Chapter 13 : Friends and Enemies
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“James! Potter!” I said a little louder, this time using my quill to poke him on the cheek.
“Ow!” he said. Miss Marm turned from the potion she was brewing to give him a death stare.
“I, er, poked myself. With my quill,” he said meekly.
“On the cheek? That’s a funny place for a quill to end up, ain’t it?”
“Yeah, well, I was concentrating so hard, Miss Marm. That potion you’re brewing, it’s... luscious.” There was a scattering of knowing giggles as James flashed that winning Potter smile. Every boy with eyes had a slight crush on Marm. Had something to do with her accent and her ‘Texas-sized tits.’ It was just fantasy, of course. Marm was practically engaged to her rooster. But that didn’t stop every heterosexual male from dreaming.
Miss Marm blushed. “Not the word I would use, but I appreciate the sentiment, darlin’!” Then she turned back to her potion, leaving me to finally talk to James.
“Right, so I need to ask you a favour,” I whispered.
“What? No! No, why would you even--”
“Just making sure,” he replied, shrugging.
“No, I need you to help me spy on--”
“Fred and Adele at the Pineapple. Don’t worry, already got it figured out.” He very patronizingly patted me on the head.
“Oh, well, good.” I wasn’t used to James being ten steps ahead of me. But then again, secret spy missions were more his forte than mine.
It was weird how utterly normal our friendship had become in a matter of, oh, three days. We weren’t exactly painting each other’s nails, but we could exchange smiles and waves in the Great Hall without getting any disapproving glares. It was predictable and even a little boring. Just how I liked it. And best of all, there was none of that awkward tension that existed from me liking him before. Really.
After class was dismissed, I walked with him so we could further discuss plans. “So what will we need? Masks, hats, gloves? Ooh, should we bust out the ole’ Invisibility Cloak?”
James rolled his eyes. “We’re not robbing bloody Gringotts. Anyway, I’ve got the perfect thing, it’s a new Weasley product, and it’s brilliant. And I helped come up with it, so it’s double-brilliant. No need to even discuss anything. My plan is foolproof!”
“Famous last words, James! Famous last words!” I yelled as he walked away. But in truth, the prospect of not having any control over the plan (not to be confused with The Plan) was sort of exhilarating. I know, not what I would ever say under any circumstances. But getting drunk, dancing on tables, and being nursed back to health by your former love interest will do that to you. Make you loosen the reins a bit. And if James really thought he should have full control over an area that wasn’t in my expertise anyway, well, I could live with that.
Lost in my own self-discovery, I nearly ran into Sam, who was walking dangerously close to that Slytherin from the party.
“Hi, Sam!” I said, oblivious of the intimate moment I was interrupting.
“Morning, Shiv.” He turned to the other girl. “Bye Sil, I’ll see you tonight,” he said in a voice more suave than Enrique’s.
“Sil” waved a sultry goodbye and glided away. I raised my brow. “Sil? Who is she?”
“Her real name’s Bianca, but her spirit name is Silver Moon.” Sam said, still looking in the direction of Silver Moon.
I started laughing. “Good one. And I guess last night you two lit some incense and explored the contours of each other’s minds?”
Sam was not laughing. “Actually, yeah. It was a great night. Very enlightening.”
“Come on, Sam,” I said, linking arms with him as we walked back to Ravenclaw Tower. “I mean, spiritual name? I’m all for your discovering yourself, but let’s be honest. She’s a pretty girl, and you want to shag her.”
“Oh, I have. Multiple times, actually. I’ve never connected with someone on so many levels: intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual. She feeds off my energy, and I hers. Isn’t that amazing, Shiv?”
I was getting a little grossed out and wasn’t sure if “feeds off my energy” was some sort of dirty euphemism. “Er, sure. Woah,” I said, looking at his neck. “You should get that checked out!”
He looked at me and smiled a little. “Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a--”
“I know what it is,” I said, slightly embarrassed. “But look at those teeth marks..”
“Well, Shiv, when one finds himself in the throes of passionate love--”
“That’s fine!” I cut in quickly. We’d reached the Common Room. I was walking up the stairs to my room when I had a profound thought. Energy-feeding... violent necking...
“Hey Sam, where did you say Bianca was from?” I yelled down. He was sitting comfortably on an armchair, quill and notepad already out.
“Romania or something. It’s a non-issue, neither of us believe in nation-states and cultural boundaries.”
“Holy Shiva! You don’t think she’s a...” My mouth grew dry.
Sam looked up. “What, a-- No, don’t be ridiculous. I would know if my own spirit sister was--”
“I CANNOT BELIEVE HIM.” The door slammed shut as Isabella continued fuming. Her cheeks were red and her brilliant mane was looking extra wild.
