calex (_calex_) wrote in artisticlicence,
calex
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artisticlicence

The Saboteurs (3/?)


Title: The Saboteurs
Author: Calex
Rating: 15
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and co. do not belong to me, rather they are the work of the wonderful JK Rowling. I’m just borrowing the characters and situations, here. No profit is being made.


Chapter 3: A Hogwarts Welcome

While the rest of the student body snickered over the prank, Freddie noted the glare of Professor McGonagall as she looked at them, a glare that was somewhat tempered by a look of reluctant amusement. It was very faint, though, and Freddie only caught it because she had been looking at the woman to see her reaction. After all, McGonagall was such a stickler for the rules, and she was the head of Gryffindor house, after all. Still, it must be a pain to have all four Marauders under one roof. Freddie suspected that the woman wished she could’ve done the same thing to them, herself. Many a time. Freddie felt fairly confident, then. And there was also the fact that McGonagall had no proof that they’d done it, especially with the name being as new as it was. People were just guessing who the Saboteurs were, but most of them guessed right. Who else could it be? The important thing was that McGonagall didn’t have any evidence, though.

Freddie smirked as the four were told to go upstairs for a change of clothing… or rather, to put on some clothes. Remus and Peter had flushed at that, but Potter and Black just smirked and sauntered off slowly…. Likely aware of every hungry, lascivious female gaze locked on their Quidditch toned bodies. And some male gazes as well. She hated to admit it, as much as they pained her so, but Potter and Black were easy on the eyes. Remus was as well, in a quieter, scholarly, kind way. But Potter and Black were gorgeous in a ne’er do well, arrogant pricks sort of way. And the worst thing was, they knew it. They even had the gall to wink at a few girls…who had not even the self respect to prevent themselves from swooning. Freddie found herself scowling darkly.

“Careful, Danvers, or your face might freeze that way.” Freddie glared at Black, who had stopped at her side. She was standing between him and the stairs to Gryffindor Tower. It annoyed her that she had to look up to meet his gaze, despite the fact that she was no tiny girl. He smirked at her, as she found herself lingering on the well developed pecs. Freddie found herself sneering.

“Bite me, Black.”

“Time, place and body part, sweetheart.” He winked at her. Black winked at her. Nate actually snarled and Saz choked. Freddie’s eyes were wide as she stared at the profligate rake of Hogwarts. It was such a suggestive thing to say, such a twisted, sly, Slytherin flirty thing to say. She liked it. She found herself mortified, but she liked it. Oh no, this was not going to happen. Seven years of close proximity with Black, she would not demean herself now by developing a crush on him. Freddie felt herself scowling.

“Be careful, I might actually take you up on that. Then you might get Snake cooties.”

“I’m sure I’ll live,” he returned, dryly. “If you’ve not noticed, my family is made up of snakes.” Damn his unruffled hide! Freddie was feeling exasperated by him at that point, and was sure that it showed. He was grinning at her expression, so she knew it must.

“You’re a thorn in my side.”

“Oh love, I feel the exact same way about you!” he clasped his hands to his heart and batted his ludicrously long eyelashes exaggeratedly, pretending to swoon. Freddie couldn’t help herself. She snorted with laughter. She could feel the horrified glances of Nate, Charlie and Oli at her back, but she chose to ignore them. She was quite adept at that.

“Get out,” she sighed in mock-weariness. “Put some clothes on and get decent. I’m half starved with the waiting.”

“And whose fault is that, eh?” Black demanded, but goodnaturedly. He shot her a slight grin. “Brilliant charms work, Danvers. I might have to look at your notes, someday.”

“In your dreams, Black!” she called out as he was dragged forcefully away by Potter, who had looked absolutely horrified over the whole tête-à-tête. She could hear him furiously, but quietly, berating his best friend in his lack of judgement at flirting with “that Danvers girl”. Freddie grinned. Ah, the Marauders. An endless source of amusement for her. Then she felt someone’s hand on her shoulder, and she felt herself being pulled around forcefully. Nate’s furious face loomed above her. Freddie yanked her arm out of his, angrily. “Watch it, Nate,” she snapped. “That hurt.”

“What the hell are you thinking?” Nate hissed. “That was Black. One of your professed nemeses. What the hell were you thinking in flirting with him? My god, Freddie, I thought you at least had some taste.”

