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Infamous by R o s m e r t a
Chapter 8 : Birthday Cheer(s)
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2

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Author’s Note: For some reason, I felt the need to give the party a soundtrack.  Feel free to ignore that, if you wish—it’s not integral to the story or anything (and obviously, I own none of the songs).

  *             *             *             *             *

I raked in the usual birthday haul from the Wotter clan—books, WonderWitch products, and the like.  James waited until the rest had scarpered off to start getting ready for the party before seating himself beside me on one of the common room couches and thrusting a smallish wrapped box into my hands. He wriggled around as I pried back the paper, unable to conceal his excitement.  I laughed at him as I finally removed the lid of the box to reveal a dainty, silver charm bracelet.

I lifted it up to inspect the various charms.  There was a broom, a Quaffle, a set of books, a cat who looked a lot like Kneazle, a banana split, a Dungbomb (I cracked up at that one), and even a tiny hairbrush.  I glanced up at James to find him watching me, eyes twinkling.  "I tried to think of everything I knew you liked," he explained.  "Is it all right?"

"It's lovely," I informed him, slightly taken aback by his thoughtfulness, but giving him a swift peck on the cheek.  "I adore it.  Help me put it on?"  I twirled the bracelet around on my wrist after James did up the clasp.  It was such a sweet gift.  "What's this one for?" I asked, noticing a small sapphire charm.

James shrugged.  "It just reminded me of your eyes."

My heart seriously melted.  Could he get any more bloody adorable?  I quickly wrapped my arms around him.  "Thank you so much, James.  This means a lot to me."

"Anything for you, Haze," he mumbled into my hair as he squeezed me back.

*             *             *             *             *

Given the state of the dormitory when I returned, you'd think a herd of centaurs had just come barreling through.  Clothes were strewn about everywhere, and my dormmates were running about frantically in their bras and knickers with their hair half-curled.

"Haze, your parents' presents came!" Lily informed me as she wrapped a few auburn strands around her heated wand, pointing in the direction of my nightstand.

"Did you open them already?"

Lily snorted in disbelief.  "Of course.  What kind of friend do you think I am?"

I leapt over piles of discarded dresses and makeup and jumped up on my bed, where I found a new set of Chaser's gloves and a beautiful pair of studded earrings made of opal, my birthstone.  To top it off, a miniature Hungarian Horntail was stomping ferociously across my nightstand, stopping every few seconds to breathe a bit of fire into the air.  I smiled and shook my head.  I suppose that was Mum and Dad's idea of getting me the pet dragon I'd always wanted.  Kneazle was unsure what to make of it.

"What are you wearing tonight?"  Roxy interrupted my thoughts.

I shrugged and made my way over to my trunk, tossing a few things here and there (hey, they'd already mucked up the place; I may as well contribute).  “I love this skirt,” I told her, holding up a sequined miniskirt decorated in dazzling patterns of cobalt blue, silver, gold, and bronze, “but I never know what to wear with it.”
“I’ve got just the thing,” Lily cut in.  She rummaged in her trunk for a few moments before chucking a tank top in my direction.  It was black, sleek, and strapless, with a built-in bra.  It would clearly go well under the skirt, and be quite comfortable too, but…

I looked at it doubtfully.  “Don’t you think this would be a bit…much?”

Lily stood up and sighed, knowing precisely what I was getting at.  “Hazel, there are only three occasions during which it is perfectly acceptable for you to dress like a total slag, and no one can say a word about it.”  She held up her fingers to tick them off.  “One, your birthday.  Two, your best friend’s birthday,” she gestured to herself (thanks, Lil—I would have been so confused, otherwise), “And three, Hallowe’en.”  She bent down to sift through the knickers in my trunk (the girl really has no boundaries), thrust a pair of my favorite boyshorts into my arms along with the skirt, and began shoving me toward the bathroom, apparently signaling the end of this particular discussion.

The outfit turned out to be slightly more slutty than I would have liked, but I was a tad mollified by the fact that Lily was taking full advantage of her Slaggy Dress Code Rule #2.  Her dress was very fitted, cream-colored on top, and sleeveless with a deep V (paired with her favourite push-up bra, naturally).  At the waist it became a skirt of golden sequins that ended about mid-thigh.

No doubt about it: her brothers were going to flip their shit.

I glanced in the full-length mirror beside my bed.  Ugh, my hair looked simply awful after wearing a hat all day.  I looked over at Amelia and Ruby, who seemed to be putting the finishing touches on their makeup.  Amelia's hair was falling in beautiful curls around her shoulders.  "Millie!" I whined in her direction.  "Will you make my hair as pretty as yours?"

