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Tug Of War by platform 9 3_4
Chapter 9: Lessons from James
Disclaimer: JKR is, and will always be awesome.
Lexie Clarke and Cameron Mitchell
beautiful CI by SophieScarlette@tda
You can imagine my surprise when, the next morning, I open my eyes to find none other than James Sirius Potter staring down at me.
"Morning Wood," he says casually.
I stare at him.
"…the fuck?" I mumble.
Is this a dream? James Potter isn't a stranger when it comes to my dreams, but even this seems to be pushing it a bit.
Instead of having a soft romantic gaze, as he does in so many of my nightly visions, his look is wild and manic.
"Come on, up!" he says, "I haven't got all day."
"I don't know what you want, Potter, but fuck the hell off," I murmur, pulling my pillow over my head.
He drags open my four poster bed curtains and light floods in, blinding me momentarily.
"It's twelve o clock," he says.
"On a sunday," I groan.
"Lazy," he says.
"Arse," I reply.
"I'm not leaving until you get up. You can't stay in bed all day."
I glare at him, "Watch me."
He sighs, "I hoped it wouldn't come to this."
And from behind his back he draws out a camera. He snaps a quick picture of me, sitting up in bed, looking like a madwoman, with hair in all directions and my eyes glaring with fury. The flash makes me blink several times.
"You…what the hell?" I grimace, rubbing my eyes, "I'm blinded!"
He holds up the camera to show me, "If you don't get up, I will be forced to show this to everyone. And you are clearly not a morning person," he shakes his head mockingly.
I stare, feeling instantly nervous, "You wouldn't!"
He smirks, "Watch me."
He dangles the camera in my face and I make a wild grab for it. But he swings it quickly out of my reach.
"Fine," I growl, "I'm getting up. But at least tell me what it is we're going to do."
"We," He makes his way towards the door, "are going down to the quidditch pitch. I'm going to teach you how to play this game, and not be scared."
I stare at him, momentarily speechless.
"You have five minutes. Chop chop," he grins, before shutting the dormitory door behind him.
I fall back onto the pillows.
You have got to be kidding me.
As I crawl out of bed (which feels much like a newborn being torn away from it's mother) and haul myself into the bathroom to shower, I begin to reminisce. The first time I ever met James was almost uncannily similar to that brief and uncomfortable meeting that happened not five seconds ago.
And he hasn't improved with age.
I had arrived at the burrow late the night before. Rose had come downstairs eagerly in her pajamas, there had been time for a quick tour of the downstairs living room and kitchen, before she showed me to her room and we both fell asleep.
It was the early summer and Rose and I, then the impressionable and silly first years we were, had planned to spend the whole summer with one another. I had only met two of her family members: Albus, who coincidentally also became a friend of mine, and James.
Although, to be more truthful, I knew who he was, whereas he had no idea what Rose meant every time she mentioned 'Stella'. I didn't have a crush on him then, but I was intimidated by his confidence. Despite this, however, I didn't really care about having to spend the summer with him.
I should really have given that a bit more thought.
"Wake up, Rosie!" came a loud screech from above me.
I opened my eyes and stared. Rose's older cousin, James, stood above me, dressed in full quidditch gear, a broomstick slung over his shoulder. His hair was scruffy and his eyes were wild with excitement.
James looked back at me and frowned.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Stella. Why are you in Rose's room this early?"
"It's almost midday!" he laughed, "You should be awake."
"Well, Rose is still asleep."
"No, she's not," he pointed to the vacant bed beside mine.
"Well, then why did you call me Rose?" I asked.
"I thought you were her!"
He lowered the broom off his shoulder and looked at me expectantly, "Well, are you getting up then? We're playing quidditch soon."
"No!" I replied indignantly. The prospect of quidditch was no way to tempt me out of bed.
"Why not?" he asked, folding his arms.
"Because…I'm not getting out of bed just because you say so!" I snapped oh-so-wittily.
He scoffed, "Okay, FINE! Stay in bed. You'll miss the breakfast muffins."
