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Preserving Consequence by klassymarie
Chapter 8 : Assignation
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 7


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“Vee, you seriously need to calm down.”

“How am I supposed to calm down? Axel sat with me for most of dinner! Do you think this means he likes me? Or was he just being friendly? Cause he is, you know, friendly I mean.”

I didn’t want to tell her that Axel sat with her because James and Fred were here too. Vanessa was the smartest one among us, but her common sense flew right out the window when Axel Sharkes entered the room. Instead I said something else.

“Getting all excited wouldn’t be very conducive to your plans, now would it?” It was something Vanessa said a lot. Getting angry wouldn’t be conducive to her plans. Crying wouldn’t be conducive to her plans. If it wasn’t conducive, then she couldn’t do it. I thought it was silly, but it worked for her so I always kept my mouth shut; it was part of what made her the strongest person I knew.

Vanessa frowned at me, and looked over to where Axel, James, and Fred were leaving. Jenessa had left with Annily and there was no longer a point for them to be sitting with us.

“You know, maybe you should just ask him out?”

We both looked over at Emily. I nodded, but Vanessa looked horrified at the suggestion. “No way!” she practically screamed. “I cannot do that!”

“Why not?” I asked.

Vanessa sputtered for a minute. “Because! I’m an old fashioned girl, I think boys should be the ones to ask girls out.”

Emily choked on the apple juice she was in the middle of sipping. “You’re joking, right? Right?”

“No, why?”

“Because! If dating were left up to men, then the human race would have ceased to exist hundreds of years ago!” Emily was a firm believer in making the first move. In her mind the guy either likes you back or he doesn’t. She felt it was better to know, so if he didn’t then she could move on and find a guy that did feel the same way about her.

I wasn’t sure who’s side I was on. Who should make the first move? The guy or the girl? I’d never had that problem. Malcolm and I were sort of just thrown at each other. There had never been another guy in my life for me to make a move on. Would I even want to?

“Hundreds of years ago men chose husbands for their daughters. Women had no say in the matter at all.” Vanessa rolled her eyes.

“So you’d rather have absolutely no choice? Why? Because it’s easier?”

“No! Absolutely not! There is no way I’d let my father choose for me. I was just pointing out that your argument was flawed.”

“Then you missed the point of it! What’s the point in equal rights, and feminism if women are just sitting on their arses the whole day waiting for a man to give them a wink or a nod?” Emily accidentally knocked her juice over. “Shite! Sorry.”

“No damage done.” I quickly righted the glass and Vanessa waved her wand at the spill and made it disappear. She turned back to Emily. “This has nothing to do with equal rights or feminism. This has to do with romance. The world has lost nearly all of its romance! There’s no more courting, no wooing, there’s nothing! What ever happened to a guy standing outside a woman’s home and serenading her, or confessing his love? Or even just sending her flowers for no reason other than that they made him think of her?”

“Who needs that? That was never anything other than a man’s way to guilt the woman into accepting his affections. Tricking her into loving him because of his grand gestures instead of because of the kind of man he is!”

They do this a lot. Emily and Vanessa, I mean. They realized in first year that they agreed on absolutely nothing. They decided that, instead of disliking each other, they would use their disagreements as an opportunity to convert the other. They never did. They always left each debate with the same opinions, but I always thought that they really enjoyed these discussions they had.

“It’s not about disguising the kind of man he is! It’s about showing what kind of man he is! Every grand gesture he comes up with is indicative to who he is, to how he thinks or feels. There is no better way to discover the true nature of a man than to listen to the rhymes he thought up in the name of love for you. Every grand gesture is a man’s way of telling a woman that she matters! That she’s damned important to him!”

I got up at that point. They enjoyed their debates. I didn’t. They barely acknowledged that I was leaving, but I didn’t mind so much. Al told me earlier that day to go over the Charms lesson for tutoring tomorrow. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but Vanessa and Emily’s debate gave me the kick I needed to do it, as there was nothing else left to do.

