An- So far I have re-written and hopefully edited new chapters 1-5, and hopefully will continue to do the rest and finish before October, XD.
Special thanks to Gruffard, KhaalidaNyx, FangedAssassin, Grey-Rain-Cloud and SatelliteEyes for constant reviews- they have helped me tonnes guys!
Additional thanks to Alpha Omega314, HiddenAngelWithWhiteWings, Laura22494, DGfleetfox (And yes, in answer to your review, I do have a definite 'endgame' as you put it... but I won't be spilling, soz!), TinaMarie05, griffindork93, Lordban, jamber17, mimary57, Hibary-Hiwatari, mimary57, Irissen (Thank you for such a long review, it was fun to read!), and everyone else who took the time to review! It is much appreciated!
*Note- The new chapter four and five is up! They're mainly just edited with a few modifications in some places... so they won't be too different.
It's Your Life. Live it.
Chapter Five: Well... that was unexpected.
The third year yelped and leapt to his feet as Tempest stepped through the portrait hole and headed towards her signature couch which the third year had previously been occupying. "Scram," Tempest muttered, and the boy shot off, looking terrified.
Tempest's expression cleared as she flopped down, kicking her shoes up on the edge of the couch. "Now that was just what I needed."
"Threatening kids…" Ron sighed. "I wish they were that scared of me."
"Ron!" Hermione said reprovingly. "It's one thing for Tempest to do it, but for you-"
"Didn't you say that to Tempest about eating like me before?"
"-and you're a prefect too!"
"Loosen up, Hermione!" Tempest said, yawning, "I call today a very profitable day, I managed to get through the whole of Potions without losing a single house point, I gained a week's detention in one lesson, lost over twenty points, majorly pissed off Umbridge… and then got Peeves to dump a bucket of flobberworms all over her head… very profitable indeed."
Hermione, to Tempest's surprise, did not reprimand her for being immature, instead she nodded furiously. "Usually I'd be mad at you Tempest- but what on earth was Dumbledore thinking, hiring someone who's refusing to let us use magic?"
"Maybe he's getting old… er." Ron said, laughing nervously.
Tempest had no such qualms and laughed loudly. "I think he's kicking a hundred and forty two soon. Maybe he's allowed to slip up a bit more… but honestly- of all people, did it have to be Umbridge?"
"The Ministry probably forced him to employ her," Hermione concluded.. "That could be the only reason."
Tempest shrugged. "Or he's keeping his enemies close… If the Ministry is trying to infiltrate Hogwarts, then at least Dumbledore can keep an eye on them while they do so… not universally his best idea, but it is plausible…"
"She wants us to spy for her too, you know," Hermione said, "Remember when she said she wanted us to go and tell her if we heard anyone saying You-Know-Who was back-"
"Huh?" Tempest said, "When was this?"
"Oh, it was when you had left- she stood up and told us all to go to her if they heard anyone else proclaiming that You-Know-Who was back... she as good as told us to rat out each other to her."
"Well," Tempest said, "At least she'll be gone by next year. Cursed position, remember? First time I think I've ever been so eager for a teacher to leave."
"What about Lockhart?"
"Oh, and him too," Tempest amended. "Maybe just make her departure a bit more violent and then I'd be satisfied…"
"Oh, don't act like you don't want it to happen too!" Tempest said, "In any case- great talking to you two- Fred and Georgie are testing on little firsties, and I need to get over there…"
Tempest had danced away towards Fred and George before Hermione could even open her mouth to protest.
"Aren't you going to yell at them?" Ron asked, slightly confused as to why Hermione wasn't busting a vein with fury.
To Ron's shock, Hermione shook her head slowly. "Have you realized lately… more and more often… Tempest doesn't… she isn't…"
"Tempest doesn't what?"
Hermione looked at Ron's painfully blank face and grimaced. "Nothing."
"Heya," Tempest said, surprising George with a peck on the cheek as she glanced at the paper bag he was holding. "Is that the modified set?"
"Yeah," George replied. "Fred just got the order of fire beetles so we adjusted the recipe for the fainting fancies."
"Alright then, d'you get the mice to wake up yet?"
Fred shrugged. "Three out of ten woke up- the rest are still in a mini-coma… We just decided to start testing on actual people now."
"Close enough," Tempest said, "So how many first years signed up? Did I scare any off?"
"Nope," George replied, "Fred thought so," he shot his brother a glare, "but apparently someone became very interesting when they went head to head with the pink toad and now instead of running, people want to know more."
Tempest raised her eyebrows. "Has everyone heard that? What did you two hear?"
Fred rolled his eyes, rattling the paper bag that he was holding. "Just our Tempest acting like our Tempest… really what did you expect? You can't go around casually humiliating teachers without breaking a sweat and not have everyone in the school know about it by nightfall."
"Well I'm flattered," Tempest drawled. "In any case, if those first years start yammering at me wanting to know details it's not going to happen… d'you want to start yet or not?"
"Yeah, so uh…" Fred stepped forwards to the first years, perched on the stools, looking both eager and nervous at the same time. "Today we'll be testing our new fainting fancies, and everyone here that helps with the testing process will get five sickles at the end of the night… so if that's all clear, could everyone take one sweet each, and then you can eat it…"
While Tempest ducked down to grab a clipboard to note the affect the fancies had on their human test subjects, the first years had filed up, taken a sweet, re-seated themselves, and the instant the pill had touched their tongues, all of them slumped forwards, some falling off their seats, their tongues rolling out.
"So, what are the differences between mice and humans?" Fred asked, peering over Tempest's shoulder.
"There aren't any really," Tempest said, glancing down at the list of symptoms. "I guess the mice drool less though…" she scribbled a few lines under the symptoms for humans and then flipped the page.
"When we tested them before, we didn't' drool!" George complained. "Are you sure it isn't just the firsties reacting differently?"
"Nope," Tempest grinned, "Maybe I was just too nice to point it out. In any case, Georgie dear, would you like to do the honour of feeding those firsties the other end of the pill, and Freddie, you can grab the money and pay the ones that actually wake up… and I'll stand over here and pray that it works."
George grimaced as he dropped a pill gingerly into a snoring first year's open mouth. "D' you think they bite like the mice do?"
"You better hope they don't," Fred laughed as he shook the money back. "And is it just me, or am I the only one who doesn't really want the midgets to wake up, just so we get to save a bit of money?"
"Always thinking of others, aren't you?" George said, raising his eyebrows comically as he scrunched up the now-empty paper bag. "And for the record, yeah, me too."
"And me," Tempest laughed, "But too late, they're waking up anyway."
"Wha?" a mousy haired Gryffindor first year straightened up off the floor.
"S'alright," George said, giving the girl a comforting grin. "You're fine now… Fred over there will pay you… and maybe in a year you'll be able to buy our products in stores… so thank you for assisting us, and come again to either Hedgy over there, or me and Fred if you need some extra cash, we've got tonnes of products to test!"
"Alright," the girl said a tad shakily, stumbling off, almost dropping her money as she stumbled off.
Tempest shot Hermione a grin as she saw the bushy haired-prefect glaring across at them from the other side of the room and winked, wondering absentmindedly why she wasn't coming over and telling them all off for taking advantage of the little firsties… but then again, she had been a lot more lenient of late… her hanging out with the twins and stuff. So long as they didn't mess with her studies and didn't harm the other students… all in all though, it wasn't very Hermione-like behaviour.
Oh well, if it meant that she and the twins could prank in peace, then Tempest was fine with it.
"So, how are the results?" George asked, stepping up to Tempest's side.
"Well, everyone woke up," Tempest said, glancing around at the empty seats, "so I guess the recipe's right. I guess it's just the Nosebleed Nougat that we need to work on next then."
"Maybe meet up tomorrow night to plan- common room, room of Requirement or deserted corridor on the fourth floor?"
"Sorry," Tempest grimaced, "I've got detention."
For the first time, Tempest regretted getting the detention. No she wasn't sorry for humiliating Umbridge- but she was for the fact that now she would have to miss out on the rest of the week without any time to plan with the twins in the evenings… and now that she thought about it, she would also miss out on Angelina's Quidditch practice too…
"We could reschedule for the morning," George suggested.
