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Chapter 7 : In Which There Are Prefect Patrols
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“This really isn’t a joke? You actually can’t make Quidditch practice because you’ve got a prefect meeting?” Scor looked at me incredulously.
“Saying it more times won’t make it go away,” I said, yawning as I checked my watch. “And Joe has the meeting too so you were always going to be a Chaser down today.”
Scor looked furious, muttering to himself about flakey team mates and supposed to be my friends. We’d had the same conversation about six times while we sat in the Common Room trying to finish our homework - well, he tried to finish his homework. I practiced sketching his concentrating face - and it didn’t seem to be sinking in any more easily.
I ignored his grumpiness and instead watched Joe and Oz playing exploding snap. They were both very bad at it, so the game ended up being more about who could dodge the most explosions than about who was better at cards. Joe had lost half an eyebrow and Oz’s robes had caught fire more than once.
Clara and Esther were sitting with them, cheering whenever the cards exploded. I noticed Esther glancing at Oz more often than she looked at her brother, blushing whenever he looked up and caught her eye.
When Joe had lost half of his remaining eyebrow he stood up, gave an exaggerated stretch and sauntered over to the desk I was sat at with Scor. Oz called out that he was a coward and a sore loser, but was quickly silenced when the whole deck of cards blew up in his face, leaving him coated with soot and coughing.
“You ready to roll, little prefect?” Joe leaned over my sketchbook, tilting his head upside down to look at me.
“Little prefect?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Well, you’re a lot shorter than me. That makes you the little prefect and me the large one,” Joe said with a grin. “We should go. Molly gets extra grumpy when people are late for the first meeting of term.”
“Weasley,” Joe said. “Head Girl. Honestly, Ollie, do you pay any attention to what goes on in this school?”
“She’s up to date on Quidditch,” Scor said, cheering up a bit. “And let’s face it, nothing else is important.”
“Touché,” Joe said. “Come on, Ollster. Let us depart.”
“If you call me Ollster again I swear to Salazar I will hurt you,” I said, but I followed him towards the door, leaving my books out on the desk next to Scor.
The prefect common room was on the sixth floor, behind a portrait of Wendolyn the Weird giggling in the middle of a bonfire. Joe had to cough several times before she looked at us.
“Now really, Mr Montague…bringing a lady friend to the prefect common room? You should be ashamed. It’s not a dating venue…” The rest of her words were drowned in a high peal of laughter as the tickling flames were apparently too much for her.
“She’s a prefect, Wendy,” Joe said seriously, rolling his eyes at the portrait. “And we have a meeting. Can you let us in?”
Wendolyn continued to laugh, throwing her head back and not acknowledging Joe’s presence.
“WENDY! Come on. We’re going to be late.” Joe raised his voice in a way that wouldn’t seem like a shout from anyone else, but it was noticeable because it’s so unusual for him to get cross.
“Oh, okay. No need to make a fuss,” Wendolyn said with a sigh. “Password?”
“Ubi caritas,” Joe said confidently.
“Right you are,” Wendolyn said, swinging open to reveal a door. “Enjoy the ‘meeting’, my lovelies.” She put her fingers up in air quotes around the word ‘meeting’, apparently not believing Joe’s insistence that this was not a date.
We went through the door and entered a large, round room. Silk drapes in the four house colours hung from the ceiling to the floor, giving the room a bright, warm atmosphere. On the ceiling enchanted silhouettes of a lion, raven, badger and snake circled each other, illuminated by an orangey light the source of which wasn’t clear. Huge enchanted windows showed views I was sure weren’t anything to do with Hogwarts, and comfortable looking couches were dotted around next to desks.
A huge round table was placed at the centre of the room, surrounded by squashy arm chairs. Most of the chairs were full. I could see Potter and Weasley sitting across the room, as well as some other familiar faces. Joe headed towards a green armchair opposite Potter, and I took the seat next to him opposite Weasley.
When the remaining chairs had filled, a tall ginger girl who I took to be Molly Weasley (based on her freckly skin and the shiny ‘Head Girl’ badge pinned neatly to her chest) stood up. The seat next to her remained empty and she scowled at it before speaking.
“Hey, guys. Thanks for coming. I know it’s the first day back but it’s good to get started straight away. First thing’s first, this is Olivia Bell.” She gestured towards me. A few people turned round. “Cassandra Selwyn isn’t back at school yet, so Olivia’s going to be taking over her duties while she’s not here. I’m sure you’ll all help her out if she has any questions.”
