The scene in the Gryffindor common room was chaotic as girls scrambled over to the sign boasting the cheerleader tryout results. Eight girls had made the squad, including both Ginny and Parvati. Squeals of delight erupted from the girls who made it, and those who didn't slunk away in disappointment.
Meanwhile, quidditch team tryouts had also drawn to a close. Harry had been elected captain, which pleased Cordelia to no end. “That is so awesome! We so have to celebrate at Dingoes Ate My Baby tomorrow night!” she exclaimed when he told her.
The excitement practically crackled through the air on Saturday evening, as the students prepared for the Dingoes Ate My Baby show. Cordelia was ecstatic. “The weather was even kinda nice today… we broke 60 degrees! It's a heat wave!” she quipped, digging through her seemingly endless wardrobe for the perfect outfit to knock Harry off his feet. “Hopefully we won't freeze our butts off tonight.”
“I don't think it's very cold outside,” Hermione remarked, pulling on a blue t-shirt over her jeans. “It'll be warm in the Leaky Cauldron anyway.”
Cordelia eyed her over the two sweaters she held while standing in the middle of the room in her black La Perla bra and Blue Cult jeans. “Please tell me you are not seriously
“Umm… this?” Hermione wondered what was wrong with her outfit.
“You're not going on your first date with Xander dressed like you're going gardening.” Cordelia abandoned her own clothing search to rifle through Hermione's closet.
“I, um… it's not really a date….” Hermione stammered, following Cordelia. “I mean, it's a date, but… well, no one really dresses up for these things….”
“I'm not talking about dressing up.” Cordelia abandoned Hermione's closet in disdain and returned to her own. “It's about getting the perfect casual-cute look for a night out on the town.” After some searching, she thrust a gold satin top at Hermione. “Put that on. Keep the jeans, but only because mine probably won't fit. What shoe size are you?”
Before Hermione knew what had happened, she was in Cordelia's gold satin Diane Von Furstenberg top, her own jeans, and gold Christian Louboutin three-inch heel stiletto sandals. “Cordelia, I can't walk in these,” Hermione complained, teetering on Cordelia's heels.
“You'll get used to it. That's the price you have to pay for beauty.” The brunette, dressed in an off-the-shoulder black Richard Tyler sweater and black skirt by the same designer, was lacing up a pair of red Marc Jacobs boots with four-inch stiletto heels. “I can't believe you never wear heels. That's crazy. I've been wearing them since I was fourteen.” Cordelia leapt spryly from her bed and grabbed her Tod's clutch. She took one look at her roommate and grinned broadly. “Xander is gonna die
,” she declared. “Now, if only we could do something with that hair… you're really pretty, did you know that? But you wouldn't notice from the way you always dress down and stuff.”
“Umm… OK.” Hermione wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment or not.
“See, you've just gotta learn to work it, you know?” Cordelia went on, fiddling with Hermione's hair. “‘Course, some guys dig that understated natural beauty thing. But it's fun to like, totally knock their socks off on nights like this, ya know?”
“Umm… sure, I guess.” Actually, Hermione had to admit Cordelia had a point. She thought back to last year's Yule Ball, the first time she'd really gone out of her way to look pretty. It had
felt nice to have boys look at her the way they looked at girls like Cordelia. Of course, she knew that it wasn't really her
, and was more than happy to slip back into her own skin after that night. But it had still been thrilling at the time.
“Allright, this will have to do on such short notice,” Cordelia declared, having styled Hermione's hair into a thick, tangled mane that looked sexy in a kind of untamed way. “I figured it's easier to work with your hair's natural texture than to try and fight it. Too bad I don't have some of Mom's magical styling products.”
“It's fine,” Hermione assured her.
Cordelia produced a tube of sparkly M.A.C. Lipglass and thrust it at Hermione. “Put this on. And while you're at it, some mascara wouldn't hurt, either.”
A few minutes later, the two girls were ready. Hermione was eager to leave for the Leaky Cauldron. All this fussing around her was making her feel self-conscious. “We should probably get going soon. We don't want to be late.”
“You're probably right,” Cordelia admitted. “Normally I'm all for being fashionably late, but it's going to be hell finding a place to sit tonight.”
The Leaky Cauldron was crowded and noisy when they arrived, despite their having shown up half an hour early. The place was overrun by Hogwarts students, who had wasted no time staking their claims on the tables nearest the stage. Cordelia and Hermione managed to snag a booth with Ginny, the Patil twins, and Luna. Luna was dressed as bizarrely as ever, with earrings shaped like bells hanging from her ears. The earrings tinkled every time she turned her head. Her blonde hair had been styled into many small braids and she wore bright-blue eye shadow, making her look like a teen tart Bo Derek.
