Chapter 20 : Jacqueline
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I increased my pace, head bowed down and clinging tightly to my book bag so not to lose anything on my way. My hair was in a state of disarray, my clothes crumpled and I was occasionally tripping over my own feet in my determination to escape quickly. My chest was heaving with strain and effort and I couldn’t help feeling as if I wasn’t in complete control of my body, randomly knocking over, tripping over or ‘accidentally’ shoving things out of the way. First years ran quickly from under my feet, while seventh year tossers held their hands up in mock surrender as they backed away, smirks alight on their faces. My scowl deepened as my intense super natural ninja hearing picked up the sonic waves of hurried steps behind me. Why couldn’t she just leave me alone?
“Gosh. I’ve been running after you for ages, didn’t you hear me call out?”
“Nope,” I replied popping the ‘p’, “Sorry, but I don’t really have time for a chat right now, catch up with you later.”
I waved unenthusiastically and made to turn around, slipping slightly on my untied shoelace.
“Wait!” she almost screamed, latching onto my wrist once more and spinning me around to face her.
She attempted a smile again and I grimaced back unhappy with my position in life at that moment. Sonia or Debbie or whatever the hell her name was had me trapped in her surprisingly iron grip and I could not deal with her inane happiness right then. I couldn’t deal with her inane happiness any time really. And not just because her happiness was mostly due to Potter, it was irritating god damn it! Irritating. She was looking flustered, maybe even more so then me, her breath was coming out in heavy pants her face turned a blotchy red. She was blowing hair out of her sweat slicked face and the hand that encircled my arm was slightly damp as well. Ew.
“Listen, I was thinking we could walk down to breakfast together. Catch up.”
She gestured for me to move forward with her and then tugged on my arm just to make sure I did. The small crowd that had gathered around us expecting confrontation had slowly begun to disperse and so we were left mostly alone to walk towards the great hall.
“So…” she began cheerfully waiting for me to continue for her.
I scanned the area for potential escape routes.
“I know this is kind of awkward for you but I just wanted to let you know that I know about your crush on James.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She raised an eyebrow and giggled girlishly at me. I rolled my eyes. I knew she didn’t believe me, no one did. Over the past few weeks it had become apparent to pretty much everyone in the grade that I had a teeny weeny itty bitty crush on Potter. Well it had become apparent to everyone except the idiot himself. Potter preferred instead to spend all of his time with his new toy, Cassie or Louise or whatever her name was.
“I’ve seen the way you look at him Ivy and I understand because I feel the same way about him as you do. That’s why I think we need to talk about this.”
She attempted an encouraging smile that I promptly ignored in favour of staring at my shoes.
“Listen. I feel so embarrassed about even having to have this conversation and I don’t want to seem offensive or insulting or just plain mean because honestly that’s the last thing I am, it’s just well I really like James and I think he might like me too.”
A pretty blush spread across her cheeks at this and she struggled to hide her smile.
“I’m sorry but why are you telling me this?”
“I want us to be friends. I know it must be hard for you but I really like you and I’d like to count you as one of my friends.”
“You really like me?”
“Well yeah. James is always going on and on about you. You’re one of his best friends so I thought I’d try being your friend too. If you’d let me.” She glanced down to the floor, suddenly shy.
“Of course. I’d be happy to.”
I hope you drown in a pool of your own blood.
Fred laughed while Michelle rolled her eyes derisively.
“You’re an idiot.”
I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly and swiped the slice of toast from her plate.
a. Throw things at the wall or,
b. Curl into the fetal position and cry
when I saw something that really drove me to my breaking point.
“Ivy, I swear I can explain,” his voice was thick with emotion, “”It’s not what it looks like, it’s just been so long since we last saw each other but I’m not cheating on you.”
I rolled my eyes, “No, you’re not because we aren’t dating!”
I stomped past him and down the length of the corridor but he continued to chase.
“Ivy, please stop! I know you’re angry but it’s that bloody James Potter who caused this. Every time I tried to get near you this year he was always there! He threatened me!”
I turned to face him, “Did he really?”
I couldn’t help the flush that erupted across my cheeks and the giddy happiness I was feeling at the thought that Potter had been trying to protect me from this stupid prick. But then I remembered that I could take care of myself and I was angrier than before. Stupid prat thinks he can treat me like a small child or a damsel in distress. I was ready to kill him.
Derek took this the wrong way and proceeded to take my hand in his. His were slick with sweat and his nails dug into my skin in his desperation, “I know Ivy, I know. He tried to part us but not any longer! Now that I know for sure you love me I will never let him or anyone else part us.”
I promptly slapped him in the face and he loosened his hold on my arm, “Stay away from me, psycho!”
