Chapter 3 : Wide Awake
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Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling. At least, that’s what she’s said in her letter when I asked to buy the rights for £4.50.
Everything in the whole world that could possibly matter at that moment was sat in front of me; the application for an apprenticeship in the Department of Mysteries.
I had drafted and redrafted everything I could write into each small box, double-checking all of my facts and making sure I didn’t sound entirely obnoxious whilst including all of my achievements.
Well, most of them.
I didn’t want to include anything about the cure for the Drought of Living Death: a) telling them ‘hey, by the way, you know that anonymous recent discovery that blew the minds of most specialist potioneers and released 247 victims from St. Mungo’s within a week? A fourteen year old girl came up with that and tested it on her best friend’ sounds stupid, cocky and plainly implausible. I wouldn’t believe anyone making fantastical claims like that; b) it was worth nothing. Leaving Ellie in a complete state of paralysis would have been far better for her health.
Teddy, bless his wonderful little heart, was helping me instead of marking his Defence Against the Dark Arts essays from third years. He knew why I wanted to go. He hadn’t argued like mum had. Leaning over slightly, he squinted at the dotted lines.
“Here you should put all of your hobbies- you know, like your potion making and Quidditch-“
“But I’m Captain of the team.”
“Then put that in too- you don’t do hundreds, but the ones you do say a lot about you. You need to bulk it up a bit,” he said. He critically passed over it.
“In the extracurricular one, you need your Head Girl shit and-“
“Professor!” I exclaimed, gasping and holding my mouth at his vulgar language, even leaping back a little in my seat.
Firmly, although with the same twinkle of amusement I often saw in my dad, he put a hand on my shoulder and sat me down.
“I’m your big brother, Lily, not your teacher right now.”
“So yes, Head Girl and-“
“I just wanted to say it. Bro.”
Louise’s form was off- she kept arching her neck when she dived- and Nathan had missed eight of the eleven shots I had taken. Rachel had dropped the Quaffle twice, and Riley looked more bored than I had ever seen.
Oh, and I kept yelling at Callum because he looked as miserable as I felt.
The prompt that finally caused me to blow the whistle on the whole practice was the jeering Slytherin team, who had arrived early to harass our practice before theirs. Yes, so they had narrowly beaten us in the last game of the year via cheating- but we had still won the Cup on points.
Against Ravenclaw had been a particularly fine game for us: 20-480.
They only got two goals in a three hour game. We averaged nearly two goals a minute.
And, of course, Louise’s insane leap through one of the goals to catch the snitch and still landing on her broom was the polish of the cherry on top of the cake.
In order to win, Slytherin had to get 390 points, and Al and I were unlikely going to let that happen on our shift.
“Guys, take a break,” I wearily told them. “Oh, and Callum-“
He looked like I was about to slap him when I held him back.
“-sorry for being such a cow. I’ll try to reign in my temper next time. You were fine.”
When relief blossomed on his face, I winced and berated myself silently; I couldn’t even have a reputation of kindness in my own team.
Pretending to organise their abandoned brooms was my way of not watching them limp back to the changing rooms, and I took a deep breath. We’d be fine, I knew we would be. I just wished I had one of my brothers there to lead us.
I heard a weird hiss, but I was sure it was whispering- probably everyone voting me off the team.
That time it sounded more like a snake, so I slowly turned around as I withdrew my wand. There wasn’t anything near, except the Quaffle.
The noise turned out to be Jack, who was tucked inside the framework of the exposed stands.
He gave me a thumbs-up. I shook my head.
He pulled a sad face. I sighed.
He pointed below him, at the changing rooms. I frowned.
He pointed to the brooms at my feet, then gestured to cutting his throat. I raised an eyebrow.
I was not stopping Quidditch.
He held up three fingers. I held up my middle one.
He pouted. I ignored him.
He pretended to silently cry. I pretended to not giggle.
He held up a concealed broom at his side. I was intrigued.
Finally conceding, I gestured for him to wait and Summoned the brooms when I had entered the changing rooms. The team all turned to look at me.
“Let’s call it day,” I said dejectedly, throwing their brooms respectively to them. “I’m just being a grouchy bitch, and you’re not playing your best because of it. I am sorry about that, I just-“
“You don’t have to apologize,” Lou shrugged, “but thanks anyway. Practice tomorrow?”
“Sure,” I nodded, grateful for their understanding. None of them seemed mad.
I turned to go straight back out.
“Aren’t you coming in?” Rachel piped up.
