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A/N - Another filer-ish chapter that I enjoyed writing far too much. This story is definately my current favourite... so I really hope you guys like it too. Thanks for all the reviews so far :)

 

“Looking forwards to your birthday tomorrow?” James asked, sitting down beside me in Herbology and leaning back on his chair lazily. It was the norm for me to sit on my own in Herbology, simply because I really didn’t know anyone else – and in any case, everyone else was already sat next to someone. James usually sat with some Gryffindor on the other side of the classroom, but at a glance at his old partner it seemed as though that had been convenience rather than friendship; he’d already spread over both sides of the desks and looked unperturbed.

I shrugged then pulled out my parchment from my bag and placed it on my desk. “Theory lesson, I’m afraid,” I told him. “We need to read the text book and write down the fourteen properties of...” I paused and glanced at him again. “Why is your hair pink?”

“Dom,” James replied, ruffling a hand through his spectacularly pink hair.

“Oh yeah,” I said slowly, “I brewed the potion, but surely – you didn’t fall for that did you?”

“I’m lulling her into a false sense of security,” James nodded impressively. “Making her thing she has the upper hand, and then I’m going get her back.”

“Why don’t I like the sound of this?”

“Would you be willing to spike her drink for me?”

“Hell no.” I replied, shaking my head. “And your full of crap Potter – you ate the chocolates, admit it. You’d think you’d have learnt from last time, not to eat chocolates if you don’t know who their from. And I thought I was giving you a hint with the whole exploding strawberry creams thing,”

“Yeah, yeah,” James shrugged. “The point is, you never told me what you want to do after Hogwarts.”

“Right,” I laughed. “Because that makes sense in the context of the conversation.”

“Now,” James said wagging his finger in front of me. “That’s not an answer; I’ll think you’re avoiding the question if you don’t tell me soon.”

“Fine,” I said, glancing at the page in the Herbology book and neatly copying it out onto my own parchment. “I would like to be a... okay, well,”

“Avoidance tactics,”

“Pushy tactics, minus three points,” I interjected. “And minus another three for not letting me finish.” James grinned. “I want to work for the Ministry, in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. As a catcher – catching runaway hippogriffs, boggarts, dragons... Then, I’d want to go freelance, because I don’t agree with lots of the ministry’s decisions anyway, and be like, a contract worker. If you have a ghoul you’d like to get rid, vampire problems, ect... that sort of thing. Hopefully.” I added.

“Why only hopefully?”

“It’s hard to get into.”

“What subjects are you doing?”

“Herbology,” I said nodding at the classroom. “Care of magical creatures, which is a necessity. Potions, too – you have to have that or they won’t consider you.  Arithmancy, transfiguration, and unfortunately, Defence,”

“Why unfortunately?”

“I’m terrible at it.” I admitted. “I was all right with the dark animals, but most of it just goes over my head. I can’t duel. If anyone points a wand at me I just freeze. But I need it. I have to be able to produce a Patronus by the end of next year.” I grimaced.

James considered this for a moment. “What about transfiguration?”

“That’s fine,” I said. “It’s my back up.”

“Arithmancy?”

“I like Arithmancy.” I replied with a smile. “What about you? What subjects are you doing?”

“Defence, Herbology, Potions, charms, transfiguration and Quidditch.”

“Quidditch isn’t a subject,” I returned, writing down another property on my piece of parchment, glancing at the book every few seconds for reference.

“True, but I wanted to have as many as you did,” He returned with a grin. “Anyway, Quidditch is the one I’m best at.”

I glanced at his side of the desk. “You haven’t even got any parchment out yet!” I exclaimed. “Here,” I said presenting with a piece of my own parchment and a spare pen. “Get writing.”

“I’m shite at transfiguration,” James said, ignoring my piece of parchment and instead choosing to continue making conversation. I made a conversational noise of agreement, and concentrated on copying down the next line of Herbology nonsense down without inadvertently writing the wrong thing due to James’s continual attempts to make conversation with me. “And I’m brilliant at defence so...”

“So...?”

“I’ll teach you defence, you’ll have mastered the Patronus by next week and will be on track for an O in a fortnight, and you can teach me transfiguration!” He declared.

I looked up at him, feeling startled.

“That’s actually quite a good idea,” I admitted. He grinned in response. “Now get on with the Herbology, or I’ll have to help you with that too.”

 

 

 

 

Then, suddenly – I had my chance to talk to Benson Flint. 

On the way to potions on Monday and an opportunity opened up where neither me nor Benson were with Dom, and thus I could actually have a conversation with him. And then I realised that I really didn’t want to. The idea of having to talk to him was terrifying.

Alas, Dom was more terrifying.

