Weasleys and Toe Rags
By the time James got out of Potions, it seemed the entire school was talking about what had now been dubbed ‘The Hogwarts Super Slide’. Walking up from the dungeons and into the Great Hall for dinner, he took his seat at the Gryffindor table, had to hide his self congratulatory grin, and feign surprise as Lily took a seat opposite him with Hugo and began telling James exactly what had happened.
James couldn’t have been happier. As he had passed a group of sixth years, he had heard one boy explaining that this was the best prank he’d seen since he arrived, and that his friend Kenny had managed to get a photo of it as he’d been showing his new camera off to some Hufflepuff girl he fancied. Hoping that once the photo was developed, copies would be passed around the school, James vowed to get a copy and save it.
“Most people are saying it was Peeves!” Lily told James importantly as he nodded along mutely, spooning mashed potatoes onto his place. “It looks very much like something he’d do, don’t you think?”
Giving a serious look to Hugo, he nodded silently. James wanted to tell Lily that she’d have no idea what Peeves would do; she’d only been in the school three days, but he didn’t want to bring attention to himself. Luckily, he didn’t need to as Albus took the seat next to him; Rose planting herself on Albus’s other side.
“Peeves can’t cast charms like that,” Rose informed Lily, who was visibly deflating. Being an insufferable know-it-all was much more difficult when there was someone smarter than you in the vicinity. “He usually sticks to more physical pranks. Throwing ink pots, pulling rugs out from under people, that sort of thing.”
“Well, who do you think did it then?” Lily asked huffily, obviously not happy that the attention of her apparently captivated audience had been shifted to someone else.
“Probably some students with too much time on their hands,” Rose answered with a shrug, reaching out and carefully dishing herself out some cottage pie.
“Personally, I thought it was fantastic!” Albus answered, grinning broadly. “I was on the third floor stair case when it changed. It was the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages!”
James had never felt such a fondness for his younger brother, and decided that he’d tell Albus it had been him to perform the magnificent prank. He’d probably not mention Roxanne and the twins, but knowing James, Albus would probably figure it out on his own.
Hugo also seemed to be hiding his amusement at the prank, but stayed quite quiet during the conversation. James glanced at him occasionally, surprised to see his cousin looking rather nervous. Frowning, James wondered if something was wrong with his young cousin. Hugo had always been a bit quieter than the rest of the Weasley clan, but seeing him like this was almost worrying. It was almost as if he was afraid to speak. Giving his cousin a small smile, James returned to his dinner as Fred joined them.
As a seventh year, Fred usually didn’t socialise with them, but he’d always be friendly. When he sat down, he gave them all broad grins.
“So; any ideas? Theories?” he asked happily, picking up a sausage and biting into it unceremoniously.
Everyone, including James, shook their heads.
“Damn,” Fred replied. “I was going to write home and tell dad about it. He’d be in stitches.”
“You know,” James said suddenly. “I heard a sixth year talking about someone getting a photograph of it. Maybe wait to owl Uncle George and send that with it. It’ll probably be all over the school tomorrow.”
“Hey! Good idea!” Fred answered, picking up a napkin. Piling a few sausages and a number of roast potatoes onto it, he gave them all a cheery wave and left the table, joining some friends as they left the Great Hall.
Chewing cheerfully on a piece of beef, James looked at his sister.
“So, Lily, how you liking Hogwarts?” he asked, deciding that seeing as he was in such a good mood, he could handle a conversation with his little sister.
“Oh, I love it!” she said excitedly, putting her fork down and leaning forward onto the table. “Of course, I miss mum and daddy, but it’s so exciting here.”
“That’s good,” James answered, looking again to Hugo. “What about you, Hugo? You enjoying it? Liking Gryffindor and all that?”
Hugo nodded silently as he chewed and swallowed his mouthful of peas.
“Yeah, it’s good,” he answered quietly. James hid his confusion behind a forced smile. Lily and Hugo had been complaining about the fact that they couldn’t come to Hogwarts since James had started his first year, and now he was here, Hugo seemed more withdrawn than ever.
After eating his dessert, James gave them all a short wave and set off back to the Gryffindor common room with a detour past the library to pick up a book for his Potions homework.
Settling into a chair in the corner, potions book open across his lap, James stared wistfully across the common room to a group of second years playing Gobstones in front of the fire. Sure, James had friends in his year in Gryffindor, but it was the evenings when having his best friends in the other three houses really became a drag. He could imagine them all lounging in the chairs, laughing and joking. He’d thought about them all crowded around a small table trying to do their homework, having all their classes together. James frowned. He liked his housemates, but it just wasn’t the same.
He had three paragraphs of his Potions essay written by the time Lily and Hugo returned to the common room, two other first year girls in tow. Sitting not far from James, Lily began animatedly regaling stories of their father and all the things he did during his Hogwarts years. James rolled his eyes and went back to his essay.
He was only two lines in when he had to look up again. Lily had begun telling the two girls all about Dumbledore’s Army and how their father had taught them all the defensive spells that helped them survive the war. Staring at Lily, he couldn’t believe how much she was relying on the reputation of their parents to get her by. James had tried as hard as he could to steer himself away from his father’s shadow, and as far as he’d seen, Albus had as well, but Lily was using it to every advantage she could.
Looking at the two girls sat with Lily and Hugo, they watched Lily with an awed expression as if she had been the one to do these things, but Hugo… Hugo was staring at his knees, a grim expression on his face. James watched forlornly, his good mood evaporating with every passing minute.
