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Famous by Association by PINKhairedLOVER

Format: Novel
Chapters: 20
Word Count: 83,035
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Neville, Luna, Ginny, Oliver, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), OC
Pairings: James/OC

First Published: 11/29/2007
Last Chapter: 11/12/2008
Last Updated: 03/29/2012

Summary:



Two worlds collide to crumble at her feet; when suddenly, Alex finds her life high jacked by a devious thirteen-year-old. As Alex will soon find out, just because she put James Potter in her past doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily stay there. Who knew quidditch games could be so dramatic?

***COMPLETED***
70,000+ reads! You guys rock my socks!


Chapter 1: Chapter One: Knickers on the Nightly News
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A/N: I started writing this a while ago and never got around to posting it. Like usual, my life is positively, insanely busy (what else is new). But the fact remains that I love love love this story. So I decided to post it and see how everyone responds. So if you like it please comment. If the response is big enough, I will pick up the pen and keep writing. Thanx for the time and I hope you enjoy the story.

Chapter One:
Knickers on the Nightly News







At first glance you would think her a Greek goddess, she knew she was beautiful and she despised it. Peering at her reflection, she scowled at the haughty, formidable stance and face that stared back at her. She stood before the elegant floor length mirror, mechanically smoothing out the wrinkles of her pale lavender dress. The dress’s light and flowing fabrics fell away from her hips and were draped gracefully from shoulder to shoulder. The dress was, as her mother would say, “completely innocent with just a touch of immodesty, perfect for a girl her age.” She rolled her eyes as she thought of her mother. A gentle knock sounded at the door as she lifted a frustrated hand to push several curls behind the golden circlets that sat upon her head. Ignoring the latest visitor, she walked to her dresser and pulled out a long golden chain with a single rectangle-shaped charm. Fastening it around her small neck, she examined the effect it had on her appearance.

Feeling she could not ignore her any longer, she turned from the mirror to face her mother. Her mother’s name was Rana Elemere Callista Wood; it was a big name for a very important lady. In her youth, Rana was the most famous witch model in the wizarding world. She was photographed thousands of times and appeared on multiple occasions in every well-known magical newspaper and magazine. She was made even more famous by her ambitious attempt to become what muggles would call a “supermodel.” She was a force to be reckoned with and could barrel over all those who would dare stand in her way. In her later years, Mrs. Wood became bored with modeling and set off in a direction that (if it were possible) made her even more famous. She was now the editor and chief of the very popular “Witch Weekly.” Both beautiful and intelligent, the then Ms. Callista, would one day catch the eye of the very popular Quidditch player Oliver Wood. Rana and Oliver would marry three years after the war and undoubtedly add to each others’ fame.

Standing in the lavender dress was Alexandra Callista Wood and she was born “famous by association.” Inheriting all of her mother’s good looks, her father’s Quidditch skills, and their combined intelligence and dedication, it was hard not to admire the sheer perfection of her genetic makeup. If the wizarding world had Kings and Queens, she would undoubtedly be royalty. She would not be a princess, no, that would be a Weasley or a Potter, but she would at least be a duchess or a countess. She would be invited to all the balls and would sit along the high table with all her fellow royals. Alexandra hated her position and she hated her title and had always felt that she had been defined by her surname, not by what she did with her life.

Her scowl pronounced even more as she turned to face her mother who had long since entered the room.

“I don’t know why you are so unhappy, do you know how many people are dying to go to this party?” responded Mrs. Wood without even saying hello.

“There is no need for them to die, one of them can just have my invitation.” responded Alexandra coolly.

“Why are you wearing that ghastly necklace?” said Mrs. Wood changing the subject quickly.

“We went over this the last time mother, Dad bought it for my eleventh birthday, and it means a lot to me.”

An argument was about to break out when a slight knock sounded on the bedroom door and Mr. Wood entered cautiously.

“Not fighting are we ladies?” said Wood as his wife swooped down and immediately began to straighten and fix his tie.

“Not at all dear, just having friendly conversation.” said Mrs. Wood with a falsely cheery voice.

Just then, the bedroom door flew wide open to reveal the fourth and final member of the Wood family. Alexandra’s older brother Ace strode uninvited into the room holding four very thick pieces of parchment.

“Oi, we better get ready, it is almost our turn.”

With this announcement, each member took an invitation that had their name written upon it. Each invite was an individual portkey and would take them directly to the exclusive party. Seconds before they were about to depart, Mrs. Wood looked up and hurriedly said, “Now remember we will be appearing in a tent just outside the red carpet. One by one we will walk down the carpet and into the entrance hall. Alexandra, please remember to smile, every reporter this side of the Alps will be there. It is a party thrown by the Potters and Mr. Potter is a very good friend of your father’s.”

Rolling her eyes, Alexandra fixed her grip on the invitation, even after all these years of traveling to parties in this manner she still hated it. Her brother began to count down, “5…4…3…”

Just as he had finished saying three, an odd tingling sensation overcame her that had nothing to do with the portkey. As the world began to spin and blur and that all too familiar jerk came from behind her navel, Alexandra let out an earth shattering sneeze. As the world righted itself for the other three family members, Alexandra’s continued to spin. Unable to regain balance, she fell unhindered through the tent entrance. She landed rather ungracefully onto the red carpet. Alexandra felt her dress fly up around her face. Instantly, flashbulbs and shouting exploded from the laughing reporters. Blushing furiously, Alexandra realized that the next morning’s press would definitely have a full page picture of her knickers. The press had hounded Alexandra since she had become a teenager. Each reporter thinking it was their sole responsibility to uncover every detail of her “famous” life, which is why she hated parties and going out in general, because no matter how crappy of a day she was having, there was always a reporter there to make it worse.

Alexandra felt a firm hand grip her elbow and drag her upright. Unsurprised, she looked up to see her mother smiling toothily beside her. The grip on her elbow increased and, following her mother’s lead, Alexandra smiled falsely as she continued her path down the wretched red carpet. How much dignity do you really have after you flash a crowd of middle-age reporters? Well, I guess that depends on the person who did the flashing. Scraping up the little dignity that still lay on the floor, Alexandra walked up the stairs and into the Potters’ mansion.

The Wood family was immediately greeted by the Potters’. Harry, Ginny, Lily, and Albus walked over, with the ominous exception of James, who seemed to be off doing more important things. Slightly relieved, she couldn’t help but feel that she had dodged a bullet by his absence. James Potter was (in a very easily distracted sense) infatuated with Alexandra. She had never returned his feelings, barely giving him the time of day and Alexandra dreaded the day he made a serious attempt to woo her. As far as she was concerned, James Potter was nothing more than a spotlight-loving git.

Smiling genuinely for the first time in hours, Alexandra shook the Potters’ hands and thanked them for the generous invitation. In the next hour, Alexandra shook more hands and spoke more politics and Quidditch tactics than she was pleased to admit. In no time at all, a small dinging bell announced that dinner was being served. Alexandra sat down as her father pulled out her chair. Looking up for the first time, she realized that James was sitting directly in front of her with a mischievous grin painted over his handsome face. Rolling her eyes, Alexandra busied herself with her dinner and ignored James’s many attempts to catch her eye.

The pair had made it successfully through all five courses before a slight disagreement threatened to overcome them. Alexandra was gently lifting a spoonful of crème brulée to her mouth. James watched, not at all abashed to show every ounce of his desire. Almost absentmindedly, he stretched out his foot to touch her ankle and began to run it along the inside of her leg. However, somewhere between her knee and her thigh something went terribly wrong. In a sheer moment of excitement, he barely noticed the extreme amount of force that had caused his chair to skid dangerously backwards. As his chair flipped and James toppled out stunned and confused, Alexandra quickly stuffed her wand back into her dress.

Every head in the hall turned first to James, who was unsteadily beginning to stand up, and then to Alexandra, who with great effort, remained sitting with an innocent face. After a few more seconds of awkward silence, the hall returned to the murmur of individual conversations. James had replaced his chair in its proper spot and sat down upon it once more. Looking up, he saw Alexandra’s eyebrows raise slightly as if to say, don’t ever do that again. He had a bruised ego, but even public embarrassment wasn’t enough to prevent James Potter from getting what he wanted.

The rest of the dinner went on with little to no disruptions. Alexandra sat determinedly staring at her unfinished dessert. After a while, the meal broke apart and the guests began to mingle once more. Bored, Alexandra merely followed her mother and tuned out the conversations that she observed. Coming out of a slight daze, she realized that her parents were talking animatedly to Mr. Potter and James. They were undoubtedly talking about Quidditch. Rolling her eyes, Alexandra was about to tune out once more when she heard the fateful words depart from her father’s lips.

“So I heard a rumor that you just signed a contract with Ireland to coach for the next season?” asked Harry.

“I knew it wouldn’t stay secret for long, but yeah, I will be coaching for Ireland.” said Wood.

“That is totally awesome, Mr. Wood! Is it okay if I go to a practice with you? Those guys are amazing!”

Alexandra’s mind came crashing back down to earth, how on earth could I not know about this? Turning quickly to face her mother, she crossed her arms and stood looking for an explanation. Her mother sensed the danger ahead and said from the corner of her mouth, “Not now Alexandra, we will have time to talk later!”

Horrorstruck, Alexandra walked, nearly stomped, away. Heading for the terrace, she allowed the warm summer air to brush her skin. In the pale moonlight, she reflected on the news that she had received. Her father was never home back in the days when he had still played Quidditch. They would go days without seeing him and this was no laughing matter when you had a mother who was insistent on running your life. So many times she had gone forgotten as her mother ran a magazine and her brother led the life of a teenager. It had been painful and she had been delighted when her father had retired from his career as a keeper.

Her life had taken a turn for the better since her father had come home. Curling her hand into a fist, Alexandra was mad at herself for believing that it could have lasted. Turning on her heels, she walked from the terrace and back into the party. She was walking down a narrow hall with many doors leading off of it. As she ventured around a corner to find the bathroom, a door to her left suddenly flew open and a hand grabbed her wrist. Before she had even realized what was happening, Alexandra was pulled haphazardly into an empty room. Slamming into a wall, her momentum finally slowed enough to regain her balance and stand upright.

James stood before Alexandra with a self-satisfied look upon his face topped by that irritatingly messy head of hair. Alexandra stood with her arms folded and, if looks could kill, James would have been long since dead. Sensing her anger, he grinned nervously and messed with his untidy hair. Annoyed and angry, she pulled out her wand and twirled it threateningly in her hands. She may have been a home-schooled heiress, but she had been trained by some of the best duelers the wizarding world had ever seen.

“Whoa, whoa, now Wood take it easy, it was just a joke.” stammered James taking a step back.

“Real witty. Now can I please leave?”

“No, I think we should talk. You know get to know each other better.”

“Can I pass?”

“Not unless you want to fight.”

“Fine. With wands or without?”

Slightly in awe of her audacity, James replied, “Without.”

James was slightly less willing to hit a girl, while Alexandra was all too happy to take her anger out on a guy who had tortured her for well over a decade. With her shoulders squared, the battle began. In ten minutes flat, she was straddling James who was sporting a swollen eye. While Alexandra thought that she had won the battle, James couldn’t help but feel that he had won the lottery. With the exception of the black eye he was now sporting, everything had pretty much gone as planned. Not being aware of the half a dozen reporters that began to snap pictures like mad through the slightly open bedroom curtains, James looked up into her angry eyes and smiled pompously. Alexandra’s golden necklace hung from her neck and dangled inches from his face. He reached up to get a better look at it but his hand was swatted away by the annoyed girl who still sat upon him.

“Wood, for someone who hates me so much, you do seem to like sitting on me.”

“Stuff it Potter, you would be lucky to get a girl half as good as me!”

“Ooo, that hurts Wood, come on we both know that you can’t resist me.”

“But I wouldn’t want to steal you from all your adoring fans!”

“Don’t worry about them, they’ll get over it.”

“The day I kiss you Potter is the day my mother stops being a total control freak.”

“I guess that means never then.”

Chuckling slightly, Alexandra responded, “Never in a million years.”

Standing up, Alexandra turned and walked from the room, not stopped by James or the reporters still staring hungrily through the window.
When she returned to the party, she was all too happy to find that her parents were ready to leave. Bidding goodbye to their hosts, the Wood family arrived back into the living room via a portkey. Mrs. Wood had prepared herself for her teenage daughter’s raging anger, but was slightly taken aback as Alexandra turned and left the room quickly. Her daughter wasn’t one to raise her voice often, but when it came to her father’s retirement she knew her daughter only to be very outspoken. Still concerned, she left for bed hoping that Alexandra would be ready to discuss it all the following morning.


Chapter 2: Chapter Two: Running from Fame
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A/N: Chapter two is here! The first chapter was mainly to introduce the story, and chapter two is also mostly a sneak peak into what is going to happen in the following chapters. The good stuff starts in chapter three so hang in there. The more comments I get, the faster chapter three will be posted. So please read and review.

Chapter Two:
Running from Fame


 






A maid entered an elaborately decorated bedroom, not at all surprised, to find that Alexandra was not there. No clothes lay scattered on the floor, the bed was made, and the bathroom lay spotless. Checking the closet to be sure that everything was in order, she noticed that a particular pair of old running shoes was missing.

Turning to leave the room, she couldn’t help but think that she had the easiest job in the house and decided to go help the cook make breakfast. On her way to the door, a crumpled newspaper lying on the floor caught her eye. It sat inches from the trash can, almost as though someone had thrown it and didn’t quite make it in. The curiosity got to her and she smoothed out the morning edition of the “Daily Prophet.” Her jaw dropped slightly as she observed the three pictures that covered the front page. The first was of a girl in a lavender dress falling and stumbling every few seconds revealing her knickers. The second, was of Alexandra punching James Potter with a quick jab to the right eye. And the last, and most surprising, was of Alexandra straddling a young man with both hands pinning him aggressively to the ground. Recrumpling the paper, the maid replaced the paper on the floor where she had found it. Somewhere on her journey from the bedroom to the kitchen, the maid named Sara began to worry about her young mistress. Alexandra only ever wore those old sneakers when she ran on the mountain path, and she only ever ran on the mountain path when she was upset and angry. Still worried, she made her way absentmindedly towards the chaos of the kitchen.

~




The silence pressed into her ears as she ran along a well-trodden path in the early morning light. With each and every pounding footstep that she took, Alexandra allowed the anger, frustration, fear, and unhappiness to flow from her pulsing veins and into her surroundings. Heart pounding, chest heaving, sweat dripping, Alexandra ran with feet pounding on the dried, rocky, and cracked earth. She had been running since dawn and her energy had long since left her. Now, it was guilt and anger that fueled her powerful footsteps. The morning’s images flashed before her mind as she picked up her pace and continued back down the mountain path. Alexandra ran all the time, she loved to run, and she was especially good at running away from the things that she couldn’t handle. Between her father’s news and James’s actions, the events of the prior evening were only made worse by to pictures in the newspaper. Alexandra hated to cry, but she couldn’t help but to allow a single tear slide down her cheek and mingle with the sweat that already lay there.

Almost home, Alexandra’s pace began to slow as she neared the terrace that lead back into her house. Coming to a halt on the deck, she was unhappy to find both her parents waiting for her, breakfast already laying on the table.

“Alexandra, I think we need to talk.” said Mr. Wood.

Alexandra continued to ignore her parents as she stretched out her muscles from her morning jog.

“Young lady, do not ignore your father, he is trying to have a conversation with you.”

Unable to ignore her mother, Alexandra responded, “I think a conversation would have been better suited before he signed the contract with Ireland.”

“Well dear, this isn’t entirely about my new job.” said Wood as he tentatively pushed a copy of the morning Prophet closer to his daughter.

“I don’t have anything to say about that.” said Alexandra eyeing the paper with an angered stare as she turned to leave.

“NOTHING TO SAY!” screamed Mrs. Wood standing quickly from the table and walking over to her daughter who stood frozen in the doorway. Mrs. Wood began to speak once more saying, “You better have more to say. Do you even know how bad this makes our family look? Can you even imagine what my employees or what your father’s players are thinking?”

Alexandra stood open-mouthed at the words that left her mother’s mouth. Mr. Wood sat at the table preparing himself for the impending explosion. And explode it did as Alexandra screamed, “Embarrass you, are you kidding me?! Since when did everything become about our reputation as a family? Oh, and for your information, James pulled me into that room and locked me inside. He wouldn’t let me leave unless I fought my way past him. Oh, and one last thing, the stupid git tried to feel me up during dinner. Yeah, that’s right, in front of everyone at dinner!”

Nothing but silence followed this pronouncement, and realizing that her parents would not let her escape she sat down and began to eat her breakfast. Sitting once more, Mrs. Wood sat and goggled at her daughter, she was slightly ashamed at the horrible things that she had said.

They sat in stony silence for twenty minutes. Finally, Alexandra looked up from her empty plate to look at her parents. Mr. Wood spoke first by saying, “Alexandra, I have already signed the contract with the Irish team. There is nothing I can do about it.”

Alexandra didn’t respond, but merely continued to look straight forward as though he had not spoken. Quite surprisingly, Mrs. Wood then spoke to her daughter, “Your father and I have decided that you should go and attend Hogwarts this year. We feel that it is time for you to be around people your own age and out of the eye of the press.”

Alexandra sat stunned and confused at what she had just heard. But still the fiery warmth of hope spread to the tips of her toes. Alexandra remembered all too well the day she first used her magical powers. Her brother had been picking on her, threatening to break her favorite toy flying broomstick. He had been waving it menacingly over her head when he suddenly began to float upwards. Alexandra had picked up the broom that had clattered to the floor and walked away as her brother remained dangling on a chandelier twenty feet above. When she had turned eleven, she had been excited to start school, only to find that her mother would not let her go. Rana had been home-schooled as a child, and after hearing some of her husband’s stories, she was determined that her children should also be home-schooled. And so the best tutors were hired, and many books had been bought, and year after year Alexandra remained at home to learn.

Mr. and Mrs. Wood sat in silence waiting for their youngest child to respond to this very drastic piece of news. They sat for ten minutes trying to read the expression that played across Alexandra’s face. Finally, Alexandra looked up and spoke, “I will go under two conditions.”

Slightly concerned, Mr. Wood responded, “And they are?”

“One, I want you to make an announcement to the press saying that I am attending Beauxbatons. Two, when I go to Hogwarts, I want to go by a different name.”

“Why Beauxbatons?” questioned Wood.

“Because it will take the reporters longer to find me; first, because they actually have to find the school and second, when they do find it, I won’t be there.”

Slightly impressed by their daughter’s idea, the group quieted once more, staring at each other waiting for one another to respond. Once again, Mrs. Wood broke the silence with a simple question, “Why do you want a different name?”

Looking up at her mother, Alexandra responded, “That way I would be like the other students, and I wouldn’t be treated different or be given special treatment because of my surname.”

Mrs. Wood nodded her head in agreement of her daughter’s completely logical answer. The group fell quiet once more and each had different thoughts playing across their minds. Mr. Wood was excited that one of his children was going to attend his alma mater. Mrs. Wood was happy that they were no longer screaming at each other. Alexandra was about to explode with the sheer excitement of being able to leave home without the normal herd of reporters following close behind. Clearing his throat, Mr. Wood looked at his wife, who nodded her head in agreement. Speaking, he said, “I don’t see there being a problem with any of those things. I will go right now and write to Professor McGonagall and make sure that she is okay with it.”

All three stood up from the table at the same time and walked back into the house.

Sara, the maid, was placing new clean towels in the bathroom when Alexandra had entered the bedroom. Making her way to the bedroom door, she was surprised to see that her mistress was grinning broadly.

“Are you okay miss?”

“Yeah, I am now.”

Closing the door behind her, the maid wondered what could make Alexandra so happy on a day that had promised to be so miserable.

~




The decisions were set and all the plans made. On September first, Alexandra Callista Wood would leave the sheltered life that she had grown all too accustomed to. Her father would apparate her onto platform nine and three quarters two hours before boarding, it would be early enough that no one would notice her and she would be far from the eyes of the press who would be combing all of France trying to find the girl they loved to photograph and bash. Meanwhile, Alexandra lay in bed thinking of what her life would be like in three weeks time, as a tiny wrinkle came to the forefront of her mind. James Potter attended Hogwarts, and he of all people, would notice the uncanny similarities of the new transfer student and the teen sensation that he had worshiped for years. Speaking out loud to the silence of her dark room, Alexandra said, “This is going to be very interesting.”

~




Alexandra stood in the living room packing up her brand new trunk. It was a deep maroon with gold edges and hinges. Sara had been sent to Diagon Alley to make all of her purchases. Mrs. Wood thought it would look strange if Alexandra, who should be attending Beauxbatons, was caught buying robes for Hogwarts. Sara had bought all the books for Alexandra’s new classes that would include: Potions, Charms, History of Magic, Defense against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Transfiguration, Astronomy, Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, and finally, Ancient Runes. The books, parchment, quills, and ink easily took up half the trunk. Beside them, she placed her new school robes, a few sets of dress robes, and finally jeans and t-shirts.

Throwing in a few personal possessions on top of her pajamas, she slowly began to fill the trunk with things to last her until Christmas. Not at all surprised to see that the inside of the trunk grew to fit her needs, she placed a bag of wizarding coins on top of all the other piles. Finally, she had come to the end of her packing as she placed her two most prized possessions onto the top of the trunk. First, were her favorite old tennis shoes that she loved to run in, and second was her Firebolt. Yes, you heard correctly, Alexandra’s broom of choice was a Firebolt. Though there were at least 30 new broomstick models that surpassed the Firebolt’s speed and flying ability, she had been flying it her entire life and believed it to be the only broom for her. Alexandra believed that it didn’t matter how fast the player could make the broom go, it was a matter of how good of a flyer the person was. She ran her fingers over the once shiny broom handle, looking at it as though it was an old friend. Her father had tried to buy her new broom after new broom, but his stubborn daughter would not be convinced. The truth was, she had tried many other kinds of brooms, but nothing ever seemed to work better than her old Firebolt.

Mr. Wood entered the living room as his daughter closed the lid on her trunk and turned to face him. “All ready?” he asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” said Alexandra with a broad grin. Just as she said it, her mother and brother entered the room and walked over.

“Good luck, little sis, if you don’t hang anyone from a chandelier you
may actually get along with the other people.” he said jokingly as he hugged her and ruffled her brown hair. Turning to face her mother, Alexandra was surprised to see that she was crying. Pulling her daughter into a tight embrace, she said, “I love you, please try and be careful.”

Giving each her mother and brother one last hug, she walked over to where her father stood. Holding onto her trunk with both hands, she felt the air around her disappear as the sensation of being sent through a very small tube came over her. About to panic from lack of oxygen, she felt her feet meet solid ground once more. Looking around, she took in all the features of platform nine and three quarters. Standing beside her father, she felt her heart leap with excitement of the day to come. Turning on the spot, she came face to face with the scarlet steam engine. Its shiny metal surface reflected her and her surroundings in a strange and unfamiliar way. Helping his daughter carry her trunk onto the train, they found a compartment near the back. Once the trunk was in the luggage rack, Mr. Wood turned to look at his daughter, who at this moment seemed so grown up. Giving her a tight embrace, he said, “Don’t be afraid to have fun and break some rules, after all no one knows who you really are, so be what YOU want to be. And I know it will be hard, but try and write your mother so she doesn’t worry too much.”

Laughing slightly, he kissed his daughter on the forehead and turned to leave the compartment. Oliver looked at his daughter one last time as she waved to him from the train window, he then apparated home feeling like a normal parent for the first time in years. He was sad to see her leave, but he was excited for all the adventures that awaited his daughter at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Do you see that sad and empty review box below? I do, and it's making me sad to. Thanx for reading! Please Review


Chapter 3: Chapter Three: Number One Fan
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A/N: Chapter three is here! Let the fun, games, and drama begin. In my opinion it is one of the best chapters yet. So without further ado here is chapter three. Please read and review.


Chapter Three:
Number One Fan




Alexandra watched as her father disappeared with a crack. Standing, she pulled the blinds down over the train window and, pulling out her wand, she magically locked the door. A mischievous grin crossed her face as she pulled her trunk off of the luggage rack and set it on the seat opposite her. She opened its lid a rifled through its contents before finding what she was looking for. Pulling out three old editions of “Witch Weekly,” she opened up to a book-marked page. Her father was right, she was going to a school and nobody knew who she was. For the first time in her life, she wasn’t going to be what her mom wanted her to be or what the press wanted her to be, she was going to be herself, the person that she had been dying to show off. She spent the last three weeks pouring over old copies of her mother’s magazines. Before her now sat the spells to bewitch your hair and your clothes so they were exactly what you wanted.

Waving her wand silently, Alexandra watched as her curly hair turned straight and light. Waving it again, she felt the odd sensation of her hair becoming shorter and shorter. It took easily an half an hour to get the correct color and shape, but eventually she was happy with what she saw. Her once curly brown hair now lay flat and blonde with shocking pink highlights running from root to tip. Putting down the mirror, she used a hair tie to pull her hair into a messy bun. Peering into the mirror once more, she observed the effect this had on her appearance. Her bangs fell into her eyes in a way that appeared both moody and artsy and in the back violent pink streaks shot in odd directions. It was perfect and Alexandra couldn’t help but smile, her mother would probably die if she saw her daughter like this. Mrs. Wood believed that if your hair should be blonde, red, or brown, anything else was just silly and childish.

Satisfied, Alexandra pulled out a pair of jeans from her trunk. She used a severing charm to artfully rip holes in the denim. Flipping through the ancient magazine, she found an old article about a bleaching spell. Ten minutes later, she had swapped her neat black skirt for a bleach-splattered and ripped pair of jeans. Picking a shirt was the easiest; digging down to the bottom of her trunk, she found an old Irish Quidditch team sweatshirt. Using a shrinking charm, Alexandra waved her wand and watched as the sweatshirt began to shrink. It may have properly covered a ten year old, but Alexandra wasn’t interested in being proper anymore. Slipping off her button up blouse, she put on a plain white tank top and the sweatshirt. The Irish-colored sweatshirt now fit her snuggly revealing much more of her figure and ended seven or so inches above her naval, revealing the white tank underneath.

Alexandra transfixed the mirror to the wall and began to do her makeup. It was a wonder what mascara and eyeliner could really do for a person. She applied enough to stand out, but not so much that she looked like the living dead. Kicking off a pair of conservative heels, Alexandra put on a pair of black flip-flops. With a simple wave of her wand, she used a nail polish charm she had known since her childhood. Looking down, she noticed the effect the black polish had against her hands and feet. Stashing away her belongings, Alexandra enlarged her hand mirror so she could completely observe her transformation. It took nearly an hour and a half but she had finished, looking into the mirror the girl of sixteen years did not see the uncomfortable, shy, clumsy, and beautiful Alexandra Callista Wood. No, what she saw was a tall, skinny, confident, bold, beautiful, extraordinary Alex Cunnings.

Stuffing her wand into her back pocket, Alex pulled out her copy of History of Magic. Closing her trunk, she replaced it onto the luggage rack; she unlocked the door, and opened the blinds. To her utter amazement, the once empty platform was buzzing with hundreds of students, parents, and animals. Sitting down on the seat, she heard the distant sounds of people lugging heavy trunks onto the train. She opened her book and tried to read, but her excitement got the best of her. She sat staring out the window with the book merely opened upon her lap. Fifteen or so minutes later, she looked down at her watch and realized they had but minutes before departure. Sure enough, the engine began to work harder and the steam outside the window grew thicker. In no time at all, the scarlet steam engine was pulling away from the platform.

A frown crossed Alex’s face; she had half hoped that someone would have come in to sit with her. She had just turned her attention back to her book, when the compartment door slid open.

“Halie, I told you this compartment was taken!” said a girl in bright blonde pigtails.

“Oops, sorry I thought it was empty.” said a red head to Alex.

Alex recognized the red head as Halie Weasley; she was the daughter of George Weasley. Alex had seen them at various parties in the past, but had never really gotten to know her. Slightly startled, Alex responded, “That’s fine, if you can’t find anywhere else to sit you are more than welcome to stay here.”

“That would be awesome because my arms are killing me,” said Halie.
The girls entered the cabin, stashed the trunks in the empty luggage rack and took seats opposite Alex.

“Hi, I am Naomi Longbottom.” said the blonde reaching out a hand.

“And I am Halie Weasley; I don’t think I have ever seen you around before. But that is probably because you aren’t in Gryffindor.”

“My name is Alex Cunnings, and I am a transfer student.” said Alex as she reached out and shook both of their hands.

“Ohh, so that’s why we don’t know you, do you know what house you will be in?” asked Naomi.

“This is so exciting. So where are you transferring from, and what year are you in?” asked Halie.

The two girls were obviously good friends, somehow they managed to talk a mile a minute without talking over each other. They seemed to hardly notice that Alex had answered none of their questions. When they each finally stopped talking long enough to breath, Alex took advantage of the time so she could explain herself, “Up until now I have been home-schooled by my parents, I am going to be sixteen and will be starting off in fifth year. I don’t know what house I am in because I haven’t been sorted yet.” But her statement only sparked more questions from the two very excited girls before her.

Normally, Alex hated being asked too many questions, but strangely enough she didn’t mind talking to Halie and Naomi. The time seemed to fly by as Alex told all about her life (with some minor changes) and her family. They seemed to have talked for what felt like hours when the door slid open to reveal the food trolley. Alex bought some pumpkin juice and cauldron cakes. Sitting down, the girls continued their casual conversation and munched on their snacks. Alex soon learned all about the other two girls; she learned about their families, boyfriends, and that they were both in Gryffindor.

Eventually, the talking subsided and they each picked up something to read. Peering over her History of Magic book, she looked at the two girls. Naomi was engrossed in a copy of the Quibbler that she was reading upside down. It finally clicked in Alex’s head as to where she had heard the name Longbottom before; Luna Longbottom was the editor of the Quibbler and was one of Witch Weekly’s biggest competitors. Looking over at Halie, Alex’s stomach dropped a few inches as she saw her own image staring back at her. Halie was reading the morning Prophet which bore the front page headline:







 

Bad Girl Alexandra Wood not Seen in Weeks









Clearing her throat, Alex said, “Any news on that Alexandra girl yet?”

“Please don’t get her started.” whined Naomi.

Glaring at her friend, Halie responded, “No, not yet, and trust me I will be the first to know. I am Alexandra’s biggest fan and I am even the president of her fan club.”

Alex raised her eyebrows at this announcement, fiddling nervously with her gold necklace, she reflected on how unfortunate her luck was. Of all the people that she could befriend, she had to pick one that probably had a bedroom plastered with her tabloid pictures. She was about to speak again when the door to the compartment slid open to reveal a small gaggle of boys. Alex’s stomach contracted slightly as James and two of his friends walked into the compartment.

Upon their arrival, both Halie and Naomi wrapped their arms around the other two guys and began to snog.

“Oi, you will have plenty of time to snog later, the least you could do is introduce us to your beautiful new friend.”

James Potter was used to getting any girl he wanted, and he was therefore concerned when the blonde and pink-haired girl before him rolled her eyes in annoyance.

“Oh sorry, James, this is Alex Cunnings, she is a fifth year transfer student.”

Alex went around the circle and shook the hands of all the visitors including James, who held on a bit too long.

“My name is Charlie Thomas and this is my friend Josh MacMillan, and of course, that there is James Potter, but he hardly needs an introduction,” said a short and stocky boy while he pointed to his blonde friend and then to James. The boys sat down and Naomi and Halie each began to snog their boyfriends. This left Alex and James to sit side by side staring in opposite directions, avoiding each other’s eyes. In a vein attempt to start a conversation, James said, “So what made you decide to transfer?”

The truthful answer would have been,I got caught punching you by the press and my parents decided that I needed to be more socialized. But what she really said was, “My parents just thought that it was the right time.”

The compartment fell silent with the exception of the slurping noise coming from the two pairs of tightly embraced teens. Alex slid over a few inches so that she was farther away from James and stared out the widow at the passing wilderness.

When darkness had fallen, Naomi and Halie kicked the boys out of the compartment so they could change before they reached Hogsmeade Station. Pulling on a black skirt, white shirt, grey sweater vest, and black cloak, Alex realized that for once in her life she looked like everyone else. In no time at all, the train began to slow. Closing her trunk, Alex checked her reflection one more time and made her way off the train accompanied by her two new friends.

Pulling out a letter from Professor McGonagall and skimming it carefully, Alex read the instructions on what she had to do after arriving on the train. Halie and Naomi were already half-way to a horseless carriage when they realized that they were no longer accompanied by their new friend. Turning around, they came to stand where Alex had stopped dead, looking horrified.

“Alex, what’s up?” asked Naomi.

“I-I have to cross the lake with the first years!” stammered Alex.

“That means you have to be sorted with them too.” added Halie.

“That… sucks! I will be the oldest one there by five years!” said Alex.

“Well, at least you will be able to get it out of the way.” reassured Halie.

Stuffing the letter back into her pocket, Alex said goodbye to the two girls and made her way swiftly over to where a low grunting voice said, “Firs’ years, Firs’ years this way!”

Alex walked towards the end of the platform where a very large man stood. He waved the first years forward with a lantern dangling from his trashcan lid-sized hands. Alex walked past him to where a large stream met the platform. Moored to the wooden decks, were a small fleet of boats. Alex picked one near the back that was unoccupied. Sitting down as the boat rocked dangerously, Alex heard the large bearded man say, “Oi, you two! Yer not firs’ years get back to the carriages.”

Alex turned in her seat to see Halie and Naomi running towards her boat. Sitting down, Halie said, “We decided that you shouldn’t be by yourself.”

Cramming herself into the small available space, Naomi continued, “Yeah, no one should have to face the sorting without a friend.”

All three girls turned in their very small seats to face Hagrid. He had been about to yell again, but he had heard what they were saying. His beetle black eyes twinkled at the three girls crammed into one boat, with eyes crinkling in laughter he said, “Fine, you’s can stay, but don’ go makin’ no trouble, Miss Weasley!”

In no time at all they set off down the stream, both Alex and Naomi were paddling while Halie sat near the back of the boat. The two were talking nearly non-stop describing the school, their classes, and their favorite ways to break the rules. But Alex was distracted; she sat upright in her seat waiting in anticipation for her first sight of Hogwarts. Then she heard Hagrid call out, “Righ’ aroun’ this bend you will see yer firs’ glimpse of the castle.”

Sure enough, they went around a slight bend and before her sat Hogwarts Castle, its shimmering widows illuminating the night skies. The breath caught in Alex’s chest as she stared openmouthed at the sight before her. Surprisingly, Naomi and Halie stopped talking long enough to take in the beautiful sight. Somewhere off in the distance, Alex heard Naomi whisper, “I almost forgot how beautiful it was.”

The fleet docked in a cavern that was set beneath part of the castle. One at a time the girls stood from the boat trying not to flip it. Once they stretched out their stiff arms and legs, Halie and Naomi bid Alex goodbye and promised that if she was sorted into Gryffindor a seat would be saved for her. Sadness settled upon her as she stood and watched the two girls leave, realizing for the first time what it felt like to have friends. Shaking this thought from her mind, she went to stand with the rest of her sorties. They stood small and trembling, barely talking as they contemplated the horrors to come. With dismay, Alex noticed that she easily stood two heads above even the taller first years. Alex’s contemplation was cut short as she heard a small cough come from the front of the group.

“Please settle, settle down now please. I am Professor Mansfield. I am the potions master, and I will lead you up to the Great Hall. First, we will walk in single file and you will line up along the front of the staff tables. When I call your name, you will place the hat on your head. When you have been sorted, you will join the appropriate table. Now please follow me this way.” said a tall willowy woman with a black braid that fell down her back. Alex walked from the damp underground cavern and up a staircase.

A/N: So I hope it lived up to expectations. I can promise many insane drama filled moments to come. Your feedback is greatly wanted so thanx for reading and PLEASE REVIEW!

 


Chapter 4: Chapter Four: Pudding
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AN: Chapter four is here for your enjoyment. What house will Alex be sorted into and how will the other students react to her sudden appearance? Just a few of the many questions answered in this section. Thanks for reading; please review.

Chapter Four:
Pudding


 






Professor Mansfield pushed open a set of handsome dark wooden doors and revealed a hall beyond with breathtaking beauty. Alex’s mouth fell open slightly as she walked through the doors. It was the most amazing place she had ever entered, and that was saying a lot because she had seen many beautiful and rare places. She walked towards the staff table, making her way between two long tables lined with students. She felt the eyes of everyone in the hall fall onto her. Alex wished for nothing more than to melt into the floor, but no such luck. She felt their eyes on her back as she passed, and breathing deeply she turned to face the hall.

Watching with curiosity, Alex saw a three-legged stool being placed beside Professor Mansfield. Atop the stool sat a very decrepit wizarding hat. It sat there, old and frayed; owl droppings could have been more interesting. Following the eyes of her fellow classmates, she continued to stare at the hat. Then, rather suddenly, a tear at the brim opened wide. Stunned, Alex listened as it began to sing.

You may not think I’m pretty,
but don’t judge on what you see.
I’ll eat myself if you can find a smarter hat than me;
there is nothing hidden in your head the Sorting Hat cannot see.
So try me on, and I will tell you where you ought to be.
Off to Gryffindor for those of you
who stand bold, brave, and true.
For those who are cunning, ambitious, and strong,
Slytherin is where you belong.
For those with minds greater than the rest,
for you, Ravenclaw will be the best.
For those of you who are kind and true,
Hufflepuff is the house where kindness is not new.
Now step forward and don’t be shy;
I promise I will not make you cry
So come here and take the time to sit with me
And together we will shape your destiny.




The hall broke out in storms of tumultuous cheering and clapping. Alex couldn’t keep herself from smiling as she reflected on the words of the hat. The mood of the first years lightened considerably at that point. Her stomach jolting slightly she heard Professor Mansfield begin to call names, “Allans, Parker.” A nervous looking boy stumbled up to the stool. As he sat down, the hat was dropped upon his head. Several seconds had passed when the hat shouted, “Ravenclaw!” A table to the far right clapped and stomped as Parker went to join his housemates. Arnold, Kyrie became the first Slytherin as the table to the far left exploded with excitement. Baker, Thomas quickly became a Ravenclaw and was soon followed by Bloom, Ashlee, who had been sorted to Hufflepuff.

“Creevey, Christopher!” A small mousy-haired boy, who appeared to be trembling from head to foot, ran forward and placed the hat on his head. After it sank down several inches, the brim opened once more and shouted, “Gryffindor.” The mousy-haired boy leapt from the stool and went to join the table nearest to their right.

Alex’s stomach contracted slightly as she heard her name being called, “Cunnings, Alex.” If it were possible, the hall around her became even quieter, the older students trying to make sense of her unexpected presence. Sitting upon the stool, she crossed her legs just as her Mother had taught her to do. She felt the old and rotting material slide over her face, which was burning red. The hall disappeared behind the veil of old and moth-eaten fabric. Jumping slightly, she heard a faint voice whisper into her ear.

“My, my, we do like to keep secrets don’t we, Miss Wood!”

Gulping slightly at the cool voice, she wondered how on earth the hat could have figured it out so quickly. She also hoped that it wasn’t as obvious to everyone else that her name really wasn’t Alex Cunnings.

“There is nothing that I cannot see while peering inside your head. Now, let’s see, hmm, where to put you! Quite the woman of mystery I see, Ambitious, and bold, but still very kind and generous. Yes, yes, you do not enjoy being the center of attention, but have quite the knack for Quidditch, hmm, interesting combination. There it is, yes, compassion and a drive to help those who are in need of it. After so many struggles, you are strong-minded and brave. Well, it seems that you will succeed in all four houses, Ms. Wood.”

Alex’s stomach flip-flopped at the use of her surname. Her eyes clenched tight the memory of her train ride crossed over her mind. Naomi and Halie were both in Gryffindor. If it could be any of the houses, Please let it be Gryffindor! Her wish was granted instantly. Somewhere above her, she heard the hat cry, “Gryffindor!” Alex stood, and before she removed the hat, she heard it whisper into her ear, “Good luck, Ms. Wood.” It sounded almost as though it was mocking her, but hats didn’t mock, did they?

Alex headed off in the direction of the Gryffindor table. As she neared, she saw that Naomi and Halie were halfway down the table waving their arms like maniacs with broad grins upon their faces. As she made her way to where they sat, she looked up at the ceiling to take in the cloudless, starry night. The stars twinkled merrily back at her, almost as though they were mimicking her happiness. As she took her seat between Naomi and Halie, she heard Professor Mansfield call “Finnegan, Marques.” She clapped as the boy was sorted into Gryffindor and turned from the front of the hall to look at the people sitting around her. Her stomach dropped several inches as she turned to face the person sitting directly across from her. She had not noticed when she sat down, but the person staring back was none other than James Potter.

“Hey Alex, nice to see you again,” he said with a flirtatious smile that did not at all cover the mischievous look in his eyes. Alex rolled her eyes and turned back to the front where Scarlett Malfoy was being sorted. The hat cried out, “Slytherin!” Alex smiled, she had met Scarlett many times before; her parents were almost as well known as her own. But her thoughts were interrupted when she felt someone staring at her. Alex turned in her seat to face James, who was sitting dumbstruck with his mouth slightly open, “Bloody hell, you look familiar!”

“Excuse me?”

“Oh-h sorry, it’s just, I swear that I ‘ve seen you before. Have I seen you before?”

“Yeah, we met on the train, remember?” she retorted smartly.

“Really witty, Cunnings, and you know that’s not what I meant.”

Alex smirked and turned away. She felt James’s eyes continue to stare as she watched Samantha Walters being sorted into Ravenclaw. This continued on until Tyler Zabini was sorted into Slytherin. Then the hat was taken from the hall and McGonagall stood to face the students.

“Welcome all to another year at Hogwarts. I have just a few announcements before the feast begins. All first years should know that the forest, greenhouses, and North tower are off limits, except for classes. All students should read the newly revised caretaker’s rules, and I would like to introduce Fynn Winston, our new caretaker. And finally, all those wishing to try out for their house Quidditch teams should sign up with their Head of house before the end of the week. Now, let the feast begin.”

With a wave of Professor McGonagall’s arms, the tables groaned beneath platters of every shape, size, and taste. Alex spent as much time eating as she did talking, which was a lot. As usual, things were going great until the dinner dishes were cleared to be replaced by dessert. Alex was in the process of choosing a treacle tart when a hand came out of nowhere and grabbed hers. Alex pulled her hand from James’s grip as he said, “Sorry, I guess I wasn’t looking where I was reaching.”

“Sure you weren’t,” responded Alex with a skeptical glance.

Alex was once again concentrating on her dessert, when she felt something brush against her leg. She looked up to see James staring at her. He smiled and rubbed his foot up her leg again. Alex smiled, did he really think that girls liked that sort of thing? Her smile seemed to have heartened him because he looked like he was about to try something more bold, but Alex pulled out her wand beneath the table and sent a forceful blast into James’s direction. He was sent flying off the bench, landing hard on the floor as the hall went deadly quiet. “Wingardium Leviosa!” The bowl of chocolate pudding sitting before Alex began to levitate. With an evil smirk upon her face, she tipped the bowl, and with a splat, James was covered in pudding. The hall burst out into laughter and James blushed visibly, even beneath the face full of chocolate pudding. The storms of laughter continued, as a wad of pudding flew towards Alex, who side-stepped out of its path. Well trained after years of growing up with her brother, Ace, Alex watched the pudding fly into the face of Rose Weasley. Her ears turned bright red and immediately sought revenge on her cousin. In a matter of seconds, not a single student remained food free as the unlucky first years cowered beneath the tables.

~




Alex woke up to the sound of her alarm clock, but she couldn’t seem to find it in order to turn it off.

“Argg-ggg, I’m up, I’m up already!” she exclaimed as she sat bolt upright in bed. She turned to look at Naomi as she lifted her hand to scratch behind her ear. Her fingers met the stale crumbling feeling of dried icing. She had let out a huge yawn, last night was not at all how she pictured it would be. After Professor McGonagall had regained order, all students were sent up to the dorms; with the exception of James, Rose, and herself, who remained behind to clean up the Great Hall without the aid of magic. It had been three in the morning by the time they had finished and Alex was sick of looking at James. She was so tired when she had returned to the dorm (which she only found with James’s help) she just fell into bed completely dressed.

Getting out of bed, she stretched and put on her bathrobe. If she played her cards right, she could fit a shower in before heading down to breakfast. She came out of the shower feeling much better than she had before and went to get dressed. She met Naomi and Halie in the common room and went to leave for breakfast. She turned to leave the room and came eye to eye with James. He winked and she rolled her eyes, and walked through the portrait hole in quick pursuit of her friends. She didn’t want to get too far behind because she might not ever make it down to breakfast.

Alex had just taken a large bite of oatmeal when Naomi asked, “What do you have against James Potter?”

“Why do you think I have anything against him?”

“Come on, Alex, you covered the guy in pudding in front of everyone.”

“I don’t know; he just seems kind of stuck up.”

She had struggled to find a suitable answer because obviously she couldn’t remark on how the battle had actually begun years earlier. Yes, Alex could remember it quite clearly. She was thirteen and was walking down the red carpet with her mother and had stopped to pose for a “Teen Witch Magazine” photographer. James snuck up behind her and grabbed her waist. As she jumped and turned around, he grabbed her and kissed her on the lips. The crowd exploded and various flashbulbs went off, blinding her. When Alex went to pull away, she found she couldn’t because James thought it would be clever to cast a permanent sticking charm on the two of them. If it hadn’t been for James’s Aunt Hermione and his general lack of ability to do decent magic, they may have been stuck together for ages. They were soon separated, but not before the press had gotten enough pictures to last an entire season. Come to think of it, that was the beginning of all the trouble she had ever had with the press.

“Earth to Alex, are you in there?” Halie was waving her arm in front of Alex’s face as Alex snapped from the all too familiar nightmare.

“Are you okay?” asked Naomi.

“Yeah I’m fine, what were we talking about?” said Alex.

“Why you hate Potter. I know he seems like a total pig, but give him a chance. Trust me, he can be totally awful, but he’s a really good friend,” responded Halie.

“Give him a chance?” asked Alex horrorstuck.

“Yeah, why not?” said Naomi.

“You have no idea,” said Alex shaking her head.

“Well, think about it and fast because you have most of the same classes and that boy is relentless when he’s trying to get something he can’t have.” finished Halie as the girls got their schedules from Professor Mansfield and stood to go get their books before class.

