Chapter 24 : Chapter Twenty Four
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Chapter Image coming soon. Disclaimer: I am not in any way affliated with Malec from Shadow Hunters, Blondie, How I Met Your Mother or The Big Bang Theory.
Friendship. A bond that isn’t explainable. A trust that forgoes social expectations. A title which is often trial and error. Given away feasibly. And broken just as scathingly. Trust is in short supply, Validation is in high demand, but everyone likes to be friends with everybody. Friendship is hardly ever predicted. It’s often just a means to end, and rarely doesn’t survive beyond the playground play date, to the rickety old rocking chairs of age. It’s basically just a survival instinct, safety in numbers; An invite to a party, one step closer to your crush, a foot in the door for careers, someone to bitch too and someone to bitch about. Sometimes we remember when we leave them behind, or lose sight of them in the distance ahead. Sometimes they live only in a dusty forgotten photo album, a sporting statistic or follow us around in the shadows gnawing at the expectations we didn’t live up too. But sometimes the bond lasts; Survives familial rivalries, world wars, insane red headed cousins, removing masks and finding love, without judgement. It’s not easy. Terrifying actually. Of course there are slips. First impressions are what they were. Forgiveness falls easily. Resentment is drowned out by the laughs. Homes are shared with sincerity. Siblings tormented with respect and adoration. Opinions flare and arguments reign, but friendship never really falls.
Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy were never supposed to be friends. But they are.
Rose Weasley was never supposed to fall in love with a… Malfoy. But she does, admittedly extremely begrudgingly.
Chase Adams wasn't supposed to love a boy. But he does.
Lucy Weasley wasn’t supposed to have a backbone. But she does.
Both Al and Lily were not both supposed to be Quidditch captain, in the same year. But they are.
A Malfoy wasn’t supposed to be in Gryffindor. But he is.
Who wants to be predictable, when being ourselves is so much more thrilling?
“Please tell me this is not firewhisky?
“It’s not firewhisky” Al muffles sleepily from beneath his pillow.
“Potter” I sit the offending mug (A Rose Weasley and Lily Potter special, depicting Ace’s love story, complete with animated stick figures) back on the desk amongst the empty bottles. They rattle with continued drunken bliss.
“It’s rainbow sunshine that just smells of firewhisky”
“Inventive” I deadpan.
“It’s currently 6.30am on a Thursday morning, what did you expect?” Al yawns.
“Um… I don’t know… to walk in here and not find you drunk off your arse” I cross my arms, in attempt of the intimidating stance. It’s not really working, especially when the intended has all too often cleaned up after my drunken escapades. Although usually Al throws me a Hungover Potion and my trainers, and he’d expect me to run all my woes off. Maybe at Hogwarts, that might have worked. Ginny Potter employs different consequences however…
“And what would provoke you to seek my counsel at 6.30am on a Thursday morning?” Al inquires disinterestedly.
“Well I came in at a reasonable hour yesterday, only to find an empty bottle of rum and an ice-cream parlour uniform” I hint for an explanation… Although I have learnt sometimes with these Wotters, I’m better off, with plausible deniability.
“I always like to start my mornings with a nice riddle, keeps me sharp” He eludes, with the clever and overly used witty defence mechanism.
“Potter” I warn.
“I’m not mad, just disappointed, I thought we were closer than that” He sighs, dramatically.
I just roll my eyes in exasperation. He’d been like this since Chase’s abrupt disappearance, the five days prior. Snarky and sneaking off, too Merlin knows where.
“Are you sleeping again?” I grumble, after Al makes no attempt to wake up.
“Bed, Doona, Pillow – there’s another riddle for you” He chuckles dryly.
“Clever. Like yesterday, when Ginny found the note you left on the fridge. CYLD.”
“Check you later dude – I thought that was fairly self-explanatory” Al muffles, quite proud of himself.
“Well you know Ginny” I smile wickedly, not that Al could see that of course, with his head still under the pillow, but I’m sure he could predict its existence.
Al sighs resigned. “What horrors are about to befall me?”
And just on cue… The door slams wide beside me… The door was open, but Lily Potter loves to make an entrance. Al falls off his bed in shock and probably a little terror, Lily has instilled the fear of Merlin into her troublemaking brothers. Survival instinct probably.
“Now let’s get crackin’. Shower. Shirt. Shoes. And let’s shove off” The wise words of Mary Cooper, delivered with conviction by the one and only, Lily Potter.
