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Chapter 13 : In Which Louis Weasley Dances
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“How was Quidditch practice?” Al was supposed to be working on a Potions essay, but kept looking anxiously up at me as I sat opposite him, still in my sports kit. I couldn’t bring myself to follow Scorpius back to the Common Room, and had ended up in Gryffindor Tower for the third evening that week.
“Mm, same as usual. Scor was a jerk,” I mumbled. I was exhausted and bruised from a relentless Quidditch practice in which Scorpius had released ten bludgers rather than the usual two. Derek and Alex had tried their best but had ended up being yelled at for not protecting the rest of the team better. Scor was brilliant at inflicting his bad moods on everybody else, and was refusing to let any of us try to talk to him about it. I’d run straight back to the Gryffindor Common Room.
“Sorry about it,” Al said, wrinkling his nose. He obviously didn’t know how to deal with the fact that the people I loved most in the world had left me, but it was sweet of him to try. “What are you doing, Rosie? Can you stop doing whatever it is and help me with Potions instead?”
Rose laughed. She was lying on her tummy on the rug next to the fireplace with a huge scroll of parchment and a quill. “I’m making a spreadsheet.”
“Potential people James is sneaking off to meet,” Rose said with sheepish grin. “What? I want to know! He’s never been this secretive about a girl.”
“Oo, let me help.” Al slid off his chair to the floor next to Rose and leaned over her shoulder.
“Right, so I’ve made a list of all the girls from fifth to seventh year, minus the ones we’re related to,” Rose said, pointing at the list.
“What do the different colours mean?”
“Blue is standard. Red means they’re already in a relationship. Green means they’re not James’s usual type.”
“Surely you should strike off the ones already in a relationship?” I moved up so I could see the list.
Rose and Al glanced at each other and then both laughed and shook their heads.
“James lacks morals,” Rose said.
“He literally has no sense of right and wrong,” Al agreed. “Maybe we should highlight the girls in relationships. They’re probably more likely. It would explain why he’s sneaking around instead of bragging about it in the Common Room.”
“This is true,” Rose said. “So anyway, this leaves us with fifty four girls to choose from. I doubt he’d see more than four girls at once, so we need to eliminate at least fifty of them. Oi, Jason!”
My idiot cousin had just entered the room, hand in hand with Dominique Weasley. I’d never really realised they were so close. Dominique is super terrifying and beautiful, and definitely much too amazing to be hanging out with the Moron all the time. But somehow they were inseparable. Probably because of Quidditch. I scowled at him as he headed over. He raised his eyebrows when he noted my presence, but didn’t comment on it.
“What’s up, Rosie?” He sounded friendly, almost kind. It was strange and not nearly as moronic as I would have expected.
“Who’s James seeing? Can you help us cut down the list?”
“Nah. We’ve been asking him most days and he hasn’t given us any clues,” the Moron said with an apologetic shrug.
“But you’re his best friend,” Rose moaned. “How are we supposed to work this out if even you have no ideas?”
“It’s not any of the seventh year Gryffindors,” Dominique said. It was maybe the first time I’d ever heard her speak. Her voice was much lower than I’d expected. Sultry, I think Cass would call it. “The girls in my dorm are just as confused as we all are.”
“Yeah, it’s none of the sixth years either,” Rose said, scribbling out some of the names on her list. “So that takes it down to forty five girls it could be. Dammit.”
“Are you sure it’s a girl?” I frowned.
Both Al and Rose looked shocked. More shocked than I would have expected.
“You think it’s a guy?” The Moron raised his eyebrows.
“Sure, why not?”
“But it’s James.” Rose chewed her lip.
I shrugged. “I would have thought it would make sense. It might explain why he’s not telling any of you.”
“Fuck,” Al said quietly.
I looked at him sharply, ready to get cross with him for being prejudiced. It shouldn’t be a problem for him if his brother’s seeing a guy, and I was surprised he’d react like that. In my experience, Slytherins are usually the most bigoted. At a push, I might have expected it from the Moron. I didn’t expect it from Albus Potter.
“We hadn’t thought of that. That’ll raise the number of possible people to over a hundred,” Al continued, lying back onto the rug. “Rosie this is an IMPOSSIBLE TASK!”
