Chapter 2 : Chapter Two
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It was a small little book. When I say little, I mean light. It looked as if it were covered in a coat of sugar dust, for it sparkled and gleamed in the sunlight, with little ribbons illustrating the spine and intricate, pearly white writing forming "The girl's guide towards boys, and how to separate them from the irrepressible jerks". A long title, I know, and the book was sickly sweet, but it was Victoire and Hannah who came up with it, and who was I to refuse? It was just a book, after all.
It began with the swirl of my quill, delicate black ink spidering across the lavender scented page, my name, the date and the plan that was to go ahead.
Boys in general are completely uncomprehending to what a girl wants out of them. We females are not those of which whom desire to be bragged about being a good snog to the rest of the opposite gender of the school, or indeed those females who might be interested. No, as a sensitive group when it comes to dealing with relationships, we expect boys to treat us right. But then, what could they possibly expect from us? To clarify such an enquiry, I, Farla Finnigan, am going undercover, to develop a girl's guide towards boys of all nature. Thus, my mission begins.
That very morning, I had a swarm of girls around me. Victoire was hurriedly making suggestions upon my hair, Mary nodding eagerly and offering her quiet encouragement, Amy desperately stating that I could calm down, that everything would be alright, and Hannah hurriedly pointing out that my skirt was tucked into my knickers. Lovely. It was only a minute or so before I thought I could stand it no longer, and Ellen glanced up from making her bed and sent us all a dark scowl.
"Could you and your gaggle of girls perhaps take it upon yourself to shut up?" she glowered at me impolitely. "You're all giving me a headache."
"Oh, don't mind her," snapped Hannah, applying the last of her blusher. "She's just moody because her boyfriend dumped her yesterday."
As the others plunged into a steadily heated argument, my mind drifted. It wasn't the fact that I was pleased that such a fuss was going on about me, it was more of the fact that Ellen had named the group my "gaggle", whatever that meant. It sounded, well I don't know . . . It sounded kind of cool. Like I was one of the highest in the elite or something, rising to take Victoire's place. She seemed to realise this however, for she issued out a shriek and dropped her nail-varnish to the floor, something of which caused the others to jump back and rebuke her angrily as some smudged on their shoes. I used "scougify" to remove the essence from my socks and quickly began to tie my shoelaces, before leaving the dormitory behind and stepping out into the common room.
Teddy Lupin glanced up from a book, his hazel-grey eyes catching mine and causing me to blush briefly. I ducked my head and continued down the slowly descending stairs, pausing for a moment or two in the hope of encouraging myself to simply approach the boy. His soft features were darkened by the shadows of the room and there was a lightness to his hair that had not been there before. Usually, it was rich and dark, and his face was slightly pale, but other than that I noticed nothing about him, save that he was sitting silently in his favourite armchair, placed in the very corner of the room, his eyes buried in a book, although he didn't really seem to be reading it. I parted my lips and opened my mouth to greet him, but a storm of noise issued from behind me, the other girls on my trail, and at this sound the boy startled and got up seemingly wearily, leaving the room, the echoes of the slamming door astounding me.
"Farla, you can't seriously be thinking of going out with your hair like that?" Hannah exclaimed, giving me a dark look. I turned to her and touched my hair apprehensively.
"What's wrong with it?"
"What's right with it would be a good start!" snapped Victoire.
I'd never really bothered much about my hair. To me, well that was it - just hair. Sure, I washed in to be hygienic, so it was always sweet-scented and clean, but when it came to drying it that was it. A brush and a wand were all that were needed. I knew for one thing that Victoire used a dozen smoothing potions and gleaming textures, but that just wasn't something I would feel comfortable doing. Of course, the girl's hair looked nice, but for me - I was just a librarian assistant, another student of the school. Glamorous and me didn't walk together hand in hand. Still, running my hands through soft hair now, I found that the light curls were a little disarrayed and the brown a little dull, but so what? It was my hair and that was the way I kept it.