He’d never been especially close to Hugo. With Lily and Albus more at their cousin’s ages, they’d always been the close ones, but James always liked them both. Rose could be a bit bigheaded occasionally, but she was a nice girl. But, despite the fact that his siblings had been closer to them, it didn’t mean James didn’t care. Listening to Lily go on and on, James wondered if she cared that Hugo seemed depressed, or more so, if she’d even noticed.
James knew it would be impossible to talk to Hugo now. Even if he dragged his cousin away to another area of the common room, he figured he’d get half way through asking Hugo if he was alright before Lily would come over and want to know what they were talking about. So, he resigned himself to talk to Hugo at another time, only, it seemed, he didn’t have to wait that long. Just as James was finishing his potions essay, he looked up to see Hugo picking up his bag and telling the others he was going to get an early night.
Collecting up his things, James shoved them unceremoniously into his bag, only keeping out his essay as it was still wet and he didn’t really want to even chance having to do it again. He gripped it in his left hand, slinging his bag over his right shoulder and following Hugo stealthily to the boy’s dorms.
After dropping his things off in his second floor dorm, James came back out and made the slow trek up to the sixth floor of the dorms before he saw ‘First Years’ in a plaque on the door. James knocked loudly before stuffing his hands in his pockets, looking up and down the stairs.
The door opened a crack, and James saw two light brown eyes peer out at him before the door was pulled open properly. James had never really realised how small Hugo was. Well, how small all the first years were.
“Hey!” James said cheerfully. Hugo merely stared at him before peering down the stairs.
“What is it?” he asked.
Rocking onto the balls of his feet, James frowned a little as he looked seriously at his younger cousin.
“You alright, Hu?” he asked quietly. “I just, well, you’ve been quiet and in the common room you looked… well, downright miserable.”
Hugo shrugged and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his robes. “Yeah, I’m great,” he answered.
For someone who was apparently ‘great’, James thought Hugo sounded awful.
“Come on,” James replied gently. “We’ve all been there, what’s up?”
Hugo looked down the stairs nervously before staring forlornly at the stairs.
“Do you ever think you’re not meant to be here?” he asked in a cautious whisper. James stared at him in confusion. Of course Hugo was meant to be here, he was a wizard after all.
“What… what do you mean?” he asked.
Hugo took another glance down the stairs before stepping back, ushering James into the dorms before closing the door behind them. Turning around, he leant on the doorframe sullenly.
“Everyone else is finding it so easy,” Hugo admitted. “Lily’s making friends left, right, and centre, telling everyone about Uncle Harry. Rose is always going on about how great she’s doing in all her classes. You and Albus are really popular. I just… I just don’t think I fit in.”
If James wasn’t mistaken, he could be sure that there was a slight look of relief on his face. James assumed he’d probably been worrying about this long before he came to Hogwarts, and telling someone was a weight off his shoulders. Giving Hugo a reassuring smile, James shrugged a little.
“You think we were like this when we first arrived?” he asked Hugo. “I was a complete prat. Didn’t know what to say or do. Didn’t know how to talk to anyone, and I definitely wasn’t doing the best in any of my classes. Albus and Rose were the same. The sort of stuck together for the first month as far as I saw.”
Hugo nodded mutely.
“Look, Hugo, Lily’s… being Lily. She’s using mum and dad because she doesn’t know what else to say. Everyone knows about dad, so she’s using it.” Giving Hugo a sly grin, he raised an eyebrow. “Personally, it’s rubbish. Who wants to live off their parents reputation?”
“But everyone loves her,” Hugo answered.
“Until the stories run out,” James answered simply. “Everyone settles in differently. I’m sure it’ll be fine in a week or so.”
Nodding, Hugo suddenly looked even more nervous, and James began wondering if his worries about being one of the latest of the Weasley clan to join Hogwarts was the only problem.
“There’s… there’s this guy,” Hugo murmured finally. James watched him curiously. “He keeps hexing me and stuff.”
“And stuff?” James asked carefully.
Hugo shuffled from one foot to the other.
“Keeps saying Rose is the smart one, that everyone knows I’m a good for nothing and no one likes me,” Hugo admitted quietly. “That my parents are useless.”
“Who is this little ba…” James stopped. He really shouldn’t be using bad language in front of his younger cousin.
“Malfoy,” Hugo said.
James didn’t need a first name to know the insolent little toe rag who was tormenting Hugo. He’d heard his father and Uncle Ron talking about Draco Malfoy, Scorpius’s father, who they hated in school, and didn’t think much more of now. It also wasn’t the first time since Scorpius had arrived with Rose and Albus that James had learnt how arrogant and annoying the boy was. From what he could work out, he was as much the jerk his father had been.
James stepped forward and clapped Hugo on the shoulder.
“You leave Malfoy to me. I’ll show that little prat what happens when he messes with my friends.”
Hugo looked up at James and smiled nervously.
“We’re cousins,” he said quietly.
“That means we can’t be friends?” James asked with a knowing smirk. Hugo shook his head gently. “Well, good.”
“James,” Hugo said quietly as James pulled opened the door. James turned back. “Thanks.”
“No problem. That brat won’t know what hit him.”
James returned to his dorm hoping that what he’d said to Hugo had maybe helped his cousin in his anxiety, and vowing that Malfoy would know never to mock a Weasley or a Potter again.
Not a serious amount to say here, just the usual stuff. If you liked it, please review, if you didn't, please review and tell me why.
New chapter should be up within the next fortnight. I'm planning for NaNo and also working a full time job now, but I will be with you as soon as possible.
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