Chapter 1 : Simply All a Dither
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This has to be another one of my bad dreams.
Only in some cruel, alternate universe where Blast-Ended Skrewts are considered domesticated pets and that cow Rita Skeeter can get away with cradle-snatching, would this have happened.
Actually, come to think of it, thanks to people like Hagrid and the editors of the Daily Prophet, both of the aforementioned are something of a regularity.
But I digress.
What was McGonagall thinking? Has she gone mental?
Well, obviously not, if she's just made me Head Girl ― literally; I received the owl this morning at breakfast ― but as for the new Head Boy...
I shake my head furiously against my pillow, similarly to a dog dispelling its sopping wet mane of water droplets after a bath gone pear-shaped, and squeeze my eyes tightly shut.
How could this have happened?
Where did I go wrong?
I ate my brussels sprouts.
I did my Transfiguration homework.
I even bought Mrs. Norris a deluxe scratching post from Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley once, purely out of the goodness of my heart.
It gives off an everlasting scent of the cat's choosing (probably the smell of fear in small children or Filch's aftershave), magically refurbishes itself every twenty-four hours, and even sings a different verse from "Odo the Hero" on the hour.
Although, the witch who owns the menagerie sold it to me for a discounted fourteen Sickles less than its original price, since it just recently began singing verses from something called "Frodo the Gyro" instead.
So, perhaps I could have gone wrong somewhere in the last six years, but what have I ever done in my time at Hogwarts to deserve this morning's unfortunate post from my best mate, Dom Weasley?
Our owls must have crossed in midair, since I had just sent Marigold with a letter of my good news ― Head Girl, I've been dreaming of it since I was made Gryffindor prefect in fifth year ― and received Dom's owl, Anouk, just minutes after.
"Why?" I groan to the ceiling, my eyes tracing the ornate white trim bordering my bedroom, half-expecting the ceiling to answer.
It never did, by the way, thanks for wondering.
Not that I don't love being Muggleborn ― I do, really ― but I have a feeling that if I came from a magical family, the matter of my ceiling actually talking back to me might be a different one.
Then again, perhaps this only adds to my overall madness.
At that last word ― "madness" ― my thoughts churn uneasily back to Professor McGonagall and whatever brain damage she seems to have suffered since the summer holidays began and she chose a Head Boy.
I know she's been through quite a bit, that woman, what with becoming Deputy Headmistress immediately after Dumbledore died in the Great War, but she is getting on in years, and I wonder if her judgement hasn't been skewered by old age and her odd taste in tartan-patterned hats.
"Rory, darling?" My mum pokes her head through my open door.
"Unnnggnhh," I respond intelligently.
"I've brought you cream teas," she says brightly, bustling through the door frame and revealing a tray laden with scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream, and the special tea she reserves for me whenever I'm upset.
For whatever reason, Mum thinks putting the kettle on is a vast improvement to any situation. "You accidentally tucked your skirt into your tights while you were wearing your knickers with the Hungarian Horntails on them? Never mind that, sweets, we'll sort it out, but how about a cup of tea? And what exactly is a Hungarian Whatsit?"
She really is too kind, my mother. First, she gives birth to me; then, she brings me cream teas in bed.
They honestly don't make them like that anymore.
"Thanks, Mum." I arrange myself into a cross-legged position on my bed and she perches on the edge of my comforter, setting the tray between us. There is a long moment of silence before either of us speaks; lost in thought, I pour Mum a cuppa, fixing it just the way she likes it, and hand it to her.
"Thank you, dear." She stirs her tea thoughtfully and crosses one leg diffidently over the other as she faces me. "Now, would you like to tell me what's bothering you?"
I finger the ornate pattern on my own dainty teacup. "I'm just a bit nettled, is all." Of course, I'm stretching the truth, since I'm currently feeling a lovely mixture of anger, exasperation, misery, and a strong desire to hex someone, and my mother seems to know better.
She did give me life, after all.
"Aurora Abigail Pond," she says sternly, setting her teacup down to turn her full attention to glaring at me. She only whips out my full name when she means business. "You've been wallowing in bed since breakfast. Dominique will be here soon, and you haven't even changed out of your pyjamas."
"There is much truth in both of those statements," I comment, sipping my tea delicately.
Since I received Dom's abrupt letter, I've been sprawled out on my bed, counting the threads in my quilt. However, Dom and I previously arranged to meet later on this day and go into Diagon Alley together to meet the rest of the Wotter (read: Weasley-Potter) clan for our bridesmaid fittings.
Thank the Lord, Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley are finally getting married this summer. We've been waiting on them for ages. It's been all over the Daily Prophet since they announced the date, and Witch Weekly has even gone and named Teddy "Most Bewitching Bachelor of 2022".
Which makes this his third (and, well, last) year in a row at the top of the list. His female admirers are so ardent, he practically needs a tidy bit of Polyjuice Potion and Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder just to venture into the supermarket.
"Well, are you going to go out looking like that?" Mum asks waspishly.
