Chapter 12 : Twelve
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James groaned and pressed his pillow over his head, regretting challenging Lucy to a shots race the night before.
Fred was jolted out of his comatose state, snatching his slipper from the floor and throwing it at whoever had dared wake him.
“For two months?!”
Eli pulled back his curtains, “Well, I’m awake.” He dipped into his trunk and pulled on a jumper, and trainers without socks. Then headed for the stairs, ruffling his behead of toffee-coloured hair as he went. “Morning, Roxanne. Lovely to have you as always.”
“Elijah.” She gave him a tight lipped smile in return.
Toby had already left early to eat breakfast with Tara and walk her to Arithmancy, but James had hoped for a lie-in until double Transfiguration at ten o’clock, Eli usually did the same, and Fred didn’t have to be up until after lunch for double Potions at two. Roxanne’s wake-up call was unwelcome to say the least.
Eli, though annoyed, had the decency not to slam the door on his descent for the sake of the other boys he was leaving to face Roxanne’s wrath with pounding headaches, in exchange for the cacophony that accompanied breakfast in the Great Hall. This was not a good way to start a Thursday.
“Do you realise this carries over into January? That this is going to ruin our practice timetable?! I have finally got it down to having three good practices a week that fit for everyone’s schedules, and now you two have gone and sent that to hell in a hand-basket! What the hell were you thinking?! What the hell were you doing, anyway, that landed you in this mess?!”
James rubbed a hand over his face and said quietly, “I think I may vomit.”
Fred just groaned into his pillow incoherently.
“Are you—?” Roxie started. “Are you two hungover?”
“Possibly.” James propped himself up on an elbow, but found himself too nauseated to argue this point any further and conceded. “Probably.”
“I cannot believe this.” She shook her head, bunching her hair back. “I cannot believe you two.”
James offered a comforting hand, “We would have invited you to join us—”
“Oh, don’t you even dare.”
“Look, Toby wanted us out of the dorm for the night, so we went to Hogsmeade for a drink.”
“No, with Lucy and Kel. Eli had a study group-thingie — which we totally attended all night, if anyone asks. Wait, how did you know we had detention?”
Eyes flashing dangerously, Roxie held up two scrolls of parchment tied with silver ribbon. “Charleston asked me to deliver these.”
“Reading other people’s mail is a criminal act, Roxie.” James tutted. “Also it’s extremely rude.”
“James Potter, I swear to Godric, if you do not apologise right now, I am going to push you out the window without a broomstick!”
He glared at her for several seconds. She glared back. He huffed, eyes too tired and sore to win a staring contest, and flopped back on his pillows.
Roxie put on her most innocent expression. “For?”
Fred finally came alive behind his curtains.
“Oh, you know what, sis? Get out!”
“Get. Out.” Fred stood up, straightened his t-shirt. He was a good head taller than her, and he used it to her advantage. “The only time you’re allowed to yell at us is on the quidditch pitch, where we play excellently, as you should recall, if you weren’t too busy fawning over your ex-boyfriend who 1. plays for the other team, and 2. dumped you last May over the said and sacred game. You don’t get to come in here at,”—he checked the clock on Eli’s night stand—“eight thirty and yell at us after having a night of fun after a long week and a lot of homework. Get your head out of your arse, Roxie. We didn’t do this to punish you. We didn’t even intend to get caught. Did you consider any of that before you stormed up here to shout at us? Did you consider that some of us have bigger worries than quidditch? Did you even stop to think that we might already feel awful about what happened and we don’t need a lecture from every member of our family every time we screw up? No, you didn’t. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here. Now, like I told you before. Get. Out. Of. Our. Room!”
“Fine.” She hissed. “But don’t think you’re not both going to be doing laps until you drop every morning practice for a month.”
“Your authority doesn’t extend outside the bounds of the quidditch pitch. Piss off, already.”
Rosie slammed the door on her way out.
James violently vomited into Toby’s cauldron.
Fred chuckled in victory, and rolled back into bed, his satisfaction enough to return to sleep in a matter of seconds.
