Chapter 3 : Twenty Questions
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Disclaimer- I kind of forgot to put this in the other two chapters, so I’m doing it now! Anything you recognize from the Harry Potter universe (names, places, etc.) belongs to the amazing J.K. Rowling! All I own are my original characters. That’s it. Hope you enjoy!
Thanks so much to Caren @TDA for the lovely chapter image of James. :)
Well, this day was not at all what I expected it to be. I’d stormed out of the house in a huff, and went for a jog. It had nothing to do with trying to be in shape, like I needed help with that. I had to clear my thoughts. It’s not easy being the son of the hero of the wizarding world.
The memory of the fight with my Mum flashed back to me. She was getting on my case about being more serious with schoolwork, not to mention they’d heard the rumors about me and the girls around school. I wondered who’d told them that. Dom probably, on accident. It hadn’t been helping that I’d been acting like a God. I never helped with chores, or cleaned my room, and I mouthed off at dinner. Hogwarts had taught me that was ok, because I got away with it there.
I’m pretty sure my Mum hated me for the first few days after I got back from Hogwarts. She was usually pretty good at putting me in my place though. She was scary when she wanted to be and one proper look from her and I’d consent to doing pretty much whatever she asked me.
“James, you need to buck up and start acting more like an adult. You only have two years of school left!”
“Two years! That’s plenty of time.”
“No. No it’s not. You have to pick a career and start focusing on that.”
“I’m sixteen! What do I know about what career I want!”
“I don’t care what you do James Sirius, as long as you’re applying yourself and not acting like a little prat. Yes, James, I’m more than well aware of your reputation at school.” I blanched in horror. Ew, my mother did not need to know those things. “Your father didn’t risk his life over and over again so you could grow up to be an entitled teenager that doesn’t have to be responsible. You’re meant for better things James. I meant it. Buck up and start acting more like an adult.”
“I’m not an adult! I”m a teenager. I get to do whatever I want and act like a jerk because that’s what teenagers do. It’s how we learn! I didn’t ask for the family name and the upstanding reputation that came with. I’m not fighting an evil lord while in school, so I don’t have to be mature and save the world. I should get to goof off.”
My mother got the really scary look on her face. “Not under my roof you don’t.” She stared at me in the Nana Molly way, causing every cell in my body to scream in terror. She whirled around and left the room. I paced back and forth and then shot out the door, needing some fresh air.
My head was bent down, staring at my fingers, which were going white as I gripped the basin with all my strength. I raised my eyes. My reflection stared back at me through the steamed mirror. Slightly curly, dark messy hair inherited from the Potter side of the family? Check. Hazel eyes that showed a lot of mixed emotions? Check. The scar shaped like a banana on my jawbone, which was actually given to me by the girl in the other room when we were 5 years old? Check.
Who was I? James Sirius Potter, first born son of the famous Harry Potter. I stared at my reflection for a few more minutes before finally putting on the clothes Charlotte had left out for me. They weren't the best fitting, but it would do. An old pair of drawstring pants and clean white t-shirt.
When I walked out of the bathroom door, I saw that she had fallen asleep, again. She looked peaceful, for once. Hearing her laugh earlier was a major surprise. She was so… stoic. She kind of floated around school, never really integrating herself into anything.
Really, she was the kind of person you knew, but always kind of forgot you knew. It was hard to understand that now, and even harder to understand because I had known her. I kept staring at her, all while chiding myself for being creepy.
She was quite beautiful, and it hit me that I’d never really noticed before just how beautiful she was. Then again, I’d never really seen her up close like I had today, not in years. I watched her chest rising and falling slowly in the least perverted way possible. She really was something. The beautiful girl who, for whatever reason, hated to be at home. Maybe we have more in common than I realized.
I wondered, again, why I was so insistent on spending time with her tonight. She was home safe, and there was no real reason for me to stay. And yet, I wanted to. Maybe for old times sake, or maybe because I just needed something different. Or someone different, I thought, staring at her again.
