Chapter 3 : Chapter Two
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There are some things in life a girl is supposed to be naturally good at. At least, that’s what my mum has always told me. Learning to put makeup on is one of those things. Knowing what to do in case of a wardrobe malfunction, that’s one. Having a “style” of your own, that’s the main one. Having a style has many sub-categories: what to wear to your first dinner with your boyfriend’s parents, what to wear to seduce someone, what to wear on a date.
I seem to be lacking a style of my own.
My dorm is empty – all of my dorm mates are already gone to Hogsmeade. My hair is pulled into a messy bun at the back of my neck. My makeup is finished. Clothes are thrown about the room. Despite the fact that I’m suppose to meet Clark in the common room in fifteen minutes to go on our date, I’m not ready; I don’t even have clothes on. I’ve paraded around my room in my red underwear, nervous and shaking, for the past thirty minutes. Di was supposed to be here to help me and she’s not here. Maybe if I hadn’t set my alarm to wake me up two hours early this morning, I wouldn’t be thinking so much, but everything is going wrong.
Di isn’t here to help me and I have no idea why. What if Clark is playing a prank on me? What if he ditches me? Why isn’t Di here? I know she was confused about me agreeing to go on a date with Clark, but she didn’t seem angry. Breathing heavily, I stand in front of the bathroom mirror. Years ago, I wasn’t the person staring back at me; I wasn’t healthy, I wasn’t happy with myself. I’m still changing and becoming comfortable with myself. Sometimes it helps to not think so much. I breathe evenly now. Di will be here; she’s never let me down before.
The door to the dorm opens. A shaky laugh escapes me. “Di! Thank God you’re here!” Brushing a stray hair out of my face, I step back from the mirror and turn to Di. “I have no idea what to -”
I lock eyes with James Potter.
“ – oh my God.”
His eyes are the size of saucers as they take me in. Neither of us moves. I’m too shocked to move and he’s…I don’t know why he hasn’t moved his eyes from my chest. His next words bring me out of my shocked state, “Red is definitely my favorite color.” Heat rushes to my face and I scramble to my bed, conscious of every move I make and his eyes still on me as I throw my robe around me.
“What are you doing here?” I snap, rounding to face him. “How did you get up here? Boys aren’t allowed up here!”
James’ hazel eyes are amused. “I came to get Sara’s jacket. And, Shannon, surely you know there are ways to get around that rule.”
Of course I know there are ways around the rule, but that doesn’t stop me from cursing my luck that James knew the way around it and used it to get his date-of-the-day’s jacket and ended up stumbling upon me in my underwear, panicking about a date I’m certain will end terribly. I groan. “Well, good luck finding her jacket in this mess.” I kick through my clothes on the floor. “Why didn’t she come get it herself?”
“She’s saving our table at Madame Puddifoot’s.”
Despite myself, I bite back a smile. “Right. Okay, I’m going to find something to wear in this mess, since Di obviously isn’t going to show up. While I’m doing that, you can go through Sara’s stuff to find her jacket. Her bed’s ov- “
“I know where her bed is, Shannon,” he laughs, carefully stepping over my clothes and towards Sara’s bed, the one across from mine. “Why are you so worried about your choice of clothes? Just wear whatever you’re comfortable in. Trust me, Clark will think you’re lovely either no matter what you wear.”
Carefully bending to sort through my blouses on the floor, I groan. “I should’ve known he wouldn’t keep our date secret.”
“What did you expect? He’s been trying to date you for years.” He grins at me wryly. “Not many girls tell him no. You would have saved yourself years of taunts and teasing had you gone out with him the first time.”
“Excuse me for having boundaries.”
James’ grin widens. “Clark’s persistent, Shannon. He saw something…special in you and he chased you. He’s never done that for another girl.”
“Stop justifying his actions, James.” I glance up to where James is leaning across Sara’s bed, trying to open her drawer. “You can break through the spells the castle has against boys coming into the girls’ dorm, but you can’t open a simple drawer?”
He glowers at me. “It’s harder than it looks.”
“Apparently.” I toss a green blouse to the side. “Why would she have her jacket in a drawer anyway?”
“I dunno! I don’t see a Gryffindor jacket anywhere else in her junk.” He sighs impatiently. “Do you have any idea where it is?”
“I can’t even pick my own sodding clothes out – why would I know where her jacket is?”
“You’re a lot of help.”
“Oh, it’s my pleasure.”
He rises up. “Let’s make a deal. I’ll help you find something to wear if you will help me find her jacket. Deal?”
Moving from his seat on Sara’s bed to a more uncomfortable position on the floor, James begins looking through my clothes. He discards khakis and tank-tops. He reaches for a shirt beside my leg, his hand brushing the thin fabric of my robe and causing it to slide away. The small movement causes my earlier blush to resurface. I rush to resituate my robe again.
“Sorry,” James says, his lips twitching slightly. He holds out a simple, short-sleeved red top. “I like this one. It’s simple, yet not uncaring.”
“But it’s red.”
“Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but your underwear is also red and I don’t see you cringing at the thought of wearing it on your date.”