“Yes. Do you want me to show you the badge again?” She gestures to the chosen one badge pinned to her coat. The badge, is a Ginny Potter original, an authoritarian license to keep her children well looked after, when she cannot be there herself. Or in Lily’s opinion, just a physical symbol of the power she already holds over her brothers. If the troublemaker refuses, actions are implemented. Such as the disco shirt jinx (Every 5 seconds shirt changes colour – Not altogether punishable, but after 33 hours straight, it does become quite bothersome); or Spinach Teeth (If it’s managed to be removed from one tooth gap, 3 seconds later it appears in another – But somehow James’ photo still made the Witch Weekly’s Most Wanted Young Bachelors of 2020, it did not deter the fan club either); Wiztunes spell (Every song playing in your vicinity changes to the muggle song One way or another by Blondie, Even if it’s a radio in a shop). And they’re just the ones I’ve witnessed firsthand. Ginny Potter is not a woman to be trifled with.
“Surely you have higher goals in life” Al grumbles, adjusting his beanie, to shield the snow that keeps falling in his eyes. He really needs to learn the spell for that. As if on cue... Lily turns to him and casts it. The underage magic thing, is often broken amongst the New Generation, particularly the Wotters; as in crowded areas, the caster cannot be particularly deduced. Although maybe it's the last name pull.
“Oh, I do. But you know… takes money to get there” She grins.
“I thought you weren’t working this year because of OWLS” Al mumbles resentfully.
Lily has been a casual employee at Quality Quidditch Supplies, since she was ten. Although back then she just spent the day following the Shop keeper around, pestering for a job and impressing him with all the latest knowledge of Broom Research. There is a reason the kids’ a Ravenclaw.
“Oh well you know Albus, times are rough, I’ve got to take all the work I can” she smiles. Al groans.
We made it to Diagon Alley without too much difficulty. James and Jordan were waiting for us at Milk and Mellow; opened a few years ago, it houses the biggest range of hot chocolates in the world. And being winter, the place was as crowded as a Puddlemore United signing.
James pouts “I still don’t understand why I didn’t get the badge” He grumbles in between shovelling mouthfuls of bacon and gulps of Honeycomb Hot chocolate.
Lily Scoffs. “How do you think he got the rum?”
James face deflates. Lily shares with him a piece of her bacon in commiseration.
How lovely these family moments are? Even though they fight like Ministry politicians, compete like elite Quidditch players, and are as shifty and devious as Goblins, they are loyal to the point of insanity. But, after seven and a half years, I’m rather quite fond of them myself.
“Well… Hello… I’ve been… er…waiting for you” Fred swivels around on his shop stool, petting a Pygmy Puff, Barney Stinson style.
We’ve arrived at WWW… Apparently by unanimous vote it was decided to be the perfect place to select gifts for Ginny and Harry. Although knowing them as well as I do, I can’t wholeheartedly disagree, but after the Christmas Carol singing utensils of last year, - which managed to delay dinner for 3 hours, because they didn’t receive the encore and rave review predicted, they decided to sing us into submission – I would be wary. Especially when Fred offers to throw in a little something Extra.
“Is this how you greet every customer? No wonder you failed your evaluation, its creepy Fred.” The ever-honest Lily Potter.
“Oh… Go out and come back in. I’ll think of something else” Fred grins and swivels back around. Nobody obeys, Lily’s already wondered over to the Quidditch section, completely enchanted.
“So, where’s Uncle George?” Al poses, whilst scanning the latest Quidditch tricks himself. Although George usually sends them both anything of consequence to Hogwarts during the term, they are after all, the greatest publicity. Not that the shop really needs it. Business is booming. They even have an online shop now, and a few stores in the U.S.A. Fred went to visit one summer, he came back with an American accent, although I think it had more to do with the accent chewing gum, rather than his 4 week stay.
“Gone to fetch something for mum” Fred reveals excited and swivelling back around in his chair with a round of pumpkin juice shots. Lily approved this time around, but gave him some future tips. After all she is the queen of retail. Once, I went in with my Dad and we grew victim to her smooth talking and extensive broom obsession, ended up walking out with this dodgy old broom that hadn’t moved for centuries. Claimed it was a relic and one of a kind and there’s nothing dad likes more than something no one else has. He hasn’t grown out of all his teenage troubles.
“It’s not a vase of flowers that change with her mood, again is it?” Jordan fears. That was another Christmas disaster, resulting in the petals starting a rebellion of plucking hairs off all our heads, to clarify the hidden horrors they suffer. Love me, Leave my lock of hair alone!
Fred smiles fondly of the memory “Na. His decided to think outside the box this time”
We all shudder apprehensively…. When has George Weasley ever been near the box, let alone inside it?
“He called in an expert.” Max clarifies appearing from another room, with Lucy beside her. The store is so big, I wonder how they keep track of all the patrons.
“She made him empty his pockets before they left” Fred continues quite offended at the insinuation that his dad would be carrying anything that wasn’t completely necessary.
