Chapter 8 : Hogsmede
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Here we have the unlikely couple Albus Potter and Ray Mitchell
another gorgeous chapter image by haley jade @tda
"Where's your boyfriend? Did he dump you yet?"
Ah, now this is how I like to start my Saturday mornings. No lie in. No extra helpings of muffins. No fantasizing about James' abs. A couple of nasty, taunting Gryffindors is all I need.
I glance along the table and spot Rose sitting a little further down. She beckons to me frantically, clearly eager to tell me something.
I ignore the kid who threw the insult, but unsurprisingly that doesn't help anything.
The whole pack of them laugh, and somehow the noise gets into my head more quickly than I had imagined, "He probably dumped her as soon as he got his glasses fixed and saw her properly."
"Why would Albus want someone like her?"
"And why did she quit? I heard it was because she's too scared to fly."
"Nah, she just wanted to give all our secrets to the other team. Slytherin-loving bitch."
"I heard she threw up last week!"
"How weak? Seriously, what does Albus see in her?"
"What did James ever see in her?"
The words echo around my head so fast that something makes me turn around and glare fiercely at them. My hands are shaking uncontrollably.
"Shut it!" I yell, "You sickening little creeps. You-You are horrible, mean jerks!"
Personally I think I sound rather terrifying. People around me look intimidated. But the girl who's clearly the leader of the group isn't so bothered.
She picks up the soft boiled egg that sits in her egg cup and she lobs it firmly in the air towards my head.
I feel the soft thud, and then the warm yolk spreading all over my hair.
The whole pack of them burst into raucous laughter again as the egg shell falls at my feet.
I just stand there as the yellow liquid trails down my face, feeling like I might actually burst into tears.
Rose is at my side immediately. She puts a protective arm around my shoulders and gives one of her famous death stares towards the girl who did it. She looks immediately subdued, and the laughter subsides quickly.
Rose leans over towards them and hisses, "If I so much as see you breathe any where near her again, I'll make sure you feel serious pain. Got that assholes?"
None of them nod, they just look terrified. See? Why can't I be terrifying like that? I think it's the red hair. It just makes Rose look…more fiery.
She links her arm with mine and says loudly, "They're just jealous."
With that she marches us firmly out of the great hall, keeping her nose in the air.
Once we're out of everyone's sight she immediately lets go and begins fussing over me.
"Are you okay? Did it get in your eyes?"
"No, really I'm fine," I murmur, "My hair's a bit gooey, though. And I'm sure I won't smell too great for a while."
She immediately raises her wand and flicks it at my head. I feel the stickiness evaporate off my face.
"We need Albus to hurry up with his plan of wooing Ray," she tells me.
"Agreed," I nod decisively.
"That's what I was about to tell you, before those jerks egged you. I've been thinking of ways we could force them to talk."
And with that she grinned slyly at me.
* * *
"Won't that be weird?" Albus looks extremely doubtful.
"You're suggesting that you, me, Rose and Ray all spend the day in Hogsmede…together."
"That is correct."
"And Ray will be the only one who doesn't know that our relationship is fake?"
"And we're supposed to act like a couple, while I try to make conversation with her?"
"Five points to Gryffindor."
"That'll be weird!" He moans.
"Stop questioning my authority!" I snap.
"Sorry! But I'm getting there, really. I don't need you and Rose to intervene or anything."
"Albus, there are still remains of egg yolk in my hair. Just do what I ask, and I won't be forced to hit you."
He nods vigorously, looking slightly guilty, "Aye aye captain."
We're standing outside the girl's dormitory. The Hogsmede visit starts in an hour and Rose's plan is fully formulated and ready to be put into practice. This, right here, is stage one. That's right. No broom cupboards required.
Both Rose and I agreed that Ray and broom cupboards are not a good mix. Ray goes into a fury if anyone tells her what sort of cereal she should have for breakfast. If anyone tried to lock her up with a bloke she would most likely explode. And that wouldn't be good for anyone's sanity, so we've decided against it.
We're going for a more relaxed version of that. Ray has to choose to spend time with Albus, not be forced into it.
Albus looks sickeningly nervous.
As though on queue, Ray appears behind him on the stairs, "Oh, hello," she says, edging past Albus and through the open dormitory door.
"Hey," I grin at her, "You want to meet us in Hogsmede today, outside Honeydukes?"
She narrows her eyes, looking extremely unwilling, "I don't want to be the third wheel."
"Rose is coming too," I add.
Please Merlin, if you want to be kind to me, just this once, make Ray reject all of her normal instincts and just come with us. PLEASE?
Ray shrugs, "I suppose. I didn't have any other plans anyway."
