Chapter 7 : Ameliorate
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He had to have known I was waiting for him because breakfast was almost over and he still hadn’t come down. I was beginning to lose my patience when a third year girl ran in and up the stairs because she forgot an assignment on her bed. I knew that, at that point, any sane person would be rushing to class. I wasn’t worried about my own class, I had Divination, but Al had Ancient Runes and I knew he would hate to walk in late.
I looked up when I heard a noise at the stairs. It wasn’t Al, just Don. Oh, wait! It was Don!
I stood up “Don!”
He jumped a little and ducked his head when he saw me. I walked over and met him at the bottom of the stairs. “Hey Camry, why aren’t you on your way to class?”
“I’m waiting to talk to Al. He still up there?”
Don nodded. “He’s waiting for you to leave. Cam, he really doesn’t want to be around you.”
That stung. “Why not?”
The look Don gave me right then made me feel very dumb. “Are you serious? You were leading him on and then you shot him down!”
“What?” I scoffed. “That is not true! I never once treated him any different than I treat you or any other guy!”
“Maybe not, but you did start going out of your way to talk to him. Why, after five years, would you do that?” Don glared at me. Did he really not know about the bet? Surely Al had mentioned it?
I shook my head. “You know what? I don’t have to explain myself to you.”
I shoved my way past Don and marched up the stairs to the Boys’ Dorms. I started down the hall, looking for the door with the six on it. Al was going to talk to me, even if I had to lock him in the room with me.
“Camry, just stop it okay?” I guess Don followed me. “The guy’s been in love with you since he was eleven! Be the person I know you are and do the right thing. Give him the space he needs to get over this.”
I looked at my feet, then up at Don. “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”
I scoffed. “Because I can’t! Look, I already said that I don’t need to explain myself to you so stop asking me to. I’m not going to just break down and give you all the details of my thought process. Back off.”
“No.” Don crossed his arms over his chest. “Al’s my best friend, Camry. I’m not going to just stand by and let you hurt him.”
“Like you care if your friends get hurt. Seriously, Rebecca Starling ring any bells?” I had to physically restrain myself from slapping my hand over my mouth. In fourth year Don stole Ashton’s girlfriend. I couldn’t believe I brought that up. I never planned to, I felt sick at the thought of bringing it up. That incident almost destroyed their friendship.
Don took a step towards me and I honestly thought he was going to hit me. He didn’t. He stepped past me and punched the wall so hard that I could have sworn I heard the sound of bones breaking. I took a step away from him. Don had a horrible temper. He’d gotten into serious fights before, both magical and muggle, where he inflicted some serious damage to his opponents.
He turned back around to look at me. I still half thought he was going to hurt me. I guess I looked like I still half thought that because he squeezed his eyes shut and took several deep breaths. “Don’t drag me or Ashton into this Camry. This is about you and Al. You’re going to leave him alone.”
“I’m sorry about that, but I’m not leaving him alone.”
“Then at least tell me why the hell you insist on breaking his heart?” Don still looked on the verge of violence.
I looked at the wall behind him. I’d almost expected to see an indent in it. There wasn’t, it was just as pristine as before. “I’ve got my reasons.” And I had no intention of breaking Al’s heart. I didn’t say that though; Don was already stopping himself from breaking my nose. I wasn’t going to push him over the edge by disagreeing with him any more than I already had.
Don shook his head. “Whatever. I’m going to class.”
I watched Don storm away and felt the telltale feeling of guilt in the pit of my stomach. My mouth really did run away with me sometimes, didn’t it? I took a deep breath and pulled my hair out of its bun and immediately pulled it into a high ponytail. Time to face Al. I continued down the hall and saw that the Sixth Year Boys’ Dorm was in the same place as the Sixth Year Girls’ Dorm. Made sense, I supposed.
I knocked before I went in. I didn’t want to walk in on him naked or anything. That would just make what was already promising to be an awkward conversation even more awkward. No one needed that. When I didn’t hear a response I assumed that he was dressed. I knew that when someone knocked on my door when I was naked I made sure to shout out to tell the person to not come in.
I walked into the room and didn’t see Al. I didn’t see anyone. I was thoroughly confused. That is, until I walked deeper into the room and found Al on his hands and knees hiding behind a bed. That was cute. I tried not to giggle, but I couldn’t stop myself. It was just too cute, anyone would have giggled.
He turned his head upwards to glare at me, his face an unflattering shade of deep red. “What?” He snapped at me, “I’m looking for my other shoe!”
“Oh.” I didn’t mention that he was wearing both his shoes. I just took a few steps back so I couldn’t see him and he could pretend to be putting on his shoe.
“What do you want?” Al asked as he sat on the bed. I assumed it was his bed. He was pretending to be tying his shoes. I knew they were already tied!
“I wanted to know if you were finished the Charms assignment?”
Al snorted, rather rudely, and stood up. “It’s due today isn’t it?”
“Well, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done.” I reached back and pulled my hair out of its ponytail again. I sighed and pulled it back into its original style for the day–a bun.
I turned back to Al and he was staring at me.
