Chapter 3 : Alert Bubbles.
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Fantastic Chapter Image by Kirjava@TDA!
Once to the Great Hall, we all disperse to our respective tables, and first years conglomerate at the front near the platform where the professors eat. There’s a stool placed in the center where the podium would be, and on that podium is the Sorting Hat, its fabric expression looking smug as ever.
Chandeliers seem to hang from nothing as the ceiling has been bewitched to look like the night sky, just as it is at the start of every year. The chandeliers are donned with banners of whichever house they happen to hang above. The tablecloths are our house colours, and corresponding centerpieces are placed every couple feet or so. Each house has their own specifically designed centerpiece. The ones at the Gryffindor table are elaborate scarlet vases with cattail plants painted a glittering gold popping out of them. Around the vase is tied a gold ribbon with a small pendant with the crest of Gryffindor shining proudly.
Every year they do something different for table decorum and this may be one of my favourites. Though, the Hufflepuff table has sunflowers and daisies in stout little yellow-tinted mason jars. Theirs would have to be my runner-up for best table setting.
Eventually, Headmistress Lewlits stands and begins the start of the year announcements. Headmistress Lewlits is a short, slightly rounder woman in her 60s. She nearly always wears a smile and has a constant atmosphere of warmth about her. One shouldn’t let that fool them into think she’s less-than-capable in the face of trouble, however, as I’ve never seen her hesitate in serious situations. She’s a former Ravenclaw, a bloody brilliant mind, and has made several positive academic advances for Hogwarts since she became Headmistress only a couple of years before I started.
First year after first year gets picked off, a surprising lot of them joining Hufflepuff.
“Seems we’ve got a bunch of lazy arses this year, don’t we?” James jokes.
Rose scowls, “I’m sure Teddy, Victoire, and Roxanne will all appreciate that.”
James wrinkles up his face and sticks out his tongue, the seventeen-year-old momentarily resembling an over-grown child. “Tell them and see what happens.”
She rolls her eyes at him, returning her attention to Headmistress Lewlits. It’s not that she’s afraid of what he might do, her annoyance with him is just gradually heightening.
The sorting finishes and the feast magically appears on the tables, causing an uproar of both surprise from first years and hungry excitement from the rest of us. We all dig in… especially James who eats uncannily like his uncle Ron.
A Slytherin girl, whose name I think is Patty Ribdon, walks passed James and “casually” places a small slip of paper in front of him. She doesn’t say anything, just continues walking. James smirks and waggles his eyebrows at us.
“I’m tellin’ ya,” His mouth is full of smashed potatoes, “It’s day one and I’m already getting love letters!”
Rose leans over to inspect the note, “James it’s just—“
“Don’t read my love letter!”
“I’m pretty sure she’s a lesbian,” Fred remarks. We all jump. He had, at some point, come to join us, but somehow we hadn’t noticed. Regarding the fact he’s George Weasley’s son, he probably apparated instead of walking just the few feet it would have taken to get to us.
I snort and spit my pumpkin juice back into my cup, “Well then, I suppose it’s not a love letter, now is it?!”
James’s cheeks turn pink and he looks defeated, “Fine, it’s just an invitation to a party.”
Fred beams, “More like it, mate. Besides, I got one too. Except mine….” He produces his note out of his robe pocket and waves it in James’s face. “Is, in fact, a love letter!”
“You said she was a lesbian!” James snatches the note from Fred. “You’ve been personally invited to a Start of the Year Bash tonight in the Room of Requirements. Don’t bring a date. Xoxo, Patty Dibbins.”
“Dibbins!” I exclaim, “That’s her name. I thought it Ribdon. Where’d I even get that name? Is that— Oh. Sorry.”
James’s glare shuts me up quickly. “It’s even got a little kiss on here! How come mine wasn’t all cute and lovey?!” He turns it and displays it for the few of us to see, very similar to that of a grade school teacher (or Hermione) showing the pictures of a book during story time.
Fred squeezes to sit in between Rose and James, “Well, I
assume it’s because I happen to know my way with the ladies a little better than you do.”
“Oh, piss off!” James is taking this ridiculously hard. His usual mischievous expression now fallen and scowling, “Let’s make it a bet, then!”
His cousin rubs his hands together excitedly, “Ooooh, I do love a good bet!”
“Let's see,” James muses, “Who can kiss the most girls tonight.”
“James!” Rose whips her head around to face the two, “Don’t you dare! Do you know how unbelievably horrid that is?!”
Fred waves his hand dismissively at her, “Deal!”
“There’s a point system.” James has gone back to eating as he talks, “Three points for any girl that kisses back, two for leaving a girl dumbstruck, and one if we get slapped.”
