CHAPTER TWO: JAMES
IT WAS ALL HER FAULT
She’s probably pinned this whole thing on me. In fact I’d be prepared to bet on it.
Everything’s James’ fault. Always and with no exceptions. Ria, on the other hand, is never in trouble, never to blame, and most importantly, never wrong.
I’m not actually lying, there. It’s true. She is never in trouble, she is never to blame and she is never wrong. At least, that’s how it comes across to any of the teachers, my Mum or anyone else she’s ever bloody smiled at.
Unfortunately, I’m one of the few individuals to have seen behind that smile. I’m a first-hand witness that, actually, a lot of the time Maria Beales herself is responsible for the trouble one or other of us consistently finds ourselves in, definitely to blame and just very occasionally I might be right, rather than her.
It’s just that no one bloody believes me.
So this time, too. It was her. Every step of the sodding way. From undermining me as usual at practice – she always say she understands that its hard as captain to tell your friends what to do and yet it doesn’t stop her pratting around – right up until the very end. I mean it, honestly. It’s not like I actually wanted her to drink that sludge.
I was kidding.
So if she wouldn’t have been a whinge at training then she wouldn’t have stormed off in a huff and fallen in the mud (totally thought I didn’t see that – priceless) and we wouldn’t have argued so there wouldn’t have been any need to hug it out and she’d have had time to wash her hair so she wouldn’t have dripped mud on the book so that she wouldn’t have read the ingredients list wrong.
Yep, you heard right. She read it wrong. Because of the mud splattering right over the part where it asked for a quarter ounce of beetles eyes. Not four ounces.
You’d think she’d have noticed the mud smeared across the ‘1/4’ when she checked over the list for the twenty-fifth time. But no. Because that would involve Ria admitting she’s wrong. Which I don’t believe has ever happened. And if it did, she’d get rid of the evidence.
I think she just didn’t want to believe it that much that she genuinely couldn’t see where she’d gone wrong. She was reading what she wanted to read.
Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that I noticed the mistake. Ask anyone (ask Ria), I’m a complete Potions fraud. Definitely don’t deserve to be in there. It’s just that Ree’s got at least some heart (or likes to flaunt her talent in my face) and has just about scraped me through for the last six years).
So I didn’t know what the hell had happened to our Repulsion Remedy. One minute I’m enjoying that moment where Ria has to admit she’s screwed up, next minute there’s a vial in my hand and a very scary girl looking into my eyes and saying ‘cheers’.
Then there was a bit of choking on both of our behalf’s as the gunge stuck in our throats. Then there was that long moment that we locked eyes, each determined not to be the one to spit it out. Then that grimace as we simultaneously forced it down...
Then things started to go a little hazy.
That’s when I started to register that somewhere along the line one of us should probably have stopped.
When the edges of my vision misted up and everything just seemed a little contorted, stretched kind of... then there were two Ria’s in front of me and...
I don’t know. I try to make the connection from the moment that there were two nauseated looking Ria’s staggering in front of me where I’m fairly certain I was gripping onto the back of a chair to remain upright to...
Well. Where else.
Ria’s voice was the first thing I heard.
“Why are we in the hospital wing?”
I don’t know why that woke me up with such a jolt. I mean, her voice was kind of weak and wavery. It shouldn’t have woken me. But it was like all of a sudden I snapped awake and my chest felt... weird. I sort of couldn’t manage a whole steady breath, kind of like my heart was spluttering.
Maybe that was why her voice sounded so strained.
Holy shit, what had we done to ourselves?
“Ree -” I just about managed to choke out.
Shit it was hard to breathe. For the first time I felt genuinely worried. Before it was that ominous feeling pushed aside by the... well, not wanting to be the one to chicken out. But now... what the hell had we done to ourselves? Well, more accurately...
“What the hell have you poisoned me with?” I demanded. It didn’t come out as accusationally as I intended. Sounded a bit whiney, actually. But that was the best I could manage with my chest out of whack like this.
“Me?” Now her voice sounded suddenly a whole lot more like the Ree I knew. “You did this to us! Don’t you dare try and... where are you?”
“I’m right next to you, you idiot -”
That’s when I realised we were both yelling (hoarsely whispering) vaguely into mid-air. On my part, because I really didn’t feel like I could lift my head off of the pillow. Just lying here and listening to her was making me dizzy. But I managed to roll my head to the side and saw just a rather disgusting floral curtain drawn between us.
“They’ve drawn the curtain. James, why have they drawn the curtain?” Suddenly her accusing tone was a little more apprehensive. “They only draw the curtain if someone’s really ill... oh my god. Oh my god - you’ve killed us.”
“We’re not going to die -” I was left being the voice of reason, when that hammering in my head, heart and gut was not really all that convincing.
“Maybe we’re already dead. Maybe this is hell. Just my luck, to be stuck with you for all of eternity -”
“You’re not going to hell, you never get caught for anything. I’m the one in hell if anyone’s in hell -”
“And this is my heaven?!”
I winced. “Can you keep your voice down a bit? Every time you speak it’s like I’ve been kicked in the face and the gut at the same time -”
There was a small pause. Then a small voice. “Me too.” Another small pause. “What do you think’s wrong with us?”
I was feeling horrific enough without pondering that. “I don’t know Ree. But something tells me that... wasn’t a repulsion remedy.” Unless this feeling is my body repelling itself and being torn apart.
There was an odd noise that I didn’t immediately place. Partly because it was so out of context. And partly because it clashed with the pain low in my gut clenching up again. This time almost unbearably.
“Are you... laughing?” I managed to choke out. Oh god, pain. Die. I’d rather die, at this point. And Ria’s...