"Great!" I grin at her. Thank you Merlin.
She nods once at me, before glancing at Albus.
"Hi Albus," she says.
"H-h-hey R-ray," is his eloquent reply.
She doesn't seem to mind, however, and she goes back into the dormitory.
"Smooth," I hiss, "And yes, you definitely need to speed things up."
He sighs, looking defeated, "Okay, meet you outside Honeydukes in an hour?"
"Yep," I answer, "Oh, and wear something nice."
He nods before making his way down the staircase. Rose immediately pokes her head out of the dormitory, "Did it work?"
"Yes," I grin.
She waggles her eyebrows, and rubs her palms together evilly, "Excellent."
"Are you sure we shouldn't tell him that we're not going to show up?" I bite my lip guiltily.
She waves me away, "Please, did you hear how nervous he was just at the idea of us being there? He'll be too scared to come out of his dormitory if we tell him he's going at this alone."
"Who's going at what alone?" Ray calls from inside.
"Nothing!" Rose and I call back in unison.
Once Ray is out of earshot, Rose grins, "We're geniuses."
We go inside, where Ray is busy pulling on an old t-shirt on.
"You sure you don't want to…dress up a little more?" Rose prompts her encouragingly.
Ray looks at her sharply, "And why would I do that?"
"Because...it's Hogsmede," Rose answers feebly. The stare that Ray replies with is so piercing that Rose looks away and mutters, "Never mind."
Lexie comes out of the bathroom. She's dressed in her usual school uniform, with no make up, and her hair tied back tightly in a pony tail. She's followed all the rules of anonymity.
"You coming to Hogsmede?" I ask tentatively.
"No," she answers quietly, "I'm tutoring Cameron."
She passes me on her way out.
"What's with you?" I whisper.
She glances back at Rose and then beckons for me to come outside with her.
Once we've shut the dormitory door behind us Lexie sighs, "He's been acting really weird."
"Who else?" she says, "I don't know, it's like he's all twitchy and on edge all of a sudden."
I shudder. For Merlin's sake Cameron, can you not keep your bloody feelings to yourself?
"I think he might have caught on," she hisses, "Maybe I came on too strong." She clasps her hand to her forehead, "I feel so stupid."
I clap her on the shoulder feebly, "You're not stupid."
"No, I am," she sighs, "I fell for a guy who would never, ever like me. He's probably off flirting with some girl, thinking about how he has to go and meet his weird tutor, who clearly has a stupid, girly, pathetic crush on him."
She looks close to tears, but before I can begin to comfort her she turns on her heal and dashes down the staircase at top speed, clearly wanting to be alone.
I'm not sure if I've ever felt more guilty than I do right now.
"What was that about?" Rose's face peers out into the stairwell.
I shrug, but the lump in my throat is more prominent than ever, "Nothing."
"Well, come on then!" she hisses, "I've just convinced Ray to wear earrings!"
I sigh. This just goes to show that meddling in your friend's love lives hardly ever ends up the way we want it to.
Hopefully Ray and Albus will be the exception.
* * *
"This just seems really mean," I whisper.
"Nonsense," Rose snaps, "He'll be fine."
We're crouching behind a few dustbins that stand around the corner from Honeydukes. Rose has out a pair of Omnioculars that are glued to her eyes, so that she can watch Albus' varied expressions of worry, confusion and doubt in extreme detail.
"We should really just go over there," I say pleadingly, "He looks like he's about to leave."
"Not likely," Rose mutters, still staring into the omnioculars.
"And how can you be so sure?" I snort.
"Because Ray is already here," she says.
I glance behind Albus, and sure enough there's Ray, blonde hair blowing in the wind, wrapped in a thick, intentionally unflattering overcoat.
I grab the omnioculars from Rose, and fix them to my eyes.
Even with Ray's typical moody expression so firmly in place, Albus' face so obviously lights up at the sight of her that I have to pause what I have just watched, so that I can rewind and watch it again.
"Watch," I shove the omnioculars back to Rose, "Look at the way he's looking at her."
Rose watches for a moment, before sighing, "That poor boy is a goner."
She picks up her half of the new Wizard Wheezes extendable ear, one that no longer has a long cord, but can pick up sounds from long distances.. The other end is attached to Albus' jacket.
She lifts the ear so that we can hear what they're saying.
"Oh," comes Ray's voice, sounding very resistant, "Hi Albus."
"H-hi Ray," Albus says, before letting out a drawn out squeak, because apparently all words have failed him, "heeeeeeh."
Rose rolls her eyes, "Bloody hell, can't Albus pack it in and just act normally for once?"
"Where are Rose and Stella?" Ray asks. I'm pleased to hear the ever-so-slightly warm tone in her voice.