“You need to be careful,” Freddie said, dangerously. “Very careful about you presume, Nate. What the hell has gotten into you? Black and I were just talking. We do that from time to time, you know. Why are you acting like the proverbial scorned partner? And what’s wrong with him? Last I checked, he was quite the catch. Pureblood, handsome, rich. And as none of us are interested in all that purity-of-blood-in-partners-and-friends shite, I don’t know what the hell you have to complain about.”

“He’s one of the Marauders, Freddie.”

“And so is Remus!” she shouted. Her hands were clenched at her sides, but she forced them to relax. She took a deep breath to calm herself. It was such a silly thing to blow up over. So she took the effort to not be so defensive. “Listen, Nate. I still don’t see why it’s any of your concern, but nothing was going on. Black and I were just talking. End of story, okay?”

“That wasn’t what it looked like,” he muttered, looking unhappy. His arms were crossed, and he was facing away from her. Sighing, Freddie touched his arm lightly, and although he took some time to do it, he finally turned his face to look at her.

“I promise. Nothing going on at all. Alright? Friends?” she asked, quietly. Nate reluctantly nodded, letting out a sigh. Then he forced himself to smile, slinging an arm around her shoulders.

“Always.” Then he shot a look at the rest, his eyebrows raised. “Come on, chaps. Do you want to get some food or not?” Charlie rolled his eyes at the other boy but the whole of the seven picked their way through to the Great Hall. Oli kissed Freddie’s cheek lightly just as he moved towards the Ravenclaw table, shaking the hands of some of his housemates, and quickly settling into a conversation. Freddie grinned at the sight as they remaining six settled into seats, smiling as some of their housemates congratulated them on a prank well done. It was quite the welcome back gift, that they had given the school. And it marked the beginning of the prank wars. Freddie felt her face settle into the familiar lines of a smirk as four flushed boys raced into the Great Hall…well, two flushed and two lazily sauntering. Let the games begin.

*



“FREDDIE, GET UP NOW!”

Freddie groaned, pulling her pillow over her head. She was not a morning person at the best of times, but considering the fact that yesterday had been their first day back after a long period of late nights and later mornings, Freddie was feeling justifiably disgruntled, she thought. So imagine her displeasure when her pillow was yanked forcefully off of her head, along with her duvet. Consider into the equation as well, the fact that the dungeons were freezing cold. She sat up in her bed with a yelp, her arms wrapped around herself, blearily glaring at the blurry forms of her best friends.

“You lot are not nice,” she growled, but was rewarded with the sound of Saz’s unrepentant snicker. With a tired groan, Freddie flopped back onto her nice, warm, fluffy, comfortable bed, her hand over her face. Then she carefully peeked at them from between her fingers. “What time is it?”

“Eight.” Saz smirked as Freddie swore, jumping out of bed immediately. Breakfast traditionally began at seven thirty, their first classes beginning at eight fifty. But today was their first day, and they needed to be downstairs by eight twenty to receive their schedules for the next year. Take into account the size of the castle, and Freddie was quite royally screwed if she didn’t leg it. She was a blur around the room as she threw on her uniform haphazardly, skirt carelessly zipped, shirt with only three buttons buttoned, tie not even tied, robes thrown on and not fastened. Running into the adjoining bathroom, she tied her hair into a ponytail that had no resemblance to a ponytail. Half of it was out of the hair tie, anyway, partly from her not having caught it, and party due to it falling out.

Saz, Chloe and Prue lounged on their beds, watching their friend’s frenzied movements with some amusement, content in their readiness. A few minutes later, Freddie got out looking clearer eyed, with a damp spot on her shirt and at her collar, a few strands of hair wet and matted to her forehead. Lazily running her fingers through her hair, throwing her friends a grin that showed off fresh, white teeth, Freddie struck a pose. Prue covered her mouth with her laughter, but Saz and Chloe didn’t even bother, snickering at their friend’s antics. Freddie pouted.

“Yes, yes, you look lovely,” Saz said, through her laughter. “Now come on, you vain git. We’ve ten minutes to get to the Great Hall before Slughorn blows a blood vessel.” Freddie agreed and soon the four were seen speeding toward the Great Hall, bags at the ready. When they got into the Hall, most people were already in there, sitting and talking to their friends, catching up and swapping holiday stories. Freddie grinned and waved when she saw Remus look up, and the boy grinned back, nodding at her.