When Hermione took off her coat and slung it across the back of the chair, she became aware of the many admiring glances from the Inn's male patrons, which made her flush self-consciously. Even Luna seemed to take a great liking to her top, which she declared, “Shiny.”
“Umm, thanks,” Hermione said. The top was gold satin after all, and it did shine in the light.
,” Luna corrected, as if reading her thoughts. “It's a new slang word. You know, like ‘wicked' or ‘cool.'”
“Ahh. I get it. Shiny.” Hermione gave Luna an indulgent smile. She'd never heard of that slang in her life. Maybe it was something unique to the wizarding world?
Cordelia, meanwhile, had gone to the bar to get a butterbeer and hadn't yet returned. She was loitering there with many of the male Gryffindor quidditch players. Harry, Ron, Seamus, Xander, and Neville arrived to find Cordelia standing between Fred and George Weasley, flirting outrageously as they regaled her with stories of their various escapades at Hogwarts.
Meanwhile, Xander had scanned the room for Hermione to find her waving at him from the already-overcrowded booth with several other girls. He froze momentarily, taking in the sight of his date in Cordelia's clothes. (He knew they had to be Cordy's; who else would dress in some gold satin thing for a Dingoes Ate My Baby show?) But Hermione looked… well, she looked hot
Xander ambled over to the table with Ron, Neville, and Seamus, while Harry went to meet Cordelia. The girls scooted over to make room for the guys, and Hermione ended up practically pressed against Xander's side. His Hawaiian shirt-clad arm kept brushing hers whenever he moved, and it made her feel… strange. It was not exactly unpleasant. It was actually kind of nice.
“Hey everyone, we're back with butterbeer!” Cordelia winked as she and Harry walked over. Cordelia had a pitcher of butterbeer in one hand, her other hand looped through Harry's arm. Despite the fact that in her heels she was an inch taller than he was, they made quite the striking couple.
“Nice.” Xander took the pitcher and poured some into a mug for Hermione. “After you.”
“Why, thank you, kind sir,” she joked, accepting the mug. The butterbeer was delicious. It flowed smoothly down her throat and left a pleasant burn in its wake. It tasted a bit different than usual, but she figured it was because it was straight out of the tap.
“This place sorta reminds me of the Bronze… kinda shabby and divey, except the Bronze is like, hip shabby and divey,” Cordelia remarked, taking in her surroundings. “Tom is mad cool, though. He let me have this entire pitcher for free!”
“Yeah, because you sweet-talked him into it,” Harry joked. He still seemed a bit overwhelmed, as if he couldn't believe Cordelia was really his date. He tried to ignore Ron glaring at him from across the table.
Soon, the band had taken the stage and launched into a loud, rowdy rock song. Some students got up to dance, and soon the area around the stage was crowded with dancing teenagers. “Oh, wow, I love this song!” Cordelia exclaimed. She grabbed Harry's hand and practically dragged him up from the booth. “Let's dance!”
“Ummm… sure.” She was already halfway to the floor, pulling Harry behind her.
“So… you wanna dance?” Xander asked Hermione as Neville departed for the dance floor with Luna, and Ron went with Parvati.
“I, um, am not really good at dancing to this sort of thing,” Hermione said awkwardly. She had learned ballroom dancing for last year's Yule Ball, but this was completely different.
“Hermione, we are supposed to be dating… couples who are dating tend to dance together,” Xander reminded her. “Come on… it's not that hard. Nobody will be paying attention, trust me.”
“Well… I guess….” She took another sip of butterbeer. She realized she'd finished off almost the whole mug. She felt kind of lightheaded and warm. What the hell?
she figured, finishing off the mug. You only live once.
Maybe Cordelia'd had a point earlier. Nights like these didn't happen all the time. Why not have some fun?
She followed Xander to the dance floor, where she immediately spotted Cordelia and Harry. Cordelia appeared to be completely at home, swinging her hips to the beat of the music in an effortlessly seductive manner. Harry seemed to be having fun—Cordelia's enthusiasm was infectious.
Hermione couldn't help but get into it as she and Xander danced together. He moved closer to her and put his hands on her hips, and she coordinated her movements to his. Although there wasn't much more bodily contact than ballroom dancing, this somehow felt so much more intimate. She'd seen muggle teenagers dance this way, and while she'd initially been scandalized, she could now see why they did. It was fun, in a naughty sort of way.
