Chapter 2 : Albus: The Decision
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“How did it go?” The question comes from a certain blonde-haired male who is currently lounging on a couch. His feet are resting on a table casually and in his lap is a textbook with childish and inappropriate doodles in it. Half of the inappropriate doodles are my doing but that’s what happens when you get stuck in a boring class called History of Magic. We are still stuck with Binns after all these years and being a boy you can’t really expect me to not think of ‘those’ things. (To clarify, when I say ‘those,’ I don’t mean fruit lollipops or scented lotions. No, I mean the stuff that dwells in a teenage boy’s mind.)
Taking the seat next to him, I sigh.
“Didn’t go as planned?” This time the blonde’s voice is filled with surprise and laced with disbelief. It is a slip up to let someone know what you are thinking and right now he is basically shouting, ‘BREAKING NEWS: ALBUS GOT REJECTED!!! ATTENTION ALL STUDENTS DUCK AND COVER BECAUSE THE WORLD MUST BE ENDING.’ The three exclamation marks are utmost necessary and so is that last part, since my blonde friend reacts like a girl in these types of situations. The important lesson in all this is that it is a mistake for a Slytherin to convey their thoughts on their face, but we all can’t be perfect so I don’t point it out.
“No, it went exactly as planned.” The switch for the Potter smirk flips on. I am immediately relieved since I feel like myself again. The tension in that abandoned classroom tired me out. Aaliyah and I may have been there for moral support and all, but I think we both felt the tension radiating off of James and Gabby. Now that I am in the Slytherin Common Room, I can finally relax with the heat from the fireplace warming me as well as the leather of the couch. That bench that I had to sit on for two whole hours was hard, rough, hard, scratched up, and hard. (Did I mention hard?)
“So, she said yes?”
“Nope,” I say, closing my eyes briefly. I hear his feet shuffle slightly. I slowly open an eye to see Scorpius’s expression, but there isn’t a trace of a single reaction. Being a snake teaches you how to be collected at all times (well, almost at all times).
He wants me to explain what I mean. That much is obvious, yet it doesn’t feel right to tell him in plain sight. A handful of groups are scattered around the vast space. They might have all been too self-centred to care about other people’s lives, but if they heard anything that might give them power over anyone else, they’ll be ready to bite. Hard.
“Not here,” I whisper, motioning to the stairs that lead to the boy’s dormitories.
When we reach the sixth year’s dorm, I push open the door and peer in. No one is here. Very typical. They are probably out and about behind closed doors and won’t turn up until morning.
I enter with Scorpius following, careful not to step on anything horrid like underwear, pets, and rotten food. I plop on to my bed and he sits on his, which is directly across from mine.
“She said no,” I restate shrugging lazily.
“I already got that, Potter. Get to the point,” He says very matter-of-fact. With his arms crossed over his chest, he looks at me like an interrogator and a harsh one at that.
“Fine, fine, I’ll tell you. Really, the last name though?” I raise an eyebrow at him expectantly. He doesn’t budge. I guess humour won’t get me out of this situation. “Aaliyah has been trying to stay out of the gossip and drama that goes around Hogwarts for about a year now,” I start tiredly. I have been over these same damn facts at least one hundred times in my mind. “Why would she choose to finally come out after trying to avoid it like a disease? Aaliyah doesn’t even know me and seeing that I’m Fred’s cousin she doesn’t trust me. Add that all up and it’s obvious that she would reject me.”
Deliberating over the information I gave him, Scorpius shakes his head at me disappointedly and puts a hand over his face trying to hide the goofy grin on his face. “You used the guilt trick, didn’t you?” He questions, knowing the answer already. I give him a half smile in response and looking thrilled, he adds, “You, Albus Potter, are very cruel.”
“Very cruel, indeed,” I agree. This is definitely going to be fun.
The mastermind of all males invented the idea of the guilt trick, insert name here. Yeah, so…. I don’t actually know who invented it but I do know that he is a genius that guys of all generations look up to.
