Disclaimer: I don't own one hair on Harry Potter's head. Or
any other character in the series. It all belongs to JK Rowling. Likewise, The
Cynic’s Dictionary and the website I-cynic dot com belong to Rick Bayan (source
of the definitions for flirting, celibacy, taboo, foundation grants, poetry and
power) and The Devil’s Dictionary belongs to Ambrose Bierce (source of the
definitions for saint, jealousy, logic and snogging.) I am also proud not
to own a rabbit that plays the banjo, as I am sure it would be a nuisance.
A/N: A big thank you to my SQ beta reader, Igenlode
One - Cappuccino
Wiggling one’s toe in the pool while fantasizing about a swim in the deep end.
In the contemporary workplace, likely grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit.
“If that girl
looks at you one more time,” I grated, “I’ll have her guts for
an eyebrow at me, grinning (the Actual Edmund grin, of course, not the
Ravenclaw grin. The Ravenclaw grin is reserved for Professor Flitwick and all
those that think Edmund is some form of saint - though why they think Edmund is
a dead sinner revised and edited is beyond me). “Jealous, darling?”
that you can only be jealous if you are unduly concerned about the preservation
of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.”
“Giving you The Devil’s Dictionary was the worst mistake I ever made,
“No. Giving me a
clarinet would have been the worst mistake you ever made, because then I would
have had to force you, as my boyfriend, to listen to me play.” I sipped my
coffee and grinned right back at him.
“And then I
would have had to become celibate.” He clasped one hand to his chest and gave a
“I’m sure you
would have enjoyed a respite from the pleasures and perils of romantic
congress, even if it did mean adopting a way of life traditionally practiced by
Catholic priests, monks, Shakers, stamp collectors, overly zealous careerists, Transfiguration
Today fans, hermits and
amoebas,” I quipped.
answer my question,” he countered. “Are you jealous?”
venomously at the girl in question, who was now flicking her hair invitingly at
Edmund. She was a Gryffindor and I was pretty sure she was a fourth-year, but I
couldn’t remember her name. She was sitting at a table with a sandy haired boy
I thought was called Seamus Finnigan, but she wasn’t paying any attention to
him. Instead, she was mooning at Edmund. My Edmund.
answered bitterly, staring into my cup of coffee - which was now littered with
pink confetti thanks to Madam Puddifoot’s oh-so-adorable cherubs. Seriously, I
love them. The blood pouring down my chin? No, I didn’t bite my tongue. Not at
all. Whatever would make you think I don’t like Madam Puddifoot’s
I think you know
how much I hate Christmas. Multiply that by seven hundred and five and you will
have an approximate total as to how much I hate Valentine’s Day.
across the table and took my hand, his eyes dancing with laughter. “Sylvia,
Sylvia, Sylvia,” he said. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Take me away
from all this pink and these stupid staring silly bints,” I grumbled, tossing
back my coffee and choking on the confetti.
me on the back and handed me a glass of water after he fished out the rose petals
floating on the top. “She’s only looking, you know, and that‘s not taboo,” he
told me reasonably. “It’s not like she’s served pork rinds at a Hasidic wedding
or answered the question ‘how are you?’ in the negative.”
“I know,” I
replied, sipping the water slowly. “It’s just… I’m envious, that’s all.”
Edmund took some
Galleons out of his pocket and put them on the table. “You’re not envious,” he
told me, smiling. “Envy is the meanest form of emulation. Anyway, you have
nothing to be envious of. You’re my girlfriend, Sylvia, not -” he glanced over his shoulder,
“- Lavender Brown. Come on, let’s go.”
“If she persists
in staring at you,” I asked hopefully, “can I Transfigure her? Please?”
“Perhaps you’d better wait until you begin illicit experiments with genetic
engineering,” he said, putting his arm around me and steering me out of the
horrid pink-and-cherub-ness of Madam Puddifoot’s.
“But I might
develop a miracle counter spell for the Killing curse!”
“You also might
develop a rabbit that plays the banjo. Or worse, the clarinet.”
“Has Cedric got
any ideas yet on what they’re going to nick for the Second Task?” Edmund asked
me as we tramped back up to the school.
I sighed. “No.
He’s been sitting in the common room staring alternately at the fire and that
bloody egg for days. Nearly everyone in Hufflepuff knows the words of that
bloody poem now.”
“I don’t know
how he expects to work it out,” Edmund said. “Aside from the obvious bits, the
whole thing seems to make as much sense as a foundation grant. Bourgeois
beneficence that enables unmarketable artists to continue expressing their
contempt for bourgeois values.”
I laughed. “And
what a wonderful cycle it is.”
“So what were
the words of the poem?”
Ah, poetry. A
form of expression peculiar to the Land Beyond The Magazines.
“Come seek us where our voices sound,
“We cannot sing above the ground,
“And while you’re searching, ponder this:
“We’ve taken what you’ll sorely miss,
“An hour long you’ll have to look,
“And to recover what we took,
“But past an hour - the prospect’s black
“Too late, it’s gone, it won’t come back,” I quoted.
“Well, let’s try
it logically,” he said. “Underwater, yes?”
“An hour to find
“Don’t find it
in an hour, it’s not coming back, yes?”
