Can you die from overexposure to the library?
Because I was fairly sure that was what was happening to me.
It had been two days since I’d written to Charles and there had been no reply. I had taken to pouring over old copies of The Daily Prophet in the library trying to see if there was anything that I’d missed in the past few months. There wasn’t even a single mention of terror attacks. The worst thing that had happened was the Minister’s three year old son had been bitten by a bowtruckle.
Sighing, I pushed aside the paper dated five months ago. Apart from the fact that I felt like a complete imbecile for even trying to figure this out in my own, it was wearing me out, and, to make matters worse, I was still effectively the pariah of the castle.
I put my head in my hands on the table. It was only six in the evening, but I was readying myself to leave the library. Once the sun went down people seemed to think it was their duty to use the back aisles as a place to see to their raging hormones. Unfortunately, I had leant this the hard way.
Stupid frisky fifth years.
Someone loudly cleared their throat, breaking through the calm I’d created around myself and I groaned.
I reluctantly lifted my head up to see the one person I’d been trying my best to avoid every day. James Potter stood there with a blank expression on his face. I noticed that he was in his Quidditch robes. His sweaty almost-shoulder length hair was pulled back away from his face and I vaguely wondered what would happen to any other guy who tried to pull that off in this school.
My money was on him being pelted with dungbombs.
What was more interesting to me, however, was the person who stood beside James. They were almost the same height and build, but Albus Potter had shorter (but still wild-looking) darker hair and the most strikingly clear emerald green eyes.
Albus was smiling politely at me. James was looking at the papers spread out across the table. My heart leapt as I scrambled to gather them up. I don’t know why I was trying to hide it; there was no way he’d figure out what I was trying to do anyway.
Not that I knew what I was actually looking for either, but that’s not the point.
“What?” I said without looking at them once I’d gotten all the papers in a stack.
“I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Albus,” Albus said, extending his hand for me to shake. I was about to take it when it occurred to me that this might be some trap. Instead, I settled for looking at it suspiciously. Albus laughed.
“He’s the delinquent child. I promise I won’t pull anything on you,” he said. James glanced at his brother for a brief moment as though he was going to say something. His bored expression didn’t change in the end and he just went back to looking around to library.
“Anyway, we’re here because James would like to say something to you,” Albus broke through the silence. James, however, didn’t look like he wanted to be near me any more than I wanted him to be. He casually tucked a strand of hair behind his ear and folded his arms across his chest.
“You look like owl shit,” I told him sweetly. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the closest I’d ever gotten to the truth, but it would suffice.
“Likewise,” he nodded.
“James,” Albus said in a warning tone.
“Albus,” James deadpanned back. The two of them stood there locked in some sort of silent war. I had better things to do.
Also, this was getting uncomfortable and I wanted some sweets.
“This has been enlightening, guys. Have a good evening, Albus,” I said politely. “Potter, go jump off the Astronomy Tower.”
I made sure I said it with equal politeness as when I addressed Albus. Because I’m just that fair. Plus, the git would probably go back to ignoring me again, so might as well use the opportunity to insult him. You know, before I go back to my life of having angry and/or terrified looks being chucked my way because of him.
I gathered the stack of newspapers and went to deposit them in the shelves in the back. This was quite risky, considering the sun was well under the horizon by this point. My chances of running into some snogging couple had just increased ten-fold. So you can see how desperate I was to get away from the freak twins.
Unfortunately for me, they decided to follow. Well, Albus did, and he dragged his brother along with him. Then he pushed James towards me with surprising violence.
“I’ll be writing Mum, James,” Albus said in a threatening voice.
“You’re still pissed I told Crenshaw about your dolls. It’s not my fault she went and told everyone she knows,” James said. He hadn’t moved away from me, effectively blocking my way out. He’d chosen to just stand there with his arms folded and look out the window behind me.
“They aren’t dolls- you know what,” Albus sighed. “You’ll just always be thick, James.”
“Seriously, Al, you need to quit this whole brooding act. It’s getting on my nerves.”
“Oh, you’re one to talk,” Albus snapped.
James was still looking out the window, but his eyes were dark. Albus didn’t say anything for a long time and I just stood there like a git because the fact that they had some issue with each other was becoming increasingly obvious.
I cleared my throat in a failed attempt to be subtle. Too bad we were in the library and it ended up sounding louder than I intended for it to. James didn’t even look at me.
“Erm… can you move?” I said. He simply continued to look out the window.
