There’s something about waking up to find a flock of dust bunnies migrating towards your face that’s just a little unnerving. Just because they look all innocent and harmless, what with their fluffy little bodies that like to float around, does not mean that they aren’t a force to be reckoned with. Everyone knows that dust bunnies are some of the most devious little creatures to have ever risen from the depths of the Underworld, endlessly plotting to get up your nose so they can throw you into a wild sneezing fit.
And if that wasn’t worrisome enough, how about trying to figure out how the hell you ended up under your bed in the first place?
Talk about starting off on the right foot.
I let out a groan and tried not to get caught in the dust as I rolled out from underneath my bed. I winced at the bright sun shining from the windows, cursing the idiot who decided to draw back the curtains so early in the morning. Stretching my arms so that I wouldn’t ache for the rest of the day, I looked around my dorm for any evidence of human life forms.
Every single bed was empty, made, and neat.
Damn, I was late.
I tried to ignore the rapid panic that was rushing through me, and I scrambled to get my things. I had skipped out on unpacking my trunk last night, too tired to do anything after the meeting with Longbottom. Grabbing the first skirt I could get my hands on, I dashed into the loo to finish getting dressed. I had no time for a proper shower, so I settled for a quick face wash and a spritz of one of my dorm mate’s numerous perfumes.
Double checking to see that I had my wand, I grabbed my bag off of my bed before running out of the room and right into no one other than my best friend.
“There you are!” she all but shrieked. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been looking for you? Class starts in ten minutes, and we’ve got to get all the way to the fifth floor!”
With a voice loud enough to silence a banshee, Natalie Wood was the most demanding, overbearing, and controlling person I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. Her glare was so terrifying it would have made Medusa cower in shame, and it didn’t help that she had the hair to match. Wild brown curls flew around her head, a crown of insanity. I still have no idea how I’ve managed to survive living with her for the past seven years.
“Why didn’t you wake me sooner, then?” I asked, irritated and out of breath. Even though she was “technically” my best friend, that doesn’t exclude her from being the biggest pain in the arse I’ve ever known. And that’s saying something, considering I’m related to Freddy.
“Your bed was empty, so I thought you had already left for breakfast!” she replied defensively, always one to play the victim.
“I never get up early.”
“Then where the hell were you?”
I stood awkwardly for a moment, debating whether or not it would be worth telling her. It was one thing to fall off your bed in the middle of the night. It was another to roll underneath it and stay there. And judging by the look of impatience on her face (which was never a pretty sight) I figured I had about two-point-five seconds to figure out what I should do.
“Ikindoffelloffandrolledunderneathmybed,” I muttered, deciding that it was better to just get it over with.
“In English, please.”
“I kind of fell off and rolled underneath my bed,” I repeated more coherently this time, my face burning at how truly pathetic I was after hearing it out loud.
She stared blankly at me for a few moments, her round brown eyes blinking back in confusion as she stood with a complete loss for words (which was rather rare, on her part).
“Here’s your timetable,” she finally said, handing me a piece of bright crimson parchment. “We’ve got double Transfiguration first, so we need to get going.”
I decided to take her lack of comment on my whereabouts as a good thing, and quickly followed her down the stairs and out of the common room. Thankfully, we were on the seventh floor, which meant that all of the staircases we had to climb were downhill. Had it been the other way around, we would have never been able to make it to class on time. Well, Nat would have been able to, since she was all athletic and such (and tended to lean towards the whole “every man for himself” concept, then that of “no man left behind”), but I was in such poor shape I bet even the Giant Squid would have been able to beat me.
It didn’t help that she kept trying to have a conversation with me (although, for the most part, it was rather one sided).
“And so then, Dad starts going off on how corporate is trying to change Puddlemere’s uniform from navy blue to midnight blue, because of a conflict with the Sweetwater All Stars. Apparently, the Americans feel that they deserve that to be their colour since it’s the same shade of blue as their flag, but like, so is ours. So I tell Dad to tell corporate to suck it, because Puddlemere has been around way longer than those All Stars and that it’s a matter of first come first serve. I mean, we’re like the oldest team in the League, for Merlin sake!” she rattled, though I honestly did not pay her any attention.