Except for the parties we both attended because our parents made us, we never spent time together. We didn’t have classes together, and never ran in the same circles. It was especially odd because her best friend was one of my cousins. We lived separate lives, and they just happened to collide today. Staying here seemed better than going home, and I wasn’t entirely sure why I felt that way. Could I really prefer her surprisingly wonderful company over my family? My logical side and emotional side had a conversation.
Uh duh, that much is obvious.
She’s challenging for you in a way no one else, including your family, is.
Can you say you know any other girl like her? Have you found yourself wanting to play your normal games with her?
Fine, fair point.
She has no preconceived notions of who you are, except for the rumors around school. Does she seem like a girl that would make snap judgments about people?
You stayed because this gives you a chance to be different, to be yourself. There’s no risk. She does not know your friends, isn’t the type of person to spread rumors, or spill your secrets. You can let your guard down and not be hyper-vigilant about the mask you wear.
Ok, thank you for the help, now go away thoughts. I scowled into the mirror at the far end of her room.
Charlotte Gray was someone I had known since I was baby. She was technically older than me, as her birthday was around New Years and mine was in the summer. But since we were the only babies the same age in the area, my Mum and Charlotte’s Mum spent time at each other’s homes. According to my Mum, we actually were very close as babies, slept in the same crib, took baths together, the whole lot. I don’t remember any of this, but there are pictures, so it must be true. Up until we were 5 years old, we saw each other almost everyday. Then she basically moved to America with her Dad, only coming back here for brief periods of time.
She was very different as a kid, very spunky and outgoing. That changed sometime after she moved away. Our friendship never survived her move, but we saw each other once a year for the holidays and then started at Hogwarts. That might have been the beginning of a rekindled friendship had we ended up in the same house. We ended up in different houses though, and she had changed a lot between her move to America and her first day at Hogwarts. I knew her sisters better than I knew her. She even looked different from them. Her sisters, Ava and Harper, looked like they could be my siblings. Harper and Lily looked like twins.
Charlotte took after her mother, something I only realized tonight, having not seen her mother up close for a very long time. They had the same long, wavy dark brown hair and stunning pale gray eyes that looked like silver. Charlotte had a light dusting of freckles across her nose that you would only notice if you happened to be a few inches away. I’d say that’s where the similarities ended, but they didn’t.
They had the same body type and on the surface, had similar personalities- quiet, reserved and cool. However, Charlotte had some kind of inner fire that it was clear her mother lacked. For whatever reason, I felt like I should help fan the flame and bring it out. It wouldn’t hurt her to bring back the outgoing inner child that must be dying to get out. Now, I’m just staring at her while thinking crazy thoughts. Some part of me said I should write a note and just leave. Since I rarely listened to that voice though, I chose instead to lie down next to her on the bed. I dozed off too.
My normal behavior when waking up is to stretch every muscle possible. That is easy to do when you’re alone in the bed. I had almost forgotten where I was and remembered just in time. Charlotte had her head resting on my shoulder and had draped her arm across my stomach. She was very much curled up next to me, and I didn’t mind, which was very strange.
This wasn’t something I did. I didn’t cuddle. I’d never shared a bed with someone for this long. For the past two years, ever since I started hooking up with girls, that's all I cared about. I just cared about who I could make-out with and who would let me go all the way with them. It was like a game. I didn't want a girlfriend, I just wanted conquests. I felt disgusted with myself after, but still hadn't made a move to change that behavior. It hadn't felt normal, or right with anyone else. This, this somehow felt right.
For however much longer this completely innocent snuggle session lasted, I was going to just let it be. I took a deep breath, held it and then let it out slowly. That, of course, promptly woke Charlotte up. Fuck. She shifted and then yelped in pain, which made my heart skip a beat. As much as I tried to play the jerk, I did actually care about people. Well, some people. I felt, rather than saw her freeze. I hope she didn’t think I was trying to take advantage of her.
