CHAPTER FOUR: we need to stock up on amortentia and devious plots
Libby and I went to breakfast the next day with a game plan in place, ready to go. I would get to Rose ASAP and tell her, very quietly and discreetly, that I agreed to her plan. Libby, meanwhile, would go up to Scorpius and get an answer out of him about Sabrina Urquhart’s involvement. She was really excited about her role in the plan, I could tell by the way she complained about my slow pace getting ready.
“You’re going to screw everything up if you don’t get out of the dorm in the next thirty seconds.”
“Relax, I’m already ready.”
Libby caring about something! Libby being excited about talking to Scorpius, her soulmate! Gosh, it was too good to resist. I practically bounced all the way to the Great Hall, munching on my chocolate-almond croissant. (I could make a killing if I sold my stash of baked goods to the starving Hogwarts populace. But no, I’d never do that, because then what would I eat? It’s my immune system that’d be in danger.)
I stopped bouncing, though, when we got there. Because Rose was already sitting down, and turned to stare at me at the exact second we walked in.
How did she do that?
“How’re you feeling?” Libby muttered to me. “Quaking in your boots?”
“Ugh, no.” I wasn’t wearing boots. “What about you? You up to it?”
She rolled her eyes. Practice for drawing attention to them when she’d be talking to Scorpius Malfoy at eight o’clock in the morning. “Why do you keep acting like me talking with other people is a big deal?” she asked. “Not like I’m the creepy one sitting in the corner judging everyone.”
“But you do sit in the corner and judge everyone.”
“Tactless little twit. You should go, dragon lady looks like she wants to eat your young.”
“Sucks for her. She’d be eating her cousin’s kids.”
“I still find it weird that you’re already fantasising about having his babies.”
“Better be prepared than be taken by surprise!”
Libby pushed me in dragon lady’s direction. “See you during break, girlie.” She even waved to me.
Her happiness would have brought a smile to my face if I wasn’t scared that Rose was going to eat it off me. I hoped that Libby would actually go through with the plan–she had a habit of backing out at the last second just to see me run around like a headless horse–and then walked straight up to the table.
“Morning, Rose!” I squeaked.
She glared at me.
Did I break one of the rules of Rose interaction? Knots formed in my stomach as I thought and thought some more.
Oh. I initiated conversation. That was bad. You couldn’t talk to Rose unless she talked to you first. This was a problem. Huge problem. Started our negotiation on a totally bad foot.
I would be screwed.
But as Rose tried to burn my skin off my bones with just her eyes (it was getting a little warmer, I thought), I stood straighter. I was Izzy Dunham, damn it! I was Hogwarts’ premier party planner. I dealt with selfish house-elves, communist bakers, nihilist best friends, hot boys, and conniving talent agents all the bloody time! I could stand up to a scary dragon lady with the surname Weasley.
She didn’t use my name.
She stood up from the table, causing her entourage to whisper urgently amongst themselves. Then she made a teensy gesture with her hands, and they all fell into deep silence. Miranda Kohl actually clapped her hands over her mouth, she was so scared.
Couldn’t blame her.
Now I really wanted boots to quake in.
Maybe Libby had some.
“Let’s talk in private.” Rose clapped her hand on my shoulder and sort of steered me all the way to where the House hourglasses were. It was a really uncomfortable feeling, like being a pony in a saddle. (I would have to add cancel saddle order to the To Do List. I wouldn’t let magical creature cruelty occur at my party.)
Rose was probably nicer to flying ponies than people.
And this was the girl I was supposed to cheat out of hundreds of Galleons?
The boots would be like riding boots. The better to ride the ponies. They would be simple and pretty and snug, yet with enough room that I could quake comfortably.
Where could I find boots like that?
When we got to the hourglasses, she let me go, but I was too scared to move. I’d be happy if I could stare at the pretty jewels in them all day. They were sparkly. I liked sparkly. I wondered if maybe I could get some from myself. Rubies from the Gryffindor one.
(“Isolde, with this nine karat diamond ring, with a platinum band and seventeen rubies encrusted on it, I thee–”)
“You’ve reached a decision?”
Did I really just have a vision in front of Rose Weasley?
Oh, my God, this will never work.
I’m going to die alone and Albus will die miserable with half-cow Dutch kids mooing at him on his deathbed. Mooing.
“Oh, yes, yes, I have.”
Her nostrils flared. She smelled my fear on my breath. Along with fear, my breath smelled like chocolate and flaky, buttery croissant.
I’d have to nip back to my wardrobe and really treat myself. Pudding or something. Something to reward myself for surviving this.
Do I even have pudding?
Did I eat that in my sleep too?
“What’s your decision?”
Right. Forget croissants. My breath was all fear. My un-booted feet were quaking. “Er, I, um, after a lot of thought… and um, a good deal of consideration… I, er, I’ve decided that it’d be really, you know, really smart to, er, take your–take your deal.”
I squeezed my eyes shut just so I wouldn’t have to see her reaction. Happy Rose was just as scary as Angry Rose, Upset Rose, Infuriated Rose, and Drunk Rose. (Rose was a raging drunk.)
