Chapter 4 : Superfluous (adj.)
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“So!” I began cheerfully as I sat down in my usual seat in the back corner of the library, dropping my bag on the ground. “Which one of you homo sapiens got the farthest today?”
“Why are you always the last one here, Elizabeth?” Jensen asked, pinching the bridge of his nose like my Mum did sometimes when she caught Williams sneaking in. Or when she spoke to me anytime, really.
“Maybe because I’ve got these things called friends that I tend to get caught up in, Jensen,” I replied. “You should try it sometimes.”
“I do too have friends,” he hissed. (For the record, this is a not completely a lie. There’s a couple of other swotty Ravenclaws in his year and the year below that he is occasionally seen in the presence of. Plus, he spends a lot of time chasing around the Prefects and badgering them about rounds, if you count that as hanging out with people, which I don’t).
“Hey guys!” Trixie butted in. “No fighting! We all just got here.”
“Sorry Trix,” I rolled my eyes, not really sorry at all. But it made her feel better if one of us apologized about something, and we sure as hell weren’t going to apologize to each other.
“Anyway,” she continued, “I need a little help in the middle right. I got stuck on 25 across – Aesop’s story.” She looked up. “Who’s Aesop?”
“He’s a muggle folk writer,” Milo told her. “He wrote stories similar to Beedle the Bard.”
“Hm,” Trixie murmured, looking back down at her puzzle. I fished my own crumpled Daily Prophet out of my bag and spread it out.
“Alright, help me out here,” I looked up. “What was the name of the goblin who helped Harry Potter break into Gringott’s during his search for the Horcrux’s?”
“Griphook,” Jensen replied quickly. “Don’t you pay any attention in History of Magic?”
“Not really,” I shrugged. “Usually James or Fred or Roxy help me study.” Jensen rolled his eyes. Oh Merlin, so sorry I was friends with the Potters and the Weasleys, Jensen! It’s not my fault Roxy and her twin brother and their cousin James sat down in Marge’s and my compartment on the train on the way to Hogwarts and that we were all so completely fucking awesome that we became best friends. (We didn’t meet Ruby and Gwen until after the Sorting).
He muttered something that sounded like spoiled brat under his breath, and I chose to ignore it. Instead, I scratched in GRIPHOOK into 45 down, and glanced over the across clues to see if I could figure them out now that I had more letters.
“Your sister is in my Potions class, Liz,” Tobias told me suddenly, and my head snapped up. He was grinning – well, as much as Tobias grinned anyway. More of a smirk. I always forgot he was a year younger than Jensen and Savannah and I. Trixie and Milo were 6th as well. “She’s just like you, you know.”
“Erm, I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing,” I replied. He chuckled.
“She’s funny. Not the exact same, mind you,” he added, cocking his head to the side. “She’s more….”
“Put together?” I suggested drily. “Responsible? Self-actualized?”
“I don’t even know what self-actualized means,” Trixie commented, almost as if sensing the tone of my voice.
“Psychology term,” Jensen jumped in. “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” No one paid any attention to him.
“She rolls her eyes just as much as you,” Tobias told me with another smirk. Not even meaning to prove his points, my eyes rolled. The table bust out laughing, and even Jensen managed a smile.
“I’ll make sure to tell my sister you’re stalking her,” I told him with a grin. He shook his head, ducking his head back down to his crossword. Tobias was a strange bloke. Slytherin heritage, pureblood, and filthy rich – all of which I could have guessed the second I saw how high and sharp his cheekbones were. What was it about cheekbones and being aristocratic?
Either way, Tobias was it. Dark brown hair, sharp eyes, sharp cheekbones, sharp jaw. Sharp brain too, always catching what others missed. If I hadn’t spent the better part of the last three years sitting around a table every weekend with him, I would probably be more than slightly intimidated.
“Stop staring at me, Liz,” he chided, without even lifting his head up.
“How do you do that?” I whined. He looked up, fixing me with those dark eyes of his, the corners of his mouth turning upward.
“Magic,” he replied, flashing me a dazzling grin. My eyes narrowed.
