Chapter 2 : 2 - Lies, deceit and compliments
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I muttered a groan of frustration as I banged my head on the table in the library, giving Madam Thistlethwaite a coronary and frightening some first years. One visibly jumped back, her face alight with terror. Good. They needed corrupting. I glared at them and they scurried off, probably to discuss the new deranged Head Girl.
Poppy sat next to me, happily humming a tune whilst ignoring my outburst and doing her favourite pastime – colouring. I cleared my throat loudly to get her attention, which at the best times was hard to do. She eyed me warily.
“Why do you bother doing all this boring stuff, anyway?” she asked, sticking a crayon into her mouth thoughtfully. “It’s not worth all the hassle. You can colour with me instead.”
“No thanks,” I replied drily, eyeing her multi-coloured unicorn with distaste. I returned to the masses of paper in front of me, detailing all sorts of charts and lists that made my head spin. It was only a few days into the term, and I could already feel my stress levels rising to biblical proportions. I returned to my Russian spy fantasy, blocking out the incessant noises of concentration from Poppy.
Albus noisily scraping his chair across the floor shook me from my daydreams. He raised an eyebrow at me questioningly, and I realised I had drool unattractively making its way down my chin. I wiped it away, trying to look haughty and dignified. I failed miserably.
“Rose, what the hell is all this?” Albus enquired his voice disbelieving.
“This,” I replied haughtily, “Is my grand plan to keep you out of trouble for the rest of the year, you swine!” He snorted at my choice of insult, sounding like a pig. How apt.
“Good luck with that, Rosie. You’ll never be able to catch me and Hugo,” he said, winking devilishly. My eyes narrowed to slits in return. And to think the girls swooned over that smile? It just made me want to vomit. I flung myself back, huffing irritably.
“Eldridge threatened to take away my headship,” I muttered to the ground, crossing my arms like a small child and pouting. Albus struggled not to laugh until I silenced him with a death glare. With this, he adopted a mock-serious expression and leant forward.
“Rosie, Rosie, Rosie. Have you learnt nothing from me? The key to any teacher’s heart is to flatter them shamelessly. How do you think I’ve managed to get away with my entire school career? Lies, deceit and compliments.”
Hmm. He had a point.
“Plus,” he continued, seeing my resolve weaken, “it’s so easy to do that even you could do it.” He carefully avoided the quill I chucked at him, smirking.
“I remember the days when you were quiet and innocent,” I seethed, thinking back to our first year together when he was too nervous to get on the train. How times have changed. His pondering expression seemed to mirror my thoughts.
“Yes, but would you have it any other way?” he teased. “Wait, don’t answer that.” I rolled my eyes as Poppy finished her colouring with a flourish, grinning broadly at us. We both stared, unsure whether to laugh or cry.
“So all I need to do is... throw in a few compliments here and there?” I asked reservedly, getting back onto our conversation. Poppy had moved on to the next page and was scribbling away. Albus nodded wisely, looking smug that he’d convinced the Head Girl to follow his dark and twisted path.
“A compliment a day keeps the Eldridge away,” he sang, and took off running before I had time to get up and smack him round the head. “See ya, Rosie!” he called out as Madam Thistlethwaite cursed after him. Poppy looked at me with wide eyes.
“You gonna take his advice?” she asked. “I dunno if you should.”
“Why not? He’s avoided trouble somehow,” I replied with a shrug. “If he can do it, then I definitely can. I can!” I whined at Poppy’s disbelieving face. Honestly. If Albus and Hugo, my brother definitely not being the sharpest knife in the drawer could just swan about charming the pants off of teachers... why couldn’t I?
“Because you’re surly and uncharismatic?” Poppy said, seemingly answering my thoughts aloud. I hurled a fierce glare at her.
“That’s a big word for you Poppy, well done.”
“See what I mean? You’ll never do it!” she replied, frowning at my veiled insult. I laughed evilly to myself before realising that she was right. I was a snarky cow and proud of it; could this really go well?
“Well, it’s going to have to work. It’s the easy way out, after all. People don’t seem to find me intimidating, as much as I try, and if my Head Girl position isn’t secure then I’ll never be supreme leader.”
“All bite and no bark?” Poppy giggled, and I glared at her, which was soon becoming my permanent facial expression. With this I packed up my things, feeling a bounce in my step. I’d being turning into some sort of princess next! I quickly banished the thought of myself talking to woodland animals and dancing round with beautiful princes. “I’ll see you later, Pops.”
I left the library purposefully, my nose in the air and showing all the confidence and grace of a rock. Never mind. I’d wow the teachers with my razor-sharp wit and charm them so much that even Professor Flitwick would bow down to me.
I really had to stop thinking of people doing that.
Okay. I could do this. Operation Smooth Talker had begun after a big lunch. What? I needed my energy.
My next lesson was Ancient Runes, followed by Transfiguration. The usually bustling crowds I struggled to move through seemed to part like the Red Sea; I soon realised that it was because my purposeful stare was probably being mistaken for me wanting to murder someone. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. Or the first time I’ve wanted to murder someone.
Operation Smooth Talker was able to come into action far earlier than expected. I spotted Madame Devreau, the new Muggle Studies teacher, heading for her classroom along the corridor. She was a rather large woman, who always wore bright robes. I quickly faked a bright smile and made my way over to her.
