The regular clicking of my heels rings out in the deserted corridors as I follow the tall figure of Aiden Brookes up to the Owlery. Due to my regular visits to the place, I have seen Brookes go up there every Thursday evening since the start of the year. His robes don’t quite reach the ground and the pale skin of his ankle is exposed with each step he takes, hinting at either a recent growth spurt or a lack of galleons to pay for a new set. The sapphire trimmings are barely distinguishable from the black cloth in the dim light and his tattered school bag is covered in obscure drawings and doodlings.
He seems unaware of my presence behind him although I have taken no measure to hide myself. His carefree walk and the swinging of his arms give me the impression his thoughts are focused elsewhere than the dreary corridor we are walking through.
As he ascends the steps to the Owlery, I deposit my bag by the tapestry of a ghost hunt in the Middle Ages, take a selection of books out and readjust my crimson and gold tie, tugging it down to expose a little of the skin on my chest. It takes Brookes several minutes to call and owl down and attach his letter before he comes jumping back down the steps, two at a time.
As he reaches the bottom step, I step forward and we collide. I make no attempt to stop the books falling from my arms as I fall gracefully onto my butt. Brookes looks startled, clearly not thinking anyone would be here at this time.
“Sorry,” he mutters, reaching out to pick up some of my scattered books. “You’re reading Hidden in the Numbers?” he comments, handing back an advanced Arithmancy book I had borrowed from the library early.
“Yeah,” I reply shyly, ducking my head and looking up at him through my eyelashes.
“Cool, I didn’t realise you were into Arithmancy? You seem more of a Divination sort of person,” he frowns and I cannot help but snort.
“Divination? What in Godric’s name makes you think I would be into divination?” I snort again, the shy innocent façade fading quickly.
“I don’t know, you just seem the type – dreamy, vacant, a little odd…” he shrugs.
“Odd? How kind of you,” I smirk and he blushes slightly.
“I didn’t mean it like that, just unusual…” I just continue to stare at him with an eyebrow raised. “I’m sorry, please don’t be offended, I have a habit of saying the wrong thing,” he pleads, clearly concerned he has upset me. I look down and let out the smallest of sighs. “Please don’t be upset,” he mutters, stepping closer to me.
“I’m not upset,” I whisper, refusing to look up at him. He steps even closer and reaches a hand out to tilt my chin up. I still refuse to look at him.
“Please Weasley,” he begs, brushing some hair from my faces. “I didn’t mean to upset you, to be honest, I think being unusual is a good thing so really, it was meant to be a compliment…” he explains with a half-smile. Deciding now is the perfect time to pounce, I lean closer to him and gently press my lips to his.
His reaction is instantaneous as he springs away from me, knocking into the statue on the other side of the corridor. He stares at me with wide and confused eyes. I stare right back at him.
“What the hell Weasley?” he finally manages to choke out. “I have a girlfriend!”
“Oh,” I mutter, faking innocence. “I’m so sorry, I had no idea, I would never have presumed… It’s just you… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to, it just sort of happened… I thought you wanted… Never mind,” I mumble, lowering my gaze to the floor.
“Hey, don’t worry about it,” he smiles but remains pressed to the opposite wall. This is decidedly harder than I anticipated it would be. Pretending to choke back a sob, I reach for another of my books which was still lying on the floor. Brookes sighs heavily before stepping towards me. “Here, let me help you,” he says, taking several books from me.
“Really, you don’t have to,” I mutter, refusing to meet his gaze.
“Weasley, don’t be like that,” he frowns. “It was just a misunderstanding.”
“Really, I just-” pretending to burst into tears, I let the few books I am holding fall the ground again and Brookes swiftly pulls me into his arms and starts stoking my hair, whispering soothingly.
We stand there for a while, me letting out the occasional fake sob and him trying to comfort me but being clueless as to what he should do. Eventually, I let my hands entangle themselves in his robes as I slowly lift my head up, trailing my lips across the exposed skin at the base of his next where he had loosened his own tie. I feel him shiver and then freeze.
With my lips hovering on his neck, I let my hands slide up his chest. For a moment, he doesn’t react. Then, in the distance, footsteps break the silence and he jerks away from me once more. This time however, he grabs my robes by my shoulder and drags me to the tapestry where my bag is. He pushes it aside to reveal a small alcove.
Pushing me inside, he lets the tapestry fall back into place.
“What the fuck is you problem Weasley?” he hisses. Anger is evident in his face as he glares at me, one hand still gripping my robes and forcing me against the wall, his fist clenches, making the hem of my sleeve dig into my armpit. “I’ve just told you I have a girlfriend!” he hisses again, clearly trying to be quiet. “I don’t know what sick little game you are trying to play but it isn’t going to work on me! I love Hatty more than anything and I would never cheat on her! I know you reputation as a little leech but I don’t want to be a part of it, is that understood. I was just trying to be a gentleman but you have to throw it back in my face. You are messed up Weasley. Seriously messed up-”
He is cut off as the tapestry is yanked aside to reveal the startled face of a young, brunette girl with hazel eyes that pass over me and fix on Brookes. They immediately fill with confusion then, as she glances back at me and the way Brookes as me pressed up against a wall, tears begin to form. She spins around, barging past a confused Hugo and running down the corridor.
