You are viewing a story from

Off the Rails by water_lily43175

Format: Novel
Chapters: 64
Word Count: 257,739

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Humor, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Scorpius, OC
Pairings: James/OC, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius

First Published: 09/16/2011
Last Chapter: 05/10/2014
Last Updated: 05/14/2020


Off the Rails: To start behaving strangely, in a way that is not acceptable to society; to lose track of reality.

James' life is perfect. He plays Quidditch for the Falcons, an England future seems certain, and the female attention isn't to be scoffed at.

Then he hooks up with a Muggle.

"Remember when you jumped off the Quidditch hoops without a broom? That was a better idea than this."

Dobby Award Winner 2014 - Best Plot Twist

Chapter 13: thirteen

It was back to the Hinky for Freddie, Brigid and me at the end of the week. Brigid was determined that it would be our last time and was making no effort to hide her glee about this.

“I never liked those daft Muggle drinks,” she said while getting ready in front of the mirror in my room. “Give me a Firewhisky any day.”

“Or Heidelberg mead,” I added slyly.

I saw her glare at me through the mirror and Freddie turned a laugh into a hacking cough.

“That was one time,” she said haughtily. “Besides, you get completely trashed at least once a month; you can hardly rib me for it.”

“Oh, but I can,” I said, shifting slightly to make myself comfier on my bed, “because it’s a regular occurrence from me, and it’s not from mature, respectable, ladylike Brigid Murphy-”

This time Freddie couldn’t disguise his laughter.

“Oh, stuff it.” Brigid sounded disgruntled. “It’s only ever you two who make a big deal out of me drinking, you know. Nobody else bats an eyelid. I like going out, just in case you hadn’t twigged. Especially if it’s at the Hinky, because it’s a cheap night. In fact, that’s another reason I prefer the Hinky; all the free drinks and perks we get.”

Freddie voiced his agreement and I tried to hide my displeasure. People always tried to convince me that those perks were due to my fame as a Quidditch player, but I knew they weren’t. None of the other Quidditch players received as many benefits as I, and by extension Freddie and Brigid, did, and more to the point, Al and Lily were treated in much the same manner as I was. It wasn’t hard to work out why this was the case.

“You going for Leggy Allegra later?” Brigid continued, pulling her hair back into a bun.

I shrugged.

“Dunno if she’s out tonight.”

“Oh, she is. She was in the Leaky earlier with some of her mates; they all looked dressed to impress. You’ve got with her before, haven’t you?”

“Couple of times, here and there. I don’t keep track of these things.”

“She’s a nice girl,” Her tone was casual but she glanced meaningfully at me.

“Mmm,” I agreed.

“Just remember you’ve got guests over tonight.” She brandished her hairbrush at me. “No sexy times tonight for you.”

“That’s what Silencing Charms are for, Murph,” Freddie butted in cheekily.

“Don’t you go encouraging him, Weasley,” she added sternly, turning the hairbrush on him, but her smile softened the effect. He grinned roguishly, and her cheeks tinged pink as she turned back to the mirror. I rolled my eyes and made a mental note to talk to Freddie later about the situation.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go to plan.

The spanner in the works came as we were on our way home. It was just the three of us – Allegra had been at the Hinky but, much to my disappointment, she had had to leave early to see to one of her friends, who was rather the worse for wear.

The walk home involved passing the Tav. Brigid kept glancing nervously at me as we approached, as though she was scared I was going to try to go inside. I could sense her sigh with relief as we safely passed the door.

I almost missed her, tucked away in an alcove just past the doors, out of sight of the bouncers. Then a slight movement caught my eye.

She was in a huddle on the floor, and appeared to be trembling. I couldn’t quite see her face; it was hidden by mounds of thick, curly, jet black hair. But I recognised the spicy scent that I’d come to associate with her, and the slightly dark skin tone that came from having a Spanish mother.


I knelt down and brushed the hair away from her face, then tilted her head up. Her eyes were glazed over, as though she’d drank far too much.

I heard Brigid groan behind me.

“James, we’re not getting even more tangled up in this mess,” she said shortly.

