Chapter 11 : Maybes
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"Do you know that the dot above an 'i' is called a tittle?"
...And so my day begins.
Don't get me wrong, I liked Hector. I really did. Sure, he was a little on the 'strange' side, but hey, he was drama-free, he didn't borrow my clothes without asking, and most importantly of all, he wasn't currently attempting to court my twin brother. So yeah, he was considered pretty cool in my book.
But honestly, If I hear one more useless fact come out of that kid's pie-hole, I will be forced to take action. Specifically, violent action.
Because I seriously do not care that ingrown toenails are hereditary, or that polar bears are mostly left-handed. I do not care that John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles, or a duck's quack does not echo. I. Do. Not. Care.
Say it with me. I. Do. Not. Care.
"Do you know tha—"
"Hector, seriously. Unless you're face wants to have a friendly little chat with my butter knife, I suggest that you stop talking. Like, now."
Eyes wide, Hector allowed his mouth to clench shut. My ear drums (and the few ounces of sanity that I had left) rejoiced.
The Great Hall that morning was eerily quiet. It was a Wednesday, and, as was custom for the middle of the week, everybody was in a tired, dull mood. The ceiling above was cloudy and dismal, and there was little noise except for the clinking of silverware and the occasional, hushed murmur.
I gingerly pushed my strips of bacon around my plate, and, with the other hand, rubbed my aching temples with two fingers. Last night, Dom had kept me up moaning about how Margaret Corner had grazed Aidan's arm in Potions class today, and even though I had pointed out that it was probably accidental, since Margaret had been in the process of reaching over to grab a quill when this scandalous 'graze' had taken place, Dom had refused to listen. She had said it was a very romantic graze, and there was something behind it. I was a bit confused by this, so I asked her what the difference between a romantic graze and a normal graze was, and she just looked at me like I was stupid and said that it was not the graze itself, but the reaction the male specimen had to it. Apparently, Aidan had not recoiled and leaped off his chair, screaming in horror at the mere thought of being touched by a member of the opposite sex like Dom had expected him to. And according to Dom's twisted, warped way of thinking, this meant that Aidan and Margaret Corner were having a lusty, passionate affair, and currently making regular visits to broom cupboards, if you know what I mean.
Which I don't even get in the first place, because I have never, ever met someone who does...well...it in a broom cupboard. I just can't see how anyone would find it appealing. Unless you're idea of fun is catching Meningitis from a bunch of dusty, hundred year old cleaning supplies as both you're clothes and dignity are stripped from you, than hey, whatever floats you're boat. As for me, I think I'll pass on that one, thanks.
I blinked a couple of times and shook my head, shoving away my tangential thoughts into the corner of my mind for another time. Hector, who was currently sitting next to me at one of the tables, was waving and gesturing frantically with his arms as he called for my attention.
I turned to him and sighed. "Yes, Hector?"
"May I talk now?"
"Well you already are, aren't you?" I said, quirking an eyebrow at him (a skill which, believe it or not, took one whole summer to master).
Hector cocked his head, his giant tuft of Jimmy-Neutron-esque hair swaying slightly with the movement. "I suppose so."
I stifled an eye-roll and did not respond. Hector didn't say anything either, and we fell into an awkward, uneasy silence. I desperately wished that someone would come and break the ice, but alas, Dom was still in the dorm room, sleeping, and the Tweedle Trio were no where to be found.
Finally, after a lot of wracking my brain, I managed to find a few words that I could string together into a coherent sentence. "So Hector, are you excited for Hogsmeade this Saturday?"
"Most definitely." Hector said, nodding profusely. "In fact, I have asked a lovely female friend to accompany me during the trip."
My eyebrows flew up to somewhere near my hair line. Hector? A date? That was...interesting. "Who?"
"Beatrice Goldstein. I've been courting her for a few weeks, actually. She's the head of the Charms Club, and quite fetching, if I can say so myself."
