Chapter 6 : The Worst of Crushes
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Gregory Goyle claims he is in love with me, and I am extremely annoyed.
“Is he even smart enough to fancy someone?” I complain to Amaris, who thinks the whole thing is hilarious. Even worse are the murderous looks the massive Millicent Bulstrode had been giving me ever since the pronouncement.
“Lighten up,” my traitorous best friend says through her giggles. “After all, your mother approves.”
I had just received a visit from the family owl, a magnificent Silverback called Arrow. He pecked at me until I fed him a bite of my special toast, then soared off without waiting for a reply.
Your sister wrote me to explain how Mr. Goyle’s son has declared his interest in you. Now, I know that you are fickle and determined to be single forever, but allow me to point out that young Gregory is a pureblood from an old family whose beliefs and goals align with our own. Before you write him off, consider the uses of a union with another supporter of our cause and the added power and protection this could bring you.
Hopefully your studies are progressing satisfactorily. Your father recently crossed paths with Professor Snape, who said that you are proving quite proficient in his class. Fancy Severus finally teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts? Hopefully you are learning some useful spells. I am looking forward to hearing all about your successes at the holiday.
Love from Mum (and Dad)
I roll my eyes and use my wand to incinerate the irritating letter as Amaris keeps giggling. Unfortunately, this drew the attention of my suitor, who nervously looks at Malfoy for approval before shyly approaching myself and Amaris.
“Hu… hi Tor,” the oaf muttered. “Whatcha got… what’s that?”
I look up at him with as cold a glare I could muster, with all my experience of being on the receiving end of Daphne’s.
“Toast,” I reply, and turn towards Amaris.
“So… what were you telling me about Professor Slughorn’s paper on amethyst powder and its restorative powers?”
“Why don’t you take a seat, Gregory,” my traitorous best friend interrupts. “It can’t be comfortable standing up… if you sit down we’ll be able to talk without straining our necks.”
I glare mutinously at Amaris as she puts a generously sized cinnamon bun on Goyle’s plate. He can’t feed himself now?
As Amaris begins to talk Goyle’s ear off about her summer at the Ministry, I look around at anything to avoid his gaze, which I can tell is trained firmly on me. Unfortunately, Theo Nott and his dumb girlfriend choose that moment to arrive at the breakfast table, making my day even better.
“Hi, Tor,” Christiana simpers at me, her face pulled up in a horrible smile. “How’s fourth year going for you?”
“Fine,” I mumble, watching as she snakes her arm around Theo’s neck and stroke his ear. He seems to ignore it and reaches across her for the pumpkin juice.
Amaris –who is quickly meandering her way into my bad books- turns excitedly to Christiana.
“Your elder brother works at the Ministry, right? In the Department of Mysteries? Now, my internship this summer was involved mostly under High Secretary Umbridge, but I am extremely interested in the Hall of Prophecy and-”
The bloody traitor. I excuse myself to my friends, nod in a barely civil manner in Goyle’s direction, and stalk out of the great hall. I can still smell Goyle’s odor of sweat, mouldy cheese and something else unpleasant. Why is today already so horrible? I didn’t even finish my potions assignment.
Fuming, I walk collide headfirst with someone at the entrance to the Great Hall.
“Woah, watch where you’re going please!” the girl says. She has long, straight red hair, the kind of face that’s so fine and pretty that you want to punch it, and a bossy voice. I dislike her instantly.
“Maybe you should be more careful where you step, bitch,” I snarl, then without waiting for a reply I glide scathingly past the redhead.
“Hey, you!” She shouts after me. My hand twitches for my wand but I decide she’s not worth it- probably just some wimpy Hufflepuff who will go crying to Sprout the second somebody looks at her the wrong way.
The day keeps going downhill. In potions, Slughorn is disappointed that my assignment is two inches two short. In Herbology, I get bitten by an Arachne Orchid, and have to go to the Hospital Wing to get the venom sucked out. At lunch, I am forced to watch Theo snog stupid Christiana for a good five minutes. Finally Pyxis conjures up ugly little cupids to tap-dance on their heads until Theo notices and swats them away (and then swats Pyxis).
One of the cupids, which is about the size of my spoon, plops itself down in the middle of my mash and starts feeding itself. When I try to shoo the little thing, it shoots my arm with its puny bow and arrow. After yelling at Pyxis for conjuring such a demonic creature, I storm out of the Great Hall a second time and return to the Hospital Wing to make sure the arrow doesn’t carry any poison, like a miniature portion of Amortentia.
