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How not to be a Woodley by NH Stadler
Chapter 4 : The Potter Boys
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8


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The Potter Boys

 

Detention was to take place in the Charms classroom, which was one of my favourite rooms by far. It was high up in a tower, overlooking the vast Hogwarts grounds, including the Forbidden Forest and bits of the Black Lake. I had never seen it empty before, without any objects flying through the air; it felt a little odd, like I was intruding.

            Clutching my pile of books to my chest, I ambled up to the large oak desk, not quite sure what I was supposed to do. Sitting down on Professor Flitwick’s place seemed really inappropriate, but I also couldn’t just sit at my usual desk, which left me standing quite awkwardly in the front of the forsaken classroom, contemplating my options and regretting having declined Kristina Jesnek’s offer – a seventh-year Ravenclaw Prefect – to instruct me on the job.

Quite suddenly, the solid oak door swung open with a soft thud and, accompanied by a wave of laughter, a boy came in. He had the definite appearance of someone who had grown a lot in a very short period of time but, nonetheless, his features were handsome. A fading grin was still etched onto his face, even as the heavy door closed behind him with a bang and enveloped the room in complete silence again.

            “Oh, um, am I – am I right here?” Albus Potter gave me a puzzled look before he rumpled his black hair uncomfortably. Thick tufts were sticking out in random directions as though he had forgotten to comb this morning. “Is this detention?”

            “Yes!” I might have sounded a tat too enthusiastic for confirming that he indeed had found the place where he was to sit out his penalty. I really wasn’t good at this yet.

            “OK, I wasn’t sure…” He trailed off and, instead of talking, decided to tousle his already messy hair again. “Here,” he produced a small piece of parchment from his pocket that was scrawled upon with green ink, and then sank onto the nearest seat, pulling out books from his bag. I glanced at the detention slip and back up at Albus, who seemed slightly nervous. Even though I really didn’t mean to, I couldn’t help staring at him a little bit; he was rumoured to look exactly like his father had at 15, just without the famous scar, of course.

            “Great!” I practically yelled, again sounding way too cheerful for the occasion. I hadn’t meant to yell like that, but the sudden realisation that I had been examining Albus like a complete creep, had made me snap out of my stupor momentarily. Luckily, he didn’t seem to have noticed and only gave me an odd look as I cleared my throat.

            “It, um, says you know what to do?” I indicated the detention slip that had Professor McGonagall’s handwriting on it. Strangely, there were no specifics as to why Albus Potter had to spend his Friday evening in detention or what exactly he had to do. Katie would be severely disappointed.

            “Um yes. I have to do lines,” he said sheepishly and I couldn’t help wondering how on earth he had landed himself in detention this early in the semester. He didn’t exactly seem like the roguish type, but, of course, I could have been wrong.

            Albus had started writing on a fresh piece of parchment, his head bent down so low that his unruly hair hid the words he was scribbling from my view. Now and then, I noticed him glancing up at me, probably checking if I was trying to sneak a peek, but I had settled on one of the desks in the first row, flipping through the latest edition of From Abavi Sucus to Zythum Zenonis – A collection of potent potions.  

            With a loud bang, the classroom door suddenly flew open and both Albus and I turned to see a tall, scrawny guy march into the room. Edgar Silverman, the newly appointed Gryffindor Head Boy, was still wearing his entire school uniform with the red tie flapping oddly as he walked towards me so fiercely, I thought he was going to crash into my desk.

            “Elizabeth Woodley?”

            “Yes?” Quite perplexed, I slid off the table, putting my book aside. I had known Edgar as a Prefect but he had never actually spoken to me before. This was probably the very first time he had addressed me by my name.

            “This looks very well.” He let his gaze wander across the room. “You can go now.”

            “Um, what?” I wasn’t sure if I had heard correctly. Edgar, however, looked unfazed, almost annoyed by my lack of immediate compliance.

            “I said you can go. I’ll take over from here.”

            Besides the strangeness of the situation, I couldn’t help but notice that Edgar, as pompous as he might have acted, seemed nervous. His left eyelid twitched and he kept clenching and unclenching his fists rapidly.

            “Listen, it’s okay. I really don’t mind-“

            “I am Head Boy!” Edgar cut me off, his chest swelling to show off the golden badge that was pinned to his cloak. “And if you don’t want to lose your house thirty points you better pack up your things and go.”

            “Thirty points? Are you kidding me?” Everything about the situation was fishy; from the way Edgar nervously glanced over his shoulder in regular intervals to his slightly sweaty forehead. But I decided I didn’t want to risk it. Not only because thirty house points were at stake here, but also because it seemed unwise to pick an argument with a Head Boy only one week into the year.

            “Fine. I’m leaving.” I gathered my books from the table and, hardly seeing where I was actually going, maneuvered my way through the rows of desks to get to the door. It was not before I had reached the last desk that I suddenly heard a quiet voice, barely louder than a whisper:

            “I’m sorry.”

            I turned my head to see where the voice had come from but Edgar was still lingering in front of the class and Albus was busy throwing books into his bag. Neither seemed to even realize that I was still there, and I turned away again, shaking my head to myself. Was I hallucinating? I looked up to the ceiling, checking if maybe Peeves was floating above my head but there was no trace of the poltergeist or any other ghost, for that matter.

