The Sugar Quill
Author: Hazelle (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Most Charming Smile  Chapter: Ch. 2: The Lion and the Fan Club
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Most Charming Smile

Most Charming Smile

By Hazelle

 

Chapter Two: The Lion and the Fan Club

 

The following week brought two issues of Witch Weekly (the advance issue and the regular one), more homework than ever (“O.W.L.s are next year,” Erin reasoned), and of course, the first meeting of the Charms Club. Romilda’s first week had gone by in a flash. The initial week of school had always felt to Romilda like one big social event-- the kind of obligatory event where one must smile a lot, say “Hello, how are you?” to everyone, and appear to be perfectly comfortable and in the swing of things. In reality, the first week of school was a perfect nightmare of really bad haircuts, failed trends, and reprimands for tardiness.

 

Much to Romilda’s disappointment, Harry Potter sightings were few and far between, though Harry Potter gossip was at an all time high. The girls in her dormitory giggled excessively and had started a small collage with photos and clippings of Harry. Most of the pictures had been taken from newspapers or magazines, but Kate Tarleton revealed a collection of real photos she’d received from her cousin’s friend’s brother in fifth year. These mainly depicted Harry Potter doing regular, everyday activities that would’ve been unremarkable except for the fact that it was Harry Potter doing them.

 

“That’s very creepy,” Audrey sniffed when Romilda told her about the dormitory shrine. “Taking pictures of someone without their knowing?”

 

“It’s not creepy. It’s exclusive.”

           

“We’ve got a picture of him in our dormitory,” Erin said. “But it’s just the one. Charity Overton pasted him over one of the Quidditch Players on her Tornadoes poster.”

 

Audrey looked as if she had a thing or two to say about Charity Overton’s Tornadoes poster, but she was only able to mouth them, as Halimeda had selected that moment to take her turn at the Silencing Charm. Audrey was surprised for a moment, then relaxed back to her smirk. Silencing Charms were typically an O.W.L. level charm, but Professor Flitwick had agreed to let the Charms Club tackle it with the ambitious younger students.

 

“Please use your toads, not your partners,” a Club Officer chided, casting a quick Finite incantatum on Audrey before moving on to another silent student.

 

“My toad isn’t making any noise to begin with,” Romilda complained loudly, tapping it on the back with her wand, which prompted no sound.

 

“It’s probably been silenced so many times that the residue of the charm has permanently affected it,” offered Halimeda.

 

“Perhaps we should use it on Audrey more often in that case.”

 

Audrey rolled her eyes. It was a wonder that she didn’t have eye strain or a tick. “If the Silencing Charm leaves a residue, we wouldn’t have to recast it on our Fwooper every single month. It’s my grandmother’s,” she added quickly.

 

It was a quick save, though probably not a truthful one. Fwoopers were possibly the most annoying creatures in the Wizarding World. As they were all but banned by the Ministry of Magic in the seventies, Romilda had never actually heard one. However, Charms Today accused the birds’ song of being the inspiration behind the nine-stringed saw— the sound of choice at such celebrations as Deathday celebrations. Romilda had never been to one of these either, but she had attended an undead orchestral performance with her parents in which a nine-string saw had had a solo. This experience had been enough to make her wary of the Fwooper fad. She thanked her lucky stars that Fwooper keeping had been a short-lived trend shot down by Witch Weekly only a week after they first promoted the pet.

 

Audrey had probably begged and begged for a Fwooper during the week that they had been cool and now she was stuck with it. Romilda tucked this piece of information away for later.

 

“Anyway—“Audrey jumped right back into a new topic, clearly wanting to forget her Fwooper slip. “—as I was saying before you interrupted me— Charity Overton told Jade Pucey that she heard from Ernie Macmillan that Harry Potter won a bottle of love potion in Slughorn’s class.”

 

“She didn’t tell me that!” Erin protested.

 

“It was a long time ago. Like, last Monday or something,” explained Audrey, waving Erin off. “She probably just forgot to mention it.”

 

“I can’t believe she’d tell something to Jade Pucey before she’d tell her own housemate.” Erin seemed a little hurt, possibly too hurt to realize the implications of Harry Potter possessing a bottle of love potion.

 

“What could Harry Potter possibly need love potion for? What kind of love potion? I wonder who he’ll use it on.” Romilda pouted, eyes cast down on her toad. “That’s totally unfair.” Double unfair! Not only did The Gorgeous Green-Eyed One not need a love potion, he would probably waste it on some undeserving, soppy-eyed girl.

