Chapter 9 : Don't Call Me Jimmy
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I spend the day in bed, as per my genius plan. The curtains and the hangings remain well and truly shut and I remain in an artificial night, despite the bright sun outside. I doze for hours and occasionally an obscure, embarrassing memory resurfaces and is just as quickly pushed back down, repressed into the darkest depths of my mind.
I’ve come to love my new dorm. The solitude, the big bed, the space, the privacy… everything. The carpet, the fireplace. It’s all perfect. But it’s kind of hard to really enjoy it all when it’s dawning on me how much I’ve screwed up over the last twenty hours. I can just see myself sitting on the floor in a crowded room, hair and make-up flawless but my behaviour portraying only my inability to interact with others. From what I can tell, I looked good last night. My appearance isn’t a priority but I guess I’m a reasonably attractive human being. That being said, I’ve got nothing on Dom, who’s tall, slim blonde and stunning, or April whose satiny brown skin and masses of gorgeous hair are absolutely, mind-blowingly beautiful.
Nothing like my mother in looks (or personality), my medium complexion, dark brown hair and brown eyes come from my father. I didn’t get his height, though - I’ve always been among the shortest of my age. I take care of my body in terms of what I eat, and sometimes what I drink, and in turn it doesn’t seem to mind that the only physical exercise I do is walking between classes. I wear more make-up than I should so my eyelashes are usually thick, black and decidedly long, and I’m in the habit of applying vanilla chapstick at regular intervals. Usually at school I wear my hair in simple styles - a sleek low bun, a messy updo, a braid, et cetera. So I suppose whenever anyone sees me at school, I look neat, orderly, well put together. Last night, after a few drinks, I was anything but. Gah.
Thankfully, sleep comes easily enough and I go down to dinner well after everyone else is already gone. A positive, really, because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to look James Potter in the eye again. Ever. I read by wand light until my eyes feel heavy again, then roll over and go right back off to sleep.
October, first year.
The first time I met Hagrid, I’d been wandering the grounds at twilight, evading my persistent Gryffindor housemates who were apparently hell bent on getting to know me. It was so annoying. I’d already taken to early dinners and avoiding the common room, but they jumped me every chance they got, asking me if I wanted to watch some quidditch do, or sneak out to some sweets shop. I was sure it wouldn’t take much longer, though, to convince them that it really wasn’t worth it.
Anyway, I was wandering the grounds when he accosted me from behind. I nearly wet myself right then and there, but he invited me into his hut for tea. I thought maybe I should decline, say something about my mother not wanting to talk to strangers, but firstly that would be lying and secondly I really had nothing else to do.
He was great. We got to talking over a cuppa - well, he did a lot of the talking and I pretty much just listened until he decided that it was too dark for me to be out and walked me back up to the castle, insisting I visit him again soon.
So I did. I had tea with him maybe once a fortnight, and eventually I started opening up to him. The small things at first; my love for music, my aspirations to be a doctor. After a while I told him some of the big things. The real stuff. My dad left the day after my ninth birthday. I haven’t heard from or seen him since. My mum is a certified basket case.
He was really nice about it. He never really tried to advise me, he was just there to listen and to understand. I knew I could trust him, but the biggest of secrets I always kept to myself. Part of me suspected he knew everything anyway. He knew, but understood.
When I emerge on Sunday morning, I’ve washed off all traces of Friday night, and I am bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’m not really. I think it’s quite likely that I have never fit that description in my entire life. But I do feel much better and the day passes in the familiar blur of books and quills and parchment that I have become so accustomed to over the last six years.
Monday and Tuesday pass quickly, too, and thankfully my days are so full of classes and study that I barely have time to dwell on the things I would rather not dwell on. I spend all my free time in the library, avoiding any and every form of human contact.
Wednesday is a different story.
Binns, our famed History of Magic teacher who just happens to be as dead as a doornail, and about as interesting, is giving the longest, most boring lecture I have ever been so unfortunate to witness. Almost the entire class, consisting of a mere nine students, is asleep. I can barely keep my eyes open. My hand is holding my head up and every time I blink it gets harder to open my eyes again.
