I woke up earlier than usual the next morning. It was the big day. The day James Sirius Potter would finally get over me.
I was the first one up in my dorm, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before the others started waking up. Hogsmeade trips were some of the biggest events of the year for us girls. It was one of the few days we could go out and about in our normal clothing instead of our uniforms, so it was one of the few chances we had to look our best. It was a day for fashion statements; it was also a day for big dates. And I had the biggest date of all with two different guys at the same time so I definitely needed the bathroom before Fiona and Jenna took it over.
Thus, instead of taking that extra five minutes of snooze time, I hopped out of bed and grabbed my shower things and quickly headed in that direction so that I could hopefully be done before they woke up and attempted to kick me out of the bathroom.
Leighton, on the other hand, I didn’t have to worry about. I already knew she wouldn’t be in a rush to get ready. As far as she was concerned, she had no date and no one she wanted to impress. Leighton was not into boys… well, not like that. She liked them perfectly fine, but she wasn’t the type to bat her eyelashes at every single member of the opposite sex she made eye contact with and giggle at their lame jokes like an idiot. And she was pretty oblivious to the looks they gave her. She’d probably have a dozen different guys asking her out if she didn’t appear so unattainable all the time.
But that was how she liked it. She wasn’t interested in dating, and I wasn’t one to push. It’s not like it mattered to me, I wasn’t interested in dating either.
She spent her time wrapped up in her books and studies. I spent my time wrapped up my future business. We didn’t need boys to make us feel complete; we were satisfied with ourselves as we were.
I have to admit though, I was pretty impressed I’d gotten this far without her finding out that I’d agreed to go to Hogsmeade with Talon. Especially since she’s been watching me like a hawk ever since I agreed to the date with James. But it wasn’t like I could have kept that from her. I knew Potter was going to tell her the next time he saw her anyway, probably shouting from the rooftops, all ecstatic that I’d said yes like the gullible imbecile he is. There was no point in keeping it a secret.
But, thankfully, Talon was keeping the information on the down low about our date, instead of telling everyone who was willing to listen—like James probably would have if I didn’t make him promise to keep it a secret.
And Kenny promised to stay by Leighton’s side at all times while they were at Hogsmeade together in order to keep her occupied and far away from the Hog’s Head. The last thing I needed was her interrupting whatever was gonna go down today. It’s already going to be a screamfest and I don’t need her putting in her own two sickles. If she were to show up, then Talon would find out it was all a setup and that I was only using him, and then I wouldn’t be able to let him down gently, as planned, and I didn’t need two hurt boys pining over me.
Potter was one thing; I wanted him to feel pain. But Talon was just a pawn in the game, unsuspecting and uninformed. Telling him the whole truth would only hurt him more.
Plus, I just didn’t want Leighton to know I lied to James until after the situation was over and done with and I was better prepared to shrug off her accusations because it will all be in the past by then and incapable of being fixed.
So, I showered quickly and used magic to dry myself and my hair. Standing in front of the mirror with a white fluffy towel wrapped around me, I used my wand to twist my long hair into loose curls and applied my usual black eye make-up. On my lips I decided to try something different; instead of my usual muted, nude lip, I applied a dark, glossy red lipstick. I smiled at my reflection mischievously, admiring the red against my perfectly white teeth.
Done with that, I then left the bathroom and headed for my bureau where I picked out a pair of skinny jeans and a long, red top with short sleeves and a low, scooped neckline. The bottom of the shirt started at my hips and then angled down, in the front and back, into a V. After putting on the clothes, I added a fancy little black belt just below my breasts that not only accentuated my small waist but matched the short black pumps I had picked out.
Being more about the clothes than the jewelry—although I loved shiny, pretty things as much as the next girl, I believed jewelry was something to be worn in moderation; it’s meant to be an accessory, not a distraction—I chose to adorn only my ears with a pair of simple gold studs.
The plan was to look causal but chic. Anything else and it would have been way too over the top. It was Hogsmeade for Merlin’s sake, not some fancy ball. I needed it to look like I didn’t try very hard, but that I at least did try. I didn’t need Talon getting the wrong idea.
Last but not least, I donned my favorite black leather jacket to complete my look, and to keep me warm. Even though it wasn't winter yet, it wasn't exactly warm outside. I left the jacket open though, so as not to hide the outfit I just took so much time and consideration putting together.
I admired myself in the mirror for a moment, feeling more than prepared for the day ahead of me. Then I heard Fiona starting to stir; the other girls would be waking up soon. Taking one final glance at the mirror, I smirked at my reflection, grabbed my purse, and sauntered out of the dormitory, down to the common room to wait for Talon.