That’s not to say I didn’t take my time. I didn’t head straight for the Gryffindor common room, I took several detours and purposefully took more than one wrong turn. Exploring the castle was something that, I always thought, everyone had in common. No matter what house a person was from, everyone loved wandering these corridors. Hogwarts wasn’t just a magical school with magical enchantments. Hogwarts was magic. It was beautiful.

I was in a blissfully content mood, wandering aimlessly, Charms work completely forgotten, lost in philosophical thought. Who wouldn’t have been in the kind of mood I was in? Without even looking in my mirror, I knew I had the most content smile on my face anyone had ever seen.

So it’s not hard to imagine how much I did not appreciate what happened next.

I was getting ready to turn one last corner when I heard something very unpleasant. When I say unpleasant, I mean that I did not want to hear it. Whoever the girl making the sound was most certainly didn’t find whatever was causing her to make the sound unpleasant at all. I heard a whimper-like moan and I had no doubt about what was going on around the very corner I had been prepared to turn just a moment earlier.

Someone was snogging.

A decent human being would have turned around. I knew that. I told myself that. I then shrugged and peaked around the corner. What I found on the other side of that corner stopped my heart.

It was certainly not how I’d imagined discovering that Malcolm had a new girlfriend at all. I had thought about it a few times. I’d imagined that he’d come up to me and pull me aside and tell me so that I wouldn’t be blind sided by it.

I have to say that finding him in a passionate, going on vulgar, embrace with another girl in a public corridor was definitely the exact opposite of how I thought I’d find out. For some reason I couldn’t look away. All I could do was stare at my very first love in an embrace with a girl that wasn’t me.

Was how I was feeling the way Al felt when he’d seen me with Malcolm the year and a half we’d been together?

Where did that come from? I shook my head. I didn’t care to think about where that thought had come from. I just wanted to know who the girl was that obviously had something I didn’t. I leaned farther around the corner to get a better view. She had red hair. Who did I know that had red hair? I leaned even more. Ravenclaw.

I pressed my lips together to keep them from trembling. What the hell was wrong with me? Why was I forcing myself to watch this? Why couldn’t I leave? The sight of Malcolm’s back as he snogged the hell out of that red haired Ravenclaw was making me sick. Why wouldn’t my feet work?

Because I needed to know. Who was this girl that had replaced me as Malcolm’s everything? Who was this red haired Ravenclaw that he preferred to me? Why was she so special?

At this point I was no longer leaning around the corner. I was standing upright and if they turned to look, they would look directly at me. Me, the creeper that stares at snoggers.

Malcolm’s hand disappeared. Ew. I took a tentative step forwards and then I saw her face, or at least part of it. It didn’t take much to recognize her. Sure, she wasn’t in the papers as much as Al or James or Lily, but she was in it enough for me to know exactly who she was without ever actually talking to her. Lucy Weasley. Lucy Weasley had replaced me as Malcolm’s better half. I felt sick as I realized that what I was feeling had more to do with being replaced than it did with my feelings for Malcolm.

I ran away.

I ran all the way up to the common room. I wanted to run up the stairs to my bed, but I barely managed to get to the couch before I collapsed from exhaustion.

Malcolm had a girlfriend. He had apparently had one for a while from the look of it. How long I wondered? Is that why he broke up with me? I shook my head. No, that wasn’t why. Malcolm was a good guy. A really good guy. He would never have even considered hurting me, not like that.

We’d gotten together at Christmas time fourth year. We were at a party together. There were three parties at the Potter household that night. One for the children, one for the teenagers, and one for the adults. Needless to say, there was mistletoe at the teen party and I’d gotten caught underneath it with Malcolm. It was extremely public and awkward, but it was enough.

It was both of our first kisses and we stuck together the rest of the night. After that we were just together. There was really none of the romance that Vanessa loved so much, or the feminist ‘first move’ that Emily believed in so firmly. It was just him and me and a beautiful first romance.

I’d gotten a few odd looks with Malcolm. He was never the best looking boy. He had thick black hair, a deep scowl, and a crooked nose, and until that night under the mistletoe I agreed with Emily and Annily that he was rather unfortunate. But when he pulled away from our awkward kiss and I looked into his beautiful brown eyes–well–I changed my mind.

