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Chapter 12 : One, Two, Three
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A B C, it's as easy as
1 2 3, as simple as
do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or the Jackson Five lyrics
Everybody lives with a mask on.
I grew up with a single mom and a dad who made half the world hate him while the other half thought he was Merlin’s long-lost grandson. I was always the type of person to put my heart and soul into whatever I did. When I was living on the farm I was obsessed with the animals and I would cry for hours when one of them died. By the time I got to Hogwarts I was still relatively innocent. Relatively.
My mum was pretty amazing. She did whatever she had to do to take care of me and she always made sure that it seemed like she had everything under control—even when she didn’t. She made our crappy trailer into something that resembled a Hollywood movie set. She turned her job as a waitress into something fun by making up stories about the people she served. She read to me every night and worked her shifts around my bed time. She even removed everything electric and remotely flammable from the trailer when I was two and started displaying my magic by causing things to burst into flames when I was upset. No matter how bad things got, she always seemed to have it under control.
Astoria was a lot like her in that way. The Malfoy’s may not have been living the life of a rich and dignified pureblood family but the rich and privileged purebloods they associated with had no idea what their real living conditions were like. When they went into the Wizarding World Astoria was always dressed perfectly, her make-up was impeccable, and her demeanor as proud and put-together as ever. They lived a life that would make their parents cringe but if you didn’t know, you would never have guessed. She always told me that the first step in making your situation better was fooling the people around you. After you fooled them, you could start fooling yourself.
I learned that nothing lasts forever pretty young. It didn’t break my innocence or anything; it was just a fact of life because no matter how awesome my mum was, it was impossible for me to grow up without a few scars. When I was thirteen I went through a faze of decidedly not caring. I ignored people who talked to me, I rolled my eyes at my teachers, and I drove my mum up the wall. It took spending Christmas break with Tyler third year to realize that not caring really wasn’t a realistic and long-lasting option so instead we made a pact: since we couldn’t stop ourselves from caring we would do the next best thing and make everyone else believe that we didn’t care.
We had each other, we had our friends (who eagerly joined in our little agreement), and we had the people (like my mum, Natasha’s brother, and the Malfoy’s) who knew us well enough to know that our act wasn’t real—and that was all we needed in order to pull it off. When we were alone, we acted like our usual crazy, reckless, and slightly insane selves but as soon as we were back at school or around other people who we didn’t trust, our masks went back on. I did what I wanted when I wanted and as far as most people at Hogwarts were concerned, I was a wash-up—destined to live a life full of alcohol, with no job, and by myself.
The thing about masks, though, is that eventually they have to come off.
Sometimes people are conscious of the masks they wear and purposefully take them off. Other times people don’t even realize the act that they are putting on and let their mask fall off without noticing a change. But most people, whether conscious of their act or not, don’t take off their mask until it begins to wear and tear.
It might get caught in a storm and be ripped off violently (like if a new student shows up and tells the whole school about the bad-boy’s fear of spiders). It might be slowly pulled off by those around you, piece by piece until you emerge without realizing it ever disappeared (like when a loner makes one friend that turns into two, five, eight and suddenly they have a whole a group). Or it might just deteriorate as you get older and your image changes. Both the image that you portray and person you are inside find a happy sort of balance where who you act like is as much a part of you as the person who you are inside.
Masks are usually used as a means of protection but the key is not to forget who you are without the mask or at least be able to figure out who you are when your mask finally dissolves into nothingness. Whether it’s a mask to protect you from sympathetic looks in the hall when your ex-boyfriend is snogging his girlfriend in public two days after you break up or a mask to convince your parents you’re ready for a dog when you don’t really know a thing about them, eventually the mask has to be let go. If it’s the ex-boyfriend problem you have to be able to cry and then move on and if it’s the dog thing you have to let your pride go and read up so that you aren’t cleaning up pee for the rest of your life.
Your boyfriend doesn’t need to know that you were hurt when you saw him and your parents don’t need to know that you knew less than you seemed to but you do need to figure out how to deal without the mask so that it can eventually be tossed to the back of your brain with all the rest of your little white lies and screw ups.
But no matter what, you have to know when to use a mask and when not to—when to be protected and when to just let go.
* * * * *
“Why did people consider a protein charm to be—”
“There you are!” Natasha was interrupted suddenly as Fredward Weasley suddenly decided to grace us with his presence.
We both looked up from our books in annoyance and he took a seat without bothering to ask. Probably because he knew we’d say no. Or maybe because he likes getting hit with stinging jinxes as he has been every other time he came and interrupted my study sessions for the past…oh, four years?