By the time History of Magic rolls around, I am angry enough to participate in Phin and Pyxis’ game of toss-the-spitball-through-Professor-Binns. When I succeed in getting mine through the back of Binns’ head and through his nose (10 points), the daft ghost chooses this moment to notice and I am told to report to Professor Snape to be assigned detention. Feeling angrier than ever with the pickle-brained boys, I storm back to the common room only to be informed that Gregory Goyle is desperately trying to find me.
“I think its cute,” Christiana declares from her spot on Theo’s lap. Apparently he’s helping her study for Transfiguration – how sickening. “You and Goyle would make a lovely couple. He’s so… big and strong, and you’re so…so-”
I never get to find out what I am because at that moment Draco Malfoy comes down into the common room. He waves to me, grinning wickedly.
“Greengrass, don’t move, Goyle’s on his way down now to talk to you. He’s gelled his hair and possibly even put on cologne and everything. He’s being very charming.”
Stupid smirky Malfoy.
“Gotta go,” I shout in the general direction of everyone. “Sorry, I have to go, er, see Professor Snape to organize my detention.”
I run out of the common room and up the stairs to the entrance Hall. Panting, I hear Malfoy’s cold, high voice echoing through the dungeon corridor:
“Don’t worry, mate, she won’t have gone far, you can still ask her before her detention-”
Crap. Snape’s office is in the dungeons, so they’ll have decided I’m going to his classroom, which is on the fifth floor. I take the stairs two at a time until I’ve reached the seventh floor, taking a shortcut or two. But where to hide? Maybe its my over-active imagination but I swear I can hear Goyle’s lumbering footsteps. The Room of Requirement? But they’ll expect me to go there.
Gasping, I pass the Room and into a side passageway that I’ve never been down before.
“I need a place to hide,” I gasp to a portrait of a woman in sixteenth-century dress. Her black hair is piled high on her head and she has a mole on her neck: otherwise she is quite attractive.
“Boy trouble?” She asks sympathetically. I nod, almost crying with the effort of running up all those stairs.
“Come with me,” she beckons, smiling, and she starts to run through the other portraits lining the small, forgotten little hallway. After turning two corners we come to a nook where a very large, very sad looking suit of armor is standing.
“Password?” the suit of armor says mournfully. I’m not sure what makes him so sad, but its something about the droop of his head, the weary arms clinging onto his sword.
“Bobblydegooks,” the lady in the portrait says to me.
“Er, Bobblydegooks,” I reply. The suit of armour nods, but nothing happens. I look quizzically at my new friend-even if she’s just a portrait, she’s the nicest person I’ve talked to today.
“Walk through the wall behind him,” she says helpfully.
Feeling slightly foolish, I reach out to touch the solid-looking stone wall. To my surprise, it is as if there is nothing there.
I stick my head back out at the portrait lady.
“Thanks for helping me,” I say. “I’m Tor.”
She smiles back at me. “I’m Anne. Now go! Hurry!”
Hastily, though I’m slightly afraid of being trapped forever in the stone wall, I step through.
The room is small but comfortable: it is lined with shelves stocked with some very worn-looking books. Sunlight streams in through huge windows that cover nearly the entire wall, with a startling view of the Hogwarts grounds and black lake. What surprises me most about the scene, however, is the other person in the room.
He jumps up in surprise as I enter, and my first thought is that I’ve never noticed him before. Is he a Slytherin? He’s handsome enough to be.
“Er, sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to intrude.”
He sets down the book he was reading when I burst in. I glance at the title: “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.” I’ve never heard of it.
“That’s alright,” he says, smiling at me shyly. He’s taller than I am, but only by a couple inches. His brown hair hangs down in his face, and he’s a bit sunburned. He’s wearing jeans and a checked shirt that fits his lightly muscular arms perfectly.
I tear my eyes away from his shoulders. Pull yourself together girl.
“Would it be alright if I… hid out here for a few minutes?” I ask. “The lady outside, in the portrait, told me to hide here… I’m avoiding someone,” I finish lamely.
“Of course,” the strange boy says, shrugging his shoulders and looking like he’s laughing at me. “I mean, its not every day a pretty girl bursts into this room, which I was sure nobody else knew of. You’ve earned it, make yourself at home.”
I nod shyly as he sits down on the wide ledge beside the window, a cushion propped up between him and the wall. He pats the other side of the window seat, and hesitantly I climb up, hugging my knees to my chest.