“We just fell asleep love.” Charlotte looked up at me and the look in her eyes was unreadable, which slightly scared me.
“You’re still here.” The way she said it broke a piece of my heart. She really was so stoic. I forgot why, but slowly bits and pieces of her sister's stories came back to me. She was the black sheep, and it must have been pretty hard on her. The way she'd said that, it was as if she was used to people leaving her. It seemed like a very sad connect the dots puzzle. She was the wisp because she learned not to be seen. That either meant that when she was seen, it was never good, or she learned to be the wisp to keep people away. I knew her family had problems, but was it really that bad? What had happened?
“I’m still here.” She smiled a slow, sad smile.
“James, I can’t thank you enough. As much as I enjoy your company, I’d rather not have your Mum come over here trying to kill me for keeping you out all night. Shouldn’t you go home?”
“I’ve already gotten word to them that I won’t be home. There’s nothing to worry about little Lottie.” My brother's owl had showed up, my mother wanting to know where I'd gotten to. I wrote back and told her I'd run into a friend that needed help and didn't know when I'd be home. I failed to mention I was with Charlotte. She'd freak out and start planning our wedding.
“You haven’t called me Lottie since I was 5.” She chuckled.
“And the ensuing argument gave me my banana scar!” She bit back a laugh.
“Sorry about that, 11 years too late.” Her slim fingers traced the scar and I’m not happy to admit that my heart did a little dance. Seriously? I’d never paid a lick of attention to this girl and now, after one evening, my emotions are going haywire. No, I am a man and this will not happen! Shut it down James. Shut it down. She mistook my silence and asked again if I wanted to go home.
“Seriously James, I’m not tired anymore. I’ll just sit up and read or something.”
“Well, I’m not tired either and if I go home I’ll wake everyone up. Besides, you can’t be trusted not to hurt yourself again, so if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather stay and keep an eye on you.” That was definitely a blush creeping across her face.
“Since I clearly can’t convince you to leave my side…” She swept her arms out, indicating (I think) that I should make myself at home. So I did exactly that.
“What time is it anyway?”
“It’s about one in the morning. I haven’t pulled a night this late since studying for OWLS.”
“And that’s why you’re a Ravenclaw. I barely studied for them.” That was a lie. I'd studided my ass off, but kept that under wraps. People didn't think I was smart, and I let them believe that.
I started walking around her room. After a few hours lying on the bed without moving, a body needed to loosen up. So I did what anyone would do, I snooped. It was obvious snooping, but still. Her room was almost as large as mine. There were definite perks to being a part of a wealthy family. Charlotte came from old money, on both sides of her family if memory served. She had a large dresser with silver picture frames all over it. I stared, looking for Charlotte in all of them.
“You’re snooping!” I picked a random picture up, and showed it to her. It was a tall, skinny kid with curly hair. He was holding a camera that obscured most of his face.
“That is Devin.”
“Do you need to know everything?” She said, laughing.
“Devin is an old family friend. His mom and my dad used to be really close, until he met my Mom anyway. Devin is practically a brother to me.”
“Do they know?”
“Magic? Hogwarts? All of that?”
“No, they do not. My Dad knows, obviously, but no one else does. Well except for my aunt and uncle, and that’s only because they’re Gia’s parents. My uncle and my Dad are brothers. Georgia gets her magical blood from her mothers side though, her Mum is my Mum's third cousin, once removed or something. Yea, I know... it's nice and complicated. Anyway when Georgia got accepted, they had to come explain it to her parents. My aunt had never shown any magical tendencies, and they didn't know it existed in the family. They were so upset when they found out.”
“Oh don’t act like you haven’t checked her out before. All the boys know Georgia.”
“Oh that Georgia! Fine. You found me out. Freddy dated her for all of two weeks back in 5th year.”
