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Chapter 8 : Problem Number Eight
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“Okay. Does everybody have a pen and a paper?” James looked expectantly around the Gryffindor common room, where his family, and of course me, were gathered to discuss the odd behaviour of Albus Potter. It was actually quite a large gathering. Roxanne and Hugo, fourth years had sneaked in from the Ravenclaw common room, Rose, Louis, Lily and Fred were of course here, since they were Gryffindor’s and fifth year Lucy had attended the meeting by sneaking out of the Hufflepuff common room.
It was one big family reunion, sans Albus Potter of course.
You’re probably wondering why I’m here. Well, since I’m playing a big role in helping him out, and of course being counsellor, my presence here is necessary.
Or so I’d like to think. But let’s just pretend it is.
It was after midnight, so luckily there was nobody in the common room except a few tubby cats which belonged to some of the younger kids, but besides that it was just the Potter-Weasley clan and me.
“Why the hell would we be having paper?” Lily asked, her eyes drooping, but still managing a hot glare at her oldest brother.
“To jot down points.” James said, it as if it was the most obvious thing to bring to a family meeting.
“No James,” Lucy said, looking bored, twisting her strawberry blonde hair around her fingers, “Nobody brought paper.”
“I can get some though?” Rose offered.
James sighed, obviously at the fact that things were not going as he had planned and the lack of coordination of his family members. “Yes, please do.”
“Freddy go get it.” Rose said.
“What?” Fred’s head snapped up, “Why me?”
“Because I told you to!”
“James told you to get it!”
“No, I offered.”
“Well, since you offered, you go get it!”
“But I’m tired!”
“Louis you get it!” Fred said, looking annoyed.
“ENOUGH!” James cried, raking a hand through his dishevelled raven black hair, looking more frustrated than ever, “We’ll just do without the paper!” Louis and Fred looked quite satisfied with that, while Rose glowered. I stifled a snort.
“Okay,” James said, “I have new information about Albus that may potentially help us figure out whatever the hell is wrong with him.” James recounted the conversation that we heard today between Albus and Nathan. After he was done, nobody said a word. Until Fred decided to break the silence.
“Maybe Nathan dumped him for another pair of thugs?”
Everybody groaned. James glared at Fred frostily, “Either come up with useful suggestions or shut up.”
Fred looked hurt, “Well how do you know that’s not the truth?” James didn’t bother with an answer; he instead looked hopefully around the rest of his family members. Everyone seemed wide-awake now, but not any of them had a single clue.
Everyone looked around at each other’s faces and came to the same conclusion as I did. Lily decided to take initiative and spoke up, “Honestly, James, I don’t know. I wish I did. But I don’t.” Lily shook her head sadly.
“Anybody else?” James asked weakly, even though he already knew the answer. He turned his head to where I was seated next to Rose, “Rocky?” I sighed, feeling terrible that tonight, I too, would be disappointing him.
“Sorry James, but I don’t know.”
* * *
“So!” Nell bounced up and down on the bed, excitedly and turned her head towards Rose, who was setting up the blasted rusty looking alarm for tomorrow morning, “How was your date with Matthew?” Rose froze midway, dropping the alarm clock on her lap and her hands hanging in the air.
“It was fine!” She squeaked, resuming her efforts to set up the alarm. I didn’t know why she didn’t get a new one already. I mean that thing had been spoilt for years since it gave off the shrillest sound you could ever hear and plus it didn’t even ring half the time. Every night the poor girl went to sleep, hoping that the next morning Satan would ring and she would be able to get ready on time.
“What you guys do?” Nell asked, curiously.
“Went on a date.” Rose stated evasively. I rolled my eyes, snorting slightly while Nell glared at the redhead.
“I so totally didn’t know that.” Nell snapped.
Rose groaned, turning her head towards my bed, where I was so comfortably settled, giving me a pleading look. She was never the chit-chatty type like Nell and being forced to talk wasn’t exactly her part of her plan. I shrugged lightly at her in a manner of saying ‘I can’t do anything about it’. She sighed.
“Nothing. We had breakfast, walked around Hogsmeade, talked, had lunch, walked some more, spoke some more and then we had tea and came back to the castle.” Rose droned monotonously. “That’s what we did.” Nell didn’t look impressed.
“What did you talk about?” I rolled my eyes once more.
“Leave her alone, Nell. It’s already two in the morning.” I said, while looking at Kenny who was peacefully snoring away on the bed beside me.
“Thank you!” Rose exclaimed, getting into bed and snuggling under her thick white blanket to get comfortable, leaning over to switch off the night lamp.
“Okay!” Nell said, “But one last thing! Did you have fun?”
