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Matters of the Hart by Flavia
Chapter 8 : Mothers, Memories and Muggle Studies
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 7


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I don't own Hogwarts or Muggle Studies or Hippogriffs.  All of that plus anything else you recognise belongs to JK Rowling.

I own my OC's and this storyline...and Sabino =)

Thanks to Deianeira @ TDA for the chapter image.

 

“Apparently it took him four showers to get all that stinksap out of his hair.” 
“Oh that’s a pity, I thought the stinksap made quite an improvement.”
                                    

~James Potter & Tabitha Hart

 




Tabitha loved October at Hogwarts. She loved the chilly mornings and bright sunshiny days. She loved the giant pumpkins that Hagrid grew in his pumpkin patch. She loved watching the flocks of birds flying off as they migrated south for the colder months. She loved watching the leaves on the trees change colour, glowing like the embers of a fire, before they floated peacefully to the ground. But Tabitha Hart’s favourite thing about October at Hogwarts was the crunching noises that the leaves made when she jumped on them. This was something she had grown up doing in the country and it was also exactly how Annie found her one crisp afternoon in early October. She was dancing through a large pile of leaves looking for all the world like a giddy child. 

“Tabby? Tabby, what are you doing?” Annie called, standing near the edge of the sea of leaves. 

“I’m having fun Annie! You should try it sometime!” Tabitha laughed in return, kicking up a large flurry of golden leaves.

“Tabitha Hart! You are going to be late for Care of Magical Creatures and you are going to get leaves all through your hair!” She scolded, her hands on her hips and a teacher-ish look in her eyes. Tabitha, who was having far too much fun to take Annie seriously, grinned at her friend, and then picked up an armful of leaves.

“Oh. Well I wouldn’t want to get leaves in my hair now would I?” She said, and threw the leaves in the air. She spun around as the leaves floated down over her, giggling at the scandalised look on Annie’s face. Deciding however, that it was a bad example if a prefect was late for class, Tabitha skipped out of the pile, leaves caught in her hair and robes, making her look like a slightly lightheaded wood-nymph. Annie tutted at her and began brushing the leaves from her clothes as they made their way across the lawns.

“Annie, you cannot ruin my mood today. It is a beautiful autumn day and we are learning magic in the best place in the world.” Tabitha smiled contentedly at her friend. 

“Tabby would you please hold still so I can get these leaves out?” Annie snapped. “Really, I mean you look like you’ve been rolling around in the woods!”

“So what if I have?” Tabitha replied. “Who cares if I’m getting in touch with nature?”

“It’s not the nature I’m worried about.  I mean they might wonder who you’ve been rolling around with!”

Tabitha stopped walking and turned to look at her friend, a look of utter shock frozen on her face. She stared at Annie for a good ten seconds before she burst out into hysterical laughter.

“Oh Annie! You are hilarious! Who would actually think that? And for that matter, who on earth would people think I’d been…?” She broke off into laughter again and started walking towards Hagrid’s hut once more. Natalie, who was standing with Rowan and Rheydyn by Hagrid’s pumpkin patch, raised her eyebrows quizzically as her best friend danced over, still giggling.

“You’re in a good mood today.” She commented.

“Annie…said…the…funniest…thing!” She gasped, trying to hold her laughter in. “I’ll tell you later.” She added, sobering somewhat as James arrived and glanced at her curiously. Tabitha was saved from any awkward questions at that point though, as Hagrid walked over and began the lesson. They had finished with unicorns and were now looking at Hippogriffs.

“Used ter show these in third year, but ah, well they can be a bit dangerous an’ well I figure yeh’re all old enough now ter follow the rules…” Hagrid rambled off. He led them to a paddock nearby where several, regal looking Hippogriffs were grazing. Though she had seen pictures of them in her books, Tabitha couldn’t help but feel amazed by the sight of them. They were very large and had the hind quarters of a horse, but the top part looked like a giant eagle. A large, bronze coloured one stretched its wings lazily and gave a little shake. Tabitha smiled as she was reminded of her dog, Bosco. Hagrid explained the correct way to approach them and selected a Slytherin girl to demonstrate the bowing procedure. 

“What have you been doing Hart?” James asked, sidling up next to Tabitha. “Do you know that you have half the forest in your hair?” He reached over and picked a leaf from her curly blonde mane. As he did, his hand brushed Tabitha’s cheek. The skin burned hot where he had touched her and she felt her cheeks flush pink. Certain that James wouldn’t miss this, she braced herself for his teasing. However, James looked just as embarrassed and quickly turned away from Tabitha, focussing intently on the animals in the paddock. When Hagrid suggested they all have a try at bowing to the Hippogriffs, Tabitha quickly shot as far from James as she could and kept a safe distance for the rest of the lesson.

