Chapter 5 : The Not so True Truth of the Matter
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Around me my classmates all we chanting the incantation in frustration. James and Freddy were next to me, not doing much better than our peers.
Freddy had managed to charm a bubble onto the top half of his head while earlier in the lesson James had trapped his whole body in a rather large one. Professor Flitwick in his old age had hurried over and popped the bubble with his wand setting James free.
"It's no fair! Why do you have to be such a natural at charms?" James complained as a few bubbles shot out of the end of his wand.
"I'm sorry Mr. Top-of-the-class-in-Transfiguration," I retorted good-naturedly. James stuck out his tongue like the five year old he was and I lowered myself to his level by doing the same.
"I don't know what I' doing wrong!" Freddy exclaimed beside me as he once again only managed to produce half a bubble on his head.
"Do it again, I'll see if I can spot where you're going wrong," I suggested. Freddy said the incantation and flourished his wand, and a thick clear bubble shot out from the end of it and stuck itself upon his head.
"You're wand movement is too jerky Fred. Try it like this," I said fluidly moving my wand and producing a bubble upon my head.
"Well done Ms. Crawford! Keep up the good work!" Professor Flitwick squeaked from the top of a large stack of books. James rolled his eyes and Freddy groaned.
"Too bad you weren't in Ravenclaw Ash. You'd probably be Flitwick's very own child prodigy," James remarked.
"Oh hush up. You're just jealous. Try it one more time Fred- like I showed you."
Freddy waved his wand again, careful to make his hand movements as fluid as possible, and James and I watched as a large bubble shot out from the end of his wand and completely covered his head.
"I did it!" He shouted, his voice echoing a tad from the bubble. I raised my hand and high-fived him.
"One down, one to go," I said turning to James.
"Good luck with that one, he's as thick as can be," Freddy snickered from beside me.
"Oi!" James shouted indignantly. I pushed him back into his seat and shot a glare at Freddy.
"Now, show me your wand movement," I prompted.
An hour later we exited class. James had only gotten down the charm in the last ten minutes, and his face was still shining with pride.
As we made our way down to the Great Hall for dinner a red haired figure appeared from beside me and yanked me out of earshot.
James and Freddy stopped to wait for me but I waved them on. It was apparent by the distressed look on Rose's face that this could take a while.
Rose led me behind a tapestry and checked to make sure nobody was too close to our hiding spot before speaking.
"I have a problem."
"Okay," I toned, and it came out sounding more like a question than a statement.
"It's about Scorpius." She whispered, her hazel eyes wide with worry.
"Well what's the problem?" I asked leaning against the wall with my arms folded in front of me. Rose pushed a lock of fire red hair behind her ear.
"So we've sort of been seeing each other since the quiditch match..." she started. "But now he wants to tell Albus. He thinks we shouldn't keep this from him. And I know they're best mates mad all but... if Albus knows, then the whole family will know. Does that make sense?" She whispered quickly.
I didn't answer for a moment as I pondered her dilemma. "You don't think you can trust Albus not to say anything?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Merlin no. I love him, he's my cousin and all but... He's been trying to get me and Scorpius to be friends for the past four years. But he's also very protective. I don't think what he had in mind was for his best mate and his cousin to be snogging each other senseless every chance they got."
I let out a laugh and Rose glared at me. "It's not funny Ashley!" She exclaimed. Her ears were beginning to turn red in anger.
"Look Rose, I know you don't want to tell your family. But if you keep seeing Scorpius you're going to have to eventually. And knowing you're family I think you should get it over with sooner rather than later. As for Albus...that's up to you and Scorpius to decide. But if my cousin and best mate were sneaking around behind my back I don't think I'd feel to good. It's better to tell him the truth. Besides, he'll get over it eventually."
Rose huffed and looked away from me. "You're right of course," she said after a while.
"I always am," I answered smirking at her. She punched my arm and shook her head.
"When should I tell the family?" She asked.
"I would personally do it when everyone is around. If you tell them one by one it'll spread like fire and I wouldn't be surprised if they showed up at the school to confront you about it."
"You really think they'd do that?" She asked, her eyes wide with horror. I laughed again.
