The weeks passed. Angel got better and better in Potions, until she (aside from Connor and Hermione) was achieving the best grades. Lavender was still jealous of Angel getting tutored, but she kept her feelings to herself.
Angel felt her attraction to Connor getting stronger. Who didn’t like him? He was good-looking, mysterious and quiet, and somehow managed to be charismatic at the same time.
One night, a few months after Angel’s first tutoring session, the two were sitting on the couch in front of the fire, studying a book that Connor had gotten from the Restricted Section of the library.
“Hey, Connor,” said a pretty black-haired girl as she sat next to him.
“Hello, Aimee,” said Connor; he leaned in and kissed her gently.
Angel raised her eyebrows but made no comment and continued to read. Finally she couldn’t stand the sight of the kissing and she cleared her throat loudly.
“Oops—sorry, Angel,” said Connor hastily, giving her a rather lopsided grin. “Aimee, meet my student, Angel Granger…Angel, meet my girlfriend, Aimee O’Keefe…”
“Nice to meet you, Aimee,” said Angel, shaking Aimee’s hand slowly. “Connor never told me he had a girlfriend…”
“He asked me out three months ago,” said Aimee proudly, “he said he’s had his eye on me since he came here.”
“Connor, I’m going to bed, I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” said Angel, getting up off the couch.
Connor chuckled. “Why? Aimee’s not going to bite you. She’s not a werewolf or anything.”
Angel was hurt by his laughter and the playfulness behind his blue eyes. “It’s not that! I’m just exhausted from…er…Quidditch practice. I’ll see you tomorrow evening.”
And with that, she darted up the steps that led to the girls’ dormitory. Only after she closed the door did she start to cry.
As Angel walked into the dormitory, she saw her twin sitting on Angel’s bed.
“Hey, Hermione,” said Angel softly.
“What happened?” said Hermione, noticing her younger sister’s tears.
“Connor has a girlfriend,” said Angel dully, “Aimee O’Keefe.”
Hermione gasped. “That can’t be!” she said. “I thought you and Connor were made for each other.”
“It’s true,” said Angel, wiping her tears away. “Besides, why would he like a Muggle-born?” she muttered. “He’s from Durmstrang, they’re only purebloods…”
“Connor’s different, though,” said Hermione, putting her arm around her sister.
“He won’t change his feelings, even if I was a pureblood, because Brandi’s one of my friends and her uncle betrayed Connor’s dad,” said Angel. She played with the corner of her blanket.
“Hmm…sounds like you need a bit of help from Ginny,” said Hermione. “I told her you like Connor. She offered to help you.”
“No way! Hermione—”
“I told her you’d be grateful,” said Hermione, a devilish smile on her face.
“Hermione! You know how I feel about her.”
“Get over the fact that she’s dating Harry, okay? Ginny’s fine.”
“Oh all right,” muttered Angel, “I’ll accept—”
“—as long as she helps with getting you and Ron together,” Angel finished, smiling slyly.
“I don’t like Ron like that!” said Hermione indignantly.
“Oh right, like you never set birds on him last year because he went out with Lavender,” said Angel, raising one eyebrow. “And who dated Cormac McLaggen to make him jealous? Moaning Myrtle?”
Hermione blushed. “Very funny,” she snapped, but she was smiling embarrassedly. “Let me go get Ginny and we’ll talk.”
“No, in Myrtle’s bathroom. Yes, downstairs. Connor’s bound to be in bed now.”
Muttering curses under her breath, Angel climbed off her bed and walked quietly out of the room.
Once she got down the staircase she stopped, her hand flying to her mouth in shock: Connor and Aimee were kissing by the fire.
“Angel?” said Hermione, running into her twin as she stopped. “Are you okay?”
Angel pointed at Connor and Aimee.
“Oh Merlin,” muttered Ginny, from behind Hermione. “And I thought Ron and Lavender were bad…”
“Ginny!” hissed Hermione.
Angel said nothing; her eyes remained focused on the pair.
“I’m going to be sick,” said Angel softly. She sighed. “It’s hopeless, all right? Completely hopeless.
“Jerk,” she added, under her breath. Although the comment wasn’t meant to be heard, it was: Connor pulled away and stared at the trio of girls standing at the base of the stairs.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, his voice flat.
“We were going to work on some homework, but seeing as the room’s already occupied, we better leave,” said Angel, shrugging.
“D’you mind doing that somewhere else?” said Ginny. “Like, in a bed? It’s really gross to see you two snogging each other senseless.”
“GINNY!” shouted Hermione.
“I wouldn’t mind,” said Aimee thoughtfully, looking at her boyfriend.
“How long have you been going out?” said Hermione.
“Three months,” said Connor.
“Awfully short time,” said Angel. “C’mon, Hermione, Ginny, we’d better leave the couple to their intimate time…”
“Yeah, we wouldn’t want to interrupt their festival,” Ginny said.
