Chapter 1 : Black and Yellow
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“UH HUH, YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS!”
“BLACK AND YELLOW, BLACK AND YELLOW!”
“UH HUH, YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS!”
“BLACK AND YELLOW, BLACK AND YELLOW!”
That was the first thing I heard as I entered the Hufflepuff Common room in the evening after the Beginning-of-the-Season Quidditch match.
I had been hearing about the match all September, since three of my close friends, Dominique Weasley, Taylor Sullivan, and Peter Jansen played on a house Quidditch team. Dom was a Chaser, Taylor a Keeper, and Peter a Seeker. Taylor played for Hufflepuff, and Dom and Peter played for Ravenclaw.
However, I had gotten detention the day of the match for taking the blame for Lucy blowing up our cauldron in Potions. I didn’t mind. Quidditch wasn’t all that important to me, and that’s what friends are for, right?
So when I entered the Common room to see Taylor and Lucy Weasley, another one of my friends, shamelessly dancing on a table, belting out an old muggle rap song, I could only presume that Hufflepuff had beaten Ravenclaw.
I found Dom immediately in the crowd, and pushed my way towards her. When I reached her, I grabbed the drink out of her hands and handed it to a passing seventh year. He took it without question.
“Hey!” Dom protested, staring forlornly after her firewhiskey. “I was drinking that!”
“I gathered.” I told her dryly. “You’re sixteen, Dom, that’s underage.”
“That doesn’t stop Lucy and Taylor from getting piss drunk.” Dom told me. “Why can’t I?”
“Lucy and Taylor got piss drunk because I wasn’t there to stop them.” I said. “Where’s Peter and Albus?”
“Peter’s over at the bar,” Dom pointed over to my friend, who was ordering a couple of shots. “And Albus is over there.” She pointed toward Albus Potter, another one of my—well, friends isn’t exactly the word for it. Albus isn’t really friends with anybody. The most we are is acquaintances.
Anyway, I saw him looking very uncomfortable as Nadia Stone cornered him, batting her eyelashes and laughing in a high-pitched tone.
I decided that Peter’s need was greater than Albus’s at the moment (he may not be my friend, but I look out for my friends’ cousin) and trooped over to the bar.
Just as Peter was about to take his first shot, I stopped him. “How old are you?” I demanded.
Peter stared at me guiltily. “Lara!” He exclaimed, trying to muster a smile. It came out as a grimace. “I’m—er—I’ll be seventeen in three months, okay?”
“Right.” I said, handing the shots back to the waiter. “And until then, you are going to remain alcohol free, no matter how many Quidditch matches you lose, alright?”
I stared him down until he said, “Fine.” Then, with a quick smile, I marched over to Lucy and Taylor.
“Hey, guys!” I yelled up at them. Lucy looked down and spotted me.
“Hey, Taylor, look, it’s Lara.” She hiccupped. “Uh, huh, black and yellow!” She shouted feebly, and the crowd of rowdy Hufflepuffs cheered.
“So it is,” Taylor giggled. “Hi, Lara!”
“Hi, Taylor.” I said friendlily. “Hey, how about you two come down from there and get off to bed. You must be really exhausted from all that Quidditch playing.”
Taylor, who was a complete idiot when he was drunk, jumped off the table immediately. “I am tired!” He announced, and skipped up to his dormitory.
Lucy, however, was more stubborn. “No! No way!” She yelled. “Black and yellow!”
“Yes, Luce, black and yellow.” I said patiently. “House colors. Now, come down from there.”
Lucy frowned. “Why?”
“Because, you know the Weird Sisters?” I asked Lucy. She bobbed her head up and down rapidly. “They’re waiting to meet you in our dorm!” I said in mock excitement.
“Really?!” Lucy asked.
“Yeah!” I said.
Lucy gave a squeal, and hightailed it upstairs.
I turned around, glad that mess was cleaned up, and spotted another one of my friends, Carly Johnson, getting into trouble. Trouble taking the form of Joshua Pederson hitting on her. But I knew that Carly had been pining after Joshua for the whole summer, so I decided to let her handle it on her own. She’d figure out all he wanted was a good shag soon enough. Maybe that was all she wanted too. You could never really tell with Carly.
I went down the checklist in my head. Lucy and Taylor were taken care of. Dom and Peter were no longer illegally drinking. Carly was to be left alone. That only left one more mess for me to mop up. Albus and Nadia.
