Chapter 5 : The SRLP
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“No. No way.”
“Please, Imogen?” Lolly wheedles. “Please? Just to help your poor best friend?”
I snort. “More like completely mental best friend.”
She pouts. “Please? It’s only this once.”
“I am not going to stalk Potter and Malfoy for you. That’s just plain creepy! Like, seriously, who does that?”
She scoffs. “Don’t be ridiculous, Imogen. It’s most certainly not stalking! It’s just... careful research.”
Lolly hops off the bed and starts digging through her trunk, making a mess of the dorm in the process. Then she holds up a pair of wacky-looking binoculars up triumphantly.
I raise an eyebrow, a skill that took me quite a lot of time and effort to master. “Omnioculars? Seriously? Where’d you even get them?”
“The ’22 Quidditch World Cup! Remember?”
Oh, yeah. That was the one where England got totally hammered by Bulgaria. 410-20. It was painful to watch, even for someone like me who does not particularly care for Quidditch.
“I still don’t see why I have to do this. Why can’t you?”
She rolls her pretty blue eyes. “Because I’ll be busy devising plans. Please?”
“I still haven’t done that Defense essay.”
“Today’s Saturday. You could always do it tomorrow,” she points out.
I take the Omnioculars from her, inspecting them. “Fine, I’ll do it,” I sigh, tucking the Omnioculars deep into my robes. “But just to prove you wrong.”
“Yay!” Lolly squeezes me in a death grip, ignoring the last part I said. “You’re the bestest best friend ever!”
This going-after-Scorpius nonsense needs to end.
There’s snow on the ground. It’s wet. And fucking freezing. Of course it is, it’s the middle of February, and I’m stuck behind a bush, trying to watch for Potter and Malfoy.
I don’t know why I agree to these things, I really don’t. Perhaps it’s the Hufflepuff buried deep inside me, too kind and loyal to refuse. That would explain so much.
Ooh, look, there come Potter and Malfoy!
I try to duck further behind the bush, pulling my Omnioculars out from my robes, hastily adjusting the knobs and straining my ears to hear their conversation.
“…and she asked me if I would take her to the upcoming Valentine’s Day Hogsmeade trip and of course, I had to say yes. Ugh, she’s so annoying.”
“Why are you even dating her?”
“You know why!” hisses Potter, lowering his voice. “Anyways, it’s too cold outside. Let’s go in.”
They trudge through the snow back towards the castle. I stow my Omnioculars into my robes and follow.
I’m not stalking them, I’m not stalking them, I’m not stalking them… Merlin, this feels creepy. Oh well, there’s a first time to everything, I guess, including stalking Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.
I sneak quietly behind them as they walk through the door of the castle. They don’t seem to be acting weirdly around each other… nor have they mentioned cats or carpets or whatever. Malfoy doesn’t seem to like the fact that Potter and Barlow (insatiable bitch) are dating, but then again, if Lolly was dating the male version of Barlow (what a bitch )– Merlin, that’s a weird thought – then I probably wouldn’t like it either, so perhaps it doesn’t really mean anything.
I quickly duck through the door behind them, trying to seem as though I am minding my own business and totally not spying on them. I hope I’m succeeding.
“…library, I have to go finish that essay for Charms,” says Malfoy.
“Alright,” says Potter, “Bye!”
…And then there were two. Except that Potter doesn’t know that I’m here, standing right behind him.
Then something terrible happens. No, the world doesn’t explode into tiny little bits, but this is worse than that.
The Omnioculars fall out of my robes and onto the floor with a loud thud.
Potter turns around, startled, and sees me halfway towards the Omnioculars, frozen like a deer caught in headlights. In other circumstances, I would have laughed at the expression on his face, and mine was probably just as ridiculous as his was, but now is not the time for laughing.
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.
I want a refund. Now. Hey, it was in the fine print.
I Hate You
“Hiya, Potter! Fancy seeing you here! Well, I have to go, er, wash my toad, so… see you around!”
I stuff the Omnioculars in my robes and turn around quickly, but he grabs my arm before I can get away and spins me around to face him.
Merlin, why is he so bloody close? Like seriously, you’d think this boy knows something about a little thing called personal space.
“I really do have to wash my toad–”
He raises an eyebrow, amused. “No you don’t,” he murmurs, his breath fanning across my skin. “There are only three people in this school with toads, and you aren’t one of them.”
I scowl at him. Shit. Now what excuse can I use?
“Now,” he continues, “tell me what you were really doing and why you had those Omnioculars.”
“Well…” I drag the word out. “Um…” Our noses are barely a centimeter part, his brilliant green eyes drilling into mine. I pull away.
