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I found Harriet in the library reading a book about animaguses. I stood guiltily at her table waiting for permission to sit down. She ignored me for a full two minutes so I ended up sitting down anyway.

“Harriet,” I began. She frowned as though deeply interested by something in her book.

“Harriet… I’m sorry that I was so rude to you last night. Please tell me what happened with Rufus. I really, really wanna know!”

She gave a little sniff and turned the page.

“And I’m really sorry that I shouted at you when you said that I like Giles.”

She raised her eyebrows in mock shock and leant closer over the pages.

I sighed inwardly. Here goes.

“And,” I said quietly. “I’m sorry that I never told you that I liked him. ‘Cause you were right; I do.”

She snapped her book shut so suddenly that I almost fell off my chair in fright.

“Did you know,” she said eagerly, leaning towards me. “That there was a man in Tibet who could transform into an ant?” her eyes were wide, curls bouncing. “It’s true! He got killed ‘cause someone stepped on him.”

“Jesus. What an idiot!” I exclaimed, so relieved I could have cried. I should have known Harriet would have been quick to forgive me.

She looked back down at the book in disbelief. “I wonder what it says on his gravestone. ‘Death by squishing.’”

I laughed. “’Trodden on by giant shoe.’”

She giggled and patted me on the head. “Funny ginger.” she murmured, standing to place the book back on its shelf. I followed her hurriedly.

“So, are we okay?” I asked uncertainly. She slotted the book into its place neatly and turned to me.

“Tarzan like Jane.” she said determinedly, and enveloped me in a strong hug.

God, I love that girl.

After a couple of minutes, worried that people would mistake us for mad lesbians, I pushed her off me.

“So,” I said, linking arms with her and leading her out the library. “What’s happening with Mr. Comroy?”

She dipped her head in a rare act of shyness and I shook her slightly.

“Tell meeeee,” I whined.

“He, erm…well, he might have kinda…kissed me…sorta.” she spluttered.

I stopped in my tracks causing her to stumble. “He kissed you!” I squealed, hardly able to contain my excitement.

She nodded, and looked oddly distressed by this. “It’s gonna be so awkward in Herbology! How can I work with him now?”

I laughed. “Don’t be stupid! This is fantastic!”

She grimaced. “But what am I going to say to him? What does this mean? Are we going out now? What if he never meant to kiss me? Ohmigod! What if he regrets it?”

I slapped her lightly on the face. “He doesn’t regret it, it won’t be awkward, and tomorrow in Herbology you’re going to act exactly as you always do.”

She bit her lip. “Okay. Exactly as normal…”

I nodded encouragingly. “Yeah, it’ll make him even more mad for you.”

She chuckled and her eyes glazed over for a moment as though she were anticipating their next meeting. I raised an eyebrow and stopped myself from gagging.

“Oh,” she said suddenly, her face falling. “What are you going to do about Roxanne and Giles?”

I groaned. “Nothing,” I mumbled.

What could I do about it now?

“Fred’s mad at me,” I told her.

She pulled an odd expression and cocked her head to one side. “Why?” she asked slowly.

We were at the portrait hole now, and I clambered in, embarrassed.

Luckily, no one of any relevance was in the common room. I sat down heavily at my favourite table in the corner.

“I told him I liked Giles.” I mumbled.

Harriet sat down opposite me and pulled a bag of Bertie Botts out of her bag. “So?” she said, frowning.

“Well, then I asked him to lie, and tell Giles that he had a problem with him dating his sister,” I explained, feeling my face heating up.

Why was I always such an idiot?

“And then he got mad, and asked me why he should mess up his sister’s love life just because I messed up mine.”

Harriet sat in silence for a couple of seconds, rolling a bean around in her mouth.

“Isn’t he overreacting slightly?” she asked, swallowing. “I mean, Roxanne and Giles aren’t even going out yet.”

I grimaced. “Tell me about it.” I said. “Give me a bean.” I added, holding out my hand.

She inspected the contents of the bag for a moment or two, then handed me a safe-looking pink one.

“Fred will get over it,” she said matter-of-factly, though I was sure I could detect something in her voice that suggested she didn’t believe what she’d just said.

