D/C: I don't own Harry Potter.

Right, so this isn't something that I would normally write, but it's for a contest on a Harry Potter site, and the rules are you have to write a story about a character before Harry came along. I would normally write about the Marauders, but I wanted something different, so here you go.

Many thanks to Mojomig, who despite being giga-busy, always makes time to read through my stories!

Looking Inside a Crystal Ball

It wasn't easy, being who she was; everyone always expected things from her, and when she couldn't keep up with what they wanted her to do, they'd call her a fraud, and move away from her. That was part of the reason why she had no friends at all. The other reason was that people thought she was rather...intimidating, which was really so ridiculous; what was intimidating about her? But, of course, she already knew the answer; they were all intimidated by her special ability - seeing the future.

Pulling her book bag over her shoulder, Sybill Trelawney made her way down the staircase, and stepped into the Ravenclaw Common Room. Ignoring all the sniggers the other Ravenclaws had started exchanging, she turned her nose up in the air and stomped off towards the Portrait Hole. Although, to her humiliation, when she attempted to climb out of the hole, she stumbled over her long black robes and fell face-down on the opposite side of the portrait.

Trying to drown out their uproar of laughter with a rhythmic "They're just jealous, they're just jealous, they're just jealous", which seemed to work like a charm every time she was in such a situation, Sybill climbed up to her feet, gathered her bag and scurried off down the hall.

She was already late for her class, and her most important class at that; Divination. She had five minutes to go, but could already See that she wasn't going to make it to the Northern Tower, which was a downright shame, because they were going to be discussing tea leaves this time. However, she was going to try and be there as soon as possible.

When she got there, she was already tired, and she doubled over, panting.

"Greetings, my fair lady."

Sybill smiled at the sound of that voice, and she looked up at the gentleman who had saluted her. She stepped up towards the portrait which was hung on the wall, and smiled at the knight in armour, who was standing on a patch of green grass with his old, grey horse.

"Well, hello, Sir Cadogan," she said cheerfully.

It was sad to think that she would only ever receive a compliment from a "painted" man, but she didn't mind. She always comforted herself by saying that it was those guys' fault; not paying attention to her. Not that she was stunningly attractive, but Sybill knew that if she combed back her hair and took off her large, round spectacles, she'd look pretty good. However, it mattered to her that the man who likes her would like her for her personality, not her looks.

"And how are we this morning?" he asked, as he followed her up through different paintings, while she made her way up the spiralling staircase.

"I'm very well, thank you," she replied. She pulled a face. "Although...I am rather late."

"Nothing to fear, young lady!" he exclaimed. "You are Marilia's favourite student, after all, and I'm sure that she knew you were going to be late. The fact that she didn't forewarn you about this tardiness is probably because she cares about your welfare, more."

"Oh, you think so?" she said, while a smile tugged at her lips. "I certainly hope you're right, Sir Cadogan."

Sir Cadogan tipped his metal helmet to her. "Shun that hideous shadow of worry away from your sweet, little face, my dear!" he chided her. "That look doesn't suit you at all!"

Sybill smiled even more widely. The short, stubby knight accompanied her all the way up the staircase to the trapdoor which led into the Divination classroom. As she stepped up beneath it, the trapdoor opened and a silvery rope-ladder dropped down towards her. With a small wave of farewell, Sybill mounted the ladder and climbed up to the classroom. The last she heard from the knight was a shout of "Good luck!", and then several metallic footsteps walking off.

To her dismay, she found that the class had already started. Professor Marilia was already instructing the students on how to read the figures in their cups. Sybill sighed; she knew she shouldn't have talked to Sir Cadogan along the way; he always slowed her down.

"Um...Professor?" she squeaked. "I'm sure you Saw this coming, but...I'm late, and I'm sorry."

The elderly professor with her frizzy gray hair and her wrinkly smile, looked up. Sybill missed the look of dismay on the old woman's face, which quickly turned into false cheeriness as she held out her skinny arms which were covered to the elbows with bangles and bracelets. "Sybill, my dear, I'm so glad you could make it!" she exclaimed. "Do come in! We're doing tea leaves this morning. Quickly grab yourself a cup so I can pour you some tea. You're lucky we still haven't started deciphering the symbols!"

Sighing in relief, Sybill hurried forward and grabbed a tea cup off the shelf, and hurried to the professor's desk, where she got her fill of tea. Carrying the cup carefully towards an empty table, she plopped down on an arm chair, and quickly drained her tea, while trying to ignore its coldness and bitterness.

"Have you all swapped cups with your partners?" the professor was calling out into the class.

