tradition. Meet me in the library tomorrow morning and we’ll research magical creatures, maybe ask Hagrid for some advice. Just, don’t be scared, alright?
Dom looked at me, all colour drained from her face, ‘Godric, Halle. I’d forgotten all about the Tournament! I mean, Beauxbatons barely leave their carriage, and Durmstrang never leave their ship. I just totally forgot! How are you holding up?’ she asked, patting my back in an attempt to be soothing.
I nodded in response; I’d already had heaps of these talks with Elle and Jordin, who seemed scared for my mental stability. I already knew I wasn’t going to win, since I paled in comparison to the other competitors.
But I was going to survive this Tournament. It would not be the death of me.
Besides, I’ve already planned out my death. I’ll be 87. They’ll be a puppy stranded on the middle of a road, on the brink of death. A young, crippled, blind girl will cry for her puppy. I will save the puppy. But on my way back to return it to the girl, I’ll trip over a rubber duck, get hit with a heart attack and die in the presence of all my cats.
Oh. What a life I’ll lead.
Anyway, I had been training with Potter. Every day. My fitness had improved (I was up to forty laps, and Potter had deemed it worthy). I’ve spent hours practicing various offensive and defensive spells with Jordin, Elle and Albus. Even McGonagall would help me out every once in a while.
I don’t want to brag, but I seriously feel ready for this.
Who am I kidding? Of course I want to brag. I shall sing a song.
In my head, of course. Don’t want Elle and Dom thinking I’m weird.
HALLE IS AWESOME.
COOLER THAN A POSSUM
The song was meant to be that short. Short and sweet, just like me.
I smiled reassuringly to Dom, who looked concerned at my prolonged silence, ‘I’ve been training. I seriously have. Whatever they’re going to throw at me, I can handle it,’ I said, coolly.
Dom broke into a relieved grin, ‘You should have been in Gryffindor.’
Elle made a nuh-huh sound, ‘Absolutely not. ‘Claws for life,’ she said, fist bumping me.
I laughed when Dom rolled her eyes.
‘So Hagrid was no help,’ I complained, as Potter and I slumped onto the floors of the library. Officially accepting defeat.
There were hundreds of creatures we might have to fight. Thousands, even. Millions. Billions.
Dare I say it? Trillions.
‘I know!’ exclaimed Potter, ‘Last time Hagrid actually told my dad what the first task was. Why couldn’t he do the same for me?’
‘Because your name wasn’t intentionally put in the cup to resurrect the darkest wizard of all time?’ I suggested.
Potter groaned, ‘That is a possibility. Unlikely though.’
We had poured over books with every single kind of beast known to mankind. Honestly, if I read one more conspiracy about dragons or vampires I might explode.
So, to put it simply, I was absolutely bottered.
Is bottered even a word?
If not it means: Extremely tired, put-out etc.
Potter seemed pretty bottered too.
‘Bit of a fail, wasn’t it Thomas?’ he asked, turning to me, ‘I really thought we’d find something useful. I worked so hard to find that information.’
‘Speaking of which, where did you get that information from?’
Potter looked sheepish, ‘I may have broken into McGonagall’s office and looked at some of the letters she’d been sending to the Ministry. They were pretty guarded, so there was barely any information there. Just loads of shit about courage,’ he explained.
I let my jaw drop; he really does deserve his reputation as the Hogwarts badass.
‘How can you be so sure that we even have to fight a monster?’ I asked, ‘For all we know we might have to bake a cake and feed it to a troll.’
Actually, that would be a flipping fantastic task.
Potter shook his head, ‘I’m positive this Tournament is going to be just like the last. Falling back into tradition, that’s what McGonagall said.’
I nodded as I recalled our headmistress’s speech at the start of term.
I immediately stopped listening to Potter when he launched into his theory of the first task (which I had already heard. Twice. Something about aliens or some shit like that.) I kind of liked it when he just babbled on. It gave me time to think.
