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Chapter 32 : Hogsmeade Camping Trip, Part Two
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It’s the middle of December, and it’s raining. Explain that to me.
It didn’t even rain this much on my birthday, and we practically had a tsunami storm of wind and hail and rain the whole second week of December. My seventeenth birthday was on the 10th, and even though I didn’t celebrate it much, Jessica tried making my day ‘metaphorically sunny’ which I didn’t understand. She made me try to dap dance, do yoga, and eat cucumbers. Something about happy and healthy living…
Needless to say, my 17th birthday wasn’t much different than any other day of the year. There just wasn’t anything memorable about it. I think in the beginning of the year I was excited, but I didn’t feel different when I woke up. I guess I just brushed it off. But for some reason I keep linking back to my birthday this month. The only thing that really sticks out to me from that day was when I passed James in the hall and he muttered a ‘happy birthday’ to me swiftly before passing me by. It was… surreal, so I kept walking and ignored it.
Not sure why, but whenever I’m having a bland day this month, I connect it to my past birthday. How weird is that? I’m sure that’s some sort of disease. I mean, it’s pretty sad when you’re reminded of your not-so-really happy birthday on days when you’re feeling crappy. Not sure why I’m thinking about this all of a sudden, because I don’t feel that crappy per se, it’s just a shitty day. Know what I mean, dude?
Just… one of those days.
It’s Saturday afternoon, and after a day full of in-door activities with my Muggle Studies class, we’ve been given some free time. So far, the course work has been nothing but observing natural habitats and writing of our experience in the wilderness so far. The intellectual side of me would like to point out that we have a roof over our heads and something I’d like to call plumbing, but I’ve refrained from writing such comments on my assignments sheets. Not so sure how we’re supposed to connect with nature and appreciate living in the wilderness when we’re living in such a domesticated environment. Do you know want to know what I wrote?
On my paper, I just listed simple bullet points of how relaxing it is to be surrounded by nature and what it would be like to not live in a building but on a dirt floor. Yeah, that’s the best I got. I’ll probably get an S on my paper. Yes, an S… as in S for STUPID, because I completely bullshitted my answers.
I’d usually be up for some assignment course work in Muggle Studies but I’ve been in such a blah mood that I can barely focus during our nature tours. When our Seventh Year cabin mother helped show us how to make a campfire, she explained the use of sticks and how the friction between the sticks sparks a fire. The planks of wood were soaked from a light morning mist of rain that started last night around midnight, so she was just rubbing wet logs together for 40 minutes. I just… stared at her.
My both my eyes started to twitch.
And I had the strangest urge to just take those two moist wooden sticks out of her hands and throw them across the forest and yell at her: THIS IS NOT WORKING, YOU IGNORAMOUS. THEY ARE WET. THOSE WET WOODEN STICKS ARE WET. NO FIRE. YOU MAKE ME TWITCH. GO TAKE A NAP OR SOMETHING.
Luckily, I said nothing of the sort. I just sat on a semi-wet bench near the camping grounds with Jessica as she filled me in on her rendezvous with Frank. Basically, they snogged the whole time. But somehow murmured to each other that they wanted to be together but Jessica was just scared. To be completely blunt, I was quite surprised by how honest Jess was when she told me this. She’s the type to dodge intimidating confrontations, but she told me everything crisp and clear. She said that he gave her this strange look when she told him she wanted to wait, but nodded his head and they resumed snogging. So it was like a mutual understanding, but Frank still wants to be in a relationship.
The fan girl in me was just flailing around, let me tell ya! I didn’t expect Frank to be so open to being together, with no argument attached. He seemed quite understanding, from what Jess told me. Although they’re going to meet up again and have a heart to heart later on, after dinner I think. Their apparent snog session was interrupted because they heard people walking by (as in students… like James). They didn’t get to see each other all day today, though; all three of us were separated into different group activities. I haven’t even seen the marauders at all, and they’re in our class. Well, I did see James from across the camp because we were sort of gazing but that’s just irrelevant.
But anyways, back to my reaction on their relationship…
Of course (being the wonderful friend that I am), when I heard that Jessica told Frank she was scared, I poked her in the eyelid and asked her what the hell was wrong with her. I mean, here she had Frank Longbottom at her mercy, in the middle of a snog session, and she tells him that she’s hesitant of making their relationship exclusive?! The nerve of that woman! The lengths that I’ve gone to prep her for a good conversation with this boy, and she blows it…
I’m in our cabin at the moment, actually, waiting for Jessica to return from the lavatory. We’ll be having lunch in the dining hall soon (which, in reality, is a small tent that was charmed to turn into a humongous Great Hall replica). I’m staring out the window, looking at the lack of sun on the horizon.
I don’t know what to think about.
I feel like I should care more. About everything and anything. I should care more about Frank and Jessica, I should care more about the long gazes James and I shared through out the day today, I should care more about myself. Merlin, I’m 17 years old and all I could reminisce about today, was how shitty it was - and how it reminded me of my bland birthday! I’m such a downer. I just don’t get it.
I don’t have any excitement in me, nor the ability to really care about anything at all. My limbs feel tired, and I barely paid attention to my Muggle Studies professor when she gave us a lesson about tree climbing. My brain is turning into mush, I tell you. If we have a test on tree climbing, I’m going to have to rent and watch every jungle inspired-film there is.
Should I be worried? When there’s a lack of enthusiasm in your life, what do you do? And no, I will not be drinking copious amounts of really scary looking energy drinks to get happier.
Jessica enters our cabin with a swift closing of our door. There are sprinkles of raindrops all around her coat and her face. I turn to her with an amused expression.
“How was the jog?”
She sighs. “They could have put the lavatories a little closer than, say, the far end of Moscow.” She unties her hair tie and shakes the wetness from her hair, weaving her fingers across her scalp.
“At least you got to use the bathroom and get a shower on the way back.” This would be me making a pathetically snarky comment.
“Oh, har-har-har. Mrs. Sarcasm’s been spitting out lines like that all day, hasn’t she?” Jessica replies, referring to me and my need of a melodramatic life style.
“Me… Sarcastic? Never.”
She rolls her eyes knowingly and removes her jacket, letting it plop on the floor next to my bed. Taking a seat next to me, she gazes out the window I’ve just spent the past few minutes looking through.
