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Chapter 5 : Roxanne, Ravenclaws, and Rather Random Replies
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The creak of the dungeon door gave me away, and Albus turned his head to see me standing in the doorway, his expression momentarily startled. I stood stock still for a moment, a considerable part of me considering running, even though another part of me was screaming for me to not be such a coward.
“Hello.” He said, after a brief pause, simply, and in a surprisingly calm voice, that was almost ... friendly?
“Hello.” I replied weakly, uncertain. Where was angry Albus? I had kind of come to expect yelling when he was around...
I tentatively walked towards the front row, where Albus was still sitting, silently watching me. His gaze so strong that I felt uncomfortable and started to look at my toes as I shuffled along, feeling a blush creep up my face.
I dumped my stuff roughly onto the table, and annoyingly even the loud clatter didn’t stop him just looking at me. I sat down in the seat beside him and coughed awkwardly. “So...” I began, entirely unsure of what to say. A weird burbling fear was deep in my stomach; half of me was scared of what Albus would say to me, the other terrified of what I would say to him.
“Terrabitch hates me.” Albus said, finishing my sentence with a grimace.
I heard a soft chuckle escape my lips before I could stop it, my lips turning up in a vague smile. The nickname was a good one, I’d use it in future - Roxy would surely like it too. But wait, this was still Albus Potter. Could I really just laugh with him? I’d all too recently discovered I wasn’t over him, but there was still a lot of water that had to go under that particular bridge. I frowned, foraging for a quill and parchment.
“Hmm. That’s not really why we’re here.” I said, flatly, still pulling out all the necessary supplies for the tutoring session, trying to focus on the task at hand.
“Oh?” Albus asked, raising one eyebrow quizzically, appearing slightly unsettled.
“We’re here because you’re failing. You. It really has very little to do with Turravitch.”I said shortly, not really sure why I was defending a teacher I also hated, not sure why I was being antagonistic, just... not sure.
“A bit harsh there Calvert...” he muttered, visibly shocked.
“You’re one to talk.”I replied sharply. It was out before I could stop it, the sentence seeming to reverberate around the empty dungeon. Albus was silent for a moment, and I was too. For a second I considered apologising, though I didn’t, for the words were so true, retracting them would have been...wrong. Clearly he had become all too accustomed with me being a doormat.
I saw something flicker in his eyes, and sure it was anger, I braced myself for an onslaught, but nothing came but a thin whisper:
“I know.” he croaked.
I could’ve let it slide, but it was like confusion had changed me, suddenly I didn’t care, and words just kept spilling out of my mouth.
“But that’s just it; you don’t know anything about me.” He had yelled it at me, but all he got in return was this bitter, bleak statement as I fiddled with my quill, avoiding his eyes. I could hear the disappointment in my voice, and had to think for why it was there. That was what it boiled down to I supposed. Disappointment. I’d had a conception of who Albus was and he’d failed to come through. I’d thought we could have got to know each other better; I’d looked forward to the prospect, and now...things had changed.
“I know.” He repeated, suddenly grabbing my wrist to stop me focusing on tapping my quill. I looked at him, blinking stupidly, feeling like a rabbit in the headlights. The tables had turned, and it was the weirdest thing I’d experienced yet.
“I know I was pig-headed. I was an idiot. Completely. I realise that now.”
“What?” I breathed, my heart beginning to pump unnecessarily fast.
“That night in August, you just um, shocked me I guess. I jumped to conclusions; Roxy passed me your silly little note and I assumed the summer had all been some secretive, childish plan hatched by you and her. I assumed everything had been fake, for you were just another fan girl, invading my private life for personal gain. Do you know how many stupid, meaningless love letters I get every month?” He paused, shaking his head in annoyance, breathing heavily before continuing.
“But I assumed the worst of you, you said it yourself. And that’s what made me see!” He ran his hands through his black hair in flustered frustration; but oddly, I didn’t think he was frustrated at me.
“See what?” I asked softly, my voice coloured by confusion.
Albus sighed, obviously slightly exasperated that I hadn’t understood his explanation. This made me slightly exasperated that he hadn’t expressed himself clearly, but I listened on anyway.
