Chapter 4 : And then I am reminded why people confuse me...
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“Holy shit!” James exclaimed, standing up and leaning over the hole to take a better look into its extreme depths. “I’m guessing that apology was ironic...”
“That’s some pissed off chick,” Albus said putting his hands up to his face and feeling his distinct lack of eyebrows. He wiped some of the smoke off his face and looked at the remains of the packet of exploding strawberry creams which had, most definitely, exploded.
I slid down the wall and buried my face in my hands; I was stuck here until the two left with nothing to do. Why could nothing go right? Why had the simple matter of returning his invisibility cloak ended up this badly? I’d blown up James Potter’s bed! I’d stolen from him, revealed his fear of birds and blown up his bed!? What was wrong with me? I was a nice person, well... I attended to be a nice person; apparently it hadn’t been working properly...
When I looked up from my angst I noted that Albus Potter had left and now James Potter was... undressing.
MOTHER OF MERLIN!
Undressing? Why was he undressing! WHY?
Well...considering this was his own personal dormitory, it was probably acceptable for him be undressing, but still! Did this have to happen to me?!?
I jammed my eyes shut but could barely resist the urge peek, I mean, I wasn’t like a perv or anything... but James Potter, the James Potter, was standing in front of me topless. Who wouldn’t look? Someone with pride?
And the trousers were coming off...
If he went as far as underwear I was going to do the brave thing – close my eyes, throw something at him and run like the wind so he’d never know it was me. Or knock him out. Or something (I never claimed I was brave or had any Gryffindor tendencies at all).
Instead he pulled on Quidditch robes and a breathed a sigh of relief – that meant he was going to be leaving to go practice soon (unless he lazed around in his Quidditch gear regularly, which wouldn’t have surprised me). Then again, the Gryffindor/Slytherin match was next weekend, so he’d probably be trying to fit in as many practices as possible.
Obviously they’d win though; Slytherin was now such a pathetically small house that their Quidditch team was absolutely abysmal. Then Ravenclaw would win against Hufflepuff – hence the practicing of my dancing for the bigger-than-ever victory party. Next was the Ravenclaw/Slytherin match which again was a no brainer. It was doubtful that Gryffindor would lose to Hufflepuff, although it would be very useful – which meant it would all come down to the final game of the year...
Not that it made much difference to me. As Dom always said – we were above Quidditch.
Still, it was nice to have an interest, and I may have snuck into games whenever she had a date at the same time... I briefly considered keeping the cloak until the Gryffindor/Slytherin match before realising that James Potter would probably seek me out and demand for it back before next weekend, and then Dom would know I’d betrayed her, and she’s probably murder me. Then I’d be dead, so I couldn’t watch the match anyway – so it would be completely counter-productive.
It was a nice idea anyway. I’d rather like to actually watch a match properly for once...
The door swung shut behind James Potter, and I realised I was going to have to leave another apology note (this time anonymous) and that I had no paper.... I went for James Potter’s trunk – he must have parchment somewhere, and found myself holding a pair of his boxers.
Boxers with hearts on. And flowers. Bloody hell.
I sieved past his boxers, hoping they were clean, and avoided the socks desperately (because boy’s socks are always gross)... yes! Books! I pulled it upwards past the rest of the crap and found it was a... a diary.
James Potter had a diary, flowered boxers and a fear of birds. Dear God, I had so much blackmail material it was physically painful not to blackmail him. Why did I want to steal this diary so badly? Already I found my stupid fingers flicking through the pages...
Al is still pissed off at me, I’ve told him I didn’t know about Melinda, and he’s says he thinks I’m a selfish bastard for pranking her...
I stopped and slammed it shut. I couldn’t do that, I was a nice person, even if all evidence was pointing to the contrary. I was good little Christian girl, I didn’t read other people’s diaries...
Why didn’t James Potter have any parchment? Did he just not work? Either I tore a page out of the diary or...
I flicked through it to the first blank page, retrieved a cheap muggle biro which was on the top of his trunk and began to write – knowing I’d regret it.
It’s at the bottom of your trunk, I wrote. Who knew if anyone else even knew about the cloak...? I’d make sure it wasn’t visible, leaving it on the bed had been a stupid idea. Sorry it took me so long to get it back to you.
I paused for a few seconds before acting on my stupid impulse again.
PS. Your flowered boxers are beautiful and this diary must be very precious to you – your masculinity astounds me.
Then I regretted it, but I couldn’t cross it out now, so I took off the cloak and shoved it down to the bottom of the trunk, then put the diary a little way down – hidden from view, but easy to find. I stepped back and took a look – it definitely looked like someone had been through it, which was perfect – James would ensure his diary was present immediately if he knew someone had been through his trunk and then he’d see the message and find the cloak... perfect.
