I was stacking shelves with as many books as possible whilst attempting not to make it look overly crammed so Madam Pince wouldn’t make me do it again, when he walked in. The air was dusky, to put it at best. In fact, I suppose I could tell you it looked kind of beautiful, if you’re the sort who enjoys gloom and doom. A silvery light cast its way across the flooring, carpeting the library in grey whilst turning the corners to shadowy velvet. It was almost as if you could take a run and expect to go straight through into some wonderful realm of oppressing monarchs with black turrets and castles. I thought about trying, but stopped in my footsteps when someone cleared their throat lightly, an almost growly sound that sent my legs to jelly. For a minute, I considered if I were going mad, turning to meet the prince of shadow realm with dreamy eyes, but blinked sharply when Teddy Lupin’s finely featured face confronted me, eyebrows drawn slightly higher than usual.
“I . . hello,” I mumbled feebly, quickly turning back to the books as the first tinge of red prickled across my skin. Great, I was blushing. My hands worked quickly as I attempted to look very busy and important. This resulted into his incredulous expression turning into a frowning look, as if he suspected I was being rude. “Can I help you?”
My voice, a little sharper than usual, stirred with irritation. That is, for myself, not for him. The book of boys was one week into existence and still it seemed as if I was making little progress. For a start, we’d been to a couple of chess meetings and already Mary and I were viewed as slightly odd, or perhaps half witted. And then there was Victoire, her temperament always expectant, waiting for some miraculous change in Teddy’s heart. I’d been working away for a whole week and all she could do was mutter her disappointment. Honestly, what did she expect? For them to be snogging already? I snorted with amusement, shaking my head thoughtfully.
“I was looking for a book,” Teddy began, his voice wavering slightly with the attempt to shadow his bewilderment.
I blinked and nodded, confused. “Well, you’ve come to the right place. This place is full of them.”
He laughed quietly and had the decency to appear embarrassed. I noticed this by the duck of his head, the shy twitch of his mouth. There’s something to write in the book – if you want to attract a boy, don’t embarrass him or make him squirm. He might just run away . .
I turned back to my work, scowling as I heaved up the largest volume Pince had doomed upon me to find a home. And where was she whilst I was slaving away this evening, I wonder? Probably off flirting with Filch, or primping before the mirror. A grey-haired old woman swam into my vision, standing before a mirror with curlers and a frilly white collar. I snorted again, smirking.
“Do you always do that?”
I flinched. Why hadn’t he buggered off yet?
“Make . . strange noises.”
Affronted, I turned away, making a show of dismissing him. Couldn’t he see I was busy? “I’m meant to be patrolling the Astronomy tower in half an hour,” I advised him, hoping he’d take the hint that I didn’t have time to stand around talking.
“Oh,” I could almost hear the grin within his voice. “You’re a Prefect, aren’t you?” How cleverly he ties the strings . . .I almost rolled my eyes. To tell the truth, in case you’re wondering at my bad attitude, it’s one of those delicate times of the month, when my mood is thrown off at a balance and I feel extra emotional. Instead of crying over some Muggle romance novel, I instead find my emotions channelled into anger. Right now they were flowing directly towards Teddy. Even the shuffle of his feet as he pursued me around the library made me grit my teeth.
Sighing, I checked my watch and nodded. He seemed to suddenly understand, as he downcast his eyes and nodded. “I’ve got to squeeze in a meal within that half-an-hour as well,” I added, as if to make sure he hurried along.
“Ok, I guess I’ll just look for the book myself.”
A sudden pang of guilt brought out the sympathetic Farla within me and bombarded my brain to push the more aggressive one aside. Sighing, I turned to face the cause of all my problems with a pleasant smile. What was so good about Teddy that I had to go to all this trouble of finding out about him anyway? I felt a sudden fury towards Victoire for this whole stupid idea. Still, at least others were benefitting out of it . .
“What book was it you were after? I might be able to help you.” I rolled my eyes suddenly and laughed. “In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it. Name the book and I’ll discover it within minutes.”
“How many?” he challenged, voice suddenly a little brighter.
I shrugged, lifting my shoulders up and down indecisively. “Two?”
“Deal.” He began to dig around in his pockets for money and I followed in suit. Both of us exchanged expressions of discontent when we found nothing. Or rather, I found a few spare apple cores, but didn’t really think he’d much appreciate me bringing out them. “Empty?”
“I bet you a butterbeer.”
Butterbeer . . . all students go wild for that stuff. I however, wasn’t convinced at its tastiness. “How about a nettle smoothie?”
He laughed. “Done. I’m looking for a book on transforming creatures. There’s one by Arnold Newt? I can’t see it in the factual or Care of Magical Creatures section.”