They ran up the staircase, letting the door slam shut. Then they pressed their ears against it.
“Extendables?” asked Ginny, holding out two pairs of the flesh-colored strings; quietly the other girls took them and hooked the strings over their ears.
“D’you think it worked?” they heard Connor say.
“Yeah, I think it did, Connor,” said Aimee. “Perfect way to make Granger jealous.”
Angel’s mouth shot open, and Ginny and Hermione gave each other startled looks.
“Good,” said Connor, “but I bet she hates me now.”
“She likes you. I know she does—you saw the look on her face. And what about the hurry to leave?”
“Still…” Connor sounded uncertain.
“Well, g’night, Connor,” said Aimee; the other girls dove out of the way as she flung the door open and headed up the stairs.
A few days passed; Angel ignored Connor, pretending that she was hurt by his actions with Aimee, but secretly she was happy that he liked her.
One day in Potions, a note landed in Angel’s lap; she turned around but saw no one. She opened the parchment up and read:
Meet me by the common room fire at midnight.
She scribbled back:
Why should I?
Angel tossed the note back to Connor, who opened it. Almost instantly a frown appeared on his face, and she saw his quill scratching. The paper appeared in her hands.
I want to tell you something.
Rolling her eyes, she wrote:
No, no, no, no. I have things I have to do.
The words I know you don’t have anything to do. You’re avoiding me appeared on the paper by magic. She turned around and glowered at him. He smiled.
Thanks a lot. No!!!!!
NO, NO, NO, and NO!!!
Fine. I won’t make you.
All right, see you tonight...you better not be late, though!
After class, Angel rolled her eyes as he passed, and he smiled again.
“Do mine eyes deceive me?” said Brandi. “You’re talking to Connor Vanderbilt?”
“Shut up,” muttered Angel. “I’m not talking to him—”
“He’s hot,” said Nicole appreciatively. “Oh, why do I always get stuck with the losers?”
“You pick the losers,” said Angel.
Nicole stuck out her tongue.
“Connor wrote me a note during class,” said Angel, knowing that, as soon as the words left her mouth, it was the wrong thing to say. She blushed.
“You and Connor were passing notes?” said Brandi instantly. “What’d he ask? I saw you blush!”
“He wants me to meet him tonight at midnight. There, are you happy?” said Angel.
Brandi and Nicole squealed at the same time, and Angel was forced to cover her ears.
“Seriously?” said Brandi, laughing. “He wants you to meet him at midnight?”
“Where?” asked Nicole.
“What is this, fifty questions?”
“Nah, only forty-nine,” said Brandi. “Tell all, Granger, tell all!”
“Where?” said Nicole again.
“D’you think I’m seriously going to tell you?” said Angel. “You’re going to try to spy on me, aren’t you?”
“Man, how did you guess?” said Brandi, in a hushed voice. “You’re so clever, you must have mind-power—”
“Shut up!” Angel smacked her friend on the shoulder. “Somewhere where you two can’t, thankfully, barge in.”
“The Room of Requirement?” suggested Nicole, her eyes lighting up. “That’s easy to get into, we did when you were kissing Harry, remember?”
“Only because I told you.”
“And we got the picture to prove it!” said Brandi with a grin. “Wasn’t there mistletoe?”
“It’s not the R.O.R,” said Angel exasperatedly, ignoring the old Harry memory.
“I know!” said Brandi. “The common room, isn’t it?”
“Maybe…” said Angel, enjoying the impatience that she knew her friends were feeling. “I’m not telling, but I’ll tell you after the meeting.”
“Very well,” said Brandi, grinning. Angel dodged the playful punch Brandi intended for her shoulder and ran.
That night, Angel finished her homework and made sure she was the last one left in the room aside from Connor. The moment everyone had left and the clock struck midnight, Angel faced Connor.
“Okay, what d’you want?” she said with a sigh, placing her books and parchment on the floor in front of the couch that she was sitting on.
Connor shrugged and sat next to her, his blue eyes boring into her brown ones.
“How do you feel about me?” he said suddenly, blushing a bit.
Angel gaped at him. “That’s all you wanted to know? You took away precious studying time to ask me that? I’d better get to bed…and you have a girlfriend.”
“I don’t. But you knew that, right?”
“You were using Extendables from Fred and George Weasley’s shop, weren’t you?” he said, holding up a pair. “I found them by the door.”
Now it was Angel’s turn to blush. “Okay, fine, I was eavesdropping,” she muttered. “Hermione and Ginny were too, we wanted to see if you were really going to—you know—”
“No.” He made a face.
Angel laughed. “You look like you swallowed a lemon.”
“I like lemons, though. What about you?”
“I hate them, except for in lollipops and candy, not the fruit itself,” said Angel. “Too sour. My dad actually eats the entire thing—peel and all!”
