“You know, if you keep picking at that, you’re going to ruin your jersey,” chided Albus.
Rose sighed. “Yeah, I know.” She set her red and gold jersey-coat aside and leaned back against the tree she was sitting under.
“Do you feel like sharing?” Azalea said as she drew her coat closer around her shoulders.
“No, not really.”
A silence fell between them as they sat beneath a willow by the banks of the lake. The game had gone quite smoothly, a rush to the finish when James caught the Snitch, putting Gryffindor 210 points ahead of Hufflepuff. But the difference would have been much more drastic if one of their Chasers’ head had been in the game and not off the pitch.
Scorpius swung down from his perch in one of the branches, catching himself with his broom just before landing on Azalea and Albus, making Azalea miss with her skipping stone. She cursed after Scorpius’ shadow as he rounded the lake in less than 4 seconds. Though his father may still not approve of the House Team he was on, no son of Draco Malfoy would have less than the best, school-approved, broom that money could buy. The latest Icebolt model, which had an awful knack of chilling their riders because of the extreme speeds, had been banned on school property because of three crashes in the Quidditch pitch and five cases of frostbite. In all actuality, no hybrid of the Firebolt line was allowed for the continuous abuses and injuries. More had been stolen to record than anyone cared to mention.
“Next time, I hope the stone knocks you off your broom into the lake,” called Azalea as Scorpius went back up onto his perch.
“So long as you go with me,” he purred.
“Sod off, Hamlet.”
Scorpius chuckled heartily as he settled himself into quite the comfortable nook between branch and trunk.
“Does anyone else feel like we’re missing something right now?” mused Albus as he tried to skip like Azalea, but only managed three against her ten.
“Besides a lot of drunk or horny students?” offered Azalea.
“How about a detention?” said Rose, smiling in Azalea’s direction, whose expression didn’t flicker in the slightest; Azalea had let her mouth run away with her towards a Hufflepuff Beater that had made a move on James, nearly knocking him out with his club. The verbal abuse had transcended mere penalty to a hefty month of detention, every Wednesday and Saturday night.
“Naw, we have those things all the time. I mean, we never hang with the other students much besides Trish and Ernie, sometimes, and the Team. Are we missing that wonderful student life, trying to get along with everyone?” Albus tried three more times to skip a stone, each attempt worse than the one before.
“Now you’re starting to sound like Hamlet,” said Rose, nudging her cousin playfully. “Deeper thinking suits you.”
Albus lightly shoved her back at her slightly sarcastic tone.
“I don’t think so, Rizm,” muttered Azalea. Because her friends looked at her at her name, she explained, “Say RSM three times fast and you’ll get it. But, I meet plenty of people in detention, and all of them are just like me. I don’t think I’d be able to handle that, all that similarity and fake chumminess until we cuss each other out, or play a joke on another student together to get right back where we started. I like the variety, you know?”
Albus nodded. “That’s exactly my point, though. We have the same company all of the time.”
Rose held her hand up to her heart, played up hurt in her voice and eyes. “Albus Severus! How could you say that of us?”
“We’re all so different creatures, you know. I’m the rough and tough, though terribly exquisite, Azalea, soon-to-be upcoming journalist and eventual editor of her own newspaper.”
“Terrible is right,” muttered Rose, which earned a heavy sock to the left shoulder, her right still bandaged from Quidditch strain.
“Hamlet’s the quiet, unpredictable one who refuses to admit his undying love and devotion for Rizm here, who is usually the cute clueless one that has his moments.”
“Hear that, Hamlet? I’m still waiting for that profession,” called Albus.
“Wait until we’re in the dorms, dearest,” retorted Scorpius, his purr more of a demonic one than the sultry side he had used before.
“And our sweetest and clever Rose, who helps us through trouble in grades and rules and is a bloody brilliant Chaser,” said Azalea as she gave her best friend a one-armed hug.
“For someone who’s so sweet, she sure has a silver tongue,” said Albus.
Rose stuck up her nose. “You can only dream, Rizm.”
“I think his dreams are already too preoccupied with Scorp up there,” teased Azalea. The growl that followed the most hated nickname made a few leaves quiver in fear.
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