Chapter 1 : The Girl's Guide to Boys
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I've fallen into the trap of fluff, so I'm just going to go ahead and write it, to see how this fic works out.
The girl's guide to boys
It was during the first week back that they finally asked me. September brought the Hogwarts Express to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, as always, and as the month stretched on I found that all the girls were looking at me expectantly. That was the day that I finally understood what they wanted from me, what they always wanted from me. And stupidly, I agreed, although at the time, it seemed like a good idea.
"Morning, Farla," one girl smiled, beaming at me as she passed. I raised an eyebrow but responded with nothing. After all, my father always told me not to talk to strangers. Therefore, I ignored them. Continuing on my way, my night-dress swept across the floor to gather dust, and I pulled on my dressing-gown, sweeping it over my shoulders and releasing a contented sigh, feeling the sunlight dazzle across my face in an early morning welcoming.
I wouldn't exactly say that I was popular. No, I hung around with those who were popular, like Victoire Weasley and sometimes, little Rose Weasley came to join us, but I was a Gryffindor through and through, and it was during days in which the word "popular" wasn't even considered. Here in England, we have our little "elite" of Hogwarts, although the group is expansive and therefore I can firmly state that we were all equal, in a way, if our looks fit the purpose and we got high grades in class. I admit, I had my downfalls, but who concentrates on them when you're the biggest renowned nobody in school? I know what you're thinking - how can you be one of the elite when you're not even well known? Well, perhaps I was one of the lesser faces of the crowd. I suppose that was why I was chosen. Always quiet, yet brimming with a shining array of confidence. That was me, Farla Finnigan, daughter of Lavender and Seamus Finnigan.
I stepped into the shower, feeling the warming rush of heat drench over my body, already coating the shower wall in a fresh jet of steam as I sighed and began to run my hands and fingers through my long hair. Plain brown, occasionally referred to as sandy, or sometimes people claimed they saw the old silken strand glint gold in the sun. I didn't believe them. My hair was just brown to me, and that was it, nothing more. Brown, maroon, walnut, whatever. Its just hair, isn't it?
I rubbed strawberry shampoo through this so called hair, relishing the taste of the scent as the fragrance lingered for a while on the air, the white-pink foam fading away as it reached the plug hole and gurgling as I paused the shower and reached for the conditioner. It was at this exact point that I recalled I had not completely drained the shampoo from my hair, for a great big drip of it released from my fringe and blurred into my eyes. I let out a light whine and stepped backwards, only to slip over a thick bar of soap and shriek loudly with dismay, landing heavily on my buttocks with an over-large crash.
"Farla? You ok?" called an anxious voice from a dorm mate passing by the room. I paused, lifted one wet, soapy hand to brush the shampoo from my eyes and winced. I sat up a little straighter and glanced in the direction of the door, pausing momentarily before loading on the conditioner.
"Oh er, yeah - fine. Just dropped something, that's all."
"Must have been something heavy," sniggered another voice, someone I immediately recognised as Victoire Weasley, the most beautiful girl in the school. Rumour has it, her mother is half-vela. "Piling on the pounds recently, Fa?"
My face burned red, despite the fact that the girls could not see me, and I sat up furiously, getting awkwardly to my feet and massaging my rather bruised bum. "Um, yeah," I responded back, hardly caring as I hastily switched on the shower and began to hum loudly. "Sorry, I don't think I quite heard you!"
Stepping out into rich, warm soft towels, I dried myself hastily before pulling on my usual school uniform. Plain, grey pleated skirt, long matching grey socks, a crisp white shirt, Gryffindor tie, over which went a sweater and a pair of robes. I was just slipping into my shoes when a voice sounded and a fist rattled on the door, demanding that I hurried up. I always forgot that other people liked to use the shower in the morning. I'm selfish like that.
