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Chapter 20 : The Jacobean Faction
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24 December, 2021
24 December, 2021
Had a good cry. Think the worst is behind me. I have a new pygmy puff by the way, and she is called Betsy.
24 December, 2021
Remembered how Betsy came into my possession. Had another crying fit.
24 December, 2021
Had a long talk with Mum. Really put things into perspective. Am definitely better now.
24 December, 2021
Dad tried to talk to me. He said a certain person’s name so I started crying again. Mum is now yelling at him for upsetting me. Am going to sleep now. Hopefully Father Christmas will come and fix everything.
25 December, 2021
Everything isn’t fixed. Everything is WRONG.
25 December, 2021
I don’t even believe in Father Christmas anymore. This is a very simple fix. All he needs is a Time-Turner and the ability to perform a Memory Charm and that’s it. Everything would be perfect again. But if Father Christmas can’t make this very low-hassle Christmas wish come true, then he obviously DOESN’T EXIST!!!!
25 December, 2021
Am experiencing existential crisis as a direct result of the epiphany that Father Christmas is imaginary. Also, started crying again because Mum said I could have a slice of pie for breakfast if I wanted.
WHY IS EVERYONE SO INSENSITIVE??? A CERTAIN PERSON HELPED BAKE THAT PIE!!!
Dobby Longbottom looked up from reading my Imagination Journal. We had to hold sessions in his dormitory because of the slim likelihood that a certain person would be there.
‘While I do think that reviewing your Imagination Journal will ultimately be beneficial,’ he said, ‘is there an entry where you begin to break through this melancholy?’
I thought and thought. ‘Er…I might have broken through something in yesterday’s entry. The second to last entry, I mean.’
Dobby flipped through the pages and read aloud this time.
‘Thursday, the 27th of January, 2022. 5.23 p.m.
‘Professor McGregor died. It’s kind of a big deal, but I forgot to write it down ‘til now. She died a few days after Christmas after putting a fork in a toaster before unplugging it. It was the last great lesson in Muggle studies she will ever teach us.
‘Teddy Lupin is our new Muggle Studies teacher. Dawlish took his DADA job back at the start of the new term but Viridian managed to track down Teddy Lupin when the new vacancy opened up. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to lose my Teddy Lupin, even though we lost McGregor.
‘Teddy Lupin doesn’t think he’s qualified to teach Muggle Studies, but apparently all of the Wizarding world’s foremost experts on Muggles think the job is cursed. Ha ha. Anyways, Teddy Lupin is trying very hard to do his best, even though Dawlish throws things at him during meals sometimes. But it is not Teddy Lupin’s fault that everyone likes him better than Dawlish, just as it is not Teddy Lupin’s fault that he never studied Muggle Studies or sat the O.W.L. or the N.E.W.T. or even met a Muggle until last year when Granddad Weasley brought one to Christmas Eve dinner.’
He met him at bingo, Granddad did. The Muggle, not Teddy Lupin. Granddad met Teddy Lupin…hmm, probably before I was even born.
‘Ah, now we’re getting somewhere,’ said Dobby Longbottom, adjusting his lens-less glasses. ‘You didn’t mention Teg—a certain person in this entire entry, plus you made reference to Christmas Eve without upsetting yourself!’
‘I did?’ I said.
‘This is splendid progress,’ said Dobby. ‘It’s taken more than a month, James, but I’m certain that you’re moving in a positive direction. I should make a note for my book, though the publisher won’t like another last minute change.’
‘Book?’ I asked.
‘Of course,’ he said. ‘The self-help book I’m writing. I have a galley proof right here.’
Dobby handed me a medium-sized hardcover volume without much embellishment or decoration on the front. It said:
Uncovering The Truth About Your Misadventures In Love
And Coming To Terms With The Fact That It Probably Is Your Fault
By D. Francis Longbottom, A/T
‘It is set for release on the fourteenth of February,’ said Dobby, ‘but who is Philip—he’s my publisher—kidding when he says that last week was too late to make any changes? It’s a magical printing press! How can there be deadlines? It’s magic!’
‘D. Francis Longbottom?’ I said.
‘Oh, yeah,’ said Dobby. ‘No one’s going to buy a self-help book written by an analyst/therapist named Dobby, and my real first name is Frank. But Frank doesn’t have quite the right connotation either, so for the purposes of this book I’m Francis. And I inverted my first and middle names to stop anyone from realising that I’m a kid, because then no one will really buy the book. Frank Dobby Longbottom, Dobby Frank Longbottom, D. Francis Longbottom…you see? No one will ever make the connection.’
‘You’re writing a book?’ I breathed.
