Title: Hogwarts, Class of 2024: Year Five
Setting: Hogwarts; September 2021 to June 2022
Summary: Albus Potter and Rose Weasley find their own way in the world during their seven years at Hogwarts, taught by Professors Neville Longbottom, Gabrielle Delacour, and Teddy Lupin.
Hogwarts, Class of 2024
"All right, men," James said, pacing the locker rooms. "Our numbers are down. Way down." He motioned to the three other remaining Gryffindor Quidditch players: Edgecombe, Oliver, and Albus.
"We're going to need another chaser, another beater, and a keeper. Big shoes to fill. And Edgie and I are leaving after this year. You know what that means, don't you?" There was silence, so he shook his head, and then said, "Hell, you guys. It means that you're it. And since you're so damned clueless, it also means I have to put together a good team that will weather the storms that the years may bring in—"
Edgecombe rolled his eyes. "We should just go outside. There's loads of people waiting."
James glared at the beater, but finally shrugged, and the four of them went outside. The stands were packed—they had won the cup last year, after all. James frowned; it was going to take all afternoon. But then he smiled, when he saw Marina Bruxaria wearing Quidditch robes from the Brazil National Team, holding a broomstick high in the air.
The tryouts dragged; there were some supremely awful people this year. But, in between the fat Gryffindors who could barely get their broomsticks off the ground, and the mousey girl who smacked James in the face with the quaffle, there were a few good ones. James whittled it down to Evan Dursley as the keeper, and Lily Potter as their third chaser—in what was rapidly shaping up to be an all-Potter team. But, then again, James couldn't help that the Potters were blessed with winning looks, captivating charm, and athletic ability.
The problems arose, however, to fill the spot of beater. Brian Prewitt, a burly fourth-year, was pretty good—not amazing but, perhaps, with training, he could be a good partner for Edgecombe. And then there was Marina, who wasn't quite as good as Prewitt, and didn't quite have the natural ability—but damn, was she beautiful. And it didn't help simplify the decision when Marina planted a quick kiss on James's lips before beginning her tryout. It was really a question of fairness. He should give it to the better man, even if that meant losing out on dating Marina.
He practically laughed at that thought, and ran off to tell Marina she was the new beater.
Teddy and Gabrielle, later that day, were lying in Teddy's bed, listening to a serial drama on the Wizarding Wireless Network. Teddy wasn't listening to the serial—that was Gabrielle's thing, anyway. He had his face firmly planted behind Dances with Werewolves—a book that he wasn't reading, because his eyes were focused, rather discreetly, on Gabrielle, as she listened to the show and filed her nails. He mentioned the fact that he was only wearing a pair of boxers under the covers, which resulted in only a mumble of interest from Gabrielle. He went back to his book, and pretended to read several more pages.
Finally, he couldn't take it; he slammed his book shut, and turned to her, grabbing her shoulder and pulling her close, so that their faces were only inches apart.
"Merlin's pants—were you planning on having sex with me ever?" And then he felt embarrassed, so he let her recoil, and then fell back himself onto his pillow, closing his eyes delicately. "Goodnight."
"No, wait," she said, shaking him. "I'm sorry—what did you just ask me?"
He propped himself up on his elbow. "I feel like we're an old married couple, you know? One of the couples that just doesn't have sex anymore. Except, to be an old married couple, you had to have sex at one point in your lives, and we don't even have that. So we're not old or married. We're just celibate—and I feel like a fucking priest." He sat up, raising his voice a bit more forcefully. "Let's not lie; we're both whores. You know it, and I know it. You've slept with a lot of guys, and I've slept with a lot of girls. Hell, I think we could populate Hogwarts with the people we've slept with because we're both that easy and that horny and that desperate for companionship. When I was at Hogwarts, people would say I would fuck anything female and on two legs. And you know what? They were right! So that makes it all the more baffling and mind-boggling that I have finally found a girl that I am head-over-heels in love with, and I want nothing more than to show her what I do best—but she won't give it up. Why the hell won't you give it up?"
She had already hopped out of bed, tied her silk dressing gown around her waist. "Go fuck yourself, Lupin." And then she slammed the door. He knew she was serious, too, because he could hear her footsteps racing down the spiral staircase. He leapt up, swimming across the mound of sheets and comforters, and made it to the door, racing down the dark staircase and through the parlor, nearly at her heels as she ripped open the front door and ran out into the corridor.
He stopped, grabbing onto his doorframe, and watched her go. "You know what?" he shouted after her. "I wish I could fuck myself, Gabrielle, because then I wouldn't have to waste every night trying to squeeze a drop of sex drive out from my girlfriend!"