I put the bean in my mouth and retched. “Ergh! Harriet!” I shrieked, spitting it out in my hand. “I think you just gave me puke!”

Harriet gave me a sympathetic look. “Sorry, I thought it was strawberry.”” she said, trying to vanish the chewed up bean in my hand with a flick of her wand. She was unsuccessful; the bean just doubled in size. “Professor Cornforth is going to kill me if I can’t vanish things by next period.”

I rolled my eyes. Professor Cornforth was head of Gryffindor and our Transfiguration teacher. She’d given us an assignment the day before to practise Vanishing spells.

“Harriet, she’s not going to care. You only tried the spell for the first time yesterday afternoon, and besides, at least you can do something.” I waved the over-sized bean in her face. “No one else in our class could change it at all.”

Why did Harriet have such a problem with admitting she was the cleverest in our year?

“Whatever,” she said dismissively, putting her wand back inside her robes. She picked the bean out of my hand gingerly and threw it in the fire. We watched it for a few minutes, as it crackled and spat and gave off purple smoke. Then Harriet turned to me again.

“So, you’re not going to do anything about the Giles thing?” she pressed.

I shook my head. “No I’m not. I don’t want to upset Roxanne…. or Fred” I added.

“What’s Fred got to do with anything?” Harriet demanded.

“He’s already mad at me. I don’t want to make things worse.”

She shook her head. “You’re hopeless,” she said.

“No, really.” I insisted. “I don’t care that much anyway. It’s just a small crush. Roxanne can go out with Giles if she wants. I’ll get over it.”

Harriet raised an eyebrow. “You’re just hoping that Giles won’t ask her out, aren’t you?”

I stood up. “Let’s go to class.” I said cheerily, ignoring her question.
She sighed theatrically, but didn’t breach the subject again all day.

In transfiguration, Professor Cornforth awarded fifty house points to Harriet, because she was the only one who managed to make the handle of her goblet disappear.

“Oh, but I still can’t do it right!” Harriet moaned, as Professor Cornforth went to inspect Giles’s goblet.

I laughed. “I still can’t do it wrong!” I cried.

“Mr McCartney,” Professor Cornforth said chuckling. “How on earth did you manage to turn your goblet green, whilst doing a vanishing spell?”
Giles rocked backwards on his hair, smiling cockily. “I don’t know, Professor.” he said innocently.

She set the goblet back down on his desk, raised a thin eyebrow suspiciously, and returned to the front of the classroom.

Harriet turned to Giles. “Did you turn it green on purpose?” she demanded.

He held up his hands. “I thought she might give me some house points for managing to do something,” he explained defensively. “She keeps giving them to you!”

Harriet set the bright green goblet upside down on his head. “Yeah, but I’m actually using a vanishing spell. Not a colour-changing spell.”

I laughed. “She totally knew what you were up to, Giles.” I said.

He shrugged. “I don’t think she suspects me…”

Harriet pushed the end of a quill up his nose. “A badly performed vanishing spell could never change the colour of an object, because vanishing spells deal with matter, and colour-changing spells deal with appearance. You should know that!”

Giles threw the quill at her. “Sor-rry, you boffin!” he said, laughing.

“At least I didn’t get in any trouble. She obviously doesn’t care.” He winked at me and I turned back to my goblet, my head ducked, so he wouldn’t see me blushing.

I thanked God for the fifth time that day that Fred took ancient runes instead of Transfiguration.

The bell rang, and I stood up immediately, stuffing my books into my bag. “I’m not hungry, guys.” I said. “I think I’m going to sit lunch out in my dorm.”

Giles frowned and I felt my knees go weak at the look of concern written all over his face.

Harriet bobbed her curls enthusiastically. “I’m not hungry either!” she exclaimed. “I’ll come with you, Ginger.”

I scowled. “Don’t call me Ginger.”

“I’ll come with you, Dom.” she repeated, just as enthusiastically.

Giles raised an eyebrow. “You guys sure?”

“Yes, yes,” said Harriet, pushing him out of the classroom. “You go downstairs and stuff your face with Roxanne. Bye bye now, have fun!”

