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Something About James Potter by argetlam shadeslayer

Format: Novel
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 29,719
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Fluff, General, Humor
Characters: Teddy, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Victoire, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/OC, Harry/Ginny, James/Lily, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius

First Published: 06/18/2011
Last Chapter: 07/30/2012
Last Updated: 10/07/2012

Summary:



I swear to Cumberbatch, I will die of a broken heart.

 


Chapter 1: Simply All a Dither
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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.







  Absolutely beautiful chapter image by BitterSweetFlames at TDA


 




This has to be another one of my bad dreams.

Only in some cruel, alternate universe where Blast-Ended Skrewts are considered domesticated pets and that cow Rita Skeeter can get away with cradle-snatching, would this have happened.

Actually, come to think of it, thanks to people like Hagrid and the editors of the Daily Prophet, both of the aforementioned are something of a regularity.

But I digress.

What was McGonagall thinking? Has she gone mental?

Well, obviously not, if she's just made me Head Girl ― literally; I received the owl this morning at breakfast ― but as for the new Head Boy...

I shake my head furiously against my pillow, similarly to a dog dispelling its sopping wet mane of water droplets after a bath gone pear-shaped, and squeeze my eyes tightly shut.

How could this have happened? 

Where did I go wrong?

I ate my brussels sprouts.

I did my Transfiguration homework.

I even bought Mrs. Norris a deluxe scratching post from Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley once, purely out of the goodness of my heart.

It gives off an everlasting scent of the cat's choosing (probably the smell of fear in small children or Filch's aftershave), magically refurbishes itself every twenty-four hours, and even sings a different verse from "Odo the Hero" on the hour.

Although, the witch who owns the menagerie sold it to me for a discounted fourteen Sickles less than its original price, since it just recently began singing verses from something called "Frodo the Gyro" instead.

So, perhaps I could have gone wrong somewhere in the last six years, but what have I ever done in my time at Hogwarts to deserve this morning's unfortunate post from my best mate, Dom Weasley?

Our owls must have crossed in midair, since I had just sent Marigold with a letter of my good news ― Head Girl, I've been dreaming of it since I was made Gryffindor prefect in fifth year ― and received Dom's owl, Anouk, just minutes after.

"Why?" I groan to the ceiling, my eyes tracing the ornate white trim bordering my bedroom, half-expecting the ceiling to answer.

It never did, by the way, thanks for wondering.

Not that I don't love being Muggleborn ― I do, really ― but I have a feeling that if I came from a magical family, the matter of my ceiling actually talking back to me might be a different one.

Then again, perhaps this only adds to my overall madness.

At that last word ― "madness" ― my thoughts churn uneasily back to Professor McGonagall and whatever brain damage she seems to have suffered since the summer holidays began and she chose a Head Boy. 

I know she's been through quite a bit, that woman, what with becoming Deputy Headmistress immediately after Dumbledore died in the Great War, but she is getting on in years, and I wonder if her judgement hasn't been skewered by old age and her odd taste in tartan-patterned hats.

"Rory, darling?" My mum pokes her head through my open door. 

"Unnnggnhh," I respond intelligently. 

"I've brought you cream teas," she says brightly, bustling through the door frame and revealing a tray laden with scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream, and the special tea she reserves for me whenever I'm upset.

For whatever reason, Mum thinks putting the kettle on is a vast improvement to any situation. "You accidentally tucked your skirt into your tights while you were wearing your knickers with the Hungarian Horntails on them? Never mind that, sweets, we'll sort it out, but how about a cup of tea? And what exactly is a Hungarian Whatsit?"

She really is too kind, my mother. First, she gives birth to me; then, she brings me cream teas in bed. 

They honestly don't make them like that anymore.

"Thanks, Mum." I arrange myself into a cross-legged position on my bed and she perches on the edge of my comforter, setting the tray between us. There is a long moment of silence before either of us speaks; lost in thought, I pour Mum a cuppa, fixing it just the way she likes it, and hand it to her.

"Thank you, dear." She stirs her tea thoughtfully and crosses one leg diffidently over the other as she faces me. "Now, would you like to tell me what's bothering you?"

I finger the ornate pattern on my own dainty teacup. "I'm just a bit nettled, is all." Of course, I'm stretching the truth, since I'm currently feeling a lovely mixture of anger, exasperation, misery, and a strong desire to hex someone, and my mother seems to know better.

She did give me life, after all.

"Aurora Abigail Pond," she says sternly, setting her teacup down to turn her full attention to glaring at me. She only whips out my full name when she means business. "You've been wallowing in bed since breakfast. Dominique will be here soon, and you haven't even changed out of your pyjamas."

"There is much truth in both of those statements," I comment, sipping my tea delicately.

Since I received Dom's abrupt letter, I've been sprawled out on my bed, counting the threads in my quilt. However, Dom and I previously arranged to meet later on this day and go into Diagon Alley together to meet the rest of the Wotter (read: Weasley-Potter) clan for our bridesmaid fittings. 

Thank the Lord, Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley are finally getting married this summer. We've been waiting on them for ages. It's been all over the Daily Prophet since they announced the date, and Witch Weekly has even gone and named Teddy "Most Bewitching Bachelor of 2022".

Which makes this his third (and, well, last) year in a row at the top of the list. His female admirers are so ardent, he practically needs a tidy bit of Polyjuice Potion and Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder just to venture into the supermarket. 

"Well, are you going to go out looking like that?" Mum asks waspishly.

"Looking like what?" I demand.

"Like you've been lying in bed since breakfast," says Mum obviously, referring to my scanty clothes ― so sue me, it's the middle of June ― and wild auburn hair.

I roll my eyes. "Shouldn't it please you to know that I don't particularly care how I look? It's what's inside that counts, isn't it?"

Mum narrows her eyes. "You're hiding something."

"I have nothing to hide from the woman who gave me life," I state loftily.

"Ha!" she snorts. "Your nostrils are flaring."

"They are not!" I gasp, my hand flying to my nose. Sure enough, my nostrils are wider than Professor Slughorn's waistband.

I've got to start taping those puppies down.

"How did you know?" I say miserably, my attitude deflating as I nibble at a scone.

"I did give you life, after all," Mum points out. 

Touché.

"Now, out with it!"

I swill my last few dregs of tea, handing Mum my empty cup, which she refills, and swipe some clotted cream on my last bite of scone. "Well, I received a bit of post this morning after you left the kitchen...."

"Go on," prompts Mum, passing me my replenished teacup.

Sip. Scald. Swallow. Stall. "There were two letters," I say evasively, massaging my throat.

"I'm so thrilled you can count!" she cries gaily, pouring herself another cup. "Primary school has certainly paid off. Now, get on it with it."

I grimace. "Well, the first one was from Hogwarts...."

"What did it say?" asks Mum sharply, her teacup nearly running-eth over as she continues pouring.

"Mum, mind your tea."

"Oh!" She plucks a napkin off the tray while simultaneously attempting to drink what threatens to spill onto the cream-colored carpet. "Sorry, sorry...."

"ImayhamaHeaGirl," I mumble quickly, hoping she won't catch it.

"What's that, dear?" Mum raises her head from the teacup, her top lip inundated with a cream mustache.

I take a deep breath and try again. "I, er, made Head Girl."

Mum freezes, then flings her arms around me joyously. "Oh, Rory! Oh, sweetheart, I knew you would, I just knew it, you're just so brilliant and talented and clever, of course they'd make you Head Girl! Oh, I'm simply all a dither...."

"Mum..."

"Wait 'til your father hears this, he's going to be so pleased! We're both just so proud of you...I know! Let's throw you a party! You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

"Mum ― "

"...I don't know if it's too late of a notice to ring the petting zoo, but we can certainly try booking them, dear, don't despair ― "

"Mother!"

"Yes, dear?" Mum's face is flushed with excitement as she pulls back.

"You've, erm, got a bit of a cream mustache. Just there," I say awkwardly, gesturing.

"Oh!" She dabs at her lip with a napkin. "Better?"

"And...there's more," I say meekly.

"More?" she echoes, confused as she swipes her lip furiously with the napkin. "More cream?"

I shake my head. "No. I mean, I received another letter right after the first. From Dom." 

As much as I adore my best friend, her owl couldn't have been more ill-timed. It's rotten luck to greet an owl bearing the best news I've had since the start of summer hols, only to be followed by another owl conveying quite possibly what is the worst news I've ever heard. 

"Well, go on, then," prompts Mum, considerably calmer.

"It was about the Head Boy," I start, my mouth drier than the powder Mum uses in her Fruity Fiesta blancmange.

Mum clasps her hands together delightedly. "Have you found out who it is, then?"

I open my mouth to confirm the news aloud, but am miraculously saved by the bell. The doorbell, that is.

"Who on earth could that ― "

"You just stay here, Mum, let me get that!" I say quickly, hopping up off of the bed. "Just relax, enjoy some tea, I'll only be gone for a moment ― "

"Don't think this means you're off the hook, Rory!" my mother calls as I rush down the corridor and pause in front of the hanging mirror in the parlour.

"We'll see about that," I mutter, running my fingers through my hair and straightening my vest and shorts. The doorbell rings again. "Coming!" I yell.

Who in blazes would come calling before ten o'clock on a Saturday morning? Dom's not due for another hour.

"Rory," I hear my mother's voice float down the hallway, "are you going to answer that or shall I?"

"On it!" I respond, but suddenly she's appeared right behind me.

"Answer the door, or else you can tell me who made Head Boy," says Mum puckishly.

"You wish," I laugh, grasping the handle and swinging the door open, only to find my worst nightmare grinning cheekily at me. My mouth opens and closes like a goldfish's, seemingly of its own unattractive volition, as I stare in horror at the source of all this morning's whinging and moaning and into the handsome, smirking face of the new Head Boy.

"Alright, Aurora? Or I should I say, Head Girl?"

"Mum," I manage to say weakly, by way of an introduction after a moment's ringing silence, "you remember James Potter?"

 



Author's Note: Hi, again! I know I probably shouldn't be working on more than one story at a time (Lord knows I'm meticulous enough that it takes me ages to write just one chapter, and here I am about to post yet another story), but this one keeps flitting around in my head, so here it is. I hope you enjoyed it. Thoughts? Lemme know in a review. 


Chapter 2: Seeemply Magnifique
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Disclaimer: Sadly, I own nothing you recognize. At least this plot is my own. Wheeeee!






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Gorgeous chapter image by kaileena_sands at TDA






"Good morning, Mrs. Pond," says James Potter smoothly, appearing quite pleased with himself on our front doorstep, his tousled, dark hair appearing windswept as ever, though no broomstick is in sight.

Apparently, no one's told him that looking as though he's stuck his wand in an electrical socket isn't all that attractive.

Mum smiles warmly as she bustles past me to shake his hand. "James Potter! Of course I remember, nice to see you again, dear. How are your lovely parents?"

"They're quite well," Potter answers politely with a small smile. "They send you their best, as well as Mr. Pond. And Aurora." Potter's eyes meet mine for a moment as I stand there, utterly gob-smacked and slightly furious. 

"Potter," I say, through slightly gritted teeth, "what a pleasant surprise. What brings you here, all the way from Devon?"

He raises an eyebrow skeptically, clearly sensing my discomfort. "I just thought I'd pop by ― literally, I guess ― and congratulate you on making Head Girl." Grinning cheekily at me, he adds, somewhat lamely, "So, er, congratulations."

"Oh, how sweet of you, James!" Mum gushes. "Isn't that sweet of him, Rory?"

"Yeah, it sure is," I say sarcastically, stifling an eye roll, "but hang on ― did you Apparate here?"

Potter's grin becomes sheepish. "No, my birthday's not until the twenty-seventh of July."

"Then how did you get here?" I ask curiously. 

"I Apparated with ― "

"I HAND YOU HER BLOODY ADDRESS, AND YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST GO TRAIPSING THROUGHOUT CLAPHAM, I SWEAR, JAMES, THAT'S THE LAST TIME I LET YOU SIDE-ALONG ― "

"Dom," Potter and I finish with identical grins.

"If you ever leave me like that again," Dom snarls at Potter, tossing her strawberry-blonde hair over her shoulder as she storms her way through our front lawn, her eyes like ice chips, "I swear, I'll tell Uncle Harry that it was you who took his Firebolt from the trophy case without permission, and not Albus."

Potter at least has the proper decency to look abashed. "I've told you, Dad already suspects, and besides, I just wanted to congratulate ― "

"Morning, Rory," says Dom brightly, ignoring him as she turns to me. "Hello, Mrs. Pond."

"Hello again, Dominique," replies Mum dryly. "That was quite an entrance you made."

"Yes, well, my dear cousin just had to see darling Rory," says Dom, smirking, and Potter blushes. "We were meant to arrive together, but he obviously couldn't wait any longer once word got out at the Potters' that I'd be seeing her before our robe fittings."

Her sharp gaze passing between Potter and me with a look far too knowing for my comfort, Mum remarks, at length, "I see. Well, James, I'm delighted you're here, I had no idea you would be coming as well ― "

"Neither did I," mutters Dom, glaring at Potter, who stares pointedly at the grass.

" ― but since it's rather boiling out here," Mum continues amiably, "why don't we come inside and I'll make us all some nice, cold lemonade?"

There is a cacophony of "Excellent!", "Yes, please!", and "I love you," and, appearing quite bolstered at our hearty assent, Mum persists jovially, "And I've got some ginger biscuits in the oven as well!"

Potter, Dom, and I groan longingly in unison.

"We might as well celebrate," Mum prattles on, "now that we've got a Head Girl in the family!"

Dom swivels to me, her blue eyes widening. "Merlin, that's right!" Enveloping me in a brief hug, she says, beaming, "Congrats, Rory, I knew you'd get it."

"Thanks, Dom," I say sincerely, hugging her back. "I'm quite thrilled!"

Dom's smile becomes impish. "I'm sure James here is as well, aren't you, James?"

"Quite," Potter agrees, his hazel eyes sparkling as they lock with my emerald ones, as though we're meant to share some sort of beautiful moment and gaze into each other's souls. 

To be honest, the moment would really be beautiful if I could shove a broomstick up his arse.  

Like my mum says, we all have different ideas of beauty.

"I mean, of course you were a shoe-in for Head Girl," Dom says conversationally. "You're...well, you."

"Would a simple 'thanks' be appropriate?" I say uncertainly.

"But James, on the other hand," Dom goes on, her voice quaking with laughter, "well, nobody in her right mind would make him Head Boy." 

"Many thanks, Dom," says Potter sardonically.

I'm shaking my head frantically at her to stop speaking before my mother catches on, but I remain unnoticed.

"But then, here we are," Dom muses, gazing off toward Mrs. Next Door's runner beans. "Honestly, though, I can't see how it even happened."

Gesturing wildly with my hands, I'm making cutting motions across my throat, but Dom continues in astonishment now. 

Ah, well. When in crisis, start coughing uncomfortably like a tart in church.

Yet another thing my mum told me. She's full of all sorts of wonderful gems, that woman.

"Somehow ― probably after being Confunded, I'd reckon ― McGonagall thought it'd be a decent idea to make him Head ― Rory, are you alright?"

"Yes," I say acerbically, pulling the reins on my uncontrollable coughing fit. "Corking."

"Are you sure?" Potter asks, concerned, looking for all the world as though he'd love nothing more than to give me the Heimlich manoeuvre, or at least some sort of manoeuvre that involves copping a feel.

"Rory," Mum says dangerously, closing in on me, "is there something you'd like to tell me?"

"Erm...no?" I suggest, backing away from her and bumping right into Potter with a squeak. He steadies me with his arms, and I stiffen like a frightened rabbit, hurriedly stepping away from him. 

The disappointed look on his face is so priceless it's almost cute.

And by cute, I mean weird. Like, plucking-the-wings-off-of-butterflies weird. Not at all cute as in 'attractive in a pretty or endearing way'.

After all, that would be like comparing James Potter to a kitten. 

He's nowhere near as cute, and is only slightly less furry.

"I think, Mrs. Pond," Potter offers helpfully, evidently missing the point of my dramatic diversion moments ago, "Aurora just needs a glass of water."

"Oh, no," says Mum slowly, advancing toward me with a strangely frightening glint in her eye. "She's fine ― although she'll probably need that glass of water when I'm through with her."

Potter's brow furrows. "Er, why exactly is that, Mrs. Pond?"

"All the running I'll be doing," I explain nervously, taking a cautious step back.

"Running?" echoes Potter, his forehead creased in confusion.

"Running away," I amend, intending to do just that, but I am impeded by Dom's sudden, vice-like grip on my arm.

"Hang on."

"I'd really rather not, if you don't mind," I say with what is clearly a jaunty, winning smile, masking my trepidation with a stab at false cheerfulness. "Mum's going to have my skin for a cloak here in a moment...."

"Well, if you'd just tell me what you're hiding," sniffs Mum, crossing her arms with a pout.

"I'm not hiding anything," I reply automatically, the result of a knee-jerk reaction trained to withstand Mum's artful prying.

"Don't even kid yourself, Rory. Your nostrils are massive right now."

"Er, ladies," Potter begins perplexedly, "what's going on?"

Dom turns to me, her eyes widening in sudden comprehension. "You didn't tell her."

"Now, Dom," I reply hastily, attempting to prise her fingers from my arm, one by one, "let's not be rash ― "

"You didn't tell her?" she repeats incredulously.

"Tell me what?" Mum nearly yells, throwing her hands in the air. "This isn't Skins, Rory ― I'm your mother!"

Potter glances worriedly at each Dom, whispering, "Mrs. Pond isn't into cannibalism, is she?"

Cowering slightly, I allow the words to tumble from my lips with a whoosh of air. "James made Head Boy."

There is a lengthy beat of silence.

Literally, a haystack could tumble by with McGonagall riding astride it in a ten-gallon hat, and no one would utter a word. Then again, if that actually transpired, I highly doubt words would suffice in such a situation.

I wonder vaguely if I should offer to make tea.

"Oh, James, darling!" Mum finally cries, breaking the agonising silence and pulling him into a hug. "That's absolutely marvellous! Congratulations, dear, I bet you're just thrilled, and I'm sure you parents are well chuffed...."

"Thanks, Mrs. Pond," says Potter, rather dazedly. I try to catch his eye by way of apology, but he determinedly avoids my gaze. I suppose I can't blame him, really.

"Why didn't you tell her?" asks Dom quietly, softly enough that only I hear her.

I shrug unconvincingly. "I knew she'd act like this, didn't I?"

"Like what?" says Dom curiously.

"...and I'm sure you and Rory are going to be inseparable this year," Mum waffles on, shooting me a meaningful glance, "now that you're both Head Boy and Girl. Oh, I'm all a flutter! You two will be spending more time together, won't you?"

Translation: "You two will be providing me with grandchildren, won't you?"

Two spots of pink appear on Potter's cheeks. "That's the plan."

Dom and I exchange dark looks.

