“ Why can’t you two be normal?!”

“ Your definition of ‘normal’ is very mainstream, Lennox.”

“ Not in this case. If anybody knew what went on in this house we would all be committed! For god’s sakes, Lorc!”

My younger brothers pay no more attention to my yelling. They continue to burn pieces of wood and crumble them into pieces, then feed them to the hideous creature in the cage before them. Eventually my curiosity gets the best of me.

“ Ok…what is that thing?”

Lysander stops feeding it long enough to answer me. “ We’re not sure, really. Some sort of hybrid of a phoenix and a dragon.”

“ Fabulous! We’ve got a…Phragon or a Droenix living in the house! Marvelous!”

“ That’s a good idea, Len. We’ll call her a Droenix.”

I throw my arms into the air and leave their room. Why I even go in there is beyond me, because it only ever makes me pissed off or I end up with unexplainable burn marks or rashes. I only went in there today because their new ‘Droenix’ makes a noise like a chainsaw ripping into ice.

“ Did you see the boys’ new pet?” asks my dad as I come into the kitchen.

I roll my eyes at him from behind the fridge door. “ Yes. If you ask me it looks dangerous, and they’re feeding it bits of burnt wood.”

“ That’s all it will eat for now. We think it’ll move on to charcoal once its teeth harden a bit.”

‘Oh great,’ I think viciously to my self. ‘Let its teeth get even more sharp and dangerous.’ My entire family has lost their marbles, and I’m next.

Mum comes in after me, holding a charred rug. “ We may have to move the Droenix outside, she’s getting the hang of fire breathing.”

That’s all I need to hear, so I go out into the garden. Of course I can’t sit anywhere because I don’t know where James and Diana were last night, but standing in our garden isn’t so bad. Mum and dad’s many odd pursuits have lead them to discover several exotic plants, which is another reason we’re wealthy.

My favorite is the Despairing Daisy. It always makes me feel better to sit there and listen to it whine about its conditions, because then I feel a teensy bit better.

“ It’s too hot, and I’m so thirsty! Where’s the wind? I used to have a pleasant wind in my field.”

I laugh at the flower. “ You do realize that in your old field you probably complained about other inconsequential things?”

It never knows what to say to that, so it just whimpers. My momentary good mood is ruined when I see James has come over to join the Terrible Twins in getting the Droenix outside. I stomp over to him and drag him backwards by the collar.

“ What’re you doing?” he protests.

“ Though I do love it when you drop in rudely like this I have to insist you scram, Potter. It’s shaping up to be a monumentally crazy morning, and you are helping nothing.”

James chuckles and pulls me off him. “ You worry for nothing. I’m just helping them get the Droenix tethered up. It’ll only take a minute.”

I put my hands on my hips and glare at him, though I am wondering how the name ‘Droenix’ could catch on so quickly. I do laugh as James’ pant leg is seared by the little freak, but I still hate it.

“ Come on, I want to tell you something.”

My irritation turns into surprise as James pulls me behind a large bush in our yard. He has that glint in his eye that usually means I’m going to have a detention in the near future.

“ If what you’re going to do is dangerous please leave me out.”

James rolls his eyes. “ Lenny, would I put you in danger?”

“ The scar on my right buttock shaped suspiciously like one of the Giant Squid’s suckers begs to differ.”

“ That was four years ago! Besides it was your fault, you shouldn’t have screamed.” I open my mouth to argue and James reaches out to shut my lips. “ Ok, that’s not the point. The point is Rose, Matt, and I have planned a spectacular and impromptu graduation getaway. You in?” he whispers. Matt is Rose’s boyfriend by the way.

“ Well…where to?”

“ Vegas!”

“ No.”

James groans. “ You’re so boring, Lenny. It’s all planned out and completely fool-proof, I swear.”

“ I don’t believe anything could be fool-proof if organized by you.”

“ Ok, Rose and Matt did the majority of the work, but it was my idea. It’ll be a blast I promise! We’re going to sneak into casinos and then get Rose drunk and make her get up on stage with the show girls.” James can see he’s winning me over and I hate it.

“ Fine.” I grumble, making James give me a big bear hug. “ Only if you promise not to get me drunk and make me do anything stupid.”

“ Promise! This is going to be so much fun.” says James, rubbing his hands together like a villain.

I throw my hands into the air (for the second time today) and stomp away. “ This is why Becca Ripper got Head Girl instead of me, Potter! YOU are the reason!”

I hear him laugh and sigh, because I can’t stay mad at James. He’s the brother I never had. (Well I have brothers, but I didn’t really get to choose them and they are certifiably insane.) We’ve been insuperable since we had been toddling around, and I can’t see any way it’ll change.


“ You’re sure this is going to be safe and we won’t get in trouble?”

“ For the umpteenth time, Lenny, YES. I have made this so airtight that not even my mother will realize we’re missing.”

I nod, feeling slightly convinced because Rose’s mother is a hawk. I’ve been going over their plans for the past two months, and now it’s just two weeks until we graduate.