Amelia laughed as she gave her mascara wand a final flick and put the tube away.  "Of course, birthday girl!"

The five of us were able to get ready much more quickly when we helped each other out.  In no time at all I was slipping on my favorite black suede booties, loading up on my new birthday bling, and we were headed out the door.

Many of the Wotters and various older Gryffindors were lazing about the common room before the party.  James and Freddie were situated near the fireplace, a few feet away from each other, trying to throw popcorn into each other’s mouths.  What looked like several bags’ worth of cooked kernels already lay at their feet.  I rolled my eyes and made my way over to them.
“Everything all set, then?” I asked.  James and Freddie turned as one to respond to me, but were apparently too taken aback by my ensemble.  Slowly their eyes traveled downward and rested somewhere below my neck.  I cleared my throat pointedly. 

“Huh?” Freddie grunted.

“What was that?” mumbled James, completely missing his own mouth with a piece of popcorn.

“Oi!  Eyes up here, you gits!” came a voice from my left.  James and Freddie’s eyes only shifted marginally to their right, before realizing it was Lily who had suddenly appeared beside me. 
“AHHH!” they screamed in unison.
“MY EYES!”  Freddie cried, covering his face with his hands and running away.  Being unable to see where he was going, he stumbled over an assortment of furniture during his frantic escape.
“LILY LUNA POTTER!”  James thundered once he had somewhat recovered from his initial scarring.  “What in Voldemort’s reach is that?!?”  He pointed a shaking finger toward her outfit.

Lily rolled her eyes, unperturbed by such behavior.  “It’s called a ‘dress,’ dipshit.”

James remained unconvinced, and glanced around the common room wildly until he spotted his brother playing wizard’s chess with Hugo.  “Al!” he yelled.  “AL!  Come quick!”

"LILY!”  Al rushed to James’s side.  “What in the name of Salazar Slytherin's pink Pygmy Puff pyjamas do you think you're wearing?!"

"Go upstairs and change, straight away!" James ordered.

Oh, bollocks.  I left Lily to fend for herself.  James and Al knew what they were in for if they pushed her too far; they had found themselves at the receiving end of Lily's brutal Bat-Bogey Hex more times than I could count.  I approached Freddie, who was sat in an armchair, grimacing and rubbing his shin.  "What, running about like an idiot without being able to see where you're going didn't work out for you?"  I feigned shock.

Freddie shot me a dark look.  "You're lucky it's your birthday and I have to be nice to you."

I sniggered and plopped down next to him.  "I've been meaning to ask you something."

Freddie sighed.  "I knew this day would come."

I stared at him quizzically, almost afraid to ask.  Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me.  "And which day is that?"

He sighed again, as if he was bearing the burdens of the entire world on his shoulders, before resting a hand on my own shoulder.  "Look, James is my cousin and my best mate.  I mean, I can't blame you for being attracted to me—let's face it, who isn't?—but it would just be weird, Hazel—OW!"  He grimaced again, this time rubbing the spot on his arm where I'd slugged him.

"Are you quite finished?" I asked.


"Brilliant.  Can we be serious for a moment, please?"

Freddie made a horrified face, but when I Death Glared back at him, he relented.  "Go on."

"You know that photo in the Prophet of James and me snogging?"  Freddie nodded, giving me a "duh" look, so I went on.  "Did you have anything to do with that getting into the papers?"

Freddie frowned at me.  "Of course not.  What would make you think that?"

I sighed.  "It's just that I know James told you his...plan for that kiss beforehand, and it just seemed like the type of thing you'd find hilarious."

Freddie laughed at this.  "Well I'll have to agree with you there; normally I would.  But I actually thought it was a decent thing James was doing, and I didn't want to cock it up for the pair of you."

I narrowed my eyes at him.  "Really?"

Freddie threw his hands up.  "Really!  Do you want a pinky swear?"

"Yes."  We hooked pinkies, each kissed our own thumb, licked our right palms, situated them as if we were going to shake hands, and slapped them together three times before flicking each other in the forehead.  This ritual was Wotter tradition, its sanctity outweighed only by the Unbreakable Vow.

"I guess that settles that, then."  I stood and stretched, satisfied.

Freddie jumped up, grabbed the discarded bag of popcorn from the floor, and offered me his arm.  "Shall we?"

I grinned and took his proferred arm.  "We shall."  The two of us made our way back over to the Potters and sat ourselves back down as closely as possible outside the range of flailing arms and legs.  The popcorn was delicious.

