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How not to be a Woodley by NH Stadler

Format: Novel
Chapters: 32
Word Count: 142,969
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Humor, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Albus, James (II), OC
Pairings: James/OC, Harry/Ginny, Teddy/Victoire, OC/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 09/18/2014
Last Chapter: 04/26/2018
Last Updated: 04/26/2018



*Dobby Award 2017 Best Post-Hogwarts*
*Dobby Award 2017 Best OC*
*Dobby Award 2017 Best Plot Twist*
*Dobby Award 2017 Most Original Fic*


Spectacular rumours, shocking plots, and outrageous family expectations.
Can you feel the pressure?
I know I do.

Chapter 19: Into the Lion's Den

Into the Lion’s Den


Katie narrowed her bright blue eyes and pursed her lips, reminding me a little of the tiny freshwater plimpies that lived in the pond behind our house. I could practically feel her thought process as she watched me from her perch on her unmade bed, her legs crossed and her hands gripping her knees; she was itching to contradict me - to tell me that I had imagined James not really wanting to ask me to come to the party and that it was stupid to trust Vala, who had never really cared for me before.

But she didn’t. And somehow, this made it worse.

“I’m not going,” I said stubbornly, sitting down on my bed with my arms folded tightly in front of my chest.

“I didn’t say you should,” Katie replied, still acting way too calm; usually, the potential invitation to a Gryffindor common room party would have made her squeal with excitement, but, until now, she hadn’t even so much as squeaked.

It was weird.

“Good. Because I won’t.” I was well aware that I sounded a little like a moody toddler, but I couldn’t help it; somehow Katie’s refusal to challenge me on my decision had caught me off-guard.

“I mean, if avoiding Potter solves all of my problems, I’d be stupid not to do it.” I only just refrained from adding a questioning ‘right?’ at the end and instead swallowed the half-formed word again.

“Yep.” Katie shifted her position so that her head was now propped up on her elbows, which rested on her knees. She didn’t say anything else, but I could see it in her face; she was fighting the urge to speak her mind.

“I mean, I don’t even like James, so it’s really a win-win situation for me.” I had slid off my mattress and started pacing in front of my bed again. Katie simply smiled slightly, which made me even warier.

“Although, it’ll look like I’d actually let a bunch of lunatics scare me into hiding.” The thought didn’t sit well with me; I wasn’t sure why, but the idea of letting some immature girls get to me like that just felt wrong.

“Why was Vala there?” Katie suddenly interrupted my train of thoughts, giving me a quizzical look. “I mean, how did she know where to find you?”

I only looked at her for a moment, realising that - with the general absurdity of the situation - I hadn’t even thought about this until now. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that I had run into my cousin; she must have been waiting there for me, in the dark, forsaken corridor.

Images began to swirl in my head - Vala’s strange, long cloak. the way she had literally attacked me and dragged me into the alcove; I could feel a great lump forming in the pit of my stomach and finally stopped pacing in front of my four-poster, snatching my wand from my nightstand.

“We’re going.”

“What?” Katie sounded clueless, but she followed me nonetheless as I marched towards the door. “But - where?”

I took a deep breath, feeling a surge of reckless bravery tingling in my limbs as I turned to face my best friend. “Into the lion’s den.”




            “You know, maybe we should go,” Sam whispered next to me, his eyes still glued to the towering painting of the Fat Lady, who famously guarded the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. He had been sitting in the Ravenclaw common room, watching Hector Chang and Adina Singer snogging ostentatiously for the entire world to see, and the expression on his face had seemed to get gloomier with every second.

We couldn’t have left him there, really.

“No,” I said, sounding much braver than I really felt. “We’re going in.” It was the first time I had been invited to the Gryffindor common room and - while I liked to tell myself that it really was no big deal - the prospect of facing what - or rather who - was inside, made my stomach churn.

“OK great,” Katie said on my other side. “Could we just maybe try to look a little less intimidated?”

She was right, of course. I couldn’t go in there looking like I was scared; even if there were a bunch of groupies out there, who probably wanted to claw my eyes out. What I needed was composure.

“Right,” I sighed and looked up at the Fat Lady, who had started to languidly inspect her nails, pretending she had not been listening to our conversation. “Um, cornua arborea?”

“Is that a question?” She inspected me slowly, her dark eyebrows  raised suspiciously as her gaze wandered  from my white linen trainers up to my messy blonde waves,

            “Um, no?”

