Chapter 3 : Harridan (n.)
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“Yo, Rubes,” I yelled, pounding on the bathroom door. “Let’s go.”
“It’s just dinner, for Merlin’s sake,” Marge rolled her eyes, tugging an oversized jumper over her head. It was most likely one of the boys’ or her older brother’s. Our brothers had been mates, actually; Chris had been in the same year as Williams, and they had played Quidditch together. It’s one of the reasons we first became friends, all those years ago. They had introduced us on the platform.
“Leave her be, you lot,” Gwen told us. I watched as she pulled her short blonde hair back into a little ponytail. We were the only two blondes of the group, Gwen and I, though hers was much lighter. Somehow I was the only one that got the dumb blonde jokes. Go figure.
“Ruby, I gotta piss!” I banged on the door again. “It’s not like Piers hasn’t seen you without makeup before.” I went to bang on the door one last time, but right before my fist could connect with the battered wood the door flew open and revealed Ruby standing in the doorway.
“You suck, you know that?” She told me, breezing past me and leaving the door open.
“Thank Merlin,” I moaned, rushing inside to pee.
“Pee fast, Liz,” Roxy called after me. “I’m starved.” I rolled my eyes, but peed as fast as I could. When I emerged from the loo a few minutes later, they were all standing there waiting for me.
“’Sup guys!” I grinned brightly. Roxy and Ruby just glared at me, and Marge rolled her eyes. “Sorry I had to pee!” I whined.
“If all the bread is gone by the time we get down there,” Roxy informed me darkly, “you’re dead.”
“Keep your knickers on, women!” I cried, grabbing my jumper and heading towards the doors. “We’re only ten minutes late.”
“That’s twenty by the time we get down to the Great Hall,” Rox told me. “Thirty if Ruby walks at her normal pace.”
“Oi! Excuse me for not speedwalking everywhere like you lot!” I rolled my eyes, looping my arm through Roxanne’s.
“Well then let’s get a move on,” I told her, tugging her down the stairs. Honestly, the girl was such a diva. I could hear Marge and Gwen and Ruby clomping down the stairs behind us.
Dinner was one of my favorite times of the day. Breakfast was my favorite meal, in terms of the food, but dinnertime was clearly the best mealtime. The day was done, the evening was stretching out ahead with endless possibility…what could be better?
“Ha!” Ruby crowed as we made it to the doors of the Great Hall. “It only took us 17 minutes. Fuck you Roxanne!” Roxanne just rolled her eyes, but the rest of us cracked up. Ruby had a tendency to walk suuuuppperrr slowly, and we always took the mickey out of her for it. I don’t know how Piers put up with walking so slowly everywhere, but that was his burden to bear now, not ours. We would all leave the Great Hall together to go to class in the morning, and Piers and Ruby would arrive a good five minutes after we did.
“Let’s go get some food,” Marge grinned, pushing open the doors and heading over to our usual spot at the Gryffindor table – right in the middle. The blokes were already there: James and Freddy and Liam next to each other with windswept hair and ruddy cheeks that told me they, unlike Marge, had stayed after Quidditch practice and kept flying. It also meant that they probably hadn’t showered either, which meant that I would be sitting on the other side of the bench with Max and Piers.
Piers was saving a seat next to him for Ruby, I could see now. How sweet. They had started dating midway through Sixth, and it was a bit of a shock. Ruby was all fire, with bright red hair and a temper to match. We always thought that she would be the last of us to find a bloke and settle down into a mature relationship. Piers had the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing going for him. He had an air of mystery around him, a slow drawl and a graceful gait and a killer smile that drew all the girls to him like Nifflers to a gold necklace. He had always been a bit quieter than the rest, but it didn’t stop him from having a string of one girlfriend after another since he hit puberty. For whatever reason, however, last year he set his sights on Ruby and never looked back.
I watched as she slid into the seat next to him and gave him a bright smile, which he gladly returned. I rolled my eyes. So precious. Thank Merlin they got over the all-over-each-other-PDA phase earlier last year. I don’t know how many more meals of that I could have taken.
“Lo all,” I greeted the group as I slid in next to Ruby. Roxy took the seat next to me, and Marge and Gwen squished themselves in between some random Fifth years and Liam on the other side.
