Chapter 13 : Snap Decision
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“OI, POTTER! GET A MOVE ON, WILL YOU? CATCH THAT SNITCH!”
I swoop through the air, Quaffle in hand, barely missing a shouting James Potter. He is so concerned over what everyone else is doing that he’s stalled in mid-air calling out orders to whoever he lays eyes on.
Albus halts his chase of the Snitch, looking like he has just swallowed a can of red hot badger piss. “You’re a Potter too, you idiotic wanker!”
“Ah, shut up, the pair of yah,” shouts Fred, brandishing his Beater’s bat.
I toss the Quaffle to Charlotte, nearly colliding with Riley O’Malley, Rose’s love interest, in my efforts. He throws me a look of deepest contempt, gives me a rude hand gesture, and shoots off in the other direction.
It’s the usual stress of any Quidditch match; even though we are winning by more than a fifty points, James still has his frilly little lady undies in a bunch and the team is becoming tenser every second.
I crane my neck around, searching for Al. He has been on my mind all match. It’s been a full two weeks nice our last experiment with snogging, and I’m starting to get anxious. What if he forgets about me? About us? What if he moves on to more interesting girls like that Coral he dated at the beginning of the year? I grind my teeth. It has been becoming increasingly more difficult not to be with him. I know what will happen if we date: we’ll break up. That’s what Hogwarts does to couples. There are only rare occasions where it all works out: they get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. And maybe that could be Al and me…. But who am I kidding? I’m no happily-ever-after kind of girl. But then again, I love him. Why not be with him?
My thoughts whir on as I absentmindedly continue to play Quidditch. But as I am nearly Bludgered in the head, I decide it’s best to focus more on the match.
After twenty more minutes of gruelling gameplay, we’ve won.
“And Albus Potter has caught the Snitch!” bellows Rhys Tatum, the Ravenclaw announcer. “And a truly unstoppable team this year, Gryffindor is. Better luck next time, Hufflepuff. Score ends at 280 to 90. This is Rhys Tatum, signing off.”
I swoop easily down to the ground, hopping off my Quickskip 3000 and stretching.
James pats my shoulder affectionately. “Good job out there, Becksy!” he says, beaming. “You scored a lot of points today!”
I flick invisible dirt off of my shoulder. “You know, heh, I do what I do.”
He raises a brow at me. “Eh — okay then.”
We shake hands with the Hufflepuff team (me deliberately missing Riley O’Malley’s hand) and duck into the changing rooms.
“Great game, guys,” James says enthusiastically, high fiving Fred. “Really great.”
“You didn’t seem so sure of that when I was seeking the Snitch a few minutes ago,” Al snaps at him, pulling off his Quidditch robes.
“Yeah, James, quit being such a prat in the air, will you?” adds Lily venomously. She has been exceedingly snappish since the whole Liam bit a few weeks ago. She's about as far away from poor Liam as the locker room allows.
James mumbles a retort but finishes changing quickly and heads from the room. A few minutes pass and everyone is gone except for me, sitting here on a bench, trying to get a green sweater on over my head.
“Damn thing,” I mutter, finally pulling it on. I can never get sweaters on. Do I just have a big head or something?
And then I hear a quiet chuckle and I whirl around to face Al, who’s leaning against the lockers with a smirk on his face.
“Merlin’s arse!” I squeak, startled by the appearance of him. “I thought I was alone!”
“Nope,” he replies, walking towards me. “I saw you struggling with that shirt and thought it’d be a while.”
I glare at him. “Funny,” I say, feigning mock annoyance.
He laughs, taking my hand and pulling me into him. Our lips move together like water, his hands gently on my hair, mine around his neck. About two minutes into this, I pull away. “I’m going to get carried away,” I say, panting slightly. “You can’t do this to me,” I grumble, “I swear my heart is about to beat through my chest.”
He bursts into laughter and I glare at him. “Seriously!” I say, grabbing my things.
He shakes his head, still laughing. “Come on,” he says, “I’ll walk you up to lunch.”