“Benson?” I called in a voice that I half hoped he wouldn’t hear. That side won, and thus I frowned, sped up my walking pace and called after him again. “Benson!”  Again, ignored. Except a small girl who turned around and frowned at me as if I was a complete weirdo – possibly an accurate assumption.

I broke into a slight sprint. “Benson!” I said a bit louder, now attracting a fair bit of attention. “Flint!” I yelled, walking straight into a seventh year student who glared at me and muttered something obscene under her breath. I was right behind him now, and tapped his shoulder saying ‘Flint’ he finally turned around and grinned.

“Autumn.” He leered in my direction, his large lips twisting up into an attempt of a smile.

“You did that on purpose,” I said, staring at the expression on his face feeling quite irritated.

“Maybe a little,” he shrugged, continuing walking at a slow pace down the corridor. “So, you poisoned me.”

“Maybe a little,” I returned, falling into step with him. “Sorry,” I added as an afterthought.

“No you’re not.” He put in.

“Fine,” I agreed. “Don’t tell Dom about James?” I said hopefully.

“As persuasive as all that was...” He said with another classic leer that made me want to run away and shower until every inch of skin was wrinkly from too much water, and then get out and have another shower – it made my skin crawl.

“No, please, you can’t – she’d flip out.”

“Why did you poison me?” He asked, raising half of his monobrow in my direction and cocking his head to once side like a confused puppy.

“Because you’ll hurt Dom,” I said, for once standing my ground, “And Dom’s my best friend, and... it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“An impulse?”

“You could call it that. I didn’t plan it, if that’s what you mean, but I don’t regret it either – you’ll hurt her.”

“Why do you think that?” He asked, pausing outside the potions classroom that I was supposed to go in so that we could finish the conversation.

“You cheated on Thornton.” I answered definitely.

“Like she didn’t cheat on me,” He returned. “Anyway, most of that was just rumours. You shouldn’t judge people, Pearce,” I stopped. Didn’t I have my own personal vendetta against judgemental people (ignoring my best friend is the judge of the century)? Didn’t I hate the way that I was judged because I was friends with Dom?

Flint seemed to realised he’d got me on that one. “I won’t tell Dom about James,” He said. “And I definitely won’t tell her that it was you who essentially ruined our first date and her ‘favourite’ top-thing.” Then he walked away leaving me dumbstruck.

I stared, quite shocked, at the spot where he’d been, before I walked into the class and sat down next to Anthony Peters who was next in the register, and thus my potions partner. This alphabetical arrangement, which was the same in most classes where teachers were too lazy to come up with something slightly more creative, meant that James was sat behind me (not that I’d ever noticed this before today), and Dom was sat at the back of the room next to her least favourite cousin – Freddie Wesley.

As Dom often complained, our year was the year with the highest number of the Wesley extended family, which meant there was practically one in every single class. Not quite though. Still, to quote Dom ‘I can’t bleeding escape them – they’re fucking everywhere’.

“I’ve got the ingredients,” Peters stated, passing over my half of the ingredients. I smiled at him vaguely and began chopping as per instructed by my now open textbook. I was just stirring my potions for the third time (counter-clockwise, whilst simmering over a ‘light flame’) when something hit me in the back of the head.

I turned around and snatched the paper aeroplane out of the air, bending over my desk to unfold it as subtlety as possible.

Saw you talking to Benson. D x

I frowned and turned to glance at her in the corner of the room. She raised her eyebrows, but she was smiling – much more than I’d seen her smile in awhile. Was it possible, that Benson Flint – the creepiest Slytherin there was, could be good for Dom Wesley? She was hardly an angel herself, after all.

Checking he wasn’t a complete prat. A x

I returned, refolding the plane – glancing at the front to see the Professor obliviously reading a book entitled ‘Potions that require Patience’ and paying no attention, what so ever. I threw the plane, pulling out my wand and guiding it in the right direction. Dom reached out her hand, caught it out of the air – crushing the front of it between her long fingernails, and pursing her lips slightly.

I caught James’s eye by accident whilst turning back to my potion, and had to swallow back my smile –Dom was watching and smiling at a member of her family was a criminal offence – and turned back to my potion, which had now discoloured somewhat.

I screwed up my forehead and added in a few hopeful turns which... made the potion thicken dramatically. Pants.

The plane hit me in the back of the head again. I probably should be used to it now given we’d used this method of inter-classroom communication since second year, but by some twist of fate Dom was always the one behind me, throwing the plane so that they sharply collided with the back of my head. I guess the fates just favoured Dom like that.

Pass your test then? D x

The parchment was now heavily creased down the folds, and damaged from being snatched out of the air multiple times. I scribbled back – Surprisingly, yes. He’s not as bad as I first thought. A x – before re-folding it.

I glanced at my potion – which was still slightly wrong but not too bad, a state which I was happy for it to be in, then glanced at the Professor, before turning round and sending the plane souring in Dom’s direction.