I was first in line that day to go into Hogsmeade. I got up before everybody else in my dorm and was actually early to breakfast for a change. I was so excited for the day that I couldn’t wait.
I spent the morning shopping, making all my usual stops at a faster pace than usual. I stocked up on Honeydukes’ chocolate and Sugar Quills, replenished my broom-cleaning kit at Spintwitches, and bought a few dungbombs from Zonko’s.
Soon enough, though, I found myself in front of the Hog’s Head, nervously anticipating my date with Sirrah. I could only hope it would get better from here on out and we’d finally become friends after this.
I still couldn’t believe I had gotten her to agree to come. At the same time, I couldn’t help but hear Leighton’s warning in the back of my head, but I wouldn’t let her negativity get to me. Sirrah couldn’t be as terrible as Leighton made her out to be. She just couldn’t be.
I don’t know what made her change her mind, but I must have done something right for her to agree to this date. Maybe my letters finally got through to her. Maybe she just needed some time alone with me to figure out her feelings and realize how good we’d be together.
A guy could only hope.
I sighed and entered the pub. I still had a lot of work to do if I wanted this place to be ready for Sirrah’s arrival.
As Talon and I made our way down the path to the little village, past the Black Lake and the Shrieking Shack, I could tell it was going to be a gorgeous day. The sun was bright and exceptionally warm for late October. The crisp leaves were already turning gold and orange and red. It was the perfect day for a Hogsmeade trip.
I chose to lead Talon into the Three Broomsticks first, telling him of how much I was craving a warm Butterbeer when really I was killing for time. It was only a little after eleven and I didn’t want us to breeze through the town too quickly. I had to time our ventures carefully.
This was also good for my plan because most students didn’t go into the Three Broomsticks until after they did all their shopping. Going there first meant the place would be a lot less crowded, and we'd be less likely to run into other people, like Leighton—who I knew Kenny wasn’t going to lead into the inn until later in the afternoon.
Talon seemed pleased with the idea. A little too pleased, to my surprise. When I brought up the Three Broomsticks his first reaction was to let out a long, loud sigh of relief.
“What was that for?” I asked, looking at him, confused by his unexpected response.
“I’m just glad you’d rather eat here than force me to go into Madam Puddifoot’s,” he replied.
“Why on earth would you think I’d want to go in there?” I questioned, feeling slightly insulted at the comment. “I’d rather have a picnic in the Shrieking Shack!” I exclaimed a little too loudly, but the point needed to be made.
How could this guy appear to know me so well and still think I'd be one of those lovesick girls who dragged their boyfriends into that god-awful place to have tea and snog each others’ faces off. The interior was ghastly, the owner was this horrid, little, old woman, and the food--well, no one ever went for the food--it was completely irrelevant.
I mean, seriously, can you even imagine me in Madam Puddifoot’s? I think I would have had to end the date right there if he started leading me in that direction. Screw my plan for revenge on Potter! Ick!
I don't know what girls see in that place! If I ever had to go in there, I'd rather throw up then make out with some loser.
He chuckled, “Good to know.”
"And don't you forget it," I joked warningly, giving him a playful glare. We both suddenly burst out laughing at that and made our way inside the Three Broomsticks.
As insulted as I was, the date must go on.
The clock struck noon and Sirrah had yet to arrive. I’m sure she’ll be here soon though. It would make me sound desperate if I said I expected her to be early, or even on time really—even though she said she would be. She seems like the sort of girl who would pride herself in arriving fashionably late. She certainly didn't come early the day we met at the top of the Astronomy Tower.
She would come soon enough though, I was sure of it.
After filling our stomachs, we decided to make our way through High Street, checking out the main shops along the way.
We agreed to stop in at Honeydukes first and stock up our candy stashes. I purchased some Acid Pops, Sugar Quills, and a block of the shop’s famous chocolate. Talon went all out, buying a bucket load of sweets; Cauldron Cakes, Fizzing Whizzbees, Chocoballs, Treacle Fudge, and even went so far as buy a small box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, which he gave to me.
“I know they’re your favorite,” he said with a smirk as he handed them over.
I was mildly surprised, but not really. Anyone could have told him that. I wasn’t going to let one single act of kindness blind me from my task. I wasn’t here to get all smitten with Talon, I was here to wreck any chance of Potter liking me after today. That was it.
I smiled and took the gift without comment, stashing it in my bag with the rest.