“Rose always means business when she shops” Al laughs. Finally, and quite genuinely too. Hopefully that might earn him back the points he lost at breakfast.
“Well that explains why she couldn’t come shopping with us then” James concludes. Although I think my presence might play a pivotal role in that particular outcome rather than her schedule. I haven’t seen her since Monday when I had to rescue Al from a Hogs Head Bar fight, which was mildly easier that handling her and Al the night prior. She delivered a few of the decorated Christmas trees on Saturday after the Hunt. It wasn’t momentous. She mainly just asked about Chase, she was right alongside Al earlier, shouting expletives ready to take on the Ministry to rescue Chase, although so was I and everybody else. And then came the - I’m all good note. Which he continues to send every morning, so we know he is alive and apparently all good – whatever that means.
“The tree is leaning a little” Jordan goes to push it up. I’d say from the purple snake tinsel and green star at the top, this one is Roxy’s.
“Yeah… Tibby spilt a love potion on it. Apparently, it was a tragic love” Fred mourns. Jordan gives him a pat.
Lucy then proceeded to inform us about Molly’s latest dramatic break-up. The guy found her cheating on him with his brother (who is also a top tier Quidditch player, and just happens, although I’m sure it’s completely unrelated that he wears the Captain pin). Anyway, apparently now she’s throwing a fit that the family needs to be uninvited to the Christmas Party as she is just too distraught about Nathan, (Not the ex-boyfriend, the brother) because he hasn’t called her back after their steamy night together in the locker rooms.
We then spent the next few hours turning the shop upside down to find the perfect gift. Resulting in Ravenclaw hair for Albus, apparently telling Lily her ideas are stupid, isn’t the way to win her over. However, Max and Fred were overjoyed to have another member in their rainbow hair club.
With the cleverly placed distractions of Fred, Max’s magnificent product demonstrations, Lucy’s family fiascos, and James’ nervousness about Jordan’s parent’s gifts, I’d say we’d nearly eased Al’s troubles for at least the morning… That was until a group of Puddlemore United elites came in. The glazed off look was back and an uneasy and equally telling frown.
“Want to leave?” I nudge Al’s shoulder.
He ignores me and instead turns animatedly to the rest of the group, “How about another round of pumpkin juice?”
“We’re out of pumpkin” Fred frowns, feeling the weight of his apparent failure of playing host.
“No worries. Scorp will fetch some” Al suggests pointedly, with a slight edge in his voice. The Pepperup potions sure wear off quick these days.
I nod in assurance to Fred and grab my coat, and with last minute requests for something more sustaining to eat than pumpkin juice, the cold and snowy street greeted me. Diagon Alley was filled with Christmas to the hilt. Small tents potted the street; selling trinkets, jewellery and potions, with last minute shoppers bobbing in and out of the bustle. Lights, carollers, and mistletoe everywhere. And the bauble parade. A new addition the last few years, children waddling around in extremely colourful costumes, tired of waiting for their cue and taking up a round of sumo wrestling, it was quite an entertaining sight to see, although I’m sure not in the way the creator intended.
After filling my arms with plenty of food to keep the Wotters at their normal range of hyperactive, I began my trek back to the shop. Finding passage through the throngs of shoppers wasn’t an easy undertaking, however it was a newspaper headline that hitched my breath and stopped my path, rather than the rude senior who just bumped my shoulder sending the food to the ground in a mess.
Roses are Red,
Collins is Blue,
Oh, Miss Weasley!... How many have you?!
By Harriet Skeeter, Junior Writer.
The Gryffindor and Ravenclaw at odds? What does Scorpius Malfoy think? Continue reading for all the dishy details.
I could have kept walking. Maybe, I should’ve. But I didn’t. Witch Weekly, is very keen on visual connotations. Manipulated or not. However, in this case, wholeheartedly authentic. There was photo’s. Which of course a student at Hogwarts must have graciously donated. It wasn’t just a mundane capture of breakfast in the Great hall, or even in class when we ended up seated at the same table. It was a triple punch hit. Aesthetically set, the first photo illustrating Rose and Collins walking to the train, grinning whilst she shares her scarf, it’s like a happy ever after photo. Mr right, meets Miss Right and the rest is coloured Roses. Literally, that’s the caption. The second, definitely not a Disney moment. The same day, same girl, same train, different guy. Me. It’s just after I punched Chase. And there we are, eye to eye, pushed up against the train door, caught together. And just because they couldn’t resist, the final photo, says it all. There’s me, punching Collins and tearing the scarf off him in one swift movement.
I hand the owner of the stand a $100 Galleon note and Incendio the pile of witch weekly trash.
People barely noticed the flames. The owner doesn’t even bat an eyebrow. Christmas creates complete tunnel vision. No wonder shops have started to move online, although the Owl office isn’t as converted.
