Chapter 6 : Of Blokes and Blushing
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By the time I got back from my morning run, all gross and sweaty, the sun was rising, yet none of my roommates were awake yet.
Even when I left the dormitory, fully dressed and ready, only Gigi was awake, and she was prodding Francesca with her foot in a vain attempt to wake the heavy sleeper up.
I went down to the common room, finding a comfortable spot on the couch, and opening up my latest literary obsession: Persuasion. I’d read nearly all of Austen’s works, and was now working my way through this one. It had taken some hunting in the Muggle section of Flourish and Blott’s, as I was absolutely forbidden from entering Muggle London. If my parents knew I had the book, I’d be in even deeper trouble than I already was for being in Gryffindor.
I was getting rather into the book, as Louisa had just fallen and Anne was administering first aid, but I was interrupted by the portrait hole swinging open.
“Goodness, all these children gallivanting early in the morning, ruining my beauty sleep…” I heard the Fat Lady grumble, as I turned around to see none other than James Potter entering through the portrait hole.
He had obviously just finished running or something, because he was covered in sweat. He was also shirtless.
What? I’ve never said he wasn’t attractive, only that he was an obnoxious git. There's a difference.
“Morning, Flint,” he greeted me cheerily.
“Potter,” I replied sharply, before returning to my book. I already had to deal with him far too much already, why interact any more than necessary?
I saw him retreat to his dormitory out of the corner of my eyes. Not that I was particularly disappointed. I much preferred Wentworth to Potter.
When I got bored of reading, I decided to head down to breakfast, despite the fact that Alexa hadn’t come down yet. Eating by myself wouldn’t be too terrible, especially considering not that many students would have arrived yet.
However, as I walked into the Hall, I was waved down by two Ravenclaw guys, Nathan Brown and Harrison Price.
I had met the pair in Arithmancy my third year, a class that Alexa refused to take with me. Nathan was a Ravenclaw Prefect with chestnut brown hair. He was really quite funny, but not many people saw that because he studied so much. He wore glasses, but they did little to hide the piercing pale blue eyes underneath. I actually dated him for a part of fifth year, but we both decided we were better off as friends, and against the whole “you can’t be friends after a break-up” thing, we still got on quite well.
On the other hand, Harrison was a Beater for the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. He didn’t study a whole lot, which was why the friendship between the two boys seemed so strange. But I guess Alexa and I were friends too despite being polar opposites, so this was not much of an exception.
In general, I got on with boys much better than I did with girls. Probably something to do with the fact that I preferred Quidditch to shopping and reading to makeup. As a girl, I was kind of a failure: a fact that my mother never failed to point out. I would probably have befriended the boys in Gryffindor, were it not that their leader seemed to have an incessant need to embarrass me. Oh, and Weasley was a bit of a git too, which wasn’t much of a surprise considering he was related to Potter.
I smiled at them, heading for the table. At least now I wouldn’t be eating breakfast alone. I sat down between the two, who had scooted apart to make room for me, ignoring the strange looks I got for sitting at the wrong house table. Oh well. I didn’t care.
“How was your summer, Maddy?” Nathan turned to me and asked, halfway through eating his toast. He had heard Alexa refer to me as Maddy at some point, and picked up on it too.
“The usual,” I replied, knowing that it wasn’t a lie. Although lying was something I had gotten rather good at. “Yours?”
“Awesome,” Harrison interjected. “We spend most of the summer hanging around my house, because there’s this awesome club nearby, and plenty of girls, and – “
“I get the point, Hare.” I cut him off before he could continue. The downside of being friends with the two was hearing about their many escapades. Man, why did I seem to attract the friendships of all the playboys?
He glared at me for the use of the nickname. He’d always disliked the whole “hare” sounding like a rabbit thing. But hey, if they got to call me Maddy, I would call them whatever I wanted. Even if it equated the massive Beater to a bunny.
As the two boys ate massive amounts of food off their plates, I reached for the coffeepot and poured myself a mug.
“I heard from someone you got it on with Gavin Wood over the summer,” Nathan reported casually.
