[ Printer Friendly Version ] [ Report Abuse ]
Chapter 21 : The effects of Hogsmeade
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 31|
Background: Font color:
“I’ve had boyfriends before,” I protested. “How about Cadmus in fourth year?”
“Man, I said,” she corrected, “nae boy. Cadmus, a’ leas’ i’ fourth year, was definitely a boy.”
She had me there. There was a big difference between Cadmus Branstone as a fourth-year and Bertram Aubrey as a seventh-year.
“Fair point,” I conceded. “And you don’t mind me abandoning you for Hogsmeade like that?”
“Nae a’ all,” she said lightly. “So long as ye’ve go’ some decen’ gossip t’ tell me once ye ge’ back. I wan’ all th’ gruesome details.”
She didn’t even have to wait that long. The following Monday was Valentines Day, and Bertram surprised me at breakfast with a bouquet of roses and a box of Honeydukes’ finest. Not totally original, I know, but I appreciated the gesture. And it was years since I’d received anything at all on Valentines Day, so I intended to make the most of it.
Bertram, it turned out, was a bit of a romantic. He had clearly decided that for Valentines Day he was going to woo me (for want of a better word), and he pulled out all the stops. Not only was it the bouquet and chocolates at breakfast time, but at lunch he insisted on taking me out on a broom ride around the grounds with him, culminating in a private party on top of the Astronomy Tower, where he had earlier hidden some butterbeer, treacle tart and, for decoration, some everlasting icicles.
“This is amazing,” I whispered, awestruck that someone would go to that much trouble for little old me.
“You’re worth it,” he whispered back, his face inches from mine.
“But you hardly know me,” I reasoned, not quite sure why I seemed to be trying to ruin the moment.
“We’ll have to fix that then,” he responded, inching closer. And with that, he kissed me.
Wow. Mary had been right. There was a huge difference between fourteen year old Cadmus and eighteen year old Bertram. This was spot on, this was amazing, this was surely not happening to me? I put my arms around his neck and pulled him in closer.
It was definitely a shame to have to go to double Charms that afternoon, but go I did, missing Bertram with every fibre of my being. Which was quite an achievement, considering I’d barely known him that morning when I went down to breakfast. However, true to form, he was waiting for me in the Entrance Hall as soon as classes were over, and whisked me into a disused classroom not far from the Great Hall, where we picked up where we had left off in the lunch break.
When we made it in to supper, both probably looking rather dishevelled as we headed towards the Gryffindor table, I couldn’t help but notice that not everyone had had as good a Valentines Day as I had. Mary had sat down with Lily as the only two single girls in our year, and they appeared to be the only sixth-years (aside from me) who were happy with their situation.
Charlotte, sitting with the Ravenclaws with Hector, was looking over at the Gryffindor table where Remus sat – clearly she was still keen on him and he was either ignoring it or completely ignorant of it. Martha, with Al at the Hufflepuff table, was looking distracted and playing randomly with her hair, a sure sign she was getting restless. James was gazing at Lily, pretending not to notice that the necklace he had sent her still lay unwanted on the table where she had tossed it aside that morning. Sirius, with Clio at the Gryffindor table, had a decidedly sour look on his face and was scowling at the roast beef when Bertram and I sat down. Remus was concentrating steadfastly on the shepherd’s pie on his plate, which made me suspect he did know about Charlotte and was trying to pretend he didn’t. And Peter was gazing wistfully at the Hufflepuff table where the current object of his affections, Leda Madley (who ironically was a member of the Sirius Black fan club), was making a point of ignoring him.
However, I was far too distracted to give any of this much thought. My week got better and better as Bertram continued to shower me with attention and affection, though again even I couldn’t help but notice that not everyone was as happy as I was. This was exemplified the following Friday when we were grouped outside the Ancient Runes classroom waiting for the door to open: Clio Zeller was raving to Veronica Smethley, who I had defended from Maggie Flint a couple of months previously.
