Chapter 3 : Why Basil blames society
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Something wonderful was happening.
I didn’t know what it was yet, but I knew, in the back of my sleeping mind, that it was wonderful and was going to make me very happy.
I cracked one eye open, and was engulfed by the sight of something bright and golden. I opened the other. Still this mass clouded my vision. In a small moment of panic I began to claw at my face, discovering that the mass was Gwendolyn’s hair and that she had a freakishly large amount of it.
“GWENDOLYN MOON KINDLY REMOVE THIS MOUND OF MERMAIDE HAIR FROM MY FACE!”
As I struggled to free myself of the strands, Gwen let out a low, animalistic growl. The hair slowly slid off my face, and when I glanced over, I saw that she had rolled all the way over to the floor, where she was sprawled, shirt hiked up, frilly pink knickers on wide display.
It was odd, seeing Gwendolyn in frilly pink. I believed her underwear should be decorated with snakes, or curse words.
“Roxanne, you are a goddess,”
This was Basil speaking, and I looked over to the kitchen to see him standing bleary-eyed by the fridge, staring in awe at Roxanne who was busily flitting around the stove in her nightie.
She would wear a nightie. Roxanne is prime nightie-wearing material.
Gwen and I, on the other hand, were happy as clams in those oh so popular over-sized shirts girls like to sleep in. Fred had sadly pointed out to us one day how unfair it was that girls looked coyly sexy in them, while guys looked like they should own a large white van full of illegal wares. We had agreed, and begged him to put some pants on.
My attention was drawn back to the kitchen at the sound of Basil’s embarrassed cough. It seemed he had forgotten himself in his early-morning state, and actually spoken words to Roxie. He was now looking in the other direction while Rox stirred the mushrooms in her pan, blushing furiously.
Mushrooms! That’s what was wonderful. Roxie was cooking breakfast.
I loved that small child, I really did.
I disentangled myself from the various blankets I had been sleeping on, reached over to pull Gwen’s shirt back over her bottom, and stood, stretching as I surveyed the room around me.
After a rather violent fight last night, in which we broke two plates and Rox lost several tufts of her hair, we reached a pact that no one would get the two single beds, and instead we recreated the mound on the floor and crashed there like a pile of sardines. Now the mound was an empty tangle in the middle of the room, one I felt no one was going to clean up ever.
It was early, the sun filtering through the windows bright and fresh. I could hear the waves crash in the distance, and the air smelt like salt. Basil had begun to set the cottage’s small wooden table with mismatched plates, and Roxanne was still cooking, singing something softly under her breath. James was nowhere in sight.
“Good day my colourful cupcakes, it’s about time you got the fuck up.”
I stand corrected, he had just walked through the front door in his swimmers, dripping water onto the wooden floor. We stared at him dopily.
“James, I speak for us all when I say why the fuck?” Basil said, glancing at the boy’s wet hair. James grinned, seeming to think it was a compliment, and walked into the room leaving a trail of wet footprints in his wake.
“You make me feel like an old woman,” I sighed, passing him a towel. He took it gratefully and proceeded to rub himself dry.
“You do look like a gaggle of elders,” He told us, shaking his head like a dog and sending droplets flying, “yes, you too Basil. There’s you, Roxanne, in a nightie and an apron. And Bas, are those slippers?”
Basil shrugged, “I prefer to call them Manccasins: slippers for men.”
“That doesn’t stop them from being slippers Bas. And look at Gwen’s underwear!”
“Oh Gwen.” I went and pulled her shirt down again.
“And Ana,” James went on. I turned around, while he stared pensively at me, “I see an ancientness in your eyes. Also, I know for a fact that you own and use a shower cap.”
“Stop judging us and make yourself useful,” Roxanne quipped, pointing at the fridge with her wooden spoon. “Pour everyone a glass of orange juice.”
Roxanne had soon finished cooking, and the boys settled around the table like pair of hungry children. I grabbed the plate of mushrooms, and carried it over to Gwen.
“Wake up, dear,” I murmured, waving the delicious fumes under her nose, “a world of mushrooms awaits you.”
Gwendolyn Moon is not a morning person, and flaunts this fact admirably.
“We also have toast, and muesli, and orange juice I’ll let you pour a little rum into.”