*            *             *             *             *

**{Soundtrack: MIA, “Paper Planes”}**

In the end of course, Lily had gotten her way (yes, her Bat-Bogey Hex is that good), and an hour later, the party was in full swing.  The lights were low, and scores of colourful mini-lanterns were floating about the common room, adding a mysterious glow to the whole place.  All the furniture had been shoved up against the walls, and a makeshift deejay booth had been set up in the corner.  The music was thumping.  DJ L-Weez (as Louis has requested to henceforth be known) was playing an amazing mix of wizard and Muggle hits, and people were dancing up a storm.

The seventh-year boys had taken it upon themselves to create what they claimed Muggles call "Jello shots," except that each type of shot had a different magical effect.  One was blue and made your hair glow in the dark for a few minutes, while an orange one caused steam to shoot out your ears.  Everyone had a blast figuring out what each colour did.

I spent the earlier hours of the night spinning around the makeshift dance floor with my dormmates, Dom, and Ally.  We even managed to get Rose and Molly to loosen up a bit and join us.

At some point Gemma turned up.  She laughed when I threw my arms around her, but returned the hug (I blame my over-friendliness on the red shots).  "Happy birthday, Hazel!"  I quickly grabbed her by the hands and dragged her out to join the rest of the girls.  Gemma and I had a brilliant time attempting to cha-cha about the room, giggling our arses off, with Lily, Dom, and Ally laughing at the pair of us.

James and Freddie, of course, appeared every once in a while to furnish us with fresh libations.  They were hesitant to dance at first; instead, I would periodically spot Freddie getting on hands and knees behind a random victim who happened to be standing, while James would push said victim backwards so they toppled over the kneeling Freddie.  James and Freddie would reward themselves with high-fives before moving on to other such jackassery.


**{Soundtrack: Foxy Shazam, “Killin’ It”}**

The boys were much easier to coax onto the dance floor after a few Butterbeers.  I glanced around at one point while dancing with James to see Freddie with Ally, Al with Gemma, Roxy with Rowan, Charlie with Dom, Frankie with Ruby, Hugo with Amelia, and Lily with a Scamander (unfortunately, the twins had changed clothing after Hogsmeade, so I was back to square one at identifying them).  I smiled widely at Al, glad he was helping Gemma feel welcome in our little group.  He gave me a small, half-hearted smile in return.

Sometime later, we were all dispersed throughout the common room, drinking, dancing, playing games, talking, or just snogging.  I couldn't find Lily anywhere and assumed she had copped off with the Scamander (or his twin).  I spotted James and approached him as Victim #47 toppled over Freddie and to the floor.  "You know what I just realized?" I asked him.

James slapped Freddie's open palm as he slid his arm around my waist.  "What's that, love?"

"I never got any cake today," I pouted.

"Right.  Well, we'll be needing to rectify that immediately," he told me seriously.  "Think you can get the cloak from Lils?"

I shrugged, deciding not to mention the fact that his sister had disappeared with one of the twins.  "I know where she keeps it, I can just get it myself."

James grinned.  "Perfect."

Once I retrieved the invisibility cloak, James and I pushed our way through the crowd until we reached the portrait hole.

"Ready?" he asked.  I nodded.  James threw the cloak over the pair of us, grabbed my hand, and led me outside.

As we snuck down the corridor toward the kitchens, I heard a scuffling sound, followed by a girl's giggle.  James pulled up short, eyes glinting mischievously.  We were both listening to see where the sound was coming from when the girl whispered, "Come on, we should get back to the party."

Just then, a tapestry a few metres down the corridor was thrust aside to reveal Gemma.  James stiffened beside me as she began to drag out her companion by the hand.

It was Al.

*            *             *             *             *

James and I were silent on the way to the kitchens and back.  My own heart was in my throat, and I squeezed James’s hand tightly every time I glanced up to see his stony expression.

"Hey," I tugged his arm lightly as we arrived back at the portrait hole.  "I'm really sorry."

James shrugged as he stared at his shoes.  "It's not your fault.  I've got no claim on Gemma.  I never even told Al that I liked her."

I chewed my bottom lip, wishing I knew how to comfort him, especially when I was so upset about the situation as well (though I obviously couldn't let James know that).  "You're not allowed to be sad on my birthday, you know."

James lifted his chin and gave me a small smile.  "Is that so?"

I nodded vigorously.  "Yep.  Come on!"

