As Mad As Ajax by Torak
Summary: ** Winner of Best Humor in the Angst Valentine Challenge **
Love is in the air at Hogwarts - but it might be getting a bit whiffy.
(EDIT: Tweaked on the 15th to add missing italics. No other changes made.)
Categories: Angst Valentine Challenge (2006-1)
As Mad As Ajax by Torak
Chapter 1: As Mad As AjaxAuthor's Notes:
Angst Valentine: Mad As Ajax
A/N: Angst? With a Torak by-line? Not gonna happen…
And Valentine? With a Torak by-line? That’s not gonna happen either, so I seem to be at somewhat of a disadvantage.
Oh, and there are some surprise pairings in there. I don’t necessarily ship any of them, they just worked…
In the girls’ dormitory, three heads lay in the centre of the counterpane.
“I can’t believe he forgot Valentine’s day,” Ginny fumed, perched on her bed, glaring at the canopy above her. She was lying with her bottom on the pillow, her legs up the wall and her head somewhere in the middle of the duvet; such a position is not considered unusual by teenage girls.
“Oh, I know,” Lavender grumbled, chewing on a pigtail. She and Hermione lay at the foot end of the bed, their heads on either side of Ginny’s, glaring similarly up towards the ceiling. “So did Seamus. I should have stayed with Dean, he never forgot Valentine’s.”
“That’s because you went out with him in September, Lav.” Hermione remarked drily. “But I had expected better from Ron — I bumped into him outside and he gave me a flower.”
“Well, it’s something.” Ginny said, a note of envy tingeing her voice. “At least he remembered.”
“I saw him pick it,” Hermione snorted. “He saw me coming, panicked, and grabbed the first bush he came across.”
“Well, in that case…” Lavender began, an evil smirk starting to flicker across her face.
“…and anyway,” Hermione continued pointedly, cutting Lavender off before she could complete the sentence,
“then I overheard him explaining his flower antics to Sloper with ‘it’s her eight-week anniversary’. I mean, mine? It’s his too!” Her voice, which had been rising steadily, spluttered back down to low hiss. “I mean, it’s neither, it’s Valentine’s day! Oh, I don’t know what he was thinking.”
“Well, it’s the thought that counts. Can’t believe he was talking to Sloper about it, though…” Lavender settled back into her grumbling. “Anyway, at least yours remembered when he saw you. I spent half an hour on the sofa snogging Seamus like mad, but he didn’t notice.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “That’s because that’s perfectly ordinary behaviour for you. You want it to be a special occasion, try keeping your hands off him for five or ten minutes.”
“— it’s closer to twelve and a half weeks or something, anyway —” Hermione grumbled quietly.
“What?” Lavender asked, blinking as she was dragged back to Hermione’s complaint.
“Ron. And it was so obvious that he’d forgotten, too. Picking the flower without even trying to make it look premeditated, I mean…”
“Spontaneous,” Lavender said charitably. Ginny, on the other hand, grinned.
“Didn’t stop you from stashing that flower inside your shirt, though, did it?”
Hermione flushed guiltily, folding her arms over her chest.
“That’s not the point.”
Ginny sighed. “We just have to face it, I suppose. All guys are useless. At everything.”
“Mostly,” Lavender smirked.
That killed the conversation for a moment, and they resumed their staring at the ceiling.
Then a thought struck Ginny.
“Where’s Luna, anyway?”
* * *
Neville lay back on the blanket, leaning his head against the copper beech and swallowing the last bite of his sandwich, while Luna rummaged around in the hamper for another butterbeer. He could get used to this — peace and quiet, a picnic, Luna… Yes, life was good.
“I think the others forgot Valentine’s Day,” Luna said, sitting down beside him.
“Well, Ginny seemed so grumpy, and so did Hermione. It’s obvious, Ronald and Harry must have forgotten.”
He gazed up at the sky, watching the clouds curl slightly as they passed through the ward network, seeing the slight diffraction it caused in the golden light cast by the setting sun. Luna was talking about something, but it wasn’t them, so for the time being it didn’t matter. Oooh, look, a buzzard.
Luna raised an eyebrow.
“I’m thinking of eloping with a Burundian Toady and building an army of mutant cucumbers to take over the world.”
Now a flock of birds had taken to the air, flying in a tight ball, chopping and changing direction to warm up for the night.
“There’s a six-foot glowing green Snorkack crawling into your ear.”
It really was a very nice evening, he thought, absently turning to look at Luna, silhouetted against the sun setting over the lake. There was, he noted, some random babbling in the background, but the scene was too idyllic to bother about it.
