Chapter 1 : In Which It Probably Wasn't My Fault
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Btw, we all know that Queen Rowling owns Harry Potter and everything you recognize, and I, unfortunately, am not the Queen...
In Which It Probably Wasn't My Fault
It was a Tuesday, I was in my fifth year, the sky was overcast, and I'd been in that god-forsaken class for less than fifteen minutes and was ready to stab someone in the eye with a quill.
At the rate class was going, I'm willing to bet that I could've pleaded insanity for anything that happened after the thirteen minute mark, too.
More to the point, I was failing Potions Class. Well, technically, I was probably doing about averagely in Potions, but Merlin knows average is never what parents like to see, so I'd been working my arse off the entire week to bring up my grade. After a couple attempts at bribery and a lot of pestering, I'd eventually gotten Professor Griffiths (who was an old, rather unfortunately balding man who seemed to enjoy failing his students) to agree to let me brew a Strengthening Solution for extra credit.
It'd been brewing for a couple days, and I was close enough to being done that I actually started to get optimistic. In hindsight, I probably should've known that optimism never bodes well.
"You know, I think this thing'll be done by dinner time," I beamed and nudged Tara Hayward, who up until then had been exasperatedly ignoring my commentary.
Tara was insane enough to be one of my best mates and unfortunate enough to be my potions partner, and I honestly wasn't sure how our friendship had survived the partnership.
Tara looked up briefly and sighed."Charlie." She paused long enough to quirk an eyebrow at my appearance, justifiably. My cheeks were alarmingly red from the heat of the cauldron and I'm fairly certain that I'd managed to singe some of my hair somewhere along the way, but I didn't let the fact that I looked like a troll detract from my pride.
After taking a moment to absorb all of this (and probably also to establish that I wasn't on fire again), Tara sighed. "You've been saying that since yesterday morning."
"Have not," I denied. She was right, of course, but I didn't have to admit it. I was met only with a slightly more exasperated eye-roll. "Anyway, all I've actually got left to add is the powdered Griffin Claw, so I'd say I'm justified this time," I persisted.
Bailey Jennings (another member of our group of Gryffindor misfits) was the only one to grace me with a response. When she did, she wore a slight smirk. "You mean the powdered Griffin Claw that Fred used the last of yesterday?"
I swore. "Never liked that bloke," I muttered, which wasn't necessarily true, but I also didn't have a strong opinion to the contrary.
Bailey noticed and shook her head with a laugh. "There's more in the supply closet."
I was already out the door as I called back a quick "Thanks!" and rushed to grab the necessary supplies. I did manage to do it without causing much harm, although I had a feeling our year would later receive a lecture on the spilled frog entrails... Still, there were no fatalities, so I counted it as an unqualified success.
I should have known something was off when I returned and Sean Finnigan casted a wary glance toward my empty seat and moved slightly farther away, but I'd be the first to admit that my skills of deduction are... Dismal at best.
In case anyone was left wondering where this was going, I'll say that it certainly didn't end well.
I sprinkled the powder into the cauldron somewhat clumsily but with an air of satisfaction. The mixture promptly bubbled a bit, turned a sick greenish color...
And exploded in my face.
The next minute was a bit of a blur, but I do recall a vaguely hearing mingled laughter and shouts from my classmates and being lead somewhat roughly out of the classroom by one rather irritated Professor Griffiths.
Of course, this was after I saw James Potter smirk and hold up a pomegranate seed.
It was only the second time that week that I had to weigh the disadvantages of completing the rest of my schooling from inside the walls of Azkaban.
. . .
"Where is he?" I hissed to Tara as soon as I caught up with her in the rush to the Great Hall for breakfast the following day. I vaguely wondered where the rest of my dormmates were, but I supposed that they would've been in no hurry to eat, since they didn't have me to spur them towards the food.
Tara glanced my way as we continued struggling our way through the Hall. "I think that telling you could get me charged with involuntary manslaughter, so no can do," She told me with genuine regret in her eyes.
I had to forgo a response when I nearly tripped over a first year, but managed to mutter something along the lines of, "Fine, I'll find him on my own, then," before stalking off to the Gryffindor table.
I spotted the obnoxious group of fifth year boys fairly quickly, sitting in their usual spots at the Gryffindor table. There looked to be some sort of chugging competition going on between Fred and Sean, and judging by their faces, I could only hope to never find out exactly what was in the chalices.
Ignoring Tara's warning glance, I stormed over, slammed my rucksack on the table, and sat down. The boys each sported expressions of varying amusement, and I narrowed my eyes at them.
