Chapter 1 : Typical Tuesday
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Everything you recognize is property of JK Rowling. Everything else is property of me. Stealing is bad for your conscience.
We go downtown every Tuesday for a coffee after meeting at my house at ten, and he’s never been late before. I checked my watch as I sat on my doorstep, a cigarette hanging from my mouth. It was ten-eighteen. Why is this Tuesday any different?
Oh, that’s right. This was the first Tuesday he’s been with Luna. Probably sending each other good-morning owls. Gag me.
I took another drag on my cigarette and leaned back on my hands. The smoke filled me and I felt an all-over warm sensation. Even though it was still technically summer, September was creeping close and mornings were still chilly.
Finally I saw him moseying down the street like he had all the fucking time in the world.
“Where the hell have you been?” I yelled to him, getting to my feet. I hiked up my worn jeans, feeling the icy morning air cut through the gaping hole at the knee.
“Sorry. I was up late last night,”
“Sending love notes to Luna, I expect?”
“Shut up, Clyde.” Neville’s face grew beet-red.
“Let’s go,” I said, taking a drag.
“You’re still on those things?” said Neville, eyeing my cigarette with a disgusted expression. He was dressed awfully nice for our normal Tuesday morning in summer. Maybe he was planning on meeting someone important there. Luna, probably. Oh, be still, my heart.
“What d’you expect, I was gonna quit overnight?”
“No, but I thought you said you were gonna cut down.”
“I am cutting down. This is only my first one today.” Neville hated that I was such a smart-ass almost as much as he hated that I was a smoker.
“You and your Muggle drugs,” Neville said, rolling his eyes.
Of all the years Neville and I had been friends, he never hesitated to tell me he didn’t care for my smoking habit. We met in second year and, believe it or not, I used to be just like him. I was a nerdy, squeaky-voiced, freckle-faced Gryffindor with a lisp. And he and I just gravitated toward each other during Potions class. Neither of us knew anyone else in the class and together we cowered under the hook nose of Severus Snape.
We used to be really close. And then I started to drift in my fourth year. I started experimenting with what rules I could break, and the idea of getting caught gave me a thrill. I made a few Slytherin friends and we did stupid shit together. Detentions up the ass. But even so, Neville never stopped talking to me. He even said that he didn’t like what I was doing and he didn’t want me to get in trouble, but at that time, my mind was taken over by puberty, so I said stuff like, “Quit being such a wuss, Neville,” in response.
With time I grew out of that break-the-rules-phase and moved on to being silently defiant. I was past being rude to Neville, too. I grew some common sense, I suppose you could say. In the summer after my fifth year, I met this kid in my neighborhood, Donny, who offered me my first cigarette.
We were on the playground at the end of our street at about midnight. The streetlights were flickering from us throwing stones at it all night. The swings creaked as we stood on them, rocking back and forth. Then he sat down on the swing and I heard a little click. Donny was a Muggle so I knew he couldn’t have been using magic. I looked over at him and saw him flip his lighter closed, and the cigarette burned to life at the end.
I’d seen people my age smoke before, but never right next to me. At that moment, sitting next to Donny at midnight on the swings, I wondered why no one had ever offered me one. Did they not think I was tough enough or something? I’d done more crazy shit than smoke a little cigg.
When I saw the tube of death sticking out of the box, the first thing I thought was, “Neville would hate this.” Naturally, I took one. Admittedly, when I had it in my hand and he offered me his lighter, I didn’t know what to do. I’d never done it before. But I quickly figured it out and inhaled my first drag. It was pretty disgusting. I didn’t know how anyone could do it for enjoyment. But I wasn’t in it for enjoyment. I was in it for the look.
I tried to keep it a secret from Neville for as long as I could. But he kept making little comments about how my clothes smelled weird and that I was coughing a lot. And then finally he found me out when we were at his house for a party, congratulating him for being in the DA, and I excused myself to ‘get some air.’
At least once every day since that day, he’s told me in some way that he doesn’t approve of my choosing to smoke Muggle cigarettes. I’m actually pleasantly surprised he still sticks around me; I’m being kind of a dick about it. But I guess Neville has always had faith in me. And even with all this shit we’ve gone through, he’s still my best friend.
“Is it my turn to pay?” I asked, taking the last drag before extinguishing my cigarette in the ashtray outside the Leaky Cauldron.
“No, it’s mine,” said Neville.
There weren’t very many people in the Leaky Cauldron that morning, and there usually aren’t any other Tuesday morning. That’s why we picked Tuesday. We took our usual seats and our usual waitress came and took our usual order.
“Smells like old smoke in here,” said Neville, like he does every Tuesday.
“I don’t smell anything,” I said.
“That’s ‘cause you smell like that all the time.”
“Will you give it a rest, Neville?” I said, shooting him a joking look. Typical Tuesday. “What’sis?” I said, finding a folded-up piece of paper underneath the napkin holder.
I unfolded the paper as our waitress brought our coffees. Neville thanked her for both of us; I was too absorbed by the moving photograph on the front page to thank her myself.
“What’s it say?” said Neville, pouring cream in his coffee.
I didn’t answer. I was still reading. The whole time I was reading, I was thinking about if people really do that. I didn’t think they did, but I guess there are some people who are even weirder than me.
I gave the newspaper to Neville, who read it aloud.
“It has recently been reported that a student attending Varitafuerta School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Spain has been charged with murder of two classmates while aboard the train transporting students to the school.
