Chapter 4 : I'm a Great Matchmaker
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When I made that bet, Clark’s reaction may have slipped my mind.
“Technically, I bet the war on me being able to get a guy to fall in love with me.” I pull Calypso into my lap as protection, watching Clark warily as she paces back and forth across the Ravenclaw seventh-year girls’ dorm.
“That’s even worse!” she screeches. “What the fuck were you thinking, Jack!”
“I was thinking that James was being a total bastard, and that I wanted to win the war and get a hundred galleons!” I stand up, knocking Calypso to the ground. The kneazle mrrows in discontent and goes to sulk under my bed. Clark pauses, eyeing me.
“One hundred galleons?”
“All right. You’re right. We’re winning this bet if it’s the last thing we ever do.”
I grin widely.
I knew my best friend would be on board.
“Which guy did James choose?”
“I don’t know, we just made the bet like an hour ago! He said he’d tell me at breakfast.”
“Okay, okay. Jack,” Clark looks almost sickeningly pleased as she turns to me. “We’ve got to give you a makeover.”
“No no no. Clark, please no!”
“Do you want to win this bet or not?!” she thunders, drill-sergeant style. Monica, one of the other girls in our dorm, groans but does nothing but pull a pillow over her ears. She, like the rest of them, knows not to mess with Clark.
“Yes sir,” I grumble.
“Good.” Clark flashes her unnaturally white teeth at me. “You’re pretty now, and you know I love you just the way you are, but we’re not going for pretty. We’re going for sexy, love.”
This is going to be a long night, I can feel it.
I was right.
Clark and I were up till three in the morning working on making me sexy, yet somehow we’re down for breakfast at eight, the time I agreed to meet James. I am going to be so dead later.
“Stop fidgeting,” my friend mutters to me, heaping her plate with bacon, eggs, and pancakes- the breakfast of champions.
And obsessive athletes.
“I can’t help it! How is this dress such a big seller at your mum’s store when it’s so fucking itchy?”
“Because it makes you look like a million galleons. Now shut up and eat your waffles if you want your one hundred!”
I shut up and eat my waffles.
The dress I’m wearing is turquoise, and the low neckline- paired with the push-up bra Clark is making me wear- makes my boobs look much bigger than usual. It’s a halter top with virtually no back (to show off your tan, Clark said; to which I replied, what tan?), and ends a few inches above my knees. My hair is curled in a mass of perfect ringlets thanks to some spell Clark did, and for once in my life I’m wearing more makeup than just foundation, eyeliner, and mascara. My green eyes are done up with shimmery neutral-colored eyeshadow, and I’m actually wearing pale pink lipstick. My friend insists that it looks good, but I just feel like a clown.
“Hello, Clark. Oh! And who might this beautiful girl be?”
Recognizing James’s voice, I turn around, smirking. Do we even need a bet? I’m pretty sure James just proved my point by hitting on me.
Cheesy line, though.
“Kind of creepy, James,” I remark as I swivel in my seat. He flinches in surprise, Marshall laughs, and Fred winks at me.
But I am pretty sure what James said last night completely disproves Ana’s theory that he and Fred have crushes on Clark and me.
And James was drunk, so I know that he’d been telling the truth.
“Chosen your victim, Potter?” Clark chimes in, grinning at his reaction to my makeover.
“Spit it out,” I encourage mockingly. Fred snickers. He is always up for a laugh, even at the expense of his cousin and best mate.
“Al,” he says, pointing.
“Who the fuck is-” I start, then see who he is pointing to.
Albus Severus Potter.
“Foul!” Clark and I both yell at once.
“He’s your brother, that’s an obvious bias,” Clark continues.
“The deal was that I got to pick,” James says smugly. Apparently he’s recovered from his initial surprise at my new-and-improved appearance.
“Well, then you’re not allowed to tell Albus,” I reply immediately, rolling, as they say, with the punches.
“You can’t tell anyone but Clark!”
“Then you can’t tell anyone but those two!” she shoots back.
“Do we have a deal?” I ask, holding out a hand in a mockery of last night.
“Oh, we have a deal,” James smirks, shaking it.
He’s sure he’ll win.
And I’m sure he won’t.
We’ll see who’s right in the end.
“Why are you so okay with Albus being your future boyfriend?” Clark hisses as soon as they walk away. “I thought you hated him!”
“I do!” I assure her. “But he’s my partner in Defense! Plus, it’ll be easier if I hate him. That means there will be no feelings on my end, which makes me able to see more clearly!”
“You’re right,” Clark muses. “James probably didn’t pick him because he’s his brother... I’d say it’s because everyone who isn’t making eyes at James is in love with Albus. But you hate him, so...”
