Chapter 54 : Chapter Fifty Four
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“James and you are what exactly?”
“This is great! You and James…”
I rolled my eyes as the four of us lounged in the loo, me leaning against the sink as my three friends questioned me listlessly.
“I saw him pull out your chair,” Gaby said ecstatically as she looked to Henn and Grace for confirmation. “Didn’t he pull out her chair?”
Henn nodded erratically. “Definitely. I definitely saw the pulling of the chair.”
“He was just being nice,” I finally said, my voice toneless from being questioned for so long. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Doesn’t mean anything!” Gaby repeated disbelievingly.
“Yes, it’s you…”
“I know,” I said. “Now stop freaking out.”
“Not until you tell us what’s going on!” Grace said in an uncharacteristically shrill voice. Three pairs of big eyes loomed over me, urging me to answer.
I looked at them a bit disconcertedly. “It’s nothing. We’re…friends.”
It was quite a simple and self-explanatory statement, yet my friends stared back uncomprehendingly at me. I felt compelled to clarify, “Like…you know—like us four.”
Henn finally seemed to be shocked out of silence, a comically incredulous expression on her face. “What?”
“I said—like us four.”
“Yes, I heard you. I just don’t understand you.” Henn smiled. “As far as I know, you have never shoved your tongue down any of our—your friends’—throats.”
I blushed as they all laughed at my expense.
“What?” I said indignantly. “I—we can be friends.”
“Lily,” Grace said exasperatedly. “This is you.”
“And him,” Gaby pointed out.
“Yes,” Grace concurred. “And him.”
I watched as some sort of secret and mutual understanding passed between them. I still didn’t catch on. “What’s your point?”
“My goodness, Lily, you are so daft sometimes!” Henn said. “Do you really think you and James—you and James—can be just friends? With all that history? Really?”
“We talked,” I said, ignoring Henn’s absolute lack of faith in my newly reformed friendship with James. “And now we’re friends. It’ll work out just fine.”
They were still exchanging disbelieving looks when we exited the loo and returned to the table where Sirius and James were sitting. They had just closed the check.
“Lily, you were two pounds short,” James said as we gathered at the table, ready to leave. “Don’t worry, I paid it.”
Gaby coughed conspicuously and Henn gave me a significant look, as if James paying for a short amount of my portion of the bill was just as momentous as him standing on the table and proclaiming loudly that he loved me.
I turned my back on them and said, “Thanks. I’ll pay you back later.”
“Don’t worry about it,” James said nonchalantly as he returned his wallet to his pocket and we made our way to the exit.
Henn’s bulging eyes were starting to make me nervous; I felt obligated to say something. “Er—are you sure? I mean I could—” I stopped short as James paused and looked down at me, his eyebrows raised.
“It’s just two pounds, Lil,” James said with a bit of amusement, half-smiling.
I blushed. “Right. Thanks. Okay…I mean—er, thanks.”
“Stop thanking me,” James said over his shoulder as he started towards the door. Sirius followed and said something with a look back at me, while Henn poked me painfully in the arm and whispered, “See? He just called you ‘Lil.’ When was the last time he called you that?”
“When you were happy together and absolutely in love,” Gaby answered before I could even open my mouth.
I shushed them as we came outside again, covering my face so that no one would notice my intense blush. “So, where to now?” Sirius asked.
“I have to go back to work,” Gaby said, grimacing. “I get off in a few hours. I’ll meet you guys at home?”
“Yeah,” Grace replied. “We’ll see you there.”
“Mind if we tag along?” Sirius asked. “I’d rather not be with Moony and Crazy Girl.”
There was a moment in which I knew my friends were all staring at James, then at me. Before Henn and Grace could try to send me secret messages with their prodding eyes, I pretended I didn’t notice the tension and said, “Of course. We can just hang out for a while…eat some of Grace’s left overs—”
“There are none,” Henn said quickly. She looked at me and said slowly as if I somehow wouldn’t understand her, “Lily. We should Apparate.”
“Why? Let’s walk. It’s nice out and you know how Mr. Livingston is always on our backs,” I said. I raised my eyebrows at her expression. “Is that okay?”
