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Infamous by R o s m e r t a
Chapter 4 : Rumour Has It
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7

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{amazing CI by Lady Asphodel @ TDA}

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Lily and I glanced up from our tomatoes and bacon the next morning to find Al storming into the Great Hall, much to the amusement of his peers.  Al could have easily scarpered off to the hospital wing early this morning and avoided so many prying eyes, but we’d known he’d be far too furious for that.  It was a real testament to how bad I had it for the guy, I thought, that I still would have gladly jumped him at that moment, in front of hundreds of people, with enormous, oozing, yellow boils bursting from all visible portions of his body.  I tried not to think of the not-so-visible portions as Lily fell off the bench, convulsing with laughter.  After a glance down at her, I shrugged; I couldn’t be arsed to help her back up when there was bacon at stake.

Dominique, who had barely batted an eye at this turn of events (if that tells you anything about how often these things tended to happen), folded her copy of The Daily Prophet back to page seven and shoved it in front of me wordlessly.  I rolled my eyes.  She was obsessed with reading that old hag Rita Skeeter’s gossip column.  I couldn’t figure out why—she had ripped on Dom and her older sister, Victoire, more times than I could count.  The two of them were undeniably beautiful with their tall statures, long, golden hair, and brilliant blue eyes, and had been hailed as fashion trendsetters in the past few years, but of course that hadn’t stopped dear ol’ Rita from posting photos of them as examples of “What Not to Wear.”

“Third paragraph down,” Rose, one of the quieter Wotters, said to me as she arrived at the Gryffindor table and motioned for Dominique to scoot over.  Her bushy red hair was pulled back into a low ponytail, her freckled nose crinkled and warm, chocolate-brown eyes watching me worriedly as I sighed and picked up the paper.

I tuned out Lily and Al’s bickering as my eyes scanned the page until I found what they wanted me to see: a fuzzy photo of my long hair swinging round my waist as I held on to James’s neck while we snogged behind the statue of Merwyn the Malicious.  What the hell?, I thought.  Beside the picture was a very short article:

                                James Potter: Back to His Heartbreaking Ways?

Just like a dragon can’t change its scales, James Potter seems incapable of abandoning his old philandering habits.  This photograph, submitted by an anonymous Hogwarts student, was taken in the castle last night, and features James Potter, age 17, kissing a girl who is clearly not his longtime love Serena Shacklebolt, age 16.  The “lady” in question is apparently one Hazel Wood, age 15.  The pair was also seen locking lips in the Great Hall earlier yesterday evening in a much more public display of affection.  The wizarding world seems to know little of the fifth-year Gryffindor home-wrecker, daughter of notoriously temperamental Puddlemere coach Oliver Wood, but this reporter is determined to uncover just what the young Ms. Wood is all about.

I glanced back up at Dominique and Rose.  “Home-wrecker?  Laying it on a bit thick, isn’t she?”

“Who is?”  James plopped down beside me on the bench and gave me a swift peck on the cheek as though it was the most natural thing in the world.  I was too engrossed in the article’s implications to even be embarrassed about last night’s mini-makeout session.  I had been eternally grateful that Lily was sound asleep by the time I’d made my way back to the dormitory and hadn’t seemed to think of questioning me about James’s intentions this morning.

I snorted.  “Rita Skeeter, of course.  Who else?”  I handed the paper to him and went back to nibbling at my bacon.  What did she mean, she was going to uncover what I was all about?

James sped through the article and tossed the paper back down on the table, chuckling.  “Well, I suppose that would explain all the staring.”

“Huh?”  Only then did I notice that students sat at every table were whispering and shooting looks over in James’s and my direction.  I was a bit annoyed before reminding myself that this was the plan—everyone was supposed to think James and I were dating. 

“So that’s where you went last night,” Lily commented, seemingly quite disgusted.  She grabbed the paper and began poring over the article as she sat back down on the bench.  I glanced around to find that Al had disappeared, likely to the hospital wing to get rid of his new disfigurements.

Just then, Serena Shacklebolt burst into the Great Hall with a copy of The Daily Prophet in hand and huge crocodile tears streaming down her cherub face.  I rolled my eyes.  Is this bitch for real?  She made her way over to the Ravenclaw table, where she sat amongst her peers, receiving soothing pats on the back as James and I now received poisonous glares from various corners of the Hall.  I glimpsed a small, satisfied smile on Serena’s face, which spurred me to turn to James, grab him by the tie, and plant a long, lingering kiss right on his lips.  I noted his amused expression and a strange glint in his eye when I pulled away before giving Serena a little wave and turning back to my breakfast, ignoring Lily’s faux vomiting.  The look Serena gave me in return was murderous.

