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Chapter 12 : The Fight
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The classes here suck, I cannot tell a lie. Seriously, there are zero teachers with any fun-potential, or any sense of humor. The only class I have with James or any of the other oldies is History; I have most of my classes with Jimmy and Hattie though, which is nice. They keep me sane, those two. Which is really saying a lot, since they’re hardly sane themselves.
“If I start to fall asleep, pinch me,” I whisper to Hattie during potions. Slughorn is sooo boring, and his fatness is really starting to bug me. I mean, it’s not like I have a grudge against fat people or anything, it’s just that every time he walks past our table his stomach bounces up and down, and knocks over our book stand. It's happened three times already.
Waddle, waddle. Bounce, bounce.
“Oh dear, I am sooo sorry, let me pick that up for you!” This is followed by the most hideous rendition of ‘bend and snap’ that I have ever witnessed. So. Gross.
“Okay,” Hattie nods, agreeing to my pinching request. “Oh, shit, it’s starting to froth!”
I look at our potion, but there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with it. I’m about to ask Hattie what she’s talking about, when I turn to see a boy, fast asleep, with drool frothing from his mouth.
“Drooly Doug, from Hufflepuff,” Hattie says, looking repulsed. “Falls asleep at least twice a week in here, poor chap.”
“That is soo disgusting!” I say, giggling, as Drooly Doug gives a gurgling snore.
“Oh, shit! It’s gonna blow!” I turn to look at who she’s looking at now, curious, to find that she’s pointing to our cauldron this time. “DUCK!”
“How was I supposed to know you had to fricken stir the potion three and a half times every sixty-two seconds, or it’d explode?” I’m scrubbing fiercely at the tarry gunk that’s stuck to my face. “And it was totally retarded of Slughorn to give us a week of detention. I mean, honestly, nobody was killed or anything…and it’s Drooly Doug’s own fault that he was stabbed with a piece of exploded cauldron…he shouldn’t have been sleeping in the first place!”
“I know, I know,” Hattie says, wincing as she tries to tear a piece of the solidifying potion out of her hair. “Owowowowowow! Sheesh, this stuff is terrible!”
“We could always use peanut butter,” I suggest half-heartedly.
“Never mind. I don’t think this is coming off!” I scrub harder at the blotch on my left cheek. Bitchy Lily is gonna have a field day. “Agghhhh!” My eyes are starting to water; this frickin hurts!
“YOU? I HAVE IT STUCK IN MY BLOODY HAIR!”
“Ok, let’s just calm down…I can fix your hair.”
“How?” She whines, frustrated.
“I’ll just cut it.”
“I’m pretty good, actually. In case you were wondering.”
“I don’t doubt it, it’s just…I’m scared, Max!” She starts to cry, fat tears dripping down her cheeks. Oh, brother.
“I’ll make it all better,” I promise. “Shh, shh, it’s okay.” I kinda like playing mother. I’ll probably never be able to have kids of my own, so I guess I’ll have to settle for comforting my friends. “I’ll be right back.” I race out and grab my specialty hair cutting scissors from my suitcase, and then race back to Hattie, who’s trying to stop crying, and looking at her reflection critically in the mirror. “Sit.”
She sits down on the edge of the bathtub, and I start by cutting off the chunk of hair that the gunk is stuck to. Her hair is sooo long, and the prettiest color; sometimes I wish I had dark hair.
“Oh my god…” She whimpers, her eyes squeezed shut.
“Shh, just relax.” I run my hands through her hair, measuring the ends to decide what cut will look best. I’m thinking medium-length and choppy, with lots of layers and body. It’ll look good with her face shape. Also, I’m thinking about giving her bangs. Too risky? Maybe. We’ll see.
It takes me a long time to cut her hair, because I want it to look perfect. Sometime halfway through the cut she relaxes, even smiling a bit.
“You should do this for a living, you’re fantastic,” She sighs. “You’re hands are magic.”
“Well, I’ve had quite a bit of practice. It all started the day I set myself on fire…” I sigh, recollecting that—ahem—interesting day.
