Chapter 7 : I Have An Inner Debate Over Cornflakes
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‘I’ve finally gotten someone to teach me how to play Quidditch.’ Was the first thing I said to Elisha as soon as she slid in opposite of me for breakfast.
I won’t lie, I do feel the slightest bit triumphant that I finally got someone. Even if that someone is a near stranger and a Slytherin. Though it’s starting to feel like a rather bad idea now. My feet still hurt a little whenever I step on it wrong. Even though memories of me falling off the broom are a little fuzzy, all my rationality is screaming at me to never even look at a broomstick again. And yet I’ve procured the assistance of Scorpius Malfoy to teach me Quidditch. Gah. Lately things have been rather disorderly and jumbled.
Elisha unpeeled a banana, shooting me an exasperated look. ‘You’re still going on about that?’ she sighed. Her eyes are still sleepy and her hair is all over the place. She shoved the banana rather violently in her mouth, smushing it all over the place. As I watched her I was strongly reminded of a large, hairy wild ape eating. I see Elisha’s table etiquette left much to be desired. ‘Rose, don’t be stupid.’
‘You lot have absolutely no right to restrict me from what I want, and what I want is to learn. How. To. Play. Quidditch.’ I enunciated gleefully, grinning my head off. ‘And play Quidditch I will. Ho ho.’
‘Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re astonishingly stubborn or just plain stupid.’ Elisha moaned. She finished up the rest of her nauseating banana. ‘I’m going with stupid.’ She decided.
‘Rose, do you want to break your ribs again?’ Elisha reprimanded, trying to make me see sense.
‘I’m willing to if it means learning how to play!’
‘Another thing – everyone knows you’re probably the clumsiest poor sod in school. Do you know playing Quidditch entails balance, hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes? No offence, Rosie Posie, but I don’t think you have either three.’ Elisha informed me.
I felt the slightest twinge of doubt. Elisha’s right, I don’t have any of those. ‘I can try to learn. Anyway, it’ll be me in the hospital, not you. Stop fretting so. I’ll be fine.’
Elisha’s eyes flashed. ‘If you hurt yourself again, I’m going to literally exterminate whoever’s teaching you. Who is it, anyway?’ Elisha poured herself a bloody huge glass of milk and proceeded to gulp it down furiously.
Blimey, I never knew milk spurting out of one’s nose could shoot that far.
I waited patiently for Elisha to stop choking on her chilled dairy beverage, wiping some spots of milk off my chin and cheek. Some of it got on my robes, too. Yuck. Wipe, wipe.
‘You didn’t just say Scorpius Malfoy, did you?’ Elisha coughed so hard I half-expected her to spew up her liver. ‘Scorpius fucking Malfoy?’
I nodded vaguely. ‘Yeah.’ I looked around the table for some blueberry pancakes. Yeugh, they’re drenched in milk. Alright, some cornflakes. I tipped some spider-shaped Tarantula Treaties (‘They keep crawling even after digested!’) in a bowl. Or should I go for Chimaera Crunch (‘Eat them and you’ll be able to breathe fire for hours!’)? I pondered this vital and imperative issue for a moment, and eventually decided on Pixie Puffs (‘One free real, live Cornish pixie in every box!’)
Bloody hell. Pixie Puffs are delicious but the free pixie they put in them is just about the worst marketing gimmick ever. I braced myself and ripped the top off a brand new Pixie Puff cereal box. Almost immediately, a violently blue Cornish pixie shot out, screeching, ‘You can’t catch me!’
I watched, mildly interested, as the Cornish pixie bulleted away, lugged up a jug of pumpkin juice and created a state of chaos and bedlam at the Ravenclaw table by pouring it on everyone’s head generously, cackling madly. McGonagall rushed over, shaking her fists.
‘Hey, you want some?’ I’d already stuffed a mouthful of Pixie Puffs in my mouth. I offered the box. Yum. Pixie Puffs always make me feel all tingly on the inside.
Elisha leaned back in her seat, slowly scrutinizing me. ‘What’s my middle name?’ she asked abruptly, this suspicious glint in her eyes. ‘Come on – tell me! If you’re really Rose Weasley you should know.’
I twigged. ‘Elisha, come off it—’
‘Tell me!’ Elisha demanded, voice so shrill and high a few people turned around to look inquisitively.
