Chapter 5 : why would we have a chipmunk and kittens? is this a zoo?
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Libby spent the entirety of our class period stabbing herself with her quill to try to try to convince herself that she’d dreamed all of breakfast and none of it had ever happened.
It didn’t work.
“Would you quit it?” I hissed while pretending to take notes. Actually I was scribbling strategies to get Neil Wood to not Summon a dagger and aim at our respective jugulars when we approached him about pimping himself out to Rose Weasley. Most of these are inappropriate for eyes that aren’t mine. “You did it. It’s going to happen. Live with it. Love it.”
“Love is a complex,” she muttered hoarsely, “created by humans in order to assuage their essentially lonely existences–”
“Miss Seward, if you please.” The professor waved a hand in Libby’s direction.
She used sir because she didn’t know the professor’s name.
No one does.
He shall henceforth be known as Count Fluff. Like, he’s got a fluffy ponytail (should I say kitty tail?) and his voice doesn’t go above like a meow.
(Count Fluff, one and a half years old [how old is that in cat years? Does he use cat years or human years to determine his age?], has been in his basket all day. Tossing a ball of yarn up. Watching it fall. Kicking it up. Watching it fall. Kicking it up–
It’s Count Fluff’s manny, Billy Goat.
Count Fluff watches the ball of yarn fall one last time. He wishes he could take it with him to the daily inspection, but Countess Fluff is strict. She doesn’t like balls of yarn. She’s a human.
This is just another day in the life of Young Count Master Fluff.)
I like this bloke much more now.
Anyway. The class (what class is it anyway?) went on without much more interruption. I was quietly plotting away and Libby kept stabbing herself. When class was over (how long are class periods?), we left the classroom (where is the classroom?) and then sort of loitered in the halls.
Well, Libby was loitering. I knew exactly what we had to do.
“Come on, we have to go to the locker rooms.”
“What locker rooms?”
“The Quidditch ones, stupid. Outside.”
“Why?” she whinged.
“Because Neil will be there, and how are we supposed to get him to take Rose out tonight if we don’t talk to him?”
“I don’t want to go to the locker rooms.”
“Why not? It’s break right now, Libby. Break. It’s a thing. We have a break after the first class period. You remember that, right?”
“Shut up. I’m just saying that Neil wouldn’t be there if it’s only break. He can’t get any practice done in just a break period.”
I rolled my eyes in a very Libby-ish fashion. She would be proud of me if she weren’t so upset that I was proud of her for scheming like a scandalous young witch.
“That’s true,” I admitted, “even Neil can’t get a good practice in with just twenty minutes to spare. But when you have free period before that, then that’s a decent warm-up, isn’t it?”
I grinned broadly as Libby stared, dumbstruck, at me.
You know, I’m not sure why people underestimate me. Is it because I’m super adorable and usually on a sugar-high? I run a business, folks. I’m not an idiot.
Also, I make a point to know hot boys’ schedules. And yes, this includes Neil Wood’s.
Because really. Albus is the nicest, smartest, sexiest bloke in the world, but Neil’s batshit. There’s something really sexy about batshit. Like, it makes him unpredictable. One minute he could be making passionate love to you–
(There is a pristine beach. An island off the coast of Brazil. He owns it.
There is a full moon.
He made it happen.
There is a bed on the beach. Next to the crashing aqua waves.
The pillows are big and fluffy.
The sheets are like silk.
“Neil–” I choke out, hand dramatically to my heart, the sound snatched from my throat by the beauty of the island beach night, “you shouldn’t have, you really–”
“Isolde.” He steps in front of me, centimeters from me, his breath hot on my skin, his eyes boring into my own. I can hardly breathe. “Don’t talk. Let’s fuck.”)
–and the next:
(“Neil,” I exhale, a sheet wrapped chastely around my body, although he and I share no secrets anymore, not after our passionate love making, “that was… that was…”
I wait for him to fill in an appropriate adjective.
I will accept “mind-blowing,” “incredible,” “amazing,” “passionate,” or “hot.”
But I hear nothing except pelicans and the soft crash of the ocean.
It is dawn, I notice. The sun rises on a new day, full, I hope, of more love and lovemaking.
Except Neil is gone.
There is a note on his pillow.
Sheet still firmly around my body, I get out of bed, walk to the water, and toss the note into the ocean.
I don’t need him, but I miss him.)
I justify all this by noting that, having a sexy Ministry job, I’m expected to have some sexy, scandalous love affair in foreign lands. It’s just part of the job. At the end of the day, I’ll always come back to Albus. He is my love. I love him. He is the only person in the world who will understand me completely. He is the reason I live. But Neil would be that sexy lover, someone to love and leave whenever the hell I want. That’s hot.
Also, I’ve never been to Brazil.
“Izzy, wake up.”