I glare at him. “Because Clark isn’t going to see my underwear on our date! Red draws unwanted attention…” I trail off, unwilling to say anything else because I know that, no matter how innocent whatever I say might be, it will probably be taken in another context with James and our previous run-in.
Grinning, James holds the shirt out to me. “Either you can sort through all these clothes another hundred times or you can take my advice and wear this.”
I groan and take the shirt. “Okay, but I need pants to wear with it. I can’t go on my date with only a shirt on.”
“I’m sure Clark wouldn’t mind that.”
I roll my eyes. “I’m going to put this on while you hunt for a pair of jeans. Hurry!”
Closing the bathroom door behind me, I smile. In the span of fifteen minutes, James Potter has seen me in my underwear, I have argued with said Potter, and I am now taking clothing advice from him. Peeling the robe off me, I slip the red shirt on, the soft fabric caressing my skin. The shirt is fitted and shows off every curve I possess from the waist up. I have to admit, James knew what he was doing when he picked this out. “Having any lucky?” I call out.
“Uh, yeah!” he calls back, his footsteps getting closer to the bathroom door. “Here, try these.”
Through the crack of the door, he hands me a pair of dark skinny jeans. I hold back a sigh and slip them on. My mum had talked me into buying them over the summer and had apparently packed them with my clothes. I’d intended on forgetting I owned the bloody things.
A knock on the door shocks me out of my self-pitying reverie. “Shannon, you okay in there? Merlin, how long does it take you to put clothes on?”
Groaning, I open the door. “They’re tight.”
“That’s how they’re supposed to look.” He bites his lip, as if trying to conceal his amusement. “Besides, they look good on you.”
I don’t have much of a choice in wearing them. Either I can stress for another two hours about my clothes or I can suck it up and just wear them. I’m not even sure why I feel the need to impress Clark. “Okay, whatever. Let’s just…find Sara’s jacket, okay?”
“I have to admit, Shan, I was beginning to think you were going to stand me up.”
Clark’s tone is amused, but his eyes are serious as they give me a once-over. He holds the door open for me and I walk into Honeydukes. “I was just…having trouble picking out what clothes to wear,” I answer, biting my lip as I glance up at him.
He smirks down at me, his emerald eyes losing their serious touch. “I figured as much, although I don’t see why you’d have trouble finding clothes. You look amazing in anything.”
“What a flatterer you are.”
Clark laughs, his fingers reaching up to grasp my elbow. The contact surprises me – we’re on our first date and he’s already touching me? – and I move to retract my elbow from his grasp, but he rolls his eyes and says, “Relax, Shan, I’m merely steering you in the right direction.” With his free hand, he points to the chocolate section of the shop.
“You could’ve told me where to go,” I grumble, allowing myself to be led. “I’m more than capable of walking.”
“I know you are.” He removes his hand from my elbow, leaving a tingly sensation in his wake. What does that mean? Where’s Di when I need her? “Have you ever tried these?” Clark asks, waving a box of chocolate frogs in front of my face.
I cringe back. “Uh, yeah. When I was younger.” I smile sheepishly. “I don’t eat chocolate now, though.”
“What kind of human doesn’t eat chocolate?”
“Health-conscious and lactose intolerant humans?”
He throws his hands in the air dramatically, shaking his head mournfully. “Shan, my love, you are difficult.” He flashes me a smile. “But that’s why I like you.” He nods toward the rows of chocolate before us. “Now which of these d’you want?”
I shake my head. “None of them.”
“C’mon, Shan! Pick one. Please, for me.”
Clark gives me a pleading look, his emerald eyes wide and begging dramatically. “Nope, no chocolate for me,” I laugh.
His lips pucker out in a pout. “Just one box?”
My eyes narrow. “I’m beginning to think you want to buy a box for yourself, Clark…”
“Who, me? Never! I’m shocked you’d think such a thing, Shannon Clark.”
“Mmhmm.” I grin up at him. “I suppose I wouldn’t mind a box of caramel-filled chocolate frogs,” I say decisively.
Clark throws his hands up and yells, “Thank the heavens! She relented!” His hands falling to his sides, he winks at me. “I knew you’d give in, Shan.”
I merely roll my eyes, deciding not to comment. I’m sure I’ll be kicking myself later, when I have a box of chocolate frogs at my disposal, but for now I’m happy. We purchase a box of twenty-four frogs and make our way to The Three Broomsticks. The whole way there, Clark and I talk about small things: the weather and chocolate frogs. I listen intently, finding myself smiling non-stop. One can expect Clark to make the most boring subjects interesting.
Once we’ve taken our seats at The Three Broomsticks and have ordered, I peer around us, keeping an eye out for Di. I frown when I see no sign of my short, blonde best friend. Where is she? Why didn’t she come to my dorm this morning? It’s not like her to stand me up.
“What’s wrong, Shan?” Clark asks from across me, his eyes narrowed.
I bite my lip nervously. “It’s Di. She was supposed to help me get ready this morning and she didn’t show up.” I sigh. “I haven’t seen a sign of her. It’s not like her to stand me up.”
