Socially, Terry Boot had always considered himself a bit of a failure.
If he was confronted with books or an exam, he immediately became flushed with excitement, over-eager, and acted like a child on Christmas morning. But when it came to interacting with other human beings, he froze up, made awkward gestures and, in general, made an ass of himself.
Books he liked, but people. The thought of trying to talk to an actual person made him break out into a cold sweat.
Even the intellectual debates on the advantages of starting revisions in February verses March, or the heated discussions about class rankings the other Ravenclaws always had at the dinner table – which should have been right up his alley, if he could have managed to get a word in edgewise – were completely out of his depth.
This sort of social ineptitude had resulted in Terry gradually being shunted off to the end of the house table to sit by himself like the creepy loner that he was.
It wasn’t so bad. Usually he kept himself company with a book, and by the time he was in Fifth Year, Terry had gotten rather attached to his solitary routine. He was rather put out one Tuesday when, as he was opening his brand new copy of the biography of Wendelin the Weird, someone dropped down onto the bench across the table from him with a loud huff.
“If I have to listen to Cho say one more bloody thing about Harry Potter I think I may have an apoplectic fit and curse all her hair off.”
Over the top of his book, Terry thought he recognized the blonde fuming across from him as one of the Sixth Year girls that hung around with Cho Chang. She was fairly pretty, with a thin sort of face and a pair of deep-set gray eyes, but her mouth was unattractively pinched tight in irritation.
Terry tried to ignore the girl’s raging as she began to load her plate with food. He thought he saw some kind of sandwich amalgam that involved chocolate spread and cream cheese out of the corner of his eye, but hoped he was mistaken. Girls were weird.
“Pass the crisps please.”
Terry pushed the bowl towards her gingerly and tried not to make eye contact. In his limited experience, girls were a bit like angry bulls: if you didn’t look them in the eye, they sometimes forgot you existed and left you alone.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work.
The girl asked him absently, “Is that the new Wendelin the Weird biography?”
Terry made a vague sort of noise and turned a page, attempting to look too engrossed in The Woman of a Thousand Faces: The Many Lives of Wendelin the Weird to participate in a conversation.
“It’s total rubbish,” she said, not seeming to care if he was trying to read about Wendelin’s questionable childhood as a wandering Gypsy that had given her a lifelong fondness for disguising herself with bushy beards. “If I was you, I wouldn’t even bother. I read it already and it was worse than trying to bash your own head in with a rock.”
Terry looked up at her at last, eyes widening, and adjusted his glasses eagerly. “You’ve already read it? How? It just came out this week! I only got it in the post this morning.”
Shrugging and piling crisps inside her sandwich, she explained, “My stepfather is in publishing. Tries to win me over by sending me books before they’re released to the public. It’s very convenient. But he’s still a bloody git.”
She smashed her hand down on top of her crisp-filled sandwich roughly and he winced at the loud crunch that followed.
The wheels in Terry’s brain were turning at top speed. Getting books before they were printed? The opportunity was almost to good to pass up.
Clearing his throat, he set the large book aside and tried to school his face into a sort of concerned expression. In reality, he mostly just looked constipated. “So what, erm, happened? You know. With –“
He gestured towards the group of Sixth Year girls chattering away down the table awkwardly to cover the fact that he actually didn’t know any of their names.
The blonde shot a glare down the table and said thickly (with a mouth full of sandwich), “Well, Cho started going on and on about how much she likes Harry, like she’s been doing nonstop for the last month, and I finally told her that every time she did that it made me feel like vomiting all over the table and that I’d rather try and burn all the flesh off my face with the left over stomach acid than listen to her talk about him again.”
Terry blinked at her, trying not to picture it, but felt his stomach heave a bit anyway.
“And then she went into some kind of hysterical strop –- you know how she can be –- “ (Terry didn’t) “ --- and said if listening to her talk about Harry Potter was really that horrible, I could just go somewhere else so I wouldn’t have to hear it. So here I am.” She took a vicious bite out of her chocolate-cream-cheese-crisps sandwich and muttered darkly, “Stupid bint.”
After chewing thoughtfully for a moment, she suddenly said, “Bacon! That’s what’s missing. I knew something was off!” She snatched a few strips off the meat platter and stuffed them into her sandwich haphazardly. “You’re that Fifth Year that never talks, right? Terry Boot?”
Terry paused. “Er, sure.”