I huffed in feigned irritation and passed him a smirk. “That’s because it’s in the mythical creatures section. Most of what Newt writes is just theories, not based upon fact.” My feet picked their way quietly across the library and whispered to the mythology section of the library. My gaze skimmed the shelf swiftly and as predicted, there was the book on the third row. It was within my hands in seconds. Teddy sighed in defeat and folded his arms as I handed him the book.
“Impressive. So I’m down one Nettle Smoothie.”
“It seems you are,” I agreed, before quickly checking my watch. He got the point and grinned, parting with some final words before strolling out the library. I watched after him until I heard the door creak closed and shook myself out of it, getting back to work in a somewhat brighter mood. Suddenly meal time didn’t seem such a priority. I drifted about the library until I was due for Prefect patrol. By that time, it had gotten dark.
“He asked you out for a drink?”
My eyes narrowed and I faltered not in correcting her. “No, I won the rights to a drink.”
“So you’re going to Hogsmeade with him this weekend?” Hannah pressured, arms swinging airily by her sides as if to make light of the conversation, but something about it didn’t strike me as casual. I wasn’t really sure why Hannah was accompanying me on my prefect round. Perhaps she wanted something. Whatever it was, she had yet to spew it out.
I shrugged, dismissive. “Well, I suppose he does mean the weekend in a fortnight . . . it’s a Hogsmeade weekend, after all. We didn’t actually arrange a time.”
Hannah rinsed a hand through her dark hair, and I noted enviously how it gleamed like velvet. Why is it everyone else can make their locks look like a shampoo advert whilst mine are so . . scratchy? Does that even make sense? “But doesn’t that seem a little . . . strange. Him, asking you out that weekend. Like a date.”
I paused in my footsteps and turned to stare at the girl with wide eyes. “A date?”
“Well, it is, isn’t it? You’ve arranged to go for a drink . .”
“I didn’t arrange to do anything,” I contradicted indignantly. “It was a bet, that was all. Hannah, I’m writing the book, aren’t I? Does this mean I have to be dedicated twenty-four-seven to what I put down in there?”
She picked up on my clipped tone and was wise to stare straight ahead as she spoke, but her voice did not come out faltering or nervous. Like everything about Hannah, it seemed very much self-assured. “I just don’t think Victoire’s going to see the bright side of this.”
My mouth pressed together in a firm line. Yes, well, I wanted to say, Victoire can lump it, can’t she? Instead, I cleared my throat and said, “Well I’m sorry to hear that. Do you think she ought to know?”
Hannah turned warm eyes upon me, although they were hardened over with resolve as she nodded. “Definitely. Victoire has a way of finding out everything. If you don’t tell her and she hears it as gossip, it will be worse than it actually is.”
Worse? They were talking about this as if the whole thing were my idea. Were they forgetting I was the hapless victim in this entire role? I buried my hands into my pockets and bought out the bread roll Amy had saved me from dinner, chewing it carefully in order to stop myself from snapping. Why had a stupid nettle smoothie suddenly become a tragic error of importance?
“Would it be better if I told her we were just going out for an ice-cream?” I responded sarcastically.
Hannah’s eyes lit up and a smile touched her lips, hopeful. “Would you?”
I grumbled and dragged one hand behind me against the rough grey tower walls, feet dragging noisily across the ground. No stray first years causing trouble in this area of the castle . . .coast clear, abandon sight . . .
Would I? Go out for ice-cream like a child instead of staying in the warmth of the Leaky Cauldron where Teddy and I could get to know each other a little more? Automatically, pathetically, I knew I would. Just to keep in Victoire’s good books. I felt, for an instant, very obsequious, but sighed and kept the restraint from my voice as I nodded and replied, “Of course.”
“Ice cream?” Teddy’s expression was incredulous as I told him what I wanted to do that afternoon. It had been a long day, waking up early enough to reach for the shower first, then pulling on the warmest clothes I could find which consisted mainly of a woollen jumper and untidy jeans, followed by my school casuals – cloak and scarf. I’d made it down in time for breakfast and to serve an hour or two helping out in the library, then scribbled down a list of things to do for homework before rushing off to Hogsmeade trying not to skid on the black ice that smutted the cobbled paving. That’s right, it’s October now and as cold as ever. The wind had a real bite to it that left my cheeks numb and pink. Not to mention the breeze through my hair was something to play with and thus, I looked more scarecrow than girl. “Are you sure?”
“Certainly. It seems like a really nice day for some . . . ice-cream.” Together, we scanned the skyline with furrowed brows, but just when I thought he was going to shake his head and refuse, Teddy broke the silence by grunting. I looked up to locate the source of the problem, to find him staring coldly at Victoire. The sound of her shrill laugh floated through the air like a fog horn. I cringed.
