Chapter 7 : Sound Effects and Overdramatics
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I wish that a meteorite would come crashing down from the enchanted ceiling and hit me on the head. That way, one of two things would happen: I’d either be rendered unconscious or, if life actually decided to relinquish its vendetta against me, I would drop dead. Although, judging by the glare I was receiving from Lucinda, it would only be a matter of time before I would crumple to the ground, dead. Not that anyone would care.
I subconsciously shrank back, my shoulder brushing against Remus’s. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eyes, his normally smooth brow furrowed in concern. The only thing he needed to be worried about were the thunderous words that threatened to escape Lucinda’s perfect mouth.
I vaguely marveled at the fact that she hadn’t spontaneously combusted yet. Her exquisite face was contorted, distorted even, into an expression beyond rage. Her pale skin was an ugly color of puce. Anger most certainly did not become her. In any other situation, I would have been struggling to keep my laughter under control, but this wasn’t an every day scenario. Oh no, the beautiful blonde’s anger was directed at me and the only person who seemed to notice was Remus.
“Move over, Moons,” commanded Sirius, his oddly soothing voice calming my nerves. I hadn’t even realized that I was nervous in the first place. Not until he spoke, at least.
Remus opened his mouth to say something, still looking at me and, most likely, seeing the fearful look in my eyes. But Lucinda beat him to it.
“There’s no more room here, baby,” came her sickeningly sweet, yet incredibly annoying voice. I cringed inwardly as she gave his arm a sharp tug, wondering how anyone could be so…well, I don’t know what word I’m searching for, as none seem to fit. “Let’s go sit at my table,” she insisted, pulling on his arm again as she sent me a scathing look. Oh, if looks could kill, then I would die worry free.
Sirius jerked his arm roughly out of her talons -- er, I mean fingers. He looked down at his arm briefly before his eyes flashed to her lovely face. The sternness in his silver depths seemed to lessen and he sighed. He didn’t say anything as he nudged his way onto the bench. You know, without considering the fact that someone else might actually be occupying it, a.k.a. me. He stepped on my toe and hit me square in the face with the point of his elbow.
“Oi!” Remus said. “Watch it, Pads.”
“What’d I do?”
“You knocked Eleanor in the face with your elbow.”
Why did Remus had to be such a gentleman? Couldn’t he just have let it slide? I didn’t care that Sirius had elbowed me in the face, so why did he? It hadn’t hurt that much anyway. I mean, yeah, my nose was throbbing and I had bit into the inside of my cheek, but other than that, I was injury free. Besides, it was an unnecessary shift of attention to me.
I tried to keep my attention focused on my half-empty plate of food, but it was a lot harder than I would have thought it to have been, considering there were six pairs of eyes glued on me. I shifted uncomfortably under the intense scrutiny. Did they all have to stare at me like stupid idiots? Merlin have mercy!
Sirius was the first to recover. With a shake of his head and a gleam of his light eyes, he gracefully sank down onto the bench beside me. I scooted closer to Remus, a sheepish smile on my face as I was pressed tightly against his side as Lucinda sat down as well. I could feel her glaring at me from around Sirius while he piled both of their plates full of food, looking incredibly happy.
If only he knew the truth about his so-called perfect girlfriend. I bet he wouldn’t like her very much then, or look as happy with himself like he did now. Unfortunately, I had made the Devil herself a promise and thought I may not like her, I wouldn’t go back on my word. Besides, I didn’t have anything against Sirius. At least, nothing more than the next person, so I wouldn’t bring that kind of unhappiness upon him unless the situation with Lucinda and Amos got worse.
Conversation commenced around me, and thankfully, it wasn’t about me. Neither Alice nor James talked to me, as they were deep into Quidditch talk with Sirius. Peter was too engrossed with his foot to care what was going on around him. And Lucinda, well, she was looking into the back of her spoon, dragging her finger along the edge of her lips to wipe away all stray access of lip gloss that might’ve smeared. Vain little bitch.
Wow, I was in quite the mood today, wasn’t I?
Remus, however, was staring at me, waiting for me to make a move. It was slightly unnerving.
I cleared my throat as quietly as possible, as I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, and turned slightly to the left to look at Remus. “I’m going to go,” I muttered, tearing my eyes away from my plate and staring up into his face.
“Why?” he asked, sounding disappointed.
“I’m finished with my dinner and I have a lot of homework to do that’s due tomorrow,” I answered.
He could understand that, right? After all, he was a Prefect.
“Oh,” or maybe he couldn’t, “That’s all right.”
Ah, I knew I liked Remus for a reason. I looked down at my hands. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it, Eleanor. I understand. I have a lot of homework as well.”
Or maybe he did. Like I said, I knew I liked him for a reason.
