Chapter 4 : The Fourth One
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Chapter image by me.
About a week after the pub incident, Lara was walking slowly down Diagon Alley, absently observing the sky. She had decided to go to her music shop to keep her mind off of things. Just in front of Ollivanders, however, she walked straight into another person. She and the other person landed in a sprawl of limbs on the ground, and Lara noted that this person had really nice muscles.
“Oh, hey Lara!” Al Potter greeted, staring up at her from underneath. Lara blinked, peering down at him. She probably looked a bit like an owl. If she moved her head slightly forward, their lips would be touching. “Erm, do you fancy moving? I’m sorry, it’s just that you’re crushing my diaphragm a bit-”
“Oh, yeah, sorry!” Lara hastily moved herself off of Al, rushing to stand up and offer him a hand. As his hand and hers connected, she felt pleasant tingles run up her arm from there. She quickly dropped his hand.
“So Rose told me that you’ve been MIA the past week,” he commented, brushing off his trousers carefully, and picking up the book he’d been carrying. Lara noticed that it was Slaughterhouse Five.
“Just been busy with my studying and such. So are you giving Vonnegut another go?”
“Yeah, but even if his use of the intrusive third closed narrator, I still can’t get over the tone. I swear if he says, ‘So it goes.’ one more time, I’m going to...punch something. Or...I don’t know, I’m not a violent person.”
“But it’s such a great story-”
Thus they ended up in another discussion about the novel for about ten minutes, before Albus finally conceded that it was a great novel, and certainly the basis of much of the post-modernist style.
“So what’re you up to now?”
“I’m heading to a music store to look for new albums.”
“What’re you doing?”
“Just coming from work, I was hoping to find something to eat.”
“Oh, cool. Well, I’ll see you around.”
“Wait, where’s the store that you’re going to exactly? I’ve been trying to find new music.”
“Erm...I’m not the best with directions. I can’t really...streets...” Al chuckled at her nonsensical thoughts.
“Here, why don’t you just side Apparate me there now and I can catch a bite after. Do you mind? I don’t want to interrupt anything, it’s just-”
“Nah, it’s fine. I’m just hoping they have this Aqualung album I’ve been after.”
She offered her arm to Al shyly, and he smiled down at her as he graciously hooked arms with her. Focussing intently on the alley a block away from the store (though Lara had absolutely no idea about where it was in terms of streets), Lara twisted her body into darkness. A moment later, the pair popped back into existence in the alley.
“This...does not look like a music store,” Al commented after he had regained his bearings slightly.
“It’s a Muggle store, genius, I can’t Apparate in directly,” Lara laughed. “Come on, it’s just a block over this way.”
“Not all of us can be straight O Ravenclaws,” Al muttered, following her nonetheless.
“Let me guess. All Os and one E?”
“Still upset about it, as well?”
The pair entered the shop laughing, and Lara cheerily greeted the cashier, a 19 year old boy named Jeff. They’d occasionally chatted about the newer albums, but they didn’t know each other very well.
“This is pretty awesome,” Al declared, observing the numerous posters that adorned the walls and albums that filled the shop. Ever since the rise of iTunes in the Muggle world, CDs had pretty much become obsolete, and some of the hard copies in the shop were limited editions now. Not many people were interested in them given how easy it was to just keep music electronically, but Lara loved the feeling of the hardcover in her hand and looking at the album cover. Apparently, Al felt the same way as he let out a content sigh as he found the old rock section, browsing through the indie stuff of the 90s.
Lara, meanwhile, turned to Jeff, who looked a bit downtrodden. “Why the long face?”
“It’s nothing,” Jeff hastily reassured her, blushing a bit.
“Okay,” Lara accepted, eyeing him carefully. “So do you have that new Aqualung CD in?” Jeff nodded brightly, leading her over to the CD. She happily picked up Still Life, thanking Jeff profusely. Al wandered back over to her, carrying several albums in his arms. A bright grin lit his face.
“Hmmmm, you like Aqualung?” Al inquired, looking at the album in her hand. She nodded. “Have you ever listened to the Shins?” Lara frowned, trying to remember that band.
“No, I don’t think so,” she replied after a moment of reflection.
“You should look them up. I really like both of them and they’re pretty similar,” he suggested, carrying his CDs over to Jeff, who began to check him out. After a moment of watching the process with a quiet look of fascination, Al turned to Lara in panic. “I don’t have any Muggle money!”
