Chapter 7 : Doubts
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A/N: Took me so long to write this, and I'm still not satisfied. Meh.
Chapter Seven: Doubts
I was walking back toward the castle as fast as I could, trying not to regret ever leaving the quidditch changing rooms. The girls had left immediately after practice, a bit more awake than they had been at the beginning of it but still complaining about the ungodly hour. James had decided to have practice before breakfast on a Saturday. And the boy wasn’t even a morning person. He had been grumpy and short-tempered the entire time! Unfortunately, he was also the boss of all things quidditch and he had decided we needed extra practices after our last match.
Anyway, back to why I had to force myself to walk away from the pitch. You see, only seconds after the girls had left, I had found myself between two quickly undressing cousins. Not that I minded the sight of either of them, but it would’ve been quite embarrassing when they’d eventually noticed the drool dripping from my mouth. And since I didn’t think myself capable of acting as if nude boys didn’t have the slightest effect on me, I had come up with some excuse and bolted out of there.
I was now heading for the fifth floor prefects’ bathroom, to which Olivia had given me the password – at least one advantage I got from the whole awkward love-triangle. And yes, it had become obvious over the past couple of weeks how much of a triangle it really was. After our date, Olivia had warmed up to James and his gang; unfortunately this had been just an attempt to befriend my roommates. Not that Olivia didn’t like James, but somehow he always managed to turn into an awkward, mumbling idiot when she was around.
I saw the incredible charm in all that mumbling of course. Growing up in a mainly muggle household and having Sebastian as a brother, I knew Shakespeare’s work pretty well, and apparently so did James. Sometimes, mostly when he was nervous, he would suddenly quote one of his verses and I wouldn’t be able to prevent an admiring sigh from escaping my lips.
Really, wasn’t that the cutest thing? Yet, all Olivia could do was purse her lips and look really annoyed with him, as if he was socially retarded. And every time I would wonder why in the world he didn’t see how much they did NOT fit together, and how perfectly made for each other we actually were. Not that James would realise that, since I’m being a boy and all. Sigh.
I quickly checked if the prefect bathrooms were deserted, which they were of course because every student was still sleeping, as normal teenagers do on a Saturday morning.
After showering and drinking the small amount of Polyjuice Potion that was still in my flask, I quickly headed up to the Gryffindor common room to grab my potions books and cauldron. Some early risers were heading down to breakfast by now, and I felt my empty stomach twist annoyingly. Unfortunately, breakfast had to wait. I needed to get down to the dungeons as quickly as possible. I could stop by the kitchens afterwards.
Panting slightly I slipped into the Potions classroom and dropped my stuff onto an empty table.
“Hello.” I let out a very unmanly, high squeak. Slytherin’s keeper, Scorpius Malfoy, chuckled and walked toward his cauldron which was already sizzling on top of a small fire.
I stared at the door he had left open behind him... Professor York’s office, empty and unlocked, free for me to get everything I wanted from her private supply closet.
“She leaves it open for me,” Scorpius said, catching on. “Take whatever you need. York doesn’t mind.”
“Thanks,” I muttered awkwardly, my thoughts snapping back to the person I had not expected to be in the Potions classroom this early on a Saturday. Wasn’t he Scorpius Malfoy? The evil spawn of Draco Malfoy, arch nemesis of all Weasleys and Potters? Then why was he so freaking nice? “Aren’t you supposed to hate me?”
“Am I? Why?” Scorpius asked, not looking up from his textbook.
“Because I’m a... Gryffindor?” I asked hesitantly. To my surprise, the blond Slytherin chuckled.
“The only moment I might hate you is when we’re both out on the quidditch pitch,” he explained, sending me a rather handsome crooked smile. I stared back at him. He chuckled again. “Disappointing, isn’t it?”
“What?” I muttered.
“I get it. I’m Draco Malfoy’s son, grandson of Lucius. I don’t really live up to the general expectations of a Malfoy, I know. I’m still not sure whether that’s a good thing or not,” Scorpius explained with a humourless smile on his face.
“It is,” I said sympathetically. “I mean, from what I’ve heard...”
“Well, you heard from the wrong people!” He snapped, cutting me off. I hid my surprised reaction.
Of course, the entire feud between Draco Malfoy and the golden trio –and between Lucius and Arthur Weasley before them– had gone down into the history books. But so had the fact that Draco had not killed Dumbledore although he had been ordered to by Voldemort himself, as well as the fact that Narcissa Malfoy had saved Harry Potter’s life in the Forbidden Forest.
