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Chapter 8: Eight
The next morning promised wonderful Quidditch conditions - blue sky without a cloud in sight, enough warmth to keep my toes toasty in the commentator’s box, and a slight breeze to shuffle along the players’ brooms and keep the game exciting.
Coincidentally, it also happened to be perfect sabotage weather.
Pippa and Albus both tried to talk me out of my master plan over breakfast, hissing comments at me at random from over various breakfast foods. “You’ll get into massive trouble,” my best friend whispered, trying to keep her voice down in case any nearby Ravenclaws were snooping and trying to hear the Gryffindor opinion on the upcoming match. “They’ll never let you out of the dungeons for all the mold you’ll have to clean off those bricks.”
“I’m trying to eat,” I said pointedly, wrinkling my nose at the thought of scraping fungus away - it’d be with my bare hands, too, since this school is sadly medieval when it comes to punishment. “Anyway, I won’t be scraping anything, thanks very much.”
“You made a deal,” Al reminded me fiercely, sawing at a piece of ham and not realizing he’d cut straight through it quite a bit earlier. “You’re -“
“If you try and guilt me into admitting I’m cheating,” I interrupted, delighted to see I’d sprayed his face with bits of soggy toast upon speaking, “you’re wasting your time.” I swallowed the remains of the toast. “He’s the backstabber. I’m just giving him a sip of his own potion.”
“There is a special circle of hell reserved for people who do what you’re about to do,” he said grandly, sitting up a bit straighter. I glowered.
“Then we’ll both have a right party down there when we snuff it, won’t we?”
A second year across from us, who’d been chattering on to her friend about something until that moment, gave me an odd look as I said that last sentence. I crossed my eyes at her, not feeling like explaining that away, and not sure how I could, anyway. Both of them hopped up and walked away quickly as though I were carrying some fatally infectious disease and had just coughed in their direction.
“Shh,” Pippa said quickly, spraying Albus anew just as he’d managed to wipe all the first bits of my toast from his face. “Scorpius is heading this way. Nine o’ clock.”
I looked to my right, but there was nobody there.
“You’re bluffing -“
“Not your nine o’ clock, my -“
“Good morning, Fleasley.”
I choked on a very large mouthful of milk, and Albus’s face took the brunt of the blow for a third time. Scorpius Malfoy was standing there in his Quidditch uniform, quite the picture of confidence and cockiness. Which, unfortunately, wasn’t all that unattractive.
Sodding hell. I hate this boy, and on principle I should not be admiring his biceps.
“Can I help you?” I said, trying to pretend very hard that he was that odd spot on my rug that mysteriously appeared there last Christmas. To my vindictive pleasure, he looked a bit surprised at just how icy I could make my voice.
“I - erm.” He switched gears at once. “Good morning, Pippa.”
“Morning, Scorp,” she said, much too cheerfully, although she’d carefully begun to shred her own toast beneath the table in anxiety. I could hear Albus grinding his teeth from here. He still gets twitchy when Pippa and Scorpius have any sort of interaction, which normally makes me laugh.
Scorpius had decided to return to the attack. “You all set to commentate, Rose?”
I wondered if he knew yet that I’d found out he’d gone and blabbed to Julian about our deal. He was looking much too arrogant for that, I reckoned - so much the better for later.
“Never been more set in my life, Snake Boy,” I said, dabbing my mouth with a sort of dignity that came from years of watching Aunt Fleur at family dinners. His forehead, I was pleased to see, was creased with something that resembled worry.
He looked about ready to confirm our deal - his mouth was open in that annoyingly knowing way of his, like he was about to ask a serious question. And for a fleeting second, I wanted him to. It would be fun to rage at him in such a public setting as a breakfast crowd, almost more fun than what I’d set up for that morning’s commentary. But he kept silent, the noble little toerag.
“Right. Well, see you down there.” He paused, opened his mouth one last time, and then shook his head a bit and walked away.
