Albus Potter & Marnie Finnigan.
klutzy_kara @ tda is a goddess. what else can i say?
“I cannot believe we’re here,” he said, for the one hundredth time. Maybe we were in the two hundreds, now. He was repeating it like a religious mantra.
“I cannot believe you’re still whining,” I replied half-heartedly, leaning over in an attempt to turn to him, and wincing at the icy coldness of the metal chain around my neck, pulling me back towards the wall.
Opposite us, water dripped from the ceiling in steady, conclusive drops, fat and slow, and the tiny cracks above us were steadily turning darker. What was a vivid blue peaking naughtily through the ceiling was now a darker shade, and I calculated we had been locked up in this cellar for five, maybe six hours now. My hands had turned numb at the wrists from their bondage, and my legs and bottom had lost all sense of touch and feel from their hours-long position on the cold, stone floor.
“You okay?” he asked, his tone gentle and low. If Albus Potter had ever used that tone with me before this month I would have hexed him immediately for whatever prank he was inevitably pulling, but in the intense coldness of our prison, and after everything that had happened over the past few weeks, his voice moved through the stale air like a warm, all-encompassing hug and I leant my back upon him, letting my neck extend as far back onto his shoulder as my neck chain would let me, feeling my dry and tangled hair curl and cascade down his shoulder.
“We fucked up.”
“That is,” he remarked, and I could almost taste his breathe from this position. I could certainly still see the vivid green shade of his eyes, despite the darkening shadows of the room. “Only a mild understatement, Finnigan.”
He turned his head slightly towards mine, and I could feel his lips brush against my forehead, my left eye, my left cheek. That was as far as his neck chain allowed him, but I felt a sudden shiver of warmth run through my body at his touch, the smell of his CK One perfume, still clinging to his body despite our circumstance.
“Finnigan,” he said, muttering quietly. “I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this, I have no game plan and its the first time I’ve found myself at my wits’ end like this my entire life. But you should know- I really, really want you to know-”
“-we don’t have to do this, Potter-”
“-I love you, I-”
Suddenly the door burst open, light saturated the cellar like a burst dam of illumination and I blinked, my eyes adjusting to the brightness, and made out two silhouettes.
The graduation ceremony of the Hogwarts Class of ’23 was on a beautiful, early summer’s day. The smell of roses and lavender, freesia and honeysuckle filled the cool highland air, wafting in between hair strands and eyelashes, under ear lobes and through the students’ formal school robes with the cool breeze of June, and I never tired of being told the sky was the same brilliant azure shade as my eyes.
“Congratulations, Miss Finnigan,” said my Head of House, Professor Longbottom, shaking my hand and beaming in his mildly sheepish way. He, like the rest of us, was in ironed and jet black dress robes, and he wasn't even attempting to hide how uncomfortable he felt in it on this increasingly warm day. “Or Margaret, as I should get used to! You know- the summer sky really is the exact same shade as your eyes, but I bet you always get that-”
“Not at all!” I cried, beaming, feeling my tongue press into the back of my teeth and taking delight in how my jaw was almost beginning to ache with all the smiling of the day.
“Give me a break,” Rose groaned beside me, and I dropped my smile as I rolled my eyes at her voice. “Neville, you know she loves hearing that.”
“Well, she should,” he said, pleasantly. “It’s a very nice thing to hear.”
“Trust me, she knows.”
“She?” I began, putting the hand not holding my champagne flute on my hip as I glared at her. “You’re just bitter that I get eyes that remind people of something nice, not poo-”
“Oh my god,”she hissed, as Professor Longbottom left us to congratulate other students. I could catch a glimpse of my parents stood beside other parents, under the graceful canopy of the post-graduation celebrations, the sea of student, teacher and Professor a tapestry of jet black dress robes studded with the pastel shades of parents and visitors, shirts and dresses and skirts and dress-robes, wine glasses and champagne flutes and the pearly white teeth of smiles across the grouping piercing the fabric like glittering jewels. “Do not bring that up, Maggie, or I promise you, I will cry-”
“Bring what up?” asked a voice, and Rose turned around and grinned at the approaching bodies of Scorpius Malfoy and Julian Chase-Wood, the duo, too, donning the official Hogwarts graduation attire of silk jet black dress robes, an amused grin on the former’s face and a mischievous one on the latter.