‘It’s Iphigenia.’ I said, grinning a little at the appalling name. ‘Elisha, this is ludicrous.’
Elisha still looked wary. ‘Ludicrous! Not as ludicrous as the fact that you’re having Quidditch lessons from Scorpius Malfoy, I’m sure. You’re supposed to hate Malfoys. Not to mention the fact that he’s an evil, foul Slytherin.’
‘Er – Scorpius is alright, I guess. For a Slytherin. He said yes, at least. So that means he’s somewhat willing.’
‘Good God.’ Elisha let out a huge breath. ‘Rose, don’t.’
‘And why the bloody hell not?’ I snapped back, irritated.
Elisha glared. ‘Because this is such a bad idea!’
‘No it’s not!’
‘Yes, it is!’
‘No it’s not!’
‘Yes, it is!’
‘It fucking isn’t!’
‘It fucking is—’
‘Erm.’ Suddenly, Iris is right beside us. ‘What’s going on with you two?’
‘Rose—’ Elisha began.
I shot her a look. Elisha’s known me long enough to recognize it as my Say One More Word I Will Rip Out All Your Slimy Innards and Guzzle On Them look. Elisha gave me a long-suffering look in return but thankfully she shut her gob. I certainly don’t want anyone else to know about this. Elisha, being a reasonably level-headed and fair person most of the time, acted as though I’d just told her I killed my grandmother when I told her about Scorpius. I shudder to think of how others would react. Merlin, if James or Hugo ever caught wind of this…
‘I’m going to the library.’ I announced tightly, and stalked off. I was about five feet away when I realized I was still holding the opened box of Pixie Puffs. Sighing exasperatedly at myself, I stalked back and thumped the box back down on the table. Then, just for good measure, I stuck my hand inside the box and took one whole handful. Iris and Elisha stared, and with good reason.
‘The fact that I had to walk back here to put the box back down does not, in any way, lessen the decorum, majesty and impressiveness of my dramatic exit.’ I announced, and then I stalked off. Again.
I’ve always loved Hogwarts’ library. While others generally avoid the Library like some deathly bout of Dragon pox, I go there whenever I can to relax. It’s so comfortable. I love the musty and scholarly smell of old parchment and leather bound covers. There’s barely anyone in the Library at eight on a bright Sunday morning; just the way I like it.
I sat down at my favorite table (the one way back – you can’t even see it if you don’t round a certain corner) and flipped open Quidditch Through The Ages. Well, if I’m going to play Quidditch I might as well learn more about it, yeah? I ran my finger down the index and flipped to Basic Rules and Regulations – Quidditch In A Nutshell.
There are fourteen players in one Quidditch game, seven on each team. A team must be comprised of three Chasers (see page 81 for more on Chasers) two Beaters (see page 98 for more on Beaters), one Keeper (see page 111 for more on Keepers) and Seekers (see page 124 for more on Seekers).
Barely one paragraph and I’m already rather lost.
There are three types of balls that must be present in a proper game of Quidditch – the Quaffle, two Bludgers and the Snitch. There is only ever one Quaffle in a Quidditch game. The Quaffle is the largest ball, and it is generally red in color (with the exception of Quidditch in Panama – their Quaffles are a bright, sapphire blue). Quaffles have three slight indentations in them to enable easier handling (as shown in the picture below). To score a goal of ten points, the Quaffle must pass through one of the opposite team’s three hoops—
My head snapped up.
‘You know you can’t learn Quidditch from a book.’ Malfoy guffawed, gracefully settling himself down on the seat opposite of me. He effortlessly snatched the heavy tome from my surprised hands, prying them from my fingers.
‘I know you can’t learn Quidditch from a book, it’s just…’ I trailed off helplessly, feeling a little mortified. ‘I just thought I’d do some… background research.’ I finished weakly.
‘What’re you doing in the library?’ I said the first thing that came to mind. I don’t ever remember him being here before. Especially not in my little hidden corner of the Library.
‘I had no idea I had to get your permission to enter the library.’ He raised an eyebrow, flipping through Quidditch Through The Ages.
‘You know what I mean,’
Malfoy took a long time to ponder this. ‘I came to find you, I suppose.’
