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We Gryffies by gryffindorseeker
Chapter 15 : On Ne Sait Jamais
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 63

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‘And that’s why you always hire a lawyer,’ said Dobby Longbottom, wisdom flowing out his ears. ‘In all honesty, James, I should have gone to Azkaban.’

‘What?’ I burst, utterly aghast. ‘No, you’ve done nothing wrong, Dobster! You help people and you don’t even charge for it!’

My most recent session with Dobby had quickly turned from focusing on me (I was relatively normal, for once) to him (he was under investigation by St Mungo’s).

‘Apparently the Licensing Board is really stringent about who gets to go around calling themselves Healer these days,’ Little Dobby mused. ‘Luckily, Arlie Shacklebolt’s dad stepped in and stopped them from pressing charges.’

‘You’re not shutting down your practice, are you?’ I cried. ‘What would I do without you, Dobby? You’re even helping J.D.! Course, something is still very wrong with J.D. and he is most definitely not my J.Dizzle, but I think you’re making progress!’

‘Calm yourself, James,’ said Dobby, so serene and glistening. ‘I’m not shutting down the practice…I’m just altering it a bit. I can’t call myself a Psychological Healer, or else someone might snitch on me and tell the Wizengamot.’

‘Who snitched on you in the first place?’ I demanded. ‘Who would betray you in such a way?’

My little godsend sighed. ‘I don’t know, James, but I’ve moved past it. I forgive whoever turned me in to the Licensing Board. I did break so many laws.’

I shook my head. ‘If breaking laws helps people, Dob-o, then what good are those laws? And back on subject: You can’t be my Psychological Healer anymore?’

Dobby shifted his eyes ‘round the room, then focused on me. ‘No, I am no longer your Psychological Healer in the formal sense,’ he said carefully. ‘Perhaps one day, when I graduate from Hogwarts and earn my Healer certification. But in the interim, I’ve discovered a flaw in the system.’

‘Yeah?’ I burst eagerly.

‘I am no longer Dobby Longbottom, Psychological Healer,’ said Dobby, sounding brave. ‘I am Dobby Longbottom, the Wizarding world’s first Analyst slash Therapist.’

‘Analyst/Therapist?’ I inquired. ‘What’s the difference between that and a Psychological Healer?’

‘For starters, I’m no longer a “medical professional”,’ said Dobby, making little quote signs with his fingers. ‘I am merely a counsellor, and my clients cannot bring a malpractice lawsuit before me. I’m no longer a fraudulent Healer. I am an Analyst/Therapist.’

I blinked. ‘Not much has changed?’

Dobby nodded carefully. ‘Counsellor. Not Healer. I am not licensed by anyone. I cannot write prescriptions for potions or give medical advice. This is what you tell people. You may not refer to me as a Psychological Healer, as the Wizengamot has written in their many letters of warning. Therefore, I have created a nearly identical practice under the guise of an Analyst/Therapist.’

‘Wish there was a quicker way of saying that,’ I mumbled.

‘No longer “Healer Longbottom”,’ said Dobby. ‘Not even “Medi-Wizard Longbottom”. I am simply Dobby Longbottom, a thirteen-year-old civilian who runs a non-profit Analyst/Therapist practice out of the Gryffindor common room.’

I patted his shoulder. ‘Not quite the visions of grandeur you were harbouring, yeah?’

He smiled faintly. ‘It will do. I will be a fully licensed Psychological Healer one day. For now, I must circumvent the bureaucracy.’

‘Fight the Man!’ I declared, sounding dangerously like Snorky Scamander.

‘All right, then,’ Dobby concurred. ‘You set with your appointment on—’

But before my sweet Analyst/Therapist could finish, J.D. walked by and very conspicuously tapped his nose. It was the Signal.

‘Sorry Dobs!’ I exclaimed, grabbing my book bag. ‘Urgent business to attend to! Sorry that the Ministry’s investigation didn’t go so well for you! Give Lily my love! Laters!’

I skipped towards the boys’ stair, a song in my heart and my head buzzing with excitement. It was finally December, one of my most favourite months, and V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.’s strike was nearly at the two-week mark. Neville, our stalwart, eye-patched head of house, did not budge, and neither did Snorky or his fellow orators. Quidditch was off indefinitely, at Hogwarts and in the professional league as well.

But I was reinvigorated. We Gryffies are a fidgety lot, and our busy minds must be occupied with some sort of stimulus at all times. Quidditch used to be that stimulus. But we had a new Project in the works.