She was still trying to send me some message through her eyes. When I didn’t pick it up, she sighed. “Sure. That’s fine.”
“Okay. Let’s go then,” I said.
As we left Diagon Alley and went out into London, I made sure I kept a secure distance from James, and avoided Henn and Grace’s meaningful gazes. It was only when we passed Mr. Livingston’s shoe store again that I realized why they were trying to catch my eye and insisted on Apparating home instead of walking.
Ray. Of course. Why hadn’t I thought of the possibility that I would bump into him again on my way home in the mortifying company of my ex-boyfriend? I stopped in my tracks abruptly, staring wide-eyed at Ray’s figure as he waved to me from behind the store window and proceeded to meet me outside. I heard the chiming of the door as he exited the store, and almost as if in slow motion, I finally saw it: his hair falling charmingly in front of his face, his dazzling smile and gleaming white teeth, and I watched him, gaping. It finally hit me that my friends’ description of his aesthetic blessing was in whole, completely accurate—I was either too naïve or too distracted to see it before and now mentally kicked myself to have finally noticed it in front of James, who was quick to realize my expression and to whom it was directed towards.
“Why, hello again,” Ray said, completely unaware of what havoc his presence had just caused in my life.
It took a while for me to respond. I dared not look at James, although I did not see why I could not since there was nothing going on between Ray and I, and even if there were then it wouldn’t have mattered because there was nothing going on between James and I either. I forced a smile and ignored my friends’ eyes that I was convinced were burning holes in the back of my skull. “Hi, Ray,” I said, careful to keep my voice as neutral and detached as possible. “How are you?”
“Same old,” he said with that charming smile of his. From the corner of my eye I could see Sirius’s eyes narrow as he took in this tall, handsome guy talking to his best friend’s ex-girlfriend. “Still considering those shoes?”
Oh, no. I attempted a smile, but knew it came out shaky as I finally realized what my friends had been warning me about before—yes, Ray was flirting with me, and yes, it was very evident and obvious. I cursed my friends for their careful scrutiny and hoped furiously that James would not observe as closely as they had, for I could now see Ray leaning against the wall in that casual way guys did when they were trying to impress a girl. Part of me was slightly flattered, but most of me was just plain mortified that this apparently godlike guy was talking to me and smiling at me in front of my ex-boyfriend who I had just an hour ago made reparations with to fix our friendship.
Ray was still looking at me, waiting for an answer and his smile faltering a bit as his confidence slowly slipped away second by second.
I felt like I should giggle. Not too much to cause James to bubble in loathing, but a little so that Ray wouldn’t be offended that I wasn’t being nice. So I did. I giggled. But Merlin, why wasn’t anyone talking? Why were all of them completely silent and all that anyone could hear on this block, no—in this entire city—was my little, tinkling laugh?
Finally, I stopped. My face flushed so that it matched my hair. The moment could not have been any longer or worse. I finally glanced at James only to find him staring at Ray with what could only be described as horrified loathing. His ominous expression was one I had never seen before and could not help cower a bit under.
“This is James,” I said abruptly, because from the look on James’s face it was very probable that he was about to whip out his wand and stick it at Ray’s nose at any second, regardless if he was a Muggle or not.
Ray’s attention was diverted as he looked at James; his expression changed. Immediately he straightened, moving from his casual stance and holding out his hand. “I’m Ray,” he said and looked at James in that way guys often looked at one another, assessing and measuring each other up. James shook his hand, a frown on his face. Ray noticed and glanced at me, his eyebrows furrowed questioningly. “So you two are…”
“Friends,” I said quickly because I thought James would intervene and say something stupid, which he didn’t. He hadn’t even opened his mouth. “Just like Sirius,” I added in a rush, trying to break the tension as I attempted to divert their attention towards Sirius. “He’s my friend too. Sirius, this is Ray. Ray, Sirius.”
Sirius didn’t shake Ray’s hand. He didn’t even hold out his own hand. He just looked at me, his expression accusatory. Already I could see that he was judging me again, disappointed in me.
