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Chapter 3: Conversations and a Dip in the Black Lake
Chapter Three - Conversations and a Dip in the Black Lake
The journey back to Hogwarts is a quiet one, Alice and Frankie are focused on a game of muggle cards, Sally has her nose stuck in a book and Amanda has gone off somewhere. I flick through the pages of the Quibbler I’m reading, not really taking anything in, when the door to our compartment slides open.
“Eloise? Can I talk to you?” I sigh and nod, James slumps down in the seat next to me. “What should I do?” he sighs. “Was it really that bad? I can’t help how I feel Eloise, I can’t help that every other thought I have is of her… Albus is really mad isn’t he?”
“James… He punched you, of course he’s mad! Wouldn’t you be if he had kissed a girl that he knew you liked?”
“But Al doesn’t like girls, not usually anyway. Urgh, why did this have to happen?” he slaps his forehead with the palm of his hand in frustration. “Why did we have to fall for the same freaking girl, Eloise? Tell me what I should do,” he looks at me, begging for an answer.
“You should do what you feel is right, it is not really my place to tell you what to do James Sirius Potter – that is up to you, it’s your mess, you have to sort it out… I would suggest you try and talk to Albus though.”
“Alright James?” Frankie butts in, shoving the pack of muggle cards into the pocket of her robes. “What happened to your nose?” Turning to look at James again I can see the faint bruising and swelling caused by Albus’ fist.
“Al punched him,” Alice grins. “You gonna tell us why yet?” James shakes his head and gets up.
“See ya,” attempting to mess up my hair, he exits the compartment.
The common room is unusually quiet, the numerous sofas and armchairs are empty and there is no noise coming from the round doorways leading off to the dormitories. I slump down on an oversized cushion by the fireplace and pull out a book.
“Fucking hell,” someone gasps as they stubble into the room. “Eloise you are never going to believe what I just saw…” Frankie looks around the almost empty common room. “James just kissed a Slytherin,” she says in a stage whisper. “In front of the whole school, in the Great Hall…” she continues, giving details that I hardly care about. So that is it? James has actually fallen for someone… someone that isn’t me. That’s not how my fairy tale story ends. “Eloise!”
“Did you just hear anything I just said?”
“Yes, James kissed Vivian Nott.”
“Is that her name? Wait- how do you know?”
“He was telling me about her at Lily’s party.”
Frankie blinks twice before shrugging and running back down the passageway, no doubt to spread the gossip to someone who will have a better reaction than mine. So this is it? Well I hope he’s happy. I turn back to my book trying desperately to ignore the gnawing feeling in my stomach. The words blur before my eyes and become a trail of meaningless letters. Blinking, I feel warm droplets of water sliding down my cheeks.
I don’t know how long I sit like this, staring blankly at the pages of my once riveting book, letting hot tears splash onto the faded parchment and feeling the numbness spread throughout my body. James has done this before, I keep telling myself. And he had, James had had countless girlfriends and flings in the past, why should this one be any different? Because he never admitted to feeling anything for the other ones. Oh, shut up brain, you’re not helping.
“Whoa, Eloise, you realise first lesson started like ten minutes ago?” I glance over my shoulder, tactfully wiping the tears away, to see Lewis Peterson – Hufflepuff’s seeker and Amanda Smith’s long term boyfriend – standing awkwardly in the doorway to the boys’ dorms, clearly surprised to find me here.
“Yeah, I was feeling a bit off so skipped,” I smile, he knows I’m lying – I never skip any lessons and I’m never ill – but he doesn’t ask any further, no doubt afraid he will end up with an overly emotional girl on his hands.
“Okay, see ya,” he darts down the passage way and I am left alone again.
“Eloise!” a familiar voice calls from the other end of the passage. “Are you in there? I need to talk to you.” I stumble over to the passage way and tap the barrels at the end to let me out.
“Shouldn’t you be in lessons?” I raise my eye brow at him.
“Shouldn’t you?” he asks with a cocky grin. I roll my eyes.
“What do you want?”
“I kissed her… again… last night and this morning… in front of everyone…” he pauses. “Al hates me.”
“If I were Al I’d hate you too.”
“Do you really like her?”
“Did you talk to Al?”
“I tried but he-” I raise my eyebrow at him again. “No.”
“You want go swimming?” changing the subject swiftly, I avoid the tears threatening to spill onto my cheeks.
“Swimming… In the lake.”
“Because it’ll be fun.” James looks at me as if I have gone mad then, deciding that I am actually being serious, he grabs my hand and drags me through the corridors and towards the Black Lake before I can change my mind.
We skirt the shores of the lake until we get to our usual spot, the only thing unusual this time is that I am going swimming – normally James just goes in by himself. James immediately strips to his boxers, his muscles rippling across his beautiful chest and I bite my lips to hold back a smile.
“Come on Lou,” he grins. Reluctantly, I pull my robes over my head, feeling somewhat uncomfortable with James so close by. Silently, I thank Merlin that I put on decent underwear this morning. “Coming…?” he holds out his hand to me and I take it, ignoring the butterflies in my stomach.