‘Yes, but don’t tell anyone,’ he said. ‘Top secret penname, remember? And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to change all the parts where I mention you by name. Philip never complains when it’s about changing patients’ names and protecting the publishing company from legal ramifications!’
‘But…why are you writing a book?’
‘To help people,’ Dobby answered. ‘I’ve developed a program that I think will be of use to a lot of people. And there’s only so much I can do as a third-year Hogwarts student without any actual Ministry certification.’
If I hadn’t already been lying down, I would’ve needed to lie down. ‘And I’m in your book?’
‘Right now I have you as James P., but that can easily be changed,’ said Dobby. ‘How about…Baxter? Baxter van der Hoof?’
I shrugged. ‘Sounds good to me. But Dobby, or D. Francis, or whatever you want to be called: Whenever did you find the time to write an entire self-help book?’
‘I’ve had the idea in my head for nearly six months now,’ explained Dobby. ‘I’ve only done the actual writing since the new year…now that McGregor is dead, I have a lot of spare time when I used to have to pay attention in Muggle Studies. And I wrote the manuscript and found a publisher without any real difficulty…it’s not like publishing a book is hard, you know.’
My nose was still scrunched up in shock. ‘You wrote a book, Dobster! In January! What’ve I done in January? Lazed about, feeling sorry for myself—’
‘James,’ said Dobby matter-of-factly, ‘you’ve endured a tremendous amount of emotional stress. You’ve spent the past month healing and growing stronger. This is no small feat, especially considering the devastation you felt at Christmastime.’
‘But so what?’ I said, more testily than I intended. ‘What it comes down to is that you wrote a book while I accomplished nothing! Merlin, could I be more of a waste of space?’
‘James!’ he said. ‘Remember that positive state of mind you were in a few minutes ago? Let’s return to that—’
‘You’re barely fourteen!’ I continued. ‘And you’ve managed to maintain a longer-term relationship that I ever have! And you wrote a book!’
‘Calm yourself!’ said Dobby. ‘Deep breaths, from the diaphragm!’
‘No!’ I said, sounding at least a decade younger than I actually was. ‘No, I will not breathe from the diaphragm! I’ve been wiling away the hours in self-pity and malaise while everyone else was running around and getting into shenanigans and publishing books! I am sorry Dobby, but I am angry and I need to leave!’
For the first time ever, I left a counselling session with D. Francis Longbottom (or was it Frank Dobby Longbottom?) in an irate and blinding huff. For all intents and purposes, I was in the middle of a tantrum as I trudged up the steps from the third-year boys’ dormitory to the sixth. But maturity had never been my forte, and as everybody knows, you cannot teach a geriatric Quidditch team new strategy.
In spectacularly childish form, I threw open the door to my dormitory and saw only Micah, who was sitting on his bed and reading one of those wizard’s magazines that only pretentious and upwardly-mobile blokes read.
But I read Witch Weekly, so I wasn’t one to talk.
‘What’s got your knickers in the proverbial twist?’ said Micah lazily as I collapsed on my bed with a dramatic flourish and started to scream into my pillow.
‘Oh, nothing, except for the fact that I’ve wasted the past month of my life!’ I exclaimed, taking a break from the into-pillow-screaming.
‘Jimmy, you’ve wasted the past sixteen years of your life,’ he remarked, turning the page of his glossy magazine.
‘Don’t fricking call me Jimmy!’ I said, exasperated. ‘What the bloody hell would compel you to call me Jimmy?’
‘Christ, let it go, Jimmy,’ said Micah, putting down his magazine. ‘I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re not the only Gryffie to battle the vicious demons of heartbreak.’
‘She’s not a Gryffie!’ I snapped. ‘She’s out of the club! And so are you! So is everybody!’
He just rolled his eyes. ‘Typical Jimmy Potter-type activity. You don’t even recognise when your brother is just as wounded as you are.’
I raised an eyebrow. ‘Is Al okay? Is he bleeding from the head or something?’
‘You’re so literal today, Jim,’ said Micah. ‘As I was saying, it is so like you to be entirely ignorant of the misfortune of one of your closest and dearest friends, namely me.’
‘What’re you on about, Michers?’ I asked.
He gave a long sigh. ‘It pains me to inform you that Madeleine, your cousin, and I have parted ways.’
‘Like you broke up?’ I said.
‘Always the tactful one, yeah, Jimmy? But yes, you are correct. The love that Madeleine and I once shared has died.’
I felt something swell in my throat. ‘Oh…sorry.’
But Micah wasn’t really listening to me. ‘Yes, that ruthless she-devil of a cousin of yours—no offence—let our pure, beautiful love die.’
