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Chapter 1 : Well Hello There
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Well hello there Hogwarts express.
I looked over the bustling platform with a distinctly sly smirk on my face. A bit of brown hair was sticking up a little bit in the back, and I causally smoothed it down, taking in the chaos, feeling the ladies’ eyes on me. Take it in, darlings. The show stops right here.
I felt taller here on the grey concrete platform, once again felt like my name meant something bigger than “put your dishes away.” Here, among my peers, I was someone.
The maze of students swarmed around me, pushing carts haphazardly and wearing black robes a size too big. Little fools.
It was also impossible to notice when the delightfully attractive Camille Jordan made direct eye contact with me as she passed.
“Hey,” I began to say in my best baritone, but instead she interrupted with “watch out.”
“OW!” I yelped when a sudden mass blew right into my knees.
Credit goes to my ever rude and noisy brother, who had eagerly attempted to shove his trunk right through me. I thought about saying something clever to Camille but she was long gone. DAMN YOU ALBUS.
Once again, my brother ruins everything.
“Move, this isn’t a freaking model show,” Albus huffed, glaring at me as he rolled by, tires squeaking as he jerked the cart of out my path. We maintained icy eye contact for a couple long seconds.
I was hoping he’d trip on something and face plant, but no such luck. His long, black unbuttoned trench coat ruffled behind him. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! SCREW YOU, ALBUS.
“SLEEP WITH ONE EYE OPEN!” I shouted after him half-heartedly. That kid was a weird one. I honestly didn’t get him most of the time. While I was generally a liar and laughed about everything, Albus was intense and serious. He had dated the same girl for two years (TWO YEARS!) and sometimes I’d catch them smiling at each other pawing at their shoulders in a disturbingly loving fashion. Albus and Jacklyn honestly scared the hell out of me with their intense literature debates and tea-brewing dates.
I mean, look at him. He rolls up his slacks, wears burgundy cable socks, scarves and likes wearing his thick-black framed glasses all the time. He liked music too, and scarves. I think I got all the testosterone in the family. It’s the only explanation.
“JAMSIE, MY BOY!” a familiar voice bellowed. Finally some quality bro time. I could feel my face light up as I ran in dramatic slow-motion toward my best mate.
“HEEEENNNNRRRRRYYYY!” I bellowed in whale-sound slowness.
“JAAAAAAAAMMEEESSSS!” he echoed.
We continued closing our gap in a ridiculously slow fashion, holding up traffic and earning us some ticked off glances.
“HAAAAANNNNGGG INNNN THEEERREEEE” he called.
Laughing, we exchanged a fantastic man-hug, accompanied by back-breaking slaps.
Henry Longbottom was, without a doubt, the funniest and filthiest kid I’d ever known. Obviously we were a perfect match. We had been best friends since first year, where we’d met in multiple detentions. You could call us platonic, but mostly we were trouble makers. There was the added benefit that we always found the other hilarious even when everyone else didn’t.
“Ok, ok, restrain yourself,” Henry joked, pushing me away roughly. “JAMES STOP TOUCHING ME!” he shrieked loudly, causing a couple moms to raise their eyebrows. “Oh no, I’m open,” Henry called after them. “Don’t misread this situation, he’s the sexual abuser.”
“You wish,” I scoffed. “How’s Gracie going?”
“Gracie who?” he said with mock confusion. “Ohhh, Gracie Finnigan! Yes, well we cut the knot.”
“Sliced the radish?” I euphemized.
“Broke the string,” Henry corrected.
“Killed the mouse.”
“Snapped the cracker.”
“Sniffed the arsenic.”
“Choked the baby.”
“Slapped the mom.”
“Torched the dogshed.”
“Lit the paper.”
“Strangled the parakeet.”
“ENOUGH!” a familiar voice shouted. Surprised, Henry and I turned to face the ever lovely (cough cough) Rose Weasley, a loud and bossy girl often generally annoyed by our presence. Her caramel-brown hair was expertly styled into shaped waves and her makeup was impeccable. Rose was one those girls that wanted to be seen as a good-girl with a badass side but was usually too lame or annoying to get anything done. (Not like she hasn’t tried.) I couldn’t help but think how long it must have taken for her to do her hair this morning.
