A/N: Apologies for the spacing, I can never seem to get it right!
The good mood I was in from swanning up and down the Hogwarts Express acting exceedingly pompous to juniors evaporated approximately five minutes into Professor Dumbledore’s welcome speech, where he introduced a short, squat, pink-clad woman as our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.
“She looks more useless than Gilderoy Lockhart,” Nathaniel muttered.
“Or Quirrell. Having the Dark Lord on the back of your head, I reckon, is about as much of a defence against the Dark Arts fail as you can get.”
“Good point,” Nathaniel conceded. “Oh Merlin, she’s making a speech.”
“You can’t be serious,” I muttered as the woman interrupted Dumbledore and took his place at the podium, smiling sweetly at us.
“Thank you, Professor, for those kind words of welcome. And so good to see all of your smiling faces!”
Someone at the Gryffindor table started hacking and gasping dramatically for breath. I didn’t have to turn around to know it was one of the Weasley twins, and, judging by the look Short Squat Woman Who Interrupted Dumbledore (SSWWID) was giving the Gryffindor table, he had successfully made it onto her hate list within minutes of term starting. Mind you, the Weasley twins tended to have that effect on teachers.
SSWWID (real name Professor Umbridge) was talking about the Ministry and Hogwarts. I had missed the first few sentences, but the glazed looks already forming on the faces of the people around me told me I hadn’t missed much.
“Wake me when it’s over,” Nathaniel muttered, and promptly buried his head in his arms, snoozing facedown on the table.
“Get up,” I hissed. “You’re a prefect, and there’s pumpkin juice in your hair.”
He sat up, pulling at a damp lock of red hair. “Sure that’s pumpkin juice?”
“Either that, or someone pissed on the table.”
He made a face. “It’s pumpkin juice.”
We got our timetables at breakfast, and I scanned mine eagerly to find out who we had each class with. Potions, Defence and Herbology with Slytherin, Charms and Transfiguration with Gryffindor, History of Magic and Astronomy with Hufflepuff, and Ancient Runes and Muggle Studies with anyone from any house who felt the need to take them.
“We’re seeing a lot of Slytherin this year,” Nathaniel noted.
“Not that you would have a problem with that,” I commented. “You know, Katya Prewett and everything.”
Katya Prewett was my other best friend. We had met in first year, cursed each other in Defence Against the Dark Arts, laughed at how scared Quirrell looked when we did that, and became friends. She was a typical Slytherin in most ways, except she had a mind sharp enough to be in Ravenclaw and she could fly as well as the best Gryffindors. She was also, unbeknown to her, Nathaniel’s love interest, and had been since about third year. She should have been prefect instead of Pansy, but she apparently informed Snape that she would choose Quidditch over classes or prefect duties every single time, and would grossly abuse her authority. I said exactly the same thing to Flitwick, but he still chose me.
“Shut up,” Nathaniel muttered to me, going an interesting shade of pink.
“You can sit with her in classes,” I continued.
“Who’d you sit with?”
“Pansy Parkinson, she and I are best buddies. Or Draco Malfoy, according to the girls he and I are so made for each other.”
“Well, you both lack balls, I suppose that’s something you have in common.”
“Charming, Nathaniel, charming.”
“In all seriousness, Athena, if you went out with Draco I would personally kick your ass from here to Diagon Alley.”
“If I went out with Draco, I would let you. Scratch that, if I went out with anyone.”
He raised his eyebrows at that. “Still planning to remain single all your life then?”
“That’s the general plan. Don’t look at me like that, I’ve seen you get all depressed and angsty over Katya, do you really think I’d want to go through that myself? Bad enough having to watch you suffer with that shit.” And that was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to Athena Selwyn’s Reasons to Avoid Relationships Like the Bubonic Plague.
“I’m touched. I think.”
“You should be. That’s empathy, right there.”
“What do we have first?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Defence. With SSWWID.”
“Short Squat Woman Who Interrupted Dumbledore.”
“I think SS would do fine. Short, Squat.”