We’ve been locked in this dark, musky room for over an hour, and the warmth, combined with Binns’ constant monotonous slur is making consciousness fade fast. It’s quite remarkable, really, his ability to never inject even the smallest measure of emotion into his voice. He never falters. Ever. All I really want is for him to let up and cough, or something. Yawn. Sneeze. Stutter. Pause for breath.
My eyes roam tiredly around the classroom, carefully observing the seventh years who chose this subject for NEWT level. James is on my right - typical. He’s been popping up in corridors and in the back of classrooms and in the seat next to me for the past couple of days, but I’ve hardly spoken two words to him. The escape plan I’ve been employing this week includes muttering something about an extra credit essay, then running in the opposite direction. Does that make me a bad person? Or just social inept? I don’t know. Probably both. Anyway, he’s leaving over his arms, his face turned away from me, sound asleep.
On James’ other side is Dom, who almost certainly chose History just so she could squeeze a few hours of sleep into her timetable. I wish I could be so cavalier. Her platinum blonde hair is splayed across the desk, her shoulders hunched over and her face buried in her arms. There’s no way known she could be comfortable - the hard lines of the desk and chair pretty much rule that out, but apparently she’s not concerned because she’s out like a light. Next to Dom is April, who’s snoring quietly, her right cheek squashed into the wood of the desk. Sometimes, when I used to dorm with her and her snoring became too much to bear, I would cast a silencing charm on her four-poster so that I wasn’t kept awake. I don’t think she realised. Her snoring isn’t even that loud, but an annoying thing about being Harmony Kyle is that I can only ever sleep in near silence. Or when Binns’ dulcet tones are practically killing me.
In front of me is Hamish Finnigan, his chin on his chest and his hair sticking up at the back. Flynn Adam is on his right, and he appears to actually be listening to what Binns is saying. His hand is flying furiously over the parchment before him, scribbling down notes a mile a minute. I briefly wonder how he can do it before my eyes land on Johnny Williams who is shooting dull red sparks out of the end of his wand, his eyes drooping dangerously. I dearly hope he doesn’t set his desk on fire. Half of the people in the room wouldn’t even notice. But maybe that would be better. A freak accident, leading to the deaths of the entire seventh year History class at Hogwarts. Evidence points to some of the students being unconscious when the fire started.
Desperate and out of ideas to stay awake, I suck in a sharp breath and tap James’ shoulder. He lets out a quiet moan in protest and, relentless witch that I am, I tap him again. Yes, I know. I’m going straight to hell. He raises his head and squints at me for a few seconds as though trying to figure out who I am, then he rubs his eyes and sits up straight.
“What’s up?” he murmurs, just loud enough for me to hear. Apparently he’s willing to look past the fact that I’ve disturbed his slumber if it means having a real, actual conversation with me.
“We have patrol tonight,” I reply, keeping my voice down.
“Really?” he asks and I nod. “I haven’t read the timetable yet,” he confesses and I roll my eyes, trying hard not to smile.
“Nine till eleven,” I remind him and he grins at me. For a minute or two we’re silent and I find myself trying to think of something funny and witty and impressive to say. Nothing comes to mind.
“So, I’m sorry about Friday night,” I finally let out.
“Why are you apologising?” he asks, already clearly amused. Why can’t he just sit there and take this, instead of mocking me and forcing me to relive my embarrassment?
“You know,” I say exasperatedly. “The whole, getting drunk and making a fool of myself, thing.” He laughs and I try to play down my humiliation.
“Well, there’s no need,” he says easily. Now, I could just let it go at that but I can’t seem to stop myself from continuing.
“It’s just… I’ve been told that I’m a really aggressive, crazy person when I’m drunk,” I admit. He raises his eyebrows and all I want to do is bang my head on the desk because I really didn’t have to say that and it’s probably about to mess things up even more.
“Who told you that?” he asks. I narrow my eyes slightly.
“That’s not important.”
“No, seriously. Who told you that?” I sigh and look away, trying and failing to think of a way around this. Fuck.
“Well, first I heard it from my mother and then my neighbour sort of reinforced it,” I say, attempting to sound indifferent but actually dying a little on the inside. I just know he’s going to laugh at me now, turn me into a joke, mock me. God, I’m an idiot. James is an idiot. Everyone’s an idiot.
