Chapter 3 : Merging Groups
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“Huh?” The red-head finally manages to drag her big blue eyes away from Scorpius, sitting with Lars across the room from us, and over to me. I roll my eyes. She really can be pathetic sometimes.
But that’s what I’m aiming to fix.
“Do you all want to come with Clark and me to the lake after classes? First Friday of the year, we thought we’d celebrate.”
“Um...” Rose hesitates, her eyes flitting to Serra and Rob, at the table to the right of us. Their heads are smushed together as they both frown over their potion, trying to figure out why it’s murky brown instead of the light silvery-grey that mine and Rose’s is. I know why Rose is staring at them; hint, it’s not because they added too many porcupine quills to their Draught of Peace.
See, Serra and Rob have always been a bit scared of my older, rather bitchy best friend. Add that to the fact that quiet Ana has never so much as spoken to Clark, and I can see why Rose is hesitant to let the group she heads hang out with me and my best friend.
“Grant and them will be there,” I say offhandedly. Rose perks up immediately. Being Scorp’s unofficial stalker, of course she knows who his best friends are, and knows that when I say ‘Grant and them,’ I’m referring to the love of her life.
“So will we,” she says decisively, then raises her hand so the passing Slughorn can check our potion.
It’s perfect, of course; my brains combined with Rose’s meticulousness mean we have never botched a potion in the whole- um, week- we’ve been working together.
“Oi! Lars!” I whistle sharply, and the extremely tan, dark-haired boy twists around in his seat right next to Scorp’s to look at me questioningly. I give him a thumbs up, and he grins with excitement. He is just as enthusiastic about getting Rose and Scorpius together as Clark and me. I smile back, and Lars winks suggestively. I roll my eyes. The boy is always flirting with me, although he knows nothing is ever going to happen between us. Then again, what do you expect from the biggest flirt in our year?
I turn back to Rose and flinch noticeably when I find her glaring at me.
“You planned that, didn’t you?” she accuses. “It’s all part of your big scheme to set me up with Scorpius!”
I pause for a second, evaluating my options, before deciding to respond with a simple,
Rose glares at me for a second, but the right side of her lip soon quirks into a half-smile. She just can’t help it, where Scorp is concerned.
“Anytime,” I grin at my friend, flashing my eyebrows suggestively. She rolls her eyes, a bad habit I like to think she learned from me.
“Mind if I invite my cousin?” she asks, a sly smile on her face. Assuming she means Lily, who, though two years younger than us, Rose is constantly hanging out with, I shrug my assent. I’ve spent a fair bit of time with Lily and Rose’s brother Hugo, and they’re a good sort. Yes, Lily is the Seeker and Hugo a Beater on the Gryffindor quidditch team, meaning I automatically hate them, but at the same time we get along. Clark, though, not so much. But she’ll probably be so distracted by Peter’s renewed attempts to ‘woo’ her that she won’t even notice.
“Speaking of, who’s the Gryffindor team captain this year?” I ask innocently.
“Gathering intel, are we?” Rose raises an eyebrow at me. “I assume Clark is still captain, then?”
“Of course,” I say, my voice suggesting that the fact should be painfully obvious. Clark may not be a people person, but she is a fantastic captain and an even better Keeper.
Yes, the team hates her a little bit, but they had won the Quidditch Cup last year because of her, so they couldn’t really complain.
“James is the captain this year.”
I groan. Of course he is. Should’ve guessed.
“Hey, what’s wrong with that? James’ll make a great captain!” Rose protests in defense of her cousin.
“It was hard enough to be half-friends with him when he was just on the team,” I point out. “Now that he and Clark are both captains, I’m going to spend half the year trying to keep them from ripping each other to pieces!”
Rose snorts, but gives me a sympathetic glance. She’s always good for things like that. Yes, sometimes she acts like a lovestruck idiot, but she’s a smart, kind, empathetic person down deep. Actually, not too down deep. Anyone with eyes can see it.
One of the reasons I want her to be with one of my pseudo-brothers.
And she will be, if I have anything to do with it.
“We’re here, the party can start now!” Grant announces, slinging an arm familiarly around my shoulder. Scorpius snorts, Lars laughs, and Peter ogles Clark, who gives him a withering glare.
“Well, I for one am still waiting on our other guests,” I say, wiggling out from under my friend’s arm and nodding up the hill a bit, where Rose and her friends are making their way down here. Grant’s mouth falls open at the sight of Ana, as does Lars’s. Peter is still staring at Clark, and Scorp is determinedly looking away. I narrow my eyes at him, and he gives me a knowing look. He’s not an idiot. He knows that Clark, Lars, and I have been trying to set him up with Rose forever. But he doesn’t know that she’s practically in love with him, and he has never said that he doesn’t like her, so he’s not allowed to complain.