“My bad, your highness,” I apologized, bowing deeply and with great sarcasm. “I didn’t realize this was your platform.”
Rose glared at me, one hand in her hip, lips pursed. She did her best to attract Henry, he was oblivious and I was amused. “James,” she said in her prissiest this-is-your-warning voice.
“I’m sorry Mummy,” I sniffled. She straightened up , self consciously brushing at her hair, and, smiling, addressed Henry.
“So, Henry, how was your summer?”
“Great,” Henry answered earnestly, brushing his burlap-shaded hair out of his eyes. His pale skin was freckled across the nose. “Fantastic, actually. Did the summer reading. Some of those iritic charms were incredible! I got a lot done, too, banged a ton of girls—“
I erupted into snickers.
“Oh, shut up!” Rose cried, hitting him on the arm with her book and moving back toward the train. “You two are insufferable.”
“OW!” Henry yelled after her. “Rose! That was completely uncalled for! Come back and flirt more!”
Laughing and exchanging terrible jokes, we made our way toward the Hogwarts Express.
“James, dear, have a nice year!” my Dad called after me just as I was getting onto the train. “Take care of Albus will you? Keep up the great work son, write lots! I love you!”
“Bye, dad,” I muttered as he insisted on giving me a fatherly pat. “Dad, go, bye!” I hissed as I squirmed out of his clutches.
“Oh, look, it’s your Mom!” Henry called excitedly. Shit, shit, where can I hide?!?
Here’s one thing you should know: Ginny Potter don’t mess around. “Son,” she instructed wisely into my ear, locking my arm with an iron grip, “if you try any more stupid shit this year, I will personally hex your arse to Tibet. Do you understand?”
“Yes Mum,” I acknowledged embarrassedly. Henry was struggling to keep a straight face.
We surged into the train, desperate to avoid any more parent-child contact. After all, we were MEN. My mum smiled tightly at me through the window. “TO TIBET,” she reminded cheerfully, waving with the other moms.
Finally, we escaped to the safe confines of the back hall where we could begin to locate our friends. We had an odd group of people, but I loved them all.
“Here’s the gang,” Henry called, eagerly yanking open a door down the hall. “WE’RE HERE!” he shouted as he barged in, waving his wand erratically to send sparks everywhere.
There were only two people sprawled around the compartment to witness our grand entrance. On the seat, looking like we’d just interrupted him was Scorpius, a handsome young man and a hell of a seeker. I had a definite man-crush on Scorpius, he was a terrible flirt with all the females (especially Ravenclaw) and had the girliest handwriting I’ve ever seen.
Lying on the ground sprawled out was Gracie, who was a gorgeous brunette and the Hufflepuff’s decently skilled keeper. She looked up at Henry. They exchanged an awkward glance.
“Well, this is awkward,” I coughed. “Let’s just sit down and pretend half the people in this room didn’t date over the summer.”
Now you may think this is terribly rude and inconsiderate. However, my friends were used to this sort of crap. Matter of fact, they were immune.
“Yes, I believe Scorpius and James had a fling,” Henry proclaimed gravely, raising his water bottle in a solemn toast. “Here’s to young love.”
“Hello yourselfs,” Gracie said, sitting up. I blinked madly to avoid staring down her shirt. She was honestly a goddess. Henry and I took turns being obsessed with her. She had dark brown eyes and long, shiny hair and a fairly nice, erm, body.
“Now, could you please shut up?” she sighed, tugging on her white v-neck tee shirt, which just made her tan skin look like copper. “Scorpius was in the middle of something.”
“Oh, do go on,” Henry said regally, gesturing, clearing his throat. “Stage is clear.”
“Yes, please do,” I agreed, starting a one man chant, banging on my thighs. “SCORP-IUS, SCORP-IUS, SCORP-IUS!”
“DID I HEAR A CHANT?!”
Once again, the doors were flung open, this time by Charlotte Wood. Grinning ear to ear, she gave us all hearty high-fives.
“PARTY ROOM!” she bellowed down the hall. Laughing, she flopped onto the chair. “Resume chanting!” she ordered.