I turn to pick up the remnants of the food. It’s slightly icy, but it will suffice.
“Out feeding your hero complex? Wow you must be hungry Malfoy” The voice spoke with such malice and disdain I wasn’t surprised when I turned and there she was, Rose Weasley glaring at the ashen pit of snow at my feet, where the smallest shreds of paper had begun to disappear in the wind and snow that continued to weather on around us.
The dark amber of her hair was nothing compared to the fiery hatred emanating from her eyes. What does she expect me to say? Does she want me to just walk past? Does she want people reading that rubbish about her? The masses feed on gossip. One exaggerated story to the next. I wouldn’t have an answer that would appease her. Nothing I ever say simmers the argument. But maybe that’s why I appreciate our moments so much. They’re never dull. So, I decide on the reply that would erk her the most. Indifference and unapologetic.
I shrug, “I was cold.”
Her glare hardens. Her teeth chatter ever so quietly, “You’re not my boyfriend.”
Her words cut like she carved them too. Not that it showed. Not that it would ever be any different. A vine of mistletoe flowers awkwardly above us. We ignore it. I shrug it off and grin. “Does that get me out of buying a Christmas present?”
Rose Weasley doesn’t need a saviour. She makes her choices. She handles the repercussions. However, no one should underestimate the power of a cutting remark. Especially on a person, whose reputation is Kevlar skin. Maybe one day, she’ll let me in. Or someone else. Today however, she offers her gratitude with malice.
Her frown, twitches of the smallest fraction. Definitely chalking that a win.
A hand claps on my shoulder. “Scorpius, good to see you mate” George Weasley appears, breathless and a little flustered beside me. His hands are covered with glitter. Before I think any more on it, a loud POP sounds from a shop a few stores down. Zonkos. WWW Long standing competition. And with it, rivalry.
“Which one did you go with?” Rose turns towards the rush of Zonko customers and staff overcrowding the street further. She moves closer towards us as the throngs of people begin speedily dispersing to escape the havoc.
George grins, “the bauble.”
Her abrasive expression softens completely. Laughter and amusement finding home once again. “How festive” she grins.
When George conveyed the story later to the others, whilst they fed on pumpkin pasties, tarts and juice; exaggeration, pride and pure boasting was heavily anchoring each word. It was an alleviating moment that was appreciated by us all.
And finally, after a further scorer of the shelves at WWW;
“It’s tacky” Lucy observes sceptically.
“Mum would hate it” James smiles happily.
“Dad would buy it” Al winks deviously.
“Perfect” Lily agrees satisfied and hands Fred the money.
“Seriously?” Jordan shakes her head in bewilderment.
The perfect gift has been sighted, seen and sold.
Thank Merlin. I left without a second glance back at the exasperating Red Head, who had been trying to catch my eye all night.
Christmas Eve dawns on most with a fluttering of merry, joy and ginger bread. Anticipation breeds for dreams and miracles, like yawns on a Monday Morning. For me, it’s another day of sneezing (the trees), drinking (the Eggnog) and exhaustion (the festivities). Malfoy isn’t a family you associate with Christmas carols, holiday smiles and cherry, the reality is much less colourful, with gifts wrapped without ribbon but strings, which stretch for miles and tether for decades. Mum has managed to break in a few new traditions, like Santa Hats and Snowman Cakes to scale. However, the last few years, the healers pull beckons, so I explore other dinner tables. The Wotters, well they engage pretty much every emotion one could align with the Holiday Season. Lily was up early adding the finishing touches to her eggnog. The Potters do employ House Elves, and they are substantially supported with salary, accommodation, vacations, health benefits and clothing allowance. A few of them have taken up Quidditch and started a club with other elves on the Potter Pitch. They adore Lily, who spends hours talking over her latest tactics and plays and they always stand by her when Al and James attempt any reconnaissance. That’s loyalty right there.
However, Christmas Eve isn’t only about the fireplace awaiting and the stocking fill up… This year it delivers Percival Weasley’s long sought after dream of hosting the Christmas Ball, however, walking into the kitchen to find Hugo Weasley Hungover and drunk, I think it’s going to be a long day.
“Should I even ask?” I venture, whilst pouring coffee. Lily and Hugo attended a Christmas bash of their own, the night prior. Much less champagne and serviette holders and more kegs of beer and a mosh pit. Ah. The wonders of teenage debauchery.
“Shhh” Hugs mumbles into the table.
“Right” I grin and take a seat beside him. He’s in hiding, I’m guessing in her likely equal alcoholic induced state, Lily managed to comprehend the wrath of Hermione Weasley, and decided avoidance and retreat is the most suitable strategy.
