Joella Macmillan - Darla Baker
Albus Potter - Robbie Wadge
Scorpius Malfoy - Sebastian Sauve
Delilah Winslow - Tasha Sapojnikova

Part II

In the end, Joella came to the conclusion there wasn’t any harm in observing because half of the things people did were purely for effect anyways. She could even say she was doing everyone a favor by paying attention (Joella eventually realized this was a decidedly Slytherin way of thinking and resolved to give everyone more Hufflepuffian smiles in the future to make up for it).

It wasn’t just Delilah that Albus ignored either, which was a small comfort, Joella supposed.

Rose Weasley’s close friend Saoirse Finnigan had developed a blushing, stuttering crush on Albus that had apparently originated when Saoirse had spent Christmas at the Burrow with her friend and run into Albus on his way back from the bath clad in only a towel. Rose observed the whole thing with rolling eyes (“he’s not even good at anything besides Potions, Saoirse. And he’s my cousin. It’s repulsive and I don’t want to hear one more word,” Joella had heard her say once during Arithmancy, when she had obviously had enough of her friend’s girlish chattering) and Albus, of course, was oblivious.

Joella couldn’t say the same for Scorpius Malfoy though. Scorpius guarded his friend’s time and attention with venomous jealousy and Joella almost wished Albus would get a girlfriend purely to see the look on Scorpius’ face.

Of course, Albus was no closer to having a girlfriend than he had ever been because he was still obsessing over Ambrosia Everything-In-Life-Bores-Me Vaisey.

Joella didn’t really understand what he saw in her.

Sure, she was older and had that forbidding, ‘Ice Queen of Darkness’ sort of appeal, but Ambrosia’s constant dismissal of Albus really should have had some kind of an effect by now.

It hadn’t, of course, because apparently Albus Potter was a glutton for punishment. When he had sent Ambrosia a singing valentine and she had used it to clean up a pumpkin juice spill without even even so much as blinking, Joella decided that he might actually have a mental problem that made him act like this.

Honestly, she couldn’t understand how his friends could put up with the whole thing either. He rhapsodized about her almost unceasingly, which began to grate on Joella’s nerves after just the two classes they shared with the Slytherins. At this rate, she was surprised Scorpius and Felix hadn’t snapped and tried to strangle Albus with his house tie yet.

Delilah, never one to harp on about things like that, hadn’t uttered another word about the whole thing, something Joella was grateful for, but she had been watching her friend so long that it was easy to see that her feelings never changed.

The only thing that had changed was that whenever Albus was around, instead of the delighted shine that used to show in her eyes, there was a sad sort of tightening around her mouth instead.

The tightening progressed to pin-scraped lines one Potions lesson, when Professor Merryweather suggested Delilah find a tutor before the upcoming exam. Delilah, who had long ago accepted the fact that she was rubbish at the subject and therefore exerted the minimum amount of effort required to pass each year, reacted with pure horror when Albus was his first recommendation.

Albus had been on the other side of the dungeon, in the middle of regaling an incident in the Slytherin common room that apparently involved Ambrosia, a whole kilo of glitter, several hundred packages of chocolate biscuits and an Engorgement Charm to poor Felix Nott, complete with practically an entire pantomime’s worth of gestures, and Joella physically cringed when Merryweather suggested he and Delilah switch partners for the remainder of their unit on Confusing and Befuddlement Draughts.

Packing up her things slowly, Joella sent a concerned look Delilah’s way before going to sit next to Felix (Joella had always thought Felix was beautiful in that dark, smoldering sort of way — objectively speaking of course). Her face was very nearly impassive, minus the hard lines of her mouth, and, seeing Joella’s concern, she nodded slightly to show she was all right.

It turned out that Felix was about as mediocre at potion making as she was and so Joella was too caught up in making sure the precise amount of Forget-Me-Not petals were added to their Puzzling Potion to observe Albus and Delilah together (also Scorpius had been in a catastrophically bad mood for the remainder of the class and had gone on a colossal tirade when his partner nearly splashed armadillo bile on his trousers. Joella attributed his mood to both Albus and the fact that the Falcons had lost the League the weekend before).

It must have gone well though, because as they were leaving the dungeons Albus called after them cheerfully, “I’ll see you in the library tomorrow afternoon!” and Delilah very nearly smiled.

As they walked into the Hufflepuff common room, Joella had elbowed Delilah playfully in silent curiosity.

“It’s nothing,” she shrugged. “He said my advice in Transfiguration helped a lot and he was happy to return the favor.”

That was a very Slytherin sentiment, Joella allowed. Never relying on unanswered favors, never doing something for nothing.

Then Delilah actually did smile, even if it was only down at her hands, as she said, “And he promised I’d get at least an E on the next exam even if we had to spend every night studying between now and then.”