Natasha gave me a look that clearly implied I should get rid of him. Unfortunately Fred and I were on a two month streak of not hexing each other and I didn’t want to be the one who broke it. It was a pride thing!
“What do you want Fredward?” I asked instead, hoping that getting to the point would make him go away faster.
“What, no small talk?” he asked in a mockingly offended voice. “No ‘how’s the family’ or—”
“Fred I hold none of Taylor’s qualms about hexing you so get to the bloody point,” Natasha snapped.
“You know, Natasha, that would be a lot scarier if I wasn’t used to getting hit by Taylor’s jinxes because the truth is yours just aren’t as—”
“Fred,” I warned darkly, reaching the edge of my patience.
He clearly recognized the danger zone because he stopped with the purposeful annoyance and got to the reason he had been stalking us for the last week and a half. He chased us up a tree three days ago. Natasha hates climbing trees.
“Look, there’s no way to spin this so I’m just going to say it straight out: we need your help.”
“Who is ‘we’ exactly?”
Natasha, clearly having dismissed the idea of helping him already, sent me a look. I ignored her and tapped my quill thoughtfully. Helping other people first can come in handy because then when you need a favor they’re paying you back and you don’t have to be indebted.
“Well, me and the other Gryffindor seventh years,” he said, jiggling his leg the way he used to when we were kids and about to get in trouble.
“What in the world could you need our help with?” Natasha scoffed, laughing the idea off.
“Can we talk about this somewhere more private?” Fred asked, looking around nervously.
“No,” I said, sharing a look with Natasha. “If you want our help spill it now or we’re out.”
“If you all need our help, why would they send you?” Natasha asked and I couldn’t help but agree with her. It wasn’t a secret that Freddy and I didn’t get on well. We weren’t dueling or hurling insults at each other 24/7 but there was no denying that we had issues and everyone in our house and year would have to be blind, deaf, and idiotic not to know that.
“Well I was the only one who really had an in,” he shrugged. “Dominique would be dead by now and you would have dismissed the others right away.”
I cocked an eyebrow thinking it over.
“We wouldn’t have dismissed Franky,” I said, referring to the tiny but extremely conniving boy. “We’ve made some good deals with him.”
“Franky was too scared,” Freddy shrugged.
“Is there a freaking point here?” Natasha demanded, throwing her quill down angrily. Studying tends to make her grumpy.
“We need to come up with our seventh year prank,” Fred whispered quietly, leaning his head in towards us after once again checking over his shoulders to see if anyone was listening.
“You want us,” I said, indicating Natasha and I after the shock had diminished some, “To help you,” I pointed at him, “Figure out a good way to continue a Hogwarts tradition.”
“You know, it sounds a lot stupider when you say it,” Freddy said, his leg jiggling again.
“Everything sounds stupider when Taylor says it,” Natasha waved him off.
“Are we allies on this or not?” I snapped at her and she quickly sobered, nodding at me.
“Sorry,” she muttered and then cleared her throat. “What’s in it for us?”
“The pride of knowing that you helped with the greatest prank in Hogwarts’ history,” Freddy declared.
“And you think that’s good enough?” Natasha scoffed and Freddy glared.
“I know you’re entire family has been in Slytherine for generations but aren’t you supposed to be less selfish than them since you’re in Gryffindor?” Freddy shot at her.
“I would bet you my entire Gringotts account that there are selfish people in all four houses Fredward,” I said in a bored tone.
While Freddy and I hexed each other, he and Natasha argued any time they were forced to be in each others presence without adult supervision. Freddy would insult her family, Natasha would insult his hair, and then everything would snowball.
“But before we make a decision on whether or not we will help, why don’t you tell us what this amazing prank is, yeah?” I suggested lightly, not bothering to lower my voice because I knew it would annoy him that we weren’t taking this seriously.
“Well that’s the thing,” Freddy said, his leg now jiggling at double its previous speed. He looked around shiftily and leaned in as he spoke as quietly as he could while still allowing us to make out his horrified tone as he said, “We don’t have one yet.”
Natasha and I looked at each other and laughed. Freddy sat back up and didn’t even bother looking offended. If he had come in expecting us to agree without taking the Mickey out of him and enjoying every moment of the groveling then they really should have sent Dominique. At least she had such a low opinion of us that nothing we did would ever surprise her. Unless maybe we went to Azkaban because although she often told us that was where we would end up, I never really got the feeling she actually believed it.
“Fred, if you don’t have a prank then why were you whispering?” I asked.
