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Chapter 3 : Snowballing
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Henry, Matthew and Fern.
Gorgeous CI by visenya. @TDA
All thoughts of Fern were pushed aside as the week flew past in a blur of homework, classes, hexes in the corridors and carnivorous plants. It was only on Friday, when Dom, Sophie and I ended up cross-legged on the floor of the Gryffindor Common Room with Roxanne that the subject came up.
"I hate Chang," Dom huffed, her quill scratching the parchment she was writing her Charms essay on. We had realised it was simpler to kill off most of our homework on the Friday evening, and to have a free weekend, rather than the other way around. "She gives us too much bloody homework."
Sophie and I didn't answer, deeply absorbed by our Herbology essay, and Roxanne gave her cousin an absentminded pat on the head before returning to the book she was reading for DADA.
"I'm worried about Fern," I announced once we were done with our various assignments. "I haven't seen her, not a single time, since we've come back."
"Have you seen Elise, Albus or Scorpius though?" Sophie questioned, referring to Fern's best friends.
"I know Fred said they'd have a busy first week, he told me over the holidays," Roxanne slid in before I had a chance to answer. "He's in most of his classes with the Slytherins, so I'm sure it's the same for Fern as well…"
"Yeah, but you've seen Fred around, haven't you?"
"Fred doesn't take anything seriously, especially not his OWLs. On the other hand, if Fern is anything like you, Ton, then she's probably already studying, and that would fit with Al's level of stress at Christmas," Dom laughed. "I don't think you need to worry about anything. If you want, I can ask Al next time I see him, which is in a week, officially."
Every month, the Weasleys and Potters organised an extremely regulated and secretive family meeting. It was an occasion for gossip, prank planning, and something both Dom and Roxanne deeply hated going to. From the little information they had given Sophie and me, we had understood that there was a protective system going on: each member of the family drew out the name of someone else that they had to refer to if there was a problem, who had to help their cousin get revenge and preserve the family honour.
Or something along those lines. The explanation had been punctuated with scoffs, eye rolls, and generally explained by the fact that it was James' idea.
"No, it's fine," I shrugged, starting to put my things away. "You're probably right, and I'll see Fern when she decides to come out of her crazy studying habits."
"Is Fred really as lenient as you say about his OWLs?" Sophie asked, leaning over to braid Dom's hair. I strongly suspected she had a bit of a crush on Fred, a fact she had violently denied on the one time I had asked her about it.
"It's terrible," Roxanne shook her head. "Dad told Fred he could work in the shop if ever he failed – which is what Fred wants – so…"
"Your mother must be thrilled," I commented.
Dom let out a giggle. "You should have heard Angelina on New Year's eve. It's not like George cared, he was extremely drunk, and eventually he shut her up by kissing her, and by that I mean a full snog, which was hilarious for everyone."
"Except for Hugo," Roxanne added cheekily, "who pushed his glasses higher up his nose and proclaimed that adults were irresponsible and should never be allowed to have children if it was to end up in a state of public inebriety that was highly embarrassing for said children, and that's an exact quote."
"So Ron had a laughing fit and spat out his eggnog through his nose, which led Ginny to fall off her chair snorting, causing the rest of the family to choke on their saliva with laughter," Dom completed.
"And the highlight of the evening was Charlie running out after his newest girlfriend that he had stupidly brought along, because she fled from the Weasley mayhem in absolute horror after my father decided pulling flowers out of his boxers would nicely accompany the joyful spirit," Roxanne concluded cheerfully.
"This girlfriend was stupider than the ones we've seen before, she deserved it," Dom asserted.
"I'm guessing she's at the bottom of your list?" Sophie joked.
Yes, all female Weasleys, desperate to marry Charlie off, kept a list of his numerous girlfriends, organising them according to a total of points. These points were assigned according to Quidditch skills, cooking skills, conversation, style, and the length at which the poor girl could throw gnomes.
So far, if I remembered properly, only two women had made it as far as being invited to degnome the garden, all of the others running away after the first introduction.