“That’s... lovely,” I panted, trying to ignore the stitch in my side as I attempted to catch up with her. It was kind of sad how slow of a pace I had, what with me having legs about three times longer than Nat’s. How she managed to walk so fast and spit out a million words every other second without even breaking a sweat was beyond me.
“But he was just like, ‘It’s not that simple, Natty’ and starts explaining all of these legal terms and how we live in a time where everything has to be politically correct and what not, and so then I just suggested that we drop the subject and go out for an ice cream. But Dad was all like ‘You can’t have ice cream when you’re in season!’ and then I’m like ‘But Dad, school doesn’t start for another three weeks’ and he’s like ‘If you want to be a good captain, you’ve got to maintain a healthy body year round’ and I was like ‘Just one scoop!’ but he was like ‘That one scoop will go straight to your arteries’ and then Mum intervenes and tells him to relax, which he returns with a growl about how he is relaxed, and then me and Mum just look at each other cause we all know that Dad is never relaxed, and then-“
“Nat... could you... please... slow the hell down!” I interrupted, as I stopped to lean against the cold wall. We were on the fifth floor by now, approaching the Transfiguration classroom, and I really did not want to start my first class all sweaty and out of breath.
She turned around and rolled her eyes once she saw the state I was in, although, she did stop and wait for me to catch up to her. I sent her a grateful look and began to compose myself, hoping that I when I walked into class, I wouldn’t look like I had just ran a 5K around the castle.
“If you want to try out for the team this year, I really suggest that you get yourself in better shape,” she commented.
“When did I ever say I wanted to try out?” I scoffed, speaking slowly so that my heartbeat would go down.
“You didn’t. But since I’m captain this year, I’m kind of forcing you to.”
“Longbottom made you captain?” I asked, surprised.
“Hell yeah, he did!” she exclaimed, and I felt an immediate sympathy for every single member (both future and returning) on the Gryffindor team.
It was bad enough to be playing on the same team as her, but to be under her rule? Professor Longbottom might as well have called Voldemort up from the dead and given him the job. I mean, yeah Nat was undeniably the most qualified person in the house for the role (being the offspring of two highly esteemed professional Quidditch players will kind of do that to a girl) but she was also the lastperson on this planet that should be given a position of authority. To say that she had a control problem would be an understatement.
Raving tyrant was more like it.
Nat was famous for her constant need to challenge authority. Ever since she first made the team back in third year, she and Roxy (who was the captain back then) were constantly butting heads. Off the pitch, the two got along great. But the moment someone started mentioning what plays to be used or which method was best, it was like the Battle of Hogwarts all over again (except they preferred to use the verbal abuse tactic and yell over each other, rather than the whole, you know, Avada Kedavra’ing thing). If it weren’t for the fact that Nat was the best female beater our school has seen in over a decade, then I would honestly question why Roxy didn’t bother to throw her off the team.
“Your dad didn’t bribe him, or anything?” I asked suspiciously, because if there was one father who was mad enough to buy his daughter’s way into captain, it’d be Oliver Wood. The man would give his right lung for the opportunity to leave behind a legacy.
“No!” she snapped back. “Just because he slipped Longbottom a few galleons to forego a detention back in fourth year that one time, does not mean he’ll do it for everything! Give my father a little credit!”
“Don’t get your knickers in a bunch. I was just double checking!” I told her, as we neared the Transfiguration classroom.
“Is your lack of faith in my captaining skills really that little?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
If there was one healthy thing about our relationship, it was our ability to be absolutely honest with each other. Or at least honest enough to know when to draw the line between not hurting each other’s feelings, and saving our own lives.
“I’m not that out of control,” she replied, and I rolled my eyes, deciding that it’d be best to just drop the subject.
We were walking into the classroom now, and had arrived with just enough time to scan the front board to find our assigned seats for the term. Professor Cobble was a young but stern teacher, which was to expect being McGonagall’s replacement, and liked everything in her class to be organized. She was fair about her seating chart though, and as strict as she was, she could actually be pretty cool.
Nat let out a squeal as she found her seat. “Oh my God, this is great!”
