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Chapter 14 : albus! albus! albus!
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“You’re in your school uniform.”
“Yeah, but my skirt’s one inch and a half shorter. And my tie is a bit longer- does that make my waist look slimmer? It said that in Witch Weekly…”
It was a month since Aspen and Scorpius had broken up, and Aspen had already been asked out on a date by several boys in our year and the year above. She had politely declined them, out of respect to some One Month rule in the Things Every Modern Day Women Should Know hardback Oscar had given me for Christmas. It stated that mutual break-ups resulting in friendship had to wait a month before either could start dating, and yesterday marked exactl
y thirty days on the dot. Aspen was absolutely elated when Julius Ascot started talking to her in the library this morning, which I didn’t really understand, because it was just Julius Ascot.
“It’s just Julius Ascot,” I said.
“Exactly!” she cried.
“Kieran O’Hara is so much fitter-”
“Yes, well, unfortunately for him, he asked me out during my mourning stage-”
“Stop referring to the month period as a mourning stage!” I cried. “Scorpius isn’t dead!”
She rolled her eyes. “Julius has had early acceptance to Healer school in New York,” she said smugly. Julius Ascot was a Ravenclaw in the year above, with curly black hair and tanned skin. His nose was long and straight, and he had what Oscar called Hollywood teeth, an epic shade of white that looked almost unnatural.
I gasped and clutched a hand to my heart, and Aspen rolled her eyes, hitting me with her pillow.
“I have to go to Quidditch practise,” I said, swinging my kit bag over my shoulder. “See you in Transfiguration.”
“Okay!” she said happily, reclining on her bed and returning to her Charms textbook. It was lunchtime, but they were serving sausages and mashed potato, and we both agreed to go hungry rather than eat it. To be honest, everyone in our Defence against the Dark Arts class did, after we started learning about an absolutely disgusting looking enchantment that had the effect of turning human limbs into figments that resembled the sausages almost exactly.
“I am never eating another sausage in my life,” deadpanned Louis Weasley, and we all nodded.
“Effy!” said Danny, as I walked into the Ravenclaw changing rooms. “Fantastic, right on time, as usual.” I looked around and saw the six other people in the team fully dressed, and frowned.
“Oh!” I cried suddenly. “You’re being sarcastic.”
Danny rolled his eyes. “Get changed,” he said. “Meet us outside in five minutes.”
Everybody filed out, and I walked into the deserted girls’ changing room. It was chilly, and an icy wind blew gently as the door closed. I got unchanged quickly, my limbs shivering as I pulled my Quidditch jersey over my bra, smirking at myself in the mirror as I always did when I saw 21 cased on the royal blue material, in shiny bronze letters, and WILDERSON in the same style at the back.
I grabbed my broomstick from the closet and walked outside, slinging my hair up into a loose ponytail with one of Aspen’s scrunchies, the exact same shade as my uniform.
“Sorry!” I cried, rushing over to where the group were huddled. “I was-”
"Fine," said Danny, dismissing my apology. "Fine. I was just saying how I'll be concentrating on the Chasers and Keeprs for the first half, and the Beaters for the second."
"So what do I do?"
"Classic," said Mikey in a patronising tone. "Making everything all about yourself." He smirked at me as Liam snorted and I fake-laughed.
"Oh Mikey, you are so funny-"
"That's enough," said Danny. "You can help the Beaters practise, Effy. Be their target as you catch the snitch. Okay?" We all nodded. "Alright. Come on- Lancaster, Swift..."
The practise went on well enough until Indigo Coates sent a particularly good- or in my case, bad- hit at me, which caused me to fall off my broom, onto the muddy pitch beneath me.
"Oh my God!" cried Indigo, flying down. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I said, sitting up and rubbing my elbow. I wasn't looking forward to the bruise tomorrow. "Oh, fuck, I'm covered in mud..."
"You're caked in mud," said Mikey, flying down with Danny, Lara and Josh.
"Are you hurt?" asked Danny. "No? Even so, take the rest of practise off. Go shower."
"I thought the showers were broken," piped up Lara.
I scowled at Indigo, as Mikey helped me up.