The first class of the day was Charms with Professor Bones. Alex tried to pay attention to where Naomi and Halie were leading her, but quickly got lost trying to remember the lefts, rights, and staircases. When they reached the classroom, they heard the buzz of students’ conversations from within. The desks were set up in an u-shape around the teacher’s desk. Almost instinctively, the girls took their seats, first Naomi, then Halie, then Alex. As the rest of the class filed in, Alex stooped under her desk to pull out a parchment and quill. As she did this, she felt someone sit in the chair next to her. As she straightened up in her chair, she knew who would be sitting there.

James smiled broadly saying, “Isn’t this a lovely morning, Cunnings?”
Alex’s eyebrows rose slightly and she said in a undertone, “It was. Oh and by the way, you have pudding in your ear.”

James instinctively reached up to clean out his ear only to find that there wasn’t anything there.

“Made you look.” whispered Alex with a menacing stare as she redirected her attention to Professor Bones, who had began to take attendance.

The class itself was relatively uneventful; they were reviewing things from the previous years. Once, James tried to pass her a note, Alex setting fire to it with her wand. At one point, James walked across the room to gather a cushion he had banished. As he was talking with some of the other boys, he turned and pointed at her and they all began to laugh hysterically. She sought revenge by directing a globe at his head with a banishing charm. He had barely dodged it and Alex was rewarded with the snickering and applause of the class. Professor Bones had clearly seen what had happened but merely passed Alex saying, “Good example of a banishing charm, Miss Cunnings.”

The rest of the class went by rather uneventfully. The bell ending the class rang as they were copying the work they needed to finish for the next class. Alex was chatting with Naomi as they were leaving the classroom and James made one last final attempt to get Alex’s attention. He swooped down upon her and whispered in her ear, “I know you can’t resist me Cunnings.”

He then made to walk past her but Alex responded, “You’re right James, there is just no point lying about it.”

James stopped dead in his tracks, gaping at her dumbstruck. Several of his friends had not noticed that he had stopped and ran headlong into him. James was just breaking from his reverie as Alex walked past laughing with the other girls of the class. The girls headed to History of Magic taught by Professor Binns. Alex had been forewarned about the history teacher and was not at all surprised when the rest of the class could not pay attention.

“Naomi… wake up,” whispered Alex as she poked Naomi in the ribs.

She and she alone seemed able to resist the overwhelming urge to sleep. Truth be told, history was one of her best subjects, but she wasn’t going to let anyone else know that.

The class gave a collective jump as the end of period bell rang out. As Alex began to pack her parchment and quill away, Halie said, “Jeez… Alex, overachieve much?”

Alex lifted her bag to her shoulder and said, “Better learn it now than have to do it later.”

“Whatever floats your boat, Alex… now can we please go get some food; I am starving!” replied Naomi as the girls left for lunch.

ME + MORE REVIEWS = A BETTER STORY (please don’t make me beg) REVIEW!


Chapter 5: Chapter Five: Spills and Thrills
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A/N: Chapter five is here! Now I get to introduce some new characters (my favorite part). The plot thickens when James finds out he may have some competition. Thanks for reading and as always reviews are greatly appreciated.

Chapter Five:
Spills and Thrills


 






“Now let me assure you that this year is not meant to be taken lightly; the O.W.L.’s play a vital and pivotal role in your future job choices. You will be learning your most difficult magic to date and will be asked to prove your level of learning in both written exam and practical demonstration. So I ask you to help yourselves out, please do not leave studying until the last minute.”

Done trying to scare his students into studying, Professor Marks began to hand out raccoons in small wooden crates. Alex observed his clean and tidy look, his coke bottle glasses, and his neatly combed hair and arrived at the conclusion that he was going to be a difficult grader. Indeed, after an entire double period of changing the raccoons into hats, half the class was given extra work because their hats still had whiskers or squeaked when worn.

“I can’t believe that you got out of extra work,” said Naomi to Alex.

“When you introduced yourself, you forgot to mention you were a genius,” added Halie.

“I am not, and you never asked,” defended Alex.

“Somehow I don’t believe you,” said Naomi smirking.

“Remind me again how to get to Ancient Runes?”

“You’re the genius, you can figure it out,” said Halie as she and Naomi turned left and headed towards the north tower for Divination.

Alex set off towards what she thought was the general direction for Ancient Runes. Not too surprisingly, she was lost in less than five minutes. Then the bell rang, and she still had no idea where she was heading. She tried to remember the instructions, first a left, then a right, two flights up the staircase behind the burned tapestry, two more lefts and it was the class at the very end of the hall. Alex followed these directions and came out right next to her Charms classroom, which was in the opposite of the direction she wanted to be. She turned down a corridor that she had never taken merely hoping to find someone who could give her directions. A few minutes later, the air was rent with a ripping noise as Alex’s bag tore along the bottom. Its contents went skidding onto the floor. Several ink bottles shattered, her schedule flew several feet away, and her Transfiguration notes sprung open.

She stooped to repair her bag and pick up the mess. A lock of pink hair fell into her face, and as she went to sweep it back, she noticed a pair of feet standing in front of her. She stood quickly to face who it was, but slipped on a spot of ink and fell backwards, her head banging off the stone floor.

“Are you okay?” said a distant voice.

Alex had her eyes closed as the pain reverberated around her head, “Yeah, I think I’m okay.”

“That was pretty graceful,” said the stranger and Alex felt two hands grab her arms and pull her upright.

Finally opening her eyes, Alex’s jaw dropped ever so slightly. She had no idea who this boy was but the only word to describe him was gorgeous. He had piercing gray eyes and black hair that hung moodily in his face. Alex mechanically pushed her hair behind her ear saying, “H-hi, my name is Alex.”

He let go of her and responded, “Hey Alex, my name is Lyle. It’s nice to meet you.”

Alex looked around at the mess that she had created and he interjected, “Do you need some help.”

“That would be great, thanks.” Together they repacked and repaired all of her belongings.

“Oh wait, is this yours?” Lyle crossed the hall and picked up the stray schedule. He looked down on it to see what classes she was taking.

“Wow, that’s a bloody full schedule. Are you a genius or something?” Alex frowned in response, but this only made her look more attractive.

“No, my mother thinks that making my schedule hard will keep me out of trouble.”

“So you’re a trouble maker?” he said with a smirk that didn’t at all cover his interest.

“I have been known to raise a few eyebrows.” A silence fell between the pair and Lyle looked down at her school bag where he noticed the Ireland Quidditch pin.

“You’re a quidditch fan?”

“Fan and player, I was thinking about trying out for Gryffindor’s team.”

“Well you’re in luck.”

“Oh yeah, why’s that?”

“Because I am the Gryffindor Quidditch captain.”

“Then it is my lucky day. Look, I really need to get to class, but thanks for your help.”

“No problem and I look forward to seeing you at tryouts.”

Alex turned on the spot to walk away but once again realized that she had no idea which direction she was going in and she had four to choose from.

“On second thought, would you be able to tell me where the Ancient Runes classroom is?” asked Alex.

“So you are a genius then,” he said with a smirk, “Make two rights, go down the staircase at the end and it will be the first class you come to one floor down.”

“Thanks, see you later,” and Alex walked quickly down the hall as Lyle watched her go.

Alex managed to make it all the way down the stairs without getting lost. She heard the teacher inside explaining something as she went to turn the door handle…

“You’re Alex right?” the voice came out of nowhere and Alex jumped slightly and spun on the spot. The boy looked like he could be no older than a third year student and he handed her a piece of parchment.

“Professor McGonagall wishes to see you in her office.” He turned on the spot and walked away quickly.

“Wait, I don’t …know where her office is.” She trailed away for the messenger had already disappeared. Alex turned on the spot and went back the way she came she might be able to find the entrance hall if she started from the Charms classroom.

~




Alex had given up the fruitless search and merely stood in the middle of an unidentifiable corridor waiting for someone to pass. She had been standing there for ten minutes and was about to give up, as a sound of whistling echoed off the floor and ceiling. She turned in the direction of the noise, glad that she was finally about to get directions. But as she identified the approaching person her stomach sank, no longer grateful for their presence.

“Cunnings! What are you doing out here?” James called out.

“Trying to find Professor McGonagall’s office; why are you here?”

“Same, but I actually know where it is” he said with a smirk.

“Good, then you can help me.”

“What makes you think that I will do that, I am pretty sure I still have pudding in my hair.”

“You’ll do it because I am asking you to.”

“You’re right, I can’t say no to a pretty lady,” added James with a wink.

“You have got to stop that Potter.”

James frowned slightly and walked away. Alex made to follow but he stopped quickly before a cracked and ancient gargoyle. It blinked a few times and James said, “Time-turner.”

“You mean it was here the entire time.” said Alex in indignation. The gargoyle moved revealing a spiraling staircase moving upward. Alex went up first and knocked on the highly polished door. Inside she heard a muffled, “Come in.” She and James entered the immaculate circular study.

“Well, I can’t speak to you both at once, so Potter, please wait downstairs in the hall.” said Professor McGonagall.

James turned and left the room shutting the door as he went, leaving Alex alone and slightly nervous. For the first time ever, Alex was slightly sad to see James leave because now she was completely alone. Alex took a seat before the large desk and folded her hands into her lap nervously about what was going to happen next.

“Miss Wood, am I going to regret allowing you to attend Hogwarts?”

“No, Professor.”

“Well I was just checking because after your little incident last night I am starting to have my concerns.” Alex did not respond she merely waited to hear what else McGonagall had to say.

“This is your last warning Miss Wood. If you act up again, I will contact your mother.”

Alex grimaced at the threat and responded, “Don’t worry Professor. It was the first and last, it won’t happen again.”

“Good, now you may return to class and please send Potter up.”

Alex turned from the desk and headed out the door. At the bottom of the stairs, she passed James, who looked just as worried as she did. Then the bell rang somewhere off in the distance, but there was no point in trying to find the dungeons for Potions, she would just have to wait for Potter. The students began to mill about heading off to their next classes. Several people pointed and said audibly, “That’s the pudding girl.”

Alex only had to wait several minutes before James reappeared at the bottom of the spiraling staircase.

“Cunnings, I am touched you waited for me.” Alex’s eyebrows rose slightly, did he really think that?

“Oh, I see, you’re just using me to find your way down to potions.”

“So you’re not as stupid as you seem.” said Alex sarcastically.

The unlikely pair headed off together, James leading the way and Alex following close behind. They managed not to fight until they reached the stairs leading down into the entrance hall. Alex forgot to jump the vanishing stair and her leg was sunken in up to the knee.

“Potter, come back here and help me!”

“Umm, what’s the magic word?”

“NOW!”

“No, you’re going to have to be nicer than that if you want my help.”

“Fine; James will you please help me out?”

“See that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

“Can you get me out now?”

“Nope, I don’t think so.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“I don’t know am I? You’re the one stuck in the staircase.”

“Fine; what do I have to do?”

“You have to swear to be nice to me.”

“NO WAY!”

“Fine, enjoy waiting for someone else to come along.” And James began to walk away.

“Fine, I swear to be nice to you,” said Alex between her clenched teeth.

James walked to where she was stuck and helped her step out of the stair. She walked down the rest of the stairs and headed towards the dungeon steps when James called out, “See Cunnings, first step civility, then friendship, and friendship can lead us all kinds of places.”

Alex brandished her wand and spun on the spot, she was just about to say an incantation when an unfamiliar voice said, “Expelliarmus!” Alex felt her wand fly from her hand and she turned to face the person who had disarmed her. The stranger stood there with a foreboding glare. She had sleek black hair that went past her shoulders and her school uniform was immaculate. She glared at Alex with jet black eyes that would have been pretty if not currently filled with cold distain. “Five points from Gryffindor, Miss Cunnings; there is no magic in the corridors.”

She then held out the taken wand. Alex walked to where the girl stood and took back her wand with a vicious grin, “Funny how prefects break their own rules.”

James sniggered at Alex’s remark.

“Excuse me?!” said the prefect.

“I asked what your name is,” clarified Alex.

“Cali Sapphire, a prefect for Slytherin.” she said in an emotionless tone, but then her expression changed abruptly as she turned to talk to James, “How was your summer, James?”

“Fine, yours?” asked James slightly confused.

“Good. You two should get to class, you don’t want to lose any more points for Gryffindor.” Cali gave Alex one more glare and James a flirtatious smile and headed up the marble staircase.

“No wonder you have such a big head, every girl at this school falls all over themselves for you,” added Alex.

James was frowning, “All except for one… come on we need to get to class.” And he led her wordlessly down to the dungeons.

~




Alex trailed behind after Potions, but made sure to ask Halie and Naomi to wait for her so she could find her way back to the Great Hall. As she approached Professor Mansfield’s desk near the front of the class, she got an unexpected nervous jump in the pit of her stomach.

“Is there something you need, Miss Cunnings?”

“I was told to give my name to the Head of House if I wished to tryout for Quidditch?”

“That is correct what position will you be trying for.”

“Keeper.”

“Very well, Miss Cunnings; I will but your name on the list.”

“Thanks,” finished Alex and she hurried from the dungeon to meet up with Naomi and Halie.

Dinner was surprisingly uneventful. The girls sat at the table eating their lamb chops. Naomi and Halie had gotten a laugh out of Alex’s encounter with Sapphire. They found her promise to be nice to James even more entertaining and began to take bets on how long it would last.

“Do you guys know a seventh year named Lyle?” asked Alex.

Halie spit out a mouthful of pumpkin juice, “You mean Lyle Belmont?”

“I don’t know. How many Lyles are there?”

“Just one and he’s so HOT!” added Naomi.

“Not to mention the captain of the Quidditch team,” said Halie.

“How do you know him?” asked Naomi.

“Bumped into him in the hall today, he seemed nice,” blushed Alex.

“Nice? Nice? Lyle is only nice to some of the hottest girls in seventh year?” said Halie.

“Oh my gosh, Lyle likes you Alex!” squealed Naomi.

“You really think.” said Alex.

“Look, here he comes.” whispered Halie just as Lyle walked into the Great Hall for dinner. He spotted Alex and gave a small wave. The three girls immediately broke down into fits of giggles. Halfway up the table, quite unnoticed by the three, James sat head in hands looking quite depressed.

A/N: And so the plot thickens… I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! So tell me what you think about our two new characters. Please review!


Chapter 6: Chapter Six: Who Said Girls Can’t Play Quidditch
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A/N: Chapter six is here! It’s a wee bit shorter than I would like it to be, but I made the executive decision to end it now and begin chapter seven with… well you’re just going to have to wait to find out. I hope that you enjoy it and as always please read and review.

Chapter Six:
Who Said Girls Can’t Play Quidditch


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Alex stared down at her bowl of uneaten oatmeal, as she pushed it around with her spoon. She could hardly believe how quickly the first two weeks of classes had gone by. Though she had managed to avoid extra work from her current class work, she was continuously buried in pre-OWL work and it was only the first month of school. At least she had finally managed to memorize where all her classes were and had gone ten straight days without a fight with James. Her eyes closed slowly and she began to drift off, her head slipping from its resting place on her hand. With a jerk, she sat up straight. Giving her untouched breakfast one last glare, she stood to leave the hall.

Alex looked down at her watch it was seven thirty and Quidditch tryouts started at eight. A nervous and unfamiliar feeling leaped in the pit of her stomach as she entered her dorm. She pulled her Firebolt from the bottom of her trunk and changed into a set of practice Quidditch robes. Putting her worn broomstick over her shoulder, she left the dorm, where Halie and Naomi were still asleep. The early Saturday morning sunlight met her eyes as she walked through the great oak doors. As she headed down the stairs to the sloping lawns that led to the Quidditch pitch, angered voices met her ears.

“Remind me again why I can’t try out for Quidditch, James.” said a very angry Lily.

She was walking quickly in the direction of the pitch, James following close behind.

“Because Lil’ you’re my little sister, you can’t play Quidditch,” said James as Alex ducked behind a tree so the pair didn’t see her.

“So which one is it, I can’t play Quidditch because I am a girl or because I am only in second year?”

“Because you’re a girl, no I mean neither, wait…no…both…AHHHH! Lily, you just can’t!”

Lily had stopped dead and was staring openmouthed at her older brother.

Spluttering slightly, Lily said, “You’re saying I can’t play Quidditch because I am a GIRL!”

At this point, Alex decided to stop hiding and she walked over to where Lily and James were glaring at each other. James looked up at the approaching footsteps and heaved a sigh of relief.

“Finally, Alex you can help me! Please tell Lily here that she can’t try out for Quidditch.”

“You’re trying out, which spot?” asked Alex.
Spotting Alex’s broom Lily, responded, “Chaser, what are you going for?”

“Keeper,” she looked down at her watch, “we should go or we’ll be late.”

And the pair walked away, leaving a stunned James speechless and frozen to his spot.

“He just doesn’t want me on the team because he’s on the team,” added Lily a little while later.

“James is on the team; what position?”

“He’s a beater.” said Lily and Alex snorted, “I know typical right, he gets to fly around with a bat and act like a brute. Don’t get me wrong, my brother is a great guy but AHHHH! Sometimes I just wish I could kill him!” finished Lily.

“I know exactly what you mean.” added Alex as the two of them entered the pitch.

The field was crowded and rowdy, apparently four of the players had graduated from the team last year and they were in need of a keeper, two chasers, and beater. It seemed as though all of Gryffindor house had shown up to try out. The people on the field ranged from mellow seventh years just looking for a new way to hang with their friends to first years looking for a way to earn some notoriety.

Lily leaned closer and said, “Apparently, the Gryffindor team has been all guys for the last seven years.”

“Are you kidding me?” replied Alex indignantly.

“No, for some reason Quidditch has turned into a boy’s sport.”

“Well, that’s about to change, I guess I’ll see you around. Good luck!”

The pair split apart, Lily towards the center of the field where the chasers were gathering, and Alex went to stand by the goal posts with the other keepers. At that point, James entered the pitch, since he was already on the team he didn’t have to re-tryout and he went to sit by Lyle and another seventh year in the stands. Alex played with the old necklace that her father had given to her and was biting her lip as she looked at Lyle. It wasn’t often that a guy made her react this way. But she was still a bit unsure because, as it turned out, Lyle was quite the ladies man. And Alex was all too familiar with the type to want to risk getting involved with him, but still… he was so HOT!

“Okay, Okay, we are starting now, I need keepers by the goal posts, chasers in the middle, and beaters to the sidelines.” Lyle’s voice rang out over the immense crowd, magically magnified.

There was a sudden rush of movement as people began to shuffle themselves around. There was a substantial crowd gathered around the goal posts, most of which were boys and even more were first years. They trembled slightly with excitement as they clutched the old school brooms.

“Chasers are up first; please fly five laps around the pitch.” Lyle leaned towards James and whispered, “We have our work cut out for us. This lot looks barely older than second year.”

And he was right. Of the dozen and a half people trying out for chaser, only about eight of them managed to get their brooms off the ground. Alex smiled as Lily was the first off the ground and led the pack for the entire five laps.

Next were the beaters; there were only ten or so people trying out for the spot, all of which were boys. As they took off around the pitch, Alex noticed that Charlie Thomas was amongst those trying out. They all managed to get off the ground this time, but a third year lost altitude on his second lap and nearly ran head long into Lyle and James in the stands. After they all landed (some not so gracefully) it was the keepers’ turn for their laps around the pitch. Surprisingly, there were nearly two dozen people trying out for the spot. But Alex need not worry because only half of them actually managed to make it off the ground for more than a few seconds.

Alex rose into the air with grace and poise that could only have been taught by her father. As the wind whipped through her hair, a feeling of lightness overcame her, she hadn’t felt this comfortable anywhere in weeks. Being back on her broomstick seemed the most natural thing in the world; she definitely had to make the team. So with that, her attention snapped back onto her goal and, picking up speed, she led the pack, landing gracefully onto the grass below when all five laps were done.

At this point, all of those who couldn’t quite make it off the ground were joined by those who were done eating their breakfast in the stands. Lyle blew a whistle that hung around his neck and said.

“Beaters are up first! I need you to line up. One by one, you will have the chance to take one turn around the pitch to hit as many targets as possible with a bludger charmed to fly back to you. On my whistle, go.”

It was painful to watch the first four beaters attempt to hit their targets. The truth was, they completely failed to do so. The fifth person was halfway off the ground when he lost control and spiraled into one of the targets that they were aiming at. The sixth person managed to hit seven of the ten targets while the seventh person ran from the pitch his hand clamped over his mouth. The eighth person managed to hit all ten targets, but slipped sideways off his broom by accident. Charlie went next and managed to hit all ten targets and was soon followed by the final person who also managed to hit all the targets.

James gave Lyle a knowing look and Lyle (and the tryouts) continued. Each of the chasers had one chance to score on each of the people trying out for keeper. Alex intentionally took a spot near the back of the group and watched the general abysmal performance. Lily was doing a fabulous job and had managed to score on all the keepers, including the very good ones (James didn’t seemed so thrilled by this).

Alex mounted her broom and rose into the air, level with the center hoop. For the first time in the entire morning, Alex was not the least bit nervous. She stared down her opponent with a single-minded determination. The first four were a breeze; Alex managed to block all of their shots with little effort. Lily was up next, she flew left descended quickly but flew up and to the right. She did this all so quickly Alex had barely a chance to block the goal. And she only managed to save it by practically throwing herself off the broom and caught it with the very tips of her fingers. There was a smattering of applause when Alex pulled out of the save. Lily looked upset, but not defeated because after all, it was a bloody good shot.

This was it, the last one, she stared the guy straight in the eye. All that she could deduce was that he was a Gryffindor who was slightly older than her, probably a sixth year. He seemed to plunge forward in slow motion, his movements blurring, but then someone pushed the fast forward. When she realized it was over, she had the quaffle tucked neatly in the crook of her arm. There was definitely a roar from the crowd in response to this latest save, as Alex landed onto the field she couldn’t help but feel elated. Spinning on the spot, she noticed James waving at her from the stands, and against her better judgment she went to sit next to him.

“Pretty good for a transfer student, Cunnings.”

“So you noticed?” responded Alex with a cheeky smile as she turned to watch the remaining tryouts.

~


“Okay, as you know we have four spots available on the team this year. After some deliberation we have decided who will be on the team. For the spot of beater, fifth year Charlie Thomas, our first chaser will be sixth year Greg Long, and the second chaser is (he paused to give James a look) second year Lily Potter, and finally for the spot of keeper, fifth year Alex Cunnings.”

Simultaneously Alex’s heart stopped and began to beat rapidly, I mean it wasn’t like she doubted that she would get it… but still!

“All the new members should stay awhile so I can pass out practice schedules and hand out uniforms.”

Alex went to find Lily amidst the crowd, “See, I told you that there would be girls on the team this year.”

“Oh my gosh, I cannot believe that you blocked my shot, well I guess I can, you were great!”

Alex laughed, “Let’s go sit in the bleachers so we can get out of here and have some lunch.”

~


With a full stomach and a yawn, Alex left the Great Hall in search of a hot shower and a soft bed. She seemed to barely notice where her feet were carrying her and was before the Fat Lady sooner than she had expected.

“Password?” spoke the portrait.

Alex had not even the slightest moment to respond because someone on the other side pushed it open with unexpected force. For what felt like the hundredth time, Alex was thrown backwards sprawling across the floor, broomstick skidding away. A first year appeared above her, when they realized they had knocked down a fifth year, they ran in fright. Groaning, Alex stood up and grabbed her Firebolt. Approaching the still open portrait hole with caution, Alex walked inside.

Her stomach dropped several inches, she was more awake than she had been all week, and her palms began to sweat slightly. Before Alex, sat not the serene calm of the Gryffindor common room, but hundreds of pictures of herself plastered to protest signs.

“Alex, Alex, come here and help,” yelled Halie as Alex waded through piles of leaflets and poster board that completely hid the center of the room.

“Halie, what is going on?” said Alex open-mouthed.

“She’s missing!”

“Who’s missing?”

“Alexandra Wood. The press tried to track her down at Beauxbatons, but no body there has ever seen her, let alone taught her.”

For the first time, Alex looked down at the posters and leaflets; they read, FREE ALEXANDRA.

“Why does she need to be freed?”

“Because… Halie here thinks that Alexandra’s parents have her on house arrest after that whole James Potter thing.”

Alex jumped slightly as Naomi revealed herself from behind a stack of paper. That’s when she saw the dozen or so first years who had been forced to help with the protest, they all looked equally miserable. At least this explained the rampaging first year that had tackled her in the hall.

“So no one knows where she is?” asked Alex.

“Well, there are rumors.”

“Rumors?” said Alex with a raised eyebrow.

“Some think that she may be attending Hogwarts secretly; something about Alexandra’s maid buying Hogwarts robes.”

“But you don’t believe that?”

“Well no, could you imagine Alexandra attending Hogwarts and no one knowing; I am quite sure I would see her from a mile away.”

“Oh okay,” finished Alex

“Alex, can you please help us protest?” asked Halie with a puppy face.

“I really want to, but I would be no help at all, I am too exhausted to participate in arts and crafts.”

“Wait… why are you tired?” asked Naomi.

“Quidditch tryouts, remember?”

“Oh oh ohhh, how did you do?” asked Halie, momentarily abandoning her protest.

“I got keeper!”

“Congratulations!” screamed Halie and Naomi in unison as they lunged over the protest posters to give her a hug.

“Fine, today I give a pass from working on the protest, just wear one of these for me.”

And she handed Alex a hot pink pin that flashed “FREE ALEXANDRA” in green ink. Alex smiled weakly and put it into her pocket. Bidding her friends goodbye, Alex went up to bed for a well deserved nap.

A/N: This will probably be the longest author’s note ever seen, but there is a good reason why, so I promise if you read on and participate you won’t regret it!

***Hogwarts is holding the event of the decade and they need help picking the baddest (by which I mean best) band to play. So they need YOUR help! Come up with a band name and the name of the lead singer to play at this event (Making the lead singer of the male gender will increase your chance of being picked). Submit your idea as a review for this chapter. I will accept ideas until I am ready to post chapter seven. Then I will announce who the winner is in an author’s note in chapter seven. The band and character will play a semi major part in an upcoming chapter (Though I won’t tell you which). Points will be given for creativity and it always helps to flatter the judge with kind words about her story. ***

I really hope this helps make things more fun and interesting and I look forward to seeing your ideas.

P.s. Here is a sneak peak at the next chapter:

Walking quickly to the staff table, Alex deposited the slug on the table before her. The whole hall was watching in silence.
“Miss Cunnings what is this about?”
“I swear it was an accident, he wouldn’t let go of me… I don’t even have my wand!”
Horrified, McGonagall looked down at the purple slug.



Chapter 7: Chapter Seven: A Transfiguration Nightmare
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Chapter Seven:
A Transfiguration Nightmare


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It was a Tuesday morning in October and the class let out a collective groan when they got back their Transfiguration exam that they had taken the previous class. Few had escaped from the abysmal grades, but Alex was more than satisfied with her ninety-eight.

“Mr. Potter, I will see you after class,” said Professor Marks in his usual disappointed tone, “and you too, Ms. Cunnings.”

Alex stared openmouthed at the professor; she had gotten the best grade in the class, why would she need to be seen after class. Grimacing, Alex packed away her notes and books and slowly made her way to the front of the class where James was already standing.

“Jeez Cunnings, I thought you were a good student; what did you get on the exam to deserve this?”

“A ninety-eight, what did you get?”

James paled visibly and muttered beneath his breath, “A forty-nine.” Alex’s eyebrows rose as Professor Marks made his way to the front of the classroom.

“Okay, obviously you two have figured out why I had you stay.”

When both Alex and James responded with puzzled and uncertain looks, he continued by saying, “James here has once again rediscovered his dislike for studying, and Alex, never before have I seen someone have such a knack for Transfiguration. So, James needs help and Alex you will tutor him for the next exam.” With a furious look from Alex, he added, “For extra credit, of course.”

“And if I don’t want to tutor James, Professor Marks?”

“I am afraid, Ms. Cunnings, that you don’t have much of a choice.”

“I don’t need a tutor!” said James indignantly.

“Mr. Potter, what I don’t think you realize is that your recent grade has put your Quidditch career in jeopardy. Ms. Cunnings nearly received a perfect score, the highest in the class. With her help, I am sure that even you could manage a passing grade.”

James stammered, “B-b-but but…”

“I think that the both of you have something to gain by James being on the Gryffindor team. So James, you score a seventy or higher on your next exam or you no longer have the liberty of participating in school activities… now hurry along or you will be late for your next class.”

~


Whammm! Alex dropped a textbook inches from James’s head, which was resting on the book he was supposed to be studying. Wide-eyed, James sat up instantly, startled, “Bloody hell, what was that for?” asked James.

“You’re sleeping, you are SLEEPING! I went to go get a book five minutes ago and you fell asleep. James, I know that I’m good, but I can’t help you study if you don’t try.”

“No one is making you help me.”

“If you remember correctly, I don’t have much of a choice about being here.”

“Come on Alex, we both know that you want to be here with me.”

“James, you have to stop doing that!” said Alex crossly.

“Doing what?” said James innocently.

“You have to stop hitting on me every time you open your mouth.”

“Why? You don’t mind when Lyle does it at every practice.”

“Well, that’s because… it’s different.” said Alex, lost for words.

“How can you say that? The guy’s a slimy git!”

“Why do you say that?” asked Alex eyebrows raised.

“He has dated like all the girls in the seventh year!”

“Isn’t that kind of ironic?”

“What? Why?”

“Well, last time I had heard, you dated most of the girls in the fifth year.”

James did not respond to this, but merely returned to his work, red beginning to tinge his cheeks. Hours later when the library was nearly deserted, the pair was hustled from their spots by the librarian. They both headed back up to Gryffindor Tower in post study stupors.

James pushed open the portrait hole and said, “You can go to bed if you like, but I think I am going to try to finish my Transfiguration essay.”

“It’s okay I’ll stay here. I mean I am getting credit for helping you.”

The pair settled in a quiet corner as the room buzzed with excitement. As always, the second Saturday of the month marked the first quidditch match of the season. As James pulled out his barely started essay, Alex pulled out a copy of “Witch Weekly” that her mother had sent to her, maybe this would help get her mind off the impending game. Still hours later when the common room was completely deserted, the copy of the magazine lay crumpled on the floor. Alex had fallen asleep curled up in her chair. James was just finishing his essay, his hair a mess from the number of times he had run his fingers through it in frustration. Dotting his last “i” with a flourish, James shook Alex awake saying, “Cunnings, wake up, you should go get some proper sleep for the game tomorrow.”

Alex looked around sleepily and asked, “What time is it?”

“It’s nearly four. Hey, do you mind reading through this essay for me some time before Monday?”

“No pro-oblem,” finished Alex with a yawn as she took the paper and headed upstairs.

~


Alex’s stomach was doing summersaults she and Lily had been changed and ready to play for twenty minutes, they were now waiting for the boys to get ready. The noise from the crowd above intensified as more and more students piled into seats high above. Silently in her head, Alex reviewed the saves, dodges, and plays that she had learned over a lifetime. Lily sat across from her looking equally, if not more, sick about the impending game. Lyle stood to face his team and said, “Okay gang, this is it. We have been practicing tons and we are ready for this, Ravenclaw doesn’t stand a chance!”

He finished this statement with a wink in her direction; Alex returned it with a weak smile and James rolled his eyes with a sigh. In the distance, Alex heard the whistle of the referee to call for the teams to enter the pitch. Weak-legged and queasy, Alex stood and followed the team from the locker room. Lyle gave her a friendly bump with his shoulder as they began to walk towards the center of the pitch.

She mounted her broom and waited for the whistle to take off, around heard the crowd grew louder and louder until it was a positive roar in her ears. Then the sound of a whistle pierced through it all and then it was just her, her and the quaffle. She rose in the air and headed to the goal posts, where she stopped in level with the middle hoop. She had barely the chance to think as a Ravenclaw chaser flew straight towards her. She did not think, she just moved; in no time at all, she was holding the ball as the crowd around the stadium exploded with cheers.

As the game moved on, Alex did increasingly better. With the aid of Lily, the Gryffindor chasers kept the game towards the other end of the pitch. There was a sudden intake from the crowd and from the corner of her eye she saw Lyle take a deep dive only to recover inches from the ground. The crowd let out a collective groan as the game continued on. There was a break away; another chaser flew in her direction. The sinister whistle of a bludger went completely unnoticed in the rush of the potential save. Just as the chaser was about to throw, Alex was pushed aside by James. He swung his beater’s bat back hard and deflected a bludger that was inches from her head.

The unfortunate result of this was that Alex missed the shot and the Ravenclaw section let out a howl of excitement. She pushed James out of her way so she could once again see what was happening in the game.

“Yeah, you can thank me later!” added James clearly upset.

The game continued on and Gryffindor managed to score two more goals. It seemed that the Ravenclaw beaters were bent on revenge so they continuously sent bludgers in her direction. Gryffindor was ahead forty to ten and the crowd was on edge with the excitement of the game. There was another near miss with the snitch. The Captain, chaser, and the largest member of the entire team, began to make his way towards her. James was once again flying close trying to protect her.

“James! I can’t protect the goal if you are in the way!”

“They are aiming for YOU! If I am not here, you’re going to break an arm or something.”

“Who cares about my arm if I save the damn goal?”

Just then, a bludger barely nicked her knee, causing her to fly upward. Suddenly, the chaser shot forward and threw the quaffle fast and hard. The whistling of a speeding bludger was suddenly heard over the roaring crowd. With one quick movement, Alex locked her knees, flipped upside down on her broom, barely avoided the bludger above her, and caught the quaffle, arms completely outstretched in the very tips of her fingers. James sat on his broom beater’s bat dangling loosely at his side in the shock of the save he had just witnessed. The crowd went absolutely berserk at the monumental save. They were so distracted by her save that not a single person noticed that Lyle had caught the snitch. He looked none to happy about the fact that he had won the game and Alex was getting all the attention.

When she landed onto the quidditch pitch, she was swarmed by the crowd of grateful admirers. She saw Lyle heading back to the locker room, a grim look upon his face. If he was going to be a sore winner, he may not be the right person for her after all. It was funny how sometimes the most beautiful people had the ugliest personalities.

The rest of the afternoon was a complete blur of excitement. Everywhere Alex went there was someone congratulating her or patting her on the back. The Ravenclaw keeper even made a point to seek her out and ask her for the name of that particular save. The only noticeable absence was Lyle who seemed to be off somewhere sulking in his own self-pity. James kept himself unusually distant, but still ever present. He only sought a conversation with her once saying, “Cunnings, I am… sorry for getting in the way.”

The words seemed to pain him to say but he looked so dejected that Alex couldn’t bring herself to be mean to him.

“It’s okay Potter, it was only one shot after all.”

“But that’s the thing; if I hadn’t gotten in the way you would have had a perfect game!”

“James, what’s the point of having a perfect game if you received a broken neck in the process?”

James gave a weak smile and said, “I guess.”

“But now you know.”

“Know what?”

“Girls can play quidditch too.” Alex finished as she was swept away by Halie and Naomi.

~


“Halie…Naomi where are we going?” said Alex as she was being pulled forward at a run.

“We are going to dinner,” said Halie puffing.

“Dinner doesn’t start for another half an hour!”

“We have to stop somewhere on the way,” said Naomi, a grim expression on her face.

“You guys, where are we going?” but Alex’s question went completely unanswered.

Several minutes later, they pushed Alex onto one of the rooftops of one of the towers. In front of her sat Lyle closely intertwined with a Slytherin sixth year, who seemed shocked at her luck. The noise of her entrance seemed to break the pair from their trance.

“I am sorry, love; can you give me a chance to speak with my star keeper?” said Lyle and the girl stood in a huff and left the rooftop.

“What are you doing here Cunnings; haven’t you gotten enough attention today?”

“I hate being the center of attention,” said Alex still slightly confused.
“Could’ve fooled me.”

Alex’s head was working fast, I mean it wasn’t like they were dating or anything; he was free to kiss and see any girl of his choosing. She was far to used to that kind of behavior to be bugged by it. No, what was getting on her nerves was the fact that he seemed to be upset over the fact that she was the star of the game.

“If you didn’t want me to save goals, why did you let me on the team?” said Alex hands on hips.

“You were good, but I could tell that you hadn’t had a lot of practice.”

“So?” she was getting more confused by the second.

“So… I thought you would choke at the first game and would need someone to comfort you. Then, we could have one on one game practice… if you know what I mean.”

Unfortunately, Alex knew exactly what he meant; she turned on her heels and headed in the direction of the stairs, but stopped.

“So you let me on the team because you wanted some action?” said Alex with a raised eyebrow.

“Something like that.”

He was walking closer and closer to her until she was against the door with nowhere to go.

“You do realize I would have gone out with you without having to be consoled?”

He was now standing in front of her, to close to her in fact.
“But that would have ruined the fun of it all.”

He said with a smirk and he drew yet closer to her. His lips were inches from her own and her heart began to race. But it wasn’t the excitement of the kiss that was making it pound, it was the anger that was boiling just below the surface. She started digging fast in her pocket for her wand only to find that it wasn’t there. She tried to push him back, but now he had her pinned to the door. His lips were still coming closer and all she could think was that he now looked like a dirty emotionless slug. She closed her eyes and the anger that was bubbling just below the surface exploded with a bang. She felt him let go of her shoulders and when she reopened her eyes he was standing nowhere to be seen. She was sent flying forward as Halie and Naomi forced open the door from the other side.

“Alex, what did you do?” asked Naomi.

“Nothing, I mean I don’t even have my wand.”

“Where’s Lyle?” continued Halie.

“I have no idea, one second he was here and the next he wasn’t,”
said Alex still completely confused.

“Oh – My – God!” said Naomi looking down.

Both Alex and Halie followed her lead and looked down to the ground. Right where moments before Lyle had been standing, squirmed a purple slug.

“You transfigured him!” yelled Halie.

“I told you that I don’t even have my wand!”

“Alex what was going on, we tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge?” asked Halie.

“He told me he just put me on the team because he wanted some action. And then he tried to kiss me; I tried to get free. but he wouldn’t let go.”

“So you did the magic unintentionally?” asked Naomi her face now filled with concern.

“Bloody hell! Even when you don’t have a wand you transfigure things perfectly,” yelled Halie.

Alex gave a weak laugh and scooped up the rapidly escaping slug from the ground.

“What are you going to do?” asked Halie.

“I am going to take him to Professor McGonagall; I can’t get in trouble, I mean after all it was self-defense…right?”

The girls headed down the stairs, dinner would be starting in a few minutes and it would be easier to find the Head Mistress in the Great Hall. By the time they actually reached it, the entire school seemed to be inside. Walking quickly to the staff table, Alex deposited the slug on the table before her. The whole hall was watching in silence.

“Miss Cunnings what is this about?”

“I swear it was an accident, he wouldn’t let go of me… I don’t even have my wand!”

Horrified, McGonagall looked down at the purple slug. She waved over to Madame Pomfrey. After a few moments, Lyle was once again sitting on the table where his slug self had once been. Unfortunately, he had not lost his purple shade. The hall erupted with laughter when they realized what was going on. Lyle looked around and went wide-eyed when he his eyes locked onto Alex’s.

“Miss Cunnings, are you telling me this was accidental self-defense?”

Alex nodded and tore her eyes away from Lyle who seemed to be changing from purple to red.

“Fine, you can go join the rest of your house. Mr. Belmont you will need to go to the hospital wing.

Lyle was pulled quickly from the hall and slowly Alex went to join Halie and Naomi where they sat at Gryffindor table.

“Did you get in trouble?” asked Halie.

“No,” asked Alex looking rather pale.

“That was a close one,” said Naomi.

“You have no idea how close. Professor McGonagall told me that next time I got in trouble she was going to write my mother.”

“Well, what’s wrong with that, I mean it was an accident.” said Naomi.

“Trust me, you don’t know my mother.”

“Well she can’t be any worse than Alexandra Wood’s mother,” added Halie.

“No… they are pretty much on the same level.”

Everyone around them began to laugh with the exception of Alex who was still shaken up and James who had an odd expression on his face. As people began to finish their dinner, there was a call for attention at the front of the hall. Everyone went silent and looked towards Professor McGonagall.

“I am excited to announce that one of your fellow classmates has approached me with the request that this year instead of having our usual Halloween feast we have a Masquerade Ball instead.”

The hall was suddenly silent and everyone listened hungrily to what was being said.

“At seven o’clock on Halloween, the boys will gather in a designated area and the girls in the other. Dress robes are not required, but I will remind you that this is a formal event. All students will require their own mask. When entering the hall you will be paired with another person your age, they will be your date for the evening. Before entering the hall however, you will have an Identity spell put upon you. This spell will prevent anybody from recognizing you and will stop you from revealing yourself. At midnight, there will be an unveiling and then you will find out who you have spent the evening with. You can all thank Ms. Cali Sapphire, Slytherin fifth year prefect, for the wonderful idea.”

Cali then stood to tumultuous applause from the crowd. Alex rolled her eyes and groaned, not noticing that James had done the exact same thing. The rest of the night was spent going over who wanted to wear what and who everyone wanted to be paired with. The majority of girls were grateful that the next weekend was a planned trip to Hogsmeade and they could buy new dresses there. Alex had a feeling deep down inside that she didn’t have to worry about any of it because James would somehow find a way to get paired with her. And her mother would inevitably find out and send her a new dress as soon as possible.

AND THE WINNER IS…
Felix Diceson and the Bloody August
Congrats Felix, you got past the ever stringent
Professor McGonagall and will be playing at the
masquerade ball. So make sure you tune those musical saws
and dress to impress! You have to win the hearts of
the Hogwart’s girls if you want to get on the
Magical Music Top Twenty… I mean not everyone can be
a Weird Sister.


Sneak peak: They had been there nearly an hour when Halie said, “Oh my god, look at that guy at the bar!”

Alex looked over her shoulder and her mouth fell open.

“I mean look at those glasses!” Halie continued

Beneath the fake long blonde wig, coke bottle glasses, and pocket protector was…


PLEASE REVIEW!



Chapter 8: Chapter Eight: Miniature Pink Cows
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A/N: Here is just a quick note before you start reading. Somewhere amongst the 4,000 odd words of this chapter is a bathroom scene… yes, yes I know, most cheesy romance stories have one… but I assure you it is a necessary evil to bring about a greater good. Thanks for reading!

Chapter Eight:
Miniature Pink Cows


chapter 8 fba


“Remind me again why I am trying this dress on?” yelled Alex over the dressing room stall.

“Don’t be such a party pooper Alex! We are all trying stuff on, plus it’s fun!” screamed Naomi from the fitting room to her right.

“But why this dress precisely?” asked Alex.

“Because whether you want to admit it or not that dress is perfect for you,” said Halie.

“You do realize, I don’t actually need to buy a dress. Any day now my mother is going to catch wind of this all and send me a dress,” she said frustrated.

“We both know that you’re just trying to stall Alex, now, get your skinny butt out here!” yelled Naomi with a laugh.

Alex pushed the stall door open slowly and walked onto the mirrored platform hands hiding her blushing face. Distantly, she heard one of them wolf-whistle and the pair began to clap. She turned to look at herself in the dressing room mirror; it was nothing more than a simple white dress. It ended two inches above the knee was very modest in the front and hung very low in the back. The edges were trimmed in a simple beaded black lace that seemed to accent the dress perfectly.

“Oh my god, Alex that dress looks amazing on you!” screamed Halie.
Alex smiled weakly and turned away from the mirror, “Okay, okay it’s somebody else’s turn to be tortured!”

She went back to the dressing room and changed back into her jeans and sweater. When she reached the front of the store, Halie and Naomi were already browsing. Naomi had been able to pick a dress almost instantly; Halie on the other hand, was having a great deal of difficulty.

“I don’t just want to wear any old dress, I want to be the center of attention.” she was saying as Alex joined them.

“Can I ask you a question Halie?” asked Alex.

“Sure Alex, anything?”

“If you want to stand out, why on earth are you looking at plain black dresses?”

Halie snorted and turned to face Alex, “Fine Ms. Alex, if you are so smart then you find me the perfect dress.”

“Are we making a bet?”

“I bet you one butterbeer that you won’t find me the perfect dress in this store.”

“I accept that bet, now stand over there and spin?

Halie obeyed and stood on the mirrored platform and began to spin slowly. Alex observed with the careful eye that was engrained in her by her mother since she was young. Halie was tall and lanky, and her red hair would clash with most of the dresses on the racks. Alex sighed and said, “Okay, go to the dressing room and I’ll bring you the perfect dress in a few minutes.”

After a few minutes, she came across it, the perfect dress, the one that would put everyone else’s to shame. She grabbed it from the rack and dashed to the dressing room where Halie was waiting in the door of the stall. She handed over the dress and put on a victorious smile. Halie wore a look of disgust on her face when she completely looked at the dress.

“You have got to be kidding me!”

“Hey, don’t judge before you actually try it on, dresses have a surprising way of looking different when you actually wear them.”

Resigned, Halie took the dress and went inside of the stall, and Alex went back the waiting room where she took a seat next to Naomi. A few minutes later, the sound of Halie’s dressing room door broke them both out of their trance. Naomi went immediately into a fit of giggles and Alex wore a victorious smile. Halie was wearing a rather short metallic gold dress. It was an “off the shoulder” with three-quarter length sleeves and across the waist was a thick black belt. But as bright and outdated as it seemed, no one could deny it was the perfect dress for her. Her already long legs looked extra long and lean, the gold color looked wonderful against the brilliant red hair, and the belt synched her waist at the perfect place.

“I do believe you owe me a Butterbeer, Ms. Weasley.”

“How on earth did you know that this would work for me?”

“We will just call it a gift from my wonderful mother.”

Naomi finally stopped laughing and looking down at her watch she gave Halie a knowing look and said, “I think we should wrap it up and get some drinks at the Three Broomsticks.”

The group gathered their belongings and went to the front of the shop to pay.

“Hey Alex, I thought you weren’t buying a dress.”

“Oh, no, Lily Potter asked me to pick her up a dress for the dance; apparently someone has asked her to go.”

Alex held the dress out in front. It was just a simple dark blue dress that went well below the knee.

“Awww! That dress is so cute; just don’t tell James, it would drive him absolutely mad.”

After they paid and left the shop, Halie and Naomi practically ran up the street with Alex in tow.

“Do you two have hot dates or something?” Alex said as she jogged to catch up.

“N-no,” said Halie.

“Halie, I know you well enough to know when you are lying.”

“Fine, we are meeting some guys at the Three Broomsticks,” said Halie.

“What guys?” said Alex suspicious.

“Our guys,” said Naomi evasively.

“So, I am going to be a fifth wheel?”

“Not exactly there will be someone there for you, too.” added Halie.

At this point, Alex stopped dead; hands on her hips she said, “Who?”

“Umm… It’s a surprise!” said Halie falsely cheery.

“It’s James isn’t it!?”