Sean was the first to speak. "So... to what to we owe the pleasure, Simmons?" He asked, not trying particularly hard to mask the laughter in his voice.
A few students from surrounding areas of the table looked on in interest. I ignored Sean and turned my glare to Potter, who met my eye cooly and smirked.
"Yeah, where've you been all day?"
"Did you really just ask me where I've been? You actually - Merlin, you're thick." I nearly gaped at Potter, at the bloody audacity and clear death wish the statement conveyed, and I leaned across the table towards him as I continued my tirade. "As you bloody well know, I've been in the Hospital Wing for the past five hours getting green slime removed from my eyes, so I hope you're pleased with yourself!"
I never said I was eloquent, but I happen to be quite fluent in profanity.
James' smirk never wavered under my glare, except for a slight wince at the volume of my outburst. "You know, I've heard that salamander blood does wonders for your complexion," he said graciously.
Now, I never claimed to be entirely stable either, and even I'm not quite certain what happened next, but I do know that I said something along the lines of "Well, I've heard that oatmeal does, too," and suddenly Potter's face was smashed into his bowl of oatmeal, his friends were staring at me as if I were bonkers, and I was standing up and getting ready to leave.
I almost walked away from it, too, having gotten what I came for.
And then there was a piece of jelly toast stuck to the back of my robes, and letting it go really wasn't an option anymore.
He'd certainly deny this if questioned, but I'm about eighty five per cent sure that it was Fred who threw the first pumpkin pasty, and from there chaos ensued. There were quite a few shouts of "FOOD FIGHT!" from the students at the Gryffindor table, and from there house rivalries ensured that food was thrown toward the Slytherins.
I'd found my mates somewhere in the chaos, and we took shelter behind an overturned table.
I hurled biscuits over the side of the table toward the Ravenclaws as I dodged a half-eaten apple, and Bailey had to stop me from chucking a goblet at James, who stood on one of the benches lobbing biscuits at people. I had just gotten a tray of rolls dumped down my robes when a striking red light filled the sky and a terrible screeching sound filled the Great Hall.
"That is ENOUGH!" Yelled the Headmistress, Professor McGonagall, still holding her wand.
Merlin, that woman may have been be old, but she could be quite scary whenever necessary.
The effect was so immediate and efficient that it was almost unsettling. A final glob of something flew through the air and a tray clattered, and then there was silence. Students did their best to duck down to avoid meeting the Headmistress's eye, and I was left holding a pumpkin pastie in my hand, poised to throw.
I got the feeling I wouldn't be able to talk myself out of that one.
. . .
Seven minutes, four futile escape attempts, and a heart-stopping glare later, I found myself in the Headmistress's office.
Strawberry jam splattered the side of my face, orange juice dripped from my robes, and scrambled eggs clung to my mess of hair. My hands were covered in a sticky goo of unknown origins, and pumpkin juice oozed from my left shoe. I'm sure it would've made wonderful picture, if the intention was to scare children with it. (As it was, I was just glad Bailey hadn't managed to take a picture as everything unfolded - I'd never live that down.)
Minerva McGonagall surveyed me with eyes so narrow I almost held out hope she couldn't see me, and I shifted uncomfortably on my feet.
My shoe squelched.
Sometimes one reaches a point in his or her life that they have to look around, see what it's come to, and wonder how the bloody hell they got there.
I was experiencing one of those moments.
"Miss Simmons," The Headmistress said with a glare so disappointed it felt like it burned me, "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I'm... Er... " Was there a right thing to say? "I'm really sorry, Professor..."
McGonagall barely acknowledged me. She turned her icy gaze to Potter. "And Mister Potter?"
With her attention focused on him, I felt tempted to check for holes burned into me by her eyes.
"Erm.. Same, I guess," James muttered, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly.
Much to my satisfaction, he hadn't escaped the food massacre unscathed; his face was smeared with marmalade, which contrasted quite scarily with his hazel eyes, and remnants of oatmeal still clung to his cheek. His brown hair was plastered to his forehead from what might have been milk, though by that point I wasn't sure I wanted to know.
Professor McGonagall regarded us both coldly. I fidgeted under her gaze, toying with my hair in a pointless attempt to pick the egg out of it.
I shifted and sighed after the silence started to physically hurt. "So... Detention?"
McGonagall nodded tersely. "Two weeks of detention, and no leaving the castle outside of classes. Meet Professor Chambers tomorrow to clean the trophies." She gave us both measured gazes and then turned away briskly. "You may go."
James' eyes widened. "But we scrimmage Slytherin next wee-" He started to protest.
