Chapter 4 : Let me in I wanna be your freind
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The week flew by and before they knew it, they were all prepared to face their exams.
Well…some more so than others.
"'What are the three basic uses of Snargaluff Pods?'"
"Umm...wait give me one second, I know this one."
"Come on Al," Erin sighed. "We've been over this a hundred times. You should know it by now."
"I know, I know, just give me a moment." He put his head down, mumbling to himself. Erin watched him expectantly for a moment before he let out a groan and, grabbing his text book out of her hands, began to bang it repeatedly on his head.
"Stop, stop! That's not helping anything," said Erin as she sniggered at Al's theatrics while struggling to wrestle the book from his grasp.
"You never know, it might decide to fly out of the book and lodge in my brain." He chuckled at her struggle to steal the book from him as he moved it further out of her reach and above his head. This didn't impede her determination and she became so aggressive that she ended up half on top of him. They continued arguing and laughing until Albus finally relented after she threatened to tickle him.
"Ok, ok, here. You can have the book."
She smiled at him as she sat up to take it, only to have him pull it away at the last minute.
"On one condition," he said with a devious look in his eyes.
"Oh fine, what one condition?"
"If I did better than you on the Transfiguration exam, you have to get your dad to use cooling and warming charms on the path leading to and from Herbology."
She stared at him, a shocked and slightly hurt look on her face.
"Al, you know I can't do that. That completely goes against my rule, my one rule Al."
It was a general consensus that Erin made too big a deal about never using her position to ask for favors, but she had remained adamant. Ethan was normally more than happy to put in a good word for people, but Erin was always surprised by this and refused to do the same. Not widely known by their friends, was that their older sister, Alice, had been shamelessly used by a boy during her 5th year. Erin hadn't been in school yet and the details were kept within the family, but a few close friends knew that she had been crushed by the boys actions, and that it had to do with him using her for her connections before leaving her the second he got what he wanted. Al was close enough to her family to know all this. He looked slightly guilty, but persisted.
"I know that Erin, but we've been friends for years. Do you really think I'm only in this friendship for my own selfish gain? It's not even that big of a request, and the only benefit I get is a more comfortable walk to and from class a few times a week. Besides, do you even know who my father is? I would hate for someone to use me to get to him, so believe me, I know how you feel."
Erin looked at him with an unreadable expression on her face, as if she were processing what he had said. The only indication she gave that she was thinking it over was the fact that she was slightly chewing on her lip. Eventually, she relaxed, having come to a decision.
"You're right, I know I can trust you. It's just hard to change when you're set in your ways."
He looked at her sincerely and gripped her shoulder for a moment in silent support. He could be like that sometimes. Yes, they had their moments when they bickered, quite a few of them in fact, and he spent the majority of his time speaking without a hint of sincerity, but she knew it was all a front. He was one of the most kindhearted people she knew. He'd been that way since they were kids, but as he got older, he developed more of a devil-may-care exterior to help shield him from the pressures that surrounded him. This made the moments when he was truly open with his feelings mean so much more to her.
"Ok, fine, I'll do it, but if I did better than you, you have to jump in the Black Lake at the beginning of next year."
He considered her for a second with pursed lips and a furrowed brow, trying to keep from smiling. She knew he would find this a small price to pay.
"Fine - "
He gaped at her. There, not so simple now is it, Potter?
"You can't be serious?"
"Oh, but I am," she said with a cheeky grin. "Don't worry, you can do it under cover of night and we can use the fact that Rose and Scorp will no doubt be heads to our advantage. And I'll do my best not to peek."
He rolled his eyes at her. Not one to run away from a dare, Al considered her offer. They were evenly matched in Transfiguration after all, and he felt pretty good about how he had done on his exam earlier that day. Where was the harm? He really hated that walk to and from Herbology after all.
She was slightly surprised that he agreed so quickly, but shook his proffered hand.
They returned to studying for their exam and were soon joined by Rose and Scorpius as they left Arithmancy.
"How'd it go?" asked Albus as they approached.
"Not half bad," responded Scorpius. "Those study guides were a life safer."
"Yes, and a lot of hard work you put into them too," said Rose, rolling her eyes at him. "I do believe that I ended up filling out about half of yours."
"Only because you're an incredibly generous person."
She glared at him but a slight blush had risen to her cheeks.
"Flattery will get you nowhere. And don't expect the same treatment next year. N.E.W.T.s are far too important for you to just slide by."
"I'll have you know that I take my studies very seriously and have every intention of putting forth a full effort next year. No more funny business," he responded in a pompous manner.
"Mate," said Albus, "you spend half your time in the library as it is. There's hardly any funny business for you to abstain from."
"Then I'll do my best to keep it that way," he said with a smirk.
"If you lot are done carrying on about your superb studying habits," came Erin's dry remark, "we have an exam to get to."
Al froze in terror. "Shit, I'm not ready for this. Erin, punch me, hex me, anything to send me to the hospital wing for a few hours so I have more time to prepare."
"Should have thought of that before you spent most of last night playing exploding snaps with Hugo. Let's go drama queen." And she dragged him off to what Al seemed to believe was his doom.
