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Infamous by R o s m e r t a
Chapter 6 : It Rhymes With Witch...
 
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{amazing CI by Lady Asphodel @ TDA}

 

When you find yourself in the market for a new pet, an important consideration to keep in mind is how well the beast will fit into your preferred lifestyle.  For example, if, like any normal teenager, you fancy a bit of a lie-in on weekends, you would be ill-advised to purchase, say, a cat/Kneazle hybrid who likes to think of her owner as her personal human punching bag whenever she sees fit.


I share this observation with you in the hope that you will learn from my mistake.


I groaned as Kneazle continued batting playfully at my face.  "Honestly?" I asked her, cracking an eye open.   She gleefully swatted my eyeball in response.  "Wicked creature," I muttered contemptuously.  I extricated myself from bedsheets and cat and glanced around the dormitory to find it empty except for Lily beside me, snoring soundly while sprawled on her stomach.  "Li-ils," I sang softly, giving her an experimental poke.


"Mmph."


"Wakey, wakey!"  I began shaking her gently.


"I hate you."  One hand slid out from underneath her and began flailing around beside the pillow, grasping at empty air.


I poked her in the head repeatedly.  "Can't hex me.  Your wand's on the floor."


Lily let out a string of garbled curses and burrowed deeper under the covers as she placed the pillow over her head.   I sighed.  At least I tried—now she couldn't blame me later when she got cranky without her daily bacon fix.  I showered and dressed quickly.   As I exited the dormitory, I shot one last look at my bed.  Kneazle had positioned herself in such a way that the first thing Lily would see when she emerged from her pillowy lair was a pair of large, golden eyes peering back at her, which would no doubt scare her shitless.


Okay, I kind of love the fact that my cat is such an arsehole.  Like mummy, like kitty, I suppose.


I arrived in the Great Hall to find that, just as I'd feared, the boys and Dom had hoarded all the bacon at the Gryffindor table and were scarfing it down as quickly as humanly possible.  Freddie in particular was inhaling rashers at a rather alarming rate that I admittedly found quite impressive.  I bade everyone good morning as I swung a leg over the bench between James and Louis, across from Al.  James greeted me happily while inhaling a variety of breakfast meats and puckered up his lips for a kiss.  My nose wrinkled at the crumbs tumbling out of his mouth.  "Pass," I commented dryly, reaching toward his plate.


"Oy!"  James slapped my hand away. "You can have my bacon when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."


"I imagine that will be quite easy, since your cold, dead hands will be covered in bacon grease," I pointed out as I loaded up on scrambled eggs, tomatoes, and toast.  "You're surprisingly chipper this morning."


"Hangover potion.  Duh," he told me around mouthfuls of food.  So attractive, that faux beau of mine.


Just then, the owls swept in with the morning post, and I spotted Nargle, our family owl, gliding toward me.  "Hello, handsome," I cooed at him as I plucked the letter from his leg.  I stroked Nargle's soft brown feathers and fed him a bit of toast before unfolding it, excited to hear from my parents but dreading what they would have to say about my recent and very public life choices.


Dearest Hazel,


I can't believe you've been off at Hogwarts for nearly three full weeks now and haven't found the time to write your dear old mum and dad.  Don't you know that we just sit about the house, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for our darling girl to recall our existence?  Are you just too busy with your new celebrity to do us any such kindnesses?


Yes, we've read the articles.  Forget to tell us something, sweetheart?


Your father is not pleased.  I do believe your lack of beaux thus far had lulled him into a false sense of security regarding your "virtue" as he so eloquently puts it (don’t worry, I’ve already made it perfectly clear that he’s not to go about saying things like that in your presence).  We adore James, of course, but it was all a bit unexpected.  In fact, I'd always assumed it was Al you fancied. 
Just goes to show what I know, I suppose.


The village has been crawling with reporters trying to get the odd interview with us, and the neighbors as well.  Rita Skeeter herself arrived on our doorstep the day before yesterday and had the audacity to ask for an exclusive on my
—and I quote—"floozy daughter."  Interestingly, she happened to drop by the same evening the Potters, Ron, Hermione, and a few other friends had come round for dinner, and before I even had the chance to tell her where she could stick her Quick-Quotes Quill, Hermione appeared beside me, holding an empty jar she’d just grabbed from the pantry.  Rita Skeeter took one look at her and bolted.  I haven't a clue what all that was about—though Hermione, Ron, and Harry all seemed greatly amused by it—but the old hag can still run fairly quickly.  Harry and Ron helped your father cast some protective charms around the village to keep the nosy wizards at bay so the Muggles won't be disturbed.