"Why did you owl me about it this morning?" I inquire, expecting my mother to hand Potter his own nightcap and house key any moment now.

"I just knew that it'd be a lot for you to take in," Dom says finally, grinning sheepishly. "You know, given how you feel about my cousin, and all."

I snort derisively. "Am I that obvious?"

"Almost as obvious as how he feels about you," retorts Dom, and we both dissolve into groans. 

Up until our third year at Hogwarts, Potter and I had gotten along rather famously, thanks to mine and Dom's friendship. At one point, I had even gladly called him by his first name, until he let his hormones ruin our quaint little friendship by asking me out on a regular basis. 

Initially, I was convinced it was a joke. It began with him telling me I looked pretty one day in the corridors, and this statement had set his friends laughing at both of us. From there, he progressed to boldly asking me out and teasing me in front of the whole school, and I became increasingly frustrated with him when we could no longer hold a civilised conversation without him acting like an insensitive, flirtatious prat. 

Needless to say, we reverted back to acquaintanceship after he kissed me in the Great Hall in our third year, to the raucous chants of the other boys egging him on. Since then, I've learned to tolerate him, but I've never quite forgiven him for ruining my first kiss in front of the entire school, the great prat.

"Want to know something, James?" asks Mum in an audible, conspiratorial whisper. 

"You know, Mum, I actually think he doesn't," I counter lightly, but she continues to ramble on without waiting for his reply.

"I always hoped you and Rory would get together, and now," she finishes excitedly, in that breathy, girlish voice she reserves for when Captain Jack appears on the television set in old reruns of Torchwood, though heaven knows he's getting on in years these days, "it seems like you two can finally get on!"

"Mum! Don't give him ideas!"

"Please, Mrs. Pond, don't get my hopes up," says Potter jokingly, but I notice he doesn't quite meet my mother's eyes. 

"Yes, please, Mrs. Pond," Dom parrots, "don't get his hopes up, otherwise, he won't stop harping on about it ― "

"Shut it, Dom," whinges Potter, elbowing her in the side.

Mum sighs heavily, surveying us with the sort of expression one associates with lost causes. "Can't say I didn't try. Well, dear, you're welcome over here any time, especially now that someone's told me you've made Head Boy" ― she glares forcefully at me ― "and I expect I'll be seeing more of you." 

Potter offers her a trademark charming smile. "Likewise, Mrs. Pond."

"Of course," Mum continues cheerfully, carefully watching my expression, "you and Rory can always pop round to that tea shop down the road and set up a date ― "

"Mother, please stop trying to get grandkids out of this, will you?"

"What?" she asks me tetchily. "You're Head Boy and Girl, aren't you going to need to get together and plan things?"

I roll my eyes. "Yes, but we'll be planning school things, not parenthood."

"Well, I should hope not!" cries Mum, appearing scandalised, but I can tell she's slightly disappointed.

"She's right, though, Aurora," Potter chimes in, his smile bordering on a triumphant smirk as he finally looks at me. "We're going to need to spend loads more time together, and what better time to start than now, eh?"

"Joy to the world," I deadpan, and his infuriating smirk only grows wider.

"Don't mind her," Mum says bracingly, patting Potter on the arm fondly. "She takes after me, I was just like her when I was her age." She lowers her voice. "She acts coy, but you can bet she'll warm up to you in no time, you know what they say about redheads ― "

"For heaven's sake, Mum!" 

"Well!" Dom clasps her hands together, surveying us all expectantly. "Now that's settled, how about some lemonade before we go?"

Mum instantly brightens and turns to Potter. "Help me in the kitchen, darling? You can slice the lemons if you like."

Potter grins, nodding at my mother. "I'd love to." He gives me one last, fleeting look ― I cross my eyes at him and stick out my tongue like the mature Head Girl I am ― and disappears into the house.

"Shall we follow?" I reluctantly ask Dom. "It's sweltering."

"Let's," she concurs, following me into the cool, air-conditioned reception room. "Besides, we've got to get you out of these," she says, tugging at my short shorts with a smirk, "and into some decent clothes, you tart." 

"Stuff it," I answer lazily, for even I can't work up the heart to mean it with Dom around.



*




"Ma cherie!" 

The three of us hardly flinch as Dominique's mum, Fleur Weasley, hurries ― no, glides ― over to us and embraces her daughter in a flurry of long, silvery hair and a light, pleasant floral perfume, murmuring in French. 

"Aurora, eet eez wonderful to see you again," Fleur greets me warmly, enveloping me in a hug and kissing both of my cheeks.

"Likewise, Mrs. Weasley," I reply, smiling, before allowing her to engulf Potter in a hug.

"Oh, non," she reprimands me over Potter's shoulder, shaking her flawless head, her lustrous hair swishing back and forth. "Non, non, non. 'Ow many times must I remind you, Aurora ― Mrs. Weasley eez my muzzer-in-law. Please call me Fleur," she adds kindly, after throwing a calculating look in Nana Weasley's direction, as though she, and not I, had committed the name faux-pas. "J'insiste." Patting my cheek dotingly, she gives me one last dazzling smile and floats away toward Victoire and the rest of the Weasley lot, who are deliberating over dress robes with all the panache of wizened O.W.L. examiners.

Truly, as much as I adore Dom's mother, hearing her say my name is rather painful, almost like having to listen to her choke on a tureen of bouillabaisse. 

"Rory!" I turn to see Rose Weasley, Dom's cousin, striding toward us, positively beaming. "It's great to see you!"

"Yes, eet eez just so woooonderful to see you again, Rory," adds Ginny Potter throatily, in a spot-on, if particularly phlegmy, impression of Fleur as she strolls casually up to us. "Seeemply magnifique! Can I offer you some baguette?"

Potter rolls his eyes and shoves his hands in his pockets, ever the poster boy for teen angst. "Come on, Mum, do you really have to do that when Aunt Fleur's just a few feet away?" 

Ginny snorts, tossing her glossy mane of red hair. "Oh, quit your whinging, James. You just don't want me to embarrass you in front of Rory." 

Potter scowls. "I honestly don't even know what you're on about ― "

"Seriously, James," replies Ginny frankly, crossing her arms, "all you ever talk about is Rory. You spend all your time chasing after her, it's no wonder you only got nine O.W.L.s last summer ― "

"Mum!" yelps Potter, his face glowing. "I do not ― I don't spend my time chasing after her!" he sputters. "James Sirius Potter does not chase after girls." He scoffs derisively. "Please."

Ginny sighs, tutting. "Well, sweetheart, I can't say I'm surprised. Your father and I always suspected that if it wasn't girls you were after ― "

"Ew, mum, that's not what I meant!" cries Potter, horrified. "I don't like boys!"

"Thank heavens," says Ginny lightly, grinning at Rose, Dom, and me. "We have enough of them in the house already."

Potter glares at the four of us. "Honestly, don't you lot have robes to try on?"

Smirking wickedly, Ginny reaches out quick as a flash to ruffle Potter's hair, and says sweetly, "We'll just be going now, won't we, girls? Cheers, James." As we head to the fitting rooms, Ginny winks at us and says slyly, "He may be nearly of age, but I'm his mum and I still get to take the mickey out of him whenever I please. See you soon, girls." With a swish of her brilliant red hair, she saunters over to an assistant eagerly waiting to drape her in robes and stick her with pins. 

"You know," Dom mentions casually, as we split up to be fitted for our bridesmaid robes, "I reckon that embarrassment will last James a tidy bit before he tries to ask you out again."

"Think so?" I remark curiously, hopping up onto a fitting stool and allowing a woman dressed in black to attack me with what appears to be a shapeless, light gold-coloured circus tent.

I see the silhouette of Dom's head nod from beneath her very own circus tent. "It's been, what, two hours? And no proposal yet from our charming friend."

I shrug, twitching slightly and letting out a small hiss of breath as an enchanted pin accidentally pricks me in the side. "Maybe he ― ouch! Would you quit that, please? ― maybe he's turning over a new leaf or something. Maybe," I end on a hopeful note, "he doesn't fancy me anymore!"

"Oi, Aurora!" Suddenly, Potter is at my side, owlishly blinking down at me as I perch on my stool, swallowed in gauzy fabric ― holy hippogriffs, he can't really be that tall, can he? The inscrutable expression on his face looks as though he's found out both his cat has died and he's made Head Boy, all on the same day. Then again, for all I know, that could very well be the case. Fate is cruel sometimes. "Could I, er, have a word? I need to ask you something."





Author's Note: Finally! I wanted to write more in this chapter, but I didn't want to make it overbearingly long, so I'm saving the start of the drama/action for the next chapter! Hopefully, you're still following this and haven't given up on me. If you are and haven't, please let me know what you thought in a review! Favorite quotes? Love Rory's mum? At the very least, I hope the dialogue cheered your day up. I always love hearing from you all. And thanks for reading!

- emma (:


Chapter 3: Simply Corking
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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. Also, credit is waaaay due to Nisha (the lovely faerieall), since I maybesortofjustalittlebit used the idea for the "Captain's Log" bit below from her outstanding fic, My Entirely Ridiculous 7th Year, as told by me, Nymphadora L. Tonks, which you should all go read right now. *whew*







 



"Can I have a word?" asks Potter, blinking down at me.

"She's quite busy being fitted, thank you," declares the squat, slightly frazzled-looking witch who is currently flitting about my form, sending a frown in Potter's direction as she flicks her wand irritably. The enchanted needle taking in my robes at the bodice becomes a bit too excited, inadvertently poking me in the ribs.

"Actually," I pipe up, grimacing as the needle pricks me again enthusiastically, "I feel like a short break." Jerking away from the hovering needle, I gather the hem of my shimmery, golden circus tent and hop down off the stool, much to the witch's displeasure. "Could you give us a moment, please?"

The witch huffs crossly, Summoning a racy-looking novel entitled Enchanted Encounters: Hogwarts, A Mystery.  "Fine. I haven't all day, though. Make it quick." With that, she disappears into a back room, leaving Potter, Dom, and me alone. 

"Oh, would you listen to that?" says Dom mischievously, poking her head from beneath her Hagrid-sized robes. "I think I hear Maman calling. I'll just, er, leave you to it, then...."

Captain's Log: June 16th, 2022. All is awkward on the western front, and I, Aurora Abigail Pond, have been cast out to sea, clinging soddenly to a floating preserver shared with life aquatic as charming and attractive as a sea slug ― also known as James Sirius Potter (or more widely hailed as Pratisaurus Rex). As it is apparently too late to send an SOS, I depart this earth with the final wish that my mother is informed that she is a brilliant but meddlesome harpy

"Well, this isn't awkward," comments Potter brightly.

I turn to him, folding my arms across my chest, partly in exasperation and partly due to my innate pleasure at denying him any ogling rights.

Serves him right.

We stand there for a moment, rather uncomfortably, and I'm just beginning to think that I'd rather kick puppies than suffer through this strange situation, when Potter suddenly blurts out, "I'm not here to ask you out."

I merely raise an eyebrow in response. 

"I'm not," Potter prattles on, quite nervously for someone who frequently suggests we should start knitting Weasley family sweaters of our own. "If that's what you think."

What exactly do I think? Well, one, I'd rather be caught dead in my Sherlock knickers than bear this prat's sprog, and two, he's got me sussed out faster than the women at Fenwick, who take my chest measurements without even lifting a finger. 

And I don't even have a chest. 

But, unfortunately ― three ― I'm also thinking that James is here to ask me out.

Which means, James Potter is accurately predicting my thoughts. 

Oh, Benedict Cumberbatch knickers, wherefore art thou? I'm ready to die now.

With some effort, I smile sweetly. "Wouldn't you like to know if that's what I think?"

"Oh, would I," mutters Potter, running a hand through his hair.

"Sorry, didn't catch that."

He blushes, his hand flying through his hair now as though it's on a hidden conveyor belt. "Er, nothing."

I sigh long-sufferingly, placing a hand on my hip. "Look, Potter, is there a point to this? Not that it truly matters, but I've got to get these robes tailored or Fleur'll be on me ― "

"Wangoweddingwime?"

"Bless you?"

Potter inhales sharply, something I'm beginning to notice he does quite a bit when he speaks. "I meant, do you want to go to the wedding with me? Aurora?" he adds, in that public school accent of his, with only a hint of the West Country lilt. Mind, he always pronounces my name in a way that makes me want to vomit from all the rainbows, unicorns, and pygmy puffs it inspires.

I hate him for it. I'd rather him sound like he's having trouble swallowing Hob Nobs than saying my name with such a loving caress.

It's a bit creepy, but in a slightly gratifying way.

By slightly gratifying, I really mean absurdly creepy and not at all nice.

Nice would be like describing a sweater set or tennis match, or even Margaret Thatcher's kneecap. Somehow, I just don't identify Potter with the same circle. 

"Potter," I say patiently, "if you weren't already aware by the tasteful yet revealing robes I'm currently sporting ― "

"Believe me, I'm aware," he replies huskily, his gaze glued to my chest.

" ― I will, of course, be attending the wedding, just like you," I finish calmly, snapping my fingers at him. "Up here, sweetheart. So, while I appreciate the invitation, I hardly find it necessary ― "

"Fleur says we have to bring dates," states Potter suddenly, crossing his arms with a definite ring of triumph in his voice.

"Sorry?" A slightly shaky, hollow laugh escapes my lips. "Surely I've misunderstood ― "

"Aunt Fleur says we have to bring dates," repeats Potter, the ghost of a smirk dancing across his striking features.

"You're joking," I finally manage to choke out, staring at him incredulously. 

Potter smiles enigmatically. "Wouldn't you like to think so?" 

"Well," I reply matter-of-factly, straightening as I regain my composure, "I'll just have to find a date, won't I?"

Instantaneously, the grin slides off of Potter's face. "It's obvious, isn't it?"

"What's obvious, Potter?" I say resignedly, impatiently brushing a strand of auburn hair away from my face.

He frowns, as though he's just seen Professor Flitwick amble by in a sequined frock and high heels. I surreptitiously glance over my shoulder, though, just to make sure. 

The coast is clear, and Professor Flitwick is still a bloke. 

For now. You never really can tell with him. He's far too keen on Charms for me not to be a concerned party.

"Just go with me," mumbles Potter, averting his eyes to the carpet. 

"I thought you weren't here to ask me out, James." I pause, pretending to ruminate over this as I pensively tap my chin with my pointer finger. "Or were my initial thoughts correct?"

He simply stares woodenly at me, his face ashen and hazel eyes wide. 

"Potter, are you alright?" I ask uncertainly. "You seem a bit peaky ― "

"James," he croaks, swallowing with difficulty. 

"Congratulations!" I say sardonically, clapping him on the shoulder. "You know your name! Would you like an award, eh, champ?"

He shakes his head vigorously, exhaling impatiently. "No, you called me James." 

"Look," I say archly, "I know you're a bit of a prat, but I'm hardly rude enough to pretend I haven't known you for seven years, so give me some credit ― "

"You called me by my first name," Potter says slowly, his glimmering eyes never leaving mine. "You haven't called me by my first name since I kissed you in third year."

How kind of you to remind me, Potter. If you hadn't awkwardly brought this up, I wouldn't be feeling particularly gutted in the least. 

"And so I haven't." I tilt my head curiously to the side. "Would you like it in writing?"

He takes an unforeseen step toward me, swiftly closing the gap between us, and the only thing separating our bodies is the wad of circus-tent-slash-robes I'm clutching anxiously as a barrier. "Just go with me," he murmurs, his face centimetres from mine, so close that I could count the freckles on his tanned nose if I so wished. 

Sarcasm ― the breakfast of champions.

Instead, I lean forward ever so slightly, pressing my free hand to his shoulder, and whisper, my lips all but brushing against his ear, "Well, let me think about it...." 

"Yes?" I hear him say breathlessly. 

I step back abruptly, crossing my arms smugly. "No."

Potter groans, passing a hand through his untidy hair. "Give me one good reason why not." 

"Give me one good reason why I should," I retort, surveying him with quirked eyebrows. 

"Because it's me?" he offers hopefully. 

"Make that ten good reasons."

He frowns at me. "You're serious?" 

"Actually," I reply with a wicked grin, circling him slowly while stroking my chin thoughtfully, "I am. If you really fancy me as your date, make me a list of ten good reasons why I should go with you ― "

"Are you mad?" exclaims Potter. "You are, aren't you? Merlin, tell me you're ― "

"I am not taking the mickey, Potter." I stop pacing, glaring forcefully at him. "You either want me to go with you or you don't, so which is it? Because I can ask anyone I darn well please, I don't need your permission ― "

Potter throws up his hands submissively. "I never said you needed my permission, because you obviously don't ― "

"You bet your sweet ascot I don't!" I continue heatedly. "If you think I'm going to be your date to the wedding just because it's you, you're so much thicker than I give you credit for!"

"Aurora, I ― " 

"Honestly," I fume, pacing again, "you're going to have to do a lot more than stick your wand in an electrical socket and ruffle your hair to make me reconsider!"

"What's an eclectical sogget?" asks James perplexedly.  

"I don't care what my mum says ― "

"Seriously, Rory ― " 

" ― I'd rather give birth to a litter of Blast-Ended Skrewts than have children with you, you pompous, insensitive ― "

"Alright, Aurora, you win!" yells Potter, tugging angrily at his hair. 

I halt in the middle of my tirade, mouth agape like a petrified goldfish. "Sorry?"

"You win."

"I ― what?"

"I'll give you your stupid list, alright?" Potter sighs defeatedly, embedding his hand in his raven tufts of hair. "Are you happy now?" 

I blink at him stupidly, my full steam having mysteriously disappeared, leaving only confusion in its wake. "Er, you will?" 

"Yes." Hesitantly, he takes a diminutive step forward, his hands dropping limply to his sides. "Yes. Of course I will."

"Alright, then," I say warily. "A list."

Blimey, I was only joking. Wasn't I?

"With five good reasons," he supplies helpfully, smiling as he takes another step toward me. 

I hold up a finger warningly. "Ten good reasons," I correct him. 

"Ten good reasons," he concedes reluctantly. "You're sure?"

I nod, smirking slightly. "I'll be needing ten, not five. But I can see how the 't' would confuse you."

After a moment's deliberation and an exchange of narrowed eyes between the two of us, he says quietly, "You'll have two weeks to decide. Until the wedding, that is." 

This time, I must work to refrain from snorting derisively. As if two weeks could persuade me to be this git's date. "Sure you don't want to throw in a Confundus charm?"

"I wouldn't need one," begins Potter hotly, "if you weren't too stubborn to realise ― "

"Realise what, Potter?" I say flatly. "That I'm somehow magically, hopelessly infatuated with you? Is that what I'm too stubborn to realise? Is that what you think?" 

He juts his chin forward defiantly. "Yeah. That's exactly what I think."

I laugh at the ridiculousness of such a notion. "I've heard of many things, but never of fancying a person so much that you don't even realise it! How silly of me not to have noticed! I suppose I should pay better attention!"

