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Chapter 2 : TWO: I Dare You
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credit to ailhsa@tda for the pretty ci <3
TWO: I DARE YOU
Hogwarts was in the midst of witnessing its school day sluggishly draw to an end. By this point, its students were already defeated, slumped on their desks with unfocused eyes and tired brains. No one wanted to work or wanted to be there, not even the teachers.
For Nova, it was arguably worse: she was in History of Magic. Technically, it wasn't that bad anymore since the school rewarded anyone that was brave enough to pursue it further with a break from Binns now and again. Because they were on Unit One, they'd had a war veteran come in a few times a week since the beginning of the year to teach them about what had actually gone on. Whenever they had Binns, they were usually doing independent study whether that meant writing essays or researching or completing odd projects here and there.
Today, however, Binns seemed determined to bore them to death before the final bell rang.
"And so . . . with the rise of the Dark wizard widely proclaimed as You-Know-Who or, better yet, Lord Voldemort, emerged the vigilante group, the Order of the Phoenix . . . named so after the symbol of its founder and leader from 1975 - 97, Albus Dumbledore . . ."
Kill me now.
Nova rolled her eyes, propped her arm on her desk and leaned heavily against her palm, wishing the day would be over. She would rather stab her eyes out than endure another twenty minutes of this. But naturally, while she had them, they drifted over to a certain Potter boy a couple of rows in front of her to alleviate her boredom instead. Raven black hair stuck up in all directions as he rested his head in his arms, collapsed on his desk. He was evidently asleep, if the light snores she could just about hear suggested anything.
How . . . charming.
Actually, it was pretty cute, if she was being honest with herself.
She didn't know how he could do it, though, even if they were in History. But then again, boys were like that; they could make themselves comfortable anywhere as long they were there long enough without batting an eye. Nala had talked about her older brothers doing the same multiple times over the years. It was something to envy, really, being able to have a power nap during a boring lesson, wake up and still look sane. If Nova tried that, she'd walk around for the rest of the day looking like a demon out for the blood of helpless little children.
So like Dahlia, basically.
". . . I trust that you'll be able to do it amongst yourselves." She tuned back into Binns' spiel just in time to hear his concluding statement.
Frowning since she had completely missed the end of his lecture, she looked around at the rest of the class - a grand total of eleven other students - to see if they knew, but they were all out of it. As they registered that there was no drone lulling them to sleep, they seemed to shake themselves into the present, looking just as lost as her.
Finally, Rose Weasley seemed to decide it was high time to do what no other person had ever done before: ask Binns to repeat himself.
"Er, professor?" she began tentatively.
The ghost seemed startled by the sudden voice, as if he hadn't realised that there was a class in front of him. "Yes, Miss Warren?"
From where she sat, Nova had the perfect view of the irritation that flashed across the Gryffindor's face before it was replaced by a painfully fake smile. "Could you repeat the task for us, please? We didn't quite catch it."
Binns seemed to think that this was a ridiculous question because he heaved a deep sigh, one of those woe-is-me ones that wracked his ghostly form, and blinked blearily. "I don't see why you weren't listening in the first place, Miss Wheedle, but I suppose I can if I must . . . The task is to arrange yourselves in groups of four and assemble a presentation on a notable member of the Order of the Phoenix . . . a presentation you will have to, of course, present in class next Wednesday . . ." His almost incoherent murmur trailed off into silence.
For the next minute or so, he then stared blankly at his students who mimicked his dumb expression and stared back. Then, they slowly started to arrange themselves into groups.
For fuck's sake.
Who the hell was she going to be with? Nova was completely on her own in this class since none of her friends had been kind enough to join her (as Dahlia had firmly stated: "I would rather pull out every fucking hair in my body one by one every day for the rest of my fucking life before I even fucking consider taking History of Magic as a N.E.W.T.") and did not get along with anyone else enough to be considered as a partner.
Sure, there were a couple of Hufflepuffs in her class, but one of them was Josh Finch-Fletchley, the boy she'd fancied back in first year - and the boy who unfortunately knew she had fancied him back in first year - so that was a path she was not willing to embark on. Ever.
She would rather pull out every fucking hair in her body one by one every day for the rest of her fucking life than consider it.