Why do I associate with freaks of nature?
“Do whatever you want,” Albus said after a long, awkward silence. “I’ll be in my Common Room if you need me. Writing a letter. To Mum. Then I’ll be in the Owlery, mailing said letter-“
“I’m sorry,” James said flatly, cutting off his brother. “Please forgive me.”
It took me a moment to realize that his forced apology was directed at me.
He was still staring out the window behind me. I stood there, acutely aware that this situation had a lot more to do with something between the two brothers than me. I leaned a little to my left to see around James. What I saw was his brother glaring daggers at his back. When I looked back up, James’s eyes were finally on me.
I blinked at him for a few moments and wondered if I should be afraid of being pelted with rotten eggs or something. I mean, I was sort of cornered and way too close to James Potter for my liking. Logically, it was the easiest place to have me to get back at me.
But then there was the fact that he hadn’t spoken to me for almost two weeks after I’d said that thing about his father. It was clear that I’d crossed some line and he wasn’t willing to forgive me for it any time soon. There was also the little business of everyone thinking I was insane because of him and his little fan club.
Suffice it to say that whatever relationship we had was well beyond complicated.
Which is why it’s difficult to justify what I did next; I owed the stupid git absolutely nothing (besides a good kick in the nuts, of course). I didn’t have siblings so I couldn’t begin to understand what was happening between these two. I didn’t even have anyone my age I was particularly close to in a sibling-type manner either. But in that moment I felt sorry for James Potter because even if Albus didn’t see it, it was so blatantly clear to me how difficult he was trying not to care.
“No problem, Potter,” I said with as much sincerity as I could muster. Honestly, it wasn’t much but it was all he was getting.
The shock was there for a split second before he managed to cover it up. Then, without so much as a nod as thanks, he turned and walked away leaving Albus to stare at me with his jaw hanging on its hinge.
“Did you- What?” he spluttered. I shrugged.
“Not good at holding grudges,” I said lightly. “What was that about anyway?”
Albus looked at me weirdly for a moment.
“Uh… Hobbs wrote my Mum about the Howler thing. She flipped out on him and told him to apologize like a week ago or something. Then he stopped answering her letters… so she owled me.”
We stood there in silence as I watched him. He seemed to be contemplating something with an almost pained look on his face.
“Erm… are you okay?” I said uncertainly. Albus snapped out of his daze and looked at me, nodding vaguely. He then turned around and walked away after offering me a polite smile.
And me; I stood there wondering what in the world was wrong with all things Potter.
“Fitz-y,” I said in a singsong voice as I skipped towards him. He was in the Great Hall with some Ravenclaw friend of his. They were pouring over a Potions text book.
“My name is bad enough. You don’t have to butcher the only remotely alright nickname I have as well,” Fitz said moodily.
“What is your real name?” I asked, realizing that I actually didn’t know.
“The best guarded secret after the location of the Chamber of Secrets,” Fitz said proudly.
“It’s in the girls’ lavatories,” I rolled my eyes.
“Yeah, well, it used to be the best guarded secret ever.”
“That makes your argument invalid. I think it’s weird that I don’t know your name.”
“Too bad,” Fitz said. “This is Angus by the way.”
I smiled and said hi to Angus. He looked highly uncomfortable and mumbled back. He looked like he hadn’t seen the sunlight in years and his thick glasses gave away how much time he spent in the library.
“Did an owl come for me?” I asked Fitz.
“Nope. Haven’t been to the Common Room in forever,” Fitz said. “You’re being awfully suspicious and I normally wouldn’t say anything but it’s getting a little scary.”
“Says the boy who sets things on fire for fun.”
“I was distracted and everyone was excited Gryffindor won the Quidditch Cup. I repeat; it wasn’t my fault”
“Which is why they should just ban the stupid sport. It’s dangerous. And pointless.”
“You could get chucked in the lake for saying that,” Fitz informed me.
“No one’s going to chuck me in the lake,” I rolled my eyes.
“You just don’t get how this school works.”
“You don’t get how life works,” I countered.
“I’m not the one who clubbed my boyfriend because I thought he was a troll.”
“It was one time and I told you that in confidence-“
“It still counts.”
“Yeah, well you were the one who filled your living room with oats.”
“I couldn’t control my magic back then!”
“You make it sound like you can control your magic now.”
Angus looked a little scared by this point.
“So… Angus, Ravenclaw huh? My dad was-“ I began.