"You laugh," says Potter coolly, his eyes flashing, "but you've never even given me a chance ― "

"Oh, I've given you plenty of chances!" I snap, throwing my hands in the air. "I've given you countless chances to be friends ―"

"What if I don't want to be just friends?" he asks in a low, unsteady voice, swiftly closing the distance between us once more. "What if I want more than that?"

"And I suppose the best way to go about that is by asking me out ten times a day and making fun of me in front of the whole school?" I say acidly, my hands curling into fists. "Well done, it's really working, don't you think?"

He looks stung, as though I've slapped him in the face. "You think I'm making fun of you? You think I ask you out so often because I'm making fun of you?" 

"Well, you don't just throw away three years of friendship because you really rate someone, do you?" I retort, heat suffusing my cheeks. I honestly can't believe we're talking about this with half his blimmin' family in the next room.

Potter shakes his head with a bitter laugh. "I can't believe this. How daft are you, Aurora? You actually think that I don't genuinely ― "

"WILL YOU TWO PLEASE JUST SNOG ALREADY AND GET IT OVER WITH?" shouts the squat witch who is supposed to be fitting me, emerging from the back of the shop in a right state with her smutty novel and wand in tow, a bobbing line of needles and thread spools levitating behind her. "Bloody Baron, this is getting absolutely ridiculous!"

"James, dear?" Nana Weasley suddenly appears, craning her neck around the corner of the fitting rooms. "You haven't asked out Rory again, now, have you, dear?"

"No, Nana," answers Potter through gritted teeth, "I haven't ― "

"James?" Ginny pokes her brilliant head into the vicinity. "What's all this? Have you gone and asked out Rory again? How many times have I told you, 'no' from a redhead means 'hell no' ― "

"Ginny!" cries Nana Weasley, scandalized. 

Ginny grins sheepishly. "Sorry, Mum." She rounds on Potter. "Well?"

"You can't seriously think I'd ask her out after you embarrassed me earlier, can you?" demands Potter, his cheeks blazing. 

Ginny considers this briefly, nodding. "Touché."

Right on cue, Dom floats in the room, draped in her robes and surveying the commotion. "Nice one, James," she snorts. "Absolutely brilliant."

Potter glowers at us. "Why does everyone automatically assume I've asked Rory out?" 

Silence ensues.

"Well, sweetheart," says Ginny eventually, patting him on the shoulder, "it's usually because you have...."

Potter scowls, swatting his mother's hand away. "Could you lot just give us a minute, please? We were kind of in the middle of something ― "

"Actually," I chime in, rather mortified at my behaviour, "I think we're done here, so if I could get these robes fitted... " 

Dom grins easily at me and turns to her nutter family, shooing them out. "Alright, let's leave Rory here to finish up her fitting, come on...."

As she leaves, Nana Weasley casts a dubious look at the witch fitting me, whispering loudly, "Ginny, dear, I think perhaps we'd better have a word with Fleur. The service here is a tad unprofessional, don't you think?" 

"Come on, James," says Ginny bracingly, attempting to lead him away as the rest of the crowd trickles slowly out of the fitting rooms. "Hey, maybe if you're lucky, one day she'll say yes, eh?"

"Cheers, Mum," replies Potter sarcastically, following her out, but not before shooting me a heated glance.

Why do I have the feeling this isn't over yet?

" 'S almost like watching Skins or something, innit?" observes the squat witch gleefully, her novel lying forgotten on the floor. 

I can't believe this. "You're just like my mother," I mutter.

"Still, if I had 'alf the chemistry you two have ― "

I make a choking, disbelieving noise like an angry cat. "Excuse me?"

"Oh, please. You can't row like that without feeling something!"

"I feel something, alright," I say under my breath.

The witch nods knowingly. "Desire, perhaps?"

"Yes," I agree caustically. "A particularly strong desire to shove a broomstick up Potter's ― "

"I mean, really," the witch waffles on, "you two have more chemistry than Albus Dumbledore and Nicholas Flamel at a Potions convention ― "

"We do not!" I protest loudly, wrenching myself out of her grasp in horror. 

"Watch it!" cries the witch, tugging the robes back in her possession. "Do you want these robes fitted or not?"

Reluctantly, I mumble, "I suppose...."

It all depends on how Victoire feels about my going starkers to the wedding.

"Got to hurry up and get you finished," continues the witch amiably, taking in the fabric at my waist.

"Why, so you can rib me some more about Potter?" I say darkly.

The witch merely shakes her head, tutting as she shortens my hem. "The sooner I finish your robes ― " She nearly impales my ankle with a particularly vicious stitch. "Ah, there we are! ― the sooner I can finish my novel. That Fifi LaFolle really knows how to write a good bodice-ripper ― "

"Charming."

" ― and I'd reckon she could give you a few pointers, eh? With sexual tension like that?" The witch nudges me with her elbow and winks. 

"How simply corking," I say winningly, and this time she purposely pricks me in the calf.



*




"Rory, darling?" Mum calls from the kitchen. "I believe you have a visitor!" 

"Who is it?" I wonder aloud, treading lightly into the kitchen. "I swear, if it's Potter, I'll ― Avery!" 

Well, well ― if it isn't Potter, it's his barn owl. Admittedly, Avery is a sight nicer than his owner, not to mention his manners are considerably better. And he doesn't talk.

Life is nice sometimes.

"Isn't that James Potter's owl?" says Mum slyly, sipping her tea as she leans against the marble counter. 

I roll my eyes. "Don't act like you've never seen him before, Mum. He's been here enough times."

"But what could James possibly want at such an hour?" gasps Mum from behind her tea mug, although it's obvious she's quivering with excitement. 

Biting back the urge to say, "To immaculately conceive our children," I accept the letter from Avery's beak and open the window for him, through which he clambers and gracefully takes off in the balmy night. "Oh, I think I have an idea...."

Slowly and carefully ― for Mum's benefit, not mine ― I manoeuvre the envelope open and extract the letter, unfolding it gradually with my eyes locked on my mother's the entire time. Serves her right, planting ideas of grandchildren in Potter's head.

"Oh, stop being an arse and open it already," she says tetchily, stirring her tea. 

Once I've glanced down at the parchment, lined patiently with Potter's full, steady handwriting in ink the colour of his hair, I burst out laughing before I can stop myself.

Mum's at my side in an instant, her tea mug clattering noisily on the counter. "What's it say? Rory?"

I've only skimmed over the first couple of lines, but suppress (most of) my chuckles long enough to read the whole letter, with Mum standing on tiptoe and perusing the letter fervently over my shoulder.


10 Reasons Why You, Aurora Pond, Should Be My, James Potter's, Date to Teddy and Victoire's Wedding

001. You're the most radiant, beautiful girl I've ever seen.

002. But at the same time, where will you find a date with hair as good as mine?

003. You balance me out so that I'm less of a big-headed, arrogant, insensitive prat, and I balance you out so you're less of a redhead.

 
"But it's auburn," whispers Mum indignantly, patting my hair self-consciously. "It's been in the family for ages ― "

"Mum, just shut it and read."


004. We haven't hung out just the pair of us since third year. 

005. That being said, I'd like to make all those years up to you. If you want a list detailing all the ways I've botched up our friendship, I can make you one of those as well.

006. Really, though, you'd have the time of your life as my date. 

007. But more than that, I'd have the time of my life if I were lucky enough to have you as my date.

008. I may or may not be an excellent dancer. The only way for you to find out is to be my date. Curious now? I bet you are.

009. If you say yes, I promise you won't regret it. No Confundus charm required.

010. I know that the choice is entirely yours, but if there is anything in the world I can do to change your mind, I will do it.

And, because I wanted to go above and beyond what you requested of me, I have one more reason, and here it is:

 
"Well, what is it?" cries Mum eagerly, wresting the letter from my hands and holding it up to the light, as though inspecting it for forgery. "What's the eleventh reason?"

I stare blankly at the counter, brows furrowed. "I dunno. It's not there, I've already checked."

"But that can't be!" Mum seizes the envelope and shakes it frantically, as if expecting the eleventh reason to rattle around inside it. 

Because whether or not Potter did it on purpose ― and I'm almost positive he did, the tosser ― it looks as though the bottom edge of the letter, right where his eleventh reason should've been, has been torn off and discarded, as if he wrote it out, decided better of it, then ripped off that bit of parchment and crumpled it up.

"Unngghhh!" Mum flings the letter to the counter in exasperation. "Why in blazes would he do something like that? It makes no sense!"

"Search me," I mutter, utterly baffled as I gaze calculatingly at the letter.

"What's all this?" My father's lanky frame appears in the doorway, smiling bemusedly at us in his fluffy bathrobe. "Ladies, what could possibly be so thrilling, you feel compelled to shriek ― "

"We weren't shrieking!" Mum and I chorus huffily. 

"Alright, then," responds Dad good-naturedly, padding into the kitchen. "What's causing all this racket? I do hate to break up the party, but I've got to work in the morning, and I'd like to know what's got my girls all aflutter."

Mum snatches the letter from the counter and waves it around. "Rory's gotten another letter from James Potter, he stopped by earlier today ― "

"Mum! Is that really necessary?"

" ― you remember him, the Potter boy, from King's Cross? He's been in love with Rory for yonks," she finishes breathlessly, dangling the letter in front of Dad's politely bewildered face. "Go on, read it!" 

"He's not in love with me, it's only a joke," I growl, snatching the letter from Mum. "And I'll have that back, thank you."

Dad laughs, and I see the waspish retort Mum has prepared for me fall away instantly, her eyes softening at the sight of my father chuckling.

"Ease up on her, love," murmurs Dad, pulling Mum to him and wrapping his arm around her waist. "So she's gotten a letter from a boy ― no need to live vicariously through Rory's post, is there?" 

Mum's mouth drops open as she shoves his chest lightly. "I am not living vicariously ― "

"Yes, you are," Dad and I say simultaneously, planting our hands on our hips.

Mum looks extremely put out for someone her age. "Fine," she sniffs, crossing her arms. "Maybe I am, just a bit, but look at her! The girl's got romance knocking at her front door ― "

"More like at the kitchen window," I point out reasonably.

" ― and I've the prospect of grandchildren right on that doormat ― " 

My eyes narrow. "Gross, Mum. I'd at least like to have my kids in a hospital or something, not on the doormat, where the neighbours can see."

"Rory..." Dad raises an eyebrow at my sarcasm.

"I just want you to live a full life," implores Mum, her hazel eyes pleading with me. "A full life that may or may not include grandchildren for me as a bit of a bonus...." She says this part rather quickly, as though if she's fast enough, I might not process it. "Is that so much to ask?"

I glance between her and Dad, my eyes lingering first on her shining, hopeful face, and then on the distinctly amused expression in his twinkling green eyes, so like mine. "Fine. What do you want me to do?" At her joyous squeal, I hastily amend, "That doesn't involve me marrying Potter and bearing his children, I mean."

"Give him a chance, maybe go with him to this wedding," suggests Mum impishly. "And I really wouldn't worry, dear, there will be plenty of time for all of that later, if you catch my drift ― "

"Mum!"

"Rory," Dad cuts in earnestly, "could you just consider what your mother's suggesting? Please?" 

"Alright," I say at length, relenting. "I'll consider it."

And I'm positive I'll regret it.

Mum positively beams. "I knew I gave you life for a reason." 

Dad laughs at the pair of us, pulling my mum and me into a huge hug, and kisses us both on the forehead. "Now, if you two don't mind, I'm going back to bed before either of you can talk about having children."

"Oh, shut up," Mum and I say in unison, grinning.



Only twenty minutes later, before I climb into bed, curiosity gnaws at me persistently. After procuring a spare bit of parchment, I write on it in my tiny, slanted script, You're not going to tell me what the eleventh reason is, are you? Once the ink has set, I roll it up, slide it into a small cylinder, and tie it around my owl Marigold's leg, whispering, "This goes to Potter."

She hoots dolefully at me, turning her great amber eyes on me as if to say, "There are hundreds of Potters out there, and although I know exactly who this is going to, I'm just doing this to make life difficult for you. It won't kill you to say his name."

I swallow. "James Potter, I mean."

Marigold nips my finger affectionately, ruffles her wings in a sort of self-satisfied manner, and takes off through my open window.

Even my owl is judging me. I wonder if she's pushing for grandchildren as well.

The next morning, I awaken to find Marigold has already returned ― she must've been flying all night to make that long of a journey ― with the cylinder completely empty, no scroll of parchment in place to show for her arduous flight.

Who knew Potter had backbone? 

His little gesture is quite full of nerve, sending my own blooming owl back without a response, and if that's how he wants to play, then I might as well join the game. 

Because, unbeknownst to him, I've already made my decision.




Author's Note: I hope you're as excited about this chapter as I am. Writing it was a feverish, crazy blast. Since I start fall term in a few days, updates will be scarce, but your feedback will be what prompts me to update faster (when I should be practicing my musical repertoire). Have any favorite quotes? Any characters you'd like to see more of?

Thank you so much for even looking at this fic, for reading it, for making it all the way to the bottom of the page to this stupid A/N, and for leaving all your lovely reviews. I seriously can't tell you how fuzzy and happy they make my day. They're honestly better than Robert Downey, Jr. in a dress. Okay, I'm done. This was too long. :DDD

- emma (:

Chapter 4: Simply All Aflutter
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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. Also, for anyone who would like to know, I listened to "When Your Mind's Made Up" from the film Once on repeat the entire time I wrote this chapter.



 

Utterly gorgeous chapter image by Camila @ TDA

 


"Good heavens, dear, you're looking rather peaky." Nana Weasley swoops in on me, patting my cheek appraisingly. "Are you sure you wouldn't like something to eat? A cheese and bacon butty, perhaps?"

I hide my grimace, my stomach all but protesting with pitchforks at the mere suggestion of food. "No thanks, Nana. Maybe later." Maybe when my nerves stop acting like an angry medieval mob.

She eyes me beadily, planting a hand authoritatively on her hip. "You're sure, are you? No cornish pasties? Maybe a bit of cold roast chicken with sweet onion and ― "

"What Rory means to say, Nana," Dom cuts across swiftly, pinpointing me with a meaningful look that says, We'll be having a nice little chin wag later, "is that she's a bit off colour for food right now." 

I nod weakly, gingerly patting my chiffon-swathed abdomen. "Nothing against your cooking, Nana, honest ― "

"Oh, you poor dear!" With surprising agility and strength that belies her old age, Nana sweeps me into a crushing hug against her ample bosom and says fondly, "Of course your stomach's upset ― I'm sure it's simply all aflutter with nerves! Why, I remember my first time as a bridesmaid...mind you, I was quite the fit little thing, and Arthur and I went for a very long walk that night ― "

"Actually, on second thought," interrupts Dom loudly, causing Nana Weasley to release me momentarily from my chest cocoon, "maybe a packet of biscuits will do the trick. It's just a bit of nerves, isn't it, Rory?"

"Mmmmf," I mumble in assent, smothered by Nana Weasley's glittering dress robes. "Mmm fffnk ssoh."

Relinquishing her hold on me, Nana Weasley smiles benevolently at our prompt submission. "Well, I'll just go find you some food, then!" After turning to Dom and surveying her lithe form with mild indignation, Nana Weasley sniffs, "I'll be whipping up something for you as well, Dominique. Fleur clearly isn't feeding you properly, honestly...." With one last self-righteous harrumph, she bustles out of the room. 

Just as I issue a sigh of relief, Dom sinks onto Ginny Potter's old four-poster beside me, her hands tucked under her thighs as she swings her legs childishly back and forth against the bed frame. We arrived at the Burrow in the wee hours of the morning and have been tidying up the place and primping Victoire in equal parts ever since. 

Not that she even needs the primping. If we're being honest, it's all of us non-Veela who need it, but if we run out of time for ourselves, I'm sure tossing paper bags over our faces will do.

Can't afford to ruin the atmosphere, you know.

Since the actual wedding is scheduled to take place in just a couple of hours, during the sunset, Dom and I have spent our precious time squeezing into our dresses and avoiding Nana Weasley's attempts to fatten us up. 

To evade Dom's sharp, questioning gaze, I cast my eyes around the room, allowing them to finally alight on an old poster of Gwenog Jones, former captain of the Holyhead Harpies, who flexes her absurdly sculpted muscles and winks saucily at me. 

Perhaps it would've been wiser to look at Dom. 

Scratch that. I'm probably going to die soon. How, exactly, do I know? 

For one thing, when Dom is about to murder someone, she abstains from blinking for an unnaturally long period of time while maintaining eye contact. I know she's supposedly part Veela, but it's during moments like this when I wonder if the French simply confused the words for "Veela" and "raging hippogriff". 

In case you're curious, they both have sharp talons and prefer their meat raw.

Secondly, I may or may not have mentioned what happened between James and me a fortnight ago, and by that, I mean with all intents and purposes that I haven't even told my cat Marius about that day in the dress shop. 

Not that he'd listen anyway. He's too busy poaching the mice in our backyard and pretending he's Spartapuss. 

"So, are you going to tell me what's going on?"

Ha! No. 

"Why the Buckbeak not?" demands Dom, adopting the same hand-on-hip pose previously utilised by Nana Weasley. 

Did I actually say that out loud?

Dom snorts. "Yes, you did." 

Bugger. 

"Language," responds Dom primly, which I find ironic, since she and Victoire tend to use the choicest French swear words when they get bent out of shape.

"Look, just because my stomach's feeling a bit poorly," I say haughtily, tossing my hair over my shoulder, "does not mean that there's anything going ― "

"Oh, stop dithering about and tell me already," Dom says idly, throwing herself backward onto the bed and peering up at me expectantly.

"It's nothing," I mumble, smoothing the skirt of my dress and striving to keep my nostrils from flaring. 

Quick as a flash, Dom sits bolt upright, squinting at me suspiciously. "It's about James, isn't it?"

"James who?" I ask innocently, wiping my face clean of all emotion, but not rapidly enough.

Dom smirks knowingly. "You rate my cousin, don't you?"

"Which one? You have quite a few attractive cousins," I point out vaguely, but Dom is like a lioness; once she senses fear, she pounces. 

"Oh my Godric," breathes Dom momentously. "You've started fancying James ― "

"I've done nothing of the sort!" I reply hotly. 

I'd just as soon fancy Michael Flatley. He's getting on in years, sports leather pants, and still seems to misplace his shirt for every Celtic Tiger performance. Sadly, all of the other male stepdancers never seem to misplace their shirts. 

Not that I would mind if they did. 

Rolling her eyes, Dom says conversationally, "Look, I think it's brillopads if you want to have his children. I'm honestly not opposed, and I can assure you he or your mum won't be eithemmmph ― "

"For what I feel will probably not be the last time," I say slowly, removing my hand from her mouth, "I do not fancy Potter." 

Dom narrows her eyes. "Then why are you acting so strangely? And I swear I'll bite you next time you do that."

"Let me finish, will you?" I raise my eyebrows warningly, adding, "Otherwise, I'll shut you up myself again." 