Damn, how could he know me so well already?
I wrestled with my thoughts. For too long, apparently.
"Come on!" he cried eagerly.
When I didn't oblige he dropped his broomstick on the ground and threw the covers off me.
"HEY!" I cried, grabbing my bare legs in shock.
He laughed, and threw me over his shoulder, pyjamas and all.
"GET OFF ME!" I roared, "PUT ME DOWN YOU JERK!"
"No!" he roared with laughter.
He marched down the corridor, holding my legs as my fists pummeled his back as hard as they could. My long, dark hair swung violently back and forth, getting in my eyes.
"LET ME GO!"
We passed several kids on the landing, all in various stages of dressing for quidditch, brought out of their rooms by the racket I was making.
One boy started laughing, "Nice one, James. Who's this then?"
"Tessa, or something," James laughed.
"STELLA!" I roared, hitting him even harder with indignation.
"Hey Stella," said the boy, almost doubled over with laughter. "I'm Fred. Nice to meet you."
"MAKE HIM PUT ME DOWN!" I yelled. In reply Fred just laughed as though James was the funniest person alive.
James moved down the stairs when he came face to face with Rose, who looked absolutely furious with him.
"JAMES!" she roared, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"
"LANGUAGE!" came a roar to my left. A short, tubby old lady emerged from the kitchen, staring fiercely at Rose who became immediately subdued.
"Sorry, Nana Molly," she sighed.
Nana Molly turned her gaze to me, and it became much softer.
"Oh, hello dear," she smiled, glancing up and down.
I could feel James trembling with laughter underneath me.
I could hardly yell at their grandmother, so I gritted my teeth, "Hello."
"James, put the girl down," Rose's aunt Ginny appeared from the kitchen, frowning with disapproval at James' antics.
James hesitated, before grabbing my waist and lowering me steadily down to the ground. I brushed my hair out of my eyes and glared at him.
"See? Now you're wide awake," he grinned.
"Took you long enough," James raises his eyebrows at me, looking impatient.
I shrug as tie my hair up into a pony tail, "Well, I prefer to shower. Personal hygiene beats crazy lunatic forcing me to play quidditch on my day off."
He rolls his eyes, "Come on then. I've booked the pitch for an hour. Let's not waste any more time."
He leaves the empty common room, and I reluctantly follow him.
I already know that this won't end well.
"So, why are you doing this?" I call out from behind him, jogging to catch up. Man, he walks really fast, "Is it out of the goodness of your heart or is there some sort of hidden motive you're not telling me about?"
He smirks, "What? Is it so difficult to believe that I might have a good side?"
We walk down the stairs towards the entrance hall, and I realise that I am walking towards the quidditch pitch with James Potter, the person who makes me happiest and yet most miserable, and I'm doing nothing to stop myself.
"You know what?" I stop, forcing him to stop and face me. As usual he looks bored by anything I have to say, but I continue nevertheless, "I'm not doing this. I'm going to go and eat breakfast. And then I'm going to do my transfiguration essay. And then I'm going to talk to Rose about Scorpius, because those two still won't tell me what happened when they were alone at Hogsmede. Goodbye."
I turn around, but a hand immediately grabs my sleeve. I expect nothing less. Potter doesn't accept defeat easily.
"Wood," he says in a warning voice, "You're coming with me."
"Oh, sorry, forgot you were the King of everything. Please forgive me, your highness."
"I'm going to teach you how to play quidditch and not be scared," he says slowly but surely, "And I'm not letting you walk away."
"Too bad," I mutter, "Because I'm doing it anyway."
But to my utter surprise, as I turn around again he grabs me around the middle, swings me over his shoulder in one swift movement, and begins carrying me off, through the entrance hall and out onto the school grounds.
"What the-put me down you prick!" I cry out loudly.
This cannot be happening again. Seriously, how can he just take me down to the pitch against my will?
"No," he answers.
I start banging my fists hard against his back, like I did the last time, but it has even less of an effect. After all, in five years he has far more muscles than he did when he was thirteen. And that's when I notice it. His muscles.
