Wowzers, look at this chapter image! It's fantastic, right? Well, it was done by Schultz. over at TDA!
To tell you the truth, the whispers and judging looks that followed me everywhere were kind of flattering.
The fact that I had a section in the student's school newsletter – run by a Ms. Kate Skeeter – on the mystery of my supposed 'pregnancy', was really touching.
I'd had no idea that people cared about me so much.
I suppose I hadn't been unpopular before the whole debacle. I hung around with the Wotters – and they were practically famous. Actually, they were, come to think of it. I'd made a big name for myself, prankster extraordinare, that kid who took out a table of Puffs during her first feast.
To most of the Slytherins, I was okay.
To most of the Gryffindors, I was a hero.
To most of the Hufflepuffs, I was an idol.
To most of the Ravenclaws, I was an amusement.
And now I didn't know where I stood.
But hey, I suppose that all my 'fans' that read my featured article were only wondering about who the 'father' was. There were reports about James, a fact which we shared laughs over. Three anonymous guys had even come forth and proclaimed that they had slept with me.
In their dreams.
I was being avoided like the plague, yet I could sense that they were like vultures; as soon as I showed weakness they would swoop in – and then it was goodbye Willow.
Of course, the reports that Bella was the one who was knocked up – not me – were dismissed. Bella was the good girl. She never got into trouble, except when I'd dragged her in, kicking and screaming. Whereas me, well, what was I? According to every hiss I heard in the female bathroom at the moment, Willow Evergreen was a good-for-nothing, lazy, fat, sluttish, bitchy, pregnant cow.
Okay, I could understand the 'good-for-nothing', and maybe even lazy, fat or bitchy.
How was I a slut?
I wore concealing clothes that left a lot to the imagination, unlike some people – cough, cough, Kate Skeeter – who seemed to think that prancing about in their underwear was a fashion trend.
Yes, I know. That was hypocritical of me. But that's honestly only happened four times to me. That I can remember. That I wasn't completely wasted for.
One: The Initiation.
According to the ancient law of having fun at a boarding school, if you do not pass initiation in first year, you will never be treated as an equal by your fellow students. This tradition is as follows:
1. You must strip to your underwear.
2. It must be midnight exactly.
3. You have one hour to steal a single item from every teacher's office.
4. Then, you must return them the next day in daylight without being caught.
5. If you are caught returning said items, your result is not affected. You may still graduate.
I'm actually really proud of myself for making all my fellow first year's and the first years after me believe in that shit.
Two: The Dare.
Funnily enough, back in third year, I got dared on a warm weekend to go jump in the lake in my undies. Never one to pass up such an opportunity, I of course complied.
Then I caused an epidemic of Squid Hugs.
Three: The Sleepwalking.
I don't know how this happened, but I woke up once in the Kitchens eating a chocolate cake. Yes, with limited clothing. That was last year.
I was going through a rough patch.
And finally; four: The Complete Freak-Out Because I Discovered Something I Really Didn't Want To Know About Bella.
Y'all know about that one.
Anyway, seeing as I'd only dated three guys, ever, I didn't really know how I was meant to be a slut.
I was a virgin, for crying out loud.
As for the whole 'cow' thing, I was fairly certain that I, in absolutely no way resembled a large, grazing, farm creature. I had two legs, I didn't have horns, and I sure as hell didn't 'moo'.
Except when I heard people calling me a cow.
Then I 'mooed' at them.
But who wouldn't?
Besides, if I had to be any farm animal, I considered myself to be more of a pig.
It was a Sunday night. Pretty late, actually.
I really shouldn't have been up. I had Quidditch in the morning, but I just couldn't get to sleep. I was lying on the couch, studying the Common Room ceiling. The fire crackled, warm and comfortable.
“Hey,” Fred whispered, “budge over?” I complied. I was too tired and fuzzy to be mad.
“So, how's life at your end of the spectrum?” I asked.
“I'm sorry, you know,” he said, not meeting my eye, “about everything.”
“It's alright. I've done some pretty bad stuff to you too, over the years. Nothing as bad as getting your best friend knocked up, but still.” My vague attempt at conjuring humour failed.
