The bit in italics in the beginning is just the end of Chapter 2. I included it just to refresh people’s memories about the end of that chapter :)
And thank you SO much to the incredible reviews I've gotten so far. Honestly, it means the world!
“Hey, Colby, Anna,” he greeted. “Fancy meeting you two here.”
Alice James - Rachel McAdams
Colby Sawyer - Rebecca Romijn
Siriue Black - Kevin Flamme
James Potter - Gaspard Ulliel
Remus Lupin - Hugh Dancy
Peter Pettigrew - James Marsden
Lily Evans - Isla Fisher
I turned around to face the gorgeousness that was Sirius Black, flanked by James Potter, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.
Oh, Merlin, I thought, unable to keep from gaping, I should go to the grocery store more often.
James elbowed Sirius in the gut, the latter of whom cuffed the former playfully on the side of the head. “What was that for?” asked Sirius indignantly, scowling good-naturedly at his best friend and massaging his stomach.
“It’s Alice, not Anna, you prat,” James chastised, squishing up his face as he gingerly rubbed the place of impact. He indicated me with a nod of his head when Sirius frowned, mystified.
Sirius’ face was a mask when he turned to face me. “Oh,” he started apologetically. “Sorry.”
“It’s-er-fine... don’t worry about it...” I mumbled, trailing off. I felt the colour rise hot and bright in my cheeks, despite the fact that he
, Sirius, should be the one who was embarrassed and not vice versa.
“So are you here for the summer, too?” Colby asked, breaking the awkward silence. Though she addressed the question to the whole group, she was looking fixedly at Sirius who reciprocated the stare with a look of supremely blatant interest. I, of all people, knew the weight of that stare – Colby was zeroing in on a new target, a new target in the form of Sirius Black, and he was not backing down.
Peter nodded enthusiastically. “Uh huh, James’ parents have a place on the strip.”
“Oooh!” Colby squealed. “Us too! My parents, I mean. We’ve had a beach house here for ages.”
The four of them – meaning James, Sirius, Peter and Colby – continued the exchange of pleasantries, while I looked on awkwardly. I took a few moments to realize that the fourth member of their party, quiet Remus Lupin, hadn’t spoken a word and was examining a carton of chocolate milk with apparent interest. I decided to take the opportunity to study him.
Though I’d never really spoken to him, he was a Marauder so I did see a lot of him around school – enough, at least, to notice that he was looking unusually dapper. His sandy blonde hair was combed neatly to the side - a stark contrast to James’ perpetually mess of raven black hair – and his eyes were bright and alive with interest. No shadows darkened his features and a slight grin turned up the corner of his mouth.
Suddenly, I realized Remus had abandoned the chocolate milk and was watching me curiously as I studied him.
“Er, hi,” I muttered awkwardly, realizing the situation called for some sort of speech. I felt my stomach clench with anxiety and I bit down hard on my lower lip.
“Hi,” he replied, bemused.
My eyes darted everywhere but him. “How are you?” I asked, unable to find other coherent words.
“Fine, thank you. And yourself?”
I bobbed my head, unsure of what else to say. Luckily, Remus seized the reigns of the conversation. “Are you enjoying Breton?”
“We haven’t actually been here for long. We just got here this morning. So I haven’t really looked around. As we haven’t been here, er, long.” I felt the blood in my cheeks surge to an impossibly dark shade of red as I blabbed. Social interaction, especially with boys with wide mocha eyes half-hidden behind hair that fell perfectly across their forehead – or any specimen of the male variety, really – was not my forte.
Remus, ever the gentleman, didn’t poke fun at my ineptitude. “You should check out the fair at the pier, then,” he said kindly. “It’s based on typical Muggle ones.”
“I will,” I replied bracingly, nodding my head like an idiot. I made a conscious effort to stop my insane bobble-head-like behaviour. It required altogether too much effort for something so simple. “Thanks,” I added for good measure.
He smiled amiably. “It’s my pleasure.”
Once my stimulating conversation with Remus ended, I turned my attention to the other members of our little circle. James, with his glasses characteristically askew on his nose; Peter, with his watery blue eyes full of excitement; and Sirius, his long dark hair a startling but pleasing contrast to his fair skin. I studied Sirius longer than the other boys – there was something about him that captured the eye and I knew without further analysis why the girls at school swooned over tall, gorgeous Sirius Black.