Ray coughed and withdrew his hand. “Nice to meet you,” he said awkwardly, although this particular moment was nowhere near nice or anything the slightest bit similar to pleasant.
Henn exhaled. Grace tapped her foot on the ground and Sirius muttered something under his breath that I knew instinctively was directed towards me. “So, we have to go,” I said finally, still not looking at James.
“All right,” Ray said, glancing at James again. “See you later then, I guess.”
“All right. Bye.”
I could feel that Ray was watching me even as we left abruptly. My heart thudded in my chest, and despite myself, I glanced at James. He was staring straight ahead, his expression furious. As I took note of this I could not help feel along with my humiliation and mortification furious myself. James had no right to be angry with me! I had barely acknowledged Ray, and it was not my fault that he was flirting with me. But still, even as I realized this I lowered my head as if I was a child rebuked. I remembered how casual and comfortable we had been with one another at Diagon Alley, and felt my stomach hollow. Somehow I felt like I had failed a test, one so recently put upon me.
For about two blocks none of us said anything. It was only when we were waiting at one of the intersections and the silence was becoming unbearably uncomfortable that Henn attempted a conversation.
“It’s simply extraordinary, isn’t it?”
The four of us all whirled around to look at her, me particularly desperate to think about something that didn’t involve my friends’ newly found opinion of me. Henn stared back at us, wide-eyed and unprepared—clearly she had not been expecting us to pay any attention to her idle talk. I gave her a hard look, pleading her to say something.
It was too late. James was already turning around again, apparently disinterested in Henn’s apparently unimportant musings. His face hadn’t switched expressions at all since we left Ray, and I was becoming increasingly more nervous as his frown remained unchanged.
“Pigeons,” Henn stammered as we all looked onward again, waiting for the pedestrian walkway to clear. Again we all whirled towards her, me near panting with exhilaration at the prospect of changing topic. “There’s just so many of them,” she continued as we all watched her, baffled. “I mean…this time of year—”
James and Sirius exchanged looks and then simultaneously glanced at me, scowling. Then they turned around again, thankfully, so that I could hide my absolute mortification. Henn shrugged hopelessly at me, her efforts wasted.
“Er—I agree,” Grace started uncertainly, although at this point no one was listening to either one of them. “Pigeons, I mean,” she added feebly. Apparently that was all she had to say on the subject so with one last glare thrown at the pair of them, I too turned around and followed James and Sirius as they crossed the street.
Mr. Livingston for once wasn’t outside, which I was very thankful for. Slowly the five of us made our way up the hellish stairs until we reached our door at the end of the corridor. I had just reached inside my bag, searching for our key when James said suddenly, “I think I’m going to take off.”
I stopped and stared up at him, my arm still halfway in my bag. “What?”
He wasn’t looking at me. Sirius was already backing towards the stairs again, steadfast and loyal as always. “I have some stuff to do. I’m going to the Ministry tomorrow with Sirius…you know, that Auror program…best if I just leave now and prepare—”
“Auror program? Does that really start tomorrow?” I asked, temporarily distracted. I shook my head, focusing again. “But—you can still stay here for a while, can’t you?”
James was already at the top of the stairs with Sirius. He looked at Henn. “Have a good trip. Sorry that I won’t be able to see you off.”
“That’s fine,” Henn said, glancing at me. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Wait, James,” I said as he started down the steps. “The Ministry thing tomorrow. What time is it at?”
Finally, he looked at me. “Eight,” he said slowly, in a tone that I didn’t like.
“Can I meet you there then?”
I knew it was asking too much—clearly he did not want to even look at me at the moment, let alone talk about making plans with me.
He took a moment to reply. “We’ll see,” he said, then disappeared behind the railings as he descended the stairs. Sirius was still standing there, looking at me with an expression that I knew too well.
“What?” I snapped.
“You should’ve Apparated,” he said simply, then followed James down.
