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Chapter 19 : Refreshing
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Calm, I was calm. Good.
I opened my eyes and stared straight ahead, intent on my feeble effort to control the emotions that erupted within me. All I could see was them. The two people in front of me. The unfairly attractive male who ran his hands through his hair anxiously and the girl. The girl who caught my eye and smiled at me awkwardly, a light and pretty blush gently heating up her pale, heart-shaped face. I clutched at the banister beside me, the knuckles of my hand slowly going white, my other hand caught somewhere between fidgeting with the hem of my skirt and the ends of my hair. Unable to decide on its path it had settled awkwardly in midair. The silence was thin and gradually increased in its unease as time slowly ticked by. I could feel my own face heating up and all I could think of was how ridiculous I had been.
How could I honestly have thought that my birthday would turn out well?
After the start I had, had it was highly unlikely.
“Wow,” I finally breathed, holding the sound for a time period that was longer than necessary and then again, “Wow.”
The ridiculously pretty girl in front of me bit down on her lip and glanced edgily up at James, clearly wanting him to get rid of me so that they could get back to kissing. I swallowed, keeping my unyielding grip on the pole. I would not lunge at her; I was determined to prove that I had matured throughout the events of the year. I had to have matured, otherwise what was the point of all the crazy happenings that I had been prevailed by fate to take part in. What was the point of me making friends with and falling for an idiot who would never like me back? Perhaps it wasn’t in that order but the order of things was beside the point, all of this had to have a point. It had to mean that I was maturing enough to at least be able to admit when I was wrong about a person. The girl seemed friendly enough, shy and possibly too timid not to at some points get on my nerves but lovely enough. Perfectly amiable, intelligent, courteous. She at least seemed it at this moment. At least attempting to introduce herself, stuttering in the silence and then proceeding to blink rapidly and blush profusely upon realising her words were unintelligible.
I suffered through a quick glance at James who hadn’t moved unless to pass a hand though his hair through the entire altercation. If that was what you could call it. We may have broken a record, the altercation involving the least amount of words ever spoken. I could feel the beginnings of a smile pressing at the corner of my mouth. Just a slight uplift but I went with it. I put on a cheerful persona, determined to appear completely unaffected by the discovery of Potter’s new girlfriend.
“Ivy,” I finally greeted the girl, removing my hand from the banister and holding it out to her, “I’m James’ friend. It’s lovely to meet you.”
The girls face crumpled with relief and her body visibly relaxed upon finally being spoken to.
“Hi, I’m Jacqueline. It’s good to meet you to,” she giggled slightly, swaying a little bit on the spot and seeming so girlishly innocent and sweet that I almost threw up, “Gosh, that silence was unbearable wasn’t it!”
My hand went back to gripping the banister. I hadn’t matured enough to deal with the word gosh being spoken as if completely natural. My eyes flitted again to Potter and I finally caught his own shifting ones. There seemed for an insane moment to be a synchronicity in our thoughts that I often felt I had with Michelle. One of those moments where you catch someone’s eye and you know what the other is thinking. Where you just know that they are thinking so similar to yourself that this eye contact is immediately followed by an uncontrollable burst of laughter. But no burst of laughter preceded the eye contact, Potter’s gaze immediately jumping away from my own put an end to all ridiculous notions, although I couldn’t help fooling myself into thinking that I had detected the smallest hint of a barely controlled smile. I sighed in defeat, realising that this conversation would be entirely mine and the girl’s, Amelia or something, wasn’t it? Potter would not even try to diffuse the tension, which I thought to be really quite unchivalrous and rude. Considering after all that he was the mutual, um… friend.
“Yeah, I’ve never much liked silence but I don’t think it could really be helped in this case. It’s not every day you interrupt one of your best friends in the middle of a kiss.” I giggled, unable to help hearing the hysteria that was slowly creeping into my voice. It was just the smallest change of pitch and I thought that perhaps only I would notice it. However, I was completely aware of Potter’s being able to read me so unbearably well that I didn’t want to take the risk of my true feelings at this occasion being discovered.