“Which means you probably asked her out before or after?” She smirked at me. I couldn’t lie. I forgot how much she knew about me, and how little I knew about her.
“After. Yea, yea, I never said I was an upstanding guy. She turned me down flat, but you probably already knew that.”
“She had her reasons.” I laughed and picked up another picture frame. It was an artistic sort of photo of a girl in a long, white dress standing in front of a long dirt lane that was bordered by tall, leafy tree. The girl was facing away from whoever was taking the picture.
“Yes. I have a friend that’s really into photography, and I modeled for her sometimes.”
“Are you going to ask me about every item in my room?”
“Well not with that attitude I won’t.” She laughed, and I resumed my walk around her room, twitching her curtains aside as I stood next to the window. It was a full moon out and I could see all the way across the valley. “Nice view, better than my room.”
“Well some people have some things that are better than yours.” Ok, that stung a little bit. I'm sure she didn't mean it that way, since I'm pretty sure I heard a laugh running underneath her warm tone.
“I wish people didn’t think of me like that.”
“Like I think I’m better than everyone. I don’t think that. I mean, I know I’m better than the kids in Death Eater families… but that’s their own family taint.”
“Not all the kids from Death Eater families are bad. That’s a blanket statement.”
“I see things as black and white.”
“Well, I don’t.”
“Whose such a nice Death Eater kid then?”
“He’s a tosser.”
“He’s not actually. He’s very unlike his father, from what I can tell.”
“How do you know? Have you met Draco? Cause my Uncle Ron hates him, so does my Dad.”
“So you’re going to carry their hate?”
“It’s not like that!”
“Scorpius and I became study buddies last year. He spends a lot of time in the library, like I do, and we just ended up talking a lot. He’s really very nice.” I had no way of knowing that she was thinking that my cousin, Rose, would agree with her.
“I still don’t like him.”
“Don’t like him then, just don’t make judgements if you don’t know him.” She snapped at me. I was sort of shocked that she was basically arguing with me. It seems I was right though, underneath that delicate exterior was a fire waiting to be kindled. I would never have expected this from her. I was so busy being shocked by her words that I didn’t realize it was now silent. Not a good kind- the awkward kind.
“So…” She just looked at me, wondering what I was going to say next.
“Want to play a game?” Really, that’s what you come up with brain? She looked as surprised as I sounded in my head.
“A game? What kind of game?” She smiled at me, her annoyance clearly gone.
“You know that game?”
“Harper and Lily play it all the time in the common room. I think they have their own version though.”
“Harper does indeed have her own version, and since that’s what you know, we’ll play that.” Charlotte looked amused that this is what her night was turning into. I wondered if she was as put off, though happy, as I was at the change from the norm.
“You know the game better than I do, you let me know.”
“You know the basic premise, yea?”
“I know that you ask me 20 Questions and I get to respond according to the question asked.”
“Correct. Would you like to make it more interesting?” Did she forget who she was talking to? I smirked at her.
“Ok then.” She grinned back at me, and then went into thinking mode. I resumed my snooping and walked over to her bookshelf. Which went all the way to the ceiling, and had an actual ladder attached. There were more books on 5 shelves than I had probably read in my entire life. And there were 15 shelves. Damn. No wonder she’s in Ravenclaw.
Not that that meant anything, my Aunt Hermione was the bookish type and she was in Gryffindor. Charlotte yelped behind me loudly and I immediately panicked thinking she had hurt herself, I practically tripped over myself trying to see if she was ok. Now I was just standing there while she was bent over laughing. Smooth James.
“Are you done now?”
“Sorry, that was cute.”
“I am not cute! That’s a girly word. I am masculine.”
“Yes, James, you are.” Was that a blush creeping across her cheeks, no, can’t be. “Ok I have some ideas, let me know what you think.”
“Let’s hear it then.”