Moving on, Aaliyah Herseth is kind of a mystery, one that I never acknowledged until a couple months into fifth year. She isn’t brooding nor does she disappear. She lets herself be out in the open like everyone else yet she has this bubble around her. You can see her. You can smell her. You can touch her. But you can’t get the taste of her.
There is a barrier. A well built one at that. She lets people in but not fully. People have two sides: their evil side that shows their true self and their foggy side that only shows a blurry reflection of the person they are. Aaliyah is a blurry reflection. At times that reflection gets clear only to get foggy again. You may think you know her but you never do.
I don’t know her. I barely even notice her. I’m able to observe her but observations only get you so far. The facts are out there: She is a Ravenclaw. She is in her sixth year. Her older sister is Gabby and her younger brother is Daniel. And that is that.
Those facts don’t tell you the important, hard-hitting stuff like what are her fears, what does she admire in others, what are her goals in life, which guys does she classify as ‘her type’. She and only she can answer these questions because no one knows the honest answers. Not me, not her sister, not even her parents. Solely, singularly her. And hell is it frustrating.
I don’t know why I find her fascinating. She seems like one of those people that keep you on the edge. Those people that dare you to jump off. It isn’t an obsession nor is it an addiction. Simply a fascination.
One question that Scorpius bothered me about is, “Why her? Why not someone else? Does it have to be her?”
The response to that question is, “Yes, there are other people. On the other hand, she is more fitting. She gets the seriousness of the situation. And she isn’t one of those fan girls or flirts, the ones that want to latch on to your lips and stay there. She knows reality. And she isn’t clingy. Clingy is not good. I freaking loathe clingy.”
The rest of the girls don’t have a reason, a drive to do this. Aaliyah does. Without willingness nothing happens. Without effort even less happens. It doesn’t work that way. When you want to accomplish something, you need a couple things: effort, want and belief. One doesn’t function without the other. All of them have to be working at the same time and at the same pace. Otherwise, that goal is worthless and dead.”
What Scorpius doesn’t know is that one of the reasons for choosing her is that I feel deemed responsible for what materialised in the past year to her. You may call it a hero complex or whatever. However, that isn’t it. It is one of those impressions that make you think you could have done something. You could have prevented some of the events but you didn’t. Instead of doing something that caused an effect, you guilt yourself into thinking that you could have stopped that effect.
And that is what steered me to her: the burden of liability, the augmenting fascination, and the stress of owing my brother.
“You’re staring,” Scorpius whispers, nudging me in the ribs. We are currently in the back of Transfiguration class; ‘taking notes’ while Professor Blackwood lectures us on the different types of human transfiguration.
“I’m not staring, Scorpius. I’m examining.” Brushing him off, I carry on, remaining in concentration. Her dark brown hair is up in a ponytail, and her attention is on the teacher. She scratches on her parchment with her quill, holding on to every word that comes out of Blackwood’s mouth. I don’t understand why she forces herself to take notes when she gets Outstandings easily in this class. Ravenclaws put way too much effort into things.
“Examining? Is that what you call it?” He raises an eyebrow at me. I ignore him and soon he joins me by studying her too.
“She’s pretty,” he mentions after a few minutes. I give him a side-glance constructing of pure discontent.
“That is all you notice?”
“Well that and she is paying attention in class unlike you,” he states knowingly.
“Don’t act like you are listening to Blackwell. You’re staring at Rose. Again,” I point out, causing him to blush. I roll my eyes. This happens every other day. One day he’ll be staring at her in the Great Hall. And the next day he’ll be ogling her arse in between classes.
“No, I’m not,” he denies, his gaze still lingering on a certain redhead.
“You are lucky that I’m okay with your liking of my cousin.” Aaliyah is now biting on her quill, probably deliberating if she missed a part of the professor’s speech.
