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Masquerade by Up and Away
Chapter 10 : The Heart of the Matter
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 4

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 “We just grew apart.”

“Not as friends, just as lovers,”  Mr. explained.  Although the awkwardness was palpable in the room, the two teens comported themselves well and made sure to assure this reporter that they and their families would remain close, despite the shocking breakup.  For a duo famous for their tumultuous on-again-off-again relationship, Ms. Hinds and Mr. Potter took pains to establish that they were, in fact, calling it quits for good.


“We do want to thank absolutely everyone who has been involved in our relationship,” implored Sophia Hinds.  James Potter agreed.


“So many people have been supportive over the years.  Dating in the limelight is different.  In fact, we almost felt as if we were letting people down.”


“Which is why we were so hurt about the reporters leaking the story before we were ready to come forward with it.  We wanted to be the ones to tell everyone.  If nothing else, we wanted it to come from us.”


As many will remember, James Potter and Sophia Hinds have captured the hearts and minds of the wizarding world as the hottest “it couple”  since they began dating three years ago.  Their relationship, lasting longer than some marriages, was, as yours truly mentioned in a piece memorializing the war, “ a bright beacon of hope and a representation of the next generation.”  They used their considerable celebrity to support groups such as Muggle2Magic (a nonprofit group promoting harmony between magical and non-magical communities), as well as All Creatures Equal (a lobbying foundation supporting non-wizard magical creatures).  Potter and Hinds plan to continue their philanthropic work, stating that their relationship status, or lack there of, has not diminished their passion for these causes.


But the question on every reader’s lips is:  “What’s next?”  If not an extravagant wedding, what can we look forward too from the famous James Potter and Sophia Hinds?


“Quidditch, I suppose,” replies James first, looking embarrassed.  “I’ve put in a few applications, so we’ll see.”


“He’s brilliant,” beams Hinds, supportively.  “This time next year you’ll be writing about his career, not his relationship.”


The illustrious daughter of the Minister of Magic states that she’s not quite sure yet what she wants to do.  “I’m looking at magical law,” she says, but mentions she’s still unsure.  “I don’t want Maddy (Hinds) to think I’m following in her footsteps.”


And because it couldn’t be left unasked, this reporter ventured the question:  Is the rumor about Scorpius Malfoy true?  Hinds and Potter exchanged a rueful smile.


“we’re friends,”  Hinds assures.  “And that’s all.  The reporters seemed incredibly excited when they took those pictures, as though Scorpius and I never hang out.  We grew up together.”


“I guess its hard for people to accept our split without a scandal.  Gotta sell those papers,” jokes Potter.


And there it is—the end of a three-year relationship.  Just as they were examples to other young people while they were dating, they continue to prove themselves to be exemplifying. 



“Laid it on a bit thick, don’t you thing?”  was Maddy’s only comment after she finished reading the prophet article the next morning.  Sophie lay face down on the table, miserable. 


“It’s loads better than the one in ‘Teen Witch,’”  Sophie replied without lifting her head.  The article in question was an in depth look at the secret affair of Sophie And Scoprius complete with a picture of a heart broken James with the quote,”  She broke my heart—I never saw it coming!”


Maddy, who at the wise old age of 18 refused to read Teen Witch anymore, laughed and assured Sophie that she would take her word for it. All in all, the backlash was not as bad as it could have been.  The prophet article had deflected most of the attention, turning the story from a free-for-all gossip piece into something more manageable.  There was even a picture with the piece, with James and Sophie smiling at the camera while the reporter tried to look both hard hitting and attractive (a feat she almost pulled off).  The Teen Witch article would not be believed or would be forgotten soon.  For all the big fuss she had made, this might be the least scandalous part of her fake relationship.