I stood there for a moment, stunned, as I heard their echoing footsteps. I found the key I had been looking for and jammed it inside the keyhole, kicking the door open. Jinx jumped and hissed at me—apparently he had been waiting at the door after hearing James’s voice in the hallway. He jumped onto the sofa and glared at me—he had always liked James better anyway. As Grace shut the door I stormed into the hallway and to my bedroom, but not fast enough to avoid hearing Henn say in an ‘I-told-you-so’ voice, “You should’ve Apparated.”
“I know!” I yelled, and slammed the bedroom door behind me.
“He’s jealous,” I stated simply later that day as the four of us sat on two benches, waiting for Henn’s train to arrive at Kings’ Cross.
“Duh,” Gaby replied. She was still in her working attire which consisted of deep plum-colored robes, and was attracting a lot of stares. She didn’t seem to mind—even though several people were pointing and looking at her incredulously, she ignored them and looked across at me from the bench she was sharing with Grace. “Well, what did you expect?”
“It’s not like this happened because I wanted it to,” I said exasperatedly, and frowned as they all looked at me, their eyebrows raised.
“It’s not!” I exclaimed indignantly.
“You could’ve Apparated,” Henn pointed out again. I gritted my teeth.
“I know, but I’m stupid remember?”
“So you’re telling me,” Gaby started, and already from her tone I could tell that I wasn’t going to like the rest of the sentence, “that the whole way back that you’re walking home, James at your side, you did not think even for a moment of the slightest possibility that you would bump into Ray, a guy that we already made perfectly clear that’s he’s totally into you and who could very well get James, the guy who we already made perfectly clear that he’s still into you, insanely jealous?”
I sat there, stunned. “I’m stupid,” I repeated, this time with a groan and a hand slapped to my forehead.
“Yes,” Henn said from next to me, and I glared at her.
“You know who’s stupid?” Grace said in a way that made us all look at her. “Remus. And…Crazy Girl. Carrie or whatever her name is.”
For a moment all of us simply stared at Grace, the one who out of all of us, usually kept her emotions to herself, carefully preserved so we almost never had any idea of what was going on with her. “Caroline,” I finally corrected, and Grace rolled her eyes.
“Crazy Girl,” she said again.
There was another pause. This was dangerous territory and we had to tread carefully. Grace’s anger was much easier to deal with than her stony silence, so we had to take advantage of her new desire for expression. “So…how do you—feel—about Remus and Crazy Girl?” Gaby asked slowly.
Grace snorted. “She’s just so—” She paused, unsure of how to complete her sentence. When she realized she didn’t know her own ending, she hissed and rolled her eyes again.
“Perfect?” Henn supplied.
Grace glared at her, which caused her to quickly elaborate, “But that’s not a good thing.”
“No,” Grace huffed. “It’s not.”
The three of us exchanged looks. “Crazy Girl,” I repeated, and Grace nodded fervently.
Our sorry attempt at a conversation came to an abrupt halt as Aaron arrived, and Henn quickly went over to greet him, leaving me to stretch my legs across the remainder of the bench and observe my friends across from me. They however, were not looking at me, but at Henn and Aaron.
“She’s the only one of us happy right now,” I noted dully as we watched them embrace. Grace grunted in agreement. There was a moment where all of us were quiet, until we unanimously faced each other again.
“I’m happy too,” Gaby protested. “I’ve been very perky lately, actually. You two just haven’t noticed.”
“Maybe it’s because you’re not dating,” Grace suggested. “You’re always unhappy when you’re dating.”
“That’s true,” I said, and Gaby scowled.
“Are you saying that my misery is caused by me having a relationship with someone, which I have heard is a healthy thing I should be doing?”
“It would be a healthy thing,” Grace started. “If you picked the right guy ever.”
“First there was Sirius,” I interrupted. “And he cheated on you with Patricia Love.”
“Then you went out with Jack, the sixth year,” Grace said before Gaby could open her mouth. “In a sorry attempt to get Sirius jealous, which was blatantly transparent but worked anyway. But then he cheated on you.”
“With Natalie,” I supplied. I turned to Grace, suddenly remembering a certain prank with milk and porridge spilling over Jack and Natalie’s heads in the Great Hall. “Ooh, remember that?”
