I apologise so, so much for the three-week long wait, and I really don't think my constant edits helped much (oops). Anyway, this is the last chapter and I seriously hope you enjoy it, and beforehand, I once again apologise for the fact that - well, you'll see. Please don't be too mad at me, I just couldn't do it.
Did I mention Camila @ TDA was awesome?
III. Of Pretty Girls and So-Called Research
(Or, How to Become Unforgettable)
It was a minute to seven o’clock on Sunday evening when Natasha finally finished with writing and editing her article. Being a perfectionist was an awful flaw that came with being a Ravenclaw, and Natasha had it in buckets.
But everything couldn't always be perfect, after all. Nicole had barely glanced at her when she came up to the dorms to reapply her make-up, and Laynia, being Laynia, had just sneered at her. The two of them, along with one of the other girls in the dorm, Rachel Newman, seemed to have teamed up together - forming a group Natasha privately called ‘The Medusas’.
The last girl in her dorm was a quiet one named Bonnie Bell - and the story of her birth was infamous among fans of her Quidditch-playing mother, Puddlemere Chaser Katie Bell. Rumour had it, after an uplifting victory over the Falmouth Falcons, the team had gone to the Leaky Cauldron to celebrate. Katie had always been known as the only girl on the team, and people supposed that others had taken advantage of that. No one, not even Katie or Hannah Longbottom, the landlady, could remember the man after that - but nine months later Bonnie was born, and had inherited everything from her mother - her looks, her prowess on the Quidditch pitch, everything except for her House.
Katie was nearly pulled off of the team in disgrace, but somehow she kept her place. Natasha couldn’t blame Puddlemere’s coach. It was one thing to take care of a baby girl, and the other to play Quidditch, but together, they were practically a recipe for disaster, almost a bigger one than The Medusas.
Natasha thought that the name fit the trio well. Even though they weren’t all too bad-looking, it was the personalities that counted in this case. Laynia went for the physical harm. The tripping, the smirking, the blackmailing notes, the laughing, the pointing and everything else, and was naturally the leader. Nicole preferred the verbal route. She held in pride her talent for insulting, for hurting, for taunting and for scarring using words, like the type she had used yesterday when she finally broke off all ties with Natasha.
However, Rachel Newman was the real deadly one. While Laynia was the sticks and stones, and Nicole the words, Rachel was the quiet, niggling thought in your head that held self-doubt, that picked apart all the flaws and used every single one against you. She had Nicole’s talent, but doubled. She was the one who kissed your boyfriend when he just said he loved you. She was the one who called you names when you were at your worst. She was the one who pulled you down when you were at your highest. The Medusas weren’t a group of bumbling, brainless bimbos. Matter of fact, they were far smarter and more superior to other 'popular girls', being in Ravenclaw. Combined together, they were a force to be reckoned with and the most unimaginable of bullies to enter Hogwarts’ walls.
“I’m sorry, what?” Natasha glanced up in surprise. Bonnie was looking at her in curiousity, halfway through pinning up her dark hair for Quidditch practice. Had she said something out loud again? Natasha had thought she dropped that habit in her second year, and couldn't quite believe she had picked it up again.
“I’m sorry, did I say something?” Now Bonnie was the one who regarded her with surprise.
“Um, yes. You started muttering something about Medusa and bullies.” And our roommates
. Bonnie’s statement ended at that, but Natasha easily filled in the blanks.
“Oh, right. The Medusa part was just something I thought up of to name.. well, them.” Natasha gestured vaguely at the three empty beds in the dorm room. Bonnie’s dark eyes glittered in amusement, and she dropped the pins she was holding onto the nightstand near her bed.
“The Medusas?” she repeated, eyes crinkling, and laughed. She had a nice laugh, one of the few that made others laugh when they heard it, too, so Natasha grinned. Out loud, it did
seem like a little bit of a ridiculous name, though fitting. Bonnie shook her head, smiling brilliantly. She didn’t seem so cold and aloof when she actually talked
. Bonnie would make a nice friend to briefly replace Nicole while Natasha searched for a new best friend.
