Chapter 4 : I Am Not Afraid
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This chapter doesnt have a happy ending. Just a heads up.
But much to my surprise, it wasn’t.
Instead, it was just like every other morning. We sat together, along with Splinters and Becky McOwen. Bludgers, they explained, was nursing a pretty nasty hangover. I was about to comment on the stupidity of getting smashed on a Wednesday, when I remembered that it was Bludgers. The day didn’t matter.
The three of them ate like animals. Being ‘athletes’, they needed their food. This almost made me snort out loud, but I stopped. Snorting at nothing in particular was hardly something I really needed to be doing.
“So, I hear your mum’s got tickets to the Quidditch world cup semi finals,” Splinters said, not trying very hard to disguise the hint.
“Yeah,” James said simply. I knew he didn’t want to discuss it. It wasn’t like he could take Splinters anyway, no matter how much he wanted to. It was family only as far as Ginny Potter was concerned.
“Who’s playing?” I asked, and I saw Becky McOwen roll her eyes.
“Hasn’t been decided yet,” James told me “anyway, the match isn’t until next summer.”
“Yeah, but the tickets go on sale really early, ‘cause it’s such big news.”
It was my turn to roll my eyes.
“Oh look,” I said lamely “Post.”
It was a long shot, but it did shift the topic of conversation away from quidditch. I was glad, because, and I know I’ve mentioned this before, I hate Quidditch.
All four of us received something. Splinters, Becky and James all got letters from home. I got the Daily Prophet. I gave the post owl a couple of Knuts from my pocket as payment and he took off again. I unrolled the paper and winced at the headline.
“What?” James asked, tipping the paper towards himself so he could read it. His face dropped when he saw.
‘Muggles Found Dead – Aurors on the case.’
“What is it?” Becky asked. James glanced at her and read aloud “ Yesterday, Wednesday 3rd of September, Aurors were called to the house of a muggle politician and his wife. They were found dead with no visible cause of death…” he paused and looked at me “Harry Potter, Head of the Auror Department had this to say-“
“That’s not the first is it?” Splinters said “There was that guy who worked for their prime minister…and that guy who was on the muggle news when I was at my gran’s.”
We were quiet for a bit, thinking it over. Noone knew who was behind it, but whenever people started turning up dead it caused panic in the Wizarding World because it reminded people of Voldemort.
“Yeah, but my dad’s on the case!” James said brightly “no need to worry.”
I wanted to believe him, but there was a hollowness to his voice that made me worry.
Divination was possibly the most hilarious thing I’d ever been out of my mind to take. Not only was our professor extremely old, she was incredibly forgetful as well. I’d be very, very lucky if she remembered my name.
Not only that, but sitting with James for an hour and a half in the pink, musty tower room was beginning to seem rather appealing.
Mostly considering it would be the two of us with only a bunch of people I didn’t know. But better than that, there would be no Demeter Vane.
“I cannot believe you talked me into taking this for NEWT.” James complained as we took our seats at the back of the room. The two cushions were ours, and had been for a long time. They were perfect for a snoozing on the sly, especially since our table was half obscured by a thick, bright pink curtain.
“I can’t believe you would pass up the chance.” I said, trying not to laugh. He was right about that. It was a waste of time.
He rolled his eyes and gave me a friendly shove. I smiled.
The lights dimmed and James sighed. The lights dimming meant one thing: Trelawney was coming.
“Welcome pupils!” she whispered, extending the vowels to ridiculous lengths.
Once, a very long time ago, she had instructed us to reply with ‘Thank you Professor Trelawney’, and we, as third years, had done as we were told. Now, all she got from us was a couple of grunts and a cheery ‘Morning!’ from Dorcas Fielding.
“Yes…” the professor, said, in a very disappointed voice. She surveyed the room with her magnified beetle-esque eyes. She stopped when she noticed James and I, and spoke again “This term we will be studying skatharomancy. Mr Potter, can you tell me what skatharomancy is.”
“Um….” James, I could tell, had no idea. I lent over and muttered the answer, just loud enough for him to hear “Divining from beetle tracks?”
“ Very good….” She said, as most of the class looked rather disgusted.
Dorcas Fielding spun round and fixed James with a wide, if slightly creepy smile. James nodded once, a terrified expression on his face.
Dorcas Fielding, seventh year Ravenclaw and resident lunatic. She was always following people round, falling in love with everyone, organising ceaselessly and generally annoying the pants off anyone who had to spend more than five minutes with her. I stifled a laugh, but she heard and glared at me.
This only made me laugh more.
Trelawney held up a jar of beetles. I rolled my eyes as a couple of people squealed. They were beetles, run of the mill, bog standard, find them in your garden beetles.
She waved her wand, and everyone had a tray of sand infront of him or her and a jar with a single beetle. Her jar stood empty.
“Now, let your beetle run across the sand until he wishes to stop.”
“You’d think she was talking about the beetle like it was a person wouldn’t you…” James remarked under his breath. I smiled, conscious of how he was leaning so close.
He ran a hand through his hair people started to pick up their beetle jars and get to work. He grinned at me.
“Let’s get our beetles out.”
Half an hour later, and with my beetle safely back in his jar, I leant back against the wall. James did the same thing.
“Hey, about when you saw Dee and me in the corridor…” he said. I looked him in the face, none of my nerves showing on my face. So they had nicknames now? Well I should have expected it. Demeter’s a bit of a mouthful.
“Yeah?” I said, my voice surprisingly calm.
“We just got caught up…I-“ I held up my hand and cut him off.
“You don’t need to explain yourself James,” I said a half smile on my face, even though I didn’t feel remotely smiley at that precise moment.
He breathed a sigh of relief.