“You know, you’re really awkward.” She had said it cheerfully, but Terry felt his face start to heat in embarrassment. Served him right for trying to make friends with –- “I like it. I’m Johnny –- and if you tell me that’s a boy’s name too, I’ll brain you with the pepper grinder.”
Terry looked at her warily, trying to gauge the truthfulness of her statement. She seemed harmless enough as she munched on her repulsive lunch concoction happily.
“So my friends are all crap,” Johnny said suddenly, “and you don’t seem to have any in the first place. Want to go to Hogsmeade with me tomorrow instead?”
Terry blinked at her again owlishly through his glasses.
“Scrivenshaft’s is having a sale on self-color-coding ink.” She half-smiled at him and said coaxingly, “You know you want to go.”
Terry had agreed, wondering what on earth he had gotten himself into.
When he really thought about it, Terry realized that it shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.
He rationalized that it was because Johnny wasn’t so much a person as she was a great big walking ball of self-perpetuating psychosis, which made it possible for him to have a conversation with her without having social spasms, while Johnny insisted that Terry’s complete social ineptitude was rendered ineffective against her “easy-going” personality.
Whatever the reason, Terry and Johnny had ended up being friends.
It was also, understandably, a rather unexpected turn of events and their classmates had a bit of a hard time understanding what had happened. The most normal reaction was that people thought they were dating, to which Johnny usually replied that she would rather swallow a hive of live wasps whole, and Terry (showing that he really had been spending too much time around Johnny) said he’d sooner go to bed with a lethifold as a comforter (of course, the meaning of this was lost on most people because they didn’t know what a lethifold was, but Johnny insisted that he was making progress).
As it was, Terry had someone to study with, and Johnny, who didn’t so much study as she did devour anything with text on it (Terry cursed her stupid photographic memory to hell and back multiple times daily while he slaved over class notes), had someone to be around that was neither female nor boy-crazy, and in the end, Terry decided that was nice.
By the time Terry’s Sixth Year (Johnny’s Seventh) was drawing to a close, they had developed a routine of sitting on the edge of the Astronomy Tower together each night to escape the stressful melting pot of lunacy that was the Ravenclaw common room near exam time.
Terry took a deep breath of fresh air, attempting to recite all the ingredients found in Gregory’s Unctuous Unction in his head for his Potions exam the next day, and tried to ignore the fact that Johnny was smoking next to him.
“Want one?” She held the pack out towards him.
Terry wrinkled his nose in prim disgust at the box.
“No. I like my lungs just the way they are.” He watched as she pressed the tip of the new cigarette to the old. “And you shouldn’t chain-smoke. It’s bad for you.”
“Oh please, don’t be such a nancy. Just be glad I haven’t moved up to smoking billywigs. Then you’d really have to worry. Gateway drugs and all that useless drivel.” She sighed and the wreath of smoke that enveloped her shone silver in the moonlight.
Rolling his eyes at her, Terry said, “Some Ravenclaw you are. You’re supposed to be smart enough to know that that’s a nasty habit that’s going to kill you someday.”
Truthfully, he knew he sounded a bit like a broken record.
Terry had been trying to get Johnny to stop smoking from the day she started, even threatening to flush her pack of Muggle cigarettes down the toilet if she didn’t quit.
Instead, she had gone into an apocalyptic display of histrionics in the middle of the common room, insisting it helped with NEWTs stress and her options were either that, throwing herself off of the Astronomy Tower to put herself out of her misery, or dropping out of school altogether to avoid taking the NEWTs and becoming a depraved showgirl, leading a life that was on a constant downward spiral towards hopeless debauchery.
The entire common room had stared at her, momentarily distracted from studying –which was a true feat during exam time – and someone had sympathetically pressed a vial of Calming Concoction into her hand. Terry, however, had given her a look through his glasses that showed he thought she was being overly dramatic and told her that was a rubbish plan because she would make a dreadful showgirl anyway, mostly because she danced like a squirrel that sustained itself solely on speed.
“Well, the way I see it, there’s nothing like going down in flames, eh?” Johnny laughed, raising her eyebrows. Terry smiled grudgingly at her pun.
Then her lips tightened for a moment, her face uncharacteristically serious. “Might as well, the way things are going these days. Whole bloody world’s fallen to crap anyway.”
“Well put. The way you have with words, has anyone ever told you that you should be a politician?”
“Professor Snape told me that just last week after I blew up Vaisey’s cauldron for calling me a psychotic tart. Didn’t I tell you?” Her mouth curled around the butt sarcastically. “Said I had a real talent for ‘disruption’ and ‘calling unnecessary attention to myself’. If that doesn’t scream a career in politics, I don’t know what does.”