Connor laughed, his eyes lit up by the light from the fire, and said, “My sister detests them too. She’s a really picky eater—only eats fruits and vegetables, never meat. I guess she’s a vegetarian.”
“That must be hard for her to stay like that,” said Angel, not even realizing that her hand was entwined with his.
“She’s been one since she was little, Mum and Dad had to practically force her to eat meat, and even then she only ate fish,” said Connor.
“I heard about your parents,” said Angel with a sigh. “And how they were betrayed by Brandi Malfoy’s uncle.”
“Brandi’s not like them,” he mumbled. “She’s nice and likes to joke around—I can see why you two are friends.”
“Her parents died in a hippogriff accident,” Angel said. “They were horse raisers and animal rescuers. Brandi still has a few of her racers and unicorns, she’s planning to race them—two of them, a colt and a filly, Sterling Dream and Storm.”
“My dad knew her parents. He was impressed by their horses, one of the largest herds in Britain,” said Connor. “I didn’t know her parents died, but I reckon Dad and Mum knew, because Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy were both in the Order of the Phoenix and came to the meetings a lot.”
“I stayed in Sirius Black’s house with Harry, the Weasleys, and Hermione when I was fifteen—did you ever go to the meetings? Mrs. Weasley wouldn’t let us.”
“Occasionally—Mum and Dad made me and Jess stay home most of the time. They let me go enough so that I knew what was going on. It was kind of scary, hearing all of these wizards and witches discuss Voldemort…At least one witch—Nymphadora Tonks, d’you know her?—kept things lively for the younger members.”
“Oh, you mean Tonks! She’s much more cheerful now that she’s getting married to Remus Lupin, the werewolf.”
“I know Remus. He’s in London right now, as a matter of fact. I think he’s trying to get Number Twelve ready again,” said Connor, and Angel was impressed about how much he was connected with the Order. “Last time we wrote to him, he was arriving at Twelve. So—how did Brandi come to Hogwarts?”
“Andromeda Tonks took her in, she lived with her relatives until Mr. Malfoy got arrested, Draco ran, and Mrs. Malfoy decided to go into hiding. She’s going to be adopted by Lupin and Tonks after this year. I just hope Malfoy’s family doesn’t find out.”
“I can’t believe Lucius betrayed my parents—he was Dad’s best friend, and he betrayed them!”
“That’s okay if you never forgive him. I wouldn’t.”
Connor looked into Angel’s eyes, and she felt herself going red again.
“You still haven’t answered my question,” he said.
“How you felt about me, remember?”
Angel sighed, her fingers tightening in his hand. Suddenly, her lips were pressed against his.
He seemed shocked at first; then he returned the kiss. Hesitantly, Angel’s arms wound around his neck; he cupped her chin in his hand and gave everything he had. They didn’t even realize that Hermione and Ginny were standing behind them, trying not to smile; Ginny held up the camera that she had borrowed from Colin Creevey and snapped a picture.
Finally, Angel and Connor broke apart.
“Sorry,” said Angel quietly, releasing her hand from his.
“Why are you apologizing?” he asked her, touching her cheek.
He leaned forward, and now Angel was shocked as his lips touched hers again. This time the kiss was stronger, deeper, showing that he was wanting more. She closed her eyes and gave the kiss back, fighting the urge to cry. She’d never thought she’d find love again…then Connor had broken the rules…a pureblood and a Muggle-born, together forever.
Still trying not to smile and give themselves away, Ginny and Hermione whispered, “Yes!”, took one more picture, and departed silently.
The next night, Angel and Connor were pretending nothing had happened between them, eager to keep it a secret.
They were studying by the firelight, lying on their stomachs and reading aloud from another book that Connor had inherited from his father. Angel couldn’t concentrate; she kept looking at Connor, and then blushing when he met her eyes. Connor smiled at her secretly before turning back to the chapter they were on.
When Angel looked up yet again, Connor kissed her, a simple brush of the lips.
“OH MY GOD!” screeched Lavender, who had jumped on the couch to ask Connor something. “I thought this was a tutoring session, not a snog-fest!”
“Is it against the law for couples to kiss now?” said Angel sweetly.
Lavender gaped; after she recovered, she said crisply, “You’re joking. Connor would never go out with a Muggle-born.”
“I just broke the rule, then,” said Connor casually. “And she’s not kidding you either. We really are dating.”
“They have proof that they’re dating, the kiss they just did wasn’t to make you jealous,” said Hermione, pulling an envelope from her robe pocket and handing it to Lavender; she yanked open the flap and two photographs fell out.
“You didn’t…” said Angel, her eyes widening. When her twin nodded, Angel’s mouth opened.
“Ginny and I caught you two in action,” said Hermione cheerfully, “last night.”
Lavender shoved the pictures at Angel, who stared at them, blushing even more as she handed them to Connor.
“Well, Ginny sure knows how to take pictures,” said Connor.
Angel sighed, breaking the silence; all of the other students went back to their work hastily.
