“What the bloody hell?” is my first thought of the morning.
While still in a haze of sleepiness I can hear Demeter scream to my left, and Roxie shout a few choice words.
Crikey. My haze of sleepiness is now fully diminished.
I sit up in bed and see a wonderful spectacle in the center of our round dorm room. Amazing showers of green and purple sparkles assault my eyes and flashes of light blue and shocking pink race around the room. At the center of it all is a glowing image of Demeter, created entirely of fireworks. The image doesn’t move while the show goes on around it. The image is majestic, capturing everything wonderful about Demeter. Her bright brown eyes with their green swirl, the constant blush on her cheeks, and the shininess of her raven hair. Even her shy smile is there. Perfect. The lights show ends, and her image explodes. From the remnants of the combustion, a message is spelled out:
“For the wonderfully beautiful Demeter.
Someone is thinking about you on Valentine’s Day.
With immense amounts of love,
With one last final explosion with all the beautiful colors of the rainbow and more, a bouquet of flowers appears and flies into Demeter’s hands. Well, her face actually. But I don’t think she even noticed. Her expression is dumbfounded.
Wow. James really out did himself with this one.
“Oh, Merlin,” Z says groggily from her four-poster.
“That…that was amazing,” replies Ella, voicing all of our sentiments I am sure.
“Who…who would do that? For me?” voices a still shell shocked Demeter.
“Anyone who knows you,” says Roxie as she jumps out of bed and stretches.
“Was it you?” asks Demeter. “Did you do that then?” She sounds like she hopes the present is from Roxie. Demeter is just incredibly shy around boys and I know she is scared about what all of this means and what she should do about it.
“Me?” asks Roxie incredulously. “I wasn’t alluding to anyone, Demy. I was speaking about a bloke.”
“A bloke?” repeats Demeter, as though she had never heard of such a thing. Demeter lays back down and stares at the ceiling.
I want to say something but I just know if I do, I will spill James’s secret. Obviously he doesn’t want her to know it is from him, or he would have signed his name. How lucky is Demeter? James may be a bit cheeky and loud, but he has a good heart. Why is such a good bloke my cousin? He should give boys a lesson in romance. I am so excited for Demeter!
We all get ready for the day. Even though I don’t have a Valentine today, or any past Valentine’s Day for that matter, I still put a little more effort into my looks than usual. You know…just in case.
I left my hair down and added some curl. Just a tiny bit though. And I am wearing my favorite jumper of striped light blue, red, and emerald green. It isn’t anything too special, just flattering. The last thing I want is for Malfoy to take the piss because I dressed up for the day…although he hasn’t really said much to me since that day under the tree. Actually, he hasn’t said anything at all. Praise Merlin! My day just got better.
We are making our way down the stairs to the common room and all of my friends are giddy with excitement. Well, just Ella and Roxie. They have dates for today’s Hogsmeade outing.
“Isn’t it lucky that Valentine’s Day fell on a Hogsmeades day?” Ella says happily, as we sit in our favorite corner of the common room.
“Yes, it is,” replies Z, clearly not happy. I know she was hoping for a date, but I am dead positive someone will give her a gift. I mean…it is Z! She is like, the second best looking girl at Hogwarts, after Roxie. I hate to rank my friends in terms of looks, but Roxie is like a creature from another planet. Uncle George did good.
“Cheer up, Z,” Roxie soothes. “The day has just begun. Surprises are forthcoming.”
I catch Roxie’s eye at this statement and she gives me a little grin and a wink. Something is up. Something I don’t know about. I don’t like this. Does it have to do with Albus? Is he going to give her firecrackers also? It wouldn’t be very original, but I am sure Z would enjoy it. This not knowing business is really bothering me. Ugh! Now I won’t be able to think of anything else until something happens.
Oh! James just came down with Freddy and Frank Longbottom. He is looking for her…he sees her. He looks happy and taken aback. I know why: Demeter looks mighty fit today. We forced her to wear an outfit she bought in Muggle London during the summer that she hasn’t had the courage to wear. If I weren’t into blokes…Oh, wait. James looks sad.
I take a look at the girl of his dreams.
Demeter looks like she is at a funeral! I know she is scared about what it means to have a bloke like her, but she could show a little joy. I know that besides her fear, she is jubilant. But she looks like she is wallowing in a deep, dark cave of sorrow.
“Hey, Demeter,” I say, and give her a little kick. “You know, someone took time to make you that wonderful display. You shouldn’t look like you stepped in poo. Smile!”
Demeter immediately sits up straight and gives the common room a fleeting glance. She completely misses James’s stare.