It was at such moments that Sybill felt the weight of loneliness pressing down on her. Nobody wanted to be partners with her. In each and every class, whether it was Divination or something else, she'd always be sitting alone at her desk, working all by herself. When partnership was required in a lesson, everyone would automatically move away from her, until some one was forced by the professor to team up with her, or the professor would carry on the role, him or herself.

Sadly, she picked up her upturned cup and looked down into it. The first thing she saw was something which looked relatively like a glass. She pulled her book to her and opened it. She traced down the objects concerned with cup-reading, until she found hers.

"A glass, also seen as an empty glass, signals a life of solitude and loneliness."

Trying to fight back bitter tears, Sybill searched her cup for another symbol. 'I don't need them; I don't need anybody," she thought. She tipped her cup to one side, and squinted at an indistinct object, trying to figure out what it was. 'Hmmm...I wonder what this is. Should I ask the professor?'

"It looks like a heart to me."

Sybill jumped and dropped her cup when that voice spoke from behind her, and it shattered to several pieces. She felt her cheeks warming up in embarrassment, and she started to gather the pieces together, while trying to avoid looking at the other students, who were starting to snicker.

She only did look up when the boy who had caused the ruckus settled on the chair next to her and reached out to help her. "I'm so sorry," he said earnestly. "I shouldn't have surprised you like that."

"N-no," she stammered, feeling herself blush even more. The boy who had sat down next to her Gilbert Verblaski; the Slytherin sixth-year the girls giggled about in the bathrooms. "Um...I already Saw you coming, so it's partly my fault, not heeding my vision..."

Gilbert smiled at her. "Of course," he said, but there was a patronising tone in his voice which told her that he didn't believe her. "Well, I still insist that I should help you."

"Th-thank you," she murmured. She realised that she was gaping openly at him, so she lowered her gaze. "That's very kind of you."

"Is anything the matter?" Professor Marilia had swept over to their table, and was looking down her beak-like nose at the shattered remains of one of her favourite, rose-patterned cups.

"Um...I'm sorry, Professor, I'm afraid I broke my cup..." Sybill said quietly, looking away.

The professor raised herself to full height. "Don't think I have not already foreseen that, my dear," she said in a dignified tone. "I already Saw that the cup would slip from your fingers, and would..."

"Actually, Professor," Gilbert cut in. "It was my fault she broke the cup. I startled her and she dropped it in her surprise."

The professor faltered for a moment, and then she cleared her throat, as several students put their heads together and started whispering around her. "The Inner Eye cannot be blamed for being faulty at times. It is not possible to See all that it is going around at once," she said, snappishly, before turning on her heels and gliding away from the table.

Once she was away, Gilbert stuffed his fist in his mouth to stop himself from laughing out-loud. "Did you see that? I really caught that old fraud unaware, didn't I?" he said, gleefully. He put on a scratchy voice, "The Inner Eye cannot be blundered for being faulty at times. I mean, for God's sake, it was obvious that she had no clue!"

Sybill didn't see what was so funny; her favourite professor had just made a mistake – that somehow made her feel a little insecure. She silently used her wand to gather up all the remaining pieces, and shoved them into the nearby waste basket.

Gilbert seemed to notice her silence. "Hey, I didn't mean anything by that, alright?" he said, gently. "Professor Marilia may be a fraud, but I really don't think you're like her. I truly believe that you can See the future."

Sybill smiled weakly. "I don't think I'm any better than her," she replied.

"You are," he assured her. He grinned, and held out his cup. "So, will you be willing to read my tea leaves, O Great One?"

She studied him for a moment, trying to figure out if he was being honest, or if he was just teasing her, but she couldn't find anything wrong with the whole picture. She took the cup. "Only if you promise to read mine, next," she said.

-

Sybill couldn't believe how her luck had turned out today. It had started out with her being late for Divination, but had soon progressed into her getting a date for the Hogsmeade trip next Sunday – which happened to be only two days away. But it wasn't any date, was it? She was actually going there with Gilbert Verblaski! She couldn't believe how this happened; why would Gilbert want to go out with her?

They had been sitting, reading each other's cups, when he had suddenly announced that he had found a clock-like figure in her cup, and went on to say that a clock signalled a meeting between two people in Hogsmeade, on Sunday. Sybill hadn't caught on at first, but when she remembered that there was no way a symbol in a cup could give away this much detail she realized what Gilbert was on to, and she just blushed and nodded.