Saz rolled her eyes at Freddie’s friendship with the quiet Marauder, but no one could fault her for Remus. They were both prefects, after all, and Remus was also in the Duelling Team, where Freddie was co-captain. Besides, the rest of the Saboteurs quite liked Remus. They found his quiet, dry wit appealing, his conversation interesting. But it was Freddie who was considered friends with him, but there was not much that they could do to stop Freddie when she got an idea into her head. Freddie was tenacious like that, she didn’t get rid of those ideas easily. And she had brought it to herself to befriend the boy.

What Saz didn’t like was the way that Black looked up as well, and shot Freddie a lazy smirk. She recognised the look that he shot her, hell, most of the student body could probably recognise that look. Saz turned to Freddie, found her friend shooting an equally cocky and challenging look to Black. Oh hell. Nate so had the right to be worried. Freddie was playing with fire, there. People would not like it, not only because they were from rival groups. It was also due to the fact of who Black’s family was… and what he had done to them. She just wasn’t thinking. They were in Slytherin, after all. No matter the fact that their housemates usually didn’t touch them, she should not be so complacent as to think that the shit wouldn’t hit the fan if she did anything with Black. Regulus was still in school, after all, even if the evil bitch, Bellatrix, was gone.

Saz’s gaze just happened to catch Nate’s. Shite… Nate looked ready to jump off his seat and drag Freddie to the Slytherin table. Kicking and screaming if need be. So, in the name of saving her friend, Saz gave Black the finger, delivered with a sweet smile, and subtly ground her foot into Freddie’s. It was testament to Freddie’s recovering skills that she did nothing more than wince very slightly before she turned to raise an eyebrow at Saz. Saz just tilted her head very slightly towards their house table and Freddie turned to brush off imaginary lint from her robes, the new position allowing her to see their table. When she caught sight of Nate, Freddie sighed. But the four of them walked on pretty briskly afterwards.

“Fredpet. A bit late, sweetheart?” Charlie asked with a grin. Freddie rolled her eyes at him, but gave him a perfunctory kiss good morning, and did the same to Nate. She took her usual seat by his side, but had hesitated for a split second. Nate’s body was practically vibrating with tension, and he was sitting very carefully, cutlery very meticulously going through the food in his plate. He didn’t even deign to acknowledge their presence. Freddie sighed explosively before she pinched his side. Hard. Nate yelped, fork and knife clattering noisily on his plate. The whole hall turned to stare at him as he whirled around and glared at her. Freddie saw the slight embarrassment, though, and grinned.

“Will you cease and desist?” Nate hissed. Freddie just smirked at her friend as she reached for some pancakes and French toast. The glass by her hand immediately filled with pumpkin juice, and the second filled with coffee, the aroma filling the air. The usual immature action had lowered the level of tension, though, as Prue giggled at his discomfort, Freddie exploiting his ticklish nature in public unnerving him from his anger. The conversation from then on went to much lighter things. Saz, Charlie and a few boys from the Quidditch team began discussing plays and practice times. Charlie was the Quidditch captain that year, and had already talked to Professor Slughorn about booking the pitch for Wednesday and Friday evenings. The pitch was a free-for-all on the weekends. The house that got there fastest got two days of slotted practice time as opposed to one. Charlie was in form, however, having been groomed to be captain since Gabriel Warrington had chosen him as a protégé last year.

Freddie was listening intently to their talk; even though she didn’t personally play the sport she had a great and abiding interest in it. That was how she got landed with the position of commentator, after all. She had to sneak some information out of Oli about Ravenclaw’s plays. She wouldn’t tell the team, though. She had her own morals. She just wanted to know. It helped her to predict who was going to win what match, and how. Made her “see” the game in her mind, better.

“We’ve got a solid team, this year,” Charlie was saying. “But since Warrington, Flint, Bletchley and Davis left, we’re going to need to get us a hell of a lot of amazing talent. We’ve got big shoes to fill.”

“What positions are open?” a curious fifth year was asking. Charlie smiled at him briefly.