            The Fat Lady rolled her heavily made-up eyes, but her portrait swung forward nonetheless, releasing a sudden burst of loud music and bubbly voices that spilled into the dark corridor, filling the silent castle with life. A glowing cylinder of light came from the door-shaped hole in the wall, which had been revealed by the portrait, opening the view to a dimly lit room that seemed to be bursting with people.

            “Oh, don’t mind me,” the muffled voice of the Fat Lady made me snap out of my daze momentarily. “I’m just hanging around here.”

            “Right, sorry!” I called and, with Katie and Sam following in my wake, I climbed through the hole, ignoring the voice in my head that told me to run into the other direction.




            Considering what I had heard about Gryffindor parties - including thrilling tales of impromptu sword fights - it really wasn’t that bad. At least it was much better than the Halloween party; the common room looked actually cosy and inviting, with fires and candles casting a warm glow over red velvet wingback chairs and haphazardly placed coffee tables. Groups of people were either sprawled over the chairs and sofas or stood huddled together in circles, talking over the moderately loud music that seemed to come from no visible source.

A couple of them had glanced into our direction when they had noticed the portrait hole opening, but hadn’t seemed particularly surprised to find a couple of Ravenclaws crashing their party. I supposed it wasn’t uncommon for people of other houses to be invited, although I could tell that we were definitely outnumbered.

“So, should we just, uh.” Sam scratched the back of his head, looking slightly lost as he scanned the vast room; like Ravenclaw tower, Gryffindor common room had adapted to the growing number of students, expanding magically over the years and adding bits and pieces whenever needed.

“Get drinks?” Katie supplied, nodding towards a couple of tables in the corner which were laden with all sorts of alcoholics. “Yeah, I think that’s a great idea.”

She led us to the makeshift bar-area and immediately began to grab various bottles, pouring them into three plastic cups. Sam was watching her with wide eyes, looking fascinated.

“I didn’t know you can mix drinks.”

“She can’t,” I said, rolling my eyes. “She’s just randomly pouring things together.”

I had to admit that it did look rather purposeful, but after more than five years of being friends with Katie, I knew that she was simply going for the bottles that looked the flashiest.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not good,” she said in a sing-songy voice, thrusting a cup into each of our hands. “Cheers!”

“Cheers,” Sam and I echoed, lifting the cups to our mouths. The moment the liquid touched my lips, I felt the strong urge to gag; an overdose of sugary sweetness combined with artificial flavours numbed my mouth for an instance, but I swallowed, forcing the drink down my throat until only a burning sensation was left.

“That was horrible,” Sam gasped in between coughs. “Can I get another one?”

“Sure.” Katie beamed, taking the empty cup out of his hand. “Seth?”

I quickly shook my head, indicating my still rather full plastic cup. After that drink, I was sure I wouldn’t need anything else tonight but a good headache cure. “I’m fine. You two go ahead.”

As Katie and Sam crowded around the surprisingly well-stocked bar, I took the opportunity to look around a bit, taking in the scene while nibbling half-heartedly on my toxic drink; Since I didn’t have any Gryffindor friends, I had never been in Gryffindor tower before and, even though the tower was similar to Ravenclaw, the common room looked completely different. Naturally, there was a lot of red and gold in form of banners and posters, but there were also less bookshelves crowding the high walls, creating a lofty atmosphere. More cosy lounging opportunities were grouped around low-slung tables, now laden with bowls of crisps, sundry wrapping papers, and plastic cups, making the place look more like a trendy coffee shop than a boarding school common room.

“Is it weird that I’m kind of disappointed you’re not wearing pyjamas?” a deep voice suddenly said next to my ear and I jumped, spilling bits of the disgusting drink on my white jumper.

“Sorry,” James said, obviously trying to keep a straight face, but a smile was tugging at the corners of his mouth as he examined the blue drops of liquid on my top. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t,” I said defiantly, wiping my sticky hands on my jeans. “I just, um, tripped.”

“Right.” James smirked before taking a sip from his own drink. “You seem to trip a lot when I’m around.”

“Dear Merlin,” I sighed and rolled my eyes, though, strangely, I wasn’t as annoyed by his arrogance as usual. Most probably it was Katie’s toxic drink, but it almost seemed endearing. “You’re right; my world revolves around you, James Potter.”

He merely laughed and lifted his cup to his mouth again without breaking eye contact. For some reason, he seemed to be studying my face, like he was trying to measure every inch of it, and I could feel my cheeks heat up. Yet, I held his gaze.

I wasn’t going to back down.