I've been so caught up in my rage that I haven't even noticed that this is possibly the closest I've ever come to James. I should be savoring it, not wishing for it to end. But I continue to pummel his muscles anyway. His firm, warm…okay i'm getting ahead of myself here.
I can feel his hands on my calves. Did I shave my legs when I was in the shower? Yes, I did. Thank Merlin.
"I'm not letting go, Wood. You can save your energy," he says lazily.
"You are an ARSE, James Potter!" I roar as loudly as I can.
"So you've said."
I let out a yell of frustration in response.
"Reminds you of when we met, doesn't it?" he says, and even hanging behind his back, I can tell that he's smirking.
"No idea what you're talking about," I grumble.
"Are you still mad about that?" he laughs good-naturedly.
"Not as mad as I am about this," I reply.
"So you do remember."
"Of course I bloody remember! You humiliated me in front of your entire family by carrying me down stairs in my pajamas. Do you know that every time I meet your grandmother she addresses me as, 'Oh yes, the girl that slept in until midday and then ate all the muffins'," I snap.
"It's not my fault you ate all the muffins," he points out.
"Hey!" I shout, "Shut up! You know all too well that I should not be held responsible for my actions when there are muffins involved."
He lets out a short laugh of disbelief, "You're crazy, Wood."
"Yeah. I'm not the one who kidnaps their ex-keeper, takes them down to the pitch and forces them to play a sport they don't like on their day off," I retort
"Jeez Wood, you like a good whine don't you?"
"Ugh, just shut up and put me down. All the blood is rushing to my head and it hurts."
"Stop being a douche bag."
"Stop hitting my back."
"Stop carrying me like a sack of potatoes."
To my surprise that last request actually works. He grabs me by the waist and sets me down on my feet. I try to find my balance, stumbling around dizzily. Once the scenery comes into focus I see we're standing on the vast quidditch pitch.
"Here we are," I mutter angrily.
"Yep," he says, purposefully marching off for the broom lockers, "Back in a minute."
Once he's gone I take a deep breath. Okay, okay, you can do this. He's just a guy. A guy you're in love with. A guy you're in love with, and alone with.
I can't do this.
I'm probably going to freak out, tell him everything, or end up jumping his bones or something. Yeah, sounds like I would do something that awkward.
No part of me wants to be here. I mean, sure there's always the part of me that would be happy to spend all day staring at him, but right now that part is ready to be squashed into oblivion.
And everything about James aside, I have absolutely no desire to get on a broom, and face my fears. Contrary to popular belief, facing your fears is not something that is easily accomplished. In fact it's scary.
I mean, my last broom escapade ended up with me vomiting on James' shoes, an experience which I have no wish whatsoever to relive.
I need to get out of here, before James comes back and forces me to do this. I immediately start walking for the castle, but before I can get more than a few steps, there he is, two broomsticks in hand, looking purposeful and grim.
Merlin's beard, is every expression of his sexy? This is just not fair.
"Here," he hands me my broom, "Now let's warm up shall we?"
"S-sure," I reply nervously, gripping the broom handle with the hope that I can squeeze all my inhibitions away.
"Five laps around the pitch," he says, kicking off hard from the ground.
Before I kick off myself I take a deep breath. I can do this. I can. I can. I can. James seems to be in a good enough mood, and so far , kidnapping and insulting aside, he's actually been quite, dare I say it, nice.
"Wood, get up here!" James shouts from above my head.
Yep, I spoke too soon.
I kick off and soar into the air. The all-too familiar feeling of nausea returns immediately to my stomach and I grimace.
"Now, why don't you start by doing those laps?" James says, but I can tell it's more of a command than a suggestion.
"I'm pretty sure that'll just make me even more nauseous," I say.
"You have to face up to your fears," he says, "And to do that you have to do the exact opposite of what you're comfortable with."
I give him a short lived, but piercing glare, and fly off towards the edge of the pitch. Right now I'm regretting ever having met James Potter.