But Sophie was still unhappy.  Maddy was very kindly pretending that Sophie was upset about the story, but they both knew differently.  Sophie still could not get over the fight with Albus.  She knew he had been in the right to chastise her the way he had.  She had behaved terribly.  But she was so incredibly embarrassed to have behaved that way in front of him that she was unable to apologize.  In fact, she was so embarrassed that she was starting to get mad at Albus for making her embarrassed.  So instead of making up, Sophie was content to sulk around the house, making the occasional pointed comment about how “some people weren’t perfect either!”


Maddy had allowed this behavior to continue, but was wondering if she ought to say something.  Sophie had always been especially sensitive to Albus’ disapproval.  But at the same time, the two had always been great friends.  They had been fighting and making up since they were children.  They probably just needed time to work things out on their own.


Try as she might, Sophie didn’t seem to be able to ignore what he had said.  She hated the thought that Albus was so disapproving of her relationship with James.  She had known, of course.  He brought it up from time to time.  But the reiteration of his sentiments just when Sophie was feeling particularly low was distressing.  Some opinions—like the gossip writers for the Daily Prophet—didn’t matter.  But the opinion of those she loved and respected were invaluable.  That’s why it hurt so much when Albus disapproved.


Sophie poked at her oatmeal unenthusiastically as Maddy finished the paper.  After a few particularly violent stabs, Maddy decided something needed to be done.


“Sophie,” she interrupted.  “Lets go out!”


Two days later, Sophie, Roxy, Dominique, Victoire, Maddy, and Olivia (a school friend of Maddy’s) gathered at Victoire’s flat on Diagon Ally.  Hair was elaborately dressed, make-up was applied, wiped off, and reapplied to look exactly the same.  Excitement was in the air.


For Maddy, Victoire, and Olivia, who had all started jobs recently, this was the first real night out since graduation.  Roxy was a seasoned pro, but Sophie and Dom rarely went clubbing.  In fact, Sophie was kind of nervous—she wasn’t even sure what she was supposed to do on the dance floor, unless it involved a waltz or a fox trot.


To her left, Roxy was doing some warm up stretches.  Sophie sent her friend a questioning look.  “What?”  Roxy said.  “Don’t come running to me when you pull a hamstring!”


Whaton earth does she think I’ll be doing that I’ll pull a hamstring?”  Sophie mused aloud to the room at large.


“Anything you want,”  replied Victoire.  The older girl was dressed to the nines and absolutely gorgeous.  Sophie made a mental note not to stand to close to her on the dance floor.  “You know, Soph, this is one of the few times in your life anyone will forgive you for acting out.  All you have to say is, ‘I don’t know what came over me—I was just so heartbroken about Jamie.’”


Maddy shoved her friend in the shoulder, moving her out of the way of the mirror so she could apply some mascara.  “Oy, don’t give my baby sister any ideas.  Tonight is a night of good, clean fun.” 


“Yeah, good, clean fun with a little alcohol and hopefully some blokes!”  Olivia, the most outgoing and entertaining of Maddy’s friends, had just broken up with her most recent boyfriend and was the most excited about going out.


“Olivia, this will not be like Halloween sixth year,”  warned Maddy.


“What happened Halloween sixth year?”  Dominique questioned with amused interest.


“We had milk and cookies and went to bed early,”  Vic rushed to say while Maddy simultaneously burst out,”  Never you mind!” 


The three younger girls giggled as Olivia wiggled her eyebrows at her two friends.  “That’s alright,”  she said.  “I’m not up for another Halloween.”


“Alright ladies,” Victoire said, authoritatively.  “As the designated apparator of the night, I say its time to head out.”


“Meet at the Siren’s Call?”  asked Roxy, referring to the club they had decided on earlier in the night.  It was a club in Harlow which served a largely magical cliental and was, according to Roxanne, wonderful for dancing. 


“Last one there pays for drinks!” announced Dominique before promptly dissapparating.  Sophie closed her eyes, felt the familiar dizzying lurch, and suddenly, she was standing in the apparition section behind the bar.