She grabbed my arm and started to pull me in the other direction, but Giles darted in front of us.

“With Roxanne?” he asked, confused. His confusion made me want to sing. Maybe he didn’t like her after all.

“Bye, bye, Gilesy Pilsey.” Harriet grinned. Her face lit up, suddenly. “Gilesy Pilsey! Giles has piles!” she shrieked with laughter and pulled me at a run down the corridor, leaving Giles standing on his own.

Much to my embarrassment, she insisted on holding my hand and skipping the entire way to the Gryffindor tower, whilst singing, “Giles has piles!” at the top of her lungs.

“Giles has piles!” she gasped as we finally entered the dormitory. She collapsed on her bed, hysterical. “Giles has piles!”

I threw a pillow at her. “Shut up, you weirdo. Everybody in the school now thinks you’re insane.”

She rolled off the bed, laughing, and landed on the floor with a loud thump.

“Or rather,” I corrected myself. “Everybody in the school now knows you’re insane.”

“They knew that anyway,” she mumbled into the carpet. “And I don’t care what people think!”

“Someone might tell Rufus,” I teased, sitting down on my bed.

“Pah!” Harriet cried. “Rufus likes me because I’m insane.” But she climbed back onto her bed and composed herself anyway.

“You don’t want to face Fred,” she told me.

I shook my head. “I don’t want to watch Roxanne and Giles flirting.”

“Ah,” Harriet crawled to the end of her bed and started rummaging in her trunk. She pulled out two pumpkin pasties and threw one to me
.
“Do you just have an endless stash of food?” I asked, incredulous.

“Yep,” she said smugly. “I practically bought the entire trolley on the train.”

I giggled, and began heating the pasty up with my wand.

“I’ve never skipped lunch before, you know.” Harriet said, scolding. I blew her a kiss to say thank you, and she flashed me a smile, oblivious to the bits of pumpkin stuck to her teeth.

After lunch we had another free period (“Sixth year is awesome!” Harriet cried gleefully) so we went down to the lake to soak up some of the last pitiful rays of sun before autumn kicked in. We pulled off our socks and shoes and dangled our feet in the ice-cold water.

“This is actually quite unpleasant,” I said after a couple of minutes, my teeth chattering.

Harriet shushed me. “It’s our way of thanking God for the warm weather!” she exclaimed, kicking her feet up so water splashed me in the face.

I grumbled and withdrew my feet from the water, drying them with my wand, and wrapping them back up in my warm socks.

“It’s not that warm,” I said, looking up at the sunny sky. “I bet if you sit in the shade it’d be freezing.”

“Hello, ladies,” said a voice from behind us. We both turned round to view the culprit and Harriet’s gasp of delight matched my one of disappointment.

Rufus Comroy stood over us, a great big stupid grin on his face.

“Rufus!” Harriet said happily, apparently forgetting our earlier conversation when she’d agreed to act normally around him. “Wanna sit down and paddle in the freezing lake with us?”

He laughed and began pulling his shoes off enthusiastically. I stood up.

“Harriet, I just remembered I have to go and do… something.” I said lamely.

It was obvious that they both knew what I was up to, but they both tried to hide it.

“Oh, okay then, Ginger.” Harriet said, mock sadness ringing in her face.

“See you later, Dom!” said Rufus cheerily.

I grumbled a reply and stomped back up to the castle. Stupid Rufus and his stupid girlfriend. Where was I supposed to go now? I wasn’t sure if Giles and Fred were in lessons, but if they weren’t, I wasn’t exactly eager to hang out with them. What with my huge crush on Giles and Fred’s being mad at me.

I was so busy wallowing in my self-pity and loneliness that I didn’t even notice the small boy who was crouching by a door with his ear pressed to the keyhole until I had almost walked right past him. I stopped, startled, in my tracks, recognising the familiar messy ginger hair.

“James?” I practically screamed.

He jumped about a foot in the air, and landed in a heap on the floor.
“Why the hell aren’t you in class?” I demanded, marching over to him. He stood up frantically, pressing an urgent finger to his lips.

“What are you doing?” I hissed.

