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"There she is," James said, glaring as smoulderingly as possible across Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. "My arch-nemesis."

"I can't believe of all the people in Hogwarts the best nemesis you could find was an eleven-year-old girl," said Fred.

That was rubbish because Harper was an amazing nemesis, she was vile and wicked and loathed all that was good and fun in the world and when she was angry she went bright red and looked like an infuriated bowl of strawberries. James flapped his hands at Fred until he shut up and stopped completely ruining his creative flow and went back to glaring. Harper didn't seem to notice, because she was surrounded by a million tiny male versions of her. Or maybe four. James couldn't be expected to count when he was blinded by hate for his nemesis.

"She murdered my parents," James said vengefully, fixing on Harper a stare of utmost hate and hopefully a sort of brooding manliness. She still didn't look at him. "I shall have my revenge. I will hunt her far beyond the furthest deserts, the deepest sea, the highest-"

"Er. James?" his dad said.

"Your parents are fine, jackass," said Fred.

"Fred, shut up, yeah? I'm trying to establish a mood," James said. "You never get moods."

"I think it's a great mood," Louis said because unlike some people he was properly loyal. James gave him a look of gratitude and Fred a look of utmost reproach.

"I don't think I understand how I was murdered by a first-year," his dad said, trying to hide a smile.

"I don't know, base treachery and poison," James snapped, closed his eyes and tried to recapture the properly vengeful atmosphere.  It didn't come. "Fred, you ruined it! I will have revenge on you," he told him, and stomped off to about three feet away.

"We're sorry, James," Louis said promptly. "Please come back! Fred's learnt his lesson-"

"No I haven't," said Fred.

"-and he'll never criticise you again no matter how insane you are," Louis finished.

"Yes I will," said Fred.

"I will not be soothed by your flattery and your sweet lies!" James proclaimed. "You - um - you honey-tongued viper!"

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be a honey-tongued viper, it was an accident," Louis said, sounding faintly strangled. James hoped he was choking on his enormous remorse. Hmf. Speaking of viper people, anyway...

"Can you believe Al?" he demanded.

"Oh God, not this again," said Fred, which James ignored in favour of an impassioned rant on Al's family disloyalty that he had been working on for hours.

"Al is a disgrace to us all! Not only is he in Slytherin even though I specifically told him not to be, not only is he mingling with real Slytherins even though everyone knows that's a stupid thing to do, not only does he not like Professor Brand even though he's the best teacher in the whole world: no, it's worse than that. It's far worse than that!" He spun round and raised a dramatic finger at Louis and Fred, who was sitting on his trunk leafing through a comic book because he had no sense of drama. "He is actively seeking to befriend a Malfoy! Fraternizing with our traditional enemies! Publically humiliating his own family! I think we should disown him," he added brightly.

"We're not going to disown Al," their dad said, putting a protective arm around the weaselly little Slytherinish weasel boy.

"Wait, is he talking about me again?" Al asked, looking up confusedly, except that was how Al always looked.

James glowered at them both for not paying attention.

"There's nothing wrong with Slytherin, James, I keep telling you," their dad said.

Oh, yeah, except that they were the only house not to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts and loads of them helped Voldemort instead and their qualifications were practically 'evil wannabe dictator'? It was cute that Dad was trying to pretend Al hadn't messed up his Sorting, but that was probably why the little twit'd thought it was all right to be in the Muggle-Murderer house in the first place. Professor Brand had been in Dumbledore's Army when the Death Eaters had been in charge of Hogwarts and he'd told them what the Slytherins had been up to back then.

"There is so," he informed his dad. "They always cheat at Quidditch and they're rude to Professor Brand and their prefects are insane and keep giggling about murdering the Hufflepuffs-"

"They're not serious about killing the Hufflepuffs," Al put in.

"Avery's the worst one," James said sourly.

"Avery's cool," Al said like a total brainwashed sycophant.

"Avery's a terrible person," Louis said because he was a true friend.

"I don't know who Avery is," their dad said.

"He's our king," Al said, again like a total brainwashed sycophant. Al was so deluded.

"He's the worst one," James announced. "He invented this stupid house solidarity thing where you can't even have one tiny argument with one tiny Slytherin before fifty more of them show up cackling like maniacs and hex you, and-"

"Thank God he's on Al's side, then," their dad said, laughing because he didn't understand the terribleness of the situation.