“You’re right, Rosie. I really did enjoy the firecrackers,” she says with a small smile.
“Who wouldn’t?” sighs Ella. “Those were amazing.”
“Yeah, they were,” says Demeter, and her face lights up. Now she is getting it!
Breakfast is looking to be a puppy love fest. Roxie and Bobby are making goo-goo eyes at each other from their separate tables and I am caught in the middle of it. What’s more, Tucker is sitting at our table completely taxing Ella’s time. He basically fell in love with her when he sat with us at the lake that one day. Isn’t the date supposed to start at Hogsmeade? Maybe I am just sore because I don’t have someone. At least I have Z and Demeter with me today. But they aren’t being much fun.
Z has a grouchy frown and Demeter’s silly grin she adopted in the common room is plastered on her face. Each is consumed with their own thoughts. So I am eating in silence. I hate silence.
Will Roxie and Bobby please stop looking at each other like that? Bobby looks like…what is Malfoy doing? Is he chatting up Marlee Simmons? What in the name of Merlin’s baggy y-fronts is that all about?
Everyone knows Malfoy doesn’t date or give girls the time of day. It is like…his shtick. Girls always try to capture his attention, save myself, but he never gives in. The one time he actually replied to a girl’s advances was when Dominique, with her slight Veela charm, asked him on a date. It was only on a dare because we wanted to know if he were a homosexual. She surprised him (her charm works best after a surprise) and he said, “Oh, um…okay.” But then he blinked and declined. He saw Roxie and I watching and gave us a death glare.
Damnit! He just caught me staring at them. How embarrassing!
Marlee isn’t even good looking and is surprisingly dim for a Ravenclaw. What is he playing at, leading her on like that? I mean--
“Lily Potter!” The shout across the Great Hall grabs everyone’s attention.
Oh! My dear brother is standing at the doors, looking anything but cheerful on this Valentine’s Day. Maybe it is because someone has charmed a cherub to float above his head, spontaneously dumping pink and red paper hearts on his head, ala Madam Puddifoots.
I look down the table and see Lily quickly slip underneath.
“Oh, no you don’t Lily! I see you. Make it stop!” Hugo demands, as another bundle of hearts showers over him. Wow, he looks menacing when angered.
Lily still hasn’t come out from under the table. If I were she, I would crawl down towards the teacher’s table and try and seek safety there. Oh, no. She is choosing a different route.
A route my smart brother anticipated. His long strides have allowed him to reach Lily just as she tries to crawl to the Ravenclaw table. His wand is already out.
This is going to be good.
“Petrificus Totalus,” Hugo states calmly. Lily is immediately frozen in a hilarious crouch. “Now, Lilykins, when I let you out of this body bind, you are to immediately release this cherub. I know you are thinking of some way to run for it, but don’t forget your brain is pea-sized compared to mine. You have bested me just this once, and only because I was sleeping.”
Hugo silently releases Lily.
“Crikey, Hugo! A body bind is the best you had for me? Rictusempra!” Lily cries, as she swiftly pulls her wand from her robes.
“Protego!” Hugo says, blocking her spell with so much ease it makes me proud. Oh, he just tackled her to the ground. Ouch.
The Great Hall has erupted in laughter. Hugo has Lils pinned to the ground and has resorted to Muggle tickling. Lily is obviously torn between laughter and horror. How embarrassing it must be for her to be beaten in front of the whole school.
“Lift it, Potter! You’ll lift it if you know what’s good for you,” Hugo says through gritted teeth. His tickling is serious business.
“I won’t…I won’t do it…pay back,” Lily cries.
“Pay back? For what?” Hugo asks, not relenting with her punishment.
“You told DAVEY!” she tries to whisper, but Hugo’s tickling has made her yell Davey’s name.
“I was only helping your teenage romance progress,” Hugo explains, standing up, ignoring the cherub’s hearts falling down on him.
“Shut your mouth, Hugo! Just stop!” Lily yells, as Hugo opens his mouth again. I see her eyes trail to the Hufflepuff table. Luckily for her, I know Davey is serving detention with Longbottom until noon. “You have no tact. You are going to suffer for what you did! You embarrassed me! What if I told Remy of your undying love?”
Hugo’s mouth shuts and his eyes grow wide. He strides out of the Great Hall with his face aflame.
Lily looks a titbit regretful as she watches Hugo leave. I have known about Hugo’s infatuation with little Remy since his first year. He kept it well hidden. So well hidden that I see Remy, over at the Ravenclaw table, is absolutely gob smacked.
Lily just rushed out, obviously to banish the cherub. She isn’t that vindictive.