She must be warming up to Albus. I hope.
Albus looks around desperately, seeing if he can spot us anywhere. He looks back at Ray despondently, "I don't know."
Ray's eyebrows narrow suspiciously, "Strange."
There is a lingering silence, one that becomes almost unbearable.
"Should we...wait for them?" Albus asks hesitantly.
But Ray, being the decisive person she is, shook her head, "No, let's go to the Three Broomsticks. I'm not waiting in the cold for them to show up. They can find us there."
She turns down the street, hands stuffed into her coat resolutely. Albus stares stupidly after her for a moment, hardly able to believe his luck. He has just been invited to go to the Three Broomsticks with Rain Mitchell, most intimidating, and most gorgeous girl in the entire school.
"Well, are you coming?" she asks sharply.
"Yes," he answers, a little too quickly, before taking off after her.
Rose shoots me a gleeful look, "You may now bow down to me."
I snort, "Oh wise one, let me honour your wisdom that shall forever surpass my own."
"Please, Stella, don't make a scene."
I check around the corner. Ray and Albus are making their way down the street towards the pub.
"So what do we do now?"
"We follow them!" Rose gives me a look that tells me how obvious it should be.
She pulls a shimmery cloak out of a small backpack.
"Under here," she grins, "I stole it from James' trunk."
I duck underneath, and everything immediately becomes cramped.
"Great plan, Rose," I mutter.
"Well we can hardly just walk into the Three Broomsticks unseen," she says, "To give them time alone we have to remain invisible."
"We could just leave them be and not spy on them," I suggest as we shuffle out of the alleyway and onto the main street.
Rose scoffs, "Clearly you've had no lessons in scheming."
"Well, it's not my fault that James and Fred, the best schemers at Hogwarts, aren't my cousins."
And thank merlin for that. But as I mentioned James it felt like I had received a blow to the stomach. Because there he is.
"Speak of the devil," Rose mutters.
James has come out of Honeydukes, his arm around a girl. The girl is tall, pretty with long legs and a nice smile and I immediately hate her.
James hasn't spoken to me in days. Ever since I told him where he could go, after he profusely apologized for being an arse, he hasn't bothered to make any sort of contact whatsoever with me. In fact I'm sure he's deliberately avoiding me. It really is quite heartbreaking.
"Wonder what this one's name is," Rose says, eyeing the girl with disdain.
"I honestly couldn't care less," I lie cooly.
"What happened with you two?" Rose asks curiously, "One minute you're at each other's throats, and the next you don't give a rat's arse. Is there something I don't know about?"
"No," I answer immediately, "I've decided that I'm done with your cousin. It was a waste of time pining after him anyway."
Rose looks surprised, "That may be the only sensible thing you've ever said."
"Aw, Rose, you're making me blush."
Rose sniggers, "Well, whatever her name is, he won't remember it next week, so I suppose there's no point in introducing ourselves."
"I suppose not," I mutter grudgingly, because it hasn't yet slipped my mind that I'm completely in love with him.
"Here we are," Rose whispers excitedly, and I look up. The Three Broomsticks' door is wide open, welcoming in students with a warm breeze that smells faintly of butter beer. "Ten galleons says they're already madly in love and snogging."
I raise an eyebrow, "That would make Albus the worst boyfriend in the world. And give Ray some credit. Ten galleons says they're both sitting there awkwardly, with no idea of what to say."
We go inside, narrowly dodging the students coming out, who start complaining that someone just stood on their foot.
"Honestly, Stella," Rose mutters.
"Sorry," I hiss, "It's very cramped under here."
Inside the pub it's also extremely cramped, what with it being lunch time on the Hogsmede day trip.
"Prepare to lose ten galleons, Wood," Rose says, scanning the pub for a bottle blonde head next to a jet black one.
I spot them. "Yes!" I hissed, a little too loudly, "Their heads are too far away for snogging."
Rose looks in the direction I'm pointing, looking sulky because now she owes me ten galleons.
But it turns out we're both wrong. Ray and Albus aren't snogging, but they're not sitting in awkward silence either.
They're talking. And not in the strange, tense way that Ray usually does. Ray is smiling. Smiling.
And now she's laughing. And so is Albus. In fact he looks completely relaxed.
How can this have happened so quickly? We can't have been that far behind! It looks as though we've forwarded our lives five years, when Ray and Albus will actually talk to one another properly.
"Did Ray just laugh at something my cousin said?" Rose stares, before snatching up the extendable ear and pressing it to the side of her skull.
"What are they saying?" I whisper, glancing back.
"They're talking about…Professor Trelawny," she says, frowning as she listens in closer. She chuckles at something Albus has just said, and mutters, "So true. What an old fraud."