"Avery didn't invent house solidarity, though," Al said because apparently he'd memorized The Propaganda Version of the History of Slytherin House. "That was another prefect right after the Battle of Hogwarts. Then people stopped doing it for a while after everyone who'd been there for the Battle-"

"More like everyone who'd not been there for the Battle," James said. "Zing!" He raised his hand so Fred could give him a high-five, but Fred just looked at him like he was mental. Al ignored that because he was so in denial he could be eaten by crocodiles any second. Metaphorical crocodiles. James was pretty sure he could handle a real crocodile, though.

"- and Avery just convinced everyone to start doing it again when he was in third year," Al finished.

"Good for him," their dad said.

“He’s not as cool as Al says,” James told his poor misinformed father. “I bet everyone just pretends to respect him because he’s got minions who’re insane.”

“No, we do respect him because he’s got minions,” Al said. “Minions are important. You agree with me, right Dad?”

Al was so delusional! James flung up his hands and stomped off to about ten feet away, then glanced back to make sure everyone was paying attention to him. They weren't.

James checked his watch - still eight minutes until the train went - and stomped further away down the platform, where he stood with his back to his parents and his arms folded. That didn't get a reaction either. Fine, then! James headed further down the platform, looking for a cousin or someone. Maybe Teddy'd be here to snog Victoire again! That was gross, but James liked Teddy. He wished Teddy was his brother instead of Al.

The crowds thinned out towards the end of the platform, where the Apparition area was. James glared at the end of the Hogwarts Express like it had personally offended him. Maybe Harper ran over his parents in the Hogwarts Express. Yeah, that would work. It could be a symbol of his ruined childhood, or the tragic corruption of -

And then a house-elf Apparated in with somebody’s trunk and killed James's train of thought. Typical. He glowered at it balefully and hoped it felt really bad about completely ruining his fun.

Then Malfoy appeared!

"Erk!" said James and hid behind a pillar so he could Conduct Surveillance on them. "Subausculta!" He raised his cupped hands to his face to listen and was nearly deafened when someone else Apparated in as well.

Fortunately, James's eardrums were made of stronger stuff and the Malfoys' wicked plot to deafen him was unsuccessful.

"Thank you, Minny," Scorpius Malfoy said tinnily to the house-elf, as James peeked around the edge of the pillar to Obtain Visual Evidence. "I'll see you at Easter."

"Scorpius, sometimes you remind me of my first cousin," the old woman who'd shown up with them observed, standing well back as Malfoy’s dad picked up his trunk.

"Not the Potter-loving traitor, I hope," Malfoy said sulkily.

"…Sometimes you remind me very much of my only cousin," the old woman said, which James barely heard because he was busy having spasms. Stealthy spasms. The Malfoys were evil! That totally proved it! James had known all along and everyone had said he was being ridiculous, ha ha well they'd all know he was right now. James nearly did a happy little dance before he remembered he was conducting espionage and the Aurors' Handbook was weirdly specific about not dancing during espionage.

The Malfoys headed down the platform, Malfoy and his dad hauling Malfoy's bits and pieces after them and James sneaking along after them like the ninja goons in The Adventures of Milo Blishwick, Superspy! Then he got tired of ninja sneaking and dashed over to them.

"Hi!"

The Malfoys stared at him, no doubt astonished that their vile duplicitous machinations had been revealed. Also, Malfoy's dad was going bald.

"You're going bald," James told him. Mr Malfoy went red. Malfoy went white and started forward, before the old woman put out a hand to stop him and Mr Malfoy gripped his shoulder in a symbolic handing-down of Death Eater values! The Malfoys were so blatantly evil, James was amazed nobody had noticed before.

"Who are you?" she asked James.

"James Potter!" James announced. "James Sirius Potter, even." Because it was important that the Malfoys knew he would fight against their evil forever and ever until the end of time, which both his namesakes had done.

The old woman quirked an eyebrow, which made James automatically hate her because he’d been trying to do that for years and never managed it.  “And I expect you intend to follow the example of your namesakes?”

“Yeah!”

“Then, fortunately, we shall not have to suffer your company for very long,” the old woman said, and turned away. Malfoy blanched.

…was that a joke? James didn’t get it.

The Malfoys were moving away and James was about to go interrogate them about their evil ways some more when the whistle blew. Everything was interrupting him today! What was with that? He chalked it up to an evil conspiracy and dashed off to meet up with Fred and Louis again.

