Fabulous image by Camila @ TDA!
Anything But Ordinary - Avril Lavigne
The next morning I woke in Rose’s room. It was early; I could hear the steady rhythm of Rose’s light snores on the other side of the huge canopy bed, and the snuffle-snuffle-puffffffffff
of Cally’s restless breathing from where she was curled up at the bottom of the mattress. I was so accustomed to both sounds that I didn’t need to open my eyes to know that they were both sleeping soundly. of course, to most, Cally would sound as though she was having nightmares, but I knew better. She was just weird.
I opened my eyes. The room was dappled in the pale pre-dawn light filtering in through Rose’s curtains. It made the rosebud wallpaper seem sickly sweet, and cast pretty shadows on her white-washed little-girly furniture, while at the same time making all the punk clothes laying on the floor and the scary posters of rockstars covered in blood on the walls seem all the more creepy. Rose’s room was a paradox, just like her.
I’ve never been one to lay about doing nothing. Careful not to disturb the bed, since Cally is a fairly light sleeper (although I knew Rose was dead to the world, and would be for quite some time), I slid out from under the duvet.
Dressed in one of the many oversized band T-shirts that I kept here for impromptu sleepovers (Sonic Youth this time), plus some furry bed socks and Rose’s least favourite pair of black leggings, I crept over to the dresser, where my iPod had been laid out to charge. I unplugged it, put the headphones on and set it to Avril Lavigne before slipping out onto the landing.
As I padded quietly down the stairs I mouthed along to the song, doing mini head-bangs, probably inflating my hair to the size of a small country. I entered the kitchen, ready to consume my weight in coffee before finding one of Rose’s trashy books to entertain me. I had just reached the counter when an amazing guitar solo came on, and I just had to dance. It was probably about a minute later when I spun around, half-way through a spectacular bout of air-guitaring, to find James Potter leaning on the door frame, watching me with an amused expression.
“Oh. Hi,” I said awkwardly, straightening up and turning down the music.
“Hey,” he replied casually. “What’re you doing up so early.”
“Oh, err, I’ve never really liked lie-ins.”
“Erm… coffee,” I said eloquently, and proceeded to die a slow and painful death internally. I’d meant it as a question. “I mean, I , err, do you want some?”
That was a pretty good save in my opinion, but he still laughed as he nodded.
There was a pause as I clumsily fiddled about with the coffee maker. It was stuck. I pulled with all of my Incredible Hulk strength, but it still wouldn’t come out. Frowning angrily, I tried twisting it, and could feel the plastic almost snap between my fingers. I almost wished it would, but I wasn’t strong enough. At least then I would look suitably macho while failing miserably.
There was a low chuckle from behind me. I could feel James’ gaze on my back like a laser beam, and it didn’t make my assault on the coffee pot any easier.
A few moments passed, and then all of a sudden James was pressed up against my back, his arms reaching around either side of me to easily twist the pot out.
“Shall I just do it?” he muttered into my ear. I, as is to be expected of somebody as socially inept as me, froze, hands resting on the countertop and eyes staring straight ahead. He laughed again (what was so funny!?), and slid over to the sink to fill up the pot.
Having been made unfortunately obsolete in my coffee-providing profession, I took a seat at the island in the middle of the room and set about trying not to look as awkward as I felt.
There were about ten seconds of silence as James sauntered about, looking completely at ease, before it became obvious that he had no idea where the coffee was.
“It’s in with the bleach,” I said, pointing to the little cupboard under the sink. He looked, found the coffee, and turned around to face me with one eyebrow raised. “It’s so Hugo can’t find it, since he gets incredibly hyper if he even thinks
about caffeine. Obviously he’d never be anywhere that contained objects used for cleaning, so it’s a pretty good hiding place.”
“You seem to know all these guys pretty well,” James commented as he measured out the beans.
“Well, me and Rose basically grew up together, so it would have been pretty hard to avoid her entire family. Plus, Hugo and Mummy and Daddy are cool. They’re nice to me.”