“That gives us the advantage,” I finish, grinning. We both turn back to our breakfast, satisfied.
Seven months to go.
“Winters! Hey, Jack!”
“Whaaaaat?” I groan, turning around mid-staircase. It is almost midnight, and I am hammered after a long night of drinking and gossip on the grounds with Clark. She’d gone ahead to the dorm, but I had to go to the bathroom, and I couldn’t resist using the one on the fourth floor reserved for Heads and Quidditch captains; Clark always tells me her password. Of course, if I knew Fred would corner me on the staircase, I would have just held it till I got back to the dorm.
“Er, I just wanted to apologize for my friend. James told me how you guys made the bet last night, and I just wanted to say that...”
I look at the dark auburn-haired boy, expectant.
“He’s an asshole and he’s totally wrong about you.”
Okay, I didn’t expect that.
“Seriously, Jack, any guy would be lucky to have you.” Fred gives me a lopsided smile. “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
So Ana’s theory is looking a little more plausible now.
“Thanks, Fred. Really. That’s sweet.”
He keeps smiling at me, but doesn’t move.
“Is there... anything else?” I ask, waiting for what he was really here for.
“Yeah. I, er...”
“Get to the point, Freddie.”
“Clark’s single, right?”
“Oh my god,” I laugh. Yes, I know, I’m going to hell. “Ana was right about you!”
“What?” Now Fred looks honestly confused.
“You have a crush on Clark!”
It’s hilarious, really.
“I do not!” he protests.
“Oh yeah? Then why did you just ask if she was single?”
“Alright. I may have a tiny little crush on her.”
“Ha! I knew it!”
“Look, Jack, just help me out, okay?”
“The best way to help you out would be to remind you that she made all three of her exes cry. They were buff, older quidditch players. And she made them cry. You sure you want to get involved with her, honey?”
“I know what she’s like. I’ve known for years. But I can’t exactly help the way I feel.”
“Fine. What do you want me to do, though? I’m not going to lie to her, or trick her, or anything like that.”
“I know. I also know that you’re going to go right back to your dorm and tell her everything I just said. But please, she values your opinion, so tell her I’m a good guy, okay? Maybe encourage her to give me a chance?”
I eye him doubtfully.
“You know that I’m literally just going to tell Clark you said that.”
“I know,” he murmurs dejectedly.
“But you are my friend. And you are a good guy, despite how many girls you’ve screwed over. So I’ll tell her that too.”
He smiles at me in relief.
“I love you. Seriously. You’re the best.” Fred starts off down the stairs, then turns around to grin at me.
“For what it’s worth, Jack, I hope you win the bet.”
And then he’s gone.
“Wait, so Fred has a crush on Clark?” Lars starts laughing uncontrollably.
“Ericsson! At least try to pretend like you’re paying attention!” Professor Lestor, our Ancient Runes teacher, snaps. He’s not that strict, but he’s never liked Lars. Or me, for that matter.
“Yup! He’s got a big ol’ crush!” I whisper to Lars, although I am copying the notes down now.
“Doesn’t he know that she made her three exes cry?”
“Told him. Doesn’t care.”
“Is he fucking insane? Maybe he took one too many Bludgers to the head, suffered brain damage.”
“You’re one to talk,” I laugh. I’m pretty sure Lars holds the record for the most Wounds By Bludger. He’s still a great Beater though; he and Potter (the one who’s gonna fall in love with me) are the stars of the Slytherin quidditch team.
“Hey! I resent that.” Lars pokes me in the side, fake-scowling. I grin charmingly at him, and he rolls his eyes, unable to stay mad at me.
I am so gonna win this bet.
“I need your advice on something, Lars,” I start.
“I knew this would happen sometime. Look, Jack, I’m flattered, but we’re friends! I’m not going to risk that just for a fling.”
I snort unappreciatively. He makes that joke way too much.
“Seriously. I need to know how to make a guy fall in love with me.”
Lars gives me the once-over, one eyebrow raised. His eyes linger on my tight tank top, overly short skirt, and ‘sexy school girl’ knee socks.
“Keep dressing like that and you’ll be fine.”
“Really?” I ask doubtfully. “‘Cause I feel like a slut.”
“Yeah, you look like one too.”
“Guys don’t fall in love with sluts, Lars!” He honestly looks confused at this statement. I sigh and massage my temple, ignoring the glare Professor Lestor shoots me.
“Sex doesn’t equal love, honey.”
My friend slumps back in his seat, looking like his whole world just shifted under him. I roll my eyes. God, why am I even friends with these people?
“Snap out of it, hun. I need your help.”
“Yeah, yeah, fine. I’ll ruminate later.”