“Because if word gets out then my reputation will be ruined,” he hissed. “But we’re having Pranking block. Get it like—”
“Don’t finish that sentence.”
“So you can’t think of a prank but you want our help when you do think of one?” Natasha clarified, frowning a bit.
“Well not exactly,” Fred said hesitantly and I glared at him to indicate I was sick of his roundabout style of explaining. “We want your help coming up with a prank. I know you guys have this social awareness thing going for the last two years but don’t you want to do something that’s just for the heck of it again?”
“The last time we did a prank ‘just for the heck of it’ you ended up being lifted out of the lake by the Giant Squid,” Natasha pointed out, a smile tugging at the sides of her mouth. Freddy, to both of our surprise, smiled twice as wide as her.
“But see, that is exactly the genius we’re looking for,” he begged (or just said. Personally, I prefer insisting that he begged). “Except maybe something that won’t land us in detention for the last two months of school because there are ten eye-witnessed but the same sort of originality because nothing we think of is big enough for our last prank. Don’t you want to leave a lasting impression on the school?”
“Nope,” Natasha said, turning back to her book.
“C’mon Taylor,” he turned to me, knowing Natasha was a lost cause at this point. “Wouldn’t it be fun? For old times sake at least? We’re about to graduate, what have you got to lose?”
I bit my lip and glanced from him to Natasha uncertainly.
“Fine, I’m in,” I decided impulsively. Natasha sighed but nodded when he glanced over at her.
“If she’s in I guess I’ll do it,” she sighed. “But it has to be epic. I don’t want people to think that we’ve gone soft.”
“Deal,” Freddy said immediately, jumping up from his seat. “We’re having a meeting tonight at one.”
“How’d you know I’d say yes?” I called after him. He turned around at the edge of the bookshelves that would block him from view and grinned at me.
“Whether you like it or not, I do still know you Taylor,” he laughed. “You really haven’t changed all that much.”
“How close were you two before Hogwarts?” Natasha asked curiously once he had disappeared.
I sighed. “Close enough that we know how to make the other tic and have more than a few memories that end with us hiding in his attic. But forget that because I just realized why Tyler’s probably been so AWOL the last few days, assuming all the houses do a prank and it’s not some Gryffindor thing.”
“You think he’s helping them?” Natasha gasped dramatically and clutched her hand to her heart. “He’s been ditching us for his housemates.”
“It makes sense since Flint is probably organizing the whole thing, being a prefect and all he would make the most sense. Tyler’s always been pretty good friends with him,” I thought out loud.
“Oh, our prank is so going to crush theirs,” Natasha said, an evil grin taking over her face. I half expected her to rub her hands together and start cackling. Thankfully she didn’t and I was able to go another day without checking her into the mental hospital. Oh how much easier my life would be if I had just dealt with her psychological issues then.
* * * * *
It didn’t take long for August to pass and September first arrived much sooner than I was expecting. It was a Tuesday so I couldn’t go with them to the station but I said goodbye to Meg Ann the night before and promised I would try to sneak out for an early lunch if I was able to so that I could see her off. I promised my Peter, actually, because I knew if I told Meg Ann and didn’t make it she would be upset and if I told my mum and didn’t make it I would be confirming her suspicions that my job was sucking all of the life out of me.
Boot camp had immediately gone back to normal after the initial part of the case was over and we were all forced back. Teddy alone was kept on the case because he had been begging for them to take him off the bench. Since it was all stuff that didn’t contain (much) risk Harry agreed and Teddy was heading the investigation. He refused to tell me anything which really blew. I got them all of their leads; shouldn’t I be allowed to know what was happening? Clearly, the people ahead of me didn’t see it that way.
Our last day of boot camp had been a Wednesday which meant we were stuck with Murphy for hours.
“Shut up you lot and you’ll see that I’m actually giving you a good deal,” Murphy had said towards the end of the day. “We’re only going to use half the track and when you get back to the spot you started in you’re done. The group that gets done first can stop; the second group owes me a lap around the track. The last one around for the second group owes me a second-lap. Let’s go.”
“What are we doing?” I asked James quietly as we were unceremoniously dismissed without any real directions. Again.
“I forgot you haven’t done this,” he muttered, looking around quickly. “Okay, come stand with me, I’m starting. When the jersey gets to you just sprint to me.”
“What?” I said again but Murphy had already blown his whistle and James was sprinting, racing neck and neck with Ryan. He handed it off to Jack half way down the long stretch of the track and Jack took off, sprinting to Kyle. Kyle then ran all the way down the long stretch and handed me the jersey.