Thankfully, it was class time, so the corridors were empty, but my shoes were oozing muddy water all over the floors, and I winced at every squelch. Imagine if it hadn’t been during class time, and Danny hadn’t gotten Flitwick’s permission to let us all miss fifth period. I don’t think I could live with the humiliation of it all.
“Oh my god- Wilderson?”
“Yes,” I hissed, as James Potter, Freddie Weasley and Alfie Ronson turned round the corridor, and walked towards me.
“What happened?” asked Alfie, as Freddie and James burst out laughing.
I crossed my arms, and scowled. “I fell in the mud,” I snapped.
“You are caked in dirt,” howled Freddie.
“Why didn’t you use the changing room showers?” persisted Alfie, looking concerned.
“Apparently they’re broken,” I said, rolling my eyes. Of course this would happen to me.
“Unlucky,” said James, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and Freddie was overcome by another round of laughs. It was the first time I had heard his voice in what seemed like ages. Urgh, his voice was perfect, the perfect combination of a husky, cockney twang with a mainly sharp British accent, his voice low and with undertones of velvet.
“We have to go,” said Alfie, smiling slightly. “See you later.”
We went our separate ways, until I heard footsteps running behind me. I turned around, and saw James jog up, as Alfie and Freddie turned round the corridor, deep in discussion.
“The Prefect bathroom is closer,” he said, ruffling the back of his hair, looking slightly embarrassed. “The password’s Lucinda, and there’s a really bitchy mermaid by the bath.”
“Oh- thank you,” I said, smiling. “Where-”
“It’s kind of obstructed,” he said. “It’s down the corridor, and then to your left, towards Charms- but then there’s a trick staircase which is sometimes there but if not, you have to do a U-turn and walk through a small passage opposite some statue of Helga Hufflepuff-”
“You know, it’s fine,” I said, interrupting him. “I’ll use my dorm shower.”
“Don’t be so noble,” he said slightly crabbily. “That’s a ten minute walk from here. Look, you’re dripping. I’ll walk you.”
“What about Freddie and Alfie-”
“They’re just going back to our common room,” said James. “We have a free period. Come on, it’s this way.”
“Are you sure-”
“Come on, Wilderson!”
I rolled my eyes, and strode quickly up to him, until we were walking in sync.
“Why was Alton getting you to roll around in mud?” James asked, as we walked through the empty corridor.
"He didn't, not really. I was knocked off my broom."
He looked down at me as I spoke. James was tall, and whilst I wasn’t small, I still came up to his chin, and I couldn’t help but lift my head slightly to look him in the eye.
He then turned his head swiftly from me to ahead of him.
“So what’s new?” he asked, after an elongated moment.
He paused. “Yeah.”
Oh, James. I had a dream about having sex with you the other night, and was very disappointed when I woke up. Not with James, but with the concept that it wasn’t, at all, realistic.
“Nothing,” I said shortly, and then added, “not really. You?”
He ran his hand through his hair. “Listen, Effy, I-”
Poppy Atticus, in all her wavy, strawberry blonde hair glory, came walking sharply around the end of the corridor, and she looked livid. This was weird, because we has usually maintained friendly contact, especially through Ophelia.
“Did you tell Albus I liked him?” she cried.
“Nooooo,” I drawed out, and James sniggered. “Someone told Ophelia who told Scorpius who told Mikey who told-”
“This is so embarrassing!” she shot, flicking her hair over her shoulder. “He kept on laughing at me in Potions today! And- wait! You’re not even a prefect!”
“I’m letting her use it on my authority,” said James, smoothly. “Is there a problem with that?”
She looked startled, like she just noticed him. “Of course not,” she said quickly. “I don’t even have a free period, I’m just bunking Ancient Runes to avoid Albus again- oh wait, sorry, I forgot you’re brothers-”
James snorted. “It’s fine,” he said. “I should be going before the boys send out a search party.”
“You were saying something before?” I called, as he started walking off.
“It doesn’t matter,” he called back, and I turned away from him, rolling my eyes in annoyance.
“Oh sorry,” said Poppy. “Was I interrupting something?”
“Not really,” I said, wearily. “So where is this bathroom?”
