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Chapter 9 : How to make friends
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My first class Monday morning was free. So I skipped breakfast to go to the library. There wasn’t anything left to check that would help me with figuring out what was going on with Charles; I had been through all the Daily Prophet issues from as far back as four months ago. So I started on essays due for the next week. If I was being honest with myself, I just wasn’t up for facing anyone yet. Aaron was on top of that list (but probably still in the hospital wing). Albus Potter might try to find out what had happened. Dom would glare or ignore me and I wasn’t sure which would be worse.
And James… Well, I didn’t want to think about James.
So, like the good student that I am, I decided to go research the effects of Wormwood on the Draught of the Living Dead.
It wasn’t particularly difficult; I was always good at Potions. I was done with it just as the bell sounded for the first class to begin. I sat back and stared at my finished essay. It made me wonder what in the name of Merlin was wrong with me.
I’d been in this school almost two months and there were already parts of me that I didn’t recognize. Thinking constantly about Charles and his work was the biggest change, but that could be attributed to the fact that back home all he did was sit behind a desk and sign stuff (or at least that’s what I thought he did). It was also a little off that I only had one friend. Don’t get me wrong, I love Fitz, but in Beauxbatons there wasn’t a moment when I was alone; not even when I was sitting in the library writing an essay.
It felt like that was so long ago. Maybe it was because neither Bridgette nor Henri had written me back for almost a three week. I understood why. I mean, I hadn’t exactly been sitting and twiddling my thumbs either; they were busy, so was I. But something was off. If not Henri, I at least expected to hear from Bridgette. Pushing the sense of unease to the back of my mine, I turned and looked out the window. The Hogwarts grounds were beautiful and stretched out as far as the eye could see. The castle was exciting, with its secret passages and suits of armor that sometimes spouted words when you walked by them. It all could have been a hundred times worse. I liked Hogwarts, I really did. It’s just… I missed home. I missed my friends and my school. I missed the uniform and the teachers. Hell, I even missed the language.
Charles had never really taken to it. His own parents had been French, but he had been raised in England and had gone to Hogwarts. He’d met my mother and married her after the war. They’d moved to France during the aftermath of it and Charles had decided to stay after she bailed out on us.
And now he’d moved us back, it seemed, to pick up where he’d left off; working with other Hit Wizards to fight something. It scared me more than anything ever had. It wasn’t a shock of fear; it was a sense of something creeping up on me slowly and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it. No amount of pouring over newspapers, freaking out at Fitz or writing letters to Charles could put a lid on the dread that was slowly reaching every part of me. I was stuck in this castle while Charles did whatever he wanted outside of it.
I took another deep breath and closed my eyes, willing the uneasy feeling in my stomach to go away.
My eyes flew open at the soft voice. I blinked in surprise at Andrea Crenshaw.
“Hi?” I don’t know what it came out as a question.
“That seat taken?” she asked, gesturing to the chair opposite me. I shook my head and motioned for her to sit down. Neither of us said anything for a long time.
“Where’s Fitz?” she asked finally. I just shrugged. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone. Plus, she reminded me of James and Albus, and that really wasn’t helping her case.
“Looks like we both had the same idea, then,” she took another shot at conversation. I just blinked at her.
“Hiding out in the library,” she explained.
“Marley, who in their right mind goes to the library instead of breakfast?”
I snorted at that. She was right. I looked at her for a long minute. Andrea was definitely pretty. Actually, she had the bombshell thing going for her; sexily tousled dark hair, clouded blue eyes and puckered lips.
“Will I find out why you’re here by nightfall on my own?”I said lightly. Andrea smiled bitterly.
“Oh, the joys of the rumor mill.”
“I’m so done with it,” she rolled her eyes.
“Can’t be worse than having to avoid about four people at the same time,” I tried to sound encouraging and she sighed almost wishfully.
“I wish it was only four people. I have the whole student body and probably half the teachers to hide from.”
“Did you murder someone or something?” I narrowed my eyes playfully. She rested her face in her hand and blew a strand of hair out of her eye.
