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Chapter 2 : No More Mr Nice Guy
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Potter just smirked at me and started walking. I shuffled after him.
What is wrong with me?
Speak, Sophie. Let some words escape your mouth.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
“Well obviously something’s wrong with you.” Potter replied, giving me a weird look, with his hands over his ears.
Shit. I had thought out loud. Really loudly, too. I laughed uncomfortably. He didn’t join in.
I looked down at my shoes as we walked down a flight of stairs. I was incapable of being un-awkward. It was something I was stuck with for life. Gloomy questions rushed into my head.
What was I going to do this year? How the hell was I to make new friends with this awkwardness? Who would sit next to me in class if Dom wouldn’t? How was I going to do my Transfiguration homework without Maya to copy from? How would I tell my Dad that I wasn’t going to make the permanent Quidditch team? How come my thirteen year old brother was in a relationship, whereas I wasn’t?
Next minute, I couldn’t help it - my throat became tight and my eyes started watering.
Merlin’s bloody beard.
Do not do this now, eyes. I’m warning you
Tears slowly overflowed onto my face.
No. No. NOOOOOOOO.
Potter was sliding down the staircase rail, whistling, and I was having an emotional breakdown.
I was attempting to take deep breaths to calm myself before Potter could notice that I was crying when my foot sunk straight into the stair. I was stuck.
Have I mentioned how much I HATE the Hogwarts staircases? They are the biggest trolls ever.
Potter looked up when I gasped in shock. He shook his head exasperatedly at me.
“Can you help me … please?” I asked weakly, my eyes looking skyward, to prevent frustrated tears escaping.
Without answering, Potter leapt back up the stairs gracefully and then stopped short at seeing my face.
“Woah, you alright?” He asked in a low voice.
I hate it when people ask that when someone’s crying.
“Does it look like I’m alright?” I snapped back squeakily.
Potter looked down at his shoes awkwardly.
He must’ve thought it was my time of month or something. Hah. Poor guy. If there’s one thing I can do, I can make people feel awkward. That always made me happy for some reason. It makes me feel in control.
“Can you quit looking at your shoes and help me out for Merlin’s sake?” I yelped.
Even though he was on the step below me, he was still taller than me. I stifled a gulp as he wrapped his hands around my waist.
Kind of awkward but nice.
He lifted me out of the step easily; I thanked Merlin silently - throughout the summer I had practically eaten the contents of the pantry on a daily basis.
We walked to the Great Hall. I was sniffling; he was giving me awkward sideways looks.
The delicious aroma of the roast chicken was like opera for my nostrils. All those spices. A work of art, I tell you.
I was walking into the Great Hall in a trance-like state when Potter spun around to face me.
“I didn’t mean it, you know.” He said quietly.
“What?” I replied, confused, reluctantly refocussing my gaze from the chicken to his face.
“Look; I said there was something wrong with you. I didn't mean to make you cry or anything.”
This was the part when I should’ve said ‘Oh James, it wasn’t you at all!’ and following that I would’ve spilled all my actual problems while sobbing into his shoulder. He would tuck my hair behind my ear and wipe my tears up with his thumb; you know the drill.
But I was actually thinking something else.
What a douchebag.
How idiotic and conceited was this guy to think that I was crying just because of what he said? I got a thousand problems, Potter dearest, but you ain't one.
I snorted loudly.
“Potter, sorry to disappoint you, but it had nothing to do with you.”
Shaking my head, with one hand in the air (like I just didn’t care!), I pushed past him and headed toward the Gryffindor table.
Merlin, I was such a bad ass.
No wait, real bad asses never say that they’re bad ass.
I take my bad ass comment back.
To my dismay, Dom had not saved me a seat next to her. Friend of the year, that girl. She was talking some poor brunette’s ear off. Luckily, Ray who was seated a few spots down from Dom, was waving over at me and patting a seat next to him and Tom.
I squeezed in next to them with a ‘thanks’ and then went straight for the chicken.
Ah, chicken; succulent, seasoned chicken.
Potter stalked right past us and went to sit in the middle of his groupies. He immediately noticed the brown-haired girl sitting with Dom and by the looks of it, he did the whole ‘sup nod’ to her and introduced himself.
Not inclined to listen to Ray’s discussion with some second years about the epicness of the Gobstones Club, I found myself staring at the back of the head of this brunette girl. The foolish child was giggling at all Potter’s jokes. Pfft. What a loser.
“That’s the new girl, Amy; She’s taking Maya’s place in your dormitory. She’s really fit.” Tom confessed, gazing along at her with me.
