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Chapter 6 : Dating and Lying
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“Uh-huh. Yep. Really? Uh-huh, cool!” I nod along to Albus Potter’s dull story of how he got his wand. The boy should hear my wand story one day. It’s a hundred times cooler.
I don’t know why I was scared for this. This date with Al is pretty much the most boring lunch I’ve had in years. Even the food he ordered is boring: chicken sandwiches on wheat bread. At least the food here is decent; and not pink, like Madame Puddifoot’s. Clark dragged me there once to crash a date she was dreading, and...
Anyways, back to my own date.
“Yeah, that’s- oh really? Awesome!” I continue to punctuate his tale while digging into my sandwich. Okay, it’s actually pretty good.
“So what did you do on your first day in Diagon Alley?” Albus asks me, his bottle-green eyes bright with curiosity. Like, real curiosity.
Jeez, this kid is enthusiastic.
“Y’know, the usual stuff. Got my books and robes and wand ‘n stuff. I’m muggle-born, so I didn’t go to Gringotts until much later.”
I took another nonchalant bite of my sandwich. Truthfully, my parents hadn’t even gone to Diagon Alley with me. Directions to get there had come along with my letter, so they’d shoved twenty pounds into my hand and told me to be back by dark. Thank god I’d run into the friendly owner of the Leaky Cauldron, who gave me all the wizard money I needed to get my supplies, or I’d have only been able to afford a fucking hat, and that’s it. Too bad for the friendly proprietor, though, that he turned out to be my Herbology teacher.
I still feel bad for accidentally throwing that Fanged Geranium at him.
“So what’s your wand story?”
I raise an eyebrow at Al. What makes him think I have a ‘wand story’? I mean, I do, but still.
“What do you mean?” I ask carefully.
“Come on, everybody has a wand story. Something cool happens to everyone in Mr. Ollivander’s shop. My dad said it’s been that way since he was a kid, and since his parents were kids!”
“Um, you really want to know?” I say doubtfully, raising an eyebrow. I’m trying to buy time, because there’s no way I’m going to tell him my actual wand story. I’ve only ever told Clark about it, and there is no way I’m going to spill to some asshole guy that I have to fake-date for a bet. So I’ve got to make up a fake story on the spot.
“Yeah, of course I do!” Albus tells me earnestly.
God, I hate earnest people.
Oh hey, look, Al is both!
“Well, so when I walked into the store, no one was there,” I start, pitching my voice lower, so the boy leans closer and listens.
I’m quite a good liar, you know.
“So I went over to the counter and I picked up one of the wands laying there, must have been left over from the last kid trying out wands. And when I waved it, that lamp in the corner, you know? it breaks.”
Al interrupts me to laugh.
Shut it, shitface.
“So Ollivander came running out, except he didn’t look mad; his eyes were all huge and he was smiling, that kind of creepy smile.”
Albus Potter nods along, smiling. I continue to make up some random story about how I broke a bunch of stuff and ended up with a unicorn-hair wand while my date laughs along and chips in with his own (annoying) commentary in places. He doesn’t suspect a thing.
See, I told you I was a good liar.
Here’s the real story of how I got my wand:
I went to Ollivander’s last, because I was most excited to get my wand, and I always save the best for last. He was, actually, at the front counter when I walked in, and he looked at me with those bug-like blue eyes. He was a really old man, and I really didn’t understand how he was still alive.
Anyways, he frowned and said that he didn’t recognize me, so I must not have had parents who’d come here. I told him that I was a Muggle-born, and he nodded like that explained everything. Then he started pulling out a bunch of wands, asking me questions the whole time. Was I going to Hogwarts? First year? Did I know which House I wanted? What was my favorite color? How tall was I? What was my glove size? What was my great-aunt’s favorite pair of shoes?
Okay, so not the last one.
