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Chapter 9: Sleeping Dragons
It was October, which meant the days were getting shorter and colder, and the two hundred and sixty Ravenclaws crowded into either the library, common room or dormitories. It also meant that in the aforementioned common room, pandemonium reigned. Not to the extent of the Gryffindor common room, apparently, but we had juniors playing Exploding Snap, Monopoly (“YUSS I got Diagon Alley, you’re all screwed now!”) and various noisy Muggle games, and crabby seniors yelling at them to shut up because they needed to concentrate on Potions/Transfiguration/Arithmancy/Ancient Runes/Muggle Studies/Defence/Herbology/Charms and shouting threats and insults that came straight out of the topics they were studying—“Shut up or I’ll Crucio your sorry ass!” “You lot are worse than Mandrakes!” “I’ll turn your pet rat into a teacup, I need something to practice on!” and my personal favourite, “I’ll get the prefects onto you and you’ll get kicked out of Hogwarts and have to live in the Muggle world without magic coz they’ll break your wand and you’ll have to learn all the crap we learn in Muggle Studies in all your subjects and you’ll have to pretend you care about the Treaty of Versailles, so shut your Merlin-damn mouths!” Thank you, Lydia Moody, for that pearl of wisdom.
“So what was the Treaty of Versailles again?” I asked her quietly.
“I don’t know,” she said exasperatedly, throwing her quill onto the table, “And to be honest I don’t give a crap.”
“We have to write an essay on it,” I pointed out gloomily. “Or we get more detentions from Burbage and less house points, and I’m over coming third.”
“I can’t believe we’re being beaten by Hufflepuff,” Lydia said miserably, banging her head on the surface of the table.
“That is, admittedly, my fault.”
This had the effect of making Lydia whack me over the head, and I resolved not to point out such things in her presence again.
One thing that had to be said about Dumbledore’s Army, however: it took the edge off our anger and need to rebel in class, knowing we were doing a far better job of it in our DA meetings. Harry and I moved on to teaching stunning spells, and spent several sessions teaching it and watching spellwork improve and kids go flying across the Room of Requirement. The Room would let us out in a different part of the castle each time, so we were never found by Umbridge or her supporters. And I for one was glad; an Educational Decree passed straight after our meeting in the Hog’s Head made all meetings of students against the rules and punishable by expulsion, unless said group had been approved by Umbridge. It meant Quidditch practice was “put on hold” while Roger sought approval, though that didn’t affect us in the slightest considering he hadn’t scheduled a single damn practice anyway and probably wouldn’t until a week before we were meant to play Hufflepuff after New Years. I was sorely tempted to nick out to the pitch with the rest of the team at some point and hold a practice without Roger, though unfortunately that would probably result in him kicking me off the team. Douchebag? Yes, he was.
Lying on my bed musing about all this, I was blissfully unaware of the turn conversation within my dormitory had taken until a chorus of cackling laughter erupted. Curious, I slithered along my bed to join the circle of fifth-year girls sitting on the floor in the middle of the circular room.
“It’s the annual Who’s Hot list,” Padma explained, nodding at the piece of parchment lying on the floor.
“Oh Merlin,” I muttered. Every year, a group of senior girls took it upon themselves to create a Who’s Hot at Hogwarts list and publish it in the student-produced newspaper, Sleeping Dragons. Apparently, this year this group was a collection of people I had, up until now, had no shame in calling my classmates and friends.
“We’ll sort out the order later,” Jessica Ainsworth, the vainest girl in fifth year, declared, picking up her quill. “Okay, who’re we thinking?”
“Roger?” Emily Callaghan suggested.
“Definitely Roger,” Jessica agreed, scrawling his name on the list.
“Git,” I said dismissively.
“Jason Samuels,” Padma offered.
“Oh, yes,” Cassiopeia Green added.
“Stalker,” I commented.
“Ooohh, girls, I’ve got one,” Anastasia Kendrick said dramatically, holding up her hands for silence.
“Who?” Jessica asked, quill poised.
“Douchebag,” I declared.
“Harry Potter,” Emily continued.
“Normal,” I observed, slightly surprised.
“Michael Corner,” Padma said.
“Taken,” I supplied.
“Athena!” Anna exclaimed exasperatedly.
“I’m flattered,” I commented.
Anna rolled her eyes. “We don’t have any Hufflepuffs.”
“Ernie Macmillan,” Cassie suggested.
“Oh, yes, he’s not too bad.”
“Cassian Avitus-Rutherford,” Jessica added.
“Oh, wow, I can’t believe we forgot him,” Anna agreed.
“Slack of you,” I commented.
Jessica glanced at me quizzically. “You agree?”
I shrugged. “He’s an arrogant douchebag, but he’s an attractive one. You seem surprised.”
“Sorry, Athena,” Emily said. “We just got used to viewing you as asexual when it comes to gossip.”
“There’s only one Gryffindor,” Lydia observed.
“Fred. And. George. Weasley,” Cassie said in hushed tones.
“Do they go as one person, or two?” Jessica asked, frowning at the parchment.
“Jess, was the Hat high when it Sorted you?” I asked, forcing all reaction to the mention of the twins away. “Twins are separate people.”
Jess waved her hand dismissively. “If Parvati was in Ravenclaw I couldn’t tell them apart, and I’ve known Padma for five years. They might as well be the same person.”
“Thanks,” Padma muttered, rolling her eyes and writing the Weasley twins’ names separately and very firmly onto the parchment.
“What would happen,” Anna mused, “If Padma married one of the Weasley twins and Parvati married the other? Would their kids be identical?”
That was not really a question I wanted to put too much thought into.
“Do the twins have girlfriends?” Emily asked. “The Weasley ones, I mean.”
Jessica shrugged. “Ask Athena.”
“Why me?” I asked, startled.
“Well, you know them, don’t you? You and Nathaniel are like this,” she explained, holding up two crossed fingers.
“Oh,” I said, relieved—though why I couldn’t say. “I have no idea. I don’t really see much of the other Weasleys. I don’t think they do, though.”
But what if they did?
I mentally shook my head to clear my thoughts. Even if they did, what did it matter? I had already established that I wouldn’t go out with Fred, even on the off chance that he liked me back. It made no difference whether he was single or taken. Was there anything more trivial in the world to worry about than whether Fred Weasley had a girlfriend when the Ministry of Magic was threatening to take over Hogwarts and the Dark Lord was back and no doubt gathering recruits? A prime example of why love, romance, dating, all that stuff was a load of shit. Where would I be if I was worrying about boys all the time? Not topping the school in my subjects, not leading Dumbledore’s Army with Harry, not enjoying emotional stability that relied on nothing but myself, and myself alone.
I could laugh at the pointlessness of it all.