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Chapter 11 : wild horses
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My dad was shaking hands with somebody I vaguely recognised- probably a member of his Sports pages team- and my mum was kissing the cheeks of a woman I assumed to be the man’s wife.
“Who’s he?” hissed Jack, awkwardly pulling at his tie.
“I don’t know,” I said back, and he rolled his eyes.
“Jack! Elizabeth!” said my mum, waving us over excitedly. “Come meet Nathaniel and Delilah Lewis- your dad’s colleagues at work…”
“Hello,” I said, kissing Delilah on a very powdered cheek and doing the same to Nathaniel. My brother kissed Delilah, but shook hands with Nathaniel, and Delilah remarked on what a good-looking family we were.
“You’re just seeing mum with make-up,” deadpanned Jack, and my dad laughed whilst my mum tittered.
“Haha Jack, such a comedian… Ooh, yes please,” she said, as a waiter came up to the adults with a tray of champagne flutes.
It was the Prophet’s Christmas Ball, held in a beautiful London hotel reception, the same room in the same hotel that it’s been hosted every year. About a hundred or so people milled around, all beautifully dressed up, making small talk and laughing with each other. I recognised some faces as my dad’s friends, or parents of Hogwarts students- Eve Chang, from across the hall, grinned at me, from where she was standing with her mum and dad.
“Oh, is that Xing Chang?” said my mum, following my gaze. “I was friends with him at Hogwarts. His older sister was the Ravenclaw seeker too, Effy.”
“I know, mum.” She smiled down at me, and patted my arm affectionately.
The room was circular, and wall-length French windows ran throughout, each window separated by a white marble pillar. A grand staircase, where we’d all eventually lead to go eat and dance was on my left, and opposite it were the doors, guarded by six men. It was a beautiful room, and yet I had never felt so uncomfortable.
“Effy,” said my dad.
“I was just asking if you knew what you wanted to do after school,” said Delilah, kindly. She was a pretty woman, not a day older than thirty, and her floor-length dress was graceful and yet beautifully understated.
“I, erm- I want to be a writer.”
“Oh, really! Have you written anything?”
To be honest, I had never expressed any ambition to become a writer in my life, but I rarely did express ambition, so I decided to go along with the writer idea.
“A few poems, short stories… Nothing exciting,” I said, smiling. “So do you work with my dad?”
“Yes, actually, I’m a Quidditch reporter,” she said. “Nathaniel, on the other hand, works at the Ministry.” She smiled at me again, before turning back to my dad and Nathaniel’s conversation. I whipped my head around, and my mum was in a small group of women, and I heard Romilda’s loud laugh emit from their group. Jack had just disappeared, and I was about to walk away before I noticed Josh Wood.
“Effy!” he cried, running over to me and hugging me.
“Josh! Put me down-”
“Josh, you’re so embarrassing,” replied his twin sister, Jasmine Wood, a snotty little princess in the year below.
“At least I’ve found a friend.”
“A girl on your Quidditch team doesn’t count-”
“And look! There’s Lara! This really is a changing room convention!”
I looked in Josh’s direction, and saw Lara Swift chat with Eve Chang, and I just remembered the two of them were cousins. Eve caught my eye again, and beckoned me over.
“Does she mean me or you?” Josh asked.
“Who cares,” yapped Jasmine, boredly.
“Effy!” cried Lara, waving at me.
“Well,” I said, ruffling Josh's hair. “That answers that.”
I walked across the room to Eve and Lara, and it only just hit me then how similar the two of them looked. Both were pretty girls with raven-black hair and willow frames, and I also noticed Cho Chang-Swift, a leading Wizarding academic and Lara’s mum, standing in a huddle of people nearby.
“Thank God you’re here,” said Lara. “How many other people from Hogwarts usually come?”
“Were you not here last year?” I asked.
“We rarely go,” said Eve. “We spend Christmas with relatives in China.” Eve looked radiant, in a plain black dress that exposed her back and silver shoes that elongated her long legs.
“Darling, is this Elizabeth?” I looked up, and saw Cho Chang-Swift approach her daughter, smiling. She was very well respected, really cool, having written two Wizarding books on the history of the Hogwarts founders and three Muggle books on Medieval folklore, whilst also graduating Oxford University with a PhD in Medieval History.
“Yes, mum,” said Lara bubbly.