Potter and I had been training every day together. Every day. That was a full three hours dedicated to pure Potter/Halle one-on-one time, and saying that it was an experience similar to being locked up in a torture chamber, is a big, fat lie.
Because I actually enjoy his company.
A lot, actually.
What was even worse though was once we’d finish training, often I’d help the dim-witted Gryffindor to catch up on his homework. Being the nerdy Ravenclaw I was, it was physically impossible for me to begin our training sessions without finishing all assigned homework tasks first, even if it meant finishing astronomy chartings at dinner and completing Potions essays in History of Magic.
Because seriously, I’m a Ravenclaw, and even I can’t listen to the droning’s of Professor Binns.
Tentatively, I decided to try his name on my lips. See the way the word folded on my tongue.
‘Thomas?’ James interrupted, looking at me quizzically, ‘Are you listening to me?’
‘James,’ I blurted in response.
It was odd, kind of nice. No, actually, not nice. Interesting.
‘Yes?’ he responded.
Wow, he responded to his name. Well, I mean of course he responded to his name, but it felt weird. Calling him James. He didn’t even seem to notice.
‘Halle, are you listening to me?’ he asked, once again.
Hang on; did he just call me Halle?
‘Uh, I, er-’ I began, oh-so-eloquently.
‘Someone’s feeling intellectual today, aren’t they?’ he replied, cocking an unimpressed eyebrow.
‘For your information, I’m always intellectual,’ I snapped, ‘You want proof? I’m a Ravenclaw. We have to answer a riddle just to get to our beds.’
‘Well we have to remember a password,’ he countered.
‘Ooh,’ I replied, in a mock-impressed tone, ‘You have to remember one whole word? Ten points to Gryffindor!’
He smiled. I smiled.
Is this what flirting is?
I was just about try out his name again, because it still felt strange and foreign on my tongue, when a voice from behind cooed, ‘Jaaaaaames.’
WHO’S THAT? THIS IS MY TIME WITH MY BOY. (The slang was deliberate.)
Wait, what do I care? Let them interrupt. I’m cool with that.
So not cool with it.
A very pretty brunette walked up to where we were sitting, arm-in-arm with none other but Jessie Kurt. I’m guessing they were best friends or something.
Potter looked annoyed, but put on a polite façade, ‘Can I help you, Kurt? Last I checked Connor was in the Common Room.’
Hopefully he was with Dom, planning their future wedding.
Jessie just (creepily) smiled and shook her head, laughing. Cackling, really, ‘No, silly!’ she exclaimed, flipping her hair over her shoulder, ‘I wanted to introduce you to my friend, Erica.’
She presented her friend with a flourish of her hand, and Erica stepped forward. Brazenly, she looked down at Potter, and said, her voice absolutely dripping with honey, ‘Hey there, James.’
I wanted to puke.
Suddenly, his name didn’t sound interesting anymore. Coming from her mouth, it sounded, slaggy.
Potter coughed, obviously his hormones were tingling.
My respect quota for him was dropping, if all it took was a pretty face and a squished up chest, Potter wasn’t as smart as I thought.
Is it strange I have the overwhelming urge to punch Erica in the nose?
Mwahaha. I will be known as Halle: Hogwarts Champion and Punching Superstar.
Great movie title.
‘So James,’ Jesse said, as I watched James and Erica have eye sex with each other, ‘Rumour has it you’re not dating anyone at the moment.’ She gave me a quick, disdainful look, before subtly pushing Erica even closer towards him.
Erica gigged, ‘I heard the same.’
‘Well ladies,’ he said, standing up, ‘You would have heard correct.’
They both erupted into a volcano of giggles.
Smirking as if to say oh-this-is-too-easy, he outstretched his hand, ‘Did you know, that one night with me and they’ll be calling you Moaning Myrtle?’
Oh. My. Merlin.
DID HE REALLY JUST SAY WHAT I THINK HE JUST SAID?