There it was again, that high-pitched tinkle I’m so used to hearing... just... not when I’m lying in the hospital wing contemplating my imminent death.
“You are. You’re laughing.” The effort of speaking at least took my mind off the way that she seemed to find this whole thing a hilarious joke while I felt more and more like I was going to die with every chuckle. “You’re giggling like a little girl.”
There were a few more seconds of agonising pain before the tinkling stopped. And with it my pain. That was weird.
“I’m sorry.” She said, the laughter still echoing in her voice. “I guess you were right. That wasn’t exactly a repulsion remedy. It was supposed to be ‘a clear, viscous fluid with a faint lilac steam’.”
“There was absolutely nothing clear or faint about that potion. I’ve had bowel movements more clear than that -”
Almost had to add a heart attack to my list of ailments, as my curtain was whipped open from the foot of my bed.
“Hi Madam Bones.” I wasn’t a stranger to the hospital wing. “Now, I know I always say it, but this time it wasn’t my fault -”
“It was so his fault.” Ria piped up, the curtain between us still drawn.
“I don’t care who did what, Mr Potter. What was this about bowel movements?”
I almost choked again. “No, well I mean I haven’t. I don’t... no. I’ve not -”
“So there have been no bowel movements.”
“No! I mean, we’ve only just woken up. And I feel like I’m going to die. What’s wrong with me?”
“What about me?” Ree demanded. “It’s not all about you, you know James. I want to die too -”
“You were laughing. Which I think made me feel a hundred time worse -”
“You made me feel a hundred times worse whenever you spoke, pig! But I didn’t cry about it like a little girl -”
“If you could both just calm down; neither of you are in any fit state to be at one another’s throats like this -” Madam Bones shut us up.
Not in a fit state. As in ill. As in bad.
There were a few seconds silence as we both contemplated that.
“What’s wrong with us?” Ria’s voice went all small again. Still made me feel like someone was stamping on my throat, though. Weird. It was like she said, any time she spoke I felt awful. My chest mainly, it was all choked up. And there was that cramping ache low down in my gut. And it sounded like it was the same for her.
“Well as much as it irritates me to say this, Miss Beales -”
“Sorry could you please open the curtain? I feel like I’m talking to a tablecloth.” From anyone else that would’ve sounded impertinent. But Ria just seemed to be able to get away with these things.
With a subtle flourish of her wand, Madam Bones whipped open the curtain between us.
I was milliseconds away from meeting Ria’s eye.
That’s when my head exploded.
“Mother fu -”
I was vaguely aware of Ria screeching as well, which struck me somewhere at the back of my paid-ridden mind as odd. Did I look that rough? Hang on, had the potion disfigured me in some way?
Then I wondered why the hell I was thinking about Ria being repulsed by my looks when I felt like my brain was trying to burrow its way out of my head. And that my stomach thought exiting through my ribs might be a grand old idea too.
“What on earth...” Madam Bones’ voice. Sounding confused. That wasn’t normal.
I was dying. I was convinced of it. If my stomach didn’t accomplish the journey through my ribs idea I was pretty certain I’d throw it up. Which probably isn’t healthy.
And Madam Bones just stood there. Don’t mind me, I’m just writhing in pain.
And Ria... call herself a friend...
“...please, it hurts. Make it stop...” Wait. That was Ria.
Then I remembered she’d drunk the stuff too. So I probably should have considered that she’d be feeling this too.
So I was a prick, as well as dying.
Then, quite abruptly, it stopped.
I opened my eyes. I hadn’t realised they’d been squeezed tightly shut, but they had.
I automatically looked up to Ria... but the curtain had been drawn again. So my eyes shifted up to Madam Bones.
She had an odd kind of look on her face.
“We’re going to die, aren’t we?” I asked. At that point I don’t even know if I was joking.
“No one’s going to die, Mr Potter -”
“So what the hell was that? I’m pretty sure spontaneous, crippling cramps must be some sort of indication of your vital organs ripping themselves apart or something -”
“James!” Ria’s voice cut through, along with a dull echo of the yank in my stomach. Oh god, it wasn’t over.
“I’m just saying, don’t you want to know what’s wrong with us -”
“Cut it out!”
“Cut what out? I’m -”
“Haven’t you figured it out yet?”
I paused, and another pang of pain diminished. Figured what out?
“I don’t know what you’re -”
“James, you’re hurting me!”
“Both of you, stop.” Madam Bones decided to chip in. Immediately the stomach cramps subsided and in the quiet I felt like I could breathe again.
I glanced, bewildered, at the floral dividing curtain. Hurting her? Was this about the potion? Was she really still blaming me for that?
I opened my mouth to voice my innocence again, but Madam Bones held up a hand to silence me.
“Don’t speak.” She said, briskly. “What Miss Beales meant, Mr Potter, is that you’re hurting each other.”
Now that was stupid.
“I’ve not touched her -”
“James -” Ria again.
“Quiet.” Madam Bones raised her voice. “Anything you say is just going to make it more painful for the other.”
“I’m sorry... what? I don’t -”
“For Christ’s sake, James, every time I see or hear you it hurts, don’t you get it? It’s the potion. You’re repelling me. We’re repelling each other.”
Cut it out...
You’re hurting me...
Repulsed by my best friend.
A.N. Had most of this written for a while so thought I'd post while I had a moment! Hope you enjoy this new story, it's a lot of fun to write and a lot less intense than a couple of my others! But still, I'm not one for the straight-forward so I guess you'll have figured that there's a bit more to this scenario than meets the eye!
Hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think!