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Chapter 5: Just a Date
Chapter Five: Just a Date
I yawned showily, happy about the change in our dorm’s shower-shedule. After day one, I had realised that physically getting myself out of bed before seven seemed quite impossible. However, I still needed to make sure I didn't wake up as Viola again, and possibly expose my true identity to my roommates. I had therefore decided to set my alarm about half an hour before Cedric got up to shower, which meant I could take a few swigs of polyjuice and go back to sleep peacefully without ever having to leave my comfortable bed.
I was down to my last flask of Potion but it would be enough to last the day, and I was constantly brewing more. I just had to remember to refill my flasks before quidditch practice tomorrow. I had been making more potion in the old cabin that had belonged to a previous groundkeeper and teacher of Hogwarts. Apparently, he was a half-giant called Hagrid, who had travelled with his giant half-brother into the mountains because the latter was dying slowly of old age. Charlie Weasley had taken over the job of teaching Care of Magical Creatures but he had chosen to stay inside the castle just like all the other teachers, which meant the cabin was completely deserted.
Sitting opposite of James at the breakfast table, I could observe how irritated he was today.
“It’s not even really a date! It’s just me being a good friend and taking this opportunity to put in a good word for you,” I tried to reassure him, but he wouldn’t hear it.
“As if any bloke would stop to talk about another bloke every time he gets the opportunity to snog Olivia,” James said cynically.
I had thought of that already. What if Olivia tried to kiss me? But I hadn’t dwelled on it. I just wouldn’t give her the opportunity to even consider that. My plan was to bore Olivia out of her wits with talk of dead poets and old language, like Sebastian used to do to me... before he realised I couldn’t care less.
As I studied James’ face, I saw he was really worried about losing Olivia to someone else. The only one I want to snog is you, I wanted to say to him, but that would’ve maybe sounded a bit weird. Maybe.
“Believe me, there will be no kissing if I can help it. You know I wouldn’t do that to you,” I said but still James looked miserable. “She asked me out right after you told me I had to help you woo her. I thought you would be happy that I was actually doing something about it.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s just... I find it rather hard to believe that ‘she’s just not your type’. I mean, she’s everyone’s type!” James exclaimed, spilling some jam onto his robes. It was kind of cute.
“No, she’s not everyone’s type. Not everyone is into that blond, blue eyed, perfect type,” Valentine commented. If there was one person, aside from me, who was completely unaffected by Olivia’s beauty, it was Valentine.
“Why not? Like you said she’s perfect!” James said, not understanding why his friends didn’t share his enthusiasm.
“Well maybe she is not as perfect as you think she is. If you took her down from that pedestal you’ve got her on, she might actually start seeing you for who you really are and not for that guy who’s been drooling over her for years,” I said reasonably. It was silent for a moment while James stared at me dumbly, before he burst out laughing.
“Oh, Sebastian! You are clearly not the women's expert you think you are. Believe me, girls want to be admired!” James said, finishing his piece of toast.
I sighed, and got up with the rest of them. I was meeting Olivia in 20 minutes but I still had to get my flask of polyjuice potion from my dorm.
As we were about to exit through the wooden doors, I bumped into someone else.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, picking up the newspaper she had dropped.
“Sebastien?” The girl said, as surprised as I was when I looked at her.
“Justine?” I said with a high-pitched voice. I coughed once, trying to lower it. “Wow, it’s so good to see you!”
We embraced a little awkwardly. Justine was the only real girlfriend Sebastian had ever had. She had attended Beaux Batons for 5 years before her parents decided to move to England. I had always liked Justine and she had become a real friend during the year she had dated my brother.
Of course, Justine wasn’t seeing her friend Viola before her but her ex-boyfriend Sebastian. The break-up had been quite painful for the both of them since neither wanted to end it at that time. They had been forced to split because of the move, knowing that they were too young to maintain a long distance relationship.
I thought I saw a sparkle in her eye, as if she was still attracted to Sebastian, or maybe she was just really happy to see him again.
“How come I don’t know you’re here?” She asked laughingly. “I mean, school started 3 weeks ago. Why haven’t I seen you around?”
