Chapter 6 : Shifts.
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“So,” James said standing in my doorway looking incredibly awkward. James Potter was never a person that I would have thought of as awkward before this moment – he was overconfident and slightly arrogant by nature and he carried himself in a laid-back manner which I had always considered unbreakable (not that I’d ever attempted to break it). So it was highly unusual to see him without his normal blasé attitude and it completely threw me for a second.
I stared at him for a few seconds on which he shuffled his feet slightly and glanced everywhere but in my general direction.
“Erm... do you want to come in?” I asked fully expecting his standard reply of ‘not really’ or ‘I don’t have a choice, actually Cassie’ or, as in the case of yesterday, him just to walk in without ringing the doorbell. The day before that the second I’d opened the door he’d barged past me – nearly knocking me over – to throw himself down on the comfiest sofa and order an ice cold can of coke.
“Sure,” James said and walked in – even taking the time to wipe his shoes on the mat before walking out into the hallway. Wow.
Suddenly I had this vision of James being polite and courteous to me forever more... holding doors open for me at Hogwarts and offering to chop up the particularly nasty things up so that I didn’t have to touch them in potions – where we would undoubtedly be partners again. The image was so comical that I shook my head at my own madness and internally scalded myself for being stupid.
“Your insanity isn’t infectious, is it?” James asked in a half-hearted tone which sent my eyebrows shooting up my forehead to join my hairline. For once, I’d actually offered him material to use and he’d barely even registered it... sure he’d commented, but usually when I actually did something he’d highlight the point to the extent that even I was beginning to believe that I was actually completely insane.
“Erm...no.” I said unsurely. “Do you... do you want a drink?” I asked him standing awkwardly in the corridor. I found myself wishing that he was back to his normal self because the whole situation was even more uncomfortable than it had ever been before.
“Please,” James said.
“Right.” I said. I took in this weird foreign James for another second before walking towards the kitchen with the sudden urge to barricade myself in my room and hide. What was wrong with him? Why wasn’t he being a jerk? I honestly could not understand.
I supposed that I had sort of helped him out yesterday in the shop. Ryan had engaged in a fifteen-minute-long conversation which basically revolved around how crazy I was. I’d done my part – on James’s request – and had pretended to be entirely odd. Apparently that sort of thing is Ryan’s drug because he was lapping it up and kept prodding me for more things to take the piss out of before I’d eventually got fed up and said “Oh, I’m sure James would love to go for coffee with you, or something, while I try and find something affordable. This shop’s awfully expensive – don’t you think?” which had mollified Ryan given that we were in the row entitled ‘bargain city!’ and served two purposes: getting rid of Ryan and getting rid of James.
“Well then – isn’t that lovely!” I’d declared before disappearing off to pay for the furniture and visiting my favourite antique shop.
I’d expected him to go back to his usually arsey ways without even making a comment about the great favour I was doing on his behalf, or maybe making an elusive comment which implied I was utterly mad – which I was, given I had actually helped him. Really I should have lowered the standard of my language and told James to stop being a tosser even though it would have humiliated him beyond words.
I grabbed the coke that was sat by the side of the drinks-fridge that hadn’t quite fit, and an ice cold one for James. The day before last he’d repeatedly sent me back to fetch him another coke because his wasn’t cold enough...
I shook my head and headed back into the corridor where he was milling around looking at the carpet. I cleared my throat. He seemed too engrossed in thoughts to hear it.
“Well, shall we go into the sitting room?” I asked. James, who looked up suddenly and appeared shocked that I was there, nodded. We walked into the room in single file and sat down in an odd silence which hung in the air heavily. I’d never been in such an awkward silence, and I was sure James had never been silent for so long.
“Your coke,” I said, about to pass him the can from the fridge when I suddenly changed my mind. He took the semi-cool can without complaint and had drunk almost half the can by the time anyone spoke again.
“What are we doing today?” He finally asked – just before I was about to explode and say something stupid.
“Wallpapering and painting and stuff – I ordered some the other week. I haven’t really decided about what’s going where or whatever, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve brought carpets, and wallpapers, and curtains, and paint and...” I stopped when I realised how much I was rambling and blushed profusely. I damned my burning red cheeks and stared at the floor until I felt the cheeks leave my gaze.
“Why,” James began looking at me curiously. “Do you blush so much?”
“I don’t know, I just do.” I retorted sharply and James raised an eyebrow at me.