“You suggest we leave her here?” I said incredulously, turning my head to look up at her.

“No, but we can tell one of the bouncers, and they’ll find someone inside who can look after her. James, for Merlin’s sake-”

Ignoring her protests, I stood up, and lifted Carlotta with ease, one arm under her shoulders, the other under her knees.

“James, put her down!” Brigid hissed, her eyes flashing. “You’ve already done enough damage, without risking the Statute even more!”

“I’m not leaving her until I know she’s okay, Brigid,” I said firmly, and walked off up the road, towards the block of flats where I lived. Carlotta was still trembling, and seemed unaware of where she was.

“James!” Brigid ran to catch me up. “She will be okay, if we just let the bouncers find someone to look after her – Fred, help me out here!”

“It’s no good trying to persuade him,” he said, strolling along behind us. “You know what James is like, he’s as stubborn as a hippogriff.”

Brigid groaned with aggravation.

“I wish you’d grow some bloody balls, Weasley,” she snapped. “James, think about her, how scared do you think she’ll be when she wakes up in the morning and realises she’s back at yours? See, this is why you should have just had her Obliviated in the first place!”

I didn’t answer.

“Oh, Merlin, you’re not going to try to explain it all to her, are you? Because that would go down fantastically well...”

The idea had crossed my mind only moments earlier. Despite what Brigid, Freddie, Rose and Lily had all said, I still felt strongly that I didn’t want her memory wiped if there were any other options available to me. This seemed like the ideal opportunity to try to rectify my mistake.

“Well, on your head so be it,” Brigid said, “but don’t go getting me involved. I want it to be known that I was fully against this from the start-”

“Shut up, Brigid,” Freddie said quietly.

“Oh, so you’re on his side now-”

“I’m not on anyone’s side, but you’re not going to change his mind, and besides, you really shouldn’t be yelling all this here, or you’ll be the one breaching the Statute. Besides, nobody’s making you come back anyway.”

“Don’t be stupid,” she said loftily, “someone has to keep an eye on you both.”

I remained silent as I reached the front door to the flats, and waited for Freddie to open it for me. He rolled his eyes discretely as he held the door open.

Brigid was still muttering under her breath as she followed us up the stairs. At my door, she shot a surreptitious look up and down the corridor, before quickly unlocking it with her wand. She ushered us in, and shut the door behind her.

I headed to my room, but Brigid reached the door first and blocked it.

“I don’t think so,” she said, drawing her wand. “I’ve got this covered.”

She levitated Carlotta out of my arms, and steered her into the spare bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind them both.

I sighed with frustration and turned back to Freddie.

“What’s got her wand in a knot?” I said, irritably.

“She’s just worried about the Statute, and the trouble we could get into. And she’s got a point, not that you need me to remind you of that. She just doesn’t let things go though; that’s her problem.”

“But you agree with her?” I sat down opposite him and propped my legs up on the coffee table.

“Course I do. Carlotta’s a Muggle, she’s found out about magic, and more to the point she’s freaked out about it. Doesn’t bode well. If I were you I’d have gotten the Obliviators in straight away-”

“Would you, though?” I interrupted. “I mean, it’s easy enough to say that it’s the right thing to do, but it’s not quite so easy to actually do it.”

“It won’t hurt her, you know,” he said quietly. “And they’ll only take the bare minimum. They don’t even need to take away all the memories with you, just the one where she saw the picture and stuff. They can even implant a false memory to solve the issue of having to see her again. It’s the best option there is. It’s the only option, to tell the truth.”

I frowned.

“You know, sometimes you almost sound clever, Freddie,” I said.

“Just trying to keep you on your toes.” He grinned. “Don’t let Brie nag at you, though.”

We fell silent as the door to the spare room opened and Brigid slipped out of the room, shutting the door quietly behind her.

“I’ve put her in a pair of Lily’s pyjamas. She doesn’t seem to have a clue where she is still, and she’s shaking weirdly, but hopefully she’ll go to sleep soon. I conjured a glass of water and left it on the bedside table, so if she wakes up in the night and needs a drink she’s got one. I don’t think there’s anything else we can do. You still adamant you’re not getting the Obliviators in? Now would be the ideal time to do it...”

