Chapter 7 : sipping tea in the bar by the roadside
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As I walked down the familiar path with my mates, I silently prayed that the rest of the day would not go as bad as the morning had, what with my boyfriend almost finding out that I was going on a date with my sworn enemy all because of a stupid bet. No, I was determined to make this date, bearable, but nothing more.
Dom, Avril, Minnie, and Ari, whom had met up with us near the entrance hall after the whole affair with Briscoe, were having some deep conversation, probably about my date with James. I wasn’t really paying attention, though. I had a lot on my mind.
I still doubted myself about this whole idea about this … get together. I had decided while on the walk to Hogsmede that it wasn’t a date at all, but simply a get together between two … well, whatever it was that James and I were. A get together wasn’t as nearly as bad as a date. But still, slowly, my confidence was building. James was going to be bewildered, and then he would leave me alone for the rest of our days at Hogwarts. I would never have to worry about being picked on again. It was going to be great.
I hadn’t been paying attention to where I was going, until I rammed right into Dom’s back when we reached Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
“Well, here we are,” Dom said as she pushed the door opened, and the five of us walked in. Instantly, we were greeted by the whizzing sounds of pranks, and the smell of all sorts of plastics filled our nostrils. I didn’t really care for the joke shop, even if it did belong to the Weasley family. It just always brought back painful memories of years past, and frankly, most of the pranks (even the childish ones) scared me. But still, there was a small part of me that loved to look at all the tricks and pranks, like any child would.
The five of us walked around a bit, looking at all the products that the store had been selling; fake wands that turned into flowers when you held it the right way, Extendable Ears in various shades, and even a small, plastic toy that looked like a dragon. I reached down and touched the dragon, and instantly, in started to move, breathing out a small line of fire.
“Hey, Dom,” I said with a smile, “look at – Uff!”
I turned around, and instant, I collided into something. As I fell, I saw James staring down at me. However clumsy I was though, James seemed to be just as graceful, and before I could fall flat on my arse, he grabbed my shoulders.
“O’Connor,” James said with a smirk, “you really must be falling for me hard. It seems like every time I'm around, you get all weak-kneed.”
I glared at James as I pulled away. He was a down right git, sometimes. And I hated the fact that I now had to go on a ‘get together’ with him. Why had the world decided to be so cruel to me?
“Come on,” I surly spat out, “let’s get the over with.”
I stormed out of the shop, ready to head to the teashop. I realized, though, that I had no idea where the teashop was. So, impatiently, I waited for James to come out of the shop.
He sure took his sweet time, though eventually he came out, a plastic bag in his hands. I eyed the bag wearily, but James just laughed.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head, O’Connor,” James said with a smile, “it’s just some stuff for Fred; it’s from his mum, and she wanted me to give it to him.”
James opened the bag, and showed that it was only filled with some extra parchment, a red and golden yellow, knitted sweater with a big golden ‘F’ on it, and a sealed envelope with Fred’s name. Still, I wasn’t completely convinced.
“You know, Fred’s dad owns the shop,” James continued, “his mum comes and helps from time to time, when she’s not off playing Quidditch.”
Of course I knew that. One of his cousinswas my best friend, after all. I knew more about their lives then they thought. Of course, I couldn’t let James know that; that would just be weird.
“Oh,” I muttered. Without another word, James headed off, his long legs taking big strides. I had to run to catch up to him. The actually walk to the teashop was relatively quiet. James would feel the need to remark on someone or something he’d seen, and I’d try my best to ignore it.
Finally, we got to the teashop, and I couldn’t help but be surprised and what I saw. The shop was quaint and … cute. It didn’t seem like the normal place that James would take a girl on a date… actually; James didn’t seem like the kind of person who really took girls out on dates. But, I wouldn’t know, considering the most certainly wasn't a date. It was a get-together for the two of us.
“I knew you’d like it,” James said as I awed the restaurant. I should’ve made some quick, witty remark, saying how girlie the placed seem, or something, but, like usually, nothing seemed to come to mind.
He walked towards the entrance, and I quickly followed him. He held the door open for me, and as I walked in, I marveled at the inside; it was just a beautiful as the outside. There were cute little decorations that hung from the ceiling, and it smelled like nutmeg, and lemons and other citrus fruits.
“Hi James,” a small brunette said as the two of us made it into the shop. I looked over at the girl, and couldn’t help but frown. She was wearing a simple outfit – a pale yellow dress with a small apron tied around her waist.