“I hear you’re the Ravenclaw house Seeker,” said her mum, smiling at me and shaking my hand. “I played Seeker for Ravenclaw, too. Congratulations on your last match- Lara raved about it in her letters home.”
“I did not,” moaned Lara, and Cho grinned.
“She’s also told me about how fantastic the Ravenclaw team are, especially as she’s new this year. When I played, we had this absolutely horrible Captain called Roger Davies- absolute pillock.”
“Mum!” cried Lara, and Eve laughed.
“Cool language, Aunt Cho.”
“Thanks darling, I picked it up from your brother. Lovely to meet you, Elizabeth.” She waved at us one last time before walking back to a group of adults, and then Eve turned on me.
“So what’s happening with you and James?” she wanted to know.
“We had an argument last night,” I said, tossing my hair over my shoulder.
Eve tilted her head. “Was it because of us?”
“Because it was all Freddie’s idea,” she gushed. “He doesn’t like the idea of James having a girlfriend. He absolutely detested Dahlia Moss.”
Across the room, I noticed my mum beckon me over as she spoke to some other middle-aged woman I vaguely recognised, and I told Eve and Lara I’d be back, before strolling back over to my mum again.
“Effy, darling, this is Wilhelmina Franklin.” Wilhelmina Franklin was the author of several published books about romance in the two recent wars, and she shook my hand firmly.
“I hear you want to be a writer, Effy?”
“Oh- yeah, I do,” I lied, and my dad swanned over with Lee Jordan, who kissed my mum loudly on both cheeks.
“Lee’s a bit off his head,” my dad explained loudly.
“As are you, mate!”
“The key to writing history, Effy, is getting the zeitgeist right. For this, I underwent several interviews with Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger-”
“Speak of the devil,” my dad remarked, and I spun around. In walked the Potter family, barely a step inside the hall and yet smothered in greetings and kisses. Harry Potter himself was discussing something lightly with Ginny Potter, and Lily, the younger sister, pranced around in front of the greeters, accepting gushing compliments and cheek kisses. Al had owled me earlier, boasting of how lucky he was he got to miss it, and so I wasn’t surprised to not see him there.
I was surprised to see James, even though I knew he would be there. He stood further back from his parents and Lily, his hands in his pocket and his suit jacket hanging open, smirking his signature grin and nodding to others.
“James Potter is remarkably good looking,” said Romilda, who seemed to have appeared from nowhere. “Oh, Willy, darling! So lovely to see you again!”
James’ head turned in my direction, and as his gaze caught mine I hurriedly turned away. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a pretty blonde girl stride up to him, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed him lean in to whisper to her.
“Lovely to see you too, darling!”
He placed a hand behind her back and she giggled at him, curling a lock of hair around her finger. I decided I had seen enough, and turned away from them.
The ball was fully in swing. A soft jazz band of six members played on a stage, and couples, young and old alike, danced gracefully. I grinned when I noticed Josh Wood and Lara Swift dance together, and I smiled at my parents, gliding amongst the others.
Lavender and blue fairy lights decorated the old, Renaissance architecture of the hall, and it set an almost magical atmosphere to the room. Gentle laughter, the murmur of conversation and the lilting of the Christmas carol played by the pianos and violins and flutes echoed across the hall.
I was standing by the back of the hall, observing everyone, slipping into the shadows and occasionally moving out of the way of passing waiters.
I turned around, and knew it was James before I even saw him. I could smell him, I could identify his touch on my waist.
“James,” I replied.
He looked at me, and inclined his head, as if to follow him. I thought for a second, but curiosity won, and I followed him further away from the cluster of the people, and further into the shadows of the room. We right at the back corner of the room, entrapped behind a large board declaring the ball’s seating plan and a marble pillar.
He stroked my arm, rubbing his hands up and down, circling my skin with his thumb and forefinger. He was looking at my feet, but then raised his head to look into my eyes, and I looked into his. His eyes, sparkling in the moonlight beside us, were so intense, and I could feel my body and soul crumble within his grip.
Then he placed his other hand around my waist and kissed me. And as I kissed him back, wrapping my arms around his shoulders as he clutched me to his body, I knew all was forgiven.
