Chapter 1 : Of Miserably Ever Afters and James Potter the Second
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Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling, nor do I have any affiliation with her. I am, however, a lazy girl with her head in the clouds, who likes borrowing the magnificent world of Harry Potter to write for my own pleasure.
Of Miserably Ever Afters and James Potter the Second
“I’d appreciate it if you could tutor James Potter.”
Here it was, the most critical moment in all my seventeen years of perfecting sarcasm. One wrong word would have drastic consequences, including – but not limited to – the loss of my sanity.
And yet all I could think was: this is my mother’s fault.
Ever heard of Romilda Vane? Lead columnist for Cosmowitch? She’s a man-eating monster (I think she’s distantly related to a Chimaera –a cousin twice-removed or something like that), but she’s more commonly known as my mother.
Yes, you read that correctly. The devil spawned offspring. Pity me already, don’t you? I sure as hell feel bad for myself. It would be safe to assume that everything bad that happens in my life is all, directly or indirectly, related to her.
Think I’m being dramatic? Sit back, grab a butterbeer, and relax, because I’m about to tell you a story so horrifying you’ll give up on the idiotic farce that is love forever.
Once Upon A Time, there was a young, ambitious maiden named Romilda Vane, who understood early on in life that ugly women never become the princess. Now, Romilda was not naturally beautiful – she had tangles upon tangles of frizzy, unmanageable hair; eyes that sat too close together on her wide forehead; and a strong, masculine jaw (trust me, I’ve seen her when she first wakes up in the morning). However, where she lacked natural beauty, Romilda more than made up for it in sheer determination. Hours upon hours she would spend slaving away in front of her mirror, until, little by little, the ugly duckling would transform into a swan.
Now, just as she had fought with everything she had on her appearance, Romilda fought to acquire a wealthy mannequin to further boost her position in life. He could not just be wealthy, however—he needed to be famous. He needed to be a Prince.
And so Romilda spent several years courting entire legions of men, all so similar in appearance and personality that it was really a miracle she could distinguish between them all. By the time she was twenty-two, however, Romilda, had begun to worry that no Prince would come to whisk her off to the enchanted society of the rich and famous.
That was when she met him.
Gabriel Cartwright, three years her elder: devastatingly handsome, devastatingly clever, and devastatingly rich. An anthropologist by choice, Gabriel came from a well-to-do wizarding family that supported his slightly insane expeditions all over the world—his wild quests for arcane knowledge and heart-pounding adventure. Romilda immediately knew he was the one.
Too bad he didn’t agree.
Gabriel had turned her down flat, being far more interested in the culture of ancient civilizations than in the power-hungry social climber. But our adorable Romilda was not the type of woman easily discouraged; she would have him under her spell even if it cost her her life.
And so she did put him under a spell – a love potion, to be exact, something my mother can brew most potently (it’s a shame that’s where I got my knack at potions from, honestly).
To any onlookers, it seemed as though the two were madly in love with each other. In fact, their relationship was so lustful that Society hesitated to invite the couple out to the obligatory parties and galas, if only for the reason that the pair wouldn't be able to keep their hands off each other for the duration of the inane small talk and fake laughter.
That being so, I imagine it'll come to no surprise to you that, not long into the pair’s relationship, a baby girl was born.
Not long after that, Gabriel’s mother – a proud, stern sort of woman – discovered exactly what had happened to her son (via the classic downfall of many a marriage; letters in a shoebox from, in this case, Romilda’s impressed minion), and quickly procured him an antidote.
Needless to say, Gabriel fled.
If you think Romilda was heartbroken, you’re wrong. My mum’s heartless. About a week after Gabriel came-to, she was off frolicking in Tahiti with the seeker of the Falmouth Falcons. And that’s typical behavior for her; I think her favorite hobby is divorcing, with how often she does it. I’ve lost count.
So, in essence, my mummy dearest is a complete and utter slag, while my dad, the one I'd actually like to live with, is always off on some foreign expedition, completely ignorant of what's going on in my life. Not that I'm bitter about it.
