Chapter 9 : Chapter Nine
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“Al,” Lucy laughed, grabbing his arm and tugging him down the corridor towards their first lesson. “Do you have to be so loud?”
“Why shouldn’t I be?” Albus chuckled, cheerfully waving at a group of Ravenclaws who were walking by. “We’re back in school and I don’t have to see James’ ugly mug every second of every goddamn day if I don’t want to.”
Lucy sighed heavily and tipped her head back. “He’s your brother; you can’t say that about him.”
“Why can’t I? He’s a total asshole and if I had the chance to never see him again, I’d gladly take it.”
Lucy rolled her eyes and pulled Albus to a stop. “He is still your brother. You may have your ups and down but he is still your brother.”
“Luce, I don’t think you even know what the fuck’s going on,” Albus scoffed, yanking his arm out of her grip. “He’s treating Louis like a piece of rotten meat and don’t get me started on what he said to me over the holidays.”
“What did he say?”
Albus looked over Lucy’s shoulder and spotted a group of Hufflepuffs that were making their way to Charms class. Sighing, he shook his head and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I’ve let it go.”
“Let it go, Luce. I’m fine, really.” He gave his cousin a small smile to reassure her and swung an arm around her neck. “We’ve gotta get to Transfigurations.”
Albus was not the only one in an extremely good mood that morning; Professor Kirke was also in particularly good spirits. For every correct answer or incantation given, he gave the student ten House points. Albus left the classroom an hour later, remarkably pleased with himself that he had managed to collect thirty points for Slytherin.
“What’s next?” he asked as he rummaged around in his bag, looking for his class timetable. His face fell when he read that they had Potions next. “And my good mood is gone.”
“It isn’t that bad,” Lucy said, walking quickly in order to keep up with him.
“I wasn’t referring to the subject,” Albus muttered.
Entering the Potions classroom, Albus slid onto the stool at his assigned table and glanced around for any sign of Jessica. First day back and she doesn’t even show. How –
The cheerful greeting met Albus’ ears and he managed to give Jessica a forced smile. “Have a good holiday?”
“It was enjoyable, to say the least,” Jessica said, sliding into the seat next to the dark-haired boy. “I got your letter. I don’t know why I didn’t write back though. I thought it was just a one-off thing.”
Albus snorted quietly and dug his textbook out of his bag. “Yeah, you’re...forgiven, I guess.”
“I didn’t apologize,” the girl laughed. “But if you want to take it that way –”
“I do!” Albus cried, unable to get another word in as Professor Slughorn stepped into the classroom.
“Settle down, students,” he said although the class was actually already quiet for once. “I think we’ll start the term off with a little pop quiz.”
The students released groans of displeasure and soon the room was filled with the sounds of shuffling and ink pots being placed onto the desks.
“I’m no good at pop quizzes,” Albus hissed under his breath.
“I’m no good at anything,” Jessica piped up.
Albus was about to retort when he caught sight of the Hufflepuff’s hand. “Gods, what happened to you?” he said, taking her hand into his own and gazing down at it. Her skin was bright red and the area around the bruise was so swollen, it looked painful.
“It’s nothing,” Jessica said quickly, tugging her hand out of Albus’ and pulling her sleeve down to cover it. “It happens a lot.” She scratched vigorously at her scalp and brushed her hair out of her face. “Can we just concentrate on this please?”
Albus nodded slowly in agreement and stole a glance down at his paper. Rolling his eyes, he dipped his quill into his ink pot and began the quiz. Unable to get the image of Jessica’s injured hand out of his head, he looked over at her and took in her appearance. Her limp hair hung around her shoulders and looked unnaturally greasy. Her skin, like always, was deathly pale but the one thing Albus couldn’t take his eyes off was her skeletal figure.
Even in the frumpy school uniform, Albus could see she had lost weight over the holiday despite most people gaining weight at Christmas. He sighed heavily and went back to working on his quiz.
Forty minutes later, Professor Slughorn called the students to a stop and went around the classroom to gather up the quizzes. While the Professor was doing that, Jessica was frantically checking back over her answers as if it were an actual exam before it was collected.
“I’m sure you did fine,” Albus said, batting his quill back and forth between his hands. “It’s only a stupid pop quiz anyway.”
“You Slytherins,” Jessica spat through clenched teeth.
Albus widened his eyes at the girl and raised both eyebrows in mock humour. “Excuse me? That’s a very stereotypical thing of you to say, isn’t it?”
“You’re all the same.”
“What’s gotten into you all of a sudden?”
“Is there a problem here?” Slughorn said as he reached the bickering students’ table.
“No Sir,” Albus mumbled, his eyes still fixed on Jessica. “Everything is just dandy.”
“One minute we were talking and the next, she was hissing and spitting at me like some deranged cat,” Albus cried at lunch time. He was seated next to Scorpius at the Slytherin table, discussing what had happened in Potions class.
“Maybe she’s bipolar,” Scorpius said, his mouth stuffed with turkey.
“I somehow doubt that.”
“Well why not?” Scorpius laughed, holding his arms out to the sides. “She seemed to like you but that was before you went your separate ways for the holidays. What if she found someone else?” he added, gasping dramatically.
“Who cares? We didn’t like each other that way,” Albus muttered.
“Who the hell are you speaking for? Yourself?” the other boy exclaimed. “She was into you, mate. I mean...why the hell wouldn’t she be?”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Albus chuckled.
