Disclaimer: Everything recognisable belongs to J.K.Rowling. The lyrics belong to Bruno Marz, song - Just the way you are. Thank you for reading :)

Beautiful chapter image by zicron @ TDA

{Valeria & James} 



 Valeria tried very hard to concentrate. She really did. She stared at the yellowish pages and the tiny, almost illegible text with such intensity that she made her head hurt. It was a sad day, indeed, when Valeria Scott couldn't concentrate enough to absorb new information. But it was indeed, quite hard to concentrate when two bimbos were giggling and whispering to each other - most likely about her - just a couple of feet away from her. Didn't they know that the library was for studying? Seriously, there should be a label put on the door and possibly some sort of a repelling spell that didn't let idiots walk into the bloody library!

Valeria slammed her book shut when another wave a high-pitched giggling reached her and whirled around in her chair. The girls stopped giggling abruptly, their eyes widening in fright and possible embarrassment. Everyone knew that when Valeria was annoyed, she didn't hesitate to use her wand to get rid of the cause of her annoyance.

"Do you have something to tell me?" She hissed as she stood up and marched over to their table. Valeria greatly enjoyed her tall stature and superior height, especially when she got to apply it to intimidate people. She glared daggers at the two girls who looked quite uncomfortable confronted with her face to face. Valeria glanced at their house crests and snorted. Hufflepuffs. Figures. It they were from any other house, they wouldn't be nearly as silent and spineless. "Well?" She snapped impatiently. "I don't have all day, you know. I'm all ears. If you want to ask me something, please feel free."

"N-not really." The blonde girl muttered, glancing around nervously.

"Really?" Valeria asked sardonically. She pulled one of the chairs and the legs scraped across the floor loudly. She sat down and crossed both her legs and arms. "So you weren't talking about what happened last week, were you?"

The blonde girl bit her lip and shook her head meekly, but her friend seemed to be the bolder of the two, if just marginally, and spoke. "Everyone's talking about what happened last week."

Valeria smiled coldly. "They are, aren't they?" She snorted in disgust. "You people are so pathetic and disgusting." She stood up and tossed her hair behind her shoulder. "Why don't try talking about your lives, or lack thereof, instead of mine or someone else's? Maybe that would be a good change." She shot them another haughty look and walked back to her table. She shoved all of her stuff in her back and swung it over her shoulder. She didn't like feeling watched while she tried to something productive. Actually, she hated feeling watched, period.

She walked out of the library with her head held high, even though she knew she left dozen of whispering people behind her. She felt violated, knowing people were talking about her personal business. Normally she didn't mind being the center of attention, but she liked it to be for something positive, not about something downright humiliating. What she had to endure from Potter was enough, but the rest of the school wasn't making it easier on her. Someday she might snap and teach them all a lesson. She wouldn't write off the possibility.

"What is the antidote to every poison?"

The eagle greeted her with a riddle and she just had to roll her eyes at the simplicity of it.

"C'mon, that's just pathetic." She sighed. "There's no antidote to every poison."

"Simple, but true." The door swung open and Valeria climbed in. The sight of the common room always took her breath away. It was so classy and beautiful, and the view from the windows was gorgeous. She often sat on the windowsill to write her homework or simply read a book. She felt like she could see everything happening on the grounds from the high tower. Like there was nothing hidden from her eyes.

Currently the common room was too full for her to enjoy it, so she headed towards the spiral staircase leading to the dormitory. She glanced at the tall statue of their beautiful founding lady and bowed her head a fraction in respect, then pushed the door open and continued on her way up.

She opened the door of the dormitory and walked inside, dropping her bookbag on the floor beside her bed. She then flopped on her bed and buried her face in her pillow.