The girls look beautiful, even in our not-very-imaginative uniforms. Ana is perfectly coiffed, her blond hair stick-straight, her narrow blue eyes glowing underneath smoky eyeliner. Her plump pink lips are shut tight, though, even as Rose and Serra burst into laughter, Rob chuckling along with them. Rose is a bit messier than Ana, though not nearly as bad as me; her reddish orange hair is loose and wavy, and she wears no makeup except some mascara to emphasize her light blue eyes. Her uniform is a little too loose on her slight frame, but her joyful smile when she sees Scorpius gives her more than enough beauty to make up for it. I want to kick his ass. Why would any guy say no to her, especially when she is so obviously into him?
And how the hell could he be so oblivious to her love?
Serra and Rob look as they always do, cute and almost sickeningly in love. My stomach turns a bit at the sight of them.
“Hey, Jack!” Rose greets me as they approach, and turns her million-watt flirtatious smile directly on Scorp. Grant eyes him with more than a bit of envy, but Scorp just gives her a small nod and mumbles something about going to rescue Peter from himself.
“Drink, Rose?” I offer before she starts to cry, gesturing at the large picnic table I conjured, set up with drinks Clark snuck in and snacks we smuggled from the kitchens.
“Please,” she says, sitting down with a huff and immediately grabbing a beer. Grant sits next to her, smiling. I roll my eyes.
That’s never going to happen.
“Oh, hey Serra, is Lily going to get here soon? ‘Cause I should run into the kitchen and get some drinks for her. Forgot she was so young...” I mutter to myself. Lily, with her bright personality and a fondness for mischief that she’d learned from her eldest brother, often seems older than her age.
“Lily? What are you talking about?” Serra furrows her brow, confused.
“Oh!” I’m surprised; I would have thought Rose would’ve told me if Lily couldn’t make it. “Can she not come?”
“Rose didn’t invite Lily,” Rob says slowly.
“But she said she was going to invite her cousin, so I just assumed...” I trailed off. Oh no. I could see where this was headed. Besides Lily, Rose’s favorite cousins were...
“She invited James and Fred, didn’t she.” I don’t say it like a question. Serra and Rob nod, eyeing my expression warily. I grit my teeth.
“Marshall is coming too,” Rob murmurs vaguely, still fixed on my every tiny facial twitch.
Of course he is. The boy would never miss a chance to attempt to hit on Ana. Speaking of, I still need to talk to her about that. Should I do it now? I mean, she’s standing right there... but if I talked to her before he did, it might make it awkward. Then again, it would be even more awkward if he thought I talked to her and I really didn’t...
Shut it, brain.
“You guys have beer? Awesome!” Fuck you, Fred. We didn’t smuggle in alcohol just for you.
“Stop.” I hold up a hand and block the progress of the three boys, who have just miraculously appeared in front of me. Damn James’s invisibility cloak to hell. They probably got a kick out of my face when I figured out they’d been invited.
“You all have to say it.”
“But Jaa-aack,” Marshall whines piteously. I turn my sharp green eyes on him, daring him to argue.
“All right,” he mutters meekly. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“Yeah, me too!” Fred exclaims, eyes roving over the food-filled picnic table. “Cross my heart and hope to die, all I want is apple pie!”
Everyone in earshot groans.
I put down my hand and allow the two of them to pass, but when James walks by I grab his arm in a vice-like grip.
“You’ve gotta say it!” I point out, looking him in the eyes. He sighs and makes a face.
“I’m not the biggest fan of beer, though.”
“We’ve got fifty-year-old Scotch,” I say, knowing that his weakness for the drink rivals my own.
“Cross my heart and hope to die!” James makes a beeline for the fancy alcohol.
“Boys,” a light alto voice sighs quietly. I turn and look at Ana in surprise. She generally doesn’t talk.
“Right?” I agree, not knowing what else to say. Oh yeah.
I’m supposed to talk up Marshall.
“Thompson, though, he’s a good sort.”
Ana turns her delicate smile on me.
“He is, isn’t he? Doesn’t talk much, though.”
Yeah, ‘cause he’s ridiculously head-over-heels in love with you. So are half the guys in school, by the way, the half that aren’t in love with Clark.
“Well I for one prefer that to Fred and James’s incessant babbling.”
“I think it’s sweet that they have crushes on you and Clark. It’s adorable, really.” Ana gives me one last benign smile and meanders over to a bowl of sliced watermelon. Marshall practically drools as he watches her eat it, until Fred nudges him out of his reverie. Grant, who has been accidentally pushed, glares at the Weasel and walks away from Rose, who is still staring at Scorp, and over to Clark.
I am feeling a little catatonic.
What the fuck is Ana talking about?
There is no way James or Fred have a crush on Clark. Or me, for that matter. I am way too much like one of the guys- I know because I engineered that on purpose- and, well, both of them hate Clark’s guts.
There is no way.
She is just completely out of her mind.
“Help me, bitch,” a familiar voice growls in my ear. I raise an eyebrow at Clark, who has finally managed to wriggle away from Peter and is now shooting James a death glare.
“I’ve got to-”
“Sandwiches-” Rob and Serra make vague excuses and slowly back away from Clark.
“Help you with James or help you with Pete?” I ask my best friend, ignoring the couple.