“It’s just a question.” He said holding a hand up as if to tell me not to react quite so much.
“And that was just my answer.”
“I only -”
“Leave it, Potter.”
“What’s up with you, Jones? PMSing?”
“I don’t like awkwardness.” I said my voice returning to its normal calm now we were no longer sat in silence.
“And why is this awkward, Cassie?” James asked, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees so he could look at me mockingly.
“Because,” I said calmly, “You were being weird.”
“I think,” James said tilting his head seriously. “It was because you gave me the wrong coke.”
Thank Merlin for the return of normality.
“Cassie?” James asked from halfway up a ladder as he lined up the wallpaper to the top corner of the wall.
“Mhmm?” I asked tilting my head to make sure that the wallpaper was straight. My decorating style had been pushed out slightly by James’s love of the wallpapers with texture which James claimed gave the room ‘depth.’ This particular wall paper was a ‘fresh’ light green that was to be teemed with cream walls and green features – whatever features were – and I had to admit that James had outdone himself. It wasn’t as awful as I expected and it definitely worked as a ‘working room’.
“Do you..?” James began. The wallpaper slipped from his hand and he made a sudden lunge to catch it before it slipped.
“That’s not straight.”
“Yes it is,”
“You’re definitely crazy; this is straighter than Amy Jessops hair,”
“It’s wonkier than Albus Dumbledore.”
“You’re crazier than Gilderoy Lockhart.”
“You’re crazier than the Lovegoods.”
“You’re crazier than a happy dementour.”
“Crazier than a pleasant blast ended screwt.”
“Crazier than the fact that your Dad is Robert Banks.” James said, turning to look at me. “Although, now that I know I suppose I can see the resemblance – you have his eyes.”
I blushed furiously and glanced at the floor. Did he have to keep saying things that made me blush? Although there wasn’t much that didn’t make me blush these days.... was my blushing problem getting worse? Maybe it was the extreme presence of James that was causing all this extra blushing. It wasn’t particularly helpful.
“Why do you blush so much?”
“It’s not intentional.” I sighed as we began sticking the wallpaper to the wall.
“So it’s just one of those things? Like how Lily paraphrases everything you say and relays it back to you?”
“Erm, Sure.” I answered with a characteristic blush.
“We’ve finished the feature wall,” James said with a nod at the freshly wallpapered room. I didn’t even know what a feature wall was, not that I was going to mention that to James Potter. I nodded in a non-committal fashion and stood back to admire our handy work. It did look pretty good, I was pleasantly surprised.
“Hmm.” I agreed, pulling another roll of wallpaper from the bag.
“You know you’re... you’re super power thing?”
“Not really...?” I answered feeling thoroughly confusion.
“The whole ‘I’m so special I can sense magic’ thing?”
“Oh,” I said. “I suppose.” I picked the roller off the floor and began smothering the final wall in wallpaper paste.
“So does it... does it actually exist?”
“You think I lied?” I asked feeling completely unsurprised and underwhelmed. James has probably just added it onto the list of things which proved I was crazy, which was great. He better not start to talk about it at school that would be awful.
“Yeah,” James said confidently. “I do. I think you lied so you could meet the legends that are my parents.” I didn’t answer. “Well, aren’t you going to stand up for yourself?” He prompted.
“Why should I?” I asked.
“So it’s not true.”
“Your parents believe it,” I said with a shrug.
“Yes well, my parents believe I gave Ryan two black eyes for no reason, just because they believed Lily’s claim of me having no provocation.”
He was expecting me to question him about what he’d just said, I could tell, but that didn’t mean I wanted to too. I was so fed up of doing exactly what James wanted me to in these stupid conversations. I wanted to tell him I didn’t particularly care about his life, but no – I was Crazy Cassie. “Why did you give Ryan two black eyes?”
“You would be crazy enough not to know about it.” James sighed in a way which was almost bordering on sad. “The point is,” James began. “Lily lied because I hexed her pathetic excuse of a boyfriend, Al refused to have anything to do with it and I’ve been grounded till we go to Italy – it’s not fair.”
Life’s not fair you self-absorbed prat.
“And yesterday,” He sighed. “I mean, I do appreciate what you did Cassie, but I wished you hadn’t. I had to give Ryan another black eye, and if my parents find out I’m grounded till the end of the summer. Argh!” James complained.
Isn’t the life of James Potter so hard... grounded for mysteriously punching his best mate, grassed up by his sister, and grounded before he goes jetting off to Italy for a fabulous holiday, after which he’s probably free to do anything he likes. How utterly tragic.
