Woot! Chapter written in record time... ahh, holidays...
Now- I feel I should clarify some stuff.
Firstly, I mistakenly wote that the Transfiguration teacher was named Professor Jones in an earlier chapter. His name is actually Burns... I got confused when I was writing it out. Jones is Tamara's last name...
Secondly; I recognise that Pheonix McShea has a 'misspelled' name- the actual creature is, of course, Phoenix. However this is done on purpose- her name is pronounced with a little stress on the individual vowels (fee-oh-nix), and hey, her parents are the new-age sort that give children 'unique' names with 'unconventional spellings' to make them even more 'unique'.
Thirdly... I do not own Harry Potter and the universe associated. Most of the characters here are my own, but all canon ones are the exclusive property of JK Rowling, the lovely woman.
Lastly- guess what? I like reviews. Please write them :)
Despite my late night, I woke early.
I tossed and turned, but couldn't get back to sleep. Resigning myself to the awakened state, I got dressed and started working again on my Potions essay.
Without realising, I spent almost an hour on a single paragraph.
"Flo? What're you doing?" Diana mumbled, rubbing her porcelain cheeks to get some colour into them.
"Sh-ssshuddap, Di..." Stephanie mumbled, rolling over in her bed. "Gobacktossleep..."
Diana shrugged, planted her dainty feet on the ground and began rounds of the room, waking everyone with light taps to the shoulders.
Steph waved an arm wildly, aiming for her face, before rolling over again- she ran out of bed. Off she toppled, covers and all, to land with a substantial thud on the floor.
"Dammit Turtle!" She groaned.
By this time, Charlotte was ready enough to tie my tie again, and head down into the common room, where we greeted a bleary-eyed Max.
He yawned widely. "Don't you hate the day after Astronomy?"
Lottie grinned. "I'd say, from the look of those bags, Astronomy's not the problem." She measured the dark circles under his eyes with pinched fingers. "That much- Astronomy. But that- they're staying up late gossiping eyes."
He shoved her away. "Get out of it. Men don't gossip."
I stood there and pretended to know what gossip meant.
"Fine. Plot. Calculate. Plan and distribute tales of social deviancies."
"Early morning, small words, please, Charlotte."
"Tell me what you boys were chatting about to- ooh, I'd say... three am?" She scrutinised his eyes again. "Around that- and I'll start using words of a more palatable portion."
At a nod from Lottie, we took an arm each and marched him out of the common room, headed for the Hall.
"Early morning, no French, please Florence."
We all stopped at a landing. "Whatever. You'll all find out soon enough, anyway. Finn's going to ask Grace Parrish out."
Charlotte clapped her hands in delight. "See? Classic gossip. Now, shoo- to breakfast."
Max pulled a rude face at us and led the way to food, glorious food.
During Runes, I clumped as close to my Gryffindor friends as I could- Arica, Kirk and Iwan seemed to have heard the 'gossip', too, and followed suit, leaving Grace and Finn sitting up the back, hopefully fulfilling our expectations.
"What I wouldn't give to have known that before-" Hugo muttered after we had filled him and Pheonix in. "I'd have brought my extendable ears."
"You still have them?" Pheonix asked incredulously.
"Why wouldn't I?"
"I thought Mouse took them off you!"
He winked. "She did, but she couldn't resist my charm- gave them back."
We all hit him playfully. He looked the picture of innocence.
History was far less interesting. Everyone- the Hufflepuffs seemed to know, now, too- avoided the hopeful new couple, leaving just the pre-determined pair of Adam and Fiona nearby.
Binns noticed nothing.
I read my textbook, took notes, and sneakily finished off my Potions essay just before the bell went.
Finn and Grace were conspicuously absent from our regular lakeside haunt. Despite his skills not being exemplary, his absence was noted in that no one played catch. Instead, we found our own things to do.
Max skimmed stones over the lake, occasionally bewitching the pebbles to go further.
Iwan and Arica got into a heated argument about how the stars affected or foretold aspects of our daily lives- Arica clearly took Divination, Iwan didn't. "So help me, Iwan-" I noticed no one called Iwan by his last name- I'd seen it written down somewhere, it was about twenty letters long, hyphenated, and unpronounceable- "Next time I see him, I'll get Firenze to give you a good kicking..." But the boy was only laughing at Arica's threats.
