A/N: I'm not JK Rowling. She doesn't write this bad.
The Slytherin common room was always so dark and gloomy. I wasn't too fond of it, to be honest. The harsh green lights, the cold draughts and the background noises of a couple shamelessly snogging weren't my idea of a perfect home. And that was why, every day after lessons ended, I found myself in one of the ill-used corridors, curled up with a textbook, trying to decipher some sort of meaning from seemingly unintelligible garble. Contrary to popular belief, Slytherins weren't always evil and cunning. I was living proof of that. According to my dorm-mates, I was dull and ill-witted - I probably was, too. While they managed to party from dawn to dusk and still ace their test, I got a D in the Potions assignment after staying up the whole night reciting the origins of the Wolfsbane potion. Yes, I was that bad.
I really liked this corridor, though. It was my personal space. While the rest of the world was busy with their drama and unnecessary angst, this was the only place where I could come to relax. It was neither too hot or too populated like the lake, nor too cold like the dungeons. I preferred a place where I could simply sit down without any intrusions. Hidden behind the painting of the soppy-looking witch in a meadow that was located in the Entrance Hall, this corridor had a secret staircase leading up to the seventh floor, and I managed to stumble across it one day while trying to get into the kitchens for a midnight snack. I doubt that anyone knew about it, really, considering that ever since I found it back in my third year, which was two years ago, I've never since anyone else use it. It was perfect.
"Aesalon Falco was the first rectified... no rec - recorded Animagus, according to sources in the Ministry of Magic," I recited aloud, clutching the book tightly. The words looked jumbled up. Reading simply wasn't my forte. "Able to turn himself into a falt... fals... falcon at will, Falco had gathered countless -"
My eyes snapped up as I heard footsteps. I frowned. This was the first time I'd heard someone down here. Wondering who on earth was approaching, I stood up and shut the book, eyes trained on the entrance and my unwanted guest. Judging by his height, he seemed to be in my year. I really couldn't see his face, though, which was hidden by a mop of scraggy dark hair. I quickly stood up. To be roaming the corridors at night, he would have to be a prefect; I didn't want to get caught out of my common room after curfew. I wasn't going to look around for more trouble with the teachers. Fumbling with my book and my robes, I rushed towards the exit that was on the seventh floor. I'd have to walk down all the way to the dungeons again, but hey, it was a problem worth facing.
To my dismay, though, I tripped on my robes and fell to the floor.
Just my bloody luck, I thought as I rubbed my forehead. If the boy hadn't seen me yet, he was sure to have heard me crashing down. I cursed my clumsiness, which would no doubt be the death of me one day.
Sure enough, a deep voice rang out, "Hello? Who's there?"
Cursing my stupid fortune, I wheeled around to face him... and I found myself face to face with the Ravenclaw prefect, Albus Potter. Of course, I'd have known him even if he weren't a prefect. Everyone knew him, considering who his father was. I knew for a fact that Potter's brother didn't really like us. Though I've never noticed this one showing any hostility towards the Slytherins, I was a bit wary of him. I didn't know what he would do if he caught be out of bounds here. What if he reported me to a teacher?
He walked up to me, his footstep echoing off the walls loudly, a curious expression on his face. His eyes were green, and his long, messy hair seemed to stick up in every direction. In his hand was what seemed to be a spare bit of parchment. "It's after curfew. What are you still doing here?"
"None of your business," I said icily, inwardly hoping he wouldn't dock me points.
Potter frowned at me. "How did you find this passageway? No one knows about it."
"I could ask you the same thing, you know," I said. After all, I've never seen anyone use this passage. "What's that in your hand?"
There was a sudden rustle of paper as I saw him hiding it behind his back, a sheepish expression on his face. I narrowed my eyes, wondering what on earth he was trying to hide.
"You should be in bed now," he said quickly. "Go quickly, or I'll have to report you."
I frowned and stared defiantly at him, but he simply stared me down with a seemingly well-practiced glare. Well, that was probably the end of my nightly study session. I gathered my books and stomped away, wondering why on earth Potter had decided to patrol my corridor tonight of all nights.
Next morning, as expected, I was sure I failed my test. I messed up on the dates and ended up getting the entire theory wrong as I figured out later on. Furiously thrusting my ink bottle and quill into my bag, I stomped out of the classroom, ignoring a group of my house-mates who were lolling against pillars, laughing about who knew what.
I turned around to see that one of them, Jenkins, calling out to me, looking at me with an amused expression on his face.