Potter pointed out the Great Hall’s magnificently awesome ceiling, and the Amy chick looked up at it. I got to see her properly, and well, shitballs.
She was quite a stunner.
So called, “Amy” was no part-veela like Dom, but she had this elegance and innocence in her features, like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I love Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
But I was pretty sure I hated this Amy chick. She was taking Maya’s place like she owns the freaking universe. Pfft.
Dinner was soon over and Professor McGonagall got up to say some stuff. When we were dismissed, all hell broke loose.
First years were looking like little lion cubs caught in a stampede of wildebeests. Me, being the shorter, beardless, albino version of the Care of Magical Creatures Professor, Hagrid, went to save them.
“First years! Come on!” I called, beckoning the little ones toward me.
“We don’t have to do that McLaggen.” I heard Potter hiss from behind me.
“Then who’s going to do it?” I asked, confused. This was the Prefect’s job right?
“No, the fifth year prefects handle the first years.” He sighed, annoyed, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
I looked back at the substantial group of first years and then shrugged at Potter, who was vigorously face palming himself.
He turned around to face Amy, who was standing behind him.
“We can talk later then?” He asked her, sounding hopeful but not too interested at the same time. It was like the perfect balance of voice-tonage.
“Of course! I just do not know the way to the common room!” She replied chirpily, in a French-tinted accent.
She’s French. Brilliant. Bloody Brilliant, I say.
“Why don’t you just join the first years?” I suggested to her, a little coldly.
The first years were looking back and forth from Potter, Amy and I with nervous expressions.
“What I mean to say is; you’re new here as well. You should have a tour with us.” I added, in a nicer tone.
Amy smiled widely and nodded enthusiastically at me.
“You’re full of good ideas, McLaggen!” Potter grinned, ruffling my hair.
Ruffling my hair? We were not in that stage of our friendship yet, Potter. It’s the classic pat-on-the-shoulder THEN the ruffling of the hair. Jeez. Talk about taking things slow.
Actually, we weren’t even friends. We were just two people who were in the same classes and hadn’t talked to each other properly (before today) for about two and a half years. Not that I was counting.
To me, my ‘good idea’ was a failure. It was essentially me showing the first years to the Gryffindor Common room whilst Potter and Amy walked behind the group, flirting their arse cheeks off.
We got to the Fat Lady’s portrait and I stopped, looking at Potter pointedly. He was explaining to Amy about the village of Hogsmede.
“Yeah, it’s wicked; there’s a good pub called the Three Broomsticks. We should go someti–“
I cleared my throat loudly at this point.
“Potter, the password if you please?”
Potter shot me an annoyed look.
“Animus.” He answered flatly.
“In you go, dears!” the Fat lady smiled at the first years.
I stalked into the common room and basically pushed the first years up the stairs to their dormitories.
One of the first year boys paused on the staircase and looked at me cheekily.
“Want to come with me, sweet thing?”
He’s like eleven years old. He should know nothing about anything.
“In your dreams, hot stuff.” I chuckled back in a disgusted yet slightly complimented manner.
A crazy laugh exploded from across the room.
I turned around with an “I KNOW RIGHT?!” type of grin on my face, hoping I could share my astonishment with someone regarding the horny first year.
But no one was laughing with me. No one was even laughing at me. My grin faded awkwardly.
I saw miss floozy French chick practically having a seizure of laughter. Dom was sitting next to her, shaking her head exasperatedly and good ol’ humble Potter seemed to be pissing himself at his own joke.
I was slightly peeved at Dom for abandoning me after Professor Robins’ talk and also for not saving me a seat at dinner, but hey, I wasn’t eleven. I got over things.
“Want to go up, Dom?” I called out to her, inclining my head toward our dormitory’s staircase.
“I think I’ll stay for a bit, Soph.” She chimed apologetically.
“Ouch.” Potter sneered.
I rolled my eyes and continued up to the dormitory.
No one else had come up yet and I took advantage of the bathroom and decided to take a long, hot shower. Four things kept running through my head: Dom was not a good substitute best friend; French Floozy Chick was an absolute waste of a new dorm mate; I was the most unlucky and awkward witch to ever come to Hogwarts and of course; James Potter was an idiotic troll git.
Hot showers are generally supposed to make you feel better. But for me it was just a kettle where all my feelings got hotter and bubblier. I spent most of the shower furiously muttering a combination of insults, curses and Celestina Warbeck lyrics. As I walked out of the bathroom and collapsed on my blessed, beautiful four-poster bed, I sighed in dreading and agony.
It was going to be the worst year ever.
