Chapter 14 : Accesion
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This chapter isn’t as long as I wanted it to be, but there was no other place to end it and still have chapter 15 be what it needs to be.
I rubbed my hands together, and let out a deep breath into them. It was nearing the end of November, and it was getting to be very cold out. I was not looking forward to Astronomy class. “Do we have to go to Astronomy? It’s too bloody cold out.”
I looked to my left at Jen as she giggled. “You can skip it if you want, but I’ve been looking forward to this class all day.”
“Only because there’s a cute boy that’s in love with you in it.” I muttered, just loud enough for her to hear me.
She rolled her eyes. “Because being able to read the stars is extremely important in Divination. Which is an art.”
I snorted, quite ungracefully. “Art. Right.”
“It is. Just because your Mum butchers it, doesn’t mean it’s not. I mean, without divination Voldemort would be ruling the world, and we wouldn’t have ever met Annily.” Jen reached over and frustrated gripped my hands. I guess my constant rubbing of them didn’t exactly amuse her.
“Having the sight isn’t something you can learn, Jen.” I pulled my hands out of her grip and adjusted my scarf. Jen was only wearing a thin pair of gloves and a winter cloak. She didn’t have the scarf or ear muffs I was sporting.
“Obviously not. You can, however, learn how to read the signs the universe gives us every day. Just so you know, that is what divination is.”
It was my turn to roll my eyes as we walked out onto the roof that class was being held on that night. “Whatever.”
Jen sighed. “Your Mum ruined it for you. It’s actually quite amazing.”
“I’m sure that’s it. It’s got nothing to do with it all being hogs woggle.” I walked over to where Fred and James were, surprisingly, already seated. Just like always, I made it a point to get there before Jen so I could take the seat next to Fred. “Hello there, boys.”
“Cam.” James smiled at me, “Jen, you look lovely.”
Without even the slightest blush Jen gave James a huge grin. “Why thank you.”
They seemed to be sharing a moment of some kind. If I was more romantic I’d say they were gazing into each other’s eyes. I shared a look with Fred before we both started making gagging sounds. Originally Fred and I had both tended to shrink away when they looked like they were getting cozy, but after about a month of them always seeming to be cozy—with the blatant exception of the week following her mother’s most recent divorce—we decided it would be better to mock them. The mocking didn’t seem to discourage them, so I took it as a good sign.
Jen turned and threw a crumpled ball of parchment at us.
“Oi, careful! You could hurt someone if a corner went in their eye or something!” Fred grinned.
“Very likely.” Jen responded with a laugh.
“I wonder why Sinistra is late this time?” I wondered aloud.
“I still swear she and Professor Longbottom are getting it on, and that’s why she’s always late.” James shrugged, pulling out his star charts.
“She’s more than twice his age.” Jen cringed.
Fred started pulling out his work as well. “Yeah, mate, pretty sure she taught his parents.”
I decided to follow suit and get my work out too. I liked getting it over with, because Professor Sinistra didn’t mind students talking once they were finished, so long as they didn’t disrupt the students that were still working.
“Guys, can you say cougar?!” James made rather inappropriate gestures to illustrate his point.
“Ew.” I wrinkled my nose.
Jen giggled, and grabbed one of James’s still gesturing hands and pulled it back down to his lap, where her hand lingered just a moment too long for the touch to be casual. They quickly fell into another romantic staring contest, which quickly led Fred to poking James in the stomach, and me throwing the balled up piece of parchment back at Jen.
“What are we going to do about these two, Cam?” Fred looked at me.
I shook my head. “I don’t know. I think we might have to separate them.”
“I concur.” Fred turned back to James and Jen. “Do we need to send you two to opposite corners of this roof?”
Jen rolled her eyes—again—and pushed her hair behind her ears. The only time she ever seemed embarrassed was when Fred and I verbalized our opinions on their behaviour.
James shook his head. “No! Jen and I have to stay together, or else one of you two will have to explain this stuff to me.”
I smiled. James had only continued with Astronomy because he knew how much Jen loved it. He was also still in Divination. While she certainly hadn’t known this before, Jen had realized this fact since we started going to class with him and he clearly knew very little of what we were studying. Jen had been quite accommodating when it came to tutoring him. For some reason I don’t think she felt all that put out by it.