"Actually, she gained points because she used to play Quidditch when she was at Durmstrang," Roxanne replied, "but she lost them precisely because she studied there."
"You do realise the only reason your uncle is single is because of your dumb expectations, right?" I laughed.
"Of course not," both Weasleys answered simultaneously, smirking. We let the subject drop, and the rest of our evening was spent in merry chatter, predicting the issue of the next Quidditch match and rating the boys around us.
"I want you to pair up," Professor Bones announced at the end of the DADA lesson, "and duel another pair. Disarm, stun, petrify, whatever, make both your opponents harmless. Any questions? No? Off you go then, and don't forget to bow!"
I exchanged one look with Summer, who nodded and came to stand next to me.
"The usual method?" she asked quietly, as her best friends, Matthew Macmillan and Henry Longbottom, positioned themselves in order to face us.
"You know it."
We bowed rapidly, and Henry sent the first stunning spell, that I easily deflected. While I kept a shield up, Summer threw a succession of disarming spells over it, that Matthew managed to duck. Henry got hit after a few minutes, and his wand soared through the air, landing with a clatter at our feet. I seized the occasion to petrify him, dropping the shield for a moment. Matthew tried to use this hole in the system to disarm me, but Summer was faster.
"Protego!" she shouted. The jet of red light bounced off, nonetheless weakening the shield in the process.
"I've got it, I've got it," I hastily put up a shield of my own. "You attack."
Summer looked relieved (she was more of an attacker than anything else), and concentrated on Matthew instead. It took me very little time to realise that they had the same level, and that the fight was too balanced for either of them to have a chance to defeat each other.
"Need any help?"
She nodded briefly, sending wisps of red hair flying around her face, still completely focused on the boy in front of her, and started firing hexes at a very rapid rhythm. Matthew was growing quite red with the effort of dodging these, and did not notice my drop the shield.
All it took after that was a shout of Rictusempra, followed by Summer's Incarcerous, and Matthew dropped to the floor, leaving us to beam at one another.
"Good teamwork, twin," she stuck out her hand for the ridiculous handshake we had invented when we were twelve.
High five, fist bump, pinkie lock, eye twitch.
"Five points to Hufflepuff, and five to Ravenclaw," Bones rewarded us as she passed. "However, Miss Seasons and Seasons, I would like to see more diversity when you duel. You won't always be able to rely on one another like this, and one day Summer may need to defend while Autumn attacks. Now, once you release your opponents, you may regain your seats and get started on your homework for tomorrow, which consists in explaining what the security measures when duelling consist of."
We nodded, and freed Henry and Matthew from their situation, the latter catching Summer in a headlock.
"Sumo, Sumo, Sumo," he sighed warily as she tried to bite him to escape his grip, "how will you ever find yourself a husband if you continue to be so violent?"
"I won't marry," she laughed as he released her. "You guys will never find a single potential candidate that is even allowed to get near me."
"True," Henry agreed with a grin as Bones dismissed the class. "Then we'll keep you as our servant, and you can cook and wash our socks for the rest of your life."
"Bullshit," Summer laughed, "it'll be the other way around."
"Peeves?" I called quizzically towards the ceiling, where the poltergeist was unscrewing a chandelier. He cackled as he saw me, and came swooping down rapidly.
"Mademoiselle Seasons," he mock bowed, "what can I do for you?"
"Have you seen Fern anywhere these days?"
His expression shifted slightly to a more serious one.
"No," he hesitated, "I don't think so…"
"If you do, can you tell me?"
"Of course, of course. Now, excuse me, I have business to attend," he saluted.
I was about to leave, when I suddenly turned around. "Oh, Peeves? If you're interested, Mrs Norris the Fourth is prowling unattended on the fourth floor, near the statue of Egbert the Eel Eater."
He laughed maniacally, and I smiled as I left. Fern and Peeves had a very particular relationship, and she was one of the only people whom Peeves had some respect – and maybe even friendship – for.
