“Well, would you look at that?”

Ben’s voice was directed at what was walking across the yard. The entire team, huddled together underneath a tree outside, all turned to stare at a sight so unbelievable, it made tap dancing ogres sound mediocre.

As expected, the Ravenclaws were caught in confusion. They were gaping, they were gawking. How on earth could a simple Monday morning turn into such a historically odd day? The sight was just so…unheard of.

Suddenly, a new figure entered into the huddle. His fluffy brown hair was flailing furiously with the wind. “Billings, what the hell are my Beaters up to?!”

The petite braided girl looked up at Roger Davies, appalled. “What, you think I had something to do with this? How could I when I’m just as stupidly flabbergasted like the rest of you?!”

“The lady’s got a point.” Jeremy pointed out, coming to her defense.

“Shut up, Stretton!” she impulsive shrieked, and then blushed upon realizing that he was actually defending her. “And thanks.”

Jeremy grinned rakishly in response.

“Ok, fine.” Davies dismissed Jill from suspicion. But didn’t ignore her. “Jill, you’re going to be my mole.”

“Your what!?”

“Mole. Spy. Secret agent, if you will.” Davies listed off in a bland tone. “Just get down to the bottom of that atrocious scene right now.” His look of disgust deepened, if possible.

“I’m not spying for you, ex-captain.” Jill glared at him with a seething look. “If I remember correctly, your two weeks of suspension haven’t been completed yet. If I’m taking anybody’s orders, they’re going to be Jeremy’s.”

“Now that I like the sound of.” Jeremy commented wistfully.

Jill rolled her eyes, shaking her head to the ground.

“Whatever. I don’t care. Someone just get down to the bottom of it.” Davies ordered, even though it was clearly stated that no one would follow anything he said. “They’re planning something, those two. I know they are. They wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t have an agenda.”

Brad coughed. “Paranoid!”

“Watch it Bradley.” Davies silenced him with a glare of steel. He then assessed the team with disappointed eyes; after seeing what letdowns he thought everyone was, he slowly departed. “Just find out what’s going on, or else when I come back, you’ll all be doing laps until you melt into puddles of failure.”

He left with a dramatic flare, leaving the team staring at each other, bewildered.

“Was that meant to sound intimidating?” Ben asked out loud, contemplating on how people could turn into “puddles of failure”.

“I’m beginning to think our captain is losing his touch.” Brad stated quite conspiratorially.

“He never had it to begin with.” Jill muttered, rubbing her hands together to keep warm. It was a chilly morning, typical for early November. Not so typical anymore, after today’s events.

She quickly glanced at the sight that was causing such a commotion amongst her team. Well, more confusion than commotion. It was baffling to her puppy-dumb teammates, and even her.

Somewhere inside of Jill knew it would happen. She always had a feeling that such an occurrence would take place. But she imagined it would’ve taken years for the two to finally get off their stubborn, lazy arses and get on with it.

Tsking disappointedly, she shook her head at the couple walking along the lake, hand in hand, laughing. Occasionally, kissing each other lightly on the mouth.

“So,” Jeremy interjected Jill’s train of thought, grabbing her attention abruptly. He looked in her line of vision, observing their two friends with unrestrained curiosity. “Who wants to start the wedding planning?”


Potions. Potions was fun. Potions was great. Potions was bloody smashing. Yeah, rubbish—but brainwashing did wonders to the nerves. But it wasn’t a particular help today, mostly because I saw Snape’s pretentious face, which was staring in my direction quizzically.

In fact, most people were.


This entire day was like being drugs. I was both aware of my surroundings, yet not. I saw other people staring, but I acted as though they didn’t. And to put the icing on top, I found myself constantly snogging my “enemy” frequently throughout the school day.

Strangely, the last bit wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it felt rather nice. Like having a dependable cuddly, teddy bear...that would make out with you senselessly. Wow, I sicken myself with these analogies.

“Since when did Cupid skewer you two with an arrow?”

I stopped mixing the contents of the cauldron, gripping the handle of the spoon tensely.

Oh great. It was Jill. I forgot that she had Potions with Samuels and me. Then again, I was forgetting virtually everything today. Samuels’ chronic kisses made sure of that. Unfair.