“Oh!” Natasha heard herself gasp out loud when her eyes landed on the clock. “Darn it. Two minutes past seven. I’m sorry, Bonnie, it was nice talking to you, but I’m late -” Here, Bonnie rolled her eyes in a rather fond way. “- and I need to go talk to -”
“The Witch Talk
crew,” Bonnie finished. “Oh, yes, I know, and that’s alright. And - and, erm, I - I'll see you later, then?” Her sentence trailed off into a timid little question, and Natasha suddenly realised that apart from herself, Bonnie talked to absolutely no one, not even the rest of Ravenclaws’ Quidditch team unless it was completely necessary.
“Sure.” Natasha nodded her head, and smiled. “I’d - I’d like that, Bonnie. I’ll see you later.”
For once in her life, Natasha forgot all of her worries, all of her doubts, if only to appreciate the genuine delight and relief that was actually caused by her own self in Bonnie’s dazzling smile.
Natasha cursed the moving staircases in her head as she took a much longer detour to the third floor. The moving stairs had always hated her, but today they just despised
her, sending her twice to the seventh floor, and once to the dungeons. Obviously Merlin really had it in for her today. The door was already open when she finally made it to the Witch Talk
The room was quiet, the only sound being made was the soft puffs of breathing in and out, and the tapping of Laney being old-fashioned at her typewriter, eyebrows knitted together in concentration as she painstakingly looked over each and every word to make sure there was absolutely no mistake. Mistakes were costly when you couldn’t erase them, after all. Georgie seemed to be sorting through a pile of photographs, a professional looking camera on her own desk.
Louis himself was on one of those swively chairs that had always made Natasha dizzy, actually writing by hand. He seemed to working on a pros and cons list, with MADISON DAVENS underlined at the top of the page. If Natasha could recall correctly, Madison Davens was a first year Slytherin who reminded her oddly of Laney. None of the three seemed to notice her by the doorway, and she was glad for that little blessing. Maybe she would actually get to see them at work - they seemed much more serious here than if they were out with other people. Obviously working at Witch Talk
was a high-demanding, constantly-under-pressure job.
“Georgie, did you find that photo yet?” Laney asked distractedly. Georgie, quill held expertly between her teeth, shook her head, fingers flicking through the photographs like one would do with playing cards. She suddenly spat out her quill, and Louis gave her a fleeting, worried glance. Obviously none of the joking around from the ‘outside world’ existed here.
“Found it!” Georgie yelled, waving a photo triumphantly in the air, pride etched in her face. She swiveled so fast in her chair that Natasha could only catch a small glimpse of the photo - from here, she could see a redhead - either Rose or Molly Weasley - with someone’s arm around them - definitely Tristan Evergreen, judging by the blonde hair and Ravenclaw scarf.
“Do you remember who gave it to us?” Louis asked, raising an eyebrow at the photograph. It was
one of his cousins after all. Laney was still distracted by her article, although she spared Georgie an approving glance. Georgie snapped her fingers, eyes lighting up like a child’s on Christmas morning.
“Who else?” She laughed, casting her eyes at the ceiling. “Little Madison Davens, but of course!” Laney tutted, though Georgie’s infectious smile, reminding Natasha painstakingly of Bonnie, forced a grin onto her face.
“I really don’t think she would appreciate the ‘Little’,” she warned, though she was still smiling. Georgie merely shrugged. Louis wrote down those two little details in the ‘Pros’ section of his list. Natasha could easily make it out in his neat handwriting, much better than her own - ‘Has good connections’ and ‘Easy to tease’. Georgie swiveled around once more in her, though much slower this time, presumably to say something else, and spotted Natasha at the doorway.
“Twelve minutes past deadline, Natasha,” she chided, shaking her head fondly. “What ever are we to do with you?” Laney took the article from Natasha, who smiled sheepishly back at Georgie.
