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Chapter 8 : Lies, white and otherwise
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“Should I follow her?” she asked me, a frown beginning to form, as she stood up from Hugo’s lap and moved back to her own chair. I shrugged.
“With the mood she’s in? Not sure there’s anything we can say or do to help things.”
The past week had been decidedly awkward for our little trio. Chelsea and Hugo were becoming increasingly close, having finally overcome their shyness. Electra and Louis however, were growing increasingly hostile; each one convinced that the other had been out of line. As the days passed, and the apologies failed to materialise, Electra had gone from indignant to miserable, and on this dull Monday evening she seemed to have simply detached from us altogether. The fact that her two best friends weren’t one-hundred-percent behind her had probably added insult to injury, but as Louis’ best-friend’s-girlfriend and cousin respectively, we both felt that any outright support of her frankly insane conspiracy would be unfair. Unsurprisingly, Electra felt otherwise, and so tensions had risen between us.
“If it helps any,” Hugo added as he gave Chelsea’s hand a reassuring squeeze, “Louis isn’t doing much better.”
“Really? So he hasn’t jumped into the waiting arms of Miss Amelia, then?” I responded, my irony ringing dull in the light of our collective melancholy.
“Seriously Lils – macho posturing aside, he seems really bummed by the whole thing.”
“So why doesn’t he just say that to her, so they can get back together?” Chelsea queried, ever the idealist.
“As I said ‘macho posturing aside’ – Louis can make mules seem accommodating. No way is he going to admit fault here.”
“Well, not to play the devil’s advocate, but can you blame him?” I hated not taking Electra’s side in this, but the fact remained that Louis hadn’t actually done anything wrong.
“But they’re so perfect for each other – we just need to get them back together, and they’ll remember that and be fine.” Chelsea shook her head sadly at the dilemma.
“Okay, so operation ‘locked room’ is a go then?” We giggled weakly at Hugo’s increasingly tempting suggestion.
“Hey, not necessarily kidding this time,” he continued, “I don’t care what it takes, we are getting those two crazy kids back together,” Chelsea beamed at this, clearly thrilled at their similar attitudes to true love, “’cause if I have to hear him ask about her one more time, I’m going to lock them in a room permanently, just for the peace and quiet.”
Sadly, by the next morning we had still not thought of a better solution. The situation was getting increasingly dire; at breakfast Electra had simply picked at her food, and then left as she saw Hugo entering the hall, muttering something about finishing off an essay.
“Well, that’s depressing – she’s not even bothering to come up with convincing lies anymore.” I commented wryly. Chelsea remained silent and so, concerned, I asked:
“Chells, are you OK?”
“Yeah, I just ... I’ve been thinking that I should break thing off with Hugo.”
“What? But I thought things were really good between you two.”
“They are, but if it’s upsetting Electra this much...” Chelsea trailed off as Hugo came into earshot.
“Let me talk to her first, OK?”
“Talk to who?” my ever noisy cousin interrupted.
“Electra,” Chelsea shot me a warning look but I continued unperturbed, “I’m hoping to borrow her History of Magic essay.”
“Really? I heard you were acing that subject at the moment.”
Blushing red, I quickly mumbled something about comparing viewpoints. The truth was that I had aced the past three essays, and had even managed to receive an ‘O’ for my most recent. However, the reason for this – Scorpius’ remarkably interesting notes – was hardly one I could share. I hadn’t spoken to him in nine days now, and the wait for our next practice session – currently on hold while he located a boggart – was bothering me more than I would have liked to admit. Obviously, I couldn’t share that either, and the resulting secrecy was putting yet more strain on my two closest friendships.
I was startled from my reverie by the arrival of the post, straight onto my lap. The unknown bundle of feathers started to chew on my toast as I removed the parchment from its leg. Once free, it gave my hand an affectionate nip before flying back out the window. I unrolled the letter, and read:
Firstly, don’t worry – this parchment is charmed to look like an advert for Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes to everyone but you.’
“Oh, it’s just another of Uncle George’s promotions” I exclaimed before reading on:
‘Secondly, I’ve finally got hold of our very own boggart. If you’re still free this Thursday evening, cough twice. If not, write back with another suitable time when you can.
Hopefully see you soon,
I looked up, and after finding his expectant face amongst the sea of Slytherins, I coughed twice, loudly. He flashed me a smile, and then turned back to his friends. I found myself reaching a new level of red, excited both by the thrill of receiving a secret letter, and by the upcoming get-together. Smiling, I folded the parchment up, and placed it in my robe pocket. I looked back up, to find my friend and cousin both staring at me in confusion.
“What’s got you so flustered?” Hugo asked bluntly.
“Nothing!” I squeaked, my sporadic lying ability failing me completely. Hugo shrugged, losing interest quickly, but Chelsea continued to hold my gaze.
“Sure there’s nothing going on? Cause, you can tell me, you know.”
“Seriously, nothing new in my life,” Embarrassed, I looked down, and then noticed the time, “but unless we want a new detention, we’d better get to class.”