“How late did you lot stay after practice?” Marge asked, pushing her still-damp, shoulder-length brown hair behind her ears.
“Not too long,” Liam replied with a grin. “Just tossed the Quaffle around for a bit, y’know how it is.” He shrugged.
“You couldn’t have spared a few extra minutes for a shower?” She wrinkled her nose.
“Ah, just admit it, Mags,” he grinned, tossing an arm over her shoulder. “You love my natural scent.”
“Definitely not,” Margaret replied, picking his arm up off her shoulder. She rolled her eyes, but Liam continued to just grin good-naturedly. That was his style, pretty much. He was a go-with-the-flow, good-natured kind of guy.
I reached forward to grab the casserole dish in front of me, loading my plate up with the chickeny-cheesy goodness. Not, you know, that I had done anything to work up an appetite today. Gone to class, worked on an essay, did a crossword. I mean, it was a Tuesday after all, and everyone knew that Tuesday’s puzzles were super easy. Second only to Monday’s.
(Hint: for those of you morons out there that have never picked up a crossword puzzle before, they get harder as the week goes on, culminating in the pants-wetting, knee-shaking behemoth known as the Sunday crossword. I had never finished one all by myself; it took all six of us collaborating to get it).
Point: it wasn’t difficult. I didn’t use a lot of brain cells today. Or energy, unlike the Quidditch players. I really didn’t need to be eating a whole plate of chicken and cheese casserole. But I am anyway. You know why? Because I fucking live on the edge, that’s why.
Actually, I just really like casserole. So sue me.
“Did you hear about Poppy Macmillan?” Roxanne asked, though I’m not sure whether it was directed to me or to the table at large.
“What about her?” Ruby took the bait.
“She’s been hooking up with the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain, Callum Chilcott.”
“Really?” I set my fork down. “For how long?” Don’t look at me like that. You’re totally interested too. (Poppy Macmillan was our year, Hufflepuff. Pretty hair that reminded me of caramel and big blue eyes, but more than a little fucking naïve).
“A couple weeks, apparently,” Roxanne responded. “I don’t get it.”
“Me either,” Ruby added, wrinkling her nose. “I mean he’s so smart and complex and she’s so….”
“Not?” I chimed in. It was true. Callum Chilcott was extremely smart, a born strategist. Even James admitted that this Quidditch plays were genius. He wasn’t gorgeous, but with his strong jaw line and his sandy blonde hair he was a far sight better than some of the blokes around here. I always thought he would go for someone with more substance than Poppy. Someone like….like Savannah. Pretty and smart, you know?
(Poppy has snogged both James and pre-Ruby Piers, if that gives you any indication of her type).
“D’you think it’ll last much longer?” Ruby asked, leaning forward.
“Doubtful,” Roxanne frowned. “’Specially not with Quidditch season almost here. Callum doesn’t strike me as the type to want a distraction.”
Marge and Gwen both rolled their eyes. They didn’t usually join in on the gossip sessions; Gwen because she didn’t like talking behind people’s backs and Marge because she just couldn’t care less. I’ve given up trying to rope them in. I knew they secretly loved it. Deep down. Deep, deep down.
“As fascinating as this conversation is,” James cut in, standing up from the table. “I’ll see you lot later.” As he strode across the Great Hall, the rest of us exchanged looks.
“Is it just me - ” Marge began.
“Or has James been disappearing randomly a lot lately?” Freddy finished. “It’s not just you.”
“So you guys have no idea where he’s been going?” I asked. Liam, Freddy, Max, and Piers just shook their heads. Wow. I could understand Piers and Max not knowing; Piers was usually wrapped up in Ruby and Max, well, Max was a prefect, which meant that sometimes he didn’t know what was happening until it actually happened. It was better for everyone that way.
But Liam and Freddy were James’ best mates, and had been since they were all little wee tykes in nappies. So if Freddy and Liam didn’t know, then nobody knew. And unlike Piers, James wasn’t Mr. Mysterious. James was usually loud and obnoxious and flirty. James Potter didn’t just disappear.
