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Finding Faith by sour_grapes_snape
Chapter 12 : Friendly Acquaintances
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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          When I woke up the next day, I was momentarily confused when I felt hard stone against my side. And when I felt a warm body against my back and an arm draped over waist. I sat up, feeling my head pound as I did. I looked around, identifying the fourth floor corridor. Then I looked down next to me and blinked. James was on the floor next to me. Of course.


 

          I pulled James’ arm off me and leaned against the wall. Needless to say, yesterday had been an interesting day. I’d been sought out by James after finding out we’d be partners for Teddy and Victoire’s wedding, spent an insurmountable amount of time staring into his eyes, and then cried in his arms all night after having a breakdown from hearing mine and Joy’s song. I’d probably completely freaked out my dorm mates. And James. Merlin, I had no idea what to do about him.

 

          Just as I had come to the decision that I should avoid James completely, he began to stir. Of course, that’s just my luck. Clearly the world hates me. James groaned and sat up, rubbing his blearily. His usually messy hair stuck in in a thousand different directions. It was kind of cute.


 

          He blinked at me and smiled softly. “Hey,” he said, his voice quiet and tender. My stomach gave an odd flip at the sound.


 

          “Hi,” I murmured back, closing my eyes. I had no idea what I was going to do.
 

          “How’re you feeling?” he asked kindly.


 

          “Alright.”


 

          “Anything you want to talk about?”


 

          “No,” I said forcefully, coming to a decision. “And if I did, it wouldn’t be you I’d talk to.”


 

          He blinked, a look of shock and hurt crossing his face. I forced myself to look away from him. I didn’t need the guilt.


 

          “I thought…” James trailed off uncertainly.


 

          “Well, you thought wrong. Just because you took advantage of me when I was vulnerable doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to start telling you all my secrets. You know too many of them as it is.”


 

          I made my voice harsh. I didn’t know James’ motives, but I wasn’t about to fall for his trap. I don’t know if he was planning on fooling me somehow, using me, hurting me, or, the least likely, he actually did like me. Yeah, right. All I knew was that it wouldn’t work. James Potter wanted me to trust him? Please.


 

          “Val,” he pleaded.


 

          “I meant what I said.” My voice was cold. “Leave me alone, Potter.”


 

          With that, I walked away. Despite my assurances that I wouldn’t be fooled by him, I knew that I was incredibly close to doing something stupid. For a few moments, I’d thought that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to trust James Potter. But that was ridiculous. I knew better than anyone that trust was useless. After all, as soon as I would start to trust James, he’d end up leaving me. Someway, somehow, he’d be gone once I started to need him.


 

          Just like Joy.



 

***

 

          It was much earlier than I’d expected. When I went up to the sixth year girls’ dormitory, everyone was still sleeping. Apparently the slumber party had broken up sometime after I left, because the blankets and pillows were back where they belonged and the girls all slept in their own beds. I showered and got ready for the day quickly and quietly, slipping out of the room before any of them woke up.
 

          I ate breakfast down in the kitchens. I didn’t really fancy having to face the questioning stares and worried glances. I suppose I could have eaten with people from a different House, but frankly, I didn’t want to be around anyone right now.


 

          The day passed by in a blur. I kept apart from my friends, not speaking during lessons or free periods, eating meals in the kitchens, and just generally avoiding them. After our first class, they all caught on to what I was doing. Lessie continued to stubbornly sit next to me in class, making attempts at conversation that I brushed off. Rhiannon kept her distance and Jessamy smiled sadly at me. Mallory and Evie whispered when they saw me. Blake and Zeke were just confused. And James… he continued his constant staring.


 

          When I met Albus in the library for tutoring that night, I set him some work to do before pulling out some of my own. In the nearly two months of tutoring he’d had, Al had really improved. He barely needed my help anymore.


 

          I had my Ancient Runes book open and I’d spent the last ten minutes reading the same line over and over again before I realized that Al was staring at me. His gaze was unwavering and his lips were pursed thoughtfully. In that moment, he reminded me extraordinarily of James. It was the expression he always work of late when he stared at me.


 

          “I’m sorry, Al, did you have a question?” I asked, confused as to why he was staring.


 

          “Oh, I have a lot of questions,” he replied. “But none of them have anything to do with Defense.”


 

          I tilted my head in confusion. What was he talking about? “Like what?”


 

          Al shrugged. “For starters: what you’ve done to my brother; the big secret you’re hiding; why you’re ignoring your friends today; and why you’re so sad all the time. Although, I’m guessing that the answers to those questions are closely related. Maybe even the same.”