If humans were not but bones and flesh, a delicate fusion of cosmical matter, then surely we could trace our livelihoods not to the apes, but to the moon and the stars that shone in the cloudless night beside us. And if we were stars, then James was the brightest, a galaxy, a shooting star, a supernova.
“I’m not impressed,” I stated, and Mikey looked up at me, rolling his eyes.
“’Course you’re not.”
“What do I tell Aspen?”
“You don’t tell her anything,” said Al, looking up. “Because if Aspen finds out, then Scorpius’s parents definitely will, and then Scorpius will be in so much trouble.”
“You mean you’ll be in so much trouble,” I hissed, and Mikey rolled his eyes.
“I knew we should have asked your sister, Al. Effy is definitely going to tell Aspen. They tell each other everything.”
“No we do not!” I snapped, and Liam signalled from Mikey’s side to keep my voice down. “I am perfectly able to keep secrets,” I muttered.
“Right then,” said Mikey. “So you’ll pretend to be Scorpius’s mum?”
I hesitated, but then Al spoke up. “Please, Effy,” he said. “We didn’t mean for our camping trip to end up like this. We had no idea that international apparition isn’t really a thing- all we wanted to do was to bring Scorpius to our tent.”
“I think it was a rather selfless feat for a pack of non-Gryffindors,” said Mikey. “He hated France, the only people he knew there were his parents and Rose Weasley.”
“And you can imagine how awkward that was,” said Al.
“Awkward is better than lying unconscious at St. Mungo’s for third degree burns and splinching,” I snapped. “You could have just flooed-”
“We didn’t know how to make a fire!”
“Are you wizards or not?”
“Yeah, but we’re underage,” moaned Mikey. “Go on, Effy.”
“All we need is Scorpius’s mum to get in touch with St. Mungo’s to give parental permission for Scorpius to undergo minor surgery, and he should be back in France for tomorrow’s breakfast,” said Al.
It was three in the morning, and Mikey had flooed me an hour earlier, asking me to come over, it was an emergency. I had noticed the blue flames of the St. Mungo’s floo network, and instantly panicked, throwing a grey baggy sweatshirt over a pair of cotton gym shorts and a neon blue Glee! top that was definitely too small to wear in public. They had already explained how they had extracted a dark hair from Scorpius’s sweater that after careful sniffing, Al proclaimed to be the smell of Scorpius’s mum- and they had summoned me to drink polyjuice potion and pretend to be her. It would have been hysterical, if it wasn’t three in the morning.
“And how am I meant to impersonate Scorpius’s mum?” I said. “I’m sitting here in a Muggle kid’s shirt and gym shorts- isn’t she meant to be some old-age socialite?”
“Yes, well, that is an issue,” said Al, thoughtfully, stroking Scorpius’s left temple. I looked over at Scorpius’s handsome face, ugly burn marks circling his jaw and nose. His body was covered up, and Liam had assured me that it was way worse down there.
“Go back home and change into something Felicity would wear,” said Mikey. Mikey had met my mum on several occasions, and our two mothers had gotten on well enough for Mikey to feel comfortable referring to her as Felicity, rather than Mrs Wilderson like my other friends.
“Here’s the polyjuice potion,” said Al eagerly, thrusting an old Coke bottle into my hands, a silvery liquid just about covering the bottom of it.
“I can’t believe you’re making me do this,” I muttered.
“Yes, well, we all owe you one,” said Mikey brusquely. “My mum would kill me if she found out about this.” Al and Liam nodded in agreement, as I eyed the fireplace in Scorpius’s private room. The Malfoys were known to be generous donators towards St. Mungo’s, so it was no surprise that he was granted this secluded room, overlooking the gardens.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” I muttered. “I hate all three of you.”
“Cheers, babe,” called Mikey, as I took a handful of floo powder, muttered Elizabeth’s Bedroom, 22 Winton Road, Kent, and stepped into the blue flames.
I put on black school tights, a dark grey pencil skirt, a white cashmere sweater that Aspen once lent me and a fur coat my mum inherited from a distant relative I found under the stairs. I put on a pearl necklace I snuck out from my mum’s room, and crept out quietly when my dad started to stir.
After mixing the polyjuice potion with orange juice and downing it, I looked at myself as Scorpius’s mum. She was a beautiful woman, with handsome arched lips and a delicate bone structure. She looked a lot like Aspen, and I wondered if that had anything to do with her and Scorpius’s relationship.