“What? Did we get paired together?” I asked hopefully.
“No, but I got paired with Paul freaking Abercrombie!” she exclaimed, her face glowing with excitement at the thought of having to sit next to the most attractive bloke in our school for the next three months.
The lucky witch.
“Paul is overrated,” I lied, apathetically.
“Overrated? Merlin, have you seen the man’s chin?” she asked incredulously.
It was true; he did have a rather impressive cleft chin… and chiselled jaw line. As well as the most amazing dimples, whenever he flashed a smile that would have made Voldemort go weak in the knees. I quickly shook my head, discreetly pinching myself so that I would stop fawning over him.
“He’s still a Puff, Nat,” I explained, trying to get a hold of my hormones. “That immediately drops his attractiveness level down to right above Dare and just under the Giant Squid.”
“Yes, well he’s the exception.”
Of course he was the exception.
How often does a girl come across a fit badger? Not often, let me tell you that. It didn’t help that he had perfectly toned arms and the tightest set of abs this generation has ever seen, or that he was also one of the few blokes in this damn school who were taller than me, or that he just so conveniently happened to be the nephew of one of my favourite Quidditch players. But none of that mattered, because he was still a bloody Puff. And the moment people found out that Dominique Weasley was getting googly-eyes over Paul I’m-A-Smoking-Hot-Hufflepuff Abercrombie, my street cred would go down the drain.
And Merlin knows we can’t have that.
“Is he exempt from that whole Quidditch captains not being allowed to date each other rule?” I asked her, taking joy in her sudden disappointment.
“Bugger, I forgot about that,” she muttered, her face immediately crestfallen. “Of course life would have it that the one year I get to sit with him, our relationship is prohibited.”
It was nice to see that I wasn’t the only person whom Fate liked to screw around with.
“You poor thing,” I replied dryly, which earned me a smack on the arm from Nat.
“Just because you’re so hell-bent on being a spinster for the rest of your life, doesn’t mean you can’t be sympathetic.”
I snorted at that. Nat may not have a chance to hook up with Hogwarts’ Most Desirable, but that didn’t mean she was deprived. The girl has had more than her fair share of boyfriends and snogging partners. If anything, I should be the one demanding a pity party, since I was the one who’s never been on a proper date.
All those occasions where either Nat or James dragged me along as their last minute double date, I never really count. It usually ended up with me having to entertain some dull bloke via petty small talk or improvised shadow puppets, while whomever I had been dragged by went off with their date to do Merlin knows what. Not to mention, I was usually the one who got stuck with the bill.
“Whatever, Nat,” I finally replied. “You go sulk about how you and precious Mr Perfect aren’t meant to be, while I actually learn something sitting next to-”I quickly glanced at the board for my name. “-oh for Fawkes’ sake!”
“Would you fancy that?” an irritating voice asked. “Looks like you’re stuck with me.”
I turned around and glared at Dare. He looked highly amused with the seating arrangement, his brown eyes holding a rare mischievous glint that usually got lost behind those thick glasses of his. I could hear Nat’s unsupportive and vindictive laugh as she sashayed towards her new seat, taking pleasure in the newly turned tables.
The way the Fates have been treating me lately, you’d think I was Grindlewald in a past life or something.
“I hate life,” I grumbled, grudgingly making my way towards our assigned table. It was in the third row, my seat being on the outer left side facing the window. Well, at least I would have a nice view of the lake while I died from boredom.
“Hey, at least now you can actually learn something in this class,” he offered, ever so humbly. Dare was, unfortunately, the best in our year at Transfiguration. Ever since first year, he’s always been quick to grasp whatever new concept or theory we learned and was always the first one to master a spell. It was highly annoying.
“Oh hush,” I snapped, ungraciously plopping myself down to my seat.
“I mean, it’s obvious that Cobble did this on purpose,” Dare pointed out.
“No really?” I replied, rolling my eyes.
What was obvious was that my professor hated me and was punishing me via the Head Prick. Whatever comments I made earlier about her being fair or cool, I completely take back. The wench clearly had it out for me.
