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 The first party of the new school year was going to be on the first weekend of October, after the Hogsmeade Saturday. Whilst the Gryffindors started off somewhat reluctantly, I was quick to point out the whole of 6th and 7th years in both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were going, so I talked Harry into it. As soon as Gryffindor house found out Harry Potter was going, they were game. Although how we kept it from teachers was beyond me. Not letting any Slytherins know was a good start, they’d surely tell McGonagall, or worse my dad. Who, annoyingly, was still keeping as far away from me as was humanly possible. Never mind, I’d pin him down sooner or later. I was a lot more cheerful, mainly because of the idea of a party, but things weren’t all happy and doolally.

I’d spoken to both Kate and Zara and the feedback wasn’t great. Kate had spent a lot of time with Dean that night and came very close to having sex with him, which annoyed both of us greatly. She was annoyed because Dean was a bad guy for her and all she wanted was to put him in the past. And I was annoyed because if she’d listened to me in the first place when I’d predicted exactly that, she wouldn’t be in said mess. Zara meanwhile, wanted to just be friends with Neville and agreed the kiss was a mistake. How on earth I was supposed to tell her Neville really liked her I do not know. But both girls had been heavily avoiding both Neville and Dean, who were both stupid and confused. I wanted to knock all four of their heads together, they were winding me up. As much as I knew I had to do something, Zara and Kate refused to go anywhere the pair, who were scratching their heads like a pair of confounded muggles. And I was stuck in the middle.

What this meant was that I ended up spending a lot of time with my dearest cousin Harry, who shared my suspicions about a certain blonde haired Death Eater. But we were yet to get any sort of proof that he was working with the Movement. Who were apparently growing stronger. Those who weren’t still imprisoned in Azkaban were banding together more and more. The bigger problem was Azkaban itself. It had been one hell of a summer for the Ministry, finding and arresting as many as Death Eaters as they could and clearing up the mess left behind by Voldemort. The Dementors had all been…dealt with but they were no longer suitable for protecting Azkaban. Things were looking up in the Wizarding Community but there was still a lot of work to be done and the Movement planned to make things as difficult as they could for the Order to function properly. This had Harry worried and he wasn’t the only one. McGonagall, Dad. I could see it in their eyes. Anxiety. They knew things might never be the same again. The War had hurt everyone and some might never recover…

It was an evening in late September and I was tired. But I had to complete a Transfiguration essay before I could settle down and I was grumpy. Zara and Kate were also in the common room, which automatically triggered my guilt sensors. After about half an hour of writing very little and occasionally realising they were looking at me, I went to sit with them, glad that Neville and Dean were in bed.

“Hey guys, how are things?” I asked, addressing them half cheerfully, half wearily.

“Oh, you know…” Zara replied casually, before she was interrupted.

“We need help!” Kate blurted. Zara rolled her eyes.

“I noticed,” I replied dryly. “That skirt clashes horribly with your…”

“No! Not that kind of help!” Kate groaned. “Help with the idiots!”

“You mean Neville and Dean?” I asked, dropping the sarcasm and adopting a gentle tone.

“Yes, now don’t make her say it again, she’ll probably explode!” Zara snapped.

“Look guys, I want to help, really I do,” I started. “But I just don’t think I’m the right person. I’ve got a very one-sided view of both guys and my advice would be Zara: suck it up and talk to Nev and Kate: for God’s sake develop a backbone but I don’t think that’s gonna cut it!”

The subsequent groans and half-pleading looks they gave me made me stop and think again.

“Okay, I think I know who can help,” I said, grinning a little now.

Having left Zara and Kate in the very capable hands of Miss Ginny Weasley (oh come on, who better to give them a nudge in the right direction), I headed off to the library (curfew wasn’t for an hour and I was determined to at least start that bloody essay), where I bumped into Ron, go figure. I felt a bit guilty, we hadn’t talked much recently but then he hadn’t exactly been up there on my list of priorities. Malfoy and the girls had been up there and my dad and well basically everything.

“Hey Ron,” I said cheerily, sitting opposite him, making him grin his ruddy grin.

“Hey Luce, I ent seen you round much recently,” Ron said, probably hoping I didn’t pick up on his slightly depressed lull.

