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The Dating Game by Courtney Dark
Chapter 6 : The Winner of the Game
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 16


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 I stared out the window in boredom, waiting as the minutes ticked by slowly. Each second felt like a minute, each minute like an hour. I could hear Professor Binn’s voice droning on in the background about who knows what, but I really wasn’t in the mood for paying attention, even though I knew I’d regret it later. O.W.L’s were just too close to zone out in the middle of class…then again, James and Sirius always got perfectly good marks in History of Magic, even though they spent each and every lesson gossiping like little girls.

“The formation of the International Confederation of Wizards was an important event in magical history,” Professor Binns was saying in his usual, monotonous voice. “However the wizards of Liechenstein refused to join because of…”

I sighed, and went back to staring out of the window. It was a beautiful day. The sky was blue and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I couldn’t wait for lunchtime, and not only because I was hungry enough to eat a hippogriff. Today we were all casting our votes to find out who the winner of the Dating Game would be. And the winner got to pick one person to take out on another date, and the losers had to be their slave for a day.

I sincerely hoped Sirius would not be the winner. Who knew what he’d make us do? Although it would probably be something completely inappropriate, knowing Sirius. Or perhaps he’d ask us all to be his personal shoppers.

Then again, he had his Quick Buy Wizards Wear catalogue for that.

My thoughtsigured  were suddenly interrupted by a bark of laughter from Sirius (which Professor Binns, typically, ignored). James was grinning like a man possessed, so I fhe’d told another one of his awful jokes that only Sirius seemed to find funny.

“The first supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards was Pierre Bonaccord,” Professor Binns was saying, apparently unaware that not a single member of his class was paying any attention. Why Dumbledore lets an ancient ghost teach a class is beyond me. Then again, he’s always been a fair man, even to people like me. He let me attend his school, didn’t he?

I scanned the classroom. Dara was gazing dreamily into space, scratching her nose with the end of a quill. Lily was looking through her notes importantly and Ruby had a compact mirror out and was touching up her mascara. June appeared to be drawing something on a piece of parchment, with a look of intense concentration on her face. And suddenly I realised: even though there was no chance of me winning the dating game, I had managed to make four new friends – friends I wouldn’t have had the courage to go up and talk to, if it wasn’t for this harebrained scheme of Sirius’. An idea he’d thought up just because he was bored.

It just goes to show, I guess, Sirius does have a bit of brainpower there, buried beneath that long, shaggy black hair of his.

The bell rang suddenly, signalling the start of lunch and the members of the class hastily began to pack up all their belongings.

“Don’t forget, I’m expecting two rolls of parchment on Tuesday on the International Confederation of Wizards,” Professor Binns said before turning and exiting the classroom through the blackboard.

“Come on guys!” Sirius bellowed excitedly, earning strange looks from those around us. “Let the final round of the Dating Game commence!”

Together, the eight of us strolled out of the History of Magic classroom and onto the Hogwarts grounds. I was immediately reminded of the day we had sorted out the rules for the game – how I’d been so busy staring at Ruby’s legs that I’d barely noticed what was going on around me.

But now…things had changed. Hadn’t they?

“I am so going to win this thing!” James said confidently as we headed towards the edge of the Black Lake, the sun warm on our backs. “You ladies had better all vote for me.”

“I wouldn’t vote for you if the earth froze over and you and I were the only ones left alive, Potter,” Lily said in a voice that was venomous, even for her.

“Aw, come on Evans!” James grinned. “You know you love me.” Lily gave him a glare so vicious that even James looked startled. “Er…very, very deep down,” he amended, linking arms with Dara and turning to talk to her. This seemed to make Lily even madder as she stuck her nose in the air and marched on ahead of us.

Oh, Merlin.

As we neared the lake, June hurried to walk next to me. “Hey, Remus,” she said. “I haven’t seen much of you since the party.”

I groaned. “The party was a mistake,” I said, and June’s face fell. I knew immediately what she was thinking: that I regretted our near-kiss. “That’s not what I mean,” I said quickly. “I mean, I should never have gone to it. Lily reminded me of my duties as a prefect – I’m supposed to be the responsible one.”

June smiled, relief evident on her face. “Don’t worry about Lily,” she said. “She’s just mad because James and Dara are going out now…sort of.”

“She is?” I asked, surprised. “Did she tell you that?”

“Not exactly,” June said, a little shiftily. “But it’s pretty obvious, don’t you think?”

“Does Dara know Lily fancies James?” I asked curiously.

June laughed, and I was reminded of how much I loved that sound. It always brought a smile to my face, reminded me of my childhood. “Dara’s not really the observant type,” she said.