“I saw the Malfoys!” he told them when he finally found them in the train corridor, and leant out the window to wave goodbye to his parents.

“Shut up about the sodding Malfoys,” Fred said.

“And they - look, there they are again!” James hung out the window and pointed to Malfoy. “Look what he’s doing!” Harper was tossing Malfoy’s trunk into the train, and Malfoy himself was hugging the other Slytherin girl who didn’t do much. He was obviously trying to seduce her into the Death Eaters! Malfoy’s plans were so transparent, James would be amazed if any of them ever worked.

“Did you see what Malfoy was doing?” he asked Fred and Louis, because he had this creeping suspicion that they might not have been looking.

“Shut up about the Malfoys. Please,” Fred said. “If you say Malfoy one more time I swear on Merlin’s knickers I will throttle you to death.”

“I don’t talk about the Malfoys that much,” James said.

“Argh!” Fred said.

“All right, I’ll stop talking about them if you don’t want to battle against evil with me,” James snapped.

“I seriously don’t,” Fred informed him. James stared at him reproachfully. Fred didn’t repent.

“Oh, fine,” James said grumpily, climbing down from the window as the train started to move. Malfoy had skulked out of sight by then anyway. “I won’t mention Those People Who Must Not Be Named ever again. Okay?”





“Look at Malfoy over there,” James said sourly at the evening feast. “He looks so smug. Him and his stupid smug ferret face.”

Fred started banging his head against the table.

“Malfoy’s face is terribly smug,” Louis agreed. “With distinct ferretlike qualities.”

“I bet you he’s laughing at us,” James said, rummaging in his pockets for the collapsible telescope he could have sworn he had somewhere. “And at Al. But mostly at us. He is brooding with dark delight over our ignomonimy,” he added. “Have either of you seen my telescope?”

“The last time I did, it was on your floor near your sock pile,” Louis said.

Then no-one was ever going to see it again. And Uncle George’s eavesdropping spell wouldn’t work all the way across the Great Hall, it just got Hufflepuffs blithering about ponies and glitter or whatever it was Hufflepuffs talked about.

“I think we should take revenge on him,” he said.

“You think we should take revenge on lots of people, which is brilliant but confusing,” Louis said. “Do you mean Malfoy or Al today?”

“Please mean Al. Al’s easy to take revenge on,” Fred said to the table. “All we ever have to do is shove him off something.”

“No, I mean Malfoy. For ensnaring Al,” James corrected, and then relented and added “And maybe we can take revenge on Al after. For getting ensnared and being a stupid nit. I warned him not to be in Slytherin, you know.”

“No you didn’t. You told him he’d be in Slytherin and laughed until you fell over. We all saw you,” Fred said.

“Yeah, exactly!” James said. “So he should have worked out that Slytherin is a rubbish house to be in!” He glared across the Great Hall at the Slytherins. The Slytherins, depraved execrable antagonists that they were, didn’t notice. “So we should avenge my family’s honour on him. But first, Malfoy!”

So after dinner they all went to the library to research Evil Malfoys of the Past and also Herbology because James had some homework for that he probably should have done during the holidays. James always did his Herbology homework eventually, though, it wasn’t like Potions or Astronomy or something, it was just sometimes he didn’t do it right away. And he always paid attention in Herbology class, unless he had something else really important to do like when he’d been planning out Harry Potter and the Minotaur of Pompeii and all the complicated themes and symbolism and stuff, because that had been a Masterpiece and it would have been a crime to deprive the Gryffindors of it.  Anyway Professor Neville was Lily’s godfather and one of James’s favourite professors, after Professor Brand of course because Neville was cool but he just wasn’t as tough as Professor Brand was.

So obviously when he found out what Malfoy’s great-aunt Bellatrix had done to Professor Neville’s parents, he had to tell everyone. It would have been a travesty of justice for people not to know.

And then maybe he got a bit carried away. But that was all right, wasn’t it? If it showed everyone what nasty pieces of work all the Malfoys were, it was practically his duty to embellish the truth a little bit.

So the next day, in the entrance hall just after lunch, James took the opportunity to preach the truth.  Enough people had wandered out of the Great Hall and settled in to listen - some sitting on their satchels, some leaning against the walls, some just watching with their hands in their pockets - that he thought he ought to make a proper show out of it.

