Chapter 2 : ii.
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Hazel was used to the glittering tosh and posh of politically-charged parties, but that didn’t mean she liked them that much. If given the choice, she would much rather avoid the nonsense, but her mother was somewhat important, and if she didn’t go it would considered a “great and terrible disgrace to the family name,” and besides, “didn’t she want to show support for her mother’s bid at Minister of Magic?”
If Hazel was being honest, and she generally was with herself, she did not think her mother would make a good Minister of Magic, and so she was more than a little reluctant to show support for her mother’s bid, family ties or not. The previous minister, Kinglsey Shacklebolt, was rumored to be stepping down at any time, due to some familial issues – or so she’d heard. Something to do with his wife and raising their children in such a glaring spotlight. Hazel would hate that. It was why she refused to allow her mother to set her up on dates. She knew exactly who they would be with – any and every eligible, similarly politically aligned young bachelors. There were more of them than one might have thought. And she would rather cut off a toe than be roped into a marriage with one of those clod-heads.
She needed someone who, first, wasn’t politically aligned with her mother and second, had passion for something. Anything, really, as long as it wasn’t for politics. Unbidden, the image of Seamus Finnigan appeared in the forefront of her mind. She shoved it aside but it kept coming back, like an annoying bug. And the other day she had certainly wanted to squash him like a bug. He’d been terribly rude and inconsiderate. He hadn’t even tried to see her side of the situation. It wasn’t her bloody fault that the bloody fireworks she’d bought, incidentally for the same charity ball she was currently attending, had wound up wet. She’d had nothing to do with it – and had a sinking suspicion her younger brother had. Either way, it wasn’t her fault and she deserved new fireworks, Seamus Finnigan and his “policies” be damned.
Unfortunately, it did not look as though she would ever be reimbursed and her mother would not get the fireworks she’d hoped for because instead of just shoving her pride back down her throat and buying new fireworks, Hazel had stomped out of Weasley’s Wizard Wheazes in a fashion similar to her five year old niece. She still hadn’t told her mother about that unexpected change in plans. Hazel figured she would realize eventually, when no fireworks ever went off. Of course, that would surely lead to being dragged off into some corner and furious whispering masked to look like a friendly conversation. Her mother was nothing if not predictable thanks to the politics she lived and breathed.
Hazel sighed and saw her mother casually heading in her direction. She decided to make the unwise decision and adjourn to the refreshments table. She wouldn’t be able to put off the conversation forever, but she would certainly postpone it for as long as possible. Besides that, she was thirsty and a flute of butterbeer was calling her name. They also had champagne, of course, and the butterbeer was really only for the underage among them, but Hazel had never really liked the taste, or affects, of alcohol. Looking like an underage witch was the sacrifice she would make, and gladly. She didn’t like to remember what had happened the last time she’d consumed too much champagne. It had been a wedding, which made the situation all that much worse.
She hugged one arm across her chest and sipped her drink slowly as she watched the whirling couples on the dance floor. It was making her dizzy just watching them. Hazel had never been a dancer. She’d hated going to the Yule Ball her sixth year, she was all left feet and her date had abandoned her for someone from Beauxbatons who was, presumably, as light as a fairy after Hazel had stepped on his foot one too many times. Since then, she’d avoided dancing, and parties where dancing would occur, in general. It seemed safer for all parties involved, and a significant amount less mortifying for her.
Hazel heard a cough, one too loud and pointed to be real, from behind her and turned to see the culprit. She blanched when she saw him. Seamus Finnigan, looking terribly unfortunate in ratty, old-looking dress robes. If her mother saw him she would have a fit and quite possibly demand to see his invitation. Speaking of, Hazel did not remember seeing his name on the guest list.
“You!” She had been planning on saying something terribly intelligent and witty, but then that came out and she found herself jabbing an indignant finger at the only slightly taller than her man. Hazel hadn’t noticed it before, but now, compared to all the above average height men in the room, Seamus was rather short. For a man, at least. But that was beside the point. The point was, why was he there in the first place?
He arched an eyebrow, expression neutral as he lifted his flute of champagne to this mouth and took a sip. When he was done he set the flute down on the table and folded his arms across his chest. “Yes, me. What’s it to ya?”
Hazel crinkled her nose. His accent grated on her, not in an unpleasant way… but she wasn’t exactly sure what to think of it. She wasn’t used to it, that was all, she told herself. “What are you doing here? You are not on the guest list,” she said, folding her arms to mimic his.
Seamus rolled his eyes. “Because I don’t have to be.”
It was Hazel’s turn to arch a brow. “Oh really? And who said that?”
“That would have been me. So sorry to cause you trouble Ms. McDonald, I really didn’t mean to.” A hand clamped down on Hazel’s shoulder as she took in the familiar voice of Harry Potter. The party was in his honor, sort of. Her mother was using him as an excuse to throw a party for herself and he’d been a good sport about the whole thing, which she appreciated.
“I, oh, I am so sorry, Mr. Potter,” she gushed, fairly certain she was blushing beet red. She should have known, Seamus and Harry must have been friends when they were at Hogwarts together. They had both been in Gryffindor, she did remember that much, even though she was a few years older.
Harry grimaced and shook his head. “Harry, please. And if you don’t mind, I’ll call you Hazel. Mr. Potter makes me feel old, I don’t think I deserve that title quite yet.” He chuckled and patted her on the shoulder. Instead of making her feel better, as she was sure the gesture was meant to, Hazel felt a little sick. She could only hope her mother hadn’t seen the exchange.
“Well, alright, if you insist Mr. P—Harry,” she finished and tried to smile. From the look on Seamus’s face, it was more probable that it came out looking like a fairly frightening grimace.
“Great! Now I hope it really isn’t too much trouble that I dragged an old friend along to this, is it?” he smiled and Hazel only had the energy to shake her head and hope her mother wouldn’t find out.
“No, of course not. Mr. Finnigan is more than welcome,” she said even though she didn’t mean a word of it. Seamus smiled cheekily at her from across the table and she wanted to collapse in a heap of dress robes and Hazel on the floor. This was why she wasn’t an event planner – she couldn’t handle the stress of responsibility.
With a nod to both of them, Harry walked off, presumably to join his girlfriend, Ginny Weasley, leaving Hazel alone with Seamus once again. He still had the smug look on his face and she frowned. “Oh come off it, how was I supposed to know?”
Seamus shrugged. “You wouldn’t, but I guess that just means ya should be nicer to people.”
She frowned. “I’m a very nice person.” He’d picked up the flute again, but ended up snorting into it, causing champagne to go everywhere. Hazel was only a little ashamed to admit that she enjoyed the look of discomfort on his face from some of it going up his nose. He deserved it. She was a nice person. He’d just always been around for the bad parts, which wasn’t her fault. “Well if you would have given me the bloody fireworks, I’m sure you would have seen exactly how nice of a person I can be,” she lowered her voice to say as she leaned across the table.
Seamus mimicked the gesture until their faces were inches away. Hazel hadn’t realized his eyes were blue before. She loved blue eyes. And his were very, very blue. There was a sparkle in them though that she didn’t trust, and was almost positive it meant nothing good for her. “Oh? And what do ya mean by that? Maybe I should have given you the fireworks after all.” His voice insinuated a lot more than she had meant and Hazel shot backwards.
“Of all the—!” She glared at him for a good ten seconds before whirling around and stomping through dancing couples to the other side of the ballroom. How dare he insinuate she, well, she didn’t even want to think about what he’d actually been insinuating. The smug bastard.
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