Rose contemplated for a couple of moments in the darkness while Nell and I waited for the verdict. It was quite intense actually, when you think about it. Finally she said, “It wasn’t the best date ever.”
I smiled in the darkness. Yep, Scorpius still had some hope.
* * *
A week passed and November finally arrived, bring it’s gloomy weather and cold wind towards the castle. Most of the people had soaked up the last of the sun in October and now preferred to stay inside the heated castle rather than being exposed to the November chill.
But November didn’t only mean the cold weather and lack of outside activity, to most people it meant: Quidditch. Quidditch season began in November and luckily for us, Gryffindor didn’t play the first match. It was Slytherin versus Ravenclaw. Although that didn’t stop James. Staring from the end of October, we had practices practically everyday, sometimes even in the blasted cold morning air where everybody would be freezing their arses off. James didn’t particularly care though. His determination to win this year was to the maximum and nothing would come in his way. Not even his “wimpy team players”.
Let’s just say Fred wasn’t too happy by those choice of words and that day James came back with a broken and bloody nose.
Seth wasn’t too impressed when James handed him one of the napkins from the great hall to wipe the blood off his face.
“James,” I asked, shivering, wrapping my red and golden Gryffindor scarf more tightly around my neck, “Why the hell are we here?” The entire Gryffindor team was currently sitting in the wooden stands, which were absolutely freezing by the way, getting ready to watch the Slytherin versus Ravenclaw match.
“Hmm?” James was too busy peering into his omniculars, looking around the Quidditch pitch.
“ROCKY ASKED WHY WE’RE HERE.” Fred leaned towards James and shouted into his ears. I guffawed when James squawked in surprise, nearly falling of his bench. I guess Fred was still pretty miffed.
“Ouch! What the hell was that for?” James exclaimed, rubbing his ears and looking incredulously at Fred. He shrugged.
“Just thought I’d help Rocky out.” He said, grinning, looking at the rest of the team, who were all convulsing with laughter.
“Great.” James said, irritated, “I heard you.” He snapped his head towards me, “We’re here to observe tactics.”
I snorted. Sure. Observe tactics. James already has spies placed around practices who ran errands, when anybody asked them what the hell they were doing there.
“Like we need to do that.” I scoffed, “You already have spies who give you the details as to what their new plays are.”
“They’re not spies.” James said, “They’re bird watchers who just happen to be there when other teams are having Quidditch practice.” James gave me an innocent smile.
I gave him a look. “Okay fine,” James admitted, “They’re spies.” But then his voice rose, “But we’re not the only ones playing dirty.” He had a point there.
Quidditch in the past few years had gotten extremely dirty. Every match was fortified with fouls and spies were everywhere. Only last week James caught a first year Hufflepuff who was sneaking around the locker room, taking pictures of James’s tactic board.
“You have a point I guess.”
James flapped his hand near me, nearly smacking me in the face. “Shh. They’re starting. Take notes everybody. We need to be the best we can be.”
Albus Potter and Helena Marcus walked onto the pitch from either sides, meeting in the middle, shaking their hands tightly, both their faces grit in determination.
This is going to be one long match.
* * *
Like that was any sort of a surprise. Albus caught the snitch in about an hour and Hufflepuff gave up half way through because they didn’t want to play dirty.
“Okay guys,” James yelled, “Practice once again tomorrow morning.”
All of groaned, shooting James a bunch of dirty looks and trenched off towards the changing rooms.
I had my session with Albus right now!
I let out a moan, and jumped into the showers, having a two minute bath in freezing cold waters and putting on my robes as fast as I could before running back towards the castle.
Never had I been late for a session before. Like ever. I was quite ashamed, to be honest. I mean, they’re counting on you and you show up late is just rude.
“Sorry!” I gasped, entering the class room, where Albus Potter had already seated himself in the front bench. He simply raised an eyebrow and said, “Quidditch practice?”
“Yeah.” I panted, sitting down across him, “Your brother’s on warpath.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“From you.” He gave out a small smile.
Huh. Who knew? Albus Potter had a sense of humour. But sense of humour or not, I still had to figure out the reason behind his mysterious behavior.
I racked my brains to the best I could, after all the exhaustion that was layered all over it, I finally came up with something. It had ‘bad idea’ stamped all over it, but right now, it was all I had.
“Look,” I said, trying to make my tone sound as desperate as possible. “There is a reason you’re sitting here right now-“ His expression turned stiff, “And I need to give some sort of an explanation to McGonagall about your behaviour, so can you please, erm, kind of help me out here?” I trailed off pathetically.
“I don’t think it’s any of her business.” He stated, coldly. “Or yours.” Albus added pointedly.
