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Chapter 3: So Then We Grew A Little.
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Pause. There’s a little bit of twisted psychology involved in the way our minds work that needs be explained before this tale can proceed in its succinct manner.
At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, no matter how much people like Abigail grumble and whine about the antics of James Potter, if so much as one of his artfully tousled hairs is harmed on the Quidditch pitch, they will cause a magnificently hypocritical uproar.
Especially when it’s his very own, little brother that does the harming.
I stared in horror as Professor McGonagall strode onto the pitch, her wand held aloft and her face wet with rain and red with fury. The Gryffie team was huddled around James Potter, with the crowd pouring in behind them despite McGonagall’s yelling to stay away. The Puffs were still on their brooms, watching in silent shock while the sky thundered overhead.
Meanwhile Albus Potter, slowly becoming the most hated Potter alive, stood watching gormlessly as his one punch sent the entirety of Hogwarts into a state. He opened his mouth as his little sister Lily ran onto the pitch, tears streaming down her face as she brushed past him without a second look.
“Oh my god,” Abigail whispered, her eyes getting larger and impossibly rounder with every passing second. “Is he okay?”
“I mean, he has a thick skull,” I grinned weakly. My hilarity was met with a look of pure hatred. “Sorry, gallows humor. Not that he’s dead, I mean –!”
“Just stop, Lyra, for Merlin’s sake,” Abigail sighed, still gazing down at the commotion. “Why won’t anyone take him to the hospital wing?”
Almost a quarter of an hour had passed since the already legendary fall of James Potter, making her question a most legitimate one. I craned my neck and followed her line of vision. The crowd looked more confused than angry, and McGonagall was shaking her head looking flabbergasted and a little relieved. In the midst of it all, I could see messy black hair tossing in the wind and a fist pumping into the air with a flash of gold –
“Oh my god,” I breathed, the pieces finally locking together in my head. “He caught it.”
“What?” Abigail looked around me, half-listening. “Who caught what?”
“James Potter. Caught. The. Snitch.”
Abigail screamed as Potter struggled to stand, the Snitch gleaming in his hand for all to see. “JAMES POTTER CAUGHT THE SNITCH!”
In a matter of two days, that Quidditch match had become kind of an accidental legend. It was only Monday morning and I was already sick of hearing about the magnificent triumphs of James Potter, Quidditch extraordinaire.
No one but me seems to remember the pure outrage that they had been spewing at his expense during the match. But of course, now that he’s “heroically managed to snatch up the Snitch, while rendered helpless by a punch and fall,” he’s all the rage.
I tried to not roll my eyes as our section of the house table rambled on about Potter.
First there was Abigail who, based on her reaction on Saturday, was going to stop talking about this around, let’s say, NEVER o’clock.
Secondly, there was Noah who, although not a huge fan of Potter, nevertheless was highly impressed by his feat. Also, as a chaser on the Gryffindor team, he was almost indebted to Potter for catching the Snitch and leaving him some dignity to uphold.
Third was Dom Weasley, who was sucking face with her latest boy toy and contributing not at all to the conversation. She was, however, making Noah visibly furious with every audible moan.
Fourth was Fred Weasley, fourth on the list of Hogwarts’ hotties, obligated to praise his cousin both through his blood and his spot as a beater on the team. Currently, Fred could be seen hanging on to Abigail’s every Quidditch-obsessed word with glazed eyes and a mouth slightly ajar.
Last, and certainly least in this situation, was little old me, hands cupping my face as my brain turned into mush. There’s only so many times I can hear the word “heroic” in regards to Quidditch match and not go numb in the neurons.
I made the mistake of yawning uncontrollably, which immediately caused everyone to glare at me. Except for Dom, who was still kissing Boy Toy Number Who Even Keeps Count Any Longer.
“Oh yeah, I forgot, Lyra hates James,” Fred winked at me. “Everyone stop talking about him now.”
I rolled my eyes. “I do not HATE Potter. I just think people need to get over it.”
Abigail snorted most attractively. “You totally screamed when you realized he’d caught the Snitch, so don’t even act like you don’t care.”
“I care! Sure I do! It was exciting and yay! We didn’t lose to the Puffs! And all that good stuff,” I squealed in mock celebration. “But let’s not forget why he got punched in the first place.”
“’Cause Albus is more uptight than you?” Fred grinned.
“No. I’m not uptight. Shut up,” I sighed. “I mean that James Potter acts out during every single match and that’s why Albus finally lost it.”
“Nah, you just hate him. I bet you can’t say one polite word to him.”