I decided right then that I could spend the rest of my life staring into those pale brown pools. His eyes were mesmerizing.

I hadn’t seen it coming when he broke up with me, but I know I should have. It was April in fifth year. After Yule break ended, we’d both become stressed over OWLs and we hardly ever saw each other. When we did it just wasn’t the same. I guess we were drifting, or falling out of love, or whatever it’s called. That didn’t make it hurt any less. Afterwards I was left with those burning questions.

Why was this happening? Why wasn’t he willing to work through it? Was I not good enough? What was so wrong with me that he wasn’t even willing to try anymore? It wasn’t until summer time that I came to terms with it, really.

I didn’t know why I was so upset with Malcolm moving on. I had, hadn’t I? Not romantically, no, but emotionally I had. I supposed it was human nature to not want something but still not want someone else to have it either.

I’d best learn to deal with it, I supposed. If that moment I interrupted between Malcolm and Lucy was any indication then they were going to be together for a while.

I reached up and pulled my hair out of its bun. I was in the process of putting it into a ponytail when I saw that I was alone in a very dark common room. Huh? I looked to the clock over the fireplace. I hadn’t realized so much time had passed. Why hadn’t Vanessa or Emily tried to talk to me? Why had everyone just left me sitting on the couch for that long? Hadn’t someone been even a little bit worried?

I shook my head. Vanessa and Emily knew when to leave me alone and it wasn’t like it was someone’s job to stop me from spacing out. I was just freaking out because I couldn’t leave the common room and I hadn’t walked around enough to get rid of my jitters over being locked up for the night.

I felt cold at the thought. I hadn’t gone a night without walking around the school before coming back here since second year. I could feel myself shaking a bit. The walls felt like they were closing in on me.

Okay, so, yes, maybe, I might be a little bit claustrophobic. Just a little though. I never minded small spaces. What I minded was spaces that I couldn’t get out of.

Deep breaths. I just needed a few deep breaths and everything would be just fine. I just needed to stop with the short and ragged breaths and start on some deep and slow breaths. Yeah, that’s all I needed.

I heard a noise to my right and turned to see Albus walking towards the portrait hole. What? Curfew was long gone, what was he doing?

“Sweet Merlin, you’re sneaking out aren’t you?” I slapped a hand over my mouth. Things weren’t good enough between Albus and myself for me to just start shouting at him from across rooms.

He jumped and turned to look at me. His face immediately turned red and he looked away. “Uh, no, of course not. Why would I be sneaking out? Merlin Camry, you know what they say about assuming things.”

I frowned. Back to the rambling then, are we? “So you’re not sneaking out?”

Al’s face turned an even deeper shade of red. “What if I am?”

“Can I come?” I jumped off the couch and rushed over to him. I needed out. Space. I needed space, deep breathing be damned. Since when did deep breathing work for anything anyway?

Al looked at his feet and ran his hand through his hair. “I, uh, I don’t think that–“

“Please Al? Can I please come with you?” I reached out and grabbed his hands. “Please?”

Al pulled his hands out of mine and coughed. “Look Camry, why don’t you just go upstairs and–“

“No!” I shouted. I felt a bit bad when Al jumped. “I need to get out of here, but there’s no way I’m wandering the corridors alone this late at night!”

Al looked at me, really looked, and I guess he saw that I wasn’t fooling around with him because he nodded. He pushed open the portrait hole and waited for me to step out. I did, and I felt as though a heavy weight was lifted off of me the second the portrait hole closed to reveal the Fat Lady.

“Boys again, then? You certainly do get around, don’t you?”

I smiled at the Fat Lady, too relieved to be out of the common room to care about teasing her. I just started walking, and hoped that Al was following. He was.

We walked in silence a for a bit. I was waiting for Al to talk, I didn’t want to talk if I was going to make him uncomfortable. It didn’t take too long though.

“Did you have a fight with Vanessa or something?”

“What? No!” I looked at him. Al raised his hands as a sign of surrender. “Why would you ask that?”