It had all started on Fern's second day of school. Summer and I had warned her about the poltergeist, and she decided that she wanted to see for herself what he was like. He was throwing water bombs at students, and did not notice the lonely first year sit down on the staircase behind him and pull out a pencil and sketchpad before starting to scribble away. He continued his mad pelting game with small victory dances every now and then until Fern, annoyed, opened her mouth and shouted.
"Oi, you! Can you stop moving for one bleeding moment so I have a chance to draw you properly?"
Thus, one of the most improbable friendships Hogwarts had ever witnessed was born.
Fern was the only person Peeves seemed to care about. It was his personal mission to annoy those who annoyed her, not once was a Puffapod hurled at her, and all in all they both seemed content with this strange alliance.
If there was one person who could have seen Fern, it was Peeves, and the fact that it was not the case worried me immensely.
Absorbed by my thoughts, I inevitably crashed into someone who was paying just as much attention to his surroundings as I was, and landed on my arse in the middle of the corridor, the contents of my bag splashed out everywhere.
"Fuck," I muttered as I watched an entire bottle of ink that had broken empty itself slowly and seep into my books.
I lifted my head, only to realise that the person I had banged into was none other than Louis Weasley.
"It's fine," I sighed, waving my wand over the mess. The ink disappeared, and my books came zooming back to their place. "I just need to go back to my dorm and get another bottle of ink, which means I won't have much time for lunch, but anyway, I don't have much choice, do I?"
"Stop acting so miserable," Louis pulled a quill out of his bag with a smile. "This one is self-inking, you can just keep it as a compensation for my clumsiness."
I laughed. "Thanks."
"My pleasure. Come on, I'll walk you down to lunch."
We were halfway there when the sound of loud moans was heard echoing throughout the corridor.
"The youth of today," Louis sighed, pulling his wand out of his pocket and pointing it at the door behind which the noise seemed to be coming for. "People should learn to use Silencing charms, or a bedroom. Sorry, Autumn, prefect duties. Alohomora."
All the doors surrounding us banged open violently, followed by a female shriek, and a blonde fury came running out of a classroom, hastily straightening her shirt.
"Louis Weasley," Lorcan Scamander hissed at the sight of him, stopping in her tracks. "What is your problem?"
"The whole castle can hear you, you might want to keep your relationship with James a secret."
Her mouth fell open quite comically. "James told you?"
Louis shrugged. "Of course."
"Told who what?" James Potter strolled out nonchalantly. "Oh, hello, favourite cousin, I thought I'd recognised your voice."
"You're lucky it was me," Louis informed him darkly. "Now get yourselves a room before your girlfriend finds you with someone else."
James didn't need to be told twice, caught Lorcan's hand, and dashed down the hall with her, leaving me quite bewildered next to Louis, who seemed completely unconcerned by the events.
"I thought James was dating Cecilia Lowe," I stated.
"He is," Louis replied simply, "but it's just for appearances. How do you think people would react if they found out he was actually with Lorcan?"
I considered this for a moment. Cecilia was a leggy, curvy brunette with a dazzling smile, one of the prettiest girls in the school (and, in complete truth, a bit on the stupid side). Lorcan, on the other hand, was as flat as an ironing board, with messy blond hair that she rarely brushed, a belligerent temper, a loud laugh, a knack for inappropriate jokes, and was fiercely defensive of female goblins' rights.
"Everyone expects James to flock to the elite and father beautiful babies," Louis laughed, "which is what he does, minus the baby part, except that Lorcan's always been there in the background."
"How long has this been going on?"
"Since the beginning of fourth year. You won't tell anyone, will you?"
"I'm not called Rose," I replied immediately, before realising who I was talking to.
Louis merely chuckled. "I'm aware, and don't look so mortified, everyone knows Rose Weasley is the biggest gossiper in school. Even Hugo keeps secrets from her. Now, let's go, or we'll never eat."
"Stop thinking with your stomach."
"I believe it's your stomach I hear."
"Shut up, Weasley."
"As you'll have it, Seasons."
