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Chapter 5 : Chapter Five
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Albus was quietly studying in the Slytherin common room when a rather grim-faced first year walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. Turning around, he rubbed at his eyes and raised both eyebrows at her. “Can I help you?”
“Professor Slughorn would like you to meet him in his office,” she muttered, looking as if she’d rather be anywhere else. “He said it was an emergency.” She turned on her heel and hurried out of the room before Albus could utter a word.
Sighing heavily, Albus packed up his things and left the common room. As soon as he stepped into the Slughorn’s office, he was met with the sight of a vast amount of people who he recognized as his family members. He stepped through the crowd and headed over to the desk. “Professor, what on earth is going on?” he cried in a loud voice.
“Mister Potter, where have you been?” Professor Slughorn gasped, jumping to his feet and gazing down at the young boy. A thick layer of sweat covered the man’s forehead and his hands were shaking violently. “It’s about y-your brother.”
Albus whirled around and was suddenly engulfed in a tight hug by his pale-faced, teary-eyed mother. He patted her back awkwardly and allowed his eyes to sweep around the room at the rest of his gawping family. “What’s going on?” he said as Ginny pulled away.
“James fell off the clock tower!” Lily wailed, hurrying over towards her brother.
Albus closed his eyes and prepared himself for the oncoming hug but it never happened. Instead, Lily ran right through him and vanished into a puff of smoke. A large, gaping hole appeared in Albus’ stomach; it was grey and smoking slightly. It began to grow at a fast pace and within seconds it had completely consumed the young boy. Albus disappeared from view, just like Lily had done.
The dark-haired boy leapt up off the couch with a cry and glanced around the common room, his eyes widened in horror.
Scorpius glanced over at him from his chair near the fire and smirked. “You okay, Al?”
“I fell asleep?” He released a heavy breath and ran his hand over the back of his neck, grimacing when he felt sweat. “James didn’t really fall off the clock tower?”
Scorpius raised an eyebrow and let out a nervous laugh. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay? Maybe you should go see the nurse.”
“N-no, I’m fine, really. It was just a bad dream, that’s all.” He swung his legs off the couch and planted his feet firmly onto the floor. “I’m gonna go take a shower.”
“Can I join you?”
Albus winked jokingly before rolling his eyes and heading down the tunnel to take his shower.
After his shower, Albus leaned over the sink and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He pushed his drenched hair out of his eyes before getting started on drying it with his wand. He ran his fingers through the silky black strands, grateful that he managed to find a way to keep his hair flat, unlike his father and James.
A knock on the bathroom door caused him to jump away from the sink and pull his clothes back on over his damp skin. “C-come in!”
To Albus’ surprise, James’ head poked through the crack in the door and a large grin broke out onto his face. “Alright, Albus?”
“What are you doing here?”
“Malfoy told me you were a little jumpy about some stupid dream you had so he came and got me,” the boy said as he stepped into the bathroom and leaned back against the door with his arms folded across his chest. After he was met with silence, his face softened and he released a shaky breath. “Look, Al –”
“Please,” Albus begged with a roll of his eyes. “Save it. I know how hard it is for you to apologize so save your breath.”
“I’m trying to do something nice for once, Al!” James shot back angrily. “Why can’t you just listen to me for one bloody minute?”
Albus’ face fell upon hearing James and he moved to stand against the sink once again. “Okay, talk.” Despite knowing his brother was quite heartless at the best of times and apologizing was considered difficult for him, he was eager to hear him out. He pursed his lips in anticipation and shrugged. “Well?”
“I don’t want you to blame mum and dad with how I’ve turned out –”
“Are you serious?” Albus laughed. “I’m not blaming them for how you’ve turned out. It’s this school! It’s those people you call friends. They’re not good for you, James; they’re dragging you down.” Albus held his hand up when James opened his mouth to speak again. “No, James. I’m pretty sure you didn’t turn against Louis on your own.”
“Sweet Salazar! Are you stupid?” Albus moved away from the sink and walked back into his dormitory. “Of course not! It’s those...friends of yours. The blonde one, what’s her name?”
“Does it matter what her name is?” James said as he dropped onto the edge of Albus’ bed. “Yeah, okay, so she makes fun of Louis every chance she gets. What’s your point?”