"Valeria, darling!" Dread settled deep within Valeria at the sound of the voice. She looked up slowly and came face to face with Patricia Fitzgerald, her blonde hair done in an old-style waves, her well-painted face accessorized with a sugary smile that oozed of pretension. "Where have you been all day? I've been looking everywhere for you. My feet hurt now." She sat down on Valeria's bed without asking, and continued to smile in a way that made Valeria nearly homicidal with annoyance. "But no matter! James wanted me to tell you that he wants to meet you at the Astronomy Tower after dinner. Apparently, it's important." Her brown eyes sparkled with curiosity and she leaned forward, her long red-painted nails digging into Valerie's navy duvet. "Do you think he wants to talk about what happened last week?" Her eyes widened slightly as she said this, her eyes practically prodding Valeria for information.

Valeria shrugged. "I don't know and I don't want to know."

Patricia's eyes widened even more. "You mean you aren't going?" Her voice was high with disbelief now.

"Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying." She laid her head back on her pillow. Dealing with Patricia was rather exhausting, but she didn't feel like telling her to sod off now. She'd been on odds with her best friend lately anyway, and she needed to interact with someone every now and then, even if it was Patricia Fitzgerald.

"Why not? He seemed really interested in seeing you! Maybe he fancies you!" Patricia's eyes got a faraway look. "What if he's been in love with you ever since he saw you and after last week, he finally got the courage to act on his feelings? You can't break the boy's heart like that, Valeria!" Patricia looked at her accusingly, brandishing a long-nailed finger in her face sternly.

Valeria looked at Patricia oddly. "I'm going to pretend this rubbish didn't come out of your mouth." She shook her head incredulously, and shot Patricia a slightly teasing smirk. "Have you been reading Clair's stash of Fifi LaFolle novels?" She asked gleefully.

If Patricia had put another layer of foundation, her embarrassed blush might have gone unnoticed. "You can't tell her." She hissed, looking around worriedly as if expecting Clair to jump out from behind one of the pillars. "She's never going to let me live it down."

Valeria snickered, earning herself a unimpressed look from Patricia. "Relax, I'm not going to tell." She said in a voice laced heavily with amusement. "But seriously - why?"

"I don't know." Patricia frowned. Valeria took the time to notice just how much makeup gathered in the small cracks on her forehead. Why did she feel the need to put on so much make-up? She wasn't ugly. Although now that Valeria thought about it, she had never seen Patricia without make up, except for those two years before third year when they all entered puberty and started freaking about how they looked to the opposite sex. But those didn't count, not really. And she hadn't paid all that much attention to her back then either. "I mean I know it's really bad and unrealistic but it kind of pulls you in, you know. Although the writing can be rather bad at times, it still keeps you interested, which is weird."

"Maybe the books are charmed." Valeria offered. "This is the only explanation for their baffling success."

"But that's illegal!" Patricia said, looking scandalized.

Valeria lifted an eyebrow cynically. "So?"

"Well," Patricia spluttered. "She could go to prison for that, and her publishing company as well."

Valeria rolled her eyes. "First of all, she's dead and second of all, her books were published by the biggest publishing company in Wizarding Britain. They're not going to get sued, besides that's only a theory, although a highly probable one."

"Right. Are you really not going, though? Aren't you curious what he has to say?"

Valeria knew very well what he wanted to say. He wanted to make fun of her some more. The past week he had corned her on more than one occasion just to relive one the most mortifying moments of her life. "No." She said out loud. "Not really."

"But I thought you liked him!" Patricia said, looking confused.

Something snapped inside Valeria. "I don't like him!" She spat. "I was drugged on love potion! Do you really think I'd actually do something like that? Frankly, it's embarrassing that neither of you can see the tall tell signs of love potion. You're supposed to be smart."

"Merlin, you don't need to bite my head off!" Patricia exclaimed, shooting Valeria a miffed look. "You don't like him, I get it." It was clear she didn't believe Valeria and that she was saying it only to appease her.

Valeria groaned. "Forget it. Can we just change the subject?"

"Of course. But if you ever need to talk to someone about your feelings, I'm here." Patricia looked sincere as she looked at Valeria, but she wasn't entirely sure in her pure intentions. She pursed her lips and nodded slowly. She didn't feel like fighting with her about it too. It only made her look like she was in denial.