“Afternoon, Madame Devreau!” I said jovially. Christ, this was tiring already. I didn’t know how positive people did it all the time! Madame Devreau gave me a slightly confused, but polite smile back. I had no reason to talk to her normally – I mean, Muggle Studies, really? Poppy took that one.
“Good afternoon, Miss Weasley,” she replied, noting my Head Girl badge which was pinned to my robes and newly polished. I’d gone to a special effort; usually I just shoved it in my bag and hoped everyone just remembered that I was supposed to be the most terrifying girl in the school. They usually did. “What can I do for you?”
“I just wanted to wish you a very nice day and that your wig looks excellent in this light!” I said cheerfully. Her mouth fell open, aghast, and a few students looked at me as if I were mad, tittering to themselves. My insides plummeted as I realised my mistake. I thought everyone knew she had a wig on! It was so obvious, the way it was falling to the side slightly.
“Miss Weasley, you will do well to remember your place as Head Girl!” Madame Devreau shrieked, and I cringed at the pitch of her voice, my cheeks flaming. She quickly hurried off, affronted as I stood there in shock. I was being nice, the stupid cow! Ugh. People clearly needed to learn to love themselves a bit more. Girl power, and all that.
Undeterred, I headed to my next class. The corridors were beginning to empty out a bit more, and I soon realised that I’d be late for Runes. Damn. Some flattery was unavoidable in this situation. I put on a sugary sweet smile as I reached the classroom door.
My teacher was Professor Reid, a weedy little man with greying everything and who looked like a small puff of air would blow him over. He looked up and raised an eyebrow, and I took a seat in the middle of the class whilst chirping “Sorry I’m late, Professor!” in my most sing-song voice. I ignored the weird stares I got from my classmates; Hufflepuffs were pricks anyway.
I beamed at Professor Reid, who merely sighed and turned back to his scribbling on the ancient chalkboard. I took notes dutifully and answered every question with a small flourish at the end, to the point where someone chucked a paper ball at my head and asked what kind of potion I was taking. I incinerated the paper ball in response.
The class ended and people began packing away. I finished in double quick time and shot to the front of the class. Professor Reid turned round slowly, and seemed to physically recoil from my mega-watt smile. I scanned his desk and saw a ratty old quill, which I transfigured into an apple. “Hi, Professor! I just wanted to say what a great lesson that was today. Ancient Runes really is fascinating,” I added, simpering for extra measure and offering him the juicy fruit. Professor Reid simply stared blankly at me, as if waiting for me to finish. How rude. I faltered. “I, err. Like your tank top. Lovely shade of grey. It matches your... eyebrows.”
“Miss Weasley, that is my lucky quill that you have just transfigured into the one fruit I am allergic to,” Professor Reid wheezed, gasping and clutching his throat dramatically. I pulled back my offering in horror. “Even being in the same room as one is detrimental to my health. Baggins, please help me to the Hospital Wing!” he cried at the nearest bewildered student at the door, who helped him out of the room. The rest of the class looked at me as I quickly transfigured the quill back and bowled out of the classroom, my face like beetroot. Of all the allergies in the world!
Oh God. This was turning out to be an absolute disaster. I’d mortally offended one teacher and almost killed another. What next? I shook myself and willed my cheeks to return to a normal colour as I stalked through the halls to Transfiguration. So what if the other attempts of Operation Smooth Talker hadn’t worked? Third time’s a charm. I’d just been unlucky so far.
With renewed enthusiasm from my mini pep-talk and putting last lessons; unpleasant memory from my mind, I faced the task at hand. Professor Dannelley was not the kind of person who smiled in lessons or just smiled, ever. There were rumours going round that he’d killed a man before he was a Professor. I reckoned he was a secret teddy bear, and I was determined to bring that side out.
I arrived early, beaming at the Professor and meticulously unpacking all of my things. The Professor merely managed a stony faced glare in return as the rest of the students filed in, ready for another deathly silent and dull lesson with everyone’s least favourite teacher.
It was hard not to fall into a sleepy stupor in Professor Dannelley’s lessons, with all the incredibly hard NEWT work and his droning voice. I found myself daydreaming, returning to my Russian spy fantasy, with the slight modification of me dressed as a princess the entire time.
“Miss Weasley?” an icy voice called out. I shook myself awake to find the Professor staring down at me, drawing himself to his full height. I gulped. When Professor Dannelley got mad, he made a manticore look harmless. “Can I trouble you for an answer, or do I need to ask you again?”
“Uhh..” I offered stupidly, looking round desperately for a clue of what the hell he was on about. Suddenly, an idea came to me. Was it risky? Yes, but it might just work. Putting on my cheesiest grin, I began the stupidest conversation I have ever had in my life.
“Has anyone told you your robes are particularly fetching today, Professor?”
The room stilled, as if in shock. Professor Dannelley started to shake with rage, but in my moment of pure deliriousness, I pressed on.
“Your hair looks very nice today. Did you do something different with it?” my Cheshire cat grin began to fade as the Professor’s face went an unattractive puce colour. My confidence died as my voice came out as a squeak.
“You have beautiful eyes?”
“Detention, Miss Weasley!” he roared, as the class sat in shocked silence as he marched back to his desk, screaming that the class had written work for the remainder of the lesson.