“Well sorry to interrupt. Continue with your…um. Fun? Pleasure? Stuff? Um… yeah. Never mind.”
I trailed off, rolling my eyes at my complete inability to word my escape eloquently. I finally made use of the hand that was still stuck in midair by waving airily as I flitted past them. I didn’t dare look back. Not even when I stumbled that one time.
“That was… odd,” the girl attempted to whisper as I left, obviously finding it seemingly impossible to describe the encounter with a more positive adjective, “Is she really one of your best friends?”
I scoffed at the ridiculous thought, I may not have many friends but I would never stoop so low as to call Potter one of my best ones. Even if I thought he was I would never actually say it out loud. There was no possible way I could live down that humiliation, especially after today.
“What makes you think that?” Potter asked, finally getting his voice back.
“Well she said so.”
I almost skidded to a halt. Almost.
The realisation hit me and I almost stopped and fell to pieces right then and there. How could I possibly ever live this down? And more to the point since when had I cared so much? I was half ashamed of myself.
“So are you?” the girl pressed.
“Yes,” James suddenly snapped shortly, “Why is that so shocking to you?”
“Well, it’s just she seems a bit… off. Is she all there, you know, mentally speaking?”
The question was spoken with a gentle curiosity that proved its perfect innocence. Even I couldn’t help feeling shocked that I was at that moment seriously being considered insane and I turned on the spot to look at them. Hoping that they wouldn’t notice my continued presence in the hallway. Potter looked thoroughly, let’s just say displeased with the girl who stood in front of him.
“She’s perfectly sane.”
I couldn’t help feeling a little bit happier at Potter’s defence of me.
“I mean perhaps a little violent and temperamental. And ridiculously stubborn and let’s face it a bit immature. She gets bored way too easily, and is kind of lazy, I mean let’s face it I can’t think of the last time she really tried hard at anything. Not even Quidditch. I don’t really think there is a filter between what she thinks and what she says considering, half the stuff she says is complete and utter ludicrous and the other half violent or rude. She doesn’t care too much about what other people think of her. She goes off on wildly long tangents and she is the only one who can really annoy me to no end but she’s not insane. She’s just, kind of refreshing.”
I just stared, mouth slightly agape, attempting to puzzle out whether I should be insulted or grateful. It felt like a compliment but it sounded very insulting and I was still trying to work out how exactly I was feeling about it all when upon turning his head slightly Potter saw me standing in the middle of the hall. He stared and I stared and the girl seemed to realise something that made her quietly slip away. Whatever this something was eluded me entirely but perhaps that was because I was concentrating too hard on not breaking eye contact with Potter. I was determined not to be the first to back down and it appeared that he was to. It felt like we had slipped back into old times and I was enjoying myself thoroughly.
“Tell me Potter,” I finally broke the silence, still refusing to break eye contact, “Was that a compliment or insult?” I said it sarcastically, playfully even but I was completely serious. I was genuinely curious about how I was supposed to take that little speech. How could something so entirely insulting make me feel so good about myself? There had to be an explanation.
“An insult obviously.” Potter countered, raising an arch eyebrow.
I smirked because at that moment I realised that no matter what he said I would take it as a compliment anyway. With another much more confident airy wave of my hand I skipped lightly away. Unable to contain my laughter even long enough to get out of hearing range.
But I could hear Potter laughing with me and I was far too busy paying attention to how sexy that laugh was to even waste a thought on how ridiculous I must have looked skipping.
Why should I care anyway? It was refreshing.
A/N: I am aware that there is no excuse for my complete lack of updates but I hope that you can forgive me and that you liked this chapter. :) Oh and I apologise for it being horrendously short and really rather badly written and with absolutely no plot whatsoever basically. God, I actually hate myself right now.
I also want to let you know that although it seems like the issue of Jacqueline has been fixed it pains me to say that she might be making a reappearance in future chapters. Just to ruin Ivy's life. :)
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