Several songs later, Cordelia and Harry were back on the floor after taking a brief break with Xander and Hermione for more butterbeer. Cordelia noticed that Hermione had been gulping the stuff down as though it were going out of style. She looked flushed and happy and giggled excessively at all of Xander's dumb jokes. Looks like someone's getting sauced
, she thought, stifling a grin. She had to admit it amused her to see her prim-and-proper roommate getting sloppy for once. She could stand to loosen up a little!
Cordelia was nursing a nice buzz herself, having partaken moderately of the butterbeer. While normally, butterbeer didn't get one drunk, Fred and George had shared some “hyphy juice” with Cordelia earlier that evening. She hadn't been able to resist spiking the pitcher. Harry had tried to talk her out of it, but she'd charmed him into going along with it, assuring him all hyphy juice did was give you a nice little buzz. It was about the strength of muggle vodka or rum, but without the nasty taste. Definitely one of the wizarding world's better inventions.
Harry had had some of the spiked butterbeer himself, and apparently it was catching up to him. He excused himself for the men's room, while Cordelia remained on the dance floor alone, waiting. She loved to dance, and didn't have the slightest problem with dancing alone. It rarely stayed that way for long, anyway!
Tonight was no exception. She was shaking it to one of her favorite songs when someone came up behind her. She had no choice but to dance with him, trying to sneak a peek over her shoulder with hopes her dance partner wasn't hideously ugly. However, before she got a good look, a voice drawled in her ear, “Cordelia, don't you even want to see who you're dancing with?”
She whirled around, hazel eyes narrowing as they met Draco Malfoy's gray ones. “What do you want, Malfoy?”
He arched an elegant pale eyebrow. “A dance, if you don't mind.”
“Sorry, I don't dance with losers.” She made to leave the dance floor, but he seized her arm.
“Cordelia, wait. I think we got off on the wrong foot. Can't we start over?”
“Oh? You mean you're not enjoying our verbal sparring matches?” she asked.
“As much as they amuse me, they are getting a bit old.”
“Perhaps if you stopped being such a prat, that might help,” she suggested sweetly.
He was unruffled. “You don't strike me as the type to date guys who are falling at your feet. If that was true, you'd be here with Weasel tonight.” He directed a derisive glance at Ron, who was dancing rather awkwardly with Luna. “You'd rather have someone a bit more… challenging.”
“I like a challenge,” Cordelia said coolly, “but I've dated a ton of guys like you and frankly, I'm over it. I've got your number, Malfoy.”
“Oh?” He shot her his trademark smirk. “And what makes you so sure I'm just like all your other boyfriends?”
“Oh, let's see…” Cordelia rattled off items on her fingers. “You're conceited, you're arrogant, you've had everything handed to you on a silver platter, you really know your designers, and oh yeah… you're a bigot.”
“This from a spoiled southern-California princess whose shoes probably cost more than the Weasleys' entire wardrobe. All seven of them.”
Cordelia put her hands on her hips. “What's your point?”
“My point is that we might have more in common than you think,” said Draco smoothly. “Now, if we're through with the pleasantries, are you going to dance with me or not?”
She heaved a huge sigh. “If it'll shut you up, fine.”
“You sure know how to charm a man.”
She glared up at him—he was taller than Harry, with whom she was at about eye level. “Show me a man, and I'll do my best.”
“Ouch, that hurt.” He feigned an injured expression.
She had to smile at that, shaking her head. “You are so easy… you just walk right into those!”
“We're not all gifted with wit as sharp as Cordelia Chase.”
“Well, given our exchanges thus far this year, I'm inclined to agree,” she said with an arch smile. She was still in awe that she was actually having a civil conversation with Draco Malfoy when he spoke again.
“So… you really think I know my designers?” he asked, with a slight frown.
“Oh, obviously. Let me guess—that shirt is totally
Gaultier,” she said. “And you would deign to wear his designs, because he's actually a wizard. Even if he does work with those dreadful muggles.”
“Yes, that is most unfortunate,” Draco agreed, picking up on her sarcasm. “You only like muggles because of their fashion designers.”
“Hey, I know what they do well,” Cordelia asserted. “You purebloods, always taking about how lowly
muggles are and such… please. There's what, 3 pureblood families left? I bet there's a bit of muggle in all of you—even you
He looked as though she had just dealt him the vilest insult imaginable. “There haven't a drop of muggle blood in my entire family!”