Tempest gave a wry smile. "And since when have you ever known me to be a morning person?"
"Yeah, it did seem like a bit of a stretch." George admitted.
"So, we done for the night?" Fred broke in, glancing from George to Tempest.
"Huh?" Tempest said tearing her eyes away from George and looking at Fred, "What?"
"Are. We. Done. For. The. Night?" Fred said slowly.
"Oh," Tempest said, blinking.
"Because I want to go meet up with Angelina in a bit, soooo…"
"Oh, yeah, sure!" Tempest said hurriedly at the exact same time as George, then she blushed as they looked at each other.
What the hell? Tempest thought, shaking the feeling away. That was… weird.
"Uh, so, goodbye and happy snogging," George said, his face oddly red too as he whirled around and disappeared through a side door to the seventh-year boys dormitories.
"Bye." Tempest said slowly to the closed door, and when she turned back to Fred, he was smiling knowingly at her.
"What?" she snapped, not knowing exactly why she was so irritable all of a sudden.
"Nothing! Nothing!" Fred defended, holding up his hands. "I'll just be going now then. See you later Tempest."
"Hi." Tempest said as she sat back down next to Hermione. She was feeling distinctly confused at the moment, not exactly sure what had just happened, or what she was feeling, or whatever the hell was going on.
"Hi." Hermione muttered back, sounding rather put out.
"What's wrong now?" Tempest sighed, glancing over her shoulder to try to see what she was doing with a pair of oversized needles.
"Nothing." Hermione replied unconvincingly.
"Is it about the first years?" Tempest asked.
"No." Hermione sighed, "I mean I'm not at all happy with you, but no."
Hermione gave Tempest a searching look that made Tempest feel like Hermione was running her under an x-ray machine. "You…" she sighed again. "It's nothing. Just let it go."
Tempest's brow knitted. "Alright, but- what on earth are you doing?"
Ron merely shook his head as he stared at the mass of wool in Hermione's lap. "She's gone mental mate."
"Knitting." Hermione said, glaring at Ron. "I'm making little hats for the house-elves."
"Why?" Tempest asked, at a loss for why Hermione would go to so much trouble to knit hats.
"To set them free!" Hermione announced, the same way Tempest would have imagined Ron announcing that he had just won a million galleons.
"Oh not SPEW again, is it?" Tempest asked tiredly. "You know house-elves like doing their work! I'd kill them if you set them free! I mean take Kreacher for an example!"
"Loyal to the point where he wants his head chopped off and put on the wall just to serve his masters." Ron said, shaking his head in wonder. "Barking- but still."
"Barbaric." Hermione sniffed in disgust, stowing her needles away and putting two rather untidy hats on the table and piling bits of parchment up around them. "Of course they want to be free! Kreacher is just a bit…"
"There are no words," Tempest filled in. "But honestly Hermione, I know you're all for elf rights, but Dumbledore treats the elves here really nicely- a lot better than the ones serving other wizarding families… if you set them free and they get a new job at a family that mistreats them, then you've just made things worse."
Hermione blinked. "Oh," she said quietly. "I hadn't thought of that."
"Think on it." Tempest said, "Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to crash, m' tired."
"But you haven't done your homework!" Hermione said in shocked tones.
"I'll do it tomorrow," Tempest mumbled back. "Moonstones are easy, and Binns to date has never even marked a single piece of homework handed in... his hands go straight through the parchment."
The following day dawned just as leaden and rainy as the previous one. "But on the plus side, no Snape today," said Ron bracingly. Tempest merely yawned, and poured herself a cup of coffee. She didn't mind the weather- in fact she preferred the rain to sunshine. While the sun highlighted the beauty of the world, the rain brought out the hidden beauty, and appreciation for things that couldn't be seen in the sun.
Hermione, according to Ron, had taken down the hats last night, and decided that for the time being she would stop trying to free the elves, but instead petition to Dumbledore to give them holidays and sick leave, along with a decent wage, however, then Ron had to make a disparaging comment about how it wouldn't have made any difference whether Hermione took the hats down or not, because they resembled woolly bladders more than hats after all.
For that, Hermione didn't speak to Ron for the entire morning.
Double Charms after breakfast was succeeded by Double Transfiguration. Professor Flitwick and Minnie both spent the first fifteen minutes of their lessons lecturing the class on the importance of OWLs.
"What you must remember," said little Professor Flitwick squeakily, perched as ever on a pile of books so that he could see over the top of his desk, "is that these examinations may influence your futures for many years to come! If you have not already given serious thought to your careers, now is the time to do so. And in the meantime, I'm afraid, we shall be working harder than ever to ensure that you'll do yourselves justice!"
Tempest had felt only slightly worried at that- she hadn't actually decided what she wanted to be yet- she had considered being an Auror, but then again, they worked for the Ministry, and Tempest didn't want a job that associated in any way with the Ministry. In the meanwhile, Tempest merely decided that she would juggle pranking and class and make up her mind on the way.
They then spent over an hour revising Summoning Charms, which according to Professor Flitwick were bound to come up in their OWL, and he rounded off the lesson by setting them their largest ever amount of Charms homework. It was the same in Transfiguration.
"You cannot pass an OWL," said Minnie grimly, "without serious application, practice and study. I see no reason why everybody in this class should not achieve an OWL in Transfiguration as long as they put in the work." Neville made a sad little disbelieving noise. "Yes, you too, Longbottom," said Minnie. "There is nothing wrong with your work except lack of confidence."
Tempest knew that was true. Fred and George had barely studied at all, yet George had managed to scrape an EE in Transfiguration and Tempest knew that he hadn't tried at all but he was the most confident person she knew. (Confident to the point of idiocy sometimes, but Tempest wouldn't have him any other way.)
"So today we are starting Vanishing spells." Minnie continued. "These are easier than conjuring spells, which you would not usually attempt until NEWT level, but they are still among the most difficult magic you will be tested on in your OWL."
Tempest gave a quiet sigh of relief. She'd practiced vanishing spells over the holidays with Sirius- he'd unintentionally helped in preparing her for the OWLS… Although vanishing people's hair was very different from vanishing snails, Tempest had to admit.
It was harder than she thought it'd be, but by the end of a double period, Tempest had managed to vanish her snail on her tenth or eleventh go, while Hermione had managed it on her third. Ron hadn't managed to get his snail to disappear, but he did say that it's shell had gotten paler.
Tempest spent break finishing off her essay on Moonstones, and listening to Ron complain that he had gotten extra homework to practice for Transfiguration while Tempest and Hermione hadn't gotten any.
After lunch, the mugginess had dissipated somewhat, and the day had become rather cool and breezy. Tempest gave the sky a thankful smile as she walked down the sloping lawn towards Hagrid's cabin on the edge of the Forbidden forest.
Professor Grubbly-Plank stood waiting for the class some ten yards from Hagrid's front door, a long trestle table in front of her laden with twigs.
Tempest glanced over her shoulder as she heard the sound of voices drifted over to them, carried by the wind, and saw Malfoy walking with Zambini behind them.
Tempest shrugged, and turned back to face the front, wondering at Parkinson's' put out expression as she glared balefully in Malfoy's direction from across the class.
"Everyone here?" barked Professor Grubbly-Plank, once all the Slytherins and Gryffindors had arrived. "Let's start in then. Who can tell me what these things are called?" She indicated the heap of twigs in front of her. Hermione's hand shot into the air while Tempest and Ron merely shrugged.
The girl next to Parkinson whispered something to her, and Parkinson let out a squeal of girlish laughter that turned into a scream as the twigs on the table leapt up into the air and revealed themselves to be what looked like tiny pixie-ish creatures made of wood, each with knobbly brown arms and legs, two twig like fingers at the end of each hand and a funny flat, bark like face in which a pair of beetle-brown eyes glittered.
"Kindly keep your voices down, girls!" said Professor Grubbly-Plank sharply, scattering a handful of what looked like brown rice among the stick-creatures, who immediately fell upon the food. "So, anyone know the names of these creatures? Miss Granger?"
"Bowtruckles," said Hermione. "They're tree-guardians, usually live in wand-trees."
"Five points for Gryffindor," said Professor Grubbly-Plank. "Yes, this is a bowtruckle, and as Miss Granger rightly says, they generally live in trees whose wood is of wand quality. Anybody know what they eat?"
