A/N: Oh, I know it's been forever! Again. Really and truly, I'm very sorry. Please forgive me? *looks endearing* This was meant to be one longer chapter (which was part of the reason it took so long) but then I decided it was just ridiculously long and cut in half, which means the next update will be really soon, I promise - i.e. as soon as this one's validated the second half will be in the queue. Anyway, I hope you enjoy :D
Scorpius gulped audibly, nervously attempted to flatten his hair down, and adjusted his tie self-consciously. Out of all the awful and utterly absurd things that had happened to him today, this definitely came top of the list.
“Yes, professor?” he said, endeavouring to sound as innocent as possible, given the circumstances, and valiantly attempting to assure himself that it could have happened to anyone.
Professor Rhapsody-Smythe, the Ancient Runes teacher, continued to glare at him from her position at the front of the classroom, placing her hands on her hips and narrowing her piggy eyes. “Don’t take that tone with me, Malfoy!” she snarled, pointing a piece of chalk threateningly in his direction. “Stay behind after the lesson, please; I would like a word with you.”
“All right,” he mumbled.
“What was that?!” Rhapsody-Smythe snapped the stick of chalk in two for added effect.
He gulped again. “I – I mean, yes of course, professor.”
The witch shot him another glare before turning back to the blackboard, summoning another piece of chalk, and finally allowing her class to enjoy a little snigger at Scorpius’s expense. His cheeks burning with mortification, he stared straight ahead at the teacher, attempting to appear riveted by every word she said in his eagerness not to anger her further. The girl at the next desk, Francesca Rivers, shot him an amused glance, which he ignored, though despite both himself and the humiliating situation, he couldn’t help noting the rather distracting amount of buttons that were undone on her blouse. It was probably indecent, actually, not that there was actually space in his mind for such thoughts just now. No, Scorpius, he chided himself firmly, just concentrate for God’s sake!
The problem was, concentration was something that he had always struggled to achieve during Ancient Runes, and now, when he was sleep-deprived and more than a little hung-over, the difficulty of this deed had only increased. In fact, today it had increased to such ridiculous levels that, to his own astonishment, he had actually fallen asleep only minutes after entering the class (forty minutes late, naturally). Yes, his head on his arms and his arms crossed on the desk before him, he had actually accomplished the considerable feat of falling asleep right in the middle of a lesson. He’d never been so embarrassed in his life. He could only hope that he hadn’t snored and/or sleep-talked.
Having noticed what had happen, the class had both pitied and laughed at him in equal measure (some had attended the party the previous night and were also nursing unfortunate hangovers), though one person who had not been even remotely amused was Professor Rhapsody-Smythe. A formidable woman at the best of times, she had been nothing short of outraged upon the discovery of his sleeping form at the back of her classroom, and, clearly offended by his lack of interest in the ancient text she had been translating, had thrown a well-aimed piece of chalk at his head. Having been unceremoniously awoken in this manner, Scorpius had at first considered suing (pelting students with chalk like this was illegal, surely?), but then had simply resigned himself to the fact that, just possibly, it might actually have been his fault.
In fact, his day had taken a wrong start right from the word go. He had woken with a start at ten thirty-five that morning (half an hour into his first lesson of the day), only to find himself lying on a terribly uncomfortable sofa in the Room of Requirement. He’d sat up, rubbed his head, realised the time, and leapt up at once, sprinting for the door (almost tripping over Fred Weasley’s unconscious body and observing the countless slumbering students slumped against chairs, tables, walls, etc as he went).
Once outside, he had contemplated briefly actually going to Ancient Runes, before realising what a stupid idea that was seeing as he was seriously hung-over and surviving on about two hours sleep. Unfortunately, just as he had come to his senses and decided to head for the common room, something happened that instantly informed Scorpius his day was about to get a whole lot worse: Louis Weasley, the ever-pompous Head Boy, had strolled onto the scene. Surprisingly brisk after the events of the previous night (he had insisted on staying up to supervise absolutely everyone and everything to ensure that nothing ‘unsavoury’ went on), Weasley had interrogated him for a good five minutes about why he wasn’t in class, refused to swallow his lie about having a free period, and deducted ten points from his house for tardiness, in addition to a further five for ‘having such a blatant disregard for authority’ (i.e. lying to the Head Boy).
Scorpius had hurried on, now having no intention whatsoever of attending the lesson and instead ploughing on in the direction of the common room, but had most unfortunately been caught by little Professor Blackthorn, the DADA teacher, as she tottered out of her classroom, a precariously piled stack of papers in her hands. Not even remotely convinced by his feeble lie about being in the hospital wing, she had thrust the papers at him and ordered him to take them to the staffroom for her and then return to whichever lesson he was supposed to be in or ‘face the consequences’.
