Chapter 12 : Chapter Twelve: Quality Quidditch
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Two more hours… just two more hours and she would be free from it all. No more Potter, no more OWL work, no more classes… all she had to do was make it through these two hours and she would be home for Christmas break. Alex sighed and returned her attention to the History of Magic lesson. As she turned her head, she caught the eye of James. When he noticed that she was looking back, he turned quickly away; something he had done a lot lately.
She had been silently avoiding him for over five weeks. At first, he had pestered her constantly trying to make her break her stony silence. Then around the beginning of December he began apologizing every time they passed or were forced to work together in a class. But Alex didn’t need his apologies because, to be honest, she wasn’t that mad at him. She was mad at herself for falling for him even after she knew what he was capable of.
She maintained her stony silence not out of anger, but because he still made her palms sweat and her stomach summersault. She was sure that if she were to speak to him that she would merely fall for him again. She turned once more to face the front of the class, but her mind was elsewhere. It was only in the last week that Potter had adopted his own vow of silence; but still, he seemed unable to look away.
Alex wished that the next few hours would be uncomplicated and would speed by, but deep down inside she knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Something would undoubtedly prevent her from entering this holiday in peace and she was indeed correct.
It was finally four o’clock and she made her way towards the Hogwarts express. She had her owl cage balanced precariously on her trunk, which she was attempting to carry on her own. One of the seventh year boys took pity on her and helped her onto the train as snow began to fall. When they reached the compartment, he went to say something but blushed furiously and ran from the room, too afraid to speak. Alex smiled to her self; she still had it!
Halie and Naomi piled in behind her and the three girls quickly went about doing their own thing. Naomi was reading the latest copy of the Quibbler and Halie was reading up on all the latest “Alex sightings.” Alex rolled her eyes at the thought; apparently some witch from London swore she saw Alex filming a muggle movie while on holiday in California. Pulling herself away from her own picture that once again graced the magazine’s cover, she pulled out a thick parchment envelope.
Mrs. Wood had taken it upon herself to send her daughter an itinerary for the entire Christmas break. She stared in dread as she traced her finger down the list, and wide-eyed, she came to rest on December 25th. Following the date across, she read, “Party at the Potters.” Alex groaned outwardly and Halie and Naomi looked up at her and said almost in unison, “are you okay Alex?”
“Yeah I’m fine; I am just going to go use the bathroom.”
She stood and left the cabin; since she had already used the excuse, she might as well actually go to the bathroom. She entered the tiny space and the floor vibrated beneath her as the train sped forward. In her mind, Alex was thinking: Okay, wait until everybody is off the train and then lock the door. Change back into Alexandra and wait until the platform is clear. When everyone is gone, I’ll go meet Dad by the entrance… sounds simple enough.
Absentmindedly, Alex washed her hands and walked from the bathroom. She was about to walk forward when the cabin beside her flew open suddenly and she was pulled violently inside. She didn’t even have to look at the person to know who it was. This unorthodox method of getting her alone was the mark of the one and only James Potter. But she was determined, and she would not waver, she would not speak to him, never fall for him again.
She heard the lock click in the door and knew that it was no use… she was going to be stuck here for quite awhile. She took a seat and crossing her arms and legs she stared determinedly out the window.
“Alex… what do I need to say? How can I make you understand how sorry I am?”
Alex did not respond; she merely looked forward. He continued, “I wasn’t thinking; I just screwed everything up.”
Still no response so he tried once more, “Before I knew you knew, I was planning on telling you everything anyway… please, I’m so sorry.”
It took Alex a minute to comprehend what he was saying before he knew that I knew??? Then it sunk in, he had never meant it to hide it from her, he had just never been given the chance to say anything. It didn’t change a thing; however, falling for James Potter was still the worst thing imaginable and nothing was going to change that.
Silence fell between the pair and both stared out the window their minds working fast. Surprisingly, Alex broke the silence first, “You don’t need to apologize, James. I’m not mad at you.”
