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Chapter 7 : Love is in the Air
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“Fuck off, James!” I sing as I walk by the Gryffindor table. Clark gives the dark-haired boy her meanest smile, while Fred stands up and detaches from his group to follow us to the Ravenclaw table.
“D’you maybe think you should give him a chance?”
Clark and I turn to skewer Fred with our eyes.
“Or not...” he mutters reproachfully. “But anyways, d’you mind if I eat lunch with you?”
“‘Course not!” Clark says, her glare quickly turning to a smile. In the two weeks since I gave Fred the advice to befriend Clark, he’s made a real effort; as a result, the two of them actually became friends. Clark is still a bit wary of him, but he has made no mention of his crush, so she is starting to relax.
“Jack! Hey,” Al walks up behind me and loops an arm around my waist. I kiss him lightly and he smiles, his dark green eyes glinting in the dim sunlight cast by the Great Hall’s ceiling. It’s unusually nice outside, especially for Hallowe’en. Isn’t it supposed to be all dark and spooky?
“Want to join me for lunch?” he asks, and as his real-live girlfriend, I am obligated to say yes. We made it official last week, after a month of flirting and an exact count of four kisses. I’m thrilled, as you can probably guess.
That asshole. I can’t believe I’m dating him.
Oh well. Just remember Jack, 100 galleons.
“Of course I do!” I smile my most sparkling smile, kiss him on the cheek and wriggle out from within his arms. “Let’s invite your cousin, yeah?”
“Ooh, that’s good,” Clark says, while Fred just looks confused. He has no idea of Rose’s thing for Scorpius.
“So we’ll see you later?” he assumes, apparently deciding not to ask. I’ll even go as far to say that he doesn’t give one shit, as my departure gives him a lunch alone with the girl he likes.
“Of course! If you swing by the tower I can help you with that Care of Magical Creatures essay.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Jack,” Fred sighs gratefully, and I shake my head fondly before flouncing over to the Gryffindor table and tapping Rose on the shoulder.
“I’m having lunch with Al; you want to join?”
“Totally!” she agrees, jumping to her feet while James, a few seats over, pointedly ignores me. Ana and Marshall, sitting next to Rose and James respectively, give me apologetic smiles.
“I’ll see you in Arithmancy,” Ana says by way of goodbye, mentioning the class we share, right after lunch. It’s a double lesson today, but at least it’s the last before a weekend. Plus, the Hallowe’en feast is tonight, so that ought to be fun.
“Hey, boys,” I grin at Lars, Peter, Scorp, and Grant as we approach the Slytherin table. Lars immediately gets up and offers Rose his place, which is right next to Scorpius. Rose smiles shyly at my handsome friend, who winks. She blushes. Yeah, she’s totally in love with Scorp, but Lars is still super-hot.
“Let’s sit here,” Albus suggests, taking my hand and tugging me to the end of my group, so the two of us are in between Al’s best friends, Michael Wood and Adam Wagner, and Grant. Adam and Michael (and Albus, incidentally) still pretty much hate Grant ‘n them, but they’ve all been making an effort to get along ever since I started dating Albus.
God, this bet is taking over my entire life.
Fuck you, James.
“I like your hair,” Scorpius mentions from across the table. I scrunch my face up at him.
“It’s been cut for two weeks. You honestly just noticed now?”
“No, I noticed it!” he protests. “I just didn’t get a chance to say anything!”
“Suuuure,” I tease in a sarcastic tone as I smear Nutella on a piece of toast.
“I believe you!” Rose chimes in eagerly, and Lars and I both sigh.
Too eager, girl.
“Erm, thanks,” Scorp says uncomfortably, and focuses on chugging his water.
“She is hopeless,” Grant whispers in my ear.
“It’s sad, really,” I murmur back.
“So you have Arithmancy next, right?” Al, who sounds a bit jealous, actually, calls my attention back to him.
“Yeah, I do. With you,” I point my knife at Adam, whose nervous grey eyes fly wide open.
“Me?” he asks in an almost trembling voice. I’ve always thought he was scared of me.
“Yes, you.” I roll my eyes. Adam turns his anxious gaze back to his plate.
“Idiot,” I mutter under my breath. Grant smothers a laugh.
“So there’s a quidditch game tomorrow,” Michael, who has always made more of an effort to be friendly- he’s just one of those people- quickly changes the topic.
“Yeah, that should be interesting,” Al says, his eyes lighting up in that way they always do when he talks about quidditch. “It’s a grudge match.”
“Is it just me, or does the first match of the year always seem to be Gryffindor versus Slytherin?” I mention to no one in particular.
