I woke up at an awkward angle, my with legs crossed and my torso face down on something soft, as if I’d fallen asleep while sitting up. My head ached like nothing on earth and my mouth tasted of stale alcohol. Last night had been a bit of a binge. I cracked my eyes open slowly, blinking in confusion at my unfamiliar sleeping angle, and came face to face with James’s arse. I pushed myself up on my elbow, looked at the clock and groaned.
It was eleven o’clock (an ungodly hour when one has a hangover) and we’d missed two hours of school already. There was movement by my feet as James began to stir. I nudged my drinking partner gently with my foot and encouraged him to wake up as I pushed myself up off the bed.
I padded to the bathroom, shaking Fred on my way there, attempting to wake him from his alcohol induced slumber. I opened the bathroom cupboard and pulled out three vials of hangover potion. I examined myself in the mirror and noticed glumly that I looked an utter state. I rubbed weakly at my messy make up and rinsed my mouth out with water. I popped open my vial and walked back out into the dorm. James was sitting up scratching his head and I tossed him a potion. He caught it deftly even in his current state and I shook Fred again.
“Just leave him,” James croaked before downing his potion sighing at the soothing sensation as I did the same. I waited while he got dressed and then the pair of us shuffled downstairs. He flicked the neck of the discoloured hoodie I still wore.
“You can just keep that,” he told me, grinning. “It’s too small for me anyway. And it suits you,” he added with a wink. I laughed.
“You’re just saying that because I was depressed,” I teased, pushing his shoulder gently and he looked offended.
“Did you just punch me, Miss Finnegan?” he asked in faux disbelief and I told him that in fact I had. “Well, then,” he said, tossing his head. “We’ll have to fix that.”
Suddenly, he had grabbed me around the waist and picked me up as we continued on the last few steps. I kicked and screamed as he bounced me up and down dramatically on every step. We made it into the common room which was fairly full due to the morning interval. I felt a blush form on my cheeks as all eyes turned to us. James delicately put me down and told me that he’d wait for me to get changed.
As I turned to the girls’ stairs, however, I did not miss Jennifer’s wide-eyed look of utter glee mixed with horror as she watched us or the way she scampered from the room. It was probably nothing but it made me decidedly uneasy.
I forced my tired legs to walk upstairs but as I entered the dorm I was met with a disturbing and rather unwelcome sight. Ashleigh McLaggen was sitting on her bed, sobbing. I admit that I almost turned around again but I knew in my heart of bloody hearts that I couldn’t just leave her. She had attempted to console me earlier in the year after all.
“Um...you ok?” I asked softly. She looked up in shock and after a moment of thought shook her head. Damn. So much for an easy way out. “What’s wrong?” I asked, trying to sound interested while getting changed at the same time.
Shit. Please don’t start crying again. I can’t handle crying.
But she did. “ I mean, my parents are getting a divorce, you know, and Jennifer and the girls won’t talk to me at all anymore and I’m failing potions and Eric dumped me I and...and.... to top it all off, have no one to talk to about it!” she sobbed and I tried to stop my eyes from widening. I didn’t know what to say.
“Well, that’s a shame. I’m sorry. You know, em... I’m always here if you want someone to talk to. Do you...do you want to sit with me at lunch?”
It was a small gesture but it sparked a smile. I got washed and dressed and left. She told me she would be down later and I made my way downstairs alone. James was waiting for me, as promised, but he looked a little sick.
“What’s wrong? The hangover potion not working?” I asked him when I got near enough. He winced and looked around.
“I think that people think that something...happened. Between us,” he said in hushed tones. I too feel a churning acid fill my stomach as I realised how it must have looked to outsiders.
“This is bad.” He nodded.
“Especially as they all think that you still have a boyfriend,” he muttered and I froze. Didn’t I still have a boyfriend? Louis and I hadn’t actually mentioned breaking up. It was just a fight, wasn’t it?
“As far as I’m concerned, I still have a boyfriend,” I said more sharply that I had intended. James frowned in confusion.
“So, last night?”
“Was just a fight,” I told him with more conviction than I actually felt. He nodded.
“Well, it’ll be worse if we miss Herbology,” he joked, breaking the silence and cracking a smile. I rolled my eyes at him as we walked to class.
Looks followed us through the halls: disgust, shock, pride, jealousy and oddly enough a look that said “Aw, how sweet.” I kept my head down and tried not to make eye contact. James nudged me and told me to keep my head up in case they thought the rumours were true. Oddly enough, it seemed that they already did. News travelled fast in Hogwarts and Jennifer was the fastest reporter of the bunch.
We made it to the greenhouses unscathed and James and I separated to opposite ends of the classroom. Professor Sprout called for our attention and began the class. I pulled out my books and took my seat beside Jas. The lesson began and I was surprised to hear Jas whisper in my ear.
“Please tell me you didn’t,” she said softly, with warning undertones that I had never heard before. I turned to her, raising a quizzical eyebrow. Her eyes were solemn.
“Please tell me you didn’t sleep with James.” I gaped at her. My best friend and a girl who knew me better than almost everyone, thought I would actually do that.