            “Did you need anything else?” Edgar’s lofty voice echoed through the room, making me jump.

            “Oh, um, no. No. I’ll just-“ I gestured awkwardly towards the door, almost dropping all of my books in the process, “I’ll go.”

            “You do that,” he said with a definite hint of impatience in his voice, watching me as I turned on my heels and finally strode out of the classroom into the dimly lit corridor.

 

***

 

Dear parents,

I am fine.

 

I groaned with frustration as I stared at the piece of parchment in front of me. The almost blank page seemed to mock me and for a moment I seriously considered throwing it into the fire that roared next to the leather armchair I was lounging in. I had started the letter about an hour ago but I simply couldn’t think of anything to say.

            “You could write about how Albus Potter was in detention,” Katie suggested lazily as she stretched her arms towards the high ceiling of the common room. “They’ll like that.”

            “You are not being very helpful.” I smiled without looking up from the parchment in my lap; there was a glistening ink stain where I had pressed the tip of my quill to the paper for too long, contemplating what to write.

            “How about I’m in Ravenclaw, deal with it bitches.”

            “Yeah, that’s much better.”

            “Come on!” My best friend gave me a pleading look, her auburn curls completely dishevelled from rubbing against the flaky cloth of her chair. “It’s a brilliant day outside and we are the only dunces still left inside!”

            I sighed, banging my head against the upholstery of my chair. Katie was absolutely right; the castle was positively forsaken; even the ghosts seemed to have abandoned the corridors for once. It seemed more than stupid to sit next to a fireplace, hunched over a letter I didn’t even want to write.

            “Come on! You need some fresh air!” Katie had practically leapt up, her fists punching the air energetically. Her sequined headband caught the sunlight that streamed in through the window as she grabbed my discarded grey sweater and threw it into my face. “YOLO, Seth. YOLO.”

            With a smirk, I pulled the loose sweater over my head and stuffed the poor excuse for a letter down the side pocket of my brown leather bag. “You’re right.”

            “I know!” She gave me her most exasperated eye-roll. “As usual.” And with these words, my best friend linked her arm through mine and dragged me all the way out of the empty castle.

 

***

 

The sky was almost cloudless except for a few fluffy white tufts that sailed along the edge of the horizon like a herd of sheep. A soft wind rippled the opaque surface of the Black Lake at the edge of which a few people dared to stick in their feet. The vast Hogwarts grounds were bustling with students, their heads turned towards the sky, basking in the bright sunlight that still had some of the summery warmth left; yet, there was a definite crisp in the air that carried the promise of autumn.

            “Maybe I’ll still catch a tan.” Katie rolled onto her back, exposing her milky white skin to the sun. She was even paler than me, but I always thought it looked somehow less cold on her with her reddish-brown curls and bright blue eyes.

            “Yeah, or a cold,” I said, pointing at the goose bumps on her bare arms. Though the temperature might have been quite pleasant, it wasn’t warm enough to don nothing but a thin strappy top.

            “Beauty knows no pain, darling.”

            I shook my head laughing and turned back to the old issue of Witch Weekly that I had found hidden in one of the books in the library. It was thoroughly wrinkled and someone had filled in all the crossword puzzles already, but I still flicked through the pages, reading bits and pieces of the colourfully illustrated articles. The editorial was a big home story on the Potters and their cottage in the Scottish countryside with a large family portrait that showed them smiling and waving.

            “OK, don’t look now,” Katie suddenly whispered close to me, “But I think Albus Potter is watching us.”

            Rather thickly, I glanced at the 10 year old Albus in the moving photograph, before I had even processed what Katie had just told me. “What?”

            “Over there,” she muttered, “by the jetty.”

            I pushed my sunglasses up the bridge of my nose and inconspicuously turned my head towards the lake, where a group of people was lounging at the edge of the wooden cat-walk that led into the dark water. However, before I could get a closer look, there was a loud splash, followed by a great amount of laughter and whooping that echoed over the lake, and I whipped my head around.

            Like everyone else, I found the source of the ruckus just in time to see James Potter wading out of the Black Lake with his white Henley shirt sticking to his body and a grin plastered across his handsome face, much to the amusement of Freddie Weasley and Augustus Cotton, who could barely stand upright from laughing.

            “Would you look at that,” Katie murmured, biting down absently on the cap of her pen as she watched James ruffle his wet dark brown hair, her eyes glued to the well-defined muscles that were outlined against the soaked fabric that clung to his torso. She wasn’t the only one, either; the majority of people stared at the small group by the lake, some with envy, others with definite longing. Achieving such an effect had probably been the whole purpose of this stunt, but everyone seemed glad that – while not in person – they had, at least, been somehow included in whatever made James Potter and his friends laugh.

            “I wish he’d do that to me,” Katie sighed as James had easily picked up a blond girl that had been sitting with his friends, pressing his drenched body to hers while she giggled and screeched with obvious delight. “


I only groaned in response and let myself plop back down onto the plaid blanket to resume my perusal of the tattered issue of Witch Weekly, discarding the page that flashed the Potter family portrait. Unlike Katie, I had definitely had enough James Potter for one day.


A/N: Dear lovely reader. I hope that you are still enjoying the story and I would love to hear what you think, so leave me a review… getting feedback really makes my day :)


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