Where was she? It was quarter after twelve. Certainly she should be here by now. Maybe she’s having trouble getting away from her friends. She did want to keep our meeting a secret. That can’t be the easiest thing in the world if they all want to spend time with her in Hogsmeade.
But, at the same time, Leighton knows about the date. Surely, she could have aided in distracting the other Slytherins. It couldn’t be that hard to sneak away; I did it all the time when I wanted to be alone.
After finally leaving Honeydukes, Talon led me into Spintwitches so he could replenish his store of Fleetwood’s High Finish Handle Polish for his Broom Servicing Kit. He also bought a new pair of gloves, saying his old ones were so worn out they wouldn't last another one of Scorpius' insane practice sessions.
I then dragged him into Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop because I needed a new quill. I eventually picked one out that I thought was sleek and suitable to my needs; it was thin with a black leather grip and a silver tip. The shopkeeper also informed me that it was a very good quill for drawing, which obviously made it a perfect match for me since that's what I spent most of my time doing. Along the way I also got some parchment because I knew my supplies were getting low and Talon purchased a couple bottles of ink for himself. And, before we decided to pay and leave, I couldn’t help but pick up this new sketchbook I found with the most gorgeous oriental design on the cover.
A half an hour had passed and she still hadn’t come. What could be holding her up? What if something happened to her? What if she got hurt on the way into town and forgot to send me an owl to let me know?
That wasn’t really likely, was it?
Next, we stopped at the Post Office so Talon could send a quick letter to his grandmother he’d just remembered he’d needed to do. “It’s her birthday,” he explained. “And I send her a letter every year to wish her a good one.”
I certainly couldn’t complain about that. Even I had to admit it was a sweet gesture, sending his grandmother a letter on her birthday. How many sixteen year old boys actually do that? Voluntarily? My brother surely couldn't care less.
Once leaving the Post Office, I immediately spotted Gladrags Wizardwear and rushed inside with Talon at my heels. I’d been going through my newest supply of fabric like crazy and knew I was going to need more before the ball was announced. So, we spent some time in there, Talon browsing the shop aimlessly while I stood at the counter picking out samples from the catalog and discussing different kinds of material with the witch who owned the shop. About twenty minutes later, I had ordered all the fabric I wanted and paid for it upfront. I then said my goodbyes to the shopkeeper before grabbing Talon and exiting the store.
It was almost an hour after I was supposed to meet James and I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. It was time to go by there and let him see that I clearly didn't want his friendship, or anything to do with him at all.
So as we were walking down High Street, I casually began leading Talon towards the Hog’s Head in hopes that Potter would see us together and cause a ruckus.
It’s quarter til one! There is no excuse why she shouldn’t be here by now! I mean, seriously! This is beyond fashionably late, this is just plain neglectful.
That’s what this is, isn’t it?
She never intended to come in the first place, did she? This was all a scam! A ruse!
Leighton was right. She warned me that Sirrah would do something like this. She knew it from the second I told her Sirrah had said yes. I should have listened. I shouldn’t have yelled at her to back off like I did; she was only trying to help, to save me from this humiliation. I should have known this was going to happen all along. It’s not like Sirrah’s ever actually trusted me, or shown anything but contempt for me.
I can’t believe I’ve been such a fool; sitting here, waiting for someone who’s never going to show.
I just thought that since she came to the tower without any declaration that she would, that she would have meant it when she agreed to meet me here.
I can’t believe I’ve been so blind. I should have known from the start, from the moment I read that letter that something was up, that something wasn’t right. She’d never replied to any of my other letters, so why should that one have been any different?
I so wanted to believe that she’d changed her mind, that she was willing to give me another chance, that I led myself straight into a total set-up.
How could I have been so stupid!?
I stood up angrily, knocking my chair backwards onto the floor. I was so mad I could have pushed the whole table I spent so much time setting up to the ground, breaking the china and glass.
But I didn’t because at that moment, I chanced a glance out the front window and saw a sight I never in a million years would have expected to see.
I made my way over to the glass to get a better look.
Sirrah was making her way past the little pub.
She was wearing a little red dress. Well, I couldn’t tell if it was a dress or a shirt; it was longer than most shirts but a little too short to be a dress. I guess she didn’t know either because she wore pants just in case.
But that wasn’t the problem. What shocked me was that she wasn’t alone.
She was with another guy. Another Slytherin, of course. But not just any Slytherin. No. He was the same guy who tried to start a fight that day on the Quidditch Pitch; the same guy who was holding her hand when she was laying unconscious in the Hospital Wing.