Although it was still early, the club was beginning to buzz with activity.  There was the start of a crowd on the dance floor, but there was still room to move.  “Perfect!”  exclaimed Roxy when she saw this, and promptly abandoned her friends to begin dancing.


“You getting anything to drink?” yelled Dom after her cousin.  Roxy just waved her hand in a manner that said ‘no right now.’  Roxy rarely drank, anyway.


Maddy was already at the bar, telling the handsome barkeeper their orders.  “You’re drinking red wine on our crazy girls night out?”  Vic laughed at her friend as Maddy began passing out the drinks.  “I like what I like,” Maddy replied, unbothered. 


She handed Sophie something fizzy and blue and said,” You’ll like it.  But drink slowly.”


“You are letting me have alcohol?”  Sophie teased, feigning surprise.  Maddy stuck out her tongue and replied,”  Only if you promise to be responsible.”


“Yes mother,” answered Sophie and went off to a side table with Dom to finish their drinks and watch Roxy dance.  Sophie was not sure how—every other Weasley in existence had terrible coordination—but Roxy was a natural dancer.  At that very moment, she was doing some sort of Samba, catching the eye of everyone in the club. 


“She looks so happy,” commented Dom in an off-handed manner as she sat.  Sophie and Dom shared the opinion that Roxy’s time and talent was wasted—all she wanted to do was be some sort of social butterfly.  She had no other ambition but to go out every night, dance, and have fun.  Never mind that she was brilliant.   Roxy just wanted to marry some rich wizard and have fun for the rest of her life.


“If I could dance like that, I’d be happy too!”  Sophie giggled.  Dom laughed as well, imagining herself out on the floor and knowing it would not look anything like Roxy’s demonstration. 


“Sophie, are you really alright?”  Dom asked the question hesitantly, not making eye contact.


“Yeah,” Sophie replied out of habit.  She and Dom were friends, but if she was going to confide in anyone, it would be James or Roxy…or Albus, but that wasn’t happening, was it.  If only Albus could see her now, he would probably say something like ‘is this how a future Minister of Magic should act?  Sulking in a club when she knows she’s done something wrong?’  Actually, it was more likely he would not say anything; he would just give her that Albus-look he did when he thought she ought to be doing something she wasn’t.


“It’s not like he’s a saint!” muttered Sophie to her drink.


“What?”  Asked Dom, confused. 


“Its nothing,” winced Sophie, embarrassed.  The two sat in silence for a few seconds before Sophie burst out,”  Its just—“


“It’s just…?” Dom inquired.


“I…said something I didn’t mean.  First to Scorpius, and then to Albus.”


“Rose told me,” Dom said, and Sophie wasn’t surprised.  Rose and Dom were actually very close, considering they were only cousins.  “It was perfectly understandable.  You were under quite a lot of stress.  And you apologized—sometimes that’s all you can do.”


ImightnothaveapologizedtoAl,” muttered Sophie indistinguishably into her drink, purposefully not meeting Dom’s eyes.


“What?” her friend asked in genuine confusion. 


“I didn’t actually apologize to Al, per say.”


“Why not?”  Dom didn’t seem to be judging, only curious.


“At first, I was just so mad.  But now…I said something horrible and acted terribly.  I’m not sure I can face him after that.”


Dom snorted into her drink.  “Sophie, Albus has done much worse.  He can’t exactly blame you for losing your temper now and again.  Do you remember the time in his second year when he was so mad at James that he broke his new broomstick?”


“I’d forgotten about that.”


“How could you,” Dom commented dryly.  “James brings it up every single time Al asks to borrow his broom, even now.  We all do rubbish things now and again.”


“Dom, what if he doesn’t forgive me, though?”


Dominique waved it off as an impossibility.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  This is Albus we are talking about—you’ve been friends since he was in diapers.  He is physically unable to ignore your apology.  Now, Sophie, you will stop sulking and come dance with me.”


“But I’m a terrible dancer,” Sophie said, putting her glass down on the tale and getting up to follow Dom out to the floor.


