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. After all these years we are still stuck with Binns, a ghost who taught it our parent's time. I think it's high time that he retired or you know stayed dead.
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. Belonging to Slytherin house, it is a slip up to let someone know what you are thinking and right now you can clearly read that he's shocked that someone has rejected me, Albus Potter, of all people. I don't point out his mistake this time. No one's perfect, including the snakes residing in the Hogwarts dungeons.
“No, it went exactly as planned.” The switch for the Potter smirk flips on. Back in the Slytherin Common Room, fire blazing a green hue, and surrounded by familiar leather couches is relieving. The tension in that abandoned classroom was sky high, almost too much to handle. Aaliyah and I may have been there for moral support, but I think we both felt the anxiety radiating off of James and Gabby. Being away from there makes me feel like myself again.
“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 single trace of emotion. It seems that his Slytherin side has finally kicked in.
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 may be all too self-centred to care about other people's lives, but if they heard anything that may 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 boys' dormitories.
When we reach the sixth year’s dorm, I push open the door and peer in. No one is here. 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. Repeating them, at this point, is tedious. “Why would she choose to draw attention to herself when she's spent years avoiding it like a disease? Aaliyah doesn't even know me. And, seeing as 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. He then puts a hand over his face, trying to hide the goofy grin on sh. “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 guilt trick. Invented by a mastermind and used by commoners like me.
It's a simple concept really. Plant the seed of shame; let the person mull over what they've done (or haven't done); and, before you know it, they'll be at your feet.
And that's exactly what I've used on Aaliyah Herseth.
The girl in question is kind of a mystery, one that I never acknowledged until a couple months into fifth year. She isn't brooding nor does she vanish into thin air. No, she lets herself out in the open like everyone else, yet she has this bubble around her. You can see her. You can smell her. You can even touch her, but you can't get the taste of her.
There is barrier, a well built one at that. For what I've gathered, she lets most people in but not fully. People have two sides: there 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 only know what she wants you to.
I, myself, don't know her. Before, I barely noticed her when she was in the same room as me. Now, it's hard to not observe her but observations can only get you so far.
I know the facts: 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 her fears are, what does she admire in others, what her goals in life her. She can only answer those questions because no one else knows the honest answer. Not me, not her sister, not even her parents. Solely, singularly her. And hell is it frustrating.
I'm not sure why I find her fascinating. She seems like one of those people that keep you on edge. Those people who dare you to jump off. It isn't an obsession nor is it an addiction, simply a fascination.
A few questions that Scorpius bothered me about is "Why her? Why not someone else? Does it have to be her?"
The response is that there are other people but, out of all of them, she is more fitting. She get's the seriousness of the situation. Not to mention that 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, above all, she isn't clingy. Clingy isn't good. I freaking loathe clingy.
The rest of the girls... they don't have a reason, a drive to do this. Aaliyah... she 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, desire, 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, but that isn't it. It's a sense of responsibility, the kind that you feel when disaster strikes, and you know you could have done something; you could have prevented some of that, but you didn't. It sucks to feel guilty for the things you did, but the things you failed to do? Yeah, those'll make you feel a hell of a lot worse.
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 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 alright 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 of is how deep in denial he is.
“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 smirk.
“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'm starting to think that I 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 is taking 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 comes to these situations, but it doesn’t. Instead, it makes me feel more awkward when it comes to people telling me about their feelings. Why do people always insist on dumping their emotional shite 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, 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 and I find myself not having no control of it. “This can be a short term thing, or even a long term thing. Hell… we are in Hogwarts, shite 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 close 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 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 thoughtfulness toward 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 trail 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. Apparently, he isn't ready to face Rose. Instead, he is using the strategy of locking himself in our dorm. Very original, I know.
Truth be told, 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 Blaine 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 about 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. The smile stretches further. Victory seems to be surging through me before I can stop it.
“Albus!” This time I stop completely 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's 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 and 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 yelling for 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. 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, wholeheartedly 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 me how I know this considering I didn’t and still don’t know the answer to that question. 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-handedly 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 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 far 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. Her 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 me. 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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