"Woodlice," said Hermione promptly which explained the grains of brown rice were moving. "But fairy eggs if they can get them."
"Good girl, take another five points. So, whenever you need leaves or wood from a tree in which a bowtruckle lodges, it is wise to have a gift of woodlice ready to distract or placate it. They may not look dangerous, but if angered they will try to gouge at human eyes with their fingers, which, as you can see, are very sharp and not at all desirable near the eyeballs. So if you'd like to gather closer, take a few woodlice and a bowtruckle? I have enough here for one between three. You can study them more closely. I want a sketch from each of you with all body parts labelled by the end of the lesson."
The lesson was fun, and Tempest had to say that she had thoroughly enjoyed when Parkinson had accidentally gripped the bowtruckle too hard, and it had attacked her.
When they reached Herbology, to nobody's surprise, Professor Sprout started their lesson by lecturing them about the importance of OWLs.
Tempest wasn't used to feeling this stretched after she had just made up her mind to relax, but then she realized just how much homework she had. Charms and Potions were easy and she had already finished half, but with the week of detentions and the essay that Professor Sprout threw at them at the end of class, Tempest felt rather exhausted. Tired and smelling strongly of dragon dung, Professor Sprout's preferred type of fertiliser, the Gryffindors trooped back up to the castle an hour and a half later, none of them talking very much; it had been another long day.
Tempest couldn't be bothered to walk all the way to Gryffindor tower then back to dinner then to Umbridge's detention later, so she went straight to dinner and was about to dig into her plate of lamb chops when Angelina, who had been snogging Fred opposite her, surfaced, and then instantly began yelling.
"What the hell did you do?" she screamed at Tempest across the table, and Tempest mirrored Fred's dumbstruck look as she stared at his girlfriend.
"Uh- what?" Tempest said, pulling a blank look.
"Oh, don't give me that look," Angelina yelled, "You know perfectly well what you did- landed yourself a detention for every day of this week, and that includes Friday practice- didn't I tell you to be there specifically so we could see how well the new person would fit in?"
"Well no," Tempest said, shifting on her spot and looking at her plate of tantalizing lamb chops that she felt would be inappropriate to eat at the moment. "Fred told me that."
"It's not funny!" Angelina shouted, "Isn't it enough that I've got to find a new chaser too- Alicia Spinnet's moving to America because of a sick aunt or something or other, yes and I'm very sorry for her, but now we've got two new players to fill in, and now I learn you can't even be there!"
"Relax, Angelina!" Tempest said, trying to placate her, "Couldn't you just move the tryouts an hour back or something if you really want me to be there?"
Angelina stopped as if she had been shot then recovered just as quickly. "I can't. I've booked the pitch at that particular time, I can't shift it back an hour!"
"Why?" Tempest queried. "As anyone else booked it?"
Angelina looked stumped. "Well, that is to say, uh, no… but-"
"Then what's the problem?" Tempest asked, "I mean, if you can shift the tryouts back, then I think I'll be able to make it, and I'll even find a new Chaser for you too- how's that?" she shot Angelina a winning smile.
"Oh?" Angelina said, trying not to smile at Tempest's brazen nature. "And how will you find said Chaser?"
Tempest shrugged. "I heard Ginny wanted to try out for the team… so I suppose she could be either Chaser or Keeper, I've seen her fly and I know she's good, but I don't see her as the keeper type- so why not let her try out for Chaser?"
"Er," Angelina said, sitting down, "alright then."
Tempest shot George a grin from across the table and then started eating.
At five to five Tempest said goodbye to her friends and set off for Umbridge's office on the third floor.
Tempest paused outside the door, wondering what the pink toad could have planned for her, then shrugged carelessly, and knocked politely.
"Come in," Umbridge said in a sugary voice.
Tempest entered as though she hadn't a care in the world, ignoring the horrible pink walls, the lacy surfaces, dead flowers, and cat-filled bow-wearing plates.
"Good evening, Miss Potter," Umbridge said.
"Good evening, Professor Umbridge," Tempest replied, beaming.
"Well, sit down," she said, pointing towards a small table draped in lace, beside which she had drawn up a straight-backed chair. A piece of blank parchment lay on the table, apparently waiting for her.
Tempest eyed the table with distaste, but sat anyway, keeping the smile in place.
"Now, you're going to be doing some lines for me, Miss Potter," Umbridge said, standing and walking over to her. "No, not with your quill," she said as Tempest leant down to extract her black raven's quill from her bag. "I have a rather special one of mine you're going to use. Here you are."
"Thank you!" Tempest said brightly. Taking the unusually sharp quill that Umbridge offered her. Personally, Tempest thought that it was more suited for jamming in say… the toad's throat, than for writing.
"Now, I want you to write 'I must not tell lies'."
Tempest bit back a comment and kept her smile fixed in place. "How many times, Professor?"
"Oh, just as many times as it takes for the message to skin in."
Tempest rolled her eyes out of Umbridge's sight and was about to begin writing, when she realized- "Professor, you haven't given me any ink."
Umbridge who had moved back over to her desk, and was preparing to mark what looked like a stack of essays, looked up. "Oh, you won't need ink," Umbridge said, with the merest suggestion of a laugh in her voice.
Tempest shrugged and turned back to the paper, placed the point of the quill on the paper and wrote: I must not tell lies.
Tempest's right hand clenched as it began to burn, but she ignored it and wrote the line again, watching the words appear in crimson ink that looked suspiciously like blood. Tempest had to resist the urge to snort. If Umbridge was trying to intimidate her with self-inking blood-red ink, then she was failing. It wasn't like it was a blood quill-
Tempest glanced down at her right hand , and bit back a hiss. It was a blood quill. She had found one in one of the drawers at Grimmauld Place in Sirius's father's study and used it by accident, etching the words 'Saturday 6th August,' into her right hand. Apparently the quills were used by Gringotts for official documents and signatures… blah, blah, blah. If Umbridge was going to try to get her to cave by carving words into Tempest's hands… she'd have to try harder.
Ignoring the words that cut into the back of her hand and healed over instantly only to split open again the next time Tempest wrote the five words, Tempest continued writing.
She continued writing, slouching slightly in her chair and writing until the sky grew dark and Tempest wrote some more. She knew Umbridge was watching her, waiting until she finally reacted, probably wanting Tempest to start crying or some crap like that… well it wasn't going to be happening anytime soon that century. Or the next for that matter.
Tempest kept writing, and then kept writing until she had finished the twenty five pieces of parchment on the table, front and back, then began filling in the edges of the pages, the spaces between the lines, and any inch of white parchment that wasn't covered in words.
It was only after Tempest had sliced her hand open almost until she swore she could see bone, her entire arm was numb and aching and she had run out of parchment that she turned around.
"Might I have some more parchment?" Tempest drawled mockingly, swapping hands quickly and twirling the quill with her left hand.
Umbridge looked up from the essays, and Tempest almost laughed as she realized that Umbridge had almost fallen asleep.
Clearly dazed, even as hard as she pretended not to be, Umbridge blinked as though trying to understand what was going on, and then stood on stubby legs. "Come here," she said.
Tempest stood up, a quick glance through the window at the moon telling her that it was well past midnight. She walked over to Umbridge, standing almost a head and a half taller than her.
"Hand," she said.
Tempest glanced down at it, and saw while it had stopped bleeding, the skin hadn't healed over either, instead meaning that she had the five words still cut into her hand, like someone had taken a knife to it.
Tempest didn't give Umbridge the satisfaction of letting her know how much her hand hurt- she had experienced far worse at the Dursleys, foremost amongst the memories being the one where Vernon, in a fit of anger had driven a knife straight through Tempest's right hand, smashing several bones in her hand. The staff at the hospital had considered it a miracle that Tempest's hand had healed properly, and Tempest supposed that was her magic that she owed for that.
"Tut, tut, I don't seem to have made much of an impression yet," a smile stretching grotesquely across her face. "Well, we'll just have to try again tomorrow evening, won't we? You may go."
Tempest could tell she was disappointed, and that made it all worthwhile. Maybe Tempest could nick something from the hospital wing for her hand later… although, at the moment, what she really wanted to was to take a nice long nap.
