Chapter 8 : Unprecedented invitation...
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credit goes to loveatfirstview @tda for the amazing chapter image!! <3
hey guys! i'm really really sorry for the long gap, i had exams and stuff...anyways, this is the 8th chapter and i hope you like it!! this one is from Al's point of view...i had a bit of trouble with this chapter, so please try to be patient with me..thanks for reading...read and review please!
What do they want in life?
What do they want from us?
Do they want us to like them?
Do they want us to not like them?
Do they want us to want them to like us?
Do they not want us to want them to like us?
My thoughts are going so haywire right now, I don’t even think that last thought made sense. Women, I tell you. Enough to drive any self-respecting sane male insane within a week, guaranteed. I shook my head a couple of times to clear my thoughts, which didn’t help in the least. So I decided to go inside and have the time-tested remedy in all sorts of situations :food.
Okay, I was hungry.
And my stomach may have been grumbling...a bit.
And the rumbling may have scared a few of the pixies and maybe even a school of fishes that looked out from the Lake.
What? Don’t look at me like that!
I didn’t eat anything the whole day!
A growing teenage boy needs his nutrition you know.
Anyways, I made my way back to the castle and looked in on the Great Hall. I wanted to be sure there was at least pudding left so that I could have food there and save myself a trip down to the kitchens. The chances of meeting exasperating women were less at the Great Hall.
I stepped inside, and of course my whole family/team was still eating. I never realized that we were usually the ones to come soon and leave late for meals. Well, I had to face them sooner or later, I guess. Sighing, I made my way to them.
They tactfully pretended not to notice my arrival.
“So, as I was saying, we should start with the new practice schedules right away” said James, looking at me from the corner of his eye.
The others were too busy pretending to not notice my arrival that they failed to answer him. I suppose James took their lack of interest as a yes. I shudder to think what practice schedule he had drawn in that diabolical mind of his.
“Anyways, I’d better get back to my House, love” said Scor, giving Rose a light peck on her lips (earning a glare from James, Hugo, Fred and me) and nodded to me, “You okay, mate?”
I nodded grudgingly, my mouth full of mashed potatoes.
“Al-“ Lily started, looking concerned. You know, I was surprised these people hadn’t come looking for me earlier. Especially Lily. She would have sent out a search party of Hogwarts and owled every relative we own and caused a stampede in the Entrance Hall, as people rushed in only to find me eating chocolate or something in a broom cupboard. It has happened before, trust me. I suppose Dana and Rose might have stopped her this time, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I don’t have to explain myself to Nana Weasley.
“Let him eat Lily” said Dana, “He must be starving”
I am grateful to you Dana Robbins.
Rose snorted, “I’m surprised he didn’t come in earlier and stuff his face”
“Thanks” I muttered, filling my plate with tarts and pudding, while the others laughed.
“But Al, you sure you’re okay?” Lily asked, still not convinced.
“Seriously, let him eat kid” Ian said, earning a scowl from Lily.
“Yeah, I doubt he would answer you right now with food in his mouth” Hugo grinned at me
I rolled my eyes at all of them and continued to, as Rose subtly put it, ‘stuff my face’.
Lily opened her mouth to argue more, and Rose interrupted, “Let it go, Lils. Trust me on this”
Thank you Rose Weasley.
James rolled his eyes and said, “Honestly I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. So you got dissed by a girl. Big deal. Like it hasn’t happened to us before”
“Shut up James” said Dana.
“Yeah, and just because you don’t have an ounce of dignity or shame in yourself you tosser, doesn’t mean the rest of us also have to be like you” said Rose.
I wish people would just shut up and let me eat my chocolate in peace.
“Hey! That’s not how you talk to your cousin!” piped up Fred, in support of James.
“Do you have a death wish, mate?” chuckled Ian, glancing at the expression on Rose’s face.
“You don’t get to tell me how I talk to whom, you arse. I talk to people how I want to” retorted Rose.
“Here we go” muttered Hugo and Lily together.
“I can bloody well tell you how to talk, because I happen to be your cousin” said Fred, going red in his face.