As they were heading back up to the castle after the class had finished, Annie decided to corner Tabitha about the fact that she hadn’t yet signed the Ball petition.

“I’ve got it here in my bag Tabby; you can sign it right now.” She suggested, although Tabitha thought it sounded suspiciously like an order. She started feeling around in her bag for a quill and the parchment in question.

“Oh, um I’ll do it later Annie. I want to go to the loo before Muggle Studies.” Tabitha said and took off up the stairs into the castle before Annie could say anything else. She ran off so quickly that she got to the Muggle Studies classroom before anyone else. She smiled to Professor Northwood and slid into a seat at a table in the back row. Deciding to make use of the time, Tabitha pulled out a blank piece of parchment and started writing a letter to her father. She was so focussed on the paragraphs she was scribing about Quidditch training and hippogriffs that she didn’t even notice the classroom filling up. She glanced up when someone slid in to the other seat at her table, and her eyes met James’s. 

“Hello Hart.” He smiled. “I see you got rid of all the leaves.” He added conversationally. Tabitha glanced around the room, contemplating a quick escape to another table before the class started, but she realised that every other seat was filled and Professor Northwood was standing in front of his desk, waiting for quiet. She satisfied herself with shooting James an annoyed glance before focussing in on the professor. She thought she heard James chuckle to himself but she chose to ignore it. Although they were still looking at forms of muggle transport, they had moved on to air travel. Professor Northwood spoke to the class briefly before setting them the task of working with their desk partner to draw up the pros and cons of aeroplanes over other forms of long distance muggle travel. James turned to Tabitha with a boyish grin. “So partner, where do we start?” Taking a deep breath, Tabitha opened the text book to the page on cross country transport methods and slid it between them.

“I would say we read this and write it down on a piece of parchment.” She said, trying to remain civil but not quite managing to keep the sarcastic air out of her voice. 

“Right you are,” James replied, unnerved by her icy tone. He pulled a piece of parchment out of his bag and drew it up into two neat columns. Tabitha was surprised at how careful his writing was. She had always pegged him as messy and careless, yet each word was neat and measured. “Hart? I said can you move your arm so I can read the book too?” James said. Tabitha flushed slightly, realising she’d been staring.

“Sorry,” she muttered and pushed the book closer to James. They worked in silence for ten minutes, except for the occasional comment on what they were reading. However, by the time their page was two thirds full of James’s neat writing, he had obviously had enough of the silence.

“So Carter seems to be working well with you and Natalie. You guys really nailed that Porskoff Ploy at practise the other night.” He said, not looking up from the parchment. Tabitha glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and then continued to stare at the book in front of her.

“Yeah, he’s really good. Hopefully we’ll be able to take down Ravenclaw next month.” She replied. A smile broke across James’ face but he still didn’t look at her.

“I can’t wait to beat Shreve. I have a bludger with his name on it.” He grinned. Tabitha couldn’t help but smile as the image of Alexander Shreve getting smacked in the face with a bludger floated across her mind.

“Pity the quaffles don’t hurt very much or I’d be very tempted to aim at him rather than the goal.” She smirked. James chuckled, but both still kept their eyes focussed on the pages in front of them. Tabitha couldn’t concentrate on any of the words though. This was possibly the most civil conversation she had ever had with James off the Quidditch pitch, and even then they were only civil because they were both so determined to win.

“Apparently it took him four showers to get all that stinksap out of his hair.” James continued on one of their few common interests – badmouthing Alexander.

“Oh that’s a pity, I thought the stinksap made quite an improvement.” Tabitha replied. They both snickered and at that moment Tabitha decided to brave a look at James. James had obviously had the same idea, because her eyes met his. His golden brown eyes were the colour of treacle, and they were twinkling in an amused way at her. His lips were curved into a smile, not the smirk he usually reserved for her, but a genuinely charming smile. Tabitha suddenly felt like the bottom had fallen out of her stomach and she ducked her head back down to the text book, letting her hair fall down and shield her face, which she was sure would be glowing red by now. She stared firmly at the page, but the words seemed to swim in front of her eyes. Tabitha couldn’t help but wonder why James was having such an odd effect on her this year. For five years she’d been happy hating him and it had worked for them. Now she wasn’t sure how she wanted to feel about him. It was clear, however, that James wasn’t going to let a little awkwardness stop the conversation. Instead, he just chose a different line of thinking. 