Tempest shot another bright smile back at Umbridge as she exited the room, walking straight for Gryffindor tower.
Tempest couldn't even be bothered to climb the stairs to the girls dormitories, collapsing on her couch in the Gryffindor common room instead using a cushion as a pillow, and as soon as her head hit the cushion, Tempest fell asleep.
The sound of something falling to the ground jerked Tempest awake.
"Whazzup?" Tempest asked blearily, wincing as her right hand clenched.
Ron swam into her vision, still dressed in his robes and holding his broom in hand.
"Blimey, Tempest! Give a guy a heart attack- I walk in, and there's a person passed out on the couch… What are you doing down here?"
"I fell asleep," Tempest said, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. She now had a stiff neck due to the damned position she'd fallen asleep in. "Got back from detention… what are you doing? Nice broom by the way."
"Thanks," Ron said uneasily. "I'll just be, uh, going to bed now."
"Hang on!" Tempest said, scrambling to her feet to block Ron's way, tripping on her own bag. "What were you doing? You didn't answer the question."
Ron shifted from side to side, his grip on his broom tightening. "Well, alright… but could you promise not to tell Hermione… she might laugh at me… well come to think of it, you might too, but then again you laugh at everything…"
Tempest let out a tired laugh, just for the sake of it. "It's me Ron, you could tell me that you dance naked on your roof for fun and I wouldn't judge you for it… although I did hear that Fred did that once…"
"A bet from Bill," Ron supplied, grinning. "Oh, alright, well…" he shifted again, then took a deep breath. "I'm training so I can try out for Keeper on the Quidditch Team."
For a moment Tempest thought she had heard incorrectly, then she realized what Ron had said. "Wow!" she exclaimed, "That's great! If you get on, we could be on the team together! Practices are great, and the games-"
"Whoa, Tempest, calm down, I'm just training at the moment, I haven't even tried out yet… I've been trying to sneak away and practice at night so no-one finds out… you won't tell anyone will you?"
Tempest held her hand out in a mock salute. "My word of honour. Now d' you want to talk next morning? I'm sure you're just as exhausted as I am."
"Yeah," Ron said, rubbing at his forehead, "I'm knackered, and I've got tonnes of homework too… that dream diary we got set in Divination… you are so lucky you don't- what's that?"
Tempest cursed as she realized the flickering light of the fire had caught the words cut into her hand, and Tempest grimaced, seeing no point in hiding it from Ron.
"Don't tell anyone, will you? If it gets to Hermione, she'll tell Minnie undoubtedly, and then Sirius will find out, and he always seems to forget that I can handle myself at moments like this… plus, an overprotective Sirius is not what I need with the full moon coming up-" Tempest clamped her mouth shut at the last moment, but Ron didn't seem to have noticed.
"That evil hag!" he said, staring at Tempest's hand in some sort of horror. "You should tell Dumbledore- surely that's not legal! I could write my dad- ask!"
"Nuh uh," Tempest said shaking her head. "Enough people know as it is- me, Umbridge, and now you too…"
"That's not a good idea, mate," Ron said doubtfully. "If she keeps doing that to you every detention-"
"I've had worse," Tempest snorted. "If you think a few words carved into my hand is bad, then you've obviously had a very easy life."
Ron grimaced, very obviously trying to think of something to say. "Well, I guess-"
"Exactly," Tempest said, "So- I'll be going to bed now, so keep your mouth shut, and I'll keep mine… G'night."
The rest of the detentions for the week were almost exactly the same as the first, only for the fact that none of them were as long. It really was just a test of the wills, and as Sirius said, Tempest was stubborn enough to stop the whole world turning single-handedly if the notion took her.
The week passed on slowly, but somehow Tempest survived on sheer willpower alone. Quidditch tryouts were coming up, so was the weekend, and soon it would be the full moon. Tempest still wasn't sure exactly how she was going to get from Hogwarts to London seeing as she couldn't apparate within Hogwarts, and neither could she sneak out of the school- the witches hump had been boarded up, and Tempest knew for a fact that Dumbledore had set various spells and enchantments on the Shrieking shack entrance.
After the last detention with Umbridge, Tempest ran down to the Quidditch pitch at ten to seven, hoping that she would still be in time for the Quidditch tryouts. She hadn't had time to fetch her Firebolt, instead summoning it on the way down.
Tempest arrived at the pitch at the exact same time the keeper trials finished.
"Ron?" Tempest asked, spying him surrounded by the team, broom in hand. "Did you-"
"Yeah!" Ron said, breaking loose of the crowd and running over to Tempest. "I made keeper! We can have practices together and everything!"
"That's great!" Tempest said, clapping him on the back, "Do us proud as Gryffindors, ickle Ronnie!"
Ron gave a laugh. "Huh. That's exactly what George told me too… word for word… weird."
Tempest shrugged. "Maybe he died in the past few seconds, and I'm channelling his spirit… well done though!"
"I know right!" Ron enthused, "I thought for sure I wouldn't get it when I saw the others fly, but then Angelina came up to me and then I found out I was on the team! It's Chaser tryouts now, Ginny wants to try her hand at that…"
"Yeah, I heard, want to go watch?"
Ron shrugged, "Me and some of the guys are heading back for a party in the common room- Fred and George are staying though… you coming?"
Tempest glanced over at the rest of the Quidditch team still on the pitch and shook her head. "Nah, I'll stay till the end of tryouts- see you in a bit."
Ron's eyes flickered to the team and back to Tempest, then something seemed to occur to him. "Maybe Hermione was right…" he muttered under her breath.
"Sorry- Hermione- what?" Tempest asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Oh nothing," Ron said, turning red, "Just something Hermione said before… I'll get going now- party you know…"
"Yeah," Tempest said, "See you…."
Shaking her head in confusion, Tempest waved goodbye to Ron then continued on over to the team.
"How was Ron?" Tempest asked as she approached Angelina.
Angelina made a non-comitial noise as she started to shepherd the people trying out for chaser into one line. "He's alright," she said out of the corner of her mouth. "Not brilliant, but alright. Of the four to try out, Vicky Frobisher and Geoffrey Hooper both flew better this evening, but Hooper's a real whiner, he's always moaning about something or other, and Vicky's involved in all sorts of societies. She admitted herself that if training clashed with her Charms Club she'd put Charms first…"
"So he was your second to last option?" Tempest said, wincing.
Angelina grimaced. "Or third to first… however you like to put it- I know he's your friend, but honestly Tempest? He's not great. I'm banking on him having Weasley blood- Bill and Charlie were great- Fred and George are great, so I'm placing all my cards on the hope that he and his sister turn out to have some brilliant hidden talent-"
Tempest shrugged half-heartedly. "Ginny does fly well though, just try her out- I'll practice with Ron too- we'll train extra times a week."
"Do your best," Angelina sighed, then turned to the line again. "All right!" she yelled , "So, I'm going to get all of you up in the air, and then you're each to have five minutes to score as many goals as you can in those hoops up there-" she pointed, "Weasley will be playing keeper- where is he?"
Tempest glanced over her shoulder before remembering that Ron had headed off to Gryffindor tower. "He's gone to the party," Tempest said apologetically.
"Idiot!" Angelina cursed, "I told him to stay for the chasers- but nooo… he has to go running off after food…"
"Calm down," Tempest said, "I've seen Oliver train, I'll fill in just for today… I can't promise I'll be great, but-"
"I appreciate it- honestly Tempest, you'd do great in any position really… anyway- Ginny Weasley, you're up!"
Tempest shot a grin at the nervous looking Ginny as the later mounted her broom and rose up into the night sky. Tempest followed mere seconds after, her right hand still tingling painfully, but that Tempest could ignore.
Tempest brought her broom up to a sharp halt as she hovered over the middle hoop on the far end of the Quidditch stadium. Truth be told, Tempest wasn't at all sure how to play keeper. All she knew was that the main idea was to not let the ball through the circles.
So when Ginny started throwing Quaffles at the hoops, Tempest did what was natural. She blocked it.
And then again.
And then again.
And then again.
And then again.
And then again.
