Chapter 6 : Aftermath
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“I’m telling you, Vicky,” Grace rambled, “You should have gone to Hogsmeade with us. The new bus boy at the Three Broomsticks is, as you would say très cute.”
I wasn’t sure which part of her statement I wanted to rebuke first. But luckily Meera beat me to it. “She doesn’t call people ‘très cute,’ only you do that.”
“Touché,” replied Grace, ironically, in French.
“And,” I added dejectedly, “I’ve already told you, about a million times, why I didn’t come. It’s not like I was working on a paper or had a little tummy ache.”
“Yeah, she was crying her eyes out in a cubby, Grace,” Neel added, somewhat unhelpfully.
“I appreciate your tact,” I said.
Grace simply shrugged. “Still, you missed out.” Somehow, she never managed to see the gravity in situations.
Even a week after the “incident,” I was still shocked that I hadn’t been expelled. For some strange reason, I had received no punishment at all. Though neither had Xander Woods. In fact, besides a few rumours, and death glares from Xander every time I passed him in the hall, nothing had really changed.
Except for the fact that I hadn’t so much as seen Teddy. His confusing remarks, reactions and lack of punishment confounded me. I hadn’t chosen to share our whole conversation with anyone, because it somehow felt too private. Instead, I just told them that he’d been there, and that I’d got off clean once I’d explained it all. Still, it just didn’t ring true.
“Can we just drop the whole matter?” I asked finally, once Grace brought up the question, for the thousandth time of why I wasn’t spending every spare moment in detention. “It’s not like we have loads of free time or anything.”
Meera gave me a thankful look. “Yeah, some of us have to study.” She then returned her nose to the inside of her Transfiguration textbook, her lips moving as she recited some phrase or direction.
“Come on, Meera!” Grace whined. “Can’t you lighten up just one day? You’re always studying. If you do it much more, you’ll turn out like Emmeline!”
I rolled my eyes at that. Emmeline’s study habits weren’t something that you could pick up, you had to born with them. That kind of obsession with school couldn’t be self taught, it was either magic, or genetics.
“The Quidditch match is tomorrow,” Meera said from within the depths of her book. “I won’t have time to study then. So I have to master Switching Spells tonight.”
The word Quidditch brought a smile to her brother’s face. The twins, though not athletes themselves, shared an intense love of the sport. “D’you think Gryffindor’s going to win?” Neel asked and I rolled my eyes. Once they started on Quidditch, there wasn’t much you could do to stop them.
“Of course they are!” Grace declared. “Do you have no house spirit?”
Neel shrugged, “I don’t know. Ravenclaw’s getting good. I’ve heard their new seeker is fantastic. I’ve never seen her fly before though. Her name’s Davies, I think. Fiona Davies. I don’t know her though.”
That elicited a laugh from Gracie. “Isn’t that the poor girl you tormented a few weeks back?”
“No, couldn’t be,” Neel frowned, trying to remember. “Blimey! I think you’re right.” He shook his head. “I’m not sure if I regret it, or if should’ve shaken her up a bit more. Still, if she’s that good, maybe they deserve to win.”
“Don’t say that!” Grace hit Neel over the head. “Polly will be boasting about it for weeks if Ravenclaw does win.”
He smirked at that, his lips drawing into a thin smile. “You’re really worried about the boasting your First Year sister is going to do, Gracie? That’s new, even for you.”
She was saved, however, from having to make a response when Meera took her turn to hit her brother. “Neel! Study! You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
“Oi!” he complained loudly, but opened up his textbook and began to read much in the manner his sister was.
Even Grace went back to reading her magazine, leaving me the only one without something to do. I had very little work left to do, since I’d spent hours last night doing it, rather than watching a heated game of Wizard Chess between Wood and another Seventh Year boy. I considered asking for a magazine or something to read, but figured that that would only start conversation and that I was quite happy with the quiet right now. Silence was a luxury I so rarely had.
However, the silence didn’t last long, for soon the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team, minus the captain, came marching in, dripped in sweat and complaining and cursing up a storm. “He’s a slave driver,” one boy muttered, as he rubbed a large bruise that was forming on his cheekbone.
“No arguments there,” Lola muttered in her usual sardonic voice. “’Lo you lot.”
“Rough practice?” I asked, since the rest of our little group were occupied.
She nodded, using one hand to wipe away a trail of sweat that was about to fall into her eye. “And to top it all off, someone set dung bombs off in the locker rooms, so we all had to head back up here to take showers.” Lola sighed. “I’d better go then, and try and get a stall before the rest of the girls do.”
“Alright,” I replied.
”Wow, Vicky actually had a normal, polite conversation with someone,” Grace commented from behind her magazine.
I raised an eyebrow. “What’s that supposed to mean, exactly?”
“You’re a hot head.” Grace said succinctly.
Meera gave a very heavy and bothered sigh and looked up from her book. “Grace just means that you can get angry sometimes.”
“Really?” I asked, fake sarcastically, “I hadn’t noticed.” That was one of many strange the side effects of having partially mythical parents. My mum’s Veela grandmother made her, and me, temperamental, though I thought I handled it better than Mum. I was less flaky at any rate. And my dad, was some part werewolf. Even though he’d never transformed or anything drastic like that, he had strange preferences when it came to meat and apparently, a stronger temper than before he was bitten. While I like my meat cooked, thank you very much, I suppose I also get a bit of my temper from Dad.