Rather contritely, Dom snaps her gob shut and clasps her hands obediently in her lap. Maybe I should threaten to do this more often. She's loads more pleasant this way.

I sigh. "Well, I don't fancy Potter ― don't give me that look, I don't ― but something may have happened a couple of weeks ago ― "

"Rory." Dom places her hand on mine patronisingly, fixing me with her cautious I'm-practising-to-be-a-Healer-someday stare, as though not to frighten me away. How anyone could make someone as violent as Dom a Healer, though, is beyond me. "We all knew that when James swore he wouldn't ask you out for the rest of the summer, he wouldn't be able to hold up, but ― "

"Wait, what?" I blink rapidly, nonplussed. "Potter didn't ask me out." 

Dom jerks her head to the side, her pale blue eyes widening as she snatches her hand away. "He didn't?" 

I shake my head. "Well, not exactly. He just ― hang on, did you say he swore he wouldn't ask me out?"

Dom snorts with laughter, nodding. "He swore on Uncle Harry's sacred Snitch a couple of weeks ago. Every Wotter with ears knows about it." She pauses thoughtfully. "Actually, come to think of it, even Uncle George knows."

Well, this explains why I've seen neither hide nor hair of him for the past two weeks. At this point, I'd sheepishly expected him to pelt me with owls me about my decision, but my owltbox has remained decidedly empty. 

For someone who isn't even sure she likes Potter as a person, I've felt oddly...disappointed in his lack of pestering. However, I like to think of that disappointment as misplaced relief.

Very misplaced relief.

"So, are you going to keep me in the dark?" asks Dom flippantly, leaping off the bed and crossing to the mirror, her strawberry blonde hair fanning behind her. "What's got your knickers in such a twist, if he didn't pop the question?" 

"He ― " All of the sudden, my mouth feels drier than Galway in the midst of a summer drought, and try as I might, I inexplicably can't bring myself to tell Dom. Something invisible seems to latch my tongue to the roof of my mouth, and I bizarrely no longer feel like spilling everything to her. 

For whatever reason, I think this is something I want to keep to myself. This is between Potter and me.

"Well?" Dom turns to her side, impassively examining her slender body in the full-length mirror.

"Tuck that tag in and you're perfect, dear," chirps the mirror, startling both of us. 

Dom, however, immediately obliges, appearing quite mollified, and her strapless, pale gold sheath dress cascades prettily to the floor, ruffling slightly at the neckline and drawing in at her waist. "Thanks!"

"Well, love?" prompts the mirror. "You were saying?"

My mouth twitches open at the mirror addressing me so casually. It's not as though you've just eavesdropped or anything, mirror. Hmph. "Erm ― nothing. Potter and I just, er ― we just rowed about the Head Boy and Girl situation. You know," I add swiftly, locking eyes with Dom and giving them a good roll as my tone takes a turn for the sarcastic, "the usual."

Please believe me and don't press the matter....

Dom chuckles, apparently satisfied as she begins to apply some mascara. "I wouldn't expect anything different from you two. Can you imagine?"

"Yeah," I agree with a shaky laugh, adjusting my identical bridesmaid dress.

"Now." Dom locks eyes with my reflection in the mirror, her tone filled with seriousness of the utmost importance. "Before Nana comes back, I've got to ask you something, and I need you to answer as honestly as possible."

I freeze, caught like a deer in wandlight. Maybe I'm not as convincing of a liar as I thought. "Yeah?"

"Which lippy makes me look like less of a tart?" 

Or maybe I am.


*



I take in a deep breath, gathering the chiffon skirt of my dress robes as I navigate the edge of the reception-area-turned-dance-floor. Couples swirl gracefully around me and relatives chat amiably with drinks in hand as I carefully pick my way through the hordes of glamourous Wotters. The wedding ceremony had been beautiful, the blissful couple rosy-cheeked, turquoise-haired (in Teddy's case), and grinning with unbridled happiness. 

The simple meter of the waltz currently being played by the Mineral String Quartet, which is comprised of actual musicians ― Victoire and Teddy felt that the wizarding tradition of employing enchanted instruments was rather creepy ― is what drives the subdivision of my pounding heartbeats, and for the first time in my life, I find myself desperately hoping I'm claustrophobic instead of being on the verge of a breakdown.

To calm my nerves, I keep telling myself that I've rehearsed this in my head loads of times, that I'm just curious to see how it turns out, that I'm just hoping to repair a friendship, that I just want world peace for everyone ― that none of this means anything at all. Why should it even matter? 

I suppose there's really no going back now. I made my decision days ago, and when my mind's made up, there's no point trying to change it. 

He'll be there. He has to be. 

Once I finally escape the eddying current of wedding-goers, I continue to skirt the fringe of the dance floor until I spy a small gazebo, lit by fluttering fairy lights and partially hidden by rose bushes. I stifle a laugh at how absurdly trite and romantic this must seem, but I know Potter, and the modest pavilion and subdued lighting suit how he does things.

And I have a notion that, if I look for him, this is where I'll find him.  

My heart beating its wings furiously in my chest like a caged bird with each step I take ― Churchill's trousers, am I actually nervous about this? ― I finally reach the gazebo and, upon noticing how utterly empty it is, my heart folds its wings and plummets. 

He was supposed to be here.

I feel like such a fool. I can't believe how willing I've been to give Potter a chance, to possibly become mates again ― and he didn't even show. Suddenly, I'm back in third year, just after Potter kissed me in front of everyone and the entire Great Hall dissolved into cheers, catcalls, and laughter. I'm steeped in that similar feeling of mortification and crippling self-consciousness that ensued when I finally realised that our friendship would never be the same as before.

Stupidly enough, I was so sure he'd be here; I was so certain he meant what he said when he sent me that list. 

That idiotic list. 

Slightly incensed and more than a little ashamed, I enter the gazebo and perch on the edge of its circular bench, propping my chin in my hand. I can't believe I've been so stupid. Part of me hoped he would show, and the other part of me was terrified of what would transpire if he did. 

Admittedly, I've been content to row with him throughout the years and refuse to give him any chances to prove himself ― but keeping this up has become so exhausting that I wonder if I don't stubbornly maintain my grudge because it's easier this way, and because I secretly miss our friendship.

Ugh, listen to me. I sound like one of those horribly angsty, scantily clad cows in a Fifi LaFolle novel, banging on about my trust complex and why I have so many ripped bodices. 

Not bloody likely, that.

With a scowl, I brush myself off and stand, preparing to return to the wedding reception, when I see it. 

A small sheaf of parchment levitating in the middle of the gazebo.

Curious, I tentatively reach forward and gently pluck the paper, still floating, from the air. It's surface remains oddly blank, and just as I'm about to turn it over to check the other side, small handwriting ― handwriting I've seen before ― materialises in black ink. 

Turn around. 

My heart catching in my throat, I whirl around and immediately come face to face with an equally out of breath Potter, dressed smartly in fitted black dress robes, his hair tousled ― slightly damp and messier than usual, as though he's just dashed out of the bath ― and features angular in the soft light. Our eyes meet in an instant, glimmering green and burning hazel, and he wordlessly holds out a scrap of parchment that looks as though it's been torn from a letter.

Finally. 

My eyes never leaving his, I accept the parchment and eventually tear my gaze away to further inspect it. Despite myself, a small smile stretches across my face as I read his steady script. 

011. I won't ever stop trying to make things right between us.

As my eyes flutter closed, there's a moment of complete silence, in which I can nearly discern the faint sound of our hearts beating and minds whirring. 

The eleventh reason. 

He knew I would be here. He tore it from the letter and withheld it, fully knowing I would be intrigued enough to come here. He knew all along. I'm rather predictable, aren't I?

If my mum were here, she'd be sipping tea with one hand and fanning herself with a romance novel in the other.

Rather sadly, I find myself wishing I could travel back to the days when being a boy and a girl was so much less complicated, and neither of us had greater expectations than those of the very best kind of friendship.

Unexpectedly, a warm hand cups my chin, gently tilting it upward, and I'm so taken aback by this gesture that my eyes automatically fly open to meet Potter's. Silence ― broken only by the quiet sound of someone's shallow breathing, possibly mine ― ensues as we search each other's eyes for signs of something, anything.

Friend or insufferable foe?

It is Potter who finally speaks first, his voice barely audible over the keening strains of the string quartet. "So. You showed."

I swallow with some difficulty, slipping back into my half-hearted suit of sarcasm. "So. I did. Well spotted."

He seems to ignore my jibe as he steps back, his hand dropping to his side so quickly, it was almost as though it had never left. "Why, though?" His face, lit only by the glow of the fairy lights, remains an unreadable mask, and I can't help but realise I don't have a single snide remark to make. However, before I can begin to formulate an answer, he shakes his head, smiling slightly. "Couldn't have been the list, could it? I imagine that was partly it, but more than anything, you were curious, weren't you?"

A statement, not a question. Not for the last time, he's dead on about me. I remain silent.

"I reckon you wanted to know about the eleventh reason as well?" he continues quietly, his lips still curved upward at the corners. 

For some reason, I find heat suffusing my cheeks; perhaps it's due to the fact that I'm hacked off at him for sussing me out so effortlessly. Still, I say nothing. I'm not ready to give in just yet. 

"About that..." Potter averts his gaze to his polished brogues, shoving his hands into the pockets of his trousers. "I hoped it would change things between us."

"And did it work?" I hear myself ask, with something in my voice that I'm not accustomed to hearing. Hang on ― is that shyness?

Something in his eyes sparks, and he cautiously takes a step forward. "You tell me."

I eye him playfully. "I showed up, didn't I?"

"To my utter surprise," remarks Potter wonderingly.

I frown. "I don't believe that." Potter raises a questioning eyebrow, and I elaborate, "You knew I'd be here."

He bows his head coyly. "I hoped you would ― I hoped my list of reasons would convince you ― but I honestly didn't know for certain." He glances up and offers me a lopsided grin. "Sometimes you're full of surprises."

"Well, I reckon your list worked," I admit grudgingly. 

"Then let's make another go of things," presses Potter earnestly, stepping closer still, and as he moves toward me, instinct ― and panic ― set in. 

Funny that, how I've mentally prepared myself for this over the past fortnight, and yet I'm suddenly not ready to raise my white flag and surrender to his friendship. What is wrong with me?

I reckon I'm just another of the world's greatest mysteries, much like my mum and her bizarre infatuation with Peter O'Toole.

"Look, Potter," I backtrack hastily, my feet stumbling backward of their own accord, "we can't ― " I curl my fingers into air quotations ― "'make another go of things' if we never had anything in the first place, and if you think you can lure me here under false pretenses and ask me out ― "

Potter begins laughing unexpectedly, a laugh so happy-go-lucky and brimming over with such mirth that I find myself feeling the slightest twinge of jealousy. "Honestly, Rory. Sometimes you can be so daft." He chuckles again. "I didn't 'lure' you here ― " Did he seriously use my air quotations against me just now? " ― to ask you out."

Given our history together, I struggle to keep from snorting derisively. "Right, I forgot." I attempt to compose myself, but can't keep the scepticism from trickling into my voice. "And I suppose we're here to keep each other company?"

Figures. The moment Potter proves me wrong and I make an idiot of myself, I resort to stroppy remarks to conceal my utter embarrassment.

My Insufferable Pride and Me: Or How I Managed to Pen a Best-Seller in Between Belittling James Potter, Being an All-Around Cow, and Having Tea with the Queen. Yes, my future memoir is sure to fly off the racks one day.

The smile disappears from his face and is replaced with clear annoyance now. "You and I know full well that's not what this is about. Try again." 

My temper flares. "So, if those ten reasons why I should be your date ― "

"Eleven," interjects Potter calmly. 

"Alright, eleven reasons," I amend irritably, "why I should be your date had nothing to do with being your date at all ― "

"Oh, they had everything to do with being my date," Potter interrupts crisply. 

"Then what are we doing here?" I ask frustratedly. What is it about this boy that infuriates me so easily?

Slowly advancing toward me so that I have nowhere to go but the railing of the gazebo, Potter fastens his inscrutable gaze on me. "You read the list of reasons I sent you, did you not?"

"Clearly," I deadpan, backing up to find I no longer have room to move.

"And you read the eleventh reason as well, right?" Potter is closer now, too close. 

"Right," I agree faintly, my eyes trained on his clouded ones. 

"Then why do you keep pushing me away?" he says evenly, and in that one second that his carefully constructed mask slips, I glimpse how frustrated and hurt he feels. But the moment I blink, it's gone, and I can't be sure I didn't imagine it. "Why do you refuse to see anything differently?"

I open my mouth to retort, but he swiftly cuts in. "Why else would you have shown up tonight if you didn't want to give things a chance? I've changed, you and everyone else know I have ― "

"It's only been two weeks," I accidentally let slip, instantly clapping a hand over my mouth. Bugger.

Potter stiffens. "Dom told you, didn't she?" At my reaffirming silence, he shakes his head with a small smile and concedes, "It's only been two weeks, but I'm serious about this. I'm not asking you out anymore." His expression falters briefly, like a flickering candle, but returns, determined and confident, more for himself than for me. "No, I won't ask you out anymore; so why can't we be friends? Why won't you just give it a chance, Rory? Why can't you just ― "

"I don't know!" I cry exasperatedly, so loudly that I think I startle a gnome out of a nearby tree. "I just don't know, alright? I've been spending the past two weeks trying to figure that one out myself, thanks!"

Before he can fling out an arm to stop me, I slip past him and cross to the other side of the gazebo in the longest strides my dress will allow. "I'm tired of fighting you" is what I long to say, but all that ends up coming out in a whisper is, "I'm tired of fighting with you." 

We used to be friends.

I hear Potter exhale sharply, and then the rustling of fabric, coupled with the soft tapping of his brogues, as he gravitates to my side of the gazebo. When I look up through my eyelashes, he's leaning against the railing and gazing out at the reception, the corners of his lips twitching. Following his line of sight, I glimpse Teddy twirling Victoire around the dance floor, the pair of them laughing and beaming at each other with the kind of love that makes my heart ache.

It's probably also the kind of love my mum reads about, so I politely tell my heart to go jump off a bridge.

"Did you know," Potter says softly, "when they were at school, Vic couldn't stand Ted?" I shake my head, still nettled, and he chuckles to himself. "Actually, she loathed him, couldn't bear to be in the same room as him." Somehow, a chortle escapes my throat, as I can relate to Victoire all too well. "Believe it or not, they used to be best mates when they were smaller, until they got to Hogwarts."

A timid smile dances its way across my lips. "What happened?"

Potter's smile mirrors mine as he faces me and says quietly, "Ted started fancying her."

A startling blush infuses my cheeks as I hear myself asking, "What'd she do about it?"

"Hexed him," replies Potter simply.

I knew I liked her.

Neither of us speak for a couple of minutes, with only the sounds of music and tinkling laughter permeating our hushed bubble, and I attempt to process what Potter's just shared with me.

I mean, if Teddy could overcome his teenage hormones and renew his friendship with Victoire, why can't Potter and I do the same?

Of course, Victoire ended up having to confront her hormones in the end ― don't think so? Try sitting through the "wedding night tactics" tea Dom and I had to endure this afternoon; if practically nonexistent lacy knickers don't scream "hormones," I don't know what does ― but that does not mean Potter and I have to go the same way.

Being friends with him, though? 

I think, for the first time in a long while, that sounds like something I can do. 

So why can't I just discard my four years of hurt feelings, rein in my temper, and grow up? I'm used to fight or flight with him, and quite frankly, I've tired of both.

I think it's time to try and kick my old habits.

"Aurora?" Potter's quiet voice jolts me out of my reverie.

"Hmm?"

"D'you think..." His voice is hesitant, barely masking his hope. "D'you reckon we could just...drop all this and start over?"

"Yes," I find myself answering almost immediately, to my shock. His face lights up, even in the newly fallen twilight, and for once, I don't feel the urge to slap that smile off of his face. But I won't let him win so easily. "I have two conditions, though."

The grin falters ever so slightly. "They are?"

I allow myself a tiny smirk. "One ― stop calling me 'Aurora'. No one calls me that, not even my gran. It's Rory. And don't call me 'Pond', either," I add warningly as he opens his mouth to retort.

Potter folds his arms across his chest. "I'm sorry, Aurora, but I just can't do that."

"I can see this is going swimmingly," I say wryly.

"Fine, then, I'll call you 'Rory,'" says Potter mulishly. "But only if you stop calling me 'Potter' and start using my first name."

Smarmy git.

"Alright," I reply reluctantly. 

"Alright, what?"

I can practically feel the glee in his voice. Keep your smarm to yourself, Potter.

"Alright, James," I say through gritted teeth. How is it he takes my small victories and uses them against me?

That triumphant grin returning to his face, he asks lightly, "Condition number two?"

"No more asking me out," I respond just as airily.

"You won't have to worry about that one anymore, as I've already sworn I wouldn't," Pott ― James points out dryly. 

I hold up my hands defensively. "I'm just saying! Excuse me for going off of four years of experience with you popping the question!" 

"No need to be tetchy," says James good-humouredly, placing his hand over mine as I huff crossly. "I know I've gotten a bit...carried away at times."

I snort, briefly forgetting my annoyance with him. "Pur-lease. A bit carried away? James, if you got anymore carried away, you'd be halfway to Wales in a hot air balloon ― "

Clearing his throat pointedly, James says loudly, "And what if the time comes when you want me to ask you out?"

"You can't be serious," I manage to choke out in between laughs. "Really? I mean..." I trail off awkwardly as the heat rises to his cheeks and he looks away, as though stung. I was under the impression he'd been joking, but now I realize he's simply braver with his feelings than I will ever be.

Well done, Rory. You're well on your way to becoming a class-A tosser.

"You laugh now," he says coolly, still avoiding my gaze, "but I'll bet you change your tune one of these days, and you'll be wishing I would ask you out."

Me? Wishing that James Potter would ask me out? Confundus charm, table for one, please.

"We'll see," I hedge, to placate him more than anything else. His hazel eyes flicker toward mine, and I carry on in spite of myself, mostly in an attempt to ease the hurt that flashes in those eyes. For some reason, I suddenly can't bear to be the cause of that pain anymore. "Who knows, maybe you'll be right one of these days and I'll be doing the asking out."

Just because I don't fully mean it, doesn't mean I can't say it. We're only five minutes into our rekindled friendship and I'm already botching things up as usual. Still, I want to make it up to him, and I think he senses it, because he proffers me a tiny smile.

"Is that all, then?" 

"One more condition," I say nonchalantly, fluttering my mascara-coated eyelashes.

James leans in a bit closer, his shining face mere centimetres away from mine. "What is it?"

"Kindly remove your hand from mine," I reply sweetly, "lest I remove it for you."

Hastily complying, James peels his hand off of mine and runs it through his hair anxiously, only serving to muss it up even more. Maybe I should inform him that hair like a hippogriff's backside isn't too attractive. 

That's the sort of thing a friend would do, right?