 

          “And what makes you think I’d tell you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes.
 

          “I never said you had to,” he replied, holding up his hands defensively. “You’re the one who wanted to know my questions.”


 

          “Where’d you come up with them, anyways?”


 

          Al raised an eyebrow. “I’ve been around you long enough. I notice things.”


 

          I sat for a moment, troubled. I was more than a little bothered by the fact that Albus had been able to figure me out so easily and quickly. Had I always been this transparent or was my act totally slipping this year? Finally, I asked the question that plagued me the most. “What do you mean, what am I doing to your brother?”


 

          “You know what I mean,” he scoffed. “Ever since the end of last year, James has been different. He’s been quieter, not that that’s a bad thing, and he’s… I don’t know. He’s changed. Suddenly, family is the most important thing in the world to him. I mean, he’s always liked us and stuff, looked forward to family get togethers, blah blah blah. But now, he’s made a Herculean effort to spend time with the whole family. He taught Lucy how to play Quidditch, he’s had “bro time” with Louis and Hugo, he and Fred are practically inseparable, and one day this summer, he willingly volunteered to help out at a sleepover Lily and Molly had for all of the current third years. And later he told me it was fun.


 

          I stared at Al wide-eyed as he shuddered in apparent horror. Something told me that James’ sudden interest in spending time with his family had to do with my story about Joy. I was almost… touched that he’d decided to truly appreciate his family because of me. I bit my lip, trying to wrap my mind around this new piece of information. James Potter was by far the most confusing person I’d ever met.


 

          “And it’s not just the cousins,” Al continued, “he also made more effort with everyone. He took Granddad Weasley to Muggle London and went to work with Dad, Uncle George, Aunt Fleur, and Aunt Hermione for several days over the summer. Worst of all, though,” Al’s voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, “he asked Uncle Percy about his job! And he was sincere! And interested!”


 

          Al was so outraged by this apparent blasphemy that I couldn’t help but laugh. And once I started laughing, I couldn’t stop. Tears of mirth streamed down my face as my laughter began bordering on hysterics. Al looked at me in affronted alarm and the ancient librarian, Madam Pince, gave me a frightening glare. Well. So she can apparently look past James or Roxy yelling at me in the library, but my laughter is heinous crime?


 

          “I’ve always wanted to meet your Uncle Percy,” I smiled. “I’ve heard so much about him from your various family members. Louis in particular gave me a colorful description.”


 

          Louis was currently a fourth year, Gryffindor like the rest of his family, and was quite the little charmer. Being well acquainted with Victoire and Dominique, I’d first met him on the train when he started Hogwarts. I spent my third year leaning how to speak French from him.


 

          “Colorful?” Al asked. “I don’t like the sound of that. Louis is far too young to be using colorful language.”


 

          This made me roll my eyes. It had always struck me as odd, being the youngest in my family, how in the eyes of a protective older family member, the youngest ones had to remain perfect and pure. The hypocrisy of it all amused me endlessly. It didn’t matter how much you yourself messed up, but if a younger sibling or cousin did something half as bad, you became irrationally angry.


 

          “Anyways,” Al went on, breaking into my thoughts, “I’m not going off on a tangent right now. I believe you asked about James?”


 

          “You already answered that,” I muttered, feeling heat starting to creep up my face.


 

          “Not completely, I haven’t. I’ve just started to scratch the surface,” Al protested.


 

          I grudgingly waved my hand, gesturing for him to continue.


 

          “Right, so James is oddly obsessed with family – check. He also found a church in Godric’s Hallow and started visiting it about two or three times a week during the summer. I mean, we’ve attended mass before, not regularly, but now James is more adamant about attending, but he won’t say why.”


 

          That one disturbed me. I tell James there is no God and now he’s constantly visiting a church? On the outside, however, I just shrugged it off, indicating for Al to go on.


 

          “James has also been acting very different here at Hogwarts. Everyone was expecting him to turn into a complete Quidditch Nazi when he got Captain, but he’s been completely laid back. Almost distracted, actually, as though his mind is on other things. It’s really strange, seeing as before this year, Quidditch was practically his entire life. He also has been studying a lot more.”


 

          “That’s nice, Al,” I said with a hint of frustration, “but what does all that have to do with me?” I was desperate to know how he’d made the connection.


 

          “Ah, but that’s what I want you to tell me. How are you connected to this? What significance do you play in James’ transformation?”


 

          “What makes you think I’m involved at all?”