“Anything interesting? I reckon your window gives the closest thing to a bird’s eye view of the whole camping ground. This is like a sniper’s niche. Except, you know, you kill people with your narrowed eyes instead of heavy weaponry. What have you seen? And killer squirrels? Secret snogs? Naked boys running back from the lavatory?”
“No, no, and… Thankfully, no.”
I’ve just been staring at people walking by.
“Wow,” I say to myself. “I think I’m turning into a cat lady prematurely. And I don’t even own a single cat.”
Jessica turns to me and shifts her weight. “Do you mean to tell me that you are so painfully lonely and in need of a social life, that the only thing that gives your soul any kind of meaning is the petting of furry animals that shit in deodorized sand?”
“Mate, that’s pathetic,” she automatically responds.
I inhale a really big breath and just collapse onto my bed.
“Oh, don’t go all desperate ugly swan on me. You’ve been mellow all day! And I love it when you’re mellow, I really do, don’t get me wrong - but I can’t stand this. Not one smile, not a single show tune sung, not even one gasp during my Frank tell-all! Has someone sucked the life out of you?” Jessica’s worried face instantly appears above me as she’s taken it upon herself to get up and talk to me, with her face just hovering above mine, in an upside down manner from where I’m laying down on my bed.
I’m slightly terrified by the visual but shake it off. I have good shock absorbers.
“I was thinking about it, too. My mojo… it’s gone, isn’t it?”
I agree with Jess. Something has taken the life out of me. Today has definitely been lackluster and I feel like I should be more content or happy or…something. It’s like my mind is just constantly droning.
“Are you sad about something?” She fruitfully starts questioning, jumping up and down on my bed.
“Not quite. I mean… I don’t know. Should I be?” My body is going to smack into the ceiling fan at the rate she’s jumping.
“Well, maybe you’re expecting something. Maybe you’re waiting for something exciting to happen and you’re body is just conserving energy until you feel content enough to use it.”
Am I a robot?
“Jess, you know what’s weird? The last time I felt like this, it was on the tenth of December.” I try to grip the sides of my bed frame as my body is being trampolined by my best friend, but as soon as I get a good hold of my furniture, the jumping stops.
Jessica looks worried. “You’re birthday?” She climbs off my bed, a tad bit frazzled. She stands in front of me and asks again, “You’re birthday?”
I sit up. “Oh, sodding-”
“AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?”
“You were trying so hard to make it fun and I didn’t want to ruin your groove-”
“I thought it was just period cramps, but you felt like THIS on your-”
“Bloody, let’s calm down, it’s not a big deal-”
“Why did you feel like that on your birthday!? This is so upsetting, Lily! How could you feel that way? Birthdays are the one day of the year where you get to celebrate the day you burst out of your mother’s uterus!”
“Oh, well when you say it like that,” I continue sarcastically.
“…your BIRTHDAY!” Here come the waving of the hands. “The day you slid out of the tube of life, I mean come on - you turned seventeen!”
“You’ve shown me the true beauty of child birth,” is my smart ass reply but she isn’t listening. She’s too busy figuring out what I’ve just told her - and now I remember why I didn’t tell her in the first place.
“Details,” my best friend quips, waving off the brashness of her words. “You know what I’m saying… But oh my God, you felt like this on your birthday…”
Great, now she’s putting her hands on her face and has begun pacing in front of me.
“It’s really not a big deal. I mean, I enjoyed myself-”
She stops pacing immediately and whips her head around at me, her newly fixed (and still wet) ponytail flying. “I made you do yoga.”
I breathe in, thinking to myself as my eyes stare up toward the wall. “Yes… yes, you did… it wasn’t bad, I think-”
“I’M A HORRIBLE FRIEND!”
“Would you calm down?”
She grabs me by the shoulders. “I made you do the downward dog,” she whispers to me intensely. “I cannot calm down. I should have made it better! Made you happy! We could have magically tied Sirius Black’s shoe laces together and see him fall! We could have… I don’t know, we could have- oh, we could have shaved off James Potter’s eyebrows! Remember? That was on your List!”
Hah! That was on my Lily List. Wow, I completely forgot about The LL.
“I knew you shouldn’t have stored that list away in your trunk, we’ve had so many opportunities to have fun, and the one day of the year that really mattered to you… we did nothing special.”
I purse my lips, suddenly sad by the amount of guilt written over my best friend’s face. “Jessica, it’s not your fault. It’s me. You shouldn’t make yourself my secretary, it’s not your responsibility to make sure I have fun.”
“Of course it is!”
I pat the a seat next to me and tell her to listen to me. Frazzled, she takes up the offer.
“For the record, I wasn’t much fun to be around on my birthday to start with, which brings me to today. I’m just… not in the mood for anything. I’m having a blah day. I should be allowed to have those. And you should calm down, because I didn’t have a bad birthday and I’m not blaming you for making me do the downward dog. It was an awkward position for me, not gonna lie, but I didn’t fall on my face.”
She absorbs my words slowly and after a while she speaks again. “I honestly thought you just wanted to celebrate your birthday quietly - I didn’t know you felt so blah. There’s a difference between not wanting to do something crazy for your birthday, and just not being excited about it. I would have made your seventeenth birthday more memorable if I knew you were feeling a bit down. Now I just feel like a git,” she confesses, shoulders slumped. “Lily, I should be able to sense these things.”
I put an arm around her. “I had a memorable birthday. I spent it with you. I was happy. I was! I just felt… empty. It’s an internal thing, babe. Nothing to do with how we celebrated my seventeenth birthday. It just so happened that I felt that way on the tenth of December, and as irony would recall, it happened to also be the day my mother spit me out of the tunnel of creation.”
“Tube of life,” she corrects, with a smile on her face.
“Tube of life,” I roll my eyes.
It’s quiet for a while as we think about our discussion, along with all the words we’ve just exchanged.
“So we’re okay?” She puts her head on my shoulder.
I shake my head impossibly. This girl is nuts. “We were never NOT okay, silly. Get that idea out of your mind. It’s just another day where I don’t have any life in me. Another Saturday with no mojo.”
“That worries me.”
“Because even though I couldn’t detect it on your birthday, you’ve felt like this before. And it was always before something really bad or really emotional happened.”
