Pacing in the Gryffindor Common Room, my red and gold robes dripped mud and all sorts of things onto the rug. From afar, my other housemates looked at me with uneasiness in their eyes.
“Hey, Al,” said James. He left his spot on the couch, being admired by gaggles of girls, and stood beside me. “Come with me.”
Narrowing my eyes, I followed my brother up to his dormitory, where the litter of four twelve-years old boys was all over the floor. Stepping gently over a pair of undershorts, I sat down on someone’s bed, not caring that mud dripped all over the crimson covers.
“What do you want, James?” I said. Every time my brother had tried to talk to me this year it seemed, it was all about me trying to get Hazel expelled or spreading rumors about both of the Malfoy twins. “If this is about my friendship with Hazel, I will curse you.”
James made a small noise between his lips and ran his fingers through his hair, mussing it. “I’m a year older than you, Al, and you think that I can’t do a Shield Charm?” He didn’t wait for a snarky reply. “Listen, your friendship with those pure-bloods, the Malfoys, is seriously damaging to both my reputation and our family’s.”
I snorted. “Your reputation, you mean. You spend too much time and energy worrying about how popular you are.” I stood from the bed and turned to leave, my Quidditch boots rubbing roughly on the carpeted floor. “Hazel and I are best friends, James, and you need to stop trying to change that fact!”
I was half-way to the door when my brother called back. “It’s not really about the fact that they damage reputations, dear brother. Those Malfoys don’t belong here at Hogwarts. They don’t belong here… or anywhere. Nobody except for you likes them, and that has to change. If it doesn’t… bad things will start to happen.”
I reached inside my robes for my wand and approached my brother, hands shoved in his pockets, and looking smug. “That was you, wasn’t it? You used that Vanishing Spell on Scorpius’s broom!”
“Oh no, that was Rose Weasley.” James let out a cold laugh. “It’s an O.W.L spell, but she can do it.”
“I’m going to tell Professor McGonagall,” I warned, but James just let out another cold laugh.
“If you do, or if you continue being friends with the Malfoys… a small bout of unconsciousness and a cracked skull is not the worst of the Malfoy family’s worries.” A wide grin spread across his face. “I can hurt them, Albus. How’d you like that on your soul?”
I inhaled quickly and slumped against a bedpost. “You wouldn’t do that. I know you would—“ But the look on James’s face stopped me cold. “What do you want?” I whimpered. I couldn’t let Hazel or Scorpius or anyone get hurt. They didn’t deserve it.
“You better break your friendship by tomorrow,” James warned,” or there’ll be more than just harmless jinxes coming their way.”
I sat upright, very straight at the Gryffindor table. James sat next to me, talking boisterously about the Quidditch match and how our chances looked for the Cup. Hazel was peering at me from across the room, motioning for me to come and sit with her at the Slytherin table. Her eyes were still red, and her nose was still running from the massive amounts of tears she had shed for her brother. Headmistress McGonagall had announced that Scorpius was going to be fine, he had a cracked skull and would be unconscious for a while.
“Luckily the ground was soft, and he only fell about ten or fifteen feet,” she had said with a grimace.
James shoved me roughly, causing gravy to be poured all over my sleeve. I glared accusingly at him. “James!”
“Here’s your chance,” he hissed. I frowned, confused, then realized what he was talking about as Hazel wedged herself in-between myself and a tall fifth year.
“Move it,” Hazel said rudely. The fifth year glanced at her furiously, then turned away, nose in the air. Hazel turned to me, and I resisted the urge to look away as well. Her piercing grey eyes seemed to look into my brain and read my thoughts…
“Why aren’t you sitting with me?” she asked softly.
“I…” I widened my eyes and nodded to the fellow Gryffindors sitting around me. “I just wanted to eat dinner with my house, that’s all.”
“Well, I need to tell you something really important,” Hazel said. She bounced slightly on the seat. “Can I tell you here?”
I nodded and leaned closer to her to listen. James poked me in the back, and I drew back, remembering that I had been blackmailed to not be friends with her.
Hazel dropped her voice and eyes so only the whites of them glinted in the candlelight. “Rose Weasley was the one who Vanished Scorpius’s broom.”
I swallowed and sat taller. Be brave, be brave, I told myself. I could face Lucias Malfoy, but not my brother, and especially not my best friend.
“Why should I trust you?” I sneered. Inside though, my insides were twisting. “You’re a Malfoy, and everyone knows that you can’t be trusted.”
Hazel looked at me, stunned. I could feel James, behind me, smiling cruelly. I’m doing this for your own good! I wailed inside, so wanting to tell her that.
Hazel shook her hair and looked at me with a glance so full of pain I thought that I would melt under it. “Albus, you don’t really mean that. I know that you don’t think I’m a real Malfoy, well, not a Dark Wizard or—“
“Go,” I said nastily. “Go back to Slytherin so you can share you next plans of murder, why don’t you? That is what Malfoys do.”
The grey eyes looking at me turned sharp and cold. Hazel jumped up from the table, green tie smacking her in the face.
“This isn’t you, Albus,” she decided. “You would never say those things, but I’m warning you.” She moved closer. “If you ever say anything like that again, I will curse your ears to fall off, friend or not.”
“I’m not your friend,” I snarled. “I would never be friends with a Malfoy.”