Albus replies to something Ray says animatedly, and grins. Madame Rosmerta sweeps past us with two butter beers and puts them on their table. Albus thanks her, and pays her a few sickles.
"You realize what this is, right?" Rose whispers.
"It's a date."
"Well, not really."
"Albus just paid for her drink, they're sitting alone at a table, talking about something that's really funny. Sounds like a date to me."
"Great," I muttered, "So half the school is here to see my boyfriend on a date with another girl."
Rose laughs, "Yeah, I'd be pretty embarrassed if I were you."
To respond I give her a quick shove and she bumps into a girl, who reels back, looking surprised.
Rose glares at me and we back away quickly from the girl, who is looking wildly around for evidence of who crashed into her.
The girl spins around and whines, "Scorpius, someone just crashed into me!"
And then Rose and I notice the blonde hair, the swagger, the always controlled expression of smooth confidence belonging to Scorpius Malfoy, as he steps into view behind her.
"Harriet, don't worry, it was probably just a gust of wind from the door."
Harriet pouts and folds her arms, "I know what I felt Scorpius. Someone pushed me."
"Let's get you a butter beer," he grins, putting an arm around her and swinging her out of sight.
I breathe a sigh of relief, "Sorry, that was close."
But Rose doesn't say a word. She's too busy staring at Scorpius and his date as they move through the crowded pub.
"That's her," she whispers shakily.
"That's who?" I ask, frowning. I only recognize Harriet as a Ravenclaw in our year. But Rose has a thunderous expression on her face.
"That's the girl I found him with, you know after he declared his undying love for me."
I stare, "Surely he wouldn't date her!"
"Well, apparently he would," she growls.
There's a long, tense while Rose seethes at my side. If it weren't for the fact that we're stuck under an invisibility cloak, and therefore unable to reveal ourselves, I would be running as far away from her as possible. Just because of a little something called 'Rose Weasley's mood swings'. And about ninety percent of them have been caused by Scorpius Malfoy.
"Just leave it Rose," I mutter.
"I will not! He can't just take out the bimbo he practically cheated on me with!"
"No! Not technically!" she hisses, "Technically he told me he loved me, and then he snogged Harriet."
"After you told him to go and die in a hole," I add, always the impartial third party.
"It doesn't matter, you don't go and snog someone when you're supposed to be in love with someone else!"
I pause, frowning quizzically at her, "Are you jealous?"
"Of course I am!" she snaps, "How dare he date that slag? After he had the nerve to stop me from talking to Samuel Green!"
"I'm sure he's just doing it to get over you," I murmur comfortingly, "She's probably means nothing to him."
But Rose isn't comforted, "Does it look like that to you?"
And before I can stop her, she swoops out from underneath the cloak and into the middle of the pub.
The people at the nearest table are staring at her, at the girl who has just materialized out of thin air.
"What are you looking at?" Rose hisses, before marching off to the other end, thankfully away from Ray and Albus' table.
Should I be keeping the cloak on at this point? I'm assuming that, since Rose has gone off to have a tirade, our top secret mission has been aborted. I should probably continue spying on Albus and Ray, who we've been ignoring ever since Rose crashed into Harriet.
But somehow I really want to see what Rose is about to do. So I follow her through the pub.
Scorpius and Harriet have found a table in a far off corner, and are just getting cosy when Scorpius gets up and starts walking towards the bathroom. Rose marches after him.
I scoff quietly to myself. Honestly, what's her brilliant plan? Corner Scorpius in the men's room? Attack as soon as he reemerged? Either way, Scorpius has no idea what he's in for.
Rose is quickly getting further and further away from me. I speed up, almost completely tripping over a chair. The chair scrapes across the floor, but thankfully no one seems to notice the disturbance.
By now Scorpius has reached the deserted hallway that leads to the toilets. Rose finally catches up with him. I edge in closer so that I can hear.
"Malfoy," she hisses, tapping him on the shoulder.
Scorpius turns and sees Rose. He doesn't look smug at the sight of her livid expression, but he doesn't look very scared either.
"Weasley," he replies cooly.
"And just who do you think you are, buying that slag drinks?" she snaps.
"Free country," he says.
"You're the one who said I can't date Samuel Green. You're the one who tried to kiss me two weeks ago. Is this your way at getting back at me?"
"Yes," is his only reply.
Rose is speechless for a moment, after having suspected that he would deny any sort of ulterior motive.
"So, you're just doing this to make me jealous?" she narrows her eyes, clearly trying to get a reaction out of him.
"No. You don't want me, I get it now. I thought you'd like it if I tried to move on," he says calmly. I'm struck by the change in him.