I felt much more vulnerable now I was visible and hastened towards the door. I pushed it open, glancing around to make sure no one had seen me, but... someone had. I was now face to face with my ex-potions partner.
“Hi,” I squeaked nervously.
“What are you doing?” He asked, I noted that his voice had got much deeper and he’d grown about a foot – puberty seemed to be doing that to males at the minute – but he was still slightly shorter than me.
“Erm, I’m looking for my brother,” I said desperately. I thanked God for providing me with a quick mind. “But I think I’ve got the wrong dormitory.”
“Who’s your brother?” He asked, seeming to buy this excuse – I thanked God that Gryffindors were, in Dom’s words – ‘stupid idiots who used their brains only to piss other people off.’ (Hufflepuffs where ‘stupid idiots who only used their brains to act nice to piss other people off’ and Slytherins were ‘stupid idiots who didn’t use their brains – Dom is anti-people).
“That one,” He said pointing the dorm several floors down.
“Oh thanks, erm...”
“Daniel,” He said, rolling his eyes and stepping into the dorm. I decided it was probably best to go visit my brother, after all – at least then I had an alibi in case I bumped into anyone else, or if Dom suddenly got wind of my presence in the Gryffindor common room.
Well, that could have gone much worse.
The second I stepped into the dormitory I was grabbed by some thin fingers and pulled into the corner. “Benson Flint and Abigail Thornton have broken up!” Dom hissed her silver-blue eyes clearly full of excitement.
“Really?” I asked, genuinely interested. Flint and Thorton had been a thing for as long as I could remember, Abigail was famously jealous and Benson was infamous for being a complete arsehole. Still, I’d always assumed that they would just always be together... “But they’ve broken up before,”
“That was in forth year,” She said, rolling her eyes to demonstrate a point. “This is for real; she’s been seen walking around hand in hand with Russell Kirk.”
“The captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team?” I asked with my eyes wide.
“Yes,” Dom nodded eagerly. “And she’s said all this stuff, about how many times Flint has cheated her on stuff, I mean, obviously there were rumours – but apparently it was all true! That’s why she slapped Melinda Marchbanks last year, before the – well, you know.”
“Oh, wow.” I said, suddenly noticing that Dom had straightened her hair and applied her ‘killer’ red lipstick, and that her talons, sorry – finger nails – were painted in a bright red. She was on the pull.
“So what do you think?” She asked eagerly from behind her extra long eyelashes.
“What do I think about...?”
“Benson Flint!” She exclaimed, as if I was being slow, or like what I was saying didn’t make sense.
“What about Benson Flint?”
“Me and Benson Flint, honestly Autumn.”
“He’s just been dumped by a girl he’s been dating for at least three years because he cheated on her!” I exclaimed.
“Well,” She said, “He wouldn’t dare cheat on me.” She said offhandly. “Anyway, Abigail was probably just making it up, and Benson is a seventh year...”
“And a Slytherin!?” I exclaimed. “A mean Slytherin.”
“Well, Autumn, you might be satisfied with a fourteen freaking pointer – but I’m fed up off all these boys! I need a real man!”
“I do not approve!” I hissed. “Abigail is going to hate you.”
“She probably already does, and do I care what a stupid Hufflepuff thinks about me? No.” She snapped. “And if you’re going to be so unsupportive then I’ll go talk to someone who actually cares about me!” And with that she tossed her perfect hair, released her grip on my wrists – which had been held tightly in her grip throughout the whole conversation – turned on her sky-scraper heels and walked out.
I released a nervous breath and realised why I’d been pulled into a corner in the first place, we weren’t alone – two of the four girls that shared the dorm with us were here, and were now regarding me with blatant curiosity.
Jessica Hancock and Felicity Mars - I’d barely talked to either of them, but given Dom was my friend I knew all of their gossip. I knew that Felicity snogged James Potter whilst the other member of their trio (Danielle Samuels) was dating him, and that Jessica Hancock had slept with Freddie Weasley (hence why she was hated on) last year.
“That was a good thing to do,” Felicity said, she seemed slightly shocked by this revelation – that I could be nice, but I didn’t blame her considering most of the time I was thought of as an extension of Dom, but who went on fewer dates.
“Erm... thanks?” I said offering an awkward smile in their direction as I headed for my trunk. Dinner had just started, which meant Dom was sure to be hanging around in the common room waiting for five minutes before going down to meet Benson sodding Flint, and then she’d be there eating without me, and she wouldn’t even care.
Dom could keep up the ignoring routine for absolutely ages. She once ignored me for seven whole days because I told her that her dress was too short, thus apparently insinuating she was an easy slut and, according to Dom ‘considering the whole of Hogwarts thinks that, she isn’t asking much to have a friend who doesn’t listen to and believe idol gossip.’ Like I’d need idol gossip when Dom presents the truth to me so freely, as well as the idol gossip – naturally.