“Run!” he said as soon as I took it.
Still not knowing what I was doing I handed the jersey back to James who ran again. The cycle continued until I was down at the far end. We were a bit ahead of the other group but not by much. Kyle got to me a few seconds before the guy he was racing—Ish Vicki Dickie (I made a mental note to add his name to mine and Natasha’s ‘Weirdest Guy Names Ever’ list when I got back)—got to Abigail and I made sure not to look over, knowing that split second would do us in because, even after weeks of training, she was still in better shape than I was.
“We did it!” James exclaimed practically tackling me with a hug when I got back to him. Kyle immediately joined in and we formed a big, and slightly awkward, group hug.
Jack rolled his eyes at us but nodded his congratulations. I had learned quickly that he wasn’t a very touchy-feely person. Kyle and James seemed to have made it their mission to make up for it. And then some.
“What are you waiting for?” Murphy asked when the other team seemed to be moping around. “My permission?”
Grumbling, they all took off, none of them wanting to have to run it again. Ryan was the first back and Abigail was a little after him. The other two Aurors came in behind them, crossing the line at the same time. Murphy let them off their second owed lap in favor of bleachers. Just so we’re clear, I officially pick track over bleachers any time, any day.
“Stretch out,” he called when we were finished. “Meet me in the middle of the field.”
“If Murphy were to be murdered today do you think we would be put on the suspect list?” I muttered to Kyle as we made our way over. Kyle pondered my question for a minute.
“Probably,” he finally said. “But I’ll help you do it and then we can change our names and live in another country.”
“China seems like a safe bet, they don’t like people leaving.”
“China it is,” Kyle agreed. “I’ll just need a shrinking spell. Hey, you’d fit right in!”
I smacked him just as we each took a seat on the ground.
“Wouldn’t killing him be useless?” James asked, sitting down on the other side of Kyle. “We’re done with BC after today.”
“We’d be helping future generations,” I said when there had been a long enough pause to make it obvious that Kyle didn’t have an answer.
“Right,” Kyle agreed immediately. “Think of all the little kids we would spare from this torture chamber.”
“Besides,” I added. “We didn’t play Quidditch so our brains still recognize torture.”
“Quidditch is only torture if you’re scared of heights,” James said.
“Or bludgers,” Kyle defended me and I laughed, turning my attention to Murphy as we listened to his last speech for a few months. Forever if we were lucky. Scratch that, if anyone knew I thought that and he did die I would be a suspect. Or at least feel really guilty.
But we have been done for a few weeks now and he has yet to die so I figure I’m relatively safe.
“Hey Teddy,” I said, knocking on his cubicle before walking in.
“I’m not telling you anything,” he said immediately, stuffing the papers he was poring over into a drawer. I grinned but shook my head.
“I’m not asking about the case. I was wondering if I could take an early lunch.”
“Sibling off to Hogwarts?” he guessed and I nodded.
“Happens every year,” he said, shaking his head. “But go ahead. Half the department will be following you out. This is the first year I managed to avoid it.”
True to his word the platform was indeed filled with people I knew, including James and Harry who were a few family’s down from my own. Peter had even gotten out early for to see Meg Ann off for the first time since she started Hogwarts. Why Peter could miss five years straight (when I went to Hogwarts on my own) and I couldn’t miss one I didn’t understand but my mum’s logic has always been off.
“Hey boo,” I said, tugging on Meg Ann’s ponytail.
“You came!” Meg Ann exclaimed, throwing her arms around me. “I thought you had to work.”
“Early lunch break. It turns out I wasn’t the first to think of it,” I said, indicating the people around us who were clad in work robes as well.
“The Ministry is never as quiet as it is at 11 on September 1st,” Peter agreed. “Even the weekends have more people.”
“You’ll come see me in Hogsmeade, right?” Meg Ann asked, looking at me worriedly.
“Of course I will,” I assured her. The year before I would sneak into Hogwarts every month or so to see Scorpius and we would stop by her dorm to check on her at the same time. This year I couldn’t get in through the heads dorm (which is the easiest way into the castle if you know where it’s located) so I wouldn’t be able to see her as easily.
“Send me the dates and I’ll be there. Promise,” I told her.
