Chapter 8 : Day Twenty, Phase Six
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A/N: So, we’re back onto the plot! This chapter was one of my favourites to write, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Things will speed up from now on though so try and keep up ;) I’m aiming for this story to be about 17 chapters which means after this we only have 9 chapters left :O Remember to read and review!
We were back in HQ with Operatives Queenie, Man-eater and PE sitting diligently, cross legged on the carpet whilst I was using my pointer (rather violently) to explain phase six (rather rubbishly).
Oh, who are Operative Man-eater and Operative PE I hear you cry? Well, since Ravi and Noah are way too involved in this case already, I decided I might as well go the whole hog and involve them full time. One guess as to who’s who, it’s really not that hard.
“Operative Coffee Addict is going swimming today with The Target and his cousin James, who, really needs a code name,” Queenie rolled her eyes as I rambled off topic.
“The J-ster?” Operative PE supplied which I shot down with a glare. I have to say, my glares are getting really effective, which, from where I started, is a big improvement. I wonder if there are awards for that kind of thing... I see it now, the award goes to Sophie Carter, for the most improved glare! The raucous cheering and whooping, Mum crying in the front row, Freddie sweeping me off my feet...
Oh, a girl could dream.
“That’s The Target’s mother,” I stated dryly.
“The J-ster 2.0?” PE said timidly, expecting a rebuff. Ha, be afraid.
“I like it, let’s roll with that. Okay, so I’m going swimming with The Target and The J-ster 2.0. Here the opportunity arises to perform a search and seizure with their belongings-“
“You’re going to pickpocket?! That’s illegal!” Man-Eater squeaked, eyes wide.
“No, I’m going to look, then put it back, we can’t have them getting suspicious. Everyone clear?”
I’ll take those head shakes as a yes then.
“What are we doing today?” Queenie asked.
“Well, the rest of the Weasleys are shopping for groceries and they’ll be gone for about an hour. That means you have a guaranteed half hour window slot to snoop. Here’s the keys, don’t mess anything up too much and don’t get caught!”
“Same goes for you too,” Queenie smirked. You get caught once and it’s never forgotten.
“Let’s roll out, go, go, go!”
It’s never a good idea to attempt to ninja roll down the stairs and simultaneously jump over the banister.
It ends in disaster and a hurt coccyx.
“Ow, ow, ow,” The sounds of pain escaped from my lips as I waddled off the bus. It took a full minute to walk down the aisle just to get to the doorway. It was especially embarrassing when I had to ask the driver to lower the bus so I could even get off. That only ever happens for old ladies. I’m sure none of the passengers were convinced that I was an old lady. In fact, the calls of ‘Golden Oldie!’ from a bunch of rowdy boys at the back of the bus proved this.
The Target helped me step down whilst The J-ster 2.0 smirked on in amusement. Git. I don’t care if he is the cousin of my best friend, who I just happened to have a crush on. He’s still a git.
East Devon Lido was an outdoor swimming pool that most people went to due to the lack of beaches (unless you lived by the coast, then you were sorted). It was most active in summer because in winter, it had a tendency to freeze over-it wasn’t heated.
Today though, it seemed the whole of Teignbridge Academy had turned up with beach balls flying everywhere. Lindsay was sitting with her minions by the pool edge, not so much as dipping her toes in- Lindsay? Ruin her makeup? Never!- in a bright, neon yellow bikini that seemed to be the same shade as her toxic hair. Bikini would be stretching it too far though, that would suggest some kind of clothing.
I was currently standing in the doorway of the changing rooms, peeping out just enough to see the whole scene. The J-ster 2.0 and The Target were flexing their muscles in competition to see whose were biggest (Freddie won, but they were both skinny runts) before simultaneously diving into the pool, unintentionally warranting the attention of every female in the joint, including Lindsay who checked them out appreciatively over her sunglasses. Yeah, we don’t get a lot of good looking guys popping up all over Britain contrary to popular belief and although James had big, knobbly ears and Freddie had a chipped tooth, their cocky attitudes more than made up for it.
Shit. I was going to look like a blotchy, awkward but thankfully hair free, ugly duckling next to those two.
Oh well, here goes nothing.
Bikinis were not my thing. All that flesh? Heaven forbid. Neither were one pieces, I wasn’t particularly keen on emphasising my short stumpy legs.
So, naturally, I wore the only piece of swimwear left.
Now, my tankini was bloody gorgeous. Didn’t suit me at all, but still, it was gorgeous. The top was black, halter neck and unfortunately showed more back than I cared for, but it was a swimsuit, so it was probably designed by a pervert male, like all other swimsuits, to show as much off as possible. Unfortunate, but unavoidable. The bottom was a red miniskirt with built in shorts which meant guys couldn’t look up it- bonus.
All in all, it was a tankini for some tall, leggy model.
I was not a tall, leggy model.