So she stayed in her corner, nonchalantly flicking through her textbook to make it seem as if she didn't have a care in the world, and waited for a group to realise that they were one short and reluctantly call her over. It happened faster than she expected.
"Hale," called a familiar voice. When she looked up, Rose Weasley was beckoning her over. "You can be with us."
She was going to be in Albus Potter's group.
Bless you, Cuthbert Binns. She would never say a bad word against him ever again. He was not a ghost, he was a bloody angel. Because of him, Nova was now gathering her things and dropping into the seat Rose Weasley had dragged next to her, right in front of the cutest boy to have entered Hogwarts.
Who was still asleep, by the way.
Noticing the look on Nova's face, Rose rolled her eyes and let out a little laugh. "I swear, he can just about fall asleep anywhere. Once, he fell asleep on a bloody broom when he was supposed to be looking for the Snitch. Remember that, Scorpius?" She nudged the blonde next to her.
Scorpius Malfoy nodded slowly, a smirk on his face. "Daft idiot nearly broke his arm because of that stunt." After a pause, he added as a greeting, "Alright, Hale?"
She nodded. "Alright?"
Nova and Scorpius could be said to be on friendly terms in the loosest way possible. They occasionally nodded at each other when they passed one another in the corridor simply because they had one thing in common: Cassidy. Cass was Scorpius' first cousin on his mum's side and arguably his favourite one. They had another one, a seventh year Slytherin born to their Aunt Daphne that was known for being a bit of a heartbreaker, but because Scorpius and Cassidy were born in the same year, they were just that little bit closer.
Rose looked at the snoring Albus and sighed. Drawing her wand, she stabbed him in the shoulder. "Oi. Wake up."
"Hmm? Fuck off," he mumbled, swatting at her.
"We have to work, Sleeping Beauty, so get up before I get Scorpius to snog you awake," she said and poked him again.
He made an irritated sound in the back of his throat and swatted her away more forcefully. "Too hot for him."
Scorpius raised an eyebrow. "Don't break my heart now, darling."
The only answer he received was a snore.
Rose seemed to take this as a challenge. Nova watched on with growing amusement as she ceaselessly poked and prodded Albus with her wand, snapping at him to wake up and he continued to curl in on himself and refused to open his eyes. In the end, when she grabbed her textbook, smacked the back of his head with it and he finally shot up and barked, "FOR FUCK'S SAKE, ROSIE, I SAID TO PISS OFF!", Nova let out the laughter she'd desperately tried to contain so far.
Almost immediately, Albus' eyes snapped over to her, but she barely noticed it through the giggles spilling out of her mouth. She clapped a hand over it. "Sorry."
"Don't be," Rose said. "At least now the idiot realises he's been embarrassing himself in front of everyone by snoring."
"I don't snore," he objected, absently wiping his glasses clean with the sleeve of his robe.
"Yes, you do, mate," Scorpius said with a small grin. "I should know, I sleep in the bed right next to yours."
For that comment, he earned a glower off Albus. The Potter turned to Nova. "I don't snore, do I?" Before she could reply, he added, "Humour me."
She shrugged. No way in hell was she going to tell her crush that he snored. She wasn't an expert on the rules of fancying someone or anything, but she knew not to do that, at least. In the end, it turned out to be the right thing to do because Albus smiled triumphantly and turned to send his best friends a smug look.
And that smile made it fucking worth it.
When Albus smiled at her, the same feeling she had whenever she sipped some Butterbeer on a cold day spread through her, warm and comforting like someone had wrapped her up in a tight hug. It fueled the spark in his jade eyes, made him light up within and it set her heart on fire.
She was smitten.
"Alright, so what are we doing?" he asked, opening the textbook Rose had hit him with.
"A presentation on a member of the Order of the Phoenix," his cousin replied.
He grimaced. The three of them exchanged a look, seemed to agree on something and then turned to face her. He said, "Do you wanna do it?"
"Excuse me?" she asked defensively, eyes narrowing into thin slits.
She might have had a crush on Albus Potter, but there was no way in hell that she was going to take over the reigns just because she was a Hufflepuff with bloody good work ethic. Rules of fancying someone be damned, she had some respect for herself. It must have shown on her face because he hurried to explain himself as Scorpius stifled a snicker.
