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Making It Count

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Old August 1st, 2006, 3:09 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
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Age: 41
Posts: 32
Making It Count

This will be my first attempt at a multi-chaptered fic. It's next-gen fanfic. I only own the characters I've made up, but obviously not the characters they spring from. *checks wallet, makes sure it's empty* Yup, not mine. Thanks, Jo, for the wonderful world I so often lose myself in!!

Chapter 01

Platform 9 ¾ was a mass of confusion, bustling and teeming with students and their family members. Ember Merriweather groaned as yet another group of people jostled her around in passing, then let out a small shriek of surprise as she tumbled backwards over her trunk, landing flat on her bum.

Ember was just a tiny thing; she stood four feet, ten inches on a good day, with pale skin, hair so black it looked blue and violet eyes fringed with long, black lashes. She knew she was far thinner than was strictly healthy, but it had never been something she could control.

“Honestly, do people think I’m ten years old?” She muttered, still sprawled on the ground.

A pair of hands gripped her around the waist and plucked her up off the ground to set her on her feet on top of her trunk, and the voice they belonged to answered in her ear, “Yes. But at least your friends know better.”

She whirled around and squealed in delight, “Gideon!” Then launched herself into his arms for the hug she knew was coming.

Gideon Weasley stood six feet, four inches, and marveled inwardly about the fact that this slip of a girl seemed to get smaller every summer. Grinning at the knowledge that it was he who grew larger instead, he hugged her close, calling out at the same time, “Oi! You lot, I’ve found her!”

From her vantage point on top of her trunk, hanging onto the rock that was Gideon, she watched in mild satisfaction as her friends all converged in the middle of the station, then jostled the very same people who’d knocked her flat as they made their way toward her.

Andie made it to her first and barreled her into a tight hug, which only landed the both of them right back on the ground. Andromeda Lupin had the height of her father and the totally awesome metamorphmagus genes of her mother. Her hair, currently, was electric blue, curly, and hung to her waist. Unfortunately, she also inherited her mother’s grace – or lack, thereof. Regardless, Andie and Ember were best friends.

“Ember, you look so incredible! I missed you so much! Did you have a good holiday? Where are your mum and dad?” Andie’s questions all came tumbling out in a rush, and Ember couldn’t help laughing.

“Let’s see if I can get this straight: Thanks, so do you, love the hair! I missed you too, but then my million owls to you would have indicated this. I had a nice holiday, but it would have been better if I’d been able to see you lot,” Ember grinned triumphantly and added, “There, how’d I do?”

“You forgot to tell me where your mum and dad are,” Andie laughed in return.

Ember rolled her eyes. “You know Mum and Dad – they hugged me, kissed me, patted my backside and then went off to a meeting. But not before informing the next three people they met that I am a witch.”

Andie chuckled; Ember’s parents practiced the Wicca religion, and while they had no magic themselves, they were part of a local coven and attempted it often. They were also extremely absent-minded, and while they loved their daughter to pieces, they often forgot she was there. It never bothered Ember, though – it was just the way it was.

By the time they’d untangled themselves, the rest of the group had made it to the spot Ember had staked out. While they waited for the train to start letting them in, Ember did a quick visual survey – she hadn’t seen her friends since the end of last term.

Gideon was not only the tallest of them, but the oldest, as well. He was Ron and Hermione Weasley’s oldest child, and he would be 17 in two days. He had his father’s lean, lanky build and deep blue eyes, as well as his streak of irresponsibility – but it was tempered by his mother’s honey-brown hair and her impossible brain. Of the Gryffindor sixth years, he was the quiet one, the steady one, but had instigated his share of trouble.

James Potter was the outgoing, loud, obnoxiously arrogant prat of the group. He was tall and fit, with his father’s black, messy hair and his mother’s chocolate eyes. James was a talented wizard – the problem was that he knew it. But all that aside, he was a fierce friend and a true Gryffindor. At the sight of him, Ember’s heart skipped a beat. She’d been half in love with him for four years, but kept that little bit of info to herself. Only Andie knew the truth, and then only because she’d guessed.

Moving on, her eyes landed on Lucas Weasley and Owen Parker. They were the muscle and the comedian of the group, respectively. Luke was the second son of Fred and Angelina Weasley. He was the shortest of the guys at five feet, nine inches, but built like a brick ****house and obsessed with Quidditch, although the fact that his mum was a chaser for Puddlemere United leant a bit of credence to it. He had skin the color of creamed coffee, and naturally red hair. He was odd-looking, no doubt about it, but had the energy of eight toddlers.

Owen was, like Ember herself, a Muggle-born. Neither of his parents had magic abilities. In fact, his dad was an architect and his mum was a financial planner. Both of them were baffled by their son, but proud of him all the same. Owen loved practical jokes, and pulled them often and without remorse. He could play a Muggle guitar better than anyone Ember knew, as well.

Riley Longbottom was the girly-girl of the sixth-year Gryffindors. She was tall and curvy, and what many guys referred to as “stacked.” She was the second child of Neville Longbottom and Lavender Brown, and had her mother’s long blonde hair, a love for all things girly, and the ability to talk a mile a minute. Fortunately, she had her father’s expressive eyes and incredible talent in the greenhouse, as well as his giving nature.

Sarah Wood was the first child of Oliver Wood and Alicia Spinnet. Her dad was Puddlemere United’s best Keeper, and she loved Quidditch – but had no talent for it whatsoever. Sarah and flying simply did not mix, as they’d all discovered in first year when she fell off her broom from five feet in the air and broke her leg – during the first lesson. Sarah was tall and on the plump side, but no one really noticed it because she was loud and exuberant, and always in a ridiculously good mood.

Which left Ember herself. She was obviously the shortest of the group, and had only just turned sixteen the previous day. Her parents, firm believers in the ideals of the whole hippie movement of the 60’s and 70’s, had named her December Skye, much to her everlasting embarrassment. They said it was to celebrate the month she was conceived, but Ember was pretty sure it had more to do with them being as unconventional as they could be. She was deaf in her right ear as a result of being born a month premature, but it didn’t stop her from making herself heard.

She grinned to herself as they all tried to talk over each other. Soaking the noisy conversation up, she kept one eye on the train; when the doors all opened, she clapped her hands together and piped up, “Train’s open, you lot. Let’s get a compartment before they’re gone!”

Knowing the guys would grab her trunk for her, Ember hopped off it, grabbed her owl’s cage and Gideon’s as well, then streaked through the crowd to the doors, where she slipped onto the train and grabbed a compartment. They’d long ago begun using Ember’s small stature to their advantage – which included having her get their train compartment. Lucky for them, she saw the logic in this and didn’t mind in the least, as it meant they’d all get a decent seat, and she didn’t have to bother with her own trunk. She stowed Athena and Zeus in their cages in a corner of the compartment, then sat back to await her friends.


Okay, so there it is, first chapter. Feedback goes here.


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; August 2nd, 2006 at 11:53 pm.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 2:27 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Okay, I was gonna wait until Friday to put this up, but I just couldn't. Call me impatient.

Chapter 02

Ember leapt to her feet as Gideon stepped into the compartment, lugging his own trunk in one hand and one end of her trunk in the other. James soon followed at the other end, and the two of them made short work of stowing the luggage away.

Owen and Luke came next, followed quickly by the three girls. Once they'd all finished putting stuff away, the eight of them jostled around until they were comfortable. They’d been chatting companionably amongst themselves when Andie suddenly jumped up and turned to leave the compartment, saying, "Gotta use the loo. Ember, come with me."

Riley rolled her eyes as Ember climbed across Gideon and Luke to reach the door and disappeared with Andie. Sarah bounced up from her seat and poked her head out the door, then came back in with a grin and said, "Coast is clear - let's set up."

Luke stood and reached into his trunk, pulling out four brightly wrapped gifts while Riley dug three more out of her own. Owen was pulling out silverware and plates while Sarah and Gideon decorated the compartment, and James kept an eye on the door. It opened to reveal Neville, holding a cake bedecked with sixteen candles and the words, "Happy Birthday, Ember."

Sarah and Gideon paused in their decorating to peek at the cake as James took it, saying, "Thanks, Uncle Neville."

Riley grinned and said, "Yeah, thanks, Daddy!"

Neville snorted and raised an eyebrow, then replied, "It's September first, you lot. Stick with Professor now. And you're welcome."

He left the compartment, then stuck his head back in and added as an afterthought, "Don't leave that where Andie might destroy it; I had a bear of a time getting it here in one piece."

There were snickers and guffaws all around as he left for good, and the friends went back to their preparations.

In the bathroom, Andie sighed and said, "I wish I could be as comfortable with Gideon as you are. You two are like halves of a whole."

Ember looked her dead in the face and said, "It probably helps that I'm not head-over-heels in love with him." At the look on Andie's face, Ember snickered.

"Okay, so he's like a brother to you - "

"On top of being my best friend," Ember added, still grinning.

" - and you're too much alike, I know. And - " She paused, just realizing what Ember had said, and looked indignantly at her. "Hey! What am I, chopped liver? I thought I was your best friend!" She shook her wet hands in her friend's direction in mock outrage.

Ember laughed again while wiping the droplets off her cheeks and replied, "Okay, let me rephrase. He's my best guy friend."

"Well if that's the case, will you tell me if he mentions me?"

"Sure, how about I pass him a note in Transfiguration?"

Andie turned around to sock Ember in the arm and promptly tripped through the bathroom doorway straight into Gideon's arms with a gasp of surprise. They both blushed a bit, then Gideon grinned as he righted her and said, "I was just coming to see if you lot had fallen in, and sure enough, you've fallen."

Oh, he had no idea just how far she'd fallen. Andie considered purposely tripping into him again, then shook the notion off as Ember laughed and replied, "Well, she has her mother's boundless coordination, hasn't she?"

Gideon laughed out loud at Andie's half-hearted grumble and said, "Let's go, ladies. After you, Andie." He winked at her conspiratorially, and she managed a smile before turning to lead the way.

Back at their compartment, she slid the door open and stepped to her seat, then turned around as Gideon nudged Ember inside.


Ember's hands flew to her mouth in shock as her eyes took in the streamers, the goofy hats, the candles on the cake and the large pile of gifts. Her friends launched into a noisy and very off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday," which made Ember laugh and clap her hands together.

James sat back and watched her, thinking she looked very much like a small child who'd just discovered how something worked - or like a young woman who'd never had a birthday party, now that he considered it.

Ember was often quiet and reserved, always seemed to know just when to pipe up or back down, and did more listening than she did talking. She was very much the "mother" of the group, and the voice of reason when Gideon wasn't.

James knew her parents were absent-minded, and while they obviously loved her and were endlessly proud of her, neither of them paid very close attention to her. He suddenly understood how she'd come to be so grown-up and independent, and felt a twinge in the bottom of his gut at the realization that she'd never really had the chance to just be a kid.

She stood there, tiny and far too thin, her amethyst eyes dancing with excitement and a grin on her face as she clapped her hands in delight. She'd gained a few more curves over the summer than she'd had at the end of last term, and James felt his breath catch.

She's gorgeous.

Wait, what? Where had that come from? Unwilling to examine it just now, he shoved his brain aside and finished singing along.

Ember threw her head back and laughed out loud, asking, "Whose idea was this? You guys, this is great!"

"Well, as I seem to recall, you turned sixteen yesterday," Luke answered. "And we decided you needed a party."

She laughed and said, "But Gideon will be seventeen tomorrow. You could have saved yourselves the trouble and just combined mine with his."

"Nonsense," came Riley's reply, "You're too damn practical for your own good. You deserve your own birthday party just as much as anybody else, so give the practical hat to Gideon for today. He can give it back to you tomorrow."

Sarah pulled a knife out and grinned. "Shall we have cake, then?"

The eight of them made quick work of the cake and cleaned up after themselves. As they were finishing, the train lurched forward as it began pulling out of the station.

Riley, on her knees on the seat, fell off it to the floor. Sarah was tossed back into Luke, who shot a hand out to keep Owen from crashing face-first onto Riley - but missed. There was a loud "Oomph!" from both of them.

At the same time, Gideon automatically slid an arm around Andie's waist as they fell toward the seat, twisting them around so he'd cushion her fall. The instant they landed, however, he wished he hadn't. He'd unwittingly pulled her tight against himself, and when he looked into the eyes she'd morphed to match her hair, a sudden tingle raced through him.

He mentally cursed himself. He'd been attracted to Andie for longer than he cared to admit, and this summer all they'd done was tiptoe around each other in between the flirting. He stared into her eyes another second before he realized just how close his face was to hers.

Giving her a quick squeeze and a lopsided smile that looked remarkably like his father's, he loosened his grip and distracted himself by turning to check on Ember. Her small frame had probably been thrown across the compartment. His eyes widened when he found her in a heap in his cousin's lap.

Gideon watched as shock, desire and bewilderment raced, in that order, across James' face before he managed to get a hold of it. The desire was the biggest surprise, and Gideon filed it away for a later time, when he'd make it a point to have a chat with James.

When the train moved, Ember had been tossed unceremoniously toward James. His arms had instinctively closed around her, as they would have around anything that had suddenly landed in his lap in that situation. This, however, was Ember. His brain registered that fact, and then his thighs registered the small backside currently seated there. Not long after that his belly registered the equally small hip pressed into it, and immediately following that, his chest registered the swell of -


Shut it off, shut it off!

McGonagall. McGonagall angry. McGonagall angry in a swimsuit. McGonagall angry in a bikini!!

Oh, thank Merlin - that worked. Realizing he'd forgotten to breathe, he sucked in air only to discover she smelled like a mixture of cool, clear water and crisp, winter air. Fitting, he supposed, for someone whose name was December – man, her parents were strange - still, he had to force himself to relax, then looked around the compartment at the tangle of arms and legs.

No one moved for twenty full seconds, and then Ember's muffled voice said, "If any of you lot smashed my presents, I'll hex you all." Riley snorted inelegantly from underneath Owen, and the laughter spread through the compartment.

James, however, didn't laugh - the sound stuck in his throat at Ember's words, as she'd said them with her face still pressed into his neck. Every nerve ending in his body centered itself directly beneath her lips, and when Riley had snorted, Ember had grinned. He'd felt the curve of her lips against his skin, and lost his breath all over again.

He smelled like a sun-soaked backyard, as he always had, but this time it was right there, invading her senses. She gave herself a mental shake when he stiffened up at her words, however, and lifted her head. Pressing a small hand into the center of his chest, Ember pushed herself away from it, realizing he probably wanted her to move. She sincerely hoped he hadn't felt the way her heart was racing.

Pushing it from her mind, she clambered out of his lap and stood, then looked James in the eye and said, "Sorry 'bout that."

"S'all right," he mumbled, looking away.

Her heart sank a little at the gesture...was she that repulsive? Or just too much like a little kid? She shrugged it off as everyone began to untangle themselves, and put a smile on when Gideon pulled her down beside him and handed her a gift.

He'd caught the hurt look before she'd slammed the lid on it, however, and as she opened the gift he'd purposely distracted her with, Gideon vowed to find out what exactly was there. James was his best friend, and was an open book to him. Ember was his best female friend, however, and he was protective of her. It was time to do some fishing - but he knew it would have to wait until later.


Feed me, I'm hungry!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)
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Old August 4th, 2006, 6:36 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Okay, this is the third chapter. I cranked this out about three hours ago, and I've been feeling uninspired, so hopefully it's not too, too bad.

The song bits in here include "Summer Loving" from Grease and "The Rainbow Connection," from none other than the talented Kermit-the-Frog.

Chapter 03

The remainder of the train ride was uneventful, and as the carriages pulled them through Hogsmeade, Ember let out a sigh of contentment. She could see the castle in the distance, and let the familiar rush of coming home wash through her.

Ember had always felt more comfortable here, in this world, in this place, than she ever did at home. She’d never fit in with the other kids as a child – partly because her parents were considered so unorthodox, partly because she couldn’t hear well, and partly because strange things happened when she was around.

Music had always been her escape, until the summer she was ten. That July she received a letter from Hogwarts, and had never looked back. And each year that she returned, it was like shedding an old, tired skin and waking up from hibernation. The castle came fully into view and her breath caught, then sighed softly out.

The eight of them had somehow managed to cram themselves into one carriage, and Andie was pressed in next to Ember. Andie heard the soft noise she made and grinned, grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze, then said, “Looks like we’ve made it, ladies and gents.”

The carriage ground to a stop and they all tumbled out, then made their way up the castle stairs and into the Great Hall.

The sorting ceremony went quickly, and then Headmistress McGonagall stood for the start-of-term announcements.

“Welcome back, all of you, and welcome to our newest students. It’s a new year, the beginning of a new chapter for all of you. As ever, the Forbidden Forest remains forbidden. Mr. Filch has banned a number of new items; you may find the list posted on the wall outside his office door, as it now exceeds the door itself.”

There were snickers through the hall at this, and she continued, “Quidditch captains will see me tomorrow afternoon at four; tryout times will posted within the week. And this year we will be holding a Yule Ball, as well. That said, let the feast begin!”

Food appeared in massive quantities on the four house tables, and everyone dug in with gusto. Andie, Sarah and Riley all chatted excitedly about the Yule Ball, and Ember laughed as Andie mockingly wailed, “How will I do my hair?!” The guys, predictably, were all over the Quidditch conversation, but still managed to stuff their faces full of food.

When the meal was over, everyone headed up to their dorms to unpack and get settled. Ember finished her unpacking and headed down to the common room, where she found Owen with his guitar in front of the fire. There were some second-years over in one corner, playing Exploding Snap, and a group of fourth-years in another corner, talking animatedly.

Ember began threading her way toward Owen, stopping when she heard her name. Turning, she found Arthur, Gideon’s younger brother.

“Ember, hi!” His face was still flushed with the excitement of finally being here with his siblings, and Ember grinned as she said, “Hey, Arthur! All right?”

“Yeah! This is so cool! This is Adam Jordan. What do we do now?”

Ember laughed out loud and said, “Pleased to meet you, Adam Jordan. It’s Saturday night, boys – I’d say you can do pretty much whatever you want, as long as you remember to be back here by curfew, okay?”

“Okay! Thanks, Ember!” Arthur leaned over to say something to Adam then, but Ember couldn’t catch it. Shrugging, she smiled and left them, heading towards Owen again.

Reaching his armchair, she climbed up onto the arm of it and perched there, humming along with tunes he plucked out that she recognized. Soon Sarah, Riley, Luke and Andie had joined them, chatting amongst themselves as Owen sparked a couple of chords that had Ember grinning at him. He cocked an eyebrow at her, and at her nod began playing a Muggle song they both knew, then singing.

Summer lovin,’
Had me a blast

The common room quieted, and Ember came in.

Summer lovin,’
Happened so fast

They continued, and it soon became clear to the first years that this was a favorite back-to-school pastime for the Gryffindors. When they’d finished the song, kids began shouting out others, hoping to hear their choices.

Meanwhile, Gideon and James were upstairs in their dorm, still unpacking and chatting about Quidditch and Gryffindor’s prospects this year. They tapered off, then Gideon gathered his thoughts together and said, “So how about that tumble we all took on the train today, hmm?”

James stilled for a moment, then continued to put stuff away and forced a laugh. “That was something, yeah? You looked pretty cozy with Andie there for a few seconds.”

A blush tinted Gideon’s cheeks, and he said, “Totally unintentional – but what a rush! How about you? You had a nice heap of Ember piled in your lap. You should have seen the look on your face!”

James sighed, knowing Gideon was fishing. He had a protective streak a mile wide when it came to Ember, had since their first year. “Yeah – it was a bit of a shock. She’s – tinier, I guess – than I thought.”

Gideon raised an eyebrow. “And?”

“And what?”

“There was more than shock on your face, Cuz. What’s up?”

James shifted uncomfortably, cursing Gideon’s ability to read him. “Anitusgdshgupnshdid,” he mumbled as quickly as he could.

Gideon’s brow furrowed. “What?”

Sighing, James repeated clearly, “I said it was good she got up when she did, ******.” He groaned, mortified at being caught with thoughts like this about someone his cousin considered a sister, and plunged on, “Merlin, it was like she’d used a sticking charm on herself, and then her lips were pressed into my neck when she started talking. I had to picture McGonagall in a bikini, or Ember would definitely have noticed something.”

Gideon made a face at the thought of McGonagall in a bikini, and James went on, “And she got up and apologized like it was nothing, like she hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. And it wasn’t – it couldn’t have been.”


“No. I mean, she’s Ember. Just Ember. Short little thing, can’t hear the rude things we whisper in her right ear, acts-like-a-mom Ember. We’re just friends.” James looked at Gideon, then asked, “Right?”

“Sure,” came the response, “Whatever you say.” He stood and came close to James, then said quietly, “I know what I saw on your face, and I know you’re going to deny any possibility of more than friendship, but I know you, Cuz, and I know how you think. And I love you, but if you hurt Ember in any way, I will take you apart. Are we clear?”

James swallowed, then said, “We’re clear.”

Gideon nodded and stepped back, then turned and left for the common room. To the now empty room, James wondered out loud, “But what if she hurts me?”

Downstairs in the common room, Gideon came in as one of the first years, a Muggle-born named Lisa Stevens, called out, “Do The Rainbow Connection!” He took his seat on the couch as Owen looked to Ember and asked, “Know it?” She nodded, and he struck up the song.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

Quietly, Gideon said to Andie, “I think she’s gotten better over the summer, if that’s possible.” Andie nodded and leaned against him, listening intently. The only Muggle music she really knew was the swing music her father loved to play and music as it was played in the wizarding world, so this was a treat.

Gideon felt the rush again when Andie leaned on him. Deciding to put his courage to the test, he slid an arm around behind her back and gave her an experimental squeeze. She sighed quietly and relaxed the rest of the way, enjoying the last of the song.

Have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors
The voice might be one and the same
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
It’s something that I’m supposed to be
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

They finished out the song, and Ember looked around, grinning at the drowsy-looking first-years. She also noticed Gideon and Andie, curled together on the couch, and Luke and Riley talking quietly amongst themselves.

Sarah had been watching Owen intently, and he looked over at her, and asked, “Hey, Sarah. All right?”

“Yeah. That was beautiful. I wish I could play,” she responded wistfully.

Owen grinned and said, “Come here. I’ll teach you, if you like.”

Sarah’s eyes widened, and she said, “Yeah! Are you sure?”

He motioned her over, and Ember got up so Owen could show Sarah what to do. She wondered briefly where James was hiding, but shoved it from her mind; the last thing she needed was a boy to throw her off, especially one who only saw her as a kid. Even if that boy was James Potter.


Click me - I know you want to...


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)
Reply With Quote
Old August 14th, 2006, 5:46 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Okay, so I've had a week's vacation, and spent it struggling with this chapter. I'm still not happy with it, but it will have to do for now. I may go back and revise a bit, but for now, try to enjoy.

Chapter 04

Sirius Potter sat in his regular corner, contemplating – oh, everything. Sirius was a lot like his father. He was a brooder and kept most things to himself. Strangely enough, he had very few of his namesake’s qualities. James got those, apparently.

Tonight, Sirius had one ear tuned to Owen and Ember – he enjoyed hearing them make music – and the other listened to Ethan and Daisy, who were arguing. Again. This wasn’t unusual; if they weren’t at odds, something was very wrong.

A multi-tasker by nature, he also kept an eye on the door to the boys’ stairwell. James was suspiciously missing from the start-of-term festivities, and Sirius was willing to bet it had something to do with the singing wonder over there, and the fact that Gideon had just come downstairs wearing his “must protect everyone” look.

James had been stuck on Ember for three years, but was painfully oblivious to it. Until now, if his absence and Gideon’s pleased look was anything to go by. Sirius wondered what had happened between this morning and now – and vowed to find out.

In the meantime, he’d go back to plotting just how to go about making Daisy notice him – as more than one of her best friends. He’d fancied Daisy Malfoy for the last two years. Unlike his clueless older brother, however, Sirius was well aware of his feelings.

He’d be taking her to the Yule Ball, that was certain. But first he had to figure out how to ask her…without having her laugh in his face. And without her older brother hexing him into next Tuesday. That in and of itself would be a task for a hero.

“Ethan, we don’t have rounds tonight until ten o’clock. There are no classes tomorrow, so there’s no reason we can’t stay and listen a little longer,” Daisy said. Ethan could be such a stick-in-the-mud sometimes!

“The sooner we do them, Daisy, the sooner they’ll be done,” came the sensible response. She rolled her eyes and didn’t bother answering…sometimes arguing with him simply wasn’t worth the effort.

Instead, she turned her attention to Owen and Ember. She had no idea what any of those songs were, but Daisy enjoyed the music all the same. As she listened to them harmonize about a crazy little thing called love, she snuck a glance at Sirius.

Sure enough, he was watching her. She ought to know; he’d been doing it for nearly two years. Daisy thought she might fancy him, but was unsure about his feelings toward her. The small, Slytherin part of her kept her from outright asking him – and she hated that, but it was there nonetheless.

Shrugging it off, she propped her chin in her hand and allowed herself to daydream a bit about the Yule Ball. She knew exactly what she wanted to wear, how she wanted to look. Her white-blonde hair would be hanging down her back, and her dress robes would be a sleek ice blue. She’d charm her eyes to match, and have the time of her life.

Too bad she couldn’t quite see who her date was – she just knew he was tall and dark-haired. Oh, well, she thought, I’ve plenty of time to find out who he is.

Ethan tugged on her arm then, displacing her hand and causing her head to drop suddenly, shaking her out of her daydream. “Daisy, we have to go now,” he said.

Daisy lifted her head back up and glanced around the common room; Owen was bent over Sarah, his hands covering hers to guide them through the proper chords. Gideon sat curled with Andie – that was a fairly new development – and Riley and Luke were talking. Ember stood off to the side, staring into the fire with her arms hugged close to herself, then made her way over to where she, Ethan and Sirius were grouped.

“Hey, guys,” she said, “What’s going on?”

Ethan answered, “Daisy and I have to go on rounds – you and Owen finished just in time. Come on, Daisy.”

Daisy rolled her eyes again and replied, “Just a minute, Ethan! Ember, you sounded really good tonight. Did you take more lessons over the summer?”

Ember smiled a little and shrugged, answering, “What can I say? Lessons are my life.” Daisy laughed, then sighed loudly and impatiently when Ethan tugged on her arm again. “Okay, okay, oh-bloody-kay! I’m coming, Ethan! Merlin’s beard, you’d think the school would blow up!”

Stomping after him, she called back to Ember and Sirius, “Sorry, guys – see you later.”

Sirius and Ember watched them bicker all the way out of the portrait hole, then shared a laugh. “Those two never change, do they?” asked Ember.

“No, they sure don’t. This should be an interesting year with both of them as prefects,” came the reply. Sirius turned his full attention on Ember now, watching her like a small child watches a bug. She’d filled out a bit over the summer, he noted, but was still smaller than most of the third-years.

Her violet eyes were still deep and knowing, and Sirius suddenly knew what people felt like when he watched them intensely. Brushing the feeling aside, he looked her dead in the eye and asked bluntly, “So how was the train ride in?”

She was a little surprised by the question, but then Sirius had always been quite a bit more tuned in to others. Regardless, she gave nothing away as she raised an eyebrow and responded, “It was lovely. They threw me a surprise birthday party.”

“That’s right, it was your birthday just yesterday. Good thing I got you a gift.” He waved his wand and said, “Accio Ember’s birthday present!” She grinned as a long, thin package zoomed down the stairs and into his hand, then tore into it with childlike glee. Pulling out a beautiful quill, Ember laughed and said, “Thanks, Sirius – it’s perfect. I love it.” She hugged him briefly, and he gave her an affectionate squeeze before sitting back down and gazing at her again.

She put the quill in her wand pocket, then looked back at Sirius. He was watching her closely again, and she finally said, “All right, what is it you want to know?”

Sirius chuckled and shook his head. “I guess I’m confused as to why you lot are all down here, but James isn’t.”

Ember smiled and said, “I have no idea. That’s one egg I’ve never attempted to crack.” But not for lack of trying, she added to herself.

“Okay, let me try this from another angle. Gideon came down here wearing his ‘protect mode’ look while you and Owen were singing. And as he usually only gets that look when something concerns you, I can only assume that something happened between the time I lost sight of them at Platform 9 ¾ and the time we arrived here at Hogwarts.”

Godric’s teeth, this kid was sharp. Easing into a chair next to him, Ember sighed. “I don’t know what happened, Sirius, that’s the truth. The train jerked, we all ended up in a big tangle, and I found myself piled in his lap like a bag of potatoes. I never thought he’d be so repulsed by it, but it’s like he can’t even look at me now. And it was entirely innocent!”

She sighed again, then looked over at him. “He’s always been so cool and confident, but now he’s almost…well, nervous. In the space of twenty seconds. Is that normal for him? Has he ever been so fickle like that?”

Sirius looked at her for a minute, but got nothing more than polite curiosity out of her eyes, so he answered truthfully, “No. I think he fancies you, and that’s why he’s being an **** – he doesn’t know what to do about it.”

Ember snorted out a derisive laugh and said, “Oh, that was a good one, Sirius. The day your thick-headed brother fancies me will be the day Voldemort buys ice skates in his personal hell.”

When she laughed again, Sirius grinned. The mental picture of Voldemort buying ice skates was certainly entertaining, but he was more pleased with the rest of her comment. Ember knew how to hold a conversation and give nothing away, but she’d slipped this time. Now he knew that she fancied James right back. It wasn’t so much what she’d said as how she’d said it. She had to be mighty bothered by James’ reaction if she’d let her frustration with him show in her voice.

They continued chatting amicably for a while before Ember said her goodnights and headed up to her dorm, introducing herself to the first-years she didn’t already know as she went. Sirius chuckled to himself; she was such a mom sometimes – no wonder she and Gideon got along ‘like a wink and a smile,’ as the old song went. But he reckoned that Ember was exactly what his brother needed.

