Chapter Nine: Aid

Benefactor,

I have nothing new to report on the target. He goes to class; he eats, sleeps, and goes to the bathroom at eleven at night like clockwork. He is very boring. I have noticed that he is possession of a very small bladder.

His blond friend is a smart aleck of your caliber. The flower child is testy. I think his friends are friendly in a more than friendly way.

My observations will continue. Rest easy in the fact they are not Dust dealers.

Signed,

Agent Flowers

Lucy rolled her eyes, Edmund insisted on the use of their childhood codenames. This was the third letter from Edmund related to his stalking of Albus on her behalf. She was really thinking about changing hers from Benefactor to something a little more intimidating, but inconspicuous. She would have to think about that later.

She rolled the parchment back up and held the tip over a nearby candle. The letter caught fire and began to burn slowly as Lucy's mind wandered down the possibilities of her future. She could start her own spy ring someday; having intelligence on dealings in the Wizarding World would be fantastic. The heat from the burning paper grew too hot on her fingers; Lucy dropped it and muttered a freezing spell that quickly dispersed the flames before rising to her feet and leaving the empty dorm room to go to class.

The corridors were filled with the sounds of students talking to their friends on the way to class, but Lucy was walking by herself today. Grimalkin had gone mouse hunting early this morning to some obscure part of the castle and Merlin only knew where Ollie was.

Lucy felt her jaw tighten. She knew something like this would happen someday. Ollie was the kind of person who got along with everyone. Lucy knew he would find other friends and leave her for other (more fun) people. That was fine, if that was the case, she did not need him.

Lucy started down the main staircase and made it halfway down before swearing violently as her shoe got stuck in something sticky on the steps. As the flight of stairs began to move to another floor. Lucy gripped her leg and tried to yank it out of the sticky bile.

"Damn it! What the hell is this?"

She pulled and pulled, but her foot would not come up unless she wanted to leave her shoe behind. If she did that she would to walking to class in one shoe or no shoes at all and that would be unacceptable.

Lucy pulled another couple of times, cringing at the warm, squishy noise that the substance made as she did so. Wait, this stuff was warm. If it was suddenly exposed to cold air, Lucy might be able to break out of it. She took a deep breath and felt the temperature around her drop fast and hard. She could see her breath in front of her face as she took out her wand and pointed it at the stuff her shoe was stuck in.

There was a loud crack, as Lucy broke free and scampered down the stairs to knock the large chunks of Boogie Goodie off her shoe. She recognized it from Uncle George's shop. Lucy kicked the bottom stair a couple of time and knocked off very little of it before pulling out her wand and using a cleaning charm on her shoe and only removing small crumbs. Lucy gave up on the third time and resumed her walk to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.

Lucy continued to fume over the possible damage to her shoes as she turned the corner to the Defense hallway. Her temple pounded harder when she noticed who was blocking her way into the classroom.

Imogen Varnham had a firm grip on the boy's arm while she giggled obnoxiously in front of the classroom entrance. Lucy felt her eyes try to roll themselves back into her skull. Her laugh was high pitched and it grated on even Lucy's tone-deaf ears.

Even with the fourth year boy's obviously questionable taste in the female half of the species, Lucy could not help but let her eyes linger on him for a moment longer then was really necessary. He was a traditionally handsome boy, dark hair and eyes, tall and slender. The fact he was running around with Imogene Varnham told Lucy that he was not very intellectually inclined.

Lucy did not understand this sudden need of her peers to run about in a romantic fashion with the opposite sex. She thought most boys were stupid or shallow; she was friends with the ones whose company she enjoyed. She could not see herself snogging Ollie, or Aubrey for that matter. She had no time or inclination for romance.

Imogene looked over Lucy and met her eyes, Imogene's mouth turned up in a boastful smile before turning her attention back to her boyfriend.