“I think they do that on purpose,” Grant agrees, taking a liberal forkful of salad off my plate.
“I’m beginning to agree with you,” Al says, humor in his voice. My eyebrows fly up. That is the first friendly thing Albus has ever said to one of my Slytherin pseudo-brothers.
Grant, as surprised as I am, just gapes.
“Well, I’ll be there to support you,” I cut in quickly, lest things get too awkward.
“Not just your boyfriend, I hope?” a familiar voice says hostilely, and I feel someone lean on my shoulder.
“For the last time, Scorpius, I am not an arm rest!” I insist, shoving his hand off me. What is he doing talking to me, anyways? Doesn’t he hate my current boyfriend?
“I’m sure Jack will be there for you, too,” Albus says politely, but there is no trace of warmth in his voice. Despite being in the same house, Scorpius and Al hate each other more than their fathers did, or so the rumors say. I don’t quite believe it, as Albus is too much of a prefect to jinx Scorp in the hallways, like rumor has it Harry Potter did to Draco Malfoy; but I have seen Scorpius discreetly hex Al, on many occasions. I even helped once or twice.
“Yes, I’ll be there for both of you, and for Lars, and for Clark,” I say, diffusing the tension. I have a front to keep up, and that (unfortunately) requires me to make peace between my friends and my faux-beau.
“Clark?” Al asks, confused.
“Clark supports any team or anyone playing against James,” Grant explains, popping a chip into his mouth.
“Huh. I forgot about that.”
“My girlfriend’s best friend hates my favorite brother.”
“He’s your only brother,” I scoff.
I only barely manage to contain a snort. Of course Al would say ‘nevertheless’ instead of ‘but still’ or ‘whatever’. I am learning many interesting facts about my new boyfriend, and one of those is that he is incredibly smart; everyone says the smartest Slytherin in his year. In fact, now that I am paying attention, I have noticed that he is in all of my classes but Arithmancy and Ancient Runes; and he’s in Herbology and Muggle Studies, to make up for that.
Albus’s intelligence is probably one of the reasons that Scorpius, widely regarded as the second-smartest in Slytherin, hates him so much.
“Y’know, it seems cruel to have a quidditch match the morning after Hallowe’en,” I mention, tossing a chip into my mouth.
“Yeah, you’re right, we’ll all be really tired,” Al muses, furrowing his brow in a way that I’m sure all the ladies love.
Not me, though.
Okay, he’s attractive. I still don’t like him.
“Hungover,” Grant coughs into his elbow.
“What was that?” my boyfriend asks distractedly.
“Nothing,” I say firmly, giving my brother/best guy friend a look. He rolls his eyes at me and eats more food off my plate.
“Hey, Grant,” a shy voice says, and I turn to see Christina Morris, a Ravenclaw in my year, approach us from behind.
“Hi, Christina,” Grant smiles in a way I find quite confusing. Usually he’s joking and rather arrogant around most girls, but his smile now is... kind. Fond, but in a different way than the smiles he shoots my direction. A hypothesis forming in my mind, I glance from Grant to Christina and back again. She’s very pretty, with golden-blonde hair and warm brown eyes, and a very attractive smile. I remember her being quiet and shy, however, not one to just approach random guys and say hello.
Is there something going on between them?
“Christina, it’s been a while!” I cut in peppily, sticking out my hand. She shakes it a little awkwardly, confused. It actually hasn’t been a while, as I’d spoken to her briefly in Transfiguration, just yesterday.
“Yeah, good to see you, Jack. I love your hair, by the way,” she recovers from her awkwardness with a sincere, sweet smile, and I am automatically flattered. There is something so real, so kind, about Christina.
“Thanks,” I smile, and turn back to Al. We start discussing his chances in the upcoming match against Gryffindor, me keeping tabs on the conversation going on behind us. Grant and Christina exchange casual jokes and laugh, before going on to agree to meet up at dinner tonight.
As soon as she leaves, I jump on Grant.
“When did that happen?” I practically shout, interrupting a very surprised Al mid-sentence.
“We started talking last week,” Grant says casually, ruffling his dirty-blond hair.
“Seemed like a little more than that,” Al teases, then turns suddenly to engage Adam and Michael in conversation when Grant glares murder at him.
“Be nice,” I scold my friend, but I don’t really mean it. I’m glad to see that Al, no matter how smart and handsome and athletic he may be, can still be intimidated with just a glance.
“We’re just friends,” Grant insists.
“For now,” I smirk. He glares at me, and I shrug.
“Isn’t she?” Grant agrees, the wisp of a smile floating across his face.