“Like I need your approval,” he carelessly says still looking at Rose. “And I don’t like her,” he adds as an afterthought. All I can think is puh-lease.
“You are right, Scorpius. You just acquired a large crush on her.” Sarcasm drips off of my words causing him to glare. “And you do need my approval since I’m her cousin,” I affirm with an intent look. “Oh, and I’m older than you.” Lengthening my reasoning, I give him a grin.
“By two months,” Scorpius argues, but I am too engrossed in watching Aaliyah to think of a reply. She is frowning at her notes. I wonder why. All of a sudden the person sitting next to her, I’m guessing it is one of her friends, taps her on the shoulder. The friend points at Scorpius and I. I quickly glance down at my parchment before she turns around. Stupid damn friend.
“She is looking in this direction,” Scorpius announces. I shake my head at him, signalling him not to do anything. Grabbing my unused quill, I scribble a couple incoherent words to act like I am writing down what Blackwood’s saying. A couple of moments later Scorpius mumbles, “Okay, she isn’t looking anymore.”
Dropping what I have, I sneak a look at her. She reminds me of a box that has a lock on it, but no one has the key. Not even her. I have so many theories about her that I don’t know which ones are right and which ones are wrong. Maybe none of them are right? Sometimes when you got bored of life you start seeing the details that others don’t catch. I must really have no life. That or I need to focus on something else. Is this what happens when you haven’t had a hot girlfriend in a long time?
“Are you sure you aren’t infatuated with her?” the person I call my best friend asks. Currently there is a drawing, in my opinion it is a horrid drawing, in front of him. He is still working on the hair of the person that I’m guessing is Rose. And he says I’m infatuated.
“No, it is called research,” I deny.
“If you say so,” he says still not convinced.
The best part of the day is always the night. No one can say or convince me otherwise. Do you know why the night is the best part? Because I get to sleep. I am allowed to forget about everything that happened in the morning, afternoon, and evening. All of it, I get to forget all of it. The softness that is my bed awaits me. Fall back and done. Sleep comes and no disturbances. That is unless an agitating best friend wakes you up in the middle of the night.
Here we go:
“Al, Al!” Hands shake me awake. Unconsciously I roll over. My sheets tangle through my legs. “Al!” the voice says another time.
“What?” I groan, my words barely coming out clearly. I hear the squeak of my mattress telling me that he is sitting at the end of it.
“I like her.” It is a full-on statement. No doubt or question. He says it with a stable sureness. Pushing the pillow off of my face, I sit up to look at him. His grey eyes look straight ahead. It looks like he is missing something. It seems like admitting that he likes Rose takes something away from him. That is when I know this is serious. Crap.
“Okay.” My tone is hesitant as I scoot over to sit next to him. “Is liking Rose a bad thing?”
“Yes. No… I don’t know.” Scorpius’s hands tug at his hair while his face grows paler. “Gah…this is so frustrating.”
I reach over and give him a pat on the back, not knowing what else to do. I’m not the comforting type. Having female cousins should make me more sensitive when it came to these situations but it doesn’t. Instead, it makes me feel more awkward when it came to people telling me about their feelings. Why do people always have to dump their emotional shit on other people?
“It’s going to be fine,” I assure softly. I do feel for Scorpius. Liking Rose isn’t an easy thing. I may love her and all, but she has a temper and can be very sassy and a little outright... and I am making things worse.
“No, it isn’t going to be fine. I can’t like her, Albus. I can’t,” his voice rises with every word. He looks devastated and relieved at the same time. He is devastated of liking a Weasley but relieved to finally admit it. This is the first time that I actually thought about him having something more than a crush. I mean… damn this is bad, really bad. I can’t tell him that though.
“It’s okay to like someone you aren’t supposed to. That’s the fun of it. Maybe this is only a simple crush that will fade away.” The words take over from there. My speech writes itself while I let my mouth do the talking. “This can be a short term thing or even a long term thing. Hell…we are in Hogwarts. Shit is supposed to happen. And it may happen for a reason and it may not. You never know whom you are going to like. But you can know what you are going to do about it. So what are you going to do about it, Scorp?”