I found this rather strange. I’m also quite offended that he assumes the library is the first place to look if he ever wants to find me. Before I could ask him why he came to locate me, he gleefully suggested,
‘Why don’t we go down to the Quidditch pitch now?’
I stared at him for a moment. ‘Are you suggesting we start my Quidditch lessons now?’
‘You mean, right this minute?’
‘As in immediately?’
‘Er.’ I said carefully, heart thudding. I’m not scared, per se. It’s just… you know. Seems a bit too soon. And yeah, I’m a tad nervous.
‘Don’t worry, we’ll be starting off small.’ Malfoy correctly interpreted my hesitance. He glanced up from Quidditch Through The Ages, fingers lazily brushing the page. Bloody hell. He’s got really intense grey eyes. They’re sort of flecked with some blue, too. I looked away hurriedly.
‘Er.’ I repeated. My palms have suddenly moistened. It’s not because of Malfoy, mind you.
‘Come on. No one’s using the Quidditch pitch at the moment.’ Scorpius egged on. ‘Perfect time for you to practice in secret. You haven’t told Potter, I’m assuming?’
It took a moment for me to figure out who this ‘Potter’ was. It’s weird, hearing James being called by his last name. ‘No. I hope he never finds out.’ I said fervently. Scorpius laughed, and I’m surprised to find it’s a rather pleasant laugh. Not your typical greasy, slimy Slytherin-type sneers and cackles, but a nice laugh. Nice. Oh Merlin, nice. There really is something wrong with me.
‘Okay, I s’pose.’ I agreed tentatively. Malfoy grinned from ear to ear. ‘Oh, and you sure the Quidditch pitch is completely empty? I mean - no offense – I don’t especially fancy having anyone I know seeing us, um, together.’
Merlin, that sounds so mean. As if he’s some repulsive creature and I can’t sully my reputation by letting anyone else see me within five miles of him. ‘You know, people would talk – and – um, James would be furious—’
‘It’s okay, I understand.’ Malfoy interrupted, though his tone was somewhat irritated. ‘Bloody Potter.’
I stayed silent, fidgeting awkwardly.
‘I’ll go grab two brooms, you meet me at the Quidditch pitch in five, yeah?’ Before I could reply, he sped off with all the enthusiasm of a five-year-old boy on Christmas morning.
I looked back down at the moving cover of Quidditch Through The Ages. A pair of Quidditch players in red and purple robes were hovering and passing a Quaffle between them, beaming brightly.
I stood in the middle of the lush green Quidditch pitch, peering about. Scorpius is nowhere in sight. The Quidditch pitch is absolutely deserted, save for the occasional Booger Beetle that scuttles by. Just as well. I’ve never noticed this before, but the grass in the Quidditch pitch is very green. Like, lurid, barf green. It hurts my eyes. A brief, chilly breeze suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and I clutched my robes closer.
‘I’m just going to go now.’ I said to no one in particular. I nervously inched out, grass crunching crisply under my sneakers. I’ve never stood smack bang in the middle of the Quidditch pitch before. Where the heck is Malfoy, anyway? I wonder if Malfoy will mind if I just call this whole Quidditch thing off—
Then something flies so close to me it ruffles my hair and nearly decapitates me. I stumbled about in an abrupt whoosh of wind. ‘What the—’
I looked up, terrified. It took me a long moment to process what I was actually seeing – a half-naked Scorpius Malfoy. I’m bloody serious. Although it doesn’t make much sense.
Even from all the way from the ground I could hear him laughing as he spun around, gamboling in the air. It looks fecking terrifying, what he’s doing. He’s only got his pants on, and his upper body is completely, deliciously bare. And well – you know – I’m just your average female, after all. He’s still too far away for me to see anything properly, though. If Iris were here, the rippling muscles in Malfoy’s forearms as he swerved sharply would’ve made her spontaneously combust.
He sped down lower, heading right towards me. Just when I thought he was going to impale me with his brand new Sparkspeed Millennia, he somehow managed to stop his broom in the nick of time, so that there’s barely an inch of space between me and the tip of his broom.
I think my legs may be paralyzed with fear.
‘Why is your shirt off?’ I said bluntly, narrowing my eyes at him. He simply chuckled. Quite evilly, I should say.
If he weren’t a Malfoy/Slytherin, I think I might’ve simply turned into a steaming puddle of Rose goo there and then. Malfoy – well – he’s much fitter than I thought he would be.