Now he just had to help James along to the same conclusion. Ember had pegged him dead-on – he was as thick as they came. Sirius had heard the stories time and again, and had come to the conclusion that James got that particular trait from their Uncle Ron…it was the only explanation that made sense.

Grinning to no one in particular, Sirius sat back to wait for Daisy and Ethan to return.


Please, PLEASE feed me!!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; August 14th, 2006 at 6:25 am.
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Old August 15th, 2006, 4:28 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
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Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Chapter 05

Gideon woke to a mountain of gifts piled at the foot of his bed. He scrubbed his hands over his face and looked at his watch, which indicated it was only just quarter of seven. Judging by the snores he could hear, the guys were all still asleep. Smiling at the notion that he could relax by himself for a bit yet, he reached for the end of his bed and rifled through his gifts.

Finding the one he’d been searching for, he held it for a minute, examining and remembering each detail. It was a small, cube-shaped package wrapped carefully in shiny blue paper. A white hair ribbon had been tied around it in a bow, and the note attached read: I know you’ve already got one, but I saw it and it just screamed, “Gideon!” Okay, not really, but I thought of you and – bloody hell, I’m even clumsy on parchment. Anyway, happy seventeenth, Gideon. I hope the year brings you all you wish for. Love, Andie.

Gideon chuckled to himself, tracing a finger over the words before carefully removing the ribbon and note. Stealing a quick glance around the room, he made sure his friends were asleep before tucking the note, ribbon and all, under his pillow. He’d never felt the need to make excuses for his sentimental nature, but he was wise enough to head off the ribbing he knew he’d receive at the gesture.

He made short work of unwrapping the package, and once it was open he looked inside. Set gently in the box was a badge. It was in the shape of a snitch and just as golden, engraved with a “C” for captain.

Tipping it out into his hand, he turned it over to discover the phrase, “Weasley is our King” etched in small letters on the back. Beneath it, smaller yet, were the words, “For Gideon, love from Andie.”

Merlin, he was in love with her. No one ever got him quite the way Andie did. Okay, he amended, Ember understood him. But neither he nor Ember felt that way for each other. He and Andie, however, had always had that chemistry, that basic knowledge of each other.

Grinning to himself, Gideon tucked the badge back into its box and set it beside him. Crossing his legs, he reached gleefully for the remainder of his presents and tore into them like a kid at Christmas.

It was seven-thirty when he stepped into the common room, still too soon for all but the early birds. Which, apparently, included only himself and Ember today. She looked up from the book she was reading and smiled, saying, “Happy birthday, Gideon!” in greeting.

He grinned, strode over to her and plucked her out of her seat to plant a smacking kiss on her mouth. She laughed as he dropped her back into the armchair and said, “Thank you for the book, Ember – I’ve been wanting it all summer!”

She’d given him Winning for Wimbourne: A Quidditch Retrospective, by Ludovic Bagman, and had even gotten Ludo to personalize it for him. Still laughing, she responded, “I know you have, and you’re very welcome. But that wasn’t worth such an exuberant display, Gideon.”


“Not a chance. If it was, then I can’t wait to see you kiss Luke and Owen and James like that.” Watching him, she went on with a sly grin, “So what did Andie give you?”

The grin gave way to snickers when the tips of his ears flushed pink and his jaw dropped open. Quickly closing it, he leveled an accusing glare at her and replied, “You already know, don’t you?”

Ember nodded and smiled. “She was so afraid you’d think it was stupid. It took me forever to convince her to add it to the others.”

“Well I’m glad she did, because…” he cut off as Andie stepped into the room and said, “Good morning, you two. Happy birthday, Gideon.”

In four long strides, Gideon had swept Andie off her feet and pressed his lips to hers, but with none of the delighted good humor he’d shown Ember earlier. No, this was a different kind of kiss altogether.

Ember grinned and watched them unrepentantly, giving a satisfied sigh. The emptiness of the common room came as a blessing because it enabled her to hear them perfectly when Gideon pulled away to say, “Thank you for the captain’s badge. It’s perfect, and exactly what I would have chosen for myself.”

Andie leaned drunkenly against him, head still reeling from the kiss they’d just shared. She thanked Merlin and all the gods that Gideon was standing there supporting her, because she’d be on the floor otherwise. Finding her voice, she replied, “You’re welcome. I wanted it to be…special, I guess. Seventeen is important, after all.”

“The gift is special, but not because I’m seventeen. It’s from you – it says so right on the back. In tiny letters you can hardly see, but it’s there all the same. That is what makes it special.”

Andie was still staring at him when he suddenly asked, “Did you mean it?”

Her brow furrowed in confusion, and she asked, “Mean what?”

“What you wrote. ‘Love, Andie.’ Did you mean it?” The intensity with which he looked at her made Andie shiver, wondering if he could see straight through her. It didn’t even occur to her to protect herself, she just answered truthfully, “Of course.”

“Good, because I love you, too.” And with that, he kissed her again. Ember grinned and went back to her book, humming quietly to herself; everything was as it should be.

Thirty seconds later, others began trickling into the room, heading for breakfast. Arthur stared at his big brother for a full ten seconds before snickering and leaning over to say something to Jack.

Riley and Sarah came in, and both of them smirked knowingly when they saw their friends. They made their way over to Ember, and Riley said, “Well, that was easy enough.” Sarah nodded and added, “It’s about time, anyway.”

Sirius and Ethan descended the stairs then and took seats to wait for Daisy and Aidan. They watched Gideon and Andie with amusement, and Sirius said, “Man, it only took them all their lives.” Ethan snickered in response.

Luke, James and Owen were the last of the sixth-years down, and goggled when they realized who was kissing whom. The girls rolled their eyes, and Luke cleared his throat. “Some blokes have all the luck! He not only turns seventeen today, he also gets snogged first thing in the morning!”

Gideon and Andie pulled apart then, and just as Daisy entered the room, Gideon stated emphatically, “We were not snogging.”

Everyone still in the room snickered. Ember raised an eyebrow and said from her chair, “If that wasn’t snogging, I’ll kiss Filch dead on his crusty old mouth.”

Riley snorted out a laugh and Daisy said, “Oh, Ember – I’m sure there are better things to put your lips on. A centaur. A Slytherin. A frozen metal pole. James. Anything.”

James opened his mouth, then closed it again. He wasn’t sure whether he should be pleased to be considered better than Filch, or insulted that he was lumped in with both a Slytherin and a frozen metal pole. Before he could say anything, though, Sirius piped up, “No, not James. He’d enjoy it far too much.”

He was going to kill his little brother. He took a step toward Sirius, but then Ember laughed.

“Those would all certainly be better than Filch, but let’s be realistic, shall we? It doesn’t matter so much whether or not the person or thing I’m kissing enjoys it, it only matters whether I’d enjoy it. And the centaur – especially if it’s Firenze – I would definitely enjoy.” The girls all giggled…Firenze was very good-looking.

Ember continued, “I may even enjoy the Slytherin, if I could choose which one it was. The frozen pole, now – that wouldn’t be so great. But I could wait for someone to come unstick me. And James, well…” she shrugged, “unfortunately, I’m under the impression that James would sooner snog Lucius Malfoy than he would me, so he’s out, too.”

There were laughs all around. Now he was insulted – Lucius Malfoy, indeed. And why in the world would she assume he didn’t want to snog her? Good Godric, it was all he could do to keep from hauling her against himself and snogging her senseless.

Not waiting to hear his response, Ember went on, “So now that we’ve settled that, what’s it gonna be? Were you snogging, or do I go plant one on Filch?”

No one answered; they only laughed or grinned. Both Andie and Gideon flushed, so Ember grinned and said cheerfully, “I win; you were snogging. But we’re all thrilled for you both, so don’t worry about it. Now if none of you lot mind, I’m starving. Anyone for breakfast?”

With that, she got up and left the common room, not waiting to see who’d follow her. They all stood there for a moment, then Ethan asked thoughtfully, “She’s starving? Where do you suppose she’ll fit the food?”

Luke laughed out loud, followed quickly by Owen and Sarah, and the entire group left together, hurrying to catch up to Ember.

As the Great Hall buzzed with excitement, students received their schedules and ate their breakfasts. James nodded at his own, pleased to see he’d officially dropped History of Magic. He’d also dumped Divination. He hoped to eventually make one of the professional Quidditch teams, but intended to learn all he could about magical creatures, so his class list included Care of Magical Creatures as well as Charms, Potions, Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Leaning over Andie, he spied both hers and Gideon’s lists, pleased to see they’d both be in all but Care of Magical Creatures with him. Gideon had snatched Ember’s list and was currently informing her what he thought of it.

“How can you take this many classes, Ember? I know you got eight O’s and two E’s on your OWLS, but these are all newt-level, you’re going to have to drop one or two to keep up.”

Gideon and Ember didn’t fight often; when they did, it was usually pretty entertaining. This one felt like it could be a big one, but Ember seemed to want to keep a low profile. James listened as she replied quietly, “Gideon, it’s only ten classes.”

“Only? Ember, you’ll kill yourself. How many lessons do you think you can keep up the homework on? Okay, scratch that one, I know you could do it. But seriously, be a little more careful with yourself. You’re at Hogwarts now, not at home. You’ve got Andie. And me. And Riley and Sarah and Luke and James and Owen. And everyone else. You can take time to breathe.”

The entire group was listening now, waiting to see what she’d say.

Ember looked up at him, considering, then asked, “But what if I want to take them all?”

Gideon groaned and begged, “Please, please just drop two of them. I’ll leave you alone if you humor me and drop two of them. Three or four of them, if you’re of a mind to indulge me. Besides, you don’t need them all. You want to be a curse-breaker for Gringott’s, not my mum.”

The entire group burst into laughter, including Ember herself, and she conceded. “Okay, I’ll drop two. Now I just have to decide which two…”

She trailed off, and James came up behind her to peer over her shoulder at her list. His eyes widened when he saw it, and he said out loud, “Muggle Studies? Are you mad? Drop that one, for Godric’s sake – you’re Muggle-born.”

Ember stilled at his voice so close behind her, and struggled not to stiffen up. He sounded like his old self, and wasn’t acting nervous at all. She wondered what had changed, then gave a mental shrug and thought, If he can go back to normal, so can I.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’ll drop Muggle Studies, and…” She trailed off again, and the others gathered close around her, offering their opinions. It was Riley, however, who gave the winning argument.

“Drop Herbology.”

The entire group turned to stare at her – Herbology was her best subject, and her dad taught it. She shrugged and continued, “What? It makes the most sense, especially as you’re only dropping two. One of those E’s was Herbology, you don’t need it to be a curse-breaker, and honestly, you know Daddy will give you any extra lessons you want if you ask him.”

Ember stared at her a minute, then nodded. “All good points. Herbology it is.” Digging out a quill, she crossed Herbology and Muggle Studies off her list, leaving her at eight classes. All she had to do was get McGonagall to approve it.

Both James and Gideon watched her as she took her revised schedule up to McGonagall. McGonagall looked at it, pointed to something and commented, and Ember responded. They went back and forth for a few minutes, and James said to Gideon, “She’s actually arguing with McGonagall. Did your mum ever have the nerve to do that?”

Gideon shook his head, “No, Mum always did what McGonagall told her to do when it came to classes.” They shared a laugh as Ember came stomping back toward them, and James said, “Looks like McGonagall won that round.”

Ember halted in front of them and huffed out a breath, then looked at Gideon and said, “She made me drop History of Magic, too.”

They tried not to laugh out loud, but failed when Gideon snorted. “Ember, give it a rest. I’d have made you drop Care of Magical Creatures, too,” he replied.

“She tried, but I argued her down to just one, since you’d already begged for two.” Her new class list now said she would be taking Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions and Transfiguration.

James shook his head, wondering why anyone would want to take so many NEWT level classes, but was hugely pleased to note she’d have Care of Magical Creatures with him. None of the others in their group was taking it, so he could take the opportunity to be near her without everyone watching them.

Not that I want to be near her, he thought. I just want to get to know her better. Yeah, that’s all it is.

Right, said a mocking little voice in his head. That’s why you had that interesting dream last night, Potter.

He ordered that particular voice to shut up immediately, and went back to shoveling in his breakfast. He had an entire day to enjoy before classes began tomorrow, and he intended to fully enjoy it.


Hopefully, this one was better. Please, please leave comments!!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 8:11 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
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Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Chapter 06

Breakfast was a noisy affair, with much conversation on the topic of Quidditch. When they’d finished, they left the Great Hall in a group, talking and laughing amongst themselves when a cold, high voice rang out.

“If it isn’t the house-elf-sized Mudblood, the blood traitor and their loyal pack dogs.”

Ember turned and found Tori Crabbe, her twin brother Vinny, Jason Goyle and Irene Nott standing in a group, a sneer on each of their faces. James, Sirius, Luke and Owen all reached for their wands in the same motion, pulling them out and holding them at their sides, ready.

Sirius, who was generally quiet and reserved, said in a deadly calm voice, “Don’t call them that.”

Tori’s laugh tinkled, and she went on, “Tsk, tsk, lads. Allowing Mudbloods and blood traitors to train you so well – what a shame.” She shook her head, and Irene cackled while repeating, “What a shame!”

James, temper stoked, bit back, “Loyal pack dog is better than half a matched set of the world’s homeliest crabs.”

While a clever play on her last name, this was an outright lie – Tori was beautiful. She had golden curls, an aristocratic nose, a thin face and hard, black eyes. It was a cold, smug beauty, but beauty nonetheless. And at James’ remark, those eyes burned with black flame.

Before she could respond, Ember spoke to her calmly, “So was there anything you wanted this afternoon, Tori?”

Riley took the opportunity to slip away to find her father, and Daisy watched as her older brother came through the doorway from the Great Hall. He made eye contact with her and nodded once, nearly imperceptibly, in her direction. Then he stepped back and leaned against the wall. Daisy knew he’d help her if it came to it, but in the meantime, he’d hang back and see how things went. Very Slytherin of him, she supposed, but she trusted him when it came down to it.

Tori fixed her piercing black eyes on Ember, then said, “You dare to speak to me, Mudblood?”

James, already incensed, pointed his wand at Tori and said, “I believe my brother told you once not to call her that. Do you have a hearing problem?”

“The hearing problem belongs to Merriweather, if I’m not mistaken.”

Sirius replied, “Then as you’re in Slytherin and not Gryffindor, I can only assume that you dare to provoke ten people out of complete and utter stupidity rather than some misplaced courage. Looks like sharing blood with that lump you call a brother has its drawbacks.”

They continued hurling insults at each other, and from behind Sirius, Gideon asked quietly, “Why are you egging her on? This is mad.”

The tension in the hall seemed high enough to Ember to make the very air hum, and as James hurled his last insult, she realized if she didn’t do something soon, someone was going to get hurt.

“I may be a ‘Mudblood-loving pillock,’ as you so succinctly put it, but be that as it may, I believe it is your father who is currently in Azkaban for war crimes, not mine,” James spat. “And as he managed to somehow communicate to you his pureblood nonsense before he went, most probably using mostly grunts and small words, I can only assume that you won’t be long in following him there. That said, I suggest you keep your wand, your hands, your fellow serpents and your thoughts off of both Daisy and Ember, or there will be more than your life’s worth to pay.”

Tori laughed, coldly and viciously, and said, “You are all going to regret the day you were born.” She raised her wand and aimed it straight at James’ heart.

Ember, not wanting to waste any more time, murmured, “A wall around us, here to there, solid and rubber and clear as air.”

“Ember, what are you doing?” hissed Gideon, who’d heard the quiet words.

She locked eyes with him, but didn’t answer and continued, “Anything meant to hurt those I hold dear bounces back to its owner, far or near. Protected from harm, all and me. As I will, so mote it be.”

Because she was looking for it, Ember caught from the corner of her eye the brief glimmer of the wall she’d conjured as it rose between the Slytherins and her friends. Reassured, she tore her gaze from Gideon’s inscrutable one and said to the guys, “Lower your wands, all of you.”

“You’re barking, Ember. I know you can’t hear well, but your eyesight is better than perfect – these gits are about to hex us, and I’ll be a hippogriff’s **** before I let it happen,” came James’ reply.

Gideon watched, a little bit awed, as her eyes glowed purple with anger at James’ statement, and he had to stifle a shiver when her voice went icy and she answered, “Fine. But if you send even the most mild curse as of now, I will refuse responsibility for what happens to you.”

Something in her voice made James falter, and without fully understanding why, he lowered his wand. The others did the same, and just as they did, each of the Slytherins tossed a different spell.

Goyle had sent a slug-eating curse, Irene had thrown a body-bind, Tori opted for tarantallegra and Vinny had shouted, “Stupefy!” All but Ember watched in shock as each of the four curses seemed to stop in midair, then flew straight back to the person who’d cast it.

Suddenly, Goyle was on his knees, retching up slugs. Irene fell to the floor with a slight thud, Tori began dancing wildly around, and Vinny crumpled to the floor, unconscious. Tori began yelling for help as Riley returned with Professor Longbottom and Headmistress McGonagall.

“What is going on here?” McGonagall asked immediately, “Who is responsible for this?”

Riley stared at the four Slytherins incredulously. Ember silently undid the wall she’d built as Gideon spoke up, “None of us did that to them. It looked very much like they cursed themselves, Professor.”

McGonagall gave him a look that clearly said he was full of something other than food. Professor Longbottom looked from his Gryffindors to the cursed Slytherins, then immediately said, “Wands. All of you.” He held out his hand, and each of the Gryffindors quickly placed their wands in it. McGonagall released the Slytherins from each of their curses and collected their wands as Professor Longbottom began testing each wand for its last spell. True to Gideon’s word, none of their wands had recently cast those spells. But sure enough, when Professor Longbottom tested the wands of the Slytherins, each showed the spell he or she had cast.

McGonagall turned toward Tori and the others and said, “All of you know better than to curse people in the halls, and as sixth-years, you ought to be showing far more responsibility than you did just now. There will be thirty points taken from Slytherin for each of you. Now get to your common room.”

“But Professor, we deserve to know what happened! One of them had to have done something to make that happen! Why should we be punished…” Tori protested, cutting off at the McGonagall’s glare.

“Shall I be adding detentions to the loss of points?”

Tori shot the headmistress a look of deepest loathing, then turned on her heel and stalked off toward the dungeons, the others following in her wake. Once they’d gone, McGonagall turned back toward the Gryffindors.

Raising an eyebrow, she said, “I am quite certain that none of those students cursed themselves, just as I am certain that none of you retaliated. I cannot take points from you or punish you for something you did not do. But I am interested to know exactly how those curses rebounded on them, as none of you performed even a shield charm.”

No one answered her. Gideon shifted a little closer to Ember, but no one dared to look at her, as it would have given her away. None of them knew what exactly she’d done, but she’d been the only one who was unsurprised at what had happened. However, as her shield and her insistence they lower their wands had kept them out of trouble, they were going to protect her.

Not receiving a response, McGonagall said, “All right, then. But please, when you are ready, I would like to know what happened.” She looked directly at Ember for a moment, then turned on her heel and marched out of the hall. Professor Longbottom stayed and watched them for a minute, then handed their wands back to them and said, “Whatever happened here, I am pleased that none of you got into it. Five points to each of you for showing responsibility and maturity – even if it was at the advice of another.”

Then he, too, turned and left the corridor. Other students who’d seen the whole thing began dissipating, and once the hall was empty, all of them turned to Ember.

“What did you do?” asked Sarah, still a little awed. Ember shrugged and said nonchalantly, “My parents are Wiccan.”

“But Ember, you don’t believe in Wicca,” Owen reminded her.

“No. But I AM a witch. I’ve always had the ability. It’s just that I learned to control it in a way that’s different from how it’s used in the wizarding world. The only difference is that I didn’t know I was an actual witch until I received my letter when I was ten.”

She turned and headed for the common room, and Andie was the first to follow. “So you could do it before you came here, then?”

“Yes. But I didn’t know why. I didn’t believe that Wiccans had magic, but here I could say the words and stuff happened. The first thing I ever did intentionally was when I was four years old. My mum said a short spell, then had me repeat it. It didn’t work for her, but oh, was she delighted when it worked for me.”

“What was the spell?” This came from Riley, who was still digesting what she’d seen.

“It was something to make a dying flower bloom again.”

“Gillyweed,” said Gideon, and they all climbed through the portrait hole as he asked, “So how come we never knew you could do that? And why does it work in the castle?”

They settled themselves around the fire and Ember tucked herself into a corner of the sofa. She was quiet for a moment, trying to think it through before answering, “I don’t know why it works in the castle. It always has. And no one knew because I’ve never tried anything that big or strong here at school. Usually it’s just little things, like my makeup or playing music, or a bit of a breeze on a hot day in Hogsmeade. I never intended to do more.”

They all sat in silence, digesting what she’d said, and she leaned her head back, closing her eyes and replaying what she’d done, what she’d said. James watched her closely, then asked the question that was foremost in his mind.

“So you can do magic when you’re at home?”

He watched as her eyes opened and trained on his, and she answered after a moment, “Yes – in a manner of speaking.”

Luke was the first to ask the obvious question, “But you’re underage! Doesn’t that violate the Restriction for Underage Wizardry? You’d be expelled!”

She didn’t answer at first, searching for the best way to explain her theory. Then finally, she said slowly, “I don’t think it’s the same. Underneath it all, it’s magic. But the words I use and the types of things I do at home are fundamentally different from what we do and learn here.”

Owen scratched his head, his face mirroring everyone else’s, and Riley asked, “What?”

Ember laughed and continued, “Here, we learn to use specific phrases, and we do things like conjure objects and banish items and charm things to do stuff they normally don’t. At home, I use whatever words come to mind, generally spoken in rhyme, and use it as an enhancement of life, rather than a changing from one thing to another. It’s how I’ve always done my makeup, for instance. Or gave us a cool breeze on a hot day.”

“So you can do wandless magic then,” Daisy said. It was the first time she’d spoken, and Ember looked at her, surprised.

“No. I can’t do it in this context. I can’t flick my wrist and say ‘ventularo.’”

Everyone paused, waiting to feel a breeze. When it didn’t come, Ember said, “But I can still stir the air. Light and gentle, brief and sweet, a breeze to cool us, heads to feet. Dissipate, quick as can be. As I will, so mote it be.”

And they all gave a jump when a cool breath of air swept over them, then disappeared as quickly as it came. Ember laughed, then said, “None of you ever jumped like that before when I’ve done that.” And when they looked at her incredulously, she said, “Although I suppose we weren’t inside those times, yeah?”

Gideon looked at her for a moment before answering, “None of us ever heard you say that outside.”

“I don’t have to say it out loud for it to work.” And as soon as she’d finished her sentence, the breeze ruffled their hair once more, making them all jump yet again.

James recovered first, and asked, “So if it’s that simple, why didn’t you just tell McGonagall what happened when she asked?”

Sirius leaned back in his seat and answered, “She doesn’t want anyone to find a way to keep her from doing it. Right?” He looked at Ember, who nodded.

“It’s been a way of life for me since my mum first made me repeat that spell – it’d be like cutting off an arm, or losing the sound in my other ear.”

No one said anything until Sarah shifted in her seat. Looking Ember straight in the eye, she asked calmly, “Can you teach us how to do it?”

“I – what? What do you mean, teach you?”

Owen, picking up on Sarah’s train of thought, answered, “Well, you don’t believe in Wicca, but you think the fact that you’re a ‘real’ witch is why they work for you. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t they work for us?”

“And honestly,” Sarah added, “It would be handy to be able to protect ourselves like you just did, especially if for whatever reason one of us loses our wand to one of those dodgy gits sometime.”

“Not to mention the fact that not getting into trouble like that was brilliant.” This came from Luke, and for the first time, the entire group laughed out loud, taking a few minutes to marvel over the complete havoc the rest of Slytherin house must be in by now.

When they’d quieted again, Andie said, “So will you teach us?”

Ember shrugged, then said, “I’ll try. But I can’t guarantee results. If you lot can’t do it, I won’t know what to do about it.”

Gideon smiled then. “Trying is enough for now.”


So there was Chapter 06. Not entirely thrilled, but happier than I was with Chapter 04. Please, tell me what you think!!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; August 22nd, 2006 at 8:14 am.
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Old August 30th, 2006, 6:02 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
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Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Okay y'all - not that too many people were exactly begging for it, but here's chapter seven. Let me know what you think!

Chapter 07

From his chair near the fire, Frank Longbottom kept an eye on the Ravenclaw common room - and its occupants. Frank was Head Boy this year, and sincerely hoped he'd be able to do a good job.

In the corner of the room, Jessie and Nina were entertaining some of the first- and second-years with jokes and gags they'd learned or gotten from their Uncles Fred and George. Quite honestly, Frank was under the impression that much of what those girls did came from their own brains - which were scarily abundant as it was.

Last term, they'd managed to perfect a potion they'd created. Jessie, being more bold, had sneaked it into Filch's evening goblet of pumpkin juice, and when the cranky old caretaker took a sip, he'd turned into a mouse with a great bang of smoke and been chased out of the Great Hall by his own cat.

Nina was a prefect this year, but even so, he sent a prayer to whoever might be listening that there'd be some higher sense of responsibility. He wasn't about to hold his breath on that one, though; he'd known them since he was nearly three years old. And his first experience at their grubby, mischievous little hands had come along when they were two. They'd turned him into a chicken.

Nina had been upset when Frank chose to play with Emma instead of with Jessie and herself. So Jessie, already stealthy and smart, managed to sneak into Fred and George's old room at the Burrow, found one of their old trick wands, and left it where Frank would be sure to find it.

Since then, he'd always watched them like a hawk. As brilliant as they were, he didn't trust them any further than he could apparate within the school. He figured the students they were currently entertaining would figure it out for themselves soon enough. And if they didn’t, then Frank wouldn’t hesitate to rat the twins out to their mother. Not even Rowena Ravenclaw herself would stand up for those girls if Hermione was on the warpath.

His eyes continued around the room. Jigz Thomas, his star chaser, was already curled up in her favorite armchair with a huge book. The girl was quiet, but intense. And she could knock out four goals in three minutes.

His thoughts turned to Quidditch, then. He needed a Keeper this year as well as two chasers. With any luck, he’d find Chasers compatible with Jigz and a Keeper who could Keep. He lost himself in plays and tricks, only shaking himself out of it when someone slid into his lap and kissed him.

Emma grinned at the look on Frank’s face and asked, “Where were you?”

Frank smiled and replied, “On the Quidditch pitch.”

Emma rolled her eyes – she had her father’s fair disinterest for Quidditch. But even so, she knew it was a big deal for those who did like it. “Should’ve guessed,” she answered, “So what do you think? Ready for classes to start tomorrow?”

He sighed. “Ready as I’ll ever be. You?”

“Are you kidding? I’m not the daughter of Percy and Penelope Weasley for nothing. Bring it on, I’m ready.”

Frank laughed then, saying, “That’s my girl.”

From across the room, Jessie leaned over to Nina and said, “Look at them – you’d never know she was Uncle Percy’s daughter. Think he’d have a fit if he could see her right now?”

Nina said, “He knows they’ve been dating for two years, Jess,” but giggled anyway. It was amusing to see prim-and-proper Emma, the epitome of what Uncle Percy felt was “good upbringing,” sitting in her boyfriend’s lap and laughing.

Actually, Emma had always been pretty great. She had her father’s love of rules and excellent study habits, but she was down-to-earth and approachable, like her mother. Nina and Jessie had always gotten along with her, more so since they were all in Ravenclaw together.

Nina watched her friends for another minute before turning back toward her sister. Of the two of them, Jessie was the live wire. If there was something amiss in the castle, chances were good she and Jessie had something to do with it. But if it was something big, with a capital B, then chances were equally good that it had started with Jessie.

Which, she supposed, was why she’d gotten the prefect badge and Jessie had not. Jessie, of course, was thrilled that she hadn’t received the honor, much to their mother’s horror. Jessie had brains and used them very well, but she had little to no time for petty things like rules and regulations. That was Nina’s half of their connection, hence the badge. Oh, how Fred and George had teased her for it. But she knew they were proud of her, if a little aghast that she was, in fact, a prefect.

They were more pleased with her abilities in potion-making…she’d earned a good deal of money from them this summer, working in their lab at their main shop in Diagon Alley. Mum hadn’t wanted to let her and Jessie work there, but had given in when they’d sat down and listed all the reasons it would be a good idea. Jessie had worked the front of the store, talking nearly everyone who’d entered into buying more than they’d planned on. Fred had nearly cried when they’d had to stop working to go back to school.

And Nina had spent the majority of her time in the lab upstairs from the shop, brewing potions for the various products and even concocting a few of her own. Aunt Luna had helped her with a few of them – Uncle George’s wife was brilliant once you got beneath the layers of dreaminess and the tendency to say odd things.

Even so, Mum had made them quit a week before school started. They’d used the week to finish up their summer assignments and to spend some time with their family. And it was well spent, Nina thought. She felt rested and ready for classes to begin. She knew Jessie did, too, but would never admit it.

Grinning to herself, she jumped back into the conversation her twin had been having with some first-years, intending to enjoy these last few hours of freedom.


In the Slytherin common room, Lily Potter sat in the middle of the room in an easy chair, chatting with her friends. She was thrilled to be back at school again, even though it meant she was separated from her entire family. She was the only member of the massive, sprawling Weasley clan ever to have been sorted into Slytherin.

Which, of course, wouldn’t have been so bad, on the whole. There was just the minor detail that her father was Harry Potter, savior of the entire wizarding world, the downfall of the worst dark wizard in the last four millennia. Not to mention the fact that he and her Uncle Ron, between them, had sent to Azkaban the fathers of quite a few of her housemates.

Nevertheless, Lily felt comfortable here. She loved her family and got along with them all just fine, but felt just as at home here at Hogwarts, down in the dungeons with her friends. Melissa Crabbe sat to her left, using her hands while she spoke and described how her summer holidays had gone. On her right was Crissy Malfoy, who was avidly watching her older brother, Lucius, across the room.