I laughed. I should have known it wasn’t a problem for either of them in principle. They were just being nosy. And that was nothing new.
I watched them laughing together on the rug. Al snatched the chart from Rose and started adding the names of ‘fit guys’ who might be James’s type. I felt a little bit left out, but it was nice to be with them rather than by myself. It took some getting used to spending so much time with a friendship group who were predominantly from the same family.
Rose grabbed the spreadsheet back from Al and stuck her tongue out at him. He didn’t react.
“You okay, Al?” Rose rolled back over to follow Al’s gaze and find out why he was suddenly distracted.
“He’s such a twat,” Al responded, jerking his head towards the portrait hole.
I looked over and sighed. Louis had just climbed through the portrait hole, followed by a giggling Laura Brogan.
“I thought he hated her,” I said.
“Everyone hates her,” Rose said with a nod. “But Louis’s easily distracted. If she’s been offering him sex he’s probably forgotten how much he despises her. I’m a bit disappointed in him. Do you want me to say something, Al?”
Al shook his head but the scowl on his face didn’t relax.
“Do you want to go? We have prefect patrols in ten minutes anyway,” Rose said.
“Yeah. Maybe. Sorry, I’ve been no fun recently,” Al said.
Rose ruffled his hair. “Yep, you’re a total bore.”
I thought I should maybe say something. Al had been so kind to me about everything going on with my friends, and I’d almost forgotten that he had his own problems. But before I could come up with some kind of reassurance, we were interrupted by a shout from the other side of the room.
“Just stay away from me!” Louis had turned bright red. It was almost unattractive. But not quite. He’s still got the creepy veela blood. And eyes.
Laura Brogan, to her credit, didn’t flinch. She reached out and took Louis’s hand with a patronising smile. “Don’t make a scene,” she said, her voice a warning.
“I’ve told you to leave me alone!” Louis tugged his hand out of Laura’s.
“Shut up, Louis,” Laura said, rolling her eyes. “I’m all you’ve got.”
“I DON’T WANT YOU.”
I slid off my chair and onto the floor next to Al, tentatively putting a hand up to rub his shoulder. He was staring at his cousin with an unreadable emotion on his face.
“You don’t mean that,” Laura said. Got to give the girl credit for her persistence. She was brazenly denying what Louis was saying.
“I do! Stop following me around! Stop acting like we’re a couple. Stop acting like we’re friends. Stop acting like I chose you.” Louis looked like he might burst into tears.
“Louis,” Laura said patiently. “You’re not thinking rationally. You broke off from your best friends to be with me.”
“No I fucking didn’t. You lied to me when I was drunk and manipulated me into getting with you. I never would have done that if I’d realised what was happening!”
“I stuck by you when all your friends gave up,” Laura said. “You owe me.”
“They didn’t give up. They’re angry because I was an idiot. And I was an idiot because you’re a conniving bitch. Just stay the hell away from me.”
“Fine,” Laura said coolly. “Your call. But don’t come crying to me when you realise you’re completely alone.”
She held her head up high as she walked away from him and up the stairs that led to the girls dormitory. I was actually kind of impressed. No part of her acknowledged that she’d just been publicly humiliated. I suppose she was confident she’d be able to spread some kind of lie about what had happened before the rest of the school heard.
Louis stood still for a minute, taking deep breaths and not paying attention to the muttering going on around him. When he’d calmed down, he strode quickly over to where we sat. Rose stood up to greet him. Al stayed on the floor, so I stayed with him.
“Albus, I’m really, truly sorry,” Louis said, looking straight down at Al.
Al turned his face into my shoulder and didn’t acknowledge Louis. I wasn’t sure what he wanted from me, and ended up just sitting in rigid stillness while he leant against me.
“You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and I can’t believe I managed to mess it up so astronomically. I was drunk and Laura told me nobody apart from her found me attractive. She said she could help me. And it was fucking stupid. I wouldn’t have listened to her if I was sober. But for some reason at the time the things she was saying made sense. I’ve never regretted anything more, Al, I mean it. I’m so, so unbelievably sorry.”
Al still didn’t respond.
“What do I have to do to show you I mean it?” Louis sounded desperate. “I’ll do anything. I mean it. I’ll buy you anything, or go anywhere with you. Or you can hex me, if you want. That’s okay. I deserve that. Or punch me.”
