Chapter 9 : Being comfortable.
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The house was beginning to look like someone lived in it. Each room had a, albeit slightly stretched, purpose, and each room was finally full of the staple pieces of furniture. And nice ones too. The walls were no long blank and empty, but actually had some degree of character and... I was beginning to feel comfortable.
It helped that I’d been making orders from my favourite antique shop online, but it seemed that the house now had enough magic within the walls that I could feel at ease. It wasn’t the same integrated and wholesome magic that Hogwarts had, or even that out old house had... but it was enough that I didn’t feel sick. The walls were still lacking in emotions but things were getting better.
We’d had to move the main sitting room from because it made me too angry (after the unfortunate hot chocolate incident) but the pool was a particularly pleasant to be – the echoes of our laughter clinging to the tiled walls. I’d taken to doing laps in the morning and because the pool induced happy feelings, I made even more good memories pushing through the water.
“So,” James began when I let him into the house whilst towel drying my hair. “I was thinking we could work on your floor today,” It was true that my floor – and I still couldn’t believe I’d agreed to having a whole floor myself – was slightly more empty and a little more bland than the rest of the house. It wasn’t comfortable there yet. It lacked something important, even when it was filled with all my favourite piece of furniture.
“All right,” I agreed, passing him his coke with a vague smile. “I’ve got another order coming today,” I added.
“Hmm...” James said distractedly. I knew what he was going to ask before he asked. “Any chance of breakfast?” He said craning his neck to look hopefully in the direction of the kitchen. “I slept in.”
“I have waffles if you’re interested,” I said wryly.
His whole face lit up comically. I grinned at his delighted expression and lead him through to the kitchen where ‘you charmed me with your poison’ was providing a nice background noise. I’d already got the waffles out. Ever since James had realised that I had waffles, shipped straight from Belgium, he seemed to conveniently ‘forget’ to eat breakfast.
“We’ll eat them upstairs.” James said decisively. I raised an eyebrow but pulled an old tray out of one of the cupboards and set it down on the table. I poured myself a glass of passion fruit juice and added it to the tray.
“I think the cleaners are coming today too,” I said, bending down to fetch out the sauces. “Chocolate or toffee?” I asked.
“Both.” James replied. “As if you have cleaners.”
“Well I’m not going to clean this monstrosity.” I said. “We’ve got squirty cream?”
“What’s squirty cream?”
“Wow.” I said, pulling it out from the fridges. “I thought you were into all things muggle?” I gave it to him. He weighed it up in his hands and looked confused. “You’ll see,” I said.
I put the waffles in the microwave for about ten seconds. They always tasted better warm.
“Upstairs then?” I said, carefully picking up the tray and watching as my juice sloshed around dangerously in the glass. James grabbed it off the tray and offered me a poor attempt at a smile. It seemed we had both learnt to tolerate each other’s presence.
For the past couple of day’s I hadn’t had to resort to becoming silent to the point that he couldn’t stand it (which was good, because I wasn’t a fan of silence either) and there had actually been a few occasions when I’d sensed that he was actually enjoying himself. Admittedly, these were occasions when I was feeding him/he got to use my crazy-technology... but still, it was much more peaceful to sense than this frustrated awkwardness all the time. That, in turn, meant I was a lot more comfortable... and thus it formed a nice circle of things actually getting better.
“Which room?” I asked at the top of the trek to my floor, the top floor.
“Erm... this one,” James said nodding to the room that had been designated as the ‘reflection room.’ It was small and white and not exactly the room I’d pick to reflect in, if I was honest, but... there we go. My attempts at making the place more homely were two overly soft sofas and a thick rug. It wasn’t much. I nodded, setting down the tray down on the floor and sitting down with my legs crossed.
James, for his part, was now examining the squirty cream “What do you do with it?”
“Take off the lid.” I instructed. “See that button type thing? Press it.” He stared at it confusedly for a few seconds before following my instructions. The lid fell to the ground, making a loud clunking noise against the tray. I hastily bent to pick it up. By the time I was facing him again James appeared to have mastered the engineering genius of the squirty cream... by spraying it all over his face.
He spluttered stupidly.
“This is immense.” He declared, wiping the cream off his glasses. It was very hard not to laugh at him. I just about managed it.