After five minutes, Ginny had only scored one goal, which either meant one of three things, either Tempest was a pretty good keeper, Ginny was a very bad chaser, or Ginny and Tempest were equally bad, only Tempest had the advantage of the Firebolt. For Ginny's sake, Tempest hoped it was the first.
As the next wanna-be chasers began their trials though, Tempest became more and more confident that Ginny was the best. After all, no-one else managed to score a single goal, making Ginny's single one the best.
"You should replace Ron," George said as Tempest landed at the end of the trails. "Honestly."
Fred rolled his eyes. "Why do I get the feeling that you'd say that regardless of whether she stopped a single goal or not."
Tempest laughed, but George looked offended, "I would not! If Tempest sucked, I tell her so!"
"And I appreciate it, Georgie," Tempest said, "I'd sooner take all the hammering in the world so long as it's the truth…"
"Not to break up this very cosy moment, but we have practice tomorrow- two o'clock. Be there- Tempest, great Keeping… see if you can get Ron to be that good- you two…" Angelina glanced at Fred and George, "great going- see you tomorrow."
She walked off, broom over her shoulder, then stopped several meters away and turned back. "Fred? Hello? Coming?"
Fred whooped, running after Angelina. "Now that's more like it- see you later suckers!"
Tempest made an obscene gesture at Fred's back, then chuckled. "He's really into her, isn't he?"
"Had a crush on her since our second year here… He's still giddy that now he's finally got her."
"Hey," Tempest said, as they began to walk back up towards the school. "We're not bloody possessions."
"I know, I know," George said, holding his hands up defensively. "His words really, not mine… here gimme-"
"Hey- what?" Tempest asked as George shrugged her broom onto his own shoulder. She hadn't even realized that she had been wincing, her right hand aching around her broom handle.
"I'm trying to build up on muscle mass," George said seriously. "And if I only carry my broom, then my arms are going to be uneven- I need two even arms, otherwise I'll just be a freak with mismatched arms…"
Tempest shook her head in amazement. "Whatever floats your boat," she said, "S'long as you don't become one of those creeps like McLaggen who keeps flexing his muscles in my face to supposedly impress me… I don't know how he's deluded himself into thinking it actually works… even if I was impressed in the slightest, it's totally erased by that absolute dumb look on his face…"
"McLaggen?" George asked, his eyebrows arching, "Sixth year, brain moving slower than a snail-"
"-built like an ape and acts like one? Yeah."
"I guess we know who the subject for our next prank is then," George said. "What's that you said before…? Marauders stand together?"
"Yeah, that's the gist basically, there's a whole another set of rules that comes with it, but we can get you sorted on that later- ow!" Tempest hissed in pain as her scar suddenly flared with pain, making her stop in her tracks, wincing.
"What's wrong?" George asked, stopping too, "Headache? Snake? Glass? Did you trip? Twist your ankle… what?"
"Jeez, calm down!" Tempest exclaimed, rubbing at her face. "It's uh, nothing."
"You sure?" George asked.
"Peachy," Tempest replied. "I just remembered I need to talk to Sirius later…"
"Maybe," Tempest lied.
Thankfully it was dark enough that George couldn't see Tempest's tell-tale face that she was lying.
"So do I get in on it?" George whinged, "I'm a Marauder!"
"You're honorary," Tempest reminded him, "But same concept I guess."
"Honorary?" George said, feigning hurt, "What do I have to do to get rid of the 'honorary'?"
"Let's just say it requires intense concentration and a lot of training," Tempest said cryptically.
"How'd you manage then," George joked, "if it requires that much concentration?"
"Oh I got to skip a few steps," Tempest said airily, "You know, being one of the Marauder's daughter and all…"
"Maybe," Tempest said, shrugging, "But you can't deny one thing-"
"-I am undeniably awesome and that accounts for half of my status."
"The Ministry of Magic has received a tip-off from a reliable source that Sirius Black, notorious mass murderer, disowned- oh skip that crap- and responsible for the death of- how much more of this is there- escaped from Azkaban the wizarding prison two years ago, is currently hiding in London- that slimy piece of shit eating scum!"
Tempest threw down the copy of the Daily Prophet, and slammed her palms down on the table so hard her cup of coffee overturned.
"Scourgify," Tempest muttered, jabbing her wand at the liquid.
"What is she-"
"Lucius Malfoy," Hermione whispered to Ron. "I think he recognized Sirius from the platform."
"Son of a pig, I hope he gets attacked by a cat and eaten by flobberworms, then has his demented remains buried six feet under in rotting dragon dung- I swear, if I get my hands on him- bloody threatening Sirius… he might even let leak that Sirius is an animagus…"
"Dumbledore did say that he shouldn't leave-"
"Don't tell me what Dumbledore said- I was fricking there!" Tempest scowled up at the staff table at the old man who was chatting merrily to Professor Sprout. "He's not all-knowing, nor did he have any right to tell us to stay cooped up in that house for two months without a reason-"
"Calm down, I'm not trying to pick a fight!" Hermione said, "Just- just sit down, drink your coffee- or, uh, whatever coffee there is left-"
"Yeah, I appreciate it," Tempest huffed as she sat back down and stared at the empty coffee pot. "Why is there never coffee when I need the coffee?"
"When you've drunk it all in the past ten minutes," George said, flopping down next to Tempest. "I mean honestly, how are you not a hyperactive bunny right now?"
"Because I'm a wolf," Tempest shot back at him.
"And I'm a hippogriff," George snorted, eying the coffee pot. "Would it make you feel better if I invented a spell to make coffee appear from thin air?"
"Please," Tempest sighed, glancing over at Hermione who was still scanning the newspaper. "What else is in there?"
"Something about Sturgis Podmore…" Hermione said absently, still reading. "Didn't you say that he was late when he was meant to escort you to Kings Cross, and you told Snuffles to give him a thank-you card for distracting Moody long enough for you to escape?"
"Just listen- Sturgis Podmore, 38, of number two, Laburnum Gardens, Clapham, has appeared in front of the Wizengamot charged with trespass and attempted robbery at the Ministry of Magic on 31st August, Podmore was arrested by Ministry of Magic watch wizard Eric Munch, who found him attempting to force his way through a top-security door at one o'clock in the morning. Podmore, who refused to speak in his own defence, was convicted on both charges and sentenced to six months in Azkaban…" Hermione looked up at Tempest. "Do you know what door he was trying to get through?"
Tempest shook her head slowly. "I know where he was meant to be standing guard, but I don't know why he'd be trying to get in… he was meant to stop people from doing that exact thing, not trying it himself… but he was off that morning too- Kingsley was meant to replace him the night before, and Sturgis was meant to meet us for Kings Cross, only he didn't… I thought it was helpful at the time but…"
"Then why would he be at the Ministry at one in the morning?" Hermione asked.
"Maybe he was framed!" Ron exclaimed.
"Framed?" Tempest asked, "Someone set him up?"
"Yes, that is the general idea-"
"Shut up, Fred, keep going, Ron!"
"Well the Ministry must have found out that he was working for-" Ron glanced around superstitiously to see whether anyone else was listening, then continued in a quieter tone. "-for the Order you know… and lured him in… so he wasn't trying to get through a door at all- it was a trap and they just made something up for the papers."
Hermione looked impressed, but Tempest shook her head. "I wish, but honestly, how would the Ministry have known that he was there?"
Hermione shrugged. "I'm sure that the Order will find out… but in any case, we have more pressing matters."
"Like Quidditch practice!" Tempest interupting, "C'mon Ron- Freddie, Georgie… you coming?"
"But your homework- Professor Sprout's essay and Professor McGonagall's Inanimatus Conjurus Spell-"
"Done and dusted, Hermione- I went over Herbology with Neville last night, and finished the essay the day before… if you're so eager to be around us, then come with us!"
Hermione's expression was doubtful.
"If you come, I'll teach you how to catch a Quaffle," Tempest coaxed, knowing that was a sore point with Hermione. Quaffles were hard, like solid metal bowling balls and unless caught in the right way it could break ribs. The last time Tempest had thrown one at Hermione, it had slammed into her stomach and completely winded her, and for the rest of the day, Hermione hadn't been able to concentrate in class from the pain, losing twenty percent in her Charms exam.
