As November set in, a presence took over the castle – Quidditch fever. Slytherin versus Gryffindor, the very first match of the year. D.A. meetings were put on hold so the Gryffindor team could practice daily. The only time I could have a decent conversation with Fred was during lunch. Any other time I saw him he was going to practice or I was heading to class. And while Fred normally woke up early every other morning to spend time with me, I put a hold on that when he started drifting off every few minutes. Quidditch was important to him so I didn’t mind spending a few more mornings alone so Fred could get enough sleep.
The morning of the match, Fred ate breakfast with the rest of his team as I sat a dozen seats away, facing the wall. There wasn’t anybody near me and I didn’t expect anyone to sit that close either. I especially didn’t expect Theodore Nott to sit directly beside me with barely any space between us.
“What are you doing?” I asked rudely, doing a double take after he sat down.
“Eating breakfast,” he replied, biting into an apple. His back was leaning against the table as he watched the rest of the Great Hall. Of course that insufferable little smirk was on his face.
“Let me rephrase that. What the hell are you doing over here? The obnoxious gits table is on the other side of the Hall, feel free to rejoin it.” I was attempting to keep my voice down because by now several others near us had noticed Nott, Fred included. I gave Fred a discreet shake of my head when his eyes narrowed at me and Nott. George whispered something to Fred, hopefully making sure Fred didn’t do something rash.
“I thought we might enjoy breakfast together,” Nott answered, “for old time’s sake.”
“I’m more likely to poison you than enjoy breakfast with you.”
“Why do you think I brought my own,” he responded, lifting his apple to take another bite.
“Leave before I do something I promise you I won’t regret,” I told him threateningly.
Nott let out a humorless laugh. “Always the same, aren’t you? Here I thought you would appreciate my gesture.”
“I would appreciate you buggering off so I didn’t have to feel the bile start to rise in my throat from prolonged exposure to you.”
“You know, out of all the mindless filth, obnoxious windbags, and arrogant toerags in this school, it’s remarkable that today of all days, you and I should be feeling nearly the same way,” Nott said, ignoring my previous statement.
“Really?” I asked sarcastically. “I didn’t know you were seriously debating whether to jab this fork into your thigh too. Of course I’d love to be the one to do it, but if you wanted to go ahead and do it yourself to save me the trouble of getting detention, I certainly wouldn’t stop you.”
Nott’s smirk got even larger as he turned his head to look at me. Then his eyes drifted over to Fred. I spared a quick glance and saw George talking rapidly to Fred. Fred didn’t appear to be listening though, his eyes were fixed on me and Nott.
“He doesn’t look happy, does he?” Nott said, amused.
I sent him a glare he ignored. Instead he gave Fred a mock salute. Fred pushed himself half way up off the bench before George forced him back down. Nott let out another little laugh at this before turning his attention back to the rest of the Hall.
“Go away,” I ordered.
“I wonder if he knows,” Nott said thoughtfully, ignoring me yet again.
“Knows what?” I asked before I could stop myself. It was a mistake, it would only encourage him to stay longer.
“How utterly torn you are today.”
“And how am I torn?” I was now shamefully curious about what the heck this was all about.
“Quidditch of course. You want Gryffindor to win, I mean why wouldn’t you? You’re in Gryffindor, your blood-traitor boyfriend’s in Gryffindor, he’s even on the team. And you’ve made such good friends with the rest of the scum on their team.” I felt a burning rage slowly start spreading through me. “But I know you,” Nott continued. “I know in the back of your mind you can’t help but hope maybe somebody else is holding up that Snitch at the end of the game.” Nott flashed a smirk across the Great Hall and it took all of my will power not to turn around. I was willing to bet everything I owned it had been directed at Draco.
“If you don’t leave within thirty seconds, the only thing you’re going to be seeing today is the infirmary,” I threatened.
“I get it,” Nott said in a faux soothing voice. “I know how you feel, I really do. I want Slytherin to win more than anything, and not just for house pride. There’s something satisfying about watching this red and gold cesspool of mudbloods, blood-traitors, and ignorant twits loose. It’s one of the best feelings imaginable. But I know in the back of my head exactly what will happen tonight. Those idiots, who I’m honestly ashamed to call my house mates, will spend hours praising and worshipping Draco Malfoy. It’s enough to make anybody’s stomach churn.”
I put down my utensils, forcing myself to keep it together. Nothing good would come from me rising to Nott’s taunts. As much as I wanted him to shut up and bugger off, it didn’t look like that was about to happen any time soon because he just kept on going. “I mean really, where’s his dignity, his self respect? He had to have his father buy him a position on the Quidditch team. And he’s yet to beat Potter, even when he had the better broom. Potter, who might I remind you, had as much practice on a broom as your average mudblood before coming to Hogwarts. It’s absolutely disgraceful.”