"You're kidding right? Honestly Rose, I love your family to death, but they're all a bunch of overprotective nutters." She grimaced slightly as my words sunk in. I could almost see the picture she was imagining.
"It'll be fine. As long as you're sure you really like the bloke?" I asked as I placed an arm around her shoulders comfortingly.
Rose leaned her head on my shoulder and her red hair mixed with my chocolate tresses. "You know, I hated him from the moment we met. Stupid Malfoy strutting about like he owned the bloody place. But now...he's changed. We both have. He makes me happy," she said smiling slightly.
"Good. Because if I hear he so much as makes you cry I will personally hex him into oblivion myself." Rose laughed and gave me a shove.
"C'mon. Before we miss dinner." I said leading he way out from behind the tapestry. She rolled her eyes and fell in step with me.
"You and your stomach," she muttered shooting me a smile.
Once we had arrived at the Great Hall I split from Rose so that I could sit with my dorm mates seeing as I neglected them enough as it was. I'd like to think that we were all quite close, but seeing as I didn't spend time with them often it probably wasn't true.
"Can it be?" Kendall, a tall blonde asked sarcastically as I sat down next to her.
"Is that really Ashley Crawford?" She asked prodding me lightly to make sure I was real.
"Nah, she never sits with us Kendall. She's probably sitting down by James and Freddy," Sarah said from across the table.
Sarah was also blonde, but her hair was shoulder length and her cheeks always had a rosy color to them.
I rolled my eyes and began to load my plate. "Not fair guys, you know I try to spend time with you too." I argued.
Taylor, a short brunette who resembled a fairy because of her pixie cut hair and short stature tutted.
"Really? C'mon guys. I still come to girls night!" I said again looking to Zoe on my right.
"We know. It's just we never see you it feels like. You're always off with James or Freddy," she said quietly.
I looked to all of them in turn. "I really am sorry guys. Can I make it up to you?"
"Well now that you mention it...we were going to go shopping during the next Hogsmeade trip if you wanted to come," Taylor said thoughtfully.
"I can't, me and-" but I stopped as I realized all of their faces had fallen.
"Actually. That sounds great. Merlin knows I could use a new jumper." Sarah smiled at me from across the table and Kendall nudged me in a buddy-buddy sort of fashion.
Sitting next to the other girls me and Kendall towered over them at 5'11" in height. Often times when we would be shopping in London modeling agencies would stop Kendall and ask her to model for them, she was just that gorgeous.
"So, what's the latest news with everybody?" I asked as I dug in to my mashed potatoes.
"Other than the fact that I absolutely stink at charms, then not much," Zoe said from beside me looking glum.
Zoe hated to admit it but she often struggled with her classes even though her mum and dad were a witch and wizard.
"What about you Ashely? Any new relationships?" Kendall asked wiggling her eyebrows at me.
"Me? Oh no. Half the blokes here aren't even dating material." I said absentmindedly as I picked up my goblet to have a sip of pumpkin juice.
"Hmm, that's funny. Are you sure?" Taylor asked looking politely puzzled.
"I'm sorry. Am I missing something?"
"Well I mean Fred Weasley keeps stealing glances over here, so we were just wondering."Sarah said nonchalantly.
I choked on my pumpkin juice quite hard. "I beg your pardon?" I spluttered wiping my mouth on a napkin.
"He's totally checking you out." Zoe commented.
I shook my head. "No. Guys, we're best mates. I promise you nothing is going on." Then I added as an afterthought "He's probably just checking out Kendall. He's always had a thing for blondes."
Beside me me Kendall shook her head slightly. "Sorry Ash, but its common knowledge that Fred has a taste for brunettes in particular."
"Well then maybe it's just a coincidence" I snapped becoming quite fed up with this conversation. The other girls didn't answer and I shook my head in exasperation.
"Why is it that everywhere I go people always feel the need to ask me if I've gotten together with James or Freddy? I'm not a bloody whore!" I yelled causing a few people to glance over our way, including James and Freddy.
But I had slammed down my fork and knife and risen from the table. "I'm sorry, but I need to catch up on some homework." And with that I stormed out of the Great Hall causing quite few heads to turn.
