Chapter 5 : Chapter Four
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I pop a chocolate frog into my mouth and snuggle deeper into my bed, placing the wizard card that came with the frog onto my stomach. Di’s going on about Life Studies from her perch on the foot of it; she’s been going on about the class for the past ten minutes. My way of tuning her out is to eat. Not healthy and perhaps a bit hypocritical of me, but what can a girl do?
“Who’d you get?”
She huffs impatiently and bends forward, causing my bed to shift, picking the newest card off my stomach. “Harry Potter? Again? Bloody hell, you’d think his card would be uncommon or some shit.” She waves dramatically toward the other Harry Potter cards placed on my stomach (with the exception of a few Draco Malfoys). “I’d give an arm and leg for a Granger.”
“Didn’t you have one a few years ago?” I ask, thinking back to when Di used to collect the cards and trade them with a small group of students.
“Yes,” she grumbles, sitting back. “But I lost it.” Picking up her notebook, I assume she’s about to start rambling about Life Studies again. Oh dear. “I have a theory about Fred Weasley and the role he’s gonna play in our little…family,” she announces.
“I’m all ears.”
She takes in a deep breath. “Okay, so, here’s what I know: he’s one of the Singles, he was the only single added into a group date, and there’s a fifty-fifty chance he’s meant for Clark and I or you and James.
“He’s obviously compatible, for lack of better word, with James and Clark, considering they’ve been best mates since first year. They all know each other well, so of course it’ll be easy to pit them against each other. Now comes the hard part.
“Speaking from a logical standpoint, I would say you and Fred are more compatible. You balance each other, sorta like you and Clark, I guess? He and I have a lot in common, but we would butt heads a lot, y’know? And that doesn’t work well for me, as you can see with my already-failing fake-relationship with your soon-to-be-boyfriend. But I really don’t know who he’s meant for.”
I blink a few times, processing all this information. Clearly Di has thought more about this and is noticing a lot more than what I am. Should I pay more attention to things? What Di’s saying sounds true, though – it sounds logical. Fred is going to play a big part in either or both of our Life Studies’ relationships. Hell, we all might play a part in each other’s relationships. Suddenly this class doesn’t seem as easy and simple as before.
“Your theory sounds right,” I groan. “Sadly.”
“Don’t sound so sad.” She kicks me in the leg. “This is the beginning stage. We haven’t really started yet. Save your sadness for future reference, Shan.”
“Don’t make it worse!”
Eventually, she helps me pick out an outfit to wear tonight, for my date with Clark: a black fitted t-shirt with jeans. I casually mention how James had helped me choose my outfit for my previous date when I notice Di’s royal blue eyes become alight with…something. “Did you notice how pissed he got at Clark Thursday?” she asks suddenly, leaning against the bathroom door as I straighten my hair using my wand.
“Yeah…I asked Fred about it, actually. He said James has issues with Clark trying to control people,” I answer slowly.
“Mmm, that makes sense. When you analyze Clark, James, and Fred and their personalities, Clark and Fred are most alike. I mean, they’re all alike, but Clark and James are the most different. Clark is somewhat controlling and idiotic while James is arrogant and idiotic.”
“Are you saying Clark isn’t arrogant?” I ask, laughing.
“Well, no. But when I think of his main flaws, his arrogance isn’t the first thing I think of.” I watch through the mirror as her eyes narrow thoughtfully. “He readily apologized for his actions the other day, didn’t he?”
“While James did accept his apology, he still acted stubborn and refused to eat and stormed off after class.”
I sigh. “Di, you’re reading too much into this.”
“You’re not reading enough into this, Shan.”
Finishing my hair, I set my wand down and start applying makeup. “I’m not reading into it because I don’t see anything worth reading into.”
“Because you’re so damn stubborn that you refuse to!” She cuts me off before I can retort. “Listen, this whole Life Studies program changes with us, get it? It’s meant to make us closer to whoever we’re partnered with. If you and James become close while you’re dating Clark, that’s going to cause ‘marital’ problems for our groups.” Di makes dramatic gestures in the air, her eyes wide. “Add fucking Fred into that and you’re a buffet.”
Pausing the application of my eyeshadow, I mull over what she just told me. It seems logical, reasonable, and I can’t stop myself from believing her. No matter how much I don’t want to. That’s the problem with Di; she’s always right because she always thinks things through.