“Think he’s snogging someone?” Roxy asked, raising an eyebrow. Immediately, my eyes shot over to the Ravenclaw table, landing on Savannah all smiley and happy and pretty and chatting with her friends. Uh oh. That would throw a bit of a metaphorical wrench in our plans.
“I dunno,” Freddy replied, a frown on his face as he looked in the direction James has gone. “Normally he tells us that. Hell, normally the whole school knows when James is snogging someone.”
“True,” Gwen cut in. “It’s not like the girls want to keep it a secret or anything.”
“So who could James be snogging that wouldn’t want it paraded around school?” I mused, taking another bite of my casserole.
“A Slytherin?” Fred suggested.
“It’s possible,” Roxy conceded, twirling a strand of hair around her finger.
“The competition, maybe?” Marge suggested. “A rival Quidditch player?”
“Oh, he could be snogging Hufflepuff’s Quidditch captain!” I sat up, my eyes wide. Her name was Aisling O’Rourke, and considering how awful her team was, she wasn’t too bad at Quidditch. She was a Chaser, but you could only do so much if your Keeper let in all the other team’s goals and your Seeker couldn’t catch the Snitch. She was pretty as well, with freckles and cooper hair – super Irish.
“Aisling O’Rourke?” Marge raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know. She’s pretty enough, but I don’t know if she’s James’ type.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“She’s far more passive than the hair would lead you to believe,” Marge explained. “Nothing like Ruby.”
“Hey!” Ruby protested.
“True,” Liam added in, shooting Marge a sideways look. “She can’t manage her team very well.”
“Hm.” Roxanne propped her hand on her chin. “Could be. Very interesting.”
“Extremely,” I agreed, leaning forward and snagging one of the biscuits that had just appeared on the plate in front of me. What? A girl’s got to have her priorities.
“Do you really think James is secretly off snogging someone and we’ve got no idea?” I asked Roxanne the next day as we were walking to Charms. It had been bugging me all night, both because it would absolutely crush Savannah and because it was so unlike James to keep something like that from us. Granted, he and I weren’t that close, but we were all in the same group and we were good enough mates that I was usually privy to that type of information.
“Why do you care?” Roxanne teased, her dark eyes sparkling as she gave me a look. “You got the hots for dear Jamsie?”
“As if.” I rolled my eyes. “You know Savannah Dewhurst? Ravenclaw prefect?” I asked.
“Yeah.” Roxy clearly didn’t know where this was going.
“Well, don’t tell anyone,” I paused to give her a look. Roxy wasn’t the best at keeping secrets.
“I won’t!” She protested.
“Alright, well she fancies James a bit and asked me to see if he might feel the same way.”
Roxy snorted. “She asked you?”
“Shut up!” I whacked her on the shoulder. “I told her I was the wrong person to come to, but she seemed so sad and shite that I couldn’t resist.”
“Such a pushover, Lizard,” Roxy tutted.
“It’s called having a heart, Roxanne, you should try it sometimes.”
“Whatever,” she replied airily. “So what are you going to do now that lover boy’s off snogging someone else?” I shrugged.
“Oi, Lizard breath!” Ah, the dulcet tones of my fellow womb-spawn.
“Get out of here, Lazy,” I shot back without even turning around. “No one likes you.”
“I do!” Roxy piped in. I hip-checked her, ignoring her curse as she stumbled to the side. Serves that bint right. Everyone knows I’m the cooler Cooper sister.
“Wait up, Liz,” she whined, and I could hear her footsteps behind us. Sighing heavily, like it was such a huge burden to me, I stopped and turned.
“Hiya sis!” She grinned widely, throwing her arms around me.
“Oof, geroff me, Maisie!” I choked out, trying to push her off. Somehow, I had ended up the shortest one in the family. Not that I was that short – 5 feet 7 inches was perfectly normal height, if not a little on the taller side. Maisie was the freak, three inches taller than me, all long legs and long arms and long blonde hair.
“Just showing some sisterly love!” She beamed, releasing me from the death trap that was her monkey arms.
“I thought we talked about this,” I told her with narrowed eyes, straightening out my skirt. “No excessive contact in the corridor. You’re going to ruin my street cred.” I gave her a look that was supposed to look menacing, but she just rolled her eyes.