I cackled a bit and tossed my napkin into the air. “Let’s reel him in, ladies,” I said, standing up from my seat and brushing the crumbs off my skirt. “You’ll want a good seat today, I reckon.”
Albus looked upset at being associated with the female gender; Pippa looked like she’d swallowed a very large lemon, and it hadn’t particularly agreed with her. I could have cared less about either of them at that moment. Scorpius Malfoy, and revenge, and keeping my hair from getting too messed up in the commentator’s box - that was all I needed to focus on.
Nearly the whole school had already taken their seats by the time Albus and Pippa and I had made our way out to the pitch. The breeze had picked up slightly, and Pippa had her gloved hands crammed up next to her ears to keep out the chill. I was already feeling rather sorry for myself, thinking of how windy it was bound to be up in the commentator’s box.
“Don’t be an arse, Rosie,” Albus was saying, as a sort of last-ditch entreaty to get me to think rationally. Which was, of course, a wasted effort, but I felt like I should let him try. “You could use your words, you know, and talk to him.”
“I will be using words, Al,” I said, giving him a withering stare. “Now go grab seats. See you in about an hour or so.” I could feel his reproachful, moody stare boring holes in the back of my head as I climbed the short flight of stairs to the box, away from the direction Albus and Pippa would be climbing.
It was much, much too late to back out, now.
Madam Hooch and Professor McGonagall were already in the box when I walked in, and both fastened their eyes on me like hawks as soon as the door shut behind me. I think it must have been some defining characteristic of female teachers at this school - they either had to resemble birds, or they just needed to be off their rockers. Bonus points if you fit into both categories.
“Miss Weasley,” said McGonagall crisply, tucking down the tartan earflaps of her hat with short, sharp movements. “I trust today’s commentary will be done in a satisfactory manner?”
“I -“ But before I could get any words out, Madam Hooch cut in.
“And by ‘satisfactory,’ Miss Weasley,” she said, turning one fierce yellow eye in my direction, “we do mean for others besides yourself? No name-calling -“
“Or slandering -“
“Or gossiping -“
“Or lying.” They folded their arms in an identical motion, McGonagall making her lips rather thin, almost nonexistent. For a moment, I was rather hurt. It was like they didn’t know me at all.
Not that they should have gleaned any other impressions, really, because I was a rather quick wit on those points. But hadn’t these past few days of silence on behalf of Scorpius been enough to convince them of my pure soul and clean slate?
“You don’t have to worry about that,” I said, blinking in a wide-eyed sort of way. I’d picked up the habit from Lily, who always did that when Uncle Harry was reprimanding her about something. He was wrapped around her little finger, and the entire family knew it.
I tried that on my mum when I snapped her favorite quill, and I still had to pay for it out of my allowance. And of course her favorite quill was her most expensive one.
Professor McGonagall frowned, as though trying to discern whether or not I was lying, but Madam Hooch seemed relatively satisfied with my answer. She snapped on her goggles and adjusted the whistle looped around her neck. “We’ll start the game, then,” she said, and without another word left the commentator’s box. With a final glance at me, Professor McGonagall passed through the small divider that led into the faculty box next door.
And to be fair, I’d never promised either of them anything.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the first match of the year is here - let’s have a big show of hands for the competitors, Slytherin and Ravenclaw!”
Down below, distant swarms of green and blue cheered and booed and waved painted bed sheets. I felt a little bubble of excitement rising within me at the prospect of doing this. I’d only get one shot, after all - it wouldn’t take long before I got stopped by McGonagall or Hooch.
Go big or go home, as they say.
“And there go the Slytherin players!” Seven streaky-looking players, with Malfoy at the head of them, waving his Beater’s bat at the crowd like he was something special.
I glanced to my right, at the faculty box - I’d watched the Quidditch recruiters shaking hands with all the professors, and they were currently leaning forward with interest, scribbling something down on small notepads. McGonagall glanced over at me, apparently waiting for me to go on - say something about how Scorpius hadn’t showered in months, or something. I didn’t say anything.
