It is several hours past curfew by the time I make it back to the Fat Lady and the Gryffindor common room. By now the Prefects have all gone to bed so the only thing I have to fear in the shadows of Hogwarts’ hallways is other straying students and the caretakers sodding cat. Luckily I do not come across either and make it to the portrait hole without mishap. The Fat lady glowers at me as I wake her from her snooze and mutter the password.
“Really Miss Weasley, what time do you call this? I dread to think what you’ve been up to,” she sneers suggestively but I ignore her and clamber through into the almost dark common room. The only light comes from the glowing coals in the fireplace. Making my way across the crimson room, I crouch before the fireplace and begin stoking the fire back to life.
“This is late even for you,” a voice murmurs behind me. If I had not checked the map just before I came in, I would have started at the sound of another person’s voice in this seemingly empty room. As it is, I reply without even turning around.
“I think you’ll find it is early as opposed to late.”
“Whatever Rose,” the voice grumbles as its owner manoeuvres themselves into a sitting position. “I need your help,” they mumble at last. I wait for them to continue. “You see… I have this problem.”
“When people ask for help, it is generally assumed they have a problem,” I mutter.
“Yeah, yeah… Anyway, I’ve been seeing this guy for a while now but we’ve kept it secret. I want to go public but he doesn’t and I’m worried it is because he is also seeing someone else,” the voice mutters. “I was wondering if you’d see how he reacted if you came onto him,” they finish bluntly.
“It will cost you.”
“Twenty galleons, I know,” she sighs. This is not the first time she has asked for my help.
“I’m going to need to know his name Lucy,” I sigh and turn around to face my cousin. It is no surprise really that I had no idea she was even seeing someone. I do not tend to keep track of who all my cousins are dating and despite the fact that I am closer to Lucy than the rest of them, I still do not particularly care about who she is with. Why should I? Even if she is the closest thing I have to a friend. It’s not my life.
“Well that’s the thing…” she mumbles awkwardly and I repress I sigh. It was typical Lucy to go for someone embarrassing or weird. Last time I helped her, she was dating a guy in the year below who never stopped chewing gum. Ever. It was disgusting and I made her pay me an extra five galleons.
“I can’t help unless I know his name.”
“Please don’t hate me,” she rushes, causing me to narrow my eyes at her.
“Lucy, you know full well that my emotional range goes from mild interest to irritated. Anything more extreme I don’t feel.” It was partly true. Ever since the incident with Dave, I have stopped myself feeling anything extreme. It is not worth it.
“I know it’s just that… Well…”
“Just spit it out.”
“It’s Dave,” she blurts out rather loudly, clearly frightened of my reaction.
“No.” I say simply, turning back to the fire.
“Please Rose, I’ll pay extra.”
“Please,” she begs.
“Ro, I’ll do anything,” she pleads.
“Lucy, you know full well that you will not do anything because that is a ridiculous thing to suggest. Would you jump off the Astronomy Tower? Because that is included in the concept of ‘anything’. Would you drown yourself in the Black Lake with the Giant Squid? Because that is also included in ‘anything’… It is an absurd thing to say.”
“Ro, you’re changing the subject,” Lucy sighs. “I just want to know if he won’t go public because he’s not serious about me, that’s all, and you are the only person I know who can help me.”
“Well that is a shame because I cannot help you.” She rolls her eyes at my sarcasm.
“Jeez Ro,” she grumbles. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you still had feelings for the guy.”
“Go to bed Lucy,” I instruct over my shoulder, keeping my face blank. She just gives me a pleading look before getting up and heading for the Seventh Year girls’ dormitory. It was ludicrous. Utter insanity. How dare she even ask for my help?
As I take her seat on the couch, I stare at the dark shadows that are the ceiling and try to get her words out of my head. I’d say you still had feelings for the guy. I do not. In case you are wondering. I don’t feel anything that extreme, remember? Then why do those words bother me so much? I suppose there is only one thing I can do. I will have to prove to Lucy that I honestly do not have any feelings left for Dave McLaggen. I will show her that what happened really doesn’t matter to me anymore. I will do as she asks and I will seduce him. I will make him want me again. And then I will slink off into the shadows while my cousin hexes his brains out.
The first day of lessons arrives and I breeze through classes half asleep. It is a permanent problem of mine: I am constantly tired throughout the day but when night comes, I can never get to sleep until the early hours of the morning. And I mean the late early hours if you get me. The Professors never seem to notice though and as I am not failing anything, they hardly care even if they do notice. Professor Longbottom is the only one who ever gave me any hassle but after I persistently fell asleep in his lessons and was still able to get and Outstanding in my OWL, he left me alone.
I spend my free periods in the library as usual but today no uncertain girls or frustrated boys come and seek my help. I get ahead on my homework before putting my head down on the desk and drifting off to sleep for half an hour. That is another talent of mine, it doesn’t not matter what time I go to sleep, if I tell myself I have to be awake by a certain time, I automatically wake up at exactly that time. It is quite useful as it means I do not have to rely on alarm clocks.