“Don’t worry, I can spot you. You can just pay me back in a few.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to-”
“Al, it’s fine, seriously. Jeff, we’re paying together.”
Jeff looked up, nodded, and told them the total. As Lara fished the money out of her purse, he asked, “So how long have you two been dating?” Lara looked up abruptly, completely surprised, and Al’s mouth dropped open.
“We’re not dating-”
“Yeah, just friends-”
The two protested simultaneously, Lara blushing intensely and struggling not to look at Al out of the corner of her eye. Jeff eyed the pair strangely, shrugged, and accepted Lara’s money. “See you around, Lara!” he called after her as they exited the store in silence.
“Wow, he really fancies you,” Al commented after a quiet moment, during which Lara watched the busy street, still blushing. Al was absently mussing his hair up with his right hand.
“What? Don’t be silly. Jeff doesn’t fancy me!”
“Did you see how jealous he looked when we walked in? And then when we set him straight, he looked so relieved. Please, if he doesn’t fancy you, then I don- then I’m Minster of Magic,” Al snorted, grinning at Lara’s startled expression. “What? It was so obvious!”
“Whatever, he’s not my type,” Lara defended herself quickly, without thinking. “Too blonde.” Al’s grin widened.
“Well then, I better get going. I’m going to have some dinner.” Lara didn’t particularly want him to leave, but knew that it’d be awkward to invite herself along to eat. Hanging out with him had done nothing to quell her growing crush on him.
“I guess I’ll see you around then,” Lara said as they walked back towards the alley to Apparate. They exchanged friendly goodbyes before Apparating to their separate destinations.
Once home, Lara played the album loudly, dancing around her kitchen as she prepared herself some simple pasta. She studied her cases for a few hours before opening her laptop contentedly, immediately checking Wizbook. She noticed a few notifications- tagged in one of Hailey’s pictures, Rose liked her profile picture, and Al had written on her wall.
“Shoot, I never paid you back!”
“Don’t worry about it, we’ll probably bump into each other soon enough anyways,” Lara commented back.
“I mean I know I’m pretty fit, but you didn’t have to literally fall at my feet over it,” Al replied a few minutes later. Thus began the punniest Wizbook exchange that Lara had ever seen, and it certainly seemed far flirtier than her usual conversation. Her iOwl started buzzing, and as per usual, it was Hailey.
“Somebody has a crush on Albus Potter!” Hailey sing songed across the line.
“Why are you such a giant creep?”
“Because my baby sister doesn’t tell me anything so I have to use other methods to stay informed. Such as watching her Wizbook intently and hoping that she hasn’t forgotten about her lame ol’ big sister with her newfound fame and popularity.”
“Aw, were you just looking for an excuse to talk to me? You know that I usually deign to talk with the peasants every now and then.”
The two quickly caught up on any new developments in each other’s lives (not that Lara thought hers was particularly enthralling, but her sister forced through a blow-by-blow about her encounter with Al). Excusing herself from her sister, she returned to her studying, a content smile on her face. Before going to bed, she checked Wizbook one last time and saw that Scorpius had commented on Al’s post: “GET A ROOM,” which Rose, Hailey (the traitor!) and Aiden all liked. Well...that’s awkward, Lara thought, changing into her pyjamas before turning the light off and going to bed with a small smile on her face.
The next morning she woke up a bit late, which meant that she Apparated to the hospital just before her shift began with a piece of toast in hand, without the chance to look over the Prophet. She quickly began her usual routine, ignoring the odd behaviour of those around her (there seemed to be something weird about her that day, but she couldn’t be bothered to find out; maybe she had some toothpaste on her face or some such).
During her break, she sat down and realised what was going on as she started reading the Prophet. Because staring back at her on the celebrity section was a picture of herself lying on Al Potter in Diagon Alley from the previous day, with the headline, “ALBUS POTTER OFF THE MARKET?” Nervously, Lara began to read the short article.
Albus Potter, voted one of the Top Fifty Hottest Bachelors Under 30 for two consecutive years by Witch Weekly and infamous bachelor, has been spotted several times with Lara Polorous, pictured above. Has the Albus Potter finally managed to find a girlfriend? It certainly seems this way!
When the Prophet asked her fellow classmates, peers, and friends about Lara, nobody had a bad word to say about the young beauty. She graduated from Hogwarts the same year as Albus as a Ravenclaw with impeccable grades. She continued on to Healer training at St. Mungo’s, skipping the first year of training. She’s set to graduate from the programme at the end of this year, sources report.