“Maybe she’s studying or catching up on homework?” Clark suggests.
“Maybe,” I admit, although it isn’t like Di to do homework on the weekend; she usually has it completed the day it’s assigned to her. I don’t want to complain to Clark, though, so I decide to let the subject of Di pass.
Clark and I sip our butterbeers in silence comfortably. He watches me closely and I watch the people around us closely. I open my mouth to ask him why he’s staring at me when our waiter brings our food; me a salad and him an arrangement of cooked meats. Clark laughs when he sees my salad. “Shan, that’ll hardly hold you over for a few hours! Why didn’t you order something more…appetizing?”
Did he just say that I have a strong appetite? “Um, this’ll hold me over until dinner.” I shrug and take a bite of my salad. “I don’t see how you can eat half of that,” I retort, pointing toward his plate of food.
“Ah, I’m a man, Shan – I could eat a bear and still be hungry.”
“You’re insatiable, that’s what you are.”
Clark’s lips twitch into a wicked grin and he raises his eyebrows suggestively. “Indeed I am.”
I snort. “For the love of Merlin, eat your food.”
We eat in silence, with Clark making the occasional off-hand comment and me making a wry remark. Why did I stress so much about this? It’s perfectly…normal, easy. I had originally thought going on a date with Clark would be painful and uncomfortable, but it’s proving to be the complete opposite: easy and comfortable. I made an impulsive decision and, for once, it hasn’t come back to bite me in the arse.
Clark pulls out the box of chocolate frogs when we’re finished. “Time for dessert,” he announces, opening the box slightly. “All right, Shan, you have to make sure you hold the frog firmly and eat it quickly or else it’ll hop away and we’ll be kicked out of here forever.” He thrusts the box toward me. “Ladies first.”
The refusing retort on the tip of my tongue dies and I reach forward and grasp a frog firmly. It jiggles in my hands and I laugh. “It’s been years since I’ve had one of these,” I admit, watching Clark grasp his own. We eat them quickly, the caramel sticking to my teeth and making it difficult to swallow. “They’re as amazing as ever,” I sigh.
“They’re bloody amazing,” Clark agrees, licking a spot of caramel from his lip. He notices me watching and smirks. “Enticing, huh?”
I look away, blushing furiously. No, I had not just stared a bloody hole through Clark. And, no, he hadn’t noticed. Sweet Merlin. “Just…let’s eat another?” Before he can speak, I reach forward and get another frog – just as Clark does at the same time. Our hands bump and I drop my frog. It hops onto Clark. His hand jerks, opening the lid to the box completely and unleashing the rest of the frogs.
I gasp and clamber to shut the box, but it’s too late: half of the frogs are already hopping around the table. One hops onto Clark’s head, while another finds its way to his face. He looks so completely ridiculous – I laugh. At first, it’s a giggle, but then it transforms to a loud, obnoxious laugh.
“Bloody hell! A little help here, Shan!” he calls, aggrieved.
My hand covers my mouth and I shake my head, unable to respond.
“Shan! Damn you, get them off me!”
People are looking at us now. I laugh harder.
“What a lot of help you are, Shan.”
I stand and walk toward him, giggling all the while. I remove the one on his head with shaking heads. He opens his mouth and I obediently place the frog on his tongue. “W-where are t-the rest?”
“In my shirt,” Clark sighs.
Just like that, my amusement is gone. “I’m not sticking my hand down your shirt.”
Clark stands and the waiter from earlier runs toward us. His eyes are wild. “Get outta here, you two! You’ll have this place filled with those bloody things – get out!”
Clark and I look at each other and burst out laughing. We comply, however, and leave (not before paying). Outside the door, Clark releases his shirt and six frogs hop out and make their way down the street, hopping happily. Clark clutches the box of saved frogs protectively, laughing. I lean against the window, clutching my stomach.
“I can’t believe we were kicked out,” I gasp.
With his mirth under control, Clark nudges me playfully. “Bet you feel like a real rebel now, don’t you?”
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I nudge him back. “You know it.”
“C’mon, let’s take a walk.”
We move and Clark puts his arm around my shoulders with ease, glancing down at me questioningly. In response, I wrap my arm around his waist. It feels good to have his arm around me. We walk back to the castle in silence and his arm eventually slides down to take my hand in his. My hand feels warm in his own and I squeeze his.
He lets me walk in first into the common room. A few younger students are there, playing games and finishing homework. Clark pulls me to a stop and we face each other.
Oh my God, we’re going to kiss.
His hand on my waist, he pulls me closer. Smiling, his other hand tips my face toward his and, before I have time to process what’s happening, his lips are on mine. They’re warm and soft and my stomach flip-flops in response. Just as quickly as it happened, it’s gone. Pulling away, he looks down at me. “I had a great time, Shan.”
“Me too.” My voice is quiet, almost dazed.
“We should do this again.”
I finally manage to meet his eyes. They seem impossibly green and bright. “Yeah, I’d like that.”
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