 

          “Isn’t it obvious?” Al asked softly. “He stares at you constantly. He makes an excuse to leave the room when someone mention you, but he’s always watching you. In fact, he’s doing it right now.” Al nodded at something I couldn’t see, gazing over my shoulder.


 

          I turned around and saw James sitting at a table with Fred and their friend Frank Longbottom, a Seventh year and Professor Longbottom’s son. James was wearing a searching look. When our eyes met, he smiled, just like he had the last few times. At that, I could practically feel the smugness radiating from Albus. He’d seen the smile as well.


 

          I turned back around in my seat slowly, fixing Al with a flat stare. He smiled innocently at me, although there was a self-satisfied glint in his eyes. I just raised an eyebrow.


 

          “Aw, c’mon,” he whined. “As my tutor, shouldn’t you be happy when I get something right?” He looked at me with puppy dog eyes. He was just too bloody cute.


 

          I sighed, leaning across the table to ruffle his hair. “You’re just lucky you’re so adorable.”
 

          “Ugh,” he groaned, “way to make me feel like I’m eight years old, Val.”


 

          “Maybe if you didn’t act that way, I wouldn’t treat you that way,” I replied in a superior tone, rolling my eyes but smiling nonetheless. “Now finish your Defense essay.”


 

          “I already did,” he said, surprising me.
 

          “What? When?”


 

          He grinned impudently. “While you were zoned out, pretending to read your Ancient Runes book.”


 

          “Shut up,” I grumbled, reaching forward to grab his essay. I read through it quickly and I felt my smile grow bigger with each sentence.


 

          “Well?” Al asked nervously.
 

          “Excellent work,” I said, causing him to beam. “There are a few minor mistakes but are easily fixable, and overall, very well done. I think you might even get an O on this one.”


 

          Al that, Al let out a loud whoop and darted around the table to hug me, He started babbling excitedly, thanking me over and over again for how much I’ve helped him.


 

          “Okay, okay,” I laughed, “I’m stunningly fabulous and the greatest person in the world, I get it. But although you may be doing well this year, if you want to get an O.W.L. in Defense Against the Dark Arts, you’ll have to know everything from your past four years as well.”


 

          “You’re right, of course. You’re always right,” he sighed.


 

          I smirked. “Damn straight. Alright, let’s review, shall we? Tell me everything you know about werewolves.”


 

          As I sat there listening to Al state the five identifying characteristics of a werewolf, I tried to ignore the gaze I felt on the back of my head. I was sure that gaze belonged to a certain messy haired boy with hazel eyes…



 

***

 

          “Well, well, well,” a guy’s voice said from behind me, “if it isn’t my favorite Ravenclaw.”


 

          I turned around and grinned when I saw who it was. “Don’t let your sister hear you say that, Mike. Lessie may look delicate and fragile, but she’s a petite explosion waiting to happen.”


 

          “Don’t I know it,” Mike muttered.


 

          “Well, sir,” I said, throwing my arm around his shoulder, “what can I do for you this fine Halloween afternoon?”


 

          “Talk to my sister?” he asked quietly.


 

          I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I t had been over a week since the slumber party incident and I was still avoiding everyone. I wasn’t really sure why. It would only cause more questions when I finally started taking to the girls, Blake, and Zeke again. Quidditch practices with Rhiannon and Zeke had been a bit awkward, to say the least.


 

          “I don’t know, Mike,” I said, avoiding his eyes. Maybe things were better off this way. I couldn’t keep up my charade forever. Eventually, I’d make a big enough slip and soon after that, everyone would know my secret. They’d all either pity me or find me heartless, thinking that because I kept her hidden, then I didn’t love my sister, my Joy. And both of those were the last things I wanted.


 

          “Please, Val,” Mike pleaded. “No one is happy right now. Everyone missed you and you seem miserable. You don’t have to isolate yourself from the people that love you.”


 

          By this time, you’d really think I’d be used to the guilt. But nope, there it was, as sharp and bitter as ever. It seemed like no matter what I did, I was going to end up hurting someone. Maybe I should have thought about that when I first vowed to forever hide my pain back when I was ten.
 

          “I’ll see what I can do,” I sighed. Mike smiled at me, giving me a brief hug.


 

          I guess for now, I’d just do what would make everyone happy. As for what would come later… well, I guess I’ll just have to see.