Well, by the time I had answered, he had pulled at least a dozen wands to try. He told me to ‘go on, give ‘em a wave’ so I did; that was when the lamp broke. I set my own hair on fire with the next one (Ollivander had to put it out), and with the eleventh one I tried, all the lights in the room sputtered out. I must have tried at least thirty wands- not even joking- when Ollivander stopped and frowned at me for a long time.
It was creepy.
Then, finally, he asked me how my magic had first manifested itself. So I told him: my parents had gotten mad at me because I wouldn’t read my nightly Bible verses, so they locked me in my room without supper.
I burned down the top floor of our house.
Well, then they got really mad.
Once he heard that, Ollivander muttered ‘interesting, interesting’ and then something about ‘a powerful wand for a powerful magic’. He disappeared into his shop, and didn’t come back out for like five minutes. Just as I was about to leave, he came back with a small package. He opened it gingerly and told me to pick up the wand. This one was different, I noticed. The wood was a lighter color, almost golden, and the bottom of it was thickly covered in green and gold scales, ranging from emerald to turquoise and amber to a pale champagne-gold. They got sparser further up the wand, until at about the half-way mark they completely gave way to unadorned wood.
I picked the wand up gingerly, almost afraid to touch it, it was so beautiful. I asked why there were scales on it as I examined it, not wanting to wave it just yet. Somehow, I knew that this wand was the one, and I wanted to savor the moment I first channelled my magic. Ollivander told me that the scales were dragon scales, and they were there to stabilize the cores.
As in, more than one.
So what were they, I asked. All three, he said. It was experimental and highly dangerous, he warned. The first few wands he’d made like this, they’d exploded. Then he’d had the brilliant idea of using dragon scales- a highly magical and resilient substance- to stabilize the cores. But just because nothing had happened to this wand yet, didn’t mean nothing was going to happen.
I could handle it, I told him.
So I waved the wand.
Bright golden light flared, illuminating the whole shop. Out of the tip of the wand flew a jade green dragon made completely out of sparks, which opened its glittering maw and released a torrent of golden flames. Ollivander and I ducked, both of us wide eyed.
I sucked in a breath and waved the wand again.
The dragon disappeared along with the inhuman light, and everything returned to normal.
I turned to Ollivander and asked how much.
He looked around, and saw that I had no one with me, no parents, no friends. He turned back, and told me it was on the house.
So that’s the real story of how I got my wand. But there was no way in hell I was going to tell Albus Severus Potter all that.
No, he got the fake, funny story in which I broke some furniture and my wand only had one core, and the scales were nothing but fun decorations I added later.
“Well, this was fun,” says Al, after we’re done eating and our butterbeers are completely drained.
“Yep!” I reply, aware that my voice is overly-bright. Albus is smiling at me. Oh god, he’s going to try to kiss me soon.
I get up and walk to the door, and he follows my lead. As I walk, it occurs to me that perhaps I should have let him lead; Lars said guys fall in love with sweet girls. Does letting a guy lead to preserve his ego count as sweet? I wouldn’t know.
After all, I’m a self-proclaimed bitch.
Al doesn’t seem to be bothered, though, so I force myself not to worry about it. I push open the door and step out into the rather chilly fall air, my date following just behind.
“So I guess this is goodbye?” he says with a smile.
“Only for today,” I flirt, winking. God, that feels wrong. I don’t really flirt, on principle. Well, except for with Lars sometimes, but that’s just because he’s ridiculously handsome, and I like to snicker at all the girls who toss me jealous looks. Hey, it’s not my fault he slept with you and never talked to you again!
“So I’ll see you around, then,” Albus continues, taking a step towards me.
“Guess so,” I murmur, taking a step of my own. I know what’s coming, and I forcibly push down my nervousness as Al leans in...
The moment his lips touch mine, I reach up and put a hand on the back of his neck, pulling him closer, deepening the kiss. He responds in kind, opening his mouth just slightly to breathe me in.
And then we’re like totally making out.
I guess I expected myself to forget that I totally hated the boy when I kissed him; that was how it was when I kissed Lars, last year. It was just during spin the bottle (or at least the first time was) but the moment our lips met, I totally forgot about everything. I couldn’t possibly get enough of him.