Melissa, realizing neither of her friends was listening to her, followed Crissy’s gaze, asking quietly, “What’s going on?”

Lily murmured, “Looks like your sister is trying to make a move on Crissy’s brother again.”

At this, Crissy snickered and said, “She won’t get far…this ought to be interesting.”

For being from stuck-up, pureblood parents, the Malfoy children were all very close. Even Daisy, who'd somehow ended up sorted into Gryffindor, was close to her siblings. And both his sisters knew just how much Lucius disliked Tori Crabbe.

All three girls watched from between their lashes – they’d learned firsthand what happened when Tori was angry and embarrassed on top of it. Their first year, Tori had been rebuffed by Braeden Randall, who’d been a fifth year Slytherin, like Lucius. Braeden had informed her, in the middle of the corridor, that she wouldn’t have a chance with him if she were the last female on the planet.

When she caught the three of them staring, Tori had sent both Lily and Melissa to the hospital wing. Melissa had ended up with her eyes glued shut and Lily had been the victim of a face full of oozing boils. Crissy had been spared only because she was Lucius’ sister, but had received an earful.

Tori had already been on a tear over what had happened in the corridor this morning with a bunch of the Gryffindors, so no one was daring to even breathe wrong when she was near. Knowing this, the girls watched and listened, drinking in every detail so they could laugh about it later together in their dorm.

Seeing Lucius in his favorite chair near the fire, Tori’s eyes sharpened. She had her sights set on him this year, and she fully intended to have him before the year was out. She knew her father would approve, and she also knew Lucius’ father approved. It was convincing Lucius that might be the issue.

Either way, now seemed as good a time as any, and she needed to do something to get her mind off that Mudblood bint and the morning’s events. Losing a hundred and twenty points like that was unacceptable, especially as classes hadn’t even begun yet. She’d get back at Merriweather, and every last one of her friends, too. But for now, she needed a distraction.

And Lucius Malfoy had been elected.

Leaving Irene with Vinny and Jason, Tori sashayed across the common room, sliding a hand across the back of Lucius’ neck as she stepped behind his chair. Once she’d gone around it, she sat in his lap and planted her mouth on his, deciding it was best in terms of shock value. After all, she wanted him to know what her intentions were so he could get used to the idea.

Her brain gave a shout of triumph as she felt his mouth give way under hers. And just as suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in her hip and found herself on the floor. Craning her neck, she saw Lucius disappearing up the stairs to the boys’ dorms, Jesse and Braeden close on his heels. And then she saw red.

Through the haze of anger, Tori scrambled to her feet as gracefully as she could manage, then looked around the common room. Irene was already heading for the girls’ dorm. Vinny and Jason had disappeared entirely, wisely removing themselves from the line of fire. Her little sister and her two friends were all focused on a book, pointing out various things.

Everyone else was quiet or keeping their eyes averted, and letting out a scream of frustration, Tori shot red sparks out of her wand toward the ceiling and stomped down the stairs to her dorm.

How dare he? Tori didn’t know what the hell had just happened, but it was not what she’d planned on. And he was going to hear about, she’d make certain of it.

No one made Victoria Crabbe out to be a fool and got away with it. No one.


Bet you can't click just once!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 22nd, 2007 at 2:48 am.
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Old September 9th, 2006, 8:40 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
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Joined: 5150 days
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Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Okee, here y'all go.

Chapter 08

The first day of classes dawned black and stormy. The wind was whistling outside, and a particularly loud crash of thunder unceremoniously introduced Lucius Malfoy to his hard, cold dorm floor.

He lay there a moment, shocked into wakefulness, then fought a small battle to untangle himself from his blankets. A glare from beneath hooded lids silenced his s******ing friends, and he tossed the blankets onto his bed along with his pajama top and a few unintelligible curses.

Lucius Draco Malfoy was not a morning person.

Fifteen minutes later, showered and dressed and feeling marginally better, he made his way up to breakfast. He had narrowly avoided that Crabbe cow in the common room, barely scraping out of there by the skin of his teeth.

Tori had been chasing him shamelessly for nearly a year, but last night she’d been bolder than ever. His first instinct had been to kiss her back – he was a man, after all, and not immune to the basest of pleasures. His brain, however, had kicked on a moment later, and he’d abruptly dumped her onto the floor and left without a word. Needless to say, she was not happy about it.

His father, of course, approved of her. Draco Malfoy approved of anyone with a “pure” bloodline, and Tori was one of his best friend’s daughters. He’d like nothing better than to see Lucius marry her and produce an heir or two. But while his father was pretentious enough to latch onto the idea of it, Lucius was not.

Sighing, he took himself into the Great Hall and sat down, pulling a plate of toast toward himself and spreading some jam on a piece. As Braeden and Jesse joined him at the table, he began to eat slowly, allowing his eyes to wander.

They landed first on the staff table, locking on Slughorn. Leaning across the table toward his friends, Lucius said quietly, “Do you suppose that old gossip queen will ever leave?”

Jesse laughed, and Braeden said, “I actually heard he’s planning on retiring after this year. Don’t you want his job?”

Lucius nodded, looking thoughtful. He’d always done exceptionally well in Potions, and could think of nothing he’d rather do after Hogwarts than to teach it himself. Slughorn had always seemed perfectly content to stay right where he was with all his “connections” and his Slug Club meetings, so Lucius had never thought it would be something he could have so soon.

He’d have to bring it up to Slughorn sometime this year – maybe Slughorn would put in a good word for him with McGonagall. With that thought in mind, he began putting together lesson plans unconsciously as he went back to eating his breakfast. He was jolted out of his thoughts when he heard Jesse’s voice.

“So what do you suppose my chances are if I ask her to the Yule Ball?”

Looking round behind him, Lucius caught sight of Hero Harper, Jesse’s latest interest in the female population. Hero was a seventh-year Hufflepuff, and as kind-hearted as they came. He’d gotten to know her in his Muggle Studies class last year, and also knew she was rather keen on Jesse, as well.

Shrugging, Lucius answered, “Can’t hurt to ask, mate.”

“You’re one to talk, Lucius,” came Jesse’s reply, “Can’t get near the girl you like without ruffling her feathers. Not to mention your father would probably dig your heart out with a dull spoon if he found out you held a torch for a Weasley.”

“Shut it, Avery.” It wasn’t that he was afraid to talk to her, nor was it about the fact that all he managed to do, for the most part, was infuriate her. No, it was more about his father, and what Draco might do if he discovered the girl his only son was interested in happened to be Elisa Weasley. Never mind that she was as pureblooded as Draco demanded – the fact that her surname happened to be ‘Weasley’ was enough to condemn her in Draco’s book.

Regardless, Lucius couldn’t help catching her eye as she entered the Great Hall, and he smirked at her, as he always did. And as usual, she gave him a look of utter disdain, stuck her perfect nose in the air, and made her way over to the Gryffindor table with her best friend, Lysandra Masters.

Lysandra watched the two of them irk each other without a word spoken between them, and shaking her head in exasperation said, “Elisa, it’s the first bloody day of classes, and you haven’t even exchanged one word with him yet!”

“Who needs to exchange words when looks will do?” came the response, and Lysandra laughed. All either of them ever did was snipe at the other, but she knew with Elisa, it was just the veneer she wore to cover the attraction.

And without hearing it straight from Lucius, she couldn’t be one hundred percent positive, but what she could see in her crystal ball in Divination gave her a nearly certain knowledge that he felt the same way Elisa did. Now if only the ball would show her what she wanted to see regarding one Braeden Randall, Lysandra figured she’d be all set.


Humming a tune to herself, Ember ate her toast and watched the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall as the lightning speared across it and the rain pounded down, offering thanks to whomever was listening that she didn’t have to leave the castle for any of today’s classes.

On the same wavelength, James leaned over toward her and said, “Am I ever glad we don’t have Care of Magical creatures today, yeah?”

Grinning, she met his gaze, and sharing the same thought, they both smirked at the rest of their friends, all of whom had Herbology first thing this morning. Sweetly, Ember said, “You lot had better get going, or you’ll be late.”

James laughed out loud as the grumbles began, then let out a loud, “Ooof!” when Luke’s elbow found its way into his ribcage. He watched the six of them leave, heaving their bags over their shoulders and heading out toward the greenhouses, then turned back to Ember.

She had stood up and was gathering her bag, and he asked, “Where are you headed?” He didn’t have class until ten, when they all had Transfiguration, and he knew Ember didn’t, either.

Ember smiled and replied, “I thought I’d head up to the library, do some reading. How about you?”

“I was going to head back up to the common room, since I have two hours to waste away.” He got up then and headed out of the hall with her. As they climbed the stairs, he had an idea.

“Why don’t you come back to the common room with me? You can tell me more about how you put that wall up yesterday.”

She looked up at him, an eyebrow raised. “It wasn’t anything more than what I’ve already explained, James.” Without knowing quite how he’d maneuvered her into it, she found herself climbing through the portrait hole with him instead of going to the library as she’d planned. Giving it up as a lost cause, she settled herself in her favorite armchair near the fire.

He watched her sink into the oversize chair. Merlin, it practically swallowed her – and there was room enough left for another person to sit comfortably beside her. Come to think of it, one of them usually did share it. No wonder he’d noticed how she looked in it alone.

Shaking himself back to the topic at hand, he asked, “So if it’s as simple as rhyming a few words to make something happen, any one of us ought to be able to do it? For instance, I could trip Gideon just by making up a rhyme that says so. Is that right?”

“I don’t know if it’s going to be that easy, nor should it ever be used to harm. I don’t believe in Wicca, per se, but the tenets are similar to, say, the difference between what we learn here and the Dark Arts. ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’ Using it to protect is one thing, but to deliberately cause another harm is equivalent to using an Unforgivable.” Ember said.

“So no cursing the Slytherins with it?”

“Absolutely not. If you’re going to do that, I’m not going to bother trying to teach you. It’s, for the most part, like the Golden Rule. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Do you understand?”

“I get it. And you said yesterday that when you use it, you generally speak in rhyme. How come?”

Surprised that he’d remembered, Ember answered, “It’s just part of the Wiccan Rede. ‘To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.’ I suppose you don’t have to use rhyme, but it’s never worked for me without it. There are several various interpretations of Wicca – I generally stick to the points my parents taught me.”

He looked at her, suddenly unsure of himself. He’d never been the most articulate person on the planet, and now she wanted him to make up a spell. One that rhymed, for Godric’s sake. Drawing a blank, he asked, “So what should I do? What’s a good practice spell to do?”

Ember shrugged, then said, “Try a breeze, like I did yesterday.”

At his still-blank look, she laughed and took pity on him. She gave him the words she’d used, and he repeated them. And when a breeze swept through the room, it startled the both of them.

“It worked!” James exclaimed, “Let me do it again!” So he did it again, on his own this time, and the air shifted once more. He laughed, pleased with himself, and Ember smiled. She hadn’t thought it would be so easy as this – would they all really be able to do it?

Well, James might have a bit of trouble, and Luke too. Both of them were far more physical than anything, and neither had an easy time finding words. By that scale, Gideon and Sirius would probably pick it up the easiest, with Riley and Owen close behind.

Regardless, she hoped they’d each be able to do enough to protect themselves, should the need arise. Knowing Tori the way they did, Ember felt sure she’d be planning something awful, and soon. It’d be a good idea to keep an eye open, at least until the others could protect themselves.

They passed the remainder of their time trying different spells, with Ember giving James the words he needed to make them work. She hoped that if it came down to it, however, he’d be able to come up with the words he needed on his own.

Before they knew it, it was time to head down to Transfiguration, where they met their friends. They had double periods today in Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Potions. Transfiguration went quickly enough – all Professor Stanwick did was go over the end of last term with them to review.

Professor Cortland launched straight into new material in DADA, which happened to be nonverbal spells. He set them an essay on nonverbal spells and their uses, and the remainder of class was used to practice, where James and Gideon and Luke promptly put on a show for everyone – they’d been taught by their fathers long ago how to use nonverbal spells.

When they’d finished, they all traipsed off to Potions. There were a number of students who’d gotten the required grade to take NEWT-level Potions with Professor Slughorn. All eight of the Gryffindor sixth-years, four of the Slytherins, four Ravenclaws and two Hufflepuffs had queued up outside the classroom door, then took seats when Professor Slughorn opened the door.

Bubbling on three different tables were three different cauldrons, filling the room with all sorts of scents and sounds. Ember, Sarah, Andie and Riley took a seat around a table that had simply wonderful smells wafting from it. Ember leaned over the potion simmering and breathed it in – and suddenly felt like she’d downed a few too many firewhiskeys. Shaking her head in an attempt to clear it, she sat down, and said to Sarah, “Doesn’t that smell great?”

Sarah grinned lazily at her and nodded, and they both turned as Professor Slughorn began class. “Everyone have their copies of Advanced Potion-Making out? Scales and kits, too? Good, good. Now, what I’ve got brewing here are just some of the things you ought to be able to brew after NEWT-level courses.”

Everyone began craning their necks, peering into the cauldrons as best they could. Slughorn pointed to the cauldron on the Hufflepuff table and asked if anyone could tell him what was in it. Ember stayed put – she knew she had no earthly idea. Unsurprisingly, Gideon’s hand was the first in the air.

“It’s Polyjuice Potion. It turns the drinker into someone else,” he said.

“Excellent, Weasley, ten points to Gryffindor.” Slughorn smiled and indicated the next cauldron, bubbling away near the Ravenclaws. “How about this one?”

Again, Gideon was the first to answer, “It’s Veritaserum, and it causes the drinker to tell the truth.”

“Another ten points, Weasley,” Slughorn chuckled. Andie and Riley snickered and rolled their eyes, and James and Luke and Owen all ribbed Gideon good-naturedly as Slughorn waddled over to where the girls were seated.

“And this one…” he cut off, eyeing the girls, and finally said loudly with no small amount of surprise, “Merriweather, whatever are you doing here?”

A shout of laughter rang from the back of the room, where Tori sat with her friends, and Ember glared at Slughorn, then retorted, “I’m taking your class, Professor.”

His eyes narrowed. “I see that – what I’m curious to know is why? You didn’t actually pass your OWL, did you?”

This time the laughter spread to the Ravenclaw table, and Ember felt her temper rising. She’d barely scraped her “E” in her Potions OWL. How she’d done it, she wasn’t sure. Her practical had failed spectacularly when her Draught of Peace, rather than being a silver mist when finished, instead bubbled bright neon-green over the edge of her cauldron, caught fire and exploded, causing the eyebrows of her examiner to burn completely off.

Her theory hadn’t gone much better, but she must have gotten something right on it, because here she was with an “Exceeds Expectations.” And now she was being questioned about it, and was less than pleased. Ember prided herself on being versatile and able to do just about anything. The fact that she was utter rubbish at Potions rankled and she didn’t take criticism about it well.

And when her temper was up, it was time to watch out, although Slughorn didn’t seem to be aware of this. “You managed to exceed expectations? Miss Merriweather, you exploded not only your potion and the cauldron it was brewing in, you burned off Professor Marchbanks’ eyebrows!”

Snickers could now be heard from the Hufflepuffs, and even Luke and James and Owen were grinning. Gideon fought hard against the smile – he knew Ember was going to blow her stack soon. Back at the Slytherin table, Tori was in tears, shaking with laughter. Irene was giggling madly beside her, and both were pointing at Ember.

Ember’s glare had gone from irritated to deadly, and she answered in a cold, quiet voice, “Obviously I passed it, or I wouldn’t be here.”

Slughorn sighed, then said, “Very well. We’ll see how long you last. Can you tell me what you smell in this cauldron?” He indicated the one in front of her, and Ember said, “Yes, I smell freshly baking bread, crisp winter air, and…”

She cut off. She’d almost said she smelled James, and Merlin help her, she’d rather die first. Slughorn prompted, “Yes?”

“Well, sir, sunshine,” she amended, and Slughorn raised an eyebrow, then said, “And what is this potion called?”

Her eyes narrowed, but she was saved from answering by Gideon, who’d again lifted his hand. “It’s Amortentia, sir, and smells differently to each of us according to what attracts us.”

“Exactly. Amortentia is love potion. It doesn’t create love where there is none, but will produce powerful infatuation or obsession. Ten more points to Gryffindor, Weasley.

“Now today, we’ll be doing the Draught of Living Death. You’ll find the instructions beginning on page 43 in your books, and we’ve nearly ninety minutes left. The best potion at the end of class gets some of this.” He gestured to a small cauldron sitting on his desk, and pulled a tiny glass tube from his pocket filled with golden liquid that matched that in the small cauldron.

“Does anyone know what this is?” he asked, chuckling again when Gideon blurted out, “It’s Felix Felicis, sir.”

Slughorn shook his head. “And take twenty more points for Gryffindor, Weasley – you’re so like your mother, it’s nearly unnerving. You’re right, this is liquid luck, and the best potion this afternoon wins this, enough for twelve hours of luck, so get busy, everyone!”

Ember growled low in her throat, knowing she’d have no chance at it, then began following the instructions in her book. Thirty minutes later, when Gideon’s potion was five beautiful shades lighter than Ember’s eyes, and everyone else’s potions fell somewhere in between, Ember’s potion was glowing orange and shooting sparks over the edge of the cauldron.

Slughorn, praising Gideon and his perfect potion with another twenty points to Gryffindor and the small tube of golden luck, caught sight of Ember’s out of the corner of his eye and turned around abruptly. “Miss Merriweather,” he began, “Have you any idea what you were doing?”

Sullenly, Ember shook her head, doing her best to ignore the s******ing from the Slytherins behind her. Slughorn sighed again, and with a wave of his wand, vanished the contents of her cauldron. “How you passed that theory, I will never know. Did you just guess at everything?”

Ember’s eyes closed to slits, and she didn’t say anything, knowing she’d curse him soon. He went on, walking toward the Hufflepuffs and continuing, “You’ll never make it in this class, Miss Merriweather, and…”

He broke off suddenly because at that point, the cauldron full of Polyjuice Potion on the Hufflepuff table leapt nimbly into the air and hurled its entire contents straight down the front of Slughorn’s robes.

He stood there for a moment, shocked into speechlessness, then asked loudly, “Who did this?” Before anyone could look around to see, Tori slid her wand away quickly and piped up, “Sir, I just saw Merriweather do it.”

Ember’s eyes widened in shock, but before she could set the record straight, Slughorn had turned to her and said, “Excellent. Miss Merriweather, I’ll not dock you points or give you detention for this. I’m kicking you out of this class. You may gather your things and leave now.”

WHAT?!” The word exploded past Ember’s lips, and she went on angrily, “I didn’t do that, you great, prissy oaf! Tori’s only looking for revenge, and you’re looking for a way to boot me out of here!”

Slughorn stared at her dispassionately, and then said, “Now I’ll take five points from you. Name-calling is a juvenile thing to do, Miss Merriweather. You would do well to remember it. Please leave.”

No one said a word, and the only sound that could be heard was Tori and Irene sobbing with laughter. Suddenly there was a loud, “BANG!” as the professor’s desk crashed to the floor. The legs holding it had vanished, and then the entire remaining slab burst into flame when a bolt of lightning struck it from seemingly nowhere. The small cauldron full of Felix Felicis had spilled across the floor, with only enough remaining in the bottom for one more small tube like the one Slughorn had awarded to Gideon.

With a malevolent look aimed at Tori, Ember heaved her scales and potion book with perfect aim into the burning mass, then snatched her bag up and stormed toward the back of the room. In the doorway she turned around, and with words running through her mind, watched as the cauldron full of Veritaserum lifted suddenly off the table near the Ravenclaws, then emptied itself full in Tori’s face.

Tori sputtered and choked, inadvertently swallowing some of it, and as the class watched in shock, Ember said to her in an overly sweet voice, “Tori, who levitated that cauldron and dumped it all over the esteemed Professor?”

Tori, under the effects of the Veritaserum, said in a monotone voice, “I did.”

“That’s what I thought,” Ember replied, then she turned to Slughorn and said, “Perhaps you ought to get your facts straight before jumping to act on what you were told. The members of your house, especially this brainless bint, are deplorable excuses for human beings, and to trust them blindly just because you need an excuse to do what you want makes you a git of the lowest order.”

There were several gasps around the room, and while Slughorn could only stare, Ember heard Andie admonish, “Ember!” Ignoring her, Ember finished, “I’m rubbish at Potions, but I was always more than willing to try. I leave your class now, as you wish, Professor, but I leave it knowing that while my best wasn’t quite good enough, at least I never lied to get someone else in trouble, nor did I behave in a manner reminiscent of first-years. When I called you a great, prissy oaf, it was not name-calling, as you seem inclined to believe, but only the truth.”

She heard Gideon say in a low warning voice, “December Skye Merriweather!” but she ignored it to give her final, parting shot.

“You can keep your rotten Potions class, Professor. You deserve it. Good luck putting out that fire – not even your precious Felix Felicis will help you there.” And with that, she turned on her heel and left the room, slamming the door as hard as she could manage.

No one spoke for a full minute, and then without a word, Gideon sighed and began to siphon the Veritaserum off Tori and those around her. Slughorn shook himself, reminding Andie of a dog stepping out of the water, and he turned to her and asked, “Miss Lupin, would you mind helping me, please?”

Andie quickly picked up the wand he’d dropped and handed it to him, then began putting her things away as he cleaned himself up and began to clean up the area around his still-flaming desk. She was worried about Ember – she’d never seen her so infuriated before, nor had she ever heard such a scathing speech in her life. And to a teacher, no less!

Even so, she knew Ember had to be hurting. Tori had been rotten, and then to be kicked out for something that wasn’t even her fault was terrible, especially for someone like Ember, who had an insatiable need to be good at everything.

Okay, so she really was horrible at Potions. No one, not even Ember herself, had been sure how she’d managed to pass the Potions OWL. But she had, which meant that Ember would push to take the class. And on the first day, she’d been criticized, falsely accused, and had gotten downright scary in retaliation.

Andie caught Riley and Sarah’s eyes, and they nodded, on the same page. They’d check on her together, right away before dinner, and they left the room.

Professor Slughorn quickly and stealthily bottled and corked the remaining Felix potion, then began collecting the samples of the other student’s potions. As the class filed out, he turned toward his desk. He tried everything he could think of to put out the fire, but to no avail. It burned on, strong and hot as it started, no matter what he tried. He scratched his head. What had that girl done? Nothing’s working…how could she do this with no spell and no wand?

Slughorn hated to admit it, but he was going to have to get the Headmistress’ help. And explain what had happened, too, he supposed.


Ember had stormed all the way up to Gryffindor tower, through the portrait hole, up the stairs and into the topmost girls’ dormitory. She was so angry she could hardly see straight, but once there, she began hurling the items in her potions kit around the room, smashing the tiny containers on the walls, emptying the ingredients in a pile in the center of the room, and then lighting them on fire and containing it to the small circle where it currently burned.

When the box was empty, she stamped down on it, splintering it into kindling and tossing it onto the small bonfire. And when that was done, she crawled into her bed, pulled the curtains closed, and imperturbed the whole thing. She was so bubbling angry, she couldn’t even cry – she hadn’t yet reached that point; she knew her friends would be worried, but at this point, she didn’t much care. So she stripped her clothes off, climbed under her covers and went to sleep.

Opening the door carefully, Andie stepped into the dorm room, and Riley and Sarah followed her. All three of them stopped dead in their tracks, staring at the room. It looked as though the place had been ransacked. Various liquids dripped down the walls, glass lay shattered along the floor, and a small fire was blazing in the center of the room.

“What did she do?” Riley asked, jaw still slack.

“I’d say she destroyed her potion kit, and everything in it,” Sarah replied, toeing aside a shard of glass and stepping over a small amount of what appeared to be moonstone powder. Taking out her wand, she began to clean the room, and Riley quickly began helping as Andie went over to Ember’s bed.

“Ember, I know you’re in there,” she said. When there was no response, Andie tried to open the curtains, but got nowhere – they were closed good and tight. Turning to her friends, she said, “She must have imperturbed them. She won’t be coming out for a while.”

“Do you suppose we ought to go down for dinner?” Riley asked.

“Yeah – she won’t be going anywhere,” Andie replied.

So the girls finished cleaning, leaving Ember’s fire where it was when they couldn’t find a way to put it out, and they headed down to dinner. The boys were there waiting, and Andie quickly filled them in.

“She destroyed your room?” Luke asked incredulously, “Wow. And a fire you can’t put out. How do you suppose she did that?”

“Don’t know,” Andie replied, “But she imperturbed her bed hangings, so chances are good she won’t be emerging any time soon.”

Concerned, Gideon swore, then said to James, “Call Dobby? I want someone to bring her some dinner, at least.”

James snickered, and said, “I should probably not tell your mum that you asked me to exploit our house elf, yeah?”

“Shut it, Cuz, and call him. And yeah, keep my mum out of this – order Dobby to do the same, if you don’t mind.”

All of them shared a laugh – Hermione headed the S.P.E.W. division of the Ministry of Magic in addition to her position in Experimental Charms and Spells, and would have an entire litter of kittens if she knew her own son was using a house elf the way Gideon was asking James to do.

“Dobby?” James asked to no one in particular, and with a snap, Dobby appeared. He was wearing a pair of small boys’ shorts, a Weird Sisters t-shirt, one sock with cups of tea embroidered on it and another with purple and green stripes. On his head was perched a badly knitted hat.

“Young James called Dobby, sir?”

James laughed and said, “I did, Dobby. Gideon asked me to. Will you help us out with something?”

Dobby bounced up and down, his head bobbling like a toy, and he said, “Oh, Dobby would be most honored, Young James!” He then turned to Gideon and asked, “What does Gideon Wheezy want Dobby to do?”

Gideon grinned and said, “Dobby, do you know who Ember is?”

Dobby nodded again excitedly and said, “Yes! Dobby knows Miss December, she is small like Dobby, sir, and very kind!”

“Well, Ember’s had a very bad afternoon, and she’s upset and locked herself in her dorm. If it isn’t too much trouble, would you mind maybe taking some food up to her in a little while? She’s imperturbed her bed hangings, so no one can get in or talk to her or anything. I want to be sure she has food.”

Still bouncing on the tips of his toes, Dobby gave a little wriggle and said, “Dobby would be delighted! I’ll go make her favorite food and bring it to her, Gideon Wheezy!”

“Thank you, Dobby, I really appreciate it.”

James caught Dobby before he disappeared again and said, “Dobby? Please don’t tell Aunt Hermione we asked you to do this, okay?”

“No, Young James, Dobby will not tell Mrs. Wheezy,” came the solemn answer, and he disappeared then. The group of them laughed, draining some of the tension, then began to eat their dinner.

Andie hoped Dobby had better luck in getting to Ember than she had. Hopefully she’d come out before bedtime, but Andie wasn’t counting on it; it looked like it was going to be a long evening. She sighed, and Gideon slipped an arm around her waist and gave her a gentle squeeze.

“She’ll be all right. We’ll talk to her later,” he murmured, brushing his lips gently against her ear as he did so. Andie smiled and turned her head, meeting his mouth with hers for a brief kiss, then pulling away again to finish her food.




Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 22nd, 2007 at 3:25 am.
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Old September 20th, 2006, 4:35 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
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Re: Making It Count

Chapter 09

Ember lay in her bed, drifting vaguely along the edge of sleep and consciousness. She’d been dreaming, and had been baffled as she watched Sarah flying round the Quidditch pitch on a vacuum cleaner, the cord trailing behind her and whipping random Slytherins as it passed. The vacuum had been whirring as though it was turned on, and as Sarah flew past Tori and Irene, the vacuum sucked them up with a loud, “POP!”

Startled into full-on consciousness, Ember sat straight up at the noise, and looked around wildly before her eyes landed on Dobby. He was at the foot of her bed, watching her curiously, and she gasped out a breath before exclaiming, “Dobby!”

He grinned at her before saying, “Miss December was dreaming?”

“Yes, Dobby, I was dreaming. It was very strange…” she trailed off, then fixed her eyes on him and asked, “Dobby, how did you get in here? I imperturbed my bed hangings.”

“Dobby is a house elf, miss,” he said with a shrug, “Dobby came here with food, miss. See? Miss December’s favorite, chicken and fresh bread with butter and cheese, and some tea and pumpkin juice.”

Ember focused on the tray of food she could see behind him, and felt her eyes go soft at the gesture. “You didn’t have to do this, Dobby,” she said quietly.

“Oh, but Dobby wanted to, Miss December. Young James called me for Gideon Wheezy, who said Miss December was having a bad day, and would I please bring her some food if it weren’t too much trouble. And Miss December is always kind to Dobby and the other house elves, so Dobby was delighted to help.”

She stared at him for a moment, then removed the imperturbment charm from her bed hangings and reached into her night table drawer, coming out with a galleon. Sitting up, she imperturbed the curtains once more, then scooted toward Dobby and pressed the galleon into his palm, saying, “You take this, Dobby, okay?”

She watched his eyes widen as he looked at the galleon, and he began to protest, “No, Miss December must not pay Dobby, Dobby was happy to help!”

“Dobby, I know you were and I appreciate it very much. My favorites and all, it’s wonderful. But that is for you, both to keep Gideon’s mum from killing him and James should she find out they asked you to do something and didn’t pay you, and to keep her from killing me if she finds out I didn’t thank you properly. Please keep it, Dobby, even if you never use it.”

She could see the gears turning in his head, and saw the moment of acceptance just before he said, “Yes, Miss December. Dobby will put it in a safe place.” He tucked it into his pockets then, and turned to scoot the tray closer to where Ember was sitting. When he’d finished, he snapped his fingers and the bed hangings flew open, to Ember’s great astonishment.

She watched him as he hopped off the bed and glanced around the room, his eyes stopping on her Potions-kit bonfire. He turned to look at her and asked curiously, “Miss December did this?”