"And your clothes. Farla, you are so old fashioned!" added Hannah, seemingly agreeing full-heartedly with Victoire. Amy opened her mouth and took other, shooing the others away.
"Oh, leave her alone, you two. Isn't it enough that she's agreed to do this? Stop pressuring her into being who she's not."
"But -" began Victoire, just as Hannah added in an "I -"
Amy shook her head at them and cut them off with a scowl, patting my back and leading me out of the common room. "You just take this at your pace, and how you like. Don't let them bully you into anything. And remember, if at any time you want to drop out . . ."
I nodded thankfully. "Thanks, Amy. I'll make sure I say so."
And so I left them, that morning at eight thirty, nearing nine 0' clock, and headed out of the common room, skipping breakfast, despite the warming smells of freshly cooked bread that gathered in the hallways as if to lure me in. My stomach ached from hunger but I had an apple in my bag. Shifting my satchel further over my shoulder, I glanced down at my clothes - a tartan skirt that stopped just below my knees, a cotton shirt decorated in light splashes of lavender hue, along with a white woollen cardigan and my hair pulled back into a bun. I was comfortable as me, my socks long and my laces slowly becoming untied as I walked, yet what the girls had said earlier caused me to feel more self-conscious than ever. Maybe they were right. I probably needed a change of wardrobe, as well as forcing myself to make more effort on my appearance, yet still the very energy of that thought seemed to drain the desire away.
I crunched on my apple as I crossed the courtyard and took the several flights of stairs up to the higher floors. By the time I reached the library, the shadows had mingled with the sun and I had finished the piece of fruit in my hand, flesh, core, pips and all, until there was just a narrow stalk left. I used it as a tooth-pick to make sure my teeth were perfectly clean, before running my tongue across them and tossing it away to the side. My shoes were heavy-sounding on the stone flagged floor, so that portraits glared at me in a disgruntled manner, but they soon tired of that and anyway, I ignored them.
"Morning, Madam Pince," I greeted the woman, remembering ever as I saw her that my friends nicknamed her "Ponce", because of her stuffy, arrogant attitude and quick short temper. "How are you this morning?"
Generally, I liked the woman. She was nice enough to me, and although occasionally she had the odd tantrum over a speck of dust I'd missed in passing, I liked to think that we got on quite well together.
"Fine, thank you, Farla," she offered me a stiff smile, leaning on her desk in which she was filing several papers. "Keep an eye out for trouble-makers today. I'm sure the library will be flooded with wasteful students in the next hour or so."
Personally, I didn't believe it, but I nodded along to her anyway. I knew that this afternoon offered Quidditch practice, and that most of the students would rather be outside that in the clammy, hot, stuffy library. Nonetheless, I placed my satchel down inside the store cupboard and set to work immediately, finding the newest order of thick heavy volumes, aromatic, some in old age and others in new crisp freshness, and began to arrange them in the correct place on the shelves. The sunlight streamed in, fresh as September gold through the long stretch of windows, and I was occupied for the next couple of hours doing just this job. At eleven thirty, Madam Pince was kind enough to offer me in a sharing of tea, and we sat inside the crammed little store cupboard, myself parking my backside on a wooden box, Madam Pince finding the only broken down chair within the room. By the time I had sipped the last of my tea and Madam Pince had finished her usual rant about students, I slipped out of the room and got back to work.
True enough, the House Elves were the ones to clean the library, but for some reason or other Pince never much liked the things, stating that she did not trust them, and so I was the one left to do the dusting and what not. It was when I reached the little row of study desks piled into a secluded corner that I spotted a flit of movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a spider. I jumped back, screamed and dropped both duster and wand, attempting in vain to crawl under a table and out of sight.