“You know what
“Not very much?”
“Well it proves
that logic really is the art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance
with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding, but ‘not
very much’ works for me.”
tightening my arm round his waist. “Hurrah for the cool Ravenclaw intellect,” I
he replied, grinning, as he pulled me into the hedge for some kind of rite or
ceremony appertaining to a good understanding. Or snogging. I can rarely
I am a student
of Arithmancy, and as such, am familiar with many difficult concepts. For
example, magic = teaching x talent (luck + force)², or Snape » [git³ - redemption
(Dumbledore x squeamishness)] ¸ Slytherin, where Slytherin is equal to pure-blood (½ambition
However, the equation that could be applied to the evening of February 14,
1995, was very simple.
My twin +
Edmund’s twin = snogging.
Walking back up to the Hufflepuff common room that night (sans Edmund), I ran
across Sabina and Archie standing in a niche in the wall. Snogging.
disturbing than Laboratory/Lavatory/Lav-whatever-her-name-is Brown making
moogly eyes at Edmund, which is saying something.
Being a prefect,
I have broken up many a snogging couple in my day. Although it would be very
funny to burst in on them, yell, ‘you’re nicked!’ or something similar and clap them in
irons, the usual method is to cough politely, take house points and then send
them on their merry way (pretending you don’t know they’ll just find another
place to engage in their nefarious activities.)
However, it is
slightly more difficult to be professional and objective when said snoggers are
your sister and your boyfriend’s brother. This situation = embarrassing. In
fact, this situation = embarrassing².
Yet there is an
upside, due to the fact that power = ability to make fellow humans squirm,
sweat and stammer on demand. This = good, which means power = good (QED) - and
who am I to pass up a good thing?
Sabina = red.
“Sylvia - I -
dancing naked on top of Ben Nevis.
My jaw dropped.
“Sabina, how could you?”
Without a doubt,
that line = corny. However, at that point, Sylvia = shocked.
been snogging Archie at all. She was snogging Kenneth Towler.
If Sabina + Archie
= disturbing, Sabina + Kenneth Towler = disturbing³. Not to mention
Sabina + Kenneth Towler = Archie x broken heart.
red any more. She had gone white as a sheet. “Sylvia…”
know?” I demanded.
“He doesn’t,” I
“Not as such.”
“So you went and
snogged Bulbadox Boy here without even hinting to Archie that you were getting sick of
Towler,” I snapped.
talk to him like that!” Sabina said indignantly.
shouldn’t treat Archie like that! He’ll be broken-hearted when he finds out!”
“He’s not going to find out!”
I stared. Sylvia
= shocked x disgusted.
“He’s not going
to find out,” Sabina repeated.
“If you think
for one minute I’ll let you do that to Archie,” I said, “at the risk of
sounding like Mum, you’ve got another think coming.”
Sabina went even
whiter. “You can’t tell him, Sylvia! He’ll be so angry!”
should have bloody thought about that before you went and snogged Bulbadox
“Shut up, Towler! Archie’s a good bloke, Sabina,
and I won’t let you go round cheating on him!”
“You can’t tell him! He’ll hate me!”
Ravenclaw,” I shot back. “Maybe you should have used that much vaunted
intelligence of yours to consider the consequences before sneaking off behind
“Now hang on a
minute -” Kenneth began.
“Stay out of
this, Towler,” I snapped.
were pursed so tightly he looked like a young male version of McGonagall with
bad hair. “You wouldn’t care so much about this if I hadn’t asked you to the
I raised my
eyebrows. That comment = ridiculous.
“If you hadn’t
noticed, Towler, I happen to have a boyfriend. I am by no means pining after
wouldn’t care so much if you weren’t snogging Archie’s brother,” Sabina
muttered under her breath.
and you know it!” I took a deep breath and forced myself to come down. “Fact
is, Sabina, that I’m a Hufflepuff, and I’m loyal. I’m not just going to turn my
back on the fact that you’re stringing Archie along.”
to loyalty to your sister?” Sabina snapped back.
That comment =
deserve a response,” I said. “Now look, are you going to tell Archie, or am I?”
“Look… I’ll tell him, I promise. Just give me some time, okay?”
ended. ‘Some time’ could mean thirty or forty years.”
“Give me a
I snorted. “I’ll
give you three days.”
“And… don’t tell
incredulously. “Sabina, he’s my boyfriend! I tell him everything!” (Well, just
about everything - I have not been able to bring myself to admit that I took
ballet lessons for seven years.)
“You can’t tell him!” Sabina pleaded. “Archie is his
brother! He’d tell him straight away!”
I sighed. “Fine.
But if you haven’t told Archie by the 24th of February, I’ll spill
the beans to both of them.”
Sabina let out a
breath. “Thanks, Sylvia.”
“I’d say don’t
mention it, but it would be a lie. Get out of my sight before I do mention it.”
I stood in the
corridor for a long time after Sabina and Kenneth had hurried off. This entire
situation = awkward. I felt like a combination of some horrendous character
from Black Magic
on WWN and a righteous little prig.
How could I have
ever even contemplated the notion that power = good when it is obvious that
power ® bloody awkward situations?