This Valentine’s Day is turning out to be very eventful. And it is only nine in the morning.
It is cold out. It is so bloody cold out. My fingers are freezing, even with my gloves. And Z and Demeter are absolutely no source of warmth. What is this malarkey? Forcing students to walk to Hogsmeade in this freezing weather? Can’t Flickwick show us some mercy and lend us some carriages?
Finally, we reach my uncle’s shop. It is nice and warm in here.
My Uncle George is behind the counter helping some little tykes so I won’t bother him just yet. But he will be giving me free range of the back storeroom today. I have a vendetta against his son after last week’s prank involving me in the shower, a misplaced mermaid, a manic Cornish Pixie, and a Bat Bogey Hex. Freddy will get his, and more.
“Oi, you there! Come give your father a hug and kiss,” says a very familiar voice behind me.
“Dad!” I scream, and fling myself on him. I smell his aftershave on his jacket and smile. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Bulgaria until the twentieth.”
“I skived out of there,” my dad shrugs, grinning down at me. “Your Uncle Harry had everything under control and George said he needed some help this weekend.”
“I’m so glad you’re here,” I say, giving him another hug.
“Whoa there little lady. You are going to embarrass yourself. You wouldn’t catch me dead hugging my parents in the middle of a busy Hogsmeade weekend,” he laughs, and detaches himself from me. He looks around at Z and Demeter, who are still in their own little worlds. “What are you girl’s doing today?”
“Well, Z is determined to be depressed and gloomy all day. While Demeter, here, will replay her spectacular Valentine’s Day gift over and over. In the meantime, I will lead them around Hogsmeade until it is time to go back to school for the feast,” I sigh.
Our melancholy is not lost on my dad. “You girls don’t have dates?” he inquires, trying to sound sympathetic but is unable to hide his relief. He is going to shit kittens when I bring home a boyfriend…if I ever get a boyfriend.
“Well, Demeter has a secret admirer,” I try. “And Z has many admirers, but she is so cool and intimidating, no one could gather the courage to make a move.”
I really appreciates Z’s eye roll. That is what I get for trying to lift her spirits.
“Hmm,” my dad says, looking at our sorry lot. “There’s always next year.” I must remember to bind and gag him next time we discuss blokes around my dateless friend. Z seems to have found a new pitiful low. Grrrreat.
“Well, thanks for the pep talk Dad,” I say as I lead my friends away from him.
He just laughs and waves us off. “Have fun today girls. Melt some hearts.”
All three of us roll our eyes and leave the building.
As Demeter, Z, and I are walking to the Three Broomsticks we see Ella and Tucker venture into Madam Puddifoot’s, holding hands.
“Someone shoot me now,” mutters Z, wrapping her scarf more firmly across her face.
I give her a swift squeeze. “Cheer up, mate. This isn’t the end of the world. At least you aren’t as pitiful as me. I have never had a Valentine. Never. So when you are thinking ‘Woe is me!’ today, you just remember your good friend Rosie.”
This makes her look a bit happier. So glad I could help.
As Demeter reaches for the door of the pub James, Freddy, Albus, and Malfoy come tumbling out, laughing very hard. All of them, except Freddy, sober up once they notice who they almost ran into.
Malfoy takes one look at me and storms off down the street. What did I do?
“What was that, Al?” I ask.
But Al just shakes his head at me. He turns his attention to Z. “How’s it going, Z?
Having a good Valentines Day?”
Z just shrugs in response and looks out to the street watching other students walk by, on dates. Her wallowing in depression is going to get very tiring, very soon.
“Don’t take it so hard Z,” laughs Freddy. “Even Bernadette Sawyer couldn’t get a date.”
That was harsh. Bernadette is the most unfortunate looking girl at Hogwarts. Maybe all of the England, maybe even the world. She has quite a good personality though. I tutored her two years ago. I wanted to offer her some Spot Zap Potion, but I thought that would be rude. And nothing is going to help that weak chin of hers.
Z punches Freddy in the face and runs away. Back to Hogwarts it looks like. I feel bad for her, but I can’t help but feel a little relieved that she’s bailed. I mean, Valentine’s Day isn’t going so great for me either. I didn’t need her around, bringing down my mood even more.
“Wow, Al. You picked an all right hook,” laughs Freddy, ignoring the blood running down from his nose.
“What did you go and do that for?” Al pouts. “I was going to buy her a drink!”
“Is that all you were going to do for her?” asks James, while I siphon off the blood on Freddy’s face with my wand. “I’m sorry, but a drink isn’t the way to a girl’s heart. Chocolate…maybe. But not a drink.”
