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Chapter 9 : In Which Scorpius Is A Moody Cow
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As the weeks went by with no sign of Cassie, I started to accept that I was stuck spending increasing quantities of time with Albus Potter. Between prefect patrols, Potions classes and his ability to turn up wherever he wasn’t really wanted, it was inevitable that I would see quite a lot of him.
Something I hadn’t anticipated was the arrival of Rose Weasley in my life.
Rose seemed happy enough to take the few prefect meetings we’d spent together, and the occasional Herbology lessons we’d ended up working as a four with Al and Joe, as an invitation to a new friendship. She took Al’s friendliness as a sign of approval, and frequently joined Scor and me in the library or at mealtimes, hilariously not recognising Scor’s intense dislike of all things Weasley.
“Hey, Liv. Malfoy,” she said, sitting down with us at the Slytherin table for lunch and helping herself to pasta. Her hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun, and her bag was open because it was too full of books to zip shut.
“Hi,” I said. I looked pointedly at Scor but he grimaced and didn’t say anything.
“So, Liv. Laura Brogan’s been asking me about you,” Rose said.
Another thing Rose had decided not to recognise was my dislike of Al’s adoption of ‘Liv’ as a nickname. I’d always been ‘Ollie’ to my friends, and ‘Olivia’ to everyone else. ‘Liv’ felt strange and unwelcome. I didn’t bother correcting her, too preoccupied with the fact that Laura Brogan had deigned to take an interest in me. It couldn’t mean anything good.
“What? Why?” My mouth was full of mashed potato.
Across the table, Scor looked disgusted. His parents brought him up to have better table manners than I have.
“I’m not really sure. It’s nothing to worry about. I’ve been telling her you’re absolutely wonderful.”
“So she probably hates me?” I wrinkled my nose. Laura Brogan seems to hate most people.
“Oh, almost certainly. I told her Al thinks you’re prettier than she is,” Rose said in a matter of fact voice.
Scor laughed and then coughed to disguise the fact he’d found her funny.
The strange thing is that I think Scor and Rose would actually get along very well if he was willing to try. I find Rose a bit irritating. She’s a bit too nice and a bit too clever and while she’s not exactly boring I don’t have enough in common with her to find her interesting. Scor’s different. I think he’d quite enjoy having a friend that takes life a little more seriously than Cass and I do. If he didn’t have such strong principles against being friends with Gryffindors I expect he’d quite enjoy Rose’s company.
“So, what brings you over to Slytherin Land today?” I asked.
“Lou keeps trying to talk to me about Al, which is tricky because, you know, Al refuses to let me do anything to help. I figured if I was over here he might take a break from pestering me,” Rose said.
Something I do admire about Rose is how good a friend she is to Al. I’m pretty sure part of the reason she was spending so much time with me is that she was going insane trying to keep both her best friends happy at the same time. It would have been much easier if she had given in and passed on the messages Louis asked her to, but since Al had asked her not to get involved she had refused to take any part in her cousins’ argument. She could have been a Hufflepuff with that level of loyalty.
“Doesn’t look like it,” I said, looking up to see Louis Weasley heading towards us.
Scor groaned and shuffled down the table to talk to Oscar King. He tends to just leave when the quantity of Gryffindor becomes too much for him.
“Eurgh. I suppose it’s not worth me trying to escape?” Rose looked longingly towards the door to the Hall.
“No chance you’ll make it,” I said, shaking my head and laughing. I like her a lot more when she shows a glimpse of her bitchy side.
“Rosie Posie,” Louis said, kneeling down on the floor behind us and giving Rose puppy dog eyes.
“Hello, cousin dearest. What can I do for you today?” Rose didn’t seem at all affected by Louis’ pleading expression.
I was impressed. Maybe it’s easier to resist his veela power when you’re related to him. I’m pretty sure I’d have done anything he asked me to if he gave me that look.
“Do you love me, Roe?” Louis was continuing with the full force of the puppy dog eyes. Apparently he hadn’t clocked the whole family-immunity-to-veela-charm thing.
“Supposedly,” Rose said drily.
“You look very beautiful today. Have I mentioned how you’re the most beautiful of my cousins? I probably have. I don’t see why I wouldn't have done. And you’re the loveliest as well. The most absolutely lovely.”