Rose glares suspiciously, "Sure, moving on with the girl you cheated on me with."
He looks almost bored, "I didn't cheat on you. How can I have cheated on you if we have never dated?"
"You said you loved me," she hisses, "You said."
"Loved you," he puts a lot of emphasis on the past tense, "I don't get you, Weasley. I thought this was what you wanted. I thought you wanted me to leave you alone."
Rose opens her mouth to reply, before I get the shock of my life as someone taps me hard on the shoulder.
I spin around. Through the silvery material I can see Fred, peering through the material as if he can see through it.
"Hi Stella!" he grins, waving at me.
I made an attempt to run, dashing past him and trying to remain undetected, but he grabs me decisively around the middle.
Some of the people in the pub stare at Fred, who appears to be clutching empty air. He pulls the hood of the cloak off of my head and grins at me.
"You thought you could escape me. That's cute."
I shake him off angrily, brushing my disheveled hair out of my face, "How did you know it was me?"
"Well, you were following Rose around," he shrugs.
"But how did you know?"
"I heard you two whispering from a mile off. You really need lessons in spying. Plus, I've had a lot of experience with this cloak, when random chairs start scraping on the chair, I know what's going on."
I glare at him, "I was busy spying on Rose and Scorpius' argument, before you interrupted."
"Oh, sorry!" he cries eagerly, "It's OK, we can keep spying if you want. If we can find them again."
"We? There is no 'we'-," I pause, "Wait, they're gone?"
I spin around, and sure enough the corridor leading to the bathroom is now empty, and Rose and Scorpius are nowhere to be seen.
"I'm sure they'll turn up," says Fred cheerfully, slinging an arm around me, "Let's have a nice drink in the meantime."
He leads me over to the bar and we take the two vacant stools.
"Having a nice Hogsmede outing?" Fred asks casually.
"Just peachy," I growl, "Rose has gone, meaning that Scorpius is probably being murdered in the back alley, and everyone is speculating about why my boyfriend is apparently on a date with Ray."
Fred orders us butterbeers, ignoring my tirade of anger, "Rosmerta!" he grins at the pretty, but now slightly aging barmaid, who unwittingly blushes, "Two butterbeers, for me and my friend here."
"Of course," she grins. She turns away and I give a meaningful look to Fred.
"What?" he says defensively. I make the look even more meaningful and he relents, "I can't help it if women find me attractive, Stella. I didn't design this face, it's merlin's gift to all of you."
I almost dry heaved.
"So, what brings you to The Three Broomsticks?" Fred asks jovially, ignoring my dry heaving imitation.
"Me and Rose are trying to set up Al and Ray," I explain, "They're over there talking. But they can't see us, otherwise they'll know we've been spying."
"Don't worry about that," Fred grins, eyeing the pair at the other side of the pub, who are deep in conversation, "They're too preoccupied to notice us."
"At least the plan is working," I say.
Fred smirks, "Setting up Al with the girl of his dreams? Wow, you're the best girlfriend ever."
I roll my eyes at him, and sip at the butterbeer that Madame Rosmerta passes me, "Problem is, once Ray likes Al we have to break up, and Merlin knows how everyone will laugh at me then."
"I saw the egg yolk incident," Fred says grimly.
I finally look at what he's wearing. A smart dress shirt and jacket.
I snigger, "Fred, aren't you a little overdressed for Hogsmede?"
Fred shrugs unapologetically, "Hey, I've got to bring my A game for…is that your lovely friend from the hospital wing?"
I look in the direction he's gesturing to. On the other side of the bar Eve is talking to a dark haired guy who I recognize as the gorgeous Ravenclaw captain, Luke Corner.
Of course Eve is chatting to one of the fittest boys in school.
As I have recently learned, Eve isn't just annoyingly pretty, she's also fan-freaking-tastic. She's basically one of those girls.
You know the girls I'm talking about. The one's who are just so bloody perfect. Pretty, smart, cute, funny, nice, the whole package. Guys are just drawn to them, unable to resist.
It's like she's wearing essence of dude.
I frown at Fred, "Who? Eve?"
Fred doesn't take his eyes off her, "Yep." And before I can stop him he's gotten off his barstool, and is swaggering towards her and Luke Corner.
I call after him, "Oh Freddie don't go over there."
Too late. Fred shoves himself between Luke and Eve, turns to Eve, completely blocking Luke's view.
Eve recognizes Fred and stares, speechless, waiting for him to explain his rude behavior.
"Hi, Eve, right?" he says charmingly.
"Yes," she replies slowly, "What do you want?"
He holds out a hand, letting out a little chuckle, "Bond. James Bond."