“You really do like her!” I exclaim, shocked. This is new. I mean, I’ve always know that Grant isn’t a womanizer, that he actually does want a girlfriend (unlike, say, Lars); but he’s never before found one who sufficiently interests him.
Grant shrugs bashfully.
“Love is in the air,” I say with a grin just as the bell rings. Albus takes my hand and smiles at me, and the two of us- along with Adam- prepare to head towards Arithmancy. Al always walks me to class.
“Apparently it is,” Grant murmurs, eyeing our interlinked hands.
“Appearances can be deceiving,” I warn quietly, meeting his pale green eyes with my own. He just smiles.
We’ve been saying that since first year, when he first met me (in detention, rather portentously); it is our version of goodbye. We never say the words- they’re too final, an end, not a pause. This is our way of saying that there will always be a next time.
“Later,” I wave as Albus and I depart. Grant waves back, watching me with an odd expression on his face.
“I can’t believe you’re ditching me to eat with Albus Potter,” Clark sneers as we split a bottle of red wine in the Closet after classes.
“Oh, don’t complain. You’re eating with Fred, right?”
“Only because everyone else has dates,” she says distastefully.
“What about Scorp and Lars?” I suggest reasonably.
“Scorpius will be stalked by Rose, so that’s practically a date. And don’t pretend like you don’t know that Lars will leave halfway through to go have sex with some random girl in a broom closet.”
“He’s more classy than that,” I protest. “He’ll at least fuck her in a secret passageway.”
Clark snorts prettily and drains her glass of Burgundy.
“So Pete is going to be sitting with Sun, eh?”
“I always thought he should have been in Hufflepuff. Maybe he can marry in,” Clark says drily.
“Oh c’mon, he’s plenty... plenty...” I trail off, frowning. Why is Peter in Slytherin? He doesn’t have the family connections, like Scorpius, the driving ambition, like Grant, or the douchebag-ness, like Lars.
“Huh,” I relent, drinking my Scotch. “I never really thought about that.”
“I guess Al’s in Slytherin,” Clark allows. “So maybe their standards have fallen.”
“Oh, he’s not that bad!”
“Oh no. Jack. You did not just defend your boyfriend.”
“Oh god, what the hell was that?” I panic automatically. “I hate him!”
“Then why defend him?” Clark whispers, horror-struck.
“I do it all day! My fake-self is bound to bleed off into my real-self, just a bit! That’s all!”
“Fine. But Jack, I swear, if you get all nice and sweet and domestic on me, I will never speak to you again.”
“At least kill me first!”
“You’ve got yourself a deal.”
And we shake on it.
“So how come you’re not dressing like a slut anymore?” Clark asks, nodding at my school uniform, which is more prim and proper than sexy today.
“I’m getting the idea that Al likes ‘em sweet, not saucy,” I yawn, laying back onto a beanbag chair.
“Same reason you don’t curse or make inappropriate comments around him?”
“It is getting rather boring,” I allow. “At least you’ve been getting to hang out with Fred. He’s fun!”
“He’s also one of my sworn enemies.”
“No, James is your sworn enemy. Fred is just collateral damage.”
Clark Carter shrugs her perfectly sloped shoulders.
I roll my eyes.
“Hey, who’s James eating with, d’you know?” I ask as casually as possible. My best friend eyes me sidelong.
“Why do you want to know?” she asks carefully.
“I’m not sure,” I respond, truthfully. I really don’t know why. I just do.
“I don’t know, sorry.” She sighs.
“It’s okay to forgive him, Jack,” Clark says quietly, looking me in the eyes. She is serious.
“How can it be?” I despair, pouring the last of the wine into my glass. I’m not an alcoholic, I swear. There wasn’t that much in the bottle to begin with, okay?
“I’m sure he didn’t mean it. He was just being an idiot, we all know he is one.”
“But what if he did mean it?” I ask desperately, looking up into the concerned face of my best friend. “What if he really does think of me that way? What if everyone does?”
“No one thinks of you that way, Jack.” Clark gives me a side-hug, and I let my head fall onto her shoulder with a sigh. “And if they do, I’ll knock some sense into their crazy-ass brains.”
I laugh, a pitiful, hiccupy laugh.
“Thanks, Clark. You always know what to say.”
“Anything for you, love.”
“You do know that I love you, right?” I check carefully. I just... want to make sure that she knows. You know, in case I die today. I don’t want to have any regrets.
Live each day like it’s your last, right?
“I know.” Clark smiles at me, the fondness in her expression making up for the flat tone of the words. “And Jack?”
I pull my head off her shoulder and look at her.
“You have food stuck in your teeth.”
“Aw, really? Dammit.”
