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Chapter 11 : V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.
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“‘Lo Gryffies,” Teddy Lupin nodded his head and gave a quick wave. He understandably looked a bit out of place standing at the front of the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom and addressing us as we sat in our seats later that night. Teddy shifted uncomfortably in his scuffed-up dirty bucks, the same sort of classy vintage as his brown robes, but his customary blue hair looked a bit out of place in front of Dawlish’s beloved chalkboard.
“‘Lo Teddy Lupin,” we sixth-year Gryffies mumbled together.
“Now, I’m sorry that my first act as your teacher has to be supervising detention—” said Teddy, not looking very sorry at all.
But I raised my hand. “Teddy Lupin, why does Viridian let you keep your blue hair?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t seem like the sort to support unnatural hairstyles,” piped J.D.
Teddy Lupin crossed his arms. “Look, Viridian was appointed headmaster while I was Head Boy. I know how he operates and how to get leverage.”
“Do tell,” requested Freddie, putting his elbows on his desk and placing his chin in his palms.
Chuckling lightly, Teddy admitted, “It was one of the criteria for me to accept this job on such short notice. No interference with my Metamorphosing and an unlimited supply of orange breath mints.”
We all laughed in admiration. Teddy Lupin is cool.
“Weren’t you in Auror training, Teddy Lupin?” asked Tegan.
“Yes, actually,” he admitted, “but there was an—er—incident.”
“Tell us the tale!” exclaimed Micah.
Teddy gave a sly smile. “I may or may not have lit the department on fire. By accident, of course.”
I roared with laughter. “Oh Teddy Lupin, you’re such a card!”
“How’d you light the Auror department on fire?” asked Tegan, concerned.
“Let me put it this way: avoid mixing basilisk poison with veritaserum,” said Teddy. “Explosive results.”
And so we Gryffies all roared with laughter. Teddy Lupin is a card, whatever that means.
“All right, then, let’s get down to busin—”
“So how’s ol’ Victoire, Teddy Lupin?” inquired J.D., wiggling his eyebrows.
“Come on, I don’t think that’s appropriate conver—”
“Still whipped, are you?” asked Fred. “Take back the pants, mate! Take back the pants!”
Teddy Lupin clenched his jaw. “I’d really prefer it if you address me as Professor Lupin. And for your information, Freddie, Victoire and I share the pants.”
Micah groaned. “Look, Teddy Lupin, I’m dating a Delacour-Weasley woman as well, and take a tip from an expert: once you’ve given them the pants, you will not get them back. That’s why I don’t wear horizontal stripes anymore. Mads won’t let me.”
“You’re dating Madeleine?” asked Teddy, taken aback.
“Yeah,” said Micah in his Haughty Voice. “She fancied me forever and must’ve asked me out dozens of times. I finally did her the honour of rocking her world.”
Teddy Lupin smirked. “Sure you did.”
“What’d Dad say when you burned down the Auror department?” I asked eagerly.
Teddy clicked his tongue. “Not much, actually. It was only yesterday, which is why your parents haven’t had a chance to tell you about it, Jamesie, but your dad called me into his temporary office—in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, just while they get the fumes out—and gave me the option of resigning or getting a demerit. And demerits are hella serious, I’ll have you know. I would’ve had a hearing with Arlie’s dad and everything.”
“So how’d you get this job?” asked Fred. “Seems like awful quick turnaround, and I can’t see Viridian approving of a blue-haired pyro.”
“For your information, a pyromaniac burns things down on purpose,” said Teddy quickly. “It takes a very special type of individual to burn things down by accident.”
We nodded, eagerly drinking his every word of wisdom.
“I sent out my résumé to hella places this morning,” explained Teddy Lupin, “and Viridian was the first one to owl me back. Obviously. I suspect I got the job because I applied before the post was vacated.”
“Aren’t you a bit young to be teaching, Teddy Lupin?” asked Tegan. “No offence.”