I mean, my dad's my favorite person in the world, right after that hunky lead singer of The Quintapeds (sorry, daddy, you just can't beat those soulful blue eyes -- no one can). And to be perfectly honest, he visits me as often as he can. That might not be often, but... it's something.
Anyway, I know he’d take care of me if he could; we’re both of the opinion that my mum is a loathsome, lascivious loon. The only problem is that he can’t take care of me. He spends most of his time traveling in foreign countries, off on those grandiose quests for knowledge I mentioned earlier. Now that I’m older, of course, he occasionally lets me come and stay with him for a few weeks over the summer and help out, but... a few weeks is never really enough when my mum is concerned.
That’s why Hogwarts is a lifesaver to me—for the majority of the year, I don't have to spend time around her, cleaning up her messes. I’m sure she’s just as glad that I’m not home, too; it means she has free reign to have kinky sex all over the house.
Actually, cross that thought out. I think I just vomited in my mouth.
“… Miss Cartwright?” Professor Calantha’s smooth, amused voice streamed into my consciousness.
Damn my mum. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be a tortured teenager having an unnecessary internal monologue in the middle of a conversation.
(I just love how I can blame everything on her, don’t you?)
“Oh, sorry, Professor,” I said sheepishly, flashing her my polished Head Girl Grin™. “My stomach wanted to complain for a bit."
It wasn’t exactly a lie; I was hungry. It was lunchtime, and I knew there were some delicious cream crackers waiting for me upstairs in the Great Hall. I preferred their company to that of my Professor’s right now, anyway.
Not that I didn’t like Professor Gwendolyn Calantha, known to me as Gwen. Out of all my professors, she was my favorite by far. Quick-witted and full of good humor, the twenty-six year old Potions Mistress made class entertaining and interesting. Ever since Professor Flitwick retired a few years ago, she even became head of Ravenclaw house -- and so now that I'm head girl, we've gotten pretty cose.
“Sure,” she replied casually, rolling her eyes. “So, what do you think?”
But not close enough, apparently. Bloody bint wouldn't give up pestering me, would she?
“…,” I choked.
She only snickered in response. Well, cool, Gwen. Cool. Just enjoy my discomfort, why don't you. I take back my words – Professor Longbottom holds the true key to my heart, him and his weird plants.
“I figured you’d say that,” she grinned, shaking her head. “I know you try to be diplomatic all the time, but it doesn’t take Albus Dumbledore to notice you can’t stand the poor bloke.”
I blanched. Was I really that obvious? I thought I was pretty damn good at hiding my annoyance around people I dislike, but apparently not.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I declared breezily.
She rolled her eyes again.
“So, I suppose that means since you don’t dislike James, you’re perfectly willing to tutor him?”
Damn her! Damn her to hell! Was she really going to make me say it?
It’s not even like I hate Potter. Really, I don’t. I simply feel like I could cheerfully feed his body to a chimaera (perhaps that second cousin twice-removed would appreciate a little bite of smartarse), maybe even while humming along to a Celestina Warbeck song. But that’s not hate! If Hogwarts was burning down and I had a choice between saving him or my favorite jumper, I’d probably only hesitate for a day or two before galloping off after the egomaniac (my jumper did cost me 8 galleons, after all, and such a price is not to be treated lightly).
“Err.. well, you know, I’m really busy with Head Girl duties, not to mention being Quidditch Captain…. Taking on another duty on top of that might be too much for my schedule to handle,” I answered earnestly, trying to communicate to her: PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME! IF YOU HAVE ANY COMPASSION FOR ME WHATSOEVER LEFT IN YOUR SORRY EXCUSE FOR A HEART, DO NOT MAKE ME TUTOR POTTER.
... but, you know, without actually saying that.
“When I made the decision to appoint you to both of those positions, Miss Cartwright, you assured me many times you were perfectly capable of handling them both, with, may I quote, ‘time to spare.’”
Odious woman. I’m never abandoning my cream crackers for you ever again.
“Why me, though? Aren’t there a bunch of other students more willing to tutor him? Chelsea Finnigan would probably be up for the job,” I hedged. Chelsea Finnigan was a complete dunce and waste of oxygen, but hey – so long as he was off my hands, I could care less.