We’d reached the edge of the lake now, and we all sat down in a tight semi circle. Ruby and Lily hoisted up the ends of their robes and sat with their feet dangling in the cool, clear water. Sirius sat next to Ruby and put his arm around her – Ruby nestled her head on his shoulder. I found I didn’t care much. James and Dara sat down together, sitting about as close as they could get. Lily narrowed her eyes at James and looked in the opposite direction.

I don’t think there’s such thing as a simple, uncomplicated life at Hogwarts.

Sirius turned to face us all, his face shining – it made him look a lot younger than usual. “Greetings friends,” he said formally. “I’m so glad you’ve all gathered here on this day, to hear the results of the momentous…”

“SIRIUS. Stop waffling on like an old man and get to the point,” Lily said irritably. Some things never change. “I, for one, am eager to know who gets to have seven slaves for a day.”

“Hear, hear,” agreed James, but fell silent when Lily gave him an angry look.

“Right you are, Lily,” Sirius said happily, producing his brand new wizard’s hat (which we all had to have for formal occasions). “Does someone have a bit of parchment and a quill?”

“I do,” I said, digging around in my bag.

“We can always rely on you, Moony!” said Sirius, as I handed him the parchment. He began tearing it up into little strips. “Right,” he said. “Everyone right your name on a piece of parchment and we’ll put them into my hat. James here will draw out the names one by one…and then the voting will begin!”

One by one, we wrote our names and dropped them into the hat. I had to admit, despite everything, I was feeling quite excited. I wondered if even one person would vote for me as the best dater.

Once Peter, the final person, had put his name onto the hat, Sirius gave it a good shake up and then handed it to James to draw a name out.

“Evans,” said James smugly, after carefully unfolding the little bit of paper. “You’re up first. Who do you vote for as the best dater?” He grinned and Lily, and dropped her what he clearly thought was a seductive wink.

Lily, though I can’t really say I blame her, ignored him. “Remus,” she said. “I had a lot of fun with him on my date, so that’s who I’m voting for.”

Both James and I stared at her in surprise. James’ jaw had literally dropped when Lily had said my name, rather than hers. Clearly he had been counting on her vote – though I don’t know what he was expecting, considering he threw her into the lake.

“Gee, ah, thanks Lily,” I said uncertainly. “I had fun with you too.”

One vote for me. How…unexpected.

Next up was Ruby.

“I vote for Sirius,” she beamed, snuggling up to Sirius, who smiled smugly and kissed her on the forehead. “Because we’re like two peas in a pod…and he knows how to party.”

“Well,” said Sirius, not very modestly. “They don’t call me the Party King for nothing.”

“Nobody calls you the Party King,” said James, clearly put out that two girls hadn’t voted for him.

“Sure they do,” Sirius replied. “In my dreams – you know, the ones filled with Firewhiskey and hot girls.”

“So, all of them then?” Peter asked.

Sirius roared with laughter. “Well, would you look at that? Wormtail cracked a funny!”

The next person to cast their vote was Peter. He proclaimed (going beet red as he said it) that his favourite date had been his one with June. So that was one vote Sirius, one vote June and one vote to me.

James unfolded the next bit of paper. “Padfoot!” he grinned. “Which lovely lady did you have the most fun with?”

“Why Miss Ruby ‘Sexy-Legs’ Cherrytree, of course,” Sirius said, without an ounce of shame. “We’re gonna be together for ever, baby!” We all snorted with laughter and Ruby hit Sirius on the knee…though I could tell that she was pleased.

Dara cast her vote next. I was very surprised when she also voted for me – I was so sure that she would’ve thought James was the best dater. After all, they did have that extremely long snogging session at the party. Then again, I wasn’t complaining. Two votes for me. Clearly I’m a ladies man after all…ha!

James fished his own name out of the hat next and I realised….who was James going to vote for? Lily? That would probably just make her mad. Dara? Or maybe someone else entirely…that would be the safe option.

“Go on then, James!” Sirius said, clearly eager to find out which of the girls his best friend fancied the most.

“Yes, please go on,” said Lily sourly. “I’m sure we’d all love to hear which of us you think is the most dateable.”

James grinned up at us all, his glasses slipping slightly down his nose with sweat. Was he nervous, and just trying to hide it? “I vote for myself,” he said. “As the best dater.”

Typical. “You can’t vote for yourself, James,” I said patiently. “You didn’t date yourself, did you?”

James shrugged. “They say all you need in life is a good looking bloke – I’m fairly certain I fit the bill.”

