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Chapter 4 : iv. the secret weapon [or] well, i didn't see that coming
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Holly keeps the nature of her idea so quiet I’m beginning to think it was just a ploy to cheer me up, and the others are beginning to scheme.
“We could stick – ”
“No,” Holly says firmly, tossing a ball of parchment at Lester’s face. “I have a plan.”
“Maybe if we – ”
“Stop.” She swats Albus’s hand. “This is my time to shine. Trust me.”
“At least give us a clue?” Albus pleads.
“So we know you’ve actually got something,” Lester says.
“Excuse me, I have something. It was inspired by Louis’ idea, actually…you know what, Raine, I might need your help on this one. I require your scientific mind.”
“I have a scientific mind too,” I protest.
“Nobody appreciates your Potioneer brilliance more than me,” Holly assures me, “But this is Raine’s area of expertise.”
“Report back to us, Raine,” Albus says.
“He’ll do no such thing,” Holly says firmly. “It’ll be as much his prank as mine, really.”
“I get half the credit?” Lester asks, looking pleased. “Aw, thanks.”
“More like forty percent,” Holly replies. “Maybe thirty-five if I’m feeling generous.”
“You’re too kind. What would I do without you?”
“I dunno. We should get a flat next year.”
“I hope you’re including me in this,” I tell them.
“Of course,” Holly says. “We come as a unit. BFFs forever and all that. How ’bout it, Lester? Flatmates?”
“Sure,” Lester says, looking a bit stunned.
“Aw, you’re going to be living with Raine,” Albus says.
“He’s a character,” Scorpius adds. “Albus, they’ve never seen his morning routine.”
“Lester has a notable morning routine?” Holly asks.
“You could set your watch by him,” Albus says. “Bang on six am, he gets up – ”
“The hell are you awake at six am to hear him?” I interrupt.
“We’ve turned him into an alarm clock,” Scorpius explains. “See, because he does exactly the same thing every morning, it’s easy to train yourself to either ignore him and keep sleeping – which is what Tom and Alfie do – or to wake up.”
“Yeah, but why do you need to wake up at six?”
“One of them inevitably has to sneak back to his own bed before everyone else wakes up,” Lester explains, rolling his eyes.
“Ohhhhhh,” Holly contributes.
“We cuddle,” Albus says frostily.
“What? You think we – Holly. We share that dorm with three other people.” Scorpius looks nothing short of offended.
“Yeah, Alfie’s snoring’s a bit of a mood-killer,” Albus agrees. “Seriously though, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve actually – ”
“Albus I don’t think they want to hear that,” Scorpius hisses.
“I think that’s my cue,” Holly says. “Raine, we have planning to do.” She helps herself to the parchment in front of me – “You’re not using this are you, Rosie? Cool,” – and pulls Lester to his feet. “See you guys at dinner.”
It’s actually the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year, though none of us tend to take advantage of them anymore – there’s only so many times you can go to the Three Broomsticks before you get sick of it. The castle in its almost entirely empty state is far preferable to the thronging crowds in Hogsmeade, and we have the common room to ourselves because the first and second years don’t tend to leave their dorms (and if they do, they’re out running riot through the rest of the castle.)
“Rosie,” Scorpius begins with a beaming smile as he shuffles Albus closer to him. “I don’t suppose you have anything to be doing?”
Albus is more blunt. “Leave now if you know what’s good for you.”
I don’t need telling twice. Summoning my books from my room so I don’t have to come back through the common room, I flee for the library. Holly and Lester are at a table not far from me, and I give them a wave and promise not to eavesdrop on their plans.
“Where are the boys?” Holly asks.
“Ah. Good call.”
After my debacle with Potions the other week I’ve been putting more time into studying for it than any other subject, and I like to think I’ve redeemed myself. Professor Llodewick seemed to accept the dual-bottomed cauldron as a one-off mistake, and my classmates are back to giving me resentful looks every time I produce a perfect potion, so no harm done. Now I have to make up for my neglect of everything else, and hunker down with my Ancient Runes textbook until Holly taps me on the shoulder and tells me it’s time for dinner.
Whenever Albus and Scorpius get time alone, they always take a while to readjust to being in the public eye. They spend an inordinate amount of time during dinner whispering and gazing into each others’ eyes , holding hands under the table (I wish I was kidding, but these boys are a walking cliché) until Holly clears her throat and whispers, “Guys. You’re being a bit obvious.”
“So what?” Albus asks.
“Yeah, so what?” Scorpius echoes. “We’ve been sneaking around for three years – ”
“And I’m sick of it,” Albus says decisively.
“They won’t,” Lester whispers.
“They will,” I whisper back, as Scorpius stands on his chair, then on the table, pulling Albus up with him and kissing him.
Nothing in my life has prepared me for the wall of noise that erupts a splitsecond later. Half the Great Hall is on their feet, craning their necks to see or just applauding wildly. People are cheering, and those who aren’t cheering are too stunned to say or do anything. Holly shrugs, getting to her feet and dragging me with her.
“Go you guys,” I call, unsure on the protocols here. “Congrats on your love that we totally didn’t know anything about.”
They kiss on the table long enough for a bunch of Hufflepuffs to figure out a spell to make confetti rain down on them, only breaking apart when teachers start moving in their direction. Stopping just as abruptly as they started, they plop back into their seats and turn their half stunned, half elated faces our way.
“Did we just – ”
“Yeah, you did.”