* * *
Forty five minutes later James looks exasperated and I am on the verge of tears.
"Come on, Wood," he shouts, "You have to dive! Not fly down and then level out!"
"I'm trying!" I roar back.
"You have to face your fears!"
"WOULD YOU SHUT UP ABOUT FACING MY STUPID, FUCKING FEARS, YOU PUSHY, MEAN, ARROGANT SON OF A-"
"NO! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"
In case you haven't already guessed, things are not going quite as swimmingly as either of us thought they would.
James underestimated that forcing me to face my fears was no where near as easy as he had anticipated, and I underestimated James' ability to make me hate him.
"WHY AREN'T YOU AT LEAST TRYING TO DIVE?" he shouts, but he looks more desperate than angry.
Merlin, I though that by now it would have been crystal clear, " BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO!"
He looks even more frustrated at this, "WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY YOU SHOULD DO IT!"
I glare at him, "SCREW YOU, POTTER! I'M DONE!"
And with that I land back down on solid ground.
I can hear him landing behind me. "You're a coward, Wood," he says angrily.
In response I threw my broom onto the ground and stormed away.
"Oh yeah? Sue me!" I yell back at him.
"Why won't you just try?" He implores me.
It's like a switch flips itself off inside me. I spin around, finding him much closer than I expect. I stop before my face comes any where near his, momentarily losing my train of thought. Man, his eyes are really, really brown.
"Anything you want to say, Wood?" he murmurs, staring unabashedly back at me.
I take a step back, and find my brain instantly clearer, and I am able to string together a coherent sentence.
"Why are you doing this?" I ask, "You've been avoiding the question all day."
"No I haven't," he says.
"Yes, you have," I retort, "What possible reason could you have for doing this? I am no longer on the team, after all. And you have never exactly liked me."
"Maybe I feel bad," he murmurs.
I fold my arms. The atmosphere feels distinctly calmer, "You feel bad?"
"Yes," he replies, "I feel bad because it may or may not have been entirely my fault."
"What's your fault?" I ask, "I mean…feel free to pick one out of your many, many faults."
He rolls his eyes, "I may have exacerbated your hate for quidditch by being…an arse."
"Wow, really?" I reply exasperatedly, "Really? You may have?"
"Fine, I did," he admits.
I sigh, handing my broom back to him, "Well, whatever you did or didn't do, the damage is done. I'm not getting back on a broomstick because it scares the living crap out of me."
"Does it really?" he asks, and I detect a touch of amusement in his face.
"Yes!" I retort, "What? Think I'm making it up. Typical, Potter, you always think the worst-"
"Hang on a second, drama queen," he interrupts, "Just think for a minute. You were scared when you started flying, correct?"
"Yes," I reply slowly, not sure of where he's going with this.
"But just now, not five minutes ago, when you were yelling bloody murder at me, were you scared?"
"Ye-" I have to pause and force myself to consider what was going on through my head at that moment.
"Were you?" James repeats, looking at me more intently.
I realise that I was so busy yelling at him, that I hadn't even had time to think about the nausea that I usually felt. In fact the height hadn't bothered me at all. What had bothered me was James not shutting up, "No. I wasn't."
James looks rather self-satisfied at this revelation, "So? That's it then!"
I raise my eyebrows incredulously, "What? When I'm screaming at you I magically stop being scared?"
"Hey," he puts up his hands in surrender, "I'm not trying to understand how that strange mind of yours works. The point is screaming seems to work for you."
"So what's your plan?" I ask, "Make me scream my head off, while I'm trying to focus on flying and catching the quaffle? What else Potter? Juggling tricks?"
Yet again he rolls his eyes, "You really are a drama queen, aren't you Wood?"
"Yes, I am," I snap, "Is that going to be a problem?"
"Never," he grins mischievously, and for a moment I have to stop and consider my current situation. James Potter is smiling at me. Sure, half of that is because he's just plain amused by me, but there's definitely some warmth there. For just a second I catch a glimpse of the old James. The one who thought it was the funniest thing in the world to throw a girl you've never met over your shoulder and carry her downstairs in her pyjamas to meet your whole family.