“Well you’d better get used to it, because I’m very well not gonna sit around and let you tell me what to do. I will do whatever the hell I want” said Rose, her ears going red.
Did I say I’ll not meet any exasperating women here? I should have gone to the kitchens instead.
“Stop it, you two” said Dana, effectively shutting them up.
All of them turned to look at me, as I had finished my (rather large) meal and was calmly looking around at all of them.
“Are you okay, Al?” Lily piped up, before anybody could get in a word “We were worried you know”
“I’m okay” I shrugged looking at them.
Nobody believed me.
“I am guys. I really am” I said, smiling at them.
“Did you..er..talk to...er...” Hugo started, looking awkward.
I nodded, not sure how they knew.
“Oh” he said, looking a bit relieved.
They exchanged significant looks, which I didn’t get.
I was missing something.
“What’s up you lot?” I asked, looking puzzled from one person to another.
“Er...well...we...she...I mean...” started James, starting and failing to finish a sentence as he noticed my raised eyebrows.
“Who?” I asked, still curious.
“Well” Ian started, then cleared his throat and said “Well”
“Well what? Are you gonna spit out whatever you have got to say or not?” I asked angrily. All the suspense was annoying me.
“Well” Hugo said, “Dana introduced us to her”
“Her?” I froze, even if I perfectly knew whom he was referring to.
“Um...” Dana started, looking uncomfortable, “Layla”
I didn’t move. I just stared at them, while Dana shifted awkwardly in her chair.
“And?” I asked, my voice deadly calm.
“And nothing, Albus” Rose said brusquely.
“What do you mean nothing?” I asked, my voice raising just a tiny bit.
“Nothing means nothing, Al. Don’t overthink this” Rose replied, quite calm herself.
“So let me get this straight” I said, working to keep my temper under control. I don’t even know why I was feeling so angry and betrayed.
“While I was insulted and hurt by a person we barely knew and I was missing for the whole day, you all made friends with the person who did the aforementioned hurting and humiliating?” I asked, my voice rising.
“And you” I pointed at Dana, who shrunk back a little, “You’re my best friend and you did this? I don’t believe you guys!” I stormed out of the Great Hall and was furiously making my way up the stairs when they caught up with me.
“She’s my best friend too” Dana whispered softly.
I snapped out of it. As suddenly as it came, I snapped out of my temper. I was taken aback for a second by the hurt in Dana’s voice. I realized just now that how hard it must have been for her, being the best friend of two people who were at loggerheads so often. We weren’t making this any easier on her, and I was making her choose between me and her childhood friend, who was almost like a sister to her. I immediately felt bad.
“I- I-“ I stammered, not knowing what to say.
“I’m sorry” I mumbled, not quite meeting her eyes.
“It’s alright, Al” she said, looking me in my eye “I suppose I didn’t think of it that way. It’s just that she was looking for you and she was outside the Tower and I thought you would be inside so I just took her in and you weren’t there and these guys were and she just met them, I mean I introduced her to them and they sort of started talking and the time just flew past and we didn’t realize how late it had gotten and it wasn’t that we forgot about you or didn’t care about you, we just didn’t notice it and that was wrong of us and we should have realized it earlier and come looking for you, and Lily wanted to but I figured out you needed sometime alone which is why we didn’t disturb you even if we knew you were by the lake, I’m really sorry about all of this Al, I really am” she said breathlessly.
“Whoa” Ian said softly, “Have you ever heard of a concept called breathing, Robbins?”
I ignored him. I just looked at Dana and I knew how bad she felt and I said, “I’m sorry too. I just sort of over-reacted”
“I’d say” muttered Rose
“I didn’t realize that she was your best friend as well. I am sorry for hurting you” I said
Dana smiled at me.
“Alright alright, this is getting too sentimental. Enough of drama for a day, I say” said James, and we all grinned.
I gave Dana a hug, and I knew things were gonna be okay with us.
“That’s more like it” said Rose, joining in the hug as well.
“Yaay!” Lily said, joining in as well.