“You pick 20 Questions and I’ll pick mine.” She looked at me, and I nodded in agreement. “You can ask whatever you want, just to keep it interesting, ask a variety of stupid and serious questions.” I nodded again. “We both get 2 chances to veto a question. And two chances to ask for the background story. Neither of us can ask the other the same question, or try a variation of the same question to get more information. Either use your 2 turns, or move on. Flip a coin to see who goes first?” I happened to have a Galleon in my pocket and pulled it out.
“Be prepared, I ask some truly ridiculous questions.” I said, grinning at her.
“Don’t just make them silly, make them serious.” Right, Ravenclaws take everything seriously.
“Ey- you don’t get to tell me what to ask.”
“Ok, ok. I call heads.” Tails, and I start first.
“Whenever you’re ready Captain.” She winked at me. She actually winked at me. Charlotte Gray, the shy girl that had almost as many books as the school library, just winked at me. Ok then.
“Give me a few minutes.” I started to think and got mildly annoyed when she kept whistling the same tune over and over again. “Would you knock that off?” She just chortled in response, but stayed quiet.
“Ok, I’ll start big. Do you know what your boggart would turn into?”
“Yes.” Interesting, I’ll have to find out what that is later.
“More important- do you like pudding?”
“Yes.” Another laugh, but this time she covered her mouth with her hand.
“Have you ever been so embarrassed you wanted to disappear?” She blushed, but didn’t
immediately veto it.
“Yes.” Another story to get for another time.
“Favorite class at Hogwarts?”
“DADA, easily. But I'm best at Potions and Herbology.”
“Those are very different classes.”
“Not so much, they’re both full of things trying to kill you.” She said it with a straight face and I laughed. She’s funny. Add that to the list of things I didn't know about her.
“What do you want to do when you graduate?”
“Healer, although maybe a journalist if I don’t get the marks.”
“First kiss.” Ok, that was definitely a blush.
“Aiden Evans.” He was now a year above us, in my house and would be starting his final year. He'd been the Captain before me, but gave up the position to focus on school. Not many people did that.
“So you like Quidditch players?” That could bode well for me. I told my brain to shut up.
“That was a question you just used up.” Or not. “And no, he was the only one.” Oh. Bollocks.
“Would you rather be stranded on an island with your parents or a complete stranger?” She barely let me finish before answering. “Stranger.”
“Explain, I want an answer to that one.”
“So you want to use one of your chances to get the story.”
“Fess up Gray, I want to know why.”
“I don’t get along with my parents, and they don’t get along with me.” If she thought she was getting out of this, she wasn’t. I stared at her until she continued, after huffing at me.
“I was an accident. I wasn’t supposed to be born and I think that it happened when my parents were about to split, so I’ve always felt that my mom resented me for keeping her trapped in a failed marriage. My Dad never really bonded with me the same way he bonded with Ava and Harper, they are the lights for him. I’m not the light for anyone. I’m the black sheep of the family, I don’t fit in. My Mum walks around like a ghost and my Dad sees me and thinks of my Mum, because I look so much like her. I always have. So yea, I’d prefer a complete stranger, ok? Next question.” She threw her hands up, and I could tell she was trying to pretend that she was strong about this. There was clearly a lot more to the story.
“Who’s your favorite book character?” Ok, thank God, that brought a smile back to her face.
“Samwise Gamgee.” He was from that trilogy about the evil ring and volcano or something. I think. I didn't want to sound stupid, so I didn't ask her.
“What part of the world do you most want to see?”
“That’s right around the corner, seriously?” She just shrugged.
“Ok, so you’ve kissed Aidan Evans, have you ever gone all the way?”
“Pass. Next.” So that either meant she had, or she hadn’t and was embarrassed.
“Least favorite teacher at school?”
“Professor Mathilda.” We both made the same face. “You hate her too?”
“Can’t stand her. I’ve never liked Divination though. I’m so relieved to be able to give that up!” We both laughed and then lapsed into another round of silence while I thought of more questions. She hummed that same tune again, smirking at me the whole time.