“Don’t try and charm me with those good looks of yours, Tobias Hawthorne. It won’t work.”
“And why not, dear Elizabeth?” He asked me, his eyes dancing in the low lights of the back of the library. I scowled. Tobias loved to try to get under my skin.
“I’m a lesbian,” I replied drily.
“What a waste,” he sighed heavily, still smirking at me.
To my right, Jensen coughed unsubtly. “Does anyone have 13 down?” I rolled my eyes. Jensen and his lack of social skills strike again!
“Where are you stuck?” Savannah asked, leaning over and looking at his puzzle. My eyes flicked through the rest of my own, filling in two more across clues that I had missed without GRIPHOOK.
“So, Lizard, are you excited about the first Quidditch match of the season?” Trixie asked me kindly. Oh right – we were playing Hufflepuff. Forgotten about that.
“Yeah!” I replied brightly, trying to match her level of enthusiasm. I always felt bad about being a spoiled brat around Trixie. She was just so bloody nice that I figured the least I could do was try and be nice and peppy back. “Should be loads of fun.”
“You guys have quite the team this year,” she continued. “Especially with James Potter as captain.” If I hadn’t been watching her for her reaction, I wouldn’t have noticed Savannah stiffen slightly as Jensen was explaining his thought process to her.
“We’ve got the experience, that’s for sure,” I replied. You know, what with James, Fred, Liam, and Marge all on the team and all being Seventh years - duh. “Though next year might be a bit rough.”
“Think you’ve got the experience needed to beat us?” Tobias smirked.
“Shut up, Toby,” I rolled my eyes. “No one likes you.”
“Really?” He shot back, eyebrow raised. I huffed.
“Go be dark and brooding somewhere else.”
“Do you two mind?” Jensen cut in. “I’ve got a meeting about Prefects’ round scheduling later and I’d like to finish this up before then.” I pulled a face. Jensen was such a swot sometimes.
“On a Sunday night, really?” Tobias asked. Ha! I knew I liked him.
“Some of us have a busy schedule,” Jensen sniffed.
“So Jensen,” I jumped in before he could stick his nose any further into the air. “How’s the love life lately?”
“Ooh, yes!” Trixie jumped in, always eager to chat about relationships. “Any girls caught your eye, Jensen?” He just sniffed again.
“Girls are superfluous when you’ve got ambition like mine.”
Oh Merlin. Someone slap that on a greeting card.
“Erm, okay,” Trixie replied, clearly not sure how to handle that answer. Across from me, Tobias tried to stifle his smirk.
“What about you, Mr. Weatherwax?” I asked Milo. “Any girls on your horizon?” Milo blushed a nice pink shade. Such a shy bloke.
“Nope,” he replied, shaking his head.
“Your ambition get in the way too?” Tobias asked, deadly serious. I bust out laughing, much to Jensen’s chagrin.
“Just you wait!” He all but shrieked. “One day I’m going to be Minister of Magic and you lot are going to be pandering your little story of being school chums with me to any magazine that’ll talk to you, just trying to ride on my coattails of success!”
No one really knew what to say to that.
(Also, if Jensen fucking Mitchell ever becomes Minster of Magic, I’m moving to Guam).
“Sav, hang on a sec, will you?”
I was not looking forward to this conversation. Not at all. Not one bit. Still, I forced the words to come out of my mouth, and the pretty auburn-haired girl paused in packing up her things.
“Sure,” she replied easily, acting like nothing was wrong. I wish I was that good of an actress. I tended to be extremely expressive – overdramatic, in the words of my mother. Highly imaginative, according to my father. You know the drill. I probably had ADHD or something, but my mother thought that Healers handed out that diagnosis to every kid who was difficult to handle and solved the issue by writing prescription after prescription for Calming Draughts, which probably lead to kids developing a dependency on potions and she wasn’t about to have her eldest daughter grow up to become an addict, damn it!
You can see where I got my flair for the dramatics.
