“I’m dead,” Neel declared as he sat down at the breakfast table beside me.
“You look pretty alive to me!” Grace said though a mouth of toast.
I gave her a look, and put down my tea to take a good look at Neel. A glance verified his claim and more. Simply put, he was a disaster. His hair wasn’t brushed, he had huge circles under his eyes and it looked like his sweater was on inside out. “What’s wrong?” I used my most sympathetic voice, knowing that if i didn’t lay it on think, he would bite my head off.
“I know!” Meera sang out, sitting down on the other side of her twin. “Neely had quite a long night.” I could have kicked her. If we were going to get out of this alive, antagonizing Neel was not the way to go. And she should know it. She didn’t even have an excuse! She looked nothing like her brother: instead, Meera was the picture of good health. Her hair was sleek and shiny, her dark skin was clear and radiant. Her clothes were as impeccable as always.
Neel gave her one look and reached for a pot of tea. “Shut it,” he snapped.
Meera sniffed primly. “Don’t be mad at me just because I got sleep last night. And watch it!” she added angrily when he began to pour tea onto her plate. “Git!”
“Sorry, love,” Neel drawled, in a tone that indicated he obviously wasn’t sorry at all.
“Right,” Meera rolled her eyes, picking up her things and moving so that she was sitting next to me.
Grace giggled, always one to make light of the situation. “Up all night, already? It’s only the first week!”
“Yes,” Neel ground out, now furiously buttering a scone. “Bloody Divination.”
“That’s a girls’ class, you know,” a voice from behind me said. I turned around to see the small figure of a third year girl, wearing Ravenclaw colours.
Neel spun around one the bench, then stopped, surprised at the girl’s size. “Who the hell are you?” he snapped, seemingly trying to cover his shock.
The girl visibly shank into her robes, looking as if she regretted her comment. “M-my name’s Fiona D-Davies.”
“Do you know who I am, Miss Davies?” Neel asked very quietly, his dark eyes boiling with anger.
Fiona sort of trembled in place, her face paling considerably, so that it almost matched her white blonde hair. “N-neel P-p-patil.”
He nodded patronizingly. “That’s right. I am N-neel P-p-patil. And I’m also a Prefect. So I’d watch who you were insulting.” He looked her over again, as if assessing her for threats. “Now get your arse back where it belongs!”
“Yessir,” Fiona mumbled and practically ran in the opposite direction.
“Neel!” I turned to him. “You can’t just scare them like that.”
“Watch me!” he spat, turning his annoyance onto me.
Grace rolled her eyes, “We just did. And honestly, if you’re going to act like such a boar, I’m going to leave. It’s your own damn fault that you saved the essay till last night.”
“Yeah, I got that,” Neel snarled, biting into a bit of toast angrily. “And besides,” he continued. “Divination isn’t just a girls’ class!”
“”Course it’s not,” Meera said sarcastically. “But really, face it Neel, we both know it’s a rubbish class. And that you’re only taking it because Mum insisted. You don’t have to pretend to defend it. Honestly, I don’t know why you even try.” The twins’ mother was a bit of a divination freak, and had absolutely insisted that her children take the class. Meera had purposely flunked the OWL, so she wouldn’t have to continue, but Neel, always the over achiever, had received an E therefore having to endure the NEWT level classes.
“Back me up, here, Vicky!” Neel turned to his right to glare at me. “Please tell my darling sister that she’s wrong.”
I glanced between the two, Meera, to my right, looked expectant. To my left, Neel was boiling. “Um,” I stalled. “I think I’m biased since I never took the class.” I said quickly off the top of my head, desperate not to have to choose between them.
But now Meera rounded on me. “You little liar!” she scoffed. “Pick already! It’s not a hard question. Especially if you pick the right answer.” The last bit was accompanied by a glare in Neel’s direction.
I smiled weakly at them, hoping that they might just forget about the whole thing. If only I knew how to perform a memory modifying charm. Hell, even a Confundus charm might do the trick!