“Lying. A lot.”
“Yes, that too. I’ll have to work on that.” She thought for a moment. “Do you think telling Professor Flitwick that Cormac McLaggen was the one that charmed his stack of books to scream in pain every time he stood on them last week counts as practice?”
“Wasn’t that you?”
Johnny, Charms prodigy though she was, had a bad habit of acting out in class when she got bored –- which, since she had read almost the entire Hogwarts’ library and could recall every word at will, was pretty much all the time.
She made a vague sort of sound and Terry shrugged. “That’s a terrible lie anyway. There’s no way McLaggen would be able to figure out how to cast that charm. Flitwick would see right through that.”
“True. I’ll think of something else then. Goodness knows going into politics would be more interesting than working as an Enchantress. I looked at the manual they sent me and all of the low-level stuff I’ll be starting out with sounds dreadfully boring.”
She kicked off her shoes and swung her legs over the edge of the tower, letting them dangle out into the open air. “I still can’t believe they’re expecting us all to leave school and work jobs with all this war and You-Know-Who stuff going on.”
Looking down at all the tiny lights of the castle below, Terry was suddenly very glad he had another year of school left.
“You’ll see what I mean soon. Now that you’re seventeen, you’ll have to start looking at careers and pamphlets and trying to figure out how many children you plan on having so you know how much money you’ll need to make. It’s really very dreadful.” She looked down at her toes and wiggled them childishly. “We’re both of age now. Just makes me think, is all. What if something happens to us? Like, say we die in the war. We’ve only just started living, and it would all be over.”
Terry felt his throat go dry. He tried not to think of what was going on in the rest of the world, outside the solid walls of Hogwarts if he could help it. The future, where he would have to get a job, have to grow up and have an adult life of his own, was approaching too quickly for his comfort.
“You know? We’d be done. No shining political career for me. And you would never have a chance to shag Tina McKettelson, which would be such a shame.”
Johnny grinned at him shamelessly and Terry snapped out of his melancholy mood so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. “For the last time, I do not fancy her!”
“Right, and you don’t spend every lunch period staring at her breasts either.”
Terry made an indignant sound, words failing to express how offended he was by the licentious insinuations Johnny was throwing at him.
“Not that I blame you. She’s got a fabulous set of knockers. Hufflepuff girls always do. I just don’t know why you insist on denying it.”
“I do not!”
She smirked. “You don’t deny it?”
“No! I don’t – ugh! You’re impossible.” Terry humph-ed and crossed his arms like an offended schoolgirl and Johnny laughed like a drain. “I don’t know why I talk to you.”
“Sure you do. If it weren’t for me, you’d still be some rule-abiding twit that only looked forward to his next Potions essay.” She flashed him a winning smile. “I’m interesting and exciting.”
“Sure you are. Now I look forward to hearing about how you got detention in Potions instead.”
“Exactly.” Her smile faded as her lips wrapped around the cigarette tightly. “What are we going to do, Terry?”
“Alright, now I remember why you were placed in Ravenclaw. Sometimes I forget, and then you start to wax on philosophically and I remember again.”
They were quiet for a moment and Terry went back to trying to mentally recite Potions ingredients.
“You know, “ Johnny said randomly, taking another drag and looking thoughtful. “My real name is Irving.”
Terry stopped mid-list and made a face that was half disbelief, half revulsion. “Isn’t that a guys name?”
“No. Apparently it’s Gaelic or something. “ She rolled her eyes. “You know how my dad is.”
He snickered. “Irving.”
Jabbing her cigarette at him, Johnny threatened, “You tell anyone else that and I’ll personally see to it that everyone we know hears about when you wore your mother’s high heels around the house.”
“I told you. That was one time.” Terry pouted, feeling victimized, and muttered, “Just wanted to see what it felt like.”
“Yeah, but they don’t know that,” she said, smirking at him through a cloud of smoke. “Everyone will assume it is your secret dream to strut around Hogwarts in heels because you think they bring out the softer side of the uniform.” She made a sort of flouncing motion with her hands that was apparently supposed to represent the uniform’s ‘softer side’ but mostly just looked like she was impersonating an extremely homosexual hairdresser.
“I do not!” Terry squawked. That thing with the heels had been purely to acquire scientific evidence that wearing shoes like that was what made women so incredibly irrational. “A guy wears woman’s shoes once and suddenly, he’s a cross dresser. What is it with people? Where’s the gender liberation our generation is supposed to be experiencing?”
