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Welcome to Blunderland by peppersweet
Chapter 17 : { 16 }
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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I hadn’t exactly expected Albus to actually disappear, so it took me a while to process the fact that he was no longer standing in front of me, and it was only when he took the cloak off and appeared again that I actually reacted.


‘Woah!’


‘I know!’ he burst out, wildly happy, like he’d been waiting to show it to me for months. ‘It’s awesome!’


He swept the cloak about himself again and blinked from view.


‘How cool is this!’ came his disembodied voice.


‘Mega!’ I said, all my crying pretty much instantly forgotten.


‘Invisibility cloak!’ he said. ‘It used to belong to dad, he made such an effort to keep it quiet in the history books, James really wanted it but he got the map instead so dad let me have this for christmas last year-’


‘Your dad just had an invisibility cloak?’


Albus dropped the cloak to his shoulders and his severed head floated in midair. ‘My dad did defeat the dark lord to end all dark lords. He didn’t just do it with a wand.’


‘What’s the map?’


He ignored me, extending his hand instead. ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘This is how you disappear!’


Shivering a little with excitement, tears totally forgotten, I took his hand and let him pull me towards him; with his free hand, he draped the cloak about my shoulders and then over my head.


‘So nobody can see us?’ I said.


‘It is an invisibility cloak…’


‘Can they still hear us, though?’


‘Yeah,’ he frowned. ‘Unfortunately. Not that many people will be around at this time.’


We stood there, invisible. The cloak barely registered to the touch. Only a fine, shimmering sort of gauze behind Albus’ head reminded me it was still there.


‘So. Do you do this a lot?’ I said.


‘What?’


‘Disappear. Do you do it a lot?’


He exhaled. ‘Yeah. Well, yeah. I mean – okay, I’ll let you in on a secret. When everyone expects you to be this…perfect, good guy, it helps to be able to disappear now and again.’


‘That sounds…ominous.’


‘Oh,’ he furrowed his brow. ‘Oh, no, I don’t mean it like – I don’t mean like I go and commit crimes and stuff, I just mean – it’s nice to be by yourself and be yourself now and again, right?’


I opened my mouth to tell him that, sure, that’d be nice – I mean, look at where almost seventeen years of being myself had got me – but the sound of distant footsteps came echoing round the corner.


Albus rolled his eyes. ‘Don’t worry,’ he murmured. ‘Only a moment.’


So I stood there in silence but, of course, I couldn’t not worry when the owner of the footsteps came round the corner, dragging his feet, because of course it just had to be Scorpius, who spent most of his evenings in the library these days and only got back before curfew by the skin of his teeth.


I opened my mouth to say something again, but Albus shoved a finger against my lips.


No, he mouthed.


I guess I had some sort of faulty circuit in my brain, because, no matter what he did, the sight of Scorpius always made me get this sort of weirdly powerful feeling – not in that way; more like I wanted to check he was okay, wanted to be nice to him and pat him on the shoulder and tell him to chin up because things would be peachy in the end. Maybe it was a kindness complex. Or a guilt complex. But I couldn’t just let him walk past, with his face all cut and bruised still, looking like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. I mean, no matter what, I still cared. I’m stupid like that, it’s probably why they made me a Hufflepuff.


I brushed away Albus’ hand. ‘It’s fine,’ I said, and then shrugged off the cloak.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone freeze the way Scorpius did. I’d appeared out of nowhere, right in the middle of his path – his eyes went wide, his mouth dropped open a bit, and he did the best impersonation of a deer in the headlights I’ve seen this side of a motorway.


‘Where did you come from?’ he asked, quite casually.


‘Oh, you know,’ I said, trying to replicate the air of forced calm he’d adopted. ‘Coventry.’


‘Ah. Right,’ he said.


I guess Albus must have followed suit behind me, because there was a sigh, a rustle of fabric, and then Scorpius pitched sideways and fetched up against the wall, eyes wide as saucers.


‘Buh-’ he spluttered. ‘The hell did you two come from?’


‘Coventry,’ I repeated, just as Albus said ‘well, Wales, technically, but if you’re being specific it’s a little closer to Reading.’


‘Whatever,’ Scorpius said weakly.


I turned briefly back to Albus. ‘Reading? Is that where we’re going for Easter?’


‘Yeah,’ he said.


‘This can’t be real,’ Scorpius moaned. ‘I’ve been in the library for five hours. Can you get book sickness?’


‘I think if book sickness existed you’d have caught it a while ago, Scor.’