Peter, Daniel and Nathan, meanwhile, had stolen Steph and Di's books. It seemed they were having to levitate them out of Diana's substantial reach, since she was several inches taller even than Peter, the second-tallest Ravenclaw boy, after Kirk.
Tammy and Lottie were skulking around, looking for fellow Quidditch team members to discuss game plans with. I heard Tammy shout something out before they both broke into a run and got involved in a conversation with a bunch of older Ravenclaws.
That just left me sitting idly, and Kirk standing idly.
After an awkward pause, he came to sit next to me, brushing off any lingering idleness. "Cold, innit?"
I stared at him. "Oui."
"Gets this cold in France?"
"In some places- not at Beauxbatons."
"Where is Beauxbatons, anyway?"
I made a show of zipping my lips.
He smiled even as he stared at me, presumably to make me confess. "That's what I like about you, Florence- you're good for conversation."
I giggled. "Secrets are secrets, Kirk."
"And the French are French."
"Precisement." I smiled.
"That's not a good thing. Even our muggles can beat yours at Wars."
"Oh, Pardon- 'oo still 'as a King?"
He paused, mouth open. "Aw, sod it."
I bowed my head. "Merci."
From within the depths of the castle, the bell rang.
Kirk stood and offered me a hand up. I took it, brushing off my skirt as I stood. "Merci encore."
He smiled again for a second. "My pleasure."
Transfiguration passed wonderfully. We were turning pigeons into doves, and- apart from one alarming incident where my pigeon fluttered off unexpectedly and I gave my desk soft white plumage- I did rather well.
"I like the eye-colour change- good detail, Miss Ames." Prof Burns pointed out my dove's blue eyes, and then everyone else's with retained brown. "O'Kelly, I don't know what you've done to your bird, but it looks more like a duck. Stop paying so much attention to Miss Parrish and you might get somewhere."
The entire class giggled, except Max, who I'm sure laughed in a very manly, non-gossipy way.
"Ah. I see. Well, good luck to you two, and if you're so good as to pay no attention whatsoever to my class, I'll be sure and give you detentions together."
His wink and perpetual smile told us all he was joking, but Finn's bird certainly got daintier after that.
Our after-lunch break was spent almost exclusively skulking around Hagrid's hut, waiting for double Creatures to begin.
There were interesting noises emerging from the rustic home, and we were therefore suitably interested.
When the massive man finally emerged from his hut, he was hauling a large crate.
"Got summat a little dif'rent today." Hagrid beamed, pointing at the crate, which shook and emitted several indignant squeaks.
The rest of the class arrived, and joined us in staring in fearful anticipation.
"Hagrid, on a scale of one to ten, how dangerous is whatever's in that crate?" Max asked, arms crossed.
"Wha'? Hardly dangerous at all."
"By your standards or ours?" Pheonix grinned.
"Look- They may be a little rude, mind, but there's no 'arm in 'em." He pulled another box from behind his back. "Ev'ryone take a few rats, that's tha way..."
"Eiw!" Minuetta drew her hand away, noticing the rats were freshly killed.
"This is disgusting, Professor." Celina sneered.
We stared at her. "Did you just agree with Minnie?" Pheonix spoke slowly.
"No. She was ineloquent and dim, as per usual-"
"You- you shut up!" The Hufflepuff girl I knew only as Davies shook as she stood up to Celina.
"Now, now, that's enough- Mussvolen, don' be rude. And Phi- don' goad 'er." He eyed Pheonix, but she only smiled.
"Alrigh', now, everyone got some rats?"
We all nodded that we had. The three in my hand were dripping something vaguely sticky down my wrist, but since a few years ago, when I had gone with Guillame to help our muggle neighbours with the cattle slaughter after their patriarch broke his leg, this was nothing.
"Okay. I'm gonna let 'em out now- take a Jarvey each, there should be enough-"
"Jarveys?" Richard looked ominous.
"Yep. Feed 'em the rats, they'll like yer."
I peered inside the crate as he opened it, wondering what a Jarvey was, since I didn't recognise the name.
What looked like a ferret came bouncing out, and almost attached itself to my hand in an attempt to get the rats.
I squealed in shock.
Celina, I could hear, was laughing nastily. I heard two boys laughing too, but they were both quickly silenced.
"Parlfurets." I gasped back to my brothers.
