Chapter Image by enchantress @ TDA
“I think this is the year Slughorn should seriously consider the option of retiring,” Lucy said to Albus as they made their way down to the dungeons for Potions. “I mean...he was your grandfather’s Potions master!”
Albus laughed quietly and lined up outside the classroom with the rest of the students. “He is getting a bit –”
“A bit? A bit?
Al, the man has to be about two-hundred years old,” Lucy gasped.
“Two-hundred?” Albus repeated with a frown. “Over exaggerating a bit, aren’t you, Luce?”
“He was Voldemort’s Potions master.”
The students were then quickly ushered into the classroom by Professor Slughorn while he struggled to walk up to the front of the classroom. Albus took his usual seat next to Lucy and was about to pull out his textbook when the Professor silenced them all. “Seeing as this year is O.W.L, I’m going to mix you all up a bit; sort of broaden your horizons and get to know other people.”
Albus sighed heavily and muttered, “This is all purely academic, of course,” under his breath.
“This is all purely academic, of course,” the Professor finished before shuffling on the spot and scrolling down through the register.
“Why would I want to get to know other people now
?” Albus said, thinking out loud. “I’ve had four years to do that.”
“Mister Potter,” Slughorn muttered, tapping Albus’ name on the register. “I’ll swap you first.”
“That’s bloody brilliant,” Albus said between clenched teeth. “Where do you want me to sit?”
Glancing up, Slughorn smiled and pointed across the room. “Take a seat next to Miss Foster.”
Lucy squealed loudly and clapped a hand to her mouth to hide the large grin forming on her face.
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Albus said, glaring down at Lucy as if it was her fault. “Of all the people in this class and he sticks me beside your bloody best mate.”
Lucy giggled quietly and waved at Albus, only to have him roll his eyes and groan in response. He dragged his bag across the floor and dropped down onto the stool next to Jessica. He grimaced at her non-stop tapping on the wooden table and ended up slapping his hand over hers so she’d stop. She raised both eyebrows and slid her hand out from underneath Albus’.
“If you wanted to hold my hand, you could have just asked,” she said quietly.
Albus scoffed and started laughing. “Your tapping was driving me mad. Don’t get so ahead of yourself, Foster.” He leaned his elbows on the table and lowered his head, scratching at a burnt piece of wood on the surface of the desk.
“I’m already ahead of myself,” Jessica responded brightly. “I don’t need somebody like you telling me to do it.” She hummed quietly under her breath as she retrieved her bag from the floor and began pulling out her essentials for class.
“Next time, don’t be so quick as to think I want to hold your hand.”
After receiving their homework, a two foot long essay on Strengthening Solutions, the students were allowed to pack up and head to their next lesson. Lucy hurried up to Albus and walked beside him as they headed to Charms. “So, you and Jess...sitting beside each other for the rest of the year...how does that make you feel?” she asked, looking up at him from the corner of her eye.
“First off, Jess is a nice girl but come on; she’s a total nut case! Can I just drop dead? Like, right now?”
“Oh, Al! Don’t be so dramatic. If you want I can pop a black wig on my head and pretend to be you for a year.” Lucy threw her arm around Albus’ shoulder and smiled. “Only for Potions, mind you.”
“You’re sweet, Luce, but I can’t ask you to do that. You don’t have my brain power. Slughorn would figure you out in a second – ow!” He yanked his arm away when she pinched his skin. “What the bloody hell was that for?”
“Are you saying I’m stupid when it comes to Potions?” Lucy gasped, folding her arms across her chest and frowning.
“Is that a serious question?” He raised an eyebrow and gave his cousin a small smile. “I’m joking! You know you’re not stupid and I know you’re not stupid. Therefore –”
“I’m not stupid,” she finished with a laugh.
At the end of the day, Albus made his way to the library to get started on his essay for Potions. He was about to sit down at an empty table near the back before he spotted Louis, apparently struggling with his studies.
“Mind if I sit here?” Albus asked, setting his books down onto the table beside his cousin.
Louis looked up and shook his head before going back to his work. “Stupid homework,” he muttered under his breath. “The first week isn’t even over and I’m swamped already.”
“Why not get a new tutor? I’m pretty sure there are other people in the school who are on the same level of intelligence as Benjamin,” Albus suggested, flicking his Potions textbook open and scanning through his notes.
“I don’t want a new tutor,” Louis whined. “I want my old tutor back. Doing homework isn’t exactly the same when you haven’t got anyone cute to stare at.”
Albus shook his head in amusement and began writing, glancing up every now and then to see what Louis was doing. “Do you want any help with that?” he asked, noticing the boy was doing his Potions homework also.
“It’s N.E.W.T. level, Al. You may be smart but ... it’s fucking N.E.W.T. level.”
Albus started laughing and pulled Louis’ essay towards him. “Oh, just give me a look.”
Louis held his hands up and swept his blonde hair away from his eyes. “Be my guest, Mister Potter. Have a stab at it. I doubt you’d be able for it though.”
“Study and then list the properties and uses of hellebore in potions.
That’s first year stuff!”
“Keep reading,” Louis muttered.
“Write at least five two-foot long essays on potions that use hellebore as an ingredient.
Oh...wow. Well, good luck with that!”
Louis grinned over at Albus and shrugged. “Thanks, I guess. I’m useless! I knew taking up the N.E.W.T. level Potions class was a mistake.” He released a shaky breath and pulled the piece of parchment back over towards him. “I’m just going to be known as the stupid Gryffindor whose best mate turned against him because he was gay.”
“Oh, shit. I forgot James was your brother.”
“He did what
? Wait, how the hell did you forget he was my brother?” Albus said, unable to hold back the laughter.