“But, the point is, can you really sense magic?”
“Prove it.” James implored. I rolled my eyes. “Dad said you could sense people. I’ll blindfold you, and you have to point where I am.” James said, suddenly tying a makeshift blindfold in the form of a dirty rag (nice and hygienic) over my eyes. “Count to ten, then come and find me.” James ordered.
I rolled my eyes. There was no way I was participating in the rubbish. I had nothing to prove to James Potter. I was not going to...
“Ten,” I said out loud. “Ready or not,” I muttered. I folded my arms, sighed, and stepped into the middle of the room. No doubt James was sprinting up to the top floor right this second, and I’d have to navigate my way up the stairs somehow. I might be able to sense magic, emotion and memories... but these walls were muggle and there was nothing to stop me from walking straight into them.
I closed my eyes behind the blindfold and concentrated hard on feeling my way around the room. The wallpaper has self-cleaning and dirt-repelling charms on, which meant I was able to sense those easily enough. They gave off a pulsating hum of energy that allowed me to walk out of the room without falling over my feet and dying. I’d half expected James to tie my shoelaces together or something (not that I was wearing shoes with shoelaces, but that sort of thing).
The walls – which had been completely soulless before – had absorbed some emotion since it had been inhabited. I had to concentrate very hard, but I was just about able to steer my way through the corridor.
If I knew James, which I didn’t really, he’d have headed immediately for the stairs. I walked across the corridor feeling increasingly more comfortable as we approached two of the rooms we’d actually been inhabiting – the living room and the kitchen. I stopped at the entrance to the kitchen – there was that familiar magical pull. James was in the kitchen.
I turned, stepped towards the kitchen and felt my way about the room. The kitchen was mostly muggle because it had been fitted before we got here... but James was sitting there at the table along with something else which had a strong magical pull...
He better not be videoing me.
“You’re sitting at the table on my laptop.” I told him. Today there was something different about James Potter... he was just as magical as ever, but there was a strange mix of emotions that hadn’t been there yesterday – or maybe I just hadn’t being paying attention.
James Potter was sad, worried, and a little bit scared.
I ripped the blindfold off my face and found myself face to face with a smirking James Potter. He had the laptop pointing at me, the inbuilt webcam rolling and the image of myself shown back to me – covered in paint, my hair sticking out everywhere and the blindfold clutched menacingly in my hand.
The bastard. The prat. The arsehole.
“Stop, delete.” I said clearly, and the webcam stopped recording and deleted the clip instantaneously. “Personalised voice recognition.” I told him, slamming the lid of my laptop shut and sending him a dark look. James’s eyes widened slightly. “You, go paint the painting room. I’ll finish the working room off by myself, thanks.”
I was trembling with anger again. I grabbed myself the last ice cold coke from the drinks fridge before turning my back on him and stalking out the room.
Maybe I should have thanked my lucky stars when it was just awkward.
“Cassie?” Harry Potter asked. “Where’s James?”
“He’s... just finishing off.” I told him. James hadn’t come back? James was still at my house? Well, that was a scary thought. Plus, I’d locked the door. James was locked in my house... why hadn’t I sensed his presence? I thought he’d just gone home...
“Okay,” Harry said unsurely. “Well, I was wondering...” He began. “This might be a... erm, sensitive topic but I... I really think it’s important.”
“Okay,” I said, nodding.
“Your mother.” Harry said tentatively, as if he was expecting me to fly off the handle and tell him not to talk about it. “You said you thought she was a seer...?” Harry began.
“Yeah,” I said. “I think so, at least – the only memory I really have of her seems to indicate that way.”
“What do you remember?”
“There was... a cauldron and... a crystal ball,” I said lamely. “And she was there.”
“Okay,” Harry nodded. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to do this, but... I was wondering if I could perhaps look at that memory.” I nodded. “I have a...” he gestured to the new addition to the room – a large basin that reeked of magic so strong and powerful that it made me feel strong and confident enough to agree to Harry Potter’s mad idea.
“A Pensieve.” I finished for him.
“Do you know how it works?” Harry asked. “You just lift your wand to your head and...”
“Are you sure this is okay Cassie? I don’t want to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable?”
“I’m quite curious about it myself, to be honest.” I told him and it was true, I was. Immensely so.
A/N - Hmmm...? Interesting....? Yes?, no...? Reviews.....? :)
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