“Okay,” she said, smiling in relief as the train’s whistle sounded and she was rushed onto the train by mum and Peter. She waved from the window and we all waved back until the train disappeared and I apparated to my mum’s store with her to grab a few slices of pizza before going back to the Ministry. That weekend was the best I had, had in a long time and I was enjoying my relaxation time until Natasha ruined Sunday, reminding me of our previous engagement I had forgotten about during the madness of training and Hogwarts getting ready to start.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” she started, biting her lip as she lay sprawled on the rug with her book now lying on her chest. “But should we make a date with Rose? I’m leaving in a few weeks and you don’t seem very busy right now. The longer we put it off the more drawn out this whole ordeal will be.”
“I’m free next weekend,” I suggested. “Maybe Saturday night? I can do Friday but I would prefer not to.”
It took a few drafts for us to be satisfied. Natasha had written the first one but I had tossed it out before she had even finished. It was a bit hostile starting with,
We have to do a weird friendship thing to satisfy Scorpius so come over Saturday and we will try to tolerate you. If you have plans cancel them and if you’re late—
I cut her off after that and tried my own version, sounding as friendly as possible.
Natasha and I were just talking about the girls night we’ve been trying to plan and were hoping you would come over for it. We were thinking Saturday but we can do whenever. If you want—
“That sounds so fake,” Natasha rolled her eyes. “And don’t make it sound like she’s doing us a favor. We’re doing her a favor.”
After many more trial letters we eventually compromised on,
Hey! We were wondering what you were doing next weekend because we’ve been wanting to get together and it seems like things have started to calm down a bit. We were thinking Friday or Saturday night but it’s flexible. Let us know what works.
Taylor & Natasha
It was still awkward and neither of us was really satisfied but we had spent an hour trying to get it right so by the time we actually completed the last one we were both fed up and decided to send it. How much crazier could she think we were?
Her response came back the next morning and by Wednesday we were set for Friday night, much to my dismay. She didn’t say why she couldn’t do Saturday but Natasha convinced me it would be rude to ask. Still, Friday was my night to lie around and do nothing, now it would have to be moved to Saturday which royally sucked since Saturday morning is supposed to be productive, Saturday night going out, and Sunday morning sleeping in late. It screwed up my weekend. But I let it go. Kind of.
“What is your cousin doing Saturday?” I demanded, crossing my arms as I stood in front of James.
“Which one?” he asked.
“The one I have to spend Friday night with because she apparently ‘can’t do’ Saturday,” I snapped.
“You’d have to ask her, I don’t keep track of her social calendar,” he said calmly. What did it take to get this guy to show emotion?
“I would ask her but Natasha thinks it’s rude,” I sulked, slumping down in my chair. “I don’t want to do Friday, I want to do Saturday. Friday is my night.”
“Then tell her you want to do Saturday,” he suggested with a shrug.
“I can’t, we already said she could choose. Why the hell did my mum have to teach me manors? I should have gone with Natasha’s version, at least then we could have told her it was Saturday or the highway,” I mumbled to myself.
“Natasha’s version?” James repeated. “You made multiple versions of a letter?”
“Well we couldn’t very well send the letter’s we wanted to write. Natasha made it sound like we were planning to kill her and mine were apparently too fake. Our final letter sucked anyways but our hands started to hurt after an hour of trying to write a decent one.”
“You spent an hour trying to figure out what to write?”
“Are you going to repeat everything I say?” I asked in annoyance.
“Sorry, it just seems a bit extreme,” he laughed.
“Well it had to sound normal, she already thinks we’re clinically insane,” I pointed out.
“If you want to change it to Saturday she would cancel her plans,” he said after a few beats of silence. “Believe it or not, this is really important to her. It’s better that you’re nice to her and change the day than you give her a hard time and keep it on the day she wants.”
“I’m sorry,” I sighed. “I will be nice to her, I promise. I just really like my Friday nights. I get to eat junk food and lie around doing nothing. It’s great after a long week at work and then I’m rested for everything I have to do Saturday.”
“She would be fine lying around,” he said. “It’d probably be more comfortable than taking her to a club.”
“We’re not taking her to a club,” I laughed. “We were just going to chill at the flat, maybe go get some ice-cream down the road or something. I figured we should do at least part of it with Muggles present so that nothing bad happens.”
“So you have already decided you don’t like her?” he asked, sounding disappointed.
“I haven’t decided anything,” I said, surprised by his comment. “Who said I didn’t like her?”
“No one,” he said, too quickly.
“Was it her?” I asked, unsure whether I should be offended or amused. Normally I’d go with the latter but in this case I knew it wasn’t the best way to start things off.
“She’s just nervous,” he said again. “Normally she’d go to Albus for things like this but like I said, they’ve been having a hard time. She’s not the type of person to have a lot of people she can talk to and between the fall-out with Albus and the Scorpius drama it’s been hard for her.”
