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Real Ladies. by ilharrypotter
Chapter 24 : Of Longbottom and Sincerity.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 19


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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. 


Surprise update! I've been extremely busy with scholarships and college applications, but I did want to make time for all of you. However... I do have a request.


On my tumblr ( you would go to paigemeowww . tumblr . com without the spaces) there is a link. That link leads to an essay I wrote. If that essay gets enough votes... this chick gets a $5000 scholarship. This lasts until April, and I NEED YOUR HELP TO WIN! I need to money to help with my tuition, and it will mean A LOT. So reblog if you have a tumblr. Post the link to your facebooks. Tweet it. I don't care what path you take, please just help me out if you feel the urge to do so. :)


-Paige.

 






All real ladies will not crack under pressure in public.


 

 

“Do any of you comprehend how crucial this match tomorrow is to my bloody future?”

 

 

 

I feel like a mad woman. All I can do is rant, rave, and wave my hands around like it’s the hippest new dance craze. My voice is constantly at its highest volume and pitch. I’m constantly in motion – very angry, rapid, erratic motion. I’m driving myself bloody barmy – after so many years of being tolerant of myself – and I’ve taken so many headache potions that I might count as legally intoxicated. Which could potentially explain how insane I feel. Anyways…

 

 

 

My team faces me, all looking relatively indifferent. Except for Lo – him. He looks frightened – for good reason. Merlin only knows what I’m capable of doing or saying to him at this point. It could be life-threatening, if he accidentally makes the wrong facial expression or makes a noise that I don’t approve of. (So I’m angry, emotional, worried, and possibly high off of headache potions. Good mixture.)

 

 

 

“Anyone feel like responding to their Captain tonight?”

 

 

 

Yeah, I know better.

 

 

 

See, everyone is a little… off.

 

 

 

Lily and Owen are arguing about something – it had something to do with a sexist comment about a sandwich, which is where my questions immediately stopped before I got drug in between the two of them – and neither one of them are speaking. Not to each other, and not to anyone else. What a couple.

 

 

 

Lorcan is afraid of the ramifications of anything he might say. So he’s not opening his mouth at all. (Reasonable.)

 

 

 

Fred is still furious with me for the Delilah situation, which I’ve been hesitant to apologize about. Note that he thinks Little Miss Mummy is entirely innocent, which is too ironic for my taste. The blame lies on mine and Lily’s shoulders, according to him. So he’s not talking to me.

 

 

 

James has suddenly turned into a girl, his brain full of baby names, romance, and wedding plans. (Hilarious on any other day. He knows the difference between white and eggshell.) So, even though he is talking to everyone, he’s pretty much useless, because he can’t talk about anything but tablecloths and various name combinations. (I think he got into my headache potions, honestly…)

 

 

 

Albus is just grumpy. Blair hates him, which is no different from usual, but still. It puts him in a foul mood. And on top of that, his best friend – being Rose – is acting completely abnormal, and the poor bloke doesn’t know why. (I’m pretty sure only I do. Which frightens me quite a bit.) So, even when Albus does talk, he’s acting like a little bitch.

 

 

 

And Holden is… well, he just knows that now is not a good time to speak.

 

 

 

Why is it that my team explodes every time a huge match comes along? Is it, like, my punishment for being a bloody incredible Captain? (Or for having a massive ego…) I mean, I would like to have one major match go by without some ground-shaking, earth-shattering occurrence ruining everything and making Gryffindor’s journey to winning the Quidditch cup almost impossible. (Even though we still win. Every year. Suck on that.)

 

 

 

I pace back and forth in front of them. Someone, please, kill me. Before I do it myself.

 

 

 

“Dom!”

 

 

 

Woah. Did one of my teammates just speak!?

 

 

 

“Dooooooom!”

 

 

 

Oh, no. I know that voice. It’s the voice that wakes me up in the middle of a really good nap, curled up behind the curtains that are no longer sound-proofed because of my horrible Charms skills. The voice that criticizes my clothes and my hair. The voice that, when I hear it in class, makes me want to stab myself in the eye socket with my own wand.

 

 

 

Ugh. It is not a good day for me to be dealing with Delaney Finnegan. I’m right in the middle of a rant! What if I accidentally on purpose start to flip out on Delaney? (Then I remind myself of something very important that I tend to overlook about Miss Finnegan… Delaney didn’t overtake Honor Jones’ reign of terror and turn it against her without anyone suspecting a thing by complete accident. She can handle a Dominique-level explosion, any day.)