Al shrugged. “It’s just you needed out of the common room and I know that if you fought with someone other than Vanessa then she’d be with you, so I just thought...”

I frowned a bit. “No, I didn’t fight with anyone, I just needed out of the common room. I was distracted and didn’t get a chance to get the jitters out.”

“Huh? Get the what out?” Al furrowed his eyes brows and frowned. He looked absolutely adorable.

“I have this theory, see, that the common rooms after hours–they’re like prison–they lock us in and we can’t get out without reprimand! I can’t handle it! I have to walk the school every night before I go there or I break down. I just can’t function, you know?”

“Oh.” Al looked like he didn’t know what to say. He probably didn’t. I just shrugged.

“So why are you out after hours?”

Al rubbed the back of his neck while we descended the stairs. “I’m just a bit hungry is all.”

“There’s no food in the Great Hall right now.”

“No, but there is in the kitchens.”

I stopped at the bottom of the stairs. “We have kitchens?” How could we have kitchens and only Al know about them? All those hungry nights? All those missed lunches? All those days of sleeping in and going through classes completely starved? I didn’t have to go through any of that? Ever?

“Yes. We do.” Al nodded and looked at me as if I was in the process of growing a third arm.

“Why did I not know this?”

“Where did you think all of your food was coming from?”

I glared at Al for a moment. “Magic!”

Al laughed at me. “You thought it was just magically created out of nothing.”

Well, don’t try to make me feel like an idiot or anything. “No, obviously not–“

“So you–“ Al stopped abruptly and looked down a corridor.

“So I–“

“Shh!” Al waved at me. “I think I hear someone.”

“What are you talking about? There’s no one around.”

Then I heard it too. A distant voice down the very corridor that Al was looking in. “Argh! Damned tapestries, always getting in my way! Don’t know why Minerva doesn’t just burn the damned things!”

I froze. Jenkins was heading directly towards us. Jenkins was the old, senile, sadistic caretaker that had replaced a man named Filch. My father told me once that Filch was always trying to get students hung upside down by their toes, or something like that.

“What do we do?” I whispered as loudly as I dared to.

“Run!”

Al grabbed my hand and together we dashed through the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. I’d never run so hard in my life. I knew we had to be making an unbelievable amount of noise, but I couldn’t hear anything over the blood pumping violently through my ears.

After three stair wells, five doors, and countless corridors we came to a slow stop. When we finally lost all of our momentum I fell to my knees and gasped for air. I really needed to get into shape. With all the running it was turning out that I had to do, I was going to hurt myself if I didn’t.

“You okay?” Al asked, breathing heavily.

“Yeah!” I managed to gasp out between haggard breaths.

I stood up and leaned against the wall. That was close. We were almost caught. My eyes suddenly shot open. We almost got caught. If we’d gotten caught I would have gotten detention. I narrowly escaped detention.

“We’re out after hours!” I had to force myself to speak quietly.

“You’re just figuring that out now?”

I glared at Al for a moment. “What if we get caught? With all that noise we just made? Oh man, I can’t breathe! I can’t have detention, okay? I just can’t!”

Al ran his hand through his hair. “Look, Camry, it’s fine, okay? We’re not getting caught.”

I shook my head. “We will. We’re going to get caught and then I’ll get detention, and then I’ll never get a decent job because employers will look at my horrible marks and then see that I’m a delinquent on top of that and I’ll die hungry in a ditch!”

I put my hand on my chest, trying to force myself to breathe. Al put his hand on my shoulder, but then seemed to think twice about it and removed it.

“Look, you’re not going to die hungry in a ditch, okay? We’re not going to get caught.”

I nodded. “Yes we are! We almost just did!”

“No, we didn’t. We got away in time, and we’re not going to get caught.”

“What if he’s not talking so loud next time? After the racket we made he’ll be actively looking for us Al!”

“He’s not going to find us!”

“What makes you so damned sure? Huh?” I was forcing myself to stay quiet, but I really want to beat him senseless and shout loudly at him.

“Because!” Al reached into his robes and pulled out a cloak. “I have this!”

