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Like A Soda Can by FoundriaPenguin
Chapter 5: Root Beer: Part II + Dr. Pepper
disclaimer: I own nothing but Alice! And Grayson, perhaps. Everything else is JKR's!
“I don’t believe this.”
Potter paces agitatedly around the empty classroom like a lion trapped inside a cage.
“You were outside the tapestry the whole time, listening to our conversation?”
I opened my mouth to reply. “Well, actually not for the entire--”
“You know what?” Potter interrupts me. “Don’t even answer that question. It’s a rhetorical one.”
Wow, Potter knows the word rhetorical! I thought he only knew the words “me,” “bully,” and “freak.”
Okay, I admit, that was a little harsh. I’ll mentally apologize to Potter’s dignity.
“What were you doing in the passageway anyways? You know it’s one of the entrances to the staircase that leads to the Hufflepuff common room entrance!” I bite back daringly. “It’s not my fault it was blocked by you two talking--”
“Nicholson, that’s bull and you know it,” his friend says firmly as he stands up from his lounging position in one of the desks. “You had no right to eavesdrop on our conversation.”
I scrutinize Potter’s friend for the first time. A Gryffindor, of course. It seems as if he’s a third or fourth year, though. Potter has friends outside his year?
“Does it matter if it’s my right or not?” I ask indignantly. “It’s more like that right was forced upon me!”
Potter collapses in the teacher’s desk and brings his hands up to rub his temples. Who knew I could cause him so much anxiety? I feel a pang of pity for him...but that is quickly erased once I remember all the terrible things he’s done to me.
His friend points his finger at me accusingly. “But you couldn’t resist listening, could you? You heard your name and you were like a gnome stuck in wand light. You had to hear what James was going to say about you.
“And to think, I tried to save your hide by trying to get the real reason behind all of this? James was complying with my attempts, Nicholson. We were working on getting him to lighten up on you this year.”
“This year?!” I cry out. “You’ve only started working on it this year?” I rise up out of the desk, furious. “You could’ve started on it in first year! Second, third, fourth! And yet you only started in 5th year? I’ve endured so much hatred, so much pain, so much...”
I grip the desk and I can feel angry tears forming behind my eyelids. My heart is pounding so very loudly, filling my ears up with the sound. Bah-bump, bah-bump, bah-bump is the only thing I hear in the desolately silent room. Potter’s eyes are still closed, as if he can’t take the scene that’s unfolding in front of him. I don’t understand why not. He’s certainly seen me suffer more times than you can count on your fingers and toes combined. Potter deserves to see this. It’s the truth, a part of the roots.
Why am I the only person making a sound in this empty classroom?
I wait for someone else to speak, to say something.
I narrow my vision in on Potter’s friend, expecting him to speak since he’s been doing most of the talking so far. His arms are folded stiffly, and I want to beat him, break him, do something to him. Because if he is the key to ending my suffering, if he has a definite hand in curing Potter, I’m going to jam him into my keyhole so fast you can’t even say his name.
I definitely should have found this boy earlier. I’ve been missing my Dr. Pepper soda, wondering where it was. And finally, he’s here! My fists clench at the very thought of his absence.
But Potter mans up instead.
“Look, Nicholson...” He clears his throat awkwardly, as he holds his head up higher than before. “I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking.”
I raise my eyebrows doubtfully.
“No, really,” he says, folding his hands on the table. “You’re probably thinking that you want to butcher my friend over there because he’s taking too long to turn me around. Well--”
I let out a little gasp. Unintentional, I’m telling you! I in shock, that’s all. I’m just not sure if I heard him right.
Potter chuckles. “Yes, well, to tell you the truth, Nicholson, there’s some kind of aura around you that automatically makes me...puke?”
I wrinkle my nose at his word choice, and I have a feeling that’s only part of the truth. He’s giving me part of the roots. I want ALL of them. I want the can. Everything. Nothing should be left in the dark.
“And the thing is, I don’t really feel anything good when I talk to you.”
“You seem to be doing fine right now,” I say, snorting unattractively.
Dr. Pepper takes his seat. I feel like someone should bring him peppermint humbugs. It’s like we’re in a movie and he’s watching it eagerly like some fan girl!
Uh, fan boy. My mistake.
“This is going to sound weird, Nicholson, but...” Potter grabs a quill and starts playing with its feathers. “Look, the thing is...”
He takes a deep breath, and the doctor is excitedly waving his arms around like a windmill, encouraging him to continue.
“Well?” I ask a little rudely, put off by his friend’s action. “Out with it!”
I can practically see the pressure building up behind Potter’s mask. Will he just say it already? Is it that difficult for him? I’m so close to the roots of my problems. So close!!
“Er...” Potter is bending the quill so much that I’m worried for its well-being.
