Chapter 5 : To Be or Not to Be a Homeless Bum
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“Milla! Focus!” James shouted at me. He was giving me a look from his broom.
I angrily swerved my broom and accelerated toward the ground. I pulled up just before hitting the ground and flew up at an increasing speed. I arrived next to James and smiled at him smugly. He gave me another look.
After practice I showered and dressed and was about to head up to the castle to finish that fucking mile-high pile of work waiting for me but James stopped me.
“Milla, we need a walk. Everything is bleeding stressful right now,” he said.
I nodded. “I know.”
He put his arm around me, absently, out of habit, but I felt it burn. He wasn’t supposed to be doing this anymore. He had a girlfriend now. He could only do it with her. But I kept my mouth shut, my lips a thin line.
I sighed heavily. Time for another lie. “I don’t know. Everything. So much work, and between Quidditch in two days … I’m feeling tense.”
James looked grave. “I know. I’m sorry. But hey, you were fantastic during practice.”
I smiled. “Thanks. It’s going to be a rough two days till the Ravenclaw game is over.”
“We’re going to kick arse.”
I punched him on the arm. “Is that all you think about?”
Yep, that was true.
“Well, you can fail out of school, not find a job, and then marry Quidditch. Good luck having kids,” I said with a grin.
He looked at me affronted. “Please. You love it just as much as I do. And I won’t be marrying it. I’m not that pathetic.”
“Well, I manage to hide it, unlike you.” I poked him in the side and he squirmed. I laughed. I added, “Plus, you’re forgetting that your future wife and I get along well. Mrs. Quidditch Potter. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”
I gave him a teasing smile.
He glared at me. Then a gleam entered his eye and he turned and pushed me onto the ground. He began to tickle my sides and I squirmed. Damn him! Why did he know where I was ticklish? I hate Ian for telling him!
I began to laugh uncontrollably, my chest heaving from lack of air. My eyes were even starting to tear up from the laughter so I said breathlessly, “James, you need to stop.”
He looked at me wickedly, half over me. “Never.” He restarted his tickling with an increased pace. Ah. Fuck him!
After a few more minutes, tears were streaming out of my eyes, my voice begging mirthfully for him to stop. “James! Stop it!”
“No.” He grinned at me. I squirmed under his hands.
“We need to –“ laughter “- get back to the castle!”
“No we don’t. That can bloody wait.”
“Yes we do!”
“Fine. Only if you say the magic words?”
“Which are?” I asked wryly.
“James is my best mate and the best Quidditch captain in the world and I love him,” he said triumphantly, tickling my stomach.
I gasped with laughter. “Stop it! Merlin, I’m going to kill Ian.”
“NO! I will not.”
He increased his tickling. “Just say it.”
“I won’t give you the pleasure of that.”
“Fine. I’ll just continue doing this and you’ll never get your work done. Oh, and Char will be mad.”
Ugh, that was true. “Fine.”
“Kay. So say it.”
“Argh! You’re such an arse. But fine. James Potter is my best mate and the best Quidditch captain in the world – stop tickling me or I can’t finish it!” He abated slightly. “Okay, and I love him,” I finished happily, laughing.
James grinned cheekily down at me. He was leaning over me.
“Lucia won’t like this very much,” I said quietly.
He let out a laugh and flipped onto his back, taking me with him. I landed on his chest, and I snuggled into the crook of his arm, like usual.
“I don’t care,” he said at last. “You’re my best mate, and if she can’t take that, that’s too bloody bad.”
I smiled. “Good.”
We just laid in contented silence. You know, I think that’s rare. Most people couldn’t do that. They felt awkward and babbled or left. But with James and I, we often did. It felt right. Maybe it was because we’d known each other so long. Who knew?
After a while, I commented, “By the way, my mum wrote me and she says hi. Merlin, I think she loves you more than me. The way she raves about you is fucking unbelievable.”
James gave an arrogant smirk and said pompously, “Obviously. Everyone does. Tell her I love her too and the only reason I stick around you is so I can see her.”
I smacked him. “Oh, shut up, you bastard.”
Suddenly I gave a yawn. Merlin, I was exhausted. James noticed, and grinned affectionately. “I’m tired too.”
I retorted, “I’m not –“ I yawned again. Fucking yawn gave me away/
He pushed my hair out of my eyes. “Look, we’ll go up to the castle, and you can go straight up to my room. I’ll tell Char that you’re tired and meet you up there.”
I nodded, yawning yet again. Wow I was tired.