“You know… I’d appreciate if you lost the smug grin” Hugs mutters irritably.
“Of course,” I smirk into my cup. James and Al did their best to dissuade Lily and Hugo’s attendance at this particular party, as they would not be present for security purposes. Due to a past incident with unforeseen consequences, involving an umbrella, Rose’s hand sanitizer and the hosts long golden locks, us Gryffindor’s are now blacklisted. Although we all know Lily Potter can handle herself, all too well. James and Al just need little reminders, which usually results in a jinx or two.
“Hyperion” he warns.
“Hugsie” I return.
“Arghhh!” He groans.
I lose the smug grin and summon a hangover potion.
“You’re over thinking it” I console with encouragement.
“You remember what happened last time?” He splutters down the potion.
“Yes. But you’re a totally different person now” I grin. Hugo is sadly becoming known for his enthusiastic alcoholic induced state.
“That was two weeks ago!” His head falls to the table with a thump.
“Exactly. Your rate of ageing is just far superior to others.” I explain. There is a reason Hugs himself belongs to the House of the Raven. He perfected wandless magic at age 7. Rose is only slightly envious of that fact. Slightly.
He doesn’t reply.
“What did Lily do?” I try a different tract. As a fifth-year Potter female Quidditch captain, she shoulders a lot of judgement. But as a best friend, she can’t help but lightly torment Hugs, especially when he’s becoming completely ridiculous.
He sighs. “Like any embarrassed friend, she dragged me home before I could do more damage”
“Are we talking damage like, someone ate the last baked potato or the time we flooded the dungeons and we had to have class in little boats for a week?” I question empathically. That was a great week. The time of the last Baked Potato not so much, it may have been at a Christmas Dinner with the Wotters, it ended with a food fight. Although I think that particular outcome would have surfaced with or without Fred’s impulsiveness.
“We snogged,” he deadpans.
“Then her boyfriend arrived,” he continues.
“And I no longer existed.”
“Pretty much.” His head falls to the table again.
The her in question, is one Alice Longbottom. A main feature in Hugo Weasley’s life, since they met and she hit him with a beaters bat, many many years ago. They’ve proceeded to hate each other since. She thinks his obnoxious. He thinks she’s barmy. But you know the fine lines between love and hate, they blur with tension, and the wondrous influences of liquid courage.
“What am I going to do tonight?” He frowns.
Ah. Yes. The boyfriend who beholds the affections of the lovely Alice Longbottom, just so happens to be the Minister of Magic’s Son, Jacob Harris. Hufflepuff’s Quidditch Captain, head of the Arthimacy Club, Astronomy Star Watchers, Library Conservation and Environmental Committee. Despite his growing resume, the guy is a complete dung beetle. However, I imagine the Minister for Magic and his family would have been the first invitee on the list for Percy and Aubrey’s debutant ball.
Hugs eyes grow alarmed. “Actually, don’t answer that. I’m having Natalia Hopkins Flashbacks.”
“I’m entirely without fault” I defend, albeit a little light heartedly.
“Hyperion” Hugo counsels. “Devilled Eggs have actually been banned from the Hogwarts kitchen. Never has the great hall seen such a destructive display of retribution. And you remember it lived through a war, on the front lines.”
“Such a pity the eggs got the poach.”
“Clever. Unlike your wondrous womanizing ways.”
“Hey. Like I said I had nothing to do with it. I was being perfectly respectable.”
“Yeah. Until Rose happened.”
“You talk of her like she’s this hurricane that swept through our lives, and we’ll never be the same again.”
Hugo smirks “Well, isn’t she? …At least to you?” Hugo Weasley, never just asks a question for an answer. In all likelihood, he already holds the truth, and is likely searching for some other unspoken phenomenon.
“You’re never very subtle are you Hugs.”
He sighs defeated, “Well what can I say? She drank the Eggnog”
And before I could question, what they hell that had to do with anything, Lily’s footsteps sounded, so Hugo proceeded to do what any reasonable person avoiding an unfriendly-ish discussion with Lily Potter would do, he jumped into the fire place and disappeared.
"Hugo you're fidgeting"
"Fidgeting Is an involuntary reflex of the nervous system Rose."
"Interesting. My heel is a five-inch stiletto."
"Wow you're short."
"Get to the point quicker hugs. Or should I say the pain." I narrow my eyes.
"Why are you in such a bad mood? Prince Charming literally showed up with a glass slipper. And you love Christmas." Hugo grumbles, gloomily crosses his arms and pointedly looks out the window.
"Irritability is sometimes a reflex of the nervous system too.” Prince Charming pipes in for Hugo, I glare at him hard.
"We're here." Mum smiles from the front.
