Chapter 10 : October 5th
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Disclaimer- I do not own Harry Potter and I do not make any money from this.
Chapter image by Jannnnnu @ TDA
It was a wide and commonly known fact in Hogwarts, that achieving a passing grade in History of Magic was nearly as impossible as staying awake in the dreaded class. Professor Binns, prattled on and on, and whether or not the students actually listened, was entirely in their hands.
Yes, it was a wide known fact that hardly anyone managed to pass, except for the select few who broke the barriers, and touched greatness. The few who paid attention.
Not everyone was so fortunate, and some say that it was for this purpose that gave rise to him.
No one knew his name, identity, or even if it was a he. They only knew him by what he or she was called.
He was sneaky but reliable, if one could pay the right price, that is, or solicited a trade with an item of equal value.
The delivery of the item was always swift and never done twice by the same person. His services were offered to all, with no exceptions. For those studious types who wanted the satisfaction of passing every subject but who lacked the strength to fight against the hypnotizing quality of Binns’ voice, to those who failed everything else and scrapped at the hope of one ‘Outstanding’ in something.
A perfectly composed set of parchment containing all the notes one could possibly need.
He was in all sense, a savior to the lazy.
The Supplier, also offered a number of other things, but extremely selected rumor had it that he could be contacted within the History of Magic class. He might come in handy at sometime, James thought, so he was here to make a deal.
The small scattering of students looked nondescript. He might have made a mistake, but if the supplier wanted to remain anonymous then it was somewhat obvious that he wouldn’t want to stand out.
It had cost James a chunk of his savings but it was worth it. He’d passed History of Magic with an E thanks to the supplier and that was good enough.
Sirius, Remus and Peter were all shocked to learn that he would be continuing it this year. They’d already disagreed against it. Who would want to spend time being tortured when it wasn’t even a requirement?
True that this would be a free period for him and the others, and a good opportunity to spend more time together, but it was also a chance to have some alone time. He loved the Marauders like brothers, more than brothers, but sometimes their conflicting thoughts and opinions caused him more harm than good. And sometimes a moment to oneself to simply breathe is always an important thing.
He was using the lull in the classroom to let his to let his mind wander. The class had just begun and he was already finding himself light years away from what was going on in it. He felt a strange tingling running through his head, like a buzzing, for the whole week; much like the week last month when he was inexplicably tired, but slightly different.
He wasn’t tired, per se, but drowsy. A dull pain kept hammering at the back of his head relentlessly and he felt as if he was forgetting something. His chin slipped from the palm of his hand when his eyes began to close, causing his glasses to hang precariously from his nose.
Sighing, he pushed them back up with his knuckles. He was absolutely positive something was wrong with him. Sunday he’d woken up in a daze. Sirius had told him that they found him sitting outside the portrait hole completely knocked out. But he didn’t have an explanation to give them. He’d like one himself since he couldn’t recall anything.
He couldn’t remember anything after serving detention with Monte, who speaking of which, just walked in late and pulled up the chair that was in front of him.
James narrowed his eyes in what he hoped was a menacing look. “Don’t sit here.”
Monte barely raised a brow at his unconcerned tone and proceeded to wipe down the chair with a napkin. Had he the energy, James would have laughed at his prissy behavior, but he didn’t, so he couldn’t.
“I’m serious,” he opted to say instead.
“And good morning to you too, Potter.”
James glared liquid fire at the back of Monte’s head but it seemed more like a natural reaction since he’d been doing it for so long. Truth be told, there wasn’t quite the feeling of irritation that was associated with Monte’s presence, and it wasn’t just because of the sleepiness.
Or was it?
“Why’d you sit so close to me?” James asked.
“Well, I don’t associate with anyone here and because they are sitting so oddly- it came down to either being close to them, or close to you.”
“So you chose me?” James asked with wry amusement.
“The lesser of two evils I suppose.”
James refused to let the small smile that threatened to cross his face through. “I suppose.”
He sighed quietly. Why was he being so polite? He really didn’t want to since he suspected that Monte had something to do with him being left outside the common room. After all, Monte was the last person he could remember being with Saturday and he didn’t trust him as far as he could throw him.
Before he even realized what he was doing, he was tilting his head, trying to get a better view of the boy’s profile.
Monte sat leaning over his desk, and judging by his appearance and from what James could make out, he was listening raptly to Binns’ babble, his brows drawn together in concentration.
Something tugged ay James’ attention, a sort of déjà vu at the engrossed expression on his face.
“Hmpf.” James turned his gaze out the window. The clouds were drawn tightly together completely covering the sky and the October wind rattled against the windows. He could imagine the chill out there and he tried to. A biting cold that would sober him up immediately and knock some sense into him.
What the hell was he doing staring at Monte anyway? He must be losing his mind. At least he could admit that he was going barmy, but knowing that didn’t ease the sense of restlessness.
An impatient groan pulled him from his thoughts.
Monte leaned back; his head resting on James’ desk, his arms falling limply at his side, and examined the ceiling as if it was a particularly interesting piece of art. Such familiarity, blatant regard for James’ personally space! And yet he couldn’t bring himself to feel annoyed by it. He certainly wasn’t glad to get a better view of the boy’s face. Not at all.