He slowly led me back up to the castle, and I leaned against him, feeling oddly cozy with his arm wrapped around me. As we entered the common room, Char saw us and smiled tenderly. I yawned and pointed up at the boys’ dorm. Char nodded with a smile.
I looked up at James and said, “Char gets it. I told her.”
He looked at me with an odd look. “You told her?”
I swatted him. “I told her with a yawn and pointing. Got it? Okay let’s go up.”
He nodded and pulled me up the stairs, holding my hand.
Once in his room he shared with Ben and Luke he rummaged through his drawers and threw me a big tee-shirt of his to wear. I smiled gratefully and went into his bathroom (ew, but I was too tired to complain about its decrepit state) and changed. I used the toothbrush I kept up here for times like this, and went back into the room, shoving my clothes on the ground next to his bed.
I got into his bed and watched James lazily as he changed. He pulled on some pajama bottoms and plopped down next to me. He pulled my head onto his chest, and I snuggled against him. His arm was draped over my body and I felt ready for sleep.
“Night, Milla,” he said, his voice rumbling through his chest. I murmured in assent and smiled as he toyed with my hair.
That’s the last thing I remembered before drifting off to sleep, sleeping well for the first time in days.
The next day in class it was back to normal. Lucia had her grimy claws in James and was flirting nonstop. I felt like throttling the bint right then and there.
I was getting increasingly annoyed. At least I was well-rested.
Oh, I forgot to mention it was DADA and Lucia was twirling her wand, simpering, and staring at James coyly. Char put a hand on mine and squeezed it.
Honestly, if it weren’t for her I’d die. And Miranda.
Finally class was dismissed and I was near murdering the girl. Fucking Lucia. Why did she have to come and ruin everything? Now I was pissed with James again.
Shit. Now I had a free period and James would want to spend it together. Fuck.
“Milla, time for free period,” said James as he meandered up to me.
Suddenly I felt irate. I looked menacingly at Lucia and said in a tight voice, “Why don’t you spend it with your girlfriend?”
James looked surprised and started, “But you and I always –“
“You and I nothing. Your girlfriend’s waiting and I need … I need to talk to Miranda,” I finished triumphantly. I turned and stalked away, grabbing Miranda by the arm and dragging her out.
Once we were a safe distance away, I started to vent. “Bloody bitch, ugh! He’s such a git. What does he SEE in her? I just don’t get it!”
Miranda patted my back reassuringly. “I know. Let’s kill her.”
I grinned. “Let’s. Okay, I’m hungry. Let’s sneak down to the kitchens for a snack.”
In the common room later that day, I overheard Charlotte and Luke talking in hushed voices.
“She’s bloody upset about this. How could he do this to her?” Char was saying.
Luke nodded grimly at his twin. “I know. It’s unfair and fucking unbearable.”
“I just don’t understand what he sees in her.”
“I don’t know either. I’ve tried talking him round, but he’s so stubborn and doesn’t get what Ben and I are saying about Lucia.”
Oh. They were discussing me and the whole Lucia situation. Well, this was interesting. I leaned closer to hear better.
“Well, he’d better come to his senses. It’s driving me up the wall,” Char said angrily.
They sat in silence, mulling over their thoughts.
Well, this was getting boring. They’d better restart talking about how much James is pissing me off. It made me feel better. It meant that I wasn’t alone in my irritation or thinking James had gone bonkers.
Char suddenly piped up, “I hope James comes round soon. Milla is hurt.”
Luke nodded, quiet. “He’s got to realize, sooner or later.”
Realize what? What did James have to realize??
All of a sudden, I butted into their conversation. “Realize what?”
Char flushed a little. “You were listening?”
I disregarded her statement. “Realize what!?”
Luke rolled his eyes. “That he’s being a tosser and his best friend misses him.”
I’m not that transparent, am I? Urgh, I was so pathetic.
I picked at a loose thread on the couch. “It’s just, I don’t know. Her with him, and James is amping up the pressure for Quidditch, and all this school shit. It’s just pushing me over the edge.”
Char nodded. “Me too.”
Luke glared at Charlotte. “Can’t believe you made me take all these stupid NEWT classes. I was happy with only three classes!”
Char glared back. “I don’t want you to end up a homeless creep on the street, as much as that would amuse me.”
Luke harrumphed in response. “What if I want to be a homeless loser?”
Char rolled her eyes. “God, you’re so stupid.”
“Caroline agrees with me!”