“Spill, Lou. What do you want?” Rose gave him a bemused smile. “And if it’s to try to get Al to talk to you, you know I won’t do it.”
“I’ve tried. But you really hurt him. If he doesn’t want to forgive you then that’s his decision,” Rose said with a small shrug.
“Please, Rosie? I’m desperate. I’ll do all the work in Potions today! And I’ll do your homework for you for the rest of the week.” Louis somehow managed to widen his eyes even more. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. I guess the kid just has freakishly huge eyes.
“Why would I want you to do that? I’m top of the class in all my subjects, and you’re averaging a P,” Rose said, shaking her head.
“Oh yeah. Forgot about that.” Louis shrugged.
“If anything I know I’ll be the one doing your homework this week.”
“You don’t have to do it for me. But I might need some moral support. Actually, I’m going to need you to help me with that Charms. It makes no sense, the stuff about the porcupines, or was it concubines? Or maybe I was dreaming…”
His voice trailed away for a moment, and then he suddenly looked alert.
“But that’s not the point. Look, Roe, I really need to talk to him. He’s not letting me speak. He goes to bed really early and leaves the room before I wake up so I don’t have a chance to talk to him in the dorm, and he’s ignoring me the rest of the time too. Isn’t there anything you can do?”
“No. There’s really not. I’ve tried, I have, but I think you just need to wait for him to deal with it by himself.” Rose looked apologetic even though her words were completely reasonable. She has a strange quality of feeling guilty whenever somebody else is upset, despite it having nothing to do with her. It’s like she’s the polar opposite of Cassie.
Louis visibly deflated, standing up and brushing dust from his robes. He stood there for a moment, looking utterly dejected, and then his expression cleared and he turned to me.
“You. Liv. That’s your name, right?” He turned to Rose, who nodded, and then he looked back at me. “Yeah. You. You’ve been spending a lot of time with Al, haven’t you? With your prefect stuff, and you sit with him in Potions now, don’t you…”
I watched him, unsure where this line of conversation was going.
“You could do it!” Louis smiled at me, turning on the veela charm and making my legs feel wobbly even though I was sitting down.
If I was cleverer I’d do some research into veelas after Hogwarts. It’s not fair for them to have that kind of power. There must be some way to turn it off. If I figured it out I’d be doing everyone a favour. Maybe Rose could do it. She’s brainy.
“Do what?” I narrowed my eyes at Louis.
“Talk to Al!” Louis looked proud of himself. “You need to tell him how sorry I am, and how I’d been drinking that night and Laura manipulated me and I know it’s not an excuse but it’s hopefully an explanation.”
He looked really quite distressed, and I felt a bit bad for him. What he was saying did seem to make sense.
He kept talking. “And you need to tell him I haven’t been getting drunk by myself since then and he’s my best mate and if he wants I’ll do a dance for him in front of the whole of Gryffindor house to prove that I’m sorry.”
“Right…” I was genuinely confused. Weasleys have strange notions of what it means to be sorry.
“And I’ll eat an acid pop,” Louis added as an after thought. “And he can bite me, if he wants.”
“Shut up, Lou,” Rose said. “You’re giving Liv a bad impression of our family. Reasonable people don’t use pain to resolve conflict.”
I didn’t think there was any point mentioning the multiple times Scor had told the beaters to solely target Oz and Joe in practice because he was finding them irritating. I’m very familiar with the whole using pain to resolve conflict technique. It was the dancing to prove that you’re sorry that was confusing me.
“Hmm? You don’t mean that. I’m the pride and joy of our family,” Louis said, frowning at Rose. “But you’ll talk to him, Liv? I really appreciate it.”
“I can try. But I don’t see why he’d listen to me if he didn’t listen to Rose,” I said.
Louis gave a whoop and lifted me up off the bench and into an uncomfortably tight bear hug. He swung me from side to side, kissing each of my cheeks in turn before finally setting me back on my feet.
“You are a wonderful human being,” he said, planting a quick kiss on my lips.
I wiped his kiss from my mouth, mildly disgusted by it.
“That’s not okay, Lou. She didn’t want that,” Rose said, rolling her eyes. “This kind of behaviour is why people don’t like you.”