“What? You’re not mad at me?” he responded slightly disbelieving.
“No, not really.”
“Then why have you been acting like this?”
“Because…” she fixed him with a glare and debated whether or not to say the next part, “because… I was mad at myself for falling for you.”
James returned this with a stunned silence and Alex continued, “I knew better than to trust you James… but somehow I still managed to delude myself.”
With that, Alex stood and left the compartment… James was frozen in his seat. If she had been capable of getting out the entire time, why had she stayed so long? He was suddenly heartened by this positive sign, but it was quickly deflated… Alex didn’t trust him.
Alex returned to the cabin and as she closed the door, Halie and Naomi ceased their low murmuring. Clearly, seconds before they had been talking about her; however, she was used to this. Unabashed, Alex resumed her seat and put the parchment envelope that had been sitting on her seat into her school bag. She turned and stared out the window; James shocked and stunned face reflected in her mind’s eye.
The night seemed to drag on with the anticipation as the departure of Alexandra loomed nearer. Soon the lanterns flickered on and Alex, Halie, and Naomi dissolved into conversation about what they planned on doing after school.
“I don’t know; being a healer always interested me… but the work load is supposed to be really hard,” said Naomi.
“Journalism,” said Halie suddenly, “I want to be a Journalist… report on all the celebrities, you know, have my own column in Witch Weekly.”
Naomi and Alex dissolved into giggles and an affronted Halie said, “Fine, Alex what do you want to do?”
Alex stopped laughing and started to think: Well, Mom will want me to work with the magazine, and Dad would love it if I played professional quidditch. But to be completely honest, neither really interested her all that much. So what did she want to do…?
“Earth to Alex!” Halie waved her hand in front of Alex’s face. Her mind snapped back to attention and she replied, “A teacher, I want to be a Transfiguration teacher.”
“And when precisely did you decide you wanted to be like Professor Marks?” replied Naomi with a laugh.
“I don’t want to be like Professor Marks, but I realized that I kind of like teaching, you know when I was tutoring James…” but her words faded away.
It was the first time the three girls had spoken about James since the first week in November.
“You know what,” Halie said suddenly, “I think I’m hungry let’s go find the food trolley.”
Halie and Naomi stood and made their way to the door, but turned when they realized that Alex wasn’t following. Alex looked up and said, “Go ahead… I am not really that hungry.”
The two girls left the cabin, not knowing what to do for their friend who still, after all this time, was upset.
Before Alex was ready for it, the train was slowing to a halt beside platform 9 3/4's. Halie and Naomi jumped up and grabbed their trunks from the luggage rack; Alex taking her time to slowly put away all her belongings. Halie and Naomi had cloaks on and were ready to leave.
They stood waiting for her by the door of the compartment. Alex looked up and said, “You guys can go ahead; this is going to take me a while.”
Naomi gave her a last searching look and turned to leave the compartment. Alex threw her belongings haphazardly into the trunk and pulled out her wand. Carefully she pulled the blinds closed and shut the compartment door. Leaving her school uniform on, Alex began to undo the spells on her hair, it took her nearly ten minutes, but with a mirror, she confirmed her hair had resumed its natural brown curly look.
She started on her makeup; she was scrubbing away her eyeliner with her back facing the door. The noise in the halls of the train masked the sounds of someone turning the handle to the compartment.
Alex jumped in surprise and in horror she turned to face the familiar voice that had said her name. Standing in the doorway were Halie and Naomi, wearing equal looks of shock. Then Halie screamed, “Oh my God it’s Alexandra Wood!”
Clearly, she did not fully comprehend the situation. Alex pulled the two girls into the room and closed the compartment door, this time making sure to lock it. Halie bounced forward gibbering, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I am finally meeting you in person.”