“Now I see that you think they’re just as bad as I think they are. That you’re as fake as ...hell, you’re not even remotely fake. You’re completely genuine, and I was completely wrong.”
“So this....is an apology, Potter?”
“Yes....I suppose it is.” He muttered, his face flushing slightly pink.
For a moment I was completely shocked; and my mouth probably hung open for a few seconds too long. Albus just looked at me, trying to gauge my response. Behind his glasses his emerald eyes were searching and pleading, and I felt uncomfortable again, my cheeks burning once more. I was becoming an embarrassed muddle of a person, too confused and shocked and relieved to form a coherent sentence. There was silence for a moment, one of those strange moments where time doesn’t seem to exist, but that gave me time to gather myself. His hands were still gripping my wrist, but less tightly now, gently, his hands soft on my skin. Albus appeared to be thinking hard about what to say next, whereas I couldn’t even think. My mind seemed to spin through every different emotion, like a weird thought washing machine, before eventually settling on happy. Happy!
After a while, though I could not tell you how long, Albus coughed once and began to continue, with an air of dogged determination. “So I was hoping, perhaps idealistically, maybe, that you would, um, forgive me, and that you would, um– “He begun to stutter quite badly by this point so I thought I’d end his misery, it seemed cruel to watch him struggle.
“No, it’s alright, I accept your apology. You don’t need to say any more, it’s ok, I understand. Friends?” I said, my voice as matter-of-fact as I could make it, trying to disguise the crazy happiness (Happy!)I now felt that Albus was no longer angry at me, and that we were on speaking terms, albeit slightly awkward terms. I slid my hand out of his grasp and offered it to him, giving him a small, restrained smile which I hope conveyed forgiveness, without making me look so happy (Happy!) that I looked like I belonged in a mental asylum. My heart began to thump loudly in my chest; I was praying he would accept my peace offering and things could be somewhat normal again.
A flash of uncertainty (?) crossed Albus’s face, before it was wiped away by a wide smile that made his eyes sparkle. “Friends.” He said, before firmly shaking my hand. Strange, I thought as I let go of his hand, but internally I was still dancing a happy (Happy!) dance because some sort of resolution had been achieved. Friendship would be nice. Friendship I could deal with.
Smiling slightly to myself I turned my head back towards the front the classroom, eyes wandering, my hands fiddling with my hair, still suffering a degree of scatterbrain. “So, um, we’d better do some Potions I suppose.” I suggested, all of sudden aware that curfew was fast approaching and both our heads were on the line if some tuition did not occur.
“I suppose we better had.” Albus agreed, pulling a face that I couldn’t not chuckle at, and picking up his quill in readiness.
With that we set to work. I quizzed him steadily about the properties of various magical ingredients for a good hour; glad that the task had got us far away from the realms of awkward conversation, and away from the risk of spoiling a good thing. He was actually a surprisingly good tutee, though I could tell he was sometimes frustrated at ingredients having multiple names, and having names that sounded annoyingly similar to the names of other, completely different, ingredients. But he listened attentively and he appeared to understanding me, which was a relief, as it meant hopefully Terrabitch would have no reason to attack us when we next crossed his path.
And later, having finished up with ten minutes left before curfew, we ambled up the stairways in a companionable silence that was so natural, so normal, that I just wanted to dance all over again. We parted ways on the fifth floor, Albus saying thanks and giving me a small wave of farewell, along with a beaming smile, before turning and making his way back towards the Slytherin common room, many floors below.
I smiled unconsciously in return and watched him disappear around the corner. Alone, I was suddenly surprised that this goodbye had not happened before, in the dimly lit dungeons.
Strange, I thought as I walked towards my dormitory; but then, the whole day had been.
A/N: I feel so stressed about this chapter, I still don’t know if it’s how I want it but we’ll see. It’s super short as well, but it seemed like a lot happened to me, so...it just ended haha! And yay, an average, home-made banner :P I just wanted to put a face to some names, I know it’s not great. *shrugs* Anyway, hope you enjoy and please review! I will love you for it :)
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