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How not to be a Woodley by NH Stadler

Format: Novel
Chapters: 32
Word Count: 142,969
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Humor, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Albus, James (II), OC
Pairings: James/OC, Harry/Ginny, Teddy/Victoire, OC/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 09/18/2014
Last Chapter: 09/17/2017
Last Updated: 09/17/2017

Summary:


 

*HPFF BEST STORY 2017*
*Dobby Award 2017 Best Post-Hogwarts*
*Dobby Award 2017 Best OC*
*Dobby Award 2017 Best Plot Twist*
*Dobby Award 2017 Most Original Fic*
(THANK YOU SO MUCH!)



 

Spectacular rumours, shocking plots, and outrageous family expectations.
Can you feel the pressure?
I know I do.


Chapter 14: A Game of Quidditch


A/N: First of all, I AM SORRY it took me that long to update. I had a gigantic exam last week and therefore couldn’t finish this chapter. But now it is here and I made it extra-long, hoping that you guys forgive me.







 

“They are unbelievable.” I plunged my hand into Katie’s popcorn bucket and stuffed a handful into my mouth, not caring that I probably looked like a hamster. “Forgot how dress properly,” I spat, spraying tiny bits of popcorn onto my jeans. “What am I supposed to wear to a Quidditch Kick-off? A ball gown?”

“You look very nice, dear.” Katie’s mum had leaned over her daughter to pat my shoulder, giving me a warm smile.

I replied the gesture and slumped a little in my seat. “Thanks Gemma.”

“Just don’t let them get to you,” Katie said, offering me her popcorn, but I declined, shaking my head. This was easier said than done; standing up to one Woodley at a time might have been manageable, but dealing with all of them at once felt like being sent into battle with a blindfold.

There was a sudden wave of cheers and applause and as blue-clad figures all rose around me, punching the air with their fists, I realised that the game was over. And, by the looks of it, Ravenclaw had won.

A spectacular catch by Ravenclaw seeker Hector Chang!” The magnified voice of the commentator echoed across the elevated stands, just to be drowned out by the smattering applause and cheers that followed.

“Great job, Hector!” Adina Singer cried out a couple of rows in front of me, waving her hands like a maniac as the entire team did a victory lap around the stadium. Bernice and the other beater trailed a little behind the others, looking thoroughly exhausted.

“Good game,” Katie said as she got up and stretched rather noisily. “A bit short.”

“I thought it was brilliant!” Gemma beamed, her eyes still trained on the flying blue blob that was the Ravenclaw team. Katie’s mum had come to see the Kick-off every year, yet she was always fascinated by every piece of magic she got to see.

“I think I should go look for my family,” I sighed after a couple of minutes and finally rose from the comfortable seat. I actually didn’t have to look for them; I had already spotted my grandparents’ house elf Trixie on the Slytherin side, running back and forth frantically to save a couple of perfectly located seats for my family.

Typical.

“See you later!” Katie shouted after me as I made my way through the now shifting crowd; everybody seemed to use the short break in between the two games to stretch their legs a little and it was difficult to manoeuvre through the throngs of people. It was only with quite a bit of elbowing that I reached the stairs, when suddenly, someone stopped right in front of me, blocking the way.

“We need to talk,” Felicity Bolder said in a low voice, her dark hair flying wildly around her round face. Although we had never actually spoken to each other, I wasn’t surprised that she had chatted me up. After all, she probably knew that I had made the potion for her.

“Oh, um, Sam already told me,” I said quickly, not wanting to go into too much detail when there were so many people around us. “I’m glad I could help, really.”

“Help?” Her voice cracked oddly and angry red blotches appeared on her face. “Help? Are you serious? You ruined everything!”

I was so taken aback that I failed to react and, for a moment, only stared at Felicity, my mouth literally hanging open. What on earth was going on?

“I found your letters underneath his bed,” she hissed, her eyes narrowing to slits.

What?” I finally managed to say, still absolutely clueless about what was going on. Somehow, I seemed to have missed out on some crucial piece of information that would help me make sense of this strange conversation.