“No offense Min, but you’re not exactly the sharpest claw on the dragon when it comes to the subject,” he continued. “And since I just so happen to be at the top of the class, I figure that she paired us together so that I could help you out.”
“Wow! You managed to come up with that all by yourself?” I asked, in false amazement. “Don’t you deserve a gold star!”
“Okay fine, be an ungrateful brat then,” he exclaimed, his patience running thin. “See if I care if you fail the class.”
“I will and you shouldn’t,” I told him, defiantly. “Care, that is.”
“Excuse me for trying to be a good person.”
“You’re excused. And you were doing a pretty shoddy job of it, anyway.”
“It’s like you want people to hate you.”
“Did I ask for your opinion?”
“God, you’re impossible!”
“And you’re an arse! Guess who wins?”
“Good morning, class!”
The two of us whipped our heads to the front of the room, turning our attention towards our hag of a professor. She was smiling cheerfully at us, but I knew that that was only to mask her evil grin as she relished in my despair. There was a wicked amount of humour that gleamed in those dark grey eyes of hers... or it could have possibly been the sunlight reflecting off the windowpanes, but that was highly debatable.
“I trust everyone has had enough time to get to their new seats,” she continued, hanging her robes up against the back of her chair. “Since you’re all NEWT level students, I’m going to assume that you did the responsible thing of doing the assigned reading over the holiday.”
“I hope you lot put some honest effort into those assignments, because that was your review for this term. We’ve got a lot to cover in the next nine months, so I don’t want to waste any time going over things you all should have already learned.”
I could literally feel my stomach drop at the news. The instructions had said that the assignments were optional! Granted, there was also a notice that “strongly encouraged” students to complete the work, but I didn’t think it was serious.
Why, why, why was I such a lazy student?
“That being said, take out your books and turn to page seventeen. Today we begin with Conjuring Spells!”
Trying not to let my panic show (or do anything else that would give my procrastination away) I casually reached into my bag for the text. Of course, it had to be located at the very bottom, beneath all of my other books, parchments, and miscellaneous items (What were a pair of dirty trainers doing underneath my old Potions assignment? I had no clue, but they were there none the less). I tried not to make too much of a mess as I tugged the heavy book out, wiping a few crumbs from a half eaten Cauldron Cake off the cover as I sat it on the table. It made a large thud and a cloud of dust formed around it.
“Looks like someone didn’t do their summer reading,” Dare muttered, his nose wrinkling at the trail of dirt that had fallen out.
“You’re making unnecessary comments again,” I reminded, my tone as dry as the ancient pages of this hand-me-down book (it had been Victoire’s when she was in school).
“Just pointing out another reason why my theory is right.”
“No one cares about your damn theory!”
“Miss Weasley,” Professor Cobble’s voice cut through the air, causing me to sharply turn towards her direction. “I understand that Mr. Gamp’s law may not be the most entertaining subject to a young adolescent like yourself, but if I can recall, there’s quite a number of people who find his ‘damn theory’ to be rather important.”
“Of course, Professor” I replied, my face going bright red.
“Since it’s the first day, I’ll let you off with a warning,” she said sternly. “But keep in mind Miss Weasley, that your head of house has informed me of your particular situation, and I am not one to keep information away from my colleagues.”
My heart sunk at the news, mentally cursing Longbottom for telling my other professors about our deal. I had been planning on only having to be nice to the Head Pricks when he was around, but now I actually had to make an effort.
I tried to ignore my classmates, who were all quietly snickering at my embarrassment, and ducked my head down. Professor Cobble turned her attention back to the lecture, resuming with whatever the hell she had been talking about. At the front of the classroom I spotted Nat, who was shaking her head before leaning in to whisper something into Paul I’m-So-Bloody-Dreamy Abercrombie’s ear. A few rows down James and Devon Finnegan were desperately trying to contain their laughter, completely oblivious to the telepathic death threats I was sending them. They were damn lucky that I was probably never going to be an accomplished Occlumence.
Dare chuckled softly under his breath and I shifted my eyes to see that he had a slightly curious look on his face. He was probably wondering what my so called “situation” was and how he could use it against me. Merlin knows I cannot have him finding out about my having to be nice to him. I’d never hear the end of it, if he ever did.