Fuck it, Scorpius is gorgeous. Especially now, when his hair is all ruffled and messy from the wind, and that light dusting of blond hair on his chest and he’s got this glimmering sheen of sweat—
Right. I should stop.
‘It feels better flying this way.’ Malfoy explained. ‘The cold air is seriously amazing.’ He enthused, eyes gleaming with excitement. My eyes involuntarily flitted down to his abs. I caught sight of some astonishingly well-developed abdominal muscles before I tugged my eyes back up, flushing. I hope he didn’t notice. Ugh.
‘Could you please put your shirt on?’ I gritted my teeth, taking an anxious step backwards. It’s fairly distracting, trying very hard to train my eyes on nowhere else except his face when what I really want is to properly check him out. Must restrain self. He shot me this maddeningly smug look and retrieved a black sweater from under his arm. I pretended to take an unnatural interest in the Quidditch stands as Malfoy took an agonizingly long time to tug his sweater on. Really, you’d think he’d never seen an item of clothing in his life.
Or he could be doing it on purpose.
Just when I was going to shove it down his huge, bloated head myself, his fair-haired head popped through the neckhole. I mentally sighed with relief. My brain is full of utterly blasphemous thoughts, most of which involve Malfoy’s recently bare upper body. I mentally pictured me shoving all these thoughts into a large trunk. Then I pushed said trunk off a very high precipice. There. All gone. Yes.
‘So, what’re we going to start with?’ I asked, crossing my arms. ‘And – um – not too hard, please. I’d rather we start small.’
‘Take your robes off, first.’ Malfoy said, lugging another battered broomstick over.
I ignored the sexual connotations of that sentence and pushed the heavy black sleeves of my robes off, folding them up and placing them on the ground next to me. Even though I’m wearing a red jumper and long jeans the chill weather made me shiver. Malfoy shot me a vaguely concerned look before handing me the broomstick. I didn’t take it. Malfoy shook the broomstick. ‘Go on.’ He said slowly, as though I might not have understood his gesture. I feel like an idiot.
‘Erm. The thing is… I’m not sure if we should start with a broomstick first.’ I chose my words carefully, not looking at Scorpius in the eye.
Thankfully, Scorpius doesn’t press the issue any further. He was momentarily stumped, though. ‘Well, then, I don’t know how we should start – ah. Wait. I’ve got an idea.’ He ran off again, leaving me alone in the pitch.
This is what’s going through my head now: Okay I’m really scared no broomsticks hate broomsticks maybe this was a bad idea BLOODY HELL SCORPIUS MALFOY WAS HALF-NAKED okay Rose don’t think about that well I don’t want to break more bones…
Oh look, Malfoy’s back. He was holding a wooden bucket full of something. He huffed as he set the bucket down, and he grabbed something from it. He showed me the thing resting innocently in his palm. ‘Here.’ He announced triumphantly.
‘A golf ball?’ My mind is spinning – I don’t recall there ever being Muggle golf balls present at a Quidditch game. Gah, everything I know about Quidditch could fit comfortable on the pointy end of a needle.
‘No, but we’ll work on your hand-eye coordination with this. Catching balls.’ He explained, tossing the golf ball between his palms at a very quick speed. Oh. Catching balls. Right.
‘Ah.’ I said, trying to look casual. The thing is, I’m not much for throwing or catching things. Somehow things always manage to miss my hands. It’s like I have a Repelling Charm all over my fingers.
‘Alright.’ Malfoy backed away ten steps, so that he was about seven feet in front of me. ‘Ready?’
I pushed an image of a golf ball plowing through my face and exiting brutally from behind hastily out of my mind. ‘More or less.’
‘Ball number one!’ His hand reared back and before I knew it the golf ball sailed past my outstretched hands and landed a foot behind me.
‘Never mind. Leave it.’ He instructed me, a small smile on his face. I scowled back. Stupid Malfoy. Probably rolling around in hysterical laughter inside. Malfoy dipped his hand inside the bucket again. ‘Ball number two!’ he called. This time I tried to focus on the white ball. Malfoy’s palms open – so that means he thrown the ball, right? I looked around wildly, not seeing ball anywhere. Then, out of nowhere, the ball thunked me on the head.
‘Ouch.’ I said loudly.