"Ah." I said. Beatrice was the type of person who paid other people so she could do their homework. Hector and her were a match made in nerd heaven. "That's wonderful, Hector. I'm sure you'll have a good time."
"Oh yes, indubitably." Hector said. "I'm going to bring my Murphey McMurphey's Complete Volume of Wizarding Crossword Puzzles though, just in case things get dull."
"Smart." I grinned, shoving the last remaining pieces of bacon into my mouth. "Well, I hate to say it, but I have to go and wake up Dom the Sleeping Beauty. But I'll see you around, Hector."
He nodded, and I swung my legs over the bench and stood up. Just as I was about to walk away though, I heard him turn to the person next to him and utter one, final, "Did you know that..."
I shook my head and smiled, leaving the Great Hall.
"No, no, no. You've got it all wrong. It's a swish, not a wave."
"What's the difference between a swish and a wave?"
"Er... One's more...swishy. And the other's more...wave-like."
I sighed, grabbing hold of Ryan's hand, which was clenched firmly around his wand, and guiding it in the right direction. "See... it's like a short, flicking motion. Just really quick. Swish."
"Swish." He repeated, drawing his perfect eyebrows into each other in an adorably quizzical sort of way. I tried to ignore the warmth of his skin, smooth and flawless underneath my own hands. Merlin. His skin was so soft. Well, of course it was soft. He was perfect. "Swish."
"Yeah. Exactly." I said, letting go—with some difficulty—of his hand. "Swish."
In case you haven't realized it, yet, Ryan and I were having another tutoring session. Another glorious, wonderful, amazing tutoring session. I honestly believe God purposely created the subject of Transfiguration in order to make up for all the bad things in this world. War, poverty, death, my hair... It's all forgiven now.
For today, we decided to use an empty classroom for our session. Usually, we went to the library, but Madam Pince (yes, the librazilla is still here) looks like she's on the verge of an aneurysm whenever we walk in there (this may or may not be because I accidentally knocked down the Biography, A-L bookshelf last Tuesday).
The classroom we were in was wide and spacious, with a tall ceiling, an elegant marble floor, and gaping, arched windows. It had been my idea to push all of the desks and chairs towards the walls of the room, so that we could have a space in the middle to work with. At the moment, I was trying to teach Ryan how to change a quill into a rose. It was one of the more difficult spells, and Ryan just couldn't seem to get the wand movement right.
The windows were open, and I could hear that it was quiet outside, save for the melancholy chirping of a bird or two in the distance. The day had passed by fast, and now it was almost dinner time. Light from the setting sun streamed into the room in orange, gold, and pale pink ribbons, illuminating everything with a warm, rosy glow.
In an act of raw exasperation, I yanked my fingers through my hair, and then quickly withdrew my hand as if I'd been shocked. Ever since Dom's little makeover extravaganza, my tresses were now permanently soft, sleek, and just all around Dominique-ified. I was still surprised when, every time I touched my scalp, I found actual, normal hair, and not the mass of tangles I was used to. It was a bit of a strange sensation, but at least I didn't resemble Frankenstein's bride anymore.
"Okay," I said, trying to keep the edge of frustration from creeping into my voice. "Just try one more time. Swish. Swi—"
Ryan heaved a sigh and sat on nearby desk, shoving his wand into his robe's pocket. "Forget it." He mumbled, dragging his two hands down his (perfect, beautiful, look-directly-at-it-and-you'll-be-blinded-forever) face. "This is hopeless."
"No!" I said, protesting eagerly. "You'll get it eventually. It just takes a lot of practice. And time. You have to be patient, Ryan."
His eyes flickered towards me, a wry smile twisting at his lips. Scooting over, he patted the space by his leg, and I obeyed, sitting down next to him as the rate of my heartbeat seemed to double in speed.
There was a beat where he just looked at me, those soulful blue eyes like...like...a pair of...er, soulful blue things. I fidgeted, slightly uncomfortable with the attention.