“Yeah well, me and Harry have been busy keeping an eye on Malfoy and Quidditch, which I guess you know because well you’re on the team and Harry’s your best mate. How’s things with Hermione?” I said that very fast and I knew Ron was struggling to keep up.

“I just want to get over her,” Ron said exasperatedly. “I still like her but we were a God awful couple and maybe it’s time for a fresh start. I don’t want to be stuck to her forever and I don’t want everyone to think of me as her boyfriend for all eternity.”

“Ron,” I put on my gentle voice again. “You two need to at least try to work things out, you can’t go on like this.”

“No!” Ron snapped slightly and I recoiled slightly. “She can’t go on like this, I can’t go on with people going on about her as if she’s my life. I don’t need her, I need a fresh start, someone new.”

I did not like the way this conversation was going so I tried veering it the other way.

“So, you going to the party on Saturday?” I asked casually, hoping to brighten up Ron, who was looking more and more subdued.

“Yeah,” he replied, brightening. Mission accomplished. “I was wondering if you wanted to go Hogsmeade before hand?”

Shit. Walked into that one Lucy. I thought fast and knew exactly what to say.

“I’m going with Harry, but I expect you’ll come with us, after all, he’s your best mate.”

“Yeah sure, sounds good,” Ron grinned but I could see the disappointment in his eyes. I needed to end this before it had a chance to begin.”

“Oi! You two! Clear off back to your tower now!” Madam Pince screeched in her shrill voice. Bitch.

“We’re going!” Ron replied, dragging me to my foot. There was no way that had been an hour. But I guess she wanted sleep too, and we needed to get back before curfew or my dad would bollock me. He was after an excuse. We headed back to the common room almost silently and before I had the chance to tell Ron I wasn’t interested, we were back amongst friends, our voices drowned out the sound of others and we were pulled our separate ways.

I was both looking forward to and dreading Saturday. Yes Harry had quickly agreed to go with me to ensure I wasn’t alone with Ron and yes, the party was afterwards but I was unable to shake off the feeling of unease. And of course, you could never write off another Hermione stunt. I had been avoiding her like the plague, which was almost certainly a good idea as although Harry had firmly told her to lay off, she was still giving me evil looks. I felt awful in many ways, because Hermione was such a mess. Physically, emotionally, mentally, she was all over the place. Her grades were starting to suffer and she was back to being a loner. Ron told me she was used to being alone but you know your life is depressing when you spend your life in Hagrid’s hut. Hagrid’s attempts to stay neutral were helped by the fact he had no idea what the fuck was going on. My attempts to stay neutral failed miserably. Which was why when Saturday came along, Harry, Ron and I were heading off to the Three Broomsticks and Hermione was sitting alone in the library. Even Ginny, her best friend, found herself tilted towards her brother and she herself was busy, hopefully giving my best mates desperately needed help. I hadn’t spoken to the pair and things with Neville were increasingly strained. I still saw plenty of him but it was never the same. I just wanted all the shit to end.

The Three Broomsticks was packed, as to be expected, but somehow we found a table. Harry and Ron started talking Quidditch, which allowed me to drift off into my own little world. Which was maybe why I missed it. The first sign. It was only out the corner of my eye and it took me too long to register it. Damn I was getting sloppy. Malfoy. Alone. Sneaking into the toilets. Now what happened last time that happened? Katie Bell? Necklace? Ringing any bells?

“But we’ll trounce Slytherin!” Ron stated.

“Yes, but what about Ravenclaw? They’re waiting to pounce if we slip up and they’ve got a stronger team than ever this year. They’ll probably beat Slytherin the way they’re playing.”

“That and the Slythers are awful,” Ron pointed out. “All their good players either left or were killed. At least Death Eaters were good for something.”

“What about Hufflepuff?” I butted in. They both sniggered.

“Hufflepuff? You really don’t know that much about Quidditch do you?” Ron laughed. I shot him evils.

“Their seeker just got a Firebolt Mark 2 and even a monkey is a challenge on that piece of machinery, their keeper’s twice your size and could probably cover all three hoops without trying, their chasers have been bulking up and their agility is improving rapidly and as for their beaters…” I reeled off, stunning both of them. “Well their beaters are still awful but that’s not the point!”

“Damn,” Ron muttered.