“A cloak? So what, are we going to throw it over his head so he can’t see us and run away?” I rolled my eyes.

Al just glared at me for a moment and then stuck his arm into the cloak. I choked on my shock. His arm disappeared.

“Bloody hell Al! You have an invisibility cloak?” I reached out to grab it, but Al quickly stuffed it back into his robes. I tried really hard not to be disappointed.

“Yes I do, now will you calm down?”

I looked at Al, he didn’t seem annoyed so much as flustered. I nodded. “Yeah. I’ll calm down.” After all, I couldn’t get caught if I was invisible now could I? It was then that my stomach let out a ravenous guttural noise.

Al laughed a bit before pointing down a corridor. “It seems I’m not the only one that’s hungry?”

I felt my cheeks heat up and just walked down the way Al was pointing. It wasn’t my fault! I’d run Hogwarts twice that day, who wouldn’t have been hungry? No one, that’s who!

I turned to Al. “Where’d you get that cloak from?”

“My dad, actually. He got it from his.” Al shrugged at me.

“Why didn’t he give it to James? Wouldn’t it make sense to give it to the eldest child?”

Al smiled a bit. “James got something else.”

“Consider my curiosity peaked?” I looked at Al, hoping that I had secret mind powers that I hadn’t been aware of and was quietly convincing him to tell me what James got.

Al’s small smile turned into a grin. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’ll be peaked for a while then.”

I pouted at him as he stopped in front of a painting. “Please tell me? I’ll be your best friend!”

“Tickle the pear.”

Excuse me? “Excuse me?”

Al pointed at the painting. “Tickle the pear.”

“You’re trying to get me to do something stupid just so you can tell people, aren’t you?”

Al laughed at me and then shook his head. He reached forward and tickled the pear. I watched, fascinated, as it giggled and morphed into a door knob. Al turned it and the painting swung open to reveal a massive kitchen.

Al stepped through and held the door open for me. I stepped through and then stumbled a bit, but managed to catch myself.

“Master Potter!”

I looked down and saw the ugliest creature I’d ever seen in my life. What the hell was that thing? I took a step behind Al.

“Dorburn!” Al smiled and kneeled down so that he was level with the hideous thing. “How are you today?”

“Dorburn was so lucky! Got to help with the pudding!”

“So that’s why it tasted so well!”

The tiny thing–apparently named Dorburn–looked about ready to wet itself from Al’s praise.

“What does Master Potter and his friend want from the kitchens?”

Al ruffled the thing’s head, where hair would have been on the person. “I’m sure we’ll both just love whatever you bring us.”

Dorburn emitted a high-pitched, eye watering sound and ran off deeper into the kitchen. Before Al could even stand up, I knelt down next to him. “What the hell is that thing?” I made sure to ask as quietly as possible, so as not to offend whatever it was.

Al stood up and looked at me, yet again, as though I was in the process of growing a third arm. “Dorburn is a house elf.”

“House elf?” I peered deeper into the kitchen as saw that there were quite a few of them at work.

“You’ve never seen one before?” Al asked as he sat down.

I sat down across from him and shook my head. “Mum refuses to have one. Something about loyalty and gratitude to some girl she went to school with.”

“Yeah?”

“I never really thought much on it. I can clean my own room and cook my own food, so it’s not like my life was lacking without one, you know?”

Al nodded. “We have one, but he’s so old that he can’t do much cleaning anymore. He’s mostly just there these days. Kind of cranky, but my Dad loves him.”

“What’s his name?”

“Kreacher.”

I wrinkled my nose. “What a lovely name.”

Al shrugged. “We didn’t name him.”

“I guess not.”

We lapsed into an awkward silence after that. I tapped my fingers on the table, Al looked around the room. I was about to make a last ditch effort and bring up Charms, but I couldn’t bring myself to go quite that far. Charms. Blah.

Thankfully, we were saved by Dorburn, the ugly–yet still, apparently quite the looker amongst house elves, if the other one in the corner was any indication–beast. He dropped chicken breasts marinated in orange sauce and spiced potatoes in front of us. It smelled delicious.