 

 

***

 

 

          This year, Halloween fell on a Friday, so the feast that night was extra extravagant. Massive pumpkins, nearly the size of a classroom were suspended in the air. An eerie fog floated a couple of feet off the ground and green lights glowed from no visible source, casting an ominous glow around the Great Hall. Bats flew overhead and ghosts drifted by, appearing out the fog and surprising several students when the ghost passed through them. The food was decadent and there was a variety of spooky entertainment.

 

          I was hovering uncertainly in the doorway. I hadn’t been in the Great Hall since before the slumber party, opting to eat in the kitchens instead. I spotted my friends near the middle of the Ravenclaw table. They seemed to be joking and chatting as usual. Perhaps it was conceited and perhaps it was my imagination, but it seemed as though there was something off about their laughter.


 

          Taking a deep breath, I walked towards them with determined strides. Blake was currently flirting outrageously with Jessamy, much to everyone’s amusement. They were all laughing and Jess was blushing. Hmm. Normally Jess, Rhiannon, Lessie, and I would roll our eyes or flirt back, just because Blake was so ridiculous. Yet, here was Jess, a spectacular shade of vibrant pink. And now that I thought of it, Blake did seem to be paying special attention to her as of late, something he only did when he liked a girl. I smiled slightly to myself as I sat in the empty seat next to Lessie.


 

          “Hi, guys,” I said, suddenly feeling a little shy. “How’s it going?”


 

          They all turned to look at me. Lessie beamed so brightly I felt a slightly warm glow. Not everyone was quite so welcoming, however. Rhiannon gave me a small smile and Zeke, who sat across from me, reached over the table to pat my hand. Blake and Jessamy were a bit colder. Blake nodded and Jess just looked at me, though she did seem a bit relieved.


 

          “Hey, Val,” Zeke said easily. “When did you say our next practice was?”


 

          “Sunday at 3,” I replied. “None tomorrow, as it’s Hogsmeade weekend.”
 

          “Ooh, that’s right!” Lessie exclaimed. “I forgot it was Hogsmeade tomorrow. Excellent, I am in desperate need for a trip to Honeyduke’s.”


 

          I smiled widely. “Trust me, Less, the last thing you need is sugar.”


 

          Everyone started laughing and soon we were all acting as though I hadn’t been estranged from them for a week and a half. I still received a few subtle, questioning looks every now and then, but everyone had the good grace not to ask me about it. Even Blake was more tactful than usual. Of course, that may have been because he was so focused on complimenting Jessamy. Rhiannon and I exchanged knowing looks. They totally fancied each other.
 

          The Halloween feast passed without too much incident. The food was delicious and the entertainment was fantastic. By the end of the night, we had been joined by several people from other Houses. Throughout the night, various people invited us to Halloween parties they were throwing. At first, we all declined the offers, but eventually, and after much persuasion, we ended up accepting Fred and Roxy’s invite.


 

          After the feast, the girls dragged me up to our dormitory to get ready. I sat on my bed and watched in amusement as the girls scrambled around, trying on and rejecting outfits, and frantically doing their hair and makeup. Evie and Mallory soon joined them, although they were going to a different party.


 

          Once they all finished, Lessie, Rhiannon, and Jess gathered around me in a slightly menacing half-circle. Jess’ hands were on her hips, Rhiannon tapped her foot, and Lessie’s smirk was so sinister that I almost felt frightened.


 

          “Now, Val,” Jessamy began, using her infamous “voice of reason.” Now I knew I was in trouble. “We know you don’t like to dress up, or wear makeup, or do anything particularly girly, but this is a party.”


 

          “You’ve been so off lately, you need a fun night out. You need to let loose, go a little crazy, and just have fun,” Rhiannon continued.


 

          Lessie then glared at me with a stern, no nonsense expression. “We are picking your outfit. We are putting on your makeup. We are doing your hair. End of story.”


 

          I sighed and looked at them. I contemplated running, but I knew I couldn’t avoid all three of them. Resigning myself to my fate, I nodded.


 

          “Okay,” said Lessie, taking charge. “Jess, you do hair. Rhiannon, you do makeup. I’ll pick out an outfit. Go, go, go!”
 

          Jessamy and Rhiannon each seized one of my arms and dragged me in front of the mirror. Jess started twirling my hair around her wand and Rhiannon looked me dead in the eyes. “Do. Not. Move.”
 

          Twenty minutes later, my hair hung in artfully messy curls – thank Merlin for magic – and I was trying not to swipe at the eyeliner I had around my eyes. I’d never worn it before and I found it mildly irritating. As Rhiannon put on the final touches of my blush, Lessie threw some clothes at me.