“What are you doing?” I finally asked, managing to sound playful rather than nervous. The bronze specks in his eyes had a compelling glow to them in the warm candle light and I couldn’t help feeling that if he stared at me just a second longer, I might forget that I actually didn’t like him.

“I’m trying to figure you out, Woodley,” he said calmly, not smiling this time but, instead, moving a little closer.

I swallowed, shifting my weight uneasily as I forced myself to stand my ground.

“And?” My mouth had gone dry but I still managed to raise an eyebrow, hoping that I looked unimpressed and not absolutely terrified.

James frowned, which, unfortunately, didn’t distract from his admittedly quite handsome features. I didn’t want to notice his chiselled jaw-line or the spot where I knew to be a dimple when he smiled, but suddenly there seemed to be little else to look at.

“I can’t,” he said and I could feel my legs twitching; my entire body pushed backwards, telling me to move, but I was strangely paralysed. It was simply ridiculous, the idea of someone finding it difficult to figure me out; I wasn’t exactly mysterious.

“You can’t have tried really hard then, Potter,” I laughed, trying to bring this conversation back to a less awkward level. I couldn’t deal with - well, whatever this was -  and my head was starting to get dizzy.

James grinned, although it wasn’t his usual cocky grin. “I think you underestimate yourself, Lizzy.”

I simply shook my head and leaned against the wall as another wave of dizziness caught me by surprise. The air in the room was hot and heavy and I couldn’t help feeling like it was going to smother me any second.

“Hey, are you alright?” James’s voice seemed to come from somewhere far away but I could tell that it sounded worried. “You look pale.”

“Yeah, sure,” I panted, surprised at how breathy I sounded. “I’m fine. I just need to -”

James had grabbed my arms, just before I would have lost my balance and tumbled over. All of my limbs felt heavy and sluggish, as though I needed extra strength to control them, and I couldn’t think straight anymore. Random thoughts seemed to chase each other in my mind, making it impossible to even formulate a sentence.

            “Elizabeth!” James’s voice echoed somewhere in my head. “Hey! What’s wrong?”

He was behind a glass wall.

            I was behind a glass wall.

            A glass box?

            And then, I fell into a deep, black hole.





            She was blurry at first; a blend of dark brown and white that hovered above me, breathing onto my face. Only after I had blinked a couple of times, her face came into focus and her fierce brown eyes narrowed dangerously.

            “What the hell -” I wanted to scream but all that came out was a miserable croaky sound. My throat was bone-dry, like I hadn’t swallowed for days, and every syllable that tried to push through my vocal chords hurt.

            “What on earth do you think you’re doing?” Vala hissed, her face still only inches from mine. “I told you to stay away from Potter.”

            I was completely confused and disoriented, struggling to make sense of this situation. I had no idea how Vala managed to sneak into Ravenclaw tower in the middle of the night, but she was definitely not supposed to be here.

“What are you doing here?” I still sounded like a bulldozer had ran up and down my throat, but at least the fog inside my head was lifting, allowing me to think a little clearer.

“Do you ever listen to anyone?” She snapped under her breath, completely ignoring my question. She was obviously furious with me but I had no idea why. “That’s just like that one time we all got new dresses from Grandmother and you jumped into the Carmichaels’ muddy pond to catch an ugly tote.”

I did remember the Carmichaels’ pond and the tote, which I had named Cinnamon, but I still had no clue what Vala was trying to tell me. Had she snuck into my dormitory just to remind me that I had ruined an impossibly expensive dress as a toddler?

“How did you even get in here?” I demanded, trying to sit up, just to fall back down onto my pillow again as Vala’s face started spinning wildly. Something was wrong with my head; it felt too light and too heavy at the same time, like it had collided with a rogue bludger.

“Do you know where you are?” Vala asked, her expression softening up just a little bit.

I frowned, feeling like this was quite a strange question, considering the circumstances. “Of course I know where I am. What kind of question is that?” I tried to lift my head once again, but gave up eventually; all the dizziness was making me nauseous. “I’m in my dorm room.”

Despite all the angry tension in her face, I thought I could detect a hint of sympathy as Vala watched my futile struggle to force my body into an upright position. “Seth, you’re in the hospital wing,” she sighed.

“What?” I asked incredulously, but even as I said it, I knew that she was telling the truth; around me, the clean white-sheeted beds were empty and the faint smell of disinfecting potion lingered in the air. Images came rushing back into my head, filling the empty spaces, I hadn’t even been aware of just a second ago: I had been on a party - the Gryffindor common room - and then there was James Potter’s face, way too close.