He shrugged. “I s’pose so. But Viridian was in a bind, and apparently my dad was the Defence teacher as well. I just think it’s cool because I got the same job Voldy never could, you know? He first applied when he was around my age, but Albus Dumbledore never gave it to ‘im.”
“True that,” mused Micah. We agreed. Everybody knows all sorts of juicy details about Voldemort, the ones that he kept D.L. his whole life. Like how he was a half-blood, and that he played the oboe in the Hogwarts Symphony Orchestra. Nerd!
“Right, so on with the deten—” said Teddy.
“Can you Metamorph for us, Teddy Lupin?” I asked. “Please?”
“Yeah!” chimed in J.D.
“Do it, Teddy!” piped Fred.
“No, I really shouldn’t—” said Teddy humbly.
“You know you want to!” shouted Micah.
“Aw, come on,” said Tegan playfully.
“No,” said Teddy reluctantly. “I’m supposed to be punishing you lot, yeah?”
“Teddy Lupin, who tortured Dawlish into near insanity?” asked J.D.
“You lot?” he answered apprehensively.
“And whose vacancy resulting in your hiring?” J.D. grinned and nodded his head.
“Dawlish’s,” grumbled Teddy.
“Cogito ergo sum,” said J.D. in his Epiphany Voice, motioning with his fingers.
“I don’t think that means what you think it means,” I whispered to him.
“Bugger off!” hissed J.D.
“Are you insinuating that I should thank you instead of punishing you?” asked Teddy Lupin.
“Capital idea!” proclaimed Micah.
Teddy shrugged. “Can’t argue with that logic.”
“Glad you see it our way, Teddy Lupin!” I jumped up and rushed over to shake his hand. “I’m terribly sorry to be so rude, but I really must be off. Quidditch plays to plan, you know. Big match on Saturday.”
“I’m sorry too, Teddy Lupin, but I really must be on my way as well,” said J.D. promptly. “I have to write 36 inches on bezoars before eight tomorrow morning, and I probably should get cracking, yeah?”
“Teddy Lupin, I promised Hugo I’d help him with Transfiguration,” said Freddie. “You know how it is, helping out little cousins and such. Well, you sort of know. You’re our godcousin.”
“I need to organize my laundry by colour, Teddy Lupin,” said Tegan far too seriously. “The house elves do it all wrong.”
“I need to—go,” stammered Micah. “Somewhere that is not here. See you later, Teddy Lupin!”
We all rushed out very quickly, and above the scuffling of our feet, I thought I heard Teddy yelp, “It’s Professor Lupin!”
“All right, Gryffies,” I began, lowering my voice from its normal pitch and standing up very straight, “I don’t want to overwhelm you, but we have a few things to prove during this match. Slytherin obliterated us last month, and I don’t think anyone wants to go through that again.”
All seven of us were huddled together in the blokes’ locker room that fateful Saturday, fifteen minutes before the match was scheduled to begin. I clutched my broom, determined not to reveal my insecurity. A team is only as strong as its cap’n, and I could not let my Gryffies know how close I was to wetting myself.
“Strike fast and hard,” I said, quivering slightly.
They all looked to Micah, who looked much too nonchalant for an opportunity such as this. He shrugged and gave a smug smile.
“That’swhatshesaid!” spat J.D., who looked very surprised after the fact. “Frick, where did that come from?”
“Aw, what’s that J.D.? You desperately miss my witty and poignant humour?” chuckled Micah in his Condescending Voice.
“Sod off,” grumbled J.D.
“Right, then,” I said, shaking it off. “Ravenclaw easily beat Hufflepuff, as we all saw two weeks ago. We’re the underdogs, mates, which is fricking terrible from a motivational standpoint, but is really quite fantastic from a literary standpoint.”
“What does it matter if being the underdog is good from a literary standpoint?” asked Freddie. “You still writing about us in your dodgy little diary?”