“Ro? Ro, wake up,” someone nudges me in the ribs and I can feel them pushing my books to the side of the table as they sit down beside me. Opening my eyes, I am greeted with a blurry world and a clock face that says I still have seven minutes to sleep.
“Go away Lucy,” I sigh before resting my head back on the table.
“No, I wanted to talk to you about last night. Look, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked you–”
“I’ll do it,” I interrupt.
“You’ll… You’ll do it?” Lucy asks in surprise.
“Yes. Now go away.”
“And you’re not just saying that?”
“Do you want to make an Unbreakable Vow or something? Yes, I will do it,” I snap.
“Okay, okay, thank you so much Rose, it means a lot,” Lucy smiles before backing away from me and out of the library. I fall straight back to sleep for the remaining five minutes until it is time for my last lesson of the day: Potions. My favourite.
I nod to Professor Zabini as I enter his dungeon classroom and take a seat at the back. He is the only Professor whose eyes do not glaze over me as he looks around at the class. Most Professors tend to act like I do not exist which, to be honest, I quite like. Zabini is different. If I had to name one Professor that I respected even in the slightest, it would be him.
The NEWT level Potions class is quite small. There is the shy Hufflepuff girl who sits in the corner and doesn’t talk to anyone; there are the two Ravenclaw nerds who have an unfortunate tendency to blow up their potions; there is my cousin Albus who only takes Potions because he wants to be an Auror; there is Albus’ friend Keegan Finnigan; a thuggish looking Slytherin who I am pretty sure would not even hurt a fly, Scorpius Malfoy and, of course, myself.
“Please get yourselves into pairs,” Zabini drones as he begins to write the instructions on the board with his wand. The thuggish looking Slytherin looks hesitantly at the shy Hufflepuff who smiles at him in return and he plucks up the courage to go and join her on her table in the corner. Albus and Keegan immediately high five and begin gathering ingredients and the Ravenclaw nerds trip over their own feet in their excitement to light the fire for their cauldron.
“Looks like you’re stuck with me Thorn,” someone murmurs from above me and I look up to see the only other partnerless person in the room: Scorpius Sodding Malfoy. I am never quite sure why I don’t like Malfoy, I just keep telling myself that it is more than the fact he stole my first kiss, because quite frankly, that is a ridiculous notion. I mean, first kisses don’t mean anything.
“Aren’t I lucky,” I sneer back and scrape my chair across the stone slabs as I get up to grab some ingredients.
“No need to sound too enthusiastic,” Malfoy mutters. I ignore him.
Similarly to the Hufflepuff and her partner, Malfoy and I work in silence; he measures out the ingredients while I stir the potion, making up my own method. The text book is lying open in front of us but neither of us really pays any attentions to it. Across the room, one of the Ravenclaws is trying to demist his glasses while the other tries to lessen the smoke rising from their cauldron. Albus and Keegan are throwing ingredients in randomly, too busy talking about Quidditch to pay any attention to their potion.
“Miss Weasley, Mr Malfoy,” Zabini sighs. “It appears you work well together, ten points to each of your Houses,” he nods before moving on to the mess the Ravenclaws had made. “It seems wit does not mean everything I see,” he mocks.
“So Thorn,” Malfoy smirks. “Been breaking any hearts lately?”
“And what makes you think I would tell you if I had?” I reply monotonously without looking up from the cauldron.
“Well you haven’t been snogging me so I assume you’ve found someone else to snog. Merlin knows you cannot control you hormones,” he replies in the tone of voice you would normally associate with discussions on the weather.
“At the rate you carry on Malfoy, you might lead me to think that you want me to be snogging you.”
“We’ve been through this before Thorn,” he sighs. “I just indulge your obsession with me out of pity; I could never want someone like you.”
“Someone like me? And who exactly is someone like me?”
“Well that’s the thing Thorn: there is no one as screwed up as you are.”
“Thank you for that invaluable insight Malfoy.”
“You’re welcome Thorn… So how is Quidditch practice?” he changes the subject so suddenly I am almost thrown.
“The same as ever.”
“Need any new players for the team this year?”
“Still McLaggen then?”
“I never liked him much.”
“Well it’s a good thing he isn’t on your team then, isn’t it?” I reply with a sneer.
“Do you like him?”
“I don’t have an opinion on him.”
“Okay, please put one vial of your potion on my desk and vanish the rest before putting away the equipment and any leftover ingredients,” Zabini instructs the class. Before Malfoy can say a thing, I scoop up one vial of the lavender potion and levitate it to Zabini’s desk before vanishing the rest.
“That is the epitome of lazy,” Malfoy nods his head to the vial I had just levitated. I just shrug and begin clearing away. “Well, have fun at Quidditch practice,” he calls over his shoulder as he slings his bag up onto it and walks out of the class room behind Albus and Keegan. The Ravenclaws are still trying to scrape together a vial’s worth of potion and the thuggish looking Slytherin is awkwardly offering to carry the Hufflepuff’s bag.
