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Chapter 23 : Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
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Not my best chapter, but it’s a chapter nonetheless.
There is a reason that across the world the day of April 1st instils fear into everyone’s hearts……
“Ladies and Gentlemen, upon this finest day when perfection was born into the world we can think of no greater praise than your best wishes and love,” Fred Weasley stood upon the Gryffindor table in the great hall.
“A mere sixteen years ago the earth was blessed by our arrival and a flash of light graced the sky leading all who beheld it to cry out that truly something momentous has occurred that day.” George stood next to his brother, holding his arms aloft as he addressed an enraptured audience.
“It passed down in legend of these two remarkable young gentlemen until they became the stuff of legends,” Fred cried dramatically. “Their fabled good looks, sensual charm and supreme wit and intelligence were remarked upon worldwide as beheld them in awe.”
“And lo two handsome, witty, charming and talented young men stand before you today and bequeath to you the gift of their beauty and presence. Thank you for your heartfelt birthday wishes, indeed it fills our kind hearts with love for you all,” George placed a hand to his heart and struck a pose of dramatic.
Sat chewing my cereal, I gazed at the spectacle before me with endless cynicism and indifference. Regarding them with a bored stare, I merely watched them disrupt my breakfast as the paraded up and down the table, knocking food flying in their attempts to gain attention.
“I’m pretty certain they’ve repeated the handsome, witty and intelligent thing too much,” I muttered to Indy as we observed the commotion interrupting our breakfast.
“Well boosting their own egos has always been a career rather than a hobby for them,” she muttered back as she cut up her sausages.
“I don’t understand why warnings aren’t issued around the world; beware people Fred and George Weasley are going to go into overload. Hide your valuables and take cover.”
“I don’t think ever a warning is sufficient for the chaos they bring,” she pointed out.
Her words we echoed by a clang as a foot connected with a jug of orange juice, showering the nearby students with liquid.
“I think you’re point has just been proven,” I held out a hand to indicate the disruption.
“As usual,” she nodded.
“FRED AND GEORGE WEASLEY GET OFF THE TABLE THIS INSTANT!”
The previously chattering great hall went deathly quiet as Professor McGonagall strode down the aisle towards the once dancing pair. Her voice echoed and reverberated, making her anger sound tenfold.
“Has it escaped your notice that this is a dinner table, not a place for you to dance about and pollute the food!” she screeched. “If you want to go into that profession then practice in your own time and not where people are eating.”
“Just celebrating Professor,” George winked. “Not every day you turn another year older.”
“And wiser,” Fred interjected.
“That’s still in doubt,” McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “Now get down this instant.”
“Only if you wish us happy birthday,” George asked, beaming.
“And commemorate the day you were sent forth to plague me?” McGonagall said wryly. “I shall refrain from such jovialities.”
“Oh Professor,” Fred looked hurt; “you’ve just broken my heart.”
“Nothing that a good detention can’t fix I’m sure,” McGonagall said calmly.
“You just want to spend time alone with us,” George said as he and Fred leapt down from the table. “Don’t worry you can give us our birthday kiss in public. Don’t worry we won’t tell Flitwick, we know how jealous he can get.”
“Don’t push it Mr Weasley!” McGonagall sniffed.
“But it’s so much fun,” Fred smiled.
“Just please don’t torture your peers with ridiculous table dancing again, some children aren’t old enough to view such disturbing images,” McGonagall said. “Furthermore I will now be late to my class thanks to your inconsiderate nature, in future refrain from dancing on tables.”
“Annnnd that’s my cue to go,” I took a gulp of orange juice and slump my satchel over my back as McGonagall began ushering students along. “Better not be late for class! Especially as McGonagall’s already on the warpath!”
“Enjoy it if you can,” she nodded, “I have potions. I think I’ll boil myself in my cauldron for fun.”
“Cool,” I nodded approval. It’s what I would have done in such a circumstance.
Hurrying from the hall as students began disappearing into classrooms I tried to make sure my rush didn’t make my shoes fall off. It happened at far too an alarming and embarrassing a rate, usually involving me tripping over my own feet. I really didn’t feel like making a fool of myself so early.
It was a Thursday which meant long hours, lots of books and the distinct possibility I would fall asleep in at least one of my lessons today. Now that Easter was approaching the teachers had decided that we hadn’t enough work and were on a mission to work us all to death. This meant more essays that I could count, blurry vision with so much reading and a complete lack of understanding in lectures. It would appear NEWTs were a life test; get through them in one piece and you truly deserved all the praise you got.
But surviving them really was the issue.
