A/N: Hope you liked the last chapter! I really appreciate the feedback you guys have given so far, and hope you all like what's to come! :) 

Anyway, I don't own Harry Potter or any related material... Unfortunately.

Chapter Eight

In Which Rumors Rule Hogwarts



Note to self: The phrase, "Ignore it and it will go away," does not apply to situations that involve being hunted by several professors while inebriated.

...Which is exactly the situation I found myself in at about 3:00 A.M. the morning after Halloween.

I could give a detailed account of the events which made up the earlier part of the night, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I don't have the faintest idea. I know (or at least know that Sarah told me) that we spent a few more hours in the old Defense room nursing our drinks, and that I had lost all semblance of sobriety about thirty minutes in.

I have a vague recollection of Sean, Sarah, and Fred taking a sip of their drinks every time James and I squabbled, and I have a feeling that was largely responsible for the group's collective state of drunkenness by the time we made it back into the tunnel.

Everything from there until the sobering charm is so blurry I might as well have just not been there, but I know that I ended up leading the group back through the tunnel, although admittedly in the wrong direction a few times. I think I was shoved toward the entrance of the wardrobe, because I found myself stumbling out with the others in tow.

Or so I thought.

They're bloody traitors, the lot of them.

I shrieked as I tripped over what I can only assume were my own feet, and screamed even louder once I surveyed my surroundings. I'm fairly certain I swore too, which probably wasn't the best thing to do in that situation, seeing as a Professor stood in front of me.

I stumbled again when someone ran into my back, and heard grumbling, then a muttered curse. James slammed the door of the wardrobe closed behind him to warn the others.

...Which left James and I standing in front of Professor Lupin a few hours after midnight looking incredibly guilty.

James swore under his breath again, and Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow, clearly waiting for an explanation. My mind was probably still trying to process what was going on, as even sobering charms could only do so much.

"Teddy..." James started nervously, glancing at me for help.

I made an admittedly unattractive helpless expression and looked up at Professor Lupin nervously. "So... erm... Oh, would you look at that! Our... err... our wardrobe check was successful!"

Merlin was too cruel to strike me down right then, and I was left standing even more awkwardly in front of the wardrobe as James shot me a glare.

It took all my willpower to avoid glancing back at the wardrobe to make sure the others had had the sense to head back and cover their tracks, but judging by the lack of noise in the wardrobe, I'd say they had. Which meant we were on our own...

Professor Lupin ignored my mortifyingly feeble excuse and turned toward James. "I'd ask how you avoided being caught with the rest of the Gryffindors, but I'm not sure I'd like the answer." He glanced back at me as I lost my balance and swayed, and he sighed. "Aaand you're drunk. I can't say I'm surprised, but really, James? In a wardrobe?"

I'm fairly certain I had to stifle a scream. James' eyes widened in realization and he shook his head frantically as I prepared to murder someone.

"What?! No! That's not - It's - Teddy!"

I nodded frantically in agreement, not caring that it wasn't exactly the most eloquent of arguments. Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow, but didn't respond, though he seemed to take note of my rapidly reddening face. "So then firstly: exactly how illegal was whatever took about three hours in a wardrobe to accomplish? And secondly: Do I even want to know what you were doing?"

"Well, probably not too illegal, and, erm... Probably not," James gave Professor Lupin a pleading look.

"But we weren't snogging in a wardrobe," I added quickly. I mean, I probably didn't actually need to clarify any more, but really, I did.

Professor Lupin raised an eyebrow. "Right," He nodded. I groaned, because Merlin, he was worse than my roommates. "Anyway, you know I'll need to deduct house points, but I'll be merciful with detentions on account of you two already serving more than anyone else in your year, and judging by the portraits' collective giggling, you have until about breakfast tomorrow until the entire school is buzzing with rumors, so I'd say that's punishment enough."

James grimaced as I tried to look innocent. Apparently the look didn't suit me.

Professor Lupin glanced at us again, and the look on his face could have almost been amusement.

Clearly, it's universally understood that my misfortunes are the bloody best form of entertainment in the whole damn school.

I did my best not to glare at either of them as I glanced longingly down the hall, in hopes that I could be on my way, but of course it wasn't that easy. It never bloody is.

"Now that we've established that you two...erm... left the party early," Professor Lupin began, and I cringed a little, "how about the rest of the fifth year Gryffindors? Don't think I'm not aware that Sarah Jordan, Fred Weasley, and Eoin Nott all being mysteriously absent from a party is suspicious."

James glanced at me briefly, and I gave a rather violent shrug.

James rolled his eyes and turned to Professor Lupin. "Erm... well Simmon's roommates weren't there, and Eoin is working on a prank with Fred, so..."