DID HE REALLY JUST SAY WHAT I THINK HE SAID AND MAKE IT SOUND GOOD?
WHAT IS LIFE?
I couldn’t help but let out some sort of amazed choke/laugh, at the absolute corniness of his line. Erica glanced down at me and said coldly, ‘Do you want a lozenge, Thomas?’
I laughed again, ‘Nope. I just want Potter to learn some better pick-up lines for his slags.’
WOW. That was shocking. I’m not usually mean to people. At least, not to their face.
That’s what Gryffindors and Slytherins are for.
Everyone else seemed shocked by my comment too, but I just picked my bag off the floor, grabbed the first book I could see and headed for the door.
Because I just didn’t give a fuck.
‘Are you excited to see your parents?’ Potter asked, as we walked towards Professor McGonagall’s office.
It was but a week after the library incident, as I dubbed it, and if things went my way things would still be swimmingly awkward. But Potter didn’t seem too fazed by my uncharacteristic burst of jealousy, so I wouldn’t be either.
JEALOUS? I WASN’T JEALOUS. I was simply under the influence.
A whole week had passed in intense training sessions, which had started as soon as we were dismissed from class till at least 11pm. Teachers seemed to excuse our lack of homework, since we were the Hogwarts champions and all.
But I found it unacceptable. If I wasn’t so freaked out about the Tournament, I would be having a hyperventilating attack from my pile of homework.
Its height rivalled that of the Astronomy Tower.
But my homework was overshadowed with the possibility that I could be dead in a week’s time.
But I decided not to think about that.
We were currently on our way to meet our families in McGonagall’s office. I was hoping beyond hope that both my brothers- Bob and Derek would have come too.
And Dad would have to be there. He didn’t have a life, so it wasn’t like he was busy.
‘Actually, it’s just my dad. My mum died when I eight,’ I explained, looking straight ahead.
Yup, there it was. The pitying expression. He was sending it to me as we speak. I had gotten used to the fact of my mother’s absence, although it was still a sore spot for me.
I tried to think that she was just on an extended vacation, having the time of her life partying away on an eternal cruise.
It’s just how I deal with it.
‘Stop that,’ I ordered him, halting in the middle of the corridor.
He stopped with me, ‘Stop what?’
‘Pitying me. I’m fine, really. What about you? Are you excited about seeing your parents?’ I asked, rooting for a quick subject change.
Potter nodded, quickly realising my mum’s death was not something I talked about. ‘I hope it really is just my parents. With a family as crazy as mine, I wouldn’t be surprised if every single Weasley/Potter showed up,’ he said, with a rueful smile.
I returned the smile, ‘I want my brothers to be there. Bob and Derek. They’re ace, really. You’ll love them,’ I said.
Not that I want my brothers to meet Potter so they can approve or anything. Nothing like that.
As we entered the room, I took in the two parties who looked like they had just flooed in. I was absolutely ecstatic to see my Dad, Bob and Derek in the corner, dusting each other’s heads off in an attempt to get rid of all the soot.
‘Dad!’ I squealed and I threw my arms around his neck as he picked me up slightly off the ground. ‘What’s up, kiddo?’
‘Dad, I’m a champion! For the Triwizard Tournament!’ I exclaimed as he set me down, ‘Oh. My. God. I forgot to tell you! I’m a horrible daughter! You should just lock me away for the rest of eternity! Goodbye, cruel world!’
I was so happy to see them I didn’t even care that I was acting so loopy.
He laughed, ‘And that is why you’re my favourite kid,’ he said, winking.
‘Hey! That’s just rude dad. Just plain rude,’ exclaimed Bob, shaking his head at Dear ol’ Dad.
I was then engulfed in a hug by both of them at exactly the same time. Screw them and their twin telepathy. I was then released from their bone crunching hug only to be hugged by each of them individually, for at least ten seconds. Bob wouldn’t let go until I started hitting him on the back yelling, ‘Let go of me, you crazy psychopath!’