“For the last time, orange makes me look like a washed-out pumpkin!” I scold Clark, throwing her orange blouse back onto her bed with a disgusted look. “Honestly!”
“Oh, you should be more adventurous with your style.”
“You should be more adventurous,” I mock unattractively. Clark rolls her eyes, not honoring that with a response.
“What did you do to Calypso?” I call out accusingly, abandoning my search for a shirt in favor of a search for my kneazle.
“Just stepped on her tail a bit by accident, it’s no big deal,” Clark brushes it off, and I humph before sitting back down on my bed. After a second, Calypso appears seemingly out of nowhere and joins me.
“Are you alright, girl?” I coo, stroking her brindled head. She purrs deeply and pushes her head against my hand in affection.
“Aww, I love you too.”
“Ugh,” Clark eyes the magical creature with wary disgust. I told you, she’s not really an animal person.
“Can you please find me a shirt that isn’t hideous?” I ask impatiently. She rolls her eyes.
“How did I ever become friends with a person who cares so little about fashion?” Clark mutters to herself as she goes through her shirt drawer; we had to put an undetectable extension charm on it, she’s got so many tops.
“Because I’m awesome!” I say airily, petting my kneazle.
“I found it!” Clark yells triumphantly, after about a minute of totally ignoring my comment. I look up from Calypso warily, rather afraid of what my fashion-forward best friend thinks is ‘it’. After all, she herself is wearing deep red-orange dress that hugs every one of her curves, and a white leather jacket with gold studs and chains... you know, cuz the color isn’t noticeable enough. Her hair is in what she calls a “teased ponytail”, and white booties make her an astonishing 6’1”. The whole outfit looks incredible on her, to be sure, but I know for a fact that I could never pull it off.
Oh god, I’m going the hate the top, aren’t I.
I love it.
How has she never shown me that shirt before? I love it. So much.
It’s a bronze tank top, metallic and shimmering, with hints at autumn leaves within that shimmer. It looks silky, and the cut is flattering but geometric at the bottom, echoing my angular haircut.
“It’s beautiful,” I whisper, gently placing Calypso on the ground in order to touch the shiny material. It is so smooth and soft that it feels like water running through my fingers.
“Awesome.” Clark throws it unceremoniously at my chest. “Now get dressed, you’re still in your uniform, for the love of god.”
“You’re going to hell!” I sing, stripping off my blazer and button-down, and shimmying out of my skirt. Clark rolls her eyes and hands me my dark-wash jeans, which I am about to start searching for. I smile and pull them on, topping it off with that beautiful shirt.
“Here, take my jacket.” Clark hands me her black leather jacket (she has like three leather jackets: black, white, and red). I grin at her and pull it on, then slip into bronze ballet flats- I bought them for House pride. Go Ravenclaw!
We stop by the floor-length mirror hanging next to the door on our way out.
“Damn, we look good,” I murmur, twisting around to admire how shapely my ass looks in these jeans.
“Of course we do. Now come on,” Clark grabs my arm and pulls me unceremoniously out of the room, ruining my moment of pride in my looks. I almost never feel that, you know. I’m not actually all that pretty, just a bit; and usually I’m dirty and messy and stained with some sort of animal... something.
We run down from the tower, using secret passageways liberally. We’re late, because Clark took forever to get ready, and I didn’t have any nice shirts to wear, so I had to wait for her to pick one out for me.
“Is your boyfriend going to be mad that we’re late?” Clark asks as we sprint down some stairs.
“I don’t care,” I pant.
“Suuuure you don’t,” Clark mutters sarcastically. I don’t understand how she’s not out of breath. Then again, she does run much more than I do.
I should really start working out with her again. I did it last year, and I actually got into really good shape.
“Stop.” Clark pulls me to a sudden stop before the door of the Great Hall. Within, hundreds of students are clustered around the House tables, chattering, their combined voices rising to an unbelievable volume level.
“What?” I ask, confused. Then I notice that her lips are pursed together, and she looks almost... nervous. “What’s wrong?”
“What if he makes a move on me?”
“Who, Fred?” She nods.
“Then just tell him to fuck off. You’ve done it before. Go crash Lars and his slut-of-the-week when he leaves crying.”
“But I want us to be friends!”
“Clark. He likes you. He wants to be more than friends, so the friends faze won’t last forever.”
“Dammit! Why do guys always ruin it by wanting to be more than just friends?”
“Clark, not all guys like you. Remember Grant and Lars and Scorp and Pete? Okay, that last one is a bad example. But my point is, Fred likes you. Not all guys. Him.”
“But I like him too! As a friend!” She bites her lip, looking angry and confused and panicked at the same time. I let out a little laugh as I realize something.