“Oh please.” Felicity rolled her eyes, knotting her arms tightly in front of her chest. “Sam broke up with me. I hope you’re happy now!” She spat the last couple of words with such menace that tiny drops of saliva flew from her mouth. Then, without waiting for a reply, she stalked off, disappearing into the crowd.

            For a moment, I still stared at the spot where she had vanished, feeling completely wrong-footed. I couldn’t be entirely sure, but it seemed as though she had just accused me of breaking Sam and her up. This was ridiculous, of course; besides the fact that I had absolutely no interest in interfering with anyone’s relationship, I hadn’t even known that they weren’t together anymore.

            This day just kept getting worse.

 

**

 

I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Green and red blurs swished through the air in front of me, rousing the people in the stands as they performed risky stunts on their broomsticks, but I simply couldn’t focus on the match. All I could think about was Felicity and the odd conversation we had had about an hour ago. As soon as this was over, I had to find Sam and ask him what was going on.

            “Who is the Gryffindor Seeker?” My father asked as he squinted at the pitch, his arms crossed in front of his chest. He had just arrived in time for the match, still wearing the suit-and-tie combo he usually wore to work.

            “James Potter,” Vala replied with a breathy voice that was very unusual for her. She seemed to have noticed too, since her cheeks blushed pink and she quickly cleared her throat. “He’s the captain too.”

            “Potter,” my father mused, a deep frown appearing on his face. It was no secret that he wasn’t a fan of the Potters; in fact, my entire family wasn’t. This was not so much due to some old pureblood prejudices (although, I couldn’t be entirely sure about that), but rather related to the fact that old money families like mine traditionally disapproved of those, who had only recently acquired a certain status and prominence in the wizarding world.

            “In Danston,” Asher began, as a Bludger swooshed dangerously close past the Slytherin stand, “we didn’t have Quidditch matches. The emphasis was on academics rather than on chasing a tiny ball on a broomstick.” He chuckled as though he had just made a great joke, and I simply rolled my eyes. I really wasn’t a particular Quidditch fan and I disliked the privileges that came with being on one of the house teams, but I would never agree with Asher. On principle.

            He had taken the seat next to mine and, since then, not even once shut up about how crude Quidditch was and about his elitist all-boys school and about studying magical law, which was honestly one of the dullest topics I had ever been forced to listen to.

            “Asher’s father owns the biggest magical law firm in England,” Grandfather supplied from the row behind us, clasping Asher’s shoulder, who smiled complacently.

            I simply nodded in silence, not sure what I was expected to say to that. It wasn’t exactly an achievement to have successful parents. Unfortunately, my mother had noticed my less than enthusiastic reply and shot me a stern look that was the same one she had given me when I had been a toddler, struggling to hold the teacup with only two fingers.

            Suddenly, there was a loud whoosh and I looked up just in time to see two blurry figures racing above our heads, taking a sharp turn and then suddenly plunging towards the ground. James Potter was neck on neck with the Slytherin seeker as they sped downwards and the crowds in the stands had sprung to their feet, yelling and cheering so loudly, their voices melted to an indistinguishable roar.

            “When you study magical law,” Asher began to talk next to me once again, but his voice drowned in the noise. Potter and Hatte were mere inches from the ground and, for a moment, it looked like they were going to crash. Suddenly Hatte pulled up his broom, shaking his head wildly as he trailed off to the side-line. James, however, was still approaching the pitch at breakneck speed, his arm outstretched as though he was reaching for something. People began to scream, probably thinking, like me, that he was about to collide with the ground; however, just when it seemed too late, he pulled out of his dive and soared upwards again. In his hand was a struggling golden ball, flapping its tiny silver wings.

            I rose with the crowd in the stadium, which had exploded with shouts and cheers, and clapped along wildly, until I realised that no one else around me had gotten to their feet. In all this excitement, I had completely forgotten that I was in the Slytherin stand.

            “Oh, I meant boo Gryffindor! You stink!” I hooted feebly, trying to avoid my family’s disapproving looks.