Only after arriving at Hogwarts, did I truly understand how that everlasting hatred between those two families had manifested itself into everyone’s daily life here. It wasn’t like the Weasleys/Potters and Malfoy were fighting every day. Aside from the snide comments whenever they did accidentally find themselves in the same place at the same time, they basically just avoided each other as much as possible.
It was more the fact that everyone just accepted that that was the way it was, as if that was the way it was meant to be. It had almost become an idiom on itself: ‘the day a Weasley and a Malfoy share a box of chocolate cauldrons’ meant just as much as ‘when pigs fly’.
The reason for this, I realised at that moment, was probably because none of the Weasleys/Potters really tried to get out from under the prototypical image people had of them. I mean, there were some obvious standards a Weasley or Potter had to live up to, such as being sorted into Gryffindor, and there was an clear gap between the ones that lived up to these standards and the ones who didn’t. Roxanne, for example, was considered the odd one in the family because she was sorted into Slytherin, while the Gryffindors were ‘normal’. Right.
And Molly... well, she really was odd.
It was not like the family or any of the parents would really distance themselves from any member of the family just because they weren’t sorted into Gryffindor. It was more the fact that those who were in Gryffindor were so incredibly close.
But back to the real topic at hand: Scorpius Malfoy, Hogwarts’ most inscrutable Slytherin. If I hadn’t known about him already before ever meeting him, I don’t think I would’ve ever noticed he even attended Hogwarts... Surprisingly enough, Malfoy was somewhat of a wallflower. I just always assumed I never saw him because of the company I kept but I guess this blonde boy, with the heavy load of being a Malfoy on his shoulders, had been hiding out in the Potion classroom where he seemed to be really working... on a Saturday morning.
Aside from that last incomprehensible fact, I realised that maybe this person wasn’t so bad. He seemed nice enough, and to tell you the truth James or any of his relatives had never truly said why they hated him so much. It was more like he was a shunned topic with them. I considered the fact that maybe I should get to know him a bit before I decided that I didn’t like him.
If only any of the Weasleys could comprehend that too, but they were known for their stubbornness, and I’m telling you, having that prejudice against them was completely justified!
I opened my textbook and pretended to know what recipe I was looking for. Despite my realisation that Malfoy might just have a big, warm, teddy-bear heart beneath that silent and mysterious cover, it was rather unfortunate that he was here. I had come just to nick the ingredients I needed to brew more polyjuice potion in the old cabin outside.
“So, does York leave her office unlocked for a everyone or just you?” I asked, trying to look indifferent.
“Me,” Malfoy replied, not looking up from his cauldron. “And Weasley.”
“Which one?” was my immediate response. I looked up when he hesitated.
“Rose,” he said and I noticed how unfamiliar the use of that name was to him. He hadn’t said it in the snappy way he normally said her last name and it had come out far nicer than he had expected.
I looked back down at my textbook when he noticed my scrutinizing look.
“Who else?” He asked with a humourless snort. I didn’t respond but was focusing on the recipe before me that involved powdered horn of a bicorn and shredded skin of a boomslang, the ingredients I still needed to make more polyjuice potion. Under the pretence of making this fairly easy chameleon potion, I could take as much of those ingredients from York’s private supply as I wanted. “I mean, there’s no way she would ever allow me to be better at something than her!”
Before I could respond to that, Malfoy started a rant about how Rose Weasley was every teacher’s pet and that no one was allowed to feel special next to her. I was listening only slightly as I walked toward York’s office and out of earshot, yet this didn’t stop Malfoy’s monologue because when I re-entered the classroom he was still talking to his potion.
“You know, apparently her parents don’t ask how her grades are, just if they’re better than everyone else’s,” he continued as I walked past him. I stopped and raised one eyebrow at him.
“You don’t believe that, do you?” I asked sceptically and I could see him blush.
“Well, I – eh, guess that’s probably just some rumour,” he admitted regretfully.
“Yes, and a very untrue rumour,” I added as I walked back to my cauldron. “Made up out of pure jealousy.”
I watched him out of the corner of my eye as his face grew even redder.
“It’s not like she doesn’t deserve it,” he muttered.
“Does she really? I don’t see what is so wrong about who she is, apart from her innate need to know everything maybe. But you do realise her mother is Hermione Weasley, don’t you?”
Malfoy snorted and shrugged but I noticed that he still didn’t quite agree. There was a moment of silence, before Malfoy couldn’t hold his tongue anymore.
“She’s just such an over-achiever,” he grumbled.
“You’re the one making potions on a Saturday morning,” I pointed out.