“Perhaps this may seem a bit too critical, Miss Cartwright,” Professor Calantha replied wryly, “but I don’t think much tutoring would get done, if that were the case.”
Well, she had a point. Chelsea was a slag who practically had a shrine devoted to the bastard.
“Also, might I add, you are top of the year in Potions. If you’re not the prime candidate for tutoring him, I don’t know who is.” Her blue eyes flashed with amusement. Sadist.
“I thought he was supposed to be…” I had to force the word out. “Intelligent.”
I didn’t live under a rock; I knew he was smart. You didn’t pull off stunts like he did if you were stupid, let alone manage to be one of the top students in the year. Admitting it out loud, however, almost made me want to bite my tongue off.
“His intelligence is not the issue,” Calantha sighed, shaking her head. “I know he’s absolutely capable of learning and mastering the material we’ve covered so far.”
Oh, really? Then why the hell do you need me?
I opened my mouth to say something along those lines when a quick, playful rap on the office door captured my attention.
“Come in,” Gwen called evenly, straightening up behind her desk.
Speak of the devil.
James Sirius Potter strutted through the heavy oaken door, perpetual smirk already in place. Damn. The very bane of my existence he may be, but he sure as hell was attractive. That was annoying. He was annoying. Ugh.
“Hey, Gwen,” he said cheerfully, flashing his professor a dimpled grin not unlike my own Head Girl Grin™. “Still intent on forcing me into those damn tutor—Cartwright!”
Potter's brown eyes focused on me the same way they always did: uncomfortably intense and perceptive, like he could read my thoughts. Most girls thought James Potter was just good for a laugh and a snog, but I wasn’t that dumb; I knew he was probably one of the most observant guys at school, and that always put me on edge.
“Hello, Potter,” I gritted out, trying not to glare over at Gwen as she stifled a laugh.
“I was just asking Miss Cartwright if she would have the honor of tutoring you. That is, of course, if you’re going to be a willing participant,” Gwen murmured, absent-mindedly fiddling with a strand of her brown hair.
And Sweet Circe, I was saved! No way in hell would Potter want to waste precious time he could be spending coaching Gryffindor with me of all people, the girl who'd rather stick a chopstick in her eye than hang out with the him.
Suck my broomstick, Gwen.
“Yeah, yeah, I need help, I’ll admit it—" Wait, wait, wait. What? “This stuff is just totally confusing. If I don’t get help now, I might just fail the class,” Potter frowned, looking down at his feet as he shuffled back and forth. Gwen raised her eyebrows, now fiddling with her peacock-feathered quill.
“Excuse me?” I couldn’t believe it. What the hell was he thinking?! Did he want to make me miserable? Oh, wait – this was James Potter. Of course he wanted to make me miserable. Stupid question.
“I’m a little embarrassed that I have to ask for help, it’s true. But I wouldn’t be a real man if I couldn’t accept help from an intelligent, frightening woman like our Head Girl.” Frightening? Did he have a death wish?
“I—" I don’t know what I planned on saying. Maybe it was, “I refuse to tutor such a disgusting wanker!” or maybe even, “Incendio! Burn in hell, Potter!" But whatever it was, it didn’t matter, because Gwen cut me off.
“Well, that settles it, then. The two of you will meet every Tuesday here in the dungeons at seven to work on whatever material we’re covering in class. You will continue to do so until Mr. Potter raises his grade to an Exceeds Expectations. Does that sound appropriate?” If it wasn't for the way her mouth kept twitching, I would have presumed that she was being entirely serious and professional and not COMPLETELY ENJOYING MY PAIN.
WHY ME, DAMN IT? WHY ME?
But, once again, I couldn’t manage to say what was on my mind. Once again, I forced myself to say what was proper.
And that is why everything bad that happens in my life is all because of my mum. If she hadn’t slipped my dad a love potion and gotten caught, I wouldn’t have to try so hard to please him.
... ugh, excuse me while I go angst for a bit in a dark corner somewhere. Boo hoo, my life as a wealthy and priviliged white witch! So tragic!
"Perfect," Potter grinned, glancing over at me with amusement. I
“Lovely. You two can excuse yourselves to lunch, now.” Gwen said, shooing us out of her office with a casual wave. “I’ll see you tomorrow for your first tutoring session.”
