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Chapter 3 : Tutoring Sessions, Girl Talks, and Qudditch Talks
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No real words to place here. The best mind I can give you is I have some serious schooling going on right now. Finals are coming up next week and I'll have a nice break to write. These chapters are harder and harder to pump out because I'm not quite sure where I want this story to go. So, some feedback would be nice, yeah? Aka READ AND REVIEW!
All my love,
Professor Friggs had caught us- or rather, the heatedly embraced couple. Poor James and I, however, were condemned with the blasted couple. Friggs, the normally awesome and relaxed Potions teacher, could be such the world’s largest prude! To explain to us our consequences, I served detention with a begrudging James and embarrassed Rose. The story of the two Prefects caught in a heated embrace spread like wild fire through Hogwarts’ population including to the ears of one Hugo Weasley and Albus Potter. While Hugo tried to play the protective brother, his concerns had spurted over Rose and onto more important things. However, Lily Potter was fair game and he’d hunt down and kill anyone that went near her. Albus, the pacifist of Potter brothers, ignored Scorpius and Rose for the rest of the week. Scorpius faced an onslaught of gossip from chatty girls and death glares from James Potter. James did not handle the situation well; first off, he and I missed a Qudditch practice because of the laborious detention, which I did not handle well either. And in all this chaotic time, I never got to see Riley. Or barely at least.
So in the process of a week, my life had become twisted and turned upside down. It’d been a record six days since Riley and I had had a serious best friend conversation. It was the longest I’d gone without her commentary on my thoughts since we’d become friends in First year. Summertime or not. And Al had been avoiding me, filling his time with homework, Qudditch, and I didn’t know what else. Rose had become completely absorbed into her relationship with Scorpius as well as Prefect duties. James had been my constant companion with tutoring every night except for Qudditch practice nights and even then I saw him. His friendship had become immediately welcomed in my life. James was different from any of my other friends; he took time to listen to the problems I was having with Transfiguration as well as push me.
Riley and I had always been best girl friends talking about guys and my mental issues as well as her patience level with people. Our conversations rarely treaded into the territory of our feelings and our personal relationship. Al and I talked about Qudditch and school sometimes. Our friendship was one of easy silence. At best, Rose and I discussed her family or school or Scorpius. We had an easy friendship shared among others as well. But with James … it was different.
Our friendship seemed to always be on edge, but it was more personal than any of the other relationships I had. He challenged me, listened to me, and tried to understand me more than anyone else had. Not because he had to but because we were friends- he was interested. We didn’t tread to Al’s crush on me, my family, or any romantic interests on either one of our parts. We did talk about plenty of other things: the future, Qudditch, our own friendship, and other random subjects.
I was surprised to find out that James didn’t want to go into the Qudditch league at all. He wanted to be an Auror like his dad. He’d been talking to scouts and already had been invited to train in Brazil because of the need of foreign agents. An honor that hadn’t been presented to his dad, and James seemed proud to even be invited for such an honor.
“Now focus,” James’ quiet voice commanded into my ear as I stared down a chest.
I had progressed to larger objects to transfigure since we’d started. James had found that my ability wasn’t bad, but I needed to sharpen my spells and movements. I confessed about the Professor issue and he’d laughingly agreed. He simply said that he’d focus on the lesson at hand, not the voice giving it. I had tried it and failed miserably. I would just have to continue with outside tutoring. With a quiet rumble of a spell from my mouth and a complicated movement, I transfigured the chest into a very stiff looking chair.
“Closer,” James admitted with a hint of warmth in his voice. “You were a little sloppy on the second loop as you performed your handiwork. Sharpen it up and you’ve got it.”
I nodded with a tight smile. I was upset because I had been working harder every day on this spell. It’d been presented to me as a challenge and I had been determined, at first, to finish with it in three days. I was on day five, and was nearly there. I was just so flustered. Tears pricked at my eyes quickly.
“Okay,” I replied shakingly. James’ dark brown eyes quickly searched my face.
“R.P?” he asked. I nodded and focused again. I sloppily cast the spell, turning the chest into a half-broken chair. “Focus, King,” Captain demanded.
I shuddered and tried again. My focus was slipping as I let my emotions get the best of me. This rarely happened anymore in Qudditch, but I had struggled against this sinking feeling when my mom had died. I hopelessly tried again and I heard James slam his fist into the wall. The overwhelming feeling of failure caught up with me and tears welled in my eyes. I felt the familiar sinking feeling like when my mom had died. My breath quickened and a small intake of breath escaped. James immediately stood next to me his hand on my shoulder.
