Beta-read by the amazing Saval (dream_BIG) at hpff. :D
Chapter One: I Had Better Be Dreaming
"You're still failing Defence Against the Dark Arts, Miss Wood." I practically pouted at Professor Lupin, who was actually really hot, but tried to ignore that fact as he glared back with a look that clearly said, There's nothing I can do.
This is impossible. I've been working my butt off for the past three months just to bring up my grade. I can't still be failing. Plus, I've spent my seven years at Hogwarts perfecting the puppy dog eyes that I'm aiming at Lupin. How is it not working?
Lupin shifted uneasily, but stood his ground. His eyes grew rather impatient as he realized what I was doing. Game's up. I sighed.
"What's my grade?" I asked dejectedly, my voice getting slightly caught in my throat.
"Same as ever." Troll. I had the brains of a troll in this stupid, stupid subject.
I don't remember how I passed my O.W.L. at all.
I cleared my throat. "What should I do? Drop the subject?" Professor Lupin shook his and smiled, sending butterflies through my stomach. But it was nothing compared to a certain boy, who happened to be walking up to Professor Lupin right now and –
Okay, what is Albus Potter doing here?
"You wanted to see me, Teddy?" he asked sort-of rudely, owing to the fact that Lupin and I were talking, but this is probably the closest I've been to him. Ever.
Yeah, that's an exaggeration. He's my twin brother's best friend, and I hang out with their group from time to time. It's just that I never really talk to him, because I either get really tongue-tied or say stupid things around him. He probably thinks I'm a mouse or something, because I usually glue my mouth shut.
But still. He's hot.
And I'm pathetic.
And why, you ask, am I in love with a bloke who I barely know? It's not because his father is the saviour of the wizarding world, or that he's on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, or because he's fit – though that certainly helps, I'm not going to lie – no, it's because he's sweet. His best friend is Rose Weasley, who also happens to be my best friend. He's protective, listens to her, helps her out … he just never notices who her friends are.
Okay, so he knows who I am. Big deal.
So, contributing to my pathetic love for Al Potter, I let him interrupt this conversation - this highly embarrassing chat that he probably overheard. He now knows I'm failing this subject.
Oh well, at least he doesn't know I have a "T", right?
This whole "let's look on the bright side" thing doesn't work to well with someone like me, does it? No, it just really pisses people off.
"This is your new tutor, Miss Wood," Lupin said brightly, as though he thought this was the greatest idea he'd ever had. Albus Potter turned to me and for the first time, acknowledged my existence by giving me a small smile. My knees shook a little.
How does he do that?
It seemed that Lupin had no idea of this world-altering event, because he kept going. "I'm sure the top student of this class can help you bring up that 'T' in no time!" he said cheerfully. I blushed furiously, glaring at Lupin defiantly.
That's right, Lupin. Just keep on embarrassing me in front of the love of my life. Go ahead. At least Al had the tact to hold back a snigger.
He's perfect, isn't he?
"You two can meet here, alright?" he added before sweeping from the room, leaving the two of us alone. Alone.
Is he trying to kill me?
This is a dream, it has to be. There's no way in reality that I could be this close to Albus Potter and not do something highly embarrassing, like throw up on his shoes. Or any part of him, really.
Yep, when I open my eyes, I will be relaxing in a warm, comfy bed in my dormitory, cursing the alarm clock. I'll be in that sleepy state, brushing my teeth and saying 'good morning' to Rose instead of discussing my troll-like brains with the love of my life.
I should pinch myself!
… never mind. Didn't work.
"So what time is good for you?" Al asked politely, looking at me curiously as I winced in pain. The colour rose back into my face, and I glanced down to my shoes.
"After classes, I suppose," I mumbled, shoving my hands in the pockets of my robes. He paused before breaking into a huge smile that fully reached his eyes.
"Do you really have a 'T' in this class?" he asked earnestly. "Or are you faking it?"
My head shot up and I scowled at his beaming face, shining eyes, messy hair and all.
"What do you mean, 'faking it'?" I snapped at him, a little more harshly then intended. "Why would anyone want a bloody 'T' this late in the year? In Defence Against the Dark Arts? That's a mandatory class for anyone who wants to become a Healer! I don't want a sodding 'T'!" Al's eyes widened and he stepped back, probably fearing his life at this point.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. Why am I hating on the love of my life?