Seething, I stiffly trudged out of her office, Potter right on my heels. The second the door to her office shut with its resounding thud, I wheeled on him.
“What the hippogriff were you thinking, Potter?!” I demanded, hands placed firmly on my hips. It was a stance that was exceedingly familiar to me; I used it when I was lecturing my Quidditch team, when I caught underclassmen out of bed late at night, or, most frequently, when I had to talk to I-Spellotape-My-Roommates'-Arsecheeks-together over here. (Not that I'd actually seen him do that, but whatever, that's besides the point.)
“I was thinking I want to pass potions this year?” He quipped cheekily, eyes still as keen as ever.
“Right, and I’m Morgan Le Fey,” I grumbled, frowning over at him. His grin only got larger. “Did it occur to you that I don’t have time to be sitting around helping you out with something I’m sure you can do on your own if you just put forth the slightest amount of effort?”
“It did occur to me,” he said lightly, placing his interlocked hands behind the back of his head. My eyes unconsciously drifted down towards the hem of his shirt, where a tiny peek of tan abdominal muscle was showing.
Err.. what had I been about to say, again?
My cheeks started to feel visibly warm, so I avoided looking at Potter, who was busy grinning at me with that smug “I-know-you-were-checking-me-out” sort of expression on his face.
Did I mention that I hate him? Because, really, I do.
I swallowed guiltily and turned around, stomping through the Potions classroom on my way to the Great Hall. “Then why the hell did you let her stick us into those stupid tutoring sessions? I can’t imagine that you’ve got all the time in the world to goof around, either. Merlin knows your Quidditch team needs a lot of work if you ever want them to have a chance of beating us,” I jibed, falling back into my comfort zone of make-snarky-comments-towards-Potter-and-ignore-all-tan-abdominal-muscles. Those abdominal muscles…
“I figured we needed bonding time, Cartwright,” Potter answered seriously, the corners of his lips quirking up slightly as I snorted in disbelief.
By this time we were out in the dungeon corridors, walking side by side as the many portraits adorning the walls nodded to us in greeting. Trying to distance myself from him, I started slowing my pace -- only to have him slow his down, too. When I sped up, he sped up.
I glanced up at Potter curiously, but he seemed to be staring off into space, his jaw clenched and his dark eyebrows just a bit too pinched together on his forehead. What was wrong with him? The expression looked eerily out of place on his face.
I almost started to make fun of him, but something stopped me. This was about the first time I think I’d ever been by Potter and not arguing with him—I kid you not. Even when I first met him, we were arguing.
It had been right before the start of first year, back when I was a gangly, freckle-faced girl of eleven and he was a scrawny, messy-haired boy the same age. I’d just bought the last cauldron cake off the trolley on the Hogwarts Express, and had been about to start munching on it happily (I could probably live on cauldron cakes cheerfully for the rest of my life if they weren’t quite so bad for me), when the inevitable happened; as I’d begun to walk away, the aforementioned scrawny, messy-haired boy of eleven yanked on one of my pigtails, causing me to yelp and whip around to glare at the perpetrator.
“What do you want?” I demanded, both my hands on my hips – for even at eleven I was familiar with the pose.
The boy did not quake in fear as I’d hoped, but instead beamed charmingly up at me. I blinked a little in recognition – this was James Potter, the firstborn son of Harry and Ginny Potter, wasn’t it? His picture was all over magazines across the country, including Cosmowitch, where my mum worked. Ginny Potter was one of my idols growing up, a positively legendary chaser for the Holyhead Harpies, who’d retired just before I was born. Surely her son wouldn’t have been the one to – “I want your cauldron cake.”
He looked up at me arrogantly, folding his own arms across his chest. “I want your cauldron cake. Give it here.”
I distinctly remember having to resist the urge to stomp on the Potter's foot.
“No!” I’d said defensively, clutching the treat to my chest protectively. “Why would I give it to you? I paid for it!”
“Don’t you know who I am?” He’d scoffed, nose high in the air. My jaw had dropped, amazed at the extent of this kid's ego. Apparently, however, he had taken that to mean I’d just realized it was James Potter in front of me and was now willing to cooperate, judging by his smug expression.