Your father and I know better than to believe the filth churned out by the likes of Rita Skeeter and Miranda Jacobs, but please be careful, darling.  People used to write all sorts of nasty things about your father back in his days as Puddlemere's Keeper; some reporters just have no sense of common decency.  You are without a doubt one of the strongest people I know, but that doesn't mean some things can't ever become rather overwhelming, even when you're as tough as dragon hide.  Don't forget that we are ALWAYS here for you.


All right, then
—enough lecturing.   How are classes?  I expect they're gearing you up for O.W.L.s by completely freaking you out, as usual.  Any big plans for your birthday next month?  We love you and miss you so much already.  Don't forget us little people!  Hope to hear from you soon.


All my love,
Mum


P.S.  Kiddo
—Kindly inform James that the fact that I've seen him in nappies won't stop me from hexing him into oblivion if he does you wrong.  Harry and Ginny approve.  Love you loads, Dad


I smiled at the sight of Mum's loopy, neat cursive and Dad's slanted, much sloppier handwriting.  I always missed them when I was at Hogwarts, and they knew it whether I remembered to write or not.  I usually didn't (I know, I'm a horrible daughter).


At some point I became aware of the fact that James was reading the letter over my shoulder, chomping loudly all the while.  I made a mental note to tell Mrs. Potter all about her eldest's appalling manners next time I saw her.  That would be good for a few laughs at James's expense.


The barbarian in question shuddered visibly as he stuffed three slices of toast in his mouth simultaneously.  "I'd forgotten how scary your dad can be," he told me between bites.


“Well, it doesn’t seem to be spoiling your appetite,” I noted, smiling a bit.  I suppose Dad would seem rather intimidating to a boy I was "dating."  In addition to being large and burly, and thus rather physically imposing, he was known for having a short fuse; like I said, the vast majority of Quidditch articles written about him in recent years were based on incidents during which he'd lost his temper on the pitch and been ejected from games.  I had actually been rather surprised when Rita Skeeter hadn't commented more on my father's reputation in her little "biography" of me, but I still expected her to dredge it up at some point.  (Hooray, something else to look forward to!)


Nargle glared at me impatiently.  I sighed and pulled out a quill and parchment.  Of course my parents had instructed him not to return without a reply so I didn't have time to "forget" to write them.  They knew me so well.


Mum and Daddy,


Darlings!  It's a good job you wrote when you did
—I've been so busy and important with all sorts of things floating about in my big, fat head that I'd simply forgotten all about the two of you!


I'm sorry for not telling you about James sooner, but it all just sort of happened very quickly and there's been no time.  Don't worry about him, though
—he's well aware that Dad will make good on those threats if he's not on his best behaviour!


I'm sorry for all the reporters bugging you as well.  I'd also apologize for being such a "floozy" but that seems more like the result of bad parenting, and therefore not particularly my fault.   Seriously though, I know Rita Skeeter and those other idiots can get pretty nasty, but I'll try my hardest not to let them get to me.


Predictably, O.W.L. year sucks.  Perhaps I'll just drop out of school and marry rich instead, what do you think?


My birthday happens to fall on a Hogsmeade weekend this year, so that's really the only excitement around here...though I am holding out for that pet dragon I've been asking for since I was three (hint, hint!).


I promise I'll try to write you little people more often.  I love and miss you both so much I can't even stand it!


Hugs and kisses,
Your darling Hazel


I chewed my bottom lip thoughtfully as I pored over what I had just written.  I really hated lying to my parents about the whole James-being-my-boyfriend thing, but I didn't really think they'd like or understand the situation, especially given the fact that adults were generally blind to Serena's utter twattiness.


I also felt extremely guilty about the fact that my newfound “celebrity” was directly impacting them, something I hadn’t considered before the latter article came out (yes, I know, I’m the worst).  It made me feel slightly better to know that Dad, for one, was more than used to it.


"I forgot your birthday's coming up!"


I jolted.  I'd failed to notice James was yet again reading over my shoulder.  Honestly, doesn't the nosy prat ever just mind his own business?


"October 8th, right?" Al spoke up from across the table.