“Autumn?” Jessica said tentatively. I turned to look at her. “Erm, would you like to eat dinner with us?”
“Sure,” I said feeling a little out of place, “Can I just...?” I said gesturing lamely towards the mirror.
“Sure,” Felicity said with a smile.
I’d been too stressed about returning James Potter’s invisibility cloak to him to put on any make up this morning, but that didn’t mean I had to walk around looking like I was mostly dead for the rest of the day. So I slicked on my usual brown eye shadow, and reddish lipstick – it was a sad fact that autumn colours genuinely did look best on me, so most of the time I embraced the shades of brown and reds and just went with it. Then I was done, and turned to the others with another awkward smile.
Dom was still probably downstairs, timing her way towards the five minute rule, and if I walked past her in the company of other people she might drop the ignoring act which came with her tantrums, and beg for me to come back to her. Well... no, she has too much ‘pride’ to beg, but there was the slimmest tinniest chance that she might apologise.
Who am I kidding?
She wasn’t there, as it turned out, and I felt so tall and awkward with Felicity and Jessica, who were a perfectly normal average height and weren’t wearing five inch heals to try and compete with my six-footness. Instead they were wearing the same sort of comfy flat shoes that I was, which meant I was a huge giant-ish figure towering above them. I hated being tall.
“Hey Danny,” Felicity said, as Danielle Samuels, who’d been busy cuddled up with her boyfriend (Jack Thornton) before ditching him and sending a challenging look in my direction. “Weasley is trying to get Benson, like you said she would.” She added darkly. “Autumn told her to leave off,”
“Oh, right,” Danny said, before offering me a half hearted attempt at a smile.
I was beginning to figure the whole thing out. Danielle’s boyfriend was Abigail’s sister, which meant that if Dom wasn’t careful she’d have our fellow dorm sharers after her blood again. I bit my lip but decided to keep quite.
“Well, shall we go?” Jessica said because we were standing in an odd circle awkwardly.
“Yeah,” Felicity said, linking her arm through Danielle’s arm, and then – to my great surprise, my arm. She could barely reach it as well. Felicity was ‘petite’ or, as Dom said – ‘vertically challenged’ which I liked, only she added ‘mentally challenged’ on the end too (Felicity too, had once gone on a date with one of her cousins – Albus maybe?). “Weasley’s really horrible to you, you know,” Felicity declared. “I mean, you don’t have to stand for it,”
“Yeah,” Jessica agreed, a little more shyly.
“Dominique Weasley is a bitch.” Danielle spat viciously. “I wouldn’t wish her company on anyone – not even Benson Flint.”
“He will cheat on her you know,” Felicity added. “You know she will, Danny.”
“Obviously, Abbie’s three times the person Dom Weasley is, and if Abbie can’t keep him... Wesley doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Oh she’s just awful,” Felicity said, her brow furrowing dangerously. “Isn’t she, Autumn?”
I was alarmed at being addressed, but I hardly had to think about what I was going to say – impulse, again. I detangled my arm from Felicity and took a step backwards. “Thank you for inviting me to eat dinner with you guys,” I said, “But Dom is my friend, and I don’t bitch about my friends.” I finished firmly.
Then I stalked off down the corridor and realised that this meant eating dinner alone... or eating dinner with Dom and Benson Flint.
Benson Flint, here I come.
“Autumn!” Dom declared in falsely bright tones as I came to sit beside her, then she sent me a dark look that clearly told me to ‘piss off.’
“Autumn, that’s a nice name,” Benson Flint said in the creepiest most psychopathic sounding voice I have ever heard. Not only was he absolutely crazy for liking my name (seriously?!), he also sounded like a complete stalker.
“Thank you Benson,” I said with a smile, before I sat myself down and tried to show Dom that I was accepting Dom’s decision to chase after Benson-crazy-stalker-Flint by politely asking him how he was, and pretending I was interested in the pile of crap that was coming out of his mouth in response,”
“Because obviously we’ve had a bit of bad luck over the last couple of years,” Benson said in a very deep slimy voice that made me want to hide, or crawl into the foetal position and cry. I nodded. “But now I’m captain Slytherin should put up a decent fight in the game next Saturday...”
“Yeah,” I said. “Dom’s fascinated in Quidditch, aren’t you?” I said, partly because Dom had been strangely silent since I got here and had done nothing but poke me with her scarlet nails, and partly because Dom hated talking about Quidditch and I wondered what she’d do.