"Mister Potter, you have received your retribution, and unless you wish to make it worse, you may go. Am I clear?"
James sighed. "Crystal."
I wanted to be feel bad, but it was James Potter; I figured he'd find a way to live without Quidditch for two weeks. Then, I was barely holding it together whenever someone asked me why I didn't play anymore, so I supposed melodrama was a Quidditch staple.
We left the room in silence, and it was only then that I realized that my hands had been shaking. Merlin, that woman was scary. I watched Potter closely after we made it into the hallway, trying to gauge his reaction.
It wasn't good.
"You," He hissed suddenly, making me jump back, "Are the reason we're going to lose the first match."
I'd never admit it, but the noise I made in response was somewhere between a shriek and a scoff. "I'm sorry that you think you're that important to the team, but the lions were going to lose with or without you," I snapped.
"I could say the same for you this year," Potter countered as he crossed his arms. "Do you even regret costing us the match, or was this some sort of 'If I don't get to play then you don't' shit?"
He was, of course, referring to the fact that I wasn't even on the bloody team that year, due to... Unfortunate circumstances.
I rolled my eyes at him. "Firstly, that's still not my fault, and secondly, you're not even missing an actual bloody match! Save the bitching until after we've lost the Cup, and I'll save the regret."
I steeled myself to meet his gaze only to find that the signature James Potter smirk had made its way back onto his face, as insufferable as ever. "Trust me, you'll regret this more than I will," Potter declared, and then sauntered off to go do whatever trolls did in their free time.
I sighed as I watched him go. After sharing a year and House with him for five years, I had no doubt that he'd follow through, and he wasn't even that justified in being angry!
I groaned and slung my bag over my shoulder with a lot more force than was necessary. A few portraits watched me as I stormed pass, grumbling under my breath about how it was definitely not my fault.
. . .
James' revenge was swift, quite loud, and... musical.
I had torn open the red hangings around my bed Thursday morning in a foul mood, having slept a total of about five hours that night. I'd jump from the astronomy tower before admitting it, but I'd been worrying about the coming onslaught of revenge pranks that I knew was coming.
Fortunately - or maybe unfortunately - my suffering was prolonged, as no such revenge came.
Tara showed true Gryffindor bravery in attempting to drag me out of bed that morning, and we both had several developing bruises by the time I finally rolled out from under the covers. Both of us looked worse for the wear, but Tara had somehow kept her brown hair in a semi-neat looking braid throughout all of it. I, on the other hand, was sporting dark circles under my blue eyes and my short, nearly matted brown hair stuck out in all directions.
"Bedhead much?" My third and final roommate Sarah Jordan laughed, glancing at us. She was in the process of throwing on her robes, meaning she was a good ten minutes ahead of us, ultimately meaning I had to hurry.
I did my best to give her a death glare. "Watch it, or I might try the cornrow look myself, and let me tell you, you'll be the one braiding," I shot back.
Sarah caressed her dark braids defensively. "You could never pull it off," she grinned.
I mean, she wasn't wrong.
Bailey laughed at us, already dressed and halfway out the door. Honestly, she was too studious for her own good (or the rest of ours), and if she left without us, we'd have no one to stop us from skipping class altogether.
See, we had established a system when we'd realized we'd be sharing a tiny room for the next seven years of our lives way back in first year; Bailey made sure we all got through the academic year (and assaulted us with ill-timed camera flashes), Tara provided a good conversation and a laugh to anyone in need, Sarah would threaten to beat anyone who messed with her mates with her beater's bat, and I did my best to keep Sarah out of detention. Really, our close friendship had sprung from mutual need, but we were close, nonetheless.
The rest of us hurried to get ready and catch up with Bailey, and I left the dorm in a better mood than I had woken up in. We made it to the Great Hall without any deadly accidents, which was a good sign. Even better for me was the fact that the demon known as James Potter was nowhere to be seen.
We managed to get through breakfast without starting any more food fights, and I'd almost forgotten my near sleepless night by the time the mail arrived.
And then a brown, rather mean-looking screech owl dropped an envelope in front of me, and my heart dropped into my stomach.
Sarah stopped talking mid sentence, and I could see her amused expression in my peripheral vision. My other roommates exchanged anticipating glances. Bloody traitors.
I swore, grabbed the letter, and sprinted towards the doors, but I was too late. I braced myself for the shrieking voice of my mother, even though I wasn't sure exactly what it was that I'd done, but the voice that rang out was even worse.
Blasting at full volume from the Howler was Celestina Warbeck's nearly ancient, definitively infamous, and positively atrocious song, "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love".