“We’ve got one Chaser place open, seeker, and one beater. I’m the Keeper, Nate Chase is one of the Chasers, the other is Saz Whitley. Our Beater is Regulus Black.”

“When are tryouts going to be held?” another enterprising younger year asked.

“Today, after school. Look, I know you lot all have questions, but I’m not going to be repeating myself. I’ll post a notice up in the common room by Lunch, and I expect every single one of you who thinks he or she wants to play quidditch to read that. And I want you to be prompt. That’s all, thanks!” he said loudly, over the protests. Shaking his head as he turned his body subtly away from the crowd of questioners, he rolled his eyes at the amused glances of his friends. “Shut it. No matter how many times I see the captains being given this much grief, I never take it in.”

“How’s it feel to get the most coveted position of the Slytherin Quidditch Captain?” Freddie asked him, putting on her “interviewer” voice. Charlie made a face at her, but then a grin bloomed out. He looked honestly happy and excited.

“It feels fucking brilliant. It didn’t really hit me before, you know, that I was going to be Captain. But being in school sort of brings it back. Makes it real. I can’t wait for the matches to start.”

“Whoa, there,” Saz laughed. “Let’s start practicing before we make any grandiose plans on Quidditch Domination, eh?” Charlie threw a pea at her, which she just caught in her mouth and started to chew nonchalantly. Charlie scowled, crossing his arm and coming dangerously close to pouting.

“I hate you.”

“You don’t, really,” Saz chuckled. She shot an amused look to Freddie, who then turned to Charlie, holding an imaginary microphone in front of her.

“Mr. Mansfield, do you think that you are able to take Slytherin House all the way to the Quidditch House Finals?”

“Shut it,” Charlie muttered, mock-glaring at Freddie, but she just raised a challenging eyebrow at him. He sighed in impatience. “Of course I do! Don’t be daft. Hufflepuff’s no challenge, at least not now that Bones and Wood are gone. Ravenclaw’s got an alright team. Most of their players are still around. But if we play like we played last year, we’ll beat them, easy. It’s Gryffindor that we have to worry about. Hate to admit it, but Potter’s a more than decent seeker, and Black’s a tricky Chaser. He’s wicked accurate and absolutely fearless. Not to mention that one of the Wood brothers is in Gryffindor. They’ve got an impeccable Keeper, but he’s not without his faults. Then you’ve got ol’ Reliable Bill Weasley. He’s not a stellar player, but you can depend on him as a Beater. And he’s consistent. We beat them last year, but it was only just. And that was with some of our most fantastic players there. Some of them are gone, now, so unless Gryffindor’s got shite new players, or unless we get some bloody brilliant ones, it’s going to be a close call.”

“Ooh, the mighty Charles Mansfield admits to being scared of the Gryffindors,” Chloe teased with a grin. She shouted with laughter as Charles pulled her into a gentle headlock, tickling her. Prue was just giggling as her twin was attacked, Saz was outright laughing, as was Freddie. Nate even deigned to crack a grin. Some people were looking at them, but they had long since ceased to care. They were subject to a lot of attention usually, anyway. They’d simply gotten used to it. Then Freddie placed her head in her hands as she looked fully at Nate.

“Duelling. When are we starting?”

“Next week,” Nate answered. “I need to get Dumbledore to agree to the suggestions of the new members before the club can start. But we should have our first meeting by next Wednesday, latest. Why?”

“I need to tell Rem,” she answered truthfully. “I have a prefects meeting, tonight. He’s been wondering. It might be a good idea to get something written down for the rest of the club and team to look at as well.”

“Yeah, might be a good idea, actually,” Nate admitted, reluctantly. Then he grinned.. “See, you’re proving your usefulness at being co-captain already! I told you it’s not an empty position.”

“Oh shut up,” Freddie laughed. “Fine, make me sound useful. I’ll get to writing the notices, then. She looked up as Professor Slughorn approached their corner of the table. “Ah, professor! I’d thought you’d forgotten about us, for a second.”

“What, forget the lot of you?” Horace Slughorn chuckled. “Not likely, my dear. You’ve a full plate in front of you, Frederique.”

“Er, yes sir,” she said, wincing. At least he hadn’t called her Audrey. Thank the lord for small favours, though she figured Frederique was almost as bad. Why did Professor want to be so bloody formal all of the time? Things would be much simpler if they’d only just call her ‘Freddie’ and be done with it.