“Are you sure you don’t want us to hug you Albie?” James and Fred simpered, making kissy faces at me.
“Shut it” I said, scowling at them and Ian and Hugo laughed and punched my arm; and we made our way to the Gryffindor tower.
“Oh and by the way” Lily started when we were at the Common Room, looking sheepish at me, “You might want to write to Mum...”
I groaned at her and dragged a quill and a piece of parchment from the table.
“What the-“ I sputtered, when I was unceremoniously woken up in the wee hours of the morning by a shower of cold water descending on my head.
“Hi. Good that you’re up” I heard a cheerful voice above my head.
I groped for my wand in the dark and squinted out of the window. The sky was an ink blue with a tinge of green at the horizon. I groaned and fell back on my bed and made to pull my covers over my head, when-
“Oh no you don’t brother” James flicked his wand and caused the covers to fly away leaving my bed bare.
“What the hell is wrong with you, you crackpot?” I asked, my voice hoarse, when I noticed my brother fully geared up.
“Quidditch practise” he said brightly, way too cheerful. I hate my brother.
“Now? C’mon James, it’s not even dawn yet!” I protested, trying to reach my covers. Needless to say, it was futile.
James kept hovering over me, and I ignored him.
“Don’t make me pour water on you again, Albus” he threatened. I groaned and got up, making my way sleepily to the bathroom.
“Good boy. Meet you down at the pitch” he said, and left.
I made my way down to the pitch slowly, with my broomstick over my shoulder. It was my favourite thing in the world, and I haven’t lost a match on it, until... Anyways, I entered the changing rooms to find the rest of the team tousle-haired and sleepily staring at James who was holding up the model of the Quidditch pitch. Great, a lecture.
“You’re late” he snapped.
I glared at him and he hastily said, “Never mind, I was just starting”
And then he proceeded to continue explaining something, while everybody dozed off. Ian even started snoring.
“Wha-?” I woke up once more, with a start.
“So that makes it all very clear I hope. Let’s go, team” James said, as he happily strolled out to the pitch. We followed, still rubbing the sleep from our eyes.
We found James at the edge of the pitch, tapping his foot impatiently. We made a loose circle around him.
Rose mounted her broom and made to take off, when James stopped her.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked her, puzzled.
“To the goalposts” she answered testily.
“Why?” James demanded.
“Well, because I’m the Keeper and it’s my job to guard the goalposts” she snapped.
“Nu-uh. Didn’t you just hear me? New practise method” James said, grinning evilly at all of us.
I don’t think I’m gonna like this.
“I Hate You” snarled Rose, and she stormed back to the changing rooms.
“But-“ started James, looking desperate.
“I don’t even wanna talk to you man” Hugo said, and he stormed off too.
“Out pact is over, mate” said Ian and brushed past him as well.
“Lil-“ James started, hoping for some support.
“I don’t want to look to you ever again, you arse” she said, shouldering her broom and running after the others.
“Guys-“ he looked at me and Dana “You know I did this only in the interest of the team!”
I glared at him, not bothering to answer and continued to put the balls back in the crate when Dana sighed and said, “We know that James, but it’s only been a week since the match with Hufflepuff, the next match is not for another three weeks. You ought to cut them some slack”
Merlin’s beard! Has it only been a week since that match? It seemed like ages to me.
James sighed, and ran his hand through his hair, clearly frustrated at our behaviour.
“I’m gonna go have a word with them you guys...put that away and join us asap”
“Aye Aye Captain” Dana said sarcastically.
We were back in the changing room, where the rest of the team had changed and were staring stonily at James, who was looking apologetic. We joined the huddle and looked at him, waiting for him to speak.
“I thought practise went well, you lot” he started.
Rose and Lily glared at him. Oops.
Lily opened her mouth furiously, but Rose beat her to it. “James, you tosser, what the hell where you thinking?”
“Yeah, mate. What you did was not cool” sighed Hugo, shaking his head.
“Who in their right mind wakes people up at the crack of dawn and makes them run around the Quidditch pitch 30 times; makes them do 50 push ups; and then practise for another hour straight?” that was me.