“Potter! Come on!”
He’s bending it farther, farther, farther...it won’t be long now...
Instinctively, I cover my ears and scrunch down in my seat when I hear a SNAP!
I peek up above the top of the desk when I see Potter staring at the two pieces of quill in his hands wonderingly. Is this an action that truly empowers him? Doesn’t he know acts of kindness give him the same feeling?
I whisper hesitantly, carefully watching him. “Are you ready now, Potter?”
He pauses, his light breaths stopping. Unfortunately, he comes in for the kill, shaking his head quickly. “No. No, not yet.”
The chair screeches as he gets up abruptly, gripping the shattered quill in his fist. “Come on,” he urges his friend. “Let’s go.”
Ugh. I should have known this would happen. Potter is a coward in his own way. Dr. Pepper stares at him with an unreadable expression on his face.
“Grayson!” Potter says impatiently. “Get up!”
I can still detect a sadly disappointed one under it.
Grayson, my Dr. Pepper, slowly slides out of the chair and walks over to Potter. “Sorry, Nicholson,” he whispers as he passes by my desk.
Speechless, I watch their retreating figures leave the classroom. Sorry? Just sorry? Can’t the doctor think of a better cure than “sorry?”
“SORRY IS RIGHT!” I yell into the corridor, my voice echoing off the suits of armor. “IF THAT’S THE BEST YOU CAN COME UP WITH, THEN I GUESS THAT’S ALL I’VE GOT, ISN’T IT?”
I collapse in the doorway of the classroom, worn out from the whole ordeal. “Sorry is all I’ve got, isn’t it.”
I was so close. So close.
I find myself aimlessly wandering around the halls once again. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I’m going. Mutely acknowledging that it’s past curfew, I find myself heading towards Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom.
Right. Her solace and advice is just what I need.
I stumble through the doorway, tripping a bit on the tiles. “Myrtle?”
I hear a toilet flush, and Myrtle’s form pops through a bathroom door. “Alice!” She squeals and starts forward so she can hug me, but I flinch backwards. I don’t need to be touched by a ghost and feel that cold trickling run down my spine.
“I feel terrible,” I tell her limply and take a seat on the cold floor.
Myrtle’s lower lip trembles in response. “You feel terrible? How do you think I feel every day, stuck in the bathrooms of Hogwarts? You have it easy! HUMANS! Always taking everything for granted! Ugh!”
A bathroom stall door slams at her words, and I bring my knees up, putting my face into them. I should have known Myrtle would be no help.
“Look...this may seem selfish, but I’m so confused. You’re the only one I’ve got, Myrtle. No one else is going to listen to me talk...” I take a deep breath. “I’ve had so many problems lately. And this--this situation I’ve just been through has sucked all the energy out of me. So even if you’re not listening, I’m going to say it anyway.”
As the words pour out, my tightened chest loosens. I’m telling the white wall about the empty soda can lying on the floor, going to the kitchens, meeting Albus...I’m telling the white wall about my confusion and stumbling upon Potter and Grayson at the tapestry...I’m telling the white wall about my root beer, and how it’s failed me....
I can feel a burden being lifted off my shoulders. Is this how people feel when they confide in friends? Telling someone, anyone, about anything that bothers you just feels so good. It’s like taking a shower or taking a walk in the rain. Old layers fall off and you’re new, smarter self is there instead. You’ve got it out there in the world. And now it’s up to the world to solve it.
I close my eyes, my chest rising and falling steadily. I feel strangely calm. This feeling is so alien to me. I haven’t felt it in such a long time, not since the last time I ranted to Myrtle a few years ago, not since Raina and I were true sisters.
A coldness washes over me and I shudder away from it, but the touch is firmly on my shoulder. My eyes fly open, and I see Myrtle floating next to me. She reaches behind her and pulls out a can of Dr. Pepper.
“I think you’re going to need this,” she says, sniffing as she turns up her nose slightly.
I laugh as Myrtle tries to hide her concern for me, but it makes me feel better. The popping sound of the can opening echoes in the bathroom and I take a sip.
I smile because it’s perfect. Just what I need.
“You’re the true Dr. Pepper, Myrtle, you know that?”
A/N: Hello everyone! So I've finally updated, woohoo! And this chapter was so long!!! How'd you like it? Feedback, please! I live off it. Eat it. Tastes good! I use your reviews to shape my next chapters, you know. It's the only reason I made a "Root Beer: Part II."
Anyways, if anyone is interested, I added small things to the last chapter ("Root Beer: Part I") to make it a little more satisfying. You probably will not notice anything new, but oh well. (: I try.
Thanks for faithfully staying with me and this story, guys! I really appreciate it.
~foundriapenguin (better known as Jordan ^_^)