“Vicky!” both twins called at the same time.
I winced, glancing around for some help. Grace was picking at her fingernails, looking anywhere but at me. Some help she was.
In desperation, I turned around, only to see that a familiar blonde head was approaching, so I started to answer, “Well, I’d have to say that...”
But in the nick of time, my response was cut off by a very livid looking Dom. “Vicky,” she hissed angrily. “Where are my galleons?”
Grace suddenly took a huge gulp of tea and Neel turned to talk with Meera animatedly about, it figures, Divination. “What galleons Dom?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could. Thank Merlin that I wasn’t one to blush, otherwise, my face would have been scarlet.
She narrowed her icy eyes. “From Maman.”
I shrugged at my “dear sister’s” tact . “I don’t know. Maybe you’re making a mistake. I certainly didn’t get any from her.”
I felt my sister’s gaze grow colder and furious. A typical Dom Weasley stare was about as warm as a swim in the Great Lake at Christmas time and this was only the beginning. “Victoire! Tu as tort!” You are wrong!
“Dominque,” I mocked her tone of voice and choice of language. “J’ai raison.” I’m right.
She glared down at me. I glared up at her, wondering if it would be childish of me to stand up on the bench, so I could look down on her. Probably.
Alright, so maybe she did have a reason to be angry with me, but if my mother was going to be awful to me and nice to Dom, I had the right to even the field a little bit, right? The letter was addressed to me after all.
“You have a raisin?” Grace interpreted my thoughts. “What’s that got to do with galleons?”
I love Gracie.
Dom shifted her gaze from me and turned her fury onto my friend. “Mind your own business,” she snapped. “When I talk in French, it’s because I don’t want you to understand me.” Did I mention that my sister has quite a temper?
I rolled my eyes. “Dom, you’re being ridiculous,” I purposely switched to English, just to spite her. “You can’t just charge over here, demanding that I give you something that I don’t have.”
My sister swung her long silvery blonde hair in a very good imitation of Mum. “I don’t know why I bother with you, Victoire,” she said icily and pranced off, looking, for all the world, like my mum. All she needed was a French accent and I might as well have started calling her “Fleur.”
I watched her stalk off, watched all the boys’ heads turn as she passed, then turned back to the table, feeling defeated even though I’d won. Merlin, why did she have to be so, so perfect?
“What a bitch!” Meera said with a shake of her head, abandoning her conversation with her brother as quickly as she had started it. “Why would she even think that you had her galleons?”
Normally I would have defended Dom, but I just couldn’t. She had been a bitch, even if I’d taken the money. “Cause Meera,” I said resigned. “I do.”
The girl’s face fell into a comical expression of surprise. “You do? How?”
I shook my head. “I don’t really want to talk about it.” What with Dom already making me feel guilty, the last thing I needed was to be depressed about my mother.
I watched as my friends exchanged a few glances that I took to mean ‘let it be.’ “Oh, look at the time!” I said in high pitched voice. “I need to go to class.”
“Alright,” Grace nodded. “See you at lunch?”
As I walked up the stairs, away from the Great Hall, I felt guilt welling up. Dom had, after all been right. But, I did need the money. And with all the little presents Mum always sent Dom, she certainly didn’t. I wondered if I should write Mum back, or even send a letter to Dad, but the idea alone made me nervous. Whatever I ended up writing would be analyzed by Mum, then twisted into some horrible crime.
And Dad, as much as I loved him, was no help when it came to Mum. I swear, they were still so in love that neither of them could see fault in the other. Mum could banish me from the house and Dad would just shrug and kiss her, or something equally disgusting and sentimental. He would think I was exaggerating or trying to get attention. While Dom isn’t Dad’s favourite child, neither am I. He’s much more partial to his only son.
