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Chapter 15 : Blind Accusations and Bikinis
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The breakfast hall is full of late-morning risers such as myself, all piling their plates high with eggs, toast and bacon. I rub my hands together in anticipation before glancing over at my House table. Hattie is carefully inspecting a sausage, nose wrinkled in distaste, while Jimmy stabs abusively at a defenseless piece of bacon, looking sullen and agitated. As of now I’m sitting by James at the Gryffindor table, surrounded by the Marauders.
“So, Max, what would you rate James’s skill out of ten?” Sirius asks, propping his head on his fist. "Don't be afraid to go into the negatives."
“Shut up, Padfoot!” James says, glaring at his friend and looking embarrassed.
“Don’t mind Sirius, Max. He’s just a pervert,” Remus explains calmly, patting my arm consolingly. “Anyway, how do you fancy the classes so far? Are they to your liking?”
“Eh. The teachers are pretty nice, for the most part, but they’re all really boring. And I don’t understand why they get so upset when I never do my homework. I mean, honestly, they should really stop being so surprised.”
“You don’t do your homework? Any of it?” Remus asks, looking shocked. I snort at his incredulity.
“I have better ways of spending my time. Namely making out with your friend James.” I lean over and kiss James on the neck; he turns and presses his mouth to mine. While he’s kissing me, something compels me to open my eyes and look over his shoulder to where Hattie and Jimmy are sitting. Jimmy’s looking directly at me. I’m so surprised that I quickly close my eyes and turn away.
“Ugg, this is sickening,” A girl sitting nearby says loud enough for us to hear. “Get a room!”
“Shut up, Liz! They’re fine where they are.” Sirius is looking dreamily at us. This is just too weird; I pull away from James.
“James, I think I should go and sit with my own table now. Bye!” I stand, kiss him on the cheek, and head over to sit between Hattie and Jimmy.
“What’s up, guys? Jimmy, I told you not to torture your food like that! The poor pig has been through enough already.”
Jimmy ignores me, dissecting a piece of crispy bacon with a toothpick and grinning evilly.
“I live to torment animals,” He admits. “Especially the dead ones.”
“You would be the type,” I say, glaring suspiciously at him, then smiling. “So, what do you guys want to do today? I’m game for pretty much anything.”
“Hmmm. Well, I was actually planning on doing some homework today, getting that all taken care of. And you have your detention…”
“Oh, yeah! I almost forgot, again. Well, what about tonight, then?”
“What do you have in mind?” He looks curiously at me. A slow smile strtches across my face.
“I’m not going to like this, am I?”
“I was thinking maybe we could take a little dip in the great lake. Before it gets too cold to.”
“Are you crazy? The lake is really deep, you know; tons of things live in it, too.” Jimmy sounds apprehensive.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea!” Hattie claps her hands together, looking excited. “I brought my bathing suit.”
“Oh, I wasn’t thinking we’d use our suits,” I say shyly. “Have either of you ever been skinny dipping?”
They stare at me.
“Oh, come on, it’ll be fun!”
“Well…I suppose I’m game…” Jimmy says slowly. “How skinny are we talking, though? Skin-skinny or knickers-skinny?”
“Maybe just knickers-skinny for the first time. Like a sort of practice round,” Hattie suggests. I shrug, agreeing.
“Well, it’s settled then! Excellent. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have business to take care of.” I stand, dust off my pants, and walk back over to the Gryffindor table.
“James?” He turns to me, and stands, grinning. His hand jumps to his hair, messing it up.
“What is it, love?”
“Can you give yourself a detention with me this afternoon? I could use the company.”
“Sure. I should do something detention-worthy, though. What trouble should I start this time?” He narrows his eyes in thought. “Aha!” He grins, pats me on the shoulder, and then starts walking towards the Slytherin table, finds Snape, and randomly punches him in the face.
“What the—“ Snape is totally unprepared, shocked at the surprise attack. He clutches his nose, which is dripping blood.
“Don’t bother, Professor,” James says, waving a furious-looking McGonagall away. “I’ll give myself a detention. James Potter, I sentence you to scrubbing the Quidditch posts this afternoon.” He walks back over to me. “Oh, and don’t bother trying to curse me, Snivellus. I have eyes in the back of my head.”
Snape tries to throw a curse at James, who deflects it without once turning around. My eyes widen, impressed. Then I spot Remus out of the corner of my eyes, shooting deflective curses at James. Aha! So Remus is his eyes.
