Chapter 6 : Not The 'Cute' One
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My eyes flew open and I reached for my wand. The lack thereof and my strange surroundings almost had me in a panic until I remembered the events of the previous night. But then what was that sound? Were Death Eaters attacking the Weasley house? Ouch! With sunlight? Someone had thrown open the curtains.
I rolled over just enough to see the door, which had been thrown wide open. Harry was upright in his bed with two people apparently tending to him. As there was no apparent danger, I fell back onto my pillow unnoticed and tried to forget where I was once again. It wasn't as simple as all that now that I was awake and there were loud voices in the next bed.
"Guys, hush. There are other people sleeping in here," Harry groaned sounding sleepy himself.
"Mrs. Weasley mentioned Piper Stone was here." That would be Hermione Granger's voice.
"Which Stone is she?" Ron Weasley's voice. "Is she the cute one?"
I blinked under my blanket, now wide awake. The cute one? Well, obviously he meant Morgan; they always did. Despite that knowledge, a bit of a blush crept over my face.
I have, of course, already admitted to having had a crush on one boy at school prior to beginning a relationship with Terry. Well, that boy happened to be one Ronald Weasley. His bravery, his cleverness, his red hair... I sort of have a thing for gingers. The idea that he might think of me as 'cute' was nothing less than thrilling. But, you know... Not too thrilling. I was spoken for, after all.
"They are identical, Ron. You should know what that word means- you have twin brothers," Hermione growled. I could practically hear her eyes rolling. I wondered when those two were going to finally ask one another out. The entire school was practically on the edge of their seats in anticipation.
"I know what it means!" he said defensively. "I just mean that one is a little more..."
There was only a slight pause before, "Ronald, you're despicable!" followed by a solid THWUMP!
"What?" he laughed.
"You know she's only three feet away, right?" Harry inquired. "Oh, hang on, what time is it? Don't tell me I've missed breakfast!"
"No, Mum's making up a tray for you," Ron assured him.
"What are you-? Leave her alone!" Hermione scolded.
Suddenly the mattress began to bouce and me along with it. There was no peace in this house! And I was stuck here for God knows how long! I tossed the bedclothes from me as violently as I could manage and sat up to face the youngest Weasley son bouncing on my borrowed bed.
"I am awake you ass! And no, I'm not the 'cute' one with the bloody huge boobs, but at least I can make mine bigger if I get bored!"
There were mixed expressions on his face as if he couldn't figure out if he was amused, terrified, or impressed. The mere look infuriated me all the more. I snarled in wordless outrage and tossed my pillow in his face before storming out of the room without so much as a 'how do you do' to the other occupants.
Halfway down the stairs I blew passed Ginny, the youngest Weasley. She grumbled a polite 'hello' which I grudgingly returned, apparently neither of us in very good moods today. Somehow that was all we needed to form a bond slightly stronger than being classmates and mutual friends of Luna. Anger is funny that way.
At the bottom of the stairs, I very nearly collided with an ethereal being who looked strangely familiar. Rather than anger me further, the encounter actually knocked me down a peg. I found myself incredibly embarrassed at having been so self absorbed that I almost ran her over. With a tray of food no less!
"I'm so sorry!" I sputtered, my hands thrown out before me on instinct in case she needed steadying.
The silver haired woman seemed mildly irritated. "Eet is fine," she said stiffly. "If you would please excuse me." She side stepped me with a grace I knew I had seen before and disappeared up the stairs.
"Fleur!" came Mrs. Weasley's voice from around the corner. "You should have waited, I have more food to-!" She gave up when she saw me and motioned for me to follow her. "Oh well. At least you can eat now that you're here. Blasted girl ran away with that tray as soon as I set Harry's food on it, nevermind that there were two hungry, sleepy guests!"
Fleur Delacour! Of course, that's why I recognized her! Why was she here? I followed Mrs. Weasley into the kitchen where she once again sat me down at the rough wooden table and placed a plate heavily laden with food and a fork before me. Without another word -she seemed a bit worked up- she also disappeared around the corner and up the stairs. Having Harry Potter for the summer must have been like some sort of amazing event. I could just imagine them all crowded into that tiny room...