That’s when I lost it. People were getting anxious here to know what the hell was up with this kid. None of his family members could get it out of him. The teachers here were being absolutely useless and all the responsibility here was on my head, giving me the arduous task to figure out the roots of the situation.
Patience was virtue, it was said. But, to my standards, I had been patient enough and I wasn’t taking the ‘soft route’ anymore.
“What is wrong with you?” I cried and his eyebrows shot up to the edge of his hairline, taking refuge behind his black fringe. I don’t think anyone had spoken to him like this recently. Or ever. “You act like you don’t care and all that jazz but I’ve seen you! I’ve seen how miserable you look! Why do you pretend as if you’re okay when you’re shutting everyone out?”
“I am fine!” He shouted, getting up to his feet, shooting me a withering glare. “What do you know about me? Nothing! Stop assuming crap and pretending to be a know it all.”
That stung more than it should have but I didn’t let it get in my way.
“I know enough,” I shot back, “I know that people are trying to help you. I know that they care even though you think that they don’t. So please, give me some credit.” At this point, I realized that at some point, I had stood up as well, and we were now in each other’s faces, close enough to hear each other’s rapid breathing.
“I’m out of here.” He spat at me, turning round on his heel and stalking out of the classroom.
I sunk into my chair, feeling thoroughly frustrated.
Maybe shouting wasn’t the best idea.
* * *
“So, I’m guessing your session with Albus didn’t go well.” Was the first thing Scorpius said, when I entered the great hall.
“Gee,” I muttered, “Since when did you become Sherlock Holmes?” I looked around for the other loons I called my friends. “Where are my other peeps?”
“It’s only seven,” He reminded me, “We’re early.”
We sat in silence for a couple of moments, helping ourselves with the delicious, mouth-watering delicacies that lay on the table, until Scorpius cleared his throat.
“So,” He acknowledged, gruffly, clearing his throat “Do you know how Rose’s date went?”
I raised an eye-brow, “That was a week ago.”
“Well. How did it go?” Yes, thanks Scorpius. Not like I didn’t hear you the first time. But I decided not to avoid his question any longer.
“Wasn’t the best date ever.” I quoted Rose, taking a bite out of my mashed potato, looking at Scorpius carefully.
To my surprise, Scorpius gave a rare wicked grin, but tried to hide it as soon as he saw me, looking at him with surprise.
“Oh, okay then.” He said, as nonchalantly as possible.
I looked at him suspiciously. “What did you do?”
As a reply, Scorpius shoved down a large piece of chicken down his throat.
“Scorpius.” I said, warningly.
It took a few moments before he could say anything because he did have to swallow the poor chicken down his throat in order not to barf it out on my face.
Thank merlin for Scorpius having a brain.
He cleared his throat, “I may have spiced up their date.”
“Let’s replace ‘spiced up’ with ruin.”
“I didn’t ruin it!” Scorpius looked offended as if I had insulted his cat Tibbles or something.
Did Scorpius even have a cat?
Bad example. Never mind.
“Well,” Scorpius said, “When I saw you and James sneak off-“
“You saw that?” I asked, sheepishly.
“Yes,” Scorpius continued, “I decided to go check up on Rose. I sneaked away from everyone else and went over to Three Broomsticks where Rose was looking bored so I decided to help make their date more interesting.”
I’m not sure that I wanted to hear the rest but my curiosity was burning inside me so viciously, I was afraid that I would be death’s guest if I didn’t know what happened.
“Let’s just say that a few chairs were pushed around, drinks were spilled and people were not impressed.” Scorpius looked extremely satisfied with himself.
This information led to a grin forming on my face. I’m not sure when this particular development took place but Scorpius liked Rose.
As simple as that.
It was kind of cute actually.
I resisted an ‘aw’ and placed a smirk on my face instead of a sloppy smile that I would have normally given. “Why don’t you just admit you like her?”
Scorpius choked on his food. “W-what?” He stuttered, his already pale face becoming even paler, prominently highlighting the freckles on his nose. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“You like Rose!” I sang, my smirk widening. “You like her. You like Rose!”
“I do not.” Scorpius hissed, glaring at me, “I wonder what gave you that idea!”
“Besides your utter and complete infatuation with her leading to completely delectable acts of jealousy, nothing, nothing at all.” I acknowledged.
“It’s not jealously,” Scorpius scoffed, “I simply did it because I care for a friend.”
“Whose soon going to be your girlfriend,” I snorted and Scorpius shot me another dirty look.
“Rubbish,” Scorpius uttered.
“Hey guys!” Rose greeted us happily, “How was Quidditch practice?”