“Soph!” The J-ster 2.0 called and waved. Seems like he’s already caught onto the nickname. I waved back. Lindsay glared. As if she would get him, there was too much sexual tension between him and Imogen. Unresolved, imaginary sexual tension, but sexual tension all the same.
I said sexual tension way too many times.
Meh, it’s in my head, it doesn’t count.
I cannon balled into the pool, making sure I splashed Lindsay on the way. The high pitched squeals were well worth the hard force of the impact on the water.
“Man, that was epic Sophie, look at Brooks’ face!” Freddie drew out in between laughs. Lindsay resembled a badly tanned panda. A badly tanned panda with dyed fur and acidic tears that melted the dye. Poor panda.
“My respect for you has just gone through the roof,” The J-ster 2.0 high fived me. Respect? Does that mean he’ll put in a good word for me with Freddie? Nope, he doesn’t even know you like Freddie, remember Sophie? Besides, you can’t tell him, you barely know him and his loyalties lie with his family, he’ll tell Freddie and you’ll be rejected.
Thank you voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like Kelly.
Talking to myself, first sign of madness.
You said it.
Are you still there?
Yep, that is definitely myself.
“So, Sophie,” The Target swum around me in circles on his back. “Didya hear about ol’ Mrs Crawford and the great football fiasco?”
“No, when did that happen?”
“So, that’s what you’re calling the cat screeches and glass smashing and the shouting?”
“Yes,” Freddie smirked as if something I said amused him. “It’s a little more complicated than that, see, I was teaching Dad how to play football correctly but he has a killer powershot, instead of kicking it in between the plant pots we set out as the goal, it went over the fence, over your garden and into her greenhouse. And well, you know how much she likes her tomatoes...”
Yep, crazy cat lady was also a crazy fan of tomatoes. Go figure.
“Well, Dad managed to damage one of her vines. She went nuts, yelling about hooligans and when we went over, she had pierced my ball with a knife. Dad was peeved of course and when he told her it was his fault, she not only made him promise to pay for the damage but clobbered him with one of her cat statues by her pond,”
I have weird neighbours. Why do I even bother?
“So, let me get this straight, your Dad smashed Mrs Crawford’s greenhouse, potentially killed her prize winning tomatoes, then, after you heard her venomous shouts promising revenge, you went over and ended up with one dead football and a bill to show for it?”
“In a nutshell, yes,”
“You’re crazy,” I shook my head, disbelievingly.
“Not as crazy as you,”
Somehow, that perception was ruined by an inflated tiger bouncing off his head. Nothing screams crazy like a multi coloured animal.
“Why James?” Freddie groaned as if this happened a lot. Judging from his behaviour before, this I could certainly believe.
“It’s a Bengali tiger with the colours of the rainbow, it’s endangered and it took a liking to your luscious raven locks,”
“How am I related to you?”
James shrugged and swam off after the tiger that floated the length of the pool. If I didn’t know better, I would say that the tiger was trying to get away from him, but, alas, it was an inanimate object, made of plastic, it couldn’t really swim.
Besides, even if it was animate, tigers can’t swim.
We swam about for an hour longer whilst I got to know James better. He was quite the oddball and did nothing to hide it. Often he would sprout a fact or story, leaving me agape and Freddie rolling his eyes as if he was used to it. I also got to know Imogen too without her presence. It was weird hearing about her boyish tendencies and constant scheming with her not actually physically being there but I laughed along all the same. Especially when I heard about the flash mob she tried to gather together but was stopped by Freddie. She got up to 25 people signed up, which was impressive considering most people wouldn’t want to be caught dancing spontaneously in school. Scary teachers are definitely a factor in that. So are embarrassing dance moves.
“I’m going to get out of the pool now,” I crossed my fingers and prayed that this time, I wouldn’t get caught on my excursion.
“We have an hour left till we said we were going to leave,” The J-ster 2.0 asked, confusion clouding his features. Dear god, did guys not understand at all how hard it is to get chlorine out of long hair?
“Yeah, but I’m a girl,”
“So?” Why won’t he let me leave? Is this some kind of dastardly plot to ruin my investigation?
“I take longer,”
Hallelujah, freedom. I made a break for the changing rooms, not glancing back just in case James decided to question me further about my female tendencies. I wondered if his mother ever sat him down and gave him the birds and the bees talk or avoided it.
I’m going to have to go with avoidance.
I turned left instead of right and ducked behind locker after locker before finally coming to the secluded corner where Jimbob and Fred Astaire got dressed. Thanking my lucky stars that they didn’t have enough money for a locker- really, they couldn’t spare 20p?- I delved into their belongings. It wasn’t that interesting.
There were sweet wrappers in surplus, scraps of paper, broken pens, a few feathers (?), a couple of used tissues, mouldy oranges and two weird looking sticks of wood, one with a white hair poking out the end.