Dominique let out an audible sigh, shaking her head at her younger brother.
“Please! I’ll do a dance for you, if you like. In front of the whole Common Room.” Louis was speaking quicker than usual. I was surprised by how nervous he was.
“You’ll do a dance,” Albus repeated, lifting his face from my shoulder. “What?”
“I don’t know. I just thought a little bit of humiliation might make up for some of my shitty behaviour,” Louis said with a shrug. "It was a stupid idea.”
“Do it,” Al said, pushing his palms against the floor so he could stand up. I stood with him, feeling like a bit of an idiot sitting on the rug by myself.
“Are you serious?” Louis looked confused.
“Dance for me,” Al said with a smirk.
“Albus,” Dominique said sharply.
“No. It’s a good idea,” Al said. “Go on, Louis.”
“Sure. Show me you’re sorry.”
I frowned at Al. I wasn’t really surprised he’d decided to talk to Louis - I think he was probably just bored of fighting - but it was unlike him to actually take some kind of revenge.
“You don’t have to dance, Lou,” Rose said, looking at Al in exasperation.
“No. It’s cool. I’ll do it,” Louis said. He clambered up onto the desk Al had been sat at before getting distracted by Rosie’s spreadsheet. He tapped his wand to his throat, muttering something, and when he next spoke his voice boomed out to the whole Common Room. “Um, excuse me, everyone? Can you all hear me? Okay, right, I just wanted to say that I dedicate this dance to my amazing, unfortunately named cousin, Albus Severus Potter.”
Gryffindors around the room looked up in interest. If we’d been in the Slytherin Common Room somebody probably would have hexed him off the table by now, but Gryffies are strange, and instead chose to cheer him on as he waved his hands in the air and started to dance.
There’s something special about watching a seventeen year old, male, part-veela Gryffindor jumping up and down and hand jiving on a desk. He kept going for a good seven minutes, tunelessly humming along to his awkward dance moves. I watched him with my eyebrows raised. Dominique looked severely unimpressed. Rose had taken out a wizarding camera and was beaming like a child in Honeydukes. And Al…well, Al was smiling. And it was good to see him smile.
When he’d apparently decided he’d done enough to redeem himself, Louis took an elaborate bow and jumped off the desk to tumultuous applause.
“Can we be best friends again now please?” He looked straight at Al, his words tumbling out of his mouth quicker than he seemed able to control them.
Al gave a small nod.
Rose burst into tears.
Al and Louis both looked confused. Al poked Rose’s arm and she swatted his hand away.
“Give him a hug. You two are both so stupid,” she wailed.
Al laughed and pulled Louis into a hug. Louis was a little bit shorter than him, and reached up to fit his arms around his cousin’s shoulders. After a moment, Rose burrowed under their arms to join in, looking overjoyed to have her best friends back again.
I watched them, unsure what I was doing, and then turned to leave the Common Room.
“Where are you going?” The Moron stepped in front of me. I’d forgotten he was there.
“Um, Owlery. I need to send a letter. Tell Al I’ll see him later?”
The Moron nodded and I pushed past him.
I didn’t know where else to go, so once I was out of the Gryffindor Common room I decided I might as well do what I’d told him I was doing and actually send a letter.
The Owlery was completely empty. I whistled to Mercury and he soared down to me, pecking my shoulder before landing. I hadn’t seen him much over the last few days, and he was probably cross.
“Hang on. I’ll write a letter for you,” I said to him, pulling a screwed up ball of parchment out of my pocket and smoothing it out on the windowsill.
I chewed my lip for a few minutes, wondering whether there was even any point writing to Cassie after what the aurors had been saying, but then I shook myself out of it. She was my best friend.
I miss you I miss you I miss you. I’ve never felt so alone.
I don’t know what I can say to make you come back.
Sorry for being so needy. Please reply if you can.
Love you always,
I looked at the words I’d just written. Cass wouldn’t like them. She liked funny, sarcastic letters, not declarations of problems and clinginess. But it was what I wanted to say to her so I rolled it up tightly and attached it to Mercury’s leg.
“If you find her, give her hug for me, yeah?” I said as Mercury lifted his wings and glided away from the tower.