“I swear, he’s driving me crazy,” she said hotly. “He’s been in a foul mood for days, and I’ve got no idea what I’ve done to make him like this. Or if it’s anything I’ve done at all. I’m not sure if I even want to spend the day with him tomorrow.”
She was obviously talking about Sirius. It was almost impossible not to notice his bad mood: he’d been glowering at people all week, his temper on a very short fuse, and even James had been heard wondering out loud what the matter was. Even I was aware of it and had noticed his increasing tendency to hex people for no apparent good reason – with more than one student ending up with antennae or something similar – and it was putting it mildly to say I’d been rather preoccupied, what with my new boyfriend and all. I had also become vaguely aware that he was going back to his old behaviour towards me: that is, barely acknowledging I existed. The special treatment of the past month, it seemed, had been an aberration.
“If he’s that bad, tell him,” said Veronica. “It might give him a kick up the bum. Half the boys in this school would kill to be going out with you, and if he doesn’t appreciate it then you might be better off rid of him.”
Personally I thought that was stretching it – Clio was a pretty girl, but I wouldn’t have put her on the same level as Lily, Martha or Charlotte, and I was pretty sure Sirius didn’t count himself lucky to have her. As Martha had pointed out, it just seemed to be something to do when he got bored, as far as he was concerned at least. However, it wasn’t my place to say anything, so I stayed quiet. Remus, the only other Gryffindor to be studying Ancient Runes at NEWT level, gave me half a smile and raised an eyebrow as I caught his eye and I grinned, feeling rather conspiratorial all of a sudden.
On the morning of the Hogsmeade visit I camped out in front of the mirror in a vain attempt to make my hair go straight. No matter what I tried, though, the obstinate kink refused to disappear, meaning that I just couldn’t get it to look how I wanted it to.
Martha had noticed. She of course had perfect hair, hair just like I wanted, and didn’t even have to think about it. However, she also had a good heart. “Have you tried this stuff?” she asked, producing a bottle of something called Sleekeazy's Hair Potion.
I took the bottle and looked at it. “I’ve never seen this before,” I admitted.
She smiled. “You probably wouldn’t have, it’s only been out a few weeks,” she said. “Try it out, it might work.”
She helped me slather liberal amounts of the potion on my mousy brown hair to try to straighten it out. Only when we had used what felt like half the bottle, to no avail, did she concede defeat. “Tell you what, Laura, that hair of yours sure is stubborn,” she said. “This is the strongest stuff on the market that I know about, it should work on anything.”
I made a face. “Typical. Anything but my hair. I’m doomed to be kinky.” Then I giggled, realising how that had sounded.
Martha shot me a wicked grin. “You never know, maybe Bertram likes them kinky.”
Accepting my hair for the lost cause it was, I finished getting ready and joined the rest of the girls as they headed downstairs.
The Hogsmeade visit coincided with an Apparition lesson, which were going remarkably well really. In fact, by the time we’d had three or four classes many of the students were beginning to get the hang of it. To no one’s surprise James and Sirius were the first to master it, successfully Apparating into their hoops by the end of the second lesson, most likely a by-product of being the smartest in the year. (Why were they not in Ravenclaw? That made no sense.) The most dramatic occurrence this particular day was Thalia Strout Splinching herself, which meant that not all of her body went to the ‘desired destination’ – this had also happened to Greta Catchlove in the first lesson but to a much lesser degree, with Thalia managing to detach both an arm and a leg from the rest of her. There was a huge amount of blood and she was surrounded by the Heads of House and Madam Pomfrey, who put her back together within seconds, but she was rather pale after that and took no further part in the session. Despite that distraction, however, we were all starting to feel more confident about the task at hand and with any luck would actually pass the test when it was time to sit it.
Anyway, Bertram waited patiently for the lesson to finish so he could escort me into the village. And that was what it felt like, being escorted. Ever the romantic, he offered me his arm as I exited the Great Hall after the lesson, and all the way down the main drive I held it like I was going to a dance or something.
The surreal feeling I got from it extended when I asked what he had in mind for the day. While I didn’t mind being romanced, I did like having some idea of what was happening. Bertram, however, had other ideas. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about that,” he said. “I’ve got a grand day planned out.”