“Err… yeah” said Halie.

“You guys! I can’t believe that you did this!”

“But you two seemed so civil lately, we didn’t think that you would mind,” said Naomi pleading slightly.

“Just because I am not covering him in pudding doesn’t mean that I want to be around him.”

“Please Alex… please come!” begged Halie.

Alex frowned and went silent, allowing Halie and Naomi to pull her forward in the general direction of the Three Broomsticks.

After a few minutes, they were leaving the chilly fall air and entering the crowded pub. The girls were waved over by Charlie was sitting in one of the far corners. As they made their way through the crowd, Alex noticed that James was smiling from ear to ear, looking totally elated. Alex took her seat across from James on the very end of the booth.

“Alex, I swear this wasn’t my idea,” he said with a pleading look on his face.

Alex was about to respond in her usual way when Halie elbowed her in the ribs. Alex made a face at Halie and responded, “I wonder what’s easier to get out pudding… or butterbeer?”

James looked horrified, but then she flashed one of those rare and dazzling smiles and they both began to laugh. Taking a sip of a butterbeer that James had bought for her, she joined the conversation. As it turned out, it was a very good afternoon. They had been there nearly an hour when Halie said, “Oh my god, look at that guy at the bar!”

Alex looked over her shoulder and her mouth fell open.

“I mean, look at those glasses!” Halie continued

Beneath the fake long blonde wig, coke bottle glasses, and pocket protector was, Ace, her brother, but no else seemed to notice that.

“Umm… I am going to get another butterbeer, who wants another, my treat.”

Alex stood quickly and pushed her way through the crowd. James and the rest of the group returned to their conversation as Alex neared where her brother sat.

“Ace, what are you doing here?” she said through clenched teeth.

“My name is not Ace it’s… Jace” he said in a thick accent.

“Ace!”

“Fine, mom sent me! She hasn’t heard from you and she’s worried… she practically threatened to disinherit me if I didn’t come,” he said dropping the fake accent.

“I sent her a letter two days ago!”

“Do mom and dad know what you’ve done to yourself?” he asked eyeing her pink hair and torn jeans.

“No! And I would thank you not to tell them!”

At this point, the bartender walked over, “What can I get for you?”

“Six butterbeers, please.”

She was handed the drinks and Ace paid for them.

“Is that James Potter you’re with?” He said with a raised eyebrow.

“Trust me, it wasn’t my choice.”

“So what am I supposed to tell mom?”

“Tell her nothing, just say that I looked and sounded fine.”

He looked skeptical, but she interrupted his thoughts.

Bye Ace!” she said hinting heavily that he should leave.

“You’re welcome for the drinks, Alex!

Pushing her way back through the crowd, she reached the table and passed out the drinks.

“What took you so long?” asked Halie.

“The line at the bar was really long.”

The group returned to their conversations and James leaned across the table and whispered, “Why were you talking to Ace Wood… you know the guy in the crazy blonde wig?”

Alex’s eyes nearly popped out of her head, mind working fast she said, “THAT WAS ACE WOOD!?” She was trying to sound excited.

“Yeah, what did he want?”

“Asked what my name was… actually he was a bit creepy.”

James looked satisfied with her answer, but even happier with the fact that she had not fallen victim to Ace’s charm. The day continued on rather uneventfully and all six headed back to school around four, just in time for dinner. As they were saying goodbye, James stuck a small box of homemade fug into Alex’s coat pocket with a note that read, “Thanks.” He then blushed severely and left with his friends. Alex didn’t know what surprised her most, James Potter being sweet or James Potter embarrassed.

~


A general panic filled the Great Hall on Wednesday morning during breakfast, there was only four days until the Halloween ball and the chaos had reached a fevered pitch. Everywhere Alex looked she saw girls comparing dress colors and the boys (both young and old) dreading the moment they asked someone to go, or even worse were asked by someone else to go.

Alex was spooning herself a second bowl of oatmeal when James and his friends took the seats across from her. She rolled her eyes and James said, “It’s wonderful to see you this morning too, Alex.”

“Almost as wonderful as seeing you, James.”

Alex continued to eat, barely giving him any notice, as she took a bite of her oatmeal. Suddenly, the hall was filled with the rustling sound of owl wings. Alex sighed and prepared for what might lay ahead. James looked up at her and asked, “Is something wrong?”

She sighed again and said, “That is.”

And she pointed upward to the ceiling. They both looked up at the same time to find a large white box flying towards her, carried by seven large barn owls.

“How did you know that was coming; you didn’t even look up.”

“It was a guess, plus it was only a matter of time before she found out.”

“Who found out what?”

“It was only a matter of time until my mother found out about the ball.”

“She can’t be that bad, can she?”

“I’ll tell you when I see the dress, or actually I will tell you when I see the shoes, oh and if there are elbow length gloves, than you can just assume that she is that bad.”

James laughed quietly and helped her catch the box as the owls lowered it to the table. Halie and Naomi cleared the table so they could set the box flat against the wood. Alex opened the box and pulled a letter that was sitting on top of the tissue paper. She began to read out loud, “Dear Alexandra (but she said Alex instead), I heard a rumor about the Halloween Ball and I figured I would give you my input.” But this is all she read out loud.

The letter went on saying, This adorable dress came to the fashion department via this new small French designer. It cost a bundle, so make every second you wear it worth it. And remember mother always knows best so please give it a chance.

P.s. Your brother was very vague about your meeting in Hogsmeade, I really hope you are doing okay.


James watched as Alex refolded the letter and bent once more to look inside the box. There was a moment of crinkling tissue paper and he saw her brow furrow in slight confusion.

“That bad?”

“Actually, she has done worse,” said Alex looking up.

“So, no elbow length gloves?” asked James and Alex shook her head in response.

James continued, “And how are the shoes?”

Alex pulled the shoes that had drifted to the top of the box towards her, “No, they’re actually kind of cute.”

She then closed the box and made to leave the hall and James said rather loudly, “Aren’t you at least going to show us?”

Everyone around the table nodded vigorously and smiling Alex responded, “And ruin the surprise…never.” She then left the hall to drop the box off in the dorm before her first class.

~


Alex stood in the tiny shower cubicle attempting to get the dried mud off of her, or drown herself, she hadn’t decided yet. You may ask why she was covered in mud or why she was showering in the quidditch locker room instead of back in her own dorm, but to truly understand we will have to go back to the beginning… well not that far I guess.

After the expected arrival of her Mother’s “gift” Alex walked up to the dorm. She was about to give the password when the portrait swung forward and Lyle stepped through. Alex had not expected him to do anything because he had maintained a stony silence since their “incident”. But this time, they made eye contact and he flashed a smile, it wasn’t the dreamy one that made girls swoon, it was a sinister one that made the pit of her stomach crawl with nervousness. Shifting his glance away, he continued down the hall talking in hushed tones with one of his friends. Though she could not be sure, she had thought she had heard the word, regret, mumbled.

To be honest the rest of the day was rather uneventful, Halie and Naomi slept through most of their classes, and James pestered her constantly, but it didn’t really matter she had gotten used to it. What was that statement James had made once before? first civility, then friendship, and friendship can lead us to all kinds of places.

Alex shuttered and removed the thought from her mind, just because she wasn’t covering him in pudding, didn’t mean she fancied him or anything…no, she would never do that to herself.

Soon she found the bell ringing to end their last class of the day and she was heading back to the dorm to grab her quidditch stuff for practice. It was only after she entered the pitch when she remembered her run in with Lyle. This was going to be a very interesting practice.

Things had gone from bad to worse when it began to rain. It wasn’t a light spring rain either. The cold heavy droplets soaked the entire team through in a matter of seconds.

Several things happened at once to make things increasingly worse. James was too distracted by staring at Alex’s wet robes to notice that a bludger had gone missing, Lily received the quaffle from a fellow teammate and a huge fork of lightning streaked across the sky, so bright it nearly blinded Alex. All of this added up to one big disaster. Alex heard the bludger flying near her, but couldn’t see it due to the sheets of rain. She saw Lily speeding towards her and that was all. She did, however, feel herself collide with Lily in midair and then felt the bludger practically sweep her broomstick out from underneath her. That’s when she began to freefall towards the ground.

Her hands were above her head waving like mad, trying to grab some invisible means of support. Then, she felt someone grip her hand, but she was so close to the ground that her savior only had time to slow her progression towards the ground. She hit the ground with a splat as she landed in a puddle of mud nearly three inches deep, but then again, it was better than a cracked skull.

Alex looked to see who had rescued her and found James still mounted on his broom staring at her. She knew that he would never hear her over the wind so she mouthed, ‘thank you.’ From somewhere above, she heard the sound of Lyle’s whistle blowing. He set down in-between where Alex was standing and where James was floating.

“I want twenty laps around the pitch for disrupting practice, Cunnings, and you can go with her Potter!”

Not even bothering to try and change his mind, Alex began to run her first lap around the pitch. Even though she was already exhausted, she had very little trouble running as the anger pulsed through her veins. She was soon followed by James who surprisingly was nearly as fast as she was and unsurprisingly seemed just as angry.

She was only on her eighth lap when the rest of the team gave up practicing and hoped that it meant that she could stop too. But as she began to slow, Lyle screamed, “Oh no, Cunnings, if you and Potter still want your spots on the team keep running!”

So she continued. By lap ten, she was severely out of breath; by lap twelve, she was frozen through; and by lap seventeen, she was getting dizzy. But now, she was determined to finish. She saw Lyle still sitting in the stands already changed out of his practice robes. The look on his face only made her want to run faster so her pace picked up and she continued on. By lap twenty, she was ready to die, to keel over directly on the spot. She came to the last few feet and stopped where Lyle sat a few bleachers up, she held up her hands in a way that meant, “So is that enough for you.”

He stood and hopped down a few steps towards her and whispered in her ear rather menacingly, “I do believe that was only nineteen.”

So once again she began to run. James, who was a farther behind her, was permitted to leave the pitch. Lyle stood and left the stadium, not even bothering to stay and watch. Alex finished the lap anyway, going as fast as she could, she was determined to end this on her terms.

As she finished, she entered the locker room to find James sprawled out on a bench. She would have thought he was dead if it were not for the fact he was still out of breath. Her legs were like jelly and it was nearly impossible to walk straight as she wandered through the oak doors that led to the showers. She got to the shower and stripped, not even bothering to be discreet. She stepped, nearly fell, into the shower and turned on the water full blast. Her knees gave out and she sat down, the water spilling over her shoulders and down her body.

It took forever, but she finally managed to get all the dirt and grime off. She turned off the water and stood there trying to steady herself. She pulled a towel that been stacked outside the shower stall around her small form and began to dry off. Apparently, James had woken up after she had turned off the water because he then walked into the room and directly into her shower. Alex clutched to towel to her still damp body. His eyes nearly popped out of his head but the look on his face was one of shock, he had not known that she was in there.

“I-I am…I’m sorry!” he stammered as he tripped backwards out of the showers and fell to the ground, still a muddy mess, with his shirt oddly missing.

Alex turned her back towards him and secured the towel and then walked around him to the main changing room. There lay his muddy t-shirt and her mind oddly flashed to him on the ground without a shirt… she once again shook her head to clear the thought… so what if he looked hot without a shirt; that didn’t mean anything in the least.

She changed back into her school robes and waited for James to get out of the shower, she owed him at least that much, if not more. When he was done, he came out with nothing but a towel over his waist. Yep, he looked clean, and hot but that didn’t matter… nope, not at all. Alex turned away as he changed back into school clothes, not that he asked her to.

“So you waited for me?” he said some time later when they were heading back to the castle, it had stopped raining.

“You saved my life, I thought I owed you,” she said with a weak smile.

“Cunnings, I have no doubt the mud would have softened the blow… are you ever going to wait for me just because you want to see me?”

Alex rolled her eyes and said, “In your dreams Potter.”

They made it all the way to entrance hall before they spoke again and it was James who broke the silence, “We were supposed to study tonight, but I’ll understand if you are too tired to do it now.”

Alex looked at him appraisingly. Like so many things lately, this was a side of James she had never seen before, “No that’s okay, plus I still owe you.”

“Then would you like to get dinner before we head up to the common…”

But he was cut off by someone running towards her like a human bullet, “Alex! Alex! Alex, I have an emergency!”

Alex turned to see Halie bolting towards her. But without even beginning to explain, Halie grabbed her and began to run in the opposite direction. Being dragged away from James, Alex called out over her shoulder, “I’ll meet you back in the common room in an hour!”

~


What was the emergency you ask? It was an Alexandra Wood emergency (aka: not an emergency!). Halie tried to explain what was so wrong by waving a magazine in front of her face. Alex was too tired to think about it so she kindly told Halie and Naomi (who looked nearly as thrilled as Alex) about her situation with Lyle and excused herself from the latest meeting of the Free Alexandra Rebellion Team or as Alex liked to call it, F.A.R.T.

When she made it back up to the common room, she found James already working. They sat in a quiet corner and you could tell that he was tired but also determined, the exam was only a week away and there was a lot to study. It was nearly midnight and James was working silently… and that was when she felt it, but she was powerless to stop it. Her stomach growled so loudly that James looked up from his work. But he was a gentleman and did not comment just continued with his essay.

Alex thought quickly, the last time she had anything to eat was lunch and her post practice run could have burned through what she ate four times through. She once again tried to stop it but she was powerless, it growled so loud this time that a few seventh years a few tables away looked over at her. Her cheeks were suddenly tinged with pink and James gave one of those smiles. It was not cocky, or flirty, or like you just caught him misbehaving… it was a genuine smile.

Silently, he stood and ran up the stairs to the boys dormitories. When he returned a few minutes later, he threw a bag of cheddar cows into her lap… it was a Weasley Wizard Wheezes product, but completely harmless.

In mock surprise, Alex said, “For me!”

“Yeah and if you are nice you can even keep the toy in the bottom.”

“That is so generous of you, Potter,” she responded with a smile.

She ate the contents of the bag and explained a few things to James that he was still unsure of. By the time they were ready to go to bed, the bag was empty. Alex was about to go upstairs when James called out, “Wait you forgot your toy.”

“That’s okay… you keep it” she said with a yawn.

“I think pink is more your color”

He walked over and Alex extended her hand. But instead of handing it to her, he slipped the bracelet over her hand and towards her wrist. She shivered slightly at his touch… but that was because she was cold… right. Looking down, she couldn’t suppress a laugh for around her wrist was a band of miniature pink cows strung together by an elastic string. She gave her hand a shake and the bracelet mooed softly. They both laughed and, saying goodnight, they headed in opposite directions.

A/N: One more chapter finished, what did you think of it? Yes, I know Lyle was a complete arse, but he will get what’s coming to him. Thanks for reading and for your trouble here is a little sneak peak.

Sneak Peak:
The song ended and James detached himself from the very girl that seemed to make his heart beat. How could he be so mellow dramatic he had only known her for two months; there was no possible way these feeling could be real.

Please Review!


Chapter 9: Chapter Nine: Antidotes and Rockstars
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A/N: Ahhh… It is finally here the big dance! I don’t want to delay your reading, so just remember to review please.

Chapter Nine
Antidotes and Rockstars

Photobucket


Alex was sitting on a picnic blanket sipping slowly on a butterbeer, talking to some faceless person beside her. Suddenly, the ground began to vibrate beneath her. Her half empty butterbeer bottle toppled to the ground, spilling its contents over the blanket. She looked downhill from where she sat and saw a stampede of angry pink cows running toward her.

Leading the pastel cows was a person dressed in black dress robes and a jeweled crown upon his head. Alex stood on the spot and began to run away, but she realized that she was wearing a floor length pink ball gown that was so puffy she tripped and began to roll down the hill. She rolled for what felt like hours, all the while the sound of stampeding cows coming closer and closer. She finally came to rest at the bottom of the hill. She stood quickly and tried to run.

In front of her was a tree, maybe if she climbed it she would be safe from the strange man on the pink cows. She was about to reach for a low branch when a hand grabbed her from behind. She whipped around and the air left her chest. There stood James, looking quite dashing standing before his heard of pink cows.

He took a step closer and she stepped away from him, but he stepped forward again. Alex tried to step back once more, but she hit the tree. She was stuck; but it didn’t matter because she was frozen to the spot by his gaze. He walked closer to her, eliminating the small space that had separated them. He tangled his hands in her long flowing blonde hair and pulled her towards him. Then he kissed her, she was torn between how she used to feel and how pleasurable his touch was. Alex melted in his hands and gave into the temptation of his passionate kiss. Then he pulled away, and slightly out of breath, she watched him ride away on the biggest pink cow of them all. Suddenly, she heard someone calling her name. She turned on the spot to see who it was, hoping they hadn’t seen who she was kissing.

“Alex…Alex…wake up!”

Alex shot upright in her seat in the middle of the Transfiguration classroom, her hands shook from the sudden scare. The cows on her wrist mooed in response to her sudden movement and the entire class turned to stare at her.

“Ms. Cunnings is there something you would like to share with the class?” said a clearly annoyed Professor Marks.

“Umm… no, nothing sir” she said as she thought to herself, Damn that James Potter for keeping me up so late studying! Now I’m falling asleep during class because of it!

The rest of the class turned back to the front of the room, all except for James, whose stare lingered longer. Alex caught his eye, turning red when she thought about her dream, and then quickly looked away. Looking down at her wrist, she saw the pink cow bracelet. Reflecting on it, she smiled to herself and continued to take notes.

~


Alex was not particularly excited for the ball; to be honest she would be perfectly fine if she did not attend. Her friends, on the other hand, would be less than thrilled if she decided not to go. Friday seemed to have dragged on for what felt like days and now that it was finally Saturday, the time would not slow down.

“Alex! Stop moving you’re messing up your hair!” yelled Naomi as she pushed Alex’s head upright.

Alex was sitting in a spare chair in the girls’ dorm room getting her hair done. She had started with long and brown (which she refused to keep) and then it was short and red, but that had made her look peaky. Now, finally, they had decided on blonde, past her shoulders…long blonde hair.

Naomi finally allowed her to stand up and she went to examine herself in the mirror. She looked nice, but looking over at the clock she realized just how little time she had left, so grabbing her dress off the bed, she went to the bathroom to change.

~


There was a knock on the dorm door, the fifth year boys all hushed at the sound. James stood up from his bed and went to answer the door. After a hurried whispered conversation, someone entered the room. It was a tall thuggish Gryffindor seventh year with a bad reputation.

“So you have what I asked for?” James asked rather seriously.

“Well I guess that depends . . . do you have what I asked for?” said the older boy.

James swallowed hard and did not respond, he merely placed a few chocolate frog cards and a pair of quidditch tickets in the boy’s hand. The seventh year then pulled a small, clear vile from his pocket. The vial’s contents suddenly glinted red as the boy handed it to James.

“That’s it! That’s all you have?” replied James appalled.

“That’s all you’ll need. Now remember, you can only take it the moment before the spell is cast or it won’t work.”

The boy the turned and left the room leaving the door ajar as he went. James looked at the tiny bottle that he rolled between his fingers; it had cost him a lot, but it would be well worth it. James felt someone pat him on the back and heard Charlie say, “James, I can’t believe that you’re going to do this man… can’t you just be put under the identity charm like the rest of us?”

“I have to mate, it’s the only way Alex will ever see that it’s possible she likes me.”

“Have you stopped for one second to think that, this potion isn’t the antidote for the Identity charm? So instead of chasing Alexandra around tonight like the annoying git you are, you may be doing it as a goose, or frog, or whatever the junk could turn out to be?”

“Why did you call her Alexandra?”

“I don’t know, I mean it’s doubtful that her parents just named her Alex. It doesn’t have to be Alexandra, it could be Alexandria or Alexis or whatever.”

“I guess she does kind of seem like an Alexis, but it doesn’t matter what her real name is; she is worth taking this potion. She is worth this one risky chance to make her see that she actually may like me.”

“I don’t know mate, this seems like a lot of work for a girl… you never used to care.”

“I didn’t care because none of those girls meant anything…but Alex, now she’s worth everything.”

James pulled on his dress robes, combed his hair, and left the room, carefully depositing the vial in his jacket pocket. The pair hurried down to the common room and quickly left through the portrait hole. Charlie had to meet Halie in the entrance hall and James wanted to see Alex before the ball got under way.

~


James was standing at the bottom of the main stairs that landed in the entrance hall. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation of Alex’s arrival and was far too excited to stand still. Charlie stood next to him, but he was distracted by Josh and Naomi, who were making their way towards where they stood.

“Naomi, do you know where Halie and Alex are?” asked Charlie.

James waited for Naomi to reply, but she said nothing. She merely lifted a hand and pointed up the stairs. James followed the direction her hand was pointing and what he saw caused his jaw to drop and his eyes to nearly pop out of his head. There was Alex making her way down the stairs as though in slow motion. As she descended the stairs, his jaw remained open and he was completely unaware of it.

Alex had done away with the pink streaks just for the night and donned and flattering black dress. He saw how its knee length cut made her long legs look even longer, and how the black lace that draped the top of the dress looked beautiful in contrast to her pale shoulders. It cinched her at the perfect place on the waist so she looked curvy without looking stick thin. She also wore a mask, simple and black, that made her blue eyes stand out so much he felt like he was being x-rayed. Then before he expected it, she was standing in front of him. Charlie leaned over to kiss Halie as Alex said, “Potter, your mouth is open.”

He snapped his jaw shut, but couldn’t help the small smile that curved the corners of his lips. Alex rolled her eyes. But as she walked away with her friends, he saw a small smile play across her own lips. Taking heart, James went to get in the boys’ line for entering the Hall. He lost sight of her because of the curtain that separated to the two lines. One by one the boys were being charmed into temporarily forgetting themselves and they entered the lavishly decorated hall.

It was his turn to be charmed so he stepped forward to where Professor Marks stood with his wand in his hand. He was about the cast the spell when James said, “No wait, one second.”

He popped the top of the potion and downed it in one swallow. With a raised eyebrow Professor Marks asked, “James, what was that?”

Trying to look innocent James replied, “Mouthwash, I’m hoping to get lucky tonight.”

The boys in the line laughed at his response and Charlie gave him a look that said, I hope you know what you are doing. Professor Marks cast the spell. James felt it wash over him and when it was done he looked around, he saw that Charlie was Charlie and Professor Marks was well…himself and knew that the antidote had worked.

When he came out on the other side of the curtains, he was placed with a brunette Ravenclaw fifth year whose name he believed was Charity. At the same time, the rumors had been confirmed; McGonagall had managed to book Felix Diceson and the Bloody August to play at the dance. Felix was crooning a loud rock song over the magical speakers at that very moment. He danced with Charity for one song, but took his first opportunity to ditch her and begin his search.

It was extremely crowded and hard to navigate in one corner where the majority of the first through third years, who were entirely too intimidated to join in the dancing, were gathered. All except for Lily, who was strangely missing but that didn’t matter because he was on a mission. He ducked and wove through couples for about an hour with very little success; he finally gave up his search and walked toward the staff table for some punch, which was hopefully by now spiked.

~


Alex stood by the punch bowl completely weirded out by the fact that she was currently in a room with complete strangers. She was brought out of her contemplation as a rather good-looking boy with messy black hair and striking blue eyes came up to where she stood. He did not look up to see her staring, but instead he grabbed a cup and poured himself some punch. He drank the entire glass very quickly, but a look of disappointment crossed his face.

“No such luck, the seventh years haven’t gotten around to spiking it yet.”

The boy looked up and his eyes nearly popped out of his head, she was glad he had finished swallowing because if he hadn’t she was sure he would have spit out his punch.

“You look like you are having just as much fun as I am,” he said with a clever smile.

“Yeah well, these kinds of events really aren’t my type of thing.”

James had not expected that, actually, he had expected anything but that.

“So what kinds of events are ‘your thing’?”

Alex did not respond to his question, did she dare to be open with this boy she was sure she had never met before, “Exclusive things, where it is just you and your friends, no one trying to be something else just so you will like them.”

James was even more thrown off by this response, she sounded almost sad about the whole thing.

“So if I ask you to dance are we going to make any other boys jealous?”

She smiled in response, was this him trying to ask her to dance? She gave him a quick emotionless stare and responded, “Well, there is someone who would probably try and kill you if you tried to dance with me… but maybe a little jealousy will do him good.”

Trying not to think about who she may have been referring to, he grabbed her by the hand and pulled her in the direction of the dance floor. They had just made it to the center of the crowd when the song suddenly stopped and was replaced by a slow and mellow one. James swallowed hard, would she still want to dance?

Alex did not hesitate she wrapped her arms around the “stranger” and began to dance. She basked in the warmth of his touch and without thinking rested her head on the chest of the mysterious boy. James swallowed hard; it seemed for nearly two months all he wanted was this moment and now that it had come, he had to face a bitter truth.

Alex Cunnings and James Potter were perfect for each other with the exception, however, that she seemed to have a problem with the fact that he was James Potter. That he couldn’t change, even though sometimes it was the deepest wish of his heart. He didn’t want to be famous, but because of his father and mother and everything they had ever done, he was indeed famous by association. And that was something he could never escape, let alone change.

The song ended and James detached himself from the very girl that seemed to make his heart beat. How could he be so mellow dramatic, he had only known her for two months there was no possible way these feeling could be real.

Alex was kind of put off by the mysterious boy’s sudden departure, but soon forgot about it when she ran into a very good-looking boy who looked older than she did. His black hair hung in his face, almost completely hiding his piecing grey eyes, the pair began to dance.

James stood in a corner trying to compose himself. He was suddenly distracted when Charlie and Halie sat in chairs near where he stood. He couldn’t suppress a smile; they were so in love that even when they had no idea who each other were they still had managed to end up together.

This heartened James slightly, if Charlie and Halie could do it, so could he. Bracing himself, he reentered the crowd of dancing students. But before he had even glimpsed Alex, a head of red hair caught his eye. Lily was dancing rather too closely (in his opinion) to another boy he had never met. He stormed over to where she stood and shouted, “What the bloody hell do you think that you are doing?!”

Lily looked mortified at the stranger’s sudden intrusion on what she had hoped would be a wonderful night.

“I am dancing, genius!” she spat back.

“You’re in the second year!”

“So! The dance was for all the students!”

“And who is this arrogant little burke?!”

“Don’t call him that, you don’t even know who he is, you don’t even know who I am . . . what are you my brother or something?!” and she ran from the dance floor.

The second year boy gave James a horrified stare and ran top speed after Lily to make sure that she was okay. James felt as though he could not afford to get distracted by this event so instead he continued his search. He found Alex a little sooner than he expected and his stomach plummeted when he saw who she was dancing with. She and Lyle Beaumont were dancing a little too close for his comfort, and Lyle’s hands seemed far too low down on her back to be courteous.

James knew that he had to play his cards right, he didn’t want to upset Alex and possibly ruin the rest of the night. That was when his foot was trodden on by a girl with bottomless black eyes, James almost yelled at her in frustration, but then he got an idea.

“Hey, do you know who that boy is over there?”

Cali Sapphire shook her head no.

“Well that there is James Potter,” he said pointing a finger in Lyle’s direction.

Cali’s eyes suddenly went wide and without another word she went up and separated Lyle from Alex. Well at least that explained why she always acted so strange around him.

Alex once again felt put out, why didn’t the guys she started dancing with stay dancing with her? She had predicted correctly, tonight was not the least bit fun; at least she could say that she managed to avoid James Potter. James watched as Alex turned away, but then he was knocked to the ground by Josh and Naomi who were dancing exuberantly. By the time he stood up to see where she had gotten to, Alex was gone; her white blonde mane of hair had completely disappeared.

Alex went out to a garden that had been placed outside the entrance hall and found a dark corner. She hid there in the silence for nearly an hour when she looked down at her watch. There were only fifty minutes until the unveiling then she could leave this horrible dance. But deciding she had been gone long enough she stood and reentered the hall. She was passing the stage when the live music died to be replaced by music from a huge phonogram, the band was taking a break before their final set.

She was about to walk away when a guy jumped off the stage and blocked her from doing so. He held out a hand and said, “Hi! I’m Felix, what’s your name?”

Alex was blushing, why was she blushing? It was probably because Felix was so ruggedly good-looking that he was twelve Lyles and twenty-five James Potters baked together into the same warm gooey cookie. They began to talk and she took a comfortable seat on the edge of the stage where her feet could dangle over, she looked at her watch again, only twenty minutes until the midnight unveiling.

James was standing off to the side of the dancing crowd, he had not seen Alex for over an hour and a half, and he was beginning to give up. One thing was for sure, this was the worst night ever and he had wasted those quidditch tickets on a potion that did nothing to help. That was when he looked up to see Alex sitting out in the open on the raised stage. He began to walk in her direction when he saw her slide off the stage and walk away with the lead singer of the band.

~


Alex was sitting on the garden wall still talking to the gorgeous rock star when he began to lean in. She put a hand over her mouth and shook her head ‘no’ to signify that things were moving too fast. He kissed her hand and gently moved it away and tried to kiss her again. This time her response was a bit more forceful, she pushed him back and away from her. His next action was more aggressive, he pinned her hands against the wall and tried once again. The only thing Alex managed to get out before he was so close that she could smell the tobacco smoke on his breath was, “No…stop!”

“Levicorpus!” shouted a familiar voice.

James walked over to the musician who was now hoisted into the air by his ankle. James then walked straight up to the man and punched him hard on the nose. Still upside down, the man’s nose began to bleed and James slowly let his unconscious body float towards the ground.

Alex looked merely stunned by the events that had just happened and then her eyes fell upon the boy she vaguely recognized from earlier.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Alex did not respond but merely nodded and stood staring at her “savior.” Somewhere off in the main hall, the band started the final song of the evening, without the aid of their lead singer, of course. James merely stood staring at Alex, and she stared back, not knowing who he was.

The last song was drawing to a close and they were still staring at one another speechless. Alex then opened her mouth and said, “Thank you, whoev…”

But then a strange whooshing feeling came over her, it was midnight. She had looked away, and removing her mask she turned to face the person who had helped her.

Her mouth fell open and she stared with wide eyes, for there stood James looking dashing in black dress robes, he was the one who had saved her!

A smile cracked his lips as he said, “Cunnings, your mouth is open.”

A/N: So, there it is, the long awaited masquerade ball… did you like? Sorry I guess it was a cliffy of sorts… not really. So the next chapter is probably one of my favorites by far, so just to make you crazy, here is a sneak peak:

He covered her mouth with his hand and said, “Shhh! If you’re not quiet, someone might catch you in a broom closet with James Potter.”

Yep, that was enough to shut her up, she seemed to relax and he took his hand away from her mouth.

“Ever do that to me again Potter and I will bite your hand!”

“I’ll be looking forward to it, Cunnings.”

Alex rolled her eyes and continued, “Why on earth did you drag me in here?”





PLEASE REVIEW!



Chapter 10: Chapter Ten: Improvising
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A/N: So, like I said before, this is my favorite chapter so far… for more than one reason. I am sure by the end some of you will love/hate me **evil laugh**. So far be it from me to keep you from your reading, but PPLLEEAASSEE!! Review!

Chapter Ten:
Improvising

Photobucket


“I can’t go to bed, I don’t know anything!” said James frustrated.

“James, we have been studying this for a month, if you don’t know it by now, you might as well give up and live as a muggle.” replied Alex calmly.

“Oh thanks, that makes me feel so much better.” he said sarcastically.

“I have complete faith in you James. Yes, you are an idiot, but trust me, you’re not that bad.”

“Somehow I still don’t feel comforted.”

“Fine, Potter what will comfort you?” asked Alex and he responded with a suggestive look and Alex rolled her eyes, “besides that you git!”

“Can’t blame me for trying; you practically set yourself up for it.”

Alex stood and walked to the stairs of the girls’ dorms as he shouted, “Hey, where are you going? We still need to study!”

“James, you have had this stuff down for over a week; I just kept studying with you because you were so freaked out about it. I am going to bed and I suggest you do the same… don’t worry you’ll do fine.” she smiled and continued up the stairs, leaving him in the common room alone.

And as he watched her walk away he believed her, if she thought that he would do okay then he would.

When Alex got up to her dorm, she noticed that she was the last one awake, again. Sighing, she pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and settled into her warm bed. Tomorrow was Thursday, the day of the big exam, and she would once and for all be rid of James Potter…so why did she not feel more excited about it?

As she drifted to sleep, she dwelled on the same thing that she thought of every night since the ball. She hadn’t said anything…no, nothing at all. She just stood there and stared at him for what seemed like hours then turned on her heel and walked away. James had saved her from Merlin knows what and all she could manage was turning her back on him. Speechless… it was the first time in her life that she had failed to think of a single word… and it scared her to death.

Quite suddenly, in a moment of perfect clarity that we very rarely get, Alex saw the span of her and James’s relationship, every flirty statement that had left his lips coupled with every single snide remark that she had come up with in return. With painful shock, she saw the forced and empty smiles that made up her life as Alexandra, but then she saw the last few months. She had smiled real smiles; her laughter was real, not just the polite reply to a stupid joke… an actual roll-on-the-floor laugh. She was playing quidditch, making friends…and she was getting to know James.

She finally drifted into unconsciousness as an image of James floated before her with that goofy smile he had whenever she was around. Flying up out of her sleeping state, she stared wide-eyed about the place. Her mind came to a single conclusion; James Potter liked her… really liked her! She had always just assumed that he wanted to get into her knickers. In a way, James did want to get into Alexandra Wood’s knickers… but Alex Cunnings was a completely different matter. James liked Alex Cunnings… bloody hell!

In her own shocked state, she realized that she couldn’t admit to hating him in return. With a moan, she fell back into bed and covered her face with a pillow… she could not be falling for James Potter…could she?

~


Feet and arms dragging, Alex made her way towards the Great Hall for breakfast. She did not fall asleep last night, that’s right not a single wink of sleep. She lay in bed the entire night wide-eyed trying to prevent unwanted thoughts of James from coming into her tired mine, but it was useless… he was still there.

She walked into the hall and nearly every seat at the Gryffindor table was occupied with the exception of a few beside James and a few opposite Lyle… fate was truly cruel. Should she sit opposite the guy she had turned into a purple slug, or next to the guy she was desperately was trying to find faults in? Though her mind was begging to sit with Lyle, her feet lead her in the direction of James.

She took the seat next to James who had his Transfiguration notes open before him. He looked up surprised and said, “Are you lost, Cunnings?”

“Don’t flatter yourself Potter, Halie and Naomi couldn’t come because they are cramming, and it was between sitting with you and sitting with Beaumont.”

There was an icy chill to her voice that he hadn’t heard in weeks, but he took heart none the less. She had chosen him over Lyle… it was at least a start. He watched as she quickly ate a bowl of cereal and left the hall, not once saying anything to him. When had girls become so complicated or better yet why was he just noticing this now?

~


Halie, Naomi, and Alex were walking together, arms linked, in the direction of the Transfiguration classroom. Professor Marks had said the grades for the exam would be posted during the morning break on Friday. Naomi and Halie were concerned about their grades, but Alex wasn’t all that worried. She had after all studied it with James every waking moment since she was forced into the tutoring project.

They turned a corner and as they neared the classroom they saw the small crowd gathered around the bulletin board. They waited in line for a few moments and soon they were standing before the sheet of parchment with their grades upon it. Skimming down the list of numbers, Alex found her own, followed it across… to be honest it was kind of disappointing to be so near perfection and actually not get it. She had received a 99.5%; I mean really what kind of teacher does that?

She took a step back so someone else could see their grade and walked a bit down the hall so Halie and Naomi would be able to find her. She was just passing a broom closet when the door silently flew open and someone pulled her in.

“James! What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?!”

He covered her mouth with his hand and said, “Shhh! If you are not quiet, someone might catch you in a broom closet with James Potter.”

Yep, that was enough to shut her up; she seemed to relax and he took his hand away from her mouth.

“Ever do that to me again, Potter, and I will bite your hand.”

“I’ll be looking forward to it, Cunnings.”

Alex rolled her eyes and continued, “Why on earth did you drag me in here?”

“I have noticed something Cunnings, now this is just an observation, but did I do something to put you knickers in a bunch?”

Alex immediately began to list a lifetime of things that he had done in her head, but settled on saying a simple, “no.”

“Well, we both know that you’re lying, but we can deal with that later. I just wanted to thank you for your help with the Transfiguration exam because of you I still have my spot on the quidditch team.”

“You did get your grade; so how’d you do?”

“Sorry, I’m not going to tell you,” he said bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Are you seriously playing that game, Potter?”

“Yes I am.”

“Fine, I really don’t care what you got anyway,” and she tried to leave the cupboard.

“I was afraid that you were going to make things difficult Cunnings, so I will make you a deal.”

“There is no need to make a deal; I really don’t care to know, now get out of my way.” She demanded and tried to push James from the door.

“Now Cunnings, that wasn’t very well-mannered.”

“Oh and I am sure they taught locking people in broom closets at your etiquette school.”

“Okay, okay I’ll get to the point. You have to agree to meet me by Professor Mark’s office at two in the afternoon on Saturday. If you meet me there, I will tell you what I got on my exam and I will give you this.”

James held up a glittering gold pendant on a long gold chain, it was the necklace that her father had given to her. She wore it so often she hadn’t even noticed that it was gone. Alex paled and reached out a hand and said, “James please give that to me.”

James almost did, the look of depression on her face was so pronounced that he almost felt bad for using it as leverage. But then he remembered that she already thought that he was a jerk and continued by say, “To my love Alexandra, Love Dad. So Charlie was right your name is Alexandra.”

Alex paled even further as he said this, but soon he continued, “Wow, this thing looks bloody familiar. Well anyway, you can have it back when you meet me tomorrow afternoon.” and he tucked the necklace back into his pocket.

“You’re blackmailing me into meeting you tomorrow?” replied Alex in disbelief.

“Technically, it’s only blackmail if you come.”

“Did you learn that little jewel of morality from the same place you learned your kidnapping skills?” she asked coldly.

“Yep, learned it all from Uncle George. So, do we have a deal?”

“Will you give me the necklace now if I promise to come tomorrow?”

James looked at her appraisingly, “I am sure that I could arrange that for a certain price.”

“Do I even want to know?” asked Alex.

“Hmm… this is a pretty nice necklace, so it’s going to have a heavy price…”

“Potter, it’s my necklace in the first…” but he cut her off.

“A kiss.”

“Excuse me?” she asked slightly stunned.

“You can have the necklace if you promise to meet me tomorrow and if you give me a kiss right now?”

Somehow Alex knew that bargaining was going to do nothing, so she decided to beat James at his own game. She put both hands on his chest and fixed him with a stare capable of melting ice. James paled and broke out into a cold sweat. Alex smiled and pushed him back against the broom closet wall. She traced her fingers up the back of his neck and she felt him shiver beneath her touch. She laced her fingers through his hair and he took a sudden deep intake of breath.

She brought herself closer to him as she traced her hand down his chest and towards his thigh. Her lips were centimeters from his when she whispered, “I guess you’re just going to have to trust me.” and she pulled away, taking the necklace from his pocket as she did so. He was frozen to the spot as he saw her pause at the closet door before leaving to say, “Tomorrow at two then”, and then she left.

~


Alex arrived near Professor Marks’s classroom five minutes till two and there was no sign of James anywhere. She wrapped her cloak tighter about her as the sound of Peeves drifted towards her in the quiet hall. Peering out the window, she saw that the school grounds looked gorgeous covered in an icy frost. It seemed that James was going to be late… big surprise.

Ten minutes later, Alex was brought out of her trance when someone came skidding around the corner and ran towards her.

“Sorry had a bit of trouble convincing Peeves… ” said James.

“Convincing him of what… never mind… tell me again why I’m here?” asked Alex not the least enthused.

“You are here because you subconsciously wanted to spend this great November Saturday with yours truly.”

Alex raised her eyebrows in response and said sarcastically, “Was that really what I was thinking? Because what I thought I was thinking was: why am I wasting my Saturday waiting for a boy that is just going to hit on me.”

“Look, I’ll admit my behavior in the past has been…questionable. But today, if you promise to come with me, I promise to be on my best behavior.”

He looked sincere but she still had her doubts, “Prove it.”

“And how am I supposed to that, Cunnings?”

“Tell me exactly what you’re up to,” she said as she crossed her arms and gave him a piercing stare.

“Oh I can’t do that, but I can say that I have been making observations.”

“Observations?”

“Yeah I have noticed things… you know like, Ireland is your favorite quidditch team…and you drink your coffee black in the morning.”

“I don’t mean to spoil the fun or anything but what do my favorite quidditch team and my coffee preference have to do with waiting in this hallway?”

“It will all make sense, but right now, we’re waiting.” answered James vaguely.

“Waiting for what?”

“The signal.”

Fifteen minutes later, they were still standing there waiting in the hallway for the “signal;” it had yet to come. Alex had just turned towards James to better facilitate her complaining when the castle was suddenly filled with the sounds of something very large shattering. Before Alex could respond, James grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into a nook where a suit of armor sat old and dusty. They stood there, mere inches from each other, awkwardly looking in opposite directions then Alex said, “I take it that was our long awaited signal”

“Nope…not yet.” he said with a shifty smile.

“Then what was that?”

“I gave Peeves eight packs of water balloons for him to break the hour glasses in the front hall and then prevent anyone from repairing them.”

He said this so nonchalantly, that appalled, it took her a few seconds to respond, “YOU DID WHAT!”

But no sooner had the words left her lips than a sixth year prefect came skidding down the hall. Alex was about to extricate herself from the cramped spot when James pulled her close and covered her mouth firmly with his hand. Meanwhile, the sixth year had entered the Deputy Headmaster’s office, clearly in need of some help with the situation in the entrance hall. Feeling James’s hand on her mouth, Alex spitefully bit down hard on his hand…well she had warned him.

As Professor Marks came running out of his office, James let out a yelp of pain. The professor came to a skidding halt and whipped around to see where the noise had come from. But suddenly, there was another explosion from above equal to that of the first one. Nursing his bitten hand, James pulled Alex silently into the office as the Professor continued in the direction of the entrance hall.

“Please tell me that wasn’t your plan all along?” said Alex finally able to speak.

“It wasn’t my plan…” said James seriously but then he continued, “I can’t believe you actually bit me!”

“What? I told you I would!” she replied coolly.

“Yeah I’ll remember that the next time you threaten me…”

But he was cut off by Alex who interjected, “James, what are we doing here?”

“We’re improvising,” he answered vaguely as he began to open the drawers to the Professor’s desk.

“What!?”

“Well, we can’t apparate and I couldn’t get a portkey in time, so we’re…”

“Improvising,” she finished his sentence and continued, “James Potter, I refuse to leave this school with you… we are breaking like ten rules.”

James, who was not paying attention, answered, “Actually, it is more like twenty-three.”

She had had enough. Opening the door to the office, she saw Professor Marks making his way down the hall. Gasping, Alex threw herself back into the room and turned to look at James.

“Potter, we are ten seconds from being expelled; tell me you have a plan!”

James held out a clear box full of silvery dust and said, “James Potter always has a plan.”

With seconds to spare, he grabbed her hand and threw a handful of Floo powder into the fire and shouted, “The Witches’ Brew!”

Inhaling a mouthful of ash and dust, she began to spin and slowly Alex watched her world disappear.

The pair came to a sudden halt in a very small fireplace. James, either intentionally or by accident, lost his footing and landed upon her, pushing her into the wall as he did so.

“Potter…GET OFF ME!”

He listened, and in seconds, the pair was standing in a tiny coffee shop that was obviously magical.

“James where are we?” she asked still confused.

“We are in my favorite coffee place in the whole world,” he said with a sly smile.

“You did all that work to get us out of school, just to get coffee?” she asked in utter disbelief.

“We are getting the coffee and then we are leaving in about an hour, Cunnings, just something to keep us busy for a while.”

“James, where are we going?” whined Alex as James pulled her forward in the direction of the counter. They spent an hour inside; Alex drinking her black coffee and James sipping an espresso. They didn’t talk about anything in particular or anything important… they just talked. When the clock on the wall struck four o’clock, he stood to leave.

“Okay Cunnings, we have to walk to our next destination, but you’re going to have to trust me to get there.”

He was surprised when Alex smiled compliantly and said, “I went in the god-forsaking office. I already trust you.”

A smile spreading across his face, he and Alex walked out of the shop in the direction of a large snow-covered plateau, about two miles or so in the distance. After about an hour, the pair came to a large cave mouth.

“Do you honestly think I am going in there?” she asked with an indignant snort.

“You said you trusted me.” said James putting on a pout.

“Trust does not extend to large dark caves that I don’t know where they lead… for all I know you can be a serial killer and you’re looking for an easy place to leave my body.”

“Come on Cunnings,” Refusing to hear another word, he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the cave mouth. Instantly, the roar of a crowd met her ears and Alex looked around in surprise.

“You snuck me out of school to see a quidditch game?” she said aghast.

“Why, don’t you like it?” he looked worried.

Alex tightened her grip on his hand and said, “No… it’s genius!”

So they spent the entire afternoon together; side by side cheering on the Irish team as they played against the Chudley Cannons. To be honest, upon reflection, Alex remembered less about the game and more about spending the time with James. Hours after night had fallen, the Irish seeker came away with the snitch, ending the game with a score of 490 Ireland and 470 Cannons.

Once the game was over, James stood and took Alex’s hand and led her in the opposite direction of the stadium exit.

“James, where are we going?” she asked nervously.

“Come on, Cunnings; don’t ruin all of your surprises.”

They continued their descent towards the field and towards, what Alex feared, was the Irish changing rooms. She was right; James stopped just short of the locker room entrance and said, “My dad is good friends with the coach of the team, I thought you may want an autograph or something.”

Alex’s head was screaming ‘no,’ but she couldn’t help but be touched by his sincerity. “Okay Potter, lead the way.” she said in a resigned tone.

“Hey is everyone decent?” yelled James before they turned the corner.

“James, is that you?” yelled back a familiar voice.

Moments later, Mr. Wood turned the corner to greet them. Alex took a deep breath and hoped for the best; she knew that her dad could play it cool.

“Hello Mr. Wood. I just wanted to thank you for the tickets and introduce you to Alex.”

For the first time, Oliver took in the girl standing beside James and when he did so, his eyes nearly popped out of his head. “N-nice to meet you, Alex is it?”

Alex nodded in response and shook her father’s hand as though he were a complete stranger. At that point, James wandered away to talk to one of the players and Oliver drew closer to his daughter, “Does your mother know what you have done to yourself?” he said looking down at her hair.

“No, you’re not going to tell her, are you?”

“Trust me Alexandra, I am smart enough to know what not to tell your mother but… James Potter?” he had a look of concern upon his face.

Alex did not have a chance to respond because at that point James returned saying, “Well, we best be off… don’t want to get back too late.”