 

          “What the hell is this?” I sputtered, looking through the clothes, none of which were mine. They consisted of a sheer pink V-necked blouse with a black, low-cut tank top and black, pink flowered skirt that wouldn’t even reach halfway down my thighs.


 

          “Your outfit,” Lessie said simply. “You don’t own anything hot enough, so you’re borrowing from us. And you’re wearing it all with these shoes. No complaints.” She held up a pair of four-inch peep toe heels.


 

          I examined them. “Where did you get these? I don’t own any like these. And although I might be able to wear some of the same clothes as the rest of you, there’s no way I could fit my feet into any of your guys’ shoes.”
 

          “I expanded a pair of mine. Now go change.”


 

          “You do realize I’m going to be 6’5” in these, right?” I called over my shoulder as I headed to the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror. I had to admit, I did look hot, albeit in a sluggish sort of way. My makeup popped against my pale skin, as did the hot pink shirt over the black. Because of my wild curls, my normally straight hair was shorter, brushing against my ribs instead of my hips. The combination of the skirt and the shoes made my legs look ridiculously long.
 

          The girls all squealed when I came back into the room. As they babbled about how gorgeous I looked, we linked arms and, for better or worse, headed to the Gryffindor common room.



 

***



 

          I was bored. I sat in an armchair in the corner, watching the party. Upon our arrival, the girls all accepted glasses of firewhiskey. I declined. Zeke and Blake had already arrived at the party and pulled us over to dance. After half an hour, they were all majorly buzzed. Now, two hours later, Lessie was snogging a random seventh year Gryffindor, Blake and Jess had joined a game of strip poker, and Rhiannon was dancing with Fred. I had no idea where Zeke was.


 

          Everyone around me was in various stages of drunkenness. Most people were stumbling around, laughing and dancing. A few others were puking and some more had even passed out. Their friends were drawing on their faces. How charming. It seemed that I was the only one completely sober.


 

          Frankly, I was regretting my decision to come here. Guys had been hitting on me all night. It sounds conceited, but it’s true. They had come in hoards, some trying to be suave and charming, while others were sloppy and drunk. It was taking all of my willpower not to just run back to Ravenclaw Tower to wash my face, pull my hair back, and change into my baggiest clothes. But I figured I should stay to watch my friends, make sure they didn’t do anything stupid. Well, nothing more stupid than what they’ve already done.


 

          The party continued to surge. I stepped in when the guy Lessie had been snogging tried getting a little too friendly. Let’s just say he might have some trouble having kids in the future. I recused Blake when a group of fifth years tried to convince him to jump out the window with a broom so he could fly back up before he hit the ground. Blake can’t even fly, but he was going to do it anyways. And I started cheering when Fred asked Rhiannon out and she agreed. Hopefully they would be able to remember it in the morning.


 

          The party started dying down around three in the morning. People started leaving, falling asleep, and passing out. Zeke had turned up around two, mostly sober, but wearing a plastic bag instead of his shirt. He didn’t say where he had been and I was too afraid to ask. He ended up taking Lessie, Jessamy, and Blake back to Ravenclaw Tower shortly after he reappeared. Rhiannon was still with Freddy, so I was staying to make sure she’d make it back okay.


 

          I watched Albus carry his sister Lily, who’d drank for the first time tonight, much to his displeasure, up to his dormitory. She’d passed out and as Al couldn’t go to the girl’s dorm, he was sacrificing his bed for her. The tender look on his face as he stumbled up the stairs was heartbreakingly adorable. He may have been yelling at her for being drunk earlier, but now he was taking care of her when she needed it. I smiled gently, thinking of David.


 

          “So, are you the sober cab?” someone asked, breaking me out of my reverie. I looked up, seeing James, of course, smiling at me, holding out an unopened bottle of pumpkin juice. I took it but didn’t drink.


 

          “Am I the what?” I asked, perplexed.
 

          “Er, sober cab?” he asked half-heartedly. “Designated driver? They’re Muggle terms for the person who decides not to drink to keep their drunken friends safe.”
 

          “Yeah, I know, I just never really thought of it that way. I sat there uncomfortably as he nodded awkwardly.
 

          After a moment of silence, I added, “And I wouldn’t was designated not to drink. I just don’t.”


 

          “Yeah, me neither,” James said, sitting in the chair next to me. “I’ve seen too many stupid, drunk people to want to partake.”
 

          I shrugged. “I just don’t know how I’ll react to the alcohol. I guess I’m afraid I’ll start talking about things that are better left unsaid.” Why the hell am I telling him this?
 