“Now that you’re here, you can help us find out a very important mystery,” Laney said. Oddly enough, Louis sat silently, mouth clamped shut. Natasha privately wondered what was wrong. Did she do something to offend him?
“Who do you know from the midgets has a camera, and is on good terms with Madison Davens?” Laney continued. Natasha thought for a moment, but she was a Ravenclaw, after all. The answer came easily to her.
“How about Cara Creevey?” she suggested. “In Madison’s year, and everyone’s seen her with a camera. She could go professional, if she really wanted to.”
“I hate to agree,” Georgie spoke up, “but I do. It’s definitely Cara.” Laney shared a raised eyebrow with Louis, who raised his own right back.
“It’s obviously Cara who took the photo if even Georgie agrees,” Louis commented, still avoiding Natasha’s eyes. She couldn’t help but feel frustrated with him. What on earth did she do wrong? Laney smiled a thin smile, shuffling her papers.
“Fantastic. Now that that’s sorted, I’m going off to dinner now, thank you very much. Louis, I’ll leave you to format the article for me, please? Georgie, you have my permission to leave and come have dinner in the Great Hall.” Georgie rolled her eyes, smiling, long used to Laney’s orders by now, after spending two years working with her. Natasha wondered how she hadn’t killed Laney yet in the course of those two years. She knew that she
would have, if she was Georgie.
“Yes, master,” Georgie mocked, saluting Laney and grinning at Louis and Natasha. Only Natasha grinned back. Louis was too busy ignoring her to bond with Georgie over Laney’s general ridiculousness. Laney rolled her eyes at Georgie, standing up.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough with the smart-ass comments, dear. Dinnertime!” She nodded at Natasha. “You’ll be the first to get the paper in the morning, sweetie, don’t you worry about that.” Natasha cast her eyes to the heavens. Apparently giving everyone terms of endearment was another part of her annoying habit of giving everyone she knew nicknames. When Georgie closed the door behind herself and Laney, Natasha realised abruptly that she was left in the room with Louis. Uh oh. Darn them. She also realised that they must have tailored everything specifically to leave her and Louis alone in the room. Stupid well-meaning matchmakers.
Louis bent over to shove something in the bottom drawer of his desk, shirt riding up his back. Natasha quickly averted her eyes. Stupid one-eighth Veela genes. One-hundredth would have been better. One-thousandth perfectly fine. But no. It just had
to be an eighth. Louis still didn’t bother looking at her even when he brushed past to collect the pile of photographs from Georgie’s desk.
“Why won’t you look at me?” she eventually snapped, scowling at him. Louis was her friend. He shouldn’t have been ignoring her. “Why are you ignoring me, Louis?” Louis wheeled around to stare at her, eyes wide and filled with hurt.
“I’m not ignoring you, Natasha,” he answered back, but Natasha easily saw through the flimsy lie. It was obvious that he was, indeed, ignoring her.
“Yes, you are
!” she exclaimed, putting her hands on her hips automatically. Louis’ eyes suddenly moved downwards but snapped up just as quickly to her face. Natasha had to give him some credit, the boy was fast
“No, I am perfectly sure I’m giving you all of my attention,” Louis replied back in an even, cool sort of voice. Natasha flushed when she realised that once upon a time, Craig had once said that to her as well, before he kissed her at Nicole’s party. She quickly shook that thought out of her head. Comparing Craig to Louis was like comparing a starving lion to a little hamster. Louis was an angel next to the devious Craig. Well, he isn’t an angel now
, Natasha reminded herself.
“No, you aren’t.” She exhaled deeply. Louis’.. weirdness
was grating on her nerves. “What is the matter with you? Why can’t you just tell me? You’re my friend, aren’t you?” A flash of pain struck her in the heart, and him in the eyes. Was that all she thought of him? Just a friend?
“What’s the matter with you
?” Louis retorted instead, eyes narrowing. “You’re my friend too, Natasha!” She could tell her eyes had filled with hurt. Was that all he thought of her, too? “Friends don’t keep secrets from each other, and you’re keeping a pretty big one from me, and
the others!” Natasha’s eyes narrowed in confusion. She was keeping a secret from him?