‘I’ve got an invisibility cloak,’ Albus sounded impatient. ‘It’s no big deal.’


‘What?’ Scorpius hoisted himself upright again. ‘I’d say that’s a bloody big deal, mate.’


‘Yes, well, Flora’s here, so I won’t make it a big deal.’


Neither of them spoke for a bit. It gave me a chance to notice that Scorpius was actually a good deal taller than Albus, probably by a couple of inches. But Albus seemed taller because he didn’t look like he was dragging a bunch of rocks about in his rucksack every day.


‘Inherited it from my dad,’ Albus said.


‘That was nice of him,’ Scorpius said.


I sort of wished suppressed rage was an energy source, because there was enough going around that corridor to power a small town for a couple of months.


Albus nodded to Scorpius. ‘Those cuts healing?’


Scorpius shrugged. ‘Yeah, I guess.’


‘They took a photo of him last time, Al,’ I chipped in. ‘Beat him up and took a photo, how weird is that?’


‘I guess. What do you want me to do about it?’


‘You are a prefect,’ I whined.


‘Get your dad to complain,’ Albus said. ‘They’ll listen to that.’


Scorpius had evidently swallowed back some snippy retort, because it took him a while to come up with something to say. ‘Dad’s stopped writing to me. I dunno where he is.’


‘Isn’t he Ministry?’ Albus said. ‘I could get my dad to check.’


‘Nah, don’t bother,’ Scorpius shook his head. ‘Probably just mad at me.’


There was a prolonged silence.


‘When was the last time he wrote to you?’ I asked.


‘Um…three weeks ago.’


‘Doesn’t he usually write every week?’


‘Twice, actually.’


‘Wow, that’s awful,’ I said. Albus narrowed his eyes.


‘Has he ever done this before?’


‘Not really,’ Scorpius said. ‘Ever since mum…’


The sentence trailed off into silence.


‘Should we maybe head back soon?’ I said. ‘It’s almost curfew.’


‘I’ll get my dad to check how things are at work,’ Albus said to Scorpius. ‘I’ll let you know.’


‘Thanks,’ Scorpius said, face all scrunched up like the word caused him physical pain.


I’d planned to go back to the Gryffindor common room with Albus that night, but after everything that’d happened I decided I wasn’t really feeling it. Albus walked me and Scorpius to the Entrance Hall, where we parted ways; he went upstairs to Gryffindor tower, and we went back to Hufflepuff.


‘Uh…you’ll let me know if Albus says anything about my dad, right?’ Scorpius said.


‘I think he’ll probably tell you in person, to be honest.’


‘Oh. Well, you know, just in case.’


‘Seriously, he’s a good guy. On your side,’ I lied. ‘He’ll find something.’


‘I don’t…cool. Last thing I want is to spend Easter here.’


‘Last thing I want too.’


The common room was pretty empty. I didn’t really see anyone I knew that I could go and sit with and, if I did, I’d stopped being sociable in the last few months and I’d pissed them all off too much to be able to sit with them anyway. So I decided I’d go straight up to bed, and Scorpius said that he was tired too and needed an early night more than anything, so we walked to the dormitory doors together.


I was about to say goodnight when a thought struck me. ‘Scorpius, is it weird? Albus keeps taking me to all these places he goes to be alone, now he apparently has this invisibility cloak so he can disappear and stuff. Is he up to something? Oh my god, what if he’s a criminal?’


Scorpius gave me a withering look. ‘I’m glad you’re my friend,’ he said, wished me goodnight, and then went up to the boys’ dorms.


*



It was pretty difficult to concentrate on my work that last week of school, what with my head being all over the place. One minute I’d be worrying about whether Scorpius was being lynched near the Quidditch pitch by Slytherins, and the next I’d be wondering how much time Albus really did spend on his own and to what extent he’d trusted me with that. Then I’d start worrying about how I’d fallen out of touch with Fauna, and then I’d start worrying about schoolwork and apparition lessons, because people were starting to take their tests and I hadn’t even managed to splinch yet.


Mostly I worried about Scorpius and Albus though. As much as I cared, it kind of got to me, in a way, that I was spending so much time thinking of them, letting the two of them run my life. And I even sometimes worried if they thought about me as much. I wondered if Scorpius would intervene if I was getting beaten up by Slytherins, or Albus would be as accepting if I took him to a deserted corner of the school and said ‘this is where I come to be a loser when I’m not too busy publicly being a loser’.