 

 

 

I turn away from my team – pretending, of course, to ignore the relief that washes across his face when I’m no longer glaring at him – and look across the pitch towards the angelic blonde that strolls leisurely towards me across the Quidditch pitch. (She refuses to run. Like, really. She does not run. For her, a power walk is equivalent to sprinting. I’m glad she never tried out for Quidditch…)

 

 

 

This is the witch who has my future in her hands. The witch who personally executes the dangerous (to her social standing and my career) schemes against Honor Jones. This is that witch. And she has a moral issue with moving quickly, Merlin forbid she knocks a single hair out of place.

 

 

 

Yeah, I trust the wrong people. I know. I think we proved that the other day, did we not?

 

 

 

(Low blow. Even though he can’t read my mind.)

 

 

 

“Dooooom, darling,” Delaney beams when she reaches me. She looks so proud of herself, for whatever reason. Maybe because she made it across the Quidditch pitch without getting her high heels stuck in the grass. “So glad I caught you.”

 

 

 

As if I wouldn’t be on the Quidditch pitch.

 

 

 

“Make it quick, Finnegan,” I say instead of what I think, so that my team doesn’t think I approve of interruptions the Friday evening before a huge match. I smile at her, though – my team can’t see that, only Delaney can. Hopefully, I think, this is about PHSAHJ and another plot against Honor Jones. Oh, how I need for that girl to reach her demise, just to make my own failures seem less depressing.

 

 

 

The bubbly blonde looks far too serious to be informing me of the newest humiliation dealt to Honor Jones. She glances behind me at my teammates, then lowers her voice. “Longbottom caught me in in the common room on my way to sneak out to Hogsmeade, the bloody bastard. I was sent to inform you that he wants to see you in the greenhouse,” she announces, sounding very mysterious. Clearly, she’s trying to be dramatic. Mission accomplished. “He said it was urgent.”

 

 

 

“Urgent?” I cock my head to the right. “But… I’ve got practice.”

 

 

 

“Urgent,” Delaney repeats. There’s no arguing with her, I know. “Poor old Longbottom doesn’t throw that word around. He’ll be waiting.” Then, she flounces – very slowly – away, before I can protest any further. (Popular girls always flounce away before you can argue back to them. I hate that, among many other things, about their species.)

 

 

 

Delaney, even though I hate to admit it, is one hundred percent correct. So I turn back to the team and scan their faces – should I dismiss them (a really bad idea) or should I put one of them in charge of the others (also a really bad idea)? And if I do put one of them in charge… who would I even pick? Damn. I’m fucked if I do, fucked if I don’t.

 

 

 

Impulse decision time. (Because that always works so well for me.)

 

 

 

“Wood. Take over.”

 

 

 

I’m an idiot.

 

 

 

My entire team just let their jaws drop onto the ground. Including Holden. I think I just accidentally announced my most recent life change – being the breakup, of course – to the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team. Thank Merlin Delaney left already, or all of Hogwarts would know within the hour.

 


 


 

 

 

“Oh, Miss Weasley – thank goodness, you hurried.”

 

 

 

When I entered the greenhouse, Professor Neville Longbottom dropped the roll of parchment he had been reading and jumped to his feet like there was a tack on his chair. In his rush to stand, he knocked over a potted plant with thorns and spiked leaves – Merlin only knows what kind of magical, demonic forms of photosynthesis were going on inside that pot – and the soil spilled out over all of the ungraded papers covering his desk.

 

 

 

Uh… well. What a welcome.

 

 

 

(Psst. This man is not my biggest fan – we all know that, don’t we? So, what in the mother of fuck is going on, and why does he seem so excited to see me? Creepy.)

 

 

 

“Erm, hello, Professor – did I do something wrong…?” I raise my eyebrows. Surely, I must be in serious trouble. My Head of House would never want to see me otherwise. I’m of no use to him, since he doesn’t give two figs about Quidditch.

 

 

 

“Absolutely not!” Longbottom shakes his head. Then, he gestures at the uncomfortable chair with the ugly flowery pattern sitting in front of his desk, indicating that I should make myself comfortable.

 

 

 

(Which I doubt will happen anytime soon, unless something changes very quickly. One: because this situation is just full of awkward. And two: that chair has like, four broken springs in the seat. It’s like a constant game of shifting about and squirming like a complete tosser so that there’s no hunk of metal in your arse.)

 

 

 

When I finally sit, after a minute of debating whether or not it’s actually worth the pain and after deciding that anything is worth it if it makes this awkward meeting with my awkward professor go by faster, he also sits. Then, Longbottom awkwardly folds his hands together on his desk and looks straight at me. He looks a bit anxious. Unusually anxious, even for him.