She looked into it as it continued to blaze merrily, and nodded at his question, then blinked with surprise as he snapped his fingers again and the fire vanished. “Dobby, how can you do these things?” she asked, still amazed. She’d be willing to bet her entire moneybag that Slughorn’s desk was still burning cheerfully in the Potions classroom, and here a house elf had not only totally undone her imperturbment, he’d put out the bonfire she’d made in her tantrum.

“House elves have house elf magic, Miss December,” he said, not bothering to expound upon his simple explanation. With that, he hopped back onto her bed, snapped his fingers, and the bed hangings closed themselves once more.

Dobby smiled and said, “Miss December should eat something.” He patted her shoulder, then disappeared with another finger snap.

Shaking her head, Ember stared at the place where he’d been standing. She’d made a fire with words that no witch or wizard could put out with a wand, and a house elf had managed to put it out. Gideon’s mum would probably be highly interested to hear it; maybe Ember would send her an owl sometime.

She sighed and pulled the tray toward herself, absently picking a piece of chicken off the plate and chewing it. What an afternoon. The day had been a good one despite the weather from hell…until Potions. Godric’s teeth, it still made her steaming mad. Ember knew her Potion skills were less than decent.

Okay, she amended, my skills are appalling…no, non-existent. She truly had no idea how she’d come anywhere even close to passing that OWL. But pass it she had, and she’d pressed to take the class.

Perhaps she oughtn’t have done so; she knew everyone who’d made the class was infinitely better at it than she was. Perhaps she should have thought of that before stubbornly insisting on remaining in the class…but passing up a class just wasn’t in her nature.

Ember supposed her ire wasn’t even so much at being awful at Potions. She knew everything she attempted there was destined to fail. Extravagantly. What she disliked was the fact that Slughorn had brought her failures up in front of everyone. He could have waited until after class and asked her not to return. She’d have been angry, sure, but she would have handled it better.

Instead, Slughorn had kept poking at her. And then Tori – oh, that lying tramp! That whole fiasco was just the icing on the cake. Ember had been so angry, she’d seriously considered pulling out her wand and cursing Tori into November. It was riling her again now just thinking about it. The gross injustice of it was so disgusting, so abominable, so…so…

So Slytherin.

Blood boiling again, Ember let out a short scream of frustration and threw herself back into her pillow, beating at it a few times with one fist. When she’d finished her mini-tantrum, she sat back up and picked at another piece of chicken, trying to calm herself down.

It was done, there was no point in being upset about it any longer. And with no Potions to clutter her schedule, perhaps she could slip back into another class, maybe History of Magic.

But what else did Tori have planned? Ember could hardly believe that Tori’s deception this afternoon had been her only scheme to get even for the previous day’s events. Tori would sooner kill the Gryffindors than look at them; Ember was certain there would be more coming. Stewing about this wasn’t the way to prepare for it.

Ember figured she should probably come out from her self-made prison, but wasn’t quite ready for it yet. She knew her friends were probably worried, but she’d heard both Andie and Gideon while she’d been dressing down Slughorn. She wasn’t quite ready to face them, knowing they’d admonished her the way they had.

And on top of that, she was feeling a little sheepish for destroying the dorm room. Before Dobby had put out her fire, she’d noticed that the walls were no longer dripping with various liquids, and the floor had been cleared of all hazards. Sarah and Riley and Andie must have done it, of course.

Sighing, Ember ate another piece of chicken and a bit of cheese, washed it down with a swallow of pumpkin juice, then pushed the tray to the foot of her bed. Crawling back under her covers, she curled up and went back to sleep.

When she woke again, it was just after midnight. Ember undid the imperturbment on her curtains and opened them, then wiped the sleep from her eyes and looked around the room. Andie was asleep in the bed to right of her own, an arm and a leg hanging off the side. Sarah was in the next bed, curled on her side and facing the wall. And Riley was in the bed on Ember’s left side, snoring lightly.

Taking a piece of bread from the tray, Ember climbed off the bed, donned a nightshirt and a light robe, then slipped out of the dorm and down the steps. Glancing around the common room and seeing no one, she made her way over to the fire, staring into it for a minute before someone cleared his or her throat.

She jumped a few feet and whirled to find Gideon stretched out on the sofa. He grinned at her lazily and sat up, saying quietly, “I wondered when you’d be down here.”

Heart still beating wildly in her throat, she squeaked out, “Gideon! Don’t DO that!”

The grin blew into a laugh and he obligingly answered, “Sorry.” He patted the couch beside him and went on, “Want to talk about it?”

Forcing her heart back into her chest, she sighed and crawled onto the seat to sit next to him. “Not really,” came the reply.

Gideon sighed and absent-mindedly began to rub her back with his right hand. He’d purposely waited up for her, knowing she’d be down sooner or later. And he wanted to know what she was thinking.

“Did you eat anything?” he asked instead, still staring into the fire.

“I did. Thank you – you didn’t have to do that.”

He snorted in response, then said, “Someone had to – you eat pitifully little as it is. And Dobby was so pleased to bring you something. Which reminds me, thank you for making him take that galleon. Better that than Mum finding out…”

“I know. That’s why I gave it to him. He wasn’t going to take it, but I begged him.”

“Is the middle of your dorm still on fire?”

Ember sat up and pulled back from Gideon, looking at him appraisingly. “Did Dobby report back to you lot?”

“He did,” Gideon replied, “but he didn’t say whether or not the room was still a mess.”

Ember turned and looked back into the fire for a minute before she answered. “House elves are peculiar little things. Dobby only snapped his fingers and the fire was gone. I’d bet all I own that Slughorn’s desk is still flaming right this moment, but a house elf snaps his fingers and vanishes the same type of fire.”

“Mum might find that interesting.”

Ember sighed. “I thought of that, too – but then I’d have to go into what happened and why, and I’m not entirely keen on being interrogated on the hows and whys of my words versus my wand.”

He’d been waiting for the lead-in, and pounced on it. “Speaking of which,” he began, ignoring her soft groan, “how is it that Slughorn’s desk can still be burning?”

She said nothing for a moment, then answered, “The right combination of words, I guess.”

Gideon turned to stare at her, and said incredulously, “McGonagall was looking for you because even she couldn’t put that fire out. Uncle Neville was looking for you, too – I wouldn’t be surprised to see a summons from both of them in the morning.”

Ember nodded, but said nothing. She figured she’d be getting a detention out of it somewhere along the line. But even so, she wasn’t looking forward to the questions Headmistress McGonagall no doubt had for her.

Unwilling to allow her to draw back into herself, Gideon went on, “Slughorn was really subdued after you told him off. I’m still surprised you went as far as you did.”

He watched her carefully for a moment before she turned to him and said, “I already had my temper tantrum about it, Gideon – I’m not going to go bonkers on you.” She tore a small piece of bread off the hunk she’d brought down with her and chewed on it for a while before going on, “He deserved it though – every word.”

“No arguments,” came the reply, “but I’m not entirely in agreement on the fact that you actually said them all.”

Temper rising, she folded her arms across her chest and growled, “He kicked me out of his class using a false accusation, Gideon. He could’ve pulled me aside afterwards and asked me to drop the class, but he jumps on Tori’s lie instead. He’s nothing but Slytherin slime, and earned everything I threw at him.”

Still calm, Gideon looked her dead in the eye and said, “I know that, Ember, and while I agree, I don’t think talking to him like that accomplished anything.”

“It made me happier, that’s what it accomplished,” Ember answered through gritted teeth.

Gideon sighed, then went on, “And speaking of what you threw at him…”

Ember groaned.

Nonplussed, Gideon ignored it and continued, “That bolt of lightning was massive. James mentioned you’d been working with him this morning, and that you’d said using the words to harm another would be tantamount to using an Unforgivable.”

She snorted and lifted an eyebrow, repeating, “James used the word ‘tantamount’?”

“Ember…” His voice was warning, and she sighed in acquiescence. “How do you know that bolt wouldn’t have hit Slughorn? Or one of the other students? That was scary…did you think about what would happen if it hadn’t hit where it did?”

The uncertainty in his voice rubbed her already-bruised emotions, and she scooted away from him, tucking herself into the corner of the sofa before responding disdainfully, “If I had wanted it to hit him, it would have.” She stared into his eyes for a minute, then looked away, glaring into the fire.

Gideon moved closer to her, but she jumped off the sofa and stepped away from him as he said, “Ember, come back here.”

“No,” she spat, taking another step away. She turned her back on him and stood close to the fireplace. Her temper was up again, and with an effort to control the shaking, she asked in a low voice, “Did it honestly look to you as though that bolt of lightning was out of control?”

“Ember, it didn’t look like anything. There wasn’t time to sit back and think, ‘Gee, that looks a bit wayward, and my, what a lovely shade of blue.’” The sarcasm gave his voice an edge that she’d rarely heard aimed at her, and he said, “I was worried because if it’s not something that should be used to harm, then how can you be certain you can control something of that magnitude?

“Why do you think I’m not certain?”

“Ember, you pulled a bloody lightning bolt out of thin air! A big one! And started a fire that not even the headmistress can put out! How can you stand there and tell me that the biggest bit of magic I’ve ever seen you do was completely under control?”

She spun around to face him, incensed, and argued, “Why would you think it wasn’t? Have you ever known me to miss the mark with any spell?”

“Not with your wand, no. But I’ve never seen anything that big from you, and certainly not without a bloody wand!”

Her voice nearly at shouting-level, she responded, “Why should it matter whether or not it was with a wand?”

“Because you were raging beyond any sane level, December!” He was standing now, just as angry as she was, and he bit out, “At least the act of pulling out a wand gives you time to think about what it is you’re going to do and weigh the consequences. But you’re more articulate than most people, and as fast as you can think the words, you can pull off magic of a herculean proportion without that moment to consider!”

Eyes spitting purple flame, she raged, “But I wasn’t aiming for a person, Gideon! I aimed for – and hit – the desk! I knew what I was doing, regardless of how furious I was!”

“But suppose someone had jumped in front of it? Suppose someone had been standing there? Are you certain you could have diverted it? Are you certain you could have blocked it?”

“I wouldn’t have done it at all if I thought there was that chance!” She stamped her foot, then raised a hand, drawing a ball of fire out of nowhere. As he watched in shock, she tossed it from one hand to the other, and said, “I’m angry enough now to set that bloody armchair on fire with this. Jump in front of it, I dare you.”

His eyes widened as she wound up to throw the fireball at the chair, but before she could go through with it, he exclaimed, “Merlin, Morgan and Arthur! I believe you! Chuck that in the fireplace where it belongs!”

She spun on her heel, and with a small growl of frustration, threw it into the back of the fireplace with as much strength as she could muster. Gideon sank back onto the sofa, staring at her rigid stance, watching her shoulders heave, and asked quietly, “Why is this so difficult for you to understand?”

“Why don’t you trust me?”

The accusation was quiet, but rang loud and clear in Gideon’s ears, and arrowed like a dagger straight into his heart. Merlin, she was like Nina with a bone to pick. She stood there, back rigid and head bent, staring into the fire, but every word she said was dripping with hurt and anger, regardless of the tone she used.

A spark of anger whipped through his veins as her lack of faith in him registered, and before he knew what he was doing, he was on his feet and had stepped close behind her. With a grip that rivaled that of a drowning man, he spun her around to face him.

As her eyes locked onto his in shock, he said in a low, dangerous voice, “Now you listen to me, because I’m only going to say this once. I am well aware that you would never hurt anyone intentionally, no matter how angry you are, and I trust you. Implicitly. I only want you to be certain that you have control of whatever you do. That bolt of lightning was a very big, very powerful thing; I’ve never seen you do anything half that size with a wand, and I want you to be absolutely positive that you’re in control, understand me?”

The rush of relief that sped through her at his affirmation of trust was enormous, and while she hated herself for it, she felt her eyes brim over and looked away from him quickly. He sighed and tugged her with him back over to the sofa, hugging her close and letting her get it out of her system.

He had no idea how long they sat there, she with her face buried in his chest, and he with his hand absently smoothing her hair. Hearing a small noise, he turned his head to see Andie at the entrance to the common room, and he used his free hand to motion her over.

Andie quickly made her way over, miraculously staying on her feet and keeping silent, and as she came around the sofa, she stopped and grinned. Ember was dead asleep.


His voice was quiet, but startled her anyway, and Andie slid onto the sofa with him, curling into his embrace and kissing him once before answering, “She’s asleep.”

Gideon was quiet for a minute, and Andie asked, “So how’d it go?”

“Fine. She’s mostly angry about the fact that Slughorn used a false accusation to kick her out of class.”

“And the rest of it?”

“She thought I didn’t trust her. But I had to be sure, you know? I told her I’d never seen her do anything half that big with a wand.”

Andie smoothed his pajama collar before answering gently, “None of us has. That was a big thing she did.”

“I know, love,” he replied, turning his head to kiss her again. “And I think she’s clear now on what I meant.” Gideon nuzzled against her cheek, then said, “You should probably go back up – I want to wake her up and send her back upstairs.”

Andie started to pull away, but he used his arm to drag her back against himself and kissed her once more, then let her go, saying, “G’night, love.”

She grinned and said, “G’night.” And then she turned and made her way back upstairs.

When she’d gone, Gideon woke Ember, saying, “I’m going to go to bed, okay?” She looked around groggily, then nodded and got up when he did. She hugged him and murmured. “Thanks, Gideon.”

He gave her a squeeze and said, “Anytime, you know that. G’night.” He watched her climb the stairs to the girl’s dormitory, then went to his own room and crawled into bed.


The feedback thread says, "I want you, I want you - I want you as a new recruit!" (Cue the Village People music...)


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 22nd, 2007 at 9:29 pm.
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Old October 25th, 2006, 6:26 pm
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
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Re: Making It Count

Chapter 10

The next morning, Ember woke early and went down to the Great Hall for breakfast, hoping to miss both Professors McGonagall and Longbottom.

Anticipating their friend, Andie and Gideon and the others joined her a few minutes later. Earlier than some of them were accustomed to, Ember grinned at the yawns and quiet groans that went around.

“Morning, you lot. You’re up early,” she greeted them before breaking off a piece of bacon.

“So are you,” returned Luke on the heels of another yawn, “Avoiding us?”

“Not you,” she answered.

“McGonagall and Daddy, then?” asked Riley before biting into her toast.

“Spot on. I figure if I don’t see them, they can’t come after me, right?”

There were a few snickers, and Ember went on, “Besides, I wanted to apologize to you. All of you.”

The chorus of yawning and moaning ceased with almost comic suddenness. Sarah and Luke both stopped in the middle of their yawns. James and Owen paused mid-stretch, Riley and Gideon stopped chewing their food, and Andie’s fork halted halfway to her mouth.

Ember smiled at the sight they made, and each of them relaxed as she went on, “I’m sorry if I scared any of you yesterday. That was not my intention, and I should have thought of that. But I let my temper get the better of me, and I’m sorry.”

She looked at each of them in turn as she spoke, and continued, “That said, I want you to know that regardless of my level of anger, I was in complete control of what I was doing.”

Looking directly at James now, she said, “I told you yesterday morning that using the words to deliberately harm would be like using an Unforgivable. I meant it, and no matter my fury, I had no wish to hurt anyone. I’m sorry I gave you reason to think I would.”

James opened his mouth, but closed it again when Ember answered his question before he could ask it, “With a wand, anyone or anything can get in the way of a spell, a hex, a curse. The spells we use aren’t specific, with the possible exception of ‘Accio.’

“I could point my wand at you and say ‘Immobulus,’ but anyone could step in front of you and it would hit him or her instead. That’s the beauty of using only words. You can craft them exactly as you want them, to do exactly as you wish.”

She paused to sip at her tea, then continued, “I was absolutely livid. I wanted to punish for stupidity and outright cowardice, but not by harming. Never by harming. When I put the words together, I did it so that no one would be hurt. Even if he’d been sprawled on top of that desk, Slughorn wouldn’t have been hurt.”

Ember watched them all as they took in what she’d said, and finally, Sarah asked, “What about Tori?”

Ember grinned and answered, “That was just a bit of inspiration. I may be worthless when it comes to Potions, but I know what Veritaserum does and I wanted her to ‘fess up.”

There were guffaws at this, and Owen replied, “It was funny, the look of shock on her face.”

“And on Slughorn’s, at the realization that you knew what he was doing to you,” added Andie. The others laughed, and the remainder of breakfast passed quickly.

When she’d finished her last bite of toast, Ember rose to leave, saying, “Now, if you lot will excuse me, I’ll be on my way. I’m already cutting it close if I want to avoid…”

A hand landed on her shoulder and she froze as a familiar voice finished for her, “Your head of house?”

Her friends all laughed as she groaned out loud, and she muttered, “Traitors,” in their direction as Professor Longbottom said, “You’ll join the Headmistress and myself in her office in half an hour, Miss Merriweather?”

Heaving a sigh, Ember nodded and replied, “Yes, sir.”

“Very good. Now, on to breakfast.”

They all rolled their eyes in unison as he left, and Ember said, “So much for that brilliant plan. I’m sorry in advance for the points we’ll be losing.”

Her friends waved her off with murmurs of pity and teasing snickers, and she stomped off to the common room to drop her bag there before heading back toward the Headmistress’s office. Once there, however, Ember stood staring at the phoenix guarding the stairwell. Was she supposed to know the password?

Bet Owen and James and Luke know it, she mused, and probably Gideon, too, for that matter. Grinning at the thought, she tried to think of what the password might be, based on what she knew about Professor McGonagall.

“Hard work?” she tried tentatively. Nothing happened, so she tried, “Biscuits?” Again, nothing happened.

“Quidditch? Gryffindor? Transfiguration? Discipline?” Still nothing.

Stamping her foot in frustration, she nearly shouted, “Open Sesame!” Suddenly, the phoenix started moving, opening to reveal a stairway leading up. Ember stared at it, dumbfounded.

“Figured it out, have you?” Ember jumped at Professor Longbottom’s voice, turning to look at him. He was watching her closely, and she said, “I was kidding, Professor. ‘Open Sesame’ is something small Muggle children say when they pretend magic.”

Neville laughed then, and Professor McGonagall joined them at the base of the stairwell. She looked at them both, then said, “Shall we be on our way, then?” She turned and began climbing the staircase.

Ember watched her for a moment, unmoving, but then Professor Longbottom nudged her forward, and she reluctantly began to follow the Headmistress. The professor followed behind her, and once they were all enclosed in the circular room, McGonagall said, “Have a seat, Miss Merriweather.”

Sighing, Ember did as she was told. Never one to beat around the bush, Professor McGonagall launched right in. “Miss Merriweather, would you care to explain yourself?”

“Not really,” came the response, causing more than a few of the portrait occupants to raise their eyebrows. The one containing Professor Dumbledore chuckled softly, and Minerva actually turned her head round to look at him quizzically before returning her gaze to Ember.

“Please try, then, December,” prodded Neville, and she looked at him for a moment before sighing again and asking, “Where should I begin?”

“How about the beginning?” asked Professor McGonagall. “I generally find it to be the easiest place to start.”

A few of the portraits nodded, and with a bolstering smile from Dumbledore, sitting austerely in his own portrait, Ember began quietly.

“My Mum and Dad practice the Wiccan way of life, and brought me up on it. I never believed in the magic behind it, the spells and the chants and everything that’s tied into it, but I learned the rules and the tenets and the Rede, regardless.

My parents were never able to do any magic, nor were any of their coven. Oh, they made up chants and spells, tried them at all times of the year, the various festivals and holidays; any time was a good time, really. But nothing ever happened.”

She’d risen from her chair now, and was wandering around the room, looking at different pictures and books, touching an instrument here, a leaf of a plant there, but still kept talking.

“When I was four, my Mum gave me a spell to try. Even then, I didn’t believe anything would happen. I repeated the words she gave me because it made her happy. Except when I said them, they worked. What I asked to happen, did.”

Ember vaguely registered a few soft gasps, and continued, “From then on, she was always asking me to try another, something different, something easier, something more complex. Everything worked, everything always worked. I could stir the air, I could breathe life into a dying butterfly, I could light a fire from across a room, all with the right combination of words.”

She turned to look at the fireplace across the office, and flames suddenly burst to life in the hearth. This time the gasps were more audible, and there were several more than the first time. She went on, “And I didn’t have to say them out loud for them to work once I had a better grip on them. I could do all these amazing things, but there was no reason for it.

“Then I got my letter from Hogwarts, and everything fell into place. I could do it because I was a witch. A real one, not the kind my parents consider themselves to be. So I came here, ready to learn more about why I could do the things I could.

“But I got here, and it’s not the same. The magic we do here, the magic we learn is different from what I can do at home. Oh, underneath it all, it’s magic. But the methods are very different.”

She paused, and Professor McGonagall took the opportunity to ask, “Is that why Miss Crabbe and her housemates ended up cursed by themselves?”

Ember turned around and looked her in the eye before answering bluntly, “Yes.” McGonagall lifted an eyebrow, and Ember explained, “They were going to harm people I love, and me once they got through them. I wasn’t going to stand there and let it happen, nor did I want to start the year off with points lost just because some of my friends are easily riled.”

Professor Longbottom stared at her, unblinking, and she went on, “So I conjured a wall. An invisible one made of rubber, one that would send their curses back at them, and only them. And then I only had to convince my ‘protectors’ to drop their wands.”

Those in portraits who had been pretending to sleep were now wide awake, listening to every word with rapt attention. Ember took a breath then and added, “And I’m not sorry about it. I won’t be sorry for doing what I had to do to protect them.”

A silence settled over the office, and Professor McGonagall said, “That’s fine. No one asked you to apologize for it, only to explain it. How does it work? Why do you feel it’s different from what we do here?”

“It just is,” Ember shrugged, “Here we use wands, and specific spells to do specific things. With Wicca, it’s just words. Any words will do so long as they’re explanatory enough and are spoken in rhyme.”

From her right, Ember heard a muffled question. Turning in that direction, she found a portrait of a short, grumpy-looking man staring at her as if waiting for a response, and she said, “I’m sorry?”

This time, she heard him as he complained, “Are you deaf? I asked why it would have to be in rhyme.”

“Phinneas,” murmured Dumbledore, and Professor McGonagall answered firmly, “Miss Merriweather is deaf in her right ear, Phinneas.” The man had the decency to blush slightly before muttering an apology, and McGonagall turned back to Ember and repeated his question, “Why in rhyme, Miss Merriweather?”

She stared back at Phinneas for a few seconds more before turning to answer the question. “It’s just part of the Wiccan Rede, Professor. ‘To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.’ It’s never worked for me without being in rhyme.”

There was a pause, and then Professor McGonagall asked, “Can you show us something? Can you do one for us, out loud?”

Ember glanced around the room, looking for something simple that would still be easily visible, and caught sight of Professor McGonagall’s window box, full of wilting flowers. She answered, “Look over there, at your flowers.”

As all eyes focused on them, she went on, “I can make them bloom like new, if you’d like.” There was a nod from the Headmistress, and Ember said, “Shoots of green, buds of gold, open again though winds blow cold; tender blossoms, all and one, show your colors bright as the sun. One last glimpse of summer to see, as I will, so mote it be.”

She watched in satisfaction as the blooms all began to open, then turned to look at the various portraits, who had all begun talking to each other at once. One of them, a white-haired witch on her left, said, “Amazing! So young, and she’s got exquisitely controlled wandless magic!”

“It’s not wandless magic, ma’am,” Ember interrupted. The talking stopped, and she went on, “I can’t look at it and say ‘Effloresco’ and have them bloom. Not without a wand in my hand.”

The office was silent then, and Professor McGonagall turned her gaze from the flower box to Ember and merely looked at her for a moment before she asked, “Do you need to use the same words every time?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Do you feel that anyone here could do it?”

“James can. I was working with him yesterday morning before classes. Like I said, I don’t think it’s a Wiccan thing, I think it works because I’m already magical. I have magical capabilities. But I also have a very good ear for words, what they mean and how they fit together. I think it will be difficult for some people, especially those who aren’t very articulate.”

She paused to let it sink in, then added, “And that includes James. I had to give him the words to do the spell; none of them were his own.”

“What spell did you have him do?” This question came from Professor Longbottom, and Ember turned to him and answered, “A simple breeze.” She repeated the words she’d used that morning, and a breath of air swept through the office before dissipating.

Then, surprising her, Professor McGonagall repeated what she’d said, and the breeze swept through once more. The Headmistress’s eyes widened, and she said, “That’s certainly different, isn’t it?”

Ember smiled, and McGonagall looked at her and said, “Thank you for explaining, Miss Merriweather.”

Ember looked at her suspiciously. “That’s it? That’s all you wanted me for?”

“Well, no,” came the reply, “There is the little matter of yesterday’s Potions class.”

Ember’s hands balled into tiny fists and she closed her eyes for a moment before willing herself to relax. She uncurled her fingers and opened her eyes, and she said nothing as McGonagall went on, “What happened?”

Calmly, Ember answered, “I’m sure the potions master already told you.”

“Nevertheless, I’d like to hear it from you, Miss Merriweather.”

“He kicked me out of his class based on a false accusation, Professor. One made by a member of his own house. And I didn’t like it.”

“So you removed the legs on his desk and pulled a lightning bolt out of nowhere to set it on fire?” McGonagall asked, sounding a little surprised.

Ember shrugged. “He made me angry.”

The explanation was given simply, as though it explained everything, but no one seemed willing to accept it as such. Professor Longbottom was the first to voice the question, and Ember sighed as he asked, “Suppose you’d missed? What would have happened if someone had gotten in the way?”

Rubbing her temple with the palm of one hand, Ember asked, “Why do I feel like I’m repeating every conversation lately?” Neville opened his mouth, but without even looking up, she said, “Rhetorical question, Professor.”

He closed his mouth again, and after a moment, she said, “I fought this out with Gideon last night, and explained it all to them this morning. In Wicca, using the words to deliberately harm would be like using an Unforgivable. ‘Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – an’ it harm none, do what ye will.’ Do what you want, so long as it harms no one. It’d be like using an Unforgivable. I had no wish to hurt anyone.”

Repeating herself from earlier that morning, she continued, “With a wand, anyone or anything can get in the way of a curse. The spells we use aren’t specific, except for ‘Accio.’

“I could point my wand at you and say ‘Silencio,’ but anyone could step in front of you and it would hit him or her instead. And that’s what makes it different from using only words. You can use them in any pattern and any way to do exactly what you want.”

She stopped, then said, “I was hacked off, and I let it out. But no matter my fury, I had no intention or desire to harm. I put the words together explicitly. He could have thrown himself across the worktop and nothing would have happened to him.”

Silence met this explanation, and after a few moments, Phinneas snorted from his portrait and asked with a sniff, “Why is it still burning?”

“I’ll do the questioning, Phinneas,” Professor McGonagall said. She turned to Ember again, and raised an eyebrow, asking simply, “Well?”

Ember allowed a small smile to turn the corners of her mouth up, and she answered again, “Because I wanted it to be. It’ll go out when I want it to.”

“Miss Merriweather…”

“Unless, of course,” she continued, “one of the house elves gets to it first. I made a bonfire out of my potions kit yesterday, the same type of fire I made on the desk, and Dobby put it out with a snap of his fingers.”

“House elf magic is very different, yes,” the headmistress mused. She called one of them and asked the creature to please see to the Potion Master’s flaming desk. When the house elf had disappeared, she turned back toward Ember, then spoke to Professor Longbottom.

“Neville, you’re her head of house, so I shall leave it to you to determine punishment. You may both go now, classes are to start soon.”

As the door closed behind them, Ember could hear the portraits all explode with sound, all trying to talk at once. Neville chuckled and said lightly, “I don’t envy her the headache she’ll have once they’ve all had their say.”

“Neither do I,” Ember said. She turned to him in the middle of the corridor and said, “Do we have to go back to your office? Can you just punish me here and be done with it?”

Neville looked at her appraisingly for a moment, then answered, “I’ll warn you to keep a better check on your temper. You were very careful to harm no one, but the fact that you gave in to the anger wasn’t exactly your brightest move ever. I’ll take twenty points and you’ll spend Thursday evening with me in Greenhouse four. Understand?”

“Yes, sir,” she replied.

“Then I’ll see you again on Thursday at 7:00 PM. Have a good day, Miss Merriweather.”

She watched him walk away, then dashed to the common room to collect her bag before hotfooting it all the way to Ancient Runes.


If you're feeling up to it, why not tell me what you think?


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 22nd, 2007 at 11:40 pm.
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Old November 9th, 2006, 8:35 pm
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Muchas gracias to the always-lovely and infinitely brilliant IMissPadfoot, without whom this chapter might have been incredibly lame! Thanks, babe! *HUG*

Remember to let me know what you think!!

Chapter 11

Professor Vector got straight to work, and set a three-foot essay before she dismissed them all. Class had run a little late, which meant Ember had to dash through the castle to get to Charms with the others. She slid into the empty seat between Gideon and James just as the bell rang.

Two hours later, she was seated in the Great Hall and polishing off a ham-and-cheese sandwich while getting a start on her Ancient Runes essay. Luke, choking down a mouthful of food, managed to ask her, “What are you doing? Not homework already?”

“Only way to keep up with it, Luke, you know that. I don’t fancy spending all day Sunday trying to rush through homework I should have finished long ago,” Ember replied, grinning to herself.

“She’s got a point, you know,” Gideon said thoughtfully. Luke punched him in the shoulder and they had a bit of a playful tussle before settling down to finish their lunch.

Riley put away the DADA essay she’d been working on then, and asked, “So what happened with the Headmistress, Ember?”

Finishing out a sentence, Ember put away her own essay and answered quietly, “Not too much. I told them what had happened the other day with the Slytherins, explained what I’d done and how I did it.”

She paused, then went on, “Showed them what I could do; made McGonagall’s flower box bloom again. Set the portraits into a tizzy.”

“How about punishment? What’d she give you?” asked Andie.

