A/N: Alright so seeing as this is shaping up to be a monster of a chapter, I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who's made it this far and is willing to read on. You guys are absolutely amazing. :)

Anyway, things are starting to move a bit faster from here, and (hopefully) some things should start to make sense soon, so I hope you like it!

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or related material… Unfortunately. ;)

Chapter 13

In Which Mistletoe Is a Tragedy




"Either you go Christmas shopping with me on Sunday or I leave you locked in a broom cupboard while we're gone," Sarah declared without preamble.

I groaned and surveyed her from my position dangling upside down over the edge of my bed.

I'd been holed up in our room with an excess of textbooks and chocolate frogs since Wednesday night and had no intention of leaving. The portraits had gotten wind of the incident in the Great Hall and were having a field day with it (especially the part where James and I were caught hiding under a table together). I spent a good part of my recluse time trying to compose a letter to my mum explaining that I wouldn't be home for break; My greatest hope was that if I wrote well enough, I wouldn't receive a Howler in response.

(The Howler arrived two days later, and resulted in both absolute mortification on my part and an influx of students in the hospital wing complaining about temporary loss of hearing.)

My roommates had come and gone all week in what might have actually been predetermined shifts, now that I think about it, and Sarah had made it her goal in life to drag me out of the dorm kicking and screaming.

By "go Christmas shopping", Sarah really meant "sneak out through that creepy as hell statue and spend the day in Hogsmeade buying socks," since we'd all been banned from any activities outside of school, and I regarded her with a glare.

"Is this because you genuinely want me to go or because you don't trust me not to destroy the dorm while you're gone?" I had a feeling I knew the answer already.

Sarah's expression hardened and she gave me a pointed look as she scrubbed furiously at her Beater's bat.

I groaned again, with more effort to make it dramatic than the first time. "Why can't you threaten Fred into going? You know he'd jump at the chance to sneak out." I paused and glanced over at Bailey and Tara, who were sprawled on the floor working frantically to clean up what appeared to be a puddle of ink. "Or threaten one of those two, for that matter."

Tara glanced up from her frantic flipping through the 'Domestic Charms' section of The Standard Book of Spells, looking thankful for the brief respite from Bailey's glare.

"No can do," she shrugged, trying her best to look sympathetic. "Our de- Oh, try this one!" She jabbed at a paragraph to indicate a spell and thrust the open book at Bailey triumphantly.

"She's on her fifth cup of coffee tonight," Bailey sighed and sent me what I could only assume was an apologetic glance. "Anyway, we've both got the later detention hours over the weekend, so we wouldn't have time," she elaborated like the loyal Tara-translator that she is.

I groaned. I'd almost allowed myself to forget that enough of us had gotten ourselves enough detentions that we had to serve them in shifts.

The "shifts" were partially to try to squeeze as many detention hours as possible into each of our separate schedules, although by that point I figured there was no hope that any of us would make it home for the holidays. I had a sneaking suspicion that the main reason for the separate schedules was that none of the professors wanted to deal with nine teenaged Gryffindors in detention together, but I suppose I can't really begrudge them that.

Anyway, it meant that I was mostly free on the weekends after 9am, so I wasn't complaining.

Bailey spared a glance at the spell book Tara was still jabbing triumphantly and whacked her arm. "Tara, this is for cleaning windows," she sighed.

Tara deflated a bit but shrugged. "It might still work for…" she broke off after seeing the collection of amused expressions. "Well, we've got a bloody dirty window, anyway."

We turned to consider the grimy glass of the window in our dorm.

I could barely make out anything but the outline of the stars outside through the layer of grime, but, then, I'd always considered that part of the charm of the room. Probably mostly because no one wanted to clean it, but it still had to have some sort of sentimental value, yeah?

"Hey, Hermione Granger could have looked through the same rubbish window in her fifth year, so you respect the glass," I ordered.

Tara nodded solemnly and turned her attention back to her ink dilemma. She halfheartedly attempted to scrub at the floor with a spare uniform skirt, which earned her a whack from Bailey. I had to commend her for her creativity.

"That better not be my skirt," Sarah muttered before turning to me. "And you're coming with me to Hogsmeade. It's not negotiable."

I gulped, because she had that scary glint in her eyes that meant she was well prepared to follow through with any threats she administered. Sarah held my gaze, daring me to argue.

I sighed in defeat. "Fine," I grumbled, already regretting it, "But if s-"

"OH, MY GODRIC LOOK AT THE SNOW!" Tara's squeal reached a pitch that I was surprised human ears could process.