A whack in the face for that comment. “Ouch!” cried Luke. Another whack. Hahaha, Char was bloody strong for a girl.
“I’m writing Mum about your idiotic behavior!” said Charlotte tetchily.
Luke pushed her. “Dad will back me up.”
Char rolled her eyes again. “No he won’t!”
“ENOUGH!” I cried. I had a restraining arm on the both of them, and they both glared at me, miffed that I had interrupted their fight. Oh, for fuck’s sake.
Twins were ruddy impossible. Why did I put up with them?
Moreover, why the fuck did I get stuck with them? Why, God, why?
I had the worst luck ever.
Oh shit, Char looked ready to pounce, so I threw my body on her, my weight restraining her. Merlin, the things I had to do to keep everyone alive. Luke, being wise (in rare moments like these), hurried off. Char growled menacingly. I got off her quickly.
“Char!” I reproached angrily.
“Milla!” she mimicked. “Why didn’t you let me have at him?”
“Because you’d kill him!”
She crossed her arms. She knew I was right.
“Char, calm down. I need to talk to you anyways.”
“Oh, okay. Let’s get it over with.”
“Alohomora,” I muttered. A door swung open and a Third Year couple came scurrying out, guilt written all over their faces.
Ben said lazily, “Burbrooke, Mulberry, thirty points from Hufflepuff.”
We continued on our way along the corridor, busting couples during a late night snog.
It was quite fun.
“So, what was with you, Char and Luke earlier?” asked Ben earnestly.
I rolled my eyes. “Well, they bitched about Lucia sodding Thomas and then they broke out into a row which I had to stop, of course.”
Ben laughed appreciatively. “What stupid idiots.”
“I know,” I grinned. “But they’re twins. What can you expect?”
“True,” he acceded.
“So, how was our dear couple today?” I said in false saccharine tones.
“They were flirting as if their lives depended on it.”
I grimaced. So did Ben.
Ben glanced down at me as we strolled. “So you hate it as much as I do?”
I gave him a look. “Obviously. Probably more than you.”
He laughed. “I’m sure. It’s driving me up the bloody wall. If I have to see them snogging once more in public I may have to jump off a cliff.”
My jaw dropped. “They were snogging IN PUBLIC?”
He nodded grimly. “Unfortunately. I shouted ‘my eyes’ while they did it. I reckon they were about to shag, the way Lucia was throwing herself at him.”
I mimed gagging. “Ugh. Ew. That’s gross. Oi, we need a name for her.”
He smirked. “HRH?”
What the fuck? “What?’
He looked smugly at me. “Her Royal Heinousness.”
A grin spread across my face. “I love it. I’ll have to tell Miranda and Char.”
Luke smiled. “Char and I came up with it.”
I laughed. “I love her.”
“And you,” I added, giving him a hug. He was a sweetie.
He ran a hand through his blond hair and said, “So Charlotte told me about you and James last night?”
I sighed. “Yeah, we had fun and I ended up falling asleep with him.”
He grinned. “Like usual?”
I nodded. “Then this…dating shit pisses me off and I can barely be around him. But I have to act normally around him, so I just suck it up.”
He made a face. “That blows. I make snide comments.”
I smiled up at him. “Thanks. So does Luke. I don’t know why, but I can’t say anything about this. I guess because I’m a girl and I would look jealous. I don’t want to come across like that since I don’t fancy James, obviously. I mean, it’s James. The boy I’ve seen in nappies.” I made a face.
Luke laughed. “Exactly. But hopefully through a combined effort, we can end this horror that he calls a relationship?”
I put a hand on his arm. “Please. Let’s. I can’t stand her.”
We had finally arrived at the Gryffindor common room. James was sitting on a couch, staring into the fire dancing in the hearth. Fuck. Ben and I exchanged a look.
As the portrait opened, James looked up and a tentative smile broke out on his face as he saw us. I didn’t return the smile. James hesitated a moment, and then said, “How was patrol?”
“It was good,” I said shortly. Ben stayed behind me, a hand resting supportively on my back.
“Yeah,” echoed Ben, with a significant look at James.
James started, “Milla, I –“
“Don’t, James,” I cut him off with an edge in my tone that silenced him. “I’m going to bed.”
I turned, squeezed Ben’s hand and kissed him on the cheek, and said with a smile, “Goodnight. Thanks for everything.”
I looked searchingly at James for a moment, and then said flatly, “Night.”
Without a backwards glance, I went up the girls’ staircase.
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