They both nodded and moved forward, now knowing what exactly we were dealing with. We'd had one burrow under the chicken coop once, frightening all the hens and offending our mother no end.
Hagrid made no attempt whatsoever to give us any theory. Most of the others seemed to know about them, anyway; overgrown ferrets, capable of rudimentary- and often just plain rude- speech.
Therefore, the next hour and a half passed in a rush of curses and laughter, from both the creatures and students. We fed the Jarveys and allowed them to call us names- some people called them names back, and in fact Didier's bopped him on the nose after one haughty insult.
"Don' antagonise 'em..." Hagrid pulled the creature off.
"'Ow was I supposed to know ze zing would speak French?"
"What'd you say?" Richard asked interestedly, clearly wanting some foul French to add to his repertoire.
"I zink it is 'ow you said it." I called over to him, having spent the last ten minutes laying some of my worst depredations on my Jarvey in a soothing tone, and emerging unscathed.
Hagrid was suddenly distracted by something. "Don' go teachin' 'em words, they know enough already." He growled at Celina, who was bent over whispering to hers.
"Oh, come on, it's not even out of order, what I'm teaching him. Basic values- what every dumb beast should learn." She smirked. "I believe that's the Hufflepuff motto, isn't it?"
Minuetta flushed bright pink, and her delicate fingers balled into fists.
Her friend stood up. "Leave off, you-" and then she said something that made Minnie gasp 'Beatrice!', and which several Jarveys gleefully repeated.
Celina walked towards the girls menacingly. "Think that's a trick, Davies? Try this one." She nodded at her Jarvey, who scooted through everyone's legs to pounce on Pheonix's shoulder and start yelling in her ear.
"Mudblood! Mudblood! Ya soddin' mudblood, ya phooey-"
Hagrid roared- really roared, like an animal. I backed up, right into Max, who grabbed my shoulders and held me steady. The mammoth professor ripped the Jarvey away, tossed it into the crate and turned on Celina.
"Don' you ever- ever use tha' word. Clear? Never, Mussvolen."
She smirked, but her face was pale and her fingers shook even as she clasped them in triumph. "B-basic values- like I said."
"I'll give yer basic values- fifty points from Slytherin, an' detention fer you- go see de Morgan righ' now ter sort it out. An' don't come back inter my class 'til you 'ave. Got it?"
Finally, the cool exterior cracked, and she nodded meekly. Turning on one hell, she marched back up to the castle, shaking either from rage or fear, I wasn't sure.
I damn well hoped it was fear, though.
Pheonix had taken the episode hard, and was invited in for a cup of tea by Hagrid after class. Adrien offered to stay with her, and Didier offered, with Richard, to spread the word that Celina had lost their House fifty points, just to get our own back.
I stayed with Lottie and Max, helping Minnie and Beatrice clean up after the class, which they had offered to do, feeling guilty that it was their argument that had led to Pheonix's upset.
Max attempted to appease them while we worked. "You know Celina and Phi- they've always hated each-other, it's not down to you two that she did that-"
"Poisonous cow." Lottie interrupted, throwing a piece of rat intestine at a tree in anger.
Bea scrutinized the tree, and hmphed with satisfaction, "Looks like her face and all." All her charitable emotions I had seen had clearly run dry.
"What is ze point of zis Pure-blood nonsense anyway?" I blurted. "Alors, c'est tout de conneries!"
My four companions nodded their agreement, even though only Charlotte understood what I'd said- and even then, only half.
Max was particularly fervent in his agreement. "Just because we're muggle-born doesn't mean we're sodding useless."
Charlotte agreed. "You're way smarter than that slimy bitch, Max."
"And nicer." Minuetta added.
"You've got a better sense of humour." Beatrice's voice was tinged with darkness.
Max waved his hand in a show of flattery. "Aw, gee, shucks."
Lottie laughed. "Shut up." She whacked his shoulder.
I was smiling, pleased with the fact we'd finished scraping rat guts off the manicured grass, and continued to be just as content as we sat down on the now clean lawn to continue our discussion.
"Hey, Flo?" Max asked suddenly.
"You lived on a farm, right- that mean you're muggle-born?"
I laughed. "No. I am... 'alf-blood, I zink."
I shrugged. "My fazer was from an old magic family. My mozer was muggle-born- it was 'er parents' farm. Ferme d'Ames."