‘I genuinely am sorry,’ I told him. ‘I mean, I understand what you’re going through.’
‘Indeed, she let our love die,’ said Micah wistfully. ‘Erm…perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she let our lust die. Yes…that ruthless she-devil let our lust die.’
‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ I said hollowly.
Micah sighed. ‘Someday you’ll understand, Jimmy. Someday you’ll understand just how insensitive people can be when you have lost the lust of your life. It’s like…it’s like they don’t even give a care about your suffering, about the suffering of others.’
I clenched my teeth. ‘Don’t…call…me…Jimmy.’
He smiled dreamily. ‘You’re such a card, Jim—ames—y. Such a card.’
Just then, a burly cousin of mine burst through the doorway. ‘Has anyone got a copy of The Ostentatious Wizard’s Monthly?’ cried Freddie. ‘The most recent issue?’
Micah picked up his magazine. ‘Yes. Why?’
Fred bounded over and snatched the periodical from Micah. ‘He’s on the cover! Snorky Scamander is on the cover!’
He held up the magazine for me to see and, without a doubt, there was a moving photograph of the one and only Snorky Scamander, dressed in a very dapper suit and moving between an arms-crossed pose and one of those poses where you make a fist and place it under your chin, even though there’s nothing to rest your elbow on, like he couldn’t decide which looked better. Next to his photograph were the words: Snorkack X. Scamander: The Wizard Schoolboy Whose Orators’ Strike Is Singlehandedly Destroying The Economy of Wizarding Britain – And Why There May Be An End In Sight.
I glared at Micah. ‘Why the frick didn’t you mention that there’s an article on Snorky in your stupid magazine?’
Micah peered at the cover. ‘It’s not my fault for missing the resemblance…didn’t recognise Snorky with his hair combed. And naturally you’ve forgotten, Jim, but I was recently traumatised by the disintegration of my relationship with your cousin.’
‘Quiet, children, or I’ll make you use the conch shell,’ said Freddie. ‘I am now going to read the interview aloud.
‘The Ostentatious Wizard’s Monthly: Thank you again for allowing us a rare interview, Mr Scamander. If we may be so bold, what exactly prompted you to call for a strike of all speaking professionals across Britain?
‘Snorkack Scamander: Some call it pride, but more than anything, this strike is about a Quidditch commentator or radio personality’s inalienable right to say whatever he or she wants without fear of censorship, either by the Ministry or their employer. That’s why I founded my union, the Voices Of Largely Disappointed, Exploited, and Maltreated Orators Ready to Talk. The response from my orator comrades was immediate and encouraging; there was a definite need for this union. But more than anything, I’d say it was the needlessly cruel and oppressive policies of Professor Neville Longbottom that caused this strike.
‘TOWM: Fascinating, Mr Scamander. And how is Quidditch tied into all of this? All of the professional clubs as well as the Hogwarts house teams are striking as well, yes?
‘SS: Well, Quidditch and commentating go together like pumpkin juice and pumpkin pasties. When I first threatened the strike, the students of Hogwarts were very compassionate towards my plight, and the Quidditch captains made the wise decision to appeal to the masses and strike with me if necessary. As you know, it was necessary, and the professional Quidditch players followed the lead of their amateur compatriots and agreed to strike with their commentators.
‘TOWM: Mr Scamander, are you aware that without the revenue from ticket and merchandise sales, as well as the significant dip in tourism we have seen, losing the Quidditch industry has been a major blow to the British economy?
‘SS: Yes, I am aware. One must make sacrifices whilst fighting for justice and freedom.
‘TOWM: And are you also aware that since the Wizarding Wireless Network has been defunct for months now, the Ministry lacks the supplementary revenue gained from the WWN’s adverts to fund social welfare and infrastructure projects?
‘SS: One word: sacrifice.
‘TOWM: Tell us, Mr Scamander, is there any chance that the strike will end before the country tumbles into a devastating and possibly irreversible economic depression?
‘SS: [pauses] There is a chance, yes. I am currently in talks with the head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports as well as the headmaster of Hogwarts School. A new friend of mine—to whom Quidditch is nearly as important as her happiness is to me—has persuaded me to more proactively seek a conclusion to this strike. But I will not concede unless all of my demands are met, because for better or for worse, I have integrity and I am not afraid to use it.’
We were all catatonic for a few minutes.
‘Freddie, who told you that Snorky was in The Ostentatious Wizard’s Monthly?’ said Micah very quietly.
‘An anonymous tipster,’ Fred replied automatically.