Without bothering to wait for Dom (Payback for the previous evening HAH! No more Mr Nice Sophie!), I headed down to breakfast. The only people in the Great Hall were the nerds who did early-morning extension classes. To avoid looking like an awkward loner, I propped up the Daily Prophet on the juice jug in front of me and pretended to be reading it.
After putting an incredibly hot spoon of porridge in my mouth, I was tapped on the shoulder by none other than Rose Weasley.
“Hey Sophie, do you mind if I sit with you?” she asked.
Due to the temperature of the porridge, my eyes were watering and I was flapping my hand in front of my mouth to cool my tongue. It looked like I was shooing her away. Rose obviously thought the same because she backed away worriedly saying ‘Never mind!’
Once I regained the use of my mouth I called out to her retreating back.
“Wait no, Rose come back! – I just had a really hot spoon of porridge in my mouth! Please sit with me!”
I had yelled the words ‘Please sit with me!’ quite desperately and really loudly, resulting in some judging looks from the early-extension-class nerds.
Rose smiled widley with relief and came back to sit with me.
“I just wanted to apologise for what James did to your brother on the train; sometimes he goes too far. You know he has a thing for drama.” She began, whilst buttering some toast.
“You don’t have to apologise.” I reassured her.
“Yeah, well I bet my broom that James didn’t apologise, so I thought at least someone should.”
Rose was so nice. We should have more Roses in the world. She was like the whole package – smart, friendly and really sweet. But she was kind of a loner too, but that was because the fifth year Gryffindor girls in her year were giggly idiots who trailed behind boys like superficial zombies.
We were talking about Quidditch, and how Rose wasn’t going to play keeper on the team anymore, when we were joined by Lily Potter. Then Louis & Roxanne Weasley joined our little breakfast club, followed by Hugo Weasley, and then right behind him were Molly and Lucy, the Weasley twins. About half an hour later Dom joined us, airily brushing off the fact that I left the dormitory without a word this morning.
In the middle of this big group of cousins, I felt like any minute someone would point at me shouting ‘IMPOSTER!’ and then continue to perform the Unforgivable curses on me, while the others chanted in the language of Ancient Runes. But they just continued with their loud, passionate debate on whether Cockroach Clusters were delicious or disgusting.
I personally think they are revolting.
“What the hell is this, a family reunion?” Fred greeted us all, sliding into the seat next to Dom.
“Yeah, this isn’t Christmas at the Burrow, people. Get lost – sit with your own friends.” James grunted, slapping Louis’s face softly.
The Weasley-Potter clan, who were just talking over each other in loud argumentative tones, shrugged and listened to Potter in a trice, dispersing toward their friends. It left just Rose, Dom and I sitting with Potter, Fred and Connor.
“That was mean.” I commented.
“Are you going to cry about it?” Fred asked me. James sniggered and patted him on the back.
So he told Fred about my near meltdown. Freaking wonderful.
“Yeah James,” Dom agreed with me, not picking up on Fred’s comment, “All of them just wanted some quality family time. And besides I-”
The arrival of French floozy chick distracted us from Dom’s argument. But I caught Potter’s muttered remark as I poured myself some juice.
“Not all of the family was here.” His tone implied that he was not talking about himself or Fred.
My eyes snapped immediately to the Slytherin table, where I could see Albus Potter looking over at our table curiously and a bit miserably, completely ignoring whatever Scorpius Malfoy was saying to him.
Albus was on a different table to all of his family. That must suck.
I think Potter caught me gazing sympathetically at his younger brother, but instead of making some potentially awkward eye contact with him, I turned my attention back to the Daily Prophet.
Doxy numbers increasing rapidly, reports the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
Wow, I could die of fascination. I forced myself through the article until Professor Robins started moving up the table, handing out our timetables.
“Bloody hell, there are only core subjects today.” Connor exclaims, scanning his timetable.
I looked at my own timetable, feeling pretty happy that I had been able to get into all of my NEWT classes. My timetable also included a period on Saturday morning – it was my guilty pleasure and I planned to keep it a secret this year.
“Sophie! You’re still doing choir?!” Dom exclaimed, scandalised, looking over my shoulder.
Thanks for that, Dom.
Yes. On Saturday mornings I wake up for choir. I am actually the only sixth year in choir. It’s sad, I know. But I happen to like being part of an organized company of singers, singing songs picked out for us by the 70-something year old Professor Flitwick.
I like it.
However, everyone sitting with me was looking at me like I just farted. Except French Floozy Chick.
“You must have a lovely voice.” She said to me, smiling.
Ew. Why was she so nice?