I sighed and trudged down the stairs. Now was not the time for me to start on next week’s Transfiguration assignment. “What has Zane done this time?”
“I just saw that git walking arm-in-arm with not one, but two blonde girls! Can you believe that?!”
I was genuinely surprised. Zane was many things, including self-obsessed and a little misogynistic, but he wasn’t unfaithful. “Damn, Iz, that is tough.”
“Thanks for your sympathy, love. I mean, yes, we’ve been broken up for three days now, but--”
“WHAT? How, I, no, what?” I continued blubbering incoherently for a few seconds more. Despite their stubborn, volatile natures and my constant questioning of their mental health, Zane and Isabella together had become a constant in my life. They were my rock. I knew that whatever inner and outer turmoil I was going through, whatever wars and famines were plaguing our world, I could always come back and find them eating each other’s faces on the couch. It was comforting.
“Oh, sorry. I meant to tell you earlier, soon after it happened, but...”
“You were busy being passed out,” Sam finished.
I collapsed into a chair. “I just can’t believe it. You were my rock.”
“I know, I’m sorry. We just stopped being in love,” she said.
I did vaguely remember Isabella telling me she no longer loved Zane at the party. I never thought much of it because one, Iz fell in and out of love with everything on a daily basis, and two, I had tried my best to suppress all memory of That Awful Night. “So how are you holding up?” I asked, after getting over my own shock and giving my now-single friend a hug.
“Oh darling, don’t worry about me,” she said with a titter. “I’m thriving. The whole monogamy thing really isn’t for me. I had a lunch date just yesterday.”
“Well then why do you care what Zane does?” I asked, baffled.
“Uh-oh,” Sam said, looking up from his writing. “Not the right thing to say...”
“What do you mean, why?!” Iz shouted in a rage. Her hair was once again wild-looking. “Because I’m the best thing that ever happened to that idiot, and he should be taking at least two weeks to get over me! I don’t want to see him with some broads who are probably charming their hair to that awful yellow!”
I frowned. “That’s not exactly fair, is it?”
Sam sighed. “I can see The Daily Prophet headline now, Shiv: ‘Girl Digs Her Own Grave, Is Pushed In By Former Friend.’”
Iz shot me a look before going upstairs. I knew I had probably hit a nerve and would be hearing more from her later. But Isabella didn’t stay angry for long.
I turned to Sam to find out his thoughts on the upcoming date between Adele and Fred.
“You really shouldn’t call it a date in front of her. She might injure you.”
“Well that’s a risk I’ll have to be willing to take. ‘Cos James and I are planning on spying on Fred and Adele--”
“What’s that about me?” I definitely had not heard the door swinging open and Adele walking in.
“Er, nothing!” I said quickly. “We were talking about... woodland faeries. And how I found one... In a dell. You know, like a little meadow. A dell!” I was quite pleased with my quick thinking, but I don’t think she bought it.
“Right...” she said, her eyes narrowing. “I’m watching you, Patil!” Then she stomped up the stairs.
“Wow,” he said to me. “Two gorgeous girls that you’ve upset in less than ten minutes. You’re a regular Zane Marlowe.”
I rolled my eyes, but he was right. Sam was always right.
When James said he had our spy mission all figured out, I believed him. I put my faith in his abilities. I was expecting an elaborate plan, full of costume changes and smoke signals. I was not expecting to only be handed a pair of those joke Muggle glasses, with the nose and mustache.
“This is your brilliant plan?” I said to him as we made our way to Hogsmeade on Saturday.
“Just put them on.”
“I don’t see how a little piece of plastic is going to fool Dele. She’s a lot smarter than you.”
“Put them on, damn it.”
“I dunno why people think you’re so good at stuff like this. A bloody Second Year could’ve come up with mustache-nose-glasses. I expect more--”
“Shivani!” he said, grabbing my shoulders. “Put. Glasses. On. Face.”
Taken aback by his forcefulness, I willingly obliged and shoved the glasses on. James smiled broadly, but I didn’t understand why.
“Look,” he said, pointing me to a shop’s window.
“Oh Ganesh!” I gasped. “Who is that? That’s not me!” The face looking back at me in the window was definitely not my own. But it wasn’t completely different, either. My nose was a little longer, my eyes a little lighter, my hair a bit shorter. The differences were just enough to make me look like a new person. It was truly brilliant.
“You’re a genius, James!” I gave him one of those one-armed side hugs, which seemed to surprise him for a second.
“Wish I had a timeturner so I could relive you saying that over and over again. These are only the prototype, but they’ll work fine.” He put on his own glasses and we made our way to The Enchanted Pineapple. “By the way, your name is Olga. I’m Sebastian,” he added. Lovely.