“Just out of curiosity, how many types of booze did we bring with us?” Basil asked from his seat over at the kitchen table.
Gwen raised a bleary, messy head, face hidden behind her gold curtain. “Two bottles of vodka, one of tequila, one of rum, three of firewhiskey, four of some very cheap wine, and I think one or two of gin. Also beer.” She was now up on her two feet, and speaking assertively. I think the mention of rum in her OJ did the trick. “Now, where’s my morning cocktail?”
I was right, as I so often am. Why do people not take me more seriously?
“I was just bluffing, dear.” I told her kindly.
“James - ”
“Wait wait Basil, I’ve got this one,” I said, “James, why the fuck?”
“James why-the-fuck Potter, it’s a thing now.” Roxanne said happily. Basil shot her a small glance with a small smile, which she didn’t notice.
Those guys. Seriously.
“You’re a bunch of weakling rodents!” James called down to us, from his high perch on The Very Large Rock. He was holding onto miniscule dents in the stone, leaning back slightly, the breeze whipping his hair around. I could see he felt very majestic up there, above the world, the wind in his mane, the sun on his skin. Like an experienced seaman. But from down here, it looked a little awkward. Also like he was about to tumble down at any minute. Roxanne let out a growl beside me, and stormed over to the foot of the rock.
“JAMES POTTER, YOU GET DOWN FROM THAT ROCK RIGHT NOW, OR I SWEAR TO FUCK I WILL START THROWING STARFISH AT YOU!”
She was not amused.
“She scares me sometimes,” I whispered, taking a step away from her. Basil was now by my elbow, and he chuckled.
“Do you ever imagine what it would be like without her?” He asked me. When I raised my eyebrows, he shook his head, “Not what you think, sweet cheeks, I mean without her taking care of everything.”
“Don’t blame me, blame society.”
I laughed, “Chaos would reign without Roxanne, Bas. We’d go hungry and cold, Gwen would probably forget to dress herself. James would be dead soon.”
“I picture something catastrophic.”
We watched James and Roxanne reason with eachother for a moment. Roxy was wearing her bikini top and a long high waisted skirt. The wind was pulling the skirt around her legs, and her curls out of its two buns. She looked like she belonged on the ad for some cute art camp in the Caribbean.
“Do you think she realises?” Basil asked, suddenly and softly. I glanced at him, and he was staring at Rox, who was gesturing up at James like an angry pixie.
“That she’s so delightful.”
“Oh.” I bit my lip. No, I thought, and she doesn’t realise you think it either. But I said, “You know, I think she was simply born delightful.”
“YOU WILL NOT HOLD ME BACK ROXANNE!” James’ sudden declaration drew our attention back over to the rock. He had resumed climbing, with added fervour this time. Roxanne stared up at him for a couple of seconds, before storming back over to us.
“James is a bitch,” she told us, “I’m going to go find some throwables.”
“You do realise that knocking him down is a little counterproductive, right?” I told her.
“Ana, you’re not supposed to be reasonable!”
“I’m full of surprises. Where’s the Gwendolator at?”
“Tanning her bottom behind some dunes.” Roxanne told me. “Did you want to go find her? We just have to look out for the one place the animals and wind have deserted.”
“She’s like a dark queen.” Basil mused.
“The dark queen of the mermaids,” I agreed.
“Let’s bring offerings of fruit and lemonade to appease her.” Roxanne suggested.
I glanced up at the rock as we were leaving, and saw James standing on the very top, hands on his hips, staring out into the ocean. “James, I just saved your life!” I called out to him as I walked away.
“I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!”
I had kindly told Basil to fuck off when we found Gwen. Gwendolyn herself wouldn’t mind Bas seeing her naked, but I wasn’t sure Roxanne would like to catch him staring at another undressed woman. So now it was just the three of us, spread out on our blankets, and picking off the plate of fruit we had brought with us. Two little topless bodies and one completely naked one.
“As lovely as this is, I don’t think I want to be stranded on this beach for six whole weeks.” Gwen was saying. She stretched, and swapped sides.
I was a lot more used to full frontal Gwendolyn than you would think.
