Disclaimer: It's all JKRS. And sorry for the fact that this formatting is yet again, terrible. I'm trying to figure out why it comes out weird but it's taking me a while.
“So, guess what I heard,” Dom stated, raising her eyebrow challengingly at Scorpius.
“What?” Scorpius responded flatly, not looking up from the large sheet of parchment set out in front of him. He’d been studying it for the past hour and scribbling Quidditch plays left and right, preparing for today’s tryouts.
I was sitting next to Scorpius, studying, as we had come to do a lot lately. He was the only one out of the group that could actually work silently. Gryffin and Molly hated studying, Dom and Freddy were naturally smart, and Rose always studied over my shoulder and would explain the chapters to me despite the fact that I didn’t ask. Scorpius was the only person I could tolerate studying by. Except for James that is.
But then again, I didn’t really study with him. I just tended to somehow… be around him, despite the fact that he was in the year above me. I always went to breakfast super early, because I still hadn’t adjusted to waking up later, and we would always be the only two people in the Great Hall for those few hours before everyone started to trickle in.
I also watched him fly. Over the past week, I had made a habit out of going to the Owlery just to see him. James would always come out around the same time, about a quarter to midnight, and I would sit there for the hour or two that he would fly. There was just something so… freeing about watching him fly, and I couldn’t keep myself from not watching him.
“I said guess,” Dom complained, pouting.
“Because I don’t like to guess.”
“Well then you’re not going to hear what I have to say!”
“Fine,” Scorpius stated, unfazed. He looked back down at the parchment, and continued writing as if he hadn’t been interrupted.
I looked at Dom, knowing she wouldn’t be pleased that Scorpius didn’t care what she had to say. True to my thoughts, she was staring at Scorpius with a miffed expression.
“Well,” Dom tried. “You’re going to wish I told you, because it’s some interesting news.”
“Sucks for me then.”
“So interesting,” Dom responded as if Scorpius hadn’t spoken, “That you’ll regret me not telling you for the rest of your life.”
“The regret has already started—”
“And you want to know why, you’ll regret it?” Dom continued, narrowing her eyes at Scorpius.
“Because it has to do with… Quidditch.”
Scorpius’ nonchalant expression immediately stiffened, and he snapped his head up to look at Dom. She smirked.
“What is it Dom?”
“So now you want to know—”
“Dom just cut the shit and tell him,” I interrupted, finally having enough of her dramatics.
“Well, someone sure has taken after Molly this morning, haven’t they?” Dom stated, turning to me and putting her hands on her hips.
I rolled my eyes and looked back down at the textbook I was currently studying. I’d been trying to do as much homework I could this morning, since I would be busy today. Even though it was Saturday and I should be getting a break, I was going to have to go to the Billboard revealing in Diagon Alley. It was supposed to last all day, so getting my homework done this weekend was going to be an issue.
“Dom, just tell me what you heard,” Scorpius said, diverting her attention away from me and back to him.
“Fine, but only because you asked so nicely,” Dom said, heaving a sigh as if it was taking her a great deal to speak. “I heard from Hattie who heard from Lisa who heard from Jason who heard from Al that James is going to seeker tryouts.”
Scorpius’ expression changed from mild interest to full attention as soon as Dom said this. I tried a bit harder to contain my curiosity, and instead kept my eyes on my textbook. “Really? Are you sure? Al himself said that?”
“Yup,” Dom said, nodding her head. “And if anyone knows the happenings of James Potter, it’s going to be Al.”
Scorpius’ eyes met Dom’s and they stared at each other for a long moment. Then Scorpius shrugged. “I don’t buy it,” he said shaking his head and breaking the staring match.
“Believe what you will,” Dom said, shrugging. “We’ll find out today anyway.”
“It’s been floating around that he’d to return to the team for the past six months,” Scorpius stated again more to himself then to Dom. “I’m not going to get my hopes up.”
“But this time we have a more reliable source,” Dom offered.
“Al is not reliable,” Scorpius said, an icy tone creeping into his voice. “He’s a Slytherin that loves to mess with our team. I don’t trust him.”
“You’re forgetting,” Dom said with a bit more power behind her voice, “that he’s also the only one James talks to besides Lily. Maybe he actually knows.”
“Or maybe he doesn’t,” Scorpius snapped. “We were better friends with James than Al ever was! Don’t you think he would tell us before Al?”
Dom let out a long breath after Scorpius said this, blowing some loose hair out of her face, “I don’t know, Scorp. I just don’t know.”
I wanted to ask so many questions; I wanted to know what they were talking about for once. And with this thought, I began to open my mouth, feeling a rush of confidence that maybe I could be in on the loop, when Dom snapped her head towards me. She opened her mouth and spoke instead.