“Can I offer you anything in my humble abode?” he asks playfully, ceremoniously offering me a tin of biscuits he has stashed.
“Er, do you live here?”
“Only when I’m trying to get away,” he winks. “I’m here often enough to have a stash of food, anyhow.”
I laugh in spite of the strangeness of the situation, and choose a chocolate biscuit. Outside, I can see a Quidditch team whizzing about the pitch.
“Do you play?” I ask the stranger, my mouth full of crumbs. “Quidditch, I mean?” My hands are cold and sweaty. Why am I so nervous?
“Nah.” He throws his head back and laughs. “I’m more of a supporter than a player. Like to stay out of the spotlight, you know?”
I do know. Praying that there isn’t biscuit in my teeth, I make an effort to sound casual.
“So, you, uh, come here often?”
The boy gives me a serious look. “Its my secret study spot. For when everyone’s being a prat and I just need to get away and be alone. I do things better on my own: I get work done, I write, I think about life. I’ve been coming here for three years and nobody’s ever disturbed me.”
“Yeah. You’re a sly one.” He seems to be looking me over appraisingly, but not as if he’s checking me out. More as if he’s trying to figure something out.
“Want to play a game?” He asks suddenly.
I shrug. “Er, like, wizards chess?”
“No way, its far too violent,” he laughs, and I laugh along with him. “How about, you tell me three things about yourself that nobody knows, and I’ll tell you three.”
“And why would I want to tell you my secrets after just meeting you?”
“Well, who else would you tell?” He looks rueful. “Why not a complete stranger whose hideaway you burst into as if you’ve just sprinted the whole length of the castle?”
I glare at him. Insolent little… “For your information, I did just run the whole length of the castle,” I say primly. “A feat which I’m sure you wouldn’t have accomplished judging by the look of you.” (Lies, his shoulders tell me)
I’m worried for a moment that he’ll get offended, but the kid seems unflappable. He flashes his teeth at me.
“Feisty, aren’t we? Pray tell, who or what were you running from? Ernie Macmillian’s bad breath? McGonagall on the warpath? Or was it a troll in the dungeons? One broke in to Hogwarts in my first year, you know.”
“A troll isn’t too far off,” I mutter. “I was avoiding a stupid boy who’s decided to proclaim he’s in love with me, just because I was marginally nice to him the other day.” I glare. “Its so unfair! I’m nice to everyone! And he’s a git.”
The strange boy laughs, stretching his legs off the window seat and dangling them towards the floor. Why is he so relaxed?
“You sure seem like a nice one.” He winks at me obnoxiously. I glare even harder.
“Hey! I am nice! You just caught me on an off-day.” I proceed to tell him all about my awful day, starting with the letter from mum. I conclude by showing him the bites from the Arachne Orchid and the where the darn cupid from lunch managed to spear me. By this time he’s roaring with laughter, and I feel a smile poking at my face.
“Okay, okay,” I stammer, rolling my eyes at my own silliness. “Shall we play this game of yours or not?” I relish the strange urge to tell him something original, to shock the sexy smile right off his annoying face.
“Okay,” the boy says, screwing up his face in mock concentration. “You go first.”
I think for a moment. “I have a fear of wearing the color red. I just refuse to do it, because every time I’ve worn red, something bad happens.”
He raises his eyebrows. “Like what?”
“Well, one time I wore red and my dog died: he ate one of our garden gnomes and died from indigestion. Then another time I wore red to Transfiguration and we had a surprise mini-examination. It’s the only test I failed.” I decide not to tell him about the time I wore red and my father disappeared for five days.
“Alright, fair play,” he says. “I’m afraid of heights, but I haven’t told my dormmates, because while they’re pretty tame and lazy they’re also really clever, and would probably get off their bums and come up with a really good prank involving levitating my bed into a tree or something.”
I snort, but in a very ladylike way. Really.
“But we’re looking out from a height right now,” I say, gesturing to the windows.
“Ah yes, but I’ve thought it out. First of all, this glass is over 700 years old, I don’t think its about to break. Plus, the entire castle is spelled to be unusually strong. Also, its very probable that the castle is enchanted so that if someone falls out a window, their fall with be magically broken. Haven’t you read Hogwarts, A History?” he says to my bemused look. “Well, anyway, even if I was very unlucky and none of those things worked, you will notice there’s several spots to hang onto between here and the ground, including one of the greenhouses. And most of the classrooms are below here, so likely somebody would see me falling and would be able to do some quick-thinking.” He smirks at me.