“Sit down!” Grandmother hissed, looking thoroughly embarrassed, and I let myself fall back onto my chair again, feeling my face heat up.

“Well, it was a great dive,” someone said behind me and I wheeled around instantly to stare at my grandfather, not believing that he had actually just said that. The rest of the family seemed to feel the same way, as they all regarded him with a mixture of shock and disbelieve, but he didn’t seem to notice or care. His grey eyes simply met mine and suddenly his right eyelid twitched briefly, before he rose from his seat.

Seriously, if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought that my grandfather had just winked at me.

 

**

 

I had dived into the crowd; quite recklessly, but it had been the only way to shake off Asher, who had launched into yet another speech on magical private law. I knew that I would have to endure a lecture on manners from my mother later, but Asher had been more than I could bear at the moment.

I was tossed around a bit, before I finally emerged again, finding myself at the edge of the Quidditch pitch, where a couple of house elves had started picking up the debris of the games, including cups and stray wrapping papers. Exhausted, I let myself plop down onto one of the benches on the side-line, watching the little creatures darting around the grass, collecting rubbish as though they couldn’t imagine anything better.

At least someone was having fun.

I let my gaze wander, not really taking in the huddled groups of people that had gathered on the pitch, talking in excited voices. Most of them seemed to be the families of the players, catching their loved ones before they could vanish into the changing rooms.

“I knew James wouldn’t fall,” A young girl with long, auburn hair and an overly large Gryffindor Quidditch strip said loudly, earning a playful shove from the tall boy next to her.

“Yeah right, Lily,” he said with exasperation, his voice ringing across the pitch, and I sat up a little straighter, realising that it was Albus Potter.

I hadn’t seen him for a while, yet I hadn’t expected him to look so different; his usually messy black hair had been slicked back unnaturally and the stiff, beige khakis that covered his legs looked more like something Asher would wear. It was such an odd picture that, for a while, I didn’t even notice that he was standing among, what must have been his family; his father, tall and black-haired, towered next to a very pretty woman with brilliant ginger hair, who was caressing the shoulder of a very rumpled looking, dirt-splattered James Potter. He was still wearing his Quidditch clothes and clutching a broomstick in his hand, a broad grin on his face.

“It was still a bit risky, though. You could have seriously injured yourself.”

Mum,” James groaned, albeit still smiling as he exchanged knowing looks with his father, “I’ve heard stories of you in which you crashed into the commentator’s stand. On purpose.”

“Well, that was different,” she said very firmly, but her voice drowned among the shouts of protest from her family and I couldn’t help smiling along as they all burst into laughter.

Unfortunately, James had chosen exactly that moment to look up and, of course, spotted me immediately, hanging around all by myself at the edge of the pitch, watching them like a total creep.

Great.

Without really thinking, I simply turned on my heels and walked off the pitch rather awkwardly, accidentally knocking down two tiny house elves in the process. Maybe there was still a chance that he hadn’t actually seen me. After all, he could have just been staring into my general direction, right? And even if he had seen me it didn’t matter. I hadn’t been doing anything weird. I had simply been hanging out. At the pitch. By myself. Staring at the Potters. With a dim-witted smile.

            Quidditch Kick-Offs sucked. Big time.

 

**

 

I squinted as I stared at the setting sun, watching it sink slowly behind the dark treetops of the Forbidden Forest. The Kick-Off festivities were in full swing, with loud music blasting from all sides and alluring barbeque scents drifting in the evening air, but I hardly felt like partying. I had taken refuge behind the pavilion, only barley shaking off Asher, who apparently had taken my unenthusiastic nods and sighs as encouragement to tell me even more about the fascinating world of magical law.

“Oops, sorry.” Vala had stumbled around the corner, holding up her Champaign glass as she tried to regain her balance. “What are you doing here?” There was a definite slur in her voice as she spoke, still wobbling slightly on her heels.

            “Just waiting for this day to be over,” I sighed, not bothering to come up with some clever reply.