Lucy rolled her eyes again and walked into the classroom. Earlier this morning, Ollie had gone to talk to Dominique about Quidditch again and admire her chin or some such nonsense (she and Dom had the same chin for Merlin's sake); the boy had become even more ridiculous since the start of the year.

She put her books down at an empty table in the second row and opened the book Gramps had sent her for reading on magical genetics by a muggleborn named Miranda McCoy with degree in muggle science. Heavy reading but very fascinating, he said it something worth thinking about. He promised to send her a book by the same author who had some things to say about sorting students into houses.

The core of my theory of a latent magic gene showing up in a muggleborn child goes beyond a magical ancestor (potentially a squib) in the family tree. When there is no other wix in the immediate family, how does one gauge how powerful magically this child will be? A magical genetic study the M.S.S. (Magical Science Society) has done over the last couple of decades has shown that if power parents are magically powerful than their offspring will be as well. That theory would explain why some magical children have an easier time with non-verbal incantations if both of their parents are active in practicing this skill.

"Hogwash and poppycock." Lucy muttered as she turned the page. "It's pure skill and practice."

Hot smelly breath touched the back of her ears as a gaggle of girls leaned over there desks behind where Lucy was sitting to whisper in her ears. Lucy kept her eyes forward, knowing exactly who was violating her space by gall alone.

"You know Lucy, maybe if you acted more like a girl you could get one to. You know, wear a little makeup to cover the bags under your eyes. Grow out your hair."

"And got rid of the glasses."

Then the giggling started. Lucy could not articulate a response. She knew she was not pretty. Boys, she figured, would never find her pretty, especially with truly beautiful girls like Dom, Molly, and Lute in the room.

"Yeah, those glasses are ugly."

She was intelligent. That would have to be fill everything she could want on a personal level. Let her cousins' be funny, feisty, and charismatic. Let them be beautiful. Lucy would be the smart one. That was all right…

Really…

The girls dispersed to the back row quickly when Ollie arrived. They did not bother Lucy as badly when he was around. Some things, Lucy thought, stayed between girls. He looked back at the whispering group before putting his books on the desk next to Lucy and moving behind her

"Guess what I found," He sang as he pulled a piece of parchment out of his pocket.

Ollie leaned over her shoulder for a look, the goggles around his neck banged against her shoulder and upper back. The parchment he had given her was very brightly colored in a deep indigo color and an orange circle in the middle behind two crossed wands. The bottom read 'Dueling Lessons over holiday break.'

Lucy bounced excitedly in her chair, forgetting momentarily about Ollie hovering over her and felt the top of her head collide with his chin. Ollie yelped and moved up and took a step away from Lucy as she clutched the top of her head and hissed in pain. Ollie rubbed his chin and sat down in the chair next to Lucy while his eyes started to water.

"Ollie, I am so sorry." Lucy reached over to touch his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

He started to laugh. "Yeah! I've been hit harder in practice. Wow that hurt. You have a really hard head." He rubbed his chin and winced through watery eyes. "Ow." Lucy stood and put her hands on his shoulders and guided him into the chair next to her. "I need a minute."

"Sure." Lucy set the flyer on the corner of her desk and gave Ollie a minute to compose himself.

Ollie moved his jaw around and opened and closed his mouth to make sure everything was in the right place. His eyes dried and he started to laugh again.

"Have you heard the latest on the rumor mill?"

"No, I thought the rumor mill was Lute's department?"

"Lute told me to tell you not to go to downstairs the main staircase. Your cousins did something awful to it."

"You're too late. I made it to the third step before I got stuck in Boogie Goodie. I'm going to kill them."

Lucy motioned to the sticky stuff that still covered most of her brown loafers. The cleaning charms she had tried were ineffective. Lucy was bad at charms to begin with. She would try other methods of removal when she got back to the dorm.

Dueling lessons would be so exciting! Lucy had always thought herself more of a fighter than a scholar. Gramps said she was fast on her feet and just needed to practice and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some basic instruction. Her mum said she had learned to duel during bar fights in her youth, she said it was the best way to learn. There was no way her dad would let Lucy or Molly into a bar to find out if that was true.