I burst through the door of my dormitory and sat next to Tegan on my bed. J.D., Freddie, and Micah were assembled as well.

‘Arlie and Mattie?’ I spoke up, acting the leader. Tegan took my hand and laced her fingers through mine.

‘Sceptical,’ replied Freddie, his brows furrowed. ‘They’ve got their own stuff. And frankly, we’re better off as a five-some anyways.’

I nodded. ‘That brings us to our first order of business: Operation Rock Band. Let’s have a vote! Raise hands for the Yeas?’

J.D.’s hand shot up, and his face looked like Christmas had come early when Freddie, Tegan, and Micah raised their hands as well.

I lifted my hand that wasn’t playing with Tegan’s fingers to bring the Yeas to a unanimous victory. ‘S’pose we don’t need to bother with a vote for the Nays,’ I mused. ‘Resolution One: Operation Rock Band has clearance to proceed!’

Tegan squeezed my hand. ‘Why are we doing this, exactly? Cos there’s no more Quidditch?’

‘If we can’t show the school that we’re tops in Quidditch, then we’ll do it in music!’ exclaimed J.D., his usual air of nonchalance completely evaporated. ‘Being in a band encourages camaraderie and will help us express ourselves in non-violent ways!’

‘Right, so this half of your split personality really wants to be in a band,’ said Micah in his way. ‘Very well, I’m up for it. Question: Do any of us have any discernable musical ability? At all?’

I looked around the room at my three best mates and Tegan. Dressed in our school uniforms, striped ties and cloaks, we did not look like the Weird Sisters. And they’re awful.

‘I play guitar,’ Tegan spoke up. ‘I’ve been teaching James, too. He’s halfway decent.’

I gave her a quick hug. ‘Thanks, Tegs.’

‘My dad taught me a bit of bass guitar last summer,’ she continued. ‘Since we’ve got two guitarists, and we need a bassist, I’ll do it. Bass is far more important than lead guitar anyways. If you have a crap bassist, you have a crap band. And no one listens to the lead guitarist, not really.

‘Right,’ I piped up, trying to demonstrate my leadership as Cap’n. ‘Tegan’s on bass, I’m lead.’

‘Anyone else play an instrument?’ J.D. asked hopefully.

Micah coughed. ‘I…erm…have experience with the shofar.’

‘What?’ Freddie and Tegan chorused.

‘My synagogue’s regular Tokea became a born-again Christian the week before Rosh Hashanah, the year before I got my Hogwarts letter and found out I was a wizard and all that. He saw a preacher on telly and it apparently changed his life. My rabbi went batty, searching madly for a bloke with good lung capacity to blow the shofar, and then he found me,’ Micah explained. ‘I am now the Tokea for my synagogue during summer holidays. And I’ve gotten quite good at the shofar, if I may say so myself.’

‘Micah,’ I said carefully, ‘may I ask what a shofar is?’

He laughed. ‘It’s a ram’s horn that you blow into. It’s symbolic of somefing, I don’t know what.’

There was silence for a few long moments.

‘How can we integrate it into a rock band?’ asked Tegan.

Micah shrugged. ‘It’s used in classical music sometimes. We can be one of those crazy alterna-rock bands that whips out weird instruments every so often.’

‘Right,’ said J.D., sounding sedated. ‘J.S.: lead guitar. Tegan: bass guitar. Micah: shofar.’

‘We need a drummer,’ Freddie added. ‘Every band has a drummer.’

‘Wanna do it?’ J.D. asked.

Freddie smiled. ‘Sure. Seems like fun.’

‘Okay,’ said Tegan, thinking aloud and still playing with my fingers, ‘we need to get James’s guitar skills up to scratch. Fredders, you’re going to have to teach yourself percussion. We don’t need perfect form, we just need a good beat.’

J.D. looked solemn, and regarded us all in turn. ‘I…I will be the singer.’

‘Can you sing?’ asked Micah.

J.Dizzle cleared his throat. ‘Yo, hey yo, hey yo, hey yo! Wazzup ma peeps, wot be hangin’? I’m a wizard, checkit! Hey yo! I’m a wizard, checkit! Hey yo! I’m supa fly, I’m a wizard—

‘Great,’ Tegan interrupted.

‘Gruff,’ I commented. ‘Manly. Good.’

‘Um, you’re good enough at rapping, and singing isn’t much different. It’s just yelling at different pitches. But no Lewd Wig covers,’ said Tegan firmly. ‘Agreed, mates?’