The three sane - at that moment, at least - occupants of the dorm groaned as she threw herself against the window, spilled ink forgotten.

Sarah removed her hands from her ears and glared while Tara continued to watch the flurry outside with wide-eyed wonder. "Tara, it's just snow -"

"It's the first snow," Tara interjected, though it sounded a bit muffled, considering her face was pressed flush against the window. I didn't know how to tell her that it had been snowing gently last night when I'd woken up to the damned thumping at an ungodly hour.

Wisely, I didn't say anything.

Bailey winced as Tara pressed closer to the glass. "Tara, we've been over this; that window probably hasn't been cleaned since the 1990's."

Tara twisted to face us with a gleeful grin. "I've got just the spell."

. . .

"I swear to Godric if it starts to snow again someone is going to bloody die," I snarled.

Sarah made a noise somewhere between a snort and a laugh and hurriedly pulled on her quidditch jersey. "That someone may be you, love, considering your history with cold weather."

"That," I muttered, shivering as I struggled to figure out whether my jersey was torn or just inside out, "is actually a valid point."

"Simmons, are you trying to get dressed or strangle yourself?" Amelia Saunders called from the far end of the locker room, already dressed and poised to open the door.

I flung the jersey onto the wooden bench and huffed. "It's trying to strangle me," I declared and turned away from the damned thing to face her.

Amelia diverted her attention from my struggle to peek outside and smirked. "Well, I'll be keeping Alan from strangling Harvey," she declared as she slipped out the door, and then paused to add, "and you have forty seconds until someone drags you out!"

I winced.

After eliciting my best long-suffering sigh and flinging myself onto the cold bench, I glanced up and surveyed Sarah sulkily. She grabbed the homicidal jersey in question and eyed me with a raised eyebrow. With no small amount of amusement visible in her expression, she pulled the sleeves through in what I can only assume was the correct way and tossed it back at me.

I snatched the jersey viciously out of the air and yanked it over my head before I could start shivering violently enough that I wouldn't be able to stay on my broom. After a brief struggle to get my arms through the sleeves, I emerged from the fabric with what was probably a murderous expression and rumpled hair. "I've survived an assassination attempt," I grumbled.

"Alright, love." Sarah patted me unsympathetically and tugged me towards the door.

I stared longingly back at the embarrassingly thick jumper and jeans I'd had to trade for my practice clothes. "Don't make me go out there," I pleaded one last time.

My melodramatics, as usual, got me nowhere.

I barely had time to grab my broom before Sarah rolled her eyes, pushed the door open with her hip, and yanked me outside muttering something about it being for my own good.

I was immediately assaulted by a rush of cold wind, and Sarah dragged me nearly to the center of the pitch before trusting that I wouldn't make a run for it. The sky was grey and most of us had been expecting snow earlier, but there hadn't actually been any so far; Again, small mercies. The ground of the pitch crunched below my feet, still frozen from the previous night.

Since Fred, James, Sarah, and I were all technically banned from any activities outside of school, we'd had to sneak onto the pitch before the bloody sun was even up, which was not how I'd envisioned spending my Friday morning.

"It's too cold for this shit," I muttered, glaring at Watts (and pointedly not looking at Potter; We hadn't exchanged so much as a glare since the rumors resurfaced, and I was eager to keep it that way.)

Watts just grinned at me as another gust of freezing wind hit us and the team assembled around him. "Great to have you back on the team, Simmons." He gave a sarcastic nod in my direction. "Anyway," he continued and flashed a wicked grin, "laps."

Three laps around the pitch and five death threats later saw me thirty feet above the ground, sitting on a broom shivering, and cursing every god in existence.

Harvey glided over to me and gave a wary, almost wistful grin as we waited for Watts to start yelling drills at us. "Just like last year, isn't it?"

Watts screamed abuse at Fred and James (something about them taking their brooms for a joy ride in the Forest a few nights ago) while Harvey and I both grimaced in a gust of cold wind.

I sighed. "Just like last year."

We spent the next hour and a half pretending to do drills whenever Watts looked our way. Out of principal, Harvey did his best to keep James and I as far from each other as possible, which was probably for the best. I doubted that anyone would forget the bloody nose fiasco any time soon, though that may also have been for the best.

Really, things didn't start to go downhill until we started debating our strategy for the next game, which was much later than any of us had been expecting.

