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I blinked once. Maybe I was still asleep. Yeah, that’d be a nice solution to this newest mess I had somehow managed to rope myself into. But after blinking my eyes several more times, the only thing that changed was that there seemed to be a considerable amount of water in them. So no chance that I was dreaming. “Erm,” I choked out, when I realized the problem wasn’t just going to disappear.

Kat, meanwhile, was looking stunned. And, I will admit, she had a good reason to be. Scorpius Malfoy was, after all, standing behind her looking as if he was ready to devour her, silky chestnut hair and all.

Al sighed. “I asked if you wanted me to test it. I asked, didn’t I? I did,” he answered his own question.

“Test what?” Kat hissed. “James, what is he talking about?”

I was almost too frenzied to notice that she had called me James. But not quite. “Nothing. Just let me handle this.” I got to my feet. “Excuse me, Mr. Malfoy. Can I help you?”

“If you can tell this beautiful lady that I have never loved anyone more in my whole life, then yes, I’d say you can help me.”

Damn. This was so so much worse than I had thought. “Right. Well, see, that’s not gonna work. Because you, in all actuality, don’t really love her. You love Edwina Bleazle.” I gestured to the poor Slytherin girl sitting some yards away, meekly eating her lunch.

“Edwina who?”

Clearly something had gone wrong with the potion.

“Bleazle,” Eddie repeated, getting to his feet too, and turning around to face Malfoy.

“No, mate,” I whispered. “Let me take care of this. We don’t want the teachers to notice anything’s going on.”

“Potter, will you please explain what in Merlin’s name is going on? What don’t we want the teachers to notice?” Kat was looking visibly worried. And she had called me Potter again. Things were looking down.

Malfoy’s face was getting considerably redder by the second. “I love you, Katherine Willoughby!” he exclaimed to the room at large, spreading his arms wide.

Further down the Gryffindor table, Rose jumped up. “Excuse me?” Her voice was shrill. She stalked towards us, hands on her hips. “What did you just say, Scorpius?”

“Oh my Merlin,” Al muttered, dropping his head into his arms on the waiting table top.

“Don’t just sit there,” I hissed at him. “Do something! Can’t you reverse the potion?”

“Reverse it?” he shrieked, sounding rather like a first year girl who discovered a spider in her sink. “This isn’t some second year spell, James, this is a love potion!”

“Love potion?” Kat’s voice was a mere whisper, her eyes dangerous. “Oh my Merlin.”

“Would people please stop using that phrase?” I requested, more than a bit annoyed at this point

Malfoy, however, didn’t seem to notice that anything was in the least bit out of the ordinary. He blatantly ignored Rose and the anger dripping from her every orifice, and reached out his hands to grasp Kat by the shoulders, wrenching her off the bench. “Why can’t you see how much I love you?” he shouted at her.

“Hold it right there,” I commanded, leaping on top of the table and knocking various platters aside in the process, my foot landing in the dish of potatoes. I could feel gravy seeping through my shoe. Damn. “Get your hands off her.”

Far from obeying me and getting his smarmy hands off my woman, Scorpius got his lips involved too, planting them firmly on top of Kat’s. I resisted the urge to scream like Rose was doing and instead leapt off the table and punched Malfoy in the gut. Let me tell you, he let go of Kat like she was on fire.

Before I could get another good hit in though, I heard Al yell from behind me, “Stop it right now!” And then he was grabbing my shoulders, and suddenly Luke was running down the aisle, stepping between Malfoy and me and trying to help Al push me down onto the bench. Ed was restraining Malfoy from going after Kat, patting him on the back and trying to convince him it was all just a trick, while Rose sobbed Malfoy’s name over and over again, much too loudly. Kat stood behind me, her blue eyes wide and she seemed more than bit scared.

And in the background of all this melee, I could hear Headmistress McGonagall’s harsh Scottish brogue. “What in Merlin’s name is the meaning of this?”

“Will everyone stop using Merlin’s name!” I yelled, feeling overwhelmed by it all. The Hall fell deadly silent.

I could feel all the eyes on me as Minnie strode towards us, her wand out.

“Now, Minnie, I don’t think there’s any need for wands,” I heard Luke say, stepping out from in front of me and towards our livid Headmistress.