“To address your inquiries, Alfred, every great Quidditch story begins with a team in similar straits as ours,” I said crisply. “Take the Chudley Cannons fifteen years ago. And it’s none of your business what I write about you in my Imagination Journal.”
“Cap’n, isn’t it easier to motivate an underdog?” asked Tegan. “I mean, we’ve got nothing to lose.” She gave a quick smile. “You could start with something like that.”
I coughed and stood up straighter. I have two and one-quarter inches’ advantage over Tegarino height-wise, and most lads will tell you that an advantageous height is the cornerstone of proving one’s Manliness.
“Good call,” I acknowledged her quickly. “So, we have nothing to lose. Yeah, mates?”
“I reckon,” said Mattie.
“I suppose our dignity is still there for the taking,” snickered J.D.
I narrowed my gaze at my bestest mate in the world, over whom I have one half inch of height advantage. Be a Manly Man, James.
“Perhaps you are correct, sir,” I said cautiously, peering into his locker and spying the crisp sheet of parchment he’d been toting around all week. “Perhaps our dignity is still up for grabs.”
And then fast, like a quick bunny, I snatched J.D.’s scrap of parchment and bolted.
“OI!” bellowed J.D., taking after me. “You off your ROCKER?”
I laughed as I jumped on the creaky old chair in the corner and unfolded the piece parchment. “Dear John,” I recited. “Ooh, this ought to be good.”
Micah and Freddie chased after J.D. and chortled their little brains out, but J.D. tackled me and trapped me in his signature Nott Lock, which his Death Eater granddad invented apparently.
“Give it!” yelped J.D. as he shoved me against the wall, but I slipped out of his grip and rolled away, realizing that there might be slight bruises developing on my elbows.
“Dear John, I am not afraid to admit my love for you—frick, this is from Rosie—but I cannot deny that your lack of reciprocation—OW MY BLOODY SPLEEN! YOU’RE HURTING MY SPLEEN!”
J.D. had me caught between the floor and the lower lockers and his left elbow was sticking in the place I always imagined my spleen to be. My right arm held the letter high and just out of J.D.’s reach, but he kept growling and swiping for it.
“For Dumbledore’s sake, we have a very important Quidditch match in SEVEN MINUTES!” shouted Tegan amid the din. “You’re physically fighting over a piece of PARCHMENT, and you are going to HURT yourselves, and we’ve already earned the nickname of the INVALIDS this year!”
I stopped struggling for a moment, but J.D. persisted. “You’ve got a very literal interpretation of stealing one’s dignity!”
He went for a grab but I jerked my parchment-clutching hand to the side. “Don’t mock me in front of my team!” I snapped. “It’s not conducive to ANYTHING! Except to your legendary reputation of being SMARMY!”
“FINE!” exclaimed J.D. dramatically, letting me out of the Nott Lock, standing up, and backing away. “That letter’s given me enough trouble anyway! You know what? Hand it off to Snorky right before the match, and that’ll make this day absolutely perfect!”
I got up myself and brushed the dust off my kit, staring defiantly at my ever-so-slightly-shorter best mate. “No more prickishness,” I said solemnly, holding out my hand. “This is a tight ship to run, and I am its cap’n.”
J.D. gave me a strange look right then, one we Gryffies rarely saw. It definitely was a twinkle, but it was far from his usual Mischievous Twinkle. This was a Twinkle of Innocence. “Aye aye, Cap’n,” he said earnestly.
I grinned and exclaimed cheerfully, “Hug it out!” I stepped forward and threw my arms ‘round J.D., and he meekly patted me on the back.
I heard a cough coming from the peanut gallery. “If you’re about done,” said Arlie, “we have to go kick my boyfriend’s ass now. And while we’re at it, we might as well make the rest of the Ravenclaw side cry.”