“I can too!” I exclaimed, annoyed. “I talk to him politely all the time!”
“No you don’t, it doesn’t count if you whine about it afterward,” Abigail countered. Her blue eyes twinkled mischievously. “In fact, I DARE you to go talk to him politely.”
I stared at her, slack-jawed. “What?”
“Yeah,” Abigail declared victoriously, raising both her arms above her head in triumph. “Go find Potter and talk to him politely. If you don’t we’ll know, because for one thing your face will be all red and annoyed. And we’ll ask James if we have to.”
“I like this,” Freddie whispered conspiratorially. “I like this a lot.”
“Leave her alone you guys,” Noah finally spoke up. “Potter isn’t that fun to talk to.”
Abigail smacked Noah’s shoulder. “Shut up Fleming. This is happening.”
“No it’s not,” I pressed, staring from one so-called friend to another. “You can’t make me.”
Apparently Potter hangs out at the Astronomy Tower after dinner. Pondering deep, meaningful thoughts, no doubt.
Cursing my weakness for pancakes and my masochistic tendencies, I walked up to where he was leaning against the edge of the tower.
“Abigail has dared me to have a polite conversation with you,” I announced without looking at him. But I didn’t need to, because I know quite well that he was smirking at the declaration.
“I’m deeply honored,” he replied, inclining his head slightly in a mock gesture of respect. I rolled my eyes and tried to stop myself from huffing like I normally do.
“Please don’t be sarcastic. It doesn’t really help me with the whole politeness ordeal,” I replied, still not daring to look at him. From the corner of my eyes I saw him smiling. Not smirking. I took a deep breath and forced myself to not put my peripheral vision to use.
“I find it impossible not to be sarcastic when I talk to you,” he stated matter-of-factly after smiling mysteriously for a moment or two.
I couldn’t help it; I huffed and turned to face him, hands on my hips. “What is it about me that makes you so sarcastic?”
He stared down at me, his eyes twinkling. “Good question.”
“And do you have an answer?”
The typicality of his answer and the Muggle reference made me sigh. Exhausted, I turned away and resumed my vacant perusal of the school grounds. I could never get anything out of him without wanting to shoot myself in the head. “I think I’m going to lose this dare,” I mused out loud.
I jumped as he let out a bark of laughter. “I knew it was impossible for you to be polite to me!” he exclaimed, throwing his head back in delight. I stared at him, captivated by the way he looked at that moment: his hair a messy mop and his eyes sparkling in the darkness. But of course I couldn’t let his mirth, or his sex appeal, win the argument for him.
“False, Potter. I think I’m fairly polite to you sometimes. There’s just something about you – ” I paused, feeling discomfited by my diction, then continued, “there’s just something that’s making it particularly difficult lately.”
He fixed me with his piercing gaze. “And what’s that?” he asked, turning to lean his elbows against the railing.
I shrugged, pseudo-nonchalant as always. “I dunno. Your personality?”
“Yeah, that’d be it. I’m just an enormous jerk really.” He said the words like a joke, but with a hint of unease in his voice. I sighed, feeling guilty.
“That’s not true. You told me once that you were really nice,” I insisted, crossing my arms against the cold breeze that had just hit the tower.
“Indeed I did,” he smiled, looking at me from the corner of his eye. “I just like being that way. Annoying I mean. I’m really just a super sweet kid who’s really quite sensitive inside.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “You’re a super tall, sweet and secretly sensitive kid who’s apparently really good at catching Snitches when punched and falling from his broom.”
“You’re just super short and uncoordinated,” he chuckled.
“That is SO not true,” I glared at him. “Well I am uncoordinated. But you’re height is just abnormal.”
“I know,” he replied, staring at the wall behind me.
“That wasn’t an insult!” I hurried to reassure myself that I was still winning.
“Neither are my comments and observations.”
I paused. I didn’t know if he meant what he said about my height, or every time he has irked me since the moment we met.
“Of course not, I’m 5 feet, 8 inches tall!” I exclaimed, choosing to interpret it as the former.
“I’m 6 feet, 4 inches tall!”
“I know, right?”
I smiled. “Look at us, getting along.”
He did look at me then, his eyes arresting mine so very suddenly. I stared helplessly, not wanting to be caught, but unable to look away. His eyes slowly traced the features of my face, and when they reached my lips, my breath caught in my chest. My gaze fluttered down to his mouth, and for a nanosecond I wanted to just get rid of all the pretenses I had built up and do something, anything, just once–
“It’s weird, isn’t it?” he laughed suddenly, draining the tension as quickly as he had created it. I felt my heart stagger in anticlimax. Typical.