“Sorry,” I lamely gasped as I tried to control the tears. The feeling was too strong and I was too weak.
“Rud-Ella,” James began swallowing.
“What?” I asked.
“Ella,” he said stronger. “Calm down. It’s okay-you are so close. We are done and I know you’re tired. Get some rest- no more homework tonight. That’s a captain’s order,” he whispered into my ear squeezing my shoulder. I turned and hugged James, imagining the low voice in my ear to be my comforting best friend.
“Yes, captain,” I chuckled slightly into his chest. His arms lay limp at their sides while I hugged him, but he moved his arms to grasp me into his arms. I felt his hard chest against my head and his heart pounding into my ears. It was the most comforting noise I’d heard since my mom had died.
“Where have you been all my life?” I asked, chucking one of my pillows at Riley. She ducked easily and sighed jumping onto her perfectly made bed.
“Hmm-did you say something?” Riles asked with a faraway look on her face.
“Oh sweet fluffy pancakes- that’s your boy face. Please tell me it’s not someone fictional,” I began with a groan. How my emotions flew from so utterly down to normal in such a small span of time I would never understand.
“It’s not,” Riley answered promptly.
“Who’s it this time- Mr. Darcy? Edward Cullen? Romeo?” I raved on. “I just can’t handle all your fictional boyfriends!”
“He’s not fictional. He’s real,” Riley burst with anger. I stared at her with a crazy smile crawling onto my face.
“He’s real? Who is he? Riley!” I happily said.
“Yeah,” she admitted bashfully. “Well, I finally took your bacon bit suggestions and wore my hair down this past week. I did some makeup and wore that jumper that fits me real well,” Riley explained. I happily listened not saying something-for once. “And I was in the library studying and whatnot. Lawler Wood came up to me and began talking to me.”
“The eldest Wood.”
“But I thought Donell was the eldest Wood. He’s a year younger-the star of Hufflepuff. He’s a real fantastic Keeper,” I rambled off.
“No, Lawler is. He doesn’t play Qudditch,” Riley patiently explained.
“Oh.” Why doesn’t he play Qudditch? Who wouldn’t want to play Qudditch?
“He’s more of a bookworm. He’s really cute though. He has these fantastic hazel eyes and a great smile, R.P.,” Riley sighed.
“Sounds like you’ve been studying someone, not a subject,” I slyly teased.
“Perhaps. He’s asked me to Hogsmeade, too,” Riley excitedly announced.
“Riley! Yay!” I genuinely smiled.
“He said that he’d been trying to talk to me since last year, but he couldn’t gather the bits to do it. Or in so many words.”
“Good for you. You deserve a date. You’re fantastic, Riles.”
“Since when have you been so sympathetic, Ru?”
“I’ve had a rough night,” I honestly admitted.
“What happened?” Riley’s concerned face shone in my eyes as she moved to sit on my bed.
“You know how penguins go through all that marching and survival fitness 101 to continue the circle of life?” Riley laughing nodded. “I feel like the penguin that did it all and lost her egg.”
“Captain has been helping me with Transfiguration and all. I have had a long week and well, I couldn’t do the last spell. The depression began to rise like a flood again and like last time with Mom… the feelings just overwhelmed me,” I explained, my voice growing tighter as time passed. Riley scooted next to me and wrapped her arm around me pulling me close to her. I laid my head on her shoulder.
“It’s okay to cry, R.P. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness,” Riley patiently said.
“I just feel like it’s a wound that will never heal,” I replied softly into her shoulder.
“I doubt it will ever heal.”
It was official. I smelled like a rhino’s backside after awkward water Pilates with a bunch of hippos and their water turd. Ugh, gross. Not the best analogy of my life, but it was fairly close to accurate. The smell stunk, but was oh so totally worth it. I had just returned from one of the best practices of my entire life! With the pouring down rain soaking me while I flew through muddy and unclear conditions- I had practiced for the worst conditions of the season. Captain’s fair leadership correlated to every practice of Qudditch except the rain. In the rain, we all lost our inhibitions and let loose. These were the practices I longed for during the tedious, boring hours of academia. My stress took a back seat to pure exhilaration and I experienced a taste of life as I flew through the howling wind and pounding rain.
Unfortunately, my roommates did not agree with me that my stink was worth a good practice. Pushing me away from them and sealing me alone in the bathroom, their obvious reaction did not bode well with my stink. Rose and Ri’s noses did not handle me well. So after a quick shower devoid of any abnormalities, I stepped back into the dorm room fresh as apple pie. I found the two girls gossiping over an open magazine.