Silence fell between them, and Valeria glanced awkwardly at Patricia. Thankfully, she was saved when the door opened and her best friend stormed inside. Valeria looked hopefully at her when she walked over to her bed, but Jane didn't grin or show any sign of ever being her best friend. "Practice in five minutes." She said gruffly to Valeria, glancing at Patricia, who was looking between them, hungry for drama. Valeria nodded glumly.

"Don't be late." Jane added. Valeria watched as Jane crossed the room and grabbed her broom from it was leaning against the wall next to her bed. After that, she left without a second glance in Valeria's direction.

"Well, I better get dressed." Valeria said to Patricia as she slid off her bed.

"I'll save you a seat on the table at dinner." Patricia said as she stood up and smiled at Valeria. The brown-haired girl nodded, not quite managing a smile. Patricia nodded once and left the dorm room as well.

Valeria sighed. She felt like flopping on her bed and sleeping off the rest of the day, but she knew Duncan wouldn't be happy if she didn't show up at practice again. With not much enthusiasm, Valeria changed into appropriate clothes for practice, grabbed her broom and headed off towards the pitch.


"Good job today, Scott." Duncan thumped her on the back and she flinched when her cold, sopping wet clothes slapped against her skin and clung on.

"Thanks." She said through gritted teeth, pushing away her wet locks with shaking hands.

"You should probably dry yourself!" He said with a cheery, oblivious grin. "See you at dinner, Scott!" He shouted over his shoulder as he left the changing room and slammed the door behind him.

"I didn't take my wand with me." She hissed her response, her hands curling into fists. A sudden draft from the open window invaded the room and Valeria shuddered violently. She grabbed her broom and hurriedly left the changing rooms. The corridors weren't that much better, but at least there was no wind blowing against her. She walked into the entrance hall, and headed towards the grand staircase when an arm wrapped around her shoulders.

"Don't you look dashing today, Scott." The infuriating voice of James Potter filled her ears and she looked up to meet his equally infuriating face. He was grinning widely, his hazel eyes twinkling with amusement.

She grabbed his arm and moved it away from her shoulders jerkily, sending him a dark look. "I'm not in a mood for you, Potter." She snapped as she started to climb up the stairs.

"Don't be like that, love." Potter said as he followed her, grin in place. "I was just wondering if you'd like to be my date for the memorial benefit."

Valeria stopped at the top of the stairs and whirled around to stare at him. "Are you kidding me?" She snapped. "Have you not gotten the hint already, Potter? I don't like you. I was drugged. It meant nothing."

James looked around, probably to check that there was no one around to witness him getting rejected. Valeria rolled her eyes and started walking again. She didn't want to deal with him.

"Wait, Scott!" Valeria didn't stop and marched up the stairs, stomping her feet loudly.

"Look, I know you were on love potion!" She stopped at the words but didn't turn to face him. "I'm not stupid. Clearly, you weren't in your right mind."

"Then why didn't you say so?" She turned around and stared down at him. He was standing on the first step, his hazel eyes staring up at her earnestly, his playful, teasing grin nowhere in sight. "Why did you keep on teasing me and telling everyone that you knew I had the 'hots for you' all along?" She raised her eyebrows inquiringly, her posture reserved.

Potter shrugged helplessly. "I guess I thought it'd be fun."

Valeria snorted, rolling her eyes at his typical answer. "Humiliating me was fun for you? How typical, Potter. You think that just because your father's Harry Potter, you can get away with everything. Do you really think I'm that shallow? Do you think I'm going to forget what you put me through the past week? You're nothing to me, Potter. Your last name doesn't mean anything with me, so go try to manipulate some other clueless bird, yeah? Have a good day." He didn't follow her after that and she left with his dumbfounded look permanently etched into her brain.

The memorial benefit was a ball thrown in respect for the deceased in the Battle of Hogwarts. They had it every year, on May 2. There was a ceremony before the ball began, where everyone put a lily in the large pond made specially for the purpose outside on the grounds. It was close to Albus Dumbledore's tomb, and there was a large memorial stone towering over the large pond, with each name of the casualties from both the First and Second Wizarding wars engraved carefully on it. They all paid their respects to the dead, and then they proceeded to get plastered in their name. It was truly a beautiful tradition. (please, do note the sarcasm.)