Playing Quidditch for a Hogwarts house team is probably the best preparation there is for joining a professional club upon graduation. Well, there’s a very good reason why Bagman has fallen so far in the Quidditch world, but the quality of play amongst the squads is very competitive. For almost all of us players, Quidditch is right up there with oxygen, and our reverence for our sport rarely ever falters. We approach each match as a blessing, an opportunity to prove our worth to our legions of adoring fans. But sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on the game play when Snorky Scamander commentates.
“And there’s Horowitz with the pass to Shacklebolt, for the Gryffindor side,” said Snorky in his distinctive ethereal voice about twenty minutes into the match. “You know, Micah Horowitz isn’t nearly as insufferable as everyone says he is. He does talk quite a lot, especially when no one is listening, but as his dormitory-mate for well over five years, I can say with some degree of certainty that he has the usual number of toes—”
“Mr. Scamander!” I heard Professor Longbottom protest from beside Snorky. “Commentating is a privilege, and I won’t hesitate to take it away again! On topic, please.”
“Very well, Professor,” grumbled Snorky. “Right, then. Well, Shacklebolt scored, bringing the count to 40-30 Gryffindor. And none of them are injured yet, so it’s turning out to be a good match for the Invalids. Er, I mean the Gryffies.”
Tegan was hovering about twenty feet above and to the right of me, and I looked over to her. She merely grinned down at me and motioned towards Snorky. They had to drag him away from the microphone at last year’s Quidditch final, and while very little of what he has to say is relevant, the matches he commentates are certainly a great deal more colourful. Or that’s what Tegan always says.
“Fünke brings the Quaffle up the pitch,” commentated Snorky. “Coby is poised to take Drystan Davies’ Ravenclaw cap’nship after Davies graduates this spring. Professor Longbottom, I have a question: is it a conflict of interest for me to commentate about my own cousin? Even if he is in Ravenclaw—”
“Mr. Scamander, during the last ten seconds Mr. Nott of Gryffindor sent a Bludger to Mr. Fünke’s head,” sighed Professor Longbottom. “Just commentate.”
I chuckled and zipped forward on my broom. Arlie had snatched the Quaffle during Coby Fünke’s Bludger-induced fumble, and we made our way up the pitch, accompanied by Micah as well.
They looked to me and I twitched my head left, then right, signalling the Hawkshead Formation. We swooped into place, Arlie and the Quaffle in the centre and me and Micah flanking the sides.
“With Shacklebolt in possession, it appears as if the Inva—Gryffies are attempting the Hawkshead Formation. I really don’t know what that is, and considering all the poverty and genocide and general malice in the world, does the Hawkshead Formation even matter?
“But back to game play,” Snorky recovered quickly. “The Ravenclaw Beater Vandroogenbroeck has sent a Bludger straight towards Shacklebolt—and she swiftly deflected it by grabbing the Quaffle in both hands and punching it away. Points for style, Professor Longbottom?”
“What do you think, Mr. Scamander?” asked Longbottom, growing impatient. Professor Longbottom used to be quieter when he was in school, or so my mum told me, but he turned badass during the Death Eaters’ occupation of Hogwarts and hasn’t looked back since. Except my mum didn’t specifically use the word ‘badass’.
Arlie wasted no time and deftly chucked the Quaffle towards the left ring, where the stringy Ravenclaw Keeper dove and absolutely missed the block. 50-30 Gryffies!
Micah and I high-fived our talented Chaser and mother hen, who looked upwards to Drystan Davies and smirked. He scowled and flew away, brilliant blond locks shining in the cold November sun.
After Bagman, our beloved (not so much!) referee, called a brief time out so Professor Longbottom and Snorky Scamander could sort out their differences amicably, I looked up and over to my own Seeker and flew towards her.
“Fantastic teamwork on the Chaser front,” Tegan grinned as I flew level with her. “Really doing a job on those Ravenclaws.”
“It’s not hard,” I said nonchalantly. “The only one with any discernable athletic talent is Drystan Davies, whose hair looks exceptionally golden today—”
“You noticed that too?” piped Tegan. “He must be using a new conditioner, or something.”