In short, the boys hadn’t cleaned out their pockets for a while.
The only thing suspicious out of the pile of rubbish that I had to rummage around in were the sticks. They didn’t look like your ordinary, run of the mill sticks that you find on the forest floor, no, these sticks were pretty and polished and weren’t encased in mud as they should have been.
They were very intriguing. For sticks I mean.
“Did you know that it takes 8 minutes for light from the surface of the sun to reach the earth but it takes 300,000 years for the light to travel from the centre of the sun to the surface?”
“No, I didn’t James and you know muggle science isn’t my forte,”
Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.
I hastily shoved everything I’d taken out, all but one sweet wrapper that landed on the other side of the room, back into where they came from as the footsteps of The Target and The J-ster 2.0 echoed in the hallways, wet feet slapping against the hard stone floor.
Where do I hide?
I dove under the bench just as the door swung open.
I stopped breathing as Freddie and James’ feet appeared by my face. My nose twitched as a sneeze tickled my hair. What if I sneeze on their feet?! The swimming pool water was drying off my skin and I had to suppress the urge to itch myself all over.
Great. Absolutely splendid.
Itchy, sneezy Sophie hiding under a bench.
1 minute. Freddie has awesome toenails. I wonder if he gets pedicures...
2 minutes. There’s a spider, there’s a spider, dear God, don’t let it eat me!
3 minutes. Let me just itch that spot behind my knee, urgh, ahhh.
4 minutes. What on earth is a muggle? That’s what Freddie said, wasn’t it? And why aren’t they in the showers yet?!
“So, have you found it then?” I heard James’ voice from across the room. When had he gotten there?
“No, I definitely had the wrapper when we came in...”
“Have you checked under the benches?”
I’m pretty sure I should be dead now because my heart stopped beating.
Freddie’s hand groped towards me and I wriggled constantly trying to avoid the hand of truth. Yes, his hand is the hand of truth because he’ll find me and that would mean the end of all the deception and all the deceit.
“Forget it, it’s lost. Let’s hit the showers Freddie,”
“Chuck me my towel will you?”
The feet disappeared and I sighed in relief.
The stares I got from other guys as I scrambled out of my hiding place and out of the boys changing rooms bore into the back of my head and unnerved me. So, it was a blushing, frantic me who had 15 minutes to have a shower and get dressed.
Let’s just say not all of the chlorine left my hair, shall we?
“So, what did you learn?”
I was pounced upon by Kelly as soon as I walked through my front door. Was it weird how that girl practically lived here, even when I wasn’t present? Yes, yes it was. I didn’t stay as much at her house though granted, not as much happens at hers as it does at mine.
“Nothing,” I huffed. “Except for the fact that they’re definitely guys,”
She didn’t say anything, knowing better to question my ramblings. Smart girl. Either that or she’s learnt how to put up with them or blank them out, which after 6 years, I’m sure she’s found a way of doing.
“Well, Noah and Ravi have gone home, but you’ll be pleased to know that we found this,”
She presented me with a badly stained train ticket and I quirked an eyebrow at her, scoffing under my breath. She rolled her eyes and just pointed at it, which was universal for- you silly clot don’t you dare dismiss this, read on. Onwards I read and I felt my eyes widen subconsciously.
“Where did you find this?”
“Taped to the fridge,” She smirked at me, smug that she had found a piece of evidence that I could have found ages ago. How many times have I gone into that fridge to make myself a sandwich or eat one of Angie’s brilliant leftovers? How many times have I walked past that fridge when going to the garden, or the dining table, or the living room? The evidence, right there, this whole time...
“Nine and three quarters...” I muttered under my breath. Yes, this was beyond abnormal.
The platform for departure to Hogwarts was nine and three quarters at King’s Cross. As far as I knew, there were no platforms with fractions involved at major train stations, it would just confuse people even more, platforms with added numbers, nightmare. Besides, how many people really had a good, basic grasp of fractions with the education system failing us?
Plus, the ticket said Hogwarts School of Wi-, the rest of the sentence blotted out by what looked like Chicken Korma. That meant that Hogwarts was a specialist school, but what they specialised in eluded me.
One step forward, three steps back.
A/N: I’m really sorry this took forever to get out! True story here, my mum asked me whether or not I would like to go to Cardiff, I said yes and then she said great, you’re leaving in 2 hours. So, I’ve kinda been on a last minute holiday, don’t kill me! I missed results day but ended up having to hear my results being read out to me by my brother who collected them. I won’t be posting any more3 chapters this month as I want to revise this story and make it better as I think my writing is improving so I want to make sure everything’s consistent. That and the fact that I don’t want this to end.
Oh, and I’ve started getting ideas for my Imogen/James spin off, it’s going to be called The Set Up, so keep your eyes peeled once this is completed. And I have a new story, St Mungo’s, go check it out ;)
Come and ask me questions on my MTA page!