A few doors had opened, their sleepy occupants poking their heads to see the latest drama. Teddy was aware that Gabrielle was no longer in the hallway, but he still was—wearing nothing but underwear—and so he quickly skulked back into his suite. Before the door could close, Neville grabbed the edge of it, and forced his way into the room, wearing a long yellow nightshirt with a matching cap.
"Cute getup," Teddy said, throwing himself down on the couch. "How are you still single, Neville, with pajamas like that?"
Neville quickly removed the cap, and shoved it in his pocket, then sat down next to Teddy. "For your information, Gram made them for me for my birthday. And it's funny you should mention me being single—because it seems that now I have a traveling companion on that lonely road, don't I? Maybe next time you'll listen to crazy old Neville."
"We're not going to break up," Teddy replied. "It's me and Gabrielle; we're not going to break up."
The door opened again, and Gabrielle stood there.
"See?" Teddy said, pointing to her. "We're not breaking up." He paused for a second. "Are we?"
"No, we're not," she replied coldly, crossing her arms. She gave a thin smirk. "I kind of like you, Lupin."
"I kind of like you, too," he grinned, standing up and walking over to her. He put his hands on the wall on either side of her, leaned in, and kissed her. "Don't walk out on me again, Gabrielle—because if you ever leave me, I don't know what the hell I'd do."
"And how many girls have you used that line on before?" she asked. "Since you're so easy and all."
"You're the first. And you'll be the last."
The door opened again. "Goodnight, you two," Neville grinned—and then, there was a flash of his yellow pajamas and he disappeared out the door. Teddy closed it, locked it, then turned back to Gabrielle.
"I want to talk to you," he said. "Because you're not ready, and I need to know why."
A wave of silence filled the air, until Gabrielle slowly spoke, her voice meek and faraway. "I'm with you for all the wrong reasons."
Not what he wanted to hear. "No!" he gasped.
"I'm—I'm with you because I'm afraid," she continued. "I'm afraid of being alone, but I'm even more afraid of not being alone, and then meeting someone, and have him—" She shuttered, and turned her head away. "I'm pretty fucked up, Lupin, after all I've been through."
"No you're not. You're perfect." He reached out to grab her hand, but she snatched it away.
"You need someone who can be with you. Who can really commit to you. And a year ago, I could have. I could have really loved you, Teddy, but I've been using you to keep myself from facing—anything. I've been using you as a shield, and that isn't fair to either of us."
He didn't say anything; he just pursed his lips into a thin sort of grimace, and stood there in silence. Finally, in a rather businesslike way, he managed to croak out, "All right. So now what?"
"Don't hate me, please," she said. "You're my best friend, and I do love you. I just—we can't. This can't happen right now."
He nodded a bit, not in acceptance but just because he felt like he had to move some part of his body. A thousand questions were flashing through his mind, one after another, but he finally picked one out to say. "Did you—did you ever love me, Gabrielle? Romantically?"
She took a step forward, kissed him on the corner of his cheek, right next to his lips, and lingered there for a moment, as if contemplating more—Teddy sure hoped she was--but she just took a step back, and said, "I'll always love you, Ted."
The only thing that woke Teddy up was the school bell. He realized that he had fallen asleep between classes, wedged in the tiny wooden chair at his desk, and was now looking at a room full of fifth years. He sat up, cleared his throat, and opened his book—but the letters dissolved into a monochrome paisley, and he finally just decided this wasn't going to work, and dismissed the class. Lacking the strength to get out of his chair, he laid his head back down on the desk, finding a particularly soft corner of the textbook to rest his brow.
"Rough night?" Albus asked.
Teddy sat up, gave a sly smile, and said, "I shouldn't tell you." He paused. "All right, since we're practically family. Gabrielle and I broke up last night."
"Because she won't sleep with you?"
"What—where'd you hear that from?"
Teddy's ears turned red, and he sunk back into the chair. "Lovely. Thank you for your discretion around my students, Molly. And no, it wasn't that. It was a bunch of things, really—" He forced his face into an uncomfortable grin. "So, what'd you need, Al?"
"I needed to ask your advice on something."
"School or other?"
He leaned back in his chair. "All right—shoot."
"How—how long did it take you to get over Victoire? Assuming you didn't kiss Gabrielle and all on the platform that day."
Teddy grinned. "That was a fun day, wasn't it? But, I mean, you saw me that summer, didn't you? Hell, most of last year. I was a wreck. Not all of that was from Vicky, of course, but some of it was. We dated for—how long, since the beginning of my fifth year? That's—" He counted on his fingers. "About six years, isn't it? Shit. I didn't notice it was that long."
