Six A.M. Why the bloody hell would the Slytherin team want to keep practice in the middle of January at six bloody A.M. when they don’t even have a game coming up in the near future?!
Al is mental. Yes, that’s it. My former ex love interest is absolutely and one hundred percent completely mental. I grind my teeth and walk down to the pitch, cursing him in my head. I’ve been up since five. Five. I’ve had to wake up, run down to the third floor bathroom to take my Polyjuice Potion, (we really can’t have a seventh year Slytherin girl leave the Gryffindor common room at 5 am. Really, walk of shame, much?) and then change into my new robes.
I mean granted, when James goes Quidditch Captain Crazy (QCC for short) right before a big game, he’s just as bad, if not worse. But at least I know all the trouble is worth it. When I wake up a 5 bloody A.M. for Gryffindor practice, I know I’m training to win. Right now, I’m training for what…deceit? Pain? Deception? Call me melodramatic, but my heart’s just not in it.
I near the Quidditch pitch and gulp.
Everyone is already there, waiting for me. I break into a light job as I cross the length of the Quidditch pitch to where the rest of the Slytherin team is standing.
Al narrows his eyes as I finally jolt to a stop.
“I’m sorry I –”
“It might be your first day, Simon, but I really don’t allow late comers to practice.”
I grind my teeth and bite back a retort. “Sorry Potter, I overslept.”
“On the pitch, I go by Captain.”
Is this kid serious? I always thought James was the more conceited of the two brothers, but James at least forces us to use his first name on the field. He insists it’ll ‘subconsciously bond us closer as a team, minimizing the authority line between captain and team member, ultimately leading to more victories.’
His words, not mine.
But here is his brother, waiting for me to properly address him as the authority figure.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I clench out through gritted teeth.
Al just continues to look at me. He raises an eyebrow when I don’t say what I know he he’s waiting for.
I keep my eyes trained on him, refusing to break my gaze. When he still doesn’t make a move, I decided to be the bigger person and just spit it out quickly.
“Captain,” I finally say, my hands curling into fists beside me. “I’ll keep that in mind, Captain.”
A smirk tugs at his lips and he gives a mocking clap. “Now see, Simon, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Before I have the chance to address him and let him know that I’d rather ride around stark naked on a Thestral than address a cocky prat like him as captain ever again, he looks up and speaks to the group at large.
“Alright, team!” he says, his demeanor slightly changing as his green eyes scan the rest of the group. “You guys do the regular. Huddle in!”
I stay put. After having being yelled at, I don’t think I have been invited to be part of the huddle. However, the girl who is standing beside me, a seventh year Chaser, I believe, grabs my arm and pulls me in with her.
“Don’t mind Al,” she whispers quickly as we make our way to the group huddle. “You’re not meeting the real him right now. You’re meeting his Quidditch representative.”
She pushes me in the huddle and I find myself surrounded by a bunch of Slytherins, two of which were carrying huge bats.
Hello reality. Nice to be acquainted with you. Since when have you taken the form of my worst nightmare?
“Okay, team!” Al barks. “Let’s show Simon how we practice! One, two three–”
“SLYTHERIN, SLYTHERIN, SLYTHERIN!” the team barks unanimously. They all mount their brooms and zoom off to their respective positions. The only ones left standing of the field are me and Al.
Al looks at me again and I feel as if he can see right through me… a feeling, which given the certain circumstance is unbelievably unnerving to say the least.
“First thing’s first – you’re going to have to learn the chant,” he says.
I raise an eyebrow. “It was three words, Al. All three of which were exactly the same”
He raises and eyebrow at me.
“Captain,” I add.
Al smirks. “Better. And no, that’s not the chant. That’s our pre-practice pun. You need to learn the post-practice chant.”
“Which is…?” I say. Al clears his throat, takes a deep breath and adopts a high pitched cheerleader’s voice. Charming, really.
“Slytherin, Slytherin, we’re on the pitch to win!”
I hide my scowl. “Well, that won’t be hard to rememb– ”
“Gryffindooor’s got nothing, playing them is a boreee.” He has the audacity to fake a yawn at the beginning at the end of that.
“Uhh-hh…”I mumble. “Well, I can keep that in mind–”
“Hufflepuff? There’s no need to be tentative – I mean they have an otter as their representative.”
“It’s actually a badger but close enou–”
“Ravenclaw is basically a termite, seeing as they have no claw nor bite.”