“I don’t know! I guess I’ve been busy?” I apologised. I started to panic. If Sebastian had come to Hogwarts for real, surely he would have told Justine beforehand, wouldn’t he? “But I was sorted in the beginning of the year! You must have seen me then. It’s you who’s been avoiding me!”
“No, I missed the sorting. We were visiting my aunt and uncle in Canada, and our flight got cancelled, so we arrived home the day of the sorting. I got here the day after,” she explained. Justine probably had her apparating license already but her muggle parents weren’t really comfortable with all the magic their daughters could do.
“So they moved to Canada after all? How is that Quebecois treating them?” I said jokingly.
“Oh mon dieu, c’est horrible! I am telling you, that is not French they’re speaking over there!” She said, laughing as she started to sum up some of the words they used.
“But seriously, why didn’t you tell me you were coming to Hogwarts?” she asked, after calming down.
“I’m so sorry, but I just plain forgot...” I could see the disappointment in her eyes as I said this and wanted to apologise again but I was cut off.
“I told you he would forget you in a second. You’re still exactly the same as you were two years ago, Sebastian,” a tall brunette said disdainfully. She was dressed a little more extravagantly than Justine underneath her robes, but apart from that she was a perfect copy of her twin sister.
The fact that they are identical shows how much that push-up bra is working for her, I thought mockingly as she stood next to Justine.
“Hey... you” I said awkwardly.
If only I could remember her name... It was something French.
Of course, it is something French. She is from France! Think, Viola!
I had to know her name, especially after what Sebastian did to her. Even he wasn’t that inconsiderate.
You see, Sebastian was first dating Justine’s twin sister during the summer after his fourth year. But after spending almost an entire summer at her house, he realised Justine was much better than her sister, and they fell deeply in love with each other. But even after dating Justine for more than a year, the sister still hadn’t forgiven him, obviously.
She was going to be hurt all over again if I didn’t remember her name. But I am so bad with names!
I gave up as I saw her expression turn from irritated to completely enraged.
“Oh my god, you don’t even remember my name? Real nice, Sebastian,” she said through clenched teeth, while I tried to rack my brain one last time. “But don’t worry, you weren’t that memorable yourself.”
I heard James and the others snicker beside me as the scorned twin looked me over, resting her eyes meaningfully on my crotch area.
What? Sebastian slept with her? They dated for what... two months?
You, man-whore! I scolded him mentally, as I felt myself blush. Justine was blushing as well, embarrassed by her twin.
“Are you going to Hogsmeade today?” Justine asked, trying to change the subject. I was glad she did and wanted to answer her when I was cut off again. This time by Olivia, who appeared by my side out of the blue.
“Yes, he’s going with me,” she said meaningfully. Justine raised her eyebrows and nodded slowly. Olivia smiled innocently, but I, as a woman, could see through that smile easily.
That was a bit cruel, Olivia.
“Oh wow, aiming straight for the top of the social ladder, are we?” Justine’s twin said bitterly as she looked provocatively at Olivia.
“Well, I guess he started at the bottom first,” Olivia said just as bitterly, staring back at the twin who was now turning red with rage. Not being able to come up with a witty response, she turned around and walked away.
The boys next to me had to smother their laughter again after hearing this snide remark from Olivia.
I had witnessed some ugly girl-fights before but the particular girls had never been fighting over me. That was new. Well, actually they were fighting over Sebastian.
“I’ll see you around? I’d really like to catch up some time,” I yelled after Justine, who had followed her twin. She looked over her shoulder and smiled feebly. I sighed. Justine did not deserve this from Sebastian.
“Are you ready to go?” Olivia asked happily as if she hadn’t just been a total twat.
“No,” I replied harshly. She was surprised, and I remembered that I wanted to stay on her good side. “I’m sorry. I just have to grab my coat. I’ll meet you at the entrance?”
Olivia still looked surprised. She clearly wasn’t used to not being the centre of attention.
Even James followed me immediately. Normally he would’ve seized the opportunity to talk to Olivia alone until I got back,but now he was more occupied with the drama that had just passed between Justine, her twin and Sebastian.