“Good word,” I compliment reflexively. Ever since Scorp dropped a ‘scintillating’ at dinner once, this has been a running joke with me and the boys. Lars grins at me and seems to recover a bit from his shock. Good. Maybe now he’ll reevaluate his one night stands and not get some nasty brain-eating STDs.
Okay, so magical people don’t get those, because the Contraceptive Charm is foolproof, but whatever.
That’s beside the point.
“Be sweet. I know that will be torture, Jack, but guys love nice, sweet girls that they can take home to their mothers. Don’t be too needy, though, that’s never good. And for the love of god, do not mention how much you hate kids. I know for a fact that Al loves them.”
What?! He knows about the bet?!
And I say so.
“Good word,” Lars says. “And yeah, Fred mentioned the bet to me, told me not to tell anyone.”
“So you told the guys,” I sigh.
“Of course; I just made friends with Fred a few day ago! I’ve been friends with Grant and Scorp and Pete for years.”
“And me,” I add, smiling.
“And you,” he agrees.
Looks like I have four more allies.
“Ana! Wait up!”
It’s after Arithmancy, two days after Fred’s confession. I’ve decided that I have too many promises and deals and set-ups on my plate, and I really need to get one out of the way. So I’m going to talk to Ana, and save the favor Marshall owes me for later.
The blonde girl stops in her tracks when I call, and turns around with a friendly smile.
“Hey, Jack! Need anything?”
“Yeah, actually, I wanted to talk to you,” I pant, falling into step with her.
“What’s going on?”
“You should talk to Marshall,” I blurt. Shit. Ah well; I’m not very good at subtlety.
“Marshall?” She wrinkles her porcelain brow. “Marshall Thompson?”
“Yeah,” I nod almost maniacally, adjusting the bag on my shoulder. It weighs about a million pounds, what with all the books and quills and ink crammed in there. That’s not even counting the 1500-page Abstract Theory of the Dark Arts, the, erm, slightly illicit book I’m currently reading.
“He’s a good guy,” I continue. Ana eyes me knowingly; I’m sure this is not the first time a guy has gotten their friend to talk with her. But this time, at least, she nods.
My heart lifts.
Marshall owes me now! I don’t know what I’ll make him do, but I can wait until I need something...
“What the hell?!” an unfamiliar voice screeches. Ana winces, and I run forward to see what the hell is going on.
Some Hufflepuff girl is standing at the head of the staircase with about thirty other students; except the staircase isn’t a staircase, it’s a giant slide. At the foot are James, Fred, and Marshall, cracking up as Peter Bays slides down. He sprouts reindeer antlers, complete with jingling bells, his skin and hair turns neon blue, and his clothes turn bright pink. I grin and walk to the start of the slide even as Peter sulks away, probably to the Hospital Wing. I mean, I feel bad for my friend, but it’s still funny.
“Sure you want to do this?” Scorpius appears out of nowhere and asks me.
“‘Course I am,” I reply bracingly, looking down the steep slide to the faces of my three frenemies below.
“Good luck!” He slaps me on the shoulder, and Ana offers a similar sentiment.
“You coming or what, Winters?” Fred yells up at me. Winters, eh? Yeah, we’ll see about that. Taking a deep breath, I sit down on the slide and push myself forward.
I start murmuring counter-curses immediately, every single one I know, simple and complicated, long and short. I’m barely even aware of the faces blurring past, laughing and yelling and grinning, the wind whooshing in my ears, the Grey Lady floating disapprovingly overhead. By the time I reach the bottom, all the spells have been deactivated... except for the blue hair one.
“I kinda like it,” I say to Fred as I bound to my feet, walking a few feet for balance. He laughs at my blue locks, still impeccably curled from when Clark did them this morning. I flick a ringlet over my shoulder and smirk at James. Marshall clears his throat and nudges his dark-haired friend meaningfully.
“Erm, Jack, I wanted to say-”
“Fuck off, Potter.”
I strut away, trying to walk the way Clark showed me, the ‘confident’ and ‘sexy’ way. It seems to work, because as I leave I can feel the boys’ eyes on my ass.
There is no way Albus will be able to resist.
“Your hair is blue,” Clark tells me as I sit down next to her in the Great Hall.
“Pete has blue skin, pink clothes, and full-on reindeer antlers, so I got off easy,” I say as I pick up a sandwich. She sighs.
“Dammit. I would pay so much to laugh at him; then maybe he would-”
“Finally leave you the hell alone?”
“You know it.”
We both sigh.
“When did life get so complicated?” I ask wistfully. Clark looks sideways at me, raising one eyebrow.
“When we hit puberty.”
We exchange a glance and roll our eyes simultaneously.
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