We waited as the rest of the group said their goodbyes and left: Jensen stalking off quickly to his Prefects meeting, Trixie chatting to Milo as they meandered towards the exit, and Tobias sauntering away until he blended in with the shadows. Finally, it was just me and Savannah at the table.
“Did you find anything out?” She asked immediately. The words came out much more quickly that she intended; the blush on her cheeks told me that. I smiled. It was kind of funny to see someone so put together as Savannah Dewhurst lose their shite over a bloke.
“Not really,” I answered slowly, jiggling my leg under the table. Bugger, I didn’t really want to tell her this. “Um, I don’t really know how to say this, but I think James be snogging someone else.” I winced as soon as the words left my lips, not wanting to see her reaction. For her part, Savannah was extremely stoic and shite about the whole thing.
“Oh,” she replied, blinking a few times. She took a deep breath and seemed to will herself not to fall apart. “Interesting.”
“Interesting?” I bust out, leaning forward. “That’s all you’ve got to say?” She gave me an annoyed look.
“What else do you want me to do, Liz?” She frowned. “He’s snogging someone else. That’s it. End of story.”
“Two things!” I said fiercely, holding two fingers up in front Savannah’s face, just in case she missed my point. “One!” I held up one finger. “Even if James is snogging someone, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the running. He’s not dating anyone, he’s snogging her. It could end tomorrow for all we know.” Or he could meet Savannah, decide he fancied her, and call off his other snogging arrangement. Whatever worked.
“Two,” I held up the other finger. “I said I think James is snogging someone else. No one knows for sure. He’s been acting dodgy lately, disappearing randomly. Not even Fred or Liam knows where he’s been going.”
“Disappearing randomly?” Savannah repeated, raising her eyebrows. “It certainly sounds like he’s sneaking off to snog someone. Ever thought it was someone who might want to keep it a secret?”
“We did,” I admitted, thinking back to the dinner conversation the other night. “Possibly a Slytherin, or someone on a rival Quidditch team. Aisling O’Rourke, or something.” I shrugged, feeling a bit helpless. I told Savannah I was the wrong person to come to for all of this. I was no bloody help at all!
“Well then,” Savannah said firmly, crossing her arms over her chest. “I think the first step is to find out who he’s snogging, if he’s snogging someone at all.” I looked up at her sharply.
“How, exactly, do you expect us to do that?” I asked a bit snappily. “Want me to just waltz up to the boys’ dorm and sit on his bed and ask him? We can paint our nails and take quizzes in Witch Weekly while we’re at it!” Savannah looked a bit taken aback at my outburst, her brown eyes widening. Ah, shite. I looked down at the table, letting my hair swing in front of my face.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “Didn’t mean to shout at you.”
“It’s alright,” she replied a bit tentatively. “I just….” She trailed off for a moment. “I really fancy him, you know? It’s not one of those things of convenience, where I’d snog him if he was there and willing. It means I still have feeling for him, even if I find out he’s snogging someone else. And if it came down to it he probably wouldn’t pick me,” she took a deep breath, “over some mysterious Quidditch-playing Slytherin, but I’d at least like to know what I’m up against.”
“What do you mean, he probably wouldn’t pick you?” Savannah just shrugged. “Sav, if a boy picks a mysterious Quidditch-playing Slytherin over you then they’ve got a serious problem. You’re pretty and smart and kind – I don’t know what else they would want,” I told her matter-of-factly, and she ducked her head.
“Thanks Liz,” she replied softly. “But who knows? Blokes’ minds work in mysterious ways.” I snorted.
“Ain’t that the truth.”
“So what do you say?” She had lifted up her head again, looking me in the eye. “Will you help me find out who James is snogging?” She had a weird expression on her face. It was half determination and half earnest pleading, and all together it made me feel like an awful person. I sighed; Roxanne was right – I was such a pushover.
“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll help. But! But I am not asking him outright.”
“No,” Savannah replied, a smile on her face. “I doubt that would even work. If he hasn’t told you by now, he’s probably not planning on it.” I frowning, thinking again of how secretive James was being. So unlike him. In fact, he had been uncharacteristically quiet the whole year so far. Granted, it had only been a couple weeks, but there had been no huge pranks, no excessive PDA in the common room, no spirited Quidditch debates over the dinner table. He was much more….serious. Dare I say it….mature? I shuddered. Mature and James Potter did not go together.