"What?" I said, swinging my legs back and forth, unable to keep myself from forming a grin of my own.
He chuckled a rich, deep chuckle. "It's just, you're hair... Looks amazing in the light."
I felt my face flush. "Um, thanks."
There was a long moment of pure silence. I looked towards the ceiling, biting into my lower lip, as—for the second time that day—I desperately searched my mind for something to say.
Finally, Ryan spoke. "Agatha, there's something I've been meaning to tell you."
My heart took a free-fall and landed somewhere near my stomach region.
Could this be it? What I've been waiting, desperately wishing for these past months? Dom had told me it would happen, but I'd always waved it off, telling her not to get my hopes up. But maybe...just maybe... this could be the moment where Ryan sweeps me into his arms and professes his undying, ever-lasting love for me and says that he wouldn't be able to bear another, torturous second without me.
Or, you know, ask me to Hogsmeade. That would work to.
This had to be it. What else could he want to say? He was going to ask me to Hogsmeade, I know it. And then we were going to fall in love and get married and have beautiful, soft-skinned babies together.
Oh Merlin, I hope I look okay. Is there stuff in my teeth? What about my hair? Where should I put my hands? In my pockets? No, that's too casual. In my lap? No, too awkward. Holy cow. Holy cow. WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY HANDS?
"Agatha." Ryan said, taking a deep breath.
I looked at him, swallowing. This was it. This was going to be the beginning of my wonderful, new, Ryan-filled life.
"Yes, Ryan?" I tried to say it in a coquettish sort of voice, batting my eyelashes like I've seen Dom do to thousands of blokes.
Yes! Yessss! Ryan Fisher just asked ME to Hogsmeade! Oh, Merlin. This was wonderful. No, this was more than wonderful. This was like Christmas morning plus my birthday plus a Spice Girls' reunion concert all rolled into one. This was the most amazing, perfect day in the history of amazing, perfect days!
And now, I believe it is time for some good ol' fashioned gloating time:
Ryan Fisher asked me to Hogsmeade! Ryan. Fisher. Asked. Me. To. Hogsmeade! Na na na na na! Me! Not Evilyn, not Dom, not anyone else. Me! He asked me! Ryan Fisher as—
...Wait a second.
WHAT did he just say?
"Agatha?" Ryan was looking at me curiously. He flapped his hand in front of my face, peering into my eyes. "Earth to Agatha?"
No...He couldn't have... He asked me to Hogsmeade! ...Right?
"Um." I croaked. "What did you just say?"
No no no no no no.
This had to be some sort of bad dream. This was a mistake. Ryan Fisher did not just say 'I'm gay'. No...he must have said something else. Like 'I'm sleigh' or "I'm buffet' or 'Agatha Bennett I love you so much, please bear my future children...ay." He couldn't have...have...
This isn't happening. This can't be happening. I'm hallucinating. The lack of sleep must be messing with my brain, or something! There has to be some logical explanation for this...I mean, gay also means 'happy', right? Yeah. He was just trying to express how happy he was. That had to be it. It had to be.
"Ohhh..." I said, realization dawning. "I get it. You're happy! I understand now...! That's so sweet, Ryan. I mean, sure, it's a bit of a weird word choice, but I'm...er...gay too!" Okay, this would be the part where I stop talking. "Yeah, in fact, I'm really gay!" STOP. TALKING. STOP. TALKING. "In fact, you...uh...make me...uh...really...gay, Ryan. I'm having a real, gay time sitting here with you now."
Please. Kill me now.
Ryan's forehead creased together. "No, I didn't mean it like that, Agatha. I meant gay, as in... homosexual."
This is a cruel joke. In a few minutes, Ashton Kutcher is going to pop out behind the door and go all, "Haha, you've just been Punk'd!" And then we'll just laugh it off and go get some tea. Me, Ryan, and Ashton Kutcher. Drinking tea.