James leant over and snatched it out the air, unfolded it – at which Dom’s face turned a fantastic shade of purple which rivalled the vibrancy of James’s current fuchsia hair do – then proceeded to scribble another note down on the piece of parchment.

I had turned around and openly stared at this, and by now the exchange seemed to have attraction most of the classes attention. I tried to telepathically warn James that this really wasn’t a good idea without making and facial movement whatsoever, but was interrupted from my efforts by a loud cough at the front of the room.

Half the class (Ravenclaws) simultaneously snapped their heads back to the front of the classroom to stare attentively at the Professor. He was still fully engaged in his book, but now I had bigger things to worry about – my potion was bubbling. Bubbling.

“Oh sod,” I muttered, trying desperately to calm the flames at the bottom of my cauldron. Then a piece of parchment hit me on the back of the head again.

Really? Benson Flint? Merlin Dom, are things really getting that desperate? I suppose no one else would touch the poor bloke after what he did with Thornton. Still... you’ve gotta feel sorry for the poor bugger. Kisses, James.

I frowned. James hadn’t bothered folding it into the plane shape, and had instead opted for the crushed ball of parchment option, which meant now it was incredibly difficult to fold. Still... I managed just about although without the help of magic it would never have landed on Dom’s desk.

I turned around, deciding that even if I choose to stare at the parchment’s progress it would still end up hitting me on the head, and my potion was looking in the need for some TLC.

Still... It was a full ten minutes before the piece of parchment (violently) hit me on the back of the head again.

Sod off James. Dom had written, the words practically making holes through the parchment. Even seeing the words written down like that scared me a little. James must have serious... guts (and a lack of brain cells) to read that directed at him without trembling a little.

 But I wanted to thank you and your little friend for my new hairdo. I really think it suits me. (I’m thanking your friend too because, obviously by the look of your potion – you’d never have been able to brew it). So thanks girls! Kisses, James.

Did it target all your hair? Or just that ugly mass on you head. Leave me alone Potter, and next time – don’t try and ruin my date. Dom.

Dommy, darling, your date was already ruined! You were on it remember? How’s Victorie? Kisses, James. PS. Tell your friend that I could demonstrate to her what a real date is.

Autumn is out of your league by several continents. You touch her and I’ll rip your hands off and write to Ginny. Dom.

Autumn eh? Well, it’s the season for it. The season for falling... for me. Tell her she’s hot. You never told me how Victorie is? Kisses, James.

Fuck off and get out of my life. Talk to Autumn and die. Dom.

She’s so possessive, so how about it Autumn? Next Saturday – you, me, an isolated booth in puddifoots? Enthusiastic kisses, James.

James was quite clearly asking to be castrated. I stared at the piece of parchment in shock before finally picking up a pen and a fresh piece of parchment. I’d never known anyone to stick up to Dom like that. I’d always just assumed that everyone in the world let Dom get her way. And bringing up Victorie? Low blow. It was no wonder that Dom was fuming over her cauldron – a confused looking Freddie trying to stay away from her (she had a knife and a boiling cauldron of potion, enough said) and yet, turning round to look at James, he was as cool as anything.

Ignore him, Dom, I wrote, shocking myself for not being angry at James myself. For surely, Dom had been just as bitchy back? And if she could get at him... then you can bet that she would have done. He’s just being a complete...

What was he being? Really, he wasn’t being all that bad. Fair almost, considering Dom had (okay, I had on Dom’s instruction) dyed his hair a fabulous shade of pink. Yet he didn’t seem to be taking any of it in bad humour...

I could hardly say that though.

I picked out a colourful insult with lots of swearwords which should be enough to take the edge of Dom’s temper, then sent it flying over in her direction. I pulled my wand out my pocket for that extra guidance when...

“- How about it then?” James hissed.

“You have a Quidditch match on Saturday you idiot,” I whispered back.

“Come to the victory party,” he insisted, his gaze so shockingly earnest that it made me loose enough concentration that the plane fell out of the air and dive-bombed straight into Freddie Wesley’s’ cauldron.

There was a loud fizzing noise as the piece of parchment seemed to dissolve... and then... of course, the whole thing exploded.

 

 

“So I’m really sorry,” I lamented, pacing around the hospital wing anxiously.

“It’s fine,” Freddie muttered from the bed, his eyes staring unfocusedly at a point over my left shoulder. I was almost a hundred and four percent sure he hadn’t got a bloody clue who I was, where he was, and worst of all, who he was.

James clapped a hand on Freddie’s shoulder, inducing a strangely automatic grin from Freddie. “He’ll be all right. Us Wesley’s – we’re tough as nails.”

“Tough as nails.” Freddie repeated blearily, nodding all the while.

“You’re a Potter.” Rose Wesley said, striding into the hospital wing with Albus in toe.