I almost spit coffee across the table. I choked on it instead, and ended up having a coughing fit in an attempt to clear my throat.
“Is that a guilty thing, or a denial thing?” Harrison asked, smirking.
“I absolutely did not shag Wood!” I replied indignantly. I hadn’t given up my V-card yet, for your information.
“So the whole Potter flipping out on him for shacking up with you was a rumor too?” Nathan pressed. Godric, these boys are too much for first thing in the morning. Where do they get this stupid gossip? And aren’t guys supposed to be… I dunno… separated from that kind of thing? Obviously not these two.
I whacked myself in the forehead. Honestly, the rumour mill at Hogwarts is the strangest piece of machinery ever. I don’t think I’ve so much as talked to Wood alone, so where they pulled that piece of information from was completely unknown to me.
“Why would Potter even care anyway?” I replied.
Both boys shrugged. Apparently some students had the idea that Potter actually liked me, but fortunately, both the Ravenclaw boys saw straight through it.
I watched as James and his friends sauntered in, grabbing as much attention as they could as they sat down at the Gryffindor table. I saw Potter’s eyes sweep down the table, and then look to where I was sitting. I saw a flash of emotion in his eye – was that… anger? What did he have to be angry about?
When Alexa entered the Great Hall, I said my goodbyes to Nathan and Harrison, moving back over to the Gryffindor table. After all, they would be handing out timetables soon, and I needed to be at my House table for that.
“What’s got Potter’s knickers in a twist? He looks pissed,” Alexa commented, leaning towards me. It was true. Potter was sitting at the table, stabbing moodily at his eggs.
“Beats me,” I replied. “Although I probably shouldn’t be mentioning Potter’s knickers, considering I apparently slept with Wood over the summer.”
“Seriously?” Alexa giggled. “Hogwarts rumours keep getting crazier and crazier. Now when are we getting these stupid timetables?”
On cue, the Heads of Houses all made their ways to their respective House tables: Professor Flitwick to Ravenclaw, Professor Huntington to Hufflepuff, Professor Nott to Slytherin, and Professor Longbottom to Gryffindor.
Seventh years got their schedules first, so I very quickly found myself looking at my timetable.
I had a free period before lunch on Mondays, first thing in the morning on Wednesdays, and at the end of the day on Friday. However, the number of double class periods made my head spin. Man, when they said seventh year was a killer, they weren’t kidding.
“Double Potions on a Monday morning had to be some sort of crime against humanity,” I whined to Alexa, as she stared at her timetable in shock.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Potions. Seeing how each individual ingredient contributes to the overall quality of the potion is quite fascinating, actually.
Professor Nott, however, is another story. He’s got a horrible disposition and clearly favors the Slytherins. Fortunately we doubled with Hufflepuff, so at least he wouldn’t be targeting our class only. If there was one thing he hated more than Gryffindors, it was Hufflepuffs.
Personally, I couldn’t see what was so bad about them, considering they were all really sweet. Well, except for one of them.
“Sup, sexy?” Kind and loyal, my arse.
I looked up, from the table, meeting eyes with Garrett Goldstein. Think of the devil and the devil shall appear. Or something like that.
He was short and squatty, with short, curly, blonde hair and amber-coloured eyes. He seemed to have developed a creepy obsession with me, and was extremely good at knowing where I was at any given moment. Therefore, my creative mind had nicknamed him Stalker Boy.
Don’t judge my nicknaming abilities, okay?
But honestly, the kid was worse than Potter. And that’s saying something.
“I have a name, you know,” I replied, rolling my eyes. “Sexy” and “babe” were his two favorite names for me. Considering neither were true, it was a bit obnoxious.
“Yes, and I’ll be screaming it tonight,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. Where the kid got all these sexual innuendos from was a mystery to me. They came out like a fountain any time he spoke to me.
Anyone within two meters of our conversation snickered. Awesome, Stalker Boy and I have an audience.
“Aw, you named your right hand after me?” I placed my hand over my heart, pretending to be touched. “How sweet.” After years of this kind of taunting from both him and Potter, I had developed quite an arsenal of comebacks.