“You don’t have any street cred, Liz,” Maisie pointed out.
“Well then let me earn some!” I responded, pulling a face.
“How is it that you’re the older sister and considerably less mature?” Roxanne commented.
“Oi, shut it!” I told her, pointing my finger in her face. “Unless you want another hip check!” She pouted.
“Not fair, you have pointy hips.”
“True that,” Maisie added.
“Anyhoo, Lazy Maisie,” I grinned brightly. “Anything you wanted in particular or did you just want to bask in the rays of my awesomeness and try to soak up some eau de Liz?”
“I don’t even know what you just said,” she responded, equally as brightly. “But is there any crime in wanting to say hi to your sister?”
“When you call her Lizard Breath, then yes, there is.”
“All my mates walked away and I was left standing all alone with Mark Sheffield and it got awkward so I saw you and bailed,” she replied quickly, glancing around the corridor to make sure the boy in question wasn’t in earshot.
“Aw!” I squealed. “Maybe he really fancies you, Maise!”
“Shut up,” she gave me a death glare. “Don’t even mention the F word.” I rolled my eyes. And people called me the drama queen of the family.
“Is he gone?” She looked around again.
“Brilliant,” I replied smartly.
“Have you heard from Williams recently?”
“Since when does Williams talk to me?” I scowled.
“Jus wondering,” she shrugged. “You’re closer than age to him, I figured if he wrote one of us it’d be you.”
“The last time Williams wrote me something was....never, if I’m remembering correctly. Besides, he likes you better.”
“You’re such a smart arse,” Maisie replied. Another eye roll.
“Is that all?” I asked, raising my eyebrows. She shot me a look and I rolled my own eyes. “I love you and all, but I’m going to be late for Charms if I stand here and coddle you any longer. So consider this your metaphorical push out of the nest, baby sparrow!” I stood on my tiptoes and pecked her on the cheek. “Catch ya later!” With that, I looped my arm through Roxanne’s and started in the direction of the Charms classroom.
“You’re certifiable!” Maisie called after me.
“Yeah? Well you’re a harridan!” I shot back, looking over my shoulder. Maisie, used to my extensive and impressive vocabulary, just shot me the finger. For all she knows, I could have called her Voldemort’s second coming. Or the little lever you press on the toaster. You never know, do you?
“You both are absolutely mad,” Roxy shook her head. “If Williams wasn’t so normal, I would think that it’s something genetic.”
“Maybe it’s a recessive gene only found in the females!” I suggested brightly. She gave me a look. Right, not helping my case. “Whatever! Let’s just go to Charms.”
We continued down the hallway to the Charms classroom, Roxy chatting aimlessly about the new sweater she had just seen in Witch Weekly and how she wants to try and find a similar one next Hogsmeade weekend. Before long, we were sprawled out in the two middle chairs in the second-to-last row – our spot.
We had sat in these same seats in Flitwick’s class ever since the first day of First Year. In Fourth Year, some Ravenclaw blokes thought it would be funny to try and get to class early to sit in them. When I informed them upon our arrival that they were in our seats, they responded ever so intelligently with “We don’t see your names on them.” (Again, why are Ravenclaws considered so smart?) Anyway, Roxy quickly shut them up when she pointed out that our names were indeed on the chairs, as we had etched them in during a particularly boring lecture the year before.
Take that, Ravendorks!
“What’s up with Maisie and this Mark Sheffield bloke?” Roxy asked me as she pulled out a quill, referring to my little corridor tête-à-tête with my sister. The rest of the gang wasn’t here yet; Roxy and I had left for class early. Besides, they all sat in the front in this class. It was one of the only ones where we didn’t all sit together, mainly because Roxy and I refused to break tradition and give up our seats.
“6th year Gryffindor with the kind of brownish-reddish hair,” I explained, scribbling the date down as Flitwick starting writing some things on the board. “Apparently he was a bit overserved at the Welcome Back party and tried to ask Maisie to Hogsmeade.”
“Ooh, drama!” Roxy crowed, her eyes widening. I swear, that girl lives for gossip. “What did she do?”