Leaning back against the cold bricks, Johnny picked at her fingernails. “Terry, last week, you told everyone Justin Finch-Fletchley might be gay because you thought he kept brushing his hand against yours during Herbology on purpose.”
“It’s a valid concern! Hufflepuffs can’t just go ‘round brushing people’s hands willy-nilly!” Terry sputtered, shuddering at the memory. He didn’t like when people he didn’t know touched him. Actually, he didn’t really like it when anyone touched him. The whole Hufflepuff thing just intensified the problem. “And he was always fluttering his eyelashes at me!”
As though they had had this conversation too many times to count (which Terry thought was a bit rich), Johnny rolled her eyes and said, in a bored way, “He was your Herbology partner, so I would imagine there would be some kind of hand-on-hand action. Also, Justin is Muggle-born and wears contact lenses. Maybe he was having problems with them. Not everyone at Hogwarts who has eyelashes is trying to charm their way into your heart, Terry.”
“Contact what? What does that have to do with anything?”
Johnny didn’t reply, seeming content to let Terry be outraged all on his own. She said he always did it well enough for two people anyway.
“Seriously, Johnny.” Terry leaned forward to get a better look at her face and asked earnestly, “Who was your Potions partner last year?”
She thought for a moment before replying, “Denise Cadwallader.”
“Right. Hufflepuff!” he cried, ignoring Johnny’s sniggering. “What would you do if she started making eyes at you during class?”
“Probably nothing.” She ashed her cigarette on the floor between them, the glowing ember going dark against the stone, and paused. “Well, I don’t know. She’s pretty fit. I might look into it.”
Terry made his scandalized schoolgirl noise again. “Even if I was…well, you know, I would never ‘look into’ someone like Justin Finch-Fletchley. Hufflepuffs are completely absurd.”
“Leave the poor Hufflepuffs alone, Terry. You sound like a picky old maid. If you keep on like that, everyone will go back to not liking you again.”
“What if I don’t care if people like me?”
“Don’t be stupid. Everyone cares if other people like them.”
Terry humph-ed in the annoyed sort of way he always did when she was right and he didn’t want her to know that. It wasn’t that he cared what people thought, not really. But before, everything had been so incredibly dull. “Sure…Irving.”
“I’m serious. I’ll actually kill you if anyone else finds out about that from you.”
“It’s really not much worse than Johnny. That’s a boy’s name as well, if you weren’t aware.” She scoffed at him, shaking her head, and thankfully did not attempt to brain him with her shoes. “Then what was the point in revealing it to me if I’m not allowed to tell people?”
Terry said the word ‘revealing’ with great relish, as if she had divulged a grand state secret or something.
“I don’t know. I just…it’s you, isn’t it? It’s us. I don’t like to run around admitting it, seeing as you’re a stupid Sixth Year and I’ve no idea how it happened, but we’re sort of a team or something. Aren’t we?”
“We both know you only talk to me because you can’t stand having another conversation about Harry Potter’s hippogriff tattoo.”
“True. Cho is smart, but sometimes she gets…distracted. You should be quite flattered though. Once she said she thought you looked a lot like Harry Potter.” Johnny nudged him with her shoulder. “Maybe there’s a chance there, eh?”
Terry was horrified right down to his wristwatch at the very thought.
“I’d sooner snog a Blood-Sucking Bugbear,” he said flatly.
“Ooo, nice one!” Johnny praised and elbowed him again in the ribs tauntingly. “But really. You and Cho? You don’t see that happening? I think it’s a match made in heaven. A Ravenclaw power couple in the making!”
He shot a glare at Johnny as she cackled evilly and went on to describe exactly how he and Cho Chang would rule the Ravenclaw Tower with a fist of iron and girlish giggling.
On the whole, Terry decided, best friends were rather useless.
A/N: Terry Boot is my dear darling neglected Hogwarts Era love. He has been in my mind, along with Johnny for AGES and AGES, and I'm so happy that his social awkwardness will now be out for all the world to see. On the other hand, I'm a bit afraid to let everyone read about Johnny, who is insane and everyone keeps telling me that she reminds them of me -- in a good way apparently. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my first one-shot in about a hundred years!
Disclaimer: The wonderful world of Harry Potter is the property of J. K. Rowling and the "For Dummies" franchize belongs entirely to Wiley Publishing. This story is in no way affiliated and I own nothing you recognize.
Write a Review Friendship for Dummies: When Terry Met Johnny (except it's totally not like that at all...)