“So am I,”  Dominique replied blithely.  “That’s half the fun.”


“I’m not sure your definition of fun is correct,” Sophie ventured.  “Maybe we should cross-reference.”


“Nonsense!”  Was Dom’s only reply before dragging her friend out into the middle of the fray.


Sophie could honestly say that the first two minutes of dancing were the most awkward of her life.  First, there was some head bobbing, then some bizarre shoulder movements.  Roxy took one look at her friend and cousin and burst out laughing so hard that she doubled over.  But by the third minute Sophie had decided that she did not care that she looked like some sort of flailing octopus—she was having fun.  So together, she and Dominique danced atrociously in the center of the dance floor.  Occasionally, Maddy, Vic, or Olivia would join the circle and once Roxy grabbed Sophie for a dramatic tango down the center of the floor (which only resulted in Sophie’s laughing so hard that tears rolled down her cheeks). 


After some time, Sophie realized that she was absolutely parched and motioned to Dom that she needed some water.  Getting off the dance floor took considerably more effort than getting on, but Sophie did eventually manage.  Sophie asked the bartender for a glass of water and sat on one of the stools, amazed at how much dancing had worn her out.  


“Sophia Hinds?”  There was a male voice to her left.  Sophie turned toward it and immediately recognized the boy next to her as Mitchell Cates, the Ravenclaw who had tutored Roxy the year before—they had met in Flourishes earlier in the week. 


“Sophie, please,” she replied with a smile. “I’m Sophie to friends.”


“Well then, if we are going to be friends, I must be Cates,” he returned the smile.


“What?” Sophie asked, confused.  Mitchell Cates looked slightly embarrassed.


“No one but my mum calls me Mitchell.  I’m just Cates—always have been.”


“Then Cates, I have to have to say—because I am such a good friend—I would never have expected to see you here.”


He laughed.  “Because I was a Ravenclaw?”


“Because you were a Ravenclaw turned bookstore keeper who comes to a club with ink stains on his hands,” replied Sophie, pointing to the very obvious marks stating that Cates had using a quill all day.


“Well, maybe that’s exactly why I needed to get out.  You here with anyone else?”  His eyes were already scanning the dance floor, as if looking for someone.


“Yeah,” Sophie answered, and pointed out the rest of her group.  Roxy was, as always, the center of the crowd, moving to the music with a grace and fluidity that never failed to impress Sophie.


“Geez.  She sure can move,” Cates gave a low whistle.  Sophie agreed and commented on her own lack of coordination.


They chatted a while longer and Sophie realized she might be flirting.  It was a strange feeling—the only flirting she was used to was fake, so she wasn’t entirely certain she was interpreting the situation correctly. 


But if this was flirting, then it was very fun.  And Cates was being so nice, not at all like Albus who was—


Sophie looked down at her water, immediately unhappy again.  Albus was probably off not thinking about her at all, having fun with other people. 


“Something wrong?” Cates asked. 


“I...no, nothing.”


“Oh,” if he was confused, he didn’t show it.  “I apologize.  I must have misinterpreted your interest in our conversation as unhappiness.”


Sophie made a face at him, smiling in spite of herself.  “I’m on the outs with a friend,” she explained.  “I don’t know how to ask for forgiveness but I don’t think I can go much longer without fixing things.”


“Well, I know this may not be what you want to hear, I think the answer is pretty obvious.”


“Yeah..” replied Sophie, unenthusiastically at the idea of humbling herself before Al.


“Yeah,” Cates said sadly.  “You’ll have to get absolutely sloshed at the club tonight and flirt atrociously with a handsome stranger at the bar.”


Sophie laughed in spite of herself.


Cates grinned at her over his drink and said,” Look, there’s that smile again.”


Still smiling, Sophie said,” I think….I have to go and talk to someone.  Thanks for cheering me up.”


“Oh, fine,” Cates teased.  “Leave me here all by my lonesome.  Its just as well—I was fancying a dance and after watching you ‘bust a move’ I think I’m better off asking Roxanne.”


