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“James Sirius Potter! How many times to I have to tell you? Get out of bed this instant or we’ll miss the train!” Mum screamed up the stairs, sounding as terrified as if a herd of hippogriffs was prancing through the living room. Let me tell you, if there's one thing my mother doesn't understand, it's the importance of a good night’s sleep.

“Whatever, Mum,” I grumbled through my nose, fairly certain she hadn't heard me. As much as I enjoyed my sleep, missing the train was not an option. I obviously had to be there, in order to greet my loving fans first thing; lateness is never acceptable from a celebrity.

Cursing loudly at nothing in particular, I rolled over and fell out of bed. “Oh, shit. Why can I never remember not to do that?!” I lumbered into the bathroom in search of a comb and, once I had found it, yanked it through my hair a good three or four times. “There, all set!”

After pulling on my ratty jeans and a sweatshirt, I grabbed my Hogwarts clothes that were strewn in clumps about the room and stuffed them carelessly into my trunk, where they rested with all the other disgusting debris. Cleanliness and I are about as good friends as my father and Lord Voldemort.

I set aside my uniform in a separate bag so I could change into it on the train. Unless, of course, I had a sudden urge to irk Professor Nott into giving me a detention first thing. Like they say, we’d cross that bridge when we came to it.

I dashed down the stairs like a mad man, my tousled, longer-than-too-short hair probably sticking out every which way, judging from the appalled look Mum gave me as I sat down. “Did you think of combing your hair this morning, James?”

I nodded emphatically and stuffed a piece of toast into my mouth to avoid having to answer.

“Did you, really?” Her left eyebrow lifted like it always did when she was skeptical. Blimey! I just used a big word!

“But mom,” I pleaded through my mouthful of bread. “I did comb it, I swear on Dumbledore’s grave!”

There was a collective gasp from everyone seated around me.

“Excuse me?”

“Erm, I meant, yeah, I did comb it.” I swear on Dumbledore’s grave, I added sullenly in my head.

My mum heaved a sigh. “I’d like to make you go comb it properly this time, but we’d miss the train, and I can’t have that happen now, can I?”

“Uh-uh!” I insisted helpfully. Snatching another piece of toast from the table, I slung my bag over my shoulder and sprinted out the door before she could change her mind.

Flinging open the passenger side door, I opened my mouth wide and crowed, “Shotgun!”

My father came up behind me - shaking his head like he usually did whenever I spoke -and laid a hand on my shoulder. “Sorry, James, but your mother gets shotgun.”

I sighed. “Damn.”

“James.” His voice was dangerously soft.

Even I, the King of Pranks and Mischief, knew better than to backtalk my dad. “Sorry.”

Disappointed, I turned away and stuck my foot in the backseat. “Move over, Al,” I commanded.

My little brother, Albus, looked up from his ever-present book and rolled his emerald eyes. “You know I hate the middle,” he complained, scooting over anyways.

“Then make Lily sit in the middle,” I suggested amiably, stepping into the car and settling into the window seat.

“Um, I think not,” my little sister, Lily, snapped. She strode towards us, her ponytail swinging commandingly behind her like it always did. “Move,” she ordered me, the look in her eyes leaving no room for argument.

I scurried to do as I was told, trying to avoid incurring her wrath. “Wait a minute, there is no way I’m sitting in the middle!” I exclaimed, flailing around the car wildly. But it was too late. My dad had already packed the trunks away and both he and Mum were climbing in the car.

“I get carsick,” I muttered, feeling persecuted.

“James, the train station is five minutes away,” Mum said impatiently.

I let out an elongated sigh. “Fine.”

After about four hours of extreme pain and suffering we finally pulled to a halt in front of the train station. I never have been very saintly, nor a good judge of time.

I shoved my way out of the car, ignoring Lily’s complaints, and took a deep breath of the fresh fall air. At least, it was fresh until the station decided to billow about a hundred tons of smoke, filling my lungs with soot.