“So what’s your plan then?” I asked.
“Well, you say he’s been disappearing at random times, right?” I nodded. “Well then I say we follow him and find out where he’s going – and more importantly, who he’s meeting.” She grinned triumphantly.
“We follow him?” I repeated.
“We follow him.”
I tried to picture it in my mind. James, standing up from the couch in front of the fire and saying he was off. Give us all that cheeky little smirk and heading for the portrait hole. And then what? Me, standing up and announcing I too had somewhere to go and heading out right after him? He would know I was there in a hot second, and everyone else would be all suspicious. Plus, how would Sav, in the Ravenclaw tower, know when he was on the move?
“How am I going to let you know when he’s disappearing?” I asked. My confusion must have shown through on my face, because Savannah took a leaf out of my book and rolled her eyes.
“You’ve got a two-way mirror, right?” She asked. Oh, yeah. That. The Muggle world had cell phones (I had one of those too, since my Dad was a Muggle, but since it didn’t work at Hogwarts I left it in the bottom of my trunk). The Wizarding World had two-way mirrors – little pocket compacts that you could flip open. Say the name of the person you wanted to contact and, given that they had one as well, their mirror would grow hot, or vibrate, or make a noise (depending on what you spelled it to do), and they could flip theirs open and see your face. Pretty snazzy, eh?
“Yeah, that would make a lot of sense,” I replied a bit ruefully, giving Savannah a grin. She just laughed.
“So when James gets up and heads out, you let me know with your mirror and I’ll come and meet up with you.”
“Okay,” I replied. “But how we will follow him without us seeing? We can’t get too far behind or we’ll lose him. Besides, James is a master pranker. He’ll know when someone is following him.”
“Oh damn, you’re right,” Savannah said crossly. She frowned, wracking her brain for a solution. “Disillusionment charms?” She suggested. “So he can’t see us?”
“Wait!” I held up a finger, a grin spreading over my face as my mind went back to one night in Fifth year. I had a Transfiguration essay due the next day that I hadn’t finished, and I was the last one up in the Common Room, frantically trying to get it done so I could get some sleep that night. Extremely late – or extremely early, depending on which way you looked at it – the portrait hole opened. No one entered, but the portrait swung shut again. I remembered thinking that the lack of sleep must have been getting to me.
And then, all of a sudden, Freddy and Liam and James had appeared out of nowhere, a war whoop escaping from Freddy’s lips and laughter echoing through the empty corners of the Common Room. When they realized I had been sitting there the whole time, the room fell silent. The boys had implored me not to tell anyone. Freddy wanted me to make an Unbreakable Vow, but James and Liam – thank Merlin – had stopped him. I had sworn on my mother’s life that I wouldn’t tell anyone about the strange cloak, and that had been that.
Much later, Roxy was telling me some story about Christmas at the Burrow and mentioned something about James’ cloak. “The cloak that makes people invisible?” I had asked her, and it was one of the only times that I had ever seen Roxy speechless. She told me the whole story: how it was the same one Harry Potter had used when he was at school, and during his search for the Horcruxes, and how he has passed it on to James when he went to school, just like Harry’s father had passed it on to him.
The whole Potter and Weasley families knew about it, but somehow very few other people did. Liam, of course. And me, I guess. But it was one of those family secrets that they actually kept. And I was going to break the promise I had made all those years ago to the boys to never tell anyone about the cloak. Because I was going to steal James Potter’s invisibility cloak and use it to follow him. My grin widened.
“You leave that part to me.”
AN: Sorry this one's a bit short, but things should be moving along nicely (and a bit quicker) from here on out! How do you think Liz is going to steal the Invisibility Cloak? What do you think she and Sav will find when they follow James? Why does Jensen always have such a stick up his arse? Stay tuned to find out all that and more! As always, thanks so much for reading, and I'll be eternally grateful if you let me know what you think of the story so far!
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