Chapter 3 : Potions, Cupboards, and Plans. Oh, My!
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I stood up suddenly, nearly knocking over my cup of pumpkin juice, “Well, Cal and I really should get going. Potions with the Ravenclaws and all that!”
Rebecca cocked her head, “But you hardly ate.”
“Yeah, um, I’m full. Come on Cal.” I pulled up my friend and steered him away from the great hall before anyone else could question my full plate. Out of the corner of my eye I could see James take an eager spot next to a barely interested Rebecca.
“Eyes forward, keep walking, don’t turn around,” Cal mumbled into my ear. It was something he and Al had taken to saying whenever I ran into James and one of his many girlfriends. But I shouldn’t be worried, Rebecca wasn’t apart of that list yet. What am I saying? She’ll never be apart of that list, not after all the terrible things she’s heard me say about James.
So why am I so anxious? Many strong willed girls had fallen under the charm of James Sirius Potter, why wouldn’t she? Because Rebecca is different, I told myself firmly. Even though I complain, and rant, and cry to her about James, she knows how I feel about him… right? I mean she had to have guessed. My brothers, Al, and Cal did.
I dragged my feet all the way to potions, tripping every once and a while, only to catch myself at the last moment. I shoved open the door with my shoulder and ignored the glares from the Ravenclaws. Cal and I are the only two Hufflepuffs in our year that made it into NEWT’S. You would think due to this that the Ravenclaw’s would respect us more. Actually, it’s the opposite that’s true. They think we cheated on our OWL’s and aren’t sure how we made it in to the high level class. That’s why Cal and I love to show them up every chance we get.
We sat down at our regular table and I pulled out a cauldron. Cal and I are allowed to work together on account of his injured arm. This earns us twice the amount of dirty looks from the Ravenclaws… jealous wankers.
The whole class waited for Slughorn, who I personally think wants to make a dramatic entrance whenever possible. So, basically everyday. He finally burst in, his big belly entering the room before him, and took a place near the front of the class. “Today, we begin the journey into what might possibly be your most difficult potion yet. It will require extreme patience, a careful eye, and constant vigilance. Yes, today we start the Polyjuice potion.” He finished dramatically.
A few of the Ravenclaw’s oohed and ahhed, no doubt trying to get on Slughorn’s good side. I, on the other hand, suppressed a groan. A Polyjuice potion? Really? That would take roughly three months! Way too much effort. It’s amazing I got into any NEWT classes; I’m too lazy to actually do the work. But with friends like Rose and Cal, all of your homework is completed whether you want it to be or not.
“But”, Slughorn continued, “seeing as this is a lengthy potion, we will be doing double the work to finish our curriculum for this year.”
Double the curriculum? Oh, Merlin, take me now. There were only four months of school left. Does he actually expect us to pay attention in that short amount of time? I glanced at the Ravenclaw’s who appeared to be excited by this new challenge. Looney’s, every last one of them.
When I looked back up at Slughorn, the ingredients for the potion were written on the board. Everyone careened forward to read the small text; it looked like he had written the entire contents of Hogwarts, A History on that small board.
I got up and grabbed the needed ingredients from the supplies cupboard and went back to find an anxious Cal. “This is a very complicated potion. We’re going to have to be extremely careful with each step,” he moaned.
I shrugged. “Hey, if Hermione Granger can whip up a Polyjuice Potion in her second year, then why can’t we do it in our sixth year?”
Cal looked at me as if I had gone completely mental. “Well for one thing, Hermione Granger is a genius and helped save the wizarding world.”
“And I hang out with her daughter. Some of that genius has got to have rubbed off on me.”
Obviously, some of that genius did not rub off on me. Cal and I left the potion’s room an hour later exhausted and defeated. The potion proved to be way beyond our level. The only bright side was that it was above the Ravenclaws’ level as well. They left the dungeon just as frazzled and tired as us.
Charm’s class passed in a blur and before I knew it, we were being dismissed for lunch. Cal and I dazedly made our way to the great hall where we found Al sitting at the Gryffindor table with his girlfriend Amy, a cute sixth year also from Gryffindor. Her red hair was toppling out of the bun on her head, and her brown eyes sparked with excitement when she saw us. She began to wave Cal and I over excitedly.
“What happened to you? Did you two get hit by the night bus?” Al grinned.
“Potions, Polyjuice, double the curriculum, death of me.” I said incoherently. Apparently they could still understand me because they nodded their heads in agreement.
“We only just came from that class. Have some food. It will wake you up.” Amy pushed a plate of chicken towards me and I didn’t object.
“What are we all talking about?” Rose plopped down next to me, making a note in one of her textbooks.
“Potions, Polyjuice, double the curriculum-“
“Yeah, we get it.” Al cut across before I could finish my incoherent sentence.
I glared at him before taking a large bite of chicken.
“Oh, that? I think its kind of fun. Personally, I don’t think the potion lives up to its hype. It’s barely even a challenge.” Rose said in a matter of fact way before taking a sip of pumpkin juice.
I stabbed my fork into my food. “Go die,” I growled. Rose merely shrugged in response. Apparently being my friend for eight or nine years has caused her to become immune to my death threats. Shame.
“Don’t look now, but my prat of a cousin is trying to get your attention,” Rose said calmly.
I turned and saw James waving his arms wildly. Oh Merlin, he is the last person I wanted to see right now. I pretended not to notice him, but he only began to scream my name loudly. Now I couldn’t act as if I was oblivious because the whole hall was looking. I moaned, pushed myself up, and walked over to him.
“What do you want, James?” I asked, tiredly rubbing my eyes.