“If I wasn’t so relaxed I would probably jump and say something along the lines of ‘What? However did you manage to set yourself on fire, you crazy child?!’. But I won’t.”
“Finished!” I say triumphantly after a few minutes, standing back to admire my work. “Nice!”
“Let me see!” She jumps up and looks in the mirror, and gasps, covering her mouth with her hands. “Oh, my! It’s…it’s…it’s half decent!”
“Thanks a lot.” I vanish the hair clippings from the floor and the bathtub. “You owe me.”
“Yes!” She throws her arms around me, hugging me and squealing excitedly. “You are amazing, I look at least nineteen!”
“Suf—foc—ating…” I gasp, trying to pull her off of me.
“Just wait till Ben sees me; he won’t be able to resist…” Her voice fades as she turns slowly scarlet. “Sorry. I temporarily forgot you were siblings.”
“I forgive you. You’re lucky you only got that stuff in your hair; the stuff on my face still won’t come off!” I look sadly at the oily blob.
“You could go to the nurse,” Hattie suggests.
“No way! And risk being seen on the way there? Not happening. Don’t you know any spells that’d work?”
“No…but I know someone who might…Jimmy!”
“Yeah, he’ll know. Come on!” She grabs me by the arm and starts dragging me out of the bathroom, but I dig my heels into the ground to stop her.
“I can’t let him see me like this!” I screech, horrified by the thought. Hattie conjures a cloth bag and before I can protest puts it over my head.
“Hey! Hey, I can’t see anything! Let me out!” But we’re moving, moving, stumbling down the steps, and finally stopping. Stopping, stopping. Moving again. I trip on my way upstairs; wait, why are we going upstairs? Hattie knocks on a door. The door creaks open. I’m shoved inside; I fall forward, yelping, and am caught at the last second. I hear Hattie’s muffled voice.
“Please Jimmy, you have to help her! She looks like there’s a giant blob trying to swallow her face!”
“Hey!” I yell, my voice muffled. “Let me out!” Suddenly the bag is ripped off my head; I gasp, blinking at the bright light.
“Oh my God.” Jimmy says. “You’re right, it’s hideous!”
“Hey! That’s my face you’re talking about!” I say angrily.
“Come here. And don’t mind them; they’re only idiots.” He nods towards the other boys in his dormitory, leading me to his bed. I sit down, Hattie sitting down beside me. I don’t look around the room at the guys in it, who are all probably staring at me, and my giant welt thingy. I’m too embarrassed. Jimmy reaches out a hand and gently touches my cheek; I lean into his touch slightly, comforted by it. “Hmmm. Well, I’m not sure, but maybe this will work. Agito absentis!” A stream of deep blue sparks shoots from his wand, and caresses my face. I sigh; it’s like a soft, gloved hand is brushing my cheek, a velvety warm wind tickling my hair. “There.” He lowers his wand.
“Do it again!” I sigh. “That felt sooo good…” At this the other guys in the room crack up, trying to muffle their laughter with their pillows.
“Come here and I’ll do it for you!” A short, skinny, pug-nosed boy with curly black hair says suggestively.
“Be careful what you wish for,” I respond, shrugging. Jimmy lays back on his bed, closing his eyes.
“That all?” He asks unconcernedly.
“Yup! Thanks, Jimbo.”
“Any time. Oh, and did you do something to your hair today, Hattie? It looks nice.” He says without opening his eyes. Hattie beams, and hugs me again.
“It’s all thanks to Max. She’s amazing, Jimmy! Her hands are fantastic!”
A couple of the guys cough nervously; Jimmy’s eyes flicker open.
“You cut hair?” He asks, curious.
“Yep! But I won’t cut yours, Jimmy. You just wouldn’t be the same without the dreads.”
“Oh, don’t worry, these guys aren’t going anywhere.” He shakes his head, and his dreadlocks fling from side to side, whipping me in the face. I laugh, shielding myself from his hair.
“Truce, truce!” He stops, grinning.
“Well, come on Max, we’d better get back to our room. Lots of homework to do, you know.”
“Wait…you actually do your homework?” This is a totally new concept to me. At G-WAM I never did any out-of-school assignments. Ever. It’s amazing I didn’t fail every class.
