Chapter 9 : Denial
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I stared at Albus. "You can't be X. It's not possible. You just can't be."
He sighed. "I am afraid, my dear, that I am in fact X. I regret having blackmailed you."
He definitely sounded like X. "I still don't believe you."
There was no way he was X.
"What can I do to prove it to you?"
I thought for a bit. What would only the real X know how to do?
"Do the thing where you shrink the mask."
Albus took out his wands and murmured a few words. The bottom half of the mask curled away in the form of silver smoke.
"No. You must have found that somewhere else. In a book or something. You cannot be X. No. No. I don't believe you."
Albus sighed. "It's ten minutes until class starts. You better go. I'll see you around."
I turned and bolted out the door.
Divination. Everyone had scorned me for continuing this for so long, but I had a pretty good reason. In third-year when I'd first tried it, we'd been using tarot cards. Professor Patil had told us to focus on our futures then handed us each a card. I had turned mine over and seen a skeleton wearing a black cloak. Professor Patil had looked at mine and frowned.
"My dear, that is Death. It's meaning sort of speaks for itself. You will encounter death in your future, perhaps your own, perhaps a loved one, perhaps even a total stranger."
Ever since then, I've tried to see what was going to happen in the future. Thus, continuing Divination.
Also, I'd found I was pretty good at it.
Today, we were using crystal balls. Professor Patil was sitting at the front of the classroom, looking into her own ball, which was sitting on a golden frame. Ours were a lot less fancy, but they were doing the trick. Professor Patil had told us to concentrate on something very dear to us, so I'd chosen my dad.
What? I'm still Daddy's little girl. Just not very little anymore.
The crystal ball was staying stubbornly clouded. I tried to focus my mind, but I couldn't stop thinking about Albus, and how he claimed he was X. I sighed and tried to concentrate on my dad.
The fog started to clear. Then, of course, my mind suddenly flashed back to Albus.
The fog cleared completely and showed...fuck. It was Albus, in his dormitory, holding the mask. He turned it into smoke, and back into the mask.
He could have learnt that anywhere.
Of course, then he had to put it on.
Holy fuck, Albus was X. There was no doubt. The moment he put on the mask, his posture changed and he became X.
I had snogged Albus. And enjoyed it too.
Why was this happening to me?
Albus sighed and paced around the room, saying something to himself. Of course, you couldn't fucking hear him. Fucking crystal balls.
The bell rang. A whole class had passed while I tried to concentrate on my dad and ended up spying on Albus. Just fucking perfect. I grabbed my books, jotted down the homework Professor Patil had just set, levitated the crystal ball back over to the professor and walked out, mind spinning like a carnival ride.
Scorpius and I were snogging again. In a broom closet.
I hate to be a clique, but we were. They were such a good place to snog, really. It meant you had to press up against each other, and that was quite nice.
I broke off, out of breath. "Woah..."
Scorpius chuckled breathlessly. "Yeah..."
I smoothed down my hair. "We better get back to the common room. It's almost curfew."
I stepped out of the broom closet and started to walk down to the common room. Scorpius smoothed down his shirt and looked at me weirdly.
"Taylor, are you alright with us just being snog buddies?"
"Yeah, I am, why?"
Scorpius looked at a portrait of a few bickering women holding small children. "Oh, no reason. We better hurry up."
He sped ahead, almost running, leaving me in the corridor wondering what the fuck that had been about.
I was sitting in the common room doing an essay when Goyle chose to sit down next to me.
"What do you want?"
"What, can't I sit down next to someone without having an ulterior motive?" I rolled my eyes at him.
" Considering we hate each other, yes."
Goyle frowned. "I don't hate you. What would give you that idea?"
"Oh, maybe the fact you gave me purple hair. That would be it."
He sighed. "Taylor, I don't hate you. That was a mistake. I was actually trying to give you straight hair. I heard you complaining about how you wished you had straight hair, so I decided to give you straight hair. It didn't work, and I'm sorry, and can we be friends now?"
I stared at him. "You were...trying to straighten my hair?"
"Yeah, I was. Why, is that a bad thing?"
I leant over and hugged Goyle. "No! When I was younger, I hated my wavy hair. It would get so frizzy whenever it rained. That is so sweet!"
Goyle - no, he was Duncan now - chuckled, his chest vibrating. "No problem. Wish it'd worked though. So, can I call you Taylor now?"
I smiled wider than a crocodile. "Of course!"
Mmm, dinner. My most favourite time of the day, and for some reason, it was even better than usual today. The chicken was moister, the people were more smiley and I just felt great.