“What’s my point? What’s my point? He’s your best mate, James! Get your ass back to Gryffindor tower and fucking beg for forgiveness.”
James walked through the portrait hole with his face pointed towards the ground. He shoved his hands into his pockets and slowly made his way up the staircase towards the seventh year boy’s dormitory. He placed his hand on the oak door and pressed his forehead against it, running over an apology in his mind. Who am I kidding? Louis isn’t gonna forgive me. He slipped into the room quietly and glanced around.
Despite saying earlier he had studying to do, Fred’s bed in the corner of the room was empty and Louis was sitting up against his headboard with a book covering his face. James sighed quietly and walked over to his cousin, taking a seat at the end of his bed.
The blonde-haired boy slowly lowered his book and raised both eyebrows at James quizzically. “Can I help you?” he muttered coldly.
“I just – I just wanted to say I’m sorry,” James said in a quiet voice.
“Well...because you’re my best mate.”
“Is that the only reason?” Louis yelled, throwing the book away from him and getting to his feet. “If I’m your best mate then why the hell would you talk shit about me in front of your munter? At least I can hold a steady relationship, unlike you who just goes around shagging absolutely everything with a pulse!”
James opened his mouth to retort when Louis suddenly spoke up again. “I grew up, James, and I think it’s time you did the same.”
“I grew up,” James muttered under his breath.
“Prove it then,” Louis retorted angrily, shoving James in the chest. “Prove to me, your best mate, that you can grow up and realize that this is still me. You were not raised as a homophobe!”
“As much as I want to apologize over and over again, I don’t think I will,” James said. He lifted his gaze from off the floor and stared hard into Louis’ icy-blue eyes. “It feels wrong. I shouldn’t have listened to Albus when he told me to beg you for forgiveness.”
Louis adopted a look of shock at the other boy’s words. He fell back down onto the edge of his bed and clasped his hands together in his lap. “Fine then,” he whispered. “You shouldn’t have wasted your breath. I wouldn’t forgive you anyway, even after that pathetic excuse of an apology.”
James hurried out of the dormitory without a backwards glance and slammed the door shut after him. Louis tossed his book across the room, cringing when it hit the door. He dragged his hands across his cheeks and took in a deep breath in an attempt to settle his sobs. Eventually, he gave up and closed his eyes, drifting off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
While Christmas at the Potter’s was usually an eventful time, the same could not be said for this year. Albus and James’ rocky relationship had put a strain on the family’s time together and the two boys spent most of their day in their bedrooms. On the morning of Christmas Eve, the Potters were welcomed by a surprise visit from Teddy.
“I’d know that mess of blue hair anywhere,” Harry laughed as Teddy stepped through the front door.
The young man grinned and pushed a hand back through his hair, messing it up further. “Where are the boys?”
Harry pointed towards the ceiling with a roll of his eyes. “I guess they’re growing apart but....”
“That bad?” Teddy scoffed loudly and clapped Harry on the back before disappearing up the stairs. He walked along the landing and stopped outside Albus’ bedroom. He knocked on the door but when no response came, he pushed the door open as quietly as possible and poked his head into the room.
Albus was fast asleep in bed, a quill clutched tightly in his fist and held to his chest. Teddy stepped over to the boy’s desk and glanced down at the cluttered mess. Among the broken quills and ink splatters were a number of crumpled up balls of parchment. Curiosity got the better of him and before he could stop himself, he was opening the pieces of parchment to see what Albus had written.
Instead of seeing essays or notes for school, Teddy was gazing down at the words Dear Jess written over and over again. He raised his eyebrows after counting sixteen pieces of parchment that contained the greeting and looked back over at Albus. Fearing the boy would wake up soon, Teddy crumpled the pieces of paper back up and left the room. He made his way down to James’ room and barged in without bothering to knock.
“Uh, come in?” James laughed, seeing his father’s Godson standing in the doorway. “When did you get here?”
“Just a few minutes ago actually. What’s going on with you and Al?”
James pulled his bottom lip into his mouth and chewed on it at the mention of his brother. “I dunno know what you mean....”
“You know perfectly well what I mean, James. Even your dad’s concerned about the two of you.”
“It’s just school stuff. It’ll be forgotten by tonight.”
