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Not Normal by 800 words of heaven
Chapter 5 : {Chapter the Fifth}
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 28

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You know your life ain’t normal when you’re running around your school in your pyjamas.

To be fair, I always ran in pyjamas – well, almost all my pyjamas. I slept in large t-shirts that usually featured a fandom that I was part of, and boxer shorts, also featuring a fandom I was part of. Sometimes, they were even the same fandom. It made sense that I just slipped on a sports bra and into a pair of running shorts in the morning. Mornings were hard enough without having to think about what clothes to get sweaty in.

After an hour running around the frost-covered grounds, I stumbled into my dorm room at a quarter past eight, insanely glad to find it blissfully empty. I’d of course timed my morning routine perfectly for just this occurrence: alarm at seven; begin run at quarter past seven; arrive all sweaty and gross at quarter past eight; leave for Great Hall at half past eight. I always crossed my fingers that no one had slept in when I needed to use the bathroom. More than one person could use it at a time, but bathroom time is just so personal. I didn’t really feel comfortable with people knowing my routine in intimate detail, even though I knew theirs. That didn’t make me a hypocrite – just well informed.

And besides, there was always this expectation of small talk, even when one’s mouth was full of toothpaste. It wasn’t as if I didn’t like the people who shared my dorm – they were all very nice people. It was just that we weren’t friends.

I headed towards the bathroom to do my morning routine: three minutes for a shower, two minutes for moisturising, two minutes to pull on my uniform, and three minutes to clean my teeth. Regretfully, my need to maximise my sleep time did not allow me to spend as much time as I would have liked on my teeth, but sacrifices had to be made for the greater good.

Then, out of the shower, a last minute check of my bag to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any homework, followed by a mad dash down to the Great Hall, hoping that the flapping ends of my undone tie would not one day fly up around my neck and choke me before I’d even had the chance to have my coffee. That would be a sad way to go, without even the bitter taste of coffee on my tongue.

By half past eight, I stood in the doorway of the Great Hall, surveying the scene. The four House tables greeted me as usual. Most of the students were down by now, and were beginning to settle into their daily morning routines. From what I had observed, they often consisted of finishing last-minute homework, attempting to hold a conversation with their friends, and consuming breakfast foodstuffs at a rate that suggested they hadn’t seen food in days, rather than mere hours. This often occurred simultaneously, which was both impressive and disgusting to watch.

I made my way over to the Ravenclaw table, pausing only briefly to give a sup-nod to Ben, who’d glanced up as I was passing and waved. I slipped into an empty seat opposite Rose and Scorpius, glad that the unspoken rule about always sitting at your own House table had eased considerably since my mother’s time. War sucked, but on the bright side, not everything that came after it did.

I poured a steaming mug of black coffee and listened to Rose and Scorpius’ conversation to see if they were talking about anything interesting.

“… But the timetables are already done for the next two weeks!” Rose cried. She looked a little too stressed for eight-thirty in the morning, even by Rose’s standards.

Scorpius shifted uncomfortably. “I’m sorry, Rose,” he explained. “But you know how Garrett is.” Garrett was a sixth-year prefect and the captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. As a general rule, I ignored anything concerning Quidditch, but Rose looked like she might be one timetabling upset away from an apoplexy.

“I accidentally told him that Al was having tryouts this Friday, so obviously –” Scorpius said it like it was a dirty word. I envied him the talent of making innocent, everyday words sound dirty – all I ever managed was sarcastic. “Ravenclaw just has to have their tryouts on Wednesday.”

“What? So Ravenclaw has a whole two extra days to practise?” Rose asked incredulously. My coffee still hadn’t cooled enough for me to drink, and neither had my Daily Prophet arrived yet, so I stayed silent and continued to listen to their sort of boring conversation about timetables and Quidditch. Scorpius seemed to have the situation well in hand, which was promising, since they were going to be happily married with three kids and a dog one day, but I still stuck around, just in case I was needed.