The Ravenclaw players were up, and the captains were shaking hands in the middle of the field. Madam Hooch stood by the giant Quidditch crate, and with a sharp blast from her whistle, the Quaffle zoomed upwards. Cheers erupted again from the stands.
“And it’s Lobb with the Quaffle, speeding down the field - pass to Wallace, and back to Lobb - near miss there, Lobb.” The Slytherin chaser had done a sort of ineffectual barrel roll in avoid getting hit with a Bludger, and it really looked rather stupid. I should have pointed it out - would have made the Ravenclaws laugh, anyway - but I had more pressing matters to attend to.
“And speaking of near misses,” I started up again, improvising just as quickly as I could, “let’s come over here and ask this nice gentleman a few questions.” I dislodged the little golden microphone from its stand, and the entire pitch winced at the feedback.
McGonagall’s nostrils were flaring to an impressive diameter, but she wasn’t quite quick enough for me - I ducked under the divider and plopped myself down next to one of the recruiters, who was still writing something on his pad.
“Good morning, sir,” I said as cheerfully and professionally as possible, trying to ignore the scuffle behind me from where it sounded like the headmistress was trying to stop me from whatever I was doing.
“So, tell me,” I said, crossing one leg over the other with exaggerated patience. “Do you let cheaters on your Quidditch team?”
He looked extremely confused. “Pardon me?”
“Cheaters.” I waved my hand at the air. “Like, for example, if one of those blonde Slytherin players - totally at random, of course, just plucking statistics - if he’s got cheating on his record.” Scorpius had come to a screeching halt in midair, and even from this distance I could see the daggers he was shooting in my direction.
“Well, strictly speaking, our policy -“ The recruiter was rather flustered, and glanced over his shoulder, trying to ascertain whether or not he should answer the question. I darted a look back as well - McGonagall was making a slashing moment over her throat, trying to signal someone to cut the feed to my microphone.
“Ah, so you don’t!” I crowed, hopping up and away from McGonagall’s reach. “So if Scorpius Malfoy was a stinking, dirty, rotten sack of scum -“
I tried to ignore the headmistress’s furious, rather high-pitched shriek; the entire game had stopped, and I felt like everyone was staring over into the faculty box, where I was doing a sort of dance to evade McGonagall’s claws, trying to make it back to the relative safety of the commentator’s box.
“Lying to his girlfriend - backstabbing left and right -“ To be honest, I sort of didn’t know what I was screaming about anymore. Things were flying into my head and coming up out of my mouth like word vomit. “Blonde git - probably responsible for that green stain in the dungeons -“
“What is she doing?!”
“ROSE, LOOK OUT!”
That last shout was rather unmistakable - Albus had shouted at me too often when we were growing up for me to miss his voice now.
I looked up in time to see something rushing at me in my box, and barely registered that it was Scorpius before he crashed into it. The roof sort of caved in over us, and then it was just a mass of broken wood and torn canvas, and Scorpius sounding like a really angry troll, and I think I was still shrieking things, although Scorp had sort of wrecked the microphone.
The pitch was going nuts. Madam Hooch was blowing her whistle like it was the last chance she’d ever get to use it, and finally, someone wrenched Scorpius off of me in a shower of dust and debris. I choked on it, trying to sit up without getting splinters in places where no one ever should.
“Miss Weasley! Mr. Malfoy!” McGonagall had rather impressive strength when she was angry. “Both of you - my office - this instant!”
Totally worth it.
A/N: And so it happens! Is anyone surprised? Rose was bound to do something stupid, I suppose, as is her nature... Poor Scorpius, though. I do feel mildly sorry for the bloke. Although nothing's still resolved on the Julian front, is it. That, dear readers, is called suspense!
As always, you guys are amazing for all the reads and reviews. I can't thank you enough for all you've done!