Teddy raised an eyebrow, unconvinced by the boy’s answer, and fell down onto the edge of his bed with a shrug. “So, who’s this Jess person Albus is desperately trying to write to?”
“He’s writing to her now?” James groaned, throwing his magazine aside and sitting up against his headboard. “She’s a complete loser who hangs around with Lucy. She’s no good for Al!”
“Whoa, okay, chill,” Teddy laughed, holding his hands up in front of him. “You sound jealous.”
“If you met her, you’d say the exact same thing.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever called a person a loser in my entire life,” Teddy responded with a shake of his head. “And neither should you. She can’t be that bad.”
“That’s because you don’t know her like I do,” James said quietly, refusing to make eye contact with the man. “I don’t want Albus to get caught up with a girl like her.”
“Just what exactly is so bad about this girl?”
James sighed heavily and pressed his fingertips to his temples. “I can’t...I can’t tell you. Well, I can, I just don’t want to. I just know by summer, I’ll be telling Albus I told you so.”
“I’ve been putting ribbons into my hair for fourteen years and you still do it better than me,” Victoire laughed as Louis tied a blue silk ribbon into her hair.
Louis gave her a warm smile and stood back to admire his work. After receiving the thumbs-up from Victoire, he backed out of the room and headed into his own. He fell down onto the bed next to Benjamin and peered over his shoulder to gaze down at the book he was reading. “Isn’t that one of Albus’ books?” he asked, looking up at the older boy.
Benjamin smiled and nodded before marking his page and pushing the book away from him.
“I was enjoying reading over your shoulder,” Louis said, pouting childishly.
“I know something you’d enjoy even more,” Benjamin whispered, leaning in and gently nipping at the boy’s earlobe.
Louis bit back a quiet moan and slipped his arms around Benjamin’s shoulders as he pressed several light kisses to his neck. He moved to lie flat on his back and arched his body upwards so the older boy could pull his shirt off over his head.
Louis moved his hand over the front of Benjamin’s trousers and popped the top button open. Just as he managed to slip his hand down into the boy’s boxers, the bedroom door burst open and Victoire walked inside.
“Louis, I messed it up. Could you – Oh!” She smirked at the sight of the two boys and flushed bright red. “S-sorry.”
Benjamin and Louis looked at each other and began laughing nervously. “Vic, could you...uh –”
“You are so lucky that was me and not mum,” she laughed before walking back out of the room.
Louis bit down on his bottom lip and began spluttering with laughter. “Well, that didn’t spoil the mood at all,” he said sarcastically.
“Let’s just forget it even happened,” Benjamin said quietly, moving his mouth back over Louis’ and kissing him deeply.
Back at the Potter household, Albus was back at his desk and attempting to write to Jess again. Another five crumpled up pieces of parchment had joined the other sixteen that were now scattered on the floor as well as his desk; two had even landed on the Slytherin throw at the end of his bed.
He ran a hand through his hair with frustration and dumped his quill back into the ink pot. He jumped at the sound of his door opening and turned around, expecting to see his father or Lily standing there.
“I hear you’re writing to Jess,” James said, a crooked grin appearing on his face.
“What’s it to you?” Albus growled, getting to his feet and leaving the room.
“I thought you hated her?” James questioned as he followed Albus across the landing and down the stairs. “You told me you were just partners in Potions. What, are you secretly shagging her or something?”
“What the hell is your problem?”
The two boys entered the kitchen and while Albus rummaged through the fridge looking for something decent to eat, James took a seat at the table, cracking open a can of orange soda.
“I don’t have a problem. I just know her and I think you’re making a huge mistake,” he said before taking a sip.
“You don’t know anything about her,” Albus muttered under his breath. “And yes, she is my partner in Potions but in case you haven’t noticed, it’s December now. We’ve become friends.”
“I still thinking you’re making a mistake. She’s...weird.”
“Fuck off, James. I don’t tell you who to be friends with!” Albus left the kitchen with a packet of crisps in one hand and a bottle of pumpkin juice in the other. He rolled his eyes when he realized James was still following him and hurried up the stairs to get away from him.
“She wanted me first!” James shouted, causing Albus to stop in his tracks at the top of the stairs.
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