Al pauses to look at me in glee. When I think he’s finally done I trust myself to speak.
“As brilliant as that was– ”
“And so that’s why we all sing, Slytherin will WIN!”
I wait for the next verse, but Al surprises me by impatiently clicking his tongue. “Well?” he says. “What do you think?”
“It was brilliant.” I finally say. “You guys are just so…creative.”
“Thanks,” Al grins. “I made it up myself.”
“Oh, you could have fooled me,” I laugh. Al smiles proudly to himself before mounting his broom and taking off.
“I honestly thought you took a page out of Scorpius’ journal,” I mumble to myself when Al is clear out of earshot. It had resembled a lot like something Scorpius might have proudly sang on the dinner table once when he was ten.
In other words, the song was a piece of dragon dung.
“Aye!” Al barks at me, glaring from his high and mighty pedestal, also known as the Firebolt T52, one of the fastest brooms in the making. “You’re not out of running those laps! Get moving, Simon!”
Three hours later, I collapse at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. The Polyjuice Potion has worn off, and I’ve returned to my normal self, my untamed golden locks messier than ever before.
“You look worse for wear,” James decides, plopping down in front of me. “What, have you been up all morning or something?”
I shoot him glare which I hope will make him curl up in a fetal position and cry, but instead the prat just laughs.
“So,” he begins, waggling his eyebrows and leaning in closer. “What’s the dirt?”
I sigh. Might as well dish it out, right? I mean that’s why I woke up at bloody five in the sodding morning in the first place. I check around me to make sure the coast is clear before I take a deep breath.
“Well,” I say, deciding on the best place to start, “They have this song…”
I walk down the Hogsmeade streets, pulling my scarf closer to me to defend myself from the snow. As I pass through the town, my eyes land inside Quidditch shop, where I spot James looking at a broom. His eyes scan the store and out the window, stopping suddenly when he spots me. He narrows his eyes and beckons me over but I start running faster and faster until I bump into my mother. I open my mouth to ask Mum what she’s doing in Hogsmeade but before I can get any words out, she hands me a vacuum cleaner and proceeds to tell me that I missed up a spot whilst cleaning the Great Hall. I apologize profusely and run back to Hogwarts, where I realize that the vacuum cleaner cannot work because there is no electrical plug inside the school. I shrug my shoulders, cry a bit, and then plop down on the floor, where I stay until Al shows up and asks me to a dance. I shake my head but take his hand all the same, and the two of us start ball room dance around the Great Hall while Professor Flitwick enjoys his suppertime soup.
“Gold, wake up. Wake up, Gold.”
A sharp elbow jab on my ribcage jolts me awake. I hear Dom’s annoyed sigh from my right as the world dizzyingly spins back into view along with Professor Ellington’s disapproving face.
From my experience over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that nothing good can ever come out of Dom walking me up from a nap.
“Now that the class knows you prefer the dos-a-dos over the classic jazz hands, I was wondering if you could answer how the vacuum cleaner works,” my Muggle studies Professor asks.
“No?” I offer.
Professor Ellington surveys me with a frown. “Miss Malfoy, I do not allow nappers in my class. It’s disrespectful and it distracts other kids who actually come to class to pay attention.”
“Er…sorry?” I say, my tone making it clear that I’m not sorry at all. Honestly, how does my sleeping in class distract others? It would be worse if I were actually awake! Dom and I would probably have been chucking paper balls at Ronnie Bloyd – Hogwarts perpetual paper chomper. Really, he eats the Daily Profit for breakfast in the morning.
“I suggest you leave this class, Miss Malfoy. I’ll see you next class if you decide to actually grace us with your presence – both physically and mentally.”
“But Professor– ”
“No buts, Miss Malfoy. Have a good day.”
Her tone final, she turns around and faces the chalkboard. Outraged, I pack up my bag, refusing to even meet Dom’s gaze; I don’t want to see what I am sure is her pitying expression. Throwing my last quill in my bag, I swing it around my shoulder and leave the classroom.
Forcing myself to calm down, I take a few deep breaths and contemplate where to go. I decide I can go to the library and get some much needed work done…or I can just go back to my dorm and wallow in my misery. I decide the latter sounds much more appealing and head for the Gryffindor common room.
“Gold? Gold, is that you?”