“Gotta train myself,” I said, after a moment’s thought.
I wandered outside slowly, about to mount my trailing broom when a hand landed on my shoulder. I nearly screamed, spinning around in shock.
“What the hell?!” I gasped, Jack clearly amused.
“So you are human... interesting.”
Unimpressed, I began to mount my broom, but he was already in the air.
“Race you to the hoops,” he smirked.
I won. Of course. It had been exhilarating flying with purpose again, and I felt wide awake for the first time in months.
“I think I actually died of old age then,” I yawned when he finally reached me.
“Nasty,” he scolded.
“Honest,” I corrected, careless.
“Give me a ten second head start to the other ones?” he asked hopefully, his bright eyes shining despite the defeat.
I snorted. “I hope you know you’re going to cry when I kick your arse as I pass you.”
“I don’t mind losing.”
He didn’t answer, just smiled and sped off.
“Shit,” I muttered suddenly, then roared through the wind and beginnings of mild rain to the changing rooms.
“LILY?” I heard Jack yell unconcernedly.
I didn’t answer, but rolled off my broom before I’d even hit the floor and staggered through, grabbing my dust-gathering clothes and schoolbag.
“Where are you going?” Jack asked. Apparently he’d followed me.
“It’s eight o’clock!” I hissed at him.
“So, I have my Charms and Transfiguration practice, a Herbology essay and Arithmancy questions to do tonight, or I’ll run behind schedule and I can’t do that again because-“
“Lily, chill out. You can copy my Arithmancy notes, you completely nailed the Transfiguration in class and Charms is pretty much your best subject, except for Potions. You’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
“They’re not your grades,” I snapped. “So fuck off.”
A firm grip on my arm kept me from running out again. “Lily, you’ve forgotten your broom, you need to get changed: stop panicking. I’ll go to Gryffindor common room and do your Arithmancy right now, okay? You can come up, and we’ll chill out and get everything done together. It’ll be fine- we’ll rope in your cousin too, if necessary.”
I stared at him. “You can’t do my homework.”
“Because it’s cheating. If I get caught cheating then I’ll get disqualified from all the exams in it and-“
“From one piece of unimportant homework? That’s never going to happen. Chill out, okay? I’ll get on it right now, and we’ll be done by ten. Is that alright?”
This breezy little speech irritated me. “How on Earth are we going to be done by ten?”
He winked, grinned. Smirked.
“Do you trust me?”
“Seems fair. For now.”
His way of saving time was not impressive, but I’ll admit, effective: I only practiced the spells until I had gotten it right three times in a row; I answered the questions from memory rather than consulting textbooks to give me definitively the right answer, and I copied up what he wrote for me. We were done by half nine.
Roxy, I noted, had been glancing across at us whenever she thought we weren’t looking, but clearly chose to have an early night regardless of her interest, and disappeared up the stairs after a while. The group of giggling fourth years who clearly thought having a Ravenclaw in the Tower was the ‘most exciting thing EVER!’ had gone, after many light-hearted jokes from Jack. He didn’t mind the attention, but he didn’t exactly revel in it either.
There were a few groups of friends idly talking amongst themselves and students actually working, like myself, but aside from their background buzzing, it was peaceful. Jack watched me complete a spell with a small flourish, and gave me a high five.
“Nice one. Now, bedtime,” he promptly ordered. He had been sitting back in his chair, looking very pleased with himself, but he began to help me sweep the stacks of parchment into my bag.
“You go,” I said, glad I didn’t have to squash it all in as the bag accommodated the new load easily.
“What kind of man would I be if I didn’t see you to your room?” he mocked, bowing. I raised my eyebrows.
“A... normal one?”
“Seriously, Lily. Please allow me to escort you back to your humble abode. Sex is optional, not necessary.”
I whacked him over the arm.
“I’ll see you to Ravenclaw Tower,” I told him. “I have patrolling to do anyway, so I’ll pretend I’ve already put you in detention for being out late.”
He frowned. “You’ve got patrolling at ten o’clock at night?”
“No- midnight till two.”
At that, he looked downright horrified.
“No wonder you look like you’ve permanently got mascara smeared under your eyes- Lily, go to bed now. You can’t do that to your body- you can only do so much before you burn out completely.”
He took my bag off me and put it back on the table. I tried to take it back, but he grabbed my shoulders and turned me to look at him. I felt uncomfortable, but walking away meant losing.
“Lily. Your health is far more important than patrolling. Go to bed. I promise no one will notice you’ve missed a night, and if they do, blame me.”