There was a faint throbbing pain in my left forearm.
Libby just poked me.
“I wasn’t asleep, you idiot,” I huffed, “I was just–”
“That isn’t a thing, Libby!”
“It is when you have narcolepsy.”
“Which I don’t.”
“Where is Wood?”
“Let’s get this over with, then.”
I blinked. “You’re–you’re coming?”
“Of course I’m coming. You make it sound like you want him to whore himself out.”
I furrowed my impeccably shaped brows. I pay attention to my eyebrows. They are the windows to expression. Like consternation, the expression I was expressing now. “Is your plan not to have him whore himself out?”
Libby coughed. “I have a feeling batshit Wood wouldn’t want to think of it like that.”
I thought about that point. Then I realised she was somewhat right. Best not to pitch it to him like a pimp going to his, er, business associates. I’m all for straight-talking in business–when I do it, it gives the impression that I’m a cute aspiring businesswoman just dipping my feet in the water–but when dealing with crazies, you’ve got to be tactful.
I am full of tactfulness.
By the time we got near the locker rooms, though (how long does it take to get there?), I still hadn’t come up with an idea of how to pitch our plan to Neil. Neither had Libby.
“Don’t look at me. This is all your fault for wanting to thwart Rose. I’m just an impartial, slightly antagonistic onlooker.”
“You don’t get to be an onlooker when you share an idea like that,” I told her curtly. “Look, he’s coming this way.”
He was, in fact. All decked out in his Gryffindor robes (why was he in robes when he was practicing by himself?), with his broom in his hand, looking tired and sweaty and super, super sexy.
I keep having to remind myself of that.
Beauty can drive you batshit.
“Should we ambush him now or wait ‘til he’s in the locker room?”
Libby snorted. “Ambush him while he’s getting in the shower?”
The idea was tempting. I wished Albus played Quidditch so I could ambush him there. But Albus would not try to hex me, he’s too nice for that. He’d probably just invite me in with him. Neil would… actually I’m not sure. Too busy imagining ambushing him in the shower.
“Fine, let’s go. While he’s still tired and woozy and stuff. Onward… MARCH!”
Always the contrary one. Always things to work on. But all of this would have to wait for after Albus’ party.
The one upon whom all of my hopes of pulling off the greatest, funnest, drunkest, craziest, epicest love letter in all of Hogwarts history was more than a bit confused to see me and Libby coming up to him. He slowed to a stop and planted his broom on the ground.
“Hi, Neil!” I squeaked.
Remember, I’m cute. I have no idea how negotiations work.
Now that that’s sorted out.
“Hey, guys,” Neil said, a bit confused, but not homicidal or anything. That was a good start. “Something the matter?”
“Yeah, actually,” I said. “I have an under-the-table business proposal for you, and I’d love if we could just talk for a minute. Want to hear it?”
Libby once said I greatly resemble a chipmunk when I approach clients for the first time. Tristan says I look like a chipmunk as a rule. Well, Tristan, I think looking like a chipmunk is useful. Chipmunks are bloody adorable. Chipmunks look like they aren’t scheming to take your acorns for themselves. Chipmunks don’t look like pimps.
Neither do I.
But, you know. Whatever’s best for the bottom line.
He looked intrigued. He would be, the maniac. “Keep going.”
“So, long story short, I don’t want Rose Weasley to be at my next event. It’s really important,” I repeated, just to make sure he got it, “that she is not there. I need her out of my common room all night on the twenty-ninth. That’s next Saturday.”
He smirked at me. Libby would like to think he was smirking at her. “You’re messing with Rose?”
“Well, no, that’s the point. I kind of sort of was hoping that you would mess with her. Or, erm, date her.”
Smart bloke, this one. Who said Quidditch players are all meat-brained? They obviously hadn’t got a load of this beautiful, insane specimen.
“I know,” I said, fake-apologetically, “but it would work. She’s obsessed with you. If you went out with her a couple times, including, obviously, that Saturday… she would be over the moon. She’d be so ecstatic. It would be a favour for her, if you think about it.”
Neil frowned. His face was really expressive. The utter opposite of Libby’s. No wonder he did crazy so effectively and crazily. “I don’t especially care about doing favours for her, you know.”
Hmm. Perhaps that was the wrong direction to go in. I changed tack rapidly. “Or, you could think about it like screwing her over. Love her and leave her. Show her who’s boss in Gryffindor. Cut her down to size.”
Ha! How’s that for quick-thinking skills? Chipmunks can run successful businesses! Take that, Tristan!
“I don’t know, Izzy,” he said, exhaling gently. Never thought I’d use that word to describe him, though. I rather like batshit. It suits him. “That seems cruel. Especially if you pay me.”
I gave a very feminine, chipmunk-y giggle. It’s super attractive and off-putting and proof that I am a harmless little girl. Not a ruthless businesswoman with cunning business know-how.