He finally returned me to the ground, and we were greeted by amused glances from McGonagall and the Potter’s. I had been so happy about seeing my family I had missed out on Potter’s reunion.
It probably wasn’t emotional. He was a guy, after all. He saved his emotions for Quidditch games.
I blushed slightly, but Bob and Derek didn’t seem to notice. Bastards.
Dad had been talking to the Potter’s while we had our sibling reunion, and returned as soon as I had been released from the evil clutches of Bob.
‘Of course I know you’re a Champion!’ he said, slightly swatting me on the head, ‘It’s been all over the Daily Prophet, and I’ve sent at least ten letters, Halle. I was about to floo straight to McGonagall’s office when I got the invitation asking me to come to Hogwarts the day before the first challenge.’
I narrowed my eyes slightly, ‘Ten letters, you say? Damn that Larry, I always knew one day he’d let me down.’
Derek made a harrumph sound, ‘Don’t blame this on Larry. He was fine when we used him. Besides we offered to buy you a new owl, but you just had to have Larry,’ Derek said, smiling at me while he teased.
‘He was a Thomas Legacy. I had to uphold our family honour.’
Derek smiled. ‘We’ve missed you, kiddo.’
It was their nickname for me: kiddo. No points for originality, but I loved it all the same.
I smiled at all three of them, ‘It’s absolutely great to see you.’
Bob and Derek had both graduated five years earlier, making them seventh years when I was a first. Bob was a healer at St Mungos, a top-notch one too. People had to book well in advance to be treated by him.
Derek was an Unspeakable. I have absolutely no fucking idea what he does. No one does. Hence the mysterious title.
We only spent one year at Hogwarts together, I was in first and they were in seventh.
They made it absolute hell.
As I’ve said previously: Bastards.
But I love them.
McGonagall cleared her throat and everyone paid her attention. I found it weird that everyone in that room had been taught by her.
Damn that woman got around.
Should I re-enter her fan club?
Not yet, she has to earn it.
‘Tomorrow, as you all are aware of, is the day of the First Challenge in the Tournament! Champions, please feel free to remain in my office with your family or travel the school grounds, however I warn you,’ she said, sending pointed looks to Harry and Ginny (sorry, Mr and Mrs Potter), ‘That you are considered as celebrities around here and will be treated as such.’
Mr Potter cleared his throat uncomfortably, ‘And what exactly does that mean?’
McGonagall pursed her lips, ‘Don’t be surprised if you are flocked by students. Some are, quite obsessive. I do believe Mr Potter (she looked at James when she said so) has his own fan club?’
Potter nodded enthusiastically, beaming with pride.
Ginny burst into laughter, ‘I suppose Harry had one too, didn’t he Dean? There was you, me, Seamus, Luna, Ron, Hermione and Neville. Remember that time you drew that banner for his Quidditch game?’ asked Ginny, before launching into a conversation about the good old days.
So the parents were entertained. I decided to introduce Potter to Bob and Derek.
My motives are still unclear. Perhaps I just wanted approval. Or something.
I beckoned for Potter to leave his parents with my dad, who were animatedly chatting about all the memories from ‘Dumbledore’s Army’; Merlin knows what that was.
‘Bob, Derek, this is Potter,’ I said, ‘Potter is my-’ there was an awkward pause as I tried to fill in the gap, ‘Friend?’
Potter rolled his eyes, ‘Well I can just feel the love, Thomas.’
In complete synchronization, Bob and Derek raised their eyebrows at me disbelievingly.
Bob coughed, ‘So can we,’ he said suggestively.
The two then raised their eyebrows in complete synchronisation, looking at their pair of us knowingly. I do believe this was where Derek started humming, ‘Halle and Potter, sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.’
You get the picture.
BANANAS ARE AN EXCELLENT SOURCE OF POTASSIUM!
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