I will admit I’m excited about it, especially about not going home. Lorc and Lysander’s Droenix - now named more officially Doris - has grown to the size of a small car and thinks it’s funny to set people’s shoes on fire.

Also it sounds fun to do something out of the ordinary. Though I try not to be I am a very safe person. I like routines and schedules and rules, probably because there are none in my house. This little trip will hopefully make me loosen up a little before trying to start my adult life.

“ Good afternoon.”

Rose and I pretend to pant as the new DADA teacher walks by. He’s in his late twenties, and is so handsome that quite a few girls are failing his class just because they look at him the whole time.

James sneers after him and puffs out his chest to mimic him. “ Good afternoon, girls. Like a feel of my rock-hard pectorals? They’re magically delicious.”

“ They are magically delicious.” Rose giggles and tosses a roll at James.

“ This is what I get for hanging out with girls all the time. I need male friends.”

“ No males want to be your friend. You slept with all their girlfriends.” I point out.

James frowns. “ Guess I’m stuck with you witches.”

“ That is dangerously close to the word ‘bitches’, Jamsie. I would hate to have to hex you on such a lovely afternoon.”

“ Bring it, Loony Junior.”

I narrow my eyes at James. “ Those nicknames are dead. Unless you want me to whip yours out.”

“ Oh, do it! I can’t even remember James’s.” says Rose excitedly.

I grin wickedly at James. “ Pee-wee.”

“ This is the other problem with you two!” James grumbles, turning red as Rose and I scream with laughter. “ You’ve known me far too long, and I hate it.”

Between cackles Rose and I have time to tease him. “ Remember how red you turned?”

“ Aunt Ginny started yelling ‘cause he had peed in his new corduroys!” I shout.

“ Yeah! ‘Those were for church tomorrow, James Sirius!’”

“ Pee-wee isn’t as bad as Karate Kid over there.”

That makes Rose shut up, but James and I keep laughing. When we were all nine we’d gone to an amusement park with James’s parents, and Rose had somehow gotten separated from the group. We found her beating the snot out of an innocent tourist who’d tried to ask where her family was.

“ It looked like he was going to attack me!”


I stop laughing suddenly. “ I think I’m going to pee!”

I have to run out of the Great Hall to get to a bathroom, James and Rose cracking up behind me. As I get into the bathroom and run into a stall I’m laughing too, because it’s endlessly amusing we can make each other laugh hard enough where I almost pee my pants.


“ - and we say a fond farewell to this years graduating 7th years. We know they will all go on to be our next Dumbledores and Merlins -”

“ More like Voldemorts.” James whispers to me, nodding at Scorpius Malfoy.

I shush him. “ He can probably hear you, James.”

“ We’re across the Hall from him, Len.”

“ The devil hears and sees all.”

We snort as quietly as possible without disturbing Headmaster McGonagall’s speech. Rose is standing at the front of the Great Hall in her prefect robes, about to receive her award for impeccable something or other. She wins so many things I don’t bother to keep track anymore.

“ Ok, so tonight we’re going to take my Invisibility Cloak and sneak right off the grounds. You and Rose meet Matt and I outside the Dark Forest, Rose brings our luggage in that little purse of hers, and then we skedaddle.”

I nod. “ Got it.”

After the graduation ceremony the other seventh years go back up the common room, but we slip under James’s cloak and go outside. There we find Matt hiding behind the bushes with our luggage. Rose pulls out her infamous purple, beaded handbag and places all our luggage in it, and we set off across the grounds.

Rose and her research uncovered that after the graduation ceremony seventh years are classified as guests due to leave in the morning, so when we get outside the castle limits we should be able to safely Apparate to Las Vegas.

And since Matt is an evil mastermind we all have fake IDs with us, and his flawless planning is set up so our parents will never be the wiser. We spend the night partying in Vegas, and then we take our luggage and show up at Rose’s house as planned. I hate to admit it but James was right when he said the plan is fool-proof.

“ Everybody ready? Grab on.”

“ What’s this?” I whisper as Rose produces a can of tuna.

“ Portkey.”

James squints in the darkness of Hogsmeade. “ I thought we were going to Apparate.”

“ Well, this is easier for all of us to do at once. It’s about to go, grab on.”

I place my pointer finger on the can of tuna, feeling idiotic. James prods me in the ribs as we wait, and I try to stay as professional and quiet as Matt and Rose. They’re such a mature couple.

It all happens with a whoosh, and a horrible sensation. I hate Portkeys. James shouts like a moron, and Rose rolls her eyes. When we land I shake out my hair and smooth it down, hoping it isn’t too strange from the trip.

“ Shall we go get dressed?” asks Rose, a twinkle in her eye.

As Rose starts to lead us to somewhere she’s researched that has a bathroom we can change in I take in our surroundings. This place does live up to its reputation. Lights flash everywhere, threatening to make my eyes go insane, and people bustle around us like worker ants.

James and Matt are handed their clothing by Rose and go into the men’s, and Rose and I proceed into the women’s loo. The restaurant she picked to change in is small, so we’re alone, thank goodness. Rose locks the door and rummages in her bag to hand me my clothing.