Ember shrugged and replied, “She didn’t – she told Professor Longbottom to do it. So I lost us twenty points – sorry ‘bout that – and I have detention Thursday evening at seven.”

“With Daddy?” Riley asked.

“Yeah. And the potion master’s desk is most likely restored to its original glory, so it shouldn’t be burning when you lot go back there tomorrow.”

James snorted then and asked, “You won’t even say his name anymore?”

She shrugged again and said for the second time that day, “He made me angry.”

This time, the explanation was accepted as good enough, and the remainder of lunch went by quickly.

James eventually got to his feet and nudged Ember, saying, “C’mon, Wiccan Wonder. We have class this afternoon.”

Ember laughed and the entire group stood as she gathered her bag. “Luke, you and Sarah and Owen need to get started on that Defense essay Cortland set. You’ve got three hours before I’m done with my classes today, and if you lot want them proofread, you’d better have a good start on them.”

The three of them groaned, and Gideon and Andie laughed as Riley hooked an arm round Luke’s neck and began dragging him off, saying, “I’ll get them started, don’t worry. Let’s go, you lot. Gideon, grab Owen. Andie, get Sarah. Move out, troops.”

Grinning, Ember called out, “I mean it!” And when Owen called back, “We know, we know,” she allowed James to pull her out of the hall by the elbow.

Ambling together through the castle doors and out into the sunlight, James and Ember began making their way toward Hagrid’s hut, talking companionably.

“What kind of madness do you suppose Hagrid will spring on us today?” James asked.

With a grin, Ember replied, “The kind only Hagrid can create.” James smirked and Ember added, “So long as it’s not a review on blast-ended skrewts, we should be fine.”

This time he laughed out loud. “Wanting to keep all your fingers, yeah?”

“Exactly. You know, I’m surprised he hasn’t found – and smuggled - a chimaera yet.”

Eyes wide, James exclaimed, “And I seriously hope he never does!”

A new yet familiar voice answered, “Who ne’er does what?”

Looking up – and up – they exclaimed in unison, “Hagrid!”

“James, Ember! Been here three days and yer only comin’ to see me now?”

He swept the both of them into one arm for a squeeze, hugging them briefly before dropping them back to the ground, where they picked themselves up with a shared grin as he went on, “Are yeh ready fer class?”

“We are, Hagrid,” Ember replied, “What are you showing us today?”

“Ah, tha’s a surprise. Go on down to the pumpkin patch, I’ll be along in jus’ a minute.” They watched as he clomped into his hut, then glanced at each other before heading toward the area he’d indicated.

Reaching the edge of the patch, they joined the few classmates who were also taking Care of Magical Creatures. Sam Macmillan and Dylan Wendell from Ravenclaw were there, as well as Logan Abercrombie and Brenna Gallagher from Hufflepuff. Pleasantly, the six of them realized that no Slytherins would be taking the class, and they talked amongst themselves until Hagrid made his way down to where they all lounged against the giant pumpkins.

“On’y six o’ yeh!” he exclaimed, “Ah, well, more creatures to go round this year. Follow me, then. Into the forest, le’s go.” He tromped off into the trees, and the six of them exchanged looks of doubt before following behind him.

Hagrid led them deep into the forest, pointing out various creatures for them to see along the way before he finally stopped in a small clearing. Waiting there was a familiar face, and James let out a shout of welcome, “Bill!”

The tall, red-haired figure looked up from where he was untying several bags, and grinned when he saw the group coming toward him. James reached him first and they slapped a high-five in hello before James asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here at the request of your professor, of course,” came the reply, and he glanced at the six of them again before adding, “Small group this year. You gonna tell me who your mates are, James?”

Remembering his manners, James introduced Sam, Dylan and Logan first, and Bill shook their hands. He introduced Brenna next, and Bill grinned and smoothly kissed her hand, making her giggle and everyone else roll their eyes and laugh.

Nudging Ember forward, he finished, “And this, of course, is - ”

He was cut off when Bill exclaimed, “December! Get over here and hug me, shrimp.”

She laughed as he scooped her into a quick hug and then set her on her feet and said, “I was going to say ‘My, you’ve grown,’ but it’s never true in your case.” She slugged him in the arm as the group snickered, and he went on, “Didn’t see you at all over the summer holidays. Where were you?”

Ember laughed again and rolled her eyes as she replied, “You know Mum and Dad. We spent the summer in Ireland, visiting my mum’s cousins and meeting other covens.”

Bill rolled his own eyes and grinned at her before telling her it was good to see her again, then turned to Hagrid and said, “Well, Professor, would you like to begin?”

Hagrid stepped back into professor-mode and began, “I got somethin’ excitin’ fer yeh to start the year.” The six of them gave each other uneasy glances; those words had not yet proven to be harmless in the three previous years they’d all taken this class. Hagrid was oblivious, though, and stepped behind where Bill stood to a place just outside the clearing, making an odd whistling noise.

Suddenly, there was the sound of breaking branches and heavy, though padded, footfalls coming toward them. Hagrid came back into the clearing and stepped aside, allowing a huge creature to enter.

The entire group gasped collectively, and James, eyes wide and shining, breathed out, “It’s a griffin!”

“Very good! An’ how’d yeh know?”

“The head and front legs are those of a giant eagle, and the body and hind legs are those of a lion,” came the prompt answer.

“Right! Five points to Gryffindor,” Hagrid said, and he launched into more facts about the griffin. When he’d finished, he asked, “Anyone got questions?”

Ember’s fist was the first in the air, and without waiting for acknowledgement, she blurted out, “Where did you find a griffin, Professor? The only ones in England guard the entrance to - ” She cut off, suddenly realizing the connection to Bill’s presence.

Hagrid chuckled and turned to Bill, who stepped up and said, “This one’s on loan from Gringott’s for the afternoon, which is why I’m here. Hagrid told you they’re fierce creatures, but a few wizards here and there have managed to befriend one. Hagrid here is accepted by nearly every creature, regardless of ferocity or size, and I, fortunately, am one of the ‘few wizards.’”

“Do any o’ yeh want to get a bit closer?” Hagrid asked, stepping up beside the griffin.

Everyone wanted to, and Bill said, “Two at a time, okay? Brenna, Logan, how about you first?”

Brenna and Logan moved right up to the griffin, who studied them both closely before allowing them to touch him. Sam and Dylan went next, and the griffin studied them, as well. When they were finished, it was James and Ember’s turn.

James stepped up to the creature boldly and waited while he was studied, then laid a hand on the beak. Ember could hear him say, “Wow…” and trail off, and grinned as she tentatively stepped closer. This creature was gargantuan compared to herself, and there was no way she was going to go prancing up to it like she hadn’t a care in the world.

James turned to look at her, a hand still sliding down the griffin’s neck, and he asked, “Coming closer, Em?” He held out a hand to her, and she grasped it, allowing him to pull her in closely. The griffin’s attention focused on her, and she stood stock-still while the sharp eyes journeyed over her slight frame.

After what felt like an eternity, the animal relaxed and dipped its beak to brush against her cheek. She sighed in relief, and dropped James’ hand as she relaxed, brushing a hand down the lion spine carefully.

James waited until she’d turned her head away before shaking his hand and massaging the feeling back into it gently. She’d nearly broken the bones with the grip she’d had on it, but he’d eat his tie before he admitted it.

He watched her as she petted the griffin, vaguely listening to her as she discussed Ancient Runes with Bill. It amused him that she was standing up straight, yet the top of her head barely cleared the beast’s shoulders.

Sooner than he’d expected, Hagrid cleared his throat. Ember broke off her muted conversation with Bill and she and James both stepped away from the griffin as Hagrid said, “Now I know yeh’re prob’ly bogged down wi’ essays already, so your on’y assignment is to sketch the griffin, label all identifying features, an’ six inches on habitat an’ uses in the wizarding world. Yeh’ve got another forty-five minutes o’ class time, so if yeh get started now, yeh’ll be done before it’s over.”

“Professor, can we work together?” Logan asked.

“All righ’. Groups o’ two are fine.”

They paired off, sticking to their housemates, and James drew Ember away a few feet before settling on the ground. She pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill, then proceeded to attempt sketching the griffin.

James followed suit, and a few minutes later, his sketch was complete. He scooted himself around to peek over Ember’s shoulder, and when he saw what she’d drawn, he choked on a shout of laughter.

She looked over at him, brow furrowed, and asked cautiously, “What’s so funny?”

He was currently doubled over on the ground, shoulders shaking with laughter, and after a minute he managed to sit up and, still laughing, asked, “Exactly what were you drawing, Ember?”

Frowning, she looked back at her sketch and replied, “Well, a griffin, of course. Why? What did you think I was drawing?”

He’d dissolved into a series of snorts now, and finally got enough breath to say, “Actually, it looked an awful lot like the result you’d get if you cross-bred a Tyrannosaurus with a rooster and an elephant…”

He trailed off at the look she was giving him, then cleared his throat and said, “Maybe we should just use my sketch and stick both our names on it, yeah?” He handed it to her, and watched her as she compared them for a moment before sighing and adding her own name beneath his at the top. She crumpled her own parchment and tossed it into her bag, then began carefully writing in the first few identifying features. As he began naming off more obscure bits for her to label, he surreptitiously slipped his hand into her bag and fished her crumpled sketch out, tucking it away into a pocket.

As they continued collaborating, he stretched out beside her on his side, his head propped in one hand, occasionally peering at the parchment to consider before adding something they’d left out. When they’d completed that bit, he gave her his thoughts on the last bit of the assignment, and she added her own, then said, “Give me a few minutes, let me word this properly.”

James took the opportunity to hoist himself up off the ground and wandered over to where Bill sat, feeding the griffin bits of raw meat. “Hey, James,” Bill greeted him again, glancing over at Ember. “Shouldn’t you be working on your assignment?”

James followed his gaze, then said, “We’ve finished. She’s just rewording the…” He paused for a moment, then looked back at his uncle, finishing lamely, “Well, the words.”

Bill chuckled; his nephew had never been the articulate one, except when he was riled. He turned his attention back to James, who’d stepped back up to the griffin and was stroking his feathers gently. He seemed to be thinking about something, so Bill gave him a few minutes before drawing him into conversation about Quidditch.

Ember put the finishing touches on the assignment and put away her quill and inkpot in her bag. She sat up then, leaning back on her hands and looking around the clearing. Brooke and Logan had already finished their assignment and said their goodbyes to Bill and Hagrid before making their way back toward the castle.

Sam and Dylan were turning theirs in to Hagrid just now, and Ember watched as they, too, pulled their bags onto their shoulders, bid farewell to Bill and James, and began trouping off. She then turned her gaze back toward where the three men stood, chatting amicably.

Hagrid and Bill went off on some tangent, and Ember watched as James let himself drop out of the conversation, turning instead to stroke the griffin’s back and mutter quietly to it. The creature tipped its head slightly, as though it was listening to him, and Ember smiled before getting up and making her way over to them.

By now, Hagrid was helping Bill to clean up the clearing, so she stepped up behind James and asked quietly, “You love this class, don’t you? You enjoy these creatures.”

He’d heard her come up behind him, and didn’t bother to turn around as he nodded and replied, “Yes. If I don’t get an offer with one of the professional teams, then this is what I want to do. I like working with the animals.”

She observed him for a moment, then said, “You’re wonderful with them.”

He turned then to look at her, surprise evident on his face. He knew he wasn’t the most eloquent person in the world, and often felt inadequate and a little sheepish about the fact that he’d much rather work with animals than write an essay. It was usually compounded by the fact that the majority of his friends were always at ease with talking and reading and writing.

But here one of them was, and language was definitely her forte, but she was telling him with absolute sincerity that he was good at something. At this, at what he loved. He continued to look at her, searching for traces of disdain and patronization. Finding none, he simply said, “Thank you.”

He paused, then winked and grinned, adding, “You’re not so bad, yourself.” She rolled her eyes at him before tilting her head down to the assignment still in her hand, and he took it from her, looking it over before going on, “We should turn this in and head back, yeah?”

She nodded, giving the griffin one last pat on the back before stepping away. James handed the assignment to Hagrid, who tucked it into a pocket with the others, then gathered his bag and Ember’s from the place they’d been sitting as Bill hugged her again.

He joined them as Bill told her not to be a stranger so much, and hugged his uncle goodbye. Bill then patted the griffin and made the same whistling noise Hagrid had used earlier, and the great beast stood up and followed Bill into the trees.

James handed Ember her bag, and they joined Hagrid and left the clearing. Picking their way through the forest in his wake, they shared a smile as he asked them, “So how was yer firs’ class this year?”

Remembering the three previous years, James answered, “It was great, Hagrid. It was wicked, being able to see a real griffin like that up close.”

Hagrid grinned and responded, “I’m jus’ glad no one was hurt this year!”

“Yeah, that was a bonus, too, Hagrid,” Ember agreed, and James chuckled. The previous year, Andie had tripped over one of the fire crabs in the first lesson and ended up in the hospital wing with horrific burns on the backs of her legs. The year before that, Juliet Corner had lost her Bowtruckle, only to find it when it stabbed its pointy fingers into her shin before attempting to run away.

And the year before that, Rasalas Flint had failed to listen to Hagrid about Unicorns not being overly fond of males. He’d been sent to the hospital wing with a punctured bicep, sustained when the Unicorn had felt endangered and nearly ran him through before fleeing into the woods.

Needless to say, this year’s first class had been a gem. They made their way back to the hut, and Hagrid stopped them before they could head back to the castle, saying, “Don’ go yet, someone else wants to say hello.”

James and Ember shared a puzzled look as Hagrid opened his front door and whistled, and suddenly a huge, grey dog came bounding out towards them. James laughed and exclaimed, “Rogue! Hey, boy!” He ruffled the fur on the animal’s head, and Rogue leapt happily around him, barking his pleasure at having his friends back before he caught Ember’s scent.

Turning, he howled with what sounded like doggie-joy, and proceeded to bowl himself into Ember, knocking her flat on her back on the ground and dragging his huge, wet tongue up her face numerous times.

James watched in shock for a moment before leaping into action, dragging Rogue off her by his collar with all his might. She came up sputtering, looking thoroughly mussed up, then began laughing and reached for the huge dog, scruffing up his fur as James had done and talking to him as though he could answer her.

“There you are, boy, we missed you! How’s my buddy? Hmm?” James nearly lost his breath as she wrinkled her nose delicately while she spoke. Merlin, she was adorable. And what in the world was the matter with him?! He wasn’t supposed to be thinking this way about her.

Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he watched as Rogue panted and licked her face once more. She laughed again, saying, “You stink, boy, I think you need a good bath.” At the word ‘bath,’ Rogue leapt up, grabbed hold of her robes, and began pounding off toward the lake, dragging her along. Both Hagrid and James took off after them, listening to Ember laugh and shriek out, “Rogue! NO! STOP!”

About ten feet from the lake’s edge, the dog slid to a halt, and James heard Ember yell, “SIT!” Miraculously, Rogue sat, and James ran up to them, helping Ember to her feet.

“Bloody hell, are you all right?!” He was brushing off the back of her robes as she swept the front down, and she giggled and said, “I’m fine, don’t worry.” Pulling out her wand, she siphoned all the dog spit off her face and out of her hair, cast a cleansing charm on the hair and skin, then turned to grin at Hagrid, who’d just stepped up next to them and ordered Rogue home.

“Thanks for letting us say hello, Hagrid!”

“He was lookin’ forward to it. More’n I thought, I guess! Are yeh sure yeh’re all righ’?”

Ember nodded and smiled, and Hagrid said, “I’ll see yeh both later?”

“Yes, Hagrid. Goodbye!” James answered, drawing Ember with him toward the castle. They climbed the stairs and went through the doors, and suddenly Ember stopped dead. Pulling himself up short, he turned to see what was wrong, and realized she’d caught sight of herself in one of the mirrors in the Entrance Hall.

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” she exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Confused, James asked, “Tell you what?”

She rolled her eyes at his reflection, then closed them for a moment. When she reopened them, they were a deeper purple and suddenly seemed more defined, and her mouth was more defined as well. James saw his own eyes widen, and he asked, “What the hell was that?!”

“What was what?”

“Your eyes changed, and your mouth, too.”

Understanding now, she laughed and explained, “I just re-did my makeup. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it when I cleaned Rogue’s spit off my face. And you didn’t tell me.”

Still not caught up to her plane of thought yet, he blurted out, “But I didn’t notice.”

Turning to face him, her eyes widened. Then without warning, she flashed him a blinding smile and laughed. She walked up to him, reached a hand up to ruffle his hair, then said, “I have Arithmancy now, so I’ll see you and the others in an hour or so.”

He nodded and she headed down the hallway. He was still standing there, staring after her, when she turned around and called out, “And James?”


“Get a start on your DADA essay. I’ll help you with it later.” He groaned out loud, his brain finally latching onto something he understood with perfect clarity, and she laughed as she disappeared round the corner.

He finally began moving, heading up to the common room, where he found their friends grouped in front of the fireplace. Luke, grateful for the distraction, called to him in welcome.

“James! How was class?”

“It was really good,” James replied, easing into the big armchair. He looked into the fire for a minute, his mind drifting back to that odd conversation.

The six friends exchanged glances, and Owen asked, “All right, mate?”

“Girls are SO strange!” The answer burst out, and he looked toward Andie and Sarah and Riley and continued, “You’re girls.”

Riley raised an eyebrow, Andie stared at him, and Sarah said, “Very good, James. What else can you do?” Andie and Riley snickered and the guys laughed out loud.

James scowled, then said, “Okay then, you can tell me what the hell just happened. I was talking to - ” Here he paused, not wanting to divulge Ember’s name. Recovering quickly, he went on, “To a girl, and she saw herself in the mirror and asked me why I hadn’t told her.”

“Told her what?” asked Owen, mystified.

“I’m getting there. She did her makeup right there, and said she’d forgotten to do it, and wondered why I hadn’t told her. And all I said was that I hadn’t noticed, because I hadn’t. And she grinned at me like I’d just won a thousand galleons.”

All three of the guys stared at James, completely baffled with this new puzzle, and at the same time, the girls sighed in unison. At the sound, each of the guys turned to look at them, waiting for the answer to what was clearly one of those mysterious girl things.

Riley grinned at James and answered, “James, you just paid some lucky girl one hell of a compliment.”

“How could I compliment someone without knowing it?”

“That’s part of what makes it such a great thing. It was a sincere, truthful statement, and meant that you think she looks just as good without the makeup as she does with it.”

“I said all that?”

All three of the girls nodded, and Sarah answered, “In a nutshell, yes.”

They all sat in companionable silence for a minute, then Riley said, “Okay, let’s get back to work on these essays, you lot.” The moans and groans made the rounds as the group of friends got down to business.

James allowed his mind to wander back to Ember for a moment before shaking himself and buckling down. She’d knock him one upside the head if he didn’t have something to show for his time when she got back from her class.

Meanwhile, Ember sat through the beginning of Arithmancy. Professor Manneville was only reviewing today, so Ember found her mind wandering to the afternoon.

She was in the best mood! Sometimes she felt like knocking James down onto his thick head, and sometimes – like now – she wanted to drag him into a broom closet. He hadn’t even noticed that she’d had no makeup on – if that wasn’t just the sweetest thing she’d heard all day!

And he’d been so quick to drag Rogue off her, and then to help her up by the lake. But she supposed he’d have done that for anybody, really. It was just really nice that he’d done it for her.

No, no, no! Dangerous thoughts, girl, she warned herself. There was no point getting all worked up over nothing. For all she knew, he was just as clueless as always and hadn’t done any of it out of more than basic concern for another person.

Nevertheless, she knew she spent the rest of Arithmancy grinning like a fool.


Come to the dark side - we have cookies...


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 23rd, 2007 at 12:10 am.
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Old December 19th, 2006, 6:00 pm
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

This would have been longer, but those Quidditch tryouts are just sapping my will to go on. Thought I'd post this much and see if anything more comes to me for the rest of it.

For what's here, thanks to Kaz and to Kristin!

Let me know what you think!

Chapter 12

That evening, Ember put the finishing touches on the last of her current essays before setting her bag down and glancing around. Andie and Riley were chatting quietly with Gideon over near the fire. Owen and Sarah finished their essays within a few minutes and joined them.

James and Luke were each still hunched over their own parchment, their quills scratching away until Luke put his down and said, “That had better be it, because I hate essays.” James muttered in agreement as he continued to write, and Luke pushed his assignment across the table to Ember, who did a quick read-through before nodding an okay.

Luke sighed in relief, tucked it into his bag, then joined the group by the fire. James finished his a few minutes later, and after Ember checked it, they joined the others as well.

Settling herself into the big armchair beside Luke, she had to laugh out loud when Andie asked, “So – what did Hagrid spring on your class this year?”

“Still bitter, Lupin?” James asked, laughing.

“You would be too, Potter,” came the good-natured response, “So who got nailed this year?”

“No one, actually,” Ember replied, grinning at the raised eyebrows.

She and James spent the next half hour telling their friends how they’d spent their Care of Magical Creatures class, and shortly after that, Ember yawned. Using Luke’s knee for leverage, she hoisted herself out of the deep chair and said, “I think I’m going to head up to bed, you lot. G’night.”

They chorused their goodnights and she went up to the tower, knowing the rest of them wouldn’t be too long in following her.

The following morning, she woke to the sound of a groan. She turned her head, eyes slowly focusing, and as she rolled onto her side, she heard it again. With a start, she realized it was coming from her, and as she pushed herself to a sitting position, she groaned yet again.

Merlin, she felt like she’d been run over by the Hogwarts Express. Or, she thought, the previous day’s events crystallizing in her mind, like she’d been dragged the length of a Quidditch pitch by a dog the size of a bear.

Godric’s teeth, she could hardly move. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to cuddle that dog or hex him, but abandoned her plotting at the realization that she seriously needed to visit the loo. She climbed out of her bed, wincing with every movement. Before she got far, however, she heard Sarah call from her bed, “Ember, are you whimpering?”

Ember clapped a hand to her mouth. Had she been whimpering? “Um, no?”

“Nice try, Merriweather,” came Andie’s muffled voice. She and Sarah both crawled from beneath their covers, each gasping as her eyes found Ember. She stood at the foot of her bed, leaning one hip against it, one arm curled around the post. Her bottom lip was tugged in between her teeth, face screwed up in what could only be pain.

“Ember!” She opened her eyes at their combined exclamation, and saw them both rushing toward her.

“Ember, what happened, what’s wrong?” Andie’s questions tumbled out as Sarah quietly levitated her back onto her bed. Wincing again, Ember told them what had happened with Rogue after she and James had finished class.

“Oh, Ember,” sighed Sarah, “Why didn’t you go to see Madame Pomfrey after that?”

“I felt fine, guys, really. I didn’t think I’d feel like I’d been stampeded by a herd of Abraxan horses,” she replied, moaning again as she felt her bed dip with Riley’s added weight.

Voice still thick with sleep, Riley said, “Well, let’s get you into a hot shower. It’ll loosen you up enough to get you over to Madame Pomfrey. She’ll have something to fix you up for the day. Can’t have you groaning all day long.”

Ember laughed, and whined, “Don’t make me laugh! It hurts, and I have to pee.” The rest of them laughed and helped her into the bathroom.

Half an hour later, still wincing with each step but no longer whimpering, Ember and the others made their way to the hospital wing. After a minor scolding and a quick check for any fractures, the nurse handed Ember a glass full of something lime-green and smoking.

Ember looked at it dubiously, and Madame Pomfrey said sympathetically, “Best to do it in one gulp, honey – it’s not an easy one to take.”

Still staring at it, Ember muttered, “Merlin, help me,” then tossed the entire contents back and swallowed.

Sputtering in shock, the glass slipped from her fingers and shattered, and she leapt to her feet with a shout of disgust.

Eyes narrowed to slits, she said menacingly, “That dog is SO dead.”

Hearing the snickering behind her, she whirled to find her girlfriends in various poses of ill-concealed merriment, and finally Andie grinned and said, “You’ve got to admit, the stuff worked, Ember. You haven’t moved so quickly all morning!”

She opened her mouth to deliver a scathing reply, then closed it again abruptly as she realized she felt much better than she had when she’d woken up. Shrugging, she finally responded, “It was still the nastiest thing I’ve ever had the misfortune to put in my mouth.”

The girls all thanked Madame Pomfrey and made their way down to breakfast, then. As they walked toward the table where they usually sat, Riley asked, “What do you suppose they find so amusing?”

Luke and Owen were doubled over in hysterics, and Gideon’s head was tipped back in laughter, the rich tones sounding like deep chimes. James was grinning wickedly, and there was a piece of smoothed-out parchment on the table between them.

“What’s so funny, guys?” Sarah asked as they joined the boys.

Luke and Owen continued to laugh, and Gideon’s eyes lit up as he caught sight of Ember, and James answered for all of them, “Some of the best artwork this side of Loch Ness.”

Riley was leaning over Luke’s shoulder trying to see it, then sighed and just grabbed it up off the table. Getting a closer look at it, she began to laugh and passed it to Sarah. Sarah stared at it for a moment, then turned it upside down. Giggling, she said, “Nope – it doesn’t look any better this way.”

Gideon reached out and took it from her, leaning back to allow Andie to have a peek. By the time Andie had begun laughing, Ember’s eyes had narrowed as she pinned James in her gaze. She snaked a hand out to grab the parchment, but James had his wand out and summoned the sheet back to himself just as her fingers closed over the edge.

“James, is that what I think it is?”

“Oh, it’s exactly what you know it is, darling,” James answered mockingly, a mischievous grin still plastered across his face.

She cocked an eyebrow at the flippant remark and said, “I tossed that sketch in my bag yesterday, prat. How did you get your grubby little hands on it?” Ember watched him, gauging his movements. She was close enough to grab the parchment back, but quickly abandoned the idea; his reflexes were far better than her own.

Shrugging smoothly, he had the audacity to grin winningly at her as he admitted his sin, “I stole it.”

She couldn’t help it; she laughed. It was a horrible sketch, and she didn’t really care if her friends found it amusing. And honestly, if he could admit it with such a good-natured grin, then she wasn’t going to hex him.

The drawing, however, wasn’t something she wanted floating around school. For Merlin’s sake, it still had her name at the top. Smiling, she aimed her wand at the parchment and opened her mouth, intending to burn it to ashes.

James’ eyes widened, and realizing she was going to get rid of it, he quickly pulled it away and tucked it inside his robes. “Ember, no! Bad girl!”

She froze and stared at him incredulously. “What am I, a dog? Give me that, you buffoon.”

James worked up an offended look and protested, “You can’t destroy genius like this! It’s meant to be shared!”

Laughing again, she replied, “I don’t think so, Potter. I will not have another example of my incompetence making its way through the castle.”

“But why ruin something that brings such joy to others?”

Daring to interrupt them, Andie piped up, “He’s got a point, Em.”

The others laughed, and Owen added, “We could frame it and put it here in the Great Hall, where everyone can look at it!”

Ember rolled her eyes and sat down, laughing in defeat. “Okay, okay! I give up. Do whatever you want with it, but it had better never come down from Gryffindor tower.”

Pleased he’d won, James whipped it back out and promised, “It won’t! You have to sign it like the artist you are, though.”

Owen snickered, causing Luke to laugh again, and Gideon piped up, “You gonna keep it under your pillow, James?”

Ember rolled her eyes again, missing the dirty look James aimed at him before answering, “Oh, no – I have other plans for this baby.” He held it out toward Ember, who pointed her wand at it and said, “Chirographum.”

Appearing in neat script across the bottom corner, everyone leaned in to see the words, “For James Albus Potter, the bane of mine and Gryffindor Tower’s existence. Much love, DSM.”

James wasn’t sure whether to be offended or delighted, but as the others were laughing, he gave in to the delight and laughed along with them. As he looked up at Ember, she pointed her wand again and conjured a frame for it, then just as quickly, she banished the whole thing to the boys’ dormitory.

The remainder of the day flew by, and before she knew it, Thursday evening had rolled around. The Great Hall rang with noisy excitement; tonight would determine the newest members of the house Quidditch teams. All four teams needed new additions, and the thrill in the air was palpable.

At the Gryffindor table, Andie said to Ember, “Hey, you have detention tonight, don’t you? You’re going to miss the tryouts!”

“Yeah – but detention is detention, so I guess I’ll have to live with it.”

The others chimed in their thoughts on the subject, and then a new voice said from behind them, “Actually, I’d forgotten the tryouts were tonight.”

Turning around, they found Professor Longbottom standing there, and he smiled sheepishly before continuing, “Miss Merriweather, the Headmistress has asked me to push your detention back to Saturday morning, as I need to be on the pitch with the other house heads this evening. You are to join me in the Headmistress’ office at six A.M.”

“Six?!” they all chorused, and Luke asked, “Why so early?”

Professor Longbottom turned and fixed his gaze on Luke, and when Luke was nearly squirming, he answered, “That is between the Headmistress and myself.” He turned to Ember again and said, “Six on Saturday morning, Miss Merriweather.” And with that, he left the hall.

They all watched him leave, then one by one, Gideon, Owen, James and Luke turned to look at Ember, and Gideon asked, “So are you coming to watch the tryouts?”

Studying each of their faces, Ember wondered why they were anxious for everyone to be there. Lifting an eyebrow, she asked, “What did you guys do?”

Comprehension dawning on their faces, Riley, Sarah and Andie all glanced at each other, and Sarah added, “Oh, no – Owen, people had better not be glued to anything.”

Owen was always behind the pranks the guys pulled – the girls had learned this well by Christmastime their first year. There had been little instances of jokes and pranks here and there all that fall, but the day before the Christmas break began was the real beginning.

Being from a Muggle family, Owen had knowledge of all the interesting Muggle items that the wizarding world, on the whole, did not. And this being the case, he and the others had somehow discovered the password to the other houses’ common rooms. While everyone was at breakfast, they’d coated every single toilet seat in the other three common rooms with superglue.