She was rather indignant with her Inner Eye, though; how did it fail to notify her of such an important event? Dates, whether they were made with the likes of Gilbert or not, weren't a daily occurrence in her life. In fact, they never really happened. Choosing to ignore that faint warning bell in the back of her mind, she just assumed that she might've carelessly neglected what she might've already Seen.

Trying to maintain that obvious bounce in her step, and to lower the brightness of her smile by several notches, Sybill pushed open the door to the girls' bathroom on the second floor, and stepped in.

It was impossible not to notice the definite pause which had befallen all the girls in the bathroom. They all seemed to forget their past conversations, and were now only interested in watching her as she made her way to one sink. She casually dropped her bag to the tiled floor, took off her round glasses, turned the tap and leaned down to wash her face.

She was all too aware that several girls had hopped down from the sinks which had been serving as their seats, and had made their way towards her. So, when she looked up to fetch herself some paper towels, the presence of ten eager, yet ominous-looking, girls around her came as no surprise.

While dabbing at her face with a towel, she smiled graciously at them. "Anything I can do for you, girls?" she asked sweetly.

A Gryffindor with curly hair, who took Divination with her, stepped forward. "I saw you talking to Gilbert Verblaski today," she stated.

Sybill shrugged. "He was just pairing up with me...you know, for tea leaf reading and such," she told her.

Curly Hair nodded, like she didn't believe her. "So...nothing happened?" she asked casually.

Sybill crumpled up the towel and threw it into the bin. Then she picked up her bag and started for the door, the girls parting up to let her pass. She was glad that her back was to them, so they wouldn't see her huge grin. She reached for the door's handle, and chose that moment to make an "Oh!-I've-just-remembered!" noise.

She looked over her shoulder at the girls. "Now that you mention it, I recall him asking to meet me in Hogsmeade on Sunday," she told them. She smiled warmly. "I'm sure it's nothing, though – just a normal meeting between friends."

She lingered about long enough to etch the shocked expressions on the girls' faces into her memory, before quickly slipping out of the bathroom and hurrying off to her next class.

Sybill couldn't remember the last time she had felt this happy. She was so happy, she couldn't stop herself from smiling. This was like walking through a dream, only it was real – Sybill was certain of that; she had pinched herself to check. This would teach all the girls to stop taunting her about her lack of personal life; after all, a date with Gilbert Verblaski wasn't something which can be easily acquired.

She wasted no time wondering about the reason behind Gilbert's sudden attraction to her, even though he hadn't paid any attention to her in all her six years at Hogwarts. She didn't even pause to consider the possibility that all this could be a mere hoax; a cruel joke to give the school something to laugh about. No, Sybill's only thoughts revolved around how she could improve the way she looked, and what she and Gilbert would do once they were in Hogsmeade.

Reality crashed on her once she was rounding a corner which led into the corridor where the Charms' classroom was situated. Sybill took a step back when she saw a group of boys standing in front of the classroom, and in the middle, Gilbert was standing. She smiled when she saw him, and was on the prospect of debating how to walk past him, when she caught a whiff of what they were talking about.

"...and we were sitting there, at the table, discussing symbols..." Gilbert was saying.

Sybill nearly whooped with delight. 'He's talking to his friends about me!' she thought. 'He wouldn't do that unless he really liked me, would he?'

"...and she was just gawking at me like a complete idiot," he continued. "I swear, she was staring at me the entire time; it seemed as if her eyes were going to pop out any second. I had to struggle to stifle my laughter!"

As the group guffawed loudly, Sybill's smile faltered.

'This...this isn't right; I've probably misheard what he just said,' she tried to convince herself. 'Gilbert wouldn't say such mean things about me...he looked like he really was interested in me, back in Divination class. He wouldn't do that.'

She watched silently as Gilbert pushed a hand through his black hair and released an exaggerated sigh. "Putting up with that fraud during the next Hogsmeade trip is going to be exhausting!" he went on. "Imagine having to sweet-talk such a girl through the entire trip!"

Sybill felt hot tears stinging her eyes, and she strained to fight them back. She should've expected this; it was all too good to be true, anyway. She had been silly enough to believe that Gilbert would want anything to do with her. How couldn't she have Seen this coming? How could she have forgotten that Gilbert was one of those people who sneered at her in the hallways? Could she have been that desperate?

"Of course, it will be all worth it once I get my twenty Galleons," Gilbert was now saying. "All I have to do is put up with her for the entire Hogsmeade visit, and I would win the wager."

Sybill felt her cheeks flaming with humiliation. She was only a bet, then? A bet to win a stupid twenty Galleons? Was that all she was worth?