It was about this time that Professor Sinistra came in, and started lecturing on the star clusters we were going to be charting until the end of term.
I felt a bit guilty, watching the Jen and James interact only furthered my opinion that Jen should give him a chance. She clearly wanted to. Even while listening to Professor Sinistra, Jen was leaning toward James like they were magnets, and James couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. It would be easy for me to get the two of them on a date, all I had to do was tell James the truth.
My reason for not telling him in the first place was because of Jen’s Mum’s divorce, but that had been weeks ago. It looked like she was recovered—er, well, recovering—nicely. She hadn’t written her Mum, despite receiving a letter almost every single day, but she had written her—now former—step father a few times. He had apparently promised to always be there for her if she needs him. I think that helped. I could tell James now and it probably wouldn’t affect her any worse than it would have before the divorce; but I did promise Jen I wouldn’t tell.
Honestly, this was far more complicated than it needed to be. I just needed to make up my mind once and for all. Was breaking my promise to Jen, and revealing to James that he had won their little bet—I probably wouldn’t tell him how long it had been—and that he was free to collect on his prize, worth the risk? Part of me thought that it was, but then, there was the part of me that just kept whispering “but you promised Jen.”
My Dad told me once that it was only okay to break a promise if someone’s safety was at risk, and no one’s was in this scenario. Maybe I could try to convince Jen to let me out of it? Probably not. I decided not to worry about it, and to enjoy the class. There was nothing I could do; I’d promised Jen that I wouldn’t tell James to truth, and that meant that I wouldn’t tell him; no matter how badly I wanted to. As simple as that.
Class, as always with Fred and James, went by pretty quickly. Jen helped James with his star charts, a little closer to him than was really necessary; and Fred and I sat back and talked about whatever we could think of. That particular lesson, our discussion was on whether or not his dad’s fireworks had lost some of their shock value due to overuse. I maintained that they were always fun, but Fred was determined to come up with something that would blow the minds of all the residents of Hogwarts. He was apparently hording various potions in his dorm to use as experiments; and his dorm mates were not impressed with him because they were all starting to smell.
Overall, it was a good time; like always.
“What? Class is over already?” James whined as everyone around him started packing up their bags.
“Yes, Jimmy-boy, class is over. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got the entire walk back to the common room for you to continue drooling over Jen, here.” Fred grinned as he stood up.
“Actually, you don’t. Cam and I aren’t going straight back to the dorm.” Jen blushed, closing her backpack.
Fred gave an exaggerated gasp and put his hand to his chest. “That’s against the rules!”
I giggled. “Because you’ve never broken curfew before!”
“Fred and I could keep you two company?” James offered as he stood up.
“That’s okay. We’re just going for a walk to get Cam’s gitters out, talking about girl stuff.” Jen linked her arm with mine and put her head on my shoulder. I couldn’t see Jen’s face, but I imagine that her face had the exact same cheeky smile as mine did.
“You heard the ladies, Jimmy-Boy, best we leave them to it.” Fred clapped James on the back and began to forcibly drag him away as James just sort of sputtered out a few final compliments to Jen.
Jen and I walked to the other door on the roof. I shook my head. “He is so in love with you.”
“I know.” Jen sighed. “Maybe someday.”
I looked at her. “Was that you admitting to wanting to be with James?”
Jen shook her head. “No. That was me saying that, maybe, someday, I could see it happening. Maybe.”
“Why don’t you let me tell James that he won the bet?”
“No!” Jen started rummaging through her backpack. “Maybe someday, I’d like to give it a shot, but that day is not today.”
Jen interrupted me with a triumphant “Ah ha!” and she pulled an older edition of Witch Weekly out. “Here, I want you to show you something.”
“Okay?” I leaned closer to her as she flipped through the pages of the magazine.
“Here it is!” Jen stopped near the back in the section that was called Spotted. She pointed at the bottom of the page to a picture of Al and me from that Hogsmede trip a while back.
“Dear lord, why?” I sighed, pulling the magazine out of her hands to get a closer look. It wasn’t the same picture that made it into the Prophet. It was a picture that must have been taken right at the moment that Al and I tripped. Al had his arms around my waist and we both had big goofy grins on our faces, and we had clearly lost balance and were in the process of falling. It was actually a really nice picture. If I hadn’t been so creeped out over the fact that someone had—apparently—followed Al and I around all day taking pictures, I would have been really happy to see the picture.