“And pray tell, Louis, exactly what
secret have I been keeping from you?” she asked him, exasperated. Louis took one step closer to her, and the usually large Witch Talk
headquarters became suddenly suffocating when she realised that his face was only two inches away. For a moment her head spun, and then froze.
“You know exactly
what I’m talking about,” he murmured in a low voice, and for once in her life, Natasha listened to her heart instead of her head when she didn’t take a step back. If he was flirting with - no, seducing
- her, than it was working. She couldn’t quite remember Craig or Nicole now, only blurred faces that vaguely resembled them. They seemed far, far away compared to Louis, who was so close she could see his eyelids flutter.
“I -” she stammered, and much to her chagrin, that broke Louis out of the spell, and his eyes suddenly widened and he took a step back, clearing the air and her head. Even so, Natasha’s face fell in disappointment. For a moment there, she actually
thought he was going to kiss her. There, she finally said it. Louis’ face contorted in something Natasha couldn’t describe. Anger? Disappointment? Confusion? She didn't know.
“I just -” And then Louis shook his head, gave Natasha a sad smile, and left her alone in the suddenly cold, dark confines of the room. Gah. Why were boys so complicated
The reactions to the article were very mixed and varied from person to person, and according to Bonnie, the most memorable came from Natasha herself.
“I saw your article in Witch Talk
,” was what Natasha received when she woke up, instead of a simple ‘Good morning’. Natasha, bleary-eyed and short hair all over the place, already sitting up in her bed, face-planted in her pillow and screamed. Bonnie jumped a foot in the air.
Natasha really didn’t agree. However, one thing everyone agreed on was that the most boring and enraging reaction was from The Medusas (the name had already caught on, thanks to Bonnie).
“Meh,” Laynia, Nicole and Rachel uttered in unison, before throwing their copies of Witch Talk
simultaneously onto the Ravenclaw table. Nicole, with her awful aim, dousing it in the steaming hot bowl of porridge. A couple of the first-years were later heard claiming that the porridge at breakfast tasted strangely like newspaper. No one wanted to ask how they knew what newspaper tasted like.
Another thing everyone agreed on was that the most interesting reaction came from Louis, sometime before lunch, once again in the Witch Talk
headquarters. Natasha was already inside it, re-reading her article over and over again, not quite believing that she
was the one who had written it. No one else could believe it either, except Laney who had spent the morning going around telling everybody that it was her
idea and that anyone could sign up to become the next person featured on Witch Talk
“Hey.” Natasha almost jumped, but her body froze at the last moment. Today’s edition drifted down lightly onto the desk connected to the shelf containing the Witch Talk
archives. Her short brown hair was long enough to hang down on either side of her face, shielding Louis from her view. She was grateful for it.
“What do you
want?” she snapped, still not looking up at him. After his attitude towards her yesterday, Natasha thought she had the right to be furious with him. She could hear him pace the room behind her, and she bit her lip.
"Natasha.. " His voice drifted off for a second, before it returned, stronger than before. “Look.. I know you’re mad at me.. ” Heck yeah, I’m mad at you
, Natasha couldn’t help but think angrily to herself. “And you have every right to be. I mean, even I’m mad at myself too.” He stopped to chuckle lightly. “Laney and Georgie.. they kept at me for the rest of the night.” Natasha rolled her eyes. She knew what he was doing. He was stalling.
“Get on with the point, Louis,” she sighed, running a hand through her hair. “I don’t have time for this.” Louis still hesitated, until finally he simply stepped in front of her and gazed quietly. Natasha thought he was going to walk away again, but instead he did something that surprised her even more. He kissed her.
There weren’t any fireworks, no explosions, none of those clichés Natasha was so used to hearing about. Instead there was a warm, tingly feeling starting in her stomach and spreading down until it reached the tips of her toes, and she felt like she was completely free. It was the strangest sensation, kissing Louis, but at the same time it seemed like the most natural thing in the world, and she started kissing him back like she’d been supposed to do it all her life.