Having delivered the papers, Scorpius had trudged back to the Runes lesson, made a quick and not exactly heartfelt apology to an irate Rhapsody-Smythe, sat down at his desk at the back of the classroom, and promptly fallen asleep, only to be woken from a rather bizarre dream involving broomsticks, bowtruckles, and Professor Wood a couple of minutes later.
All in all, not his most successful morning.
The remaining twenty minutes of Runes dragged on, and when the bell signalling the end of the lesson finally deigned to ring, Scorpius couldn’t have been happier. He hurried for the door ahead of the rest of the class, only to be called back by his still seething professor, and with a groan remembered about their ‘little chat’. With a last, wistful glance at the exit, Scorpius turned back towards the teacher’s desk as the final member of the class, Ravenclaw Bobby Harbour, closed the door behind him, sealing off his only means of escape.
A good ten minutes later, his head throbbing from Rhapsody-Scythe’s bellowing and his house a further twenty points down from their total the previous day (in addition to the fifteen Louis had deducted – out of nothing more than spite, Scorpius was convinced), Scorpius was finally permitted to head back to the Slytherin common room, to the one place he knew was completely and utterly safe. Here, there were no teachers, no stuck-up Head Boys, and no chance whatsoever of losing any more points for his house, all of which could only be a good thing.
There was, however, the danger of Bella.
While Bella was a deadly and terrifying entity at the best of times, today she was particularly so for Scorpius, because with her came the uncertainty of what may or may not have happened the previous night. While he was ninety-nine-point-nine percent sure that something had happened last night, for the life of him he couldn’t have said exactly what this unfortunate something was.
At around five thirty that morning (according to the grandfather clock in the seventh-floor prefects’ bathroom), he had woken up to find himself lying inches away from a sleeping Bella. Understandably unnerved by such an unorthodox occurrence, he had instantly fled and returned to the Room of Requirement, where he had spent the next hour or so playing a drunken game of Exploding Snap with a group of Hufflepuffs and subsequently, he presumed, fallen asleep.
All of this, he recalled quite clearly. However, what he couldn’t remember was just what had happened in the moments before his awakening in the bathroom, and frankly, this worried him just a little.
And so when he heard a very familiar voice calling, “Scorpius?” from somewhere behind him, he gave in to his most basic instinct: he panicked.
“Look, Bella, I didn’t –” he babbled instantly, only to turn around and find himself face to face with Grace. Oops.
She raised an eyebrow at him, looking rather insulted. “Bella?”
“Oh – um – sorry,” he said lamely.
She continued to look a little offended, though, as she began to survey him and take in his somewhat dishevelled appearance, her expression soon settled on one of firm disapproval, though she deigned to allow an inkling of concern to enter into it. “Merlin, you look rough,” she commented.
“Yeah, I know,” he agreed amiably, having no time to waste on either arguing with her or engaging in small-talk. “Please tell me you have some sort of hangover potion left?”
Grace pursed her lips, now adopting a judgmental sort of demeanour, an action that reminded him painfully of his mother. “Scorpius…”
“Yes, I know, I’m an idiot, I shouldn’t drink, etc,” he said impatiently. “Spare me the lecture. Can I please just have that potion? I’m dying here.”
She rolled her eyes, folded up her newspaper, and stood up. “This isn’t over,” she warned him, before sweeping away in the direction of the girls’ dormitories.
Feeling a little better now he knew that help was on its way, Scorpius sank down into one of the carved chairs. He picked up the newspaper someone had abandoned on a nearby table and started flicking through it absentmindedly. However, just as he was becoming absorbed in an article about a fifteen year old witch who had recently given birth to triplets, Grace returned, bringing a smoking goblet of potion with her.
“Here you go,” she said, handing it to him.
Scorpius threw it back without a moment’s hesitation and almost instantly felt fresh and awake and ready to face the day. Magic was a wonderful thing.
“Thanks, Grace,” he said gratefully. “You’re a life-saver.”
She still looked disapproving. “Did you even make it back to your dorm last night?” she asked. It was clear from her tone, however, that she was perfectly aware of the answer.
“Um, no,” he said sheepishly.
“So you just spent the night in the Room of Requirement?”
“Classy, Scor.” She rolled her eyes. “You really shouldn’t drink so much.”
“And what about you?” he demanded, his defence mechanism finally kicking in. “I know you, Grace, and there’s no way you’d kiss James-bloody-Potter without a good few Firewhiskys in you.”