Not only did I have to get myself through these exams I also had to get Wood through them too. We’d stepped up the tutoring to every other night, working around obsessive Quidditch training and suck face with Jaz and I discovered something. Close proximity to the person you might perhaps like was not good for your health. You got heart pains, heated skin, frantic blinking and nervous twitches. Not to mention intense distractions.
And I really didn’t need any distractions when I had exams looming.
“Why Miss Finster, where are you disappearing to so quickly?”
Spinning on my heel I found Fred and George loping along the hall towards me, big smiles plastered on their faces.
“I have class,” I raised an eyebrow. “It’s that thing you go to get good grades.”
“Waste of time,” Fred batted the suggestion away.
“We already know everything,” George added.
“Doubtful,” I muttered.
“We heard that,” Fred wagged a finger in my direction. “Naughty.”
Moving my satchel to the other shoulder, I stared at them waiting for them to say what they wanted to say.
They just smirked at me.
“Well….what is it?” I broke. “Why did you call my name?”
“Ah, well we noticed your presence at breakfast and you neglected to come and wish us happy birthday. It’s mandatory.”
“Er….happy birthday…I guess.” I shrugged.
“Now, now,” George looked hurt as he slung an arm around my shoulder. “Is that all the enthusiasm you can muster for this great day?”
“The day two legends,” Fred slung an arm across my other shoulder, “were born and beauty was unleashed upon the world.”
“Why…..point me in their direction and I’ll go and congratulate them immediately,” I said overly sunnily.
“Oh, ha very funny,” Fred muttered. “See George, she’s trying to be humorous. It’s apparently a once in a lifetime event to see her being funny so we’d better enjoy it will we can and tell our grandchildren.”
“Nah, no one would believe us if we told them,” George shook his head sadly.
“I can hear you you know?” I hissed.
“We know,” they chorused together, grinning evilly.
Yep, they were about to cause mischief.
“Look you’re making me late to my lesson….just say what you want and bugger off,” I snapped. Ok, so perhaps I was being a bit short with them but pft. It was a morning, I was late and running around with troublemakers was not what I wanted to be doing.
But telling the Weasley twins to depart was like showing something shiny to a niffler. Until they’d said their part and got what they wanted they’d cling to me like leeches.
“It would just be nice if you, our dearest friend, would wish us a heartfelt happy birthday.” George smiled endearingly. A true sign, if any, that they were up to something.
“Fine, fine!” I shrugged off their arms and threw my hands into the air. “I hope you have a truly fabulous day and have a very happy birthday. If there is anything I can do to make your day special then I will endeavour to assist your noble selves.”
As soon as the words left my mouth I regretted them.
Especially at the sly looks that passed between them.
“Well….there is something you could do,” George said slyly as we walked down the hall.
“What?” I asked suspiciously.
“We’re having a party tonight, common room at 8.30,” Fred winked. “Presence and limited clothing are mandatory.”
“And why,” I drawled, “would I wish to go to that?”
“Dunno, maybe we figured spending every evening lodging that broom further up your behind was getting pretty monotonous, but hey what do we know? Perhaps there is something to it after all.” George shrugged.
I rolled my eyes.
“Plus spending every evening drooling over Wood’s picture isn’t good for the health,” Fred informed me. “One day your lips will stick the photo frame and then where will you be? They’d definitely be pointing the stalker card at you then.”
Frowning, I stopped in the hallway. Realising I had stopped, then turned round and faced me with identical grins on their faces.
This merely made me frown at them more, largely in disbelief.
But there may have been a bit of disgust in there as well.
“Sometimes I don’t think you have any idea what comes out of your mouths,” I said, baffled. “You two are just plain weird.”
They gave each other a look and turned to face me, arms crossed and each with an eyebrow raised in my direction.
Cue second eye roll.
“Fine, I know if you look up the definition of weird in the dictionary it comes up with ‘Ella Finster’, but you two really are a synonym for it as well!” I huffed.
“Oooo synonym,” the both cried together, giving each other the same silly look.
“Aren’t you using big words today,” Fred smirked.
“It’s hardly a big word….well it is for you two morons I guess.”
“The more you insult us the more we know you love us,” George smiled.
I merely snorted at that and rolled my eyes.
“And we are looking after you’re best interests,” Fred placed a hand to his heart. “As your incredibly sexy fairy godfathers we are trying to improve your social whirl and help you find true love with Wood. What better way than to constantly throw yourself into his path and allow you to declare your love for one another?”
“I’m not in love with Wood,” I hissed menacingly, glancing about to see if anyone else had heard.
Luckily, everyone seemed completely disinterested in my life. As usual.
“Sure, you keep believing that,” they chuckled.
Cue multiple eye rolls and scowls.
If I continued this I was going to hurt my eyes soon.