Henry and I exchanged a happy glance. Charlotte was one of our favorite people in the world. She was a tomboy through and through, with brown hair that was permanently in a ponytail or braid. She was also (easily) the star of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. She’d never been called Charlotte more than twice, everyone called her Charlie, or Lottie, etc. She was a beast of many names. My personal little nickname for her was Char. I’d known her forever.
“AS I WAS SAYING!” Scorpius snapped, shooting dagger eyes at Charlie, who was too busy trying to wrestle her cat back into her trunk to notice. “So my dad was really upset about the whole ordeal, and he sent about 50 letters to the ministry begging for forgiveness.”
“Wait up a second!” Henry interrupted. “What? When? Where? How?”
“I’m not repeating it again,” Scorpius sighed. “Your loss.”
“It was a terribly good story,” Gracie sympathized, brushing a hair out of her eyes.
“Well then, let’s talk about something worthwhile,” I decided, yanking my gaze away from her. I had to become immunized to her beauty and then I could treat her like a mortal.
“QUIDDITCH!” Charlie finished loudly. “We’re going to have such a good team this year.”
“Agreed,” Henry added. We were both beaters, and as you can probably guess, made a dominating duo. Charlie was the main chaser and could probably win a game all by herself.
“It’s always Quidditch, Lottie,” complained Gracie, moving to sit by Henry. Hmmmm. I gave Henry a ludicrous wink, which he returned by making some fairly crude finger gestures for sex.
It was funny because I knew that Henry actually liked Gracie for more than her looks. Underneath her angelic surface was a kind and caring individual. Henry (like me) was just an arse that didn’t think long term and couldn’t prioritize the alphabet.
“Hell yeah it is!” Charlie agreed, ignoring Gracie’s pout. “Try outs are going to be so intense this year. Let’s put some fitness into the mix. A three mile run. Get ‘em sweating, then pop ‘em on broomsticks for a full speed race.”
Charlie cackled at the thought.
“Brilliant. And after they vomit, we will be reported to the headmaster for abuse,” Scorpius complained dryly.
“Don’t be such a downer,” Charlie joked, punching him in the arm. “Knowing James and Henry, molesting and battery would somehow work its way into the charges.”
We were still laughing when the door slipped open and Miranda Creevey, a frangible girl with skin the color of milk, wandered in.
“Miranda, my love,” I offered warmly, scooting over to make room for her.
Our entire group had a fond sort of obsession with Miranda—she was achingly shy but without a doubt the most gifted magician in Hogwarts. It’s true she could have graduated in her third year, but we convinced her to hang around and write our essays for us. Even to this day I’m surprised she complied.
Miranda sat down beside me, murmuring a quick, “hello, how’s your summer,” before pulling a thick book out of her leather bag. Guess that was rhetorical.
“Annnnddddd…. She’s gone,” Henry chuckled. “Miranda, show us some magic!” he begged. “Pull out that wand. Wave it around. Let’s go.”
She looked up, confused. “What?!”
“MAGIC, darling! Show us your talent! Plllleeeeeassse?!?!”
Miranda turned a delicate shade of pink and extracted her wand. This was a pattern we’d repeated many a time. She used to protest but had eventually realized we were an obnoxiously stubborn bunch. “Okay, everyone be quiet,” she muttered.
Miranda’s eyes began to take on a slight glow as she murmured some complicated spell, I recognized a bit of it as Arabic but there was some sort of Sanskrit in there as well. Her wand became dark black and the noise drained out of the compartment.
Transfixed, we stared at the center of the room. A small, shuddering hole was worming through the air, like it was tearing through the coarse threads of space. I craned my neck to look into it; all I could see was green and glimpses of blue. A flash of gold—wait! I knew that sight!
“THE QUIDDITCH PITCH!” I exclaimed. At once, the hole collapsed, and the noise flooded back in like a great static-filled sigh. Everyone looked at me.
“Wait to ruin it,” Charlie complained.
“What was that?” Gracie asked. I noticed one of her hands was lightly resting on Henry’s leg. I smiled to myself. Good work mate. So much for paper-liting baby-choking mom-slapping breakups.