“Well, hello gorgeous. Long time, no see.”
I squinted at the sandy haired boy who’d interrupted me and tried really hard to place him. It took me a moment to realize that I’d seen him at the party. He was the blonde with James and Quin who’d tried to hit on me.
“You,” I said tiredly. His grin widened and he winked. I cringed; he still gave off bad vibes.
“So, how about you ditch these two gits and we go down to the kitchens,” he smirked. I wasn’t sure if that was euphemism for something, but I had to stop myself from shuddering at how easily he made my skin crawl.
“Who are you?” I managed to say.
“Aaron Wheeler, Ravenclaw Quidditch Captain,” he said proudly.
“Well, Aaron Wheeler, thanks for the offer but I think I’d rather sit here with these ‘gits’,” I air quoted, “than get assaulted by you in some dark passageway.”
He looked like I’d smacked him in the face. Fitz snorted in an attempt to cover up his laughter. Aaron Wheeler, however, seemed to get over my comment fairly quickly and the smirk was back on his face.
“I like a challenge, gorgeous.”
“Really? Do you also like brooms shoved up your-“
“Wow there, Belgarde,” Fred cut me off. He and Quin had appeared behind Aaron Wheeler. They were both smirking. They were actually nice people and I wondered how they were friends with Aaron.
“Kindly keep it on a leash,” I said, gesturing to Aaron before getting up and grabbing Fitz by the collar. He didn’t protest. He’d gotten used to me having to make swift getaways and inadvertently dragging him along as well. He just calmly waved at poor Angus, who looked so out of place surrounded by Aaron, Fred and Quin.
“Fitz, is everyone in this school insane?”
“Pretty much,” he shrugged. “Where were you all day?”
“You haven’t left that place for the last two days. Will you just tell me what you’re so jumpy about?”
“Oh, you know, homework and such,” I waved it away.
“I’m not an idiot- don’t look at me like that- I’m not. But it’s okay if you don’t want to tell me. I know why people go to the library.”
“That’s really gross.”
“But if you’re snogging Aaron Wheeler I’m going to have to disown you.”
“Did it look like I have any type of contact with Aaron Wheeler five minutes ago?”
“I don’t know. These secret type relationship situations are tricky. Have you seen Rose and Scorpius?”
Fitz sighed in a way that implied that I was hopeless which I totally resent seeing as knowledge of Rose and Scorpius and their secret relationship had nothing whatsoever to do with my future success rate.
It had been almost two weeks since the whole yelling-at-James situation that happened in the Common Room. I had been a little weary of that fact that no one seemed to have heard anything about the incident at the Quidditch pitch, but I wasn’t about to question it. The stares had reduced ten-fold and Rebecca and Tracey had actually said more than three words to me. Things would be unarguably looking up if I could just figure out this situation with Charles.
We reached the Common Room and I said good night to Fitz. I had taken to skipping dinner in the Great Hall. It was simply easier that way. My dorm was empty as usual and I took the opportunity to take a long shower and put on my warmest pajamas and fluffy socks. I was curled up in my bed, shoving chocolate in my face when Rebecca and Jillian got back from dinner.
“Where’s Tracey?” I asked Rebecca, ignoring Jillian’s disdainful look.
“Haven’t you heard?” Rebecca sounded a little surprised. We both ignored whatever comment Jillian made.
“Nope. What happened?”
“She’s at Mungo’s. Something happened to her Mum.”
I felt as though someone had doused me with freezing cold water.
“What? When?!” I demanded. I abandoned the book I was reading and jumped up off my bed. Rebecca looked a little alarmed.
“This morning. She got a letter. She didn’t say much; just that her Mum’s in the hospital. Then she went to the Headmaster’s office.”
“S-so you don’t know what happened?” I asked, trying to calm myself down. She could’ve fallen and hurt something. Just because she was in the hospital doesn’t mean someone-
“Trace said she was coming home from work and something happened. She didn’t say what. She just ran to find someone.”
To her credit Rebecca looked worried. Jillian just rolled her eyes.
“She probably just saw a Muggle and lost it. We all know her Mum was a Slytherin.”
“Stop it, Jill!” Rebecca rounded on her. “Her mum isn’t like that.”
“They all just pretend that they don’t care about that stuff anymore,” Jillian insisted.