“Look I’m late to Transfiguration and unless you want me to end up with detention you will leave me in peace and let me go to class!”
“Only if you agree to come tonight,” they faced with me identical grins, barring my way.
Weighing up the pros and cons in my mind – detention or mindless socialising – I decided the latter, whilst more painful, was also more sensible.
“Fine,” I sighed. “If it will get you two to leave me alone then fine I will go to your party. I still don’t understand why I have to go but if it will make you happy then I will attend. Now,” I opened the classroom door, “go away.”
Like most things Fred and George did, the party was loud, wild and colourful…a perfect homage to the hosts personalities. Banners of their faces, winking and blowing kisses as the crowd, adorned the walls and streamers of various colours exploded everywhere. It made you think someone had packaged a rainbow into the common room and gone entirely overboard with the idea of ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know,’ a borrowed mantra the twins lived by. Conspicuous sweets exploded from bowls, butterbeer bottles littered the ground and the sound of chatter and laughter was deafening. Despite being only 7.30, the party was in full swing and student inhibitions seemed to have disappeared. I definitely saw at least three couples snogging as I entered the common room that evening, three couples who until that evening had stuck together by the lips. Obviously desperation and spiked butterbeer did strange things to people.
“God, is our entire school so promiscuous and vacuous?” I snorted as Indy and I waded through the sea of people, bopping along to some music that thumped away in the background.
“You sound like you’re surprised,” she commented, elbowing passed some first years who were attempting some wild looking dance moves. Lots of arm waving, head bopping, jumping up and down and windmill impressions.
Shaking my head at the display, I moved forward as I searched for an area that was empty and free of people. In a packed room this was an impossible ambition.
“Quite a party,” Indy commented next to me. “It seems like the entire house has turned out to celebrate.”
“I wonder if they were forced to as well,” I grumbled.
“I doubt it. Fred and George are actually quite popular despite their games,” Indy contemplated. “This is probably the coolest party we’ve ever been to. We might break out into rashes if we aren’t careful…popularity rubs off on us the wrong way.”
I gave her a look, hampered slightly by someone knocking into me mid dance.
“What?” she shrugged. “It’s true! We’re the most unpopular people here!”
“That maybe the case but I doubt I’m going to break out into a rash. My body wouldn’t honour these dimwits with such an extreme display of subservience.”
“Whatever you say,” she said. “Everyone who looks at me either ignores me or turns away in disgust. Its start to wreck havoc on my ego.”
“Why do you care?” I yelled as the music got turned up and I had to shout to be heard.
“Because unlike you I’d quite like to have someone who returns my affections!”
Shaking my head at her outburst I turned round, intending to move forwards and instead found myself confronted with an estranged step sister. Luckily without her limpet of a boyfriend.
“Katya,” I nodded in acknowledgement.
“Ella,” she muttered dimly.
“How are you?” I asked out of politeness. She was, after all, the most tolerable of my relatives. I could at least attempt friendliness before negotiations inevitably broke down.
“Ok,” she said coolly. “You?”
“Still being tormented by your wonderful sister,” I smiled falsely. “But then you already knew that.”
“You realise that if you keep prodding at her she’s going to come back tenfold sooner or later,” Katia said quietly. “She’s just waiting for the opportunity to unleash hell upon you.”
“I wouldn’t worry about me,” I pointed out. “After all that would be breaking from tradition wouldn’t it.”
“Suit yourself,” shrugging a shoulder she resumed a bored expression and glanced passed me.
“Why do you continue to hang around her?” I asked, exasperated. “You can do better than spending time with her. God if you knew the truth you’d be running in the opposite direction!”
“Oh I know far more about Jaz than you think,” she said fixing me with a cold look before she moved passed me and once again rejoined the heaving crowd.
Leaving me staring after her in confusion.
“What was that about?” Indy asked.
“I have absolutely no idea,” I murmured, baffled.
What did Katya mean she knew more about Jaz than I did? Did that mean she knew Jaz’s secrets too…..if so why on earth was she still being biddable to her sister in her current situation? If anyone deserved to distrust her sister right now then it was certainly Katya.
“Probably not enough oxygen to the brain,” Indy muttered. “I don’t pity you, you know. One step sister’s a bitch; the other is a cold and confusing. I never thought you’d be the sanest one there.”
“Neither did I.” I snorted. “Come on, let’s get something to eat and drink. Then we can leave.”
Weaving our way through the throng of people in the general direction of food like items we were continually forced to stop as enthusiastic couples either decided to grind in front of us or people executed extreme dance moves.
Conclusion, they were all nutters the whole bunch of them.