“Huh,” I nod in agreement. “I never looked at it like that before.”
“Are you kidding?” Jessica looks me in the eyes. “I’ve only seen you this mood one other time before, but it was much more watered down.”
My eyebrows mesh together in confusion. “When?”
“When you kissed James for the first time.”
What am I supposed to say to that?
“Ah. Why, do you think…?”
“I don’t know, you tell me,” she bumps my shoulder. “Something on your mind? Are you worried about something? Worried about you and James?”
It takes me a moment to respond.
“I don’t know.”
Lunch was pleasant enough. There were green beans and cabbage and other earthly vegetables galore; it was practically herbivore city. The replica of the Great Hall was really spot on! They were working on it this morning and were tweaking it here and there since Muggle Studies classes got sorted into groups. It was like a clone of the real thing! Except for, you know, the actual size. They could only copy it so much. The inside of the tent was maybe 1/3rd of the real Great Hall. But if you think about it, it’s still an amazing structure. It fit’s the whole camp.
Is that what we are? A camp?
An emotion similar to distaste washes over me. I feel like a girl scout.
Jessica, Emma, Remus, Frank, Pete, and I are sitting around near the grounds, sitting in front of a calmly lit fire. The rain has subsided, but because of the misty winter air and the dark depths of the forest, the sun is barely visible. A few other 6th and 7th years from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw join us.
So obviously the inevitable missing people are no longer missing. Sirius comes treading towards us after a while, with James behind him. Oh - excuse me. My mistake.
With James and his girlfriend, behind him.
Sirius and James both have black hoodies on, both looking at their feet. They’ve always had a similar taste. They mimic each other a lot. The only difference between them is that Sirius has his long hair poking out of his hood, and he’s actually smiling. Well, smiling at Emma. James is looking completely passive. Leslie’s latched around his arm, trying to keep up with James and Sirius’ strides up the hill. Once I get a clear view of all three people, I glance at her feet.
The tart’s wearing heels.
Trip on a twig, trip on a twig, trip on a twig…
I have to say, seeing James with her after last night makes me feel like the cheapest chick ever. I feel guilty, but at the same time, disappointed. I have my suspicions on their relationship, sure, but there’s something out of the usual. I don’t know, after his heart to heart last night, I can see him a bit better - my eyes can sort of see him, the lines aren’t as blurred anymore. That doesn’t make any sense.
I wish I could explain it.
“Hey,” Sirius greets Emma with a kiss. He plops down next to her on the log.
Leslie pretends I’m not here and James says, “Hi.”
I try to smile back at him, but my lips only half develop something of a smile after I turn my head and look away.
Irregardless of what I feel for him, I’ve always felt uneasy with her and James in such close proximities. Something isn’t right. I hate to speculate but there’s a serious problem. And the more I see them together the more I feel like I’m ruining his life. Like he’s cheating on me with her. And not even in that sense - like he’s living the life he wants to live when he’s around me. Because when he’s with Leslie…
He doesn’t look alive.
Last night really opened my eyes. Last night was real, and this is the first time all day where he’s actually stood within a 2 feet radius of me. The hours we spent on my cabin steps…we couldn’t stop talking, laughing, sharing. It was like the last six years were just a blur and we just picked up our friendship from where we left off when we were eleven.
“So how was your group work today?” Emma courteously asks Leslie, being the kind hearted woman of the hour that she is.
“It was okay,” she shrugs back, taking her hands out of her pockets. Did I just see an acorn fall out of her pocket? “I spent most of it running from this stupid squirrel-”
Sirius hacks up a lung and all eyes turn to him. His eyes dart to me and then to James, before continuing on his coughing fit.
“A squirrel?” Frank asks, intrigued by the idea. At this point the only thing louder than the cackling fire is Sirius Black’s cackling fit; did saliva go down the wrong pipe?
As Emma tends to her boyfriend’s needs by rubbing his back, Leslie begins to elaborate by going off on her usually wordy and expressive tangents containing very big words.
“Yeah,” she exhales loudly, popping gum into her mouth.
Some like to call it banter.
I like to call it sarcasm.
“I’m sorry…what?” My best friend perplexingly asks, leaning forward.
There go Sirius’s eyes again, looking alarmed. He tries to swallow a bit but the mixed messages he’s giving to Remus and Peter and James are stopping him from calming down. I narrow my eyes in his direction almost naturally.
“Yeah, I mean, it just came at me. It was following me for like, an hour,” Leslie smacks away at her gum before continuing. “So we were, like, going through that tour in the woods, yeah? And this stupid animal practically pounces on me.” She recalls the memory immediately and starts to paint us a useless picture. And I swear I see another nut fall out of her other pocket as she heatedly starts tapping her foot on the wet ground. I must be loopy.
I zone out after she smacks her gum in my face for the third time. It’s like an ocean wave knocking my feet out from under me. Am I having a migraine?
Sirius has calmed down a bit, but James Potter’s face is anything but passive. He’s staring at his best friend with his jaw cocked to the side, as if to say ‘wow, REALLY?’, unlike Remus and Pete who have caught on faster than I have. They’re both giggling to themselves.
While his girlfriend continues to rant on about animal abuse, James tries to hide the fact that he’s in close proximities with her. He takes a few steps back and looks off.
This confuses me even more!
The buzzing in my ears just gets bigger as I look up to find Leslie barking out about the stupid squirrel that wouldn’t leave her alone. Her arms starts flailing around, and before you know it, she’s stomping back and forth, practically ranting, about how Squirrels should go to hell. And damn it, another circular shaped object, resembling an acorn, falls from her pocket. I think she should sew that hole at the bottom.
My eyelids droop a bit, but alas, before they close all the way…I get a glimpse of someone.
Emma Tebbon…Who has just had her ear whispered into by her boyfriend Sirius Black, after his swift recovery from temporary emphysema.
From the corner of my eye, although my brain’s fuzzy volume signals are on mute, I can practically hear the silence going through her brain as wind goes through one ear and out the other. Emma doesn’t move for a moment, and her WTF face I know and love makes it debut.
“And so then, I like, kicked it square in the face because I mean, IT WAS STALKING ME AND I KNOW I’M PRETTY BUT I’M NOT INTO ANIMALS-”
Emma looks absolutely scandalized. And not by Leslie Toudren, but by her boyfriend, who looks snootily apologetic although not really.