“The first match is between Hufflepuff and Slytherin anyway!” Rose continued.

“I know that,” Scorpius said as soothingly as he could. Rose seemed to take her timetables very seriously. “But we’ll just have to reshuffle things a little, so that Garrett isn’t rostered for Tuesday night.”

“But how?” Rose practically wailed. I winced a little at the sound. If she practised that wail enough, she could try her hand as a professional mourner at funerals. I’d read somewhere that they had to do a lot of wailing to make sure the spirit of the dead person moved on. Considering how many spirits of the dead were still wandering the mortal plane, I really thought the professional mourners would benefit from Rose’s raw talent at wailing.

“It’s okay, Red,” Scorpius said. He took one of her hands in his and wrapped them in what I assumed was a comforting hold, because Rose visibly calmed at his touch. Her muscles around her eyebrows and mouth relaxed and her shoulders slumped as some of the tension in them seeped away. I was very impressed with Scorpius. Combined with the use of his personal nickname for her, it seemed that he’d finally decided it was time to move their relationship forward. I took a sip of my coffee to hide my knowing smile.

“I’ll swap with him. He deserves to have the patrol right after the tryouts, just for causing you so much worry,” Scorpius continued.

I raised an eyebrow as Rose gave him a warm and somewhat shy smile. “Thanks, Scorp. You’re the best.”

Both my eyebrows rose as Scorpius blushed in reply and their gazes held for a lingering moment. I drank some more coffee to keep from rolling my eyes. I was totally happy for their budding romance and everything, but must they make googly eyes in front of me?

Rose and Scorpius’ lovely moment was ruined by the arrival of my paper. They jumped about half a foot away from each other, and Scorpius dropped Rose’s hand as if it had scalded him as the owl swooped in and settled on the table in front of me. It dropped the rolled up paper from its beak and shook itself to reshuffle its feathers into a more pleasing ‘do as it waited for me to fish out a knut from my pocket. Once the owl flew away with another fluff of its feathers, I unfurled my paper and began to read.

“Ellie! What are you doing here?” Rose asked, sounding as if this was the first time she’d found me sitting in front of her drinking my coffee and reading the paper.

I flicked my eyes towards her in acknowledgement and went back to my paper. I perused the flashing ad about “the sale to end all sales” at Flourish and Blotts. One could practically hear the shouty man trying to declare that yes, this really was the sale to end all sales – the last time had just been a test run. Although to be fair to the shouty man, Flourish and Blotts knew how to put on a good sale – after the school term started. Good thing there was free flying on out-of-store orders.

“Breakfast,” I replied, moving on from the front page to the Births, Deaths and Weddings section. It was probably my favourite part of the newspaper, the one page dedicated to the momentous occasions in people’s lives. It was interesting to see how different people celebrated those moments.

“Didn’t Ben convince you to sit at the Gryffindor table this week?” Scorpius asked as he broke a blueberry muffin in half.

“The Ravenclaw table always has the best coffee,” I replied distractedly. “And besides, it’s all Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch at the moment.”

“Ben isn’t on the team,” Rose said.

I shrugged. “But he used to be, and he likes talking strategy or whatever.”

I lost track of the conversation then as I finished drinking my coffee and reading the paper. My friends were well aware that I wasn’t fit for extended conversation until after the caffeine had kicked in.

As Scorpius scoffed the last bite of his blueberry muffin, I clicked the lid of my watch open and smiled to myself.

“What has you looking so happy in the morning?” Rose asked a little grumpily. It seemed that a disturbance in her precious timetable was still pissing her off, despite Scorpius’ best efforts and all that hand-holding.

“Nothing, really,” I replied. “It’s just that I have a whole extra minute to do up my tie!” It was the little things in life that were important, after all.

