Status: In very, very, very slow progress


Getting To Know Each Other

“So, uh… you guys sound as if you're from America…somewhere round New Jersey…round…Belleville, or Newark?” Vanessa asked.

“Exactly, Belleville. Bob’s from Chicago, though.” Ray answered.

“I’m down there, a lot though, with these guys, so it’s become, like, a second home to me.” Bob explained.

“Interesting…I plan on making a pilgrimage to Belleville sometime…” Vanessa trailed off.

“We could take you! How’s the October half term holiday?!” Frank said excitedly. Vanessa looked very taken aback and replied coolly,

“Err…sorry, no. One, we’ve only just met, I know next to nothing about you and two, I’m busy October half term, my dad’s funeral’s on the Wednesday, I think she said they were thinking of having it.”

“Oh God, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean-” Frank began apologising profusely, but Vanessa smiled and said,

“No, no, its fine, I mean it. Sure, it only happened a week ago so I’m nowhere near over it but still, no apology necessary, trust me. Oh, and please, don’t apologise. I hate it when people start their condolences with ‘I’m sorry’.” At hearing how recently David Herbaceum’s death was, the five guys gasped and Gerard, who was sitting next to Vanessa, grabbed and squeezed her hand and said,

“I know how you feel. November ’04 Mikey and I lost our grandmother, whom we were very close to.” Vanessa, who had been looking down at their interlocked hands (Gerard’s gesture ordinarily would have been slapped away; Vanessa was a very conservative person.) looked up at Gerard and smiled.

“What?” he laughed.

“No-one ever uses the word ‘whom’ anymore, even though it is grammatically correct. I think more people should. I tend to trust people with a good knowledge of the English language and a large vocabulary.”

“So you’d trust You-Know-Who if his vocabulary was as big as the number of people he’s killed?!” Claire chipped in.

“Somehow I think that the fact my father was murdered by one of his followers may steer my answer towards ‘Hell no, now shut the fuck up about it!’” Vanessa said hotly. Claire was silent until she saw that she needed to make her way to Divination, her next class, when she said,

“Well, I need to make my way to my next class, the North Tower’s about fifteen minutes from here, so I’ll leave the two lovebirds alone.”

“What?!” Vanessa spluttered.

“You and Gerard’s hands….” Claire said as Vanessa and Gerard realised that his hand was still clutching hers.

“Oh, I’m so sorry I didn’t realise, it won’t happen again-” Gerard said extremely quickly, but was cut off by Vanessa smiling and saying soothingly,

“That’s fine.” And as she said it, she winked at Gerard in a way that said clearly to him, ‘I enjoyed it anyway’. Claire departed, and as she passed Vanessa she whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry.”

The six of them carried on their conversation, which moved to family. Frank’s parents were divorced, but he still got to see them equally. He was also an only child and his mother was a pureblood, though his mother embraced Muggle culture and history more the magic sometimes.

Ray however had grown up in a Portuguese and Porto Rican household with one older brother, and was a Muggleborn.

Mikey and Gerard were brothers, but they were also best friends, who had two loving parents and no other siblings. Their mother was a witch, their father a Muggle.

Bob was also an only child who was raised in Chicago by a single magical mum, who worked as a waitress in a Chicago equivalent of the Three Broomsticks.

Vanessa’s mum, Bertha Herbaceum had died of cancer the year before she had come to Hogwarts and that now her father, David Herbaceum, was also dead, she lived in the same house with her 20-year-old sister, (who was a Squib) Jenifer Herbaceum and Jenifer’s boyfriend of many years, Joseph Mancini, who had moved in a fortnight ago. Jenifer was her only sibling, but Joe, or Joey as she called him, was like an older brother to her. His family was Italian, but his strong Scottish accent made that hard to believe.

The conversation then went on to music, and it turned out that their music tastes were vastly similar. After Vanessa saying that nothing beats one of Alkaline Trio’s love/ hate songs, the conversation moved on to their love lives. The boys started teasing Frank about his ‘girlfriend’, some girl called… Jamia, that’s it.

It then was time too make their way towards the groundskeeper’s hut for Care Of Magical Creatures (COMC), and Vanessa then found out that Ray and Gerard were in fourth year and Frank, Mikey and Bob were in 3rd year, the same as her. As Gerard and Ray departed to Potions, the other four walked towards COMC. Frank whispered in Vanessa’s ear, “If I grab your hand, just go along with it.”

“Okay then. But only because it’s you!”

“What happened to ‘we’ve only just met’?”

“I trust you. And I know you a bit better now.” Vanessa smiled. But her smile faded when she saw Draco Malfoy, being cocky as usual. She grabbed Frank’s hand and gave him an ‘I’ll-explain-later’ look. Draco came over to them and did the usual hitting-on-Vanessa thing. Vanessa whispered in Frank’s ear,

“Put your arm round my waist. Don’t ask, just do it.” And he obliged, looking rather convincingly as though he’d done it of his own free will. Vanessa’s arm was round his waist, and Draco seemed to be noticing that fact, which was exactly what Vanessa had wanted.