We walk up to the castle bearing our Quidditch bags, both slightly flustered by the recent events that took place in the changing rooms. As we walk, I take the time to notice just how beautiful and warm it is for a day in mid-January. And for once, I actually feel kind of happy. It’s like the Birthday Fairy has struck again with all her fairyful magic, making my life easier one sparkle at a time.
I know, I’m becoming so philosophical, aren’t I?
As we enter the school, I head straight for the Great Hall, but Albus stops me. “Did you see that?” he asks suddenly, looking sharply at towards a corridor next to the Great Hall.
“Er – no, I didn’t,” I reply, raising an eyebrow. “Lunch?” I ask, looking longingly towards the Great Hall.
“No, hang on a second,” Al says, dragging me away from my meal.
I whimper a bit, picturing my Treacle Tart, as he pulls me down the corridor. “Erm, Al?” I say with a little cough. “Where exactly are you –”
“Wait – shhh,” he says, pulling us to a stop outside an empty classroom. And he whis-pers, “I just saw Charlotte and James running down here and she looked pissed.”
I stare in shock at him. “Nosy, are we?” I say, brows raised.
“He’s in my business all the time,” Al snaps. “Besides, I want to know what’s up with them … remember when we saw them snogging at Christmas?”
“Well something’s changed since then and I want to know what it is,” he says quietly. And then he pauses, watching me carefully. “You’re not mad, are you?”
“No,” I whisper, “I think it’s hilarious… Surprising, sure, but definitely hilarious.”
He gives me a squinty eyed smile. How adorable.
I watch as he slowly pushes open the door.
“Come on Charlotte, please –”
“No James, it was just a onetime thing. A fling,” Charlotte snaps, making for the door-way, but James stops her.
“I know you have feelings for me, Charlotte,” he says softly, a slight sense of urgency in his voice.
She hesitates before hissing, “Maybe so James, but I don’t want to feel that way, don’t you get it? You’re an egocentric pig!”
Al and I exchange weary looks. I can practically taste the hurt emulating from the room.
“I love you Charlotte,” James says after a moment, so quietly I have to strain to hear it. I can sense the discomfort he feels in stating this.
“Don’t say that!” she hisses.
“If you really felt that way then you would’ve never said those things to your mates!” she says coldly. “Don’t you understand? Don’t you see how this makes me feel like I’m just another number to you?”
“But you aren’t just another number to me,” James says pleadingly. “Charlotte, you’ve got to understand – I was just kidding, I would never think that!”
“You’re two-faced, James,” she spits, going pink in the face. “You tell all your friends about how you’re going to shag brainy, loser Charlotte Vinter and then coming running along to me acting like everything’s just fine and freaking dandy? Well let me tell you something, James Potter, I am not just another weak, pathetic trophy for you to flaunt to your mates. If you gave a damn about me or us, we’d be together right now.”
“Why don’t you believe me?” he says weakly.
“Oh I believe that you love, me, I do,” she says venomously. “But if you think what you’ve done is okay, then you have got a lot of learning to do, James Potter.”
“Charlotte, I don’t, really,” he says. “I know I did the wrong thing. You’re just so different from my friends. They wouldn’t understand –”
“What? I’m too average for them, then? Too ugly? What is it?”
“No! It’s that you aren’t some idiotic bimbo. You care about your marks and about Quidditch, unlike most girls. You’re smart and beautiful –“
“Stop,” she says. “Stop right there. This is what you do, James. You love the chase. You love going after girls who would never give you a chance because it gives you a thrill. I’ve seen how you play all these girls, telling them they are ‘smart and beautiful.’ But I see through you, James. I know that you just want one thing.” She rips her arm from his. “And the truth is, you will never shag me. Not in your life.”
And she storms from the room, hardly taking any notice in Al or me.
“Charlotte, stop!” James shouts, flying after her. He passes by us without a second glance, sprinting after Charlotte, her black hair dancing behind her.
Al and I gape at each other.
“I can’t believe I’m saying thing,” I say after a moment, “but that actually sounded genuine. I think James really is in love with Charlotte.”
Al shakes his head miserably. “He’s such an idiot prick,” he groans. “I cannot believe he said that to his mates. He’s lost her for good.”