“Hey, Tash, don’t you have that billboard thingy today?”
“Yeah,” I responded slowly, not sure where she was going with her question.
“Well don’t you need to get ready for it?” Dom asked again.
I looked at the magic clock that was hanging above the mantle of the fireplace, and saw that I had only a couple of hours to get ready. Which in the pageant world wasn’t that much time.
“Yeah I do,” I responded, swallowing down all the questions at the tip of my tongue. Instead I closed my textbook and got up from the couch I was sitting on. “Thanks for the reminder.”
“No problem,” Dom responded back lightly.
I began trudging up the staircase, my mind racing with everything I had heard. With everything I had wanted to know. With all the questions I had been about to fire at Dom.
I guess I could always ask her tomorrow.
“Oh honey,” My mother exclaimed as soon as I stepped out of the fireplace. “I missed you so much!”
Before I could respond, I felt my mum immediately wrap her arms around me, squeezing me tight.
“I missed you too, mum,” I responded with a forced smile, not quite sure if I meant it.
My mum smiled at me broadly, before pulling away from me and inspecting how I looked: baby pink dress, white blazer, bronze wedges, Miss Teen Witch sash and crown. I noticed my mum’s smile falter after inspecting me, and I found myself nervously smoothing down my hair, which I had spent two hours curling, and running my tongue over my teeth to make sure no lip gloss had wound up where it shouldn’t.
“I thought you were going to wear your green dress?” my mother asked.
I found myself hide a look of annoyance, and instead responded with, “I couldn’t find it,” which seemed to satisfy my mother for the time being.
I was lying if you couldn’t tell. The green dress was way too uncomfortable for me to be willing to wear, so I had opted out of it, hoping my mum wouldn’t notice. But of course she’d noticed. She’s my mum. What else did I expect?
“Well,” My mother said, smoothing down the pants of her navy blue suit, “Georgiana’s waiting for us to meet up with her before we reveal the billboard to Diagon Alley. After the revealing, you’ll have a quick interview with the Daily Profit, and you’ll head back to school. Sound okay?”
I sighed as I thought about the mountain of Transfiguration homework that I still had to finish. While I was happy to be at school, I had not expected there to be as much homework as there had been lately. Not that the homework was particularly hard, there was just a lot of it, which made things start to pile up.
“Sounds great, mum,” I lied, as she lightly grabbed my arm and guided me through the winding hallways of the building we were waiting in, before heading out to the cobblestoned streets of Diagon Alley.
My mother stopped in her tracks as we neared where my billboard would be revealed and I heard her inhale a breath. She placed a hand over her heart. “Oh Nata, look at that!”
I looked up at the large rectangle that was sitting on a platform in the heart of Diagon Alley with a white tarp draped over it. It was my billboard. Which would have… my face on it.
I gave an absent smile to my mother and we continued forward to the area Georgiana had set aside for us.
“Natasha! Don’t you look beautiful,” a voice I recognized as Georgiana’s called as soon as my mother and I reached the roped off area up on the platform in front of the billboard. There was a large crowd of people, mostly younger girls, that were trying to get as close as they could to the platform I was now on. A couple of them shouted my name and took pictures, which I was almost sure were unflattering.
I turned around to see Georgiana, wearing a sleek black suit and her ever-present red lipstick with her blonde hair clipped to the top of her head. She immediately walked over to me, her catlike smile perched on her lips as she grabbed me by the shoulders and air-kissed each of my cheeks.
“And Miranda, it’s great to see you again,” Georgiana said, turning to my mother and giving her the same greetings.
“Good to see you too,” My mum responded with a smile.
Georgiana then turned back to me. “So Natasha, tell me how school is going?”
My mum immediately snapped her head towards me, and narrowed her eyes the slightest bit.
“School’s great!” I forced out with a fake-enthusiastic tone. “I’m really learning a lot.”
“Good, good,” Georgiana said absentmindedly. “I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about the idea, but I already have a bunch of magazines asking me to do an interview with you on life at Hogwarts.”
“That’s great!” my mother said, her tight smile widening into a real one.
“It is,” Georgiana agreed. “So, have you made friends?”
I suddenly felt really uncomfortable under Georgiana’s gaze. “Uh,” I started, “I’ve made a couple…. My best friend Dom I knew beforehand so I stick with her and her mates.”
“Mhmm,” Georgiana said, “so that means no boys I hope?”
I suddenly thought about Griffin, Scorpius and Freddy. I spent as much time with them as I had with Rose, Dom, and Molly, since they were always together, but they probably didn’t consider me a friend. I mean, I was just a friend by association. They wouldn’t talk to me if I didn’t know Dom. I guess there was James…. But we haven’t actually even talked, so he didn’t count either. He’d barely said more than a couple words to me.