“Well, if it worked right,” Miranda whispered hurriedly, pulling her book back out clumsily, “it sort of twisted a hole into time, warping it almost. That little window was a portal of sorts—not applicable to travel, of course—but if I did it right, which I think I may have, I’m not sure—it would have created a window into, theoretically, the future.”
“NICE!” Charlie shouted, leaning forward to give Miranda a high five, which she weakly returned. “That’s sweet. I think I saw us holding the House Cup and Quidditch Cup.”
“I saw myself as headmaster,” Henry said pensively. “I didn’t know what to do with all the power.”
Gracie turned and glared at Henry. “You really haven’t changed at all over the summer, have you,” she accused. I couldn’t tell if she was being playful or was genuinely annoyed. Probably both.
“My love, I’m for sale as is,” Henry yawned. “A little banged-up,” he chuckled darkly. Oh, my god.
I frowned slightly. Come on, Henry say something nice. But he didn’t instead he stood up and announced he had to piss.
“Bye Henry,” Scorpius sang as Henry walked stiff-legged out of the compartment.
“Why don’t we go ahead and kick out all the guys so we can change?” Gracie suggested to Charlie, glancing at Scorpius and I.
“Or we could stay?” I joked.
“Get out,” Gracie said, exasperated. She was baring her wand like it was a sword of some sort, which was funny because she sucked at dueling.
“Let’s fight!” I exclaimed, pulling out my wand.
“NO!” Gracie shouted impatiently. “GET OUT NOW. I AM NOT GOING TO WAIT AROUND WHILE YOU MAKE A BLOODY FOOL OUT OF YOURSELF.”
I felt an icy, thick grip snake around my chest and had the sensation of movement before I realized I was suddenly standing in the next booth over. Four boys and three girls stared at me with either interest or disgust.
“James, pleasure as always,” Jack Neilson said, standing up and shaking my hand. Of all the Slytherins, I had the most respect for Jack. He was an honest, down-to-earth fellow. He broke Henry’s arm in a Quidditch match and they had a friendly rivalry but I was on good terms with Jack.
“I’ll be leaving,” I said politely, casually excusing myself. I rapped on the door of the locked lady’s booth and called, “nice charm Miranda!” before leaving to go find Henry.
In our second year Henry and I had devised this ingenious charm that literally magnetized our bodies. That way, we could preform a little derivation of “find me” charm and be able to locate each other from anywhere. We were convinced someday, when we were on a great adventure, that spell would save our lives.
Nowadays, of course, it was really only used for wandering around aimlessly looking for each other. I found Henry in the boy’s tiny bathroom.
“LET ME IN BRO,” I yelled to the door before magically unlocking the lock and letting myself in. To my surprise, Henry wasn’t changing but instead was looking at something on his back in the mirror.
“Wow, what’s that?” I asked, surprised. A deep purplish bruise stained his lower back.
“Nasty Quidditch fall,” he lied. I shrugged. He would tell me when he was ready.
“Want to visit your dad to get some herb or gel to clear it up?”
“Nah, I’ll be fine,” he said pulling on his robes. “You should probably change too,” he added, glancing at my street clothes.
“So,” I began, pulling off my shoes. “What exactly is up with you and Gracie? She likes you, man.”
“I don’t know,” Henry answered curtly. “She can be kind of a bitch sometimes.”
“Well, you’re an arse most of the time, so it balances things out.”
Henry laughed blankly, staring at the wall. “Right again. She’ll find someone else soon. I hate bloody drama.”
“Agreed.” I knotted my tie and ran my fingers through my hair. “Damn do we look fine,” I joked, looking at our reflections in the mirror.
“James and Henry,” Henry sang. It was this stupid song he’d made up fourth year that had turned into a running joke. “James and Henry, tearing shit up, crazy talented, they know what’s up.”
I grinned and joined in. “James and Henry, watch them cast a spell. They’re so wonder-fell, they will soon rule hell.”
Laughing, we left the bathroom. “After all those times, it’s still a catchy tune.”
“Brilliant lyrics,” I commented. “So deep and metaphorical.”
I paused and reached out the steady myself on the doorframe as the train slowed, blowing great puffs of smoke into the darkening sky. The stars were beginning to appear like silver pin tacks on the blue velvet horizon. I hate mushy shit, but I will admit it took my breath away. Sometimes you just feel the presence of something bigger than yourself, you know?