“So are you,” he said with a small chuckle. I smiled and once again I noticed how nice and amicable this was. “And it’s not necessarily her, it’s... it’s her family, I guess. It’s just so... big.”
I snickered and Malfoy noticed how ridiculous that argument sounded.
“I don’t know, it’s just that, because there are so many of them, they think they’re untouchable and can do whatever they want, that there are no consequences to their actions. Everyone loves the famous Golden Trio, right? And so their entire offspring just assumes they’re famous too. Isn’t it grant?” Malfoy continued sarcastically. “My dad’s famous, too, and it never really worked out that well for me.”
Once again, I noticed how jealous he sounded. He pretended to hate the Weasleys/Potters but I got the feeling that he was actually rather envious, especially of Rose.
He remained silent while I hid the powdered horn and the shredded skin in my pocket. After another 20 minutes of silence, Malfoy started to clear his desk and cauldron. I slowly started to pack my things as well.
As he passed my cauldron on his way, he stopped and took a look at the murky liquid of which the colour kept switching between purple and black.
“You should come down here more often,” he said with a smug look on his face.
“Yeah, maybe I should ask Rose for some help. I hear she’s the best of her class,” I replied slyly. Malfoy’s face darkened for a moment before he realised I was just making fun of him.
With a swish of my wand the cauldron’s content disappeared and I gathered all my things from the desk to take them back with me to my dorm.
“Whatever,” Malfoy muttered before heading the opposite direction as me. I looked over my shoulder at the blonde boy’s back and realised that maybe Scorpius Malfoy was somewhat of a catch, not that any of the Gryffindor girls I knew would ever say that.
With a dreamy smile on my face I headed upstairs, almost running into the person that was sitting on the bottom steps of the stairs. It was Valentine.
“Was that Malfoy?” He asked before I could say anything. I looked over my shoulder again but the Slytherin had already disappeared.
“Yes,” was the only thing I said as I quickly headed up the stairs and away from Valentine’s scrutinizing look. It rather scared me. From the very beginning I had had the feeling that Valentine was watching me more closely than any of my other roommates, like he knew that there was something not quite right about me...
“I know what your secret is.”
“You’re gay, aren’t you?” He asked very calmly, as if he had already decided what the answer would be.
“Eh –what? You... I tss, can...?” I made a few more weird gagging sounds, until I finally found the strength to get a decent response out. “No!”
“Trust me. I’m less oblivious than those ignorant fools we call our roommates; less oblivious than James,” he said looking at me pointedly. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. “You like him.”
My head screamed ‘No!’ again but it hadn’t really been a question, and so my face decided to turn scarlet, confirming what Valentine had just said.
“I’m not gay, okay!” I decided not to lie, seeing as Valentine was truly more perceptive than the average teenage boy.
“It’s okay. Denial really is the first step, you know,” he said calmly. I decided to splutter incoherently again.
And then a curious thought popped into my head. I considered Valentine’s words and his comfortable attitude toward the whole gay topic. I felt like my eyeballs were literally going to fall out of their sockets as realisation hit me.
“You – you...? Gay?”
I clearly wasn’t as comfortable with the topic as I had always assumed I would be. I couldn’t even get an actual question out, but Valentine understood none the less and was kneading his hands nervously. If his skin wasn’t so dark, it probably would’ve been my turn to see the other one blush.
“Well, for a gay bloke you’re pretty blind to other people’s love-interests. But I guess you’ve been too preoccupied with your own feelings... for James.”
“Shush!” I whispered frantically, looking around us as we reached the Great Hall. Being overheard would truly be a disaster, although this was already scoring big points on the “awesome-replace-Sebastian-plan-starting-to-fail” scale. I needed to steer the conversation into a different direction, so Valentine wouldn’t get the chance to blatantly ask me if I liked James. Because how was I going to explain that I was madly in love with James Potter, and yet was not in any way homosexual? I thought about what Valentine had just said. It had sounded like...
“So you’re in love with someone?” I asked.
That struck gold.
“You said I was pretty blind to other people’s love-interests because I had been so surprised when I found out you’re... Well, you know.” I said, feeling very warm all of a sudden.
Merlin, what was wrong with me? Why was it so hard to say ‘gay’? Thinking the word didn’t bother me. Gay! Gay! Gay! Valentine probably thought I was being all awkward about the word because I was gay. Great.
“Not that it is any of your business really but yes, there might be someone,” Valentine said diplomatically.
“Who?” I asked immediately. Valentine gave me a sceptic look telling me that he was not going to say. “Do the others know? I mean, James, Cedric? Tim?”