‘Sorry about that.’ Malfoy called cheerfully. ‘We’ll try that again.’
‘Maybe you should come closer?’ I suggested.
Malfoy looked at the distance between us. ‘This is hardly the English Channel, Rose. We’re only about seven feet apart.’ He said, but he stepped forward a little, anyway. ‘Alright, ball number three…!’
‘Ball number twenty-five!’ he called, throwing again. I’m getting rather desperate by now. Malfoy’s throws have become lighter and gentler, but I don’t even come close to catching them. Sure, they hit me on my neck, my chest, my upper arms, but none of them seem to be very eager to land in my palm. Sure enough, this Twenty-Five promptly zipped by me, clipping me painfully on the fingers as it did so.
‘It’s not me, the balls refuse to land in my hands.’ I waggled my palms up for him to see. If Malfoy’s getting annoyed or irritated, he certainly isn’t showing it. I’m half expecting him to hurl the ball at my face and screaming frantically that he can’t take it anymore.
‘Ball number twenty-six!’
‘Ball number thirty-nine!’
We’re only about five feet apart now.
‘Ouch!’ I yelped.
‘Argh, did that hit your eye?’
‘Yeah – ugh.’
‘Never mind, we’ll try again. Ball number forty!’
‘Ball number fifty-six!’ slight traces of impatience were beginning to show in Malfoy’s voice. Now, we were so close our chests were almost touching. Okay, not really but you get the point.
Malfoy threw in an exaggeratedly slow way this time – sluggishly pulling his hand back and releasing the ball in small, measured jerks. I’m fairly distressed by now – if I don’t catch this one I’ll never live it down.
Miracles of miracles, the ball plopped neatly into my hand and stayed there. Somewhere fifty feet below me, hell has frozen over. Hee hee.
‘Whooo!’ I jumped and whooped. ‘I caught it.’
Malfoy clapped once or twice. ‘Unbelievable.’ He congratulated. ‘Completely exemplary display of Quidditch and athletic talent.’
I stopped cheering and glowered. ‘Are you making fun of me?’
‘A little.’ Malfoy smirked good-naturedly. ‘Rose, I had to throw fifty-five balls before you managed to catch one.’
‘I know it’s not very good.’ I allowed, rubbing my forearms.
‘Rose – no offense –but that’s appalling.’ Malfoy settled down on the grass and patted the space beside him. I sat down, slightly put out. ‘And you want me to teach you to play Quidditch?’
‘It’s not impossible, yeah?’ I insisted. Then Malfoy leaned forward across my legs to retrieve a bottle of water. All of a sudden, he seemed far too close for comfort. I discreetly scooted away a little, the back of my neck feeling prickly. I dunno if he noticed. Hope not.
Malfoy screwed open the cap easily. ‘Not impossible but it’ll be hard.’ Malfoy said slowly after taking a long gulp of water. He handed the bottle over to me. I drank deeply, trying to hide my embarrassment. Merlin, you’ve no idea how much I hate being clumsy.
‘Let’s try again.’ I persisted, tugging him up. Malfoy snorted with laughter, and proceeded to collect stray golf balls for another session of throwing.
‘Let’s hope you do better now.’
I picked the golf balls up with him, strangely touched that this almost stranger was, you know, willing to put up with my inadequacy and incompetence with anything vaguely athletic and somehow turn me into some professional Quidditch player. Okay, maybe professional would be a little too optimistic but a fairly satisfactory player would be good.
‘Hey, Scorpius?’ Scorpius’ name rolled around strangely on my tongue. I realized this was probably the first time I’d said it out loud. He seemed to have noticed that, too, because he then straightened up and looked at me quizzically.
‘I just wanted to say...’ I said, unsure.
‘Thanks. For… you know, this.’ I gestured around awkwardly, hesitant smile on my face.
‘Don’t be stupid.’ Scorpius said briskly, finally picking up the last of the golf balls off the ground. ‘Right, you ready?’
I backed up so there was about five feet of space between us. ‘Yes.’
‘Here we go, ball number one…!’
Author’s Note: Squee! :D Hope you guys enjoyed the little bit of Malfoy sexiness I inserted here. Please do review! (: It makes me very very very happy to see a new review whenever I check. Like bounce-in-seat-and-squeal-delightedly sort of happy.
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