“No, I just...” he sighed. “I just wanted you to know that I've never hated you. And you have every right to be mad with me, and I'm sorry for being an arsehole to you all the time, and I'm going to stick by Bella, because I do love her, and seeing as your practically her whole family now, I thought you'd better know. And I'm sorry.”
“I know, I know.” I wiped a tear away. Great. Emotion. Just what I needed. “I thought I hated you, but now...”
“Yeah, that cow Skeeter. Now she's saying I knocked you up.”
I hiccuped a little, and giggled.
“I'm sorry for being a bitch to you, too. And you had better stick to Bella like glue, otherwise you'll feel my ultimate wrath.”
“Don't worry, I will.”
I woke with the dawn. The fire had dimmed – not quite out, but not really crackling, just glowing.
“Mmmm....” I rolled over and stretched. I had a blanket draped over me, and my head was resting on a pillow.
Did he do that?
Before last night, I would have never thought in a million years... but now?
Anyway, despite all of the shit that was going on, I felt kind of good. The sun was shining, I was warm and fuzzy, Quidditch was going to be great because I was going to flog my little bro, and who cared about what was being whispered about me behind my back?
It wasn't even true! They couldn't hold something false against me!
I hurried up to the dorms, flung open the windows, pulled on my Quidditch robes, grabbed my broomstick, and jumped out onto the roof. I breathed it in, a deep, beautiful delight of freshness, and leapt off into the air.
I dipped and dived, soaring, scattering pigeons in the courtyard. The pure, undulated feeling of joy when I flew: it was honestly indescribable.
I drifted back through the window, and padded softly over to Bella's bed. There were five girls with whom I shared a dormitory; Penny May, Jessica Lane, Tracey Campbell, Julie Herron and of course Bella Flint. None of them were awake yet.
Good. That meant the guys probably weren't awake either.
Cue evil laugh.
“RISE AND SHINE, LITTLE MUNCHKINS!” I yelled at the seven guys belonging to James' dorm. “IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND WE'RE GOING TO FLOG THOSE SLIMY SNAKES!”
They all groaned. Honestly, you'd think they'd get used to it after all this time.
I narrowed my eyes, and leapt on James.
“Willow...?” James, who else would it be at five thirty in the morning?
“ARGH! JAMES GET OFF ME!” I was being tickled.
Tickle torture is the worst kind of pain. You are immobilised, laughing your head off; yet you are in agony. Since he discovered it in second year, James has used that weapon against me, without mercy.
He stopped, suddenly.
“At least I'm wearing clothes this time,” I muttered.
“We could change that...” James whispered, jokingly.
“WILL YOU TWO QUIT FLIRTING ALREADY? IT'S PISSING ME OFF AND IT'S FIVE IN THE MORNING!” Hamish yelled. I rolled my eyes. What flirting? I didn't flirt.
“C'mon James, we have to plan the victory party!”
“Ooh, yes! Count me in!” James was so easily excited. A bit like me.
“Me too, me too!” cried Fred.
An hour later, and we were finalising the party guest list. Well, James and I were; Fred was snoring on the Common Room couch. I knew how he felt. It was a particularly comfortable couch. I had my head on James’ leg, because – well, it was comfortable.
“So, we'll say, fifty people tops?”
“Less.” I said. “Just our close group.”
“So the guys in our dorm, a couple of Puffs, your Claw buddies, three Slytherins, our cousins and a few Gryffindor girls?”
“Not a chance in hell.” Nathan, near Firewhiskey? He was practically a baby! Okay, so he was a third year, and I'd been drinking Firewhiskey by then, but I digress.
“Fifi and Rose are on it.” Fifi and Rose liked being in the Kitchens. And the House Elves loved Rose, because of the work her mother had done in helping them.
“Truth or Dare?”
“Definitely.” Truth or Dare, a game which had followed my fellow students and I from kindergarten, was enhanced by the Veritaserum we stole every time such occasion arose, from Slughorn's secret storage room. Let's just say it made the game funnier, and more embarrassing. Of course, by the time morning came around, more often than not nothing could be recalled, as the Firewhiskey did its job.