“AND I READ ONE TIME THAT SOMETIMES ANIMALS CAN, LIKE, MATE OR WHATEVER, AND I DON’T WANNA BE-”
Sirius Black’s infamous marauder smirk unravels itself. Emma and Sirius are still staring at each other. He looks, dare I say it, proud of himself.
Like a drug induced fiend, I close my eyes and giggle. Like that stoner kid you knew in high school. The one that laughed when he got caught doing something? The one that always fell back in his chair and fell asleep on the floor in public places? Yeah, that’s me right now.
And then I think about it again, in my mind, and it’s still funny. I mean, only Sirius would think of loading Leslie’s jacket with acorns and walnuts and everything of the sort to attract woodland creatures. It’s bloody genius. It’s winter which means that they’re desperate for nuts.
I really try hard to not bring attention to myself by not laughing my bum right off. So I bite my lip to stop from laughing. I look at Frank with a goofy expression, and I bump my shoulder against his as another giggle escapes me.
Frank, who is sitting between Jessica and I, senses my dopiness.
“Hey,” he whispers wearily, zoning out of the conversation, “Are you okay? You look like some stoner kid named Luke that lives near my flat back home. Used to fall asleep on the floor at super markets.”
I try to tune in to him and open my hearing system, but I can’t do that without tuning back into the real world. And the real world has Leslie Toudren bitching out incoherencies about animal domestication and kicking squirrels in the face, making them fly across the camp.
Brings a whole new meaning to the word Flying Squirrel, I’ll tell ya that much.
“I…” My eyes hurt. “I have… I think I have a headache.”
“I heard you giggling,” Frank conveys to me, his eyebrows raising. “Are you huffing paint?”
My face could not be more deadpan than it was before. Really, Frank? Really? Another round of ‘Is Lily on drugs?’ accusation?
“Yes,” I mumble irritably. “I’m huffing bloody paint.”
“No need to be sarcastic,” he grins, shining those pearly whites my way.
“You’re one to talk about the drug connotations. I’m not the one who smokes cigarettes.” Once the sentences escapes through my lips and floats into the air, I go over it in my mind. I become instantly confused as my face displays my emotions. Frank looks amused.
“I don’t think I had logic right there. Did I just make sense?”
“Not really,” Frank fills me in, sighing in fake disappointment. “You had two different logics in that sentence, mate.”
I cover my face with my hands, muffling my speech. My sound system is letting human voices into my brain, as I can hear the conversation over squirrels subsiding. Leslie’s finally shut up, and I gurgle into my palm to stop myself from biting my finger off in front of Frank.
“I’m turning into her,” I wail into my slobbering hand. The mix of my headache and fuzzy brain signals has made my human interaction a somewhat impossible task, I see. Especially when I’m the one trying to talk.
Frank, who obviously knows who I’m referring to, chooses this moment, the pinnacle moment of silence after Leslie’s much heated argument/discussion/uselessness, to burst out in laughter. Leslie snaps her face at Frank, as I cover my eyes with the rest of my wet hand.
Everyone else in the group just surveys us. The sad excuse for a mate called Frank Longbottom next to me scratches the back of his neck nonchalantly, using his poker face. How inconspicuous of him. Say, I must write down some tips. He has that act spot on.
“What were you laughing at?”
“Oh…ah- Hey, look! An acorn!” Frank points out, making everyone look next to Leslie’s shoe. A few hidden chuckles come from the boys, even a wandering glance from Emma.
“An acorn?” Leslie repeats lamely. “You’re laughing at an acorn?”
Leslie dismisses him like a pair of crusty socks, and rolls her eyes. Emma quickly saves the conversation by asking everyone about their holiday plans.
Frank and I resume our quiet conversation from the outskirts of the group. He nudges my arm twice before I look up at him. “For the record, I don’t smoke fags anymore.”
My bottom lip juts out in confusion, as his words slowly sink into me…he doesn’t smoke. Frank doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes anymore. “Wh-what? You quit smoking?!” I whisper harshly, my line of vision becoming more, you know, visual.
Frank smokes every day! All the time! Cigarettes and Frank just mesh well together. Like unicorns and rainbows… and now that I think about it, I should have noticed because he hasn’t smelled like smoke for the past couple of days. Blimey! Has everything become completely incoherent to me?
What. The. Actual. Fu-
“I quit for her.”
My throat does this squirt-y sound mid squish.
I want to say that this is all cute and sunshine-y, and makes me think of the color pink, and dandelions, and lollipops, but I’m just too shocked to really form a sentence. I’m trying to comprehend what I’ve just heard but I honestly can’t believe it.
He shrugs a big shrug, interrupting my mental breakdown. “Well, not exactly for her, per se, but she sort of lead me in the right direction. I just… I decided to beat the addiction. She makes me feel like…”
He trails off and nervously exhales, scratching the back of his head again. I narrow my eyes in suspicion, my smart-ass-ness getting a better hold on me. I cross my arms teasingly, and lean in.
Whatever is going to follow this sentence is going to be GOOD.
He breathes through his nostrils and pulls at his hair. The glance he throws me is verbally challenging my impatient expression. Frank’s tone becomes a bit bitter at my expectant reaction. Or at least, the reaction he’s afraid I am going to have by these words. I’m trying hard not to smirk, I gotta say.
Frank’s face silently says: Don’t even go there, woman.
I lick my lips and try to suck them in to stop my rising cheeks from giving me away.
“She makes me feel like a man,” he says coarsely, in a low whisper. Such a low whisper, in fact, that if it wasn’t for the pause in Emma’s conversation, I wouldn’t have heard him.
He points to his monotonous facial expression. “Does it look like I’m kidding?”
“She…”A chuckle gets by me but I recover quickly, “She makes you feel like a man?”
Merlin, didn’t know my best friend was wearing the pants here.
“Oh, stop smiling- DON’T, don’t do that kiss-y face…” He begs, shoving my plethora of kiss-y faces away with his hands repeatedly. “You disgust me.”
I swat his hands away and smile. “Oh, come on, this is legit! She made you do that? She convinced you to stop smoking? All because she makes you feel like a man….” I sit in awe for a while. “How about that!”