“Tommy Fletcher’s poem for her in Third Year,” I said quickly, before Rose could clasp her perfectly manicured hand over my perfectly glossed mouth, and Scorpius threw his handsome head back in laughter, the sunlight making his hair appear golden, his red and gold Captain badge sparkling.
“I forgot about that!”
“Easily in my top five memories of this loony bin,” said Julian fondly, as Scorpius put an arm around the shoulders of a reddening Rose. “Come on, Rose, its not that bad, just think about how one of my other top anecdotes include the time Al hexed Maggie off her broomstick and she landed in the Black Lake-”
“-and he offered her a hand, and she pulled him in with her!”
Now it was my turn to glare, as the trio hooted with laughter. “I am,” I said, still silently seething at the memory of humiliation in front of the entire Third and Fourth Year during an inter-year Quidditch friendly organised by the bumbling idiot of a Head Girl and Boy team at the time, “putting an advert in the Prophet the second I find a quill and parchment.”
“New friends.” And that only made the three laugh harder.
“What are we laughing at?” asked a voice that automatically made my hairs stand up on edge. I felt my eyes narrow and my lips purse as the boy of discussion walked over himself, with Leo Anthony beside him. Potter looked smug, Leo looked high, and as Rose and I exchanged glances of raised eyebrows and meaningful looks, it was clear she, too, was wondering who that was more classic of.
Because, you see, Leo was- when not trying to become the next John Lennon- usually on drugs, and Potter was- when not sleeping with Blake Montgomery or, if she was busy, trying (succeeding) to get under my skin- usually very proud of himself for something or other.
Scorpius tried to answer him, but couldn’t get the words out, he was wheezing so hard. Julian, on his left, was clutching his stomach with such intensity it looked almost like he was in pain.
“I’m sorry, Finnigan,” said Potter, dragging his amused gaze from his friends to me. “Julian and Scor are usually better at controlling their thoughts on your general appearance. I think its the champagne.”
“God, Potter,” I said, putting my glass down and crossing my arms, feeling the highland breeze across my face, watching it make the blonde ends of my hair dance. “That was almost funny. Have you been revising?”
“Not nearly as much as you, Finnigan, and guess what- it appears we’re both top of House-”
“-yeah, darling Potter, the new Ministry initiative to get the mentally behind good school scores has really succeeded with you, hasn’t it-”
“Al,” sung Scor, who had just about recovered from his laughing fit. “Maggie, babe. Come on now. Let’s not bicker on such a happy occasion as this, hm?” And I could smell the amount of champagne he had drunk as he pulled Potter and I into his arms, making our heads knock against each other in front of his chest.
“Yeah,” said Leo, looking up from his conversation with Julian, the year’s resident drug dealer and the year’s officiated Head Boy best friends since the first day of First Year, “why be sad when you can be…”
His eyes glinted mischievously. Rose rolled her eyes, but I leant in to hear his lowered voice, and I could feel Potter, beside me, do the same.
People often take to assuming that mine and Potter’s shared animosity towards one another was a relatively recent thing, that it started up in First or Second Year after rubbing each other up the wrong way in the Gryffindor tower for a bit.
But that truly isn't the case. Potter and I have known each other since we were kids, running around naked in Edie Thomas’s garden, and then slightly more clothed at Dumbledore Army reunions at the Daily Prophet offices. Even as a child, he was intolerable: gifted at appearing sensitive and soulful to adults when necessary, even highly charismatic when desired, but an intolerable brat at heart.
And you know what, I’m eighteen now, I’m not reluctant in admitting I was a bit of a spoiled child growing up, too. What is it with middle children?
But playground tussles over toys and benign pranks turned into pushing into water fountains and broomstick wallops. Our parents found it amusing, and we didn't see each other enough for it to be an issue. I didn’t, like, sit in my Muggle primary school and think of ways to maim Albus Potter- he truly did not occupy the head space he now unfortunately does until we were both Sorted into Gryffindor house.
I can’t even remember what actually happened, so entwined it is in the abstract mosaic of childhood imagery and nostalgic blurs of memory. There was some First Year party for our year, organised by the Prefects in an attempt to encourage inter-year mingling (something they hated just as much as we did at the time, I was to learn after Rose become Prefect in Fifth Year). Obviously- within days- Potter had established himself as a popular figure in the year group, already having formed a sort of group with Scor, Julian and Leo, the other boys in his 1.B dormitory.