“Well, he never got the chance to actually ask,” I continued. I pulled the hair tie off my wrist and pulled my long blonde hair back in a ponytail to keep it out of my face. Long hair combined with a bunch of halfwit teenagers learning spellwork never ended well. “Apparently she caught on before he could formally ask her and ran away.”
“Poor Mark!” Roxy sympathized. “He’s just trying to get a little love from Maisie! She’s so hard to get.”
“I’m grateful for it,” I replied. “If she were running around like fucking Megan Corner, I’d have to spend half my time chasing after her and making sure she didn’t do something stupid.”
Roxy snorted. “Like you never do anything stupid. You probably gave Williams a heart attack per week while he were here.” Now it was my turn to snort.
“Williams never cared if I got myself into trouble. Both a curse and a blessing, I suppose.” I shrugged. He had never intervened on any of my dates or threatened to beat up a bloke who was mean to me or anything like that. I rather thought he didn’t even know what I was up to, considering he didn’t pay me any attention at all.
“Definite blessing,” Roxy said. “Try having a twin brother in the same year and House as you. I can never get away with anything.” I shot her a look.
“Roxy, you get away with so much shite.”
“Alright,” she conceded. “But only because I’ve become good at hiding things from Fred. Could you imagine what would happen if I actually wanted to date someone instead of just snog them in broom cupboards?”
“Why am I friends with such a slag?” I moaned. Roxy flicked me.
“Don’t be a bitch, Cooper. There are zero blokes here worth putting through the wringer that is dating as a Weasley. Besides, snogging is the most fun part, and this way I don’t have to deal with all that other stuff.”
“That other stuff is nice sometimes too,” I pointed out.
“Who’s the last person you dated, then?” She raised her eyebrows.
“Chris Agather, end of 5th,” I shot back. He was a Ravenclaw (I know, I know – how could I?) and two years older. We dated most of my 5th, his 7th year, but broke up when he graduated because we both knew it wouldn’t last. He had been lovely, though, and I spent the first half of that summer moping around my room, and the second half sneaking out at night and snogging lots of random neighborhood blokes.
“Really?” Roxy replied, seeming surprised. “That seems like ages ago.”
“Only a little more than a year.”
“You didn’t date anyone last year.”
“Didn’t want to,” I replied. Lies. I totally would have dated Danny Cabrera if he asked me, but despite the Quidditch-after-party-snogging-incident, he was way out of my league.
“I feel you,” she sighed. “I mean, we’re 7th years. We’ve spent 7 years with these people, 6 with the year below us. I feel like I’ve either been there, done that, or know them so well that they’re practically a relative.”
“I agree,” I replied, propping my elbows on the desk. “At least we used to have older blokes. Now there’s only younger ones, and there’s no fucking way I’d ever date a Fifth year.”
“Ugh, agreed,” Roxy wrinkled her nose. “Snog, maybe, but never date. They’re like, so immature and stupid.”
“And short,” I added.
“And short,” she concurred.
“If you have to date anyone in our year,” I asked her, “who would it be?” Roxy paused, cocking her head to the side as she thought.
“That’s a tough one,” she mused. “I’d rule out most Slytherins because they’re all pompous and arrogant sons of bitches, though Digby and Garbet-Smithe are beautiful to look at, of course. That Tobias kid you hang out with is pretty good-looking, though he gives me the creeps. And Scorp is cute and all and a hell of a lot nicer, but he’s most definitely already spoken for.”
Not that either he or Rose knew it, of course, but they were destined to be together. They were both brilliant and stubborn and sniped at each other all the time. Scorpius had the brooding scowl nailed and Rosie had a knack for telling everyone what to do all the time. They were kind of like Piers and Ruby in a way – it didn’t make sense until of all of sudden it did.
“Let’s see,” Roxy continued, wearing her contemplative face (she practises it in the mirror). “Darby Brown in Hufflepuff is cute, but duller than a bag of bricks, and the rest of Hufflepuff is too boring to even consider speaking to. I’m ruling out everyone in Gryffindor because at this point they’re either related to me, practically related to me, or I’ve already dated them.”
“Fair point,” I conceded.
“I suppose I would have to say Clayworth, then. He’s smart, good-looking, a good Quidditch player, and he’s got a fabulous temper, so I think we would really hit it off!” She finished with a bright smile.