Of course, just because Albus was trying to tutor Delilah on Potions did not mean he suddenly dropped his unhealthy obsession with Ambrosia I-only-have-two-facial-expressions Vaisey and flew into Delilah’s waiting arms like a long lost dove.

In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Joella had overheard from Marcella Goyle that he had crammed the whole Slytherin common room full of flowers for her birthday — to the extent that none of his housemates could get in or out all day. He had also apparently forgotten Ambrosia was highly allergic to flower pollen and the subsequent swelling of her nose was the first time Joella could honestly say she nearly saw emotion on her stupid impassive face.

Unfortunately, his apology for the incident was summarily rejected (to the surprise of absolutely no one) when Ambrosia, catching sight of Albus standing in front of the Slytherin house table dressed up as a giant chipmunk (“I told you she was taking the mickey when she said that was her favorite animal,” Joella overhead Felix saying later), turned around and walked straight back out the double doors into the Entrance Hall.

At the sight of Albus standing there looking crestfallen, holding chocolates and wearing a damn chipmunk animal suit, Joella felt something in her heart squeeze in sympathy. She tried to push the feeling away, because he should have known that would happen after the hundreds, no, thousands of times Ambrosia had rejected him, but she couldn’t. On one level, she admired his persistence, but in all honestly, it was mostly because he just looked so damn pathetic.

Staring at the doors still swinging from Ambrosia’s departure dejectedly, Albus heaved a deep sigh and shuffled back to his regular seat next to Felix and Scorpius. He opened the spurned box of chocolates. “Want one?”

“No, I most certainly do not want one of your reject chocolates,” Scorpius said loudly, his voice sounding a bit shrill and Joella took a moment to study him. Wracking her brain, she tried to think of anything that might be causing his bad temper. Nothing obvious seemed amiss: his jumper was cashmere, in his signature shade of forest green, his blond hair immaculately coiffed and his coffee cup looked full. That just left… Albus.

“Scorpius,” Felix said in his low voice, “What the hell? What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me? It’s not me there’s something wrong with!”

Delilah, who had been determinedly ignoring Albus’ ridiculous animal getup up to that point, had frozen with a spoonful of steak and kidney pudding halfway to her mouth — along with the rest of the population of Hogwarts.

His eyes a bit wide, Joella saw Felix turn to Albus and set a stack of biscuits on his plate. “Don’t worry about it, Al. She’s done that to you loads of times before and you haven’t given up yet. I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end.”

Albus grabbed a biscuit and began to munch on it hesitantly. “You really think so?”

“No.” Scorpius practically spat the word and everyone in the Great Hall flinched in unison. Joella watched the bright patches of anger bloom on his cheeks and prepared herself for the explosion. “When are you going to give this whole thing up, Al? Are you ever going to get it into your thick head? No matter what you do, no matter what stunt you pull or what you say, Ambrosia Vaisey is never going to like you.”

The whole Great Hall drew a collective gasp.

“What the bloody hell is your problem?” Albus said, throwing his half-eaten biscuit down on the table. His voice was dangerously close to enraged (which, Joella could secretly admit, was still vaguely hilarious when combined with the chipmunk suit) and Felix looked back and forth between his two friends like an alarmed puppy. “Why are you always like this about her? Or about any girl, for that matter?”

“Maybe I wouldn’t get like this if you picked someone you actually had a chance with!”

Albus looked so furious his chipmunk ears were trembling and his voice went dangerously low. Joella strained her ears and heard him say, “What’re you saying, Scorpius?”

“What I’m saying,” Scorpius practically snarled back, his face twisting with anger, “is that you need to grow up and get over it.”

Joella was sure that what happened next was an accident (well, she was pretty sure anyway), but it really seemed too perfect not to be on purpose. As if to punctuate the end of his sentence, Scorpius had brought his hand down hard to slap the table — and had ended up hitting the edge of his pudding plate instead.

Whether or not it was intentional, the entire school watched in horror as Scorpius’ treacle tart went flying and landed right on Albus’ face.

Everything was very still for a moment as Albus wiped tart out of his eyes. Someone, probably a first year, let out a tiny peel of laughter before being quickly quieted and Joella felt herself cringe at the tension that hung in the air.

Then all hell broke loose.

Joella saw Albus lunge at Scorpius, who was angry enough that he didn’t squawk, flail and jump out of the way like he normally would have (in fact, Felix was the one that jumped, flailed and squawked, having been caught in the middle of the whole thing), and the two boys fell backwards off the bench and ended up rolling around on the floor in a whirling ball of fists and enough flying expletives to make a pirate weep.

Everyone else, including the teachers and headmaster, looked on at the fist fight in frozen horror until suddenly someone cried, “Stop!”