She raised an eyebrow. “And yet, you go through the trouble to secure a dance with a filthy half-blood like myself.”
“Your mother's parentage is most unfortunate,” he acknowledged, “but the House of Chase is among the oldest and most powerful in America. There are so few pureblood families in North America, I suppose that's why your father saw fit to marry a muggleborn.”
“My, aren't we the master at backhanded compliments,” Cordelia snarked, but she wasn't about to let him win this round. “You are so full of contradictions.”
He smirked. “What can I say? I'm a complex guy.”
Meanwhile, Harry had returned from the men's room in time to witness Malfoy moving in on his date. Quick as a flash, he had back on the dance floor at Cordelia's side. “Is he bothering you?” he asked her, his eyes fixed on Draco's face.
“I was handling it,” she assured Harry, turning up the charm instantly.
“Good. Why don't you go scam on someone else's date, Malfoy?” Harry demanded, moving protectively to Cordelia's side.
Draco looked more amused than offended. “You left her alone; I filled in. A girl like Cordelia won't have an empty dance card for long.”
“Well, lucky for you she's too polite to tell you where you can take your dance card,” Harry shot back. “I, however, am not that polite.”
The light touch of a manicured hand on his shoulder gave him pause. “Harry, chill. He's not worth it,” Cordelia told him, with a sideways glance at Draco.
“You've landed a smart one, Potter,” Draco told him sagely. “I'd watch her if I were you. You never know when someone else will swoop in and steal her.” With that, he sauntered off.
Harry was so enraged he was practically shaking. “I swear, it's a good thing he left when he did or I'd have hexed him into next weekend!”
“Harry… it's OK. I'm a big girl; I can handle it,” Cordelia assured him. “It's sweet of you to defend my honor, though.” She flashed him her most disarming smile.
It seemed to work. Somewhat mollified, Harry relaxed a bit. “What a git!”
“See, we agree on something,” Cordelia quipped. “Come on… forget about him and dance with me.”
He obliged, and after a few numbers, Harry's mood seemed to have passed. Cordelia still had her eye on Draco, though. Not because she was attracted to him—sure, he was hot and made good arm candy, but she didn't trust him any farther that she could throw him. It wouldn't be the first time a guy had shown interest in her with less-than-pure intentions. But she was also confident in what she'd told Harry—she could handle Malfoy.
Meanwhile, across the floor, Hermione and Xander were having a far more pleasant evening. They were still dancing, and she was having a blast! She'd never been so daring with a guy in public before, and it was positively thrilling. Unfortunately, Cordelia's shoes weren't conducive to spending hours (actually, more like a few minutes) on her feet, and they seemed to be getting even harder
to balance in. She stumbled and fell against Xander, who hastily caught her and helped her regain her balance. “Whoa, there… careful,” he teased.
She giggled and leaned against him. “Sorry… I don't know how Cordelia can wear these all night!”
“That will have to remain one of the world's great mysteries,” Xander cracked. He was going to have to cut Hermione off the butterbeer. Not that drunk Hermione wasn't fun, but Xander didn't want to take advantage of her. Considering how hot she looked and the fact that she seemed into it, he was far more tempted than he thought he'd be.
Hermione hazarded a glance at Ron and Luna, who were dancing together across the floor. Ron's eyes met Hermione's and, with a wide grin, she turned back to Xander. It was hard to tell in the dim lighting, but Ron appeared to be a mixture of stunned and puzzled.
In the meantime, Harry and Cordelia had taken a break from the dance floor. Cordelia's feet ached from so much dancing in those killer heels, but she didn't want to let on. Instead, she and Harry lounged at the bar sipping (non-spiked) butterbeers. Cordelia plucked a maraschino cherry from the tray at the bar and popped one in her mouth, then grabbed another. “I love these things… have one.” Holding it by the stem, she offered it to Harry.
She was clearly intending to feed it to him. Hoping his flushed face didn't show in the dim lighting, Harry awkwardly leaned forward and bit the cherry off of the stem. Grinning mischievously, Cordelia took the stem and popped it in her mouth. A moment later, she withdrew the stem to show it tied neatly in a knot.
“Neat trick… that some kind of charm?” he asked, sweating slightly under the lights. Tom had really turned up the heat in the Leaky Cauldron tonight.