I looked back up at Jen. “And I needed to see this, why?”
“No reason. I just noticed you’re spending a lot of time with Al lately.”
I looked away from magazine in my hands. “We’re friends.”
Jen gave me an exasperated look. “Sure. Friends.”
I rolled my eyes at her, and then turned my attention back to the picture. It really was a very nice picture; much better than the one from the Prophet where Al looked positively miserable. If I ignored the creepy factor, I actually really liked it.
I turned when I heard Jen giggle. “What?”
“Oh nothing.” Jen waved me off, and looked away with a grin.
“No, seriously, what’s so funny?”
“It’s just...” Jen laughed. “You’re just friends with Al, and yet you’ve spent the last five minutes staring at a picture of him with a lovesick smile.”
I felt my face heat up. “I have not!”
I closed the magazine and shoved it into my bag.
“Sure.” Jen laughed again. “Is there a reason you’re trying to steal my magazine then?”
My face felt like it was on fire, I could only imagine it was as red as... well... something that’s really red... I guess... I slowly reached into my bag and pulled out the magazine, and held it out for Jen without looking at her. I didn’t have to look at her to know that she was staring me down with a perfectly smug face.
I heard the sound of paper ripping. I looked over to see that Jen was ripping the picture out of the magazine. “What are you doing?”
“I’m giving you the picture.” Jen answered simply, holding it out to me.
“Why?” I asked, while still taking it from her. It really was a very nice picture.
“I know I’m screwed up, Cam, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see it when someone has an opportunity to fall in love.”
I met Jen’s eyes. She looked conflicted. I suppose she was, now that I think about it. If Al and I were to be together, there would be no denying to James that he had won the bet. Even knowing that, she was still encouraging me to go for Al.
It occurred to me at this point that I hadn’t thought once during the entire conversation that Jen was wrong or mistaken.
I smiled at Jen. “Thanks,” I carefully placed the picture in my Astronomy book so that it wouldn’t get wrinkled or torn. “but I really don’t know how I feel about Al.”
“Yes, you do, you’re just scared.” Jen tilted her head to the side, in a way that made me twinge with envy. How is it she made everything look so easily beautiful? “Cam, I get it, believe me, but just because I let my fears dictate my life doesn’t mean you should too.”
Was that it? Was I just scared? Losing Malcolm had hurt so much, and it had taken so long to move on; was I really letting myself believe that I didn’t have real feelings for Al just so that I wouldn’t have to go through that again?
“I think you should listen to your own advice, Jen” I heard myself say, but I wasn’t really paying attention to Jen anymore.
Al was amazing, I knew that. He was smart, and kind, and sweet, and good looking, and completely in love with me; what else was there that I could really ask for? He was more than that though; he was willing to go clothes shopping with me, he teased me about my inability to do magic, he made me get on a broom and go flying, and he took me to the Room of Requirement and compared me to one of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen.
I looked over at Jen, who was just walking patiently next to me. “Jen?”
“Yeah?” She smiled serenely at me.
“Let’s say you’re right, what am I supposed to do about it?” I pulled my hair down and put the elastic around my wrist to fiddle with.
“You’re asking me?” Jen asked incredulously. “Just the thought of acting on my feelings is enough to make me pee myself.”
I sighed. “Then why did you bring this up at all if you’re not going to help?”
Jen wrapped her arm around my waist. “No one can decide if it’s worth the risk but you, Cam.”
I leaned my head on Jen’s shoulder, and took a deep breath. “I think I might really like him, Jen.” Suddenly I felt like a weight was lifted from my chest, it was amazing.
“I know you do.” Jen leaned her head on top of mine. “What are you going to do about it?”
I thought about it. Getting my heart broken had been terrible, but I couldn’t bring myself to regret my relationship with Malcolm as a whole. It had been wonderful and beautiful and completely worth the pain in the end.
Al and I were friends first, unlike Malcolm and I. I had only sort of liked Malcolm in the beginning, where I was starting to realize just how much I liked Al; did that mean the relationship would be even better? Even if it wasn’t better, even if it was equal, then it would still be absolutely perfect.
I had been confused about my feelings for so long, conflicted and worried. I wasn’t confused anymore. I knew what I wanted.
“I’m going to go for it.”
I wanted Al.
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