But this is different.
This is more like kissing Grant: it had felt too familiar, like I was literally kissing my brother, and I had found myself thinking way too much. Kissing Albus doesn’t feel as uncomfortably familiar, but I am thinking way too much. I mean, I am thinking all this, right now.
Plus, my eyes are open. That’s never a good sign.
I stare wide-eyed out at the tree behind Al’s head as our lips move together, trying to distract my mind so my instinct will do all the work. The trees are very pretty, their leaves all gold and orange and red, fall colors. Halloween is two weeks from today, I remember randomly. Then I just wait for the kiss to be over.
Is it just me, or have we been kissing for far too long?
I start reciting all the charms I know in my head, just for something to think about. Finally, as I’m reaching straflis, the hair-straightening charm, Al pulls away.
That was getting awkward.
But I just smile at Albus, pretending I was into that make-out session.
“See you later, then,” I say with a grin and a toss of my impeccably straightened hair. Then I strut away, swinging my hips for all I’m worth. As soon as I round a corner and am out of his line of vision, however, I shudder and start running. I sprint headlong in my sparkly shirt and my leather jacket and my designer jeans, ignoring the odd looks of passersby. I just want to escape.
I wasn’t lying to Clark, when I told her that the very thought of getting close to anyone, boyfriend-girlfriend style, made me feel claustrophobic.
Turns out the reality is much worse.
“Winters! Hey, Jack!”
I recognize the voice, and thank god it isn’t Al’s.
I stop in front of Fred, bending over, hands on my knees, breath ragged. He’s standing just outside of Honeydukes, the Hogsmeade sweet shop, looking at me with one eyebrow raised.
“I thought the Hogsmeade 400-meter dash wasn’t until next week!”
“Shut up,” I gasp as I try to catch my breath. I look back, and find that I can’t even see the Three Broomsticks. Wow. I guess I did sprint for a long time.
“So where are the hellhounds?” Fred Weasley asks casually, handing me a bottle of water. Opened, I notice. I pour the water on the ground, not trusting Fred- he’s a notorious prankster. Sure enough, the grass I pour the water onto immediately turns purple.
“Dammit,” he sighs. “That doesn’t wear off for a week, you know, I’ve been perfecting it for a month now.”
“Try it on someone less cynical,” I advise, standing straight now. I’ve caught my breath, more or less.
“So seriously, why the headlong sprint?” Fred asks, finally not joking or mocking. I make a face.
“I just made out with your cousin.”
“Ah, so you made your move on our young Al!” He waggles his eyebrows suggestively, and I roll my eyes.
“Yeah.” Then I decide to continue, since Fred has sworn not to tell Albus anything at all relating to the bet. “It made me feel claustrophobic.”
“Oh, so you have commitment issues,” my friend says knowingly. My eyes bug out. If I had a mouthful of that purple-water, I would have spit it out.
“I do not have commitment issues!” I protest truthfully. I have abandonment issues, which manifest as commitment issues.
“Whatever you say!” Fred sings airily.
“Whatever,” I grumble. “What are you doing out here alone anyway?”
There is an almost constant stream of people entering and exiting Honeydukes, but Fred alone is standing off to the side. Inside, it looks crowded and warm, the bright colors of candy and clothes making everything look even closer together.
Speaking of claustrophobia.
“Too hot in there,” Fred tells me. “James said he’d be out in a minute.” He watches me carefully to gauge my reaction to his casual mention of the guy I just professed to hate.
“Ah,” is all I say, with an accompanying nod.
“We’re still friends, right?” Fred asks carefully. “Because I know I’m one of James’s best friends, but I still want to be friends with you...” he trails off.
“Of course we are,” I say bracingly. “After all, you’re in love with my best friend!” That last part is just to tease him. And partly to get back at him for mentioning James.
“I’m not in love with Clark!” Fred protests loudly, drawing glances from several fourth-year boys.