Everyone in class was making a potion, one that I didn’t even pay attention to. Sort of hard to achieve when the boy sitting next to me spent the entire period tracing with his fingers patterns on my hand in the lightest manner. He knew how to play this game so well.

No matter. I constantly kept giving him kicks in between, to which he responded with an innocent shrug of the shoulders.

The whole class was fooled by us—except Jill of course…and possibly Professor Snape. He’d been eyeing us with that suspicious sneer of curiosity all day, which was strange, since I thought the only face expressions he was capable of were just different shades of sadistic.

Jill cleared her throat loudly, bringing me out of my reverie, and indicating that she wanted an answer immediately. She couldn’t have been more intrusive than a large hippo running rampant in a grocery store.

This called for the auxiliary. I glanced at Samuels, who didn’t seem a bit fazed by Jill’s attempt at intimidation. Oh bless his soul. I tried conveying the message ‘Help-Me-Lover!’ telepathically, but he beat me right to it.

“Keep mixing,” Jason came up behind me, engulfed my mixing hand with his, and began stirring the mixture in the cauldron. I stiffened, but recovered quickly when Jason looked up at Jill and said, “I should be asking you the same thing, Jill.”

“Oh? And why is that?” Jill questioned, not looking defeated in the least.

“Billings, would you please return to your partner? I think your puppy Stretton is missing you too much.” Snape suddenly requested in the nastiest voice possible from across the room. I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful to hear his nasally voice than in that moment.

“I’m not her puppy!” Jeremy argued from across the room, even though his widening blue eyes were adding to the puppy-like effect. “I’m not a puppy, period!”

I looked at Jill, who suddenly paled. Something told me she didn’t want to return to her station anytime soon, and it made me curious. “Something wrong between you two?”

She shot me a glare. “I’ll tell you once you tell me.”

We both glared at each other, but didn’t last. My iciness melted when I finally said, “Touché.”

Jill smiled back at me, but still looked apprehensive as she walked back to her table, “I better see you at lunch. We have to talk.”

I felt slightly more unwound once Jill’s interrogative stare was off us. Now, if only the rest of the class would only follow suit, then my emotions would be just dandy.

“What do I tell her?” I whispered as we continued stirring. We’d been mixing the potion in the direction for too long, but that didn’t really matter. If the frickin mixture blew up in our faces, who gives right?

No matter how cheesy our stirring looked, I had to say I was impressed. Samuels truly knows how to be the stereotypical, all around clichéd boyfriend. Just being surrounded by him reminded me of one of those moments where I was too lazy and content to do anything else. Like, sitting on the couch for five hours rather than go outside. I had the intentions of doing it, but felt didn’t feel the need to do anything about it.

He obviously felt the same way too, when he put his forehead to the back of my neck. My skin instantly felt goosebumps.

“Tell her what you want.” he murmured, his voice sounding completely relaxed. “Just not the team.”

“Of course I wouldn’t tell the team.” I replied in a huff. “I’m not stupid.”

“I never said you were.” He tensed against my neck.

“But you were alluding to it.”

No, I wasn’t.” He gritted his teeth.

“Don’t get cross with me.”

“Don’t get cross with me.”

I glared. “Samuels--”

“Oh look, how cute. A lovers’ quarrel.” Snape creepily popped out of nowhere, positioning himself in front of us with a look of perpetual disdain. Great, here it comes. “You two are obviously plotting something with this little charade.”

Oh Merlin he was worse than those old people who kept a million cats. He seriously needed to chill out and find a hobby. Not delve into the personal lives of his students.

“Why Professor Snape,” I gasped in a voice of wonderment and surprise. “I didn’t know Dumbledore allowed teachers to pry into our personal lives!”

Samuels snorted, biting back his grin while Snape fumed; that made me feel a bit better. I was probably being too bold to a teacher, but frankly I didn’t care. Snape was being weird, so I deserved a bit of feisty freedom. The professor glowered at us, and then marched off. “Anymore signs of affection and it’s detention.”

Normally I only back talked to teachers in my mind, so thank goodness that my mind decided to think through my mouth today. Otherwise, I would not be feeling the immense satisfaction pulsing through my veins.

Now I was just being a sadist. Taking pleasure in my teachers’ pain.

Oh the life of a regular Hogwarts teenager.