Alan surveyed us with a critical eye, although his gaze didn't seem overwhelmingly hostile for once, so I supposed that was a good sign. "Right. So, Jordan, Weasley - You two are looking decent, but I'd ask that you try not to get any serious fouls called on yourselves next game."

The two Beaters in question nodded, but didn't look particularly remorseful.

Alan sighed and moved on. "Amelia, next game…" He paused and scrutinized her raised eyebrow and smirk. "Just try not to die."

"Yes, sir," Amelia muttered with mock solemnity.

I had to admire her willingness to die for Quidditch.

"And Chasers…" Alan continued, ignoring Amelia. I gulped, because Alan Watts was not known for being kind to his Chasers, especially when they'd spent the entire practice slacking off. "You're going to learn to run a Parkin's Pincer."

The entire team looked on in something close to shock.

Sarah and Fred looked like they were trying to stifle giggles. James raised his eyebrows at the announcement and Harvey just sighed. I took a cue from them and tried to look startled and pretend I actually knew what a Parkin's Pincer was.

"So you plan on having Harvey basically commit a blatching foul, then?" Amelia looked more amused than incredulous, but it didn't do much for my uneasiness.

Getting called for blatching was... Not fun, to say the least. It involved deliberately flying into a player on the opposing team, which no sane team would attempt.

Naturally, the Gryffindor team was famous for it.

Alan winced at the harsh assessment. "Well, the other two would actually get called for blatching if they tried."

I glanced around the group again hoping to gather something about what the hell everyone was talking about. James looked like he wanted to argue but had thought better of it, and the rest of the team watched with more amusement than I was entirely comfortable with.

I held up a hand timidly to try to get a word in but was cut off by Harvey's abrupt, "Absolutely not."

Alan looked almost startled. "You won't actually be called; I'll make sure - "

Harvey shook his head to silence him and raised an eyebrow. "It's not that I'm worried about," he sighed and motioned towards James and I, who at that moment were determinedly ignoring each other.

Upon becoming the focus of the debate, I did my best to stand up straighter and huffed, even though I still wasn't entirely sure of what was going on. "Potter and I can get along long enough to get through one bloody play!"

"No, we can't," James said flatly, "and you're making this worse."

I opened my mouth to argue but shrunk back under Harvey's gaze and sighed. "Alright," I conceded, "I'm making this worse."

Alan nodded distractedly at me and turned back to Harvey. "It's our only chance at getting past the 'Claw's defense, and if our Chasers aren't at the top of their game we won't stand a chance."

Amelia gave a huff and crossed her arms at the Alan's assessment. "Nice to see you've got so much faith in me, Alan."

Fred snorted. "Saunders, you've spent the last two matches in the Hospital wing."

"And who was responsible for making sure the bloody Bludger didn't hit me in the first place?" Amelia demanded, turning her glare to Fred, who didn't flinch.

I winced, and James gave a long-suffering sigh. Evidently we were the only uninvolved party at that moment.

That couldn't end well.

Sarah gave an incredulous scoff, and I could only watch helplessly as she took a defensive stance. "So that was our fault, was it?"

Amelia whipped around to face her. "Well you certainly didn't - "

"Would you three shut up about the bloody Bludger?" Harvey finally snapped.

James and I exchanged a frantic glance and stepped forward to intervene, but were too slow to stop the argument from escalating. I almost laughed at the irony of how quickly we moved from being the center of the argument to being on the outside of it.

Ten seconds later there were yells echoing around the pitch from all sides and we were helpless to stop it.

" - bloody act like you can tell them what to do - "

"Well excuse me if I expected you to do your bloody job - "

"Let's all just… take a deep breath and - "

"- Gives you the right to, then?"

"If you knew how to bloody turn- "

"Okay, erm… Couldn't we just…"

"- Was your leadership that cost us the bloody match!"

"Like hell you did! I saw how you played - "

"- Not the bloody captain - "

"- Shouldn't even be on the team!"

"This… Got very out of hand - "

"I bloody gave it up so you could be Captain!"

Harvey's words hung in the air, all at once silencing the team and giving the atmosphere a sharper edge.

James and I shrunk back. Fred, Sarah, and Amelia exchanged hurried glances and fell silent.

Alan flinched, the anger that had been building suddenly gone. "What?"

I met Sarah's eye, and she smirked as Harvey's face morphed into a more panicked expression. I made a mental note to interrogate her later to find out what exactly she knew.

