Chapter 1 : i. the plan [or] five nerds face a life of hedonism
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Dad tells me about the scholarship the night before the notice appears in the Daily Prophet.
“Rosie,” he says in the voice he uses for ideas that almost always turn out badly. “Come here a minute.”
“Have you given any thought to what you’re doing after Hogwarts?”
This isn’t what I was expecting from Dad. “Um, yeah. Teaching, I think. If a position ever opens up at Hogwarts.”
“What would you teach? Potions?”
“If I can. I could do DADA too…depends who retires first.”
Dad nods. “So you’ll be needing to do the teaching course run by the Ministry.”
“What are you getting at?”
“Well,” Dad begins, “There is actually a scholarship available to Hogwarts leavers, your uncle George – ”
“Ronald Weasley!” Mum yells from her office down the hallway. “Don’t you dare!”
I pull a chair forward and sit down. “Go on.”
“Rose, do not listen to your father!”
“It’s the Fred Weasley Memorial Scholarship,” Dad says quickly. “Five thousand Galleons to go towards any internship or training course. There’s one awarded every June, at the end of the Hogwarts school year…I’ve said all I can,” he adds, cutting himself off as Mum appears in the doorway. “Hermione, darling,” he says weakly. “Good…I was just wanting to talk to you about the Higgins case…”
“The Higgins case, of course,” Mum says, raising an eyebrow. “You didn’t say anything about the you know what?”
“Voldemort?” I ask innocently.
“He’s You Know Who,” Dad says absently, and follows Mum out of the room. “Fred Weasley Memorial Scholarship,” he mouths over his shoulder.
It takes approximately twenty minutes after the Prophet is delivered the next morning for my friends to arrive, brushing Floo soot onto the carpet and waving the paper frantically.
“Five thousand Galleons!” Scorpius Malfoy yells, first out of the Floo.
“Scorp. I’m pretty sure your house is literally made of money.”
“So?” Scorpius swipes a hand across his forehead, smearing soot into his messy blond hair. “Do you know what this means? Financial independence. Me ’n Al can get a place. Live like proper students, you know?”
“Malfoy, you better not be here about the scholarship,” Holly Holyoake says. She’s still in her pajamas, a fluffy onesie covered in sheep, and despite the fact that she’s obviously just woken up she manages to step daintily out of the Floo and not get ash everywhere.
“I am, as a matter of fact,” Scorpius says haughtily.
“Rose, Rose, Rose, Rose!” Albus Potter’s voice precedes him, and he launches headfirst into the room with the Classifieds from the Prophet crumpled in his hand.
“Morning,” Scorpius says, kicking him. “Scholarship? You need it about as much as I do, mate.”
“Yeah but – we can get a flat.”
“My thoughts precisely,” he says triumphantly, turning to me.
Last to arrive is Lester Raine, his normally perfect composure gone as he stumbles into my house and thrusts the paper at Holly. “Look at the – the – wait,” he says, frowning at her. “You’re not Rose.”
“Over here,” I say, steering him onto a couch. “I take it we’re all here about the scholarship.”
Four voices begin speaking at once, and I hold up my hands for quiet. Amazingly, it works. I’m going to be a kickass teacher.
“Does anyone actually know the application process?” Lester asks. “Or the criteria?”
“You didn’t read the fine print?” Holly asks.
Blank looks greet her.
“None of you read the fine print?”
We shake our heads.
“‘The successful candidate should epitomise the spirit and character of the late Frederick Weasley,’” Holly reads.
“Oh no,” I whisper.
“Oh God,” Albus mutters.
“‘Candidates will demonstrate this throughout the course of their seventh year,’” Holly continues. “‘The student judged to have spent their final year in the manner most fitting to Fred’s memory will be awarded the full scholarship, valued at five thousand Galleons, to be used for fees and living costs for any internship or Ministry training course.’ What does that mean? The manner most fitting to Fred’s memory?”
“Nothing good,” Albus says grimly.
“There’s smaller print,” Lester announces. “Oh. Ah.” He clears his throat. “Direct quoting here, by the way. Excuse the language….Ahem. ‘Fuck shit up. Don’t get expelled.’”
The longest silence I’ve ever experienced meets his words.
“So we have to…prank?” Albus asks eventually.
“Seems that way.”