The Pineapple was Adele’s favorite, and out of the kindness of her heart, I’d only been forced to eat there once. It literally looked like a pineapple, which made me nervous right away. A scruffy-bearded guy with untied shoelaces and a shirt very similar to Adele’s house elf liberation shirt greeted us at the front door. The inside was just as I remembered it. Bright and airy, bamboo floors, avant-garde artwork, and chairs that were painted by local squibs. It was a vegan-revolutionary-hipster’s dream.
“Hello,” James/Sebastian said to the host in a pseudo-French accent. I wasn’t quite sure how he decided Sebastian was a French name and why an accent was even necessary. Also, his accent was pretty bad. “A table for two, please.”
The host led us to a round table that was plastered with stickers from bands I’d never heard of. James ordered “ze butterbeer” for the both of us. Once our host left, he whispered, “And now we wait.”
And so we did. We talked about classes and other things, always careful to never mention anything involving alcohol or music or especially large and rowdy groups of students. We were nearly out of conversation topics when I decided to ask about the one thing I knew I probably shouldn’t.
“So, talk to your dad lately?”
James sighed. “Do I have to talk about this?”
“Yes,” I said firmly. “Now that we’re friends, you have to tell me these things. I want to help, or at least listen. It’s healthy to complain about your parents to other people.”
“Fine. Actually, I just wrote to him. Kind of weird, but mum wanted me to. She says we don’t talk enough. So anyway, I told him that Quidditch is going really well, that I’m not failing any classes. He’ll probably write me back in a couple days.”
“How cute! It’s like having a pen pal.”
“Except it’s my dad.” He got into one of his stroppy ‘my dad is so great and my life is so unfair’ moods that he was so fond of.
I sighed. “No offense, James, but your dad seems pretty nice. I can’t imagine from all the articles and books and interviews that he’s this mean guy you make him out to be.”
He stared purposefully at the menu, hoping that the many organic dishes would save him from answering me. Finally, he said, “He’s not. He’s just so different than me. His whole life he’s had this sense of purpose, kind of like you, while I’m just floundering around in the sea of my future. I’m directionless.”
“No one has it all figured it out, James. Not even me with my brilliant Plan. And for the last time, you are not your father, so stop feeling like you have to live up to him,” I said seriously. “‘Cos he is much braver, smarter, and handsomer than you. It’s really not a feasible goal.”
James looked honestly surprised for a second before chuckling. “Thanks for the pep talk.”
I wanted to say something that was more encouraging, but I had no idea what to say or how to say it. And this resulted in a horrible lull in the conversation during which we both stared at our menus, trying to find something that didn’t have tofu . Luckily, the whole purpose of this mission arrived just in the nick of time.
“There they are!” I whispered. Fred was holding the door open for Adele, which was already the worst thing he could’ve done. Her face brightened at the sight of the host’s shirt, though. They had a short but spirited discussion on the booming house elf black market.
“Ugh, she’s more interested in the host than Freddie!” James whispered.
“Wait, do we want them to be interested in each other?” I asked. Somehow we had never talked about where we wanted this thing to go. We’d only decided to observe.
“Well sure, I mean who wouldn’t be interested in Fred Fucking Weasley? Look at him, he’s a god among mortals. Adele would have to be insane not to be into that. If I were female and not related to him, I’d do him right here, right now.” That last bit was said with way more passion than was necessary.
“Fred is lucky that someone as intelligent and gorgeous as Adele is willing to have lunch with him,” I hissed.
He looked at Adele intently, moving his head around and furrowing his brow. “She’s got a nice arse. I’ll give you that.”
“Oi! My best friend is much more than a nice butt!”
He stared at her again before turning back to me. “You’re right, nice rack, too.” I glared. “Whatever. Despite your friend’s ten-on-ten body, Fred still wins ‘cos he’s going to take over the Wizarding business world, I promise.”
“Oh yeah, well Adele is going to take over the entire Wizarding world. Period,” I said with a smirk. I loved winning.
James put his hand on his heart. “Show a little sensitivity, Shivani. As the son of Harry Potter, I would ask that you not make references to You Know Who.”
“Shut up,” I said, throwing a straw wrapper at him. “We need to focus.”
And focus we did. Behind the protective shields of menus, we watched our best friends closely. We were close enough to hear bits and pieces of conversation. We saw them sit down, order their own drinks, make polite conversation, argue about the merits of capitalism. It was all exactly how I imagined it would go. After the waiter took our menus, we had nothing to hide behind, so I made good use of my peripheral vision.
And then it got weird.
Fred had moved from the opposite side of the booth and cozied right up to Adele, putting his arm around her and everything. And instead of the screams I was expecting, she giggled. Yes, giggled.
James and I exchanged incredulous glances. However each of us wanted this to go, we were not expecting it to go quite this well.