"But it isn't so crazy," he continues, and his expression becomes one of clarity, and I can tell by his manner that he's doing his best to convince me, "I mean, it's a distraction, isn't it? Screaming? You don't have room to think about much else."
"That's all well and good," I reply hotly, "But there is no way I'm getting up on that broom, and screaming for the entire world to hear. You hear me? No way. Face it Potter, the plan is crap."
"And you're a pessimist too," he comment, still unnervingly amused.
I suddenly have the horrible feeling that he's messing with me. He isn't exactly being nice, but he's far from his typical scowl, an expression that he reserves just for me. It's almost as if this eager, optimistic, and surprisingly helpful attitude he's suddenly adopted is to lull me into a false sense of security. Is this some sort of a trap?
I half expect Fred and Cameron to materialize from thin air, accompanied by a muggle camera crew, all yelling 'FOOLED YOU!'
Yes, I have to keep reminding myself. James is an arsehole. He has never treated you properly. No matter how nice he is acting now, that is likely to change within the next minute or so, when he will start acting cold, distant and mean.
"Come on Wood, you should at least give it a try," he says, "You never know. It could work."
"Stop it!" I cry out, unable to take another second of this weird niceness.
James looks utterly bewildered, "Stop what? Have you finally lost it?"
"Stop being nice to me!" I yell, "It's weird, and don't think that I trust you for a second!"
"I'm just trying to be helpful!" he argues back, his face looking pretty enraged by now, "Merlin, Wood, why does it always have to be complicated with you?"
I scoff loudly to show how ridiculous I think that is, "Oh, yeah, as if you're Mr. Straightforward!"
"Why are you doing this? What's the point?" he mimics me, looking even more annoyed, "Sue me for trying to do you a favour!"
"You're right, Potter," I reply angrily, "I should just forget about the fact that it has been your aim to make quidditch my personal hell ever since I joined this stupid team."
"No it hasn't!" he shouts, "Stop making up stuff in your head! I was tough on you, yes. But I was tough on you because babying you would have been much, much worse. I would never try to make it your personal hell! That's just you being a drama queen again!"
"Me being a drama queen?" I exclaim in outrage, "Wasn't it only a few weeks ago you told me that me quitting was the best thing that had ever happened to the team? That I was a waste of space? And you think I make this stuff up!"
"I was angry when I said that stuff," he replies heatedly, "You had just quit the team!"
"Judging by your attitude, you should have thrown a 'Good riddance to Stella Wood party', not yelled at me!"
"I NEVER WANTED YOU TO QUIT THE TEAM, OKAY?" he shouts. Immediately he looks as if he would like to retract that statement.
I stare at him for a moment. I swallow. I try to string together a string or two of coherent sentences. Nope, my brain is mush. Thanks a lot brain, just when I needed you most.
There is a long and seemingly never-ending silence. James coughs.
"You shouldn't have quit. You're a good keeper."
I stare, "But…but…but you told me to quit. You wanted me to quit."
Apparently all words that he might use against this statement fail him completely. His eyes are burning, and I swear I can almost feel heat radiating off him. His whole expression was flared somehow, every line, every crease was contorted with confusion, anger, and general annoyance at my existence. I detected a muscle in his cheek, his jaw was on completely edge, and I had never seen him so angry.
But the worst part is that I can tell that he isn't angry with me. He is angry at something, that's obvious, but not me. It's as though I'm witnessing an internal struggle within him, the way the conflict simmers on the surface of his face, and the way those eyes are almost on fire with antagonism.
"And you say I'm complicated," I whisper, a sound barely audible to James, let alone
Albus, who surprises us by appearing next to James, clapping him heavily on the shoulder and saying, "Um, guys? We've booked the pitch?"
James clearly registers, even though he's too busy glaring fiercely at me to respond. I glare back. What the hell is his problem? He's clearly so conflicted about something, yet he isn't talking.