However, Natasha, much as she wanted this, was the first to pull away.
“I - you kissed me,” she stuttered, eyes wide. “Er - not that I’m complaining, but why
, that’s why!” At the sound of the voice, Natasha and Louis sprang apart like the other had a fatal, contagious disease. “Obviously, that’s how the article went well - Fielding did research, and BAM!” Natasha and Louis jumped once more, staring wide-eyed at the intruder. “Fantastic how-to which is guaranteed to work, because she tried it out herself! And it worked!”
“JAMES SIRIUS POTTER, YOU ARE AN IDIOT
!” If possible, Natasha’s eyes went even wider. Unfortunately, she recognised that voice.
?” she gasped, staring accusingly in what she hoped was Bonnie’s general direction. Louis frowned at her.
“Who’s Bonnie?” James Potter flashed a crooked grin at the both of them.
“Dearest cousin, meet Bell - my newest second-in-command!” Pulling at thin air and producing a silvery cloak from nowhere, James revealed an extremely disgruntled Bonnie, mussed up hair in a ponytail and -
“You look like you’ve just been thoroughly snogged
, Bell!” James gasped, and Bonnie merely scowled and rolled her eyes at him.
“Bit much, seeing as I was under the Invisibility Cloak with you
,” she pointed out, after inhaling deeply and calming her nerves. James flushed immediately.
“Oh.. right,” he muttered, before clearing his throat. However, Natasha wasn’t focused on that. Instead, her shock at seeing the pair had subsided when Bonnie had mentioned an Invisibility Cloak.
“Invisibility Cloak?” she gasped, taking it from James and running her fingers gently over the silky material. “Wow
.” She stared up at James with wide eyes. “Can I try it on?” James shrugged.
“If you want, though I don’t think Louis would appreciate you disappearing on him.” Louis turned a searing shade of crimson, while Natasha threw the Cloak over her head, disappearing immediately. She was far shorter than Bonnie and James were, so she fitted easily under it, though it was a bit too stuffy for her liking.
“What are you doing here?” Louis hissed, still blushing, and swatting at James’ head, but he ducked, stepping behind Bonnie, who’s mouth tilted at the corners.
“So much for Gryffindor chivalry,” she mumbled. Natasha couldn’t help but laugh, and Bonnie smiled at the sound, before frowning slightly. “Um, sorry for interrupting, by the way. I really didn’t think Potter would be able to keep still for much longer, you two took ages to get on with it.” Louis flushed a deeper shade of red, as did Natasha, but nobody could see her do so.
“Did you follow us?” she asked instead, and this time Bonnie was the one who blushed.
“It was his idea!” she exclaimed, jabbing a finger into James’ stomach, and he pouted at her.
“OW!” he whined, before changing his mind and winking at Louis. “So, Lou.. when’re you gonna take her to Hogsmeade?” Natasha’s eyes widened. James couldn’t really be serious.. could he? Oh, this was too good to be true! Louis, however, turned a shade to rival a tomato.
, you git!” he hissed, swatting at James’ head once more, and this time actually managing to hit him. “I don’t go around telling -” James hurriedly clamped a hand over his mouth, glancing worriedly at Bonnie and wherever he thought Natasha was.
"You know what, Bell, we better leave the couple and give 'em some privacy -” He grabbed Bonnie’s wrist, groped around in the air a bit before taking the Cloak from Natasha, and disappeared outside the door, Bonnie mouthing a ‘Sorry’ as she went. Sadly enough, the peace wasn’t to last.