“You got that right,” Harry grinned. “My cousin is a Quidditch genius.”

“Must run in the family,” I winked, thinking about my own broom, a Jetstriker 220 and feeling pleased with myself. I’d owned that broom for as long as I could remember and although it was old, it was bloody good. Only the Nimbus’ and the Firebolts were better than it and I’d tweaked it as much as I could. Call it sentimentality but there was no way in hell I was trading it in. Harry’s face however, told me he knew something I didn’t.

“But what nobody apart from me, Ron and now you knows,” he whispered. “Is that I got the latest Jetstriker last week.”

I gasped. The Jetstriker 595 was the most eagerly awaited broom of the year. The Jetstrikers had always been legendary and they hadn’t put out a broom in a while. It would make the Nimbus 2003 and even the Mark 2 Firebolt look like shit.

“How the hell did you manage that?” I hissed. “They aren’t released until December.”

“I know a guy,” Harry winked. “Apparently they needed someone to test it. Check it’s not defective.”

Ron’s face fell. “You never told me that.”

“I didn’t want to worry you,” Harry waved it off.

“You got me one,” Ron pointed out. “What if it fails?”

“It won’t,” Harry reassured. “Jetstriker assured me they fixed the gravity problem.”

“What gravity problem?” Ron asked anxiously.

“They had a tendency to fall out the sky,” I said struggling to hold in my laughter at Ron’s face.

“You can have it!” he whined at me and Harry shot me a look. My eyes popped.

“You didn’t?” I hissed.

“I know you love that old 220 but I figured the 595 might tempt you,” Harry replied, winking as my face hit the floor. I had a 595. The best broom ever. A 595.

“Fuck Hufflepuff, they’re nothing,” I grinned, pulling Harry into a hug I usually reserved for my sister. That was when it happened.

The Broomsticks rocked as the explosion rocketed through the pub, throwing people off their feet. Harry and Ron stood, wands out, as I tried to do but found myself flung to the floor. Children were screaming and running and through the clearing dust I saw a figure running. It clicked.

“Malfoy!” I coughed, inhaling rubble as the wall behind me began to collapse. At which point, I screamed. I’m not a girly girl but who wouldn’t scream when you’re about to be crushed. But Harry was quick as a flash and reinforced the wall with magic before turning to survey the damage. Almost everyone had escaped through the various holes in the walls caused by the explosion and those that remained were quickly following them. I rushed over to help a couple of third years that were trapped under a beam as Harry and Ron tried to stop the ceiling collapsing.

“Get out!” Ron yelled and I half-dragged the pair of third years out of the smouldering ruins of the pub. The explosion had started in the loos. I was an idiot. I coughed again and felt a hand on my shoulder. Dad.

“Who’s still in there?” he asked anxiously.

“Just Harry and Ron but they can take care of themselves,” I groaned. “Dad I’m sorry for what happened…”

“Drop it,” he said quickly. “My fault, shouldn’t have overreacted. I was wrong. We need to focus, this was a clear attack by…”

“I know about the Movement I overheard you and McGonagall,” I interrupted. “Malfoy’s part of it I’m sure.”

“Don’t be stupid, this was clearly dark wizards who infiltrated using Imperius or Polyjuice,” he cut me off.

“Harry!” I yelled, as the roof finally caved in. But I needn’t have worried, as Harry and Ron were already rushing clear of the rubble that had once been the legendary pub. Harry’s face was as black as thunder and Ron was equally furious. I wiped soot from my eyes and ran a hand through my tangled hair.

“Where is he?” Harry snarled.

Before I could answer, he was running, Ron at his heels.

“Wait here, look after the kids!” I yelled to dad, before giving chase.

Harry presumably knew where he was going but me and Ron fell back, eventually reaching a clearing, where Malfoy was sat on a log, glaring as we approached.

“Expelliarmus!” Harry yelled, Malfoy’s wand spinning into his hand before Draco could react.

“What do you want Potter?” he snarled.