“Why heylllooooooooo ladies,” two voices called out and our paths were blocked by Fred and George Weasley. A twin appeared from left and right, coming together and standing in front of us simultaneously.
They must have rehearsed that, I thought, no way was that impromptu.
“Look what we have hear George, too lovely young ladies and no smiles on their faces,” Fred smiled. “Why it truly saddens my heart to see sour lucks on our birthday.”
His wide smile spelt mischief rather than sadness.
“No dates ladies?” George winked at Indy. “No one warming your bed tonight?”
Indy refrained from answering and merely scowled.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” I pointed out. “We’re here because you forced me to attend; we’re not on the hunt for any men.”
“Not even the elusive,” Fred grabbed my by the shoulders and spun me round, “Mr Wood?”
Wood was standing about ten feet away, chatting to his friends and laughing over some tale that was being told. Dressed in jeans and the top two buttons on his shirt undone he annoyingly radiated attractiveness. I could just see the tanned skin of his throat peeping through as he threw his head back in a laugh.
I was annoyed with myself as shivers went down my spine.
“So,” I spun back to Fred and George’s innocent faces. “Why do I care?”
“No reason,” they shrugged.
“Just thought you’d like to know,” George pointed out with a smirk.
“Well thank you for breaking away from your groupies long enough to share such important information with me,” I snapped. “Now if you don’t mind, we’re going. Come on Indy,” I grabbed her hand and yanked her through the crowd after me.
Bloody Weasley Twins trying to get a reaction out of me.
They were fully aware that seeing Wood got me all charged and not in the angry way it used to. They were messing with me and my emotions for which they deserved to be punished. Yes I did very much want to go and talk to Wood but no, I wasn’t going to. I did have some common sense.
“I hate parties,” Indy muttered next to me. “It’s all about snogging and when you don’t have anyone to snog there is very little point of being here.”
“Agreed,” I scowled. “There’s no better setting to make you feel unwanted and miserable.”
“Can we just go to bed please,” Indy said quietly. “I’m really not in the mood for any more drama tonight.”
“Fine by me, let’s just try-“
“Well if it isn’t McFreaky and her companion dorkface,” a voice called out from nearby, accompanied by the titters of mindless teenage girls, collectively known as ‘bimbos’.
Here, in their natural environment of a party, the bimbos would circulate on the edge of the crowds, dazzling helpless boys with their looks and eventually ensnaring one with come hither eyes and a bedroom voice. Once trapped the bimbo’s prey would be treated to expulsion of the soul through intensive mouth sucking before being left drained and immobile as the bimbo moved onto their next prey. The Bimbo’s favourite pastime was standing and taunting anyone with brain cells that passed by them.
“Wow, creative,” I nodded. “Did you get missed out by the intelligence fairy yet again Jaz? You really should complain you know….it’s kind of victimisation now.”
Jaz gave her friends a look that said, ‘look what I have to put up with,’ as she lounged against the window with her friends. Blonde hair cascading down her shoulders, chest thrusting out against a barely there white shirt and her school skirt pushing the boundaries of decent, she looked like a sexed up angel just ready to pounce.
Yet lover boy was too busy in conversation with his unenthusiastic Quidditch team to notice what his beloved was up to.
Instead Jaz had gathered her loyal followers and congregated together, creating a sickly beautiful array that had many boys heads turning.
“What are you doing at the party mcfreaky?” Jaz questioned. “I didn’t think you had enough social standing to show you’re face in public.”
“Firstly, it is my common room,” I pointed out, “secondly I was invited.”
“I really doubt that,” Lucy Beckett smirked. “No one invites people like you to parties unless they have to.”
“Maybe it’s a help the socially unfortunate?” Jaz giggled.
“Well that would explain why you are here,” Indy pointed out. “You need all the help you can to brush up on your people skills.”
“Weirdos,” Delilah Clarke muttered.
“Oh spare me the insults,” I rolled my eyes, “at least be creative about them. Something with more imagination. Although why should I expect any less from you lot?”
“For such a unpopular little witch you’ve really got a mouth on you,” Jaz raised an eyebrow. “Little upstarts always get what’s coming to them. We make sure of it, you really don’t want to-“
“Sooooooo how’s Ollie Wollie Jaz?” I interrupted with a bright smile.
That shut her up.
“Why so silent Jaz?” I acted surprised. “Isn’t that him over there?” I caught his eye and waved. Looking confused he waved back before returning to his conversation with a shake of his head.
“Don’t you dare,” she hissed, moving forward to break away from her baffled friends.
“Ah, but where’s the fun in that?” I queried. “Only seconds ago you were threatening to have me dealt with….payback’s a bitch isn’t it? Oh wait, no that’s just you.”