“Alice!” Colby’s dulcet voice invaded my mind. I realized everyone was staring at me, so I fixed my eyes on the only reassuring part of the scene – the peeling linoleum floor, scuffed from hundreds of shoes that had trampled over its surface.
Merlin, stop me now. My incredible wit may kill someone.
“I’ve asked you, like, fifty times. Are you ready to go?”
“Yeah,” I managed through clamped teeth. I figure the only way I’d prevent further embarrassment was if I resorted to monosyllabic responses, though with my luck my “yeah” would likely be interpreted in some ridiculous way like “Please, won’t you join me for wine and cheese?”
There are many reasons why I remained on the fringe of social settings, and my tendency to make ridiculous suggestions like having a wine and cheese party was one of them.
I could feel Colby’s eyes on me, questioning, but I didn’t look up. My thoughts were more deadlocked than a stalemate in a game of chess. “Okay, well, I’ll see you later,” she addressed the Marauders who offered a similar sentiment.
“Bye, Alice,” said Remus. I forced myself to look at him and mumble a goodbye of my own before I gladly followed Colby to the till and out of the store, breathing a heavy sigh of relief when the door clanged shut behind me.
“There,” Colby said, smiling and stepping back to admire her handiwork. It was the afternoon following our run-in with the Marauders and she’d just tacked a sheet of parchment to the wall with a simple sticking spell. The title Nameless Anomaly
was emblazoned at the top in a flourish of green ink – for what else do you call a list where girls claim different boys for their own?
So was the difficult life of Colby Sawyer. She’d spent hours agonizing over a title until I’d suggested that though making such lists were characteristic of the female existence, it was a nameless anomaly. She’d mutely agreed and had promptly jotted it down.
I eyed the list apprehensively. “And why are we doing this again? It’s not like any boy you like would go after me, or I’d go after them.” I adopted a practical tone as I spoke, trying to avoid infusing my statements with any emotion.
She rolled her eyes heavenwards and flopped down on her bed, stretching out her perfectly toned body on the purple comforter that was draped over the edges. “Because it’s fun
!” she exclaimed. “There doesn’t have to be a point to everything. And don’t be so down on yourself, you’re more alluring then you think.”
I bit my lip to silence the doubtful comments that threatened to dispute her reasoning. Instead, I mimicked her actions and fell across my bed, albeit less gracefully and onto yellow bedding. “It’s not like I have a long list of people,” I commented into the silence, fiddling with the fraying hem of the old bedspread. “How many boys do I have again? Three? And you, don’t you have, like, thirty-something?”
My friend bristled, turning her head so that it was facing me, and glowered irritably. “You have four, actually, and that’s not my
fault. I gave you three
of them. The only person you actually chose was Remus, and that was after I’d pressed you for, like, an hour.”
Her words were firm and indicated a closure of the subject, so I decided a change in topic was necessary.
“So, tonight?” I prompted, staring up at the white stucco ceiling and longing for the familiarity of my ceiling, plastered in fake stars, or even the midnight blue curtains that draped the beds of the Ravenclaw dormitory at Hogwarts.
“I dunno,” she began hesitantly. “I think Bradley wants downstairs to himself, he’s having some of his gross friends over... maybe we’ll make it an early night.”
“Er, okay,” I agreed, bewildered. I couldn’t remember the last time Colby had decided to have an ‘early night’. Although, I thought, she may just be trying to avoid Bradley’s friends as last time she encountered them they’d leered at her and groped her when Bradley’s back was turned. He, of course, didn’t believe a lick of her accusations when she’d informed him. But that was Bradley, perpetually ignorant.
“How about we go to the beach for a bit?” Colby queried, sitting up and straightening her sunflower yellow sundress. “We can pack dinner and have a picnic by the water.”
I nodded my acquiesce and in less than an hour we were down at the beach, spreading Colby’s fluorescent towels on the trodden sand, the picnic basket at our heads
Colby eyed me disbelievingly as she shimmied out of her clothes to reveal a low cut white bikini and I reclined on the towel, fully clothed. “C’mon, Alice, aren’t you wearing a bathing suit? How do you expect to tan?”