Sophie gave Cates a shove for insulting her dancing, waved a goodbye, and headed off in the direction of Maddy.  A few very fit blokes were chatting up Victoire and her sister, and Maddy was not pleased when Sophie waved her over.


“What?”  Maddy hissed, while simultaneously smiling at and attractive Italian.


“I’m heading out early.”

“Why?”  Suddenly, Maddy was more concerned than irritated.


“I’ve got to apologize to Albus.” 


Maddy raised an incredulous eyebrow.  “Soph, you’ve been avoiding that all week. Why do you suddenly—wait, how much did you have to drink?”




“Oh Sophie, I know this sounds like a good idea, but it’s the alcohol talking.  You’ll only end up making a fool of yourself.”


“Mads, I only had the one.”


“You can’t even remember how much you’ve had.  I’m a terrible older sisters, exposing her baby sister to this kind of environment.  Here, I’ll help you home.”


“Maddy! I’m fine!”  Sophie shook her elbow out of Maddy’s hold.  “Really I am.  I’m not drunk, I just realized that I can’t really have fun until I’ve gotten this off my chest.  It will take me five minutes—I’ll be right back.”


Her sister looked her up and down, suspiciously.  “Listen, just walk in a straight line really quickly—“


“Maddy,”  Sophie said, exasperated. 


“Fine, but check in when you get to the Potter’s.  I want to make sure you haven’t splinched yourself.”


“Sure thing mum,” Sophie teased before apparating out of the club.


When her feet touched the ground again, she was standing in the slightly dewy grass outside the Potter’s house.  The heels that Roxy had forced on her wobbled a bit as she made her way across the lawn to the door.  Once on the porch, she rang the door bell and waited for the response.


A breeze rustled the trees as Sophie strained her ears to hear someone coming to the door.  Perhaps she should have thought this through.  She didn’t even know if the Potters were home. 


Just as Sophie convinced herself to walk back to the apparition site and return to the club, the door opened.


“Sophie?”  asked James, confused.  “Come in—is something wrong?”


“Um, well.  I just wanted to see if Albus was home for a chat.”  Sophie looked around, guilty.  She knew that James knew about her little out burst with Al.  She hoped he would not make a big deal about it.


“Yeah,” James replied.  “He’s just upstairs in his room.”


Sophie nodded and started towards the stairs.


“And Soph?”  the sound of James’ voice stopped her momentarily.  “I know you’ve done wrong, but don’t be too hard on yourself.  It could have happened to anyone.”


Sophie nodded with a rueful smile and made her way to Albus’ room, steeling herself for the worst.  In front of his door she took a deep, calming breath and knocked.


“Hey, Al.”


Sophie knew he was standing before her in the doorway, but she kept her eyes glued on the ground.  If she looked him in the eyes, she knew she wouldn’t be able to finish.  So, focusing on Al’s bare feet and pajama bottoms, Sophie blurted,  “I’m so sorry for the way I acted the other day.  You were right; I was way out of line.  And I already said as much to Scorpius, so you don’t have to worry about—“


Sophie didn’t even get to finish talking before warm, strong arms enveloped her and Al pulled her into a very comforting hug.


“I hate when you are mad at me.  I hate that you are disappointed in me.  I’m not perfect, Al, but you have to forgive me, you have to!”


“No Soph, I should be apologizing.  I knew you were under stress and didn’t mean it.  I shouldn’t have snapped at you.  And I didn’t know how to ask your forgiveness.”


“Well,” Sophie pondered, her head resting in the crook of his neck.  “Groveling is a good place to start.”


She heard the rumble of his laughter reverberate in his chest, and for the first time in days she felt complete.  It was never good to be on the outs with a friend, especially when that friend meant as much to her as Al did. 


They stood there like that, Sophie leaning on Al, his hand tracing circles on her back for a few moments, until Albus seemed to realize how close they were and disentangled himself.