Not much has been discovered about the beginning of the relationship between Lara and Al, though they have been spotted on several dates over the past few weeks. Sources also report that the two have been flirting over Wizbook very openly.
Only time can tell what will come of this relationship- is it a fling or something more serious? Given that Al and Lara have been spotted in public together already, it seems pretty serious for Al, who’s usually a more reserved and private person. Stay tuned for more information about the couple in the coming weeks!
Lara stared at the paper blankly. Was her friendship really the cause for a whole article (though it was a fairly short article) in the Prophet? That was a bit ridiculous. It really surprised Lara that everybody kept assuming that she was dating Al when she’d only spoken to him a handful of times.
Lara finished her shift in a daze, ignoring the pointed looks and murmurs that followed her through the halls. Was it really news that she was talking to some bloke? She felt awful for Al and his family if the press was always like this; admittedly, she did usually read what they had to say, but with a grain of salt.
At the end of the day, Lara wandered away from St. Mungo’s without a clear destination. Because it was a Thursday, she had the day off from Beside the Point. When she finally checked her phone (a task she’d been avoiding all day), her phone was lit up with missed calls and texts.
A few friends with whom she hadn’t seen recently (Layla included) were bursting with questions about the article (and she deduced that Witch Weekly also had a longer, not as nice article about the pair of them), a few missed calls from Hailey, one missed call from Rose, and a few frantic texts from the redhead.
“Al feels awful,” the first one read. “He really wants to apologise and make sure you’re okay.”
“You are okay, right? The press aren’t following you?”
“Please don’t let this hinder your friendship!” [Rose was the type of person who could say things like hinder over text and it worked, Lara had decided]
“Seriously he’s beating himself up over it.”
“LARA POLOROUS WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING?!- also, what’s your middle name?”
Lara chuckled quietly and returned Rose’s call.
“She lives!” Rose greeted theatrically, though Lara could hear a slight hint of relief in her tone.
“I’m sorry, I got up late and then I had to go to training so I couldn’t really check my phone,” Lara apologised.
“Oh,” Rose muttered, sounding a bit embarrassed. “Right. My job is pretty chill about phones and stuff, so...”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it! And I’m not bothered by the publicity at all. I mean, a bit taken aback by the forwardness and assumptions of the press, but it doesn’t reflect on Al at all.”
“You should really tell him that. He’s been going crazy all day. I think he forgets that other people care what he does, for whatever reason.”
“Yeah, it’s just part of your life. That’s fine.”
“Man, they had a field day when Scorp and I got together...”
At that moment, as Rose started a long winded story about the press in her fifth year at Hogwarts, something clicked in her brain. Scorpius = Scorp = Scorpion. Rose = Red. And then...Al = Emerald? That had to be what was happening. And that’s why they were all so weird about answering questions about what they do! And that also explained the mystery surrounding the show; Al probably wanted to be popular on its own merit, rather than because of his father.
But if they were the hosts of the show...who was Raven?
Really, Lara, supposed, it had been quite obvious that Al and Scorp hosted Rush Hour from the beginning; how many people were there in the wizarding world who were best friends with somebody who was dating their cousin? And the more she thought about Al and Emerald, it became incredibly obvious that they were the same person (and the fact that Scorpius used the code name Scorpion...Lara wanted to smack herself that it had taken over a week of interaction with these people to figure it out).
It was weird that Lara had run into them at the same this whole story unfolded, Lara mused, still tuning out Rose on the phone. She must have run into Rose and Scorpius during their stalking mission the other week, and met Al right after he talked to Raven for the first time. Well, life is weird, she decided, tuning back into Rose’s story.
“...so then my dad tried to punch the reporter, right, and Scorpius held him back...”
Okay, maybe it was too late to listen to that particular story. Eventually, they fell into an easy chatter, before Rose cut her off and asked, “Lara, where are you right now?”
“Erm...walking around....oh, I think I’m in Diagon Alley.”
“Yeah, I definitely see you across the street right now.”
Lara turned and found that Rose was standing outside the bar they’d met in a few weeks ago, waving madly to her. Once Lara reached Rose across the street, they hugged for a slightly uncomfortable second (Lara wasn’t a very touchy person) before heading into the pub together. “So I’m just waiting for Scorpius and Al right now,” Rose explained as they sat down in what must be their regular booth. “They’re still at work, but they should be here in a few.” Lara noticed that it was a few minutes past six, which further confirmed her “Scorp and Al are Scorpion and Emerald” (SAAASAE for short) idea.