“Her Mum wasn’t even a… you know, his follower,” Rebecca said, her voice dropping. I watched the conversation in wonder. Decades after the war, people still couldn’t say Voldemort’s name. I guess I just didn’t understand since I’d grown up in a different country, but even I knew the things that had happened during the war.
“According to Tracey she wasn’t. But how do we know for sure?” Jillian asked, turning her nose up.
“Oh, you’re horrible, Jill!” Rebecca huffed. She grabbed her pajamas and stalked into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. Jillian and I were left in silence. She went back to ignoring me and rummaging through her stuff as I stood there, trying to keep myself from shaking.
“Um…Where does Tracey’s Mum work?” I asked finally, looking at Jillian. She stopped whatever she was doing and looked at me critically, arms folded.
“Why do you care?”
“No reason,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant. She didn’t buy it.
“You’re such a freak,” she scoffed, shaking her head.
“Well?” I prompted, not even bothering to acknowledge her insult.
“She’s an Auror. But if you ask me, she probably only became one so that she wouldn’t get chucked in Azkaban during the trials.”
That’s when I went into a full blown panic. I didn’t know what to do, or even where to go. For a wild moment I contemplated breaking out of school and Apparating to London to find Charles. I stood there for a good five minutes and every course of action I could come up with involved a common denominator.
“Fitz,” I muttered.
“What?” Jillian said with a look of disdain on her face. I ignored her and ran for the door. There were still people in the Common Room hanging around after dinner. They looked at me weirdly when I unceremoniously burst in with my Pygmy Puff pajamas, holding a bar of chocolate in my hand. When I took in their looks, I managed to take a few deep breaths and calm down a bit. I think I managed to look mildly dignified when I walked opened the door to the boys’ dorms and walked in calmly.
Then, of course, I ran all the way till the top-most door and pushed that open.
The rather impressive card house Quin was building came tumbling down because of the draft, Fred, who appeared to be in the middle of putting on a shirt, screeched and held it up to cover his chest, and James grabbed his wand a stood up.
We all stared at each other for a long moment.
“Marley?” Fred said finally.
None of them answered but I heard the water running in the bathroom. So, I smiled politely and tiptoed over all their crap that was strewed on the floor, sitting on Fitz’s bed calmly.
“I’ll just wait here,” I smiled. I didn’t need them to ask questions. I wasn’t going to answer even if they did; I didn’t need to be that pathetic school reject who went crazy because nobody liked her. They already thought I was insane enough; no need to add delusional to that list.
“What’s going on?” Fred said, taking a step towards me.
“I just need Fitz for a second,” I shrugged nonchalantly.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” he said worriedly.
“Well, I did see Sir Nicholas down in the Common Room now that you mention it,” I chuckled. None of them said anything to that.
I was getting uncomfortable under their scrutiny.
“I’m fine, really. Everything’s fine,” I said lightly.
“You’re a really bad liar.”
My head snapped to James. He was still holding his wand, but he looked directly at me in that way that always made me uncomfortable.
“Yeah, well, I don’t have to tell you anything. So you can shut it,” I snapped.
“This has something to do with why you’re always in the library.” He didn’t even bother to make it a question.
“Actually, Potter, the reason I’m always in the library is because everyone seems to want to claw my eyes out whenever they see me. Now, whose fault is that?”
I honestly didn’t mean to say it out loud. I didn’t want to admit that it got to me that no one was on my side here; even though he was more in the wrong than I was.
“Because, you know, I was the one who stole your crap and started it,” I continued, my voice rising. “I let my stupid fangirls run amok and call your mum a skank. This is all absolutely my fault, Potter.”
I half expected him to say something mean back. Instead he looked at Fred who, for some reason, was giving him the dirtiest look I had ever seen.
Thankfully, Fitz chose that moment to emerge for the bathroom, hair dripping and all. I sprung forward, seized him by the arm and dragged him out of the room.
I wasn’t in the mood to worry about Fred and James. I guess I could have been if my father wasn’t a borderline masochist, and I wasn’t a paranoid freak.
Merlin, I missed when the only thing I had to worry about was where I’d get my next liquorice wand fix.
A/N: Ugh. My computer is acting up :/ It's been giving me loads of trouble. I would've had this up ages ago otherwise!
Anyway, thanks for reading this, you guys. I still can't believe that that happens sometimes. You guys are so wonderful; leaving me reviews and stuff. It really does make me smile! Thanks a bunch:')
So tell me what you thought of this chapter! YAY THERE'S A LOT OF JAMES IN IT!
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