Pushing away from the table, I struggled to worm my way off the bench. Neither Sirius nor Lucinda gave any inclination that they knew of my struggle, so it was increasingly difficult to get my left leg out from underneath the table. I jiggled my leg, cursing under my breath before I gave a frustrated kick…and succeeded in nailing Sirius in the shin with the back of my shoe.
“Ouch!” he cried out, small bits of food flying out of his mouth. I opened my mouth to apologize, but Lucinda was fawning over him before I could get a word out. Oh well.
Remus gripped my elbow so I wouldn’t topple over as I freed my leg. I struggled to ignore the frantic fluttering of butterflies in my stomach. Grindelwald be damned, I was acting like some silly little tart!
“Thanks for letting me sit with you,” I muttered, looking away sheepishly.
“Anytime.” He smiled, taking his hand off my elbow. “Again tomorrow?”
I smiled back timidly, my skin burning where he had held my elbow. “Maybe.”
X - X - X
I stared longingly out the window, my eyes following the drops of rain as they made their slow descent toward the bottom of the pane. I was glad I sat in the back corner by the window. Not only could I daydream, but I could gaze outside and wish that I was out there. I wasn’t the biggest fan of thunderstorms, but rainstorms I could deal with. I could still remember when I was younger, my father would take me outside when it was raining and we’d try to catch raindrops in our mouths.
I sighed and glanced down at the watch on my wrist. I still had another fifteen minutes left of this class. Would it ever go any faster or would time slow down completely? I hoped not. I don’t think I could handle the sound of Binns’s monotone voice for the rest of eternity. Could you imagine how horrible that would be? I shudder at the mere thought of it.
While I stared out the window, I let my mind wander. It’s not like anything I would write down would help me remember what Binns’s had been talking about…okay, so maybe it would, but it’s not like I was going to use History of Magic at any point in my life as it were, so that made it unimportant.
Anyway, that’s not the point.
I didn’t want to go to my last lesson of the day. The familiar lump of dread was already forming in the pit of my stomach, which was gurgling uncomfortably. Maybe I could make myself throw up a few minutes into the class and leave? I wouldn’t have to go to the Hospital Wing because it would be unnecessary, so why not give it a try? The only flaw in the plan I saw was that I hated vomiting. That could prove to be a problem, don’t you think?
Shaking my head to myself, I looked out the window at the Quidditch Pitch. I could barely make it out through the haze of the rain nor from the angle the classroom was positioned at. A massive tree was blocking the majority of it from my view. I don’t know why I was so fascinated with staring at the Pitch, but I was.
I had never learned how to play Quidditch as it didn’t hold much interest to me. It wasn’t that the sport was boring, not in the slightest, it was just probable that I would - well, I’m going to be honest with myself - not only would I suck, but I would probably die the first match I played three seconds into it. Not only did I not do too well with nerves, but I wasn’t exactly the best flier. It wasn’t because I didn’t like heights, I just didn’t know how to control the damn broom. I want it to go left, it goes right. I want it to go up - you guessed it! It goes down. Besides, it was a bit too rough for me and, in my opinion, seemed like a man’s sport, no matter how much girls liked to argue otherwise. I wasn’t doubting any of the females’ skills, I just don’t fancy playing the sport myself.
Oh vey, if feminists could hear the conversations going on in my head right now, I’d be flayed like a fish. I cringed at the idea of hundreds of women coming rushing at me with their pitchforks raised and fists clenched and shaking mightily. I didn’t do so well with crowds.
The shrill sound of the bell cut through my thoughts. There was a chorus of chairs scraping against the flagstone and the general shuffle toward the door. I hung back like I always did, taking my time to shove my stuff into my satchel. Pushing a hand through my hair, I moved my fringe out of my eyes before I shouldered my bag. On the way out of the door, I gave a small wave to Mr. Binns, who didn’t seem to notice at all.
I was halfway down the hall when it happened. A strong hand clamped down around my upper arm and I was roughly tugged into a dark alcove. Before I could open my mouth to protest, I was being slammed against a wall, my teeth rattling in my skull. I blinked away the wetness that had gathered in my eyes as best as I could, trying in vain to clear my vision of all haziness.
“Could you let go?” I asked meekly, scrunching up my face as I anticipated the fist that would most likely coming hurling in my direction.
Much to my surprise, the grip on my arm was released and I could feel a surge of blood rushing through my veins.
“Open your eyes, you stupid cow,” growled a familiar voice. “You look like an idiot.”
Reluctantly, I unwrinkled my face and opened my eyes. I found myself staring into the obnoxiously beautiful face of Lucinda Matthews, her head several inches away from mine. Well, this was just fantastic, wasn’t it? I tried to shy away, but she put a hand on either side of my head.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she leered, baring her perfectly straight teeth.