"Do you wanna choose who we're going to study?" he elaborated. "I mean, this is a bit of a personal topic for us, you know, because of who we are and the fact that we're related to a good chunk of the Order, so do you - do you wanna choose who we're going to study?" He angled the book toward her, free hand creeping up to tug on a lock of his hair.
Still regarding him warily, she leaned over and examined the names. Black, Sirus. Bones, Edgar. Dearborn, Caradoc. Diggle, Dedalus. Doge, Elphias. Dumbledore, Aberforth. Dumbledore, Albus . . . The list wore on. She studied the names and the small, two-lined descriptions that came alongside them for a few minutes. Vanished, presumed to be murdered . . . tortured to insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange, Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr . . . killed by You-Know-Who personally . . .
Finally, she narrowed down on a couple she liked and looked up to share her thoughts when she realised two things: one, things were about to get awkward because Scorpius Malfoy and Rose Weasley were about a minute away from furiously snogging each other if their heated bickering suggested anything and two, she had underestimated how green Albus Potter's eyes were.
She jerked back, caught off-guard by his close proximity. Flushing pink in answer to his small, almost knowing smile, she assumed her customary straight expression to save face. With a loud, deliberate cough, she said, "So, I was thinking that we either do Remus Lupin or Mad Eye Moody. Probably the second one. I mean, Lupin is a really famous figure because he was the first werewolf to be awarded the Order of Merlin so he's more likely to be chosen by someone else."
"Yeah, that works," he said. He leaned closer. "What pages does it cross-reference for Moody?"
"Um, pages 3-"
"For the love of God, you're so insufferable sometimes, you know that right?" Rose was saying loudly. "I don't understand why I put up with you."
"Because you're attracted to me."
"I'd rather fuck a cactus."
"That's not what you were saying last night in the Charms classro-"
Nova broke off to watch them interestedly. She was no stranger to banter on this level - her entire friendship group was full scathing insults and suggestive teases - but they also all happened to be (mostly) straight girls that weren't into each other. None of them were in relationships, either: while Alice and Nala had been in a couple of extremely short ones, Dahlia terrified people, Cass simply hooked up with them and Reagan and Nova were just never the ones people fancied. Consequently, she'd never really witnessed a couple interact, especially one as incongruous as Scorpius Malfoy and Rose Weasley.
Albus caught her eyes and smirked. "They're always like this. Quite sickening, really."
"It must be hard to be their best friend," she commented.
He shrugged. "It requires a lot of strength of will, I'll give you that." When she smiled, he mirrored her. "I bet you don't have to have that with your friends."
"Oh, I don't know. Alice and Dahlia are a lot like those two."
Contrary to her thoughts fifteen minutes ago, Nova would now be content if the final bell never rang. She wouldn't mind sitting there next to Albus for hours, Scorpius and Rose flirting in the background, at perfect liberty to admire his sleepy eyes, rough voice and the ruffled texture of his dark hair. Just sit there as a normal teenage girl, not as the Hufflepuff with the notorious poker face, talking to the boy she fancied.
Unfortunately, time rarely stopped for the whims of sixth years.
Sooner than later, the sharp trill of the final bell pierced her ears and she reluctantly gathered her things, haphazardly shoving them into her bag as she rose from her seat. She nodded as if to say goodbye to Albus and then politely excused herself, feeling on top of Cloud Nine with every step she took.
"Why are you smiling?" Dahlia demanded as soon as Nova stepped into the dormitory. The sudden question, coupled with her wild hair and perpetually narrowed eyes, lent her an air of craziness that only made Nova grin more. "You just came back from History of Magic. Don't tell me Binns is suddenly interesting."
"I've always found him very interesting."
"Of course," Nala agreed as she picked up Fat Ginger to press a loud kiss on his face. "Don't you think it's really sexy how his classes make you want to join him in death?"
"You two are fucking disgusting. I'm gonna have a shower."
"A cold shower since we've made you have such steamy thoughts about Binns?" Nala asked with a waggle of her eyebrows.
In response, Dahlia flipped her two fingers and shoved her to the ground as she stalked past. When the bathroom door shut behind her, Nala and Nova looked at each other and burst out laughing. Teasing Dahlia was always great fun.
"I'm so glad that lessons are over," Nala said as Nova moved towards her wardrobe to find a fresh set of clothes. After a moment's consideration, she chose a pair of skinny jeans and a dark knitted jumper. "I've been bored for an hour with no one but Fat Ginger to keep me company."