“Choir is social suicide, mate.” Fred said, shaking his head. “Social suicide.”
Everyone spent the rest of breakfast telling me how awful choir was for my street cred, until the bell rang and we all moved towards Transfiguration.
At the doors of the Great Hall I bumped into Tom, who was peeping inside every ten seconds.
“What are you doing, Tom?” I asked suspiciously.
“I’m – nothing! Just keep moving, Soph.” He hissed, sounding flustered.
“I’m not moving anywhere until you tell me.” I teased. I loved it when people got touchy.
“No mate, just go!” He said impatiently.
“I’m not going until you tell me.” I said firmly. I poked him on the shoulder repeatedly until he looked down at me in frustration and slight humiliation.
“I’m waiting for Amy, okay? I want to walk to class with her.” He whispered hurriedly, turning red.
I opened my eyes and my mouth widely to exclaim my happiness for Tom’s declaration of luuuurve, but he pushed me away with a “AH! She’s coming! I’ll talk to you later! Go! Go! GO!”.
Well. It’s nice to know my friends love me. You know, bros before hoes and all.
In Transfiguration, Tom was sitting on a table with Amy, but she kept turning around to talk to Potter and Connor, who were sitting behind her. It made my blood boil. The whole lesson was an internal battle with myself, debating whether or not to throw my sharpest quill in their direction. I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to hit Potter or Amy.
First of all, Potter could have any girl he wanted, yet he kept trailing after this silly one. And Amy, well, she should know that Potter is an idiot and that Tom is just, like, better.
Okay … I know I’m biased. Potter’s got the looks, the charm and the fame.
And if I was a new, pretty girl at Hogwarts I’d probably go for him too. It just made me feel so bad for Tom, because as much as he tried, Amy would probably always like Potter.
Potter’s a life ruiner, I tell you.
“Life ruiner.” I muttered darkly.
“Did you say something?” Dom asked, looking away from the random Ravenclaw she was eyeing.
I shook my head.
I really have to stop thinking out loud.
“Yeah, you do. It’s kind of creepy, Soph.” Dom replied.
Since the WHOLE of the Tranfig was Professor Robins having a spirited class discussion about our holidays, every class we had afterwards was a drag. As the day went on, we were lectured and lectured about our NEWTs and how we had to study hard and encourage each other.
Encourage each other. Yeah right. Just look at how much slack I got for being in choir. It’s not even that lame. Like, come on.
When I got to Potions, I was already incredibly tired – I had become incredibly unfit during the summer, and the Hogwarts staircases were like a torture weapon.
The potions classroom had changed – there were fewer tables and the ones that remained were circular. I sat on a table with Dom, and some random Ravenclaw who I think was Maya’s cousin.
She had her nose down in Advanced Potion-Making, and seemed to be doing a practice test. A practice test. In the first potions lesson of the year. She glanced up at my incredulous expression.
“Hi. I’m Meera.” She said to me, looking a little sheepish.
“I’m Sophie.” I said, trying to look as if I wasn’t judging the biggest nerd at Hogwarts.
The door of the dungeon banged open again and in strode Professor Slughorn, the oldest Professor at Hogwarts. He was still as fat as he was when I was in first year, and his jolly face didn’t seem to have aged a bit. He was just slower. He took about 17 seconds (I timed it) just to walk to the front of the room and when he did; he gave a little wink to Potter and a twinkling wave to Dom.
Dom and Potter are his favourites in the Slug Club. As hard as it is to believe, I’m in the Slug Club too. I’m not outspoken or funny or smart or charming or whatever. I’m just a little wallflower who comes for the killer profiteroles.
As we all took out our textbooks to start our making our Draughts of Peace , Slughorn walked around, asking about people’s holidays and the wellbeing of their relatives. He stopped when he looked at our table.
“Ah, is this the girls club is it?” He asked, smiling looking around at Dom, Amy, Meera and I.
“Yes Professor, I’m afraid you can’t join!” Dom replied.
“I think one of you needs to swap with one of the boys on the ‘boys table’ I don’t like this segregation.” He chuckled, gesturing to Potter’s table which sat Potter, Connor, Fred and Tom.
Slughorn is a weird man.
Potter was eyeing something next to me, which I realised was Amy. He seemed to brighten at Slughorn’s suggestion.
“I’ll swap.” He suggested casually.
“No, I’ll swap. You can sit with your mates.” Tom said to Potter, smiling innocently.
“Nah, its fine mate. I’ll swap.”
“Seriously. I’ll swap.”