Alex couldn’t respond, so she returned the statement with a weak smile. Was this it? Was her secret finally out? Was this the end of Alex Cunnings? Naomi was staring at her through narrowed eyes and then she spoke, “So it was you the entire time; the pink hair was just a disguise, Alex?”
“Why are you calling her Alex, Naomi?” asked Halie, still lost.
“Because that is what we have called her everyday for the last three and a half months,” said Naomi, turning to face Halie.
Halie’s eyes widened to the size of galleons and she clutched a hand to her mouth, “You mean Alex is… is… Alexandra?”
Alex stared helplessly at the pair of girls, everything running through her mind at once. This was bad; this was going to be so bad! Then, she was brought out of her state of contemplation by Halie who screamed, “I AM FRIENDS WITH ALEXANDRA WOOD!”
The redhead began to jump around the room chanting those excited words. Alex couldn’t help but smile; just leave it to Halie to react in such a way… maybe this wasn’t going to be bad after all. Alex sat down with her head in her hands and Naomi came to sit beside her.
“Alex, why didn’t you tell us before?” she had a look of concern on her face.
“My parents sent me to school to get me out of the public eye… and I just wanted the chance to be a normal kid, to have real friends,” and as she finished saying this she looked up into the faces of her best friends.
“I can’t believe that I was friends with Alexandra Wood the entire year and didn’t even realize it!” Halie said offhandedly, making both Alex and Naomi laugh.
“Why did you guys come back here anyway?” asked Alex.
Naomi looked away nervously and remained silent for a few moments and then she responded, “Promise not to get mad at me?”
Alex looked at Naomi with a searching look and replied, “If you guys promise not to be mad at me then, I promise not to be mad at you.”
“Deal!” said Halie and they all shook hands on it.
Naomi took a deep breath and closing her eyes, she said, “While you were in the bathroom and while Halie was looking for her boyfriend… I read the letter from your mother. I knew you were Alexandra before I came back here… actually I came back hoping that you would tell us the truth.”
Alex looked at her friends, she should be mad at them for going through her mail. But to be honest, now that they knew her secret, it was like a load was taken off her chest. Alex smiled at her friends and they seemed to visibly relax.
Alex continued to remove her makeup when Halie chimed in, “Well, I guess it makes sense now.”
“What makes sense?” said Alex as she turned to face her friends.
“It makes sense why you hated James from the moment you got here and why he had to work like hell to get you to like him,” said Halie.
“Yeah I guess it does now… he had like four years of torment and newspaper clippings to make up for,” added Naomi.
Alex looked at her friends with a serious expression upon her face and taking a seat she said, “You guys, everything I told you about me was true… I never lied about anything other than my name.”
“We know,” Naomi responded with a caring look.
“Can you guys promise me something?” Alex asked looking up once more.
“Sure Alex, anything,” said Halie.
“Promise you won’t tell anybody my secret… I really like Hogwarts and having friends.”
The two girls took a moment to mock think and then, with a smile, Halie said, “Sure, but under one condition?”
Alex’s eyes grew worried and Halie continued, “You have to introduce me to your mother at the Potter’s Christmas party.”
Alex returned their smiles with a broad one of her own… maybe this wasn’t going to be as bad as it originally promised to be. She then held out a hand and said, “Deal!”
She shook both of their hands and continued to pack up. When she was done, Halie Weasley, Naomi Longbottom, and Alexandra Wood all exited the train and walked onto the deserted platform.
James looked once more down his shopping list; he had everything he needed for Christmas. He had presents for Lily, Albus, his mother, father, and his several dozen cousins, but he was attempting to ignore the last name on the list. He had only penciled it in this morning and he was unsure of why he had even done it in the first place. If she wouldn’t give him the time of day, why would she bother opening a Christmas gift from him?
James stuffed the list back into his pocket with a sigh and went in search of his father down the busy street of Diagon Alley. He passed Quality Quidditch Supplies, and unable to resist its call, he went to go look at the front display. In the front case, something caught his eye and he immediately thought of Alex. He was about to push it from his mind when he felt a hand on his back. James turned to see his father standing beside him looking in the case.