“Threatening me is only going to get you so far,” she muttered as Lucy and Delilah eyed us with confusion.
“Still it’s nice to have you jumping like a scared rabbit,” I smirked.
“You want to be careful messing with the big girls.”
“But it’s such fun,” I smiled. “What would happen if I just happened to tootle off over there to your boyfriend and tell him all about your little secrets.”
“I’m pretty certain he’d no longer be your boyfriend if he knew the real you,” Indy pointed out.
“Oh you mean because you know so much about men don’t you?” Jaz snorted, giving her friends a look that made them laugh.
Next to me I felt Indy quiver
“At least I don’t cheat on my boyfriend behind his back,” Indy whispered.
“That’s because you don’t have a boyfriend my dear,” Jaz commented snidely. “And I’m pretty sure if you did, he’d be the one cheating on you. But what’s this? No boyfriend? Oh yeah you’ve scared off the entire male population and you get laughed at behind your back. Face facts, you’re going to end up sad and alone….but then you’re used to that aren’t you?”
Next to me I saw Indy take a deep breath, turn of her heel and push her way back through the crowd. Turning round to call her back, she disappeared before I could so much as grab her.
“Indy,” I called to her back as she pushed some second years out of her way to their indignation.
Sad, dejected and depressed was something I’d never seen Indy before. That was my general state of mind and usually she was the one cheering me up. What Jaz had said had obviously triggered something she’d been keeping secret.
“God she’s pathetic,” Jaz’s voice scoffed behind me. “I guess I’ve found her weak spot….even she must realise she’s sad and alone and that no boy will ever touch her.”
Before I knew what I was doing, I’d spun round. Blinded by a haze of fury I felt my arms push forward and make contact with my step sister, using all my strength to knock her from her superior perch. In slow motion I heard the crowd gasp as she fell through the air, spilling her drink and hitting the ground.
A pair of strong arms picked me up from behind as I rushed forward, hands formed into claws and ready to do damage. Gripping me tightly, the pulled me back from her as the Weasley Twins began jumping up and down yelling, ‘cat fight! cat fight!’
“Eugh, get off, get off!” I snapped, kicking and twisting as I was carried to the opposite corner of the common room. Dumped unceremoniously on the floor, I turned round, leapt to my feet and was ready to hit my captor.
“You!” I hissed as I found myself confronted by a towering angry Scotsman. “How dare you, let me back at her!” I launched myself forward, attempting to go back and finish what I’d started.
“Oh no you don’t you little menace,” he hissed back. Grabbing hold of my arms he blocked my attack and pushed me back to the wall. “No more fighting, just stand there and calm down.” Around us the crowd seemed captivated by our little exchange, all eyes on this mad geek and the burly Quidditch player.
“Nothing to see hear folks,” Wood told them, “just a little situation that got out of hand. Just go back to your conversations and let her calm down,” he indicated with his hands for them to go away.
“Out of my way,” I snapped, raising my fists as the chattering around us began again.
“Oh please, like that’s going to work,” he scoffed, indicating his admittedly impressive physique. Any blows I landed him would undoubtedly not do much damage.
“I need to finish her off; she needs to be taken down!”
“You’re being completely childish. You just knocked her to the ground…are you out of your mind? Don’t you realise how stupid that was? Jaz could have taken you down like that,” he snapped his finger.
“I’m scrappy, I could have taken her,” I snapped. It was nice to see he had so much faith in my fighting capabilities.
“I severely doubt that,” he scoffed. “If she didn’t scratch your eyes out – and after that attack she would be justified – then she’s quite happily have seen you punished in other ways. Attacking the queen bee of the school is only going to end badly.”
Wait…..was he, in some way, protecting me then? He’s just taken me out of the line of fire and instead of seeing how his girlfriend was….he was here with me.
What was that about?
“Why do you always end up with me in these situations rather than with her?” I asked.
“Because she doesn’t start these fights. She wasn’t the one who launched herself and started the attack. You need to be lectured. It’s not on Ella – you can’t keep acting like a spoilt child everytime you come near Jaz!”
“Did you not hear what she said to my best friend,” I hissed.
“That’s not the point here!”
“It’s every bloody point of all the points in the whole frigging universe!” I snapped. “Your girlfriend continually victimises people and you don’t see it. Just because I stand up for the underdog I get attacked. How is that fair?”
“Because you give back just as much as she does. You are far more similar than you care to realise and if she has a go at you, you are just as horrible to her!”
“Why do you keep sticking up for her? I didn’t realise she bargained compliments for sexual favours!”
“Why can’t you give her a break sometimes?” Wood said, running a hand through his hair. “I know you don’t get on but when she’s at least being civil to you then you could try and be civil in return and take that broom out of your behind!”