Unbeknownst to me James had followed me out of the Great Hall, and he scared to me half to death when he spoke suddenly from behind.
"Is everything all right?" His voice was soft and low, and he looked unsure. Potter boys tended not to know how to react to emotional women, but their hearts were always in the right place.
"It's fine," I grunted as I let him catch up to me.
We walked in silence for a while, headed no where in particular. I appreciated that James didn't try to ask questions about what had happened in the Great Hall, and I felt that his presence seemed to have a calming effect on me.
A few minutes later we found ourselves outside of the hidden entrance to the Room of Requirement. James paced in front of it and a door appeared seconds later. I let him lead me inside and I took in the comfy sofas and the fire which was flickering along the fall wall. The room was warm and had a cozy feel to it.
"Nice," I commented taking a seat. James sat down at the other end of the sofa and I positioned myself so that my head was lying in his lap. He began to massage my temples for me and I closed my eyes letting the feeling take over.
"This is nice," I commented lazily. James mumbled in agreement.
"Freddy told me about you wanting to work with dragons."
I groaned and opened my eyes so that I could view his face sideways. "Please James, I'm not in the mood."
"No, no! I wasn't going to talk you out of it."
"I think it's a great idea."
"You do?" He nodded and stopped massaging my temples. I sat up and he conjured up two cups of tea.
"You have to understand. Freddy cares about you, so he's just worried is all. But me, well I know you can look after yourself. Plus I think the thought of you fighting off a dragon is totally bad ass." He smirked over at me as I blew on my tea.
We sat in silence for a couple minutes more before talking again. "My dormmates think that Fred has the hots for me." I said suddenly causing James to spit out some of his tea.
"My reaction exactly," I mumbled looking down at the spots of pumpkin juice on the front of my robes from earlier.
He peered at me intently but didn't speak. A stony look had passed over his face momentarily, but it was gone as quick as it had appeared so I brushed the thought aside.
"I got mad because, obviously he doesn't." I went on. James nodded slowly as he continued to study me. He seemed to be pondering something, but he didn't voice whatever he was thinking about, and I didn't force him too. That was what was so great about being his best friend, we knew when to give the other some space.
"What was the whole whore thing about?" He asked after a moment. "Is that related to the Freddy thing?"
"Yes and no. It's complicated." I explained as I set down my empty mug on a side table and drew my knees up to my chest.
"I'm guessing you don't really feel like talking about it." James commented. I nodded, my chin hitting on my knees in the process.
"That's alright. When you're ready I'll be right here."
I looked over at him suddenly overcome with a feeling of gratitude. He opened his arm and I snuggled up into his side, my head resting on his shoulder. He draped his arm around my shoulders lazily and rested his head on mine. The whole side of my body was on fire from the heat his body was giving off but I didn't mind. I was perfectly content right where I was at.
I had the fleeting thought I could get used to this, but I pushed it to the back of my mind. Little fantasies such as that one were dangerous, and they would poison our friendship in a second.
Instead I stared into the fire for a long time, watching the flames lick at the logs in its hearth. As my eyes became heavy I gave in to the voice in my mind telling me to shut them. I hadn't realized I had fallen asleep, but when I woke up I was back in my dormitory in my four poster bed.
After my eyes had adjusted to the darkness I could make out that a knit blanket that Grandmum Weasley had knit me for my birthday was draped over me carefully. I smiled at the sight. I briefly wondered how James had managed to get me back into my dormitory since boys were not allowed up the stairs.
After looking around me some more I realized that I wasn't actually in my dormitory, rather the boys. I could make out James scent on my pillow, and light snores punctuated the otherwise silent room.
I looked over the side of the bed and saw James lying on the floor on top of a mattress which he must have conjured. I once again felt a sense of gratitude overcome me and my stomach jolted a bit involuntarily.
I watched him sleep for a moment, noticing how his face was scrunched up just a tad, and that he clutched onto his pillow. He was wearing a Puddlemere United shirt and he was using an orange Chudley Cannons blanket to sleep with.
Smiling I lay back on my bed-or actually James's bed- and fell back asleep, surrounded by the familiar and comforting scent of James.
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