“I don’t know son, pink isn’t quite your color,” Harry remarked with a smirk.
“They wouldn’t be for me… but it doesn’t matter anyway.”
“Who are they for then?”
“No one dad…”James looked embarrassedly around, “just a girl.”
“A girl… a girl who would need that particular item?”
“Just drop it… I told you it doesn’t matter anyway,” James said looking more dejected.
Harry looked at his son with curiosity, “and why wouldn’t this said beautiful girl matter?”
James sighed and continued, “I really screwed things up with her… and sending her those would probably just ruin her holiday.”
“I’m sure you could find a way to make it up to her.”
James laughed sinisterly, “Yeah, somehow I doubt that.”
“Have I ever told you about your Grandpa and Grandma Potter?”
James groaned and closed his eyes, “Yes Dad, like 453 times in the past year alone!”
Harry chuckled and looked at his son, “Have I ever told about how they acted before they fell in love?”
James screwed up his face, “Eww… I don’t want to think about that!”
“She hated him; your Grandma Lily screamed and gave him detention at least once a day.” As Harry said this, James looked up into his father’s eyes, not fully comprehending what his father was getting at.
“I bet he never screwed up like I did,” replied James sullenly.
“He once set her dorm room on fire while trying to steal back a love note that he stuck in her school bag.”
“Oh,” was all that James could get out, “but she forgave him?”
“Barely… Grandpa James asked her out everyday for nearly four years and every time she said no. Now, I am not suggesting you take after his arson skills, but maybe you could be a bit more persistent.”
“You would most likely be picking up my body from the hospital wing,” added James in a sarcastic tone.
“She can’t be that mad…” said Harry.
“Dad, last time I was persistent she covered me in pudding in front of the entire hall.”
Harry began to laugh at the thought and James continued, “I assure you it wasn’t funny…”
“I don’t know, it sounds pretty funny. Are you sure you didn’t deserve it?”
This time James smiled, “Yeah I did… but that still doesn’t change anything.”
“So what did you do now?” asked Harry.
“You really don’t want to know,” said James bitterly.
“Well, I still think you should buy them if you think that she will like them… even if she doesn’t accept them, at least you tried.” added Harry firmly.
James did not respond so Harry continued, “What could it hurt?”
At that moment, James thought of several things that would hurt if he upset Alex again. Shrugging, he walked towards the entrance of the shop saying, “Fine… but she won’t even open it.”
Alex’s eyes snapped open; something had woken her up… but what?
“Alexandra… Alexandra!” Oh that was what woke her up.
Sighing, she rolled out of bed and put her hair into a ponytail, but it still sprung out in all directions. She gave up trying to make it stay straight and left the room to another chorus of, “Alexandra… Alexandra!”
Alex jumped down the last three stairs and came to rest outside the door to the kitchen, “What Mom?”
“Oh good you’re up.” Added Mrs. Wood as though she had not been screaming her daughter’s name for the last five minutes.
Alex grabbed a bowl from one of the cabinets and went to grab a box of cereal when she said, “Did you need something?”
“Oh yeah, I was going out to pick up some last minute Christmas gifts and I realized that you still need a dress for the Potters’ Christmas party.”
Alex stopped in the act of pouring some milk into her cereal bowl… the Potters’ Christmas party how could she have forgotten. Setting the milk down, Alex looked up and said, “Are you sure that I still…umm… have to go?”
Her mother fixed her with that familiar icy stare and frowning, Alex continued, “Fine! I’ll go get dressed.”
Abandoning her uneaten bowl of cereal, Alex jogged back up the stairs in the direction of her room. Nearly an hour later, Alex was trailing behind her mother as they entered “Maximum’s Gowns.”
“M-Mrs. Wood, what can we help you w-with today?” stammered a nervous assistant.