That was the second time someone had commented on that today. Did people think I had some weird broomstick or wood fetish or something? Perhaps I had the latter in a bizarre boy shaped form, but I didn’t really see how it contributed to the former impression….
“Jaz, being nice?” I scoffed. “Jaz as I have frequently told you is pure evil. You, as a male species, are oblivious to her venus fly trap tentacles that spread misery to us poor common folk. You may see her being nice but in reality she was laying down the foundations for a deadly attack.”
“Jaz has her faults but that’s no reason for you to constantly attack her!” Wood growled.
“Oh come on! The only reason you haven’t seen her true colours is those rose tinted spectacles you’re wearing. I could tell you stuff about her that would make your hair curl and severely alter your opinion of her!”
“God, I can’t people you’d sink so low as to start telling tales about your sister-“
“STEP – sister!”
“Fine, fine, step sister then! Talking about her behind her back is just as bad, if not worse, of what you are accusing her of. I don’t want to hear whatever you’ve got to say about her because I don’t care. It’s what I think of her that’s matters in our relationship, not what you think. So please restrain yourself and don’t start telling me things I don’t want to hear.”
“Well she really has you well trained I see,” I mumbled sarcastically. I longed to unleash all of Jaz’s secrets and make him face facts about how evil she really was but all that was going to happen would be it backfiring on me. He didn’t like back stabbing and gossiping and if I stooped low enough to insult Jaz then it would just ruin his perception of me.
And I really didn’t need that when I may, perhaps, sort of like him.
So once again Jaz won. I keep quiet and Wood doesn’t know how evil she is and stays with her, I tell him the truth and he hates me.
“She’s just evil,” I muttered under my breath.
“There is no getting through to you on this subject is there?” he groaned, ruffling his hair again. This did not help my concentration; it merely distracted me with its annoying attractiveness. “Jaz isn’t perfect but you both need to learn to get along. There are going to be millions of people in the world you don’t like but you have to get along with them to get anywhere. You may as well start with her.”
In any other moment I would find his integrity and the fact he wanted to stick with his girlfriend, despite her past, as commendable. Right now though it was just plain annoying.
“Pft,” I muttered derisively, crossing me arms and scowling.
“You know, for someone who says they are so clever you are the narrowest minded, infuriating and bitter person I have ever met!” He exploded. “Being opinionated will only get you so far before you isolate every single person in the world! Then where will you be? Because I’m pretty certain you won’t be happy!”
“Are you telling me I need to make nice to people to gain my own happiness? Be nice to the people who enjoy calling me names?” I raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Pft, not going to happen.”
I was not going to sit back and smile at the people who broke my heart. No way, nada.
“Look,” he grabbed my shoulders with his arms and leaned in to look me in the eye. “She’s my girlfriend and through some bizarre twist of fate you’ve become part of my life as well…..in a vaguely friend-like-infuriating-me-constantly capacity. You’re both important to me, so can you for my sake try and get on?” He looked at me hopefully.
But right then I was too entranced by his close proximity and the minty tang of his breath. His firm pressure on my shoulders and his body heat sent tingles down my spine whilst the intense gaze he pinned with made my body turn into a giddy melted pool of emotions. So really, paying attention to what he was actually saying was far too hard when it was I could do to tear myself away from his physical presence.
Saying that I was important to him and that I was a friend almost made the little romantic girl I kept locked away start down somersaults in my stomach. I was important? Surely that was progress. It meant that I meant something…I wasn’t just a fleeting acquaintance, I had instead carved myself a little place in his life and I meant something. I meant something.
“Look Ella you aren’t perfect yourself – no one in this world is perfect. You go out of your way to annoy and insult people, you don’t make any effort whatsoever and you make a lot of your own misery. So don’t judge Jaz without judging yourself. But if you want to be the better person you could at least give her a chance.”
His words jolted me from the happy dance exploding throughout my body. I wasn’t perfect….I ruined my own life? Whatever happiness I’d felt at his previous words, his new comments made me feel as if I’d been dunked in ice cold water.
There’s nothing more painful than being told you aren’t perfect. I mean, I did know I wasn’t….but at the same time I didn’t want to hear that from the guy I sort of liked. It made me feel hollow, unwanted and crushed. When you like someone they aren’t meant to mention that you aren’t perfect, they are meant to make you feel as though you are. Instead here I was, having my heart stamped on.
How many times was I going to go through this? Yeah I knew I had more faults than anyone else in the world and that I needed serious improvement, but did he really see me in such a bad light?
And if he did then why was I wasting me energy thinking of him as more than a friend?
“So can you please give her a chance, for me?” he repeated, staring at me with deep brown eyes.
