Chapter 11 : Someone Please Teach Me How To Tell A Lie
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Gryffindor Common Room
When I climbed through the Fat Lady’s portrait hole after another grueling half-hour of golf ball catching (I got twenty-one out of fifty three—nearly half!), the first thing I saw was about ten people circled around James and Albus, watching something they were doing with mild interest. The second thing I saw was Iris glaring daggers at me. Eh?
‘What?’ I asked, vaguely confused.
‘Oh, nothing.’ Iris said from her red, velvety armchair, still looking at me as though I’d just killed five Pygmy Puffs in one go with my bare hands.
‘Er.’ I raised an eyebrow. There was most definitely something up. ‘Come on, tell me. What’s wrong?’
Iris glowered. ‘Nut-thing.’ She stretched out the word, tapping her ling fingers on a page of her book. Creepy. Have I done anything in the past twenty-four hours that might’ve somehow deeply offended Iris? I dunno, I’ve been pretty much clean. I haven’t broken/destroyed/lost anything of hers, at least. Or have I? I screwed up my face, trying to remember. Nope, I’m quite sure.
‘I know there’s something wrong.’ I said irritably. ‘Why don’t you just tell me what I did and we can just get it over with?’
‘I told you—nothing.’ Iris attempted a casual shrug, but her posture was far too stiff to pass it off. Gah, she’s bloody pissed. And I’m fairly sure it’s me she’s all pissy at. I gave up trying to wrestle an explanation out of Iris and shuffled away, wincing as my left shoulder ached.
‘Hey—why’re you holding a broomstick?’ Iris piped up from her chair.
I’d completely forgotten about the Cleansweep Seven in my hands.
‘Er—this isn’t mine.’ I held it up. ‘It’s supposed to be Albus’. I’m just—handing it over to him. He—left it in… Herbology…’
Holy feck, that has got to be the worst lie I’ve ever told.
‘Why did he bring his broom in to Herbology?’ Iris asked flatly, eyes narrowing behind the thin frames of her spectacles. ‘The last time I checked, Herbology didn’t entail flying around on enchanted pieces of wood.’
‘He… had Quidditch practice after Herbology—so, naturally, he didn’t want to run up and down to his dorm just to get his broomstick—he brought it down with him, so after Herbology he just went off to Quidditch practice.’ I finished triumphantly.
‘So why’re you holding his broomstick?’ Iris’ eyes got very wide then. It seemed she was trying to send me a telepathic message.
‘Er. He appeared to have left it outside the Fat Lady’s portrait so I brought it in for him…’ by now I was shaking and sweating with nervousness and anxiety. My palms felt like they’d been thoroughly doused in water. Iris would have to have an IQ somewhere in the negatives to believe that crackpot, senseless fabrication I just told her. Actually, it’s such a weak excuse I don’t think it’s even worthy to be considered as a lie.
‘How forgetful of Albus.’ Iris commented dryly, and went back to her book. I got the feeling she was faintly disappointed by something. ‘Wouldn’t it have been a much better lie if you’d said someone’s broomstick was lying outside the portrait hole and you brought it in to find its owner?’
Oh yes. Um, well, that would’ve been a much better lie, of course.
Iris went back to her book, flipping some pages nonchalantly.
‘I’ll—I’ll be going.’ I muttered, and hurried off. What was that all about? Iris obviously knew something was up and yet she just dropped the subject like that. Very fishy, I should say.
‘—I’m willing to bet on it!’ I heard a familiar voice say shrilly.
I turned around, interest piqued. Was that Albus? I walked tentatively towards the group of people who’d gathered around James and Albus.
‘What’s going on?’ I asked the person closest to me. It turned out to be one of James’ peculiar friends—this seventh-year named Hugh No-Last-Name. Just plain Hugh. I reckon Hugh must’ve had a seriously bad last name for him to omit it like that. The worst I’ve ever heard of is probably Longbottom (yeugh).
‘James and Al are having one of their bets again.’ Hugh muttered back, excited grin lighting up his face. I could sort of see why—James and Albus have these psychotic bets a lot. And they’re the sort of people who’d go to any lengths to make sure they don’t lose the bet. It’s very entertaining to watch. I remember last year they had one of their craziest bets yet—James and Albus stripped completely bare and ran around the entire school, and the first to get caught by a person of authority lost. Slightly disturbing, but I was hugely amused by the sight of two skinny boys bursting through the Great Hall stark naked. It’s always fun to laugh at people who embarrass themselves. Usually it’s the other way around for me.