I glared at her.

“Okay, point taken.” She sighed. “Anyway, I’m going to bed. Try to keep the noise down, so you don’t disturb her. And don’t try going in there, just leave her be. Okay?”

We both nodded. Satisfied, she headed into my room and shut the door.

“I love how she always assumes she can have my room,” I sighed and conjured up blankets for me and Freddie.

“Least your sofas are comfy,” he replied, helping himself to a couple of blankets and lying back on one of them, adjusting a cushion behind his head. He paused. “You gonna try talking to her tomorrow morning?”

I didn’t need to ask who he meant.

“It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?” I said.

“You’re lucky,” he said slowly. “If it works ... if she comes round to it ... that’ll be the biggest cop-out of all time from you.”

“I know.” I stared up at the ceiling.

“What will you do after, though?” he continued.

I shrugged.

“I have no idea.”


I was woken the next morning by the smell of food coming from the kitchen. Freddie was already awake, and in the process of finding the Quidditch channel on the television.

“Brie’s cooking breakfast,” he explained unnecessarily. “Your Spanish princess hasn’t surfaced yet.”

I nodded and turned my attention to the live Quidditch game. The match was an Australian league fixture, between the Thundelarra Thunderers and the Woollongong Warriors. The two teams were fierce rivals and their games always involved numerous fouls and vicious injuries. Currently, the Thunderers were eighty points ahead, but this was to be expected. I knew that their Chasers were the three current Australian national Chasers – but, perhaps more importantly, the Warriors were fielding the national Seeker.

Brigid appeared with two steaming plates of food and handed them to Freddie and me. She wrapped her arms round my neck and planted a kiss on my cheek.

“I’m sorry I was an ass last night, Jim,” she said.

“It’s okay,” I said, examining my breakfast. “You were just trying to do what you thought was the right thing.”

“Yes, well, I still think I’m right,” she said sternly.

She headed back to the kitchen and returned moments later with her own plate of breakfast.

“Thunderers have got this in the bag,” she said, as they scored another goal.

“Nonsense,” I said. “If the Warriors catch the Snitch now, they’ve won. The Thunderers need to be about two hundred ahead before they can begin to breathe a bit easier.”

Another Thunderers goal.

“As I was saying,” she continued, “the Thunderers have got this.”

“Bet you ten Galleons they haven’t,” I said with a smirk. “Go on, put your money where your mouth is.”

“Deal,” she said flatly. “You in, Freddie? You can have the draw.” She grinned.

“Screw me over, why don’t you?” He scowled.

The Thunderers scored another three goals in quick succession, but the Warriors pulled one back, leaving them a hundred and twenty points behind. I was beginning to get twitchy, and Brigid’s cocky smile was growing wider.

“Still confident the Warriors are going to win?” She got to her feet. “Here, I’ll take your plates out.”

“Thanks for the grub,” I said, handing my empty plate to her. “And yes, I’m still confident. Any second now, and their Seeker will find the Snitch, just you wait.”

“We’ll see about that,” She grinned.

The door of the spare room opened, distracting her.

Carlotta peeped out of the small gap between the door and the frame, looking unsure.

“Morning,” Brigid said gently before I could say anything. “Do you want me to cook you some breakfast? You must be starving.”

Carlotta hesitated.

“I won’t bite, you know.” Brigid smiled. “Pass us your plate, Fred, I’m not bending down for it. And why can you never eat your bacon rind?”

He grinned cheekily, but picked his plate up off the floor and handed it to her.

The Thunderers scored again.

“I can feel that twenty Galleons in my pocket,” Brigid said smugly, heading to the kitchen. “You coming?” she added to Carlotta, who was still hovering in the doorway.

Carlotta hurried across the living room, shooting a furtive look at me as she did so, and followed Brigid into the kitchen.

“Least she’s awake,” Freddie said quietly.

“She’s still trembling, did you notice?” I frowned. “Her right arm was going like the clappers – oh, bugger.”

The Thunderers scored once again.

“It’s not looking good for you,” Freddie said gleefully.