“So there,” said Angel to Lavender. “Like I said, we are going out. Now, would you please move so that I can get some sleep?
“G’night, Connor,” she added; she squeezed his hand before pushing past Lavender and walking up the steps that led to the girls’ dormitory.
Lavender scoffed as the heavy wooden door closed behind Angel.
“Why, of all the girls in the school, did you have to pick Angel Granger?” she said to Connor.
“Even if I hadn’t picked Angel, Lavender, I wouldn’t have wanted to go out with you,” he responded slyly. “She probably doesn’t suffocate boyfriends like you do…”
“You’re only her second boyfriend,” muttered Lavender, “while I’ve had loads. I’m more experienced.”
Connor rolled his eyes.
A month after everyone found out that Angel and Connor were together (news did travel around the school quite fast), everything changed.
Brandi and Nicole were overjoyed when Angel told them; but when Nicole became whiny and complained that all the cute boys were taken, both Angel and Brandi ignored her.
“Honestly, Nicole, what’s the big deal?” said Angel, burying her head in a book her parents had sent her, Animagi & Metamorphagi: Their Secrets To Becoming One, and tuning out to the laughing, chattering students in the Great Hall as they ate breakfast.
Nicole opened her mouth to say something, perhaps a nasty retort, but Brandi hissed, “McGonagall’s coming, hide the book!”
Angel hurriedly stowed the thick book into her bag as the headmistress passed; all three girls gave her innocent smiles.
“Good morning, Miss Malfoy, Miss Granger, Miss Finch-Fletchley,” said McGonagall, smiling down at them over her spectacles. “How are you this morning?”
“Quite well, Professor,” said Angel. “And you?”
“Oh, a bit overwhelmed,” said the headmistress, smiling slightly. “Running Hogwarts the way Albus Dumbledore did it is a challenge, I must say.”
“Maybe we can help!” said Nicole; both Angel and Brandi shot her scathing looks.
“That’s very kind of you, Miss Finch-Fletchley, but to assist me, I’m afraid, you have to have an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in your O.W.Ls, and you are currently at a ‘Poor’ level grade. Might I suggest tutoring?” said McGonagall.
“Professor, I’m already loaded with schoolwork and —”
“--boys,” finished Brandi, laughing as Nicole gave her a sour look. “Admiring every boy in Hogwarts, Professor, is what she does in her free time.”
“Well, if you don’t start handing in homework I’ll put you in detention. I expect all late assignments on my desk by tomorrow night, or you’ll get a week’s worth of taking over Mr. Filch’s job. Cleaning,” Professor McGonagall said, to Nicole’s look of incredulousness. “You will clean the castle for a week.
“Have a good day, girls,” she said, walking off, and Nicole glared at her. Brandi and Angel started laughing.
“Maybe you’ll marry Filch,” said Brandi, snorting with laughter. Angel’s face was turning red as she fought to control her giggles. “Hey, Mrs. Argus Filch, can you clean the Slytherin common room tonight?”
“Shut up,” said Nicole, her face pink with embarrassment. “It’s not my fault I can’t turn the homework in…”
“Need some help with it?” a voice asked.
Angel nudged Brandi in the side and indicated the mysterious speaker: Dylan Abbott, a boy who was in Nicole’s year and had a crush on her; his sister Hannah was in a few of Angel and Brandi’s classes. Unfortunately, Nicole didn’t like him and had no idea he liked her. She preferred to chase after Kirke Diggory, Cedric’s handsome younger brother who already had a girlfriend, no matter how many times her friends tried to turn her head in the direction of Dylan.
“Hey, Dylan,” said Angel. “How’s the year going so far?”
The blonde-haired boy shrugged.
“It’s not too bad—been busy,” he said, his eyes still fixed on Nicole (who was, in fact, eyeing Kirke as he crossed the Hall with his arm around his girlfriend, Gwen Avery. Her friends knew she loathed Gwen).
Gwen’s two friends, Shealin Trelawney and Kalisha Johnson—younger sister of Gryffindor’s former Chaser, Angelina—were right beside her. Beautiful Shealin—who, in fact, was a werewolf--was talking to her boyfriend, Danny Allivatla, and Kalisha had her head on Dean Thomas’s shoulder. Angel grinned up at the girls as they passed.
“Hi, Shealin, Kalisha, Gwen, Danny, Dean, Kirke. How’s everything?”
“Going rather well,” said Shealin in her soft Scottish accent. Her silvery-blue eyes sparkled. “I heard you’re going out with Connor Vanderbilt. Is that true?”
“Yeah,” said Angel, sighing, “everyone’s been asking me that all month!”
“He’s hot, though, I don’t blame you,” said Gwen happily. “Nowhere near as hot as Kirke,” she added hastily, when Kirke gave her a Look.
“Lucky,” Kalisha muttered. “Why do you always get the good guys and we get the jerks?”