“Nope,” I responded with a tight smile.
“Good girl,” Georgiana said nodding with her catlike smile back on her face. “I knew I could trust letting you go to the school.”
“Of course you could,” my mum interjected. “Natasha always does as she’s told.”
I noticed though that as she said this she was looking more at me. As if pointing out that in order to go to Hogwarts, I hadn’t done any of the things I was told. I felt a wave of guilt wash over me.
There was suddenly a buzzing noise coming from Georgiana and she pulled out a WizTalkie from her suit pocket and held it up to her ear, turning away from us in order to hear.
“Everything’s ready to go, Georgiana,” a muffled voice said from the WizTalkie; the crackle of the reception made him barely understandable.
“Got it, Rick,” Georgiana responded into the WizTalkie. She turned a couple of dials on the WizTalkie and then put it back into her pocket, turning around to face me and my mum again.
“Alright, we’re all set to start. I’m going to give my introduction speech and you’ll sit up here while I do,” Georgiana gestured to the line of chairs on the platform filled with ministry officials as she said this, “and then you’ll come up, thank everyone, yada yada, and pull down the tarp. Okay?”
“Okay,” I responded automatically, watching as Georgiana turned sharply on one pointy heel before walking to the podium that was set in the middle of the platform. It was the same shade of pink as Georgiana’s office walls.
I quickly said goodbye to my mother, who wasn’t able to go onstage, and took a seat at the line of chairs that were behind the podium. I crossed my legs in a very ladylike fashion and folded my hands neatly in my lap, placing a smile onto my face as I stared up at Georgiana who began to speak.
“Welcome everyone to an exciting addition to Diagon Alley! We are here to reveal the first ever billboard of our newest Miss Teen Witch: Natasha Lee Covington…”
My eyes were glued however to the area by the side of the audience my mum was standing in. She was staring at me, her expression one of pure bliss. Something I still wasn’t used to after the couple of weeks she had ignored me, up until I left for Hogwarts. She mouthed her usual ‘I’m so proud of you’ to me and I smiled back at her. But the thing was I wasn’t sure if I believed her. I think she was only proud of the fact that I was here, doing exactly as she wanted, for her perfect little world.
“Well aren’t you a sight to see?” Dom stated dramatically, putting a hand over her heart as I stepped out of the common room fireplace. Molly and Rose, who were both doing homework, looked up at me at Dom’s words. Rose nodded her approval, while Molly began to clap slowly.
“You look, if possible, even prissier than usual,” Molly responded. “Congrats.”
I felt myself feel very self-conscious, while Rose whacked Molly on the arm.
“OW!” Molly exclaimed, rubbing her arm as she glared at Rose.
“Molly, that was really rude,” Rose stated.
“What?” Molly asked, looking confused. “It’s true, no offense.” She looked at me after she said this.
“None taken….” I said unsure whether or not I should’ve taken offense.
In all honesty, I was incredibly tired and didn’t really have the energy to figure out what Molly meant. I had been spending all day talking to younger girls my age, and also dealing with Georgiana’s powerful presence while my mum continued to pretend I could do no wrong as a daughter. And now, it was nearing midnight and I still had a bunch of homework to finish.
“Molly, sometimes I wonder whether or not you have a filter,” Dom stated, looking down at her nails as she said this.
“Of course she doesn’t,” Rose said back automatically. “Why else would we be all she had?”
“I’m really offended,” Molly said, looking back and forth at Dom and Rose.
“But it’s true,” Dom chimed in. “I mean, tell me how many seventh year girls you’re friends with?”
“I hate them so I choose not to be friends with them,” Molly said, sticking her nose up in the air.
“Mhmm,” Rose said giving Molly a disbelieving look. “And how many friends do you have that aren’t your family?”
Molly started to fidget uncomfortably and then she looked away from Rose and towards me. “Natasha,” Molly stated, leaving no room for argument.
I felt myself become totally flabbergasted at her words. Molly… thought of me… as a friend? Was that even possible?
“You just insulted her,” Dom stated. “Friends don’t insult each other.”
“Oh shut up you self righteous bint. Natasha, we’re friends, aren’t we?” Molly said, looking to me with a hopeful look in her eyes.
“Um… yeah, sure,” I answered not sure if she meant it.
Molly turned back to face Dom and Rose, and stuck her tongue out at them. “See? I am sociable.”
“Tashy’s just too nice to disagree with you. You are a very intimidating person you know,” Dom said.
“No I’m not,” Molly argued and then turned to me, since I had somehow become her confidant in the past five minutes. “I’m approachable, right?”
“Er…” I trailed off, trying to think of what to say. Should I actually respond?