Rose and Scorpius continued on to the joint common room to get in some last minute studying before Charms, which would be taking place the following morning.
Exam week continued in much the same way. Al would panic at the drop of a hat and Rose would worry about how he was possibly going to handle next year if he was this affected by sixth year exams. Caleb, Molly, and Jill seemed to be handling the pressure of O.W.L.s relatively well, but Louis was about to crack under the pressure. Everyone took turns keeping an eye on him until finally, he ran out of the entrance hall and onto the grounds, collapsing under the shade of the birch tree by the lake after finishing his final exam. The other three were closely behind him and Ethan, Dom, and Eva had barely been seen all week before they emerged an hour after the fifth years, having completed their final N.E.W.T. They joined them on the grounds and pretty soon, everyone else started trickling out as their exams began to finish. The last to join were the sixth years, having come from Defense Against the Dark Arts. They all began to relax and enjoy the freedom that the summer months promised.
Looking around her, Rose saw the three seventh years looking more carefree than she had remembered seeing them all year. Dom and Eva were laying in the grass, their robes discarded, as Ethan chucked stones into the lake with Louis and Molly, competing to see who could throw the farthest. Lucy was chatting with Jill about the Transfiguration O.W.L. while Bobby listened, and Hugo, Lily, and Caleb took turns tossing things in the air at each other to try and catch with a levitation spell. Charlotte looked like she was sleeping as she lay on the ground next to Lucy with her arm thrown over her face. It was rare that they were all together at the same time. As the years had gone on they had definitely grown as a group, although last year would have been the biggest they had ever been with the added presence of Roxy, Fred, James, Violet, Lorcan, and Lysander. The younger ones hadn't hung around with them as much that year, but they would try to all eat dinner together once a month, a tradition that had continued throughout this past year. The Potters and Weasleys were also a very welcoming group, and their clan had expanded to include quite a few more people other than family. In fact, it seemed as if for every one of them, there was someone else who had joined the group. Rose looked over at her best friends and realized that Erin had yet to sit down and was watching her older brother.
"Ethan?" she called. He stopped his rock throwing to look over at her. He went to grab his bag and robe and moved to join his sister.
"Sorry you lot, but I'm afraid we have to be off." He gripped his sister's shoulder and she smiled thankfully at him.
"We're needed at our Great-Gram's," she said to the group at large. There was a swarm of movement as people got up to say goodbye.
"Really people? We'll see you all in a few weeks for the get together at the manor," said Erin as Lily gripped her tightly.
"But it's not the same as seeing you everyday," Molly said as she timidly walked up to hug Ethan goodbye.
"I guess not," said Erin, and then tears started to gather in the corners of her eyes.
"Bugger it all, I'm going to miss you lot," she said, gripping Lucy and Charlotte at the same time.
They eventually broke away from everyone and made their way to meet their dad in his office where they would be flooing home before heading to their Great-Gram's house. Everyone was silent for a moment before Scorpius gave a clap of his hands and addressed the group at large.
"Anyone care for a swim?" Everyone wholeheartedly agreed and they made their way back into the castle to change. Three hours later, 14 young witches and wizards had dragged themselves indoors after a much needed afternoon of relaxation and carefree enjoyment of the beautiful summer afternoon.
The train was set to leave the next day, and Rose felt strange to be taking a train ride with one of her best friends absent. She had ridden to and from Hogwarts with Erin every year, and they only had a handful of trips left to take. This time, she, Albus, and Scorpius were joined by the 4th years in their family, along with Charlotte and Bobby. There wasn't quite enough seats for all of them, but Hugo and Bobby were sat on the floor playing exploding snaps and they were all taking turns playing the winner. Hugo was currently on a three game winning streak.
"Cheer up, Rose," said Hugo, as she again released a heavy sigh, gazing out the window at the rolling hills. They were bathed in the warm hues of the setting sun, and the picturesque scene was making Rose feel even more nostalgic.
"We never ride the train together. There's no way we'd all fit if Erin were here. Just enjoy the time you get to spend with your little brother."
She rolled her eyes at her brother as he shot her a cheeky grin, his temporary distraction causing him to lose the game as the stack of cards blew up in his face.
"Yes!" Bobby exclaimed, raising his fist in the air. "Nice run mate, but it was bound to end sometime. Alright, who will take next?"
Al moved to join Bobby on the floor and Scorpius slid over to occupy his vacated seat next to Rose.
"You know," he said, barely above a whisper. "This time next year, we'll be heading into the rest of our lives and leaving Hogwarts behind. Scarey thought that, isn't it."
"Are you trying to distract me with thoughts even more depressing than the fact that one of my best friends isn't here and she's currently dealing with a hardship? You know how much Erin loves her Great-Gram. This won't be easy on her."
She hadn't taken her eyes off the window as she spoke. He sighed and spoke again.
"That's why she has friends like us. We'll help her get through it, you more than either me or Al. Besides, you'll probably get to spend as much time with her this summer as you normally would. If I know Erin, she'll want a distraction from the pain."