The benefit was in two days, and if Valeria didn't think it would be hugely disrespectful, she wouldn't bother to go at all.

Potter and his family were like the special guests to the ball. His whole family turned up, along with others, and they all had a big reunion in front of all the cameras. It would be cute, if it wasn't so disgustingly fake. Valeria knew for a fact that Rose and Lucy greatly disliked each other, and she knew that Lily didn't like the publicity at all and hated being photographed. There was a lot going on behind the scenes in their family but they didn't allow anyone to know that.

Valeria didn't want to deal with a ponce like him at all.


Dinner was always very loud and social. Valeria would have preferred to sit with her best friend at the end of the table and talk to her, and only her, but Jane wasn't much of a best friend anymore and Valeria had to try work with what she had left, which was Patricia and her friends.

She walked over to where Patricia was sitting, saving her seat just as she had promised to her earlier, and sat down.

"Do my eyes deceive me?" Charlie Crowe exclaimed from his seat opposite of her. "Is this the ever exclusive Valeria Scott sitting here with us, the mere proletariat?"

"Shut up, Charlie. You're going to scare her off!" Duncan said as he whacked his friend on the head. "Mashed potatoes?" He offered to bowl to Valeria with a gracious grin and she took it with a grateful smile.

"Thanks." She said and slapped a large spoonful of potatoes on her plate.

"Where's Richards?" Charlie asked noisily, looking inquiringly at Valeria. Her hand froze above the lamb chops and she glanced up at him, her clear blue eyes betraying her annoyance at his question.

"Are you really that thick, Charlie?" Patricia snapped irritably, pointing her fork at him. "Can you stop shoving your long nose in her business?"

Valeria thought it was a bit rich coming from Patricia of all people, but she kept her opinions to herself. After all, the girl was speaking in her defense. Charlie seemed to share the same opinion as her, however, and had absolutely no problem with voicing it.

"That's funny, coming from you. You can't keep your nose out of anyone's business if your life depended on it."

"Can we not fight?" Clair Jones asked placidly, looking between them with accusing eyes. "Can we talk about something normal, like the upcoming match against Gryffindor or the benefit?"

"What's there to talk about the match? We're going to trash Gryffindor." Duncan said arrogantly, looking at Valeria with an expectant look in his eyes.

"Yeah. We're really good this year." She said and Duncan nodded in satisfaction.

"The benefit then." Clair said, her voice peaking up in excitement. "I heard James Potter ask you to be his date." She said, looking at Valeria with sparkling eyes. "And you said no." She giggled, looking at her with something akin to awe in her eyes, as if rejecting James Potter was something out of her spectrum of understanding.

"From who?" Valeria questioned, feeling both annoyed and incredulous. Gossip really did travel fast around Hogwarts it seemed, and Valeria hated it. She wanted everyone to stop discussing her personal life behind her back and asking her questions that she didn't want to answer. She wanted them to realise it was none of their bloody business.

"From Clary Richards." Clair answered promptly. "So, is it true? Did he really ask you? Did you really say no?"

"What did I tell you people about asking her personal questions?" Patricia snapped suddenly, looking annoyed. "Seriously people, stop interrogating her. She has enough on her plate as it is. You know she and Jane don't talk to each other anymore and all that business with Potter can't be easy on her. So stop it and leave the bird to eat in peace."

"Thanks." Valeria muttered to Patricia, a little surprised at her vehement defense of her.

"You're welcome." Patricia said with a warm smile.

They continued to eat and fell into a more normal conversation about nothing in particular. Valeria looked down the table and saw Jane sitting with her sister, Clary, the girl who had spread the gossip this time, and her friends, all in their seventh year. She was laughing and looking pretty content sitting there, as if she had always belonged with them, while Valeria sat in a midst of people she never bothered to get to know very well, feeling like an outsider.