Luke raises his hand in outrage. I don't blame him. Hell, if someone stood in front of me so they could chat up the girl i was talking to, I would be pretty annoyed myself.
Eve doesn't find Fred's advances funny, despite his blissful smirk that I myself have known to be quite infectious.
"Off. Piss off," is her cold reply.
Fred isn't fazed, "Pleasure to meet you," he puts out his hand again.
"Weasley, go away," Eve snaps, losing her patience, "I don't have time for this."
"Seriously mate, what's your problem?" Luke asks, forcing Fred to turn around and face him.
"My problem?" he smirks, "Is there something wrong with introducing myself to Eve?"
"If you're invading all of our personal space, then yes, there is," Luke replies angrily.
I grab the corner of Fred's sleeve, and apologize profusely to Eve, "Sorry, I'm so sorry. Come on Freddie."
I give his sleeve a jerk and pull him away.
"Lovely to meet you!" he smiles at Eve, "You're really-"
"Enjoy the rest of your drink!" I cut across him, "Sorry again!"
I drag Fred out of the Three Broomsticks by the ear, with him crying out in pain every step of the way.
"Ouch Stella!" he cries, "That hurts!"
Once we're outside I hit him hard on the arm.
"You prat!" I snap, "You can't just hit on someone like that?"
"Why not?" he shrugs.
"Why not?" I repeat incredulously, before smacking him on the arm again.
"Stop doing that!" he whines.
"Just…go up to the castle, Freddie."
"Hey! You can't tell me what to do!" he pouts.
"Then go and amuse yourself in Zonko's," I relent.
He looks excited, "Will you lend me a sickle so I can by a sugar quill?"
He has the mind of a four year old, but I sigh, slapping a sickle into his outstretched palm.
"Now remember," I smirk, "Don't accept sweets from strangers, look both ways before you cross the road, and don't do anything stupid."
"Yes mum," he rolls his eyes, before taking off for Zonko's at top speed.
I shake my head at him, before looking up and down the busy street for any sign of Rose or Scorpius. Hopefully Rose will look peaceful and approachable, and Scorpius will look…well…alive.
I glance back at the pub, and am surprised to see Luke Corner coming out. He's holding the cloak in his outstretched hands.
"I think this is yours," he hands it to me, "You left it at the bar."
I accept it gratefully, thinking of any possible consequence should James find out Rose and I stole his most precious possession, "Thanks."
There's an awkward pause. What is it about fit quidditch captains? I can't seem to string together a coherent sentence when I'm around them.
Suddenly he gestures over my shoulder, "So...is Weasley your boyfriend, or something?"
I glance back at Fred, who has now begun to skip towards Zonko's out of pure happiness, "Who? Fred? No!" I almost laugh.
"Good, because that would have been painful if you had been, what with him hitting on Eve like that."
I nod, "Sorry about that…again. He hasn't been trained well enough to go out in public yet."
He gives a small smile.
"Eve isn't…your girlfriend?" I wonder, half hoping that she is, because that'll mean that she is off limits to Fred and, more importantly, James, but also half hoping that she isn't, because Luke Corner is really, really fit.
"No," he shakes his head, "She's my potions partner. We just wanted to meet to talk about our next project."
I nod, and there's another awkward silence.
"Sorry, I didn't catch your name," he says politely.
"Stella," I reply, just managing to stifle a squeek, "Stella Wood."
He nodded, recognizing my name, "Right. The old Gryffindor keeper. I'm Luke."
I almost scoff. Of course I know who he is! The fact that he assumes that I wouldn't just shows how humble he is.
"You were pretty good," he says, "My chasers always had a tough time against you. Why did Potter have retrials?"
"I quit," I reply, "It was a…personal thing."
He nods, "I heard you're dating Albus Potter now."
I grimace, "Yeah."
"Sorry, bit personal."
I shrug, "I don't mind. No one else is apologizing for throwing eggs at my face."
I can tell that our brief conversation is over, and I kind of wish I hadn't mentioned the eggs. Now he's looking at me a bit strangely.
"Well…it was nice to meet you," he says, before nodding politely and going back inside.
"Yeah…you too," I murmured feebly.
He walks back into the Three Broomsticks and I clasp my hand to my forehead, jumping up and down in frustration.
I stop when I realize that he can still see me through the open door, and is still looking oddly at me.
"Just wanted to…warm up," I chuckled weakly, "Generating body heat, and all that."
He replies with a weak smile, before almost running away.
I roll my eyes at myself. It's official. Me and Quidditch captain's are not a good combination.
After bundling the cloak into my bag, I realize I haven't paid for the butterbeers. I make my way back into the crowded pub, and give Madame Rosmerta the money. But before I turn to leave again, I notice Rose and Scorpius, finally reemerging from the corridor that I had lost them from.