“Oh, fuck off,” I snap at them, and they scamper away. Fuckin’ fourth years, I swear.
“I just have a little crush,” Fred continues as if he was never interrupted. “You can’t blame me, she’s hot!”
“I know, I know,” I placate him. “I’m just teasing you. But seriously, if you like her, you should do something about it.”
“Like what? You saw the way she was glaring at me, she hates me!”
“That’s because she thinks you only like her because she’s hot, like all the other guys do. Hang out with her first, become friends. Then ask her out. She’s much more likely to say yes, that way.”
“But I do just like her because she’s hot,” Fred tells me, but he’s obviously lying. He can’t even look me in the eye, and his voice sounds weird. God, he’s a terrible liar.
“Whatever you say, Freddy,” I say with a wide grin as I start walking farther up the road, towards my original destination.
“I’m telling the truth!” he yells after me.
“I’m sure you are!” I call back, smirking. Distantly, I hear a sigh. Then:
“See you later, Jack.”
“Later, Fred,” I say, even though I know he can’t hear me. It’s nice to be called by my first name without getting him to say the words, anyways. I guess that means we’re real friends now.
As soon as I walk into Clementine, the clothing store where I agreed to meet Clark after my date, a strikingly beautiful middle-aged woman walks up and envelopes me in a hug.
“Jack Winters,” she sighs, her voice holding just a hint of a Greek accent. “It has been too long.”
“It’s only been a month and a half, Helena,” I laugh as she holds me at arms length.
“Your hair,” she announces. “It is straight.”
I run a hand through my silky dark blonde hair, a bit self-conscious.
“Clark did it.”
“What was my daughter thinking? It looks much better natural, my dear. You have such lovely hair, so thick and with so much luxurious texture.”
Helena- Mrs. Carter- waves her wand, and my hair reverts to its natural wavy texture, but much more shiny and glamorous than usual. As the owner of the most successful clothing store in Great Britain, Helena is quite gifted at beautification spells. In fact, Clark’s mother has been called the woman who single-handedly brought Muggle clothing, hair, and makeup into the wizarding world. You can’t do that without being a whiz at fashion and styling.
“Thanks, Helena,” I say with a smile, and my best friend’s mother smiles warmly back, her beautiful face lighting up. Although both of Clark’s parents are freakishly good-looking, it is easy to see that she got her exquisite bone structure from her Russian-Greek mother; her rich coloring is from her father, who’s an American.
“Of course, darling. And as always, feel free to take anything, no charge for my second daughter!” She gestures around at her store, which is full of clothing designed by Helena, as well as hair products, makeup, and a fully-equipped salon. And to think the Hogsmeade branch is the smallest of Helena’s shops.
“Thank you!” I lean in and we double-kiss, the way Mrs. Carter has always done. Then I head straight over to the salon, where Clark is sitting in a chair and flipping through the latest issue of Witch Weekly, her hair under one of those dryer-things that bring to mind an alien mind-reading machine.
“Your hair is curly,” she says as I sit next to her, without even looking up.
“Helena did it,” I say, summoning a booklet of hair styles. “What do you think? This one?” I hold up a picture of a hair style I’ve always wanted to get but never been brave enough to, the angular shoulder-length, short-in-the-back-long-in-the-front style. Clark spares a glance at it, and nods approvingly.
“Do it, I say. You’ve always wanted to!”
“Yeah, but what if it looks bad?” I vacillate, biting my lip.
“Then Mum’ll set you up with a nice wig and her special potions that make hair grow super-fast,” Clark says unsympathetically, but she banishes her magazine back to the table, and focuses her full attention on me.
“You think it’ll look good?” I hold up the picture next to my face. Clark narrows her eyes, considering. That’s one of the good things about her; she will always tell me the truth.
“Yeah, that will look good on you,” she nods, and I’m satisfied. Clark’s opinion is the final word on fashion, in my book.
“Plus, you might get fewer feathers and twigs stuck in your hair if it’s shorter!” she points out brightly, and I roll my eyes.