Just as I open my mouth to deliver the orderly blow of justice to his law-breaking hairstyle, I catch the faint sounds of the string quartet bowing a lovely arrangement of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out".

Clearly, Teddy put together the set list.

As the first verse drifts toward us, allegro ma non troppo, James locks eyes with me and we simultaneously blurt out, "This is my favourite Smiths song."

Astonishingly, it's good to know that some things haven't changed since the hiatus in our friendship.

"Er, we should probably get back," James reminds me, grinning sheepishly as he turns to leave. "You know, before Dom goes bonkers."

"Yeah," I echo absentmindedly, still lost in thought as I follow him out of the gazebo. When did it actually become easy to have a civilised conversation with James Potter without feeling like aiming a kick at a puppy?

We've almost reached the reception when I hear James cough nervously. "Rory?"

I arch an eyebrow. "James?"

He blinks and averts his gaze, immersing his hands in his pockets. "So, does this, er, does this mean we're friends again?"

I stare blankly at him for a moment, before breaking into a wide grin, and I hear him breathe a sigh of relief. "Of course, you numpty." I look past him, unable to meet his eyes for once. "You were right, I, erm, wouldn't have bothered showing up if I didn't want to be friends again."

His answering smile is borderline goofy as we reach the edge of the dance floor. "Really?" 

I sigh impatiently, my grin still in place as I cross my arms. "Yes, really."

What a dork. But he's sort of growing on me.

"Well, as a friend..." James's smile takes on a bashful quality now. "Would you like to dance? You know, since we're friends and all," he adds in a rush, his eyes widening worriedly, "and this is our favourite Smiths song, and ― "

"James?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up." I roll my eyes, holding out my hand. The lengths I go to for friendship. Honestly. "Yes, I would love to dance."

Eagerly taking my hand and lacing it with his, James places his other hand gently at my waist, whilst I loop my free hand around his neck and resist the urge to roll my eyes again. We receive many strange, amazed, and downright elated looks as he spins us out into the sea of dancing couples (who knew Pott ― oh, sod it, James ― could dance like this?), and a gorgeous Ginny Potter even shoots me a sly smirk as she's being twirled deftly by a very dishy Harry. All we need now is for Dom to walk by and ― 

"What the hellebore is this?"

James and I break apart instantly ― well, I jump away from him while he refuses to detach his hand from mine ― as Dom halts mid-spin with Lorcan Scamander, her jaw practically unhinged and brow knitted in confusion.

"Er, well, you see," I stutter unhelpfully. "Um..."

"Cheers, Lorc," James supplies lamely, giving a half-hearted wave to the blonde boy, who grins back.

"James and I ― " I attempt again, but suddenly, Dom squeals.

"Oh my Godric, you just called him James!"

"Well spotted, Dommy!" I cry sardonically, but she fails to catch my tone.

"Did you two finally snog?" asks Dom excitedly.

"No!" James and I assure her in unison, a look of horror on my face and disappointment on his. 

Dom, however, prattles on animatedly, "I was wondering where you'd gotten off to, Lorc and I were just about to call a search party, weren't we, Lorc?" Lorcan nods helplessly and Dom forges on. "But no worries, here you both are. Oh, can't you just feel the love tonight? I knew you'd come to your senses ― "

"Dom?" 

" ― oh, what's your mum going to say, Rory? I'd better write her and let her know she's getting grandchildren ― "

"DOM!" I practically roar, and she freezes. I hear James laugh quietly beside me. "Look, James and I are friends again. Just friends."

She blinks, looking at me as though I've just dumped a basket of pygmy puffs on the side of the road. "So ― so, you didn't snog?"

I shake my head, quivering with laughter. "No."

"And...and you're not dating?" asks Dom perplexedly, frowning.

"Sadly," responds James, and I elbow him in the stomach. "...I mean...no."

"So, this means I won't be getting grandkids?" says Ginny bluntly as she and Harry whirl past us, smirks in place.

Seriously?

"Mum!"

"Don't take that tone with me, James Sirius!" Ginny calls as she glides away, while Harry says apologetically, "She's had a bit to drink tonight...."

This is turning out to be quite an evening.

"Well," Dom says eventually, smiling sincerely. "I'm thrilled you two are friends again." She turns to Lorcan, who is gaping rather incredulously at her. "God, Lorcan, quit harassing them, can't you see they want to be left alone? You're such a spaz. Honestly." She rolls her eyes at him, seizing his hand and planting it around her waist. "We'll just be off now. Carry on, then!"

The silence between us stretches as Dom tows a baffled Lorcan back into the fray and the quartet strikes up the Marino waltz.

I wrinkle my nose. "That was..."

"Yeah." James rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably. "I know."

I gesture to the other dancing pairs. "Shall we...?"

He nods, grinning as he intertwines his hand with mine and begins leading me fluently across the dance floor, his feet stepping lightly. It feels as though we're floating, and I find no shame in admitting that I'm highly impressed at his dancing skills. In all honesty, this is actually quite nice. I could get used to this.

Don't judge.

"You know, in all the commotion tonight, I can't believe I forgot to tell you how absolutely beautiful you look," James comments offhandedly, his eyes snapping to mine. Something about the unabashed stare with which he fixes me and the way he tells me this causes my stomach to lurch uneasily, and somewhere in my mind, I finally realise he genuinely means it.

And for once, it's my turn to blush and stammer. "Er, thank you. You clean up quite well, too...? I mean, you look...very...dashing."

James laughs, correctly interpreting my verbal train wreck as a compliment. "Thank you. And just for the record..." His expression softens as his grip tightens around my waist. "I was never once making fun of you all those years. I always meant what I said. I still do."

Well. What in blazes am I supposed to say to that? 

Evidently nothing, since my voice refuses to form any words as we continue to eye each other thoughtfully. I bite my lip pensively, looking down at our expertly moving feet, and as my gaze flits back to his, I notice he's much closer now. Our foreheads are nearly touching, my hand that isn't clutching his is resting against the nape of his neck, and he's leaning in ―

"Hand away from my bum, Potter," I snap suddenly, glaring at him. "Pronto."

"It's James now," he retorts cheerfully, but his hand immediately flies back up to my waist. Darn right.

I narrow my eyes. "That still doesn't give you licence to place your hand anywhere that isn't my waist." 

"Sorry, old habits die hard, I suppose," he replies cheekily.

I all but growl at him. "Try that again and I'll hex your hand off, Restriction of Underage Sorcery be dam ― "

"Rory?"

"What?" 

"Shut up."





Author's Note: So, I have the best readers in the world. Seriously. I feel awful that it's taken me this long to get this chapter up, but I've been busy with school and had a wicked case of writer's block. Thank you so much for your patience, support, and incredibly kind reviews. I don't know if you realize, but they absolutely make my week and inspire me to write chapter after chapter (even when I'm feeling too lost to write anymore). So, THANK YOU, lovelies. :DDD

In other news, what a long chapter! But I hope you enjoyed it. Bear with Rory. I know she's being awful at times, but she's really just confused and is trying to put all that James business behind her so they can start afresh. I think she's finally growing up! Anyway, I'd seriously love to know what you thought! Tell me in a review if you have the time. Thanks so much for reading and following this!

- emma (:


Chapter 5: Simply Learning a Lesson
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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize. That being said, I definitely don't own David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, the Beckhams, or any characters mentioned from P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels (points to anyone who catches the reference!).
 





Utterly glorious and beyond dishy chapter image by cast!el @ TDA





"Don't read too many books now, alright?"

I stifle an eye roll, fidgeting with the asymmetrical hem of my high-waisted floral skirt. "Yes, Mum." 

"And don't focus too much on your studies," advises Mum, smoothing my hair fondly. "It makes you a bit of a wet blanket."

This time, I allow my eyes free rein. "Cheers, Mum."

"You know your mother only means well," says Dad, his emerald eyes twinkling beneath his sandy fringe and glasses. "It's your final year, and we just ― "

"Want me to have fun, I know," I finish for him, grinning as I politely refrain from mentioning that I overheard them practising this very speech in the kitchen weeks ago. From what I (innocently) heard floating down the corridor to my room, they had cue cards, projector slides, fancy pens, and everything. "Honestly, I'm not that swotty." 

Mum and Dad exchange meaningful glances.

Yes, I may enjoy doing Arithmancy homework on a Friday night, organising prefect rounds on weekends, baking cat treats for Mrs. Norris, reading Muggle storybooks to Moaning Myrtle (alright, that one's a bit of a stretch), and learning orchestral instruments in my spare time, but I am definitely not what you'd call a swot. 

Well, maybe I am. But honestly, I'd save that endearing term for Dom's older cousin Molly ― she's as swotty as they come.

In fact, if she were any more of a swot, we'd probably call her "Gussie Fink-Nottle", although, come to think of it, her face is distinctly un-fishlike. That, and her dad's the one with the horn-rimmed spectacles and newt obsession.

Moving on. 

Mum's forehead wrinkles as she pats my cheek, her features softening. "Oh, sweetheart, we were never suggesting that!" Cue inner snort. "It's brilliant you care so much about getting good marks, it really is, but we just don't want you to miss out on any opportunities. You know, you're ― "

"Only a seventh year once." Briefly grasping her hand, I smile sincerely, yielding to a rare moment that will undoubtedly be forgotten in a few seconds' time by the next completely absurd thing that comes out of Mum's mouth ― probably some waffle about finding myself a decent lad and a good pair of stiletto heels, both of which are sure to be mutually exclusive. "I know, Mum."

Suddenly, she squeezes my fingers and gives me a watery smile, her hazel eyes too bright in the gleaming, cloudless sunlight surrounding the noisy bustle of King's Cross. "Oh, Rory..."

"Mum, please," I mutter, a dull flush saturating my cheeks as I warily take a step back. "Don't start crying, not now. You were doing so well, the speech was going swimmingly and everything...." 

Flinging her arms around my neck, Mum sniffs loudly, "Oh, my darling, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was baking you fresh scones and trying to ring up the petting zoo for you ― "

"Actually," I point out awkwardly, disentangling myself from Mum's arms, which are still knotted about my neck, "that was about a month ago."

She blinks, utterly nonplussed. "Good Lord, was it really?"

"You tried to organise a catered visit from the petting zoo after hearing I'd made Head Girl," I remind her slowly, embarrassedly tucking a strand of dark red hair behind my ear. "A petting zoo, Mum." 

A small throng of chattering parents and students, who have been busily milling about the platform, now stop dead in their tracks to stare curiously at us at the mention of petting zoos.

Yeah, we'd all like one, I'm sure. Stare a little longer and you lot will get yourselves a bit more than just a mum who'll ring the petting zoo for you as well. Honestly.

I clear my throat emphatically. "Nothing to see here, folks. Budge along." Almost instantaneously, the tiny, murmuring crowd dissipates, a few of them casting us peculiar glances as they scatter.

That's right. You better run.

"Right, then," Mum offers uncertainly, still snuffling as she toys with her silver bracelet. "Well, time certainly flies, doesn't it? I can't believe the holidays are already over, and now you're leaving us...."

Pulling Mum into a one-armed hug, I tease half-heartedly, "Oh, you're only sore that you won't have anyone to gossip with while I'm gone."

"Fair point," agrees Mum, dabbing at her eyes with a white handkerchief. "Mrs. Johnson next door is too toffee-nosed to be bothered talking about anything other than her precious runner beans."

Clearly, my mother loves me to bits. It's good to know I serve a purpose in her life. 

Dad, obviously at a loss for words for all of us, whips out a small, meticulously wrapped parcel from the inner pocket of his ever-so-stylish tartan Mac ― to his credit, anoraks are probably still in vogue somewhere round the Isle of Wight ― and declares cheerily, "Here, Rory, we got you these as a bit of a going-away treat!" 

An involuntary smile stretching across my face, I happily accept the parcel from Dad and begin to unwrap it, a fair idea of what lies inside already forming in my mind. Generally, we Ponds follow the same tradition at King's Cross every year, and the ceremonial gift-giving from my parents ― the parcels always contain yummy treats ― typically precedes my sentimental send-off on the Hogwarts Express. "Aww, Mum, Dad, you didn't have to!" 

But the pudgy, naughty, biscuit-nicking little girl in me is quite glad they did.

Dad positively beams, throwing his arm affectionately around Mum's shoulders. "We know how much you adore your chocolate digestives, and seeing as this is the last time we'll get to ― " He breaks off hesitantly, and for the first time all morning, his smile begins to tremble slightly. "Ah, well. At any rate, I suppose you'll enjoy them on the train, won't you? Blimey, I can't believe this is really the last time we'll do this...." 

Beside him, a strange mixture between a snort and a sob escapes Mum. "Really, has there ever been a year when we didn't get you a packet of your favourite biscuits? If you hadn't inherited my good genes, you would've been a tubby little thing by now...."

Without warning or preamble, we're all suddenly crying ― not weeping or anything overly sappy, mind you ― and clutching each other as though David Tennant has just announced a keen romantic interest in men, and it takes nearly all the energy I have to extract myself from our cosy embrace.

I love my parents. I really do.

"Now Rory, if you don't provide me with grandchildren in the next ten years with that Potter boy, I swear to Cumberbatch I will die of a broken heart."

I spoke too soon.

How was my mother not a Slytherin? She's too crafty a lass to really be a Muggle. 

Oh, I've got my eye on you, Mum. 

"Well, we can't have that, now can we?" remarks Dad, circling his arms around Mum's waist and giving her a peck on the forehead. "What can I possibly do to prevent this?"

Emitting a girlish giggle, Mum brings her hand lovingly to Dad's cheek and says coyly, "I'm sure you'll manage something...." 

Oh, for the love of all things Paddy Moloney, why must my parents be so irritatingly sappy in public places? Yes, clearly we've established you're still in love, and true, you both obviously contributed to the effort of giving me life ― don't think about it, Rory,don't think about it ― but is it absolutely necessary for you to actively display your spiciness as a couple in front of everyone and their grandmother in platform nine-and-three-quarters?

"Oh, cut the dramatic face," drawls Mum, jolting me from my teenage angst-ridden inner monologue. I hadn't realised I'd been picturesquely mime-vomiting. "We're barely even holding hands, Aurora, at least your father doesn't have his hands in my back pocket ― "

"Olivia," warns Dad, the corners of his lips twitching with subdued laughter. 

"God save our gracious Queen," I begin singing, stuffing my fingers in my ears immaturely.

"What?" says Mum puckishly, rounding on Dad. "I'm only being honest. At least I didn't mention the time we were in King's Cross and you ― "

"Olivia!"

" ― long to reign over us, God save the ― "

"Don't flatter yourself, Rory," Mum interrupts peevishly. "You're not doing yourself any favours right now, singing in the middle of the blooming platform."

I snort humourously, folding my arms across my chest. "Like you're one to talk. You and Dad can't keep from making googly eyes at each other for more than five seconds."

"True," agrees Mum sagely, intertwining her hand with Dad's, "but we did give you life, darling. I think we're fully entitled to making googly eyes at this stage in our relationship, don't you?"

Jamming my fingers in my ears once more, in the event that Mum and Dad begin snogging ― or worse, begin exchanging sweet nothings in between snogging ― I prepare to launch back into another rousing verse of "God Save the Queen", when I am thankfully interrupted by a non-familial distraction in the form of my best mate.

"Hullo, everyone!" I hear Dom say brightly, flouncing happily toward our merry little caravan-slash-lovefest, her pale denim dress rustling in the slight breeze. 

Withdrawing my fingers from my ears and completely ignoring my cloyingly sweet parents, I reply casually, "Hi, Dom! Where's the rest of your humongous family?"

Like it never even happened.

I've got 99 problems, but a Snitch ain't one.

Dom pulls her trunk to a halt, tossing her strawberry blonde hair over her shoulder nonchalantly. "They're over there ― " she twitches her head in the direction of a swarm of redheads, smattered sparsely with raven-haired individuals " ― making a fuss over James and Albus. You know, the Head Boy and the family prefect." Her eyes flicker briefly to my amourous parents and, with a tiny smirk, she adds, "Alright, Mr. and Mrs. Pond?"

Somehow, they manage to unglue themselves from each other's lips long enough to chorus, "Hello, Dominique!"

What decorum.

"Listen, Mum, Dad," I begin, fiddling with the sleeves of my top, "d'you think you could ― "

No, never mind. It seems they've already recommenced their spirited snogfest. 

"Er, sorry about that," I apologise to Dom, jerking my head toward my parents, who are now giving a spot-on, G-rated impersonation of a pair of eels thrashing about on the platform. 

Well, no. Really, they're only gazing adoringly into each other's eyes and grinning like absolute loons. 

Pfft, nuances

"No worries," replies Dom easily, her response punctuated by the shrill warning whistle of the Hogwarts Express. "You ready to find a compartment?" 

I nod eagerly. "Let me say goodbye to David and Victoria over there and I'll meet you with the rest of the Wotters, yeah?"

"But I thought your parents' names were Charles and Olivia," says Dom blankly, appearing puzzled. 

I grimace, waving a hand dismissively. "Er, Muggle reference. Never mind. I'll see you in a moment, alright?"

"Just don't take too long," Dom calls over her shoulder with a wink as she strolls off. "I'm sure James will want to see you as soon as possible ― "

"Oh, sod off," I retort, suppressing a grin and turning back to my parents, who are now surveying me rather contritely, their hands merely clasped together and faces curiously detached of each other. 

"Ready to go, sweets?" asks Mum kindly, reaching out to ruffle my hair. 

Oh, yes, right after I spend a tidy sum on therapy for the pash-a-palooza I've just witnessed between you two.

"I reckon so," I instead choose to say, hiding a smile. So my parents are crazily in love with each other. Truth be told, it's possibly the best thing I could ask for them to be. 

Wait, am I having a mature moment here? Quick ― must ruin shining moment of insight with sarcastic, immature comment 

I've got nothing. 

I really am turning into a swot.

"I love you, Aurora," whispers Mum fiercely, wrapping her arms around me and planting a kiss on the top of my head. "Really, sweetheart, I'm just so ― " Mum tightens her clasp on me " ― bloody ― " she sniffs theatrically " ― proud of you ― "

"Mum!" I cry, scandalised as I pull away to look at her. "You just swore in public!"

She merely swipes at her eyes, flicking her hair over her shoulder. "Let this be a lesson to you, Rory: swearing in train stations is fair game if it's the last time you're sending off your only child to school. Remember that."

"...noted." 

She laughs, giving me one last squeeze. "Really, love, your father and I couldn't be more chuffed at how beautiful, clever, brave, and kind our favourite daughter's turned out to be." 

"I'm your only daughter," I comment dryly, swatting away her hands.

"Nuances," says Mum breezily.

I roll my eyes and turn to Dad. "Well, I s'pose this is it, isn't it?" 

He only laughs shakily and closes the gap between us, folding me in his arms. "Couldn't be prouder of you, Rorybird." 

