Seda awoke the next morning, and it would have been impossible for anyone to tell she had fallen asleep feeling she had sufferred her worst defeat. Seda didn't feel it herself; it was a new day, a new beginning, and Seda was excellent at putting the past behind her. Seda walked up to breakfast chatting amiably with Monalisa and Glenda Donovan.
"I have Arithmancy first period," Seda said happily. Having a pattern-oriented, no-nonsense mind made theoretical mathematics very enjoyable for her.
"You're such a nerd," said Monalisa, smiling lightly.
And Seda smiled. "Yes, yes I am."
"Do you know what you're gonna Do with that brain?" Glenda asked as she tied her curly brown hair back.
Seda shrugged. She honestly had no clue where she wanted to go in life, other than play Quidditch.
"Good morning ladies," said a sly voice. Scorpius and Malachy came up behind the three girls swiftly and walked with them up to the Slytherin table.
Seda and the girls took their seats across from the boys. As everyone tucked into breakfast, Seda found herself wandering thoughtfully. She stared almost avidly at Scorpius every time he looked away. She glanced at Malachy, who raised an eyebrow at her behavior. She bit her lip, not really seeing the long-haired boy, slowly forming a plan in her mind.
Before she knew it, there was the sound of scraping benches and before any of her friends knew what happened, Seda scooted off and hurried up to the eastern tower.
Only three people took Advanced Arithmancy classes: Ishmael Stein and Nathaniel Leonard, two seventh-year Ravenclaw boys, and Seda. There were a few more people in the regular courses, but not many.
Stein and Leonard had not arrived yet, so Seda stood in front of the window, looking into the bright sunrise as her plan formulated.
The door opened and the two boys entered. They rarely said anything to Seda unless it was work-related. Behind them the teacher, Professor Formal, followed. Seda abandoned the useless pretty sky and took her seat. It was time to focus on Calculus.
I'll focus on scheming later, Seda thought, and she put it firmly out of her mind.
Seda finished her homework early that night, allowing herself time to pluck up the courage to put her plan into action. It seemed to take her friends an age.
Finally, at ten to eleven Scorpius threw his books into his bags and collapsed into the sofa, sighing. He glanced at Seda, who was staring stonily into the vague flames in the fireplace. She felt his eyes on her, the way they always were: procuring, always longing. She focused her determination and suddenly this felt incredibly simple.
Seda turned to him, facing him fully. He looked at her rather warily.
"Scorp," she said quietly, "I think I'm ready."
Scorpius blinked, then sat up rather suddenly. His gray eyes widened, his expression was stunned.
"Are you serious?" he asked slowly.
She smiled softly. "You're right about everything. I just need to open up...Scorp, I'd like to give us a try."
Scorpius rubbed the back of his neck, staring at Seda, whose face was unusually peaceful and kind. It confused him, but his happiness clouded reason. Slowly his face broke into a smile. "Okay," he said breathlessly, grinning. "Alright. Yes, good." He picked up his bag and ran up to his dormitory after nodding curtly to her.
Seda breathed out impatiently. She didn't love the boy, but she had to do what she had to. She just wasn't quite sure if she was competing against Chey-Lin or Albus.
Malachy and Monalisa sat dumbfounded at breakfast the next morning, their meals dripping off their suspended forks identically.
"When did this happen?" Monalisa demanded. "Why am I always left out of these things? Seda, what got into you?"
"So this is your problem," said Malachy wisely to Seda. "You're left out 'cause she doesn't love you like she loves Scorp, Mona."
"Apparently," said Monalisa darkly.
"Yep. Seda Zabini is all mine now," said Scorpius proudly. He put his arm around Seda and tugged her in quickly, causing her to almost choke on a piece of toast.
Seda cleared her throat after a brief coughing fit, then regained her composure, smiling. She let Scorpius brag and boast...anything to boost his ego.