“Whose side are you on?” I said indignantly. “Oh, bloody hell!”

The Warriors’ Keeper had just been taken out by a Bludger that had been superbly aimed by one of the Thunderers’ Beaters.

“Won’t make much difference, they may as well have not had a Keeper – ooh, now this is getting interesting!”

An full-on brawl had broken out between both teams’ Beaters, which resulted in all four of them being ordered off the pitch.

“The ref would do that after the Keeper’s been taken out,” I groaned.

“You don’t need the money anyway,” said Freddie, but he sounded sympathetic. “Bloody hell, that was against the run of play!”

For the Warriors had seized the Quaffle at the restart, made their way up the pitch and scored.

“Come on, Wilson, find the bloody Snitch!” I groaned.

“What’s happening?” Brigid called from the kitchen.

“Put the bloody wireless on!” Freddie retorted.

“Just tell me!”

“Shit,” I moaned, my head falling into my hands, as the Thunderers scored again.

“Your guys are one-forty up,” he updated her.

“Still think the Warriors will win, Potter?” she said gleefully.

“There’s still time,” I called back, before swearing loudly as a Thunderers Chaser scored a stunning goal from near the half-way line – as one could when the opposition had no Keeper and no Beaters.

“It’s game on now!” Freddie laughed. “Oh, bloody hell-”

I sat bolt upright.

“What’s happened?” Brigid called again.

“They’ve seen the Snitch!” Freddie and I called back at the same time, eyes glued to the television.

“Come on, guys, just one more goal, one more goal and it’s in the bag!” I said desperately, willing the Chasers on.

“They’re not gonna do it!” he said, a smirk on his face. “Their Chasers are hapless. Wilson will get the Snitch alright, it’s just a case of whether the Thunderers manage to score again first-”

“Who’s got the Quaffle?” I cried. Now the Seekers were in hot pursuit of the Snitch, it was as though everyone had forgotten that the rest of the game was still going on. “No, Wilson, wait, don’t catch it now-”

Wilson pulled out of his dive, raising his clenched right fist, which held the struggling Snitch. At the same time, Freddie rose to his feet, arms aloft in the same manner.

“Hand us your Galleons, Potter!” he said happily.

“Don’t say they drew!”

Brigid appeared in the doorway, looking crestfallen.

“Yup,” I said, downcast, as I handed Freddie a fistful of gold.

She groaned.

“That sounded exciting as well, they couldn’t wait thirty seconds for me to finish cooking, could they?” She sighed, shaking her head.

“Cough up, Murph,” Freddie said, still beaming widely.

“Are you joking? You didn’t even want to bet-”

“If you won and I tried to use that excuse you wouldn’t be having any of it, so that won’t work. You decided I was having the draw, you can bloody well pay up!”

She groaned, but picked up her bag from where she’d left it the night before.

“I hate you,” she scowled and rummaged through her purse. “You’ll have it in Knuts, right?”

“No, I bloody well will not,” he replied firmly. “For a start, if you’ve got enough Knuts for that then you’re nuts...”

“Hold your hands out,” she instructed.

He moaned as she dropped piles of silver and bronze coins into his hands. Some of them spilled onto the floor.

“Could you be any more difficult?” he grumbled, as he poured them into his pocket and collected up what had been dropped. “I bet that’s not ten Galleons, either-”

“Well here then, have a couple of Galleons to ease your mind.” She handed him two of the gold coins.

“Thanks.” He scowled.

“You’re welcome!” she beamed. “Anyway,” she continued, lowering her voice, “we should go. She’s eating at the moment. She seems okay, just very scared. Whatever you do, Jim, don’t scare her any more. I won’t tell you to get the Obliviators in, because I know you won’t.”

And with that, she Disapparated with a quiet pop.

“Good luck, mate,” Freddie grinned, before disappearing himself, with a slightly louder crack.

I got to my feet, and paused for a moment to gather my thoughts, before heading into the kitchen.

Carlotta was sitting at the table, picking at the plate of food in front of her. She looked up, a slightly alarmed expression on her face.

“There’s no need to be scared,” I said quietly, sitting down at the other end of the table to her. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

She didn’t look reassured.