“On July 27, seventh-year student Miguel Debole performed the killing curse on two other students, third-year Tulio Cortez and first-year Pablo Neverita. Debole performed the curses in the aisle of the train while the train was in motion, almost halfway to the destination. Debole is reported to have Apparated from the scene and Aurors are still in the process of searching for him.
“In the meantime, Wizarding schools around Europe are taking precautions in response to this tragic event. Many schools are prohibiting the possession of wands from students before boarding the trains, and are refusing to allow students to be in possession of their wands until entering the safety of the school zone.
“Students are advised to be cautious at all times, even without threat of wands present. Students and families are still recovering and mourning from the terrible loss of the two boys whose lives were taken from them prematurely.”
Neville looked up at me, his mouth agape. I was taking a huge gulp of my coffee, and raised my eyebrows to tell him I agreed.
“That’s terrible!” He took another look at the moving photograph of a train compartment’s windows flashing in light. It was terrible. But there’s nothing anyone can do now. Those kids aren’t gettin’ any deader.
“So,” I said, shoving a hand through the straight gray hair that was coming down over my eyes. Everyone always asked why I had gray hair if I was only seventeen, and in return I suggested they chew some glass. “How’s Luna?”
Neville’s face flushed a bright shade of pink and avoided my eyes. He stuck his head down and tried to hide his smile. He’s such a girl.
“She’s fine. She’s excited to go back to school. She said she’s been working on performing spells without her wand. Did you know -?”
“Yeah, yeah, overachiever. She pregnant?”
Neville’s jaw dropped because he knew he should be offended by it, but he couldn’t completely hide his laughter. He knew I was just teasing him.
“What kind of guy do you take me for?”
Don’t worry, Neville. I know you don’t have the guts to get a girl knocked up. “Hey, you’re still the same Neville, but I’m just... sometimes people change. Especially in the heat of the moment, y’know?”
“Not me, Clyde. That’s you.”
I nearly spit coffee out of my mouth. I caught myself just in time, and made sure no one saw me look like an idiot. Even though in our younger days Neville didn’t speak out a lot, over the years he’s grown into being more open with me. He pokes fun at me just as much as I do him now.
“Hey, I was sixteen, arite?” He was referring to my first real girlfriend, Jessamine Robbins. I met her in my sixth year and she was a fifth year. We started going out and things got serious quickly. In terms of base-running, I was cruisin’ around every base. Stole a couple. And then I got the phone call. The phone call that could have sentenced me to death.
“Can we talk, Clyde?” she said in a low voice. I was scared out of my mind. She didn’t sound happy, and the phone receiver shook in my hand.
“Sure, babe. What is it?” I tried to sound as cool and unsuspecting as possible, but in the back of my mind I knew. I just prayed that she wouldn’t say it.
“I felt really sick this morning. And for the rest of the day...” She took a long pause and I thought I heard her sniffle on the other end. “And I missed my period this month.”
Fuck. Just kill me. Dig a hole, throw me in. “A-are you...?”
“I’m going to the doctor tomorrow morning. Clyde, what am I gonna do? What if I am...”
“Arite, just calm down,” I said, more for myself than for her. “It’ll be all right. There are things we can do to take care of it if we have to. Just don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”
“And she was not pregnant, Neville,” I said, finishing off the rest of my coffee.
Neville rolled his eyes. “You got lucky.” It was true. I did get lucky. There was no way I was stickin’ around if she was pregnant. And I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Jessamine was out of my life as soon as I got wind that she wasn’t pregnant.
“Anyway, Neville.” I looked at my watch. We’re usually out of here by now.
“So what about now?” said Neville. “What are you gonna do about that other girl? Vand-a-something.”
“Vandelia Karamanos,” I said, feeling my voice float into Cloud Nine. “Yeah, she’s a piece, all right.” A picture of Vandelia drifted into my mind’s eye. Her shoulder-length red hair curled up above her shoulders, and it shook and bobbed when she moved her head. Her face was long and her features were flawless, as though they were painted on. Her right eye was gray and her left eye was brown. I could stare at them all day. She wore lots of makeup, but it only made her more beautiful. Part of me wishes I didn’t give my virginity to Jessamine. Because Vandelia looks much more deserving of Clyde Rogerson’s first time. Damn, that would be something to put on a fucking resume.
“How long have you fancied her?” said Neville, snapping me back to reality.
“What’s wrong with you? Usually when you decide you fancy a girl, you’ve dated her and broken up with her in the same day. What’s the difference now?”
“I dunno, Neville,” I said with a bite to my tone. In all honesty, I knew exactly why I hadn’t made a move. It was because after the fiasco with Jessamine, I only fooled around with a few girls. And I knew Vandelia wasn’t one to fool around. She was serious. She deserved someone who was serious. And with my reputation, there would be no way she would accept me.
“C’mon, let’s get outta here,” I said, standing up. I saw Neville look at me for a fleeting second, and I thought I saw something like disappointment or concern in his eyes. I didn’t really understand why.
“Hey, school tomorrow,” said Neville, dropping a few Galleons on the table. I was relieved that the subject was changed. Even though Neville is my best friend, I could never tell him I didn’t think I was good enough for someone, especially a girl. I knew Neville could probably see through my paper-thin disguise of the guy who gets around, but if he wasn’t gonna call me out on it, neither was I.
“Yeah. Finally gonna be big, bad, seventh years, huh?”
“Can’t wait,” said Neville, waving thanks to the bartender as we left the Leaky Cauldron.
“Should be exciting.” I really wanted a cigarette; I could hear one calling my name at home. We walked back to my house, the promise of tomorrow hanging overhead.