Patrolling was part of the Head Girl deal, even if it was a crap part of it. It looked good on my application letters.
“Patrolling has huge relevance. I can’t simply skip it- it’s part of the security program put in place years ago to ensure the safety of students and teachers alike, and I have a responsibility to them to do all I can to make sure, if any danger does arise, someone who has the ability to deal with the situation will be present and know exactly what procedures need to be instigated.”
It was important to keep Hogwarts safe.
“...if that wasn’t a load of bullshit you memorised from a speech you were given when you first became a Prefect, I will eat of spoonful of whatever potion Gardner has us make in potions next lesson.”
“Let us hope it isn’t something deadly.”
“Go. To. Bed.”
“Lily,” he sighed, running a frustrated hand through his hair. “Fine, I’ll bite. Let’s say this threat does enter Hogwarts during your patrol, and you happen to be there. Let’s also say that you don’t panic, because God-knows you’re a seventeen year old girl who has very little firsthand experience in this area, and you manage to get your wand out. And let’s throw in, just for the laughs, that this danger actually engages you in a duel rather than killing you with the first spell that’s directed at you. So, you’re duelling. Adrenaline is pumping. But what was that lesson McGonagall taught us in our third year when Michael Mullins fell asleep in her class? Oh, that’s right.
“Adrenaline never fuels magical power. It fuels reflexes and how quickly you think of spells, but not the power itself. Only healthy sources of fuel, like food and sleep, does. Michael couldn’t do the spell to save his life despite the pressure of us all staring at him, because he was exhausted. Because his body couldn’t cope.
“Even if, Lily, you managed to send a message to Professor Thomas himself, you’d be dead before anyone even knew there was a danger.”
I looked at him. He looked at me.
“Am I right, or am I wrong?”
He gave me the option to tell him he was wrong because he knew he wasn’t. I hated that.
“I’m not the best dueller anyway...” I pathetically excused.
He picked up my bag. “I’ll walk you up.”
The next morning, I got Ellie’s letter at the breakfast table. My uplifted mood from the sleep I’d had was diminished rapidly with it. She was feeling better when she had written this letter; the writing was panicked, hasty, and unfortunately aware. Sometimes it was better to forget some of the things she said. She wasn’t in her right mind, anyway.
I wandered over to the Ravenclaw table when I was finished writing a short answer. Jack, as per usual, met me enthusiastically and quickly shoved me towards some of his nerdy friends.
They were, I had to admit, an amazing kind of nerdy.
There was Veronica, Scott, Greg(ory) and Jenny: they all talked about politics, and muggle video games, magic vs non magic, happiness and what homework was due next? Oops, they hadn’t done it. Veronica (despite her introduction as this name, everyone seemed to favour the endearment ‘Vee’) chatted happily with me about potions.
“-I can’t see their experiments finding anything of use, though. They seemed to have been recruiting all the wrong people recently,” she sighed. I’d tried to subtly bring up her opinion on the Ministry of Magic Departments.
“What do you mean?”
“They bring in all the theorists. Last year, 36% of the apprentices admitted into the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had only passed Defence due to their exceptional grade on their paper- if it had been the practical alone, they would have failed. It’s all well and good understanding the principle, but what the use if you can’t actually do it?” I nodded in agreement. “Fortunately, someone high up seems to have noticed and they’re reviewing the rules. Although, rumour has it,” she leaned in, her passionate speech abruptly halting into softer, more excited tones, “that Harry Potter is already coming down on the Auror Department like a ton of bricks. He’s put them all up to a test, apparently, and those that failed had to go on a course personally with him.”
“Really?” I asked lightly. I didn’t know.
“Yeah. Course, that’s just stuff circulating at the moment in some low key magazines- and, well, the Quibbler had an individual spin on the story, to say the least- but I’d never put that stuff past him. He seems smart.”
Jack threw a piece of toast at her. “Stop fishing for information, Vee! She isn’t going to tell you!”
Vee shook crumbs out her absently, frowning at him. “What do you-“
She suddenly whipped up and stared at me, petrified.
“Sorry! Oh, sorry, Lily- I completely forgot he was your dad! Oh, damn, I really did forget, I didn’t mean to intrude or anything, I read it last night and thought it was really interesting and-“
“Calm down,” I smiled, reassuringly patting her on the shoulder. “It’s fine. He doesn’t tell me anything about work except how Uncle Ron managed to mess up the paperwork on any given day.”