I groan and turn to face her. “Look, what you’re saying sounds right. I have to give you that. But I do think you’re reading too much into the James-Clark fiasco.”
My best friend grins, happy to have won at least one argument, and shrugs. “Hey, suit yourself. I’ve always been right before, though, haven’t I?” she reminds me, as if I need to know.
Soon, Di leaves and I’m given time to myself before my date with Clark. I clean up the dorm, gathering my thoughts as I do so. Maybe I should start viewing Life Studies from an analytical point of view. It would (potentially) prefer me for what’s to come. But the thought of knowing what’s to come is what scares me, is what makes me block my mind to most of Di’s theories. I work much better not knowing. Besides, if I overthink – and I tend to do so when my imagination runs wild – I can’t stop. And I hate overthinking.
But what if what Di implied is true and something more is going to happen with Clark and James? And it would inevitably involve me. Things could certainly go that way, considering I’m in the process of dating Clark and am in a fake relationship with James thanks to Life Studies. Add Fred into the mix and, like Di said, I am a buffet.
I am not going to let Life Studies dictate my life – it’s a class I go to twice a week, for Merlin’s sake! It can’t have that much control over one’s life. I wonder how it’s effecting the other students…I’ll have to ask around. It’s a class and nothing more. It may be meant to change one’s life, but I’m stubborn and I’m not going to let that happen.
Sinking onto my bed, I can practically hear Di chastising me in my head, “Really, Shan? You’re gonna ignore the obvious? The class has already changed you. In a matter of weeks, you’ve become friends with James Potter and Fred Weasely. If that’s not enough proof, I dunno what is.”
With an indignant huff, I stand, grab the picnic basket with the food for tonight and leave the room.
“Look what I brought us,” Clark announces proudly, brandishing a bottle of fire whiskey.
I’m snuggled into my blanket beside him; he’s snuggled into his own. We just finished our small meal and I suppose Clark found it appropriate to share the booze now. “I’ve never drank that before,” I say awkwardly, eyeing the bottle as if had eight legs and four eyes.
He chuckles. “I figured as much.” He rises. “Besides, it’s not like we’re going to drink the whole bottle. We’ll just sip it.”
I shift nervously. “Yeah, you can sip. I think I’ll pass.”
“Are you worried we’ll get caught?” he asks before taking the first drink of the whiskey.
“Well, yeah. That and the fact that this is only our second date and I’ve already caused you to resort to drinking…”
Clark snorts and passes the bottle to me. “Relax, Shan. It’s not the real deal – it’s juice from the kitchens. The bottle was, uh, the only thing I had to put it in.”
Still suspicious, I tilt the bottle forward and sniff. Sure enough, the scent is sweet, yet not alcoholic. I take a cautious sip from it. “Okay, okay,” I laugh. “Thanks for giving me a scare.”
He holds his hands under his head and grins up at me. “No problem, love.”
Placing the bottle between us, I lie down. “What poor soul had to down a whole bottle of fire whiskey just to get me a bottle of juice?”
“The sixth year Gryffindors.”
“How noble of them. I’m sure they didn’t mind.”
“Nope, they didn’t.”
We’re quiet for a while. It’s peaceful, lying side-by-side, hearing nothing but the sounds of nature and the breathing to my right. The night is beautiful, especially the Lake. I could fall asleep out here easily. A breeze blows by and I instinctively curl into the blanket Clark brought for me.
“You cold?” Clark asks, opening his blanket, inviting me in.
I nod and, my heart racing, I accept his embrace, my head resting upon his arm. His other arm pulls me closer towards him, bringing our faces inches apart. Our eyes hold for a few moments before I lean forward, kissing him. He responds readily, his lips warm and inviting.
After a few moments, he pulls away. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” I ask, my voice throaty.
Much to my displeasure, he leans back completely. I rest on my elbow, peering down at him curiously. “For being an arse Thursday. I shouldn’t have acted so controlling. I should’ve let it go. And I was a complete tosser to James.”
“You already apologized.”
“I know,” he sighs.
I lie my head back onto his chest and he wraps his arm around my shoulders, squeezing me against him. “It’s just – I thought you were, I dunno, uncomfortable eating around everyone else and that was why you were refusing to eat. And that’s why I was pushy.” He chuckles. “It annoyed me when you kept refusing, so when James butted in I ju – “
“Clark, it’s okay,” I cut him off firmly, amused. “Just don’t do it again, okay? If I ever want something, know that I’ll get it myself.”