“Wouldn’t have pegged you for the History of Magic type though, but you know, it kinda matches your personality,” James stated conversationally, looking forward, doing his best not to look at the face in front of him.
“Why is that?” Monte asked.
“ You’re both dull and uninteresting.”
Monte let out a short amused laugh. “Many people don’t realize it, but History of Magic can be a very useful class.”
I made him laugh…
“I agree. It’s very soothing and it also helps with constipation,” said James with a wide grin.
“Yes. Actually when I have trouble sleeping, this helps. It really sets the mind at ease.”
Was he actually having a normal conversation with Monte? One that didn’t cause him to want to throw something?
Yes, impossible as it may sound.
But how much of it was being brought about by the numbness in his brain? Having run out of places to look and growing incredibly tired of staring through Professor Binns, James’ eyes eventually started to close.
“I’m so s-sleepy…” he yawned.
“Binns has a really unique voice. It’s like a cross between a really annoying buzzing sound and an equally annoying high pitched sound that’s so high it hurts your brain without it having to be too loud.”
James snorted, his eyes growing ever closer. Did Monte just make me laugh? No. Impossible. It was just a slip.
Just as he was about to successfully enter the realm of sleep, the clouds decided to part to allow a slant of sunlight inside, which by some crazy impulse, shined directly on Monte’s face. On their own accord, James’ eyes widened, his hand slipped from beneath his chin.
Okay, so maybe he was a bit tired, and maybe just maybe, his mind may have been deceiving him because he’d skipped breakfast in his hurry to not be late, but that didn’t explain what he was seeing or rather staring deliberately at.
That single ray of light was doing unthinkable damage to him.
It shined in the boy’s half- lidded eyes that were usually hidden behind long lashes, bringing their color to life. A cool greenish blue with little specs of gold closer to his pupil. They stood out even more against his pale face and the backdrop of inexplicably silky black hair that fanned out across James’ desk.
He was staring wasn’t he? He was really making effort to look down into Monte’s eyes wasn’t he? He knew because the eyes he was finding himself getting lost in were staring back. Was Monte always this… pretty?
Look away… Look away…
“What,” Monte demanded softly. James’ mouth opened and closed and did the motion of speaking but no words came out.
He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat, his fingers twitched at the sight of the light being reflected off the boy’s hair. It looked so soft, and he was assaulted by the unspeakable urge to touch it and let it roll over his fingers like… Like what? Like who? His brain tingled at the thought, something was forcing its way to the forefront of all his thoughts.
Not even the coldness of his voice could shake him, he just found himself watching the movement of the lips as they formed his name and remained parted.
Painful seconds passed.
There was no way he would be able to talk himself out of it at this rate.
Why was he-?
At first, he thought that the tapping noises were inside of his head; the little man called reality trying desperately to pull him from the clutches of darkness that he was heading towards, but he soon realized that it was not. A small grey owl carrying a piece of parchment was perched on the window.
“Isn’t that your owl?” James cut in, breaking the trance and missing the small flurry the disappointment on the other’s face.
“Oh.” Monte sat up just as James had looked back to him and got up to receive the message his owl had brought. He sent it off without even a second glance and sat back down, a white envelope held between his fingers.
It occurred to James to simply ask what it was, but he quickly buried that idea since Monte placed it in front of himself and stared at it blankly. He had no right. And not like Monte would answer him anyway.
So, James returned his chin to his palm.
He allowed his eyes to wonder over the tense shoulders in front of him, the movement of hair as it swept over them whenever the head moved.
He then buried his face in his hands. What in Merlin’s name was happening to him?
If there was ever a day that Gabriel wanted something more substantial than sweets in his stomach, it was today. He didn’t know if he would hold up unless he ate something filling to steady himself, but his stomach was rejecting the two sandwiches in front of him without even allowing him a bite. He felt sick at the thought of the envelope which he had neatly folded and pocketed, being so close to his skin. It might as well have been on fire.
After History of Magic, he’d hurried to the Great Hall for lunch and the prospect of spending a little time in Severus’ company. He never liked to be alone when he read these sort of things.
If among others, there was always the likelihood that whatever the reaction it would be limited, but if he was alone, there was nothing there to cushion the blow.
Severus raised a lazy brow at his rare presence, which only prompted a small smile to tug at the corners of his lips. It was good to see that some things never changed, especially one of the few things that he allowed himself to form an attachment to.
Severus, was undoubtedly, one of them.
What good were bonds with others that all lacked the same thing? Certainty. He knew the answer well. They could only lead to trouble, which explained why a simply envelope was causing him so much angst.
After several minutes of staring at it fiercely, he realized sadly that would not burst into flames so he might as well read it. He breathed in deeply, mentally preparing himself for its contents and opened it. Severus instantly had something more pressing on his right to look at.
Gabriel’s heart squeezed at the action, and then he read.
They- his servants- had sent him a formal and impartial letter, informing him that Artemis was bed- ridden with a slight cold. They stated that it was in his best interest to know the man’s well- being and that there was nothing to worry about.