“But the rest of the Ravenclaw side looks, well, like they spend too much time inside reading,” I shrugged.
“Well, they were sorted there for a reason,” said Tegan, and she winked. I wasn’t sure if this was crossing the Line, but I decided to let it slide because the wink in question caused the chrysalis in my stomach to explode with the birth of a thousand glorious butterflies.
“I demand creative control!” I thought I heard Snorky shout from the stands.
“You’re not fulfilling your contractual obligations as commentator!” retorted Longbottom.
“Now gentlemen,” Ludo Bagman said, having flown up to meet the quarrelling parties so as to better moderate their negotiations, “I’m sure we can come to a settlement that is favourable to the both of you. Why, when I was arrested for embezzlement in the late 90’s…”
“Crimety, is this match ever going to end?” Tegan groaned.
“Not until this time out is over, I suppose,” I replied. “And then you’ve got to catch the Snitch.”
“Cos there’s no way in hell that ruddy shiny-haired Davies is going to catch it,” she beamed.
“That’s the right attitude!” I smiled.
“Oh frick it all,” said Tegan suddenly in a low voice, glancing down the pitch. “I’ve spotted the Snitch.”
“Huzzah?” I pumped my fist reluctantly. “Doesn’t this sort of thing usually make you happy?”
“It’s resting on the back of Coby Fünke’s Supernova,” she whispered. And there the Snitch was, appearing to be taking a quick kip on the bristles of the Ravenclaw Chaser’s broomstick as he hovered about twenty feet above the ground and spoke to Sam Vandroogenbroeck. Well, it had retracted its tiny wings and stopped moving, at any rate. The Snitch, not Sam Vandroogenbroeck.
“Well, that’s odd,” I commented.
“How am I supposed to snatch it without Coby or Sam noticing?” asked Tegan, frustrated. “Or more importantly, without Drystan Davies noticing?”
“You can’t legally catch it until this time out is over,” I shrugged my shoulders. “But I’d fly a bit closer, pull a Feint when you’re near Davies, then recover and Jacques-Hammeurt straight for Fünke.”
“Seems pretty risky,” she said.
“Winning by a wide margin would put us in a good position for the winter standings,” I said matter-of-factly. “If Hufflepuff loses to Slytherin, we’ll be in second place.”
Tegan looked at me and nodded curtly, understanding her noble duty. I wanted to give her a great big hug, but as I usually did while playing Quidditch, I decided against it. We saw Bagman take his place in the centre of the pitch grasping the Quaffle, as Teddy Lupin dragged Snorky away from his seat, the latter protesting very loudly.
“I apologize for the brief interruption!” bellowed Bagman. “Professor Lupin will commentate for the remainder of this match. Speaking of which, it re-starts…now!” He tossed the Quaffle in the air, Arlie grabbed it, and I sped from Tegan in her and Micah’s direction.
I was busy scoring a goal when Tegan Feinted, but I knew it must have been a good one judging from the spectators’ cheers. But Coby Fünke was the Chaser to bring the Quaffle back up the pitch and I followed him, but kept a good distance. Something as shiny as Drystan Davies’ incredible hair remained on the tail end of his Supernova, and I did not want to interfere in its capture.
Fünke didn’t notice Tegan diving straight towards him until very late in the Hammeurt, at which point he looked upwards and dropped the Quaffle in terror. There was no need for me to lunge for it: the Snitch had awoken from its slumber, popped its wings back out, and taken off from Fünke’s broomstick.
Game play stopped as it always did whenever anyone went for the Snitch, and if you think about it, very little of what the Chasers, Keepers, and Beaters do is actually significant in the final score. Even though the position of Seeker was the last to evolve (I sleep with a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages under my pillow and it keeps my Imagination Journal company), Quidditch is really just about the capture of the Snitch. All the other players just keep the crowd entertained until this happens.