“Far worse than that; I’m the school slut.”
That confused me because I’d seen her snogging James’s face off a few days ago.
“Aren’t you with Potter?”
We just looked at each other for a moment and then burst out laughing. I knew she didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but I liked her sense of humor; it was dry and she used it to laugh at things that sucked.
I could roll with that.
“But it’s supposed to be Halloween,” I complained to Fitz.
“I didn’t make the rules.”
“But I wanted to be the Giant Squid.”
“Wear a grey dress then.”
“But it won’t be the same.”
“Then go as the Giant Squid.”
“Everyone will stare at me.”
“Everyone will stare at you anyway.”
“BELGARDE, FITZROY, I SWEAR TO MERLIN IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU TWO TO SHUT IT ONE MORE TIME I WILL HEX YOU,” Professor Lupin yelled. He hadn’t grown a pair yet, so he was still afraid to give us detention from fear that we’d tell a teacher he told James how to get into the girls’ dorms. He was an idiot, but it worked in our favor.
“Are you threatening us with violence, Professor?” I asked with wide eyes. He turned red.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, Ness, but isn’t that illegal?” Fitz asked with mock curiosity. Merlin, I love this boy.
“Yes, Fitzroy, I believe it is,” I nodded vigorously.
“It is as illegal as telling a student how to get into-“
He looked like his head might explode. I felt a little bad for him and considered laying off of him for a bit. Then I remembered that I had to find a way around my Giant Squid costume problem and started annoying Fitz again.
It was Halloween come Monday, and the Head Boy and Girl had somehow convinced the Headmaster to allow them to throw a formal Halloween party. I thought the idea was pretty stupid seeing as there’d probably be an illicit one in the Room of Requirement anyway. But then again, considering the fact that they were the Head Boy and Girl, they probably didn’t even know that there were such parties and thought that they were doing the student body some good. In that case, bless them and all their good intentions.
There would be teachers there of course, and some band that I’d ever heard of. But for whatever reason everyone was excited about it. All the girls were squealing and the guys were being all gentlemanly and formally asking for a date. It was hilarious, seeing as these were the same people who snogged in dark corners and danced uncomfortably close to each other at Leroy’s birthday party. I guess I understood though; this was out in the open and all classy so everyone wanted to clean up and be posh.
I, on the other hand, just wanted to be the Giant Squid.
“Maybe if I staged a protest they’ll let us wear costumes,” I said brightly. We were walking to lunch and Fitz was rummaging his bag for his newspaper. I’d already read because I wasn’t weird and the smell of bacon and newspapers together wasn’t a problem for me.
“If they let us wear costumes Professor Slughorn would have a heart attack from regarding the female form for the first time in his life.”
“That’s a really messed up was of putting it, Fitz,” I told him knowledgably. He rolled his eyes at me as we entered the Great Hall. No one turned to look because they’d gotten used to the idea that neither James nor I were inclined to prank each other anymore; James because his mother would flip her shit, and me because Charles is a worrying fool and I needed as much sleep as I could get.
We sat down and he started reading while I piled food on my plate. I wasn’t sure when I noticed that everyone had gone quiet, but when I did my heart involuntarily lunged and I assumed it had something to do with me. However, when I looked up all heads were turned to one of three place; towards the Slytherin table towards Albus, the Gryffindor one towards James or to the door of the Great Hall through which Andrea had just walked in.
I saw a blush start to make its way to her cheeks as she wrapped her arms around herself. Her eyes scanned the hall and they landed on me. Then, in a flash of dark hair, she had turned around and walked out the way she came. Almost immediately, the Hall broke into whispers.
“-such a slag-“
“-does she think she is?”
“You don’t mess with the Potter boys.”
“Just because she’s pretty-“
I looked at Fitz and wasn’t even a little surprised that he was still reading his newspaper through all of this. I reached out and grabbed it out of his hands.
“What’s happening?” I asked, gesturing to everyone whispering around us.
“How should I know? Gimme my paper.”
I held it out of his reach.
“What did Andrea do?” I demanded.