"But you're over her now."
"Right," he said. "I think I reached the point where I realized she wasn't my soul mate after all. And her dumping me was the best thing that ever happened, because I found Gabrielle." His voice trailed off, but then he hitched a grin back on his face. "So—Cassie Malfoy you're talking about."
Albus's face turned pink, and he shuffled a bit uncomfortably. "Yes."
"Love sucks," Teddy said. "It really does, especially when you're fifteen, because everything can change in an instant. Did you know that your dad was in love with Professor Maxwell when he was your age? Or that I was in love with Victoire? What I mean to say—well, things are going to change for you, and you're going to meet a lot of girls. And Cassie—hell, do you really think she was the one? Of course not. If you had stayed together, you would've just wasted a few more years before you decided you had no future. That's what happened to me and Victoire, right? So forget her. She's in the past. You need to find someone else."
"For the thousandth time, no!" Charlie gasped. "Do you realize you have come in here, every single day, for the last three weeks? You've wasted my time, and you wasted yours because I'm not going to give you a better room. So drop it. We're done."
Romilda pursed her lips delicately. "I figure it's only a matter of time before I grow to bother you so much that you'll just do what I say."
"You already bother me," Charlie replied, scratching his arm. "You have some nerve coming in here, you know? You weren't an easy sell to the Board of Governors, you know? I think you were the only Governor who actually thought your appointment was a good idea—considering you know next to nothing about Astronomy. I should fire you right now, you know that? Just for being so bloody annoying."
"Your desk is bloody."
"That doesn't even make sense."
"No—literally, I mean."
Charlie looked down, saw that he had scratched off a rather large scab, that was oozing small streams of blood onto the desk. "Oh. Thanks." He reached for gauze, which he kept in the top desk drawer, as she reached forward with her wand, tapped the scab, and—nothing happened.
"That's a dragon scratch," she said slowly. She withdrew her wand, realizing magic would be futile for that sort of thing. "I thought you visited Durmstrang last weekend."
"Busted by a Governor, I guess," he said lazily. "I was invited to an exhibition back in Romania—by my old team, you know, from when I was a dragon keeper. They captured a Khmer Rouge Razorback from Cambodia—the rarest dragon out there—and my curiosity got the best of me." He held up his arm. "And I'm getting a bit slow with my old age, it seems."
"You're not old."
"Late forties? I'm getting up there."
Romilda said nothing; she just held her hand listlessly in the air, and began to play with her large diamond engagement ring. She looked back up at him, studied him for a moment, then said, "You miss it, don't you?"
"It's fine," he replied. "I've been at Hogwarts for over a decade now. I got used to it."
"Would you ever go back?"
He smiled. "Who would wrangle all of you professors if I were to leave? You're all harder than a herd of dragons, really."
"Why—why did you come to Hogwarts?"
"Because of women," he grinned. "My mum hated me working abroad, and I had met this girl in Romania—a Brit, on holiday. And they both wanted me back in the UK—so I did what they wanted."
"That's not important," he said. "She's gone now. We broke our engagement."
"Both of you?"
"More or less," he replied, looking down at the floor. His eyes suddenly snapped back up to Romilda. "All right, Professor Vane; it's time for you to go now, I think."
There was a knock on the door to Teddy's quarters the next morning. He opened it, and Gabrielle stood there.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey." He paused. He was going to let her talk—but then he decided he wanted to talk. "Hey, look, I love you. I miss you. I want to be with you, and I'm not going to take no for an answer." She opened her mouth to talk. He shook his head. "Use me as a shield—pretend you don't love me. You are afraid. You're afraid to be with me, to feel things for me—and I don't care. I'm going to love the shit out of you, no matter what you think."
"I—I just came to get my hairbrush," she said slowly. "It's on your dresser, and I—"
He leaned in, kissed her lips, sucked out the rest of her sentence. He pulled back after a few seconds. "It's me. It's me. You have to separate me from—from what happened. You have to know that when I kiss you, it's because I love you. And when I touch you, it's because we want to—because you want me to. You have to trust me—you have to know I'm never going to let anything bad happen to you, that I'm going to keep you safe forever."
She leaned in this time, kissed him. "I want you."
"It's not about sex," he said. "It's about—we don't ever have to have sex, Gabrielle, if you don't want to."
"I want you," she repeated, her face breaking into a slight, sly smile. "I want you. I've decided."
"You don't have to. What I said before—I'm stupid. I'm an insensitive jackass."
"You are stupid," she said. "And you are an insensitive jackass. And I don't care what you say. You don't even get a say, Lupin. I want you right now."