There was reluctance from J.D. and Micah, but they eventually conceded.

‘So we’ve each got our job,’ said Freddie. ‘But we need a name, yeah? For our band? All bands have names.’

And so, we Gryffies entered the zone of Deep Thought for nearly fifteen minutes, ferociously brainstorming hopelessly clever names for our inevitably spectacular band.

‘How about The Gryffies?’ Tegan finally spoke up.

The rest of the lads agreed. Simple, cool, and totally Albus.

‘We have a name,’ I thought aloud. ‘A lead vocalist, a lead guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and a Tokea.’

‘We need instruments,’ said Fred. ‘I mean, I’ve got to teach myself the drums from scratch.’

‘And practice space,’ I added. ‘We can’t very well practice in the common room, and the acoustics in our dormitory are dreadful.’

‘Frick,’ muttered J.D. ‘And the idea was so perfect. But we’re a band without instruments or much ability.’

But Tegan, sitting up taller and smirking, simply said, ‘Dad.’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘And H.U.W.,’ she said quickly. ‘Gryffies, my dad’s loaded our attic with totally boss guitars and basses and drums. My mam hates music and the attic is the only room in our house where Dad’s allowed to do his own thing, so he’s filled it with music stuff. I think he bought himself a balalaika for his birthday, just to infuriate her.’

‘That’s great,’ said J.D., downtrodden but optimistic. ‘But we’re in school. In Scotland. How’re we supposed to get to Ireland for band practice?’

‘I’m from Wales! Not Ireland!’ Tegan snapped. ‘And if my dad gives us permission to use the attic, I happen to have a cousin who loves to solve problems by finding loopholes.’

‘H.U.W.?’ I clarified, being the only Gryffie to have met the nutterbutter. ‘D’you really want him smuggling us out of the castle?’

‘We’ll smuggle ourselves out,’ said Tegan, the voice of reason. ‘He’ll help us with the long-distance transportation. And it shouldn’t be an issue if we go once per week. Saturdays will provide us the most efficient use of time. I’ve got to write my dad. And H.U.W. too.’

She hopped over to my desk and grabbed a piece of parchment and quill.

‘Hedwig’ll be able to find an itinerant magician with the intelligence of a parsnip, yeah?’ Tegan called, referring to my owl.

‘I reckon so!’ I replied.

J.D. grinned madly and rubbed his hands together. ‘This is it. This is really happening.’

Micah poked him ‘Wot’s wrong with you, anyways? You’ve been so cheerful for the past few weeks.’

‘I’ve decided that I’m going to make my own luck from now on,’ said J.D. excitedly. ‘I can’t keep blaming everyone for my poor choices. Fancy New J.D. has achieved a higher level of self-actualisation that you’re ever likely to reach, Micah. No offence.’

‘I think he’s lost it!’ Micah whisper-shouted to Freddie.

‘But you love Hagrid and Teddy Lupin,’ said Tegan as we headed down to the former’s cabin. ‘Why don’t you want to have tea with them?’

It was Sunday afternoon and we were doing our best to find Hagrid’s cabin. I always seem to forget where it is, even though I visit Hagrid at least once a month. It’s like it moves ‘round on its own, or summat.

‘Of course I love Hagrid and Teddy Lupin,’ I insisted, stumbling over the uneven terrain of the Hogwarts grounds. ‘I just don’t love Hagrid’s cooking.’

‘Teddy Lupin said that you should pay more attention to Hagrid,’ said Tegan, lecturing. ‘He’s getting on in years and he won’t be around forever. Plus, we get to see Teddy Lupin outside of class, and Teddy Lupin’s no fun when he’s trying to teach us things. Besides, I showed you how to deftly hide icky foods in your napkin.’

We finally found Hagrid’s cabin, hiding behind the stands of the Quidditch pitch. Seeing the ol’ stands made me nostalgic for a time long past, a time just over two weeks ago before politics took away our Quidditch.

‘Hagrid’s house definitely wasn’t here a fortnight ago,’ remarked Tegan as she knocked on the door.

‘It was over by the tannenbaum grove, yeah?’ I asked.

She nodded, and for a brief moment I considered the consideration that Tegan coerced me into visiting Hagrid on this particular occasion. Don’t get me wrong, I love the old man like he’s my massive, woolly great uncle. Sometimes he comes ‘round our house for holidays and such, and he always gives fun, albeit hazardous, Christmas gifts. But I wracked my brain as I stood on the step that afternoon, unable to recall actually agreeing to this tea party. Is Tegan some sort of master manipulator, manipulating impressionable young men like myself without us even realising it?