What a bleeding brat.
“You’re the most presumptuous kid on the planet, James Potter. You do your mum no justice,” I’d snarled, rather pleased at my use of the word ‘presumptuous.’ He wouldn’t know what it meant, no doubt. I proceeded to whip out the cauldron cake and lick it all over, not unlike a dog peeing on a tree to claim ownership. “Go eat dung.”
And with that, I’d flounced off, leaving a gobsmacked Potter in my wake.
We haven't exactly gotten along since then.
So, anyway, I’m sure you can see why his silence was so disconcerting to me – it never happened. He was always making some kind of joke, always teasing me, always pushing my buttons. He never just... stood there.
Before I could stop myself, I found myself elbowing him in the side. “Hey, I’m sure your Quidditch team’s not that bad – you’ll at least be able to beat Hufflepuff,” I offered, shrugging.
He turned his head down to look at me and smiled. No, not smirked. He gave me an honest-to-Merlin smile, the kind that made girls all over the country weak at the knees, the kind that made the corners of his eyes crinkle in a decidedly attractive manner.
I blinked. I’d seen this smile many times before in magazines, but WOAH—it sure was powerful up-close. No wonder Finnigan had a shrine devoted to him; if he smiled like this at me all the time, who knows, maybe I’d do the same thing.
Pfft. Okay – sorry, sorry, I’m kidding.
But... he was too serious. Was he really thanking me for that? He needed to stop looking at me with those eyes, or Merlin help me, I was going to –
“Whatever, Potter. Just don’t go getting all sentimental on me, now,” I answered nonchalantly, when I was feeling anything but nonchalant. Luckily, we’d reached the Great Hall by then, and I hurried off to the Ravenclaw table before he could say anything else.
I collapsed onto the bench with a groan beside my two best friends, Briar Hawthorne and Dominique Weasley, who were munching away in the middle of a heated discussion.
“I’m telling you, the Cannons are going to take the cup this year!” Dom was saying animatedly, waving her fried chicken around in the air for emphasis.
Briar scoffed, tossing her long, dark hair over her shoulder dramatically. “Right, and this is the year Lola realizes Potter's in love with her and they decide to get it on in the Astronomy Tower."
Well, I'm just going to ignore that.
Dom sighed wistfully. "Hey, we can always dream, can't we?"
Most people wouldn’t understand how Dom and Briar were friends. The two seemed like polar opposites; Dominique was a devastatingly beautiful (damn Veela blood) blonde-haired, blue-eyed hopeless romantic with her head in the clouds, whereas Briar was a dark-eyed jumble of sarcasm and scathing wit. I knew better, though; the two were closer than any sisters could ever be. We all were.
I groaned again, and this time the two of them turned to me, their interest piqued.
“What’d Calantha want?” Briar asked, realizing I was in one of my let-me-complain-already phases and it would be better for all humanity if I could just get whatever was bothering me off my chest.
“Oh, you know, the usual,” I sulked, loading a ton of cream crackers onto my plate. “She just wants to ruin my life.”
Briar rolled her eyes, but Dom, the more compassionate of the two, patted my hand. “What’d she do? Did you get an Exceeds Expectations on your last essay?” I gazed at her mournfully. “It’s not like she told you tutor James, or anything, so cheer up; it could always be worse.”
... you've got to be kidding me.
Dom’s mouth dropped open when I just stared sullenly at my plate in response. “She did?! You’re kidding! ... No, really?”
I nodded, shoving some food around on my plate in a grotesque impression of the current state of my soul.
There was a moment of silence, before Briar started to laugh outrageously. I hoped she choked.
“Oh, man, this is too funny,” she guffawed, pounding the table as she gasped for breath.
Why was she my friend, again?
“I don’t really think so,” I glared, popping a mutilated cracker in my mouth and chomping down on it in frustration. “It’s completely going to cut into my Quidditch practices. I swear, if the team suffers because of this I’ll—”
“The poor bloke’s probably dying of happiness right now,” she continued, ignoring me, her eyes beginning to water. Dom began to join her in laughter, a light trill now combining with Briar’s deep chortle.