“Yeah,” I replied, trying to keep the emotion from my voice. “Weirdly normal.”
“And that wasn’t an insult?” he asked, a smirk spreading across his face once more.
Abigail cocked her second eyebrow. “Does he do this a lot?” she questioned, watching Potter’s retreating form.
“Yes,” I sighed, “he annoys me a whole lot.”
“Well, go after him!” Abigail shrieked. “Time for some damage control!”
“What, why?” I wailed, throwing my hands into the air in frustration. “What does it matter if he heard? I mean nothing to him!”
She glared at me in unadulterated annoyance. “I am not letting you ruin all the progress from last night. Go be nice to him now, or no more cheesecake.”
Regardless, I do love cheesecake. More than I hate Potter or being late to Potions.
“Potter,” I gasped, “wait!”
He turned and looked at me sardonically, an eyebrow cocked at my panting self. “Yes?”
I ran the last few stops, gasping. His stupid long legs were what made his tallness so irritating if you ask me. “I need to talk to you!”
He smirked and began walking backwards. “I already know what you’re going to say.”
“Oh really?” I enquired, cocking an eyebrow of my own and following him at a slower pace. Of course the effect was a little ruined by my red face and uncontrollable, gasping breaths.
“You’re going to tell me off about something or the other,” he grinned, with a look of victory on his face.
I huffed. “That’s not…exactly hard to guess. Anyway, you really shouldn’t eavesdrop on our conversations. Abigail and I thought it was most rude of you.”
He smirked. “Abigail is over the moon about our newfound friendship. And I think I have the right to eavesdrop on conversations about my personality.”
I rolled my eyes. “We’re not friends. And what makes you think we were talking about you?”
“Are you serious?” he stared at me, apparently taken aback by my denial. “’Tall,’ ‘insensitive,’ and ‘rude.’ You CONSTANTLY use those words to describe me. Not that I get why my height annoys you so much.”
“Well yes, I do,” I replied, annoyed. “But don’t forget, you recently informed that you are quite sensitive inside.”
He laughed, running his hands through his already messed up hair. “Yeah, which is why you said the words ‘but really quite sensitive inside’ to Abigail right after.”
Damn. “Oh but you know why that wasn’t about you?” I replied in a pseudo-snotty voice. “Because I don’t believe that you are really sensitive inside.”
He stared at me, the humor in his eyes suddenly gone. “You know what?” he snapped, making me jump a little. He paused and took a little breath. “Fine. If you say so. Anyway, I’m hungry. So I’m going to go now. Goodbye.”
And he walked off.
And I stood there, too confused for the irritation to set in.
“CARRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” I screamed, throwing my books around the dormitory in frustration.
Carrie’s head popped out from under the bed. “WHO DIED?”
I paused, staring at her wavy red hair in confusion. “Why are you under the bed?”
Carrie pouted. “Hiding.”
“Okay,” I shrugged. There were definitely more important matters to attend to right now.
Carrie smiled. “Anyway, WHO DIED?”
I groaned. “NOT POTTER UNFORTUNATELY!”
Carrie sighed. “Oh dearie, what did he do now?”
“Ask me what he didn’t do. HE. IS. THE. MOST. OBNOXIOUS. AND IRRITATING. AND STUPID. AND IRRITATING. AND CARRIE, I SWEAR TO GAWWWD ONE OF THESE DAYS I’M JUST GOING TO…!”
“Kiss him.” Carrie said matter-of-factly.
“What?” I stared at her, startled, my hands frozen in the air from when I was demonstrating the best way to strangle Potter’s neck.
“One of these days you’re just going to kiss him,” Carrie announced, ducking her head back under the bed. “Oh Lyra, don’t yell, they’ll find me.”
“I’m not going to kiss him Carrie. Quite the contrary. He’s just irritating me SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.” I grinded my teeth in anger.
“Yes, right now, but when it’s not right now, then you will.”
I rolled my eyes. “Can we talk about what Potter did and stop hypothesizing the kiss that will never happen?”
“If we must.”
So I told her.
I stared. “Huh? I ran all the way up here and I’m missing Potions for this so please humor me.”
“Well,” came the muffled reply. Carrie was still under the bed. “Sounds like he was trying to prove his point.”
“Prove. What. Point?” I glared at her invisible head.
“The point about him being really sensitive inside. By acting upset and leaving the conversation in a huff, he really did prove that he was sensitive inside.”
“Now go please, you’re attracting attention to my whereabouts.”