“What happened?” I rasped, willing my heavy eyelids to stay open; it felt like I had been running a marathon, only without the endorphin-high.

“I warned you.” Vala’s lips tightened and her gaze became harder again. “They aren’t joking. Not about James Potter. Just - stay away, okay?”

“But-” I wanted to protest - to tell her that I wasn’t even interested in James; that I wasn’t scared of some loony fangirls - but my words blended to a mere slur and I gave up. I was tired and exhausted and my surroundings seemed to be slipping away like they were nothing more but a strange dream.

“You need rest.” Vala decided. “Don’t tell anyone I was here.”



Pale light flooded the airy room when I woke up again. I didn’t know how long I had been sleeping; it could have been a couple of hours or a couple of days. My body felt tired and weak, but the light-headedness seemed to have gotten better and I managed to sit up without collapsing immediately again.

“Finally,” Katie sighed, dropping the glossy magazine she had been reading onto her lap. “I thought you’d never wake up.” She made it sound like she was joking, but I could hear the concern through her chipper pretence.

“How long have I been out?” I groaned, not sure if I even wanted to know. “I feel like I’ve been in this bed forever.”

“Two and a half days,” Katie said, obviously trying to sound as casual as possible. “It’s not like you’ve missed anything. Hogwarts is as boring as ever.”

I managed a weak laugh but my throat was still parched and rough, making laughing rather painful. “So, it’s what - Tuesday?” I turned towards the window next to my bed where snow was slowly building up on the ledge; judging by the weak light it must have been late afternoon.

“Yup.” Katie nodded, fumbling with the thin pages of her magazine. “Sam has just left for the Prefect meeting and, um, Bernice brought you these.” She indicated a large box filled with chocolate frogs. “I might have eaten a couple of them.”

I laughed, but stopped immediately when a sharp jolt of pain shot through my body. “What happened? I mean, I can only remember feeling dizzy and then -”

Katie nodded. “Yeah, James told us.”

“James?” I felt a sudden surge of panic; the thought of having done something stupid under the influence of some intoxicating party potion made my stomach clench, but Katie, who seemed to realise what I was thinking, quickly shook her head and put a soothing hand onto my arm.

“You didn’t do anything embarrassing. It wasn’t like when I drank that Crapula potion. You simply got dizzy and passed out.”

I let the information sink in for a moment, but it wasn’t exactly reassuring. “So, it wasn’t Crapula?” I asked, watching in horror as Katie’s face paled. I hadn’t even considered any other explanation until now.

“No,” she said quietly, shaking her head. “It took them a while to figure out but apparently someone slipped you badly brewed Pustula potion.”

What?” I jolted up, ignoring the stinging pain in my head; images of pimply faces and acne-scarred features I had seen in some of my potions books pushed to the surface, making my blood run cold. Immediately, I pressed my palms to my face, feeling for grooves or bumps that were not supposed to be there, but it felt just as it always did.

“It didn’t do anything to your appearance,” Katie said quickly, “like I said, it was poorly done.”

My heart was still racing, but I forced myself to slow down my breathing as I leaned back against the bedhead. Vala was right, whoever had done this wasn’t joking; As funny as it might have sounded, slipping Pustula potion into someone’s drink wasn’t a mere schoolgirl prank. The effects it caused, if brewed correctly, were awful and sometimes even irreversible. 

“Are you okay?” Katie asked softly, squeezing my arm.

“Yeah,” I sighed, though fear was still coursing through my body, making me want to hide underneath my blanket. “I think so.”

It grew silent for a moment and I watched Katie shifting in her seat uncomfortably; she was chewing on her lips, which usually meant she silently debated whether or not to tell me something. It was so familiar and normal, that it instantly made me feel better,

“Spill it out, Kat.”

She looked up, her front teeth biting down on her bottom lip as though she was attempting to eat it.

“James carried you up here. Like, in his arms.”

“Oh no,” I groaned, pulling my blanket up to my nose. This wasn’t good; it was terrible, actually. If Vala was right and I was being targeted because of the rumours surrounding James and me, this was only going to make things worse. I really wasn’t keen to learn what people, who didn’t shy away from using amateur black market potions, were capable of doing.

“How bad are the rumours?”

“Not bad, really,” Katie said weirdly, shifting in her seat again. “Actually, the rumours about you and James they’re -well - old news.”

If she hadn’t looked so serious, I would have thought she was lying to make me feel better. After weeks of spinning all kinds of lurid tales about my non-existent relationship with James Potter, it seemed impossible that people would just let this go.