By the time Kelly and Lucy made it to Professor Charleston’s classroom for their Transfiguration lesson, James had puked twice more, showered, and swallowed the pepper-up potion Toby had retrieved for him. He was nibbling on a ginger-newt when they arrived, still looking a little under the weather. Toby moved away to talk to Tara, who was a few paces behind Lucy and Kelly.
“How was Arithmancy?” James asked them.
“Oh, forget Arithmancy!” Lucy hissed, gesturing wildly to the girl beside her. “She’s not in trouble. At all. He never saw her.”
James raised his eyebrows, impressed. “Nice.”
Lucy gave a strangled sigh. “It is not fair. We’re in detention every night for two months, and she’s the one who bought the bloody shots!”
“She has a name, you know.” Kelly folded her arms.
Lucy waved a hand in a whatever gesture, but before she could continue ranting, the third-years who Charleston had just dismissed came flooding out into the corridor. They were ushered inside, Professor Charleston already writing on the chalkboard.
James and Lucy took seats on opposite sides of the classroom, hoping to disperse some of the shade their teacher was no doubt going to throw at them. However, the lesson passed in a perfectly civil manner, Charleston choosing instead to ignore the two of them entirely. The only time he interacted with them was at the end of the lesson, as he handed out the test the class had done in Tuesday’s lesson, and even then, it was indirect.
“Carter, this is not the standard I expect of my NEWT students, if you wish to have any chance of passing your final exams, I suggest you pull your finger out.” He sniffed, flipping the parchment onto Rachel Carter’s desk.
Rachel ducked her head, blushing.
Charleston caught Lucy folding her perfect-score test paper into an aeroplane and narrowed his eyes. “Miss Weasley, maybe you can offer your assistance?”
Lucy lifted her eyes with utter disdain.
She knew exactly what Charleston was insinuating. If she didn’t help Rachel, he’d extend her sentence by enlisting her in detention for the rest of the year. If she did help Rachel, he wouldn’t mention the Hogsmeade incident to any of the other teachers. Sneaking out of the castle after curfew counted as truancy, and if that went down in her file, it would interrupt her perfect attendance record she’d worked six and a half years to maintain. There wasn’t a man she hated more at this moment in time.
“Of course.” She consented through gritted teeth.
What a wanker.
“Excellent. I expect to see results by the next test, Carter. Weasley.” He rapped his knuckles on Rachel’s desk and moved off to interrogate another teenager over their test score.
Lucy rolled her eyes and wrote, Talk at lunch, on the left wing of the paper aeroplane and launched it across the classroom to Rachel’s desk.
Rachel ducked her head over her shoulder and mouthed, “Thank-you.”
Lucy nodded, refraining from rolling her eyes again, and leaned her forehead on her folded arms. The idea of eating lunch seemed absurd, even after the pepper-up potion she had taken last night and this morning. She was on edge. This was her NEWT year, and she had gone out drinking instead of staying in to study. She had applied to six prestigious apprenticeships across Europe and one research healer course at Bonham. She had straight Outstandings in all her subjects. Her attendance was impeccable. Her attitude… could probably use some work, but it always improved when she was set something remotely challenging. She was walking a fine line between crazy and genius with the whisky business; the same line, she suspected, Fred used as a skipping rope. On one hand, what they were doing toed the line of legality, and could get them expelled before they got to sit their final exams. On the other, it was an excellent piece of extra credit that covered magic from several subjects and would look good on a job application. Then again, there were other ways of appealing to employers on parchment. For instance, tutoring would look good on her record, too.
She hoped Carter was competent enough to keep up with her teachings, if not, this would become a punishment worse than the two months of detention she’d already been assigned.
Rachel fell into step beside her as Lucy made her way down to the Great Hall to attempt to eat something. They were roughly the same height, and took the same stride down the stairs, the soles of Lucy’s combat boots echoing louder than the rubber of Rachel’s black trainers. As they turned onto the second floor corridor, the Scamander twins came barrelling through along from behind, knocking two third-year girls flying to the floor. Too preoccupied with being so terribly late, neither one of them noticed.
Lucy, disgusted, began to help one girl up.
Rachel, still in something of a fluster from the lesson, yelled after them, “You insolent scones! That is not the proper way in which to hit on girls!”
Lucy snorted, pulling the other girl to her feet and sending them both on their way. When they were a good twenty feet ahead, she turned to her new student, arms folded, eyebrow cocked.