"Looking like what?" I demand.
"Like you've been lying in bed since breakfast," says Mum obviously, referring to my scanty clothes ― so sue me, it's the middle of June ― and wild auburn hair.
I roll my eyes. "Shouldn't it please you to know that I don't particularly care how I look? It's what's inside that counts, isn't it?"
Mum narrows her eyes. "You're hiding something."
"I have nothing to hide from the woman who gave me life," I state loftily.
"Ha!" she snorts. "Your nostrils are flaring."
"They are not!" I gasp, my hand flying to my nose. Sure enough, my nostrils are wider than Professor Slughorn's waistband.
I've got to start taping those puppies down.
"How did you know?" I say miserably, my attitude deflating as I nibble at a scone.
"I did give you life, after all," Mum points out.
"Now, out with it!"
I swill my last few dregs of tea, handing Mum my empty cup, which she refills, and swipe some clotted cream on my last bite of scone. "Well, I received a bit of post this morning after you left the kitchen...."
"Go on," prompts Mum, passing me my replenished teacup.
Sip. Scald. Swallow. Stall. "There were two letters," I say evasively, massaging my throat.
"I'm so thrilled you can count!" she cries gaily, pouring herself another cup. "Primary school has certainly paid off. Now, get on it with it."
I grimace. "Well, the first one was from Hogwarts...."
"What did it say?" asks Mum sharply, her teacup nearly running-eth over as she continues pouring.
"Mum, mind your tea."
"Oh!" She plucks a napkin off the tray while simultaneously attempting to drink what threatens to spill onto the cream-colored carpet. "Sorry, sorry...."
"ImayhamaHeaGirl," I mumble quickly, hoping she won't catch it.
"What's that, dear?" Mum raises her head from the teacup, her top lip inundated with a cream mustache.
I take a deep breath and try again. "I, er, made Head Girl."
Mum freezes, then flings her arms around me joyously. "Oh, Rory! Oh, sweetheart, I knew you would, I just knew it, you're just so brilliant and talented and clever, of course they'd make you Head Girl! Oh, I'm simply all a dither...."
"Wait 'til your father hears this, he's going to be so pleased! We're both just so proud of you...I know! Let's throw you a party! You'd like that, wouldn't you?"
"Mum ― "
"...I don't know if it's too late of a notice to ring the petting zoo, but we can certainly try booking them, dear, don't despair ― "
"Yes, dear?" Mum's face is flushed with excitement as she pulls back.
"You've, erm, got a bit of a cream mustache. Just there," I say awkwardly, gesturing.
"Oh!" She dabs at her lip with a napkin. "Better?"
"And...there's more," I say meekly.
"More?" she echoes, confused as she swipes her lip furiously with the napkin. "More cream?"
I shake my head. "No. I mean, I received another letter right after the first. From Dom."
As much as I adore my best friend, her owl couldn't have been more ill-timed. It's rotten luck to greet an owl bearing the best news I've had since the start of summer hols, only to be followed by another owl conveying quite possibly what is the worst news I've ever heard.
"Well, go on, then," prompts Mum, considerably calmer.
"It was about the Head Boy," I start, my mouth drier than the powder Mum uses in her Fruity Fiesta blancmange.
Mum clasps her hands together delightedly. "Have you found out who it is, then?"
I open my mouth to confirm the news aloud, but am miraculously saved by the bell. The doorbell, that is.
"Who on earth could that ― "
"You just stay here, Mum, let me get that!" I say quickly, hopping up off of the bed. "Just relax, enjoy some tea, I'll only be gone for a moment ― "
"Don't think this means you're off the hook, Rory!" my mother calls as I rush down the corridor and pause in front of the hanging mirror in the parlour.
"We'll see about that," I mutter, running my fingers through my hair and straightening my vest and shorts. The doorbell rings again. "Coming!" I yell.
Who in blazes would come calling before ten o'clock on a Saturday morning? Dom's not due for another hour.
"Rory," I hear my mother's voice float down the hallway, "are you going to answer that or shall I?"
"On it!" I respond, but suddenly she's appeared right behind me.
"Answer the door, or else you can tell me who made Head Boy," says Mum puckishly.
"You wish," I laugh, grasping the handle and swinging the door open, only to find my worst nightmare grinning cheekily at me. My mouth opens and closes like a goldfish's, seemingly of its own unattractive volition, as I stare in horror at the source of all this morning's whinging and moaning and into the handsome, smirking face of the new Head Boy.
"Alright, Aurora? Or I should I say, Head Girl?"
"Mum," I manage to say weakly, by way of an introduction after a moment's ringing silence, "you remember James Potter?"
Author's Note: Hi, again! I know I probably shouldn't be working on more than one story at a time (Lord knows I'm meticulous enough that it takes me ages to write just one chapter, and here I am about to post yet another story), but this one keeps flitting around in my head, so here it is. I hope you enjoyed it. Thoughts? Lemme know in a review.