Maybe someone had put a Cheering Charm on me without my knowledge. Or maybe someone had freshened up the Great Hall.
Duncan handed me the bread basket. He seemed to have an inner glow around him. Everyone did. It was a little weird, but I liked it. Like the buzz you got off a shot of Firewhiskey, without the dizziness and the hangover.
I took a piece of bread and bit into it. Mmm, nice and fluffy. Even the bread was better.
What had happened to make me so happy all of the sudden?
Not Divination. Definitely not Albus being X. Wait a second...was it the fact I didn't hate Duncan anymore?
Holy shit. That was it. The entire time I'd hated Duncan, I'd been weighed down by anger and hatred and all those bad emotions that no one likes. Now I'd forgiven him, all the unhappiness was gone and I felt a lot better.
Who would have known that hatred could make the world that much worse to be in?
Jason and Sarah were snogging, and for once I wasn't disgusted by their PDA's. How peculiar.
Scorpius looked amazing, as per usual. Wait a second, was he saying something?
"Okay everyone, Quidditch team meeting tonight in the Room at eight. We need to talk about the new Chaser. Thanks."
Great. A team meeting. Bloody perfect. Oh well, the glow was still there.
I liked that glow. Hopefully it would stay.
I was at the Room by ten to eight. Scorpius was already setting up boards, with labels and everything. Jason and Duncan, the remaining Chasers were already here, but my fellow Beater, Jasmine Bulstrode, wasn't and either was the Keeper, Lucas Quinn.
Scorpius finished off his sketch of the pitch and turned around. "Good, you're here. Where in Merlin's name is Jasmine and Quinn?"
At that moment Lucas burst through the door, panting.
"Sorry, Captain. Peeves was chasing me again. I think someone pays him to do it. Bloody poltergeists."
There were murmurs of agreement. Nobody liked poltergeists. Except Falkner, but he was a bit wacky. Kept claiming there were swarms of Nargles flying around in the classrooms. What Nargles were, nobody knew.
"Hurry up and sit down, we've got the tryouts to talk about. Go on, sit!"
Lucas slumped into a chair and grabbed a small cake which I'd taken from the kitchens earlier. As he went to take a bite, Jasmine ran in.
"Sorry I'm late, guys. Got held up by Albus bloody Potter. Fucking Prefects."
She threw herself into a chair and snagged a biscuit. Scorpius raised a brow and turned back to his sketch.
"Okay, so this year we have a problem. Our Chaser has deserted us for reserves in the Magpies, the fucking wanker, so we have tryouts tomorrow. I thought we'd have a meeting tonight to go over ways to separate the wannabees from anyone with talent. I'll be flying around here, watching, because the Seeker doesn't really need to do anything for this." Scorpius waved his wand and the figure began to move. The little one labelled Scorpius flew around the top of the pitch. "Jason, Duncan, you'll be throwing and catching with groups of three. Whoever I see who can actually throw and catch moves onto stage two." The little Duncan and Jason figures began throwing Quaffles to figures with no labels.
"Stage two is where it gets tricky. You'll still be throwing and catching, but you'll be flying up and down the pitch, and Taylor and Jasmine will be sending Bludgers your way. Anyone who manages not to get hit and still catch and throw goes onto stage three, which is the same, except they now have to shoot a goal. Quinn, you'll be guarding the hoops. Everybody clear on that?"
We all nodded. Scorpius rolled up the sketch. "Okay, that's all I needed. You can go now."
Duncan, Jason and Lucas ran out, trying to jump onto each other's back. Jasmine walked out a lot more elegantly, leaving me with Scorpius. He walked over to me and took my hand.
"Taylor, are you okay? You're acting a little weird today."
I coughed awkwardly. "No, of course not. Why would you think that?"
"Well, that basically solidified my theory. Has it got something to do with me?"
I looked up quickly. "No, of course not! It's nothing to do with you. Just...I don't want to talk about it, okay?"
Scorpius pecked me on the lips. "Okay." He left me alone in the Room.
I grabbed a piece of jelly slice and left as quickly as possible.
Divination homework. Ah, the joys of writing an essay on the effects of planets on day to day life. I sketched in the planet Mars and started to write what it did, which was causing accidents, burns and the like. Why couldn't I just keep looking in crystal balls?
It was so much easier. When was I ever going to look at the sky and say, 'Oh dear, Mars is in the sky. I must take care when ironing my pants today'?
Not in the foreseeable future.