"A-are you ok?" offered a quiet, deep voice, and I lifted my head from where I lay sprawled on the ground, propped up on my elbows and staring into the most gorgeous warm eyes I did ever see. A light smile played at the older boy's lips, although his brow was creased into a light frown, and he was eyeing me with both confusion and concern. I realised in that moment that this was Teddy Lupin, and he likely thought me mad.
"I-I-I'm fine," I stuttered, sitting up sharply and resulting in banging my head hard on the wooden table above. I winced and he did also, and I quickly raised my fingers to massage my injured head. There would probably be a nice round purple lump there tomorrow. Oh, perfect. I climbed awkwardly to my feet, my nose just reaching the boy's chest, and decided automatically that I seriously needed to grow. "Just, well, I slipped, that's all."
I nodded and my eyes travelled towards the spider. His eyes followed mine and found the arachnid, sitting there with its belly bulging and three spiders caught in its web. He smiled lightly at the reason for my timid manner, and automatically stepped forward to poke at the web. His finger prodded and the silken web jerked, causing the legs of the spider to move quickly and for me to scream once again, jumping back and hitting my bum on the table. This caused an angry shout from Madam Pince, to which I hastily excused myself with a cry of, "I'm alright! Just fell over, that's all. Nothing damaged, I assure you."
She grumbled about something that could have been a complaint of the noise, but she didn't round the corner and therefore, Teddy and I exchanged an amused smile. Still, a shudder of recoil leapt down my back and I released a rather shaky sigh.
"I don't know how you can even stand to go near those things. They disgust me."
His frown increased and he turned to look at me, hands buried into pockets and sitting down on the table where I had accidentally parked myself. "Why do they disgust you?"
"Because they're so, well, so weird! They suck blood and consume it as their natural source of diet, and they have too many legs, move too fast and . . ." I trailed off with a shrug. "Well, I just don't understand them, that's all. They don't seem normal."
A small flash of regret passed his eyes, but whether I had imagined it or not, I did not know. His face was pale from this angle but undeniably handsome, although I wouldn't dare to touch him for fear of the hurt it would cause Victoire. It was only at this moment that I realised I was talking to a boy, and that I wasn't stuttering my way through sentences. It was quite an achievement, really.
"Isn't normal boring, though?" he enquired softly. "I like these creatures because I find them fascinating. So many people hate them and yet they're just doing what they have to in order to survive." He shrugged and I chewed my lip, thinking carefully upon what he had said. He turned to me with a warming smile, something in which I automatically returned. "I'm Teddy, by the way."
I nodded swiftly and without hesitation. "I know. I mean, I've seen you before. You're in seventh year, and in my house. I'm Farla Finnigan. I know, boring name."
"Not boring," he mused. "Interesting. I've heard about your mum and dad though. My god father talks about them a lot."
"R-really?" This news took me by surprise.
"Yeah. I think they used to all be in Gryffindor as kids. Ah well," he stood up and rubbed at a crease in his trousers. "I better go. I only came in here to find a book, and I haven't had much luck at it."
"Oh," I paused briefly for a while, and then continued, "I'll help you, if you like. I know this library inside out."
He agreed, and we spent the next couple of minutes searching for an old Defence Against the Dark Arts book we'd studied in third year. I didn't bother asking him why he wanted it - for one thing, it was none of my business, and for another well, I suppose I guessed. In third year we studied all sorts of exciting things - vampires, werewolves, even the situation of giants and where they were formed. It was all very interesting, although I don't think I'd find myself ever wanting to read it again. Before he left the library, I stamped his book to sign it out and offered him a warm smile, something of which he returned, before I glanced thoughtfully at his back as he moved to stride away.
"Farla?" called Madam Pince, her voice a ringing shriek in my ears after the softness of Teddy's. "Have you finished piling up those books yet?"