The boys brawling on the floor were unresponsive and Joella glanced to the side to see if Delilah had clawed her face off in anxiety yet — except her friend wasn’t there. She looked around frantically, searching for Delilah’s blonde head of hair.

“Albus, please! Stop it!” Joella’s eyes locked on the speaker and she saw, with a shock, that it was Delilah standing over the fighting boys. Instead of stopping, Albus punched Scorpius hard in the nose and Delilah pulled her wand out of her sleeve, finally forcing them apart with a disarming spell.

The hood of Albus’ chipmunk suit had fallen off, revealing his messy head of hair (Joella suspected Scorpius might have resorted to hair-pulling at some point) and his left eye looked a little black. Scorpius’ favorite jumper was liberally smeared with treacle.

Still panting, he put his fingers to his nose for a moment and then removed them gingerly to get a better look. “Am I… bleeding?”

“I hope you are, you right bastard,” Albus choked, trying to adjust the suit hood so it wasn’t attempting to asphyxiate him. “Throwing your treacle tart at me — ”

“That was an accident — ”

“Right, then so was me punching you in your stupid bloody nose!”

“Thanks to you, my nose is bloody, you enormous prat — ”

Delilah cut the argument short again, her eyes blazing with an intensity Joella had never seen before. “Why on earth are you two fighting?”

Even while he was sitting on the floor covered in his own dessert, Scorpius managed to look down his nose at her. “I don’t see how that is any business of yours.”

“Look. I know you think I’m just some random Hufflepuff who’s good for absolutely nothing except… free biscuits or something, “ Albus’ expression brightened at the word ‘biscuits’, but he went back to sulking when she continued, “but you made it everyone else’s business when you decided to act like a right prat in the middle of dinner, so you can wipe that superior look right off your face.”

Albus wiped another bit of treacle out of his eyes and looked up at her as though he didn’t believe what he was seeing. “Delilah, don’t -- ”

“What’s going on?” James Potter, Head Boy extraordinaire, had made his way over to the Slytherin table at last. Scorpius looked up at both he and Delilah, lip curling in a hard line and James looked down at him much the same way, except his scarlet hair gave the impression of his head being on fire.

James Potter was a rather predictable personality, as far as Joella could tell. As Head Boy, he was pretty fair, even if he did often forget the existence of the Hufflepuff house entirely, and she didn’t think it was ever on purpose. He liked red currant jam on nearly all of his breakfast foods, spoiled his younger sister Lily like anything (though he would deny it if intensely questioned) and had been dating the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain Madeline Entwistle for the last year and a half. James had also (ever so stereotypically) never really accepted the fact that Albus was friends with Scorpius Malfoy, and required nearly two years to be talked around to Albus being sorted into Slytherin in the first place.

Over James’ shoulder, Joella watched Delilah flush a deep red, either from embarrassment or the fact that Albus had actually remembered her name this time, and the foreign fire went out of her eyes. Seeming to realized what she’d just done, Joella could almost see her friend begin caving inwards, like a piece of human origami, creasing and creasing until she was bound too tightly to unfold — a tiny shape made of pale skin and bones and wide eyes.

James, in that silly way he had of always trying to do the right Head Boy thing and failing, looked at Delilah and said, “Thanks for breaking them up, er…”

His ears turned the same brilliant red as his hair as he looked at her, mouth open and face blank. Joella realized that he couldn’t actually remember Delilah’s name and decided that a bad memory for names must be a Potter family trait.

Scorpius scoffed and stood up, grabbing James’ attention again, and Delilah shrank away into the crowd of students that had formed until she was out of Joella’s sight.

“If you’re too stupid to see that that it’s never going to work, Al,” Scorpius snarled the name like it tasted rotten and Albus recoiled at his tone, “then I don’t want to stay around and watch you fail. Instead, I think I’ll just leave you to it.”

With more dignity and indignation than anyone should have been able to muster with a bloody nose and a treacle coated jumper, Scorpius fixed his hair fastidiously and, with one last withering look, flounced away into the crowd.

James offered a hand to his brother and Albus, face sour as he watched the students part like the Red Sea in the face of Scorpius’ snarling rage, took it.

“I hate to say it, but maybe he’s right, Al. Maybe you should just move on.”

Albus straightened the collar of the chipmunk suit again and breathed hard through his nose, mouth set in a hard line. “You’ll see. Everyone will. I’ll get her one day. I’m not going to give up.”

And that, everyone seemed to decide, was that.

A/N: So the little nextgen romp has ended up in a full-out brawl, haha. The ridiculousness of this story still amazes me sometimes. Anyway, what do you think about Scorpius’ outburst? And Delilah? Do you think Albus will end up winning the stone-cold heart of Ambrosia? I’m sure he’ll try is hardest lol.

Diclaimer: As always, the wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing you recognize. 


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