I wandered out of the steaming bathroom and back into my dormitory, the temperature immediately dropping, the air rising to a stinging cold before dropping away again into nothing. Other girls were almost ready, preparing to go down to breakfast. In the far corner was Ellen Morby, her face slightly flushed as always and her blonde ringlets spilling over her cheeks and coming to a rest on her shoulders. There was piece of homework inside her hands - obviously she was just giving it a last glimpse for perfection before handing it in this morning. She's a bit of a swot like that, although I can hardly blame her. Her parents were all Gryffindors and have high expectations. Further on was Hannah Thomas, brushing thick, dark hair, her olive-dark skin always causing me to cringe in envy at its sheer smoothness. Her large almond eyes turned to greet me with a smile as I hurried on past, still clutching one hand towel over my arm and using it to dry off my hair.
Victoire, as usual, was hogging the mirror. No one ever dared to push her away from it. I think it was mainly because all of us tended to look on in awe as the small drifts of light from the window struck her silvery pale hair to a gleaming sheet of gold. Her blue eyes blinked slowly and she curved her lips into a smile, applying the last of the gloss before stepping back and admiring herself dutifully. There was a piece of fabric across her hair, forming a hair band, and it brought out the detail in her eyes. Blue looked good on her and she knew it. Spinning a light twirl, the girl observed us all and began to talk as she walked over to her wardrobe. I, as usual, sought for a brush inside my room before lying upon my stomach on the bed, swinging my legs up lightly in the air and opening up my diary with a light smile.
"Teddy Lupin," the girl began, her warm, clear voice ringing throughout the dormitory and silencing all five of us immediately. Mary blinked open her big, bleary eyes and stared at Victoire enviously, more than likely envying the girl her looks, perhaps not her bright personality, but digging back beneath her bed no sooner that Victoire spoke again, searching for her school books and rubbing silently at her chubby cheeks. "Another whole Summer of friendship, and yet still, I'm no closer to him."
Amy narrowed her eyes, tying her shoelaces and sweeping back a loose strand of hair. I like Amy. She's a fantastic beater for the Quidditch team, and very down to earth. She and I talk a lot. I'm the one people tend to come to for advice, and Amy . . . Well, Amy's just a load of good fun. "What makes you think that? Maybe he's just waiting to make the right move."
Victoire rolled her eyes exaggeratedly before sitting down with a "hmph" on the bed. I watched her closely, eyeing the small crease in her skirt that was by far shorter than mine, which my parents insisted should reach an inch over the knee, and the top button of the girl's shirt was left open. She rested her head against her hands and picked up a quill, dropping her hands once more to twirl it thoughtfully between her fingers. "That's just the thing. I thought that maybe he was, but there's been so many chances. There was the day when we went down to the river and I watched him almost all day fishing. I was completing my homework and he was busy gutting cod and then . . ." she broke off and shrugged. "I just don't know what on earth I'm supposed to do."
I dipped my head back down to my diary and scribbled furiously. I know itís only a week in back to Hogwarts, but I should have been expecting this discussion. Victoire isn't one to wait around for a boy, but when it comes to Teddy, she'd weak at the knees. I think we all are. Itís not like Victoire hasn't had a boyfriend before, because always, she has. But in reality, she always waits for Teddy Lupin. She's tried so hard to reach for Teddy's attention since the day she hit puberty, that now she's most certainly beginning to think its a waste of time. I admit, I'm rather surprised the boy is so oblivious, also. I mean, he and Victoire used to be inseparable. There's hardly a day that goes by when they donít neglect to stop and talk in the corridors. They grew up as friends, and remained so throughout Hogwarts. Yet Teddy's more of a boy to keep to himself. Oh sure, he has friends, but I just . . . I don't know quite how to describe him. He's different from everyone else. Quieter, and strange. I think I'd say he was handsome, if I gave him a closer look, but I haven't, because that's just not the way I am. I'm not boy-crazy like the others. I'm the one who helps pick up the pieces after a break-up.
I know it all sound incredibly clichť, but that's just me. Farla Finnigan. As dull as the name.