Charlotte looked surprised. "Does that mean... you took on your mother's name?"
I could see from everyone else's looks they hadn't picked it up. "Oui. After my fazer told 'is parents zat 'e was wanting to marry a muggle-born, zey... déshérite-il." I glanced around for any chance that Lottie could supply me with the English. She shook her head. "Er... exiled?"
"Cut him off?" Max asked.
"Oh! Disinherited!" Lottie got my answer- then realised what I'd said. "That's awful."
"Prats." Max spat.
"Zey were not nice. We spent some of our vacances zere, when I was were always rude about Maman." I coughed. "Mind you, my mamie- grandmozzzer- was never very liking of magic."
Beatrice shook her head. "Sometimes I'm glad my family's so simple." At my glance, she elaborated. "My parents both went to this School." She gestured up at the castle. "Together since their sixth or seventh year, I think."
"Aw, that's sweet." Minnie cooed.
I was sure the others were continuing their conversation, but I was off in my own world, remembering the last trip we had taken, up past Lyon, to our Grandparents...
Being privy, as your father is, to the intake of Beauxbatons students, we were lately surprised to hear of the entrance of one Guillame Etienne Ames- the offspring of you, our son, and evidently that muggle-born.
Your father and I are frankly astonished we have had no news of this grandson of ours, as we rather expected to be informed when our noble bloodline was passed on (The fact that this boy does not bear our name, I might add, causes your father no little distress).
We therefore, in light of this discovery, invite the child to spend his Christmas break with us, as it's far too far to travel all the way back to that southern abode of yours- if indeed you are still in residence, which I must confess we hope against- from Charles de Gaulle. It would be far more suitable for the boy to travel to Lyon, where we can take him for Christmas.
I finished reading the copy of the years-old letter and looked up at Cina.
"How dare they?" Didier hissed, having read over my shoulder.
Adrien nodded, also doing the same. "So rude."
I shook my head. "Did they really not know about us until then?"
Cina pulled a second letter out of her pocket. "Really. Look- I found the reply they got, too."
I'm not surprised you were surprised to hear you had a grandson, since if you remember, words were had shortly before I married 'that muggle born', who is in fact called Marie, and would probably prefer that title, words which directly relate, funnily enough, to not only being unaware of Guillame, but also Capucine, Adrien, Didier and Florence. And Imight add that those words are also the reason I took Marie's name for my family, and even why we haven't talked in almost twelve years.
If, however, you're willing to become part of my family again, I'd be only too happy to let the kids stay with you for a while. Of course, that's on the condition that it's not over Christmas, since Guy will be returning to us (yes, we're still 'in residence' at the Farm), and as more of them enter school, they will be staying there, and that not a single word is spoken against their mother, who is as good a witch as I am a wizard, if not better.
After Guy's school year, we could organise a visit. He will be eleven by then, Cina will be nine, and the triplets, Adri, Dids and Flo will be six. They're a bit of a handful, but I'd like it if you could know your grandchildren.
"Twelve years?" I asked in surprise.
"That's a really long time." Didier let his mouth drop open as he said possibly the stupidest thing since he'd first learned to talk.
Adrien rolled his eyes. "Yeah, it is."
"I mean, we're only thirteen. Imagine not talking to Maman et Papa for almost our whole lives." I whistled.
"And see?" Cina pointed to some underlined sections. "They really do hate Maman."
Just then, Guy walked in. "What're you all up to?"
"Reading." Cina thrust the letters in our brother's direction. He adjusted his glasses and mouthed the words as he read them.
His face darkened. "Cina- where'd you find these?"
"Grand-pere's study. See? Always told you they hated-"
"I know!" Guy cut her off. "Of course I know that. It's just that I don't want-"
"Let's get all that muggle nonsense out of your heads!" Didier imitated grand-mere's imposing voice.
"Farming? Farming is muggle's work, and best left to them!" I giggled, playing along.
"Us sorcerers are given to loftier things than cultivating muddy holes in the ground." Adrien finished my quote off.
Guy turned to Capucine. "I don't want the triplets to know that. They're kids, Cina."
"We're thirteen!" I protested.
"And we hate grand-mere and grand-pere just as much as you." Adrien added.
"If not more," Didier complained. "Grand-mere doesn't hex the dirt off your nose, does she?"