            Vala stared at me for a moment, taking another swig from her drink and then simply chucking the empty glass towards the edge of the forest, where it landed with a dull plunk. “You’re really weird,” she finally said, her dark eyes narrowing like she was trying to zoom in on me.

            I simply shrugged, not looking at her this time. If there was one thing I didn’t need right now it was my legless cousin telling me that I was weird.

Unfortunately, Vala did not walk away again, but stumbled towards me, her heels getting stuck in the dirt every other step. “You know,” she sighed, pulling on the skirt of her designer dress, “I would never say this if I wasn’t completely pissed, but I’ve always envied you a little.”

What?” I looked at her with raised eyebrows, not sure I had heard correctly.

“You’re so… fearless.”

I had to hold back a sarcastic snort. There were probably a range of adjectives to describe me, but fearless was definitely not among them. Vala, however, didn’t seem to have noticed my reaction.

“I mean, yes, that boy-phase was weird,” she continued unperturbed, staring at the glowing evening sun. “I mean, you really looked horrible with that choppy hair and don’t get me started on the clothes… But the point is that, despite what everyone said, you didn’t change.  And you chose Ravenclaw over Slytherin-“

“Well, technically I didn’t choose, so-”

“Whatever,” Vala waved her hand impatiently, accidentally slapping her own face. “Everyone knows that’s a hoax. Anyway,” she sighed, struggling to keep her balance as she straightened up, “in case you haven’t noticed, I’m really drunk so hopefully I won’t remember any of this tomorrow. Don’t tell Cassie I was nice to you, okay?”

“Sure.” I couldn’t help a smile as I watched my cousin stagger back around the corner to join our family again. This was probably the longest, albeit weirdest conversation Vala and I had ever had. And, most surprisingly, it had been kind of nice.

            “There you are!”

I looked up in shock, staring directly into Asher’s eager face.

“Vala told me you wanted to meet me here?” He squinted, shielding his eyes against the glare of the now orange sun, but I could still see the hint of a knowing smile on his face. Asher was probably quite handsome; at least in that preppy kind of way that really appealed to girls like Cassandra. However, besides the fact that boys really were among the last things on my mind right now, I just couldn’t see it.

“Oh, um, what?” I stammered lamely, taking an automatic step backwards.

Asher smiled, looking around haphazardly as he slowly moved closer to me. “Cosy,” he simply said, winking at me as though we were sharing an inside joke. “Now, what’s next?”

Not liking the sudden raspy quality of his voice, I stumbled backwards as he drew closer to me. “Um, I, well-” I stammered, almost falling over a rock as I continued to walk backwards. The image of a pair of slimy, wet lips pressing hard onto my mouth kept popping up in my head and I shuddered momentarily.

I had to get away.

“I, uh, I have to check on something,” I almost shouted at Asher, finally getting him to stand still, “in there.” For lack of a better idea, I had pointed at the dark mass that was the Forbidden Forest.

“In there?” Asher looked slightly put off for a moment as he peered over my shoulder, apparently examining the dense forest. “Well, I’ll come with you then to, um, help you.”

“No!” This time I had yelled properly, my arms outstretched in front of me like a protective shield. “I mean, you can’t. It’s, um – Hippogriffs.”

“Hippogriffs?”

“Yeah,” I said feebly, entirely aware of my burning face. Not only was my own body betraying me, but also my usually quite reliable brain seemed to have abandoned me. “It’s a project for Care of Magical Creatures. They are really dangerous, though. Hate strangers.”

“But-” Asher started, taking another step into my direction, but I had already made up my mind; ignoring the voice in my head that kept yelling I was breaking school rules, I turned on my heels and – with as much determination as I could muster – stalked off into the dark forest.

 

**

 

It had been a stupid idea. I was fully aware of that, but I couldn’t turn back. Not yet. I had ventured a fair bit into the forest, careful not to go too far. The trees were not as dense here, still allowing a faint orange glare to trickle through the dark treetops. I didn’t really have a plan, except for maybe finding a rock to sit down and wait for a while, hoping that Cassandra would have snatched Asher by the time I returned, sparing me an awkward goodbye.