Clark grows silent, dropping the subject, thankfully. I’ve never seen Clark so earnest and distraught over something – all I’ve ever seen him act is arrogant, charming, and teasing. It’s new and unsettling. Thinking back to Thursday’s events brings a small detail of the day in mind.
“You called me your girlfriend Thursday,” I mention coyly.
He shifts beside me. “I did.”
“I don’t recall you asking me to be your girlfriend.”
“Ah, yes.” Suddenly, his head is above mine, his emerald eyes staring into mine. “Sooo, will you be my girlfriend?”
“Yes,” I answer, before bringing his lips down to mine.
The morning air is crisp, biting – the way I like it. It wakes me up. ‘Slaps me in the face’, so to speak. When I step onto the grounds in the morning and stretch to prepare myself for my morning run, the morning air gives me an extra boost. If it were not for that extra boost, I would probably pass out on the ground when stretching.
I pull my hood up, and then pull the strings tightly. When I get a little warm, I won’t have to worry about becoming cold. I jog down the grounds, pacing myself. I jog the length of the Black Lake, quickening my pace gradually and letting my hood fall in the process. Pace yourself, Shannon, I remind myself. Breathe. Don’t push yourself too hard. Take it easy.
The next time I come, I muse, I should bring Di. The mental image of my short, stout, sour best friend jogging at the crack of dawn is amusing. I’ve tried coercing her into eating healthier, but she’s stubborn. I remember her distinctly telling me that the only things she truly cared about in life were intelligence and loyalty. Can’t hate a girl for thinking like that.
When I feel like I’ve had enough (when I’m sweaty and it’s hard to breathe), I slow to a jog, then to a walk. My breathing goes back to normal quickly. This is good; I’m getting better. I walk towards the Quidditch pitch and notice two figures flying around. Today is the Gryffindor team’s try-outs! James and Fred must be here early to set things up. Why they decided to have try-outs this early, I don’t understand. Abuse of power, perhaps?
“Having fun?” I call, walking on the Pitch and feeling incredibly small. It’s huge.
They notice me and stop mid-flight, before flying downwards. “Someone’s an early bird,” James notes, shaking his head.
“You here for try-outs, Shan?” Fred asks, confused. He blinks a few times. The mornings don’t do him any favors mentally, I notice.
“Noo. I was just getting in my morning run,” I explain, suddenly aware that my appearance is probably proof of my previous activity. I run a hand through my hair helplessly, probably doing more harm than good in fixing the loose ponytail.
“Yeah, I saw you while I was flying,” James says, nodding. “You’re getting better.”
I raise my eyebrows. He’s seen me run before? That’s odd. If he thinks it’s odd, he doesn’t say or indicate anything, though. “Oh, uh, thanks,” I say. “Why’re you all holding try-outs so early, anyway? Isn’t it a little – extreme?”
Fred grins slowly, as if awakening with each passing minute. “Hey, gotta take the potential newbies down a notch somehow.”
“Yep. Build ‘em up, knock ‘em down,” James pipes in.
“That’s a bit extreme,” I laugh.
“Keep saying ‘extreme’, Shan; it awakens me more and more.”
“I’ll get right on that, Fred.” I smile slightly.
“I’d love to stay and chat, but I have co-captain duties to attend to.” Fred stretches and cracks his knuckles before turning to walk away. He flashes me a smile before he walks away. “See ya, Shan.”
James and I are left alone. For a moment, we stand in silence, with me looking at the ground and him looking at something interesting behind my shoulder. Finally, when I turn to walk away, he blurts, “I’m sorry.”
“No, I am.”
He groans, bringing his hand up to scratch his face nervously. “For…being a nosy tosser? For being stubborn? For…I dunno. I’m just sorry.”
His hazel eyes are pleading and a bit sheepish, like a boy awaiting his mother’s okay. It’s almost adorable. I grin. “It’s okay, James. Don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah. I was never angry with you anyway,” I admit, a little thrown off guard by his apology.
“Ohhh. Well, okay,” he says, breathing a sigh of relief, his hand falling from his face. His lips twitch into a grin and he pats my shoulder. “Make sure to tell me if Clark’s ever a git to you, okay? He usually listens considerably well to me.”
I snort and roll my eyes. “Don’t worry; I will.”
I walk to the castle, happy and energized, a broad smile on my face.
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