Well... er... yeah... at least it wasn’t a whole year this time...
On the bright side! We are excruciatingly close to Camry pulling her head out of the sand!
For the first time since probably the year began, I was really looking forward to Charms class. Sure, over the last couple of months I’d come to not loathe the class because of Al, but for some reason, today felt different. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but it was probably because Vanessa was spending most of her time with Axel, and I was spending most of my time on my own, or with Al. I had found myself looking for excuses to approach and spend time with him, which I know is silly; I really didn’t need an excuse.
However, my favourite excuse to use was Charms class, and I just couldn’t wait for that class. The old—and almost deaf—Professor Flitwick could never hear anyone when they talked during class.
I couldn’t help the bounce in my step as I made my way to the door for Charms class. I felt a quick moment of annoyance when I felt someone pull me into a corner. I looked up to see an extremely angry Margo Baker. I snickered, wondering if I’d ever seen her when she wasn’t angry.
“This is getting old, Camry.” Margo crossed her arms over her chest.
“Really?” I rolled my eyes. “I was just about to say the same thing.”
Margo snarled at me. “You think you’re funny?”
I was about to say that yes, I did think I was funny, when Margo put her hand over my mouth with enough force to crack my head against the wall, and hold it there.
“That was rhetorical.” I think the sound of my skull colliding with stone cheered her up because she almost looked content at this point. “Now, Camry, we have a little problem. You see, I told you to stay away from Albus and you’re just not listening to me.”
I tried to shake her hand away to speak, but she just gripped my cheeks tighter, not to mention the fact that my vision was blurring a little. “No, no, little Camry. I’m not done yet.”
With a deep breath Margo continued; “What I’m trying to get at here is; you need to stop thinking you can beat me at this little game you’re playing at. That article in the Prophet was only the beginning. It wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg of what I’m capable of, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll put an end to your little romance right now.”
I reached up and pulled Margo’s hand off of my mouth. “First, there is no little romance going on between Al and I. Second, even if there was, it wouldn’t be any of your business. And third, what are you going to do? Have an article released saying that I’m secretly a man? I don’t care.”
That’s a lie. I did care. I cared a lot, but I wasn’t going to let her know that. She was scary enough as it was. I mean, honestly, what was this girl’s problem?
“If you want to think articles in the Prophet are all I’m capable of, then that’s your mistake.” Margo took a step back. “Just know this, Camry, you’re not good enough for him, and you really need to back off so that someone who is can move in.”
“What? You think you’re good enough for him?” I almost slapped my hand over my own mouth.
Margo’s eye narrowed to the point that she kind of looked like a snake. “Better than you at least.”
With that, Margo turned around and calmly left. Her being calm was almost more terrifying than her rage. I took a deep, calming, breath and shook my head. “Ow...” I rubbed the back of my head, and continued on my way to class. These increasingly scary encounters were becoming almost routine in my days.
When I walked into Charms, I was greeted with the exuberant smile of Albus Potter and couldn’t help but return it with one of my own. I didn’t still have the bounce in my step, but that was okay. Al could always cheer me up, even if I did have a pounding headache!
Al gave me a quizzical look as I sat down. I pretended not to notice, and instead focused on pulling my parchment and quill out.
“You okay?” Al touched my arm and I couldn’t help but feel a flutter in my belly.
“What do you mean?” I turned to look at him.
“You look like you’re in pain?” Al raised a single eye brow at me—why could everyone but me do that?
“I hit my head on the wall, it’s no big deal.” I waved him off.
I smiled at him. “Are you worried for me, Al?”
With a snarky grin, Al said “Only that you’ll get even worse at Charms class.”
I would have laughed, but my head hurt, so I just grinned instead.
“Attention class!” Professor Flitwick shouted from the front of the class. The poor man couldn’t even hear himself talk. “Today we will be working in pairs on the Extension Charm. Please come up and grab a rucksack for practice!”
With a shared look, Al got up to grab the rucksack. I rubbed the sensitive spot on the back of my head and wondered if Al would still be so keen on being Margo’s friend if he knew the truth about her. I tried to ignore the tinge of bitterness that crept into my mind whenever I thought about Al spending time with her. Though, if I really thought about it, I’d never actually seen them talking, or heard Al mention her...
Maybe—no, there was no way Margo was that crazy, was there? They had to be friends. Why would anyone put so much effort into pursuing a boy that they weren’t even on speaking terms with?
“It’s like a battle zone up there!” Al laughed as he sat down with a pink rucksack.
“Yeah?” I took the rucksack and placed it on the desk. “Hey, Al?”