A new resolution flared up within her. She had been planning on walking up to Gilbert and screaming at him so all the boys would hear, but she was already fabricating a plan in her head. She was going to make him regret the mere thought of wanting to pull a prank on her.

Rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand and forcing a cheerful smile onto her face, she pulled her book bag over her shoulder and made her way down the corridor. Gilbert stopped talking when he saw her, and he flashed her a huge smile. Sybill pretended to look shy, and she gave him a small wave before hurrying inside the classroom, and taking her normal seat at the back.

'Live in the satisfaction of thinking that your plan is working, dear Gilbert,' she thought to herself, as she saw him walking into the room, and to the empty seat next to her. She smiled sweetly at him. 'Because before you know it, it will be backfiring on you.'

-

Sunday morning arrived to find Sybill Trelawney sitting before the mirror in the girls' dormitory, pulling a comb through her now-silky hair. It had been no easy feat, especially since she rarely ever bothered to comb her hair and it was all tangled up and had several knots in it. After much consideration, she had decided to take off her glasses for the day...and had applied a bit of lipstick as an afterthought.

She thought she looked rather nice, and judging by the looks of contempt the other girls were giving her, she knew she was right. If she was going to make Gilbert's plan backfire, she might as well do it with a bit of style. Anyway, she had already predicted that her plan was going to be a success.

Towards 11 o'clock, Sybill sprayed some perfume around her figure, and left the dormitory. The looks of surprise, mingled with appreciation, she earned in the Common Room gratified her, and she was able to walk confidently out to the hall behind the portrait hole.

As she made her way down to the Entrance Hall, Sybill went over her plan in her head, trying to find room for improvement. She was going to make sure no-one would ever dare to even think of fooling around with her. She was so deep in thought, added to that was her short-sightedness, she almost bumped into several people in the process...but seeing as she looked like nothing like her old self, people just smiled and nodded at her before they walked off on their own way. Whereas, she knew, if they had recognized her, they would have snapped at her. It was remarkable, she thought, how much appearances changed people.

She found Gilbert in the Entrance Hall, standing by the great oak doors. Fighting the temptation to pull out her wand and zap him with a Bat-Bogey Hex (since she already Saw the trouble and chaos which would result if she did hex him), she walked over to him and tapped him on shoulder. He looked around, and puzzled over her for a moment, before he finally smiled at her.

"Sybill!" he exclaimed. "You look...different! I almost didn't recognize you."

"Well..." she said, smiling modestly.

"No, I mean it; you look really nice! ...nicer than you were before, something I didn't think was possible," he told her.

Sybill had to strain to stop her eyes rolling. "Why, thank you," she replied. "Shall we proceed, then?"

He nodded and they both walked over to where the caretaker was checking students off his list.

Sybill enjoyed the stunned looks everyone in the Hall was giving her, and was pleased when she caught Gilbert stealing a few quick glances in her direction. Heck, if she'd known looking good earned her a bit of respect, she would've made more of an effort every morning.

"You know, Gilbert, I was wondering," she spoke up, once they were outside the castle walls. "You've seen me around for the better part of six years, and yet, it took you so long to ask me out. I was curious to know why."

It seemed as if Gilbert was well-prepared, for the answer he gave her sounded like something he was reciting out of a manuscript. "Actually, Sybill, I've been really attracted to you for quite a while now," he said softly. "It was only a matter of being able to pluck up enough courage to talk to you."

They were now crossing the gates which led into Hogsmeade. Sybill had never fully appreciated the beauty of this village, which with its cosy-looking cottages, pretty colours and friendly people, looked like something taken out of a story book. She took a deep breath out of the fresh, spring air and smiled at Gilbert, who almost immediately returned the smile.

"I'm glad you managed to find that courage, because we're finally here now," she said, beaming at him.

He nodded. "Indeed," he said. He casually placed an arm around her shoulders and looked around. "So...is there anything in particular you would like to do, or...?"

She shook her head. "No, let's just walk around, how about it?" she suggested.

"Fine by me," he agreed.

He started off down the cobbled street, and Sybill trudged along next to him. She could see that they were turning eyes, and she rather enjoyed the feeling...even though she knew it was only going to last for today.

"So...how are the studies for your finals going?" he suddenly asked – a weak stab at trying to make conversation.

Sybill gave a nonchalant shrug. "They're alright," she told him. "You know me, being a Ravenclaw; I've already gone over my books at least once. I'm not worried, though; I already Saw that I'm going to pass all my exams."

"Right, of course you did," he replied, smiling. "Do you See me passing, too?"