Lily snorted. “You really are the most arrogant pig I know,” she snapped. “You only ever think of yourself, don’t you? Play the game, Potter. The rest of us are.”

James gave her a strange look that I couldn’t read. His expression was oddly guarded, which was unusual for James. His face was usually an open book. “You’re right,” he said slowly. “Obviously I’m not going to vote for you, so I’ll cast my vote for Dara.” He grinned at her. “Because she’s an excellent snog.”

Dara smiled absentmindedly. “I used to practise on my childhood soft toy, Mr Wobbly Ears,” she said. “He has lipstick stains all over his mouth now.”

We all stared at Dara, who didn’t seem to notice that she’d just made a completely random and unexpected comment. Then again, I guess you have to expect the unexpected with Dara.

“Er…right,” said Sirius. “Draw out the next name, Prongs.”

“You’re up, Moony!” James said, unfolding the second last bit of paper. I felt my stomach tightening as my friends all stared at me expectantly, waiting for me to cast my vote. And then I realised: I hadn’t given a single thought to who I was going to vote for.

At the beginning of this game, I had been so sure my vote would go straight to Ruby. I was in love with her, right? But now…now I wasn’t so sure. All my other dates had gone so well, especially my one with June.

Almost unconsciously, I found myself glancing over at her. My stomach gave a funny turn when I realised she was staring right back, with large, hopeful brown eyes. I suddenly felt myself remembering that almost kiss…

“I vote for Dara,” I said, very quickly. I couldn’t not notice the surprised look I got from Lily and the slightly hurt one June gave me. My stomach twisted. “Because…because she introduced me to chip butties, which I am now addicted to,” I finished lamely, stammering over my words.

Two votes Dara, two votes to me. And June was the only one left to go. And she certainly wasn’t going to be choosing me. Not after what I’d just done.

“Alright then, June Bennett,” James said, and I swear his voice sounded unnaturally bright. “Which lovely young man would you like to pick?”

June bit her lip nervously – she hated being the centre of attention. “I-I had such a nice time with each of you,” she said slowly. “I really don’t know who to pick…but, in my heart I know what the right decision is.” She took a deep breath. “My vote is for you, Remus,” she said quietly.

I stared at her. She had chosen me. That gave me three votes. And it meant…it meant I was the winner!

How the hell did that happen?”

“Hang on…” said James slowly. “Remus got three votes. That means…that means he’s the winner!” He sounded a little too shocked for my liking.

“Oh, well done Potter,” Lily said. “It seems you’ve finally learned mathematics!”

“But…I’m the one all the girls go for!” James said, sounding confused. He reached up and ruffled his hair. “I’m the one they all fancy!”

“Jeez, thanks mate,” I said, rolling my eyes. “I’m not completely disgusting, you know.”

“Remus is perfectly fancyable,” Ruby said matter-of-factly. “Not all girls like Quidditch stars, James.”

“Possibly,” James said. “But you have to admit, the majority of them do.”

Lily threw her arms in the air. “Oh, this is ridiculous,” she said. “Who do you want to take out on a date, Remus?”

I froze. Crap. Seven pairs of eyes were now staring at me, waiting for my decision. I had been put completely on the spot, and Lily knew it. She really was evil, that girl.

A huge part of me just wanted to say June’s name. It was guaranteed that we’d have fun, if we went out on another date. We never seemed to run out of things to talk about and we were perfectly comfortable around each other. And I liked June. But did I like her in that way?

Then there was Ruby. Our date hadn’t gone at all the way I’d thought it would. But there was still a part of me that wished I could get to know her better…that wished she would get to know me. Just moments before she’d called me ‘fancyable’. That was good, right? She was gorgeous and popular and I’d dreamt of asking her out for years. Now was my opportunity.

I took a deep breath. “Ruby?” I said. “Will you go on another date with me?”

Silence. Complete and utter silence. None of my friends said a word. They all just stared at me, clearly in shock. In that moment, you could’ve heard a pin drop. Sirius looked like he wanted to throw something at me, Lily looked upset and Ruby just looked…confused. Dara was twirling three pieces of grass into a plait, clearly ignoring all of us, but apart from that everyone was gaping at me, in a frightening sort of way.

And then, from beside me, June let out a little gasp and scrambled to her feet.

“June…” said Lily softly.

“I don’t want to hear it,” June whispered, before scampering up the bank and running back towards the castle, wiping at her eyes.

Bollocks.

“Oh, Remus,” said Lily, looking as though she were on the verge of tears herself. “What have you done?”

“What’d you mean?” I asked hoarsely.