“No, I did not and I’m appalled you would even think that I would!” I told her sharply and she shrugged.
“The facts were all there. Don’t say you wouldn’t have jumped to the same conclusion,” she replied in her defence. I huffed and turned my attention to the front again.
“These Snapping Hyacinths are in the process of budding, as you can see. You must prune them so that only one flower head remains on each stem, or when the new buds bloom they will eat their own stems and through their own cannibalism kill themselves. Literally, they will eat themselves to death,” Abby’s Dad, Neville, informed us, showing a particularly grotesque photo of the scene he had just described. “Any questions? No? Then to work!”
I pulled my plant towards me and picked up a pair of pruning scissors. Jas hummed a tune quietly as we both got to work. We chatted a little but not much. I was still thinking about what James had said. I didn’t think that Louis and I had broken up but maybe he did. Is that why he hadn’t spoken to me about these rumours yet? He didn’t care?
“Jas, who told you?” She looked up, dazed. I repeated the question and she reported that Abby had told her but as far as she knew she and Rose were the only Ravenclaws in the know. That was...comforting in a sense. I noticed that Jas had gone to talk to the professor so I tried to focus on the job at hand.
I snipped off a small red bud that was forming and the fully grown flower twisted around instantly to sink its tiny fangs into my hand. I gasped sharply and without even thinking smacked it with the back of my hand. It recoiled, hissing in fury and I smirked with satisfaction.
Suddenly, a pair of alien hands reached out to my plant. They began to stroke the long leaves at the plant’s base and I watched in amazement as the stems relaxed and fell, their flowers seeming to doze off. I looked up in appreciation and met Louis. He was smiling shyly.
“That might make it a little easier,” he murmured and I didn’t reply. Instead I made use of the docile plant and snipped at all the buds I could find. “I wanted to apologise for last night,” he continued. “I shouldn’t have let him say those things. I really let you down and I’m sorry.” His face was a mixture of sadness and self depreciation. I smiled at him and reached out to squeeze his hand.
“It’s ok. I might have overreacted a little myself. I shouldn’t have punched him,” I admitted, tucking my hair behind my ear. Louis grinned.
“Well, he probably deserved it. Edmund can be a bit of a git at times,” he conceded and I stared at him in shock. I’d never heard him swear before. Granted, it wasn’t a particularly crude word but it was new. He blushed, suddenly realising what I was gawking at. He took my bitten hand and I let him pull it up to his face to examine the red welt that had formed on my knuckles. Before I realised it, he had pressed his lips to the tender area, effectively kissing it better. He looked up at me and gave another bashful smile.
Suddenly, his eyes widened as if he had just remembered something. With a small ‘oh’ he reached into his worn brown satchel and pulled out a pair of gold pumps. My gold pumps.
He waggled them at me and I took them graciously.
Ok. Definitely hadn’t broken up.
Things were fine until lunch. Rumours were still circulating no doubt but so far no one had mentioned it to my face at least. I was walking out into the courtyard with Louis by my side, Rose and Jas walking in front of us and Ashleigh tagging along quietly a little to their left.
There were quite a few students milling about and I waved at James and his friends sitting on the opposite wall. He returned it with a grin and I felt Louis slip his arm around my waist. We all stopped by the stone arched windows and I perched myself on the sill.
We started talking: Louis and Jas were comparing Arithmancy notes, Rose was telling me her Scorpius and Rory troubles and Ashleigh was sitting quietly. I regret to admit that I wasn’t giving her my full attention but as a result, something else caught my eye. It was a scuffle, probably nothing major, just a couple of third years mucking about. Except that it wasn’t just some third years it was a Slytherin boy and a boy with a luminous yellow hat. A boy who just happened to be my brother. Even then, I probably wouldn’t have done anything if James hadn’t become involved first. He was closer, he could hear them, and he knew something was going on. He knew that this was probably not nothing.
I hopped off the wall with no explanation and sprinted across the courtyard. James and Fred were in the process of pulling the two boys off each other and I slowed to a halt. Connor’s lip was bleeding and a small bruise was forming on his right cheek. The other boy, I’m proud to say, looked a lot worse for wear. That’s my boy.
“What the mother fuck is going on?” I growled, turning to my brother and demanding an explanation. He was still struggling against James’s hold but he made eye contact just long enough to tell me.
“I don’t like people spreading lies about my family,” he said simply and I rolled my eyes. Now was not the time to be cryptic. Before I could press further, however, the other boy spoke up.
“It wasn’t a lie,” he spat and Connor made to lunge at him, shouting about how it was a ‘fucking lie’. I stepped between them and held his shoulders firmly.
“What lies, Connor?” I asked softly and he looked into my eyes guiltily as if he didn’t want to say it to my face.
“That bastard,” he spat, “called you a whore.”
I froze. It couldn’t have spread that quickly could it? Even to the third years? I turned to give the kid a piece of my mind but James got there before me. He had the kid by the collar and was holding him up against the wall.