“Yeah, Cam?” Al asked distractedly as he pulled his notebook out.
“Do you know Margo Baker?” I asked as I did the same.
Al looked at me. “Margo Baker?”
I nodded. Al shrugged. “Yeah, I guess. I used to work with her in Care of Magical Creatures, because no one else was willing to. She was a little intense, but I guess she was okay.”
I scraped my chair closer to Al, suddenly paranoid that she was going to run up to me and kill me. “So you’re not friends with her or anything?”
“No?” Al looked really cute when he was confused. “Why?”
“Oh, she just said some things implying that the two of you were best friends or something. I was just curious because I’ve never seen you two talking.”
“She did?” Al laughed a little. “I don’t think she has many friends. I know two girls that she talks to, but no one else. I was just trying to be nice to her. I haven’t talked to her since our Magical Creatures OWL. She probably thinks we were really good friends, so that’s probably what she meant.”
I wanted to say no, that’s not what she meant. She’s got some psycho stalker obsession with you. Instead I smiled and said “Yeah, probably.”
“When were you talking to her?” Al asked after casting the charm on the rucksack.
“Oh, we run into each other from time to time.” I shrugged. I didn’t want to think about what she would do if I said something to him to make him think less of her. I was not a fan of pain, and I honestly believed Margo would resort to it.
“Hey, why don’t you give the Charm a shot?” Al undid his charm and handed me the bag with a mocking grin.
I frowned at him and took it. “I hate you.”
“You love me!”
I laughed and nodded, then turned to the bag. I took a deep breath and muttered the incantation, only to have the rucksack shrink in half. I turned a miserable look on Al, who looked utterly shocked.
“Al? You okay?”
With a visible shake Al nodded. “Yeah, no problem.” He glanced at the bag and gave me a condescending look. “You seriously suck at magic.”
I shoved the bag into Al’s chest and laughed. “But you love me anyway, right?”
Al gave me a look that I was convinced I must be reading wrong, and nodded. “Right.”
“Right, well, er—“ I pulled out my bun and pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and smiled awkwardly. “I guess I’ll have to try again, then?”
Al was actually very encouraging with helping me with the spell. By the end of class, I had actually managed to get it right. I was quite proud of myself until Flitwick noticed and made an announcement to the rest of the class about it. Everyone knew I was terrible, that didn’t mean it needed to be advertised to the whole world.
“Great,” I muttered to Al, “way to make me feel special. Announce to the class what a miracle it is that I got something right.”
“Aw, don’t worry about him. He’s so senile he doesn’t even notice that you ace every paper you write.” Al grinned and poked me as I finished packing up my things.
“Thanks.” I smiled at him, and caught his hand as he went in for another poke.
“Hey!” Al pouted, when I didn’t let go. “No fair!”
“What’s no fair, is you poking me while I’m distracted!” I poked him.
“Hey,” Al asked as we made our way out the door, rubbing his freed finger in a very exaggerated fashion. “What do you have right now?”
“Me? I actually have a free period, Astronomy tonight.”
“Yeah? Arithmancy was cancelled because Professor Donelly accidently got himself covered in Bobuter puss, so I’ve got a free period too.”
I smiled. “You want to hang out somewhere? It’s really cold out, or I’d ask if you want to go up to the roof again.”
“We could go up to the roof. Unlike you, I can do magic and a warming charm is actually very simple.” Al gave me a small shove, causing my head to twinge a bit, but it wasn’t so bad.
“Ha ha. Or we could go explore the castle. Have you ever done that? Just wander aimlessly through the halls? It’s really fun.”
Al gave me another one of those look that made me decidedly uncomfortable. “What?” I pulled my hair down and combed through it with my hand.
“Nothing. Exploring the castle is actually one of my favourite things to do. Have you ever been to the Room of Requirement?”
“Room of what?” I asked, pulling my hair back up into a ponytail.
Before I even put my arms back down, Al reached out and grabbed my hand, suddenly extremely excited. “Come on, you’ll love this place!”
I laughed as Al started pulling me through the halls without waiting for a response. “Alright then!”
We hadn’t gotten very far when we ran into Don. “Al, hey!” Don turned and smiled at me, “Camry.”
I smiled back, a little awkwardly. I wasn’t very comfortable around Don lately. He really was just a little scary.
“Don, Cam and I were actually just about to go somewhere.” Al waved, and tried to pull me past him.
“Oh, okay then.” I noticed Don glance at our still entwined hands and nod. “I’ve got to talk to you later, though.”
“Yeah, sure thing!” Al had to raise his voice a little because we were already halfway out of sight.
I giggled. “You really want to get to this room!”