Well, she’s right.
“Speaking of, I’m thinking of going to visit Hagrid and Buckbeak on the way back to school, you want to come?”
“So the date was bad, then?”
“What?” What the hell does my date have to do with visiting Hagrid and Buckbeak?
“C’mon Jack, you only go to visit that Hippogriff when you need to calm down about something. And I’ve only ever seen you get haircuts when you’re upset and needing a change.”
“You’ve got me all figured out, haven’t you,” I mutter darkly.
“‘Course I do,” Clark says airily. “Just like you have me all figured out.”
I shrug. It’s kind of nice, having someone know you that well.
“So I take it the date did suck?” Clark assumes.
“Epicly,” I assure her. “It was terribly boring, I pretty much just lied the entire time, and when he kissed me, I had my eyes open and my mind racing a mile a minute. I felt so claustrophobic you wouldn’t believe.”
“Only six more months,” Clark sighs, giving me a rare sympathetic look. She’s not much keen on dates either.
“Six more months,” I echo.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come?” I ask Clark one last time as we prepare to part in front of Hagrid’s cabin. She sneers at me.
“Jack, no. The last time I visited that Hippogriff, it almost mauled me.”
“You know, it might help if you called him Buckbeak instead of that Hippogriff.”
“I’ll take that under advisement,” Clark says sarcastically. I roll my eyes.
“See you in a few, then.”
She waves and starts up the hill to the castle.
As for me, I turn towards Hagrid’s cabin, smiling. It’s been almost two weeks since we talked; school, maintaining my glamorous (ahem, slutty) style, and juggling my newly merged, thirteen-strong group of friends has kept me busy.
Hm, maybe I should drop the bit about the slutty style. I mean, Albus seems to like me well enough even when I’m not dressed like a ‘sexy schoolgirl.’ Plus, I absolutely hate the ‘sexy schoolgirl’ style.
It’s fucked up, not to mention geared towards perverted pedophiles.
I’ll talk to Clark about it at dinner.
Now, it’s time to catch up with the groundskeeper. I walk up to his large wooden door, finding it a relief to stop swinging my hips all over the place; god, I felt like I was going to break something. Inside, I hear Fang the hound start to bark.
“Quiet, yeh dog,” Hagrid grumbles, and the door is wrenched open. Hagrid stands before me, gigantic as always, bushy hair and beard unbrushed and wild, one large hand clamped around Fang’s collar as the dog strains towards me.
“Oh, it’s yeh,” he says, and releases Fang. The dog jumps towards me, and I’m forced to cast a shield charm to avoid being knocked over. Laughing, I relent and scratch behind the dog’s ears, and in return he doesn’t jump on me.
“I wanted to catch up a bit, if you have time,” I tell Hagrid as I ruffle Fang’s ears.
“Er, well, yeh see...” the groundskeeper begins, and I peer behind him, where he keeps glancing. Sitting at his table, attempting to soften their rock cakes in mugs of tea, are Lily Luna Potter and Hugo I-don’t-know-his-middle-name Weasley. Lily tosses her silky red hair over her shoulder and waves at me, and Hugo, who I know less well, offers up a slight smile. I wave and smile back. They don’t seem to notice my new haircut, but then again, I don’t know them very well. As for Hagrid, he has the excuse of being a man who obviously doesn’t care about hair very much.
“I see, you’ve got company,” I tease Hagrid.
“Sorry, Jack, we’ve had this tea set up fer weeks now,” he says awkwardly.
“Of course, I get it,” I smile. “No problem, we’ll catch up later. I’ll just go around back and visit Buckbeak, yeah?”
“O’ course,” Hagrid grins at me. “See yeh ‘round then, Jack?”
“Monday, I’ve got your class first,” I correct fondly. Hagrid’s always been kind to me, so in return I’m always kind to him; it also doesn’t hurt that he’s older, so I act more mature.
“Bye then!” I wave and give Fang one last scratch before heading around to the other side of the cabin.