“Hey!” said Dean, Kirke, and Danny at the same time, “why do we always get the jerks for girls, then?”
“Are you single?” asked Nicole instantly.
“Uh, no,” said Kirke, “I was just joking. Gwen’s the best girl in the world.”
“I better be,” Gwen said, punching Kirke lightly. “Sorry, Nicole, but Kirke’s taken. But I do know a boy who likes you,” she added, raising her eyebrows at Dylan Abbott. “Too bad you’re so fixated on other guys that you won’t give him a chance.”
“Who likes me?” Nicole demanded.
“You’ll have to figure it out. See you all.” Everyone walked away.
“That stupid abused foster child,” Nicole muttered, proving that her nasty feelings for Gwen hadn’t changed. “What’s she playing at, using him? He so does not like her.”
“Why have they stayed together for so long, then, if Kirke loathes Gwen?” said Angel impishly.
“He could be Harry Two,” Nicole snapped, “liking me for years but staying with Gwen to be close to me!”
Angel instantly paled and her eyes narrowed.
Brandi shot Nicole a Look and lifted her rosewood wand in the air.
“Locomotor Ink!” she whispered, grinning in a Here-we-go-I’m-sorry-to-do-this-to-you-Nicole-but-this-calls-for-drastic-measures way.
Angel’s large bottle of ink lifted itself off the table and pitched forward onto the desk, soaking into Nicole’s white school shirt.
“Oh no!” Nicole shrieked, feeling the ink soak in and twisting around to see the damage. “A brand-new shirt and all, Mum just sent it to me….”
“Then you’ll do well to stop mentioning Harry!” said Angel loudly. “Here—”
She siphoned the ink off with her own wand.
“What were you saying, Dylan?” she asked, as she cleaned the shirt, not bothering to look up; she knew Dylan was still there.
“Erm…well, I overheard Professor McGonagall—”
“Who didn’t?” muttered Nicole.
“—and I guessed you’d need help with everything tonight. Are—are you busy?” Dylan finished, looking quite nervous as he waited for Nicole’s answer.
“Uh-huh,” said Nicole. “I’ve just got to head into Hogsmeade, Kirke said he’d be there—”
“Stop. Tailing. Kirke,” said Angel, her words very sharp. “He. Has. A. Girlfriend. And. Does. Not. Like. You. At. All!”
“Oh yes he does, he said I was pretty cool…”
“Sorry, Dylan, Nicole’s busy tonight,” said Brandi. “Maybe some other night when she’s not busy.”
“Okay.” Dylan walked off, his shoulders drooping and his head held low.
“You idiot!” Angel shouted at Nicole. “He likes you, why don’t you give him a chance?”
“Kirke likes me?” said Nicole excitedly. “Then I’ll go ask him out, wait for me…”
“I really hate to do this,” muttered Angel, “but—Stupefy!”
Nicole fell over face-first onto the stone floor.
“Miss Granger!” cried Professor McGonagall, hurrying over. “I am shocked! Ennervate!”
“Professor, we had to, Dylan Abbott overheard you and her talking about her homework, he offered to help, she only wanted to talk about Kirke Diggory—we had to!” said Brandi, looking very flustered as she tried to explain.
“What happened?” said Nicole, sitting up and looking fairly dazed. “Oh—where’s Kirke? I’ll need him to help me back.”
“Miss Finch-Fletchley….” Everyone could see that the professor was trying extremely hard to control her displeasure. “This foolishness has gone on long enough—come with me. Detention, now, and you will finish the homework.”
“But I need help!” Nicole whined.
“Dylan Abbott offered to help her, Professor,” said Angel, shooting Nicole a malevolent glance in her direction; clearly she thought Nicole deserved what she was getting. “And Nicole turned him down.”
“Turned down isn’t the word,” said Brandi, “she didn’t even pay attention to him—all she did was talk about Kirke Diggory. Dylan likes her,” she added softly in the professor’s ear, “and she’s only got eyes for Kirke, who has a girlfriend—”
“—not to mention insulting Gwen whenever she appears with Kirke, calling her a ‘stupid abused foster child’, and Gwen’s really nice to her!” Angel said, cutting across Brandi’s tirade.
“Ah.” The professor nodded.
“Professor McGonagall, I can explain…” said Nicole weakly.
“Yeah, go explain why you’re ignoring a very smart tutor—who’s willing to help you when we don’t have the patience—to harp over an already taken boy!” said Brandi angrily. “I’m sick and tired of this stuff about Kirke—he’s got a girlfriend and nothing will change his mind, so don’t even bother trying to get the two broken up!”
“Enough—Miss Malfoy, Miss Granger, please head to your next classes; I will deal with your friend,” said Professor McGonagall, looking down at Nicole.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Brandi sheepishly; Angel nodded in agreement.
“Have a good day. I’ll see you two in Transfiguration later this afternoon.”