"No..." I said, stupidly. "You're not."
Ryan made a sympathetic face. "Yes, Agatha. I am. And I know it's a lot of information to take in, but... I mean, we're good friends, yeah? And you just seem like the kind of girl who'd be really cool about it. I feel like I can trust you."
HOW IS HE BEING SO FLIPPANT ABOUT THIS? DOES HE NOT REALIZE WHAT A TRAGEDY THIS IS FOR THE FEMALE KIND?
I blinked a couple of times. Inhaled. Exhaled. Tried to remember where my brain was located. Tried to remember what I had done to deserve this. The sixty thousand puppies I had killed in my past life must have been three-legged or blind or something, because this wasn't just any other, run-of-the-mill karmic payback. No. This was something something the Gods of Fate had designed specifically for me.
Ryan sighed, then continued. "I get it. You're surprised. Most people are, when I tell them. But it's not that big of a deal, I promise. I hope this won't affect our friendship, Agatha." He took my hand in his and leaned closer to me. I blinked again. "Because...well, I really like you."
Okay. There should be some sort of limit on the amount of irony one person can take. I mean, even I think this is too much.
"Um," I said, shaking my head. I slipped off the desk, pulling my hand away from Ryan's. "Yes. No. I mean, it won't...you know, affect us." My voice was unnaturally high. "I just...er...need some time to think this through."
Ryan nodded furiously. "Of course."
I started to stumble away, still frowning. How is this possible? How had I not seen this coming?
"Um." I said, turning around. "See you gayter." I stumbled into a random desk, the crashing noise echoing throughout the room as my cheeks blossomed pink. "Shit. I mean, see you later. Not...not... Um. I'm going to... go... Now. Have a good gay. I mean—day! Crap.. I...um..." I bumped into a chair, tripping slightly and regaining my footing in the nick of time. Ryan looked at me, bemused.
"Bye." My idiot brain finally managed. "Okay. Yeah. Bye."
You suck. A lot.
"Does he not realize what a tragedy this is for the female kind?"
"THAT'S WHAT I SAID!"
Dominique Weasley flopped backwards onto my bed, the silky comforter poofing up around her. Her hair billowed out around her head like the explosion of a firework, reaching out in all possible directions, vibrant against her pale skin.
I leaned against the bedpost, wrapping my arms around the wood as I groaned to myself in defeat. Maybe I should just stay here. Never come down. People would call be the Bedpost Girl, and I'd be able to do anything I wanted, to just go about on my bedposting ways until eventually someone called in the Cuckoo Doctors. And even that wouldn't be too bad. A sedative or two, maybe some electro-shock therapy, and I'd be back on my feet in no time...
Dom huffed a sigh, shaking her head. "Somewhere out there, my gob is being smacked. My flabber is being gasted. My flum is being moxed. My—"
"Okay," I said, interrupting her. "That's enough."
"You're right. I pushed that too far."
There was a silence. And then...
"My dumb is being found."
"My thunder is being struck!"
"Dom. Seriously. It's starting to get painful."
She laughed her trademark Dom laugh, complete with snorts and everything. I unwound myself from the bedpost and lay down on the bed next to her, unable to stifle the sigh of relief that had opened like a flower inside my chest. I love mattresses. Even in the worst of situations, you could always rely on them to be there for you. Warm, soft, cuddly...They were like hugs for lonely people.
Dom spoke first.
"I hate men."
"That's a blatant lie, and you know it."
She stretched her leg out, and then lifted it so her big toe grazed the dark green canopy of the bed. "Yeah."
I gave a little, pathetic whimper, inching closer to my best friend. "I wanted to kiss him, Dom. I wanted to kiss him, and I wanted to hold his hand, and I wanted to wear his sweaters and go to his Quidditch games and forget his birthday and..."