“Mr Potter, Mr –er Finnegan, pipe down! Someone has to agree to swap with you first!” Slughorn chortled, moving on to the Ravenclaw table.
“Sophie! You’ll swap, right?” Tom said casually, but his eyes were practically pleading.
WHAT? These two guys were crazy. All this just for Amy? They were fighting over my bloody spot next to her.
How rude and utterly demeaning.
Just kidding. It made me feel empowered, deep in my soul.
“Fine.” I sighed dramatically, rolling my eyes. I shot an apologetic look at Dom, who was looking at me with a dejected expression.
“I’ll swap with you, McLaggen.” Potter offered, giving me a winning smile. Merlin, it was gorgeous. His brown eyes crinkled up a bit and his pearly white smile just brought attention to his perfect jaw line. I could practically feel the answer that was going to absentmindedly come out of my mouth–
“Sophie?” Tom asked slowly.
My eyes slipped off Potter, to Tom. Tom, who has incredibly bad luck with girls but is really nice and deserves a chance with Amy. Tom, my friend.
“Sure I’ll swap with you, Tom.”
He is face lit up but he kept his reply pretty laid back.
“You know Slughorn was just joking about the swapping.” Dom laughed exasperatedly, as Tom and I swapped seats.
Tom reddened but shrugged. I did the same, and fell into my seat next to Potter with a sigh.
“You’re really annoying, you know that?” Potter muttered to me with a side glance.
“Shut up. I’m trying to do some serious work here.” I replied back huffily. I continued to sign my own name again and again in the cover of my potion’s book.
Connor looked up from whatever he was chopping, glanced at my book and chuckled. His respect for me had increased. I could see it in his eyes.
A few minutes later, I was bored out of my mind. Potions didn’t require a lot of my concentration and usually I would just listen to Dom gossip away. However, on Potter’s table, the discussion topic was Quidditch.
It felt like I was sitting at the dinner table with my Dad and Charlie. I like Quidditch, I really do. But I hear about the bloody sport ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
I knew it would be rude if I told them to shut their annoying mouths. So I decided to eavesdrop on Tom’s conversation with Amy.
“So, you lived in France?” Tom asked politely
“Well, I lived in London until I was 3, and then we moved to France for my Dad’s work.” Amy replied with a smile, while dropping some leaves into her cauldron.
“That’s cool.” Tom commented.
There was an awkward silence.
Tom tried again.
“Did you, er, like Beaubatons?” He asked woodenly.
“Yes, the campus was very beautiful – We had ice sculptures and stain glass windows and nymphs that sung when we ate.”
There was another tense pause.
“But, I mean, Hogwarts is a good school too.” Amy continued lamely.
“Yeah. Yeah, it is.” Tom agreed.
I couldn’t bear to listen to any more of their conversation. It was too painful. As an awkward person, seeing other people being awkward usually soothes me and gives me hope. Not this time, though. Poor Tom.
A chuckle from Potter brought my table-fellows back to my attention.
“Something funny?” I ask him.
“Finnegan’s making a right fool of himself, McLaggen. Nice going.” Potter smirked.
“Not all of us find the need to flirt shamelessly.” I replied back hotly, filled with second-hand embarrassment for Tom.
I looked up at my cauldron to find Fred giving me a weird look.
“What?” I snapped.
“Firstly, flirting shamelessly is kind of like, my life.” Fred said solemnly, “And secondly, since when did you become all angry and stroppy?”
“Excuse me?” I ask, eyebrows raised.
“No offence, McLaggen, but I was not aware that you had a personality til, like yesterday.” Fred replied simply.
“So for the past five years you thought I was some random, brain-dead, boring nobody?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Well, that’s nice.” I said blandly, pouring some of my potion into a test tube.
I went to put my potion on Slughorn’s desk and let myself have a moment to digest the insult I was just given.
Well, on the bright side, at least people think I have a personality now. There’s nothing I can do about how boring and awkward I’d been in the past. I wasn’t really insulted.
I walked back to the table to find Connor and Fred looking at my face with slightly worried expressions. They were obviously looking at me to see if I was upset. Even Potter’s eyes flicked up at me nervously for a second.
I thought about giving the boys a reassuring smile, but I felt they didn’t deserve it.
Not because James and Fred were mean, judgemental arseholes, but because of what they did this morning.
No one makes fun of choir without facing the consequences.
The bell rang, and I grabbed my bag and strode out of the dungeon.
A/N: I apologise for the hideous amount of time between updates. It’s actually despicable of me. But anyway, how was it guys? Do you like the characters? Was Sophie too awkward?
Your reviews make me smile!
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