“So, A.L.G, ready for the match? The Ravenclaws haven’t got a chance!” Brandi said, grinning. The two were heading down to Hagrid’s for a visit. “When is it—tomorrow, right?”
“I’m really excited,” Angel admitted. “Harry’s a good Captain, he’s got us working almost every night to prepare for this match. Yeah, it’s tomorrow.”
“Our match is next week,” said Brandi, sighing, “against whoever wins this one.”
“Gryffindor-Slytherin, I reckon,” said Angel. “And Gryffindor’s going to beat Slytherin!”
“It is not!”
“Is too!” said Angel. She grinned.
“Whatever,” said Brandi. “Whoever wins, wins.”
“Let’s get ready to rock and roll —”
“—Granger’s going to score us another goal —”
“—The crowd is cheering as she throws the ball —”
“—Into the goal, straight and tall! Go Granger, go Granger!” finished Angel; she and Brandi began to laugh.
“The Angel Granger song,” said Brandi, giggling. “Don’t forget the Brandi Malfoy one, though.”
“You’ll only find the Slytherins cheering that one,” said Angel, “everyone’s on our side. Even the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. Ha! Oh, wait—there aren’t any Slytherins left, so how could there be a match?”
“Oh shut up.” Brandi gave Angel a playful shove.
“Ahoy there!” a voice bellowed. A minute later, the girls saw Rubeus Hagrid shelling peas by the door of his hut.
“Hi, Hagrid!” Brandi and Angel called in unison, racing down the hill.
“Wow, your house looks great,” said Angel, noting the structure with admiration. The Death Eaters had burned the house last year. “Where’s Fang?”
“He’s inside with his pups,” said Hagrid, “he courted a lady dog an’ they had babies.
“Yeh jus’ missed tha’ Connor Vanderbilt.” Angel turned red. “Asked if I knew where yeh were, Angel.”
“Wanted ter wish yeh good luck, I guess. I heard yeh two are together.”
“Good match, yeh are,” said Hagrid admiringly. “Though’ yeh’d never find a lad again, eh?”
A whistle startled them, and Hagrid yelled, “Harry, Hermione, Ron, down here!”
“Oh God,” muttered Angel, “I forgot they were coming down….”
“Don’t even think about it,” said Brandi quietly, noticing Angel’s expression, “you’ve had enough detentions already, remember?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah—shut up,” said Brandi unconcernedly, waving as the others approached. “Hermione and Ron aren’t bad—”
“—but I’m still angry with Harry,” said Angel, finishing the sentence and sighing.
“Don’t turn him into a squid.”
“Oh, ha ha…”
“How’s everythin’ goin’?” Hagrid said to the newcomers.
“Not bad—school’s good without Snape, just need to get rid of Filch,” said Ron, grinning broadly.
“Honestly, Ron, he’s not that bad,” sighed Hermione. “Give him a chance.”
“He’s had seven years’ worth of chances,” Ron reminded her smugly, and she scowled.
“Seen Ginny anywhere?” Harry asked Hagrid, who shrugged.
“Las’ time I saw her was when I was talkin’ to Professor McGonagall an’ she walked by, said hello, an’ left. Tha’ were three hours ago,” he said. “Haven’ seen her since—check in the library, maybe she’s there.”
“He must be looking for a long snog session with her,” mumbled Angel to Brandi, who giggled.
Harry eyed them suspiciously.
“Ah, there’s the man, Connor,” said Hagrid quite cheerily; everyone looked up on the hill to see Connor heading down it, something in his hand and looking wet.
“Did you go swimming again?” asked Angel when he was in earshot.
He grinned and said, “Yeah, the water’s great.”
“I reckon you could say I was a fish, then,” said Connor, his other hand on her shoulder; Angel noticed, with great satisfaction, that Harry had looked away.
“What’s in your hand?” said Angel curiously, pointing to it.
Connor opened his palm to reveal a beautiful crystal-like stone.
“Where did you find that?” Brandi asked, her eyes widening. “The lake?”
“It was at the bottom—I didn’t even realize it was there ‘til I stepped on it and cleared a bit of the mud and algae off. Then I wiped the stone clean.”
“Wow, that’s really pretty,” said Angel. “May I see it?”
“It’s what my dad used to call a ‘good luck stone’. He gave my mum one every month they dated,” said Connor, handing it to her. Then, blushing slightly, he added, “I think it’ll help you win the match tomorrow…”
“Thank you,” said Angel, smiling.
“I’ve heard about those,” said Hermione brightly, her eyes looking the stone up and down. “They’re really supposed to bring good fortune, but they’re so rare…only found in lakes that have magical creatures in it…Some people say the four Founders each tossed a handful of these in for good luck after Hogwarts was built, and—I just cannot believe you found this! Are there any more?”