"Give him time," offered Hannah, running a tired hand through her hair. She too, is obviously sick of this conversation. "He'll come around when he needs to. And itís not like he's shown an interest in anyone else. I mean, do you see him with a girlfriend? Or a boyfriend for that matter. No, he's entirely single. I don't see what the problem is."
"The problem is," Victoire stressed, her jaw forming into a grimace that more than likely did not suit her, "that I don't want to give him time. I've given him all the time in the world and this is his last year at Hogwarts. What if he goes off and finds a job, then meets some girl and . . .?" She trailed off, leaving the question unanswered. She bit her lip and for a small amount of time was silent. "I can't stand to see him with someone else, and one day I think I could fall in love with him. Out of all the boys inside Hogwarts, he's the only one that deserves me, and I think that deep down, I deserve him. I can imagine spending the rest of our lives together. I've even designed the wedding dress -"
"Woah, girlie!" Hannah held up her hand, to which point Mary had crawled out from out of the bed and was passing Victoire a wide-eyed look. "You don't want to sound obsessed, do you?" We all passed Victoire a sympathising look, and I gave up writing my diary and snuck it quietly under my pilllow.
"Maybe you just need to find out what sort of stuff he likes," Mary volunteered, a small voice taking us all by surprise as she sat up a little straighter and brushed away the dust from her robes. "All boys like a girl who can understand them."
The others remained silent to this observation, and a clatter rang throughout the room as Ellen heavily dropped her book. It clattered to the floor and I winced at the damage that had probably been done. She quickly retrieved it and used it once more as a leaning volume to concentrate on correcting her homework. I walked over to the vacated mirror, glad to finally have a chance at it and take a peek at myself whilst Victoire was distracted.
"How am I supposed to do that?" Victoire enquired, her voice precarious at a loss for hope, her shoulders sinking lower and lower with defeat. I continued to run the brush through my dark hair before uttering a heating spell, watching it all dry off and scowling as it appeared coarse and not smooth, jealously throwing Victoire a bitter look as she tossed her smooth cascade over one shoulder. "I've known him for longer than anyone here at Hogwarts, perhaps with the exception of the Potters. And if I don't know him, and the Potters would be some form of incest if Rose even chanced a second glance at him, then what chance has anyone got if he simply won't let them in?!"
Those last words she enforced by slamming her fist down on her duvet, simply at a loss for what to do. Amy drew a slight breath, but said nothing. When someone did finally speak, it was once again Mary, for the second time that morning.
"What if you ask someone to go in undercover for you? Act as his friend, perhaps someone else with more of an interest in him, and then write a book about boys, and what they want from girls. Obviously, we need to understand them, and therefore we need someone unsuspicious. Someone without any cunning intentions, who can slowly get to know the mind of Teddy Lupin."
A silence hung throughout the room, and cautiously I continued to brush my hair. It wasn't before long however, that I felt the five pairs of predatory eyes burning intently into my back. It was then that I paled, slowly turning and eyeing them all with a gasp of horror.
"No!" I protested weakly, a tone of voice which they quickly seized upon, Victoire getting up from her bed and making her way towards me, leaning against Amy's bedpost with her arms folded across her chest and her attention complete. I felt my cheeks begin to burn with hot flaming fire. Surely, they couldn't be serious? My eyes slipped from Victoire to Amy, from Amy to Hannah, from Hannah to a keenly nodding Mary, and finally from Mary to Ellen, who seemed to be oblivious as to what was going on and was adding the final figures and conclusion to her Arithmancy essay. "I can't," I added helplessly. "I'm, well, me. He'd never fall for it."
"Oh, but Farla! You're perfect. No one would suspect you!" Amy nodded enthusiastically, her high ponytail bobbing.
"And there's no way he would ever fall in love with you," added Victoire, more of an assertion to herself than as a reminder to the rest of us. I almost felt myself scowl, but it was driven away by the sheer horror of the situation as Amy plunged on.
"It would be so helpful! I need advice on how to get the boyfriend I've been dreaming of for so long, and to do so I need to make sure I know what he wants from me." We all knew about Amy and the Gryffindor Keeper and Captain of the Gryffindor team she had been crushing on for the past two years. There was little point in going to further detail there - it was no secret.