“Where’s Selwyn?” A fifth year Slytherin girl asked. “When will she be back?”
Molly frowned. “That doesn’t matter,” she said. “We’re not here to gossip. I just wanted to explain why we’ve got a new prefect this late in the year. Anyway, patrols will continue as they did last term. James thinks it’s good to mix up houses so we’re keeping Gryffindor with Slytherin on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Ravenclaw with Hufflepuff on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Fifth years take the 8-9 slot, sixth years take the 9-10, and us seventh years get the late rounds. I’m giving seventh years the Sunday evening patrols as well so everyone else gets a night off.”
A seventh year boy banged his head onto the table, yawning pointedly. Molly glared at him.
“I’m sure we can find someone else to take your badge if you don’t want it any more, Smith.”
The boy frowned and sat up straighter. Molly cleared her throat before continuing.
“It’s already half eight so I don’t think fifth years need to bother with patrols tonight, meaning we’re starting with sixth year Gryffindors and Slytherins. Al, you were with Cassandra last term so I’ll trust you to show Olivia the ropes. Remember, you’re really only there to put people off trying to sneak out, but if you do see any rule breaking report it to me at the end of the night and I’ll take points of the relevant house or pass it on to a teacher if I need to.”
“And we can leave at eleven?” Potter asked his cousin.
“Come back here first to give me a report, and then I’ll dismiss you soon after. Is everyone clear on the plan for the term? I’ll send you all an updated timetable to make sure you know when you’re needed,” Molly said.
There was a chorus of agreement and Molly smiled. She was quite pretty. I was surprised I’d not noticed her before.
“Good. I think that’s all I really needed to say tonight. Sixth year prefects, you’re on duty from now on. Don’t go easy on people just because it’s the first day back. Bonus points if you can find my idiot cousin and whoever he’s snogging instead of turning up to the meeting he’s supposed to help run,” Molly said.
Potter snorted with laughter. “If James doesn’t want to be found we don’t stand a chance.”
“See it as a challenge,” Molly said. “He’s Head Boy. It’s not okay for him to just skip meetings. Now get to work, you lot. Al, do make sure Olivia knows what she’s doing. I’m putting you in charge of helping her out with anything she needs. She’ll want the passwords to the bathrooms as well.”
“Will do,” Potter said with a smile in my direction.
I yawned without covering my mouth and put my head down on the table in front of me. Joe slapped the back of my head and I elbowed his chest.
“Come on, Olivia,” a girl’s voice said. “Al’s a lazy bugger. Patrols won’t be much effort with him.”
I looked up to see Rose Weasley smiling at me, Potter by her side.
“Right,” I said, yawning again. Prefect patrols with Potter really didn’t appeal to me.
“If he gets too irritating just let me know,” she said, still smiling. “I’ll swap with him and we can patrol together instead.”
I wasn’t sure why she was being so friendly. It was like Potter telling Slughorn the potion was his fault. They’re strange, the Potter/Weasley clan. Cassie calls them the Wotters. She says they’re frustratingly friendly and even more frustratingly famous.
“Go on, Ollster,” Joe said, shoving me towards Potter. “Meet back here after patrols?”
“Why?” I tried to raise an eyebrow at him. I’m unsure whether I was successful. Raising just one eyebrow is tricky. “You still not know the way to the Common Room, Joey?”
He laughed and shook his head. “I just wouldn’t want you getting lost. We need you in practice tomorrow morning. Come on, Rose. Let’s go search some broom cupboards.”
I watched him leave, one arm draped casually around Weasley’s shoulders, chatting easily and making her laugh. Joe’s good at being everyone’s friend. Cass says it means you can’t trust him.
“You ready, Liv?” Potter held out a hand to help me up.
I didn’t take his hand, standing up by myself and stretching. “Liv?”
“Sure. Olivia’s a bit of a mouthful,” Potter said, running a hand through his hair and not looking me in the eye. “You can call me Al, if you want.”
“Whatever,” I muttered. “Let’s get this out of the way.”
We covered most of the seventh floor in silence. I made no effort to start a conversation, and Potter seemed happy to stay quiet. We found a couple of third year girls out of bed, drinking hot chocolate from the kitchens and chatting. Potter grinned and told them to get to bed before he knew who they were to report them. They ran away giggling and he picked up the two mugs of hot chocolate they’d left behind, offering one to me.