“Well, just don’t let it all bog you down. You know you can talk to me if you find it all too much, dear.” He passed the Saboteurs their schedules and with a smile he was gone. Freddie’s polite smile immediately turned into a grimace. She hated having to play up to the teachers, but she wasn’t dim. She knew that it was needed, to a certain extent. Then she looked at her schedule. Quadruple Advanced Potions in the morning, followed by double Advanced Transfiguration and a double Advanced Charms lesson. And a quadruple DADA lesson afterwards. The only things missing from that was her Ancient Runes class, but she had that first thing the next morning. She was quite excited about Ancient Runes, it was one of her favourite classes. In fact, she was excited about all of her classes. She loved them all so. Yes, N.E.W.T.S. was a fantastic two years, she’d gotten to drop all those blasted subjects that she’d had to do for O.W.L.S., like Divination… The she had another thought.

Bloody hell. She had every single lesson with the Marauders.

Freddie groaned.

*


The whole seven members of the Saboteurs were making their way towards Potions. Charlie was feeling smug, because unlike his “crazy and complete boffy” friends, he was only doing three subjects. They were still Advanced level classes, but they were still only three subjects, which was the absolute minimum required. Not to say that Charlie was stupider than the rest of them, he was just lazy. And he had a lot of responsibility as a Quidditch Captain. Not that Freddie didn’t have her plate full, either, but Freddie was crazy. She took ambition to whole new levels. They all knew that. Her family had a history of going to Ravenclaw as well as Slytherin, but Freddie had a mischievous, sneaky and cunning streak a mile wide. There could be no other house for her.

They made their way into the classroom just as the Professor entered it from his office. He shot the seven a smile as they made their ways into seats: Nate and Freddie together, Saz and Charlie, Oli, Prue and Chloe in the three person desk in the middle of the room. All the Marauders save Pettigrew was in the Advanced Potions class. Freddie had to give it to them, they were all intelligent blokes. They had to be, to come up with the kind of pranks that they did. To her surprise (and irritation, she told herself), she found Black looking at her again, that small, lazy smirk teasing at his lips. Feeling Nate’s stare at her back, Freddie turned away with a slight flush. She would not get into that…whatever it was. She proceeded to ignore him as she set up her parchment, quills and inkwell in front of her.

“Today, you will be learning how to brew a truth potion. This isn’t Veritaserum, but has a similar effect. If you have done it right, the person consuming the potion will feel compelled to answer you when you ask them a question, but unlike with Veritaserum, they will not be aware that they are doing so against their will. You have an hour and a half to brew this potion, then I will ask a few of you to demonstrate the effect with your partner. Begin.”

Freddie started to furiously copy the notes on the board before she started off for the ingredients. She and Nate had set up a system. He would get the heavier things that they needed, like cauldrons and the like, and she would get the rest. They even had a system of working that allowed them to do so flawlessly. Freddie had much finer work, so she was in charge of cutting up whatever needed cutting up, or grounding whatever needed grounding. Nate had an innate sense of knowing how or when to stir the potion, and an innate sense of timing. The two of them worked solidly for that hour and a half without unnecessary speaking, talking only when they had to ask on the progress of the potion, or the next ingredient to be added and so on. They finished the potion early, in fact, and as they waited the necessary five minutes for the potion to sit, they let out weary breaths almost simultaneously. Nate and Freddie shot a look at each other before snickering.

“That wasn’t too bad,” Freddie whispered to Nate as they started cleaning up, meticulously. Her wandering eye had noted that Saz and Charlie were almost done with theirs, while Oli and the twins had just finished. Not surprisingly, so had the Marauders. Lily Evans and Severus Snape, the most unlikely Potions partners ever, were lounging back, their potion carefully bottled. That wasn’t a surprise, either. They were two of the best potions students in the school. Snape especially seemed to just know with Potions. He had a great talent at it, even Slughorn had noted it.

Slughorn himself was not around to watch the students. He would stay in his office until they were all ready. He had not taken in any idiots into Advanced Potions, so he knew he could leave them to themselves… or perhaps he shouldn’t have been so hasty. With a sinking feeling, Freddie saw Black and Potter whispering, smirks on their faces as they looked at Snape. That was when she noticed that his clothes were slowly shredding itself from the bottom up. It was cleverly done, and very subtle. Snape probably wouldn’t notice it until his clothes just disintegrated, later.