"Gavin always needs to be reigned into gear every so often," agreed Hannah as she considered her own boyfriend, the Hufflepuff Prefect. "I never quite understand what's going on inside his head. There must be some kind of boy code or something. Farla - you could find out!"
I was viciously shaking my head when little Mary's voice piqued up. Her face tinged red as she spoke, yet there was a shy smile working its way across her round features and her eyes glistened with mirth. "Even I could do with some tips on flirting techniques. Artuan Morgan is head of the chess club . . ."
The others erupted into a series of giggles, and even I couldn't help but tilt a smile. But the pressing matter of the situation, and the fact that so many people were seemingly begging for me to say yes sort of crushed me slightly. I bit my lip and turned away from the hopeful faces once again, running my brush slowly through my hair, yet this time contemplating each and every flaw of the situation. I was surprised by how many there were.
"Farla?" Amy prodded hopefully, and I turned to meet her eye. A sigh slipped from my lips and I shook my head slowly.
"No, sorry, I can't. Itís just not right. Furthermore, itís just not me." And with that, I marched out of the dormitory, to an orchestra of disappointed sighs, yet I was firm with the choice I had made. There was no way anyone was changing my mind.
At breakfast, I was searching for more ways of which for why this plan was completely foolish, and overall, a bad idea. For one thing, Teddy Lupin was out of my reach. I didn't know him, had barely spoken to him, and more than certainly didn't have the confidence to approach him. He was a quiet, thoughtful boy, always keeping to himself and there was no way in hell he would let a stranger like me into his life. And what if the so called "secretive" Teddy was a person I didn't want to get to know? I mean, we all have our bad sides, don't we? I've read those romances where a girl stumbles into love blindly, only to find that the man she loves is some kind of illegal trader in the Wizarding World, or an Order member of the past ready to risk his life for the good of the English public against that old war-time horror, Voldemort. So, the reason Teddy is so silent is probably because he's a serial killer. I know deep down that I'm being melodramatic and simply fooling myself, but still, that's me, isn't it? Ever the dreamer.
Another reason, I added to my ever-searching mind as I bit hungrily into my toast, was the fact that Teddy was rarely seen at any state of meal time. Nobody knew where he went - maybe he trekked down to the kitchens, but all in all, I was not prepared to give up my breakfast. I took a deep breath and washed the last of my toast down with some tea, before brushing away the crumbs and tightening the band in my hair. Amy was passing me a side-long look, one that firmly and unabashedly stated "You know you want to", but I quickly shook my head.
"Its a bad idea."
The next lesson was Potions, a whole double class of it. I wasn't much interested. I'm not the kind of person who receives over-achieving grades, but my parents don't much mind on the matter. Of course, they'd be happier if I did better, but they know more than anything that they weren't much better in their times at Hogwarts. We're a pretty average family.
"Go on, Farla," Hannah whispered into my ear as she passed me on the way to the ingredients cupboard, a place of which where I was attempting to choose the best-looking frog eyeballs. "You know itís for the good of all of us. Of all female kind."
"No," I stated somewhat firmly. "No good can come of it."
Yet my mind was edging a betrayal upon my common sense, preying on my naivety and whispering that maybe, it wasn't so bad after all. For example, I'd get to be friends with Victoire Weasley, and perhaps we might go for the odd butterbeer every now and then at Hogsmeade. I might be a Gryffindor Prefect, but that does not mean, by any chance, that I am good at it. My conscience nibbled away, but my hopefulness gnawed back.
At break time I was munching my way through an apple, the juice dribbling down my chin, when Mary dropped by, dumping her short form into the bench beside me. There was a bud of wool inside her hands, yet the knitting needles were not moving. Her eyes stared in a vacant expression across the courtyard, and wiping my chin on the back of my hand I followed her gaze, finding the very young man she had considered just earlier this morning. Artuan was toying with a Fanged Frisbee between his hands, propped up against the wall with his head leaning into it. A smaller boy, perhaps three or four years younger, seemed to be chatting about strategies, but Aruan wasn't listening. His eyes were glued upon nothing, and I found that actually, he was quite good looking. One more glance towards Mary and I bit my lip guiltily. She passed me a round-eyed glance and I slowly shook my head.