“How was your summer?” the brunette asked, “I hope your family’s doing well?”
“Hi, Maddie,” James replied, “I had a great summer – my family’s great, as always. How was your summer?”
“Oh, my summer was fine,” Maddie replied, “same old boring stuff here at the teashop.”
“You brought a friend?” she added, looking over at me, a smile big enough to compete with the Cheshire Cat on her face.
“Yeah, this is Sarah,” James said, gesturing over to me, “Sarah, this is Maddie; she’s a waitress here at shop.”
I nodded and smiled, but said nothing. Maddie showed us to James’s ‘usual’ spot, and I felt like slapping myself in the forehead. Why had I put it in my mind that James didn’t take girls here? Of course, he probably did. He had lots of girlfriends; he probably brought them here all the time.
My stomach churned, and I felt like I had at the beginning of the day: dreadfully suspecting and unwilling to do this. James must’ve noticed my disappointment, because as we sat down, he was quick to say, “Don’t tell anyone this, but I come here a lot.”
I looked up at him and raised my brow. Really, James? I really couldn’t have guessed that you come here a lot; I just thought you were getting cozy with the waitress… Okay, so, that left a nasty image in my head. I cringed at the thought.
“I mean, alone,” James continued, apparently noticing my horrific look, “When I need some private time, during the school year. I tell the guys that I’ve got some stuff that I need to do, and then I come here. Maddie’s been working here for a good two to three years, and she’s pretty cool. She really understands the need for privacy. That’s why she usually saves this booth just for me.”
I looked around, and noticed that our little area in the shop was pretty secluded. It was the farthest corner away from the door, and the seats were up high enough where, if you crouched a little, you’d be hidden away.
“Actually, now that I think about it, you’re the first person I’ve ever brought here.”
I didn’t know what it was exactly, but upon hearing James say that, all my negative feelings seemed to disappear. I felt bad for thinking that James had shagged the waitress; She really did seem nice. Also, It gave me a good feeling, knowing that James would take me to his special place. Even if it was James.
“So, you come here a lot, then?” I asked. James just shrugged.
“Sometimes,” he said nonchalantly, “I mean, I don’t really have a specific time every week. I just come when I'm feeling stressed…”
“Oh…” I really didn’t know what to say; this was a totally new situation for me. Sitting here alone with James, and having a normal conversation was completely unfamiliar territory for me, and in all honestly, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable about it.
“Well, it’s a beautiful place,” I added, not really paying attention to what was coming out of my mouth. I just wanted to keep the conversation going as long as possible, with out looking like the freak that James and I both knew I was.
“I know,” James replied, slowing looking around the shop, taking in everything like I was, “isn’t it…?”
I felt like I was dreaming. It was like I was back in second or third year, and every night I would just think over and over 'if only James Potter would be nice to me. If only James Potter would be nice to me.' Until I fell asleep, and dreams of James talking to me, apologizing for everything’s he’s done, groveling at my feet, saying he’ll do anything just to get me to forgive him. And of course, I would only make him do the most embarrassing things I could think of. Except, well, the whole James embarrassing himself wasn’t happening. And he hadn’t said anything that sounded remotely like an apology. But, he was being nice.
“Speaking of things that are beautiful,” he continued, turning his attention towards me, “You look nice today. That’s a pretty shirt.”
Of course, that was the kind of comment that I was used to hearing from James. The only thing was, I wasn’t used to those comments being directed towards me. Suddenly, my hands became very interesting, so clearly, I had to look down at them. I hoped James hadn’t seen me blush.
Was James Potter being civil towards me? This was absurd. No, he was never like this – not to me, anyway. I could feel my heart beat race as a nerve wracking thought filled my mind; what if this was a trick?
I must’ve looked ridiculous, sitting there. I felt as embarrassed as the first time Briscoe asked me out; I just stood there, staring at him like I was a dear caught in the headlights. I took me a good five minutes before I muttered an awkward ‘yes’ at Briscoe, and I couldn’t understand why he had still gone out with me.
“Sarah,” James said, looking at me with genuine concern, “Are you alright?”
I slowly nodded my head, still feeling like I was in a dream state. I didn’t know what to say; James had taken me completely off guard.