He stared at the words without blinking until they became blurry and out of focus. They wrote to him to tell him that Artemis had caught a cold? If it was something as simple as that, why would they need him to know? Don’t people know that when they say not to worry it’s an invitation for worry to set in!
His hands tightened around the paper causing it to wrinkle and he glared at it even more. It would surely burn now. He wasn’t stupid; they could at least give him some credit.
Did they think he was a child? With all the effort and strength in his body, he managed to calmly fold the paper and put it away without showing any sort of revealing expression.
“Is everything alright?” Severus asked, still unsure of the situation so avoiding eye contact.
Gabriel heaved a dramatic sigh. “Fan mail, Severus, not that you would understand.”
A sideways glance let him catch an amused smirk on Severus’ face. Gabriel took a swig of his juice and let his eyes wander around. A stifled gasp got stuck and sent the juice spraying out of his mouth in a fine mist.
He thumped his chest and tried to regain some of his dignity while obviously looking like he was choking on something as simple as juice.
He looked back up to what had caused it. Potter was over at the Gryffindor table. Staring directly at him. Gabriel blinked. He stared back and eventually James shot him a nasty look before looking off.
It reminded Gabriel of earlier in class when Potter was staring at him then as well. He’d forgotten about it in the midst of the ‘letter’.
It didn’t sound right calling it a letter. Clipped and to the point, it was anything but personal.
More pressing matter’s though, why in Merlin’s name was Potter staring at him like that?
Why did he look like at him like that back in class and just now?
Gabriel took another sip of his juice, more to give himself something to do rather than because he was thirsty. He pulled at his collar. It was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable around his neck.
Was Potter really staring at him though, or did he mistake one of his familiar glares for something else? But he wasn’t glaring at him before, that, he knew for a fact. He cleared his throat.
It didn’t matter what Potter was thinking, he had more important things to worry about.
Thinking about it caused a dark cloud to hover above him, only when he looked up, it wasn’t a cloud, but a shadow.
“What have you done to me?” James was glowering over him, his hands balled into fists at his sides.
“I beg your pardon?” Gabriel didn’t even see when he had moved. Potter didn’t shout, but the low hiss of his voice made him seem angrier.
James drew in a breath. “I want to know what you did to me.”
Knowing him for as long as he did, Gabriel knew that he was thoroughly upset; his eyes were raging behind his glasses.
“I really don’t know what you’re getting at.”
James slammed his fists on the table making the plates and cups tremble. Several pointed glares were thrown his way including the not so secretive one coming from Severus. If it was possible, smoke might have coming from his ears.
“Don’t give me that shit. How do you explain Saturday? All of a sudden I just wake up in front of the portrait hole without knowing how I got there. I can’t even remember what happened-”
Potter was fast approaching a subject that he didn’t care to discuss in front of current company so he silenced him with a vicious scowl. “Obviously you’re spouting nonsense as usual but shall we take this somewhere else before you cause a scene,” he covered smoothly, casting Severus a secretive glance. He looked like he was trying to accept and deny something at the same time, his face showed his confusion, but it quickly reverted to a glare when James saluted him with a teasing smirk. “Snivellus.”
Gabriel walked out of the hall briskly and hoped Potter followed. He was so reckless! Saying such things out of the blue like that. But why the outburst now and not before?
As soon as they were out of earshot James spun him around harshly, not wasting any time.
“Well,” he demanded, folding his arms across his chest. His face was tuning pink and he was huffing rather than breathing.
“Well what? I already told you that I didn’t do anything.”
“Stop lying to me!”
Gabriel was silenced by the callousness of his voice. He opened his mouth to speak but decided not to. He wondered how much Potter knew, if he did indeed know something- or if he was just fishing around for answers.
James ran his hands through his hair. “I-I’ve been seeing weird things all day, tell me you didn’t put some spell on me.”
“Weird things…” Gabriel thought about it. There should have been nothing wrong. “Do your eyes hurt, or something?”
“Well, no.” James exhaled noisily. “They don’t… hurt… but I keep… I keep.” He trailed off and slumped his shoulder against the wall.
For the second time in the span of a minute Gabriel could only blink dumbfounded. James’ eyes became weary, but he didn’t break eye contact. There was so much intensity in them that if Gabriel were anyone else, he would have blushed.
If he were Potter, because he was quickly reddening from the neck up.
“I’m going to ask you straight,” James began resolutely, “Did you…”
“Did I what?”
“Did you… bedazzle me?” he blurted out the last part like it burned his tongue.
“Bedazzle?” Gabriel echoed in amusement, folding his lips to hide a smile.
“Don’t laugh,” James said through gritted teeth, keeping his eyes on the floor.
Gabriel didn’t know what to think. Here standing in front of him was James Potter, person he loathed more than life itself, asking if he bedazzled him.
“I don’t understand what Bedazzled means, but I can assure you I didn’t do anything to you along those lines. Whatever you’re seeing is in your head.”
He turned away.
He was telling the truth in a way. Nothing he did should have affected James’ eyes or caused him to see hallucinations , but he did do something to him. And if Potter was aware of that, then something was wrong.
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