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Chapter 8: Exploiting Clichés
Chapter Eight: Exploiting Clichés
Clara was painting my toenails.
In the world of magic there was always a way to prepare one’s body. With a flick of a wand everything could be done. No need to curl the hair. No reason to outline the shape of the eye with a brown pencil. It could all be completed in a matter of seconds.
But in the world of girl it was almost always essential to do these things by hand. Maybe it was one thing we were able to control — our looks. But then there was just the matter of how much we cared.
There were girls like Stella Anders, who summoned a house elf every morning to straighten her hair with an iron. She worked on her face each day with concealers and foundation. She would dust sparkly powders above her eye and tilt her head to see the effect of the candle light bouncing off.
Then there were girls like me who let other girls paint her toenails with glimmering pink polish. The mask had long been situated on my face that morning, melting into its normal structure. It was almost second nature to put it on. I no longer thought that the feeling of a cloth draped on my face was abnormal. I could no longer think of the prospect of walking around without the plaster mask...
Today was the very first Hogsmeade trip — the one time that students could dress up in street clothes and have fun with their friends and those of the opposite sex.
I suppose I was excited. I mean, who wasn’t? There were few Hogsmeade trips during the term. They were just a time to unwind and relax without bothering with the schoolwork left behind.
“Why do I have to look nice?” I grumbled. “No date.”
I, Violet Lingdonburg, had never been on a date before. I was a virgin everything, basically. Virgin dater, virgin kisser, virgin virgin. My relationship with Lupin had only carried a title, nothing else. It was a shell filled with hot air.
“Because,” answered my blonde friend, “You do.”
What kind of answer was that?
The other girls of out dormitory had left about half an hour ago for the Great Hall. Stella, after squeezing her and her flat, toned stomach into the skankiest dress in her wardrobe. It was November — and England was not exactly the warmest place in the world.
“You sticking with us, Lily?” asked Clara.
We both turned to look at the red head, who was scrutinizing her face in the wall mirror. She whirled around when we mentioned her name and blanched. “Uh…well, you see —”
Something was up. “Spill it,” I demanded.
“Will asked me to go,” she finished in a small voice.
Everyone had thought Lily’s actions the night of the first Quidditch match was just her letting loose. But, to everyone’s shock, the next morning at breakfast (Which I missed due to my adventure the night before. I only knew these following events because Jane told me)…Will Stelle, Gryffindor Seeker came to sit beside Lily. And supposedly they were seen holding hands under the table.
After that gossip spread like a fire. Everyone wanted to know how James Potter would react, yet no one wanted to be in the line of fire.
He had done nothing. Yet.
Clara looked as if she was going to say something, but I cut her off. “That’s great! I guess we’ll see you later then.”
Fifteen minutes later we were crossing the portrait hole threshold -- myself clad in a pair of tapered jeans and an old sweatshirt tilted off one shoulder...and the pair of Converse Clara had scorned several months ago.
“So,” I finally said to Lily. “You and Will are...together?”
None of us had really brought up the topic since that night. I mean, it was so ridiculously out of character that sometimes I wonder if it really happened. But then I remember that night with Black and realized my mind is not playing tricks on me.
Lily had acted as if nothing were amiss and only spoke to Will when he approached her in the halls. And believe me, he made an effort.
Lily shrugged. “I guess...yeah.”
“What happened that night?” asked Clara cautiously.
“I dunno. He came over and apologized for crashing into me at the match...and then...well, you know.”
Clara grinned mischievously. “Ooo, risqué.”
We laughed together upon entering the great hall.
Someone cleared their throat behind us and we turned to see Michael Rickol watching us uneasily with his hands in his pockets.
As if by magic the two girls beside me seemed to melt into thin air. Figures.
“Hey,” he offered.
“Hi.” Not one of my more brilliant sentences.
There was a moment’s silence as we both stood there. I mean, what were you supposed to say after the greeting? How are you, just sounded dull and possibly even forced. I saw him in class yesterday and he had been fine then; why would that have changed? And it was painfully obvious that the conversation would be dead if the weather was brought up.
I felt heat rushing up my neck so I hurried to say something. “I like your… shoes.”
“You do?” he asked, looking down.
I also glanced downwards and felt my face under the mask grow warmer. Thank God for that piece of plaster.
Michael was wearing a pair of ratty, old, brown sneakers. They were covered in mud as if he had been running. It took me a moment to realize that he was clothed in jogger’s attire.
Had I really complimented his shoes? His shoes?
“Uh yeah.” I managed to say. “They’re...uh...stylishly battered.”
Stylishly battered? Oh my God. I was losing it.
“Yeah, they’re comfortable,” Michael replied with a grin.
Before I had a chance to embarrass myself further more Michael started talking again. “So I was wondering... I'm going to Hogsmeade,” Obviously. “You’re going to Hogsmeade,” he continued. Again, this was obvious. “Maybe we could meet...say...noon at the Three Broomsticks?”
I could not believe that Clara’s idea was coming through. She really had a knack for predicting these sort of things. I almost had the sudden desire to turn him down, just to spite her.