“So Malfoy’s grandfather collected all the Muggleborn prisoners together - or rather, what he claimed was all the Muggleborn prisoners - and locked them all into one horrible tiny room and went away,” James said, jabbing his finger at the page of his book (not that what he was saying was in the book, but whatever)  and inspecting his audience for interest. “So the Muggleborns waited, confused but relieved that at least they weren’t dead, but when the moon rose and it turned out there were werewolves in there with them…” And James was going to leave the next bit up to everyone’s imaginations because he didn’t think he knew enough synonyms for ‘gore’.  A shocked whisper ran around the entrance hall and James snapped his book shut triumphantly.  He’d been worried that people wouldn’t be impressed if he stopped using what Louis said was his ‘unique personal style’ of talking, but Fred had said it was okay because this was non-fiction and talking like a moron with a thesaurus lodged in his brain (Fred was just jealous that he didn’t have a unique personal style) wouldn’t be very impressive. James guessed Fred was right about some stuff sometimes.

“Can’t believe we’re slagging off Malfoy when we could be eating,” Fred said under his breath. “This is stupid.”

Fred was really wrong about some other stuff, though. So James ignored that and started flicking ostentatiously through the book again. He wasn’t about to let anything ruin this for him.

“Oi, Potter! Hell you doing now?”

Harper stomped out of the Great Hall and glared at James because she was magnetically attracted to people having fun or something. On the bright side, she had Malfoy with her! (And the Slytherin girl who didn’t do much, but who cared, right?)

Malfoy was looking at the audience suspiciously (they were all looking at him suspiciously, too, which James counted as a victory for the side of Good) and drew closer to Harper.

“Potter! You deaf? I said what the hell are you playing at now?”

“He was telling us how his grandfather gave Muggleborns to the werewolves,” a Ravenclaw prefect said coolly and pointed at Malfoy (who just looked calmly and annoyingly blank).   

“Is your name Potter? No? Then shut it,” Harper said, and made a rude gesture at the Ravenclaw. A Hufflepuff girl burst out laughing, but Hufflepuffs were thick like that sometimes so James wasn’t going to hold it against her.

“That’s a lie, in any case,” Malfoy said.

“Is not!” James said.

“Yes, it is. That was Yaxley,” Malfoy said, darting a quick glance at the audience. James thought he saw him take a deep breath. “None of my relatives had anything to do with that.”

“Oh, yeah, Yaxley,” James said, with as much sarcasm as he could muster up and also fingerquotes just to be sure everyone got it. “You know a suspicious amount about what the Death Eaters did, you know that, Malfoy? What, bedtime stories?”

That got a laugh out of Fred. 

“So do you, jackass,” Harper snapped, advancing menacingly upstage.

“I read it in a book,” James said proudly, waving the book at Malfoy.

“Oh well done, you’ve learned to read,” Malfoy said, the calm fracturing slightly. “Whereas I couldn’t possibly have done the same?”

James thought about that.

“…Fred, Malfoy thinks I can’t read!”

“He was being sarcastic. You idiot,” said Fred. James would have complained about Fred being disloyal again, but that was when Al showed up blinking at people confusedly like normal. Excellent!

“Oh fine then,” James said, folding his arms. He‘d been saving this for the finale, but it would work just as well here. “You want to talk about someone who is in your family, then? Like Bellatrix Lestrange?”

All the colour drained out of Malfoy’s face. James mentally clapped himself on the back for getting a reaction out of the stupid ferret and kept an eye on Al, who still just looked confused.

“…who’s Bellatrix Lestrange?” the boring Slytherin girl asked Harper in a whisper. Nobody would have been able to hear her if it hadn’t be so quiet. It was nice she’d given James such a good lead-in, anyway.

“Bellatrix Lestrange, his great-aunt, once tortured a pair of noble and valiant Aurors with the Cruciatus Curse until they went totally insane and ended up dying in St Mungo’s,” James announced. Al’s face scrunched up. There were angry mutters from the crowd, but James wasn’t done yet. “And you know who those Aurors were?”

Malfoy lifted his chin and met James’s stare.

Professor Longbottom’s mum and dad,” James said, with considerable relish.

There was an indignant shriek from some girl in the audience and everyone else seemed to react the same way - gasping and hissing to each other and getting to their feet. Harper swore and started towards James.

“Well, that’s not his fault,” Al said.