“Well, I thought I saw a few, but not too many were there,” Connor said. “Oh, I forgot—so you don’t lose the stone, why don’t you make it into a necklace or something? I also found this”—he pulled a strand of pink pearls out of his pocket—“and I think it will last longer than plain string.”
Angel turned pink, and, hands shaking slightly, took the lovely necklace from him. She pointed her wand at the stone and said quietly, “Drillius!”
The stone suddenly created a small hole, just right for the pearl necklace, and slid onto the choker with ease. Lifting her long hair up, Angel said to Brandi, “Can you hold my hair away from my face?”
Brandi nodded and held Angel’s long, brown locks up as Angel fastened the small clasp.
“Thank you, Connor,” said Angel shyly, touching the stone, which glimmered in the sunlight.
Connor shrugged embarrassedly and said, “It was easy. Did you get your Potions work done?”
Angel let out an exasperated sigh. “Nope, I’m not doing it, and you can’t make me,” she said, her brown eyes sparkling with amusement. Then she took off. Connor rolled his eyes and chased after her up the hill.
“He’s using her,” said Harry.
Caught off guard, Brandi said, “What?”
“What’s she thinking, going out with someone like him?”
“She likes him a lot, and he really likes her, so why shouldn’t they go out?” said Brandi sharply. “And why d’you care? It’s about time Angel found someone new, anyway.”
“I’m just saying—”
“—that you’re jealous because she has a boyfriend again?” said Brandi, smiling coldly. “See you, Ron, Hermione. I’ve got to make sure Nicole’s doing her homework again.”
“Look, Brandi, it’s just that I’ve heard some things about him and they’re not good,” said Harry bluntly. “He’s already touching her, and she doesn’t like to be touched, remember? Yet she’s letting him. He’s a—a snake.”
“Potter.” Brandi glared. “Don’t even think about destroying the two, not when they’re looking good so far.” And with that, she walked away.
“Blimey, no wonder those two are friends,” said Ron in a low voice, “they’re almost identical.”
“Muggle-born and a pureblood?” said Hermione, shrugging. “My sister and Malfoy’s cousin? Friends since second year? Both dating purebloods? Yes, I think they’re quite alike, Ron.
“And Harry—Brandi’s right, my sister does deserve someone new, and you’ve got Ginny…” she added.
“I’m trying to protect her,” mumbled Harry.
“From what, exactly? Some rumors?” Hermione snapped.
“No arguments 'lowed here, all right?” said Hagrid hastily. Then, even though he probably knew this was the wrong time to say this, he said, “I meself think they look good together…”
“Oh come off it, Hagrid, a flobberworm can see they’re not meant for each other!” said Harry furiously. “What boyfriend would give their girlfriend a necklace a month into the relationship?”
“Didn’t you give Ginny a hair clip a month into yours?” asked Hermione quietly.
Harry opened his mouth, but he couldn’t get the words out.
“I—didn’t—how’d you find about that?” he snapped, finally finding the right words after a brief struggle. His face was red.
“Ginny told me.”
“Damn,” Harry muttered, “she can’t keep secrets…”
“Did you two finish your homework?” said Hermione suddenly; Ron and Harry both groaned.
“That’s what the morning’s for,” she said, hands on her hips.
“Hermione, I’m Captain, and we have practice tonight,” said Harry firmly. “We’ll do the homework tomorrow morning, the match might be cancelled. Come on, Ron, let’s get changed and onto the field, I told Demelza and Ritchie and the whole lot that we were having practice tonight.”
“Oh fine,” grumbled Hermione, sighing deeply in frustration, “go practice, I’ll see you at—what, three AM?”
“No, we’ll be in by eight.”
“It’s only half past four, don’t go torturing your players, Harry!”
“I won’t, shut up, will you? You’re giving me a headache! I’ll make it nine if you don’t shut your mouth, all right?”
“You shut up!” said Hermione angrily. “I’m so sick of both of you, always telling me to be quiet when I know I’m right” (“Every day,” Ron muttered; Hermione threw him a venomous glare before continuing) “and I’m just so SICK of it! So shut UP for once, instead of making me!”
Ron and Harry instinctively backed away; they both knew that when Hermione got into a rage like this, she was bound to hit someone—last time she had slapped Malfoy in the face—and they remembered the mark that had been on Malfoy’s face for weeks.
Neither wanted to risk it, of course (although it had been all right after they had seen Malfoy’s bruised and red face, come to think of it. Cowards).
“Hermione, shut u—” Ron began, but stopped right away as he realized what he was about to say.
“I mean…erm…calm down,” he continued quickly, “we don’t want to get into a row with you.”
“It seems like it,” said Hermione icily. “I’ll see you tonight, right after practice.”
AFTER PRACTICE, and during it, Angel kept fingering the small necklace Connor had given her, wondering how many boys did this. Harry hadn’t with her, although from the gossip that rampaged their dormitory almost hourly, he had given Ginny a lovely hair clip.
“Stupid git,” she muttered.