*           *           *           *           *

It only took a few more days for me to find out what Rita Skeeter meant.  I entered the dormitory after classes to find that Roxy had left a dogeared copy of the latest Witch Weekly on my bed and written “page 23” on the cover.  Lily and I plopped down on the bed and turned to page 23:

                       WHO IS HAZEL WOOD?  By Rita Skeeter and Miranda Jacobs

I wrinkled my nose.  Miranda Jacobs was just as bad as Rita Skeeter.  A collaborative effort on their part could not mean good news for me.  My Quidditch team photo was plastered beneath the headline.  I could see myself waving and grinning like a fool out of the corner of my eye as I continued to read the article:

Meet Hazel Ophelia Wood, the 15-year-old witch who has captured James Potter’s heart—while completely ignoring the fact that he was already spoken for.  It seems that Ms. Wood has gone relatively unnoticed in the wizarding world thus far, which begs the question—what could she be hiding?

Ms. Wood hails from Hazelwood

I groaned.  “Now the whole world knows my shame!”  Lily quickly shushed me.

—a small, half-Muggle village in Derbyshire.  She is the daughter and only child of Oliver Wood, the famed Puddlemere United coach and former Keeper, and Alicia Spinnet-Wood, an employee of the Department of Magical Games and Sports at the Ministry of Magic.  Like her parents, Ms. Wood plays for the Gryffindor Quidditch Team—which just happens to be captained by none other than James Potter.  Ms. Wood seems to be a rather bright girl, and was named prefect this year—again, like James Potter.

So what was it that brought Ms. Wood and Mr. Potter together—Late-night prefect duties?  Extra Quidditch practices?  According to an insider, Ms. Wood has been a particular friend of Lily Potter, James’s younger sister, for many years, and has simply been biding her time.

“It was pretty clear Hazel’s had a thing for James for quite a while.  She’s become a bit more of a slag the past few years, though,” the insider informs us.  “Always wearing a little more makeup, a little less clothing.  She’s always been around—it was just a matter of time before James noticed her.  Serena was always afraid of this happening.  She’s so modest, you know—she just can’t compete with a girl like Hazel who just puts it out there.

“Not to say that Hazel’s not pretty,” the insider goes on.  “She’s just so much more obvious about it than Serena.  It’s quite pathetic how hard she tries, honestly.”

When pushed for details about Ms. Wood’s personality, a second insider informed us that she “is not what you would call ‘personable’—she doesn’t have a lot of friends outside the Weasleys and Potters.”  (In typical fashion, the Weasleys and Potters have declined to comment for this article.)

“Never mind that we constitute approximately three-quarters of the bloody school,” Lily muttered.  I shushed her this time.

By contrast, Ms. Shacklebolt is known for her friendliness and bubbly personality.

Lily and I both snorted at that one.

Though Mr. Potter admittedly has his faults, he is, without a doubt, a charming young man with a bright future ahead of himMr. Potter and Ms. Shacklebolt have long been seen as the “prince” and “princess” of the wizarding world.  The pair have been dating for nearly four years. 

So what is it that Mr. Potter sees in Ms. Wood that would cause him to abandon his long-term relationship with the sweetheart of wizarding Britain?  Perhaps Ms. Wood’s “obviousness” extends to more than her looks alone.  Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure—these reporters are going to keep an eye on this newly developing romance.

I threw the magazine to the side and sighed.  “So, essentially, it’s just an article about how big of a slag I am.”

“Essentially,” Lily agreed.


*           *           *           *           *

When Lily left the dormitory for the dungeouns do some extra Potions work with Slughorn (I’d long ago accepted these disappearances as a fact of life and stopped making sexual innuendos—mostly due to the fact that, quite frankly, it was too disgusting to think about), I headed down to the common room.

"Ughhhh, the things I do for you!” I complained, marching over to where James, Freddie, Al, and Hugo were gathered and plopping down next to James on a comfortable sofa near the fire.

He grinned and slid his arm around me.  “Read the article, then?”

“Perfect for my big media debut, don’t you think?”

Al looked up from where he was sprawled across the floor, reading the Witch Weekly article.  Only the nastiest of the Bubotuber pus boils were still visible on his arms.  His expression seemed to darken at the sight of James's arm around my shoulders, but I chalked that up to my overactive (and overly hopeful) imagination.  “Honestly, it’s not that bad, Hazel.”

I gaped at him.  “Not that bad?  She told everybody I’m a total slag!  For Merlin’s fucking sake, my mother reads that magazine!”
"But we all know you’re not a slag, Hazel!” Hugo exclaimed from his spot on the floor beside Al.  Despite the fact that Hugo was in our year (and my prefect counterpart), Lily and I treated him as we would a little brother.  Though Hugo complained about this fact incessantly, he did little to change his role; he knew he needed a bit of mothering.  His messy ginger hair and the smattering of freckles across his face left no doubt that he was Rose Weasley's actual little brother; the only difference was Hugo's bright blue eyes.