"Fat Ginger's always keeping you company."
"Yes, because I'm a better owner than Alice," she said importantly. "I know what the true meaning of love is."
". . . It's a cat."
"Cats deserved to be loved too."
Nova gave her a strange look. "I hope you have a happy life together, but I'm going to have to leave you for a bit." She glanced at her watch as Nala wailed in protest. "It's Thursday and I haven't given my sister the brownies that Mum sent on Tuesday."
"Why would she need to have them? Give them to me. No! Don't abandon me, Nova, give them to meeee-" The door slammed on her pleas.
You see, Nova Hale was one of the many students of Hogwarts that had escaped a separation from her siblings (or one of them, at least - Lucia wasn't eleven yet) and had cheered for Aria when the Hat announced that she was a Hufflepuff back when Nova was in third year. They saw each other a fair bit in the common room, but they still made the effort to go out of their way and talk to each other at least once a week.
For this reason, Nova found herself knocking on the door to Dormitory 2.3B. There was a loud outburst of laughter and the patter of feet before the door was thrown open and a girl even smaller than Reagan - which was quite the feat, it must be said - turned to greet her. Though her smile didn't disappear, it faltered for a second at the sight of the sixth year. Once again, Nova's reputation preceded her.
The girl twisted her head to the right, calling, "Aria! Your sister's here for you."
"Let her in, Belle," came the reply.
Obediently, Belle held the door open further and allowed Nova to come in. She entered with a strong sense of trepidation; for over four years, she had lived in a dormitory that was nearly spotless since it also housed the neatest freak she knew of, the one and only Alice Longbottom, but none of the girls of Dormitory 2.3B cared much for cleaning.
As was evident by the pile of t-shirt bras and dirty socks on the floor.
How cute. They had hearts on them.
Nova crossed the carnage to Aria's bed and practically jumped on it since it was one of the few things in the room that was actually clean. Her sister grinned knowingly.
"Alright there, Supernova?" she asked, leaning back leisurely.
"This place smells like the Gryffindor changing rooms," she said disdainfully, exaggeratedly brushing invisible dirt off her jeans. "You'd think you were a bunch of boys."
Aria rolled her eyes. "We're just embracing our animal roots. You should join us."
"Shut up. So what brings you to the man cave, then?"
Nova extracted the slightly crushed package that their mother had sent two days ago from the back pocket of her jeans and tossed it onto the bed. "Mum sent brownies the other day. Don't know if it'd be hygenic to eat it here, but I figured you should have some."
"You hid this from me for a few days?" she squawked, scrambling forward in her haste to open up the packet.
"You're not worthy."
"Once again: shut up."
"Can't handle the truth?" she teased, arching a single dark eyebrow.
"Can't handle bullshit," Aria corrected around a mouthful of brownies, forcing her older sister to fight the urge to retch. Though the two looked similar in many ways - they both had the same dark waves of hair, shrewd eyes and a tendency to look fierce in the serenest of moments - they clearly differed in just about any other aspect. "The reaction I get is awful. I sneeze constantly, hack up half of my lungs and break out in hives. Hives."
There were common myths that men believed about sleepovers or Girls' Nights. Pillow fights while dressed in lingerie, huge talks about relationships and boys where everyone collapsed into gentle giggles as well as extensive makeovers that completely transformed faces. The girls of Dormitory 2.6A weren't the only ones who could dispel this delusion. Of course they didn't have pillow fights in sexy lingerie. This wasn't a 90's chick flick.
They did talk about boys, though.
And messed around with makeup.
"You know, it surprises me that I'm so attracted to James Potter since I basically saw the guy grow up," Alice was saying as she rested her head in Cass' lap and had her eyebrows plucked into shape. "I was there when he ate too many Chocolate Frogs at Rose's fifth birthday party and ended up vomiting all over his food."
Reagan groaned, scrunching up her nose. Hands stilling in the process of braiding Nova's hair, she cried, "Oh, that's fucking disgusting! Thanks a lot, Alice. Usually, when I hear the name 'James Potter', I think of a sexy man bun, but now I'm gonna picture a kid blowing chunks over a birthday cake."
There was a chorus of groans in response as everyone pictured the vivid image.