“Come on then, R.P., let’s give you a quiz!” Riley called encouragingly. Rose snickered in agreement before receiving a deep sigh from me.
“If I promise to do it, will I be allowed to go to the kitchens first to get food? I’m starved from practice. And I promise to get something semi-healthy,” I vowed.
“Fine, bring back some pretzels or something salty. Chips sound great, actually,” Rose replied. I gave a curt nod before heading toward the kitchens. I wandered the hallway near the Great Hall before I saw James walking toward me. A smile adorned his handsome features and I couldn’t help but grin back at him.
“How goes it?” I casually asked James. He gave a quick nod before grabbing my hand and pulling me toward him.
“What are you doing?” he questioned, his gaze assessing my face.
“Uh, heading toward the kitchen to locate some not so healthy snacks for some girl time avec Riles and Rose. Are you okay?”
“Fine, really. Would you rather go on a quick adventure with me?” He gave a smile and I wondered what he was up to.
“I promised the girls I’d be right back. . .” I trailed off. A quick look of disappointment flashed across his face before being replaced with unfazed features.
“Its fine really-we can go another time.”
I bit my lip thinking, “How quick of an adventure?” His smile reappeared with a vengeance.
“It’s short. I promise. On my life,” he added with a mock serious tone.
“You better be serious because those girls involve Rose Weasley who will come up with a creative way to torture me if I don’t keep my promise,” I answered. He laughed with an agreeing nod before we set off in a quick pace. “Why are you in such a good mood, Cap’n?” I teased with real curiosity. His eyes flashed to mine quickly before his face became mysteriously neutral and he gave a half-hearted shrug.
“We’re here,” he announced a moment later before pulling open a door. My eyes immediately adjusted to darkness before I realized that it looked like some sort of old film room.
“Where are we?”
“I don’t know,” James replied excitedly. “But I found it the other day when I was concentrating on new plays for the team. It just appeared full of old films and such.”
“Everyone!” He moved toward the projector and rigged a particular film strip onto the projector. I took a seat in a comfortable chair snuggling up into it. I watched in amazement as an original Chuddley Cannons team took to the sky. It was the muggle movie type of thing, but these moving wizards seemed to magically be in the room with you. In a quick sniff, I could smell the burning scent of autumn and I felt the brisk chill in the air causing me to shiver. A warm hand appeared on my shoulder. James rubbed my left bare arm as I watched in shock. Tears welled into my eyes as I watched the original players play with a giant, misshapen Quaffle.
“James,” I breathed with wonder.
“I know you need to go. I will be here watching, but you can come back and we’ll watch together. I figured you would appreciate this more than anyone.”
“Thank you,” I whispered as we exited the room. I turned around to face him and suddenly we were in close proximity. His uneven breathing flitted through my blonde curls that were still wet. His hand came to tenderly graze my cheek with awe as if I was really there. His steely eyes penetrated into my eyes with an intense look of wonder.
“Ella,” he murmured. I felt my face warming up under his gaze and I leaned closer to him. His face came closer as his warm hand brushed my cheek causing new goose bumps to break out on my arm; they had nothing to do with the cold. In a moment, he blinked with realization and backed away.
“Of course, King. My pleasure. Enjoy your girl time,” he said with a brisk yet playful tone. It was very reminiscent of last year when we interacted outside of the field. It was a friendly but businesslike tone. Nothing like the friend I had come to known.
“Right,” I stuttered. I wandered to the kitchens in a daze as I ordered the food. My journey back to the girls passed too quickly. I hadn’t even wrapped my mind around what had just happened before I faced an onslaught of girly laughter and a giggle or two.
“What took you so long, snack girl?” Riles called out between giggles. Rose just chuckled after her.
“Got distracted. What’s so funny?” I managed to ask before taking a bite of chips. Riley looked at the pile of entirely unhealthy food with a disapproving look before grabbing a pretzel to munch on. Rose looked with great pleasure before taking tons of chips out of my hand to chew on. She took one bite before letting out a low, satisfied moan.
“Just this horrible quiz! It’s so comical!” Rose giggled.
“What’s it about?” I asked, sitting cross-legged on my own bed. I leaned back against my semi-made covers and pillow. Oh so comfortable- almost softer than the belly of a whale.
“Who’s your celebrity crush? How exciting,” Riles read off.
“Who are my choices?” I murmured absentmindedly as I took a bite of chocolate pudding.