“Fuck, Effy,” said Mikey, startled. “You look just like her.”
“Well, I did drink polyjuice potion,” I said. “Are you sure this will work?”
“Yeah- all the Healer wanted was a signature and an appearance. We told him that you were not pleased about being disrupted from your holiday,” said Al. But then he frowned. “Astoria wouldn’t wear white.”
“Whatever,” I said. “Urgh, this feels so weird. What if we get caught?”
“We won’t,” said Mikey easily.
I sighed. It was twenty one minutes past three and it all felt so horrifically surreal. “Alright then, Al, walk me to this Healer.”
He stood up, as Mikey and Liam eagerly thanked me, and I walked with Al out of the small room, basked in moonlight from the window, to a bright and yellow-lighted corridor, with similar doors to Scorpius’s one lining the walls.
“Hey!” said Al, noticing somebody, and I walked with Al towards a dark haired man with his back to us, wearing a Healer uniform.
“Hello,” he said. He had bright teeth and an American accent. “I’m Healer Zachary, can I help you with anything?”
“This is Scorpius Malfoy’s mum,” said Al. “You needed to speak to her about Scorpius-”
“Ah, yes. That was quick timing,” he said, turning to me. “I’m sorry to awaken you, Mrs Malfoy, but as Scorpius Malfoy is underage, I need a quick signature before we undergo any complex spell work or operations to catalyse a quick recovery.”
“Of course,” I said. “When do you think my son will make a full recovery, Healer?”
“It’s just a few burns and some juvenile splinching,” he said easily, as Al and I followed him into an office. He waved his wand, and a quill and a piece of parchment appeared from thin air. I watched the quill scurry across the page, thick lines of writing following it. “Honestly, he should be back to normal within three hours.”
“Brilliant. Thank you ever so much.”
“It’s fine. Here- sign here, here and write your names in block capitals here.” Whilst the Healer’s back was turned, I looked at Al with a panicked expression. What’s her signature? I mouthed frantically, and he was about to open his mouth before the Healer turned around again.
“Right- so here and here?” I asked him.
“Yes, Mrs Malfoy.”
I scribbled Astoria Malfoy in my neatest handwriting, and repeated it, the quill trembling in my fingers. Oh my God, could I go to Azkaban for impersonating somebody’s signature? I definitely could- this was such a bad idea, was it too late to turn back and denounce myself-
“Perfect. Thank you, Mrs Malfoy,” he said.
“I’m so sorry for all of this,” I said. “I’ve told Scorpius countless times about appariting without a license- hopefully this will teach him a lesson!”
“Hmm, yes,” he said. “I’ll summon Scorpius to the theatre in five minutes. He should be finished by six this morning-”
“Is it alright if he floos himself back?” I asked.
“Ah, yes, of course. We have unlimited floo powder in this ward, Mrs Malfoy. Thanks again.”
“No, thank you.” He held the door open for Al and me, and the three of us walked our separate ways- the Healer towards the ward’s lobby, and Al and myself towards Scorpius’s room.
“Oh my God,” I hissed, as soon as the door closed. “That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
“Relax, Eff,” said Mikey, lazily.
“I impersonated Astoria Malfoy! I could go to Azkaban for this!”
“No you won’t,” said Liam, easily. “Cool it.”
“Thanks again, Effy,” said Al, hugging me. “I keep on forgetting you’re Effy, you look like Scorpius’s mum.”
“She’s fit,” stated Mikey.
I was about to thank him on behalf of Astoria Malfoy, when Scorpius started murmuring in the bed.
“Scorp?” said Al, rushing towards him. He crouched down so his face was level to Scorpius’s, and he clutched his hand. “Scorp, are you alright?”
Scorpius murmured something, but I didn’t quite catch it. It seemed like Al did, though, and his face paled.
“Shit,” said Al.
“What?” cried Mikey.
Scorpius murmured again, only this time I heard.
“Rose,” he mumbled, turning over in his bed.
“Oh my God,” I breathed, rushing over to the other side of Scorpius’s bed, where he was now turned towards. “Not Rose, honey, Aspen. Your girlfriend.”
“Rose,” insisted Scorpius, only this time it was a little bit louder.
“Rose and Scorpius are both staying in ski resorts in France,” said Al, his head on his hands as he massaged his temples. “Fuck, I completely forgot.”