“Yeah…or else you’ll end up getting a T.”
“Eh, I’ve heard worse,” I say, shrugging unconcernedly. “Anyway, I’ve gotta practice my violin. I haven’t played in awhile.” I cheer up at the thought; I looove my violin. Practicing kinda sucks, but it’s been so long I’m actually looking forward for a little run-through of the songs I wrote. Yes, I just said ‘the songs I wrote.’ I love writing music; of course, I’ve only written one song so far, but that’s beside the point. The song is called “Purple Moose in the Shadowy Darkness of the Night.” I kind of had a hard time writing that down all the time, though, so I just shortened it to “Purple Moose.” It’s going to be the next classic.
“Can I listen?” Jimmy asks. “I mean, I love music.”
“Even though you don’t play any instrument.” I say skeptically. He nods.
“I’m too lazy, plus I’m basically completely tone deaf. Can’t keep a tune to save my life.” He smiles lazily.
“I don’t believe you!”
“Okay you two, break it up!” Hattie says, sounding cross. “Come on Max, let’s go!”
“Okay, okay. Sheesh! Seeya, Jimbo! I’ll be practicing in about ten minutes, probably. And there’s a good chance that I might suck; I haven’t practiced in ages. Not since—“ I pause, shake my head, and then nod and follow Hattie out of the room, closing the door firmly behind me. Phew. That was a close one.
Once we’re back in our room I rush to the bathroom to look at my face. Woah! That must have been one powerful spell. The whole left side of my face is completely flawless; the skin, that is. No more blemishes or scars; my face is completely clear! Wahoooo!
I race back out of the bathroom, point out my discovery to Hattie (who says she doesn’t see a difference and that I’m crazy), and grab my violin case.
“Are you sure you don’t want to listen to me, Hat?”
“I do, it’s just I have so much homework, and it’s impossible to concentrate with you around.”
“Okay, okay. Another time, then.” I head out the door and back down to the common room. Jimmy isn’t here yet; I decide to get my violin out and do some warm-ups. It’s a magical violin, so it’s always in tune and always has a resin-ed bow. I play a few scales, and am finally getting the hang of it again when I see Jimmy out of the corner of my eye. I stop playing, and turn to face him. “Hey! Okay, so first I’m gonna play the song I wrote for you. Then…we’ll see.” He nods, laying down on the couch.
The song starts low, a sweet, sad melody, and then soars higher; my fingers trip and fly over the keys, moving faster and faster, the notes a lively, bright harmony. The song dances, twirling and spinning, prancing through the room. When I finish with a flourish, there’s a small and scattered round of applause. I bow, and look at Jimmy for feedback.
“Impressive,” he nods, smiling. I grin. “Play another!”
I think for awhile; there was this one song, I never did learn the name of it, that my mom used to sing to me.
“Okay, I have one. My mom used to sing this to me, before she died.” I set my bow and close my eyes, and start to play. Immediately the difference between this song and the last is obvious. While the other one was staccato and cheerful, this one is slow, sad, and somber, with longer, deeper, crying notes and vibrato phrases. I can hear her voice singing along with me, sweet and slow, can feel her hand stroking my hair. I translate this into the song, and it gains strength, becomes raw and pained, reflects the sorrow I feel right now. My eyes are still closed; tears slip from them, quiet and quick, dripping down my cheeks. My hands shake.
I know I should stop playing, because it’s upsetting and I’ll end up hurting my lungs, but I can’t make myself stop, even when I’m sobbing and my fingers can hardly move any more.
“Oh, Max,” I hear Jimmy says; he’s right beside me, taking the violin from my shaking hands and hugging me comfortingly to him. “Don’t cry.” I feel safe in his arms, like nothing can hurt me. Kind of like James makes me feel. Made me feel. I still can’t believe he hurt me like that, in front of the whole school. Stupid Lily.
I gasp as I’m suddenly whooshed off me feet, into Jimmy’s arms. I try to stop crying enough to protest, but he doesn’t listen. Instead, he starts walking towards the door. Now I really start fighting him; I don’t wanna be seen in this weakened state.
