Chapter 12 : Twelve
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B O O K T W O
As Told By Jennifer Potter
“Guinevere Dorea Potter.”
Taking a deep breath, I stepped out from inside the white tent conjured in the McKinnons’ backyard that connected to the nearby hills.
Like most wizarding families, their house was in the open country of West County, England. The open fields provided a perfect location to hold the pureblood tradition of having a Coming-of-Age Ceremony, though none of us were going to turn seventeen for another two years.
I plastered a smile on my face as I walked down the flowered path that led from the tent and silently told myself that the worst would be over soon. The Candle Ceremony had always been the most daunting to me, as fifteen candles were supposed to be lit, each one (excluding the first) representing someone important in our life.
A flash of a camera greeted me as I tried my best to walk with “grace and poise”, in the words of my aunt. Suddenly, I started worrying whether I had a wrinkle in my new gold dress robes or whether my hair was out of place.
Seeing the fifteen floating candles displayed in plain sight for the audience to see was rather relieving, as I had something to occupy my mind rather than how I looked. The first candle had been lit magically as soon as my name was called.
My eyes met my aunt and uncle’s eyes as an encouraging smile appeared on their faces. Taking another deep breath, I picked up the first candle and lit the fire on the second candle, saying in a firm but loud voice, “My father, Charlus Potter.”
There was a soft murmur in the audience, but I continued as I was told. I lit the third candle and said, “My mother, Dorea Potter.”
“My aunt, Elizabeth Potter,” I said as I lit the fourth candle. Moving on to the fifth candle, I said, “My uncle, William Potter.” I continued to light each candle, one for each of my four grandparents and one each for James and Alex, the two cousins I cared most for.
The final six candles stared down at me as I finished lighting the eight candle for Alex. I took another deep breath, and lit the ten candle, saying, “My friend, Marlene McKinnon.” The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth candle were subsequently lit for Lily, Dorcas, and Mary.
The fifteen candle stared down at me rather forebodingly as the fourteenth candle was lit for Mary. Chancing another glance into the audience, I saw Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle William smile encouragingly. I tried my best to ignore the pair of grey eyes gazing intently at me from behind them.
As the fire from the first candle dedicated to myself lit the fifteenth candle, I said firmly, “My friend, Sirius Black.”
The words left a rather odd taste in my mouth as I set down the first candle and smiled again at the audience. I ignored the soft murmurings that accompanied the applause and walked towards my right as I had been instructed to join Marlene and Dorcas, both of them having gone before me. They were standing in line with Olivia Fawley and Tammy Fortescue.
“Thank Merlin that is over,” I muttered, watching Dianne Ross begin lighting her candles. “It all seems a bit personal, doesn’t it?”
Dorcas, who was gazing into the crowd absentmindedly, shrugged. “I suppose it is, but that’s the point, isn’t it? The day is all about us. We have to expect some discomfort.”
“Well, I don’t like it. I don’t think I’ll force my kids to do this,” Marlene scoffed slightly too loudly, and garnering some displeased looks from the audience.
“I don’t think traditions like these will be around for much longer anyways. The whole pureblood traditions seem to be forgotten nowadays. If it’s not for the fact that I hate the Slytherins and I don’t see the point of distinction between a pureblood and a Muggleborn, I almost can’t fault the Slytherins for wanting to continue with traditions,” I said to my two best friends, spotting Lily and Mary out in the audience.
I shot them a grin just as Dianne Ross joined us, a relieved look on her face.
“Good job up there,” Dorcas said, shooting her a grin.
Dianne shook her head, an exasperated look on her face. “I hate being the last person. It’s almost as bad as being the first.”
We watched as Xavier Fawley, Olivia’s twin brother, Gregory Bones, Anthony King, and Charles MacDougal each completed their own Candle Ceremony with little enthusiasm until James, who would be going last, was called.
Standing up a little straighter, I couldn’t help but smile and clap loudly as James appeared, in olive green robes that brought out his hazel eyes, and a wide grin on his face.
James began lighting his candles with such a confidence that I expected only from James, making his way through lighting candles for his parents, my parents, our Potter grandparents, his maternal grandparents, Alex, and me.