With that thought the professor walked into the room. Lucy straightened in her seat as the class grew quiet. It was a little hard to look him in the eyes after he scolded her and Ollie last time he pulled them aside at the start of the year.

He smiled at Lucy and Ollie as he did before almost every class before motioning James and Fred to the empty seats in the front row. Lucy grinned as they walked past her. Professor Rothschild appeared to be well aware of James and Fred's penchant for trouble and wanted to be certain they never started any in his class.

Oo0Oo0

After a class on defending oneself from redcaps, Ollie scampered off because he had a quick errand to run and he would see her in muggle studies. Lucy took off in the opposite direction towards the classroom before Imogene and her ilk could corner her.

It was a long walk to the classroom that gave Lucy plenty of time to think. She had been fighting with herself on and off about Nerissa's plight. She did not like her much, but Ian was nice and he was beaten senseless in a Hogsmeade alley. If she wanted to do this, she would talk to her friends about it first.

Lucy walked into the muggle studies classroom and dropped down into her seat. She was so tired.

'I bet Ollie's making moon eyes at Dominique again…' Lucy had propped her chin on her hand and looked at the watch on her wrist. Class was set to start in five minutes. Professor Sullivan was preparing for the lesson at the board. Lucy's eyes fluttered closed, a few moments to rest her eyes would be well deserved.

"Um… Lucy?"

Lucy opened open eye to get a look at the speaker. It was Ian Fairbairn with pink tinged cheeks and a grin, turning in his chair in front of her for a chat. Lucy sat up straight in her chair. This was new. Usually Ollie was the only one who spoke to her before and after class.

"I never got to thank you, for saving me in Hogsmeade."

"It's no big deal, you don't have to thank me." It was easier to sound snappish than accept the praise she felt was unjustly earned.

"Well, I really want to thank you and if you ever need anything, let me know and I'll be glad to help."

"I'll keep that in mind."

Ian's smile widened, his gaze lingered on Lucy a little longer before he turned back to face the front of the class. Lucy stared pensively at the back of Ian's blond head. That seemed like a carefully considered action, his speech was stiff like he had said it a few times in front of a mirror. Dad was apt to do that before his work presentations when her mum was unavailable.

She needed to write a letter to her dad. Lucy decided to do that this evening; she needed to know if her parents had made holiday plans yet. While she did want to go home for the holidays, she had a few housekeeping chores to do here at Hogwarts.

There was a tap on her shoulder and a male voice whispered, "Boo!" in her ear. Ollie plopped down in the open seat next to Lucy and started drumming his fingers on the wooden desk.

"What took you so long?"

Ollie smiled and his face got pink. "I was talking to Dominique about Quidditch strategies, she wants to try the pincer movement I recommended."

"Good for you, you're moving up in the world aren't you." Lucy tried not to sound sarcastic. Dominique was Ollie's favorite topic of discussion for the last three days, he had managed to hold Lucy hostage to his quiddich practice stories all of which involved her cousin doing something amazing on a broom or off of it.

"Yeah I am, she said she would like to run some more ideas with me later. She's so cool, Lucy!"

Ollie began to ramble again and Lucy found her gaze focusing intently on the back of Professor Sullivan's head trying to force the thought of starting class through his skull through sheer force of will.

Her fingers drummed the desk with a strong rhythm from a song Lute had been singing under her breath for three days. It was now stuck in Lucy's head now and the urge to replay the chorus on the wireless was suddenly pulsing through her brain.

I waited to long,

You turned up cold.

Dancing through fire,

Ashes, and dust!

Betrayed by your lover,

I wish I got to you first!

Why could she only remember the chorus to every song she liked? Lute said something about it the chorus to most songs being fun and repetitive. It made the listeners remember the song.