            In retrospective, I probably should have just told Asher to leave me alone, rather than running off into the Forbidden Forest. It would have been majorly uncomfortable and I would have had to suffer the wrath of the Woodleys, but at least I would have saved myself the agony of roaming a potentially dangerous forest on my own.

            Suddenly, there was a crack, followed by an odd grunting noise and I stopped dead in my tracks, listening intently. Low humming noises mingled with the muffled music from the grounds, but there was no indication of movement around me.

Deciding that I had only imagined it, I moved a little closer to a particularly bright spot, where the weak light of the setting sun dappled the earthy ground. However, just before I had reached it, there was another gurgling sound to my right and I jumped back, spotting it immediately: A big, wriggling black mass stood against a group of trees, uttering low grunts as it continued to writhe its body, oddly changing its shape and, before I could stop it, a panic-fuelled shriek had escaped my mouth.

            “Who’s there?” It shrieked back in a high, girlish voice and, as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I finally realised that I hadn’t run into some gigantic, wriggling creature after all; staring back at me were the tightly wrapped figures of Athena Notte and James Potter.

            “Oh god, I’m sorry!” I groaned immediately, closing my eyes at the compromising sight in front of me. I had definitely seen Potter’s hand shoved underneath her skirt and that was already more than I had ever wanted to see. “I didn’t see anything! Or kinda. I’m just gonna-” Squinting, I began to backtrack, barely managing to not stumble over the wealth of branches and stones that littered the ground.

            “Woodley, is that you?” James said and I thought I could hear a tinge of amusement in his deep voice.

            “Um, yes,” I finally admitted after a second’s hesitation. There was really no point in pretending to be someone else. That would have only made it more embarrassing than it already was.

            “Wait, who is that?” Athena sounded resentful, but I couldn’t really blame her. After all, I had just rudely interrupted her snogging session with James.

            “I’m no one, really,” I assured her quickly and, feeling I had clearly hung around for long enough, turned on the spot to walk off into the opposite direction. Unfortunately, in my eagerness to get away from them, I had turned a little too swiftly and slipped on a patch of wet leaves, painfully falling to the hard ground.

Into the dirt.

Face down. 

For a moment, I didn’t move, hoping that I would somehow just magically melt into the ground; was there a spell for that? If not, someone should really think about inventing one.

“Woodley, are you alright?” James voice tore me out of my thoughts and I quickly scrambled back up to my feet again, brushing leaves and dirt of my jeans. The fabric had torn around my knee cap, which now sported an impressive bleeding gash.

“Yeah, of course,” I said quickly, waving an airy hand at James, who had jogged over to me.

“That doesn’t look too good.” He pointed at my bleeding knee, which had soaked the torn edges of my jeans by now.

“James!” Athena yelled impatiently, still standing next to the group of trees where James had left her, her arms crossed tightly in front of her torso.

“I’m fine, really,” I said quickly, “I’ll just-”

“What are you even doing here, Woodley?” He looked at me with raised eyebrows, the corners of his mouth twitching lightly.

“I haven’t been stalking you, if that’s what you think,” I said quickly, feeling annoyed that he apparently still thought I fancied him. “I was just – well - strolling.”

Strolling,” he repeated, sarcasm oozing from his voice as he smirked at me.

“Yes,” I said defiantly, holding my head a little higher, “strolling. Now, if you would excuse me, Potter.”

James,” Athena called once again, approaching us with a rather menacing look on her pretty face. “I want to go. It’s getting cold.”

“Yeah, you should!” I said quickly, eager to just sit down on a rock and heal the gash on my knee. It had started throbbing uncomfortably and it was getting harder to stand upright. “I’m meeting someone, so-” It was, of course, a lie, but James’s incredulous expression made me so furious that I didn’t even blush.

“You are?” He arched an eyebrow in that arrogant manner that made me want to pummel him.

