Chapter 2 : The Book
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“I swear, the manners—“
“I am a prefect, and I insist—“
“That was my foot, you—“
“Evie! Hey! Evie!”
I turn at the sound of my name, struggling to not be plowed over by the crowds of people trying to get to their next class. Peering through the sea of heads, I see Ellis waving at me. For a moment I think that he must be talking to someone else, for he is surely not talking to me, but then he waves again. I push my way over to where he is standing against the wall.
“Hey,” I say when I finally push through to where he is, shifting my bag up higher on my shoulder. He is wearing a grey sweater, and is clean shaven.
“Hey,” He says, smiling, and to my surprise, gives me a sideways hug. He smells clean.
He is with James and Fred, who grins cockily at me. James is looking down the hall, and scarcely acknowledges me. I assume he is looking for Emma.
“Did you guys make it back okay last night?” Ellis asks.
“Yeah, Hazel about gave us away when she decided to sing the entire--” I am saying distractedly, when someone bumps into me.
The klutz that I am, I lurch forward into James, pulling Ellis down in the process, the three of us landing in a heap on the ground. My face burns with embarrassment as I try to untangle myself from the mess of limbs and spilled books. James winces as he pushes himself up off the ground. Ellis laughs and helps me to my feet before we are stepped on by the passing stampede. Our bags have fallen, and a mess of quills, paper, and books are spilled across the floor.
Fred kneels to help us retrieve everything, and we hurriedly stuff things back into our bags.
“I’m so sorry,” I say to James, as he took most of the force when I fell.
“Not your fault,” he brushes off easily, stuffing his books back into his bag. I note that he looks extremely tired.
“Yeah, not her fault that she is exceptionally clumsy,” Fred says, and I slap his arm as Ellis laughs appreciatively.
“Here’s a quill,” Ellis says, bending to pick a quill I missed from the ground. I thank him, and realize I am going to be late if I don’t get going.
I have to hustle to make it to class on time. I arrive as the bell rings, and go to sit down between Hazel and Pearl.
It’s later when I find the notebook.
As I’m idly taking notes, I glance down to see a notebook peeking out of my bag. It has a dark blue canvas cover, and is fairly thick. My curiosity makes it even harder for me to focus on Binns’ monotone voice, and when the bell rings, I tell Hazel and Pearl to go on ahead. Unthinkingly, I go straight to one of my favorite places in the castle. In an unforgotten corridor, there is a statue of Athena, and behind her, a window with a wide, curving bench. I sit down, and yank the notebook from my bag, pulling it into my lap.
For some peculiar reason, I feel as if the notebook has some significance. After looking around to make certain that I am alone, I turn to the first page. Eyes wide, I sit on the bench for nearly twenty minutes, turning the pages slowly, delicately, amazedly.
It is a sketchbook.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but after looking through it, I feel—different. As if I have had a profound epiphany, but cannot quite put my finger on what it is.
What strikes me the most is not the beauty of the objects that were drawn, but how they were drawn; although the most ordinary things—a book on a table, a tree, the curved foot on the leg of a chair—the sketches bring beauty to objects that I otherwise would never have seen.
Looking through the sketchbook is like looking through a different lens, a lens where everything is beautiful in a purely aesthetic quality, where you can admire the beauty of something without your previous knowledge and connotations clouding and distorting your view. Perhaps my favorite is a portrait of a woman, although it is far from complete. It is a blurry, as if she were moving. She is looking away from the artist, almost at an angle that makes me wonder if she knew she was being drawn.
I am overwhelmed with curiosity. Who is it that sees the world like this—with every bit of space containing such beauty, every object teeming with such potential?
Standing and stuffing the book into my bag, I make my way to the library. My mind is reeling. When I arrive at the library, I look for Hazel and Pearl. They aren’t in any of our usual spots.
I am just making my way to one of the back corners of the library when I hear voices from the other side of a bookshelf. I sidle up to the bookshelf, and peer around the corner to see James and Fred sitting at a table.
It appears as if James has emptied his bag on the table. Quills, books, and spare pieces of parchment are spread across the table.
“It’s not there, mate.” Fred says lazily, looking over the top of a book he is reading. “And if you would tell me what it is that you’ve bloody lost, I might even help you look for it.”
“It’s just a notebook.” James says, frustratedly rifling through his bag. I suddenly feel like laughing. It just doesn’t make sense—James Potter, an artist? James Potter plays Quidditch, and practically already has a job position ready for him at the ministry. He isn’t sensitive. He isn’t artistic.