“So why won’t you sign Annie’s petition?” He asked casually. Tabitha looked up at him, forgetting her embarrassment, ready to defend herself, but James cut her off. “Oh don’t pretend with me Hart, I’m not stupid. She’s one of your best friends and in the last month you haven’t had the spare five seconds it takes to sign a piece of paper for her?” Tabitha closed her mouth, not really sure what to say, so James continued.  “What do you have against a Ball anyway? You’ve always seemed like you’re up for fun as much as the rest of us.” Tabitha opened her mouth again, but she couldn’t think of words to fill the empty space between them. 

She didn’t really have an answer for his question; she didn’t know why she was so against the idea of the Ball. She hadn’t been that opposed to it when Annie first mentioned it on the train, so something must have happened to change her mind since then; although for the life of her, Tabitha couldn’t think what. Not being able to come up with an answer, she chose to ignore James’ question in the hopes that he would let the matter drop. This was to be an unrealistic hope, because James simply smirked at her and muttered under his breath (although loud enough that she could hear), “No it’s not fun unless you’re picking fights with the school bully or covered in dead leaves is it?” Tabitha forgot about her embarrassment and glared at him. He feigned a look of innocence, smiling sweetly at her and mouthing the word ‘what?’ 

“Oh just shut up Potter.” She grumbled. James looked as though he was going to continue the conversation, but he was cut off by Professor Northwood, who asked them to name their parchments before submitting them on their way out of the classroom. Tabitha silently packed her things away, furtively watching the way James’ handwriting carefully formed the letters of her name. She slipped out of the classroom ahead of him as he stopped to deliver their work to the professor and made her way through the crowds of students, most of who were heading back to their respective common rooms. She wasn’t quite quick enough though, and as she stepped on to a nearby staircase, James stepped beside her.

“You know Hart, if you’re worried about getting a date, I could be convinced to take you.” He said, a look of mock seriousness spread across his features. Tabitha jumped, startled by both his sudden appearance and his words.

“What?” She gasped, her heart beating a little quicker than she thought was normal.

“The Ball.” He replied simply. “If that’s what has got you so worried, then I might be persuaded to help you out. You know, as a favour.” He looked so arrogant, that Tabitha found her violent streak screaming to slap him. She stopped at the top of the staircase and turned to face him. James stopped to, his expression daring her to scream at him. She wanted desperately to call him a barrage of horrible names and yet when she spoke, her voice was calm, measured and just a little bit dangerous. She stepped closer to James, the adrenaline pumping through her veins. 

“James Sirius Potter.” She began. “If there is a Ball at Hogwarts this year, nothing could compel me to go with you. I wouldn’t go with you even if I was offered ten thousand Galleons, a Firebolt 6.2 broomstick and a lifetime membership to the Holyhead Harpies. I would go with Moaning Myrtle before I went with you.” And with that, she turned on her heel and marched down the hallway, leaving James standing at the head of the stairs, the smirk wiped from his face and replaced with a stunned and slightly crestfallen expression.
 

Tabitha felt proud of herself as she strode down the corridor, resisting the urge to look back at James and gloat. However, as she turned a corner and ducked through a secret passageway that would take her to a shortcut, she couldn’t help but feel the tiniest bit of guilt creeping in. Tabitha Hart wasn’t a mean person by nature; in fact nastiness was a quality she reserved almost exclusively for James Potter and Alexander Shreve. But just before she turned, she had caught the hurt look in his eyes. Her shoulders slumped a bit as she headed down the last corridor to Gryffindor tower. She didn’t mean to be so hurtful; she just couldn’t help herself when he egged her on like that. “Fluxweed.” She muttered to the fat lady and climbed through to the common room. 

“Tabby? You ok?” Natalie, who was standing with Annie, asked.

“What happened to ‘nothing’s going to ruin my mood today’ Tabby?” Annie added. There was a slight bite to her tone and Tabitha couldn’t help but wonder if Annie had worked out what James had implied was so obvious – she was avoiding that Ball petition like it was a pot of devil’s snare.

“Nothing, I’m just a bit tired.” Tabitha mumbled, avoiding Annie’s accusing glare as she slipped up to the dormitories. It had been such a wonderful afternoon, and then stupid James had ruined it with his teasing. It had been alright before the teasing though. She thought as she entered the dormitory and threw herself down on her bed. We’d actually managed a conversation…sort of. With a frustrated groan, Tabitha rolled over and fished her mother’s diary out of her pillowcase. She flipped it open to the last place she had been reading, marked with a small piece of parchment and immersed herself in the soothing words of her mother.