“You were fine,” he says and the assurance in his voice, along with the absence of sarcasm, surprises me. I hum noncommittally and turn back to the front, wishing it would just be lunch already. Suddenly April lets out an almighty snore and we both jump. Hamish raises his head, looks around, decides nothing remotely interesting is happening, drops his head and goes right back off to dreamland.
“Does she always snore?” James asks.
“Every night,” I reply. He reaches past Dom and shoves April’s shoulder. She sits bolt upright, blinking rapidly.
“What did I mi- mi- miss?” she asks around a yawn. She runs her fingers through her mass of wild hair and slaps her cheeks a few times to wake herself up.
“Absolutely nothing,” James tells her. “You were snoring, is all.”
“I don’t snore,” she dismisses easily, checking her watch for the time. “It’s nearly lunch,” she tells us and simultaneously James and I shove our unopened books into our bags.
James turns to Dom, his hand on her shoulder.
“Dom,” he says quietly, shaking her. “Dommy, class is over.”
“Five more minutes,” she moans and James stifles and laugh.
“Come on, Dommy. Get up.”
“Alright, alright. I’m up,” she mutters, slowly sitting up and rubbing her eyes. James turns back to me, grinning. I look expectantly at him.
“Have lunch with us,” he says simply.
“Okay,” I respond without too much thought and he smiles even wider. I let out a long breath and close my bag, ready to go.
The bell rings for lunch and everybody stands, filing quickly from the room. I don’t think Binns notices.
“Will they ever get rid of Binns?” Dom asks as we eat lunch in the Great Hall. I’m on the end of the group, feeling more than a little bit out of place and considerably uncomfortable. I’ve never, not once, sat with these people at a meal, and now suddenly I’ve done it twice in as many weeks. It’s crazy. I sort of don’t know what to do with myself. Unsurprisingly, my discomfort is making me even more sarcastic and cynical than usual. Yeah. I’m loving this.
“Probably not, I mean, what would he do for the rest of his, er, death?” April replies, confusing herself with her own answer.
“But he’s so boring,” Dom says slowly, drawing out her vowels.
“And he’s been here for at least a century. When does his contract end, do you think?” James asks around a mouthful of food. I bite back a complaint about table manners and after a moment of silent contemplation Fred speaks up.
“Hogsmeade this weekend.” He grins, as do the others.
“Yeah, the three of us-” Dom motions to April and me, “are going dress shopping.” Fred looks at her blankly.
“You know that means nothing to me,” he says. Dom just shrugs. Fred turns to James and Dart on James’ other side.
“I’ve got a date,” he says proudly.
“Lisa McCormack. Sixth year Ravenclaw,” he says. The other two nod.
“Yeah, I know the one.”
Wow. I’ve never really considered myself to be a feminist but did these three males just mildly objectify a girl called Lisa McCormack? She’s a person, not a name and a number. Honestly. Do they really talk about people like that? Surely her personality is more important than anything else?
“What about you, Jimmy, got a date?” Fred asks teasingly.
“Okay, listen, Fred. My name is James. Do not call me Jimmy,” he orders seriously. Fred holds up a hand in apology. “And no, I don’t have a date,” he says evenly. I can feel both Dart’s and Fred’s eyes darting toward me awkwardly.
“First time for everything, I guess,” Dom jokes and James acts insulted, going into some rambling speech in defence of his questionable dating habits. Dom cuts him off.
“Anyway,” she says loudly. “Lunch in the Three Broomsticks?” she asks the group at large. Everyone nods except Fred, who shrugs as if to say, ‘what can you do?’ I find his expression highly amusing but then I realise that I’m part of the group and lunch in the Three Broomsticks includes me.
Oh, lovely. Another lunch date with this group of severely intimidating Gryffindors, with whom I really have nothing in common. Either I was Hitler is a past life or whoever is dictating the course of this one finds immense enjoyment in screwing me over.
The conversation picks up again and I remain largely silent, trying to ignore the feeling that Dart is watching me, trying to figure me out.
Good luck with that, mate.
So reposting all these chapters has really paid off, because we're already at more than 7,000. Incredible. Leave me a review, tell me what you think. X
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