"You're right," She said before collecting herself and turning to look at him.
"Thanks for the reminder. I can always count on you to at least try and cheer me up."
"Well I hope I succeeded this time. You've been a right bore this whole trip."
She scowled at him but soon started chuckling at the extremely pleased look on his face.
"See! Mission accomplished," he said, sounding extremely proud of himself.
"Alright, you've successfully managed to distract me. So, what are your plans for the summer?"
"Well," he began, "other than the plans I have to see you lot, I'm going to spend some time helping my father out with some business endeavors. He knows I'd like to take a more active role in the business one day, and there's always more to learn about potions. I know mum wants to spend time with me as well. She's talked about taking a week long trip to visit Aunt Daphne and her family at some point. I haven't seen the twins since last summer because they were sick over Christmas so I'm sure they've doubled in size by now."
Scorpius was actually very close with his family. His father wasn't the softest of men, but he made sure to do right by his family, Scorpius in particular. He never pressured him to be anything other than himself. He had a harder time getting on with his mother, who unintentionally pressured him to bring good repute to the family, but she really did only want what was best for him. His mother was very close with her sister and they normally spent holidays with her family. Scorpius got along well with his cousin Corbin, despite some of their differences, and his little sisters, who had just turned five that spring, doted on Scorpius.
"I'm sure Evelynn and Emmaline will be thrilled to see you. I'd love to meet them someday."
"They'd love you. They are fascinated by anyone whose hair is a different color than the black locks their entire family shares. Your fiery curls would about do them in."
Rose laughed as he tugged on one of them.
"I heard that!" Lily suddenly exclaimed. Rose and Scorpius tuned back into the conversations going on around them. Lily was glaring and Hugo, Al and Bobby. The latter two were still playing their game while Hugo was leaned in close so they could talk quietly amongst themselves. Upon her words, Hugo looked up with an innocent expression on his face, Al ignored her, and Bobby tried and failed to look anything other than quilty.
"Heard what?" Hugo asked with a voice that didn't sound as nonchalant as he probably hoped it would. Al shot him a look at his complete lack of ability to remain calm.
"What you were planning. Don't even think about spoiling girls night this year. Rose and Erin can do magic now and I wouldn't put it past them to use it against you if you try anything." Lily was pointing a warning finger at Hugo. He wasn't always the best at pulling pranks off, but he was a terrific planner. They could always count on him to be one of the masterminds behind whatever devious things the boys had in store. Hugo raised his hands in a defensive position.
"Hey, you have your traditions and we have ours. Don't get your wand in a knot over it."
Lily continued to scowl at her brother, cousin, and friend as the boys got back to their game and Charlotte attempted to distract Lily from her current disdain for the male species. The rest of the trip passed in relative peace and ended with Bobby claiming the title of "Snap King" with a total of 5 wins. Lucy, who had always been rather timid, came in last with none.
"If you want, I can teach you how to play sometime," Bobby said at the look of disappointment on Lucy's face. They had just finished the last game and she had lost again in a spectacular fashion. The train had pulled into the station and they were all preparing to make their way to the platform. Lucy continued to frown as she put the book she had been reading throughout the train ride into her bag.
"I know how to play," she said. "I just can't get the hang of it."
"Well then I can teach you how to get the hang of it," he said, as if it were no big deal. She laughed lightly.
"I'm afraid I'm a lost cause. Molly is ace at Exploding Snaps so I've played many a time in my life and I'm not sure I've ever won."
They were now on the platform and she could see her family gathering a few yards away. Rose, Hugo, Al, and Scorpius had left ahead of them and were already greeting their parents.
"Well, if you ever change your mind," he said with a slight smile on his lips. "I'll see you in a few weeks, alright?"
"Alright," she smiled at him. "Bye, Bobby." And he waved at them before hollering out a farewell to Hugo and wandering off to join his parents and younger siblings.
As soon as his back was turned, Lily gave Lucy a backhanded smack on the arm. She turned to face her, looking surprised and slightly hurt. Lily was watching her with a hand on her hip and a sassy look on her face.
"That boy was straight up flirting with you and you couldn't even take the time to notice and respond in kind."
Lucy stared between Lily and Charlotte with a dumbfounded expression.
"Wha - what are you on about? We were just talking about a game! A game that I can't even play mind, which is hardly an attractive quality. He probably thinks I'm pathetic, actually."
"Luce," said Charlotte, with more patience than Lily, "a boy doesn't just offer to spend his time teaching a girl something if he doesn't like her. It's some male ego thing. They like to feel needed. And Bobby was definitely trying to make a move. He definitely gave you an opening to take things a little further. Besides, he seemed keen to spend more time with you." Lily was nodding her head in agreement.
"Girls, please," Lucy said with a roll of her eyes. "We're friends, of course he enjoys spending time with me. I think you're reading too much into this."
And she turned and continued walking towards her family. Charlotte and Lily shared a look before following. They all saw each other a lot during the holidays. They would make her see sense eventually. Besides they were only heading into their 5th year. They had plenty of time.
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