Smiling, I looked up and saw Samuels staring at me with a crooked grin. Something pulled in my stomach, not illness but a feathery feeling. Oh great, that same tension returned. The kind that made me feel impulsive and curious.

I wondered distantly if he felt this strange as well.

And then I remembered that he probably wouldn’t be feeling like a fuzzy schmuck like me right now. I basically bit his head off when we were talking. It was the impulsive thing he did to me! I couldn’t help it!

With a sigh of defeat, I stared into his eyes, saying, “Just to forewarn you, I’m severely temperamental.”

“Just to forewarn you,” he imitated with an easy look of contentment in his eyes. “I’m not oblivious.”

I punched him in the arm and he laughed.

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

The rest of the day was uneventful...well, maybe not. I tried my best to make it uneventful, by trying to avoid Jill and her tricky interrogations as long as possible. But I knew that when it got to practice, I couldn’t escape her.

“...so everyone, we’re just going to practice reflex as well as strength training.” Jeremy shouted as he held the attentions of his team. “In other words, throw the bloody ball as hard as possible to your opponent, and duck if you’re the unlucky bastard.”

“Eloquently put, Stretton.” Ben patted Jeremy on the back before retrieving a ball. They were neither Quaffles nor bludgers (thank Merlin). Instead, the spherical objects floating before Jeremy actually looked like normal balls.

“Partner up, children.” Jeremy finished with, giving us all free reign to choose whomever we liked. Instinctively I looked to Samuels, who surprisingly looked at me as well. But before I could do anything about it, Jill popped right up in my face scarier than a Jack-in-the-Box.

“Partner?” she asked with a precious smile to her face. Oh no, that was normally the warning sign of her scariness. And I just so happened to be the lucky little soul/target.

“Actually,” I chewed my lip apologetically. “I was goin—”

“Too late.” Jill grabbed my arm and dragged me to an area in the air far from the rest of the team. Chills were already running up and down my spine at how sketchy Jill was acting. And sketchiness in Jill’s world, equaled her wanting to know something. Badly.

She flew right in front of me, facing me with her crazy, angelic smile, looking like a seraph gone rogue. Most likely, I wasn’t prepared for the questions she had, but I had a pretty good feeling what today’s grill session would be revolving around.

“Good day today?” she questioned sweetly, turning the bright red ball in her hands as though it were inflatable.

My day? Jill was never this casual. It only meant I had to be even more on my toes than usual. “Marvelous, actually.”

She grinned at me before lunging the ball right into my gut. Luckily I caught it before it reached its destination, but I struggled to keep balance. Now I understood what Jeremy meant when he said ‘strength training’. These balls felt like iron pumpkins.

“It sure looked marvelous.” Jill continued with that sugary look, completely unaware of my blatant struggle. Once I got a grasp on my balance, I countered the throw back with a fury. If Jill was going to get violent, then by all means bring it on.

“It was.” I spat, watching her catch my throw, her broom wobbling as a result. I smirked.

“Only there was this one thing,” she reared the object back and threw it with a grunt. “That was just mystifying me the entire day.”

“Really?” I grunted back as the heavy item fell back into my arms. “And what may that be?”

The casualness was dying down. I could tell from the fire burning in Jill’s eyes. Neither one of us could hold nonchalance in for much longer. We were more of the expressive sort.

“You and Samuels, actually.” Jill sharply replied, catching my throw with better ease for I threw it a bit too lightly that time. “And how YOU BOTH WERE BASICALLY SIAMESE TWINS ATTACHED AT THE MOUTH!” And then she threw. Anger plus heavy ball equaled pain for me.

I caught the ball like a devoted mother caught a 100-pound baby from the sky. The force itself would most likely leave bruises on the insides of my arms. Fuming, I looked up at her. “What the hell, Jill?!”

I returned the favor by throwing it just as hard as she did.

“How could you not tell me!” Jill screeched as she caught it, the impact moving her broom backwards. “I am your best friend!”

“Yeah, some friend!” I spat back. “You’re trying to kill me via ball!”

“Urghh!” she launched the ball ferociously, and I retrieved it with an even more savage look. To most girls, drama made them teary. With us, it made us look like barbarians, and act like them too. I swear, we were some other species of female.

“Why are you even...mad?” I strained on the last word as I catapulted with force of death. At least the throwing-like-a-madwoman was a cathartic benefit of this exercise. “I thought you’d be just ecstatic that I finally succumbed.”