“Victoire Weasley,” I acknowledged the sighting and tilted my head to one side coyly, tapping my front teeth as I pondered self-consciously what to say. What Victoire would want me to say. Supposedly, I was meant to be loyal and sing her praises, but could hardly bring myself to do it when I noted Teddy’s scowl. Instead, I dropped my hand to my pocket and eyed him curiously. “I thought you two got on well together?”
“We do, I suppose,” he began, and inhaled a breath before releasing it in a cloud again, his eyes wrought with indecision upon glimpsing me in the corner of his eye, assessing. My mouth tilted in a lop-sided, lazy smile and I prompted, “Don’t worry, I won’t tell”, as a sign of encouragement. This seemed enough for him and he launched off into discussion. “We get on well enough, platonically. But it always seems like she’s pushing for more.”
Ah. So he’d noticed then. Half the school had. Up until now I’d just thought him ignorant, but it became apparent that he was ignoring her advances rather than harshly rebuking them. I spoke tentatively, wanting to spur him on but not distract him from what he was saying. “Is that so bad?”
He heaved his shoulders in a shrug, but before he could speak Victoire and her gang of friends rushed over, Victoire looking like some gorgeous snow princess in her cream hat and matching expensive scarf. “Hi Teddy, Farla,” her eyes focussed on him rather than me as she said this and I felt for a moment as if I was being dismissed. I tasted my lips nervously, feeling the numbing cold bite in with addition to the strawberry tang of the icecream. Victoire’s nose crinkled beautifully, like silver tinfoil scrunching up and then being released again – my point is that whatever expression the girl attempts to adorn, she somehow looks perfect, like the mirror reflection every girl wishes to have. She tossed her hair back and scoffed scornfully, “What’s that you’re eating? Ice cream? It’s Winter!”
Teddy laughed and indicated at me with his free hand. “Not my idea, but it’s not a bad one either.”
An awkward silence spread itself over us that even Victoire’s friends could not keep away, despite their murmuring giggles in the background. “Shall we go to the Three Broomsticks?” she offered conversationally, excluding me from the invitation. “It’ll be warmer there.”
Teddy and myself exchanged a look, and almost immediately the cold regret that I’d been feeling cleansed away and I grinned openly. “What do you think Farla? Ready to exchange the outside for a crowded pub?”
Victoire looked furious that I had even been considered, and when I felt her eyes burn into me I knew I’d have to agree or else I’d never live it down later. “Yes. Why not? My fingers are rather numb.” I slurped down the last of my ice-cream and added, “besides, who doesn’t love student company?”
Teddy smiled as if I’d just made a joke and together the three of us set of towards the Three Broomsticks. Victoire took the opportunity to slip her arm into Teddy’s and moved her head a little closer to engage him in quiet talk. I lingered a fraction or so behind, watching their footsteps meld into the grass, the prints seeming odd and out of place as they rested side by side together. Victoire’s tall, and so her feet are slightly larger than most girls’, and they left light, delicate traces within the smooth frosted carpet of ice. Teddy’s by comparison were firm and heavy, deeply lodged into the mud as they crushed through the grass carelessly. I immediately thought of the two dancing in one of those ballet productions mum took me to see once, and couldn’t help my mouth from downturning. Victoire would be graceful solely, but with Teddy their movements would be awkward and clumsy, long limbs entwining to leave a rather messy pace. And it was here that I began comparing my own footsteps to Teddy’s, enabling me to view our own duet of ballet as beautiful and flowing, like art.
Yes, I would be a far more perfect match for Teddy Lupin.
Wait, did I just think that? I studied their backs as the pair walked in front of me, listening to Victorie’s laugh rinse through the chill air, and my stomach turned to ice.
No. Teddy Lupin was far from perfect, and I have never fancied anyone in my life. He’s just a good friend, that’s all. We haven’t really got all that much in common. Just a friend.
But that didn’t stop me from thinking of him even when we were settled in the pub and I was excluded from their conversation, and when Mary found me, my face was flushed with awkwardness and my mind far distracted.
“Farla?” she asked tentatively, her eyes curious. “Farla come with me to talk to Artuan, I need an excuse so that it doesn’t look like I’m making improper advances.”
I stirred and shifted from my reverie, smile rapidly disappearing from my mouth. When was it that I could start living my own life rather than playing the catalyst to shift the events in others? With a sigh I turned away from the bar and nodded dubiously to Mary. It was a disturbing thought, stirred by awkward emotions.
I don’t think I’ll write about this even in the Book. It seems too private, and what would Victoire Weasley do if she should know?
A.N -- I'm sorry it's been so long since I last updated. I'm mostly found over at fanfiction net these days reading up on Narnia and Supernatural, the authors are so inspiring. As it's been so long, I hope you can forgive this chapter for being a little iffy. It seems more like a filler chapter than anything, hopefully getting me back on track and capturing Farla's character again.