"What?" I snapped. I didn't really like him at all; he was rude, snobbish and just plain irritating. He wasn't even that good-looking: he had a slightly squashed face and an upturned nose - it kind of made me wonder whether he had smashed his face into a wall when he was younger. No wonder he didn't get any attention from the girls. Frankly, he was just full of talk. He strode towards me, and I had half the mind to walk away from him.
"How was the test? Think you passed this time?" he asked, smirking.
I hated him. Merlin, I hated him so much right now, starting from the tips of his dark brown hair to the ends of his polished shoes. "I don't want to bother myself by talking to you, really," I said spitefully. Five years of being teased had taught me that comeback wasn't really the best option.
Jenkins sniggered, a maniacal gleam in his eyes. Behind him, his friends began to guffaw. "Is that the best thing you could come up with? And to think you call yourself a Slytherin."
That hurt, it really did. I didn't know why they teased me so much. I could be really mean when I wanted to, but hurting people for what wasn't their fault... I didn't like it one bit. Being dyslexic wasn't something I could really help, and if they couldn't understand that, that was their problem.
"I'm Slytherin enough!" I said, annoyed, turning around to walk away. "Piss off!"
"Prove it, then," one of his mates, Bulstrode, said. He was tall and lanky, looking like he had a Stretching Jinx placed over him. "Go and bully the great Al Potter over there. If you are a Slytherin, surely you can go and bully a nerd?" He spat out the word like it was a disgusting thing.
Potter was standing a few meters away from us, just out of hearing range. Bulstrode really wanted me to go and make fun of Albus Potter - Harry Potter's son? Was he out of his mind? I didn't want to, in all honesty. Potter was okay, really, and he'd never done anything to me before.
"You are a Slytherin, aren't you? Go on," Jenkins urged.
Probably it was the fact that I was so pissed off that made me do it. Or maybe I just wanted them off my back. One moment, I was glaring at Jenkins, and the next, I was stomping towards Potter, putting on my most contemptuous look.
"Oi, Potter!" I hissed. He turned around to face me, looking bewildered that I was talking to him in that tone. I wasn't going to back out now, though. Jenkins challenged me and I would show him that, dyslexic or not, I was a Slytherin.
"How do you keep standing with that big head of yours?" I said stupidly, flinging out the first thing that came into my head. Now that I thought about it, it was hardly a good one.
Potter looked at me like I had lost my mind. "What the -"
"You... you're such a nerd, Potter," I wittered on. "You don't have any life, now, do you? Don't you sit on your table and pore over textbooks all day?"
Potter looked really angry and I faltered. Perhaps mocking Albus Potter wasn't the best idea after all. I gulped.
"Oh yeah?" he raised his eyebrows, folding his arms across his chest and looking at me like I was a sort of slug. "Funny you should mention that. Weren't you the one sitting in that unused corridor at night with your nose glued to the History of Magic textbook?"
I flushed. Behind me, Jenkins and Bulstrode were doubling over with laughter.
"And weren't you the one who still managed to fail every single paper this year?" Potter ploughed ahead, now smirking. Some people were starting to stop and listen to what he was talking about. My face was burning with humiliation. "I've heard Professor Longbottom talking about your abysmal performance in lessons. He thinks you'll need to repeat."
Potters words hit me like a punch in the gut. I felt a stinging sensation in my eyes and realized they were brimmed with tears. Did Professor Longbottom really say that? Was I that much of an idiot? A tear rolled down my cheek.
Potter looked bewildered. "Hey." He hesitated. "Are you okay?"
No, I was bloody well not okay. I was trembling uncontrollably. Without a second glance, I ran out of the corridor, blindly going where my feet took me as I cried. How could he even say what he just did! I kept on running through the corridors, ignoring the shouts behind me. I didn't care who they belonged to. I shoved past people and stumbled through the corridors, finally coming to a halt in my little sanctuary. I leaned against the wall, my heart thumping wildly, and slid down to the floor and let my tears flow.
I absolutely despised Albus Potter. He was rude and he was a bloody idiot. I hated him. I hated him, I hated him, I -
"Hey, listen, I -"
"What do you want now?" I screeched, staring at him, livid. He stood there, his head hung low, looking at me uncertainly. I couldn't believe he had the nerve to come up to me and act so concerned. "How dare you talk to me, Potter? Wasn't insulting me in front of the whole castle enough?"
"Listen, Andrea, I'm sorry; I didn't know you were -"
"Know I was what, exactly?" I asked coldly, not even bothering to ask how he knew my name. "Dyslexic? Yeah, well, that's why I'm so stupid. I can't read properly. I spell weird. How do you expect me to pass my exams?"
"You're not stupid," he said quickly. His eyes looked into mine, willing me to understand that he was sorry. I snorted.