Fred looks overjoyed at the concept, “I love it mate. We’ll be drinking though, what if we lose count?”
James chews, puzzled for a moment. Then his eyes light up and he looks at me, “Freyaaaa?” His voice sounds how I imagine children ask their parents for toys.
My eyes go wide with surprise. This can’t be good. “Yes…?”
Rose is on high-alert now too. “Don’t do it, it’s a trap!” She hisses.
Fred elbows Rose gently in the side. Still she shrieks and glares indignantly at him. “Freya, come be our point-taker tonight?”
My stomach turns with a mix of excitement and terror, like the butterflies inside are being chased by crows. My first order of fun had originally been to make Oliver Wood fall in love with me (or something along those lines), and I had imagined going to a party as my second order of business… but now they seem to have switched.
Before I can ponder anymore, impulse takes over and I—almost too readily—shout, “I’ll do it!”
Rose’s jaw drops as she stares at me. There’s an offended nature about her response.
James and Fred cheer and practically climb across the table to pat my shoulders and ruffle my hair.
“Wear something exciting,” James says while shoveling the last bit of food on his plate into his mouth.
“Yeah,” Fred nods, “You might find yourself a bloke to snog!”
I take slight offense to the might in that sentence, but they’ve just invited me to my first party at Hogwarts, so I let it slide. Point-keeper or not, this was going to be amazing. Oliver may even be there and I’ll be able to hit two hippogriffs with one stone.
“Bring a quill and some parchment!” James shouts when I stand to go.
Before leaving, I risk a glance at the Professors’ table. Dad is talking with Headmistress Lewlits and the conversation looks significantly boring.
Sorry, Dad, but I’m about to go have the time of my life.
With that, Rose and I make our way to the dorms.
As soon as we’re in the quieter halls, Rose immediately starts on a tangent, admonishing me for agreeing to such a thing and warning me of the consequences.
“Rose,” I stop before we enter through the Fat Lady’s portrait. “I have to do this.”
“No, you don’t,” She pleads, “Their idea is stupid and demeaning and you don’t have to succumb to that stupidity.”
“I mean,” I say, exasperated with the spiel. “I want to do this. You and I both know we have a dark cloud of high-expectations following us around. They expect you to be like your mum, and me to be like my dad. Our parents and even others rely on us to be well-behaved, make good marks, to never step out of line. We’ve done that for so long, too afraid to have fun on the side. Don’t you want to have at least one night to just… let go?”
Rose blinks at me, processing my reasoning. After a long silence she turns to the portrait and mutters, “Billywig.”
The Fat Lady chuckles, “I do love that word. Also, I’m with your friend. It’s the first day back! Go have fun!” The portrait then swings open.
We go through and Rose stops me at the bottom of the stairs to our dorms. “Fine… you should go.”
I had planned on it anyway, but it felt a smidgeon better having my best friend’s approval.
“But,” She continues. “You’re not going without me.”
I can’t help but smile and fling my arms around her in a bear hug. She laughs and hugs me back.
“Now, let’s go change into something ‘exciting.’” Her voice went extra-pretentious on the last word, likely to mock her cousin. “Oliver Wood might be there.”
“Wait, how did you--?”
“I saw you staring at him today when we got here. I’m not blind, you know.” She smirks playfully and for a moment I can undoubtedly tell she is related to James Potter.
My cheeks tingle and burn with the same blush I felt when Oliver had come to my “rescue” on the train and we had held eye contact for a too-brief moment.
“It’s really nothing, I just—“
“Oooh, come on, let’s go get ready!” With that, she drags me as I half-limp up the stairs to our rooms.
It takes us a near hour, as all of our belongings are still packed and some things in serious need of an anti-wrinkle charm. But once I put on my boots—the more comfy ones as to not completely murder my foot—and Rose curls her last eyelash, I decide we look pretty damn amazing.
“I mean, we’re no Victoire Weasley,” Rose tosses her red waves over her shoulders and smiles at her reflection. “But I say we don’t look half-bad.”
No one is a Victoire Weasley. Or Dominique Weasley, for that matter. Being one-eighth Veela has made the both of them enviously stunning. Victoire pursued fashion and owns three boutiques, so even her pajamas look runway ready. Dominique, who is studying Dragonology with Charlie, somehow manages to never look affected by nearly constant work outdoors, and her heavy work clothes seem still well-fit and cute.
I giggle, “For girls who practically never do our makeup or pick out more than casual clothes… I’m rather impressed too.”