 

“Maybe Cho Chang,” suggested Audrey. “Or his friend Granger.”

 

“I heard that he had a thing with Ron Weasley’s sister,” added Erin knowledgably.

 

Romilda laughed. “Where did you hear that? He’s never had anything going with Ginny that I’ve heard about.” She wondered momentarily if perhaps Harry Potter had dated Ginny Weasley without her knowing about it. But no-- “Ginny is dating Dean Thomas, the cute artistic one in sixth year.”

 

“Maybe he will use it on Cho,” said Halimeda, who was pocketing her wand. “She was pretty unimpressed with him last year. And as for Hermione Granger, it doesn’t sound to me as though Harry Potter would need a love potion for her. You read Witch Weekly.”

 

Unfortunately, the whole world seemed to share Hermione Granger’s feelings for Harry Potter. He was the desire of every girl Romilda knew. He was tall, athletic, and fearless. His hairstyle was imitated by rock star Kirley Duke of the Weird Sisters. There was no doubt that he could date whomever he chose to—even the Cho Changs of the world who couldn’t possibly begin to understand him.

 

“I’m going to head to the library,” Halimeda said, breaking Romilda of her train of thought. “I told my study group I’d meet them there if we finished Charms early.”

 

“Are we finished?” asked Audrey, looking relieved. “This is so boring.”

 

“I don’t know if the club is collectively finished, but I certainly am,” Halimeda replied airily. “This is easy. I got it on the first try.”

 

Audrey jumped to her feet and followed Halimeda to the door. “If you’re leaving, I’m leaving. See you girls later.”

 

They slipped out unnoticed, leaving Romilda and Erin to tend to two stubbornly quiet but unsilenced toads. The Silencing Charm might be easy for Halimeda in all of her Ravenclaw glory, but Romilda had found it difficult and boring. There was no way she would be able to concentrate on the task of learning it when Harry Potter was in the castle somewhere, trying to decide which girl to give his love potion to.

 

The situation called for lots of mysterious smile (as mystery was said to be the #1 trait sought by young men, according to Young and Magical), lots of lip gloss (Peachy-Keen flavor) and a way to hook Harry Potter’s attention. They were halfway through the second week of school— someone must have worked out his schedule by now. She could make a point of passing him in the corridors between every class and sit reasonably far away from him at meals (though not so close that she looked like she was trying to get close). Witch Weekly had recommended subtlety: the trick was to appear available but uninterested.

 

As she walked back to Gryffindor tower with the other Charms Club Gryffindors, Romilda thought hard about what to do. Opportunities usually presented themselves in a timely manner, and Romilda trusted that her destiny would fulfill itself naturally. She shouldn’t push for things this week— that’s what her horoscope said.

 

Romilda was one of the last people to climb through the portrait hole. Half the group of people she’d been walking with had scurried over to the announcement bulletin on the other side of the common room and become part of a larger, louder group. Romilda hurried over to see what the commotion was about.

 

“Tryouts for Quidditch!” Kate Tarleton exclaimed, running up to Romilda and clapping her hands together excitedly. “I’m going to do it.”

 

Romilda smiled mysteriously—it was almost natural now— and then grinned broadly. I told you so! Her intuitive inner voice bragged. It was the perfect opportunity, and she hadn’t had to push for it at all. The news had even come to her without her needing to push to the front of the crowd. Saturday would be the day.

 

                                                *                       *                       * 

 

As the weekend approached, Romilda found herself at the center of a Quidditch revolution. Of course, she wasn’t surprised that half the girls in Gryffindor were knocking on her door begging for favors, tips, and miracles. Romilda had the golden answer to the one big Quidditch question on every girl’s mind:

 

“What do I do with my hair?”

 

Romilda smiled inwardly and outwardly as more people squashed into the fourth year’s dorm, seeking last minute hair and make-up help. It wasn’t even six in the morning yet, tryouts were hours away, and Romilda felt oddly relaxed among the frantic girls around her. Some were groggy and puffy-eyed, but most of them seemed not to have slept at all and Romilda nearly despaired over the bags under so many otherwise lovely eyes. She herself had had a round eight hours of sleep.

 

“You should have come to me last night,” Romilda chided a fifth year as she tried to lasso an unruly amount of hair with a length of ribbon. “I could’ve done a twelve-hour Mane-Taming charm.”