Astonishingly, I blink back tears at the use of his affectionate pet name for me. "Thanks, Dad. I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you as well," he murmurs into my hair, and I hug him firmly one last time before ending the embrace. The train's penultimate warning whistle rents the air, denoting a short time frame of five minutes before the Hogwarts Express emits its final whistle and departs.

"Oh!" Mum suddenly rummages around in her leather handbag. "I nearly forgot, we brought you a little something else." At last, she manages to procure a rather large, nondescript package from its depths ― how can something that large fit in her purse without an Undetectable Extension charm? She's a Slytherin, I tell you ― and hands it to me, beaming. "I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty of baking a few of your favourite treats."

My eyes widen, along with the grin that spreads across my face. "Of course I don't mind! Thanks, Mum! That's really sweet of you." 

"Your father helped," she adds, still smiling.

I raise an eyebrow sceptically. "Is this true, Dad?"

On multiple occasions in which oddly burnt biscuits have been mysteriously chucked in the rubbish bin, Dad has been cited saying primly, "I wouldn't touch your mother's baking utensils with a fifty-foot barge pole."

"Well, you know," says Dad gruffly, "I just wanted to chip in. I only broke a few eggs and stirred things a bit, but yeah, I suppose I helped."

Touched, I fiddle with the string wrapped around the parcel and say warmly, "Thank you. Really."

"Not at all," replies Mum cheerfully. "Now, you'd best get on the train before it leaves and you're stuck here with us for the term."

You only wish, Mum.

"Alright, alright." I clutch the handle of my trunk with one hand and lift Marigold's cage with the other, blinking back at them hesitantly. "I promise I'll write often."

Dad nods, smiling as he takes Mum's hand. "Go on, Rory. I think your friends are waiting."

Sure enough, my gaze lands on the Wotter clan ― just saying that makes them sound like some sort of vegetable-grazing, river-dwelling family of otters ― and a few of them are waving in my direction. 

"Come along, Pond!" yells Dom, grinning madly next to Rose and Albus. Strangely, James ― I wonder if I'll ever get used to calling him by his first name ― is missing in action.

I smile sheepishly at my parents and nod. "See you at Christmas. I love you!"

"Love you more!" Mum and Dad say simultaneously as I begin to walk away, my eyes still trained on the pair of them. "Tell the Potters hello for us!"

"Don't worry, I wi ― "

"Here, let me get that for you," cuts across a deep, musical voice with a slight West Country lilt. As I whirl around to meet the sparkling eyes of James, he simply leans down and grabs the handle of my trunk from my grasp, striding along with it as though it weighs no more than a kitten and acting as if he does chivalrous stuff like this all the blooming time (which he does).

Hang on. I think our hands just brushed. Why did our hands just brush? WHY am I freaking out about our hands possibly just brushing?

The holidays have turned me into a hypochondriac.

"Alright, Rory?" He stops a few paces ahead and glances back at me, smiling. 

Something's different about him. Granted, I haven't seen him since his birthday party at the end of July ― dare I say it, a fun affair; he only asked me for a birthday snog once (I kissed him cautiously on the cheek instead, and he said he wouldn't wash the spot for weeks) ― and while I doubt one month is enough time for his appearance to change drastically, there's just something about him I can't quite put my finger on. 

"Did you get a hair cut?" I ask curiously, eyeing his dark, predictably windswept hair as I catch up to him and we continue walking.

He shakes his head, still sporting that sunny smile of his. "Afraid not. Do I look as though I need one?" 

"No!" I say hastily, a blush colouring my cheeks for some reason. "No, I just thought something about you looked different, and ― are you sure you didn't get your hair cut?"

James appears vastly amused, running a hand through his hair. "Quite certain."

"New glasses, then?" I say hopefully.

"I've never worn glasses, Rory."

"Right. Of course. Forget I said anything." Stupid, stupid. I knew that. I shouldn't badger him further, I really shouldn't. It's all about self-control and restraining my curiosity and ― 

"D'you think maybe you've grown taller or something? Only, you just look ― "

I'm cut off by James laughing uproariously, throwing his head back and placing his hand over his heart as he does so. The sound that resonates from his throat is loud, happy, and infectious enough that several passersby ― mostly simpering Hogwarts girls and a few adults ― simply stop and marvel at him. 

It takes me a second to work out why, but then it hits me ― he's rather handsome when he laughs. Not that he isn't already handsome ― he's the firstborn of Harry and Ginny Potter, and I'm pretty sure he's got a Witch Weekly fan club named after him, not to mention a regular top spot in Cosmowitch's "25 Most Bewitching Bachelors" list ― but it startles me just how much his laugh utterly transforms him. 

He's kind of dashing.

And I'm having a rough time looking away from him as well.

Peer pressure. It'll get to you faster than an overnight owl delivery, guaranteed or your money back.

"Rory? Rory, are you alright?"

"What?" I ask, jerking out of my foggy state. "Sorry, I, erm...what was the question?"

James regards me carefully, his gaze inscrutable. "I just asked if you were alright. You went a bit funny there for a minute."

I laugh weakly, feeling my cheeks suffuse with heat. "Oh, sorry about that. I don't know what came over me. Is it hot out here or what?" I tug uncomfortably at the neckline of my top and compel my ankle booted-feet to keep moving. "It feels awfully hot today, doesn't it? Oh, look! There's Dom...."

As quickly as I can without looking entirely suspicious, I scurry over to where the Potters and Weasleys are clustered, Marigold's cage swinging at my side, the owl within hooting reproachfully at me. 

Being friends with this boy is turning out to be more troublesome than I thought it'd be.

"Finally!" says Dom exasperatedly, hugging me momentarily. "We thought you'd never make it over here. What kept you?" 

"You know, just catching up with James," I respond evasively, looking round at everyone but Dom. "Hi, Rose!"

Rose flashes me her typical Rose Weasley Beam™ in return, as per usual. "Wotcher, Rory! Your badge looks amazing."

"Oh, right. Thanks!" In all the hubbub with my parents and James, I'd nearly forgotten I'd pinned my shiny new Head Girl badge to my blouse earlier. 

swot: noun (pl. swots), 1. Aurora Pond : Beyond thrilled, Rory Pond pinned her Head Badge to her blouse before she even boarded the Hogwarts Express, the swot.

Rather covertly, Ginny Potter slips through the knot of Wotters and over to us. "What's this I hear about you and James?" The look of pure, unadulterated glee on her freckled face tells me she's thinking of one thing and one thing only: grandchildren.

"Rory and James were just catching up, Aunt Ginny," Dom chimes in helpfully, catching my eye. Treacherous bint. She can join my mum in Slytherin. "That's what took them so long in getting over here."

"Oh, really now?" Ginny observes me mischievously, a smirk dancing upon her lips. "Were you two talking of anything particularly interesting, Rory?"

Why are my parents, the Wotters, and the universe so bloody determined to shove James and me together in a broom cupboard?

Pulling as innocent a face I can muster, I merely dimple at Ginny. "We were only exchanging hellos, Mrs. Potter. Nothing too terribly exciting." 

Go on, then, put me in Slytherin as well. 

"Of course, dear," echoes Ginny, winking slyly and turning away to engulf Albus and Lily in goodbye hugs. I narrow my eyes at Dom, who inconspicuously whips around to chat with her parents.

"Are you sure you're alright?" James murmurs in my ear, appearing at my side and nearly giving me a heart attack. "You all but deserted me back there."

I flash him my most convincing grin, attempting to keep my voice from rising a few octaves in discomfort. "Of course I'm alright, are you alright?" 

I'm rubber; you're glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and completely distracts you from the original question.

"I'm fine, thanks," replies James politely, albeit perplexedly. "You know, if you want me to leave you alone for a bit, all you have to do is ask and I'll go. I don't mind ― "

"No!" I manage to squeak in protest. The baffled, slightly hurt expression on his face is enough to make me want to watch a Desperate Housewitches marathon with Argus Filch. Coughing hurriedly, I amend, "I mean, no. It's not you. Honest."

His eyes crinkling at the corners, James offers me a small smile. "Promise?"

"I promise," I assure him, mirroring his contagious smile. I think I've temporarily turned into a large, fluffy pillow. "Sorry, I'm just feeling a bit strange today, is all. Let's just find a compartment, shall we?" 

James shoots me a smirk. "Just the two of us?"

"Don't push your luck there, Potter," I counter easily, shoving his sneaky arm off my shoulder.

He shrugs and grins, not bothered in the slightest. "Thought it was worth a try."

"You really are the limit," I say sarcastically, but today, I can't even seem to work up any genuine frustration. 

"I know," retorts James cheekily, raking a hand through his hair. "You like it." Before I can even open my mouth to waspishly retaliate, he struts over to Ginny and pulls her into a hug. "Love you, Mum." 

She pats his cheek clumsily. "Love you, too. Now, you behave yourself, James Sirius. Try not to pester Rory to death, alright?"

Rolling his eyes, he kisses her cheek and steps back, his hand flying to the back of his extremely flushed neck. "Thanks for not embarrassing me in public, Mum. Really." 

Ginny's gaze meets mine for a moment, and a wry grin twists the corners of her mouth. "You're such a girl sometimes, James." 

"Mum!"

"Bye, Rory," says Ginny cheerily, hugging me. "If he annoys the hippogriffs out of you, feel free to hex him. Only joking!" she adds at James' pronounced scowl. "But not really," she whispers conspiratorially to me, as James exchanges a manly goodbye with Harry. "Merlin knows he could use a good Bat Bogey hex to deflate that pretty head of his." 

I snort as I begin to drift away from her. "I'll keep that in mind, Mrs. Potter. See you around!"

"Take care, love," she says sincerely, her lovely face stretched into a wide grin as Harry slips his arm around her waist. "And please keep that son of ours sorted!"

"Bye, Rory!" calls Harry, waving. "Have a good term." As he turns to Ginny, I hear him ask quietly, "You did tell her she can hex him, right?" 

Snort.

"I don't want to talk about it," mutters James as he breezes past me, towing my trunk and his as the train blows its final whistle and belches copious amounts of grey steam, its pistons raring. "Just grab Dom and let's scarper."

"I had no idea you were so sensitive, James," I call laughingly as we make to collect Dom. "No need to be poncey about it."

In response, he merely casts me a withering glance and brushes past me, onto the Hogwarts Express. 

"Aunt Ginny's right," reflects Dom, boarding the train with me. "He is such a girl sometimes."

"Sometimes?" scoffs Albus derisively, adjusting his black-framed glasses and trailing down the corridor after us. "James is such a girl all the time."

Well said, Albus. Well said.

"For such a girl, though, you must admit," states Rose logically, keeping equal strides with Albus, "he's got an entire fan club out there who's convinced he's about as manly as chopped liver."

"Hmmmm" seems to be the thoughtful consensus as we finally reach the compartment accommodating one James Sirius Potter. 

"Come on, James," I say spiritedly, setting down Marigold's cage and standing in front of him. "Get up. We've got to go start the prefect meeting down in the Heads' compartment."

He nods, the corners of his lips curving upward in a smile. "Alright. See you in a few, Albus. Later, Rose. Dom."

As we stroll out of the compartment and down the corridor, we end up chatting easily along the way and ― true to his word ― he doesn't even ask me out once. Instead, we sort of make up for some of the time we lost when we refused to be friends (okay, for the time I caused us to lose by refusing to be friends), and in the ten minutes we wait for the rest of the prefects to show up, our friendship progresses nicely.

You know, I reckon he's not half bad. This could work. I honestly think this newfound, slightly uncomfortable, mostly amiable friendship with James Potter could really work. 

And you can quote me on that.


*



I hate him. I absolutely despise him. I want to take that stupid wand of his and shove it right up his arrogant little ― 

"POTTER, YOU CANNOT CHUCK THE FIRST YEARS INTO THE BLACK LAKE TO TEST IF THEY'RE GRYFFINDORS! THIS IS WHY WE HAVE A BLOODY SORTING HAT!"

"Oh, calm down, Pond," he says dismissively from the other side of our shared boat, as two terrified first years flounder about helplessly in the Black Lake and the rest of the unSorted students (and Hagrid) look on in trepidation. "I'm just seeing if they're brave enough to swim!"

"How does levitating them into the lake and forcing them to float have anything to do with bravery?" I snap angrily, jabbing him in the chest with my wand.

"But that's what makes all the difference, though, isn't it?" he replies excitedly, as though it's the most brilliant, obvious thing in the world. How McGonagall made him Head Boy, I'll never know. "If they float, they're Ravenclaws; if they sink, they're Hufflepuffs; Gryffindors can swim, clearly, and Slytherins ― well, they just ― "

"Get them out now," I snarl, my eyes blazing. 

Holding his hands up placatingly, James eyes me warily. "Honestly, Rory, I think you're entirely overreacting."

"Overreacting? What on earth gave you that impression?"

"There's no need for sarcasm," huffs James, crossing his arms. "Don't get your knickers in a twist ― "

I laugh hysterically. "Oh, my knickers aren't going to be the only things in a twist here in a moment if you don't get the first years out of the sodding water ― "

Raising an eyebrow, James ruffles his hair and proffers me a signature Smug Smile™. I swear, I sometimes think he has split personalities. "Is that a promise, Rory?" 

"Your mum gave me permission to hex you, James. I'd really not test the waters right now, if I were you."

"Look, you made a joke! See, it's not all that bad ― "

"Potter!"

"Honestly, Rory, nothing bad's going to happen, they're simply learning a lesson in survival and ― OH MY GOD, IT'S THE GIANT SQUID!"

Case in point.





Author's Note: Hello, again! I'm alive. Can you believe it took me this long to post this? In addition to my 18 credit hours and multiple 0 hour music ensembles at university, I've had massive writer's block, so I apologize profusely for taking so long and for this chapter being less than awesome. Clichéd train station scene, anyone? At least I can safely say that the next chapter will be quicker-paced and more action-packed with James/Rory fluff, Hogwarts adventures, witty banter, and an actual plotline!

For all you parent-lovers out there, I hope I did Mrs. Pond and Ginny justice, since that's the last you'll be seeing of them for a while. As for Rory, she's sort of finally coming around, and James is...well, James. Anyway, favorite quotes? Anything you'd like to see more of? I really hope you liked it. Let me know in a warm, fuzzy review. (And I'm still working on responding to all the lovely ones I've received - you guys are so good to me!) Thanks for reading!

- emma (:

Chapter 6: Simply Potter
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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.

 






Mega fabulous chapter image by Kelso @ TDA


 


"So, what d'you think it'll be today?" asks Dom breezily, dropping gracefully onto the bench beside me at the Gryffindor table and immediately piling her plate with enough food to feed the entire extremely fit, unusually dishy Arsenal football club.

For someone who eats like a manic depressive Bulgarian Quidditch player, Dom is surprisingly fit.

It must be so difficult, being part Veela. Rough life and all.

I avert my eyes to the entrance of the Great Hall, demurely sipping my coffee. "Can't say I know what you mean, Dommy dearest...."

Abruptly halting in her efforts to load her plate with the most massive full English breakfast known to man and house elf, Dom sets down her fork and slowly turns to stare blankly at me. "Of course you do. It's the first day of lessons. What else would happen on the first day of lessons?"

"You mean, other than lessons?" I ask dryly, spooning a bit of potatoes onto my plate. "I can't imagine."

Flicking her fringe out of her eyes, Dom continues heaping eggs onto her plate and fixes me with a rather pointed look. "Oh, come off it. You know what I mean."   

"Really, I'm not sure I do," I lie indifferently, simultaneously stirring my black coffee and looking like the epitome of cool.

And I don't just look like the epitome of cool. I am the epitome of cool.

I'm minty fresh.

"Come ooooooon," moans Dom, her gaze becoming über meaningful as she waggles her eyebrows. "You know..."   

Widening my eyes in innocence, I put away a tidy bit of hashbrowns and chew casually. "All I know is that you look ridikkulus."       

Dom flicks a bit of tomato at me, which I craftily dodge. "You're such a rubbish liar, Rory. Admit it. You know exactly what I'm talking about ―  " 

"Lies!"   

"Every year on the first day of lessons," announces Dom, as though playing to a captive audience, comprised only of a few nearby Hufflepuffs hanging onto her every word with bated breath (and me), "James asks you out ― "   

"If you say it aloud, it might come true!"  

" ― and you know what," Dom ploughs on, her voice now a nice fortissimo, which can be heard over at the Ravenclaw table, perhaps even in Inverness, "I'm beginning to think ― " she pauses dramatically, raising her magnificent head and looking me square in the eye ― "that you like it."   

"I do not!" I gasp (along with the Hufflepuffs), nearly overturning a pitcher of pumpkin juice. "That's a ridiculous statement and you full well know it."   

Openly sceptical, Dom arches an eyebrow and spears a bit of sausage with her fork. While her choice of breakfast foods has extremely large, mustachioed man written all over it, Dom's table etiquette is remarkably ladylike. "Are you sure? Because, really, I think you do ― "   

"You take that back, Dominique Gabrielle Weasley!"  

"...you forget that I actually like my full name."   

"Ah. Well, this puts a premature end to our witty banter."   

Her eyes alight with a strange, wicked mischief, Dom plucks a strip of bacon from the platter in front of her. "So, is this you conceding defeat?"   

I burst into undisguised laughter, startling our Hufflepuff audience into looks so terrifically dirty, Severus Snape would feel the need for a bath. "Hardly. Like I'd ever be keen on James asking me out...."  

"But you do think he's going to keep tradition this year?" asks Dom slowly, her lovely visage serious as she scans me for any signs of an overreaction.    

Good Lord, she's even bothered to put her cutlery down.    

This spit is getting real.   

I sigh, spreading butter on my whole grain toast. "Look, Dom, he's past that sort of thing, don't you think? I mean, you heard what he said ― "   

"Oh, purrrrlease, Rory," scoffs Dom, waving around her bacon for sassy emphasis. "Just because he said it doesn't mean that he meant it. People say crazy things. Just 'cause you heard it ― "   

"Look," I cut her off, snatching the bacon from her and taking a bite. "Pott ― James and I have only just begun to repair what little friendship we still have. I'm not about to botch it up by..." I pause thoughtfully, then calmly polish off the rest of Dom's bacon strip. "...by not even having faith in him, y'know?"   

Another collective gasp issues itself from the ever so voluble Hufflepuff table ― I can already hear the headlines of the school's gossip rag, Hogwarts Hearsay (Potter and Pond: Together at Last? Head Boy and Head Girl: Headed for the Altar) ― but I honestly can't be bothered to care. I'm really more preoccupied with the eighth wonder of the world that is my toast.   

Yes. You heard correctly.   

What is it about Hogwarts toast? I honestly don't know if it's the magic, some sort of ancient Scottish secret ― is it made with sheep stomach while the house elves hold a céilidh dance in the kitchen? ― or the fact that it's baked daily by wage-earning house elves, but holy hippogriffs, if woman and bread were permitted to mate, I'd marry it in a heartbeat.    

But then I'd divorce it just as soon for overloading my thighs with carbohydrates and leaving me for another (bread-loving) woman.    