“Such a little joker,” Dom said with a fake amused smile. “I’m not into Quidditch myself, just the players...” She said tossing her hair and leaning forwards. I didn’t know why, so far he’d only scored five points (for decent looks, I’m not blind after all) but if this was my point scoring system, I’d definitely have taken four points off just because of his voice.
It was creepy. And weird.
I decided just to shut up and keep the points from now on.
“You’re such a cow, Autumn.” Dom said the minute we’d left the great hall. “Trying to hit on him when I’d already said that... I’ve had enough.” She spat. “Benson has invited me to go watch their Quidditch practice, have fun Pearce.”
Wow. Major Dom-strop. As if she’d think I...? And why was she watching Quidditch practice with sodding Benson, when he only scored seven points throughout the whole of dinner? And believe me, I was counting – there was nothing else to do, after all.
Sod it all, I decided in my head. Sod Dom for being melodramatic and stupid, and sod my luck for being so crap, and sod James Potter for making my luck even worse and increasing my levels of nervous energy because I was so terrified that any second he was about leap out and attack me for reading his diary, going through his trunk, blowing up his bed, stealing his invisibility cloak and accidently revealing the whole bird-fear to the world. I mean, damn, I couldn’t deal with anymore stress.
I needed to calm, and where do Ravenclaws go when they need to calm? The library. And there was no way in hell that either James Potter or Dom Wesley would ever venture into the foreign territory of, the library....
The library always smelt of books which reminded me a little of home, but not so much that I couldn’t stand it, just enough to give it a slightly homely feel – and books, books, books galore... Admittedly there was a slight lack of fiction, but some of the books on magic were so fascinating I could just about forgive that blunder.
So I pulled a book about human transfiguration off the shelf and turned to page 346, which was where I’d been last time Dom had a strop (that time about me not letting her copy some essay about something – apparently that meant I was a bad friend or something), when a piece of parchment fell from the pages between 347 and 348...
I picked it up from the floor and ran my gaze over it... it was yellowing and old, and there was a little sketch, quite skilfully done, in black ink... a stag with glasses and a broomstick, a large black dog, a wolf holding a book and, when I looked a little more carefully I saw a tiny shape underneath the stag’s foot... it looked about any second now the little thing – a mouse maybe? – was about to be squished under the stags foot, and then at the very bottom corner there were two letters – initials maybe? – PP.
“Hello there,” A familiar voice said, and then my heart stopped in my chest. I slipped the piece of parchment into my pocket to look at in more detail, and stared up at the smirking face of James Potter.
“Hi,” I said, my heart thudding a billion times a minute in my chest.
“James,” He said holding out his hand.
“I know,” I retorted, decidedly not extending my own hand.
“You’re supposed to tell me your name, or are we not there yet?”
“Nope,” I said quickly. “We’re not.”
“Right,” James said, lazing back in his chair. “Because you have seen my underwear after all...”
“If you do insist on leaving it around,” I countered, feeling strangely confident.
“So, you had my cloak.” I nodded. “Why did you give it back?”
“Common courtesy?” I suggested.
“Right...” He said, “And did you, by any chance, lend the cloak to anyone?” I shook my head. “So you’re the one who sent flying chickens to attack me?” He questioned.
“I didn’t realise you were actually scared of them!” I exclaimed desperately. “And the sweets weren’t supposed to explode!”
“The exploding strawberry creams were you too? My, we have been busy, haven’t we – A.O.P,” He said. Oh dear. I’d put my initials on the letter, dear god...
I blushed. “It was all a bit accidental, to be honest; I don’t think I’ve got the hang of this mischievous lark.”
“Really?” James Potter asked me, I was strangely calm – he didn’t seem to want to murder me, so that was a good sign, and I had one hand in my pocket with my fingers curled around my wand for extra protection. But if Dom saw me now... she’d never speak to me again. “I’m intrigued.” James Potter told me. “How’s about, you tell me all about in on Saturday?”
“Saturday?” I questioned, now feeling mildly hysterical.
“Hogsmede weekend.” He said with a winning grin.
“Erm...” I said articulately. My brain froze for a few seconds – was James Potter asking me out? “Sorry,” I said imagining Dom’s face if she found out about this. “I don’t go on dates with people who don’t know my name.”
He considered this for a second before taking a very old piece of parchment from his pocket and examining it carefully, then he placed it back in his pocket and looked straight at me. “I didn’t realise it was a date, Autumn.”
He knew my name!? Why did everyone have to find out my name? Why did it have to follow me around like some annoying, stupid ghost!? More to the point...How had he found out my name?
“What time am I meeting you on Saturday?” James Potter asked, with a grin at my state of shock.
“Erm, Nine at the gates,” I answered without even thinking about it.
“Alright Autumn – it’s a date.” And then he stood up and left. I watched him go in an extreme state of shock.
Dom was going to kill me.
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