But Tegan closed in on the Snitch about thirty feet from the ground, arm outstretch and feet obviously ready to put the brakes on if the pitch got a bit too close for comfort. Closer and closer and closer she got, until—
“Tegan!” I shouted as I raced towards her after she jumped five feet from her broomstick to the ground. Her knees buckled and she sat unceremoniously upon the ground, coughing and retching and pounding on her chest.
Madam Larkin made it there a millisecond before I did, but Tegan motioned for both of us to keep our distance. Her eyes bulged and she gave a great heave, and vomited the Snitch. It sailed through the air in a delicate arc, until she grabbed it with her long fingers.
And with that, all 250 some odd Gryffindors gave a tremendous roar.
There was a radibonzicallymonotripindicular victory party for us in the common room later that night, of course, but Tegan wasn’t there and I felt a bit claustrophobic with the suffocating merriment and lack of oxygen. So I went up to my dormitory, hoping to get to bed early, but discovered Snorky Scamander sitting at his desk and writing furiously with his left hand, a single candle illuminating the room.
“Y’know you’ll hurt your eyes, writing in this poor light,” was the first thing I could think of to say to him.
But Snorky just turned to me slowly, his light blue eyes absolutely haunting. “So I hear that Tegan Llewellyn almost swallowed the Snitch today.”
“Yeah,” I confirmed. “It’s strange, my dad did the exact same thing during his first Quidditch match.”
“Gripping anecdote, James, but I’m a bit busy here,” said Snorky, turning to the stack of parchment sitting upon his desk.
“What’re you doing?” I asked, confused as to why I was making conversation with this slight sociopath.
He gave a sigh and turned to me once more. “You know Dumbledore’s Army, how my mum and your mum and dad were willing to fight for their rights and take a stand against evil?”
“Yeppers,” I replied, sitting on my bed and picking the blisters on my palm.
“I too am a man of action,” said Snorky, placing one of the sheets of parchment in an envelope and sealing it shut.
“Action against what, pray tell?”
“And that’s what distinguishes you and me,” said Snorky distantly.
“Is this about the Quidditch match?” I asked cautiously.
“It’s more than the just Quidditch match!” burst Snorky. “I was treated unfairly by that odious Longbottom and his blue-haired henchman, and I demand justice!”
“Well, Snorky, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re just not the best commentat—”
But my revelation was cut short when Snorky held up a large piece of parchment that said:
“Whaaa?” I gasped.
“I have formed a union for the oppressed public speakers of the wizarding world,” said Snorky matter-of-factly. “The purpose of the union is to protect its members from the unfair working conditions provided by the management.”
“I know what a union is,” I muttered.
“Then you’ll know why we have no choice but to band together,” said Snorky excitedly. “Professor Longbottom, and tyrants like him all over Britain, have pushed and pushed and pushed us workers to the brink!”
I took a breath. “All right, I have some questions for you. 1: Who is this ‘we’ you speak of, the people in your union? 2: You’re not actually paid for commentating, so you’re not actually a worker, so how can you start a workers’ union? 3: What are you on about, calling Longbottom a tyrant?”
“Very well, ye of little faith,” said Snorky flatly. “1: The ‘we’ of V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.,” he pronounced the letters individually, “is currently comprised of me, the alternate Hogwarts Quidditch commentator Cicero Phillips, and seven commentators for the British and Irish Quidditch League. I’m still waiting to hear from the rest of the League’s commentators and Noam Tennyson, the voice of the Wizarding Wireless Network.
“2: You’re completely missing my point. This union isn’t about wages or uncompensated labour: it’s about creative license. We orators cannot operate under the oppressive conditions we face; that is to say we cannot create enjoyable commentaries without adding the personal touch that is sorely lacking in commentaries today.
“3: Longbottom knows what he did. Everyone thinks he’s some hero and wonderful Herbology teacher and housemaster, but they neglect to see the dark side of Neville Longbottom.”