I coughed and coughed until Lily climbed out of the car and began patting me on the back. I jerked away from her instantly. “What the hell are you doing?” I asked, immediately ceasing my fake coughing.

“James, please try not to die now. I don’t know what your fan club would do without you,” she replied sarcastically, picking up her bag and sauntering off towards the station.

“Don’t be snarky! I am their guiding light.” My clever response was totally lost on her swishing ponytail.

Before I could keep yelling at my obnoxious little sister’s retreating back, however, Mum stepped out of our car and came over to me.

“I almost died in there!” I clutched my stomach and doubled over, feeling a bit like an old man without a cane.

“James, you are one strange kid.”

“Thank you, mum.”

“But I love you anyways,” she added, ruffling my hair.

“You’re messing up my hair,” I fake-whined.

“Very funny. Now go help your father with the suitcases so we can get you kids to the train on time.”

“Right!” I exclaimed. “Got to be on time. Dad!”

Ten minutes later, the five of us stood at Platform 9 and ¾, enjoying the somewhat peaceful surroundings until a sudden, piercing scream pierced signaled the arrival of my cousin Rose.

"Rose!" Albus exclaimed, as she and her trolley clattered to a halt.

"Hi!" Rose let go of the trolley and gave my little brother a huge hug. Over her shoulder, he wrinkled his nose at me. The two of them were practically close as bread and butter, though, in my mind, their differences were numerous.

Rose squealed as her trolley gave a jolt and began rolling away in the crowd. "No! My trunk!" she exclaimed, trying to push through the hordes of people to grab it. But, as if it were hexed, it spun just out of her reach and propelled up the length of the platform.

Dropping my bag, I took off after it, dashing and weaving around the clusters of families. But when I reached the trolley, I realized that someone had already found it. And that someone was staring at me with the coldest, grayest, most menacing stare I’ve ever seen.

"Malfoy." I acknowledged him with a nod of the head.

"Potter," he spat back.

I knew I should thank him for retrieving my cousin's trolley but I couldn't quite work up the courage. Turning my back on him, I maneuvered the cart away, back up the platform towards my family.

"Was that Scorpius?" Rose inquired as I shoved her trolley at her, craning her neck to see over my shoulder.

"Malfoy you mean?" I asked pointedly.

"Er, yeah," she replied hastily, the smallest blush coloring her cheeks.

"Look, I don't want to get into this now," I muttered to her, "But if I hear so much as a whisper about the two of you-" I trailed off, leaving my meaning to her imagination.

Behind me, Lily and Hugo greeted each other much in the way Rose had greeted Albus. Lily was practically squeezing her poor cousin to death as she hugged him and he was frantically trying to pull away.

"Okay, Lil, glad to see you too, now would you please let me go?"

Sick of the family gathering already, I moved to pick up my trunk and board the train, but my dad's hand on my shoulder stopped me. "Son, you haven't even said hello to your aunt and uncle yet."

I slouched over to them and mumbled a greeting. "Hi Uncle Ron, Aunt Hermione."

"Hello there, James. Seventh year already, huh?" my Uncle Ron asked, patting me on the back.

"Yup."

"They grow up so fast," Aunt Hermione said in an aside to my mum.

Uncle Ron leaned towards me conspiratorially. "You keep an eye on my Rosie now, won't you? I know Albus is looking out for her, but I'm a bit suspicious of goings-on with that Malfoy boy."

"Of course I will, Uncle Ron," I assured him.

"Thanks, my boy. You won't tell her I suspect anything, though, right?"

"My lips are sealed."

He gave me a wink. "Good, good. Glad I can count on you."

Smiling at him, I walked over to my Dad. "Hey, Dad, do I have to wait for Uncle George and Aunt Angelina? Or-" I paused and shuddered, "Uncle Percy?"

"No, son, you can go now. I know you're eager to meet your friends."

"Thanks a lot, Dad."