“Oh, come on Remus!” said Ruby sharply…and to my complete astonishment. “June is in love with you! Are you so blind that you can’t see that?”

“But…”

“There are no buts,” she continued. “What do you think you’re playing at, asking me out like that? You don’t have any feelings for me! You love June. You just chose me because I was the safe option, because you were too cowardly to take a risk. And you call yourself a Gryffindor!”

I stared at Ruby in shock. I’d never heard her say anything so…insightful before. If it were a different time, I might’ve been angry with her. But everything she was saying was right. Maybe, a long time ago, I might’ve thought I had feelings for Ruby. But none of those feelings were real. June was real. She was the realest person I knew. And now, because of my stupidity, I might’ve lost her.

“Crap,” I muttered, rubbing at my forehead. “I’ve really gone and made a mess of things, haven’t I?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” said James. “But yeah. You have.”                   

“But what should I…?”

“Do?” Ruby said, finishing my sentence. “Do we really have to answer that?”

I nodded slowly, and started getting to my feet. “I’m going to go and find her,” I said. “I’m going to go and find June. And Ruby?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

She smiled. It might’ve been the first real emotion I’d ever seen from her. “Any time, Remus.”

***

I found June in the clock tower courtyard. She was sitting alone on a stone bench, her arms wrapped around her legs, which were pulled up to her chin. She sat staring out of a stone arch, watching a group of first years feeding a very large ginger cat.

I approached her slowly, feeling overwhelmingly nervous. Worried about what her reaction would be, I tapped her lightly on the shoulder. As she turned around, it was clear that she had been crying. Her eyes were glistening with tears and her bottom lip was trembling – a telltale sign that she was desperately trying to stop crying. I felt terrible that I had hurt her so badly.

“Hey, June,” I said lamely, thinking all the while what a complete jerk I was.

June’s face tightened when she realised it was me. I didn’t blame her…but that didn’t make the furious look on her face sting any less. “What do you want, Remus?” She sounded more tired than angry.

“I-I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I was worried about you, after you got up and left like that.”

“I’m fine,” said June stiffly. “I’d really rather you just leave me alone.”

“You don’t look fine,” I said. I paused when she didn’t say anything. That was a good sign, right? At least she wasn’t shouting at me. Even though I deserved to be shouted at. “Do you mind if I sit?” I asked, gesturing towards the bench.

June shrugged. “You can do whatever you’d like,” she said. “I can’t control what you do and what you don’t.”

I sat down anxiously. “June, I’m really sorry about what happened down by the lake,” I said finally. “I-I made a mistake…”

Did you?” June said dully.

Yes. It shouldn’t have been Ruby I asked out. It should have been…”

“And why have you changed your mind, all of a sudden? Did she turn you down?”

“No! I mean yes, but…”

“So you came to me. I’m your second choice.”

“June, you have to listen to me,” I said desperately. “Don’t you remember the day of your eleventh birthday party? You asked me to stay with you. And I said…I said I would.”

“Of course I remember,” said June. “I remember every minute I spent with you when we were kids. They were the best days of my life.”

“They were the best days of my life, too,” I said honestly. “And I can’t even begin to explain how much I regret the fact that we…that we drifted apart once we started school. I didn’t realise how much I missed you until I started seeing you again…started talking to you. It was just like old times. You’re my best friend June, and I…”

“My best friend,” June repeated. “Is that all I’ll ever be to you, Remus? How can you not see? How can not see the way I feel about…”

I didn’t let her finish the sentence. Instead I leaned forward and kissed her. Her eyes widened and she let out a little gasp of surprise as our lips met, but she didn’t pull away.

After several long, perfect moments – perhaps it was a few minutes or maybe it was several clear blue days, though it didn’t seem to matter – we broke apart. June’s cheeks were flushed pink and there was a small smile playing on her lips.

I grinned at her. “That,” I said. “Is the way I feel about you. I love you, June Bennett.”

June’s eyes widened, shining in the sunlight. “I love you too, Remus Lupin,” she said. “More than you can possibly know. There’s just one thing though.”

“What is it?” I asked, frowning slightly.

This time, June definitely smiled. “Kiss me again,” she said. “Just to make sure.”

I leaned again and kissed her lightly on the lips. “I would do anything for you,” I whispered.

Nothing ever goes to plan. The universe doesn’t allow for that.

But sometimes, things work out so much better than it is even possible to imagine. And for that I am grateful.

The end. 




A/N: There you go! The very last chapter - did you like it? I hope you did, because I had a lot of fun writing this story. I'm even considering writing a novel sized prequel or sequel...thoughts??

Courtney:)                                     


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