“Can I know what use it is to make people run around the pitch? In case it escaped your mind, Captain, Quidditch is played in the air with broomsticks” said Rose, sarcasm dripping from her voice.
“You should have warned us” Lily said, not quite over it, poor kid.
“Are you lot done?” James asked testily, “We need to be in top shape for the next match against Ravenclaw. They have put together a brilliant team, and we should be careful. We have to train harder if we want to win the Cup. Got it?” he asked.
We all looked at him silently.
“Look you guys; that Cup means a lot to all of us, and we can’t afford to make any more mistakes. Please, just cooperate” he pleaded, a quiet desperation in his eyes.
“That’s it” said Dana, standing up “C’mon guys, there is not point moaning around. Like the Captain said, we have to work harder if we want that Cup. So what do you say? You all up for it?” she asked, looking around at all of us.
We all nodded at her.
“But my body is aching every fucking where” Lily moaned, on getting a glare from Dana she changed tact saying, “But it’s all worth in the end so we go ahead, I say!” she finished weakly.
“So Gryffins” Ian said, “All for one?”
“And ONE FOR ALL” we responded, grinning.
It was night time and I was almost done with my patrol for the night. I checked in with the Head Boy and Girl and informed them and made my way up to the Common Room. It was a tiring day, what with the gruelling Quidditch practise and the lessons and patrol duty; I was quite glad that the day was over. As I entered the Common Room, I found Lily standing with her hands on her hips, holding a piece of parchment in her hand.
“What’s up?” I asked warily.
“You tell me, Albus” she said. Boy, was I in trouble.
“What did I do, Lils?”
“Oh, it’s not what you did Albus. It’s what you didn’t do” she retorted.
“Look” I said, losing my patience “I don’t have time for your games. I am bloody tired and all I want to do right now is go to bed. So if you have something to say to me, then spit it out. Otherwise, Good Night” I said and started to make my way up the stairs.
“Don’t you dare move an inch” she snarled, cutting in front of me.
“You want to know what you didn’t do? I’ll tell you, Albus. I have just got a letter from our Mother, asking why you didn’t write to her the other day when you promised you would. And let me tell you, she Does Not sound happy” she said, pushing the parchment in my hand.
I quickly scanned the letter and groaned. Lily was right, Mum was furious.
“I’m so sorry Lils, I forgot”
“That’s convenient” she snorted “I don’t care what you do; you’d better post that letter right now”
“Okay, okay. I’m searching” I said, rummaging through the mess on the table to find the letter I wrote the previous evening.
“Aha” I said, triumphantly holding up my letter
“Go. Now” she ordered me.
“That tone won’t make me go any faster” I said.
“Albus Severus, you post that letter right now unless you want a Howler” she threatened.
“Okay, that one will” I said, grinning at her. She rolled her eyes at me.
“Thanks, Lilster. Love you” I said, ruffling her hair on my way out.
I made my way slowly up to the Owlery and found it to be almost empty. I looked all around trying to find my owl. A sudden rush of wings, talons rested on my shoulder, and an affectionate nip in my ear told me my owl was more successful at finding me.
“Hey Buzby” I turned to stroke his feathers, and pulled him down gently to attach the letter to his leg. He kept still, looking at me with adoring eyes and I kept muttering nonsense to him.
“Alright, take this to Mum as soon as you can okay? She’s going ballistic there” I said. He blinked once to say he understood and took off into the night. I lost sight of him almost immediately, his black feathers blending with the night. I stood there for some time, watching out the window, and the sudden silence made me realize how late it was and what punishment I would get if I caught.
I was walking down the corridor, when I heard a sound. I stiffened, pulling my wand out.
“Hello?” I called softly. When I didn’t get a reply, I called out loudly “Hello?”
I heard a sniff. Puzzled, I made my way down the dark side corridor lighting my wand on the way. I turned to find a girl sitting on the window sill, still in her dressing gown, looking out the window. She wasn’t crying, but silently staring. As I made my way closer, the moonlight illuminated her face. I froze, and she didn’t seem to notice me. I didn’t want an encounter, so I turned to move away, and as my luck would have it I stumbled and the sudden movement made her glance up “Who’s there?” she called out, pulling her wand out.