The snickers turned to contained laughter. Alexa’s shoulders were shaking beside me. At least I had the upper hand, for now.
His face reddened, but he continued. “Well, you’re certainly the picture in my mind, babe,” he shot back, his voice becoming greasier by the second.
I gagged, as Alexa’s forehead made contact with the wooden table in an attempt to hide her laughter. What a wonderful best friend.
As Stalker Boy scanned the laughing Gryffindors, I wracked my brain for a witty reply, but it was a little too busy being completely and utterly repulsed to come up with anything.
Fortunately, I didn’t even need it. Stalker Boy’s face turned even redder, and he began to stammer. “I’ll just – I’ll be – just going now.”
He left me, hurrying back to his table. I was horribly confused… since when did he just leave like that? Usually, I had to stalk off before he’d relent and stop with all the sexual comments. Oh well. I won’t bite the hand that feeds me.
I’m just full of horrible clichés today, now aren’t I?
The bell rang, and all the students stood up to go to their first classes. Alexa and I hurried down to the dungeons, hoping to sit together.
“I’ve assigned Potions partners for the remainder of the term,” Professor Nott drawled, as soon as the bell signaled the start of class. “If I hear any grumbling, it’ll be detention.”
Watch it be Potter. Nott probably has a vendetta against me anyway, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he paired me with the one person that I cannot stand. But then again, he might not want to give Potter the satisfaction of teasing me all term, so maybe I would be lucky and avoid it.
He picked up a piece of parchment off his desk. “Potter and Rogers, van Leeuwen and van Leeuwen, Johnson and Thomas, Wood and Goldstein, Hyde and Richter, Richards and Middleton, and finally, Weasley and Flint.”
Oh sweet Merlin. Weasley was as bad as – if not worse than – Potter. Maybe he didn’t ask me out all the time, but he blew up cauldrons for fun. His dad owned Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, which was this massive wizard joke store, and Weasley always had some product from the store, and he seemed to think it was a smart idea to just drop them into halfway-completed potions, “just to see what would happen.” Yes, because an explosion was the absolute last thing you’d expect.
He sidled up next to me. “How’s it going, partner?”
“I swear to Merlin, Fred Weasley, if you muck up my Potions grade with your stupid Weasley’s products, I will ensure you never get to pass on your pranking streak.” My voice came out quite a bit more threatening than I had intended, my eyes narrowing to slits. I was more than a little defensive when it came to my grades.
Weasley threw his hands up in the air, in an act of surrender. “Jeez, Flint. I won’t screw up your precious potion!”
Under his breath, he muttered slyly, “I’ll screw up other people’s,” thinking I couldn’t hear him.
He earned himself a jab in the arm for that one.
“Damn, Flint,” he cursed, reaching up to cradle his bicep. “For such a innocent-looking creature, you sure pack a punch.”
I shrugged, reaching down to my bag to pull out my Potions book. “A feisty streak, eh? I like it. No wonder James is crazy about you.”
I froze, my arm still inside my bag looking for my copy of Advanced Potion-Making.
In the break in conversation, I could hear Potter and Gigi sit down behind us. Gigi giggled loudly, and for a moment I felt satisfied knowing someone had a shorter end of the stick than I did.
Damn, what was up with all the weird phrases that kept showing up in my mind today?
Back to what I should have been thinking about: what the hell was Weasley talking about? James wasn’t “crazy about me.”
I straightened up, bringing my books with me, my cheeks significantly redder than they were when I bent over. I hoped I could pull that off as blood rushing to my head.
“Oh, James, I’m so glad you’re my partner this year!” Gigi crooned from behind us. She wasn’t exactly subtle about her feelings. It just seemed that James didn’t reciprocate them.
Potter let out something between a groan and a chuckle, and the resulting sound was rather comical. “Erm, yeah,” he muttered.
She laughed again, leaning towards him. I was suddenly irritated, probably by the high pitch that her voice took on as she attempted to flirt. “I just know we’re going to have so much fun this year – ”
She was interrupted by Professor Nott. “Quiet, students,” he snapped. “Today, you will be brewing the Draught of Living Death, a potion which induces a deep, death-like sleep in the drinker. Vials will be turned in at the end of the period, and the instructions can be found on page three-hundred forty-eight.”
