Your heels echoed in the empty hallway, not a soul to hear.
Empty, empty, empty.
You chuckled. How entertaining it was, the human soul; bend and not break, bend and not break. Vocational longing. Voluntary suffering. You wiped the corner of your mouth with the back of your hand, a remainder of this evening’s activities currently drying out on your skin, which elicited yet another chuckle from your reddened lips. You couldn’t believe your cheeks still had the audacity to blush.
It was truly riveting, the human body. You had always been fascinated with its intricacies: the temporary shock of bumping your funny bone against a textured wall; burnt tongue followed by a second attempt at sipping scalding hot tea – only to obtain the same results; softly tracing your lover’s back with your fingernails, pulling shiver after shiver from their exposed skin.
But, of course, lover for you had never been singular. After all, momma did raise a people-pleaser, didn’t she? There’s a reason why the saying is “people” not “person.” One cry, one sigh, one moan, it just wasn’t enough. You needed to learn what every stranger sounded like at their most vulnerable, at their boiling temperature, right before melting under your skilled fingertips.
And you were fairly confident that no place in the world required your help more than Hogwarts. At least, not right now.
War, sweet war. How it brews slowly, bubbling quietly, before blowing up and destroying everything in its path. You couldn’t help but appreciate it as art, so delicate and deceiving at first, and failed to understand why everyone looked so distraught. It’s just power politics, babes. Nothing more.
You were all too familiar with the concept of power politics, and in your most humble opinion, you quite excelled at winning. The Hufflepuff boy you had left panting on a chair in the library not even five minutes ago would most definitely agree. However, you often found yourself more enticed by the concept of not displaying all of this power than using it to manipulate the ones around you. Again, people-pleaser. How may I be of service?
Still, just a week ago, a Gryffindor seventh-year had called you a “dirty whore” as you attempted to exit their common room quietly. This had prompted several seconds of white-hot silence, your anger simmering on low. Of course you knew what that meant, having been born and raised a mudblood. Absent father, single hardworking mother, too much time on your hands and many boring summer days spent wandering around central Edinburgh. Of fucking course you knew what he had meant. The rest of the common room had fallen silent, confusion spreading over the ones who hadn’t experienced a non-magical upbringing, dread filling the ones who had.
You vaguely remember letting out a soft laugh, choked with tears – not offended, sad tears. You were overflowing with rage. Rage because he had pushed you past your peaceful limit. Rage that now you’d have to use your power to avert the crisis.
“Oh, Ira.” You sighed somewhat theatrically, a resentful smile stapling itself onto your trembling lips. Was that his name, Ira? You couldn’t have cared less. “Resorting to name-calling, now? I thought Gryffindors were a little more self-righteous than that.”
A wave of giggles had broken out, washing over the previous uncomfortable silence. Your stomach filled with butterflies: almost nothing could ever get you soaring as high as making people laugh could. Ira, or whatever his name was, frowned in frustration.
“You’re one to talk.” He snickered, vitriolic hatred dripping from his words. “No allegiance to your precious Ravenclaw, or to anyone and anything, for that matter!”
You dragged your teeth over your lower lip. “Watch it, mate.”
Bad call. Ira let out a loud, dramatic laugh, and you refrained from flinching. “Mate? Mate! Don’t call me ‘mate’, you stupid slut. You’re prowling around the school, sucking off anyone with a pulse. I’m not your fucking mate.”
Bad, bad, terrible call. You had to find a way to get out of this without playing victim. If there was one thing you dreaded more than anything, was to know people saw you as weak.
“You’re right, Ira, my mistake.” You shifted your weight from one foot to the other, sticking your arms behind you and making a slow but clear beeline for the boy. The smile melted from his face, eyes growing wider.
You had stretched, putting several inches of bare stomach on display, causing an audible stir in the common room as all the men and women turned around to stare. You liked knowing they hated you so much they loved you. That is, when they weren’t blatantly in love with you.
“My very own mistake.” You were now mere inches away from him, and his breathing was erratic. Not that you were surprised, of course. He was a regular. “I just have so many people to cater to that sometimes I mix up their preferred terms of endearment. I know you like it when I use that one word, isn’t that right…?”
Ira was now visibly anxious. “Don’t.” He mouthed.
No backing out now. He had started it, you needed to put that fire out. You raised your voice slightly. “Isn’t that right, daddy?”
The entire common room erupted in laughter, and even his friends had joined in the commotion, unable to resist the banter. Victory, at last.
You smiled, baring your teeth, eliciting a shudder from him. Ira could not speak; there were no comebacks witty enough to fish him out of the hole he had thrown himself into.
You made your way to the door, the Fat Lady, an old acquaintance of yours, effortlessly allowing you to leave. One last thought crossed your mind just as you stepped out, and you knew all their eyes were still stuck to you, so you chose to deliver.
“By the way, Ira, I’m afraid I won’t be lending you my services anymore.” Silence again. Ira looked almost pitiful. “I don’t particularly enjoy the taste of battery acid.”
The lady in the portrait laughed boisterously, followed by all the muggle-born in the room who had caught your hint. You hadn’t had time to appreciate Ira’s reaction, as the portrait understood the cue and shut itself behind you.
The stairways were dead. It had been late at night, only the fifth through seventh-years awake to study for their exams. The Fat Lady whistled at you, bringing your attention back to her.
“The password change is tomorrow, but you get the privilege of learning it earlier. It’s ‘passionfruit.’”
You chuckled, the memory of chilly summer evenings and passionfruit tea washing over. You almost missed home, your bedroom, your mom, silly romance books that you could not fit in your luggage and had needed to leave behind. “You use muggle words now?”
The lady in the portrait had shrugged amicably. “It’s fun to keep them on their toes.”
You smiled, nodding. “Good night. See you tomorrow, I believe.” And with that, the Fat Lady turned around and left, presumably for bed.
You had agreed with her, more than anything.
It’s very fun to keep them on their toes.