“Yes, of course,” I said somewhat loftily, taking on what Katie always referred to as the ‘bitter Shakespearean King’ voice, “Did you think I was just running around the Forbidden Forest by myself?” I mustered an awkward chuckle, as though I found the mere idea of that ridiculous.

James gave me a weird look, apparently not noticing Athens’s fingers that had wrapped around his biceps.

“Let’s go, James,” she said in a somewhat breathy voice and finally, after a bit of pulling on her side, he turned around and followed her lead towards the edge of the forest. 

            As soon as they were out of sight, I let myself sink onto the forest ground with a low moan, examining the damage on my right knee. It probably looked worse than it really was and, after wiping off the blood a little, I pulled my wand out of the pocket of my jeans and pointed it at the wound, muttering “episkey”. For a split second I felt a burning sensation and the gash closed up, leaving only a slightly red spot where the cut had been.

 

**

 

It had gotten dark by the time I had emerged from the Forbidden Forest again and the countless illuminated tents glowed like jewels all around the towering castle. The music had gotten louder, mingling with delighted hoots and shrieks of laughter and I could see the dark figures of dancing people in the distance. There was a definite chill in the air, now that the sun had set, but no one seemed to even notice the dropping temperatures.

            “How’s your knee?”

            I looked up startled, staring at James Potter with a bemused expression on my face. He stood there quite casually, one hand stuffed into the pocket of his jeans, the other clutching a piece of old, yellowed parchment, as he gave me a crooked smile. What the hell was he doing here?

            “Potter, are you stalking me?” I raised my eyebrows at him, but he simply grinned.

            “I just wanted to make sure you got out before nightfall,” he said nonchalantly, stuffing the parchment into his back-pocket. “I would have felt bad if something had eaten you.”

            “I can look after myself, thank you very much.” I had knotted my arms tightly in front of my torso, giving him a defiant glare.

            “Apparently,” James said with a small smile, turning towards the hub of the noise. “Well, I guess I see you around then, Woodley.”

            “Yeah, um, right. Potter?”

            “Yes?” He had stopped in mid-turn, his hands still in his pockets. The soft wind was ruffling up his messy brown hair and the thin, white T-shirt accentuated his athletic built. And for the first time – after managing to remain ignorant for so long – I could see why all the girls basically dissolved into manic squeals when James Potter walked by.

            Damn it.

            “I just – um – I” Great. I was stammering like an idiot. “I just wanted to say, um, thank you. For – you know – last week. Not that I needed help, of course,” I added quickly as I noticed the cocky smirk that had appeared on his face while I had been talking.

            “You really hate that I saved you, don’t you?”

            I opened my mouth with indignation but failed to come up with an answer. What the bloody hell was that supposed to mean? “Excuse me, but you didn’t save me,” I finally retorted, feeling my face burn, “I had everything under control.”

            “Sure,” He said slowly as though talking to a raging toddler.

            “I did!” I insisted stubbornly, knowing full-well that I probably wouldn’t be standing here if Potter hadn’t distracted McGonagall and delivered the potion to Sam. But something about his cocky demeanour, the arrogant assumption that he knew anything about me when he really had no idea, made it impossible for me to admit it.

“Right,” James said smugly, “just like you are not stalking me.”

“I know it’s hard to get that into your big head, Potter, but I am not bloody stalking you!” I growled, feeling slightly reckless all of a sudden as I thought of a couple of hexes I could use on him.

“Oh please,” he laughed, his voice charged with pure arrogance, “Like I haven’t seen you staring at me and my family earlier. And then you follow me into the Forbidden Forest-”

“I didn’t follow you!” I shouted at him, infuriated by his insulting insinuations. Maybe there had been a string of awkward coincidences, but that didn’t give him the right to call me a stalker. “I told you, I was meeting someone!”

James only looked at me, somewhat exasperatedly. “How come you’re alone then?”

Admittedly, that stole my thunder for a moment. Lying wasn’t my forte and making up new things as I went along usually never ended well. But I couldn’t just admit defeat. I couldn’t let Potter walk away, thinking that I was some sad, obsessed fan-girl, salvaging his tissues from the bin.