Suddenly the willowy young woman reappeared and began to busy herself about the kitchen. Now, when I say busy herself, I don't mean to say that she was actually doing anything such as cleaning or cooking or anything useful one might do to keep busy in a kitchen. She was more or less flittering from here to there examining this and that with disapproving looks. Now and then, she would pick something up and move it in some way, whether it be straightening it to her liking or putting it some place completely different.
Somehow this brought my frustration back. It wasn't her kitchen! As politely as I could, I cleared my throat. "Good morning," I said briskly. "Sorry about earlier. I'm Piper Stone."
She spared me a glance. "Nice to meet you," she replied. "I am-"
"Fleur Delacour," I finished for her. "One of the Triwizard Champions, I remember."
"Oh! You are a 'Ogwarts student like 'Arry?" she said, sounding a bit more pleasant. She stopped her scrutiny of the Weasley kitchen
I nodded. Of course, what else would I be? "I was a Third Year during the tournament. I thought you were brilliant against your dragon." And that wasn't a lie, thank you very much.
"Oh, you are too kind. Ze First Task, though frightening, seemed ze easiest to me. I was no champion."
Mrs. Weasley appeared again and became actually busy in the kitchen. For whatever reason, her care-worn appearance made me feel rotten for the way I had spoken to Ron, as if my actions may impact the strain she was already under. They probably did- I was an unnecessary burden, after all.
"Mrs. Weasley, I feel I owe your family an apology for my behavior," I said slowly.
She cast me a bewildered look. "Whatever for, dear?"
"I... Am not dealing with this whole situation very well and I don't want you to think I'm spitting at your hospitality or anything because I am very grateful and I know you didn't need this either and with how I was last night and then Dumbledore dumping me on you and then- oh, God-" I buried my face in my hands "I yelled right in Ron's face as soon as I woke up this morning-"
"It's afternoon, dear," she put in.
"-and I don't want to be rotten, I'm so sorry."
She laid a hand on my shoulder and gave it a squeeze. I looked up into her kind face. She smiled. "Dear, do you know how many times a day he says something and Hermione has a row with him? Whatever it was, I'm sure he deserved every word. I love my son, bless him, but don't think I don't understand the fragile state you slept in last night. Or how obtuse Ronald can be. Now eat up, while it's warm."
I looked at my plate and it blurred before my eyes. Mum might say something like that, I think.
Mrs. Weasley returned to what she was doing, but after a few moments of searching, she asked, "Where did those shakers go?"
"I put zem on ze shelf over zere," Fleur said absently. "Your kitchen is so disorganized, I thought you could use a 'elping 'and."
Mrs. Weasley was silent for a long moment. Finally she muttered something that sounded like, "How thoughtful," before disappearing up the stairs again. I stared after her, my red rimmed eyes no longer stinging. She had much more control than I think I would if someone tried to rearrange my kitchen. She returned once more moments later with Ginny in tow.
"Now, go slice up the tomatoes for sandwiches," Mrs. Weasley instructed.
"Mum, you could have done that with-"
Ouch. The full first name. The warning tone.
"Yes, Mum," the youngest Weasley grumbled.
"Molly, I could 'ave easily 'elped you with lunch!" Fleur protested.
"Oh, that's fine, dear. You are a guest! Go keep yourself amused."
And that was apparently the end of that. Ginny settled herself at the table with a small cutting board, a knife, and at least half a dozen tomatoes. Mrs. Weasley was flicking her wand this way and that. Fleur left the room with a haughty flip of her long hair. Suddenly I would give anything for an awkward breakfast with my estranged brother than to be in this house.
"Heard from Luna at all?" Ginny asked conversationally.
I nodded, pushing my food around. "Not directly, but she's been travelling. She sent my birthday presents with Terry. They seem to be having a good summer." Was that only four days ago?
"Terry Boot? I forgot you two were friends with him. He came all the way out for your birthday?"
I got the distinct impression that she was fishing for information. Despite myself, a flush rose to my cheeks. "Yes, he did. A surprise he cooked up with Morgan, apparently."
"A surprise, eh?" she said dismissively. "Sounds fun. Was it a good one?"