“Dear Kepler, how I hate plants,” I muttered as I poked a rather nasty-looking specimen who would rather bite my hand off than grow peacefully. Whatever happened to the good old days, when plants were autotrophs, simply happy to photosynthesise their hours away? Why did some of them feel the need to consume human flesh – more specifically, my human flesh?

“Why are doing this subject if you hate plants so much?” Scorpius asked. The both of us were sitting at a large table near the back, all by ourselves. I think we’d scared all the other students away years ago with our intense and naked dislike for plants. He was my usual partner in Herbology because Professor Longbottom knew that we hated plants equally. I think he wanted us to keep our negative energies away from the other plants. No point in pissing off more of them than necessary. Who knew what plants were capable of when they got into a real huff? They already wanted to eat me alive.

I shrugged and swatted a vine with wicked-looking thorns to stop it creeping up my hand to the sensitive skin exposed between my dragonhide gloves and pushed-up sleeves. Seymour Krelboyne only knew what the plant would do once it got a taste for human blood. “I don’t really know what I want to do after Hogwarts yet, so keeping Herbology seemed liked a good idea at the time. Why are you doing it? I actually think you hate it more than me.”

Scorpius sighed as he poured some soil and fertiliser into a new, bigger pot. Whilst he got his gloves dirty with dirt, I had to keep the crazy human-eating plant entertained before repotting. This was actually fine by me, because I think I hated dirt more than even plants. On an intellectual level I knew that dirt was an important part of any ecosystem. Even the Egyptians knew that one couldn’t grow crops in gold. That’s why they’d worshipped dung beetle, as gross as insects combined with organic waste was.

“Mum wanted me to do it,” he said glumly. Scorpius often sounded glum when he talked about his parents. I had the feeling they expected a lot from him. I was lucky in that way – my only living parent was a Muggle. I’d achieved greatness by simply being able to wave a stick and make sparks come out the end.

“Why did your mother want you to take Herbology?” I asked carefully.

He sighed again. “She loved Herbology when she was at school, so obviously I have to love it, too.”

“Was she good at it?”

Scorpius laughed then. “Oh, Merlin no! She almost failed her OWLs! She was so proud when I got an E for Herbology.” His voice softened a little at the happy memory.

I grabbed the creeping vine a little viciously as it tried to climb up my arm again. “I guess that’s okay, then. You’re free to fail in peace,” I joked, even though failing anything is no laughing matter.

He laughed again.

“So…” I began, in a not-so-subtle bid to change the subject. Talking about failing, even in jest was too much like tempting fate. And I didn’t even believe in fate. “How are Head duties going?”

Scorpius didn’t seem to notice how gauchely I’d changed the subject – he was too busy warding off a creeping vine of his own. The little green buds on his looked to have teeth to rival sharks in razor-like quality. “They’re okay, I guess. Mostly, it’s just patrols and organising the prefects at the moment.”

I paused for a moment, pretending that wrestling with a wayward vine that wanted to drink my blood required all my concentration. How could I bring up Rose and his possible undying love for her so that he wouldn’t think I was being a nosy busybody, even though I was? Should I just come right out and ask him? Perhaps that was a little too confrontational. Should I continue the conversation about Head duties in the hopes that he just indirectly confessed his feelings? That might take a little too long. Should I –

“Can I ask you something?” Scorpius asked suddenly, breaking my train of thought.

“You can ask whatever you like,” I said. “You have freedom of speech, which is always a nice freedom to have.”

“Er, thanks, I think.” He looked a little befuddled, as if his own train of thought had been derailed. He shook his head, and continued, “It’s Hogsmeade weekend in two weeks’ time.”

“Was that the question?” I asked. It didn’t sound like it, but perhaps he just forgot his high rising tone because he was still a little befuddled. I liked to think I had that kind of effect on people.

“No, er… my question is… do you think um… someone might like to go with me?”

