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The Human Factor by SexyDoorFrames
Chapter 2: The One Where Pippa Can't Sleep
Disclaimer: I don’t own Harry Potter. If I did, I’d be rich and the size of a mansion cause I'd spend all my money on food.
Authors Note: Hi! Happy Valentines Day for those who celebrate it! I hope you’re all okay. Thanks so much for all the feedback on chapter one! It makes me super happy. I’m so glad you like Pippa too; this chapter allows you to get to know her more. It’s pretty much just a two handler, but Scorpius features heavily in the next chapter.
Please review, they’re like my muses brain food. Ask questions too!
Thanks so much for emmapotter & StEpH_ for being my beta!
Chapter Two –
The One Where Pippa Can’t Sleep
Amazing Chapter Image By SilverThimble@ TDA
“When is the book out? The useless tales of Philippia Nott?”
- Albus Potter
I am an insomniac. I cannot sleep. I’ve tried counting things, I’ve tried boring myself to sleep through books, I even did a little jog before I got wheezy and couldn’t breathe. The fact remained that I couldn’t sleep. Not one little bit. I stopped taking naps after Damien said I was turning into a grandma and it fixed things for a while; I could sleep, even if it was only for two hours. Though recently my insomnia has come back; I don’t know why. If I knew what caused my sleeping problem, I would fix it. I would fix it quickly because I’m getting jittery over the shadows in the dormitory.
Alright, I’m a little afraid of the dark. It’s only because I can’t see what’s lurking in the dark; it hides the bad things; only bad things need to hide. Shiny and beautiful things bask in the light.
I cursed quietly to myself as I slipped out of my bed. I glanced at Cassie, my best friend of six years, but my uneasiness didn’t shift as it normally would. Usually I felt better by just looking at her but not this time. It was like I was suddenly immune to her shine that she radiated so easily. I wrapped my arms around myself involuntarily. Cassie’s long dark hair was sprawled over her pillow as she slept blissfully. It was this that stopped me from waking her.
I shuddered; I was becoming soft.
This was a disaster.
I picked up my cleaning supplies and I slipped out of the dormitory into the dungeon hallway. The green light filtered into the dungeon; it was better than darkness. Anything was. I hummed softly, feeling the excitement due to the satisfaction that cleaning would give me. It’s amazing when something is dirty and you scrub it until it shines. It looks like a completely different thing. The only thing that annoys me is the common room is never really dirty because of the house elves. So I’m not really getting my praise for being the secret night time common room cleaner.
Life sucks, sometimes.
I entered the common room and usually pure silence welcomed me, but someone was disturbing it. Someone was making noise; someone was destroying my haven. I was confused; I never had to share the common room at this time, it was mine and I don’t share. I don’t share food; I never shared my toys when I was little. I mean, why start now? There isn’t any point.
There was a silhouette lying on one of the settees. I stomped over to the person, fully intending to wake them up and insult them to a hurtful degree. But I stopped when I got there, because Albus Potter lay there.
I stared at the boy for a couple moments. He was sleeping but I gathered it was anything but a peaceful sleep. He was drenched in sweat and his face was contorted with pain and terror. It's weird : I was watching Albus Potter having a nightmare.
I wondered what he would be afraid of.
Ghosts? Nope, I’ve seen him having conversations with the Bloody Baron. What about? I don’t know. That ghost freaks me out a little; I think it’s the blood on his clothing. If I was a ghost and I was dirty, I’d spend eternity trying to figure out how to get clean or at least another outfit. Spiders? Nope, I’m not buying that. James? I laughed a little. Lily? Hmm, that was an idea. I mean she frightens me, especially when she pulled out that scrapbook of my brother she had made. She taped his head onto the body of a penguin because they are her favourite animals. That way she had both of her favourite things at once.
Lily is crazy.
So after all my thoughts, I still had no idea what was tormenting him so much.
Should I wake him? Release him from this nightmare? I hadn’t made up my mind until he got too agonising it watch. Man, I really was getting soft. I need to go and hex someone or go and do something evil. I rubbed my eyes from tiredness…I suppose I’ll do something evil tomorrow. I reached out to wake him but something stopped me from making contact. I remembered the boy locking me in the cupboard, for what it turned out, was only half an hour. The time I was in the cupboard didn’t matter, it was the principle. I suddenly grew angry. It wasn’t just the cupboard incident; the boy has been mean to me over the years, before he stopped feeling that is. He once called me teeny, which is offensive for someone as vertically challenged as me.
Alright, I’m out. I suppose we haven’t had as much interaction as I thought. Not in reality anyway. But still, the anger didn’t fade. The knots in my stomach grew tighter, the breath hitched in my throat as it grew drier with every waking moment. Albus Potter was at my mercy. I couldn’t understand how people could sleep in public places; being asleep makes you vulnerable, especially from angry midgets like me.