“I have no obligation to tell you anything, Potter,” I say finally, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring at him.
He smirks. “We’ll see about that.”
Then he slips the Omnioculars easily out of my hand, leaving me gaping at him for a second before saying, “Oi, give those back!”
He ignores me and fiddles with the knobs before holding the Omnioculars to his eyes.
After a minute, he lowers them and raises an eyebrow at me. “So. You were stalking Scorp and me. How… interesting.”
“If by interesting you mean creepy and stalkerish, then yeah, how interesting. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like these back–” I snatch the Omnioculars from his grasp. “–since they’re not mine.”
“Whose are they?”
“My best friend’s–”
“It’s rude to interrupt, but yes, they’re Lolly’s. She was the one who put me up to this. She calls it research. I call it stalking. Irregardless–”
“It’s supposed to be regardless. Irregardless is an illogical negative prefix.”
I glare. “And interrupting is an ill-mannered habit you seemed to have gained, but you don’t hear me complaining, do you, Potter? Regardless, Lolly wanted me to stalk you and Malfoy because she’s in love with Malfoy – even though it’s just a silly fangirl obsession – and she thinks that you both are in love with each other.”
His expression shifts to one of exasperation and frustration. “Why does everyone think we’re bloody in love! For the last time, we’re not in love! So you can go tell that to your friend– OI! Why are you giggling? It’s not funny!”
“Actually,” says an amused tone whose voice I can’t place. “It sort of is.”
Potter and I both whirl around at the same time, Potter with his wand outstretched.
It’s Scipio, of all people.
“Have you – what – you–”
“Why – how–?”
Scip is wearing another one of his weird T-shirts (MBUCM–some sort of weird band acronym I assume) and has a packet of biscuits in one hand and a grin on his face.
I hastily snatch the packet of biscuits from him and start munching my way through the chocolatey goodness of bourbons.
Scipio looks like he's going to laugh at me for a second, then switches his gaze to Potter, who’s staring at Scip’s shirt.
“Magical Bloodthirsty Underwater Creatures at Midnight.”
I pause in my biscuit-munching. “Hey, aren’t they the band consisting of a werewolf, a vampire, a mermaid, and a unicorn? Weren’t they featured in the music section of Sunday Prophet last year?”
He grins. “That’s the one. Best band of all time.”
“I beg to differ. The Weird Sisters are obviously way better.”
Potter interrupts, “Hate to break up this band talk nonsense – though I do have to agree with Imogen, Weird Sisters all the way – but were you standing here the whole time, listening to our conversation?”
“No.” Then at our skeptical glances, “Honest, I really wasn’t trying to eavesdrop. It’s just that I went to the kitchens for a bite to eat–”
Well, that explains the biscuits.
“–and then I was coming back along here, and I heard you two because, you know, your voices were rather loud, and I heard everything you said about Imogen’s friend thinking that Albus and Scorpius are in love.”
Potter still looks wary. “Well… if you won’t tell anyone…”
“Actually, I have a few plans to help you – both of you."
"Plans?" asks Albus, as equally confused as I am.
"Like starting a secret society or something. To stop Lolly's plans. Haven't you ever thought about that before?"
I furrow my eyebrows and think for a moment, munching on a biscuit. "She's my best friend. Even if I think her plans are completely fucked up, I'd never think about stopping them."
"Not for your sake, but for hers, too," explains Scip. "Haven't you ever thought she could get hurt from them? That's why I'm proposing this idea – this organization thing."
But Potter is smarter than that. “If your plans worked, they might help Lolly and Imogen and save my reputation, but what's in it for you? Everyone has ulterior motives, reasons for helping others than simply just helping others. Let’s face it: people are selfish bastards.”
Wow. Potter has even less faith in humanity than me.
Scipio blanches for a moment, just as surprised at Potter's bluntness as I am, and then says, “People also don’t feel the need to go around telling everybody everything.”
Potter raises an eyebrow. “How do we know we can trust you?”
“How does anyone know they can trust anyone else?” Scip retaliates.
Potter sighs in defeat. "Sure. We can give this a shot."
“What is the antidote to every poison?”
Potter blinks in surprise. “So you Ravenclaws have no password?”
Huh. That’s strange.
“We get a question instead,” replies Scip. “Hmm… the antidote to every poison…”
“A bezoar?” I suggest.
“No,” says Potter. “A bezoar only protects from most poisons.”
Scipio’s eyes light up excitedly. “Golpalott’s Third Law! That’s it!”
“What does that have to do with anything?” I ask.