“Uh,” I managed to choke out. “Yeah...okay.”
He flashed a toothy smile and after several more pleasantries, sauntered away.
Clara and I were in Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop. Yes, it was normally a place for couples. No, it was a place for couples, but we had nowhere better to be, or at least, until noon. The pink walls and streamers were almost nauseating. Whose idea was it to come up with this sort of place? It was probably one notch short of a whorehouse. All it needed was women dressed in corsets, fire whiskey, and the lights turned down just a tad bit more.
We both had out chins propped up on our hands as we watched a snogging couple at the next table. There was a crash as their little jar of creamer went spiraling through the air and smashed on the floor.
“Let’s go,” I advised, quickly standing up as the sugar followed the creamer.
When we exited the shop there was still another half hour before I was due to meet Michael.
“Alice told me about this little tea shop on the corner of High and Pine Street. You wanna check it out real quick?”
I nodded in agreement and we set off in that direction.
As we got nearer to our destination we spotted a lone figure coming from the opposite way. He was bundled up in winter clothes and had his hands shoved in the depths of the flannel pockets.
When he looked up at us it turned out to be James Potter...without any of his cronies. This was a genuine surprise.
All three of us stopped when we were face to face.
“Potter,” Clara acknowledged.
“Hagan, Rinelle,” he replied curtly. My fake surname sounded strange by itself.
Clara raised one eyebrow. “Where’s your posse?”
He shrugged. “Remus had homework and Peter was sick.”
My friend grinned in delight. “Are you and Black rowing?”
His countenance darkened but he shook his head. “He left me so he could snog Anders by the Shrinking Shack.”
Though I tried to resist it, my jaw dropped. Had he not been asking me out the other day? Did he not say that he did not want girls to fuss over her appearance. What was this? Snogging Anders? Stella Anders? Was everything that came out of his mouth lies? I had a sudden visual of Stella leaving our dormitory this morning clad in that tight dress...and she was with Black?! Hypocrite, was the only word that seemed fit.
My own mouth closed as soon as it opened. I shrugged indifferently. “He seems to move fast.”
Potter grimaced. “It’s the way he rolls.”
“And he left you by yourself?” asked Clara.
“Whatever happened to bros before hoes?”
I felt that Clara’s statement was a very good description of the present situation.
But to our surprise Potter started to laugh. “It’s Marauder code that that specific rule does not apply during Hogsmeade.”
“You have a code? Like a rule book?”
I voiced my question in the crisp American accent I had worked so hard on.
He grinned at me and tapped the side of his head, making his circular spectacles slightly more crooked. “It’s all up here.”
He took his hands out of his pockets and chose to cross them over his chest instead. “So...where’s Evans?”
His innocent curiosity was not un-noticed because it was probably as far away from ‘innocent’ as possible.
“With your Seeker,” was Clara’s reply.
Potter had never carried out his threat of kicking Will off the team -- probably because he knew that there was no one good enough to replace him.
He grunted when he heard this and walked on past us without another word.
It struck me that he actually did look slightly crestfallen. I shrugged it off before the thought became any more developed. Probably wounded pride.
The tea shop Alice had told Clara about was small and quaint. There were about four or five round tables scattered around the proximity. The place was empty when Clara and I walked in, only a wizard with his back to us was standing behind the counter while sorting tea bags.
“Take a seat. I’ll be with you in a minute,” he said without turning around.
I had fifteen minutes before the clock struck the twelve and suddenly I felt like a circus was being performed in the depths of my stomach.
“Do you know how bad I am at small talk?” I hissed to my friend.
She shrugged. “You’ll be fine. Just relax. Picture my face.”
“Somehow I think I’ll be finding that rather difficult,” I replied drily.
The man at the counter turned around. “Okay, what can I get you ladies today?”
I did a double take. He was maybe two years older than us, already graduated from Hogwarts...and extremely comely. He had auburn hair that fell to just above his shoulders and extremely soft blue eyes.
“Tea please,” said Clara.
He looked at me. “And you, Miss?”
“Nothing. Thank you.”
He prepared my friend’s beverage and set it down in front of her. Then, to both of our surprises, he pulled a chair over from another table and joined us. “Mind if I sit here?” he asked, grinning. “I might just die of boredom otherwise.”
Clara laughed. “Of course.” She held out her hand. “I’m Clara.” She motioned towards me. “This is my friend, Viola.”
He shook both of our hands and rumpled his hair, reminding me very briefly of James Potter. “I’m Andy. You girls here on a trip from the school?”
“Yeah. It’s our seventh year. We figured we might as well get as many experiences possible before graduation,” I explained.
He looked at me, our eyes locking briefly. “Cool accent.”
“Er...thanks.” I turned to face Clara. “I think I’d better get going. I’ll see you later.”
By the time I had reached the door and turned around to wave goodbye she was already talking to Andy again. Go figure.
“So do you like...er...cheese?”
Oh my God. This was so embarrassing. No, this was absolutely mortifying.
Michael Rickol and I were sitting across from each other in the Three Broomsticks. My mug of butterbeer was half empty and cold. We had been there for about half an hour. Our topics of conversation had varied from everywhere between classes we were taking, chores we hated, and evidently...cheese.