“Oh, that’s great.”
I opened one eye at a time and was relieved to see that she wasn’t being Happy Rose. She had restraint. She was just Satisfied Rose.
Which, really, was more dangerous.
“You’ll get your money in a week or two,” she said. “I’ll let you know.”
A week? Or two? I couldn’t organise my own personal existential love letter to Albus Potter unless I had money! And I couldn’t very well keep asking Faith for it, because eventually she would run out and because Rose would get suspicious.
But asking Rose for an advance was definitely pushing my luck.
“That’s great!” I squeaked. “Whenever you’re ready, no real rush–but, er, I have to go now, I’ve got class all the way–”
But she didn’t care. She stalked back to the Gryffindor table and left me by the hourglasses. She was done with me for the moment.
I let out a sigh of relief.
“Damn, that was awful,” I muttered to myself. I generally don’t talk to myself, because I usually have Libby nearby to talk to instead, and she sort of works as my subconscious, but this was bad. I just took one step on a path to deceiving Rose Weasley. I think I deserve a little leeway in the crazy-actions category.
Speaking of Libby… where is my cynical little subconscious?
I looked around the Great Hall in earnest, then rested my gaze on the Slytherin side.
And… there they were, the three of them. Libby, Scorpius, and Sabrina. The cousins on one side and the Grinch on the other. The lovebirds were the ones doing all the talking–meaning, yes, Libby was involved too.
But I couldn’t tell how negotiations were going. I couldn’t hear them and Libby’s usual deadpan expression wasn’t very expressive for expressions. How was I supposed to know how it was going? How was I supposed to watch Social Butterfly Libby in action? Was I even supposed to?
In the end I decided not to watch. Some things are more important than watching Libby talk with other people. Like my love letter to Albus Potter. But only barely. Believe me, if it was any other client’s party, I’d be creeping on Scorp faster than you can say Did you see that? But Albus deserves the best, and Sabrina Urquhart is the best. So it was better that I didn’t jeopardize the negotiations.
I hate doing the right thing.
Not really. Usually I’m the epitome of morality, you know. No one else will denounce Tristan’s weekly flings, right?
But at this second I do hate it. It’s cheating me out of the opportunity to see what may end up being the most important conversation in all of Hogwarts’ party planning history.
Not that there’s much history to Hogwarts party planning. Back in the day, parties only happened after winning Quidditch matches and stuff. I am Hogwarts party planning history, really.
While I continued thinking these thoughts, keeping a wary eye on the Slytherin table negotiations, I thought about the next phase of my party-planning plan. Should I tell Faith that I wouldn’t be doing this on her terms? That would require returning money. Which I already spent. I began formulating a lie to tell her to explain my predicament.
Hi, you awful pigtail-braided cow, I refuse on principle to do your bidding.
Hi, you Dutch slag. Hire your Amsterdam red-light district mates and you can throw your own bloody party.
Hi, Faith. Sorry, but the party’s off. I’ll tell you why, but I’ll have to kill you.
(I like that one.)
Yeah, hi, Faith, it’s me, Izzy, I just wanted to let you know that there’s something wrong with your paperwork and there’s not enough time to fix it so, you know, no party.
Hi, Faith. Libby died of heart failure because she doesn’t have one. I’m in mourning. No party.
Hi, Faith. Albus hates you, so no party.
Hi, Faith. I can’t do business with you because I don’t want to be seen working for Dutch neo-Death Eaters.
Hi Faith. The day you want to throw your party is the day Albus and I are eloping. You’re not invited.
I actually don’t know where I want our wedding to be.
Destination weddings are gorgeous and would provide amazing honeymoon accommodations, but they seem so clichéd. Plus, not everyone will come all the way to Fiji for me. Bitches be jealous.
It would be romantic in a sort of Gothic way if we got married right here in Hogwarts. Where we met, courted, and fell in love. Wouldn’t that be lovely! But, you know, it’s Hogwarts, and that might weird some people out.
Or maybe our wedding should be simple, in tune with nature, outdoor ceremony, bare feet, under the sweeping canopy of some lovely green forest. Just us, and no one else to intrude on our declaration of love for each other.
He’s a Potter and I’m a party planner. We’re going to have a huge ceremony and reception, make no mistake.
Can we get married at Westminster Abbey? Albus is wizarding royalty, after all. I’m sure he can just Confound the caretakers and whatever so we can borrow it for a day.
I take parties seriously.
“Izzy, close your mouth.”
“Your mouth is open. Close it, please, before someone shoves bacon in it or something.”
My diet did not include bacon. Or any food group that didn’t involve biscuits and jam. So I closed it, and Libby took me by the elbow (bodily contact meant that she was in a good mood) to lead me out the Great Hall. There was still time before class started, but she obviously didn’t want to be overheard squealing about her conversation with Scorpius Malfoy. Would ruin her image.
Once she decided we were in a safe place, I immediately squeaked, “How’d it go?”
She said, “Fine. They’re in.”