“So you are done, then?” I shifted, more than a little uncomfortable.
His stare turned back into its cold glare and then he practically snarled at me. “Yeah, I’m done. Now I’m going to go to class.”
He walked past me to the door, but paused just before going through it. “You were finished, right?”
No, I wanted to scream. I was not finished. I wanted to know why you’re being such a, such a, such a bloody girl about this! I didn’t though. No, instead I said “Yeah. I need to get to class too.”
I glared at his retreating back. Pollock. I then marched through the halls of Hogwarts, intent on making a very disruptive entrance to Divination.
Just as I was starting to lose steam, I turned a corner and plowed right into James. Great, I sighed, just what I need!
“Camry!” James grinned at me, rubbing his chest where my head had collided into him. I wanted to rub my head too, but I refrained because I decided it would be more satisfying to glare instead. “Just the girl I was looking for!”
Glaring was definitely more satisfying.
“Not Jen? I’m shocked.”
“Well, it’s about Jen. Where are you headed?”
I rolled my eyes. I so did not want an escort. “Divination.” What? Why did I tell him that? I would have smacked myself if it wouldn’t have hurt.
“I’ll walk you then!”
“Great!” I pursed my lips and just started on my way towards my classroom. Which was really out of the way. “Don’t you have class?”
James shrugged and fell into step beside me. “Probably.”
I shook my head at him. He was even more of a moron than his brother!
At first we walked in silence and I was thankful, but my luck was not good enough for that to last. “So,” James started, “you and Al are in a fight.”
Does James think of anything else? At all? Ever? “So it would seem.”
“None of your business.”
“Well, have you apologized yet?”
“I have nothing to apologize for.”
I stopped to punch James in the stomach. He let out a very satisfying oomph. I held back a smirk. Best not to let him know how much I enjoyed that.
“What the bloody hell was that for?” James hollered at me. I was glad that everyone was in class or I would have been embarrassed.
“You! And Don! And Albus! And–and–and everyone else!” I hollered right back at him. Something I wouldn’t have done if classes weren’t in session. “I mean, honestly! I didn’t do anything! At all! And you want me to bloody apologize? What for? I asked one, simple, bloody question and all I’ve gotten from it is grief! What do you people want from me? You are all asking me to act like I’m in love with him or something!”
I pointed at James. “You are his brother! Don’t you care about his feelings at all? How would you feel if Jen pretended to be in love with you? Huh? Why would you ask me to do that to Al? You’re despicable! All this for one date with Jen? You’re willing to sacrifice your own brother’s heart for one bloody date with Jen? Is that it?
“Well I’m sorry then! Because I am not willing to sacrifice Al’s heart for your’s! It’s not going to happen so back the hell off!”
James stared at me slack-jawed as I took some deep breaths. I had not planned on doing that. I felt better, yes, but it was more than a little uncalled for. James had never asked me to pretend to be in love with Al. It was unfair of me to accuse him of it.
Although, technically, it really was what he wanted me to do. Even if he never actually asked me to do it. The more I thought about it, the more my outburst was completely called for! I should have called him a calloused moron while I was at it! It was my own self-control that saved James from the lashing he really deserved!
“What is this?”
I jumped and turned around so quickly that I experienced a little bit of nausea. I had thought that a professor had caught us, but I was wrong. The Fat Lady, it seemed, was visiting portraits again. “Nothing.” I sighed, determined to make a dramatic exit.
“Is he harassing you again?” The Fat Lady looked at me. I bit back a smug grin.
“Yes, he is! He just keeps coming at me begging for sex! He won’t leave me alone, even though both Fred and myself have told him to several times.”
I turned around and left, listening to James getting told off by the portrait the whole way down the hall. I knew I should feel sorry for it, but I really didn’t. Maybe he didn’t mean to be putting Al and I through what he was, but that didn’t change the fact that James was putting us through it. He deserved some retribution.
It wasn’t until I turned the corner that I realized that I’d gone the wrong way for class. Screw it, I thought, there was no way in hell I was going back down that hall again. Not after the way I’d just told off James. No way, nuh uh, not going to happen.
Instead I decided to go for a walk through the school, avoiding class areas of course. I felt slightly exhilarated. I’d never cut class before. It was actually kind of fun. At first, anyway. After a bit I started to think about Al. I’d really hurt his feelings and I was going to have to try really hard to fix things. I curled my nose as I thought about how I wouldn’t have to put so much effort into this if Jen would just go out with James. Sure the guy was a git, but at least he was a git who was head over heals for her!
Which brought on thoughts of when I had a boy who was head over heals for me. Malcolm Jannings. My first and only ever boyfriend. Once upon a time I had been that boy’s bread and butter, and he had been mine. It was love at first, awkward, kiss under the mistletoe in fourth year. It had been nearly six months since he’d broken it off at that point. The month of the break up was known as Black April between the girls and myself.
Which brought on thoughts of the girls. Well, Jenessa. Which brought back my thoughts on James, which brought me full circle back to Al.