“He’s - um - apparently James is dating Fern Sterling. From Slytherin. He asked her to come to Slughorn’s Christmas party with him and, well-” she finished lamely.

“Oh - um - wow,” I stammered, sitting up a little straighter; my heart was suddenly beating unnaturally hard against my chest, which I attributed to the aftermath of being poisoned, and I felt slightly lightheaded. “Um, since when?”

“Since Sunday, I think.” Katie gave me a weird smile that looked a lot like pity. “But - that’s good, right? I mean-”

“Yeah, absolutely!” I said quickly, my voice sounding unnaturally high. “It’s great!”

Maybe I had sounded a tad too enthusiastic, since Katie gave me a strange look, but I really meant it. James officially dating someone, solved all of my problems; no more ridiculous rumours, no more crazy fangirl attacks, and, most importantly, no more James Potter.

“Are you sure?” Katie asked, raising her eyebrows and giving me a stern look. I simply rolled my eyes in response; it was ridiculous to think that there could have ever been more than a couple of tutoring lessons and accusations of stalking. James Potter simply wasn’t that boy and I - well, I had never been that girl.

“Of course I am sure!” I tried to laugh but it came out more like a raspy cough. “Stop looking at me like this. I don’t like James, OK?”

Katie still looked doubtful, but the creases on her forehead softened and she sighed in defeat, apparently deciding - most probably for my sake - to let this argument go.

“Fine,” she sighed and picked up the magazine from her lap, practically shoving it in front of my face. “What do you think about this?”

I blinked, trying to focus on the colourful page. “What, the article on dirty talk?”

“No.” She rolled her eyes as though it should have been obvious what she was talking about. “The dress. I want to get one like this for Sluggy’s party. Do you think I’ll find one in Hogsmeade?”

Suddenly, there was a soft click, indicating that someone had entered the hospital wing, and both Katie and I immediately turned our heads towards the door; looking a little lost with a bunch of squashed flowers clenched in his hands, was Tarquin Digby, staring back at us like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Oh, um, I’m sorry,” he stammered, pushing the black-framed glasses up the bridge of his slender nose. “I didn’t know - um - I thought you’d be alone and I wanted to-” He indicated the flowers, of which some where already hanging their heads.

“That’s so sweet of you,” I said quickly and - ignoring Katie’s death glare - waved him over to my bedside. “Come on, sit down. There must be a vase somewhere.”

 Tarquin seemed reluctant to follow my invitation at first, but, after a short moment of hesitation, he finally came over and put the flowers in the empty vase on my nightstand. Only now that I saw them from up close, I realised that they weren’t actually flowers but quite well-scented herbs that reminded me of summers in Greece.

“They’re Nepemi,” he explained awkwardly, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his skinny jeans. “I got them from Greenhouse five; their scent keeps away nightmares.”

“Thank you Quinn, that’s really nice,” I said, smiling. “Isn’t it, Kat?”

Katie, who had resorted to staring out the window, merely shrugged, not even deigning to acknowledge Tarquin’s presence. He seemed to imitate her behaviour, stubbornly staring at his shoes, his lips pressed together as though he was holding something in. They could barely look at each other and I hated it; most of all, because it could have been so easy, if they just stopped acting like idiots.

“Well, I should - um - go, I guess,” he stammered after an awkward period of silence, sneaking a covert glance at Katie, who was still pretending to watch the snowstorm outside. “I still have to - uh - do things.”

“Um, sure,” I said weirdly, feeling a little bad for him. “Thanks for stopping by, though.”

He gave me a weak smile before he turned and left the hospital wing again; only when the door had snapped close behind him, Katie let out an exasperated groan.

“Can you believe him?”

“I can’t believe both of you, actually.”

“Whatever,” Katie grumbled, pulling her legs up on her chair and wrapping her arms around them. “He’s going to Slughorn’s party. With Cecily Winterberg.”

I didn’t even know who this Cecily Winterberg was supposed to be, but I decided that it wasn’t the right time for further inquiries. With Katie and Tarquin avoiding each other, Sam and Hector denying each other and, well, James and his new girlfriend in love, this Christmas party was practically destined to suck.

Big time.





            Winter at Hogwarts was magical. Of course, everything at Hogwarts was magical, but there was something about the crackling fires and the scent of conifers filling the corridors that put you into the mood for Christmas like nothing else. A thick blanket of snow covered the castle and Hagrid’s cabin looked like a life-sized gingerbread hut, nestled to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, whose snow-covered trees glittered in the pale winter sunlight.