My fists were clenched at my sides and my blood was pounding. I wouldn’t react though. I wasn’t going to give in. I wasn’t going to let Nott win. He didn’t appear pleased with my self control and kept at me.
“I almost feel sorry for your uncle. He’s not perfect but he definitely didn’t do anything to deserve such a weak, pathetic, sorry excuse for a son. His ancestors must be rolling in their graves to see the filth that will carry on the family name. Between you and me, I think the most noble thing little Draco could do is put a halt to his despicable and miserable life and just…well, snuff himself –”
I lost it. I reached out for the fork laid near the edge of the table and was about four inches from stabbing it as hard as I could into Nott’s leg when his hand caught my wrist in a much stronger grip than I ever would have expected. There was a triumphant glint in his eye that made me want to rip his head off.
“Try and restrain yourself,” he whispered into my ear, leaning in very close to me. “I would hate for you to get expelled from a fourth school. Especially when things are getting so fun.” He released my wrist and pushed himself off the bench before taking off between the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor tables.
I threw my fork onto the table, furious, not just at Nott but at myself. I should have controlled myself better. I knew what Nott wanted and I still couldn’t stop myself. Typical Slytherin coward, provoking me in the Great Hall where I couldn’t lash out like I’d wanted to. Like I still wanted to.
You have the potion.
I know, dammit.
Bloody hell, now I was talking to myself again.
I looked up beside me and Fred was standing there. “Nothing,” I answered automatically. Fred scowled at me so I amended my response. “He was being Nott. It’s nothing more than I expected.”
“I would have come over, but –” Fred cast a dark glare down to George, “I was stopped.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.” Now Fred turned his glare towards me. “He wanted one of us to react,” I told Fred, standing up to face him. “And you can bet Umbridge would have…I don’t know, declared you unfit or given you detention or something else so you’d miss the game.”
“So I’m supposed to shove off and let him insult you?” Fred asked indignantly.
“No you’re supposed to trust that I can handle him myself,” I snapped.
“Yeah, it looked like you were really handling yourself well,” Fred said sarcastically.
My first instinct was a cutting retort but I was able to stop myself. Just because I was upset didn’t mean I had to take it out on Fred. He hadn’t done anything wrong, he only wanted to defend me. Now I’d gone and made him upset too. I refused to let Nott cause a fight between me and Fred and I also wasn’t going to be responsible for Fred being distracted throughout the first Quidditch game of the season.
“Fred,” I said, forcing myself to sound calmer than I felt. “I know you want to help, I’m not against that, but I know how Nott works. He would have loved nothing more than to mess up your focus before the game. He purposely came over here while Umbridge was around so he wouldn’t get in trouble.”
“And I’m supposed to do nothing?” he asked in disbelief.
“Tomorrow and any day after, you can slip him as many Nosebleed Nougats or Puking Pastilles as you can get away with. Today, just worry about Quidditch. Don’t let some Slytherin git like Nott affect your focus.”
“I don’t like that he can get away with whatever he wants.”
“Well neither do I, but there’s nothing we can do about that –”
“I know what I’d like to do about it,” Fred said darkly.
“Oi, go do something about beating Slytherin today.”
“You don’t even like Quidditch,” Fred replied, rolling his eyes.
“I like watching you win. You flying fifty feet in the air with crazy Bludgers trying to knock you unconscious is the part I’m not fond of,” I said lightly.
“Mate, we need to go,” George said, joining us.
Fred nodded and turned back to me, frowning. “Are you ok?” he asked softly.
“Yes,” I lied. “I got annoyed, it happens sometimes.’
“You’re…er…are other things ok?” he asked awkwardly.
“I’m fine.” Or at least I will be after Snape’s potion. “Go win the match.”
“Are you sure?” he questioned, still looking worried.
“Yes. You know they aren’t going to put the game on hold for you,” I teased.
“She’s got a point,” George added.
“Yeah, give me a minute, ok?” Fred told him roughly. George shrugged and stalked off in the direction of the doors. Realizing Fred was still moody, I took a risk and reached up to give him a quick kiss. It was the first kiss I’d initiated since June and he was surprised by it. “What was that for?”
“Motivation? Go win and maybe there will be a few more for you tonight.” Out of the corner of my eye I saw a blonde figure storming away from the Slytherin table, but I kept my attention on Fred.
“You’re bribing me with kisses?”
“Is it working?”
“I’m not sure. Why don’t you give me another one to check?” I rolled my eyes but did give him another peck. “Huh,” he said thoughtfully. “Once more for luck?”
“Quit pushing your luck.”
“OI, WEASLEY!” shouted Angelina Johnson, the Gryffindor Quidditch captain, marching up to us. “Save the snog sessions for after the game!” With that she dragged Fred away. He was wearing a goofy grin as he waved goodbye to me.
A/N: I got some feedback! Thank you, nice to know that there’s still people reading, lol. The approval time is really low at the moment, so I will try very hard to submit quite a few chapters over the next few days.
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