“You didn’t – ”
“Nobody roofied you.”
“Wow,” Scorpius manages.
“We…came out,” Albus says in wonder.
“You sure did,” Holly confirms, plucking confetti from Albus’s hair.
“You guys didn’t plan this in advance, then?” Lester asks. He looks more confused than the rest of us put together.
“Not at all.”
“It’s almost…hedonistic,” Scorpius says.
“It’s changing us,” Lester says in hushed, dramatic tones. “The scholarship. It’s changing us.”
“That’s not a bad thing,” Albus says.
“No,” Scorpius agrees, looking happier than any of us have ever seen him. “It’s really not.”
We finally see the fruits of Holly and Lester’s extensive labours two weeks later at the first Quidditch match of the season, Gryffindor vs Slytherin. We tag along at Holly’s insistence, sporting our usual Quidditch watching garb of shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “I support no one” and “I don’t care who wins.” Mine says “You both suck,” and I’ve charmed it to alternate between flashing red and gold and green and silver.
Every member of the Enemy plays Quidditch, and we see the genius of whatever Holly’s done the second the game begins, because all five of them seem to have forgotten how to fly.
“What did you do?” I whisper as Lucian Rosier veers out of bounds.
“Just reversed the steering charms on their brooms,” Holly replies matter-of-factly. “It shouldn’t take them too long to figure out what’s happened, but they’ll never remember to steer in the opposite direction during the heat of the game. And the best thing? It’s not unknown to happen to brooms over time, or changes in storage environment, or…anything, really. They can’t trace it back to me, but they’ll know.”
“How will they know it’s you?”
“This is how.” She smiles and winks at Sean Finnigan as he struggles past us. “The deed is done.”
The game is a shambles. The Enemy realise what’s happened and steer accordingly just enough to throw off any suspicion of broom-tampering, but they’re still hopeless at flying. Slytherin’s lost its three Chasers, and Gryffindor its Keeper and Seeker. It’s the best possible situation, because Gryffindor has no defence but Slytherin has no way of taking advantage of it, and everyone on the pitch is steadily getting angrier and angrier until Slytherin’s Seeker finally catches the Snitch and they all stalk off the grounds with fury in their eyes.
I’m pleased to note we’re not the only ones laughing.
Retaliation is swift, targeted at Holly, and a complete failure. It takes the form of Sean Finnigan, who is notoriously good-looking and a total charmer, turning his attentions to Holly in the corridors outside Potions.
“I hope there hasn’t been some kind of…misunderstanding between us,” Sean says with a shy little smile. “The thing is…I’ve always been attracted to you, and…”
“Yeah, nice try buddy,” Holly says, cutting him off. “Next time you try to make a romantic gesture, do it without half of seventh year watching.”
“You can’t say you don’t feel the same way!” Sean calls after her.
“Yes I can, I’m asexual!” Holly waves cheerily as she walks into class.
“Damn,” I hear Sean mutter. “Louis, you dick, I told you it wouldn’t work.”
“I didn’t know she was asexual,” Louis hisses back. “Fuck.”
“I hope they try something else,” Holly says matter-of-factly as I join her in our usual seat. “That was just disappointing. I imagine if I’d said yes, there would have been some embarrassing public dumping or – ” She shakes her head and sighs. “We’re really not competing with the best here, Rosie.”
“More Galleons for us. Also, is everyone coming out now? Is this a thing?”
Holly shrugs. “To be honest, it doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference whether people know I’m ace or not. It’s definitely not as big a deal as the boys.”
To say that Albus and Scorpius’s public display of affection caused a ripple in the Hogwarts community is an understatement. They have, instantly and entirely unintentionally, become gay icons and have to put up with choruses of well-meaning “awww’s” every time they walk into a room. “What do you want?” Albus had shouted when we walked into Potions last week. “We’re just two guys in lo – ”
They’ve stopped holding hands in public because of that, which means that Holly, Lester and I get accosted by the well-meaning student body asking us if Albus and Scorpius are okay, because they seem to be having problems etc etc. I have to refrain from telling them that they seem to be better than ever judging by all the PDA we put up with in the common room. In fact, the only real negative reaction either of them have gotten was from Lily, who marched into our common room the night of Albus and Scorpius’s kiss and demanded to know why Albus had kept something like this from her, she was his sister, they were meant to be close –
“Er,” Albus had said awkwardly. “I didn’t – you know – tell Mum or Dad either…so there’s that.”
Holly, Lester and I had all silently agreed to pretend we hadn’t known either.
There’s a buzz of conversation as the rest of the class filters into the room, mostly along the lines of “I wish Sean would ask me out,” and “I wouldn’t even care if it was a joke,” and my personal favourite, “What does asexual even mean?”
“It means I don’t look at anyone and think ‘God, I want to rip their clothes off,’” Holly explains, but she’s saved from having to teach Sexual Orientations 101 by the arrival of Professor Llodewick.
“Good morning,” he says quietly. “Now, I thought I made myself very clear to you all when I discussed the restriction of Felix Felicis and the legal ramifications for unauthorised use. If you were responsible for the theft of five vials of Felix Felicis from my stores last night – and I know it was someone in this class – come to me after class and return the vials untouched, and I’ll take no further action. Otherwise, the school will have to launch an investigation.”
“Oh, fuck,” Holly whispers.
With a vial of Felix Felicis each, the Enemy have become unstoppable.
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