“What are you staring at?” I hissed, hoping that the intensity of my tone would scare him (which of course, it didn’t).
“You’ve got something hanging off of your nose,” he motioned towards his own, and I instinctively moved my hand to my face.
My fingers immediately came in contact with what I hoped was a stale crumb of chocolate. I figured it probably came from the giant dust cloud that had formed when I had taken out my textbook, and I only hoped that no one else had noticed it.
As if they really needed another reason to laugh at me.
I let out a sigh, brushing away the stray chocolate, before I began to copy the notes off of Dare’s parchment. Not that they would do me any good. It’d be like trying to study something written in Troll – useless and absolutely infuriating.
It was going to be a long year.
For someone who had made it her goal to not put herself into situations of public humiliation, I was doing a pretty poor job of keeping up with it.
This was like, what, the second time in only twenty four hours? Blimey, I was on a roll.
“How many more times do I have to suffer before I finally learn my lesson?” I asked, to no one in particular.
Classes had come to an end for the day and I was absolutely exhausted. My robes reeked of stale lavender incense, were covered with flobberworm mucus and stray porcupine quills, and stained with spilled pumpkin juice (thank you Devon Finnegan, and your lack of coordination skills). I could have gone up to my dorm and taken a nice, long shower, but that would require me actually moving from my rather comfortable position on this overstuffed sofa.
“Oh your day wasn’t that bad,” Nat said, as she lifted my legs off from the cushion so that she could take a seat. As soon as she had accommodated herself, I roughly placed them back onto her lap, enjoying the umpf sound she made as the wind got knocked out of her.
“Right, because nothing compares to the injustice of not being able to date Paul Look-At-Me-And-My-Rock-Hard-Abs Abercrombie.”
“Don’t undermine my hardships!”
“That hardly constitutes as a hardship, Nat,” Dare snorted, always one to eavesdrop onto our conversations. Granted, we were talking rather loudly and he was seated right across from us, doing his homework like the nerdy model student that he was.
“Oh like you would know, Mr My Life Is Handed to Me on a Silver Platter,” she snapped back, sticking out her tongue.
On top of being ridiculously responsible and intelligent, Dare also just so happened to have been born into one of the wealthiest Muggle families in England (technically, his family was from Australia, but they currently resided in Chelsea, so my exaggeration was still somewhat correct). The White family was famous in the Muggle world for their giant cattle ranch and leather factory, where they exported high quality cuts and genuine hides to countries all around the globe (as well as raising and selling some Grade-A livestock). Considering how Dare was practically an unofficial vegetarian (if you ever have the misfortune of seeing him shirtless, you’ll see just how much he was lacking in the protein department), I always found this little fact about his family highly ironic.
But it wasn’t just their dad’s side that was bringing home the bacon.
Combining the fresh, hip styles of Muggle fashion with the traditionalistic clothing of wizards, Alicia Spinet-White was a vastly renowned designer in both worlds. Her unique yet impeccable taste has earned her not only a regular spot on Witch Weekly’s cover page, but has caught the eye of some major fashion giants. She has over seventeen boutiques scattered around Western Europe, Australia, and America, two fragrance lines, and her very own charity that provides underprivileged orphans in Brazil (where her own family is from) with fashionable handmade sweaters.
There’s a pool going on where kids are betting how far down their Gringotts vault is located (their Muggle money is kept in some high-security bank in Switzerland).
“Says the girl whose father is the owner of Puddlemere United,” Dare replied back, and Nat immediately shut her mouth, knowing that he had got her there.
It was at that moment in which I realized I spent the vast majority of my time around the rich and famous (or rather, their offspring). I mean, my whole family was littered with them, being war heroes and such. My parents were among the more “homely” of the bunch, but still, it wasn’t like we were poor or anything. Although, if you were to put our modest little cottage right next to the Potters’ bloody mansion, then I guess it would look a bit shabby. It was kind of unnerving to think about, to be honest.
“Touché,” Nat finally replied, and I rolled my eyes at her constant need to have the final word. Dare merely shook his head and returned to his work. I was a little surprised at the amount of books and parchment he had out, but then I remembered that he was an overachieving maniac who actually did his homework when he was supposed to.