It's because he's being a git, that's why – and I have absolutely no tolerance for them. Even if he does have really nice eyes. Honestly, it was a natural reaction. I didn't mean to explode at him, but he deserved it.
He should snog me. Just to shut me up.
Except my anger melted as he laughed nervously, holding his hands up in defence. "I didn't mean it like that," he said sincerely. "It's really hard to get a 'T' in Teddy's class, because he hates failing people." I let out a sigh and swung my bag over my shoulder, not glancing back as my face burned in humiliation.
"Wait, Sophia! I didn't mean it!" he called again, but I didn't stop, or turn back. The last thing I wanted Albus Potter to know was that I was failing this class, let alone tutor me in the subject.
Oh, and we had gotten off to a lovely start, too! He'll totally fall in love with me now.
At least he doesn't think I'm a mouse anymore, right? I mean, I actually uttered a few coherent sentences around him! That has to count for something.
…I really wish this was a dream.
"Rose," I groaned to her, my nose practically touching the parchment in frustration. "I don't care about national Quidditch tryouts. I don't care if the Holyhead Harpies are going to win this year, I just want to pass – are you even listening to me?" I had lifted my head from the parchment to see Rose's eyes glued to Quidditch Through the Ages.
"Rose?" I tried tentatively, but she seemed to have gone deaf. "ROSE!"
"I can't help you with Defence," she answered monotonously, her eyes blurring across the pages. I gaped at her.
"Of course you can! You're the best in our year!" I cried, getting down on my knees in desperation. Yes, I needed help that badly. "I'll do your homework."
"It's Quidditch! You stink at Quidditch!"
"I'll let you teach me Quidditch."
"In your dreams, Soph."
"I'll do your hair."
"Don't you remember the last time you tried that?"
"I'll bring you food."
"I'm not hungry."
"I'll get Scorpius to ask you out."
"Don't you dare."
"Come on Rose, I'll do anything! You're my only hope!"
She sighed and shut the book in resignation. "You're an idiot, Soph," she told me bluntly. "I dropped Defence, remember?" I scowled at her.
"I don't bloody care, Weasley," I growled in what I hoped to be my most threatening tone. "I need your help."
Rose surveyed me closely. "I thought Al was going to tutor you."
"Right, Rose. Because I'm going to ask help from the guy that I just screamed at for being a git." Honestly, where does she get these ideas?
"Well, I can't help you, can I?" We glared at each other. I don't like dream-Rose very much. When I wake up, I'll have to talk to her about this understanding-her-best-mate-is-in-love-with-her-cousin deal.
Merlin, help me.
Okay, I can do this. I can totally talk to Al without gurgling, or drooling, or something of that sort. I'll keep my bib in my dorm.
No, I don't actually have a bib. Goodness.
I clutched the parchment tightly, hoping my hands didn't sweat onto it, and approached the boy's dormitory tentatively, wishing very much that I could wake up. Right now.
I shouldn't be this apprehensive! I've been up here loads of times – and not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter. It's because of my twin, Luke. He's probably my best friend, even before Rose. I don't know how many times he's told me to shut up about Al, who happens to be best friends with him.
Everyone but me, huh? How does he not know I exist?
"…it's like she doesn't know I exist!"
Whoever said that totally just stole my thoughts.
I crouched down and pressed my ear against the door. I feel incredibly guilty to be eavesdropping, but who cares? Certainly not me.
"Scorp, you sound like a chick. We need to figure out the Bucket List, first. Are you sure we're the only ones who know about it?
"Pretty sure," answered my brother's voice, which was right near the door. I nearly snorted. Clearly, they're not very perceptive. They should check outside their freaking door.
… on second thought, they might kill me.
"Okay, I'll cast the charm," rang Al's sweet voice. I felt a swooping sensation as silence fell in the room. I hardly dared to breathe. What was happening?
"Mates, there's someone else who knows," said his nervous voice. My stomach dropped.
"Who?" Suddenly, the door opened and I fell forward at the feet of Luke, who was, to say the least, completely shocked.
"Soph! Were you here this entire time?" he whispered, helping me up. I looked down guiltily at my shoes as he shut the door in a hurry.
"Yeah, I didn't mean to overhear – would it kill you guys to wear shirts in here?"