"Slytherin practice?" Albus continues unhelpfully, "Now? Guys?"
I can't move until James says something, something that will break the tension.
"Wow, who died?" Albus stares at the pair of us, beginning to look concerned.
"Shut it Albus," James growls, snatching the broom from my grasp and storming off.
"Seriously who died?" Albus continues to stare in bewilderment at me.
"I'll tell you what died," I mutter, "My hopes of James ever becoming a nice person."
"What the hell were you two doing down here alone?" Albus frowns suspiciously.
"I don't know!" I cry out exasperatedly, "He just dragged me out of bed and said he's trying to get rid of my fear of flying, and then we got into a huge fight, and then I don't even know what happened!"
Albus pats me comfortingly on the back, "He's a confused bloke."
"What is there really to be confused about, though?" I mumble sulkily, staring at my shoes.
Albus shrugs, "How he feels about you, I guess."
I lean into him tiredly and let out a frustrated groan. He pulls me into a comforting hug.
"Kissy kiss kiss," chant his teammates from behind us.
Albus laughs, "Shove off the lot of you!"
"Aw, don't be embarrassed, captain!"
I roll my eyes, "How mature."
"Kiss her Al!"
"FUCK OFF!" Al roars.
They all laugh and continue to jeer.
"I'd better go," I smirk, "I've already missed breakfast, which means I have to visit the kitchens. Most important meal of the day and all."
"Okay then," he smiles, "And don't worry too much about James. He has his own issues that he has to work out on his own."
"Speaking of working out issues," I mutter low under my breath, as I spot Scorpius crossing the pitch towards us, "See if you can find out from Scorpius what happened between him and Rose yesterday. I can't get it out of either of them, and it is killing me."
Albus raises an eyebrow, "Merlin, Stella, it's called patience."
I elbow him, "Yeah, I've been patient, remember? Made a move on Ray yet?"
He glares, "Low blow, Wood."
"Whatever," I snort, "Let me know when we have to break up, won't you?"
"Of course, my sweetheart."
"Glad to hear it, cutie pie," I snigger.
"Gross," Scorpius wrinkles his nose as he approaches us, "You two need to get a room."
"Bye Scorpius," I reply immediately, before whispering directly into Al's ear, "Find out what happened and tell me later!"
"Ugh, I never want to know what you just said," Scorpius mutters, "I hate couples. Love is crap."
Scorpius' woe is me attitude is definitely suspicious. I glance meaningfully at Albus, who gives me a confirming nod.
* * *
I am still completely confused by that afternoon. I sit in the library, potions text book open in front of me, as I listen to Albus drone on about some sort of potion where using fluxweed would have really serious consequences.
"Do you think James has multiple personality disorder?" I interrupt, gazing off into the distance.
"Do I…what?" Al stares at me, "Are you even listening to me?"
"Of course I am!" I reply indignantly.
Albus doesn't buy it. He shakes his head, "This is not the way to get an exceeds expectations, Stella."
"Seriously though," I lean forward intently, "That would explain the mood swings, now wouldn't it?"
"No, Stella," Albus frowns, "James doesn't have multiple personality disorder. He's just your good, old fashioned, mixed up bloke."
I lean back sulkily in my chair, "You can't deny that it was a good theory. Your theory doesn't comfort me at all."
Albus shrugs, "Luckily for you, not all of us are like that."
I raise my eyebrows, barely able to contain a laugh, "Yeah, thank god you're not one of them. You wouldn't date one of your best friends so you could have a shot with her roommate. You're one of the good ones."
"Okay, okay," Albus interrupts, "I'm lame. I get it. Can we move on with this potions stuff?"
"Fine," I mutter begrudgingly.
But before Albus can proceed to bore me to death someone approaches us. We both look up to see Lexie.
She smiles warmly, which is a big change from yesterday, when she looked so depressed I thought she might be in danger of jumping off the astronomy tower.
"Hi guys," she grins.
I frown at her, narrowing my eyes to see if I can detect what has changed her mood, "Hi Lex. What's up?"