Scorpius seemed to be there all day. Not in one place, just -there-. He was by her side constantly, squeezing her hand, hugging her for five minutes straight before they parted for separate classes. With or without the girl by his side, Scorpius strutted around the castle, rubbing it in all the boys' faces and teasing the girls he knew fancied him. Seda rolled her eyes unnaturally patiently at it all.
Their deal entered the gossip whirlwind that is Hogwarts, and soon it seemed that almost everybody knew Scorpius Malfoy and Seda Zabini, after years of close friendship, were together.
It never occurred to Seda that the boy actually really loved her.
Everybody but Scorpius seemed to get the picture in a slight commotion that occurred shortly after dinner on Friday.
Seda and Scorpius stood in the entrance hall before the doorway leading down to the dungeons. Scorpius reached for her hands, gripping them tightly. "So, Sadie, what do you want to do...?"
A haze of red flew into Seda's vision. Adamant, her eyes flashed. She placed her hands on Scorpius' chest and pushed him as hard as she could; he staggered and fell back onto a suit of armour (the same one Seda had hidden behind), causing a huge ruckus as he pulled the metal form to the ground with him with much clanging and crashing.
"Seda!" he cried.
"DON'T CALL ME SADIE!" she bellowed down at him, sparks flying from her eyes, her pride roaring.
Lying half-stuck on the hard stone plinth, Scorpius stared up at his girlfriend, pain crossing his eyes.
Seda calmed down. She sighed. "I'm sorry, Scorp." She knelt down beside him and helped the boy to his feet. She saw he had cut his palm badly. "I'm sorry," she said again, now feeling guilty at losing her temper.
"No, I'm sorry," he mumbled. They were both quiet as Seda conjured a rag filled with Dittany and she wrapped it tightly around his hand. It took them a few minutes to realize several people were watching them.
"Clear off," Seda snapped at crowd.
"You're her bitch," snickered a boy. Scorpius glowered at him.
"Never mind," said Seda firmly. She placed a hand on his cheek and forced him to look at her. "I really am sorry."
Scorpius' face twitched into a smile. "It's okay."
"Hey, Seda." Scorpius approached her in the common room on Saturday afternoon. "What're we doing cooped up in the dungeons? Let's go outside. It'll probably be the last bearable day, weather-wise."
Seda looked up at him and nodded. She let him take her hand and lead her out to the grounds. She had to admit, there was something comforting in having his hand in hers, but it also made Seda feel incredibly trapped. Once outside, Scorpius slowed down. The two Slytherins put up their hoods and dug gloves out of their pockets before proceeding out to the breezy grounds. The leaves had fallen off the trees leaving them bare and naked, but Seda could have cared less about the presence of dead trees. Really, who cared about decor?
Abruptly Scorpius turned to face Seda. She stopped so they were chest to chest. Up until this point she had been avoiding getting physical with the boy; she didn't want to jeapordize their original friendship. Seda was thinking about this vaguely when Scorpius suprised her out of her wits by pulling her in tight and kissing her.
Seda pulled back, blinking awkwardly. She looked up into her friend's face: he was grinning down at her. She managed a small smile back, and soon his lips were back on hers again; they were cold from the brisk air. Seda went along, but she soon began to sense Scorpius' growing intensity. Before she knew it Scorpius had opened his mouth and pulled her in tighter. -Well-, thought Seda, firmly taking control of her shock, -Might as well give him a running for his money-.
It seemed to go on all day. Seda felt she had never engaged in a more boring activity. Not to mention, she knew herself at least somewhat, and she knew she wasn't ready for what Scorpius wanted. His lust frightened her, it turned her off ever coming within a foot of the boy again. But she couldn't back down from him...That just wasn't the way Seda Zabini rolled....
Seda was exceedingly glad when she heard laughter and amused voices. She firmly drew away, taking a couple breaths. She saw Scorpius' lips were quite swollen, and imagined what her own lips must look like.
"What's up?" Scorpius asked.
Seda looked over. She had been right in identifying the voices of Albus Potter and Chey-Lin Chang. Why was Potter always there to bring her down?
"Alright there?" Albus called.