He shook his head slightly and finished making the drinks.
“So, Indigo, right?” he said as he sat down opposite me and passed me my mug.
“Yeah. Indigo Dell."
“Sorry, just checking. I’m terrible with names. Cool name, by the way.”
The silence became awkward, so for lack of something better to do (and yes, I do not consider yelling 'TUMBLEWEED' a better thing to do unless I'm with Rose) I sipped my scalding hot coffee, instantly regretting it when I felt the top of my mouth shrivel up and die a painful death. It was somewhere akin to drinking lava mixed with the liquidated sun which had been in an oven on full temperature for several days. In any normal situation I would have screamed, but I suddenly felt cripplingly shy, and I suffered in silence.
“Okay,” said James suddenly, sliding his chair around so that he was sat next to me. “What’re you listening to?”
He twisted one side of the headphones to rest against his ear. I froze.
“It’s, err, Avril Lavigne… I know she’s quite old, but I guess it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure or something.”
I felt even more stupid now, about three years old, stammering about this singer who everyone thought was rubbish. I was sure he was going to be all condescending, but he surprised me by grinning, reaching into the pocket of his jeans and pulling out his wallet, extracting a little piece of blue paper and showing it to me.
“I went to see her farewell tour two years ago. I got so excited I almost made myself sick. I’ve been carrying the ticket ‘round ever since. My family all think I’m insane.”
My face broke out into a genuine smile as I studied the little ticket.
“I was at that concert,” I told him, slightly amazed. “Rose wouldn’t come with me on principle, so I smuggled in my sister, and we stayed until about three in the morning. Our parents were so mad when they found us creeping back in, they grounded me for five months for being a bad influence.”
“My mum came with me, but forgot to leave a note for my dad, so he was totally freaking out when we got back, because he’d had no clue where we were. Mum calmed him down in the end by giving him the T-shirt we’d brought back for him. He laughed in our faces and gave it back, and he’s never worried if I stay out late again.”
I grinned and sipped my drink. James copied me, and I couldn’t help feeling that this socializing thing was easier than I’d thought.
“Oh, sorry about the whole emotional breakdown thing yesterday,” my mouth said suddenly, apparently without consulting my brain first. “Probably not the best welcome home present.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I was pretty close to one myself, to be honest. I’m kind of freaking out about having left school.”
“You’ve left school?”
“Yeah. This was my last year. Now I have to work and everything. Boring, right.”
“So how old are you?”
So he was three years older than me. Great.
“You could drive a car if you wanted to,” I said. Once again, my brain was one step behind as I realised how stupid that sounded. He looked at me weirdly. “I really
want to drive,” I explained with a slightly guilty smile. “Then I'll be able to get out of this stupid town and actually go places. As soon as I’m eighteen I’m going to drop out of school and me and Rose are going to travel.”
“Sounds like a plan,” he said. “I always planned to travel, but I’ve ended up jumping straight into work. I start work at the end of the summer, and I’m moving into my new flat in a week. I don’t have a clue how it happened.”
I shook my head enviously.
“You’re so lucky. I still have loads of school left. I wish I could just work
for a living. Life would be so much simpler.”
“You really are weird,” he said, smiling at me. A lot of people would have taken offence if somebody said that to them. I was flattered.
“I’d rather be anything than ordinary,” I told him.
“What’s so wrong with being ordinary?”
“I just don’t like being a statistic,” I admitted. “I know it’s kind of inevitable, but most of the time I try to be different to anyone else. It just feels good to me, to know that I’m in the minority. Makes me feel… important, I guess. I know it’s stupid.”
“No, that makes sense,” he said, nodding as he sipped his coffee. I drained my cup and moved to fill it up again.
“Caffeine addict,” I said in reply to his incredulous glance. I knew what he was thinking; I mean, my mug was quite big, and his coffee was quite strong (although weak by my standards).
“I’m surprised you can stomach this stuff,” he admitted, echoing my thoughts. “It’s pretty industrial.”