Turning at the sound of the familiar voice, I see Scorpius walking towards me as if he doesn’t have a care in the world, which is funny, considering he should be in class right now. I’m just about to question him but realize that may not be the smartest thing to do at the moment.
I should be in class right now. Maybe if I just play if off, he won’t realize.
“Fancy seeing you here.” I greet.
“Shouldn’t you be in class right now?”
“Uh…class let out early.”
“Why aren’t you with Dom then?”
“Why aren’t you with Dom?”
Scorpius frowns slightly. “Gold, you okay? You’re doing that weird thing when you become all defensive because you want to hide something.”
“You’re the one that’s being defensive!”
My brother’s frown just deepens and his expression becomes worried, a sight which I really don’t see often. He sighs and places a hand on my shoulder.
“Gold, for a while now I feel like something’s been bothering you,” he says slowly. “I guess I understand if it’s girl stuff and you just don’t want to talk about it, but you know if you do want to talk, I’m always going to be here for you, right?”
Almost automatically, I relax under his touch. My brother can be a straight up prat 99% of the time, but it’s worth keeping him around for that 1% of the time that he actually decides to be sweet.
“Just remember to call my secretary at least three months in advance to book an appointment,” he adds. “If she puts you through, I’ll be here to listen.”
And then there’s that 99% of the time where I just want to toss him over the nearest cliff and be done with it.
“Oh, Mr Cool has a secretary now,” I deadpan, smacking his arm off my shoulder in a way to chastise him.
Scorpius winks. “Not yet, actually. Mr Cool’s taking applications. Secretary wanted. Requirements: Short skirt, tight blouse and hair in a tight bun with one loose curl hanging from the top. Know any girls that fit the bill?”
“Ughhh Scorp,” I groan. I could have happily gone throughout my entire laugh without having to hear my brother’s clichéd secretary fantasies.
“Just sayin’,” he says innocently. “Keep a look out for an ol’ single chap, would ya?”
He laughs and puts his hands up in surrender. “Alright, alright. I’m done. But that’s enough about my love life anyway. How’s yours going? Keeping to the rules?”
I instantly get the reaction I am hoping for, when Scorpius’ grin suddenly slides off his face. “Gold, don’t play with me. You know exactly what rules I’m talking about.”
“Umm,” I tap my chin gently with my finger in mock thought. “Oh! The rules where you absolutely demanded that I must date a Hufflepuff?”
My brother’s face goes pale. “Gold, things like that are nothing to joke about.”
“Oh, wait! Or are you talking about the rules where you told me I had to go out with someone who was at least a seventh year?”
“Gold. This is no laughing matter.”
“Oh, I know! You’re talking about the rule where you told me I just absolutely had to date one of your friends?”
I struggle to keep my face stoic as Scorpius looks like he’s inches away from pulling his own hair out. But suddenly, his face clears and his eye focus on a spot a few feet left towards my shoulder.
“Al!” my brother screams, waving his arms over. “Come here!”
I freeze and stay turned around, but soon enough hear footprints and see Al pass my peripheral vision. This is the first time I’m seeing him since our little ‘talk’ in the common room, when we decided to be normal. Al walks up to my brother does the cool manly head nod.
“Can you please tell my sister here that she’s got it all wrong?” Scorpius says in exasperation.
For the first time that day, Al makes eye contact with me (well for the first time while I’m not impersonating someone else’s identity, that is). “Gold, you’ve got it all wrong,” he says, his voice almost bored.
He turns back around to face my brother. “Although I don’t doubt that whatever the subject is, Gold must have gotten it all wrong, I am sort of wondering what it is she did this time.”
He looks at me again, a smirk tugging on the corner of his lips. I narrow my eyes at him. So this is how he’s normal? By being a complete prat?
“She’s telling me she wants to be able to date one of my friends,” my brother fills Al in..
Oh, Scorp. As much as family needs to stick together through thick and thin…please leave and never have anything to do with my life ever again.
“Oh really,” Al says, the amusement practically dripping in his voice. “Well, Gold, you heard my friend here. Don’t date any of his friends.”
“I wouldn’t ever dream of it,” I reply.
Scorpius claps his hands. “Well now that that’s settle –”
“Scorp doesn’t have any friends that I would even consider boyfriend material.” The words leave my lips before I even have time to process them. But something about the way Al had seemed to emphasize the word ‘friend’ had hit some type of nerve.
“Er…I’m not sure whether or not I should take offense to that…” Scorpius says slowly.