My lower lip trembled as I thought of all those opportunities, all those moments that I had spent nights upon nights wishing for. Where would they go, now? Were they like the birthday balloons set free by careless children? Did they just float up and up into the sky, until they were nothing but tiny, little pinpricks, sprinkled across the mass expanse of blue? Or did they belong to someone else now? Were they another girls' daydreams, another boys' maybes?
All that time...
Dom sighed, heaving her body of the bed. She turned around and grabbed my limp arms. "C'mon, you." She said, pulling me to a stand. "Somewhere, downstairs, is a pint of chocolate ice cream with your name on it. Let's go."
I nodded dumbly and followed her out the dorm, mentally preparing myself for a few hours of anti-male ranting, chocolate ice cream, and trying (but failing) to forget about Ryan Fisher and the holes he had created in the sky.
The next day, I was walking to Transfiguration (sob), when all of a sudden, I saw him.
No, not Ryan.
He was leaning against the corridor wall, his shirt untucked, and talking to some Gryffindor bimbo with a bra size bigger than her IQ. She was all giggly and flirty as she reached out, fluttered her eyelashes, and grazed his arm with her dainty figures.
Potter's lips twitched knowingly, and he subconsciously leaned towards the girl, his tall frame towering over her short one.
And for some reason, this made me very, very angry.
I don't know why. Maybe it was because Potter was probably going to end up taking this girl (and five others) to Hogsmeade this Saturday, while I was going to be stuck in the alone library, pathetic and dateless. Or maybe it was because Potter was so friendly, so amiable to this bint, yet he acted like I was the scum under his shoe. Or maybe it was simply because Potter was happy, and I wasn't.
Either way, I was pissed.
Before I could think twice, I marched right up towards the two lovebirds, pushing my way through the crowd of people, until I had stopped directly in front of Potter. My foot rapped incessantly against the ground, a staccato beat that drummed equally as fast as my heart. I placed my hands on my hips and cocked an unimpressed eyebrow. Baditude Pose, activated.
"Potter." I declared in a loud voice that sounded much more confident than I actually was. "Your shirt is untucked."
He tore his eyes away from the girl to look at me. The dancing light in his eyes seemed to freeze over as his mouth set into a thin, straight line. I irritated him.
And I liked it.
The girl shot me a glare worthy of Evilyn, but I refused to even acknowledge her. My eyes were set dead straight on Potter.
"Yes." He drawled. "And the sky is blue. Any other fantastically observant remarks you want to make, or is Captain Obvious done for the day?"
Wow. He was being even more snarky than usual. He must be in a really bad mood.
I should remember to thank whoever had made him so angry.
Then again, it was probably me.
"Oh, actually, I think I have one." I paused, scratching my chin in mock thought. "Hmm...what was it...Oh yeah! Untucking your shirt is against the dresscode, Potter." I said, in a tone so scathing, even I was surprised. "Five points from Gryffindor."
Potter's eyes flashed, his jaw dropping open in outrage. "Are you kidding me? That's a blatant abuse of prefect power!" He looked to the bimbo for confirmation, and she nodded eagerly.
"Hey," I said, smirking victoriously. "I'm just doing my job."
I turned around to go, shooting him a nasty look over my shoulder. But Potter obviously wasn't done just yet. He marched after me, and even though I tried to quicken my pace, his strides were almost twice as long as mine. The bimbo, long forgotten, scowled and scurried away in the opposite direction.
"Fine." He said, not seeming to have noticed that his groupie was gone. "If that's the way you want to play it, then five points from Slytherin."
I gasped, stopped in the middle of the corridor, and wheeled around. Several people jostled past us, hurrying to their classes. "For what?"
His eyes scanned me over slowly, up and down, and I shifted from foot to foot as his gaze traced the lines of my body. His eyes finally rested on my blouse, near my collarbone. I crossed my arms, nervous. He smirked, noticing my discomfort.
"For leaving your shirt's top button unbuttoned."