“We’re here,” Henry whispered, either humbled with awe or pissing out the window. He had that tone in his voice.
I could see Hogwart’s silhouette growing on the lake, bright with candle light and magic. My fingers itched with excitement. Only two years left until we were free men. MERLIN. That was a scary thought.
“Six year,” I whispered. “Let’s tear shit up!”
Exchanging a quick glance, we thrust our wands out the window and sent loud explosions of fireworks into the blue night air.
The great hall was filled with deafening clamor. Most of it came from Gryffindors. And most of that came from our end of the table.
“Yo, Leo, PASS THE BUTTER!” Henry bellowed for the sake of being loud. Leo was three seats down.
“Sure thing,” Leo chuckled, sending it our way with a flick of his wand.
“THANK YOU,” Henry responded. I glanced down the table. Miranda was reading (surprise), Gracie was laughing with my girly ex Kaylie from Ravenclaw who twaddled her fingers in a little hello, Scorpius was surrounded by women and seemed to be engaged in an animated and fascinating tale, Charlie was eagerly gesturing to someone, no doubt discussing some Quidditch play she’d dreamt up over the summer. I decided to start a conversation with the boy on my right, a burly fourth year, but was promptly interrupted when our headmistress, McGonagall, started her speech. She clapped once and an echoing boom filled the hall.
“LESH BE QUIET,” I instructed, swallowing some food down then coughing it up. Everyone laughed. Me being moral and ethical was a joke in itself.
“Silence,” she hissed. “In a couple minutes, we shall begin the sorting.” As she spoke, I noticed tiny terrified first years lining up down the hall. They looked like shrimp in black robes.
“I’d like to welcome everyone here back for a fantastic year. Also, a reminder that fireworks are not allowed on school campus.”
I felt a looney smile spread across my face as McGonagall literally drilled her eyes into my head. “Who, me?” I mouthed with total confused ignorance.
“When I call your name, please come sit on the stool. Thank you.” McGonagall stepped down from the podium and allowed the sorting to begin. Normally, we did some fun celebration magic whenever a kid was sorted into Gryffindor, but considering we’d already gotten into trouble we decided to just pound our chests and release feral roars.
“Malfoy, Tania,” Professor Lovegood read in a sort of vague way. She had a gift of making everything seem like a question, which became hell in astronomy. Capricorn is chasing Andromeda? Wait, is that a fact or are you quizzing us?
Scopius’ sister ran up and plopped down on the stool with a bored expression. Tania was a pint-size rebel at 11. She had combat boots on and fishnet poking out from under her skirt. Her eyes were thickly outlined. Scorpius winced at the sight of his sister. She clashed with his beach boy image.
“I told her not to wear that,” he grimaced. “Dad’s gonna be pissed.”
“RAVENCLAW!” the hat bellowed. I clapped with Henry and we watched Tania walk over to the table, which was clapping skeptically.
“She’s smart,” Scorpius insisted. “She’ll do well.” It sounded like he was trying to comfort himself more than us.
“CAN I DATE HER?” Henry yelled loud enough for Tania, one table over, to hear. “DAMN THAT GIRL WAS HOT!”
“HENRY LONGBOTTOM!” Professor McGonagall was suddenly right bloody behind us. I yelped in pure terror. She was so much easier to ignore from afar.
“YOU AND MR. POTTER WILL REFRAIN FROM ANY MORE MISCHIEF!” she hissed. “Do you understand?! FIREWORKS IS ONE THING. CALLING A FIRST YEAR ‘HOT’ IS ANOTHER.”
“Yes-mm,” Henry whimpered. McGonagall turned her hawk eyes on me.
“Yes, yes, yes,” I blurted. My mouth was completely disconnected from my mind. Smiling, she swept down the aisle. Everyone in Gryffindor was staring at us.
“I just peed my pants,” Henry admitted quietly. “Guess that’s enough yelling for tonight.”
We turned our attention back to the sorting like perfect children. I tried to tune out Charlie’s hysterical laughter at our shaken appearance. Gracie gave Henry a satisfied smirk.
“Dourton, Huge,” became a Hufflepuff and we clapped and cheered politely.