“I don’t not like her,” I said. “But we have had a little too much fun with her. It’s just a weird situation for us too. We haven’t even considered being friends with one of Tyler or Scorpius’ girlfriends for four years and the last one ended badly. But I promise we’ll do our best, yeah?”
He nodded and we turned back to our work.
* * * * *
“I’m so glad you got these masks,” Natasha said, giggling as she fingered the furry head. “If we can’t make up stories at least we can still get under her skin.”
“You know, maybe we shouldn’t greet her with them,” I said uneasily. “James said she was really nervous about this whole thing and I don’t want to scare her away.”
“Oh is that what James said,” Natasha teased. I made a face but didn’t comment. “Look, don’t worry about it. She was in Gryffindor; she should be brave enough to handle this.”
“I think she’s being pretty brave just coming here,” I sighed. “I don’t think I would ever go to my boyfriend’s crazy friends houses. Especially if they tried to convince me that he had fake teeth and…I don’t remember what else we said.”
“Think of it as a test then,” Natasha suggested. “If she really likes Scorpius, she’ll stay.”
“And if she doesn’t stay Scorpius is going to be crushed and pissed at us,” I pointed out.
“Are you saying that we can’t use these?” Natasha asked in disappointment. “I know I complained it was killer for my hair but the benefits outweigh that little downside big time.”
“I’m not saying we can’t use them,” I said slowly. I had bought them for a reason after all. “I’m just saying that maybe we shouldn’t trick her into thinking we’re really taking her to the club and going to force her to make out with guys whose names are on our list. Maybe we should just…tone it down a bit.”
“Fine,” Natasha sighed dramatically and fell backwards onto the couch, watching as I stirred the pot that held our dinner for the night. “As long as we get to wear the masks I’ll go with it.”
“She’s here,” Natasha said unnecessarily when a knock sounded on the door. I turned the heat off on the stove and took the mask she handed to me. She flicked off the lights while I positioned my head. The flat was completely dark but I made out the fingers she was holding out from the light under the door. She counted to three and I opened the door, yanking Rose in before she had a chance to take anything in. Natasha forced the mask over her head, effectively squelching Rose’s scream of surprise.
Our intention had been to freak her out, hopefully make her think we were trying to murder her or something (the details weren’t completely thought out) but it was ruined when we both started laughing and Natasha, knowing our cover was blown, turned the lights back on. Rose pulled the mask off immediately and Natasha and I followed suit. All our hair was messy, half of it sticking straight up from the static. Never one to miss a chance for a crazy photo Natasha grabbed her camera and pulled me over towards Rose.
“Pose,” she said and I made a face, blowing a kiss at the camera while crossing my eyes.
“That’s one for Witch Weekley,” Natasha laughed, tossing the camera down on the chair. “Oh, I was kidding!” Natasha exclaimed, catching sight of Rose’s face. “I forgot you actually have to worry about that. It’s what I always say when we take ridiculous pictures.”
“She suggests Tyler doesn’t use protection so he can get his first kid over with too,” I told Rose. “But if he actually did it she would kill him.”
“True,” Natasha agreed and Rose smiled, genuinely for probably the first time since I met her.
“We should take a picture of ourselves with the masks on and send it to Scorpius,” Rose suggested, indicating the gorilla masks that were lying in a heap on the floor. “We could even dress slutty and make him think we actually went to the club. Have Firewhiskey in hand our something.”
“I like the way you think,” Natasha said, a grin slowly taking over her face. Suddenly she froze and I knew what was coming as she turned to look at me, horror clouding her eyes.
“Wait, no I don’t!” she yelled, her voice even louder than I was expecting. “UGH, TAYLOR!”
I raised my eyebrows skeptically and she huffed into our room, slamming the door on her way.
“Uh, did I—?” Rose started, looking a little confused.
“Don’t take it personally,” I cut her off. “She hates your family, not you. She’ll be over it in a few minutes.”
“Right,” Rose nodded, pushing herself away from the table and walking back towards me. “Can I do anything to help?”
She was less fazed than I was expecting but I found out quickly that she wasn’t a very talented cook so I stuck with having her chop vegetables for the salad after the water boiled over onto the stove.
“Tasha, dinner’s done,” I called out and Natasha opened the bedroom door, completely over what had happened earlier.
“If we’re not allowed to make things up, do you think we’re allowed to interrogate her?” I asked Natasha quietly when Rose excused herself to use the loo.