Snorky stared hard at the stone floor and gritted his teeth, clearly in infuriated concentration. This lasted several awkward minutes, until I chimed in.
“What will your union do, exactly?” I inquired.
Snorky looked up at me, eyes wide and defiant. “We will bring our demands to the negotiating table for management to review. If they refuse and deny us the Blarneyan gift of free gab, then we have no choice but to strike.”
“Okay, then,” I said simply, standing to leave. “But one more thing, Snorkers.”
“Don’t call me Snorkers,” he grumbled.
“Rethink the name,” I grinned.
“Vee Oh El Dee Ee Em Oh Are Tea is a perfectly clever acronym,” said Snorky.
“Say it with me, Scamander: Vol—de—mort.” I coolly walked away, unable to appear anything but smug.
“Vol—de—mort,” he repeated, then his face fell. “Oh…frick…”
“Toodles, Snorky!” I said brightly, opening the door.
“And to think I’ve already sent the press release to the Daily Prophet,” I thought I heard him mutter.
But I skipped down the stairs and was on my merry way. I could not sleep in my dormitory with a nutter such as Snorky and his union for V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T., and when I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw that the Gryffie victory party waged on. Out of options and in need of a good snuggle after a long day, I found Arlie, who was standing by the foot of the girls’ stair with a gaggle of her cool seventh-year friends.
“Arlie, is Tegan in her dormitory?” I asked, taking my fellow Chaser aside.
She looked at me slyly. “That she is, Cap’n. She’s doing her whole antisocial hermit thing. You know.”
I nodded, distracted by all the flashing lights and delightful cries of the partiers. “Arlie, could you maybe give me a lift—up?”
“Pardon, James?” she asked.
“Blokes can’t get into the girls’ dormitories just by walking in, but if you’re carried by a girl, the stair doesn’t turn into a slide, you see? I just need—a ride.”
She laughed loudly and cheerfully, then smirked at me. “You need me to carry you up cos I’ve got legs the size of tree trunks, yeah?”
I blushed. “For the record, they’re very nice tree trunk legs. I mean, not as nice as Tegan’s bird legs, but plenty of blokes prefer tree trunks. Like Drystan Davies.”
Arlie sighed. “He won’t talk to me, not after how the match ended. He’s being stubborn and he’s embarrassed that he fell for Tegan’s Wronski Feint.”
“Men,” I said dramatically. “But can you give me a lift? Please?”
She shrugged. “You’re at most 1% body fat, James. Hop on.”
I climbed on her back carefully and held on tight, and Arlie made her way up the stairs remarkably speedily. She deposited me at landing for the sixth years’ dormitory and bid adieu, hurrying back to her friends in the common room. I quickly ran my hands through my hair in a vain attempt to flatten it, then briskly knocked on Tegan’s door.
I thought I heard something melodic that wasn’t the thumping beats of the Lewd Wig record emanating from downstairs (frankly, I don’t think anything that “gangsta” releases can be considered melodic), but then there came a shuffling of feet and Tegan opened the door.
“James,” she said, surprised.
I gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “Arlie gave me a lift.”
“I see,” grinned Tegan, stepping aside to let me in. I took a seat on her bed, and she followed suit.
“How’s the party?” she asked, swinging her legs and grazing her feet along the floor.
“I suppose it’s the same old post-victory shindig,” I shrugged. “J.D.’s leading a chorus to I’m a Wizard, Checkit and Micah’s choreographing an interpretive dance.”
“I’ll never understand the appeal of Lewd Wig,” mused Tegan.
I cracked my knuckles and thought, trying to keep the conversation going. “Oh, and Snorky Scamander has started a union for disgruntled orators.”
Tegan blinked. “Pardon?”
“Yeah, there are actually some legitimate Quidditch commentators who have demonstrated interest so far in the,” I grabbed her wrist and checked her watch, “three or so hours since Snorky founded the union. Oh, and if Longbottom doesn’t apologize for something that he himself probably isn’t aware of, they’re going to strike.”