“Pfft, this is as weak as a five year old girl with bunches and no front teeth. My regular coffee is a tattooed body-builder wanted in fifty-three countries. My strong coffee makes Gods eyes water.”
He looked at me incredulously for a moment before laughing once and shaking his head.
“My girlfriend doesn’t even drink tea unless it’s decaffeinated,” he said.
“Yeah, well I’m obviously just way better than her,” I said. For some reason at the mention of the word girlfriend
my stomach had twisted slightly. I felt horribly cliché and uncomfortable, so I ignored it.
He laughed again, and I smiled back. It felt easy.
“So, tell me about you. You’re Rose’s best friend, are you evil like her? I mean, she used to be sweet when she was tiny, but recently she seems to be extremely… can I use the word scathing without sounding stupid?”
“Rose wants everyone to think she’s so tough, but notice that she’s never changed her rosebud wallpaper, and if she sees a baby she goes ‘Ahh
!’ She tries to be mad at the world, but she’s got nothing to be mad about. Trust me, she’s all sugar and smiles on the inside.”
“How about you? Are you secretly, err, ‘all sugar and smiles’?”
“No. I’m black to the core.”
I’m pretty sure I have the most terrifying evil grin in the world. James didn’t seem all that affected by it though, he just smiled back (normally, not evilly) and grabbed my iPod to turn up the volume.
An hour, six cups of coffee and a bowl of coco-pops later, Mummy H, wearing a floral dressing gown and matching slippers, wandered into the kitchen, to find me dancing around the kitchen to Sk8r Boi
while James lay on the lino doing air guitar. She stopped dead in her tracks.
“Hi Mummy!” I said happily, leaping over and kissing her cheek. “Sleep well?”
She blinked and recovered slightly. After fifteen years of knowing me she was used to the mood swings, but they were rarely this extreme; I’d gone from breakdown to bubbly (Me! Bubbly! What is the world coming to?) in less than twelve hours.
“Fine, thanks, honey, you?”
“Not too bad,” I replied, smiling breathlessly and sitting down. Mummy H moved to the counter to make herself some tea.
“I slept great, thanks for asking,” said James after a few moments of silence. I laughed, he grinned, and Mummy watched us with an unfamiliar look in her eye.
Next to appear in the kitchen was Cally, who kept fiddling with her hair and chewing the inside of her mouth. She was fully dressed in neat jeans and a pink T-shirt that was Rose’s from long ago, before her evil stage.
“Cally, this is James. James, this is my sister Cally. I don’t think you really got a chance to meet last night,” I said. Cally won’t introduce herself to people; you have to do it for her. I may be awkward in social situations, but Cally is genuinely disabled.
I must admit, I find that funny.
James smiled at her and gave a small wave. Cally gave a terrified nod and took the seat next to me, shuffling as close as she could. I put an arm around her.
“You okay?” I whispered in her ear. She nodded and I kissed her cheek. Sometimes I feel like I have to be Cally’s mum, since our actual one occasionally forgets. That was one of those times.
Soon the kitchen was almost full. James’ siblings, Albus and Lily, had joined us, and Lily was talking in triple-time at Cally. Notice use of the word at
. Cally wasn’t paying attention, but I could tell she liked Lily. Albus was sat alone, reading a big book with a Russian author, which both impressed and intimidated me at the same time. Hugo was making his cereal float around the room. Ron had been and gone, off to some work thing.
It was almost lunch time when Rose wandered in. By then it was only me and James again. Lily had dragged a terrified Cally into town, Mummy H had gone to see Mum, Hugo and Albus were off to hang about with their respective friends. Rose was in her black, skull emblazoned pyjamas, hair a mess, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. She caught sight of me and James laughing together, and said, straight-faced and expression wondrous, “perfect.”
I didn’t know what she was on about, so I ignored her. That night, after Cally and Rose were out for the count, I laughed myself to sleep, and dreamt of James.
Sometimes I get so weird I even freak myself out,
I laugh myself to sleep cus it’s my lullaby.