“S-stop!” I gasp; my lungs are starting to burn, and I ignore them. “Put me down!” He stops, and slowly sets me onto my feet. I’m wheezing, clutching at my throat and trying to slow my breathing. I choke out the words “Accio inhaler!” and nearly collapse, steadying myself just in time. The inhaler soars into my hands and I stick it roughly in my mouth, sucking in.
I can breathe! I can breathe! I sigh, relieved, and my eyes momentarily shut.
“Max!” Jimmy says sharply, grabbing me roughly by the arm. “What the hell was that?”
“Asthma.” I say, standing. “I’m okay.”
“Come. We’re telling your brother. Now.”
“No! I said I’m fine! Plus it’s after hours; we’ll get in trouble!”
“Come on.” He drags me out the door and into the hallway, walking briskly down the flights of steps until we get to the Gryffindor common room. I’m panting again by the time we get there. We stop at the Fat Lady’s portrait, and she asks for the password.
“Amortenia,” Jimmy says. Wait. How the hell does he know the password? The portrait swings open, and we crawl in the whole.
“Please don’t make me do this, Jimmy,” I plead quietly and we exit the other side, into the cozy-looking common room. “I’m begging you.”
“No! I want to make sure you’re okay.”
“I told you, I’m fine!”
“Just trust me.” He grabs my hand and leads me through the still-crowded common room, to where Ben and some other guys are standing in a corner. “Oi! Ben!”
My brother looks over; he goes from looking calm and happy to looking worried, and rushes over to us.
“What happened? Are you okay?” He grabs me by the shoulders and looks me in the eye.
“I basically just coughed, and Jimmy freaked out!” I say, annoyed. “Sheesh, I’m fine!”
“She was…choking, and—and clutching her throat…I thought she was dying!” Jimmy whispers darkly. Ben pales, but doesn’t say anything, at least not for awhile.
“Max, I want you to stay here for tonight, okay? Just so I know you’re alright. You can sleep in my bed; I’ll take the floor.”
“No way!” I say, crossing my arms and pulling away from him.
“Yes. I i-insist. Jimmy, you can leave now. Thank you, for bringing her here.” He pats Jimmy on the back. Suddenly, a fourth person joins the party.
“Go away!” Jimmy, Ben and I all say at once, turning to glare at James.
“Are you okay, Max? It’s not your lungs, is it?”
“Mind your own business!” I say, glaring daggers at him. “I mean, come on, like you really care.”
Jimmy steps in front of me, so he’s right in front of James. They’re almost exactly the same height.
“Piss. Off.” He hisses, jaw and fists clenched. “Or I swear, Potter, I’ll wreck that pretty little face of yours.”
“Calm down! I just am concerned for her—“
“Concerned? CONCERNED? Why don’t you try and say that again, Potter!”
“What’s your problem, man? Back off!”
I can tell that James is about to shove Jimmy, and step between the two.
“Get out.” Jimmy growls, not looking at me.
“No! You’re both being stupid! James, back up and calm the hell down! Jimmy, stop threatening James!”
“I’m sorry. You’re right.” Jimmy turns away from James, and I move triumphantly out from my place between him and James. And suddenly, Jimmy whips around again, and punches James in the face, and the fight is on. Oh, brother.
The brawl attracts a good number of spectators in only seconds, all of them cheering for either James or Jimmy. It’s proof of Jimmy’s popularity that even some Gryffindors choose his side over James’s. Ben just shakes his head, rolling his eyes.
“I ask you,” He mutters, taking my hand. “Come on, let’s get you up to my room.”
“No way! We have to stop them, Ben! They’ll kill each other!”
“Nah…they were friends once, I think. They won’t really hurt each other. And anyway, James deserves his revenge, for that time Jimmy punched him in the great hall.”
“You know, after Lily was bitching and you stormed off all upset.”
“He punched him?!?”
“Yep. Didn’t say anything, just walked up to him, punched him in the face, and walked away.”
“And what did James do?”
“Well, he just kinda sat there, looking shocked. And then Lily was all over him. She’s really hot, you know. Speaking of hot, where’s your friend; the one who has a thing for me?”