"...oh...my...Godric."   

I look up in the midst of my breadgasm to find Dom goggling at me with blue eyes like saucers, her jaw somewhat slackened. "Something on my face?"   

"You're really committed to this, aren't you?" breathes Dom, still ogling.  

I shrug, biting off a chunk of my toast. Mmmmm. "Yeah, but once it touches my hips, this relationship is over."  

"Wait, what are you talking about?"  

"Erm, my toast," I reply thickly, as though it's the most obvious thing in the world.   

Which it is.  

"Oh. I see."   

Suspiciously, I summon up the strength to raise a single eyebrow. Years of practice, my friends. "Wait, what were you talking about?"   

Dom merely shakes her shiny, part-Veela head, suppressing laughter. "Oh, nothing. It's just...well, for a moment there, I thought you were banging on about James...."

Suddenly, my beautiful, delicious toast crumples into the unconscious fist I form with my hand. "Why the Buckbeak would I ever let James get near enough to even touch my hips?"   

"My thoughts exactly," concurs Dom quickly, but her voice is still quivering with mirth. However, her tone swiftly becomes businesslike as she seizes another strip of bacon and points it at me. "But really, are you that committed to this...friendship thing?"   

"See, that's the thing about these 'friendship things,' Dom," I deadpan, offhandedly devouring another slice of toast. "They generally involve some level of faith in the other person and, yes, commitment." I shrug, nursing my coffee. "If he says he's not going to ask me out anymore, then I believe him."

"But he always makes a massive spectacle of asking you out on the first day," Dom points out logically, raising her mug of Earl Grey to her lips. "He's done it since third year."

"True," I admit reluctantly. "What was it again that he said? Oh, yeah ― "

"'To help me start the year off right,'" Dom and I echo, from when we asked James in fifth year why in Merlin's name he made such a tradition of asking me out on the first day back.

From there, he always popped the question at least twice a week, and it was never just a nonchalant 'Hey, Rory, would you like to come with me to the next Hogsmeade weekend?'

Nor was it a casual 'Fancy having dinner with me in the Great Hall, Goddess Divine?'   

And it was certainly not even a 'Shall we take a turn about the Black Lake and bask in the company of the Giant Squid, my pearl?'   

Oh, no. It was more of an irritating 'Oi, Aurora, go out with me?'

Or a 'Just say you'll be mine and be done with it, Pond.'

Sometimes with a tacked-on 'You know you want to.'

And occasionally with a 'please.'

Once, he even threw in a 'Baby, you light up my world like noboooody else,' but I hexed him before he could get in a 'the way that you flip your hair gets me ooooooverwhelmed.'

(No one should ever have the chance to finish that lyric. No one.)   

He even calls me by my full name. Nobody ever calls me by my full first name, not even my parents, unless I've spilled frog spawn on Mum's oriental rug. That was only once, though, at the end of my second year. Potter had slipped it into the pockets of my jumper at Platform 9 and 3/4 when I wasn't looking.   

I kept finding tadpoles in the bloody carpet for days.

When I asked James about calling me "Aurora" once, in fourth year, he simply shrugged and told me, in a rare moment of profundity, "It's a beautiful name. It'd be a shame for it not to be given its proper use."   

Well, believe you me, I feel quite the same way, but sometimes "Aurora" can be a bit of a mouthful.   

And then, if you please, he ruined the moment and asked me out right after that.    

(Unluckily for him, we had just learned Bat-Bogey Hexes in Defense Against the Dark Arts.)   

Albeit, it isn't as though he's asked me out the same way every time. He's actually gotten rather creative with it in the past, resorting to recitation of Shakespeare's sonnets, thoughtful utilisation of the Orchideous charm, and he even once spelled out the question in a lovely show of Wildfire Whiz-Bangs during breakfast one morning.   

(Dom never quite forgave either of us for that one. To be honest, her eyebrows have never really grown back the same since.)

What choice do I have but to say frankly, every time, "No thanks, Potter. I'd much rather end up alone with my cat and a tin of biscuits. But I must say, excellent job with the singing pygmy puffs, I think they're my favourite so far."   

I pride myself on being tactful.   

For some reason, though, he never took the hint. No matter how many times I looked him squarely in the eye and said, "Sorry, but I'm not interested in dating an arrogant toerag," he continued to pursue me, almost with renewed vigour.   

Even now, after our unusually deep conversation at Teddy and Victoire's wedding, I still don't understand. It's been nearly four years. I would've thought he'd have cottoned on and left me alone a little sooner.   

I also would've thought that the whole of Hogwarts would have found better things to do than observe the sordid affair of our strange relationship.    

Potter's gaggle of admirers, in particular, watched our interactions far more rabidly ― erm, avidly ― than I liked, and they informed me frequently that, despite being top of my class, I was really quite thick for turning down the James Potter.   

Even the girls who weren't daft enough to officially join his fan club ― it's true, they have jackets ― asked me almost daily, "How can you turn him down like that? I mean, he's James sodding Potter! You're a heartless harpy!"   

Yes, but how would you react if one of your best mates suddenly turned into another hormonal teenage boy who asked you out relentlessly, whether on a lark or not (if what James said recently was true)? After a few rounds, it turns into a complete joke, a never-ending game in which I must always stand my ground, all the while playing the part of the feisty, disinterested bad guy.   

Granted, I used to be loads nicer and far less heartless, but having a James Potter in my life puts perspective on things pretty quickly.   

And now here we are.   

"If it's any consolation," says Dom soothingly, patting me on the arm, "it's already half eight and there's still no sign of him."   

I contemplate nibbling on yet another slice of toast. "Yeah, I s'pose you're right."   

"Of course I am!" says Dom happily, as she continues tucking in. "I mean, look at it this way. If he hasn't even done anything yet ― "   

"Who hasn't even done anything yet?" asks a voice I recognise all too well, its raven-haired owner sinking effortlessly onto the bench across from Dom and me.   

"Professor Flitwick," I blurt out immediately, hastily pouring myself another cup of coffee as I avoid James's curious gaze. "We were just talking about how we couldn't believe he still hasn't done anything about his hair yet."   

What?   

Is an aside about Professor Flitwick's suspected metrosexuality really the best I can come up with?   

"Tragic," agrees Dom sympathetically, tutting.   

Clearly, she is a much better liar than I am.    

"You can't be serious," says James impassively, sliding his messenger bag off his shoulder and onto the ground.   

Attempting an affected sort of nonchalance, I blow lightly on my steaming coffee. "Oh, but I am."   

I'm absolute pants at this sort of lying thing. There's no way he's going to believe us.

Oddly enough, James merely raises his eyebrows as he begins filling his plate with food, his features carefully expressionless. "Wait, you mean to say that you don't just adore his current hairstyle?"   

...hang on. Was that...? Could it be...?   

I'm so floored by James making a valid stab at sarcasm, I nearly drop my ceramic kitten mug. Yes, there are hand-painted, frolicking kittens on my mug, and no, I don't need your validation.   

"Because I absolutely love it," continues James solemnly, no hint of a smile anywhere near his lips. "That hair must've been the highlight of the 70's."   

My jaw plummets. I can't remember the last time something James said has given me an itch to laugh aloud.    

"...of the 1870's, I mean."   

The Great Hall suddenly rings with clear, unabashed peals of laughter, and I instantaneously become aware of two things.   

One: The entire student population has become completely silent, save for the sound of uncontrollable laughter.   

Two: The source of said uncontrollable laughter?    

...me.   

"Steady on, Rory," says Freddy Weasley, James's and Dom's cousin, by way of greeting as he slides into the seat next to James. "Don't hurt yourself there, sweetheart."   

Scowling at Freddy's smirk, I push away my plate, all hunger for toast having evaporated ― along with my good mood ― as my disconcerted thoughts swirl frantically in my mind. When did James Potter begin to make me laugh? Really, it's been so long since we've been friends that it seems I've forgotten whether or not the bloke's actually funny. Apparently, while I was busy yelling at him for asking me out and treating him, well, rather awfully all those years, James was off becoming a fairly decent, likable chap who occasionally cracks good jokes.    

And when the bloody hellebore did sweet, slightly obnoxious, toe-raggy James equip himself with sarcasm? Has he been in possession of a sense of humour all this time?   

It would appear that, in my haste to brush off his pesky advances and automatically stereotype him into his tosspot ways without even giving him a chance, I have severely misjudged James Potter.    

Could all those dim-witted girls in his fan club have been right? Was it really I who had been in the wrong? Was it I who ―    

Who the flip am I kidding? Like those salivating bints could ever be right.   

For a moment there, I honestly thought I was going soft.   

"Look, James Potter made a joke, and I laughed at it ― so what?" I state acerbically, challenging the rest of our table with a glare as I hear yet another sharp intake of breath from the occupants of the Great Hall. Blimmin' gossipmongers, I think as I round on everyone else. "And what are you all gawking at? Nothing to see here, folks. Keep staring and I'll start docking points," I add sharply to the Hufflepuff table, who can't seem to tear their eyes away from the sight of James Potter and Rory Pond sitting across from each other without the assistance of a counselor, a brick wall, or a Bubble Head Charm.   

Honestly.   

"Well, are you lot just going to keep goggling at me like I'm some zoo animal or what?" I ask waspishly, attempting to sip my coffee with as much shredded dignity as I can muster.   

Without skipping a beat, everyone at the Gryffindor table immediately breaks out into a rush of hurried conversation, voices clamouring over one another in numerous attempts to divert the topic.   

"Does my fringe look alright to you? I cut it last night with my wand, but I think my razoring charm went a bit wonky ― "   

"What'd you think of the Puddlemere match last weekend? Thought it was an absolute massacre myself...."   

"So, I was reading this article in Witch Weekly the other day about the pros and cons of manscaping ― "  

"Newsflash, Freddy: you're not a witch."   

Gryffindor house, everyone.   

"Oh, look, McGonagall's finally passing out the timetables!" says Rose excitedly, interrupting my thoughts as she plonks down into the seat next to mine, rustling up her own plate of breakfast. "I hope I have arithmancy today!"   

I eye her with an obvious display of concern. "You rate numbers that much?"   

"No, she just wants to be in the same room as Scorpius Malfoy," interrupts Albus, joining the table.    

"Do not!" replies Rose hotly, her freckled cheeks burning. "I happen to find arithmancy to be a rather vast and stimulating subject ― "   

Albus snorts. "I'll tell you what else she finds vast and stimulating ― "   

"Albus!" I cry, scandalised.    

"Oh, come off it, Al," scoffs Rose, moodily stabbing a tomato as she glares at her cousin, "you're only sore because you've been pining away for Alice Longbottom all summer ― "   

I turn to look at Albus, whistling appreciatively. "Going after the Head of House's sprog? Excellent."   

Now it's Albus's turn to redden considerably. "Yeah, well, what about you and my brother?"   

"What about me?" asks James pompously, abandoning his fruitless crusade in defeminising Freddy and running a hand through his dark hair.   

"Hang on," says Albus suddenly, narrowing his eyes. "James, aren't you forgetting something?"   

Puzzled, James frowns. "Like what?"   

"Think about it," prompts Albus, an impish glint that I definitely do not like lighting in his startling green eyes. "What happens every year on the first day of lessons?"   

Oh, Godric, not this again.   

"Er...I dunno, other than lessons?" asks James perplexedly, munching on his whole-grain toast with butter. Weird. I'd forgotten he took his toast just like mine.   

Albus sighs exasperatedly. "Come on, mate, you know...." He jerks his head almost imperceptibly in my direction, arching his eyebrows suggestively.   

Stiffening ever so slightly, James squares his shoulders ― for a moment, I wonder if he's finally caught on to Albus's implication at the tradition ― and then, surprisingly, he lifts them in an indifferent shrug, avoiding my gaze entirely. "Sorry, Al. I've no idea what you're on about."   

"No use, Al," pipes up Dom, twitching her thumb at me. "I've already tried it on this one...."    

I clear my throat loudly. "Would you look at that? Here's McGonagall with the timetables...."   

"Here you are, Miss Pond," says Professor McGonagall briskly, handing me my own, rather full timetable and making her rounds at the table. "And you, Miss Weasley...Miss Weasley...Mister Weasley..."   

Albus snickers, peering over Rose's shoulder at her timetable. "Looks like Arithmancy today, Rosie."   

"Oh, shove off, Al."   

"Mister Potter," says Professor McGonagall, addressing James with a raised eyebrow, "I trust you are already organising Quidditch tryouts?"   

James shoots her a dazzling, dimpled smile, just oozing with smarm. "Yes, Professor. I have the date nailed down for this Friday. I even put up the flyer in the common room last night."   

Suck up.   

"Marvellous," replies Professor McGonagall, the corners of her lips twitching humorously. "I rather enjoy having the Quidditch Cup in my office, and should much like to keep it that way....Ahem, now, I would like to meet with you both in my office during your free periods this morning to discuss Head duties. See to it that you are both ― " her eyes linger on James for a moment " ― on time."   

"We'll be there, Professor," I answer promptly, beaming.   

Not surprisingly, Professor McGonagall returns my smile. Oh, the benefits of being a swot. "I look forward to it."   

"You're such a suck up," says smarmy James, the moment McGonagall moves out of earshot.   

"Yes, Professor," I mimic in a deep voice. "I even put up the flyer in the common room last night ― "   

Someone coughs, "Sexual tension!" right as Freddy decides to interject, "That's not what your mum said last night!"   

A supremely long, awkward pause follows as we all gape at him, collectively dumbfounded.   

"Erm, Freddy," I venture uncomfortably, "I don't think that's how it works...."   

Grimacing, James says faintly, "Come on, mate, that's my mum you're talking about."   

"Who happens to be your aunt," Dom points out grimly, inching away from Freddy.   

"Well, that's the end of that," I hear Albus mutter as we all gather our things and sweep from the table, leaving Freddy sitting alone and looking rather forlorn, poking at his oatmeal.   

He's a bit slow on the uptake, that one.   

"Eurgh, would you take a look at this," I groan, shoving my timetable under Dom's nose as we power walk like a pair of loons out of the Great Hall. It's pathetic, but I've never actually been late to a lesson.    

She scrutinises it with a gleeful look I wouldn't trust with a month-old kitten. "Ah, is that Divination I foresee for this afternoon?"   

"Har, har," I reply sarcastically. "Yes. If you must know, I've decided to stick with it and finish out school with a, erm, well-rounded curriculum."   

Honestly, I started taking Divination in third year as a bit of a lark, really. Thought I'd prove to everyone once and for all that I'm not such a swotty old wet blanket after all. For the most part, I think it worked.   

Well, marginally.    

"Well-rounded, eh?" echoes Dom, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "But if I recall correctly, weren't you telling me only last year about how imprecise this particular branch of magic was?"   

I shrug haughtily. "I don't recall saying such a thing...."   

"Use your Inner Eye to remember," suggests Dom mysteriously.   

"Funny thing, I believe my Inner Eye only deals with the realm of looking ahead," I respond politely, entering the Charms classroom and selecting a desk. "Not looking back."   

Dom chortles, dropping into the desk next to me. "Well, if it's any help, my tea leaves informed me at breakfast that you'll have a smashing time this afternoon."    

"Yeah?" I retort, taking out my quill and ink. "That's funny, because my Inner Eye is informing me you need to shut the he ― "   

"Good morning, everyone!" cries Professor Flitwick merrily, scrambling atop his usual pile of books in order to be seen by the class. I bet he doesn't have trouble being seen when he's wearing sparkly platform heels.    

Kidding. Mostly.   

As Professor Flitwick gives us the usual warm welcome back, James, perched comfortably in the desk to my right, leans over surreptitiously and whispers, "So I couldn't help overhearing ― "   

"Bet you could," I mutter, removing my Muggle notebook from my bag and turning to a blank page.   

" ― that you're still taking Divination this term," he finishes cheerfully. "Is that right?"   

I nod cautiously. "Yes..."   

Flashing me a grin, he settles back into the desk like it's a poolside chair. "Excellent. So am I."   

"Brilliant," I whisper back, meaning to sound sardonic, and yet I surprise myself with a smile. Of course, I'm just relieved that I'll have someone else there to share in the misery that is Divination, that's all. Besides, James and I are mates again. We'll have a grand old time, I'm sure.   

"Professor," I hear James say suddenly, raising his hand politely in the air. "Sorry, sir, but...have you done something to your hair? Only, it looks rather fetching."   

We're going to have a blast.


*


   
"Now, when recording your dreams in your diaries, I would like for you to be as vivid and descriptive with your details as possible," intones Professor Trelawney in her mistiest voice, her various bangles and beaded necklaces jangling as she flutters around the classroom like a frizzy butterfly. "Spare nothing, and use your Inner Eye to delve into the true meanings of your dreams...."   

Next to me, James is beginning to nod off, his chin propped up with his free hand while his other hand draws circles on the desk with the tip of his quill. Already we've recorded last night's dream in our brand new journals this period, and James nearly had himself hexed in his chair trying to sneak a peek at mine.    

Sharing a table with him is just the best.   

"Just tell me what your dream was last night," mumbles James, his eyelids drooping.    

I give him a withering sidelong glance. "Not a chance, Potter." When he turns to look at me disapprovingly, I correct myself. "James."   

"Why not?" he whines, tickling my arm with the feathery part of his quill.    

"Because," I manage to spit out in a whisper, squirming in my chintz armchair. "It's ― none ― of ― your ― busin ― will you stop that?"    

He immediately sits bolt upright, setting his quill to parchment. "Stop what?" His tone is all too innocent, a smirk twisting the corners of his lips.   

"I think you know exactly what I mean ― "   

"Ah, what is this?" Professor Trelawney materialises suddenly at our table like a fat, white rabbit hops prematurely out of a top hat in the middle of a coin trick. "Would you care if I took a look, my dear?" She gestures to my closed dream diary with a flourish of her mystical jazz hands.   

"Er, not at all, Professor," I say diffidently, offering her the journal while locking eyes with James as though I've just signed my own death warrant.    

If she reads my entry aloud, I may just snuff it right here and haunt this particular table forever.    

"Hmm, yes, yes," murmurs Professor Trelawney, trailing her pointer finger along the page. "Yes, indeed...very telling...."   

"Excuse me, Professor," says James smoothly, "but what's very telling?"   

I open my mouth to make a barbed remark, but Professor Trelawney swivels on the spot and fixes him with a highly affronted look, clutching her free hand to her chest. "My dear, dreams are private, sacred things, and are not to be shared unless the dreamer wills it so."   

"Which I do not," I add quickly. "Will it so. Just so we're clear."   

Professor Trelawney fingers the front of her shawl absently, nodding. "Very well, then."   

James squints at me probingly, fastening me with his hazel eyes in such a way that I hardly notice Professor Trelawney returning my diary to me and gliding away to the next table. "It's about me, isn't it?"   

My mouth runs dry. "Sorry?"   

He folds his arms across his chest, directing a smug smile at me. "Your dream was about me, wasn't it?"   