Let the games begin.

"Hmmm."

Sybill stopped in the middle of the street, and folded her arms across her chest. Gilbert side-tracked, and walked back to her. She closed her eyes, and stared "umm-ing" quietly at first, but it was becoming gradually louder. He looked nervously at her, and at the curious looks they were attracting from passer-bys.

He tugged nervously at her sleeve. "Er...Sybill?" he said uncertainly, and her eyes flew open. He swallowed. "It's okay; you don't have to make that prediction for me...now. You can tell me some other time."

"Are you sure?" she persisted. "It really won't take a minute."

"Yes, I'm sure; I don't want to wear you out at the beginning of our date," he said firmly. He grabbed her hand and pulled her along. "Do you want to come to Honeydukes? I hear they're selling a new type of fudge."

"Sure."

Smirking inwardly, Sybill allowed Gilbert to lead her to the candy store. She knew she had embarrassed him back there, and that's why he was trying to get her off the street so soon after their "walk" had started. It all seemed to be going well with the "Humiliate Gilbert" plan, or so she preferred to call it. She was going to continue acting strangely all through-out the date, and hopefully, she'd be able to scare him off long before the evening was even close to over.

The bell tinkled above their heads as they pushed through the door of the crowded store. Gilbert pushed his way to the front, while dragging her behind him. They stopped at the counter, and he was in the process of signalling for the shop keeper's attention, when she let out a soft scream.

Activity paused in the shop, as everyone turned to look at the source of the commotion, and Gilbert stared, bewildered, at her.

"S-Sybill, what's wrong?" he croaked.

Sybill raised a shaky finger at the shop keeper, who looked back, incredulously, at her.

"Yes?" she said impatiently – who was this girl? Coming in and holding up her business?

Sybill clutched at Gilbert's arm, and hid behind him, while constantly peering at the shop keeper over his shoulder. "I Saw it in the stars yesterday," she whispered audibly. "They told me that a red-headed woman would try to poison me today, and therefore I should avoid any interactions with any red-heads."

The red-headed shop keeper rolled her eyes. "Oh, for the love of God!" she said irritably. "Sweetie, why the hell would I want to poison you? I've never even seen you before!"

Sybill gripped Gilbert's arm even more tightly. "That's what the stars told me the woman would say!" she whimpered. "They told me she'd try and deny it!"

The shop keeper sighed in exasperation. The other kids in the store were starting to snicker, and were whispering behind their hands. Sybill knew they were probably making fun of her, but she didn't care. So what was new? They always made fun of her. However, she took pleasure in the fact that she wasn't the only one being made fun of this time.

Gilbert was looking very embarrassed, and his cheeks were tinged with pink. "Now, look here, Sybill..." he said, trying to sound dignified, but failing miserably. "This kind lady wouldn't try to poison you. She's been selling sweets for quite a while now, and hasn't poisoned anyone since."

Sybill shook her head vigorously. "No!" she cried desperately. "She will try to poison you as well, Gilbert! She will slip the poison in that new fudge you wanted to try! We have to leave immediately!"

"Please, do," the woman snapped. "And I would be extremely grateful if I never see either of you again in my shop."

"R-right, we'll be leaving now," Gilbert muttered, avoiding the eyes of anyone in Honeydukes. He turned and pushed Sybill rather roughly in front of him. "Sorry about the trouble."

The moment they were outside and the door had shut behind them, he rounded on her, and Sybill was pleased to see the unmistakable fury visible in every feature of his face. His mouth was working furiously, but still no sound came out, and she knew he was probably trying to think of a way to tell her off without scaring her away. Of course, she decided to use his silence to her credit.

She shook her head dramatically. "Aren't you glad I remember my predictions?" she asked. "If we'd stayed in there, that evil hag would've been bound to poison us at any minute!"

Gilbert's expression clearly said that he would've rather gotten poisoned, than spend the rest of the evening with her, and it seemed like he was about to yell at her, when he just sighed and said, "Come on. Let's go some place else."

Smiling, Sybill nodded and trailed after him. It seemed like Gilbert wasn't an easy nut to crack, but that was absolutely OK with her – it would just make things more interesting. She had already predicted their next destination, so when the Three Broomsticks leapt into view, it came as no surprise to her. She'd thought that Gilbert would try to keep her away from crowded places after the fiasco in Honeydukes, but he obviously still had to learn his lesson.

They stepped inside into the warm and loud atmosphere of the pub, and found a table for two at the back. As they made their way to the table, they passed the same group of boys Gilbert had been hanging out with outside the Charms' classroom, and they all snickered and nudged each other when they saw them.