‘I know that look,’ she said, peering my way. ‘You’re either suffering from indigestion or you’re paranoid about something.’

Sweet Livia’s knickers! It’s worse than I feared!

Then the thick door opened, and ol’ Hagrid beamed down at us. ‘Yer here! ‘Bout time too, yer tea was gettin’ cold.’

‘Sorry, Hagrid,’ said Tegan as she stepped inside and took off her scarf. ‘Your hut’s moved again.’

Hagrid furrowed his bushy eyebrows. ‘Don’ know what yer on about, Tegan. I never have any trouble findin’ the place.’

‘Hullo Hagrid,’ I piped up, stepping inside behind Tegan and shutting the door behind me, and with it the cold winter air.

The groundskeeper/Care of Magical Creatures teacher turned to me and gave a wide, toothy grin. ‘There y’are, James. Yeh look even skinnier than the las’ time yeh were down ‘ere! Let’s feed you up, then. I baked plenty of rock cakes fer all o’ yeh.’

I winced and Tegan elbowed me. Oh, she is good.

‘How are you, Professor Lupin?’ said Tegan as she strode towards the table in Hagrid’s tiny hut.

‘Very well, Tegan. Thank you for asking,’ replied Teddy Lupin.

Teddy Lupin! I’d nearly forgot!

‘Teddy Lupin!’ I exclaimed, bounding over to the Defence master and giving him a great big hug.

He patted me on the back cautiously. ‘Oh my, quite the vice grip you’ve got there, James.’

I let him loose and sat beside Tegan. It was tight, four chairs at a table built to accommodate two.

‘Hi Teddy Lupin,’ I said a bit more soberly. ‘How’s Auntie Dromeda?’

Teddy Lupin sighed and took a sip of his tea. ‘Professor Lupin, James. Not sure why I have to constantly go over this with you. And Gran is doing very well, healthy as a hippogriff. I’ll send her your love.’

I giggled. ‘Oh Teddy Lupin, we aren’t even in class right now, so I hardly see the harm in calling you Teddy Lupin. Considering that’s your name.

Tegan rolled her eyes and turned her attention to Hagrid, who was busying himself in his wee kitchenette. ‘How are lessons going for you this year, Hagrid?’ she inquired. ‘Er, since we had to drop Care of Magical Creatures this year. To make room for N.E.W.T. revision, you see. For next year. You have to start early, you see.’

‘It’s goin’ real well, Tegan. Thanks fer askin’,’ replied Hagrid passive-aggressively. I still feel dreadful for dropping his class, but I’m not very good with animals. Dad says I shouldn’t beat myself up about it, cos Care of Magical Creatures isn’t for everyone.

Teddy Lupin, an intuitive individual, deftly changed the subject. ‘So, how’s the Quidditch strike treating you Gryffies?’

‘Splendidly!’ I said.

‘What James means is that we’re forming a rock band,’ Tegan translated.

‘Right.’ I nodded with vigour. ‘I do like Quidditch, and I was rather upset until a few days ago, when J.D. got the brilliant idea of starting a band. I mean, he’s been all out of sorts since his amicable breakup with Rosie and I suspect he’s gotten a personality replacement, but it’s an excellent and completely original idea for a new way for us to spend our time.’

‘We’re called The Gryffies,’ added Tegan, ‘and please don’t ask where we’re going to practice so we don’t have to lie to you.’

Hagrid shuffled over and set a large platter of his infamous rock cakes upon the table. ‘Here y’are! Dig in while I tidy up the kitchen.’

As soon as he turned his back, Teddy Lupin took a rock cake and carefully folded it in his napkin. Tegan and I did the same.

‘You’re forming a rock band?’ Teddy Lupin clarified. ‘Say, have you spoken with Tawny Faraday in the past five days?’

‘No,’ said Tegan. ‘Why do you ask?’

Teddy Lupin tilted his head to the side and looked distant. ‘Oh, it probably isn’t in my place to say. Er, I’ll let you find out for yourself.’

‘Do you know if Neville has considered any of Snorky and V.O.L.D.E.M.O.R.T.’s demands?’ I asked him.

Teddy Lupin started to make chewing noises, and motioned for me and Tegan to do the same. ‘Oh, he’s a stubborn one, Professor Longbottom is,’ answered Teddy. ‘He intends to wait for public opinion to turn against Snorky.’