“Thanks.” The hot chocolate had cream and marshmallows on top. I slurped it happily. Cream is delicious. My mother would be horrified.
“So, how’s prefect life treating you?” Potter licked cream off his upper lip.
“Cass can’t get back soon enough,” I said, managing a small smile in his direction. “This isn’t exactly what I had planned for sixth year.”
“Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the job either,” he said. “But my brother and cousin are the heads so I don’t have a lot of choice. Molly would kill me if I didn’t do patrols.”
“But your brother wasn’t even at the meeting?”
“He’ll be off with some girl. Beats me why they made him head boy. If we find him in a cupboard somewhere Molly will destroy him.”
“She doesn’t seem like the destroying type.”
“Trust me, she’s scary. It’s not worth making her angry.”
He grinned again, then pressed a finger to his lips, nodding towards a broom cupboard across the corridor.
I shrugged. I wasn’t particularly bothered about catching couples who were trying to find some alone time after dark, but from what I’d heard that was the bulk of the job.
Potter flicked his wand and the cupboard door flicked open, exposing a dark haired girl and a blonde guy, both in Gryffindor ties.
Potter dropped his hot chocolate. The china cracked as it hit the floor, spilling dark liquid out over the wooden boards. He didn’t even seem to notice, staring fixedly at the two people in the broom cupboard.
I looked back at the couple and it didn’t take long to realise why.
“Al,” Laura Brogan stood up, biting her lip while she buttoned up her shirt. “Um, look, it’s not what it looks like…”
Potter didn’t even acknowledge her. He was staring at the boy who stepped out behind her. His face was white and his fists were clenched like they’d been in Potions before he exploded the Silencing Solution.
“What the fuck, Louis?” His voice was low and expressionless, but his anger and hurt was written all over his face.
Louis Weasley pushed a hand through his blonde hair in the same way I’d noticed Potter do, and shook his head slightly, seemingly lost for words. His tie was loose around his neck and his shirt was untucked. He’s part veela, and his looks weren’t helping his case.
Brogan stepped closer to Weasley, resting a hand on his arm. He shook her off and looked back at Potter.
“Al, please don’t get cross…don’t be sad. You’re my best friend, mate, you just…don’t hate me. Please.” Weasley’s words were slurred and for the first time I noticed the bottle in his hand.
Potter still had his wand out from unlocking the door, and Weasley’s gaze was fixed on it. Brogan shrank back from them both, tear tracks glistening down her cheeks.
I took a deep breath and stepped between the two boys.
“We can’t take points,” I said, looking straight at Louis Weasley. “But we’ll be reporting this to the heads at the end of the night. It’ll probably be ten points each from Gryffindor for being out after curfew and another twenty for the alcohol. My guess is that you’re looking at at least two detentions each as well.”
“Right. Look, Al…” Weasley tried to sidestep around me to reach his cousin.
I stepped in front of him again. “Just go back to your common room before it’s worse than two detentions. You’re not supposed to be here.”
I was surprised by the authority in my voice. In truth I didn’t have any idea what the protocol was for students drinking after curfew, but I could see that Potter was shaking and wanted to get the others away before he lost his temper. I wasn’t about to get in the middle of a Gryffindor fight.
“Come on, Louis,” Brogan said, reaching out her hand. “Bell’s right. We should just go.”
Weasley didn’t take her hand, but he nodded and turned to follow her. He looked back at Potter and opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something else, but I glared at him and he instead followed Brogan down the corridor.
“Shit.” Potter looked pale, and slid down the wall behind him to sit on the floor next to his broken mug.
I wasn’t sure what to say, so just awkwardly stood next to him, watching him run his hands through his hair and press his fingers against his forehead.
“Shit,” he said again, leaning his head back against the stone wall behind him. “Shit, he’s my best mate.”
“I’m sure…there’s some kind of explanation,” I said, feeling stupid even as I spoke. I’m terrible at giving sympathy, especially to people I don’t know very well.
“Well, yeah, he was drunk,” Potter said, a deep frown creasing his forehead. “Lou’s always drunk. But…well.”
“That’s not an excuse,” I finished for him.
“Exactly. Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Sorry,” he said, breathing out slowly. “Sorry. I just can’t believe this.”