“People love me,” Louis said. “Don’t they, Liv?”
“Whatever.” I was rapidly tiring of his company, even with the veela thing.
“Told you so. I’m just a loveable kind of guy. Now tell me, Liv, what’s your favourite thing about me? Is it my smile?”
Rose didn’t look up from her breakfast, but carefully pointed her wand directly at Louis’s forehead. He didn’t look scared at all. I don’t know why not. I’d be terrified.
“Silencio,” Rose said calmly. “Come on, Liv. Let’s get to Potions.”
Louis trotted along beside us, poking Rose every so often in an attempt to make her give him his voice back. It was interesting seeing the dynamic between them. It brought out a side of Rose I hadn’t seen much before.
We were ten minutes early, a side effect of going to places with Rose Weasley. We weren’t allowed to go into the classroom before Slughorn arrived because of all the expensive/dangerous ingredients we might steal/destroy, so Rose and I leaned against the wall outside while Louis jumped up and down in the hope one of us would take pity on him and remove the silencing charm.
A few other people started to arrive, including Scor and Joe as well as (to everyone’s delight) Laura Brogan. She noticed me standing next to Rose and immediately made her way over to us. She had deep shadows under her eyes, and her usually flawless make up was smudged.
“Olivia,” she said with a sigh that sounded like I’d disappointed her. “I’ve been meaning to have a little chat with you.”
“Why?” I couldn’t think of any good reason why Laura Brogan would be meaning to have a ‘little chat’ with me. We’d gone nearly six and half years without any contact and I saw no reason for that to change now.
“Well, I thought, given our, erm, situation, we should probably straighten a few things out,” she said. She gave a small, patronising smile, but her eyes were worried and I was pretty sure she was just trying to look confident and like she had the upper hand in the conversation.
“Our situation?” I had no clue what she was talking about and didn’t really care.
“Yes. Our situation. I mean, it’s been hard for me. I’m guessing it’s hard for you too. And I’ve noticed how much time you and Al have been spending together, of course.”
“And, you know Al and I were together for a long time, of course, and I suppose I just thought…well, if we’re going to get along then you and I really need to be totally straight with each other.” Laura tossed her head a little, letting her hair hang down her back in a dark glossy wave.
She’s very beautiful. I suppose that’s why so many people don’t recognise her terrible personality.
“Right…” I really didn’t know where this conversation was going, and kind of hoped Slughorn would turn up early.
“So, I mean, I really do need to ask. What exactly is going on between you and my ex-boyfriend?” Laura put a hand on the wall beside me. She was standing a bit uncomfortably close. I shuffled away from her and towards Rose, who looked like she was finding the whole situation amusing.
“Honestly?” I looked straight into Laura’s huge blue eyes. Maybe her and Louis bonded over eye size.
“Well, we haven’t really talked about it much, but we’ve been having lots of passionate sex in broom cupboards,” I said, mimicking Laura’s smile.
“You…wait, what?” The smile slipped from her face.
“Oh, yes, I mean, if I’m going to be totally straight with you, it doesn’t mean anything,” I said cheerfully. “Al just mentioned he’d had some pretty disappointing sex in the past and I wanted to change that for him.”
Laura Brogan looked like she’d swallowed something unpleasant, and then her expression shifted and she just looked upset.
Behind her, Louis had tears of silent laughter streaming down his cheeks.
“Oh, look, Slughorn’s here. We should probably get inside,” Rose said, pushing me past Laura before she hurt me or something.
Rose was grinning too. I suppose her friendship with Brogan had taken a pretty rapid decline when Laura broke up with Al.
Al himself arrived as late as he possibly could without actually being officially late.
He slid into the chair next to me, ruffling my hair as he sat down. He doesn’t really understand personal space. I was quickly realising that this seemed to be a Gryffindor trait.
“Sorry. I skipped lunch to go for a fly and lost track of time,” he muttered.
I shrugged and rested my head on the desk. I didn’t really care whether he was late or not.
Slughorn was at the front, bumbling on about the Befuddlement Draught we were going to make, and how he’d actually been a good friend of the guy that invented it, or maybe a good friend of a relative of the guy that invented it, or maybe he was a relative of the guy that invented it. I wasn’t quite sure. I wasn’t really listening.