And then the unthinkable happened: Adele ran her fingers through his afro.
I think James had had enough of this nonsense. “What the bloody hell is going on?!” he said a little too loudly.
“Shut up!” I whispered. But it was too late. The damage had already been done. Fred and Adele looked up at us. And instead of just giving us weird looks and going back to what they were doing, they got up and walked toward us.
“Shit, why are they coming here?” I asked frantically.
“Dunno, just act natural. Remember, you’re Russian.” Oh, good. ‘Cos I was such a natural at being Russian.
“Hello,” Fred said brightly. “I’m Fred, and this is my lady friend, Adele. Is there a problem?”
“Zere is no problem, monsieur.” James looked at me, expecting me to save our falling-apart charade.
“Ah, no. No problem. You nice couple.” I winced at my own horrible accent. It wasn’t my fault my Russian impression was so bad. The only Russian person I knew was the creepy old man who lived under the bridge near my house. And he was not someone you wanted to emulate.
“Glad you think so!” Adele said. “We were actually thinking about getting engaged. This is only our first date, but we thought, why not!”
“If the shoe fits..” Fred added, playfully nudging her. There were big ole’ smiles from the both of them. They looked so happy. Too happy.
“Oh...” I muttered. It became very clear to me.
“What the hell, Fred?!” It was not quite so clear for James. “You can’t marry her!”
Fred and Adele burst out laughing. Then he slapped James heartily on the back, causing the nose-mustache-glasses to fall off his face. “Hi, cousin!”
I sheepishly took off my own glasses and went back to my normal British-Indian self. “Well, this is embarrassing.”
James’ face turned a startling shade of pink, something I didn’t know it could do before. “You knew we were here.”
“Jamesie, I’d be offended if you weren’t. And didn’t you think I would notice if two Kwik-Change Glasses prototypes were missing from the inventory?”
“You’re a lot smarter than you look,” Adele said to Fred, visibly impressed. Turning back to us, she continued, “When he said you two would probably be here, we met earlier at The Three Broomsticks and figured stuff out.”
“So are you two friends now, or what?” I asked.
“More like mortal enemies.” They both spoke at the same time, but it was easy to tell who said what.
“She’ll fall for my charms and good looks eventually, they all do.” Fred winked and high-fived James.
“Doubtful,” Adele said seriously. “But our alliance is essential for the Squibbles-C.H.A.O.S. partnership to work. So unfortunately, we’ll have to meet somewhat frequently to flesh out the details and semantics.”
“Love it when you talk business,” he said with a cocky half-smile. “So sexy.”
Adele shook her head and rolled her eyes and tried her best to look contemptuous. But a tiny, well-hidden part of her was enjoying the attention and teasing, and that part showed itself for a few short seconds before being replaced by her usual Fred-loathing self.
James and I ditched the Pineapple quickly in favor of some real food while Fred escorted Adele back to Grounds. After about an hour of gorging ourselves on dishes with too many calories and absolutely no tofu, we moseyed on back to school as well. As we passed by the Quidditch pitch, James saw some people he thought he recognized.
“Walk with me...” he said, already walking away. And of course, I followed.
As we got closer, even I began to recognize some of the people. There was a little redhead who looked like his sister. And there was Evan Wood. And Fred Weasley.
“Oi! What’s going on here?” James yelled to the crowd, who all had brooms in their hands.
“James! Good you’re finally here,” Rose said. She looked radiant, which was never a good sign. “I wanted to hold an emergency practice. Slytherin match is coming up and I want to be extra-prepared. I looked for you earlier today, but I couldn’t find you anywhere, so I called a team meeting out here. Then I saw Freddie walking over here with pink-haired girl, you know, the one he likes. Anyway, he said you were at Hogsmeade, with her I’m guessing. Since everyone was here, I thought we might as well play!” Rose smiled sweetly.
“You held a practice without me?” James’ voice had become lower and rougher. I saw the muscles in his arms tense up as his hands reflexively curled into fists. I didn’t think a spontaneous practice was such a big deal, but clearly it meant something to him.
“I had to! But now that you’re here, you might as well join us.” She began walking away as she said that. Then she stopped abruptly and turned her head back to us. “Oh, by the way. Since this practice is so close to the Slytherin match, I’ll be Captain for that. And frankly, I dunno if you’ll be playing or not. Sorry!”
And that’s when James lost it.
A/N: and there is chapter 13. lots of little things that i just made up as i went along, with one fun thing at the end! very dialogue-y, without any real plot, i feel. :( and now is when i tell you all the reasons i haven't updated in months, but i won't bore you. just know that i WILL finish this story, it's my new year's resolution! dearest readers (if i have any left), please tell me what you think. your thoughts keep me motivated. :)
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