“Who are even tougher, right Al?” James said, nodding towards him. Albus shrugged.

“Who’s this?” Rose asked, nodding towards me in a matter-of-fact way that was devoid of any politeness. I opened my mouth to speak, but James cut across me.

“Autumn Pearce, Dom’s best friend – thrower of the parchment aeroplane.”  She looked at me in a way that was mildly terrifying. The scary female gene obviously runs in the Wesley family.

“It was an accident!” I declared, biting my lip furiously and glancing at disorientated Freddie in the bed. “I was trying to throw it to Dom, and then I got distracted so... so it landed in his caldron and then...”

“Crash, bang, wallop.” James put in cheerfully.

“Where is Dom?” Rose asked, sounding slightly disgruntled. I didn’t exactly blame her. She’d managed to escape unharmed from the potions explosion, and had insisted that he’d be fine and then she’d gone. I’d told her flat out that I’d wait in the hospital wing until Freddie was recovered enough that I could apologise properly.

“She’s er... busy.” I said, glancing at the floor and feeling myself blush slightly.

“Freddieee...” Roxanne Wesley, more informally known as Roxy (although I can’t call her that in my head – I don’t know her) said in a sing song voice as she walked into the hospital wing. “How are you?” She asked brightly.

“Yeah, yeah, tough as nails.” Freddie incoherently mumbled back.

“That’s the spirit,” She replied, pulling up a chair sitting down a resting her feet on top of his bed. Rose seemed to raise an eyebrow at her. “He’ll be fine,” She supplied, crossing her legs and lazing back. “He’s had much worse accidents trying to steal stuff from Dad,”

“Then why are you here?”

“I got to leave my lesson early,” She supplied, grinning innocently, and returning to staring at the ceiling.

“Is he going to be all right by Saturday?” A voice asked, and I snapped around to find Oliver walking in to the hospital wing. I found warmth spread over my chest and I grinned at him – I honest to Merlin loved my brother. To bits.

“Oh he’ll be fine,” Another voice said – Jason Wood. Sixth year Gryffindor.

“Well good, we have to win Saturday,” Oliver said – still not registering my presence in the hospital wing.

“Course we will, cause I’ve invited Autumn to our victory party, and it’ll be a pretty lame party if we’ve lost.” James grinned.

I stood up. “Look Freddie, I’m really sorry, honestly I am.” I began again. There were far too many people here that Dom would murder me for being in the same room as – let alone participating in the same conversation as. Plus I didn’t know them, and they all knew each other, and the whole thing was generally a stressful situation that involved me socialising with others. Which I was not very good at.

“It’s quite all right, er...”

He didn’t know my name.

“That’s just the erm... the potions,” Albus said quickly.

“No,” Roxanne said. “That’s just Freddie. No offence, but he doesn’t exactly have time to learn the names of all James’s girlfriends.”

“I’m... I’m not his girlfriend,” I said, feeling incredibly more awkward and like I was going to do something highly stupid any second.

“She’s my sister,” Oliver piped up.

“Oh, in that case – nice to meet you.”

“She put your brother in the hospital wing,”

“Well then, very nice to meet you,” She said with a grin. “Ah, that’s class over – so I’m technically not missing anymore lesson time now. You’ll be all right, won’t you Fred?” She asked, punching him on the arm playfully.

“Yeah,” He nodded, looking a little saner, and then “I’m a Potter – tough as nails,” He repeated. She turned, winked at me, and then sauntered back out the hospital wing. I felt incredibly...

Bemused.

“I should probably go tell Dom he’s all right,” I said, desperate for a reason to get away from here. I was already backing towards the exit. I said goodbye to Oliver with my eyes, and he returned the gesturing offering me a smile and the raising of a hand as farewell.

“I’ll see you later for our study session,” James said, grinning at me as I got a little bit closer to the door. Rose raised an eyebrow at this. Albus seemed non-plussed, if a little irritated. I avoided looking at Oliver and clocking his reaction (although I imagined it was surprised mixed with a tinsy bit of apprehension) and even Freddie, half mad on the hospital bed, seemed to be a little more interested.

I stopped for a second and looked at him. “You’re getting awfully clingy Potter, it’s almost like I can’t get rid of you.” Then I turned back around and was almost at the door when -

“Autumn Pearce, you are totally forgiven!” Freddie exclaimed from his position on the bed. Mission complete– apology accepted.

“I’ll see you at seven!” James called.

“Half past,” I said, calculating when Dom would probably run of the Slytherin dorm for some quality time with Benson. Then, under my breath – so that he definitely couldn’t hear, I said “I can hardly wait,” and I wasn’t all together sure if I was being sarcastic.

A/N - Excited about Autumn's birthday? Hmm? Anyone forgiven Dom yet? Still think Benson is creepy and weird? Opinions on James Potter? :)
 

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