‘What’s it about?’
‘I think it’s something about staying awake…’Hugh No-Last-Name said, pushing back his dirty-blond hair.
I strained my ears to hear more. If I stood on my tiptoes, I could just about see James and Albus nearly nose to nose, poking each other in the chests.
‘—how much are you willing to bet?’ James asked eagerly.
‘If I win, I get…’ Albus thought for a bit, tapping his chin lightly. ‘…your signed photograph of the Falmouth Falcons.’
Ooh. That’s harsh. Falmouth Falcons (their motto: “Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads”) is James’ favorite Quidditch team. A few years ago, he went to this game against Falmouth Falcons and Kenmare Kestrels (Falmouth Falcons won), broke into Falmouth Falcon’s locker rooms and practically begged the entire team to sign this photograph of the team. It’s now his most treasured possession. I should know—I tried to touch it once when I was still a naïve eleven-year-old and the hairbrush James cursed up my nostril took several days for St. Mungo’s to remove.
‘What?’ James exclaimed, outraged. ‘That’s bloody unfair.’
‘So the bet’s off, then?’
I knew what James’ answer was going to be before it escaped his mouth. James would never refuse a dare in front of this many people. Lucy Thomas and Gwen Doleen trotted over to join the curious crowd. ‘What’s happening?’ Gwen Doleen hissed, and Hugh No-Last-Name quickly filled her in.
There was a slight, agonized pause as James thought it over.
‘Fine. But if I win—oh, and I will win—I get your lucky socks.’
Everyone in the group gasped simultaneously. Albus went pale. I should explain. For as long as I can remember, Albus has always—and I honestly do mean always—wears this pair of foul, moldy lucky socks whenever he has a Quidditch game. He insists it helps him win and tunes me out whenever I try to lecture him on the importance of foot hygiene. I mean, wearing the same unwashed sock during every Quidditch match you’ve has since second-year isn’t sanitary, right? Yeugh. There’s probably pounds and pounds of accumulated toe jam crusted over in those socks. I’ve seen it before—it’s one of his Dad’s old socks. A filthy, grimy pair of Snitch-patterned, truly unsightly socks.
James smiled satisfactorily as Albus sputtered.
‘Fine!’ Albus thundered. ‘You’re on! First one who falls asleep loses!’
They shook on it, both wearing identical expressions of fierce determination on their faces.
‘The dare is to see who can stay up the longest?’ I asked Hugh No-Last-Name.
‘Yeah. They’re a right pair of barmy wankers, aren’t they?’ he replied cheerily.
‘Right in one.’
Gryffindor Girl’s Dorm
This is so stupid.
I could just about see the faint outline of the Cleansweep Seven in the dark. My fingers probed around for the polished wood and I held it uncomfortably against me, trying not to make any rustling noises.
I cannot believe I’m actually considering talking to a broomstick.
I bet Scorpius sodding Malfoy is wetting his pants laughing right now. This cannot possibly be an actual Quidditch-learning method.
I’d waited patiently until I was completely sure Elisha, Iris and Poppy were asleep before lugging it out from under my bed. I mean, there’s absolutely no sense in this. I may not be an expert on Quidditch, but I’m fairly sure I won’t suddenly acquire superior Quidditch skills just because I chatted to a broomstick. And yet, here I was, sleeping with a broomstick right beside me. It’s bloody awkward and unpleasant to sleep beside a broomstick, by the way. The handle in poking me right in the arse.
I shifted to my side, trying to slip it higher up so I could face the handle. I froze as Iris snorted and rolled over in her sleep.
Am I honestly doing this?
I squinted in the darkness, running my hands over the bumpy wood. Ouch, the twiggy bits are really painful.
‘Hello, my friend.’ I whispered, and mentally punched myself in the face. Merlin, this is really stupid. My cheeks were burning, even though there was no one there to witness me conversing with an inanimate object.
I grasped the handle again, feeling for the dried bogeys. I’d tried to clean them off with a simple scourgify but to no avail. When all the cleaning spells I knew were exhausted, I’d resorted to scraping them off with some pieces of silver cutlery I’d filched from dinner. I’d gotten quite a few of them off but there was one particularly large bogey stuck on the tip of the handle. Yeurgh.