Well. That could mean anything. I didn’t like the sound of the ‘pretty little head’ comment, though, it felt almost like I was being treated as a lesser being or something. Bertram clearly didn’t understand me very well at all, and I was a little worried about what he thought I would enjoy.
My worst fears were confirmed when he steered me into a little teashop just off the main street of Hogsmeade. Called Madam Puddifoot’s, it was the most revolting place I had ever been in in my entire life. It was crammed full of little round two-person tables, with frilly tablecloths and lace doilies covering them, and the floral décor was almost overwhelming. It also had a really stuffy feel to it, like the windows were never opened. A Celestina Warbeck song, which to me sounded rather like a cat being strangled, was playing in the background.
The place seemed to be a haunt for courting couples, though I was guessing most of the boys in there had been dragged in by their girlfriends, going by the looks on their faces. As an example, one of the tables held Sirius and Clio, and judging from his expression he definitely wasn’t in there by choice. I made a mental note to thank Cadmus one day, as not once during our little dalliance in fourth year had he even suggested we set foot inside.
Bertram found us a table near a window, which was a saving grace as it meant at least I could look outside – the closeness of everything inside was making me feel a little claustrophobic. As it was now getting towards the end of February the snow had disappeared and a grey wetness had replaced it so the view from the window wasn’t outstanding but, as I said, it beat looking around inside.
Bertram ordered two coffees, and it occurred to me that it was fortunate that I liked coffee because he hadn’t actually asked me what I wanted. Not a good sign, I reflected uneasily.
“Have you been here before?” he asked, taking my hand from his seat across the little round table. It was so small that his knees were knocking against mine, though I suspected that might have been deliberate on his part.
“No, I haven’t,” I said truthfully, choosing not to add, ‘and I hope to never come here again’. He might be offended if I said that.
A waitress brought our drinks, served in delicate china cups, complete with saucers, with roses painted on them. They looked like something my grandmother would have.
“It’s lovely, isn’t it,” he said enthusiastically, holding up the vase on the table for me to sniff the roses contained therein. “Such a great place for couples,” he went on.
“It’s very – pretty,” I said, again being truthful, though my meaning wasn’t apparent in my choice of words. I usually didn’t like pretty things very much, my taste was much simpler.
“You’re very pretty,” he said. “You’re beautiful.”
I felt rather awkward, having considered myself rather ordinary for so long that I was having trouble getting my head around someone thinking I was beautiful, but fortunately my mum had taught me how to take compliments even if I didn’t believe them. “Thanks,” I said, smiling, and hoping he wouldn’t mind if I took my hand out of his so I could drink my coffee.
“I’ve fancied you for ages,” he went on, “but I didn’t know how to talk to you. You always seemed so aloof.”
My surprise got the better of me. “Really? I didn’t realise I was aloof.”
“You’re probably not, but you looked it sometimes,” he explained. “Probably something to do with those high cheekbones. You look almost regal.”
Regal was not a word I would ever have thought of to describe myself, but if he wanted to see me like that then I wasn’t going to argue. “Thank you,” I said again. This was definitely good for the ego. Maybe he really did think I was beautiful. I managed to extricate my hand from his and wrapped both hands around my china cup, feeling its warmth penetrate me. The stuffiness of the room made me feel almost hot but I ignored it, concentrating on my drink.
“I knew that if I didn’t ask you out now, I never would,” Bertram said after a pause, grabbing my hand again and kissing it. “I’m leaving here in a few months, I might never see you again.”
I hadn’t thought of it like that, hadn’t thought of where the seventh-years would go once June was over. “That’s true,” I agreed. “You’d know where I was, but I wouldn’t have a clue where you were. Damn age gaps!”
He smiled, which made his face light up and his brown eyes sparkle. “Good thing I got the guts up, then, isn’t it?” he asked, stroking my palm in a rather seductive way. I’m almost ashamed to say I gave a little moan – this was more like it.