Other than my friends there wasn’t anyone else I could talk to it about it. Merlin knows that my extended family was out of the question. Aunt Ginny and Aunt Hermione aren’t very fond of Mum, so they’d probably side with me, but things something get a bit tense between them and Mum anyways, and I don’t really want to pit them against each other. Harry and Ron, my uncles, and Ginny and Hermione’s husbands respect my family and again, like Dad, would think I was going for attention. Grandma Weasley would, of course, fuss and fuss, making way too big a deal about everything. Grand-mère and Grand-père Delacour always, always side with Mum. The only other relative I could think of, who might be any help at all was Mum’s sister, Gabrielle.
She and Mum had been inseparable when they were younger, but Gabrielle lives in France and I hardly ever see anymore. She, alone might be unbiased enough to believe me and offer me some advice. After all, she grew up with Mum, she had to have managed her somehow.
“Weasley, looking nice today!” A voice called from my left, breaking my train of thought.
I spun around to see a Slytherin boy lounging against a pillar, watching me with his cold eyes. “What do you want, Walters?” I snapped.
He shrugged and walked over to where I’d stopped. “Just commenting on your natural beauty, love.”
I gave him the meanest glare I could manage. “Try telling that to your girlfriend. See what she says to that.”
Thomas Walters shrugged his arrogant shoulders. “What Isabel doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Besides, it’s not as if I’m cheating.”
“Go away,” I snapped. “I don’t want to talk to you, you arrogant git.”
Walters pursed his lips, “That’s not very nice, Victoire.”
“No, it’s not, Thomas. But you’re not very nice either.”
“Bitch.” He spit the word like it was a slap to my face.
“Go to hell, Walters.” If the Slytherin boy was going to be so stupid as to antagonize me, he was going to feel my wrath. I could cast a hell of a hex: he’d be in the hospital wing for weeks.
He ran a hand through his sandy hair with a careless smile. “Already been there and back, love. It was a bit too tame for me.”
I rolled my eyes and started walking again. “Nice pickup line,” I said sarcastically.
He followed me without a comeback and finally, as I moved to climb another flight of stairs, he grabbed my arm. “Get off of me!” I yelled, jumping in surprise.
“Calm down, Weasley,” he said, removing his arm. “I just wanted to ask you a question.”
“What is it?” I snapped, taking several steps away from him. No need for us to be so close.
“Go to Hogsmeade with me weekend next?” He gave a slyly suggestive smirk and crossed his arms as he waited for my response.
“No.” I answered coldly. “What about Isabel, anyways? What would she say about that?” I didn’t give a damn about Isabel and what she would say, but I knew that her mention might, hopefully make Walters behave.
“For you, love, Izzy and I could be over. What d’you say?”
“Go. To. Hell.” I repeated, fed up with the whole matter suddenly. “And in case what I said before didn’t penetrate your thick skull that means no. I won’t go out with you. I wouldn’t if you were the last goddamn man on earth.”
“Language, Weasley,” he chided, pointing to the shiny green prefect’s badge on his chest. “I could give you detention for that.”
I simply rolled my eyes, knowing that he wouldn’t dare. “I couldn’t go to Hogsmeade with you, then, could I?”
His eyes lit up almost imperceptibly, “Is that you changing your mind?”
“No,” I shook my head and walked away without another word. Thomas Walters could ask me out as many times as he wanted, I was never going to agree. Slytherins in general were a slimy lot, but someone like Walters, a womanizing, cheating git, was the worst.
“Tough luck, mate,” I heard another boy call to Walters.
He responded with several loud curses that caused the two first year girls coming towards me turn around and take a detour. “Don’t mind him,” I whispered to them as I passed by. “He and his mates have been practicing the Calming Charm but I don’t think they’re too good at it.”
“Oh,” one of the girls squeaked. “That makes sense.”
I glanced at their yellow and black socks and smiled friendly at them, even though I wanted to scowl.
“Thanks,” the other girl said, in a slightly less squeaky voice.
I forced another smile (toothless and small) and headed to class, not caring if I was going to be early. At least I would be away from the idiots who roamed Hogwart’s halls.