“The castle just stood up and went for a butterbeer at the Hog’s Head.”
Now a small flock of bats had emerged from the trees and set out to hunt, their high-pitched squeaks barely audible over the gentle lapping of the lake. A mosquito settled on his nose, and…
Luna grinned down at him.
“World of your own?” She smiled indolently at him, swatted the midgie away and kissed him gently on the nose. He wrinkled it at her, breaking into a broad grin.
“You missed my lips by a mile.”
She burst out laughing, and kissed him on the mouth.
* * *
“They’ll kill us for forgetting Valentine’s Day,” Ron fretted as they hurried toward McGonagall’s office.
“Naw,” Seamus said. “It’s only Valentine’s, and we’re only moving it a bit. They probably haven’t even noticed.”
“I dunno,” Ron said sceptically. “Hermione seemed a bit pi…” he glanced up, and without missing a beat, continued, “peeved when I gave her that flower earlier. Hello, Professor Flitwick!”
The diminutive professor gave them a wide smile, but they noticed that he furtively stashed the parcel he was carrying behind his back.
“Oh, hello, children! Lovely day… yes, lovely day…”
“Meeting someone special, Professor?” Harry grinned.
“Oh, er, just going to talk to, um, Professor Vector about some… er… arithmancy components for… yes, for my fourth-year charms classes. Yes. Haha, yes.” He rolled his eyes demonstratively, failing to appear nonchalant. “Yes, the, um, pressure of work, you know. I’ll… I’ll just…”
“Have a good time, Professor,” Harry grinned. Seamus waggled his eyebrows at Flitwick over Harry’s shoulders.
“Yeah, go ahead and enjoy yourself. We won’t tell anyone about your ‘meeting’…” He winked, in a way that could only be considered subtle by someone whose idea of a gentle hint was a half-brick in a sock.
Flitwick goggled for a moment, then turned with an embarrassed smile and scuttled off down the corridor.
“Flitwick and Vector,” Harry mused. “Who’d have thought?”
“I saw Sinistra sneaking into the Three Broomsticks,” Ron pointed out.
“What, her and Rosmerta?”
Ron glanced back at where Flitwick had wandered off. “You know what, today nothing could surprise me.
“Yeah yeah, never mind,” Seamus muttered, a worried expression suddenly creasing his face. “Ron, you gave Hermione a flower?”
“Well, now she’ll know we know it’s Valentine’s Day! And worse, if she’d forgotten it-”
“-fat chance-” Harry interjected.
“-now you’ve reminded her!”
“Well, yeah, but it’s Hermione! She doesn’t forget things!”
“At least I didn’t get a faceful of canaries this time…”
* * *
“Why, Severus, it’s beautiful!” the witch exclaimed, clutching the bouquet.
Snape simpered beside her on the blanket, popping another praline in his mouth. His face was relaxed and cheerful, his hair clean and cut short.
“On’y ‘e besht ‘or ‘ou, ‘y ‘ear,” he chewed, eliciting a delighted giggle from her.
“Oh, Severus, imagine if your students knew you like I do.”
“I’d rather not. I’d never live it down.”
She giggled. “I don’t know how you manage to keep up that pretence, honestly…”
Snape smiled thinly, before tapping his wand to his hair, instantly transforming it into its usual greasy curtain. He contorted his face into its customary sneer.
“Talking back to a teacher, eh? Fifty points from Hufflepuff, I think, and ooh, about eight hours of detention overnight.”
“That sounds nice,” she smiled.
“I can’t believe they’re still not speaking to us,” Ginny muttered.
“Good,” Hermione said grimly.
* * *
“I can’t believe they haven’t jinxed us yet,” Ron muttered, wrapping his jaws around a sandwich.
“Good,” Harry said emphatically.
“I can’t believe Ron’s missing breakfast,” Hermione said as she poured a glass of pumpkin juice.
“I was planning to surprise Seamus,” Lavender said, gloomily doodling in her cereal, “so I snuck into their dorm in pretty much nothing except my robe, just after he went to the shower, and I put a little occluding charm around the bed and I planned to sit their kit-less when he got back, but then he never got back.”
“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Ginny muttered without a hint of sympathy. “It would probably have been worse if he’d seen you.”
“Or for that matter if anyone had seen you,” Hermione added, wide-eyed. “I mean, it’s not the sort of thing you want to be known for, is it?”