She glanced over her shoulder, "Oh, nothing. I'm just tutoring Cameron."
I look behind her, and sure enough there is Cameron, staring dumbfoundedly at the text book on the table in front of him.
"Seems to be going well," Albus remarks bemusedly.
I let out a little snort at this. Cameron looks so agonized at all this knowledge that is being shoved down his throat that he looks about ready to pack up and leave. But Lexie isn't fazed by our cynicsm.
"I'm off to find this book on experimental charms," she continues, "Stella, come with me?"
She gives me a meaningful look, and I obediently stand up, shrugging to Albus as I follow her towards the bookshelves.
Lexie leads me into the maze of books, away from anyone with prying ears.
"You don't need a book, do you?" I murmur nervously.
"Oh, I do," she lets out a happy smile. This is more like the old Lexie. Always happy and bubbly. So why is it making me nervous?
"Then why do you need me?" I ask.
"Oh, I just wanted to tell you that yesterday, when I was all depressed, that's over."
"Really?" I say brightly, feeling instantly less nervous, "Cameron back to his usual, dimwitted, vacuous self?"
Lexie rolls her eyes, "Yes. Thing was, last weekend, before you spent the day in the hospital wing I think, he was acting really weird and twitchy. Then yesterday, I came here all depressed, and I was pretty sure he was going to laugh at me or that maybe it would be awkward. But it wasn't. We just sat down and got on with it. It was like he had completely moved on."
Internally I breathe a sigh of relief. Thank god, Cameron had got enough common sense into himself, and decided that nervous and desperate wasn't a good look in front of the ladies.
Maybe he's gotten over it completely. Lexie can move on, and we can forget this ever happened.
"That's great Lex," I smile.
"Anyway, just wanted to let you know," She says, "Only problem is I still like him."
Crap. Of course, nothing is ever that simple.
"But I can work it out," she adds, "You haven't said anything to anyone, right?"
Guilt sweeps through me like a tidal wave. I almost break down right there, and tell her the truth about my big, fat mouth.
Then I remember that she has dragged me into one of the darkest corners of the library, where no one ever goes. It could be days before someone finds my body.
I decide that should the time come when I am forced to tell Lexie the truth, I will tell her in an open, public place, preferably with lots and lots of witnesses.
"No," I answer.
I am going to hell. I am going straight to hell.
"Anyway," she says, leading me out of the bookshelves and towards Cameron, who is still sitting, staring at the text book with such confusion that you'd think the book was written in a different language, "I should get back to tutoring."
We reach the table together. Cameron looks up at us, smiles at Lexie, and then looks at me. His eyes widen like he's trying to tell me something. Like he's trying to send me some sort of confused signal.
Maybe that's the face he uses when he's thinking. It's pretty rare, after all.
Lexie throws up her hands and sighs, "Oh damn, I forgot the book! Be right back."
Cameron smiles weakly at her, before grabbing my attention with another piercing stare as soon as she turns her back.
"What's wrong Cameron?" I ask flatly, "Blink once if you can hear me."
"You have to help me," he hisses frantically.
I widen my eyes in panic. Clearly Lexie was mistaken when she said that Cameron has changed. "I thought we were past this Cameron! For the last time you can't say anything to Lexie!"
"I won't, but you have to help me," he insists, emphasizing every word with increasing urgency.
I frown, pausing to look down at the text book, "Merlin, Cameron. Charms isn't that hard to understand. I thought Lexie was helping you."
Cameron shakes his head, pushing the book away dismissively, "It's not that! You have to find me another tutor. Lexie's being so nice and patient, and I can't stand it. It's driving me insane!"
I frown in even deeper confusion, "She's a good tutor. Being nice and patient, that's what it's all about."
Yet again Cameron shakes his head, "No, she's too nice. You have to talk to her."
"Come on Cameron," I roll my eyes, "Being too nice? That's hardly something to complain about."
Finally Cameron takes a deep breath, calms down and lowers his voice to a low and almost incoherent mutter, "The problem isn't that I don't like it. It's that I do."