"Where the hell have you two been?" I hiss.
Rose looks utterly disgruntled, and Scorpius looks more angry than I've ever seen him.
"Nowhere," Rose mutters, "Let's just go."
"I'm going back up to the castle," Scorpius says, and it is clearly not an invitation.
"Great," I say, "Let's all go up there now."
"I have to go to…Honeydukes," Rose mutters, "But you two go. I'll see you later, Stella."
Scorpius is already pushing his way towards the front door, wanting to get as far away from Rose as quickly as possible.
"Come on, before Ray and Albus notice us," Rose hisses.
We move quickly through the crowd, but not before I catch another glimpse of Ray and Albus, still sitting together at the table, and still absorbed in a conversation that both of them are finding very funny.
"Laughter looks weird on Ray," Rose mentions, voicing the exact thoughts that are passing through my mind.
It's an almost complete transformation. Ray is so cut off, so guarded. I mean, this is the girl threatened to cut a guy's nipples off because he tried to feel her up at last year's quidditch victory party. Now she's sitting with Albus, laughing as though he's the funniest person on earth. Which he isn't, trust me.
"Do you think she likes him?" I ask.
"Maybe," Rose whispers, "Let's hope so."
Once we're outside, Scorpius, completely ignoring Rose, starts walking up the road that leads towards Hogwarts.
"You sure you have to go to…Honeydukes?" I raise my eyebrows at Rose, who blushes deeply.
"Yeah," she replies, "You go with Scorpius."
I nod and jog casually to catch up with Scorpius.
"Going up to the castle?" I ask feebly, because his face is completely thunderous.
"Yes," he answers shortly.
Theres a pause, where all you can hear is the tread of our feet on the ground.
"So, you and Rose, are you cool now?" I ask.
"Does it look like we're cool now?" is his mocking reply.
"Well, no, not really, that question was more a prompt for you to tell me what went on in the fifteen minutes you disappeared, because I'm pretty clueless. And now you seem pretty mad, and she just seems nervous, and it'd be pretty cool to know why-"
"Stop rambling, Stella," he snaps.
"Stop being all angry and defensive," I retort.
"You're being defensive right now!"
We've come head to head with another couple walking down the street in the opposite direction. To my horror I see it's James and the girl who we will henceforth know as Evil McBitchface.
Okay fine, so my unrequited love for her date has made me extremely vindictive. But right now I don't care.
Evil McBitchface smiles at us, and tugs at James' arm to steer him around us. But he doesn't move. He stands stock still, and I look down at the ground in embarrasment.
"Hi," he says, eyes clamped on me.
"Hi," I mutter, not looking him directly in the face, but I can feel his gaze penetrating me.
"Hi," Scorpius adds, frowning at the pair of us.
"Hi," James replies, still not taking his eyes off me. I'm beginning to feel extremely uncomfortable.
There's a strange pause.
Finally, I can't take much more, "Come on, Scorpius," I grab Scorpius' arm and drag him around James and Evil McBitchface, who looks confused. The tension snaps, and I feel like I can breathe again.
"Who was that?" she whispers to James.
"No one," I hear him reply simply.
I ignore my thumping heart. So that's it. Now I'm no one. He doesn't even know me anymore.
I let out a little sigh.
"That was weird," Scorpius says, frowning at me.
"It was," I agree begrudgingly.
I march him purposefully up to the Hogwarts castle gate.
"Are you going to tell me what happened with you and Rose?"
"Just drop it, Stella," he sighs.
He doesn't seem angry anymore, only isolated and disinterested.
We don't talk for the rest of the walk, but Rose is always on our minds.
* * *
Later that evening, when everyone has returned from Hogsmede and still buzzing about the events of that day, Rose and I sit in silence at the dinner table in the great hall. Rose is unusually subdued, occasionally stealing glances over my shoulder at the Slytherin table.
I look in the direction she's looking, to see Scorpius sitting with his mates and eating casually. He glances in our direction, sees me and Rose staring at him, and looks away immediately.
I look back at Rose, "So, what happened?"
She looks nonchalantly at me, "What happened when?"
I narrow my eyes suspiciously, "Don't give me that. You and Scorpius disappeared for fifteen minutes, and when you reappeared he was angry and you were embarrassed. What happened?"
She shrugs, "We talked."
I open my mouth to argue some more, but Albus slides into the seat beside me, a dreamy look on his face.
"Thank…you…so…much," he whispers reverently.
Both Rose and I grin unanimously.
"Did you have fun?" Rose asks, grinning happily.
Albus closes his eyes and leans his forehead onto the table heavily.