Rose is in fitted jeans and cute black ankle boots. She has on a black tank top and a black and white plaid flannel over it. I have on dark blue skinny jeans with my black boots that cut off right under the knee. My shirt is a stylishly slouchy emerald green sweater that accents my dark auburn hair perfectly.
“This is our very first party, Rose!” I grab her hands and we squeal like little girls.
Rose’s earlier hesitation seems to be gone now, “Are we going to drink?!”
I shrug, “It’s possible, but, then again, apparently I have a job to do.”
She laughs, “Oh forget that, we’re going to have fun. It’s our first day, like the Fat Lady said. We don’t have any homework, so let’s just go and like you said, ‘let go.’”
“I do believe I’ve created a monster.” I tease.
“It’s only one night, right?” She straightens back her shoulders confidently. There's an odd, wild gleam in her eyes that I rarely ever see. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but… what can one night hurt?”
I grab a handheld notebook and quill from my trunk, per James’s request, and we excitedly make our way to the common room to meet Fred and James.
They, too, look handsome and party ready in jeans and nice-fitting shirts. James is wearing a sweater-material cardigan over his dark grey shirt, and I have to push back the idea of him making me swoon. Fred has on an equally swoon-worthy blue button down.
“I have a rule,” I blurt out, “I’m off limits in this. Neither of you is kissing me. Besides, you don’t have a point allotment for getting your pants hexed off of you, which is definitely what will happen if you try. Deal?”
They look at each other and then at me, almost matching smirks on their lips.
“Errrr… we sort of decided you’d be the tie-breaker if we have the same total of points….”
“And we can’t very well kiss Rosie,” Fred shrugs. Rose wrinkles her nose in disgust of the thought.
I have to take a breath in order to not hex them in advance. “Well, we’ll just have to see to it that you arseholes don’t tie.”
Rose and I walk arm-in-arm behind James and Fred as they lead us to the Room of Requirement. After three paces in front of the blank space of wall, a wooden door appears. Carl Flint, a particularly large fellow with a less-than-intelligent look to him, opens the door. Loud music is suddenly heard and a few flashing lights are seen past Flint’s head. He takes one bored look at us and moves out of the way to let us in.
It’s dark in the room, aside from an enormous chandelier spinning and emitting random bursts of different coloured lights. One corner has a circle of mismatched sofas, and a couple already snogging in one. Another sofa is occupied by three students smoking something I can guarantee is not a cigarette. There’s a stretched bar with kegs set up, options being stouts, ales, and Butterbeer. I can see bottles of Firewhiskey and other selective liquors on a shelf behind the bar. Witches and Wizards are already crowding that area, getting their choice of poison.
The rest of the room is a dance floor. There’s no DJ, but a sound system playing actually really good dance music. I’m not one for rave-type music, but the beats are infectious and make me want to dance. I wonder for a moment if the system has been bewitched to make the audience feel carefree and dance-y.
It’s hard to see around the room, but I can already tell that Oliver is not there. I do spot Albus and Scorpius at the bar, talking and laughing with two Slytherin girls. Albus looks jaw-droppingly good. His black hair is strategically mussed and he’s wearing a green t-shirt similar to the colour of my sweater. I can only imagine how well it brings out his green eyes. His jeans fit snug and I can’t exactly complain about how they make his bum look.
Scorpius looks just as great in his jeans and black collared button-down. I spot Rose looking at him, and I smile to myself, but don’t point out that I noticed.
“We’re about to go in for the kill!” James half-screams into my ear. It’s loud in there, but I could hear a lot better than he obviously assumed. “We’ll use a bubble charm and shoot up bubbles where we are so you can spot us.”
“Am I really expected to watch only you two all night?!” I yell back, just as loudly so he’ll hopefully get the idea to not yell as much.
James laughs as if I’m kidding, nudges me with his elbow, and goes back to Fred’s side. “Ready!”
“Steady!” Says Fred.
“GO!” They high-five and yell, and I expect them to race in different directions to find their first victim. Instead, they dart simultaneously for the bar.
I roll my eyes, a little disheartened at Oliver’s absence.
Rose and I, too, head for the bar, but only for the tall barstools, so we can see better through the crowds.
“Well,” Rose leans back boredly against the bar, “This is already turning into a loooong night….”
“No kidding.” I watch as people dance against each other and drunk people spill drinks on themselves or someone near them. Maybe parties aren’t so fun after all…. At least, not when you have a ‘job’ to do.
And then I see it.
No, not Oliver Wood walking through the door….
My first string of alert bubbles.
This was just sort of a fun little chapter that I particularly enjoyed writing! The next one should be even more fun and excitement and maybe even a little trouble! Dun Dun Dunnnnnn.
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