The water is icy cold and the weak sunlight that filters through the trees on the edge of the lake does little to warm me. Suddenly, I am submerged in the icy depths and come up spluttering for air.
“James, you twat!” I squeal as he swims away from me. Braving the cold, I follow him and get my revenge.
“Trying to drown me Macmillan?”
“Maybe...” I turn my face away so he cannot see the blush that crawls across my face as his hands grab my waist under the surface. He slides them round and pulls me closer, his touch is like burning fire next to the cold caress of the water. “What are you doing?”
“Drowning you,” he winks, pulling me down into the lake. I should really think about my breathing. His hands are still burning holes in my waist. Breathing. Hands. Breathing… Seriously, breathing. Can’t breathe. James.
“Shit,” I splutter eventually. Dragging my dazed body to the shore, I crawl up onto the bank and flop down on my back, taking deep, heavenly gasps of delightful oxygen. “Were you trying to kill me?” I ask James as he flops down beside me. He just grins his stupid, cocky, heart wrenching grin.
“You’re so different to Lily, she would have punched me for doing that.”
“Probably because she is a Potter and I am just a helpless Macmillan,” I say, rolling over and propping myself up on my elbows.
“You might as well be a Potter… Hey! Maybe you could marry Al! Then you really would be like my sister.” I drop my head to hide the look on my face – that is all James will ever see me as: his sister by all means but blood.
“Seriously, it would solve all my problems; Al wouldn’t be mad at me because he has a beautiful wife, Vivian would be free of any ties with Al and I could still see you all the time. Problem solved.” I sigh – your problems maybe but it would create a fair few new problems for me… like being married to the brother of the guy I love… or seeing the guy I love in love with someone else… Wait, did James just call me beautiful?
No, I am not vain… But this is James…And he called be beautiful.
Get a grip Eloise.
“Lou? You okay?”
“Hmm…? Yeah, I’m fine, just cold.” He flicks his wand at me and I am suddenly filled with a gentle warmth that spreads outwards from my core and trickles down into the tips of my fingers. “Thanks.”
“No worries,” there is an edge to his voice, the sort of edge he gets as he plans one of his master pranks. I pull a face at him. “What…?” he asks innocently.
“Whatever you’re thinking – stop.”
“What makes you think I’m thinking anything?”
“You’ve got that look in your eye – the look you got when you’re plotting something.”
“I’m not plotting anything…” he fakes innocence. “Except, maybe, this!” he launches himself at me and starts tickling me all over, seriously, I can’t even breath – this kid either wants me to die or wants to be killed himself!
“James- Stop- James-” I gasp between breaths, he just ignores me. He is lying on top of me now, tickling every available piece of skin – which, seeing as I am only wearing my underwear, is quite a lot. He continues to ignore my protests and eventually I don’t even have the breath to protest. Seriously, I am the most ticklish person I know, every part of me is ticklish, even just running a finger down my arm makes me giggle.
If this goes on any longer, I am going to suffocate.
“Fuck,” James gasps as he rolls off of me and onto his back as a direct result of my well aimed knee.
“And that is why you don’t tickle me,” I growl after recovering my breath once again.
Blowing the leaf hanging in front of my face from one of the many plants in our dorm, I continue to watch Alice on her rampage.
“I just can’t believe him! She’s a Slytherin for crying out loud! I thought he knew better than that!” she repeats for what seems like the hundredth time in the last ten minutes. “I mean she’s not even nice!"
“I’m sure James sees something in her,” I butt in edgeways.
“Like what? She’s not even pretty!”
“Really? I would say she was, I mean she has the most amazing black curls and ivory skin.”
“Yeah but James doesn’t like that sort of thing – he likes big boobs and big butts and she has neither!”
“Well apparently that’s not all he looks for… Have you thought that he might actually like her? Like, like, like her?”
“Are you trying to tell me you think James has fallen in love for this girl?”
“Well… maybe not love,” Frankie says, coming into the dorm with an armful of books,“but he sure as hell has fallen in something! I’ve never seen him like this, in Defence earlier, he did not stop grinning the whole lesson; even Creevey was giving him funny looks.”
“I just don’t get it!” Alice sighs, sinking down onto her bed. “James doesn’t fall for girls, not properly anyway, why did he have to fall for her?”
“She’s mysterious; she has never thrown herself at him because he is famous, he actually has to chase her which is something he’s not used to. Guys like to chase,” Frankie shrugs.
“Yeah but she’s a Slytherin, I just don’t get it.”
“What’s not to get?” I snap. “James likes her and wants to be with her. That’s it.” Alice and Frankie look startled – I never snap. “Sorry, I’m just tired,” I yawn to put truth behind my lie and grab my pyjamas. The two girls glance at each other and shrug, clearly at a loss of what to say.
Lying in my bed, I think of all the times I have spent with James over the last seven years and a knot forms in my stomach – what if those days are coming to an end. What if, after this year finishes, I never see James again…
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