It should be pointed out that we, five soon-to-be-seventh-year Ravenclaws, are the least disruptive students Hogwarts has ever seen. We don’t like confrontation, we certainly don’t like being told off by teachers or disappointing our parents. We live our lives bound by rules and regulations even stricter than the Hogwarts Code of Conduct. We get our kicks out of research, discovery, mastery of skills, and we all have massive superiority complexes because of it. We’re okay with the stuck up/elitist/goody-good reputations we have in the eyes of the rest of the school, because we’ve spent six years cultivating those reputations. Those hedonistic Gryffindors can laugh all they want, but at the end of the day we achieve things. Between the five of us we only got two Exceeds Expectations in OWL year – Lester for Herbology and Holly for Astronomy – with everything else Outstanding. Albus and Scorpius have already been contacted by St Mungo’s and have been offered a place in their intern programme next year. Put simply (and very, very modestly) we’re the highest achievers Hogwarts has ever seen.
The Fred Weasley Memorial Scholarship runs so contrary to all our natures that I’m beginning to think it’s a cosmic sign.
“We could,” I begin slowly, watching the faces of my friends, “Team up.”
“Split the 5k, you mean?” Lester asks.
“We could,” Holly echoes. “They can’t expel all five of us.”
“This will take some careful planning,” I say, already warming to the idea. “So that we can still do well in NEWTs…”
“Can we do well in NEWTs though?” Scorpius asks. “Or would that be going against the spirit of Fred Weasley or whatever it said?”
“It’s still a scholarship,” I point out. “It goes towards internships or training courses. You need NEWTs to get into them.”
“Maybe it’s time we…you know. Let go a little,” Holly says. “This could be good for us.”
“Character development?” Scorpius asks scornfully. “Life is not a coming-of-age novel.”
“Anecdotes,” Albus says dreamily. “No longer will I live in the storied shadow of James Sirius Fucking Potter. We’ll be legends. We’ll eclipse him. We’ll eclipse his namesakes. We’ll come out of nowhere to take the prize of eternal shenanigan glory.”
“Eternal shenanigan glory,” Scorpius echoes.
“We need a team name,” Holly says. “We’re a team. A team of – ”
“Team Dragonstone,” Lester says.
“Stop reading Game of Thrones.”
“The Night’s Watch.”
“No Game of Thrones.”
“We are the sword in the darkness – ”
“Dumbledore’s Army,” Albus suggests.
“I think our intentions aren’t quite honourable enough to bear that name,” I point out.
“The Order of the Raven,” Scorpius suggests.
“It’s a tad pretentious,” Lester says. “Perfect.”
“So what do we do first?” I ask, summoning a bit of parchment and a quill. “We should start out small, build up from there – ”
“I know, I know,” Lester says eagerly. “First day, first period – we sleep in. We just…don’t go to class.”
We all stare at him.
“We’re not getting that five thousand,” Albus sighs.
“It could help,” Holly reasons. “Get us into the zone. Rebellion. Give no fucks. It’s a good start, Raine.”
I sigh and write it down.
“Who knows what Fred Weasley actually got up to in his seventh year?” Scorpius asks. “Al. You’d know.”
“He let off fireworks and flew out of the castle on his broom with Uncle George,” Albus replies. “But we actually have to complete the year, so…”
“Most of us can’t even fly, so that’s out of the question.”
“Most of Fred and George’s success came from targeting the most hated teacher in the school,” I point out. “Who’s our Dolores Umbridge?”
“The fuck is Dolores Umbridge?” Holly asks bluntly.
“A particularly nasty teacher when our parents were at Hogwarts,” I explain, waving my hand to encompass Albus and Scorpius. “I don’t think we have an equivalent…unless you count old Filch.”
“Filch is older than the castle itself,” Scorpius points out. “Picking on a doddering elderly man seems more cruel than funny.”
“Who are we advocating for here?” Albus asks, taking the parchment from me and leaning forward. “The average student? The everyday Hogwartian? Do we target his enemies? Do we target everyone but ourselves?”
“I think the average student is a good start,” Holly agrees. “Who does the average student want to see get their comeuppance?”
This time the silence is fraught with tension, and everyone exchanges glances to silently ascertain whether we’re all on the same page. We are.
“Us,” I say.
Disclaimer: Game of Thrones/ASOIAF belong to HBO/George RR Martin respectively. The line "I am the sword in the darkness" is taken from George RR Martin, A Game of Thrones, page 504.
All graphics are mine unless stated otherwise (a full list of credits can be found in my TDA gallery - I'm Ravenclaw333 there too)
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