The sort you want to melt into.
“Um….er….ok,” I blinked rapidly and gave a small nod. Anything to get away from him right then and to the safety of loneliness. “Now if you don’t mind letting me go, I think it’s time I went to find Indy.”
Holding up his hands, he backed away and let me pass. More than anything I wanted him to lean forward and capture my lips with his but when do wishes ever come true?
Nodding to him quietly, I skirted passed him as the common room erupted into cheers as the twins elected to embark on a break dance showdown. Percy Weasley, screamed something about health and safety as he fought his way to interfere but was held back.
I saw Jaz hanging around nearby, a touch of doubt tingeing her beautiful features.
“You’re safe,” I said softly as I passed her, “I didn’t say anything to him.”
And with that, I walked to the portrait hole to find my best friend.
The astronomy tower, a notable scene for so many romantic trysts, was where I ended my night. Not in a heated romantic clinch with the boy of my dreams, but on a cool night of self reflection.
Having hunted for Indy for the passed hour I eventually found her sat alone, staring out at the world as she took deep and troubled breaths.
Swinging my legs over the side of the beam I plonked myself down next to her and gazed out over the scenery. The night air was crisp and the sky a black canvas dotted with stars. It was the sought of setting that would inspire great moments in your life, that poets would rave about in great works. Awe inspiring it made you feel like that perhaps you could achieve anything if something to so beautiful as this could exists, untarnished.
But then again, we were teenagers and achieving anything was always hampered by angst.
Indy didn’t register my presence next to her; she merely continued staring out into her sea of troubles. The breeze teased her hair as the rest of her sat dejected and quiet. As the silence extended in quiet companionship I realised this was the quietest I’d ever seen Indy. In all other emotions she was loud, boisterous and mouthy…but when she was sad, that’s when she couldn’t seem to find out how to express herself. Sullenly quiet and depressed I did…..Indy, not so much. It was weird.
“Am I a horrible person?” I queried.
“Mad, bad and slightly sarcastic….biting wit and a devils temper aside, no you aren’t a horrible person. You can be a bit moody occasionally and during certain times of the month you could give a dragon a run for its money….but honestly? You’re my best friend in the whole world and I wouldn’t want to be without you.”
A small smile touching my lips I looked across the scenery. Indy and I didn’t really do heartfelt, emotional exchanges; it was too much about revealing your soul and opening up the wounds you hadn’t let heal. I guess deep down we both had scars and we preferred to deal with them ourselves.
But even the most isolated person occasionally needs a friend.
“Thanks,” I said. “I think you’re quite nice yourself.”
She gave me a fleeting smile before returning to staring at her shoes. She swung her feet back and forth, her heels kicking against the stone wall beneath her.
“Why did you ask? You don’t usually care what people think.”
“Who says I care now?”
She turned to me slowly and gave me a pointed look.
“People are always telling me I’m rubbish, I’m a loser, I’m ugly and I’m a freak….whatever insult you can create I’ve probably heard it at some point. You spend your life trying to believe that they are at fault and not you. I guess after awhile you begin to wonder whether they aren’t all right after all. Perhaps I am all these things people keep saying I am….perhaps I am the problem and if I am then what on earth am I meant to do?” I sighed.
“Do you want to do anything?”
“I honestly don’t know. If people can’t appreciate me for who I am then what’s the point in them? But at the same time I think it’s partly my fault and at the end of the day I want someone to smile at me in the corridor rather than hurl insults at me. If that means I have to grow a thicker skin and be less offensive then maybe it’s a small price to pay. What do you think?”
“Don’t change who you are,” she smiled a small smile. “But don’t let them win. Prove that they aren’t going to get you down and walk stronger, taller and prove that you are a thousand times better than them. Just don’t look back on your time here with any regret.”
“Is that why you’re up here tonight instead of at the party? Are you looking back with regret? Cos Indy sitting alone away from a roomful of boys is not normal behaviour for you,” I joked, hoping to draw her away from her shell.
But it merely made any trace of a smile vanish and her shoulders slump further.
“It’s not regret at what’s happened, just disappoint and a lack of understanding.” She sighed. “A wondering over when things are going to work out.”
“Preaching to the converted here,” I said wryly and patted her on the shoulder. “What happened tonight? What made you such a cynic….usually that’s reserved for me?”
“I guess it’s as you said,” she murmured. “Periods of self reflection make you analyse your life and wonder where you’re going wrong. I know there’s more to life than having a boyfriend but sometimes you want someone there who will compliment you and make your day a little bit more romantic.”
“I can put on a deep voice and call you pretty if you really want,” I offered.