“Yes, thank you for reminding me of that,” Gaby said sourly. “And also for reminding me that you two knew that my boyfriend was cheating on me the whole time and didn’t tell me.”
“And then there was the whole Sirius thing,” Grace continued, ignoring her.
“Again,” I said.
“But he went to the Ball with that Hufflepuff girl, what was her name?”
“Shelly,” I said, studying my fingernails.
“Right. And of course you got super pissed…somewhat got over him although anyone could tell both of you felt the same way and—”
“Now we’re here,” I finished.
“Clearly you do not want to see me happy,” Gaby said sardonically. “Or you would not just have reviewed my last year’s dating history.” She grinned despite herself. “What are you two laughing at? It’s not like you guys have had perfect records either.”
She nodded at Grace. “You and Remus have been this huge mess for a while. And I recall that I was not the only one throwing a tantrum at the Ball—you were with Amos Diggory.” She shuddered. “And you!” she exclaimed, pointing at me. “Zach and James. You really think you have any right to give me relationship advice? Really?”
By the time Henn and Aaron came back, all of us were looking moody. “What happened when I was gone?” Henn asked.
“Just reminiscing,” I sighed. “Hi Aaron. Congratulations about joining the team.” On the way to the train station, Henn had told us about Aaron’s successful try-out and his newly gained place as Beater for Puddlemore United.
“Reserve team,” Aaron corrected. “But thanks. Heard about your run-in with James. Sorry about that.”
I shot a look at Henn. “You told him? What, now that you two are dating I have to assume I have no privacy?”
Henn rolled her eyes and shoved my legs off of the majority of the bench so that she and Aaron could sit. “Oh please. Like you didn’t tell James everything about anything when you two were dating.”
I scowled, but didn’t say anything. I wanted to point out that James was part of our group and had not suddenly intruded like in Aaron’s case, but I kept my mouth shut, knowing that wasn’t how I really felt. Aaron was great to Henn, anybody could see that.
Henn’s train came shortly after that; although I knew I would miss her dearly the tightness in my chest was considerably less than it was when we first had to say goodbye all those weeks ago. After this visit our desire to see our friendship unchanged seemed more attainable, and it comforted me that we would still be able to see our good friend, even if it was considerably less.
“You’re welcome anytime,” I said as I hugged her. “Seriously, drop in anytime.”
“Thanks. I hope everything turns out good with James. Keep me posted, okay?” She then turned to Grace and Gaby, embracing them both at the same time.
“You miss her, don’t you?” I asked Aaron as Henn got into the train and started waving from her compartment.
Aaron shrugged, shaking his golden locks out of his eyes. “Well, yeah. It helps that I’m going to be seeing her next week though.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You are?”
“Yeah, I’m going to Sweden next weekend,” Aaron replied, waving one last time as Henn’s compartment sped by. He turned to me, his green eyes sparkling. “Our team doesn’t have practice for those few days so I thought I’d take the opportunity to go and see her.”
I had a hollow feeling in my stomach but did not know why. “That’s great,” I said bleakly.
We said goodbye at the entrance to the train station, then went our separate ways. Aaron Disapparated in the shadows and the three of us walked home, which was only four blocks away anyway.
It was only after we walked the first block in silence, our minds all preoccupied on different things, that I voiced my thoughts. “Do you think we’re bad friends?”
I felt Gaby’s head turn towards me in the half-dark—the summer sky was just turning to indigo. “Like how?”
They were both looking at me; Grace skeptical and Gaby curious. “Maybe we should visit Henn,” I started.
There was a pause. “Visit her when?” Grace asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, facing ahead again as I dug my hands into my pockets. “Soon,” I suggested, and Gaby raised her eyebrows.
“She just came and visited us,” she pointed out, “and said that she’d probably come in two weeks or so for my birthday.” Although Gaby’s birthday was only in August, she’d be gone by then, already in Venezuela. After organizing and debating with one another, we decided to celebrate her birthday earlier so that Henn could come and see her off before she left. “What’s going on?”
“Aaron’s visiting her,” I stated. “And I don’t want to be…”
I paused. No one answered.