"The two of you are tramps," Nova said. Pretending to retch, she added, "I don't think I can look at him without remembering those words anymore. You've just destroyed a perfectly good crush."
And that was when it happened.
It had been two weeks since Nova had admitted that she fancied Albus Potter and not just in a oh-you're-hot kinda way, but in a you-make-my-heart-race kinda way. The two of them had remained silent on the topic, though Reagan did elbow her suggestively a few times in Transfiguration, Charms and whenever they passed the Slytherin. It was a truth only acknowledged by them.
Until Dahlia shrugged and said, "Well, you fancy his brother so it's okay."
"Tr- wait, what?" Nova shot up straight and gave Dahlia a strange look, trying to look casual and completely failing. "Er. What - what are you on about?"
Eyebrows raised, she said, "I said that you fancy Albus Potter."
Panic was rising in the back of her throat. She cleared it, pulling on her trademark blank mask in order to hide the completely horror at her secret being revealed - but how had it been? It wasn't like she was obvious about it or that Reagan had spilled the beans.
There was a disbelieving scoff when she asked, feigning amusement, "And who did you hear this from? Someone from 2.6B?"
Shamefaced silence filled the dormitory for a few seconds. Nova watched her friends exchange glances, their eyes darting from one another as if trying to reach a decision. Lips were bitten, tongues were in cheeks and guilty eyes widened before there was a huge intake of breath.
"Nova, honey," Alice said softly, as if realising she was treading a slightly sensitive subject. "We all know about it."
"About some rumour?"
As always, Dahlia was impatient when it came to bullshit. "Oh, for the love of God, Nova, we all know that there's no rumour. We know you fancy Albus Potter because we can just tell. You know you look at him a lot during lunch and breakfast, right? And you've mentioned him more than usual whenever you talk about classes too."
"Dahlia, I was trying to be sensitive!"
"About what? She fancies some guy. It's not the story of the fucking century."
"Yes, but after last time-"
Realising that she was backed in a corner, Nova heaved a defeated sigh. She stared hard at a mark on the ground and reluctantly admitted, "Alright, fine! I might have a small crush on - Albus Potter. Just a small one, mind you, so don't freak out or anything."
There was a pause.
"Holy Mother of Merlin."
"I KNEW IT!"
"YES. YES. I HAVE WAITED FOR THIS DAY TO COME FOR YEARS!"
"ALBUS POTTER! ALBUS POTTER!"
"NOVA BLOODY HALE HAS A CRUSH-"
"ALBUS POTTER! ALBUS POTTER!"
"I AM SO PROUD."
By the time that they were done with this show, Cass was sprawled on her lap, feigning sobs of relief, Alice's manic face was too close for comfort and Nala had thrown herself onto Reagan in her effort to reach Nova. In short, it was like a game of Sandwich and Nova was squished under the weight of four girls. Only Dahlia remained calm and unimpressed.
"Can't - breathe-"
"THAT'S NOT IMPORTANT, NOVA! You have a crush!"
"I'm aware of that. I also have a ribcage that's about to be crushed if you don't get off me."
"Alright, fine. Fine. We'll move. Alice, get the fuck off. Your knee is literally on my boob."
"Well, it's a comfortable surface."
After some difficulty, bruises and loud curses, they managed to untangle their limbs and sit cross-legged around Nova, faces eager and in various stages of being done (Alice still had one rather bushy eyebrow). With a sigh, Dahlia dragged herself over and flopped down in between two of them, allowing Alice to drape her legs over her lap in order to fit better.
Nova groaned. "Do we really have to do this?"
"Of course, we do!" Nala exclaimed. Tossing her dark curls over her shoulder, she continued, "This is important, Nova. It's, like, getting a new king or queen."
Everyone looked at her like she was insane.
"Um," Reagan said with a laugh, "I don't think they're on the same level, really. But it'll be nice to get some answers and finally be able to talk about it."
Traitor, Nova thought with a scowl.
"Did no one hear me when I said not to lose the plot?"
Dahlia raised an arm. "I'm on your side, mate. I don't understand why everyone's making a big deal out of it. I mean, all you're doing is fancying a boy."
There were some murmurs in response to this, both disagreeing and concurring with the statement. Nala was in the first group.