 

She tapped the ribbon with her wand and muttered a simple reinforcement charm to keep it from coming loose. Turning slowly and stepping carefully over the many girls sitting on the ground, Romilda made her way over to her own bed to supervise Kate’s braiding. Privately, Romilda felt that she was the superior stylist, but Kate had offered her help. Just as she was about to make a comment about wandwork versus handwork, a troupe of wet-haired first and second years appeared.

 

“Over here, ladies,” Romilda trilled, jumping from her bed to the next. The curtain was closed, but Romilda sailed right through it. There was a squawk of dismay from the lump of blankets within. “Hey, Leslie. I need your bed.”

 

Leslie Stimpson sat up with a tired but furious look on her face. “You broke my Soundproofing Charm,” she rasped, and then caught sight of the crowd outside the curtain. “What are you doing in here?”

 

“Quidditch tryouts are this morning.”

 

Romilda had never pegged Leslie for a Harry Potter fan, but she was soon blow-drying the hair of younger students like a pro. The promise of a hair charm and Quidditch with Harry could motivate anyone, Romilda decided. She returned to her work of curling, twisting and scenting hair and tuned into Stephanie Caldwell reading horror stories from the new Young and Magical.

 

“‘I ran to the loos and realized that the charm had also turned my hair purple. I panicked, and immediately tried to Apparate home. In my hurry, I splinched myself’”—Stephanie paused here to let the girls nearest to her groan and clap hands over their mouths— “’leaving behind all of my hideously hued hair and my left leg. When the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad showed up at my flat, the dreamy squad leader handed me my purple hair and said “Here’s your wig, madam.” I was too embarrassed to correct him, so I let them reattach my leg and had to have a friend fix my hair after the A.M.R.S. left.’”

 

By this time the whole room was listening. Horror stories commanded attention like nothing else Romilda had ever encountered. Stephanie Caldwell had the perfect voice for reading them so that even the dumb ones sounded unbearably traumatizing. That was probably why she was so popular— that, and the fact that she shared a room with Ginny Weasley, whose brother Ron was Harry Potter’s best friend.

 

“Here’s an appropriate one,” said Stephanie. “‘A few years ago, I spent the summer with an older relative who needed help with yard work. The roof needed a new Impervius Charm, and though I am a terrible flier, I insisted on going up to recast it myself. I was only a few feet off the ground when I lost my grip on the handle and fell. The broom drifted away across the street, and before I could catch it, it had crashed right through the window of another house. Horrified, I knocked on the door only to come face to face with my Hogwarts crush. I explained about my fall, but could never look him in the face after that.’”

 

A new kind of silence filled the room that had nothing to do with the fact that the story hadn’t been the juiciest, most embarrassing one.

 

“I haven’t practiced Quidditch since August,” stammered a seventh year with perfectly crafted curls, courtesy of Romilda.

 

“I haven’t been on a broom since last winter,” another girl said, pulling anxiously on her face and smearing some of the glitter.

 

The first years on Leslie’s bed all exchanged worried looks. “I’ve never been on a broom before,” one of them confessed.

 

However, the hours slipped away as they camped out in the packed dormitory. Anxiety mingled with the fumes from the hair potions and curling charms as the conversation turned to flying fears. Everyone was worried about making fools out of themselves in front of the Gorgeous One. Romilda also saw many of her hair-dos exchanged for supposedly more Quidditch practical styles. As they marched in procession through the common room and out through the castle, she felt privately that it would now take a small miracle to earn any of these girls Harry Potter’s love potion.

 

 “No one practices for tryouts,” Romilda reassured Kate for the umpteenth time. They had arrived at the pitch with their group of prancing girls. She reapplied her trusty peach lip gloss and smoothed her fringe to one side. Had there been an actual category for appearance, Romilda would have received a top score.

 

As Harry Potter marched on to the pitch, he seemed to survey the potentials with a professional air. Romilda had a sudden image of him lifting the Quidditch World Cup trophy to his lips, kissing it, and thanking his beautiful Romilda for being such an inspiration from the moment he met her. She laughed this vision off good-naturedly, as Harry was already an inspired Seeker and thus needed no inspiration from anyone. It would be more likely that he would thank her for her support and unique understanding.

 

First, though, she would have to catch his eye.

 

With a start, Romilda snapped to mysterious smile attention: for a moment, she thought that Harry Potter had been looking right at her. But no— he was greeting Cormac McLaggen. Cormac was a distant cousin, and Romilda was only thankful that his burly frame had clearly not made it into her own branch of the gene pool. When Cormac slouched off to the side, Harry Potter cupped his hands and called for attention.