Oliver nodded and James and Alex left the locker room. Alex was starting to get concerned; it was a few minutes after ten, “James, how are we getting back into the school?”

“Easy…Professor Marks always does rounds at eleven on Saturdays… we just have to be back in his office about then.”

“And if he isn’t doing rounds?” she said her eyebrows rising.

“Then we get expelled together,” he added with a cheeky smile.

By the time that they had reached the Witches Brew, Alex was exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep. After a few dizzy moments, she once more found herself in Professor Marks’s office… and he was thankfully, not there. James let go of her hand and they started their ascent to the Gryffindor common room. Up several staircases later, Alex and James were a few corridors from the common room and just as close to getting to safety when they heard muffled footsteps nearing them.

James grabbed her hand, and sprinting, he led her to the nearest hiding place. He wretched the door of a broom closet open and quickly and silently closed the door behind them. Alex came to two conclusions at the same time; the first being that she had spent far too much time in broom closets with James over the last few days and the second being that this particular broom cupboard had to be the absolute smallest broom closet the world had ever seen.

She and James were crammed into each other; their bodies seamless in the confined space. The position was awkward; her feet were interlaced with his and her one arm was trapped behind her back. As quietly as possible she tried to change her position, which she actually managed to do. There was only one problem, with the change, her foot was now in a bucket and she was attempting to remain upright while balancing on one foot.

“James, my foot is in a bucket!” she whispered.

“What?” James had not understood.

“My FOOT is in a BUCKET!” she said a bit louder.

He reached down and attempted to help free her foot, but as he did this he lost his balance, which caused Alex to lose her balance also. There was a sudden tangle of limbs; meanwhile the bucket was still stuck of Alex’s foot. When all had settled down again, they were in an extremely awkward position; James was sitting on the floor with his back against a crate and Alex was straddling him.

“Cunning’s you can get off me now.” said James looking into those bottomless blue eyes that were mere inches from his.

He saw her look away and attempt to move and then she said, “I can’t.”

“Can’t or don’t want to?” he asked in a smug whisper.

“I can’t move; the stupid bucket has my foot jammed against the wall”

She saw his face fall with disappointment and that’s when she fully realized the logistics of their position. She was sitting on his lap, legs on either side of his waist, her hands rested on the wall on either side of his head, and her hair was spilling off her shoulders and onto his chest (she had kept the long hair after the ball, but added in her signature pink streaks). She looked up once more and her eyes locked onto his deep blue ones. She felt the air leave her chest and her head was suddenly filled with cotton.

“You never told me what you got on your exam.” said Alex in barely a whisper.

“I got a perfect score; how’d you do?” he said as though he barely noticed what he was saying.

She punched him on the arm saying, “You weren’t supposed to do better than me… I got a half point off.”

Alex heard him chuckle softly and she felt one of his hands rest upon her waist and the other reached towards her face. They were becoming closer and closer, the inches that separated them seemed forever to cross. They were mere centimeters from each other; she felt the heat of his body and smelled the subtle scent of his cologne. She was going to do it, she was going to do the one thing she had always promised herself that she would not do, she was going to kiss James Potter.

She went to close the distance between them when the closet door suddenly flew open and the small space was suddenly filled with wand light. Covering her eyes slightly with her hand, she just made out the subtle outline of Cali Sapphire staring back at her, looking murderous.

A/N: Another “sort of” cliffy…sorry! But how right was I? Wasn’t that one of the best chapters to date? So here is a sneak peak for your trouble. Oh and I apologize ahead of time… no really, I am sorry.

Sneak peak:

“Alex? Is everything okay?” asked Halie.
Alex threw away her pillow and looked at her concerned friends with an almost manic look, “Other than the fact that I am a complete idiot.”
“Why are you an idiot?” asked Naomi.
“I let myself fall for James Potter!”



PLEASE REVIEW!


Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven: Mommy Dearest
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A/N: ***Important please read!***
I have no doubt in my mind that by the end of this chapter some (most) of you will be angry with either James, Alex, or most unfortunately, me. I don’t want to give much away but please remember to breathe… deeply…in…and…out. Let’s practice, shall we? Okay, so it isn’t that bad, but just remember while the story may be taking a direction you don’t like, everyone will be happy in the end… I promise you won’t regret keeping up with this story. Okay, I am done blabbering, enjoy the chapter and don’t forget to REVIEW.


Chapter Eleven:
Mommy Dearest
Photobucket


Cali wore a look of shock and anger; she was frozen to the spot in horror and disbelief. That is when Alex saw the spark of fire burn behind her bottomless, cold black eyes.

“Cunnings, Potter, follow me!” she said in short clipped tones.

“I can’t move; my foot is stuck” said Alex as she indicated the bucket still jammed on her foot.

“Reducto!” screamed Cali as Alex clenched her eyes shut, sure that she had just had her leg blown off by the certifiable Slytherin prefect.

The bucket, however, fell to the ground; nothing more than fine dust and her foot was free. Sore, Alex was finally able to stand and James soon followed. Reluctantly, they were led away by Cali, to Merlin only knows where; but after seeing her reduce the bucket to dust they were not to keen on making her mad.

A few moments later, they turned the corner that led to Professor McGonagall’s office. Alex paled visibly; this was going to be ugly and she knew it without a doubt. James must have noticed the worry that crossed her face because he squeezed her hand lightly as they approached the end of the corridor, attempting to calm her nerves.

“Polyjuice Potion,” said Cali. (This was obviously the password.)

The stone gargoyle leapt aside and permitted them to walk up the spiraling stone stair case. Cali knocked on the polished door and a tired voice from inside told them to come in. Taking a deep breath, Alex and James followed Cali into the office.

“I found these two out of bed Professor… they were in a broom closet a few corridors away from Gryffindor tower.”

“Thank you Miss Sapphire, you may return to your common room now.”

A clock on the wall behind her desk struck midnight as Professor McGonagall indicated that they sit in the armchairs that sat before the desk. Alex sat on the very edge of her seat and folding her hands in her lap she began to prepare herself for the worse.

“I do remember saying after that little food riot in September that if either of you were to break the rules again, I would be writing to your parents… do I even want to know what you were doing in the broom closet?”

James was about to respond when Professor McGonagall interrupted, “Never mind… I don’t want to know. It doesn’t appear that you have gotten very far, so you won’t be suspended. It will be fifty points for Gryffindor for your little adventure and a weeks worth of detention each.”

“Cunnings, you will spend your week helping Professor Mansfield and Potter, you will be helping the caretaker… and of course, I will be writing to your parents.”

Her words were met by a stunned silence and she continued, “Mr. Potter you may return to your common room. I need to have a word with Miss Cunnings.”

Looking confused, James stood and left the room and Alex missed the security that his presence provided.

“Miss Cunnings, we both know what will happen after I write this letter to your mother.”

“Is there anyway I can convince you not to?” asked Alex desperately.

“I am afraid that I really don’t have a choice in the matter.”

“Well then, can you at least give me a ten-minute warning before she gets here and starts tearing the place to pieces?”

Alex was sure that the Headmistress had smiled, but it had happened so quickly that she couldn’t be sure. Then the professor responded, “Yes Miss Cunnings, that I can do. Now you best be off to bed too.”

“Thank you Professor,” and Alex quickly left the office.

~


It was eight in the morning on Sunday, and determined to be prepared for when her mother arrived at the school, Alex was already awake. She was diligently dressed that morning and was working in the library. When she had woke that morning Potter had seemed to be waiting for her to get up and had followed her to the Great Hall for breakfast, but he didn’t eat anything. When she was done, she stood and went to the library and he once again followed, despite the fact that he had no books and nothing to work on. A rather large Transfiguration essay was open before her and she did not give the slightest recognition that James was sitting beside her.

“Psst…” called James, but Alex ignored it.

“Alex…” he tried again but still no luck.

So, he began to slowly poke with his index finger, over and over in a rhythmic pattern. Without looking or speaking to him, she grabbed his hand and set on the table. He did not give up yet; with both his hands he mocked playing a mini piano on her arm. With the hand she wasn’t writing with, she grabbed his hands and would not let go.

This worked for a while and then he began to sing in a whisper, “Alex and James in a closet…” he continued to hum. Still attempting to work, Alex let go of his hands and covered his mouth. Unfortunately, this let his hands free and he began to tap a cheerful beat on her arm again. She didn’t let go, still not saying a word she continued her work.

She began to write out her conclusion when she felt something wet slide along her palm. Finally, her eyes parted from her work and with horror she realized that James had licked her hand. Jumping up, she wiped her wet hand on his sweater sleeve and shouted, “What the bloody hell was that for Potter?”

The entire library turned to look at her and the librarian looked ready to kill. Alex gave her a look of apology and resumed her seat beside James who wore a goofy smile across his face.

“Cunnings, why are you ignoring me?”

“I am trying to get this done before…” but she trailed away as a frightened first year came sprinting into the room.

The boy ran directly to where she sat but was too out of breath to speak.

“She’s here, isn’t she?”

The boy nodded and finally said, “She’s flooing to the headmistress’s office right now.”

“OH CRAP!” hissed Alex and she grabbed her stuff, flung it in her bag, and made to run from the library, but James grabbed her by the arm.

“Alex, what’s going on?”

But she pulled her arm from his grasp, and as she ran from the library, she yelled behind her, “Mummy Dearest has come to see me and she’s not very happy!”

~


Alex ducked behind a statue, one corridor down from where the entrance to the headmistress’s office was located. In quick desperation, Alex worked to undo the spells on her hair, and without a mirror, she just prayed that she was getting it all. Ten minutes later, it seemed that she had finished, and with her hair once more curly and dark brown, she checked to make sure the coast was clear. She paused behind the statue as a first year girl went skidding by and sure that the coast was clear, she dodged from behind her hiding place. In a matter of seconds, she was up the stairs and knocking on the door to the headmistress’s office.

“Come in!” said McGonagall in a stiff and irritated voice.

Taking a deep breath, Alex turned the door knob and entered the room prepared for the angry blast.

“Alexandra Wood, EXPLAIN YOURSELF THIS INSTANT!”

Alex swallowed and began, “Mum, I swear…”

But Mrs. Wood cut her off by saying, “I couldn’t believe it! I get a letter after the third month of school to find that you have not only been in trouble once, but twice! Your father and I sent you here so you could stay OUT of trouble… not so you could find new ways to get into it!”

Mrs. Wood paused; chest heaving because she had momentarily forgotten her need to breathe. Alex took this opportunity to speak, “Mum… I was just in a broom closet…”

Her mother had regained her breath and her temper, “Don’t even get me started on that, young lady! Found in a closet with James Potter… wasn’t that the very same reason you were sent here in the first place?!”

Alex blinked at these words she had not expected that; and again, she tried to speak, “Mum, we were…I-I was just…”

“Alexandra Callista Wood, don’t even dare sit there and lie to me! I was your age once… I know exactly what you were doing in that closet with James Potter. Young lady you will be very lucky if I don’t decide to take you home with me this very instant.”

Alex paled and could do nothing more than stare at her mother open-mouthed. Eventually, she had managed to stammer, “Mum… n-no, I love it here.”

“Mrs. Wood I hope you don’t misunderstand, but I have no intention of expelling Alexandra. My letter to you was merely to let you know that she had received detention.”

Excuse me Professor McGonagall, but I am precisely aware of why it was written.”

Professor McGonagall’s mouth went so thin that it threatened to disappear completely, and with clipped tones she spoke once more, “No, Mrs. Wood there are a few things I believe that you don’t understand. Your daughter was able to make friends from the moment she got here… a monumental task for a fifth year transfer student. She is the top student in every single class she is taking and has yet to receive a grade below an outstanding. She was so good in Transfiguration that she asked to help tutor another student… a task I might add, that is usually performed by seventh year students. Yes, she has a knack for finding herself in trouble, but removing her from Hogwarts at this stage in her O.W.L. year would be very unwise.”

The older women fixed each other with stares to match their high-spirited natures. Professor McGonagall broke the tense silence first by saying, “Alex, why don’t you return to your common room… get ahead on your work. I do believe you have a quidditch match next weekend.”

Alex winced… she had not told her mother that she was on the quidditch team; it was unlikely that she would actually approve. Mrs. Wood turned to face her daughter slowly and with a strange look said softly, “You’re on the quidditch team?”

“Yeah,” responded Alex nervously.

“What position?”

She had not expected that reaction.

“Keeper… like dad was.”

“Oh… well g-go on then… go study,” she sat weakly in a chair and watched Alex pick up her stuff and go to leave.

“Wait Alexandra… what is that in your hair… it’s pink.”

“Oh… I was practicing a hair transfiguration spell. I must have forgotten a piece,” said Alex still confused as to why she was still lying.

“Well get rid of it… it looks foolish.”

With that, Alex turned to leave… there she was… the mother that she had come to know and love. Alex nodded to Professor McGonagall and walked down the stairs, pausing behind the statue when she saw that James was waiting for her halfway down the hall.

“Bloody hell!” she whispered beneath her breath and tried to devise a plan.

Using silent spells was still new to her, but leaning around the corner she pointed her wand in his direction and thought, “STUPEFY!” James went rigid and slid down the wall into a sitting position, where he ceased movement. Sprinting, Alex made her way down two corridors and into an empty girls’ room and locked herself inside. She was getting better at doing her hair; she finished this time in less than five minutes and when she was once again, Alex Cunnings she dashed out of the bathroom.

Praying that her mother would also be flooing home, Alex ran back to where James was still unconscious. She brought him around and slowly he mumbled, “W-where am I?”

“James, it’s me, Alex… you are outside the headmistress’s office… were you waiting for me?”

“Oh yeah… I guess I was” he struggled to get up and Alex helped him.

“Why don’t we go for a walk, it’ll help you clear your head,” she said; desperate to get away from the spot.

And the pair walked down the hall together, arm in arm; Alex attempting to keep James on his feet… not an easy task.

~


To be honest, detention wasn’t as bad as everyone had cracked it up to be. Alex would arrive in the dungeons after dinner and when she was done with her assigned work, she would go back to the common room; but she was always done before ten. She had survived the last four days and was excited that tonight would be the last night. The detention had seriously screwed up practicing for quidditch, but she had made it up to Beaumont by doing morning practices.

Alex was sitting in History of Magic, on either side of her were Halie and Naomi; in front of her was James. She was diligently taking notes when James yawned widely and reached his arms up and behind him. When they were at their extent, he let a paper fall onto Alex’s desk and returned to his normal position. Alex rolled her eyes and opened the note and read:

Dear Alex,
Tonight is our last night of detention and I was hoping that you would do me the great honor of meeting of me in the Great Hall when you’re finished. I have a surprise for you, for surviving your first week of Hogwarts’ detention.
-James


James felt something get tucked in the collar of his shirt; he didn’t have to turn around to know that it was Alex’s reply. Pretending like he was scratching the back of his neck, he pulled the note out; excited for what it said. He opened it up and looking upon her neat loopy handwriting, he read:

James, are you asking me to celebrate finishing detention by possibly risking getting more detention? I would ask how you know what time I was getting out of detention tonight, but I am sure that it’s something I’d rather not know. As to your proposition, well I guess you’re just going to have to wait and see!
-Alex


He smiled to himself and tucked the note into his shirt pocket, so she hadn’t said no, but he knew that she would be there. He proceeded to try and pay attention to the lecture, hoping in some small way to impress her by his attempt to be a good student.

The class seemed to drag on for what felt like hours and the rest of the day followed suit. Two meals and four hours of detention later, James was dismissed by the caretaker and told to go back to his common room. He walked, half sprinted, to the Great Hall; hoping that Alex was not already waiting for him. He was sprinting down one of the shortcuts to the hall when he was startled from his single-minded concentration.

“James?”

He came to a skidding halt and turned to find the voice he could not quite place in his mind. From the shadows walked Cali Sapphire, looking gorgeous in her own dark and moody way. She made her way slowly towards him, walking in a way that made all guys stare no matter their age. James swallowed and responded, “H-hey Cali.”

“So what are you doing here, James?” she said as she made her way closer.

“Detention… just got out of d-detention,” his eyes were wide; she was wearing her normal muggle clothes. For this occasion she had donned a short denim skirt and a particularly low cut black sweater. He couldn’t help but stare. James had always thought that she was hot, but this was too much. She was standing inches from him; his eyes were locked onto her bottomless black ones.

Her lips were inches from his when she spoke, “What are you looking at James?”

A smile flicked across her lips as he began to kiss her… all thoughts of a particular pink-haired beauty pushed from his mind.

~


Alex had been waiting outside the Great Hall for over fifteen minutes. She tapped her foot impatiently on the flagstone floor, still waiting for the boy who had tempted her into staying. She heard the echoing cries of Peeves and decided it was best to just move along, something had obviously prevented him from showing up.

She pulled back the tapestry that covered the entrance to a shortcut that James had showed her a few days before. She walked the first length of the hall and was about to turn the corner to the second half when a strange noise caught her attention. Not wanting to walk into anything awkward, she peeked around the corner to see what she was hearing.

She paled visibly and her mouth fell open when she took in the sight of James kissing Cali Sapphire. To add insult to injury, she noticed that he had her pinned to the wall with one hand and the other hand was under her shirt trailing up her stomach.

She wanted to turn, to run, to forget everything about the last two months, but she could not pull her eyes away from the sight. Panic rose in her throat and tears threatened to overcome her eyes. She watched in disgusted sadness as James trailed kisses down Cali’s neck. Cali turned in Alex’s direction and opened her eyes. Their eyes connected, and Cali gave Alex a vindictive smirk and then groaning slightly, she kissed James again.

Alex once more felt the feeling return to her legs, and like so many times before she ran silently from the place of torment. Up the stairs, she went in the direction and comfort of her own bed. Alex’s head was working fast, I mean it wasn’t like they were dating or anything; he was free to kiss and see any girl of his choosing. She was far too used to that kind of behavior to be bugged by it… so why exactly did she feel like screaming in anger and sadness?

She practically screamed the password at the Fat Lady and ripping the portrait-hole open, she ran up the stairs to her dorm; leaving a trail of confused people in her wake. Halie and Naomi exchanged scared and worried looks and quickly followed Alex in the direction of her dorm.

Alex put her pillow to her mouth and screamed with every ounce of emotion that she had left in her body. Her hurt was quickly turning to anger and it boiled over the surface, scorching every good memory that she had with James. When she was done, she heard the door to the dormitory open and two sets of feet walk inside.

“Alex? Is everything okay?” asked Halie.

Alex threw away her pillow and looked at her concerned friends with an almost manic look, “Other than the fact that I am a complete idiot…”

“Why are you an idiot?” asked Naomi.

“Because, I let myself fall for James Potter.”

“And why does that make you an idiot? You two were getting along.” said Halie obviously not following the conversation.

“Yeah, I thought you two were going to start snogging any day now,” added Naomi.

Alex let out a derisive laugh and responded, “It’s kind of hard to get close to Potter when he’s already snogging Cali Sapphire in the hallways.”

Halie and Naomi shared confused glances, “You saw James kissing Cali?”

Alex was finally out of words she buried in herself in her bedding, clothes and all, preparing for the worst night of sleep ever… one thing was for sure, it would probably pale in comparison to tomorrow’s quidditch match.

~


The game could have gone better; or rather, Alex could have done better. Yes, they had still managed to win; the score being 200 Gryffindor to 90 Hufflepuff, but Alex hadn’t been completely on her game. Now, she was waiting outside the changing room for the boys to be finished, she had managed to avoid James the entire morning… he hadn’t even noticed the difference.

She and Lily were given the okay to come in and Alex entered the locker room to find James waiting for her.

“Hey Alex, I was wondering if you wanted to go for a walk.”

Honestly, he could be so clueless. Alex walked silently around him and grabbed a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. She went to one of the shower stalls to change and when she came back out he was still there.

“Alex, is something wrong?”

Alex didn’t respond she merely began to lace up her old running shoes. It had been months since she had last run in them… months since she had had any reason to run in them. She stood and walked from the room, James calling after her, “Alex! Wait! What did I do?”

She began to run around the pitch the warm November sun beating against her shoulder. A chilly breeze bit at her face and hands, but it didn’t matter, in a few minutes it would be numb. That is all Alex wanted… she just wanted to be numb. Half way around the pitch, she realized that James was chasing after her. She picked up her pace and continued her way forward.

Around fifteen laps later, James was getting tired but all he could think was, “How on earth can she run like this? We just played a three hour game and it is like sub zero out here!” But he still kept up his chase, wondering what he had done this time. His mind flashed back to the night before… he frowned, he had not intended to snog Cali.

I mean it was pleasurable and all, but there wasn’t much more to the girl other than sarcastic wit and a beautiful face. He had intended to explain this to Alex after the game and hoped to dear Merlin that she wouldn’t kill him. But why was she so angry… maybe it was because she was mad about being stood up? Man, girls could be so complicated.

Heart pounding, sweat dripping, feet slamming the frozen ground of the pitch, Alex realized that she had been running for nearly an hour. Each movement pained her but each pounding leap temporarily freed her from her misery. She thought that maybe James had given up his chase and that is when she heard a thud and a groan. She did not stop or turn around she just kept running at a breakneck pace. She was nearing one of the goal posts when she noticed that James had tripped and was lying in a ball on the grass. She sped up and a few minutes later she came to where he was lying… oh well, he was still breathing, but a girl could hope.

When he heard her footsteps, he stood and turned to face her… ha, he knew that would work. Alex fully intended to run past him, not even giving him the time of day. But as she went to pass he grabbed her by the waist and would not let go.

“For Merlin sake, Cunnings, will you hold on?!”

Alex ripped his hands away from her, but she turned to face him, completely out of breath and once more angry.

“Cunnings, why won’t you talk to me?” she stared at him in response.

“What on earth could I have done this time?”

Alex snorted and went to run again when James called out, “Fine, it’s just going to be like this, huh, you’re never going to speak to me again?”

Alex kept walking away and then she felt a hand on her shoulder. James pulled her around to face him, a little more forcefully than he had intended. Alex reluctantly turned to face him, avoiding his blue eyes that did not leave her face.

“Alex, just tell me what I did… was it because I stood you up last…”

His words were cut off as Alex swung her hand forward and slapped him across the face with all the force of her anger. James staggered and fell backwards against the cold ground. Alex walked over to where he lay and stooped down so she was closer to him. In a vehement whisper, she said, “I hope she was worth it Potter!”

Alex stood and left the pitch leaving a confused, stunned, and injured James behind.

A/N: Possibly one of the more intense chapters so far… so did you like it? Okay, okay, stupid question! Alex hates James, James is still clueless, and Cali Sapphire is a ruthless bitch that most you probably want to kill… so you most likely didn’t enjoy it. But… it’s the first step in a positive direction… I’ll stop torturing you with what may or may not happen in the next chapter and just give you a sneak peak.
Sneak peak:


Leaving her school uniform on, Alex began to undo the spells on her hair. It took her nearly ten minutes, but with a mirror, she confirmed her hair had resumed its natural brown curly look.

She started on her makeup; she was scrubbing away her eyeliner with her back facing the door. The noise in the halls of the train masked the sounds of someone turning the handle to the compartment.

“Alex?”





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Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve: Quality Quidditch
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A/N: So this is one of the more unexpected chapters… and not in a bad way! It is pretty much broken up into three parts and one of the parts has been in the storyline since the stories conception. That aside there are some major revelations in this chapter that I suspect some of you will be thoroughly happy about it. Okay, okay, enough talking… enjoy the chapter! Don’t forget to read and REVIEW!

Chapter Twelve:
Quality Quidditch

Photobucket


Two more hours… just two more hours and she would be free from it all. No more Potter, no more OWL work, no more classes… all she had to do was make it through these two hours and she would be home for Christmas break. Alex sighed and returned her attention to the History of Magic lesson. As she turned her head, she caught the eye of James. When he noticed that she was looking back, he turned quickly away; something he had done a lot lately.

She had been silently avoiding him for over five weeks. At first, he had pestered her constantly trying to make her break her stony silence. Then around the beginning of December he began apologizing every time they passed or were forced to work together in a class. But Alex didn’t need his apologies because, to be honest, she wasn’t that mad at him. She was mad at herself for falling for him even after she knew what he was capable of.

She maintained her stony silence not out of anger, but because he still made her palms sweat and her stomach summersault. She was sure that if she were to speak to him that she would merely fall for him again. She turned once more to face the front of the class, but her mind was elsewhere. It was only in the last week that Potter had adopted his own vow of silence; but still, he seemed unable to look away.

Alex wished that the next few hours would be uncomplicated and would speed by, but deep down inside she knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Something would undoubtedly prevent her from entering this holiday in peace and she was indeed correct.

It was finally four o’clock and she made her way towards the Hogwarts express. She had her owl cage balanced precariously on her trunk, which she was attempting to carry on her own. One of the seventh year boys took pity on her and helped her onto the train as snow began to fall. When they reached the compartment, he went to say something but blushed furiously and ran from the room, too afraid to speak. Alex smiled to her self; she still had it!

Halie and Naomi piled in behind her and the three girls quickly went about doing their own thing. Naomi was reading the latest copy of the Quibbler and Halie was reading up on all the latest “Alex sightings.” Alex rolled her eyes at the thought; apparently some witch from London swore she saw Alex filming a muggle movie while on holiday in California. Pulling herself away from her own picture that once again graced the magazine’s cover, she pulled out a thick parchment envelope.

Mrs. Wood had taken it upon herself to send her daughter an itinerary for the entire Christmas break. She stared in dread as she traced her finger down the list, and wide-eyed, she came to rest on December 25th. Following the date across, she read, “Party at the Potters.” Alex groaned outwardly and Halie and Naomi looked up at her and said almost in unison, “are you okay Alex?”

“Yeah I’m fine; I am just going to go use the bathroom.”

She stood and left the cabin; since she had already used the excuse, she might as well actually go to the bathroom. She entered the tiny space and the floor vibrated beneath her as the train sped forward. In her mind, Alex was thinking: Okay, wait until everybody is off the train and then lock the door. Change back into Alexandra and wait until the platform is clear. When everyone is gone, I’ll go meet Dad by the entrance… sounds simple enough.

Absentmindedly, Alex washed her hands and walked from the bathroom. She was about to walk forward when the cabin beside her flew open suddenly and she was pulled violently inside. She didn’t even have to look at the person to know who it was. This unorthodox method of getting her alone was the mark of the one and only James Potter. But she was determined, and she would not waver, she would not speak to him, never fall for him again.

She heard the lock click in the door and knew that it was no use… she was going to be stuck here for quite awhile. She took a seat and crossing her arms and legs she stared determinedly out the window.

“Alex… what do I need to say? How can I make you understand how sorry I am?”

Alex did not respond; she merely looked forward. He continued, “I wasn’t thinking; I just screwed everything up.”

Still no response so he tried once more, “Before I knew you knew, I was planning on telling you everything anyway… please, I’m so sorry.”

It took Alex a minute to comprehend what he was saying before he knew that I knew??? Then it sunk in, he had never meant it to hide it from her, he had just never been given the chance to say anything. It didn’t change a thing; however, falling for James Potter was still the worst thing imaginable and nothing was going to change that.

Silence fell between the pair and both stared out the window their minds working fast. Surprisingly, Alex broke the silence first, “You don’t need to apologize, James. I’m not mad at you.”

“What? You’re not mad at me?” he responded slightly disbelieving.

“No, not really.”

“Then why have you been acting like this?”

“Because…” she fixed him with a glare and debated whether or not to say the next part, “because… I was mad at myself for falling for you.”

James returned this with a stunned silence and Alex continued, “I knew better than to trust you James… but somehow I still managed to delude myself.”

With that, Alex stood and left the compartment… James was frozen in his seat. If she had been capable of getting out the entire time, why had she stayed so long? He was suddenly heartened by this positive sign, but it was quickly deflated… Alex didn’t trust him.

Alex returned to the cabin and as she closed the door, Halie and Naomi ceased their low murmuring. Clearly, seconds before they had been talking about her; however, she was used to this. Unabashed, Alex resumed her seat and put the parchment envelope that had been sitting on her seat into her school bag. She turned and stared out the window; James shocked and stunned face reflected in her mind’s eye.

The night seemed to drag on with the anticipation as the departure of Alexandra loomed nearer. Soon the lanterns flickered on and Alex, Halie, and Naomi dissolved into conversation about what they planned on doing after school.

“I don’t know; being a healer always interested me… but the work load is supposed to be really hard,” said Naomi.

“Journalism,” said Halie suddenly, “I want to be a Journalist… report on all the celebrities, you know, have my own column in Witch Weekly.”

Naomi and Alex dissolved into giggles and an affronted Halie said, “Fine, Alex what do you want to do?”

Alex stopped laughing and started to think: Well, Mom will want me to work with the magazine, and Dad would love it if I played professional quidditch. But to be completely honest, neither really interested her all that much. So what did she want to do…?

“Earth to Alex!” Halie waved her hand in front of Alex’s face. Her mind snapped back to attention and she replied, “A teacher, I want to be a Transfiguration teacher.”

“And when precisely did you decide you wanted to be like Professor Marks?” replied Naomi with a laugh.

“I don’t want to be like Professor Marks, but I realized that I kind of like teaching, you know when I was tutoring James…” but her words faded away.

It was the first time the three girls had spoken about James since the first week in November.

“You know what,” Halie said suddenly, “I think I’m hungry let’s go find the food trolley.”

Halie and Naomi stood and made their way to the door, but turned when they realized that Alex wasn’t following. Alex looked up and said, “Go ahead… I am not really that hungry.”

The two girls left the cabin, not knowing what to do for their friend who still, after all this time, was upset.

~


Before Alex was ready for it, the train was slowing to a halt beside platform 9 3/4's. Halie and Naomi jumped up and grabbed their trunks from the luggage rack; Alex taking her time to slowly put away all her belongings. Halie and Naomi had cloaks on and were ready to leave.

They stood waiting for her by the door of the compartment. Alex looked up and said, “You guys can go ahead; this is going to take me a while.”

Naomi gave her a last searching look and turned to leave the compartment. Alex threw her belongings haphazardly into the trunk and pulled out her wand. Carefully she pulled the blinds closed and shut the compartment door. Leaving her school uniform on, Alex began to undo the spells on her hair, it took her nearly ten minutes, but with a mirror, she confirmed her hair had resumed its natural brown curly look.

She started on her makeup; she was scrubbing away her eyeliner with her back facing the door. The noise in the halls of the train masked the sounds of someone turning the handle to the compartment.

“Alex?”

Alex jumped in surprise and in horror she turned to face the familiar voice that had said her name. Standing in the doorway were Halie and Naomi, wearing equal looks of shock. Then Halie screamed, “Oh my God it’s Alexandra Wood!”

Clearly, she did not fully comprehend the situation. Alex pulled the two girls into the room and closed the compartment door, this time making sure to lock it. Halie bounced forward gibbering, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I am finally meeting you in person.”

Alex couldn’t respond, so she returned the statement with a weak smile. Was this it? Was her secret finally out? Was this the end of Alex Cunnings? Naomi was staring at her through narrowed eyes and then she spoke, “So it was you the entire time; the pink hair was just a disguise, Alex?”

“Why are you calling her Alex, Naomi?” asked Halie, still lost.

“Because that is what we have called her everyday for the last three and a half months,” said Naomi, turning to face Halie.

Halie’s eyes widened to the size of galleons and she clutched a hand to her mouth, “You mean Alex is… is… Alexandra?”

Alex stared helplessly at the pair of girls, everything running through her mind at once. This was bad; this was going to be so bad! Then, she was brought out of her state of contemplation by Halie who screamed, “I AM FRIENDS WITH ALEXANDRA WOOD!”

The redhead began to jump around the room chanting those excited words. Alex couldn’t help but smile; just leave it to Halie to react in such a way… maybe this wasn’t going to be bad after all. Alex sat down with her head in her hands and Naomi came to sit beside her.

“Alex, why didn’t you tell us before?” she had a look of concern on her face.

“My parents sent me to school to get me out of the public eye… and I just wanted the chance to be a normal kid, to have real friends,” and as she finished saying this she looked up into the faces of her best friends.

“I can’t believe that I was friends with Alexandra Wood the entire year and didn’t even realize it!” Halie said offhandedly, making both Alex and Naomi laugh.

“Why did you guys come back here anyway?” asked Alex.

Naomi looked away nervously and remained silent for a few moments and then she responded, “Promise not to get mad at me?”

Alex looked at Naomi with a searching look and replied, “If you guys promise not to be mad at me then, I promise not to be mad at you.”

“Deal!” said Halie and they all shook hands on it.

Naomi took a deep breath and closing her eyes, she said, “While you were in the bathroom and while Halie was looking for her boyfriend… I read the letter from your mother. I knew you were Alexandra before I came back here… actually I came back hoping that you would tell us the truth.”

Alex looked at her friends, she should be mad at them for going through her mail. But to be honest, now that they knew her secret, it was like a load was taken off her chest. Alex smiled at her friends and they seemed to visibly relax.

Alex continued to remove her makeup when Halie chimed in, “Well, I guess it makes sense now.”

“What makes sense?” said Alex as she turned to face her friends.

“It makes sense why you hated James from the moment you got here and why he had to work like hell to get you to like him,” said Halie.

“Yeah I guess it does now… he had like four years of torment and newspaper clippings to make up for,” added Naomi.

Alex looked at her friends with a serious expression upon her face and taking a seat she said, “You guys, everything I told you about me was true… I never lied about anything other than my name.”

“We know,” Naomi responded with a caring look.

“Can you guys promise me something?” Alex asked looking up once more.

“Sure Alex, anything,” said Halie.

“Promise you won’t tell anybody my secret… I really like Hogwarts and having friends.”

The two girls took a moment to mock think and then, with a smile, Halie said, “Sure, but under one condition?”

Alex’s eyes grew worried and Halie continued, “You have to introduce me to your mother at the Potter’s Christmas party.”

Alex returned their smiles with a broad one of her own… maybe this wasn’t going to be as bad as it originally promised to be. She then held out a hand and said, “Deal!”

She shook both of their hands and continued to pack up. When she was done, Halie Weasley, Naomi Longbottom, and Alexandra Wood all exited the train and walked onto the deserted platform.

~


James looked once more down his shopping list; he had everything he needed for Christmas. He had presents for Lily, Albus, his mother, father, and his several dozen cousins, but he was attempting to ignore the last name on the list. He had only penciled it in this morning and he was unsure of why he had even done it in the first place. If she wouldn’t give him the time of day, why would she bother opening a Christmas gift from him?

James stuffed the list back into his pocket with a sigh and went in search of his father down the busy street of Diagon Alley. He passed Quality Quidditch Supplies, and unable to resist its call, he went to go look at the front display. In the front case, something caught his eye and he immediately thought of Alex. He was about to push it from his mind when he felt a hand on his back. James turned to see his father standing beside him looking in the case.

“I don’t know son, pink isn’t quite your color,” Harry remarked with a smirk.

“They wouldn’t be for me… but it doesn’t matter anyway.”

“Who are they for then?”

“No one dad…”James looked embarrassedly around, “just a girl.”

“A girl… a girl who would need that particular item?”

“Just drop it… I told you it doesn’t matter anyway,” James said looking more dejected.

Harry looked at his son with curiosity, “and why wouldn’t this said beautiful girl matter?”

James sighed and continued, “I really screwed things up with her… and sending her those would probably just ruin her holiday.”

“I’m sure you could find a way to make it up to her.”

James laughed sinisterly, “Yeah, somehow I doubt that.”

“Have I ever told you about your Grandpa and Grandma Potter?”
James groaned and closed his eyes, “Yes Dad, like 453 times in the past year alone!”

Harry chuckled and looked at his son, “Have I ever told about how they acted before they fell in love?”

James screwed up his face, “Eww… I don’t want to think about that!”

“She hated him; your Grandma Lily screamed and gave him detention at least once a day.” As Harry said this, James looked up into his father’s eyes, not fully comprehending what his father was getting at.

“I bet he never screwed up like I did,” replied James sullenly.

“He once set her dorm room on fire while trying to steal back a love note that he stuck in her school bag.”

“Oh,” was all that James could get out, “but she forgave him?”

“Barely… Grandpa James asked her out everyday for nearly four years and every time she said no. Now, I am not suggesting you take after his arson skills, but maybe you could be a bit more persistent.”

“You would most likely be picking up my body from the hospital wing,” added James in a sarcastic tone.

“She can’t be that mad…” said Harry.

“Dad, last time I was persistent she covered me in pudding in front of the entire hall.”

Harry began to laugh at the thought and James continued, “I assure you it wasn’t funny…”

“I don’t know, it sounds pretty funny. Are you sure you didn’t deserve it?”

This time James smiled, “Yeah I did… but that still doesn’t change anything.”

“So what did you do now?” asked Harry.

“You really don’t want to know,” said James bitterly.

“Well, I still think you should buy them if you think that she will like them… even if she doesn’t accept them, at least you tried.” added Harry firmly.

James did not respond so Harry continued, “What could it hurt?”
At that moment, James thought of several things that would hurt if he upset Alex again. Shrugging, he walked towards the entrance of the shop saying, “Fine… but she won’t even open it.”

~


Alex’s eyes snapped open; something had woken her up… but what?

“Alexandra… Alexandra!” Oh that was what woke her up.

Sighing, she rolled out of bed and put her hair into a ponytail, but it still sprung out in all directions. She gave up trying to make it stay straight and left the room to another chorus of, “Alexandra… Alexandra!”

Alex jumped down the last three stairs and came to rest outside the door to the kitchen, “What Mom?”

“Oh good you’re up.” Added Mrs. Wood as though she had not been screaming her daughter’s name for the last five minutes.

Alex grabbed a bowl from one of the cabinets and went to grab a box of cereal when she said, “Did you need something?”

“Oh yeah, I was going out to pick up some last minute Christmas gifts and I realized that you still need a dress for the Potters’ Christmas party.”

Alex stopped in the act of pouring some milk into her cereal bowl… the Potters’ Christmas party how could she have forgotten. Setting the milk down, Alex looked up and said, “Are you sure that I still…umm… have to go?”

Her mother fixed her with that familiar icy stare and frowning, Alex continued, “Fine! I’ll go get dressed.”

Abandoning her uneaten bowl of cereal, Alex jogged back up the stairs in the direction of her room. Nearly an hour later, Alex was trailing behind her mother as they entered “Maximum’s Gowns.”

“M-Mrs. Wood, what can we help you w-with today?” stammered a nervous assistant.

“We need to find a dress for Alexandra,” replied Mrs. Wood sweetly.

“Alexandra? She’s back from school I see!”

The assistant became suddenly animated and Alex was pushed forward into an empty dressing room stall. Quite suddenly, the small space began to fill with dresses, and within five minutes, she was in up to her knees in silk, satin, and polyester blend. Over the next hour, she slowly made her way through the increasingly extravagant gowns and cocktail dresses until there was only one remaining.

“Mom!” called Alex over the stall door.

“What Alexandra darling?”

“I only have one dress left.”

“So?” she called back, clearly distracted.

“It’s a green cocktail dress,” said Alex with a face of displeasure.

“So… try it on!”

Alex muttered under her breath, “Last time I wore this color green, you told me it made me looked peaky.”

A few minutes later, Alex emerged from the dressing room stall looking pleasantly surprised. Mrs. Wood’s mouth dropped slightly as she beheld her fifteen-year-old daughter, who could have easily passed as a twenty-year-old.

“That’s it! No need to try anything else; that there is the dress for the party!”

As Mrs. Wood went to pay, Alex said, “Mom, I am going to go over to Quality Quidditch Supplies. I’ll be right back.”

“Okay… don’t be gone to long.”

Alex headed out of the store and walked across the street, suddenly being followed by three different cameras. She slipped in between the crowd and entered the shop, unnoticed by anyone. She walked down an aisle of players’ equipment picking up a cute pair of keeper’s gloves as she went.

She turned on the spot to continue her look around the store when she ran into something very solid. Alex dropped the gloves and stumbled backwards into a display of beater’s helmets. They came cascading down upon her, one landing square on her head blocking the store from view. She felt someone pull her upright and she pushed the helmet upwards on her head.

Before her, stood the nervously smiling face of James Potter and she stammered, “J-James!”

“Well, if it isn’t, Alexandra Wood, how wonderful to see you,” he replied in that ridiculously flirty tone that she hated and hadn’t heard in months.

Alex rolled her eyes and walked past James saying, “I wish I could say the same, Potter.”

Alex pushed her way to the front of the store and was about to leave when someone yelled from behind, “Excuse me miss, are you going to pay for that?”

The shop owner was pointing at Alex’s head and confused, she placed a hand up towards her hair. Her hand came in contact with the beater’s helmet; she blushed scarlet and was suddenly illuminated by the flash of cameras.

“Alexandra!” called out James as he attempted to push through the crowd.

Another flash of a reporter’s camera illuminated her face and ripping off the helmet, she shoved a handful of galleons into the shop owner’s hands. With all her might, she shoved open the glass front door and walked onto the street. She was suddenly swarmed by at least a dozen reporters all yelling her name and pushing her around.

“Alexandra… Alexandra!” Alex spun on the spot and barely glimpsed her mother amidst the crowd.

Using all her strength, she pushed towards her mother and was finally able to break through. Her mother had just enough time to link arms when Alex felt that all too familiar jerk from behind her naval. When her eyes cleared once more, she was standing on her front walkway in front of her house and before her mother could yell, she ran through the large front door.

Alex threw the beater’s helmet that she still held in her hands down onto her nightstand and threw herself into bed.

“Aghh… How many days until I go back to SCHOOL?!”

A/N: So there it is… chapter twelve, what did you think? So some major discoveries were made and there is quite a bit to look forward to… let’s just say that the Christmas break isn’t over quite yet. Okay, okay enough torturous hints I will just give you a sneak preview:
Sneak Peak:

He figured that it was just the desperate blonde from before, and not bothering to get up, he said, “I told you that I wasn’t interested.”
By this point, Alex was standing at the foot of his bed and with a smile she responded, “You know I am starting to get worried. I have been at your house for nearly three hours and you have yet to hit on me.”
James flew upright in bed and fixed Alexandra with a surprised glance, he had not expected it to be her.




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Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen: The Power of Suggestion
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Chapter Thirteen:
The Power of Suggestion

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Alexandra was gazing out one of the living room windows, watching the snow fall gently onto the ground. In the background, she could hear her brother opening another Christmas present.

“Alexandra you open the next gift!” said Mrs. Wood as she passed Alex a long and skinny gift-wrapped box, “it’s from your father.”

Alexandra pulled the gift into her lap and began to pull away its thick paper to reveal something unexpected.

“Now before you argue Alexandra, that broom is a prototype that came into my office the other day… its called a Thunderbolt.”

“Dad it’s… it’s- it’s perfect!” she said with wide eyes as she beheld a silver broomstick with pink scroll work on the handle.

“If you noticed, they modeled it after the old Firebolt; but it has all the modern spells- wait, you like it?”

Alex launched forward and gave her dad a rib-cracking hug, “Thanks dad… my Firebolt was giving out anyway, plus it was time for a change.”

Alex carefully placed the broom back into the box and fondly set it aside as the rest of the family continued to open their gifts. All in all, she was satisfied with what she had gotten; a broomstick from her dad and a diamond choker from her mother (nice, but totally not her), earrings from her brother, the usual from her grandparents (clothes, books, etc.), and Halie and Naomi had bought her a book entitled, “10 steps to becoming a Professor.”

She snorted and set the book aside and turned her attention to her family. Her mother was speaking, “Okay, the Potters’ party starts at five so, we all have a couple of hours before we have to be ready.”

Alex ran up to her room to change out of her pajamas; she wanted to get a ride on her new broomstick before she had to get ready.

~


A few hours later Alex was putting ringlets into her hair using her wand when she heard a tapping on one of her bedroom windows. Extinguishing the heat charm on her wand, she set it down and walked toward the window in question. Amidst the billowing clouds of white snow, she barely made out the tiny messenger owl that was sitting on the window sill. Opening the window, Alex allowed the small bird to hop into the room and she detached a letter from its leg. Giving a feeble hoot, the owl hopped out of the room to, once more, face the elements. Closing the widow, Alex broke the seal on the letter and read:

Dear Alex,
Halie and I can’t wait to see you at the Christmas party at the Potters’; just writing to warn you that James came around my house this morning with Josh. He kept asking me about you…don’t worry I didn’t say anything. But Alex, maybe you should put the poor guy out of his misery and forgive him. I can tell he is really sorry and I know that doesn’t help you feel better, but this is your chance to be the bigger woman, something Cali Sapphire knows nothing about. Well anyway, it feels like forever since we last talked and I can’t wait to see you tonight.

Your friend forever,
Naomi Longbottom xoxo


Alex was in the middle of refolding the letter when her bedroom door flew open and Ace entered unannounced and threw himself upon her bed.

“What’s up little sister!” he said in bored tones.

“Did anyone teach you to knock?” said Alex annoyed.

“Nope, but I have a favor to ask of you.”

Looking worried, Alex said, “Oh really… I never would have guessed that.”

“That cute blonde you’re friends with at school, her name’s Naomi, I think…can you put in a good word for me?” he continued, ignoring her snide remark.

Alex frowned and said with a look of disgust, “Ewww, Ace! She is two years younger than you and she is my best friend!”

“So?”

“Sooo… she has a boyfriend you arse!”

“Since when has that mattered to Ace Wood?” he added causally.

Alex picked up her wand and spun it between her fingers menacingly, “Get out of my room Ace.”

He stood up from the bed and walked toward the door, “So you’ll do it then?”

“No I will not bloody well do it!”

Alex went to cast a spell to banish her brother from her room but before she could get the words out, he bolted from the room screaming, “Thanks for the help little sis!”

Sighing, Alex made to shut her door when her mother’s voice drifted up the stairs, “Alexandra… Alexandra!”

Alex frowned and headed down the stairs, “What mom?”

Mrs. Wood was situated in the family room where the Christmas tree sat decorated and surrounded by gifts.

“Hello dear, the dressmaker just brought by your fitted dress and your jewelry came about an hour ago,” she said as she handed her daughter the boxes and once again continued her work.

Alex headed back up to her room and set the boxes down on her dresser. She still had time before she needed to be ready for the party. Sighing, she threw herself into bed and reread Naomi’s note…forgive James Potter, was it even possible?

~


“Alexandra… Alexandra! How is school?!”

“Alexandra, where have you been for the last four months?”

“Alexandra how is the relationship with James Potter?”

“Is it true that your parents have had you on house arrest?”

“Alexandra how is your baby doing?”