December 25th…oh no I suppose it’s really December 26th 1994

Dearest, Darlingest Sabino,

Oh isn’t life wonderful? Isn’t it just truly, completely, fabulously brilliant? It is, and you know it is Sabino, even if you are just a book that my odd squib of an Aunt gave me. Surely on a night like this, even a simple book like you must feel the magic in the air.

Tonight was absolutely perfect Sabino. Positively perfect! I could die in my sleep tonight and I would die the happiest girl in the world! And it’s Christmas too! Oh I don’t think I could be much happier! And what has made this perfect evening so perfectly perfect? Why the wonderfully, glorious, brilliant stroke of inspiration known as the Yule Ball!

Tabitha let out a small gasp. A Ball? Her mother hadn’t mentioned a ball before, had she? Tabitha quickly flipped back through the preceding pages, but nowhere did Annabeth write of a Ball. It was odd – almost as though her mother was trying to speak to her from the pages of this diary, to give her some motherly wisdom…

Tabitha shivered slightly and turned back to the original page.

Oh I know I didn’t really care much about the Ball before tonight Sabino. The truth is, I only went because everyone was going and I didn’t want to be left alone in the common room with a group of first years and miss out on all the stories. Plus I like to dance and there was that rumour about the Weird Sisters coming…

Anyway! I went, and I wore my lemon coloured dress robes, the ones with the little glittering stones sewn on. A group of us from Hufflepuff decided to go together all as friends, rather than pairing off. So we went down to the Great Hall and it was all decked out with amazing decorations, and we all sat at this little round table and ate scrumptious food and laughed like crazy. Ernie McMillan was telling the funniest jokes…really I didn’t think he had it in him! And then Susan kept blushing at Justin and he asked her to dance and she was shaking so much! And then we all had a dance once the Weird Sisters came on – and they were just divine! But all of this pales in comparison to what happened next. Andrew Peterson, that truly gorgeous Sixth year boy, came over and asked me to dance. ME!!! Hannah looked like she was going to drop dead from the surprise of it and I suppose I probably did too, but I went and danced with him and we danced four dances! He is so much cuter close up and he kept saying funny things to me and one of the dances was a slow dance and he put his arm around my waist! Oh Sabino it was just wonderful! Then the Ball ended and we had to go, but he thanked me for the lovely dances and then he…wait for it…kissed me on the cheek! I was so embarrassed, I think I turned bright red, but oh Sabino it was amazing! I can’t believe he danced with me and kissed me too. I can’t believe I almost didn’t go tonight! I am so glad I changed my mind, it was such a perfect night!

Tabitha couldn’t read anymore because the diary had slipped from her lap and landed with a soft thud on her bedspread. Annabeth’s delirious, late night recount of the Yule Ball had caused Tabitha to realise why she had been avoiding Annie and all talk of the ball. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go, she just didn’t want to go alone. After all, Annie always had a string of boys vying for her attention, Natalie had spent the best part of term making eyes with Rowan (although they both seemed to be under the impression they were completely inconspicuous!) and even Rheydyn had a few boys who would take her in an instant. James’ words on the stairs had made her so angry because there was, though she hated to believe it, a glimmer of truth in them. What if we have a ball and nobody asks me? She thought to herself. Tabitha might have seemed confident and popular to everyone else, star Quidditch player, model student and now Gryffindor prefect; but deep down, she was just an insecure little girl. She picked up the diary again and found the page decorated with little snowflakes and hearts.

I can’t believe I almost didn’t go…such a perfect night!

Tabitha was always telling herself that she wanted to be just like Annabeth, that one day she would make her mother proud. Well now she had her chance! Acting quickly, before her inhibitions stepped in, Tabitha slid the diary back inside her pillow and dashed out of the room. She bounded down the stairs and into the common room, where she saw Annie, Natalie, James and Rowan sitting by the fire.

“Annie!” She gasped, breathless from the excitement and her sudden mad dash down the stairs. Annie looked up at her, obviously still annoyed, but curious at the change in her friend’s behaviour.

“Yes?”

“Have you still got the petition? The Ball petition?” Tabitha vaguely noticed James’ intrigued stare out of the corner of her eye and she felt the urge to run away, but she was determined to live up to the memory of Annabeth Trevena. 

“Um, yes. Why?” Annie asked, curiosity now completely overruling any other emotion.

“Because,” Tabitha grinned, “I want to sign it.”

 




AN: I hoped you enjoyed this chapter, my apologies for my apalling handle on Hagrid's accent...really not my strong point!

Thanks to all those who have been reviewing...please continue to review, I appreciate it so so so much!
 
 


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