“I don’t,” I replied and reached for my dog eared copy of Anna Karenina
, a Muggle book my mum had loved. I deliberately avoided her penetrating stare and found my place, making a show of flipping through the pages.
She huffed and took her place next to me. “You’re hopeless. When will you realize you’re prettier than you think?” She flicked her sunglasses down from its perch on her forehead.
“If it helps any, I think you’re pretty,” a male voice cut in, surprising both Colby and I. She pushed her sunglasses back on her head and we both sat up. I squinted to make out the face of the silhouette that towered before us and I felt myself blanch when I realized it was Colton.
“Colton!” Colby squealed – she did that a lot – and extended her legs out in front of her, knowing full well how gorgeous her long limbs were. “How are you?”
“Great, thanks. It’s a beautiful day,” he replied, though he was focused on me. “And you, Alice?” He ran a hand through his long brown hair, almost as if he were nervous. I laughed inwardly at the thought as soon as it crossed my mind – no boy was nervous with me. It was silly to think, almost foolish, and I pushed those thoughts away to focus on the situation at present.
“Good,” I squeaked, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu from my stilted conversation with Remus. “And you?”
Colby laughed, a soft tinkling sound that would make any girl jealous. “I already asked him that, hun,” she giggled and made a show of rolling her eyes.
But Colton’s eyes were still fixed on me and he didn’t notice. I found I had to remind myself to breathe as I took in his shirtless, tanned form and blueberry eyes. He swung his arms back to front and I could see the muscles rippling as he did so... lovely, lovely muscles...
“Alice, you’re staring.” Colby’s sing-song voice broke my thought process and I flushed a deep red, right to the tips of my ears. I have a disconcerting habit of blushing frequently, I noted with displeasure.
“Oh, sorry,” I mumbled, at a loss for words.
“That’s okay,” he responded and flashed a confident grin. “I was staring, too.” I felt the colour rise even higher in my cheeks and I finally managed to avert my eyes, forcing myself to focus on the incoming tide as it swelled, crested and broke in a mesmerizing cycle.
“That’s, um, fine,” I blurted out, needing to fill the short, awkward - at least for me – silence. Colton’s grin grew even wider and I felt an overwhelming urge to stick my head in the sand like I’d heard ostriches’ do when facing danger.
“I’m glad,” he beamed, and then switched topics. “What are your plans for tonight?”
I busied myself for a moment with the picnic basket, searching for a flask of water to wet my dry lips. It took a moment to realize that Colby was unusually silent and Colton was still waiting for a response.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, slopping water down my front. A thousand obscenities ran through my head as I cursed my inability to function in front of Colton. “Um, nothing, actually.”
Why in Merlin’s name could I not speak a single sentence without saying ‘um’ or ‘er’?
Colton tucked his hands into the pockets of his red swimming trunks. “Great, did you want to come with me to this party down the beach, then? You too of course, Colby.”
I don’t know if it was the idea of being a pity invite or what, but Colby’s voice was hard when she spoke. “No, I don’t think so,” she remarked frostily, leaning back to rest on her elbows and gazing off away from Colton. “Colby said she’d keep me company tonight.”
I wanted to comment that I hadn’t said so in as many words, but the stony expression that donned Colby’s usually cheerful face stunned me into silence. Was she really so petty as to be annoyed that I was the one who got the attention, for once in my life?
I looked slowly from Colby to Colton, who was regarding me with an arched eyebrow as if he was wondering whether or not I’d allow Colby to dictate my life so precisely.
I shrugged sheepishly and took another swig of water, if only to occupy my hands. “Sorry, maybe another time.”
Colton nodded. “Well, if you change your mind I’ll be there,” he commented lightly. “I’d love it if you came.”
I nodded, not knowing what else to do, and he paced off with a small wave. As soon as he was out of earshot, Colby slid back to lie on her towel with a disgusted, “Hmph!”
I regarded her warily. “Uh, Colby?” I started, attempting to assume a cool offhanded tone. “Are you okay?”
She glanced over at me and smiled tightly. “Of course,” she remarked, emitting a false cheerfulness that wasn’t difficult to detect. “Why wouldn’t I be?” I could almost feel her eyes narrowing through her sunglasses so I attempted an indifferent shrug.