I took a deep breath, attempting to calm back down, because I was still kind of irritated, and even more so because I couldn’t quite figure out why. I flipped to the right page in the book. The first thing I noticed as I scanned the instructions was that this potion was bloody hard. Like, really, who assigns this complicated of a potion on the first day back? Professor Nott, that’s who. I bet he was just bouncing in his seat waiting for one of us to explode a cauldron. Because he’s probably sadistic like that.
I looked up from the book, to see Weasley staring at me expectantly. “Well…?” he prodded.
“Do you have any interest in helping me at all this term?” I asked sardonically, knowing what the answer was going to be.
“Nope,” he replied, popping the “p” for emphasis.
Weasley was just about the laziest student in the history of Hogwarts. He was just lucky that he had so much natural intelligence or else he would have flunked ages ago.
I rolled my eyes, standing up off my stool and making my way to the supplies cabinet.
As I stood in front of the ingredients, someone nudged me. I turned around, facing Alexa.
“How’s Weasley?” she asked, smirking.
I groaned. “Looks like I’m doing all the work for this year.”
She giggled. She laughs, knowing that I’m being tortured. What a great friend.
I say that a lot. Maybe I need to find a new best friend. Although that would be rather difficult.
“Johnson’s kind of cute,” she murmured, soft enough that only I could hear.
I looked over at him. He was studying the instructions, biting his lower lip nervously. I guess he was attractive, but I had never really thought about him in that way.
“Do you like him?” I asked, knowing the answer. Of course she does. Then she’ll snog him in a broom cupboard and forget about him. It’s just the way the world works.
“I don’t know yet. I mean he’s cute and stuff, but I don’t want to do anything too rash,” she replied. What? Alexa isn’t suddenly jumping at a new guy? Has the rotation of the Earth changed too?
Alexa narrowed her eyes at me. Shoot, I said that out loud, didn’t I? I need to pay closer attention to what’s coming out of my mouth.
With all the ingredients in tow, I headed back to the table, where Weasley was waiting for me with a bloody smirk all over his face.
In theory, the Draught of Living Death is simple. Powdered root of asphodel added to an infusion of wormwood.
In actuality, this thing was bloody complicated. It didn’t help that part of my brain was trying to analyze my random emotions and Freddy’s words at the same time. Nothing made sense anymore, except the bubbling cauldron I was currently adding Valerian root to. And even that was getting to be over my head.
After an hour and a half, the potion was finally ready to be turned in. I filled a phial with the pale pink liquid, taking it up to Professor Nott’s desk.
He looked at the potion for a moment, and then glared at me. Oh, I’m sorry, Professor, for brewing a flawless potion and not giving you the chance to insult my intelligence.
I bet he’s going to test this on first years.
The bell rang, as I hurried back to the table to collect my belongings. I had a free period now, and without any homework, you had better believe I was going to go dance.
That was the only way I could get all these racing thoughts out of my head.
I lost track of time in the Room of Requirement, so I ended up having to shower during lunchtime. I didn’t care so much though; I wasn’t all that hungry.
When I showed up to Charms after lunch though, Alexa immediately questioned me.
“Where were you during lunch? I looked for you right after I got out of Divination and couldn’t find you anywhere!”
“I went to the library to find a new book,” I lied offhandedly.
If there’s one thing I was good at, it was lying. I probably could have tricked one of those Muggle lie detectors, I was that good. Most of the time.
Then there were the times like yesterday on the train, where my lie makes absolutely no sense and is about as transparent as a window.
“Will you ever get your nose out of a book?” Alexa rolled her eyes good-naturedly.
“Nahh,” I replied, letting her drag me to a table near the front.
I still to this day do not understand why Alexa enjoys sitting in the front of classes. It wasn’t like she was a particularly focused note-taker, and I always joked she should be in the back to observe her latest prey. And by prey, I mean hormonal teenage boy that dearly wants a snog. She always replied that she prefers to give rather than take. As in, she’d rather have guys stare at her.