“Twins? Seriously... twins?” James exclaimed excitedly as he put his arm around my shoulder brotherly. “That’s brilliant!”
“You are my hero!” Cedric said jokingly while punching my arm.
I laughed heartily. They were impressed by me. I, who had been admiring them for years because of their parents’ legacy, was now the centre of their attention, and I quite liked it.
“So, what’s her name?” I asked, wanting to avoid future awkward moments. They were silent for a moment before they burst out laughing again.
“You really don’t remember her name? I thought you were just messing with her!” Valentine said, shocked.
“Her name’s Monique,” Cedric said. I smacked my hand against my forehead.
“Of course! I should’ve known that,” I said shamefully.
“Well yeah, everyone at Hogwarts knows her name,” James said with a mischievous grin on his face.
“Why?” I asked innocently, but I had a feeling as to why she was so known to these boys.
“It’s just like Olivia said,” Cedric said laughingly. "...She’s pretty much Hogwarts’ slag.”
I shook my head but could not keep my expression solemn for long as James and the other continued laughing infectiously.
When I reached the entrance hall again, I was so cheerful that I had already forgiven Olivia’s snide comments of earlier, and we started walking with all the other students that were making their way to the village.
“Do they have chocolate frogs in France?” Olivia asked as we wandered through Honeydukes’ Sweetshop.
“Of course! I’ve got all the magic cards, and Harry Potter like a zillion times,” I responded automatically. Olivia was smiling dreamily at me. “I mean, they’re my sister’s. She’s collected them for years. Celebrities are kind of thing... She's a geek.”
Olivia chuckled, while I blushed. I had to try to focus more on being Sebastian, but it was hard. Sebastian wasn’t exactly as fun as me.
“My brother and I used to collect them, too. I assume he finished his collection as well, before you know. I mean, I supose so... I wouldn’t know,” Olivia said, casting her eyes down. Her smile disappeared as she talked of her brother.
“Why wouldn’t you know?” I asked delicately. “Did you think you were too cool for Chocolate Frogs?”
My smile faded as her face only turned sadder at my miserable attempt to lighten up the mood..
“I guess I just thought I was too cool for my brother,” Olivia whispered, finally looking me in the eye. Suddenly I felt extremely guilty for not bonding with my brother more than I had over the past couple of years. What if Sebastian were to die suddenly. Wouldn’t I feel guilty?
“I can relate to that,” I said as we still lingered at the Chocolate Frog stand. Olivia stared at me with a surprised look. “I mean, my sister is way cooler than me... She probably doesn’t regard me as anything special.”
“I don’t believe that. With a brother like you, she must be some kind of rockstar to pretend she's cooler than you,” Olivia joked, touching my arm affectionately.
“Oh, she is,” I replied confidently, making Olivia laugh.
“You like each other, don’t you?” Olivia asked sweetly. I nodded.
“We probably like each other more than either of us want to admit,” I replied knowingly. Olivia looked away again, her lips pursed into a thin line, as if she was trying to keep herself from saying something. “What happened?”
She looked up at me again as I said this. Although it was clear she understood what I was talking about, I felt the need to fill the silent pause.
“Why do you feel so guilty? I’m sure that you loved your brother as much as any other sister did,” I said. She closed her eyes for a moment, as if bracing herself.
“I loved him, yes, but I wasn’t exactly the best sister,” she started to explain, avoiding my eye. “We used to collect those Chocolate Frog cards together, until I started going to Hogwarts. He’d sent me letters about which new cards he had gotten every week, and I would return them with elaborate descriptions of how life was in the ‘real’ world, how I was learning about or even met some of the people we had seen on the cards, about quidditch, about class, and about how incredible it was going to be when he’d join me the next year... And then he didn’t.”
We walked further down the aisles of the sweetshop.
“It hadn’t even occurred to me before that he had never done any magic. Mum and Dad had apparently been worrying for years but they didn’t want to see my brother disappointed, and they knew that if they told me I’d tell my brother sooner or later. So they waited as long as they could but by the time he should have gotten a letter from Hogwarts, there was still no trace of any magic, not even involuntary.