"Dominique said that the Tornados' Keeper is notorious for showing off broom stunts in the middle of a match when there is nothing going on in his side of the field. Apparently he does handstands on his broom. Dom's trying to teach herself how to do that and she asked me to go help her this evening after practice." Ollie's face went pink and his voice dropped to a whisper. "She's incredible."

If Lucy had to hear one more word about Dominique, she was going to scream.

Oo0Oo0

That evening, Lucy and Ollie were sitting in the common room waiting Aubrey to get back from his last class. Lute said she was going to go practice her music in an empty classroom and she would meet them in the Great Hall for dinner when she was done. In the meantime, Lucy was reading a book and Ollie was lying on the floor staring at the ceiling.

Ollie sat up and grinned broadly as Dominique stepped into the common room from the girls section of the dormitory with her broom resting on her shoulder. Dom's hair was short and spiky and she only had a couple of inches on her head now. She said it made her feel awesome when her hair was not hitting her in the face when she was flying during her quidditch game.

The short hair suited her actually. It gave showed off Dominique's face in a way that long hair did not. Lucy touched her shoulder length hair subconsciously, she had thought about just cutting it all off over the summer too, putting it back all of the time hurt her scalp. Molly was usually the one to corner Lucy and do something with her hair and she did was kind of rough about it. There was a lot of pulling involved when girls did things to their hair. Lucy adjusted her headband by pushing it back slightly to make sure it stayed tight to her scalp the way she liked it. She had thick, plain hair. Maybe she should cut it off herself one day.

The boys behind Lucy began to elbow each other and whisper about Dominique. Lucy had seen this routine many times. One or two would eventually try to get Dom's attention in really stupid ways. The last one tried interpretive dance in the middle of Diagon Alley. Molly and Dominique's responses were to fall to their knees in tears from a combination of laughter and mild allergies.

Dominique ignored the boys and gave her cousins a smile before walking over to Ollie. Ollie's resemblance to an overgrown, and overexcited puppy grew by the second. Lucy rolled her eyes when he started bouncing on the balls of his feet. He really was like a puppy.

"Ollie, if you have any free time now I'm heading down to the pitch to work on that broom trick. Do you have time to spot for me?"

"Yeah, plenty! " Ollie nodded and moved for the boys dorms. "Let me grab my broom real quick."

Ollie made a run for the boys' dorm and jumped over a conspicuously placed foot and onto the first stair to start his ascent.

Lucy looked at Dominique, she seemed quite at ease with the stares of their housemates on her that were there for two reasons, her beauty and for asking a thirteen year old to spot for her latest flying escapade. Why ask Ollie for help when there were surely more experienced teammates to ask?

The noise from the others in the common room filled Lucy's ears as she looked around for Aubrey. Her eyes passed over Fred and James in the corner as they huddled around a map and whispered to each other. If Ollie was going to run off with his new friend than Lucy was going to talk over the job offer with Aubrey. He should both be back to the common room in an hour.

Lucy burrowed herself deeper into the chair and picked up her book on the end table next to her and waved goodbye to Ollie and Dom as they walked out of the portrait hole. The room slowly began to clear out within the next few minutes as students decided to go and get something to eat from the Great Hall. Lucy continued to wait.

The common room was now empty.

This book was absolutely delightful.

The clock chimed and Lucy closed the book as soft footsteps entered the room from the direction of the portrait hole.

"Hey Lucy," Aubrey said as he rushed upstairs to the boys dormitory and was back downstairs a couple of minutes later. "Ready for dinner?"

"Yeah, I was waiting for you to come up, I need to talk to you about something important and I want your honest opinion."

"What did you do?"

"Nothing yet, I'll tell you everything on the way down for dinner."

Oo0Oo0

Aubrey's mouth hung open after Lucy finished telling him everything Nerissa had said to her. They two of them were halfway down to the Great Hall and Aubrey seemed to be struggling to find the right words to describe what he was thinking. Lucy just felt conflicted about this whole situation.