I really didn’t mind getting him out of trouble. It wasn’t a big deal. Nadia was probably going to be too drunk to remember what I was about to do anyway.
“Hey, babe.” I whispered in Albus’s ear, causing him to jump about a foot in the air. I wrapped my arm around his waist and shot him a ‘Just-Go-With-It’ look. “Who’s this?”
Nadia looked totally confused. “What?” She asked loudly, hiccupping. Drunk. “Alby? You have a girlfriend?”
Albus opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it.
He looked like a fish. Glub glub.
“Yes!” I said over the cheering of the drunken Hufflepuff teens. “I’m Lara Hanson! Are you a friend of Albus’s?”
I’m usually prepared for a lot of things, ranging from tragic break-ups to lost Quidditch matches, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the domino effect that Nadia created in reaction to my confirmation.
“LARA HANSON IS DATING ALBUS POTTER? BUT ALBUS POTTER LOVES MEEEEEE!”
Yes, she did scream it to the whole Common room. And somehow, her voice achieved a volume that dominated the party’s, and every deranged female within fifty meters of us heard.
Worse, they were drunken teenage fangirls.
The only thing I could say was a simple, adequate, “Shit.”
And then I ran.
I was halfway to the Entrance Hall, ready to get off the grounds and Apparate the hell out of Hogwarts, when I realized that Albus was running next to me.
“What . . . the . . . hell . . . are you doing here?” I panted.
“You dolt! Save . . . yourself!”
Albus grabbed my arm and jerked me through a stone wall that was apparently a door. I peeked out, and realized that the girls were long gone.
Great. Now I have to have a conversation with Albus.
“That was brilliant.” Albus said, breathing heavily, his emerald-green eyes shining.
Okay. This boy needs a therapist.
“Brilliant? You thought that was brilliant?” I asked, staring at him incredulously. “Are you insane? That was horrifying! That was mentally scarring! You just mentally scarred me, Albus Potter!” I shoved his chest, and he hardly moved.
Stupid Quidditch-toned muscles.
“Are you kidding me? They left! They didn’t even run after you! They didn’t even run after me!” He said with obvious glee.
“Then why the hell am I here?” I asked.
Albus shrugged. “You ran. I ran after you. I need to ask you something.”
I looked at him suspiciously. “What?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest.
“I need you to be my fake girlfriend.”
“No.” I said flatly, and turned to leave.
“No, wait!” He said, grabbing my arm. “I’ll pay you!”
He’s kidding, right?
“I am not a prostitute, Albus Potter!” I screeched, slapping his hand off my arm. “You are SICK.”
“Not like that!” Albus said hastily. “Like . . . I dunno . . . I just need to date you for a little while to get them off my back. Until Easter.”
“Albus, that’s seven months. You want me to fake date you for seven months.” I said flatly. “No.”
“Not during holidays!” Albus said. “I really need those fangirls gone!” His voice had desperation in it that was disproportionate to the annoyance the fangirls should have caused. I sat down, and patted the floor next to me.
“Why?” I asked curiously as he sat down. “They aren’t that annoying.”
“Well . . . no.” Albus admitted.
“So why so desperate?” I asked.
“Well . . . there’s this girl.” He began.
“It’s always a girl.” I commented. He glared at me, and I motioned for him to continue.
“Her name’s Harriet. I really like her. But she won’t date me because she thinks that I actually like the girls that follow me around. She thinks I date them.” Albus wrinkled his nose in disgust, and I listened curiously. I wanted to hear more about the person who had finally reached Albus’s heart.
“Last year, I almost had her convinced that I don’t like all that attention . . . but I made a mistake.” He said. “I was drunk, and it didn’t mean anything, but I . . .” His face turned bright red.
“What?” I asked teasingly. “Let me guess. You were in the middle of shagging a girl and Harriet walked in. She never trusted you again because she thought you can’t handle a serious relationship and you’ll cheat on her. She doesn’t want to get hurt.”
“Yes,” Albus grunted almost inaudibly. I laughed.
“That’s quite a situation.” I snickered.
“I’m glad you think it’s funny.” Albus said, glaring at me.
“There are ground rules!” I called to him as he walked away. “You have to be gentlemanly! And no kissing, only hand holding!”
He just waved and continued down the passage.
I sighed and shoved my fingers into my hair. What did I just get myself into?