"Spectacular," Scorpius drawled. Seda suddenly was overcome by a mad desire to burst into laughter. She cleared her throat and choked it down, keeping her face as blank as possible.
"Call me a whore," muttered Chey-Lin darkly. Albus smiled at her.
"Not a whore, just a hottie."
Chey-Lin blushed and beamed. She definitely was very pretty.
"C'mere," said Albus. He picked her up easily and she let out a little squeal. Albus laughed as he approached a large pile of brown leaves. Chey-Lin began to struggle, but she was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. She shrieked as Albus tossed her into the leaf pile, sending a little firework of brown leaves into the air. He jumped in after her, playfully throwing twigs and leaves at the girl.
Seda coldly watched Chey-Lin tackle the boy laughingly. Again she was distracted out of her thoughts when she felt hands at her waist. The next thing she knew, she was flying through the air, headed towards a never-ending pile of leaves. She managed to hold in a squeak and landed on her feet, cat like. She turned around. She could see Albus and Chey-Lin laughing at her but ignored them.
"What was that?" she frowned at Scorpius.
Scorpius shrugged. "Fun?" He grinned.
Seda couldn't help but laugh and shook her head. "Don't tell me you have to take it from Potter to make fun," she teased.
"I was trying to get you off guard," said Scorpius, and he poked her in her stomach.
She smirked up at him. "Good luck," Seda said softly.
"Hey everyone," said Seda as she entered the Slytherin changing room.
"'Ello, Captain," said Kevin Lang.
Seda looked at him calmly. "What, Kevin?"
"Tommy's in St. Mungo's," announced Lachlan. "He messed up in Potions, the idiot. It's pretty bad. And, well, you're commander-in-chief now, Zabini."
"Really now," said Seda evenly, concealing her excitement. "Well, isn't that nice! York, where's your broomstick?"
"I didn't bring it," replied York dully as he sat hunched on the bench. "We've just been sittin' here ever since it's been cold. Didn't need it."
Seda pursed her lips. "You're all to bring your broomsticks to every practice now. I guess you'll have to use the old Cleansweep in the closet."
There was an abismal chorus of whining.
"Oh, you lazy lumps," Seda snapped. "Has everyone got their wands? Just tap our wrist here and say Luminatero! It'll be like a bubble of warmth. You know, if I had my way, I'd have you all play out there without a charm to toughen you up."
"Thanks for being nice," said Sean Quinn.
Seda did a double-take. She stared at her half-brother, who was in third year. "Who the hell are you?" she said harshly. It was not the question she had meant to ask.
"Sean Quinn," he replied, raising an eyebrow. He was definitely not like Blaise at all. He probably had one of the Swedish mothers.
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm your Keeper since Morphus is out," said Sean. He frowned at her lightly.
Seda unconsciously banged her broomstick on the floor. "How long should Tommy be away for?" she asked the room at large, restlessly.
"Only a few weeks," said Hardy.
Seda sighed. "We play Ravenclaw the week before Christmas break. Blimey, that's barely three weeks from now..." She snapped into business. "Every body out!" she commanded.
Her team lumbered out of the changing room, out onto the cold pitch; but they were protected by their enchantments.
"It's suicide time," Seda announced.
"What?!" cried Sean.
"Yeah, -what-?" said Lachlan.
"Oh, you whimps! You begin at the end. You run five feet, run back. You run ten feet, run back. Fifteen, back; twenty, back; you repeat twenty. Got it?"
The Slytherins stared at her, horrified.
"Did you say Run?" asked York weakly.
Seda placed her hands on her hips and stared at the boys. "It's not going to kill you! How can you expect to be an agile flier if you can't move on the ground? Now come, on just two laps!"
They each did two laps of the suicides. By the end, everyone but Seda and Sean were desperately gasping for breath.
"Up in the air, let's go," said Seda ruthlessly. The boys groaned and clambered onto their broomsticks. They kicked off, rising slowly. "Okay," said Seda impatiently, "If you're this useless in the air, that means we need to practice. Arial suicides, now."