Harvey stared determinedly at the ground and muttered the most unconvincing, "nothing," that I'd ever heard, and I've heard a lot of unconvincing dismissals in my short but tragic life as a student.

I met Sarah's gaze and joined the rest of the team as they inched backwards in a hopeless attempt to distance themselves from the two seventh years.

Alan surveyed Harvey (who looked like he wanted to disappear into the ground of the pitch) almost searchingly. I glanced longingly at the locker room, which had started to offer both warmth and escape. After a few beats of silence, Alan sighed and turned to the rest of us.

"Head to the locker rooms." He ran a hand down his face as he examined the group. "We're done for the day."

Pfft. That'd be the day.

I turned to meet Sarah's eye and almost laughed out loud, but stopped when I realized that Alan was yet to revoke his offer.

"Wait, you're serious?" Fred gaped after a beat of silence.

Alan raised an eyebrow and nodded in the general direction of the locker rooms.

Sarah, Fred, Amelia, James, and I exchanged a few blank looks and dazedly shuffled off, leaving Harvey and Alan to work things out.

I didn't even feel that bad.

The last time Watts had let us out early, McGonagall had resorted to literally dragging him off the pitch in the middle of a storm - or, well, she'd had Hagrid do it, but that's not the point. If Alan Watts was giving us a chance to escape practice early, then by Godric, we were going to take it and run with it.

We were a very dramatic lot.

No one said anything as we crossed the threshold of the locker room. I watched the dwindling view of Harvey and Alan through the door as it swung closed, but I didn't see much more than a lot of angry gesturing. I tore my gaze away just as the door banged shut and whirled to face the others, whose gazes were still on the door like it would reveal what was happening outside.

"So… What exactly just happened?" I ventured, hoping that someone who'd been on the team for longer than five practices might have a better idea than me.

Sarah snorted and gave me an almost maniacal grin as she glanced at the closed door. "I've got no clue, but it was bloody entertaining."

. . .

Saturday morning saw me working alongside Sarah, Fred, Amelia, and James in an attempt to mop up the mess that was the Gryffindor Quidditch team, to no avail. Following the inevitable failure to track down either Harvey or Alan, we'd agreed to ambush the two should we find one or both and then gone our separate ways before someone got whacked upside the head (again).

By the time the weekend came, I was ready to retreat from my dorm and live off of Chocolate Frogs and Sugar Quills for the remainder of the school year. Unfortunately, fate (and Sarah Jordan) had other plans.

I'd set the bar pretty high as far as awful ways to spend the weekend went, but with regards to Sunday as a whole, I should've been thankful for the ignorant bliss while it lasted.

"Well that was fun," Sarah grumbled as we fled Hogsmeade through the musty tunnel under Honeydukes.

I gave her a sidelong glare but otherwise said nothing.

We continued down the dusty corridor and she gave me my moment of sullen silence before losing her patience. "I can't believe you got us kicked out of Zonko's," she hissed.

I stumbled as we passed a sudden dip in the tunnel. After taking a moment to recover, I huffed. "I can't believe they kicked me out for knocking over a shelf," I grumbled.

Sarah eyed me with exasperation. "I can believe it if the shelf fell because you tried to climb it," she sighed, shaking her head.

To be fair, I'd been trying to reach a pack of dung bombs… But I digress.

I sighed and focused on not touching anything disgusting on the walls of the tunnel. The blue light from our wands barely illuminated anything but the area immediately in front of us, and I already had what I considered to be an unacceptable amount of cobwebs stuck to my jacket sleeve as a result.

"I guess it'll be recycled gifts for everyone this year, then," I sighed.

Sarah nodded in agreement. "So nothing we're not used to, then," she said wryly.

I tried to be offended. "Oi, I put thought into my regifting tactics," I protested.

"I'm sure," Sarah murmured placatingly as we rounded the final turn to the statue.

I huffed but let the topic drop because I didn't have much of an argument, anyway. I steeled myself before climbing out of the tunnel with more effort than it probably should have taken. After offering Sarah a hand out (which she declined with what I hoped was a fake glare), we both brushed off our robes and glanced around. Sarah motioned towards the corridor that lead to the Hall and I nodded. We hurried off in a wordless agreement that food was our first priority.

I turned back towards the grotesque statue that stood like a guard over the passageway. I muttered a brief, "thanks, Gunhilda," before whirling around to follow Sarah down the corridor.