My eyes widen as I finally understand what he means.
"A-are you serious?" I gasp, almost speechless, "Y-you like-?"
Cameron glances over his shoulder and sees Lexie coming towards us at a faster pace than either of us would like.
"This doesn't have to be a big deal, ok?" he insists, "But you have to talk to her. Get her to stop tutoring me, because this is too damn hard."
Before I can protest Lexie comes over, a typical, sunny smile in place, "Found it!" she exclaims.
I offer her a weak grin, before giving Cameron a quick nod and turning back towards Albus.
"What was all that about?" Albus frowns at me.
"Nothing," I reply lightly, before sitting down.
"You and Cameron seemed to be talking about something pretty intense," he frowns suspiciously.
"Oh you know, the usual intense conversation. His hair."
I give myself a mental slap in the face for coming up with that excuse of dog crap. Albus raises an eyebrow in disbelief.
"Yeah," I laugh nervously, "He tried out a new conditioner, but it's too much strawberry, not enough coconut."
Albus keeps his eyebrows raised, "Cameron uses strawberry and coconut conditioner?" But after a moment it all seems to make sense to him, "Yeah, I can actually see that happening."
Oh, thank Merlin for Cameron's vanity.
I lean back in my seat and stare pensively outside the open window.
So Cameron has actually developed feelings for Lexie. Instead of betraying my friend by spilling the beans to Cameron, I may have actually set the grounds for a real relationship between them.
I glance back to Cameron. Lexie chats animatedly to him, pointing out different things in the text book. Instead of following her finger, and taking in the information that she's saying to him, Cameron's eyes are fixated on her face, almost unable to look away.
No way am I telling Lexie to stop tutoring Cameron. Not when they both feel like this about each other.
"You have a weird look in your eye," Albus points out.
"Do I?" I reply, tearing my eyes away from Lexie and Cameron.
"Yeah, like some sort of evil, diabolical plan is being hatched in your mind right now."
"Maybe," I grin.
Albus shakes his head, "You should stay away from the matchmaking, Stella. It doesn't turn out well for anyone."
"Hey!" I exclaim indignantly, "You and Ray are now closer than I would have ever thought possible, all thanks to my plan!"
"Actually, I believe that was Rose's plan," he smirks.
"Same difference," I mutter.
"And those two wouldn't go near each other with a ten foot pole," Albus says knowingly.
"Who? Lexie and Cameron?" I ask him indignantly.
Albus raises his eyebrow, "Who said I was talking about Lexie and Cameron?"
I glare at him, "Ooh, you got me. And who's to say they wouldn't go near each other? They're sitting together right now."
"Yeah, but as a couple?" Albus glances at the pair, "You really think that would work? Cameron is a serial womanizer, and Lexie is so bookish that she practically lives in the library. Please explain how that would work out."
I shrug, "Opposite's attract."
Albus sighs, "Speaking of which, Scorpius remains mum on the subject of Rose."
I let out a groan of frustration, "Why won't they just tell us what happened?"
"Probably because it's too embarrassing," Albus admits.
"We'll have to get it out of them at some point," I say matter-of-factly.
"Of course," Albus says, "But for now let's go back to potions, shall we? Where was I? Oh yeah, fluxweed."
My very own form of escapism.
A/N: Thoughts? i'll be honest, I quite like this chapter. I think it sheds some light on James, how he used to be, and how confused he is.
But moving on from all that serious stuff, did you miss anyone this time? I missed out quite a few characters, because otherwise it would have been all over the place, but did you enjoy it? What do you think James' deal is? Are you at all intruiged by Rose and Scorpius? Do you agree with Stella or Al on whether Lexie and Cameron would make a good couple? Let me know!
No preview yet, sorry, i haven't quite got started...please don't hate me!
Please, please review! I love reading them, and although I don't answer right away, I will do eventually! Favourite quotes, a mark out of ten, even simply whether you liked it or not, I would really love to know!
Right, off to study for my maths exam. Oh, how I love the IB.