“How many classes are you taking?” I asked him, figuring that all of that work couldn’t possibly be for just one class.
“Not that many, actually,” he replied, pushing his glasses up with his forefinger. “There’s the basic core, and then just History, Muggle Studies, Ancient Runes, and Arithmancy for electives.”
“Are you suicidal?”
Just the thought of having to take eight classes was making my blood pressure rise. Of course I really shouldn’t talk, since I was only taking Divination and Herbology for electives. I believed that to set up high standards and expectations, was just setting yourself up for failure. Honestly, the only thing those so called “extra classes” were good for, was to stress you out even more. I had no idea what nerds like Dare and my cousin Rose found so attractive about them.
“I like to keep my options open,” Dare answered, defensively.
“Options open? What the hell do you need Muggle Studies for?”
That class had to be the most useless one we had here at Hogwarts. All students ever did in there was listen to Professor Humphries ramble on about this thing called the intynet, or whatever, and how it’s the invention of the century and stuff. It was the easiest class to get an O in, besides Divination of course, and I probably would have taken it were it not for the fact that Humphries actually made you write essays for the class. It wasn’t like he bothered to read them or anything, but if I had to waste time doing assignments I’d rather do it by coming up with a whole bunch of intricate lies for Trelawney. It beats spitting out random facts about book faces and goggles any day. At least then I’d be exercising my creativity.
“I don’t know, in case I choose to go into the Ministry or something!” he replied frustrated. “What’s wrong with wanting to take a few additional classes?”
“Nothing!” I answered, amused with how worked up he was getting. “Except that it’s completely mental.”
“You’re completely mental.”
“Very original, Dare.”
“Aw, you guys are so cute!” Nat commented, and I threw a cushion at her head. However, having the excellent hand-eye-coordination that she did, she managed to catch the cushion midair and tucked it safely underneath her arm.
“Don’t you have some Quidditch planning to do, Nat?” Dare asked annoyed, cheeks red with embarrassment.
“Oh that reminds me!” she exclaimed, and jumped off of the sofa before running up to our dorm. I looked at Dare questioningly, but he just shrugged.
God, he was useless.
I let out a huff, and began to look for something to do while I waited for Nat to return. Dare went back to his homework, as if I had never interrupted him. I would have asked him which class he was working on, but I figured that that conversation would probably just end up in another argument. And considering how I was supposed to be making an effort to get along with him, it was probably best if I just left him alone.
I settled for pulling apart the split ends on my hair.
“I’m baaack!” Nat finally sang, and I quickly looked over towards the girls’ staircases to find her carrying a neatly wrapped white package.
“What’s that for?” I asked, brushing off the mountain of dead hair that had accumulated on my lap. She was gone for a pretty long time, okay?
“It’s your belated birthday gift!” she exclaimed, dumping the parcel onto my lap and I glanced at it with a cautious curiosity.
The box was thin and rectangular – the exact shape you’d find at a clothing store. I shuddered at the thought of Nat buying me clothes. Anything she picks out has a fifty-fifty chance of being either something you’d wear to work a street corner or something that was so ridiculously fitted you couldn’t even gasp without busting a seam.
“How did Dare mentioning Quidditch remind you to give me my birthday present?” I asked, looking for any excuse to avoid opening the gift.
“Unwrap it to find out,” was all she offered.
Trying not to hold my breath, I warily opened the box and after moving some tissue paper, felt a rush of relief. The piercing silver letters of Mason Abercrombie’s name shone crisply amongst the jersey’s pale blue background. Abercrombie was the Appleby Arrows’ current Seeker and he was an absolute genius – as well as being Paul’s uncle. He was definitely not the most popular player on the team, which I find an injustice, but his jerseys still racked up a good number of galleons that my measly allowance would never be able to cover.
Well, I suppose I could’ve afforded it, but that would’ve meant sacrificing some of my chocolate budget, which is never an option.
“This is brilliant, Nat,” I told her, handling the jersey with care.