“Time for lunch!” Georgie sang, skipping inside, taking both Natasha and Louis by the hand and dragging them to where Laney was waiting outside. She appeared to have face-palmed herself. Georgie was acting like a happy little schoolgirl, but Laney was more than enough to keep her calm and let Natasha and Louis walk on ahead, though they didn’t do anything while a hyperactive fourteen-year-old with a camera and the head of Hogwarts’ best selling newspaper were watching. Natasha actually thought they would make it to lunch without any trouble, until -
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Slut, Tweedledee, Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber
.” Laynia sneered at the four of them as she circled the group, heels clip-clopping on the ground, reminding Natasha of an angry horse. She had no doubt as to who was who, with Laynia’s descriptions. She was just about to mutter to Louis, Laney and Georgie to ignore her and keep on walking but suddenly Georgie’s Gryffindor side butted in.
!” she protested, putting her hands on her hips and scowling up at Laynia. “Don’t call my friends that! They aren’t dumb or
sluts! In fact -” And here the blonde reached up and poked Laynia - hard
- in her flat stomach. “I think you
are the slut here!” Laynia gasped, stepping back slightly before changing her mind and looming over the much-shorter girl.
“Do you know
who you are talking to, little girl?” she snapped, and Georgie scowled.
“I - am - not
- a - little - girl,” she bit out, glaring up at Laynia. “And you would do to remember that, thank you very much.” Natasha and the others, behind her, were trying their best not to laugh at the incredulity of it all. They couldn’t quite believe that someone a whole year younger was facing up to the girl no one else would. Georgie was a Gryffindor for sure. “And, no
, I don’t know who you are.”
Natasha almost doubled over with hysterical laughter when Laynia - honest to Merlin - stamped her foot
. Even Georgie’s eyes widened by a fraction with shock. She thought only little kids about to have tantrums did that.
“I AM LAYNIA SCOTT!” she bellowed, glaring icy daggers at Georgie. “AND I AM UNFORGETTABLE!” Georgie frowned.
“Then how come I forgot you?..” she questioned, before correcting herself. “Not that I knew about you in the first place, though.” Laynia made an enraged noise in the back of her throat, before whipping around and actually flouncing to the Great Hall. Georgie rounded on the others immediately.
“Who was that?” she asked incredulously. “Did she really expect me to know her?” Natasha beamed, and nodded.
“That was Laynia Scott,” she answered, struggling to keep a straight face on. “And she is ‘un-for-gett-able’.” This time even Georgie practically fell over laughing. Their laughter abruptly ceased when a heart-piercing scream echoed through the Entrance Hall, and Laney and Georgie practically tripped over themselves getting to the Great Hall, and what they saw there made them stand still, speechless. Only the ‘click’ of Georgie’s camera interrupted the stunned silence. Natasha shared a wide-eyed look with Louis, for standing there, mouth half-open, was Nicole Webb, looking onwards towards Laynia Scott, playing tonsil-hockey with none other than Craig Dunne.
Laynia Scott: Unforgettable, indeed.
Anddddd.. it’s over! I want to give you guys a million thanks for sticking with me, even when I’ve let you down (cough, no article, cough) and I am so, so sorry about that. The rest of the chapter was written and I went through like five drafts, but I decided that you guys waited long enough for this chapter, so please forgive me. Let’s hope the longness of this chapter made up for it?
On a lighter note - ahh! Couple new characters introduced in this one, and they are some of my favourites. Firstly - JAMES! Ohmygosh, have you ever met someone more embarrassing and awkward? He’s like your annoying little brother, always butting in on everyone and anyone’s business. And Bonnie! Goodness me, she was difficult to write because she had so many sides to her - just, ah. And Laynia, oh my goodness, that scene with Georgie! Laynia is so much fun to write, no matter how evil she is.
Thirdly - I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news, and I’m starting with the latter first, because good news after bad news always cheers me up. Bad news: darn it, the story’s over! You can see my thanks in the first paragraph up above. Good news: guess what? The story’s got a sequel/spin-off! Natasha won’t be a main character, she’ll be a major character, so she’ll feature heavily in it, along with all your favourite characters. Speaking of which, tell me of all your favourite characters! Favourite quotes? Favourite scenes? Go on ahead :)
Until next time,