I fled down the hallways but he wouldn’t leave me alone, he chased. He yelled my name and grabbed at me from behind but I was far too determined to find Potter and kill him for trying to protect me to even care in the slightest.
“Alright. What the hell is going on?”
Derek cowered upon the sight of Potter’s glare and I thought for a moment that he might have wet himself. I was about to smile gratefully up at him when I realised that I was angry.
“What the hell is going on? I’ll tell you what the hell is going on! You’ve been threatening Derek, telling him to keep away from me! Explain yourself.”
Potter’s eyes widened and he took a step back, hands raised in surrender, “Well sorry, I didn’t know you still felt that way about the prick.”
He went to walk away, leaving me in his wake with a confused expression alight on my features. He had progressed halfway down the corridor when I finally worked out what he was trying to say.
“Wait what? Gross, no.”
The expression on my face resembled that of someone who had just swilled curdled milk. Upon seeing this I couldn’t help but notice the brief, entirely too-happy smirk Potter sent in Derek’s direction.
“Well, what’s your problem then? I was helping you.”
“Exactly. I don’t need your protection Potter.” I spat his last name, waving a finger in his face for effect.
He raised an eyebrow, expression masked coolly, “We’re back to last names then are we Hardwick.”
“Damn right we are, tosspot.”
“You know, a simple ‘thank you’ would suffice.”
“I’m not a child I can protect myself! I’m not your little bloody toy like Meaghan!”
“Who the bloody hell is Meaghan?”
“Oh, you know Beatrice or whatever…”
I trailed off into an awkward silence, waving my hands distractedly.
“You mean my Jacqueline.”
“Yes. That one! I knew it started with a ‘J’ or something.”
“Y-you don’t know my name?”
The voice came out of nowhere, small and fragile and, dare I admit it, slightly heartbreaking. Jacqueline had appeared from the classroom Potter had previously inhabited. She looked as if she was about to cry.
“Well…um. It’s got so many letters, I’m an idiot I can’t remember things that long.”
I attempted to explain myself unsuccessfully.
“I just wanted to be your friend and you think I’m just some toy.”
She fled from the hall making me feel like officially the worst person in the history of ever.
“Do not follow me.” I demanded of Derek as I began to run after her, gesticulating wildly in a similar manner to what Derek had done before.
“Julia- I mean Jacqueline, wait!”
It was all to no avail, I could not find her and the heavy breathing and hurried footsteps behind me alerted me to the fact that Derek had not listened to my command.
“For Merlin’s sake! I told you not to follow me.” I half-screamed, almost tearing my hair out in frustration as I swivelled to face… Potter. Damn it.
“Look what you’ve done. I mean, honestly, what is your problem? She’s a nice young girl who just happens to be my friend. Am I not allowed any of them anymore.”
“Jesus! I forgot her name, give me a break.”
We stood for what seemed like an eternity in silence, bodies so close we almost touched. He loomed over me and I could feel his breath fanning over my face. It had been a long time since we had fought so intensely but in my current state (aka. crushing on Potter) the proximity made me feel anything but angry. In the time it took for me to get myself together my mind came to an impossibly horrible realisation.
“Wait, why were you two alone in an empty classroom? Together. At this time of night.”
He was silent and I stepped back, aghast.
“Oh my God! You’ve been snogging her.” I felt like crying.
I ran a hand through my hair and stared at the ground, shaking my head. I removed my other hand from my shocked mouth in order to point accusingly at him.
“You said you were ‘just friends’ you complete and utter prat! You stupid liar. You’re supposed to be my friend; you’re supposed to tell me these things. Christ, we’ve barely even talked these past few weeks.”
He grabbed my wrist and pulled me closer to him.
“Stop being an idiot Hardwick. I’m tutoring her, not snogging her.” He was glaring down at me, an intense surging anger in his eyes. I hit weakly at his chest.
“Bull. Don’t touch me you stupid liar.”
“Why do you care so much anyway?”
He threw his hands up in a frenzied anger but as the silence drew out it was slowly replaced by genuine confusion. I opened and closed my mouth attempting to find the right words and staring at anything but him.
“I-I don’t.” I finally stated pitifully.
“Ivy?” he stared at me searchingly.
I finally met his eyes, my own wide and frightened. He couldn’t know.
“I said: I don’t.” I spoke more firmly this time, “Not anymore. Prat.”
I turned to leave but his shout reached me halfway across the corridor. “Stop running away.”
I kept walking.
“I’m not Derek; I’m not going to chase you.”
“We need to stop,” he finally stated, pushing a strand of hair out of my face, “We can’t do this.”
I glanced sullenly back up at him, “Why not?”
“Because Meaghan-I mean Jacqueline- asked me to go on a Hogsmeade date with her.”
“And you said yes.”
“And I said yes.”
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