Chapter 2 : where can i find talent agents and swim trunks?
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Then again, I like mine too.
All of my love to you guys, and I hope you all enjoy.
It took awhile for us to find our mate Scorpius (I was sure he’d be outside, but his soulmate insisted that he’d be stuffing his gorgeous face in the Great Hall; she was right, obviously, being the one obsessed with him and all), but once we did, we got right to it.
Scorpius was gorgeous, I will give her that. He looks like Louis except less… pretty. Scorpius looked like he could hurt you if he hugged you. Which in my book was pretty damn hot. (Libby also thinks I have a domination problem. Immaterial, since Albus can’t hurt a fly.)
“Hi, there!” That was me. Libby would die before she actually initiated a conversation. She stared from on high. (That’s kind of her thing.)
We hovered across from him like… actually, what hovers? Does anything hover? You’d think so, considering we are a magical society and–Oh. Fizzing whizbees. Whoops. Considering I had those for breakfast, you’d think I remembered them. Or something.
I did say I have a leaky-sieve memory.
Anyway. Scorpius. Looked up at us from stuffing his face. He stuffed his face a lot, from what I could tell. But that was okay. He was an excellent calorie-burner, according to his ex, Iona Quigley. That bitch gets around. I think it’s the cello. She knows how to work a bow.
“Afternoon, Isolde. Elisabeth.” He didn’t like using nicknames. I think he was upset because he thought his name didn’t have any good ones. But if Scorp isn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.
“Mind if we sit down?” Libby said. She was actually pretty lively for a glorified emotional zombie.
“Not at all.”
We sat down in unison opposite him. He was sitting by himself, since no one else needed to stuff his face as much or at such an early time, which suited me just great. His little “ward” was nowhere to be found. Even better.
“So what’s this about, exactly?” Scorpius asked, looking from me to Libby and from Libby to me. I could tell Libby was sitting up extra straight and blinking at him as if bored. She was actually just drawing attention to her eyes. Easiest trick in the book. And the only one she felt she could pull off without looking like she was doing anything.
I don’t believe in over-thinking. She does.
“It’s about your cousin,” I said. I flashed him the charming/intimidating smile I reserved for business conversations. It worked really well. On any human. Not house-elves, apparently, the greedy little twits. Anyway. “We’d like to hire her, and we understand she doesn’t work without your approval.”
Scorpius nodded. His gorgeous hair fell into his gorgeous eyes and I heard Libby’s breath catch in her chest. Misanthrope my arse. “That’s right,” he said cautiously. “Sabrina’s been taken advantage of before, and I promised her I wouldn’t let it happen again. So.”
I kicked Libby under the table so she could actually open her mouth.
“Well,” she said briskly, “we’ve approached Sabrina before, as I’m sure you know, about doing some work for a client of ours. She explained her conditions to us. So, you know, here we are.”
“Here we are,” he repeated. Drawled, really. Libby was so turned-on it was gross. Cute but gross. “I don’t want her roped into just some stupid scheme, okay? So I want details. Client, occasion, date, nature of the work–everything.”
I jumped in now, since this was my business. Libby just liked watching what she described as a walking train wreck. (That would be me. The business aspect of my life, she said, was surprisingly functional.) “The Confectionary takes our clients and their needs really seriously. This client wants everything to be on the D.L. and that’s how it’s going to stay.”
“Working with Izzy is a dream come true for any aspiring Hogwarts artist,” Libby chimed in. “Denying her this opportunity is like… um…”
“Denying a Weasley a soapbox!” Metaphors are my specialty. That and eating. “Sure, they’ll probably find someone to back them at some point, but at some point, when Bernard’s Bunion Balm offers you a sponsorship, you’re screwed if you don’t take it.”
Scorpius blinked at me. Libby did too.
Metaphors are my specialty. I swear they are.
“I mean that Sabrina should take a good opportunity when it comes. And this is a huge opportunity, isn’t it, Libby?”
“Yeah.” Again with the executioner-victim voice! We would have to work on this. Scorpius wouldn’t trip over his own feet to beg for a Hogsmeade date if she kept talking like she didn’t give a shit about the world. Or about the bloke she totally fancied.
Scorpius narrowed his bloody gorgeous eyes. Remember how Louis had eyes like little suns? (Albus’ eyes, just to let you know, have this adorable mischievous sparkle in them, like he’s laughing at you but really he’s laughing with you. Because he doesn’t laugh at you. Especially not at me.) But Scorpius? Scorpius could light a fire with his eyes. A fire in the heart of my favourite little Grinch.
“So… basically I’m supposed to trust you?” he said at last.
“Yep!” I chirruped. “But really, we’re not trying to rip you off. We love Sabrina’s work. We’ll pay her thirty Galleons, easy.”
“And it’s not even like we’re going to blindfold her and stick her in a broom closet and isolate her from the world. She’s not our house-elf,” Libby added. “We’ll tell her all the dirty details she wants–”
“Not that there are any–”
“But really, great opportunity–”
“Izzy’s an idiot, but at least she’s competent. And generous sometimes.”