“I’m sorry,” I continued. “You weren’t supposed to find out that way.”

The words hung unsaid between us. You weren’t supposed to find out at all.

She took a small bite of toast, chewed and swallowed, before asking her question, so quietly I could barely hear her.

“What are you?”

“I’m a wizard,” I said, in the same quiet tone. “I can do magic.”

Her eyes widened.

“But ... that’s impossible, magic doesn’t exist-”

“Of course it does. You saw it with your own eyes, last weekend. That photograph.”

She shuddered, as if the memory was a scary one – which, admittedly, it probably was.

“And, you all can? Fred, and Brigid, and-”

“Yeah,” I said.

She licked her lips slowly, processing the information.

“What ... what can you do?”

“Anything. Well,” I amended, “nearly anything. I could levitate you, turn your hair blue, turn you into a cat...”

She was beginning to look alarmed.

“Not that I would!” I added hastily. “In reality I doubt I could, I was never that hot at human Transfiguration. I know the theory, though. Let’s think ... I could unlock a door, conjure up water – or anything, really, so long as it’s not food – make something vanish, light or put out a fire, make something bigger or smaller, repair an object, fix a broken nose...” I was trying to think of things that wouldn’t freak her out, and it was proving to be surprisingly hard. “I can show you something, if you like?”

She nodded.

Her eyes widened as I drew my wand and aimed it at her plate and she pushed her chair back slightly, away from the table.

Wingardium Leviosa!”

She let out a small noise as the plate rose from the table, hovered about ten inches above it, before coming to rest back on the table again.

“That was weird...” she murmured.

Accio glass!” I said, aiming my wand at a glass on the side. It flew towards me and I caught it deftly with my left hand, setting it down on the table in front of me. “Aguamenti!” Water flowed out of the end of my wand, into the glass. “Locomotor glass.” I steered it across the table, until it sat in front of her. Her facial expression was unreadable.

“Try it,” I said with a grin. “Go on, I’ve not poisoned it.”

She smiled faintly, and picked up the glass. She took a sip of the water.

“That ... that’s really cool,” she said, putting the glass back down in front of her. “But ... why doesn’t everyone know about you, about magic?”

“They used to.” I put my wand down on the table. “But back in the fourteenth century, Muggles – that’s what we call non-magical people – began to grow scared of magic and started persecuting magical people. There were loads of witch burnings. Course, no real witches or wizards died; they just cast Flame-Freezing charms which cooled the fires. One witch, Wendelin the Weird, loved the tickling sensation so much that she let herself be captured forty-seven times ... but that’s not relevant. Anyway, it got so bad that in 1692 the International Confederation of Wizards decided to create the International Statute of Secrecy, which meant that the entire wizarding world went into hiding, and that’s how it’s been ever since.” The only reason I knew all the specifics was that Lily was studying History of Magic and ramming the facts down my throat at every opportunity apparently helped her revise. “And you and I together managed to break that Statute last weekend,” I added with a wry grin.

“Is ... is that serious, then?”

“Of course it’s serious, you could threaten everything we’ve spent over three hundred years trying to protect! You pose a huge security risk to the wizarding world.”

“I’ve not told anyone, though,” she said hurriedly. “I mean, what would I tell people? They’d think I’d gone mad! I thought I’d gone mad. Besides, I didn’t even know what it was that I’d seen, I just knew that it freaked me out...”

“But now you know,” I leaned forwards on my elbows, trying to hold back the smile that was playing at the corners of my mouth.

She frowned.

“So why tell me, if I’m not supposed to know?”

“Because ... I didn’t exactly want you to think you were mad, did I? I’ve been worrying all week about what you’d be thinking. You seemed petrified when I just appeared out of mid-air last weekend-”

“Can everyone do that?” she cut in. “You know, materialise at will?”

“You have to learn, and have a license,” I said, “but yes, most witches and wizards that are of age can Apparate – that’s what it’s called.”

“That is cool...” she said. “So, what are you supposed to do if a non-magical person finds out about magic?”

“Have your memory of it wiped.”

She winced.

“You can do that?”