“So,” he transitioned, only slightly awkwardly. “ Where were you that you were all dressed up?”


Sophie looked down, forgetting momentarily the short dress and high heels that was her uniform for the night.  “Oh, girls night.  Roxy and the others are still out living it up.”


“And you left early for little old me?”  Albus grinned a crooked smile and Sophie’s heart melted.  He retreated into his room and sat back at his desk which was covered in a thick layer of papers, books and quills.


“Its hard to have fun when you are feeling guilty about something. “  Sophie sat at the edge of Al’s surprisingly neat bed and took off her shoes, which had bothered her feet much more than she had realized until she left the club. 


“Soph, you didn’t have to feel guilty about that.”  Albus had turned his desk chair towards her, his head bowed in shame.  He ruffled his hair uncomfortably.  “I didn’t mean—its just that Scorpius has it so much harder than we do.   And his family’s been going through some rough media as well.  Did you see that nasty article in the Prophet two weeks ago?”


Sophie nodded—with all the tension surrounding the Magical Equality laws that the Potters were supporting, the media had had a field day.  Two weeks ago, a particularly unpleasant article had been written that had alleged the reason the Malfoys had not publically supported the equality act was that they were Purists and had then commenced to remind the public of the Malfoy’s sordid past in dark magic.  It had not been flattering. 


“But no matter about the Malfoys.  I know you didn’t mean any of it—you’ve just been under so much stress.”


“Things have been crazy over the few months, haven’t they?” Sophie began, hesitantly.


“You can say that again,” answered Albus, leaning back in his chair precariously. 


“Things have been crazy—“Sophie said teasingly, before Albus cut her off by throwing a pillow at her.  Sophie caught it and threw it back, giggling. 


“Al,” Sophie began again, more seriously.  “What do you think about the Magical Equality laws?”


He raised an eyebrow.  “What brought that on?”


Sophie shrugged and picked at a loose string on his comforter.


“Well, I think it’s the right thing to do.  But I think it will be years before its in place, and years after that before it becomes something most witches and wizards actually believe in.  Our parents certainly have a fight on their hands to get that law to make the changes they want it to.”


Sophie looked at him, amazed again at the enigma that was Albus Potter.  “Yeah, I’m coming to believe the same thing.  James doesn’t worry about it too much—he just thinks that everybody will agree once the law is finalized.  But not everyone is like our families.”


“James likes to think the best of everybody,” Albus said this with a smile, meaning it as a compliment. 


“It’s a good thing,” Sophie agreed.  "Its just that issues like this are so complicated.  You have to change the oppinions of an entire poplulation of wizards."


"And with the deep prejudices set in place, it will be hard."


It was one of the reasons that Sophie loved Al so much.  He thought about these dilemmas teh same way she did--focusing on what was right but understanding the difficulties that came with the task.  And it was in that moment she made up her mind--she was going to tell Albus.


“I need to talk to you about something.  And I don’t think I can talk to anyone else about it,” Sophie's heart was beating out of her chest.  She was about to tell her biggest secret, but she had to know what he thought.  She needed his advice.  "You have to promise me that you won't tell anyone what I say."


“What do you mean?” now Albus was suspicious.


“Al,I have to tell someone.  I can't keep it to myself any longer.” Sophie took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.  “They think that the attacks on the ministry were orchestrated by magical creatures unhappy that the Magical Equality Law hasn’t been signed yet.”


Al stared at her, mouth agape.  “Oh.”



Authors Note:


Hello All!  I know--its been so long since I last posted.  I'm so sorry!  But in my defense, I've never had such a busy summer.  I hope this being extra long helped out :)


So what do you guys think about Sophie telling Al her secret?  Good idea or bad idea?  And how do you think he will respond?


As always, any characters you recognize are not mine (JKR is amazing!).  The title is from Graham Greene's novel ("The  Heart of the Matter") and the summary quote is from Shakespeare's "Two Gentlemen of Verona."

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