The dichotomy of Izzy Dunham.
“I could always let your conscience off the hook and not pay you, if that’s better.”
I could hear Libby groaning behind me. So much for being an impartial onlooker.
“So I’d be leading her on out of the goodness of my heart?” He smirked again.
“Or the vindictiveness. Don’t discount vindictiveness.”
“I’m not vindictive.”
I gulped and hoped I hadn’t crossed a line. Angering Neil could be just as bad as angering Rose, except Neil wasn’t related to my future husband. However, my future husband’s cousin was obsessed with him. Which meant that he was very, very valuable to me. “Oh, I know. I’m just saying. If you need help justifying it, I can help. So first question–will you do it?”
He mulled it over. I could see it in his batshit eyes (literally, they are the color of bat shit, assuming that looks like… I am going to not continue with this train of thought and let this die quietly).
I sighed internally. This might take a little more convincing. Good thing I was such an excellent convincer.
“Do you have a thing for being dominated?”
I heard Libby gasp behind me, but ignored her. It was not always easy to ignore her, since she was always yakking my ear off, but I took advantage of it while I could.
“And even if you don’t now, one night with her and you’ll totally get that whole scene,” I continued airily. “Rose isn’t hopeless looking, is she, and I’m sure she knows exactly what she wants in… er, in a relationship. That’s hot. Isn’t it?”
What would Libby say about Rose being hot?
You know, I think she’d agree. Libby has a domination problem, as her obsession with Scorpius and her admiring of Neil prove. Rose is nothing if not dominating.
I cannot unsee that image.
We all sleep in the same room.
“And she’s rich and famous and can probably get you whatever broomstick you could possibly want–but your dad is Oliver Wood, you can probably get whatever broom you wanted…”
Drat. Am I really out of reasons already? That was quicker than I expected.
“Izzy, I, er, I appreciate the offer and all–”
That’s the kiss of death! No! Mission failed!
“But I won’t do it.”
Actual death! I’m dead! My whole plan is shattered and dead! I hope Libby is nice in her eulogy. It’d suck if I had an awful eulogy. Who has awful eulogies? Voldemort, I guess. He was pure evil and all his friends are either dead or in jail.
Libby should be jailed.
So should Louis.
I like this very much.
“Unless you pay.”
“I want twenty Galleons a date. Twenty-five for every time she says no.”
I put out my hand. He shook it. His hand was really big.
Domination problem? I don’t have one.
Why ever would you think so?
“So, um, Neil,” I said when he withdrew his hand. “Er… you realise I kind of need you to start work immediately?”
He nodded. “How immediately?”
“Like, by lunch. For a date tonight.”
This seemed to surprise him. His eyes went all wide like they did that time he thought Miranda was cheating on him. She doesn’t support Rose’s obsession with him. She’s all “He literally makes me fear for my life” and Rose kind of stares at her until Miranda is intimidated into saying “But that’s really hot.”
Which it kind of sort of is.
At its most basic level.
I can feel Libby judging me.
“Tonight?” Neil repeated. “What–she’d never do it.”
“Mate, let me tell you something about Rose Weasley.” I stepped closer. Not close enough for jealousy to flare up in Libby’s heart (she is a jealous bitch deep down inside the nihilistic shell) but close enough to make her lean closer. “She is. Obsessed. With you. That’s a powerful position. You basically have her in the palm of your hand, and all you need to do to get her there is to ask.” I stepped back, feeling very proud of myself. If only Tristan was here to see me instead of stupid judgy Libby. “Not so hard after all, is it?”
Neil grinned a sort of devilishly hot grin, which made my knees sort of melt. (What happens when knees melt? What happens to the rest of the bones? Do they fall into the feet and break the feet?).
“You’re pretty clever, Izzy,” he said. I think he was a bit surprised to be saying such a thing to me, but I wasn’t. I am clever. I am the single cleverest witch in Hogwarts. Outsmarting Rose Weasley, plotting against Faith–oh wait, strike that last one. She’s a cow. It isn’t hard to plot against her at all. I could give her a handful of cud and she’d forget all about Albus.
But that’s way too easy. I’m all for making things harder for myself, so I can rope in as many kooky characters as I can to help me execute my ridiculous schemes.
“With your help,” Neil continued, “I think… this might actually work.”
“Of course it’ll work,” I said brightly. “It’s my ide–well actually it’s Libby’s–but our collective ideas never fail!”
Author's Note Hello again, my dears! I know, it's been a sight longer than you probably expected, but here we are! As usual, I can never say how long it will be to the next update, but never fear, there will be one! Someday. Hopefully soon. What did you guys think of Izzy's obviously infallible plan? Foolproof, I say! Anyway, thanks for sticking by this, and I hope you enjoyed!