“You watch your mouth, you hear?” he snarled and the boy whimpered slightly. I shrieked and with the help of Fred pulled James off the poor kid.
“Don’t. You’re a bloody prefect,” I growled in his ear. Then louder, “Ten points each from Slytherin and Gryffindor for fighting and another five points from Gryffindor for prefect misconduct.”
James glared at me as if I had wronged him by docking points while he was standing up for me. I smiled at him in a sort of apology and turned away, pulling Connor away from everyone else.
I guided him around the corner to a more secluded area. I turned him to face me and ignored his sullen expression.
“What did you think you were doing?” I hissed and he shrugged.
“Like you wouldn’t have done it,” he retaliated. “The little prick had it coming.”
“For fuck’s sake would you stop swearing?” I asked and he raised an eyebrow at my blatant hypocrisy. “Look, all I’m saying is, don’t go looking for trouble ok? I can take care of myself. And I have the whole Weasley family behind me if need be. You don’t need to beat kids up to defend my honour, alright?”
Connor smiled softly at my joke and agreed. I kissed him on the forehead and pretended not to notice the disgusted expression that followed. I walked away, hugging myself against the cold breeze as I made my way back over to my group. I noticed with a sickening feeling that there were a few new members.
“Hey, Isla,” Jennifer sneered as I drew nearer. “I’m glad to see you two made up.”
Rose was intently examining her fingernails but I was proud to see a look of disdainful coolness plastering Jas’s face and I could tell her tongue was poised to cut Jennifer into pieces. Ashleigh looked as if she wanted to run away and Louis was just confused. I had already mentioned that I didn’t much care for my roommates so I could understand why he would assume that I had not told Jennifer about our spat.
“We never fell out,” Louis told her coolly and her face contorted in hysterical glee. She stared at me and I glowered at her, daring her to say what she was thinking. She did, the cow.
“You didn’t tell him?” she asked incredulously. “That was a bitch of a move, Finnegan.”
“Well, you would know,” I snapped and Jennifer’s face twisted. Clearly the insults didn’t work both ways. “Besides, there was nothing to tell.”
“Let’s face it, Davies. If you couldn’t get out a socialise you’d spread rumours to your cats,” Jas said with finality. Jennifer shrugged, admitting defeat.
“I just thought the guy should know that his girlfriend shagged his cousin that’s all. But if you’re cool with that, Louis, then I won’t judge. Oh, and I noticed that McLaggen has joined your little gang. Word to the wise, she’s a right back stabbing bitch.” She smiled sweetly and left. I flipped her off behind her back and Ashleigh sent a trip jinx flying towards her. Jas deflected it with a sigh. She was right. Jennifer was nowhere near worth it. I turned back to Louis. He was frowning.
“Nothing happened,” I told him quietly. He nodded but his eyes were trained of James who I noticed had started to waltz around the courtyard with Fred, no doubt trying to cheer him up.
“Then what was she basing it on?” Louis asked darkly and I sighed taking his hand in mine.
Telling the truth was not the most appealing option and in all honest I was mortified by the shivering wreck that I became the night before. I couldn’t lie though. If he found out I had, he would think the rumours were true. “I stayed in the boys’ dorm last night because after out fight I needed someone to talk to. James and I just sat up talking. He’s my best mate.”
Louis nodded solemnly, eventually cracking a smile. “I know he is, even if I can’t quite understand why you’re so fond of him. Anyway, as a wise man once said, a lot of things in life hardly matter and most don’t matter at all.”
I grinned at him and he pulled me into a hug.
“So, we good?”
“Yeah,” he said taking my hand as the bell rang. “We’re good.”
We walked into the entrance hall and two fourth year girls brushed past me. They were whispering excitedly. The dark haired one spoke first.
“So who’s the one she’s with now?” she asked the other.
“He’s the boyfriend. James Potter is the one she cheated on him with,” she explained sagely and I walked faster so I could continue listening in.
“Why is he still with her then?”
“Don’t know. Maybe she’s just really good in bed? Or maybe she’s not and James Potter doesn’t want her?” the other girl mused and by now I’d had just about enough. I pulled away from Louis and jumped up on the bench by the memorial.
With a determined glare, I raised my wand and shot three red flares into the air. They cracked and hissed as they hit the vaulted ceiling and nearly everyone turned to look. I then pressed the wand to my neck and muttered the sonorous charm.
“Ok,” I began, my voice booming around the hall. Everyone was watching me intently, probably thinking I’d gone mad. “I know a lot of you have heard a rumour about me going around today but it’s not true. I, Isla Finnegan, did not shag James Potter. Capische? Nothing happened. It is just some sick rumour spread around by a girl so desperate for attention she has to force it on others. Yes, Jennifer Davies, I mean you and your sad little mates. Please just shut the fuck up and let people live their lives please. Thanks.”
I am so sorry again for the long update but by computer had a virus and so on so you can forgive me yes? Good! Thank you all for reviewing! It makes me so happy to hear that you like it. Please keep giving me feedback or ideas or just stuff you want to see more or less of. The story still has a long way to go so your input is very welcome. Thanks for reading!