“SS?” I repeated. “Like, Schutzstaffel?”
“I don’t speak Mermish.”
“It’s German, you douche. You know, Nazis, SS, that stuff…?”
“Oh,” he said. “Like at Muggle school.”
“That’s the one.”
Nathaniel and I went to the same Muggle school. It was a rare move, in fact, pretty much unheard of, for any wizarding parents to send their kid to a Muggle school before Hogwarts, especially a pureblood kid whose ancestry read like a Who’s Who of the Wizarding World in the Last 1000 Years (seriously, mine did) and for a year before I went off to school I had been lectured day in, day out, about never mentioning the wizarding world, never mentioning magic or Hogwarts or anything. Then I had been sent off with the beginnings of a superiority complex because I was a witch and everyone else at school wasn’t, made friends with Nathaniel because he was the only other redhead in the class, thought he was a Muggle for something shamefully close to a year and discovered he was, in fact, a wizard purely by accident when I decided to insult him in a novel way during an argument. Six-year-old Nathaniel had taken objection to being called a Muggle.
“Good holidays?” Katya asked as I claimed a seat beside her in DADA near the back of the classroom.
“Eh, good enough. You?”
“Boring as hell. As usual. ‘Cept getting this, of course.” She grinned, tapping the shiny green shield-shaped badge emblazoned with a silver QC.
“You’re Captain? Congratulations!”
“Indeed I am. Unfortunately for me, I’m inheriting a shit team. Apparently Crabbe and Goyle are the only people who want to be beaters. I still have no idea why Cassian gave up the Captain title, though, he’s only sixth year.”
“If he leaves the team, you’re fucked.”
“Don’t I know it,” Katya sighed. “He and I are the only people in the team who can actually fly. Why couldn’t you be in Slytherin, Athena?”
“Coz I’m too cool. Oh well, you guys won’t be hard to beat in the Cup.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence. How strong are Gryffindor this year?"
“Well, they’ve lost their Nazi captain, so I’m hoping they won’t be that good. On the other hand, though, they could kick absolute ass because of their newfound freedom…”
“Who else have they lost?”
“No one that I know of. They still have the seventh-years, they still have Harry, they still have Katie, all they need is a keeper.”
“Quiet, please,” Umbridge said sweetly. “Welcome to fifth-year Defence Against the Dark Arts. My name is Professor Umbridge.”
“The correct response is ‘Good morning Professor Umbridge.’”
I exchanged glances with Katya. She couldn’t be serious.
“Good morning Professor Umbridge,” the class chorused reluctantly, but Katya and I remained obstinately silent.
“Excuse me?” Pinky said, raising her eyebrows at Katya and me. “Perhaps I was mistaken, but I didn’t hear you say good morning to me.”
“You weren’t mistaken,” Katya said calmly.
“Forgive us, Professor,” I continued. “But I distinctly heard you welcome us to fifth year Defence Against the Dark Arts. Fifth year, not five years old.”
Her eyes narrowed as her smile widened. “And what is your name, young lady? A Weasley, I assume, judging by that hair.”
I regarded her coolly. “No relation, Professor. My name is Athena Selwyn. You’re from the Ministry, yes? I assume you’re acquainted with my parents in the Auror Office.”
No, I wasn’t above playing the Parent Card. I could be a right pompous, arrogant, stuck up bitch when I wanted to be.
“Well, Miss Selwyn and Miss…”
“Prewett,” Katya supplied.
“Prewett,” Pinky repeated, “Perhaps you both need to learn to show your professors the respect owing to them.”
“I think you’ll find we did,” I said simply. Under the desk, Katya held out her hand for a high five.
“Ten points from Ravenclaw,” Pinky said swiftly.
Five minutes into the first lesson of the year and I’ve already had points taken off. Goody two shoes? I’ll show you, Fred and George Weasley.
“Ah, Athena,” Roger Davies called, trotting across the common room. “Quidditch tryouts on Thursday, are you able to make it?”