And considering he had the audacity to put his arm around her right at that moment and hold her close to him, they were clearly on a date.
I knew he fancied her ever since that day on the pitch, but I never thought the feeling was mutual. She never really seemed all that interested in him, unless she was trying to keep him out of trouble. Which, I assumed, she was only doing to keep her house from losing points.
Maybe he was just a puppet in her games, but this was a low blow.
Not only did she completely stand me up, but she did so by going on a date with another guy!
How cruel can one girl be?
That was it. I had had enough. The sight of them together made me sick. When he said something that made her laugh I just wanted to throw up or punch something.
That was supposed to be me.
What was so wrong with me that she had to think up this entire scheme? What did I do to make her hate me so much?
I couldn't take it anymore. I let my anger get the best of me and I stormed out into the street to confront them.
"Hey!" I shouted, stopping the two of them in their tracks.
Nott looked confused, and slightly defensive. Sirrah, on the other hand, looked positively elated for just a split second—and I knew then and there that this was all part of her plan—until she changed her expression to look insulted. I thought she might say something, act as if she was annoyed, or even surprised, to see me and ask what I wanted, but she remained silent.
So, I suppose I'll be taking the lead then.
"What is the meaning of this?" I demanded the second I reached them, crossing my arms across my chest.
"Excuse me?" Nott asked, looking thoroughly confused as to why a Gryffindor was confronting him in the middle of Hogsmeade.
"I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to her," I snapped, already annoyed at his stupidity.
I can see why she chose him; the dim-witted one who always came to the rescue. It made sense.
She opened her mouth in attempt to say something, but Nott beat her to it.
"Well, you can't talk to her like that. Either show Sirrah some respect or get lost," he declared, defending her blindly, like a true hero.
"Respect?" I questioned, laughing sarcastically. "After what she's done, she doesn't deserve my respect," I practically spat, taking a step forward.
"Hey," Nott pushed me backward. "I meant what I said."
"You wouldn't if you knew the truth," I argued.
"What is that supposed to mean?" he demanded, eyeing me suspiciously.
I chuckled at his inability to see Sirrah for what she truly was. “It means that your date here has you fooled if you think she’s actually interested in you,” I replied smugly.
He appeared stunned at the accusation and then went into full defensive mode, “You’re wrong.”
“Am I?” I countered. “Because the only reason you’re here with her right now is because she’s using you to hurt me.”
“And why would she care about you?” he asked, confused. “You’re nobody to her, just some lowly Gryffindor she couldn’t care less about.”
“That may be what you think. That may even be what she thinks. But it that were true than she never would have concocted this entire scheme in the first place and then none of us would be here right now,” I argued.
“And what scheme is that?” he asked.
“The one where she agrees to go on a date with me, and then goes out with you instead, on the same day, in order to get me to leave her alone,” I answered, calmly.
“That’s ridiculous,” Nott laughed. “Sirrah would never agree to go on a date with you. You’re beneath her, completely unworthy of her mere presence.”
“No, I think you’re the unworthy one, Nott,” I retaliated. “You may be in the same house as Sirrah, but you’re too stupid to see who she really is. She’s never going to want a guy she can walk all over, who will fall right into her manipulative plans. No, what she needs is someone who will challenge her, someone she can call her equal. She just doesn’t know it yet,” I added, looking her straight in the eye as I spoke so that I could watch her squirm under the truth.
I didn’t like the way Potter was looking at me. Like he knew me, like he could see right through me.
That was not how I wanted him to look at me. I wanted him to be mad, to be absolutely furious with me. But it was like he had figured out my whole plan before he even accosted us in the street.
That was not how this was supposed to go.
I couldn’t let him win. I’d have to come up with something quick though if I didn’t want all my thought-out preparations to go to waste.
“And you think you’re her equal?” Talon asked sarcastically, a look of disbelief on his face.
“I’m more of an equal to her than you are,” Potter replied, haughtily. “You’re just a lapdog, ready to do her bidding whenever she so much as glances at you, you’re so desperate for her attention.”
Talon laughed, “Is that what you think?”
That’s what I think, except for the bit about James being my equal, he had a point.
“That’s exactly what I think,” Potter answered without hesitation. “The only reason you’re here right now is because she manipulated you into it.”
Sad but true.
“For your information,” Talon argued. “I asked her on this date.”
Also true, but only because I had Kenny put the idea into his head.