 

 

 

Note: Longbottom is a great Professor. He’s intelligent and incredibly secure in his knowledge of plants; he’s one of the smartest men I know when it comes down to the subject he teaches. He’s a brilliant Head of House, and he supports Gryffindor with his whole heart. I’ve heard hundreds of stories about him and his acts of bravery during the Second Wizarding War. There’s no doubt about it: Professor Longbottom is an incredible, strong, brave man. (As much as us seventh years might joke around about him, it’s quite true, and we’ll all admit it in the end.) However, no matter how brave he is and how many times he stood up to Voldemort and Death Eaters in his lifetime… interacting with me seems to make him squirm. Now more than ever.

 

 

 

(Maybe because I let it be known to him every year that I take Herbology that I don’t give a damn about plants. My exact words were “Frankly, Professor, I don’t give a damn about plants.” He didn’t understand the reference, which made it a lot less amusing for me. I hate Lily and her Muggle movies.)

 

 

 

“Erm, Professor, are you…” I trail off and cock my head to the right. My original plan was to ask the middle-aged man if he was going to make it… but he’s acting so anxious, I’m not entirely sure that he is going to make it.

 

 

 

“The Quidditch match tomorrow is of great importance to your future, Dominique,” he tells me. Completely serious.

 

 

 

Wait a fucking minute.

 

 

 

He pulled me out of Quidditch practice to tell me how important the Quidditch match that I’m trying to prepare my team for is to my future? As if I didn’t already know that? As if practice isn’t a bit more valuable than a who-is-ever-going-to-remember-this-generic-conversation conversation. Longbottom is a living contradiction, man. (He’s also afraid of a seventeen year old.)

 

 

 

“Duly noted,” I respond, smirking a little. Needless to say, I’m amused by how serious and anxious he was – just to tell me something I already know. “Erm, now, if you don’t mind… I need to get back to practice. You said so yourself, after all, it is quite important that we’re prepared…”

 

 

 

I really do need to get back to practice, you know. Has anyone but me considered the death and destruction that could be playing out at the Quidditch pitch, seeing as I left Holden Wood in charge of my Quidditch team? I mean, come on. Think about it. People – and by people, I mean him – could die. No exaggeration, either. Wood’s leadership skills leave a bit to be desired.

 

 

 

“No, you don’t understand – the scouts, you see – ”

 

 

 

“I know about the scouts. All about the scouts, actually. Can I please – ”

 

 

 

Longbottom furrows his brow. “Listen to me, Miss Weasley,” he insists. Something about his tone makes me stop – and listen. “I received a very important owl yesterday. From Gwenog Jones – the owner of the Holyhead Harpies. Which I know to be your dream team. It seems that a few strings have been pulled by an unknown source, and Gwenog Jones desires to witness your incredible skill firsthand instead of hearing about it from a scout.”

 

 

 

“Wait a minute…” I really can’t believe what I’m hearing. Dear Merlin, you’ve got to be kidding. Longbottom must be off his mother fucking rocker. There’s no possible way… I’m not that lucky, am I? There really must be a Merlin up there – and oh, how kind and loving he is! “Gwenog Jones… the Gwenog Jones… she is scouting me?”

 

 

 

“Indeed she is,” Longbottom nods his head very seriously, sifting through the papers on his desk to find the letter. He gives up after a minute with no results, forgetting that he owns a wand, and shrugs his shoulders. “I would show you the proof, but…”

 

 

 

“I don’t need proof,” I blurt out.

 

 

 

I’d like that letter though, if Longbottom ever manages to unearth it from the piles of shit all over his desk. I’ve got to frame it or something. It’s like a historical relic. I’d put it up in my dormitory, right below a sign that says: Suck my non-existent dick, H.J.! Yup. My decorating style is quite profane.

 

 

 

Longbottom smiles. He holds out his right hand. “Congratulations, Dominique,” he says, and I know he’s being genuine. “I know how hard you worked for this, and you deserve all of this. You’ve made us all quite proud.”

 

 

 

Oh, my Merlin… I think I might cry.

 

 

 

In fact…

 

 

 

Well, hot damn. There’s a tear. There’s really a tear. Longbottom just made me cry. And I always thought I would make him cry – not the other way around.

 

 

 

I look up at the man who I used to think was ashamed to claim me, the prankster and troublemaker, as a Gryffindor. He’s smiling so wide I think his face might crack.

 

 

 

And I thought he hated me.

 


 


 

 

 

“Well, well, well. Look what we have here.”

