Chapter 1 : I Can't Date A Hufflepuff
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“Sorry I’m late,” said Professor Longbottom, “There was a bit of an incident in Greenhouse 2. Blasted second years, don’t know a mandrake from a bowtruckle,” he ran his soil covered fingers through his greying hair and sat behind his desk, a certain heaviness about him.
Damien rolled his eyes as Longbottom looked through his papers while scratching his five-o-clock shadow, the sound piercing the student’s ears.
“Why am I here?” Damien asked tiredly.
Longbottom looked up at him calmly, “You’re here because I’ve noticed you’ve been picking on muggleborns again,” he ignored Damien’s feigned innocence, “Now, I know I’m not your head of house, but seeing as she isn’t doing anything about this, it seems I have to.”
“Come on, Professor,” reasoned Damien, leaning forward in his seat, “It’s just a bit of fun. Nobody got hurt.”
“I have students in the Hospital Wing that beg to differ,” Longbottom arched an eyebrow and Damien slumped back into his chair in defeat, “I know it’s no use giving you detention, so I have come up with a new punishment for you.”
Longbottom chose to ignore Damien’s groans as he continued to search through his desk. Manual labour had never bothered the young Slytherin, but this new uncertainty frightened him.
“I’m perfectly fine cleaning the trophies by hand, can’t I just do that?”
“No, Mr. Knight,” he suppressed a smile, “I have something better for you. You are going to be tutoring students that need help in Herbology.”
“What?” whined Damien, “Why?”
“Don’t act surprised. You’ve been receiving top marks since first year. Did you really think that would go unnoticed?”
Damien sighed, “I guess not.”
Finally finding what he was searching for, Longbottom grabbed a piece of parchment from under another pot, “Here,” he said, handing it to Damien, “This is a list of your students. I’ve arranged for you to meet them in the old Potions classroom on the third floor. Please be punctual.”
Damien snatched the list and trudged his way out of the office, nearly slamming the door behind him. What he said next made his professor bark with laughter, “Thirty five people?!”
Being a tutor proved to be terribly boring, Damien soon decided. It turned out that being a Slytherin was a deal breaking trait in a tutor for most struggling students. Out of the thirty four students that had walked through the door, only five had stayed, all from his house. He was beginning to wish he had brought some homework with him when the last appointment walked through the door.
Maria Clarke sat beside him and greeted him warmly, opening her textbook. She was a Hufflepuff; he was shocked.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
She looked at him strangely, “Aren’t you the Herbology tutor?” he nodded slowly, “Then what’s wrong?”
“I’m a Slytherin,” he paused, expecting her to run out of the classroom. When she didn’t, he asked, “Don’t you want to leave?”
Maria smiled, “That would be a silly reason to pass up some extra help in Herbology, don’t you reckon?” she looked back to her textbook and pointed at a paragraph, “Now, this is something I don’t understand. How can Devil’s Snare live in complete darkness?”
He was apprehensive, but decided to help her nevertheless. It couldn’t hurt.
“Well,” he said, flipping through the book to find the answer, “It has adapted to live only off of moisture. It doesn’t photosynthesize, so it doesn’t need any kind of sunlight,” and, after finally finding the page he was looking for, “Here it is, this should tell you more about it.”
Their meetings continued like this. She would come in with all of her assignments unfinished and he would help her find the answers in the book. She was easy to talk to, and made him feel at ease every time they spoke.
Damien’s punishment had been over for weeks, yet he continued to meet with Maria in the same classroom every night before dinner. He didn’t tell her about how he looked forward to their meetings, or about the skip in his step when he was on his way to see her. He never mentioned his fleeting glances at her during Potions, nor did he express his impatience when the clocks seemed to slow as their time together approached. She was also unaware of the fact that he was now seeing her of his own accord.
Maria’s laughter bounced off the stone walls, reminding Damien of sunshine and hot summer days. He could get lost in her dark hair, caressing her smooth olive toned skin.
Her piercing green eyes brought him back to reality, and she giggled out, “There is no way Mimbulus Mimbletonia is a real plant.”
“Wow, you really are useless at this,” he teased, finding a picture of it in her worn textbook.
“What?” she gasped and slammed her head face down against the book, her face hidden by her curtain of hair. Her voice was muffled, “How did I even get this far in Herbology?”
“I’ve been asking myself the same question.”
Maria turned her head in his direction, giving him a small smile. He smiled back, clearing his throat when he realized what he was doing.
What is wrong with me? She’s a Hufflepuff, for crying out loud! I can’t date a Hufflepuff, I’d be a laughing stock! Not to mention my parents…
“Did you have --,” Damien’s voice cracked and he cleared his throat a second time. She was kind enough to ignore it, the same smile lingering on her lips, “Did you have anymore questions?”
She sat up, a glint of mischief in her sparkling eyes.
“Well,” she said slowly, debating it in her mind, “It’s not exactly a question.”