“Come with me,” she said, and she spent the rest of the journey telling me about how much she detested Albus Severus Potter, and his good-for-nothing sidekick, Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy.
“I’ll speak to him,” I offered, and she shook her head, horrified.
“That’ll only goad him on! It was so embarrassing, Effy! He had spent the whole lesson laughing at me, and then sent me a note going, I heard you had the hots for me- and then Professor Greenwich noticed, and made me read it out loud to the class as a punishment! And I wasn’t even the one who sent it!”
I patted her on the arm sympathetically. “It’ll all blow over by tomorrow.”
“What did you do?” I cried, stabbing my roast potato with a fork in annoyance.
Al flinched, whereas Scorpius rolled his eyes.
“It was just flanter,” Al explained.
“Flirty banter,” said Scorpius, like I was an idiot. “I mean, we put kisses at the end of it.”
“Good one mate,” said Mikey, nodding excitedly with his mouth full of food.
“I am surrounded by idiots,” I said, raising a hand to my forehead.
“Flanter is a thing, Eff,” said Jasmine brightly. “They talked about it in Witch Weekly a few weeks ago. The Beauxbatons swear by flanter."
“She was really annoyed by that, Al! You embarrassed her in front of the whole class!”
“Oh, come off it, it was just Runes,” scoffed Scorpius. “The only people apart from us were a table of deadbeat Ravenclaw nerds. No offence.”
“Was she actually upset?” asked Albus, looking mildly horrified.
“Yes!” I emphasised.
“You said she’d laugh and come onto me!” cried Albus to his blonde best friend.
“Well- well, maybe she’s just playing you around! Maybe she isn’t the girl for you anyway! You know, she’s not even blonde, is she? She’s more ginger-”
“You owe her an apology,” I said, pointing my fork at him, and Jasmine nodded eagerly in agreement. Ophelia and Aspen had gotten an early dinner with Oscar, planning an outfit for Aspen’s date with Julius Ascot.
“Fine,” said Al, crabbily.
“Now,” emphasised Jasmine, and we nodded in perfect sync.
“Is she even in the hall-”
“Yep!” cried Mikey, spraying me with beef. “She’s over there, with Eve Feltham and the other Hufflepuff girls- see, look!”
“No time like the present,” I chirped brightly, as Al looked slightly sick.
“Do I have to-”
“Yes mate,” said Scorpius, and I knew he was egging Al on for the comedic potential of the scene, and not because he thought that Poppy deserved an apology.
“Albus, Albus, Albus,” Jasmine and I chanted, as Al stood up, and walked confidently towards the cluster of the five Hufflepuff girls, sitting a bit further down on the table next to ours. We all instantly craned our necks to watch the scene, and Scorpius’s mouth was curved in feverous excitement.
“Hey,” said Al, his hands thrust in his pockets and his head tilted upwards, a sign of confidence, borderline arrogance. He had never looked more like James.
The girls smiled politely at him, apart from Poppy, who turned in the opposite direction. There were about twenty Hufflepuff girls in our year, and out of all of them, this group was the group that Ophelia usually hung out with- generally well-liked, easy going girls, who weren’t necessarily popular like Jasmine and her group of Gryffindor girls, but were nice and friendly enough to be on good terms with everyone. So that’s why I found it a bit strange, Poppy’s hostile attitude towards Al.
“Are you alright, Al?” asked Eve, looking up.
“I’d just like to apologise to Poppy,” said Al, loud and clearly. It didn’t make heads turn, but as a group, we could hear every syllable.
There was a silence, and Al shot us a dirty look as Scorpius dissolved into giggles.
“Well?” prompted Albus, after an elongated moment.
She turned to him, and shook her head. “No.”
“I don’t accept your apology that you’ve been goaded into by your friends, and that you’ll laugh over tonight in your Slytherin dormitory,” she said, and Eve rolled her eyes.
“What? Noooooo!” shot Albus, his frustrated no sounding like an aeroplane’s take-off. “I am not going to laugh over you-”
“Good,” said Poppy, smiling, picking up her fork. “Okay, we’re done.”
“So you forgive me?”
Al shot her an incredulous look, and walked back to us, his arms crossed and his face livid. And after he sat there in stony silence, as Mikey and Scorpius tried to stop laughing- and Jasmine and I patted his arms, shooting the boys dirty looks- he opened his mouth.