“Left behind,” I admitted. “Forgotten. You know.”
“Are you jealous?” Grace said bluntly.
“No,” I answered truthfully. “It’s just that…they’re so close now. Like telling each other secrets and stuff. When she came here she went to Aaron’s flat first, not ours. And now Aaron’s visiting her next weekend.”
“That’s good, though,” Gaby pointed out.
Grace turned to me. “So, you think we’re being bad friends because we’re not visiting her?”
“Maybe. Maybe that’s why she’s telling Aaron things that initially she wouldn’t be telling,” I said, remembering how I had been offended at how she had shared information about James and I with him.
“They really like each other,” Grace said. “Maybe even love each other. It’s normal that she’s feeling closer to him than to us right now. We went through the same thing when you started dating James.”
“And when you dated Remus,” Gaby reminded her, and Grace frowned. “And I’m sure I was a little distant when I was dating my series of apparently terrible boys.”
“Can you believe how much we’ve changed?” I said, mostly to myself. “Since graduation, I mean. James and I are broken up, Henn’s in a serious relationship, you’re actually single,” I noted, nodding towards Gaby, “and you, Grace, who are normally so calm and perceptive, are jumping down Remus’s throat.”
“Look how much we’ve grown,” Grace said sardonically.
We had reached our apartment building. We paused at the steps leading inside, for once vacant of Mr. Livingston’s formidable presence. “Do you want to go to the Leaky Cauldron?” Gaby suggested. “It’s too early to just go up.”
“Sounds good,” Grace said.
“You two go on ahead,” I said. “I have to be at the Ministry tomorrow pretty early.”
“All right,” Grace replied, already walking away with Gaby. “You got the keys?”
“Yeah, see you later.”
“We’ll try not to make too much noise coming in,” Gaby called out, and both of them kept walking down the sidewalk, where Leaky Cauldron was situated.
I climbed the steps inside and proceeded up the staircase, nearly panting as I reached the top. As I stepped on level ground, however, I realized that someone was already standing outside my door. In the dark the person’s hair seemed jet black—James, I breathed inwardly—but as he stepped into the hallway’s pool of light I noticed that his frame was less lithe and taller.
“Hi, Ray,” I said, smiling to conceal my disappointment.
“Hi,” he said, pointing towards the door. “I thought you wouldn’t be home till later; I was about to leave.”
In a different scenario and time, I could’ve easily replied flirtatiously. “Well, I’m here,” I said, opting for nonchalance.
“Yes, you are,” he said, approaching me. He was rather tall, much taller than the person I had been thinking of. Suddenly I wondered how I could’ve possibly mistaken him for James. There was a pause in which I didn’t say anything. He shifted, looking at his feet. “I just got off my shift.”
“Really? You’ve were there all day?” I asked, thinking about how boring it would’ve been.
“Opening to closing,” he replied.
Another pause. I wanted to ask him what he was doing outside my flat but knew it would be rude. So I did the polite thing instead. “Um…do you want to come inside?”
Ray’s face instantly lit up. “Sure,” he said, grinning.
There was a brief moment in which once again, I displaced my keys, wishing that Ray wasn’t present so that I could charm the door open. As I opened the door Jinx stretched from his usual napping spot on the kitchen counter. His yellow eyes fixed on Ray and he hissed.
“Is that your cat?” Ray asked, watching Jinx warily.
“Yeah. He’s really not as nasty as he seems,” I lied. I observed Jinx as he flexed his paws, his nails protruding. “Actually, just stay away from him.”
As Ray observed our flat I discreetly took the piece of parchment that had been lying on an end table and was my application to the Auror program and slipped it underneath the couch. My eyes skimmed around the apartment and searched for any other magical substance that I might need to hide, but everything seemed fine.
“This place is really nice,” Ray said, stunned. “You guys fixed it up really well.”
“Well, it wasn’t that beaten up to begin with,” I lied.
“Are you kidding?” Ray asked. “The wallpaper was peeling off…the furniture was terrible, looks like you replaced most of it—” He paused and looked at me. “You did all of this by yourself?”
