WOOP! QLFC Round 9 everybody. I can't believe it! I think I need a nap. Anywho, this round, we were assigned Shakespear plays 'pon which to base our stories. I was assigned A Midsummer Night's Dream, and if you know the play, then you'll spot a number of references to the story, but for a quick and dirty rundown/who's who, here's the deal:

1. Hogwarts serves as our Athenian Forest full of confused lovers.
2. Lily Evans is playing my darling Helena/Hermia, whilst...
3. James Potter is a Demetrius/Lysander hybrid.
4. Remus, Peter, and Sirius are, predictably, sharing the roles of the Rustics (the actors and their play) and the Fairies, including in particular, Puck and Bottom (Sirius, duh).

Teehee. I like making them act like Shakespeare characters.

And last but not least, my prompts this round:

1. "Titanium" by David Guetta ft. Sia
2. No saying any of the characters' actual names, and thanks again to my judge for being nice about the nicknames :)
3. A word count of precisely 2,618. My judge probably knows this too, but FF messes up counts all the time, so just let me know if you need proof that I hit that number exactly, minus the epigraph and date at the beginning. Thanks!

And without further ado about nothing (SHUT UP I'M HILARIOUS)...


"Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?
When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?

Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do,
In such disdainful manner me to woo.
But fare you well. Perforce I must confess
I thought you lord of more true gentleness."

- Helena, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, scene 2

17 December 1977

The Christmas season was settling over Hogwarts, bringing with it an impermeable sense of anticipation among students and staff alike, and the students were becoming more distracted in their lessons by the day. Among this number were four inseparable friends; one could never run into one of the four without running into the rest within moments.

One was a chubby, cheerful, shy boy who was very clever, even if his memory was rather poor; his friends called him Wormtail. The second was a tall, thin boy known as Moony, with dark shadows like bruises under his eyes, but a permanent, lighthearted smile on his face. The third was a deviously good-looking boy, usually called Padfoot, with a keen eye and a nose for trouble. And the fourth was called Prongs, a generally good-natured and brave young wizard who, at the moment, was rather forlorn.

As the last Transfiguration lesson of the term was winding down, Prongs' gaze behind his round spectacles was focused somewhere near the window. He hadn't noticed that his messy black hair was flecked with a few screwed-up bits of parchment, which Wormtail and Padfoot had been flicking at the back of his head for the last fifteen minutes; he also hadn't noticed Moony digging an elbow into his side, and he especially hadn't noticed that the teacher was glaring at him over her square-framed spectacles.

There was a giggle around the classroom as Prongs suddenly realized he was the center of attention, and sat up, turning scarlet. The professor's glasses glinted ominously. "Have I bored you?" she asked tartly, pursing her lips into a thin line.

"No," said Prongs quickly, as his friends snickered. "Sorry, ma'am."

"Hm." She turned her back on the class to write on the board once again, and Prongs stole a glance over to the window again, where she sat.

She was none other than the loveliest girl in the school (in the world, were you to ask Prongs, but at the moment that was neither here nor there). She was a tall, beautiful, sharp-tongued but endlessly kind young witch whom the boys referred to in company as 'Violet,' because she'd caught them whispering about her once or twice too often, and had threatened to hex them all the next time it happened.

In spite of that particular remark, however, Violet and Prongs' relationship this term was a vast improvement from previous years, and they had become quite friendly; they studied together, ate together, and had become close in a way that had convinced most of Gryffindor House that they would be 'officially' dating practically any day.

That is, until their most recent interaction had gone badly wrong. Prongs had gotten Violet landed in a detention by timing a prank to take place during her prefect duties. Despite his apologies and offers to come forward and explain, she'd lost her temper with him, which had set him off as well, igniting an explosive row in the Gryffindor common room, and the pair of them hadn't spoken or made eye contact for weeks.

Although they'd never done anything more than irritate each other and then resume a ceasefire of grudging tolerance for the last five years or so, something was different this time. Both Violet and Prongs had been wandering about the castle in gloomy moods, shooting each other nasty looks and muttering darkly, so that most of their friends and teachers had grown quite sick of their lovelorn behavior.

At the moment, however, Violet's head was bent over her notes, her brilliant green eyes alight with intense concentration; she didn't notice Prongs, which was just as well for him, because he always acted rather foolish when he knew she could see him, even when they were fighting.

"Hey, Prongsy," whispered Padfoot, leaning forward and poking the end of a quill between Prongs' shoulder blades. "Gonna do it, mate?"

"Shut it," he hissed back.

"If you don't, I will," Padfoot said, jabbing him again. Prongs turned around and gave him a dirty look. "Oh yeah, I will. Don't look at me like that. It'd serve you right if you and your soul mate didn't make up and have a holiday snog because you couldn't stop acting like a moony little prat. No offense, Moony."

Moony waved a forgiving hand in Padfoot's direction, not taking his eyes from the board; the professor was still shooting beady glances their way.