“I don’t think I’ve ever fancied somebody so much in my life,” he stated, “as I fancy Poppy Atticus right now.”
“You’re crazy,” said Mikey, shaking his head.
Al stared into the space between Jasmine and me. “I genuinely think I really like her.”
“Now look what you’ve done!” wailed Scorpius at Jasmine and me. “You’ve turned my best mate into a complete and absolute idiot!”
The first of March was an exceptionally beautiful day. The temperature was unseasonably warm, keeping up with the recent heat of the early spring, and not a single cloud hung in the cornflower blue sky. A gentle breeze hung in the air, making the ends of my hair flutter against my chest, and my shirt ripple ever so slightly. I had discarded my tie with my robe, stuffing the two at the bottom of my bag, and my skirt was significantly shorter than usual.
“Effy,” said James, striding up in his usual way; his hands thrust lazily in his pockets, his robes hanging off one arm and his head cocked up, like he was the King and Hogwarts was his castle.
“Hey,” I said, trying not to sound like the excitable year below I was always scared he saw me as.
He smirked. “You’re early.”
“No, I’m perfectly punctual. Anyway, I’m the one who asked you out, so it’s only fair that you arrive at an eager timing to counter my efforts.”
“Fine,” I said, and he smirked. “You’re six minutes late but we can completely disregard the basic rules and laws of time to fit around your ego.”
“That would be really convenient, yeah. Come on, let’s go.” He tapped his wand against the mouth of a portrait of Merlin on a moving tapestry, and I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was passing in the empty corridor. But everyone was outside, making the most of the weather.
“Come on,” he said impatiently, separating the tapestry into two, revealing a small door. He opened it, and I saw an ascending staircase. He held the curtains open and I lightly started walking up, gripping the banister with one hand, my lit wand in the other.
“Keep on going right to the top,” instructed James, behind me. “Nice bum, Wilderson.”
“Thanks, it’s very useful,” I said, turning around-
“Effy!” he hissed, grabbing me. I had almost fallen down the staircase. “Are you alright?”
I nodded, feeling his hand on my back and his head only inches away from mine in the musky darkness of the steps.
“Yeah, thank you,” I murmured, and he brushed a lock of hair away from my face.
“Just keep on going forward,” he instructed, and I picked myself up again. I could hear him quietly breathing behind me, a constant reminder of his presence in this claustrophobic staircase, in which the stairs themselves had developed into nothing more than rungs from one side of the circular tube to the other, and it was slowly getting lighter and lighter.
And then I saw it. Just ahead of me was a clearing, a perfect circle of clear, blue sky. I looked down at James and he nodded impatiently for me to continue, and I hoisted myself out of the staircase, and onto a small tower, overlooking the Black Lake and the Forbidden Forest.
It was absolutely breath-taking. It was a tower much smaller than the Astronomy roof, and much more exclusive, jutting out slightly from the rest of the building. Railings guarded the perimeter of the roof, and I leaned my arms against the cool, wooden fence, looking down at the various students scattered across the grounds.
“What do you think?”
I turned around, and smiled, my elbows propping me up against the fence. The wind made my hair fly in front of my face, and I could feel my cheeks turn pink. “It’s beautiful.”
“I’m glad you like it,” he said, grinning, taking me by the waist and pulling me into his body, kissing me, his left hand holding that area where my head meets my neck, his other hand wrapped firmly around my waist, his warm body tingling in the cool, spring air.
The day before has started off pretty normal, I suppose. I had woken up early, and exchanged Arithmancy notes with Riley Connelly in the bathroom, until Nancy Cameron-Scott came in and asked who was it, leaving their hair in the shower every night? And we both assured her it wasn’t us, and we concluded that it was probably Veronica Clearwater, the bitch.
Then Aspen woke up, and we went to breakfast, sitting with Jasmine, Ophelia and Oscar. Jasmine was bitching about some girl in her house, Ophelia was trying to work out the quantity of calories in her yogurt pot and Oscar was nodding along to Jasmine’s venting, and I couldn’t work out if he was actually paying attention, or if he was just being polite. It was a Friday.