“That’s just it.” she snarled when she caught it, whipping it back at me almost as fast. “You haven’t really succumbed. Don’t even try to pull one over me!”

My mouth dropped. Did Jill invade my mind on a regular basis, or was she just naturally that intuitive? Best friends were creepy. They knew you inside and out. Up, down, sideways, diagonal—every possible direction.

But that little observation didn’t instill me with warm, best-friendy thoughts for Jill—instead, it nearly freaked me out. “How on earth did you come to that conclusion?”

“Are you denying it?” she demanded, prepping herself for the next chuck. “Throw the damn ball already! I need some way to resolve my pent up rage.”

I threw it to pacify her, and found myself continuing in panic, “That little, lying gossip bastard. And to think, I let his tongue down my throat!”

“I’m sure you enjoyed that.” Jill smiled at my ‘I-want-to-kill-you’ glare. “Honestly Ems, tell me the truth. Did Samuels put you up to this?”

Oh, flippin’ fantastic for me. I wondered who was having more fun manipulating the strings my life in marionette-esque fashion: the prying and creepily telepathic best friend, or the smoldering and obscenely complicated “boyfriend”.

“Come on girls—give it some effort!” Jeremy cut in, yelling as he saw from afar how our little throw-fest turned into an all out vent-fest. His partner—of course—was Samuels, who looked up with a condescending smile.

“Yeah Dobbs, look alive.” Samuels supplied, even adding a wink for effect.

Jill huffed in response, her gaze narrowing on me in unadulterated suspicion. A strange tension filled the air as both stares found me. I didn’t know who to glare hostilely at first, and that pissed me off.

Great, I felt as though I were at a bloody awards show, commending my craptastic life. And winner for ‘Who-Can-Make-My-Life-Even-More-Of-A-Sucky-Mess’ goes to—

Ock!” An object collided with my gut, causing my eyes to bulge out in the process from shock. I looked up at Jill, the guilty culprit, and tried to recover from the friggin’ cannonball of a throw. “Stop your injuring! If I tell you, will you promise to quit trying to kill me?”

“Maybe,” Jill twirled a braid with cherubic innocence. “I don’t know. This is kind of fun, actually.”

She didn’t have enough time to giggle like a little schoolgirl; I had already flung the ball into her stomach, causing an eruption of “oof!” to groan from her mouth. Hey, if my belly was to be bruised, then so would hers.

“Ok, now we’re even.” I commented smartly, treating her glower of death like a delightful smile. Now it was go time. I didn’t really know if I was allowed to tell Jill all the gory details of Samuels’ and my relationship.

He’d probably gut me if he found out I spilled to Jill which would risk telling everyone. But then again, Jill would do the same if I didn’t. At this point, I was opting for Jill’s side—not merely because we were best mates, but because making her angry wouldn’t get me anywhere. At least if I made Samuels mad, there would be some argument, and then furious snogging at the end of the tunnel.

Oh wow, did I seriously just base judgment on that?

Slag Nation, here I come.

“Come in closer,” I hissed with urgency, checking all around me in case one of our darling teammates happened to pop out of nowhere. “Wouldn’t want to make my fabulous life a public affair.”

“Too late.” Jill remarked, gliding a bit closer, in a pointed tone. “Even Davies is getting curious. Self-appointed me to be his mole to undermine you lot.”

Hm, Davies finally got his face out of his own ass to observe the odd behavior of his Beaters. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or alarmed. Either way, Samuels would be thrilled to hear of this new development. All going according to plan.

“Oh, so you’re his little spy now aren’t you?” I asked with a slight snort, which then shockingly switched to a mutinous stare. “Oh my God you’re his spy!”

“Calm down, I show more loyalty to a piece of moldy cantaloupe than I would to that door knob.” she assured me, flipping her black braids behind her shoulder. She looked slightly offended that I’d ever suggest such a thing. “That still doesn’t mean I’m not going to question you, though.”

I looked up to the skies in misery. “Why oh why does my personal life matter so much to you?”

“Because I am your best friend.” Jill stated as though it were a law, which made it sound even more eerie than usual. She then continued, “And also because doing what you’re doing right now—it’s not going to end well.”