Sybill sighed. Boys...

Gilbert pulled out a chair for her and she sat down. He looked wearily at her. "Anyone wanting to poison you here?" he asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Sybill looked around thoughtfully. "No, not really," she replied. "Although, you might want to bring some napkins back with you."

He frowned. "Napkins?"

Sybill nodded. Gilbert just rolled his eyes and stalked off to get them some drinks, clearly ignoring the fact that he hadn't asked her about the drink she preferred. That was alright, though, because those drinks were going somewhere, but it certainly wasn't their bellies.

The door to the pub opened and she saw three of the kids who had been at Honeydukes earlier. Inevitably, they saw her, as well. She thought she saw them snickering, before they ran off to join a group of friends, probably to tell them about the loony girl who had been in the company of Gilbert Verblaski.

Sybill found that she didn't mind – it seemed that the only people who knew who she was were Gilbert's friends, and that consequently meant that it was Gilbert who was going to be a laughing-stock at the end of the day, and not her, because she would've returned to being the old Sybill.

Gilbert returned a few moments later, clutching two tankards of Butterbeer.

'It's a shame, really, having those Butterbeers go to waste,' she thought.

Using her wand she had hidden in the sleeve of her robes, she murmured, "Mobiliarbus!", and moved an empty chair into his way. He was taken by surprise. Barely having time to react, he stumbled over the chair, and spilling all the Butterbeer down his front, he crashed down to the floor of the pub.

Sybill proved to have caught the role of a concerned date dead-on. As everyone in the Three Broomsticks stood up to have a better look, she hurried towards Gilbert and knelt down next to him.

She prodded him gently. "Oh dear," she said, sounding anxious. "Gilbert, are you alright?"

Gilbert slowly raised himself into a sitting position. She could tell he was angry; after all, wasn't shaking a sign of suppressed anger? Still, she had to curb that snort of laughter when she saw how drenched he was in Butterbeer. Everyone else was giggling, though.

"Oh, my...Gilbert, did you bring those napkins, then?" she asked, even though she knew perfectly well that she could clear up the whole mess with a simple "Scrougify!".

It seemed that Gilbert was exercising a lot of self-control to stop himself from strangling her at that moment. "No, I didn't," he said quietly.

He slowly got up to his feet, and he pulled her up with him. He gripped her arm rather painfully, and dragged her to the back of the pub. He turned her around so she would face him, and at that moment, when she saw the fury flashing in his eyes, Sybill felt rather scared. She wrenched her arm out of his grip and took a few steps away from him.

"W-we should do something about that stain," she said conversationally.

"You did that on purpose, didn't you?" he hissed. "You pushed that chair in my way so that your stupid prediction would come true, didn't you?"

Sybill was about to say "Yes", but she caught herself, and looked indignantly at him. "I beg your pardon?" she shot back. "Why would I do something like that? I Saw that you would be spilling Butterbeer over yourself, and that's why I told you to bring the napkins. I know my predictions are always true, and I don't need to resort to extreme measures to affirm their reliability."

"Oh, really?" he seethed. "So, a chair moving out of its own accord was a mere coincidence, then?"

Sybill glared at him. "Well, it's obvious that we're not suited to be together, if you already think I'm a liar," she said haughtily. "I'm leaving."

She brushed past him and headed for the door. People parted to make way for her, and she felt pleased. She believed she knew what Gilbert's thoughts were at the exact moment: he had let his twenty Galleons walk away from him. She secretly wished he would come after her – there was still one more place she wanted to take him to.

When she stepped out of the pub, she felt that he wouldn't come now, but he proved her wrong – which was a bit discomfiting for her, as her Inner Eye had failed her again. She was just starting towards Hogwarts when she heard hurried footsteps behind her. She looked around.

"Sybill, I'm so sorry," he apologized. His robes were clean now, and he had the most sincere expression on his face. "I was just a bit irritated, and I took out my anger on you. I'm really sorry."

Sybill did the act of studying him thoughtfully, and then she heaved a sigh and ran her fingers idly through her hair. "Well, I guess I could give you another chance," she told him.

Gilbert beamed at her. "You're an absolute angel," he said.

Sybill returned the smile. 'And you're an absolute hypocrite, but I'm not telling you that, am I?' she thought. She linked arms with him. "Well, shall we go, then?"

"Where do you want to go?"

"Hmm...I was thinking the Hog's Head."

Gilbert stopped dead in his tracks. Sybill looked up and smiled sweetly at him.

"Is something wrong?" she asked.