“Oh, no, of course not. My roommates helped,” I said, suddenly realizing that Gaby and Grace would’ve had to be professional handywomen to do such perfect work. Ray turned to me, his eyebrows raised. “They want to go into…interior design,” I explained lamely.
Apparently that was a satisfying answer. “Really? Do they go to a university?”
“Yes,” I said.
I blanched. “Uh…I forget.” Trying to divert his attention, I said, “So, do you want a drink or something? You can sit down if you want.”
Ray started to sit down at the counter, but upon seeing Jinx changed his mind and proceeded towards the kitchen table instead. “What would you like?” I asked.
“Water’s fine,” he replied. I filled a glass and handed it to him, sitting across from him. “So, have you always lived in London?”
I thought of my father’s house, but realized that Hogwarts was my home more than anything else. “Sort of.”
“Sort of?” Ray asked, smiling. His look urged me to continue.
“Oh, well I went to—boarding school,” I finished, unsure of how best to describe Hogwarts. Before Ray could ask me another question, I said, “How about you?”
“I’ve lived in London my whole life,” Ray replied. “I went to the public school five blocks away from here actually.” He turned his dark eyes on me. “So. Boarding school—that’s classy.”
“Not really,” I said, nervous that we were talking about my life again, where I had little to divulge.
“Did you like it there?”
I smiled, easing up a bit as I thought of Hogwarts. “I loved it.”
“Is that where your roommates went?”
A sudden relieving thought occurred to me. “Are you interested in one of my roommates?”
Ray looked genuinely surprised. “No, why?”
“It’s that you’ve been asking a lot of questions about them.”
“Have I?” he asked. He drained the rest of his water then set the cup down, looking at me. “Actually, I’m interested in someone else.”
I wasn’t so stupid that I didn’t know what he meant, so I took his cup and set it in the sink, forcing a yawn. “You know what, Ray? I’m sorry but I’m really tired and I have to wake up early tomorrow.” I stared at him, urging him to leave.
“Oh,” he said, catching on. “Right. Gotcha.” He stood up and headed towards the door. “I’ll be working tomorrow all day,” he said suddenly. “If you get the chance you should stop by—it’d make my day a lot more interesting.”
“I’m going to be busy tomorrow,” I said abruptly, too abruptly.
Ray raised his eyebrows. “All day?”
“You’re going to be busy all day?” he repeated, clearly not buying my excuse.
“Yes. I mean—probably, yes,” I said, already opening the door. Ray wasn’t leaving though. I looked at my shoes, trying to look as disinterested as possible so that he’d take the hint and leave, but to no avail.
“Lily?” he said. I looked up. “Are you and…that guy—Jan, I think it was—”
I smiled despite myself, suddenly recalling Grace’s deliberate use of “Carrie” instead of “Caroline” to express her disgust for her competition. “James,” I corrected.
“Right,” Ray said nonchalantly. “Are you and him—I mean, I know you said you weren’t, but were you ever—”
“Yeah, we were,” I said, disliking this conversation very much.
There was a pause. “He’s still hung up on you, then,” he said carefully.
“I wouldn’t say that,” I replied neutrally.
Ray studied me for a moment. “You must be pretty great,” he said finally. “I mean, for him to get angry like that.”
I grimaced. “No, I’m really not.”
Ray walked out into the hallway, finally leaving my flat. “I’ll be the judge of that. See you, Lily.”
“Bye,” I said, my face flushed as I watched him disappear around the corner, his footsteps echoing down the stairs.
I closed the door and locked it, leaning against it for a moment and breathing deeply. I heard a noise and noticed that Jinx had jumped off of the counter and was now scratching at the door, making sure that Ray was good and out.
Jinx liked James. My cat rarely liked anybody, even me. He hated Ray though. Realizing that it would do me no good to compare the two of them, I picked up a protesting Jinx and went to my bedroom, telling myself to go to sleep.
A/N: Again, not VERY eventful but next chapter will be. I'm having major inspiration...I'm already planning out the next chapters and I'm getting excited so I think the next chapter will be here shortly.
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