Valeria had thought that dinner would be uneventful affair, but she should have known that things wouldn't go nearly as smooth and easy for her. Just as dessert appeared on the table and she reached out for a piece of apple crumble, a booming, magically amplified male voice filled the wide expanse of the Great Hall.

"When I see your face, there's not a thing I would change —" She turned around along with everyone and stared at the messy-haired boy standing tall on the bench at the Gryffindor table. To her utter horror, he was looking and pointing right at her as lyrics spewed from his mouth. She felt the stares of everyone on her, and she had to resist the urge of doing something incredibly embarrassing, like hide under the table, for instance, or cast a Stunner on herself just so she wouldn't have to endure the horror of having James Potter serenade her with a cheesy muggle song from nearly two decades ago in front of the whole bloody school.

Potter jumped off the bench and headed for her table, never breaking the song. She noted absently that he had a rather pleasant singing voice, if a bit too husky and scratchy at some parts. But she soon snapped out of it and stopped assessing Potter's singing voice in favour of glaring murderously at him, hoping he'd get the hint and shut the bloody hell up.

He didn't, of course. The boy seemed to naturally repel mundane things such as obvious hints, constructive criticism and waves of outright hatred and killing intents - something she was oozing off in tidal waves right now.

"Because girl you're amazing, just the way you are." He was nearly at her table. He was taking his time walking over, probably to bask in all the attention he was getting. He was such a diva. Valeria reached into the pocket of her robes, her hands closing around the familiar, welcoming handle of her wand. She smiled sweetly, the type of sweet smile that sent chills down your spine, and waited for Potter to reach her.

"Her lips, her lips, I could kiss them all day if she let me." Valeria's eyes widened when he winked at her, his lips stretching into a suggestive smile. Anger bubbled up in her chest and she hoped her cheeks weren't nearly as red as she suspected they were. She felt hot all over, but it wasn't at all because she was attracted to him. No, she was boiling with anger. She was going to kill him and sent his remains to his parents' doorstep with a simple note saying: 'He was my Voldemort. I'm sure you would understand.'

Potter finally reached her and stared down at her with sparks of devilish amusement dancing in his eyes. She glared up at him, her arms locking tightly over chest, as though she didn't plan to unlock them anytime soon. His smile widened at her angry and displeased disposition. The git seemed to greatly enjoy getting the rise of her and humiliating her publicly.

"Girl you're amazing, just the way you are." He finally closed his mouth and Valeria allowed herself to sigh in relief. Of course, she soon tensed again when a deafening silence met the end of Potter's song. She looked around her, everyone was staring at them, various expressions on their faces, ranging from amusement to incredulity to shock. Everyone looked speechless with either emotion, and she felt again felt like digging herself a hole and hiding in there until death came naturally for her. She rarely felt embarrassed, but Potter seemed to have an irritating knack for it.

But that wasn't all. Suddenly another booming sound echoed in the Great Hall, and they all looked up as cracking colour fireworks formed a simple sentence that did nothing to calm the storm of fury within Valeria.

'Valeria Scott, will you accompany me to the memorial benefit?'

She looked at Potter again, who looked ridiculously smug and stood up. He looked at her, raising an eyebrow and she smiled sweetly. Faster than Potter could react, she grabbed her goblet full of pumpkin juice and threw it in his face, then she whipped out her wand and shot a Bat-Boogey Hex at him. He cried out in shock and stumbled back, his hands flying up to his face. She grinned maliciously and put a hand on her hip.

"Is my answer clear to you, or should I try to crystallize it further for you?"

His angonized eyes filled with anger. "You bloody—"

"The message is clear then." She continued in her sweetly bland tone. Valeria turned to Patricia, the smile never leaving her face. "I feel rather full." She said. "I'm going to bed."

Patricia nodded slowly, her eyes were so painfully wide that Valeria wondered if they were ever going back to their usual size.

"Have a good night." She told to the whole school, since they were all staring at her anyway. She shot Potter a victorious look and marched past him and out the Great Hall. The second she walked through the doors, the Great Hall exploded with tittering voices and uproarious laughter.

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