"I don't know," Hermione said cautiously, "I've got lots of-"
"Come on, 'mione! It's Saturday!" Ron said eagerly, "Plus you'll get to see us play!"
"Practice," Tempest amended, "Now if you two aren't coming, then I'm going… I've got a few laps of the pitch that I want to do before we get started."
Five minutes later, Tempest headed down to the pitch with Fred, George, Ron and Hermione. George was carrying Tempest's Firebolt, something that Ron seemed to take as a challenge to his chivalry.
It wasn't as if George was carrying her broom for her, it was to his own benefit… but Ron didn't seem to get that, and apparently didn't want to lose face with Hermione, so he had insisted to carry both Tempest and Hermione's bags, and was now staggering alongside them both under the weight of all of the books inside.
Tempest exchanged an amused glance with Hermione, then raised an eyebrow at George. "Do me a favor and never turn into Ron, will you? One is quite enough."
"I so swear," George replied, grinning.
"I'll hold you to it," Tempest said.
"Would expect anything less."
Tempest started off by making Ron do twenty laps around the Quidditch pitch on foot, then made him do another thirty on his broom in the air, by the end of which he was sweating profusely and swearing violently.
"Shut up, Ron," Tempest said, "That was a warm up."
As far as Tempest knew, the key three things a keeper needed was speed, quick reflexes and a clear mind… and with fifty laps around the Quidditch Pitch, if Ron didn't have any of those qualities by the end, there would be something seriously wrong with him.
"Give-me-a-break!" Ron panted after two hours, and Tempest paused in the process of hurling the Quaffle at the goal hoops. "We've been at it for hours, and I've only stopped exactly two- and those were the ones that hit me, not the ones I caught!"
"Exactly!" Tempest said, flying closer to Ron, Quaffle tucked under her arm. "That's the whole point!"
"Me getting beaten up?"
"No- your reflexes! I'm not going to throw the Quaffle to you, how does that help at all? You need to anticipate which hoop I'm aiming at, then defend!"
"And how the hell am I meant to anticipate-"
Tempest hurled the Quaffle at the middle hoop, making Ron dive after it, and as he returned to her eye level, she continued. "You freaking use your eyes Ron! You watch the Chaser as they get closer- chuck me the Quaffle-" Tempest caught it one armed then flew backwards a meter or so, preparing to throw it again. "Then you read their body language! Watch me as I do it- see which way I'm looking… It's painfully obvious, the hoop they're looking at, the direction they're positioned-" she hurled the ball at the hoops again, and Ron missed yet again, although his fingers did miss the ball by mere centimetres.
"Not everyone's as good as Quidditch as you, Tempest!" Ron huffed, "And I bet the bloody Ravenclaw Chasers won't be throwing missiles at me!"
"No, they probably won't, but they might!" Tempest snapped, "Now you're getting better! You almost got the last one… now you are a good keeper, and you're not doing a half-bad job-"
"Then do tell me why I haven't managed to stop a single goal, why don't you?" Ron asked impatiently, glancing over to the stands where Hermione wasn't even watching, merely reading a book.
"Well A. You're distracted- stop staring at Hermione, B. Stop trying to look cool while stopping the goals- no-one fricking cares how you look in the air so long as you get your job done, alright? And C. I am amazing. Now again!"
Tempest and Ron skipped lunch, or at least Ron did- Fred and George had gone back to the Great Hall and George had brought Tempest back an apple. Tempest a bite of it as she flew a double loop around the goal posts, flipped upside down, and flung the Quaffle at the right hoop. It was a great throw, even Tempest acknowledged that, and it flew straight towards the metal circle, straight-
-and suddenly Ron had appeared out of no-where and the Quaffle was knocked away from the goal, sailing back towards Tempest. It wasn't a quality block, nor did it look in any way graceful, and for that, Tempest burst into applause. "Great going, Ron- now let's get changed and get reading for practice!"
Ron groaned as they landed on the grassy field and began walking towards the changing rooms. "You mean that wasn't the end of practice?"
Fred and George were already changing in the locker room, and Tempest walked in just in time to see George shrugging off his shirt.
Tempest had seen countless guys with their shirts off, and was in no way a stranger to seeing shirtless not-unattractive guys, and the sight didn't affect her any more than an eskimo dressed in furs… except the fact that eskimos were more interesting… but this…
Tempest cursed hormones. She thought that with all the other girls in her year- and many not- having reached the stage where they turned into giggling twits that couldn't think past the pretty face of a guy, she had escaped the same process… but apparently not.
Tempest thanked the stars that it was only George and of all guys to gawk at, he wasn't half bad. She swallowed rather hard, then marched over to her locker and began to get changed.
Angelina arrived a few minutes later, and when she saw Ron, her jaw clenched. "Glad to see you two have been training together," she said, "In any case, Fred, George, bring out the ball crate- Tempest you've got the Quaffle… good- and oh, there are a couple of people out there watching, but I want you to just ignore them, all right?"
Something in her would-be casual voice made Tempest think she knew who the uninvited spectators were, and sure enough, when they left the changing room for the bright sunlight of the pitch it was to a storm of catcalls and jeers from the Slytherin Quidditch team and assorted hangers-on, who were grouped halfway up the empty stands and whose voices echoed loudly around the stadium.
"What's that Weasley's riding?" Called a voice that was all-too-familiar. "Why would anyone put a flying charm on a mouldy old log like that?"
Crabbe, Goyle and Pansy Parkinson guffawed and shrieked with laughter, and Tempest whirled around towards the stands, "Rack off, you bloody git!" she yelled.
Tempest thought she saw something that looked almost like satisfaction cross Malfoy's face before she mounted her broom and kicked off into the air.
"What did I say about ignoring them, Tempest?" Angelina hissed as she circled over to Tempest.
"Maybe when they're not insulting my friends," Tempest muttered back as she threw the Quaffle to Angelina. "And you-" Tempest accelerated towards Ron, "You bloody well make me proud or I'll keep you here till next morning, and maybe even the morning after that training, alright? And training with me is about a thousand times worse than training in front of the Slytherins, got it?"
With that threat, Tempest circled back and flew to the far side of the pitch while Ron fell back towards the opposite goal ignoring the rest of the insults being yelled by the Slytherins.
Angelina began by passing the Quaffle to Fred, who then passed to George, who pretended to miss, then grinned and passed to Tempest, who passed to Ron…
…who caught it.
Tempest let out a quiet sigh of relief as Ron blinked, then passed to Katie, who passed to Ginny, who passed back to Angelina…
The Slytherins boos got louder and louder as training progressed, and Malfoy's remarks grew more and more pointed until he was directly insulting her, almost as if he was trying to distract her… but of course that was the whole point.
Angelina blew her whistle, and Tempest released the snitch, zooming after it immediately, ducking the bludger that Fred and George had let go and weaving in and out of the Chasers after the golden ball. The world blurred around her as she focused on the ball, but then her mind wandered. It was only after playing keeper and Chaser that Tempest realized how much she was missing out on as merely Seeker… maybe next year she would see whether she could swap for Chaser if she could find a decent replacement for herself.
"Brilliant!" Tempest enthused, clapping Ron on the back as they walked back to the castle at around five that afternoon. "Absolutely brilliant-"
"-so good in fact that we might actually consider acknowledging you as our brother," Fred joked. "Great flying by the way."
"Seconded," George agreed.
"Thirded?" Tempest said with a wry smile. "You did great, I'll be sure to tell Hermione that too."
I have only just heard (from no less a person than the Minister for Magic himself, who has it from your new teacher, Professor Umbridge) that you have become a Hogwarts prefect.
I was most pleasantly surprised when I heard this news and must firstly offer my congratulations. I must admit that I have always been afraid that you would take what we might call the 'Fred and George' route, rather than following in my footsteps, so you can imagine my feelings on hearing you have stopped flouting authority and have decided to shoulder some real responsibility.
But I want to give you more than congratulations, Ron, I want to give you some advice, which is why I am sending this at night rather than by the usual morning post. Hopefully, you will be able to read this away from prying eyes and avoid awkward questions.
From something the Minister let slip when telling me you are now a prefect, I gather that you are still seeing a lot of Tempestas Potter. I must tell you, Ron, that nothing could put you in danger of losing your badge more than continued fraternisation with that girl.