"Oh sure, that's what they all say," I mumbled. I really didn't feel like staying here with Potter. Despite of his words of apology, I wasn't about to forgive him. I stood up and walked past him, ignoring his protests, not looking back once.
Potter kept following me around the next few days, and this was annoying the heck out of me. He followed me to my classes and then to the library, for I had stopped frequenting my secret passageway now that it was, well, not secret. Every time I saw him, he opened his mouth to speak, but I looked the other way and stomped out. I could hold grudges for a very long time, and Potter was finding that out the hard way. Served him right for being a bloody git.
I was sitting in the library one day, dozing off while trying to write that essay on moonstones. OWLs were approaching fast, and if I didn't study, I was sure I'd actually be repeating. Because honestly, how would I even sit the written exams properly? My parents had requested the teachers at Hogwarts to ignore my spelling during the exams, but they very well couldn't do that for my OWLs. I was, in one word, doomed.
"Need any help with that?"
I jerked out of my reverie and swivelled around to see who it was. I wasn't really surprised to find Potter there, smiling amicably at me, his green eyes soft and friendly. Oh, Merlin, he never gave up, did he?
"No," I replied curtly. "I can manage myself. Sod off."
He sat down anyway and took my essay from my grasp.
"Oi, give that back!" I hissed. Ignoring my flailing arms, he kept the parchment out of my reach and read through it curiously. The nerve of him!
"You've got the properties wrong, Andrea," he stated.
"I'll fix them myself," I retorted, giving up and sitting back. What did he think of himself, really? One day he insulted me and the next he was trying to be all chummy and friendly as if he'd known me for years. I was getting frustrated with his antics. "What the hell are you doing?" I finally snapped.
He set down the essay and looked at me as if I were an alien. His green eyes looked straight into my blue ones and he said, "I'm trying to help you study."
"But why the hell do you care?" I exclaimed.
Potter sighed and leaned forwards. His hair was sticking up in every odd direction, and that kind of distracted me. I'd never seen anyone's hair that messy before. "I'm really sorry for that day," he whispered. His voice was deep and calm, and it kind of reminded me of hot chocolate. His eyes bored into mine as he begged me to understand.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked quietly. Surprisingly, I found my anger ebbing away.
"Well," he hesitated, fidgeting with a small nail sticking out of the table. "I wanted to make up for laughing at you. You see, I have other siblings, too, who tend to make fun of me. Of course, it's just them fooling around."
I listened quietly, wondering where this was headed. "I often used to get pissed at them for poking fun at me. I slowly learned that they were joking, though. I learned how to talk back at them and take things lightly. Sometimes, I wonder if James did that just to make me stronger and get me out of my insecurities."
"I made fun of them, too, whenever I could," he said, grinning. "And when you were there trying to bully me, I talked back at you calmly, thinking that I was just pissing you off. I did it just for the kicks, and hey, I thought I had dirt on you."
I smiled a bit. He continued, "I didn't know they were forcing you, really. And I had no idea you had dyslexia. I'm sorry, I didn't know I'd hurt you that bad."
I think I was beginning to believe him. "Well, you did, anyway. So fix it now."
"I'll make it up to you," he said, smiling.
I pretended to think for a while. "Well, you can start by helping me out with my essay..."
With Albus as my study partner (for I started addressing him by his first name now that we were much more civil), I noticed an improvement in my marks. For once, I wasn't failing. My grades were increasing to an A and, if bad, barely a P. This was so much better than the Ds I had been getting so far. Albus explained the theories so much better than any textbook did, and I actually understood everything. The only thing that I couldn't improve was my spelling, but I was working on it.
At around seven that evening, I was walking into the Room of Requirement, ready for the day's lesson. Albus decided to use this place instead of an unused classroom after Peeves pelted up with bright red roses and paper hearts one day. I thought the poltergeist was a bloody annoying git, really, but Albus seemed to get all red and hot by seeing it and he simply pulled me out of the room and headed for the seventh floor, where this room was.
"Albus?" I called.
"In here!" I heard him shout. Following the sound of his voice, I found him hidden behind a huge stack of books, reading what looked like a Muggle story book.
"What is that?" I asked.
"This?" Albus asked, his eyes lit up in awe. He held the book reverently as he beamed at her. "This is my favourite piece of literature. About the most brilliant detective in the whole world."
"Who?" I asked curiously, wondering what could get him so ecstatic.
"Sherlock Holmes. You should read it," he said, thrusting the book under my nose.
I raised an eyebrow. "Maybe some other day," I said, laughing, and pushed the book away. "Let's get started on my spelling now, shall we?"
Albus laughed and agreed. I liked how he laughed. It sounded like bells tolling somewhere in the distance, making me feel warm inside.