"It's snowing," Sophie whispered excitedly from her seat next to me in the library. I lifted my head from the book I was reading, and sure enough, thick white flakes were spiralling down from the sky, rapidly icing the grounds with a pale blanket.
"You realise this means the Quidditch match is cancelled, right?" Dom teased from the other side of the table.
Sophie's face fell. "But… They don't normally cancel matches when it snows."
Roxanne pointed outside, yawning. "It was supposed to be this afternoon, and the weather is worsening fast. I'll bet you anything it doesn't take place."
"That won't be necessary. Summer is coming our way, and she looks absolutely crestfallen," I jutted my chin out in the direction of my twin. "Did you lose yourself, Shae? You never set foot in the library!"
"Ha ha," she replied drily. "No Quidditch."
"I told you so!" Roxanne shouted gleefully, attracting the stares of the students around us.
"Quiet," Dom shushed her. "Let's go before you release the librarian's fury."
We trooped out of the library in silence, Summer and Sophie sulking about the veto apposed on the Quidditch match.
"Oh, cheer up," I poked Sophie in the shoulder. "We can have a snowball fight."
Her face brightened up considerably, and Dom grinned. "Should I get the rest of the Peasterly clan?"
"That's a terrible name for your family mafia," I laughed, "but sure, why not? I'll find Ivy and try to get Fern as well."
Which was easier said than done, as time seemed to be proving so far.
Somehow, we did manage to find everyone, and met in the Great Hall in a flurry of bobble hats, mittens, and scarves.
The entire Weasley and Potter family was there – the Peasterly clan, as Dom had so poetically deemed them – along with various add-ons that included myself, Summer, Sophie, Lorcan, Ivy, Fern, Scorpius Malfoy, Elise Nott, and Athina Jordan-Bell, a friend of Lily, Molly, and Ivy. Even Lucy, who was known to flee from mayhem when she could, was there, her Head Girl badge pinned onto her Slytherin scarf.
"Okay," Lucy shouted above the noise, "Louis on my right, James on my left, we're going to pick our teams! Lou, you start."
"Autumn, Summer, Fred, Al, Elise," Louis called, then paused to think about it.
James seized the opportunity. "Lorcan, Rose, Hugo, Sophie, Athina, and Molly, you're with me."
"So Dom, Roxanne, Scorpius, Fern, Ivy and Lily are on my team," Lucy concluded.
"Hey, I have a person less," Louis complained.
"That doesn't matter, we're going to kick their ass," Elise smiled evilly.
Twenty minutes later, we had to admit that she was right. Roxanne lay defeated on the ground next to Athina and Molly, snowballs flying over their heads.
"OUCH!" I yelped as I was hit in the back of the head. I turned around to glare at Dom, who smiled innocently at me, then pulled a face as Louis slid some snow down her jacket. He winked, and I gave him the thumbs up.
"Fine, fine," James yelled from where Al had jumped on his back and was forcing snow into his mouth, "I proclaim my defeat!"
"Never!" Lucy roared, her eyes bright with laughter. "I will never give up!" A strategically aimed snowball caught her in the face, courtesy of Fred, effectively shutting her up. "Oh, all right, Louis' team wins!"
We cheered, high-fived each other, and made our way back to the castle, dripping wet. I chose this occasion to fall into step with Fern, who, though shivering, was smiling happily.
"Are you alright?" I asked her quietly, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. "I haven't seen you for quite some time."
"Lots of homework," she replied breezily. "Teachers have been going crazy, and Al, Scorp, Elise and I have taken to eating sandwiches in the common room while scribbling down last minute essays."
"Have you been sleeping enough? You look a bit pale."
"Don't worry," she shook the snow of her shoulders as we crossed the doors of the Entrance Hall, "I just have a bit of a cold. I'm fine."
"Glad to hear that, then. It would be nice to see you around at lunch with us one day though."
"I'll try," she promised, giving me a kiss on the cheek. "See you soon?"