“Huh?” Al paused to look at me.
“You wouldn’t even talk to your best friend?” I was a little relieved at the pause, Al was in much better shape than me.
“I share a room with him, I can talk to him any time I want.” Al shrugged and started up some stairs, a little bit slower this time. I think he noticed I was a little winded.
I felt my face heat up a little bit as we found ourselves in a slightly crowded hallway. “Alright then.”
Al just grinned at me, and pulled me forward to walk next to him instead of trailing behind him. I tried not to focus on the fact that I was holding hands with Albus Potter the way that a girlfriend would. The fact that half the school already thought we were in some kind of abusive relationship didn’t help my embarrassment much.
“So, you’re in class with Fred and James, right?” Al asked. He seemed to be walking taller than normal, and I didn’t really know how to react. I always liked seeing Al the way others saw him; confident and charming.
I nodded. “In Astronomy, yeah.”
“Are they as irritating in class as they are outside of it?”
I giggled. “No, actually, they’re not so bad. Jen and I usually sit with them, actually.”
“Yeah, I know, James loves Astronomy for that reason.”
We came up to yet another set of stairs, and I was trying really hard to pretend that I didn’t notice that there were a lot of people staring and pointing.
“Of course he does.” I smiled, and leaned into Al’s shoulder to give him a sort of half shove. “He’d love History of Magic if it meant he got to sit next to Jen.”
“That’s true.” Al nodded. “I can’t really fault him though, I don’t think I would have minded that class so much if I had gotten to sit with you.”
We both stopped in our tracks. I turned to look at Al, whose face was beet red; I didn’t need a mirror to know mine was the same way.
Al let go of my hand to cover his mouth while he let out the most forced and awkward cough I’d ever heard.
“Um...” I didn’t know what I could say to make this situation less awkward.
“What I mean was, uh, that, uh, well...” Al ran his hand through his hair, “Charms is a lot more fun with you, so History of Magic probably would have been too.”
That wasn’t what he meant, and we both knew it. I smiled anyway, and reached out for his hand again. “Yeah. Ditto.”
I could feel the relief coming off of him in waves as he smiled and took my hand. We walked in only slightly awkward silence up yet another set of stairs.
“Where is this room anyway? What floor are we even on?” I asked, looking around. Divination was the only class I’d ever had higher than the previous floor we’d been on.
“We’re on the seventh floor, and the room is right here.”
I looked around. “Is this like the kitchens? Do we have to tickle something, or what?”
Al laughed, leading me down the corridor. “Well, you could tickle some things, I guess, but it really wouldn’t do you any good.”
“Well where is it then? There’s no door?” I asked as we reached the end.
“You really don’t like surprises, do you?” Al grinned, turning around and leading me down the exact same corridor again.
“I like surprises fine, thank you. I’m just confused is all.” I looked around. “Why are we walking up and down the corridor?”
“You’ll see.” I could tell Al was trying not to walk with a swagger at this point.
We reached the end and turned around again. I tried not to let Al see how frustrated I was getting. I mean really, what was the point of this?
Suddenly, though, a door appeared in the wall. “What?” I looked up at Al, who only gave me that look again.
“Open it up.”
With a questioning glance, I let go of Al’s hand and reached for the doorknob. Al was so excited, I started to feel excited too. I took a deep breath and swung the door open.
I felt my jaw drop as I was greeted with the most elaborately decorated greenhouse I’d ever seen. There were flowers all over. Rare flowers, exotic flowers, muggle flowers, and magical flowers alike. I walked into the room and up to a cherry blossom tree in the very center.
“Al, what is this place?” I reached out and plucked a blossom from the tree.
“It’s the Room of Requirement. It gives you exactly what you want.”
I turned around to face him, holding the blossom in front of my nose. “Does it ever. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. How do you get here?”
“You walk up and down the corridor thinking of what you want.” Al walked over to a bunch of Hydrangeas.
“You were thinking of a green house?” I giggled. Al’s dislike for Herbology wasn’t exactly a secret.
“No, actually, I was thinking...” Al paused and looked away from me. “I was thinking about a place that you’d like.”
I smiled, and put the blossom down. I walked over to Al and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”
Al looked me in the eye, and suddenly I felt like someone was trying to smother me. “Cam...”
“Yeah?” I asked, my voice was only above a whisper. For some reason I felt talking would ruin something; what, I didn’t know.
Suddenly Al looked away, and walked over toward pink blossoms on a pink vine. “Do you know what these are?”
I walked over next to him. “No clue. I’m really more of a Potions girl.” I pulled my hair out of its ponytail, and put it back up in a bun. “Why?”