“Like you would know, you ponce,” replies Al, obviously smarting. “You’ve never had a girlfriend.”
“Not yet,” James replies, looking at my Demeter.
Demeter is just standing there, not noticing anything. She is smiling, but I think it is because Z punched Freddy. How is she not noticing James’ gaze?
“What does that mean?” asks Al, waving his hand in front of James’ face. Al likes it when people look at him while they have a conversation. He is being just as dim as Demeter is in this moment.
“I don’t know. Ask Demy, here,” says Freddy, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
James’ face goes from shock to cool confidence. Obviously he wasn’t expecting Freddy to spill the beans, but I am pretty sure he is going to come out of this with flying colors.
“Wha--?” mouths Albus, looking between Demeter and James.
Demeter is finally awake and aware. Poor girl. She looks from Freddy to James to Albus and then me, her mouth in the shape of an O. She looks like a fishy.
“Yeah, Demeter. How was your Valentine’s Day morning?” asks James, leaning towards her. He reaches up with his fingers and tucks some stray hair behind her ear. “Explosive, I hope.”
Demeter looks as though she has stopped breathing and James’ smile is the biggest and brightest I have ever seen it. My knees are weak so I can’t imagine what hers must feel like.
Oh, Merlin. Demeter has just slapped James across the face.
“That is a cruel joke to play James!” Demeter yells, louder then I have ever heard her. I see faces looking out the front window of the pub. “You don’t mess with a girl’s feelings like that. How could you do that?”
She gives him a look of contempt and then runs the way Z went. Running away seems to be the fashion these days.
I look at James. He looks crushed.
“Hey, mate,” says Freddy, reaching to James.
But James brushes his hand away. “No, just forget it,” he says. “See you lot later.” And he walks away, his posture expressing his depression.
“Where is he heading?” asks Al.
“Shrieking Shack,” says Freddy, an uncharacteristic frown on his face. “C’mon Al. Let’s go ruin Roxie’s date or something.”
Al turns to me. “Want to come?”
“No, that’s okay. Roxie would probably kill me,” I sigh. “I think I’ll head to Uncle George’s shop and visit with my dad.”
“Uncle Ron is here?” Al asks, surprised. “I thought he was in Bulgaria with Dad.”
“He left early,” I shrug. “See you at the feast.”
Valentine’s Day bites the big one.
After visiting with my dad and getting some supplies from Uncle George, I head to the bookstore. The only good thing about my friends’ absence is that I can browse the aisles without worrying that they are bored.
“Hello there, Rose,” says Mr. Avery, from the cashier register. The store looks void of customers. “Are you looking for anything particular today? Perhaps a present for a Valentine?”
I give a little snort. “No, Mr. Avery. No Valentines for me this year. Or any year.” I can’t help but add the last part. I think Z has rubbed off on me.
“I find that hard to believe,” gasps the bookstore owner. His sincere shock is heartwarming.
“Believe it, sir,” I respond. “Blokes just don’t fancy girls like me.”
“Girls like you?” he asks.
“Oh, you know...brainy, independent, bossy. Not to mention they don’t take well to girls who tower over them, have bushy hair and freckles, and a plain face.” I’ve sunken to new lows. I can’t believe I am fishing for compliments from my book vender. I shake my head. “Never mind me. I’m just going to browse for awhile.”
Mr. Avery gives me a sympathetic nod, and then goes back to his work.
I find about ten books to buy, but I still have an hour before the feast, so I take them to the back corner of the store. There is a little desk and chair nestled in back there. I think Mr. Avery placed them there for me during my fourth year because of the numerous times he has found me laying on the floor, reading his books.
Merlin, this day just gets worse and worse!
Malfoy is sitting at my table! His books are haphazardly stacked, his shoes are off, and his mismatched socked feet are resting on the table while his coat lies on the floor. Anyone could easily trip over it! He is so annoying.
I am about to turn away when he notices me. He just sits there, staring at me.
“Okay, Malfoy,” I start, placing my books on the table. “What is with the staring? Lately you have been very odd. You haven’t insulted me or tripped me for like, days. Not that I mind, but you keep looking at me like I am something foul on the bottom of your trainer. What gives?”
He looks at me for a moment then looks down at his book. He takes in a deep breath, as though he is preparing for something. He looks up at me again, with a look on his face I have never seen. It is like…hurt or something.
“You know, Weasley, I know we have never been friends. I know I did something to you our first year to make you dislike me greatly. I never understood it, but I went along with it, because to be honest…you never struck my fancy either. But in all these years that we have been sparring and butting heads, I never thought it was as serious as it supposedly is to you.”
