Chapter 3 : Playing Nice
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You know Malfoy? I thought you would try to put in a little effort to try and be civil to me, if only for Rose and Albus’s sakes. I know I do.
That conceited little bitch. Did she really think I didn’t care about my friends? Did she really think I didn’t try to play nice for them? I opened my mouth to give her the reply she really deserved, but before I could say anything, she walked away. Just as well. If I’d gotten to reply, I probably would’ve ended up hexing her, and the little mudblood wasn’t worth going to detention for.
Arriving at the dungeon wall that was the entrance to the Slytherin common room, I gave the password the same way I would choose a pair of socks. The comparison didn’t make sense, but neither did anything else in my life. Descending the stairs, I entered my dormitory and got ready for bed. My mind was reeling over what Katherine had said.
After four years, why was she suddenly having problems with what I said? She never said anything about it before. I climbed into bed and attempted to sleep, but all I could hear was what she had said.
If only for Rose and Albus’s sakes. That one stung. Was she right? Maybe I should put forth a greater effort. I didn’t have to be best friends with her. It couldn’t hurt to know a couple things about her…
Stop it, Scorpius. You will not foul up our noble heritage, I could hear my father saying. But it wasn’t like we were becoming an item. I was merely trying to make a better effort to tolerate her for the sake of my friends. Surely Father would understand that.
Yeah, right. Sure. Father would totally agree with you fraternizing with someone like her.
This might be harder than I thought.
First class of the day would be potions. I’d be in there with Rose, Albus, and the mudblood. Only I had to stop calling her that, now that I really was going to try to play nice.
Our teacher, Professor Ursus, had taken over the previous year when Professor Slughorn retired—yet again. He was a big, burly, hairy man with a surprisingly annoying squeaky voice. Sometimes, I wish I had lived when my father had so I could have had Professor Snape. He sounded like an alright bloke, that Snape. Better than Professor Ursus, at any rate.
“Now, the uh, really, uh, important part about this potion really is, uh. That is to say, the properties are, uh…”
Two minutes into a lecture like that, and I’d happily marry the mudblood for the chance to never hear him lecture again. Alright, an overstatement, but that’s how awful it was.
No, not “the mudblood.” Her name was…oh dear. I’d forgotten her name. How have I forgotten her name?! I knew it started with a K…
“Katherine, can I borrow a bit more parchment?” I’d heard Albus say. Katherine. Thank Merlin I could always count on Albus to get me out of trouble. I took my own sheet of parchment out and began to write.
I’ve decided to give it a go at what you said yesterday. Just know that I still hate you.
I folded it up and slid it across the desk to her. I watched her read it out of the corner of my eye. She had a strange combination of victory and hurt on her face. Very strange. She bent over her own piece of parchment and began to scribble furiously. She charmed it to zoom over to my desk.
Well, I guess you do have a heart. I never thought I’d be thanking you, but thank you for trying for Rose and Albus. Trust me, I know you still hate me. Miracles don’t happen overnight.
Oh, and I’m still not apologizing to you for what happened yesterday at the pitch. You started it.
I hastily shoved the note in my bag as the bell rang. I needed to talk to her in person. Notes wouldn’t cut it.
“Hey, Gull, wait a minute.” I groaned. First the notes, now he wanted to talk to me.
“Rose, Albus, if you’ll excuse us for one moment, we’ll meet up with you in the Great Hall.” Malfoy led me to a deserted classroom.
“Alright, Malfoy, what is it? I have a class at one and I’m hungry.” I crossed my arms and stared at him. His shoulders slumped and he deflated.
“Why do you have to make this so hard?” he whispered. I was not expecting that.
“I’m…sorry? I don’t understand.” My stomach was doing back flips. He came closer to me. Why was my heart racing? It was hard to breathe. Was this terror or…something else? Something that had to be impossible.
He was maybe half a foot away from me. I could smell his aftershave. Wow. Fifteen and already on the aftershave. That’s too pretentious for me.