“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t think I went around snogging girls in the middle of corridors.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“Oh, all right.” He conceded.
There was a gasp and a shriek of horror, so loud that I jumped about a foot in the air. Professor Trelawney was bearing down on us, pointing a quivering talon-like finger at my beetle tracks.
I inched away from her, until I hit James, who started inching away too.
“You!” she bellowed, pointing at me instead of the sand “do you know what this means?”
“No…” I said slowly, glancing at what appeared to be little more than indents in the sand.
“It means,” she paused, possibly for breath, possibly for dramatic effect “that you are about to suffer great torment! And not from afar!”
I stared at her, my mouth hanging open in bewilderment.
Professor Trelawney straightened up placed the back of her hand on her wrinkled forehead and sighed dramatically “Class dismissed!” she said.
There was a race for the ladder and the fresh air that it would lead to.
I trailed along behind James, trying not to think about Trelawney’s lovely prediction. I knew that she was an idiot. Her mother was this famous seer, and she simply had to be the same. Pity she had no talent.
Oh look at that, I may be acting a bit harsh but the woman just informed me I’m about to undergo a smidgen of torment. I might also be slightly bitter because I’d just seen Demeter Vane on the landing across from us. She’d spotted us too and was waiting, so just when we reached her, she threw her arms around James’ neck, knocking me sideways into a group of Slytherins. After muttering an apology, I flashed my worst glare in Demeter’s direction and stormed off.
I was so angry with everything that I almost collided with Splinters, who looked down at me with a big grin on his face.
Why was he so fricking happy to see me? It wasn’t like I was a lovely person, no, my knack for hexing my best mate’s girlfriend made sure of that. I’d never even spoken to him without James or Becky there to catalyse the conversation.
I waved weakly before mumbling an excuse and running off to Arithmancy, not even bothering to think about his unseasonable happiness. I had more important things to think about. Namely, just how I was going to get Demeter away from James long enough to actually speak to him. Now I’d finally twigged that what I was feeling wasn’t exactly platonic, she was annoying me a whole load more.
As Professor Vector directed us to the page we would be using, I was as far away from Arithmancy as possible. I was wherever James was, trying to remember everything about his face. Now I understood why the girls in my dormitory fussed about whomever they fancied.
But the very idea that Demeter was the one he would choose to be with made me want to put one of those Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes puking pastilles into her breakfast and casually ‘lose’ the part that cures you.
Then I remembered that if I kill his girlfriend, James probably wouldn’t want to date me anyway. Everyone else would probably be all for naming a day after me but James is the important one here.
Then the bell goes and I realise that I’ve wasted an hour doing nothing but imagining ways to get rid of Demeter Vane.
And Professor Vector didn’t even notice. She just kept looking at me with a really sad expression and I have no idea why. What does she know that I don’t?
I didn’t have time to dwell on this delightful thought though, because that’s when I walked into the common room, dumped my bag and sat down, only to come face to face with Demeter Vane and James, all wrapped up in one another again. My heart goes mad and once again, I can’t breathe properly.
“Cheer up Charlie,” James said absent mindedly, as Demeter licks his cheek. That’s right ladies and gentlemen; she was licking his fucking cheek. Who is she, Hannibal Lector?
Ok, creepy comparison I know, but whatever. She’s licking his face. With her tongue. Excuse me while I vomit.
Demeter giggled and flicked her blonde hair out of her way.
“Jamesy…” she cooed. I could have sworn I blanched. Only, I don’t think I did because James didn’t notice. Or maybe he was too…preoccupied for that. Jamesy? Who does she think she is? No one, not even me, gets away with Jamesy.
“Dee Dee,” he replied, and it felt like I actually was about to throw up all over them. Pity I didn’t actually, because, in retrospect it would have stopped their canoodling.
But instead, when Dee bloody Dee turned to me, and flashed me a big wide ‘suck on this’ smirk, my wand was out so fast I couldn’t quite believe it myself. Splinters barked a laugh, and Becky snapped ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’ closed. James looked at me in utter surprise.
“Charlotte,” He said, through his teeth. I knew I was in trouble. He doesn’t call me Charlotte. Ever “What the hell are you doing?”
I didn’t even listen, or reply. I was rushing through lists of spells, trying to find one that would cause Demeter Vane the most humiliation. Then I actually looked at James and I realised that he was genuinely upset.
Fuck it, I thought, and with a loud growl, I pushed Splinters out of the way and ran out of the common room and collapsed in the entrance of a hidden corridor, just out of sight behind a tapestry, sobbing like a maniac.
I was so angry at this point that the only thing I could do was take my anger out on something. Somehow, this came out as sobs. I hated her, and I hated him for loving her instead of me.
I knew I was overreacting in a big way, but I didn’t care.
After a while, when I’d made sure that my eyes were nice and puffy, because everyone knows that is just what boys look for in a girl, I pushed the tapestry aside and walked out. I’d gone no further than a few steps when I heard Professor Vector’s voice.
“Miss Phillips, I think you need to come with me. Now.” She said, in a very solemn voice.
I followed her to Professor McGonagall’s office, where the Head Mistress was sitting, looking as haughty as ever.
“What’s this about Professor?” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer.
“I think you’d better sit down.”
I hate it when people say that. It always comes before something really good, or really bad, and from the look on my Professors’ faces; I was guessing it was the latter.
“Miss Phillips, I’m afraid I have some bad news.” McGonagall said. I stayed quiet while she paused “it’s your father.”
My dad? What about him? I haven’t seen him in ages. He’s always away on business, always fighting dark wizards and getting hurt. I wondered briefly whether he’s managed to get himself hexed into a coma.
“Miss Phillips, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you.” She paused again, and I can feel my heart beating like I’ve just finished a marathon “He’s dead,”
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