He lets out a long sigh. Turning to look at me, he grins, “Never thought you had that in you, Potter.”
“Are we back to last names again, Malfoy?” I tease, letting myself fall back onto my sheets. Now for some blissful sleep…
“Night, Potter.” Scorpius never gets an answer though since I am already half-asleep.
“Where’s Malfoy?” The question comes from Blaine Zabini, a friend of mine. What he doesn’t realise is that my gaze is set on a specific Ravenclaw girl that is sitting a couple feet away. We are in the library, sitting in one of the secluded corners that many people don’t know about. The books on the shelves near us are layered in dust, making them look decayed. The chair I am currently sitting on is a little rickety but still firm. And Blaine is still repeating the same freaking question with his light deep brown-gold eyes.
“He isn’t feeling well.” Not a good answer, but it will keep him distracted long enough. Her face doesn’t hold any visible traces of thoughtfulness or anger, only passion towards the book she is reading. Weird.
“Who are you staring at?” Blaine inquires, leafing through the torn pages of his Charms textbook.
“No one,” I lie. Her eyes trace down the page in a quick pace while her fingers drum softly on the wooden table. I wonder what she is thinking about. Has the guilt gotten to her yet? Wow, I am starting to sound like a freaking stalker.
“Is Malfoy in our dorm then?” he asks carelessly.
“Yes,” I answer tearing my eyes away from the Ravenclaw. Scorpius has been sorting through his problems these past couple of days. He isn’t ready to face Rose, apparently. Instead he is using the strategy of locking himself in our dorm. Very original, I know.
I feel bad for the guy. Not only did he think he is sorta in love, but he also fell in love with Rose, the wrong person. I am not saying that my cousin is a bad person because she isn’t. The issue is that she can be very rough and stubborn at times. So telling her anything will be a great conquest that I don’t want to be a part of. And from what I can tell, neither does Scorpius.
“What do you think of Aaliyah Herseth?” The query has me stumped. Is he reading my mind or something or did he think I’m acting suspicious?
“No reason. I heard that your cousin still has a thing for her,” he states with a shrug, acting like he couldn’t care less.
“Ehh..Fred isn’t usually that serious with a girl.” She puts her book down and gets up to search for something. Another book perhaps?
“Makes sense.” And with that he ends the conversation leaving me to think of what is going on with Fred and if Aaliyah is actually going to give in.
The next day, I am strolling down the Charms corridor when I hear her. The soft padding of her footsteps echo along the walls.
“Potter!” I keep walking like I haven’t heard her. I can’t keep the smile off my face.
“Potter!” The sound of her running feet makes me stop for a second and then I keep walking like the jerk the I am. The smile stretches further. Victory seems to be surging through me before I can stop it.
“Albus!” This time I completely stop and take the time to force the smile away. Turning around, I see that she is now only four-five feet away from me. Well, this is going to be much easier than I thought.
Aaliyah’s glaring at me and trying hard to slow her breathing at the same time. A few strands of her hair have come loose from the messy bun on the back of her head. The irises of her eyes bob up and down in both fury and nervousness. I take a couple steps closer to her without meaning to. It is her eyes. They are this different grey. The first time I met her it looked like graphite, but now there is something else entirely in them.
“Are you deaf or something? I’ve been calling you for some time!” she yells. She wants to be angry, she wishes her voice to come out cross but it doesn’t. All I hear is frustration in her words. Her body screams panic from the twitching of her fingers to the faint tapping of her feet.
And I hate it. I hate it because it makes me want to comfort her. I yearn to put my arms around her. Why couldn’t she have been an average person? Why does she have to be Gabby’s sister and why did Fred ever have to freaking mess with her?
“Technically, there are three Potters in Hogwarts. How was I supposed to know you were talking to me?” I finally respond after assembling myself. No emotion on my face except for confidence.