"Enough!" Guy shouted, making us all fall into silence. "There's not much we can do about this-"
"I want to go home." I said it very quietly, but Guillame heard.
His face instantly softened, and he held one of my hands gently. "I'll talk to them, okay? Cina, you stay here. Don't want this turning into another row."
Cina sat on one of the grand couches as Guy left, and beckoned us over. We heaped ourselves onto her delicate frame and mucked about playing stacks on, plaiting each-other's hair and telling jokes until we heard loud yells.
Guillame had clearly gotten into a shouting match with our grandparents.
"Don't want it to be a row..." Cina muttered. We laughed.
We were still laughing when the House-elves took our cases out into the street and closed the door in our faces.
Guy grimaced in a show of being upset, a grin fighting to emerge. "You know, I don't think they're going to want us back next year."
"Flo, you coming?"
I roused myself, realising it was beginning to get dark. The others were standing, Max just having nudged me.
"Oh- oui, pardon."
"It's almost dinnertime." Charlotte explained.
"'Ave Pheonix and Adrien come out yet?" I eyed Hagrid's hut.
"No, but they'll be fine. He's probably just given them something to eat." Max grinned. "It takes a while to chew..."
I didn't bother to get an explanation for his comment, content just to accompany the others back up to the castle.
The Hufflepuffs bade us farewell in the entrance hall, heading in the opposite direction to us.
Max looked at his watch. "We've got just enough time to get changed before dinner."
I stared at my shirt- once white and crisp, neatly laundered like all my clothes, it was now crumpled, stained with rat guts and ripped a bit where my Jarvey had grabbed me a few times.
"Good idea." I led the way upstairs.
By the time we had changed and come down again, the Hall was filling up. We scurried around the clumps of people, aiming for our usual seats.
"Why so late?" Tammy asked conversationally as we finally thumped down.
"Creatures." Lottie grunted.
"How's that an excuse for being late to dinner?" Stephanie asked.
"Just because you always turn up ten minutes early for any meal..." Diana teased.
Charlotte answered the question anyway. "A combination of bloody Jarveys, and bloody Celina Mussvolen."
"Screw her." Arica speared a piece of lamb rather more violently than was required.
We all agreed loudly.
Nathan leaned over. "Apparently her Slytherin fanclub's looking a little thin on the ground, recently, too."
Dan grinned. "Guess who lost her House fifty points today?"
"No way." Steph gasped.
"Look at the hourglass." Nate winked.
"And Mussvolen's face." Dan added.
"Not to mention her friends' faces."
Didier and Richard had clearly done their job well. Charlotte, Max and I shared a smile.
"J'irais jusqu'au bout du monde, je me ferais teindre en blonde, si tu me le demandais- j'irais décrocher la Lune-" I plucked my mandolin strings innocently, staring pointedly at Grace.
Charlotte had her face buried in a pillow, trying very hard not to laugh.
"What is that song?" Diana asked, coming to sit next to me, leaning against the end of my bed, as I was.
"Edith Piaf." I replied cagily.
"Is it really?" Grace asked. "My dad loves her!"
I smiled; glad she didn't know the exact song.
"I know it's Piaf, Flo- what song?" Diana pressed.
Lottie put her chin on her hand and stared at me expectantly.
"Err... hymne a l'amour." I answered quickly.
"Ode to loooove!" Lottie threw her hands into the air, enjoying my moment of exposure. "Finn and Grace, Finn and Grace, Gracie Gracie..."
Grace's eyes narrowed. "Why, you- I wondered why you were ogling me!" She leaped for me, and I dodged, squealing, out of the way.
Tammy helpfully leaned in and grabbed my mandolin out of harm's reach, stowing it safely in the case before throwing herself into the fun melee that was fast developing.
A pillow whacked me in the face. I blinked to see Arica grinning at me, crooking on finger in a come on; bring it motion.
Roaring, I grabbed my own pillow and hit back.
Everyone was now involved- Stephanie was bouncing up and down, singing some nonsense song about Grace and Finn being in a tree, doing something with the alphabet, before Diana hit her and managed to explode her pillow.
We all stopped and stared at what looked like indoor snow. It suddenly got very quiet.
Meekly, we spit out downy feathers and retreated to our own beds, hoping the House-elves wouldn't be too upset by the fluffy carnage left in our dormitory.