“That’s kind of fair enough. You just saw your ex and your cousin-slash-best friend making out,” I said helpfully, sitting down beside him.
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s pretty much what just happened,” Potter said, swearing under his breath again and leaning his head against my shoulder.
It was strange, sitting so close to him. I hardly knew him at all.
Usually I’d tell him to get a grip on himself. I don’t like being too physically close to people, and I definitely didn’t want to be in this position with Albus Potter…but something stopped me. It felt like this stuff between him and Brogan had been everywhere in the last few days, and it wasn’t fair on him.
I guess I felt sorry for him, or something, because I put an arm around him and let him press his forehead against my neck, breathing deep breaths to calm himself down.
After a few minutes he pulled away, looking very red faced and shaken.
“Thanks, Liv. I’m really sorry about all this…I, um, well, it’s just been a bit hard recently. Sorry for dragging you into it.”
“It’s fine.” I pulled myself up to stand, still leaning against the wall.
“And thanks for sending them back to the Common Room. I wasn’t thinking straight.” He looked anxious, worried that I was going to be angry with him, but I didn’t feel angry at all.
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it…Al.”
He looked surprised at my use of his first name but didn’t mention it, instead slowly standing up next to me and putting an arm around my shoulders. He pulled me into a quick hug, just for a few seconds, and then let me go.
“I really appreciate it. Shall we call it a night? We don’t need to tell Molly we didn’t bother with the sixth floor.”
“Sure,” I said with a small smile.
We walked back to the Prefect Common Room, talking quietly and about nothing important. Al didn’t mention what had happened and I thought it was probably best not to bring it up again. He kept a hand on my arm while we walked and I didn’t shake him off.
When we reached the Common Room we found Rose and Joe had already returned and were talking to a furious Molly Weasley. Rose turned and flung her arms around Al’s neck, making him trip backwards slightly.
“Oh, Al. Louis came and found me. He’s a wreck. Are you okay? I’m so sorry.” She spoke quickly, her cheek pressed against his, rubbing his back soothingly.
“It’s fine, Rosie. You can let me breathe now.”
“I didn’t think he’d do that. I’ll talk to him about it. He’s drunk, of course. I’ve been saying he needs to cut down for months. But he’s devastated, Al, he really is. And Laura! Well, we already knew she was a bitch.”
I laughed at her use of the word ‘bitch’. Somehow it seemed strange coming from Rose Weasley, top of the class in all subjects and teacher’s pet. I guess she’s different when it comes to defending her cousin. I can’t imagine being that close with the Moron.
Neither of them noticed me laugh but Joe caught my eye and winked.
“You two might as well head off. It’s nearly ten already,” Molly said with a sigh, watching her cousins. “Thanks for filling in, Olivia. It’s good to have you on board.”
Rose and Al both called out their goodbyes as we left. Al managed to sound cheerful and friendly despite the events of the evening, and I smiled at him before following Joe through the portrait.
“Eventful night?” Joe looked at me.
“Something like that.”
“How was it with Al? He’s a good laugh, isn’t he?”
“He was alright, actually. Cass always complained about him after their patrols.”
Joe frowned. “Yeah, well…Cassie tends to see the worst in people.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I stopped walking to look at him.
His eyes widened. “No, Ollie, I’m not trying to be mean about her. Cassie’s great. It’s just, you know…” His voice trailed away and he gave a hand gesture as if to say the end of his sentence was obvious.
“She doesn’t have much nice to say about people, other than you and Scor, I mean,” Joe said quietly. “There are lots of people in the school you’ve never bothered to get to know because Cassie’s told you they’re not worth knowing, like Al and Rose.”
“Cassie’s my best friend, Joe,” I said coldly.
“I know. I know. Look, forget I said anything. I just meant I could see you and Al being friends, now that you’re getting to know each other.”
“Now that Cassie’s not here, you mean?”
“That’s not what I said, Ollie,” Joe said calmly, with a sigh.
“It’s what you meant, though.”
I started walking again. After a few paces I realised Joe wasn’t following, and turned around.
“Come on,” I said, giving him a small smile. “I didn’t mean to have a go at you. I just…I really miss her.”
“I know,” Joe said, recognising that this was as close to an apology as I was going to get. “It’ll all work out, Ollie. You’ll see.”
He ruffled my hair and linked his arm through mine for the walk back to the dungeons.
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