He had no idea why he was doing this; this was sure to make things extremely awkward not only between himself and the girl he was about to speak to, but between himself and his sister. Still, he had to do this as the boy could not take the strain any more. Between his grades going from steady to all over the map - Professors Longbottom and Blith had had words with him, the latter reminding him that if he wanted to play the remaining two quidditch games, a couple grades needed to go up - the insane amount of homework, the nightmares relating to the Voice-Girl and his general nervousness relating to stress Timothy was going to crack from the strain of it all. Which meant he was going to tackle the one thing he could do - settle the question about Professor Longbottom. Because if he didn't, he was going to flunk Herbology.
Shuffling from foot to foot, he waited for Alice to come down from the girls dorm so that the two could head up to divination. It was a subject he had originally not wanted to take, but had decided it was better than Care of Magical Creatures after both parents relayed horror stories about Hagrid's teaching methods. If he had known that a new teacher was going to take over he might have stuck it out for two years instead of suffering Professor Trelawney. Or maybe not...Divination was probably going to come in handy in the next few weeks. Once the rest of his yearmates scuttled off to their classes - Margine had already gone ahead - saw Alice come down the stairs with her books. Taking a deep breath he tried to smile and failed as the dark haired girl approached. "Hey Alice. Ready to go to class?"
Ah screw it! It won't easier if you put this off. he told himself. Not that prodding himself to ask the girl a pretty simple question was making the matter any less difficult. Running a hand through his hair, he turned and regarded the smaller girl. "Alice, I got a question for you." Pausing to gather his courage, the next few words came out in what was probably an incomprehensible rush. "I'm probably going to sound paranoid, and I really don't want you to be offended by what I'm about to ask, but I really, really need to know. Does you dad hate me?" There. He asked it. But why did he feel so nervous. "I mean it sounds totally crazy, but Herbology's been so hard to go to after what happened in October with the armour," Something he would beat himself up every day for the rest of his life most likely. "And after those nights when the prefects caught us out of bounds, he spent the week afterwards glaring at me. Then I got called to stay after class last month and it was scary. So does he hate me or is he mad at me for getting you hurt and in trouble?"
There were several downsides to having a parent on staff. Even moreso when crazy things were happening because they had the means to tail you and bother you until you felt like you were drowning in their misguided atempts to keep you safe. Apparently this was another thing she could put on her list. Her father was terrorizing poor Timmy and making him think that he hated him. Alice stared at him with her mouth open as he rushed through is words and closed it in a grim line, glaring, not necessarily at her friend but at the idea that he thought her father had some sort of grudge he was acting out on him.
"Don't be ridiculous." she snapped angrily. "A grown man with a grudge against a student not even half his age?" Part of her knew she was defending her father but she supposed it was because the alternative was just as ridiculous as she said. Why would her father waste time tormenting one of her friends for something there had been no control over? Tim hadn't used her to shield himself from being hit, Alice had pushed him out of the way because she had wanted to, she had no idea the suit would fall in her direction. "You're imagining things." she readjusted her bag, trying to difuse her anger through movement. It wasn't fair of her to take this out on Tim, it was her father's behavior towards him that had set this off. He should know (from Alice's continuous chattering) that Tim was a sensitive guy and didn't do well with subversive or aggressive behavior.
She stomped her foot for good measure and ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm sorry, it's not fair to yell at you. It's just, he's my dad and he's like...ancient, why would he waste his time picking on you when that little girl is popping in and out and mucking stuff up in the castle." She decided not to bring up that Timmy and Margie themselves had also been popping in and out of odd places and behaving strangly but Alice was trying to be respectful of their twin time and not be jealous that they were clearly sharing something that they decided they didn't want her to know. She just knew they were hiding something from her. It rankled a bit to have that niggling feeling and someday she was going to explode.....sooner rather than later.
As expected, Alice's reaction to the question about her father was a wonderful impression of the fanged plants in the Herbology greenhouses. Warily, Timothy took a step back, half expecting a shove or slap. Under most circumstances, he wouldn't have had to fear a violent or physical reaction, but this year hadn't really been one for normal circumstances - not after the voice started sounding in September and he started seeing things. (And finding out the same was true f his sister and then of course all hell broke loose.) And while he knew most people outside of Hufflepuff thought of Alice as sweet and docile, the type who would never hurt a fly, Tim knew better. Anyone who impugned the "honour" of those she held dear would need to watch out.
"No, you're right, you're right." Timmy sighed when Alice delivered her verdict in a more calm tone. "It probably is all in my head. It's just I feel so stressed out; OWLs are not even a month and a half away, these crazy things have been going on and Herbology has seriously felt awkward since October." He gave his friend a look. "And I know it sounded ridiculous but your dad does seem the over-protective father type. But think about it, you're the youngest, his only girl and I'm a boy who hangs around you all the time and on top of that I got you injured. Quite frankly after getting thoroughly interrogated by both Professor Winchester and Professor McGonagall, I'm surprised your dad didn't gut me right there - a lot of the Gryffindors say he's got a magic silver sword that appears and disappears in his office that they said he once used to take down that dark wizard guy." An object Timmy - despite anything Alice could or would say - knew full well he'd get to know up close and personal if Alice got injured again and Timmy was within line of sight of it happening.
However out of all the things Alice could have mentioned to make him feel slightly better, the little girl wasn't one of them. Thanks to Margine's random knowledge of the weirdest things, the twins were sure the girl somehow dated to the early part of the previous millennium. However in the times they had seen her (or was it dreamed her?) and according the the sixth years who'd been in the apparition class she hadn't mentioned her name. Though she'd been giving the most ridiculous nicknames to everyone else. He didn't know whether to laugh or wince at a lot of the Slytherins - aside from Helen Goyle who had been dubbed "Pretty Girl" many others hadn't fared so well with names like "Mean Girl," "Stuffy Green Prince" and "Headmaster Boy." (Much pity for Albus, but in the shock it seemed no one had thought to tease him about it. "Alice if you've heard the rumours, your dad probably has a better shot having a go at me instead of her. If she's behind everything that's happened - including your injury - then she's not to be taken lightly." Forgetting himself for a moment he added under his breath, "She looks so innocent and sounds it too, but everything she says makes me freak out, no matter how innocuous." Oh shit! Did I just say that out loud? Oh dear Merlin, Alice, please focus on the dig to your dad and not that last!