Strangely, she felt anger bubbling inside of her. It was irrational for her to be angry about a prank that they were pulling on someone, a prank that even she had to admit was genius. But it was just wrong. She may be a Slytherin, but Freddie had a sense of moral justice. There was a difference between pranking a group of people who were aware that you were going to do it, a group of people that could give as good as they got. For two of them to go against Snape… that was bullying, plain and simple. Besides, Snape was a housemate.

It embarrassed her to admit, even to herself, but if Snape hadn’t been a housemate, she might’ve left it. She’d tell herself that it wasn’t any of her business and let them at it. But she had no excuses, now. It wasn’t her business still, sure, but in a way she kind of felt a bit betrayed. Black had been flirting with her and treating her like any other girl, and here he was, making fun of her classmate because he was a “greasy Slytherin git”. Well, she was an un-greasy Slytherin git, and she wouldn’t let him treat her like that. So she pushed herself out of her chair and stalked over towards them.

Black caught sight of her and his wand was quickly retracted, and that lazy smile was back on his face. Freddie wasn’t smiling back, this time. She just stood with her body between them and Snape. Planting her palms on their desk, she looked at Potter and Black squarely, while the rest of the class looked on in interest.

“Danvers,” Black purred. “What on earth are you doing here in our humble little corner?”

“You leave him alone,” was all she said, cutting straight to the chase. “It’s not funny. You’ve no right to gang up on one person.” Snape and Lily had overheard this, and Snape’s face was confused before he noticed the state of his robes. Then he looked absolutely furious. So did Lily. She jumped up to face off Potter as well, but Freddie shot her a warning glance, looking at her Head Girl badge. Lily took the hint and seemed to deflate a bit. She turned to face the Marauders with an icy look.

Grow up,” Lily spat, hatefully. “How many times have I told you to leave him alone. For God’s sake, Potter, you’re Head Boy, now. You can’t go around bullying people.”

“I’m not bullying him!” Potter interjected, looking wounded. Freddie’s face turned icy as well, matching Lily’s. The two girls stood with their arms crossed, Lily facing Potter, Freddie facing Black. Remus seemed to shrink in his seat, looking equally embarrassed and guilty.

“What do you call ganging up on a person, Potter, and trying to shred his clothes? Or push him around. Or hang him upside down so his boxers show?” Freddie asked, quietly. “You’ve been bullying him, pure and simple. No need to hide from the fact. My god, and some of your tricks are bloody brilliant, but as pranks. You’ve crossed the line with Snape, and you’ve really got to find the balance before it blows up in your faces. I don’t mind a bit of spot between the Marauders and us, but at least do it to someone who can pay you back. Hating someone is no reason to bully them, because to be perfectly honest, it makes you no better than those you profess to hate.” Freddie said that delicately, carefully shying from actually saying either ‘Death Eaters’ or ‘Voldemort’s followers’, due to the fact that she knew the majority of her house were “followers of the cause”, as they called themselves.

Potter looked angry for a moment, as though to say how dare Freddie accuse him of such a thing, but Lily’s glare quelled whatever comment he was going to make. Sirius was quiet, just staring at Freddie’s face. She could read the question in his eyes. ‘Why do it? Why protect him’? Freddie’s look could be read simply, easily: ‘Because it’s the right thing to do’. Then she turned on her heel and looked at Snape, who looked like he had swallowed a lemon.

“You alright?” she asked quietly, fingers gently touching his arm. To her surprise, he yanked his arm from her touch, his glare dark on her face, mouth twisted in a sneer.

“I’m fine,” he snapped. “And I certain didn’t need any help, especially from the likes of you.” Freddie felt wounded. Then a little bit angry. The ungrateful little shite! She had just helped him from embarrassment, and he turned on her? A housemate? That was too much. She glared at him.

“Well, your welcome,” she snapped, sarcastically. “Really, no need for the heartfelt thanks, I only did what I thought I had to do in order to help out a fellow housemate.”

“I don’t need help from you, blood traitor,” Snape spat out. In a split second, Black was around the table and had his wand pointer right between Snape’s eyes. He looked so angry, but his stance was perfect.