He grabbed my arms and pulled me out of the great hall, past the grand staircase, and into a broom cupboard. Whoa, hold the owl. I’m in a broom cupboard with James Sirius Potter. This could only mean one thing.
“I need to ask you a favor,” he started bluntly.
Oh, well. That was a let down. Calm down my speeding heart. We aren’t here for the reason you think we are. “Shoot.”
“I need you to be my girlfriend for a while.”
Whoa! Hold the owl again! Maybe I am here for the reason I thought. I’m torn between squealing, fainting, and just straight up attacking the kid. James’ face quickly reddened.
“Pretend to be my girlfriend,” he clarified.
Oh… well, this is awkward. “Why do you need me to pretend to be your girlfriend?”
James ran a hand through his hair, making it messier than it already was. “I asked out Rebecca today, and she turned me down flat.”
I snorted. “Well that’s no surprise. You’ve dated almost every girl in this school and each relationship barely lasted two weeks.”
“So you think I’m a man slut too?”
I grinned. “Is that what she called you?”
He shrugged. “In so many words. Anyway, back to the point. She told me I wasn’t committed enough to one person, and that maybe when I got serious we could talk. But the thing is, I am serious about her.”
I cocked an eyebrow. “How many girls have you said that to?”
James frowned slightly, “A lot, actually… but I mean it about her!”
I gave him a look that clearly said ‘yeah, right’. “And how many girls have you said that too-“
“I mean it, Beth! She’s different. She’s pretty, smart, mature, and kind. She’s a great catch!”
My heart fell down to somewhere below my feet. James had never said anything like this about a girl before. His criteria for dating usually consisted of their facial features, the contours of their body, and how daft they were. I staggered back into the stonewall behind me. It was all I could do to keep from falling down.
“S-so you’re serious then?”
James nodded. I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths. I was glad it was dark and he couldn’t see me clearly. If he could, he would surely be confused.
Couldn’t he see what he did to me? How his every action affected me, too? How every time he dated a girl, I crumbled a little in my resolve?
“How do I fit into this equation?” I asked softly.
James couldn’t hear the hurt in my voice, or if he did he pretended not to notice. “Well, I was thinking that no one in school is more serious than you when it comes to relationships. I mean, you haven’t dated anyone since third year!”
That’s because I’ve been holding out for you. Although I don’t voice my thoughts aloud, I want so badly to whisper them into the dark of the cupboard, letting them hang in the sterile air. “So, how does pretending to date me show that you’re committed?”
“It’s simple. We date for like, a month during which time I’ll show off my serious side. We’ll make Rebecca insanely jealous, and then you’ll dump me out of nowhere. I’ll pretend to be broken, she’ll want to console me, and before you know it we’re dating.” James looked extremely proud of his plan. “I mean, we’ve been friends since we were kids. It would be believable if we fell in love.”
More believable than you realize, James. I rested my head on the cold stone behind me, letting it sooth the throbbing headache I recently acquired. This kid was trying to kill me. My initial response was to decline his mental offer, but something stopped me.
James needed Rebecca to fall in love with him, and I needed to fall out of love with James. Maybe by pretending to date James, I could convince myself that he was a total prat and that I didn’t need him anymore. Then I could be free of this continuous cruciatus curse. It was mental, and would probably end badly, but it was the only chance I had of getting rid of my feelings.
I pushed myself off the wall and stood up to my full height. “Yes, I will be your pretend girlfriend.”
James jumped in the air and clapped his hands together in excitement. “Yes! Thank you, Beth!” And then, oh Merlin, he ran up and hugged me. It was the second time in two days. Merlin must pity little ol’ me.
I know I said I was going to give up my secret obsession for James, but my arms acted against my will and I wrapped them around James’ hard core. I sucked in a breath, strawberries. Well, strawberries and dusty, moldy cupboard air. Delicious. I tried not to gag.
“What? Too much cologne?” James chuckled.
“No, it’s the bloody closet. I think this stuffy air is going to suffocate me. You wear cologne?” I asked, pulling away to see the outline of James’ face.
I could feel his shoulders raise in a shrug, “Yeah, apparently I smell like strawberries. Word of advice, that won’t make you friends in first year.” James’ chuckle sounded less confident.
“But, I thought you were popular.” I asked, suddenly confused. The way he talked when he came home on holidays you would have thought Hogwarts greeted him with his own parade complete with dancing bears.
Another shrug. “I guess, but I was still a first year. I was still picked on by the seventh years. Apparently being the son of Harry Potter doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card.”
I giggled, “Oh, well that’s a relief. For a second, I actually thought you were cooler than me.”
James snorted and ruffled my hair in a platonic sort of way. “No one could ever be cooler than you, Miss Bethany Heart.”
He opened the door to the cupboard and bowed me out. We walked back to the hall, and arrived just as Al and Amy were leaving. They stopped upon seeing James and I.
“Why were you just coming out of that cupboard? And why is your hair messed up, Beth?” Al sounded worried. What’s the matter, Al? Haven’t you ever seen two people make a deal in a broom cupboard and come out with slightly ruffled hair? Oh, wait. This probably looks a little worse than it actually is.
“Oh, no. Al, you don’t-“
“Guess what!” James cut across me excitedly. Adam and Eric came walking up, laughing over some secret twin joke. “Beth and I are dating!” James called out jubilantly. Al’s jaw dropped and the twin’s froze-Adam looking fit for murder. Awkward.
Yay! Plot! I hope you guys liked this chapter. I tried to make it a little bit longer.
Thank you to all of those who commented on the last chapter. I read all of the comments I get and take everything into consideration.
What did you guys think of James' plan? Completely mental? Do you think Beth is even crazier for going along with it? Let me know in the comments! :)
Until next time, lovelies!
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