And to add to the madness, they’d done the toilets in the teacher’s lounge and in the bathrooms on four random floors of the castle, as well.

The four of them had been in hysterics when the uproar began, and the teachers had cancelled classes because over half the school – including four professors – was glued to a toilet seat someplace.

Realizing what she meant, Owen laughed richly and assured her, “Don’t worry, it’s nothing like that. I had detention for a month after that prank! With Filch!” Which was rotten luck, as Filch had been one of the unfortunate ones super-glued to a toilet seat…

“Should we be avoiding anything?” This came from Andie, who had reason to be worried. She always managed to get caught up in their pranks – and the toilet seats had been no exception.

“Yeah, Lupin,” answered James, “Stay off the Quidditch pitch. The stands are fine, but stay off the pitch.”

The girls all exchanged apprehensive glances. What had those boys done?

“Only one way to find out,” Sarah muttered, voicing the resignation they all felt. The other three giggled, and followed her out of the hall.


Horrible? Not so bad? Pleasant enough? Feedback here, please!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 26th, 2007 at 2:37 am.
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Old March 1st, 2007, 6:42 pm
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
Posts: 32
Re: Making It Count

Okay - it's been a looooonnnnggg time since I posted, hmm? It's those Quidditch tryouts. I hate them.

So I kind of skipped them. In this chapter, you'll find the guys' prank and some happy fluffy stuff, but that's about it. Quidditch simply eludes me.

That said, HUGE, MEGA thanks to my baby sister, mandagracie, for this chapter. Most of it came from her. All I did was restructure so it flowed more with my style of writing. And without her, there probably wouldn't have been any more to this story, so enjoy it for what it is.

Also, some more good news - more is coming. I've got another chapter ready to go and the one after that is started.

I should also thank Kaz here, too - she keeps me sane and gives me proper terms when I ask for them.

And without further ado...

Chapter 13

James, Luke, Gideon and Owen all raced down to the pitch the minute they’d finished their dinners. Finding their changing room and the pitch blessedly empty, they glanced at each other. With identical nods and wicked grins, they took off through the door leading onto the pitch.

Luke, James and Owen each ran to one of the other teams’ entrance points just as Jessie and Nina burst onto the field, and while Owen cast a quick spell on the Hufflepuff entrance, James did the same to the Slytherin entrance. Each of them sprinted back toward the Gryffindor door where Gideon stood, tapping his foot and watching for the first onlookers.

Luke mounted his broom and hovered as Jessie and Nina each swept around the pitch, sprinkling a colorless liquid that the boys knew to be charmed over the ground. When they’d finished, they flew through their own entrance shouting in unison, “Done!” Luke then cast his spell for the Ravenclaws and soared through the doorway to his own changing room.

With one last glance around the still-empty pitch, Gideon chuckled to himself and stepped back. Pointing his wand at his team’s doorway, he simply said, “Lacus mutatio!”

A deep, red light flew out of his wand and plastered the doorway like a shield. For a moment the entire entrance glowed red, but it vanished quickly, leaving behind only the faint smell of chlorine.

Gideon nodded, satisfied that everything was ready, then dashed into the changing room. The four of them laughed, and Owen said, “All right, guys – I’ll be in the stands!”

The others bade him goodbye, then quickly began changing. Daisy, Ethan and Sirius entered together, talking quietly, then stopped suddenly upon seeing the boys there. All six of them stared at each other before Daisy finally spoke up.

“All right, you boneheads. We just saw Owen racing off towards the stands as though his life depended on it. What did you do?”

“Do?” echoed Gideon innocently.

“Us?” asked Luke.

She narrowed her eyes at them, and James said, “Daisy, why would we do anything? If you must know, we were just changing. That is why it’s called a ‘changing room,’ after all.”

Sirius snorted from behind her, and Ethan added, “What was Owen doing here?”

“Wishing us all an easy decision, of course,” Luke answered, unable to hide his grin any longer.

“Honestly, why are you so quick to accuse us? The three of you act as though we’ve committed an Unforgivable or two,” James went on.

Sirius spoke up then, “How quickly they forget their sins!”

Daisy and Ethan laughed, and Sirius continued, “Have you forgotten what you did to us last year at tryouts, then?”

“Of course not,” Gideon answered smoothly, “although maybe having to do tryouts entirely upside down wasn’t so funny from your point of view…”

He trailed off, and Luke jumped in, “Besides, this year will be much easier.”

Sirius and Ethan rolled their eyes at each other while Daisy just lifted an eyebrow.

“Really!” he went on, “But a word to the wise: you may want to put a warming charm on yourselves before we go out.”

Luke then aimed his wand at Gideon and said, “Caleo.”

Immediately, Sirius pointed his wand at Daisy, who pointed her own at Ethan while Ethan pointed his at Sirius, and they repeated in unison, “Caleo!”

Soon after, a small group of Gryffindor students entered the room. Gryffindor only needed one new member, a Chaser, and four of their house members had shown up to try out. Danielle Kemp was a fifth year, Benton Banks was a fourth year, Corinne Shelton a third year and Shelby Jordan a second.

All four of them looked a little nervous, and Daisy immediately began talking with them and trying to ease their stress levels.

Gideon gave them a quick rundown of how things would go, then gently let them in on the warming charm business before reminding them to just have fun. As he spoke, Professor Longbottom entered the changing room.

“Hey, you lot. You all ready?” he asked.

“We’re always ready, Professor,” Gideon answered.

Professor Longbottom smiled and turned to the students who would be trying out, and said, “How about the four of you? How are you feeling, a bit nervous?”

There were a few nods, and he went on, “Well, as I’m sure Gideon has told you, make sure you have fun and enjoy it for what it is. I’ll be walking out with you, so there’s no need to get stage fright.”

James, hearing this, began bouncing on the balls of his feet. He was absolutely strung out on adrenaline, and was possibly the world’s least patient person in this state. There were so many things to be excited about, and it seemed to him that all of them were choosing now to enter his head.

The first week of school always had him on a high, even if it was school, and on top of it were Quidditch tryouts. And crowning the whole thing was their first prank of the year – which would now include at least one professor, if not all of the heads of houses. Good Godric, he felt like he was about to burst.


Carefully, the girls made their way into the stands and found seats with Owen to watch the tryouts. Madam Hooch was already near the middle of the pitch, waiting for the teams – and their hopefuls – to enter.

Gryffindor only needed a Chaser this year, so their tryouts would be the quickest. Ravenclaw needed two Chasers and a Keeper, Hufflepuff was looking for a Beater and a Chaser, and Slytherin was in need of a Chaser and a Seeker.

Owen was perched on the edge of his seat, and the girls exchanged apprehensive glances. This level of excitement meant something very funny – and very humiliating to some – would be happening, and soon.

“So Owen,” Riley began, “What did you goons do?”

He looked at her and grinned broadly before answering, “You’ll have to wait and see. And Jessie and Nina are in on it, too.”

“Uh-oh,” chorused the girls.

“That means people are going to be going up in puffs of smoke, aren’t they?” asked Andie, “Those two can’t do anything without a flourish and a transformation.”

“Said the metamorphmagus,” Owen retorted, his grin taking on a maniacal tint.

The five of them laughed, and Owen said, “But I will tell you this: no drooling allowed.”

The girls shared a puzzled look and a few shrugs, and then Madame Hooch’s whistle sounded. Several students had turned up to watch the tryouts, friends of the team members and the hopefuls, and as the doors to the changing rooms began opening onto the pitch, the small crowd cheered.

In the Gryffindor room they all heard the whistle blow, and then a booming voice said, “GRYFFINDOR!”

James was the first one on his broom, and the others quickly followed his example. With Gideon leading the way, all six of them flew down the short hallway and through the doorway that still smelled of chlorine. As each of them passed through, he or she felt as though a bucket of water had been dumped on them.

They soared onto the pitch, flying low to the ground and circling around. Several of them rocketed up and back down joyfully; it had been a while since they’d been in the air.

Ethan, Sirius and Daisy were all a little puzzled, as they’d felt the water drench them, yet they were completely dry. Following Gideon down toward the middle of the pitch, all of them hovered for a moment before dismounting.

Daisy’s foot touched down first, and with a comical look of surprise, she vanished behind a thick puff of scarlet smoke. Not a second later, five more scarlet puffs sprang up, shielding the Gryffindors from view.

There was a collective gasp from the crowd punctuated with a few screams, and the clouds dissipated to reveal the team. Every one of them was clad in scarlet and gold swimwear, complete with goggles, red flippers on their feet and gold arm floaties around their biceps. In their hands, each held a golden floating noodle instead of a broom.

The crowd erupted with laughter, whistles and cat-calls, and Owen doubled over in hysterics. The girls just stared, mouths hanging open.

Down on the pitch, Ethan’s face was the picture of incredulity. Once he’d ascertained that all his bits and pieces were intact, he turned toward Gideon and began to march over to him, promptly tripping on his flipper and landing face-first in the grass.

There was a fresh swell of laughter, and Gideon ran over to him as best he could to help him up, as James and Luke were too busy flexing and welcoming the crowd’s attention.

“How in Merlin’s name am I supposed to play in these?” Ethan asked, sticking out the foot he’d tripped over, still encased in its flipper.

“They won’t interfere, since you won’t be walking. You’ll be flying,” Gideon answered reasonably.

“With what?” Ethan yelled, “My broom’s gone! All I have is this…this…this noodle-y thing!”

“That’s what you’ll be flying on!” James hollered over the noise of the crowd.

Ethan opened his mouth to retort, but just then, the Hufflepuff team touched down to the pitch, all looking apprehensively at the Gryffindors.

Instantly, they vanished behind a cloud of yellow and reappeared wearing hot pink leotards and tutus, neon blue tights, and glowing fuchsia leg warmers. To cap it off, all of them were standing up on their toes in lime-green ballet slippers, clinging to their brooms for balance.

Now Daisy and Sirius began to laugh, no longer concerned with their own attire. The onlookers continued to enjoy the sights before them, and Ethan stared for a moment before asking indignantly, “How come they get normal brooms?!”

No one answered him as more laughs filled the stands. Behind him, blue clouds indicated the arrival of the Ravenclaws. Ethan turned as the smoke cleared, revealing a very amused set of twins and their confused teammates.

The only reason anyone could tell whom Nina and Jessie were was because they both had identical strawberries for heads. Frank had a banana head, and Jigz was an orange. And as though this wasn’t enough, each of them had on a royal blue jumpsuit, complete with bright, white, Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear over the top, super-hero style.

By now, Madame Hooch had stepped into the very center of the pitch, where she promptly turned into a bright yellow chicken, causing cheers from the onlookers.

Nina and Jessie separated themselves from their teammates and skirted around the bewildered Madame Hooch to join Luke and James just as the Slytherin team came soaring out their entrance. They flew round the pitch a couple times, looking less than excited about actually landing.

Finally though, they all lowered themselves to the ground, and immediately went up in puffs of green. When the smoke had dissipated, there was nothing but silence, and then a wave of laughs and cheers from the crowd.

As Slytherin was looking for two new members, there were only four guys and one girl standing there. Ariane Calder had on a large, padded American football uniform, complete with green spandex trousers and silver cleats, and a silver helmet with serpents on the sides.

The boys, however, were each dressed in a green, belly-baring cheerleading outfit with silver trim. Each one of them had horrified expressions on their faces, and were feverishly attempting to cover their exposed bellies with the green and silver pompoms now attached to their wrists.

There was a howl of laughter from the normally composed Sirius, and the others turned to find him sitting on the ground on his bum, doubled over in his mirth. Between gasps for air, he stuttered, “I ne..never… I never th…thought I’d s…see L…Lucius…M…Malfoy…in… a skirt!!”

Before anyone could say anything, however, the students who were trying out stepped onto the pitch from their respective entrances. Behind them were the heads of each house, and each group correspondingly disappeared behind their house’s colored smoke.

When they walked out of it, the stadium roared. Professor Longbottom now sported his own pair of scarlet swimming trunks, gold flippers on his feet and gold arm floaties round his biceps, and red goggles with a snorkel attached to his mouth.

Professor Stanwick joined his team looking as though he wanted to throw up. He was dressed like his students, only his tutu matched his ballet slippers, and he had the addition of a bouquet of roses in his arms.

Professor Kensington had a raspberry for a head, but it was Professor Slughorn who drew the most attention. He was now outfitted like his boys, complete with belly-baring skirt and top.

What was funnier, however, was the look on his face; he seemed uncertain as to whether he ought to be upset at what could only be described as a violation, or to commend the genius behind this incredible prank.

Gathered together on the pitch, Gideon, Luke, James, Jessie and Nina all congratulated each other in between their fits of laughter. Gideon, wiping tears from his eyes, said, “Oh, thank Merlin for Americans and their American football cheerleaders!”

Suddenly, there was a tap on Gideon’s shoulder, and a familiar voice said, “For some all-too-understandable reason, you don’t seem very surprised.”

They all turned to find Headmistress McGonagall there, hovering on a broom carefully while Madame Hooch stood in her chicken suit at her side. The four house heads fanned out on either side of them, and Professor Longbottom stepped forward.

“So,” he began, pulling the snorkel out of his mouth, “Which of you will be informing us as to what’s going on here?”

“Ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me! I know,” Jessie yelled over the crowd, a grin plastered to her face, “There’s no way I’m missing credit for this!”

“And Owen wants credit, too,” James added.

All six professors looked up into the stands, where Owen was standing and saluting with a grin a mile wide.


“What do you think the professors will do to them?”

Ember tore her gaze away from James’ bare chest to look at Andie.


Andie began laughing as Ember shook her head in an attempt to clear it; she would normally be shocked at this elaborate display. Had James not been standing there half-naked with his summer-tanned chest, she would be.

“I said, what do you think the professors will do to them?” Andie repeated.

Allowing the question time to register, Ember processed it before answering, “Oh, they’re dead.” She paused a moment before adding, “Pity,” and turned her gaze back to the field. Tryouts were certainly entertaining. Especially this year, for some reason.


A short forty minutes later, the teams had their new members. Gryffindor was celebrating the addition of Shelby Jordan, a second year, to their Chaser team.

Ravenclaw had welcomed Selene Weasley as their new Keeper. Tavis Abercrombie and Adrian Gully had won the open Chaser positions.

Hufflepuff added Cody Macmillan to their lineup as a Beater and Maggie Creevey as a Chaser, and Slytherin named Abby Keller to their Chaser team and Lily Potter as their Seeker.

It didn’t take James and Sirius long to find their little sister and swoop her up, outfit and all, in congratulations.

“Lily, you did a great job!” James pulled her helmet off and scruffed up her ponytail.

Sirius hugged her as she said, “You guys are the best, you worked me so hard this summer!”

“You wouldn’t have won the spot if you hadn’t wanted it enough to work for it, Lily. You got it all on your own,” Sirius said.

“That’s right,” Lily said, stepping back to grin impishly at them, “You two better watch out, because I’m going to smack you down when we play you.”

“Oh ho, big talk from the little squirt, James,” Sirius retorted, grinning.

James laughed and hugged Lily again, releasing her when Lucius Malfoy called out, “Potter, come on, time to celebrate!”

“Bye, guys,” Lily said, beaming as she bounced off to join her new teammates.


Back in the common room, there was a mild party underway when the girls stepped through the portrait hole. They made their way over to Shelby to congratulate her before joining their friends. Daisy, Ethan and Sirius had all changed back into their own clothes, but James, Luke and Gideon still wore their swim costumes.

“So what did you think, ladies?” Luke asked the girls as they joined them.

“Very amusing,” answered Andie, quickly kissing Gideon before continuing, “The best part had to be Slughorn. Nothing will ever top that.”

“I may just need to wash my eyes out with acid,” Ember added dryly. There was a round of laughs, and she went on, “So what’s your punishment?”

Gideon laughed and answered, “Jessie and Nina will be spending six hours on Saturday cleaning out the Owlery.”

The girls grinned. While certainly a disgusting job, Jessie and Nina would find some way to use it to their advantage.

“And how about the four of you?” asked Sarah.

“We,” began Owen in his ‘professional’ voice, “are required to present ourselves to Professor Slughorn immediately following breakfast on Saturday morning for assignments yet to be determined.”

Riley grinned and looked at Sarah and Andie as she said, “Well, looks like it’ll just be the three of us, girls. What should we do with our absolutely marvelous free morning?”

Ember laughed and said, “You should sleep in. I can’t, so someone should be able to enjoy it!”

“And we could finish our homework so we can lord it over these guys later!” Andie said.

Riley then added, “And not help them with theirs!”

“What about Ember? Are you going to help her?” James asked.

“Ember’s homework will already be finished, as usual,” Ember answered for herself, “So I’ll help my girls here mock the four of you.”

She grinned then, and Gideon studied her a moment before saying, “Does she sound a little too smug to you, gentlemen?”

“She does,” Luke agreed.

Owen added, “Someone should probably take her down.”

Which left James, and all he did was cock an eyebrow at her. And when she took off, he went after her, calling out in a singsong voice, “I’ll catch you, Merriweather!”

“Not if I can help it, Potter!” she called back, leading him twice around the room before she headed toward the girls’ dormitory stairwell.

She made it two steps up before an arm hooked her round the waist and yanked her back, and James hauled her back into the common room, admonishing, “Ah, ah, ah – no fair cheating.”

He tossed Ember into a chair before sitting on her and tickling her. She shrieked with laughter and squirmed with all her might, but to no avail. Finally, she gasped out between giggles, “Okay, okay! I’ll help you with your bloody homework!”

“The magic words, men,” James grinned, and he stood up as Luke and Owen patted him on the back.

Ember slid out of the chair, still breathless, and made her way with Andie, Sarah and Riley to the stairwell. And before they all disappeared from sight, she turned around and used the only weapon she had left.

“Hey, guys?”

They stopped congratulating themselves long enough to look up at her, and she grinned and said, “Your epidermis is showing.”

Gideon, Luke and James all looked at each other, horrified, and Owen stared at her in amused disbelief as she nodded her head in satisfaction and skipped up the rest of the steps.

In their dorm room, Ember collapsed in fits of laughter, and Andie asked, “Ember, what’s ‘epidermis’ supposed to be?”

“Skin,” she answered simply, then laughed again and asked, “Did you see the looks on their faces?!”

Her friends began to laugh, and Ember went on, “That has got to be one of the lamest jokes from primary school, but oh, am I glad they didn’t know it!”

Satisfied that she’d won after all, Ember climbed into bed and fell straight to sleep.


Brownies in the feedback thread! Let me know what you think if you want some!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; October 26th, 2007 at 4:11 am.
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Old May 1st, 2007, 2:35 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
First Year
Joined: 5150 days
Location: Minnesota
Age: 41
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Re: Making It Count

All righty, I had the majority of this chapter done about four weeks ago, and then lost my muse. And yesterday, she turned up again, right in the middle of dinner.

So I finished the chapter, and I'm finally posting it. Maybe not the best chapter so far, but I'm satisfied with it.

Thanks to IMissPadfoot, as always. You're incredible, babe.

Chapter 14

A wail could be heard from upstairs and Ginny rolled her eyes before heading over to the staircase and calling, “Rebekah Danielle Lupin, you leave your brother alone and come down here!”

She stayed there, watching the ceiling as she heard footsteps, a door slam, another howl of protest and more footsteps before a blonde head peered down at her, looking guilty.

Fighting to keep the smile off her face, Ginny just waited until the small voice felt compelled to fill the silence.

“Aunt Ginny, I was just helping him!”

“Since when does Charlie need help taking a nap?”

“Um…” The eight-year-old mind sputtered and she shrugged her shoulders.

The fight to keep from smiling lost, Ginny said, “Come downstairs now, Bekah. Charlie needs a nap, and I need help making dinner.”

Bekah grinned and came thundering down the stairs now, causing another cry from her brother. Skidding to a halt on the bottom step, she cringed at the sound before looking at Ginny and whispering, “Can I make something if I promise to be quiet?”

Ginny laughed now and replied, “You can make the biscuits after you set the table.”

Ginny handed her a stack of plates, and Bekah quickly set to work on the big kitchen table. Before long, it was set as beautifully as an eight-year-old could manage, and Bekah came back with two plates in her hand.

“Aunt Ginny, you gave me too many plates.”

Not looking up from the stove, Ginny replied, “No, I gave you the right amount.”

“But there are only four of us,” Bekah replied, ticking them off on her fingers, “You, me, Uncle Harry and Charlie.”

“We’ll have two guests tonight, honey. And you’ll be able to tell them that you made the biscuits all by yourself.”

“But why would I - ” She cut off then, and Ginny looked up to see a smile light the little face up.

“My mum and dad! They’re coming home tonight!” She set the plates carefully on the counter, then did an impromptu dance in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Ginny looked up again as the back door opened, and watched Harry with a grin as he toed off his shoes and kicked them each into the shoe bin, then hung up his coat while eyeing the little girl currently spinning round the kitchen.

Watching his eyes dart around the room, first to Bekah, then the table, then the extra plates on the counter, she waited as he put it all together.

And then she lost her breath when that grin stole across his face and he scooped the girl up, making her squeal and giggle as he hugged her tight and said, “Is someone excited this afternoon?”

He spun her in a quick circle as she said, “Uncle Harry, my mum and dad will be home tonight!”

“They will? And here I thought you were just so happy to see me that you had to dance.”

He pouted at her, and Bekah laughed and threw her arms round his middle in a tight hug before drawing away to grab the plates back off the counter.

As she began rearranging the table settings, Harry made his way over to the counter where Ginny stood. Sliding one arm behind her back, he pulled her in for a kiss while his other hand sneaked round her to dip into the sizzling pan she’d previously been tending.


Bekah’s exclamation was enough to make the two of them disconnect at the mouth, and as they each turned to look over at her, she went on with her hands on her hips, “Uncle Harry, didn’t you ever learn to sneak a taste without doing gross stuff like kissing?”

Ginny’s eyes widened and she couldn’t help laughing as Harry scooted away from the swat she aimed at him while he whined, “Bekah! Didn’t you ever learn not to tattle on your Uncle Harry?”

“Maybe Uncle Harry should keep his fingers out of the food until it’s time to eat,” Ginny leveled in his direction with a smirk.

Harry shot her a wounded look, then laughed and asked, “Where’s Charlie?”

“Charlie is napping, and if you wake him up just because you want to play, Harry James, you’re going to wish you hadn’t come home early,” Ginny answered.

“Aw, man - I never get to play.” Harry pouted at Ginny before heading out of the kitchen and upstairs to change his clothes.

Ginny laughed again, then gathered all the biscuit ingredients for Bekah to mix up and said, “Okay, Bekah. It’s time for you to make these biscuits.”

Upstairs, Harry reached the landing and headed toward his bedroom, but paused when he heard a noise from inside Sirius’ bedroom. Looking behind him to make sure Ginny wasn’t watching, he opened the door to find Charlie standing up in his crib, one chubby hand rubbing at his eyes.

Charlie smiled and gurgled when he saw Harry, and raised his arms to be lifted up, promptly falling back onto his bum with a plop. Harry, a sucker for grinning children, obliged with a smile of his own and scooped the baby up.

“Hey there, champ!” Charlie wrapped his baby arms around Harry’s neck, and Harry bounced him a bit and smoothed a hand down his back before continuing, “Didn’t nap for long, did you? Bet your big sister had something to do with that, hmm?”

Charlie babbled in response, and Harry carried him out of the room with him, setting him on his bed while he changed into worn, comfortable jeans and a polo. When he’d finished, he carried the baby down the stairs with him and settled into the family room.

In the kitchen, Ginny helped Bekah slide the sheet of biscuits into the oven, then sent her upstairs to wash up before calling, “Harry? Where are you?”

“In the family room, Gin,” came the response.

Ginny wiped her hands on a towel and made her way through the house, halting in the doorway. Harry was on the floor with his back against the sofa and knees bent, cradling Charlie in his lap and playing pat-a-cake.

Her heart turned over, and for the second time that day she found herself contemplating the possibilities of having another child. Lost in thought, she didn’t notice Harry when he lifted his head to study her.

Contemplating the look in her eyes, Harry smiled a secret smile. Oh, did he have plans for her later…

Before he could elaborate on his thoughts, Hedwig soared in through the open window and came to rest on Harry’s shoulder. Charlie laughed from his position in Harry’s lap, hands outstretched toward the owl.

“Can’t play with her, Charlie. Sorry, champ,” Harry said absentmindedly as he unfastened the small scroll attached to the owl’s leg. He unrolled the note and read through it, frowning a little.

“What’s it say, Harry?”

Jarred from his thoughts, he looked up at Ginny and answered, “It’s from McGonagall. She wants to see us tonight, along with Remus, Tonks, Hermione and Ron. She’ll be here at nine.”

Ginny groaned and asked, “NOW what did they do? It’s only been a week - not even!”

Harry laughed then, and read from the scroll, “P.S. It’s not about your children, stop composing the howler.”

She laughed, then groaned again and asked, “Oh no, I’m my mother, aren’t I?”

Harry raised an eyebrow and said, “Darling, if you are your mother, then you and I have some serious relationship issues…”

As he’d intended, she laughed and opened her mouth to respond, but closed it as Bekah came barreling into the room and said, “Aunt Ginny, is it time to take the biscuits out?”

Reorganizing her thoughts, Ginny smiled and said, “It sure is. Come on, let’s get the food on the table.” She guided Bekah toward the kitchen, adding, “Come, Hedwig - I’ve a treat for you.”

Hedwig lifted off from Harry’s shoulder and soared into the kitchen as Ginny threw one last glance over her shoulder at Harry. He winked at her, then climbed to his feet with Charlie in one arm when a gentle green light pulsed twice around the wall near the ceiling. The wards around the property had alerted him to the arrival of their friends.

He made his way to the enclosed back porch as Remus and Tonks came through the door, and anchoring the wriggling baby firmly in his arm, Harry greeted them each.

“Remus, Tonks! It’s so good to see you both!” He kissed Tonks on the cheek and allowed Remus to pull him into a hug, then went on, “Did you have a good time?”

“It was work, Harry,” Remus said dryly, and Harry laughed a knowing laugh before turning to Tonks and asking, “Uh-oh. Has the Professor been a dull boy?”

She laughed and swatted at him all at once, and said, “Don’t make jokes like that with the kids around, Harry.”

Harry laughed and led them into the kitchen once their outerwear was put away, where Bekah squealed and threw herself into her father’s arms.


Remus caught her and swung her up for a hug, and Tonks hugged Ginny before claiming Charlie from Harry’s arms.

Dinner went quickly after that, with many raves over Bekah’s biscuits and much talk and laughter. Afterwards, Remus and Harry drew into the study.

“So what’d you learn?” Harry wasted no time getting to the point.

“Some,” came the reply as Remus sat back in a deep armchair, “Not as much as we’d hoped.”

Ginny and Tonks entered the room as Harry leaned against the desk, crossing one ankle over the other as he swore softly.

“Bekah and Charlie are in bed,” Tonks said as she seated herself on the arm of Remus’ chair. Ginny poured tea for all of them, and laid a hand on Harry’s arm as she handed him his cup.

“Tonks said you didn’t learn much in the States,” Ginny said, and Harry replied, “Mmm, that’s as far as we’ve gotten in here, too.”

Remus sipped his tea before going on, “What we did learn was somewhat helpful, though not necessarily good. There have been a few isolated attacks there. One in New York City, one in Houston and a third in Atlanta; all were tortured with the cruciatus before the killing curse was used.”

“Were they important people?” Ginny asked.

“In New York and Houston, only ordinary wizards were targeted. In Atlanta, they got Marnie Keyes, a prominent member of the American Wizengamot.”

Harry looked up and Ginny gasped. “We know her daughter,” Ginny whispered, and this time Harry laid his hand on her arm.

“We’ll send her our sympathy,” Harry murmured to her. She nodded, and he turned back to Remus.

“Anyone know who’s responsible?”

“It’s looking like three separate groups, although all are part of one main faction. The Wizarding communities there refer to them as Death Marchers,” Tonks replied.

“Instead of Death Eaters. Shacklebolt knows, and McGonagall?” Harry asked.

“They do," answered Remus, "I've sent word to Order members that I'm calling a meeting. Minerva sent an owl in return, saying she'd be here this evening; you got yours, I assume?"

Harry nodded. "Just before you arrived, actually. Ron and Hermione should be here soon, too."

Before his sentence was complete, a blue light pulsed twice round the walls of the study. Ginny laughed and added, "Good timing; that'll be them."

She got up to let them in and had just closed the door when the walls pulsed yellow. Rolling her eyes, Ginny reopened the door to admit a cat, saying, "Good evening, Headmistress."

The cat at once transformed, and McGonagall replied, "Good evening, Mrs. Potter. In the study?"

"Of course."

McGonagall headed that way herself, and Ginny went to the kitchen to gather another teapot and more cups. Reentering the study, she poured out for everyone, then settled cross-legged on top of the desk beside Harry, sipping from her own cup.

The small talk died down, and everyone looked at the Headmistress expectantly.

"Remus has filled me in on the details of his trip, and I understand we're to have a meeting, is that correct?"

Remus nodded and replied, "Yes, that's right, as soon as possible."

"Good," she went on, "I want it on Saturday morning at six-thirty."

Her lips twitched at the predictable reactions of the others; Remus and Tonks both shrugged - getting up early on a Saturday was no different from any other day with two small children still at home.

Harry and Ginny both sighed in acceptance. Hermione grinned; morning was her favorite time of day.

Ron laid his head back on the sofa and groaned, saying, "My first Saturday with all the kids at school, and I can't even sleep in to commemorate it?"

At this the others snickered, and McGonagall finally smiled.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Weasley, but I do have a reason." They all focused on her again, and she went on, "You all know Miss Merriweather, of course."

"Ember? Of course," replied Hermione for all of them, "We haven't seen her all summer, though. Is she all right, are her parents okay?"

"She's fine, as are her parents, so far as we know. But I'll be bringing her along to the meeting."