"Fancying someone isn't something that you can put 'just' in front of. It's important. Like, that person might be who you end up with for the rest of your life. And just fancying them makes you feel good, you know? Like you look forward to seeing them, talking to them and just about anything they do can make you feel happy. And then there's a chance that they might return your feelings and when you think that's possible, it makes you feel better about yourself. Liking someone makes you feel like - like you're worth something, you know? Don't you ever want to just fancy a boy, even if it's just for the sake of it, so you can feel that way?"
"Ew. No. I know I'm worth a bloody million as it is and boys are freaking disgusting. I think I'll pass."
"You have no romantic bone in your body!" she cried, flicking her wand so that her pillow zoomed off her bed and hit Dahlia in the face. "I don't understand why you don't like guys."
"Because girls are superior."
"Once again," Alice sighed with an amused roll of her eyes, "I have to remind you that you can't say stuff like that. It's sexist."
"It's fact. Besides, fancying a guy doesn't make you feel good about yourself, it makes you feel shit. You worry about whether you look pretty and attractive and whether he'll want to kiss you or shag you and half of the time, people are crying because of relationships and none of it is fucking necessary." She spat the words with derision.
"That's why I don't crush on people," Cassidy interjected in a matter of fact voice. "It's so much more simpler to snog or hook up without any strings attached. You're satisfied and sane."
"But there's no romance," Reagan said. "I know I haven't ever really gotten with a guy - other than a couple of snogs at parties when I was drunk - but I know that I'd prefer some stability and romance over casual sex."
"Romance is overrated."
Knowing she might regret this, Nova said, "I don't think it is. I don't want a relationship that's really cringy and full of PDA, but I think the small things are what you're really after, aren't you? Not just the sex."
Instantly, the girls were on her like vultures. Cassidy leant forward with a mischevious gleam in her eyes.
"But if Albus Potter walked into this dormitory right now - naked - and said that he was ready to shag you all night long, would you not do it?"
Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. The thought of the Slytherin casually strolling in with no clothes on and that half-smile of his made her feel flustered. On the outside, however, she tried to maintain normal.
"Probably not, no. I'd rather not have casual sex with him and then continue to fancy him, knowing that he doesn't feel the same way," she said truthfully.
"You're so deceptively human, Hale."
"And you're a homewrecker, Greengrass," she retorted.
Cass' lips curved into a slow, saccharine smile. "And loving it."
"Putting homewrecking aside," Reagan said dismissively, "why don't you tell us about how you got a crush on Albus Potter? Oh, and why? Oh, and when? Oh, and anything that's happened between you? Oh, and -"
"Shouldn't you already know this?" Dahlia snorted. "You're her best friend."
"Nova's been keeping a tight lid on this information, you see."
And rightly so. When she'd had a crush on Josh Finch-Fletchley back in first year, she'd still been friends with the other girls in her year, having shared a dormitory with them. But somewhere down the line, they'd decided that she wasn't pretty enough or skinny enough or cool enough without informing her so when she'd confessed her feelings for the nerdy, lovable 'Puff, they had made sure he found out about it and had publicly humiliated her, simply because they'd been petty and spiteful twelve year olds. She had never really forgiven them for that.
The feelings she had for Albus Potter echoed those that she'd once had for Josh Finch-Fletchely, except they were stronger and naturally more, well, mature. But the essentials were there: she still had butterflies and thought about him a lot and felt warm inside whenever he did something that made her fall for him even more.
And even though she had complete faith in her closest, truest friends, there was still a little bit of her that was afraid of opening up about her feelings.
"I just - I don't want to make a big deal out of it," she said. "I probably won't date him. It's just a . . . phase."
"Oh, don't be like that!"
"If you like him, try to be with him," Nala advised, looking scandalised at Nova's statement. "I mean, what's the point otherwise?"
"There is no point." She scowled. "I didn't choose to fancy him. If I had a choice, I probably wouldn't have done it at all. But for some reason, I'm attracted to him, okay? It doesn't mean I'm going to go over to him and ask him out." She'd rather fantasise about doing that.
"But why not?" she whined. She even stomped her legs like a little girl. "Let us live through you. If one of us is going to date someone famous, why can't it be you?"
"Because I don't give a shit about dating someone famous."
"Then why fancy him?" She pouted. There was a mewl as Fat Ginger padded over, detecting that she was upset and settled into her lap to allow her to stroke him. She sank her fingers into his back and continued, "Why let yourself go through the pain and effort of liking him and not do anything about it? I don't understand."