“How do you even know it’s not going to end well if you don’t even know what I am doing?” I asked crabbily, partly because I was confusing myself. Hopefully Jill would get confused as a nut, and no longer wish to delve into my personal life.

“It’s kind of obvious, Em,” Jill pointed (damn it) out as we continued to walk down the blessedly empty hall ways. “You’re dating Samuels, hoping that he’ll sacrifice Captainship just for you.”

I squeaked strangely in reply, sounding more like a cross between a manly snort slash appalled gasp. It was a weird combination. “What?! Jill, that’s way off. I may be a

“Wait,” Jill paused, perplexed. “Does that mean you two are really—”

“No!” I interjected, exasperated. “He and I are dating in hopes that Davies will make us both Captains!”

Jill stopped, and thought. The two scariest actions that Jill could possibly perform together. She then looked at my face, worried, and blurted out, “Do you know how completely dim-witted that plan sounds!?”

You’ve just got to love Jill for her honesty.

“What? It has promise.” I fought, but Jill’s stare gave me the indication that she was never going to be convinced. “At least Samuels said it did.”

“Samuels put you up to this?” Jill raised an eyebrow before breathing deeply through her nose. “Honestly Ems. Wake up and smell that juicy plate of suspicion.”

“Suspicion.” I repeated back in a dry tone. “If we both agreed it was a good plan, then I don’t see any suspicion there.”

“Did it ever occur to you that whomever Davies chooses has no relevance to this plan whatsoever?” she inquired with firm accusation. “Or even, has it ever struck you how fishy the whole arrangement is?”

I thought to myself, taking in Jill’s words. There was a time when I thought the whole thing was strange—and it was—but after a while I forgot all about it. Apparently he did too because he was as natural as could be.

While I thought I’d be made a captain out of this whole deal, he instead was getting that, and a new—

“Oh dear Lord I’m like his constant booty call!” I exploded in realization before realizing that I had basically shouted that declaration. Of course when I looked behind me, everyone was staring in confusion.

“Stop quacking you duck.” Jill urgently whispered, and encouraged me to do so as well. “You’re not his booty call. You’re his girlfriend, and that gives both of you rights to snog the hell out of each other as much as you want.”

I looked to the ground. “Yeah,...but—”

“You enjoy it, don’t you?” Jill smiled wickedly at me, evil and accusatory.

“Well,” I stammered a bit before replying. “It’s not as though it’s horrible or anything. Like, I could live without it—but for the time being—”

“For the time being, you’ll just milk it for all it’s worth, eh?” Jill chuckled. What a satanic laugh. “Now that’s what I call classy.”

“That’s not what I meant you horny nutter.” I clenched my fingers into a fist.

“Then what do you mean?” Jill’s smile was really starting to annoy me more than usual. “Because snogging is such a bountiful advantage in this whole bargain—and you don’t seem to mind it one bit. Don’t deny it.”

“There is no denial because there is nothing.”

“Oh please.” Jill shook her head at me. In fact, she actually looked like she pitied me. Why? For being her definition of ‘clueless’? Well, sorry I didn’t share her horny brain. “You’re like the Denial Express that just keeps on going full frickin speed ahead.”

I scowled. “I am not.”

“Ems, it’s so obvious that the bloke is madly attracted to you—and vice versa.” Jill said, using her arms animatedly to emphasize her point. She inched her broom right next to mine, patting my shoulder firmly. “Take a bloody hint.”

---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------

Take a bloody hint. What kind of crackpot advice was that? Even though Jill was fulfilling all of the rightful requirements of a best friend (i.e. creepy telepathy thing), she still didn’t supply me with the one thing I needed: actual guidance.

Sure, she did suggest a few things, but that’s probably because she’s had it plotted in her head since the dawn of time. No, I needed someone who wouldn’t judge. Someone who didn’t really know. Someone with an entirely different perspective.

And where on earth would I find someone like that? I asked myself as I got out of practice, wearing comfy sweatpants and sweater while careening down the halls in search of that special someone. If there ever was such a someone. My closest friends were probably the team, and I know they’d find a way to worsen the situation than fix it.

Right now, I needed a stranger.

“Preston!” I basically screamed as I spotted my first year buddy, Preston Brooks. His tiny blond figure perked up at the sound of his name spoken so urgently. Yea, I’d be pretty alarmed as well if I just heard my name yelled with the desperation of a raging mad woman.