“Someone’s been doing some over-thinking,” I say, smirking right back at him.
“Your turn, Feisty. But I better not wake up to find my bed on top of the Astronomy Tower and you grinning at the bottom.”
I solemnly promise to never exploit his fear of heights, and prepare to confess my next secret.
“Do you remember last year, when the House flags in the Great Hall disappeared and instead the whole place was decorated with boys’ underpants? Green underpants, blue underpants, underpants with Quaffles on them, underpants with Gwenog Jones’ face on them, underpants with snakes on them…”
The boy bursts into laughter. “How could any student ever forget? That was one of the best days of my life: I thought Umbridge was going to explode! And Filch leaping around like a lunatic when they started to fly and flutter about of their own accord? And when Mrs. Norris started pouncing on that pair with rats on them…” He collapses in laughter.
I grin, proudly. “That was me.” I remember the expressions on Pyxis, Phin and Taurus’ faces when they came down for breakfast that morning to see their pants promenading themselves below the charmed ceiling, and the sly high-fives Theo and I had given each other.
“No way,” the boy says, looking awed. “I always thought it was the Weasley twins, or…”
“Nope. Yours truly.”
“Then I salute you, good ma’am,” and he mimes a little bow. “How’d you swing it though? That was some pretty impressive and long-lasting magic.”
“If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you,” I inform him sadly and he leaps back, clutching at his chest.
“No! Anything but death at your hands- you’d probably steal the pants right off me and put them up in your dorm.”
“Anything good?” I ask daringly.
“The best,” he replies, winking at me again. How have I met the only boy in the world who makes winking look funny and charming instead of awkward and creepy? “If eagle wings that actually fly are your thing when it comes to pants.”
“The height of style,” I reply, “oh wait, sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up heights…”
He chucks a biscuit at me but I catch it –future Seeker reflexes, right?- and take a bite.
“Okay,” he says, watching me eat. “I know an honest-to-god, descended from fame, tried-and-true Seer.”
I roll my eyes. “Please tell me you’re not talking about Professor Trelawney-”
“Not that Trelawney, but I actually think they’re distant cousins. This girl’s the real deal. She gets… feelings about things. Little visions and glimpses. Sentiments. Apparently she already has prophecies catalogued in the Hall of Prophecy – its supposed to be a big secret at Hogwarts though because Dumbledore doesn’t want anyone hassling her for prophecies.”
I feel a strange little stab of jealousy. “I don’t believe in Seeing. My best friend is in Trelawney’s class and she says it’s a load of crap- tea leaves and constellations and other nonsense. There’s no way to actually predict the future.”
He laughs at me again. “Say what you want, but this girl’s the real deal. She’s really sweet, especially for a first year, they’re mostly brats-“
I tune out the rest of his rant about first years because I’m so glad to hear that Seer-miracle child is so clearly too young for him and not his girlfriend. Not that I should care, since I have other boy problems like getting Theo Nott to like me and ditching Goyle.
“-so then she told me I’d ace my NEWTs as long as I got the chance to write them,” he finishes.
“Sounds like she’s just telling you what you want to hear, which, to be fair, I would do if I was a ‘Seer,’ and then disappear before the prediction had a chance to not come true-” He’s staring at me as if I’m crazy so when I snap my mouth shut he throws another biscuit at me. I don’t quite catch it this time.
“Is it polite to throw food at people where you’re from?” I inquire.
“Nah, I’m just trying to fatten you up a little, Feisty,” he wiggles his eyebrows as if asking for me to hit him. I throw the biscuit back at him and he catches it in his mouth like some kind of circus dog. “What’s your third secret?”
“I can read minds.” I say, casual as they come. He raises his eyebrows again. I’ve never met someone with such a damn expressive face.
“Well, that’s an original one,” he says, grinning. “I’ve got to bounce though, Feist, got an Astronomy lecture in five.” He glances at his watch. “If I run half as fast as you apparently can, then I might make it in time.”
He springs up from the windowseat and grabs his bookbag. I feel suddenly as grumpy as I did before arriving in this strange little room.
“See you around, kid,” he winks.
“Wait!” I say suddenly as he’s halfway through the fake wall. “You never told me the third secret.”
The strange boy smirks again. “I named my pug ‘Pansy’ after that girl from Slytherin.”
I think I like this kid.
N/A: Reviews?? Thoughts on Tor and Goyle? Thoughts on Tor and the mysterious winking boy? Thoughts on conjuring up magical cupids? :)
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