Watching him light a candle as he said my name suddenly made me forget every single thing that I had ever gotten mad at him for. Incidents of him stealing my teddy bear when I was little disappeared, I forgot all about the secrets I had gotten mad at him for keeping from me, and feelings of annoyance that I occasionally felt were gone.
James surprised me and the entire audience by lighting two candles for Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall before he lit a candle each for Remus, for Peter, and finally for Sirius.
As the audience clapped, James stepped off to the left side to join the boys, his eyes catching mine at the last moment.
I grinned, giving him a thumbs up as the audience began to file one by one down away from the seats they were sitting and towards the tables, chairs, and dance floor further down on the McKinnon’s large backyard.
By the time that the audience had settled itself and introductions were made about the second mandatory aspect in a Coming-of-Age Ceremony, The Dance, I quickly moved to the front of the line as I had been given the duty of dancing with Xavier Fawley. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Tammy Fortescue’s boyfriend slip into line, dressed in simple but elegant looking black dress robes.
Though I would have preferred to dance with Gregory Bones, Xavier Fawley was the second best dance partner I could have hoped for. He was handsome, nice, and with a wonderful personality.
The downside was that he didn’t see the merits in Quidditch other than being an interesting sport and responsible for all sorts of violent problems that emerged out or rivalry. Not to mention, he had a girlfriend who was extremely possessive. A possessive girlfriend who happened to be here.
We made our way to the dance floor once given our cue, and I silently reminded myself of the dance steps that I had been taught. It was one thing to feel worried about the Candle Ceremony, but an entirely different thing to mess up the dance steps in front of everyone.
I tried not to catch the eyes of any familiar faces in the audience as I took my position in front of Xavier. His smile should have made me feel slightly calmer about the ordeal, but I couldn’t bring myself to lower my heart rate.
Xavier and I positioned ourselves in the circle with James and Dorcas, Marlene and Greg, Olivia and Charles, Tammy and her boyfriend, and Dianne and Anthony as the music started.
The waltz was painstakingly slow, and I tried my best not to grimace.
“Nervous?” Xavier murmured with a knowing look.
“That’s an understatement,” I replied, feeling relieved he had spoken first. “I always hated these dancing and etiquette classes my aunt made me attend, but now I wish I had paid more attention.”
Xavier let out a small snort, grinning at me. “Those classes are only useful when you attend these Pureblood functions. I don’t even know why my parents made me do this. They said something about pleasing my grandparents, but I think it’s pointless.”
“I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks so! Dorcas and Marlene both agree with me, but I thought we were the only ones who thought that we are well past the days of conforming to the old Pureblood traditions,” I said with ease. I hadn’t even noticed that the audience had now joined in the dance.
“Well, I suppose the changing attitude is what draws some of the Pureblood families to You-Know-Who,” Xavier replied in a casual tone.
“You-Know-Who?” I asked blankly. “You mean, Voldemort?”
I didn’t miss the small flinch that Xavier gave, but he nodded all the same. “Think about it. He starts recruiting people to follow him by saying that the old traditions must be preserved. That’s why Muggle and Muggleborns are beneath us. It’s because they’re not a part of this sort of society.”
Choosing not to comment on his lack of usage of Voldemort’s name, I said in agreement,” I see your point. I can’t say that I agree with Voldemort’s ways at all, but it makes more sense why people are drawn to him. Muggles and Muggleborns are certainly a perfect scapegoat for them when most of us Wizarding folks are moving to a more modern era.”
“Don’t let them hear you say ‘modern’,” Xavier grinned good naturedly. “They’ll probably have a heart attack.”
I rolled my eyes. “I could care less because it’s true. I’m not sure I’ll subject my own children to participating in this Ceremony when they’re my age, much less the other rubbish they’re saying about marrying only Purebloods.”
“May I cut in?” a voice interrupted the both of us.
I drew my eyes away from Xavier to see the pair of grey eyes that had been gazing at me intently during the Candle Ceremony.
“Sirius!” I said breathlessly.
Xavier let go of me and stepped away courteously. “Of course. Thank you for the dance, Jennifer.”