“PAY ATTENTION, GRANGER!” a voice bellowed, startling her. Angel looked up and neatly caught the large red Quaffle that Demelza Robbins had thrown to her.
Smiling, she glanced at Harry, whose eyes were fixed on her necklace. Feeling angry, she pitched the Quaffle at his head and was rewarded when he nearly fell off of his broom.
Harry swore lividly, causing Angel to cover her ears.
“CATCH THE THING!” he roared, “DON’T PITCH IT AT MY HEAD!”
“GIT!” she shouted back, “STOP LOOKING AT MY NECKLACE AND I WON’T! THIS IS A PRACTICE!”
“RIGHT, PAY ATTENTION!”
Ron put two fingers in his mouth and whistled sharply, and Angel was forced once again to protect her ears and fight the urge to shout the furious curses that were rising up into her mouth.
“Shut up!” bellowed Ron. “You’re giving me a headache!”
“Right then…erm, continue,” Harry said in his normal (and slightly hoarse) voice. Throwing Angel an angry glance, he started practice again.
Angel rolled her eyes, touched the necklace for good luck, and paid attention for the rest of the training.
“Honestly, he was shouting at me most of the time,” said Angel to Brandi, “and glowering at me for the rest.”
“I told him off,” Brandi said. “That’s why he was angry.”
“No, he had an argument with Hermione,” said Nicole, who was walking beside the other two as they headed for their Common Rooms. “I heard it from Justin, who heard it from Ron, who saw the entire thing…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever,” said Angel bitterly. “Git, bellowing at me ‘cause I wasn’t really paying attention. “’Course, that might’ve been because I threw the Quaffle at him after I saw him staring at my necklace.” She touched it again.
“You did?” squealed Nicole and Brandi at the same time.
Angel happened to look up as Brandi said this, and locked eyes with Harry, who shoved past her as if she were invisible.
“I heard about the practice,” Brandi called to him. “You okay after the accidentally-on-purpose Quaffle pitching?”
Harry whirled around, his mouth tightening at the corners.
“It was on purpose,” he said through clenched teeth, “so whatever Angel’s telling you about it being an accident—”
“She said it was on purpose,” chimed in Nicole; Angel elbowed her sharply in the side, and she yelped.
“Let’s split up,” said Angel quietly, “I don’t want to cause too much trouble with him, he might kick me off the team…”
“You have a point…” said Brandi, elbowing Nicole too (she had quite a reputation for blurting out things that were supposed to be secrets—both Angel and Brandi had suffered quite a bit; of course, they had gotten revenge every time, and Nicole had clammed up some. Her friends were still working on it.)
“There’s Ginny,” said Angel loudly, pointing to the redhead.
Harry turned to leave. Then he stopped and said, “He’s no good for you, and you know it.”
Angel and Brandi reacted so fast Harry barely had time to close his mouth: They lifted their wands and looked at each other.
Harry, who had clearly been expecting a curse, frowned. “What were you trying to—AHHHH!”
Both girls had cursed him with the nonverbal Lifting Spell, Levicorpus. Harry was hoisted into the air by his ankle, where he dangled in midair, his face scarlet; several Slytherins jeered.
“You know, if I wasn’t feeling so forgiving towards you, I’d take your mouth off,” said Angel calmly, who was clearly enjoying this spectacle. “Oh, by the way, Potter, thanks for teaching me the curse.”
Brandi was fighting a broad smile. “Nice work.”
“Thanks. Now are you going to shut your mouth or are we going to have to do it for you?”
“Miss Granger! Miss Malfoy!” an all-too-familiar voice shrieked: Professor McGonagall was hurrying towards the commotion. “Let Potter down immediately?”
“Should we?” Brandi whispered to Angel.
“You want detention?”
“Not really, but he deserved it,” said Brandi.
Angel jerked her wand, and Harry fell to the ground in a heap. Grimacing, he stood up and began to gather his books.
“What is the meaning of this? Miss Granger?” The professor looked furiously at the girls.
“Just a teensy anger problem, Professor McGonagall,” said Angel. “I’ve been in a fog all day, and Brandi said something to me, and I snapped. Sorry.”
“I highly doubt that. Then why did she curse him as well?”
Angel had never seen Professor McGonagall so angry before; her nostrils were still flared and she looked as if she was about to slap someone—just as Hermione looked when she had slapped Malfoy (a satisfaction, as a matter of fact.) She touched her necklace a third time, watching as Harry’s eyes returned to the stone.
“Miss Malfoy, Miss Granger, I’ll let you off this time, because you did it without thinking. The next time…well, you won’t go that far now, will you?” McGonagall smiled slightly.
“Um…er…of course not, Professor,” Brandi said, trying not to sound sarcastic. “Last time. Honest.”
“Let’s go,” said Angel. Relieved at her good fortune, she looked at the stone and thought, This really is lucky!
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