I tried not to notice the way a few of the portraits sniggered as I passed, but I still had to grit my teeth to avoid reaching for my wand to hex the paint off of them whenever I heard whispering.

The dinner crowd had just started filtering in when we reached the great hall, and Bailey and Tara, probably fresh out of detention, waved us over as we walked in. I sat down heavily and winced at the accompanying thud.

Sarah dutifully relayed the story of our misadventure in Hogsmeade to an eager audience while I concerned myself with inhaling my mashed potatoes. Once she reached the end, I swallowed and nodded. "So on a scale of one to the two of us, how much of a disaster was your night?"

Bailey raised an eyebrow. "Compared to you two, we had a bloody boring night, and we saw two Slytherins stuck under enchanted mistletoe on our way to detention."

Sarah laughed appreciatively. "Gotta love Hogwarts mistletoe," she nodded.

Every year, students (typically Gryffindors) took it upon themselves to enchant the mistletoe to trap a person in place until someone kissed them. I guess we had to find some way to make the overabundance of decorations entertaining. Personally, I was terrified to walk anywhere because of it, but, hey - to each her own.

Tara shrugged. "Yeah, well, nothing interesting came of it that we saw," she said regretfully. "Anyway, besides getting yourselves kicked out of Zonko's, did anything of note happen?"

Sarah tore into a piece of bread. "I dunno, they've got the newest Firebolt model at the Quidditch supply store," she shrugged.

Bailey rolled her eyes. "You'd find that interesting," she snorted.

We lapsed into pointless conversation as we finished our dinner. Tara regaled us with some story about the boy she sat in front of in Ancient Runes and Bailey rolled her eyes occasionally at what I could guess were more than slight exaggerations in the tale. Sarah demonstrated the proper technique for hanging a spoon on her nose, and soon we'd all dropped our spoons under the table in our attempts to do the same and consequently decided we were done with them anyway.

We gathered our things just as the Hall started to really fill up for dinner. Tara's eyes widened as we stood up, and I almost winced in anticipation of the inevitable squeal.

"Oh!" She clapped her hands and we looked up expectantly. "Didn't Harvey McLaggen and Alan Watts have a big fight at practice or something?"

I nodded slowly as we headed for the doors. "That's old news, love." Honestly, she was usually more on top of things.

Tara nodded in dismissal. "Yeah, well, apparently Amelia told Caroline that - "

She cut off and stared at Sarah, who was spewing a violent stream of curses. Loudly.

I furrowed my brow as Sarah jerked a little frantically to the side without actually moving, having not comprehended quite yet. "Wait, are you…" I trailed off and snorted as I glanced above her and saw the mistletoe dangling above her head… Which was also above my head… Wait.


I heard Bailey laugh. "Is this karma for laughing at Sarah that I see, Charlie?"

I nearly face-planted in my attempt to escape the hold of the enchantment, but to no avail.

Tara let out a gleeful giggle. "It's just a little peck on the lips."

Tara, who greeted total strangers with hugs; Of course she'd see the humor in it.

Sarah stopped struggling and whipped her head around to check that I was in a similar situation. I could see both Bailey and Tara, traitors that they were, laughing at us, and a small crowd had begun to gather in the Hall to watch the spectacle. I vaguely recognized the boys from our year watching with rapt attention and amusement, and I was torn between wanting to kill someone and wanting to melt into the floor and disappear for good.

Sarah met my gaze and raised an eyebrow. I groaned and gave her a helpless shrug, still on the verge of what was either hysterical laughter or tears.

Sarah nodded back at me. I sighed.

Eh, what the hell.

. . .

"If I hear one more person say a bloody word about the kiss, I'm setting the school on fire," I groaned, grabbing a handful of chocolate frogs.

Sarah and I were currently sprawled on my bed in a nest of blankets and candy wrappers. Tara gave us a pointed look and cackled gleefully, to which I glared.

I turned to Bailey, hoping for some sympathy, but received a shrug. "Don't worry, love; I think most of the school is under the impression it's more of a friends-with-benefits type relationship."

I didn't even have the energy to glare at her, but I'm pretty sure that I did retort with something that may have resembled a growl.

Tara giggled. "Well, it's curbed the rumors about you and James, so there's that."

"There's that," I repeated with a sigh. I bit the head off of a chocolate frog somewhat viciously and chewed thoughtfully. "Although some girl asked me earlier how we were making the relationship work with the three of us…" I reached for a licorice wand.