For some reason this makes so much sense. I mean it’s an uplifting quality to have, making someone feel like a man, but it seems like proper logic. Or maybe I‘m still too loopy and I’m getting a fever.
Frank’s already such an adult and if being with the goofy Jessica Finelly is making him mature in ways he didn’t know about, it’s a good thing. It’s a positive thing!
It’s probably the best news I’ve heard all day.
“Yeah,” he exhales loudly, followed by an innocently small smile. “It’s just… I don’t know, I guess I substituted cigarettes for a social life, you know? Kind of filled the void. I mean it’s hard, really REALLY hard… but I’ll get by. I’m not the same Frank I was last year, and cigarettes are things of the past. I’m not some boy anymore. I’ve grown, yeah?”
I look at him with all the patience in the world, and smile to myself. He’s glowing.
“Yeah,” I say back.
Emma Tebbon adjusts the zip on her boyfriend’s hoodie and nuzzles her hands in the pockets. She stares at the flames of the campfire as Jessica, Frank, and I roast marshmallows. All the while watching the boys play around. The sun has set, and the night is young.
“I think I’m insanely infatuated with Sirius.”
Jessica and I momentarily pause our marshmallow feast, and tilt our heads to the side to survey our friend.
“Well you’re dating the man. Shouldn’t you be?” Frank Longbottom interjects, letting his marshmallow catch fire. He watches it burn into a crisp before consuming it whole.
“I-I don’t know. He’s my first real boyfriend and I have such strong feelings for him. What if I’m moving too fast?” The tone in her voice is distressing.
Luckily, having a calm relaxation period, via looking into the fire for the past two hours, has healed me of my goofiness. I am no longer loopy and no longer Migraine-Ville. Thus…I can make sense now. And my logic is telling me not to choke at Emma’s words.
Although the old me probably would be.
“Em, You’re not getting married. You’ve been dating him for months. Okay, well not too many months, but still. What did you think was going to happen? You were going to get over him after a few weeks? Infatuation is part of every relationship,” I state, trying to wipe the gob of melted marshmallow from the side of my mouth.
“Yeah, you make it sound like a bad thing.” Jessica turns her attention to Emma. “Just because he’s your first boyfriend doesn’t mean he has to be a flake. At least you’re having a good first relationship. My first somewhat serious relationship was with a Muggle I met on vacation.” Jessica gives me a nervous glance, and catches Frank staring at her. She rests her eyes on the ground and crosses her arms. “That didn’t exactly turn out too well. And I thought I’d be with him for a while. Don’t worry, Em, you’re relationship’s solid. I wouldn’t worry about moving too fast, it hasn’t even been six months.”
“Should I worry when we reach six months then? Perhaps I should make a re-evaluation chart of our relationship. To, you know, realistically test our strengths.”
I sigh. “Emma Eugenie Tebbon. I’m telling you this once, and only once: don’t worry. Period. Why are you freaking out over liking him so much? You know, companionship is a good thing. Do you want to break up with him or something? Because if you want to find a reason to break up with him, I could list-”
Emma shakes her head vigorously. “No,” she tells us. “No, no, far from it. I just… I feel like it’s too perfect. Like I’m missing some horrible thing that is supposed to accompany having a boyfriend. I feel as if I am missing out on the stressful parts of dating.”
I turn around to look at the marauders who have been playing footie for the past twenty minutes. They’re sweating and running around, having a good time. Laughing, making snide remarks, pushing each other… the works.
Dodging another set of Frank’s awkward glances, Jessica asks Emma the only thing left to ask. “Are you afraid? Seems to me like you’re looking for something bad to happen. Why is that?”
Fear? Emma? I never thought she’d be afraid of boys, to be quite honest. Spiders, yes. Bees, yes. Crusty quidditch knickers, of course. But maybe Jessica has a point. Maybe she’s too freaked out about having such a good relationship with Sirius that she’s convinced something is wrong.
God, why couldn’t we ALL have this problem?
They’re a completely happy couple, and he treats her like a queen. And this is the guy that’s been dating floosies since Third Year; until Emma came around. She’s a real lady, you know. She’s making him try, and he’s really changed.
“Why on earth would you possibly think that being infatuated with your boyfriend is a bad thing?” I blurt, trying to swallow down my quasi-scorching hot marshmallow and at the same time maneuvering it to NOT go down the wrong pipe.
Emma thinks for a moment before staring at us. With the most blank expression I’ve ever seen on her, she confesses, “I feel wonderful.”
Frank and I share a look.
“Then… what’s the problem?” Jessica slowly asks.
Emma’s nervous face gets even more nervous - guilty, even.
“Oh,” Frank announces, coming to a realization. “You’re afraid of falling for him because you think one of you will wreck it,” he wags a finger. “You don’t want to be like one of his past girls.”
Emma goes a bit red, and turns to him. I would probably be going red too. I mean, this chick has such great confidence and I would be more than annoyed if Frank publicly declared how frail I really was. Emma did not want to reveal this side of her. The insecure side.
“Am not!” She harrumphs. Crossing her arms, she takes a few seconds to control herself. But evitable, after a few sighs, and a few long exhales of breath, she turns to us sullenly.
“Okay, maybe,” Emma says in defeat, followed by a shrug. “I’ve turned into a cynic.”
Sweet troll cuticles, what is happening.
“You? A cynic?” The disbelieving words fall disbelievingly out of my mouth. “You’re the poster child for pearls, ruffles, and lace. If you’re a cynic, then I’m Audrey Hepburn.” I raise my eyebrows for effect. Yeah, that’s right, Tebbon. You think about that!
Hah, the logic in that statement was totally plausible, was it not? Ergo, I know what I’m talking about.
I’m so proud of myself.
“I’m afraid to like him more than this, though. I don’t want to take the risk. You know I love flowers, chocolates, romance and all that glorious stuff, but I’m just this tiny little woman!” she cries out, stomping on the ground.
Oh, the amusement plastered on my face right now, really…
“You’re bonkers,” I chuckle dryly..
“Don’t listen to her, she can only relate to people who are mentally unsound,” Jessica quickly intervenes, in which at the same Jessica finishes her statement Frank points to himself.