Then I left to go to Mermish with Oscar, and after Mermish, I walked with Teddy Oliver to Herbology, and we discussed the upcoming Quidditch World Cup.
“As soon as tickets go on sale, my brother’s snapping as many England games as possible,” said Teddy, as we walked through the crowded corridor.
“I hope they’re in a good drawing,” I said. “Last time they were grouped in with Australia and Greece, and they barely got into the game.” Quidditch operated on a fairly simple structure; fifty teams get in, and then they’re separated into five lots of ten, where they play each other to get into the top four- and then the top four come together as a victorious number of twenty, and then the Quidditch World Cup begins.
We were always at school for the group matches, and the Professors would have live games playing in holographics in the Great Hall during the weekend. But for games played during week days, we had to rely on word of mouth and the Prophet sports pages for details.
“I doubt they’d draw England into such a high set group again,” Teddy remarked, hoisting his bag further up his shoulder. “They’re meant to be completely mixed ability, but it seemed that all the best teams were in their group. So unfair.”
“So you’re going to America over the summer, then?” This year, America would be hosting the 2023 Quidditch World Cup, and my dad was already “ear-deep” in work, running the Sport pages for the Daily Prophet. Lee Jordan was presenting, as usual, and Josh Wood’s uncle Oliver Wood was the manager.
“Yeah, with my brother,” he said, grinning. “And Declan’s coming with us, too- he’s a Muggleborn, and he’s never been to a match outside Hogwarts before. Are you?”
“I’m going with my mum, and my brother’s in America, anyway. But my dad’s alternating between the two countries all summer.”
“That sounds like a pain,” said Teddy, sympathetically. “Are you camping?”
“Yeah, what about you?”
“Staying in a hotel,” said Teddy, rolling his eyes. “Not the same experience, is it?”
I shrugged, and grinned. “At least you won’t have to put up with the Irish supporters.”
We discussed it all the way down the stairs and across the lawn, towards the greenhouses. Others were walking towards the greenhouses too, and Teddy waved at some boys in his house.
“Very warm for this time of year,” he commented, and I agreed, as we walked into Greenhouse 3.
“Good morning sixth years,” said Longbottom, briskly wiping his hands down on his thighs. “Bare with me just one second, I’m just wrapping up with some seventh years…” I turned my head, and saw James Potter and Freddie Weasley standing at the back with Longbottom, and James caught my eye, winking, as he stood there, leaning lazily against some fourth year display.
“You alright, Wilderson?” he asked, as I walked over to my position, in between Mikey and Jasmine.
I turned around, and grinned, ignoring Jasmine blow a raspberry, I knew she thought he wasn’t good for me. “I’m alright, yeah.”
He smirked, and I could just about hear his voice over the sound of students coming in and out, my year settling down and the year above leaving. “You busy tonight?”
“Sick.” He nodded to Longbottom and walked out with Freddie, smacking Al round the head as he passed him. Longbottom clapped his hands, to signal the beginning of class, and Jasmine turned to me, fuming.
“You forgot to ask what it was you’re doing!” she cried, impatiently.
“What if he forgets?”
I slammed my head on the table, and she patted it sympathetically.
He found me just after lunch, walking to my next lesson with Mikey. He was in his Quidditch kit- the scarlet Quidditch jersey with POTTER 07 in capitalised golden letters, black shorts that made Oscar squeal, his dark hair messier than usual, his face red and slightly sweaty- the universal look of all Quidditch players after a particularly good practise.
He had a Quaffle tucked under his arm, and Alfie Ronson, who was strolling by him, was idly playing with a Muggle tennis ball, the two in light discussion, whilst the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team lagged slightly behind them.
“Oh, fantastic,” said Mikey, smirking, as he acknowledged Louis Weasley and Ruddy Walcott. “Your faces match your uniform.”
Louis, whose face was redder than the rest and looked kind of odd against his light blonde hair, rolled his eyes and Ruddy laughed.
“You’re so funny, Mikey,” shot Louis. “It’s like stand-up comedy night at the Leaky Cauldron round here.”
“I didn’t know they had an amateur night special,” added Ruddy.