“Oh, h-hi Em-ma.” he said with a smile. His stutter was beginning to fade away, which I was miss since it was just so cute. “H-how are you doing?”

Yes, I was aware of how pathetic this was. But hey, once you had no one else to turn to—why not just go to a prepubescent first year for advice? Truly, I had nothing to lose.

“Not so good.” I pursed my lips together like an old maid.

“A-anything I can help with?” Preston asked with a hopeful glimmer in his eyes. Man, I loved the kid. He was eager, loyal, and heart-wrenchingly cute. He was like the puppy I never had.

“You have no idea.” I chuckled as I gestured to go on a walk. Sure, it was soon to be after hours. And sure, I’d look pathetic as hell dragging a little boy around just to vent my life story. But hey, I’ve done stranger things.

And if Preston had a problem with it, he obviously didn’t show it. As we walked down the hall together, his teeny, chipmunky friends nodded suggestively at him; so I knew why he didn’t oppose my kidnapping him—it made him look like a pimp in the process.

I would’ve been grossed out if I weren’t so desperate for some insight.

“Where do you w-want to go?” Preston insisted, poking me in the arm. I must’ve been dozing off, or just getting overly anxious about my own problems.

“Let’s just...walk around.” I suggested when we reached a strip of empty-ish corridor. Not a lot of people were milling about except for a couple Slytherins. And honestly, what Slytherin would give a rat’s ass about my melodramatic life?

“So, w-what’s up?” he inquired, pushing up his glasses. It took all my will power not to pet him on the head. He’d most likely never talk to me after that.

“Just...” Insane plots, evil best friend, pervy teammates, vindictive ex-captain, fake boyfriend. The usual. “A lot to deal with lately.”

“I saw you with J-Jason Samuels t-today.” Preston put forth as an observation. “Is h-he your new boyfriend?”

“Sure but it’s,”Fake “...complicated.”

Preston slowed, looking up at me curiously. “How?”

And so I told him how complicated things could be, and how they were. Of course, I told it G-rated—so no venting of the intense snogging and whatnot. That would just be too weird a conversation to have with a first year.

But for someone so young, Preston actually had the understanding of someone about my age. Sure he stuttered, but he wasn’t a whimpering bambi when faced with the unfamiliar. He took in my story as any friend would, and I appreciated it.

But still, I was seeking instruction from someone who could probably fit in my pocket.

Hmm, that would be convenient.

“So, what do you think?” I asked, feeling my feet hit the ground more sharply. “And by all means, do not hold back.”

Keeping pace with me, Preston concluded, “You like him.”

Okay, maybe he was not as sagacious as I thought. “Preston, I do not.”

“Or you l-like being with him.” Preston corrected, insistent. “Anyone could tell just by the w-way you two act around e-each other.”

“That’s just it, Preston.” I declared with wild hand gestures. “It’s just acting.”

“Could’ve fooled me.” Preston shook his head slowly at me. “Jill’s right. His plan doesn’t make sense.”

Yes, I’m just starting to realize that now. “What should I do? Back out?”

Why not? For all I knew, Samuels could be pretending to be so uber-perfect boyfriend and catch me off guard—and then take captain spot for himself. Now that would be positively evil of him.

“No.” he said. “Find out what he wants out of it. And find out what you want out of it.”


“Emma, you can’t fake happiness.” Preston remarked with a shrug of the shoulders. “Once you discover what his intentions really are, then you wouldn’t have to desperately look for answers.”

“Wow, nice little snub,” I mussed his hair with a laugh. Preston sheepishly pushed his glasses back to their proper position, yawning. It was time to put Yoda to bed, I’d say. “We should get to sleep. You look beat.”

“Yea, so do you.” Preston said. I couldn’t have agreed more.

It was a wonder we made it through the hall without being caught. I didn’t realize how late we were talking, and suddenly felt terrible for luring Preston out for late-night chats on my life. I was such a selfish cow sometimes.

Luckily we didn’t run into any teachers, which was strange because I was almost expecting Snape to be tapping at my heels any minute. Hopefully he was spending some much needed Snape-time rather than stalking my life.

“After you.” Preston poked me in the arm. We were in front of the door to the Ravenclaw dormitory, the entrance swung open. It sounded pretty quiet in the common room, so I tiptoed my way in, Preston following behind.