"I'm not sure I should do this. I'm interested in what's going on here, but do I really want to help them by doing it?" Lucy stuck her hands deeper into her robe pockets. She was trying to press them through the thin pocket fabric at this point.

"If she's asking you for help, she must be scared." Aubrey said quietly as a couple of students ran past them and turned around the corner.

"Than she should take it up with a teacher."

"Hypocrite," Aubrey whispered loudly. "When do you go to anyone for help?"

"True," Lucy stopped and turned to face Aubrey directly. "I don't like these girls, why should I do something to benefit them?"

"It's the right thing to do. People do not deserve to live in fear. Also, letting this continue without trying to put a stop to it is not part of your personality. I don't understand why you asked me to begin with."

"Because I am not a dictator, and this is a group of equal members. If there are any objections I won't press the issue."

Aubrey paused and smiled, "You said you don't like the Reformation anyway, why not unmask the junior members?"

Lucy laughed, feeling better than she had in the last few hours. "Alright, alright." She stopped and put her arm in front of Aubrey suddenly. "Hear that?"

"See that?" Aubrey pointed to students who had broken into a run in the corridor ahead of them.

Aubrey started to jog ahead while Lucy looked back behind her quickly before matching pace with Aubrey. They turned the corner to reveal the scene of a full on brawl.

The shouts and screams were becoming more audible and drawing more passersby to the scene. A first year Slytherin girl was trying to get away from the mess of flailing limbs and rogue jinxes that was trying to pull her in. Lucy and Aubrey grabbed her arms as she tripped and pulled her away. An older student took a swing at Lucy's head with his fist; Lucy pulled the girl down with her as his fist hit the wall behind them and cracked as his knuckles broke. Lucy punched him in the stomach causing him to double over so she could get Aubrey and the girl away from this mess.

The girl clung to Aubrey while Lucy shifted her hold from the girl's arm to the back collar of Aubrey's robes and pulled them along the wall and around the corner as older students and faculty arrived to put an end to the fray.

She was too scared to talk, the only thing she was able to do was hold tightly to a confused looking Aubrey who was whispering comforting things to her as he rubbed her back. The Headgirl walked over to the girl and was able to lead her away and down to the hospital wing for a calming drought leaving Aubrey and Lucy behind to watch the rest of the students be shooed away and lead to the hospital wing.

"This is sad," Aubrey whispered, as he stuck his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall as Lucy followed his lead. "How are we going to get to the root of this?"

"Playing a better game." Lucy stated calmly as she watched a girl with the bloody, awkwardly hanging arm get carried off on a stretcher. "I don't like seeing children get dragged into stuff like that. I can understand why Nerissa was asking for help now."

"Yeah, that boy who tried to punch you was from Gryffindor."

Lucy looked over at Aubrey, "I didn't notice."

"You had more pressing issues than the color of his tie." Aubrey looked up at Lucy from under long inky eyelashes. "But whose side are we playing for?"

Lucy shrugged, "Not sure, they're both full of liars and bastards." She stood up from her leaning position on the corridor wall and adjusted her glasses. "Let the game begin."


Author's Note: First crushes, we have all had those. They suck don't they?

So sorry I disappeared, I started at a university and had to make a few adjustments socially, transferring midyear is isolating, you kind of have to figure things out by yourself a bit and I was taking five rather involving classes for my global studies degree that really sucked me right in. I also decided to take up an international relations minor, because I am completely insane and this material speaks to me. I'm taking classes for that this semester.

I have too much planned for this to abandon this series halfway through. You should see some of the scene's I've written for the last couple of books. I know where I want to take this story, I know how it ends, I just need to drag you all there kicking and screaming the whole way. I am going to try to get back to my 500-700 words a day thing so we can all press forward and see the end of this book by the end of the summer hopefully. According to my notes, Book 4 should be pretty fun.

I also lost my job this summer. But I think I'm going to apply to be an RA for one of the dorms for some extra money.

And I just noticed the chapters are numbered incorrectly. I will fix that tonight.