“Point proven,” Dom said whipping her hair over her shoulder and shooting Molly a winning look. “In Tashy language, that means no.”
“No it doesn’t,” I defended. “I just wasn’t sure if it was rhetorical.”
“Why would it be rhetorical?” Molly asked.
“Because why would you honestly ask that question!” Dom argued. “You’re the opposite of approachable!”
“That’s not what I meant…” I started to say, but Molly cut me off.
“But I am approachable!” Molly said, glaring at Dom. “People approach me all the time.”
“And you scare them away with threats!” Dom added. “Admit it Molly, you are as unapproachable as it gets.”
“Dom, can you just calm down and stop trying to make Molly feel bad?” Rose said, feeling it was her time to cut into the conversation. “What’s up with you?”
“Nothing,” Dom said, letting out a sigh.
“It’s not nothing,” Molly badgered, still a bit miffed. “I can tell when you’re lying you know. You always do that weird squinty eye thing.”
“I do not have a squinty eye!” Dom argued.
“Dom, stop avoiding the question and tell us what’s wrong,” Rose commanded. Her and Dom made eye contact for several minutes, before Dom looked away.
“Okay…. fine,” Dom said, throwing herself back even farther into the couch. “It’s just... me and the guys all thought James was going to come to try outs, and he didn’t show.”
I stood there awkwardly, not sure if I should join into the conversation. Rose placed a hand on Dom’s shoulder. “We need to let it go. Okay? James will come back in his own time.”
“I know,” Dom said, nodding her head. “But sometimes I feel like he won’t.”
It completely baffled me seeing this side of Dom. Whenever we hung out, she never discussed things like this to me. She was always strong and sure of herself. I found myself suddenly feel like maybe I didn’t know Dom at all. I didn’t know all of these secrets she kept discussing, I didn’t know about the James issue. Was I even her best friend? And if I wasn’t her best friend, than who was I? Miss Teen Witch? Was that all I was?
I suddenly didn’t want to know the answer to any of these questions.
“Well,” I said, taking my crown off of my head and shaking out my curls, “I’m going to go to the Owlery and to send my mum a letter to let her know I got back.”
Dom looked as though she was about to say something but Rose spoke before her, “Okay, Tash, be back soon, yeah?”
“’Course,” I responded easily.
I walked out of the common room, while searching through my purse for a piece of parchment to write a letter to my mum. I’d been keeping up with the charade of my cell phone not working in the school, so that my mum wouldn’t suspect I’d been avoiding her texts, which meant I now could only send her letters.
Once I reached the Owlery, I quickly put the parchment I had found up to the wall and scrawled a quick letter to my mum letting her I was safe and that I loved her and such. When I tied the letter to one of the school owls and watched as it flew out of the window, I looked outside to see James entering the pitch at his usual time, a broom slung over his shoulder.
And suddenly, I found myself not wanting to leave the Owlery so that I could watch him fly. There was something so peaceful about the way her arced around the sky. Like a bird without wings. And after the day I’d had, I deserved to feel at peace, if only for the small amount of time James flew.
So I leant against the Owlery walls, like I found myself doing a lot lately, and watched him. I almost had his moves memorized. He always started with a kick off, and then he’d do a couple of laps around the pitch, followed by three different dives, and then loops along with more un-choreographed flying maneuvers.
I watched as he kicked off the ground and do his laps, and right when I expected him to start his dives he started to hover instead. He slowly turned his broom right towards the Owlery and I noticed his head lean to the side as his eyes squinted. I stayed completely still as he looked, and he shook his head and turned back around. However, right when I let out the breath I’d been holding, he abruptly whipped his broom around and sped towards the open window I was currently peering out of. I found myself tense at his increasing proximity until suddenly he was through the window, hovering in front of me on his broom.
We looked at each other for a long moment. James stared at me with a serious expression while I began to internally panic about the fact that he probably thought I was psychotic. His hazel eyes were a dark blue-green color and his bottom lip jutted out just the tiniest bit. It was as though he were trying to figure me out.
Then, James spoke. “Get on.”
A/N: So I'm terribly sorry about the long long long wait. I really hope I haven't lost all my readers for this story! I've really been just so swamped with work and what not, that while I've been wanting to write, I've had to do college apps or homework or projects or studying or internship crap.
I don't think I've seen my friends outside of school in what feels like ages... So you guys are a step up from them, eh?
Anyways, please let me know what you thought about the chapter! While it took a while to come out, I'm fairly pleased with it. And what do you think about the cliffie? Actually, what do you think about everything? I know a few of you have been asking me about Al, so I decided to give a little snippet of him into the chapter, to hopefully tide you over until he comes more into play.
Anyways, thank you all for being such amazing readers and please review to let me know what you think about the chapter!