“We’re not house-bound… beach-bound?” Roxanne frowned, “Anyway, we don’t have to spend every waking hour here. We can go into town some nights, and Al’s got his party in a week. Fred’s sure to bring some wild ideas if he comes.”
“We should invite some people here as well.” I suggested, “have a fire on the beach. Then tell them all to fuck off after, there’s not enough room in the cottage.”
“I like that idea.”
We stayed silent for a while, as we enjoyed the feeling of the beach and breeze and sound of the ocean. I was thinking about what would happen after this six week bubble of sunshine and lemonade. It was strange, to know I would not be taking school back up in September like I had been every year for so long. It was weird to think that I would soon have my own flat. My own rent. I was looking forward to doing the food shopping.
“So Emerson, is he single?” I asked Gwen after a while. She chuckled.
“Yeah I think so. Doesn’t believe in the bonds of a generic relationship, so he just has short term sex agreements with various girls. They’re always called something silly, like Rainbow, or Waterfall. It’s bullshit.”
“I could have a short term sex agreement with someone.” I mused. I was surprised when my friends didn’t scoff kindly. Then a little offended. “Do you lot agree?”
“Well, it’s not like you’re the relationship type, Ana.” Said Roxanne.
“You’re not the one night stand type either.” Gwen added. I stared at the frayed edges of my blanket, and frowned.
“I’ve never done either of those things, so I can’t really know.” I pointed out.
“The fact that you haven’t done does prove they’re probably not your thing.”
I preferred to ignore that distressing comment.
“At least you’re the sex type,” Roxanne sighed, pouting a little. Little Roxy was the only virgin left of our trio. I had lost mine last year to James’ cousin Louis. We had been snogging every now and then in the library, and in a fit of boredom and curiosity, decided to go all the way. It was the first time for both of us. Cute, but more painful than regrowing bones. Gwen lost hers in fifth year to some seventeen year old vegan that wore lots of band shirts. Unlike me, she had had many sexual partners since then.
“Go for it with Basil, I doubt he’d say no,” was Gwen’s suggestion. I peeked over at Roxanne to see her reaction. She was staring at her hands, and frowning.
“I want to. But I already feel like shit when we ignore eachother after kissing. So after my fist time having sex…”
“Step one would be to end this silent thing you have going on,” I suggested softly. “Sober.”
“No can do love, it’s a physical impossibility.”
“You guys talked before you started getting.”
“I know. We can’t have both at the same time. It would create some kind of paradigm. The world would collapse.”
“Then let the world burn, Rox,” said Gwen, “but don’t let that stop you from getting what you want.”
“Roxanne, truth or dare.”
“I still can’t believe we’re playing this fucking game.” Gwen whispered, hands clutched angrily around her mug of tea. It was night time, and we were inside, huddled together on our mound of bedding. I had just had my turn, and was passing it on to Roxy.
“Fuck,” I hated finding ideas for this thing.“Tell us someone you’re embarrassed to find attractive. Someone we know.”
“Embarrassed?” Rox took a sip of her tea in a puzzled manner, “I don’t… oh.” Her eyes widened.
“Is he old?” James asked, smirking.
“Fuck Rox, I thought you were the innocent one.”
“It’s Scorpius Malfoy!” She said, very fast. A faint blush rose to her dark cheeks. “I don’t know what it is…”
“The white hair? The rat-like features? The milky pale skin?” James seemed to be finding this very amusing.
“I have no fucking clue,” Roxanne sighed, looking defeated, “I just do. Never repeat this to anyone. In fact, forget it immediately.”
“You know we won’t, right?” I told her, smiling widely. “Your turn though.”
Roxanne rolled her eyes, and looked around at our small circle. I saw her bite her lip. Take a deep breath. And say: “Bas, truth or dare?”
Basil look momentarily surprised under his mop of brown hair, but then answered in an almost easy manner, “Double dare, Rox. Give me your best.”
“Have you ever heard of a spell that can make your teeth grow? It’s reversible,” she grinned, “I think you see where I’m going with this.”
“I want photographic evidence,” James exclaimed, making a leap for his bag. Basil was touching his front teeth with a concerned look on his face.
“I did not expect this of you.” He told Roxanne solemnly.
“You should be more sparing with your double dares my friend.” She answered. I watched their exchange, smiling. It didn’t seem like much, but it was a start.
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