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Chapter 1: The One In Which I Almost Fall Into The Fireplace
graphics by me
It was all Marney's idea, really.
I mean, she'd just been full of ideas so far this year (and we were only two days into it), but I felt like this one topped them all, even the B.I.P. (Blending In Program).
"The prefect team are up to something," my best friend muttered. We were sitting in the prime spot in front of the fire in the common room, having had to scare off a couple of second years with our really bad jokes to get them to scamper first. "I'm sure of it. And that Percy Weasley, he's in charge."
I flinched at the mention of my arch-nemesis (well, he's my arch-nemesis in my head, I doubt he thinks the same way -- he's far too serious and mature for that sort of thing). He was my complete opposite, obsessed with schoolwork and being good and Prefect stuff. "Why Weasley?"
"He's Head Boy, of course he would be in charge. I mean, it could also be Natasha, since she's Head Girl, but given the natural hierarchy of things, it's more likely to be him, because he's a male." Marney's a Gryffindor like me, but I consider her more of a cross between a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw, because she's really weird and likes to say things that sound intelligent but actually aren't.
"What do you think they're up to?" I asked.
She shrugged. "I have no idea. It's why I was telling you, because I want you to befriend Weasley and find out."
My mouth might have dropped open a little. "You can't be serious, Marney! You know he hates me!"
"He doesn't hate you. He just can't condone your bad behaviour."
"How am I badly behaved?" I demanded.
"You exploded a cushion in the common room last night and hid the debris under a rug," she said, giggling.
I spluttered indignantly. "That's not bad behaviour, that's being... crafty!"
"It's not being crafty when you're stuffing it under there with your shoe and thinking that everyone else can't see what you're doing when they totally can."
"Okay, fine. But what else have I done that's an example of bad behaviour?"
She thought for a second. "In fourth year you tripped over a suit of armour and pulled down a massive tapestry as you tried to get back up. On the train yesterday, you shut a first year's finger in the compartment door. In our first year, you almost knocked out Madam Hooch with your broomstick because you did an impromptu hurl-towards-the-ground-at-full-speed sort of landing. Oh yeah, and do you remember in third year..." She started giggling uncontrollably.
"Okay, I don't even want to know," I said. "And this is getting off of the point. I am not going to befriend Percy Weasley!"
It was, of course, at that precise moment that the guy I was speaking off clambered through the portrait hole and came to a stop in front of us as he heard his name being said. And in my embarrassment, I dove off of the sofa for the nearest hiding place – but it didn't work out so well because I suddenly found myself tripping over the edge of the rug and hurtling head first towards the fireplace. Thank Merlin for giving us men with quick reflexes, because Weasley grabbed my arm just as I was about to have my face planted into a pit of fiery hell.
"Now..." Pulling me upwards into a standing position, he let go of my arm and straightened his tie a little. "What was that you were saying about me, Harold?"
For lack of any other hiding places and/or escape plans, I decided to answer him (not truthfully, of course).
"I was just telling Marney how good your hair looks this year."
I enjoyed the way his cheeks reddened excessively at my not-so-sincere compliment and had to try very hard to stop myself from bursting into giggles as he stuttered out a thanks and quickly retreated.
"See!" Marney cried out as soon as he'd left the room for the boys' dormitories. "He doesn't hate you!"
I shrugged, sitting back down next to her. "I can't go about attracting his attention when you want me to do the B.I.P."
She grabbed hold of my shoulders and leaned in close. "If you find out his secrets, I will gladly renounce the B.I.P."
This seemed like too good of an opportunity not to pass up. "Deal."
It turned out when Marney wanted me to 'befriend' Weasley, she actually meant that she wanted me to 'get into his pants', which she insisted was basically the same thing, but which I told her was ridiculous.
"But Audrey!" she wailed/whispered (we were having a quiet conversation in our dorm at about two in the morning and didn't want to wake anyone up). "Being friends will not let you weasel -- haha, see what I did there? Weasel, Weasley? Haha -- any information out of him. But..." She paused dramatically, clasping my hands in hers.
"But?" I prompted, after about twenty seconds of silence. She seemed to have lost her train of thought completely mid-pause and was now staring off into the darkness.
She snapped to attention. "But with your ultimate seduction skills and the lure of sex he will be helpless in your hands. You can get him to tell you anything."
"We don't even know if he likes me!"
Marney snorted loudly, causing one of our roommates in another bed across from us to roll over and murmur something that sounded like 'shut the hell up' before letting out a loud snore. "What you just said is irrelevant, Aud. Boys like anything with legs and a... hooha, so you're safe." She paused and gave me a look. "Right?"
I rolled my eyes. "Are you saying that I don't have a vagina?"
"In your world, yes."
"Look," she said abruptly, jumping up and coming to sit next to me on my bed. "You've just got to seduce him, okay? You cause the most trouble around here out of all us, so it can't be hard to cause a bit more, can it? Just do something that makes chaos, and then get him to come running and deduct house points. He probably likes bad girls, being a man of authority and all. I'm guessing he probably wouldn't mind spanking you a bit too."
She winked, and I shook my head, rolling my eyes. She was totally inappropriate. Luckily after seven years I was beginning to get used to it. "You are so gross, Marney. Why am I even friends with you?"
"Because you love me!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around my neck for a brief and mildly suffocating hug before bounding across to her bed.
We both lay down, silent, and were asleep in minutes.
"We have Defence Against The Dark Arts today," Marney mused, spoon of cereal halfway to her mouth. Her eyes were on the staff table, and I followed her gaze to see that she was ogling at our new professor, Remus Lupin.
"You don't fancy him, do you?" I asked. She was silent. "Marney! He's super old! He has grey hair!"
"He's not super old," she retorted indignantly, as if she actually knew his age. (Which she probably did. She had a great way of finding out stuff that she really had no business knowing.) "And his grey hair is from stress, which shows he's hard-working and dedicated."
"Well, he looks like he's half asleep," I said, just as he slumped forwards a little, eyes drooping, and nearly did a face plant into his plate, all to prove my case. Fortunately he'd caught himself at the last moment and was now looking around to see if anyone had noticed.
"It's from all the hard work and dedication," she said.
"You're not convincing me."
She stuck her tongue out as way of retort and then stealthily nudged me in the ribs with her elbow as Pompous Percy (as I like to call him) strode into the room, head held high.
"Decided what you're going to do to get into trouble yet?" she asked.
"No," I muttered, fiddling with my fork and looking everywhere but him. This was such a stupid idea. "And I mean, I'm all for pulling pranks and such -- it's the bit afterwards that I'm not too keen on. Do you remember Ronan Carver? I can't seduce boys."
Marney giggled, turning her gaze from Lupin momentarily so that she could face me. "Of course I remember Ronan Carver. Just use it as experience, yeah? At least know you what not to do."
"Ugh." As memories of the worst first kiss ever known to history came flooding back into my mind, I let my head slump into my arms.
"You're getting milk in your hair," Marney informed me helpfully, and I peeked out from behind my sleeves to see her gaze turning back to Lupin up at the high table again.