“This is the kind of flower you are.” Al gently ran his fingers over it. “I wish I knew what they were.”
I giggled as a card appeared in front of the flower. I reached out and picked it up. “Bleeding Heart.”
Al turned to look at me, surprised. “What?”
“This card says it’s called Bleeding Heart. It also says that these whimsical and fairy-like blossoms come in red, pink, or white; and traditionally grow in April, May, and June.”
Al laughed. “I’m sorry!”
“I decided you were a Bleeding Heart!”
I laughed. “It’s okay, Al. This is the most beautiful flower in this place. It’s a compliment if I ever heard one.”
“Yeah, that’s sort of why I picked it.” Al shrugged. “That, and it’s pink and you’re a very pink girl.”
“How am I a pink girl?” I asked, moving on deeper into the beautiful garden.
“How are you not?” Al followed me. “You’re light, and happy, and cute, and if you were a colour you’d be pink.”
I bit my lip to keep from reacting to the compliment. It didn’t work. “You’re just full of these compliments today, aren’t you?”
Al shrugged. “You inspire me.”
“Yeah?” My face hurt from the size of my grin.
Al’s smile went from sweet to mischievous in less than a second. “So, what flower in here am I?”
I laughed. “Well...” I looked around. There were so many different flowers, so many different shapes and colours.
I spotted a simple, all green flower of to the side and walked up to it. It already had a tag next to it. I looked over my shoulder to see Al come up behind me. I picked up the tag and read it. I smiled. “You are the Green Anthurium.”
“And why is that?” Al plucked the flower off of its stem.
“Because it’s all green, and when I first met you all you seemed to be is a shy little boy. You didn’t have much else going on.” I saw that Al seemed disappointed.
“But then I took a closer look and saw how amazing you are. Look at the flower itself. It’s shaped like a heart.” I traced the heart shape with my finger tip. “It looks simple at first, but when you look closer you see all of the details and realize it’s beautiful.”
Al grabbed hold of my hand again. “You think I’m beautiful?” He teased.
I laughed and pushed him. “Shut up!”
Al laughed and raised his hands in surrender.
I suddenly felt overwhelmed and embarrassed, and felt the need to make a speedy escape. This was far too romantic. This was something a boyfriend and girlfriend did on a special date. I made a show of glancing at my watch and frowned. “We should probably head back soon. I actually have a Divination paper due next period, and I’ve only written half of it.”
Al looked at his own watch and sighed. “Yeah, sure. Don wanted to talk to me anyway, right?”
Al and I left the Room of Requirement and I made a beeline in the direction of the library, hoping Al wouldn’t ask questions. What was I doing? Why had I let that happen? The part that freaked me out the most was how comfortable I had been in the situation. Best not to think about it, I decided.
I walked into the library, not really sure how I was going to spend the next twenty minutes before Divination. I sat down at the first empty table I could find. I pulled out my Herbology text to read through. That greenhouse had inspired me to learn more about plants.
I’d only been sitting for a minute of two when someone sat across from me. I looked up briefly, expecting it to be some random Ravenclaw doing research for some such thing. It wasn’t, it was Vanessa and she was grinning at me.
“Fancy seeing you, stranger.” I smile at her, happily closing the Herbology book I’d been reading.
Vanessa fake pouted. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That the last time I saw you when weren’t in class, and you weren’t attached to your boyfriend at either the hip or mouth was so long ago, I just can’t remember.”
“I have been a little out of touch lately.” Vanessa sighed. “Well, I’m here now, what’s new?”
I almost said that there wasn’t really anything new at all, but that would be a lie. I was getting a sneaking suspicion as to why I hadn’t minded being in a romantic situation with Al. I sighed and pulled my hair out of its ponytail, and started fidgeting with the band.
“Would I be correct in assuming that there is, in fact, a very big new thing?”
I looked up at Vanessa’s face and started twisting the band tightly around my left pinky finger. She was leaning forward on the table, looking quite earnest. Her hair had grown out considerably; her bangs were now falling into her eyes, half over her glasses and half underneath them. The pink had faded from her hair to the point that you could barely tell it had ever been there, and the copper had changed into a strange orange colour. Irritatingly, she still looked great. I’d missed her lately, with her spending all of her time with Axel.
“I’ve missed you, Vee.”
“Is everything okay, Cam?” She looked worried now.
I smiled. “It is. I’m just entering a stage of vast confusion.” I pulled my hair back into its ponytail.
“Yeah?” Vanessa didn’t push me to talk about it, she never did. I think that’s why I always ended up telling her everything; because she didn’t expect me to.