“What happened?” I shrieked.
“Keep your voice down, Astoria,” said Mikey, who was facing Al. “No, but what happened?”
“There’s always been a thing between Rose and Scorpius,” muttered Al. “They were on the verge of doing something before Scorpius bumped into Aspen at Roddy Walcott’s back to school party last year.”
Ruddy Walcott was a Gryffindor in our year, who played as a Beater on their Quidditch team. He was popular due to his good looks, easy humour and fantastic parties, in which Aspen and Scorpius met for the first time.
“I remember you telling me that,” I said, slowly. “At the Fair in October.”
“So do you think they did something?” asked Liam, cracking his knuckles in the annoying way he does when he’s nervous.
“No, Scorpius wouldn’t do that,” said Al. “But being so close with Rose again probably sparked something.”
“But he likes Aspen-”
“You can like two people at once, Effy,” said Mikey.
“Alright, cheers for that, Mr Love Guru.”
“Anyway, she’s totally changed,” said Liam, and I was surprised by this observation as I didn’t think he observed much, really. “When I sat next to her in Muggle Studies in fifth year, she was really funny and cool, you know? Like she’d make jokes and overdo it on homework and if I forgot my essay, she’d have a first draft she would give me. She was cool,” Liam concluded.
“Oh yeah!” cried Mikey. “That makes sense! I remember noticing Rose Weasley leave the Gryffindor girl clique for Parker Wills around the time that Aspen and Scorpius started dating, and she’s been a right moody bitch since then.”
“Mikey,” I warned, remembering that Rose was Al’s closest cousin.
“Nah, she is a moody bitch,” said Al, nodding. We sat there in silence, reflecting on Rose Weasley. The Gryffindor girls had always been a close-knit group, and Rose Weasley was at the forefront of it, alongside with Jasmine Azalea. There were four of them, and they sauntered around with big grins and positive energy, and in fourth year they all became quite pretty. They were nice girls who were always friendly with Aspen and I, despite the house difference, and Rose had been on my table for Transfiguration in fourth year. Being the only girls on a table of four other boys, we bonded over copies of Witch Weekly under the desks, and easy gossip of the two houses.
“But then a few weeks after Aspen started dating Scorpius, she started going around with Parker Wills, and Parker’s always been a bit off,” I said. “Not off, but you know.” Parker was a Muggleborn with a willow frame, black nails she would pick at and a bored voice that dripped in sarcasm and Satan jokes.
Al shrugged. “Yeah, and she stopped hanging out with me at family events. Instead she’d sit in a corner sulking, or trying to piss off Aunt Audrey. But it isn’t all to do with Scorpius, I don’t think,” he continued. “Her parents were on the verge of a divorce that year.”
“Oh wow,” said Mikey, looking genuinely upset. Mikey’s parents were also on the brink of separating in fifth year, and that had really impacted him.
We sat there in silence, before I rose towards the fireplace. “If I get into any trouble for this, I will most definitely blame you three,” I said, sprinkling floo powder into the fireplace. “Owl me how Scorpius is in the morning.”
I left hearing Liam state that technically, it already was morning, and as soon as I arrived back in my bedroom I flung off my skirt, tights, coat and sweater, and fell straight asleep.
“Hey Effy!” said Jasmine, on the phone. “Babe, I missed you! How’s things?”
“Fantastic- there are the hottest boys in Morocco, you should see them! I can’t believe you’re actually phoning me!” I mentioned to Jasmine that we used a phone to keep in touch with my dad’s Muggle family, and she had eagerly scribbled down her phone number, insisting I call.
“Of course!” I cried. “I’m so excited I can actually use this!”
“Listen- are you going to Al’s party on Christmas Eve? Ophelia wanted to invite you and Aspen round- I’m going too, won’t that be so much fun? I’d usually go with the Gryffindor girls, but I’m seeing them for lunch instead, so they don’t care.”
“I would love to,” I said, warmly. “What Gryffindor girls?”
“You know, the girls! Lucy O’Donnell, Cecelia Keegan, Angela Boot!”
“Not Rose and Parker?”
“Oh please. Those two haven’t spoken to me in forever. Actually, I used to be, like, best friends with Rose, how funny? But then she left us for Parker, and the two have, like, hated us since then. It’s so awkward in the dormitory, you have no idea.”