“It’s a good job the cleaners are coming today,” I muttered, looking at the blobs of cream that had either fallen off his face, or missed during the epic squirting (I was a little bit upset that I’d missed it to be honest). “Otherwise you’d be scrubbing the floors.”
He ignored me.
“Aw, man, I’ve got it on my jeans,” James said, now trying to rub off the cream from his trousers.
I looked away awkwardly.
“Hey, Cassie?” James asked lightly. And then I heard that dreamed squirting noise and... I had face full of cream too. “Thought it might help with the blushing,” He grinned. I swore (blushing even more profoundly under the thick layer of cream) and wiped it off my face with my arm.
“This is not how I envisioned this going,” I muttered, attempting to remove a blob of cream from my hair in vein. James was smirking like this was the funniest thing in the world. It was pretty funny.
“Is this stuff supposed to taste good?” James asked, now transferring cream from face, to finger, to mouth looking intrigued.
“Yes,” I informed him, reaching for my waffle still feeing decidedly amused.
“It does,” He added, squirting more on his finger (and in doing so getting it all over the sofa behind him). “It’s like one of those facemask things,”
“I’m not sure it’s quite the same.”
“Pretty much.” James said, now using the plate to make cream patterns. “I’d rather have cream on my face than mud,”
“Well, yes,” I agreed. I should have known that my agreement would lead to another face full of the stuff. “What a waste,” I laughed, scooping it off my face and flicking it at him. It landed in his hair.
“Oh it is on.” James grinned, pointing the squirty cream at me like a gun.
“Let’s be reasonable about this.” I said, edging backwards nervously.
“You creamed my hair!” He declared in mock indignation. “The hair is off limits.” Then he pulled the trigger, so to speak – and there was cream flying at me.
Well, most of it didn’t quite make the journey and instead just landed on the thick fluffy carpet in a mushy mess. I stood up and skipped backwards, behind the sofa, and ducked as James tried a new tact (squirting cream onto hand before throwing it). Unfortunately Quidditch meant that he was far too good a shot, and the cream arched over the sofa and landed on my head.
“You’ve creamed my hair now,” I said standing up with my hands in the air. “Let’s call it quits.”
Of course that led to another cream-ambush.
“James,” I complained – no longer even attempting to protect myself against the onslaught. “Look at the mess.” I stepped round the sofa, and looked in dismay at the ‘reflection room’ which had now been redecorated in cream. Mostly the floor. A little bit on the walls. I took another step forward and then... stepped on the tray/Belgium waffle and sent myself flying forward onto the floor. My passion fruit juice upturned onto my dress, I wacked my head on the chocolate sauce, and I was now well and truly covered with cream.
Let’s just say that my face was suddenly very hot.
James looked at me for a second, still armed with squirty cream, and bit his lip. Then, bizarrely, we were both laughing like lunatics (giving James the perfect opportunity to squirt the rest of the cream directly downwards on top of me. Around half of it ended up in my mouth. Then I accidently inhaled it and started chocking. At that point James seemed genuinely concerned about my health and offered me hand up).
“Bugger,” I said, glancing down at my cream covered summer dress in dismay. “How the hell are we going to clean this up?”
“That’ll be the cleaner,” I said as I heard the familiar ring of the doorbell. I quickly dried my hands and checked my reflection in the mirror. My face was cream-less, the big blobs in my hair had been removed (and the rest of it had basically been rubbed in), but my dress was still covered in the stuff. Still, it was improvement. “Come on,” I said, nodding towards the bathroom (more specifically, my bathroom) door.
“Are you sure about this?” James questioned.
“Yes,” I said. “She’s lovely. She’ll sort this in about a second. She is a cleaner, after all.”
“Suppose,” James shrugged. “Just... don’t you think it’s going to be a bit difficult to explain? I mean, us coming to the door, covered in cream...”
Again my face flushed scarlet.
James laughed at me.
I rolled my eyes and took the steps two at a time, half running towards the front door. The cream was sticky and uncomfortable... and it was beginning to smell. It didn’t particularly want to spend any more time smelling of sour cream. I should have just gotten changed but I felt that considering James couldn’t change... that I shouldn’t either.
“Jenny!” I declared, throwing open the door and expecting to come face to face with our cleaner. The one person we’d employed for more than a year, and the one person that could sort this creamy mess out. Alas...
It was a fifty year old smoking man at the doorway. And I was covered in cream. Sodding hell.