Bailey's camera flashed, and giggles broke out. I heard several people screaming in absolute agony, clutching their ears.
I may have been one of them.
. . .
And so I found myself, not fifteen minutes later, sitting in the office of Professor Longbottom. He looked at me tiredly upon seeing me, although my reputation was still relatively clean at that point. He looked to be in his late thirties or early forties and was moderately attractive, though the appealing thing to most people was the fact that he was a war hero. Either way, the girls in our year certainly paid attention in his classes.
Then, as Head of Gryffindor, he was the one who ended up needing to deal with most of the Weasley/Potter clan's pranks, so sometimes I almost pitied him.
He fixed me with a stern gaze and sighed.
After we'd established that the Howler wasn't going to stop of its own accord, Longbottom had silenced it as quickly as possible, but the damn thing still insisted on following me around.
It had gotten through about half of the songs in the album You Stole My Cauldron But You Can't Have My Heart before any of the professors bothered to step in, and by then I'd sent quite a few poorly-aimed Incendio's at the letter... and at James, who had decided to show himself once he heard the music, probably to see the fruits of his handiwork like the smug git that he is.
I was fairly certain that those poorly aimed spells were the reason I was there, because I couldn't have gotten in trouble for a Howler someone else sent me, and I'd already been sufficiently punished for the food fight.
"Miss Simmons, I assume you know why you're here?" Professor Longbottom questioned. He looked wary, and probably rightly so.
I huffed and slouched further in my chair. "James Potter."
The Professor raised an eyebrow, but if I didn't know any better, I'd say his expression was tinted with amusement. "Care to elaborate?"
"Erm... not really..."
He gave me a pointed look. "Do I have to call Mister Potter in here as well?"
"If you've got a bed in the Hospital Wing ready," I mumbled under my breath.
I received a more stern glare. Apparently the Professor had heard me, and he didn't find my comment nearly as amusing as I did. "So?" he pressed again warily.
I weighed the pros and cons. I had to stay out of Azkaban at least long enough to see the quidditch final that year...
I sighed. "It would probably be best if you didn't call him up," I conceded mildly, quickly adding a quick, "Sir" for good measure.
He nodded. "I suppose that means he's done something that I need to talk to him about," he muttered, more to himself than to me. Returning his attention to me, he reiterated; "So you are aware of what you did to end up in my office? Because regardless of what he did to provoke you, James Potter certainly wasn't throwing jinxes at himself."
"Wish he would," I mumbled, this time at a more cautious volume.
The rest of the meeting wasn't much more productive. There was a lot of deflecting and sighing, and then I was given more detentions and appropriately lectured on using magic responsibly.
The remainder of the day wasn't much better, but then I don't know what I'd been expecting.
"Bloody Potter," I muttered under my breath, kicking a trophy case and promptly holding my throbbing foot. "With his bloody Quidditch complex and petty pranks. Everyone in this ruddy school is so convinced he's Merlin's sodding gift to the world! I swear to Godric next time I see him I'm going to strangle the life out o-"
"Are you talking to yourself?" An annoyingly amused voice chimed.
Speak of the devil...
"I was, until you bloody interrupted me," I snapped. I had to give myself credit for not bashing his head in with a trophy the moment I saw him.
He didn't grace me with a response, but he still looked far more amused than he had the right to be.
I scowled at him.
He smirked. He did that too often.
I held his gaze until it started to seem like we were having a stare off. My eyes started to sting and Potter raised an eyebrow when I gave in and tore my gaze away.
"Prat," I muttered. I strode away to grab a cloth.
Once again, my antics weren't graced with a response.
I yanked a trophy off of the shelf and started viciously scrubbing, trying not to glance at my detention partner, who still wore an infuriating smirk.
"Well," I said, this time trying to turn the tides, and wearing a smirk (though I'm pretty sure I didn't pull it off as well as he did), "Get polishing. We've only got another hour and a half."
James gave a dramatic gesture of defeat and then joined me near the trophy case to help polish. Our wands had already been confiscated by Professor Chambers, who had casted James and I a stern glare and warned us that another teacher was in the classroom right across the hall, so not to try anything. Needless to say, we didn't plan on it.
Then, things never quite go as planned when Potter is involved, do they?
We worked in silence for a few minutes, and the time passed slowly. I was still scrubbing an old quidditch trophy a bit too forcefully when James spoke with an even bigger smirk than was usual.
"So, Simmons," He started neutrally like he was trying to make small talk, although I got the distinct impression that I wasn't going to like the next part of that sentence. Potter allowed himself to smirk slightly before finishing with, "I didn't know you were a fan of Warbeck."