I conceded, at that point, that I was out of my league. I couldn’t talk to Jen about it, she’d be heartbroken. Vanessa wouldn’t really be much help. Neither would Annily or Emily for that matter. Damn, why couldn’t I have at least one slutty friend? Was that too much to ask for?
There was really only one person I could ask, but–no, I couldn’t–not her! But the more I thought the more I realised Mum was really the only girl I knew with real relationship experience. She had been married almost nineteen years at that point. She had to know something about relationships, didn’t she? I stopped where I was and looked around to see that no one was around.
When I was sure that I was alone I did what anyone would have done in my position. I jumped up and down, pumping my fists, and I whined very loudly. Temper tantrums might not be productive, but they made me feel better. So, really, they were productive, just not in the sense that they got me anywhere closer to where I wanted to be...
I didn’t waste any time in swallowing my pride and writing a letter home, detailing my issue with Al. If I had waited, even a little while, I would have talked myself out of it. I literally sat down right where I was and whipped a piece of parchment out of my bag. I applied the same logic when I ran down to the owlery to send the letter before I went to Potions.
I was quiet throughout most of Potions, I did even worse in Defence Against the Dark Arts than usual, and I didn’t eat lunch. I spent all of that time dreading going to Charms. I’d have to sit in a room with Albus Potter for seventy-five minutes with no reprieve or escape. Yes, I knew that I should be happy about it. He wouldn’t be able to run away and I could make him talk to me.
What I couldn’t do, however, was make him talk nicely to me. I wasn’t eager to be told off. I was already having a bad day because of Al Potter. I did not need him to make it worse for me.
And so I slowly trudged into Charms class and saw Al sitting in his normal seat. Right next to my normal seat. Damn, I thought, so much for my seat. I started to head somewhere else before a little defiant voice popped into the forefront of my mind.
Why are you going to another seat? He’s the one that’s angry with you, isn’t he?
Yes, but I doubted he would move even if I sat beside him. All of the Potters were notoriously stubborn.
You sit in the same seat in every class. Off to the right just a bit so you’re not in the front or back. He knows that. He’s just being a git by sitting there!
He really was, I decided. I sent an evil look at him and marched right over to my normal seat and sat down as loudly as I could. Ha! Ignore me now git!
I looked over and saw Al looking at me. I sent him another evil look, just to be sure he knew I was sending him evil looks, and then took my wand and books out and placed them on the desk. I knew I was being silly, and that acting like that was not conducive to my goals, but I couldn’t help it. Maybe–just maybe–I was as stubborn as the Potter family was known to be.
And so I decided to ignore him for that class alone. Just to teach him his lesson, which he wasn’t going to learn because he was ignoring me as well. He was better at it too.
After Flitwick was well into his lecture something happened that completely shocked me. Al spoke to me. Although, it comforted me to know that I called it when I said he wouldn’t talk nicely.
“What makes you think I like you? You’re not that pretty you know.”
Ouch much? I turned slightly so that I was looking at him, but it looked to others as if I were writing notes. He wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that his attention was on me and not Flitwick. I supposed it didn’t matter, as the tiny man was nearly blind from age, but I liked to show a small amount of respect for the man. It was only fair to at least pretend like I feared getting caught.
“Who said I think you like me?”
It’s always better to play dumb, at first anyway.
“Why else would you have asked if we were friends? You were making sure I didn’t think you like me. Why would you do that if you don’t think I like you?” Al was making that face that people make when they think the person they’re talking to is really stupid.
I had to think quickly, and yet stop myself from going into Evil Camry mode. Not easy. “I wanted to make sure that we were, in fact, friends! I mean, we never talked before this year! I wasn’t sure if you were thinking like me. I wanted to make sure you thought of me as a friend, because that’s how I think of you.”
Wow! That sounded !
Except I couldn’t enjoy my success because I saw the hurt that flashed across Al’s face. That sucked. But it was better than not getting the ‘just friends’ thing across and having him confess his feelings to me and get shot down.
He looked back to Flitwick. No, I thought, this has to be done now. I needed to make things right. I needed to know that he felt they were right.
“I’m sorry, you must have been really offended. I mean, like you said, I’m not that pretty and I must have come off sounding really conceited.”
Al looked down and the desk and ran his hand through his hair. Then he turned back to me and guilt was plastered all over his face.
“No, I’m sorry. I overreacted. I should have just asked instead of assuming.”
I smiled. “We’re both sorry then.”
Al didn’t smile back, and slowly turned the colour of an extremely ripe apple. “I’m sorry about saying you’re not pretty too. That’s not true. You’re beautiful.”
The air almost completely left my body. I hadn’t been called beautiful, in any amount of seriousness, by a boy since Malcolm. I started to say something but Al interrupted me. “We should be paying attention.”
Al then went back to ignoring me. I guessed that, while all was forgiven, all was not forgotten. I nodded. I could give him some time. I was in no hurry.
Just so we’re clear! I did not forget about the letter home in the coming chapters! It just doesn’t come up again until later!
And that is chapter seven. In six pages I am only satisfied with the scene where Camry was with James and the very last paragraph.
Oh, but, YAY!! Some actual Albus/Camry shippyness! squee
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