"What?" I glanced up, now certain my face was bright red. "Ahem! Was- was- what a good one?"
Her eyes flicked to my face briefly before going back to the knife. "The surprise. Was it a good surprise?"
"Oh, well... Um, yes, I suppose it was." I shifted my gaze back to my food. I was not hungry, I realized, but I shovelled a fork full of scrambled eggs into my mouth anyway. Something to do.
"What was the surprise?" she asked. Her hands continued to carefully slice.
I swallowed hard. "I'm sorry?"
"Should I just automatically repeat every question?"
I shrugged. "I just don't understand what you're asking." My verbal parry was not at it's best today. She glanced at me again and grinned slyly. "You know? How do you know?"
"Because I actually pay attention to the Hogwarts rumor mill and a lot of people saw you two on the last day of term," she said matter-of-factly. Placing the knife on the cutting board, she folded her hands and leaned closer. "So what was the surprise? Him being there couldn't have been the whole thing- that's boring!"
"Well..." Her excitement for details of my love life almost made me giggly and girly. I couldn't help but grin. "Morgan made me close my eyes and he appeared and kissed me. In front of every stupid Muggle in our neighborhood." I laughed at the ridiculousness.
"How romantic!" she crooned, returning to her work after a warning glance from Mrs. Weasley. "I heard he's wanted to ask you out for ages. Personally, I didn't think you'd say yes."
"How'd you hear?" I demanded. "And why not?"
"Michael Corner and I dated last year. He and Terry are friends." She shrugged. "He mentioned it to me. And as for the other part, Luna mentioned once that your eyes get all dreamy and glazed over like you've been infested by a swarm of Wrackspurts whenever a certain brother of mine ever happened to glance your way." She gave me one of those knowing looks when someone only half looks up at you and their eyebrows seem impossibly raised.
I wasn't sure how to respond to any part of that statement. "Well, then I guess it's a good thing Luna sent me a pair of Spectrespecs for my birthday so that I can see the Wrackspurts before they invade. Ron must be a carrier, poor thing." And then I forced another bite of food into my mouth. "This is really good, Mrs. Weasley!"
"You're kind, dear. Eat up, you look too thin!" came the reply.
Good woman, Mrs. Weasley. I appreciated her pretending not to hear a word. Ginny shook her head, trying not to laugh as she said quietly, "I never said it was Ron."
It was at that moment that a thundering noise came from the stairway, cutting off the lack of cover-up stuck in my throat. Hermione came around the corner quite breathless and with a huge black eye, much like someone had simply put black make-up over a good portion of her face.
Mrs. Weasley turned round and started. "Hermione, what hap-?!"
"Have there been any owls?" she asked, distraught. There was a confused silence before she rushed on. "Owls! Have they come yet? The OWLs are coming in today!"
"Dear, there hasn't been any post yet," Mrs. Weasley assured her. "Now come here and sit down, let me take a look at that. What happened to you?"
The poor bushy haired girl sat resignedly in a chair at the table while Mrs. Weasley retrieved a book. "I don't know!" she lamented, wringing her hands. "There was a- And then I squeezed- And there was black- And it punched me!"
Ginny and I exchanged a glance, not used to this semi-speechless Miss Granger who was always so well articulated. Mrs. Weasley finally returned with a copy of The Healer's Helpmate and her wand. Flipping through a few pages, she found what she wanted and began to perform various spells and wand motions over Hermione's face. It didn't seem to help. The perfection that is Fleur floated back into the kitchen then with a tactless, "Oh, my!"
Moments later, Harry and Ron lumbered down with the empty breakfast tray in hand. Ron looked my way and I examined the grain of the wood in the table. I had a very strange mixture of anger toward him and shame at my behavior and I wasn't in the mood to address either.
"Oh, none of this is doing any good. I've never had any trouble with them before." Mrs. Weasley sighed and tried again.
"Of course Fred and George would find that funny," Ginny remarked. She finished the last tomato and stood up with the cutting board and knife. She moved to a dish Mrs. Weasley had set out and pushed the slices onto it. "A bruise that won't come off."