 

 

 

On my way back to the Quidditch pitch to share my wonderful news and collect my dead teammates, the devil crosses my path. In his most petite, feminine, pretty form, of course.

 

 

 

That just figures. I get fantabulous news from Longbottom, and then I run into the Wicked-est Witch of All Directions. Fan-fucking-tabulous. And I thought Merlin was on my side. Always got to change things up on me, don’t you?

 

 

 

“I’m sure you’ve heard the news, Weasley?”

 

 

 

“News?” I play innocent. Surely she’s talking about the pranks that have recently been pulled over on her – and I solemnly swear I did not actually orchestrate or participate in any of those pranks. I just laughed about it.

 

 

 

Along with the Wart Incident, there have been a few more fabulous schemes, all of which I’ve been a witness to so far. My particular favorite is one that was masterminded by Piper, which shocked the hell out of me. She nicknamed it Operation Underage, in which one of our spies – whose name will go untold for his protection, as he still pretends to be a part of Honor’s ever-shrinking inner circle to help P.H.S.A.H.J out – passed her a note from a bloke she’s been rumored to fancy – identity undisclosed (like really. The Spy won’t tell any of us. We’re all dying to know) – asking her to meet him in a broom cupboard one day during a shared free period for a snog. After the Polyjuice Potion – Merlin, the intelligence hiding behind these pretty faces… - wore off, Jones was in the middle of a heated snog session with… a fourth year Hufflepuff with major acne and greasy hair. We got pictures, and that fourth year got memories that would last him for the rest of his life. Thank Merlin for Piper Creevey – one of the many things I never thought I would say…

 

 

 

“Yes, the news – about my mum?” Jones gives me a wicked smile.

 

 

 

That smile… she’s plotting something. I can tell. I know that smile. Oh, dear. Her mum. Her mum. Gwenog Jones. Oh, Merlin, for a second I forgot one of the most important pieces of information I hold in my obsessive Beater’s brain. Honor Jones is Gwenog Jones’ daughter. Of course. Of course!

 

 

 

“I’m always willing to aid the unfortunate, Weasley,” she crosses her arms over her chest, raising her chin so she can look me in the eye – the poor witch is a bit too short to really be on eye level with me. “For a price.”

 

 

 

Anything, I think.

 

 

 

But no. We’re dealing with the devil here. I can’t sell my soul to the devil. If I’m going to hell, it’ll be because of my sailor’s mouth or because I flew off the handle at Quidditch practice and offed one of my teammates. Not because I sold my bloody soul to Honor mother fucking Jones. I need to be very cautious in how I proceed.

 

 

 

“I can handle this,” I respond to her, ever so haughtily.

 

 

 

Okay, not the kind of caution I was going for. Not in the least.

 

 

 

Jones smirks. “I do not think you will be capable of such, Weasley,” she disagrees simply. “My mother did not come to the decision to visit the match tomorrow on her own. You see, she has heard of you – and she is interested, but not enough to bring her to Hogwarts. Her visit, my naïve classmate, has very little to do with you, and everything to do with her daughter.”

 

 

 

I stare at Jones, hoping my expression doesn’t betray my irritation and my injured pride. Jones always knows how to get to me, doesn’t she? I was so proud to think that Gwenog Jones believed me to be such a talented player that she herself needed to witness it – but no. Of course that isn’t the case.

 

 

 

“All it takes is one single owl, Weasley – one owl to keep my mum at home, one owl to keep her from seeing your magnificent playing ability,” Jones flicks her curls with a manicured index finger, her eyes glinting. “Darling girl, surely you know what you must do.”

 

 

 

I take a deep breath. She’s right. I do know what I must do. As much as it pains me, I’ve got to play her game – this is my future on the line, something I can’t risk no matter the consequences. Not when the rest of my future is now so unknown.

 

 

 

“What do you want from me, Jones?”

 

 

 

She runs her hand over her scalp, pushing back her dark, glossy hair and further exposing her beautifully sinister face. Usually, even when she’s deathly serious, she never entirely uncovers her face; her curls consistently shade her brow, casting a shadow over her dark complexion and making her seem even creepier than I already think she is. Yet, here she is – strangely vulnerable. Uncovered. Unhindered, letting the light hit her face as she looks up at me.

 

 

 

“Your cousin,” she states simply.

 

 

 

I furrow my brow instantly. “I told you, Jones – ”

 

 

 

She cuts my caustic reply off with a swift jerk of her hand, slicing through the air to make it clear that I’m misunderstanding. “No. Not… not James.”