 

Romilda (and several other girls) giggled as the echoing pitch fell instantly silent and Harry looked charmingly startled at his own power and influence. He mumbled, cleared his throat, and asked for them to split into groups of ten. Romilda braced herself against the sudden rush of nerves and adrenaline that rushed over her and looked around for the gang of Gryffindor girls she had arrived with. To her shock, Erin was standing behind her, clutching a Twigger 90 and smelling strongly of raspberry perfume.

 

“Erin!” she exclaimed, and could think of nothing else to say.

 

“Whoops, there goes my group!” Erin grinned eagerly and skipped off to join a group of mostly unfamiliar faces.

 

“Why are there Hufflepuffs here?” asked Kate, looking mutinous, even accusatory.

 

I don’t know,” Romilda protested, feeling suspicious and rather put out.

 

However, by the time she spotted Halimeda in a group of Gryffindors across the pitch, Romilda’s spirits were too high to be brought down by confusion. She was sure that Harry Potter had spotted her this time. Perhaps he was already planning his approach. The very thought made her feel giggly and excited and ready to play some extreme Quidditch. The first group to take flight failed to actually leave the ground. The hilarity of the situation and the look on Harry’s face were enough to leave a girl on cloud nine for the rest of the week. Romilda managed a wave and a loud, clear laugh for Halimeda that also caught Harry’s attention.

 

This time, there was definite eye contact. His expression was unreadable and madly attractive. Romilda braced herself, mounted her broom and took the hand of the girl next to her.

 

“I’m holding on to your tail!” Kate squealed.

 

And they were off. At least, Romilda thought they were. Were they? Some of them were rising up, others were still on the ground, and all of them seemed to be connected. There were many squeals, giggles and unanswered cries for assistance as the tangled net of all of Harry’s biggest fans rose and fell in strange, shifting waves. Romilda laughed, finding herself in the rather awkward position of Kate being higher up but still clutching her tail end while Olivia, whose hand she was holding, refused to leave the ground.

 

Romilda tugged her hand free of Olivia’s stubbornly grounded one and reached up to clutch Margot Sinclair’s robes instead, hoping this would help bring her high enough to be noticed from the ground. Unfortunately, their warbling energies faltered at just the wrong moment, and the group returned to the ground. Romilda was by no means disappointed; Harry sent them all off the pitch, but gave her a good long look. He couldn’t have seen her play properly through all of the tangled limbs and tumbling hair, but perhaps she would make call backs anyway.

 

With their energy back at full strength, the Gryffindor girls traipsed to the stands, talking loudly and making catcalls. Romilda jeered and laughed, clapping her hands and singing along with the rest of the people cheering from the bleachers. She was inwardly pleased when Halimeda’s group had a mass collision near the west end goal hoops and was forced to land, but she saved Halimeda a seat among the Gryffindors nonetheless.

 

“Why are you at Gryffindor tryouts?” Romilda demanded the minute Halimeda seated herself. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“Audrey dared me to, and I owed her one,” Halimeda said simply. “Imagine if I had made the team!”

 

“You could’ve mentioned it.”

 

Halimeda tilted her head back with a tinkling laugh. “You didn’t mention you were trying out,” she countered. “Audrey said that I should surprise you.”

 

“How did Audrey know?” Romilda asked, becoming suspicious again.

 

“I think she probably heard it from Jennifer Diuguid. Jennifer plays Gobstones with Kate Tarleton, and Kate knew you were trying out, didn’t she?”

 

Romilda said nothing, but was annoyed with both Kate and Audrey—Audrey for being such a nosy gossiper, and Kate for not only gossiping but for accusing Romilda of somehow being responsible for Hufflepuffs trying out for Gryffindor Quidditch. How hypocritical and ridiculous could one get? The girl had no shame.

 

“Why is Erin here?” she asked at the same moment Harry Potter realized he had a whole group comprised of Hufflepuffs.

 

“If there’s anyone else here who’s not from Gryffindor, leave now, please!” he shouted, his voice still managing to echo over the chatter from the stands.

 

“I’m not sure. I didn’t know she was coming.”

 

Erin ran up to them, cheeks pink, slipping slightly in her hurry. “That was so cool!”

 

“Erin!” Romilda exclaimed again, conjuring her most sour face.