He fixed her with a smug sort of look, satisfied that he had her. She could act as prim and proper as she liked, but the fact remained that she had lost control and made a fool of herself just like the rest of them. This was something that certainly didn’t happen very often, and so he was determined to take advantage of it. Merlin knew when such an opportunity would present itself again.
Grace suddenly looked very uncomfortable. “I guess you don’t know me very well, then,” she said quietly.
Oh God, had he upset her? Girls were ridiculously sensitive. After all, if she could dish it out then she should be willing to take it as well.
“Look, it was just a joke, okay?” he said in a half-hearted attempt at an apology.
When apologising to Grace, he usually tried to be sincere, but as he wasn’t even sure he’d done anything this time, he felt he had a decent excuse not to. She must have really made an effort to find his words insulting, as it had been a mild tease at best. The fact remained, however, that her eyes had widened almost fearfully, and she was biting her lip in an uncharacteristically agitated fashion, so she had clearly decided to be difficult and get upset about it.
“Look, we’ve all done it,” he continued, when she did not reply. “Everyone does stupid things when they’re drunk. But where’d you get the drink from, anyway? I mean, this was before there was any in there for the rest of us. Potter snuck some in for a select few, did he? Stupid bugger, that is so like him…”
“Scorpius,” she interrupted, “I wasn’t drunk.”
“And did he even know it was you?” Scorpius continued, not entirely registering what she had said. “Or did he just think he was snogging that blonde you were impersonating? What was her name? Anna, or something…?”
“Scorpius,” she repeated, much more firmly, “did you even hear what I said? I wasn’t drunk, and… and James was perfectly aware of who I was.”
“Oh.” Oh God. “So why did he – why did you…?” He trailed away, utterly bemused.
Grace licked her lips nervously. “Scor, what would you…?” she started, but then broke off. She took a deep breath, and tried again: “What would you say if I told you I was… was…”
“What?” he asked, his suspicion understandably aroused now.
Scorpius laughed. He couldn’t help it. Going – out – with – James – Potter. Grace. And James Potter. The very idea of it was just so utterly ludicrous.
“What’s funny about that?” she asked, fixing him with a glare that would have frozen water, every trance of nervousness vanishing in an instant.
He actually had to wipe a tear of mirth from his eye. “Sorry, Grace,” he chuckled, “but – but you and Potter? That’s a good one.”
“It wasn’t a joke,” she replied icily. “I am actually going out with James.”
For perhaps thirty seconds more, Scorpius continued to chuckle away to himself, but as the Grace’s expression grew steadily more murderous his laughter trailed away. Oh crap. Now he thought about it properly, taking into account her deadly serious tone and earnest expression, there might just be a chance that she had been completely sincere in her declaration. And now, should that turn out to have been the case, she would be totally pissed off with him for his lack of support. Oh God…
“Oh,” he said lamely. “Well, that’s… um…”
“Why is it so hard to believe?” she snarled, firing up. “Just because it’s me and not Bella, it’s so utterly inconceivable that I might actually have a boyfriend?”
“No,” he said quickly, although that was exactly what he had been thinking, “no, that isn’t –”
“Just because I’m not a total slut like Melanie or Bella, no one would ever want me, is that it?”
“God no, I didn’t mean that at all –”
“Like hell you didn’t!”
Grace shot him a withering look, before leaping up out of her chair and storming away in the direction of the girls’ dormitories.
“Grace!” he called desperately, but she paid him no notice. He sank back down in his chair, feeling annoyed, guilty, but most of all, bewildered. One thing was for sure: he really did not understand girls.
Scorpius spent the rest of the day with Bletchley and Pucey in the library, all three of them unashamedly hiding – Scorpius from Grace, Pucey from his girlfriend Georgina (they’d had a tiff), and Bletchley simply because he didn’t want to face up to the fact that Grace really did have a boyfriend. (At least, this was Scorpius’s guess, as Bletchley had refused to share his true motives with either of them, presumably afraid of seeming somewhat pathetic, which, of course, he did.) Despite this apparent desire for secrecy, however, Bletchley was annoyingly eager to discuss Hogwarts’ latest couple, much to the irritation of his companions.
“So, Grace and Potter then, eh?” he grunted for around the tenth time in as many minutes, irritably turning the page of his Charms textbook.
“Yes,” Scorpius replied wearily, thoroughly tired of discussing Grace. “And yes, it’s ridiculous; yes, it’s completely wrong; but no, I don’t think they’ll be breaking up anytime soon.”
Bletchley glared at him. “At least I wasn’t the one who pissed her off,” he retorted. “When she told me about her and Potter, I was supportive, unlike you.”