“Um, Liv?” Al poked me with his wand. It turned my sleeve bright orange. I turned to glare at him but he looked so horrified by what he’d done that there was no point.
“What?” I couldn't be bothered to get my wand out my bag so I took his and turned my sleeve back to normal.
“Why’s Laura giving you devil glares?”
I looked over to Laura Brogan’s desk. She’d been sat by herself ever since Al had moved next to me. Al was right. She kept looking over at us, at me, with a glare that could probably kill puppies. Or small children.
“Ah,” I said, as if that answered his question.
He didn’t seem to accept that and continued to watch me, waiting for an explanation.
“I, erm, might have told her we were sleeping together.”
Slughorn momentarily stopped lecturing to look over at us and Al seemed to realise how loudly he’d spoken.
“I never cease to be surprised by how well connected you are, Sir,” he said with a vague smile towards Slughorn.
Slughorn took this as a prompt to launch into a description of all the people he’d helped ‘become who they are today’, and Al looked relieved and turned back at me.
“You did what?”
“She was questioning me about why I was spending time with you. So I told her we were sleeping together.”
“And, erm, I also might have told her it was because you were disappointed by your sex life with her,” I said, wincing as I spoke. I wasn’t sure he’d be very happy with me. It had seemed funny to irritate Laura Brogan, but I didn’t really want to annoy Al as well.
Al looked confused for a moment, and then his face cracked into a wide grin.
“Bet she didn’t like that,” he said.
“No, I don’t think she did.”
I was quite worried he was going to get cross. I’d seen his temper and I wasn’t sure I wanted it directed at me. But suddenly he was laughing. Really, really laughing. Tears were running down his cheeks and people were staring, but he just kept laughing harder and harder.
“Um, Al? Are you okay?”
He shook his head, hardly able to breathe through his laughs, and buried his face in his arms on top of the desk, his whole back shaking. Slughorn decided to ignore the disruption, telling us to start working on our Draughts, but most of the class was distracted by the ridiculous sounds coming from Al Potter.
I spent the rest of the lesson trying to calm Al down enough that he could safely brew a potion, and by the time the bell rang to signify the end of the lesson we were both laughing hysterically.
Slughorn sighed when he came over and saw our non-existent potion, and set us both an extra essay for homework, explaining the importance of focus when potion brewing.
I walked with Rose and Louis to Transfiguration. Louis was ecstatic that I’d annoyed Laura Brogan. I don’t really understand how he came to be in a compromising position in a broom cupboard with the girl. He despises her. He tried to make me come and sit with him so he could continue to recall the conversation and speculate over what exactly Laura Brogan meant by ‘our situation’, but I shook my head and took my usual seat next to Scor instead.
There’s a limit to how much of my time I’m willing to spend with Weasleys.
Scor didn’t speak to me for the whole of Transfiguration. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d done to annoy him, but I’d realised a long time ago that the easiest way to deal with him when he’s in a bad mood is to wait for him to calm himself down.
It wasn’t ideal for me, though. Transfiguration is my worst subject. I only got through my OWL because of all the help Scor gave me, so trying to get through a class without him talking to me was pretty pointless. Professor Humphrey could have been saying anything. It all sounded like gobbledygook to me. When it got to the end of the lesson and Scor hadn’t so much as looked at me, I decided it was probably time to take action. There’s only so much patience I can have with him.
I grabbed his sleeve as we left the classroom, pulling him back to make him talk. He’d rushed from Potions to Transfiguration without walking with me like he usually did, and it just felt strange to have sat next to him for an hour without any form of communication.
“Oi,” I said when he tried to keep walking. “Stop with the silent treatment.”
“Oh, have you decided we’re friends again now?” His voice was dripping with sarcasm in the way that only a Malfoy’s voice can.
“What are you on about? We’re always friends.”
“Hasn’t seemed that way lately,” Scor grumbled. He seemed to have adopted a pretty much permanent scowl, and I liked him less for it.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
I sighed. He’s intolerable when he gets into these moods. Usually I leave him to Cassie to sort out.
“Obviously I don’t know what you’re talking about, Scor, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“Go away then. I know you’d rather be spending time with your other friends.”