Professor Lupin looked at James skeptically. "You expect me to believe that Fred wasn't there? Merlin, he probably gave you lot whatever got you drunk. And I happen to know that both Miss Jordan and Fred have detention records almost as impressive as their parents."

James fought back a smirk. "Actually, Sarah and Fred were together, but not at the party." Professor Lupin looked at him, perhaps slightly curiously.

Thank Merlin that James knew how to cover for our mates, because I certainly couldn't.

"And they were doing what? Causing trouble elsewhere?"

This time, Jame's smirk appeared in full force. "They've started dating, so I suspect they were in our dorm."

Professor Lupin put his head in his hands. I almost shrieked, but I'm not sure whether it was out of shock or triumph.

Bloody hell, if Sarah got wind of that, she wouldn't hesitate to smack him upside the head with her beater's bat. I'd have to make sure to tell her later...

That thought in mind, I joined in. "They've been dating for a couple weeks, and actually, that would explain why she was so secretive about why she was missing the party. Merlin, I should have known," I said with the disposition of someone who had just found out about their best mate meeting with a boy.

Apparently, I'm a decent liar when someone else provides a decent back story... or when it involves certain implications about Sarah. It would seem that revenge lying is my forte.

James grinned at me, glancing at Professor Lupin, who still had his head in his hands. "Oh, Fred's been talking about it for weeks. He reckons it's about time they tell the rest of the family, because things are getting-"

"Okay, okay! I don't want to know," Professor Lupin interrupted, putting a hand up to stop James from finishing his statement. "Merlin, you lot will be the death of me, I swear." He paused for a moment to recollect himself. "I'll pretend to believe you that the rest of your year was just... otherwise occupied, but that will not work next time, and for Merlin's sake, just don't get caught- I mean, don't do it again!"

The Professor instructed us to head back to the dorms, warned about the consequences if we didn't, and strode away.

I groaned. "Damn portraits..."

James glanced at me. "Damn bad liar," he accused

"Damn supplier of fire whiskey!" I replied indignantly as I determinedly avoided looking at Potter. I can't pretend I'm not terrible under pressure in any situation, but I could at least try to blame the alcohol.

James smirked. "Not such a bad thing to be."

"Yeah, well, if anyone asks, I wasn't even at the party, no less drinking with you Gryffindor idiots," I huffed.

"Simmons, I don't know how to tell you this, but... You're in Gryffindor, too."

I rolled my eyes. "Doesn't mean people need to know I associate with you lot."

James scoffed. "Simmons, face it: You're just as much a Gryffindor idiot as the rest of us."

That... Was actually sadly accurate.

I made a rather rude hand gesture at a few portraits that had gathered in a frame to whisper and gawk at James and I as we walked. I suppose that's how the Hogwarts rumor mill works so fast; The portraits can be damn nosy when they want to be. Of course, the fact that the students were no better didn't help things, but it was never a good sign when even the portraits were talking about you. I ran through a few solutions to keep them from spreading the rumors to the general Hogwarts population, most of which involved just destroying all the portraits in the school. Either that, or get rid of all the students...

No matter what happened, if people started implying that Potter and I were shagging, I would personally Crucio each and every one of them.

"Simmons, you're mumbling to yourself again," James smirked.

"No, I wasn't," I snapped. I hadn't been... Well, actually... "Prat."

James raised an eyebrow and I contemplated hiding behind a suit of armor to escape the embarrassment. "Plotting my untimely death, then?"

I scoffed. "Don't underestimate me; I've had that planned for weeks now. It did take a bit of blackmailing, though..."

"You're bloody loony, you know that?"

I grinned. "And you're just figuring this out? Hell, I've probably got Peeves beat on the looniness scale."

Potter smirked, shaking his head slightly. "You said it, not me. Anyway, I have to get to dorm. Fred and I might have... plans." 

I tried not to let that worry me, but if he was willing to tell me that he was plotting something, then hopefully that meant I wasn't the victim. Then again, he'd already proven that he could play mind games when he needed to, which didn't bode well. Merlin, based off of what he'd exhibited so far, everything he did was enough to incriminate him.

I rolled my eyes as he left, obviously gratified by my concern. "Prat," I grumbled as I trudged toward the dorm.

. . .

"The Fat Lady wants to know if Potter's a good kisser."

That was the statement Tara greeted me with when I arrived back to the dorm. I was about ready to kill something by then, but in an entirely uncharacteristic show of restraint, I just grated my teeth and responded with something along the lines of, "I wouldn't know." ...It may have ended up sounding more like a growl.

Tara was unperturbed by my reply. "Frankly, I can't say I'm not curious myself," She continued with a grin.

I didn't bother with a real answer. Instead, I took the high road and hurled a pillow at her with all the strength of a former Chaser.