“You’re just so different. James is all...immature and awful. You’re not. I really wonder why people prefer him to you.” Louis widened his eyes and shot Albus a look that screamed I’m sorry
. “I-I didn’t mean that. Sorry, Al. You know me; I speak before thinking.”
“It’s fine, Louis,” Albus said with a shake of his head. “Is James really against you being gay though?”
“Well, I think if someone says another boy isn’t a proper
shag then I’m pretty sure it means – oh sure, Louis. Great. You just made it so obvious that you’re fucking shagging the bloke now.”
“You’ve been dating for two years. And you’re...well...”
“I’m what?” Louis said, raising his eyebrows.
“You’re Louis Weasley.”
“I’d say that’s a good enough reason,” Louis laughed, dipping his quill into the ink pot and getting started on his essays.
The blonde boy turned around to see James hurrying down the hallway towards him. “Fuck off, Potter,” he muttered before turning away from James and continuing on down the corridor.
“Louis, come on; listen to me, please?”
“Why the hell should I do that? You’ve always hated Benjamin. Right from the beginning. But to embarrass me like that in front of our fucking cousin? You’re supposed to be my best mate!”
“Relax, Louis. It’s all just a bit of fun.”
“It’s all just a...what?”
“It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.” James grinned.
Louis dropped his bag down to the ground and shoved his hands into James’ chest, knocking him back onto the stone floor. He smashed his fist into the side of the boy’s head and shouted out of frustration. “Take it back, you little shit!” he yelled, gripping the front of James’ shirt and pulling his fist back, ready to hit his cousin again.
“And what if I don’t?” James muttered, holding a hand to the side of his head. “Get off me, Louis. You never know where your hands have been.” He cried out in pain as Louis’ fist connected with his face, instantly breaking his newly mended nose. He clapped his hands over his face and swore under his breath, calling Louis every filthy name under the sun.
“I didn’t know I could actually hate you, James Potter. But now I realize how fucking easy it is!” He gave James a swift kick in the stomach before grabbing his bag and hurrying back to Gryffindor tower.
He gave the password to the Fat Lady and hurried on through the portrait hole leading into the common room. Sighing heavily, he threw himself down onto the couch in front of the fire and held his head in his hands.
Lucy, who was sitting over in the corner of the room studying, lowered her book onto the table and went to sit down next to Louis. “What’s up, Blondie? You look as if someone just ran over your dog.”
“Hi Luce,” Louis muttered, leaning back against the couch and staring up at the ceiling. “James is just being a dick, as usual.”
Before Lucy could get another word in, Professor Kirke, the new Transfigurations teacher and Head of Gryffindor House, burst in through the portrait hole and looked around the room before eyeing Louis. “My office, Louis. Now!”
Lucy pursed her lips and rushed back over to the table to resume studying. She mouthed the words good luck
to Louis before he left the common room with Professor Kirke. She stared after her cousin with helpless eyes and attempted to go back to studying. When that failed, she tidied her books away and hurried out of the tower to look for James.
“Care to tell me why
James is telling the nurse you’re responsible for his broken nose and bruised stomach?” Professor Kirke asked as soon as Louis took a seat down by his desk.
“Maybe it’s because I am responsible for the broken nose and bruised stomach,” Louis snarled. “Who cares? The prick deserved it.”
“That’s ten points from Gryffindor for bad language, Louis,” Kirke said, moving around the desk to sit behind it. “And detention, tomorrow night for starting a fight. I thought you and James were best friends. Since when do best friends start physical fights with one another?”
“Maybe when one of them becomes a heartless homophobe,” Louis whispered, a single tear falling into the palm of his hand.
Professor Kirke leaned forward and clasped his hands together, furrowing his brow with worry. “Does James have a problem with you being gay?”
“Oh no, he just insults me for no apparent reason. Of course he has a fucking problem! I thought he hated Benjamin because he felt like he was losing me as a friend but no, that wasn’t it. He hates me just as much as he hates him,” Louis cried, banging his fists onto the desk. “All those years...wasted. I finally felt good about myself! I felt so much better after everyone knew. And then it all just blew up in my face.”
“Louis, I can tell you’re upset and well, because I’m such a nice teacher, I’ll give you those ten points back. Alright?”
Louis smirked and nodded slowly. “Thanks, sir.”
“You still have detention. But so does James. I will not tolerate that kind of behaviour in this House.” Kirke leaned back in his chair and motioned towards the door. “You can go now. Unless there’s anything else on your mind?”
“No, Professor.” Louis got to his feet and hurried out of the office before Kirke could bother him any further.
This school year couldn’t have gotten off to a more horrible start. James has finally cracked and he hates more than anything. I’m glad to see Albus hasn’t turned out one bit like him. Do you think you could ask the school governors if you could repeat the seventh year? I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life. At least I took your advice and stood up to James. He had a lovely broken nose earlier on, courtesy of Louis William Weasley. I’ve think I’ve complained long enough. How’s life at the house without me? Is mum bothering you yet?
October needs to get here sooner. Or even better; the Christmas holidays. I can get away from this place and just stay at home for two weeks with you. Do you think James is being unreasonable or is it up to him whether he wants to think that way or not? Before you say (or think) anything, he’s my best mate. He’s supposed to love me for who I am. Plus he’s family. I need advice here! Write back as soon as you get this, yeah?
I love you (and miss you. Obviously)
He handed the letter to his owl and watched as it spread its wings and took off out the window. He threw himself down onto his bed and stared up at the scarlet canopy above him. He rolled over onto his side and pulled Benjamin’s pillow into his arms before eventually drifting off into a deep sleep.