“Whilst that’s very kind of you,” she smiled, “it’s not the same and you know it. I’ve seen how you look at Wood when he comforts Jaz and I know full well you’d give anything to be in her position. Humans are sociable creatures and we’re not meant to be alone. I just wonder where I’m going wrong.”
“We’re not even 16 yet we can’t expect to meet our future husbands just yet. Just because we like people doesn’t mean it’s meant to be,” I expelled a deep breath, “however much we wish it was. We just need to wait to grow up.”
“The thing is you spend years waiting to grow up and then for some reason being old is never as good as it seems. We’re always thinking, ‘great we can control our own lives’ but the reality is that as soon as you start to do stuff that actually matters everything goes downhill. Getting responsibility merely equates to making life rubbish.” She sighed and rubbed her temple as if it hurt her to think about life.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, the distant sounds of nightlife from the forest and the chatter of voices the only music in the night air.
“You know,” I said sighing. “We really must be the two most cynical 16 year old girls in existence.”
“I’d rather be cynical than go through life thinking everything’s perfect. I used to think that, guess I was wrong.” She kicked the wall and looked across the universe. “I think maybe love is just something someone created to scam people out of money or something, like an elaborate ad campaign. It’s something you’re meant to see and want but you’re not actually told how to get it.”
Right then I could have throttled Jaz. Again. She’s managed to reduce my best friend to a cynical mess whose dreams about love had been tarnished by harsh words. She didn’t deserve to have her goals in life and her ideas about love stamped upon. Especially by Jaz who wouldn’t know love if it smacked her in the face.
“You’ll find love,” I slung an arm around her shoulder in companionship. “Don’t listen to Jaz; she doesn’t understand what having a heart means. Love does exist, just sometimes we have to hunt around for it in the dark, knocking stuff over in the meantime. You’ll find it because it’s there somewhere.”
“I don’t like you being so insightful and concerned,” she muttered. “It’s disconcerting.”
“Occasionally I can be useful to your emotional needs, however much of a hard hearted and emotionless person the world considers me to be,” I grumbled.
“I don’t consider you emotionless – I’ve seen you in a temper remember – I just realise that talking about boys and stuff isn’t really you.”
“True,” I conceded.
“But I appreciate it anyway,” she smiled. “You trying to cheer me up.”
As I sat with my arm around Indy and my head on her shoulder I couldn’t help but think that perhaps being cynical was all I was destined to be in life. Perhaps there are some people in the world who do not experience happiness and as such cannot see it around them. They become distrustful and heartbroken and believe that people are cruel and selfish. Did this make me a bad person or merely someone who was honest with herself?
“You know a good friend will bail you out of Azkaban, but a best friend will sit with you and say, ‘damn we screwed up’. I guess that’s what we’re doing now,” I shrugged.
“You wouldn’t bail me out of azkaban,” Indy muttered. “You’d be the reason I ended up there.”
“Surely it would be you and you’re half assed plans that got us there in the first place,” I said, my lips twitching into a smile.
“Dunno,” she murmured. “If you continue to be so understanding and emotional for much longer I’ll think you’re an impostor and be forced to harm you to save the world.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at that.
“You know I’m fed up with people not taking us seriously,” she sighed.
“I think perhaps it’s time we had a makeover. Not the, ‘let’s get boys to have sex with us’ type of makeover. No, we need a good change in our lives without extremely altering what makes us us.” I pondered.
“You mean a ‘let’s finds happiness within ourselves’ type makeover,” she queried, intrigued.
“Yeah….out with the bad points, embrace the good points. I think the time has come for us not to lie down and take whatever the gits of the world throw at us. Maybe it’s time to establish ourselves as players in the world order. It’s not about changing our appearances or becoming popular clones but just finding out who we are if that doesn’t sound too clichéd.”
“I think any time of speech about conquering ourselves is going to sound clichéd,” she pointed out.
“True….” I shrugged. “But I think we can do this….prove to everyone that being treated like rubbish is not going to wash with us anymore. It’s time to take a stand for the unpopular amongst us!”
“The reign of the geek is about to come.”
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write and I’m not sure it’s very good. My longterm boyfriend broke up with me on Christmas Eve and it’s been a bit hard to write with any concentration to what I’m putting down on the screen. But onto less depressing topics.
Anywhoo I’m hoping that this will allow me to divert my attentions back to this lovely website! I’m also sorry that this chapter is short, but I didn’t want to give too much away too soon – it had to finish here for the next few chapters to work. Plus I think both Ella and I needed to get some self reflection off our chests.
All your reviews mean so much to me so please review – it would be lovely to hear from you all J
ALSO the new chapter is being started right now as I have very little work atm, so keep posted for more!
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Comrade in Arms
by Estelle Black