“I don’t see why not,” Natasha shrugged. “I mean, it’s not like we have anything to talk about besides Scorpius.”
“Yet,” I reminded her, doing my best to stay optimistic which was pretty foreign territory for me. I prefer being the buzz kill. “We don’t have anything else to talk about yet.”
“Fine, yet,” Natasha conceded, rolling her eyes.
“So Roe,” I said once she sat back down. “We have a proposition for you.”
“What’s that?” she asked pleasantly.
“We ask you a question we want to know about you and Scorpius—you know, stuff we either want your half of the story on or that Scorpius just won’t tell us—and you in turn can ask us any question about him you want to know and we’ll tell you the truth.”
“Fine,” Rose shrugged, not even taking a few minutes to consider it. “What do you want to know?”
“When did you realize you liked him?” Natasha started off. “Specifically, not the ‘seventh year’ crap.”
“Well it was seventh year…but we were out by the lake, studying for exams and he was just kind of goofing off, didn’t care that people were gawking at us or anything. It was like he was completely oblivious to the people watching and didn’t care that he was making a fool of himself. He didn’t try to show off or get embarrassed and he didn’t care that he looked like an idiot. When did he tell you guys about us?”
“That he liked you or that you were together?” I asked.
“Both, I guess,” Rose shrugged.
“Well he didn’t tell me he liked you, actually, I figured it out when I snuck in to see him one night…you did know about that right?”
“Yeah,” Rose laughed. “You guys weren’t exactly discreet.”
“Just double-checking,” I said, holding my hands up in surrender. “Anyways, Tyler was working, Natasha was off in some country, and I figured it out when he kept talking about you. He told me you were together the night after you went out on your first date. Or at least, he said you had just gone out. It was like…mid-Frebruary, I think?”
“I didn’t know anything until I got back,” Natasha said. “That was in May. You guys were already together but he said he didn’t want to tell me in a letter because he knew I’d get upset. Taylor was too chicken to tell me.”
“I wasn’t too chicken,” I protested. “I was looking out for your mental health. Merlin, always have to see things in a negative light. Anyways, who really kissed who the first time? Because he said he kissed you but I don’t really believe him. He’s never been one to make the first move.”
“Well I kissed him before we were…anything really. He kissed me first after we had gone out. Does he have a stuffed Scorpio?”
“Yes!” Natasha and I chorused.
“He keeps it in his closet,” Natasha informed her. “It’s on the top shelf but it’s really there. He took it to Hogwarts but kept in the bottom of his trunk because he didn’t want people to know.”
“It reminded him of home,” I laughed.
“Did you guys keep your relationship a secret or tell people from the start?” Natasha asked.
“We sort of kept it a secret,” Rose said slowly. “But not to the point where we were sneaking around Hogsmeade or anything. We just didn’t really tell anyone. If they asked I would tell them and if they saw us together then they saw us together. We just didn’t want to make a huge announcement about it because it would just draw more attention when that was the last thing we needed. How long have you known Scorp?”
“Technically since I was a baby,” Natasha said. “Our parents knew each other and they used to get us together when we were little but I didn’t become friends with him until third year when Taylor and Tyler became tight.”
“I knew him when I was little because we grew up in the same area but I moved when I was four and he moved the next year. I started talking and hanging out with him his first year but we really became friend the next year too. He and Tyler were close so one kind of came with the other,” I shrugged.
The questions continued and it switched from light-hearted to serious and back again a few times. She said that she had never been a part of the Scorpius teasing with her cousins but she had known it was happening. Her parents had thought she was joking when she first told them about Scorpius over Easter but Teddy had been all for it. She and Albus weren’t talking because she didn’t like his (now ex) girlfriend and the Scorpius ordeal had nothing to do with it. They had been caught making out by two professors: Professor Trelawney (Divination) and Professor Jones (Defense Against the Dark Arts).
She, in turn, had learned that Scorpius, despite going to parties with us, had never to our knowledge, gotten high; he really was way more sensitive than he let on and crossing his arms while he was sitting down was usually a good indication that something was wrong; Astoria was much friendlier than Draco who only talked when he had something to say; and Scorpius spent at least fifteen minutes on his hair in the morning but his muscles (the small arm muscles that you can only see if his shirt’s off) really are au-natural from helping his dad during the summer and holidays and not from the gym like Tyler’s ultra humongous biceps.
“Anyone up for ice-cream?” I asked hopefully once dinner had been finished for a while.
“How about Frozen Yogurt?” Natasha asked. “I’m going to the beach in a few weeks.”