Our defence against dark arts class was unusually dull, and so I used the time to plan my approach with Electra. I had been feeling increasingly guilty over the recent rift between us; for her to be acting this way about the supposed ‘betrayal’ must have meant she was really into Louis, and so I wanted to be there for her, even if I didn’t agree with her assumptions.
As class ended, Electra quickly packed up her things and left the room. Hastily, I followed her out, catching up to her several yards later.
“Hey, Lexi,” I ventured, tapping her on the arm, “can we talk?”
I gestured to an empty classroom we were approaching, and reluctantly she followed me in.
“OK, I’m listening,” she replied resignedly, “but can we skip the ‘intervention’ stuff? I’m really not in the mood.”
“That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about.” She looked confused, so I hurriedly continued, “I’ve been a really crappy friend recently, and I wanted to say sorry for that. I know it’s been awkward, with the friend-cousin thing, but I should have found a way to be there for you.”
At this something seemed to break in my friend, as she burst into tears.
“Lexi?” Electra was not a crying type of girl, and to be honest, I felt a little out of my depth.
“I’m sorry, I just...really...miss him!” she choked out between sobs, “I know it’s silly, but I can’t stop thinking about him – about them – I even kept the charm from that stupid toy he gave me.”
As she said the final part, she held up her wrist, where a pretty blue and red crystal heart hung from a silver ribbon. I glanced at it briefly, then doubled back, shocked, and grabbed her arm to get a better look.
“Oh my goodness! Did you say Louis gave you this?” At his name Electra burst in a fresh round of tears, but nodded in accord.
“I don’t believe him! Electra, you have to take this off right now!”
She stopped crying at this, confusion written across her face.
“I know it’s kind of pathetic, but it reminds me of him. I thought you’d understand.”
“I do,” I replied emphatically, still holding onto her arm as I tried to remove the offending item, “I understand better than you do. This is not just some random crystal, it’s a ‘Love Trinket’ – one of the more stupid charms my uncle sells. It basically makes you obsess over the person who gave it to you. I knew they were more trouble than they were worth, but I can’t believe Louis would be the type to use one.”
Finally, I succeeded in undoing the knot. I threw it to the ground and quickly stamped on it with my foot. A tiny shower of blue and red sparks appeared, leaving the ribbon and shattered glass behind.
“So, all these things I’ve been feeling, they were just... a trick; some cheap conjuring spell?”
I ducked a little, waiting for the inevitable explosion.
“Yes!” she cheered, pumping her fist, “I knew I wasn’t that pathetic! Unlike – no offence Lily – your ass of a cousin. Hah!”
OK, that went pretty well, all things considered.
“Right, let’s go get some lunch. Suddenly, I’m feeling pretty hungry!”
Over lunch we filled Chelsea in on the latest developments, and by the end of the day our group seemed to be back to its usual close-knit self, bonded by our mutual disgust in a certain Ravenclaw. Only Hugo remained unconvinced of Louis’ guilt, as he reminded us that evening in the common room.
“Are you sure he gave it to you?” he attempted, “cause I can’t help but think it’s a little weird that he’d give you a charm to make you obsess over him after you had already started dating.”
“Hugo” Chelsea responded solemnly, “it’s very sweet that you would try to stick up for him, but unfortunately, it turns out that Louis is evil incarnate, and must never be spoken of again. OK?”
Hugo turned to me at that, looking for an ally. My response however was to raise my hands in defence and say,
“Hey, I’m all for ‘innocent ‘til proven guilty’, but in this case, I’m going with what she said.” I’ve already made the mistake of not believing her once, no way am I doing it again. I’m even willing to buy the whole ‘I was never into him anyway’ thing – she’s earned the right to a little denial.
“It’s OK, guys; Hugo can believe what he wants. I’ve got more important things to worry about than exactly how pathetic some ex of mine wanted to be.” Electra said with a smile and a toss of her hair, before returning to painting her nails. Only the catch in her voice at the word ‘ex’ ruined the overall effect. Like I said, if she wants us to believe that, then that’s fine by me; I’m hardly the poster child for complete honesty.
The next few days seemed to drag on indefinitely, but eventually Thursday evening arrived. It had been almost two weeks since I last spoken to Scorpius face-to-face, and I was ashamed to admit that I had really missed spending time with him. We’d agreed at our last get-together that we’d meet in the West Tower once Scorpius had managed to locate and capture the all-important boggart, and I was eager to hear how he had managed it.
As I approached the agreed-upon room, I began to feel more than a little nervous. I had put up my long red hair into an elegant twist, and secretly raided Chelsea’s make up bag too. I had left the Gryffindor tower feeling pretty confident, but now the earlier feelings had been replaced by uncertainty. What if he notices, and thinks I’m dressing up for him? Or worse, what if he doesn’t notice at all? Most importantly, how have I managed to form a crush on SCORPIUS, the one guy in all the school that my family would actually kill for dating me? Part of me was almost relieved that this would probably be the last time that we would spend alone together, as it would mean that my life could get back to normal. A bigger part of me was not relieved at all.