“Thank god, I found you!”

Potter and I both turned towards the Forest immediately, staring at the figure that had stumbled out of the thicket, looking slightly harassed.

“Asher?” I said, barely able to hide my astonishment. There was a light scratch on his cheek and his crisp, blue button-down was now rumpled and dirty. “What-?”

“I tried to find you,” he panted, wiping a few beads of sweat from his forehead. “I thought you shouldn’t be in there alone, so-”

I only stared at him for a moment, too perplexed to answer. Had he really followed me, just to make sure I was alright?

“That was really-” I had wanted to say ‘nice’, but, remembering that Potter was watching the scene, I simply wrapped my arm around Asher’s, who looked mildly befuddled, and wiped some dirt off his cheek.

“Are you alright?” I said softly, making sure Potter could hear every word.

“Oh, um, yeah. Sure.” Asher looked at me with a mixture of wonder and disbelieve.

“Good. Let’s go.” I pushed him softly to make him move and, with one last smug look at Potter, I turned around and left with Asher.

 

**

 

The pavilion, with all its furniture, wooden floors and chandeliers, had vanished within seconds, leaving only a blank square of flat grass. The party wasn’t over yet, but I had never expected my family to stay the night; this wasn’t exactly their thing.

            “So, I will write to you,” Asher said with an earnest expression on his face and I blushed instantly. Now that my irritation with Potter had faded away again, I couldn’t believe I had actually used Asher to show him up. This wasn’t like me at all.

            “Oh, um, yeah. Okay,” I said hesitantly, not sure what else to tell him. After all, it had been nice of him to come looking for me, and I couldn’t help wondering if maybe I had judged him too quickly.

            “Great.” Asher smiled. “I hope I will see you again soon.”

            “Yes – er – great.” I stammered, having no idea what else to say. Luckily, Asher seemed to be quite satisfied with this answer and, after an awkward handshake, he made his way over to where my father and grandfather stood.

            “It was good to see you,” my mother said softly, placing a hand on my cheek as she examined my face. I simply nodded and gave her a small but genuine smile. Spending the day with my family had been thoroughly exhausting, but at the end of the day they were still my family and, no matter what I always said to the contrary, I loved them.

            “Take care, will you?” Mum placed a kiss on my forehead. “And do write sometimes.”

            “I will,” I assured her, feeling slightly bad for the awkward two-liners I had been sending to her. Maybe I would make them a little longer.

“Ready?” My Father called out as everybody had gathered around him, holding on to the copper pot –one of the special portkeys that had been created solely for the Quidditch Kick-Off – and almost immediately they spun out of sight, disappearing into the night.

“At least that is over.”

            I hadn’t even noticed that Vala had been standing behind me, until she had spoken. She seemed to shiver slightly in her flimsy dress but judging by her otherwise stable stance the effects of the Champagne must have been wearing off.

            “I thought you loved being a Woodley,” I said as we both continued to stare into the darkness where our family had just vanished mere seconds ago.

            “Well, I’m not really a Woodley, am I?” She answered after a while, obviously referring to the fact that she wasn’t actually carrying the name. “You are, though.”

            “On paper maybe,” I sighed, rubbing my sore neck. It really was time I got into bed.

            “You are a Woodley,” Vala said softly, “more than you know.”

            I turned to look at her, not sure what on earth she was talking about. Maybe she was still drunk after all. There really was no other explanation.


            “Goodnight, cousin,” she said, sounding weary, and, with a tiny nod of her head, she simply turned around and walked away towards what looked like the hub of the party.







 

A/N: Dear reader, thank you for sticking with this story until now! I would really absolutely totally LOVE to hear your thoughts, feeling, complaints, opinions, etc. Getting feedback on this story is one of the best parts of my day (I swear, that’s totally not as sad as it sounds...) and I can barely wait to hear what you have to say! So cookies, unicorns and rainbows to all you wonderful people who take the time to review or comment :)


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