She chuckled. “Snorky and his little projects. I really hoped his quest for the Deathly Hallows would be the end of it.”
“And he calls the group V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.,” I added.
Tegan’s eyes bulged. “No, he can’t be that stupid, right?”
“Apparently there’s going to be a press release in the Prophet tomorrow,” I explained. “Personally, I’m not offended by a good Voldemort joke now and then, but it’s a bit too soon to be forming an organization in his name.”
“Oh Snorky,” said Tegan, sounding far-off, “you barmy little megalomaniac.”
I let my eyes wander around the girls’ dormitory, because although me and my mates had figured out a loophole to get up here, visits had to be scarce so as to not arouse suspicion. Tegan’s fifth of the room was by far the most chaotic and cluttered, from her crooked lavender comforter to the uneven Caerphilly Catapults poster and map of Wales on her wall to the dozen socks sprinkled around the floor. A framed photo of the Gryffies after our triumphal victory in the Quidditch final last year, fists pumped and mouths open in a silent cheer, was the only thing on Tegan’s nightstand, save a box of tea leaves. (Every good Quidditch player knows that soaking one’s palms in warm tea yields relief to even the deepest blisters.)
“Oi, what’s that?” I said suddenly, pointing behind Tegan.
“This is my guitar, James,” she said, gingerly picking up the wooden instrument and placing it in her lap. “I was playing it before you came up.”
“You play the guitar?” I spat, though not harshly.
Tegan nodded and smirked. “I’m full of surprises, aren’t I? My cousin Huw—I’ve told you about him, the 35-year-old son of my dead Uncle Dai who lives off the residuals from all the ‘Dangerous’ Dai Llewellyn merchandise they still sell—taught me the basics the summer before fourth year, until he was sent to prison for Apparating with a suspended license so many times. I’ve sort of taught myself since then, though my technique is probably crap and my E string is always out of tune.”
“You can play music,” I said, still in shock. “My only talent outside of Quidditch is burping the alphabet.”
“Take this,” said Tegan, handing over the guitar. She got down on the ground, reached under her bed, and pulled out a second guitar case.
“You have two?” I asked as she unpacked this funny-shaped red one and sat back down next to me.
“Three actually—an acoustic, amplified, and bass. My dad only buys me guitar stuff nowadays, cos I remind him of his brother. Uncle Dai was lead guitarist for the Weird Sisters before they became famous, but he had to quit when he was signed to the Catapults.”
“That is so Albus,” I mumbled.
She nodded. “I’m turning the sound down on the amped one here, and you’ve got the acoustic.”
“I want the pretty red one,” I whined.
“Shut your gob and repeat after me,” said Tegan sternly, arranging her left fingers and strumming with her right.
I twisted my face and tried to copy her, but a really crude sound erupted from my guitar, the kind of unmusical note normally found only in Lewd Wig songs.
“And that was a decent attempt at a G major chord,” said Tegan kindly. “Move your pointer finger more towards the centre of the fret—that’s it.”
I gave it another go and was delighted to discover a much more pleasant sound. “I can play the guitar!” I exclaimed giddily.
“Not yet you can’t,” said Tegan matter-of-factly, moving her left hand again and playing another note. “Let’s give C major a try.”
I attempted to mimic her, but failed again.
“No, that was a D major chord,” said Tegan. “Look more closely at my hands.”
But I couldn’t help but grin madly at her cute little face.
A/N: Well, I wrote this chapter quickly. It’s shorter and definitely not groundbreaking, but the picture of John Krasinski with blue hair is cool, eh? I apologize for any typos or general weirdness in this chapter, but I was really impatient getting it out.
Review please! I’m still sort of in shock that more than two people like this story, but all your support has really helped me get through a sort of difficult time in my life =).
And I really hope I haven’t offended any oboists! My good friend plays the oboe, and I actually play the cello, so I understand that sometimes us classical instrumentalists are looked down upon in society.
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