I nod slowly. “Yeah … er, Albus?”
“Yeah?” he says, looking up at me.
“See, I just played Quidditch for four and a half hours. If I don’t eat soon, there’s an eighty-three per cent chance I am going to go into a food deprivation shock.”
He laughs. “Come on, Becks, let’s get you some Treacle Tart.”
It’s around half past seven and I’m sitting in the common room with Dara, working on our Herbology homework. Fred and Carter are behind us playing a rousing game of Exploding Snap (much to Dara’s dismay. Generally anytime Fred is enjoying himself she seems to be on edge) and Lily and Hugo are spread across the ornate rug, teasing Presto with a piece of string.
I’m so bored from writing my essay that I’ve taken to just planting my face down in the seam of the book and hoping to die or implode or something. “I don’t think I can take much more of this,” I groan, drooling slightly onto A Thousand Herbs and Fungi.
“Eurgh, Laney, that’s disgusting,” Dara points out, making a face. She begins casting drying charms over her newly vibrant nails.
“Wait a second,” I say, glaring accusingly at her, “have you been painting your nails this whole time?”
“Yes,” she says nonchalantly, giggling a bit. “Aren’t they beaut –”
“Laney!” she shrieks, gaping down at her colourless nails in horror.
I grumble, dip my quill in ink, and continue to write my essay.
“What’s wrong, Dara-Bear?” Fred asks mockingly from behind us. “Chip a nail?”
Dara’s face contorts into a terrifying you’re dead to me kind of look. “Say that again, Weasley, and I’ll curse that stupid smirk right off your face!”
“As if you knew the magic to do it,” he throws back, glaring at her.
“SHUT UP!” I shout. “God, you two never stop, do you? Do you need to be put in timeouts? There are plenty of corners in here.”
Dara rolls her eyes.
“Hi!” I hear someone say very exuberantly.
Rolling my eyes, I turn to see Daniel staring goofily at me. “What do you wa –”
“Dara?” he asks, cutting me off.
My jaw drops open. Did he just interrupt me?
“Yes?” she replies, hardly looking up from repainting her nails.
“Do you want to go out with me?”
Everyone goes silent, Dara gaping at him. She looks at me, eyes wides and then back to him. I sit, stalk stll. “Yes!” she says very quickly, popping up. She grabs his hand, absolutely beaming. “Of course I will go out with you!” She looks back at me, practically bubbling with excitement. All I can do is stare in shock. Is this really happening?
“Great!” Daniel says, looking down at their entwined hands in surprise. He looks over at me in an odd sort of way. A sort of “jealous, yet?” kind of look.
I gulp. This is bad.
“I always wanted you to ask me out!” Dara continues to squeak, not noticing the ex-change between Daniel and me.
“NO!” someone bellows, causing everyone to go dead quiet once more.
I turn around to find Fred Weasley, standing up, looking really bloody scary. He’s gripping the Exploding Snap game board with such tenacity that it’s actually broken in half.
“Excuse me?” Dara asks, eyes wide.
Fred’s cheeks go slightly pink with embarrassment. “N-Never mind,” he mumbles, tossing the game board down and vanishing up the boys’ stairs.
I narrow my eyes at his disappearing figure. Do I detect jealousy?
Meanwhile Dara and Daniel have begun snogging. And not a normal snog. They look like a pair conjoined plungers. I make a face.
“Oh dear,” squeaks Rose as she takes the seat next to me. “When did that happen?”
“Just a few minutes ago,” I mumble, looking away from the newfound couple. I take note in Rose’s anxious expression. “What’s up?”
She fiddles her thumbs. “Remember that Riley boy who asked me to the Hufflepuff term party?”
“Vividly,” I grunt.
“Well, that party is tonight,” she says nervously.
“Oh,” I reply. “Are you going?”
“Well, yes, I mean, I should, right?”
“Probably, if you agreed to go,” I shrug, dipping my quill in ink.
“I’m supposed to meet him in front of the Hufflepuff common room at eight.”