“Do not call me Minnie, Mr. Tomlinson. And there is quite a need for me to use my wand. There will be no more brawling, is that understood? All of you will follow me to my office, this instant. All of you!” There was no mistaking that tone. Minnie was having a rotten day, and she was going to take it out on us.

Oh my Merlin.

~~~

“Who will explain to me what was going on in the Great Hall a moment ago?” Our Headmistress faced us all, her face a grim mask.

We were seated in her office, all seven of us. Al, green eyes nervous like always when he’s about to get in trouble. Eddie, face sober for the first time in a long time. Luke, looking as though he was asking himself why he got himself into this mess. Rose, sobbing quietly into Scorpius’s sleeve, while he ignored her. Scorpius, staring dumbly at Kat like a man in a mirage. Kat, obviously uncomfortable with said stare and incredibly bothered by the fact that she was, for once, in trouble with Minnie. And me. Wondering what in Merlin’s name was going to happen to all of us. But, of course, I shall refrain from using that phrase anymore.

When no one spoke up, I raised my hand tentatively. “It’s rather a long story,” I began.

“I have all the time in the world, Mr. Potter.”

So that was how she was going to play it.

“See, it’s like this.” Could I charm my way out of this one? Doubtful. However, it was worth a shot.

But Minnie raised a hand before I could even begin concocting some semblance of an excuse. “Never mind. I am not interested in your twisted version of the story. I realize that there is no way I will be able to get the true story with all seven of you sitting here in front of me. You all couldn’t keep any story straight, let alone a made up one.”

There was no answer.

“Therefore, you all have a month’s worth of detention.”

A collective gasp caused the Headmistress to roll her eyes. “I believe that is very lenient of me, considering that-”

But she got no further, for then, it seemed, Malfoy could contain himself no longer. “You can’t do this! I was only expressing my love. She is my everything, the reason the sun rises and sets!” He gripped Kat’s shoulders firmly. “You can’t punish me for loving her.” And then he kissed her for the second time in the past ten minutes.

“Mr. Malfoy, what is this nonsense? Release Miss Willoughby this instant!”

When he didn’t appear to hear her, I helped Minnie out and wrenched them apart, shoving Kat behind me. “Didn’t you hear our good Headmistress?” I inquired.

“Don’t even try, Mr. Potter.” Her voice was caustic. “There is no way you’re weaseling out of this. Mr. Malfoy is not of a poetic bent. There is no question to one with a trained eye that he is under the effects of a love potion.”

Out of all of us, only Rose looked relieved.

“I cannot even fathom why such a thing has occurred. No matter what the reason, I am sure you are all equally at fault and therefore you will each have a month’s detention. Mr. Potter, you will finish your detention organizing the Clothes sale, and then you will spend the remainder of your detentions working on general upkeep around the castle, with paintings, armor, and so on.”

Could have been worse, I supposed.

“Mr. Tomlinson, Mr. Malfoy, and Miss Weasley, you three will be cleaning the Owlery.”

I glanced at Luke to see how angry he was. I could see a muscle in his jaw twitching, but he didn’t say a word. Malfoy was still too whacked up on love potion to know the difference, and Rose appeared to be too happy about spending time with her beloved Scorpius to care that she would be cleaning up owl droppings for the next four Saturdays.

“Albus, you will be spending your time tutoring the younger students in Charms and Potions.” Her eyes sparkled with what appeared to be ill-contained mirth.

Damn, did he get off easy. Minnie had a definite soft spot for my little brother. I glared at him fiercely as he gave me a wink.

“Mr. Bryant and Miss Willoughby. I am most disappointed in you two, as you are both Prefects. As you and I have had a discussion prior to this incident, Edward, I will be suspending your title as Gryffindor Prefect.”

I felt bad about that.

“You and Miss Willoughby, in addition to helping Mr. Potter with the sale tomorrow, will be helping me in my office with filing and aiding the teachers with other odd and end tasks.”

I was so happy I felt like yelling. Somehow this whole mess had worked out so Kat was helping me with the sale! I didn’t even have to get her in trouble! Although, I guess that was what I had done with the whole love potion business. But I hadn’t meant for Malfoy to fall in love with her! How had it happened? Al would know. Imagine how differently the whole thing would’ve turned out if the potion had worked right and Malfoy had fallen in love with Edwina Bleazle. I resisted the urge to sigh happily.

“You are all dismissed.” Her voice was still harsh, but she appeared to be much happier now that she had gotten her fill of meting out punishments. “Oh, and Albus, please take Mr. Malfoy down to the dungeons and ask Professor Nott to whip him up some sort of remedy. We can’t have him like this until it wears off, can we?”

“Yes, Headmistress,” Al said in his smarmy, teacher’s-pet voice.

Somehow, that whole thing had gone a lot better than I had thought it would.