Our reverie was interrupted by a couple knocking our table on their way out. There wasn’t much space in between the tables so we didn’t really mind, but it gave us a shock and pulled us out of our romantic haze. The couple in question, Sirius and Clio, seemed to be having a bit of a row.
“I don’t know what it is that I’ve done, the least you could do is tell me,” Clio snapped.
Sirius was scowling again, his bad mood obviously not improved. “I’ve told you, I don’t know,” he said sharply. “It might not even be about you. And if you’d just leave me alone for a bit I might work it out. But no, you keep on harping and harping, you’re making it worse.”
Bertram raised his eyebrows at me as they filed out the door. “Trouble in paradise?” he asked, probably expecting me to know as I was in their year.
“Beats me,” I said, shrugging. “He’s been in a shocking mood for days. Makes classes quieter ’cause he’s not acting up as much. But she’s in your House, you might know more than I do.”
“No idea,” he said, then frowned suddenly. “Didn’t you have a thing with him at some stage?”
I laughed. “Don’t tell me you actually believed that,” I said. “We did a detention together and then all of a sudden word was out we were having this sordid affair. I thought it was hilarious.”
“So it didn’t happen?” He looked a little anxious.
“Definitely not,” I reassured him. “That’s the sort of thing I think I would have remembered.”
He smiled. “Truly? I must say I’m relieved.”
“You’re too good for him,” he said, kissing my hand. “But you’ve spilled your coffee!” he added, noticing the small puddle in my saucer. It must have spilled when the table was knocked. “Let me get you another one,” he went on, looking for the waitress to summon her over.
“It’s okay,” I said. “Really, I’d almost finished, it doesn’t matter.” Actually I’d barely started, but I wasn’t keen to stay there any longer than was absolutely necessary. Bertram hadn’t managed to distract me enough to block out Celestina Warbeck’s incessant warbling, and it was so stuffy inside I was starting to feel like I couldn’t breathe. Outside our window I could see Sirius and Clio continuing their spat, which appeared to end when Clio went storming off in the rain towards Gladrags and Sirius, hands deep in his pockets and a filthy look on his face, shuffled off in the other direction.
Bertram eventually cottoned on and we left Madam Puddifoot’s soon afterwards, him casting an Impervius Charm on me to keep the rain off. Our next stop was Honeydukes, where he bought me a large supply of coffee fudge, sugar quills and peppermint toads. I felt a little awkward about him paying for everything – after all, I did have some gold of my own – but he insisted that on a proper date, the man should buy everything. Oh well, if he was going to be so insistent, who was I to argue?
I was so distracted by Bertram that I barely noticed the shabby stalls holding shonky amulets and the like that were appearing throughout Hogsmeade just as they were in Diagon Alley, though one stall-holder tried to talk Bertram into buying me a talisman that would apparently ward off werewolves. Yeah, right, I’d credit that when I saw it actually happening. The stone itself was pretty, amber-coloured and oddly luminous, but I thought it was probably glass rather than anything more valuable. Needless to say, there was no sale.
After a good lunch and a few butterbeers at the Three Broomsticks, Bertram led me to a secluded corner just beyond the owl office. The rain had stopped and puddles had formed all along the high street, but he had managed to find a spot that the rain hadn’t got to, and so was still dry and well out of the wind. “If we could just stop here for a bit,” he whispered to me, his mouth going from my ear to brush over my jawbone before kissing my neck. I got tingles all over and pulled him closer, losing myself in the moment.
We stayed there for a length of time that could have been five minutes or five hours, we were so preoccupied. Eventually we realised that it was past the time we should have been heading back to school, so reluctantly we re-arranged ourselves and walked back, arm in arm, to the Hogwarts gates.
Mary was in the common room talking to a boy who looked vaguely familiar when I finally got back to Gryffindor Tower, Bertram and I having taken a side trip to a deserted corridor after we’d been inspected for banned objects and ticked off Filch’s list as having returned. She got my attention as soon as I climbed through the portrait hole and, waving briefly at the boy, dragged me upstairs to the dorm.
“Th’ girls all wan’ th’ goss,” she said on the way up. “An’ then we’ve go’ goss t’ share wi’ ye.”