Al smiled at the tiny, slightly unclean smelling, creature. “Wow Dorburn! This looks amazing! Did you make it yourself?”

Dorburn’s mouth twisted into a hideous little smile and he nodded so vigorously that his ears flopped. I was worried they’d end up in my potatoes for a minute there. “Dorburn prepared the potatoes and the sauce for’s the chicken! It was Lintis that made the chicken.”

“Well, I can just tell that I’m going to enjoy the potatoes the most!”

“Thank you Master Potter! Dorburn is unworthy of such praise.”

Al patted Durburn’s head and laughed. “You are most definitely worthy of this praise Dorburn!”

To this day I still swear that the ugly little House Elf started crying at that point. “Dorburn must return to work!”

And with a snap of the creature’s fingers, it was gone. And we were once again left in an awkward silence, but this time at least we had food to occupy ourselves. It really was delicious, but I felt that the chicken was better than the potatoes. The orange sauce was a bit salty. I wondered for a moment it that wasn’t from Dorburn crying into as he made it or something like that. The mental image that gave me made me cringe a bit and turn to the potatoes instead.

“So what’s with that?” I asked, referring to Dorburn.

“What do you mean?” Al got this dimple in his forehead when he was confused, I noticed.

“Dorburn,” I pointed to where the house elf had been previously, “What’s with the love affair?”

Al laughed, really laughed, and it made me smile a bit.

“My dad and aunt Hermione always told me to treat house elves with kindness and respect.” He was still chuckling a bit. “When I came down here for the first time I met Dorburn and I treated him the way my parents taught me to, and I guess he just really liked being treated that way. He’s gone out of his way to help me and do me favours ever since.”

“Oh.” I took another bite of chicken. “How’d you know about the kitchens anyway?”

Al grinned at me. “Family secret.” Al then winked at me, and then seemed to realize what he did because he blushed scarlet soon after. I giggled at him. He was just too cute sometimes.

“Well, will I ever be allowed to know?” I leaned forward, fighting back laughter.

Al leaned forward as well, still red but seemingly more confident, and motioned for me to lean closer as well. I did. He took a deep breath before shaking his head. “No.”

I scoffed and shoved him back into his seat. “Git!” I shook my head and we both laughed.

Al glanced at his watch. “We should head back now.” I wasn’t wearing a watch so I grabbed Al’s wrist and pulled it over to see the time. I was shocked to see that it was two in the morning.

I nodded. “Yeah, we really should.”

Al opened the door for me and we started on our way back to the Gryffindor common room. For whatever reason, I felt much more at ease.

“So tell me something about your parents.”

I looked at Al. “Why?”

“Well, I told you a bit about mine–with the house elves and all–so now I want to hear something about yours.”

“Oh.” I thought for a minute about what to say. “Well, my mum is seriously divination crazy. She’s always making predictions and things that she can make happen, like burnt dinners and such. I don’t really talk to her much more than I have to, she’s always telling me to be better at Divination class and making predictions about my love life and things like that.”

“Not close then?”

I shook my head.

Al frowned a bit. “That sucks, I’m really close to both my parents. More so to my mum, but I’m fairly close to my dad too.”

“Well yeah, but your parents are awesome. Your mum was a player for the Harpies! Your dad, well, I guess that’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?”

Al blushed and rubbed the back of his neck for a moment. “Yeah, but it’s got nothing to do with their jobs. Who really cares about that stuff, you know? I guess it’s just that I spent a lot of time with them growing up, mostly mum though. They always just encouraged me and my interests and things.”

I smiled. “Yeah, my dad does that. He’s a bit on the high and mighty side, but he’s never judged me for anything. He’s always telling mum to back off of the divination stuff around me, because he knows I hate it.”

Al grinned at me in a way that made me slightly uncomfortable. He was looking at me like I’d just told him I was going to give him a puppy or something. I felt very awkward, but that didn’t last long because that’s when I heard Jenkins randomly ranting about the suits of armour.

Al heard it too because he stopped smiling. He grabbed my hand and we started to run the opposite way. Al turned the corner first, but then shoved himself backwards before I had the chance to turn. “What the bloody hell Al!” I snapped quietly. “Jenkins is coming this way!”

