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Chapter 1 : crushed moon extract
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chapter image; mintleaf @ tda.
It was that time of year again, that time when golden amber leaves litter the ground, crunching under every step, and trees became exotic shades of crimson red, burnt orange, alien yellow. The nights come creeping in and you don’t notice it until you notice it, and by that time there’s nothing you can do about it, summer is over for another year and the impending winter is heavy in the air.
The first game of the new academic year isn’t until mid-November, but all the teams are training utterly absurd hours. It's not just Ravenclaw, I'm sure of it, Teddy Oliver of Hufflepuff has never fallen asleep in class before last week following a particularly gruelling team practise. This year’s Quidditch Captains are all ridiculously competitive- more so than last year’s, an impressive feat in itself- and every team have been worked to the bone.
Is it reasonable to have to wake up at 6am on a Saturday morning? Is it reasonable to have to wake up before it’s daytime in general?
“Yes,” said our captain, Danny Alton. He was the only person on our team not exhausted. He strode up and down the office, tapping a long white stick on the ground in line with his feet. Danny Alton used to be really attractive. If I’m being honest, I used to have a thing for Danny Alton. Who didn’t in Ravenclaw house? Really. He was good-looking, funny, charming, empathetic.
But then Flitwick went and made him bloody Captain and he’s had a complete alteration in personality. I think it would be fair, and not at all an exaggeration, to compare him to Stalin, really. Better looking, perhaps. Less obsessed with five year plans, more into defence tactics.
“Oh lay off it, Danny,” yawned Mikey Lancaster, whose shoulder I was slumped against. Beneath the thickness of his Quidditch jacket I could feel the warmth of my friend's body vibrate slightly as he spoke, as I opened my eyes slightly to look up at him.
“Do you want to bring your house victory, Michael?” Danny snapped, and we all flinched. “Don’t you want to bring back that trophy that we haven’t seen since Teddy Lupin was Seeker? Don’t you want to do Rowena Ravenclaw proud?”he roared this at us, and I frowned as a bit of spit landed on my cheek.
“If I'm going to be honest,” Josh Wood begun, and I eagerly awaited the end of his sentence. "Not especially, no."
Indigo Coates nodded earnestly in agreement beside me. "Who joins the Quidditch team to do some old woman proud? I'm here for the chicks-"
"Oh yeah, that's gone really well for you Coates, hasn't it," I interjected, but immediately stopped when I made eye contact with Danny, his lips pressed together so tight they had lost all colour, his eyes flared so wide in anger he looked almost petrified.
“Start lapping. I’ll be outside in five minutes,” he hissed, and we got up, stretched a bit, and walked into the dark October morning.
“Swift, maybe put your surname to good reason and be a bit quicker with the Quaffle, Goddamnit!” Danny howled, racing around her on his broom. “And then for Christ’s sake, Lancaster, catch it! If I have to take you at lunch times to practise how to catch, I bloody swear I will-”
“It’s too earlyfor this, Danny,” I said, flying down next to him.
“Don’t you have a Snitch to be catching?” he snapped, the wind around us making his Northern accent sound harsher than usual. “Come on Effy, imagine we’re playing against Gryffindor, they’re a right bunch of arrogant gits.”
It was a little difficult to imagine a tense game of Quidditch against our biggest rivals, considering it was still dark, a bit damp and I was uncharacteristically more concerned about when I would be able to next put my feet to the ground.
But being Seeker gave me independence that no other Quidditch position experiences; I work with myself only, and I have no boundaries. I only have to find the Snitch and out of all the games I’ve played, I’ve only ever lost four, so I’m not too worried about that.
Sometimes during practise I just fly around and see how high I can get. But then Hogwarts looks more like a doll house and I freak out a little. The higher I get the closer I am to falling off my broomstick and this both fascinates and terrorises me.
I wasn’t as high as I had been previously but still, my knuckles were numb with fear and my heart was racing with adrenaline. My knees were buckling and yet I could feel my long hair flutter behind me and my feet fly past the air, making my bare ankles sting with cold.