“Well don’t provoke her!” Neel said. “Anyone knows that’s the worst thing to do. You’ve got to keep her calm and happy.”
“Excuse me,” I waved my hands back and forth. “I’m right here! Please don’t talk about me like I’m some sort of wild animal or something. I don’t live a cage. No one has to try and tame me!”
The three shrugged collectively and finally Meera apologized. “Sorry, don’t be offended or anything. We’re your best mates, you know. We’ve got a license to make fun of you.”
“Where can I get one of those?” Louis asked lightly as he approached the group. “That way maybe I’ll survive to adulthood.”
“Shut up,” I swatted at him. “What do you want, shrimp?” Even though I sounded annoyed, I could count on Louis to know when I was kidding.
He shook his head quickly, to reposition his red blonde hair. “Dom sent me. She’s angry with you, again.” He said it so matter of factly.
“Well, what does she want? I already knew that she was mad. She always is.”
“Har, har,” Louis rolled his eyes with too much attitude for a twelve year old boy. “Anyways, she says that she’s writing home if you don’t give her back her money, and that’s a quote.”
I groaned. “Bloody money. Well, you can tell Dom that it’s my money now, and that’s a quote, alright?” Why? Why, why, why did my sister have to be such a pest?
Louis shook his head. “I’m not your messenger, Vicky. If you want to argue with her, you tell her.” Stupid little brother.
I raised an eyebrow. “So you’ll deliver messages for Dom, but not for me? That’s favouritism, that it.” As lightly as I said it, I was slightly hurt by his rejection.
Louis shrugged, “It’s not favouritism. She bribed me,” he admitted with a sheepish grin. Well, that explained it then.
“With what?” Neel asked, laughing lightly, “Chocolate?” Louis was a little bit of a pudgy child.
“I’m not telling,” Louis said, making me immediately suspicious. My brother had a talent for getting into trouble.
“Excuse me?” I asked, trying to sound angry. “Is it something I should be worried about?” With Louis, you never knew what could happen.
“Nah,” he shook his head.
“Have it your way,” I said, then, “If Dom asks what my answer is, you’d better tell her. Because I don’t want her coming up and finding me in the dead of night, or something creepy like that.”
He turned away, laughing. “She would do that.”
And the worst bit was, it was true. Dom had the habit of sneaking up on people when they were least expecting it, to scare them, or to talk with them. She did that to people.
There were three schools of thought when it came to my sister. First, the adults and most of the male gender who would worship her every breath. Then there were the girls who disliked her for her looks. They were the jealous ones, who, no matter how much they talked bad about her, secretly wanted to be exactly like her. The final group, and the one I subscribed to, was the group that found her generally intolerable and fake. Sadly, we were not the majority.
I did love my sister, sometimes, but honestly, we really just didn’t get along all that well. She had always been Mummy’s little angel. There was something about her that was just sweeter, more beautiful and generally better than me. For years, I’d been dumbfounded as to what it was. After all I was only a bit less pretty than she was. But, Dom had charisma and I didn’t. She didn’t just have the Veela type, like I did, she had general, normal charisma that made nearly everyone around her like her.
I sat in the chair, staring idly off into the distance for a few more minutes. It was peaceful, just sitting by the fire, smelling parchment and ink and hearing quills scratching away. Talk was at a low murmur, making me want to sleep. I was drifting off, away, when the portrait swung open and Xander Woods came into the common room.
As if struck by magic, I jumped to my feet. “I’m going upstairs,” I whispered and nearly ran up the girl’s staircase, without waiting for anyone to respond. It wasn’t as if I was embarrassed to see Xander. After all, he was the one in the wrong, not me. I just wasn’t sure if I could control my temper around him. And the last thing I needed was a repeat of the Incident.
At the top of the stairs, I wrenched the door to the dormitory open and slammed it shut, sinking back against the wood as I caught my breath. “Alright there, Vicky?” Lola asked. She was over in the corner by her bed, towelling her hair dry.
I blinked several times, “Oh yeah. Well, sort of.”
She gave me a bit of a look.
“Xander just came in,” I explained finally as I headed over to my bed. The words sounded so petty when they came out of my mouth.
Lola kept drying her hair, but turned her attention more towards me. “Oh yeah? Tell the truth, what’s going on between the two of you? I know something happened last weekend, but was it just a row? A lover’s tiff?”
I choked at that. “No. No, no, no. We’re not dating, nothing like that at all. Merlin, I can’t even imagine that.”
Lola looked relieved at that. “That’s good to know,” she said, sounding happy. “Well what happened then? You’re not really the type of girl to get into fights left and right.”
I thought about her words carefully. “I’d rather not talk about it, alright?”
“Was it about Dom?” Lola’s voice had taken on a depressed quality again. “I know they were snogging at the Welcome Feast, but I hadn’t heard if they were still together.”
“No, it’s not about Dom.” Well, it hadn’t been, not directly.
“Good,” she sounded even lighter with every word I spoke.
That caught my attention. “Wait, Lola, do you fancy him?” I asked incredulously.
I watched as she blushed delicately pink. “Maybe a little, I suppose,” she shrugged. “Nothing serious. Besides, it’s not like he’d ever go for me. I’m not his type. He likes the chesty blonde sorts, like Dom and you.”
I resented that. I wasn’t chesty, certainly not compared to Dom anyways. “He’s all yours,” I promised. If Lola wanted him, let her have him. I wasn’t about to fight her for Xander and I was pretty sure Dom wasn’t either, though, as always, with Dom, you could never be sure.
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