Luckily, I didn’t have time to respond, because Maddie came up to us with a menu, and gave us a list of the special. James had ordered a Starberry Paraiso White Tea, recommending it with the highest of praises. I stuck with a simple tea, called Queen of Babylon; I was told it had the flavor of Pineapple & Pomegranate, which happened to be my two favorite fruits. I didn’t take long for Maddie to come back with our order once she left, bringing us two rather large glasses of delicious looking tea.
“So, what do you want to talk about?” James asked as Maddie walked away.
Honestly? Nothing. I didn’t even really want to be here. The only reason I was there was to show James that I'm the better human here. So, I had to think of something to say, and I said the first thing that came to mind.
I should’ve realized it sooner. This was probably the only topic that both James and I knew a lot about, and knowing James’s personality, it seemed like he could talk about the subject for hours.
Which, he ended up doing rather easily. I learned a lot about James’s Quidditch tastes, including that his favorite team was Puddlemere United, and that Oliver Wood had to be the best Professional Quidditch player in the entire world (next to his own mother, the Ginny Potter, of course, who had played a few years back, before retiring early to take care of the family), and that the man was a huge inspiration to James and his Quidditch moves. Although it seemed quite ironic that Oliver Wood was his favorite player, considering Oliver’s son, Briscoe Wood, was one of James’s sworn enemies. It’s scary sometimes, how intense the two can get when they’re in the same room.
I also learned that although James loves Quidditch (and I mean really loves), he constantly feels the pressure of being like his dad, who played Gryffindor Seeker for pretty much the entire time he was at Hogwarts. Including his first year. I never knew that. James’s dad being the Seeker his first year at school, I mean… Or the fact that James felt the pressure from it, actually. I guess I just always assumed that he felt superior to everyone else on the field. He seemed so confident I never noticed the underlying doubt that he held so close to his heart.
“Honestly,” James said, “I think become Quidditch Captain this year is something that my dad’s really proud of. I think it’s the most proud he’s ever been…”
I didn’t know what to say to that. I just looked down at my cup of tea and took another sip.
I couldn’t imagine what that felt like; finally, after fifteen years of existence, James finally felt that his father seemed genuinely proud of him…
No matter what I had done in my life, my father always seemed proud of me. Even when I didn’t get sorted into Ravenclaw, he was still proud that I had made it into such a ‘prestigious house like Hufflepuff…’ He acted like it was some huge honor to be sorted into the house, and when I got home for winter break, he and my mother had baked a chocolate cake, and decorated it very Hufflepuff like, with yellow icing, and a badger made out of edible Styrofoam. I was accustomed to having that kind of support group from home, and I couldn’t imagine a life without it…
Of course, it wasn’t just James that we talked about the entire time. James had managed to learn that my favorite team just so happened to be the Falmouth Falcons (James responded with “Oh, it seems so ironic that a quiet, meek girl like yourself would favor the most violent team in the entire league”), and I even gave him my rant about the Holyhead Harpies, and how their entirely too feminist. I went on for a good forty-five minutes, before James decided to cast a silencing charm on me, to shut me up.
“You know, I happen to admire the Holyhead Harpies,” James said with a smirk. Of course he out of all people would.
I just gave a small pout as I crossed my arms; I hoped it was evident that I was angry. Apparently it was, because James did whatever he always did when he noticed that I was angry; he laughed. Which only made me angrier.
“Come on now, Sarah,” he said, looking out the window, “I think it’s time we head back to school, don’t you?”
I turned my head in the same direction, and saw that the sun was slowly falling towards the horizon. I couldn’t believe that time had gone by so fast. And I most certainly couldn’t believe that, for the most part, I actually enjoyed spending the day with James.
I opened my mouth to speak, but quickly remembered that James had put a silencing charm on me. I closed my mouth as quickly as I had opened it, no doubt looking like a gaping fish, and after a moment, I slowly started to nod yes.
The truth was, I didn’t really want to leave; this place was beautiful, and I didn’t think that I would ever come back again. Certainly, I wasn’t going to bring any of my friends – especially Dom – to James’s secret place, because I didn’t want to intrude on his sanctuary. And I also knew that James would never bring me here again; this was a one-time deal.
I let out a small sigh, and James laughed as he stood up. He quickly waved his wand, and smiled.
“You can talk, now,” he said with a goofy grim.
I just stood up, and rolled my eyes. Okay, well, maybe not everything was perfect.
Okay, so, I hope you liked this chapter. Anyway, you guys know the drill; review & be my best friend, yeah? I promise the next update won't take so long.