“Let’s see- Christopher Martin; he’s actually quite yummy in a studious sort of manner,” Rose mumbled.
“Albus Potter- our best friend; the single handed most awkward child ever,” Riles replied with a smile and waggle of eyebrows.
“According to the magazine, my cousin is the fittest and tallest of the group because of Quidditch- gross.” Rose stuck her tongue out.
“Donell Wood- he seems to be more fit than Albus if you ask me,” Riley muttered.
“Have you been eying our best friend?” I asked bluntly to Riles.
“No, but I know you have,” Riles countered easily. I blushed slightly and I would admit that I eyed Al in his Qudditch robes before. He was quite fit, but I hadn’t really paid much attention to Wood.
“That’s three; these quizzes normally have four or five, right?” I murmured, thoroughly enjoying my chocolate pudding from the eternal fountain of yumminess.
“Let’s see- one studious, one wizard next door, one sports man so all that’s left is bad boy,” Rose counted off her fingers. “It better not be Scorpius because truthfully, he’s mine,” she growled. Riley and I gave a hearty laugh; always the jealous one, Rose Weasley, but in her defense, so was Scorpius.
“No, it’s Zabini,” Riles read off. We all gave a collective sigh. Zabini was wonderful; high sculpted cheeks with dark shouldering eyes and silky black hair. His caramel skin was lighter than his father’s since his mother was a Roman goddess. The boy had good genes and looked good in blue jeans. What a bad boy. Unfortunately, Mr. Eye Candy had graduated three years earlier with no serious girlfriend, but serious plans to change the Wizarding World of business. He would succeed as well because he had the brains and ambition. A very resolute but good Slytherin indeed.
“I’m surprised James isn’t on here,” Rose commented lightly. My eyes snapped up to the two girls but I didn’t lose my collected and casual stance.
“Why do you say that Rose?” I asked coolly.
“’Cause he’s fit as nobody’s business as well as a play boy,” Riles snorted ungracefully.
“No, he doesn’t date nearly as much as the tabloids like to portray,” Rose explained, brow furrowed with thought. “It’s unfair to him really because all he wants is a private life with whatever bimbo he’s chosen to associate with.”
“Is he seeing anyone now? According to the tabloids at least?” I licked my lips as I spoke.
“No, it claims he’s taking a vow of celibacy since Shepherd Murphy ‘broke’ his heart,” Riley read with disgust. “He and Shepherd went on like, one date, right Rose?”
“It was more of a public alliance for Uncle Harry and the Ministry officials. It’s all about politics and Uncle hates it,” Rose sighed. “I just wish it was easier for him and Aunt Ginny as well as my family. Just because you save the world doesn’t mean you want to be the center of attention. My parents, Uncle Harry, and Aunt Ginny don’t really help the situation by being so flaming successful though.”
“So, what’s going on with you and James then, huh?” Riley asked with interest. Rose nodded.
“Besides him tutoring me? Nothing,” I replied shortly.
“We’ve seen the two of you interacting; R.P. and I’ve noticed a shift in James. He certainly is blowing off his friends to spend time with you,” Rose said patiently.
“Yeah, since he feels guilty because he knows it’d be easier to replace me with Lola, but he’s all noble and buffalo wings so he feels the need to tutor me enough so that I can play on the team for him. It keeps his conscious clean and whatever,” I spat. I ignored our “quick adventure” with great purpose. I had no intentions of telling Riles or Rose.
“Whatever, Ru. We see the looks; we see the time you spend together. What are you going to say when he asks you out?” Riles asked with great interest. When had my best friend dug her head out of her hole in the ground to notice any romantic happenings around her?
“And what about Al?” Rose added. They stared at me.
“First off, Al and I are friends. Nothing more. I refuse to date him or anyone else for that matter,” I spoke with great conviction. “It’s like I told James when he tried to convince me to say something to Al; teammates don’t date teammates. So that’s the end of that.”
“Ru-” Riles started, but I just halted her with my raised hand. I signaled for her to stop and she even tried to continue talking after I’d stopped her, but Rose finally clamped her hand over her mouth.
“R.P., have you and James talked about this?” Rose asked evenly.
“Of course not. There’s nothing to talk about because he’s not interested and I won’t allow myself to be,” I answered with a gentle, dejected sigh.
“Uh-huh,” Rose said uncertainly. Riles and Rose shared a look, but I ignored them.
“How about you, Miss Dating?” I questioned, teasing Riley. Riley blushed and shrugged nonchalantly.