“Eavesdropping.”

“Yes, I can see that.” I hissed. “But why?”

“Molly and Lucy are in that classroom,” his face was mixed with amusement, scandal and excitement. I raised an eyebrow. He was skipping class to spy on his cousins?

“So?” I demanded.

“I saw them walk in there together when I was on my way to History of Magic,” he whispered. “They’re having a huge argument!”

Ooo, this sounded interesting.

“About what?” I demanded. Molly and Lucy never argued. They were twins, and probably the closest friends I’d ever met, despite the face that they were in different houses.

I pressed my ear eagerly against the door. “WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?” one of them was shouting- I wasn’t quite sure who it was; they’re voices sounded almost exactly the same.

“Would you please drop it?” the other said exasperatedly. “Come on, we’re late for class.”

“No I won’t drop it! This is serious, Lucy.” I heard pacing footsteps.

“I don’t want to talk about it right now, okay?”

“You have to talk about it at some point, you know.” said Molly sternly. “Are you going to tell Mum and Dad? You know they’ll never forgive you.”

Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey were, admittedly, very strict, but they were also devoted to their daughters. I couldn’t think of anything that Lucy could have done that they would not eventually forgive her for.

Lucy sighed. “I wish I’d never told you. If I’d known you were going to react like this!”

“How did you expect me to react? I’m only mad because I care about you, but seriously Lucy, you need to deal with this-“

“Oh will you just shut up!” Lucy screamed. “Leave me alone! I’m going to class!”

The door was suddenly wrenched open and James and I tumbled inelegantly into the classroom.

“What the hell?” shrieked a voice above us. I looked up to see Lucy staring down at us. She had such a murderous look on her face that for a moment I felt genuinely terrified of her, despite the fact that she was a year younger than me, and about a foot shorter. Her fiery red hair cascaded messily down her shoulders and there were black bags under her blue eyes- she looked stressed.

“Dom? James?” Molly’s voice came from behind her. “What are you doing?”

I scrambled to my feet hastily, pulling James up with me by his collar.
“Were you eavesdropping?” Lucy cried, incredulous.

I nodded slowly- there was no use denying it; we’d been caught red-handed.

“Sorry,” James muttered, blushing profusely.

Lucy just stood there, her mouth opening and closing slowly as she stared at us. She’d obviously gone into shock. I decided to cut to the chase.

“What’s going on, Lucy?” I demanded.

Lucy wiped a tear angrily from her face. “How much did you hear?” she hissed.

“Not much-“ I admitted. “But enough to know that something’s up.”

She took a step towards me threateningly. “Then forget about it, okay?” she sneered in my face. I wasn’t used to Lucy acting like this. Normally she treated me with some level of respect because I was a year older.

“Don’t you dare mention this to anyone. Either of you.” she turned to James, who was the same height as her now. “Do you understand?”

He just gulped and nodded.

“Good.” she snapped. “Then I’m going to class.” She stormed out of the door and down the corridor.

We all remained dead still until the sound of her footsteps disappeared. I turned to Molly.

“Molly?” I pressed. “What is it?”

She just shook her head, ginger locks flying, and pushed past us after Lucy.

“Did you hear anything?” I asked James. “Before I arrived did you hear anything else?”

He stared at his shoes. “No,” he muttered.

I seized him by the shoulders. “James!” I yelled. “You’ve got to tell me!”

I’m not sure what it was that was making me so anxious. Perhaps it was the way in which Molly had been talking to Lucy- as though she was desperately concerned.

“I didn’t hear anything else, I promise!” James insisted.

“You’re lying! I can tell!” I shouted, bending down so our eyes were level. “James, you’ve got to tell me!”

He shrugged my hands away. “I don’t know anything!” he repeated, and turned and ran out of the classroom, just like Lucy and Molly had done.

I swore and kicked a table leg. What the hell was going on? Why did Lucy look so…so…ill? Yes, that was it. She looked ill. Her skin had been paler than usual, and those bags under her eyes were unnatural.
More importantly, what did James know that I didn’t? And why wasn’t he telling me?

With unexplainable trepidation, I made my way to potions.



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