Hagrid turned back ‘round and we all started dramatically fake chewing. ‘Hogwarts sure has changed since my day,’ he remarked. ‘No one cared two knuts ‘bout politics!’

Teddy Lupin faked swallowed. ‘Hogwarts has changed since my day too, Hagrid.’

Tegan and I followed suit with the fake swallowing. ‘Don’t associate us with Snorky Scamander just because he’s in our year and our house,’ she said. ‘He’s insane and I’ll never understand him.’

‘Don’t be so quick to write off Snorky, Tegan,’ said Teddy Lupin oh so wisely. ‘Yes, he’s absolutely barmy, but you’ve got to watch out for the ones like him. The nutty ones are the most likely to crack one day. And speaking of nuts, do I taste walnut in these rock cakes, Hagrid?’

Hagrid smiled brightly. ‘Aye! I’m experimentin’ with the recipe—’

‘Mm,’ Teddy Lupin interrupted. ‘That, let me assure you, is a winning combination right there. Right, James and Tegan?’

Our responses were muffled, but I think I was the one to say ‘Indubitably!’ while Tegan went with ‘You know it!’

‘There’s plenty more!’ Hagrid insisted, gesturing to the mostly full platter of rock cakes.

I looked to Teddy Lupin, who looked to Tegan, who looked about to be sick. ‘I’m,’ she stuttered, more unsurely than compulsively, ‘allergic to nuts!’

And then she fell over in her chair.

‘I just about stopped breathing in there!’ I exclaimed as I accompanied Tegan from the hospital wing to Gryffindor Tower thirty minutes later. ‘No more fake allergic reactions!’

She just grinned. ‘I got us out of there, right?’

‘It was quick thinking,’ I agreed. ‘I’ll give you that.’

‘It would be bloody brilliant if we had the Cloak of Invisibility right about now,’ Micah grumbled, tripping slightly while climbing through the Fat Lady’s portrait hole. ‘I’m just saying, of all the Deathly Hallows, we would find it most useful at this particular moment.’

‘My dad locked it up in Gringotts,’ I murmured as I peered down the corridor, not really listening to Micah. ‘I did manage to nick the Marauder’s Map, if it’s any consolation. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

That very next Saturday, I found me and my Gryffies (my band Gryffies, which is the Quidditch Gryffies minus two) sneaking out of Gryffindor Tower at half seven (they have one of those in the morning!), all five of us dressed in black from our knitted caps to our trousers to our trainers. It was debatable just how inconspicuous we were in the corridor (Micah had certainly found enough to complain about), but there was the slimmest of chances that anyone in the castle would be up and about this early on a non-Quidditch Saturday.

I held up the Map and searched for any moving dots. ‘Viridian’s in his chambers,’ I said in a voice just above a whisper. ‘Neville isn’t even in the castle—hopefully he’s with Hannah at the Leaky Cauldron. Mr Bleck and Spiny Norman the Hedgehog seem to be patrolling by the Astronomy Tower. All the prefects appear to be safe in their beds, and Medb Feidlech too. Cousin Octo is in the library…figures.’

‘So we’ve got a clear route to the Entrance Hall?’ asked J.D. frantically. He’d had an appointment with Dobby Longbottom (the Analyst/Therapist) earlier in the week but he still was a bit…out of sorts.

‘H.U.W. promised he’d be waiting by the tannenbaum grove, by the edge of the grounds,’ Tegan said, uncharacteristically nervous.

‘All right, Gryffies,’ I said hesitantly. ‘Let’s go.’

We all ran at different paces, and you couldn’t qualify what most of us were doing as running. I was sort of bouncing…forgive me for always having a skip in my step! Tegan was galloping, J.D. was swanky-sprinting, and Freddie ambled along like a bear struck by some sort of tranquiliser spell. And Micah…well, Micah ran just fine. He’s the only Muggle-born among us and is probably the only Gryffie with much experience running. Wizards tend to avoid running whenever possible.

What with my bouncy running, I couldn’t keep an eye on the Marauder’s Map. This really ought not have been a concern…who were we going to run into at half seven on a Saturday morning?

We made it all the way to the Entrance Hall before we spotted the Slytherin Quidditch team, and they spotted us. Or, at least it was their five best players: Jack Murdoch, Nick Vanderberg, Scorpius Malfoy, Kate Nott, and Evander LeGrander. Most suspiciously, they were all dressed in black as well, and performing five different variations of running.

All ten of us skidded to a halt when it became clear that we could ignore each other no longer.