“We know you caused that explosion!” Harry roared, intimidating surprisingly well.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, you’ll never prove anything.” There was a nervous edge to his voice, but the swagger was there. Ron marched past Harry and went to punch Malfoy, who twisted, pulling Ron into a lock. I stepped forward but Malfoy grabbed Ron’s wand and disarmed me, my wand flying into his grasp. Both Harry and Malfoy had two wands now but Ron was a human shield. Harry was reluctant to attack with his best friend hostage, but Malfoy had no such qualms. He shot a stunning jinx at Harry, who was forced to dodge. I meanwhile, had taken cover, trying to work out a way to creep up behind Malfoy. Harry blinked and Malfoy was dangling in mid-air. He freed himself within a second but it was long enough for Ron to leg it away from the blonde and find cover. Harry and Malfoy squared off, a wand in each hand. Harry fired two impedimentas, Malfoy shot a couple of stunners. Harry winked and threw me Malfoy’s wand. I caught it in mid-air and we both yelled: “Expelliarmus!” Malfoy was moving faster than I could imagine and as Harry handed Ron his wand, Malfoy was wrestling his own wand from my grasp. But it wasn’t enough. “Stupefy!” we all yelled and as three simultaneous red jets barraged Malfoy, he fell to the ground…

The party was in full swing. Yeah I know what you’re all thinking. The party’s still happening? But in truth, we all needed it after the day we’d had. Although nobody had been killed in the exploding pub, several younger years had gone to St Mungos and many had needed calming draughts for shock. Harry and Ron had been praised for their quick thinking and (as far as we were aware) nobody knew about the fight with Malfoy, who was hardly going to own up to being stunned by all three of us simultaneously. The only person not at the party was Hermione, who was mysteriously absent. Well I say mysteriously, it was hardly a mystery or a surprise. But enough about her. Trust me, the way I was grinding with some Hufflepuff, off my face having downed two bottles of Firewhiskey and something called Dragon’s Tongue, I was not thinking about her. Nor did my thoughts linger to my best friends, who were partying like there was no tomorrow. Kate and Lucy were at the heart of the party, both having removed their respective males. Kate had told Dean he wasn’t as fit as he thought he was and that their time together had been a mistake whilst Zara had given Neville the whole “we’re just friends” talk, not breaking his heart as much as I thought. Turns out some idiot (yes it was me) had accidently given him an emotion-enhancing potion instead of a depressing draught that we had been brewing in Slughorn’s class.

But none of that mattered to me at that particular moment of time. I was only concentrated on how curly that Hufflepuff’s hair was and how much I wanted to touch his chest. I guess I looked a right slut, caked in makeup so I was basically orange and wearing clothes way too small for me. Oops, there goes his shirt, clumsy me. Oh. Someone’s dragging me. Away from cute and curly. Sucks. I struggled but nothing happened. Bloody hell, I’m drunk. Tee hee. I’m in love with this song, whatever it is. Hey, another cute guy. And this one’s pulling me into a slow dance. Fuck that, let’s go wild! I danced and danced, letting the boy lead me across the floor. We came to the wrong side of the dance floor and I grabbed his hand, leading him away from the others. Where’s somewhere to lie down when I need it? This room is really shit! Can’t even fucking…oh look a door. I stumbled through the door into a separate bedroom and locked the door, pulling the boy in behind me. He was tall, red haired I think and something else about him… I love this room, I love chips, I love everything. I love cute ginger. God it’s hot. God he’s hot. Well I’m barely wearing anything anyway…I pulled off my already revealing tank top to reveal my bra (don’t ask me what colour, most of that night is a blur, only a memory spell helped me write this shit). Aw, ginger’s blushing. Off with that shirt fitty. Fucking hell, why am I still hot? Meh, who needs this stuffy bra? It’s only fitty. I wonder what boxers he’s got on? What boxers have I got on? Do I wear boxers? How the hell should I know? Only one way to find out. We fell back on the bed, giggling hysterically, as naked as the day we were born. I looked at him and he looked back. Oh fuck it, just kiss him. Damn, he is a good kisser. And he’s getting closer. And closer. Wait a sec. This is Ron. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I will not sleep with Ron Weasley…I will not sleep with Ron Weasley…I will not sleep with…I will not sleep…I will not…Oh fuck it. He’s fit, I’m drunk, who’ll ever know? Come here fitty. Yes, I know. I slept with Ron Weasley. Don’t judge me.

A/N: Well that was not fun. One of my favourite and least favourite chapters for obvious reasons :) Please review :) HP

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