“And why did you do that, Nott?” Potter questioned. “Because she smiled, and she pouted, and she looked at you with that mischievous spark in her eye that made you feel special, and you fell right into her scheme like the good little lovesick puppy you are.”
If Potter could figure all of this out in a matter of minutes, clearly I need to up my game. This is not how I wanted this confrontation to go. He’s so calm and collected… Well, maybe not calm, exactly—he’s furious but he’s also dissecting the scene bit by bit.
“And what about you, Potter?” Talon countered. “Ever since the first day of term, you’ve done nothing but pester and upset the poor girl with your declarations of friendship and love. No matter how many times she tells you to leave her alone, you still pursue her; if not in person than in writing. I may be lovesick, but you’ve proved yourself nothing short of obsessed, my friend.”
I wasn’t sure where this was coming from. This Talon was very different from the one I was just enjoying my day with moments ago. And how did he know all of that? Sure, everybody knew what had happened on the train, but I thought we had kept the rest pretty well on the down low. And how did he know about the letters? I know I always received them during the morning owl post but I never read them outside the privacy of my curtained, four-poster bed. And James sent them far enough apart that no one should have noticed I was receiving anything out of the ordinary. I know I mentioned the letters to Ty but I don’t think he would have shared the fact with Talon though, especially when he never wanted me to use Talon in the first place.
Something wasn’t adding up here.
“I may be determined, but I am not obsessed,” Potter argued angrily, clearly Talon’s words had hit a nerve there. “And we are not friends.”
“No, but Sirrah and I are,” Talon stated. “So whatever concerns her, concerns me. She wants nothing to do with you, Potter, so why don’t you just back off and leave her alone already?”
“I’ll back off when I believe that,” Potter declared.
“And you wonder why we think you’re obsessed,” Talon smirked.
“At least I can see it when I’m being used,” Potter pointed out. “The second I saw you two together, I knew. But you, you still won’t admit it. You think that because you’re in the same house, you’re worthy of her, that you have her respect. You think that you’re actually friends. But you’re just a pawn in her plan, one that she’ll dump the second she’s done with you.”
How did he manage to figure all that out so quickly? He should have stomped off and left by now.
“You’re wrong,” Talon said, a determined look in his eye. “We’re more alike than you think.”
We are? I’m not sure whose argument is more distressing: James and his surprising epiphanies or Talon and his strange assertions?
“We’ll see about that,” Potter replied. And then he shook his head and added, “I’m done.” Putting his hands up in the air, as if to signify his defeat, he then turned around and made his way back towards the Hog’s Head.
What the hell was that about? Why in the world would Talon think we were anything alike? And what did Potter’s forfeit imply?
“What do you mean you’re done?” I finally spoke up.
He turned back around and looked at me almost as if he’d forgotten I was even there. “It means I’m done,” he replied. “If you could come up with this whole scheme just to hurt me when I’ve done nothing but be nice to you, then clearly you don’t want me around. You two can have each other for all I care.”
And then he was gone, inside the pub where I could no longer see him.
I stood there, staring at nothing in particular. I’d finally gotten what I wanted. But for some reason, it didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would.
Something didn’t feel right.
And why didn’t I say anything!? That entire time, I just let them have at it. I didn’t try to stop them or intervene, I didn’t do anything. It was like I just watched a train wreck, right before my very eyes, and I just stood there, frozen in place, unable to do a damn thing to fix it.
This wasn’t how this was supposed to go down.
I wasn’t supposed to feel as if I had just lost something important to me.
Next thing I know, someone had grabbed my arm. I looked up to see Talon still standing next me, a soft yet slightly evil look in his eyes. “Why don’t we head back to Hogwarts?”
Feeling like I was in a daze, I nodded and allowed him to lead me back through town and up to the castle. I didn’t see the shops or the people, all I could see was the defeated look in Potter’s eyes right before he turned and walked away.
And there was only one word I could think of that described how I felt; abandoned.
Author's Note: Hello lovelies! I am so sorry this chapter took so long for me to update. I've just been staring at it for a couple weeks now, unable to write and edit, but I finally forced myself to do it and it's done. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. This isn't at all how I wanted this story to go, but it never goes the way I want it to, so I might as well get used to it. Hopefully, though, there won't be such a long wait for the next chapter. I doubt it will be ready before the queue closes, but I've already got one scene written and another scene in my head that's dying to be written so hopefully it will be ready to post when the queue reopens at the end of the month.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter though and please feel free to leave a review before you leave. You know how I always love to hear what you think and respond to it.