“The antidote for a blended poison will be equal to more than the sum of the antidotes for each of the separate components!” Scipio recites at top speed.
This is exactly the reason why I am not in Ravenclaw. I would never bothering remembering something like Golpalott’s Third Law past sixth year, because sixth year was the only year we would talk about it in class. Though the Sorting Hat did consider sorting me into Ravenclaw, saying in the end I had enough wit but not enough love of academics. And then I was promptly declared a Hufflepuff. Oh well, at least I’m not in Slytherin like Mr. Cynical over yonder.
“So that’s the antidote to every poison?” I ask.
“There is no one antidote for every poison.”
“Well someone should bloody well make it,” I huff.
Potter turns to me suddenly. “We should make it! For that Potions project thing! Forget about all that mustache-fluttery nonsense; this is so much more useful!”
“Er, Potter…no offense, but… we’re only Hogwarts students, and… well, we’re not good enough at Potions or professional enough or…”
“We should make it,” Potter says firmly.
“No ‘but’s, Cadwallader, we are going to make that Potion whether you like it or not.”
“I think I get a say in this, too–”
“Er, guys… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we solved the riddle. So are we just going to keep standing out here like ninnies or are actually going to go into the Common Room?”
“Exactly what I was about to say!” chirps the eagle knocker.
“Oh. Right,” says Potter, and we all clamber into the Ravenclaw Common Room.
The Ravenclaw Common Room is a wide, circular room hung with blue and bronze. I look up and the domed ceiling is covered with stars. There are little nerds everywhere, poring over textbooks, finishing up essays, or discussing the latest issue of Challenges in Charming. No one bothers looking up at us as we enter, which is typical.
“Nice common room,” I say appreciatively.
Potter scowls. “Slytherin’s is better.”
Probably jealous, the sulky bastard. The Slytherin dormitories are supposed to be covered in slime and decorated with the rotting skulls of serpents. Though Lolita Bertrand isn’t one most people would call a “reliable source”.
Scipio leads us up a blue-carpeted spiral staircase and just as I’m about to faint from dizziness, he pushes open the door to the 7th year boys’ dorms, thank Merlin.
The first thing I notice about it is that it’s messy. Of course it is, it’d be folly to expect anything more from teenage boys.
Scipio shoves aside a pile of clothes, some slightly singed Exploding Snap cards, and pieces of stray parchment and a few bent quills. Potter, Scip, and I sit in a neat circle on the blue-and-bronze carpet.
“So,” begins Scip. “Well, I think Imogen should start.”
“Er…” I say, unaccustomed to having two people stare at me so intently. “Well, my best friend, Lolita, is in love with Malfoy. The thing is, she’s not actually in love with him, but she likes to think she is. She’s been ‘in love’ with countless boys in the past, and each plan to snag them has ended in failure. She’s been ‘in love’ with Malfoy the longest, though, and thus the plans for snagging Malfoy are the most insane. She thinks that Potter and Malfoy might be in love – don’t interrupt, Potter, I know what you’re going to say – even though Malfoy’s currently dating Rose–and Potter’s dating Bitchy Barlow, now that I remember, so that gets Potter out of the way for now – and so she wants to break up Malfoy and Rose and find a way to get Malfoy to fall in love with her. Er, that’s it, I think.”
“For the last time,” mutters Potter, crossing his arms. “I am not fucking in love with Scorp. He’s my friend.”
“Hey,” I shrug. “It’s not my fault you and Malfoy like to hold conversations on cats and carpets.”
“Cats and carpets?” Potter looks puzzled for a moment before comprehension dawns on his face. “Oh. Oh.”
“Oh?” inquires Scipio, grinning a little.
Potter shifts uncomfortably. “It’s mine and Scorp’s code for talking about Bar – Fanny.”
“Bar-Fanny. Interesting name, don’t you think?” I smirk, grinning over at Scip.
Scip’s grin widens. “One would be puzzled to find that you almost called your girlfriend by her surname.”
“It can only mean one thing,” I say.
“You don’t like your girlfriend very much, do you?” concludes Scipio. “Potter and Barlow / Are not in love as much / as others think. Oh wait, that’s four syllables, isn’t it? As others…”
Rolling my eyes at his ridiculous impromptu haiku-ing, I turn back to Potter, who’s torn between looking amused at Scipio the Poet and looking like a deer in the headlights. The resulting expression is an odd mixture of the two, making him look oddly constipated. While his father might have banished You-Know-Who, he certainly didn’t do anything to get rid of You-No-Poo, the constipation sensation who’s still gripping our nation (and the facial expressions of our snarky Slytherins).