What actually happened, I truly cannot remember. I think he asked me to dance, and I- stood with Rose and Issey Millard at the sides- burst out laughing in his face. That’s what Rose and Issey recall anyway, but all I can remember is feeling my cheeks heat up and my mouth curve into a disgusted frown. Dylan swears I called him gross. Leo reckons I called him a dirty horny wank-stain.
One of these memories is not quite like the others.
Whatever, it’s so not important. As we grew up, Potter found himself diving into the school’s counter culture of drugs and rock bands, especially championed by Scor, Issey, Leo and the Slytherin boys; Rose, Julian and I, on the other side of the friendship group, dated Quidditch players and prefects and didn't even bother trying to work out where the kitchens were in the Sixth Year frenzy to discover them.
The only memory- and this sounds a bit pathetic, but whatever, I’m not exactly the cover girl for The Perfect Life editorial of Witch Weekly’s summer edition- that I have even remotely positive of Potter was when we were both in detention, this one sunny evening of the Quidditch Final between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, a detention that was all his fault anyway.
And I didn't even care particularly about the game. I liked Quidditch enough to tolerate my friends talking about it, but I wasn’t going to cry over having to miss it. What was the injustice of the night, the one I felt so deeply in my sixteen year old conscious, was having to miss the victory party that night, a party Saul Aziz personally asked if I was going to, with such a twinkle in his dark eyes I think I’ll always remember.
“Get over it, Finnigan,” Potter had said, as we lay on opposite sides of the trophy room, done for cleaning for the night- Potter had snuck in Scor’s wand, knowing mine and his would be confiscated, and the menial task of our punishment was completed in seconds. “You don't even like Quidditch.”
“As opposed to you-?”
“My best mate’s playing-”
“That doesn't mean you own it-”
“Ah, Finnigan, maybe one day you, too, will enjoy the warmness that comes from having friends you kind of wish to support in their accomplishments.”
I didn’t even bother replying. I remember just scowling at him, and the two of us lying there in the empty, quickly darkening room, the cheers and oohs of the match on one side of the room slowly morphing into loud music and thumping beats on the other side.
Potter craned his neck, trying to work out where the noise was coming from. “I reckon that’s a Gryffindor victory,” he said, sighing. “Fuck, I wonder who’ll make Man of the Match, Scor or James? Fuck, I wish I was there-”
“You are intolerable!” I cried, shooting up from the ground in indignance and moving towards the window, watching the windows of our tower, way way in the sky, shudder pink and blue and black and white with disco colours, hearing the sound of Leo’s band perform their electro rock music. It was the summer of 2021 and Leo Anthony had decided, alongside his Hufflepuff stoner friends, that he wanted to be a bassist.
“Go on, Finnigan, tell me how you really feel,” he said drily from behind me. I heard him reluctantly rise and join me by the window, I could feel his presence beside me as we watched our partying common room heave with the making of memories we were so unfairly excluded from.
“I have been working,” I snapped, feeling the anger on my lips as I turned towards him, “so hard this year to get on the Auror internship programme, this was the one night I was going to let myself enjoy since fucking April- and you ruin it, ruin it in the way you always do-”
“Christ, Finnigan,” said Potter, looking surprised. His “It was just a prank-”
“That you know I’d get riled up by and react to- and then you have the audacity to whine about missing the game! Well obviously you would, you knew that, but as long as you got your fucking ten minutes of attention-”
“You were really looking forward to this victory party?” he wanted to know, his smirk disappearing and a curious expression growing on his angular face. It was the summer of 2021 and Potter had sprouted cheekbones and a considerably sharp jawline, making his sneers more sinister but his expressions of kindness more apparent.
“Yes,” I sulked, turning away from him, feeling ridiculously sorry for myself in that dark trophy room, the shadows of our bodies and the cabinets around us shrouding the room in silhouettes of almost ethereal qualities.
“God,” he muttered. And, then, “Finnigan?”
I turned around, feeling my eyes widen in my glare. “What?”
“Want to dance?”
“Come on,” he said, taking me first by my left hand, then by my right. “Leo’s been writing this song for a month now, we might as well honour him all the way from the first floor trophy room.”
In spite of myself, I laughed, and I watched his vivid green eyes crease at the sides as his face erupted into a grin. For some reason, on that hot, humid, dark night inside the trophy room, I found myself dance in Albus Potter’s arms- sometimes a bit wacky, other times slower, our bodies so close I could feel his heart beat next to mine. His hands were big and warm, and I can still feel the way they felt in mine when I notice the prominent veins on them.