I had power, even though it was for a single second, it felt good.
The universe must just love Potter and hates me because that’s when Albus shot straight up in terror. He stared at me like I was transparent. He was seeing me, but he wasn’t at the same time. It wasn’t a good feeling. Then it hit him: I was Pippa Nott and if I was on fire and he had a glass of water; he’d drink it. No worries though, I’d do the same for him. Albus glared at me silently. I raised my eyebrow, I couldn’t take him seriously when he was sweatier than my great aunt Betty and she’s sweaty to the degree that you shower after each hug. Until your mom moans that you keep disappearing to have a shower that is.
Albus stared at me with abhorrence with those dull, beautiful dead eyes of his. He was trying to put up the castle walls that were usually erected between us that had been broken by my witnessing that Albus had problems with sleeping too. I’m surprised he even needed to sleep; obviously when the universe gave him the perfect life, it didn’t give him the perfect mind. I shook my head; lack of sleep was defiantly making me feel delirious. I rolled my eyes at his glare, which had not subsided.
There was a deeply hateful silence between us. The silence made the room and the gap between us seem even bigger. It wasn’t even a good silence; it was deeply uncomfortable but I’d be damned if I was the first person to speak.
This is fun.
This is about as fun as being eaten alive by a shark.
This must be the longest time no one has spoken in the entire world.
It’s all hunky-dory.
I think I’m going to speak now. Screw my rules, I’ll be damned. If fact, I’ll relish in being damned, it will be fun. I’ll have hell parties, drinking fire whiskey and dancing. I lie. I won’t do any of that. I don’t do parties because that requires social interaction and niceness, both are not my greatest strengths. The one time I drank fire whiskey, I was sick all over my cat Binksy. I don’t think he has forgiven me yet. I just have no luck with pets. Finally, I don’t dance, I tried but people told me I resembled a robot. I am far too uptight to dance and I’m proud of that.
I’d dance to that but it would defeat the purpose.
“I don’t dance.” I told him randomly, I tried to shut up but the words wouldn’t stop. “My father tried to make me do the rhumba once.” Oh my, I have come down with a serious case of foot in mouth syndrome. “He wanted to spend more time together; he is weird like that.” I am an idiot. “I ended up breaking my ankle because I jumped out of a window to escape and I didn’t realize we weren’t on the ground floor.” Breaking my ankle really hurt; it was fixed five minutes later but that isn’t the point.
“Thank you for that fascinating snippet.” Albus mocked. “When is the book out? The useless tales of Philippia Nott?”
“I would not call my book that!” I scoffed before I realized that wasn’t the real insult. “Anyway,” I scowled at him. “If I was to write a book, it would be a bestseller.” That’s because I’d force everyone to buy it.
Albus just shook his head. “Is there also a story in there of when you were dropped on the head as a baby?”
“Actually, I think Damien did drop me on the head when I was a baby.” I admitted. “He wanted a muffin and forgot I was in his lap.” I don’t think I should have told him that. It only makes him look right…crap. What to do? How to get some kind of respect and dignity for myself? Ah! Turn it all on him. “Did you have pleasant dreams?”
It didn’t touch him, I thought he’d crumble or at least look mad. But I got…nothing.
Albus stared at me with cold eyes. Something must have happened to make his eyes go cold like that, because the frost doesn’t take over that easily. “I did thanks. Is there any reason why you aren’t sleep at…?” He checked his watch. I was jealous, my dad won’t let me have a watch, he says it’s too Muggle for a pureblood. He likes being pureblood; I couldn’t care less. “Four am?” I stared at his watch; I wanted it. Some people wanted brooms, books, the latest thing …I just wanted Albus’ watch. It was a chunky, mechanical, bloke type watch; it was beautiful.
It would look good on my wrist. I’d have to put another hole into the strap because my wrists are tiny but that didn’t matter.
“Are you going to answer Nott?” Albus asked annoyed, bringing me out of my thoughts. I looked at him confused. I couldn’t remember what he had said as I was too busy staring at his watch.
“Did you say something?” I asked as I pushed the thought of pinning Albus down and ripping his watch from his wrist.
“I asked why you were up at this time?” He deadpanned.
“I came down to work on my essay for charms.” I snorted at my own joke. I always leave my essays until the night before it’s due in. That’s when my insomnia is a positive thing; I can do all nighters without any problems. Although I wouldn’t recommend my system as I got a D on my last essay, but it’s better from the T before that so I was pretty happy.