“Shut up.” The two words don’t come out that strong. It feels like the whole world is pressing down on her shoulders. That’s how worn out she looks.
“Do you have something to say to me or am I standing here to listen to you insult me?”
She averts her attention to her shoes. Is a shoe more interesting than me? Eh, probably not. “ I ch..changed my mind.” Her eyes are still on the damn shoes.
“About?” She doesn’t speak. “I can’t read minds you know. What did you change your mind about?” I say slowly to annoy her. Every Ravenclaw gets infuriated when someone suggests that they are dumb. Trust me, I’ve done it more times than I can count. And every time it is worth the reaction they give me.
She snaps her attention back to me. I expect her to scowl. She surprises me by extending a plain look. It bothers me that I’ve never ever seen her genuinely mad. Ever. How the fuck does someone do that?
When her brother stole her underwear and hung it in the Great Hall, instead of raging like a maniac she laughed, whole-heartedly laughed. And then everyone at lunch started laughing with her including the professors. Gabby told me there was this time that one of their cousins told James that Aaliyah had a crush on him. Later Aaliyah found out and merely said, “I only like James as a friend and if you don’t believe that, that is your problem, not mine.”
A part of everyone wants to be pissed off or enraged with fury because then they could blame all their problems on somebody else, excluding her that is. It’s like her life goal is to avoid chaos or be Buddha (Aunt Hermione said he was a Muggle who believed in meditation and peace, I think) or something. Don’t ask how I know this considering I didn’t and still don’t know how. It is a prediction, my prediction. Testing if it is right is a whole other matter.
Sighing, Aaliyah mutters something that is too soft to hear, but I catch every word. I want to hear it out loud though since a victory isn’t meaningful when the other individual doesn’t surrender fully.
“What was that?” I inquire innocently.
“I. Changed. My. Mind. About. The. Proposition.” Each and every word comes out like a sentence, separated and powerful. Yet her expression seems pained to say them.
“So is it a yes then?” Her eyes flutter shut for a couple of moments. Letting out a long breath, she nods. I check my watch so briefly that she doesn’t notice.
“But,” oh no, not a ‘but.’ Anything but a ‘but,’ “ I have some conditions.” I was afraid she was going to do this. All girls are the same. They think that what they call “ground rules” keep everything in check when in reality it doesn’t. It gives the other party a better reason to cross the line.
I motion for her to continue, “ First, no snogging.” I snort in disbelief, but she ignores me and continues. “Second, under no circumstances will there be any shagging.” Weird, she actually thinks it might get that serious. Has she already been thinking of me naked? “Third, when this is done, nothing is left as in no feelings.”
She waits for me to say something, more specifically to agree with her, which isn’t going to happen. “First off, we can demolish the ‘no snogging’ rule.”
“Why?” she demands, clearly alarmed.
“Herseth, get real. No one is going to believe we are real if there isn’t any snogging. I mean you don’t see Hogwarts couples going around holding hands for all their life.” This time she scowls, but I know she sees eye to eye with my views. “We can skip the second one,” I say off-handily before she interrupts.
“What? What do you mean skip it?” Her horror and panic levels astound me. Either she is uncomfortable with physical contact or she doesn’t trust me at all. I’m going with the latter.
“Skip as in we don’t need to discuss it. It is way out of proportion given the situation at hand. Though if you want to get rid of that condition, I’m one hundred percent okay with that too.” Maybe I’m a bit too suggestive because she gives me a look that can kill. Literally.
“How about the third one?” she interrogates.
“I agree with that one. No serious feelings,” I say, pressing my lips together to show how important that rule is.
She bites her lip slightly, probably wondering if she could get out of this situation or not. However, it is too late. She knows that just as much as I do. “I can’t guarantee that you won’t fall for me though. You know with my dashing looks, and amazing personality,” I tease, making the situation lighter considering the tension. I abhor tension, try to dodge it like a freaking rash.