As I head into the castle a few minutes later, I spot Marshall and Ana walking with Rose a few paces ahead.
“Rose!” I call, and she turns around. Then gapes.
“Jack, your hair!” she exclaims as I run to catch up. Now Marshall and Ana have turned around too, Ana oohing over the shortness, Marshall looking a bit nonplussed. He probably doesn’t notice anything different.
“It looks so good, I can’t believe it!” Rose shrieks, reaching out to run a silky blonde strand through her fingers. In addition to cutting it in the angular style I wanted, Julian the gay hairdresser had also worked a charm that made it silky-straight and shiny- it would only last for two days though, he warned me.
Better than straflis, which lasts for eight hours max.
“Thank you!” I chirp, happy. I’m not the only one who thinks my new hairstyle suits me, thank god.
“So I hear you went on a date with my cousin,” Rose mentions casually as we both hop over a trick step in the staircase we’re currently climbing.
“I did,” I say simply, shoving aside a curtain to lead the way down a relatively well-known shortcut.
“How was it?” Rose urges. Marshall and Ana have now fallen a few steps behind, whispering to each other in voices reminiscent of turtle doves cooing.
“It was good. Fun. We kissed,” I mentioned, so I wouldn’t have to find other adjectives to describe the boring date.
“Eeeee!” Rose squeals, and I flinch and cover my ears. “How was it how was it?!”
“It was a kiss,” I say vaguely, giving her a sideways glance that clearly reads: what the hell is your problem?
“Sorry, I’m sorry,” Rose hurries to say, and I realize that we’re drawing close to the Gryffindor common room, where Rose and I will part ways. I hate to say it, but I’ll be glad. I don’t want to discuss my date with Al any more than I have to.
“But if you marry Al, we’ll be cousins-in-law!” Rose gives a little jump. I snicker.
“Cousins-in-law? Really, Rose? Well, you know, if you marry Scorp, we’ll be friends-in-law!”
Rose laughs at that, but goes a little pink. I feel bad for her. I didn’t mean to tease her about that, especially because I know she’s sensitive about her feelings for Scorpius.
“Relax, it’ll happen eventually,” I comfort my friend as we approach the portrait of the Fat Lady. “You just have to wait it out, and don’t give up.” I smile at her, and she sighs then smiles back.
“Thanks, Jack. Geranomium,” she tells the Fat Lady, and the door to the Gryffindor common room swings open. “Want to come in for a bit?” Rose offers.
“No thanks, I should get back to my own House,” I tell her with a smile, and we part ways. Thank god; discussing Al would be hell, absolute hell.
“Say my name, and I disappear. Who am I?” the eagle knocker asks me. I’ve trekked all the way up to Ravenclaw tower, and now I’m rewarded with the easiest riddle ever? Come on. I’ve been here six years, the bronze eagle should know by now that I like a challenge.
“Trying to trick me with the who, eh? It’s really a what.”
The eagle says nothing. Is she trying to give me a hint, or judging me? Or am I going crazy, thinking that a bronze knocker is alive?
“You’re silence,” I sigh, and the door opens.
Clark is standing there, her dark-skinned face abnormally green. She must have been waiting for me.
“Clark? What’s wrong?” I ask, alarmed. Wordlessly, she holds out a beautiful metallic silver dress. I recognize it as one of her favorites. Frowning, I take it and look it over.
Then I crack up.
There is a cat turd, right where the boobs would go.
No wonder Clark looks like she wants to barf; Calypso shat on her favorite dress.
“Stop laughing!” my best friend yells at me.
“Your face!” I wheeze, red with mirth. Clark glares murderously, then snatches back her dress and stalks upstairs, leaving me to fall to my knees, barely able to breathe from laughing so hard.
I can always count on Clark to make me feel better, even after having my first-ever date be such a disaster.
After all, that’s what best friends are for.
A/N: Jack and Al's first date! Not going so well, huh... Well, you know the drill: read and review! Please! <3
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