“Okay, I guess I’ll get something to drink then,” Lara told Rose before obtaining some alcohol from the bar. She wasn’t usually one to drink that much, but she had training off the following day (she had switched to the Emergency Ward rotation, and the weekends were their busiest time, so she got off Monday and Friday instead of Saturday and Sunday) and was honestly quite disappointed that Al obviously liked this Raven character and not her.
A few moments later, Al and Scorpius appeared. Scorpius kissed Rose gently on the cheek and they started to talk quietly to each other, leaving Al and Lara. Lara had only had a little bit of the alcohol (she really had no idea what is was, just that it would probably get her drunk pretty quickly, which she didn’t fancy doing in front of Al), so she smiled at Al and asked him how his day was.
“I’ve had better,” he replied easily. “Erm...I don’t know if Rose passed along my messages...”
“Oh, yeah, it’s completely fine,” Lara assured him with a grin plastered on her face. “Though why on earth were you with Rose for so long today?”
“I have a pretty flexible schedule, so sometimes I bug Rose in the morning at her job.”
“Oh, I get it.” SAAASAE seemed pretty legit to Lara at this point.
“Are you sure that you’re fine with what the Prophet said?”
“I mean...it’s a bit weird, yeah, but it’s not really your fault. Just the wonky press.” She absently wondered why there wasn’t an article about Al with Raven rather than her if he was so interested in her, but thought he probably had been more careful with Raven. With that thought, she took another sip of the alcohol. She could feel her head growing fuzzier so she placed the glass back on the table.
“I’m glad they didn’t throw you off too much.”
“I mean you’re pretty cool. You cancel out the press, more or less. I’m glad that we’re friends.” She grinned across the table at him, and he smiled widely back.
“Yeah, it’s really fortunate that Rose and Scorp” (SAAASAE was unquestionably true, Lara decided upon hearing the way Al said Scorp) “bumped into you so that we started talking.”
“Though if I remember correctly, we had talked a bit at Hogwarts,” Lara remembered. “Hey, weren’t you my partner when we made Veritaserum?” Al nodded, a blush crawling up his neck. “And you didn’t want to test it in front of the class so I had to.” Al’s whole cheeks were red at this point. “And then I admitted that I thought that Professor Reynolds was really fit in front of the whole class!” Al started chuckling at the memory, his blush dying down. “Merlin, I couldn’t look at him normally for at least a month after that...Why didn’t you take it?”
Al muttered something that Lara couldn’t hear.
“Yes, Mr. Gryffindor?”
“The girl I fancied was in that class and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of her,” Al bit out, turning red again. Lara giggled, before wondering how much she’d drunk if she was actually giggling.
Then Lara turned the comment over in her head- Raven was in their Potions class. But the only Ravenclaw girls in that class were Stella, her, and the loud, chatty clique (the “popular” Ravenclaws, Lara supposed, though she didn’t particularly care). So...Raven...but the thought was on the edge of her mind, and she didn’t want to find it then (apparently, when she started thinking hard about something, she would stare directly in front of her, and sometimes would accidentally do wandless magic, depending on the subject of thought).
“You know, you text Rose all the time but I don’t have your number,” Al pouted at Lara. Yes, he was a grown, twenty-one year old man who was pouting. Lara rolled her eyes and fished her phone out of her trusty purse and exchanged it with him. They quickly added each other before smiling at each other. Lara was completely entranced by his eyes- it was no wonder that he chose Emerald for his name with eyes like those.
“Oi, love birds!” Rose interrupted, causing Lara to blush brightly and turn to the redhead. An amused expression played across Rose’s face. “We’re going to grab some dinner, wanna come?”
And that was how Lara ended up on something suspiciously like a double date with Albus Potter.
AN: DUN DUN DUN! Lara is finally catching up with everybody else. The end is near, my friends. Anyways please tell me how you feel about the chapter as ever! :)
DISCLAIMER: I draw heavy inspiration from In Love With My Radio, another fanfic in the Merlin fandom. The original idea for this story is from there; beyond that, there's little in common. Additionally, the entire world of Harry Potter is not mine at all; I'm just strolling through JK's beautiful garden. I am also not Kurt Vonnegut or any other actual author mentioned in this fic. Same goes for bands.
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