"But it has to!" Hermione exclaimed in a high voice. "It can't stay there forever!"
"We will find an antidote," Mrs. Weasley soothed, closing her book in defeat. "Don't worry."
"Ah, Bill 'as told me 'ow 'unmorous the twins are," Fleur said, smiling. Still no idea why she was here.
Hermione cast her a glare that seemed to go unnoticed by the older girl. She jumped off her stool and began pacing the kitchen, wringing her hands. "Are you quite sure no mail has come yet?"
Ginny took a seat next to me, shaking her head. "Do you think we'll be that anxious next year when we're waiting for our results?" she asked in an undertone.
Ron tried to soothe Hermione's fears. It did nothing but make her more overwrought with worry. I couldn't help but snicker.
"Well, we won't have the foreknowledge of knowing when our results are coming in, I don't think," I replied. "So, no. I think we will be perfectly safe."
Ginny laughed softly. "You know, I really wish I had popcorn or chocolate frogs at moments like this. Too entertaining not to enjoy."
"I'd offer you some, but all of my belongings are at home. Chocolate frogs included." Ginny made a face at the disappointment. I tried to giggle quietly. Hermione's wrath was not something I wanted to incur. "Oh, hang on. I have no idea how long I'm going to be here. I've no clothes, no books, no... Anything."
"Oh, you'll stay well entertained at The Burrow," Ginny assured me. "And you look pretty close to my size- I'm sure I've got some clothes you can wear." She snagged a sausage from my plate.
"How were we not friends before today?" I demanded, taking another bite of eggs. My mood was shifting and with it, my appetite was returning.
"Oh, well, you're a Ravenclaw and I'm a Gryffindor. Despite the bolony the Sorting Hat spews about house unity, it's our sworn duty by Hogwarts law that we not fraternize."
"Oh, I see!" I said with mock enlightenment. "All this time I thought it was us against the Slytherins! And Filch..."
Ginny snorted. "Oh, you have so much to learn! Are you going to eat that?" She pointed at my remaining sausages.
"Help yourself. I'm more of a bacon person."
The last word was drowned out by a high pitched shriek. All eyes were drawn to Hermione who looked rather terrified pointing out the kitchen window. Harry and Ron joined her to peer in the same direction. Hermione seemed to become more hysterical with each passing moment. Mrs. Weasley moved to open the window just in time to let in three tawny owls. They landed in a nice, neat line and present their deliveries in unison.
I felt really awful for Hermione's owl as she shook so much that she took the poor creature with her.
Silence weighed on the room so completely that I barely dared to breathe. This was pretty intense, waiting to see what happened.
Finally they spoke- pretty decent grades for what they knew they would pass. I finally let out a breath when Ron revealed that Hermione had in fact received ten 'O's out of eleven.
Show off, I thought. Gryffindors weren't supposed to be so brilliant. I had often thought in the past that Hermione had been put in the wrong house.
Harry sank down next to me as he reexamined his results. He didn't seem as pleased now as he had been just a moment ago.
"What's wrong?" I asked quietly. Ron was making enough noise about sausage to make it a semi-private conversation.
He glanced at me as if he hadn't realized I was there before looking back down. "Oh, sorry, it's just... I guess I'm not becoming an Auror," he replied.
I frowned. "What? Why?" I snatched the parchment from his hands. "These are perfectly good scores. Why can't you become an Auror?"
He snatched it back and scowled. "Because Snape requires an 'O' and I need Potions as an NEWT class to go on to Auror training." He sighed, staring at the paper. "I suppose I'll have to discuss my options with Professor McGonagall."
"You really think Snape is still going to be Potions Master?" I mused. I had heard Mrs. Weasley mention Slughorn last night, hadn't I? "I figured Slughorn would have it. Mum always said he was great."
"What?" Harry blinked at me. "I thought he'd be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
"Slughorn was the Potions Master and Head of Slytherin before Professor Snape started," I said. "Mum is always comparing Professor Snape to him whenever I tell her about school over the summer."
"Well then... What's Snape going to do?"
"Maybe he got sacked," Ginny said from my right. She was licking her fingers after having polished off the last of my sausage. We stared at her. "What? It could happen..."
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