“Hatty!” Brookes shouts, letting go of me and running after the girl. “Hatty! Wait! It’s not what it looked like! Hatty please!” The girl, Hatty James, shows no signs of stopping as she continues running down the corridor in the direction of the Hufflepuff common room, Brookes hard on her heels.
“Evening Rose,” Hugo nods. “I see you weren’t kidding about being able to do it.”
“I didn’t do it.”
“What do you mean?” he frowns.
“He didn’t kiss me.”
“It wasn’t what it looked like,” I snap, bending down to pick up my bag and stuffing the books back in.
“Either way, it worked,” Hugo shrugs and I walk off without another word.
As the days get colder, more and more people are seeking the comfort of another’s arms. With the first snow falling early, I find myself confined to the castle with little to do. People seem to be more trusting of each other in the lead up to the Christmas Holidays to I have no jobs to focus on except for Lucy’s.
Glancing out of the dreaded left window of the dorm, I spot the crimson figures of Al, Keegan and Dave throwing a Quaffle about. With Dave on the Quidditch pitch, lessons over an hour ago and practice not for another two hours, I decide to go down to the dungeons and attempt one of the potions Zabini recommended I should try.
As I turn down the corridor leading to Zabini’s classroom, I almost trip over a figure sitting hunched up against the wall, his head in his hands. Startled, he snaps his head up and I can tell he has been running his hand through his hair repeatedly by the way it is sticking up in different directions.
“Thorn?” he sounds surprised. “What are you doing down here?”
“Going to use Zabini’s room,” I shrug as Malfoy gets up and brushes the dust from his robes. “May I ask what exactly you were doing on the floor of the corridor?” I frown. Malfoy shakes his head so I continue on my way.
“Wait up,” he calls when he realises I have gone. “Zabini said you should have someone with you should anything go wrong… Is your cousin coming down or something?”
“You by the looks of it,” I mutter more to myself than to him.
“Well if you’re so worried about it, it’ll have to be you because there is no one else down here and I’m not going to look for anyone.”
“So either leave me alone or shut up.” By the silence that follows, I guess he chose the latter. We head down to the deserted classroom without a word and he takes a seat at our usual desk while I head over to the ingredients cabinet and begin rummaging around, already having memorised the ingredients.
“What are we making?” Malfoy asks.
“I am making a potion,” I snap back.
“Right…” he rolls his eyes and I glare at him. “So are you ready to have your asses kicked next Saturday?”
“And why would I have to be prepared for that?” I frown, shaking a jar of murky water to see how many beetles are left in it.
“The Quidditch match of course,” Malfoy smirks.
“In what world will Slytherin ever beat Gryffindor at Quidditch?” I snort.
“Uh, what about Third Year? We beat you fair and square back then.”
“If distracting the referee so your Beater can shove our Chaser off a broom is classified as fair, then yes, you did.”
“I still stand by the fact that Williams fell off his broom.”
“And I still stand by the fact that Bulstrode is a bitter cheat.”
“Why is she bitter?”
“Because Williams fancied her sister rather than her.”
“How do you remember stuff like that? In fact, how do you even know stuff like that?” Malfoy asks in astonishment.
“I know everything, remember?” I snort, bringing a selection of ingredients over to where Malfoy has set up a cauldron.
“Not everything,” he insists.
“Well, anything of relevance,” I shrug.
“That depends on your definition of relevance.”
“Well, relevance is that I know you are about to set fire to your robes,” I indicate to his arm which is resting dangerously close to the fire he had just ignited beneath the cauldron.
“Dammit,” he curses, snatching his arm away and batting at the tiny flame that was trying to engulf the material. I smirk at him before starting to measure out the lizard scales. We work in silence for a while, Malfoy stirring while I chop and slice and weigh various ingredients.
“Where are you going?” Malfoy frowns as I open the door of the classroom.
“To the lavatory,” I state.
“Don’t be so shocked Malfoy, I am human, I do have human needs,” I snort as I back out the door.
“Sometimes I wonder,” he mutters so quietly I can barely hear him. Deciding to pretend I didn’t, I head towards the ground floor toilets as they are the closest ones to the dungeons other than the Slytherin common room.
Usually I would use the toilets on the First Floor. The one where Moaning Myrtle spends the majority of her time. Now you may wonder why I would willingly subject myself to Myrtle’s antics and I can assure you I have a very good reason: the dead are by far easier to deal with than the living.