Obediently I allowed myself to be led into the dorm where the other girls were indeed waiting. “So?” said Lily immediately as I entered the room. “How was your day?”
“Pretty good,” I smiled, remembering. Then I frowned. “Aside from the start, though. That was disastrous. I thought the rest of the day could be awful.”
“What happened?” asked Charlotte.
“Have you ever been to a place called Madam Puddifoot’s?” I asked.
Mary screamed with laughter. “He took ye t’ Madam Puddifoot’s??” she exclaimed. “Merlin’s beard, I though’ th’ lad had ye worked oot a’ leas’ a wee bit!”
The other three were also laughing. “Yeah,” said Martha, “if anyone is absolutely NOT someone who would like that place, it’s you.”
“Far too girly,” Lily agreed. “Oh Laura, I can just see you in lace and frills and bows and florals!”
“Not to mention good old Celestina being piped through,” I added, shuddering. “Fortunately he got the hint fairly early on. My coffee got spilled when Clio and Sirius stormed out, they were having a fight and one of them knocked our table on the way past, and I talked him into not getting me another one, so we left instead. And then it got distinctly better from then on.”
“Go on,” prompted Charlotte.
“We went to Honeydukes,” I went on, “where he spent a tidy sum on a lot of things which are bound to expand my waistline. Lunch at the Three Broomsticks, that was nice. And then he found a secluded corner near the owl office, out of the rain, where we just kinda whiled away the afternoon.”
Mary looked at me astutely. “Meanin’, ye came up fer air approximately three times i’ as many hours?”
I grinned. “Something like that,” I agreed. “And then we realised it was time to come back to school. So we came back and Filch poked and prodded us and signed us off, having a whinge in the process because we were late, and then we hid in the Transfiguration corridor for a bit, you know, to finish off what we were doing before we came back, and then I came up here.” I could feel my cheeks burning so much, I was probably looking rather like a Quaffle by now.
“Your clothes look intact,” said Martha, scrutinising me. “You covered that up well.”
“Goodness, Martha, we didn’t get that far!” I protested, not sure if I should be insulted at the suggestion or not. “We kept it all very proper, all stuff I wouldn’t mind writing home about. Well – maybe not all of it, but most of it.”
Mary was still looking at me shrewdly, and Charlotte was grinning.
“Well, Mary had a good day,” said Lily suddenly, changing the subject. I looked at Mary, surprised – she’d hidden it well. Unless it had something to do with the boy I’d seen her talking to downstairs?
“Ye know Marcus Ogden?” she asked slyly. Yep, that was him – hearing the name brought it back to me. He was a burly seventh-year who was Keeper on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. “Well, we sor’ o’ ran into each ither a’ th’ Three Broomsticks, an’, er, we ended up gettin’ t’ know each ither pretty well an’ all.”
Lily was smiling broadly. “Of course, she left me in the lurch, she couldn’t run off with him fast enough,” she said. “Oh, don’t worry,” she went on, addressing Mary who had started to apologise, “I don’t blame you in the slightest. I would have done exactly the same thing.”
“You mean if it was Marcus, or if it was James?” asked Charlotte, trying without success to suppress a smile. Lily blushed furiously and refused to answer.
“No one saw Mary or Marcus for the rest of the afternoon,” added Martha, grinning wickedly. “Poor old Gerry Stebbins looked heartbroken.” Mary smiled and even looked a little sadistic, and I wondered if the concept of annoying Gerry had any bearing on her decision to go off with Marcus in the first place. “Nor did we see Charlotte or Hector,” Martha continued, winking at Charlotte.
“We were around,” Charlotte said defensively, taking her glasses off and polishing them with her shirt. “You just can’t have looked very hard.”
“Oh, I looked hard enough,” Martha retorted. “Al and I had a huge fight, I think we might have broken up, so I was definitely looking for you.”
“It’s all right, she found me,” Lily told Charlotte; she had found her voice again. “Martha seemed okay with it, didn’t you Martha?” We all looked at Martha, who definitely did not look heartbroken, and if anything seemed relieved.