Scorpius didn’t reply. Instead he was staring at her as if he’d never seen her before, his expression shocked.
Excuse me while I die of absolute and complete cuteness.
“Fine,” I said quickly, to avoid any sort of situation, “James has gone crazy though.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard,” Rose said, heavily, sitting down beside Scorpius. Her hand brushed Scorpius’s arm while sitting and he went even more rigid than he was before, his eyes frozen.
I resisted a smile and looked down at my plate, stuffing more mashed potatoes into my mouth in order to avoid embarrassing poor Scorpion here.
“Hello?” Rose waved her hand in front of Scorpius’s face, a flicker of worry appearing on her face, “Are you okay?”
As though a dung bomb had fallen on top of his head, Scorpius shook violently, shaking his head sideways forcefully, as though he was a dog trying to shake the water off his wet fur.
“Yeah, fine.” His voice was strained, “I have to go.” He got up swiftly, giving us a quick wave, and ran out of the great hall.
“Well that was odd.” Rose said, looking after him, looking concerned.
“Tell me about it.”
Rose didn’t ponder. “So, how was the session with Al?”
“Not good,” I heaved a sigh, guilt coursing through my veins, “We ended up yelling at each other.”
Rose didn’t look miffed. “Oh. Well that sucks.”
“You’re not mad?” I asked, astonished. I thought Rose would be like James, expecting quick results and I predicted that she too would be mad at me for the lack of development that was taking place in the entire situation. I mean, the only progress that had been made was that we’d manage to have one proper decent conversation.
Albus is angry and I am impatient.
I’m not so sure we make such a great combo.
We’d probably be one of those buy one, get one free combos. You buy something and you get a shitty prize along with it.
“No,” Rose exhaled, giving me a small smile, “I’ve known Al since I was a baby, so, I didn’t expect him to cave so soon.”
“Why don’t you tell James this?” I grumbled under my breath.
“James is stubborn and is blinded by his love,” Rose remarked, “It’s no point trying to convince him.”
“Good.” Rose said, “Not stop worrying so much and eat.”
I love this girl.
* * *
“I’m sorry.” Were the first words that came out of my mouth as soon as Albus Potter entered our usual rendezvous, three days later.
Albus looked startled and I was pretty surprised myself. My brain had laid out a couple of scenarios as to how today would go and this was certainly not one of them.
Either it was us yelling at each other. Or, it was us talking calmly and rationally after we had done our sulking. Or it was just sitting and cutting the pieces of palpable silence with a bread knife.
We were actually holding bread knives.
My brain is weird like that.
But me saying sorry as soon as he walked in was definitely not one of them.
I looked down in embarrassment, the blood climbing onto my cheeks, after a moment of silence where he stared at me as though I’m some sort of lunatic, various expressions that I was unable to decipher crossing his face.
I began counting the number of light brown circles on the vintage contrasting dark brown tiles, slowly under my breath, waiting for the moment of shame to finally get over.
A while later I heard, “I’m sorry too.”
I looked up to see Albus with his hand buried somewhere in the back of head, in his messy black locks, looking slightly discomfited.
“You are?” I asked, blankly. Never in a thousand years did I expect this reply. I knew that I had crossed the line he had drawn last time I didn’t think he would be so forgiving about it.
“Yeah,” He said gruffly, “You were trying to do your job.”
“And it was wrong of me to yell at you.”
I had a reply in mind but instead I abruptly asked, “Was I right?”
Albus looked confused, “About what?”
“About saying that you being miserable and pretending to be okay when you’re not?” I said, clearly, without a hint of fear in my voice that I’m sure would have been present a few weeks ago. Days ago, in fact.
I realized what the problem was. I wasn’t doing my best. I was certainly trying, yes, but Albus was stubborn and I realized that the only way to get past his wall was to be straightforward and get with it.
At least with us yelling at one another, we had made some sort of progress.
And it that was what it took, then that’s what had to be done.
I expected him to shout at me again but instead he remained silent, pondering over his thoughts, until he finally admitted, “To an extent.”
“Oh.” And I knew that was all I would get out of him today and it was enough.
“But please,” His tone was loud, but it was desperate and determined, “You may some of parts figured out, but stop interfering in my life.” His green eyes showed a hint of anger but his face conveyed nothing but fortitude. “I know you’re doing this because James and McGonagall told you too, but if I’m ever ready, I’ll tell them myself. Not you.”
I held up my hands in surrender. “Fine,” I said, simply. I desperately wanted to go against him, but I knew that that would make things even worse.
He relaxed a little bit. “Good.”
We sat there quietly, listening to the sound of the wind howling outside and the rain splattering against the glass windows, deep in our thoughts, until it was time for dinner.