I gave my mum a brief hug. “Bye, Mum.” Shaking hands with my dad, I said good bye to him, too.

“Later, Al,” I told my brother, giving him a charming wave.

I winked at Rose. "Watch out for Malfoy, you never know what he might have up his sleeve." She blushed and I chuckled to myself.

“Stay away from the boys, Lily,” I instructed my little sister, delighting in the enraged look on her face. Flashing one last smile at them all, I grabbed my bag and dashed up onto the train.

Shoving my way through the throngs of people cluttering the aisle, I craned my neck, looking for my friends, all the while basking in the reverent glances people were giving me.

“Oi, Jamesie!” called a voice I knew to be my best mate, Luke’s.

Damn! I thought. Those girls up there are really hot! But the hotties would have to wait. My best friend stood behind me, grinning his devilish grin with his green eyes twinkling, giving him an air that made him look as if he were ready for anything.

“Hey, mate, good summer?” I greeted him.

“Couldn’t have been better. Well, unless that hottie, DeAndra Wilkes had moved in next door, I suppose. But a guy can always dream.” He reached out a hand for our secret handshake as we chortled at his joke. Weird ritual finished, Luke dragged me along behind him, leading me up the aisle to our compartment.

The moment the glass door to our right slid open, I caught sight of my other two partners in crime. Eddie Bryant, the soccer guy, and Alex Eckersley, the crazy guy.

“Hey, mates!” I greeted them, cocking my head to the side in our customary gesture of greeting. The handshake was reserved for only Luke, even though I was almost as close with them as I was with him.

“Hey, Junior, or should I say Captain,” Eddie exclaimed, looking up from his Muggle newspaper. Ed has called me Junior since the first day we met, seeing as how I’m the second James Potter.

“Wow, James, I am wicked psyched to be 7th years, aren’t you?” Alex practically screamed in my ear.

I know the bloke either seems crazy or high but he just takes a tad bit of getting used to is all.

“Yeah, yeah, of course buddy, but you’ve really got to relax,” I told him, patting his shoulder calmingly. Or, at least, what I thought was calmingly; it only seemed to excite him more.

“Blimey, though, James, I’m gonna die I’m so cock-a-hooped!” he yelled again.

“Alex, please, don’t die.” I slid gracefully into a seat. “Where would we all be without your charming sense of humor?”

That quieted him slightly. “Aww, that’s nice of you so I’ll just shut up now. It’s just that I’ve had too many chocolate frogs, I guess.”

I made a face at him. “Is there ever a time of day when you haven’t had too many chocolate frogs?”

He looked at me seriously for a minute, as if he were actually thinking about my question. “Nope, not really.”

Sparing me further idle chatter, the door opened revealing two of the prettiest, most popular girls in Gryffindor by the names of Stephanie Langan and Meygan White.

“Hey, boys!” Steff chirped, smiling and twisting her blond ponytail around her finger as she sat down next to Luke. She’s always had a thing for him but I don’t think he returns her obsession. Wait, did I say that? I meant, her, um, enjoyment of his company. Ha. Haha.

Meygan settled into the seat next to me and tossed her straight red hair out her eyes with one of those classic head flips girls always do. I think they think we like it when they toss their heads like thestrals. Not that I’ve ever seen one. A thestral, I mean.

“Hey, James,” she greeted me, sliding an arm around my waist casually. ”I heard you were picked for Quidditch Captain.” There was no disguising the admiration in her voice.

I couldn’t help but puff out my chest a bit and reply, “Of course. Hasn’t the job been destined for me for the past six years?”

Everyone laughed at my pompous comment and Meygan fluttered her eyelashes, rather sickeningly if you ask me. But no one really asked me…

Steff got to her feet and stepped into the hallway outside the compartment, returning a second later dragging another girl behind her. Another girl who, in my opinion, had the most gorgeous blue eyes known to man.

“Kat, I told you to come in already!” Steff admonished her friend.