Every. Single. Time. Not that I'm complaining, but I swear they're just showing off.
"It's nearly summer, Soph," Luke said dismissively with a wave of his hand. "Did you hear the words –" he lowered his voice considerably "– Bucket list?" I looked blankly at him.
"Yeah, so?" I said, very confused. Luke kicked over a pile of clothes; Scorpius Malfoy buried his face in his hands; Aiden Thomas threw a sock ball at the wall and Al hit his head against his headboard. I blanched at their reactions; what was going on?
"I needed help with my Defence homework," I admitted to the ground. From his bed, Al let out a groan.
"You've got to be kidding me."
Well, that was a positive response.
"Well, I'm sorry," I snarled, flaring up immediately. Oh, please let this be a dream. I was sure my face had turned an attractive shade of tomato red. "You are my tutor, though –"
"Not that," Scorpius cut across me. "You're under the spell. You have the complete everything on this Bucket List or you won't graduate."
I felt my face grow hot. "What's a Bucket List? What spell did you use?"
Al sat up, an expression of utter dismay upon his face. My stomach sank lower. "We heard it from McGonagall – they used to use this spell for students who were failing every subject and tried to trick their name onto the graduation list."
"As far as we know, you have to complete everything on the list and you'll be fine," Aiden piped up, throwing another sock at the wall. "A Bucket List is usually a list of things to do before you die, but this one's just for graduation." I turned back to Luke, who was reading the list in disgust.
"Guys, my sister can't do any of this stuff," he mumbled with narrowed eyes. I snatched the list from him.
"What makes you think that?" I said, slightly hurt. I scanned the List, which was written so untidily, I could barely make out the words.
The Bucket List
1. Swim in the Black Lake
2. Plan a party
3. Sneak into Hogsmeade at night
4. Drink Firewhiskey
5. Embarrass yourself (on purpose)
6. Do something you're scared of
7. Pull off a great prank
I forced the list back into Luke's hands, shaking with anger. "I can do any of this stuff," I said in a low voice, advancing slightly. "Just because I'm two minutes younger than you –"
"It still means I'm older!" he said defensively, stepping back a little.
Ha! I knew he'd be scared. I didn't even need my wand!
"Luke, she doesn't have a choice. McGonagall said there wasn't a counter spell, remember?" My eyes snapped over to him.
"No way. I can't risk not graduating! I'm already failing Defence!" I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I can't believe they would do something utterly stupid as this.
"Don't worry," Aiden flirted from the corner, ever the womanizer. "I can help you." In a second, Luke pounced on him, his Quidditch skills finally being put to good use.
And this, my friends, is why I don't have a boyfriend.
"Don't you dare touch my sister," he snarled, putting Aiden in a headlock. Aiden's eyes bugged out of their sockets; I blinked back the tears and began to laugh.
"Don't worry about Defence," Al advised me, smiling at me. I felt my stomach flip over as he walked towards me and said, "Can I see the homework?"
Without your shirt on? I don't think so. I'd probably faint from being too close.
"You're not mad at me?" I asked him curiously, but he only laughed.
"I'm kind of glad you're not mad at me," he admitted, ruffling his black hair a little. "I said some pretty stupid things."
Pinch me. Now.
"The teacher better be behind this," Luke shouted to Al, releasing Aiden and looking satisfied. Al shrugged nonchalantly as Luke forced a copy of the list back into my hands. "You can't tell anyone about this, not even Rose," he said seriously, looking to my eyes. I tugged my blonde hair in nervous habit, scanning the list again.
"Sneak out?" I asked uncomfortably, looking at Luke. If only Rose knew…
"Probably a good idea not to tell Weasley," Scorpius informed me, as if he knew exactly what I was thinking about. He leaned back on his bed wearily. "Can you leave, now? I'd like to get some shut-eye." I scowled.
"It's nine-thirty, you jerk."
He waved a hand. "Details."
My face fell as I read through the list carefully. Maybe Luke was right; I would never take these sorts of risks. Why oh why must I be so terrible at Defence Against the Dark Arts? Why did I choose to eavesdrop?
With shaking hands, I gave Albus my homework, mind full and reeling. It felt so long ago when I didn't have a stupid list compromising my future. Luke put a comforting arm around me.
"Welcome to the Next Generation Marauders!"
This had better be a dream.