“Nah. Just skill,” Cordelia said. “It's not that hard… you just gotta catch the stem between your teeth and use your tongue to tie it… wanna try?” She bit off another cherry and handed him the stem.
“Umm… OK.” After several failed attempts to tie the cherry stems in a knot, Cordelia and Harry were both giggling hysterically over their butterbeers.
“Oh God… I think I just choked on butterbeer,” Cordelia rasped, breaking in a simultaneous coughing and giggling fit.
“Here, drink something.” He held out her mug of butterbeer while rubbing his hand in slow circles on her back.
She drank the amber liquid slowly, until gradually the coughing fit subsided. “I think I snorted some up my nose!” she joked when she had recovered the power of speech.
“Ow.” He smiled sympathetically at her. His hand was still on her back, and she was leaning rather close to him. She smelled incredible, like flowers and some other clean, distinctly feminine scent. Probably her perfume or something. Her lip gloss was still impeccably applied, making her lips look even fuller and softer in the dim light.
Her eyes caught his and in that moment, he realized she was probably expecting him to kiss her. Harry's heart did a funny leaping thing and for a moment he thought he was going to be sick. He hadn't kissed a girl before. Cordelia was probably very experienced… what if he wasn't any good? Or course, he'd look like a total loser if he backed out now, so he had to go for it. Terrified, he leaned closer to Cordelia, who lifted her face instinctively.
Their lips were about an inch apart when she said, “Umm… Harry…”
“Yes?” Oh God, I totally botched it and I didn't even kiss her yet. Way to go.
“I think… I'm having another….” The sentence had barely come out of her mouth before she doubled over in pain.
Harry immediately caught her before she toppled off the bar stool. A couple students nearby glanced curiously in their direction, and he hastily said, “She had a bit too much to drink.”
Her nails dug into his arm as she gripped his sleeve, grimacing. “What do you see?” he asked in as hushed a tone as he could, over the loud music.
“A group of figures… they're in like, dark robes or something,” she gasped, still reeling from the vision. “Standing in a circle… in some kinda ritual. Something about… their master is gone, but a new power shall rise. Meh. And there's some kinda insignia on their hoods.”
Harry felt his heart constrict. “Is it… a snake and a skull?”
She shook her head, wincing at the aftershocks of pain that ricocheted through it at the motion. “No, it's something totally different. It's like a triangle with some… guh. I'll have to draw it for Giles later.”
“Yeah, he'll know,” Harry said, still unsure if they could completely trust the ex-librarian, although Cordelia and Xander seemed to. He was also more than a little disturbed at this new development. If Cordelia hadn't seen the Death Eaters… what had she seen?
“I think this music is giving me a headache,” she groaned. “Excuse me a minute.”
“I'll come with you,” Harry offered quickly as Cordelia slid off the bar stool.
“To the ladies' room? Harry, it's only the first date,” she teased, making him blush to the roots of his tousled hair. “Be right back, K?”
“OK,” he agreed, watching her stroll off toward the back of the inn. The sway of her hips was so effortlessly seductive… if it weren't for her dark features, he'd swear she was part veela.
In the ladies' room, Cordelia took a moment to dab at her face and neck with a damp paper towel (splashing water on her face would totally ruin her makeup) and fix her hair. Her mood had gone from euphoric to total crap within the span of a few minutes. Damn visions. Could their timing have been any worse??
Cordelia left the ladies' room and decided to step outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air. Harry wouldn't mind. When Cordelia stepped out the back door into the alley, the blast of cool air instantly rejuvenated her. She still heard the booming bass from inside the Inn reverberating through the alley, but at least the music was somewhat muted out here. She just needed to clear her head a bit.
However, she'd only been outside for a few minutes when she thought she heard footsteps behind her. “Oh, Harry, you didn't have to come after me…” she began, only to turn and see that the footsteps did not
belong to Harry.
A/N: Yeah, I know that was an evil cliffy, but this chapter was getting way too long and I had to end it somewhere. However, if this were a book and not an online fic, that would probably be a standard chapter ending point. No worries, though… I'm already halfway through chapter 9 so it won't be a long wait!
Luna's use of the word “shiny” is a shout-out to the TV series Firefly
and the movie Serenity
Yeah, I know “hyphy juice” was pretty silly (for those of you who don't know, it comes from the Mistah Fab song “Stupid Dumb and Hyphy”). But actually, it kinda sounds like something from the wizarding world, and it's also a shout-out to my hyphy friend G.
“What can I say? I'm a complex guy” is a line from the TV series Lost