“Are you serious? What other friends? You know I’ve basically got you and Cass.” I was cross with him. The boy’s an idiot.
“Shut up, Ollie.”
“Don’t tell me to shut up. You’re making no sense.”
He was upsetting me. It was starting to feel like an actual argument, and arguing with Scor was one of the worst feelings in the world. Cassie and I regularly ended up screaming at each other, it was part of the deal of being her friend, but that had never been the kind of friendship I had with Scor.
“You’ve had no time for me recently, Ollie,” Scor said. “You’ve been off with Joe, and Albus Potter, and bloody Rose Weasley. I’ve hardly seen you.”
“That’s not fair.” I was hurt. Apart from prefect patrols and the lessons I was seated with other people for, I spent almost all my time with Scor.
“Isn’t it? I’ve swear I’ve spent more time by myself in this place over the last few weeks than I did in the last five years,” Scor said.
I opened my mouth, ready to tell him that this couldn’t be true, but then I thought about it properly.
He might be a moody cow, but one thing Scor most definitely is not is a liar. His parents have always made sure to be 100% honest with him about their own lives and have made sure to teach him not to get caught up in lies. If he said he’d been by himself a lot recently, he probably had been by himself a lot recently.
And when I started to think about it, I realised it was true.
I usually thought of Scor and Cassie as my only real friends, but when it came down to it there were other people I got along with and could hang out with. Esther and Clara were perfectly friendly and happy to include me in whatever they were doing, even if it was just whining about Amethyst Twine and her strangeness. Two years of playing the same Quidditch position as Oz and Joe meant my friendship with them was pretty much solidified, much more so than their friendship with Scor was, anyway. And if I was really desperate I could always find the Moron. We share blood. He’s obligated to spend time with me if I’m lonely.
Scor didn’t have these links. He got along okay with the other Slytherins, but would never spend time with them if I wasn’t there. Most people in other Houses tended to avoid him because he was a Malfoy. They’d heard stories about his family and didn’t want to get involved with him. It didn’t bother Scor. He was happy enough to spend his time with Cass and me. If one of us was busy the other would usually be around, and so long as we had each other none of us were ever lonely. Now that Cassie was gone that had changed.
It hadn’t occurred to me to wonder what Scor was doing while I had prefect patrols, but now he’d made me think about it I realised he was probably spending that time completely alone. And having random Gryffindors invading our space at mealtimes made him really uncomfortable. It wasn’t just that he disliked them on principle. He found their company unsettling, and I hadn’t been taking that into account when the Wotter clan turned up.
I hadn’t been doing it deliberately, but I couldn’t deny the fact that I’d been neglecting my oldest friend.
“I’m sorry, Scor. I didn’t think…” I hadn’t actually said the word ‘sorry’ to him (or to anybody) for a long time, but I thought it was probably appropriate.
“It’s alright. Not your fault,” Scor said, but his expression suggested he was still sulking.
“I should have realised. You know you’re the best friend I have in this place.”
“Hasn’t felt like that lately,” Scor said with a half-smile.
“I am sorry.”
“It’s okay, Ollie. I shouldn’t be taking it out on you. I just…I really miss her.”
We stood in silence for a minute, and then Scor smirked.
“And seriously, Ollie. Ditching me for Gryffindors.”
“Shut up.” I pushed him gently.
“Aw, are you embarrassed?”
I glared at him.
“You are embarrassed.” He looked delighted.
I glared at him some more.
“Never mind,” he said. “Let’s do something fun tonight. We could go flying? We haven’t done that yet this term. Quidditch practice doesn’t count. We used to fly together all the time.”
“Um, could we maybe fly tomorrow?” I hated myself for saying it.
“Why not tonight? It’ll be fun,” Scor said. “You love flying.”
“I know. It’s just…I have prefect patrols tonight. With Al.”
Scor looked like he was holding back from shouting. He probably was.
“We could go flying first, though? As long as we’re done by about half eight it’ll be fine? I really would like to go.” I knew I was sounding desperate, but that was okay. I just wanted to find a way to remove the hurt expression from his face.
“Forget it. It doesn’t matter,” Scor said. “I need to get some books out. I guess I’ll see you at dinner.”
I watched him walk away and, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I might cry.
Please come back. We need you.
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