I cursed under my breath and made to stand up.
“I asked who was there” she said, more forcefully, and she was almost near me.
“It’s me, Al” I answered, turning around.
“Potter?” she asked, surprise colouring her voice “What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same, Lewis” I said, but not in a harsh way.
“How did you find me here?” she asked still surprised.
“I was on my way back from the Owlery” I answered truthfully.
“Oh” she said, and turned back to sit on the window sill. She didn’t ask me to stay, neither did she ask me to leave. That was awkward.
I didn’t know what to do, or say. I made to leave, but then I remembered the sniff that bought me here in the first place.
“Er...is everything alright?” I asked, cursing my Mother for instilling me with good manners; and cursing myself even more for caring.
“Yeah” she replied in a small voice.
“Now why don’t I believe that?” I said, moving to the window as well. Her face shone back at me, her blue eyes silver in the moonlight. She looked breathtaking, and I suddenly found my lungs fighting for oxygen.
She raised her eyebrows in surprise, probably that I was capable of being nice to her.
“It’s nothing” she said.
I cocked my head to one side, looking at her trying to find out what the problem was (don’t ask me why I cared so much, I don’t know why myself) but still waiting for her to reply.
She sighed, “It’s just a small problem. Nothing to worry about. I can sort it out”
“Obviously you can, which is why you’re sulking in a dark corridor in the middle of the night, isn’t it?” I asked, teasing her gently.
“I needed time to think about it Potter” she replied, her voice a bit annoyed.
“Maybe you’d feel better if you talked about it” I pushed. I don’t know why I was being so nosy, I never usually bothered with other’s problems. I don’t mean that in an apathetic way, it’s just that I didn’t pester people. I left them alone when they wanted to be alone and eventually, they themselves came to me with their problems, and I would help them then. But now, seeing something troubling her, I couldn’t just let it go. I had to know what was wrong and do something to put it right, so that I redeem myself a bit in her eyes. Again, I didn’t know why her opinion of me seemed important; I just knew that I should help her.
I waited, wanting her to talk. If she didn’t; then I would have to find another way to know her troubles.
She stayed quiet for a long time, and I figured she didn’t want to talk to me and I made to get down from the sill, when-
“I don’t have a place to go” she whispered.
“Go where?” I asked, puzzled.
“Christmas” she said softly, her misery showing in her voice.
“I’m sorry I don’t get you” I said. Yes, I can be dumb. And yes, that is the majority of the time.
“Christmas” she repeated, “I don’t have a place to go to during Christmas”
“What happened to your parents?” I asked, puzzled.
“They are working during that time. And since they are in the Department of International Magical Co-operation, they aren’t even in town this year. We were supposed to go to Switzerland and celebrate Christmas there. I just got their letter saying they won’t be able to make it this vacation” she said, sighing.
“What about Logan?” I asked about her brother “Both of you can spend Christmas at Hogwarts, right?”
“Logan made other plans. He is going to Ireland with his friends” she said dully.
“That’s not fair of him” I said, before I could stop myself.
Her eyes flashed sliver at me, “Logan wanted to put off his trip with his friends so that he could stay with me, but I asked him to go ahead. He rarely gets time to spend with his friends and it wouldn’t be fair on my part to ask him to babysit me”
“I don’t get it. Your brother wanted to help you and you denied his help and now you’re feeling bad about it? You should have talked to him and explained it to him instead, I’m sure he would understand” I said.
“Look, Potter, I don’t expect you to understand. Thanks for talking with me” she said, her tone a bit frosty.
Uh-oh. Retract it Al, take it back!
“I’m sorry” I said “I suppose I don’t get your problem”
“There is nothing to get. Just leave it”
“What about your friends? Can’t you spend Christmas with any one of them?” I asked. I was being very rude and I was pestering her, I knew that. I was actually surprised she kept answering me instead of telling me to stuff it.