“Only to people I respect.” And fancy. “Like you, like Sabrina.” This was the moment to make my graceful exit. I could feel it. I made my point. “You know where to find me, Scorp.”
Libby and I got up together. Same time and everything. I’d forced her to practice for negotiating with the elves.
“Er, no, I kind of don’t.”
Huh. A wrinkle in my pitch? In my spot-on delivery? Ugh. Scorpius Malfoy, you are the wrench in every plan that has ever been thought up in wizarding history. Boo on you.
“Oh, well, er, how about breakfast? Tell me at breakfast tomorrow. I’ll be over there, at my table.” My table was the Gryffindor table, the one populated with famous bitches, arrogant wizards, and Albus. And me. Maybe Libby. She’d sleep in to avoid Scorpius seeing her when she wasn’t prepared to deal with it. “And if I don’t get an answer by then, I’m going to go to Reginald Pucey and then you’ll be screwed. Bye, Scorp!”
“Bye, Isolde and Elisabeth.”
We walked away. We owned the walk-away. You’re supposed to in a negotiation. Leave them hanging. Leave them wanting more. Leave Scorpius wanting Libby.
… We still needed work to get to that last point.
I waited a good five minutes before I said, “He said your name.”
“Yes. Twice. Your point?” Libby was walking at a regular pace. But it was like a quick-lazy pace. Like she was trying to avoid me.
Avoiding me is actually impossible. Ask Tristan. Somehow I always end up walking in on him and his Miss Thing of the Week, and writing a long letter to our parents about how immoral he is and how it’s traumatised me and how I need to replenish my stock of chocolate Hobnobs just to get over it.
Libby calls me an excellent stalker.
I have to agree.
“That’s progress, isn’t it?”
“Izzy, shut up.”
“I know you hate talking about your feelings, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them!”
“Izzy, shut up.”
“Scorpius is such a good match for you. You’re both blond!”
“Izzy, for the last time, shut the hell up.”
“Why?” I played coy. Coy is not one of my specialties, but for someone as stupid as Libby, I could try it. “I’m trying to get you to open up, you know. And this is the perfect time to do it! The sun’s coming out again, the year is almost over, hols are coming, the party–”
Libby kicked me.
While I howled in pain about her being a total bitch who would one day choke on her bitterness and cynicism and then need someone to hug the spit-choke out of her throat, she grunted, “Subject.”
“Oh… oh.” Everything made sense now.
Couldn’t very well go on about how perfect an opportunity the party would be for me to win over the birthday boy when the birthday boy was in sight.
And… oh. Oh, dear. Oh my God.
He was approaching.
And Libby, I guess.
But mostly me.
Albus, you bloody sexy birthday boy beast, you.
“Hey, Izzy! Hi, Libby!”
See? He said my name before hers.
Is it too early to name our children?
(Isabel, Anastasia, and Edward Potter. They have the business know-how and wit of their mummy and the beauty of their dad. Bella is clumsy but cute. Anya is a rebel who still knows the true meaning of family. Eddie is a surprise baby, but I don’t really care, because it means that Albus and I had sex and don’t even give a shit about bringing another life into the world. It’s about Albus and me and our passionate love and–)
Never tell Libby this, but I might have narcolepsy.
Explains the dreams.
Or–other option–I am a seer.
I like that one better.
“Hello, hello,” I said, bright as a bloody bluebird and even more charming. I was just lathering on the charm today. Like frosting on a–(I made a mental note to badger Louis some more whenever I had time.). “What’s going on, mate?”
“Nothing much.” He shrugged his perfect shoulders (which were broad but not scarily so–I’m looking at you, Scorpius). “I was going to go outside and join everyone–apparently there’s a diving competition at the lake. Want to join?”
In some part of my brain that wasn’t fixated on that image, I saw Libby cross her arms and blink. “I can’t swim.”
Oh hell, no. Libby was trying to rein me in. Keep me focused. Or something. I really didn’t get her. Like, at all. I mean: Albus. Swimming trunks. What about that could make you lose your focus?
“You don’t have to swim to watch,” said Albus sportingly.
Maybe I can push up the grand romantic gesture from two weeks from now to… in ten minutes?
“Yeah, Libby, don’t be such a spoilsport.” Read: Bitch, don’t rain on my parade. I beamed at Albus. “Guess we’ll be there after all.”
‘Oh, excellent.” Gah, he was adorable. Using “excellent” in regular conversation. Libby vomiting up pretty big words was obnoxious, but Albus was actually intelligent. He made me want to be a smarter witch, one who’s worthy of him.
But I always ignored that urge, because he was with Faith Summerby. That meant he didn’t give a shit about a girl’s intelligence.