A cough sounded from right behind me and I jumped, spinning round so quickly I almost lost my balance.
“Erm, sorry,” Al said, looking embarrassed. He was so close to me I was surprised I hadn’t realised he was there.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were having your emotional reunion.”
“We have patrols. Jason said you’d be up here,” he said.
“Oh. Right. Forgot about that.” I yawned. I still hadn’t really adjusted to having to do prefect duties.
“Look,” Al said. “Um, okay, don’t be cross, but I saw what you wrote in that letter.”
“I didn’t mean to. You didn’t hear me come in, and I thought I’d let you finish before distracting you. And then, I don’t know, I somehow ended up reading it over your shoulder.” Al grimaced and seemed to shrink away from me.
A small flare of anger burst up inside me, but I somehow couldn’t be bothered to get cross. It was hardly the worst thing that had happened recently, and there was nothing in the letter I really cared about Al seeing.
“I just…is that actually how you feel?” Al still looked nervous.
“Alone,” Al said quietly.
“Um. Well, yeah. I only have two friends in this place. One of them’s missing and the other one hates me with a passion.”
“To be honest, Liv, if you actually believe that I’m fucking offended,” Al said.
“What do you mean?”
“Do you seriously think Selwyn and Malfoy are still your only friends? I mean, have you even noticed how much time we spend together?”
I frowned. I knew I spent a lot of time with Al, but that was because of Potions, and patrols, and because I’d been helping Rose out with some of her Charms. It wasn’t the same as spending time with Scor and Cassie. Al and I had just been thrown together a lot. But then…I quite liked the time I was with him.
“I…I don’t know. What are you talking about?”
“Liv, you’re my friend.”
“But you’ve got Rose and Louis,” I said, confused.
Al looked frustrated. “Yes, and last I heard there wasn’t a rule saying you could only have two friends. Look, you’ve helped me out a lot through all this rubbish with Lou, and I know I’ve helped you too. And I like spending time with you. And so do Rosie and Lou. I’m pretty sure that’s how friendship works, no?”
I thought about it for a moment. “Are you sure?”
“Am I sure what?”
He laughed. “Of course I’m sure, Liv. How many times do we need to hang out with you before you realise we actually like it?”
“I like spending time with you too,” I said quietly.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Al said with a grin. “Look, come here.”
He opened his arms and I hesitated for a second before stepping into them, letting him cocoon me. He was warm and he smelt like broomstick polish and it was just, well, nice.
“Sorry,” I said, thinking about the letter I’d just sent. “For running off. And for sending that letter. I thought, I don’t know. I saw you with Louis and Rose and I just figured you wouldn’t want me there.”
“Don’t be an idiot. Now, I’ve been meaning to ask you what you’re doing about Hogsmeade this weekend. Are you going?”
“Come with me? Rosie’s helping our cousin go wedding dress shopping, and Louis will probably have a date. Please don’t make me be that one weirdo who has to go by himself.”
I laughed, and then cursed. “Eurgh, I actually can’t. I forgot I have to meet my mum. It’s going to be awful.”
“Oh, well, maybe I’ll see you after?”
“Yeah. I don’t know how long it’ll take.”
“If not we can just do something later on. But it would be nice to see you.”
“Trust me, I’d much rather meet up with you. I really don’t want to go, but I should see how she’s doing. Normally I take Scorpius for moral support, but I suppose that’s not really an option this time.”
Al nodded and squeezed my arm.
“Um, I don’t suppose you’d like to come?” I looked at him, suddenly hopeful. “I mean, it’ll be horrid, it will, and you probably have things you’d rather be doing. But…I mean, if you don’t have other plans…it would be nice to have a friend there.”
I chewed my lip, feeling strangely worried about hearing his reply, but Al just grinned.
“Sure. I’m a big hit with other people’s mums.”
“Thank you. So much. I’m kind of dreading it a little bit.”
He laughed. “It’s cool. That’s what friends do, right? Now come on, we really should do our patrols. We’re already twenty minutes late.”
“Yeah. Hey, maybe we’ll catch your brother and his mystery girl,” I said, following Al out of the Owlery.
“Or guy,” Al said, nodding.
He held his hand out and, without even really thinking, I grabbed onto it.
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