By the time I have to head out to the Quidditch pitch, there’s a whole group of kids “in detention” with me, including Sirius, Remus, Dick, Ethan, Ben, and Hattie. When James offered to give Jimmy detention, Jimmy told him to stuff it and stop acting like such a prick, and then went back up to the Ravenclaw Common Room. Lily's coming too, saying that she needs to keep an eye on James and make sure he stays in line. I roll my eyes at this.
“Puh-leaze. Like there are any boundary lines in James’s life that he wouldn’t be willing to pass.”
“You’d be surprised,” Lily says darkly. I ignore her.
“So, where do we get the brooms?”
We borrow these crappy brooms from the school and fly up, cleaning materials in hand. It’s harder than it looks to keep balance while scrubbing. Sometimes when nobody’s looking I sneak my wand out and use magic to clean, but I’m worried Lily will catch me and give me another detention. Actually…I guess she can’t! She’s suspended!
“Screw this!” I drop the bucket of sudsy water and the sponge—they fall to the ground, where someone just happens to be standing. Crap. I fly down to see who it is who’s now drenching wet; it’s Dick. I shrug, then fly back up. Dick’ll live. He needs a little water splashed on him once and awhile, anyway.
“You’ll regret that!” He calls up, sounding pissed.
“I highly doubt it,” I laugh, soaring up, up, and awaaaaay! The sky is really blue now, the sun bright and hot on my back. Maybe I’ll get a tan! I really need one. That gives me an idea.
“Hey, Hattie! Let’s change into our bathing suits and get tan!” I shout.
“Good idea!” She calls back, flying closer.
“Hey, Head Boy! Do we have your permission to change so we don’t—er—ruin our clothes with this icky water?”
He shrugs. “What do I care? The badge is just for show, Lily makes all the calls. But then again, I guess she’s suspended!” He sounds pleased about this. “Go ahead!”
“This is not a social get-together!” Lily shrieks, looking grumpy. “You’re supposed to stay and work!”
“You can change, too, if you want,” I say, shrugging. She glares at me.
“Okay, then. Suit yourself. Or—well—don’t!” Hattie and I soar back to the ground, landing gently and setting our brooms in the shade so they’re nice and cool when we get back.
The walk from the Quidditch pitch to the castle is pretty lengthy; it takes us a good fifteen-twenty minutes to get there, and then another ten to get to the Ravenclaw common room and solve the riddle. Once we’re in our room, we run to our suitcases and dig out our bathing suits. We both have bikinis; hers is tangerine orange, and makes her look super tan—mine is navy blue with red and white polka dots.
“You look so cute!” Hattie says, clapping—we’re both giddy with the prospect of flying in our bathing suits (a life-long dream of mine, sadly). “Should we wear our robes overtop?”
“Probably,” I shrug, and grab my school robe, pulling it over my bathing suit; my front is still revealed, but oh, well. Hattie pulls hers on, and we head back out to the common room, where there’s a decent-sized group of students studying still, including Jimmy.
“Jimmy!” I run over to him, grinning.
“You dressed…down…” His eyes are glued to my bare stomach.
“We’re just playing around with water out at the Quidditch pitch.” I grin still larger. “You should come, it’s fun.”
“I might just do that.”
“Great! See ya, then!”
Everyone’s staring; well, the guys are anyway.
“Party at the Quidditch pitch!” I shout, and Hattie and I make our exit. “Lily is gonna be so pissed!” I laugh at the thought of her expression when the whole school shows up to watch my detention.
The hallways are by no means deserted; plenty of people are milling around. They all either cheer when we walk by or move as far away from us as possible, looking disgusted. Either way I don’t really care. I’m on top of the world!
The posts already look cleaner from a distance, all shiny and golden and whatnot. I have a sneaking suspicion that quite a bit of magic was used.
“Do you think your brother likes me? Does he have a girlfriend?” Hattie asks suddenly. I groan.
“Well, I know for a fact that he thinks you’re hot, if that means anything to you. And no, he doesn’t have a girlfriend.”
“He thinks I’m hot?” She gets this disturbingly dreamy look on her face, kind of like the way James used to look when he was thinking about Lily.
“Can we not talk about this?” I ask. “Awkward territory! Awkward territory!”
“Fine, fine. Oooh, I think they see us!” She waves; we’re close enough now to see everyone clearly; almost there! We still have our robes on; they’re really hot in the sun. The second we reach the pitch I throw mine off and sigh in relief.
“Looking good!” Dick calls giving me the thumbs up. I just ignore him, grab my broom, and fly up again to where James is hovering.
“James!” He turns; he hadn’t realized I was there yet.