“No?” Damien was afraid his voice would crack again, but he spoke anyway, “What is it then?”
She smirked, “It’s more of a proposal.”
He raised his eyebrows in response.
Instead of speaking, she met his lips with her own. It was with such force that she nearly pushed him out of his chair. He tensed up, grabbing onto her arm for balance.
Pull away. Pull away!
But he didn’t. His hand relaxed and he moved it to her neck, using it to pull her closer. His heart beat quickened and his breath was short.
What was happening?
Maria pulled away, smiling with her reddened lips. Of the many things Damien had thought her to be, shy was never one of them.
Had she taken the opportunity to hit him with a stunning spell? Because at this moment he felt completely unable to move, staring at her in awe.
After that first kiss, their meetings were held in broom closets, in hidden passageways, under stairways. Damien couldn’t explain what he felt when he saw her, but there were moments when he was certain he was going into cardiac arrest.
After a particularly passionate embrace in their favorite broom closet, he pulled away, uncertain.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, placing her hand on his hot cheek.
“I hate hiding,” he felt stupid. They were hiding because of him. Because he didn’t want to tell anyone. He was the one -dare he think it? -that was ashamed of her.
She was a pureblood, at least, but in the eyes of his family, being in Hufflepuff was nearly as bad as being muggleborn. His entire family was made up of Slytherins. They had supported Voldemort during the war and, though his cause had died with him, they still held the same core beliefs. Always marry pureblood. Always marry Slytherin. Muggleborns are scum. Everyone is less than us. Damien knew his mother to be picky when it came to girls he could date, and was certain the revelation of Maria’s house would be enough to give his mother heart palpitations.
He had always known Hufflepuff to be the lesser house. Somewhere to put the oddballs, the ones that didn’t quite belong. How could he bring someone like that home? How could he hold her hand in the halls? He would be exiled from his own house, left to sleep in an abandoned classroom.
“We don’t have to hide if you don’t want to,” were her kind words in response. Upon seeing the pain in his eyes, she added, “But I understand why you need to.”
He didn’t know what to say, so he kissed her again, losing himself in her tender lips.
Maria’s heart ached for his, but she used her thin fingers to tangle all thoughts of pain in his dirty blond hair, losing all coherent logic in the process.
It was a stormy day, and the enchanted ceiling reflected the dark clouds and torrential downpour that beat against the castle’s exterior. Damien sat at the Slytherin table, sneaking glances at Maria across the Great Hall. Lately, he couldn’t get her off his mind. Not that he wanted to, no, not at all. But it seemed that he could never quite focus on anything else. His grades were slipping and his friends were slowly drifting from him. All of this he knew, yet he didn’t care at all.
Until he heard his name in conversation.
“What is wrong with Damien?” asked Armand Watts.
“He’s been so quiet lately,” said Marcus Miller.
“And he hasn’t been cursing any mudbloods,” added Nolan Grant.
“Hasn’t had one detention in the last two months,” said Marcus.
“In the six years I’ve known him never have I seen him so… mellow,” said Armand.
“He’s so boring now,” said Nolan.
“Right? He’s become so lame,” agreed Marcus.
As their words carried on Damien willed himself to stop listening. Was this really the person he’d become? A weak Hufflepuff-lover? A boring mudblood-kisser? How had he let it get this far?
He knew what he had to do, and at the thought of it, his heart shattered.
“Is this really what you want, Damien?” Maria asked quietly from the other end of the classroom. Damien had forced himself to be as far away from her as possible. He couldn’t let her change his mind.
This was for the best.
He knew he had to lie to her. Tell her that yes, this was what he wanted, more than anything. He wanted to be rid of her, to forget all thoughts of her.
“Yes,” he responded coldly. His stance was stiff, but he leaned against the cold wall. His jaw was clenched, hands balled into fist in his pockets. Yet he failed to hide the pain in his eyes.
Maria sighed, giving him a sad smile, “Well, if it’s what you want.”
She made her way over to Damien, terrifying him of what he might do if she came near him. He wanted to pull her close, kiss her in a rough embrace. To bury his head in her hair and inhale the scent of her shampoo. To hold her by the waist, caressing the dimples in her back. But he didn’t. When her warm lips met his cold cheek, he did none of these things. Instead he remained completely motionless, staring at the chalkboard at the other end of the room.
“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” she said, giving him one last look. She slowly left the room with a heavy heart, head bowed.
Damien couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. He had stopped caring about his grades, about how he looked. Some days, he didn’t even shower. Nothing mattered. Not without Maria.
His friends had noticed his change in demeanor, but said nothing. They weren’t the type to pry, and for that he was thankful. This was definitely something he wouldn’t be comfortable sharing with them, or anyone, really.