It is only September but so far North, the light is already beginning to fade by the time we have finished classes. As I make my way down to the Quidditch pitch I wonder if Albus will make us practice in the dark – it would not be a first. Throwing my school bag and books into my locker, I pull out my Quidditch robes the House Elves must have put in here earlier and begin to change before any of the other team members arrive.
As luck would have it, our Keeper is the first down. I manage to avoid speaking to Dave unless absolutely necessary and he tends to follow my lead but for some reason, today he decides on a different tact.
“Hello Rose,” he smiles as he comes in and dumps his bag down. “How was your summer?”
“Okay,” I reply, staring at my shoes. He begins to change in front of me. It is nothing unusual, we normally all change together, but it still doesn’t feel right. Even though I feel absolutely nothing for him anymore, I mean it has been almost three years. “How was yours?”
“Pretty good,” he grins, evidently surprised to have gotten a response out of me. “Reckon Al will make us train in the dark?”
“Maybe,” I shrug.
“Any idea who’s trying out this year?”
“There was a decent bloke who tried out for Chaser last year but I can’t remember his name. He almost beat Keegan onto the team,” Dave suggests.
“Can’t remember,” I shrug again.
“What about the Beater though? You got any idea who you might want to play with?”
“Right…” Thankfully our increasingly awkward conversation is interrupted as Albus and Keegan barge in, brooms slung casually over their shoulders. They both greet Dave enthusiastically and start chatting about the summer while I just sit there and wait. At last Lucy shows up and I notice her smile discreetly at Dave. Whether he notices I cannot tell as he doesn’t respond.
“Come on then team, let’s go see what we’ve got to work with,” Albus shouts over the hubbub of conversation. Everyone immediately shuts up and grabs their broom before following Albus onto the pitch. “Right everyone!” Albus yells at the gathered students, the shinning Captain’s badge on his chest catching the remains of the light. “If you are trying out for anything other than a Chaser or a Beater, sorry, we don’t need you. If you are not in Gryffindor, get loss, we don’t need you either. And if you are crap… Well hang around so we can laugh at you,” Albus grins at the remaining students, most of whom are clutching their brooms nervously.
“Al… Is that your sister?” Keegan asks rather loudly, indicating to a red head near the back to the crowd. Albus peers at the girl, standing on tiptoes to get a better view, and finally decides that it is, indeed, his little sister.
“Right Lily,” he grins wickedly. “I see you were listening to my last instruction,” he winks and Lily pulls a face at him. “Okay, the rest of you… If you are trying out for Beater, go over there, if you are trying out for Chaser, go over there,” he orders and the group splits into two uneven clusters. The smaller group are those trying out for Beater and I have a small feeling my reputation may have something to do with that as whoever gets that place has to work with me. Which unsurprisingly does not appeal to most people.
“Chasers split into threes, Beaters into pairs,” Albus orders and signals for Dave to get a Quaffle. “Beaters, go talk to Rose, Chasers, follow me,” and with that, Albus kicks off into the air and Dave passes him the Quaffle.
Turning reluctantly to the group of Beater candidates, I notice a couple of them are glaring at me.
“First rule of the Quidditch pitch: anything that has happened, is happening or might happen outside the pitch, stays outside the pitch. Nothing matters in here except for Quidditch. Understood?” I bark out. “Are you all in pairs?” A couple of people nod their heads. “Right, I want you to take one of these cricket balls and hit it back and forth between your pair,” I instruct and hand out several cricket balls. A couple of students look a little confused as to what a cricket ball actually is. “Well? What are you waiting for?”
It does not take long for me to distinguish between the hopeless cases and those with potential. I quickly end the dreams of the hopeless ones and divide the remaining four into new pairs before setting loose a real Bludger and instructing them to chase it. As they race around the pitch, I go over to Albus who has just touched back down to the ground, looking thoroughly windswept.
“I’ve got four potentials, one I don’t think I will be able to work with; one who has a good arm but doesn’t notice the Bludger until it is almost in front of her, one who wears so much mascara she can barely keep her eyes open and one who I think is clearly the best option but, well… she’s your sister,” I shrug. “I’ll let you choose. Just not the blonde, she looks like she wants to murder me in my sleep and then get in your pants.”
“Well, she is more than welcome in my pants,” Albus snorts as he looks across at the potential new Beaters. “And the short brunette with the eyelid problem has already been in my pants so that’s not a good option. Is the tall brunette really that bad at spotting the Bludgers?” I nod. “Well looks like we have our new Beater then,” he frowns. “Never had her down as a Beater though… I suppose she does have a good arm. She’s punched me more times than I can count and let me tell you, she doesn’t punch light.”
A few minutes later, we have our team: Albus as Seeker; Keegan, Lucy and Will Henderson as Chasers; Dave as Keeper and Lily and I as Beaters. It is an unusual outcome, none of us expected Lily to try out, least of all for the Beater position, but life is full of surprises isn’t it?
Albus then makes us practice for the next three hours in the rain. I think Will and Lily are already regretting trying out for the team.
Hello again, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know your thoughts, either here or on my blog (address on author's page). Also, if you have any questions for my characters, that is the place to go. Thanks again for reading, IrishMyth.