 

“Audrey suggested it,” Erin tittered. “She said that loads of people from other Houses would be here. It’s a sponsored Fan Club event!”

 

“A sponsored what?” Romilda demanded. “When I get my wand on Audrey, I am going to jinx her into the next dimension.”

 

“A Harry Potter Fan Club event, sponsored by his Official Fan Club,” Erin rambled. She pulled up her sleeve to reveal a scarlet wristband adorned with the golden silhouettes of roaring lions. In painfully bright green lettering were the words “Official HP Club VIP Member.”

 

“I didn’t know there was a fan club,” said Halimeda, scooting down to make room for Erin to sit.

 

“Audrey told me about it. She’s the one who got me in,” Erin said, twirling the wristband around. “Apparently it’s very private, like a secret society.”

 

Jealousy and contempt fought for center stage in Romilda’s mind. Audrey was supposed to be her best friend, yet she went out of her way to wrong foot Romilda. Not only that, but she invited Erin to the secret society and managed not to say a word about it to the first person she should have told. Romilda was more jealous of Audrey’s favoritism than Erin’s club. The idea of a Fan Club was too primitive for her— it was the sort of thing she might have done in first or second year.

 

Romilda sat silent throughout the rest of tryouts, noting that her brooding air and expressionless gaze made Erin uncomfortable, which served her right. It would be much worse for her to have Romilda giving her the cold shoulder instead of ignoring her outright. Erin would be apologetic and pretty much at Romilda’s beck and call until she was certain she had been forgiven. Serve her right indeed.

 

As tryouts progressed, Romilda found it increasingly harder to maintain her cold, hurt persona. As Harry Potter narrowed down the talent pool to the final players, it was nearly impossible to keep from turning around to gasp and gossip with everyone else. Harry wasn’t just making a Quidditch team; he was bestowing kids with pure popularity like nothing a potion or a charm or a set of designer robes could ever achieve.

 

The biggest surprises of the day were Ritchie Coote and Demelza Robins. Demelza was a nondescript third year with few friends. Romilda didn’t really know her, but she knew Coote and was flabbergasted when Harry gave him a first string Beater position. It was like the Loony and Longbottom fiasco all over again— Harry just didn’t have it in him to let down the little people. Coote was easily the most unpopular person in the entire fourth year. His appointment to the Quidditch team would give him a whole new social status.

 

“Eurgh, not Coote!” someone behind them exclaimed as Romilda fought back the image of Ritchie Coote sitting with her group at meals.

 

Lavender Brown was behind her, sharing a despairing look with Parvati Patil. Romilda nodded her understanding. “At least he isn’t in your year,” she sighed.

 

To Romilda’s delight, Lavender laughed. “Too true. We have Neville,” she exchanged another look with Parvati. “But at least Neville is sweet. Coote is a total cad.”

 

“You’re so lucky you’re in sixth year,” Romilda gushed. She could hardly believe that she was carrying on an amiable (and almost personal) conversation with Lavender Brown. “You’ve got all the interesting people in your classes— no real weirdos like Coote or the rest of them.”

 

For a moment, Romilda thought she had lost Lavender’s attention for good as the older girl suddenly stood halfway up in her seat and shouted “Good luck!” at the top of her voice. Ron Weasley was up at the goal hoops, and Romilda would have been very interested to watch if it weren’t for her near-conversation with Lavender. A moment later, Lavender had buried her face in her hands.

 

“Ron used to be pretty strange,” she said at last, peeking out at Romilda through her fingers. “Not totally eurgh-gross like Coote, but he was strange. Oh, I can’t watch!”

 

Romilda’s attention ventured gleefully back to Weasley. She was playing all the cards right, and more importantly she seemed to have all the right cards for a change. Lavender Brown was talking to her.

 

“Anyway, boys usually come around in about fifth year,” Lavender reassured her at last. “That’s not saying that Coote will be any less gross, even if he’s being picked up by the social Radar Charm now.”

 

“And if they don’t come around by fifth year,” Parvati interjected, having also determined that Romilda was cool enough to be spoken to, “you can always go for older guys.”

 

“Older guys,” Romilda echoed. Ron Weasley blocked the fifth penalty and cinched his spot as Keeper, causing a great, cheerful ruckus to rise up from Romilda’s section and drown out her lone, dreamy voice.

 

 

 

 

Uber-Quick A/N: I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reviewed chapter one— your feedback and encouragement is more appreciated than you know J.

//
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