Albus snorted. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a little…” I glared at him forcefully, daring him to say the next word. Of course, he continued. “…stupid?”
How was I not supposed to take that the wrong way? Albus Potter was calling me stupid and he was more stupid than me. We can’t all get good marks and become a prefect; I have no idea how that had happened. Prefects help people and I’ve never seen Albus help anyone, but he can dock points quicker than I can annoy people and my record is under a minute.
“I’m not stupid. I just don’t apply myself.” I shrugged. It’s true or at least I like to believe it is. “I couldn’t sleep, so I came to clean.” My honesty surprised myself; I should have lied. Always lie; never tell the truth. That’s the way I go through life. Or again, that’s what I like to believe. “Why do you sleep in the common room?” Albus looked annoyed so I cracked a joke; I have no idea why I do these things. “I mean, I know Scorpius snores really loudly.” I know this because the boy is my cousin; our moms are unfortunately sisters. I have been trying to ignore this fact and for the past sixteen years, I’ve been doing a good job. “You’d have to sleep with no blanket and that is just weird.”
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.” Albus said going all snotty.
Well, someone got off the wrong side of the settee.
“I clean the common room every night, if you’re going to use it as a place to sleep; I need to know so we can work out a system.”
“A system?” Albus frowned and I responded with a scowl.
Albus clearly didn’t understand the importance of systems. Systems made up my whole world. If I haven’t got a system; the world isn’t right.
“I can’t clean around people.” I confessed tightly. “People are messy and they just get in the way, like you for example.”
“Then I’ll leave you.” He spat as if he was offended. “Sorry for getting in your fricking way!” He was pissed and I wasn’t sure why. It crossed my mind that this was the reason I lied. People get mad at the truth. People are always happier with the sweet lies you tell them.
I thought that would be it but Albus had to get the last word in. He had to ruin the system of strangers; don’t tell people your secrets; it’s always a bad thing especially when you don’t even know them all that well. “I sleep in here because it’s peaceful.” He confessed and it unnerved me. It turned out it was one confession for another; if I saw that small print, I would never have said anything. Though I didn’t understand why he found the common room peace full yet his nightmares still found their way to take control of his dreams. I didn’t ask though. I wouldn’t ask because I didn’t want to know anything about Albus Potter; I wanted him to stay blank in my mind. The more I know about him, the more he falls from grace and he becomes just ordinary. It frightened me because if Albus Potter was ordinary, what hope did the rest of us have?
Albus stared at me and I stared at him. It wasn’t like one of those looks that were full of passion and words that were left unsaid. It was one of pure nothingness. It had no meaning to it yet I found myself having to tear my eyes away. Albus shrugged before walking away. I watched him to make sure he was actually gone; I didn’t trust him to believe he wouldn’t linger.
I looked around; he had most certainly left.
For that, I would be forever grateful.
I could clean now.
I opened my box of cleaning supplies. I had a bunch of cleaning things but for this, I only needed four of them. Along with my bowl of course, but my bowl doesn’t count. I took out my furniture polish first with the cloth that I only use for polishing. I placed them next to each other in a line. Next came out the scrubbing brush that I placed next to the polish. Finally, I pulled out my prized buffing cloth; the emerald coloured one. It was Slytherin colours and if anyone asked I could lie and say that it had sentimental value as Damien bought it for me. In reality, I loved it because it brought out a shine like no other.
“Aguamenti.” I whispered as I pointed my wand at my bowl. I watched it fill up with water and instantly I started feeling a little better. I placed my wand on the floor and dipped the scrubbing brush in the water. I never cleaned with magic, as it didn’t help soothe my mind as normal cleaning did.
I began scrubbing the table. Instantly, I was better.
I wondered whether I had fitted Albus into the right pigeonholed boxed. I thought I had figured him out. It turns out I didn’t but that doesn’t matter because by tomorrow I’ll have ignored this night as if it ever happened. I’ll go back to pretending that everything is okay. Normality will be returned and I’ll be fine.
I knew one thing though; sleep was going to be impossible.
I scrubbed the table a bit more until my hands were raw.
Next Time On The Human Factor
“Think about your next words carefully”
“Gosh, Pippa, you are an angry midget.” He cursed. “I didn’t mean the fat part cause you’re not fat.” That’s good to know that you think that cousin. “You’re not big either, in fact you’re tiny.” His eyes widened. “You haven’t grown since we’re ten!” Actually, I haven’t grown since I was fourteen actually. “Have you got a problem?” He whispered, as if he might offend me. He did but for entirely different reasons.
“I haven’t got a problem with growing Scorpius.” I hissed. “I am just short.”
“Oh...it sucks to be you.”
“It’ll suck to be you too in a minute.” I threatened.