Katherine Willoughby – or Kat, as she preferred to be called – was the third girl in their trio. Somehow, though, she had always seemed to be different than the other two. Don’t get me wrong, Steff and Meygan are my friends and are undoubtedly very attractive girls. But Kat. There was something different about her.

Every day of my six years at Hogwarts had been spent with these girls, the most popular girls of course, and we always had an elephant-sized lump of fun when they were around. The only hitch in this whole set up was the fact that Kat hated my guts.

Yes, witches and wizards of the Wizarding World. I’m the lucky fellow who gets to be the object of all Katherine Willoughby’s inner rage. Don’t ask me where the rage comes from, all I know is I pay the price for it. And it costs a pretty penny, let me tell you. Or a pretty Sickel, as the case may be.

The girl in question gave a charming roll of her eyes. “Steff, I told you already! I’m not interested.”

“Sweetie, why not? You’re, like, the life of the party around here,” Meygan coaxed, toying with my hair as she spoke.

“Well, no, actually. That would be me,” I butted in, receiving a round of laughter and applause.

Despite my charming sense of humor, Kat looked livid. “James Sirius Potter! You are an arrogant prat, do you know that? It’s all about you, all the time!” she blew up at me.

“How do you know my middle name?” Okay, fine, so I changed the subject just the teensiest bit but she shouldn’t be mad at me just because I’m naturally popular!

It looked as though she’d just gotten past mad on the angry-meter because her face was turning a lovely shade of pink. “You think you’re the coolest thing since sliced bread!”

With a struggle, I extricated myself from Meygan’s arms and sauntered over to Kat. Setting my hands comfortingly on her shoulders, I gave my best puppy-dog face. “I am, darling.”

Before I could do anything, she had wrenched away from me and slapped me hard across the face. “Don’t you ‘darling’ me, you ignorant tosser!” And then she was gone.

“What was that?” I whirled around to face them all, astounded, my hand to my cheek.

Meygan rolled her eyes and patted the seat next to her for me to sit down again. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her. You know she’s always like this, Jamesie.”

Jamesie? Since when did Meygan call me Jamesie?

“Why do you insist on antagonizing her?” Steff asked accusingly.

“What? Antagonize her? That was purely, one-hundred percent, her fault, okay?”

“Fine, maybe she started it but you know she gets mad easily.”

Yes, thank you, Eddie. Now I feel just splendid. “Excuse me? Whose side are you on here, anyways?”

“Hey, Junior, I’m on the side… of the truth!” Eddie jumped to his feet and pulled out his wand, being dramatic as usual.

“Whatever, Ed. I just want to fix this. I mean, maybe one of you should go talk to her,” I suggested, trying to be helpful.

“She’s not gonna drop it until her problem gets fixed. If she’s anything, she’s stubborn,” Steff replied.

“Well then what are we supposed to do?”

“Why don’t you go talk to her, James?”

“What?” I yelled in total outrage. “You’re kidding, right? I’m the one who started this problem in the first place.” I glared at them all for even suggesting such nonsense.

“Exactly,” Meygan remarked, losing me completely. “So only you can resolve it.”

I gulped visibly. “But I, but-”

“Face it, man, you’ve got a job to do,” Luke told me, laughing and patting me on the back.

“Oh, fine.” I got to my feet, still pouting, and marched to the door before I could change my mind. “But if I don’t come back, it’s your fault,” I tossed over my shoulder, hoping someone would stop me.

Alex threw back his head and laughed, sounding slightly maniacal. “Not likely. The great James Potter can survive anything!”

I tried to laugh too but because no one important is reading this, I’ll admit that I was anything but excited. And that it came out sorta like a snort.

“Good luck, mate,” Eddie called as I slid the door closed behind me.

“Oh, great, that helps a whole lot,” I muttered to myself as I forged my way through the clogged aisle, craning my head to find that stubborn Willoughby.

Everywhere I looked, the compartments were full of kids: first years stuffing their faces, second years reading books, and more normal people laughing and joking around. But because I have the worst luck of the century, none of them held the person I was looking for.

