Chapter 4 : ... One For All
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Prefect Rounds were not the burden Rose made them out to be. Not for him, anyway. She worked hard. He worked smart.
He’d already escorted Lily to her dormitory, not only easing her anxiety but also placing him on the side of the castle he needed to cover for his Prefect rounds. Once he handled whatever infraction might be occurring in the third to last door, he’d have time to figure out a plan for his weekend detention. Efficiency would buy him a good forty minutes to walk and to think uninterrupted. For Al, the opportunity made weekly Prefect meetings worth the hassle.
He approached the music room, calling through the door. “I know you’re in there.”
Unlike many Prefects, he didn’t get a rush from catching people red-handed. Occasional amusement over someone scampering away in a frenzied panic, maybe. But not tonight. He wanted simple peace and quiet, a rare commodity in a boarding school, even one the size of Hogwarts. He needed to figure out what he was going to do so he could get some sleep.
“Only five points, if you leave now,” he added when no one emerged. He was not in the mood for hide-and-seek. With an impatient exhale, he turned the knob and stepped inside. Rows of music stands and stools filled most of the space. The front of the room held a blackboard on the wall behind a conductor’s stand with a drum set and a grand piano on either side. He approached the piano bench, which was pulled out from under the keyboard. A single lit candle hovered over the instrument, but the only shadow visible was the outline of the piano itself.
Al turned toward the corner with the drum set but halted when, from the emptiness, he heard a muffled giggle.
He spun and grasped the air over the bench, succeeding in grabbing a wisp of fabric. James was quick, but his companion on the bench hampered his reflexes. Al maintained a grip on the Invisibility Cloak and was rewarded with the unveiling of his brother’s smirk. James stood and the girl ducked behind him, burying her face in his shoulder.
“Gryffindor and … Hufflepuff?” The girl was difficult to identify by her hairline. She wasn’t a regular, but given his brother’s apparent new interest in music, Al had a strong hunch as to who she was.
“Let her go. I’ll take her points,” James offered, winning himself major points with her. Al stood impassive while James gave the Hufflepuff - Sarah? - a gallant wink and nodded for her to go. When she closed the door behind her, he turned back to his brother.
“Dad gave you the Cloak?” Al still held a portion of the garment in his hands.
James retained the other side. His grin widened. “When I aced the Apparition test.”
“You mean that third test?”
No response. Instead, James assumed a mission-ready expression. “We need to talk.”
“Save your breath, I’m taking the points.” Al dropped his hold and watched James carelessly toss the Cloak over his shoulder. “Practices feints for hours,” he muttered to himself, before squinting at James. “How are you such a bloody girl about Apparition?”
“Stop changing the subject.”
“You’re my problem.”
The older boy shook his head with the same supreme self-confidence that had surely convinced Sarah the Hufflepuff he’d been a music lover all his life. “I’m your solution.”
Al gave up all hope of getting any sleep.
An unproductive night and most of a rubbish day later, James grabbed Al as he walked out of the library. “About time.”
Al shook him off. “You’re not still on that.”
"Shhh," James hissed. Wyatt Eaton passed them on his way out of the library, his head bent over his bag as he arranged the items within. He first looked up when he reached the Grand Staircase and paused for the next stairway to swing around. The Head Boy started up, taking two-steps at a time. Obviously in a hurry, he never glanced in their direction, but James didn’t breathe out until he’d cleared the next landing.
“I told you, Eaton isn’t the problem.” Al planted his feet to stall James’ attempt to tug him around the side of the staircase.
James had the annoying tendency to create a crisis out of nothing. His vendetta against Wyatt made a prime example. Some incident everyone, even Wyatt, had long since forgotten had built itself up in his brother’s mind until he’d declared a nemesis. Al sussed out the real problem: mundane Hogwarts life wasn’t exciting enough for James, resulting in the compulsion to make every day bigger, louder, more dramatic.
Al would like to see James in a Slytherin uniform for one day. Maybe then, he’d appreciate easy, for once.
He’d hoped a day would have allowed enough time for James to come to his senses. Or at least provided a distraction to sidetrack him. Where was Hufflepuff Sarah?
“He knows,” James insisted, tugging again, “and if they’re planning something else before tryouts.”
Another annoying habit. James never fully formed his theories. His statement was complete at the ‘if’. ‘If what’ never materialized, but James could have people following him on the potential of ‘if’.
James threw the Cloak over himself and Al, Disillusioning their shoes to guarantee they were covered and positioning them for the next turn of the stairs to start the trek after Wyatt. Their combined breath made the space inside the Cloak humid and close. Al tried holding his while contemplating the odds of deterring James from his little mission. James was prepared to do whatever he could to buy time for Al to make the tryouts, but the deed was inexplicably linked with Wyatt in James’s mind. A few Ravenclaws had used a Gryffindor’s wand, and that was all James needed to implicate his rival.