“I like Frozen Yogurt,” Rose piped so I agreed. The Frozen Yogurt place was a bit more of a hike but it did taste better than Eileen’s Ice-cream.
“Have you guys ever played One, Two, Three?” Rose asked.
“I love that game!” I shrieked in an embarrassingly high voice. Thankfully it was late enough that most of the families who filled the tables were already at home and the place was deserted except for the guy manning the counter who was far more interested in his magazine than in flirting anyways.
“What’s One, Two, Three?” Natasha asked. She and her mum weren’t close and she grew up playing with her dad and brother. When she got to Hogwarts she was a girly-girl looking Tomboy and I was the opposite. In the eight years I had known her I still hadn’t managed to teach her all the games my mum and I play.
“Okay so guys are going to pass by us and you have to pick who you’re going to marry. You get three chances so you can take the first guy who walks by or if you don’t want him then you can wait for the second guy but if you don’t pick the second guy you’re stuck with the third,” Rose explained. “Once you say no to a guy, you can’t go back to him unless he walks by again during one of your turns and after you pick a guy, or get stuck with Guy Number Three, the next person goes and gets three guys of their own.”
“Got it,” Natasha nodded. “One of you start and I’ll figure it out.”
“I’ll go first,” I offered and we all stared out the window.
“Guy number one is crossing the street now,” Rose said and we all watched as an old guy hobbled across the cross-walk and started down the street passed the window we were staring out of.
“Aw, he’s cute,” I said and Natasha gave me a disgusted look. “Oh, I’m not picking him!” I laughed. “He’s old guy cute, not marriage worthy cute. Besides, I’m not that much of a gold digger.”
“Poor guy doesn’t seem like he has a lot of gold,” Rose said.
“Second guy walking our way,” Natasha said and we all laughed as a little boy and his mother hurried by.
“Yeah pass.” I cringed and crossed my fingers as a group of people drew nearer, hoping for a good number three. “Yes, yes, yes!”
Natasha and Rose both laughed as I pointed my finger at the guy in the middle of the pack. He looked to be in his late twenties but he was hot. Unfortunately, he saw me pointing and gave us a worried look, causing all three of us to start laughing.
Natasha went next. The first one she passed on because he was bald and she can’t stand bald guys. The second guy she took and then got annoyed because the third guy, who wound up being Rose’s first guy, was insanely hot. My second round was significantly worse and my number three (I so should have gone with Guy Number One) was a bit…strange and wound up walking into the Frozen Yogurt place.
“Go talk to your future husband Taybear,” Natasha teased as he ordered and got his cone. Just for fun, I winked when he turned around and he tripped over his own feet, the ice-cream covering his too-big red sweater.
He wasn’t terrible looking, the green eyes were a nice asset to have, but he was in serious need of a makeover far surpassing my ability. His shaving was patchy leaving him with blotches of hair at around his face that he must have missed whilst pre-occupied by the Christmas sweater he decided to wear in September that had reindeer on it. Of course, the plaid shorts didn’t help his cause much and the skinny legs…okay, he was just sooo not my type.
After I winked he nearly ran out of the store.
“I bet he’s going to call his mummy to tell him that a girl winked at him,” Rose giggled.
“Guys, don’t be mean,” Natasha chided. “He’s probably terrified that he got her pregnant from making eye-contact.”
We all laughed again and got caught up in the game once more, sometimes getting lucky and sometimes getting very, very unlucky.
“I accept, I accept!” Natasha screamed as the guy she had missed when she settled for a skater walked by again, this time carrying a bag from the local bookstore. “Wait, he reads books?” she asked, wrinkling her nose. But then he saw us and smiled and Natasha shrugged.
“Oh well,” she decided. “He’s cute; I can look past the fact that he’s smart. Sorry Rose, guess we’re sharing.”
“As long as I get him first I won’t complain,” Rose said. “I want to end up with the blonde in the end.”
“The one with the girlfriend?” Natasha asked.
“Yeah, I figure I’ll give him time to dump and get over her while I’m with Bookie.”
“Fair enough,” Natasha conceded and we left our pounds on the table before walking with Rose to an alley where she could apparate back to her parents’ house.
A/N: I would really love some reviews so that I know what you're thinking so far. I have a lot of readers and a lot less reviewers but I'm going to keep posting unless I get a flamer because I love writing this story.
I have been a chapter or two ahead with this story but I decided that I want to take it in a different direction so it's going to take a little while for the next chapter to be posted since I haven't started on it yet and I have two major research papers due in the next two weeks but it will be up as soon as I get the chance to write it.
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