Chapter 5 : Capricious
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“Yeah, like that. Okay try the spell now.”
A month into the school year and I already needed extra help in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Vanessa, gods bless her, had volunteered. I was starting to seriously fear for my life. The girl had the patience of a saint, and I was pushing it with my total ineptitude for learning magic and I had no desire to incur her wrath. I seriously needed to get this spell right.
Now, see, Salvio Hexia is a protection spell, delays the enemy’s perception of you. When I cast the spell, however, Vanessa’s backpack started dancing. I even saw Vanessa roll her eyes, I swear!
I frowned and, quite violently, shoved my wand into my pocket. “Look, this isn’t working, and I have to meet Al in the Library, so . . . ”
Vanessa waved her wand at her backpack and, without saying a single word, it fell back to the ground as motionless as a backpack should be. “Charms help, or is this a social call?”
I snorted. “Charms help.” Social call, ha! I may be talented, but I can’t work miracles–like I would have been able to form a non-blushing friendship with him in a month!
“Well, I need to talk to Professor Longbottom so I’ll see you later.” Vanessa smiled at me, not even hiding her relief at no longer being stuck tutoring me as she left in a hurry.
I shook my head at her and left in the other direction. I was nearly at the Library when Margo Baker walked out of a room and directly into my path. I was fully prepared to walk around her, but when I stepped to the side she quickly followed.
I frowned and stopped. She had been accidentally bumping into me since classes started up. Apparently, she had decided to confront me when I had no other friends around. Class act, that one.
“Can I help you?”
“You could die.” Margo crossed her arms over her chest, adopting a defensive stance.
I balked at her words. “Excuse me?” Seriously, we had never spoken more than fifteen words to each other since we met.
“Look, I was willing to let it go when it was impossible, but you’re making it seem possible and that doesn’t work for me.”
And at those words only one word filled my mind. “Huh?”
Margo rolled her eyes at me. “Don’t play stupid, it suits you just a little too well.”
I gritted my teeth for a second. “Look, I don’t know what your problem is but I have somewhere I need to be.”
I moved to step around her, but once again she stepped into my way.
“My problem,” she growled–no, seriously growled–at me, “is you playing with Albus’s emotions. I won’t stand for it. I was willing to let him pine so long as he knew it’d never happen, but you’re giving him thoughts that it might actually happen and I won’t have it.”
I shook my head and raised my hand. “Wait, you’re giving me a hard time because I’m friends with Al?”
“Friends? You think you’re friends? Please! You’re nothing but a nice, cheap, piece of a-“
“Stop right there!” I glared at her. I had never seen her talking to Al, I had no idea he was friends with such an arrogant woman! “We are friends, and if you ever even try to call me what you were about to call me I will kill you.”
She raised her eye brows. “Be careful little Camry, you don’t want me as your enemy. Leave Albus alone.”
Before I could respond, she turned and stormed off. I stayed frozen in my spot for several moments. I couldn’t believe that girl! As if I would ever! She called him Albus. He hated being called Albus! She couldn’t be all that close to him if she didn’t even know that.
I shook my head and continued on to the Library, deciding to ignore what had just happened. I turned the corner and I could see its entrance when Margo’s voice made it’s way, unbidden, into my thoughts.
Look, I was willing to let it go when it was impossible, but you’re making it seem possible and that doesn’t work for me. I froze mid step. Now, seeing as how I had one foot still in the air when I seized up, I ended up tumbling forward. I grabbed at the wall for balance and, after a few moments of doubt, I managed to stay standing on my own two feet. Later I would be very proud of myself for that, but at that moment all I could think about were those words.
What if Margo was a good friend of Al’s? What if she called him Albus because they were so close that he didn’t mind? Was she right? Was I letting Al think there was a chance between us? I felt sick at the thought. I didn’t want to string him along. Yeah, I liked the attention but I wasn’t interested. I couldn’t stand the thought of him not going for a girl that really was interested because he thought that I wanted him like that.
I sighed. Now I had to tell him; actually say the words. I rubbed my forehead and walked the rest of the short distance to the Library. I looked around for Al’s dark head and ended up seeing him sitting at the far edge.
As I made my way to him I felt a weight in my chest. I had never had to turn someone down before. Hell, I’d had one boyfriend in my life and he broke up with me. I forced a smile as I sat down. Al was preoccupied with his notes. He looked all sweet and innocent. I didn’t want to tell him out loud.
He jumped and looked up at me. He blushed and smiled back. “Hi.”
Better. He was getting better. “So, what’s the plan for today?”
“Oh, uh, I was thinking we’d go over the theoretical parts.” Al started digging through his notes.
I frowned. “But I know the theory.”
“If you knew the theory, you’d be able to do the spells.” Al’s face flushed so red that I thought he was going to pass out. He’d gotten better at talking. His blushes hadn’t gotten any better, actually, I thought that might have gotten worse.
“But I know the theory! I ace all the written tests.” I could have sworn I saw Al roll his eyes at me for a second.
“You’ve got the words memorized, yeah, but you don’t actually understand any of it.” I opened my mouth to respond but couldn’t think of anything and closed it with an audible snap.
“Fine. Teach me theory!”
I don’t know how much time we spent hunched over Al’s Charms book. I mostly paid attention to what he was explaining, but a part of my mind couldn’t shake the feeling that I was hurting him but not saying anything.
In the end I decided to gather up my Gryffindor courage and confront this head on. We were finished studying and everything was put away when I broached to subject.
“Al?” I grabbed his arm as he stood up. When his head snapped to where my hand touched his arm I pulled it back like I had been burned. “Could we talk a minute?”
“Uh, um, yeah. Sure.” Al sat down at looked at me. Oh gods, he looked hopeful!
“I just, I wanted to tell–no, ask–you something.” I started wringing my hands together.
Al just stared silently at me with that hopeful look on his face. I just wanted to run away and pretend to not be a Gryffindor.
“Well, um, see it’s like this–“ I took a deep breath. “you and I, we’re friends, right?”
I saw it happen before my very eyes. Al’s face fell, and then became stiff at the way I stressed friends. Then he nodded.
“Yeah. Friends. I have to meet Ash and Don out by the lake.” Al got up and left without a glance back.
“Bye.” I said pointlessly and waved pathetically before leaving to find Vanessa. I found her quite easily. She was reading Hogwarts: A History in the Sixth Year Girls’ dorm. I didn’t even hesitate, I grabbed the book from her and threw myself across her lap, and proceeded to tell her about my day.
I left Margo out of it.
“Well, you did say you didn’t want to lead him on, right? So this is good.” Vanessa took off her glasses and put them on the night stand next to her bed.
“Yeah, but he looked so hurt!” I sighed and pulled my hair out of its bun and then pulled it back into a pony tail.
Vanessa shrugged. “Better to hurt him a little now than to break his heart later. Besides, maybe now he’ll get a girlfriend and really want to be just friends with you?”
“Maybe.” I frowned and groaned before rolling over and burying my head in her pillow.
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