"You two are evil," he groans, "Now, thanks to you, I'm more in love with Ray than before."
I pat him consolingly on the arm, "I'm very, very sorry Albus."
"She's so amazing," he says, "You have no idea. As soon as we sat down for drinks it was like she was a different person," he gazes dreamily into the distance, "A different, amazing, beautiful, incredible person."
It's Ray, standing on the opposite side of the table from Albus and I, looking mildly interested and entirely clueless.
"Hey Ray," says Rose, "Sorry we didn't show up…Stella ate a bunch of puking pastilles by mistake, it wasn't pretty."
I glare at her. Ray raises her eyebrows at me.
"Yeah," I agree, glaring at Rose, who mouths 'sorry' at me.
"It's OK," Ray gives a small smile, "Albus and I had fun today."
She looks from Rose and I, to Albus, and breaks out into a big grin. Albus' expression is undeniably one of complete infatuation.
"Yeah, we had a really good time," he grins.
"Didn't you want to show me that book you were talking about?" she asks.
"Oh yeah!" he cries eagerly, "Shall we go now, before the library closes?"
"OK," she smiles at him.
Albus gets up, looking as though he can hardly believe his luck. Rose and I are smiling to ourselves.
Ray looks at me, "You have a really great boyfriend, Stella."
I open my mouth, then close it, and eventually settle for an awkward smile. Albus chuckles weakly. He pats me affectionately, yet extremely platonically, on the back.
"Oh…Stella is great too."
"Just don't get up to anything while I'm not around," I sing, giving a little laugh to make it sound like a joke.
Ray apparently find this notion so hilarious that she bursts into a ripple of laughter. Albus gives me a short, but piercing glare.
"No worries!" Ray laughs, before beckoning to Albus, "You coming?"
She sets off for the exit, Albus mouths an extremely grateful thank you to us, before charging off after her.
Rose sighs, "Well, that's Albus' love life done and dusted."
"Yep. Looks like our fake relationship is coming to an end."
"Yep," she replies despondently, "At least he's happy."
A comfortable silence falls between us, but I feel suddenly depressed because Rose keeps stealing glances over my shoulder and I know that Scorpius is looking back at her. And in the meantime I can see James and Evil McBitchface eating dinner and looking happy.
I glare at my plate of food.
When I finally look up I catch James looking at me. He looks away guiltily, turning back to his meal, pretending as though he hadn't even looked up.
Too late. I stare blatantly at him and he doesn't look back anymore.
It's at times like this when I can't help wondering whether James really does hate me, or whether it's something else. Something that he's not telling me.
"Come on," I say to Rose, "Let's go up to the dormitory, and eat chocolate to mend our broken hearts."
Rose nods, not even bothering to deny that her heart has been broken for a long time, and without questioning who it is that's broken mine.
We walk together out of the great hall, past James, past Scorpius, and I grin. Because no matter what, I'll always have Rose.
You can imagine my surprise when, the next morning, I open my eyes to find none other than James Sirius Potter staring down at me.
"Morning Wood," he says casually.
I stare at him.
"…the fuck?" I mumble.
Is this a dream? James Potter isn't a stranger when it comes to my dreams, but even this seems to be pushing it a bit.
Instead of having a soft romantic gaze, as he does in so many of my nightly visions, his look is wild and manic.
"Come on, up!" he says, "I haven't got all day."
"I don't know what you want, Potter, but fuck the hell off," I murmur, pulling my pillow over my head.
He drags open my four poster bed curtains and light floods in, blinding me momentarily.
"It's twelve o clock," he says.
"On a sunday," I groan.
"Lazy," he says.
"Arse," I reply.
"I'm not leaving until you get up. You can't stay in bed all day."
I glare at him, "Watch me."
He sighs, "I hoped it wouldn't come to this."
And from behind his back he draws out a camera. He snaps a quick picture of me, sitting up in bed, looking like a madwoman, with hair in all directions and my eyes glaring with fury. The flash makes me blink several times.
"You…what the hell?" I grimace, rubbing my eyes, "I'm blinded!"
"If you don't get up, I will be forced to show this to everyone. And you are clearly not a morning person," he shakes his head mockingly.
I stare, feeling instantly nervous, "You wouldn't!"
He smirks, "Watch me."
He dangles the camera in my face and I make a wild grab for it. But he swings it quickly out of my reach.
"Fine," I growl, "I'm getting up. But at least tell me what it is we're going to do."
"We," He makes his way towards the door, "are going down to the quidditch pitch. I'm going to teach you how to play, and not be scared."
I stare at him, momentarily speechless.
"You have five minutes. Chop chop," he grins, before shutting the dormitory door behind him.
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