My best friend is even worse at relationships than I am.
“Relax, Clark. Just take it one day at a time. Tonight, you’re friends and nothing more.”
“Yeah. Yeah, okay.” She turns suddenly to narrow her eyes at me. “Never tell anyone about this, understood?”
“I would never even think of it!” I cry, holding up my hands in mock-surrender. Clark rolls her eyes but smiles.
“Anything for you. See you after, then?”
And we head our separate ways.
“So, um...” Michael awkwardly attempts to make conversation with me, for about the sixteenth time. His girlfriend, Haley, and Albus are chattering about some Muggle Studies lesson they just had, while Adam and his younger brother, Victor, are arguing about some Wizarding comic book crap.
“So, um, what?” I mock, not really in the mood. I stab at my pumpkin pie grumpily, squashing it down into mush. I don’t really like pumpkin pie. And this night sucks.
I am so bored.
“Are you going to be at the game tomorrow?”
We decided this yesterday, I think bitchily, but decide to answer him anyways, for something (anything!) to do.
“Yeah, of course. I’ll be sitting with Clark. What about you?”
“Yep, me too. Haley and I love quidditch games.”
Haley, hearing her name, smiles fondly at Michael, who grins soppily back. They are the most codependent couple ever, I swear to god. And what’s even more creepy, they could be siblings: they both have the same light brown hair and denim-blue eyes, with delicate noses and statures more on the short side of the spectrum (Michael’s an inch shorter than me, and Haley is only around 5’2”). It’s weird. It would be like me dating Grant.
Just plain wrong.
“So you and Michael seem to be getting along,” Albus whispers in my ear as he takes my hand. I squeeze his hand and nod, forcing myself to look him in his bottle-green eyes. If I don’t, he’ll know I’m lying.
And I will never get Albus Potter to love me if he knows I hate his friends.
We all lapse into silence, then Victor brings up some wizarding band I’ve never heard of (I much prefer Muggle music), and everybody else starts talking about that. I sigh and collapse back into my chair.
I wish something would happen.
“HEY!” A sharp voice rings out across the hall, even over the cacophony of voices. I- along with everyone else- turn in my seat to find the source. A boy is striding over to our Slytherin table, a furious expression on his face.
“YOU SLEPT WITH MY GIRLFRIEND?!” he explodes, and now I know what is going on.
Hey, I guess wishes do come true.
“Technically, she slept with me too!” Lars calls out, and I stand up, ready to defend my friend.
Just as soon as I stop laughing.
“YOU FUCKING BASTARD!” the guy yells, and Lars runs over to me with a squeak.
“What is wrong with you, you pansy?” I hiss as Al watches on with a dumbstruck expression.
“I don’t have my wand with me!” Lars panics, and I roll my eyes, chuckling a bit. Oh, that idiot.
“I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” Angry Guy screams, and I pull out my wand, shoving Lars behind me.
“Impedi-” I start, but someone beats me to it.
Angry Guy falls to the ground, felled by a nonverbal stunning spell.
“Show’s over, everyone!” Clark yells, pointing her wand at staring groups of people in turn. “Resume eating!”
“Thanks, Clark!” Lars yells, and hundreds of people laugh. Clark glares, and they fall silent. Madame Triste, the dour school nurse, climbs down from the staff table to take care of Angry Guy.
I whirl around to face my friend.
“You slept with his girlfriend?”
“She’s hot,” Lars shrugs. I grab his arm and pull him down on the bench next to me, secretly glad to have an excuse to include one of my friends in our meal. I was seriously bored.
“You need therapeutic help.”
“Only if it’s you and me on that couch, baby,” he winks at me, and I can’t help but smile, even if it is a condescending smile. It isn’t Lars’s fault he’s a bit inappropriate; he’s a serial flirt.
Al shoots him a kinda-pissed look, which I ignore.
At least something happened tonight, right?
“Your boyfriend’s a charmer,” Lars whispers in my ear, and I can’t help but shiver a bit. Have I mentioned he’s hot?
“That he is,” I mutter back drily. “Funny, too.”
“Everything’s going good, though?”
“Fine ‘n dandy!”
Lars laughs. Truthfully, I’m glad that someone tried to kill him, because that means I can keep him here with me under the pretense of making sure he doesn’t get himself into any more trouble. Really though, I just need a friend with me. I’m not comfortable with my boyfriend and his friends, not yet.
Maybe I never will be.
I’m a single girl at heart, it seems.
And maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.
A/N: This one is a bit of a filler chapter, but if you look hard there are some important tidbits in there ;) As always, read and review!
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