~~~

We left Minnie’s office in silence. Al had to physically drag Malfoy off of Kat and rush him off to the dungeons so he didn’t kill himself over his all-consuming love of her. That love potion was strong stuff. Maybe I’d consider using it on Kat sometime. But then I’d probably screw it up again and she’d end up falling in love with Edwina Bleazle.

Before I could think of anything to say, Rose began chattering. “I am so glad that was just a love potion. I mean, to think that anything could tear apart me and Scorpius.” She sighed. “I’m just really relieved. But why’d you guys do it?”

“First of all, it wouldn’t take a love potion to see that not much can tear you and Scorpius apart,” I commented wryly. “And second, we did it because we were trying to show you that there are way better guys out there than Malfoy.”

She wrinkled her nose. “And making him fall in love with Kat does that how?”

“Well I didn’t mean for that part to happen!” I objected.

Kat looked confused. “You didn’t?”

“Of course not! Why would I do that? I meant for him to fall in love with Edwina Bleazle.”

“Well that obviously didn’t happen,” Kat said with a sniff.

“I know.” My voice got quiet. “I’m sorry.” I was apologizing for more than just this whole incident. I was apologizing for whatever it was I had done to make her hate me so much.

“It’s okay, I know you didn’t mean for it to happen.”

Eddie shrugged. “What I can’t figure out is, why it went wrong. I mean, we followed the directions!”

“Directions? Where’d you find directions to make a love potion?” Luke asked, speaking for the first time. It was good to hear his voice not directed at me in an angry fashion.

“My advanced Potions book,” Ed answered.

“Why would they put that in there?” Luke asked, shaking his head.

“No idea. If they knew there were loons like him taking that class, they’d know not to put it in the textbook,” I offered.

Luke laughed. “Good point, mate.”

So suddenly things were back to normal? Weird.

“Well, I’ve gotta go meet someone,” Kat broke into our conversation. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow for the sale.”

“Yeah, guess so,” I answered, shoving my hands into my pockets, still feeling a little bad for getting her in trouble like that.

She apparently had read my mind, because she reached out and put a hand on my arm. “And really, don’t worry about what happened. It’s not every day a girl has a guy like Scorpius Malfoy in love with her.” Her eyes sparkled playfully in the sunlight streaming in from the huge window. And then she turned and disappeared down the hallway.

“Honestly, what do girls see in that guy?” I asked rhetorically, my arm still hot from where her hand had rested.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he’s just gorgeous, and he has the most beautiful gray eyes and-” Rose’s voice was dreamy, but I had no interest in hearing her blabber on about Malfoy.

“I didn’t really want an answer, Rose. Save it.”

She shrugged. “Well you asked. See you guys later,” she said with a smile.

And then it was just me, Ed, and Luke, standing there in the hallway.

“Look, guys,” I began, turning to them both.

But Eddie didn’t wait for me to say any more. “Don’t worry about it, mate. I reckon a break from Prefect-hood will be good for me. And my parents can just live with it.”

I smiled. He, at least, knew I was about to apologize. I turned to Luke.

“Save it, Potter,” he said, holding up his hands. “I was an idiot to get so mad at you before, for no reason. I should’ve been there to save you two from screwing this whole thing up in the first place. We’re best mates, all four of us, and nothing’s gonna change that. I’m glad to be back. Even if I am stuck cleaning out the Owlery.”

We all had a good laugh at that, Luke chuckling a little less enthusiastically than Ed and me.

Suddenly, Ed stopped laughing and looked worried. “Wait a minute. Best mates, all four of us, right?”

“Right,” I echoed, wondering what he was going on about.

“But where’s Alex?”

“Right here!” Alex charged down the hallway, followed by a horde of house elves.

Ed, Luke, and I all spoke at the same time. “Oh my Merlin.”

~~~

Author's Note: So I updated again! Exciting, huh? Somehow I am managing to stay semi-on top of all my projects, and I really wanted to update this! I hope you all liked this rather adventure-full chapter! Please leave a review, it'd make my day to hear what you all thought :)

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