I thought for a moment. ‘Boys, let’s shanghai Snorky when he comes back to our dormitory.’
‘I haven’t seen him in a while,’ said Micah. ‘In a week, or somefing.’
Freddie shook his head. ‘Snorky isn’t coming back here. I mean, he might, one day, but he’s moved all his things into Ravenclaw Tower with his smart friends. Or so I’ve been told.’
‘Are you allowed to do that?’ I asked. ‘Switch houses?’
‘I dunno,’ said Fred. ‘No one’s ever tried before.’
I reached under my bed and took out a large tin of Honeydukes chocolate. Then, I wrenched the top open and proceeded to stuff chocolates in my mouth.
After I swallowed nearly a dozen truffles and nougats whole, Micah asked, ‘What’re you doing?’
‘Eating my feelings!’ I shouted, bits of chocolate flying out of my mouth.
‘James, there’s no need to yell,’ said Fred stoically, though with a hint of scepticism.
‘I can yell if I want to! You can’t tell me what to do!’ I burst, grabbing more chocolates to ingest without chewing.
Freddie looked over at Micah. ‘What the bloody hell is his problem?’
Micah shrugged, high amounts of ennui emanating from his soul. ‘Dunno. He’s been irritable and quarrelsome all afternoon. It’s like he’s become his evil twin or somefing…oi, I know! He’s gotten over Tega—a certain person and he’s switched personalities, like J.D. did when he lost Rose! James isn’t James anymore…he’s Jimmy the Evil Twin!’
I threw the box of chocolates at Micah’s stupid head. ‘Shut the frick up, I’m sitting right here! And stop calling me Jimmy!’
But Freddie ignored my tantrum. ‘You’ve got a point there, Micahnator. Instead of Fancy New J.D., we’ve got Jim Potter on our hands.’
Micah was rummaging through his bedside table drawer for his first aid kit, from which he extracted a bandage and affixed it to the bruise on his head that the Honeydukes tin had caused. ‘Why thank you, Fred. See, I’m as psychologically insightful as that ruddy little Longbottom boy.’
I jumped up off my bed. ‘Shut your gob! You’re only half the psychological genius that D. Francis Longbottom is! And that’s all you’ll ever be, you…you…mudblood.’
The room went silent, and Freddie and Micah looked more shocked than anything. Rude words fade and evolve over the generations, but “mudblood” was still a potent and horrific insult. I’d never even said it before that moment, and I never would again.
‘Well,’ said Micah after several minutes of calculated thinking, ‘you’re just a sad little poofter who fails miserably at faking straight.’
I had never seen Fred’s eyes look wider. ‘The conch,’ he said, mumbling as he searched through the mountains of debris on the floor. ‘Gotta find the conch, maybe it’ll help us sort this out.’
Right then, always known for his impeccable timing, J.D. opened the door and swanky-walked into the dormitory. ‘Hullo, my fellow Gryffies,’ he said with a triumphant smirk. ‘How are we this afternoon. Terrible weather, just a terrible blizzard outside. I mean, I like snow, but not when there’s avalanche warnings for the mountains.’
Micah, who had been glaring daggers at me the whole time, gave a loud huff and quickly strode out of the room. Freddie stopped looking for our conch shell and glanced at me, more concerned than angry. J.D., standing casually with his hands in his pockets, probably didn’t realise that anything was out of the ordinary.
‘Fine,’ I said through gritted teeth. ‘We’re doing just fine. And if you don’t mind, don’t drop any innuendos about you and Rosie. I don’t have the energy to deal with your and her lust and Micah and Madeleine’s lack of lust today.’
I sat back on my bed, sort of regretting that I’d wasted the last of my chocolate by throwing the tin at Micah’s head, and took out the copy of Witch Weekly that I hid beneath my mattress. I flipped open to the Quizzes section (the best part of any magazine, of course; this week it was “Is Your Crush Crushing On You Back?”) and grabbed a quill in my left hand. Even though I was very certain that my crush was not crushing on me back, it was better to look busy and avoid conversation than to, well, deal with shit. I pretended not to notice J.D. and Freddie, but they began to whisper to each other and they eventually left the dormitory, whispering frantically.
A/N: I will do my best to keep this brief: THANK YOU!!! I’m stunned, but THANK YOU for voting for WG at the Dobbys! Even if you didn’t vote for James & co., I don’t care, so long as you participated in the democratic process! There are not enough exclamation points in the entire world (well, they’re intangible, so I guess they qualify as a renewable resource) to express how elated and honored I am.
Sorry about the long wait for a short chapter. Posting this now, with its natural conclusion, is better than posting something that’s unnecessarily lengthy later, right?
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