“Just say one more word, Snivellus,” Black hissed out. “Just one word. I dare you.” Snape was glaring at Black, but he bit his tongue. Freddie sighed in exasperation at the act, but had to admit at being impressed. He was quick. Maybe even as quick as she was. Perhaps even quicker. She really wanted to see him in Duelling, now.

“Leave off, Black,” Freddie snapped. “I’m fine. Not like I’ve never been called that before.”

“No.” Black said, calmly. He was still looking at Snape. “I believe you owe the lady an apology.”

“Black, I said leave it,” Freddie repeated, but this time her tone was harsher. He held his position for a second longer, before he pulled away and shrugged, as if to say ‘sorry, got carried away’. Freddie didn’t believe it for a moment. Freddie just stared at him for a while, strangely flattered that he had felt so outraged on her behalf. Then her wand was trained on Snape.

“Now, I’m just going to say this once,” Freddie said, voice mild and almost pleasant. “You don’t insult me. Not because I’m a girl, or because my blood is purer than yours, though it is. It’s not because I’m a prefect, though I am. It’s simply due to the fact that when it comes to Duelling, I’m simply better, faster and nastier than you are. You will not forget that I am the co-captain of the team, you will not forget that I have helped bring the championship trophy home almost as much as Nate has. And you will not forget that I have the power to use you as a guinea pig in Duelling for as long as I like. Do you understand me, Snape?” He muttered something, glaring hatefully. The point of Freddie’s wand pressed harder against the flesh of his throat. “I didn’t hear you,” she said, softly.

“I said yes,” Snape spat out. Freddie kept her wand trained on him for a second more, just as Black had done, then pulled away. But she kept her wand in her hand. She twirled it a little, the movement easy on her agile fingers. Her eyes were hard. Then she grinned, and the expression melted easily off.

“Good. I’d hate to lose a good member. It’s a bloody pain to train up a newbie.”

With that, Freddie turned on her heel and walked back to her table. Not before she heard Black mutter, not-so-subtly to his friends, that he would have to marry her one day. Freddie felt herself flushing, but she figured it was a decent enough day. Nate had already bottled the potion and he simply raised an eyebrow at her. Freddie shrugged and her friend left it, but Freddie knew there would be questions later. Slughorn took that moment to come out of his office, beaming as he saw the finished potions.

“Good, good. Who would like to demonstrate first? Any volunteers? Hmm? Danvers and Chase?”

“Yes, Professor,” Freddie and Nate chorused. Then the two of them looked at each other and grimaced subtly, simultaneously.

*


“Freddie!”

She stopped, her friends around her, as Remus skidded to a halt at her side. He was flushed from the rush and he looked embarrassed, but also like he was torn. He bit his lip as he looked at Nate and the others nervously. He did look like a wreck, Freddie thought. She felt sorry for him.

“Rem,” she said, gently. “What’s going on?”

“I just…” he sighed, seemed to struggle with himself. Then he looked up, and the shame was even stronger in his eyes. “I guess I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. For not standing up to my friends, even when I know that they’re wrong.”

“Oh Rem,” Freddie hugged the miserable boy. “Don’t be sorry. It’s difficult to do that, I know. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about that, you’re only human after all.”

“But you did. You stood up for him, and he doesn’t even like you.”

“Look,” Freddie said, reasonably. “You have nothing to feel bad about. Frankly, I almost wish I hadn’t even bothered, with all the thanks the little shit showed. I don’t even know what came over me. Hell, I even ended up threatening to hex the prat! So my attempt at rescue fell quite flat, I assure you. I promise you, Rem, no one things the worse of you for the things you choose or choose not to do, okay? I swear. I think you’re absolutely fabulous, and I wouldn’t change you for the world. Alright?” Remus smiled weakly and Freddie hugged him fiercely again. “And no more long face. I want one of my top Duellists to be in top form, and melancholy really takes that away, you know.” He managed to crack a grin at that, and she smiled, satisfied at a job well done. He nodded his thanks to Freddie.

And then she somehow found herself walking with the rest of the Marauders. It made sense, considering Remus was still there, and they had all the same lessons. She wanted to groan as she found herself walking with Nate at one side and Black at the other. Well, this year promised to be interesting, at least…

end part 3
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