“It starts really soon, you should–”
“Do work,” said Libby, practically through her teeth. The look she was giving Albus, I realised, made it seem like she would eat him if he tried to tear me away from her. Which he obviously wanted to do, inviting me (and her, I guess) to watch him take his shirt off and dive into a large body of water without his shirt and with swimming trunks. “Sorry, Albus, but we have some serious stuff to sort out… really, so sorry, but…”
“Libby, I’m not writing your Charms essay for you.” I rolled my eyes. (She actually wrote mine. Ironic twist.)
She opened her mouth. Made shocked noises. And since it wasn’t easy to actually shut Libby up (she always had some witty comment or other up her sleeve), I seized my opportunity.
“Want to walk down together?” I asked him.
I think a choir of angels and jealous Hufflepuffs broke into song and screaming when he said, “Sure thing.”
“Isolde.” Her voice was frosty and scary and if you do this, you will royally screw up and you know I won’t help. “You sure about this?”
I so wish Albus had offered his hand for our walk to the lake. He didn’t.
But I thought after this, he was close to that point.
(He falls to one knee, a bouquet of red roses in one hand and my own hand in the other. “Isolde,” he whispers my name like a prayer, “I have loved you from the moment I saw you taking notes with a sugar quill in our first class together, double Potions. From that moment on, I’ve dealt with the stirring power of my love for you. Sometimes, I’m not ashamed to admit, it scared me. Your beauty, your business know-how, your flat-out charming personality, it all intimidated me, because what am I compared to you? But I don’t want to run anymore, not from my love. You are my love. Isolde, have my babies.”)
Yes. That point.
But in the run-up to that moment (it exists in the future, not my narcolepsy dreams, which don’t exist), it was just Albus and me, without roses or babies (yet).
“You still do that party planning on the side, right?” he asked me a little further down the corridor.
“How’s that going?”
I sighed. “Right now it’s a little slow,” I lied (I’m an excellent liar). “I guess it’s ‘cos exam season is coming? But I expect it’ll pick up when people are sick of revising and need to blow off some steam, you know?”
“Oh, yeah, no doubt.” What a conversationalist, my Albus. “Can’t wait for it all to be over.”
I hadn’t even started revision. So much time devoted to making my grand romantic gesture. Time well spent, I might add. Best possible use of my time that wasn’t spent eating or falling even more in love with him.
“There’s always one huge shindig, though,” he said when I was quiet. “Any details about that?”
Ugh. This would be a good time for Libby to materialise and actually talk for me. It’s true, I’m an amazing liar, but I’m not a marathon liar. I was more like a sprinting liar. Fine with short, quick bursts, not so much with a steady stream.
Was Libby… right?
“None that I can tell you,” I said, again being stunningly coy. I’d have to ease off that coy persona, though, because it got annoying. (I’m looking at you, Faith.) “But trust me, if and when it happens, you’ll know.”
Albus was not taking my coy crap. What a clever boy. Too bad he let stupid Faith pull the wool over his gorgeous green eyes. “Come on, Izzy,” he mock-whined, “I need something to get me through revision and my stupid birthday right in the middle of it–”
I tried not to gasp, but inside, I did. Was he really upset about his birthday?
“Isn’t it your seventeenth?” I asked, totally blasé and collected and shit. Inside I was quaking, running through the To Do list, wondering what else I’d have to do to change it. Albus couldn’t not like his birthday. That went against my entire plan. It ripped my existential love letter to existential shreds and threw it into the existential fiery pits of existential hell.
“Yeah, but how the hell am I going to celebrate when I’m worrying about, like, everything else?” He looked like an adorable, well-bred puppy now. Downtrodden and adorable and sad. I hated sad. “Other exams, family shit, N.E.W.T.S., the future, you know what I mean?”
I didn’t really worry about The Future; I had The Confectionary and that’s all I’d ever need between graduation and my sexy ministry job, so no, I didn’t really know what he meant. Instead I pondered possible responses I could use against the onslaught of sad. Blasé again? Libby would be proud of me if I took that route. Or should I be the Faith type, always hovering like a fizzing whizbee (see, I used it!) and jumping at the chance to further an emotional connection with him? Or…
Overthinking is not a specialty of mine. But at this rate, it sure could be.
“I’m sure it’ll be great,” I said eventually. Cool, empathetic smile on face, grin in eyes, holding back the I know something you don’t know tone Libby thought I used too much. I was an actual master of lying to people’s faces. “No matter what, it’s your seventeenth birthday. You should enjoy it.” And you will, because I’m planning it.
Then he smiled at me. A smile. For me. Only me. Not Libby (she’d never care), not Faith (rich Dutch cow), but me. I could only imagine (maybe if I got bored enough, I’d actually See/dream) what it would be like if he always gave me these private happy smiles. I could add those to my diet. Balloons, biscuits, and boys’ smiles. Has a ring to it.
“Guess you’re right,” he sighed. “Then we’ll all celebrate properly once exams are done, and Confectionary’s going to handle it, yeah?”
“Going to be amazing, then.”
“You have no idea.”
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