“I figured you’d think so,” she answered, ever so humbly. “Although why you continue to faun over him is beyond me. Everyone knows that O’Leary is the Arrows’ best player.”
“O’Leary is completely overrated.”
“You only say that because you’ve got a vendetta against the Irish.”
“I do not have a vendetta!” I protested. “Just because I can’t stand Devon Finnegan, does not mean I hate his people.”
Devon, a fellow seventh year Gryffie, has been on my bad side ever since he jinxed an army of chocolate frogs to follow me around for an entire week back in fourth year. If it weren’t for the fact that he defiled the sanctity of chocolate for his own juvenile whims, I would have found the prank to be clever. But that wasn’t the case, so instead I spiked his morning pumpkin juice with an especially strong laxative potion that my Uncle George had taught me to make. We both earned a week’s worth of detention for those stunts, although he had the added misfortune of having to deal with the runs.
“The only reason everyone likes O’Leary is because he’s a show-off. Just because Abercrombie doesn’t fly around shirtless and flexes his muscles every other minute, doesn’t make him any less of a player,” Dare added, and I stared at him with a new found admiration.
“You follow the Arrows?” I asked, amazed.
“They’re only the best team in the league,” he answered bluntly, looking at me as if I were stupid.
“I’m sorry but that title goes to Puddlemere, although the Arrows aren’t half bad,” Nat commented, and I rolled my eyes at her bias.
“Whatever you say, Nat,” I told her, before turning my attention back to Dare. “How come you never told me that you were an Arrowhead?”
He shrugged, “You’ve never asked.”
Well, would you look at that? It seems that I had something in common with the prick, after all.
“When was their best season?” I inquired, double checking to make sure that this wasn’t a fluke.
“Back in thirty-two, the same year when they defeated the Vratsa Vultures. Although, the last couple of years they’ve been making an excellent comeback.”
I felt my mouth drop. He truly was an Arrowhead.
“Faulkner or Hoppsworth?” I asked, referring to the Arrows’ two greatest coaches of all time.
“Hoppsworth, hands down.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Not only was he a fan of the Arrows, which made him one out of three people in the entire school (the third being Paul My-Uncle-Is-A-Bloody-Amazing-Seeker Abercrombie, of course), but he also shared the exact same views that I had of the team. Maybe this whole having to be nice to him thing wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Right, and maybe Dumbledore was gay.
“Is it just me, or are Dare and Minnie actually getting along for once?” James’ voice asked, and I looked up to find him walking into the common room with the other seventh year Gryffindors.
“Someone call the Daily Prophet and let them know of this monumental moment in history!” Eliot McLaggen announced loudly, causing a crowd of fourth year girls to look over at our direction.
Not that that was surprising.
All Eli had to do to draw a bunch of attention towards him was breathe. Then again, he also had a flair for dramatics, so I don’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to prove that theory. But considering how the general population at Hogwarts was fairly superficial, only paying attention to the attractive and over confident, I wouldn’t say that it was much of a long shot.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Dare told him, embarrassed by the sudden attention.
“Not that big of a deal?” Eli exclaimed, “Mate, Minnie has hated your guts since the dawn of time. To have her willingly be nice to you...that’s... that’s pretty freaking epic.”
He had a point (although, I couldn’t believe he just used the word ‘epic’. What was he, a first year?).
“Anyone care to explain the sudden change of heart?” Devon asked, taking a seat on the armrest which my head was leaning on. I quickly shoved him off before he could make himself comfortable, relishing in the loud thud he made once he hit the floor.
“They were bonding over their mutual love of the Arrows,” Nat explained, a pleased look on her face, and the lot exploded into laughter.
“Ah, the power of Quidditch!” Eli exclaimed, wrapping his arm around Dare’s shoulder. “It can either cure a rivalry, or make it completely worse. Lucky for you, you managed to pick the right team.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who says that I stopped hating him?” I interrupted, “That was just one, miniscule moment in time where we just so happened to get along on a slightly semi-important topic.”
“Slightly semi-important?” James asked, incredulously. “Min, one of the main criteria you judge people on is by who they root for during the European Cup.”
It was moments like these (where I was trying to get a point across) when I really hated the fact that James knew practically everything about me.