Dealing with people is not something I have ever been particularly good at. Dealing with crying girls is the equivalent of fighting a Hungarian Horntail… In fact, I think even given the option, I would choose the Horntail. So you understand my discomfort when, upon entering the ground floor toilets, I come across a petite girl, hunched in a corner with tears streaming down her blotched face.
“Uh…” I muttered incomprehensibly.
“Oh,” the girl gasps, finally noticing my presence. She quickly clambers to her feet, wiping tears from her eyes. “Sorry, I didn’t hear you come in,” she mutters, trying in vain to disguise the fact she is still crying.
“I… Do you…?” I just stand there awkwardly, unsure what to do and wishing that I had not been lazy and just used the First Floor bathrooms. The girl just shakes her head and vanishes into a cubicle for some tissue. Seizing my opportunity, I duck into the neighbouring one.
When I come out, the girl is standing before the mirrors, trying to get some colour back into her cheeks. She is smaller than an average student but cannot be younger than Fourth Year, although the look in her funny coloured eyes suggests knowledge beyond those years. I have never seen eyes like hers before, they are almost like molten amber, a sort of sunset yellow colour. She catches me looking at her in the mirror and gives me a half smile.
“You won’t…” she beings shyly. “You won’t tell anyone about this will you?”
“Of course not,” I mumble, looking away awkwardly. She smiles again before leaving. I quickly wash my hands and follow her out but she has already vanished down the corridor. Heading back to the dungeons, I cannot help but wonder what her story is.
“You okay? You’ve been a bit vacant since you came back from the loo,” Malfoy frowns as we pack the equipment away. “Have the lavatories started changing too or something?”
“No, nothing like that,” I shrug.
“Well… There was this girl in there,” I begin to explain, unsure why the incident is bothering me so much. “She was crying.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a girl cry before?” Malfoy snorts. “In fact, I know you have, you’ve caused a fair few of my ex-girlfriends to cry,” he smirks.
“In case you were unaware, I don’t do emotions,” I snap.
“So why didn’t you just leave?”
“I don’t know! She just… I don’t know.”
“Did you know her?”
“Is she in our year?”
“Is she in your House?”
“Then why do you care?”
“I don’t care.”
“Then what’s bothering you?”
“I don’t know!”
“There must have been something,” Malfoy sighs, picking up his bag and heading for the door.
“Maybe it was her eyes,” I shrug. He stops in his tracks.
“What about her eyes?” he asks quietly.
“They were kind of an amber colour,” I shrug, picking up my own bag. “Do you know anyone with amber eyes?”
“Yeah,” Malfoy sighs and I notice his fist tightening around the door handle. “Her name is Faye Rivers, she’s a Fifth Year Hufflepuff,” he explains monotonously before walking out the door and vanishing into the dark dungeon corridors.
“I can’t believe it!” Al repeats for what seems the thousandth time. “I mean… I just can’t believe it! They haven’t cancelled a game since my dad was at school!” he exclaims.
“Oh really, I had no idea,” I snap. “It’s not like you’ve been telling us the same thing for over haf an hour now.”
“But they cancelled a game!”
“We can all read the sign Al,” Lily snorts from her seat in front of the fireplace.
“But why would they do that?” Al asks.
“In don’t know… Maybe because there is a fucking blizzard outside,” I suggest. Al, it seems, does not seem to detect the sarcasm in my tone.
“They’ve never cancelled Quidditch because of the weather before!”
“Well maybe that because they’ve never had a Quidditch Match on the day of a blizzard before,” I snap again. “Just accept it, they’ve moved the match to the end of the season. We’ll play Slytherin then.”
“But the end of the season is May!”
“Yes and we’ll play them in early June.”
“But that’s months away!”
“Al just shut up,” Lily advises. Al ignores her and continues on his rant. Deciding I cannot take a moment longer of him looping himself, I head for the dorm to find it blissfully empty. However before I can focus on my thoughts, the door opens and a hesitant Lucy enters.
“Hey Ro,” she smiles. “Look, I just wanted to say that I understand you’re uncomfortably with helping me out with Dave and that I get that. It’s fine, you don’t have to do it, I should never have asked to begin with. Sorry,” she shrugs, looping an arm around the left post of my four-poster bed. She looks genuinely sorry. But she should not be. She asked me to do something and I said I would. So I will. Besides, Dave is more than ready.
“Luc, meet me at eight by the statue of the sphinx on the Fourth Floor,” I instruct. She looks at me with hopeful eyes and nods. I guess it is time to get this over with then.
Hello again lovely readers. I am so sorry about the wait but I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Hopefully I will be able to update more often from now on. Please let me know your thoughts, theories or questions either in a review here or on the blog for this story (link on my Author's Page). You can also ask my characters questions if you wish. Thank you so much for reading, IrishMyth.