“I was convinced there had been a mistake. I mean, everyone in my family is magical, so if there are dishes flying around, people apparating constantly and others playing exploding snap at family dinners, who know who’s doing magic and who isn’t? For months I was convinced that my brother’s involuntary magic must have gone unnoticed by any of us. So when it really sunk in, I didn’t know what to do but be grateful that I was here, living my dream, while I might have ended up like my brother. He never resented me for it but we never really talked about it either, and eventually we grew apart. I mean, I knew he still wanted to hear about it, about everything, but I just cut him out of that part of my life. I don’t know why I did that. He must have felt so alienated from everyone in the family already.”
I didn’t know if she was finished talking or not, but we both stayed quiet for a while as we wandered around the shop, waiting for the raining outside to end.
“They’re stuffed somewhere in a closet in my dorm but I can’t bring myself to throw out that collection of Chocolate Frogs,” Olivia said eventually, chuckling slightly. She looked up at me expectantly. “Now, after all this talk I still don’t know anything about our mysterious Sebastian. Talking about your sister’s obsession doesn’t really tell me anything about you. Is there a thing that makes you geek out?”
“Well actually, I’m going to have to warn you... it is truly geeky,” I said. Olivia looked intrigued. “I love poetry. More specifically Romantic poetry.”
Despite the fact that this was Sebastian’s interests I was talking about, I still felt a bit insecure saying it, hoping that Olivia wouldn’t start laughing. She didn’t. She seemed rather impressed.
“Well, it must have been wonderful to live in such a romantic country as France and to speak such a beautiful language,” she commented. I tried not to roll my eyes.
“Actually, Romantic poetry doesn’t really have a lot to do with the modern meaning of romantic. Plus I think the British Romantics are by far the best poets, so yeah I’m rather glad I got to come back,” I explained.
“So am I,” Olivia said softly. We were walking silently next to each other and I didn’t dare to look at her. This was going a bit too well. It was time to start bringing James into the conversation... “So, enlighten me: how did a handsome, young wizard fall into the world of muggle poetry?”
There was no possible way to start talking about James subtly if we were talking about Romantic poetry, was there? As I looked outside, I noticed that it had stopped raining so I guided us toward the exit door while I talked.
“How does any boy’s obsession begin? With a girl, of course,” I said, as I held open the door for her. “A woman rather; my teacher. You see, as a true muggle my mum liked to send me and my sister to muggle schools –before we were eleven of course. Six months before we moved to France, I think I was eight or something... Anyway, I fell in love with my teacher, as any boy does at that age.”
Olivia listened attentively as we passed the displays of other shops.
“Searching for some common ground with said teacher, I found out her favourite writer was William Wordsworth, a Romantic poet. I dove into his works, and of course at that age didn’t understand a word of what he had written, so I asked my mum to help me a bit, which she did and after a while I started quoting Wordsworth to my lovely teacher, who never returned my love with more than a kiss on the cheek. Naturally, to me such a kiss was the epitome of our everlasting love, which I still cherish to this day.”
“I still don’t know what appeal Wordsworth ever had to her, but it immediately connected me to Coleridge and the entire Romantic Period, which in turn lead me straight to Shakespeare and Milton,” I continued. I desperately needed to change the topic because I was running out of poets to mention. Sebastian himself would probably have gone on for hours, but that would certainly lull Olivia to sleep. I was hoping that she’d already have enough of all the poetry, but she still looked pretty impressed.
“Wow. So who’s your favourite?” Olivia asked.
“Thomas Gray,” I answered automatically. That was an easy question; Sebastian had been telling me that for years. “He’s actually a pre-Romantic poet. One of the Graveyard poets... Ever heard of him?”
“Thomas Gray...” Olivia murmured, thinking hard as if she recognised the name. I didn’t know whether she was trying to impress Sebastian or whether she really knew him. I wouldn’t have known, if I hadn’t been living with a walking resurrection of a Romantic poet for my entire life.
“There’s a pretty famous quote from one of Gray’s works. You might have heard of it. It goes something like: ‘Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife, their sober wishes never learned to stray;' something somthing '...they kept the noiseless tenor of their way’."