He shifted awkwardly. "Uh...I was just thinking that the Hog's Head is such an odd choice for a nice girl like you," he blurted out.

Oh, give me a break. Sybill pouted slightly. "You don't like the Hog's Head?" she whined, and sighed. "Well, I guess we could go somewhere else, if that's what you want..."

Gilbert looked more than happy to go with that idea, but he relented as the prospect of loosing twenty Galleons loomed before him. "No, it's alright; we'll go to the Hog's Head," he mumbled, and she beamed at him. "Anything to please you."

She didn't say anything; it was all she could do to stop herself from giggling. So, she just latched onto his arm and led him towards the pub which the majority of Hogwarts students preferred to stay away from. As for her, the Hog's Head was a safe haven; she went there because she knew she wouldn't run into anyone there, and would spend her day without being made fun of. Besides, the regulars at the pub were rather fond of her, and were always asking her to read their palms and such.

She looked up at Gilbert, and saw that he was looking rather paled, and she smirked; he didn't know half of what was going to happen to him.

When she gently pushed the door that led into the pub and stepped inside, she was able to feel everyone's eyes on her, and she beamed happily when she saw that there was quite a crowd here today. There was a faint rustle as a cloaked figure walked up to her and murmured something which distinctly sounded like a drink offer.

Sybill smiled. "Not today, David; I'm with company," she told him.

Suddenly, everyone was watching Gilbert, who had automatically taken a step backwards. She could see that he was quite nervous, and beads of sweat were starting to form on his forehead. She couldn't blame him; the aura in the pub was quite intimidating.

She sidled up to him, took his hand and pulled him forward. "Gentlemen...ladies," she added hastily when she noticed the two hags sitting at the back. "This is my date for the evening; Gilbert Verblaski."

There was an interested murmur amongst the small crowd, and the fellow named David quickly ushered them towards an empty table, which was soon occupied not only by the two of them, but by several other regulars, who were keen to learn about this new face. Those who couldn't cram themselves around the table chose to linger behind, breathing their alcoholic stench down Gilbert's neck, much to his discomfort.

One of the hags, who had chosen a spot right next to him, waved an impatient hand as a gesture for him to offer drinks. Sybill had to stifle a giggle – she loved this crowd, even though they were such freeloaders.

Looking rather disgruntled, Gilbert forced himself to smile, while feeling his money pouch in an attempt to calculate if he had enough money to treat this lot. "Drinks, anyone?" he asked politely.

A scuffle broke out as everyone started hissing out their orders, which even Sybill found intimidating – she hadn't seen them looking so...greedy before. She assumed it was because Gilbert had the pretty, rich-boy image around him. She watched silently as they started ordering the most outrageously expensive drinks, and as he started to pale gradually.

"Don't ye 'ave enough money on ye, prissy boy?" one guy with an eye-patch snarled at him, when Gilbert tried talking him out of his Gin and Tonic.

"Well, as a matter of fact..." he said, looking around helplessly at her.

Sybill thought she might as well help him; it would be nasty of her to take away his reputation as well as his money. She smiled pleadingly at the group. "Cut him some slack, you people," she said. "This is our first date. If you make him lose a ton of Galleons, I doubt he'll be willing to go out with me again!"

She laughed easily, and sneaked a look at him while she did. His expression clearly said that he wasn't going out with her again no matter what. That was fine with her, because after today, she didn't want to have anything to do with him, either. It was remarkable how she disliked him, even though they had been out together for barely two hours.

Her little gesture seemed to work, though, because everybody grunted in disgruntlement. Gilbert let out a sigh of relief, and yet the presence of all these strangers around him still kept him on the edge. They looked like the sort of people who would steal your money pouch right out of your pocket, dangle it right before your eyes, and still deny it was yours when you confronted them about it.

He edged closer to Sybill. "Erm...a little privacy, if you please?" he said in a small voice, but the looks the group gave him said that they wanted to do anything but give them privacy.

"Oh, let them be, Gilbert!" Sybill exclaimed. "I don't mind their presence, I really don't!"

She already Saw this coming, but it still stung. It was as if a video was being replayed in her head. She observed quietly as Gilbert bolted up to his feet, knocking his chair to the floor. She didn't flinch as he banged his fist against the table, and glared down at her.

"Of course you don't mind their presence!" he snapped. "Because you're a freak, just like them! Freaks belong with freaks! Don't think that by combing your hair and taking off your glasses and dressing properly like the rest of us, you can change the truth of who you are, because you can't. You always were, and always will be a freak. Heck, going out with you isn't even worth the twenty Galleons I betted!"