“Wow! You look great!”
“Hey you guys, look at all those people coming!” Ethan calls, facing the castle. I turn and see a huge crowd of students rushing this way. I laugh loudly, knowing this is my doing. Lily is soo mad.
“What did you do?” She grinds out, looking furious.
“ME? Don’t make blind accusations, Lilikins.”
“I know you’re behind this!” She flies away towards the crowd, probably to tell them to leave.
“Hey Max, how are your lungs? Maybe you should take a break.” Ben come up behind me, smiling. He loves flying just as much as I do.
“I have a better idea: let’s race!” I zoom straight up into the air laughing, my body pulled close to my broom for better aerodynamics. I can hear him catching up and speed up a bit. It’s a weird feeling being this high up; the sun is huge and bright and hot, but the air is freezing. I shiver in my bikini. I should probably go a bit lower. I’m breathing fast in the excitement; my lungs are starting to ache. Fuck. I fly lower and slower, trying to calm my racing heart and rapid breathing. I should land now. I should definitely land.
There’s a covering of clouds between me and the ground, blocking my sight; I have no idea where anybody is, including Ben.
I can tell I’m going to fall, even before I do. The thin air and bad lungs probably weren't the most ingenious combination. Not to mention the high altitudes. Even when I feel my vision blackening I try to hang on to the broom, choking for breath, because hitting the ground from here would be suicide. I try and call for help, but I can’t seem to force enough air out of my lungs to form words. Eventually I release my grip, blacking out.
I wake to the sound of someone calling my name. I’m on solid ground again, the green grass soft and warm under my bare skin.
“Ben?” I ask raspily; my throat burns.
“I’m here, sis.” He hugs me, shaking. “This is all my fault. I should have never let you fly! I’m just as bad as that bastard friend of yours, Jackson!”
“I can’t…see right…”
“What? What do you mean?”
“It’s all black! Why is it all black?”
“Shh, just calm down and relax, I’m going to take you to Pomfrey!” I feel Ben scoop me up into his arms. There are lots of voices around me, muttering different things.
“What’s wrong with her? Is she okay? Are you okay, Max?” James sounds terrified; I can sense him hovering nearby.
“I’m blind! I know it!” Huge tears roll down my cheeks; if I lose my vision, I lose everything.
“I’m here for you, Max.” I feel his hand gently on my cheek, and try to stop crying.
“Where’s Hattie?” I ask.
“She flew ahead to warn Madam Pomfrey.”
“Did I fall?”
“It was terrible,” James shudders. “If Dick hadn’t been exactly where he was…”
“Dick saved me?” I ask incredulously.
“Yeah, caught you in the nick of time too. I thought you were a goner.”
Great, so now on top of everything else, I owe Dick my life. Wonderful.
People shout questions on the way into the castle; I can hear the gossip train starting already. I don’t really recognize any voices, until we run into Jimmy. His voice is very distinguishable.
“Hattie told me everything. Is she conscious?”
“I’m conscious, I’m just blind,” I confirm. “I guess every silver lining has its rain cloud.”
“You’re…blind? Are you sure?” his voice sounds odd, croaky. “Max, you have no idea…if I would have just been there…”
Oh no. He’s blaming himself, isn’t he.
“Are we almost there?” I ask, whiney.
“Almost there, babe. Almost there.”
Madam Pomfrey says that my blindness is because, despite Dick’s catch, I still seem to have hit my head. She said that it’s probably temporary, though, and that sometimes in these cases a person’s vision comes back after a day or two, or sometimes even longer, like a week. She makes me stay in the hospital wing for the rest of the day, and the next day, just to make sure I’m completely fine.
Sunday evening someone comes to pick me up.
“Who is it?” I ask.
“Hattie.” She comes and hugs me, and I hug her back. “Come on, let’s go. We still have time to eat supper.”
“But I can’t see!”
“I’ll help you,” she promises. So we make our way to the great hall, where everyone is still enjoying their meals. Nobody really notices when we walk in; or, at least I don’t think they do. There’s no sudden quieting or otherwise of the hall, at least. I have to lean completely on her all the way to the table, where she sits down beside me.
“How are you feeling?” Jimmy sounds extremely concerned.
“Fine, I guess.” I shrug. “So, what’s for supper?”
“Meatloaf, and corn, and more smashed potatoes than you can imagine!” I hear Hattie loading my plate. “Open wide!”
I open my mouth; she spoon-feeds me.
And unfortunately my shame is a bit harder to swallow than the potatoes are.
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