          “Joy?” James asked, an oddly wry smile twisting his face. I looked away.


 

          We sat there for a few minutes. By now, the party was nearly over, less than a dozen people were still here. Fred and Rhiannon were on a couch, talking and holding hands.


 

          I looked over at James, who was staring at the floor and sipping his pumpkin juice. I was utterly confused. His words from last Monday ran through my head. I’m doing this for me. What did that mean? And why did I suddenly feel so comfortable talking to him?
 

          James looked over at me and smiled. He’s always doing that now, smiling at me in that gentle, caring way. My stomach lurches every time I see it. My breath catches in my throat and I bite my lip. For the last week, I’d been pondering what to do about the James situation. And I still had no bloody clue.


 

          “Look, Val,” James began nervously, “I know I haven’t been exactly kind to you in the past, and I’m really sorry for that. I was a right bastard and I was wrong to treat you that way. I realize how hard your life must be. I mean, I can’t even begin to understand what you’ve been through. Hell, I don’t think there’s anyone who can. But I’m sure there are sometimes that you might want to talk to someone. And, well, as I’m the only one who knows… I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you ever need to talk, I’ll always be here to listen.”


 

          I don’t think there’s anyone who can. Those words stuck in my mind, bouncing around in my thought. He understands. He gets that he can’t get my pain. And he accepts it. I stare at James in disbelief, a warm tingling feeling spreading through my veins. Finally.
 

          “You… you really mean that?” My voice was small, quavering. I needed to hear him say it again. I needed to know that there was someone who knew how isolated I felt.
 

          “Mean what?”


 

          “That you don’t think there’s anyone who understands how I feel.”


 

          “I, er, yeah.” James looked slightly uncomfortable, ruffling his hair nervously. “I mean, I never knew Joy, but it’s obvious she was special to you. Every relationship is different so no one can truly understand it unless they’re a part of it.”


 

          I stared at James. Then my face broke into a wide, genuine smile and I flung my arms around him. He seemed taken aback, slowly bringing his arms up to hug me back. “Thank you,” I whispered in his ear.


 

          He tilted his head in confusion. “For understanding,” I clarified. “One of my biggest fears about telling someone is that they’d tell me they understand my pair or that they’re sorry. Because they can’t understand and they never will, and believe me, I don’t want their sympathy.”


 

          James took my hand and we sat there for a few minutes, smiling at each other. But as my moment of happiness faded and Joy’s loss came back into clarity, I pulled my hand away. I still wasn’t sure what I was doing about James. This sudden closeness was frightening. I could feel a part of me yearning to trust James, to have faith again, but I shied away from it, not wanting the pain it would bring.


 

          But then James, smile still on his face, came up with the solution I had long been looking for. He stuck his hand out and in a hopeful voice, he asked, “Friends?”


 

          I bit my lip, contemplating the proffered hand. I shook my head slowly. “I don’t have friends. I can’t.” His face fell, but I smiled. “Can you settle for friendly acquaintances?”
 

          James grinned brightly as I shook his hand. “Sure. For now.”


 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 

AN


 

I apologize profusely for the wait! My life is SO incredibly busy, I can’t even tell you. I know last time I said I was in intense writing mode and many of you assumed that would mean quick updates. Well, let me explain. I have chapters 13 through 17 written and 18 through 20 planned. But the finished chapters are written. They still need to be typed. With the business of my life lately, I haven’t been home and I don’t have a laptop, so I’ve been using regular, old-fashioned pencil and paper to write this story. Let me give you a quick run-down of my life as of late: Dance competitions, prom, piano recitals, senior class trip, preparation for graduation, preparation for a three hour AP Calculus test, three English papers, a physics final, and working part time. I’m about to lose my mind.


 

But you know, I’m usually very good about updates! So having to wait this once shouldn’t be bad! And the chapter? Doesn’t it make it all worth it? James and Val are friends! This is a good step, be excited! And forgive me? Please?
 

Moving on then, here’s a teaser for chapter 13! It’s personally one of my favorites!


 

          “She’s beautiful,” he said. Then he looked at me. “She looks like you.”


 

          For reason, I felt myself blush. Did James just call me beautiful? Sure, he wouldn’t be the first bloke to do so, but hearing him say it made me feel almost shy. I shook my head slowly. “No, she was much more beautiful. She was the most beautiful girl in the world.”


 

Disclaimer: Everything you don’t recognize belongs to me. Everything you do, unfortunately, belongs to Jo.


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