“He’ll probably skip all the way up to the Gryffindor Common Room later,” Dom added, eyeing her cousin across the hall who was busy doing some weird, elaborate man-handshake with his best friend, Liam Wood.
I snorted delicately. “I don’t think he’s that excited he got to get under my skin; I mean, he still has to put up with spending time with me, now.”
They looked at me with matching looks of incredulity.
“What?!” I asked, uncomfortable. “It’s true!”
“You’re an idiot,” Briar shook her head, an affectionate smile stretched across her face.
I was many things – stubborn, cynical, and competitive, to name a few – but I was hardly stupid. Usually.
“A total idiot,” Dom echoed, sending what almost seemed like a look of pity towards Potter. Ugh. As if he deserved pity.
An odd feeling of déjà vu washed over me then, and I frowned. This almost seemed like… “You guys aren’t still on about that, are you?” I asked, suddenly exhausted. Last year the two had been completely taken with the idea that Potter was taken with me – because somehow, in their books, amused irritation totally equals infatuation. However, it was already the first week of October, and since they hadn’t mentioned the crazy notion yet, I thought they’d finally come to see reason. Apparently I was wrong.
Briar and Dom shared a Meaningful Glance, one I was definitely left out of. And trust me, being left out of a Meaningful Glance is never good.
Dom sighed. “Look, Lola. He’s my cousin; we’re close.” Yeah, far closer than I’d like. He was going to corrupt my innocent little Dom someday, I knew it. “And I can tell he loves you.”
Oh, here we go again.
This time, I was the one to start laughing. “Guys, love doesn’t even exist, and even if it did, the feelings Potter feels towards me are anything but that.”
Dom groaned, and Briar pounded her head against the table.
“Why can’t you see that he’s totally enamored by you?” Dom insisted, looking like she was ready to rip her hair out of her head.
I was equally frustrated. All Potter and I ever did was fight or just be complete arses to each other – why couldn’t they see that? Why did they never see how entertained and satisfied Potter gets when he flirts with me, knowing that it makes me uncomfortable, knowing that it gets under my skin? Why can they only see it as something more -- as 'love'? I just... I don't understand. I really don't.
“He always watches you, you know,” Briar added matter-of-factly, taking a sip of her soup. “And not in a creepy way. In a why-won’t-she-pay-me-any-attention-neglected-puppy sort of way.”
I’d heard this all before, of course. And trust me, I'm not being one of those dimwitted heroines who are so outrageously oblivious to the hero's infatuation with them. I mean, Potter does flirt with me, sure, but he only does it because it pisses me off. That's what they can't see. Potter and I have been doing things to irritate each other for seven years now; it's nothing more than that. It just.. can't be.
I glanced up towards the Gryffindor table, and suddenly my green eyes connected with a pair of warm brown ones. Potter. He was looking? I whipped my head away immediately, fighting off a blush. Great, now the egomaniac would get the wrong impression and think I fancied him, or something, which – oh, Merlin – couldn’t be farther off the mark.
... but why was he looking?
I mulled that over for a second, before blanching. I was letting those two put ridiculous ideas into my head! Soon I’d be under the impression he only wanted to have the tutoring sessions in order to spend time with me.
I choked on my toast, doubling over with laughter. What a crazy, crazy idea. That would never happen, not in a million years.
A/N: So, this is my very first chapter of my very first fanfiction, and I’m not too pleased with it. What a great way to start off, eh? XD Oh, well. I’ve been mulling this idea over for so long I really just want to get it up already, haha. Sorry there’s not too much interaction between James and Lola, by the way. It’s really only the first chapter, so I’m trying to set it up and get a feel for it. Plus, Lola doesn’t like him – she wouldn’t want to spend more time then necessary talking to him or paying attention to him. Anyway, so.. thoughts? Comments? Questions? Is it interesting, boring? Please let me know what you think!
Oh, and you don’t have to tell me it’s cliché – I know that already. I’m a die-hard fan of most clichés, so you’ll probably see a bunch throughout the course of this fanfic. If you don’t like that.. I suggest you run away. Run away NOW.
P.S. Reviews are much appreciated. :3