Alex couldn’t ignore that one. She spun on the spot to face the squat middle-aged reporter; who was insinuating she was pregnant? Her dark curls cascading down her back, she clutched her pocketbook and posed for a picture.

“I am sorry, sir…what was that question?”

“Rumor has it Miss Wood that you were in Switzerland having the baby of James Potter!”

Alex laughed derisively and looked the man in the eye, “Honestly, I am only fifteen I am not or have I ever been pregnant.”

“Prove it!” he shouted back while taking another picture.

Alex flashed a brilliant smile and continued, “Look at this body,” she said as she popped out a hip, “Could a woman who just had a baby look this good? And anyway, last time I checked, it took nine months to have a baby not four!”

With a playful wink, she continued her way up the red carpet; a trail of camera flashes following as she did so. So far so good, just a few more feet and she would be home free and with no James in sight, she may actually make it.

Alex caught back up with her mother. “Nice save with that reporter,” said Mrs. Wood.

“Well, I learned from the best,” she said, smiling falsely.

“Well, keep up the good work. We can’t afford another embarrassment.” She said as they entered the vast entrance hall to, once again, be greeted by the Potters. Quite surprisingly, James was standing with the rest of his family but looked none too enthused.

She shook the hands of the family but was careful not to meet Lily’s eyes. Lily gave Alex a searching look; but shaking her head, dismissed the familiarity of the person before her. Alex came upon James last but he wasn’t even looking up to notice.

“Hello James,” began Alex stiffly.

He looked up at her and in slight shock, he took in her appearance. Stammering slightly, he said, “Alex…Alexandra, nice to see you.”

A smile cracked his lips but Alex could tell that it was only a half-hearted expression. She made to pass him, but paused a moment to say, “I guess I will see you inside the party.”

James watched her leave; now that was strange…Alexandra Wood being nice to him, never did he imagine that would happen.

~


James was standing in a circle of his “friends,” who were talking about one thing or another but he didn’t really care. He felt a hand run down his chest and he looked down to find a very attractive blonde girl staring back at him.

“Hey James,” she said in a seductive voice, “do you want to dance?”

James looked startled at first then, removing the girl’s hand, he said, “S-sorry I can’t.”

The girl looked highly affronted and, not caring, James turned on the spot. What was wrong with him? Parties and girls were his two favorite things in the entire world…so why wasn’t he having fun. Deciding that he would rather be alone, James walked out of the party and in the direction of his bedroom.

~


“Earth to Alex!” said Naomi snapping her fingers in front of Alex’s face.

But Alex wasn’t paying attention; she was too busy watching a blonde girl shamelessly throw herself at James, but why would that bug her…was she jealous?

“Alexandra!” said Halie, inches from Alex’s face.

Alex watched as James denied the girl his attention, turned, and then walked away, looking thoroughly depressed. Now she was intrigued; something was definitely wrong with him…but what?

“What do you think is wrong with him?” asked Alexandra.

“Who?” said Halie confused.

“James…”

“Why do you care?” responded Naomi curiously.

“He just totally ignored that hot blonde girl.”

“I still don’t know why you care,” added Naomi.

“I don’t…it’s just that parties and girls are his two favorite things and he looks so miserable.”

“So…”

“Why would he say no to the blonde?” It was obvious now that she didn’t realize she was having the conversation out loud.

“Maybe because someone is more important than her…maybe a different blonde…” As Halie’s voice faded off, Alex snapped to attention.

“What…NO!”

“And why is it so unbelievable that James actually cares about you?”

Completely ignoring Naomi, who was once again trying to get her attention, Alex walked past. She stealthily followed James down one hallway or another until she saw him silently enter a bedroom.

~


James didn’t bother to turn a light on he merely threw himself onto his bed and closed his eyes. He was only there a moment when he heard his bedroom door open and close as someone entered. He figured that it was just the desperate blonde from before, and not bothering to get up, he said, “I told you that I wasn’t interested.”

By this point, Alex was standing at the foot of his bed and with a smile, she responded, “You know I am starting to get worried. I have been at your house for nearly three hours and you have yet to hit on me.”

James flew upright in bed and fixed Alexandra with a surprised glance; he had not expected it to be her. Alex went to the door and flicked the light switch, quickly illuminating the whole room. James was still shocked into silence so Alex continued, “What’s her name?”

She began to walk around the room, taking in its many features. Quidditch posters were plastered to the walls, the closet was stuffed to the brim with beater’s equipment; it was exactly how she had imagined it, but it felt cozy (something she hadn’t expected).

“How did you know it was a girl?” he asked curiously, still wondering why she was in his room.

“Because you have been trying to get into my knickers for nearly five years and only one thing can stop that kind of crush.”

“Oh yeah…what?” he responded skeptically.

Alex fixed him with a stare, “Someone better.”

James smiled nervously and finally folded, “Fine...there is another girl.”

“I knew it! So…what’s her name?” she said with a little smile.

“Her name is Alex. You’d like her; she’s really straight forward.”

“You really like her?” she said choking back a laugh.

“Yeah…” he sounded skeptical.

“Okay, now say it so I believe it!”

“No, I really like her… but it’s different, you know what I mean?”

“No…” she responded shaking her head.

He smiled; it was the first genuine smile she had seen all night, “No, I suspect not…I don’t understand either.”

“So why isn’t she here with you tonight?”

“Because I’m an idiot and she pretty much hates me…why are you in here again?” he said, desperate to get the conversation back on his own terms.

“I couldn’t help but figure out why you were so miserable… so what exactly did you do to her?”

James didn’t know why he was telling her this stuff but he continued, “She finally started to like me back, then…I kissed another girl, who by the way, I don’t even like.”

Alex was standing by the bookshelf when she saw a small package sitting on one of its shelves; the name tag read, “Alex.”

“Was this for her?” said Alex holding up the gift.

“It was, but I couldn’t work up the courage to send it… it would be like asking for forgiveness and I am not quite sure that I deserve it.”

Alex gave James a searching look and tossed the gift to him. “You should send it to her. Maybe she wants to forgive you but just doesn’t know how to.”

James was silently sitting in the same spot when Alex walked to the door. Before she left, however, she turned and said, “You should come back out to the party. Your blonde friend is probably missing you.”

With that, she closed the door and walked back to Halie and Naomi, who were probably still wondering where she had gone.

~


Alex walked once more into the main hall to find Naomi standing against a wall talking with Ace. Naomi was blushing slightly and giggling at something that he had said. Even from feet away, Alex knew that her bother had the “good ol’ charm” on full blast. Marching over to where they stood, Alex fixed her brother with a stare and said, “Ace… Naomi.”

Before Naomi even had a chance to react, Alex grabbed her hand and pulled her in the opposite direction of her older brother.

“Alex…andra, what are you doing?”

“Trust me…I am doing you a favor!” said Alex, finally letting go of her hand when they were halfway across the room.

“He’s your brother…he can’t be that bad,” retorted Naomi.

“Yes, he is my brother, but trust me when I say you don’t want to get involved with him.”

At that point, Halie walked over, “Hey guys, what’s up?”

“Alex here was explaining to me why I can’t talk to her brother,” answered Naomi looking slightly upset.

“Ace Wood? He has been with like every famous witch his age and some that weren’t,” said Halie.

“And you have a boyfriend!” added Alex.

The group went silent as they looked at one another, then the look upon Naomi’s face lightened and she said, “Fine, I’ll steer clear of your brother.”

“Now that that is solved, do you mind telling us where you ran off to?”

Alex averted her eyes and responded, “Umm…nowhere important.”

“Alexandra…!” they said in unison.

“Fine, I was…talking to James,” she said very quickly, hoping that they wouldn’t hear her correctly.

The pair looked shocked and were about to respond to her pronouncement when they were interrupted by Mrs. Wood.

“Alexandra we are leaving. Say goodbye to your friends and come along.”

“Okay Mom,” Alex responded and turned to give Halie and Naomi one last hug, never before had she been so grateful for her mother’s rude interruptions.

As Alex walked quickly after her mother in the direction of the coat room, her brother and father joined the procession a few seconds later. In no time at all, she was standing in the vast entrance hall about to link arms to apparate with her father when a voice come echoing from behind her.

“Alexandra…wait a second!” said James jogging in the direction of where she stood.

Taking several steps forward, Alex was completely aware of the eyes of her family upon her back. Ignoring this strange feeling, she whispered, “What do you want Potter?”

Finally coming to a stand still, he responded, “I just wanted to thank you for your advice…I sent her the gift, better late than never I suppose.”

Alex did not respond she merely stared at him with an appraising look and he continued, “So…thanks for the advice.”

He looked at her awkwardly and Alex responded loudly so her family could hear, “DON’T LET IT GO TO YOUR HEAD POTTER!”

James stared at her open-mouthed, but as Alex turned to return to her family, she gave him a playful wink. A smile cracked his lips…girls were so confusing!

~


When her feet were once more firmly planted on the ground outside her yard, Alex raced into the house before her family could stop her. Closing her bedroom door with a snap she began to frantically pull boxes fro,m beneath her bed. In the very last one sat the beater’s helmet…“Oh god,” thought Alex, “What am I doing?” Sitting on her bed, she twisted the helmet between the palms of her hands. to send it or not to send it… but more importantly did this mean that she forgave him?

Sighing, Alex pulled spare wrapping paper from her night stand. After she had managed to wrap its awkward shape, she stood and left her room. The light was on in her father’s study so she knocked before she stuck her head inside. “Dad can I borrow your owl to send someone a Christmas present?”

“Sure sweetie,” said her father, not even looking up from the evening Prophet. Alex took the enormous eagle owl from its perch and walked back to her bedroom. Taking extra care to attach the package securely, she made to send the gift, all reservations forgotten. Walking to her desk, she quickly scrawled a note on a spare piece of parchment. Panic rose in her throat as she watched the owl fly from her bedroom…well it was too late to do anything about it now.

Taking off her heels, she changed into her pajamas and sat on her window seat preparing to wait all night. Her alarm clock read twelve, mid-night. Sighing, her head dropped to her chest and she fell asleep still sitting upright.

~


Alex shot upright completely disoriented as she tumbled off the window seat and landed hard on her floor. Pulling herself up, she glanced over at her alarm clock which read, four-thirty. Standing, she went to see what precisely had woken her up. Staring at her from the other side of the window, was a snowy owl with a small but familiar package clamped in its beak.

Alex opened the window and allowed the bird to fly into her room. It dropped the package and a letter on her bed and once again flew out the window. With caution, she approached the gift as though it were a ticking bomb. Settling down by where it sat on her bed, she brought it closer to her. Peeling the letter from the top, she read:

Because girls can play quidditch too. - James


Smiling, Alex began to pull away the festive holiday paper to find a long and slender white box. As she opened the box, a pair of pink and white keeper’s gloves tipped into her lap; the very same ones she had planned to buy herself the next time she was in Diagon Alley…wow that’s weird.

Setting the gloves on her night stand, she turned off the light and settled herself between the covers. As she drifted off to sleep, a smile played across her face.

~


James tossed and turned for what felt like the hundredth time. After sending the gift, he just couldn’t manage to fall asleep. Giving up, he merely lay on top of his covers, staring at the ceiling. He was finally getting drowsy when something tapped against his window, probably just the wind. He laid there another moment when the tapping noise once again came from his window, Who would be sending him mail at this time of night!

Sighing, he got out of bed and crossed his bedroom. Opening the window, he allowed a huge eagle owl to fly into his bedroom. He bent over the owl trying to remove the large package from its grip. After a few moments of struggle, the package was free and the owl swooped from the room.

Balancing the haphazardly wrapped gift in his hands, he took a seat on his bed and began to pull away the thick brown paper. When the paper had been removed, a brand new shiny beater’s helmet sat in his lap. Open-mouthed he slit open the letter that had come with it. Taking in the short letter, he read:

To protect that ego of yours while you’re on the Quidditch field. –Alex


Elated, James set the helmet on his nightstand and got back into his bed, a smile playing across his face. Well, it seemed that Alex had finally forgiven him. Maybe this break wasn’t going to be as bad as it had originally promised to be.

~


Alex was sitting in the kitchen engrossed in a thick musty smelling book.

“How can you read those things?” said Ace indignantly as he walked into the room and opened up the fridge.

“Sorry if I don’t find reading about myself in the tabloids fun…” she replied snidely.

“Yeah that’s because it’s all negative press…” he defended.

“At least I can read.”

“At least I can make the tabloids without being sent away-”

“That’s enough Ace… stop picking on your sister,” said Mr. Wood as he entered the kitchen clutching a large pile of mail.

As he settled down to his breakfast, he looked up at Alex, “Do you have any plans today?”

“Just a good book,” she said with a pointed glare at Ace, “Why do you ask?”

“Would you like to come to practice with me today?” he said, not looking up; but then continued, “You would have to stay out of the way, but it would give you a chance to really use that new broom of yours.”

Alexandra set down her book and responded, “Why are you really asking me to go?”

He finally looked up to meet her eyes, “Why? Do I have to have an ulterior motive…”

“Yes…” she responded coldly.

“Fine; I invited all the Potter kids to come sit in on practice. Since your brother doesn’t play well with others, I hoped you would give me a hand.”

She responded with a silent glare so he continued, “Please Alexandra…I really need your help?”

“Fine!” She said and hopping off her chair, she ran upstairs to her room.

Twenty minutes later, she was preparing to leave with her broom over her shoulder and a book under her arm. Then, she linked arms with her father and he apparated them to the pitch. Some of the players were already on the field and as she chose a seat in the vast stadium, she watched her father jog out onto the pitch. Several minutes passed when the sound of her father’s whistle broke her from her attentive reading. She looked up to see her father pointing three shorter figures in her direction. Alexandra braced herself…this was going to be very interesting.

In no time at all, the unmistakable figure of James was coming closer and he was smiling noticeably.

“So she liked the gift?” asked Alexandra knowledgeably.

“How did you guess?” he responded slightly put off.

“You’re smiling.”

“So?”

“Un-forgiven people don’t smile that much…”

“Well, I bow before your ability to read people,” he said with a mock bow.

“Does this mean that you will stop trying to attack me in front of the paparazzi?”

“That’s a…very likely possibility,” he said with a smirk.

Alex leaned across him and faced Lily and Albus, “Hey Lily, Al; how are you?”

“Good!” they responded in unison and then looked away, preoccupied by the practice.

James took the seat next to her own and said, “So what are you flyin’ these days Wood?” he indicated her broom case.

“Thunderbolt.”

He looked stunned, “What color?”

She pushed the case towards him… “Pink”.

James pulled out the broom and ogling, he continued, “I begged my parents to get me one…they said no.”

Alexandra laughed and settled in her seat to watch the practice. Then she felt someone staring at her. Turning her head, she expected it to be James, but instead, she came face to face with Lily. Lily stared at her through narrowed eyes… like she was trying to figure something complicated out.

Oh crap!

“Hey who wants a tour of the stadium?” said Alex enthusiastically, turning her back away from the group.

A/N: Was that a cliffy…I don’t think so (I may be wrong!). Hey everyone… so what did you think? The next chapter vexes me... no really, I thought for days whether or not it was really how I wanted the story to go. But in the end it is just too much good writing to pass up. So without further ado, here is a sneak peak.

Sneak peak:
James froze with stunned excitement as he noticed Alex’s face drawing closer to his. But he was up for more disappointment when she merely whispered in his ear, “Two can play these games Potter.”

With a wicked smile, she freed herself from his grasp and left a confused James in his compartment.









Please Review! It makes my day!


Chapter 14: The Subtly (or lack there of) of Albus Potter
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Chapter Fourteen:
The Subtly (or lack there of) of Albus Potter

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Part One:


Alex looked up from her book as a shrill scream ran past the closed compartment door. There was a sudden rush of footsteps as more people ran past and curious, she stood and stuck her head out of the compartment. As the hall once more grew quiet, she turned and looked in the other direction.

The moment was here; the moment she had dreaded since the eagle owl had left her bedroom. The pink highlights once more in her hair, Alex watched James running towards her from down the train’s narrow hallway. Trying not to look too obvious, she ducked once more into the cabin. Maybe he would just go by, or maybe he was too afraid to talk to her…then again, this was James Potter.

She hid her face behind a book, which was upside down, and avoided the strange looks from her friends. The seconds ticked by, each taking longer than the one before when suddenly, the silence was broken, “Well good morning ladies!”

Halie and Naomi chimed together, “Hello James!”

Alex cringed and slid lower in her seat as James continued, “Well, I just wanted to say hi, but now I have to go find Albus… apparently, Charlie saw him being chased down the train by the Malfoy kid…again.”

James turned and left the compartment. Alex stared at the place in the door where he had just disappeared; open-mouthed, she wondered what the hell had just happened.

“Alex, are you okay?” asked Naomi.

“I…um...no…I mean yes…wait, no…erg…WHAT WAS THAT?!”

“Umm…what was what?” said Halie confused.

“James!” she pounded her fists on the train seat, “I mean…he ignored me!”

“Isn’t that all you wanted for the last four months?” said Naomi over her copy of the Quibbler.

“Yeah, I know, but I didn’t actually think it would happen,” said Alex as she looked out the train window to the snowy countryside.

Naomi’s hands fell to her lap and Halie looked up from her journal that she had been scribbling in. Their looks were filled with understanding as Halie spoke, “It sounds like somebody is a little…I don’t know…upset.”

“I am not upset!” said Alex looking cross.

“Sure…whatever you say,” Halie and Naomi said in unison as they returned to what they were working on.

Folding her arms across her chest, Alex resumed her glaring out of the train window. She did not mind that James wasn’t interested in her anymore. To be honest, it was a relief not to be continuously pestered by him…honestly, she had never been so happy…yeah. For almost an hour, she watched snowflakes drift lazily past her window then there was a knock on the door and a kind voice cried, “Lunch trolley!”

With growling stomachs, all three girls stood and began to buy something to snack on. With their hunger now satisfied, the girls began to talk.

“So Alex what did your parents get you for Christmas?” asked Naomi.

“My mom got me this diamond necklace thing and my Dad got me a broomstick,” answered Alex.

Just to prove how different they really were, Naomi replied, “A broomstick!” and Halie replied, “Diamonds!”

Laughing, Alex pulled out her trunk and began to shuffle the contents around. As she went to pull out her gifts, Naomi closed the cabin door. Alex handed Halie the jewelry box and then pulled out the broomstick from its protective case.

Naomi was about to exclaim with excitement over the fantastic broomstick when a shrill scream once more filled the hall and something very solid slammed into the compartment door, making the glass shatter as it burst open. Halie and Naomi screamed and backed away as Alex lunged forward to help the young boy who fell into the compartment. He couldn’t be more than a fourth year and as he lifted his slightly bleeding head, Alex realized it was Albus Potter.

He, however, was too distracted to notice who she was, as he goggled, open-mouthed, at the broom that was thrown haphazardly on the seat.

“That…that’s a Thunder…” but he was interrupted by James who now came skidding into the compartment.

“Albus! What could you possibly be thinking about…! Oh my god, that’s a THUNDERBOLT!” James finished, completely distracted.

“Whose is it?!” said Albus as his index finger lingered closer to the broom’s varnished surface.

Alex rolled her eyes and began to repair the door that Albus had left in shatters.

“Naomi, is this yours?” asked James as he rotated the broom in his hands.

As the glass pane flew once more into the door, Naomi responded, “No, Alex got it for Christmas…” but she trailed away realizing her mistake.

“Alex’s…” he looked up at her confused, “You never said your parents had connections with the quidditch world?”

She froze to the spot where she sat on the floor…crap, that’s why you shouldn’t lie…because it always comes to bite you in the arse.

“Umm…A client of my dad knows a man, whose son, has a cousin who is a player for a team in Bulgaria and she was able to get one, you know…before they were out on the market…” she finished, hoping he was thoroughly confused.

“Oh…” said James, puzzled, “What?”

“Never mind… it was a friend of a friend of a friend thing,” answered Alex.

At that moment, James realized that he was talking to Alex and that wasn’t a part of the plan. Stumbling over his words, James continued, “Umm, Halie, can you keep an eye on Albus for…”

“I don’t need to be watched!” shouted Albus standing on his feet.

“Oh right, I leave you alone for five minutes and you manage to de-feather Malfoy’s owl and start a war with the Slytherin fourth-years…”

Albus opened his mouth and closed it, then opened it again but this time, he sat down with his arms crossed.

Taking advantage of the silence, James continued, “Halie, Naomi, do you mind keeping him out of the way of the Slytherins while I go sort this out?”

“Sure, James, whatever you need,” responded Halie distracted once more with her journal.

Again, James turned on his heel and left the compartment as though Alex were not even there. Trying not to dwell on the cold silence that left the room with him, Alex turned to face Albus.

“Come here Albus and I’ll clean you up,” said Alex.

No longer bleeding, Albus sat in the unoccupied seat and began to flip through one of Alex’s old quidditch magazines. She stared once more out the window when her thoughts were interrupted.

“You know…I know someone who got that same exact broom for Christmas,” said Albus randomly, peering intently at Alex.

Alex laughed nervously, “Yeah… that’s odd.”

“What did you say your name was again?” said Albus as he threw the magazine aside.

“Albus…don’t be rude!” chided Halie, not looking up.

“No, it’s okay; my name is Alex Cunnings?”

“You look really familiar, Alex. Have I met you before?”

Alex swallowed slightly and Halie and Naomi both looked up from what they were doing. “Umm…I don’t think so. I am new at school.”

“So then why does your name sound so familiar…?”

“Umm…” said Alex sweating slightly.

“Wait I know!” Albus interrupted, “You’re that Alex girl James moons over whenever he comes home. Wow, you are just as pretty as he says.”

Alex rolled her eyes; another Potter with a thing for her…what else could she ask for? But Albus chose that moment to continue, “Yeah, my mom told him that if he ignores you, you will probably be a bit keener to like him…”

A few things began to click in Alex’s head and she looked across at Halie and Naomi, who both wore knowing looks. But apparently, Albus wasn’t done yet, “I suspect, however, that you are too clever to fall for that…you of all people will probably see right through it.”

He had finally finished and with a final nod he picked up the magazine and continued to read.

“I…I think that I am going to go use the bathroom,” said Alex and she stood to leave.

“But who is going to watch him?” asked Halie.

Albus stood and shouted, “I’m not four you know!”

“Yeah Halie…he’s not four you know!” said Alex with a laugh.

“Whatever,” said Halie as she returned to her writing.

Albus sped from the compartment as Alex followed close behind in the direction of the bathroom.

~


Alex rested her hands on either side of the sink and took a deep breath as she went over every event that had occurred over the past four months. She was sorted into Gryffindor…became a keeper on the quidditch team…was forced into tutoring James…went to the masquerade ball where she had ended up dancing with James…helped James pass his Transfiguration exam…snuck out of school with James…was caught in a broom closet with James…caught James kissing another girl…was found out by her two best friends …received a very thoughtful gift from James…decided to forgive him in hopes that a friendship was still possible…and now, he was ignoring her but not because he was mad at her but because he thought it would make her more interested in him.

Alex’s head gave a nasty throb and she splashed some cool water onto her face. So there were only two questions that remained; now knowing James’s intended plan to woo her, how was she going to handle this AND was there a possibility that she actually wanted to fall for him…again.

Alex shook her head to physically banish the thoughts from her mind…of course she didn’t want to fall for James, she had learned her lesson the last time…hadn’t she?

Suddenly, the unbidden thoughts of her mother floated before her mind, “Alexandra honey…boys like James Potter just like the chase, if you give him what he wants, he will turn tail and run.”

The only differences from that situation to the present was that, Alex was now almost sixteen not thirteen, she was now Alex not the famous Alexandra, and of course, the obvious difference that Alex wasn’t just a conquest for James…he actually like liked her.

All questions still unanswered, she retreated from her bathroom hide out and headed back in the direction of her compartment. She was almost there when the shrill, excited scream once more met her ears. She turned to find Albus, mouth opened wide, running top speed down the hall. She had no time to react and was consequently thrown sideways into a closed compartment door. She didn’t dare move from the awkward and unbalanced position as a dozen or so boys rushed passed her.

~


James was silently sitting in his compartment with Josh and Charlie contemplating his next plan of action for Alex; it was a little something he liked to call “operation jealousy.” Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by the shrill scream that he knew belonged to his younger brother. Giving a weary look to his friends, he realized that Halie must have let Albus leave her compartment, which meant that he was most likely in trouble…again.

He had just gotten to his feet when the shrill scream had reached its maximum and he heard something solid slam against to compartment door. He waited until the scream faded away completely before he decided to open the door.

~


The last of the boys had passed and Alex was about to steady herself when her only means of support gave way. James, who had not been looking forward when he opened the door, was suddenly overtaken by the falling stranger. There was a tangle of limbs and Alex opened her eyes to realize she had, of all people, landed on James Potter. He wore the familiar goofy look upon his face and Alex rolled her eyes in response.

“I knew you couldn’t resist me, Cunnings,” he said.

“In your dreams, Potter!” said Alex as she made to stand but was prevented from doing so by James.

James froze with stunned excitement as he noticed Alex’s face drawing closer to his. But he was up for more disappointment when she merely whispered in his ear, “Two can play these games Potter.”

With a wicked smile, she freed herself from his grasp and left a confused James in his compartment. Alex still had no idea how she felt about anything that had happened between her and James, but she now had a plan of action. If James was going to play games that he hoped would win her back, she was going to fight it every step of the way.

Halie and Naomi heard the compartment door slide open and looked up to see Alex enter. Confused, they took in her complete change in demeanor.

“Alex, is everything okay?” asked a worried and confused Halie.

“You guys…I need your help.” replied Alex simply.

Halie and Naomi exchanged worried glances. Naomi was the first to respond, “Help with what precisely?”

The wicked grin found its way onto Alex’s face once more and she responded, “help to drive James Potter completely insane.”











Part Two:


“Do you realize we only have eighteen weeks until the O.W.L.’s?!” added Alex frantically as she shuffled through endless piles of notes.

“Oh my gosh, Naomi! It’s Alex…the old Alex…the quiet nerd who came to Hogwarts to learn,” said Halie as both girls began to laugh.

“You guys…shut up! Do you even realize how far behind we are…? If I hadn’t been distracted by all that James stuff, I wouldn’t be so behind.”

“Speaking of James…” said Naomi.

“Oh and look who he’s with.”

Alex spun in her chair to see James enter the Library hand in hand with Ella Zabini. Groaning, she turned back in her seat, “If it wasn’t so obvious what he is trying to do…I might actually be upset.”

“What is he doing that is so obvious?” asked Halie.

James chose that moment to sit at the table beside Alex. She cringed as the sound of Ella’s scraping chair met her ears. “I can’t take this…he is just using her to get to me,” with that she gathered her stuff and left the library.

Alex was halfway up the corridor when Halie and Naomi caught up. “Alex! Are you telling me that you think James is dating Ella Zabini, one of the most popular Slytherin girls; to…what make you jealous!” asked Naomi.

“You heard Albus on the train…this isn’t all in my imagination,” said Alex, throwing her hands in the air.

“Are you sure your not just-you know…jealous?” Halie trailed away at the furious stares that both Alex and Naomi were giving her.

“Look guys…I have known James for almost my entire life…this is something he would so do!” stated Alex plainly.

“Yeah but as Alexandra Wood not Alex Cunnings!” said Halie.

“Shhh! Halie…do you want everyone to know!” hissed Alex, “God! He is driving me insane…if I didn’t see him everywhere before; I do now!”

“Well then do something about it!” said Naomi.

“Like what?!” asked Alex.

“You said it before…you wanted our help to drive James insane,” added Naomi.

“Yeah, you should do the same thing that he is doing to you!” said Halie jumping up and down with excitement.

“Are you guys telling me to make James jealous” said Alex and much to her displeasure, Halie and Naomi nodded vigorously.

By this point, the girls had reached the Great Hall for lunch. As they took seats, Alex asked the question that she knew she would regret later on, “Soo…who would James hate enough to get that jealous…I mean Lyle is out of the question.”

Halie and Naomi gave each other a knowing look and turned once more to face Alex, in unison, they said, “Chase Masters.”

“Who?” asked Alex completely confused.

“Chase Masters, captain of the Slytherin quidditch team, one of the smartest guys in our year…and he dated James’s cousin Rose for a few months last year; drove James insane,” said Naomi.

“And… Chase and little Ms. Ella have a history, too…so she won’t want to be anywhere near you when Chase is around; so it makes it all the better,” added Halie.

“So how are you going to introduce yourself to Chase?” asked Naomi.

Alex took a second to think and putting down her fork, she said, “Honestly,” she added plainly, “If James hates Chase this much, chances are Chase will be more than willing to get back at him.”

“Good-bye old Alex…Hello fun rule-breaking Alex…oh how I missed you!”

“Oh, don’t think this gets you out of studying…we can drive James insane and study for the O.W.L.’s at the same time.”

~


Alex was tucked in a corner near the entrance hall, silently waiting for the Slytherins to return from their quidditch practice. The oak doors suddenly opened and a crowd of dirt-smudged and tired Slytherins traipsed across the hall.

This was her chance; Chase was taking up the rear. Alex ran across the hall grabbed him by the lapels of his quidditch uniform and pushed him into a broom closet on the other side. Alex closed the door with a snap and lit her wand. Chase was staring at her with a look of stunned disbelief.

“Sorry…I don’t think I know you.” he stammered.

“My name is Alex and I have a proposition for you,” she said with a wicked smile.

“Umm…okay, what is it?” he said uncertainly.

“How much would you like to get back at James Potter?”

“Well, it’s not a priority or anything…but torturing Potter is always a plus.”

“So you’re in?”

“Sure, what can I help with…?” he said with a slight smile.

~


James was sitting in the courtyard during break; he was freezing but it was the only place that Ella would not follow him these days. It had been nearly four weeks since he had retuned from Christmas break and had made little to no progress with his “Alex” problem. Actually, his progress was set back even further now that she was hanging out with stupid, Chase Masters. He was now reduced to pondering what his next move would be in the freezing courtyard… attempting to avoid his “girlfriend.”

A cheerful laugh broke him from his dazed state and he turned to see none other than Alex and Chase entering the courtyard.

Alex saw James from the corner of her eye and she smiled inwardly…this was going to be fun. They walked hand and hand across the frozen courtyard and were about to once more enter the castle when James interrupted, “Hey you two wait up!”

“Oh hey James, I didn’t see you there,” Okay, now she was just being cruel.

The look of sad anger only lingered on his face momentarily when he spoke again, “Oh I just wanted to tell you that Lyle was fired as Gryffindor quidditch captain.”

“What…Why?” said Alex aghast.

“Got in trouble for something and McGonagall replaced him.”

“Replaced him with who?” she asked dreading the answer.

“Me…just until the end of the year.”

Alex smiled falsely and responded, “James that’s fantastic…you’ll do a great job!”

“Well, I am glad that you think so, because I am scheduling the first quidditch practice this Saturday at nine…it’ll be an all day practice.”

“What are you talking about James? This Saturday is the next trip to Hogsmeade; everyone already has plans.”

“Oh, so your plans are more important than the quidditch team?” he said knowing very well what kind of predicament he was forcing her into.

The red began to grow in Alex’s cheeks when she was rescued by Chase. He smiled cleverly and she couldn’t help but notice that he was indeed rather good-looking.

“James, I am sure that something can be worked out…I mean you’re dating Ella aren’t you?”

“Sure, but what does that have to do with quidditch practice?” he said, not bothering to hide the bitterness from his voice.

“Why don’t you postpone the quidditch practice until the afternoon and we can go on a double date; you, Ella, Alex and myself…surely one practice can be put off for a few hours.”

She had to admit he was clever too. She took that moment to comment, “Yeah James I haven’t seen Ella in awhile…everything okay with her?”

James looked as though he were going through a great internal struggle; convince Alex that he was really dating Ella or spend the afternoon with one of the two people on this earth he couldn’t stand. Finally, he broke and said, “Sure, why not…Ella and I would be thrilled to.”

With that, he turned on his heel and sped from the courtyard like he was being chased from it. Alex still stood there with Chase; and when she was sure James was out of ear shot, “You are enjoying this far too much.”

“Oh can you blame me…the look he gets every time he sees us is-is-”

“Priceless?” added Alex in an attempt to finish his sentence.

“Yeah…definitely, priceless.”

They broke into quiet laughter when Alex shivered violently from the cold, “G-good Merlin, it’s freezing out here!”

“Here, come closer…” he said and with strong arms, he pulled her into his grasp.

As Alex was enveloped by his warmth, something strange happened at the pit of her stomach. She smiled nervously as she looked up into his vivid blue eyes.

“Come on…let’s get you inside,” he said as he led her in the direction of the castle.

As they went to pass the entrance to the Great Hall, they found James and Ella in a full out argument. But when Ella caught a glimpse of Alex out of the corner of her eye, she plastered a false smile across her face and gave a friendly wave. She felt Chase lean towards her and he whispered, “She’s not at all happy!”

A shiver went up her spine and smiling, she responded, “Tell me about it!”

~


“Hello love!” greeted Chase as she neared where he stood in the great hall with James and a sulking Ella.

“Hello,” she said as she was once more enveloped by one of his hugs.

James squirmed uncomfortably and said, “Come on…we haven’t got all day.”

As the four walked quietly in the direction of the village, Ella maintained her stony silence, while James shot nasty looks at Alex who held tightly onto Chase’s hand. They wandered around the village for awhile and then made their way into the Three Broomsticks to warm up. As they settled in their seats, Ella chose to speak for the first time, “So isn’t the next quidditch match Gryffindor vs. Slytherin?”

Alex gave Chase a weary look and replied, “I think we are all rather excited for the first game of the New Year.”

“It’s a pity really that you have practice this afternoon…we won’t be able to spend more time together.”

An awkward silence fell among the group as they all sipped on their drinks. After a few more moments, James spoke, “so tell us how you two met.”

Alex shot a nervous look in Chase’s direction and that clever smirk once more crossed his face, “Well, it’s a funny story really, see, one night I was on my way back to my common room after a quidditch practice, when this girl comes barreling up the hall. She has her nose stuck in a book, reading, and before I could do anything about it, she had flattened me to the floor and there was a lump on my head where her book had hit me.”

“Then, I realized that she was reading Quidditch through the Ages and I knew that she was the one for me.”

“That’s so sweet…” chimed Ella falsely.

“Ella, why don’t you tell us how you and James met?” asked Alex as she quickly took a sip of Butterbeer to hide her smirk.

Beneath the table, Chase gave her knee a friendly squeeze and gave her a look that said, “I can’t wait to hear this.” Alex slipped her hand beneath the table and reached out for his. He accepted it warmly and began to stoke it gently with his thumb. Then it hit Alex…this thing with Chase was an arrangement to drive James insane. Holding hands and hugging was defiantly not a part of the deal…so why were they doing it?

Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by Ella who chose that moment to respond, “I have known James forever…I was at his parents’ Christmas Party this year and things just clicked.”

Alex smirked to herself as she remembered the desperate blonde at the Christmas Party…she hadn’t known Ella then, but now she could see the similarities. The rest of the morning went by rather uncomfortably until it was a little after twelve and James offered to refresh everyone’s drinks. As he and Ella stood and walked in the direction of the bar, Chase turned in his seat to face Alex.

“Oh, she is going to kill him when this is over…” he said off-handedly.

“I suspect so,” snorted Alex.

“Do you see the way he keeps looking at me?”

Alex laughed and answered, “He looks like he is about to lunge across the table at you…and we can’t have that, can we?”

“Oh and why can’t we have that?” he asked with a smirk.

“We can’t ruin your pretty face now, can we?” she said sarcastically, while pretending to slap him across the face.

He caught her hand mid-air and replied smoothly, “So you think my face is pretty, do you?”

Alex realized in that moment that he was no longer joking. The conversation had turned from playful banter into a real conversation. The red began to creep into Alex’s cheeks and she responded, “Well…you’re not that-”

Her words, however, were cut short as Chase leaned forward and kissed her firmly on the lips. Alex resisted her first impulse to pull away only by freezing where she sat. He pulled away slowly and looked into her eyes. She didn’t flinch; she merely looked into his face, was this just another act to drive James insane or did he actually like her. Something stirred at the pit of her own stomach when suddenly, the sound of breaking glass met her ears.

Alex pulled herself from Chase’s grasp and whipped around to see James clutching at the broken shards of a butterbeer bottle, the amber liquid lingering with the blood that now dripped down his fingers. She had no idea how long he had been standing there.

“James…I-I-”

James threw the other butterbeer he was clutching and it smashed against the ground. With an angry glare, he turned on his heel and sped from the bar, leaving an equally angry Ella in his wake.

Alex sat dumbstruck in her chair, a million things running through her mind at once. Chase had kissed her…but was it all a part of the act to make James jealous? Well, only thing was for sure, she was successful in making James jealous…but at what cost?

As her attention once more grew on her surroundings, she realized that Chase was still sitting across from her merely waiting for her reaction. Then the words finally came out, “What the BLOODY HELL was that?”

“You’re going to tell me that you didn’t like it?” he said with that attractive smirk.

Alex couldn’t help but let a slight smile slide across her face as she replied, “Well, it was perfectly lovely but don’t you think it was a bit much just to make James jealous?”

“Well I wasn’t doing it just to make stupid Potter jealous…” he replied, losing some of his cool confidence.

“What?” asked Alex, completely confused.

“Alex, I didn’t do any of this to mess with Potter; I did it because I like you…” he trailed away at her confused and bewildered look and then continued, “Can you blame me? You are the best keeper the school has ever seen, you’re one of the top students, and you’re not that hard on the eyes either.”

Her mind was working fast trying to determine exactly what was going on, while simultaneously, resisting the desire to run after James…

Why was she working so hard to drive James insane? Well, it was simple; really, she was doing it to him because he was doing the same to her. But why did James dating Ella drive her so insane? Could it be because…no, never! But regardless of how she felt for James, here was Chase Masters, cute, smart, athletic…but still there was something missing.

“Umm…Alex?” he said, the look of concern growing more pronounced on his face.

Alex was starting to get dizzy…when had this all become so complicated? All these questions danced around her mind until suddenly the sounds of a chiming clock met her ears; it was one o’clock…

“Crap! I have quidditch practice in twenty minutes!” and without even looking back at Chase, she ran from the bar.

A/N: So this, I believe, was the longest chapter to date…and it was action-packed if I do say so myself… If you haven’t caught on yet, this is really the turning point of the story. The next chapter is even more exciting… and I won’t even tell you what happens in the chapter after next, which hasn’t been written, but let’s just say you will all be in transports of delight when it is over! Okay, okay enough evil hints… here is a sneak peak for your trouble.

Sneak Peak:
The truth was, of all the people in her life, James may be one of the only people who would understand who she really was. What it was like to be famous for events that occurred before she was even born; famous for things that she couldn’t even begin to understand. He and he alone, in all of Hogwarts, would understand what it was like to be judged before someone had even met you.









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Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen: Dangerous Games
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Chapter Fifteen:
Dangerous Games

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“Cunnings, you’re late!” hollered James ten minutes after practice had begun.

“Sorry, won’t happen again,” puffed Alex who had just sprinted from the castle.

James gave her a very telling glare and continued, “Okay, our next game is against Slytherin and it will be in about a month. Gryffindor has won the Quidditch cup the last six years and I’ll be damned if I let some Slytherins take it from us-”

He was cut off by the team who cheered excitedly in agreement. When they had quieted down a bit, James continued, “So, in order to be prepared, we will be having practice every night until the game.”

This statement was met by a collective groan as Charlie spoke up, “James what about the O.W.L’s…”

“Anyone who thinks that exams are more important than the Quidditch cup can just leave the pitch now.”

James was now receiving nasty looks from the entire team but was completely oblivious so he continued on, “Because we have lost our two seventh year players, we will be holding tryouts this Monday for the chaser and seeker positions.”

Alex would have liked to say that practice improved from that point on, but that would have been a complete lie. She was the recipient of constant criticism and snide remarks from James. Around dinnertime, Alex was exhausted, filthy, and starving. James was busy screaming at Lily, who in her tired state, had dropped the quaffle. Even from where she floated in front of the goal posts, Alex could see that Lily was being reduced to tears by her older brother. This was ridiculous; James was clearly mad at her so why was he taking it out on everyone else?

Alex kicked her broom into action and flew so that she was level with Lily, “James, what the bloody hell is your problem?”

“Cunnings, I don’t remember telling you to leave your goals!”

“Give it a rest Potter; we are all tired and exhausted…what did you honestly expect our first practice back?”

“So you think just because it is the first practice for awhile it’s an excuse for substandard playing?”

“Her playing isn’t substandard…she was doing fine before, it’s just getting late!” said Alex, now completely annoyed. Why was he acting like such a git?!

“Well if she can’t keep up with the team maybe we should find someone who can?” Even after the words had left his lips, James knew that he had gone too far.

Lily, who had been steadily crying through the entire argument, suddenly let out an anguished cry and flew top speed from the pitch.

“James Potter you are an insensitive PIG!” screamed Alex and then she whipped her broom around and sped after Lily.

She was just about to leave the stadium when she heard James scream out behind her, “If you leave this pitch Cunnings, you’re off the team too!”

Alex froze in mid-air; and then, turning her broom so that she was once more facing James, she made a very rude hand gesture that her mother would have fainted at before whipping back around to once more chase after Lily.

~


“I am such a prat…I am a stupid pig-headed IDIOT!” yelled James in frustrated tones as he paced back in forth in his dorm room.

Charlie was sitting on his bed with a magazine open in his lap, “Yes James, you are an idiot!”

“You’re not supposed to agree with me…you’re supposed to be my friend!” said James off-handedly.

“Dude, you made your sister cry…then kicked her off the team…and then kicked Alex off for going after Lily; YOU ARE AN IDIOT!” he said throwing aside his magazine.

“I KNOW I AM…arghh…she just made me so MAD!” James said running his hands through his hair.

“WHO, Lily or Alex?” Charlie asked pointedly.

“Alex and-HER-STUPID-BOY-FRIEND!” James shouted punctuating each syllable with a punch to the wall.



“James, man, the only reason you are mad at her is because she started to play the game you’ve been playing for a month and she did it better.”

“I just thought making her a little jealous would…I don’t know…make her see what she really wanted.”

“And she flipped it right back onto you…and now, she knows just how much you do want her.”

“Aghhhh! How do I fix this?!” James shouted as he threw himself onto his bed.

“Well first, you have to make up with your sister…and then, you work on Alex.”

“And how do I do that precisely?”

“I find humiliating public graveling always works best…your sister is in the common room if you want to get started.”

James began his decent down the spiraling stairs…he could see his sister curled up in an armchair by the fireplace and Alex sitting in the corner studying. He swallowed hard and walked toward his sister. He came to rest before her; she didn’t even look up to acknowledge his presence.

“Lily…Lily I am such a prat,” he said simply.

She snorted derisively and responded, “Understatement of the year!”

“I know I have to make it up to you, but I am really sorry and I want you to be back on the team…” he trailed away.

Lily did not look up; she merely replied, “Nope-”

But her words were cut short as someone said, “James, isn’t that your owl.”

James turned on the spot to find is owl perched on the windowsill clutching a blood red envelope. He swallowed again and let the bird into the common room. The letter sat there looking so entirely innocent…no one was fooled, it was a dreaded howler.

James turned to Lily and said, “You told Mom didn’t you?”

Lily responded with an icy nod and turned once more in her seat. James watched with dread as the envelope began to smoke along the edges…this was going to be bad. Then it began and the room immediately filled with the shrieking voice of his mother.

“JAMES POTTER…YOU WILL APPOLOGIZE TO YOUR SISTER AND YOU W ILL LET HER BACK ON THE TEAM. HONESTLY, YOU GET UPSET BECAUSE A GIRL YOU LIKE KISSES ANOTHER BOY AND THEN YOU GET MAD AT YOU SISTER…YOUR FATHER AND I THOUGHT BETTER OF YOU. IF I DON’T GET A LETTER BACK FROM YOUR SISTER TONIGHT SAYING SHE IS BACK ON THE TEAM, I WILL COME UP THERE AND PUT HER BACK ON THE TEAM MYSELF…!”

The ashes from the letter faded and James swallowed hard and turned to face his sister, “Lily…you’re one of the best chasers out there, please come back to the team.”

Lily eyed him angrily and responded, “No.”

“What?! You have to come back…mum’ll kill me.”

“And you would deserve it!” she whispered vehemently.

“Lily…say you’ll come back on the team; I’ll do anything!”

“Anything?” responded Lily; James not at all liking the way she had said that.

“Yes, anything…” said James unsure of what he was getting himself into.

Lily smiled widely and continued, “You have to let Alex back on the team, too.”

James sputtered indignantly, “What-NO!”

“Fine, then I don’t write mom and she comes up here and embarrasses you in front of the entire school.” She said standing up, finally staring her brother malevolently in the eye.

From her corner, Alex watched the proceedings in heightened interest; she might get back on the team after all. James gave his little sister one last furious look and he marched over to where Alex sat. In forced tones of control, he said, “Alex, you can have the spot on the team…if you still want it.”

Alex looked at him carefully and then gave a slight nod in agreement.

~


Halie, Naomi, Josh, and Charlie were suddenly the friends of the two most unenthusiastic people Hogwarts had ever seen. James and Alex sat at opposite ends of the table in the library; each studying their Potions books a bit too intently. While the conversation at the table was continuous and friendly, neither would contribute even when prompted. Truth be told, no one had seen Alex and James speak to one another since that day in the Quidditch pitch, which was bazaar, especially for James.

“So are you guys excited…the big game is today?” asked Naomi hopefully.

Two heads bobbed up and down, eyes never once leaving their textbooks.

“Yeah, so Slytherin is totally going to kick ass today, right?” said Josh comically.

Again, both nodded; not even realizing what they where replying to.

“Tomorrow you two are going to announce your engagement to one another and your plan to have five kids,” said Halie with an evil grin.

More nods and quickly the table dissolved into a fit of laughter. Madame Pince turned the corner shushing them. This was the precise moment that Alex and James decided to look up. Their eyes locked, James’s eyes, which normally shone blue, were clouded by something…but Alex couldn’t decide what. James, for what felt like the thousandth time, was reliving the mistakes that he had made; begging for fate to somehow reverse his idiocy.

Alex tore her eyes from the proceedings and standing said, “I am going back to the common room…need to get ready.”

And without another word, she packed her bag and left. James, meanwhile, had made up his mind…enough silence; he was going to fix this. It didn’t matter if they could never be friends…not talking to her was pure torture and he couldn’t handle it anymore.

~


Alex was heading up a deserted corridor when suddenly the echoing footsteps of someone behind her met her ears. Her head pounded; it was James and she was going to kill him. But her heart screamed; it was James and things would finally go back to normal.