“Yes, Frank, like you.” Jessica adverts her attention back to Emma. “Listen to me, babe. You’re this delicate little woman, I know. You’re sensitive and you’re passionate, but you’re trying to rationalize whether or not you’re going to last with him by planning on stopping yourself from liking him. The last time I checked, Emma Tebbon wasn’t a defeatist. If you can’t take the risk, then you can’t take the relationship. You make it seem like every couple is oblivious to this. Newsflash, Em, they aren’t. Everyone knows the risks. Hell, I didn’t sign up for this many complications, that’s for sure. It’s not like I purposefully went full throttle with-”
Frank hacks up a lung and starts choking. He’s either foaming at the mouth or the marshmallows have gotten to him.
“Oh my god!” Emma yells, pushing off the log quickly.
All three of us run to his aid. Jessica and I start pounding on Frank’s back as he begs for mercy (but for what kind of mercy I’m not sure), and Emma’s just fidgeting because she’s probably contemplating if he’s foaming at the mouth or if it’s the marshmallows. After deciding to stay out of me and Jessica’s way, she sits back down again.
I personally think that the alarming expression on Frank Longbottom’s face is telling me to stop smacking his back and to stop my best friend from punching his chest…
But who says I’m good at reading people?
“I’m going to go get some water!” Emma shouts to herself, probably trying to convince herself that she can help. She looks at Frank withering on the log across from her, and stands up, and trips on her own two feet looking around for a professor or cabin mother.
I can totally understand the freak out factor though. Not everyone has shock absorbers when it comes to choking and writhing around in pain. I’m used to dealing with people on the verge of death, unlike Emma. Hell, if you were to breathe too loudly in class she’d most likely offer you her cough syrup and make you some tea.
Besides, it’s not like I meant to restrict Frank’s air supply… it just happened!
Emma, baffled at the sight she is seeing, goes to find something for Frank to drink.
After a few minutes, though, Frank’s back on track. “SON OF A FLOCK OF UNICORNS!” He cries out, gasping for air. “I’ve been reborn!”
Do I see tears?
He claws back up the log as Jess and I get up from the dirt ground. After regaining the air back in his lungs, he gives us the death glare. “If you…if you guys were nurses, if you were- I can’t image, you two at bloody St. Mungos… I’d be… I’d be DEAD-”
“I’m not a babysitter, I don’t know the right Heimlich maneuvers!” Jessica points to me, hoping to send Frank’s accusations my way.
My eyes narrow. “Right, Jess. Because I’m sure punching his jugular must have been what saved his life?”
Silly banter gets thrown around before we know it. And sure enough, Frank Longbottom places a shaking hand in between us. He hangs his head low, neck throbbing while still catching his breath, unable to stay still. “I just had a near death experience. Ill-equipped comments between Monica and Rachel are not the first things I’d like to hear.”
A foot ball suddenly comes flying our way and hit’s Frank right in the face.
He goes down like a piece of cooked spaghetti.
Sirius runs back in our direction, away from the guys, and calls out: “OI! Can one of you kick back our-” but he stops demanding us to retrieve the ball once he sees who he’s hit.
Jessica and I are just hovering over Frank, staring at him. I’m afraid to even bend down to look at him. I sure as hell don’t want to be near him when he wakes up. He is going to be bloody pissed.
“Oh.” Sirius raises his eyebrows in a monotonously curious expression. “Er…well that’s not good.”
Jessica glares at him. “Here,” she advises, forcefully throwing back the foot ball to the marauder in front of us, “Get this ball away from me before I kick yours in.”
Only I would have a blah/ordinary/bland/whatever day and have it turned in to this. I don’t have blah/ordinary/bland/whatever days. It’s impossible, isn’t it? One second I’m all calm and sorta bored, then I’m accused of huffing paint because of my loopy migraine symptoms, and now someone chokes and gets hit with a ball.
Peter and James sprint to us.
“Damn it, Padfoot. What the hell did you do?” Peter explodes, throwing his hands in the air.
And James just gives him that look.
“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!”
Remus Lupin runs to our aid and scolds Sirius, before helping Jessica pick up Frank. “Let’s get him to a professor, quick.” Remus shakes his head at his best friend while helping Jessica get a good grip on Frank. Once she's got his legs sort of walking but not actually walking, she stomps off the camp.
I’m still in awe of what’s just happened.
I turn to Sirius Black. “She’ll kill you, you know.”
There’s a momentary pause in conversation, and it gives me a second that I need, to ponder what I’ve just said out loud. James raises his eyebrow at me, as if to say ‘what are you doing?’ and then I realize why that felt so weird to say. No one knows about Frank and Jess.
Sirius scrunches his eyebrows at me in confusion. “Why? Doesn’t she hate him?”
I open my mouth to say something but James promptly comes to my aid. “Yeah, but carrying an unconscious Gryffie around isn’t exactly her ideal way to have fun on a Saturday nigh. It’s Jessica Finelly we’re talking about. If you cause a problem, and she somehow becomes a part of the problem, you’re instantly on her list.”
He does a motion with his left hand resembling a shot gun and Sirius Black’s posture stiffens.
“Aw, great,” Sirius whines, monotonously jutting his upper lip out like Elvis.
“Were you not aware of the fact that you were capable of hitting someone square in the face when you kicked it or-”
He huffs loudly at me. “Evans,” he annoying screeches without moving his lips. “Don’t mock my footie skills. That’s like messing with a dude’s manhood.”
Remus snickers. “That sure as hell says a lot about you.”
We all try not to laugh, as Sirius gets more and more infuriated by the second. Narrowing his eyes automatically, he stares each one of us down.
“I don’t feel comfortable surrounded by you pansies, as I am clearly being made a mockery of-”
“Well no shit,” Peter dryly interrupts. “You kicked the ball at Frank’s head! Where in Godric’s Hollow were you aiming at thing?”
“I have powerful hind legs,” he defends before Peter Pettigrew can finish. “It’s not my fault I can’t control them!”
I lean towards Remus, amused by Sirius Black’s choice of words. “Someone needs to write that down,” I giggle.
He looks at me and stifles a laugh, clearly not discreetly enough, because Sirius’s eye starts twitching
“You guys are making fun of me right under my nose!“
We all shrug, smiling.
“I’m obviously not wanted here,” Sirius desperately sighs, raising his hands in defeat. “Where’s Emma?”