I look up at her, noting that she’s still wearing her school robes. “Rose, it’s the weekend, why are you wearing those robes? You weren’t going to try and wear that to the party, were you?”
“I just don’t know what to wear,” she whispers, ears going red.
I sigh. “Come on, I’ll help you find something.”
“That’s perfect,” Chaz Jacobs says with a smile, fixing the last soft curl of Rose’s hair.
We ran into her on the way into the dorm room. She was much more of a help in finding an outfit for Rose – mostly because I only really own jeans and sweaters, nothing worth wearing to a party. I gave most of my dresses to Dara anyway.
“Thank you so much Chaz!” Rose says, taking a three-sixty view of her outfit. “You don’t think I look like I’m trying too hard, do you?”
“Not at all,” Chaz says, beaming at her.
“Yeah, Rose, you look like classiest slag I have ever seen,” I grin at her. She throws me a look. “Hey,” I say, glancing at my watch, “it’s ten til eight, we should go.”
“You’re right,” she says, taking one last nervous look at her reflection, “let’s go. Thanks again, Chaz!”
“Sure,” Chaz says, smiling brightly at her. “Have fun and let me know how it goes!”
We exit the common room five minutes later, Rose nervously biting her fingernails. She asked me to walk her down to the party because she was thought she wouldn’t be able to do it by herself. I don’t blame her – she’d probably end up in the library if left to her own decisions.
Once we’re in front of the Hufflepuff common room, I stop and turn to her. “Listen Rose,” I say, not looking her in the eye. “Be careful with this guy, all right?”
She smiles. “You don’t have to worry, Laney, Riley’s a great guy. I’m not going to drink, anyway.”
“Right,” I say, and, so quietly it’s barely a whisper, “that’s what I said.”
“Rose.” Riley O’Malley steps out of the portrait hole next second, smiling at Rose like she’s the only girl he’s ever seen.
I narrow my eyes.
“Hi,” Rose says quietly, nervously looking at her shoes.
“Ya’ look beautiful,” says Riley, taking her hand.
Their eyes are locked and I can tell that’s my cue to leave, so I smile briefly at Rose and turn on my heel.
“Hey, why don’ ya’ stay a while?” Riley says after me. And he adds, “I’m sure there’s someone who would dance with ya.’”
I pause, grinding my teeth. God, he’s irritating. Trying to keep my composure, I turn around and say with a wry smile, “Sorry, but I don’t have such a great track record with parties. No thanks.”
Rose smiles. “See you later Laney!” She heads through the portrait hole.
However, Riley pauses before following. He says, “Don’ bother waitin’ up for her,” gives me one, coy smile and disappears after Rose.
“Ouch,” I mutter, realising just how hard I’ve been clenching my fists.
“Impressive,” comes a dull voice.
I turn around to see the pale, bored looking friend that I had met the first day Riley ap-proached Rose. He’s gesturing at my white knuckles, looking amused.
“What exactly is impressive, might I ask?” I say snappishly, not really in the mood for witty banter.
“Well for starters, you didn’t punch him in the face or curse his bollocks off,” he says, shrugging. “I come pretty close to that every day, but I don’t usually see people who tol-erate his crap.”
I raise my eyebrows at him. “I’m only doing it for my friend…. Speaking of which, aren’t you his friend?”
“More or less,” he replies, and then, after a moment, “I’m Sterling Jones, what’s your name?”
He shakes my hand.
“Listen, I’m supposed to be serving drinks at that party, but I’m thinking of ditching. Interested in joining me?” He smiles slightly, his grey eyes brightening.
I hesitate. It’s eight o’clock on a Saturday: Lily’s with Hugo, Al’s serving a detention, Rose is at a party, Dara is otherwise involved, and here I am, facing a potentially interesting night. “All right,” I shrug. “Let’s hangout.”
“Well, we met in our dorm room on the first night of school. We both liked Quidditch so we sort of meshed. He didn’t become such a dickhead until fourth year when he made Quidditch captain,” Sterling says, shrugging.