Mikey was about to retort, when James looked up from his conversation with Alfie. “That’s enough, lads,” said James, giving his Beaters a dirty look. “There’s only ten minutes of lunch left. Go eat, you’d all be starving by now.”
“Too right,” said a Chaser in fifth year- and then I noticed how all the members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team were boys, and they all looked like a cross between the lost boys from Peter Pan and the savages from Lord of the Flies, kind of rough and kind of misguided.
As the rest of the Quidditch team walked past us towards the dining hall, Mikey and I began to walk away, when James put out his hand to stop me.
“Not so fast, Elizabeth,” he smirked. “I hope you hadn’t forgotten about our hot date tonight.”
“How could I forget?” I asked, crossing my arms across my chest.
He laughed, and then looked back at me.
“It’s a Friday, so classes end early-”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed. Thanks.”
“-so meet me here, just before dinner. And by the way, Eff, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”
He grinned as he said it, and his eyes glinted in the early spring sunlight emitting from the window beside us.
“See you later,” I said, turning around, and biting my mouth down so I wouldn’t squeal from excitement. Mikey and I walked around the corner, and only after a minute did he speak.
“I didn’t know Al’s brother had asked you out!” he exclaimed.
“Yeah, it was kind of weird,” I said, ruffling the back of my head and slinging my back further up my arm. “I can’t work him out. One day he’s asking me out in front of my whole Herbology class, the next he’s ignoring me.”
“Or snogging some model.”
I gave him a look. “That was the one time-”
Mikey shrugged, and gave me a look.
“You alright?” I asked, crossing my arms as a cool breeze hit us, nudging him in the left arm.
Mikey looked up at me, and only then did I realise how his eyes weren’t brown, but a kind of hazel colour, the spring sunlight bringing out the green flecks of his irises.
“Fine,” he said. “Hang on, I need to speak to Declan.” And he basically ran away from me, towards Declan and Vaughn Ainsley, a boy in Slytherin in our year, leaving me all alone in the corridor.
I told some of this to James as we sat on the tower- I left out the part of Mikey not trusting James, but just how off Mikey had been acting around me recently.
“It’s probably some boy thing,” said James, stroking my hair absent-mindedly. He was leaning against the rugged stone wall, and my head was on his lap, as I lay on the cold cement ground, my legs arched. “Boys get like that sometimes. Freddie always gets into weird mood swings with his girl mates.”
“Like Eve Chang?”
“I know, right? I think he likes her,” he said, looking up at the sky above us. A few wisps of pink clouds had wavered over, and I knew sunset was due soon. Golden rays reflected on our faces, our shadows growing longer by the minute.
“Do you think you get like that?”
He snorted, and looked down at me. “Obviously not.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, sitting up and crossing my arms against the sudden cool breeze.
“Well, I’m mature,” he said smartly.
This time, it was my turn to snort. “No you are not.”
“You just charmed the toilet paper in all the girls’ bathrooms to make drowning noises when it got flushed-”
“Elizabeth Wilderson,” he said hotly, “considering you have never staged a prank in your life, I really do not see why you’re even attempting to criticise-”
“I’m not criticising your pranks, I’m criticising your belief of maturity-”
“I saved your life,” he smirked arrogantly. “You would still be in the Hospital Wing if it wasn’t for me.”
“No, all you saved was your ego. Danny Alton was ten feet below me and would have definitely caught me-”
“My ego? We lost that game due to my lack of ego-”
“No!” I said, hotly. “You lost because I had already caught the snitch!”
He ruffled my hair. “Smashing story, Wilderson. Do you change the details of everything you retell?”
I scowled at him, and crossed my arms tighter. “Hi, I’m James Potter. Don’t let my recycled pranks and generic hair style put you off my huge egotistical and proud nature. It’s compensating for something.”
He snorted. “It’s actually quite big.”
“What, your quantity of cousins or your web of lies?”
“I’m actually referring to Nicolas,” he said, kind of pompously, doing that little tut he sometimes did.
I clasped a hand over my mouth. “Oh my God. No. Please tell me you didn’t name your-”
“You’re very judgemental-”
“You kind of remind me of ebola-”
“What? Because I’m a lady killer?”