**{Soundtrack: J-Kwon, “Tipsy” (Club Mix)}**

I pulled James back into the common room, yanked off the cloak, and deposited him at the drinks table with Freddie while I snuck the cloak back into Lily's trunk.  "Now," I said to Freddie when I returned to the boys, "James needs some cheering up, immediately if not sooner."

Freddie raised an eyebrow at me.  "And what do you suggest?"

I thought for a moment.  In all honesty, I wasn't a big drinker.  That very night was probably the most I'd ever had, and even then I was only marginally tipsy.  But now, I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to forget.  I didn't want to let my birthday be ruined, for once.  "Shots!" I finally shouted.

"Shots!" they agreed.

I tried one of everything, even downing a bit of Firewhiskey, which was atrocious (James and Freddie couldn't stop laughing at the faces I making—nothing new there, I suppose).  The three of us were laughing about everything and nothing, and for a while I forgot all about Al.

Lily appeared at some point, Scamander in tow, and dragged us back out to the dance floor.  It was a true testament to how drunk James was that he didn't comment on the Scamander's hands roving his little sister's body.  Perhaps he was a bit distracted by the fact that my back was pressed into his chest, his hands were clinging to my waist, and his own hips were grinding into me as we moved in sync to the fast beat of a Muggle hip-hop song.  I leaned back against James with my eyes closed and hooked an arm behind his neck, reveling in my intoxication.  Things were getting a little fuzzy, but I definitely remember James's hands roaming lower, sitting in just the right place on my hips, as he pulled me even closer.  His body felt so nice against mine.   Being in his strong, Quidditch-toned arms right then made me start to think that just maybe his female fan club was actually on to something... 

**{Soundtrack: Phillip Phillips, “U Got It Bad”}**

DJ L-Weez switched to a slow song, and James gently turned me round to face him.  I looked up into his eyes, feeling a bit dizzy, and smiled as he gazed back down at me.  "Hi," he said.

"Hi," I replied.

"Having a good birthday?"

"The best."  I rested my head against his chest, and he laid his down on top of mine.  As we turned slowly, my body feeling a bit sluggish, I saw Al holding Gemma, her head on his shoulder and eyes closed.

Okay, maybe not the best.

Suddenly, I was exhausted, and felt way too drunk to remain upright.  "Can we sit down?" I asked James.  He nodded and led me over to one of the couches that had been pushed to the side of the room to make way for the party.  We sat beside each other, and I draped my legs over his lap as he slid his arm around my shoulders.

"You know, you're probably the best fake girlfriend I've ever had," James commented.

I grinned at him.  "Why is that?"

"It's your bloody birthday and you're the one trying to cheer me up!"

I shrugged.  "Did it work?"

"A little," he replied softly.

"Good."  I leaned up and pressed my lips to his jawline, only a few inches from his mouth.

"Thank you, Hazel."  James planted a kiss on the tip of my nose.  "Happy birthday."
*             *             *             *             *

I was woken by strong arms around me, pulling me up off one of the couches.  I managed to take in the dark common room, bodies and furniture strewn about haphazardly, before my head started to spin and I had to close my eyes again.  Voldemort’s saggy left tit, I was still drunk as fuck. 

I snuggled against James’s chest and allowed him to carry me up the stairs (apparently, they don’t turn into a slide when the bloke is being a real knight in shining armour) and into my dormitory before placing me gently on my bed.  I wondered vaguely where Kneazle might be and if Lily had made it back to the dorm as I felt my blankets being wrapped around me.

“Good night, Hazel,” he whispered, bending down to press a kiss to my forehead.

“No, stay with me, James,” I murmured.

I could feel his hesitation, which I vaguely realized was quite odd.  “Actually, it’s Al.”

“Okay,” I replied easily, though I was somewhat nonplussed, “Stay with me, Al.”

He cleared his throat.  “That’s probably not a very good idea, Haze—“

“But it’s my birthdayyyy,” I whined softly.

I heard his low chuckle in response.  “Really?  You’re going to pull that card?”  I cracked an eye open and pouted at him.  He exhaled dramatically, resigned.  “Fine.  Shove over.”  I smiled and complied happily as he slipped off his trainers and slid under the covers, jeans and all.  He rolled over to face me and pushed a few stray locks out of my face.  “Happy?” he asked me softly.
“You have no idea,” I murmured back as I felt myself starting to drift away again.
The last thing I remembered was Al putting his arm around me and drawing me closer to him, until the length of my body was flush against his, with my head nuzzled into his chest and his face buried in my hair.  Maybe it was part of my dream, but I could have sworn I heard him say, “Actually, I think I do.”

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