I glanced at him in shock.  "Yeah."  The corners of my mouth curved upward slightly.  I mean, of course I knew that Albus Severus Potter's birthday was April 23rd, he was quite partial to the colour orange (but not the fruit), his favorite meal was steak and kidney pie, and he had a highly unnatural fear of miniature Puffskeins (I just know you're all "stalk much?" right now and the answer is yes, yes I do), but it never occurred to me that he might commit similar information about me to memory.  He gazed at me for a moment, grinning adorably, before returning to his breakfast.  My stomach fluttered as James frowned over at Al.


"Hogsmeade weekend.  Excellent."  Freddie rubbed his palms together in his mischievous way, which always made him look rather like some evil villain from a Muggle comic book, or a mad scientist.  "We can take care of all the necessary provisions in the village that day for a massive rager that night."  Freddie easily got more excited about such celebrations than the birthday boy/girl him/herself.


James's eyes lit up at this suggestion.  "Brilliant."  Rumbles of agreement came from around the table as he stood up and stretched, yawning hugely.  "Now if you'll excuse me, I must be getting back to my warm, cosy bed."


"I'll come with."  I finished tying my letter to Nargle's leg as he gobbled up a last scrap of toast in a manner that would make even Freddie jealous, gave me a love peck on the hand, and soared away.   When I glanced up, Al had a strange look on his face, but James and Freddie were grinning cheekily.  I groaned in realization.  "Knock it off!  I just meant I'd walk back with you."


"Sure, sure," James responded airily.  "You know, you are my girlfriend now, Hazel.  There's no need to be so embarrassed by the fact that you find me irresistible."


I Death Glared at him as he flung an arm around my shoulders carelessly and steered me toward the doors.  "What I find difficult to resist, darling, is the constant urge to hex the living daylights out of you."


As we exited the Great Hall, I couldn't help but notice all the staring and whispering behind cupped hands.  I could feel my face flush a bit; this was way more attention than I'd gotten for simply being Lily's BFFF (that's Best Fucking Friends Forever, for those of you not in the know) and Oliver Wood's daughter.  I risked a glance over at the Ravenclaw table and found Serena Shacklebolt shooting daggers James and me.


Clearly, there was a storm brewing.


As James and I traipsed back to the common room, I thought again of how to broach the subject of The Kiss Heard Round The World.  "James," I began tentatively.  "I need to talk to you about something."


In an astonishing display of something resembling sensitivity, James appeared to pick up on my serious tone.  "What's wrong?"


I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  "Look, that kiss behind the Merwyn statue—"  I hesitated, biting my lower lip.


"Yeah?"


I sighed.  "It just all seems a bit too convenient."


James furrowed his brow in confusion.  "What does?"


"That someone just happened to be passing by that particular spot, at that exact time, with a camera, and decided to take a peek behind the statue..."


I trailed off as James stopped abruptly in the middle of the corridor, staring at his feet.  "And you think that I just set you up for a good photograph for the press."  It wasn't a question.


"What?  No, I don't think that, I was just asking if—"


"Maybe one of the other blokes heard me telling Freddie that I wanted to give you a proper first kiss and thought it would be a riot.  Hell, it may have been Freddie himself.  But I had nothing to do with it, Hazel."  He began walking again, quickly, refusing to meet my eyes.


He was right.  Now that I thought about it, this whole thing had "Freddie" written all over it.  "James, wait."  I rushed after him and grabbed his arm.  He turned and finally fixed his gaze on me.  To my great surprise, he looked deeply hurt.


 "I know I'm a reckless, arrogant prat, but I do try to do right by the people I care about.  I thought you knew that about me.  I wanted to do something nice for you, Hazel.  To let you know how much I appreciate you. That's all."


I remembered how sweet he had been that night and how touched I had been by his gesture.  Merlin, now I felt horrible.  "James," I said softly, "I'm so sorry—"


He held up a hand to stop me.  "It's fine.  I suppose I can't blame you."  I just watched him miserably as he sighed deeply and ran a hand through his dark, messy hair.  "I think I'm going to go take a walk around the grounds."


"I thought you were going back to bed."


He gave me a sad, sort of half-smile.  "Suddenly, I'm not so tired any more."


And with that, he was gone.


Godric, now I was the twat.


                                                                       *             *             *             *             *


I spent that afternoon and evening in the common room, working on various class assignments and generally socializing with the Wotters and Co.  James joined us a few hours after our conversation, still looking a tad forlorn, but greeted me with a reassuring smile and swift kiss on the cheek.  I had known he’d bounce back quickly, as always, but I still felt a bit guilty for doubting him in the first place.

