It started off as something simple – a snippy response to a sexist list he found. It was no big deal. He thought anger would be the biggest reaction, and practically destroy any relationship he could have ever had with a witch. Oh, was he wrong. So, very wrong.
The List. More or less the Hogwarts version of the Bible, or the Torah. Written by the most eligible bachelor in the Wizarding World, the Conqueror of Voldemort, the Boy-Who-Lived-So-Bloody-Many-Times-That-Sometimes- You-Wonder-If-He-Just-Might-Be-Immortal, Harry James Potter. It was a simple list. Some call it sexist; others call it stupid; but the majority of the Hogwarts population called it a necessity for the continuation of human life. Well, it was a bit of juicy gossip, anyway.
It was a list of the top ten hottest girls currently in Hogwarts.
‘Hottest’ wasn’t really the right word. Harry was an old-fashioned, noble fellow; he preferred to look at a girl’s inner beauty, before putting a face with a rank.
Though the outside attributes do have a bit more merit.
It all started, as it usually does, with the girls, and their version of the list. Their list was, obviously, about the hottest guys in Hogwarts. Harry, being a fifth year, won the last two years, and was a shoo-in for his last two years at the school. Hell, there was even a talk about making him the first ever alumnus. In the past 400 years of The List’s existence, that was a tremendous honour.
Of course, Harry knew none of this. The only reason he found out was when he overheard Lavender and Parvati’s conversation. After a bit more ribbing, and more giggling than anyone could handle, he was given as much information.
So as he was in the girls’ dormitories, staring at the decorated, orderly parchment magically glued to the wall, he figured that it was time he replied to this.
When Hermione walked out of her room wearing nothing but a long Quidditch jersey and carrying a towel, tiredly rubbing her eyes and walking right past Harry, he felt inspired to start right away. It took a few seconds for him to notice his own last name on the back of the red and gold jersey.
For the rest of the week, Harry holed himself up in his dorm, using his pensieve to study every girl in Hogwarts fourth year and up. He didn’t worry about classes as much, although he did participate; Headmistress McGonagall, with a smile tugging her lips, felt that defeating a Dark Lord single-handedly was one of the main reasons for getting an education in the first place – really, he was only there to keep some sense of normalcy in his life.
He sighed tiredly as he finished the most recent memory. With his clout, he probably could have gotten every girl to form a line for a bit of modeling and an interview, but he felt that he should judge from natural beauty and everyday interactions, not from make-up and scripted lies.
Fortunately, he had met quite a few girls, due to his fame, classes, and Quidditch matches. He already had an idea of who would go on the list, but he didn’t want to be biased.
So, after a few minutes of consideration, he put down a name.
Parvati Patil, obviously in a foul mood, wordlessly plopped down on the arm of the comfy plush chair that Harry was doing his homework on. “What is that?” She demanded, pointing towards the bulletin board that everyone in the common room was currently murmuring about.
There, right in the middle of the board, was a simple parchment numbered 1 through 10 with the title, ‘The Top 10 Most Beautiful Girls at Hogwarts by Harry Potter’. Only on the number ten, was there a name.
Harry was confused at Parvati’s anger for only a half-second. She wasn’t angry because she was on the list, she was angry because she wasn’t.
But her twin sister was.
“In case you haven’t noticed, Padma and I are identical,” she started.
Harry acknowledged that with a nod, still looking over his essay.
She looked uncertain when she continued. A silent Harry honestly scared her. “Padma…” she began in a softer tone, “…she means a lot to me. I understand if you don’t want to tie us, but I refuse to be at a higher number than her.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Harry looked up from his assignment to look her in the eyes. “But I wasn’t planning on giving you a higher number. I’m sorry.”
“What?” she ground out, her tone a bit more frosty. “Explain.”
Harry sighed. “I’m not just judging here on looks, Parvati. I would have no problems on tying you two if it were just looks. I judge on character as well. Padma looks just like you, yes. But she’s also completely different from you. Take this situation, for example. If it was the other way around, and you were on the list, Padma would probably just be happy for her sister and move on. After all, it’s just a stupid list.”
As he finished, The Common Room door opened up, revealing Padma Patil. Harry only looked past her sister, mildly concerned at the exotic beauty heading their way. She shot straight for him. She noticed the close proximity between her sister and Harry, and growled. “This isn’t some crappy pick-up line, is it? If you’re going to do the same shit you pulled with me at the Ball, I swear I will kill you right now!”
Parvati looked more than a bit confused, while Harry just blinked. Finally, he gave a genuine smile. “It seems I misjudged you. Great!” He grinned brightly, and even after the words she said, she couldn’t help but blush. She stared back defiantly.
“What’s going on?” Parvati started, looking between the two.
“Simple,” Harry murmured, casting a spell from his fingertips to the parchment on the board, arching beautifully over the gathered crowd. “The List in here wasn’t connected to the Lists in the other common rooms. The one in here was different than the other three, the others that were linked together. Now, whatever I write here, will show up on the others. Number Ten was different here. In here, it was Padma on the list. In the others, it was Parvati.”
He let them absorb the information. Padma saw through the trap first. “What did she say?”
They both turned to Parvati. She fidgeted and turned away. Harry answered for her. “She wasn’t as vehement as you were. She was protecting you, but in a completely different way. Now it’s final. Padma’s on The List. If both of your reactions were the same, I would have tied you for it… ” He shrugged and turned back to his paper.