“Speak, silent monster, SPEAK!” Rose yelled, tickling Riles’ side as they sat on Riley’s bed. Riley felt off in laughter and rolled on the red shaggy carpet. She sat up, her brown hair frizzy from static and her hazel shining from laughter.
“I’m fabulous and still in shock that he’s interested,” Riles admitted honestly. I could sense her self-consciousness. Rose and I shared a look.
“When are you two going on a date?” Rose murmured, munching on more chips. She gave a small moan of ecstasy. I snorted and Riley gave a bark of laughter in response.
“Next weekend,” she chuckled. “We are going to keep it low-key at Hogsmeade. Probably stop at the book shop, get some sweets, and have lunch at The Three Broomsticks.” Rose nodded with a sweet smile almost nostalgic-like.
“What-no pink tea rooms and scented candles?” I managed to ask mockingly.
“You are so unoriginal,” Riley muttered, rolling her eyes.
“Whatever. I don’t need this kind of treatment,” I mumbled dramatically. I rose from my bed after taking two purposeful bites of chips before I slipped on my trainers and headed for the door.
“Oy, princess, where are you off to?” Riles called without lifting her head from reading the magazine. Rose nudged her to turn the page and as she did, Riles raised her head to look at me. I stood quietly staring at her trying to figure out exactly where I was headed off to. “Well?” she added.
“I’m off to find my real best friend! Albus Potter,” I answered boldly before throwing the door open and slamming it shut.
“Groundhog!” I heard a muffled Riles scream after me. I laughed leisurely before jogging down the stairs to the Common Room. As my eyes searched the room, no one of particular interest stuck out to me. Figuring that Al was near the lake, I exited the Common Room via the lovely Fat Lady in search of him. After bidding good-bye to my favorite portrait, I began to roam the hallways as a steady, turtle pace. If Al was down there, I’d find him in my own time. For now, I was just ready to enjoy my Saturday off from no classes.
“Oi snake hair! Hey Medusa,” someone called mockingly after me. I turned around with a grin already plastered on my face.
“Pizza face-how goes it?” I asked teasingly. Andy jogged up and we sat off at a bit faster pace-think rambling bear. Not so fast, but fast enough to have a purposeful stride.
“You know that I don’t have a face full of zits anymore, but you still have the awful collection of snakes in your hair,” he replied pulling at one of my curls.
“You are still the only boy that can get away with calling me that after all these years,” I answered chuckling.
“So when are you going to help me pick out my present for Megan for Christmas?” Andy nudged my side causing me to stumble over my feet. Thankfully, he caught my arm before I could fall to meet face-to-face with the grimy floors of Hogwarts.
“As soon as you give me a date, you great tub of grease and oil,” I chuckled back.
“Next Saturday? Hogsmeade?” he poked my arm before I swatted back at him. As I took a quick side glance at Andy, I couldn’t believe he’d be graduating. Andy had been my neighbor and resident friend before I’d even entered Hogwarts. The little brown eyed, black haired boy I’d known as a loudmouth three year old now stood before me as a tall, kind Hufflepuff whom still needed help shopping for girls and well, himself.
“Sure. I imagine Tina and your mom are included on that shopping list. But you have to buy me lunch and Christmas this year will much better planned when I help you later,” I groaned from memories. Andy’s slanted eyes flicked to my face.
“Oh, please believe me when I say I have no intentions of leaving my wallet here on accident. I swear, not after last year’s . . . experience,” he promised with a laugh.
“I can’t believe that you are graduating next year,” I murmured admiring Andy’s height.
“I can’t believe how much you have grown up. And now I have to hear about it,” Andy answered as we continued walking. I stopped dead in my tracks and turned to him.
“What are you on about?”
“You must be kidding with me. The boys? Do you not hear all the boys talking about you, R.P.?’
“No,” I snorted. Then I got scared- what were they talking about? Was I okay at Qudditch? Were my grades okay? Was I nice enough? “What are you talking about specifically, Andy?”
“You silly witch, you. The fact that Medusa shot up four billion inches, became well-endowed, and got a killer body from Qudditch. Or so I hear,” Andy added with a chuckle.
“Wha?” I looked at him in honest confusion.
“You are considered ridiculously good-looking by boy standards, Ru. Reality check- Albus Potter isn’t the only one that’s crushing on you,” Andy explained.
“Trust me-I’m not looking. I am happy with Megan. And your brothers, Simon and Peter, don’t seem to enjoy putting up with it either.”
“I assume they aren’t defending my honor?” I asked dryly with a hint of a smirk on my face.