‘Oi Potter!’ Murdoch called softly. ‘Erm…where are you going?’

I thought carefully, determined to craft a clever retort.

‘None of your business, Murdoch!’ I said in a harsh whisper.

We sized the Slytherins up as they sized us up.

‘You forming a troupe of mimes?’ Kate Nott asked.

‘I should say the same for you lot!’ J.D. fired back, almost sounding like my J.Dizzle again.

‘Hold up, now,’ said Freddie calmly. ‘None of us are doing anything wrong, right? And if we find ourselves getting into any sort of mischief in the near future, we don’t need to turn each other in, yeah?

Evander LeGrander grunted. ‘But then wot satisfaction would we get?’

‘You wouldn’t get any satisfaction if you got detention too!’ said Tegan. ‘Er, if you were to get into any mischief. And if we were to get into any mischief. Hypothetically, of course.’

‘Murdoch, why don’t we just tell them?’ suggested Scorpius Malfoy, who looked quite tired. ‘It’s not like we’re doing anything criminal.

‘I call the shots, Malfoy!’ snapped Murdoch.

‘Give it a rest, Peisistratus,’ said Nick Vanderberg. ‘We’re forming a rock band.’

Simultaneously, we five Gryffies gasped.

‘Why do you always do this?’ asked Murdoch, riled up. ‘Why do you always have to ruin everything, Vanderberg?’

‘Shut your gob, Murdoch,’ said Vanderberg menacingly. ‘Gryffindors, we’re going off-site for the day to hold band practice. The acoustics in this castle are abominable, plus it’s too complicated to Summon instruments from hundreds of miles away.’

‘Are you serious?’ Micah spoke up. ‘We’re doing the exact same thing, almost!’

J.D. groaned and whacked Micah upside the head. ‘You’re worse than Vanderberg, Horo!’

Yay! It appears that my J.Dizzle is getting better and more and more like his old self by the minute!

‘Well…your band will probably be bollocks,’ said Kate Nott with a sneer.

‘If it is, then your band will only be half the bollocks ours is!’ Tegan fought back.

‘I bet your band name is rubbish!’ Malfoy laughed.

‘Fine, then! You first! What’s your band called?’ I asked.

‘Hardcore Buzzkill,’ said Murdoch, all smarmy-like.

Blast! That’s a fantastic band name!

‘Oi Murdoch, I bet they’re just called The Gryffies, or something equally rubbish!’ exclaimed Vanderberg.

‘Step off!’ exclaimed Micah. ‘The Gryffies is a brilliant name for a band!’

‘You wanna duel, Horowitz?’ challenged Evander LeGrander, stepping before Micah and standing a head taller.

‘No, come on!’ I said. ‘We’re gonna duel cos we’re both forming rock bands and we want to turn each other in for sneaking out of the castle? This is ridiculous! Why can’t we just forget about this little confrontation and go about our merry ways?’

Murdoch clicked his tongue. ‘Yes, Potter is right. Sure, Gryffies, we’ll go quietly. On one condition.’

‘Why’s it always about conditions with you, Murdoch?’ I asked, tired.

‘Cos that’s my thing,’ he snapped. ‘We’ll go quietly on the condition that you lot agree to a battle of the bands.’

‘What?’ asked Freddie.

‘A shred-off, of sorts,’ said Murdoch. ‘Our two bands compete in front of a body of unbiased peers, a vote is taken, and a winner is declared. So what say you, Cap’n Potter? Willing to stake you and your mates’ reputation for a bit of fun?’

I glanced ‘round to my Gryffies, then looked back to Murdoch. ‘Sure. We’ll do this battle of the bands thing.’

‘The night before the Christmas holiday,’ said Murdoch. ‘Gives you just less than three weeks.’

‘Perfect,’ I replied, momentarily forgetting that only two out of our five band members had any sort of musical talent. And I’d never even heard of the instrument Micah could play.

Murdoch held out his hand, and I took it. We shook, unknowingly sealing our respective destinies.

A/N: Hullo all! This chapter is the direct result of my expert procrastination of studying for exams. Let’s all hope I don’t flunk out of school and become a hobo!

I originally intended for this chapter to be band practice…I guess we didn’t get that far. We’ll save it for Chapter 16.

I’m doing my best to keep up with responding to all the reviews, and keep ‘em comin’! Thank you so much for even reading this far (it’s well over novel-length already), but you reviewers are a particularly super awesome variety of the fantastic people who read about the Gryffies’ shenanigans.

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