“Oh my God, no- my dormitory is awkward. Veronica Clearwater is the biggest snob towards Aspen and me, and the other three just never talk to us. I could never understand how you girls were so close.”
“I don’t know, really! I suppose there’s a lot more competition in Ravenclaw house. What about the boys?”
“Oh, they all get along with each other fine. Oscar criticises everyone, Mikey and Liam crack lad jokes all night and Declan Ainsley tries not to have girls round when the others are studying. The other three are pretty big on the nerd scene, I suppose.”
“Declan- isn’t he the one who hangs out with Ruddy? He’s really fit, don’t you think?”
“Who, Declan or Ruddy?”
“Both,” giggled Jasmine. “I got bored on the Muggle plane to Morocco, and crafted a fit list for our year. Scorpius Malfoy is first, then Ruddy Walcott, then Albus Potter- I think he’s gay, by the way, can you do a raincheck on that? Anyway, Teddy Oliver from Hufflepuff is fourth,”
“Oh yes,” I gushed. “Is he still dating that Hufflepuff girl? Janet something?”
“Yes, what a pity. The things I would do to Teddy Oliver… Anyway,” she continued. “Then there’s Leo Hilfiger in Gryffindor-” he was a Gryffindor Beater, alongside Ruddy Walcott. “And then Mikey, who I actually think is really hot.”
“Yeah, do you mind if I try and snog him?”
My permission to let Jasmine snog one of my best friends felt weird as they tumbled out of my mouth. I thought about giving Jasmine permission to snog Albus, and it just didn’t feel as strange.
I had rung Jasmine in order to get out more information about Rose Weasley. I had spent the morning puzzling over whether to tell Aspen or not, but decided against it, as it wasn’t worth the dramatics Aspen would put on.
Jasmine and I spoke for a half hour before she had a screaming match with her dad in Arabic, and angrily hung up on me. I sat on my bed, turning the Muggle phone around in my fingers, thinking of Rose Weasley.
It was the first day of school, and the first day of our OWL preparation. It was fifth year and I stood there along the back of the classroom, as our Transfiguration teacher, Professor Augustine, sat us down in his seating order of, as usual, surnames.
“Weasley, Rose,” he boomed from his desk. “Back row. West, Alexander- next to Weasley. Wilderson, Elizabeth- next to West.” I slid in a seat next to Alexander West, a Hufflepuff with a handsome jawline and big green eyes.
“Listen, Effy, isn’t it? Do you mind if we swap seats? Sorry, but I really want to sit next to Ben.” I turned around, and saw Ben Zachary, a Ravenclaw boy who I was slightly friendly with.
“No, of course,” I said, and scooted next to Rose, as Alexander subtly stood up and subtly switched over. Professor Augustine, a tall, striking-looking man with styled grey hair and a sharp nose, was writing TRANSFIGURATION OWL- AUTUMN TERM on the board, and Rose turned to me.
“Hey,” she said bubbly. “I’m Rose, Rose Weasley.”
“Hey,” I replied, smiling. “I’m Effy.”
“Isn’t your brother Jack Wilderson?” This was when Jack was still at school, and even though he stopped being Quidditch Captain to focus on his NEWTs, he was still as desirable to the girls of the school as he was last year.
“Isn’t your mum Hermione Granger?”
Rose grinned. “Good one. I love Transfiguration. Sorry, I’m such a swot about it- you’ll probably hate me after the first week.”
“Nooooo,” I cried softly. “It’s my favourite subject!”
“Same!” she said, excitedly. “I’ve already decided I want to become an Animagus.”
“What animal do you think you’d be?” We wouldn’t learn about patronuses until next year, but students were already excited over it, especially after Declan Ainsley, a Ravenclaw boy, had taught himself how to do it over the summer.
“Hopefully not something embarrassing,” she giggled. “I can just imagine getting a pigeon.”
“At least you’d be able to shit on people,” I said, and she grinned at me, telling me that at least that was true.