Oh my Golgi. This was it. I was so glad I didn’t have to think up any schemes to focus the conversation on Rose. I directing conversation brought up images of natural disasters. “I’m sure someone, somewhere would like to go with you,” I off-handed. Inside, I was doing a ridiculous Irish jig, complete with a ridiculous leprechaun hat.

He didn’t seem to notice my dry tone, the poor bloke was that worried. “Well… it’s a mutual friend, actually,” he continued cautiously. I wasn’t quite sure if he was being cautious because of the vine that he kept eyeing as he mixed in some dragon dung with the dirt, or because he was worried about my reaction.

“It’s Rose, isn’t it?” I asked. It would be super awkward if it wasn’t, and I’d probably have to kill him for breaking my best friend’s heart by asking someone else out. Not that I didn’t respect everyone’s right to love whomever they chose, but still. I owed it to Rose for sticking so long with me.

His eyes widened in surprise, but after a moment his shoulders dropped in resignation. “Is it really that obvious?” he asked sheepishly.

I nodded. “Yeah, a little bit. But only since about the time you hit puberty. I think for all of the first half of second year, you did a marvellous job of keeping your feelings contained.”

He opened his mouth, then shut it, then opened it again. Finally, he said, “It hasn’t been that long – has it?”

I nodded again and patted him consolingly on the arm. After three awkward taps I stopped. Goodness, I thought physical comfort would become easier with practise. Obviously not. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think Rose has noticed.” I glanced at my hand in confusion. Was it something about my technique, perhaps? Was I hitting them too hard or something?

He hung his head dejectedly. Scorpius at least didn’t think my attempt at comfort had been bad, but I don’t think it counted because he hadn’t really noticed anything at all. “It should, but since I was planning to ask her out, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

That gave me pause. I considered his problem as I unwound the creeping vine from around my wrist. All my crushes had either been fictional or unattainable. I hadn’t ever considered a situation where I’d actually want the other person to know that I liked them in that way. There were too many unknown variables for my comfort. What if they didn’t like me back? Or worse, what if they did like me back? Then what did I do? Kiss them? Get a puppy together? Ask them to marry me? What was the socially acceptable response in such a situation?

But this wasn’t about me. This was about Rose and Scorpius. It was about the flavour of their wedding cake, and what colour they’d paint their kitchen, and where they’d go on their first post-retirement adventure together.

“I think that if you asked Rose to go to Hogsmeade with you, she’d say yes.” I decided to finally go with the truth. I couldn’t afford to play with fancy words when it was my friends’ one true loves at stake.

“Really?” Scorpius asked. The poor fellow was so far gone I could actually see the light of hope shining in his eyes. Or was that just sunlight reflecting off the greenhouse glass? “Should I say that it would be just as friends?”

“Do you want to go just as friends?”

“Merlin, no!” He blushed. “I mean –”

“I know what you mean.” Whilst I’d never had the dubious pleasure of asking my crush out, I’d read enough historical romances to know that it was a big deal. The characters were often proposing marriage however, which was a little more long-term than a date at Hogsmeade. That could be the reason for it seeming like a big deal. “If you don’t want it to be as ‘just friends’ then don’t say ‘yes, just friends’ if she asks. If she asks if it’s a date then say ‘yes, it’s a date’. You have to be honest with her, dude.”

Scorpius paused his digging in thought. Then he looked at me. “That was… very good advice, Ellie. Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” I replied, once again acting nonchalantly.

And I wished to be named godmother of your first child. The leprechaun version of me was practically flying at the thought, I was internally Irish-jigging so hard.

AN: I’m so sorry this is such a filler chapter, but I did write it with more stuff happening, but then it was just so long, so I had to cut it in half :( Thanks so much for all the support for the last chapter – it means a lot to me. This chapter needs some serious criticisms, so lay it on me! Obviously, if there is stuff that you liked, mention that too!

PS: Seymour Krelboyne is a character that first appeared in the 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors, which was directed by Roger Corman.

Adios, amigos :D


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