Sarah gave a dramatic groan and stole my licorice. "Fred thinks the whole thing's bloody hilarious. Prat," she murmured as she tore into her licorice wand. After a few sullen chews, she brightened. "The Puddlemere game's on tonight, though, so if any of you lot value your sanity, you're welcome to join me around the radio."

She motioned to the ancient, barely-functional radio that sat on the window sill.

I nodded and dragged myself to the edge of the bed closest to the radio. "Thank Godric for the little things in life," I grinned.

Bailey rolled her eyes, and Sarah made a beeline toward the bathroom to throw on a pair of old pyjamas. I trailed after, growling at the cold floor on my bare feet.

After emerging in a sweatshirt and plaid pyjamas, Sarah made a beeline to the bed and held out a handful of chocolate frogs. "Join me!" She demanded, throwing both Tara's and Bailey's pyjamas at each one respectively.

Bailey rolled her eyes, but got up, nonetheless. "Alright, alright, but we're taking you two to a mental ward afterwards."

"Not before the match is over!" Sarah clarified, narrowing her eyes at the noise of static coming from the radio.

I poked Sarah and leaned over her shoulder to inspect the radio, though I didn't have the slightest clue how to work it. Sarah shrugged at me and grabbed another chocolate frog as she flipped through stations.

Tara emerged from the bathroom and hurried over in her sheep onesie (we'd gotten over the hilarity of her owning more than one onesie long ago) with Bailey in tow.

"Aha!" Sarah grinned victoriously as the awful static noise emitting from the radio abruptly stopped, and was replaced with enthusiastic music.

"I love this song!" Tara squealed before flinging herself onto the bed, which squeaked in protest.

Bailey raised an eyebrow. "You love Puddlemere's anthem?"

"'Beat those Bludgers back, boys'," She nodded enthusiastically.

"'And chuck that Quaffle here'," Sarah finished religiously.

Tara grinned, gestured dramatically, true theater kid that she was, and screeched, "No team can ever best the best of Puddlemere!"

The rest of the song saw us moving to stand on various furniture throughout the dorm and joining Tara in her screeching. I stood on my bed, dancing to Puddlemere's anthem... I'll be the first to admit that it was not an attractive sight. I turned to Sarah to yell something about the volume and -


I toppled off the edge of the bed in response to the noise.

The initial crash was followed by a variety of yelling and cursing, and I rose rubbing my sore arse to see figures moving outside the window.

…Outside the window?!

The shutters flew open with an assortment of shrieks and curses.

I whirled to face the open window and gaped. Eoin, Aaron, Fred, James, and Sean stood there, sheepish grins on their faces and brooms in their hands.

I'd like to pretend that I fixed them with a glare, but the most I had the mental capacity to do at that moment was gape at the five boys standing at the open window.

They stared at the four of us, me still recovering from my unceremonious fall and my mates still standing on the furniture. We stared back at them, trying to process the fact that five of our House mates were standing in our dorm at an ungodly hour on a Friday night. My mates and I exchanged a helpless, somewhat terrified glance.

After the extended silence made it obvious that none of us were going to speak up, Fred raised his eyebrows at the four of us. "Is this really how you spend your Friday nights?"

Raucous applause erupted over the radio, and then the room was left in silence except for the announcer's voice.

"I... Erm... Could you close the window?" Tara finally spoke up. She shivered and stared dazedly ahead.

"Right! Erm… Yes," Aaron nodded, seemingly just realizing that they'd left it wide open. The room was growing steadily colder, but it honestly could have been below freezing and I wouldn't have noticed.

Eoin swung the window closed with a loud squeal.

A brief silence enveloped the room, both sides waiting expectantly for some sort of reaction or explanation. I looked from the rosy-cheeked group still clustered around the window to the brooms in their hands and narrowed my eyes.

"What the bloody hell are you doing here?" I growled at the group, still recovering from the embarrassment of being caught dancing in my pyjamas.

I heard a chuckle from somewhere in the hoard of boys and glared. "And before you answer, consider carefully the fact that I would not be partial to pushing any of you out the same bloody window you just crashed through," I warned.

There was another beat of silence, broken by a roar of applause from the radio.

"Well, she's taking it better than I thought she would," Potter finally shrugged. I glared and, not for the last time, considered making good on my threat.

Next to me, Sarah crossed her arms, and a good number of the boys in front of us inched back slightly. She eyed them with a glare that probably rivaled McGonagall's. "Explain," she demanded, voice scarily impassive.