“Well, that doesn’t mean that Dare and I are suddenly going to start being best friends,” I protested, annoyed.
I mean yeah, I sort of promised Professor Longbottom that I was going to make an effort to get along with him, and the fact that we’re both fans of the same Quidditch team helps a bit (okay, maybe a lot), but that doesn’t necessarily change anything. I wasn’t just about to give up seven years of hateship, which I just so happened to put a lot of effort into, for one (rather significant) similarity.
“Why not?” James asked, and I glared at the little smirk that was forming at the corner of his lips.
“Yeah, Min. Why not?” Nat added, taking joy in my discomfort.
“He’s really not that bad. A little quiet, but overall, he’s a pretty decent bloke,” Eli offered, and I looked around to find that not only were my fellow classmates looking at me expectantly, but so was the entire common room.
I looked at them at a loss for words, trying to figure how to put together a reply that wouldn’t sound completely irrational and childish (even though that was the whole reasoning behind my answer). Their faces screamed victory, knowing that I couldn’t come up with a reasonable response. And then I had to make the mistake of glancing at Dare.
For once in his life, he didn’t have that smug, know-it-all expression that I was hoping he’d have. He appeared genuinely intrigued, his larges eyes holding a hopefully expectant look in them, which made it all the more difficult to answer.
Damn it. He’s been taking puppy eye lessons from James.
“Because... because Nat’s my best friend, and it would be completely unfair to her if I replaced her for Dare!” I finally stuttered out, although it was only half-hearted.
“She makes a good point,” Nat replied, and the guys rolled their eyes.
“It’s useless, guys.” James admitted, “In fact, I bet ten galleons that Minnie couldn’t go a month trying to be friends with Dare.”
Oh no he didn’t.
“I’ll call you on that bet,” Eli added, and I felt my eye twitch. “We should start a pool. Go around asking everyone in our year how long they think Minnie can go being friends with him. I’m pretty sure we could raise a decent amount of cash once she finally breaks.”
Now they were just being evil.
“Oooh, I want in on this!” Nat exclaimed, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “I’ve got seven years of experience of trying to get Minnie to change her ways. I give her a week until she cracks.”
“You lot are way too optimistic. I say seventy two hours,” Devon said, and I groaned.
Damn them all to hell.
“I bet you all that I could go this entire term being friendly to him!” I finally remarked, my stubborn Gryffindor pride getting the best of me.
What these idiots didn’t know was that I had already made that promise to Longbottom. So now, not only was I getting forty galleons worth of incentive to follow through with it, but I was also getting another victory to put on my rather long list of bets and challenges that I never lost.
Besides, being nice to Dare shouldn’t be that hard, right?
“I guess all that’s left for us to do now is to put it down on paper,” James said with a triumphant smirk. “I’ll go tell Freddy to start drawing up the documents.”
“You go do that,” I told him assuredly. “And the rest of you better start putting away your money, because come Christmas, I’m going to be one hell of a rich girl.”
“What makes you so sure you’re going to win?” Dare asked, an amused look on his face.
“Because,” I met his gaze with confidence. “When was the last time I ever lost a bet?”
Nat - Rachel Bilson
A/N: Well would you look at that? The plot's finally moving! Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter! I know I said that I was going to have this up before Christmas, but honestly, when was the last time I actually followed through with an update promise? I am working on that though - I even made a resolution to write new words every day (and so far, I've been pretty good with it).
Also, I would like to take this time to thank all of you who have reviewed! You guys make my day! And a very special thanks to Emma (argetlam shadeslayer) for those lovely reviews on Sunday that motivated me so much, I got off my lazy bum and typed out the rest of the story. (That's the power of warm and fuzzy reviews, for you!) You guys should thank her too, and go check out her stories because they're pretty flipping great.
Speaking of checking things out, I also got a Meet the Author page! After you leave a review (like that subtlety?) you should also come by and leave me a few questions. Alright, enough of my babbling. Thanks again everyone
PS: As of now, I am posting this on Valentine's Day, so think of this chapter as my special gift to let you know how much I love and appreciate all of you! Hope all of you had a good one!