Although the pillow didn't elicit much of a reaction, it shut her up for the time being, and that was enough... Until Sarah, being the loyal friend that she is, decided to join her in questioning me. "I'm more curious about what happened once Professor Lupin left."

I was about to shoot back with another extremely eloquent protestation that I most certain did not song Satan's spawn when something occurred to me. "Hang on, I didn't say anything about Professor Lupin," I pointed out, eyeing my so-called mates suspiciously.

Bailey, who had gotten up from her bed by that point, hopefully sensing my anguish, had the decency to look bashful while Sarah just grinned like the Quidditch cup had come early and Tara shot me an unrepentant smirk.

"We...may have stayed to listen once the wardrobe slammed shut," Sarah shrugged, searching for cover from the inevitable flying pillow.

"And you already bloody told those two?!" I motioned wildly towards Tara and Bailey, both of whom seemed quite pleased with themselves.

Sarah eyed me nervously, but went on after deducing that I'd run out of pillows (When I was angry, I had a habit of giving the term "throw pillow" a whole new meaning).

"It's not as if they wouldn't have heard the story anyway," Sarah shrugged.

Bailey spoke up with an equally obnoxious grin. "Yeah, practically all the fourth years know by now, and obviously the rest of the fifth years are running around interrogating James's mates. The portraits are terrible gossips, you know. There's a whole section on that in Hogwarts: A History, and-"

"Alright, so the whole damn school thinks I snogged Potter in a wardrobe, bloody brilliant," I grumbled.

Sarah patted my back, though she checked me for potential weapons in the process. "No, love, not the whole school," She assured me, then smirked. "Some think you two are shagging."

I shrieked and dove toward Sarah, who had unfortunately anticipated the attack, leaving me lying on the floor of the dorm after diving off the bed. "Gouge my eyes out! Merlin, I need a mental ward!"

"That you do," Bailey agreed, as Sarah didn't even try to restrain her laughter.

I threw a book at her and huffed. "I've already had the whole looney talk today, and I'm not in the mood to have it again."

Sarah, finally done bloody laughing at my misfortune, stood up. "Fine. We'll delay the inevitable choosing of your mental ward, but on the topic of insanity, you'd better start finding a way to protect yourself against James' angry fangirls."

I groaned. "What the hell would they want with me? The last thing I need is a bunch of love-struck third years chasing me with pitchforks."

Tara giggled. "You'd probably just flip them off and start throwing punches."

"I would not punch third year girls," I protested, although if they were obnoxious enough, I probably would.

"Yes, you would. Anyway, it's not that you'll have to watch out for; It's the rumors," Bailey warned.

I grinned. "Well, I haven't got any pride left, so what more can they do?"

Tara raised an eyebrow. "You remember when there were rumors that James was dating Clara O'Brien?"

"Not really, but I guess that happened."

Tara rolled her eyes. "You're so out of the loop you may as well go live in the Shrieking Shack for the rest of your life. Anyway, yes, that happened, do you remember the rumors?"

I stared blankly.

"Whatever, you're hopeless... So, by the time the Snakes got wind of the rumor, half the school had been convinced that she was pregnant with Aiden Crawley's child."

If she had just started with that, I probably would've remembered a lot sooner. See, in fourth year Potter and Clara had dated, but they had broken up over the summer, and when school started this year, half the girls in school were speculating on the state of their relationship. And then the rumors had started, and the Hogwarts Romeo and Juliet were no more... Or so Tara had dramatically proclaimed, although I had tuned out most of the explanation.

Sarah grimaced. "Y'know, I think I remember that. I'm pretty sure even some of the teachers started to believe it."

Bailey nodded. "Fairly certain McGonagall was ready to suspend the two of them, but that's beside the point. Basically, you either spend the rest of your Hogwarts career watching out for that, or you find some way to stop the rumors."

I groaned. "Y'know, I liked school a lot better before before you lot explained how things actually work. Still, like I said; I haven't got much pride left, so what have I got to watch out for?"

Sarah rolled her eyes. "You lot are so dramatic. The rumors'll die out after a few days, but for now, I'll enjoy laughing my arse off at how red your face turns whenever someone brings it up."

"So loyal, Sarah. Really, I'm touched," I grumbled as I (finally) stood up. "Now, if you lot are done terrorizing me with the threat of gossip, I have not slept for almost twenty four hours, so know that if one of you wakes me, you will die." With that proclaimed, I launched myself onto the red duvet, wincing as the springs squeaked in distress.

Tara glanced at me. "Oi, fine, but we're having a talk later about you and Sarah and your bloody betrayal when you left us at the party."

I groaned, but didn't respond.

"And we're getting the details of your second drunken midnight adventure with James Potter," Bailey added impishly.

She never even saw the pillow coming.

A/N: Thanks so much for reading! Like I said, reviews are life, and they never fail to put a cheesy smile on my face. Hope you liked it!


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