"You've got about an hour before term ends. Better act fast," Padfoot said, with one last prod of the quill. He sat back in his seat and resumed his game of hangman with Wormtail.

Prongs turned his head slightly to steal another look at Violet, who was now frowning up at the professor, nodding slowly as she curled the end of her long, dark auburn braid around her fingertip. His stomach made the same miserable clenching motion it had done since they'd first fought, a combination of guilt and irritation. He pushed it away and turned back to his work.

"FREEDOOOM!" Padfoot bellowed, before leaping off the snowdrift on which he stood and landing bodily on top of Moony, who collapsed underneath him, laughing hysterically. "No more class! No more homework! No more bloody—nonverbal—" He and Moony both got up, shaking off the layer of snow that now coated their cloaks, "—spell practice." He grinned at Wormtail and Prongs.

"Get your laughs now, the sun's going down," Prongs called.

"I'm cold!" said Wormtail in agreement.

"Aw, poor Wormy," cooed Padfoot, slinging an arm around Moony's neck as they traipsed through the snow.

"All right, let's head back. I know for a fact you three haven't packed," said Moony. They started forward, digging deep trenches in the snow with their steps.

"What d'you mean?" Padfoot demanded. "I'll have you know—"

"Your stuff is all over the dormitory!" Wormtail told him. "And isn't that your necktie hanging on the tap in the bathroom?"

Padfoot gave a careless shrug. "Whatever. Hey, Prongs!"

Prongs, as a matter of fact, was currently transfixed by a figure walking alone up the path from the greenhouses, her braid fluttering a little in the chilly breeze.

"Ooh," said Wormtail. "It's Violet," he snorted, catching up to Moony and Padfoot.

"Eyes back in your head, Prongsy," barked Padfoot. When Prongs ignored him, Padfoot rolled his eyes and took off running in Violet's direction.

"Hey—wait!" Prongs called, sprinting after him, Moony and Wormtail on his heels. "Padfoot, no!"

"Why, my lovely flower, how are you on this fine December evening?" gasped Padfoot, out of breath and rumpled as he ascended the path, catching Violet's elbow. He grinned at her. She stopped and faced him, a sarcastic smile on her face.

"Call me your flower again, I dare you," she said, withdrawing her wand from her pocket and twirling it expertly in her gloved fingers.

Prongs had caught up to them. "Padfoot—"

"Oh, now, tish-tosh," said Padfoot, ignoring him and looping his arm in Violet's, walking her in the direction of the castle, leaving Prongs to gawk at them. "Come on, love, that's no way to talk to an old friend is it?"

"Are you having a laugh?" she asked, tilting her head to one side.

"I?" Padfoot asked in a scandalized tone.

Wormtail and Moony had caught up to Prongs, and were now pushing him along the path. "You'd better put a stop to it," said Moony in his ear. "He's serious enough to try, and you know that'll just make her angrier. If you want to ask her out, now's the time, mate."

Prongs made a helpless sort of sputtering noise as Violet and Padfoot came to a stop on the path ahead; she looked livid. "I mean it, are you having a go at me?" she demanded. "This isn't funny!"

"I'm as serious as can be," said Padfoot, now sweeping into a low bow before her.

She gaped soundlessly down at him, her mouth opening and closing several times. She looked at Moony, Wormtail, and then Prongs for some kind of explanation. "You're just going to let him have a laugh at my expense, are you?" she demanded of Prongs.

He felt an immediate rush of guilt. "N-no—you've got the wrong—"

"Oh, don't be like that, duckie," crooned Padfoot, grabbing her hand.

That was it.

"I thought better of you," she said viciously to Prongs. "Of all of you." And she turned on her heel and stormed away, up the steps to the castle.

Padfoot gave a slightly bemused snicker, but both Moony and Wormtail were looking nervously at Prongs. "Oh, come on," said Padfoot, "she's not that upset, mate, she'll be fine."

"You're an ass," Prongs snapped, slamming his shoulder into Padfoot's as he stomped past, following Violet.

"That wasn't on, Padfoot," said Moony. "You shouldn't have made fun of her, you knew it wouldn't get them to make up."

He made an indignant noise. "I wasn't—"

"Yeah, you were, you berk," Moony cut across him. "And you have to help put it right."

"How?" Padfoot asked.

"I've got an idea!" said Wormtail unexpectedly. "There was that potion—that Amortentia stuff, it was in the dungeons during Potions yesterday. We could put a little in her pumpkin juice tonight at dinner—"

"What, you want to slip her a mickey? Are you mental?" Moony demanded.

"I mean, it has its merits as an idea," Padfoot shrugged, as the three of them started to walk towards the castle. "At least then she'd end up giving him that same soppy look he gives her and they'd finally get on the same page."

"What are you talking about?" Moony asked incredulously.

"Well, we've got to do something, Moony," Padfoot insisted. "He's been moping about her all term, and then they had this huge row, and Merlin knows how long it'll take them to figure things out now! I don't think he's actually laughed since last May!"