She still looked unsettled, but thankfully stopped apologizing.
I didn’t like how my whole future was wrapped up in one neatly sealed letter. It was too simplistic.
Teddy had helped me write the majority of it- Jack helped me tweak it. He put in amusing comments and brightened up the lack of leisure activities through the charm that seemed to ooze even through his writing.
“Happy?” he asked as I scanned through it one last time.
“When’s the deadline?”
“It’s the beginning of February, Lily. It can wait.”
“No. If I don’t do it now, I never will.”
I sighed, unwillingly refolding it and tucking it safely into the envelope, gently sealing it with wax.
“Should I tell Teddy?”
“On the way back,” he nodded, tucking the envelope in my hand. “Ready?”
We walked up flights and flights of stairs to the Owlery in silence, and Amata was waiting. She fluttered to perch on Jack’s arm, and I attached the letter as firmly as I could to her leg.
“It’s the Department of Mysteries, Mr Mayhew’s desk, okay?” I asked the bird.
She ruffled her feathers.
“Good.” Leaning down, I kissed the bird’s head and whispered to her, my stomach clenching uncomfortably, “for Ellie, okay?”
Jack let her take flight in her own time, but that was very little, and soon we were watching a brown speck disappear behind the hills.
“What if I don’t get the job?” I asked.
“Will you stop living?”
“Then it won’t be over.”
Teddy was pleased I’d sent it off: he seemed more pleased, however, by the presence of Jack, who’d insisted on coming with me.
“So... who is he?” Teddy asked, giving a sideways smirk at Jack.
He was leaning against the doorframe, watching students pass and occasionally calling out a greeting. I was stood by the desk that Teddy was sat on; he, unfortunately, had a very good view of Jack.
“He’s a friend. I think. I mean, he sort of picked me. I didn’t have much choice in the matter.”
Teddy seemed uneasy at that, so I shrugged.
“I’ll keep him around. He can be amusing, I suppose.”
“He’s a great student,” Teddy said casually, settling a little. “Hard worker, not afraid to voice his opinions, creative, funny... overall, a very good guy.”
I glanced back at Jack. He smiled slightly.
“...if he was treating you badly, you’d tell me, wouldn’t you?”
I snorted, and gave Teddy my full attention again. “Right, okay. Sure. Like he’d ever hurt a fly.”
That seemed to appease Teddy, because he handed me a letter.
“It’s from your dad. He sent it to me because he didn’t want you opening it in front of anyone you didn’t trust.”
I turned it over in my hands, looking at the seal.
It was written from work (the seal was the official Ministry one), but he’d simply addressed it to ‘Lily’. I liked his slightly cramped handwriting.
“Can I open it here?”
“Sure.” Teddy stood up and raised his voice. “Jack, mate, can you shut the door for a bit? We need to talk.”
Jack started slightly, but obeyed the second he registered it. “Sure, Professor.”
I watched as he began to close it.
“You are staying, aren’t you?” I asked.
Teddy was frowning at me.
“I want Jack to stay. I thought you were staying,” I explained, “never mind.”
“I’ll stay if you want me to,” he instantly offered. “Of course I will.”
Teddy shrugged. “Shut the door.”
Jack awkwardly (bless him) wandered over to us.
“Do you know what’s in here?” I asked Teddy as I slid it open.
I’m writing because the trial of Alecto Carrow has been suspended- yet again- due to new evidence brought to light. It’s not like last time, thought, because it’s against her, but it’s meant that we’re waiting another eight weeks because all the other dates are full.
I promised you I would put her behind bars. I’m not going to fail. It’s only a matter of when.
Sucking air in, I kept calm. My hands remained relaxed, and my breathing steady.
“She will go to Azkaban. It’s going to be fine.”
A/N So, this is important if you like this story and want to continue reading it.
My life has been immeasurably different in the past month or so, accounting for my hiatus. I haven’t had any spare time (no, really, none) because a friend non-permanently moved in with my family due to a bad home life. It’s been a bit bonkers. And I’ve been trying to keep up with my work and... yeah. Life has, as usual, given me an odd hand and we’re had to muddle through.
BUT, I’m back. I’d really, really appreciate if you guys can give me a bit of slack when it comes to updates and answering reviews in the next few weeks, because I haven’t written anything in advance and that’s sorta new, but I’m on holiday so I do have some time for writing now.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope you can understand that it’s just a bit difficult right now (but it’s been far worse for my friend, so don’t lend me too much sympathy).
See you soon, lovely readers,
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