Chapter 3 : Gratitude will get you nowhere
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I woke to the sun creeping in past my open curtains, and for a few moments simply enjoyed the peace and quiet of the dorm. I smiled as I thought over the previous day’s win, and subsequent festivities, particularly when I thought of the likely state my brothers would be in when they eventually resurfaced. If my roommates’ comatose forms were anything to go by, the party must have been a late one indeed.
After a few minutes I slid out of bed, quietly collected my things, and headed for the girls’ bathroom. With each passing minute I felt gradually more alive, until... Oh bugger. I’d completely forgotten the other thing that had happened yesterday. More importantly, I’d forgotten about the resolution it had caused me to make, about voluntarily conversing with a Slytherin. In the cold light of day, a big part of me wanted to simply ignore the situation until it went away, but sadly my parents had ‘raised me better than that’. Putting yourself in mortal danger was fine, but bad manners... no chance. Not that you’d guess, looking at James and Albus, I thought resentfully, as I got into the shower. Why did I have to be the one that actually listens when Dad talks about house unity? I continued to mull over the general unfairness that was the life of a younger sibling as I washed, until I heard Electra and Chelsea enter the room. Hearing them was generally the way you knew they were coming, but though chatty to a fault, they were two of the sweetest and most loyal friends a girl could ever have.
“Did you see the way Louis was looking at you, Electra? Man, that boy has got it bad!”
“Hardly, he pretty much stares at anything with cleavage nowadays. Boys are so cute when they’re hormonally unstable.”
Okay, maybe not quite the sweetest ever.
“Huh-hem” I cleared my throat loudly as I exited the shower stall, and was gratified to see that at least Chelsea blushed a little when she realised who I was.
“Oh, hey Lils” Electra greeted me obliviously, “what’s your view on it? Is Louis particularly warm for my form, or is he just pubescent?”
“This may have escaped your notice, but he’s my COUSIN!” I replied, “So I neither have now, nor ever want, a view on it. Come on, we need to get a move on if we don’t want to miss breakfast.”
The two of them willingly followed me out of the bathroom, but unfortunately Electra hadn’t given up on the conversation: “Come on Lils, you know him better than either of us. Just give us a little guidance – what do you think he would do if he did fancy someone in particular?”
Suddenly, talking to a Slytherin seemed like a great idea; at least they could be trusted to find my family as sexually repellent as I did.
Arriving down at the Great Hall a little later, I was amused to see that my fraternal predictions had been accurate. Albus seemed to actually be asleep on a pile of toast, while James stared queasily at a misjudged plate of bacon and eggs.
“Never again!” I heard him mutter as we sat down nearby. Spotting me, he called across “Why, Lils, why did you let me stay up so late?”
“Riiiight, I let you stay up. Because I have any control over this family.” What I lacked in subtlety, I made up for in sarcasm.
“Good to know you’re feeling as sympathetic as ever there, Lil’ sis.”
“Hmm, sympathy” I mused aloud, as I grabbed a croissant, “Is that like the time when I was worried I wouldn’t get put into Gryffindor, and you told me if I didn’t I’d be disowned? Or is it like the time when I was crying because I’d lost my transfiguration homework, and it turned out that you transfigured it into a dog?”
James visibly brightened at that, “Ah, good times. Plus, it gave you the best excuse ever.”
Ignoring him, I turned to Chelsea and Electra; they had continued to discuss my various cousins, right up until we’d sat down. “See, this is what you would be letting yourself in for. Run away while you still can.”
“Aww, you love them really, Lils” Electra teased, while Chelsea looked nervously at James to see if he’d overheard my last comment.
“I guess I do at that, but then I have to.” I replied, looking deeply pained.
“It’s a hard life.” James quipped as he slid over to us. Yawning, he glanced at his watch, then frowned. “Bugger, that time already. I hate to say it, but we’d better be heading off to class – no point actually getting up on time and then being late anyway.”
We all grabbed whatever we had left, and started getting up to leave, when Chelsea hesitated.
“What about Albus?” she asked, nodding to his inert figure.
“Looks like he is going to be late,” smirked James “unless one of you lovely ladies wants to brave waking him.”
“He probably needs the sleep” Electra suggested, so giggling quietly, we crept past and headed off to our respective lessons.
In my case, those lessons had been double potions, history of magic, and muggle studies. As Chelsea came from a muggle family, and Electra came from a humane family, neither of them had been forced to take muggle studies; they had both been enjoying a free period in the common room instead. I had originally been planning to join them as soon as the lesson had ended. However, the mountain of homework that Professor Creevey set had made me rethink my plans; studying in the common room was never particularly easy, but the day after a quidditch match it was next to impossible.
Urgh, why do I have to have such muggle obsessed relatives? Grandpa Weasley had insisted that all of his grandchildren took muggle studies OWL, in order to ‘make us more aware of the world we lived in’. Of the lot of us, only Rose had ever taken it remotely seriously, and even she had dropped it for NEWTs. I’ll just get something basic down – it’s not like ‘changes to transport over the last century’ is actually likely to come up on the exam. Sadly, I tended to think this about all the essay questions we were set, which probably explained why I was never graded above an A. Still, if I work quickly, there might be time for a quick practise before meeting the others for dinner. Hurrying my pace at the notion, I practically raced into the library, before pausing to find a decent place to sit.
The library was reasonably quiet today; just the regulars dotted around: a group of scarily dedicated Ravenclaw sixth-years quizzing each other on the uses of Mandrake root, a small odd-looking Hufflepuff reading about Egyptian runes, a pair of prefects necking in the stack where ancient history was shelved, Malfoy reading a... wait, Malfoy? Crap, I’d forgotten he was in here so much. Putting my books down on the nearest table (and ignoring the part of my brain that was trying to get me to turn around) I walked over to where he was sitting.
“Um, Malf... Scorpius?” I squeaked, instantly blushing.
He looked up, surprise registering as he realised who was addressing him. “Yeah, what’s up?”
OK, so far, so good. You still have all your body parts, and you’re vaguely your usual colour. “I ... um ... just-wanted-to-say-thanks-for-yesterday.”
“Oh. No problem.”
“No, it was really decent of you,” I said, finally regaining the gift of speech. “Particularly given ... well ... everything.”
“Seriously, Potter, our team caused the problem; it was our job to fix it.”
“Still, I’m grateful you did. Skelegro is never fun.” I replied. He turned back to his book; clearly the conversation was over, yet I added “Oh, and it’s Lily.”
His head flicked back up. “Lily” he repeated, looking thoughtful.
I was the one to turn away this time. Halfway towards my table, he said my name again “Lily?”
“Yeah?” I turned back.
“How grateful are you?” the pensive expression had been replaced by one far more calculating.
“What!?” My blush was back in full force. Surely he didn’t mean...?
“Nothing like that” he chuckled, noting my reaction. “The thing is, I need your help.”
A.N. Please review if you're still reading, and care what Malfoy wants help with, so I'll know to keep posting. I'm hoping this last bit counts as a plot twist, any opinions?
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