“Lovin, Matthew,” became a Slytherin and we clapped and cheered politely.
“Rehn, Katie,” became a Ravenclaw and we clapped and cheered politely.
“Thyme, Lily,” became a Gryffindor and we cheered loudly then snapped back into quiet golf-cheers.
Dessert finally appeared, and we held a mild cookie-eating contest. Things quickly got out of control. Scorpius dominated by shoveling down 19 shortbreads in 25 seconds. Stuffed with sugar and pride, he spent a while relishing the attention bestowed upon him before proving his manhood by swallowing one more.
“Surprisingly sensual, Malfoy chews the lucky cookie in his mouth before manfully sending it to his digestive system.” I announced, being the assigned commentator of said contest. “The ladies swarm to congratulate our luscious winner.”
“Screw you, James,” he growled, wiping crumbs off his face. I laughed good-naturedly. Didn’t I tell you he was cute to screw around with?
I yawned and loosened my tie. Gracie was trying (unsuccessfully) to catch Henry’s eyes. I was tired. Maybe McGonagall had put some sort of evil sleeping charm on me.
“Is this feast over yet?” I complained. “I want to go to bed.”
“BED?!” Charlie exclaimed, overhearing. “Are you kidding me?! The fun has just started! Let’s find some butter beer and parrrty!”
“We’re going to sleep,” Miranda softly declared. It was like a mouse telling a cat not to eat it.
“Psh,” Charlie laughed, brushing her off. “Miranda, it is our SIXTH YEAR! You are not going to read! You’re gonna live the thug life!”
Miranda brushed small crumbs off her jet black robes. Her blond hair was so fine it seemed to float in small tendrils. I noticed something shiny pinned to her chest.
“Wait, you’re a prefect?!” I don’t know why I was surprised.
“Yes,” Miranda said in a I’m-surprised-too manner. Of course she would be prefect. That only made perfect sense.
“You’re going to have to be a little louder if your job is bossing people around,” Henry pointed out, holding a cookie in his hand. He took a large bite and chewed with his mouth wide open.
“I’ll try,” Miranda sighed softly, adding, “that’s disgusting.”
Smiling, I watched her carefully close her book and slide it into its bag. “To the dormitories?”
“Please,” I said, yawning again. I stretched and looked over at the professors’ table. They were talking and laughing. Most of the students had already filtered back to the commons.
“I can’t wait for this year,” Charlie said enthusiastically as we began heading down the hall. “We’re going to take it all. House Cup. Quidditch Cup. Glory.”
“Charges for public urination,” Henry continued. “Numerous counts of illegal plant-growing.”
“What kind of illegal plant?” I inquired, kicking a stray pebble and sending it rattling down the hall.
“Some sort of sleeping draught, ideally,” Henry answered thoughtfully. “A pain remedy for Muggle Studies and History of Magic.”
“Oh, stop fussing,” Miranda chastised in her small voice. She stopped at the fat lady. “Vigilance,” she called out.
“CONSTANT VILIGANCE,” Henry imitated. “Our motto.”
The fat lady shot us an annoyed glare and swung open. Henry and I had mooned her everyday while leaving for class last year.
“Hullo,” Henry said cheerfully as we climbed in. “Pleasure seeing you.”
“I will report you!” she shrilled. “If you even touch your pants I will call the headmistress! Don’t try me!”
Laughing, we bid the ladies farewell and, after running up the stairs three at a time, collapsed in our beds.
“I am exhausted,” I admitted into the darkness. I heard a loud noise, perhaps a belch or fart.
“I am going to sleep now and dream of sex.”
Scorpius’ frightful voice rang through the room. “Don’t you dare, last time you did that you sleepwalked over to my bed!”
Henry laughed an empty laugh, like he was fulfilling his cue. “And you loved it.”
Scorpius made some sort of disgruntled noise.
“Night,” Henry called to me.
I rolled over and faced the great window that looked over the lake.
A faint wilting melody curled through the air. “Jam-es and Hen-ry, tearing shit—“
“SHUT THE FUCK UP,” Scorpius snapped. “I NEED MY BEAUTY SLEEP NOW.”
There was a long silence, then a couple laughs. “Whatever. Night.”
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