We’re sitting inside greenhouse two, which Sterling broke into using a complex spell I didn’t recognize. I’m sitting on top of an empty table, drinking from a bottle of wine we nicked from the Hufflepuff party, and Sterling’s making Venomous Tentacula leaves float with his wand.
“So why do you put up with his crap?” I ask, feeling the wine burning my throat. I pass the bottle to him and he swigs some down.
“Because he’s not such a dick deep down,” he replies, leaning his head against the wall. “Just with Quidditch … and girls,” he adds quietly.
“You know, that bastard flicked me off at the match this morning,” I recall, my dislike for this Riley character growing ever more.
He laughs. “I saw that. See? Quidditch and girls. It’s bloody annoying.”
I snort. “God, I just wish Rose could see it!” I stand up on the table and walk around, balancing.
“Is that her name? Rose?”
“Yeah,” reply, taking back the wine bottle.
“Man, I feel sorry for her,” he says, shaking his head.
I stop in my tracks. “What?”
He looks at me strangely. “He’s just using her.”
I can practically feel my blood begin to boil. “You’re kidding.”
He shakes his head. “A bunch of our dorm mates bet him he couldn’t get into a Wea-sley’s pants.” And after a moment he adds, “Er – not me though.”
“Damn him!” I hiss, kicking the table. “He’s so frustrating!
“What’s wrong?” Sterling asks, looking alarmed.
“Isn’t it obvious?” I say, swallowing more wine. “You’re seventh years – Rose is all blissed out on that fact. She’s never going to believe me when I tell her! Dammit!”
He steps forward. “I’ll say something to him. I’ll make him stop.”
I look at him, the alcohol twirling my vision. Is it just me, or is this bloke starting to flirt with me?
He steps forward even more, his hand slipping into mine. “You’re really pretty, you know,” he says, leaning into me.
And it happens. Our lips touch and I sky-rocket backwards. “Woah there,” I say cau-tiously, “what are you doing?”
He looks uncomfortable. “I’m sorry – I thought that’s what you wanted.”
“I’m taken,” I mutter dishonestly. “Listen, thanks for the drink, but I gotta go.” I look down, realising that his hand is still in mine and I suddenly feel strange pity for this guy. I squeeze his hand and smile. “I don’t know if I’ll make it – walk me up to my dorm?”
He grins. “Sure. And sorry, alcohol makes me a bit braver than usual.”
“It’s known to do that,” I sigh, knowing this all too well. “Come on, let’s go.”
Bacon. Focus on the bacon, Laney.
I stare stressfully at the piece of floppy, greasy bacon dangling from the end of my fork. I’m clenching my jaw so hard little spots of colour are sprinkling my vision. I’m trying as hard as humanly possible to not hear what Rose is talking about: the slow dance, the way his hand stayed in hers the whole night, the sip of firewhiskey she had, the good-night kiss… I can hardly take the anxiety of knowing what I know. Knowing that this boy Rose is so quickly and heavily falling for is only doing it on a bet.
I continue to bore my eyes into the piece of pig, trying to occupy my mind. Maybe I heard wrong. Maybe Sterling heard wrong. But it doesn’t change the fact that I know what I know, and it’s ripping me apart. If I tell Rose, she’ll react in one of two ways: she’ll either freak out and demolish our friendship, making me out to seem jealous and petty, or she’ll be so hurt and embarrassed she’ll take her anger out on me.
Either way, I’m at a loss.
“It was just so wonderful – everything,” she finishes, finally taking a bite of her breakfast.
“I’m happy for you, Roe,” Al says, grinning at her, but otherwise flipping a page in his Daily Seeker magazine.
Meanwhile, I turn to see Dara and Daniel intertwined to the left of me, snogging like a pair of congealed baboons.
“Merlin, you’d think it’s mating season over there,” mutters Lily, who has been justifiably bitter towards relationships for a while now. Hugo snorts.
Me? I keep staring at the bacon.
Fred stabs moodily at his food, every once in a while throwing death glares towards the kissing couple. “Disgusting,” he growls to Carter, eating an egg so savagely he looks nearly cannibalistic.
“I dunno,” mumbles Al, “I kind of feel bad for Ivy now. All she does these days is stalk around Hogwarts glaring at everyone in sight.”