“What are you going on about?” I ask. What does he mean he never took our dislike seriously? How in our six years of constant argument and bickering, did he never take it seriously?
“I’m talking about that day at the lake,” he says. “You just…took it to a new level that I don’t want to go to.”
“I still have no idea what you are talking about?” I reply, crossing my arms. I don’t like how this feels, listening to Malfoy say something that isn’t rude or annoying.
“You spoke of my family,” he says, angrily. “You brought up my family’s past. You had no right. It was never something that I was proud of, but I had finally given people the impression I wanted to make for myself, and you just brought it all crumbling down. I had managed to not think about their past for a long time, and you ruined it.”
I am speechless. I didn’t know I did all that with just a few words. He is looking at me expectantly, and I don’t know what to say. Rose Weasley, speechless. In a tiny part of my mind I think how my friends would have loved to see this moment.
“Forget it,” he says, shaking his head. He gathers up his books, stands up, and walks past me.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper. But it is too late.
Back at Hogwarts, the feast is moving along nicely. For everyone but my friends and I. Well, Ella and Roxie being the exceptions. They are still riding their Valentine’s Day date highs. Z keeps glaring at the two of them, looking like she wants to slap their happy faces away. Demeter is glowering into her soup bowl, her eyes bloodshot and watery. James is down the way, looking mighty depressed and glancing at Demeter about every five seconds. Freddy is watching over James, concern etched in his face. Albus is eyeing Z, expectantly. Although, what he is expecting I have no idea. And me? I am here trying to figure out how I have had such an impact on Malfoy.
I look across to the Ravenclaw table. Malfoy is sitting by himself, reading a book. I am torn between going over there and apologizing so he can hear me, or just sitting back and letting him think I don’t care. If I apologize now it may seem like I am trying to build bridges between us. Which is something I am not ready to do because I greatly dislike him.
If I don’t apologize, I will feel like a very bad person. And I’m not a bad person. I am a good person with an enemy. And as much as it pains me to say it, Malfoy was right. I took it too far mentioning his family. Because it isn’t his family I am upset with, it is Malfoy. I know what it feels like to be judged because of family members. It isn’t fair, and even though I hate the kid, I would never do that…intentionally.
I can’t believe this. I am about to apologize to Malfoy.
But just as I am standing up, James leaps on the table. What on earth is he doing?
“James?” questions Freddy.
“Shut up, mate,” James says with a very determined look on his face. He walks towards our end of the table, his eyes never leaving Demeter’s face.
“Mr. Potter!” calls Longbottom, from the professor’s table. “What is the meaning of this?”
“Sorry, for the interruption Longbottom, but I need to get this bird’s attention,” James says, pointing down at Demeter.
Longbottom doesn’t look like he knows what to say or do with this situation. “As you were then,” he says meekly.
“Demy, look at me,” James demands. She amazingly complies, although her face is filled with anger. “You’ve got to know my firecrackers display wasn’t a joke this morning. It wasn’t coming from a mean or hurtful place, it came from here.” And he points to his heart.
A little sappy, but I’ll give him kudos for having the guts to say something.
“I know I just sprang this all on you this morning, so it may not seem sincere. But I have been nursing a soft spot for you two years running,” he says, rushed. “Ask Freddy, he’ll tell you!” And he gestures to Freddy, who is nodding his head fervently. “I just…I was waiting to do it in a special way. I am prone to big gestures, but maybe I should have waited for a different day to do it.”
He waits for Demeter to say something, but she doesn’t. I know she is trying to process everything, but James takes it as a cue to continue on in his declaration.
“You are like, the most beautiful girl in the school. Right, Fred? Haven’t I said that before?” he calls down to his best friend, hoping that Freddy’s agreement will make Demeter believe him.
“It’s true Demeter. In fifth year, he declared his love,” Freddy says enthusiastically, jumping on the table himself. “For you, not for me. He said you were looking mighty fit, that you had the most beautiful eyes, and the sweetest smile. That your hair was shiny and reflected the sun in hypnotizing ways, and you are quiet and shy. And how that normally bothers him about girls, but with you, it just makes him want to hug you. He also said--.” Freddy stops short at the look on James’ face. “Well, he said loads of other things that he apparently wants to tell you himself.”
After Freddy sits back down to applause, James turns to Demeter.
“Please, Demy. Believe me,” he whispers. On a second thought he adds, “Us. Believe us, Freddy and me. I am like, in love with you.”
Demeter gives a little gasp and then reaches for James and plants a big smooch on his lips. To which James promptly faints.