“Hey thanks for the talk.” I whispered to him, watching him walk up the stairs to the boys’ section.

“No problem.” Preston replied as he scurried up the steps like a little squirrel. It took all my strength not to go up there and cage him, so I could observe his cuteness whenever I liked.

I’m so weird.

“Should I be jealous?”

I stilled, looking behind me for whoever said that. Somehow I knew he’d pop out of nowhere, and he just happened to be sitting on the couch overlooking the fire. I hoped that he was there merely because of contemplative reasons, not waiting for me to return back. It seemed too freaky even for our “relationship”.

Well, there was no use to retreating to my comfy bed. Starting to walk toward the couch, I asked in a breathy voice, “Of what?”

“Your little man servant.” Samuels’ eyes reached mine as I sat down next to him on the plush navy sofa. It wasn’t exactly a loveseat, but we sat relatively close. I wasn’t even as unnerved by this proximity as I had been before. Which was a relief, for he’d think me quite odd if I started hyperventilating in his presence.

“His name is Preston, and yes, be jealous.” I snapped, cracking a tiny smile. “He’s a great kid.”

“Well, well, Emma Dobbs.” Samuels announced in a declaratory manner. “A friend to the little people.”

“No degrading Preston.” I commanded while smacking him in the arm. “Besides, you’re friendly with the first years—you help them out a lot. I saw you open a door for a line of them.”

You saw me?” he raised his eyebrow accusatively. “Didn’t know I had such a vivid audience on my hands.”

“Trust me, the ‘audience’ gets bored easily.” I smirked, turning my head to look at the fire. I always had a strange fascination with any type of conflagration. What can I say, I’m a proud pyro. Samuels must’ve been one too, for we fell into comfortable silence while staring into the fire.

Was this how things were going to be? We’d pretend like nothing was happening? For all I knew, Samuels very well might’ve been an emotionally charged train wreck underneath that entire hunky exterior—he’s just better at hiding it than I am, obviously.

“By the way, why did you just bolt out when practice ended?” Samuels broke the silence with such a simple question which had the most complicated of complicated answers. “You missed Jeremy’s oh so exciting ‘We’re-gonna-pulverize-the-Hufflepuffs’, even though the game’s in two weeks.”

“Oh, shame I missed it.” I pouted in exaggerated disappointment.

“It is a shame. You missed Billings nearly killing him for being so confident.” Samuels shook his head with an amused grin. “Those two are utterly mad, I swear.”

“Something’s been going on between them, but Jill’s put off telling me.” I pursed my lips together. “It must’ve been bad.”

He stared in the fire for a moment thoughtfully, and then slowly faced me. “Good thing we don’t have those problems, eh girlfriend?”

With that question, I suddenly felt aware of my surroundings. I was immediately conscious of the heat dying from the dimming fire. I was attentive that my eyes were starting to droop from sleepiness. And I was mindful of how Samuels’ arm seemed to have stealthily rested on my shoulders, bringing me closer.

He didn’t seem to think anything of it, but I sure did. If he saw no problems in this whole situation, well look again buddy. We were just swimming a pool of implications and melodramatics.

My head slowly drooped to the nearest surface, which just so happened to be his chest. Thank goodness he was fully clothed otherwise I would’ve really started hyperventilating.

We were together, alone, on the couch. Watching the fire die as the night took its course. There was no one around us. So why were we still pretending?

Find out what he wants out of it. And find out what you want out of it. Preston’s words rang in my head like an annoying alarm. I wish my neurotic thinking would stop being so disruptive sometimes.

If I just went out and asked him what his intentions were with this whole charade, I would completely awkward-ize everything to a whole new level. This, right now, just sitting seemed nice enough to let alone. Just for one night.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this. The relaxation and complete calmness I felt at the moment. I was allowed to bask in something good once in a while, wasn’t I?

I’d ask him soon enough anyway.

I mean honestly, is it such a crime for a girl to...enjoy being in a fake relationship?

The last burning ember in the hearth, once part of a large flame, finally went out, engulfing us in total darkness.


Morning had broken over Hogwarts, with the students milling about towards the Great Hall for breakfast. The team had woken up and had walked together to eat, except for their two Beaters. Apparently they had a long night.