Then the Quidditch pitch lights were switched on, and this surprise almost caused me to fall off my broom. I flew down; there was a small gathering in the damp grass below.
“What’s happening?” I asked Mikey, who was tying his shoe lace.
“Potter and his gang turned up,” he said, pointing ahead. Remaining on my broomstick, I gently flew towards the scene.
Danny Alton and James Potter had more in common with each other than I think James did with his own brother in my year. Both were arrogant yet charming, egotistic yet charismatic; both had reputations throughout the upper school for good looks, good bodies and good grades, yet both were a bit ashamed of the latter. And most importantly, both were utterly impossible about Quidditch.
But James Potter- and perhaps this is the closest I’ve ever been to him, and I knew this thought occurred to Lara Swift too, the only other girl on the Ravenclaw team- was good looking in a different way to Danny Alton. Potter had jet black hair, and the amber lights of the stadium made the messiness of it seem almost majestic, his pale skin almost glow, his brown eyes slightly glimmer. I was, in spite of myself, fascinated.
“Potter,” snapped Danny, striding towards him. “I’ve booked the pitch until nine.”
“Jesus Christ,” Mikey muttered into my ear. I rolled my eyes in agreement.
“You’ve booked it for every morning until next week,” Potter retorted, and his voice rang hoarse yet crisp throughout the dark stadium, every syllable perfectly pronounced. “Longbottom himself wrote me a letter giving me permission to practise. We’re playing the first game, not you.”
“Come off it, you had the pitch booked for the whole weekend.”
“Now now, Alton, no need to get so angry,” cooed Potter.
“Now now, Alton, no need to get so angry,” mimicked Danny.
Potter smirked. “No need to be so petty, Alton. We all know that Longbottom has more authority than Madame Hooch; right now, quite frankly, you’re just wasting my time.”
Danny gave him a long, hard stare. “I hope that running off to your father’s best friend for time on the pitch satisfies you,” he said, coolly. “Being Harry Potter’s son may cut it with the teachers, but it really doesn’t prove anything.”
Potter stepped up to Danny, so they were almost touching, their bodies in perfect symmetry.
“Take that back,” he said, simply.
“Should we stop this?” Lara Swift, a Chaser in the year below whispered.
“Course not,” I hissed, not taking my eyes off the two Captains, tilting my head and lifting the soles of my feet to get a better view. Mikey chuckled.
I can’t remember how long we- the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor players- stood there, watching the two Captains, decked out in respective gold and red, bronze and blue, shivering in unison with the winter winds. It was probably not even a full minute but it felt like hours until Potter stepped back.
“Get off my pitch, Alton,” he said icily.
“Can Danny stop being so bloody annoying,” hissed Mikey. “They’re serving fried toast today.”
“Well,” said Liam Finnigan, sounding uncharacteristically excited. "That’s my favourite.”
“Go do something, Effy,” said Lara, suddenly.
“What?" I said, turning from the two boys ahead towards her, my feeling of surprise making my ponytail whip around and almost hit me in the face. "Why me?"
“Because you’re a girl,” said Mikey. “And pretty. And your crush on Danny isn’t as evident as it is with Lara.” Lara turned bright red, but I saw it as my time to shine. To be the woman I was born to be, and primarily, to get back into bed.
“Let’s go, Danny,” I said, jumping off my broomstick and grabbing it.
But before Danny could reply, Potter did. "This is so classic of you, Alton. Always doing what the girls tell you to do, you've been like this since you were twelve. You going to shag her in the changing rooms too, then? Isn't that what you did with the last girl that had you whipped?" From behind me I heard Mikey cry in outrage, and the Gryffindor team looked a bit uncomfortable too.
“Except he has the intellect not to knock me up,” I said, mimicking his patronising tone, referring to the Captain's pregnancy scandal that rippled through the school the way only back-to-school gossip could. It was unavoidable, the first week back, and whilst totally not true, still adorned the walls of the Charms' girls' toilets.