“Have they ever?” Andy laughed. I giggled in response.
“Thank you for this eye opening conversation, Andy.”
“Of course, Pearl. Always my pleasure. Next Saturday, right? I’ll be sure to make all the boys jealous because of my lovely escort,” he said with a wink. I shook my head with silent chuckles.
I wandered down toward the Great Lake in my sweats and t-shirt. I had grabbed a sweat shirt thankfully since it was December already. The rain had cleared since that morning leaving the ground damp and saturated. I rambled through the ground of Hogwarts and traveled closer to the Black Lake. Albus typically ended up here after a disagreement or rift with Riley and me. Usually, though, those circumstances only occurred over Qudditch and not guys or girls. I hadn’t properly talked to Al in too long either. I saw the familiar messy hair as I neared closer.
“Al?” I called.
His eyes immediately scanned the background behind me and I felt the warm familiarity of his gaze upon me. He gave a somewhat acknowledging nod before I was allowed to amble over toward his spot near the rocks and trees around the Black Lake. As I neared, I realized that he had at least two books with him. He, being completely and far too studious, was probably doing homework. What a tug boat. “Albus Severus Potter, where have you been all my life?” I ask warmly. I draped one arm over his shoulders and he shrugged me off with a friendly half-smile.
“Nowhere you haven’t been, Rudella Pearl King,” he mocked.
“Oh, pulling out the full name? Rough,” I winced.
“I only finish what you start,” he chuckled.
“Did you hear about the Cannons?” I groaned, letting our conversation flow into familiar terms. He gave me the first awkward but genuine Albus smile as we began to talk about our favorite topics. Eventually, the conversation fizzled out like a flat soda so I turned to his school books asking real questions I had concerning Friggs’ potion assignment. Albus, the always knowing llama, answered with easiness.
“I’ll even let you borrow parchment to start your essay,” Albus murmured, motioning toward a pile of extra parchment on the soggy ground.
“I’ve started it,” I admitted. “James made me,” I answered without giving it much thought. Inwardly, I winced; dumb, dumb Dumbo. I was worse than the cartoon elephant. Al’s face reflected my exact feelings. Al wouldn’t even ask about it; it would be too awkward and uncomfortable as a topic.
“What are you doing for Hogsmeade?” Al asked, characteristically nervous but uncharacteristically forward.
“Andy Ma asked for help for Christmas shopping like he does every year. Did you wanna meet up at lunch so we can do our own shopping after I help him? You could join us if you wanted, but it’s not much fun I swear,” I suggested.
“I can’t,” he muttered. I swallowed and an uncertain emotion swam through my blood faster than a cheetah whale. Trust me, really fast marine creatures.
“I’m going on a date,” he continued to mutter, kicking some soggy leaves into the lake.
“With whom?” I managed to murmur back. What had overcome me and why did I feel so . . . betrayed?
“Lola,” he sighed. I felt my knuckles involuntarily clench before I made myself unclench them.
“Oh, I didn’t know you liked her,” I said lamely.
“I don’t know if I do,” he said, brow furrowed. He sighed again and my mind wandered back to the famous sighing Potters. I tried to suppress a small grin in case not to disturb Al. “She asked me and I had no better plans plus I wasn’t talking to you or Ri so I took her up on her offer.”
“As long as you’re happy,” I offered quietly. He finally looked at me with a flummoxed look on his face. “D’you know that Riles has a date too?”
“Yeah, with the eldest Wood, right? Lawler?” he questioned, his face showing his struggle to remember.
“How’d you know about Lawler?” I asked astonished. A very small but faint half-smile crawled on Al’s face.
“I tend to be a bit more observant than you, Ru,” he chuckled wryly. I moved closer on the rock to him and met his eyes. His gaze held mine uncertainly but he didn’t back down from my obvious stare. He simply held my eyes daring me to tear my eyes away. I had no idea what effect he was having on me right now. Finally, I sighed and looked down to my hands.
“Good luck on your date, Al. I’m glad that Lola is so observant to the fact of the fantastic guys around her,” I mumbled with the tiniest tinge of regret seeping into my voice.
“Yeah,” Al mumbled hoarsely. “Thanks.”
I stood up and shuffled away with Al’s penetrating gaze on my back taking me in. I tried to understand how I could feel two such contrasting emotions at the same time: regret and relief. Relieved almost that Al had moved on from me or so it seemed, and regret that I was relieved. I hated being a teenage girl, flourishing emotions and all that sensitive nonsense. I was never good at being female either.
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