Then the big, overarching worry was the whole issue with the economy and the ‘mudblood’ thing; an issue that was big and real and scary and a proper threat, because I knew that, in the great scheme of things, Scorpius getting a black eye and Albus having a suspicious hobby of disappearance weren’t that important. That didn’t really matter, though, because everything worried me equally, and it got to the point where I was lying awake for longer and longer every night, clock-watching, wondering when my own mind would let me sleep.


So I decided, it being the last week of term and all, to be a bit more proactive. Try and beat the worrying. The easiest thing I thought I could tackle was Albus’ vanishing habit, seeing as I trusted him and I wasn’t going to try and solve Scorpius’ bullying problems in a hurry. So, when I was on my own, I started hanging round all the places Albus had mentioned or taken me to that were secluded. Little alcoves tucked away in quiet corridors, certain bits of the Library nobody used, the odd spare classroom where the chairs were stacked on the desks and piles of textbooks that were decades out of date filled the cupboards. I even staked out the Prefect’s bathroom and didn’t get a sight of him, although I guess he could have gone past in his cloak and I’d never have known.


I got lucky one afternoon, though, when my Ancient Runes lesson had been cancelled and I’d taken it upon myself to go wandering. I went into classroom eighteen, which he’d never mentioned or taken me to, but I knew was definitely one of those tiny N.E.W.T classrooms that never gets used – and I found him, sitting at a desk right on the back row, palms flat on the surface, eyes staring forwards.


Despite trusting him and all, I didn’t really anticipate how awkward intruding on his weird solitude would be.


‘Hello,’ I said, peeking my head around the door. ‘Can I come in?’


‘Sure,’ he said.


I hurried to the back of the room and took the seat next to him. Both of us sat and stared at the board like we were waiting for a lesson to start.


‘So,’ I said. ‘Come here often?’


‘Not really.’


‘Why here, then?’


His lips barely moved. ‘I’m having an off day.’


‘Why?’


‘Um. Stuff,’ he said, then put his head on the desk.


I didn’t really know what to do. Common sense said I should probably hug him, but I didn’t really feel like doing that.


‘What sort of stuff?’


‘Tried thinking about the future,’ he said. ‘Wow, it sucks.’


‘Really?’


‘No jobs,’ he told the desk. ‘No money, full of racists. People want to hurt you.’


‘Can’t be that bad.’


‘No, it really can be.’


‘Come on…’


‘It is,’ he said, and the tone of his voice told me to drop it.


‘So…do you always come somewhere like here when you’re having an off day?’


‘Mmhmm.’


‘You don’t…talk to anyone?’


‘People wouldn’t like it.’


‘You can talk to me. I’m alright.’


‘Can’t.’


There was a strained silence.


‘If you’re feeling…off,’ I said. ‘You shouldn’t have to hide away like this. Everyone gets it, like I ate an entire slab of Honeydukes chocolate the other day just because I felt a bit iffy-’


‘I can’t,’ he said.


The silence stretched on.


‘It’d be nice to be like you,’ he finally said. ‘You don’t care, you’re okay with…going around, being yourself. You seem happy.’


‘Trust me, Al, I’m not sodding happy about being myself-’


‘Yeah, but, I mean…stuff other people try to cover up, you’re proud of. I can’t be proud of this, it’s a flaw.’


‘Er…’ I felt like I was missing something. ‘Being a bit down in the dumps isn’t a flaw. It’s just a…thing. It happens.’


He didn’t respond. I had about a million motivational speeches swirling around my head, but I felt like nothing I said would make the slightest bit of difference.


‘It’s a bit screwed up,’ he said, in that same muffled voice. ‘I know, I’m a prat.’


‘You can trust me,’ I said. ‘I am your girlfriend.’


I’d sounded a bit petulant, so I guess I can’t blame myself for his retort, although it didn’t exactly make it hurt less.


‘Can’t trust anyone,’ he said. ‘Not when the world’s going to hell in a handbasket.’


‘Oh. Thanks.’


‘No, I…’ he sat up, then waved me away impatiently. ‘Look, one thing I can trust you on. When’s the next time you’ll see Scorpius?’


‘Er, probably at teatime?’


‘Well…I’ve got something for him. Don’t really have the heart to tell him myself, he’d probably punch me. Dad went and talked to some friends in the Department of Mysteries, checked up on some records, says all the stuff he got was a bit confusing. I mean, the records are fine, apparently, and it looks like someone’s been in the office…but, truth is, no-one’s seen Scorpius’ dad for weeks. Might be a work thing, though, weird department. All a bit secretive. Would you pass that on?’