“We need to find a dress for Alexandra,” replied Mrs. Wood sweetly.
“Alexandra? She’s back from school I see!”
The assistant became suddenly animated and Alex was pushed forward into an empty dressing room stall. Quite suddenly, the small space began to fill with dresses, and within five minutes, she was in up to her knees in silk, satin, and polyester blend. Over the next hour, she slowly made her way through the increasingly extravagant gowns and cocktail dresses until there was only one remaining.
“Mom!” called Alex over the stall door.
“What Alexandra darling?”
“I only have one dress left.”
“So?” she called back, clearly distracted.
“It’s a green cocktail dress,” said Alex with a face of displeasure.
“So… try it on!”
Alex muttered under her breath, “Last time I wore this color green, you told me it made me looked peaky.”
A few minutes later, Alex emerged from the dressing room stall looking pleasantly surprised. Mrs. Wood’s mouth dropped slightly as she beheld her fifteen-year-old daughter, who could have easily passed as a twenty-year-old.
“That’s it! No need to try anything else; that there is the dress for the party!”
As Mrs. Wood went to pay, Alex said, “Mom, I am going to go over to Quality Quidditch Supplies. I’ll be right back.”
“Okay… don’t be gone to long.”
Alex headed out of the store and walked across the street, suddenly being followed by three different cameras. She slipped in between the crowd and entered the shop, unnoticed by anyone. She walked down an aisle of players’ equipment picking up a cute pair of keeper’s gloves as she went.
She turned on the spot to continue her look around the store when she ran into something very solid. Alex dropped the gloves and stumbled backwards into a display of beater’s helmets. They came cascading down upon her, one landing square on her head blocking the store from view. She felt someone pull her upright and she pushed the helmet upwards on her head.
Before her, stood the nervously smiling face of James Potter and she stammered, “J-James!”
“Well, if it isn’t, Alexandra Wood, how wonderful to see you,” he replied in that ridiculously flirty tone that she hated and hadn’t heard in months.
Alex rolled her eyes and walked past James saying, “I wish I could say the same, Potter.”
Alex pushed her way to the front of the store and was about to leave when someone yelled from behind, “Excuse me miss, are you going to pay for that?”
The shop owner was pointing at Alex’s head and confused, she placed a hand up towards her hair. Her hand came in contact with the beater’s helmet; she blushed scarlet and was suddenly illuminated by the flash of cameras.
“Alexandra!” called out James as he attempted to push through the crowd.
Another flash of a reporter’s camera illuminated her face and ripping off the helmet, she shoved a handful of galleons into the shop owner’s hands. With all her might, she shoved open the glass front door and walked onto the street. She was suddenly swarmed by at least a dozen reporters all yelling her name and pushing her around.
“Alexandra… Alexandra!” Alex spun on the spot and barely glimpsed her mother amidst the crowd.
Using all her strength, she pushed towards her mother and was finally able to break through. Her mother had just enough time to link arms when Alex felt that all too familiar jerk from behind her naval. When her eyes cleared once more, she was standing on her front walkway in front of her house and before her mother could yell, she ran through the large front door.
Alex threw the beater’s helmet that she still held in her hands down onto her nightstand and threw herself into bed.
“Aghh… How many days until I go back to SCHOOL?!”
A/N: So there it is… chapter twelve, what did you think? So some major discoveries were made and there is quite a bit to look forward to… let’s just say that the Christmas break isn’t over quite yet. Okay, okay enough torturous hints I will just give you a sneak preview:
He figured that it was just the desperate blonde from before, and not bothering to get up, he said, “I told you that I wasn’t interested.”
By this point, Alex was standing at the foot of his bed and with a smile she responded, “You know I am starting to get worried. I have been at your house for nearly three hours and you have yet to hit on me.”
James flew upright in bed and fixed Alexandra with a surprised glance, he had not expected it to be her.
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