I stared at her, completely dumbstruck. What in the name of Circe was she talking about? “Um, I’m not following?” The pitch of my voice rose as my sentence came to a close.
Lucinda rolled her brilliant eyes and backed away, an ugly expression on her pretty face. “You know perfectly well what I’m talking about, Briggs.”
I would’ve said something, congratulating her on remembering my name, but I decided against it. She already looked furious as it was, and I doubted it would be any good on her complexion if she continued to turn such an ugly shade of puce all the time.
“I, uh,” I swallowed the lump in my throat. I never responded well to intimidation. “I don’t think that I do know what you’re talking about, Lucinda.”
Okay, so that was a flat out lie. The truth of the matter was that I knew exactly what she was talking about. I just didn’t want to admit it to her too gorgeous face. My imagination could only invent so many new methods of social torture. Besides, it would probably only make her more livid than she already was.
Lucinda grabbed my arms again, tightening her grip on the tops of my arms as her sharp nails bit into my flesh. “Don’t play dumb, Briggs. I know exactly what you’re trying to do.”
Before I could help myself, I said, “Oh really?” The tone of voice I used sounded slightly challenging, but pained at the same time: a cold rush of air had just swept over my cut flesh. I could feel a drop of blood trickle down my arm. I’m not going to lie, I was a wimp when it came to pain.
Leering, she pulled me closer to her perfection. Lucinda was several inches taller than me, so she had to bring her face down to my level to reach proper intimidation conditions. Although, as I said earlier, I never responded well to intimidation and therefore, I was intimidated very easily.
I could barely contain my laughter at the next words that left her mouth:
“You plan on stealing Sirius from me,” she snarled through gritted teeth. “You want him all to yourself.”
A short breath of laughter escaped me before I clamped my jaw shut, my body shaking with unreleased laughter. How bloody stupid could she honestly be? If she thought that I was interested in stealing her annoying, exceedingly arrogant boyfriend away from her, Miss Ruddy Perfection, then she had another thing coming for her.
“Why are you laughing?” she demanded, her eyes widening. “Stop laughing!”
I sobered up immediately, my face blanching as I looked into her furious face. I mumbled my response under my breath, but she didn’t catch it.
“Excuse me? What was that?” Lucinda asked, her brow furrowing.
I gulped. Maybe I should learn to keep my comments to myself instead of saying them out loud. I struggled to make up a lie, but I was never good at lying on the spot and almost everyone saw through the feeble fibs I told.
“I said that you’re stupid for thinking something like that,” I muttered, hanging my head to stare at my shoes. Old habits die hard, my friends.
“I’m stupid?” she repeated incredulously. “I’M STUPID?!”
“No! That’s not what I meant, Lucinda,” I amended quickly. I swallowed again, licking my lips nervously. Well, might as well butter her up so she’d relinquish her death grip on my arms. I could already feel the bruises forming under my skin. Clearing my throat, I continued, “What I meant to say is that the thought of me actually attempting to steal Sirius away from someone as pretty, intelligent, and sophisticated as you is simply preposterous.”
Lucinda considered it for a second, her eyes narrowing as she searched my face. I wasn’t lying, honestly. That was my opinion on the matter. I would never attempt something as pigheaded as that anyway. Besides, it’s not like I fancied Black anyway. In fact, he sort of repulsed me at times. And there was the whole intimidation thing…
“So you’re telling me that you didn’t plan on becoming partners with him in Potions?”
I shook my head vigorously. “Merlin no! Potter asked if he could switch to Lily, since she’s a genius when it comes to Potions and, well, Black’s not. Slughorn agreed and made me Black’s partner instead. I had no say in the matter.”
That was another lie. I did have a say in the matter, I just hadn’t been paying the slightest bit of attention. Actually, I think I was preoccupied with the various items floating around in that green stuff in those jars behind his desk…yeah, that was it.
When she didn’t say anything for a few seconds, I asked, “Could you please let go of my arms?”
“Oh, right,” she murmured to herself, immediately releasing me. My words seemed to shake Lucinda out of her stupor and she straightened her spine, rising a fraction of an inch. She tossed her curtain of long, flaxen hair over her shoulder before adding, “I guess I can accept that as an answer.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, my shoulders literally sagging as I leaned against the wall.
“Just remember: if I even catch wind that you told Sirius, you’ll have me to answer to.”
I was tempted to make some comment about how she couldn’t be much worse that the Devil himself, but I refrained. I could only imagine how insanely perfect her right hook would be.
“I won’t,” I squeaked.
Rolling her eyes, Lucinda looked at me for a prolonged moment before shoving past me. When I stepped out of the alcove, she was already around the corner and out of sight.
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