She turned on the spot and found, not James, but Chase standing there, “Ch-Chase, what are you doing here?!”

~


Watching Alex’s retreating form, James bid a rushed goodbye to his friend and sprinted from the library, earning himself an angry glare from the librarian. He sped up stairs, down hallways, and across passageways…all in hopes of catching up to Alex. He was about to turn a corner when a very unwelcome voice met his ears. One question remained…why was Chase this far in the school and not in the dungeons where he belonged?

“Alex, I meant everything I said at the Three Broomsticks…” pleaded Chase.

Bloody Moron, thought James.



“I know,” she replied simply…he could tell by the tone in her voice that she was uncomfortable.

“Just give me a chance…forget stupid Potter; he’ll never be able to understand you like I do.” Chase continued.

“What makes you think this has anything to do with Potter?” Alex’s mind was reeling.

“Come on, Cunnings…tell me you didn’t feel it too-” pleaded Chase.

James had had enough; he could handle this anymore. Turning on his heel, he sped back down the hallway and in the direction of the Quidditch pitch; and hopefully, towards some peace and quiet.

~


“Come on Cunnings…tell me you didn’t feel it too-” pleaded Chase.

That was I;, she couldn’t handle this kid anymore…who did he think he was anyway?

“Chase, GET OVER YOURSELF! I was USING you to get to Potter!” screamed Alex…she had finally broke.

“We both know you weren’t just using me, Alex.” He said with a smirk.

The way he said her name made her skin crawl and to add insult to injury, she realized that he was leaning in trying to steal another kiss.

“You stupid prat…It was never you I liked!” And then she hit him with a well-aimed kick between the legs.

Chase crumpled to the floor as Alex turned on her heel (making sure to hit him in the head with her school bag as she went) and walked in the direction of the Gryffindor common room.

~


Alex sat in the locker room…waiting, waiting for the game to be over. Never before had she been so unhappy to be play Quidditch…really she just wanted to go to bed and not wake up until this year was over. For what felt like the hundredth time, thoughts of James danced a wicked jig across her mind’s eye…what could she say to make this end? Then, quite unexpectedly, the unbidden words of Chase reverberated through her ears, “Just give me a chance…forget stupid Potter; he will never be able to understand you like I do.”

He will never be able to understand you like I do, Alex thought.

The fact was that she was not Alex…she was Alexandra, and no amount of pink hair and black eyeliner would keep her from being what she really was…famous. The truth was, of all the people in her life, James may be one of the only people who would understand who she really was. What it was like to be famous for events that occurred before she was even born; famous for things that she couldn’t even begin to understand. He and he alone, in all of Hogwarts, would understand what it was like to be judged before someone had even met you.

That’s when it clicked…she had judged him exactly the same way everyone else had judged her for her entire life.

“Okay gang…the game is starting,” bellowed James only half-heartedly.

James stood by the entrance to the locker room watching his players pass one by one. Alex, who was lost in her own thoughts, lagged behind the rest of her team. She could feel his presence before she even realized that she was alone with him. Alex looked up to meet James’s eyes; he was as preoccupied as much as she was.

Then she did it; she dared to reach across, to bridge that gap that had grown so wide between them, “James,” he looked up at her stunned, “I’m sorry.”

Not waiting for a response, Alex continued to walk towards the pitch. James remained behind, frozen to the floor, stunned and slightly disbelieving.

~


James twirled the beater’s bat nervously in his hands; his head, which had previously been full of quidditch maneuvers and ploys, was now only filled with three words, “I am sorry.”

He couldn’t even begin to wonder what had caused her to say this, but nonetheless they had made a major impact. The sound of the starting whistle to the game broke through his contemplation. Fixing his course toward the nearest bludger, he smacked a speeding ball in the direction of Chase’s head.

Penalty for Slytherin…no worries, Alex could handle it…and she did.

The game began once more. Lily scored for Gryffindor as the crowd exploded into a mixture of hisses and cheers. Twenty more minutes into the game, things were at a stalemate. James watched as the impenetrable barrier that was Alex blocked yet another goal from the Slytherin keepers. The game was Gryffindor 50, Slytherin 30; James could see Chase becoming increasingly more irritated as Alex blocked another of his shots.

No sign of the snitch, so he jumped into action; why not take out a few more Slytherin players while waiting? Another twenty minutes had passed when something strange began to happen. Chase had stopped mid-air and was having a conversation with his beaters who seemed to be arguing back. A bludger went whizzing past his left ear, so he was momentarily distracted from the proceedings.

James was level with the Slytherin hoops at the end of the pitch opposite Alex. Then, as if in slow motion, he watched the figure of Chase raise a beater’s bat and take direct aim at Alex. He wasn’t worried…she had handled stuff like that before. Indeed, she had saved the quaffle in time to dodge the bludger.

As Alex went to throw the quaffle back into play James watched one of the Slytherin beaters return the bludger in the direction of her back. She ducked in time to miss it again; the air of the pitch was rent with the whistling of the referee. James, however, did not dare to take his eyes off of Chase, who even after the game had been halted, took aim at Alex.

Alex was distracted listening to the voice of the referee…she didn’t she the violent black ball pelting in her direction. Even from his position across the pitch, James swore he could hear the sickening thud of impact. As the wreckage cleared, there was a sudden intake of breath from the crowd. Alex remained upright for a few moments and then she began to fall.

James kicked his broom into life and sped toward Alex as she began her mid-air tumble from fifty feet in the air. His broom was stretched to its max as he rushed forward. In horror, James watched her sink like a rag doll toward the ground. If he had been listening, he would have heard the horrified shrieks of the others watching the game and the bludger that was hot on his pursuit. James was flattened to his broom as he pelted toward Alex who was ten feet from the ground. Somehow, with seconds to spare, James caught Alex’s bloody and unconscious form mere feet from the ground. It was too late; she was moving too fast, and then, from out of nowhere, a bludger collided with his back. James gripping onto Alex for dear life was catapulted to the ground; pain like no other seared through his body and then all was black.

~


Her hearing came back first.

“I still can’t believe it happened…I mean, look at her.”

Alex’s eyelids were too heavy to open.

“That stupid git Chase totally set her up!” whispered Halie.

Chase…quidditch…the GAME!

“I still can’t believe what James did!” said Naomi, not bothering to lower her voice.

Then the pain came back.

Despite her attempt to remain silent, Alex let out a mumbled groan. Halie and Naomi suddenly shot upright.

“Alex…Alex! You are okay?” yelled Halie and she stooped in for a hug.

Alex’s head reverberated like someone was playing with cymbals inside her ears. It felt like she had been run over by a mad bludger…that’s when she remembered that she probably had been.

“What happened?” Alex muttered, attempting to pry her eyelids open.

“That stupid git Chase hit you with a bludger after the game had been stopped,” answered Naomi.

“You weren’t expecting it,” continued Halie.

Alex snorted indignantly, but it hurt far too much, “What did James do…” Things were going dark again.

“He caught you…nearly killed himself in the process,” said Naomi.

“James saved me…?” But Alex was gone; once more in the grasp of sweet unconsciousness.

~


Alex felt a change in her surroundings even before she was completely awake…something was moving. Her eyes cracked open, but even the dim lights of the hospital wing sent wicked jolts of pain through her brain.

“Wake up sleepy head,” said a quiet, taunting voice.

Alex jolted out of her sleeping state bolting upwards in bed. She regretted it immediately and fell back to the mattress against her will.

“Wow now!” said the voice that obviously belonged to James, “You have to take it slower than that.”

Heeding his warning, she slowly sat herself up Indian style. James, who was already half in her bed, sat across from her.

“What time is it?” Alex asked vaguely.

“Three in the morning.”

“Why in Merlin’s name are you awake?”

“I was hungry so I snuck to the kitchens…oh by the way, how close are you to that Chase guy?”

He asked it so nonchalantly that Alex looked at him suspiciously, “I never really liked him…why do you ask?”

“I just saw him and Ella getting busy on my way back from the kitchens.”

“Oh…isn’t she your girlfriend?” she asked amused.

“Can’t stand her…I just knew that she would drive you insane.”

“It worked.”

“I noticed,” he replied with a smirk.

“You’re an idiot…you do realize that!” joked Alex.

“Excuse me?” asked James in mock offense.

“Why on earth would you try to catch me!”

“Oh that…well I wasn’t really thinking.”

“Clearly.”

“What was I supposed to do…watch you fall?”

“I probably would have deserved it,” said Alex.

“No…you were just playing a game that I started.”

Silence fell awkwardly between them and James rolled the hem of her blanket between his thumb and forefinger. Alex peered at him and reached forward and gripped his shoulders, “I think we both lost our minds.”

He looked up at her with a smile and agreed, “Yeah, you have a way of doing that to me.”

“So where do we go from here?” she asked logically.

James responded with a suggestive flirtatious look that Alex had come to associate with him. With an arched eyebrow, she responded, “Except that Potter!”

“Well what did you have in mind?” he said it with the upmost of innocence…no one was fooled.

“Truce?” she asked extending a hand.

He took her hand in his and they both shuddered slightly…both hoping that the other hadn’t noticed. Her hands were freezing…James to the rescue!

James suddenly stood and even though he tried to play it off Alex could tell that he was in a pain.

“Okay, Miss Cunnings back to bed…quidditch practice starts on Monday and I need you fit,” said James as he pulled back the covers and allowed Alex to slide in.

“You are not going to tuck me in!” Alex protested.

“Try and stop me!” he said manically as he made a big to do about tucking in every portion of the stiff hospital blanket beneath her shivering body.

“James I can’t move!” said Alex as she attempted to wiggle her toes.”

“How are you going to fall asleep when you are talking?” he questioned completely ignoring her comment.

“James-” but Alex froze.

James had been in the act of tucking in the blanket around her shoulders when their eyes finally locked onto one another. She saw the spark of mischief amidst his blue eyes; one that she had not seen in weeks. Unable to move any of her extremities, she bit her lip nervously and James drew closer to her. She closed her eyes excepting what was about to happen…when suddenly, the hall was filled with the clack of the nurse’s shoes against the flagstone floors.

James, looking slightly disappointed, moved to the next bed and deposited himself amidst the sheets and covers. Just as the hospital wing ceased all signs of life, the nurse entered and walked up to her only two occupants. She lingered a second longer on Alex than she did James before she turned heel and left once more.

In a fury of flailing limbs and kicking legs, Alex freed herself from the covers that tightly bound her. Free from her blanketed prison, she shifted in bed so that she was facing James who still looked mischievous as ever.

“Thank you James,” she said simply as her surroundings began to grow foggy.

“You know me,” he said with a yawn, “always the hero.”

“So…” she replied nervously, “who ended up winning the game?”

If it were possible, his smile widened even further. Alex was frustrated, ‘WHAT?!”

James ceded, “Chase’s little stunt cost him and the Slytherin quidditch team the rest of the season.”

“They are totally banned from quidditch?” she answered in awe.

“Totally…” James trailed away.

A smile crossed her lips as she drifted back to sleep…it hurt like hell, but at least they were talking again.

A/N: Never before have I ever been vexed by a chapter like this one; it tortured me immensely! I kid you not this has been written and rewritten like four times. Okay, so what did you think? Not much to say other than sorry for the delay in posting! The next chapter is one of the most dramatic and anticipated thus far, so here is a peak for your enjoyment!



Sneak Peak: Halie and Naomi picked up their bags and faced Alex, “It’s okay, we really do need to start on our O.W.L work…we’ll see you tomorrow!”

As the pair turned to leave, the bottom seam in Naomi’s bag, already strained from carrying around Alex’s books, gave way; spilling its contents into Alex’s lap.

“Buggar! I knew that was going to happen!” cried Naomi.

But Alex was too distracted to notice. In her lap, amongst the books and rolls of parchment, were a dozen or so very crisp envelopes with thick letters inside. Alex recognized the stationary on which they were written and she knew the untidy scrawl that had scratched “Naomi Longbottom” on the envelopes.










YOU KNOW YOU LOVE ME! PLEASE REVIEW!



Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen: All Kinds of Places
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: I came to the realization that I may have hyped up this chapter…which made me very angry with myself because writing is hard enough to do without overwhelming expectations. I sank my own ship…quite sad actually. So in my defense the content mentioned in the chapter is something you have all be waiting for, as for the writing, however, I can make no promises. I hope sincerely that you enjoy it **crosses fingers**


Chapter Sixteen:

All Kinds of Places

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“Mr. Potter…I told you an hour ago that you could leave the hospital wing. If you don’t leave now, I will give you a legitimate reason to be here,” said Madam Pomfrey, angrily tapping her foot against the floor of the hospital wing.

James, who was sitting at the foot of Alex’s bed, turned with an innocent look that fooled no one, and said, “Umm…a few more minutes, please?”

“Miss Cunnings needs her rest to get better.”

Alex rolled her eyes.

“You need to leave…now!”

“I don’t really need to be here…” said Alex to the nurse hopefully.

“Nice try, Miss Cunnings, but you still have a broken leg…and if Mr. Potter doesn’t leave now…I will floo his mother.”

Yep, that worked. James turned to face Alex and said in a false valiant tone, “I must leave you now…but I shall return.”

He leaned forward and gave her a very awkward hug and then stood and dashed from the hospital wing. Alex sat in bed and gave the school nurse a dark stare; the only reason the hospital wing had been bearable for the last five days was because of James’s presence. Sighing, she shifted downward in bed and drifted into a fitful sleep full of falling off of broomsticks and the smiling face of James…somehow strangely synonymous with one another.

Some time later, Alex awoke to a chorus of, “Wake up ALEX!”

Alex cracked open her eyes to find Halie and Naomi leaning over her, “Don’t you guys have any other friends to bother?” But the comment was ruined with a slight smile.

“Oh you know you love us!” said Naomi playfully, taking a seat on the bed.

“So how was Transfiguration?” asked Alex.

“Yet more O.W.L. work,” said Halie rolling her eyes and dumping several pounds of school books before Alex, “But we didn’t come to talk about school…we CAME” to talk about James.”

“What about James?” asked Alex calmly.

“He was in Transfiguration-” said Naomi.

Alex cut in, “I thought we weren’t talking about Transfiguration.”

` “HE seemed happy…too happy,” finished Naomi.

“I know nothing about that. Is this really all the work we have to do?” she asked indicating the mountainous pile of books.

“Yes and stop avoiding the topic!”

A staring contest ensued, Halie and Naomi on one side and Alex on the other. Alex broke first, “Fine! What do you want to know?”

“Did you guys make up?!”

“Did you make out!?”

“Are you going out?”

“I can really only answer one question at a time.”

“Arghhh! Just tell us what happened!” screamed Halie.

Madam Pomfrey stuck her head into the wing to check what was going on, then disappeared shaking her head as Alex began to divulge exactly what had happened between her and James. Some time later Halie asked, “So do you…you know…like him?”

Alex sighed and with slight hesitation nodded her head to the affirmative.

“Oh My God! You two are so cute together!” screamed Halie and the girls broke down into fits of cheerful laughter. They were interrupted by a slightly impatient cough, “I must insist that you ladies leave so Ms. Cunnings can be rested enough for her discharge tomorrow.”

Three pairs of eyes turned to look at her, “Can we please have another ten minutes?”

Going against her better judgment, she replied, “Fine; but in ten minutes I want to hear silence.”

Halie and Naomi picked up their bags and faced Alex, “It’s okay; we really do need to start on our O.W.L work…we’ll see you tomorrow!”

As the pair turned to leave, the bottom seam in Naomi’s bag, already strained from carrying around Alex’s books gave way, spilling its contents into Alex’s lap.

“Bugger! I knew that was going to happen!” cried Naomi.

But Alex was too distracted to notice. In her lap, amongst the books and rolls of parchment, were a dozen or so very crisp envelopes with thick letters inside. Alex recognized the stationary on which they were written and she knew the untidy scrawl that had scratched “Naomi Longbottom” on the envelopes. Naomi was frozen with what seemed like a mixture of terror and despair.

“Alex, what is it?” asked Halie not privy to the same knowledge that the others had.

“Alex, I can explain!” said Naomi.

“Oh really!” said Alex a fire burning in confused fury, “You can explain why you have letters written by my brother?!”

“Oh,” said Halie simply.

“He wrote me after the Christmas Party-”

Alex interrupted, “And you had to write back?”

“Yes!” defended Naomi.

“Naomi, I told you my brother does nothing but hurt the girls he dates.”

“He says I am different!”

“He has said that to every girl since he was fourteen,” said Alex her anger being replaced by confusion.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal!”

“A big deal, a big deal!” she was angry again, “WHAT ABOUT JOSH!”

“What about him?” she replied her cheeks reddening.

“Don’t you think he deserves to know?!” shouted Alex.

“What about James! Huh Alex?! Doesn’t he deserve to know?!” threatened Naomi.

“You have to tell him, Naomi,” said Alex weakly.

Naomi gave one more outraged look and stomped from the Hospital Wing; Halie, who seemed completely lost, gave Alex an apologetic look and took after her friend. Needless to say, Alex didn’t sleep very well that night; questions kept bouncing around in her mind. The biggest one being: since when did her brother write letters?!

The next afternoon after Friday’s classes, James was surprised when he entered the hospital wing to find an exhausted and irritable Alex.

“Hey Cunnings!” he said cheerfully.

“Hey yourself, Potter” she said with a wince as she stood and steadied herself.

“Umm…everything okay?” he asked unsure if it was okay to approach her.

“If by okay you me currently in a fight with my best friend and am in an extreme amount of pain, then yeah, I am just dandy!” she replied sarcastically.

“I will take that as a no then.”

Alex’s eyes softened, “Sorry…I didn’t sleep well.”

“I can see that.”

“Thanks James!”

“Would you rather I lie?” he replied innocently.

“Just…let’s go before robo-nurse makes me stay,” she said, wincing again.

“Okay,” said James Grabbing her rucksack, before following close behind her.

The walk back up to Gryffindor Tower was a long and awkward one. He was intentionally standing close to her in order to catch her if she fell and his hand kept swinging and bumping hers. By the tenth time, Alex blurted out, “James, if you want to hold my hand, just do it, for Merlin’s sake!”

James was silently reprimanding his hand as he outstretched it to encompass hers. And as his face filled with delight, Alex was kicking herself for coming across so harshly, but was nonetheless enjoying the consequences. The rest of the trip seemed to pass by rather quickly as they came to the portrait of the Fat Lady. Muffled screaming met their ears through the common room door; the pair paused and Alex pulled her hand from James’s warm grasp…there was something very familiar about one of those voices.



With caution, she gave the password to the Fat Lady and pushed into the common room. The usually buzzing space was frozen as onlookers stared; gaping at two people in the center of the room. Naomi and Josh were having a full blown argument and as Alex entered the space, their words met her ears.

“So you have been writing him for how LONG?!” shouted Josh.

“Why does it matter?” yelled Naomi as Alex circled the room and came to rest next to Halie by the girls’ staircase.

“It matters because I want to know how long you have been cheating on me!”

“How is it cheaing?!”



“Tell me you don’t Love him!”

A very telling red flush was growing on her checks, “Fine…you know what, I do…I do love him!”

Alex’s mouth fell open…the next time she saw her brother she was going to kill him for this. Silence pounded around the space and suddenly Halie walked forward and said, “Come on Naomi, you need to calm down.”

Naomi gave in to Halie’s persuasive grip and was pulled in the direction of the fifth year girls’ dorm. Naomi was passing Alex when she stopped dead and seethed, “This is your fault Alex.”

Alex was speechless.

“You have to tell him!” she said in a mocking voice, “you’ll pay for this, Cunnings!”

“Come on NAOMI!” And with a final disgruntled tug, Halie managed to pull her friend up the stairs.

Alex was pale and dumbstruck…this was bad; very, very bad. But her panic was interrupted by James who walked up to her.

“What was that all about?”

“I-I have no idea…” Alex trailed away.

“Alex, you obviously know…”

“Fine, Naomi has been writing letters to Ace Wood.”

“So?”

“He’s been writing back.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah,” she said darkly.

“How long have you known about this?” said James with just a slight hint of accusation.

But it was enough, “I just found out last night…god, Potter.”

“I can’t believe that she did that to Josh…” he trailed away.

“I wouldn’t blame her entirely…”

“Are you saying that this is somehow Josh’s fault?” James seethed.

“NO!”

“Then what are you saying?!”

“I am saying that Ace Wood is a conniving, chauvinistic pig!”

“HOW WOULD YOU KNOW!” shouted James…this was turning into a full out argument.

Alex froze her eyes as wide as dinner plates…OH CRAP…how can she get herself out of this one?

“I- umm…Why are we arguing about this? The fact is I found out yesterday about Naomi and Ace…I told her that she was being unfair to Josh, and that she should tell him what is going on. I guess she took my advice; which is probably what lead that argument that we just witnessed. I am afraid that if you want any more answers, James, you are going to ask Naomi yourself!”

James was silent then with a slight smile he said, “Why are we arguing?”

“Because we are good at it.”

Alex turned on her heel and hobbled away…

“Where are you going?” asked James confused

“I am going to write a letter”

“To who?” asked James as the portrait hole closed…it was probably best not to follow her.

Alex continued her way to the Owlery and wrote a letter to her brother, most of which should never be witnessed by any decent person, but included sentiments such as:

@%&*@^@@?!%&. You are a despicable disgusting excuse for a human being. *%^@$%&@. I can’t believe you did this when I told you she had a boyfriend! &*#&@%$#&^@! If you hurt her, I will kill you and if my secret comes out because of this I will dig you out of your grave and burn your remains. @&*(!^#(&@@&^*! *$#^&@!?+_@%&Q^!@*@& !$%!*!%@$*@&*@%$!# @&^@*_+! I am disowning you as my brother!

I hope you rot in hell

–Alexandra Wood.


She finished the letter with a flourish and sent the hate-filled note on its way. If Friday was any testament to how horrible the weekend was going to be, she was not disappointed. On Saturday, Halie rushed up to her at breakfast as whispered, “Look Alex, I completely agree with you when it comes to everything about your brother, but I need to stick with Naomi…I am really, really sorry.”

As she rushed away, Alex thought Great! My lunatic best friend who knows all my secrets is stark raving mad at me and now I have no friends for the rest of the weekend.

The owl post chose that moment to make its entrance and an envelope drifted into her cereal bowl. Alex ripped open the soggy mess and read the note it held:

I LOVE YOU TOO, SIS! -Ace.

She heaved an angry sigh and shoved the note into the dregs of her cereal and with satisfaction watched the ink bleed from the note.

“Hey ALEX! How goes the weekend?”

Alex nearly jumped from her skin and turned to face James who was smiling broadly.

“James! Don’t do that to me!”

“Sooorryyy!” he replied throwing his hands in the air in mock surrender.

“Did you need something, Potter?” She returned to her cereal, but then remembered the letter floating in it.

“A whole bunch of us are going to study in the library and I was wondering if you wanted to join us?”

She returned the invitation with a suspicious glance.

“I swear it’s just studying!” he said innocently.

~


A few minutes later, Alex found herself alone in the library with James.

“So where are all these people we are supposed to be studying with?” she asked mockingly.

“It’s not my fault if they chose not to come,” he said, plainly not looking up from his Charms essay.

“James-” but she was cut off.

“Honestly! She sits in the dorm and tries to blame me from what she has gotten herself into!” said Halie coming out of nowhere and slamming her books on the table, “I just want to know when this became my fault.”

“She is still upset?”

“She is more than upset…she’s livid; but I can’t begin to understand it…she brought this on herself!”

“Shhh!” said the librarian from across the room; so they all ceased talking and returned to their work.

After awhile, Alex looked up from her own essay, once more distracted by Halie who was muttering something along the lines of, “Stupid…her own fault!”

She noticed that James was no longer studying but doodling in his Potions book…the picture looked similar to Naomi with her head exploding. Alex gave him a playful kick beneath the table and he looked up at her with a wide smile and a wink. She couldn’t help herself a dull red flush grew in her cheeks. Then he leaned over and in a voice so low only their table could hear he said, “Alex, do you mind explaining this Potions’ theory to me?”

He spun his book around and indicated a scribble note in the margin:

Come up with an excuse and I will meet you in the History section…no one ever goes there.

Alex looked up at him horrified; what kind of girl did he really think she was anyway?! But he gave another playful wink and against her better judgment, she said, “You know what, I think I saw a book explaining that the other day…I’ll go see if I can find it.”

Alex stood and James watched her and her torn, bleached jeans retreat down one of the endless aisles. After another five minutes, James stood and announced that he had to use the bathroom and also retreated down the passage of books. Halie and Charlie looked up at each other with a knowing smirk…well it was only a matter of time.

~


Alex reached up to place a book back on one of the upper shelves. She was too distracted to hear James sneaking up behind her. He grabbed at her waist and whispered, “boo.” She was startled and spun on the spot so that his arms slipped downward, but now they were facing each other. He was close enough to smell…in fact…for the first time she observed the smell of some mysterious cologne. She looked into his eyes and realized she was close enough to count the freckles that specked his nose and cheeks.

The breath caught in her chest and her head was suddenly full of cement; the only thing she could register was how close he was. He stepped closer, Alex tried to step backwards, but was prevented from doing so by bookshelves. One of her hands rested against his chest and she felt the rapid beating of his heart beneath her fingertips. He brought his hand farther up on her back and felt her shiver at the light touch.

They were so close but they seemed so far, what would have been seconds dragged on for what felt like hours. Their eyes were locked; neither able to recognize anything but each other’s passion. He began to lean still closer; their lips were nearly touching, neither able to breath for the sheer ecstasy of it all.

Then, it happened, it started with the lightest of all touches; his lips held her soft pink ones for one pure moment, but the kiss slowly grew deeper and more passionate. They stood like that for several seconds, both caught up in the finality of their actions, or at least Alex was. Quite suddenly, the realization that she was kissing the boy she had vowed to hate forever broke through her cement-filled head. James felt her pull back and step out from beneath his grasp. Both were slightly out of breath as she circled back around behind him.

The fierce battle going on inside Alex’s head shown plainly on her face. James’s face fell as he watched her continue to pace around the area. It was James! She couldn’t like him of all people! But it felt so right. But this was the boy who made her life hell! But, but, but, “Screw it!” she said beneath her breath. And before James even knew what was happening, Alex had wrapped her arms around him and began to kiss him. It was different than before; it was as though her touch sent an electric spark through his body.

They spun on the spot and he once again pressed her into the bookshelf. Her hands slipped beneath his shirt; their coolness sending shivers up his spine. He had one hand on her waist and the other on the back of her neck, bringing her still closer. Her mouth roamed his, desperate for the taste of his lips. He felt her tongue beg entrance to his mouth and parted his lips with eagerness. Alex was lost in it all and broke off only to let him trail warm kisses down her neck to her shoulder.

She was crazed by the tingles he sent down her spine as she reached once more for the comfort of his lips. They had barely a chance to breath as the kiss continued. Alex forgot all her reservations about the boy who made her feel so confused but more alive than she had ever expected. The confinement of his warm body was all she needed in that single moment…to lose it would be hell.

A polite and comic laugh sounded out of nowhere causing James and Alex to break apart.

“So where you able to…umm…find that book James?” said Charlie with a chuckle.

James pulled a book off the shelf behind Alex and said, “Yep.”

And smiling, he continued to kiss Alex, who after so long, couldn’t find a reason to resist.

The next few weeks were the happiest Alex could remember. Spring had begun to chip away the icy March weather and Quidditch practices became more frequent. One in particular was quite memorable. James had asked her to stay after practice to help him put equipment away. When they were done, they sat together in the stands in a comfortable silence when James suddenly burst out, “DYOUWANABMAGRLFRIEND!”

“Excuse me?” said Alex with an arched eyebrow.

James took a deep breath and tried again, “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

Alex couldn’t help herself and with a brilliant smile, she pushed him down on the bleachers and kissed him quite ferociously. They broke apart smiling and Alex said, “It took you long enough to ask!”

But all together it would be a lie to say that all things in her life were going as well as her love life. Naomi was still not speaking to her; but there had been no headlines of Alexandra Wood’s secret whereabouts, so she took it as a good sign. Halie was still bouncing between the feuding sides so Alex was able to spend less and less time with her best friend.

O.W.L. work had reached its overload point and she realized between sleep, food, homework, James, and Quidditch that she had less then no time to do anything else. But this all was incomparable to the wrath of Cali Sapphire. The news of James and Alex’s relationship had spread like wildfire through the school and since that fateful day, Cali had Alex put in detention twice and lost house points daily for meaningless infractions. Between Cali’s death glares and Naomi’s stony silence Alex wasn’t surprised that they hadn’t joined forces yet.

Now, however, it was the second to last Saturday in March. Next weekend was the final Hogsmeade visit; the first week of April was Easter break (Alex was being forced to go home) and the end of April marked the beginning of O.W.L.S.

Alex and James were sharing a sofa; James was snoring slightly and she was using him as a book stand for her Transfiguration book. The fire cracked happily a few feet away and she put a few final touches on her Transfiguration essay, which was due the following Monday. Then, she felt someone’s eyes burrowing into her. Lifting her eyes from her essay, Alex looked about the room, expecting to find Naomi glaring at her but instead saw Lily. The young girl had an unusually dark demeanor that did not at all reflect her normal self.

“Everything okay, Lils?” said Alex quietly.

Lily stood and walked away; not once saying a word…now that was strange. A few exhausted hours later, Alec planted a gentle kiss on the sleeping James who jerked awake.

“I am going to bed…I’ll see you in the morning” and she disappeared up the girls’ staircase.

She entered her dorm and quickly changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top. Alex then threw herself into bed, but found something was poking her head. Lighting her wand, she found a tightly bound scroll sitting, now crushed, on her pillow. Breaking the seal, she allowed the note to unfold and then read the only line on the entire page,

I know your secret…Meet me on the Astronomy tower tonight at midnight!

Alex stared at it blankly for a few moments then looked over at her alarm clock…it was almost eleven thirty. Against her better judgment, Alex but on her bathrobe and grabbed her wand as she headed out her dormitory door.

With one near miss with the caretaker, Alex found herself on the Astronomy tower just in time to meet the mysterious note writer.

“Hello,” said Alex wearily.

From the shadows a small cloaked redheaded figure appeared, “Hello, Alexandra.”

Alex’s jaw fell open for before her stood little Lily Potter looking deadly serious.

“L-Lily?”

“What…are you surprised?”

“Well…yeah!” said Alex.

This was met by silence before she continued, “did you need something, Lily.”



“Yes…I need you to stop lying to my brother,” she said quite seriously.

“Lily what are you-”

“Alex,” Lily cut in, “or should I say Alexandra…please don’t try to lie…”

Alex was quite literally lost for words but then broke, “Lily, please try and understand…”

“Oh, I understand Alex…You don’t think I understand what it is like to live in other people’s spotlight.”

“So you won’t tell?” she said with false hope.

“Merlin knows that if I were offered a different life that I would take it…so no…I won’t tell anyone. But only on one condition.”

Alex swallowed hard and responded “oh yeah what’s that…?”

“You have to tell James the truth.”

“The truth?”

“Who you are…what your real name is…he deserves to know.”

“And if I don’t?” she replied a little more daring than she felt.

“Than I will tell him for you,” Lily continued seriously.

Alex stared for a few moments, then in silence, turned on her heels and walked toward the door.

“Oh, and Alex,” she stopped and turned to face the young girl, “You have until Easter or I tell James myself.”

Not saying a word, Alex left the rooftop and headed in the direction of the Gryffindor Tower. She didn’t even bother trying not to get caught…it would be easier if she just got expelled…then she wouldn’t have to worry about James.

Nonetheless, she arrived safely back in Gryffindor Tower still stunned and silent. She sat down on her bed and ceased movement…this was bad; really, really bad. Vaguely, a few hours later, she noted that the sun had started to rise…and yet even longer after that, the other girls began to stir… still she herself had not moved.

Naomi was the first to wake and find Alex in her petrified state…it was so worrisome in fact that she forgot all her anger and rushed over to where she sat.

“Halie! Halie, something is wrong with Alex!”

Halie stirred and woke, slowly registering what was going on around her. She, too, rushed to Alex’s side and attempted to make contact with her friend. In Alex’s head, she had connected telling James her secret with everyone else finding out her secret…either way, she had one week to enjoy the life she had built at Hogwarts before it all disappeared.

“James…” she trailed away with one quivering note.

Halie turned the rest of the fifth year girls who were all awake now, “Can someone help James get up here without making the stairs freak out?”

A few minutes later, James flew in on his own broomstick and the rest of the girls filed out of the room. Alex seemed to finally break from her trance as James knelt down in front of her and took her hands into his own.

“Alex what’s wrong…everyone is worried.”

A single tear trailed down Alex’s pale cheek and she whispered, “James I have to tell you something…?”


A/N: Hello all…so how did you like it? Please bear with me; I must confess that my writing pace has slowed to that of snail. I beg for your patience as I strive to produce the ending of the story you have all loyally read. And now, for bearing with me through these extremely long author’s notes, here is a sneak peak for you pleasure.



Sneak peak:


As if the clock had struck midnight on her Cinderella fairy tale, the magical disguise fell away from her features. Her hair lay in dark curls down her back, her brown eyes reflecting her slightly freckled nose. She wrung her hands together praying that he would just say a word…a single word.











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Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen: Payback is a Witch
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Another big chapter! Thanks for reading; please remember to review… ENJOY!

Chapter Seventeen:
Payback is a Witch
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Alex seemed to finally break from her trance as James knelt down in front of her and took her hands into his own.

“Alex, what’s wrong…everyone is worried.”

A single tear trailed down her pale cheek and she whispered, “James, I have to tell you something…” James was silent.

“I-I…”

“Alex, just say what you need to say!” encouraged James.

“I-I…”

He just stared at her concerned.

“I-I…I love you!” it came out before she even had a chance to stop it.

James blinked several times then, with a look of relief, he said, “I love you, too, Alex…but that’s what this all was about?!”

“Sorry,” she said with a weak smile…but even James could tell there was no heart in it.

“Alex, why don’t you get some sleep…you look terrible.”

“Thanks,” she replied sarcastically.

“You know me…always tell the truth!” Her heart sank at his words, but he continued, “I’ll get some breakfast for Halie to bring up to you.”

He stood and kissed her on the forehead; she smiled weakly at his gesture and watched him leave the room. Once he was gone, both Halie and Naomi rushed back into the room. But halfway through, Naomi seemed to remember herself and stomped back the way she had come. When silence once more fell, Halie came to sit on Alex’s bed and said, “Not that that wasn’t beautiful Alex, but what’s really wrong.”

“Lily knows…”

“Lily knows what?” Alex gave Halie a meaningful look, “Ohhh.”

“She says I have to tell James or…she will!”

Halie responded with silence so Alex continued, “What am I going to tell him…”

“Surprise…I live in a bigger house than you!” Halie guessed.

Alex laughed, “No, how about…surprise, I’m an A-list celebrity that you’ve known for years…”

“Somehow, I don’t think that would go over well…”

“I don’t think anything will go over well.”

“Do you think if I just charm McGonagall’s hair pink she will just expel me and I can get out of it?”

“While that is one plan of action, maybe the truth is preferable…and sooner will be better than later.”

Alex sighed and fell backwards on her bed so that she was staring at her canopy, “This is going to suck, isn’t it?”

“Yep!” said Halie brightly.

“Great, just great!”

~


Alex sat in the Great Hall for lunch on Wednesday; James sitting loyally at her side while munching through some apple pie. Alex had been acting weird for days and when he leaned forward to give her a kiss…she turned her face away. Straightening, James felt someone staring at him and looked up to find Lily giving Alex a dark look from down the table. Alex also looked up, but paled markedly when she saw who was staring at them.

“Alex, is my sister mad at you?”

She paled even further if it were possible, “N-no, why would you say that?”

“Because she is trying to burn holes through you with her eyes.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about…” but she said and then attempted to distract him with a kiss.

After several pleasurable moments, James pulled away and said, “Are you sure…?”

“Oh look at the time! I have to use the bathroom before Transfiguration!” And she stood and swooped from the table leaving a confused James in her wake.

Alex made it to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom just as her knees gave out and she sank to the floor…what had she gotten herself into? After a few quiet moments, she heard footsteps on the other side of the door as someone else entered her safe haven.

“James sent me to come check on you,” said Halie, depositing her own books in a nearby sink.

“Was he worried…?”

“More confused than worried…but Alex if you keep this up he’s going to know that something is wrong.” she spoke with her face full of concern.

“I just can’t face him anymore…I feel like a lie!”

“But you did it before…”

“I know but it’s different now because…because-”

“You love him?”

“How on earth did it get this bad?” she said with a sigh.

“Alex, you have to tell him…do it tonight if you can; if he truly loves you, you will find a way to work it out.”

Alex gave her a doubtful look and Halie continued, “I didn’t say it would be easy...”

“Come on…we need to go to Transfiguration,” she said with a resigned sigh as she headed out of the bathroom stall.

Seconds later, Cali Sapphire stepped down off the toilet in the last stall of the girls’ bathroom where she had been hiding. So Alex had a secret, she thought with a wicked smile…this was going to be fun.

~


If Alex hoped that Transfiguration would provide her a much needed distraction, she was sadly disappointed. As Professor Marks passed out the O.W.L. practice essays from the last class, Alex accepted her outstanding without a second thought. She was sitting next to James, her stomach was a knotted mess, and she couldn’t think straight. James kept stealing sideways glances at her in a way that made her the utmost uncomfortable. It was like he could see through her…that suddenly under his gaze her skin turned to saran wrap and he could see through to her soul.

She was going to tell him.
She was going to tell him tonight.
She was going to tell him and accept the consequences of her actions.
She was going to die.
Yep…she was going to crash and burn.


“Miss Cunnings!” Alex jerked from her trance.

“It is your turn to state the seven laws of Transfiguration…” said Professor Marks.

She could do this…

Oh, who was she kidding!


~


James blew the final whistle, ending quidditch practice. Alex hurried off to the changing rooms…the boys would have to wait.

She was going to try and sneak away, but realized that that wasn’t fair to James; who was, despite her weirdness the last few days, incredibly understanding. She sat in the stands and watched the other teammates wander toward the castle for dinner. He was the last to come out and she was sure that her insides were about to become outsides despite the fact she hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

“Hey you!” he said cheerfully and kissed her gently on the lips.

She pulled away a little sooner than normal and said, “Let’s take a walk and go to dinner late.”

“That sounds lovely,” he said cheesily, taking her hand in his own.

Guilt surged up around her; her resolved stiffened…she was going to do this. They were halfway around the lake when Alex broke the uncomfortable silence, “James…I have something to tell you.”

“Does this, by any chance, have to do with whatever was wrong with you on Sunday?”

Alex sighed, “You figured it out, huh?”

“You are the most stable person I know, Alex. If whatever it was had you running scared, I was in no rush to know.”

“James, I am not who I say I am…” she said in a rush.

“Right and I’m not James Potter!” he laughed bitterly.

“James stop…” she said it weakly and he turned to see her basking in the newly risen moonlight.

“Alex what is-” but he froze.

As if the clock had struck midnight on her Cinderella fairytale, the magical disguise fell away from her features. Her hair lay in dark curls down her back, her brown eyes reflecting her slightly freckled nose. She wrung her hands together praying that he would just say a word…a single word.

“James, my name isn’t Alex Cunnings, it’s Alexandra-”

“Wood…” he said, plainly realizing the implications for his recent discovery.

“I am so sorry I-”

“So…that’s why you didn’t like me when we first met because…you already knew me.”

She nodded in silence.

“Who else knows?” he still hadn’t looked at her.

“Halie and Naomi found out around Christmas time…”

“Christmas…It was you at Christmas…I mean, in my room?” his eyes snapped upward, “You were asking me about the girl in my life when you already knew the answer!”

She replied with silence. so he continued.

“So why are you telling me this stuff now…since it is obviously one of the best kept secrets at Hogwarts,” the words were licked with bitterness.

“Because…I…I-”

Comprehension shone on his face, “Lily figured it out!”

Alex nodded in agreement.

“The only reason you’re telling me now is because my little sister threatened to tell for you.”

“James-”

“Tell me I’m wrong!” he shouted, red creeping up his neck.

“You’re not wrong…” she said weakly.

“How-how-HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME!”

“James, I’m sorry!” she shouted back, tears streaming down her face.

“Sorry that you hurt me or sorry that now your secret may come out?!” he said fiercely.

“James…I DON’T CARE ABOUT MY SECRET! I just can’t stand to lie to you anymore!” She sobbed and was surprised to find it was true.

“It’s too late, Alex! I’m already hurt!” And he turned on his heel and marched in the direction of the castle.

Alexandra stood there in shock, but was surprised when he stopped and turned to face her again, “It must have been really witty to watch me introduce you to your own father at the quidditch match.”

Her stomach crumbled as James just stood there completely lost.

He went to turn around but thought better of it and faced her once more, “Oh and Alexandra,” It was her name, but the way he said it cut her like a knife, “Don’t worry about your secret…I won’t ruin your precious lie…I mean life.”

Then he was gone.
And she was alone.
Like so much of her life previous to this school year.

She was a mere island in the river known as life…as things bobbed and flowed around her she was still unable to overcome her grief to move on. She didn’t know how long she stood there, but when she snapped from her revelry it was pitch black…how appropriate.

She lit her wand and using the mirrored surface of the lake she morphed back into Alex, the pink highlights feeling like more of a lie than her true identity.

~


Cali Sapphire was exiting the Great Hall when James came stomping into the entrance hall. He looked upset; perhaps he learned the lie of a certain pink-haired demon…it was too much to hope for. With a fleeting glance, she headed toward the dungeons; opportunities like this deserve special planning.

~


Somehow, even though she couldn’t quite remember it, Alex made her way back up to Gryffindor tower. She whispered the password, tears brimming in her eyes, but stopped.

What was she doing?
She was stronger this!
Alexandra Wood crying…like hell!
She would face this disappointment like every other in her life…with her teeth bared and her fists flailing.


Stepping into the common room, Alex was met immediately by Halie, and surprisingly, Naomi.

“Alex, what happened?” they said in unison. It was a taste a bitter taste of what used to be.

“Nothing…I can’t recover from…” she said morosely as she headed up to the dorm.

~


Alex felt like she was suddenly living in a fish bowl. The news of her and James’s breakup had spread faster than the news of their relationship. People whispered and pointed as she passed, but she barely noticed as depression weighed heavily on her. It was breakfast on Friday; she had endured James’s stony silence for an entire day and now she endured the gossip.

Pushing around her eggs, Alex sighed heavily and set down her fork only to find Naomi take the seat in front of her. Naomi paused for a second, “Alex, I’m sorry for the way I’ve been treating you for the last few weeks…”

Alex didn’t respond, picking up her fork and pushing around her sausage.

Naomi continued, “But I am really sorry about how James reacted to the truth…I know how much you cared for him-”

She faltered as James passed the table going to his own seat for breakfast. Alex sniffed and a single tear trailed down her cheek, but she hastily wiped it away and responded, “It’s okay, I understand…”

“I bet it will be nice to get away for Easter break…”

Alex nodded.

“Are you going to Hogsmeade tomorrow?” asked Halie hopefully.

Alex snorted derisively, “Why, so everyone can ogle at me there, too?”

“Come on, Alex, it’ll be fun!” Naomi chided.

Alex cracked a brief smile, “Sure, why not, it couldn’t get any worse, right?”

~


Cali Sapphire had a perfect seat; one side she could see Alex Cunnings sniffling, and on the other was James grinding his teeth. She looked up as the morning owl post flew in the vast windows. She looked among the rain speckled wings and found what she was looking for.

A large black owl swooped down upon her table and set down a very large package. Severing the tape with her wand, she opened the box to find a stack of sweaters and a tin of homemade cookies. She frowned and rooted through the box, but did not find what she really wanted. Knocking on the bottom of the box, she heard the hollow chink of glass against glass.

A wicked smile spread across her face as she closed the box and went to take it to her room before classes. The plan was in motion; by this time tomorrow, Alex Cunnings would no longer be a problem and James Potter would be all hers.

~


James was a ghost drifting at the edge of conversations, not eating, and sighing morosely. Dinner had finished a few hours before and he was content with wandering the castle on his own. He had seen Alex, or rather Alexandra forty-eight times…yes, he counted because that is exactly how many times his teeth clenched and his fists bared. Truthfully, he was too scared to face the Gryffindor tower, to afraid to see her in her own depressed saddened state.

James knew why he was angry, and felt that his fury was justified; but something tugged at the pit of his stomach. He felt that if he was to face her, his anger would waver and he couldn’t help but forgive her…he wanted to forgive her. As he was about to mindlessly climb the stairs a voice rang out behind him, “Hey James!”

He turned to find Cali Sapphire near the open main doors to the school, “I’m not really in the mood Cali…sorry.”

She frowned and held out two bottles of amber liquid, “Not in the mood for a gift?”

His jaw dropped, “Cali, what are you doing?!”

“I was just going for a walk around the lake, would you care to join?” she said with a flirtatious smile.

“I don’t know-”

“Come on, Jamesie, give your self a break,” she whined.

He began to walk forward, “Fine, but only if one of those bottles is for me.”

~


It was almost midnight; the moon was nearly full and high overhead. Alex couldn’t sleep; guilt and regrets unrelentingly tugging at her mind and heart. She sighed as she watched a pair of students down by the lake. Something was familiar about one of them but she brushed it off as she imagined that it was her and James down there…sitting in the moonlight and enjoying the free time together.

Tomorrow would be Hogsmeade; she didn’t want to go but she had promised Halie and Naomi that she would. Alex sighed deeply and wrapped her robe tighter about herself. One of the figures by the lake had jumped into the icy waters and was now coming to rest on the shore. Well, at least not everyone was miserable, she thought as she stood and went to bed…a little sleep was better than none at all.

~


James was laughing heartily; the empty glass bottle toppled to the ground beside him. Cali was dripping wet and laying beside him; laughing equally as hard.

“I can’t believe you did tha-” his words slurred.

“Okay,” she said, “your turn, truth or dare?”

James thought for a moment, “Dare!”

“You have to do at least one truth, James!”

“FINE! Next time…this time I want a dare.”

“Okay,” she bit her lip seductively, “I dare you to kiss me-”

James eyed her unsure then he crawled over to where she lay and gave her a fierce kiss on the lips. They pulled apart; Cali slightly out of breath, “James, you didn’t let me finish. I was going to say that I dare you to kiss me here,” she said, indicating her neck.

James smiled, “My apologies; let me fix that…”

He trailed kisses down her neck in his drunken state; little did he notice Cali’s nearly untouched bottle. He pulled away again and said, “Okay, Truth or Dare?”

“Truth…” she said unsure.