‘Er,’ I spoke as softly as I could. ‘Hi, I’m Rose Weasley. What’s your name?’
Needless to say, the broomstick did not utter a word in reply. If it did I’d choke on my own saliva.
‘I’m—er—fifteen going on sixteen and I’m your new owner. Er—Scorpius Malfoy is teaching me Quidditch. My Dad—he’s Ronald Weasley—used to ride your model, you know. I haven’t ridden you yet but I’m sure you’ll—er—make a very reliable flying partner. We’ll get along just fine if you don’t try to toss me to the ground. Right.’
‘Herghahsh.’ Elisha muttered in her sleep.
I waited for five minutes before continuing. ‘That was my friend Elisha. She knows I’m secretly learning Quidditch but she doesn’t know about you yet. I’ll introduce you to her soon, though.’ I got more and more enthusiastic. ‘I hope she hasn’t told anyone—you’re supposed to be a secret. Sorry about that.’
This is actually rather stress-relieving. Talking to someone—sorry, something—who won’t reply with a caustic quip or semi-veiled insult is sort of soothing.
‘I suppose I’ll have to ride you eventually…’ I murmured. ‘I’m not a very good Quidditch player, though.’
That’s an understatement.
‘… I expect I’ll be riding you in about a week or so…’
I can’t wait to see the look of everyone’s faces when I eventually speed around on a broomstick!
‘… I hope I’ll be bloody excellent Quidditch player next time! I’ll show ‘em…’
I woke up the next morning feeling unusually cheery. After performing my usual morning ablutions and carefully stowing the Cleansweep Seven under my bed, I marched downstairs to the Common Room, book bag swinging purposefully on my shoulder. I wonder if there’s going to be any Quidditch lessons for today—
I stopped short, pursing my lips at the sight of James and Albus sitting opposite of each other in their respective armchairs. They were staring each other with a sort of terrifying intensity, eyes as wide as saucers and never blinking an eye. They were the only ones there.
‘Morning.’ I greeted, walking up to them.
‘Morning.’ They grunted in unison, both of them not even bothering to tear their eyes away from each other.
‘I heard about the bet.’ I continued, placing my hands on my hips. I couldn’t suppress a tiny note of disapproval from entering my voice. I suppose I got that from my mum.
‘Yes.’ Albus replied stiffly, leaning back in his armchair.
‘We’ve been staying up all night.’ James informed me, a huge grin on his face. Even though the both of them probably hadn’t had any form of rest in the last twenty-four hours, James and Albus still looked fresh and wide-awake. No sign of any fatigue or exhaustion. I, on the other hand, get eye bags the size of Africa whenever I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep.
‘This is such a stupid bet.’ I told them irritably. ‘Don’t you know the side effects of getting no sleep include exhaustion, loss of appetite, increased stress levels, bad moods and difficulty in concentrating?’
‘Yeah, yeah, whatever.’ James said vaguely.
‘There might even be hallucinations.’
‘Won’t happen—James’ll cave first, anyway.’ Albus said gleefully, as though he’d already won the bet.
‘No I won’t!’ James immediately retaliated, eyes growing wider. ‘I’m not handing over my picture of the Falmouth Falcons!’
‘And I’m not letting go of my lucky socks!’ Albus cried, glowering fiercely. Whoa, it’s scary how Albus looks so much like Uncle Harry sometimes.
‘You do know Aunt Ginny will murder you both if she finds out?’ I crossed my arms.
James and Albus both whipped around in horror. ‘You wouldn’t!’
‘Why shouldn’t I?’ I smiled toothily. Of course I wasn’t really serious.
‘Don’t!’ James cried, genuinely frightened. I don’t blame him—Aunt Ginny is seriously scary whenever she gets mad. The way this huge vein throbs in her temple whenever she screams is very nightmare-inducing.
‘Don’t be a spoilsport, Rosie.’ Albus moaned, begging.
‘Anyway, I’m going to win soon, so it’ll be over in two days.’
‘I’m going to last for bloody longer than that!’ Albus said indignantly. ‘It’s you who’s going to lose. I can already feel your Falmouth Falcons photograph in my hands.’
‘And your socks are mine!’ James shook a fist dramatically.
‘No sodding way!’
I walked away, good mood already gone. Merlin, boys will be boys.
Author’s Note: Sorry this chapter was so short—it’s sort of a filler and the next chapter will definitely contain much more Rose/Scorp action! Keep reading/reviewing! (:
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