It was a verse read aloud during Grandma’s funeral, which had always stuck by me. It was a miracle that I still remembered any of it. I was rather proud of my attempt to imitate Sebastian right there and then.
Olivia stayed quiet as we walked on mindlessly. I had a feeling that she wasn’t really paying attention where we were going, and I certainly didn’t know my way around Hogsmeade.
“Ehm, where are we heading exactly?” I asked gently. She was startled a little as she was pulled out of her reverie.
“Well, I don’t really know actually,” she said, giggling slightly. “I was thinking we could go to Madam Puddifoot’s?”
I had no idea what Madam Puddifoot’s was but I had a weird feeling about it.
“It’s very French,” she added as she pointed at a small, stuffed café about fifty feet away. The overflow of yellow and orange colours told me that it was anything but French.
As if on cue, James, Cedric and Valentine appeared from behind a corner and entered a pub a bit further down the road. Olivia hadn’t noticed them.
“What about that...? The th-three broomsticks, is it? Looks lovely!” I said quickly heading to the same place James had just entered.
“Oh, err, Okay,” she said.
I took a deep breath of the warm, dry air inside the Three Broomsticks and started looking for James. Luckily they were just about to sit down not far from the entrance. I tried to catch his attention inconspicuously. It was Valentine who noticed me first and nudged James.
“Oh, look! It’s James!” I said enthusiastically. As we reached them, I looked expectantly at James, waiting for him to invite us to sit with them, but he was staring at Olivia with such wide eyes that it made me want to slap him.
When he eventually spoke up, it was nothing like anyone of us had expected:
“Come hither: if ever thou shalt love, in the sweet pangs of it remember me;
For such as I am all true lovers are, unstaid and skittish in all motions else,
Save in the constant image of the creature that is beloved.”
There was a long silence after this, which everyone except James and me must have found very uncomfortable. While James was still marvelling at Olivia’s appearance, I couldn’t resist staring at James and feeling the butterflies in my stomach flutter happily. How adorable was he? Quoting Shakespeare out of nothing... I sighed, not understanding how Olivia could ever not be in love with him.
It was Cedric who interrupted my happy daydreams by clearing his throat and saying:
“I think he meant: would you like to join us?” He said, chuckling slightly. James nodded modestly, turning scarlet.
“Sure!” I answered enthusiastically, sitting down next to James immediately.
The three boys gave me a strange look, which made me realise that getting James and Olivia together was the goal here, not getting James and me together. I jumped up again, offering my seat to Olivia.
“Ladies first of course,” I said, trying not to act too disappointed. I sat down next to Valentine, who was giving me that weird, pensive look again. I tried to ignore him.
“So what were you guys talking about?” Olivia asked politely.
“You,” James answered spontaneously. I could see Cedric stifle his laughter behind his hand. “I mean, girls... you know, in general.”
James leaned back in his seat, trying to look confident about his answer. Oh James.
“Rose told us something interesting...” Cedric said, trying to change the subject.
“Yeah! She said there was going to be a dance at Hogwarts this year,” James added, seizing the opportunity to talk about something else. His attention was completely focused on Olivia, who seemed a bit annoyed by how close he was sitting.
“She wasn’t supposed to say anything! Oh well, I guess students will find out soon enough since their parents should have gotten an invitation by now,” Olivia said wistfully. I stayed quiet, waiting for Olivia to explain further. “You see, it’s been exactly a thousand years since Hogwarts was founded, so this year is going to be a bit more special than any other year. With a dance of sorts in December, before the holidays.”
I was trying not to panic. My parents were going to be here... Okay, I could handle that. Hopefully.
“It’s going to be this huge thing, as I said with all the parents, siblings as well. The older students from Beaux Batons and Drumstrangs are invited too, and they will both prepare some kind of performance. I’m telling you, it’s going to be enormous. I’m just trying to meddle in McGonagall’s plans as much as I can because otherwise it’ll end up resembling a funeral rather than a celebration.”
The others were all excited to hear this, but I was truly freaking out by the time Olivia had stopped talking.