“Bet it was a long night.” Ben snorted as he grabbed more toast from the stacks across the table. “I heard Samuels sneak back into the room before the frickin rooster crowed.”

“Same with Ems.” Jill added in, mixing her cereal just to give herself something to do.

The teammates all looked at each other, almost in silent communication. They all smiled in understanding at what exactly was happening—except Jeremy and Jill. They barely looked at each other.

Suddenly, they all felt a chill in the air. Not the eerie, ghostly chill, but the annoying ‘stop-that-frickin-draft’ wind. Obviously, Roger Davies had arrived, and was striding to his team quite majestically...if it weren’t for the twinkle of evil raging within his eyes.

“So team, what information have you gathered for me?” Davies asked eager as a hungry dog with a bone dangling tauntingly in front of him.

“You’re one obsessive bloke.” Brad shook his head while returning to his meal. The rest of the team murmured in agreement.

“Oh shut it, scruffy.” Davies condescendingly sneered, before whipping his attention on the only source he knew would have the most information: Jill. “Billings, what’s the status?”

“Haven’t we already established this?” Jill questioned in a disapproving tone. “I’m not your little agent person, Davies. That’s just plain weird.”

“Well, someone’s crabby.” Jeremy butt in with deliberate attitude directed to Jill.

Jill glared in retaliation. “At least I’m not needy.”

A chorus of obnoxious ‘oohs’ erupted from Ben and Brad as Jeremy dropped his utensils with a horrible clang and declared, “Well at least I’m not a tease.”

Upon another round of ‘oohs’, and Jill transformed into the angry female beast she usually was...only now with a vengeance. “Stretton, you little—”

“Stop your yawping you lovesick puppies,” Davies tsked to himself in disappointment. “Merlin. Can anyone keep their hormones to themselves these days? I’m not running the love boat, or anything.”

“We’re not on a love boat.” Jeremy steely said, his once laughing face resorting to an ice-cold glare in Jill’s direction. By the look of Jill’s responding features, the feeling was mutual.

“I don’t know what’s going on between you two—but deal with it.” Davies ordered harshly, flipping his hair for the added effect. “I already have two Beaters acting like dolts, can’t have anymore.”

“Just quit your prying, Davies.” Ben interrupted, the only one with a sense of reason. “Has it ever occurred to you that the whole world doesn’t revolve around you, and therefore not constantly against you?”

“It’s called taking the necessary precautions, Chambers.” Davies grunted with an eye roll. “Besides, I’m not the only one who finds such a coupling obscenely odd.”

“It’s not as outrageous as you put it, Davies,” Brad added in a domineering tone. “I always thought they were soft for one another, truthfully.”

“Yeah, maybe in Opposite World!” Davies snorted with a ridiculously crazy expression. “I’ve never met two people so badly suited for each other. They’re incorrigibly rude to each other and the world, and haven’t the slightest clue as to how to treat their superior. Hmph. I say, they’ve got something up their sleeves—and by some unfortunate miracle, they’ve finally banded together to overthrow me. It’s a conspiracy, I know it. Those two could never remotely like each other.”

After he finished his little tirade, Jill took a long, thoughtful look at him before muttering, “You’d be surprised.”

“Gods, my life sucks.” Davies supplied even more to his own pity party.

The entire team just stared incredulously at him, pondering if now would be the right time to throw their food at him and shut him up.


To the Most Wonderful Readers In the World,

You may not see me right now, but I am on my knees begging for forgiveness. Sorry (I know, this is getting a tad repetitive) for such a horribly long wait! I’ve had such a hectic workload and issues and blah. Ok, I will not delve into my personal life, so I will ask you lot (if you are still out there) what you thought of the chapter. If you do not remember precious little Preston, he made an appearance in chapter 4 as Emma’s first year escort to those cursed locker rooms, and now he’s returned as her insightful little Yoda. What do you think is going on between our little happy Beater couple? Most importantly, what is the mysterious Samuels thinking of it all? Even more importantly, what the hell is going on with Jeremy and Jill?!?!

Predictions? Favorite quotes! Favorite anything! Post them to me, and you will make me the happiest person ever!

Your Obedient Servant,
The Phantom

PS: For all of those who are still wondering where Lily Evans went off to, check my author page and go to my blog. You’ll be sure to find it there!

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