“…wait what,” James said, and went undignifiedly high-pitched. “Al! Professor Neville’s Lily’s godfather!” Harper'd stopped and was watching Al. That was annoying. James's nemesis wasn't supposed to get bossed around by his kid brother.

“I know that,” Al said, scanning the audience. None of the audience looked very pleased with him, but Al kept running his mouth off anyway. “It’s still not Score’s fault!”

James goggled at him. Malfoy looked like he thought Al was insane too, but that wasn’t much consolation.

“Dad says you can’t judge people because of their families, anyway,” Al said.

“That’s not right!” Where’d Al’s sense of loyalty gone?

“…are you saying Dad’s wrong?” Al said. Did he look more focused all of a sudden? James decided it was his imagination.

“No, you aren’t getting it - what Dad meant was that you can’t be a git to people because they’re Muggleborn,” he explained patiently. Wow, Al was slow on the uptake.

“And why not?” Al said.

James almost exploded on the spot. “What the hell do you mean, why not? Are you a Death Eater now or something?”

“...that's sort of not what I was getting at,” Al said.

“What were you getting at, then?” a Hufflepuff sixth-year demanded, getting to his feet with his fists clenched.  There was a low mutter of assent: all around the hall people were shifting and turning angry faces on Al. Al blanched, and the boring Slytherin girl squeaked and clutched at his arm while Harper put herself squarely between the sixth-year and Al.

“James?” Louis said softly in his ear. “I think this could get ugly.”

“Nah, it’s fine, I’m winning,” James whispered back, and he was just thinking about what he could yell at Al for next when the bell rang for the end of lunch.

That really had to stop happening. And James was going to make it stop happening except that if he didn’t make a move right then he was going to be late for DADA! He stuffed the book into his bag and added a quick “See you later, Lord Aldemort,” over his shoulder as Fred and Louis grabbed their bags. The Entrance Hall was clearing out pretty quickly, though that might have been because the two loony Slytherin prefects had shown up and were standing behind Al, grinning like a pair of serial killers deciding who to eat first.

“Unbelievable, yeah? I could’ve sworn we had like twenty minutes!” James panted as the three of them dashed along the History of Magic corridor in a desperate race against time. Fred stopped dead.

“Fred!” James wailed, skidding to a halt and hopping up and down. “We’ll be late for DADA!”

Fred was looking at his watch. “You said we had twenty minutes? We’ve got twenty-six.”

…huh?

“Nobody came out of the Great Hall-” Louis said, cottoning on.

“…huh?” said James, not that anyone seemed to hear him.

“-because they didn’t hear the bell go. Potter, we got played.” Fred made an exasperated noise.

“Oh my God!” James exploded. “Bloody Slytherins!”

“And Al and Malfoy’ll’ve sodded off by now,” Fred added sourly.

“They think they’re so brilliant, they think they can just stop anyone from exercising their right to free speech any time they want,” James grumbled, dropping his bag so he could make indignant hand gestures. “And what was Al doing? Did you hear him call Malfoy Score? What is that, a nickname?”

“Nah, Potter, Al just can’t pronounce Scorperius. ‘Course it was a sodding nickname, idiot!”

“That’s unbelievable,” James said, rumpling his hair up and pacing and wishing Hogwarts had some moors. “He’s nicknaming Malfoys! Has he no shame? Does he even know how he’s making himself look? How he’s making Dad look?” Did Dad know how bad Al was making him look, even? “He has besmirched our august father’s noble reputation,” James added darkly. “If any honour yet remained within his weasel soul he would be committing ninja ritual suicide right now.”

“I’m sure that’d be lovely but I really don’t think Al’s going to disembowel himself for you,” Louis said. “Maybe you should think of a different plan?”

James struck a pensive pose, head down, stroking an imaginary beard. Fred and Louis waited (Louis expectantly, Fred with his face in his hands).

“I,” James said, slowly and reverentially (after three minutes and seventeen seconds, according to Fred’s watch) “have had a brilliant idea.”

“Oh God,” said Fred.

“Fantastic!” said Louis. “So what is it?”





Note: Just so everyone knows...

>...because Neville was cool but he just wasn’t as tough as Professor Brand was.

James is delusional. Neville > Prof. Brand. If they ever duelled Brand would get owned so hard Grandma Brand would sit up in her coffin and go 'Crap! What was that?' This is because Neville is the most badass person in the Potterverse and everyone knows it.

Just making sure there's no confusion. Love you all lots!

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