“Why do you have to make it so hard for me to try and be nice to you? I know we’re only doing this for our friends, but it’d be easier if there was a reason for me to be nice.”
He was so close, I could smell him. Vanilla. Vanilla, lavender, and…something else. Something I couldn’t define. It was bugging me. I wondered if he was wearing Amortentia for aftershave.
Snap out of it, Katherine.
“It’s a two-way street, Malfoy. You can’t just pass me a note saying you’re pretending to be nice but you really still hate me and expect me to be all sunshine and rainbows towards you. And it might help to learn a few things about me that might make you want to be more civil to me. For example, I had no problem with you until you called me a mudblood last year.”
He stiffened up a bit. “Well, Gull, let me tell you something, then. I can’t help the way I was raised. This is all I know. Hate the muggle-born, look down on the blood traitors, and respect my equals. I’m in deep enough trouble for being friends with Albus and Rose, since they’re blood traitors. That, however, can be forgiven. You, however, are a muggle-born. You are not my equal.”
My eyes filled with tears. I didn’t have a problem with him telling me I wasn’t his equal. I had a problem with him telling me I wasn’t good enough. Never before had I felt like that. I ran from the room trying to hold back my tears.
Later in transfiguration, I realized what the third scent had been: pear. Like the pear tree in my garden growing up that had been my safe haven and reading nook.
In History of Magic, I was sitting with Albus. He leaned over and said “So, what was your little meeting with Katherine about today?” I shook my head and rolled my eyes. I was trying, I really was.
“We were discussing our plans to start being nicer to each other.”
“And? How’d it go?” Albus sounded so hopeful. I didn’t want to let him down, but I couldn’t lie to him either.
“She couldn’t seem to get past the fact that I was raised the way I was. That she’s not my equal and I can’t be friends with her.”
Albus scrutinized me. “You don’t really mean it.” My eyes bugged out of my head.
“Excuse me? I don’t mean it? What do you mean?”
“You’re hiding behind that excuse to avoid what you really hate, which is confrontation with your father. You don’t want to be friends with her because your father would freak out.” Albus stated matter-of-factly.
I laughed at him and bent over my parchment to take notes on yet another Goblin war. Something really disturbed me, though.
My laugh was forced.
I was walking in the fourth floor corridor. For some reason, I was wearing my dress robes. I heard a rustling noise, like silk, and a giggle. I turned around to see Katherine in a midnight blue evening gown. She saw me, laughed, and ran away from me, like she wanted me to chase her. I couldn’t help smiling and laughing as I complied. We made it as far as the Great Hall when she stopped running. She was pale and trembled, terrified of who stood before us.
My father glared as he held his wand out.
“Silence, boy!” he yelled. “You’ve disgraced the Malfoy name! Hanging around this filthy little Mudblood!”
“No!” I yelled, but it was too late. He was already using the Cruciatus Curse on her. And yet, the pain she felt physically, I felt as well—as if my heart was being ripped apart. Her screams pierced me. I knew I never wanted to hear that sound again if I could help it. I’d do anything to keep her from that pain.
Father relented, and she lay panting on the ground. I ran to see if she was ok. Father laughed.
“I knew it. I knew you’d get into trouble. I should’ve sent you to Drumstrang, where you wouldn’t have gotten involved with mudbloods.”
“Stop calling her that.”
My father glared. “What did you just say to me, boy?”
“I said, stop calling her mudblood. Her name is Katherine.”
“You…you little blood traitor. Avada—”
“Expelliarmus!” I shouted. My father vanished.
“Are you alright?” I whispered to her as I crouched down to her level. I brushed an auburn curl off of her face.
Her deep blue eyes glistened with tears that never fell, but she nodded. She was so brave, so strong. My face came closer and closer to hers. My eyes shut and I—
“Scorp. Hey, Scorp. Wake up. You’ll be late for class.”
As my eyelids fluttered open and I sat up in bed, I realized something. Something I’d been denying for four years.
Albus was mostly right. I wanted to be friends with Katherine Gull, and then some.
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