Fred examined her for a moment and sighed. He scratched the back of his neck and chuckled nervously. "Well, you see, erm…" He eyed the window like he wouldn't mind jumping back out of it right then. "Well, you remember Halloween? How I sort of, erm, borrowed the sword of Godric Gryff – Is that the Puddlemere Game?"

He snapped his gaze to the radio, which was still blaring in the background.

Sarah narrowed her eyes.

Fred nodded. "Right, erm..." He glanced to his right desperately. "James? Help, please?" His voice cracked just a bit as he said the last part.

We turned our attention to James, who was glaring at Fred as if he'd just murdered his Pygmy Puff. "Thanks, mate," he grumbled. "So, anyway, um... We were sort of... discovered, as one might say, and erm..." he coughed and looked intently at the ground. "Now we've got about ten teachers searching our dorm for the Sword, so could we please hide it in here for now?"

He said the last part so quickly that it took me a few seconds to even comprehend what he was asking, and then another to come up with a response to grace such stupidity. Unfortunately, Bailey beat me to responding.

"Why didn't you guys just return it after we got away from the party?" She demanded, rounding on Eoin and Aaron, whom she and Tara had escaped McGonagall with on Halloween.

Aaron and Eoin exchanged a panicked glance, then turned sheepishly to face Bailey.

Aaron shifted uncomfortably. "We, um... See, there was a bit of a -"

"We forgot," Eoin cut in bluntly. He winced at the looks he received.

I raised my eyebrows. "You… forgot that you'd stolen the Sword of Godric Gryffindor," I clarified with a flat voice.

Eoin responded what could have been an attempt at a shrug and instead came out looking like a grimace. "...Yes."

"Right, so you're all idiots," Bailey sighed, "but why in Godric's name would we let you bring us down with you?"

She had a very valid point, but I was still hung up on the fact that they'd bloody broken into our dorm. I had to stifle a yelp as I realized I was wearing my pygmy puff pyjama bottoms, and I inched away from the window before glaring even more coldly at the desperate group in front of me.

"Ahhh…" Fred looked thoughtful. "In the spirit of democracy?"

Bailey scoffed, and I remembered not for the first time just how scary she could be. "Please. If this is a democracy, you aren't even citizens."

The boys collectively deflated.

They stood, unmoving with pleading expressions on their faces. Sarah, Bailey, Tara, and I exchanged a collective glance and engaged in something of a silent conversation. I jutted my chin out in obstinance and Tara rolled her eyes in exasperation. The boys looked on in bewilderment until Eoin timidly intervened.

"And, erm, they were coming to check the girls dorms when we left, so, could you maybe decide quickly, or -"

Muffled voices drifted through from the hall.

"They're checking the dorm across the hall now, you absolute bloody morons," I hissed to no one in particular.

Fred, James, Eoin, and Sean moved in closer to engage in a frantically whispered debate. "Just hide us until this blows over!" Fred pleaded, clutching both his broom and what I could now see was the bloody sword of Godric Gryffindor. 

"Fine, but you have to -" Bailey started in exasperation.

"What? No; We are not hiding th-" I cut in.

Sarah shook her head. "Why don't we just offer to hide the sword, then?"

Fred jumped at the opportunity. "Yes!" He held the sword out to Sarah. "Here, you take - "

Sarah huffed. "I don't want it!" she protested, passing it to Sean.

"What? Why don't you take -"

The conversation that followed was bordering on incomprehensible, but the little I got out of it was the nine of us playing hot potato with the sword. The group was engaged in a whispered debate, doing our best to speak in urgent but quiet tones. I'm still not sure how I ended up where I did, but not ten seconds after the argument broke out I found myself standing in the middle of the room holding a sword and staring in horror as a knock sounded from the other side of the door.

The frantic hissing stopped abruptly, and there was silence in the room. I gaped at the door in horror and waited in silence with the others.

Another knock.

Oh, Merlin, we were dead. 

I exchanged desperate glances with my roommates as more snippets of conversation filtered into the crowded room.

"-Most likely culprits, even so."

"I'd like to believe that they'd have the sense not to let themselves be implicated in the ordeal, but..."

I recognized Professor Longbottom's and Professor Chambers' voices and almost winced. It figured they'd send our head of house.

Was it too late to write my will?

I held my breath. My heart thumped so loudly I was beginning to consider a silencing charm. The sword felt too heavy in my hand and I narrowed my eyes as I vowed to exact revenge on whoever'd passed it off to me in the first place. I was just whirling around to try to find the culprit when the door handle started to turn.