“Right.” Fred says. James either doesn’t hear his sarcasm, or chooses to ignore it. He sits back in his chair and swears. There is a clear look of defeat on his face.
Fred glances at his watch. “It’s already four—we have Quidditch in an hour.”
I realize that I too have Quidditch today, and that it started—right now. Trying to be stealthy, I turn away from the shelf and make my way back out of the library. I head hastily to the Quidditch pitch, trying in vain to not think about the book.
It’s later, and I am covered in mud.
It’s everywhere, and when I say everywhere, I legitimately mean it.
There is mud caked in my cleavage, for crying out loud.
“Whew,” Dom exclaims as we make our way to the changing rooms from the Quidditch pitch. Her usually platinum blonde hair is knotted and mud is clumped in her braid.
“I don’t know how Henry thinks that practically slaughtering us every practice is going to help us win anything,” I say, wiping some mud that has caked on my upper lip with the back of my hand.
“Why do we need to run laps again?” Hazel says annoyedly, “Has he forgotten that there actually isn’t any running involved in Quidditch?”
Pearl runs up the hill behind us, out of breath but perfectly clean in her school robes, clutching a book. Pearl comes and watches most of our practices. She claims the stands are a very peaceful place to read.
“You guys look awful,” She says, smiling in that bright way of hers.
“Mud is beneficial to the complexion, actually,” Hazel says loftily.
We are interrupted by Ellis, Nate, James, Fred, and Blake—another of the Gryffindor Quidditch clan—who are on their way down from the castle to the pitch for their practice. I can’t help myself from analyzing James’ face, but, like a mask, it gives away nothing.
“Decided to bathe in the mud, eh?” Fred says gleefully, ruffling Dom’s hair before she slaps him away.
“Apparently it’s good for the complexion,” I say. Ellis catches my eye, and he smiles.
“You look like pigs!” Fred exclaims, “Y’know, because pigs love mud, and they like to roll in it, so they’re always covered in mud…” Fred trails off into silence when he realizes that none of us know what he is talking about.
“It’s okay mate, we got it,” James says, patting Fred on the back. Ellis and Nate guffaw in that boyish way of theirs. Blake, who is shorter and rather freckled, chuckles rather awkwardly.
“Hey, Parker,” Ellis shouts at me as the two groups go our separate ways, “You planning on keeping my jacket forever?”
“Unless you say please!” I shout back at him, and he waves. My friends give me knowing smirks—except for Pearl, she just smiles—and go into the changing room. They head to the showers, and, having forgot to put it away, I head to the equipment shed to put away my broom. I have to reach onto my tiptoes to put my broom on its rack above my section of shelves.
“Hey, can we talk?” someone says behind me. Because my back is to the door, I squeak and practically fall over in my haste to spin around, only to face the golden robed figure of James Potter, black hair a wave of calculated messiness. His eyes glance at my mud-covered robes, a smirk springing to his lips.
“Can I help you?” I say. I can’t stop thinking about the sketchbook, and I am almost annoyed that someone as arrogant as James Potter is capable of creating such beauty. I don’t quite believe it.
He looks amused.
“Hmm, I rather thought it was the other way around.” He crosses his arms, and leans against the frame of the door to the shed.
“I suppose.” I say irritably, turning back to my shelf and placing my muddy arm guards next to my broom.
“Are you free Sunday afternoon?” He says.
“Yes,” I say irritably, turning around and crossing my arms.
“We could meet in the back corner of the library around four then,” he says, running a hand through his hair, “See if you’re really as rubbish at charms as Miller made you out to be.”
I am immediately annoyed.
“Okay,” I say, trying to suppress my irritation. I truly do need his help, and that annoys me even further. I suspect that he knows this. For a moment, I feel guilty about the sketchbook. I should give it back to him.
“Okay,” He says, as if confirming, and turns to leave. I somehow still feel like he’s laughing at me.
“Oh, one more thing,” he says, turning around, his hand resting on the frame of the door, “Is it okay if I tell Emma about this whole thing? She won’t tell anyone.”
It annoys me how he assumes that I know who Emma is. It annoys me even more that—of course—I do. And even have made an entire food analogy concerning her. But he need not know that.
“Okay,” I say again.
“Excellent,” he says, half-grinning at me, and then he spins, jogging away to the pitch.
“Blehrgh.” I say, but he is already gone.