How the hell did we end up there?
Michael had turned out to be a very understanding guy who seemed to know that I was not skilled when it came to starting conversation.
His lily-pad green eyes sparkled with amusement. “Oh I suppose. Though I’m not into the strong, fancy stuff. I prefer cheddar to anything else.”
“Wow,” I managed to say, trying to resist from staring at his face too much. “You’re boring. You could have at least supplied an interesting answer that fueled the conversation -- but you decided to bring it to an abrupt stop.”
He shrugged, his broad shoulders moving up and the tendons in his neck growing taunt. Oh God, it must have been so obvious that I was checking him out. But honestly, how could I not? This was bad. Bad bad bad. For this God forsaken plan to work I could not become emotionally attached to any of the people I went out with.
I looked at him and tried to follow Clara’s advice -- tried to picture her face.
And to my surprise, it worked.
Her petite, blonde face was sitting atop of Michael’s muscular torso.
The image my mind had managed to create was so utterly ridiculous that I unintentionally burst out in bubbly laughter.
He looked confused as the insane noise came out of my mouth into the air.
“I’m sorry,” I managed to wheeze.
“Wanna share the humourous story?”
I could not tell him that I pictured one of my best friend’s head on his body. That would sound strange and unnatural.
“Uh...I pictured you with no hair.”
God, like that was much better. But then again, as this was my first ever date...I should have been entitled to some leniency, right?
Michael stared at me, and as soon as I was sure he was going to call the healers at St. Mungo’s he started to laugh instead.
“I had a shaved head when I was seven,” he said. “Worst year of my life.”
Two hours later we were walking along the dirt road on our way back to the castle. We moved slowly, trying to take our time so that the moment lingered. During the time that elapsed from my dreaded conversation in the Three Broomsticks we had wandered the village, taking care to look in ever shop we came across. We didn't buy much, just looked in the windows and joked about what we would do with such items.
Michael reached down and took hold of my hand. At first I was slightly hesitant, but his hand was so warm and calloused that I could not pull away. I grinned up at him and took that advantage to admire his facial structure as he continued to speak in his dulcet voice. I liked the way his jaw angled out and the cleft in his chin. Maybe dating him would not be such a bad thing, I thought to myself as he started to talk about something, but I was too distracted to fully listen.
“I’m not quite sure what to do,” he confessed eventually after about a minute of talk.
I tried to look as if I had been listening to every word he had been saying. I had a very vague notion that it had something to do with the Transfiguration project McGonagall had assigned last week.
“Do whatever you want,” I said, smiling.
Our pace slowed as I peered up at the sky and examined the clouds. They were drifting along lazily, much like Michael and myself.
The boy beside me exhaled slowly. “You think I should do whatever I want?”
“Yes,” I said forcefully, trying to be motivational. “In fact, I command you to do whatever you would like.”
He paused in his step, spun me around under his arm like we were in the middle of performing a dance move, and then leaned me back over his other arm.
And without pausing, he kissed me full on the mouth.
I suppose now would be one of those infamous diary moments, where once the moment is good and done you go through it in your head, thinking of how exactly you would illustrate it in your diary.Dear Dairy: This was my very first kiss.
Yes, Remus Lupin had one out with me last year, but we never engaged in any of the benefits normal couples shared. At the time I had thought he just wanted to take it slow. Now I knew better.
This kiss now...please forgive me for using such an awful cliché, but this kiss was absolutely magical.
I had read the sappy romance stories. All girls had. They always described the kiss scene with so much detail. They used words like, “magic,” “fireworks,” “love,” and “passion.”
I had scoffed whenever seeing this, wishing that the author could use a bit more originality and talent.
But now I knew; now I had finally experienced it for myself. It was every single one of these words.
Fireworks were going off in my head. Sparks were flashing behind my eyelids. My heart was pounding. My ears were ringing. I was lightheaded and dizzy. Thing were spinning and lights were flying...
Before I could go on and exploit every single bloody cliché I had ever come across, the kiss stopped and we both stood there. (Myself somewhat unsteadily.)
I had never been so aware of him. The smell and feel of him and dare I say, the taste.
God, there I go with the fluff. The diary-worthy fluff.
Michael was looking at me shyly and I realized that he was unsure of his next action. Finally he said, “Will you...do me the honour of being my girlfriend?”
He looked so absolutely adorable standing there with his eyes shiny and wide open that I could not help but smile. “O-Okay,” I stuttered.
He leaned forward and gave me a hug. I wrapped my arms around his waist and leaned against his chest, feeling that things were right.
And then he murmured my name into my hair.
But really, it wasn’t my name at all.
Yayayaya! I’ve posted! I feel sort of bad just because this chapter has been done for such a long time, but I wanted to give myself a chance to get ahead before I posted. And now I am. =] So, I had fun with this one. Hopefully you can tell. That last line of this chapter is the brilliant production of my beta, who I have forgotten to mention lately. She really does do fabulous work. Thank you to everyone who has been leaving me reviews. I’ve had an exciting time reading them. Please do continue!