“Grant’s got Pete, thank god, so you get James. And Ana’s got Marshall, so someone else will have to get Fred.”
“Looks like he and Lars are hitting it off,” I nod over at the two of them, who are laughing as they eye a group of Hufflepuff girls a little ways off. Crush on Clark or me, my ass. Fred isn’t so much as looking at either of us. On the bright side, he and Lars are getting along fantastically, especially considering my friend is a Slytherin and my frenemy a Gryffindor, and their Houses have a long history of animosity.
“Fantastic. Now go take care of James before he decides the truce doesn’t apply to me, and I have to kick his ass all the way to Sunday.”
“Yeah, that would kind of ruin it,” I agree, and my friend rolls her dark eyes and takes a sip of beer. “Wait, what are you going to do?”
“Give Rose some tips. The poor girl is floundering.” Clark nods over at my red-headed friend, who is staring at a ham-and-swiss sandwich with a dejected look on her face. I laugh- not at her, at the idea of how she’ll react to Clark’s ‘tips.’
“Yeah, all right. I’ll take care of James. Sorry about that, by the way; I didn’t know they were coming.” Clark shrugs and gives me a rare smile.
“No big deal. Even if they weren’t invited, something tells me they wouldn’t miss the chance to crash.”
Clark’s right about that.
“So how was your first week?”
“Alright, I guess. You? Your teachers going batshit crazy about the NEWTs?”
“Yes. I swear, Jack, it’s so fucking annoying. Seriously. I know how important they are already, so they can just shut the fuck up.”
“Clark said the exact same thing yesterday!”
James glares daggers at me, and I snort with laughter. It’s dark by now, must be around eight or nine- close to curfew. Rob and Serra have left, along with Peter and Marshall, having finally given up on their respective love interests- for the day, at least. Ana left soon after, declining several offers to walk her up to the castle. But Clark, Grant, Fred, Lars, Scorpius, Rose, James, and myself are all still here.
Why, you ask?
Well, there’s nothing better to do.
So it’s a strange mix of Ravenclaws, Gryffindors, and Slytherins that remain by the lakeshore, laughing and talking happily.
Rose and Scorp still aren’t, though, so that failed.
But we do seem to have managed to merge groups.
Only bad thing?
We accidentally merged with James’s group as well.
Whatcha gonna do?
“Why do you hate her so much, anyway?” I ask James, sipping my Scotch and staring out across the lake. I don’t look at him, not wanting to scare him away.
“She’s a bitch,” he answers, like it’s obvious.
“So am I,” I retort.
“Yeah, but you’re you,” he protests, like that actually means something.
“You’re one of the guys!”
“You know, I do take offense at that sometimes,” I protest, not even kidding. It’s nice to be one of the guys, but sometimes it hurts that they would never even consider looking at me in any other way.
“Why? You’re not the girly type, even though you don’t play quidditch.”
“I do karate, that’s even more butch.”
“My point exactly! I mean, you’re rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, you do karate, you can kick any guy’s ass, you’re a bitch, and you curse more than I do! It makes sense that you can’t get a boyfriend.”
I can hear my friends chatting happily away at the picnic table, but where James and I sit, the crickets are chirping.
What did he just say?
That I can’t get a boyfriend?
He doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.
“I could get any guy I want to be my boyfriend,” I snarl, my hand automatically curling around my wand. Say one more word, James. I dare you.
“Any guy? Really?” he snorts, and suddenly finds the tip of my wand pointed right between his eyes.
I’m about one millimeter away from cursing him.
“C’mon, Jack. Yeah, you’re a good friend and all, but I guarantee you no one in the school thinks of you that way.”
Half a millimeter.
It’s even worse because I know he’s right.
“No, I’m not. You know I’m right!”
Ah, yes. Suddenly I’m reminded of why I hate James Sirius Potter.
Because he’s a fucking asshole.
“I could do more than get a guy to be my boyfriend. Pick any guy, I can make him fall madly in love with me.”
James’s eyes twinkle with mischief at my boast.
“Care to make a wager?”
Now this sounds interesting.
I stow my wand, a smile flickering onto my face. James is filthy rich and overly confident, meaning that if I play it right, I could end up winning the war and a shit-ton of money, all at once.
“What kind of wager?”
“You’ve got ‘till the Easter holidays to make a guy of my choice fall in love with you. If you lose, I win the war.”
I consider this, and counter with my own offer.
“If I win, I win the war, and you pay me one hundred galleons.”
“Hey! You never promised me a hundred galleons!”
“I don’t have that kind of money. You do. Besides,” I grin at James slyly, playing his cockiness to my benefit. “I thought you were sure.”
“That no guy at this school will fall in love with you by Easter? Damn right I’m sure.”
Well, when you put it like that I want to kill him again.
“So we’re on?” I hold out a hand for him to shake, raising one eyebrow expectantly. James narrows his hazel eyes at me for a second, then grips my hand hard and shakes it once. I grin.
“Oh, we’re on.”
A/N: Love it? Hate it? Love to hate it? Tell me which--> R&R ;)
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