“Nothing really,” he shrugged. “Albus likes her; she snogged James. The people are appalled.”
While I was processing this Fitz grabbed his paper back.
“But she didn’t even do anything wrong,” I pointed out. Fitz sighed and put his paper down.
“Stop being a troll, Ness. This is Hogwarts. You don’t mess with the kids of war heroes. Especially the Potters. You of all people should know that.”
My gaze swept along the still whispering student and met hazel eyes. He was pushing his long, dark hair out of his face and looking at me with an expression I couldn’t quite read. Subtly, he inclined his head towards the door Andrea had just run out of, and somehow I knew what he was asking.
It wasn’t her fault; it was his and he knew it. But he couldn’t go after her since it would only get worse for her.
Just stay out of everybody’s business, Dom’s words rung in my head.
James was getting fidgety by now; he must have seen the hesitation on my face. This had nothing to do with me. This was James’s problem to fix, but Andrea was caught in the middle of it and I knew that if I didn’t go after her, no one would. I was also sure as Hell that if it was me in her shoes, it would be nice to know that someone cared. There was also the fact that a few weeks ago I’d been in her place and I knew I would’ve had a mental breakdown or something if it wasn’t for Fitz.
Without another moment of hesitation, I got up and grabbed my bag.
“Steal me some chicken, yeah?”I said to Fitz.
“Where you going?” he asked with only half interest as his eyes scanned the paper.
I heard her before I saw her. The sobs were so soft that I almost missed them. If it hadn’t been lunch time and the library I was certain I would have.
She was at the very end, near the Restricted Section. Her back was against the wall and she was sitting on the floor, bag carelessly tossed aside. I sat down cross-legged next to her and said nothing. We probably sat like that; me looking at the chair in front of me, her sobbing quietly next to me, for about ten minutes until she finally spoke.
“You didn’t have to,” she said hoarsely.
She sighed and wiped her cheeks.
“This is so stupid.”
“You’re telling me. They thought I was a ninja assassin. And insane,” I said lightly.
“What you did was pretty ninja assassin-like,” she said and there was a small smile on her face.
“I just snuck into a dorm. Plus, a Potter was involved. Therefore it had to be exaggerated,” I said, a little annoyed. When she didn’t say anything back I continued.
“It really isn’t that bad. Just because they think something doesn’t make it true. And honestly, you shouldn’t care what a bunch of people you don’t know think; especially when they are so far gone with worshipping the ground the Potters walk on.”
“They all think I’m a tramp, Marley. They hate me.”
“They’re just angry you got some of that fine piece of arse.” It was true… even though I’d never say it to James’s face. But it did the trick and Andrea smiled a little.
“It isn’t your fault Albus has a thing for you.”
“I didn’t even know. Plus, James would never think of me as anything other than a quick snog anyway. It didn’t mean anything,” she said. I heard something in her voice that made my heart hurt.
I wanted to get those two boys in a room and beat them bloody. They were so immature and had their heads stuck so far up their arses, and Andrea was suffering for it.
“You know what? Screw them,” I said defiantly. I wasn’t done dealing with them but she didn’t need to sit there and keep thinking about it. I grabbed my bag and dug through it until I found my stash of liquorice wands. I grinned triumphantly and popped the wrapper.
“What’re you doing?” she sniffed.
“We are going to eat candy for lunch and talk about what we’re going to wear to this Halloween farce.”
The smile she gave me was so filled with relief and gratitude I wanted to hug her. As of that moment I decided to be Andrea Crenshaw’s friend. It was therefore my duty to sit and stuff my face with sweets on the floor of the library with her.
This was also good for the Potters concerned. It gave them time to live with all their limbs until they found out exactly what it meant to piss off a redhead.
A/N: Hiiii! *waves*
I know, I know. It's been two weeks. I also don't have any excuses becasue I feel like y'all get that I'm useless at this updating thing. If you don't, I woud like to say sorry and I swear that I feel horribly about it since you take the time to read this. It makes me happy inside becasue I feel like we're friends.
So... leave a review? They make my day! :)
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