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Chapter 12 : Run, Rest, Recover, Repeat
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I could not have been more wrong. There is literally not one conceivable scenario in which I could have predicted anything less accurate than maybe tomorrow won’t be so bad.
As soon as I started running, my lungs shrunk to the size of grapes and my throat all but refused to take in oxygen, not to mention the stabbing pains in my ankles and knees. The green grass and cool breeze turned into a harsh desert and a hot wind, and now I find myself sprawled out on the grass right outside the main entrance to the castle, borderline hyperventilating. James is standing over me, looking as though he’s torn between starting CPR and running to find someone who will. I’m sure that anyone who might be watching us would be finding it all absolutely, side-splittingly hilarious, but I’m in so much pain that I can’t fully appreciate the humour of the situation.
“You said-” gasp, “it would-” gasp, “get easier,” I rasp.
“Did I?” James asks, his eyebrows pulling together. I roll my eyes.
“Help me up,” I say, holding my hands out to him. He ignores them, however, and opts with I’ll just use my inhuman strength to lift her right off the ground and carry her into the castle.
“You’re carrying me.” I start to panic, flailing my arms around in the hope that he’ll put me down.
“You can’t walk.”
“You didn’t let me try.”
We both remain silent for a minute as he continues to carry me toward the common room. Bridal style. It’s degrading, really.
“Okay. Put me down,” I say decisively.
“We’re already half way.”
I just know he won’t give in and I think if I jumped from his arms I would probably end up with a broken arm, so I huff out a defeated sigh.
“For the record, I don’t agree with this,” I mutter lamely and he laughs. “Seriously,” I go on, “If I thought I had enough strength to hex you, I wouldn’t hesitate.”
He laughs again and I sigh because he looks really good from this angle. Gah.
When we finally arrive in the common room James lowers me onto the couch and I thank God we didn’t see anyone on our way up. That would have been difficult to explain.
“Harmony, why is James carrying you like that?”
“Because I think I might be having some kind of stroke right now.”
“No, it’s because she loves it.”
“Shut up, James. I’m having a stroke.”
“You’re just saying that so I won’t put you down.”
“I am not. Don’t walk away innocent passerby, I’m dying here!”
“Don’t pretend like you’re not enjoying this.”
“Dying! Dying, James!”
“How did you get this unfit anyway?”
“It’s because all I do is read. I’m a nerd, not an athlete. Just let me be a nerd.”
James clears his throat and I’m distracted from the horrific daydream.
“Well, I’m going to shower,” he says. He’s still kind of hovering over me and I wish he wouldn’t because I’m embarrassed enough as it is. “If you need some kind of medical help, just shout really loudly.” I roll my eyes as he runs up toward the bathroom.
I sit up, groaning as the pain skyrockets, and dig the bases of my palms into my eyes.
“I need to learn how to knit.”
As painful as it is, I drag myself through the day, feeling the full effects of this morning’s run with each step I take. James keeps asking me - loudly and in front of people - if I have some genetic heart disorder, and I refuse to laugh at his lame attempts at humour. Honestly, it stopped being funny the third time he said it and he totally crossed a line when he told his various family members and friends to be prepared for a situation in which I might inexplicably collapse.
I manage to get all of my homework done before dinner, at which time April falls into the seat opposite me and immediately engages me in a conversation about the surprise party she and Fred are organising for James next month.
“It’ll be in the Room, of course,” she says. “Fred and I have written up a rough list of people to invite and so far we’re at, like, three hundred and fifty. So obviously we need to cut that down some.”
“Yeah,” I say, shocked. “Obviously.”
Seriously, though. Does James actually have three hundred and fifty friends? That’s like… a small village.
“And we’re thinking of having a theme, like, I don’t know, the eighties, or something. Would that be weird?” I raise an eyebrow.
“The eighties? Yes,” I tell her flatly. “That would be weird.”
“Yeah, that’s what Fred thinks. But I don’t know, maybe it would be fun, you know? For everyone to dress up and all.”
I nod, thinking.
“Well, if you could come up with something a little less… fluorescent,” I muse. Suddenly Fred slides into the seat next to me and leans forward conspiratorially, capturing my attention immediately. I don’t even have time to recall the exact moment Fred and I reached speaking terms before he starts speaking, so I figure I’ll just run with it.
“Right,” he says. “So far Dom, Al, Dart, Lily, Rosie, you and I are the only people who know about the party.”
“Won’t he figure it out?” I interject. “I mean, won’t he sort of be expecting this?”
“No,” Fred replies confidently. “He’s said all year that he just wants a quiet one with the family for the big one seven, so he thinks we’re just going to have dinner at Hogsmeade or something.”
Well, damn. I would never have picked James as the quiet one with the family type.
“Oh, and you’re in, right?” April asks. “I mean, you’re at the top of the list; I just assumed you’d be there for sure.”
“Well, yeah,” I reply. “Yeah, I’ll be there.” Assuming that there isn’t some obscure theme that would require me to dress up as a mutant, but I think that goes without saying.
“Course she will,” Fred laughs, nudging me with his elbow. “Went to Freddie’s famous start of term and everything. Wouldn’t miss Jimmy’s party, would you?”
“I suppose not,” I say simply, not rising to his bait. “Do you always talk about yourself in the third person?”
He doesn’t answer because we’re interrupted by a loud scuffle across the room at the Slytherin table. We look over in time to see Albus storming from the Hall, his shoulders hunched over, glowering at everything as he leaves. James appears out of nowhere and places his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder but Al shoves him away, mutters something we can’t hear, and doesn’t look back on his way out. James jogs after him.
“Shit,” April breathes. I follow her gaze to where Al was sitting just thirty seconds ago. Of course, it’s impossible to see exactly what’s going on from this distance, but it looks as though Scorpius is absolutely ripping into the girl sitting next to him. He’s talking at her so fast, waving his arms around occasionally and successfully attracting the attention of most of the students in the Hall, even though only the people sitting close to them have a hope of hearing anything.
The girl sits there and takes it, her lips pursed and her brow furrowed, until another guy grabs Scorp’s arm and pulls him up, dragging him away from the table. At this point the girl, whose name I don’t know, points at Scorp and snaps something that makes him lunge forward like he actually wants to tear her throat out with his teeth, but the other boy hauls him back and walks him out of the Hall. There’s a long moment of very heavy silence before everyone starts talking again.
“Who is that?” I ask Fred quietly, my eyes glued to the girl.
“Sarah Hawthorne,” he murmurs, his voice as low as mine as he frowns at her. She looks furious; I can practically see a vein jumping in her forehead. “Al’s girlfriend. A right bitch if you ask… well, if you ask anyone.”
Based on my knowledge and understanding of Albus Potter, this doesn’t really fit. He strikes me as a genuinely good person, though somewhat overly boisterous at times. Why he would want to go out with this girl is beyond me. I stare at this Sarah character for a while longer, contemplating the peculiar ways of people, then shake my head clear and push back from the table.
“I’m going to turn in early,” I tell April and Fred. “Keep me posted about the party.” They nod and smile and I leave them, heading straight to the common room. My thoughts are stuck with Al and Scorp and Sarah because I can’t help but worry that there is something wrong and even though they couldn’t really be considered my friends, but in the last couple of weeks we’ve become acquainted and it’s triggering all sorts of weird emotions from me. Of course, it isn’t my place to speculate, so I try not to.
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