"I do. Boys are pathetic."
"Shut the fuck up, Dahlia! We're trying to get Nova a husband!"
Nova sighed. Leaning back, she pressed herself against Reagan and tipped her head to look at the ceiling. "I fancy him because . . . I don't know why. It's more than his looks, I know that - but I don't know what it is exactly. He just interests me."
"I understand you, babe," Reagan said reassuringly, patting her on the arm.
"Me too." Alice beamed at her.
"I don't," Dahlia scoffed. "I told you: girls are better. If you're going to date someone, date a woman. You can have intelligent conversation and have a partner that actually understands you."
"Are you interested in girls?" Reagan asked curiously.
"Nah. I don't think I've ever been interested in someone. I've never felt the need to be with someone or just hook up with them as a one-off thing. It's not something that's ever appealed to me. But if I did want to hop on the broomstick, I'd find a girl to settle down with so I don't feel a deep urge to die after spending too long with her."
"I knew you always fancied me," Alice said abruptly. "You've been playing hard to get all these years, but now I know the truth."
"You sicken me."
"You love me."
"You look like a hippogriff."
"Oi," Cass reprimanded, smacking her on the back of her head. "Don't insult our Alice like that."
Alice only grinned. "Don't worry, Cass. It's another one of her games. I'm onto you, you sly minx." She winked rougishly at Dahlia who pretended to vomit. After they'd finished laughing, Alice then turned to Nova. "Oh, and Nova, I know that you said you're not planning on dating him, but if you ever change your mind, I can sort of nudge him in your direction. You know, since I've known him since the day I was born."
Nala's face lit up at this possibility. "Yay! Do it!"
"No," Nova said at the same time. "If anything's going to happen, I'll do it myself."
Really, she should've known better. Though Dahlia gave literally no fucks about dating, the others were quite the opposite, even if they hadn't been in many significant relationships. And when someone made a statement like that in the same room as Cassidy Greengrass, the girl who grew up surrounded by Slytherins, they were asking for it, really.
"So do it," the girl in question said challengingly. She leant forward again. "Flirt with him. I dare you."
With many people, this statement might've seemed unimpressive. Weak. But midway through fifth year, when Alice went through a period of feeling inadequate because she wasn't a Gryffindor like her dad, they'd called the Girl Code into effect and promised to go through with whatever dares they doled out in order to make her feel better (if they were given a majority vote, of course).
And you couldn't just break the Girl Code.
"I'd rather not," Nova still said.
"But I think you're going to have to," smirked Cass. She cocked her head at the others. "What do you think?"
And so Nova Hale was betrayed by her closest friends when everyone but Reagan voted for her to carry out the dare for the next twenty four hours. Yes, even Dahlia 'No Fucks' Darzi had voted for it.
"I fucking hate you," the victim was saying five minutes later after she finished swearing at the top of her lungs. She ran a hand through her hair in distress. "I can't believe you're making me do this."
"It's the Girl Code."
Damn the Girl Code. How was she supposed to flirt with Albus Potter? She'd never flirted with anyone in her life! She wasn't Cass, she couldn't just walk up to someone and be able to persuade them to snog her in under ten minutes. She wasn't Alice who was literally Hogwarts' sweetheart since she was a Longbottom and genuinely nice. She wasn't even Nala who was freaking gorgeous. Boys did not pay attention to her and she didn't (usually) pay attention to them so there was never any need to flirt.
She was going to look like a bloody idiot.
"Well, if I'm going to humiliate myself, so are you lot," she snapped, drawing herself up. "All of you. Even you, Reagan."
"But I voted against it!"
"Yes, but you're my best friend. It's your duty to join me in my pain."
". . . I fucking hate having a best friend."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: So this was only supposed to be the first half of CH2, but somehow ended up being 5K words and I don't really want to cut any of it down so we'll make the second half CH3.
So. . . what do you think? Do you like the thought of Albus and Nova together? Do they have a ship name (that doesn't sound awful)? Thoughts on Dahlia's view on men? ;) Lemme know in the review box below!
Also I'm upping the 'scenes of a mild sexual nature' to 'scenes of a sexual nature' purely because they mention sex a fair bit in this chapter and I just wanted to be safer than sorry.
edit 28/02/16: ci added
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