"I bloody well hope so," Summer called after her retreating figure. Fern laughed before disappearing behind the corner.
"Hogsmeade next week," Charlotte grumbled as we were getting ready for bed. "February has come too fast."
"Ugh," Sophie groaned, "I hate the Valentine's day Hogsmeade outing shebang."
"So do I," I sighed, pulling my onesies over my pyjamas.
Yes, I have onesies. All the girls of our dorm do, actually. It was a Christmas present we treated ourselves to last year. They have a chequered pattern in various shades of blue, and you have nothing to say about it.
"Stop beating yourselves up," Isabel commented from her bed, intently focused on painting her nails a bright shade of yellow. "We can do this the same way as we've done for the past three years: with butterbeer…"
"Chocolate," Sophie completed.
"And happily single," Charlotte laughed.
"I brought food," Dom chanted at that moment, pushing the door open with her shoulder.
"Banana sandwiches?" Isabel immediately asked, her head snapping up from her fingers.
"Fresh out of the oven, with dark chocolate on top," Dom ceremoniously placed the tray she was carrying on the floor in the middle of the room. "Let me just get into my pyjamas and then we can eat."
She emerged from the bathroom three minutes later and joined us in the circle we were forming, marking our cue to throw ourselves on the food.
"So," Dom asked, swallowing her last mouthful, "what were you moping about when I came in?"
"That not one of us has a date to Hogsmeade for Valentine's day," Charlotte smiled, rubbing the chocolate off her fingers with a napkin.
"Huh? What about Autumn?" Dom looked at me quizzically.
"No," I frowned, "I haven't got a date. Why did you think I would?"
"No reason," Dom waved me off, "I must have mistaken you with someone else. Can I have the last sandwich?"
I would have questioned her further, but the screams of indignation at Dom's demand prevented me from doing so.
The week dragged on, bleak and dreary. The snow that had fallen during January had finally started to melt, turning to a combination of slush and mud that stuck to shoes and robe hems. The excitement of Christmas had also died away, leading to teachers giving us even more homework (something I did not believe humanely possible).
"And one more essay for next week!" Dom whined loudly as we siphoned the mud from our shoes after a trek back from the greenhouses. "Herbology, Charms, Defence, Transfig… – Autumn, I think this is for you."
I glanced over my shoulder. "That's your brother, Dominique."
"Please not the full name, Ton, and trust me, this is for you. See you in Potions!" With that, she melted into the throng of students, leaving me befuddled as Louis walked up to me.
"Hi," he grinned, slightly breathlessly. "Care to walk with me?"
He directed me outside, into the courtyard, away from the prying eyes of the other students, who were watching with curiosity.
"Look," he started, running his hand through his hair, "I really don't know how to ask you this, but, basically, I'm looking for a date to Hogsmeade."
I stared at him, eyebrows arched. "So you're not specifically asking me, you just need me to save you from a horde of mad girls desperate to get into your pants?"
"That's about it."
I burst out laughing. "Do you realise how tactless that sounds?"
He nodded sheepishly.
"Fine," I said once I had regained some control. "I'll do it. We're going to need to look convincing, which will be difficult, but I'll do it."
"Thanks, Autumn. I'll meet you at ten in the Great Hall?"
"See you there, darling," I mocked.
He laughed, swooped down to kiss me on the cheek, and stayed there to whisper in my ear.
"It's a deal."
A/N: Hi guys! So, how did you like this chapter? I feel like it moved quite fast, but at the same time it needed to move... Yes?
I'd also just like to say that if you feel like there's a lot of academic description, it's because it's done on purpose -- they are still at school, you know, and (out of experience) six year tends to be more studying than being the life and soul of the party (maybe that's just me though).
Anyway, let me know your thoughts on this chapter -- one-liners are very welcome! Did you like Louis? I certainly did.
Advertisement time: I have two new fics up! One, Frozen Waters, takes place on the Titanic; the other, Reason to Fight, is about wizarding french resistance during the Second World War. If you have the time, give them a look?
Thank you ♥
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