But more importantly. When did I become the kind of person to answer back to James Potter? I was very impressed with myself. Maybe our best versions of ourselves come out at six in the morning, and we've never noticed because we're all busy sleeping. Mikey cackled.
“I see we have a little stalker on these hands.” Potter retorted sharply. His icy tone sent chills down my already frozen limbs, shaking in the early morning cold.
I snorted, and turned around. As I began walking, against every bone in my body and every pulse in my brain, my inner Ravenclaw came out. “It’s my hands,” I said, facing him. “Not these hands. That doesn’t make any sense.”
In front of me, the dark and murky blue sky, tinged orange by the Quidditch lights, had transformed to a beautiful blend of purple and blue hues, vivid pink clouds hanging in the sky with orange undertones. It was only half past seven, and I already had had enough of the day.
“You’re so sassy, Effy,” said Oscar, gesturing his left hand with a swift. “I just love it. If I wasn’t gay I reckon I would have the biggest crush on you. No. Jasmine Azalea, probably. But I’d still fancy you a little-”
“I can’t believe you said that!” Aspen interrupted, her face looking slightly amused, slightly outraged, slightly wonderstruck. “I wonder what Scorpius would say about it? You must be the only girl in the year apart from Rose Weasley to talk to him like that.”
“It’s not a big deal,” I said, munching on my toast. My fingers grazed the purple jam and I rubbed the spread onto my jeans, and when they were still sticky, I licked them. Aspen looked at me with disdain.
“Those are my jeans, Effy.”
“Stop interrupting her,” ordered Oscar. “Come on now, Aspen, just because you and Scorpius are back together doesn’t mean you can go around interrupting people. What would your mother say?”
“She wouldn’t be very happy,” Aspen admitted, flicking her wavy, golden blonde hair behind her shoulder as Oscar smiled across the table in a half-hearted fashion.
“So he and Danny Alton were at it again, and then Danny dropped the Harry Potter bomb-”
Oscar gasped. “I love it. Why am I not on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team? You have more drama than the Christmas special of Downton Abbey. So I’m envisioning it with lots of sexual tension between Danny Alton and James Potter-”
“James isn’t gay, Oscar-”
"Sexuality is fluid and the average man won't come out until the age of sixteen," he retorted quickly.
"Well, that makes him two years late to his statistic," I retorted back.
"Age is a social construct," he shot back, his nostrils flaring the way only Oscar Green's nostrils could, making his delicate, handsome face suddenly almost cartoonish. "Maybe he's fifteen in soul."
Aspen laughed at our exchange and Aspen has this really light, twinkly laugh which always makes me laugh, and then Oscar- who detested being left out- started laughing too.
Oscar and Aspen were my two best friends. We had been friends since the First Year, the kind of friendship that has no defining start point, no definite trigger, but the kind of friendship that’s just always been there, as constant in my Hogwarts experience as the ghosts and the Herbology greenhouses.
Aspen was an absolute beauty. She was one of the prettiest girls in the school; boys in our year and the year above doted on her. Aspen had this incredible long hair that she used to be able to sit on; she straightens in whenever she can to fit in with the Hogwarts trends, but I prefer it naturally wavy. Sometimes during the summer she lets Oscar fashion her a flower crown and she looks like an elfin princess, with her blue doe-like eyes, her turned up nose and a fair scattering of freckles around her nose, cheeks and high collarbones. Her on and off boyfriend, Scorpius Malfoy- the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team- is really good-looking too, the idyllic teenage couple. But then he’d start chatting to another blonde in the year below and she would freak out, or she would be seen twisting her long locks when talking to another boy, and he’d wind up equally exasperated.
And then Oscar is well known throughout Hogwarts as well for being the youngest male to come out as gay in the past hundred years when he was in second year. It was so classic Oscar, even at the age of twelve, to set this record: he loved attention, lived for it, consumed it in such eagerness and quantity it was almost religious.