Never mind that Wyatt was no longer directly involved with Quidditch.
Al decided to humour him for a half-hour, tops. He cast a silencing charm before they matched their strides up the stairs. A minor detail James overlooked in his obsessiveness, but Al wasn’t going to be caught on this ridiculous errand. With a full hour before curfew, no one really needed to be invisible in the halls.
“I can’t believe Dad gave you the Cloak.”
“Ssshhh,” James hissed again, only at close range, the sound carried spray.
“Bloody hell!” Al wiped his face. “Silencing charm. Didn’t you learn anything from last night?”
“I learned Sarah gives a wicked love bite,” James replied, his smirk evident by the outline of his teeth in the dimness. Both brothers laughed.
They followed the staircases until the seventh floor. Wherever Wyatt was going, he was in a hurry to get there. That worked in Al’s favour. The sooner they could confirm Wyatt wasn’t plotting the downfall of all things Potter, the sooner they could focus on the real issue.
Except, Wyatt passed the turnoff that would have taken him to Ravenclaw House without the slightest glance or hesitation. If anything, his pace picked up, heading toward the North Tower. The sound of warning bells filled Al’s head. No way James had actually stumbled on something. Al was even more confused when Wyatt disappeared through the circular trapdoor of the Divination classroom.
James’s head swivelled toward his brother so fast he knocked Al’s glasses crooked with the motion. Al tapped the frames back in place and shrugged in answer to James’ raised eyebrows.
“Does Eaton take Divination?” Al asked. James would surely know Wyatt’s class schedule, taking the whole nemesis thing as seriously as he did.
“You’d think the poof would, but no.”
Al hated to admit there might be something to his brother’s insistence that Wyatt inexplicably disappeared twice a week in the late evenings. He was curious, and James was now waiting for him to determine what they should do. Al pointed to himself and motioned up with his thumb.
Climbing to the open trapdoor, Al peeked through. The room lacked the fog he’d expected. Al had never taken Divination, but he always knew when Rachel had come from the classroom. She called the subject her ‘easy O’ and laughed with him when he asked if the ‘O’ was the cloying odour of incense hanging on her clothes afterward.
Eaton dropped his bag on a small table halfway across the room. The far windows framed the silhouette of a girl watching the grounds through an open window. Al noticed all the windows were open, the drapes pulled back to allow fresh air in.
Eaton moved to the girl and lifted long brown hair off her neck, brushing the strands over her right shoulder. He stayed behind her, leaning over and pressing his lips to the skin he'd exposed, his hands running along her arms.
In a flash of disappointment, Al realised he’d been holding his breath the whole way to the door, and not simply because he’d anticipated the incense.
What a kicking little quest this had turned out to be. No one needed cloak and dagger to catch a couple snogging at Hogwarts.
Al would have climbed back down, but James had wedged him in, squeezing up to see for himself.
“It’s nothing,” Al whispered, trying to push his brother back through the door. James wouldn't budge. Wanker wants to see which fangirl Eaton scored.
The girl in question leaned back and tilted her head for the kisses, but from their angle, Wyatt's head blocked her face. She arched, stretching an arm behind his neck, keeping him close as he continued a trail to her collarbone. Wyatt took the opportunity to slide his hands around her torso.
This was no first encounter. They moved like they knew what the other was going to do next. Wyatt spun her around to face him, and she slid her hands into his hair, expectant, meeting him full on.
The new vantage was the first look the Potters had gotten of Wyatt's girl from the front. Al stifled an obscenity. James reacted with an elbow to his brother's stomach, forgetting the silencing spell.
Or maybe not.
Al knew before recognition dawned on James. Before she opened her eyes and seemingly looked through them. Before she spoke. He knew it was her.
“You’re late,” Angie scolded, angling back from Wyatt’s embrace.
Wyatt and Angie.
The light of Ravenclaw and the shadow of Slytherin.
The last damn thing anyone in the castle would have expected.
James was useless. All thoughts of rivalry or revenge had left the Cloak.
Another example why James would never make it in Slytherin. His commitment level was far too influenced by things like food and hot women. And the girl Wyatt had pressed against the windowsill wasn’t the cool, standoffish germaphobe most people assumed never touched anything if she could help it.
Al wished they'd lost Wyatt before he met his little date. Shrouded in the Cloak and wedged in the opening of the circular trap door, a wave of claustrophobia, something he’d never experienced, washed over him. The more he moved, the tighter everything got, including his chest.
Thank Merlin no one was shedding clothes. Al wasn't sure what his partner in crime would do. Difficult to tell with James, and none of the scenarios appealed to Al.
If James makes a move to do anything… hell, if he moves, I'll Stun him and push us both down the hatch. James would surely be hurt but Al had a good chance of coming off unharmed to leave his brother's sorry arse in the room below to talk his way out. The Cloak worked better solo and Scorpius would have Al's back, for a price, if James tried to rat him out.
Angie and Wyatt.
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