"I'm sorry, Mary. I just can't."
My denials seemed to be getting weaker and weaker.
All through Transfiguration, I attempted transforming the small bluebottle fly into a pretty turquoise and sapphire hair-slide. Yet a full hour later, I found I still could not do it. Victoire sauntered up to me, a lingering smile was etched upon her face. She waved her wand and in that single flick, the magic worked and animate switched to inanimate. I stared at it in wonder before moving my gaze up to meet Victoire's. She sent me a dazzling smile and placed the trinket inside my hand. Slowly, I began to shake my head.
"I don't know. It seems awfully wrong."
By evening, I was thoroughly confused. The others talked excitedly over dinner, but I found my mouth remained dry and no matter how much water I consumed, I couldn't bring myself to eat the mashed potato to follow after it. Two cups of tea and half a bowl of self-forced vanilla ice-cream later, I was up in the common room of the Gryffindor tower, my eyes buried firmly into a book and the fire snapping merrily in front of me. To my left, the window opened vastly to a stretch of open gold sky, the September sun sinking in blood red rays below the horizon as my heart went down with it. I could not concentrate on my homework. Somehow, I was torn.
It was at that point that Victoire, Amy, Hannah and Mary all plonked themselves down near me, Amy squashing up to fit in the sofa besides me and throwing one merry arm around my shoulder. I raised my eyebrows and settled down my work on my lap, slowly giving up and releasing an acquiescent sigh. "But, what if he doesn't like me?" I attempted, my voice quiet and slowly trailing off.
"He will," Amy assured me, her face lop-siding into a smile. "You like your fantasy novels. Well, so does he. Talk to him about them. Besides, you're the libaray assistant. Where could you go wrong?"
"Where couldn't I?" I grumbled darkly, glowering into the fire as if it were all the flames fault. "And what if he finds out?"
"How could he?" Victoire rolled her bright eyes. Her voice dropped in the light pressure of a warning. "Unless you told him."
"Of course I wouldn't," I protested vehemently, knowing more than ever that I was not a snitch. "My conscience . . .well, this isn't moral, is it?"
"What is?" Hannah chuckled. "This will be for the good of all girls. Maybe you'll discover what goes on inside the mind of a boy, and instead of writing that diary, Finnigan, you could write it all down. It would stop you from wasting time delving on your own thoughts. You'll be saving broken hearts of the female kind."
Slightly hesitant, I took in a breath and bit down on my lip, hard. I knew I would never stop writing my diary. "But, what if I just muck this whole thing up and disappoint you all?"
"Then at least you'll have tried," concluded Mary, having spoken more to me than she usually did in a week. "I for one, won't blame you." The others nodded and I dropped my head into my hands.
I think it was Mary who finally made up my mind for me. The way in which she had looked at that boy earlier today, with such longing shining inside her eyes, made me both pity her and yet feel a surge of determination at the same time. If anyone deserved love, then it was Mary. A kind, warm-hearted girl, she constantly seemed to receive the bad end in life. Slowly, I glanced up, and before I could stop myself, I began nodding.
"Alright," I stated, my heart beginning to thud. "I'll do it. I'll try and understand Teddy Lupin."
The others jumped up, shrieking and squealing. Yet it was Mary's grateful, soulful look that made me feel better than ever, like for once in my life, I was really doing something selfless and good.
Oh, how awfully wrong I could be.
And thus, the girl's guide towards boys began.
Author's Note: So there we have the first chapter. I'll be updating again, asap, and I hope this chapter sets up a good start and idea for what the rest of the story will be like. I like Farla because she's a bit stupid and the irony is, she has no idea when it comes to boys.
Review - I'll love you for it. ^_^ It's always good to see what you all think.