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Romeo, Romeo

By Melissa Hall

Another Gryffindor Night

  Laughter echoed from the back of the room, rising above the murmurs and conversations that flowed through the air. In one corner, the crack of small fireworks, purchased on the Weasley twins’ not-so-secret black market, inspired awes of delight from gathered first years, followed quickly by demands for orders, all of which Lee Jordon jotted down with his new quill. Near the fireplace, Ron laughed victoriously and stuck out his hand to Dean Thomas. The other boy shook his head and dropped a few sickles into the outstretched hand. Refusing to accept defeat, even when years of experience attested to Ron’s unnatural skill at wizards’ chess, Dean challenged the teen to yet another rematch. Hermione, seated comfortably in her usual chair, rolled her eyes and returned to her book.

  In all, it was a normal night in the Gryffindor common room, down to the chorus of ‘hellos’ as Harry stepped through the portrait hole. There was a slight difference, an excitement in the air that was almost tangible, though Harry couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Walking through the cliques and huddles to his friends, Harry realized that most of the conversations centered on a single topic. Hermione nodded up at him when he reached his goal, and Ron greeted him cheerfully. Dean was completely focused on the chessboard, contemplating his next move, though Harry and the rest of Gryffindor knew it would be no use, so the brunet didn’t hold it against him when Dean didn’t so much as acknowledge his presence.

  Curious, Harry opened his mouth to ask Hermione, the only person in his circle of friends likely to have been paying enough attention to school to know, about the rumors. The question hadn’t reached his lips when Seamus came bounding through the room, slapping Harry on the shoulder, perhaps a bit harder than intended in his excitement. “Heard the news, Harry?” he asked in his usual bubbly tone, his accent adding a soft lilt to the words that seemed so out of place with the rest of the Irish boy. Explosions and smoke were more his style after all. “A play! The first ever at Hogwarts!”

  Harry laughed. Seamus’ excitement was always contagious. “So I hear,” he confirmed.

  Hermione, though rarely interested in a conversation involving extracurricular activities, closed her book and set it aside, shocking Ron enough to spoil his game plan and his knight was quickly claimed by a gleeful Dean. Hermione never put her book down for idle chit-chat. “Not quite the first ever,” she corrected and Seamus shrugged. “But close enough. What’s more,” she positively gushed, “I hear it’s going to be ‘Romeo and Juliet’.” She sighed deeply. “It’s horribly romantic.”

  Seamus nodded enthusiastically. “I’m trying out!” he exclaimed and pantomimed a sword fight. “I bite my thumb at you, sir!” he said and did so before collapsing into a fit of giggles.

  Harry stared at him blankly. “How do you know about ‘Romeo and Juliet’?” he questioned. Hermione looked expectantly at the wizard, obviously curious as well.

  Seamus straightened himself to his full height, an unimpressive five foot one, and said seriously, “I am a connoisseur of all things tragically romantic!”

  “He lost a bet to Lavender,” Dean put in as he pushed his queen cautiously forward, keeping his finger on it as he examined the board. “He had to read it and act a scene, one-manned and from memory, to satisfy the terms.”

  “Blabbermouth,” Seamus muttered as Harry and Hermione stifled their laughs.

  “I don’t get it,” Ron said, moving his king with barely a glance at the board. “Checkmate,” he tossed off and Dean groaned before handing over the last of his money. “Who’re Roy and Julie?”

  “Honestly, Ron,” Hermione said, exasperation seeping into her voice. “You have no sense of culture, do you? ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is the most tragic and romantic play in the history of the world.” She launched into a detailed description of the plot, not seeming to notice that Ron’s eyes glazed over.

  “So, Harry,” Seamus said, in the tone that usually meant he was asking for something. It was the same tone that the boy had used when he asked to borrow Harry’s comb for an experiment and had returned it as a smoking pile of burnt plastic with, for some inexplicable reason, a handful of bright yellow feathers sticking out at odd angles. He’d sworn to replace it, but Harry’s unruly hair was a testament to its continued absence. “Will you be joining us for the auditions?”

  It was on the tip of his tongue to say no. He actually got the ‘n’ sound out of his mouth, when he made the mistake of looking at the Irish boy. Seamus was a master of silent begging, and his famed ‘puppy dog’ look had never failed, even against the great Professor Snape. Harry was, of course, no such master of control and crumbled easily in the face of Seamus’ wide-eyed look of hope. “Sure,” he sighed, though he knew his talents did not extend to the realm of theater.

  Colin Creevey, never far from Harry on a good day, chose that moment to leap forward, snapping yet another picture of the Golden Boy for his already vast collection. “Incredible, Harry!” he exclaimed as Harry, dazed from the flash, blinked repeatedly and rubbed at his eyes. “You can do everything, huh?”

  It never failed to amaze Harry that, in the four years since his arrival, Colin still had not lost his hero-worship. Rumors abounded that the boy, still small and big-eyed, had a shrine set up for the boy-who-lived somewhere on the grounds. Harry gave his usual dry response, “Hello, Colin,” before turning and trying to make his way to the dorm, a task made difficult by the bright white spots that floated across his vision.

  “Hello, Harry!” was the only warning he got before another flash blinded him and Dennis Creevey ran off to join his brother, probably for another debate on the color of Harry’s boxers. According to Fred and George, the two boys had a running poll, with most participants voting on blue, though Harry was of the belief that it was only another of the twins’ jokes.

He couldn’t see anything of the crowded common room, so Harry stuck out his hands on either side, reaching for Seamus. Blindness worked against him and he grabbed something else, softer that his friend’s shoulder for certain, even if it was at the same height. A shriek rang through his ears and someone slapped him, hard, across the cheek. Laughter rose up around him and he sighed, even as he felt a hand that he prayed belonged to Seamus grab his and lead him through the room.

  Taken together- flashing eyes, ringing ears, stinging cheek and the beginnings of one hell of a migraine- Harry didn’t have to be Trelawney to spot a bad omen when it hit him over the head.

“Lavender Brown!” he heard Seamus laughing near him, and tripped over the first step, before slowly making his way up. “I didn’t know you had it in you!” The Irish boy laughed again as the noise from the common room faded and Harry could hear his bedroom door open. His vision was returning to normal and the first thing he saw was his friend’s laughing face. “Serves her right for making that stupid bet! I knew it would come back to get her,” Seamus said smugly and he slapped Harry on the back again, this time in gratitude.

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