“It serves her right,” I snap. “She’s a bitch.”
“Laney!” Rose says, looking alarmed.
I sigh. “Sorry Rose” – turning back to Al – “Ivy’s a female dog.”
We all leave the Great Hall to go up to the common room a few minutes later, and as if on cue, Rose begins talk of Riley again.
“I can’t take this anymore,” I grumble, grabbing Al roughly by the arm and pulling him into a broom cupboard. “I need to talk to you,” I say once we’re alone.
He smiles coyly. “Talk, eh?” he asks, entwining our fingers and pressing his lips to mine.
I pull away. “Good God, Potter, keep it in your pants,” I snap.
He looks confused. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“It’s about Rose,” I say, noticing that my foot is in a bucket.
“What about her?” he asks, looking perplexed.
And so I explain the story of Sterling (deliberately leaving out the part about him trying to kiss me). When I’ve finished, I stare anxiously at him.
“And … and you’re sure this is true?” Al asks seriously, appearing disgruntled.
“Nearly positive. You’d believe me if you’d have met the bloke,” I reply earnestly.
“Merlin,” he says, shaking his head.
“So … what do we do?” I ask. “Do I tell her?”
“I – no,” he says finally. “Let’s just – just wait a while. Rose is pretty sensitive with this sort of thing – I’m not sure it’d get us anywhere besides a fight if we brought it up now. Let’s just see how it plays out. We’ll get involved if we need to.”
“But it’s killing me, Al,” I say quietly. “The bloke’s such a dickhead, and he’s trying to get in Rose’s knickers!”
Al looks sombre. “I know… listen, I’ll watch them – him especially. I’ll step in if I have to. I’ve known Rose longer than anyone – I’ll know how to get her to forgive me if I have to.”
I sigh sadly. “You’re a great guy, Al,” I mumble, forcing a small smile. “Thanks.”
He smiles back, tucking some hair behind my ear. “Can we snog now?”
I feign mock annoyance. “Oh, if we must.”
I’m sitting in Muggle Studies actually listening to Professor Peppercorn rant about bat-teries and remote controllers for once. Granted, there’s the usual cloudy fog over my attention span (thanks to my severe ADD), but I’ve been finding lately that by actually listening to what my teachers have to yammer about, I’m actually beginning to retain some information. My marks, which were nearly at Troll in first term, have now settled between Poor and Acceptable, something I have been most proud of. And it’s not just me who has begun improving in school; both Fred and Dara have achieved higher marks as of late.
Of course it’s only because of our OWLs, which are looming like heavy weights on our shoulders. Up until now I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that this is a make or break year. But I’m starting feel pressure I have never felt before to achieve well. The thought of my need to learn to produce a Patronus causes me to shudder in my seat. That’s going to be a hard task, that not even brilliant Rose can help me with.
Not to mention I’ve been scheduled to meet with Professor Wilkins next week to discuss my options for after Hogwarts. I gulp. Being perfectly honest, I can’t see myself in any Ministry job or Quidditch team or newspaper as a career.
Just great. I’ll have to be a cat lady. But I doubt Presto would even stay with me for long if I got to that point.
Wait a second – dammit, I’ve lost focus again!
I try to make sense of where Professor Peppercorn has gotten to in his lecture.
“And then, after they’ve inserted the battery into the back of the device, they twist the knob four times to make it twirl and swing,” he says, absentmindedly doing a sort of jig.
I shake my head in confusion, glancing down at my notes.
-Batteries: used for most Muggle devices
-Can be used to power motor vehicles, like Albus Potter or cars
-Have a life of about six Patronuses, sometimes more
-You shouldn’t, however, eat them, for they are Troll for your digestive system
-They are snoggable – meaning one can reuse them after a particular Muggle process
-They were invented by Laney Potter
You’ve got to be kidding me.
I crumble the notes in my fist and try desperately to retune my attention to the lesson.
“That concludes the lecture, then!” Professor Peppercorn says giddily, causing me to nearly explode with frustration. “Now, let’s see … Miss Osiris, yes, can you reiterate to the class when and where the battery was invented?”