‘Just tell him yourself.’


‘Flora, that’s a bad idea.’


‘Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.’


‘Trust me, I’ve tried. I think you just need to face up to reality, we don’t get on and we never will, okay? I already did him enough of a favour finding all that out, alright?’


‘Aren’t you Gryffindors meant to be, like…chivalrous?’


‘Yeah, well, I’m not a good Gryffindor.’


I tried to keep my calm. Not that I’d had much of a temper in the first place, but the whole pointless rivalry between Albus and Scorpius drove me madder than anything. ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘Okay, I’ll tell him that. See you later?’


‘I’ve got Quidditch practice,’ he said. ‘See you tomorrow.’


‘Fine. Bye,’ I said, and I left and that was that.


*



By the time I got around to telling Scorpius, it was a couple of days later and the last day of term before Easter. I’d wanted to say something earlier, but never really had the chance; I’d never managed to get him alone, and I figured it was the sort of thing that was too serious to just casually drop into conversation in the middle of a lesson. It was kind of exhausting, looking after both boys, keeping an eye out for Albus and trying to hunt down Scorpius at the same time, and once or twice it did occur to me to just say ‘screw it’ and forget about them so I could get on with my own life. But I didn’t really have enough of a life to be getting on with, so I tried not to think that thought too often.


When I told Scorpius what Albus had told me, his response was pretty casual. More so than I’d expected. He shrugged, and said that that was kind of normal for the Department of Mysteries – it was probably some top-secret project or something, nothing to worry about. But there was an odd sort of flickering in his eyes that showed he was worrying, no matter what he said. He looked pretty dejected when he said this would mean he’d have to stay at Hogwarts for Easter.


I’d had an odd dream the night before that unsettled me when I told him this. I’d dreamt that the two of us had been wandering around the corridors, looking behind tapestries and into empty classrooms for Scorpius’ dad. I’d dreamt that we kept finding people in these classrooms that vaguely fitted the bill, middle-aged men and people with ice-blonde hair and people in Ministry robes, but, each time, Scorpius would shake his head and say ‘that’s not my dad’. Eventually, we got up to the corridor outside Divination, although we weren’t walking, more like doing an odd sort of gliding run through the air, and I knew that someone was hiding there under Albus’ invisibility cloak. So I reached out and grabbed a handful of empty air and, sure enough, Scorpius’ dad was under the cloak, but Scorpius just shook his head again and said ‘that’s not my dad’. Then I dreamt that I went to return the cloak to Albus, only he lived in the Prefect’s bathroom and the bath was full of blood, at which point he told me the only reason he hid was because he was a serial killer. And then I woke up.


The dream was utter bollocks but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something in it. Then again, though, I am the girl that once dreamt she was performing an exorcism on Moaning Myrtle with Myron Wagtail and her Uncle, so I don’t really think there’s much to be read from dreams.


Anyway, me and Albus had arranged that we’d leave at nine that night, when we were supposed to report to Professor Longbottom so we could Floo out of his office to the Potters’ house, so I was a bit surprised when he turned up at our common room at six. I hadn't even started packing.


‘Listen,’ he said, brow furrowed, before I’d even had a chance to say hi. ‘Bit of bad news.’


My heart plummeted. ‘What’s wrong?’


‘Um…my dad, er, my dad says we have to bring Scorpius with us.’


I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. ‘Er…could be worse?’


‘Not really,’ Albus muttered.


‘Any reason why?’


His frown grew darker. ‘Not really. Said it was so we could drop him off at his house. Something to do with the Ministry, I don’t know.’


‘I’m sure he’ll be…er…delighted.’


‘Don’t make jokes like that.’


‘But why?


‘Says it’s for his safety. I dunno, alright?’


It was a bit of a fly in the ointment and a spanner in the works considering this was supposed to be my holiday with my boyfriend and all, but I decided to let it drop. I figured that if Harry Potter told you to do something, you should probably do it.


‘Fine,’ I said. ‘I’ll go and fetch him.’



a/n: sorry for the slow updating! I've been having a horrible month, long story, one I should probably save for a rainy day...hope this filler-y chapter isn't too disappointing but, believe me, you'll want filler when you find out what's coming up. it gets a bit...dark. questions? comments? theories? I'd love to hear from you in that review box down there! thanks for reading ♥


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