We weren’t close friends, Rose and me; we would never sit together at dinner, or make arrangements to go to Hogsmeade. But we would smile at each other in the corridor and stop for a chat, and in Transfiguration we’d swap petty gossip and secrets behind Augustine’s back. She would tell me of the drama running around the Gryffindor tower- how Jasmine Azalea and Leo Hilfiger were caught snogging (and more, she hinted excitedly) in the Prefects’ toilets, or how everyone was scared that Lucy O’Donnell was becoming an alcoholic. And I, in turn, would tell her Ravenclaw stories; they were never as exciting or as brash as hers, as Gryffindor was always going to be the more vivid house, but they interested her nonetheless.
Until one day, the lesson after we came back from Easter break- the two week holiday in which Aspen and Scorpius had started dating- she stormed in late and sat next to me, avoiding all eye contact.
“Rose?” I asked. “You alright?”
“Literally get off my back,” she hissed, and I turned away, stunned.
“I thought you two were friends?” asked Ben Zachary, later on in the Ravenclaw common room.
I shrugged. “So did I.”
Al’s party was on the 23rd of December, two days before Christmas, and yet when he sent out the invitation owls, he said that if you weren’t dressed up like it's Halloween, you won’t get in.
“Does this look okay?” Aspen asked, peering at herself in the mirror. We were at Jasmine Azalea’s house, a lavish six bedroom-er in South London, with a whole floor for Jasmine. Ophelia Nott was also round too, as were not house-elves, but genuine people working around the house as cooks and cleaners. It all explained Jasmine’s confident, arrogant manner she flaunted at school.
“Amazing,” remarked Ophelia, turning around from her position by the mirror. Ophelia was dressed as a fairy, her pale skin and light blonde hair scattered with glitter. Her tutu was so short she didn’t even have to bend down to expose her bum, and Jasmine caught my eye, smirked at me, as if to say she knew what I was thinking.
“What shoes are you wearing, Effy?” Jasmine asked me.
“These,” I said, dragging two, black five-inch heels from my bag. Jasmine gasped and said how much she loved them, could she borrow them for New Year’s?
Al’s house wasn’t as big as I had expected. It was tall and narrow, on a pretty street in West London, with brick walls and ivy curling around the door and the windows. Al had mentioned that he had cast security spells around the house for the evening, and as we opened the gate, a cold breeze rifled through us.
“Do you think that was the security?” Aspen asked.
I giggled, and threw my arm around her.
The closer we drew to it, the louder the dubstep sounded, and a boy and a girl staggered out of the door, just as the six of us were about to walk in.
“Hey,” said the boy, looking Aspen up and down. He licked his lips seductively, and the girl he was with hit him.
“Alex!” she hissed, in a French accent.
“Beauxbatons,” said Jasmine lazily, as we walked up to the door. She rang the doorbell, and it opened in a split second by a Hufflepuff boy I vaguely recognised. He looked stoned out of his mind, as he stared at us, baffled, his torso naked and a Hawaiian-style string of flowers hanging from his neck.
“Hi,” he said.
“Get out of the way,” Jasmine demanded, pushing past him. I smiled apologetically at him, and he ruffled his hair, confused.
Music pulsed throughout the bottom floor. It was dark, and a loud bass shook the floors. I could feel it in my bones. People stood in big clusters in the hallway, some faces I recognised, some I didn’t.
“Hey, Al!” I said, touching his shoulder. He was standing with Scorpius, and turned around to grin at me.
“Hey, Effy!” he said, hugging me. “Speak later.”
“Come on, Effy,” said Jasmine, clutching my wrist and leading me towards a door. “You up to get wasted out of your fucking brains, girl?”
I turned around, and I couldn’t see any of the other girls. I noticed Ophelia with her back to me, talking to a boy, but apart from that, it was just Jasmine and me.
The darkness of the rooms suddenly flashed with vivid lights of reds and greens, purples and blues, and I grinned at Jasmine.
“Come on,” she said, grinning back. “You Ravenclaws don’t know how to have fun. Not the Gryffindor way.”
“Oh yeah?” I said. “Watch me.”
So I don't own Glee (20th Century Productions) or anything else you may recognise... your reviews are so lovely and so kind, and I am so undeserving. They make my day! I can't thank you enough for them- and I'm truly so sorry about the delay in this chapter. I just set up a Tumblr account (on my author homepage) for extra stuff regarding FA and my other next-gen fic, Bona Fides- pictures and short stories and stuff. You can ask questions there, or even just check it out! It's a weak apology for waiting so long to update this, and I hope this chapter didn't disappoint :)
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