“Have you ever gotten drunk?”
“You surprise me Ms. Gray." She grinned at me, and took a sip of water. "Favorite flower?”
“If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?” Charlotte looked like she didn’t want to answer.
“I have to pick just one?”
“I wish I was more like my sisters.” There was a way she said it, an inflection in her voice, as if it hurt her to say that.
“Last time you get to use that.” She was deflecting. I stared at her.
“It’s simple really- my sisters have everyone’s attention, I don’t. Not that I want to be the center of attention, I just wish I wasn’t ignored so much and that people loved me like they love them. That’s all.” I’ll have to contemplate that later, it made me sad. Charlotte deserved attention.
“Favorite Muggle movie?”
“Seriously? That's a littel kids movie!”
"I know, but it's still my favorite. I mean, the minions! How can you not love them?" She smiled.
"I've never seen it, I just know it's a little kids movie."
"I don't know if I want to talk to you anymore." Ok, yes that was her telling a joke. I forgot she knew how to be funny. She was funny, I chided myself. Humor isn't something you turn on and off. You either have it or you don't.
“Least favorite food.”
“Peas, I think they’re revolting.”
“You’re a very strange woman. Would you ever use an Unforgivable Curse?”
“Only if I had no other choice, and I mean, no other choice. I hope I'm never in that situation.” She shuddered at a thought that must have passed through her head.
“Have you ever had your heart broken?”
“You’re awfully interested in my love life.” She looked at me questioningly before saying no, she’d never had her heart broken.
“Last question Potter.” I made sure my face looked blank and unassuming before asking my next question. She thought it was going to be super serious, and was worried because she’s used up both of her passes.
“You have to pick one state in the United States to get rid of, what would it be?” Charlotte froze for a few seconds, taken completely by surprise before she bent over laughing.
“How can you ask me that? That’s ridiculous.”
“I know, and you used up your passes. Fess up! What’ll it be?”
“Florida.” She didn't hesitate on that one.
“Charlotte! What have you got against Florida? I’m sure it’s a nice little state that did nothing wrong. Honestly woman, that’s just wrong.”
“I don’t have to! You used up your 2 passes asking me for more information!”
“Explain anyway! Your turns over, it won’t hurt you.”
“Fine, I went there for a funeral once, during the summer, and I hated it. Nothing against the people, or the state. We were in the middle of a family tour of all 50 states before I started at Hogwarts, and Florida was the only one I didn’t really like. Both because I associate it with the funeral, and it was way too hot. Ok? Happy now?”
“Yes. Very telling answers Ms. Gray. You’re quite a complex person.”
“Alright Ms. Gray... my turn. Not many people get a chance to ask me whatever they want. Better make it good." I leaned against her dresser and smirked at her.
“Give me a few minutes, geez.”
“I’ll wait over, here, patiently.” I flopped down into a chair sitting near her bed and laid my head back, waiting. What would she ask me? I should be a bit worried, she’s a Ravenclaw and definitely smarter than me. She could totally maneuver me into using my passes early and then ask really good (or bad) questions. This should be fun. Or completely terrifying.
A/N- this has gone through an edit as of April 14th 2014. Anything you see after this that doesn't have an update on the editing process is something that I'm working on.
A/N- Hi all! I’m having a ton of fun writing these characters, and I hope that so far, you are enjoying reading and want to continue to read. This is the obligatory request for reviews- so please help a girl out. J I’d love to know what you think so far! And if you are reading, thanks so much. It’s so strange to know that other people are reading the story that has literally taken over my entire brain. Seriously, I haven’t done much else but write since the idea popped into my head- which means I have lots of material- which means hopefully no writers block! Yay! Rambling over- have a wonderful day/evening and please, please review. Thank you!
Credit to J.R.R Toliken for creating the character of Samwise Gamgee (in the Lord of the Rings book trilogy)
Despicable Me is an animated movie that was released by Universal. I don't own either.
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