"Does she need help?" Remus asked, sounding concerned.

"No, not entirely," came the answer, "I think perhaps SHE can help US."

That put the light of interest in their eyes. "Does she know about what's been going on?" asked Tonks, the first to speak.

"No, I don't believe so. It's not so much what she knows about any situations, per se...it's more what she can do."

"What can she do?" asked Ron, on the edge of his seat now. Any advantage over the dark arts - or those who knew them - was a good one.

Minerva smiled slowly before saying gently, "Magic."

"Well, of course," Ron said impatiently, "But what do you mean? Has she invented something new, a curse or potion or spell?"

"No. Miss Merriweather and cauldrons do not belong in the same room together, and while I've no doubt she could easily invent a new curse or spell, that's not the case."

Hermione, leaning forward now, said quietly, "She has a new way to use magic."

Minerva grinned now and answered, "You'd get points for that if you were still in school. And yes, although it's only new to us, not to her."

The group remained silent as Hermione, mind still ticking, spoke up again, "She can do it outside of school without raising flags."

Picking up on the train of thought, Remus added, "And without a wand."

"Right and right," came the answer.

"Can anybody do it?" Harry finally spoke, watching Minerva closely.

"I'm uncertain of that. I did it, and she's helped James to do it, but she's unsure whether everyone could do it or only certain people. That's where I want you to come in, Hermione. I don't want anyone to find a way to keep her - or anyone else - from doing it. I want it explored, tested."

Hermione nodded, and the headmistress added, "And I want it kept secret. She and her friends know; I believe they plan to try to learn from her. There have been a couple incidents where she's employed it, which I will explain in a moment, but the point is that one of those times, she protected herself and nine others with it, and the only ones harmed were those intent on doing harm in the first place."

"And if it's something anyone could theoretically do, then we want it kept from those who don't know it's possible - whatever it is," supplied Ginny.


The adults sat quietly for a few minutes, each of them contemplating the possibilities, until finally Harry said, "Perhaps we'll not want a full meeting then on Saturday morning."

Intrigued, Remus sat back. "Do go on, Harry."

"Well, until we know for certain what works, who can do it and so forth and so on, maybe we ought to only have a small gathering to introduce whatever it is, and then Hermione can have time to - " he broke off, waving a hand in Hermione's direction vaguely before going on, "To do whatever it is she does."

"And then another meeting within the next week or so for everyone, perhaps," added Ron.

"A good idea," commented McGonagall, and the others quickly agreed. She quickly outlined the two times she knew Ember had used it, just giving a bare-bones description of the results, and then explained about her flower box. The group then spent the next half-hour making a short list of the Order members to include in the initial meeting, then dispersed.

Closing the door behind the Headmistress, Harry watched Remus and Tonks go up to their room before turning to slip an arm round Ginny. Together they cleared the study of teacups and went to the kitchen.

"So I wonder how exactly she does it?" wondered Ginny aloud.

"Don't know, but I'm interested to find out. I wonder how long she's known about it, been able to use it? McGonagall only said that it's not new to her," came the contemplative response. Harry was quiet before going on, "We'll have to thank her for keeping James out of trouble with the Crabbe twins."

"Speaking of trouble, mister...I thought I told you not to wake Charlie up when you got home!"

Ginny's hands were on her hips, and a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Harry grinned with no hint of apology, and lifted his hands as he shrugged his shoulders.

"He was awake! I only went in because I heard a noise!"

Her eyes narrowed as she took a step toward him. "Yeah, and Fred and George are giving up their shop."

"It's true!" he protested, "He was standing up on those chubby little legs and rubbing his eyes, and his face just lit up when he saw me. How was I supposed to leave him there?"

She snorted as she shook her head, and answered seriously, "Harry, you're such a softy."

Harry grinned again and said just as seriously, "Ginny, you like it."

She looked at him with an eyebrow cocked, and he sent a wicked grin back at her before murmuring, "Better run."

Ginny's eyes widened and she took off with a laugh, Harry close behind her.


So there you go - I hope you enjoyed reading!

Please let me know what you think! Come on in, the water's fine!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; November 9th, 2007 at 5:53 pm.
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Old June 14th, 2007, 5:42 am
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
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Re: Making It Count

I absolutely cannot believe this chapter ended up going onto 18 pages...

That said, I just couldn't bring myself to split it up. So here it is, the whole long mess of it. I'm super-pleased with it, so I really hope y'all enjoy it.

Thank you as always to Karen - you know I'd never get anywhere without you.

And extra-special thanks to Kristin - you really made this one sing for me. You're totally the genius-er-est-er-est-est-er. Times infinity, no backs.

Chapter 15

Saturday dawned with a cold brilliance most often reserved for crisp, winter mornings, and Ember shivered as she slid out of bed at five. She spent a few extra minutes under the hot shower spray before slipping into her skirt and jumper. As she turned to leave the room, there was a soft tap at her window. Looking up, she found Athena there, waiting patiently on the sill.

The morning air elicited an involuntary shiver as she let her owl in and untied the scroll attached to her leg. Fishing a treat out of the small bowl on her nightstand, Ember fed it to Athena, who hooted softly and pecked once at the scroll before leaping back out the window and soaring toward the Owlery.

Ember closed and fastened the window latch, then unrolled the scroll. In bold, somewhat messy printing, she read:


The Headmistress has no idea I’ve sent this, so don’t tell her, okay? Before you go to her office, please go up to James’ room and steal that bit of parchment he always carries but never uses; I’m sure you know which one I mean.

It is a map of the school. Tap it with your wand and say, ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.’ The map will appear, and it will tell the location of anyone in the castle. Use it to avoid people on your way to the headmistress’ office. When you get there, tap it again and say, ‘Mischief managed.’ The map will disappear. Put it away and don’t let her know you have it.

Maybe leave James a note, so he doesn’t go spare trying to find it when he finally drags his bum out of bed. You shouldn’t have a problem sneaking it out - he sleeps like the dead. Unless, of course, Gideon wakes up - you might have trouble, there. You’re intelligent. You’ll figure it out.

As you may have guessed, your ‘detention’ will not be ordinary, so I won’t be worried about confusing you too badly when I say we’ll see you soon.

Harry Potter

In neater printing just below it were the words:

P.S. Don’t eat anything - you know Molly’s going to want to feed you. Leave some room in your belly or she’ll never be satisfied. - Hermione

Ember stifled a giggle, then tucked the letter into the inside pocket of her robes and left the room silently. She left the robes draped over a chair in the common room and quickly jotted a note on a small piece of parchment, then climbed the stairs to the guys’ dormitory. The door opened without a sound, and Ember paused to thank Merlin.

Most doors in the castle creaked, as any old castle door should. This one, however, housed four of the school’s most prolific pranksters, so they made sure no one could hear them coming and going by keeping their door and windows well-oiled.

She took three steps into the room, then froze when Gideon rolled over in his bed. He was now facing her, and Ember stood there a moment before reaching for her wand. Quickly, she tapped her own head and silently disillusioned herself. Satisfied that she was now essentially invisible, she made her way over to James’ bedside stand, where his parchment rested just beneath his glasses.

Ember lifted the glasses and picked up the blank, folded parchment, replacing it with her note. The note simply said:

J -

Needed some extra parchment. Promise I’ll replace it later.


Ember gently set his glasses on top of it, then ran her fingertips over the parchment now in her hands. So this was a map, was it? No wonder they always seemed to know where everyone was. She grinned at the picture now in her head of the boys’ panic when they all read her note. They’d think she really just used it for an assignment!

Glancing at Gideon’s clock, she decided it was time to go. She turned and left the room, carefully closing their bedroom door, then dashing down to the common room and making sure it was empty before re-illusioning herself. She took a few moments to tap the map with her wand and said quietly, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

Words and lines began appearing across the map, and Ember watched in fascination as the entire school and grounds became visible. She turned it this way and that until she found herself, then took ten steps, watching in amazement as her name ribbon followed along.

“Incredible,” she murmured, and quickly donned her robes before heading out through the portrait hole. As she made her way to the Headmistress’ office, she ruminated about the map. No wonder those boys always knew where to find everyone, and how they got away with just about everything.

I’m not entirely sure I like that they can see where I am at any given time, she thought. I wonder if there’s a modification I can make, something that won’t show where I am?

At five minutes to six, she was standing at the entrance to the phoenix statue. Having run into no one along the way, she now tapped the map and said quietly, “Mischief managed.”

The map and words began to disappear until only blank parchment remained, and Ember tucked it back into her robes as she said more boldly, “Open, sesame.”

As the stairwell came into view, she heard from behind her, “Easier this time, Miss Merriweather?”

Ember started, then turned to see Professor Longbottom standing there. Smiling, she answered, “Much easier, Professor.”

He nudged her up the stairs and into Headmistress McGonagall’s office, where Ember was told to wait and the Headmistress said, “Neville, if you would join me for a moment?”

The two of them retired to her inner office, leaving Ember alone in the circular room.

“December, good morning,” greeted Dumbledore’s portrait.

“Good morning, Professor. Are you well?”

“I am, thank you. A busy morning ahead of you, I hear.”

Ember threw a grin in the portrait’s direction and answered blandly, “Indeed, Professor. Detentions are my preferred method of keeping busy.”

Dumbledore chuckled as the Headmistress and Professor Longbottom returned, and Ember squared her shoulders and faced them.

“Good morning, Miss Merriweather,” McGonagall said, sparing her a brief smile.

“Good morning, Professor,” she replied smoothly.

Launching right in, the Headmistress began, “Miss Merriweather, we will be leaving Hogwarts grounds in just a few minutes. Your detention will not be a traditional one, as I’m sure by now you’ve deduced.”

Not feeling an answer was required, Ember simply nodded. McGonagall went on, “When your classmates ask what you were doing, you will tell them that you spent your time scrubbing chamber pots for Madame Pomfrey. They are not to be informed of what happens this morning until such time as their parents see fit to tell them. Is this clear?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good. We will be traveling by floo powder; I am told you have done this before?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Ember repeated, “several times.”

“Then we’ll be off. We are going to the Order of the Phoenix headquarters. Albus?” Minerva turned now, looking at Dumbledore’s portrait.

Dumbledore said to Ember, “The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix are located at number 12, Grimmauld Place.”

Lifting an eyebrow, Ember nodded, then looked quizzically at the Headmistress, who explained, “Headquarters is under the Fidelius charm, Miss Merriweather, and Professor Dumbledore…”

“Was its Secret Keeper when he died,” Ember finished for her.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “Now, Professor Longbottom will go first, then you, Miss Merriweather. I will follow.”

Stepping over to the fireplace, Professor Longbottom dipped his hand in the small urn kept on the mantle. Tossing the powder into the flames, he stepped in and said, “Number 12, Grimmauld Place.” And with that, he disappeared.

Ember went to the mantle next and did the same, closing her eyes for the brief spin before tripping out into a dark, dank room and landing flat on her bum.

Almost immediately after, the Headmistress stepped out of the grate, then looked with some shock at Ember, who’d stayed put, looking at her surroundings until a pair of knees appeared in front of her.

The person they belonged to had a smile in his voice as he spoke, “Still haven’t quite perfected that exit, December.”

Looking into Remus Lupin’s kind face, Ember grinned up at him and took the hand he offered, allowing him to pull her into a quick hug before answering, “Apparently not. I just can’t get the hang of it.”

He laughed, and Tonks stepped up then, also sweeping her into a hug before adding, “At least I’m not the only one anymore!”

The next five minutes were spent being intensely fussed over by Molly and Arthur Weasley, a process which Ember did her best not to scream about; this much attention was not her cup of tea. Before she knew it, she’d been pressed into a seat at the kitchen table between James’ and Gideon’s fathers.

A plate bigger than her head was set in front of her, and Mrs. Weasley smiled kindly at her and said, “Eat up, dear, I’m sure you haven’t eaten a thing yet.”

Molly went back to the sink, muttering under her breath, but all Ember caught was, “Girl looks like a pole…”

Ember looked at the food piled high on the plate and sighed, and James’ dad leaned over and said quietly in her ear, “Eat what you can, then move the rest around to look like you’ve eaten more - that’s how I do it.”

Ron snorted then and said, “Nonsense - I’ll eat what she doesn’t.”

“Honestly, Ronald, haven’t you just finished your own plate?” Hermione said, sitting down across from them.

“Yes,” came the reply, “but why waste the food, or give Mum a reason to keep muttering?” he pointed out reasonably.

Hermione rolled her eyes and Harry chuckled before looking at Ember, who had just taken a mouthful of toast and scrambled eggs. Glancing at McGonagall to make sure she wasn't listening or watching, he said to Ember, "Did you get the map?"

Still chewing, she made a strangled sound of protest and looked at him in annoyance as she pointed at her mouth. Harry laughed and said, "Sorry."

She reached into her robes as she swallowed and handed the map to him under the table while she answered, "Now I know where James gets it from!"

"Where James gets what?" Ginny asked as she took the seat next to Hermione, then added, "Hey, Ember, haven't seen you for a while.”

“Hey, Mrs. Potter,” she replied, “And I meant James gets his habit of talking to people when their mouths are full from Mr. Potter.”

Ginny and Hermione both snickered, and suddenly Hermione slapped across the table at Ron. Jumping back a bit, Ember looked at her plate and discovered Mr. Weasley snaking a piece of bacon away.

She laughed then and said, “No, let him. There’s no way I’ll even make a dent in this pile.” She managed another slice of toast with some eggs and one piece of bacon before pushing the plate away and picking up her pumpkin juice.

“So why did you want me to bring that map, Mr. Potter?” she asked.

“Well, mainly so none of them would have kittens if they looked at it while you’re here and discovered you weren’t on school grounds,” Harry answered, spreading it out in front of himself and tapping it with his wand silently.

Hogwarts grounds slowly began spreading in inky lines across the parchment, and Harry quickly found the boys. “Good, they’re still in their beds.”

Ember laughed and answered, “It’s not even six-thirty, Mr. Potter, and it’s Saturday to boot. They won’t be out of those beds for another couple of hours, yet.”

She paused as he looked up at her and grinned. He went back to looking at the map, and she asked, “So what were your other reasons?”

“For what?”

“Wanting the map.”

“Oh,” he replied, “We’re going to make another, as well as one each for the Ministry, St. Mungo’s, Diagon Alley and Gringott’s.”

“All those places asked for them?”

“No, they’ll be for Order use.”

“Is something going on that requires them?”

At this, Harry looked up from the map and peered at her for a moment before answering, “I think you’ve weaseled enough out of me for the moment, Ember.”

Before she could protest, her plate was pushed back in front of her, now clean, and she saw Gideon’s dad smirk as Mrs. Weasley came back to the table to collect it.

“There, Ginny, you see? I told you she was hungry. Cleaned her plate.”

Ginny rolled her eyes behind her mother’s back and stuck her tongue out at Ron, who chuckled as Hermione rolled her own eyes at him.

Both women shared a look, then distracted Ember from Harry and his map by drawing her into a conversation about her holidays. By the time Ember realized they were doing a thorough Mom-type debriefing, he had left the table with Mr. Weasley to join Mr. Lupin at the fireplace.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Lupin stood and called those in the room to attention, directing them to the drawing room.

Ember stood and joined the adults when Professor McGonagall motioned her over to them and said, “Come along, Miss Merriweather.”

Everyone was very quiet as they walked down the hall, some talking in low voices. Wondering if someone was ill or resting, Ember glanced around the gloomy corridor. Taking in the paintings and the dark draperies, she noticed a large set of drapes covering what didn’t seem to be a window when several things happened in quick succession.

It took Ember a moment to piece it together in order, but once she did, all she could do was stare. Tonks had turned to look at Mr. Lupin, promptly running into – and consequently tripping over – the biggest, ugliest umbrella holder Ember had ever seen in her life.

Not a second later, the drapes Ember had spied flew open and a portrait behind them began shrieking out obscenities, things that no decent witch or wizard would even consider saying.

At the same time, the front door opened to admit a couple who looked suspiciously familiar to Ember. The newcomers took one glance at Tonks on the floor as the entire group groaned in unison, “Tonks!”

“I’m sorry!” she cried in response, yelling to be heard over the screaming from the portrait, “Harry, I asked you to get rid of this bloody thing!”


The new couple quickly closed the door and the man hauled Tonks to her feet as Ember stepped up to the portrait, still shocked at what she was hearing. Mr. Lupin stepped up to one side of the portrait as Mr. Potter mirrored him on the other side, and they both began attempting to tug the curtains closed when suddenly, the shrieking stopped.

Each adult froze and turned to look at the portrait, where a decrepit woman was peering down at Ember with suspicious appraisal. Hermione stepped up behind Ember and laid a hand on her shoulder, and the portrait barked at her, “Get your filthy hands off the child!”

Hermione dropped her hand, and to Ember, the old woman snapped, “Girl! What is your surname?”

“Merriweather,” Ember answered promptly.

“Of Reginald Merriweather?”

By now, Hermione was glancing at the Headmistress, who seemed just as baffled as everyone else.

“No, ma’am, my father’s name is Tyler.”

Impatiently, the woman snapped, “Is there a Reginald Merriweather in your family tree?”

“No, ma’am,” Ember repeated, lifting an eyebrow before adding defiantly, “I am Muggle-born.”

The group around her sucked in a collective gasp as the old woman’s face contorted in rage, and the shrieking began again in earnest. In response, several other smaller portraits along the hall began yelling as well.

Mr. Lupin and Mr. Potter once again began to pull at the drapes as a few others worked their way down the hall, stunning the smaller portraits. The other adults began to file into the drawing room, but Ember stayed where she was, glaring mutinously at the woman.

Ginny broke away from the others and grasped Ember’s hand, drawing her into the room off the hall just as Harry began to curse back at the portrait. All Ember caught before the sound cut off was, “- old woman, or I’ll take a knife to you just like your son did to another portrait at…”

In the drawing room, Ember whirled around and began firing questions.

“To whom does this house belong?”

“It belongs to Harry,” answered Ginny carefully.

“To whom did it belong before that?”

“Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, who inherited it from his parents,” Hermione answered this time.

“The woman in the portrait?”

“Sirius’ mum.”

“Sirius Black was not a pure-blood fanatic. I’ve heard the stories, I know what happened. Why would he leave something like that on the wall of his house? More to the point, why would Mr. Potter allow it to remain there?”

“Because Mr. Potter can’t get it down,” answered Harry for himself, “any more than his godfather could.” He looked over at Ginny, a sigh in his eyes that he didn’t release.

Ember turned to look at him, one eyebrow cocked. “Can’t get it down? Why not?”

“Mrs. Black put it there – along with a few other choice items – with a permanent sticking charm,” Hermione answered.

“A permanent sticking charm? And no one’s found an alternative yet?”

“Miss Merriweather, that’s quite enough,” Professor McGonagall broke in, “Have a seat.” She gestured to the chair beside herself. After a brief staring contest, Ember gave in and sat in it and the adults began seating themselves.

Andie’s dad stepped to the front of the room, and Ember listened silently as he began speaking.

“Good morning. I know it’s early, especially for a Saturday -”

Ron snorted and grumbled good-naturedly from where he stood near the door, leaning against the jamb, and there were assenting murmurs from the others in the room.

Remus grinned and continued, “But with all that’s been happening lately, meetings will be more frequent. This morning is informal, and I’ll let Minerva explain herself.”

Ember watched as Professor McGonagall stood and switched places with Mr. Lupin, who sat beside Ember and gave her shoulder a squeeze.

“As you are all aware, I requested a special meeting for this morning. I have something to show you that I’m sure will be of use to us, and I requested the group of you because I feel you represent most of the various reactions we’d get from the whole Order.”

There were nods and smiles, and the Headmistress continued, “We don’t yet know what the ramifications of this will be. Because of this, I have to request that no one says a word to anyone outside this room. I want to have the opportunity to test, to learn and practice and plan.”

She turned then and said, “Miss Merriweather, if you will join me?”

Ember did as she was told, aiming a suspicious look at the Headmistress, who ignored it and once more addressed the group, “Miss Merriweather would like to show you all how she uses magic.”

At this, Ember gave the Headmistress a look that plainly said she’d lost her mind and said, “No, I would not!”

There was an audible gasp from Hermione, and the Headmistress narrowed her gaze at Ember, who refused to be cowed and went on, “This is rather harsh for a detention, Professor. I don’t see how my actions justify this kind of punishment. I think expecting me to just abandon a way of life is out of line.”

“Miss Merriweather, I did not ask you to abandon a way of life.” The Headmistress’ voice was dangerously thin, and Ember watched her for a moment, gauging the best way to explain herself.

Knowing she was treading on thin ice, she said carefully, “With all due respect, ma’am, you did. I know the Order was Dumbledore’s brainchild, and I know that what the lot of you do is important. But what I do is important to me, and you’ve just asked me to give that up right in front of the Minister of Magic himself.”

She turned then to the Minister and added, “No disrespect to you either, sir.”

Ember turned back to the Headmistress then, who gazed at her appraisingly. Before she could speak, however, a deep voice said, “Minerva, if I may?”

Both turned to find the Minister of Magic himself standing now, and the Headmistress nodded and stepped back. Facing Ember head on, he said, “I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced. I am Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic.” He held his hand out to Ember and waited, silent as a sentry.

Merlin, he’s huge, she thought, staring at him a moment before allowing his hand to swallow hers as she replied, “December Merriweather, sir.”

“I am pleased to meet you,” he said before releasing her hand.


“Miss Merriweather, I have no idea what it is you can do. But anything that can be of help to the Order is of the utmost importance, not only for us, but for the Wizarding and Muggle worlds as well.”

He paused to let it sink in, but Ember knew politics when she heard them and immediately fired back, “If that’s true, then why have you a known Death Eater among your ranks?” She gestured to the couple seated on chairs at the rear of the drawing room as she spoke.

A sardonic voice rang out, “Granger, I believe you may have met your match in this one.”

“Oh, shut it, Draco,” Hermione answered with an air of boredom, then went on, “Ember, there’s a charm on the doorway. Once the door closed, everyone inside became bound by the agreement to keep to themselves and those in this room anything that transpires here today.”

“Including the Minister?” Ember asked, lifting an eyebrow.

“Including the Minister,” he answered for himself, “And because I think you need to hear it, I was a member of the Order long before I was the Minister of Magic.”

Ember nodded to show she’d understood, then said, “I only just turned sixteen. I have a year to go before I can legally use magic, as it is defined by the Ministry, outside of school. I want to know that you will not find a way to keep me from doing what I have always done come the summer holidays.”

The Headmistress looked like she wanted to dress Ember down, but the Minister said, “You have my word, Miss Merriweather.”

Ember looked him dead in the eye, and after a moment, was satisfied he’d keep it. Quietly, she said, “Well then, I suppose I have some explaining to do.”

Everyone settled back, and Ember took out her wand. She held it out in front of herself, then shrugged and tied her hair back with it, saying, “I won’t be needing that.”

“Why not?”

Ember looked up and focused on Hermione, then said, “I don’t know. I just don’t. Neither will you, if you can do it.”

Silence greeted this statement, and Ember waited as they each took in the meaning of it. The ability to do magic without a wand was a huge advantage, and if more people could do it, then losses sustained could be cut dramatically. When she thought they’d had enough time, she glanced round the room at each of them, and music came pouring into the room from seemingly everywhere.

She smirked as everyone jumped and several of the adults slapped their hands over their ears – she’d chosen Muggle rock-n-roll, and not everyone was into it as a raw voice began chanting, “Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap…”

Ember glanced at Professor McGonagall, who looked like she might just up and leave immediately, and had pity. The music stopped as suddenly as it had started, and after a moment, Harry said, “How did you do that?”

“With words,” Ember replied, “Nothing more, nothing less.”

“What words?” This came from Gideon’s dad, still propped against the doorjamb.

“Any words. I can do it again, out loud, if you like.”

There were nods and murmurs, and the Headmistress said, “Not that cacophony again, Miss Merriweather.”

Ember smiled and looked at her. Knowing she’d pushed her far enough for the day, she answered obediently, “Yes, ma’am.”

Looking back to the remainder of the room, she said, “Play some music for all to hear, light and pleasing to the ear. Turn it off at a word from me; as I will, so mote it be.”

Music filled the room again, this time Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto number 2, Allegro. As it played, Luna said, “Oh, the Half-Winged Blimblefeathers love Shostakovich.”

Ember lifted an eyebrow, but no one in the room even blinked, so she shrugged and looked at Ginny, who finally asked, “How do you stop it?”

“Fin,” said Ember, and the music stopped. Everyone just stared at her, and Hermione took the initiative and asked, “Any words will do?”

Ember nodded, and Hermione continued, “In rhyme, as you did?”

Again she nodded, and began explaining Wiccan life and how it centered around the Rede. She paused every once in a while to be sure they were understanding her, then continued on.

When she’d finished, Professor McGonagall explained how Ember had used her words to protect herself and her friends, and then told them about the flower box as well.

From the back of the room, Ember watched as Draco Malfoy unfolded himself from his chair. He looked as though he didn’t quite believe any of this was possible, and said quietly, “Light the fire in the fireplace.”

Ember looked him dead in the eye and said, “Life from breath, flame from spark, fire in the hearth to ward off dark. Warmth to feel and light to see, as I will, so mote it be.”

Flames roared to life behind the grate and Mr. Malfoy glanced at it, then said, “Make your wand do tricks.”

Ember rolled her eyes and pulled her wand out of her hair, laid it flat in her palm, and replied, “Lift and hover, dance and bend, turn over twice from end to end. Back to my palm, easy and free, as I will, so mote it be.”

The entire group watched as her wand lifted from her palm, hovered for a moment, then began to dance around. It bent itself into a deep bow, turned end to end twice, then settled back into her hand. She anchored it in her hair once more, and looked defiantly at Mr. Malfoy.

He sneered at her, took three steps toward her, then yanked out his wand and pointed it at Neville, saying, “Ustilo.”

A red welt appeared along his cheek, and he yelled out in pain from the burn. Ember leapt toward him, saying, “Professor! Are you all right?” There was no answer, only a grimace of pain, and she looked at Mr. Malfoy and hissed, “What is WRONG with you?!”

He grinned triumphantly and said silkily, “Fix him.”

Ember, incensed now, soothed her fingers gently over the burn as she said, “What in disdain another has harmed reverses as I spin this charm. Heal this burn, make it clean, by the power of one times three. As I will, so mote it be.”

As her fingers smoothed over the edge of her Professor’s hairline, the welt faded completely. There were a few small catches of breath, and suddenly, Mr. Malfoy himself howled in a mixture of pain and indignation.

The adults turned to look, and found scored across Draco’s face the very same burn, except it looked nastier and was already blistering. Ember alone was unsurprised, and the Minister said, “I thought you said using it to harm would be like using an Unforgivable.”

“That’s right,” Ember answered shortly.

“Miss Merriweather, you just harmed someone.”

“No sir, I did not.”

“Then why is Malfoy burned?”

“It wasn’t me doing the harming – that was just a side benefit. Mr. Malfoy -” she paused to aim a dirty look at him, “- caused the burn. I healed it.”

The Minister rubbed the fingers of one hand at his temples, and Hermione said in a voice full of dawning comprehension, “The rule of three.”

Ember nodded, and explained, “Wiccans believe firmly that what you give will come back to you threefold; good things bring good things, bad things bring bad things. Karma, in a way.”

Understanding seeped into their faces, and Professor McGonagall said, “Are you going to fix Mr. Malfoy?”

With no semblance of remorse, Ember said, “I can’t undo something he brought on himself. He’ll have to suffer with it until it heals on its own, or find another way to ease the pain.”

She spared him a glance, then added with a grim smile, “And perhaps he’ll think twice before tossing around harmful curses in the future.”

Everyone stared at her for a moment, and she stared back until Mr. Potter looked away and aimed a soothing spell in Malfoy’s direction. Ember rolled her eyes before going back to the front of the room to stand beside Professor McGonagall, who stood.

“I think that’s just about enough. I will be taking Miss Merriweather back to the school. Hermione, I will owl you later.” Everyone got up and began filing through the doorway, quietly treading down the hall until Ember stopped in her tracks, turned around and walked back to the covered portrait she loathed.

She looked up at James’ dad, who’d stopped beside her, and asked quietly, “Can I take this wretched thing down?”

His eyes widened a little before he said, “If you think you can, then you’re welcome to try.”

Permission given, Ember took her wand and aimed it at the curtains, murmuring, “Patesco.” They slid apart, and in surprise Mrs. Black blinked and stared at them all in uncharacteristic silence for a moment before she began screeching.

All the other portraits began howling again as well, and with a look of abhorrence Ember opened her mouth and said with quiet concentration, “Reverse the charm and show the fate of she whose blood ran black with hate. No longer to darken this home, this hall, give peace and warmth and welcome to all. Three times what thou gave returns to thee; as I will, so mote it be.”

In her peripheral vision she saw Mr. Potter draw his ear away from where he’d been leaning over her shoulder. Realizing he’d wanted to hear what she said, she nodded at the picture and said simply, “Watch.”

There were several gasps and a small shriek from someone behind her as the woman in the portrait burst into flame. Her screams went from anger and hate to pain and fear, and Ember looked away as the skin began to slide grotesquely from the bones. She stepped away to stand at Mr. Lupin’s side, where he curled an arm around her shoulders and began guiding her back down the hall toward the kitchen.

Ember looked back before going through the doorway, just in time to watch the frame of the painting fall forward off the wall. As Mr. Potter caught it, arms outstretched and wonder on his face, she turned back and stepped into the kitchen.

She stared into the fire, unseeing, until a voice broke into her thoughts.

“Are you all right, Ember?”

She looked up at Andie’s dad and nodded before answering, “I’m fine; I just didn’t want to see it. I’m not sorry for it.”

He looked at her evenly; condescension would get him nowhere with her. After a moment, he said, “Nor am I. What’s eating at you?”

“Nothing,” came the automatic response.