“Trust me, you should take is as a compliment,” Al advises. “What would be worrisome is if you have a friend that she actually wants to date. You know if Gold likes him, there has something wrong with the bloke.”
Scorpius opens his mouth and I smile knowing that he’ll defend his little sister. He always has my back, even if it’s against his best friend.
“True,” Scorpius says. “There has to be something wrong with him. He’ll have to have like two heads or something.”
Al nods. “Even if it’s not totally visible, there’s definitely going to be something amiss.”
Scorpius nods thoughtfully. “He might have two toes on his right foot.”
“Or he might actually like to spend his free time in the library.”
“He might just be a warewolf.”
“Or he might be a Hufflepuff.”
They both visibly shudder at that one.
“Ha, ha,” I say, my slow and sarcastic drawl drawing the attention back at me. “You’re sooo funny, Al! You should really consider doing stand-up.”
“Ah, I’d consider it, but I wouldn’t want to give you competition, Gold,” he says smoothly. “I feel like being a clown more your forte.”
“Oh, there you go again with one of your dim-witted jokes,” I shoot back, my temper rising. What happened to being normal? “Please, spare me.”
Al cocks his head to the left in mock confusion. “Gold, I think you need to realize the difference between a poor bloke who’s trying to tell a joke, and me, who’s just innocently stating the truth.”
“Woah, woah, woah, WHY CAN’T WE JUST ALL BE FRIENDS?” Scorpius yells, his arms flailing widely all around him.
He’s always been one for dramatics, that one.
Al is the first to recover from Scorpius’ outburst. “So you’re coming back to the common room?”
Scorpius nods and makes to leave but suddenly stops, his gaze flickering over to me for a mere second. “I’ll meet you there,” he says to Al. Al shrugs and leaves, completely ignoring me.
Once Al has rounded the corner and is out of ear shot, my brother comes closer to me, a slight crease in between his brows; it’s a huge difference from his usually carefree demeanor. And somehow because of that, I know what he’s going to say before he even opens his mouth.
“Gold…what’s going on between you and Al?”
“I…I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” I shoot back. I’m innocent until proven guilty. I’m going to deny all charges!
His gaze only darkens, as he pauses to think. “Something’s different. I’m not stupid, Gold. I see the way you guys act around each other.”
“We act the same around each other like we’ve always have.”
Scorpius rolls his eyes at that one. Is my lie really that obvious?
“Please, Gold. Something’s changed. Before you two would for the most part just ignore each other, but now it’s like you guys can’t stand to be in the same room as each other. Please…just tell me.”
I close my mouth in defiance. I’m not going to tell him anything. Nothing.
Because honestly, even if I wanted to..what would I tell him?
I don’t even know what’s going on! Only last bloody night, Al had come up to me and had decided to act normal around each other. What the bloody hell is normal anyway?
Well, normal for us definitely isn’t friendship. No, even on the best of days, were we ever considered close to anything even resembling friendship. Hell, I’d be pushing if it I had ever even labeled him a friendly acquaintance.
“Scorpius, it’s nothing. It’s just a blimp, really. We’ll get over it.”
My brother doesn’t look completely convinced however. “Gold, if he’s teasing you or giving you a hard time, let me know. I’ll tell him to lay off.”
So that’s what he thinks – he believes Al is just teasing me like an older brother’s best friend might. But I could never let Scorpius talk to Al. This wasn’t kindergarten anymore where a little boy bullied me for the last cookie and Scorpius would find him and tell him off. No, this time the stakes were much higher, and even more important is that this time, it’s a game I have to win on my own.
I walk over to my brother and put my hand soothingly on his shoulder. “No,” I say, my voice low yet firm at the same time. “He’s not bothering me, Scorp. You don’t have to worry about it.”
Scorpius nods finally, his shoulders relaxing. “Okay. I guess I should head off then.”
I smile. “I guess so. And stop worrying, Scorp. All that tension for your little sister really doesn’t match well with your ruggish thuggish personality.”
He finally cracks a grin as he walks off over to the end of the corridor. But right before turning, he pauses and looks at me.
“Gold. You and Al are two of the most important people in my life. I’d hate for anything to ruin the balance of that.”
And with that, he rounds the corridor, leaving my stomach swell up with something that felt an awful lot like guilt.
Hey everyone! I wanted to get this chapter in before the queue closure. What do you all think? Please let me know…your reviews mean the world to me! :D