“The Tale of the Witch’s Knickers”
Poor Filius is suffering from a cold and then finds himself in an awkward spot when someone comes to visit. (This is a follow-up to the challenge-prompt flashfic, “Trunks,” which is also part of the “Cheering Charms” series of Filius Flitwick flashfics.)
Characters:: Filius Flitwick, Pomona Sprout, Poppy Pomfrey
Genres: Drabble/100-Word, Humor, Romance.
Wednesday, 4 January 1961
Filius Flitwick had a streaming head cold, complete with sore, scratchy throat, laryngitis, ringing in his ears, runny eyes, and a desire to do nothing more than lie in bed until it passed. Even the Pepper-Up Potion that Poppy had brought him earlier in the morning had done little to alleviate his symptoms or his feelings of abject misery. She had left him with a pot of tea and directions to stay in bed for a few days, saying something about a particularly virulent strain that year. Disappointment compounded his misery. He was supposed to have been taking Pomona out to dinner that evening in Diagon Alley, their first real date. He wanted to cry, but he just sniffled, then blew his nose into his big red hanky and resigned himself to his fate.
Paris, the lively young man in his door portrait, popped into the still life hanging above the fireplace in his bedroom. “There’s someone to see you. Professor Sprout. Should I let her in?”
“Oh, I don’t want her to see me like this,” Filius moaned. His nose was red, his hair was matted on one side and sticking out in random directions on the other, and his voice was a hoarse whisper.
“She has something for you,” the portrait said. “I could say that you’re asleep, but she’ll only return later.”
“I’ll let her in, then,” Paris said. “Just the ticket to have you back on your feet—a visit from your lady love!”
“Shhh! Don’t say that too loudly!” Filius replied. He didn’t want to scare Pomona off, after all, make her believe he’d been pining for her. Which he had been, but it wouldn’t be prudent to let her know that when they’d not even had an official first date yet. But Paris was already gone, presumably to admit the Herbology teacher to his suite.
They’d been seeing more of each other socially over the last few weeks, and in an awkward moment on New Year’s Eve, Filius had manoeuvred himself so that he was perched on the arm of Pomona’s chair just as midnight struck. As he had leaned in to kiss her, their first kiss, they had hit their foreheads together so hard, he fell off the chair arm. Suave, very suave. But at least it left no doubt in Pomona’s mind that he was interested in her as something more than a friendly colleague. And later on after leaving the party, they had had a very nice little canoodle on his sofa. She was as warm and wonderful as he had ever imagined—better, even. But now he had to cancel their first date because of an inconvenient cold. He sniffled again, this time feeling more sorry for himself.
“Filius! Filius!” Pomona’s voice rang like a bell through his quarters.
“I’m in here,” Filius managed to croak, pushing himself up to sit against the headboard and running his fingers through his unruly hair.
“Poppy told me at breakfast how sick you were,” Pomona said as she bustled into his bedroom, “and then I got your note about this evening, and I was worried. I brought you some chicken soup!” She held up a picnic basket.
“Oh, thank you! I’m so sorry about dinner—”
“You just get better! You look as though you must feel absolutely miserable,” Pomona said sympathetically as she set the basket down on his bedside table. She opened the basket and pulled out a vase of flowers. “I thought these might cheer you up a bit.”
“They’re beautiful, Pomona. Thank you.” He sniffled and wiped his eyes.
“I’ll just set them over here so you can see them easily,” Pomona replied. “Now, no need to cry! This is only a little something to brighten your room. You’ll be over this nasty cold in no time!”
Filius cleared his throat. “I’m not crying. It’s this cold.” He blew his nose. He did have a tendency toward tears when he felt moved, but this wasn’t one of those moments.
“How would you feel about a nice bowl of soup?”
“That sounds wonderful. Thank you.” His eyes welled with tears, this time from gratitude. “It’s very good of you. I hope you don’t catch this cold from me.”
“Don’t you worry about me! I almost never get colds. All the fresh air I get, I like to think,” Pomona said as she ladled some steaming soup into a bowl. “All fresh herbs from the greenhouses—made it myself this morning. Better than Pepper-Up, I say!” She conjured a little tray table over Filius’s lap and set his soup down on it, then handed him a spoon and a napkin. “You look as though you could use a fresh handkerchief.”
“Yes, I have one here someplace,” Filius said, feeling about under his pillow, but only finding one in worse shape than the one in his other hand. He blushed.
“Where do you keep them? I’ll pull out a few fresh ones for you,” Pomona said.
“Top drawer in the dresser, on the left-hand side. But that’s all right. I have my wand here somewhere . . .”
“No trouble at all,” Pomona replied cheerily. She opened the drawer and moved aside some socks. Suddenly, she was still, staring into his drawer.
Filius felt himself grow warmer and his heart beat uncomfortably fast. He suddenly remembered what else he kept in that drawer.
Slowly, Pomona’s hand lifted something from the drawer. She held it in front of her and stared.
“Um, Pomona, I can explain—”
“Are these my knickers in your drawer?” she asked, not turning around, still transfixed by the sight of her own lacy black knickers, found in a completely unexpected place.
Filius swallowed past his sore throat. His face glowed. “Yes,” he croaked. “After that mix up that summer, uh, with our trunks, I, um, I just, um—”
“You decided to . . . to keep a souvenir?”
“No, no, not that, not exactly. I found them later. They were caught on the top of my mirror. Up high. I didn’t notice them until I’d already sent the wrong trunk back to Hogwarts. And then, um, I found out it was your trunk and you had mine and it seemed awkward to try to return them by post. And after that, every time I thought of it . . . it just . . . I felt embarrassed . . . I’m sorry, Pomona.” She’d probably think he was some sort of crazy masher now, collecting witches’ undergarments and doing bizarre things with them. He wiped his nose miserably.
“Oh, well, yes, I see how that could be awkward,” Pomona said, dropping them back into the drawer. She turned around, this time with several clean handkerchiefs in her hand. She was blushing almost as brightly as Filius felt he was. “How’s the soup?”
“Um, uh, it looks fine,” Filius replied, confused. He picked up his spoon and tasted it. Steamy and flavourful enough to taste through his cold. “Mmm, perfect. Went down a dream.”
“Good.” Pomona set his clean handkerchiefs beside his pillow.
“About the, um, the under, um, the knickers,” Filius said with a blush.
“Oh, don’t worry about them. When I couldn’t find them, I went out and splurged on a few new pairs. They were my only black ones, so I noticed.”
“But, um, don’t you want them back?”
Pomona smiled and caressed Filius’s cheek, smoothing back some of his hair. “Oh, yes. But I think perhaps you might return them under less awkward circumstances.” She winked. “I can hope for that, anyway.”
“Oh.” Filius’s eyes grew wider. “O-o-oh!” He smiled. “It will probably still be awkward,” he said.
“We’ll simply have to wait until it’s not, then,” Pomona replied. “I look forward toward our overcoming our embarrassment together. Now, eat your chicken soup! I want that date of ours before the students return on Sunday!”
Filius smiled and ate his chicken soup.
Note: Written in long-overdue response to the Charming Roots Board challenge prompt, “awkward.” This is a follow-up to the challenge-prompt flashfic, “Trunks,” which is also part of the “Cheering Charms” series of Filius Flitwick flashfics.