“Hattie’s not here,” I say obviously, still watching James and Jimmy, who are now on the floor. “Stop them, Ben, please!”
“No way! I’m not getting involved.”
“Fine then! I’ll just have to do it myself!” I roll up my sleeves, and before Ben can stop me, I jump into the fight-pile. It’s all a big confusion of arms, legs, elbows, and fists; I try to drag the two apart. “STOP!” I yell, but they don’t listen.
“This is for my black eye!” James yells, pulling back his fist. I scream, jumping in front of Jimmy at the last moment. James’s fist connects with my face, sending a fiery pain down my whole body as my nose breaks and blood explodes everywhere.
“MAX!” Ben yells as I crumple, clutching my face. Blood leaks from between my fingers, hot and bitter.
“LOOK WHAT YOU DID!” I hear Jimmy scream through the rushing in my ears.
“Oh, my god…” Ben is beside me, his hands on my back. His voice is shaking. “There’s so much blood…”
“It hurts…” I groan, dizzy. “Benny, make it stop…” My voice seems to flip a switch in him; he picks me up and runs, out of the portrait hole and away. It doesn’t take long to reach the Nurses’ room; by the time we do, I feel extremely faint.
“Nurse! NURSE!” Ben calls frantically into the dark, empty room. A young woman rushes over to us, still in her nightgown.
“Good lord, what’s the matter?” She asks, motioning for Ben to set me down on a cot. She takes one look at my face and sighs in relief. “She just broke her nose. I can have it healed in ten minutes. She should stay the night though; she’s lost a lot of blood.” I have to take a blood-replenishing potion, and some other potions to put me to sleep. She cleans me up and fixes my nose, and the last thing I remember is Ben looking worriedly at me, right before I fell asleep.
Ugh, I’m tired. I groan.
“Max? Can you hear me?”
They sound familiar. Hmmm.
“Okay, okay!” I grumble, forcing my eyes open. The room is bright now, filled with sunlight.
“It’s me. James.”
I look at him. He’s pale, and has dark circles under his eyes, whether from the fight or from loss of sleep it’s hard to tell.
“Hi,” I whisper. “Where’s Ben? Jimmy?”
“At breakfast. They slept here with you. They—they wouldn’t let me see you; I had to sneak in.” He bows his head. “I’m so sorry, Max, you have no idea…when I saw you, and all that blood…” He looks up, his eyes large. “Can you ever forgive me?”
“Come here,” I whisper, still a little doped up on medication. He scoots closer to me; I reach up and touch his face lightly, stroking his cheek. “I forgive you for hitting me. It was an accident.” I say. He sighs, grabbing my hand and kissing it.
“Thank you, Max. I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”
His face is close, so close…
“Wait!” I say suddenly. “I said that I forgive you…for hitting me. But…I can’t, yet anyway, forgive you for the way you treated me in front of Lily.”
He sighs, looking ashamed.
“I know, I know. It’s just…haven’t you ever wanted something so badly it hurts? Since I met her I’ve wanted Lily that badly…now that I almost have her, I feel like everything is perfect. Except for you. I can’t see how you fit into this, Max…all I know is that I…I really, really like you too…” he moves closer to me; it’s like I’m burning, from the inside out, only it’s not that unpleasant, this sensation. His lips lower to mine; they’re soft and warm, and kissing James is just like I thought it would be, maybe even better than I imagined.
“I’m sorry, Max. So, so sorry…mmm, you’re beautiful…” he whispers against my lips, his hand moving to my hair. Suddenly, there’s a noise in the doorway. James pulls quickly away from me. I turn also.
“L-Lily!” James says, his hands jumping to his hair like they always do when he’s nervous. “What are you doing here?”
“Finding you. We have duties to perform, Potter. Come on.” Her voice is too cheerful, too happy. I blink.
“I’ll be there in a second, Lily.” James say, turning back to me. “Max…” he breaths. “Max.” And then he leaves, leaves with Lily. Of course. Of course, he leaves with Lily. I roll my eyes, then close them, and try to fall asleep again, and forget this ever happened. Any of this.
All of this.
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