Yes, I am sure you are surprised to hear this - no doubt you will say that Potter has always been Dumbledore's favourite - but I feel bound to tell you that Dumbledore may not be in charge at Hogwarts much longer and the people who count have a very different - and probably more accurate - view of Miss Potter's behaviour. I shall say no more here, but if you look at the Daily Prophet tomorrow you will get a good idea of the way the wind is blowing - and see if you can spot yours truly.
Seriously, Ron, you do not want to be tarred with the same brush as Miss Potter, it could be very damaging to your future prospects, and I am talking here about life after school, too.
It may be that you are afraid to sever ties with Miss Potter –I know that she can be unbalanced and, for all I know, violent - but if you have any worries about this, or have spotted anything else in Miss Potter's behaviour that is troubling you, I urge you to speak to Dolores Umbridge, a truly delightful woman who I know will be only too happy to advise you.
This leads me to my other bit of advice. As I have hinted above, Dumbledore's regime at Hogwarts may soon be over. Your loyalty, Ron, should be not to him, but to the school and the Ministry. I am very sorry to hear that, so far, Professor Umbridge is encountering very little co-operation from staff as she strives to make those necessary changes within Hogwarts that the Ministry so ardently desires (although she should find this easier from next week - again, see the Daily Prophet tomorrow!). I shall say only this - a student who shows himself willing to help Professor Umbridge now may be very well-placed for Head Boyship in a couple of years
I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over the summer. It pains me to criticise our parents, but I am afraid I can no longer live under their roof while they remain mixed up with the dangerous crowd around Dumbledore. (If you are writing to Mother at any point, you might tell her that a certain Sturgis Podmore, who is a great friend of Dumbledore's, has recently been sent to Azkaban for trespass at the Ministry. Perhaps that will open their eyes to the kind of petty criminals with whom they are currently rubbing shoulders.) I count myself very lucky to have escaped the stigma of association with such people - the Minister really could not be more gracious to me - and I do hope, Ron, that you will not allow family ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our parents' beliefs and actions, either. I sincerely hope that, in time, they will realise how mistaken they were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full apology when that day comes.
Please think over what I have said most carefully, particularly the bit about Tempestas Potter, and congratulations again on becoming prefect.
Your brother, Percy.
"Alright, what is with this 'Miss Potter' business? And the constant use of my first name? I'm not a seven year old flower girl, or a flipping tea-sipping ninety year old woman!"
"Dunno," Ron said, looking down at the letter, his face red. "You mean you aren't…"
"Mad or pissed off?" Tempest laughed, amused. "Seriously Ron, you think a letter from your brother is enough to get me all riled up, you don't really know me at all… however, I can promise, that if you do choose to… what was it sever fingers? Or tie knots? Whatever- with me, then I swear I won't get violent. With you at least. We need you on the Quidditch team… preferably in one piece."
"Here, just-give me the letter," Ron said jerkily, holding out his hand for the letter that Tempest was still holding. "He is-" tearing Percy's letter in half, "the world's-" he tore it into quarters, "biggest-" he tore it into eights and then threw the pieces into the fire. "git."
"Now- come on," Ron said, "We've got to get these finished before dawn." He pulled the essays for Astronomy that they had been working on back towards them.
Tempest shook her head in wonder, staring at Ron. Sometimes, Tempest thought, she didn't give him enough credit for being an amazing person.
Hermione was staring at Ron too with an expression that could only be called admiring. "Oh give them here," she sighed, nodding at the essays. "I'll go over them for you."
"You will?" Ron said weakly, "You're a lifesaver Hermione… what can I-"
"You can promise to never leave your homework this late again," Hermione said, smiling slightly. "You too, Tempest, you might manage to skimp by on Transfiguration, Charms and Potions, but if you don't concentrate on your other subjects, you're going to start failing."
"I thought this was about Ron," Tempest said hurriedly. "And thank you by the way, Hermione… how is anyone meant to tell the difference between one star and the next? They're all the bloody same and they never stay in the same place in the sky! Really, in the OWLS I should get an O in Astronomy just for getting that the moon isn't a star."
Hermione rolled her eyes and turned back to Ron. "Alright, well the outline of your essay was alright," she said to Ron, "But your conclusion is a bit off- here write this down-" she handed Ron a piece of paper that she must have written in two minutes flat.
"Hermione, you are honestly the most wonderful person I've ever met,' said Ron weakly, 'and if I'm ever rude to you again-"
"- I'll know you're back to normal," said Hermione. "Tempest… did you write this half-asleep or what? Europa is not the size of Jupiter, nor is it a planet… where are you getting this from?"
Hermione sighed and continued reading Tempest's essay with a pained expression on her face.
"Please tell me at least that the reason you did this so badly was because you're still testing your products on the first years."
"Um… no?" Tempest said.
"You know you can't lie," Hermione said tiredly, crossing out a huge hunk of Tempest's essay and then penning in new lines neatly. "In any case… there was this thing I wanted to talk to you about…"
"Really?" Tempest said, raising an eyebrow. "That sounds serious… am I in trouble?"
Hermione looked at Ron almost like she was asking him for help, to which Ron shook his head frantically. "You tell her! It's your problem!"
"You can't pretend that you haven't noticed as well, Ron!"
"Well so what? She can do whatever she likes really-"
"Hey, hang on, hang on," Tempest cut in, "What on earth are you two talking about?"
Both heads snapped around to her, and Ron stood up, shifting uncomfortably. "I'm… going to go to bed. Goodnight."
He picked up his essay and left, leaving Tempest staring bemusedly after him, before her eyes shifted back to Hermione. "Now, are you going to tell me what you're going on about or not?"
Hermione was silent for several seconds, still staring at Tempest's essay- something that didn't fool Tempest at all, because Hermione's eyes were fixed on the exact same word, and had been there for the past few seconds.
"Oh, fine," Hermione said, "I hardly see you anymore, Tempest."
"Huh?" Tempest said, that was… unexpected. "What do you mean? We live in the same dormitory and sit together every class!"
"Yeah, I know," Hermione said awkwardly. "It's just… you're always with George… and Fred these days… and when you're not it's like you are because you're always talking about what grand schemes you're planning with them… do you talk about us to them like that?"
"Hermione, what the hell-"
"And it's fine if you like them," Hermione said hurriedly, rushing on, avoiding Tempest's eyes, "Just you're always with them, and I barely get to… I miss working on our homework together, and talking about how stupid the other girls are and just hanging out sometimes… I miss my best friend."
"Hermione!" Tempest said loudly, "Geez, why didn't you say so then? If you 'miss' me so much then just talk to me… it's not like I'd get offended or anything!"
"Well…" Hermione said slowly with an air of impending doom, "It's just… you seem pretty close to them."
"Close?" Tempest scoffed, "Of course we're close! Fred's practically my brother, and George's…" Tempest paused for a moment. She thought she saw George as a brother, but for some reason that definition just seemed wrong. "…well, he's George!"
"Really?" Hermione said doubtfully.
"What?" Tempest said, half laughing, because for reasons she could not fathom, this conversation was even more awkward than the one she had had with Minnie last year about… well, that wasn't really what she wanted to think about at the moment.
"I could have sworn that you and George-"
"Me and George what?"
"Well are you sure you think of him as 'just George'? Because anyone would have thought that you two were going out by the way you act… without the snogging of course…"
"I-hang on, you- what d'you mean the way we act?"
"Well, you two are always together for one- you eat together, you walk to class together- and he's not even in our year… he brings you food when you skip meals- which you do a lot… he has a nickname for you… he's all you ever talk about, and you're all he ever talks about… he carries your stuff for you-"
"He does not carry my stuff for me- that was just one time and what on earth are you talking about- I'm all he ever talks about… where are you getting this all from?
"You mean you haven't noticed?" Hermione asked incredulously, "Everyone with two eyes and a pair of ears knows! The way you two act around each other… Even the first years think you two are together…"
Tempest spluttered incoherently, "We're just friends, for Merlin's sake! Regardless of what you and whoever else is that deluded, thinks, I can assure you that George and I are on a strictly platonic level."