“Like I said, you can do almost anything with magic.” I shrugged. “The only exceptions are that you can’t bring someone back from the dead, you can’t make people genuinely fall in love, and there are restrictions on what you can conjure. You can’t conjure up food from nothing, for example. Aside from that, almost anything is possible, including some very gruesome stuff which I wouldn’t dream of doing. And memories can be manipulated. If I’d done things properly, I’d have called in the Obliviators – that’s what they’re called, the people who wipe memories – and you wouldn’t have remembered a thing. But I didn’t like that thought. I still don’t. That’s why you still have those memories.”

She frowned again.

“So ... you were just going to leave me knowing...”

“I didn’t have a clue what to do,” I confessed. “Then, when I saw you last night, I figured, it was worth trying to explain it, to avoid having your memories wiped. On that note, what was wrong with you last night? You seemed really ill...”

She waved an hand airily – her left one. I noticed that her right arm, the one that had had the tremor, was resting on her lap, out of sight.

“Just drank too much. Nothing to be too concerned about. Thank you, by the way, for looking after me. Anyway, back to this magic business.”

I had to hide a grin. It was amusing how interesting she now seemed to find magic.

“What happens now then? I mean, I know about magic and I’m not meant to. So...”

“Muggles are allowed to know about magic, in exceptional circumstances,” I said with a shrug. “Witches and wizards marry Muggles all over the place, for example. I know this isn’t exactly exceptional circumstances, but the point is, you knowing about us isn’t the problem, it’s the security risk that your knowledge poses. So, this is where you now promise not to tell a soul.”

“Yeah, because people would really believe me.” She rolled her eyes. “Of course I won’t tell anyone.” She paused. “Doesn’t that mean you’re gonna have to keep an eye on me, to make sure I won’t tell anyone.”

“Well, I can’t say Brigid would be too happy if I just let you wander off into London and never saw you again.” I leaned back in my chair. “You don’t have to carry on knowing. We can still have your memory wiped-”

“NO!” she said loudly. “I ... I mean ... I find it interesting! I want to know ... if, if I can, that is...”

“Sure you can,” I said, shrugging. “You’re lucky I think you’re alright, if you annoyed me then you’d have had your memories wiped as quickly as possible.”

She pulled a face.

“Thanks for that,” she said. She looked down at her plate, which she had abandoned a long time ago. “I don’t know though ... I mean, won’t I find it weird, being surrounded by loads of people who can disappear and reappear anywhere, and unlock doors with a wand, and fly – I saw that sport on the television, they were flying on broomsticks – when I can’t do a thing magical?”

I shrugged again.

“Maybe. But then, Lily, my sister, manages, doesn’t she? So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.”

She cocked her head to one side.

“What do you mean, Lily manages?”

“Well, she’s a Squib, isn’t she? Not an ounce of magic in her.”

Carlotta’s eyes widened.

“Really? Is that common?”

“Not at all. In fact, it’s really rare; there aren’t many at all. Children of witches and wizards are nearly always magical and one parent being magical is enough. Witches and wizards can be born into non-magical families too. My Aunt Hermione’s parents are both Muggles, and my Dad’s mum’s parents were both Muggles too. But Mum’s family is magical as far back as time, near enough, and so was Dad’s dad’s family, so people found it really odd when it turned out that Lily was a Squib. They have no idea how it happens at all, it just does occasionally.”

Squib. That’s a horrible name. Poor Lily...” Carlotta fell silent for a moment. “That must be horrible for her, not being able to do magic when everyone else can...”

“I think she was pretty gutted at first – I mean, I can’t even imagine what it must be like being the only non-magical person in a magical family – and there’s a lot of us, Mum was one of seven and there’s twelve of my generation – but she’s really made the best of it. She goes to this boarding school near Falmouth, and she loves it. She’s Head Girl this year, and she’s in the school hockey team, and she plays a couple of other sports too. She wants to be the Muggle Liaison for the Ministry of Magic when she leaves school, so she has to do wizarding subjects as well, to get the relevant grades to do the job. If she gets the top grades, though – and I think she will – she’ll probably be the most appropriate person for the job. I mean, she’s lived in the Muggle world for years now.”