 

 

 

Taking a small step back, I examine her face – looking for a hint that isn’t present. “Not James?”

 

 

 

The expression I watch flit across Honor Jones’ face next is one I’ve never seen cross her flawless profile before. For a girl who is so un-intimidated by anyone, even Headmistress McGonagall, for that one instance she looked… afraid. Yeah, that was definitely fear. Fear. Merlin’s beard.

 

 

 

She stands strong, though, staring back at me. “Fred.”

 

 

 

I search through everything that’s happened this year, everything I’ve seen, everything I’ve witnessed – trying to find an instant in which Honor Jones expressed interest in any guy that wasn’t James Potter. Yet, there’s nothing. Nothing. I can’t think of a single thing, of a single interaction – no flirtation, no comments, no manipulation used to snag Fred against his will. Nothing.

 

 

 

When Jones realizes that I can’t wrap my head around this idea, she rolls her eyes. “Of course you haven’t seen any evidence to prove my confession, but you know I cover my tracks,” she reminds me, and she’s right – I do know that. “If it wasn’t for your little club – oh yes, I know about it, Weasley – Miss Clearwater wouldn’t exist. I would make sure of that. But your club does exist, and it has ruined me.”

 

 

 

I can’t wrap my head around this. Fred – sweet, silly, occasionally stupid Fred – he’s the object of this evil girl’s desires? Fred. My Freddie, my darling cousin, the Freddie I would love to beat over the head and curse sometimes, no matter how much I love him. When James was her target, I could grasp it – there was something those two had in common, something I could never place – but this… this I do not understand.

 

 

 

“What am I supposed to do about that?” I question, truly not understanding where I fall into this equation. “He’s with Delilah, and he’s happy that way.”

 

 

 

I leave out the fact that Delilah is a total she-devil. Jones likely knows this. She, after all, is the girl who defined “she-devil” for me.

 

 

 

“There’s a lot you can do,” she shrugs her shoulders carelessly, reaching up to wind a loose curl around her small, squat index finger. “There’s so much you can do.”

 

 

 

“I’m not helping you snag my cousin, Jones. He’s my best friend. I wouldn’t subject him to – ”

 

 

 

“Do you want to play for the Harpies?”

 

 

 

This question requires no answer.

 

 

 

I roll my shoulders back and stare down.

 

 

 

“Then you’ll help me, Weasley,” Jones demands harshly. Then, she tilts her head to the right, and in a strange instant, her entire expression changes – softens. That’s right. Softens. Her eyes widen and her smirk drops. She takes a deep breath and lowers her voice. “I need you to help me, Weasley. Agree to help me, and we’ll be even. You’ll get your future, as long as you agree to help me.”

 

 

 

She holds her hand out for a shake of agreement.

 

 

 

My jaw drops.

 

 

 

Is she being sincere? Is she trying to pull one over on me? Who knows? Merlin, who in the world could possibly know?

 

 

 

“Weasley, I’m not lying to you – I swear it.”

 

 

 

I wish I had my broomstick handy, so she could swear on that. But no. I left that on the pitch. Damn it. I know better than that.

 

 

 

Instead, I know I have to make my own judgment. I search her face for any evidence that she’s lying – she must be lying, she must. I stare at her for a long time, and after a few minutes without me saying a word or reaching for her hand, her lips begin to quiver and her eyes visibly water. The first tear I’ve ever seen produced by Honor Jones rolls down her chiseled face. She rushes to brush it off before it is seen by her enemy, but I’ve spotted it already.

 

 

 

“Oh, bloody hell.” Jones stomps her foot. She narrows her eyes at me, rescinds her hand, and turns to walk away. Before she takes her first step, she levels her glare directly into my own concerned and confused eyes. “You’re your own worst enemy, Weasley. Fuck up things with that bloke of yours, fuck up your friendships, and now fuck up your future. Not the brightest witch of your age, I see.”

 

 

 

I reach out and grab her arm as she begins to walk. “Fine. I’ll do it. I’ll help you.”

 

 

 

Jones turns back to me. She doesn’t smirk, as if this is all part of her plan, nor does she grin and prove that the tears were just a hoax to persuade me. Instead, she closes her eyes for a moment – gratefully, perhaps – and takes my hand, shaking it once with a weak grip that must come with the suffering of the fallen queen.

 

 

 

“Thank you, Weasley.”

 

 

 

I say nothing. This will bite me in the arse, I’m sure.

 

 





Tell me in a review if you voted for me, and I'll give you hugs virtually. Also, how do you feel about this Honor business?


 


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