Blimey, he's good.   

"Of course not," I say dismissively, wrinkling my nose. "Not everything is about you, James."   

"You had a dream about me last night," he says gleefully, ignoring me. "Was it good? Was it everything you'd hoped for and more?"   

I make a disgusted noise in the back of my throat. "Sod off."   

James actually drops his dream diary out of shock, his mouth falling open. "Holy Buckbeak, you actually did dream about me, didn't you?"    

"I think you're the one who's doing the dreaming, here, James," I reply coolly, my grip tightening on my diary, but he isn't fooled. The look on his smarmy little face indicates that Christmas has, in fact, come early. "No dreams were had about you last night."   

So I had a dream about James Potter last night.    

Just the one. No one but Professor Trelawney ever needs to know that I dreamt about James and me playing wizarding chess out on the Black Lake while an Italian-looking Hagrid rowed us around in a gondola and sang romantic Puccini arias.    

No one.    

"Well, if you didn't have a dream about me last night, then it shouldn't matter if I read your entry, should it?" insists James, leaning over and trying to distract me with a winning smile as he reaches for the journal.   

My answering grin is every bit as jaunty as I dangle the diary out of his reach. "You heard Trelawney, James. Dreams are private."   

"That will be all for today," says Professor Trelawney enigmatically, breaking up our conversation and clinging to her woven shawl as we all pack up our things. "Continue to record your dreams each night, and when you next return, you will exchange diaries with a partner and interpret each other's dreams."   

"Hang on, what happened to dreams being private, sacred things?" I say incredulously, putting away my things. That hypocritical old bat.   

James slings an arm around my shoulder, his hand hanging perilously close to the diary in my hands. "If you want, we can get a head start on our next assignment and exchange diaries ― "   

"Never say that last bit to a girl if you ever plan on getting a date," I suggest lightly, removing his arm from my shoulder.   

James makes a quick pass for the diary, but again, I'm too quick for him. "Come on, just let me read the first sentence at the very least."   

"Nice try, but no," I say laughingly, shaking my head at his bright puppy dog eyes.   

He eyes the diary one last time, then casually begins shoving his things into his messenger bag. "You know, it's alright to dream about me, Rory." Raking a hand through his hair, he puffs out his chest. "I'm, well, kind of the stuff dreams are made of."   

"More like the stuff of nightmares," I counter, heaving the strap of my bag onto my shoulders and making my way out of the classroom.   

He pauses for a moment as we reach the end of the silvery ladder that hangs suspended from the classroom's trapdoor. "Are you ticklish?"   

"...no."   

A wicked grin spreads across his face. "That sounds like a yes."   

"Funny, that sounds like a no to me," I stammer, emitting a nervous laugh.   

Like I said. Rubbish at this lying thing.   

He begins walking slowly toward me, that ridiculous smirk of his plastered wide on his features. "I'll give you two options."   

"When did we decide I needed options?!"   

Holding up his hands as though weighing Galleons, he continues advancing toward me. "Let me read your dream entry ― "   

"Oh, so now I no longer have a right to privacy?" I say acidly, hurriedly backing away from him down the corridor. "Very classy."   

" ― or face my tickling wrath."       

That stops me dead in my tracks. "Did you seriously just ― "   

"Let's pretend for a moment that I said something else," James interjects awkwardly, allowing me to put a couple of paces between us.   

"I don't think any amount of pretending will make me forget that."   

James rubs the back of his neck, discomfited. "Yeah..."   

"So, then," I cast around wildly, scuffing my shoe against the stone floor.   

"Look," says James suddenly, hovering closer to me, "just let me read your entry, and no one gets tickled. Yeah?" He flashes me a breathtaking smile, as if to prove this is a wonderful bargain.   

I take one look at him and run.    

Halfway through my long distance running jaunt down the corridors, it occurs to me that I'm probably fighting a losing battle ― I mean, James is the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and I'm barely in shape enough to outrun a honeybadger ― but his vehement shout of "Prepare to be tickled, Aurora Pond!" miraculously spurs me on down the halls and up flights of stairs I never knew I had the thighs to traverse.  

Just as the portrait of the Fat Lady comes blessedly into sight, a flash of blue streaks past my ears, dissolving into sparkles that cause a nearby suit of armor to burst into an inspired bout of tap dancing.   

As my legs carry me on my homeward stretch, I twist my neck to scowl openly at James. "You son of a Snitch! Are you kidding me right now?"   

"Thought it'd slow you down!" he yells back sheepishly.   

"Then in that case, I regret nothing!" I cry defiantly, throwing a haphazard Impedimenta over my shoulder as I scramble through the portrait hole. To be honest, I'm not really aiming to hit him. The jinxing is more for the show of our little high-speed corridor chase.   

Luckily, the common room is only moderately filled with students, so I'm able to dance my way to the staircase without injuring anyone. And just like that, I'm home free the moment I sprint up the staircase; however, once I make it to the top, I pause to bask in momentary satisfaction as I watch James stumble and skid down the staircase-turned-slide to tumultous applause from the rest of the Gryffindors.   

As he slowly raises his head from the bottom of the staircase to meet my gaze, I flash him a triumphant grin, shrug, and say, "YOLO."  

It's true. Unless you're James's dad. Then you only live twice.  

Without another backward glance, I scurry into the empty seventh year girls' dorm and over to my four-poster, my heart racing as I debate what to do with my dream diary until I can come up with a tricky enough charm that will keep James from reading last night's entry when he analyses my entries for our next class.  

"No one will ever find it here," I mutter to myself, glancing up at the door quickly to ascertain that I won't be caught, and I lift up the corner of my plush mattress by hand. Sliding my hand in, I skim my fingers lightly over the surface to see how far under the mattress I can go ― hopefully not far enough that the mattress gremlins can get me; Hogwarts is full of them these days, and the house elves are too scared to go near them ― when the tips of my fingers brush against something solid.  

Why is it, when I have a brilliant idea, someone else always beats me to it?  

No matter. I'm Head Swot. Nothing will stop me on my mission of stealth.   

Digging deeper, my hand closes around what feels like a small book. My forehead wrinkling, I withdraw my find and stare woodenly at the invisible object in my grasp. "Revelio," I whisper, and a weathered, leather-bound journal materialises in my hand. Someone's been very clever, haven't they?   

But obviously not clever enough, if I've found what's probably someone's diary with a simple spell.   

A bit of advice, ladies: Never hide things you don't want to be found under your mattress in the hopes they'll remain hidden from overly curious girls with just a basic Disillusionment charm.    

Oh, wait. Wasn't I just about to do the same thing?   

Nuance.   

My wand is pointed meticulously at the aged lock attached to the book when the door to the dormitory flies open with a bang (and a sparkle? No, it can't be), revealing a blur I discern to be Dom, and I let out a sigh of relief I hadn't noticed I'd been holding as the blur careens into the lavatory in a strawberry-blonde whirlwind of glitter.   

Leaping nimbly to my feet, I stow the journal under my pillow, waiting for her to reappear. I'm sitting on the edge of my four-poster, twiddling my thumbs in an attempt to quell my curiosity toward the mysterious book, when Dom reemerges in a right state.   

Perhaps that's a bit on the understated side of things. She is clearly entering Stage One of her famous DomStrops™. They're pretty naff, as far as strops go.   

Step one? Plotting to murder someone. Wait for it.   

"I am going to murder my cousin," she manages to announce in a strangled voice (called it!), and I notice something different about her ― wanting to kill James is nothing new ― but can't place a finger to it.   

"What did James do now?" I ask sympathetically, and Dom jabs a finger at her extremely bushy, violently green unibrow, which I find it hard to believe I hadn't noticed until now. That puppy's impossible to miss, and it seems as though James didn't waste any time after sliding down that staircase. "Ah."   

Dom laughs hollowly, and I've a slight urge to wet myself in fear. "Oh, that's not all." She turns around slowly and I have to stuff my fist in my mouth to keep from outright laughing.    

The back of her skirt, right over her bum, is emblazoned with the glittering words, Touch this and die a most painful death.    

Charming.   

"I, er...I don't quite understand," I say bemusedly, and it's a mark of the strength of our friendship that I'm not laughing my head off.   

"Well, I was talking to Michael Davies outside of the portrait hole," says Dom tetchily, stroking her unibrow for some reason as she paces round the dorm, "when James came out, apparently on his way to the library ― "  

"Hang on, what was James doing, heading to the library just now?" I say abruptly, wondering briefly if we're talking about the same James. The one I know refuses to set foot within a two-metre radius of the library, claiming to have acquired his naturally-occurring bookish smarts via osmosis.  

As though James even knows what osmosis is.    

I'm a Muggleborn. My people practically invented osmosis.  

Dom halts, shooting me a glare. "D'you really think I give a flying f ― "  

"You were saying," I interrupt quickly, and this seems to mollify Dom, who resumes her pacing and unibrow-stroking.    

"Anyway, Michael and I were chatting ― I'd bet my broomstick he was about to ask me to the next Hogsmeade ― when James spotted us and told Davies to bugger off."   

"He did not!" I gasp at the appropriate time, and Dom nods furiously.    

We are so trivial.   

"And then," she seethes, quite livid, "he started doing me in for flirting with Davies and parading myself around like some sort of scarlet woman ― "  

"What?" I laugh incredulously. "You're joking."   

" ― so I told him to sod off, that I wasn't parading myself about ― "  

"Of course you weren't," I say placatingly.  

"He told me not to 'get shirty' with him, and," Dom continues angrily, her slight French accent becoming more pronounced in her ill temper, "he simply turned to Michael and said, 'Sorry, she's not allowed to date until she's thirty-five, so don't even think about ogling her bum like that.'"   

I stare at her, appalled. "You can't be serious."  

"Like a Black," replies Dom gravely.   

There's a slight pause on my end, until I finally ask, rather awkwardly, "Was he really ogling your bum?"   

"Not the point, you div!"  

I scoff derisively. "Oh, sure, Michael Davies acts like a typical, chauvinistic male, staring at your bum, but the real issue here is James being overprotective of you. How dare he!"   

Dom narrows her eyes, taking a glittery step forward. Tiny spangles go flying everywhere, and the effect is quite fairy-posh. "Are you siding with James?"   

"...no?"  

She snorts. "Thought so."  

"I'm not siding with James," I say loftily, inspecting my fingernails. "I'm simply empathising with the motives behind his actions. Definitely not siding."  

"Of course you're not," deadpans Dom, twirling her hair idly, "except for the fact that you are."   

Well, Fawkes. Am I really?    

"It would appear so," comments Dom, surveying me amusedly from under her green unibrow.  

I clear my throat defeatedly. "I said that aloud, didn't I?"   

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, I'm taking Occlumency on the side now from Uncle Harry." Dom rolls her eyes theatrically. "Yes, you muppet, you said that aloud."   

Well, pants. Terrible habit of mine, blurting things out. Not nearly as bad as my flaring nostrils habit, though.   

"Look," I say at length, attempting damage control and nervously patting down my nostrils, "I'm really not siding with James. I just think he has a point. Which he obviously went about in the wrong way," I add hastily as Dom raises her unibrow dangerously.   

She eyes me warily, pressing her lips into a thin line, and sighs after a moment. "I know. But you used to agree with me when he pulled idiotic stunts like this. You know, back before your..." She shivers distastefully, all but spitting the words out. "...friendship thing."   

"Yes, but...isn't it nice to have someone in the middle? You know, someone who can mediate, see things from all sides, and..." I trail off feebly under Dom's forceful glower.    

Okay, time for a new approach.   

"Look, Dom, you know I agree with you," I say firmly, switching tactics. "I just think you're overreacting just a teensy bit ― "   

"Overreacting?" Dom all but shrieks, flapping her hands wildly about her face like a ravenous pterodactyl with a spotty face. "Have you seen this?"   

I sigh, calmly maintaining eye contact. "Dom, chill out. You're still the most beautiful person at Hogwarts." It's sad, but it always works. Dom's weakness is, like any other part-Veela, her beauty. I swear she's not shallow.   

...just, you know, on occasions like this.   

"I have a green unibrow," says Dom flatly.    

"Still the most beautiful person in the world," I try again optimistically, with good feeling.   

Her lower lip protruding the tiniest bit, she widens her shining eyes at me. "You mean it?"   

I nod fervently, hoping to appease her further. "Cross my heart."   

"Are you sure? Because I ― "   

"What, do you want me to make an Unbreakable Vow or something?"    

"No, no, I believe you," replies Dom sweetly, smoothing the front of her uniform jumper.   

Well, that was easy. I should have my own reality show or something. Aurora Pond: Veela Tamer sounds about right.   

"I still can't believe the tosser did that," growls Dom under her breath, and I assume she's referring to James, as her hands continue to brush the back of her skirt.   

"There's more, isn't there?" I prompt, arranging myself comfortably on the bed. It takes nearly all my self-control as a spectacular best mate not to allow my eyes to flicker toward the journal hidden under my pillow.    

Merlin, my fingers are practically itching with curiosity.   

"More?" echoes Dom, her tone becoming shrill again as she angrily swipes at the seat of her skirt. "If there were any more glitter on my bum, even Dumbledore would feel heterosexual ― "  

"I meant, more to the story," I cough awkwardly, averting my eyes from the flashy glitter.  

I must admit, James performed a tricky bit of magic, embroidering Dom's bum like that. All the same, I can't help but wonder why he'd know a bedazzling spell ― if I recall correctly, I came across an article on fabric bejeweling charms in Witch Weekly once ― and I decide to save that concern for another time. Still, it mightn't hurt to suggest a career in fashion designing to him at our next Heads meeting.   

James Potter, fighting crime one bedazzled skirt at a time!   

Ooh, or What do the words 'Potter,' 'school,' and 'bejewel' have in common? Everything.   

Genius. I can see it now. He'll thank me one day.   

"Right," says Dom at last, just as uncomfortably. "There is more."    

"Which I'm sure will explain the unibrow," I add helpfully, but slowly inch away from the sheer power of Dom's glare. "Looks fab, by the way ― "   

"Shut it, Rory!"   

"Shutting!"   

Flashing me a smug smile, Dom crosses her arms and launches back into her tale. "Well, anyway, after James forbade Michael to ogle my bum ― "   

"Did you really just use the words 'forbade' and 'ogle my bum' in the same sentence, just now?"   

"I told him, in the most diplomatic way I could, mind ― "   

Translation: "I used my choicest bilingual swear words."   

" ― that he was being a nosy git and had absolutely no business messing around with my private affairs ― "  

"Well, neither does Davies, really," I point out reasonably. "If you know what I mean ― "   

With a brisk flick of her wand, Dom mutters, "Langlock!" and smirks at me, fingering her wand idly. Just to check ― it's probably pointless anyway; Charms was always Dom's strongest suit ― I attempt to speak yet another of my witticisms, but sadly find that my tongue has become glued to the roof of my mouth.   

Brilliant.   

Swot that I am, the first thing I think is, Is this something I've come across in the Standard Book of Spells, Grade 7?   

And it's only the first day of classes.   

"Now that I won't have any more interruptions or snide comments," says Dom pointedly, pocketing her wand, "I shall continue with my story."   

I am so going to dock House points for this.   

"Oh, don't look at me like that," drawls Dom as I cross my arms grumpily. "You'll be pleased to hear I at least got in a hex of my own ― "   

"Oi, Dom!" comes the voice of Julia Wood, one of our dormmates, from the doorway. "James is at the bottom of the staircase, wanting to know if you'll give him the countercurse for his extremely large head."   

Dom laughs. "Yeah? What'd you tell him?"   

Julia's face splits into a mischievous grin. "That maybe he should try being humble for once."   

Rolling her eyes, Dom smirks. "I don't think he'd know how to be humble if he tried." Eagerly, she turns to me and performs the countercurse for Langlock. "There's no way I'm going to let you be mute when you see this. He looks hilarious."   

Massaging my throat, I arch my eyebrows. "You sure he looks any different? The James I know always has a humongous head...."  

Well, the James I knew before this summer.   

"You're probably right," concedes Dom, cocking her head to the side. "Come on, though, you'll still want to see it. Let's go!"   

"I'll be down in just a moment," I call, as she bounds across the dorm and out the door with Julia, while I wrest the diary from its hiding place and draw the curtains around my four-poster. Even if Dom were to come in at this very moment, she wouldn't be able to disturb me, as she full well knows that drawn curtains mean privacy. Even she can respect that, nosy as she is.   

"Alohomora," I whisper, just in case one of the other seventh year girls walks in, and the lock on the diary clicks unexpectedly.    

It can't really be that simple, can it?   

With bated breath, I open the book and turn to the first page, on which ink is scribbled in neat handwriting belonging to a girl. Or an extremely effeminate boy.


Just as a preface, if you're reading this ― which, firstly, I honestly can't see why you would, as this is hardly a Fifi LaFolle novel, and secondly, I've done some pretty clever magic on this thing so that it's nearly impossible for anyone to read ― your viewing of this diary is only made possible through the curse of James Potter.
   

You've got to be joking.
   

To elaborate in simpler terms, I have charmed the lock on this diary to open only for someone who is plagued by the social disease that is James Potter. As I seem to be the only person in the whole bloody world who has this problem, it seems safe to say that this will only ever be seen by my eyes.   

That is, unless that idiot Potter goes and has a son with some poor, incredibly Confunded girl, has the ego to name him after himself, and sends the boy in question off to Hogwarts, where he, like his arrogant toerag of a father, revives the cycle of torture for some poor girl and pesters her to death by asking her out on a daily basis.
 

Well, she practically hit the nail on the head with that one.
   

That being said, it seems highly unlikely, as I doubt Potter will ever find a willing, non-Confunded candidate to bear his children.   

Scratch that. I forgot about his fan club.   

Moving on.

If, by some miracle of God, another James Potter has appeared in the timeline of the magical world and some helpless girl who has been afflicted with his presence finds this diary at Hogwarts ― we're talking remote chances here, people ― then this diary can be unlocked with a simple Alohomora.

Tricky magic, right?


Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no.


So, like I said, the chances of anyone ever reading this are pretty scarce.

But if you are reading this, you have my deepest condolences.

   
As I reach the bottom of the page, I notice that the signature, which reads 'Lily Evans, Head Girl,' is followed by the date: September 1, 1977.


'If, by some miracle of God, another James Potter has appeared in the timeline of the magical world...'

Of course. I would be that helpless girl.

Fan-bloody-tastic.






Author's Note: Firstly, I'd like to apologize to anyone who is still following this crack fic of mine. I never imagined it would take this long to update for you all, but the summer holidays (university, teaching drumline, singing in choirs) have taken up my life, not to mention I've had to frequent coffee shops just to obtain internet. I know it's no excuse for not updating sooner, but I really, truly hope the amount of witty banter and snark in this chapter makes up for it all, you lovely people.

Secondly, thank you so much for your wonderful, mega sweet reviews. I still haven't gotten round to responding to them, but I will. Seriously, you guys are all so amazing.

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