After another few seconds of silence, he prompted, “Must be a pretty big nothing, because it definitely looks like a something.”

Ember smiled, as he’d intended, then she sighed. He watched as she mentally gathered her thoughts, careful to wipe the “dad” look off his face before she turned to look at him.

“She deserved every lick of flame. But it’s damaging, in a way, knowing exactly what becomes of those who won’t change their ways. It’s hurtful, the knowledge that someone could – would – harbor such hate.”

She wandered around the room, stopping here and there to look at a picture or examine a piece of china, and his eyes followed her as she went on, “I know it sounds strange; I must sound like a blooming idiot. It just never fails to amaze me how blind people can be. It makes me want to fight, to make right all the wrongs in the world. But taking on the world and all its evils is a mind-boggling thing, and sometimes I just want to crawl under the covers and hide from it all.”

She snorted derisively, then looked back into the fire and murmured, “Not very Gryffindor of me, is it?”

“On the surface, maybe not,” came the answer, “But the heart of a Gryffindor lies deep beneath the surface, covered layer by layer with human emotions, thoughts and abilities. Courage and love thread straight through the heart, anchoring all the other layers.”

Ember turned to look at him, and he went on, “Life – and the living of it – requires courage. Living it and sticking to what you believe, regardless of the various emotions you feel or thoughts you have at any one time, regardless of what happens around you, regardless of the consequences of what you make happen – that takes the kind of courage Godric Gryffindor valued.”

He paused, then smiled indulgently before adding, “And baby, you have that in spades.”

She was within arm’s reach, so he snatched her up into a hug, then set her away from himself to look at her and said, “You know you can owl me whenever you need to talk. The offer is always open, I don’t know why I keep having to remind you.”

“Because I’m a teenager who doesn’t listen to sense?” she answered, grinning now.

Mr. Lupin rolled his eyes at her and moaned, “Don’t I know it.”

They both laughed, and Ember sobered and said, “Honestly, though – thanks.”

He patted her shoulder as the kitchen door opened and people began filing in. Professor McGonagall was looking at Ember as she asked, “Are you ready to go, Miss Merriweather?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

As the Headmistress turned to find Professor Longbottom, Mr. Lupin leaned down and whispered, “You are SO in for another detention; you know that, right?”

Ember nodded and sighed, “I know it. I was insubordinate.”

He snickered – at her, she was sure – and said, “Got it in one. Maybe work on that a bit, hmm?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said, moving away as Professor Longbottom said, “Headmistress’ office, Hogwarts!” and disappeared in a flash of green flames. Ember grabbed a small fistful of floo powder and did the same, then tripped out into the office with what ended up being a somersault.

The Headmistress stepped out of the grate a moment later to find Neville brushing off his robes and Ember once more on the floor, this time flat on her back. Turning away quickly to hide the smile that threatened, she schooled her face back into seriousness before stepping behind her desk.

She watched as Ember got to her feet, brushing her robes off and then standing beside the chair opposite the desk. She remained silent a moment before she spoke.

“You will report to Madame Pomfrey tomorrow morning at six for a real detention, Miss Merriweather.”

Ember nodded, unsurprised, and replied, “I was rude to you this morning, Professor, and I’d like to apologize for it.”

“Accepted,” the Headmistress said, nodding, then said, “Go on, enjoy the rest of your day.”

Ember grinned, then turned and dashed out of the office. She stopped at the bottom of the staircase and was pleased to discover the map tucked back into her robes – Mr. Potter must have slipped it in when the Headmistress wasn’t looking.

She tapped it with her wand and murmured, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” then began making her way toward her dormitory, watching the map for activity.

As she climbed the stairs, she muttered a quick spell over the map, pleased to see her own name ribbon disappear. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to be there when the guys discovered she wasn’t on the map. She giggled to herself, then focused on it again, intrigued as she stepped through the portrait hole into the Gryffindor common room.

Luke and Owen were in the showers, but James and Gideon appeared to be racing around their dorm room. As soon as she saw their ribbons head toward their door, she said hastily, “Mischief managed,” and tucked the map away in her robes as she snatched a book off the nearest table and positioned herself in the chair facing the stairwell to the boys’ dorms.

Sure enough, feet came thundering down the steps, so loudly that even she heard them clearly. Not a second later, James and Gideon burst through the doorway, looking around wildly before their eyes locked on Ember in the chair.

She just managed to paste an innocent expression on her face before looking up at them as they shouted in mild panic, “Ember!”

Her jaw dropped open. Gideon was wearing pajama pants and a t-shirt, his hair sticking out in several different directions. James was in nothing but boxer shorts, his own hair doing a suitable impression of a rat’s nest and his glasses sitting crookedly on his nose. Both of them had looks of barely-concealed terror on their faces.

As nonchalantly as she could manage, she said, “Morning, guys – you do realize you probably woke the entire dorm, right?”

Ignoring her question, they rushed over to where she sat. Gideon grabbed the book out of her hands and began shaking it as James plucked her right out of the chair, set her aside, then began searching the sides of the cushions.

Smirking to herself, she straightened her expression once more and asked, “What’s the matter?”

“The ma-” James began, but broke off when Gideon slugged him in the arm.

Gideon looked at Ember and said, “The parchment you borrowed, did you use it?”

Feigning confusion, Ember began patting her robes as she said, “I think so, I was finishing an essay…”

She trailed off, still checking pockets, and both James and Gideon tossed themselves onto the sofa in two large heaps, groaning in what could only be anguish.

Fighting back a massive bout of laughter, Ember pulled out the folded map and said, “Oh, wait, maybe I didn’t… You mean this?”

Both boys sprang off the sofa as suddenly as they’d heaved themselves into it, sighing in audible relief, and it was all she could do to keep from laughing out loud as she said, “I ended up having just enough to finish what I needed, and to send an order for more.”

She paused, grinning now at the sight of both of them staring at the folded map.

“You can have it back, if you’d like.”

“Yes!” they nearly shouted in unison, and James grabbed it out of her hand when she held it out to him. He and Gideon then ran back up into their own dorm, and when she finally heard their door close, Ember collapsed back into her chair and laughed until she cried.

When she’d calmed down enough to clean her face and fix her makeup, she summoned her rucksack and settled down with a book to wait for her friends to come down for breakfast, a smile still turning up the corners of her mouth.


Is it sad that I'm thoroughly enjoying my own chapter so much?

Seriously though, thanks for reading!!

Please, let me know what you thought! Must...have...feedback...


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; November 9th, 2007 at 6:25 pm.
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Old August 22nd, 2008, 10:13 pm
Psyche3  Female.gif Psyche3 is offline
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Re: Making It Count

It has been FOREVER, but I finally managed to finish this chapter!

You may need to reread the last chapter to remember what's going on - I had to do so several times!

Anyway, please enjoy.

Chapter 16

After a particularly disgusting morning the following day, Ember went to lunch with her friends, scourgifying her hands and arms several times before she got there. She looked up as she arrived at the table to find all seven of them grinning at her and muttered, “That was so nasty, honestly.”

“You didn’t actually scrub them all by hand, did you?” Luke asked. At his shocked expression, Ember huffed out a breath.

“She took my wand, guys – what did you expect me to do?”

“Er, say a rhyme and clean them like that?” James responded, exasperation crossing his features. She had the tool of a lifetime at her disposal, yet chose to do things the hard way? Sometimes – a lot of times – he didn’t understand her thought processes.

She rolled her eyes. “Right, and have to do something three times worse later because I cheated? I think not.”

The day before, she’d told her friends about her detention…or lack, thereof. She found she’d been unable to tell them about what had happened in the meeting itself – Gideon’s mum hadn’t been joking about that charm – but she explained where she’d gone and whom she’d seen.

Slipping onto the bench between Gideon and James, both of whom automatically made room for her, Ember plucked a ham sandwich from the plate and took an enormous bite. Eating her lunch, she listened to her friends chatter until James straightened suddenly and said, “Oh!”

He fished around in his robes a moment, coming out with a letter.

“You missed the post this morning, Em – this came for you with Hedwig. Why’s my dad writing to you?”

She swallowed her mouthful and wiped her hands before taking the letter from him. A puzzled look stamped across her face, Ember replied, “No idea.” She already had it half open as she continued, “Let’s find out.”


Headmistress McGonagall whisked you away yesterday before I could speak with you again, so I’m sending a quick note.

I wanted to thank you for bringing the item I requested to the meeting, but more so for your actions afterwards. There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to express my gratitude at the removal of that which darkened my halls. We can finally breathe there now and I know my godfather is so pleased.

There’s no way I could ever repay you; I’m sure you’ll neither expect nor request such. All the same, please be aware and understand that if you ever need or want anything, you have only to ask.

Eternal gratitude,
Harry Potter

In a mirror of the note she’d received early the previous morning, Gideon’s mum had added a note of her own to the bottom:

P.S. You truly have no idea what you’ve done for him; allow me to be the mom I am for a minute and remind you to just be polite and accept it as best you can.

In other news, I will be arriving this evening to begin working with you. Meet me in the Room of Requirement after dinner; Gideon, I know you’re reading over her shoulder, I think it’s time you boys let the girls in on that map. Do it when you’re showing Ember how to find and get into the RoR. Ember, I will see you then. - Hermione

Ember looked up as Gideon groaned out, “Mum!!”

James swiped the letter and read it with the rest of them crowding around to read over his shoulder while Ember looked at Gideon and asked, “What’s the Room of Requirement?”

Before he could do more than groan at the loss of their dearest secret, Riley looked up from the letter first and asked, “What did you bring to him, Ember?”

James was quick to follow with, “We don’t have any dark halls, what’s Dad on about, Em?”

Sarah wanted to know why Hermione was coming and Owen and Luke just mirrored Gideon’s scandalized look.

Unsure of whom she should answer first, Ember looked around at her friends, but was momentarily saved by Andie looking at Gideon and asking curiously, “What map?”

James’ head whipped around so fast Ember thought she heard his neck snap, and he narrowed his eyes at Andie and asked, “What did you just say?”

Gideon sighed and said, “Try reading my mum’s post-script, idiot.”

James snatched the parchment back up and read the bottom, nearly moaning out a low, “Nooooo!!” before looking up and announcing, “Gideon, I’m going to hang your mum on a broom by her toes and send her on an aerial journey round all of Devon.”

“Get in line,” Gideon growled. Luke and Owen nodded in agreement as the girls stared at them curiously.

After a few seconds, Riley turned to Ember and asked, “Do you know what they’re on about?”

Smothering a giggle, Ember said, “I think so. They’ve a map, one dreamed up and made by James’ granddad and his buddies when they were at school. It’s a map of Hogwarts – every floor, every dorm, every level, every classroom, even the grounds up to the Forbidden Forest – and it tracks everyone in the school at all times.”

She paused as the four boys groaned collectively, then went on, “That’s what James’ dad asked me to bring to him - ”

“You knew?” Gideon burst out, cutting her off, “The whole time we were panicking, you knew!”

Now she did giggle, nodding as she admitted, “Mm-hmm – and you have no idea how hard it was to keep from laughing!”

They stared at each other, Ember snickering and Gideon glaring until Sarah broke them up by announcing, “Anyway…I want to know what the Room of Requirement is, and why Gideon’s mum is coming here to see you, Ember.”

Sighing, Gideon responded, “We’ll show you everything after lunch. I, too, however, would like to know why she’s coming here.”

In a perfect imitation of the headmistress, Ember answered, “I’m not allowed to tell you until your parents see fit for you to know.”

All seven of them stared at her a moment, then Riley suddenly stood, marched straight up to the staff table and began conversing with her father. Within a minute, she was striding back to the group and grinning. Once seated, she said, “Permission received,” then folded her hands on the table in front of her and grinned like the Cheshire Cat.

Only three seconds passed before Gideon dug several sheets of parchment out of his bag and passed them around to Sarah, Owen, Andie, Luke and James. Each of them hastily scribbled a pleading a note to their parents, then left Riley and Ember sitting in the Great Hall while they trooped off to the Owlery.

An hour later, the eight of them were in a corridor on the seventh floor. A very strange painting of a man teaching trolls to dance ballet hung on one wall; opposite was an empty stone wall.

James, having explained how the map worked, had handed it to the girls to use as the boys led them toward the Room of Requirement. It was now held loosely in Riley’s hands, and all four girls were watching Gideon pace back and forth in front of them.

“What are you doing?” asked Andie curiously.

“The Room of Requirement,” Owen answered for him, “does not show up on the map, nor does it just sit open to everyone. It’s thought to be Unplottable and will only appear for someone who has need of it.”

Picking up the lesson, Luke added, “To get in, you have to pace back and forth in front of it three times while concentrating hard on what it is you need. After you’ve done that, the door will appear…”

He trailed off as a door appeared in the blank wall, and Gideon gripped the handle and said, “Come on, then.” He opened the door and Owen, James and Luke swept inside. Gideon looked to the girls, each of whom stood with eyes wide and jaws hanging open.

“Well?” he prompted, and Andie moved first, the other three close behind. Gideon followed, pulling the door shut after him, and Luke continued from earlier, “Once the door appears, all you do is enter. You’ll find the room always stocks itself with whatever it is you need.”

Sarah lifted an eyebrow and said, “We needed another common room?”

Gideon rolled his eyes, “I didn’t know what would show up; I simply concentrated on what we needed, which was to show you girls the room.”

They spread out, looking around at everything for a while before Riley asked, “So how long are we going to be here?”

Frowning at her, Andie asked, “Why?”

“Because I have to use the loo, folks.”

Suddenly Sarah let out a shout of surprise. Ember turned to look and felt her eyes widening as she said, “No way.” A small room with a door had appeared in the corner nearest Sarah as Riley stated her problem. Ember ran over to it and flung open the door, finding a toilet and a sink inside and exclaiming again, “No way!”

The guys each chuckled as Andie and Riley raced over to look as well, then Riley said, “If you’ll excuse me a moment,” and closed herself in.

Ember turned to the guys and asked, “If it’s Unplottable and doesn’t show up on the map, how did the lot of you stumble across it?”

All four of them grinned, fondly remembering the first time they were fleeing as a unit from Filch. Owen laughed and answered, “Pulled a prank, made the mistake of doing it while Filch was a couple corridors away.”

“Ran for our lives,” James added, “and got cornered in the hall out there. The door appeared and we rushed into what ended up being a perfect-sized broom closet for four first-year boys in trouble.”

Riley stepped out then, closing the door and announcing, “Much better.” When the latch clicked into place, the small room disappeared again.

Before anyone could say anything else, there was a tapping sound in the room.

Everyone looked around for a moment before Andie laughed and said, “Our parents sent the owls back!” She ran to the window, only tripping once on the way, and opened it to admit six owls.

Riley and Ember sprawled out on one of the sofas and watched their friends sort out whose letter was whose. A few moments later, there was a collective whoop of joy – everyone had received the required permission from their parents.

All gathering near the fire, they each settled into comfortable seats as Ember began filling them in on the Order meeting and what had happened. She detailed the reason James’ dad requested the map (“Man, we have GOT to learn how to make our own!”), Mrs. Weasley’s attempt to make her eat enough food to feed an army troop (“That’s Grandma for you.”), the surprising presence of one Draco Malfoy (“But he’s a Death Eater!”), the Minister’s promise to her (“That’s so awesome, Ember!”), what had happened with Riley’s dad (“What?! That no good…”), the decision to test and experiment (“So that’s why she’s coming.”) and the importance of keeping the ability a secret (“Well, for Merlin’s sake, of course it’s got to be kept secret.”).

Everyone remained silent when she finished, letting it sink in and forming their own questions and opinions. After a while, James spoke up, “None of that explains, though, why Dad would feel the need to offer you anything in the world.”

Ember looked at him a moment before answering, “I can’t tell you where I was, even with permission given; it’s protected under the Fidelius charm and the secret keeper was Dumbledore.”

She paused as they each looked at each other, then went on, “But there was a painting on the wall there, one that spouted obscenities and trash and all sorts of pureblood nonsense, one that was stuck to the wall with a permanent sticking charm. They’d have taken it down several years ago if they’d been able to do so; it ****** me off, so I got it down. My way.”

“And this was important to Dad because…” James prompted.

Ember shrugged and said simply, “He owns the place.”

“What place?”

“James, I don’t know what information I can give you without touching the boundaries of that charm.” James looked away, then turned back again when she went on, “But your parents gave you permission to know what happened there, so I’m sure they’ll tell you if you ask them. They’ll know I’ve told you what I can, anyway.”

Andie poked him then and added, “Yeah – try a little patience, prat.” This caused a bit of tussle, and the whole group broke out into laughter, easing the tension.

Later that evening after dinner, the eight of them made their way to the seventh floor corridor, where they came upon Hermione pacing in front of the empty wall. She held up a finger to shush James as he opened his mouth to call a greeting, then turned on her heel and made one more pass before the door appeared.

As she tugged on the handle to open the door, she said to James, “No one saw you, no one’s following?”

He quickly consulted the open map in his hand and confirmed that no one was wandering near, answering, “We’re clear.”

“All right, everyone in, let’s go.”

She waved them in, and they stepped into an entirely different room than the one they’d hunkered down in for most of the afternoon. Gone was the replicated Gryffindor common room; in its place was a large room with several cushions piled in one corner, two entire walls covered with books, a simple table with plenty of room to work and a wireless playing soft music and a few sofas and chairs grouped in a wide circle around a fireplace.

“Ahh, this will do nicely,” Hermione said, setting her bag down on the table and drawing out a few scrolls of parchment. Selecting one of the scrolls, she unrolled it and added, “First things first – I need the seven of you to sign this.”

“Eight, Mum,” Gideon absently corrected, stepping up to take the parchment from her. He read out loud for everyone to hear, “I promise not to use what I see and/or learn here until testing is complete. Furthermore, I swear never to reveal same to any other person without express prior permission until such time as this contract is broken.”

Turning to face her again, Gideon asked, “Mum, what happens if we break the promises outlined?”

“I wouldn’t advise doing so,” Hermione answered, adding breezily, “You’d regret it in more ways than the obvious curse built into the parchment. And only the seven of you need to sign it; Ember is excepted because the Minister made her a promise.”

“What if we don’t sign?” asked James.

“Then you don’t stay,” came the firm reply, “I will explain this once: The potential of this power is huge and as yet untested. Anything, theoretically, could be possible, and that kind of ability is never something to be taken lightly. The possibility of unlimited power can corrupt faster than a snitch can change direction, with exponentially damaging consequences.”

She paused long enough to look each of them in the eye, then went on, “What you see here, what you hear – all of it is now classified. You will speak of it to no one beyond each other and certain Order members. You will not use it outside of testing until I have deemed it complete and even then, I expect each of you to exercise keen judgment, to think before you act. You are nearly adults; now is the time to earn trust and respect. You start by giving it.”

Finished, Hermione laid the parchment on the table and held the quill out, watching them all with an expectant look on her face. Gideon was the first to step forward and sign his name; the others soon followed. Pleased, Hermione rolled up the parchment and tucked it away, then turned to Ember.

“Shall we begin?”

Ember gave her a doubtful look, then said, “I’m ready when you are, but I don’t know what you think we’ll accomplish.”

Hermione chuckled and spread out a thick roll of parchment sheets covered in her neat script. “I have note upon note here, research and ideas, thoughts and concerns; we’ll be busy for a while. But for now, we’ll just see what kinds of things you can do.”

She flipped a couple pages, stopping and reading before standing. Ember pulled out her wand, but Hermione shook her head.

“We’ll start with simple. Stand in the middle of the room. I want you to do what I ask; speak out loud please, so I can hear the cadences and rhymes, what you make specific and what you leave vague, all right?”

Ember nodded, slipping her wand back up her sleeve she moved to the center of the room. The other sixth-years took seats on the sofas to her right as Hermione pointed her wand around the room silently. Piece by piece, the room seemed to shut itself down beginning with each of the windows closing. The curtains drew themselves shut, the fire in the hearth went out, the temperature in the room lowered and the music from the wireless went silent as all the lights went out, leaving them in utter darkness and absolute silence.

Ember used the opportunity to focus her mind, then huffed out a laugh when Luke’s voice drifted across the room, “Huh. Somehow, this isn’t what I expected death to be.”

Everyone began snickering, quieting only when they heard Hermione say affectionately, “Honestly, Luke.”

Relaxed now, the room fell into silence until Hermione went on, “Ember, turn around in a few circles, please.”

There was a pause before Ember lifted an unseen eyebrow and asked, “Are you trying to make me land on my bum?”

Hermione laughed then and responded, “No – I just want you disoriented. I want the memory of the room’s layout erased so we can start at absolutely nothing.”

“OK,” Ember replied, still doubtful. She turned in what felt like a few tight circles, then stopped and waited for her brain to catch up, announcing, “I think I’m better off deaf than blind.”

Her friends laughed to her left, replacing the nothingness with an image of the room once more, and Hermione said, “OK, once more now. And no talking when finished except to tell me when you’re ready.”

Ember wheeled around again, this time actually dropping to her knees to recover before standing again and announcing she was ready.

There was no response for a short breath, and then she heard Hermione say, “Put some music on, please, something soothing and quiet.”

Thinking for a moment, Ember searched her brain for a suitable piece before intoning, “Canon in D, quiet and soft; fill the room with sound held aloft. Continue to play till addressed by me; as I will, so mote it be.”

The music drifted in, filling the room softly from above their heads. “Nice choice,” Hermione said, adding, “Fill the ceiling with tonight’s stars, but not the moon.”

Frowning, Ember muttered, “Tonight, tonight - ”

“It’s the ninth,” Hermione supplied.

“Thanks. Sunday, the ninth of September, year of two thousand eighteen; stars of the heavens mirrored bright, high up on the ceiling. I beg the Lady stay hidden as was requested of me – all due honor is given still; as I will, so mote it be.”

The ceiling promptly lit up, drawing a gasp of wonder from someone. Hermione looked up, picking out a few stars here and there as she asked, “The Lady – that’s the moon?”

“In this case, it is. The moon is a celestial being, as is the sun, as are the stars and constellations. Real or imagined, it’s always wise to respect them for what they provide to us, especially when asking them to diminish themselves.”

Ember heard a quill scratching out a note, tilting her head back to follow constellation outlines with her eyes as she waited for the next command.

“All right, warm us up. Light a fire, please.”

Smiling, Ember closed her eyes and repeated her spell from the previous morning. Flames burst to life in the hearth and the smile widened as she felt the warmth on her back; now she had her bearings.

Opening her eyes, she smiled at her friends over her shoulder before turning to Hermione and asking, “What next?”

They continued working, Hermione giving her an eclectic mix of things to do. Before long, she had everyone in a circle around Ember, tossing jinxes and hexes and various charms at her while she repelled them with only words.

The clock in the corner chimed nine, startling everyone. Andie looked at it and asked, “Wow, where did the time go?”

Shrugging, Hermione answered, “No idea, but we should stop now or we’re liable to be here all night. C’mon, we’ll clean up and I’ll walk you back to Gryffindor tower.” To Ember, she added, “Well done tonight.”

It was Ember’s turn to shrug. “Thanks. It was all pretty tame stuff, though.”

“I know – next time will be a little harder, and after that we move into experimental territory.” Turning to the boys, Hermione asked, “When do you hold practices?”

“Thursday evenings, for the most part,” Gideon replied, “Why?”

She nodded, “I think we’ll stick with Sunday evenings then, at least for a few weeks. We’ll see where we are then.”

Ember nodded in agreement, and Hermione said, “All right, here we are.” Gideon hugged his mum and dropped a kiss on her cheek without prompting; James and Luke did the same after she cocked an eyebrow at them, making the girls and Owen snicker.

A one-armed hug followed for Owen, Andie, Riley and Sarah, after which Hermione laid a hand on Ember’s shoulder and said, “See you next week.” Then she turned and made her way easily down the stairs, even remembering to hop over the trick step.

Entering their common room, the sixth years quickly moved up to the boys’ dorm before imperturbing it, then sprawling out across the room. Ember listened to her friends from her perch on Luke’s bed, tapping out a fast tattoo with her toe on the bedpost while furiously writing out letters.

“Man, I’m going to feel that hex tomorrow,” Riley rolled her shoulders and whined, referring to the stinging hex that had rebounded on her earlier in the evening. There were murmurs of commiseration from Sarah and Luke, who’d also been walloped by rebounding jinxes.

Gideon, propped against his bedpost with Andie’s head in his lap, said absently, “Note to self: Don’t send anything that will hurt me upon return.” Laughter ran through the room along with a few “right on” comments thrown in.

“I wonder what she’ll have you do next week, Em,” Andie commented, looking over at her friend, who was now getting up and beginning to jump up and down on Luke’s bed.

“No idea,” came the answer as she continued jumping around like a little kid.

Andie sat up and asked, “Ember, why are you jumping on the bed?”

Her friends all stared at her, confusion and amusement swirled in their eyes as she replied, “Too much energy. That much magic coursing through, I have to work it off.”

“By jumping on the bed?” Riley asked, nearly wishing she was small enough to get away with the same thing...it looked so fun!

“There are theoretically more effective ways, but as I’m neither married nor significantly attached to someone, I can’t really make use of them at this point in time, nor would it be entirely practical at my age.”

This admission took a few moments to sink in before jaws dropped and shouts of laughter rang out, and Ember added, “Even after I finish jumping on the bed, I’ll be up all night looking for other things to do.”

“That’s not what happened the last few days,” Gideon said, frowning.

“I haven’t used enough at once to warrant it the last few days; it’s only been small bits here and there. Tonight, it was several uses of varying degrees within a small space of time. The room wasn’t crackling with energy, but my body is,” came the explanation.

“So you won’t sleep? Does Mum know?”

“Doubtful; I didn’t think of it till we got back up here. And it doesn’t hurt me any, so stop worrying, Gideon. My body will have adjusted by tomorrow night.”

“Have you done this before, then?” asked Owen curiously.

“Sure, when Mum would test me as a kid, and for coven gatherings with my mum and dad.”

“How did you work off the energy those times?” Sarah tossed in.

“I somersaulted around the house in between bouts of jumping on the beds when I was younger. More recently, I tend to opt for cleaning; our kitchen and bathrooms were literally sparkling by the time I wore down,” Ember replied, drawing a few grins.

Riley yawned and piped up, “You’re wearing me out just watching you, Ember.” She got up to stretch and added, “Going to bed, boys and girls. Good night.”

The rest of them chorused, “Good night!” in return, then Andie and Sarah stood up, too.

“Let’s go, Ember, let Luke have his bed back,” Sarah said.

Ember made one last jump before leaping to the floor and saying, “Night, guys.” They returned the farewell, and the girls left the room, heading for their own dormitory.

They’d just reached the base of the girls’ staircase when a door on the boy’s side banged open and Gideon’s voice called out, “Wait!”

He ran down the stairs and, catching sight of the three of them, said, “Sarah! Quick question.”

Sarah, looking confused, walked over to him; they conversed for a minute before coming to an apparent agreement.

Turning together toward Ember, Sarah asked, “Would swimming keep you busy enough to work some energy off?”

"Well, sure it would, but there's no pool at Hogwarts, you know that. And I am not swimming in the lake," came the firm answer.

“Well, we could give you the password to the prefects’ bathroom and - ” Gideon started, but Ember cut him off.

“No, I don’t want any of the other prefects waltzing in for whatever reason and getting the two of you in trouble, or myself, for that matter.”

“Then there’s always the Room of Requirement,” Gideon replied, pulling the map out of his pocket and handing it to Ember, “Just think about a place to work off excess energy, and see what it provides you with.”

Ember did what he suggested, soon finding herself pacing in front of the wall and concentrating on a place to work off her energy. When the door appeared, she opened it and stepped inside, pulling it shut behind her before deactivating the map.

Turning to look, she found a very large swimming pool with swimming lanes all marked out. Around it was a track on which to run, in one corner sat weights, and in another were mats and a wireless. That, she assumed, was for dancing.

Looking longingly at the pool, she wished she had a swimsuit with her. Hogwarts didn’t have a pool, so she never packed it; swimming in the lake wasn’t an option. Sighing, she headed toward the weights, nearly there before she noticed a table along the wall piled with towels and a red-and-gold swimsuit lying beside them.

Eyes wide, she laughed and darted over to the table, grabbing the suit and holding it up, then quickly shucked off her clothes and shimmied into it. It fit perfectly, of course, and after dipping a toe in to test the water (it was plenty warm), she dove in.

The following evening, after classes and dinner and homework had been done, the sixth years were back in the boys’ room. James, Sarah and Luke were on the floor, playing a game of Exploding Snap while Ember was perched on James’ bed, watching the game on the floor and humming to herself. Andie and Gideon were cross-legged on Gideon’s bed with a chess game, Owen was on his own bed, doodling on some parchment and Riley was on Luke’s bed, writing her mum a letter.

Gideon had announced, “Checkmate!” several times before Andie threw a piece at him and complained, “I give up. Ember, you want to match wits with him for a while?”

There was no answer. Unfolding herself, Andie asked again, “Ember? You awake?”

From the floor, James, Sarah and Luke looked up at the small figure sprawled across the foot of James’ bed, and Sarah began giggling.

“Is she asleep?” asked Owen, leaning off the end of his own bed to get a glimpse.

James grinned and said, “Oh, she is gone.”

They all snickered amongst themselves for a few minutes before Riley said, “It’s getting late, anyway, girls.” They said their goodnights, kindly woke their friend and headed off to bed.


I can't believe this hit 12 full pages after all that time I spent blocked! Go figure.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and please, let me know what you think!


Have you ever, like, walked naked to the fridge in the middle of the night to get a drink or something, and then you realized that someone saw you? And then you realized you're kind of into it? If not, then it never happened to me, either. Ever.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Check out my next-gen fanfic, Making It Count - and let me know what you think!

Proud member of the IBP (Insane Becky Posse)

Last edited by Psyche3; August 23rd, 2008 at 2:27 am.
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