After this proclamation, there was a ringing silence in the Hog's Head. Everyone was now watching Sybill, waiting to see what her reply would be. Even the bar tender had stopped polishing his grimy glasses, in the suspense of the moment.

Sybill slowly stood up, and faced him. She fixed him with a glare, equal to his in anger.

"Don't think I didn't know what was going on, Gilbert," she said coolly. "I've known from the start that a jerk such as yourself wouldn't want to go out with someone like me based on pure affections. It turned out that I'm right, and this whole Hogsmeade deal is indeed a mere joke. An easy way to earn some money and a few laughs, wasn't that what you thought?"

Gilbert faltered a bit, but quickly regained his composure when some of the regulars started sniggering.

"You had it coming to you, Sybill," he shot back at her. "Every freak deserves whatever happens to them."

Sybill rolled her eyes. "Do you realise just how stupid and selfish that sounded?" she replied. "But, of course, I can't expect anything from a snob, can I? Especially when it happens to be a Slytherin snob; they're really the worst. No offence," she added, looking around at the people in the pub.

"None taken, love," one of the hags rasped.

Sybill looked back at him. "So, you see, Gilbert, I guess what I'm trying to say is, go ahead. I really don't care what you go and tell your little friends about me. I'm quite content with the knowledge of who the real freak is," she said.

It seemed to take Gilbert a few moments to comprehend what she had just told him, and Eye-Patch seemed to take that for his advantage. He easily scooped the boy up over his shoulder, pulled the door open and tossed him outside, despite Gilbert's many yells and struggles. He quickly slammed the door shut behind him, but not quickly enough to block out his final threat.

"You'll pay for this, freak!"

Sybill just waved a careless hand and accepted the drink David slipped in front of her. She took a sip and smiled at Eye-Patch.

"Jasper, I told you to stop taking people's money pouches when they're not looking!" she chided him, while he dangled up the stolen pouch before them, grinning toothily.

-

"So...it didn't go well, I gather?"

Sybill bunched up her messy hair and tossed it behind her back. She was sitting at the top of the staircase which led up to the Divination classroom. Obviously, she was too early, since the trapdoor resolutely remained closed despite her standing below it for a full five minutes. So she was reduced to sitting on the cold marble steps, with no one but Sir Cadogan to keep her company.

Sybill was happy, though. Things looked like they were back to normal.

"Well, they didn't go well for Gilbert, that's for sure," she replied, pushing her glasses up her nose. "I happen to have really enjoyed myself."

An amused expression crossed her features, and the stubby knight, who had squeezed himself into the portrait of six plump women doing their knitting, looked curiously down on her.

"Anything I should know?"

She grinned. "What exactly did you hear from those drunken monks, Sir Cadogan?" she asked him. She was, of course, referring to the occupants of the portrait neighbouring the knight's old, rusty frame.

Sir Cadogan scratched his chin. "Hmm...well, I did hear something about some one getting transfigured into a poodle," he admitted.

Sybill stared incredulously at him for a moment. "A poodle?" she repeated, and he nodded diligently. "A poodle, out of all things?"

The knight leaned forward interestedly. "So, it's true? Did you turn Gilbert into a poodle?" he asked.

She laughed. "Of course not! I didn't turn him into anything!" she replied. "Although, it would've been interesting to see what a poodle version of Gilbert would look like."

"Much better, I warrant you," the knight declared, and she giggled. "To sum it up, I shall say that I've heard enough things about your meeting to figure out that there will be no more of it in the future."

Sybill shrugged. "Frankly, I couldn't care less if there were no meetings with any other boy for the rest of my life," she said quietly. "If they fail to see how extraordinary my gift of Seeing the future really is, then I don't want anything to do with them."

"Good for you, darling," one of the plump women said, and Sybill smiled graciously at her. The same woman held up a bright pink sweater she's been knitting before the knight, who looked at it with an appalled expression. "I made this for you, brave sir! Do you like it?"

Just then, the trap door opened and the silvery ladder dropped down from it. Sybill gathered up her book bag, and waved at Sir Cadogan, who was now stuck in a wrestling match with the plump woman to stop her from forcing him into the sweater. As she stepped into the Divination classroom, and caught sight of Professor Marilia sitting behind her desk, looking into a crystal ball, she felt a warm feeling sweep over her. This was where she belonged.

An empty glass doesn't sound so bad, after all.

-

A/N: So? How was it? Was it long and excruciatingly boring? I surely hope not, because I really want to win this!! Please review!!

- S. N. B.