The next day Rose let me know at the breakfast table that Saul Aziz had been asking after me at the party, and I blushed. I could feel Potter’s gaze on the back of my neck.
“Good one, Finnigan,” he had remarked, leaning over from his conversation with Julian. “This must be the first person ever to find you attractive. It’s a fun feeling, isn't it? Don’t get too used to it, now.”
Nobody managed to get under my skin like he did! And he smirked in such a particularly malicious way that morning it occurred to me then- and not for the first time since- that the whole dance with me, FInnigan? stunt was engineered solely to catch me off guard.
As we stood for a photo taken patiently by Hermione, Rose’s mum, on that beautiful, almost magical early summer day- Issey, Rose, Scor, Julian, Leo, Potter and myself- and I looked at my group of friends, the friends I’ve had since First Year, the friends that- despite their awful friendship choice in Potter, were really rather decent on the whole- it occurred to me that outside the claustrophobia of Gryffindor tower, save for bumping into him at social gatherings of our friends (we shared a group: there was nothing I could do about it), I was not only graduating from Hogwarts, but from Potter, too.
And as the flash of the camera snapped, I could feel my beam stretch so wide at the idea it almost hurt my jaw.
“You’re looking particularly happy,” said Julian, on my left, his warm brown eyes glinting with amusement as he pulled me in for a one-armed hug. I could feel our Hawaiian lei flower garlands of cheap plastic- yellow and red on the Gryffindor Head boy, pink and purple for myself- scratch against each other, and I rolled my eyes fondly at him. “What you thinking about?”
“Al, likely,” Leo smirked, on the other side of me, the two boys grinning smugly at each other like they had just discovered a magic marijuana tree or something. “Hey, do you think these garlands count as cultural appropriation?”
“Are you still banging on about that?” Scor asked from beside him, and mouthed don't you dare when Leo’s mouth opened in rebuttal.
“Whatever,” I sung, mirroring their smirk with one of my own. “Today is my last day of living with Potter and I truly could not be happier about it.”
They laughed- Julian said, god Mags, will you ever change- and the camera went off again, and I was captured beaming in the gorgeous sunshine, our robes draped around us like togas of our adolescence. I beamed like that for the rest of the day until Longbottom found me again, Daniel Shacklebolt- deputy Head of the Auror department- by his side.
How did I know he was Head of the Auror department? Only that I’ve been desperate to be an Auror since the age of eight, but whatever.
“Margaret,” said Longbottom, bumblingly pleasant as usual, “meet Mr Shacklebolt, deputy-”
“Head of the Auror department,” I said, shaking his hand. “Pleasure, sir.”
“Miss Finnigan,” he said, his deep voice velvety and smooth, his bright white teeth almost dazzling in the sunlight, “I am delighted to announce, in person, that your application to the Auror office of Investigations has been approved!”
My jaw dropped open. “Oh my god- Sir-“ I’ve never been one for drinking but suddenly I was buzzing with excitement for Scor’s graduation party tonight, my mouth suddenly itched for the metallic taste of firewhiskey as I stared up at Shacklebolt, feeling my jaw wide open.
“-yes,” he said, smiling down at me, his eyes warm and kind. Or maybe I was just ridiculously excited and was liable to see warmth and kindness in anything. “One of only two applications the Investigations Unit has accepted from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this academic year-“
“Thank you so much, Mr Shacklebolt!” I cried.
“Miss Finnigan, with your consistently high grades and your flair for pursuing justice and the truth, it is our pleasure. Now… Have you seen your classmate Mr Potter around?”
I could feel my face darken, and immediately tried to erase it in a pleasant smile. “No, sorry sir, why-”
“Well- he’s the second successful applicant!” Shacklebolt said, and this time it proved impossible to stop the scowl that was forming across my face.
Ahhh! New story!
I REALLY DO NOT KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THIS. Please let me know- I used to have a summer Albus/OC love/hate kinda story up, a year or so ago, and took it down due to lack of inspiration, and I've been intensely battling whether to resurrect it or channel my sudden desire to write anything and everything into an entirely new fic.
I don't own CK One (Calvin Klein), nor anything else you recognise!
Thanks so much for reading! xx
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