“Oh, nothing,” I replied with a vague wave of my hand. “It’s awful hot out, isn’t it?” I attempted a change in subject, hoping to distract Colby from her ill concealed resentment.
“Yeah well it’s the summer, Liss,” she responded tartly, rummaging through her beach bag and withdrawing a magazine. I registered the use of my nickname as a means of patronizing me, but decided to ignore it given the nature of Colby’s capricious temper.
Hours after Colby has packed up and gone back up to the beach house, I was still sitting on the beach. The sun had long since gone down and the wind off of the ocean was chilling, so I’d wrapped my towel around my shoulders and tucked my legs closer to my chest in an attempt to localize my body heat.
I regarded the tumultuous ocean before me with a distracted eye. Clearly, Colby was bitter about Colton’s attention toward me. It was pretty much an accepted principle of being my friend that when boys approached us, their eyes would immediately focus on her and I’d be lucky to get a half-hearted hello. I couldn’t exactly blame them though, because Colby was
stunning. She was tall and willowy, with long strawberry blonde hair that reached the middle of her back. Her celadon green eyes were framed in long dark lashes that complimented her perpetually tan complexion perfectly. Next to her, I was a tall, awkward and pasty abnormality with vivid red hair and altogether too many freckles splashed across the bridge of my nose. Not to mention my drab brown eyes, not even a nice hue but an ugly shade I compared to mud.
My mother, on the other hand, had been somehow beautiful. We shared the same hair and eye colour, as well as bone structure and height, but somehow the combination of imperfect features suited her and she exuded beauty. I, however, was nothing compared to my mother or Colby and I knew it.
My thoughts took a depressing turn as I studied a mental picture of my mother I’d conjured up from what felt like vague memories. Though my mum had died less than two years ago, it felt like an eternity since I’d seen her. Even the memory of her laugh was something I questioned – was it actually her laugh I remembered, or a strange fusion of Julie’s and my own? I couldn’t be sure, and the thought scared me. I didn’t want to forget even the minutest of details about my mum.
“Hey, are you okay?”
I lurched forward, surprised at the noise, and looked toward the source of the noise. The sight of Remus Lupin, clad in a pair of very Muggle shorts and a red t-shirt, greeted my eyes.
“Oh, hey. Yeah, I’m just... tired,” I responded lamely, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. “What are you doing down here?” I silently applauded my new found ability to speak coherently and without any ‘um’s, however stupid my question was. At least I managed a fully formed sentence.
He indicated two bags he held in each hand by holding them slightly aloft. “Just grabbing some supplies.”
“Big night planned?” I enquired hesitantly, still uncertain as to the acceptable boundaries of polite conversation. I shifted my weight nervously and reminded myself to take long, slow breaths so as not to faint or do something similarly ridiculous.
Remus looked decidedly confused. “Yeah, I though Colby told you? James is having a sort of initiation to summer party at his parents’ place. He said he extended the invitation to you two the other day at the grocers and I could have sworn I saw Colby there earlier with a few other girls from the beach...” he trailed off tentatively, clearly realizing he was treading dangerous female grounds.
I sighed long and low, realizing the true reason behind Colby’s apparent ‘early night’. I suddenly became sure that if I were to check on her, there would be a collection of pillows laid out carefully under her comforter to give the appearance she was sleeping. Instead, I knew with resounding clarity she’d purposely neglected to tell me about the party so she wouldn’t have me there to suck the fun out of the party.
“Are you okay?” Remus asked for the second time that night. I smiled forcefully and rolled my shoulders, as if the movement would shrug off the intangible weight that has settled there.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I answered, attempting to adopt a casual lilt. “Though do you mind if I join you? A party sounds great right about now.”
And oh what fun it will be to see the look on Colby’s face was she sees me arrive with Remus Lupin. And then maybe I could find Colton, there would doubtless be some fun in that.
The possibilities were limitless.
If Alice comes off whiny here I do apologize! It does have a reason behind it - with Colby, though she pretends to be supportive, there's always an underlying layer where she's really just humouring Alice. And that makes Alice really doubt herself when she's with her. I wanted to show that at the end with Remus, where she gains some confidence just by not being near Colby, who always seems to be able to degrade Alice's confidence to make herself feel better.