"I—What? Everyone does that!"
"Hey," He said, throwing his arms up into the air. "I'm just doing my job."
"Okay...well...um... Five points from Gryffindor for lollygagging in the hallway!"
"Five points from Slytherin for using the word 'lollygagging!'"
I gaped. "Wh—You can't...!"
His eyes glinted nastily. "I. Just. Did."
Something inside me snapped, and I started to speak without even meaning to. "Five points from Gryffindor for being an egotistical, selfish, rude, despicable prat!"
"Five points from Slytherin for...having blue eyes!"
"Five points from Gryffindor for not wearing your school robes!"
"Five points from Slytherin for being too short!"
"Five points from Gryffindor for being too tall!"
"Five points from Slytherin for...wearing ugly shoes!"
What? My shoes are not ugly! They're sensible. "Five points from Gryffindor for never brushing your hair!"
"Five points from Slytherin for being left-handed!"
"Five points from Gryffindor for not being left-handed!" We were shouting now, and beginning to attract some attention from the students passing by. Potter's hand was clenched around his wand, his chest rising up and down rapidly. I was red in the face, breathing equally as hard. My head was throbbing with anger, my entire body quaking and shuddering like there was something about to...explode, a ticking bomb inside of my body.
Potter raised his wand and pressed it under my chin, poking the soft flesh there and making me back away half a centimeter.
I pulled my own wand out from my robes' pocket and pointed it directly towards his chest. "I don't think you want to go there, Potter."
I had no idea where this was coming from. All I knew was that I had never felt this way before. I mean, sure, I've been angry. Loads of times, in fact. But not...not...this sort of angry. It was feral. It was overwhelming. It was raging inside of me, pulsing, almost, like a second heart, clouding my vision with red. Before, I had been angry because I wanted to be angry. But now...I was angry because...because...
...Because there was nothing left.
"You don't know what I'm capable of." Potter hissed, his eyes flashing a thousand different shades of green.
"Then show me." I snarled back.
And then all of a sudden, we were shooting hexes at each other. Swirls of jewel-colored lights set the hallway aglow as bystanders cheered us on, placing bets on who would win, who would lose. But they just faded into obscurity, along with the rest of the background. All that mattered to me was speaking the next incantation, performing the next spell. I had to win this. I had to.
Potter and I worked like a machine. Aiming at all the right places, dodging just in the nick of time. Neither of us had been hit, yet. We knew what the other was going to do before they did it, probably a product of knowing (and most importantly, hating) each other for such a long time. We were evenly matched. Potter had his Quidditch reflexes, but I had sheer determination.
And then, something terrible happened.
I watched as my spell bloomed from the tip of my wand and streamed down the corridor. Potter saw it coming, too, and he leaped nimbly out of the way just in time for the jinx to miss him and hit...
Professor Nott, who had been standing, arms crossed, right in the spells' path.
Oh no no no.
My wand clattered to the floor. The corridor turned silent. Even Potter stopped moving.
Nott turned to me, the veins in his forehead throbbing, his teeth already starting to lengthen in size—that was what the spell did, in case you didn't know. It made your teeth grow. Sort of a silly, if you thought about it, but (apparently) very effective.
There was a long pause. The crowd of bystanders dispersed, obviously not wanting to get in trouble. They muttered to themselves as they left, hastening away until it was only be, Potter, and Professor Nott. Alone. In the corridor. With no witnesses present.
Again: Oh no.
"Professor Nott! I can explain!" I finally cried, breaking the silence.
He advanced towards me, fixing me with a steely glare that made my blood freeze over. Despite the complete and utter pants-wettingness of the situation, I was suddenly struck with the absurd idea that Nott resembled a very angry, over-sized chipmunk.
"Office. Now." He said, except, because his teeth were already growing past his chin, it sounded more like "Othifizz, Naww".
And so I did the only thing that I could think to do:
...I am so dead.
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