With his new free time, he found himself tagging along when they ran around the castle wreaking havoc. They seemed to be in the midst of a prank war with their Gryffindor counterparts, but Damien couldn’t be bothered to participate. A few months prior, he would have been running the entire battle plan, but now the thoughts of planning a practical joke couldn’t be further from his mind. He tended to simply follow them around, ducking behind statues when duels ensued and running around the nearest corner whenever a professor was in sight.
Lost in his thoughts, he followed his friends around, thinking of anything but her name.
Ma...Mathilda Bagshot. Wait, Bathilda Bagshot. Yes, let’s think of A History of Magic. I wonder where the stunning spell originated…
“Oi, Damien!” called Nolan, “Look who it is!” his friends had encircled a group of students, most of them first years.
“Ha! Stupid little Hufflepuffs,” sneered Marcus.
Armand didn’t hesitate.
“Petrificus Totalus!” he cried, hitting one of the smaller students.
The Slytherins laughed while Damien directed his empty stare at the group. The first years shrieked, but one voice stood out.
“What is your problem? Just leave them alone, they aren’t doing you any harm!”
It was Maria. She quickly undid the curse, glaring at the three boys.
At the sound of her voice, Damien perked up. He stood a bit straighter, tidying up his robes.
“Well, well, well. Look who’s come to join the party,” said Marcus, walking closer to her.
“Oh, shove off,” said Maria, pushing her way through the human wall they had built around her, “Let’s go, guys. The library is this way.”
Had she noticed Damien standing there? He couldn’t help but wonder. He felt his pulse quicken and took deep breaths to calm himself. He hadn’t seen her since he had ended it.
The Slytherins weren’t pleased with her response.
“What’s this Nufflepuff doing? Learn to talk to your superiors!” Nolan was getting angry. Armand and Marcus seemed to agree, but paused to look at him strangely.
“Oh, you know,” Nolan blushed, “Like Nothing-Puff? Oh, forget it, just curse her.”
Damien’s eyes widened in anger.
“Get away from her!” he bellowed. Everyone stopped to stare at him.
“Damien? What’s gotten into you?” asked Armand.
“Gone soft?” said Marcus. The three laughed at the thought of it, but Damien was having none of it.
“Sod off,” he said through clenched teeth. The first years took their opportunity to escape, but Maria stayed. Damien couldn’t look at her.
“Why do you care what happens to her?” asked Marcus.
“Yeah, why do you care what happens to this Muggle-Puff?” seconded Nolan.
Armand turned to him, “That one was better.”
Nolan grinned, “I thought so.”
“Oh, shush!” said Marcus, “Damien has yet to answer our question.”
They all turned to look at Damien expectantly.
“Because Maria,” Damien, still looking anywhere but at her, pulled her to his side, “Just so happens to be my girlfriend.”
Maria smiled while Damien’s housemates roared with laughter.
“That’s a good one,” said Armand, “Now let her go so I can send her to the Hospital Wing.”
Damien was fuming. He stepped forward, leaving only inches of space between Armand and himself.
“If your wand so much as twitches in her direction, I will rip you limb from limb.”
Armand raised his eyebrows, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, mate,” he said, leading his friends away, “But hopefully you figure it out, because that is not natural.”
They turned the corner, shaking their heads.
Damien forced himself to look at Maria. He couldn’t read her face.
Here comes another round of cardiac arrest.
“Maria…” he breathed. She stared at him, and soon the words came falling out of his mouth like books flying off a shelf, “I’m the biggest fool on the planet. I need you. I’ve been useless without you. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I’ve failed every exam that’s been handed to me. I can’t think without you. I know I hurt you, and I know you’ll never be able to trust me again. You told me you hope I find what I’m looking for, but it’s been in front of me this whole time. It’s you I’m looking for. Always, it will be you. Is there anyway you could give us another shot?”
Maria grinned, “Of course, you fool. How could I say no to you?”
Damien’s mouth fell open.
“Really?” he asked.
She laughed, “Yes, really, now kiss me, you buffoon.”
Damien wrapped his arms around her, pulling her as close as possible. This time, he wouldn’t let her go.
She pulled away, smiling, when an idea popped into his mind.
“Maria?” he said, pulling out his wand.
“Yes?” she said, suppressing a giggle.
“Will you,” he flicked his wand, “Be my girlfriend?” upon looking at the daisies at the end of his wand, he frowned, “Hang on, those are supposed to be roses,” he went to flick his wand again, but Maria placed his hand on his. He looked up at her.
“Really?” he said a second time.
“Yes,” she said, pulling him into another kiss.
He parted their lips for a moment to ask, “So does that mean you’ll date me?”
She laughed again, “Well, duh!”
author’s note: hello there, lovelies! i know this is different from my novel beneath, but i had a blast writing it for the hufflepuff writing duo! it’s a companion piece to mrsjaydemalfoy’s I Hope She’s In Hufflepuff. you should definitely go give it a read, because it is expertly written. it shows their relationship after hogwarts and is amazingly adorable! let me know what you think in the reviews, i’m curious to know how this fluff piece turned out!
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