“You’re catching me at a bad time, really. I just had the strangest experience, and I’m not sure if what I’m feeling right now is real or just a reaction to it.” That was true.
Vanessa just stayed quiet and raised an eyebrow at me. I was going to have to get someone to teach me that. Apparently everyone can do it!
I took a deep breath. I didn’t want to say it out loud. What if it wasn’t really real? I’d be making a big deal out of nothing. Then, I thought, Vee wouldn’t tell anyone. She never did. There was no harm in talking to her about this. She was the most amazing person I’d ever met.
“Al took me to this place, it’s called the Room of Requirement, and it is whatever the people in it want it to be, you know?” I leaned over the table, mimicking Vanessa’s position, to get closer to her so I could talk quieter. I didn’t think anyone was listening, but I did have a psycho crazy stalker, so you never know.
“And Al had it conjure up something that would impress me, because it was my first time there and he wanted it to be this great experience kind of thing. It ended up being this beautiful green house filled with all these different type of plants and flowers and things. Anyway, it ended up turning into this whole thing that I don’t think Al really noticed.
“We ended up comparing each other to these different types of plants, and he got all romantic, and then I sort of, you know accidentally, got all romantic too. As soon as I realized what was happening, I turned tail and got out of there, but now I’m really confused. I don’t know what I’m feeling right now. I could just be caught up in the moment, you know?”
I looked at Vanessa, praying she would hit me with some sort of beyond-her-years wisdom.
“Or you could actually have feelings for Al.” Or maybe she wouldn’t help at all.
“Maybe.” I leaned back in my seat again and tugged at my sleeve.
“What are you going to do?” Vanessa was still leaning forward. She looked so interested, like she was an actual, normal, teen aged girl enjoying a good gossip.
I sighed. “I’m not going to do anything! Come on, Vee!”
“What?” She smiled a little. “It’s not like Al isn’t a sure thing.”
“I know that!” I looked down at my lap. “I mean, what if I am just caught up in this? What if I’m just lonely and he’s nice and interested, and I’m just tricking myself? What if I follow through on what I’m not even sure I’m feeling, and then it turns out it’s not true? What would that do to him? I don’t want to be that girl.”
Vanessa reached over the table and held her hand out. I instantly reached out and took her hand in mine. “But what if you’re not just caught up in the situation? What if what you’re feeling has nothing to do with being lonely? What if he’s nice, and handsome, and sweet, and absolutely what you want in a guy, and you’re genuinely falling for this great person? Do you really want to look back on your life and wonder if this was your opportunity for a truly great love?”
She was right. She always was. I sighed. “What happened to boys being the ones who should make the first move?”
Vanessa giggled and let go of my hand. “That only works if there is a chance of the boy actually doing that. Waiting on Albus Potter will most likely kill you... of old age.”
I smiled. “I still don’t know, though.”
Vanessa shrugged. “It’s not like he’s going anywhere. The guy’s been in love with you for years. Take some time and think on it.”
I let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t want to wait and think on it! I want you to give me all the answers right now!” I pouted.
Vanessa grinned. “Look, it’s almost lunch time, so how about we go down and meet with the girls?”
“What?” I smirked, “Not eating with Axel today?”
Vanessa’s grin seemed to be a permanent fixture on her face, as she stood up. “We are taking a friend day!”
I felt excited as I packed up my stuff and stood up with her. “So I have the whole day with you, then?”
Vanessa held out her arm, and I instantly linked it with her. “You bet! We’ll get your emotional crisis dealt with!”
I laughed and put my head on her shoulder as we started walking toward the Great Hall. All thoughts of Al were pushed to the back on my mind at the prospect of spending some quality time with Vanessa.
“So, how are things going with loverboy?”
Vanessa reached her free hand to grasp my hand that was linked through her arm. “So amazing! Cam, I’m falling in love with this boy. He’s so sweet!”
I picked my head up and gave her hand a squeeze. “Good, you deserve it. You’ve had a rough life, you know? You’ve earned something beautiful.”
Vanessa gave me with a restrained look. “Cam...”
“I know! You don’t want to talk about that. I was just pointing out how much you’ve earned this.”
“Which is why you need to get your feelings straightened out, because you deserve some loving too!” Vanessa giggled, and I couldn’t help but join in.
“God, I love you.” I put my head back on her shoulder.
“I love you too.”
“I think you’re my soul mate, Vee. Seriously.” I hugged her arm to my side.
“Well, I won’t disagree with that. Cam, you and I were destined to be.” Vanessa hugged my arm back. “All we need now is for you to find a cute boy.”
“You’ve got boys on the brain!” I laughed. It felt good.