“Last time I saw her, she went that way,” I point behind me.
He walks away from Remus, Peter, James and I in search for his girlfriend (who’s probably still traumatized), while we just lull around for a few moments thinking of things to do to occupy ourselves.
That is, until little miss buzz kill of the year shows up. Yeah, you read right. She’s will her mates galloping around the cabins for some sort of walk or other, and saw us up ahead.
I roll my eyes as conspicuously as I can.
You have got to be kidding me.
“James?” Leslie shouts surprisingly, waving. “James!”
James breathes through his nose briefly, taken off guard. He throws a quick glance at his mates, and at me, before acknowledging Leslie Tebbon.
“Hey,” he says reluctantly.
She does her stupid little prancing thing she does and runs to him. “My friends and I were just getting some air. What are you guys doing?” She turns to all of us suspiciously.
We react like deer in head lights.
“Playing footie,” Peter says.
“Injuring people,” Remus adds.
“Hanging out,” I shrug.
She leans in to kiss him but he moves back slightly, and whispers in her ear. He looks up to lock eyes with his mates before pulling Leslie off to the side.
May I ask what the fuck?
“Oh, boy,” Peter says, bug-eyed.
Remus just stands there.
“I’d like to be in the know,” I point out. “What’s going on?” I glance at Leslie and James, and the air around them seems tense. She’s narrowing her eyes at him while he does all the talking. Something fishy is going on.
Remus takes in a big breath and exhales before responding to me. “I think he’s breaking up with her.”
There’s silence as my mind slowly takes in the fact that this very action is being done in front of me. My head does this spasm thing where I shake my head violently but in small amounts while trying not to be confused.
Peter throws me a mercy look. “We’d explain it ourselves, but it’s not for us to tell you.”
I continue to shake my head at him, shocked as ever. “I don’t know what’s happening right now and I don’t really know why.”
He’s breaking up with Leslie! This is just so random, and I don’t know how I should feel but I feel confused and shocked and thrown under a bus all at the same time. What do I say? How do I stand? Why is he doing this now?
“Oh, you’ll know why,” replies smart ass Remus, with a cocked eyebrow. Peter punches him.
Okay, now I’m nervous. I don’t usually know what to expect with James but if his friends can foreshadow something that I’m unaware of at the moment, I have the right to feel uneasy! It could be good, or bad. Or it could be Switzerland and just stay lumpy.
Leslie bursts like a volcano, sending Remus, Peter, and I back three feet. We stare in bewilderment.
“ARE YOU SERIOUS? WHY? I WANT AN EXPLANATION, YOU SACK OF-”
You should see my retina size right now!
James makes hand motions for her to quiet down but she breathes fire and swats his hands down. “Shhhhhh, calm down-”
“I WILL NOT CALM DOWN!”
“I’d rather not talk about this here, can we just discuss this later?”
Her voice drips with venom when she says, “You’re not going to break up with me and then not tell me why.”
James Potter’s eyes close in irritation.
“TELL ME WHY-!”
“I just can’t be with you!”
Remus, Peter, and I gasp. It’s dead quiet and James hasn’t moved an inch. His hands are still in the air and his eyebrows are still doing that weird frustrated thing. My mouth has formed a big O and my eyebrows have receded into my hairline.
Leslie Toudren is… well, she’s panting. She’s panting?
I blink a few more times.
James’s ex girlfriend throws him a look that could kill baby sea otters everywhere, before turning around and exploding. “YOU!” she points to me.
Bewildered, I point to myself to make sure she’s not making any mistakes. “Me?”
“You are a bitch! This is all your fault!” Leslie stomps over to me. At the same time, Remus and Peter jump behind a log.
“What the fuck!?” I scream, anger boiling through my veins. Oh, this girl…THIS GIRL…
“YOU STOLE HIM FROM ME!”
James runs his hands through his hair, surprised by what he’s done. He paces quickly to Leslie and tries to speak but she’s not having it.
She slaps him, emitting gasps from his mates (you know, the ones currently residing behind the log).
“Don’t slap him!” My teeth are grinding against each other and I want so badly to punch her face in. Who the hell does she think she is, huh? Calling me names for starters; at lease when I call her names I call her names in my head! Not out loud!
Her eyes narrow into a glare.
“And don’t blame me for your relationship problems! HE’S BREAKING UP WITH YOU FOR HIS OWN REASON-”
“I DON’T WANNA HEAR IT!” she roars.
James looks like he’s stepped in a slasher film. “Please, stop yelling-”
“Shut up!” We yell in unison.
Oh, it is on.
“Why do you always feel the need to blame other people for your stupid mistakes, huh, Leslie? Is there a reason you talk behind people’s backs to make yourself appear tall? Why is it that you find joy in putting other people down? Because I honestly-”
“Don’t give me that shit, Evans,” she squeaks in anger.
James puts a hand on her shoulder. “I’m breaking up with you because I can’t date you anymore! I-”
She shoves him away again. “IF YOU DON’T TELL ME WHY-!”
“You’re crazy!” I sing song in a murderous voice, somewhat similar to an opera singer’s vocal pitch.
“SHUT UP, YOU STUPID GINGER!”
“Listen to me, you little tart,” I spit out as harshly as I can, “You’re a superficial, overrated, CHEAP blonde, who likes making every little thing all about her.” My hands turn into claws as I continue. “You’re just some insecure little girl who has to depend on other people for entertainment, and you don’t give a shit about how other people feel. You have no shame, no boundaries, no self respect. If anyone’s the stupid one in this equation, it’d be you,” I finish. “You are just a sad little girl who never grew up.”
I stare at her in the eyes until I know I’ve flushed any kind of comeback out of her mind. My peripheral vision shows James looking like he’s given birth, but at the same time it’s like he wants to scream out ‘FUCK YEAH!’ for some odd reason… and Remus has just slapped a 10 pound note into Peter’s palm and I’m not sure why.
I don’t know why I feel so relieved, but my shoulders feel like a heavy burden has suddenly been lifted off of them. Everything that I’ve been feeling since the start of term is rushing to my brain, half of which I’ve already said. My sanity is coming back to me.
Leslie doesn’t blink or speak - her angry glare is unfaltering. That is, until she whips her head around and looks up at James. “It’s because of her, isn’t it?” She has a calmer demeanor than before, but her voice still carries that accusatory tone.