 
At half seven, Lily (who had finally arrived downstairs around four and announced that she and Kneazle were “in a fight”—news that I can’t say would have upset Kneazle very much) reminded me that I was, in fact, a prefect, and was scheduled to make the rounds that night.  “Shit,” I muttered, slamming my Charms book shut and getting to my feet.  “Coming, Hugh?"

 
Hugo, the other fifth-year Gryffindor prefect (I use the term "prefect" as loosely as possible here), glanced up at me, wearing a horrified expression very similar to what one might expect if I had suggested he jump in the Black Lake and snog the Giant Squid.  Assuming that was a “no,” I took my leave.

 
My stroll around the castle’s stony corridors was largely uneventful…at first.  I had just finished shooing away some giggling third-year Slytherins from tormenting Sir Cadogan (poor bugger) when I heard a noise in a nearby broom closet that sounded suspiciously like human bodies thrashing about.
 

Ah, yes, the “fun” part of prefect duties.

 
In all honesty, I couldn’t give two Grindylow shits if people wanted to do their funny business in random cupboards; I never gave detentions for it.  That being said, I am the nosiest person on the planet, and always felt the need in these situations to satisfy my curiosity about who was doing what and where and with whom.  However, before I could peek inside this particular broom closet, the door flew open and a tall, gangly boy with a mop of platinum blonde hair tumbled out.  He took a few seconds to gather his bearings before noticing my presence.  “Oh, hullo there, Hazel,” he said casually, as if we’d just happened to run into each other in Diagon Alley or something, “You’re looking well."


I suppressed a smile.  “Hey, Scorpius.  Fancy meeting you here.”
 

Scorpius frowned down at me.  “What’s got your wand in a knot?“
 

"What makes you think it is?”

 
He shrugged.  “You just always look like you’re ready to curse the eyebrows off someone.  Perpetually pissed off.”
 

“I’m not,” I insisted.  “This is just my face.”

 
Scorpius was busy straightening his disheveled shirt and trousers, seeming to have already lost interest in our conversation.  He knew I wasn’t going to hand him a detention anyhow; this was far from the first time I’d caught him in a similar situation.  Thankfully, he had on quite a bit more clothing than usual this time.  “You should probably work on that,” he commented dryly.  “Well, see you later.”  He took off in the direction of the dungeons, hands in pockets, whistling a merry tune. 

 
My brain had barely registered the fact that a second perpetrator must have been involved when I heard her voice from behind me.  “You have that annoying habit of being everywhere I’d prefer you not to be.”

 
I turned to face her.  “Well, you have that annoying habit of existing in general, so I’d call it even.”
 

Serena scowled.  “I suppose you just can’t wait to tell James all about this.”
 

“What, that you’re a fake, petty skank with zero sense of morality?  Pretty sure he received that memo quite some time ago.”  I rolled my eyes.  “I know this may be hard for you to wrap your head around, but we actually do have other things to talk about.”  I started walking away from her.  “As lovely as this has been, I have to finish my rounds."


Serena quickly caught up and matched my pace.  Damn her long, graceful legs.  “What the fuck is your problem, anyway?”
 

“You mean besides your aforementioned existence?”
 

She scoffed.  “You just have to have a smartass response to everything, like you’re so above it all that nothing fazes you.”


I rolled my eyes again.  “I’m failing to grasp how that’s a problem.”


“Why don’t I explain, then?”  Serena suddenly rounded on me, cutting off my determined path down the corridor.  I'd never noticed before now that she was a bit taller than me.  She took a few steps toward me menacingly, until our faces were mere inches apart, and poked my sternum with her index finger angrily.  “You took something that belongs to me, and I intend to get it back.  I don’t care what it takes.  You can sit there and tell yourself all you want that nothing will get to you, but I will break you.  Believe that, bitch.”
 

I was too taken aback by her sudden ferocity to give an immediate response.  Generally if Serena wanted me threatened, she sent one of her minions to do her dirty work—she'd never actually approached me herself.  And now that she had, she was kind of...well, terrifying.  Before I could collect my bearings, Serena had spun on her heel and strutted away.
 

Words really cannot even begin to describe how much I hate that bitch.

 
                                                                       *             *             *             *             *


Author's Note: I know nothing too exciting happened in this chapter, but I wrote nearly the entire thing on my iPhone, so I'm pretty damn impressed with myself anyway.  Hazel's epic birthday weekend up next.  Reviews inspire me!  You're all bloody amazing, thanks so much for reading!  <3


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