Hermione's expression was still just as disbelieving, and even with the conviction which she had that she and George were merely friends, Tempest thought back to the past year and her and George's so called 'relationship'. They were close, Tempest admitted, she was closer to George than she was to Fred, Ron, and Hermione even… but that mean nothing other than the fact that she trusted George completely, and that didn't mean she thought of him in any romantic way.
"If you're only friends, then why are you denying the fact that you like him in any other way so much?" Hermione asked. "The thing with you Tempest… when you don't want to believe something, you try not to so hard you actually start believing what you've told yourself."
Something that Tempest never thought she'd admit.
It occurred to Tempest that she was acting decidedly odd about Hermione bringing up George. Usually Tempest would have laughed derisively… after all it was the funniest thing she had heard in a while- and that was saying something- but why wasn't she finding this funny? Was it possible… no. That was ridiculous.
"Just… think about it, Tempest," Hermione said, standing up and giving Tempest back her essay.
"Think about what?" Tempest asked, knowing exactly what.
Hermione merely gave Tempest an odd smile. "Goodnight, Tempest," and then she left.
What. The. Hell?
That had to be… that had to be the single handedly the most confusing and at the same time infuriating conversation that Tempest had had recently… and she didn't know what to feel.
Was Hermione trying to say that George had feelings for her? That in itself was… surprisingly believable.
Which was stupid, because, well… it was George… and it was her… and… and why was it so hard to believe for her? Was it like Hermione said, and was she trying too hard to not believe in something she didn't want to believe in that she had actually begun to believe it?
Tempest huffed and shook her head furiously. That train of thought, even Tempest couldn't follow too clearly.
The portrait hole swung open, and George walked in laughing, two bottles of firewhiskey in hand.
Speak of the- Tempest broke off that train of thought, deciding she didn't need bad luck right then.
"Hey!" George said, spotting Tempest and flopping down beside her. "Didn't see you… want a firewhiskey?"
Tempest raised her eyebrows at George. "If you didn't know I was here, then why'd you have two bottles of firewhiskey in the first place?"
George shrugged innocently and passed Tempest a bottle. "Well, regardless, you can thank the house elves for this firewhiskey… I know you have a general rule where you make a point of not going to bed until at least ten… and it's around nine fifty six."
Tempest took a large sip of the firewhiskey, feeling it light burn down her throat and the flames tickling the inside of her oesophagus. Any other time, Tempest would have thought that the firewhiskey was nothing out of the ordinary… but now it seemed to have so many other meanings. And it was just her and George in the empty common room, and suddenly Tempest felt very aware of how close George was sitting to her with an arm slung over her shoulders, and their legs almost touching.
"So," Tempest said, shifting slightly, and trying to diffuse the tension that she hoped that George couldn't feel. "Where's Fred?"
"In a broom closet somewhere with Angelina," George grimaced. "He's been there for around an hour or so, so hopefully he'll be along soon."
Tempest relaxed slightly at their usual banter. Surely Hermione was mistaken… except that Hermione was rarely wrong.
"So I think I should find a nickname for you," Tempest said "After all, I'm Hedgy… and I can't really call you 'Georgie' all the time… it's not that original."
Tempest gave a covert sideways glance at George, who was wearing an odd expression. "Really?" he said, sounding strangely pleased.
Tempest felt a rather sinking sensation in her stomach. "Any ideas?"
"Dunno, I don't have any preferences," George said, grinning at Tempest. "Anything you like, I'm game for."
Tempest felt like someone was sitting on her chest at the moment. So if George did like her… if he did… "Oh alright," Tempest said, "I'll just wait for inspiration to strike."
Silence reigned for a moment in the common room, until George broke it.
"Something wrong?" he asked, "you're awfully quiet for a Sunday night."
"Oh? So I'm not allowed to sit in silence for a while?"
"Not being Hedgy, you're not."
Tempest gave a forced laugh, then quickly began another topic. "So what else did you bag from the kitchens? If I know you, which I boast to do quite well, then I know you wouldn't just have gotten a few bottles of firewhiskey without grabbing some food to go with it."
"And you know me too well," George sighed, leaning forwards and extracting a wrapped paper package from the pocket of his robes. "I got a few cakes, scones, an apple… ooh, oranges… and a bag of biscuits too… I know you like the oatmeal ones, and for me I have double chocolate chip, coconut, snickerdoodles, peanut-"
"Snickerdoodle!" Tempest exclaimed, "that's it!"
"That's it- what exactly? AS far as I know, I thought you thought that they were too sugary, or cinnamony… what was it again?"
That was it word for word. Tempest thought. And if George spent so much time actually listening to her spouting crap all the time…
"Your nickname- you're Snickerdoodle!"
George gapped in horror at Tempest, then groaned. "My nickname's going to be a biscuit?"
"Yeah, pretty much," Tempest said, grinning, "C'mon it could be worse… I could call you a Pepper Imp… or a Pumpkin Pasty… really, of them all, Snickerdoodle really is the lesser of several evils."
"Not really an evil," George said ruefully, "So much as a… there are no words."
There was something growing in the air between them, a feeling that was almost tangible, something that Tempest prayed to the stars that George couldn't feel… and suddenly she needed air. She needed to think. She really needed to have a drink. So she did. "Well," Tempest said, "this has been enlightening, and thank you for the firewhiskey, but I've got to go to bed.. so, see you in the morning?"
"Yeah, okay," George replied, a wry smile on his face. "I suppose I'll go find Fred… if McGonagall catches him and Angelina at it…" he whistled lowly.
Tempest gave an involuntary chuckle, wondering why when George smiled it wasn't just an ordinary smile, but something that seemed to light up his face with such a boyish expression of amusement that Tempest suddenly wanted to grin back with the same amount of enthusiasm.
Oh for heaven's sakes, some corner of Tempest's mind huffed, stop going all moony-eyed over George… and if you have to, then at least wait till he's gone!
And as George vanished out of the portrait hole, Tempest remained rooted to the spot in the middle of the Common room, the fire crackling along merrily in the corner, the only sound in the otherwise silent room.
"So what about you? Who are you moony-eyed over?"
"Uh, Katie... Katie Bell."
"Sixth year? Isn't that a bit young?"
"No… It's only one year… if it was two I wouldn't mind either.. what about you? Would you go for someone older than you?"
"Technically speaking, I'm 72… in dog years."
"I don't object to dating older women."
"But I object to dating younger men. But just for you, I'll thrown on another fifty six years just to even it up."
Even then… on the train ride… Had George been talking about her? And had she been flirting back? Her, Tempest, who never flirted with anyone?
Oh Merlin… was she over thinking things? Of course she was, that was a stupid question. Tempest preferred to do things, rather than think about them… but what should she do? She wasn't the sort of person who would just let something like that go without confronting the other person… Why didn't she confront George?
It was what she would have done for anyone else…
But George was her friend- above all else he was her closest friend, bar Sirius, and Tempest didn't just want to randomly jeopardize that for something that she thought.
After all, if George really did like her, then wouldn't he have said something? Just like her, he would never keep something like that bottled up… he'd have blurted it out as soon as his guard slipped… Unless…
Tempest wasn't going to confront George because she valued their friendship too much… she didn't want to risk it at all costs… but what if George felt the same? What if he was in the exact same place she was, and wasn't bringing it up with her because of that?
And if that was the case… then really, Tempest had nothing to lose.
If you're waiting for a bus that will never arrive… what would you do?
I would walk.
"I would run," Tempest breathed.
And then she was running, out of the portrait hole, digging the Marauder's map out of her pocket and yelling the words "I solemnly swear I am up to no good," as she sprinted around corridors, heading for the Astronomy tower, her heart pounding so loudly in her ears she thought it was a miracle it hadn't burst yet, when her eyes fell on a name, just by the edge of the Forbidden forest, a name that only appeared for a second, and then was gone again.
And Tempest skidded to a stop, all thoughts of George leaving her mind as she stared at the space where the name had been just seconds ago,
Surely it was a mistake, just a figment of her imagination…
…but the map never lied, Tempest knew that by now.
Then her whole world flipped upside down, and Tempest was sprinting again, only now in the opposite direction, heading for the nearest door that would take her to the Forbidden Forest where she had seen the name Peter Pettigrew.