James looks at the ground and doesn’t answer, and for the second time in my life I feel like my heart’s stopped. More and more thoughts from this term keep rushing to my brain and my head feels like it’s shaking.
Leslie nods in response to James, understanding his nonverbal answer. I can’t see her sour expression but my imagination can do a pretty good job at filling that visual gap.
There’s a part of me that feels horrible for treating James Potter’s recent ex girlfriend like this, but she attacked me under false pretenses and I’m not taking the blame for their horribly disgusting relationship. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t alive…
“You never liked me,” she spits out horridly.
James looks up at me, guilt washing over his face. It isn’t a question, by the looks of it. My eyebrows furrow, hoping to god that my realization is completely inaccurate.
Their relationship wasn’t real.
She throws me a quick glance full of disgust. “You wanted to make her jealous!” She punches him hard in the chest. “YOU USED ME!”
The words hurt me just as much as they hurt her. Although she never really liked James for the simple fact of him being James, she feels used none-the-less. And she has a right to- oh god, I’m sympathizing with her. I’m sympathizing with some chick who used a boy’s reputation to higher up her status and to have someone to command and control on a daily basis. She wanted a boy toy, for crying out loud. And even I can understand her sentiment.
“You’re such a loser, Potter! You couldn’t snog for shit!” Leslie shouts behind her, making her way across the camp as fast as she can. She’s had enough of him, I guess. “This isn’t the last you’ll see of me, you stupid prick!”
James is heaving and the expression on his face is torturous. He looks at me, afraid of what I’ve just witnessed.
My blood is boiling through my body and my face is hot. Those things I kept buried in my mind from the beginning of term topple over and it becomes impossible to stay quiet.
“You son of a bitch.”
I shake my head and scream. “You dated her to make me jealous!”
I can only hear my heartbeat for a good fifteen seconds, while James Potter tries to stay standing. He’s blinking and breathing and trying to find words to say. It’s so quiet I can hear only the birds chirping. And at this point I’ve forgotten all about Remus and Peter.
“I knew something about your relationship was fucked up,” I begin slowly, my voice coarse. “But I didn’t think you’d purposefully date her to make me feel what ever you wanted me to feel. I never, ever thought that. I thought maybe it was just a physical relationship, to fill some sort of void, but it wasn’t even that, was it?”
The boy standing in front of me has his lips pursed in total agony.
“To make me go through so much shit… to make me react- you dated her to get a reaction out of me! You dated her for the sole purpose of making me want to be in her position.”
No matter how I word it, or how I think about it, the thought still stings.
Every single thing he’s said to me, every single fucking thing. He was dating her to make me jealous. That’s what he was doing. Last night meant nothing to him. He caused this. He caused me to feel all these emotions and all these things I just didn’t want to feel and…
I feel emotionally exhausted.
“Lily, look at me.”
I unwillingly open my eyes.
“I didn’t mean to-”
“YOU DIDN’T MEAN TO? You didn’t mean to…what, exactly?” I follow up, stepping closer to him. “Didn’t mean to make me go through all this shit, make me have to see you like a zombie for weeks on end, make me feel all these things that I never had the right to feel-”
“I never mean to hurt you!” he interjects. “I didn’t realize what I did until after I asked Leslie Toudren out! Yes, okay, I dated her to make you jealous but I didn’t think it would make you feel like-”
“What was your intention?” I ask dangerously.
“I-I don’t know…” James actually dares to look away from me. I yell at him again.
“What the hell was your intention!?”
He raises his hands to his temples and tries not to burst. “I DON’T KNOW!”
We stare at each other.
“At the time, I just wanted you to feel what I was feeling. All that pain. I just wanted you to feel a little bit,” he confesses. “I didn’t know what I was doing-”
I shake my head before James finishes speaking. “That’s not fair.”
“Yeah? Isn’t it? You don’t listen to me for years, and then you think you can just ignore what I know is going on between us. This,” he says, pointing to the both of us, “is something you can’t fake anymore.”
“Do you actually hear yourself?” I reason, not trying to hide the incredulousness in my tone. “I’m sorry that I didn’t respond to your cat-calling in Third Year, James,” I say in spite. “I’m sorry I didn’t push you around in the halls so all your books would fall out of your hands. I’m sorry I didn’t confess my undying love for you the moment we set foot in here-”
“I WAS A KID!” He closes his eyes for a brief moment, regaining his posture. “Just hear me out,” he breathes through this nose. “I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t a wanker because I was, I’ll freely admit it, but that has nothing to do with what just happened. I didn’t mean for this to happen! But now that I think about it, maybe it was supposed to.”
I am not even sure how I am supposed to feel. “What are you saying?”
James Potter stands up straighter and gives me a strong hard look. “Maybe you’re upset because you’ve caught yourself feeling something. Maybe you’re not mad at me, you’re mad at yourself because you can’t run away from what you’re feeling, and it’s killing you.”
“You shut your mouth.”
He doesn’t know what he’s talking about…
“Oh, come on, Lily. Let’s be real,” he says to me angrily. “Who are you really mad at? Me, for pretending to go out with some girl? Or you, because I actually made you realize how much you care? Because I’ll be honest with you right now - I never lied to you about how important you are in my life. I’ll freely admit it-”
“I’m not going to hear any more of this.” I put a hand up, signaling my dismissal. “I seriously can’t believe you. I’d never do what you did.”
Shaking my head, I contemplate why I feel like he isn’t completely at fault, and turn around to walk back to my cabin.
“Don’t judge me.”
I whip around to face James. “People are allowed to judge people they know.” I say, irritated.
“You don’t know me,” he says with spite.
My eyes change, and I know that pain is showing on my face, but he looks away as soon as he sees it.
I think about everything. I was his best friend. He used to be the one person I favored the most in this world. A part of me thinks that I should have done something to keep what we had. What we used to have.
“You’re right,” I respond in a whisper. “I don’t know you at all.”
His eyes become frozen as he turns slightly back around and sees me. He’s about to say something, but I don’t give him the time to think, as I turn around and walk away.
Away from this.
Away from him.
Away from everything.
Author's Note: Sorry for the long wait :( School was crazy!
Any grammatical errors? Please, please, please let me know!
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