“Well, not everyone does, apparently,” I mumbled.  “Fucking ‘insiders.’”

Freddie snorted.  “You know the ‘insiders’ were just Serena’s minions—Daphne Hilliard and Pippa Fawcett, no doubt—doing her bidding as usual.  Besides,” he grinned, “you definitely won’t have any trouble getting a boyfriend after James now.”

I threw a pillow at his head as the four boys laughed loudly, attracting the attention of even more people sitting around the fire.  I bit my lip and lowered my voice.  “You lot don’t think I really…erm…” I stuttered to a halt and looked down at my hands.  Gross—I hated feeling vulnerable.  It was so at odds with my reputation of being a total badass (yes, I’m perfectly content with my self-delusions, thank you).

James immediately picked up on what I was asking.  “Hazel, you are not even remotely ‘obvious’ in the way they were making you out to be.”

“Yeah,” Al piped up.  “Serena clearly had the minions tell the reporters that because she’s always been jealous of how everyone thinks she’s just adorable or something while you’re the sexy one.”

I’m pretty sure my heart literally stopped beating.   I stared at Al.  “The…sexy one?” I managed to get out.

Al, realizing what he’d said, immediately flushed bright red and looked back down at the magazine.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see James watching him strangely.  I was so focused on the top of Al's head that I barely heard Hugo’s and Freddie’s reassurances around me.

“Well, look at you, Hazel!” Hugo said.

“Yeah, it’s not like you’re trying to do it or anything, it’s just how you are!” Freddie put in.

If Al’s words hadn’t still been ringing in my ears—“you’re the sexy one”—and I’d been more aware of what was being said, I would have been highly uncomfortable with this conversation by now.  The only reason the four of them were even saying things like this to me was because no Wotter females (read: Lily) were around to tell them off.  Luckily, Dominique chose that moment to join us.

“Article?” she asked succinctly, likely noting my crestfalledn face.  I nodded.   “Well, it’s bollocks,” she concluded.  “But you knew they were going to paint you as differently from Serena as possible.  In real life, you’re not a slag, and you don’t dress like one, thanks to my impeccable taste.”

I rolled my eyes, but was secretly grateful.  It was true, anyway—Dominique, who was two years our senior, had taken on the role of the domineering, bossy older sister in Lily’s and my lives (as well as Rose’s, and Roxy’s, and Molly’s, and Lucy’s…), and basically our entire wardrobes and skin care routines were attributable to said bossiness.  It was as though she couldn’t bear to be publicly associated with the lot of us unless we were sufficiently presentable by her standards (which, come to think of it, is probably actually the case).

“And it’s not that you’re not personable,” Dom continued, “you’re just not approachable.”

“Wait, what?”  I turned to look at her.  “What do you mean, not approachable?”

Dom shrugged.  “Your Chronic Bitchface.  You just look like you’re an arsehole all the time, so no one takes the time to talk to you and figure out that you’re not actually an arsehole.”  She looked pensive for a moment.  “Well, you are, but not in the way people think.”

“Gee, thanks, Dom.”  Her return smile matched my sarcastic tone, and she ruffled my hair affectionately before seating her lithe body in an armchair next to the sofa.  “I still don’t like how they made it seem as though I’ve just been lurking around, waiting to pounce on James at the first opportunity.”

Hugo sniggered.  “I’m surprised Serena’s lackeys knew that many words in the first place.”

I glanced over at Al and saw that he was still refusing to look up from his magazine.  James noticed my gaze and quirked an eyebrow at me.  I looked down quickly and leaned my head against his chest to distract him.  I felt his fingertips resting on my shoulder a moment later, tracing small patterns that tickled the sliver of bare skin between my tank top and my hoodie.

“So, Haze,” Freddie shot me a wicked grin.  “When are you going to start spending your evenings in our dormitory?”

James started laughing.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Al’s head shoot up.  “Um, what?” I asked Freddie.

“Oh come on, even our angelic little Serena was known to stay the night in our dorm every once in a while.  She probably would have done more often if she wasn’t a Ravenclaw.”

“That is true, Hazel,” Dom put in.  A sly grin flashed across her face, but it was gone as soon as I glimpsed it.  “No one will ever be persuaded of your little romance if you aren’t spotted sneaking out of James’s room in the wee hours of the morning.”

“Are you sure?” Al spoke for the first time since he’d called me sexy.  “Everyone who doesn’t really know her is already going to think she’s a bit of a slag after this article…” (Thanks a million, Al—what happened to it not being so bad?)