“So is Longbottom!” Al snapped.

I felt my eyes widen to twice their normal size. “What?” I could feel myself starting to panic, I was having trouble breathing.

Al looked around a bit, I didn’t take much notice to what he was doing until he grabbed both my arms and shoved me into the wall. “What are you doing?”

“Don’t make a sound!” Al gave me a pointed look before reaching into his robes and throwing his cloak on me.

I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t understand why Al wasn’t under the cloak with me. Was the boy stupid? Did he want to get caught?

Only a moment or two later Professor Longbottom turned the corner at the same time as Jenkins. I could feel my heart pounding against my chest.

“What are you doing out here boy!” Jenkins demanded while Longbottom gave Al an appraising look.

Al looked at Jenkins, looking completely innocent, and cleared his throat. “Well, sir–“

“Enough! I don’t need to hear any excuses!”

“Jenkins.” Longbottom interrupted. “I think I can handle this.”

“You wouldn’t know how to handle something if it–“

“Jenkins! That’s enough. Mr. Potter, you realize it’s nearly two thirty in the morning, don’t you?”

“Yes Professor, I really do.”

Professor Longbottom crossed his arms over his chest while Jenkins tapped his foot impatiently. Al looked just as innocent as ever. What was he doing?

“Would you care to tell me what this reason is?”

I gulped. Did Al have a ready-to-use excuse? I doubted it.

“Well, sir, it was Lily, you see.” Maybe he did?

“What about her? Is she alright?” Longbottom asked, immediately worried. Wow, Al really knew how to play our head of house.

“Yes, she is. Now, at least. See, she was having some boy troubles and she was really upset. I got this owl from her earlier and I rushed out to find her. I know I should have gotten permission first, but I was so worried that I completely forgot to.” Al gave a wide smile, and shrugged. I felt my stomach flip at the site.

I suddenly felt butterflies in my stomach. I felt a little guilty as I realized that the only reason he had to do this was because I was using his cloak instead of him. He hadn’t intended on me coming with him and he was risking detention to protect me from one.

I felt a bit warm at the thought. No one had ever done something like that for me before. Admittedly, no one had ever had to, but still. I couldn’t believe I was looking at the same blushing boy from that day on the Hogwarts Express. I couldn’t believe that Al had it in him to be so charismatic and charming. I’d never seen him act that way before.

“Well,” Professor Longbottom sighed. “you broke the rules, but your actions are understandable. I suggest you hurry on up to the common room.”

I could easily see why Longbottom had fallen for Al’s excuse. Anyone would fall under Al’s spell while he was behaving like that. All confident, sweet, and charming.

“Yes sir, that’s where I w–“

“I can’t believe you’re falling for that!” I cringed as Jenkins could have ruined everything.

He didn’t though, Longbottom just glared at him. “Enough with you!”

Jenkins shook his head and stormed off muttering about gullibility and despicable teenagers.

“Sorry about him Al.” Longbottom grinned.

“No problem. You were right though, I should get going.” Al shrugged.

“Yes you should. I’ll be going now as well, I expect you to go straight to the common room.”

“Yes sir.” Al grinned and gave Longbottom a salute. Longbottom just laughed and shook his head as he left.

Al waited for him to turned the corner before he blushed and rushed over to me. He pulled the cloak off and all I could do was stare. Was that the Albus Potter everyone else got to see?

“Sorry.” He whispered. “But we have to get back now.”

I nodded, still unable to find my voice, and quickly followed him through the halls. After a bit, though, I found my voice.

“You know, Al,” I said as quietly as I could without whispering. “That was pretty smooth.”

Al laughed. “Neville’s nothing. You should see me smooth talking everyone else.”

“Get caught out after hours a lot, do we?” I bit back a giggle.

Al just grinned at me. I smiled back. We walked right by the place I’d seen Malcolm with Lucy, and I really didn’t care. So what if he moved on?

I was starting to realize that it really wasn’t the end of the world.

oooOoooOoooOooo

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