We sat down on the floor and Albus took out a notepad and a quill. "Notepads are much more comfortable than parchment," he said. "I always found them really handy during my years in Muggle primary school."
I nodded. "Let's start with writing down simple charms spells, shall we?"
"Sure," Albus approved, opening his charms book. "Let's see you write down Alohomora."
"That's easy," I grinned, putting my quill on the paper. "A-L-O-H-O-M-O-R-A. Done!"
Albus took the notepad and examined it. "You've written the 'r' the other way round."
"Really?" I asked, snatching the pads away. "Looks okay to me!"
"Come here," he said, shaking his head. He put his hand over mine and began to guide my hand across the paper.
The moment his hand touched mine, I felt an unexpected jolt in my arm. A shiver ran down my spine. He was holding my hand. And suddenly, the only thing I felt was his hand on mine, forgetting that I was supposed to be looking at him writing. His hand was so warm and so firm on mine.
"Done!" he said, grinning. I jerked out of my thoughts and quickly withdrew my hand. What was happening to me? I couldn't think straight; I didn't know what was going on. Was I... was I falling for -
"Andrea?" Albus asked, his cheeks tinged. "Is everything okay?"
I nodded, wiping my mouth. No, I couldn't fall for him. He was Albus-frikking-Potter. There was no way he was going to be interested in me. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and smiled at him. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Great." He smiled back. "Let's get on with it, then."
I owed Albus a lot, really. My spelling was so much better than before. I think I was starting to read better, too, and I was finally able to comprehend those things the books were saying. Albus was one of the best people ever.
Albus and I were walking along the fifth floor corridor one day, laughing about something James, his brother, had been telling him the previous night. I envied Albus; he had such a big family and some really great siblings. My family, though really lovely and close together, wasn't exactly big; it was just me, my parents and my grandmother. I loved my family, but sometimes, I thought it would be good to have someone as old as me around to have fun with.
"And then he gave Lily this sweet from Uncle George's shop, and she took it!" he was saying. I found myself looking at his face and beaming like an idiot. I hoped he wouldn't notice that. "Trust me, watching her turn into a bright yellow bird in front of the entire Gryffindor house was the funniest thing. Lily wasn't really amused, though; when she returned to her original form, she chased James around the whole common room with a belt. It was too bad I couldn't see the whole thing, though. I had to return to the Ravenclaw Tower for the night."
"Is that an eagle and a snake I see?"
I wheeled around and saw Jenkins leaning against the wall, staring at us. Beside him was Bulstrode, looking like a huge ugly pig.
"More like a butterfly and a worm, really," Bulstode said, sneering.
Albus rolled his eyes. "And I can see two caterpillars mating. Come on, Andrea; let's give these two their privacy."
"See you later, dumb-arse!" I said gleefully.
Jenkins, however, was in front of us in a flash, and I wondered if he had just Apparated. "Think you're so funny, do you, Potter? Just because you're so bloody brainy, it doesn't make you great. I wonder where you keep all that grey matter. Doesn't it leak out of your ears?"
And then I lost it. I walked straight up to him and punched him right on the nose. Clutching his nose in agony, he sank to the floor, howling in pain.
"That's for insulting Albus," I hissed. "Now scoot!"
It felt good, really, finally getting back at him. I hated his guts, and it was oddly satisfying to see him writhing in pain down there. Jenkins stared at me, his mouth wide open. His nose was definitely crushed, and blood was trickling down to his mouth. Reaching up to his nose, he touched it and winced.
He managed to pull himself up and brushed his robes. "Don't say a word," he muttered to Bulstrode, who nodded quickly. Throwing Albus and me a contemptuous look, they both dashed away.
"That was bloody brilliant," Albus remarked, grinning broadly. "Completely and absolutely brilliant."
"Well, he was insulting you," I said matter-of-factly. "And I didn't like that."
And then to my surprise, Albus bent down and kissed me. It was a soft one, barely touching the lips, but it sent a jolt of electricity racking down my spine. I closed my eyes and felt his soft, minty breath on my lips. It felt wonderful.
We broke apart after a few seconds, but it felt like a month. I didn't know what to say as I looked up at his face, drinking him in. I looked into his eyes. They were so beautiful.
"You are brilliant, do you know that?" he whispered.
I smiled. Really, what could I say?
"Would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me on this Saturday?"
Now that I knew the answer to. "Definitely."
Albus smiled and kissed me on the cheek. He held to his hand and I took it, and we walked down the corridor hand in hand. I didn't know if it's the best relationship in the world, but in our own awkward and geeky ways, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Thank you so much for reading :) Please leave a review! They make me smile!