I inclined my head, refusing to curtsy, and turned to Sirius, who was gazing at me with an unreadable expression. He put one hand around my waist and took my hand into his other, swaying us to the beat of the music.
Suddenly, I was aware of everything from the way his hand around my waist felt to the intensity of his gaze.
“How was your Ceremony?” I murmured, unable to resist filling in the silence. I kept my eyes focused on Sirius’s grey eyes, and noticed the tightening behind them.
“Lousy. Absolutely lousy. My mum was criticizing me for everything, and my father was discussing my future with the other parents,” Sirius replied, his words taking on a distinctive moody tone.
“Any wedding proposals for you?” I asked, half teasing and half serious.
Sirius glanced away from me for the first time. Though his grip on me didn’t tighten, I could feel the tension rolling off of him.
In a desperate attempt to lighten the mood, I joked feebly, “Well, if you need to be married by the time you graduate from Hogwarts, you always got me.”
Sirius didn’t answer, though I didn’t expect him to. I distracted myself by glancing at the other couples dancing. James was now dancing with Olivia Fawley with an unhappy expression.
Olivia Fawley was as different from Xavier as possible, though the two of them were fraternal twins. Whereas Xavier was nice, charming, and an engaging person, Olivia was cold, bitingly sarcastic, and extremely haughty. Her favourite expression to use when describing James and Sirius was “rowdy hooligans with no respect for rules and traditions”.
“My father made a proposition with the Rosiers,” Sirius finally said, cutting into my internal monologue. I snapped my eyes back to him with shock.
“What do you mean?” I frowned, almost not wanting to hear the rest.
“My father wants to ‘court’ Eliana Rosier. Their plan was that if I ‘redeemed’ myself by the time we graduated, then we’ll be formally betrothed. But for all intents and purposes, my parents are acting like we will be married in the future,” Sirius finally said, his voice low. He didn’t look at me as he said this, but I didn’t care.
I felt as if a knife stabbed and twisted itself into my chest. My eyes blinked over and over again, as I tried to focus on Sirius, who had mustered the courage to stare back into my eyes. Neither of us noticed that we had stopped dancing.
There was a rational part of me that reminded my subconscious that it wasn’t Sirius’s decision, yet I couldn’t help the quivering in my voice as I stated, “So you’re going to marry Eliana Rosier then.”
“We’re past the era of arranged marriages right when we graduate from Hogwarts. I have defied my parents before. I’m not scared of doing it again,” Sirius replied firmly as he started to lead me away from the dance floor.
Though his words should have reassured me, I wasn’t feeling any better. When we had left the dance floor, I averted my eyes from Sirius and quickly muttered an excuse before running away back towards the house.
I needed time to calm myself down, and being in the public spotlight wasn’t the place to do so.
I should have realized that Jennifer would have taken the news badly. She hated Eliana Rosier, especially after how she had called Mary Macdonald ‘filth’ during Potions.
I also should have realized that with Jennifer’s dramatic tendencies, she would have held out a grudge regarding this longer than necessary, even if none of it was my fault. As if I want to court a stuck up bird that thinks we’re all beneath her.
What I didn’t realize was that James was going to get crabby with me for upsetting Jennifer. It didn’t help that my temper was also short; an entire rest of the summer being ignored by Jen was an annoyance that I could have done without.
“Mate, did you have to tell her that? I mean, you could have just not told her,” James complained as we rested comfortably in our carriage on the way back to Hogwarts on September 1st. Remus was up in the front, with the rest of the prefects. It was no surprise when he told us he got the badge this past summer.
Peter chimed in, “You realize it’s been an entire summer, and Jennifer’s still not talking to you. ”
I rolled my eyes and resisted the urge to snap at Peter, who did nothing wrong. “Don’t remind me. It’s not like I want to court Rosier. I mean, I had to go see her over the summer because my parents would have disowned me if I didn’t. It wasn’t as if I wanted to.”
“I hate it when the two of you have these rows. I’m always dragged in the middle of it,” James grumbled unhappily as he stretched out his legs in the empty seats next to him.
I sighed irritably. None of it was my fault, but it seemed like everyone was blaming me. In an effort to distract myself, I whipped out the latest edition of the Morning Prophet and began reading.