Lavender clamped her eyes shut for a moment, then dropped her spoon into her cereal with a splash of milk before thumping her forehead onto the tabletop.
“I’ll never be able to look Dean in the face again.”
* * *
“I still can’t believe you managed to book Madam Puddifoot’s for the whole day,” Seamus said in awe as they walked back up the hill towards the school. Harry grinned.
“I might as well get some use out of this scar. And a nice day out with Ginny is worth playing the celebrity game for a few moments.”
“Can’t wait until I see the look on their faces when they see what we’ve arranged for them,” Ron added, toying with a small gift-wrapped oblong. “They’ll be bloody ecstatic.”
This seemed to meet with general agreement, and they continued up the hill. Halfway to the school gates, they bumped into Dean, who was heading into Hogsmeade — the latest Gladrags Quidditch Gear catalogue poking out of his pocket. He smirked when he saw Seamus.
“Someone had a bit of a night, eh? Eh?” He drew level and elbowed Seamus jokingly in the ribs.
Seamus looked blank.
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, nothing,” Dean said airily, “just the fact that you didn’t get rid of Lavender early enough this morning, did you?”
“Dean, so help me, if you don’t tell me what you’re on about I’ll wring your neck.” An exasperated note started creeping into Seamus’ voice, while Harry and Ron looked on with interest.
“What, like you didn’t know about Lavender curled up starkers in your bed? Yeah, right…”
“What the hell are you talking about? I haven’t seen her all day!”
This seemed to flummox Dean for a moment.
“But… but she was there! I saw her!”
“Y’know, it’s not usually a good sign to be fantasising about other blokes’ girlfriends in the nudd,” Seamus said pointedly, taking a step towards Dean. “Might make people think you’re getting the wrong ideas, see?”
“No, no, I swear! She was there! I’m cer… I’m almost certain…” He looked momentarily startled, then started wandering off towards Hogsmeade, talking to himself. “I think I’m going mad…”
The three continued up the hill in contemplative silence, at least one of them pondering the image Dean had conjured up, rather than his mental state.
“You… um…” Ron began. “You don’t suppose he could have been right?”
“What, my girlfriend bounding into my bed and flinging her clothes all over the place? Trust me, if that happened, I’d be the first to know.”
They carried on up the hill.
“Absolutely,” Seamus continued, the conviction in his voice wavering slightly, “the first to know. No doubt about it.”
As they passed through the school gates, a thought seemed to strike Ron.
“Do you suppose there’s any breakfast left?”
* * *
As they entered the castle and started up the stairs, a shrill voice rang out from above them.
“RON!” Hermione bellowed, catching sight of him. If looks could kill, Ron’s life expectancy would have been measured in milliseconds. “You’ve got some explaining to do!”
“Oooh bugger,” Seamus muttered and, within a matter of seconds, was nowhere to be seen.
“Glad to have your support, Seamus,” Ron mumbled, wincing as Hermione pounded down the stairs towards him.
“All right, Ronald, since you clearly forgot all about it on Tuesday, we’re going to have Valentine’s Day today, whether you like it or not!”
“That was the plan…” Ron began, before Hermione cut him off.
“Don’t interrupt, Ron! You’re going to come with me and we’re going to have a lovely time and you’re going to like it, whether you like it or not!”
“Well, actually,” Ron hurried, “we’d already organised a lunch for you girls down at Madam Puddifoot’s…”
“I don’t want to hear it! Now, if you resist, I may inadvertently fracture your skeleton in several places until…” Her brain finally seemed to catch up with her ears, and she blinked. “You what?”
* * *
“All right,” Ginny admitted two hours later, finishing her dessert, “moving Valentine’s wasn’t a catastrophe. Harry grinned at her.
“You know, you never did tell me what you expected for Valentine’s Day. I mean, a singing card, perhaps?”
“I don’t know, really.” She smiled. “A card, maybe. A smile, a hug, a whole bunch of chocolates, some kind of evidence that I’m actually female.”
“I think we can arrange that,” Harry said, leaning in for a kiss.
* * *
In the Three Broomsticks that night, Madam Rosmerta had had an unusually enjoyable day.
She breezed around the bar, sweeping the floor. The room was almost empty, apart from a lone hooded figure shrouded in the shadows of a booth in the far corner. Rosmerta locked the door and wafted over to the figure, sitting down close beside it.
“I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day on Tuesday. With all your work, I don’t often get the chance to spend time with my favourite wizard, after all.”
The figure rose, gently pecked her on the cheek and headed for the door.
“Until next time,” said Severus Snape.
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