“Who's stealing the Veritaserum?”
“Doesn't matter, as long as they have the Cloak.”
“Albus can. Slughorn loves him anyway, and the Slytherin Common Room is closest to the Potion Dungeons.”
“Yup,” I popped the 'p'. Really need to get that habit under control.
Eh, can’t be bothered.
“You know,” James said suddenly, “we should really go down to breakfast. It’s, like, six thirty already.”
The owls swooped in, like a horde of wasps.
Okay, so they weren’t buzzing or anything. And they weren’t brandishing their stingers.
So maybe they weren’t like wasps.
But, I digress.
They brought the morning post, as usual. There were excited gasps as little firsties received long awaited letters from their family.
Lucky little buggers.
The last time I'd written more than a single, short paragraph to my parents (it was a very long letter), I'd been in second year. They'd replied with: That's nice to hear from our favourite daughter, keep it up.
Dear family, seeing as I happen to be your only daughter, that's not actually a great compliment.
Nathan, of course, being the little favourite child, and the little suck-up that he was, still made an effort to write at least once a week. Our parents, being ignorant Muggles, hated the fact that most of what went on in their children's lives was to do with magic, and therefore we were (especially me, since Nathan was three years younger and they'd had some time to adjust before he got his letter) pretty disconnected from them. I didn't hate them, as such, but I felt I didn't really know them.
Anyway, I digress.
Breakfast was proving to be monotonous. It needed livening up.
I ran through a list of options. Making some random Puff tap-dance in the middle of the toast seemed a tad excessive, as did turning Cody Creevey into a canary (Canary Creams, although ancient Weasley products, could still be accessed, if you had the right contacts). However, I really did need to sort out a certain Kate Skeeter, and Eloise's idea seemed, well, ideal.
She also needed a nickname.
After a few seconds pondering the extent of my most illustrious examples, some of which including things like 'Bitch', 'Undesirable Number 1', 'Whoring Slut' and 'Miserable Hag', I settled upon my favourite: 'Her Royal Bitchiness', or 'HRB' for short.
I glanced at the Slytherin table.
There she was, surrounded by her equally pathetic, giggling lackeys.
Eloise was seated at the table, too, only she was among her Quidditch team. She was mouthing at me to go and show HRB who was in charge round here. Also, she was miming for me to slap her across the face.
Good idea, El.
I pointed my wand (cedar and phoenix feather, 11 inches) under the table, waved it about, and muttered a quick incantation. Her Royal Bitchiness jolted, as though clapped on the back by those Muggle inventions that restart hearts.
I hid a smirk.
Jessica Lane, a Gryffindor Chaser, with whom I was pretty good friends with, sent me a raised eyebrow.
I then didn't bother hiding my smirk.
I stood up, and strode in the direction of HRB, who was looking incredibly flustered.
“Oh, look what the cat's dragged in,” she smirked. Despite being weirded out, she could still manage to be condescending and spiteful. I had to say, I was impressed.
“Yes, it's me. You know, that person who you're spreading false rumours about? I'm not pregnant and I never have been, isn't that right?”
A strange silence had settled upon the students. They were watching a phenomenon that I was fairly certain had never before occurred. The top predator was being put in her place, by someone considered prey. They were amazed.
“Yes, of course you're right, but nobody's going to believe you, you good-for-nothing skank,” she spat. I smirked. My plan was working. El grinned at me.
“I think you'll find that you're wrong,” I called over my shoulder as I walked back to the Gryffindor table.
“Nice,” James congratulated, as whispers commenced.
Quidditch was about to commence. I was more excited than nervous, but the anticipation was making me sweat. And I wasn't even up in the air yet.
Wood was pacing, anxiously, Cody was bouncing a Fanged Frisbee against the wall of the tent, James was relaxing in a comfortable-looking chair (with cushions, for Merlin's sake! I never get that chair with those cushions!), Jess was snogging some poor bloke in the dimly lit shades of the back half of the tent, Don (Donna Kepler) was flicking through a Quibble, and Dom?
Dom was reapplying her already perfectly applied red lipstick.
And what was I doing, you ask?