“Tryouts?” I repeated. “Is there someone else looking to wield a beater’s bat?”
“Not as far as I know,” Roger admitted, “but we need to find a new chaser and keeper, and the whole team should be there. Team dynamics, see how they fit in, you know how it is.”
“So long as I don’t have detention, I’ll be there.”
“Why would you have detention?”
“Don’t get along with Umbridge.”
“Oh,” Roger muttered. “So you’re the reason we’re coming second to last in house points.”
“Who’s last?” I asked curiously.
“Gryffindor, but I swear to Merlin, Athena, if we slip below them, it’s on your head.”
“Aye aye, captain,” I muttered, turning my attention pointedly to my Transfiguration homework.
“Athena Selwyn!” Fred called jovially as he passed me in the hallway.
I looked at him suspiciously. “What did you do, rig the Quidditch Cup?”
“Now that is a good idea. No, I thought I’d let you know we’ve perfected the Skiving Snackboxes, tested them on some willing volunteers—”
I raised my eyebrows.
“First years,” he admitted, before ploughing hastily on, “and we’ve found—”
“You tested them on firsties?”
“We’ve already been lectured by Hermione, thank you very much…”
“Did you pay them?”
“Of course we did, we—”
“Understandable,” I interrupted. “Firsties would be naïve, of course, and they wouldn’t ask much in terms of payment.”
“Exactly,” he agreed, nodding. “Now, which ones would you like? We’ve got Puking Pastilles, Nosebleed Nougat, Fever Fudge and Fainting Fancies…”
“I like the idea of fainting, sounds quite dramatic.”
“They’re all quite dramatic. But I suppose the Fainting Fancies are the least messy of them all…Unless you happen to hit your head on something as you fall, for which we claim absolutely no responsibility.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Noticed Ravenclaw’s down in points,” he continued, grinning.
“Yeah, and Gryffindor’s further down.”
“Got any detentions yet?”
“Ha, yeah, funny story, that.”
“Well, I told Roger I’d be at Quidditch trials, unless I got a detention.”
“And you got a detention.”
“Yeah, pretty much. So that’s tomorrow night.”
“And the day after is our Quidditch trial, and Harry’s got a detention then, and Angelina’s spitting acid.”
“Well, it’s not like you were going to get a better seeker anyway.”
“Do my ears decieve me?” he asked incredulously. “Did you just compliment a member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team?”
I shrugged. “You guys are the strongest team in the school, I would be stupid not to admit it. I like to think we’re well matched, though.”
“Well matched indeed,” he said, winking at me.
I raised one eyebrow. “I was referring to Quidditch.”
“You think I was referring to something else? Oh Athena, that Ravenclaw pride is getting to you.”
I didn’t bother responding. “The Skiving Snackboxes, then.”
“Right here.” He pulled out a handful of small boxes.
“Twelve Sickles, a special starting price. Normally a Galleon a packet.”
“A Galleon?” I repeated.
“Hey, there are ten pieces per packet. That’s enough for a fortnight of most classes, and in your case, two and a half months of Astronomy.”
I dug into my pockets, pulling out a handful of Sickles. “I’ll be back in two and a half months, then.”
“Not tempted to get out of Defence Against the Dark Arts?”
“I’ll be back in a month.”
I couldn’t get that damn comment out of my head, and I had no idea why.
Well matched indeed.
I rolled my eyes. Stupid of me to word it that way, especially around Fred Weasley who would find a way of twisting “I had Transfiguration last today.” Embarrassment was not an emotion or state of mind I particularly enjoyed.
You thought I was referring to something else? Oh, Athena, that Ravenclaw pride is getting to you.
Looking back after several hours, that line still made me cringe. Had I really suggested that I thought Fred liked me? Merlin’s pants, no. I didn’t want him to like me, anyway. I had enough trouble with Jason Samuels, the other Ravenclaw beater, who had been proclaiming his love for me since third year. And he refused to move on, because apparently as long as I remained single, he was in with a chance.
Because I did not date. Full stop. End of story.