“Umm…” he had to think, and that was hard to do with a near alcohol-induced coma, “Why did you come find me tonight?”

She smiled a small smile, “I heard about you and Alex breaking up and I saw how upset you were…I just wanted to make you feel better.”

He nodded barely comprehending.

“Your turn…Truth or Dare?”

“Dare.”

“JAMES!” she yelled.

“Fine…truth!” he ceded.

Cali pretended to think for a moment, “What was Alex’s big secret…you know the one that made you two break up.”

She was suddenly serious; her speech clear and authoritative.

“I can’t say…” he trailed away weakly.

“James,” she pouted, “Here, have some more rum…it must have been awful!”

He nodded; downing more alcohol.

“I’m sure if you talk about it you will feel better,” she coaxed him.

“I told her I wouldn’t tell anyone.”

“Do you really think she deserves that loyalty, James?” she smiled kindly.

James shook his head no.

“Just think of how much better you will feel once you get it off your chest…”

James nodded dumbly.

“Come on, James, tell me,” she rested a pale hand on his chest.

“Alex Cunnings isn’t her real name,” he was scared by his own actions.

“What?!” said Cali shocked, “What is her real name?”

James shook his head again; somewhere he knew that what he was doing was wrong. Then the clouds shifted overhead and moonlight spotted the ground; it took him back in time to the night that he had found out. His heart ached and anger rattled around in his chest.

“James, what is it?” she said trying her best to hide her eagerness.

“Her real name is Alexandra Wood…” he sounded defeated.

Cali’s eyes nearly popped out of her head but her astonishment was quickly replaced by excitement.

Several hours later, when she had managed to get James back to the castle, she set out to the Owlery; she had work to do and fast.

~


Alex woke up in the same depressed state that she had gone to bed with. Swinging her legs out of bed, she shuffled away to the bathroom; if she was going to be forced to enjoy herself she may as well have a good hair day. An hour later, she was eating breakfast with Halie and Naomi. James was nowhere is sight, which was both a blessing and a curse.

The hall was filled with the excited chatter that usually marked the start of a Hogsmeade weekend. Alex felt someone staring at her and she whipped around to see Cali Sapphire looking sleep-deprived and smug. The black-haired girl gave a vicious smile and a little wave. Alex responded with a snide look and turned back around in her seat.

Before she knew it, she was being led down the road to Hogsmeade, silent and depressed. They were halfway there when it began to rain; lightly at first, but then it was a right downpour. Alex jammed a hat on her head, hiding all her pink streaks; well at least the weather reflected the mood.

There seemed to be more people in the village than usual; in fact, a lot of middle-aged men, bald, with bags slung over their shoulders. The three girls pushed against the storm and Halie said, “I really need to find a dress for my and Charlie’s anniversary.”

Alex didn’t respond so she continued, “That means I need your help…Alex!”

She nodded numbly.

Halie and Naomi groaned in unison and pushed her forcefully into the nearest dress store. The store was deserted and the painted front windows blocked the milling street from view. Alex tossed aside the rain soaked hat and headed down the nearest row of dresses. Pulling out a few, she headed off to the dressing room where Halie was waiting for the perfect dress.

Alex was about to sink into an armchair when Naomi called out, “Alex, you have to come see this!”

It took her a few minutes to find exactly where the voice had come from, but she found her in the back of the store where all the vintage clothes were stuffed onto one rack.

“Depressed times call for new clothes,” Naomi announced as she held out ripped skinny jeans, a torn lace shirt, and a pair of black kitty-cat heels.

“I am supposed to wear those?” said Alex with an arched eyebrow.

“Come on…it screams you!”

“It screams something…not sure it’s me though.”

“You are buying it and wearing it out of the store…make James sorry he broke it off with you.”

“If you haven’t noticed, James isn’t around today.”

“Charlie told me he’s sleeping off a hangover…got totally plastered last night,” said Halie appearing from around the dressing room door.

“Oh…” Alex heaved a sigh; and grabbing the clothes, went to the nearest changing room.

An hour later, the threesome left the shop; new outfit on and rain hat once more firmly over her head. Not remembering just how crowded it was, she plowed into another middle-aged bald guy with a bag.

“Watch it little missy; I’m workin’ here!”

She took a step back and continued on her way as the man said to the guy next to him, “Nearly all of the students are down here…still no sign of her; how reliable was that source anyway?”

Alex thought hard…what was going on here? Then, Halie yelled into her ear, “Hey, let’s get a drink at the Three Broomsticks; it’s too crowded out here!”

The rain pounded harder against the ground so the girls pushed forward into the cozy, warm dryness of the pub. Naomi went to go pick up drinks as Alex and Halie picked a booth far removed from the other tables.

“Do you see all those old guys?” asked Naomi returning with their drinks.

“Must be a convention or something,” added Halie.

“What an old bald guy convention?” asked Alex with a snort.

“Ha ha,” sighed Halie, “All I’m saying is that it’s weird.”

Outside the window Alex watched as lightning forked across the sky…it really was a miserable day. An hour later, the girls ceded their attempt to “wait out” the storm and decided to cut their losses and head back to the castle for a late lunch. They donned their rain gear and tromped from the pub. If it were possible, there were even more people waiting in the pouring rain.

Then, the most unfortunate series of events unfolded right before Alex. First, a great gust of wind picked the hat of her head and blew it away. As she jumped to grab for it, the heel of her new shoes got caught in the cobble stones. And as she overbalanced and fell over, she gave a small shriek and landed in a puddle of mud with a splash. Every person waiting in the square turned at that moment to find the source of commotion and that’s when true hell broke loose.

The middle-aged balding men simultaneously reached for the bags over their shoulders and pulled out cameras. With pink-streaked hair, mud covered jeans, and a broken high heel, Alex was suddenly aware of the voices screaming at her.

“Look, it’s Alexandra Wood!” screamed several people in unison.

Naomi pulled her upright despite the missing heel.

“It’s true she’s been parading around Hogwarts with a different name.”

“Nice HAIR!” screamed another reporter with a wicked laugh.

A crowd of her fellow students began to encircle her, curious as to what the commotion was about.

“Does you mother know about your makeover?” screamed another voice.

Alex paled; her blood running cold, this had to be some kind of nightmare. She pinched herself to wake up…it didn’t work.

“So this is where you have been all year!”

It was all too much, how could they have found out? Halie and Naomi wouldn’t have told, Lily wouldn’t have told either because Alex had already told…James. Her stomach plummeted and she suddenly felt like she was going to be sick.

“Alexandra…why all the secrecy?”

She had had enough; reaching downward she pulled the remnants of her shoes off her feet.

The crowd began to push in; the screaming grew louder.

She ripped off her coat and poised herself to take off.

The screaming had reached a fevered pitch, the cameras flashed brighter, the crowd had grown bigger.

“Alexandra…why all the LIES?”

She had lied to James and he had betrayed her in return.

Tears streaked down her already wet cheeks.

And then she did what she had been dying to do for a week…she ran. Pelting forward, she managed to bowl over a few reporters along the way as camera flashes trailed her progress.

Her heart pounded; tears and sweat mingled downward on her cheek, and her bare feet splashed around the muddy ground carrying her away from the mess that she had made.

It was over, her secret was out…

A/N: I am too afraid to ask…how terribly do you hate me right now? Yes, James is a fool and Cali is a bitch, but Alex had to go out with a bang (or in this case a shrieking tumble to the muddy ground). So I would really like to know what you think of this latest twist. For those of you who are calm enough to read, here is a sneak peak.


Sneak peak:

James froze and he realized just how deluded Cali truly was. Then, he laughed the most infuriating little chuckle that it made her snap.

“What the hell are you laughing about?!”

“You selfish bitch…you did this for you…because Alex is ten times prettier, smarter, and nicer than you will ever be,” he said in barely more than a whisper.

He turned on his heel and walked back in the direction of his bed, still laughing hysterically.











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Chapter 18: Chapter Eighteen: Fallout
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A/N: Chapter eighteen is here! Not the last, but we are certainly getting there! Just a forewarning, this chapter is a bit sad; it is entirely necessary, but still it’s sad. Thanks for reading! Please remember to review!

Chapter Eighteen:
Fallout
Photobucket


Rana Elemere Callista Wood had her first modeling job at the age of five. By fifteen, she was a household name and had a fortune in the bank. Her childhood had been marred by fame and was far from normal; she never went to school…she had private tutors, she never lived a day without the press in her face, and she had never learned to ride a broomstick. It sounds stupid but it was one of the thing she regretted in life.

When she had met Oliver Wood in her twenties, she worried how the press would react; but by the second date, she could care less. It was hard to describe their relationship; she was elegant, slim, and reserved; he was loud, brutish, and passionate. But in a blink of an eye, she was married and pregnant. Her first child was a boy and her second a girl. By that point, her career as a model had all but faded so she redirected her talents and started a magazine.

Raising her children was an expected difficult responsibility and she struggled to balance it with her new career and the career of her husband…but she managed. When it came to her children, she wasn’t all that worried by Ace; it was on Alex she blamed the premature worry wrinkles. Alex was awkward, sarcastic, and constantly attracting negative attention…intentionally or not. It wasn’t until the pervious summer that she had realized just how much her daughter hated being in the spotlight.

When the time came to let Alex go and allow her to attend Hogwarts, Rana was less than thrilled. She knew Alex would change, grow and become her own person, but never did she imagine that she would dye her hair pink and date James Potter. She shuddered to think of the things that had been going on without her knowledge, but even worse it had all ended up in the press.

In the end, Mrs. Wood was rich, famous, beautiful, and currently sitting in her daughter’s empty dorm room waiting for her return.

~


Alex could hear people attempting to run after her. She could still make out the desperate snap of cameras trying to capture her flight. So she ran harder, faster, her lungs burned from the workload and soon everything fell away. The gates to the school loomed closer and her swift feet carried her through them. She passed a group of gaping third-years.

She ran up the steps of the school, up the stairs to Gryffindor tower, up the stairs to her dorm, not for a moment pausing for a break. The door burst magically open before her and she came to a skidding halt. Her chest was heaving, her bare feet bruised and muddy, and her knees gave way. She hit the floor with a thud and lay there not wanting to move.

When her breath returned to normal and her surroundings came into sharper focus, Alex felt the extra presence in the room. She sat up and took in the slim figure of her mother who seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. Mrs. Wood turned toward her daughter, took in her drenched muddy clothes, bare feet, and sweaty face, “Alexandra what on earth have you been doing?”

Alex took one look at her mother and at once began to sob. Hot tears spilled down her cheeks as she walked forward and collapsed in her mother’s arms. She clung on like her life depended on it…and in that moment it felt like it truly did. Mrs. Wood rubbed her daughter’s back and waited for the tears to subside; when they had, she shifted so her muddy daughter was sitting beside her.

“Alexandra…honey, what happened?”

Alex sighed, staring at the floor with marked determination but then replied, “He told them…”

“Who told what dear?”

“James told the press who I really was…”

Mrs. Wood knew that her daughter had come to the wrong conclusion. She knew for a fact the source of the chaos was a fifth-year from Slytherin named Sapphire. But she made no attempt to correct her daughter; her confusion would prevent her from seeing James again and that was better than her knowing the truth.

Mrs. Wood mimicked her daughter’s sigh and mumbled, “Do you want to go home?”

It was more than she had hoped for…she had been prepared for a fight.

Alex nodded mutely and Mrs. Wood led her by the hand from the dorm room into the crowded room of first and second years below. The news was spreading faster than what she had imagined. Alex was about to leave through the portrait hole when she caught Lily from the corner of her eye. The young girl was pale, and silent…something welled up inside of Alex; anger, sadness, frustration, but before she could sort it out she was pulled from the common room.

Alexandra walked in a haze of confusion; the tap of her mother’s high-heel shoes echoing throughout her brain like cymbals against the cold stone floor, making her bare feet tingle. Her mind suddenly became clear when they had reached their intended destination; the stone gargoyle in front of the Headmistress’ office. The walk up the spiral stairs felt like a death march; the thud of her bare feet marking the steady drum beat.

If Professor McGonagall was surprised to see her, she showed no sign of it.

“M-Mrs. Wood…what are you doing here?”

At that moment a chorus of loud screeches drew all three pairs of eyes to the ceiling of the office. Balanced off the picture frames, rafters, and every other sturdy surface were owls of every shape and size. Evidently, Professor McGonagall had woke that morning, to a fury of letters all asking on comments of the Alexandra Wood scandal. Judging by the four dozen or so owls still in the office, they weren’t going until they had received some sort of comment.

Alexandra fell limply into a chair; it was official…her life had finally spun out of control with no hopes of being reigned in anytime soon. Mrs. Wood and the Headmistress followed her lead and took seats in utter silence. Mrs. Wood’s mind was working fast…it was time for some heavy damage control, “What will you do about the birds?”

Professor McGonagall sighed and looked up, “I have been trying to get rid of them most of the morning.”

“If it doesn’t work?” Mrs. Wood inquired thoughtfully.

“A wet start firework then…” she mumbled beneath her breath but the conversation did not continue.

The Headmistress must have known what was coming because she said quite suddenly, “Miss Wood, you do realize it is not necessary for you to leave…”

The statement was met with silence and a disapproving glare from Mrs. Wood. Alex mutely shook her head and reached forward and grabbed a quill and parchment from the desk. The two older women were bickering again and took no notice. Alex began to scribble the words that would describe the strange tangle of emotions that mixed inside of her.

With a flourish she signed the letter and folded it in her hands. The argument seemed to be ending.

“Alex will be returning home. Her grades are good enough to finish her classes via owl…and she will take her OWLs at home with a private proctor,” reiterated Mrs. Wood.

Professor McGonagall nodded and turned to Alex, “Alex dear, go pack up your belongings and say goodbye; you can floo home from my office.”

All three women stood at once and Mrs. Wood spoke, “Alexandra, I am going to head home to do some damage control…I will be there when you floo.”

Her cold hands gripped her daughter’s and she headed to the fireplace, disappearing in a whirl of green flames. Alexandra turned to the Headmistress extending the folded piece of parchment.

“You can copy this and give each owl a copy…that should make them all leave…”

Professor McGonagall accepted the piece of parchment and tried again, “Alex, you don’t have to leave…”

Alex shook her head firmly; she was done inflicting herself upon the population of Hogwarts. Silently, she turned and left the office; one thing was for sure James, Cali, Chase, and Lyle would be very pleased to see her go.

After a quick trip, Alex landed back in front of portrait hole; a tangible buzz of excitement could be heard on the other side of the painting. She muttered the password and took a deep breath…this was going to be harder than she thought.

Then bravely, head held high, she stepped into the common room. Hogsmeade must have been nearly empty because every Gryffindor was waiting on the other side. They looked frozen in the act of a silent scream, apparently now that she was in their presence it was too foreboding to scream. No one moved, no one breathed, as every eye watched Alex glide across the floor and up the spiral stair. As she snapped the door shut to her dorm room, an eruption of noise made the floorboards shudder.

~


James rolled over in his sleep; the loud roar from below disturbing him. He had been dreaming about someone. Rubbing his head, a clearer picture of Alex invaded his mind’s eye. Sitting up, he tried to banish the thoughts of his dream by shaking his head. His raging headache pulsed stronger beneath his skull and he fell back against his pillows.

In his dream, he had forgiven Alex and they were dating again, but better yet they were friends. He made her laugh and she made his stomach tumbled into knots. Then something clicked into his mind. It seemed so obvious; he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t seen it before…it was going to take more than a lie to rid himself of his feelings for Alex. He had wondered why he had felt so conflicted. He was sure that his anger towards her actions were more than justified, but she looked so miserable that he could barely resist taking her in his arms and telling her that nothing mattered.

He was ready to forgive Alex…but not ready to tell her that. He would make things right but first he really did have to find Cali and find out what he had done last night. He was completely robbed of any memory of yesterday and the guilty nag at the pit of his stomach told him he had done something he shouldn’t have. But that would all have to wait because at that moment he had a headache to sleep off.

~


Halie and Naomi were waiting for Alex; sitting side by side on her bed. Alex closed the door and stopped dead at the sight of them…they were going to make this difficult. Without speaking, she walked to her wardrobe, pulling out the black skirt and white blouse that she hadn’t touched since her train ride back on September first. She removed any sign of her pink hair as she placed the drab heels on her feet and kicked open her trunk. She was about to drop her first arm load of clothes in when Halie spoke, “Alex, what are you doing?!”

She didn’t even look up as she grabbed the remainder of her clothes and threw them haphazardly into her trunk. Her determination was wavering and she needed to get out of here before it broke completely.

“I know that you’re not going to leave…not after everything that has happened!” said Naomi severely.

Alex was still silent as she chucked the belongings on her desk into her trunk one by one.

Halie stood up and said, “What about Quidditch…O.W.L’s…James…us?” she added the last one quietly.

Alex tossed the school bag in her trunk and looked around; none of her belongings were in sight. She kicked the lid of the trunk closed and locked it. As she stood, Naomi spoke, “Alex, say something…”

Alex took the risk and looked up at her friends; they had tears in their eyes and Halie rolled Alex’s missing rain hat in her hands.

“I-I am sorry…” Alex said in little more than a whisper. Then, unable to maintain her composure she donned her coat and left the dorm pulling her trunk behind her. She was down the spiral stair in a moment, and then found herself amidst a crowd of her fellow students. They stared at her in awe; her hair once more in dark curls convinced them of what seemed impossible.

Most of the Gryffindors wondered how they had been so blind the entire year; that their vivacious blonde quidditch hero was really a famous celebrity that they all had admired at some point. And then she was gone; almost as though she hadn’t been there at all.

Alexandra marched in the direction of the Headmistress’s office; each second she grew more desperate to be free from the stone walls of the school. She was up the stairs to the office in a moment and then she was standing with a handful of silvery powder in her hand. Professor McGonagall stood and watched with curiosity lighting her eyes. Most of the owls were gone but the evidence of their presence was overwhelming.

Alex sighed and turned to look at the fireplace; she could stop, stop and turn around and try to make this work. Then images raced though her mind, Naomi crying, Lily sad, Halie disbelieving, Cali happy, and James upset. Without looking backwards, she tossed a handful of powder into the flames and then she was gone…and somehow the school seemed different…less exciting.

~


James couldn’t keep sleeping; something was nagging at the back of his mind refusing to let him in peace. He threw on a ripped shirt that matched his old sweat pants with perfection and headed in the direction of the kitchens. The feeling still called for his attention; it was like he was forgetting to do something important.

At first, he was thrown off by how many people were in the common room. But then he realized that it was raining and they probably decided to come back early. No, now what he found strange was that they were all staring in the same direction. He saw a trunk thud out the portrait hole and the painting closed with a snap.

A low hum for conversation filled the space but no one seemed able to move. Maybe it was just one of those days he shrugged it off. He was about to open the portrait hole when suddenly someone shouted, “JAMES POTTER!”

He spun of the spot when suddenly something stomped down hard on his foot. He jumped up and down on one foot cradling the other in his arms, “What the bloody hell was that for?”

Halie was a few inches from where he stood, “You couldn’t just leave it be…You had to chase away one of my BEST FRIENDS!”

She was about to hit him again but Naomi caught her wrist just in time.

“What- are- you- talking about!” shouted James back still in pain.

“Give it a break, James…like you don’t know.” seethed Naomi.

“Does this have to do with Alex?” He truly had no idea what was going on.

“You are an idiot! Of course it has to do with Alex you ASS!”

“What have I done NOW?!” James exclaimed with frustration.

Halie went to hit him again but Naomi pushed his bouncing figure backwards into the portrait hole. He stumbled trying to regain balance as Naomi shouted, “You’re so egocentric that you went and contacted every reporter on this side of the Alps and told them where to find her…you practically fed her to the DOGS!”

James gapped mouth opened wide; eyes suddenly with recognition. The horrible sensation nibbling at his subconscious…and through the drunken haze he remembered the events of the previous night.

“W-where is she?!” He had to find her and explain.

“She already left. Thanks to you she is no longer one of our classmates.”

“McGonagall made her leave?” he asked astonished.

“No, but she couldn’t very well stay here with all these idiots gapping at her all the time,” she indicated the silent crowd.

“How long ago did she leave?”

“She left right before you came down…it’s too LATE!” she shouted as James threw himself through the portrait hole; but he was too far away to hear.

James bounded in the direction of Professor McGonagall’s office and was up the stairs and through the door before the Headmistress had even noticed that she had a visitor.

He watched the green flames twinkle and die in the grate.

“JAMES!” Came the delayed shout from the Professor, but he didn’t hear as he was already halfway out the door.

James couldn’t bring himself to stop; horrified by what he had done, with the consequences of his actions. He blindly hurled himself in the direction of the Slytherin common room. He knew where it was but he had no idea what the password was. So he stood there; his anger increasing exponentially with each passing heartbeat.

After fifteen minutes, a timid looking third-year girl emerged.

“Hey, do you know Cali Sapphire?!” he shouted, scaring the poor kid who nodded mutely.

He continued, “Can you go get her for me?”

Terror shone in her eyes for a few moments then she turned heel and headed back into the common room. The minutes seemed to trickle by more slowly. Then, when James had given up hope, Cali emerged.

“James-” but he cut her off.

“I hope you’re HAPPY!”

“Of course, I am happy, you’re here silly…” she tried to play with a hole in his shirt.

He was repulsed and grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her to an arms’ length away. “You hated her so much that you had to go and ruin her life here?!”

She pouted in response, “I thought you would be happy the little liar was gone.”

“Don’t call her that!” he shouted.

“Why not? It’s true…you even said it yourself last night how much she hurt you!” she was on her tiptoes her fists clenched.

“Of course, I did,” he spat, “I was drunk!”

“You should thank me James!” she was hysterical; “I did it for you!”

James froze and he realized just how deluded Cali truly was. Then he laughed the most infuriating little chuckle that it made her snap.

“What the hell are you laughing about?!”

“You selfish bitch…you did this for you…because Alex is ten times prettier, smarter, and nicer than you will ever be.” he said it barely more than a whisper.

He turned on his heel and walked back in the direction of his bed, still laughing hysterically. Tears formed at the corners of his eyes, he could blame Cali but the truth was that it was mostly his fault. He looked back on the past few days with remorse, with a little help from Cali Sapphire he managed to run Alex from his life.

His laughter continued until he fell asleep where he was haunted by dreams of girl who could never quite be his.

~


The sun suddenly peaked over the mountains; the brilliant pink streaks lighting her room and dazzling her eyes. Alex was already awake…or more accurately, she had never fallen asleep. She sat in bed; knees to her chest wondering how exactly she had managed to end up back here. Her old room seemed to blink at her with a mocking smile, as if to say, “did you really think you could escape?!”

The horrible reality of what was happening tore at her mind, leaving large raw gruesome wounds in her mind. She had put so much work into her new life and now it was over…it seemed hardly worth it. There were sounds of movement downstairs and she decided to see who else couldn’t sleep; anything to get her mind off of what had happened.

Creeping down the stairs, she peaked into the kitchen. Her father sat at the kitchen island sipping coffee, the paper before him. Blinking back at Alex was her own frightened picture, mud-soaked and embarrassed. Beside her picture was a handwritten letter. She didn’t have to read it; she already knew what it said by heart.

~


It was one of the gloomiest Sundays Hogwarts had seen in months. As people talked brightly about leaving for spring break later that day, some of the students lacked the same enthusiasm. Halie and Naomi sat together in silence and shock; James further down the table had his head buried in his hands. Cali Sapphire, who had had a complete breakdown the night before, was sedated in the hospital wing.

There was a familiar whoosh overhead as owls brought in the morning post. Numerous copies of the Daily Prophet descended among the students and the hall was filled with the rustling of paper.

After a few moments, a dull murmur ran up and down the tables. James only made out one thing…Alexandra. His head snapped upward and he snatched the Prophet from the nearest first-year. On the front page was Alex blinking back at him serenely… but what caught his eye was the letter beside it so he began to read


Dear Reader,

My name is Alexandra Wood…or some of you may know me as Alex Cunnings. If I tried to explain why I have behaved the way I did the past few months, I am sure that very little of what I said would make sense. I have grown up my entire life in the vast shadows of my parents. I was given the choice to attend Hogwarts and I took the opportunity to be a “normal” kid.

The lies I told were inexcusable, but I will never regret them because I have lived more in the last seven months than I have in my entire life. I made true friends, real enemies, have fallen off a broomstick from fifty feet, and have fallen in love.

Now I leave Hogwarts, my presence a difficult distraction. I hope my fellow students forgive me for the disruption and pain I have caused and I encourage the press to leave the school alone. I am returning to my parents’ home and it is there you can snap your pictures and shout your questions. I would ask for my privacy but know that it would a futile waste of energy.

Yours truly,
Alexandra Wood




James looked up from the letter and smirked to himself. Alex had somehow managed to get the final word in despite the fact that the letter was followed by a three page article about her latest hysterical, immature, attention-seeking, stunt. From down the table, Halie and Naomi wore similar expressions; they had an ounce of hope that their true friend, Alex, still existed.

~


Alex was sitting with her knees to her chest, protecting herself from her Mother’s incensed wave of anger. The swell of words broke and licked the edges of the living room, slowly seeping into the house’s inhabitants.

“Here I was trying to do damage control…and you are out giving free press releases to every newspaper from here to Sweden!”

Alexandra didn’t respond eyes locked on the magnificent white shag carpet that covered the living room floor. She had expected her mother to react this way, but her words just made everything seem so much worse.

“And now you sit here moping…not saying a single word!” Mrs. Wood continued to seethe.

Alexandra sighed and refocused her stare the beams in the ceiling. She wanted to escape; she wanted to be alone in the quiet so she could think and figure out where she fit. It wasn’t at Hogwarts, and it certainly wasn’t here, but what else was there? Was she always destined to be a square peg in a round hole?

“Would you mind explaining to me what exactly you were playing at with these stunts?”

Silence…

“The hair?” she spit the words out like they tasted bad.

Alexandra didn’t respond.

“JAMES POTTER!” she screeched.

Alexandra flinched violently and her eyes focused on the floor again. The depression she had been feebly holding at bay for the last few days came crashing down at her feet. She felt like she was drowning in it unable to come up for air. She didn’t want to try anymore, she didn’t want to be…anything, she just wanted to stop fighting. Something slow and deliberate dripped into her mind…she could stop trying…she could stop fighting…it would be so easy.

“So you have absolutely nothing to say for yourself?”

But it was too late Alex was gone…she had decided to stop fighting. In her act of complete surrender, she allowed her consciousness to leak from her body. Her mind no longer existed on a level that she understood and it was quiet. The peace and freedom that she had been looking for was so easily in reach she just had to let herself slip beneath the surface and get it. Only one thing could pull her from this state, but it was too painful to think of…so she didn’t.

Mrs. Wood took a few moments to regain her composure and remained silent as she watched Alex sulk on the couch. Her anger had pretty much evaporated and she stood and went about her business. Two hours later, she came out of the kitchen and realized that Alex hadn’t moved an inch.

Dinner came and went Alex sitting morosely at her spot at the table not contributing. When the table had been cleared, Alex returned to her spot on the couch and continued to stare silently at the ceiling. Ace was leaving the kitchen to return to his bedroom, “Ace…”

“What’s up mom?”

“Why don’t you ask your sister to play quidditch in the backyard?”

“Mom…look at her that won’t be any fun-”

“Just do it, ACE!”

“Fine!” he threw his hands up and jumped into the living room.

Mrs. Wood stood in the doorway as she watched Ace approach his little sister.

“Come on, little sis, up you get!” and when Alexandra didn’t respond he picked her up and dragged her across the living room by the ankle.

Alex didn’t blink, yell, or even register that she had been moved from the couch. Ace was about to drag her up the stairs when his mother spoke, “Ace, don’t be ridiculous…put her back!”

“But you said-” he looked confused.

“Just do it!”

Ace sighed and rolled Alexandra back to the couch looking frustrated. Now Mrs. Wood was watching Alex from the stairs; her elbows resting on her knees she wondered what her daughter was thinking. When eleven o’clock was looming closer, she pulled a blanket out of the closet and draped it over her daughter’s still frame.

Sure enough, when she got up in the morning to turn on the coffeemaker, Alexandra was in the same spot with bags under her eyes. She looked at her husband, “Oliver…what do we do?”

“She hasn’t moved at all?”

Mrs. Wood silently shook her head.

“Has she said anything?”

“No,” she responded weakly.

“Maybe we should get a doctor to make sure she’s okay?”

An hour later, the family doctor walked through the front door; his brow already creased. He poked and prodded, cast spells, and muttered beneath his breath. Heaving a sigh, he stood up and found Mr. and Mrs. Wood sitting silently close by.

“So what is it…is there something wrong with her?”

“Nothing medically,” the doctor responded quietly.

“Then why can’t she talk or move?” Mrs. Wood screeched and moved toward the doctor. Oliver placed a hand on her arm and she sat back down.

“It’s not that she can’t…it’s more like she…won’t”

This was met by silence as they all took a moment to look at Alexandra.

“Look, it seems like she has been through a lot in the last few weeks maybe she just needs time…” He had read the morning paper.

“So we do nothing?” Mrs. Wood was near hysterical again.

“Maybe if you get some of her friends to come and sit with her…but there is really nothing wrong with her. I suspect that she will talk when she is ready to.”

The doctor stood and left the house and everyone was silent once more. Mrs. Wood considered herself to be a very composed person but this was driving her crazy she just had to make her daughter talk.

“Alex?”

Silence…

“Alex, if you talk to me we can go shopping?”

Well that was kind of stupid…she knew very well that Alexandra hated shopping.

“Friends, you want to see your friends?” she asked hysterically.

“But you don’t have friends…or any that I know of.” She was thinking out loud now.

“Wait, what about those two girls at the party…what were their names?”

She couldn’t remember and she threw herself back into a nearby chair. How could she not remember the names of her daughter’s friends?!

“There names are Naomi Longbottom and Halie Weasley…” came Ace’s voice.

“How do you know that?”

“I am friends with Naomi.”

“Can you get them here?”

“Sure mom, but maybe you should just give Alex a little time…I am sure that she’ll snap out of it.”

“Please just get them here!” she said softy and put her head between her hands. Lunch time neared and Mrs. Wood made a sandwich and placed it before Alexandra who hadn’t eaten since she had returned home. Around one the door bell rang and Mr. Wood opened it. Halie and Naomi walked in looking rain soaked and scared. They took off their coats and sat on either side of the couch.

Mrs. Wood didn’t want to leave but allowed herself to be lead away by her husband. Quiet voices rose from the living room for most of the afternoon but when it was time for the girls to leave they looked nearly as dejected as she felt. She gave each of them a tight hug before they disappeared out the front door.

Mrs. Wood removed the untouched sandwich from the coffee table and made dinner for the rest of the family. That night she slept on the couch, silently praying that her daughter would wake up from her trance. When the sun cracked the horizon the next morning, she was getting beyond desperate. Standing, she walked up the stairs and entered her daughter’s bedroom. In the very corner of the big closet, she found the dirty mud-caked sneakers.

She ran back down the stairs clutching them to her chest. When she was standing in the living room, she dangled the disgusting things before her daughter’s face.

“Why don’t you go for a run Alex? You love to run…running always makes you feel better!”

She was beginning to choke up. The seconds ticked by and Alexandra made no move to respond.

“Arghhh!” And with all her might she chucked the sneakers against the wall, leaving one perfect muddy shoe print on the clean paint.

“What do you want?! Come on, you have to tell me what’s wrong!” And that’s when she began sobbing.

Shaking, she sat on the couch and pulled her daughter into her arms, rocking her gently.

“Is it Hogwarts? You can go back to school if you want…I won’t stop you.” She sobbed harder.

“I can get James!” her desperation had reached its peak.

“I am sure he wants to talk to you…especially since that Sapphire girl told the whole world where you were!”

Every muscle in Alex’s body tensed. but Mrs. Wood was to preoccupied to notice. She continued to sob, “I swear if you love him that much I won’t stop you from seeing him. I’ll call and get him here right now!”

Her hot tears slid down her cheeks and landed on Alex’s forehead.

“Cali Sapphire?” Alex managed to whisper.

Mrs. Wood froze and stared down at her daughter, “Oh honey; What about her?”

“Cali told the press?” The words were weak and died on her lips.

“Yes, honey… didn’t you know that?”

Tears began to well in Alexandra’s eyes, “I-I thought,” she choked back another sob, “t-that it was J-James.”

“No, honey…It was Cali…”

Alex seemed frozen again and Mrs. Wood, who was beyond the ability to compose herself, began to panic.

“Alex, don’t do that…say something…Do you want me to get James.”

Alex shook her head weakly, “No, mom, I am fine…I-I think…I mean I just want… I’m going to bed…I-if you don’t mind?”

Silent tears were still streaming down Alex’s cheeks and Mrs. Wood nodded, “Sure honey, go get some sleep.”

Stiff and exhausted, Alex walked up the stairs towards her bedroom. When everything had gone silent she tucked herself beneath the covers. Then with little difficulty she fell asleep; only one thought plaguing her mind…So it was Cali who had told…but someone had to have told her and Alex’s odds were on James. The betrayal still stung.




A/N: Okay, so things in Alex’s life aren’t too good, but look at it this way: there is nowhere to go but up…almost. **smirks** It was rough, but Cali has almost gotten what she deserves and James has finally removed his head from his own arse. I say this all in attempt to make you realize that despite the fact that right now everything sucks…it will most likely get better. So, for your never-ending perseverance and patience, I give you this little gift.

Sneak Peak:

Alex straightened up and a new agony seared through her brain, and for one solid second it played across her face for him to see.

“Come on Alex, you don’t want to this…” he chastised, letting go of her hand.

Her brain took a second to unstuck, but as it did her face fell into a menacing scowl. The wall was gone and so was the pain…there was nothing left; nothing but sarcasm and fame.






PLEASE LEAVE ME A REVIEW!


Chapter 19: Chapter Nineteen: The Importance of Pie
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

***REVISED! FOR THOSE YOU YOU WHO READ AND NOTED THE HORRIBLE GRAMMAR.... IN MY RUSH TO PUT THE CHAPTER UP I PUT THE UN-BETA'D VERSION...IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE STORY JUST HOW IT READS... SO SORRY!***

A/N: Ahhhhhhhhh! Its me, finally here with another update! Not much to say other than to apologize for the hideously long wait… I would defend myself but that would just delay your reading longer… so without further ado here is the next chapter! Remember to R&R

Chapter Nineteen:
The Importance of Pie
Photobucket


Alexandra had been home for a few weeks. She had contented herself playing quidditch with her dad, trips with her mother, and the regular assignments sent by owl. Halie and Naomi kept up a stream of letters; to which she replied only halfheartedly. The letters were full of news about school and the latest gossip. They were careful not to mention James and were only too delighted to announce that Cali was hospitalized temporarily for a total mental breakdown.

It was early, on the last Saturday in May, and Alexandra sat alone in the silent living room surrounded by books. She had mentally confined all her emotions to one corner of her brain and cemented them behind a six foot wall. With everything carefully put away, she realized she could continue with her day; the only side effect…a hollow feeling in her chest. She hadn’t really realized how much of her own life had been wrapped up in Alex Cunnings until she had to push it all back to that small dark place in her mind.

The familiar empty feeling was washing through her as she sat, silent and tortured. She had gained so much over the past few months and had lost it all in an instant. Her public “outing” had taken more than it appeared on the surface. She felt hollow and listless drifting on the edge of who she used to be; but pretended to be something she had never been in the first place…she pretended to be fine.

Mrs. Wood’s entrance broke her daughter’s trance-like state. Her mother looked nervous, but who could really blame her. Alexandra and her mother had reached a new agreement. Mrs. Wood had finally grasped how different her daughter was from Ace and even herself. Alexandra would happily melt into the shadows after this latest scandal, not for a second missing the attention or the press it had given her. Alexandra didn’t want to be famous she wanted to “normal” and Mrs. Wood was okay with that. With this new agreement between them, their long since broken relationship was beginning to mend.

With this in mind, Mrs. Wood went to say something that was sure to sever all the recently healed bonds.

“Alexandra-” But then she let her jaw snap closed and she turned heel and walked into the kitchen.

Unthinking, Alexandra stood and followed her mother, who was now starting breakfast.

“What’s up mom?”

“Oh…nothing” But the shake in her voice gave her away.

“Mom?” Alexandra questioned severely.

“Icanetyouatorfoheowandyavetoakehathogwarts” Her mother replied, but it all came out all as one sound

Alexandra paused and looked up, “what…?”

Mrs. Wood sighed, set down what she was working on, and repeated, “I can’t get you a proctor for your O.W.L.’s and you will need to take them at Hogwarts…”

The Wood kitchen was silent for a moment.

“You have got to be kidding me!” said Alexandra in disgust.

“I am sorry, Alexandra dear…there is just nothing we can do.”

“This can’t be happening!”

“I have tried everything…and I mean everything,” continued Mrs. Wood.

“I’m not going!” exclaimed Alexandra.

“Don’t be ridiculous! You are not going to fall behind an entire year just because you don’t want to go back!” Mrs. Wood said after slamming a drawer.

“So you’re telling me there isn’t a single private proctor available next week?”

“Not a single one. If you want to take your O.W.L.’s, you have to take them at Hogwarts.”

“I won’t go…”

“You are going.”

“Everyone will stare me.”

“Everyone already stares at you.”

“Cali will be there.”

“You have to face Cali sometime.”

“Can I hit her?”
“Alexandra!” Mrs. Wood put down the knife she was using.

“What about James…?”

“What about him?”

“He’s going to be there…”

“Along with all your other classmates, dear.”

Alexandra groaned and allowed her head to thump against the wooden kitchen table.

“Don’t do that to your head honey you are going to get a bruise…”

“So…”

“You really want to take your O.W.L.’s with a bruise on your forehead… what would James think?” said Mrs. Wood in mock horror.

“Ha Ha…”

“Just set the table for lunch and stop whining.”

“I am not whining,” Alexandra complained.

The pair broke off, laughing for a moment, and Alexandra began to set the table.

“I am sure it won’t be that bad, honey.”

Alexandra stopped and stared at her mother, “They’re going to stare at me like some kind of circus freak.”

“Well, if the shoe fits…”

“Mom!”

“What…?”

~


Alexandra was dressed in her old uniform; it felt kind of strange now. She was sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace with her arms and legs crossed.

“Alexandra, please don’t be ridiculous,” said Mrs. Wood, tapping her foot impatiently.

“I don’t want to go…”

“I know.”

“So that doesn’t matter to you?”

“Not really.”

“Mom, I really don’t want to go.”

“Alexandra Callista Wood, you have exactly three seconds to floo to Hogwarts or I am going to take you there myself.”

“But look at me, Mom. I think I am coming down with dragon pox or something,” Alexandra tried in vain.

“You were vaccinated for dragon pox.”

“You know those things don’t always work, I could still have-”

“ALEXANDRA!” Mrs. Wood fumed.

Alexandra thought of rebellion for one second before her mother took a step toward her, “Fine, fine, fine; I’m going!”

She stood, crossed the room in two steps, and threw a handful of powder into the fire. She turned to her mother and seethed, “Happy?”

“Ecstatic…”

And with a whirl of ash, Alexandra was on her way back to the one place she had hoped never to see again. What she expected to see on the other side, she wasn’t sure, but what she saw was surprising. As she stepped out of the stone grate, coughing, her eyes fell on Halie and Naomi, who were sitting in chairs by the fireplace she’d just exited.

“Merlin…It took you long enough!” Sighed Naomi.

“Did you know that I was vaccinated for dragon pox?”

“Ohh the horror,” laughed Halie.

“I know…what kind of parent protects their child from a deadly disease?” Echoed Naomi.

“But it blew my whole ‘I can’t take my O.W.L.’s because I’m sick excuse’ It was like my best excuse!”

“Like your mom would fall for that,” said Halie doubtfully.

“Well, I had to try…what are you doing here anyway?”

“We go to school here…what’s your excuse,” said Naomi with one eyebrow raised.

“Very funny,” Alexandra rolled her eyes.

“We thought that you would want some backup,” said Halie.

“Thanks,” sighed Alexandra.

“Okay, enough with the dramatics…we have tests to fail people. We can’t be late!”

One by one, the girls filed out of the headmistress’s office and down the stairs to the school below.

“So how many people know that I am coming back?” Alexandra wasn’t quite sure that she wanted to know, but she asked anyway.

“No one…and it’ll probably take a day to catch on because of the different hair and all…”

They walked the rest of the way in silence and, much sooner than Alexandra was prepared for she was waiting for, the doors to the great hall started to open. Slowly, she scanned the hall…so far so good; half-hidden by Halie and Naomi, no one had detected her yet. The sounds of the ancient wooden doors echoed around the hall but as Alexandra turned to look forward she caught the eye of James, who was gaping at her open-mouthed.

Alexandra glowered at him; hoping he would get the signal that coming up to her wasn’t his best option. On queue, James’s mouth snapped closed and he turned to face forward…like he had never seen her. A tiny fissure, to small to see, appeared on Alexandra’s mental wall; it may have been small but it still made her six feet of protection give a nasty throb. Okay, charms…think charms she chanted to herself mentally. She was about to take one of the most important exams of her educational career and she could not afford to be preoccupied.

No more or less than three hours later, the test was called to a halt and the occupants dismissed from the hall. Alexandra had snagged the farthest seat from the front; this way, she was able to swiftly jump from her seat and race toward the door. She got lucky. Alexandra, Halie, and Naomi reached the headmistress’s office seconds before all the other classes let out for lunch. Professor McGonagall had arranged for the girls to eat lunch in her office…and inside was a delicious looking platter of sandwiches.

Lunch went by quickly…too quickly. Once again, she found herself waiting in the classroom beside the great hall. Some stood in small groups chatting, others were cramming last minute spells in, and Alexandra stood crunched in the quietest corner avoiding detection. The room was quiet until suddenly, a loud cold voice broke across the space. It was a voice that could only belong to one person…Cali Sapphire.

“Well, look who it is…Little miss lie-a-lot,” Cali cornered Alexandra as everyone turned to look in her direction.

At once, there was a collective gasp and even the last minute crammers turned to whisper to their neighbors.

“Don’t you have someone else’s life to ruin?” asked Alexandra calmly.

“Why do that when this is so much more fun…?”

Alexandra pulled out her wand and Cali flinched; backing away slowly.

“Alexandra Wood…” called out one of the proctors.

“Relax. Sapphire, you’re so not worth it.”

Placing the wand back in her pocket, Alexandra stepped around Cali and towards the person who had called her name. When she was done passing her exam with flying colors, Alexandra snuck back up to the headmistress’s office and flooed home. Well, one day down…four more to go.

~


The rest of the week followed the same basic pattern; Alexandra flooed to school, pushed through a horde of awed students, took her exams, and left. She gave up eating in Professor McGonagall’s office and ate with everyone in the great hall. In the afternoon, Alexandra would wait to take the next part of the exam and Cali would say some snotty remark about her uniform or her hair.

By day three, most of the fifth year students had realized in the “Alexandra + Hogwarts” equation, it was Cali screwing up the outcome. And that is when things started to happen to Cali…someone tripped her in lunch on Thursday, causing her to spill soup down her front; someone charmed her prefects’ badge to read, “Queen Bitch;” and the antics continued all the way until Friday.

Alexandra sat quietly in lunch, surrounded by a few more people than she was used to. From across the hall, she saw Cali stand and immediately collide with a fifth-year Hufflepuff, who for some unknown reason was carrying an entire pie. The hideous shriek that left Cali’s snarled lips was cut sort when someone whispered in Alexandra’s ear.

“You know they’re doing that for you, right?”

Alexandra whipped around to find James crouched behind her, “what are you talking about, Potter?”

He frowned at the use of his surname; “Everyone realized that Cali was the one who caused you to leave…”

“So?” Alexandra bit back; he was far too close…her carefully constructed wall gave another throb and her breath caught in her throat.

“So…they realized on Monday that you weren’t going to fight back; and now they’re fighting back for you.”

He said it like it was the simplest conclusion that any normal person would come up with. Alexandra turned in her seat as the fifth-year Hufflepuff returned to his seat and gave her two thumbs up before sitting down and joining his friends. James’s warm breath was once more in her ear, “See…I told you.”

She spun in her seat; only to find that James was already jogging toward the hall. A quarter-sized piece of rubble dislodged from its important place in her protective mental wall; since when had anyone exacted revenge on Alexandra’s behalf…let alone some random Hufflepuff she vaguely remembered tripping over in the library. The wall pulsed again and Alexandra carefully pushed against it, willing it to stay in place.

She had finished her History of Magic lesson earlier that morning and had only her Astronomy final later that night. She half-contemplated going home between the exams but realized that she missed Halie and Naomi’s presence, so she decided to stay and wait it out in the common room.

As she entered the familiar and cozy red and gold space, an earthquake ran the length of the protected corner of her mind. She truly did miss this place…studying by the fire while James snored, practicing quidditch with Lily, and attempting to convince Halie and Naomi that they really did need to study. The rumbling ceased, only to be replaced by a tsunami of emotions that battered the carefully built wall from the other direction.

She sank into the closest armchair and put her head in her hands, willing her heart rate to return to normal. There was a tiny hiss as a penny-sized hole opened in the wall and allowed a flow of memories to pool at her feet.

“Alex?” The unsure voice of Halie rippled through her head.

Mentally pushing her finger into the hole, Alexandra stopped the flow of memories and looked up. Naomi and Halie looked at her with concern and Naomi said, “Alex, are you okay?”

Naomi’s voice echoed slightly in Alexandra’s hollow body before she replied, “Yeah, just have a headache.”

Her friends were not fooled by her feeble smile, but decided to let it go anyway. Alexandra shook her head and returned to the present only to find a few dozen eyes following her every move. She sighed internally…was this never going to get any easier?

“Hey, let’s go for a walk around the lake.” Halie suggested.

Alexandra nodded in agreement and headed out the portrait hole with all the eyes following her as she went. Thank Merlin that it was a nice summer day out because Alexandra, Halie, and Naomi were in need of an escape from the sideways glances of the remaining students. They stayed outside until it was time for dinner.

As they entered the hall the Hufflepuff fifth-year from before walked past, waving he said, “Hello Alex.”

From somewhere in her shocked brain, she replied “Hey.”

He beamed from ear to ear as he continued onto the Hufflepuff table. Suddenly, she realized something very strange. While she took in the curious glances from some of the younger students, the amount of people staring at her was drastically reduced. She was becoming old news; to some, this would be sad news but Alexandra couldn’t help but smile…maybe there was hope after all.

Dinner was a pleasant affair; the usual group of students around Alex had receded a few inches and instead of staring at her from the corners of their eyes, they made attempts at small conversations. This was not nearly as unpleasant as she had imagined it would be.