"Why?!" exclaimed Lang.
"It's conditioning!" Seda yelled at him. "Come on, two laps. We're looking for speed here. Make those corners sharp."
After the arial suicides, Seda had made up her mind to dedicate the practice to just conditioning. She quickly constructed excercises in her head. She had them race once around the pitch, trying to beat thirty seconds each time. She conjured hurdles and hoops in midair for the players to avoid or fly through. She worked on sharpening the turns and reflexes, making up games such as dropping some footballs for the players to dive and catch.
By the end, everyone was exhausted, even Seda.
"That," she panted, "Was amazing."
Only a few of her teammates had enjoyed the workout. Oh well, she thought wryly as she got changed, very few of them are natural fliers. We'll show 'em how to tone it.
"Mal, hold me lovingly," Monalisa cooed, putting her arm seductively around Malachy's shoulders.
"Alright, wonderful, brilliant lady," replied Malachy, and he hugged her awkwardly.
Seda and Scorpius sat across from them on the train seats, rolling their eyes. Their romance and public display of it made them the main target of jokes. Indeed, at that moment Seda was in the protective clutches of her boyfriend as the Hogwarts Express pulled away from Hogsmeade station.
"Let's go through how perfect Seda is," said Malachy in an uncanny immitation of Scorpius' drawling voice. "All Outstandings...beat Ravenclaw into a pulp, oh yes she did...and whatever I do, I can't catch her off guard!"
"Oh, shut up," Scorpius snapped.
Indeed, Scorpius and even the other two had made it a determination to poke Seda, to startle her and get an amusing reaction. So far nothing whatsoever had worked. In fact, Seda was growing tired and impatient at constantly being grabbed and snuck upon.
"Do you think we can see each other over break?" Scorpius asked. His lips were an inch from her forehead, his breath tickling her slightly.
Seda's eyes clouded. "I doubt it, Scorp. I'll probably have to spend Christmas getting to know Wife of the Year and my random siblings. Break's only thirteen days, after all."
"Okay," said Scorpius, obviously disappointed.
The train ride couldn't last long enough for Seda and all too soon it pulled up at King's Cross.
"How'd that happen so fast?" Scorpius asked.
"Good question," replied Monalisa thoughtfully. As Seda reached up to get her trunk down from the rack, there was a sharp pinch at her waist. Calmly she set the heavy trunk on the floor and turned to glare at Malachy. "If I was any other human being, I would've dropped this trunk on our heads, you know."
Malachy shrugged. "It was one last shot."
Seda rolled her eyes. She took up the handle and deboarded the train with her friends. Seda had never spent Christmas at Hogwarts, and though she didn't like the other option of home, she did not want to start being alone over the holidays.
The four friends joined the crowd onto the platform. The air was cold, but refreshing. It was exceedingly odd, Seda thought, to look around and see all her classmates wearing Muggle clothing.
Seda felt a sharp squeeze at her hip. She turned her face blandly to Scorpius and Malachy, who had failed yet again. Their eyes suddenly stared behind the girl.
"Seda," said the boys, pointing.
"I'm not falling for it," said Seda shortly. But the next moment she barely felt a tickle of breath at her ear and thought she sensed someone behind her. Then a yell sounded right next to her ear as strong hands grasped her waist, making her squirm spastically. Fear shot up from Seda's stomach and she let out a hair-raising scream as she spun around.
"Got you," Albus Potter smirked simply. "Good holidays, Zabini."
He turned and walked away. The four Slytherins stared after him, stunned; Seda's hand was apparently stuck to her racing heart.
"How the hell'd he do that?" Scorpius demanded, the first to recover.
"Good question," Monalisa repeated, her arms folded.
Seda seemed to have forgotten her hand was still on her chest. She was the most suprised out of all of them, though not the angriest. Never had Seda been caught so perfectly.
"Get a move on," said one of the guards, and the four friends came out of their shock and walked through the barrier.
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