I, on the other hand, sat in the front to pay attention to the lectures, and take detailed notes. If you compared the length of Alexa’s notes at the end of any given class to the length of mine, mine usually exceeded hers by at least a few feet.
“Have you heard about Corinne Avery?” Alexa said, as she reached into her school bag for a quill and her signature purple ink.
“What?” I replied eagerly. Alexa always had good gossip, so it was nice to get my share of Hogwarts drama from her. And hers, at least, was relatively true, unlike the random rumours that came from absolutely nowhere, like the Wood one.
“She got it off with Jack Nicholson over the summer, apparently,” Alexa told me, attempting to hide the laughter that this statement ensued.
“Nicholson? As in, the Hufflepuff with Muggle braces?” Jack Nicholson was a seventh-year Hufflepuff, known distinctively for being very, well, unattractive. He also had a very nasally voice, so he ended up the subject of constant ridicule. If he wasn’t the best friend of Stalker Boy, I’d probably feel sorry for him.
“The same,” Alexa nodded eagerly, letting out a few giggles along the way. Corinne Avery was a very stuck-up Slytherin seventh-year, who was under the strong impression that she was superior to everyone. So the fact that she slept with one of the most physically unattractive blokes in all of Hogwarts was actually quite ironic.
“Attention, class!” Professor Flitwick’s cheery voice rung through the classroom, and instantly the discussion going on around us died down. “Today we will be discussing Protean Charms!”
I swear the man’s every sentence ended with an exclamation point. He was just that bubbly, even though he was rather old.
“Now, can someone tell me what a Protean Charm is!” Yes, even his questions sounded like exclamations.
The classroom remained silent for a few moments, as nobody raised their hand.
See, even though I knew the answer, I didn’t shoot my hand up in the air, begging to shoot off some textbook answer. I wasn’t about to call that much attention to myself out of my own free will. I only got called on when a teacher wanted the exact answer. Which, sadly, was quite often.
“Ah, Miss Flint! Please enlighten us!” Exhibit A to my previous statement.
“A Protean Charm is a charm that links several objects to one another for some common purpose,” I rattled off, scribbling my own definition in my notes as I spoke.
I looked over at Alexa’s parchment. While my notes had my name, the date, a title, and a full-length definition, Alexa’s said three words: “Protean Charm – links.” Even our handwriting was polar opposite. Hers was a purple, bubbly print, while mine was a smaller, black script. I liked to think my handwriting was elegant, but after a few feet of essay, it was reduced to what I deemed only one level above chicken-scratch. It was obviously still readable though, so that was all that mattered.
“Correct!” Flitwick cheered. There was absolutely no other way to describe his voice when it became that high-pitched. “Five points to Gryffindor!”
“Protean Charms link objects, so that they can be used for magical communication!” Flitwick continued. “Can someone tell me one important historical use of the Protean Charm!”
This time, someone else raised their hand, as Flitwick called out, “Mister Weasley!”
Since when did Weasley actually participate in class? Please excuse me, I think I’ve travelled to an alternate universe where Potter leaves me alone and my parents actually love me.
Oh, how I wish.
Momentary bitterness aside, I turned around in my seat, interested to hear his reply.
“Dumbledore’s Army, during the Second Wizarding War,” Weasley answered promptly, and I found myself shocked that he actually knew the correct answer.
I noticed that Potter was staring intently at the corner of the table, thumbing the edge of his parchment. He tended to get this way whenever his father's actions were brought up.
It’s kind of funny that the main thing Potter’s famous for it his father, yet it’s the one thing he doesn’t flaunt.
Okay, when did I start psychoanalyzing Potter?
I quickly turned back to my notes, writing furiously to distract myself from what my brain had decided it wanted to do: delve into Potter’s psyche.
Like, honestly, brain, what the hell? I have enough issues to deal with, without adding Potter’s, whatever they may have been, into the mix.
Why is it that this year I’m already having trouble paying undivided attention in class?
And why do I have a feeling that this is only the beginning?
Damn, I missed whatever Flitwick just said.
A/N: As always, please review! That little grey box is very hungry!
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