Nothing was particularly out of the ordinary until a slightly interesting headline grabbed my attention.
“They’re appointing Barty Crouch to the Council of Magical Law since he’s been doing a good job as Head of the Magical Law Enforcement,” I mentioned lightly, anticipating the enjoyable reactions of such a casual remark.
James sat up, all annoyances forgotten, and spilled all of his Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans onto the floor.
I smirked as he whipped out his wand to clean up the mess. In an incredulous voice, James exclaimed, “Barty Crouch?! As a judge in the Council of Magical Law? We might as well throw fair trials out the window!”
“Nah, we might as well throw out trials entirely. I can’t believe they’d even consider appointing him as a judge. He doesn’t have enough on his plate already?” I snorted, rolling up the Prophet and tossing it to James, who caught it easily.
“Maybe they want to squash the rumors that the Minister of Magic is being controlled by You-Know-Who,” Peter said anxiously. I glanced over at him and noticed how unusually excited he was. “Barty Crouch is one of the most anti-Death Eaters Ministry official.”
“Good thinking, Pete, but it doesn’t matter. Barty Crouch is going to control the entire Council, and he shouldn’t be given more power than he already is. I don’t fancy wanting someone like him to be the next Minister of Magic,” James commented as he tossed the paper to Peter. “Dumbledore would never take the job, which is a shame, really.”
“What’s a shame is that Avery and Marcella Selwyn were made prefects,” came Remus’s voice as the compartment door slid open. “Too bad you’re not a prefect, James. Because Lily’s the new Gryffindor prefect.”
I laughed loudly, ignoring a dirty look from James. It would just be his luck that the one innocent opportunity he had to spend time with Evans was given to Remus instead.
“I had a feeling,” James sighed despondently. “Jennifer was smirking at me smugly when I told her that Moony had gotten the position of the new prefect.”
“Is she still ignoring the two of you then?” Remus asked, picking up the abandoned Morning Prophet and perusing through it intently.
My good mood forgotten, I scowled heavily and stretched my legs across the empty space between James and Remus in front of me. “She is acting mental, all because of some stupid decision that my parents made. Did I mention to you that they’re not happy with me because I told them I’m not going to marry Rosier?”
“Yes you did, Padfoot. Many times,” Remus replied, still staring at the Morning Prophet. “They’re making such a mistake by appointing Barty Crouch onto the Council of Magical Law.”
Peter, excited for more discussion, said, “But there’s really no one else that’s better for the job!”
James made a face. The three of them fell into easy discussion over their approved choices of Ministry officials but I stayed silent.
I would never tell anyone, not even James, that Jennifer’s cold shoulder bothered me more than it should. Though I knew none of it was my fault and I would never apologize for something beyond my control, I had the urge to make amends with Jen in a way that I had never wanted to before, except with Remus and the incident with Snivellus.
The thought of caring for Jennifer that much was a scary thought, especially when the world was becoming more and more polarized into either followers of Voldemort or followers of Barty Crouch. The thought that Barty Crouch was the alternative to Voldemort was depressing.
I was snapped out of my thoughts when I heard a loud bang coming from the corridors of the compartment.
Immediately, I whipped out my wand and stood up. Loud noises that were not generated by the four of us usually meant an opportunity for us to show off our skills at magic or they meant someone was in trouble.
James’s eyes sparkled with excitement as Peter quickly slid open the door. Immediately, I saw several beams of light shooting back and forth.
“Excellent! A duel!” James cried excitedly as we bounded out of our compartment.
“And no prefects!” I grinned, forgetting that Remus was technically a prefect.
There were several shouts of confusion coming from passer-by’s and spectators. To my error, Frank Longbottom, who had the Head Boy badge pinned to his robes, had his wand out, trying to disperse the crowd that was gathering. I managed to spot the faces of Alice Whitaker and Emmeline Vance, both with their wands out.
The grin slid off my face, however, when I realized who were duelling each other in the corridor.
A ferocious-looking Jennifer was furiously duelling Eliana Rosier, who had an extremely haughty look on her face that was marred by her poorly concealed effort to try to look as if duelling wasn’t difficult at all.