“A fabulous temper?” I raised my eyebrows. Turner Clayworth was a 7th year Ravenclaw, a Chaser on their team. He was damn good, and he knew it. Pretty arrogant, but not annoyingly so – more on a Fred/Liam/James level, if you get my point. Well loved by all the girls, and had snogged his fair share. He did have a bit of a nasty temper, but Roxy was Roxy and would never date someone dull. She thrived on the drama. “Interesting choice.”
“You said date, not snog,” Roxy pointed out. “Which changes the answer. It has you be someone you want to snog and someone you want to talk to.”
“Who’d have thought that’d be so hard to find!” I sighed dramatically.
“Now your turn!” Roxy said delightedly, practically bouncing in her seat. (Remember what I said about the girl living for gossip? This shite is like her oxygen).
“Ah, fuck,” I cursed good-naturedly. “I was hoping you’d forget.”
“Not bloody likely!” She grinned. “Now spill. Who would you date?”
“I’d probably get down to the most of the same people as you,” I replied, “for obvious reasons. I guess my top five choices would be…” I trailed off for a moment, thinking. “James, Callum Chilcott, Clayworth, Darby Brown, and I would totally date Shelsher. I think he’s adorable.”
“Adorable?” Roxy wrinkled her nose. “I can’t see you with someone adorable. You need someone exciting. And someone who will call you out for being fucking weird.”
“Thanks, darling,” I rolled my eyes.
“No prob!” She grinned. “Now you have to pick one.”
“I gave you my top five,” I whined.
“The question was who was the one person you’d date, Lizard,” she glared. “Not the top five you’d consider.” I groaned.
“It’s not like I actually fancy any of them,” I explained.
“I know, loser,” Roxy replied impatiently. “You don’t have to fancy them to think that they’d be nice to potentially date. Think about it this way: if I told you that I knew someone was going to ask you to Hogsmeade next month, and that it was someone you would be glad about – not someone gross or anything – who would you think of?”
“Merlin, that’s still tough,” I mused. “In terms of who I would be the least surprised about, it would probably be Shelsher. Or maybe Darby Brown.” Chilcott was obviously out with the whole Poppy Macmillan thing, and I don’t think I was Clayworth’s type. He wasn’t really mine, anyhow.
“But is that who you’d most like to date?”
“If we’re going by who we actually want to spend copious amounts of time with,” I continued, making a face before continuing. “I’d probably go with James, just because we probably get along best out of all those blokes.” Roxy’s eyebrows flew up.
“James, really?” I shrugged.
“I mean, I already know I get along with him. We like a lot of the same things, we have the same mates, our families are friends. When you date someone you usually spend a lot of time with just them, and I don’t mind hanging out with James. I think Callum and Darby might get a little dull or I’d feel intellectually inferior – “ at this, Roxy snorted – “and Clayworth is a bit much for my tastes. And yeah, I would probably get sick of Shelsher pretty quickly.” I rolled my eyes. “He’d probably follow me around like a puppy.”
“Interesting,” Roxy replied. Suddenly, a wicked smile crossed over her face. “So then you must be willing to snog James too.”
Just then, however, Flitwick cleared his throat. “Good afternoon class!” Saved by the professor! I mentally cheered, turning towards the front of the classroom and leaving Roxy hanging.
As Flitwick began to prattle on about something or rather, I felt a sharp elbow in my side. I turned towards Roxy raised my eyebrows. She slid her sheet of parchment across her desk towards me, angling it so I could read what she had scribbled at the top.
Don’t think you’re getting out of answering the question so easily, missy.
Ah, fuck. Telling the Queen of Gossip which bloke I would hypothetically date, especially when said bloke is a really good mate, was probably not one of my smarter moves.
(Minus 10 points to Liz for being a grade-A idiot).
AN: Sorry this took awhile - I wasn't happy with the last part - but here it is! And the plot thickens! What do you think James is sneaking off to do? (or who?) Which of the Gryffindor Gang would you be closest friends with? Which blokes do you think Roxy and Liz should have picked to date? How is it possible for Ruby to walk so slowly? As always, a kajillion thanks for reading!!
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