Scorpius clapped his friend on the back before turning towards the Gryffindor table and smirking.
“Hey, keep your eyes to yourself, yeah?” Albus said, snapping his fingers in front of Scorpius’ eyes.
“I can look, can’t I?”
“Oh sure, I wouldn’t call having a crush on Louis a crime but if Benjamin found out –”
“So what if he did?”
“I’d be planning your funeral. So eyes forward, please.”
Scorpius whined quietly as he turned back towards the table and stuffed a piece of ham into his mouth. “I can’t have the boy I love so I’m going to eat myself to death. Or should it be the other way round?”
“What, you’re going to starve yourself because you can’t have him?”
“I’ve seen Benjamin’s physique,” Scorpius said, wolf whistling quietly. “He’s almost as crush-able as Louis. Would they be interested in a threesome by any chance?”
“Gods Scor, I’m trying to eat here!”
“Benjamin is pretty fit. Admit it!”
“I’m not admitting that my cousin’s boyfriend is fit,” Albus scoffed before taking a quick sip of his pumpkin juice. “Plus I’m not into abs and flat chests.”
“I could ask,” Scorpius said in a dreamy voice, gazing back over his shoulder at the Gryffindor table.
“If threesomes are their thing, you idiot.”
“Even if they were, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be interested in letting a fifteen-year old into their bed,” Albus said smartly.
“I’m sorry but did you just say their bed?” Scorpius whispered, his face crest-fallen.
“Well...yeah. They’re not allowed to share a bed but they do it anyway.”
Scorpius let out a strangled sob and dropped his head down onto the table. “My life is over,” he muttered against the wooden surface.
Albus patted the boy’s back and smiled. “I’m sure you’ll live.”
“Easy for you to say,” Scorpius whimpered. “You’re not in love.”
“You actually want me to believe you’re in love with Louis?”
“Why not? He’s so fucking hot.”
Albus rolled his eyes and shook his head in dismay. “There’s more to love than just looks, you know.”
Scorpius raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips in thought. “He’s got a great...personality.”
“You don’t even know him,” the dark-haired boy said, grinning as he jokingly smacked his friend around the head. “But yes, he does have a great personality. He happens to be amazing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a free period now.” He got up off the bench and lifted his bag up onto his shoulder. “I’m going to the library.”
“You’re such a loser, Al.”
“But you love me anyway.”
“Damn right I do,” Scorpius growled, giving Albus’ backside a playful slap.
“Keep your hands off the merchandise!” Albus laughed before turning on his heel and heading towards the Great Hall doors.
“I’ll get you later, Potter. Mark my words!” Scorpius called after him. “You won’t be able to resist the Malfoy’s charms.”
“We’ll see about that,” Albus shouted over his shoulder as he left the hall.
When he stepped into the library, the last person Albus expected to see there was James. Although he thought his older brother would be causing some sort of extreme mayhem, he was seated at an empty table in the corner of the room and scribbling furiously on a piece of parchment.
The older boy’s head shot up and his expression softened when he saw Albus. “Hey,” he said quietly.
“What are you doing?” Albus asked, lowering his bag onto the floor before taking a seat next to his brother.
“Trying to catch up on some last minute homework,” James answered, lifting his eyes up off the parchment and shooting his brother a weary grin.
“For someone who hasn’t even been back at school a day, you look awfully tired,” Albus noted.
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” James mumbled under his breath. “Was there anything you wanted?”
“I was just going to get started on some homework myself actually,” Albus said, kicking his bag out from under the table and pulling out his books.
“O.W.L year...it’s a bitch, ain’t it?”
“James, can you be honest with me?”
James lifted his eyebrows at the sudden change of subject and set his quill down with a curt nod.
“What happened between you and – and....”
“Jessica? Nothing happened, Al,” he said with a serious tone. “She just wanted something to happen.”
“Like what?” Albus pressed.
“It’s like I said back at the house,” James said, shrugging. “She just liked me.”
“The same way every other female in this poxy school does,” Albus whispered. “And you changed her? How?”
“I don’t think I’m the right person to tell you that, Al,” James said bluntly, pulling his notes back towards him and continuing to write. “It’s not really any of my business.”
“You caused it, didn’t you? What’s wrong with her, James?”
“I didn’t cause anything!” the older boy shot back. “She did that all by herself.”
“Stop it, Al! Okay? Just...just stop it.” James exhaled deeply and closed his eyes. Once finished counting to ten, he slowly opened his eyes again and faced his brother. “You care about her, don’t you?”
“No, I just want to –”
“Your nostrils are flaring,” James said, narrowing his eyes. “They always flare when you lie.”
“They do not!”
“Yes, they do, Al. I know you better than anyone at this school,” James chuckled. “Tell me you care about her. I want to hear those words.”
Albus gazed up at James with a blank stare and heaved a sigh. “I care about her,” he murmured. He leaned his head in his hand and groaned under his breath. “I fucking care about her, alright?”
“Lucy will tell you everything,” James said, flicking through his Charms textbook and scribbling down a few extra notes. “I’m not getting involved in any of this.”
“You’re already involved,” Albus spoke quietly. “You’ve been involved ever since you told me she wanted you.”
“She’s yours now.”
“She’ll never be mine.” Without another word, Albus gathered up his essentials, shoved them back into his bag and left the library.
“Really?” James whispered, although he knew full well Albus was gone. “I could have sworn she was yours when I saw her wearing your favourite hoody.”
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