“ Hey, what’s this!” I demand upon seeing what she’s handed me.

Rose shrugs. “ I thought your outfit was a little too…safe.”

“ You’re horrible!”

“ Even so, get ready.”

I scowl at Rose, but I have no choice. There’s no way I can have fun in my school uniform. So I have to change into the skin-tight, hip hugger jeans and lethally tight silver camisole on. When I’m dressed I glare into the mirror, thinking that my hips look too big in these clothes.

Rose hangs on my shoulders, her own apparel shocking me a bit. “ You look hot, Lenny.”

“ Ew, Rose. You’re the hot one. Matt’s going to have to keep his hands over his pants all night.”

Rose rolls her eyes. “ Whatever. Let’s go, I want to get this evening started.”

We go to meet the boys, and upon seeing us both Matt and James start to laugh hysterically. I smack James upside the head.

“ Your cousin dressed me up like Prostitute Barbie, so don’t start. I’m already uncomfortable.”

James continues to chuckle as we start towards the first casino Rose has on the agenda. “ Lenny, I never said you looked bad.”

I can’t help but blush a little bit, but I know it’s just James. We get in line for Palm Resort Casino, Rose in the lead followed by Matt, me, then James. Rose quickly gets us in ( she’s a really strange character. One moment she’ll have her nose in a book and the next she’ll be slipping the bouncer a twenty to get us into a casino faster) and James drags me over to the slots.

“ I bet you can’t win before me.”

“ You’re on, Potter.”

Fifty quarter-less minutes later I huff and leave James alone at the slot machines, because there’s no way I’ll beat that stupid, lucky prat. Rose is playing dice with Matt, laughing uncontrollably at something he’s just said, so I don’t want to bother them. I head over to the bar and sit. After the bartender asks me what I want and I realize I have no idea I peruse what the others around me are drinking.

“ I’ll have…what she’s having.” I amend, pointing at the burlesque woman at the end of the bar.

“ Sex on the Beach.” corrects the bartender as he hands me one.

I snort into the drink. “ What an inappropriate name for a beverage.”

“ You got a cute accent. You from around here?”

I shake my head no. “ London. My friends and I are celebrating finally getting out on our own.”

“ That’s cool. Having fun so far?”

“ Oh, yes. I haven’t won anything, but I’m not that lucky.”

“ Someone pretty as you must be lucky.”

“ Well, thanks.” I whisper, blushing and trying not to giggle. I think he’s flirting with me!

The bartender leans across the bar and twirls my drink in my hands until I’m looking at the risqué label, Sex on the Beach. He smirks and winks at me. “ I know where a few good beaches are.”

“ Hey, Lenny. You ok?”

James appears just as I’m dying and about to turn into a tomato, and he glares furiously at the bartender. I’m a little thankful, though I shouldn’t let James fight my battles for me.

“ Uh, yeah I’m ok, James.”

The bartender ignores the fuming James and continue to stare at me. “ Lenny? That’s a cute name.”

“ She’s with me, arseface.”

My eyes shoot open as James leans in to stare even more threateningly at the bartender, who backs away from me. “ Sorry, dude. Didn’t know.”

“ Yeah, yeah.”

James yanks me up and pulls me away, me still clinging to my drink. The bartender waves at me despite James’s presence, but I can’t flip him off since James is pulling my free arm.

“ What was that? I’m not ‘with you’!” I growl, yanking away from him.

James glares at me. “ Lenny, I never pegged you as naïve, but that was dumb. People here aren’t good-intentioned, no matter what your instincts tell you.”

“ My instincts tell me you’re jealous, sir.” inserts Rose as she and Matt come over to us.

James rolls his eyes. “ Never mind. Whatever. Let’s just hit the next place, ok?”

“ Yeah, fine.”

James and I walk silently side by side to the next casino, Matt and Rose holding hands ahead of us. Never in my memory has there been an awkward moment between James and me, and I feel bad. I shouldn’t have encouraged that creep at the bar.

“ Sorry.” I grumble.

“ S’ok.”

I just don’t feel quite like partying anymore, so at the next place I sit at the bar again. Matt and Rose are visable on the dance floor, making fools of themselves by the looks of it. I laugh and order my fourth drink, paying the new (thankfully female) bartender.

“ Are you having any fun, Lenny?”

“ I don’t know, James. I think I’m a little bored.”

“ I think you’re a little drunk.” laughs James, and from the sounds of it he is too.

I shove him, not very effectively. “ Says who? Don’t lecture me, Potter.”

“ I’ll do what I want, Scamander. Make me quit lecturing you.”

“ Ok.”

Unthinkingly I lean forward and kiss James briefly, nearly falling into him. I have to grab onto the bar to keep myself upright afterwards, and James is staring at me looking staggered.

“ Shut you up, didn’t I. I win, you’re -”

James grabs me and kisses me fiercely, and I go limp in his arms. This is so weird.

All I remember after that is Rose and Matt whooping at us, and others giving us weird looks. Then everything gets a little fuzzy…

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