Someone dove towards the lantern to turn it off. I dove under a bed and yelped when I hit my foot on a trunk. There was a scream, a few thumps, and then silence.

The door creaked open.

Light from the hallway flooded the room.

I stared with wide eyes at the gap under the bed and tried to remember to breathe. I could make out two pairs of shoes crossing the threshold with a determined air, and I kept my eyes glued on the feet as they ventured further into the room.

"Professors..." I heard Tara mumble in a convincingly tired voice. I squinted at the feet in front of me.

There was a pregnant pause before Professor Chambers answered with a skeptical tone. "Miss Hayward... If I may ask, where are the rest of your roommates?"

I clutched the sword and nearly groaned; Of course they'd wonder where I was if I didn't show up, but at that point I couldn't just appear from under the bed and brush it off as nothing.

Merlin, can't a girl catch a break?

I watched the feet intently and vaguely wondered where the bloody hell the boys were hiding through all this.

I could hear Tara fake a stifled yawn, and I had to give her credit for her acting skills. "'Sleep," She murmured drowsily to Professor Chambers in response.


Oh, hell. 

I cursed that damn thumping in every language I knew how and held my breath as the conversation lulled. Two sets of feet hesitantly turned towards me and I closed my eyes so that I wouldn't see it all fall apart.

There was a rustling of covers and a quiet groan.

I peeked an eye open and blinked at the sight that met me. Sarah's bare feet shuffled into my line of vision. "Why am I awake?" I heard her demand of the professors in a very in character display of annoyance at being woken up. Bailey padded across the room after her.

Someone cleared their throat. "I seem to remember you three having another roommate," Professor Longbottom sighed.


"Oh, Charlie?" Tara asked as innocently as she could, although I could tell she was stalling for time to think of an excuse. "She's just -"

There was a small crash from behind the bathroom door, and I supposed that answered my question of where the boys were. The sets of feet all turned to face the door and I silently cursed.

"She's just in the bathroom," Tara finished smoothly. "She was up late working on her Potions essay and I think she was just headed to bed."

Honestly, that was the most unrealistic lie she'd told all night.

Professor Longbottom seemed to realize this. "On... A Friday night?"

"Yup; She's made it her new year's resolution to become a better student," Tara affirmed.

I... What?

"It's not the new year," Longbottom challenged dryly, not believing the story but also finding no proof that she was lying.

I heard who I thought was Bailey snort. "Well we all know she's going to need some practice."

Oi; I couldn't even protest! I bit my tongue and glowered at the feet in front of me.

Someone sighed. I heard Tara clear her throat awkwardly. Bailey paced a bit and Sarah huffed. Just the sound effects were making me wish that I could see all of their faces.

"So, can I go back to sleep now, or...?" Sarah let the sentence hang for a couple of beats and continued when no response came. "Because I have Quidditch to worry about, and if I don't get my seven hou-"

"Alright," I heard Longbottom sigh, "we're leaving." He retreated to the door with Professor Chambers in tow before pausing to say, "but if I hear that any of you had something to do with the sword fiasco, I will not hesitate to book you detentions into your seventh year."

He shut the door behind him and there were several audible sighs of relief.

The bathroom door swung open and five boys spilled out in varying states of aggravation with each other after being crammed in for an extended amount of time. Someone flicked the lanterns back on and relieved, pointless conversation filled the room. I poked my head out from under the bed and glared up at the lot of them.

"Whoever shoved that sword at me will not live to see another sunset," I declared from the ground. I narrowed my eyes at the laughter that followed. "Oi, I'm not even kiddi-" I started as I struggled to get out from under the bed frame.

My foot made firm contact with the trunk I kept shoved under my bed and I hissed in pain as I made to kick it out of the way.

James' gaze snapped over to me and he met my gaze from across the room. "Wait... Simmons, stop!" He looked uncharacteristically panicked, I thought as I shoved the trunk over behind me.

I narrowed my eyes at him as the trunk spilled over. "What are you going on ab- AAAARGH!"

A/N: Alright, I am so, so sorry that it's been so long. I literally have no excuse, and every single one of your wonderful reviews made me want to get this up so badly, I just... I had difficulties. :/ I'm still not sure I'm happy with how this turned out, but here it is, I guess, and I hope you like it! 

Thank you all so much, and I'm sorry for the wait! 

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