In return, she raises an eyebrow, which certainly says, ‘you wish.’
“What now?” she asks casually. Leaning back against the wall, she puts on a half smile.
“Nothing really,” I merely convey, my mind wandering to where a certain someone is at the moment.
“Do you think Ronan will believe us?” Her finger plays with a lock of her hair absent-mindedly while her voice strains to be positive.
“Maybe, it all depends on how good of an actress you are.” I grin at her challengingly. She smiles in return, one that reaches her eyes. The inner circles around her irises shine a combination of orange and green. It is like staring into a hurricane; you don’t know what to expect.
“When do we start this thing?” She emphasises ‘thing’ without meaning to. I glance down at my watch again. The hour hand is between the numbers six and seven while the minute hand is resting right on top to the six. It’s time.
“T..Tomorrow?” she stutters. “You’re joking right?”
“This has been going on for way too long Aaliyah.” I gently take a few steps closer to her and the confusion radiating off of her hits me hard. Please go along with it, I pray.
“Huh?” I want to scream out a thanks to her for not saying anything else.
“We need to make it official.” Only a couple inches are left among us. Hey eyes grow bigger and bigger, unsettled by the closeness. My hands reach out and cup her cheeks. Our foreheads meet. “I know you are scared, but it is going to be alright.” Aaliyah looks into my eyes and nods, trusting me for no reason at all and not knowing exactly what she is saying yes to.
“Tomorrow,” I say again and she repeats it back. We stay like that for what feels like a millennium. When I put some space between us, she relaxes. It doesn’t last for long, though.
“What the hell was that?” she yells, uptight and tense.
“Why don’t you take a guess?” My back makes contact with the wall behind me. I don’t realise what is happening until I see her right in front of my face.
She pokes me in the chest as she bites out, “You. Could. Have. At. Least. Warned. Me.”
Her breath hammers against my face. The freckles that are splattered across her nose are more visible now. And her jaw juts out a bit but not in anger. Even after the scene I caused, she isn’t mad. Not one bit, only bothered and shaken.
“Ronan was there, wasn’t she?” She breathes. I nod in indication of a yes. “You knew she would have been around that corner at this time, didn’t you?” she questions, already knowing the answer. I nod again. Exhaling heavily, Aaliyah backs up slightly and I pull myself off the wall.
She turns her back to me only to round on me again and tries to punch me in the face except for the part where it actually comes in contact with my face. I have her wrist in my grip, preventing her from making any other move. Oh, how I love having lightning fast reflexes.
“Let go of me,” she seethes. I reluctantly do so.
“How did you know?” she asks. The question is very open ended and I want to let myself tell her a half-truth. But I don’t. I can’t because she deserves to know.
“The Marauders Map and I’ve been watching her for a couple days. She is always here at this time. Not sure why but she is.” Aaliyah doesn’t reply, solely accepts what I just told her with no argument.
Silence looms onto us. Not an awkward one but one that lets us rewind what occurred recently and think it over. We stand there; me observing her and her searching the ceiling for answers. We are going to make a weird couple, that’s for sure. Where we balance in looks, we clash in personalities.
After some time, I walk up to her and promptly peck her on the cheek. I then walk past her and yell over my shoulder, “Be ready for tomorrow!”
“Tomorrow?” I hear her question when I already have a couple feet of distance from her. Tomorrow is going to be a roller coaster. One that neither of us is ready for. Boy, is this going to be fun.
beta'd by LilyAndScorpius4eva
Disclaimer: All belongs to JK Rowling. Only the Plot and OCs are mine.
A/N: So a quick enough update perhaps? Anyway...what? Is Aaliyah actually agreeing? Did the guilt finally get to her? :P
So if you guys didn't catch on already, this chapter is from the hot and mysterious Albus's point of view. What did you guys think of it? What do you think of Scorpius?
I would love if you left your thoughts and opinions in that little gray box down there. :D
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