Jennifer was screaming something indecipherable at Rosier whilst Rosier smirked and let out a laugh that sounded remarkably liked Bellatrix. Dorcas and Lily were tugging at Jennifer with all the her might, but each of the Shield Charms put up by the Gryffindor girls couldn’t withstand the force of both Jennifer and Rosier casting hex after hex.
I felt waves of annoyances roll off of me and I suddenly couldn’t tell who I was angrier at, Jennifer or Eliana. I could feel James next to me casting a nonverbal Shield Charm, and I shouted in the loudest voice I could muster, “STOP IT!”
The crowd silenced almost automatically. James rushed to Jennifer’s side and tried to pull her away to no success.
“Get off me,” Jennifer screeched loudly, clawing at James. Rosier twirled her wand between her fingers, looking rather smug as I spotted other Slytherins standing by her, looking like they’d won the war.
I strode over to Jennifer and with more force than I cared to use on a female, grabbed Jennifer by the wrist and growled. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Oh that’s right. Protect her. Blame me for starting a fight,” Jennifer shrilled in a high-pitched voice. “Heaven knows you can’t get enough of her.”
From the other side of the Shield Charm, Eliana Rosier let out a loud laugh. “Better put a leash on your bitch, Sirius. You never know when you’ll need to put her down.”
Jennifer let out another loud screech and attempted to throw another hex but Remus managed to stop her before she could hit an innocent Second Year who was watching from the side.
With the combined efforts of James, Remus, and a couple of other Gryffindors, Jennifer stalked away as Marlene and Mary trailed after her, leaving Dorcas and Lily behind.
The crowd started to disperse, and it took all that I can to not send a hex towards Snivellus and the rest of the Slytherins. I had my mind on more important matters.
“What happened?” I demanded of Dorcas and Lily, Peter standing by my side.
“The Slytherins popped by our compartment, since Avery and Marcella Selwyn are the new prefects. They made snide comments about your parents making that engagement with Rosier, and Rosier said that Jen was unwanted and unloved because everyone she cared about are leaving her. Jen got riled up and asked what she meant, and Rosier mentioned her parents, and then you…” Dorcas related the story, trailing off by the growing look of fury on my expression.
“They mentioned her parents?” I growled dangerously. I fingered my wand as I mentally went through a list of my best curses to use on them.
Lily sighed exasperatedly. “Black, you didn’t help the matters at all when you started blaming her for starting the fight. I hardly blame her for losing her temper this time.”
“You- You think I would ever- ” I said furiously, nearly at a loss of words at the insinuation. “How dare you, Evans! When Jennifer was the one ignoring me all summer.”
“Well, you didn’t put in that much effort either, did you? Didn’t you stop sending owls after two letters?” Lily replied testily. “Oh, and I forgot. Didn’t you see Rosier several times during the summer as well?”
I wasn’t sure what to say, but I was sure that my angry look expressed all that I needed to. Who was I to know that she wanted me to keep sending letters? Remus had thought that the best way was to let Jennifer cool off and stop bugging her with more letters, and I completely agreed.
And, I wasn’t the one who voted to go on these visiting trips over to the Rosiers’ place. The lot of them talk like I want this engagement to exist. Did they not realize that my ‘betrothal’ meant nothing to me?
“I just can’t believe that you would choose the Slytherins over a friend that has always been looking out for you. And here I thought that perhaps you were different,” Lily said coolly before walking off, dragging Dorcas with her.
It took all that I could to remember that James would kill me if I hexed Evans. With the amount of times I had just held off not hexing other people, my temper must be improving, I thought to myself dryly.
But as I turned away to head back to our compartment with Peter, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Lily Evans had been right: I wasn’t any different than the rest of my family.
Author's Note: It has been ages since I updated, and I apologize! If you are still reading, then I very much appreciate it.
I have always thought that the Pureblood traditions must put a lot of value in marriages. Otherwise, why would Bellatrix Lestrange have married? I can't see her wanting to get married at all. That is why I place such importance in the story with Sirius's engagement.
Book Two will be significantly longer than Book One, but I hope you will all stick with me. Enjoy! :)
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