If possible, all the pleasantries were capped when someone from the Gryffindor table hit Cali with a well-aimed Bat-Bogey hex. Cali ran shrieking from the hall as something huge blossomed from her nose. Everyone went silent and turned to stare at Alex as if to gauge her reaction. Alexandra barely noticed as she tipped her head back and gave a pleasant peal of laughter. They seemed to take this as a sign and the entire hall burst into laughter as Professor McGonagall left the Head table and sauntered toward the Gryffindor table.

She paused behind none other than Lily Potter and silently led the smiling girl from the hall by the ear. Lily winked at Alex as she passed to signify that the crime made the punishment worth it. Alex laughed again as the hall returned to its own private conversations and plotting.

By the time her last exam came around, Alex could barely remove the grin that was plastered to her face. She set up her astronomy equipment and began to mentally prepare herself for the exam. Slowly the spaces filled up, all except for one…apparently Cali had not returned from the hospital wing yet. The proctor had begun to hand out tests when someone came stomping up the tower steps. Cali flung herself through the door and went to take the only available space left…the one next to Alexandra.

Alexandra sighed mentally as she registered Cali’s manic and furious grin. Seconds later, she was handed her own paper and she had no choice but to begin her test. Some time later, she had bent to label the planet Venus when someone whispered beside her, “Psst…Wood, I didn’t think you would have the nerve to come back here.”

Every word was laced with venom and Alex continued to stare straight ahead, ignoring the inquiry. A slight layer of rubble fell from her mental wall as it gave a predictably nasty heave. Alexandra tried to hold her hand steady as it began to shake. She was so close to finishing her exam…she just had to hold it in for another twenty minutes.

When the proctor strode past, Cali returned to her own exam and Alexandra furiously began to label everything at the speed of light. After a few moments, Cali leaned towards her again and whispered, “You think it’s funny that you have all your little friends doing your bidding…hexing me, tripping me…What did you do? Bribe them with autographs?”

Alexandra felt Halie stiffen on her other side; apparently she had heard Cali, too. She took a deep breath and continued to work, her handwriting becoming increasingly illegible as a dozen tiny spouts of agony broke through her wall. Only ten more to label, she could handle this. The proctor passed again and Alexandra worked on plugging the holes to no avail as her mind began to flood.

Five more to label…

Four more to label…

“Not that I’ve noticed you were gone…I had my hands full with James. You know, making him feel better after what you did to him,” She hissed slightly louder.

At the sound of his name, it felt like someone had punched her in the stomach; quaffle-sized holes burst through her crumbling wall. She treaded against the mental wave of agony gasping for breath.

Three more…

Two more…

One more…

“But I guess I should really thank you…If you hadn’t made him realize what a lying slut you were, he may have never gotten over you.”

Alexandra finished the last label with a flourish and stood upright; her wall was still holding. Sure, she was about to drown, but all she needed to do was get out of here. She shoved the exam at the proctor and, not bothering to put away her telescope, she went to leave the tower. Then, Cali called out over the crowd, “Sure, Wood…run away from all the lies you’ve told…stupid slut.”

Every quill paused mid-label and everyone looked up, including the speechless, frazzled test proctor. One foot out the tower doorway, Alexandra froze. Her head drained and suddenly, she realized that she was running away…but for the first time, she seriously didn’t want to.

Once she was free from the overwhelming agony, a new horror crept into that dark place in her mind…James was with Cali. With that, every single pathetic piece that remained of her wall shattered and her head became a deluge of unpleasantness.

Instantaneously, Alexandra finally began to use her brain again and a few things clicked.

She wasn’t going to run…

She hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place…

She had told everyone the truth…

She had apologized for the mess she had made…

If James couldn’t see past her mistakes, he didn’t love her like he said he did… sure, it hurt but it was manageable.


And finally… She wasn’t about to be run out of her very place of happiness by this brainless, jealous, bimbo, who was so obviously a head case.

Alex turned on her heel and spun around, fixing Cali with a glare that could set the tower on fire. Cali squared her shoulders and walked forward so they were only separated by a few feet.

“Finally growing a backbone, Wood?”

“It must be hard…” said Alex shaking her head.

“What must be hard?”

“Being so pathetic that you have to destroy other people’s lives in order to get attention.”

“Well, at least I didn’t lie about who I was for a publicity stunt…”

“It wasn’t a publicity stunt…” Alex growled.

“Ohh, watch out everyone; little Miss Diva is going to throw a temper tantrum,” Cali scoffed.

That was it…the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fist bared, Alex lunged forward in the direction of Cali’s shocked face. But her attack was cut short as a warm hand gripped her own. Alex’s eyes wandered upward and found James; he had stopped her.

JAMES WAS PROTECTING CALI!

Alex straightened up and a new agony seared through her brain and for one solid second, it played across her face for him to see.

“Come on Alex…you don’t want to this…” he chastised letting go of her hand.

As her brain began work again, her face fell into a menacing scowl. The wall was gone and so was the pain…there was nothing left; nothing but sarcasm and fame.

“My…name…is…ALEXANDRA, Potter!” and with that pronouncement, she lunged forward and nailed Cali right between the eyes, “and you have no idea what I want!”

She finished with a menacing hiss, turned around and then stomped from the tower…all her regrets left shattered around Cali’s unconscious form.



~-~-(Three Months Later)-~-~


Lily sat at the kitchen table cleaning her broomstick. She sighed heavily as she glanced out the doorway to the patio where James had assumed his usual position. He sat backwards in a plastic muggle beach chair, his feet sticking upward and his head bent toward the floor so all the blood rushed to it. Seriously, was he trying to kill more brain cells?

She had finished with her broomstick and was about to tread back into her own room when the kitchen fireplace turned green and her father’s head spun into the flames.

“Hey Dad; what’s up!” she said cheerily.

“Have good news…where are your brothers?”

“Albus is at a friend’s and James is where he always is,” she answered.

“Oh…then will you tell them for me?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“The minister got us top box tickets to the quidditch cup finals.”

Lily’s eyes popped wide and she shouted “Ireland vs. Cannons?! Dad that’s great!”

Harry smiled, “Thanks honey, I knew I could count on you for a proper response…well, I gotta go…stay out of trouble.”

She waved at her dad and returned the broomstick to her room. She put her broom in her trunk and spotted something…her wand. Sure, she was only thirteen, but she could just blame it on Albus.

Her bedroom, one floor up, had a perfect view of the patio below. She flung her window open and cast a well-placed spell on her brother’s ridiculous muggle beach chair. Like springs were attached to his arse, James was thrown five feet into the air before he landed on his face a few feet away. Taking advantage of his preoccupied state, she set the chair on fire and watched it burn to ashes in seconds.

James stood up and glared at her, “What the hell was that, you bloody menace?!”

“You’re pathetic!” she shot carelessly at him.

“Yeah and your underage!” he threatened.

Lazily, Lily waved her wand as she thought, “Levicorpus.”

James’s legs were pulled from beneath him and Lily dangled him just outside her window.

“Please don’t tell me this is all about Alex?”

“How can a person so small be so annoying?” he muttered.

She let her concentration wander and let him plunge to the earth, stopping him just before he hit the ground.

He came back up toward her window, cursing slightly, and saw Lily was leaning casually against her windowsill.

“What the bloody hell, Lil’…are you insane?!”

“Insane is better than being a petulant mope,” she said as she arched one delicate brow.

“Are you ever going to put me down?” he asked impatiently.

“That depends…”

“On…?!” He was getting frustrated.

“Are you going to admit why you are in this foul mood?”

“And if I don’t…?” he insisted sounding oddly like a five year old.

“Either you stay there floating or I drop you on your head.”

He scoffed slightly so she let him drop until he grazed his head against the grass below, “Really…I’m not joking.”

He didn’t respond so she continued, “Seriously James, if I watch you mope one more day I may go insane…”

“So you took it out on my beach chair?!” he demanded.

“This isn’t about the bloody beach chair.”

“YES IT IS!”

“NO IT ISN’T!”

“WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEN?!”

“YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS ABOUT!”

“IT’S ABOUT MY BLOODY BEACH CHAIR!”

“NO, IT’S ABOUT ALEX!”

“NO IT’S NOT”

“SAY IT!” she screeched and let him plummet to the earth before jerking him upward again.

“NO!” he shouted, feeling a little woozy.

She let him fall again and then flung him up higher this time so he was eye level with her.

“SAY THAT THIS IS ABOUT ALEX!” Okay, maybe she was being a bit harsh, but healing can only begin when you admit that you have a problem.

“No!” he shouted feebly and when he felt himself fall again he screamed, “FINE!”

“FINE WHAT?!”

“FINE, THIS IS ABOUT ALEX!”

She helped him get inside her room and then let him drop with a thud, “Bloody hell Lil’, you have lost your mind.”

He made to leave the room, but Lily was quicker and armed with a wand. The door slammed before he could get out so he turned to face her.

“What Lily?” It came out as a grumble.

“What is it about Alex?”

“I am not telling this to you Lils’.”

“You are if you ever want to get out of my room…”

He stared at her for a second as if to gauge how serious she really was and then replied, “I’m still in love with her and I hate myself for what I’ve done.”

“And…” said replied petulantly.

“And…I keep sending her letters but she never responds. I don’t care if I can never have her back; I just want to know if she can forgive me…”

“And…” She was pushing it now.

“And…nothing!” He replied with a shrug.

She answered him with a stare so he continued, “and I don’t care what she’s done…I just want her to stop hurting.”

His head was somewhere else as he remembered the look on her face when he had stopped her from hitting Cali. The agony was so devastating he barely was able to remain upright; he never wanted to see that look on her face again. He was brought out of is own misery when Lily spoke again, “Then why aren’t you fighting?!”

The Weasley women fire burned in her eyes and James realized how sick of his moping she really was, “I am fighting!”

It was a lie and they both knew it.

“Then why aren’t you fighting harder?!”

All he could do was stare at her…he was out of ideas about how to win Alex back. He looked at his sister and said, “Do you have any ideas?”

A manic grin that kind of scared him played across her face, “Dad got us box seat tickets to the Quidditch world cup…”

“So…?” Now, she was confusing him.

“So…the teams are Ireland and the Cannons.”

He looked at his little sister wearily, “I’m not going to like this, am I?”

Lily grinned and replied, “The old James Potter would have loved this.”

~


Alex gathered the pile of mail from the front porch with the exception of one very crumpled letter. The familiar writing made the pit of her stomach contract and she heaved a sigh. With a flick of her wand, the letter went up in sudden flames and was engulfed so quickly that in seconds all that remained was ashes.

“Not even going to read it?” said a voice from behind her.

Alex spun on the spot to find Ace leaning just inside the open front door, “why do you care?”

“Because, little sis, your negative attitude is affecting my girlfriend,” he replied casually.

Alex cringed at the thought of her brother and Naomi dating, “Please don’t remind me!”

“Come on, Alex, when are you going to talk about it?”

“There is nothing to talk about Ace.”

“Okay, I am not saying that I care or anything but it is pretty obvious that you’re miserable.”

“I am not miserable…” Her tone wasn’t convincing him at all.

“Just answer me a few questions, okay…?”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because then I will let you back in the house.” She didn’t look persuaded so he continued, “And I will go Naomi’s house today instead of her coming over here…”

By the look on her face, he knew that he’d won, “Fine, three questions.”

“Five questions…”

“The highest I’m going is four,” Alex replied as she crossed her arms in front of her.

“Fine, four works.”

Alex pushed past her brother and landed on the couch with her head dangling toward the floor. She found that when the blood rushed to her head she didn’t think as much…so this was her new favorite position.

“Question number one,” said Ace as Alex opened her eyes and sat up, “Why don’t you read the letters from James?”

She cringed at the sound of his name, “I read the first one. I am so sorry. I love you; I swear I only kissed Cali twice. I will never forgive myself for telling her your secret. Please forgive me, Blah, blah, blah…”

“You do know that what she said on the astronomy tower was a lie…James had already told her off.”

“Is that a question?” she hissed. Halie and Naomi had already explained this to her.

“No but-”

She cut him off, “Fine then, next question!”

“Why won’t you forgive James? It’s clear you were pretty into him.”

“I already have forgiven him…” And this was the complete truth.

“Then why don’t you write him or go see him?” Ace asked his third question.

“Ace, have you ever had every bodily organ ripped from your body and burned at the same time?”

“No, but I don’t see your point…”

“Falling in love with James Potter is precisely like that, except you had to keep living afterward.”

“What would it take for you to talk to him again?”

“Honestly?” Alex asked.

“Yes,” he sighed.

“Convincing Mom that beauty is only skin deep and the Cannons winning the cup are about neck and neck,” she hissed.

“Do you love him?” Ace asked.

“You already asked your four questions, Ace.”

“Alex…” he sighed.

She didn’t respond as she flipped around so that the blood was rushing to her head again. Ace looked at her and continued, “Okay, for the next minute we’re going to pretend that I’m not your older brother and that I don’t hate you…”

Alex snorted in response so he continued, “What you had with James is so rare. Look at how many girls I’ve dated…and I’ve only felt that way about Naomi-”

Alex made a face of disgust.

“I know what happened sucks but maybe you should see how much loving James gave you instead of counting how much you lost because you left him. The best things are worth the fight to keep them…just try and keep that in mind, okay kid?”

Alex kept her eyes closed, “My brother…the love expert.”

“Okay, okay, I am done lecturing you but honestly, the reason you’re so miserable is because you know you’re making the wrong choice.”

Of course he was right…stupid git.

~


“Lily…that is never going to work!” James shouted.

“How could it not go right, James?”

“There are too many chances for things to go wrong…and how are we going to get all those people to help?”

“If you haven’t noticed, you aren’t the only one trying to get through to Alex…Halie and Naomi have been pestering her the entire summer.”

“So?” James said.

“So, Ace Wood is now dating Naomi Longbottom and Ace is Alex’s brother and would do just about anything for Naomi. I’m telling you James; if you can do your part, there is no way she’ll say no.”

“Lily,” James pleaded slightly.

“No, James. Do you want to get her back?” Lily asked pointedly.

“You know I do,” he said his head in his hands.

“Then this will work,” she said simply.

James shook his head…he was putting his love life in the hands of his half crazy, thirteen-year-old sister. Yep, he had lost his mind!



A/N: So, it seems that Lily is out for some redemption : ) and Alex and James have more than a few people plotting to reconnect them. I can’t believe this is one of my last author’s notes for this story. So for those of you who don’t realize chapter twenty will be our last and final chapter **tear**. Again, I apologize for the super long wait for this chapter. Please remember to review…tell me if there is absolutely anything you MUST see before the story is over. Again, for your wonderful patience, here is a sneak peak for your pleasure.



Sneak Peek:




His voice cracked; the pain magically magnified to echo inside her head, “Alex,” he all but whispered. Something attacked the inside of her ribs, a terrible beast ripping and tearing to get out. It was her heart, the organ that had been seemingly still and cold for the last four months.

“Alex, I love you…” Didn’t he realize by this point that she knew that.






PLEASE REVIEW... IT'S YOUR SECOND TO LAST CHANCE



Chapter 20: Chapter Twenty: Let the Games Begin
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Well, it all comes down to this…the final chapter. Nothing much to report on other than please remember to read and review! Thanks for all the support and advice you have given me along the way I really hope this story turns out to be what you all hoped it would. Okay, enough talk… get reading!

Chapter Twenty:
Let the Games Begin
Photobucket


Alexandra looked down dismally at her finery; expensive designer jeans, pale gold silk top, fashionable heels. For some ungodly reason, Ace had insisted that she do her hair and makeup. When she had refused, he had stooped to a new low and brought their mother in on it.

So there she was looking nearly irresistible with the exception of the pronounced scowl on her face, trying to understand why her brother had been so insistent about her looks. Now, she was sitting in a lobby of an all too expensive five star hotel wondering where the hell Halie and Naomi were.

“Excuse me, Miss,” a young waiter, adorned in a green vest, offered her a glass of champagne for the fifth time. She looked up to tell him, once again, that she was too young to drink, when she spotted something over his shoulder. In a moment of sheer panic, she hurtled herself up and over the back of the leather couch she had been sitting on. Peeking around the edge of the couch, she once again spotted Lily Potter dragging a reluctant James across the hotel lobby.

How could she have not thought about this; how many high-end hotels did this remote part of Ireland have anyway? Alex was quickly attempting to assemble an escape plan when two figures stepped into her line of vision.

“Alex, what are you doing behind that couch?” asked Halie.

“Did you know?!” Alex accused.

“Did we know what?” answered Naomi with a bit too much innocence.

“Did you know that the Potters were staying at this hotel?”

Alex had expected looks of guilt or at least looks of polite shock; what she had not expected were her two best friends to roll their eyes in unison.

“Honestly, you’ve been telling us for the last four months that you are over James Potter!” said Naomi.

“This doesn’t look like ‘over it’ to me, Alex!” said Halie with her hands on her hips.

“I AM over James. But excuse me for being uncomfortable with the fact that we are staying in the same hotel!”

Naomi sighed, “Forget him, Alex; come on, the match is going to start soon… let’s head up to the box.”

“Go ahead; I’ll catch up.” Alex mumbled, sinking once again behind the couch.

“So you’re just going to stay behind that couch?” asked Halie.

“Yep!”

“Fine, see you later…” Naomi grabbed Halie and walked away.

Alex continued to sulk behind the couch. She was over James Potter; ‘over’ in the sense that she realized they would always be good together, but also that it would never last…someone or something would always get in the way. That no matter how much she cared, which was a lot, (and she didn’t see it decreasing any time soon) things would always end badly. No matter how great the good times were she would always come back to this pain. Learning to live without him would be better than having her heart broken repeatedly; because no matter how much he changed, he would always be James Potter. So yes, in the sense that she would never be over James, she was ‘over’ him.

“Excuse me, miss?” The server peeked around the side of the couch.

“WHAT?!”

“Would you like a drink?”

Alex took a deep breath and calmly replied, “No-thank-you.”

Though she had managed to maintain her temper, she really just wanted to be left alone but this guy was just not taking a hint. “Is there anything I can get you?” he repeated.

Alex heaved a sigh; apparently, the middle of a hotel lobby wasn’t the best place to seek solitude. So shaking her head, Alex stood with her back still facing the lobby and smoothed out the wrinkles in her clothes. With another sigh, she began to turn…

“Alex?” said a familiar voice.

Alexandra froze, screaming retributions in her head; why this, why now, why here…?!

Still standing behind the couch with her back facing the rest of the room, she replied, “Hello James.”

~Thirty minutes earlier~


It was moments like these that James truly questioned Lily’s sanity, “Lily, what are we looking for?”

“A door…”

“A door?”

“More specifically a door with a lock…”

Nothing good could come from this search…Lily had been plotting for hours and had yet to tell him the entirety of the plan.

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on-”

“AHA!” Lily cut him off.

They had been wandering around beneath the stands of the pitch since breakfast. As they turned the last corner, they walked out into the sun-filled stadium. Lily walked pointedly to one of the walls in the lower stands; she poked it with her wand and it sprung open.

“A broom closet…really, Lily?!”

“Well, James, you haven’t really given me much time to work with!”


“I don’t want to work at all…I’ve begged you to let this go!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, James, we both know you’re lying to yourself!”

“How am I supposed to get her in there?!”

“You don’t need to worry about that…you just need to think about what you are going to say.”

Sure, it was easy for her to say; what do you say to a person who has ignored you for the last four months? What was left to say that hadn’t already been said? Despite Lily’s reassurances, he was positive that Alex hadn’t responded to his letters because she had moved on. And he was starting to think that this “plan” to win her back was like kicking a dead horse.

“JAMES!” Lily snapped her fingers in front of his face.

“Lily, this isn’t going to work.”

She sighed and patting his arm, she said, “How will you feel if you never try to win her back? Now, stop questioning the plan and go get ready!”

Sighing, he wandered from the stadium and walked back in the direction of the portkey. How Lily had managed to get them a portkey here in the first place mystified him. When she caught up to where he stood, she grasped the portkey and they traveled back to the broom closet of the hotel lobby. Both Quidditch teams and a select few families were staying here; it was about an hour away from where the actual game was being played.

James froze in the front of the hotel lobby and Lily, reading his mind, began to pull him towards the elevators, “No second guessing, James. How many chances do you think you’ll get!”

When he didn’t respond, she slowed and looked around the lobby. “Dammit! They said she’d be down here…by herself.”

“What?!” James came back to life.

“The plan is still okay…just go get ready.”

The moment James disappeared behind the elevator doors, Halie and Naomi appeared.

“Where is she?” Lily hissed.

“She jumped behind the couch when she saw you guys,” replied Naomi.

“This is not going according to plan…” mumbled Lily from behind her hands.

“Were you able to find it?” asked Halie.

“Yes…here” Lily extended a delicate silver charm bracelet.

“Oh, come on! How are we supposed to get that on her?!” whined Naomi.

Lily snapped, “You’re her best friends…you figure it out!”

Silence fell amongst the three girls; each contemplating the seemingly impossible task ahead of them. Could they really pull this off?

“You guys look nervous,” James said when he appeared a few moments later.

“Not nervous…just confident,” said Lily crossing her arms.

“Right,” he mimicked her and folded his arms, “are you going to tell me what I have to do next or am I doing this blind?”

Lily was thinking fast; she needed to get Alex to come out of hiding and on the way to the pitch; AND she needed to fill James in, “Halie, Naomi, why don’t you go wait outside for what we were talking about. James, I have to go get something; why don’t you go sit on that couch and wait for me to come get you”
.
They all separated. James sighed, and muttering something that sounded like “useless” beneath his breath, he headed toward the couch his sister had indicated. It was only when he had reached it that he realized there was a server ducked behind it.

A resounding, “WHAT?!” came from behind the leather sofa. The voice was too high-pitched to belong to the masculine server still standing there. Looking slightly affronted, the waiter straightened and walked away. A few seconds later, a sigh emanated from the space and a figure appeared. She smoothed out her snug fitting jeans, straightened her flattering gold top and fixed her hair. She began to turn; and James felt all the blood drain from his head and rush to his heart as it skipped a beat. Before he could help himself, he stuttered out, “Alex?!”

Closing her eyes tight, she turned to face him completely.

James swallowed nervously; they hadn’t been this close in months. His emotions flipped from nervous, to joy, to the desire to kill Lily, and all the way back to apprehension in just a few seconds.

James then took her in fully. She looked as beautiful as ever, but somehow different. He knew that when she was happy she seemed to glow; and he couldn’t help but notice that she wasn’t shining. He had the desire to shake her and kiss her all at the same time. But all the words halted on his lips when she opened her eyes and said, “Hello James.”

Before he could even begin to form a coherent sentence, she walked away. Yep, he was definitely going to kill Lily for sending him into that blind. Luckily, a few seconds later, he was given his chance as Lily stalked back into the lobby looking impatient.

“Did you know she was back there?!”

“Yeah, so…”

“I can’t believe-”

“Shut up, James… we’re on a tight schedule; now MOVE!” and he was rather indelicately shoved into the broom closet. A jerk behind his navel told James that he was being led back to the quidditch pitch. When he landed, Lily dragged him into a thick throng of people, trying to get into the stadium. After a few minutes of pushing and shoving, he found himself outside the broom closet they had found earlier that morning.

“James, I need you to go get the silver charm bracelet I set on the self in there earlier.”

He looked at his youngest sibling with incredulity but today, he had learned better than to question her plans. So obediently, he opened the door and stepped inside. The second he was over the threshold the door slammed behind him and the lock slide deafeningly loud into place. Thrown into pitch black, James walked toward the door. Unfortunately, upon further inspection, he realized that there wasn’t a handle on the inside.

“Lily, when I get out of here I’m going to kill you…”

Outside the door, Lily was smirking, “No, James, when you get out of there you’ll be kissing the ground I walk on.”

And before she could listen to his further protests, she disappeared into the growing crowd… the plan was officially out of her hands.

~


Alex sped from the hotel lobby.

“Hey Alex…wait up!”

She slowed to a stop and allowed Halie and Naomi to catch up. “You dropped this…” Halie held out the charm bracelet.

“What are you talking about? That’s not mine.”

“I know,” Halie shifted uncomfortably, “you asked me if you could borrow it.”

“I did?”

“Do you want to wear it or not?!” Halie tapped her foot impatiently.

“Whatever,” Alex held out her wrist, “if we don’t hurry up we’re going to miss the match.”

The girls were walking side by side toward the place where their portkey was waiting; Alex wasn’t talking and nothing about her demeanor read that she was going to enjoy the very exciting match to come. They were just about to crest a final hill when she was overcome by the strangest feeling. She stopped dead in her tracks as she looked down accusingly at her wrist. The tugging sensation in her stomach increased painfully. She looked up to meet the triumphant looks of her former best friends, “You guys what the hell-”

Alex never got to finish her thought, however, as she found herself being launched toward who knows where by her charm bracelet portkey. Her world spun mercilessly; the light warm air of the outside world being replaced by the cold, dark, and damp of an enclosed space. She landed hard on her feet and sunk down onto her knees. Ripping the bracelet from her wrist, she chucked the traitorous object into the darkness with every ounce of strength she possessed.

“Oww!” exclaimed something from darkness.

Alex’s eyes roamed the pitch black area and whispered, “Is someone else in here?”

“Yep…I’m here” said a resigned and all too familiar voice.

“James!” she hissed incredulously.

“Hey Alex.”

There was no response to this just the shuffling of feet, the sound of someone tripping, and the clatter of crates being knocked over.

“Bloody hell!” Alex hissed as she hit the floor again.

“Are you okay?”

“Just grand…where the hell is the bloody door?”

“There isn’t one.”

More silence…

Alex probed the dark pointlessly for some source of light or better yet a way out. She grabbed at her back pocket for her wand but it was gone. Frantic, she checked all her other pockets; her wand was nowhere to be found…she was going to kill Halie and Naomi for this.

“Potter, light you wand!”

He blinked a few times at the use of his surname, “Umm…Lily stole mine before she locked me in here.”

Alex snorted, “Are you trying to say that this isn’t your brilliant plan?”

“Believe me; I’m just as surprised as you are.”

“So there’s no way out?”

“Not until Lily comes to get us.”

Alex plopped down on the dusty floor of the closet and tucked her knees to her chest; all the time wondering how, after so long, she still managed to get stuck in a broom closet with James Potter.

“Alex-”

“Please, James, don’t make this harder than it has to be…”

“How can this not get harder? Alex, we have to talk sometime.”

There was a shuffling and Alex felt someone come to rest beside her. Every muscle in her body froze at his close proximity; it was like a spark flowed between them.

“Alex…” he had said it softly; and with the caress of those words she relaxed.

As soon as she realized what was happening, Alex snapped open her eyes and stood up, “James, I can’t do this.”

“Can’t or won’t Alex?” he asked standing up.

Alex heard him stand and backed into the furthest wall, “can’t.”

James sighed this was his last chance and he was blowing it, “How can you just forget everything?”

Alex sighed, did he really think that she could forget everything they had shared; like he didn’t haunt her dreams? “I didn’t forget, James,” she said as she rested her head against the wall.

He stepped closer toward where her voice was coming from, “Alex, why won’t you talk to me?”

“Because James, there’s nothing left to say,” she answered quietly.

They stood in silence for a few minutes; Alex taking slow and deliberate breaths as questions started to bubble at her lips, “H-how could you tell Cali…”

James lowered her head; he had been prepared for this, “I don’t have an excuse, Alex. When you told me the truth, I was hurt. I felt betrayed. You seemed like every other girl who ever wanted me only for my fame. I got drunk and I made a mistake, but it wasn’t until you were gone that I realized you were never like the other girls…you never wanted to use me…”

Silence fell among them again and James fought the urge to ask a completely irrelevant question and lost, “Alex, you and I have a past; I understood why Alexandra hated me but as Alex…why did you ever give me a chance?”

To anyone but them that question would have made absolutely no sense in the least. Alex opened her eyes, “You and I have more in common than we pretend to James. At some point, I realized that I was judging you like every other person had done to me when I was Alexandra. Plus, you seemed different than the James that glued his lips to mine when we were younger.”

“Alex, I still love you-” the words came tumbling over his lips before he could stop them.

The truth…the truth; she still loved him; the most impossible kind that caused her heart to ache. Panic rose in her throat, she could feel the words on her lips, she could feel them echoing inside her head. She realized the only thing that stood between her and James was her reservations and she was so temped to overlook those.

Alex froze for a second in shock; and then realized that she could no longer be stuck in a broom closet with James. She stood and frantically began to search for a way out.

“Alex?”

Her hands fumbled over the rough walls, looking for a way out, but her desperate fingers landed on nothing of use. She could feel him drawing close behind her and her search reached a fever pitch…she needed to get out of here.

“Alex, please just talk to me…” he whispered a few inches from her ear.

All of the tiny hairs on her neck stood on end as he spoke. Her fumbling hands had not yet given up looking for their escape.

“No…”

James was starting to get frustrated; he just wanted her to stop moving and talk to him. He gripped both her shoulders and spun her around. He heard her breath catch in her throat when he forced her backwards into the wall.

Alex could feel him press into her, she could feel his hot breath on her face as he spoke, “Alex, tell me the truth…why won’t you talk to me?”

She closed her eyes; she was teetering on the very edge of indecision, something about this felt so right and something screamed inside of her that this was so wrong.

James was beginning to get impatient, “Fine, don’t say anything…”

In a mixture of horror and shock, she felt him leaning closer still to her. His lips were an inch from her own when she whispered, “p-please stop…”

Suddenly, the cramped space was lit with brilliant daylight, “No worries, Stan; I’ll get the mop to clean the spill in 4G-”

But the janitor stopped dead at the sight of Alex and James. Alex immediately came to her senses, and with a not so gentle shove she pushed James away. Not daring to breath, she grabbed the charm bracelet off the floor and stalked out of the broom closet. She received many curious glares as she stomped up the stairs towards the top box, but she really didn’t care at the moment.

When she pushed open the door, everybody turned to look at her. Heading straight towards Halie and Naomi, she held out her hand, “Give me my wand.”

They looked at her with something similar to fright so she repeated, “GIVE ME MY BLOODY WAND!”

Naomi quickly grabbed the extra wand from her pocket and handed it over. With a look that could set the box on fire, Alex chucked the bracelet at their feet and swept back out of the box. At the door, she met James. Averting her eyes, she slipped past him and left the stadium, not even bothering to get the score of the game.

~


Ireland had won. And with the exception of Alex, the spirits at the victory party were very high. She was averting her eyes from anyone who would want to talk and mindlessly mingled around the room in the new black cocktail dress her mother had bought her. She was attempting not to think because every time her brain started working she got angry. She and James were never meant to be and the fact that her own best friends had tried to force her into a situation she had been avoiding pissed her off.

There was a sudden increase in noise and Alex turned to see the Potter family enter the party clad in their finest. Grabbing a glass of champagne from the nearest server, she downed it in one breathe. The sooner this night was over the better off she would be. Setting down her glass, Alex realized that Lily Potter was heading in her direction. Having had enough abuse for one night, Alex left the party before anyone could corner her.

The desire to do only one thing settled into Alex’s brain…she wanted to fly. She needed to get on her broomstick and leave everything that had happened behind. So she left; grabbed a portkey that had been set up for the players to return to the stadium, and disappeared from the party. Leaving one, Lily Potter, to realize how much she had screwed up in one day.

The stadium was empty and quiet when Alex had arrived. She strode into the Ireland locker room and grabbed one of the spare brooms. Kicking off her heels, she mounted the broom and took off in a lap around the space. She left everything on the ground where she had taken off and for the first time all day she felt free.

~


“James!” Lily said as she came into sight.

“Not now, Lily, you’ve done enough for today.”

“You’re coming with me…” she said grabbing his hand and pulling him out of the party.

“No, Lily! No more schemes!”

“You’re right, James, I’m done playing games.” She spun around a poked him in the chest, “Do you realize how many tramps you have dated? A lot, James; you have dated a lot of stupid girls who never liked you. The first one I’ve liked, the first one who’s truly cared about you, and you are just going to let her walk away?! No; I don’t care how many times you try and fail; I don’t care how many times she walks away…you’ll be lucky if you ever find someone like that and I will be damned if I let you throw that away…so no, James! No more schemes you’re going to the pitch and you’re going to make her see sense because you will not lose the love of your life…not because of me!”

Chest heaving in anger, Lily slammed a portkey into his hand and they were taken to the top box of the stadium. Without giving James a chance to mutiny, she grabbed his wand, ran from the box, and locked it. Alex, who was not yet aware of their presence, was flying circles around the pitch. With a wave of Lily’s wand, every single entrance and exit in the pitch slammed closed and locked. At the noise, Alex had halted in mid-air and turned towards Lily. The two shared a glance; Alex’s angered and Lily’s repentant, “I’m sorry, Alex, but it has to be done.”

With that, Lily disappeared and Alex looked toward the top box where James was watching her. She was locked in a stadium with a boy she could barely resist, and all she really wanted was to be left alone. Drifting toward the ground, Alex dismounted and stalked toward the nearest row of chairs. There was no getting out it this time…she would have to wait it out.

~


James paced the top box for a second; this was it…the only chance he would get to make her see that he couldn’t just move on. Stopping dead, he took in the magical microphone that sat there taunting him, a blinking neon light that screamed, “You can’t do this!”

He stepped forward to the glass window at the front of the box, a yearning bubbled at the pit of his stomach. She sat in a seat in the very first row. Her chin pressed on her knees that were bent to her chest. James wanted nothing more than to run his hands through her hair, to whisper in her ear, to make her see reason, but this was what he had to work with.

With reckless abandonment, he grabbed the microphone and flipped it on. An echoing, taunting scream echoed around the space, announcing his presence. James watched as she froze; her slender shoulders becoming stiff and tense. He sighed internally, not wanting to feel the sting of rejection; but in this case, the possibilities definitely outweighed the consequences.

“Alexandra?” No, that didn’t sound right.

“Alex,” he tried again; the pain breaking through his voice.

Even from here he could see her drop her legs to the floor and press her palms flat against her ears. He could imagine the tears streaking down her face…tears that he had put there.

“Alex, I love you…” His voice cracked as he spoke in barely more than a whisper.

~


She knew it was childish to sit there with her hands over her ears, but she couldn’t take it any more. Hadn’t they all told her this…hadn’t she known it from the very beginning…that James Potter would never stop chasing her…no matter what her name was.

His voice cracked; the pain magically magnified to echo inside her head, “Alex,” he all but whispered. Something attacked the inside of her ribs, a terrible beast ripping and tearing to get out. It was her heart; the organ that had been seemingly still and cold for the last four months.

“Alex, I love you…” Didn’t he realize by this point that she knew that. James Potter loved her so completely and recklessly that the innocent injured bystanders couldn’t be counted on one hand. His love…so complete that when he took it away she felt hollow; a shell of the person she had become.

She would gladly surrender herself to him now…to be swept away in the thrill of something so flawless, but she couldn’t because no matter how hard she held on, the thrill would always end. Something would always get in the way; she would always come back to the way she felt right now, hurt, broken, and hollow.

“Tell me what will take the pain away.” he asked, sincerity clouding his voice.

No, not the pain…the pain was the only thing that secured her in this spot. It was the only thing that prevented her from marching up to the box and taking him into her arms. She had to get out of here; she needed to be gone before he tried to take the pain away. Because he could…a few soft spoken words and she would be dough in his hands. He could take the pain away.

Alex stood; and abandoning all reason, fled toward the gate at the end of the pitch. The wrought iron held firm in her hands they could not be moved. She struggled against it; desperate to be gone from this place.

~


The sting of rejection firmly planted itself in James’s mind as he watched her flee across the field; running from the pain and running from him. His chance was slipping away and he was letting it go like water through his cupped hands.

“Alex!” fierceness burned in his voice, “When I found out you lied to me, I thought you were like every other girl in my past; the ones who only saw me as handsome and rich and…famous. It took me awhile, but then I realized as Alex or Alexandra you never liked my fame…my money ceased to mean anything to you and my looks were nothing because you saw through me to the very core of my being. You loathed me for my ego, my arrogance, and my pride. And yet, despite all my obvious flaws and all the horrible things I had done to you, you loved me.

He sighed and watched as she continued to fight against the gate that Lily had undoubtedly sealed.

“I don’t care if I can never have you in my life; I don’t even care if you can’t forgive me, but please I can’t stand to think that you’re in pain.” His voice cracked again, “Just tell me how I can make this better.”

~


He wanted to make things better…something she had covertly dreamed of since the whole ordeal had begun. Sure, she had never allowed herself to dwell on it because that thought would always be impossible. But she could feel that his words were beginning to create large cracks in the cold protective shell she had built for herself. His presence, like the sun, was beginning to warm her skin…the last thing she knew would be good for her. But all the fight had gone out of her, she had never wanted to resist; it was only the fear of future pain that had kept her away the entire summer.

Her hands fighting the iron gate stopped their desperate attempt and fell limply at her sides. She leaned heavily against the gate and sighed; hesitation was slipping away and it scared her to death.

~


James watched her stop fighting. She slumped against the gate that prevented her swift exit. A strange sensation swept through him…anger…why wouldn’t she just stop and give him a chance? With this new sensation firmly implanted in his brain, he chucked the magical microphone at the glass of the box and it shattered into a million tiny pieces. The sound of the shattering glass echoed around the stadium with the aid of the magical microphone.

He stared out of the broken window; Alex hadn’t even moved an inch as the glass settled. The anger faded and was replaced with a feeling of eagerness; she had stopped after all. He allowed his feet to take control and they led him swiftly forward. He jumped over the shattered mess and sprinted down the steps. He was across the field before his brain had entirely caught up.

“Alex?” The desire to see her face was overwhelming him.

She still hadn’t turned around so he spoke again, “Alex…would you ever be able to forgive me?”

If possible, she seemed to become tenser. Then, the sound like a chorus of angels met his ears. A sound so beautiful that he wondered how he had lived so long without hearing it, “James…I’ve already forgiven you.”

~


Alex felt the words, choked and small, flow over her trembling lips. Like before, she was all too aware of his presence behind her. He made a sound like he was going to speak again but she had to interrupt, “James…please don’t.”

He hadn’t moved yet, “Don’t- what?”

“Don’t make me do this…” The tears were evident in her voice.

As if he could sense her pain, he stepped forward; and with warm strong hands pulled her into his arms. “I don’t want you to do anything, Alex.”

~


He could feel her flinching away from his touch but he couldn’t understand why. Then, she spoke again, her words like cement bricks dropping to the pit of her stomach, “Stay mad at me…go find some stupid bimbo…forget that I exist…don’t let me forgive you…please just keep hating me.”

He could feel her trembling…he had to stop her pain, “I never hated you…”

That wasn’t the right thing to say. She started to try and pull away, but he wasn’t finished and he wasn’t going to let her get away. So, he asked her the next logical question, “Why?”

Her body stilled and she pressed her hands into her face, “Because…b-because I love you, James.”

He was speechless; those were the words that he had so desperately wanted to hear but now they sounded wrong.

“Alex, that doesn’t make any sense-”

She cut him off “I-it will never matter how much we want this to work…something will always be in the way…James, the pain will always be there.”
And then he finally understood.

~


It was like she could hear the cogs in his head click into place as he realized what she had said. His body, trembling seconds before, calmed and he pulled her impossibly closer to his own.

“Is that all you were worried about?” He breathed into her ear.

Alex was totally distracted; all she could do was nod numbly. He wasn’t going to let her get away…he wasn’t going to let go that easily. Half of her mourned the pain that she would someday feel but the other half rejoiced that he would not let her cowardice control her choice.

He ran a warm hand through her hair and whispered again, “Alex, didn’t anybody ever tell you that the best things in life are the ones worth fighting for…”

Then, with both hands firmly planted on her face, James leaned in to kiss Alex. She could feel the restraint in his hold, but she had no intention of running. For the moment his lips touched hers, the hollowness that had plagued her for so long fell away. Reaching up, she held his neck, bringing him as close as she could; trying to allow this moment to drown out four months of misery.

In the pit of her stomach, she felt the familiar fire of desire and she realized that it was worth it. All the pain, all the future effort it would take to keep them together was completely worth it. James Potter…her James was worth fighting for.


Epilogue:


At first glance, you would think her a Greek goddess; she knew she was beautiful and she had finally learned to embrace it. Peering at her reflection, she smiled at the haughty, formidable stance and face that stared back at her. She stood before the elegant floor length mirror, mechanically smoothing out the creases of her pale gold dress. The dress’s sleek and shiny fabrics fell away from her hips and were draped gracefully from shoulder to shoulder.

The dress was, as her mother would say, “Made for her and only her.” She smiled at the thought of her mother. A gentle knock sounded at the door as she lifted a gentle hand to push strands of long, straight red hair back behind her ear. Turning, she faced her latest visitor; who looked back, smiling from ear to ear at her appearance. Alex gave her mom a quick hug and her mom said, “Alex…don’t forget you wanted to wear the bracelet.”

Standing in the golden dress was Alex Wood, and she was weeks away from starting her sixth year at the famous Hogwarts. Inheriting all of her mother’s good looks, her father’s quidditch skills, and their combined intelligence and dedication, it was hard not to admire the sheer perfection of her genetic makeup. If the wizarding world had Kings and Queens, she would undoubtedly be royalty. She would not be a princess, no, that would be a Weasley or a Potter, but she would at least be a duchess or a countess. She would be invited to all the balls and would sit along the high table with all her fellow royals. Alexandra accepted her position and had learned to embrace it. She would always be defined by her surname, and it was up to her to do as much with it as possible.

Alex let go of her mom and quickly ran to her bathroom. On the counter sat the pink cow bracelet that she never forgot to wear. She was slipping it onto her wrist when her father walked in.

“Not fighting are we, ladies?” said Wood as his wife swooped down and immediately began to straighten and fix his tie.

“Not at all dear, just having friendly conversation.” said Mrs. Wood with a cheery voice.

Just then, the bedroom door flew wide open to reveal the fourth and final member of the Wood family. Alexandra’s older brother, Ace, strode uninvited into the room holding four very thick pieces of parchment.

“Oi, we better get ready; it’s almost our turn.”

With this announcement, each member took an invitation that had their name written upon it. Each invite was an individual portkey and would take them directly to the exclusive party. The party was in honor of her mother’s newest magazine launch called, “Underage Magic: The magical magazine for teen witches.”

Seconds before they were about to depart, Mrs. Wood looked up and hurriedly said, “Now remember, we will be appearing in a tent just outside the red carpet. Alexandra, please remember to smile, every reporter this side of the Alps will be there. It is a party thrown by my company and this launch is very important.

Rolling her eyes playfully, Alexandra fixed her grip on the invitation. Even after all these years of traveling to parties in this manner, she still hated it. Her brother began to count down, “5…4…3…”

Just as he had finished saying three, an odd tingling sensation overcame her that had nothing to do with the portkey. As the world began to spin and blur and that all too familiar jerk came from behind her navel, Alexandra let out an earth shattering sneeze. As the world righted itself for the other three family members, Alexandra’s continued to spin. Unable to regain her balance, she fell, eyes still closed. But then, she felt someone catch her and push her gently upright.

Smiling, she opened her eyes to find James still holding onto her shoulders with a grin of his own plastered across his face.

“Somehow, I thought that might happen,” he laughed as he leaned forward and gave her a peck on the lips.

“Whatever would I do without you?” She said, faking a swooning fit.

“Umm…Alex, what is with the hair?”

“You don’t like it?” she asked protectively clutching her red hair.

“No, I love it, but I was wondering why you chose it.”

“Kind of appropriate don’t you think? I mean Alexandra Wood was a brunette; Alex Cunnings had pink hair; and now, Alex Wood has red hair a slight mixture of both.”

“You do know that the last two generations of men in my family have married redheads, right?” he said hesitantly.

“Me, marry you?!” She let out a derisive laugh, “In your dreams, Potter.”

She flashed him a beautifully wicked smile and James, smiling, leaned in once more to kiss her.

“Okay, you two, save it for the cameras…and Potter, do I need to remind you that she’s still my little sister?” said Ace as he walked closer.

“Merlin, Ace, don’t be such a prude,” said Naomi as she grabbed onto Ace’s hand.

Alex punched her brother on the arm, and then was pulled into a romantic kiss by James who was being quite daring in front of her family.

“For Merlin’s sake, James, you’re going to mess up her makeup!” shouted Mrs. Wood. And this time, James did detach himself.

The attendant by the door indicated that it was time for them to walk down the red carpet. James put his hand out and Alex took it in hers, allowing its warmth to overcome her. She saw her mother and father walk out of the tent and knew that in a few moments it would be her turn.

Then, the magically magnified voice of her mother came over the air. “In honor of the launch of Underage Magic, I have a special announcement to make…”

Alex turned to James and said, “Do you know what this is about?” He shook his head with a look of confusion as complete as her own.

“I have the great honor to announce that this year’s Witch Weekly’s Cutest Couple award goes to my daughter Alex Wood and the one and only James Potter.”

Open-mouthed, Alex stared up at James who looked utterly surprised by what had just been announced. Then, the curtains to the tent were held open and she and James were blinded by the excited flash of cameras and deafened by the roar of the paparazzi. They began their slow journey down the red carpet, which took forever because James insisted on stopping by every camera to show off his “girl.”

In the next hour, Alex shook more hands and spoke more politics and Quidditch tactics than she was pleased to admit. In no time at all, a small dinging bell announced that dinner was being served. Dinner in itself was uneventful; James, who was sitting beside her, was for once on his best behavior. As desert was finally served, James felt something run the length of his upper thigh. He jumped and knocked his water glass over; the entire room turning to stare at him. Alex tried to suppress a laugh as he began to turn bright red.

The night was beginning to draw to a close when Alex realized she had not seen James in a while…never a good omen. She was walking down a narrow hall with many doors leading off of it. As she ventured around a corner to find her missing boyfriend, a door to her left suddenly flew open and a hand grabbed her wrist. Before she had even realized what was happening, Alexandra was pulled haphazardly into an empty room. Slamming into a wall, her momentum finally slowed enough for her to regain her balance and stand upright.

James stood before Alex with a self-satisfied look upon his face topped with that irritatingly messy head of hair. Alexandra gave him one last look of contempt at his unorthodox method of getting her alone before she launched herself upon him. James only hesitated for a moment recognizing that almost a year ago to the day this is all he really wanted from Alex Wood. And now, an entire year later, he wanted so much more than to kiss her…he wanted to really know her. They kissed passionately as James held her in his arms; he was grateful for her touch. And Alex was grateful that this time James had remembered to pull the blinds closed.




THE END
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