"I'm not ready." I grab my purse and start digging, mum doesn’t do a make-up crisis. Thankfully, news of my latest tabloid appearance hasn’t reached her extendable ears. A ploy by the legal team of Witch Weekly I’ll wager.
She nods, then smiles, "You look beautiful dear."
"Thanks, you too Mum. I just need a minute." I grin back, Hugo scoffs.
"I'll wait with you." Prince Charming suggests, appearing quite alarmed and un-ready himself.
"Merlin No. It’s literally the only reason I’m here. Don’t muck it up" I warn.
He huffs but gets out nonetheless.
"I now see why you fought hard for the car instead of Apparation." Hugo observes amused.
"Beats hiding in the bushes." I sigh and close my eyes. Happy place… Happy place… Roses are red… ARGH!
"We can't hide in here all night." Hugo counsels. I would kick him out too, but then I’d be alone.
"Why are you hiding?"
"I'm not hiding. I'm mentally preparing."
"Did you guys have a fight or something."
"He seemed fine this morning."
Thankfully I managed to keep the pathetic did he mention me from blurting out. Instead I went with...
"Alice likes you. She just doesn't trust you."
"And what exactly is reassuring about that?"
"You have your problem, now fix it."
Hugo sighs, then strikes, "He isn't going to wait around until you figure out he's good enough."
Now I’m ready to kick him out.
"And that's why Alice doesn't trust you." I bite back.
"There's no point waiting on the sidelines if we're not in the league, Rose." Hugo harshly delivers as he slips out of the car. Although seconds later his hand reappears, ready to help me out.
I clutch my purse, disembark and the mask slips on.
Seven and a half years. Al and I have been friends. We didn’t start with the best of beginnings. The setting: the waiting room, at St Mungo’s after a particular burst of uncontrollable magic from the very young Lily Potter. The family came running through the doors, with James Sirius Potter’s legs and arms simultaneously swapped, Al following closely behind with a wickedly smirking Lily. Soon after they disappeared behind the double doors, without a glance at me. I’d seen them in the papers of course. There wasn’t a soul in the wizarding world who didn’t know of them. The waiting room was abuzz with speculation and awed smiles of being witness to the famous family. It had been a particularly glum night, because dad was supposed to finish three hours prior, as it was my birthday and I’d got a new broom that morning. But it was still grounded beside my Quidditch gear covered, miserable self.
If he hadn’t enabled the parental age charm, I would have totally just bailed. But alas, there I sat. Regal, A little arrogant, accomplished, Quidditch obsessed me. Alone. On my birthday.
Well until someone threw a fireball charm at my broom. Al, a little nine-year-old, dived for it. And so, did I. This was like, life ending. We flattened the flames eventually. Then spent the next 3 days in the burn unit becoming best friends. Last names and all. Eventually we did decipher the flame thrower, a six-year-old was housing a baby dragon in its pocket. Of course, we both blamed Lily. We soon regretted it. With both our parents’ heavy schedules, we didn’t see each other all that much. Hence, I didn’t meet Rose until a few years later. But that’s a whole other story.
Al is my best friend. He saved me from being alone on my birthday. He saved me from dreading Hogwarts, to counting down the days. He made me proud of my house. We pulled pranks together, got recruited for Quidditch together. He welcomed me into his life, his home, his family. We had arguments of course. Like when I told him to just give it up and snog Chase already. Rose and my, loud discussions. Or when he asked me to be there when he told his family. He always made me feel included. One of them. And when you meet Albus Potter, you always want to be one of them.
I knew when he needed to cool off after a particularly brutal Quidditch loss. Or not to interfere when Chase and he were ‘breaking up again’.
Which is why, walking up to the CEB Coerced Ego-induced Brag-Fest (alternatively known as the Christmas Eve Ball) I knew things weren’t right. Al arrived home late again, shabbily threw on his dress robes, inhaled a lung full of floo powder and hasn’t spoken much more than a ‘James pass me the flask’.
No one wants to be here. They know they’re just props. But there’s a certain etiquette about family and ministry officials. Although Percival and Aubrey Weasley missed that memo.
Chase hasn’t sent a word today. Which I’m guessing might have something to do with Al’s sombre presence. But then, the letters don’t really make him dance with happiness. They aren’t addressed to Al Potter, but the family. Kind of a tad impersonal.
“Oh Merlin” Al groans beside me.
It was definitely impressionable. Paparazzi everywhere. Red carpet and all. I think Aubrey Weasley has been watching too many Muggle awards shows. There is even a place to stand to be photographed for the society pages. Harry and Ginny were pulled back. But we all made it through relatively unscathed.