“Er, hi?” I suggested, feeling my face flush for the millionth time today. How to make a conversation between two strangers even more awkward? Have one of them blushing so much it looks like someone’s coloured their faces in with block red marker, then cover one of them in an indefinable white substance and add the putrid smell of going-sour-cream.
James, who had just appeared beside me, appeared to be finding this very funny.
“Hi,” The man said in return. At least he seemed not to be bothered at being addressed as Jenny. “Delivery for a... C Banks?”
“That’s me.” I saw awkwardly.
“Right, I’ll bring it in.” He said. He pulled out his wand –a thick affair that looked like it was very old and not very well used – and waved it about clumsily. “Bugger,” He added when nothing happen. On the second attempt the sofa I’d ordered appeared.
“No,” I said suddenly, taking a step back and eyeing the sofa in alarm. I suddenly felt tense and panicked all at the same time. My eyes widened. It had such a horrible aura about it... fear and panic all mixed into this horrible presence. There was magic too, buzzing all around it in a wash, dark magic. That little thrill of pain. I bit my lip and took a tentative step forwards.
I couldn’t manage the second; it was too strong, too vivid... too painful. Still, the man was giving me a strange look and I could sense their mounting sense of confusion. I pushed myself into reaching out my hand and felt the shuddering pulse of its pain.
“What’s wrong Cassie?” James asked. Now I was definitely going to be labelled as Crazy Cassie forever. Still, I wasn’t sure how anyone could be so blind? How anyone could not feel uncomfortable in the presence of such a horrible... sofa?
“It’s... it’s not good.” I said, hoping he’d gather I was talking about more than the red-brown pattern of the silk material. I edged forward a little more forcing myself to touch the thing. I instantly felt a lot colder.
“Look, love, if you don’t want it, you shouldn’t have ordered it,”
“Well I didn’t know someone was going to have been murdered on it!” I snapped back, suddenly irritated by his lack of perception. The murder bit was a slight guess, but then again... the last time I’d sensed something like this it had been the house were the girl had been murdered by her father... it was too powerful a feeling to be anything more trivial.
“What the hell?” The guy said, dropping his fag on the floor and stamping on it in annoyance.
“Look,” I said, pushing myself even further and lifting up one of the embroidered cushions. “Blood stain.” A large one too. I cringed away from it, allowing both James and the man to lean over and take a long glance at the dark brown stain.
“How the fuck did you know that was there?” he demanded.
I took a step backwards, away from the perimeter of the sofa’s pulse, and back into the safer zone. “That doesn’t matter. You tried to sell me something that was stained.” I folded my arms.
“Look, kid, I didn’t sell you anything, I’m just a delivery boy.”
“Well deliver it back.” I demanded (blushing ever so slightly).
“Fine,” The man said, waving his wand so that the sofa disappeared. I instantly felt much better and much more embarrassed. “Sorry about the er... blood stain.”
“It’s fine.” I said, turning around and walking back up to the house. James followed and I shut the door behind us, taking a deep breath.
“What was that about?” James asked, staring at me curiously. Bloody curious again. I didn’t want to capture James Potter’s curiosity... I wanted to be left alone. And not be faced with murder scenes when I ordered furniture.
The doorbell rang again.
“What do you want?” I asked, throwing back open the door and fully expecting to be face to face with the bloody delivery guy. “Oh, hey Jenny,” I said sheepishly. Obviously this was just not my day.
“So, what’s it like?” James said, scooping another spoonful of ice cream out of the tub. “When you sense things?”
“It’s hard to explain,” I sighed, taking another spoonful of ice cream myself. “It’s like... there’s another colour, or another dimension, when I really think about it... but mostly it’s just there.”
“I guess I believe you,” James said lightly. “After all... you did find that blood stain.” I stayed silent and took another spoonful of ice cream; I was hardly going to explain myself to James Potter. Why should I care if he didn’t believe me?
“Is it better now Cassie?” James questioned, nodding at the ‘reflection room’.
“Yeah, Jenny cleaned it right up.”
“No, not that,” James said. “I meant about you being comfortable in here?”
I stared at him for a long moment. Was that why James had suggested Waffles upstairs? Why he had started throwing cream? It was James’s turned to feel embarrassed (which of course I sensed as clear as day). I stared at him for a long time, trying to work him out but... for once... I came up with a blank.
What. The. Hell.
A/N - Reviews please :D
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