After a moment, I realized with annoyance that I was almost at the end of the train. And I still hadn’t found her. Here in the no-man’s land of the back compartments, hardly any people were around and I was about ready to turn around and head back empty-handed.

“You can do one more compartment, Jamesie,” I told myself with a shrug, grabbing the handle of the nearest door. I slid it open with a vicious bang and my mouth dropped open when I saw Kat sitting alone by the window.

She turned to see what the noise was but when she saw me, the pleasantishness on her face turned to what looked a lot like annoyance. It actually looked rather like a storm cloud had just landed on her head and started spewing cold rain. “What’re you doing here, Potter?” She put the accent on the ‘you’ in an accusing way.

I shrugged nonchalantly and sank onto the seat across from her. “I figured I should come make sure you were okay,” I told her, sticking my hands lazily into my pockets. Inside, though, I didn’t feel half as careless as I was trying to look.

She rolled her eyes. “Uh-huh, and I’m the Minister of Magic!” Her voice was much more sarcastic than I thought necessary. “What do you want?”

I widened my eyes innocently. “Me? Nothing!”

She looked away from me, back out the window. The look on her face made it seem like she’d never seen rain before in her life.

I sat silently for a minute, thinking. “Kat, in all seriousness, what did I do?”

“I told you already.”

“Well, I don’t remember, so tell me again!” I insisted.

“First of all, you’re the most arrogant person I’ve ever met.” She turned her stunning blue gaze on me, blinding me for a second. “Second, you think everyone is your slave,” she added, her amazingly pretty, chestnut brown hair distracting me immensely.

“I do not,” I protested weakly, crossing my arms.

“Yes, you do. Even your friends are like your house elves! I mean, tell me, is that fair? I didn’t think so!” she exclaimed, looking ready to blow up.

“I didn’t even answer yet,” I whined. “I don’t treat my friends like slaves, why would you even say that?” I liked to joke, but this just wasn’t funny anymore. I paused. “Okay, so maybe I treat other people like my servants sometimes. But they want to be, just ask them!”

“Even so, that’s exactly what I’m talking about! You totally take your popularity for granted. Did you ever think that maybe being popular is a chance to influence people for the better, not to throw your weight around? Of course not. You never think of that; you never think of anything but yourself!”

“That hurts,” I answered, a little exaggeratedly, sounding as if I didn’t really care. But deep down, I did. I had always thought Kat and I were kind of friends. Why did she think these things about me?

“Well, good, because what you do hurts me!” she exclaimed. In a much quieter voice, she whispered, “You used to be so different.”

“How was I different? I’m me now, I’m exactly the same as I’ve always been,” I replied, thoroughly confused.

“No, James. No, you’re not. You think you’re so smart!”

“Well, I did get eight OWLs,” I told her, not able to help myself.

She stared daggers at me and I figured that hadn’t been the right thing to say. “I got nine.” Her blue eyes flashed dangerously and for a second, I sorta forgot where I was.

Shaking my head to snap out of the momentary trance, I decided to show her I’m the same old James. “Good for you,” I answered sincerely, patting her shoulder.

She jerked away. “You’re impossible! Just go away until you can learn to do something right,” she told me harshly.

“You know what.” I threw my hands in the air. “Fine. I came in here to try and apologize for whatever it was that you think I did, but I just don’t care anymore.” There wasn’t an ounce of humor in my voice, for maybe the first time in my life.

She didn’t answer, just kept staring out at the falling rain.

I got up, thoroughly disgusted, but then on a sudden impulse I turned back to her. “I hope you’re happy with yourself, Kat,” I told her, my voice full of unintended contempt.

Still she acted as if I wasn’t there, ignoring me completely. I was done. I wasn’t taking it any longer. No more Mr. Nice Guy from me!



Author's Note: Edited 7.21.11 for grammar and style :) Please leave a review!

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