The couch squeaked and sank under the weight of someone sitting next to me. I looked up and saw Duncan. "Oh hey. What are you doing?"
"Divination homework. Hurrah." I did a little fist pump to prove my excitement.
Duncan glanced over. "Oh, that's easy. Want some help?"
I slid over a bit and let Duncan see my essay. "How can you, of all people, help me with Divination?"
Duncan shrugged. "I spent some time with Firenze last year, and he really helped me understand all that planet stuff. Now, you've got Mars wrong. It's actually a bringer of war and conflict."
I screwed up the piece of parchment and got out a new one before quickly writing down everything Duncan was saying.
I glanced at the time once Duncan - I mean we - had finished the essay. "Holy shit, it's quarter to eleven!"
Duncan shot up. "Shit! Um, see you tomorrow!" He dashed into the boy's dormitory while I grabbed my ink, quill and completed essay. The ink spilled onto the carpet. "Oh shit oh shit oh shit! Scourgify!"
The ink seeped out of the carpet and back into the bottle. I ran up into the dorm room and threw them onto the little desk that had been put in a few years back. I scrambled into my pyjamas and was about to throw myself onto my bed when I heard a cough. I looked over and saw Evelyn sitting on her bed, legs crossed. That never meant well. The last time someone had waited for me sitting like that, my Quidditch captain had banned me from the Gryffindor game for hexing the Fat Lady and making her wear a bright yellow ugly dress.
It was hilarious, trust me. The Gryffindors who had to sleep in the Great Hall until the Fat Lady returned to her portrait found it less funny.
Evelyn stood and started to smooth her doona and sheets. "So, Taylor, where have you been?"
I held up the essay. "Divination homework. Had to do an essay on the effects of planets on day to day life."
She turned to me and raised a sceptical brow. "You know, you and Scorpius keep disappearing. That's just a tad suspicious. What are you two up to?"
"Nothing. We've been doing nothing together." Damn, Taylor, your acting skills are beyond amazing.
"I still don't believe you. But I'm going to choose not to pursue that now, because I need my sleep, so I can find out exactly what it is you two are hiding. Goodnight, Taylor."
She threw back her doona and slid under the bedcovers, leaving me standing in the darkened room suddenly extremely worried.
In the morning, I was still processing the whole X bombshell. How the fuck did Albus get that mask and that spell?
And why the fuck would he want to snog me?
Evelyn was eyeing off James again, Scorpius was nibbling on a muffin, Jason and Sarah were hugging and feeding each other food - ugh, PDA - and I was looking for Albus.
Whilst eating eggs. That's right, I'm just that talented.
Scorpius tapped me on the shoulder. "Don't forget, tryouts tonight." I smiled.
"Why would I forget?"
"You just seem...a little distracted lately. Is everything alright?"
I looked down at my goblet of pumpkin juice. "Yeah, everything's good. It's all good."
He frowned slightly but turned away again, picking at a piece of toast.
My whole life had turned from great to awful in a day.
Albus managed to catch up to me as I rushed out of my last class.
I tried to speed up, but the bastard cast a charm of some sort that made me slow down. Fucking brainiacs.
"Taylor, I need to talk to you."
He turned me around and looked straight into my eyes. "Taylor...I really like you. That was why I did what I did. It was wrong, and I'm so sorry, and I wish I could just go back in time and fix it..."
"No, Albus. You can't. It's unforgivable. You coerced me, threatened me, and scared me half to death. I don't want your apologies" - I spat the word as if it was poisonous on my tongue - "and I certainly don't need you. Now please, just - "
The bastard lowered his face to mine and snogged me. In the corridor. In full view of anyone who could have been watching, which luckily, no one was.
I slammed my palm into his neck and kneed him in the groin. Albus stumbled away, eyes filling with tears and hurt.
"You stay away from me, you bastard! I never want to see your stupid, coal-haired, I'm-so-much-better-than-everyone-else face again! Stay away from me!" I ran away, leaving him standing in the corridor.
I sincerely hoped I'd never have to talk to the bastard again in my entire life.
Wow, so much happened...I'm still slightly in shock. Who loves the Quidditch team? I do! Tell me what you thought of Evelyn's slight flirting with James, Starlor tension (thanks to SunnyWitch for the ship name - read the review if it doesn't make sense to you) and just everyone in general in the nifty little contraption rightfully named the 'reviewing box...thingy'.
Up next, Chaser tryouts, more tension, and a story is told...
Cheers, Phoenix Quill :D
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