Moony frowned thoughtfully. "Well…you've got a point. But the two of you aren't allowed to go anywhere near her until I come up with a plan, all right? I mean it. No love potions. We're going to help Prongs, not mess things up for him any more than you already have," he told Padfoot pointedly.

Prongs went to dinner alone that night. At the very tail end of the dinner hour, he sat sulking at the one end of the Gryffindor table where the platters were still full of food, his head low over his plate as he picked at his Irish stew.

"Oh—"

He looked up, startled—there she was, right before him, looking very uncomfortable. "I didn't think anyone would be down here," said Violet, clearly irritated.

"Nor did I—I can go," he said quickly, standing up.

"No, it's fine—finish your food. We don't need to talk," she told him, sitting down as well.

Prongs nodded and looked away, scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably. "So…er, looking forward to the holiday?" he asked. She gave him a dirty look, and he blushed.

"I'm really sorry," he told her. "Seriously."

Her green eyes were locked firmly on the enchanted ceiling. She took a short breath through her nose, in and out, and then shook her head, applying herself to her dinner again.

Prongs watched her. "Look, Padfoot wasn't laughing at you. I promise."

She glared at him.

"No, c'mon, don't look at me like that," he implored her. "Please. It—they were having a go at me. Because…because I've been an idiot, lately. He was laughing at me, not you."

"And? He was still making me into a joke," she said coolly. "And it's been a long time since you treated me like that—well, until three weeks ago."

"I…I didn't want to make you into a joke," he replied. "That's not what I—"

"Really?" she asked skeptically. She shook her head. "Before your stupid prank, you hadn't tried to tease me into liking you in ages. Honestly, I thought you'd grown up."

"But—I have," he told her. "Really, I don't want to do that. I don't want you to ever—ever—feel embarrassed because of me. Or because of my friends."

Were her eyes glowing brighter, or was the torchlight just dimming around them? Prongs couldn't quite tell, but he didn't care; he felt spellbound in her gaze, like all of the ambient noise of the castle was quieting around them to make space for this moment.

"Thanks for saying that," she said softly. She had taken her hair out of its braid, and it hung loose around her shoulders, catching the golden lights of the nearest glittering Christmas tree.

He nodded. "I mean it," he said, clearing his throat. He looked around and stood up. "I'm going to head upstairs. Good night."

"Oh—don't—you don't have to leave," she said. "Stay. We can…talk about the holidays, or something." She gave him a slightly awkward smile.

"Yeah, I'd like that," he smiled, sitting down again.

"As long as you never let you-know-who flirt with me again," she told him warningly.

Prongs turned scarlet. "He had a bad reaction to a potion, you know, he's gone a bit mad and it's all we can do to try and keep him out of trouble. He proposed to a suit of armor last week and he's been talking to some imaginary pixie friends. Sad, really."

She laughed out loud, then fixed him with a shrewd look. "And what's your excuse?" He looked so embarrassed that she couldn't help but laugh again. "I'm just teasing. You're a much better flirt than you used to be."

Prongs choked on his pumpkin juice.

Out in the entrance hall, nearly an hour later, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Moony were standing guard, making sure that the semi-private dinner inside continued undisturbed. Moony peered through the doorway into the Great Hall.

"What are they doing?" Wormtail grinned.

Moony pointed his wand at the candles on the Christmas tree nearest Prongs and Violet, bringing the lighting around them to a cozy golden glow. "They're still talking. They haven't argued or anything."

"There's a first," Padfoot said, yawning lazily and grinning. "Nice work, gentlemen."

Steam billowed forth from the Hogwarts Express as Prongs and Violet stood together on the Hogsmeade station platform the next morning, watching as students loaded trunks onto the train. Suddenly, the backs of their hands brushed, and they jumped apart as though they'd been shocked.

"Sorry," they both murmured, looking away from each other with nervous smiles.

"Hey, Prongs, are you coming or what?" shouted Padfoot, hanging halfway out of an open compartment window. "Get a move on!"

"Er…well, I guess I'll see you," said Prongs, giving Violet a sheepish smile. "It—it was really nice to talk to you last night. I'm glad we're—friends again."

"Yeah, me too. Friends," she nodded, tucking a strand of her dark red hair behind her ear and smiling. "Have a nice holiday."

"You too," he said.

Then, as the train whistle blew, she flung her arms around his neck, pressing a long, deep, passionate kiss to his lips. After a moment, she drew back slightly, and Prongs, now positively ashen, gaped at her in utter shock.

"Well…what've we got to lose, after all?" she said, touching a finger to his chin with a small laugh.

"N-nothing," he sputtered, once his brain had clunked into motion again and he could formulate words. "Nothing at all."

She smiled, one corner of her mouth lifting. "Fire away, then."

He grinned, and with a laugh like he couldn't believe this was happening in his wildest dreams, he leaned in for another enthusiastic kiss.