- - - -
I managed to escape just as it rounded up to lunchtime. I'd done my duty, and would receive two galleons in return. It wasn't much, but I enjoyed earning my own wages, something I would save up for Christmas shopping in Hogsmeade later on in the year. Outside, the air was clear and cool, with a dazzle of sunshine rinsing the cobbled courtyard to gold. I found my way to the Great Hall, grabbed a sandwich and another apple, taking out a goblet of water with me before making my way heartily to the Quidditch pitch. I knew that there was probably only another fifteen minutes before practice was over, but that didn't stop me from wanting to watch. I found a seat alone and began to eat my lunch, eyes turned upwards to observe the Gryffindor team as they swooped and dived towards the goal.
There were a couple of Slytherins there, likely hanging around to try and study our techniques, and I caught sight of one of them being the pale haired, pallid face of Scorpius Malfoy, but I didn't pay much attention to him. He had never really bothered me in the past and therefore I had never cared. After all, he was a good deal younger than me and just a child wanting to follow in his father's footsteps.
"Farla!" Amy greeted me as she brought her broomstick to a halt on the ground and made her way towards me from across the pitch. She was waving her arms frantically about and I offered her a sip of my water. She threw it all back, dribbles of the liquid sliding down her neck and chin, colliding with the beads of sweat that lingered there. I raised my eyebrows at her and she grinned, handing me the goblet back, and I stared at its emptiness for a long while before biting in mournfully to my apple.
"Good practice," I commented, wiping my mouth on the back of my hand and tilting my head towards her with interest. "How are things with the Quidditch Captain?"
She sighed at this, her warming grin slipping away as her eyes strayed to follow the retreat of the tall, broad shouldered Keeper as he made his way to the changing rooms. She glanced back at me and shrugged with a sigh. "Same old, I suppose. He still just considers me as a team mate. Good, but not nearly half as good as him."
"I'm sure he'll start talking to you soon enough and come to realise how fantastic you really are," I assured her with a sympathetic smile. I had never had a crush on anyone before, especially not like Amy and Tom Welding, so I suppose I couldn't really know what it was like. Who was I to give out advice when I hadn't a clue? "Oh," I added, suddenly remembering. "I talked to Teddy today."
"Really?" encouraged Amy excitedly, glancing at me with wonder and excitement. "You move fast. How did it go?"
I shrugged and rested my head in my hands, finishing off my apple. Amy gave me a look as I swallowed the core that said "That's disgusting, you know", but I ignored her and swallowed. "Fine. I think. I mean, aside from the fact that I fell over and hit my head on the table and had to scream over the mere presence of a spider, I suppose it went ok."
Amy sighed dreamily. "You mean he came to your rescue?"
I grimaced. "Not so much "rescue". He just pointed out that spiders weren't so bad, poked it a little and then I offered to help him find the book he was looking for."
Amy wrinkled her nose disdainfully. "Nice."
Still, later on that day I found myself scribbling down the events in first the guide book, and then my diary. The diary was always the one I kept for the sincerest feelings, and knowing that others would read the guide book afterwards, I tried to keep it brief. However, all know that I could never keep anything short, and therefore it ended up as a longwinded tale, with advice on how to talk to boys and act casually, even after falling over and acting like a complete idiot, and how to gain their interest by displaying intelligence in a pacific area. For me, it was bragging my knowledge of book. For any other girl, they could have talked about Quidditch and offered to teach Teddy to fly, or reflected third year and the homework grades they achieved, or even talked about the weather, thus leading to Astronomy. I confess, that in closing the book that evening, I felt very impressed with myself. A slow grin was working its way across my face, and for one I thought, I can do this! I, Farla Finnigan, could actually learn how to capture the interest of a boy, and on route teach girls how to treat them, all for the best of the female kind.
I grinned and my head hit the pillow almost heavily, a dreamy sigh escaping my lips as I slipped the book comfortably beneath the pillow. That night I dreamt of sunshine and stars, all promising gleams of hope that seemed to be heading my way.
Author's Note: Heh, so I'm absolutely rubbish at her entires to the book, but what the hell, hopefully I'll improve. So erm, review . . . ? *looks on hopefully* ^_^
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