“Yeah, ’cause saying you approve of her boyfriend will make her more likely to sleep with you.”
“Shut it, Malfoy. At least she’s still speaking to me.”
“Hey, she’s speaking to me too, all right? She’s just a bit –”
“Oh, shut up, both of you,” Pucey snapped. In his defence, Scorpius supposed, he had put up with an entire afternoon of this petulant behaviour from two people he wasn’t even on particularly good terms with, and he had clearly come close to blowing his fuse on more than one occasion only to valiantly distract himself by becoming absorbed in his deathly dull Arithmancy essay.
“You’re both pathetic,” Pucey continued. “Martin, Grace has a boyfriend – get over it. And Scorpius, you should’ve been nicer about it, and you know you should have, so there’s no good arguing about it.”
“But this is Potter we’re talking about,” Scorpius protested, determined to get his point across. “James Potter. Am I the only one who hasn’t forgotten that we hate that bastard?”
Pucey rolled his eyes. “Whatever. You’re still pathetic.”
“Oh, bugger off,” Scorpius snapped, thoroughly tired of being spoken to this way.
Pucey had the nerve to look affronted by this. “Drop the attitude, Malfoy,” he said pompously, sweeping up his books and shoving them into his bag, before heading out of the library, leaving Scorpius and Bletchley staring after him in disbelief.
“Merlin, who died and made him Prefect?” Bletchley asked incredulously, unused to such behaviour from this particular fellow Slytherin.
Scorpius, too busy glaring at Pucey's retreating form and too shocked by being addressed in such a manner, barely registered this comment. “I’ve never liked him,” he said grumpily, though this wasn’t technically true. “Arsehole.”
Bletchley sighed. “He’s probably right, though, isn’t he? About Grace, that is.”
“Which makes him even more of an arsehole.”
“True. But I still think we need to apologise to her.”
“Yeah, I know.” Scorpius groaned, unwilling to admit this undeniable truth. “Merlin, I never thought I’d see the day when we’d be taking counsel from Pucey.”
Bletchley cocked his head to one side. “It’s a bit worrying, isn’t it?”
“Tell me about it. We’ll be asking him for dating advice next.”
“Well, at least he’s got a girlfriend.”
“You’ve got a point there. Then again, she is Goyle.”
“It’s better than no one.”
Bletchley, clearly tiring of this debate, simply said, “Whatever,” and stood up.
“Where’re you going?” Scorpius asked, somewhat mystified by this sudden variation in the routine he had become accustomed to over the last few hours.
“To dinner,” Bletchley said, as though it was obvious. “It’s almost six.
“Oh, right.” In hindsight, it probably had been fairly evident.
“And while we’re there, we can apologise to Grace.”
Ah. With regards to this suggestion, Scorpius was not quite so eager. Frankly, it was the last thing he felt like doing just now. If he was honest, actually, he was taking it as a personal insult that, out of all the hundreds of guys in the school, Grace had chosen to date Potter. After all, he had considered the two of them to have been reasonably close for the best part of four years, and then she had gone and done this. They had been allies, confidants, something akin to best friends, even, and yet she had so thoughtlessly cast him aside in this act of betrayal? It was simply inexcusable.
(Grace, of course, would no doubt be thinking the exact same thing about him, considering him a traitor of the first order, though Scorpius was determinedly disregarding all recognition of this and simply maintaining that she was totally in the wrong and he was completely without blame.)
On the other hand, after a moment’s consideration he realised he was rather hungry, and so after another moment wasted on hesitation, he leapt up and followed Bletchley out of the library.
When the pair reached the Great Hall, however, it was to be greeted by something utterly unexpected; a sight so shocking, in fact, that for a moment, Scorpius considered simply refusing to believe it, convinced that his eyes must be deceiving him. He then glanced at Bletchley, however, and from the look of utter bewilderment displayed on the other boy’s face, he could only conclude that it must be true, and Rose Weasley must really be sitting beside Grace at the Slytherin table.
Has hell frozen over? he wondered in alarm. You'd think I would’ve noticed.
A/N: Yeah, I can't say it's my favourite chapter, but it wasn't too bad, was it? Thanks for reading, anyway, it really does mean a lot :) Oh, and before I forget:
Important: the title of this fic will be changing to Pandemonium. (Hence the new summary.) Sorry, I know it's completely absurd of me to be changing the title so far in and I don't mean to be so difficult, honest, but it just doesn't fit anymore and is really annoying me, so I just couldn't help myself. Just thought I should let you know :D
Oh, and as always, of course, a huge thank you to Tomfeltonisdeadsexy for being such a wonderfully beta and correcting my horrible grammar xD
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