“What did Scorp say?”
“He wants forty-five Galleons, because apparently the extra fifteen is his agent cut or something.”
He drives a hard bargain. I like that. “So what did you say?”
“I told him he could bugger off if he thought I’d give that much for just an agent’s cut, whatever that is.”
“So then what’d he say?”
“He said he’d take forty three and ten sickles.”
“So you said…”
“Forty two flat.”
“He took it.”
Libby also drives a hard bargain. I bet he likes that, too. They’re so meant to be it kind of sickens me sometimes. Then I remember that that’d be a typical Libby reaction, so I stop thinking like that and remember to embrace the power of true love.
“So.” I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively. “What was he like?”
“What do you mean? He ate the whole way through. Barely could make out two words, the boy was shoving so much bacon in his mouth.”
“Sexy,” I said. “You think he’s a morning person?”
“He was wide awake. Sabrina, not so much.”
“So you reckon he’s the type to make you breakfast in bed after?”
“You are disgusting.” Her expression, to be honest, was a little bit disgusted. But really, Libby was no judge of character. Or disgustingness. “Have you no shame?”
“Elisabeth, sweetie,” I said, as if explaining to a baby that Albus and I are meant to be together, “I’m hijacking one witch’s present for my own ulterior motives. I’m going to drug Rose Weasley so she never finds out that I’m double-crossing her. Before this second I’ve never heard the word shame.”
Libby withdrew from me and edged away. I think I intimidated her with my honesty. Whoops. “What part of you’re not drugging her is difficult to understand?”
“The part where there is no other way to make sure she never finds out!”
Libby was dumbstruck. I think so, at least. Her dumbstruck face looks a lot like her disgusted face. “You’re the bloody party planner extraordinaire,” she said a bit irritably. “You’re telling me you have no idea how to keep Rose out of Gryffindor Tower on the night of her cousin’s surprise love letter party?” She rolled her eyes. Another favorite expression of hers. Maybe I could teach her some more in psychotherapy. Happy. Ecstatic. Depressed. In love.
“It’s not that I have no other ideas,” I grumbled. “It’s just that they’re all stupid and impractical.”
“Drugging her isn’t?”
“Fred Weasley hates her, too, remember? She tattled to his mum about hooking up with, er, what’s-her-name, the leggy Slytherin? He’s been waiting to get back at her for–”
Libby hung her head, dejected. (Another expression! Success!) “You’re going to use family to turn on family? You know there are other people in this school who have nothing to do with the Weasleys, right?”
“None who matter besides them, us and Scorpius,” I asserted. It was true, really. Have you heard of anyone else?
Exactly. No one matters. Just me, my friends, and the school celebrity clan.
“That’s silly,” she sniffed. “There’s… hmm. Neil. He’s important.”
“Neil Wood?” I made a face. A pleased face, don’t get me wrong, but, like, a worried one too. From far away, Neil was amazing to look at. Right up there with Albus and Scorpius, except he had a normal name. Actually, he was amazing to look at even close up. But he was also… how do I put this nicely?
He was also batshit crazy.
Hot, but crazy.
They say it’s his mum’s fault. But I find it incredible to believe that much unadulterated insanity can be passed through blood alone.
How much fun would it be to psychoanalyze him and Libby?
“You want Neil to drug her?” I asked cheerfully. “I’m sure he’d do it if we paid–”
“Isolde. How many times do I have to tell you this? There will be no drugging. That’s it. I’m going to tell Rose if you try and then she’ll behead you in the Great Hall and eat your eyeballs for high tea.”
I harrumphed, upset. “You brought him up!” I reminded her. “What’d you mention him for, anyway? Hmm?” I crossed my arms. “Do you fancy him, too?” What a pair he and Scorpius made!
Libby has a real domination issue.
“I don’t fancy anyone,” said Libby in her hoity-toitiest tone. “But you know who does fancy a certain batshit someone?”
“Rose fancies Wood.”
Of course she did.
“Of course she does. So what’s your idea exactly?”
Libby was mildly frightened to see that she actually had an idea. Which in effect brought her even deeper into my scheme. If I didn’t think it’d scare her away, like screaming scares away parakeets, I’d cackle at how quickly everything was falling into place.
“Simple really,” she said, in an even lower tone. “Bribe Wood to start taking Rose out.”
“Just on the night of the–”
“No, too suspicious.”
Look at my little Libby, plotting like the big girls! I’m sure her mum would be especially proud.
“He’s going to have to ask her soon. Like…”
“That’s awfully short notice,” I observed in a tone dry enough for toast. “But if he keeps doing it for two weeks–”
“She won’t suspect it when he wants to take her out on Saturday–”
“But wouldn’t he want to take her to the party?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we have to.”
That was totally fine with me.
Author's Note I know, I know, there is no Gina update to go along with the Gubby update. Sadly our writing schedules are not lining up. Literally, not at all. So we're parting ways for now, but think of it this way: lots more Confectionary updates in less time! I have much prewritten for this, and I'm really super excited about where this is going. Thanks for reading, as always.
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