We descended into an indoor/outdoor ball room… The Ice queen has out done herself. There’s an ice rink, alive with skating performers, fencing in the mingling crowd. Which was full of stuffy nosed ministry workers, with their expensive haircuts and 10,000 Galleon Watches and 500,000 galleon trophy wives. The air was practically putrefying. We were seen, scanned and simply forgotten, everybody could simply read about us in the tabloids. My dating diary, Al’s relationship status, Lily’s Quidditch Game, James’s lack of leadership commitment and Jordan’s famous muggle family. Tantalizing truths you see… Normally they wouldn’t invite ‘kids’ to these sorts of events, but Percy and Aubrey have daughters, and are on the lookout for some meat.
“Let’s just find a seat” Lily marches on forward. We diligently follow.
“Hey, You! You’re Lily Potter, aren’t you?” A voice stops us with a clipboard, a slightly familiar voice. “Yes. You’re seated on Table 24D” he continues, cheerily, like all the people in this room, would enjoy being told what to do and that there social standing has allocated them a particular positioned seat. “You there” (James) “you’re 20A, and Blue (Albus – because of the hair, Aubrey hasn’t spotted it yet), you’re 18F….” He goes on.
We’re all on different tables, apparently, they thought we weren’t worldly enough, and needed some over privileged, highly educated and respected stuffy nosed politician to ensure tables of debilitating conversation.
“Thanks, but here looks good” Al plonks down at the nearest table, grabbing two glasses for himself, from a passing tray.
“A. Potter is seated at 18F” The guy repeats, growing a little annoyed.
Al chugs down one of the drinks, then winks “Who says I’m A. Potter?”
The boy rolls his eyes. He does look a little familiar. He probably goes to Hogwarts. “I don’t live under a rock” he scoffs.
Al shrugs “I don’t judge people based on real estate”
“How philanthropic” the clip boarder deadpans.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Al was flirting. However, I do know better, and his actually just extremely pissed off.
“Mr. Potter, 18F!” The chaos ensues. People are starting to stare.
“I don’t belong there” Al grabs another drink.
“You don’t belong here!” Mr. Clipboard, swiftly grabs the glass from Al’s clutches. And then downs it all in one gulp. Gutzy.
Al stands. “You realize who I am right?”
Not shaken in the slightest the guy points to the neat scrawl, ‘A. Potter’ eloquently placed under Table 18. Seat F.
There’s a pause. A moment where deliberation is required. Maybe Al, will move.
Instead, he smiles. “Ever heard of Polyjuice Potion?”
Needless to say, the seating plan was the first thing to go to hell.
The 18F place card has nested in shreds under Al’s collected number of empty glasses. The grinning clipboard Aubrey minion is keeping close, even directing full beverage trays away from Al’s awaiting hand. Fortunately, he hasn’t noticed.
“Looks like you have an admirer” Lily smirks. We’ve all joined Al at table 18, and for some reason, we haven’t been kicked off it yet.
Al doesn’t bother with a response. Jordan disappeared to find Rose or Lucy. Neither have been sighted yet.
Harry and Ginny have joined us now. The others are either hiding or haven’t arrived yet.
“We need to give a speech” Harry begins. We all back away in horror.
“For the opening, with the three of you on stage with us” Ginny finishes.
Lily and James begin spluttering excuses.
“Where’s the damn flask-”
James searches his pockets in fluster. Lily searches the crowd with her fists clenched ready to pummel the idiot who thought this all up.
Everyone turns to Al.
He just shrugs with complete indifference.
“Suddenly found your stage presence eh?” I grin.
He laughs bitterly. “Everyone’s already going to be talking anyway, may as well be a Gryffindor about it.”
Lily and James turn straight back, and continue to argue their defence.
“Well I’m not a Gryffindor!”
“and I really should stay with Lily, us gryffies do not conform to discrimination.”
Chase isn’t here. And I’m guessing from the whispers passing, they’ve noticed. It doesn’t bother Al, what they say, of course maybe to a degree. But it’s more, that it bothers Chase. And he can’t understand why Chase thinks there’s even a monument of truth in any of the trash they print. He tries everything to quell the insecurities. After all, I’ve heard the spiel more than once.
“I don’t understand it. Chase is way better looking. He gets infinitely better grades. He can duel better than anyone in our year. Except maybe you and Rose after a particular harrowing argument. He can out fly anyone, including me. His strong, and brilliant and innovative. And he chose me. My potions constantly blow up in my face. I can’t tell a flobberworm from a Jelly slug…. to save my life and I’m a dreadful cook. I break things. I’m clumsy. I break a bone, nearly every time I get on a broom. However, I am on the Quidditch team, and captain, which is either a death wish or my destiny, I’m going with a combination. I say all the wrong things. What is he worried about? I don’t deserve him. I’m Albus Plonker!”