Freddie snorted again.  “She’s not doing any different than most other fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-years in this school.  It’ll be fine.”  Al chewed his lip slowly, looking unconvinced.

I groaned.  “Why can’t you just come to my dorm?”  I poked James.

“I have no desire to know what my little sister is doing in there most nights, thank you very much,” James responded.  “And it’s a lot easier for the girls to get into the boys’ dormitories.”

I sighed.  “Fine,” I conceded before waving my finger at him.  “But no funny business!”

He grinned mischievously.  “I wouldn’t dream of it, love.”

*           *           *           *           *

All I could think of during the next hour or so was the fact that 1) Albus Potter thought I was sexy (or, at least, sexier than Serena Shacklebolt—still a win in my book, however small) and 2) he clearly had some sort of issue with me spending the night with his brother, however platonically.  Believe me, I am hardly the type of girl to gush and squeal over a bloke because he deigns to give me the time of day, but the idea that Al even considered me in that light made me feel indescribably giddy.  And also totally lame for feeling indescribably giddy.

After explaining the situation to Lily, who seemed even less thrilled than I was about my impending sleepover, I turned up in the seventh-year boys’ dormitory a while later, completely covered in long-sleeved, plaid flannel pyjamas and a big fluffy robe.  I hadn’t bothered to remove my bra, either—I didn’t want James getting any crazy ideas.  I was already unaccountably nervous about staying the entire night with a boy in a bed with zero adult supervision.  It didn’t help that said boy was James Potter.  Although, I didn’t find him (in theory, of course) nearly as desirable as Al, he was, apparently, quite attractive.  As previously mentioned, the female population of Hogwarts in general seemed to think him even more so than Al, which, to me, just meant they were all as completely brain-dead as I’d always believed them to be. 

I gave myself a little pep talk (it’s not just perfect strangers I have these imaginary conversations with, you know), and decided everything would be fine.  I had never been nervous to be around James in my life (excepting, of course, when I knew a prank was coming), so why should I start now?

James laughed when he opened the door to reveal my bundled-up self.  “Don’t trust me then?”  He winked.


He pulled at the top of my robe a bit and began fiddling with the buttons of my pyjama top.  “You could at least make it look a bit more convincing,” he muttered.
I allowed him to unbutton three of them (seeing as how they went up to my chin) before swatting his hand away.  James smirked, grabbed my hand, and led me into the dormitory, past all the other boys, who were looking at me with interest (except for Freddie, who obviously knew the real nature of our relationship and just threw me a cheeky wink), to his bed situated at the very back of the oversized room. 

The others were still watching us curiously when James suddenly picked me up and threw me down onto the bed before crawling on top of me and kissing me deeply.   I felt myself flushing and pinched his thigh as hard as I could in warning.  He jolted upright and grinned down at me.  I gave him my best Death Glare as he turned to the dorm at large and said, “Right.  ‘Night, chaps!”  He threw them a devilish wink before flicking his wand at the bed hangings, closing the curtains around us and producing a Silencing Charm. 

As soon as we were out of sight (and hearing), I kicked him in the ribs and he fell to the bed, laughing.  “Oh, come on, Hazel, have a bit of fun with it,” he admonished me, tapping my nose with his index finger.

I rolled my eyes.  “We can have plenty of fun without you being a world-class git.”

“I beg to differ.”  James grinned at me before removing his shirt and leaning against the headboard, arms behind his head.   Though, like me, he was rather lanky for his height, his biceps bulged in a way that even I could appreciate.
Must you do that?” I asked him.
“I can’t sleep with my shirt on, it’s so uncomfortable!" he whined.  "We could stay up all night talking, if you’d rather.  Although I’m sure you’d have some difficulty concentrating…”

“Yeah, yeah, everyone thinks you’re fit, we get it,” I mumbled, taking off my robe and nothing more. 

“Well that’s unfair,” James pouted.  I smacked him in the chest, which only caused him to laugh louder.  “All right, all right.  I promise you, I will be the perfect gentleman.”  I looked at him doubtfully as he pulled the covers over both of us, but I lay back with my head on the pillow and closed my eyes.

When I opened them a few seconds later, James was hovering over me.  “Can I help you with something?” I inquired archly.

He chuckled softly.  “Nope.”  He leaned down and pressed another one of his lingering kisses to my forehead, before pulling back and looking me full in the face.  His eyes darted briefly to my lips and my heart jumped inexplicably.  For one wild, half-confused moment, I could have sworn that he was going to kiss me again, but then he scooted closer to his edge of the bed, as far away as possible, and smiled at me.  “Good night, Hazel.”

I smiled back at him, relieved the moment had passed.  How silly of me—of course we were only saving the snogging and such for public forums.  “Good night, James.”

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