"C'mon...Just go with me."
"No I won't." Poppy's voice echoed shrilly.
"It wouldn't be so bad."
"Yes it would. You just assume I'm dying to go with you just because everyone else fancies you, you think you're doing me a favour. Well I can tell you something Potter; I'm not that type of girl and I will have a much better night without you making me look like an idiot."
"Poppy? What's happened?" Rose had joined her at their library table.
"Your cousin. I thought we were finally friends and now he just keeps asking me to the damn ball."
"So he and Fred are probably thinking up a plan to completely and utterly embarrass me."
"Maybe he wants to actually go to the ball with you."
"Don't be stupid Rose."
"Merlin Potter, throw me the quaffle." Poppy was irritated by James today. Not for the usual reasons but because he seemed genuinely upset she was still refusing to go to the ball with him. As if it wasn't all a big joke to him.
James looked down at the ball in his hands and his dimples showed as he smiled wryly. 37th time lucky, he thought to himself. Maybe he should give up. Right, he would ask one last time and then that was it. Over. Finito. No more Poppy Copper.
Oh Merlin that means he would have to go with one of those awful giggly girls that follow him around. She better say yes.
"Poppy, please go to the ball with me." He threw the ball and she caught it nimbly. She was an excellent keeper.
"No." She didn't even bother to give her reason anymore; he had asked so many times he knew them all off by heart. James took a breath. And then shook his head. He was named after THE James Potter who had never given up on his grandma, Lily Evans. He closed his eyes for a moment. Merlin, this better be worth it. Poppy was staring at him as if he were crazy.
"Poppy. Please honestly go with me to the ball because in all seriousness I want to go with you."
Before he had time to gage Poppy's reaction a blur of red flew towards him and hit him squarely on the face. The quidditch pitch seemed to spin.
"Oh my...I'm so so so sorry. I wasn't thinking and it just flew out my hands. OH!" Poppy squealed as James removed his hands from his face. He guessed he was bleeding. "Ok. Let's get you down to the ground and then we can go to the hospital wing. Merlin, maybe I've broken your nose or..."
"Copper. I don't need the hospital wing." They were on the ground now and Poppy was fussing around him.
"You're bleeding. Loads."
"It's just a nose bleed. I've had worse."
"But this was my fault." Poppy wailed. Typical Hufflepuff, thought James.
"Out of interest why did you throw the quaffle at me?" James was tenderly holding a tissue Poppy had thrust in his hand over his nose.
"I didn't mean to." She said reproachfully.
"So will you?"
"Oh you are impossible James Potter." Poppy said scathingly but she hadn't walked off yet and that was a good sign.
"So you do know my first name. I thought you had forgotten it." He joked but Poppy didn't crack a smile.
James tried to smile through the steady flow of blood and Poppy looked like she was about to burst into tears.
"I'm really sorry."
"Well least we know you have a good throw." His nose really was quite painful when he spoke. "Just go with me to the ball and we'll forget about it..."
He looked so hopeful and desperate and beautiful standing in the cool evening sun covered in blood. Poppy took in his light brown hair and huge hazel eyes that hid no cunning plan.
"That's blackmail you know." But the corners of her mouth tilted up slightly.
"But it worked?" It was said as a question not brimming fill with confidence like the normal James Potter style. She nodded once, blushed and ran towards the castle at full pelt. James Potter took a deep breath. This was only the beginning.
"Rose, Rose, ROSE!"
"Thanks Pops." Said Scorp sarcastically and Rose chuckled.
Poppy hurtled towards the Gryffindor table where Scorp and Rose were sitting together. Poppy sat down, grabbed the nearest bowl of food and dragged it towards her. Rose and Scorp, who had already eaten, waited.
"Where's Al?" Poppy asked breathless and still flushed pink.
Rose shrugged as Scorp said "Trying to get Lily to give him back the invisibility cloak." He reached over and stole a potato from Poppy's plate just as the savoury course disappeared. Rose frowned trying to understand.
"But if Lily has the cloak, how is he going..."
"Don't ask," Scorp laughed. "Anyway what's wrong Pops?"
Poppy swallowed. "I said yes."
There was a moments silence before Rose squealed so loudly people stared. "AAHH! I knew you would!"
"Wait, what?" Scorp interjected.
"What am I going to wear?"
"We will have to go shopping. I'll ask Dom, she knows about these things."
"You better help me get ready. Is this a huge mistake?"
"No this is perfect."
"CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON?" Scorp roared utterly perplexed.
"Swear you won't tell Al?"
"Sure," Scorp's brow furrowed. What was so secret?
"I'm going to the May ball with James." Poppy said all in one breathe.
"As in James...Potter? Al's brother, Rose's cousin?" Poppy nodded waiting anxiously for his verdict. "Cool." He said gruffly.
"It's going to be brilliant." Sighed Rose happily twirling her hair round her finger.
"Wait who are you going with?" Scorp turned on Rose. He sounded angry.
"Sean Thomas. He asked me last week."
"Oh." Scorp turned grumpily to Poppy's bowl of custard tart.
"Who are you going with, Scorp?" Poppy asked gently. Scorp flushed and looked up quickly.
"I dunno. Might ask Bell."
"Cassandra?" Scorp nodded and went back to Poppy's tart. The girls shared a look. What was eating Scorp?
"Do you mind not eating all my pudding?"
She looked beautiful. Not that this surprised him. No, more like reminded him that she was hundred times more brilliant than the air heads he wastes his time on. She smiled nervously as she fought through crowds to reach him. He took a deep breath. Don't go ruining it, he told himself.
"You look...amazing." James inwardly groaned. Why didn't he just say hello like a sane person would? "Hello." No, not after you've told her she looks nice. Now she's going think something's mentally wrong with you. But a smile lit up her face.
"Thank you. And you suit a tux rather well." She laughed as she said it and suddenly his nerves left him. Everything would be fine.