I sat there, watching Aspen and Oscar chat lazily, thinking back to Oscar's announcement, his voice not yet broken, to our Second Year huddle on the very Ravenclaw table we were sat on this breakfast. Mikey Lancaster and Liam Finnigan were so proud of their dormitory companion they charmed a banner declaring this in bright blue to follow Oscar around the school; they got put in weekly detention and Liam Finnigan received a Howler the next day from his dad, his Irish accent filling the Hall for a solid five minutes.
“What are we doing today?” asked Aspen, re-arranging her fruit salad, and I drifted out of my sudden burst of nostalgia.
“Work,” I said, beaming pleasantly at her.
“No," she drawled, giving me a weird look, and I wondered if my self-assessed pleasant beam was as pleasant as I had imagined, and if so what was it, because it was how I had been smiling at Albus Potter the whole term and it would be great, really great, if he thought I had a pleasant beam and didn't think I had, instead, facial seizures.
“Darling, we have a Transfiguration practical on Monday,” Oscar stated. “And an Ancient Runes essay, and a Potions test but I suppose you both don’t do Potions.”
“Damn right,” I cried, and Aspen and I high-fived. In a moment of giddiness and, perhaps, idiocy, we decided to take identical NEWTs, which resulted in us continuing in Transfiguration, Charms, Ancient Runes, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Mermish, History of Magic and Astronomy.
“This is going to be so great, Effy,” cried Aspen when filling in our forms last month. “Best friends forever!”
“Oh yeah!” I cried back, and we hugged each other. She ended up dropping Mermish and taking up Divination, but the sentiment is still there, shining under Mermish pronoun tables and dream spreadsheets.
“You two are such idiots,” said Oscar. “Why are neither of you doing Potions?”
Aspen stared down at her fruit.
“Aspen didn’t get an E. She didn’t realise that there was a difference between crushed moonstone and crushed moon extract,” I said, and Aspen kicked me under the table.
“That was not my fault,” she said stubbornly. “That was brand new information. They did not include that in Potions for Dummies.”
“It’s common knowledge.”
She gave me a dirty look. “I don’t take insults from people with ketchup on their chin.”
I was about to retort when Oscar held up his forefinger to gesture us to be quiet. Then he pointed to the Gryffindor table, and Aspen and I turned, intrigued.
It was James Potter arguing with his girlfriend, Dahlia Moss. Like Aspen and Scorpius, they were a couple that gathered a lot of public interest: Potter being, obviously, the son of Harry Potter and one of the most sought-after Quidditch players in Hogwarts, and Dahlia Moss because she was Dahlia Moss. One of the most popular girls in the student social hierarchy, and probably really mean and quite a bitch. She wasn’t as pretty as Aspen but she had that quality that boys were automatically attracted to and girls automatically feared. She died her hair blonde, drank potions to make her skin glow and was rumoured to be the niece of the creator of the beautifying potion. This, naturally, made her quite an exciting character, and I noticed, as my eyes scanned the room, the three of us were not the only one watching the scene ahead.
“Just get out of my face, Dahlia,” snapped James, using the exact same tone he had used on myself and Danny just two hours ago.
“Not until you tell me what’s wrong!” she cried. “For God’s sake, I’m your girlfriend-”
“-not my fucking therapist. If I wanted to speak to you I know where your dormitory is. Jesus Christ, get off me!” Her arms were slung over his shoulders, and he pushed her away from him.
“Whatever,” she said, icily. “Give me a call when you decide to grow up, James.” She got up and left, her shoes clicking against the polished floors.
“She’s so great,” said Oscar, as the buzz of chatter in the Hall returned. “I love her. I hate her, but I love her. She’s like reality TV. Ugg boots. Brexit. I love her. Did you see how sassy she was? She is the sixth Spice Girl.”
“What’s a Brexit?” asked Aspen, curiously.
Hi! So this is Fluorescent Adolescent, named after the Arctic Monkeys' song of the same name. It's my first attempt at fanfiction for aaaaaages so I hope it's alright. I don't own anything you recognise (Downton Abbey belongs to Julian Fellowes, Ugg Boots to UGG) and as usual, reviews make my day! Thanks so much for reading!
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