“What makes you guys think that I don’t like–”
“Aha! I got it! As others assume!” Scipio bursts in. “Potter and Barlow / Are not in love as much / as others assume!”
“As I was saying–” A pointed glare at our budding poet. “–what makes you think I don’t like Barlow? Of course I like her. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be dating her, would I?” Another glare, this time at both of us. “And anyways,” he continues coolly. “What does it have to do with this?”
“It has everything to do with this!” cries Scip, flailing dramatically a bit, biscuit crumbs spraying from the empty packet in his hand.
Potter rolls his eyes, and I shake biscuit crumbs from my hair and wipe some off my glasses.
Scip ignores us. “It has everything to do with this,” he continues in his excited tone, “because if Lolita doesn’t believe that you and Barlow are in love, then she’ll still think you’re in love with Scorpius and therefore a potential danger. She’ll try to invent new plans to get you not to fall in love with Scorpius.”
“This is quite confusing,” I remark.
Scip glares at me. “So in conclusion,” he says. “Potter here should really get his act together and start pretending at least he likes the bitch–whoops, I meant Barlow.”
That earns him an appreciative glance from me and a not-quite-as-appreciate glare from Potter.
“Why do you want to help us with all of this?” asks Potter suddenly to Scipio. “I mean, what do you gain out of it? Surely, as I’ve said before, it’s not because you simply want to help people.”
“Yeah,” I concur, narrowing my eyes at Scip. It surprises me how I didn’t think of this before. Usually I was very suspicious about people, though admittedly, it was for people I had just met. “Not to be rude or anything, but it’s not like this really involves you, does it?”
Without meeting our eyes, Scipio mumbles something inaudible.
“What’s that again?” asks Potter.
Scip takes a deep breath and holds it for such a long time that I almost wonder if he’s part mermaid or something. “I’m – I’m in love with… L-Lolly.”
Lolly? My best friend? He’s in love with Lolly? Lolly, of all people?
“I – what – you barely know her! You can’t be in love with her! I mean, yeah, a lot of boys think she’s attractive, but…”
Potter looks amused. “Jealous, Cadwallader?”
I sputter. If looks could kill, Potter’d be a rotting pile of bones by now.
“I’m not jealous. It’s just… well, it’s more of the fact that he actually knows her that surprises me. And there’s a difference between thinking you’re in love and actually being in love. Trust me, after all those years of experience with Lolly thinking she’s in love, I know.”
“I’ve been in love with her since, like, fifth year,” adds Scip.
“Fifth year? Really?” I’m still skeptical. It’s not that I don’t believe in the concept of people falling in love. It’s just that I don’t really think people can fall in love in seventh year and still last.
“We worked on that huge Arithmancy project together.”
An exceedingly witty “oh” is all I can come up with.
“Actually,” Potter pipes up. “They’d be quite a good couple. Seriously, I can imagine them with little mini Lollys and Scipios that like to create poetry and scheme.”
“And listen to obscure bands, too,” I grin, sneaking a glance over at a scowling Scip.
“Hmph,” he mutters. “Just wait until you two find the one. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.”
“We need a name for this… this thing,” I say.
“The Organization for Getting Bertrand to Fall in Love with Bartleby?” suggests Potter.
“That’s a terrible name!” And much too long.
He scowls. “Fine. Let’s see what you can come up with.”
I think for a moment and then say, “What about… the Society for Ruining Lolly’s Plans? That’s basically what we’re doing.”
“That’s worse,” says Potter.
“No,” says Scip. “I think it’s a bit better. We refer to it as the SRLP.”
“When do we meet?”
“I have Quidditch practice on Wednesday,” says Potter.
“I have Charms Club on Monday and Gobstones Club on Tuesday.”
“Thursday, then?” I ask, looking at both of them for confirmation.
They both nod.
“Before curfew or after curfew?” asks Potter.
“We’ll get caught after curfew,” I say. “Before curfew. Right after dinner we can meet… oh, no, where are we supposed to have meetings?”
“An abandoned classroom?” suggests Scip.
“I have a better idea,” says Potter. “The Room of Requirement.” He gives us the information for getting in there and where it is and stuff, and then we manage to sneak out of the Ravenclaw dorms without getting caught, which is relatively easy, seeing as they’re all absorbed in studying or whatever nerdy things Ravenclaws like to get up to.
“Well,” I say to Potter as we’re about to part ways. “That was… interesting.”
A/N: So… how'd you like it? The plot is finally moving along, and it seems Imogen's got some of her own schemes up her sleeve! Please feed the review box down there, he's getting a bit hungry! :D
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