I glimpse Icy from the corner of my eye, looking quite abashed at being called on. “I – um, sorry, could you repeat the question?” She looks tired and hazy – eyes slightly red. She isn’t wearing any make up and her hair looks like it hasn’t been brushed in days. In short, she looks like hell.
“I asked,” says Professor Peppercorn, looking irritated, “whether you could tell the class when and where the battery was invented.”
She flushes a deep red. “I’m sorry, but I d-don’t know.”
It’s silent in the class.
“Haven’t been paying attention, I see,” titters Peppercorn, making a note on a piece of parchment. Ivy looks close to tears.
Once the bell rings, she is the first out of the classroom, wiping at her eyes with her sleeve as she goes.
Odd. Really odd.
After Muggle Studies I head outside with Rose to enjoy some fresh air. And of course, as if on cue, the second we’re outside, Riley comes along and wisps her away, leaving me alone. I glare after the pair of them, mumbling darkly to myself as I set off towards the beach trees.
“Hi Becks,” Carter says as I meet him by the Black Lake.
“Hey,” I reply. Taking note in a moody looking Fred. “What’s up with him?” I ask with a knitted brow.
Carter laughs. “Didn’t you see?” He gestures towards a snogging couple a little ways behind me.
“Oh,” I say, observing Dara and Daniel with slight disgust. But the sight of their blissful happiness gives me a sudden, weird feeling. Jealously.
And not of Dara being with Daniel (not jealous over that in a million years), but jealous that they get to be together and Al and I don’t. Something burns inside me. I have to find Al.
“Carter?” I ask quickly. “Have you seen Albus?”
“Er – yeah, Laney, I think he’s over there by the greenhouses.” He gestures over my right shoulder. “Longbottom asked him to do a Herbology lecture to a bunch of first years, remember? Since he’s like top of our class…”
“Thanks,” I say, whipping around and hurrying off in the direction he pointed. My mind is filled with a sudden, snap decision that I have decided to act on. My sprinting comes to a stop as I see him standing in front of a group of first years, demonstrating how to properly plant a Tobuskon Turnip.
“And then you’ve got to pat it around the roots so it’s nice and comfortable,” he says, winking.
Seeing that boyish smile, the way his hair is messy from a cool breeze, and his piercing green eyes watching the twelve year olds so kindly brings a new fire in me that I never knew I had. I dash up to him, hardly taking notice in his surprise or the exclamations of the startled first years, and kiss him furiously, pulling my fingers through his hair.
“I want to be with you,” I say in whisper.
“No,” I say harshly. “I want to be with you, Al. I don’t want to do it in secret or pretend that we are nothing. I don’t want to keep hiding in broom cupboards with you and acting like I don’t think about you every damn second!”
He laughs, kissing me again. “I want to be with you too, Laney.”
The first years giggle and squeal.
“This is going to work,” I say more to myself than anyone. “It’s you and me. I know it will.”
He looks at me with a strange expression, one I’ve never seen him adapt before. “There’s more truth in that than you know,” he says, looking me directly in the eye.
I grab his hand, entwining our fingers. “I figured,” I sigh. “Now, are you ready to start some rumours?” I ask suggestively.
“Oh, most definitely,” he replies.
“Good,” I whisper with a wink. “Now, you lot,” I say firmly to the twelve year olds, “go and tell everyone you know of this. Laney Becks and Al Potter are together. Got it?”
They nod vigorously and run off, gossiping behind their hands about what they have just witnessed.
I turn back to Al, smiling. “There. This is how it should be. Gossip, jealously, and snog-ging.”
“You’re stark, raving mad, Laney Becks,” he says, pulling me closer to him.
“I hope you know what you’re getting into then,” I say, and kissing his cheek.
“Oh no, Laney,” he says quietly, “actually, I don’t have a damn idea. And that’s exactly how I want it to be.”
Author's Note: Look how happy I've been making you guys lately! JO started out so much more depressing and cynical, I swear. Haha.
I hope you liked it! Please, please review! It means a lot to me. I want reactions! :D
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