Title: Social Graces
Author: Zoe-chan ([livejournal.com profile] zoe_chan)
Fandom: Harry Potter
Character: Rowena Ravenclaw
Word Count: 881
Rating: G
Warnings: None
Summary: Rowena is not a social child.
Author's Notes: My Rowena and [livejournal.com profile] lady_sarai's Helga exist in the same universe. That is, their stories interact with each other. So if anything in hers looks familiar here or vice versa, that is why. Also, feedback is greatly appreciated.

Social Graces

Rowena glanced longingly at the thick wooden door that led inside from the courtyard. It was locked, leaving Rowena trapped in the small yard with only a stone fountain, some vegetation, and an abundantly energetic girl of her own age for company. She frowned slightly, recalling the earlier conversation with her parents.

”Rowena, your Ma and I have something very important to discuss with the Hufflepuffs. Would you mind taking Helga to play in the lower courtyard?”

Rowena eyed the other girl warily. She seemed hardly able to contain herself within her own skin and was unable to stop fidgeting. “Do I have to play with her?” she asked quietly, not wanting to be so rude as to allow Helga to hear her trepidation.

Her father laughed. “Yes, you have to play with her. Please be nice and make her feel welcome while we’re talking to her parents.”

A small sigh escaped her, and Rowena nodded. Feeling more like she was going to the gallows than taking a restless five year old out of doors, Rowena grabbed the other girl by the arm and led her to the courtyard her father had indicated.

And now they were trapped. Though Rowena had been sure to leave the door opened in case she needed a quick escape, she had been foiled by a sudden gust of wind—the unfortunate kind that sometimes manages to find its way even into very small courtyards. The door had blown shut and the latch had caught, leaving both girls stuck on the wrong side of the door.

Helga seemed supremely unconcerned at this turn of events. Rowena sat on the edge of the fountain, allowing her fingers to trail in its cool water as she watched the other girl in silence.

Helga was anything but silent. She wandered the small courtyard in circles, talking about her journey, her family, how nice Rowena’s home was, and how much fun she’d been having, all so quickly that Rowena’s head was spinning and she hardly knew where one subject ended and another began. She glanced quickly at the ivy that climbed the walls of the courtyard, and wondered idly if it would hold her slight weight long enough to make a daring escape.

She was still contemplating this when she realized that Helga had fallen blessedly silent—and was staring at her. She met the other girl’s gaze nervously. “Yes?”

“Do you want to have a footrace?”

Rowena looked down doubtfully. “I’m not sure I can run in these shoes…”

“Oh. You can take them off, if you want. And I’ll take off mine, too, so it’s fair.” Helga sat down abruptly on the gravel path that circled the fountain and began to tug at her shoes.

“What about our skirts? We can’t really run in these, can we?”

“Well, not very easily. That’s why you have to pull them up. Like this.” Helga quickly kilted her skirts around her waist and showed Rowena how to do the same. She waited while Rowena slipped out of her shoes, and then crouched down in readiness. “Twice ‘round the courtyard?”

Rowena nodded.

“Alright. Ready, then? GO!”

Both girls took off at a sprint, each determined to be first around the small yard. As Rowena rounded the final bend, she closed her eyes and threw her entire being into the running. If I run into the door, at least I will have beaten Helga. Bracing herself for the impact, she hurled herself forward into a soft barrier, forcing from it a low grunt of expelled air.

She opened her eyes in surprise to see her father’s tabard filling her entire vision. He laughed and reached down to pick her up. “Well run, lass!” he exclaimed, pulling her up into his arms. “You nearly knocked me over! Just think—in a few more years, your old da will be able to give up his shield and sleep by the fire, while his strapping young daughter goes out to protect hearth and home.”

Rowena laughed and gave her father’s shoulder a little shove. “You’re not old.”

“You’re a sweet girl, Rowena.” He shot her a sideways glance. “And what did you think of young Helga?”

“Well…” she searched her mind for something nice, as the girl in question was only a few steps behind them. “She’s very friendly and… active.”

“And you two get along?”

“I suppose so.”

“That’s good to hear.” He smiled. “She’s going to be staying here with us for a while so your Ma and I can teach her—and you—how to use your magics. Hers came in early, just like yours, and her parents were hoping we could teach her while we teach you.”

Rowena looked back at him uncertainly. “Are you sure that’s the best idea? I mean… Are you sure you and Ma can teach both of us at the same time? Won’t that be too hard?” She tried to keep the hopeful tone out of the last question.

“I think we can manage.” She could tell he was trying to keep from laughing.

“If you’re sure…”

He smiled again. “Don’t worry, love,” he said, hugging her tightly. “You’ll be glad to have someone your own age about, I promise. You’ll be best friends in no time.”
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