I opened the door to find him bent down in front of a rattling cupboard. He was wearing his school robes, as usual, but his red cheeks and wet hair suggested he had recently been at quidditch practice.
Referring to this, I asked, “Hey. Think you guys are ready for the game against Hufflepuff?”
We both laughed, before he replied solemnly, “Well, obviously it will be a tough one, but we’ve got a good few weeks to prepare, so I’m cautiously optimistic.”
He looked me over, and then added, “I’m guessing you didn’t have a practice. You look nice.”
I blushed instantly, and noticed a similar reaction in him.
“Yeah, the girls wanted to do a makeover, or whatever. Anyways, you found a boggart?”
“Oh, right. It was actually pretty simple; Professor Flint had been using it for DADA classes, and I just asked if I could keep it once he’d finished for some extra practice.”
“See, this is the downside to being a Gryffindor – Professor Hagrid’s great, but when am I ever going to need a favour involving Care of Magical Creatures?”
Scorpius laughed again, before replying with a smirk, “Did you just imply that there’s a good side to being a Slytherin? Lily, Lily, Lily, what would your brothers say if they heard you now?”
I rolled my eyes, smiling at his comment despite myself. Of all the guys in all the school, why did it have to be him that I fall for?
Friendly banter unrelenting, we eventually got round to the matter at hand.
“OK, so you remember everything from last time?” Scorpius nodded, so I continued, “I’ll open the cupboard from over here, and then you cast the patronus. If all goes well, it should be able to push it back into the cupboard, at which point we can take a break and repeat.”
“And if all doesn’t go well?” Suddenly Scorpius didn’t look so relaxed, and I remembered why it was we could use a boggart in the first place.
“Don’t worry. If your patronus is feeling outmatched, I’ll send mine in to help. Together we’ll kick ass.” We’ll kick ass? Did I really just say that? Scorpius looked more resolved at that though, so I forgot about my ineloquence and opened the cupboard:
The doors swung open, and through them floated a gaunt cloaked figure, one pale, glistening, deadened hand stretching out from the tattered material towards Scorpius’ throat. Instinctively, he took a step backwards, before remembering himself and straightening up.
“Expecto patronum” he said determinedly, as a silvery shape appeared from his outstretched wand. Gradually, it began to form its usual avian shape, and I begun to hope that it might succeed on its own. However, one look at Scorpius revealed the strain it was taking to maintain the enchantment, which was fading even as it began to herd the boggart back. Waiting as long as I could, I eventually stepped in to help,
“Expecto patronum!” my own phoenix-like patronus immediately joined the struggle, and quickly the creature was safely secured in the re-locked cupboard.
Scorpius cursed under his breath, shaking his head in disgust.
“Hey,” I said, placing my hand on his arm. He looked at my hand, then my face, as I continued, “have some chocolate. We’re going to need it for round two.”
He smiled weakly, nodding at my plan as he took the offered chocolate.
It took twelve attempts – and my entire stash of Honeydukes’ finest – but finally Scorpius had the whole thing down. As the boggart hit the back of the cupboard, and the doors swung shut, he let out an exuberant whoop. Turning abruptly, he pulled me into his arms and spun me round, so that I was completely supported by him. I gasped, thrilled despite myself, and hearing me, he sheepishly returned me to my feet.
“Sorry! It’s just ... thank you so much!”
I giggled, before replying, “Hey, you’re the one who put the work in. I’m just glad I could help.”
“You really did. I can’t believe I’ve actually got it!”
We both smiled at each other, before simultaneously realising that his arms were still encircling me. Quickly pulling away, he said, “Well, I suppose I’d better stop taking up all your time. Thanks, really.”
He turned away, and began to pack up his things. I turned to leave myself. I guess that’s it then, unless...
“Unless...” Crap, did I say that out loud?
“Yes?” Scorpius turned round and looked at me expectantly.
“Well, if you wanted to have one final practice before the big day...”
“You’d be willing to do that?” he smiled hopefully. I nodded. “Wow, that’d be great. I’m busy this weekend, but how about Monday?”
I shook my head, “Quidditch night – James hasn’t been letting us out until almost nine.”
He frowned, before saying, “The only other night I’m free is Wednesday, but I’m sure you’ll have plans by now.”
“Valentine’s Day? I figured you’d have a date with your boyfriend,” at my raised eyebrows, he continued, “you know, that Pratchett bloke, Andrew or whatever?”
I laughed unintentionally, before replying, “You mean Aiden? He’s definitely not my boyfriend. No, I’m free Wednesday.”
“Oh, OK then; it’s a date.”
Again, Scorpius reddened, but neither of us corrected his statement.
“It’s a date.” I echoed, smiling, as I turned and left.
A.N. So, lots of plot twists happening (I hope not too obvious or confusing) - please let me know if you're still reading, and what you think!
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