“‘Insolent Scones’? I mean, I like the sentiment, but your public swearing needs work.”
Rachel pointed a finger at her and said sternly, “Shut up, sugar muffin.”
“You’re weird, Carter.” Lucy grinned, shrugging as she started down the corridor once more. “This might actually be fun.”
James had taken Kelly up on her offer to hide out in the Library to do homework in their free period after lunch for three reasons. A) Conversations in the library existed in a state of hushed whispers only and he still had a headache from this morning. B) Because he wasn’t about to pass up an hour of Kelly’s exclusive company when it was offered to him. And C) He really did need to finish his Herbology essay.
Kelly had briefly disappeared to retrieve a book to help with her Arithmancy homework, her notes spread out across her side of the study table, clearly distinguishable from his by her bubbly handwriting. James had several of Neville’s ‘recommended reading’ textbooks open for reference for his essay, but he couldn’t see what he needed to write. The lines were all blurring together and he was sure he had read the same paragraph seventeen times over already. Slamming the book in question closed in frustration, he sent several of Kelly’s note sheets fluttering down the desk.
One small square of parchment slid further than the rest; James threw out his hand to stop it from drifting off the desk. Upon closer inspection, he saw that it was soft and warn, the edges fraying and the corners creased — like it had been carried around in someone’s pocket for some time. Flipping it over, he found it was a photograph, but not like the other pictures he’d seen. It wasn’t the subjects he found unfamiliar (though they were) but the fact that the once glossy, now faded image was static. The smiles frozen in time, a memory captured in the split second it took the camera to flash. A muggle photograph. Or maybe Kelly had never gotten around to developing it in the potion that made wizard photographs move. He doubted it though, considering she’d handled it enough for it to be in its current state.
The subjects were a man and a woman, in their mid-thirties perhaps. He was tall and handsome, with square shoulders, dark hair, an almost wicked twinkle in his smile and steely-blue eyes. He stood with his arm draped around the shoulders of the woman beside him. She had a bob of dark-blonde ringlets framing a face that was pretty in an undramatic way, with warm brown eyes and petal-pink lips. She was leaning into his shoulder, arm linked around his waist. They were dressed for a dinner or a cocktail party, in black-tie and pearls.
“They’re my parents.”
Kelly’s voice startled him slightly, and he dropped the photo onto the table.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry-”
“No, no. It’s fine.” She reassured him, sliding into a seat with the copy of Advanced Arithmetic she’d retrieved from the Arithmancy section. “It’s perfectly reasonable to be curious as to why a girl would carry around an old photograph of a couple with very little resemblance to her when uncombined.”
“You haven’t really mentioned your parents before.”
“Yeah, well… My mum died when I was little.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” James said, slightly taken aback. “And your dad?”
Kelly smoothed the photograph with her thumb.
“He’s an Auror.”
James smirked, “Ah, so that’s where you got your clandestine skill set.”
“Yeah,” She grinned. “He taught Rhys and I the tricks of the trade. Counter-surveillance, cold-reading, defensive magic, that sort of thing.”
“Rhys is your… brother?”
Kelly nodded, “Twenty-two, travel-writer-slash-artist-slash-eccentric-slash-explorer, Ravenclaw, blond, bilingual, six-one, sweet-tooth.”
“Sounds wonderful. Though, in all honestly, not my type…”
Kelly giggled, earning a severe glare and a “Ssh!” from Madam Pince.
“You’re a terrible influence.” She told James in a low whisper, cracking open Advanced Arithmetic. “You’re going to get me chucked out before I can finish my equations.”
“Yes, because we’ve firmly established that I’m the troublemaker, here, and you’re such a good little girl.” He hissed back, turning his attention back to his Herbology essay discussing the differences in the effect of gillyweed in freshwater versus saltwater versus tropical-water versus cold-water.
Kelly kicked him under the table.
“You’re only proving my point further.” He sang in a stage-whisper.
“Don’t make me get out my wand.” Kelly muttered.
“See, if I said that in a library, it would be seen as scandalous.” James glanced up and caught the withering look Kelly was giving him. “I’ll shut up, now.”
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