I smile at the memory as Al throws down a firewhisky as the waiter slips past with a tray. Hell. Another clump of people arrive, some quite familiar. The clipboard tossed on the nearest table, forgotten.
“He might turn up” I smile into my own drink.
Al frowns. “Would you? Chase hates these things. I hate these things. It’s not something you come back for.”
“Maybe not. But you are.” A voice behind Al mutters amused. Not the argumentative insistent voice from before, but the deep rumblings of Chase Adams.
The air grows thinner. Al’s face grows paler. The rest of us eyes grow wider.
Al slowly turns and there he is… Chase Adams, in the flesh. Tensions built, days have passed, opinions voiced, it’s time, they’re ready.
Then a glowing Percy Weasley appears and whisks them all away. Including a still gob smacked Al with blue hair, leaving behind an apprehensive Chase and disappointed Scorpius, ruining everything.
“Good timing,” I congratulate. “Well apart from the five days’ delay”
“I was sorting stuff,” Chase shuffles. Never is the guy more nervous than at… Ministry social events aka cattle herding.
“Is it sorted?” My eyes narrow.
“Why going to hit me again?”
“No. You showed up.”
“I was visiting my sister and mum,” He confides, looking at Al, whose expression had transformed to impassiveness, then amusement. Lily has successfully disappeared Percy’s moustache. Classic, Wotters.
“He knew where I was.” Chase begins.
My brow furrows in confusion.
“He has Pip’s good favour, and Mum’s nurses on his side,” Chase explains, with a small smile.
“Well that doesn’t surprise me.” I take another gulp of my drink.
“I didn’t want to mess up again. I didn’t want anything holding me back,” He defends.
“Family stuff never seems to be sorted, it’s like an ankle weight, we have to drag everywhere,” I pessimistically reply.
“Maybe. But at least I’m not running from it all anymore,” He smiles. “I’m running too something, someone.”
And then I said something completely cheesy and lame. Must have been the alcohol. “Well then, go get him.”
Chase looks at me in confusion. I gesture to the stage. “What? Now?” he asks.
“No… I’ll just talk to him afterwards,” He decides. Keeping that Gryffindor courage safely tucked away, in his pocket. Albus wears his on his sleeve. Me, I think I lost it sometime in third year.
“They’re in the middle of the speech,” he tries reasonably.
“Al’s just standing there… waiting for you.” Well more like staring daggers at you, but really, it’s all the same.
“You belong up there, your family.”
“So are you.”
“I’m guarding the table, it seems we have a guy with a clipboard watching us, who is very strict about these things,” I wink. Chase just rolls his eyes.
“What about Jordan?”
“She would much rather stand back and mock James for it later.” We both look to observe, Jordan filming James stage show, with complete mocking delight.
Chase sighs. “I’m not…” He starts.
“You’re worth it. You’re Chase Adams. Don’t throw it all away because you can’t believe it or can’t buy insurance. We’re wizards. All the indemnity you should need, you already have. He gave it all to you, when he told the world he loves you and let you eat the last Bludger Biscuit. You’re always going to fit, up there with them, because you’re you, Chase Adams.”
“People will talk.”
“Ah. The humanitarian fault.” I agree. “Let them have their gossip and misconceptions, you get the real thing.”
“If I didn’t need to hear it, I would totally be mocking the love guru thing you’ve got going on.” He laughs nervously. “So then… In front of everyone?”
“And… What about you? Going to take the same advice. Although she isn’t in the best mood.”
“No.” I mumble into my drink.
“So, I’m supposed to risk it all, and humiliate myself alone?”
“Isn’t that what love is?”
Chase’s eyes widen in horror. But he squares his shoulders back, takes a big calming breath, then gallantly waltzes to the stage, grabs Al’s shirt and snogs him squarely on the mouth. Blue hair and all. Malec style. I stand and start the applause.
“Who knew Scorpius Malfoy was a romantic?” The ever-angelic voice of Rose Weasley teases behind me. She looks stunning. But I already knew that of course. Her voice a light contrast to yesterday in Diagon Alley.
“Oh, I do” a sultry voice teases from my right… and suddenly dark brown eyes and dark skin fill my vision, and her lips land square on my mouth.
She pulls away and wickedly smirks.
“Wow. You grew up good” she winks whilst twirling mistletoe.
A/N: It’s been 332 Days. I am so sorry. Life has been especially crazy, I’ve moved. But I haven’t forgotten Crazy Romantics and I intend to finish this fic. I’ve written many versions for this chapter, but I’ve just never been happy with it. So, I just decided to post a sort-of tidy blend of them all. Fingers crossed it works. And because I’ve been especially absent, the next chapter is right behind that red button that hides in the bottom right corner, please read on. I will endeavour to win your trust back.
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