"Oh my God. I think I hate you almost as much as I hate being me right now."
"You sound like Rose."
He laughed, as I raised my head from his lap and leaned against the stone cold brick wall behind us, as he lazily roped his arm around my shoulders. We spent the rest of the evening chatting, arguing, talking about anything that came to mind, really.
The sun gradually went down, the last flickers of reddish gold emitting over the horizon. James said George Harrison was the best Beatle, I said John Lennon. He said Lennon was a bit pretentious, and Imagine is the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard, and I said no, what are you saying, he’s a modern prophet. James called me a naïve idiot, and I said I’d rather be a naïve idiot than a cynical one.
And he laughed, his throaty voice filling the darkening night sky, and suddenly we were kissing, his arms holding me, his fingers tangled in my hair.
Leaning against the castle wall, looking out to the dying sunset, his arm was around my shoulders and my legs were tangled in with his. He told me about his parents; the music he liked, the music he didn’t. He told me about how he taught his cousin Hugo and Roxanne to play Quidditch, but he presented the duo’s talent at the sport as all natural, denying to this day his role in their skill.
“In a family like mine,” he said, his low and slightly husky, always perfectly clear voice dropping like it always did when he was discussing something more serious, “you kind of need to take all the extraordinary you can get.”
He wanted to hear about my ambitions, my thoughts on my year group, my attitude towards the Ministry and the wider Muggle world and I told him about the female goblins and unlike my friends he didn’t laugh, but agreed. I felt his lips in the roots of my hair as I told him about the time Sinatra referred me to Madame Pomfrey to make sure I wasn’t suffering from an eating disorder, and he told me how the increasing rate of anorexia within Hogwarts terrified him.
“Lots of things terrify me,” he admitted, stroking my hair as I lay on his lap, looking at the star studded inky black sky above us, the perfect crescent moon.
“The future. This war in Russia. The fact that it’s 2023 and people are still harbouring prejudice against werewolves.” He practically spat out the last sentence, his voice saturated in anger.
“Hey,” I said, raising my hand to stroke his jaw. “Hey.”
“And the most pathetic thing of all is that what scares me is me, myself,” he said. “I spent my whole Hogwarts career doing the ridiculous shit to try and distance myself from my parents’ reputations- pranks, sex, partying, all that debauchery- but it’s not me. I mean, maybe it was at the time, in the moment, but I don’t think it’s me me. I think I got drunk at the age of thirteen and liked the sound of the Potter Wild Child more than the Potter First Born Child, and I’ve been running around in circles to maintain a reputation I hate- my parents didn’t do this when they were my age-”
“James,” I said, sitting up and looking at him. “You’re so much more than the party gossip and teenage antics. Stop comparing your experience of youth to your parents- they grew up in a war.”
“I suppose,” he said, not sounding convinced.
“You’re so brave,” I said, thinking about the way he jumped in front of the hex Yearling sent at Alfie for being a Muggleborn last term, and the way he and Freddie stood up to him in the first place. “People talk about that, too. Actions are just as contemporary as the rumours that exaggerate them, but character is character. That’s what you can’t escape.”
He looked down at me, and smiled. Smiled genuinely, not that half-arsed smirk he always wore. “Thanks Wilderson.”
“And I know all about character, considering my personality is flawless and enviable.”
He laughed in the silence of the cloudless night that surrounded us, and kissed me like we had never kissed before. And his lips tasted of the strawberries they offered at dinner, and I laughed into his mouth as he grabbed my wrists, demanding to know what was so funny, and I said you, and he thought about it, and agreed.
OKAY THIS WAS THE MOST JEFFY THING SO FAR. James showed Effy his sensitive side, Albus started chasing a girl with a flower-name who wanted to him go away, Mikey was Mikey... Pleaaase tell me what you think? Was Effy and James too cringy? Because I'm kind of scared they were? Thanks so much for reading, and reviews make my day. Like I actually start beaming when I read them. I'm sorry replies to them can sometimes be long but they genuinely mean so much to me! And above all, they encourage me to keep on writing. So yeah, thank you lots + lots!
Also I don't own Sherlock- Arthur Conan Doyle does. Coooool xx
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