Well, I was polishing my wand. After we won, I wanted to be prepared to hex some Snakes if they got out of hand. Okay, so I was friends with half the team, and the rest were pretty nice, but you never know. There was only one snobby bitch, a lackey of Her Royal Bitchiness herself: Tanya Zabini. Unlike most of the mindless, cowardly, gossiping chicks under HRB's reign, Zabini actually had intellectual capacity, and was therefore HRB's main right-hand gal.
Albus had taken me aside earlier, to hiss consiprationally – yes, that’s a word now - that I had his full permission to hex Zabini, as long as I didn't cause lasting damage. She was a fantastic Beater, probably because her spitefulness had an outlet – onto unsuspecting members of the opposing Quidditch teams.
She was too unimportant for me to be spending this much time thinking about her.
My wand was shining.
It needed a name.
Cecilia sounded good.
I pointed Cecilia at James' cushion and whispered, “Accio cushion.” I smirked, and watched it fly across the room.
“Oi!” came a disgruntled sound.
“Mine now,” I laughed, then stopped to listen as the two commentators, Lorcan and Lysander Scamander started their usual business: describing the Quidditch players.
Apparently, their mum – then Luna Lovegood – used to do the same thing back when she was in high-school. She was an infamous commentator.
It was rather funny to listen to; the twin's comments. They spoke as if they were one person. I didn't think I'd ever heard them complete a sentence independently of each other, at least when they've been together. They were in different houses; Lysander as Ravenclaw and Lorcan as a Hufflepuff.
“And now, coming out onto the pitch, we have-” said Lorcan or Lysander.
“- The two teams – Gryffindor and Slytherin! This should prove interesting, as I don't think-”
“- Personally that either have had a stronger side since Harry Potter-”
“- Himself was at Hogwarts. Which is funny, because today both of Harry's sons are competing-”
“- Against each other today. Ladies and gentlemen, may we please have a round of applause for-”
“- The Slytherin side; Scorpius Malfoy as Captain and Chaser, Nick Rainer as Keeper, Louis-”
“- Weasley as Beater, Eloise Thompson as Chaser, Tanya Zabini as Beater, Albus Potter as Seeker-”
“And the new talent on the pitch; Nathan Evergreen, as newly instated Chaser, brother of-”
“- The infamous Willow Evergreen, who is playing today as Beater for Gryffindor, alongside-” Infamous? I wasn't that infamous! At least I didn't think I was.
“- Olivia Wood, as Captain and Chaser, James Potter as Keeper, Jessica Lane as Chaser, Donna-”
“- Kepler, as Chaser, Dominique Weasley as Beater and the new talent for Gryffindor, Cody-”
“- Creevey as Seeker!”
We walked onto the pitch, the sun shining brightly. I gripped the handle of my broom tightly, as Madame Hooch strode across the grass, fully decked out in referee gear.
“Now, girls and boys, I don't want to see any fouls today,” she started. I winked at Nathan, whose skin was turning a shade of white that was comparable to unicorn hide. “Keep it clean, thank you! On the whistle, now!” She blew the whistle, shrilly.
I kicked off, hard, did a backward loop-de-loop, because I was an arrogant Gryffindor who felt the need to show off, and hit a Bludger with all the strength I could muster. I was a little off – only nicking Eloise, but I didn't have time to stick around.
Half an hour later, and the scores were 170:140, Slytherin just leading. Then, without warning, Albus fell into a dive. I shot a Bludger, which he dodged. It threw him off, though, and gave little Creevey enough time to level out the playing field. The crowd seemed to hold its breath, apart from the Scamander twins, who were in a heated debate about which colour best suited McGonagall's hair (was it dark blue, or aqua-green?).
Suddenly, Cody emerged, clutching a fluttering ball of gold. We swooped in, cheering.
I sent a curse in Zabini's direction, for the heck of it.
She sprouted whiskers.
The crow was a red and gold sea, rushing to greet us.
Thanks so much for reviewing, it's really appreciated!
So, what do you think of Willow?
What do you think of Fred in this chapter?
What do you reckon will happen at the victory party?
Why will Willow be thankful for the Sorting Hat placing her in Gryffindor?
Any questions, critiquing?