Valentine snorted and shook his head.
“And no way in the world are you going to tell them, or I’ll tell on you... to James.”
My face must have looked frightened enough to satisfy Valentine, because he relaxed and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Why not, though? I bet James and Cedric would be pretty okay with it, after the initial shock. Might be a bit awkward, I guess.” Valentine was silent for a moment, shoving his hands deeper into his pockets and shuffling his feet nervously.
“Why didn’t you tell them?” He asked instead of answering.
“Because I’m not gay!” I snapped at him. He stared at me curiously, pondering whether I was telling him the truth or just in denial. He sighed as he looked away again.
“Do you mind taking this outside?” He asked, taking a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and showing it to me. I shrugged and followed him toward the big wooden doors.
“I didn’t know you smoked cigarettes,” I said after refusing the one he had offered me.
“I don’t. Fred Weasley gave them to me for my sixteenth birthday. You know, Fred, Cedric’s older brother?” I nodded. “He was handing them out like free candy back then. He invented them for his father’s jokeshop. Their effect changes depending on your mood; you know, relaxing when you’re stressed out, a pick-me-up when you’re down, making you hallucinate when you’re having... let’s say a writer’s block, even getting you high if you’re really depressed.” Valentine grinned as if he was reliving a funny memory. “Fred thought it was going to be their next best selling product but his father didn’t want them. They’re incredibly addictive, you know. So, Fred’s now stuck with loads of these and will try to sell you some every chance he gets. If his parents ever found out he kept them.” I had a faint smile on my lips.
We were silent for a couple of minutes, while I marvelled at how much I enjoyed listening to stories about the entire Weasley/Potter family.
“So, are you finally going to tell me why you’re not openly gay? I mean, you seem quite confident about it.” I asked delicately as I watched the smoke leave Valentine’s mouth and form different kinds of playing cards motifs against the sky. Another special feature of those magical cigarettes, I assumed.
“My parents know, so does the rest of my family. In my opinion, that means I’m pretty openly gay,” Valentine explained with a sigh.
“Then what's the problem? I know Hogwarts is old-fashioned but I’m sure you’re not the first gay student here,” I said encouragingly.
“Yeah yeah, sure and I’m not afraid of the whole school finding out. I wouldn’t care. It’s just that it wouldn’t really matter, would it? In about 7 months, I’m out of here and nothing will have changed,” He said, sounding a bit frustrated.
“What about the person you liked? At least there would be a better chance of...,” I started to explain but Valentine was shaking his head decidedly.
“There wouldn’t be if he isn’t into blokes, would there?” He said and I tried to read his stony face.
“You don’t know that! Maybe he’s still in the closet; maybe you’d be helping him.”
“He’s not and I wouldn’t,” He deadpanned.
“How do you know? You cannot be one hundred percent sure that he is not gay, unless he’s your best friend or something...” I reasoned and I noticed how his head snapped up a little at the mention of a best friend.
“You like James?” I whispch ered, once again blown away by suinformation.
“Not everyone likes James, okay?” Valentine replied briskly.
Tim was probably one of the most heterosexual blokes inside this castle, and I couldn’t really imagine anyone –other than the empty-headed blondes with low self-esteem– really falling for him.
Valentine ignored my question but I was pretty sure he had been talking about Cedric. The problem was that ever since Laura had joined the Quidditch team, Cedric seemed to have taken a true liking toward her and seemed to be pretty straight.
“You see how telling any of them wouldn’t do any good? They’d just act weird for the last couple of months we still have to share a dorm,” Valentine explained and I had to admit that he was right. “So, I get why you may not have told anyone, but I just thought you should have someone to talk to if you wanted.”
“You’re a good friend, Valentine, but I’m not gay,” I said and I could see him roll his eyes.
“Maybe, but you still like James,” he said wittily.
I jumped up nervously as I realised the conversation had turned back to me and my crush on James Potter.
“Owlery!” I said louder than I intended. “Yes, I have to write a letter. Bye.”
I quickly ran away from Valentine before he could follow me and get the real truth out of me.
As I kept ascending those moving stairs, I realised that I did really have to write a letter. After three frantic requests from my mother to let her know if I was going to the Ball, it was maybe time to reply.
Of course, I would go to the Ball, how could I not? But somehow, I hadn’t officially wanted to confirm it with my mother until I had a decent plan. Now that I had found a truly amazing kind of charmed water that cleansed you from all kinds of spells you have on you or potions you have taken, I could rest assured that at least there was a small possibility of me pulling off my being both me and my brother act at the Ball.
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