I stood up and faced him. “So, you want to join us Gryffies for dinner?”
He looked as flabbergasted as I felt at the moment.
How did I even think of that? My brain is clearly calling all the shots today. I’m not so sure that I’m okay with this.
"Did you just invite me for dinner?"
“Yep,” I said, slowly comprehending the idea and the consequences of what I had just said, “I did.”
I have no clue.
“Because,” I said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, “You eat alone every day. I’ve seen you. And I don’t think that’s healthy.”
His voice rose, “I told you-“
I held up my hand, “I’m not snooping into your life. I just think you need a friend.” I shrugged, “It’s just an invitation. If you don’t want to come, expect a pity party from me.”
I finally understood what my brain had been subconsciously planning the whole time, piecing together the information that I had gathered and the emotions that were a consequence of it.
I had felt bad for Albus Potter. I felt bad that he had nobody to talk to or hang out with except himself.
That was the only explanation possible.
Once again, silence was among us until, “Okay.”
A genuine smile spread across my face. I was actually happy that he had accepted the invitation. “Great.” I smiled widely. “Come on then.”
Albus, who still looked a bit shocked at himself, followed me out of the classroom and we made navigated ourselves through the castle corridors towards the great hall.
“So,” He said, awkwardly, “What are your friends like?”
I snorted. “Well, two of them are your cousins. And the rest are pretty normal.”
“Huh.” Albus murmured softly, looking slightly nervous. This nervousness surprised me a little, because I always thought he was someone outgoing. You know, not afraid to meet new people. Then again, he had barely been himself these past months.
“Don’t worry,” I smiled encouragingly, “You’ll fit in fine.”
We entered the great hall, making our way to the Gryffindor table, with a bunch of odd looks being thrown our way which clearly said ‘why is Albus Potter with you’. I tried to ignore these looks as much as possible, but they kept swarming into my mind and I began wondering what sort of a reaction would I get the next day. I looked at Albus beside me whose expression was completely neutral.
We reached our usual seats, where Jake and Louis were having an argument, with Nell in the middle looking thoroughly bored.
“Pink is better!”
“No, Fuchsia is a better colour!” Jake argued, banging the table with his fist, while everybody else, sans Louis and Nell, convulsed with laughter.
“I’m so sorry I brought up this conversation.” Nell muttered to herself.
Albus looked at me. “Normal eh?”
I gave him a sheepish look. “Most of the time.”
“Hey guys!” I interrupted loudly, before Louis got shout out his retort. Everyone’s head turned towards me, looking stupefied. All of them just gawked at Albus and I, as if we were some exotic zoo animals.
Jake was the first one to recover. “Albus Potter!” He grinned widely, “My, my, you look much bigger than when I see you near the Slytherin table or on the Quidditch pitch.”
Scorpius followed, “Don’t freak him out Jake.” He sounded amused. He scooted closer to Kenny who was still in a state of shock and said, “This is the only seat left. The one next to Ro here, is Rocky’s.”
“He can gave it if he wants.” I offered.
“No,” Albus said, looking tense, “I’ll just sit next to Scorpius.”
I took my place and we all began chatting. Jake and Scorpius tried their best to include Albus in the conversation which I was grateful for, but he mostly remained quiet. Rose and Louis were a bit unsure as to how to go about the entire thing, but they did chip in as well.
I’ll admit, I was slightly disappointed. I hoped he would fit in immediately but I guess not.
But, then again, baby steps.
Just baby steps.
* * *
“Thanks Rocky!” Third year Helen gave me a smile and bumbled out of the classroom.
I smiled. Knowing that you’ve helped someone out is always such a wonderful feeling. It makes you feel all nice and warm inside.
I began packing up my stuff when I heard a voice at the door.
“Can I speak to you for a moment?”
I turned around to find myself looking at tall, blonde haired girl with a slim figure to die for. She had piercing blue eyes, ones that I was sure I had seen before, with high cheek bones and a long nose. She basically looked like a supermodel.
After a moment of staring at her, I recognized those blue eyes. They were the same as Nathan’s.
“Aimee Hendricks.” I said, wondering what the hell she was doing here and what could she possibly want with me.
“Yep, that’s me.” She smiled, revealing her pearly white teeth.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, trying my best not to sound rude.
“I’m here to talk.” She said.
A/N: Ooh, look, a cliff hanger. I've never left a cliff hanger before! I'm quite excited about this one! So what did you think of this chapter? What do you think is going to happen next? Personally, i'm quite excited for the next chapter! :D
Do leave a review if you have the time :) Even if it says 'good story' - i'll be flattered :3 See you guys next time xx
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