It should be said that I don't make a habit of assaulting people in the same House as me, but somehow still, three seconds later there was blood gushing from Potter's nose, and I was rubbing my knuckles and wincing.
Apparently, Professor Chambers hadn't been kidding about the teacher across the hall, because we heard a door fly open immediately following James' shout.
Professor Lupin rushed into the room, wand out.
"What the hell?!" James demanded, trying to stop the flow of blood from his nose. He certainly wasn't smirking anymore.
Professor Lupin glanced between the two of us. "Yeah, what the hell?" He asked, though it seemed to be directed towards James.
I gulped. "He got a bloody nose."
It was worth a try.
Before Professor Lupin had time to respond, James cut in: "She attacked me!"
Professor Lupin seemed to be trying to assess the situation. "Wait, you - What?!" He took a breath in an attempt to regain his composure, and then turned back toward James. "Did you provoke her?"
"I - No! I just... questioned her musical judgement," James testified, "And then she attacked me," he accused.
Well, I can't say he was lying, but it was a bit of a stretch.
Professor Lupin connected the dots fairly quickly. "And did it have anything to do with the Howler she received this morning?"
Honestly, I always liked that me. I made a victorious face at James that I hoped Lupin couldn't see.
James seemed to be at a loss. "Erm..."
I just tried my best to look innocent. "Professor, he's been pranking me all week, and -" I was cut off.
"But she attacked me!"
"Well, he's the one who -" I started.
"- With her bare hands -" He gestured wildly.
"- front of the whole school-"
"- broke my nose-"
"- bloody Howler -"
"- attacked -"
Professor Lupin raised a hand, signaling for silence. Both of us reluctantly went quiet. The Professor sighed and ran a hand through his hair tiredly. "How many days of detention did McGonagall already give you two?"
"Erm... Two weeks," I muttered sheepishly. I chose not to mention the fact that I'd earned myself another two days for throwing curses at Potter that morning.
"Well, I think you could both stand another four days. Miss Simmons, maybe an extra three in light of his bloody nose." Bloody hell; at that rate there wouldn't be enough days in the school year for all my detentions. I didn't think I'd ever had that many detentions in one semester, no less in one month.
"It's not my fault he's got a delicate nose," I grumbled.
Professor Lupin coughed loudly, hiding his face. Potter looked affronted.
"Don't laugh at me, Teddy!" He said indignantly.
"Who's laughing?" Professor Lupin asked innocently.
Potter muttered something along the lines of "Merlin, you can't trust anyone these days."
"Care to share with the class Potter?" I asked, voice dripping with sarcasm.
Apparently that had been a bad idea, because soon that insufferable smirk was barely visible beneath the blood on his face. "I said I'll see you in detention tomorrow."
I groaned and left the room in a hurry after finishing the polishing without Potter's "help". I assume he was off tending to his broken nose, and that thought alone got me through the rest of the hour. Still, I practically sprinted out the door (and hit several students for my trouble) and spoke the password rather snappishly to the Fat Lady, who attempted to scold me for waking her. I ignored her and legged it to the stairs.
I trudged up to my dorm in about the same mood I'd woken up in (which, if one recalls, was not a good one), and ignored my mates' inquiries about the blood on the knuckles of my right hand.
"I hate detention!" I groaned dramatically after emerging from the bathroom in pyjamas.
Sarah chuckled and glanced up from her Quidditch magazine. "It'd be a bit of an anomaly if you didn't, love," She pointed out.
"Always with the logic," I muttered, crawling into bed.
"It's 8:00 and you have homework to do," Bailey pointed out.
I threw a pillow in her general direction and burrowed deeper into the covers, but ended up emerging from my blankets about five minutes later to finish my Herbology diagram and Transfiguration essay.
I bid all my roommates a hasty, somewhat unenthusiastic goodnight, first making them promise to tell me if they saw any sign of a prank in the night, to which they groaned and accused me of falling subject to Potter-induced paranoia. Looking back, they had something of a case for it, too.
Still I'd say it was justified, seeing as (just that day) I'd been chased by a Howler screeching Warbeck, earned myself another week of detention, and given Hogwarts' golden boy a bloody nose.
In hindsight that last part... May have been my fault.
A/N: Like I said, reviews are the greatest thing in life, and favorites are absolutely amazing. Thanks so much for reading, and feel free to tell me if you have any suggestions or feedback. :)
Edit: As of 5/26/27, this has been edited, so don't be alarmed if you notice changes. :) Thanks!
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