“What subjects does she do, then?”

“She does four Muggle subjects ... sometimes I forget what they are, obviously I never did them ... maths is one, history another ... chemistry, is it? The one where you blow things up?”

Carlotta giggled and nodded.

“And the planty one.”

“Biology, you mean?” she supplied.

“That’s the one,” I said. “She picked wizarding and Muggle subjects that went together, to make it easier for her, cause it’s one hell of a workload. She only does the theory side of the magical subjects, obviously; you need magic to do the practicals but anyone can learn the theory. So she does Arithmancy, which is to do with magical properties of numbers, History of Magic – that’s self-explanatory – Potions, which basically involves blowing things up, and Herbology, which is all about magical plants. Oh, and Muggle Studies, which is as it sounds, the study of non-magical people and how you lot live. I did that as a N.E.W.T subject – they’re the exams we do in our Seventh Year. She has to do it, it’s the one subject the Ministry of Magic require for the position of Muggle Liaison. On the whole she finds it a doddle, but some of the questions are daft, even Lily’s mate Maddie can’t answer them and she’s a Muggle.”

Carlotta’s eyes were wide as saucers once again.

“That’s a lot of work...”

“Mum thinks it’s too much. But Lily has to do at least three subjects at school, and the Ministry generally like five N.E.W.Ts so she says she can’t drop anything. And she won’t quit the sports teams because that’s where she gets her free time, and she won’t quit as Head Girl because it looks good and she says there aren’t all that many responsibilities on her shoulders anyway, so it’s not too bad. But yeah, sometimes I wonder how she manages it all. It’s incredible, how she’s turned being a Squib into a positive.”

Carlotta nodded, seemingly lost for words.

“So,” she said after a moment, “do any of her school mates know?”

“Two of them do,” I said. “Maddie, she’s been Lily’s best mate from the start, she was in the next bed in her dorm in their First Year. Maddie’s Head of Games and captain of the hockey team. And then there’s Kit, he doesn’t go to the same school, because it’s an all-girls’ school, he goes to the boarding school at the other end of town. But his parents work at Lily’s school, so he met them both in their First Year. They both found out about magic about four years ago. Maddie didn’t take too much persuading, Kit found it harder to adjust to, but now they’re fine with it.”

“But nobody else knows?”

“A few of the teachers at the school know, obviously – including Kit’s parents – but aside from that, nobody knows. She told one of Kit’s mates a couple of years back – she was dating him for a while and decided she wanted to tell him, but that backfired big time, and they had to have him Obliviated. She doesn’t like to talk about it, but it upset her a lot at the time.”

“Poor thing...” Carlotta murmured. “She must wish she didn’t have to keep it secret-”

“You’d be surprised. She’s in the best position to judge on it, and she says we have to stay hidden. The reaction of this guy she was with says it all. She thought he cared about her enough that it wouldn’t faze him, but it did. So she just has to get on with it. We all do. It’s not easy, but it’s that or be persecuted.”

She winced.

“So, what do you do for a living then?” she asked. “I really doubt you told me the truth last time. It doesn’t seem like you told me the truth about anything, to be honest...”

“I only lied where necessary, and most of the time I didn’t even do that, just twisted the truth. And I play Quidditch. That’s the sport we were watching earlier. Played on broomsticks. Our season starts in a couple of weeks, actually.”

“How do you play it?”She sounded interested. “And what team do you play for?”

“My team is called the Falmouth Falcons. Pure fluke that it’s near Lily’s school. It’s the team that Brigid’s mum coaches, which is why I play for them. Brie’s my agent actually; she represents a lot of players. Anyway, you have seven players on a team...”

A/N: First off, spare a thought for poor old Freddie. Ten Galleons is 170 Sickles, or 4930 Knuts. That's a lot of coins weighing his pocket down.

There you go! The big reveal :) Obviously, I've known from the start that Lily is a Squib, but I wanted to hold it back until Carlotta found out. You'd be surprised at how difficult it's been not letting something slip! Especially last chapter, I almost made a few references to pounds and pence and had to rewrite it to be more ambiguous :)