“They are all going for vacations with their families. I couldn’t possibly intrude. Plus, my closest friend is in Gryffindor and she has other plans. So I am stuck alone at Christmas” she sighed, a miserable sigh.
“Did you talk to Dana about it?” I asked, guiltily. I had invited Dana home for Christmas.
She gave a humourless laugh “No. I didn’t mention it. She was too excited for whatever plans she has and I didn’t want to ruin her Christmas as well”
Wow. This girl really is a martyr. But I did feel bad for her plight. I mean, it’s Christmas! No one should be alone at Christmas. It was a time for family and friends.
No, Al. Don’t do it. You won’t hear the end of it. Besides, you hardly know her. My brain tried to warn me.
Shut up, Brain. I know what I’m doing.
You don’t. What if she denies? Have you thought about that?
Last I checked, thinking was your job- I retorted to my own brain.
It is. And I’m doing it. Which is why I’m telling you not to do this. You can’t do something rash out of guilt. It won’t lead you anywhere.
My brain was right. I shouldn’t do it. That’s it. I’ve made up my mind. I will keep quiet and walk away. No more talking Al.
I finished the mental pep-talk and made to look at her and say that I was leaving. But one look at her miserable face and I couldn’t stand it. Before I could stop myself, the words popped out of my mouth-
“You can come to my home for Christmas”
I had taken her by surprise. I could tell that much. She hadn’t expected this from me.
“What?” she said incredulously.
“You heard me. Come to my place for Christmas” I repeated, cursing my big fat mouth for not listening to my brain.
“Don’t kid” she said, still in denial.
“Why would I kid about this?” I asked, pissed that she didn’t answer my question.
She kept silent, and I could practically hear her brain whirring by, thinking of all possible intentions and replies. Her eyes finally softened when they looked at me, and she said “Thanks a lot, Albus. When I told you my problem, I didn’t intend it so that you could invite me to your place. I am really honoured, but I’m afraid I have to refuse”
She thought I was inviting her out of pity? How does she work this out for herself?
I was trying to do a nice thing, help her out, and yet she manages to find fault.
Why do they have to be so exasperating?
“Look, Lewis, I didn’t ask you to my place because I pitied you or anything. I just asked you so that you could spend time with some friends. Dana would love that, and you’ve already been acquainted with my family and they like you. I don’t want you to spend Christmas alone and miserable. Call it my good deed of the day if you will” I said, my voice a bit sharp. Hey don’t blame me, I was insulted.
She looked at me, taken aback.
“Well...” she started “I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to be a burden” she mumbled.
“Oh c’mon! There is no way you’re gonna be a burden! My family is so huge one more person won’t make much of a difference. Anyways, Mum and Nana will love it if more people are there during the hols. I know they will. Don’t be stupid” I said.
“I’ve got to ask my brother and parents” she said, still hesitant.
“Now you’re just looking for excuses” I pointed out “I know Logan won’t have a problem and I’ll ask Mum to speak with your parents. I’m sure they’ll agree. They’re probably feeling bad they couldn’t be here to spend Christmas with you. They will be happy that you get to be with friends, especially Dana, and that you don’t have to be alone” I argued.
She wasn’t convinced yet, and I said, “Look, you don’t have to be sad and alone this Christmas. I’m giving you an opportunity to be happy. Whether you choose to be happy or sad is up to you”
“I-“ she said, looking into my eyes. I don’t know what she saw in there, but a moment later she said “Thanks Albus. I’d love to spend Christmas with your family”
“Al” I said, smiling at her.
“It’s Al. Not Albus. That’s how my friends call me Lewis”
“Layla, not Lewis” she said, smiling at me.
At that moment, sitting with her in the moonlit corridor, I felt so happy that I’d finally made something right by her, that I couldn’t help giving her a full-on happy smile as well.
so...how did you like it? let me know...also, i know i promised the Christmas chapter soon, but i had to give a filler chapter first...thanks for all those who read and reviewed my story...i'm open for any suggestions and comments...as always, R&R
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