It could have been so peaceful, really.

If it hadn’t been for the throng of overly-excited girls, pushing through the narrow doors of WitchWear, a small Hogsmeade shop that clearly wasn’t built to cater to so many people at once. Even from the other side of the street, it was possible to tell that there was a fair amount of shoving and scratching going on, as even more girls tried to fight their way through the mob.

“So desperate.” Katie rolled her eyes, although I could tell that she was slightly disappointed; just like these girls, we had ventured into Hogsmeade, braving the icy streets and cold wind, to buy an outfit for Slughorn’s Christmas party.

“Do we have to go in there?” Sam asked feebly, his eyes wide with shock as he watched a petite blonde whacking the girl in front of her with her tiny handbag.

It really wasn’t pretty.

“No,” Katie sighed, somewhat wistfully. “Let’s move on.”

There weren’t many alternatives when it came to shopping in Hogsmeade; Most stores only sold stationery supplies or groceries and, of course, traditional wizard’s robes, which made WitchWear really the only clothing store in town that actually catered to a younger clientele. It was therefore no surprise that, when we entered the small charity shop at the end of the street, it was almost completely empty.

“Hey guys!” A young witch sitting behind a wooden counter called out lazily without looking up from her magazine. “Feel free to browse. Everything on the right side is 20 % off.” She gestured half-heartedly towards a colourful assortment of clothes, popping her chewing gum.

“What a service,” Katie mumbled and, only grudgingly, followed me towards the section labelled ‘dresses’.





            The crowd in front of WitchWear seemed to have grown even bigger, as we walked back down the street, swinging our Hogsfam shopping bags and sipping on paper cups, filled with Madame Puddifoot’s scolding hot Christmas punch. It was slowly getting darker and the fairy lights that were draped across trees and building entrances lit up, dipping the whole town into a festive light. It had started to snow again and I took a deep breath, inhaling the clean, cold air.

            “I’m in love with my dress,” Katie announced, padding her shopping bag affectionately. “And everything else I bought.”

Considering that she had been rather reluctant at first, she had quite enjoyed herself and ended up cleaning out half of the shop. Once we had sorted through the voluminous Victorian frocks, Hogsfam had turned out to have quite an admirable selection of nice clothes.

            “You should be.” I laughed. “You spent your entire pocket money on those clothes.”

            Katie simply shrugged. “Yeah well - it’s for a good cause, isn’t it?”

“You’re such a selfless person,” I teased, lifting my steaming cup to my mouth to take another careful sip.

“Oh James!” Someone suddenly shouted next to me and almost simultaneously, I felt something heavy bump into me from the side. Instinctively, I tried to swerve, but it was too late; the impact had knocked the paper cup out of my hand, causing the searing hot punch to spill all over my woolly coat and my jeans, burning even through the fabric.

I winced at the sudden surge of pain, still too perplexed to realise what had hit me, when suddenly a girl’s voice piped up angrily next to me.

“Can’t you, like, watch where you’re going?”

I looked up at the petite blonde, who had narrowed her pale green eyes at me; she looked vaguely familiar and, even though I was more than a head taller than her, she seemed to be looking down on me.

Much worse, however, was the look on James Potter’s face, who stood next to her, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans. I hadn’t seen him since waking up in the hospital wing on Tuesday and it felt unexpectedly weird. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but he regarded me with such indifference that a cold shiver ran down my spine; it was like he didn’t even know me.

“Sorry, didn’t see you there,” he said casually and I couldn’t help feeling like someone had thrown me back in time. I didn’t expect him to be nice, but he could have at least asked how I was doing after what had happened last weekend.

“Apparently,” I said, trying to mimic his casual tone.

“Babe, come on. Let’s go,” Fern urged, tugging on his sleeve until he finally yielded. I didn’t watch him walk away, but instead bent down to pick up the now empty paper cup that bore Madame Puddifoot’s cheerful logo. Apparently, I had been right after all; James Potter was an arrogant, selfish git.



A/N: It took me forever. I know. And all I can say is, I’m sorry. I’m having quite a stressful couple of weeks but after next week, the semester will be over and I’ll have time to write full-time again :). I still hope you enjoy this chapter and I would love to hear your thoughts, wishes and, of course, theories :). Again, I want to thank all of the wonderful people who favour and review and give this story so much love… you people are awesome. It can’t be said often enough.

Your awesomeness is simply beyond words.