“I’m fine,” she said airily. “To be honest I’d been looking to get out for a while now. He was starting to bore me.”
“Again?” asked Lily with an affectionate smile. “Sometimes I worry about you, Martha, you never give them long enough to grow on you.”
Martha shuddered dramatically. “Grow on me? Isn’t that something you go to Madam Pomfrey to get fixed?”
“All right, all right,” said Charlotte, shaking her head. “Anyway, Sirius is single again,” she went on with a grin, “so you could always go back to that old port.”
“Wha’?” asked Mary, her blue eyes wide. “I hadna hear’ tha’!”
“That’s because you were off ‘getting to know’ Marcus,” explained Lily, using her fingers as inverted commas for the ‘getting to know’ bit. “Apparently Sirius and Clio had the row to end all rows this morning and she stormed off to find solace with someone else.”
“Yeah, Sebastian Quirke,” Martha said contemptuously. “Didn’t take her long to move on.”
“That must have been the fight I saw at Madam Puddifoot’s,” I said slowly. “Whatever it was about, they continued it outside for a good five minutes and then took off in different directions. Both drenched to the skin. It was pretty funny, actually.”
“It was probably because she took him to Madam Puddifoot’s,” Martha laughed. “I can’t see Sirius there any more than I can see you there, Laura.”
“From the looks of most of the boys in there, they didn’t want to be there any more than I did,” I said fairly. “And they didn’t break up with whoever they were with over it.”
“She thought that filthy mood he’s been in was her fault,” said Lily, who was now stroking Mary’s cat. “I heard her complaining about it in the toilets the other day.”
“Yeah, she was saying that in Ancient Runes,” I agreed. “And come to think of it, she did yell something of the sort to him this morning.”
“What did he say?” asked Charlotte. “Last I heard, no one knew why he was so pissed off, not even James.”
I paused, thinking. I hadn’t paid much attention to it, actually – from memory Bertram had chosen that moment to start trying to seduce me. “I think he said he didn’t know what it was,” I said after a spell. “That if she let him be for a bit he would work it out, but she kept on at him all the time and it was making it worse. I wasn’t really paying that much notice, though,” I added apologetically.
“Too busy concentratin’ o’ ither things?” asked Mary slyly.
“That sounds about right,” I agreed, returning her smile.
“So, Martha,” Lily said playfully, “what do you think? Will you and Sirius pick up where you left off?”
Martha laughed. “I don’t think so, Lils,” she said. “I’d have to deal with good old Elvira and the fan club again, and I feel like I’m getting too old for that sort of crap. Besides, there’s plenty of talent at this school who don’t have their own fan clubs, just waiting for me to find them.” She smiled mischievously at us.
“Uh oh,” said Charlotte ominously. “Martha Hornby’s on the prowl again. Lock up your brothers!”
“At this point,” Martha said loftily, “I’m thinking that any bloke who’s halfway decent looking, is taller than me, and is mature enough not to refer to me as ‘Martha Horny’, will fit the bill.” We laughed; we’d all heard that particular nickname of Martha’s, which was bestowed not because of her reputation, which was actually rather good, but because teenaged boys liked any excuse to make dirty jokes and her surname was unfortunately made for it. When that had started was one of the few times I was actually glad I was a Cauldwell.
“Mature?” asked Lily with a grin. “Well, I guess that definitely rules out Sirius, then.”
“I’m sure Avery will tak’ ye on,” Mary smirked.
Martha shuddered. “Remember the rule, no Slytherins,” she said, smiling grimly. “Anyway, there’s your party coming up, Laura, I might just see who looks willing there.”
Author’s note: Ah, boyfriends. They can drive you batty but you just can’t stay away. And of course poor Laura needed a little bit of experience as far as relationships go, she’s not had much luck with that to date. Overall I’m rather pleased with this chapter, the banter between the girls in the dorm makes me smile even now after I’ve read it however many times it is since I wrote it.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Other Similar Stories
Over My Head
by The Forgo...
Love is a drug.