My parents and Sebastian and me... all together inside Hogwarts, while Sebastian had no clue that he was supposed to be attending Hogwarts? I could only hope that there was a spell out there that could split me up in two.
“... don’t know what those Drumstrangs boys will bring to the table,” Olivia said, answering someone’s question which I hadn’t registered. “But Beaux Batons is supposed to have this killer Ballet routine...”
In full panic mode now, I jumped up, spilling most of my butterbeer on Valentine next to me. Everyone looked up at me, except for Valentine who was calling me some pretty ugly names.
“I’m sorry. I have to go,” I said quickly, putting my coat on frantically. Olivia looked extremely surprised and hesitated for a moment before getting up as well. “No! No, you should err... stay!”
Putting my hand on her shoulder, I pushed her back into her seat. Getting a good look at my hand, I could see how my fingers were slowly turning more slender and shorter while my nails got longer. Amidst my frenzy, I hadn’t noticed the slightly tingling feeling in my hands which warned me of how the Polyjuice Potion was wearing off. I had to get out of there.
“I’m so sorry! I had a wonderful time, but I really have to go. You should stay... Enjoy James, I mean his company... everyone’s company! Yeah –err, bye!”
I inhaled a pleasing breath of fresh air once I was outside, before emptying the flask of Polyjuice Potion I had with me. The others must have thought I was crazy, leaving in such a hysterical way, but I couldn’t dwell on that. I had to get back to the castle and figure out how I was going to pull off this Dance dilemma.
I practically ran all the way back to the dorm and, completely out of breath, almost ran over Rose Weasley as I entered the Gryffindor common room.
“Sebastian! Just the person I need,” Rose exclaimed. “Do you know if any of your roommates is harbouring a girl under his bed or maybe in the closet? And by any, I mean James, ‘cause it wouldn’t be the first time.”
My current state of mind prevented me from realising how ridiculous that sounded, so I just shook my head confusedly.
“Well I was studying in my dorm, and there was this owl who kept tapping against your dorm’s window. It annoyed the hell out of me, so I checked it out but all that I found was these two letters addressed to a Viola?” Rose looked at me sceptically as my eyes widened in realisation.
“They’re for me!” I said, sticking out my hand but Rose hesitated. She raised her eyebrows at me. “Well err- it’s a long story.”
Rose kept looking at me in that sceptical way which said: “I’ve got time.”
“It’s my middle name,” I said, trying to look composed. Coming up with excuses seemed to have become one of my talents. “I know it’s weird and embarrassing, which is why my sister likes to call me by my middle name. Those letters are probably both from her.”
I was talking too fast and nodding my head too quickly as I spoke. Obviously, Rose still didn’t completely believe me. You could see it in her eyes, but she handed me the letters anyway, deciding that she didn’t really care.
“Thanks,” I said before heading up to my dorm. I needed peace and quiet to think, and to read the letters which would surely confirm my suspicions.
The first one was from Sebastian, which was short and chaotic. It asked about why Mum was writing him about a dance held at Hogwarts, which she and Dad would be attending. After signing off he had added a few lines, telling me that Mum had just called him –which meant she had actually tried to call me, since I was supposed to be staying in London where Sebastian now was- asking whether I, Viola, was going to attend as well.
This letter had made me groan in frustration already, while the second only added to the pile of disaster. It was a personal invitation from Beaux Batons requesting me to participate in the ballet performance at Hogwarts’ feast. I should have expected that. It was the same routine as the one we had performed at our graduation feast last June.
I could still do the routine in my sleep, so that wouldn’t be a problem. And if I, Viola, was going to attend –which my mother would probably force me to- I couldn’t really refuse to perform with the other Beaux Batons students...
Reluctantly, I replied that I would love to perform at the dance. Then I searched a new piece of parchment to reply to Sebastian's letter.
There have been some complications but don’t worry, I’ve got it all under control.
Whatever you do or think or hear or read, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GO TO HOGWARTS !
Lots of love,
I sighed as I watched the two owls fly off into the sky. Next, I had to find a way to make that two person facade happen.
A/N: The Thomas Gray quote is from his poem, called Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.
Second quote ("Come hither...") is from Shakespeare's Twelth Night, act II, scene II.