Padma looked deeply embarrassed, and Parvati was still turned away, not looking at either of them.
“Harry?” the Ravenclaw tentatively began. “It’s… it’s not because of that date, right? This isn’t your way of apologizing, is it?”
“I’m afraid not, Padma,” Harry said, looking up once again and setting down his fountain pen. “I’ve already apologized. This will be a completely unbiased list.”
“Wait – you didn’t apologize!” She accused, but not with any venom in her voice. It was a year ago, and she had silently forgiven him soon after, but she definitely would have remembered an apology.
“But I – oh.” He turned to Parvati.
Padma seemed to understand. “You apologized to her, thinking it was me? I thought you could tell the difference by now, Harry!” She sounded accusatory, but she was more tired than angry. No one could tell the difference.
“Your hair is slightly longer. Your eyes are a bit sharper and you don’t wear make-up. You wear more conservative clothing, and no jewelry. Not to mention, different colour trimmings on both of your robes. Only an idiot could not see the differences.” They both looked at him, a bit more than shocked. He shrugged. “I was an idiot ’til after the ball.”
“And after the ball… ?” Parvati inquired.
“After the ball,” he glared at Parvati, “I asked you if I could talk to Padma to apologize to her. She said she’d pass the message on to you, Padma. I assumed you had said ‘no thanks’, since neither of you rarely spoke to me after that.”
“She did what?!” She yelled, drawing a bit of attention. Harry, a bit annoyed at the nosy onlookers, cast the Muffliato spell around the three.
“I… I – didn’t think you’d want to talk to him – “
“The hell you didn’t! I bloody cried on your shoulder that night!”
Harry looked at her in surprise. “Really? I… I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault,” She murmured absently, frowning at her sister.
“Yes it is!” Parvati yelled at her sister, finally turning towards them. “He ignored you all night! You spent a year’s worth of your allowance on that dress after he asked you out. You just said it – you cried on my shoulder! Whose fault is that?”
“Mine,” Harry murmured, feeling terrible. She did all of that? For him? “I didn’t… I mean I should’ve… how – how can I make it up to you?”
Padma looked somewhat stressed. She looked back between her sister and Harry, before settling on him. “Isn’t it a bit late?”
“I could pay you back,” Harry looked into her eyes, “for the dress. I will pay you back. I won’t take no.”
She could see the seriousness in his eyes and knew not to argue. Refusing a Dark Lord Slayer can only lead to another slaying. “I’ll, umm, make you a deal.”
Harry nodded, giving her his full attention.
“What were you going to say – If my sister had passed it on?” She asked him.
He immediately answered. “I’d say I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. I’m a right git, and I should have come to my senses and actually paid attention to one of the most beautiful girls at the ball. I know you have no reason to ever talk to me again, but I just want you to know that the way I treated you was very deplorable and you, of all people, did not deserve it.” He said it all without breaking pace, without thinking. When faced with the twins’ amazed stares, he leaned back in his chair and looked past Parvati to the ceiling. “I … I’d written it down a few nights after the ball. Pretty much memorized it.” He tilted his head to Padma. “As I said, I was stupid. Should’ve gone to look for you myself.”
Padma felt a tear coming. “Thanks,” she whispered to him.
Harry nodded wordlessly. “I’m still paying you.”
“I’ll make you another deal.”
Harry sighed and conceded.
Damn Ravenclaws and their cryptic messages. It didn’t take Harry long to figure out what she was implying, but he wasn’t so sure. In a somewhat cautious voice, he asked “Would you, umm… ” As he saw her grin, he couldn’t help but smile back. Mustering the courage, he continued, “Considering there isn’t a Yule Ball coming up anytime soon, I’ll try the next best thing. Padma, would you like to accompany me to Hogsmeade this weekend?”
Padma, her grin wider than ever, nodded. Parvati sat there numbly, watching the exchange of smiles, before she groaned loudly, hopped off the arm of the chair and stomped off.
“I suppose… I should have asked her out too?” Harry wondered, confused.
“I’ll talk to her later,” she murmured darkly, her grin souring as she was reminded of her other half’s betrayal.
“Meet at the carriages at eleven?” he asked, trying to bring her good mood back.
It worked as she smiled back at him. “Can we make it ten?” She asked. When Harry nodded, she waved before sprinting off to the girls’ dorms. She was obviously not going to hold off having a talk with her twin.
Harry took a glance back at his work and realized with a start that he was finished. Good thing, too – he didn’t think he could’ve kept writing at this point.
He rolled up his parchment before he heard Padma speak next to him. It had to have been Padma – she sounded civil, and her voice was soft. “Sorry, I, umm, forgot something.”
Harry glanced at her. “What did you – ” He was cut off by Padma’s lips against his own. It was only a second, maybe a second and a half, but when she pulled back, she smiled and blushed cutely.
“I told myself I would do that if you ever apologized. Didn’t have to write that down.” She winked and ran back up the stairs.
He looked around the room; no one seemed to notice. He peered back at the staircase that Padma had already ascended. She certainly rose in the ranks of his list.
Harry sighed. He just had to be unbiased, didn’t he?
With nothing else to do for the moment, he finished gathering his things and headed upstairs, already bracing himself for the next name.
He just hoped she didn’t kick his arse.