Chapter 9 : Sides of the Story
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The storm was sudden and I'd left my wand in my dorm when I'd ventured out into the Forbidden Forest. It figured that the sky would pour when I was without my wand, or an umbrella, though. On top of that, clumsy me, I almost made it worse by nearly slipping as I ran to the barn.
"It came down pretty suddenly, eh?" I jumped at the voice, snapping out of my thoughts. James was on the other side of the barn, his face concentrated on the lightning that flashed among the clouds. "Got your wand?"
I shook my head silently, trying not to shiver at the gust of wind that attacked my drenched body. Drops of rain were sliding and falling down my elbows and onto the grass.
"Me either," he sighed. "I was in detention. Here," James reached out and held his Quidditch jersey in his hand. "You'll catch a cold." I didn't take it so he moved closer, unceremoniously placing it on my head. I grasped the ends of it, unmasking myself to stare up at him. I probably looked like some strange, red and gold shrouded monk, but it warmed me. "Dry off, please." He avoided my eyes.
The jersey smelled like him, but it also smelled clean. I didn't respond as I examined the fabric, gently running my fingers over the stitching.
"It's okay, it's still clean." He sent me a crooked smile. "Well, except the one time I wore it." I wrinkled my nose and he laughed, teasing me as I dried my hair. I rolled my eyes at him, letting out a grunt of displeasure. It only spurred on his laughter.
Frowning, I turned away from him and crossed my arms across my chest. James walked past me and entered the barn after a few minutes, heaving a sigh to break the silence. My eyes followed his movements as the skies darkened.
From inside, James dropped down on a bench, carelessly spreading out his body as his eyes focused on the window outside. He seemed to be searching the darkened sky. "I won't be able to see Sirius tonight," he muttered, quietly, and sighed again. A look of longing entered his gaze on the clouded sky, which made the picture so hauntingly beautiful that my fingers itched to capture it. The question almost passed my lips and I chided myself. Can I draw you for the sake of art and the beauty of a moment? Surely James would react arrogantly and take it the wrong way, anyways.
"The class pet for Advanced Muggle Studies died..." I snapped out of my thoughts again, taken aback. James kept his gaze on the sky and rubbed the back of his neck, looking slightly mournful.
"Bugs?" I cleared my throat and tried repeating the rabbit's name.
"Yeah," James sighed.
"That's sad," I replied. In the back of my mind, I remembered that group of Gryffindor girls kept feeding Bugs random food, most of which wasn't meant for rabbits. Isabelle Wood and her friends had told me to butt out when I attempted to intervene. But now...I felt guilty for not doing more to stop them. "What happened?"
"I figured it ate something off. Izzie said..." he trailed off, biting his lip.
"You knew?" I clenched my jaw, thinking of the carelessness. James Potter could have been the one to stop such foolishness and cruelty, but no... He was just as bad as the others sometimes. So many people admired and looked up to him, but he just squandered it all away.
"It was said that Bugs would eat anything. I always tried to stop Izzie when..." When he looked at my face, James trailed off. "You think I'm lying, eh? That I'd just let them be cruel to a rabbit?" He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his school uniform pants. I just stared at him, letting the silence between us be my response. His frown deepened, turning angry. "Fine. Don't say anything. I don't need this rubbish." With that he stormed out of the barn, leaving me to follow at his back with my eyes as he ran in the rain up to the castle. When he finally disappeared, I stared down at the Gryffindor Quidditch jersey in my hands and sighed.
I felt like I needed a change tonight.
Even the next day, she was still on my mind. I walked up the stairs with Ryan, who was actually being quite the prat today. He was staring at girls skirts and waving his wand to try and cause a windy draft.
"Oi, would you look at that?! I don't think I've seen a bird with a knee length skirt in a while." The girl was walking up the stone staircase, completely oblivious with books hugged to her chest. She seemed familiar with her wavy brown hair, but I didn't recognize any Claw that had short hair like that. Ryan jumped a few steps and tugged on the hem of the girl's skirt, all the while laughing.
"Ryan, what are you doing?" I ran up the steps, grabbing the idiot's arm. I couldn't believe he'd stooped to basically sexual harassment. Just in that moment, the girl being victimized swung her leg backwards and kicked at her attacker. However, the issue was that now I was there in Ryan's place because I'd pulled him backwards to try to stop him. My quick reflexes deflected the foot from landing a blow to my stomach, but my hand was not so fortunate. As a result, my hand landed the blow and somehow I still managed to fall down the steps. My bum painfully met the stone floor and my side hit the wall. I groaned and held my aching ribs, while a group of girls squealed around me in concern. The girl turned around and my eyes widened, just as her mouth frowned. Ainsly.
"It was an-"
"Accident?" Her sea glass eyes narrowed into slits, causing my stomach to plummet into my shoes. Ainsly's chest heaved up in down in brewing anger. "Why is it always happening if it is an accident?" Wait, the way that sounded... People we're doing that to her?!
"Ainsly," I choked out. "You kicked me!"
"You pulled on my skirt, you prat," she hissed back, stomping her foot at me. "That's sexual harassment."
"It wasn't me," I glanced around and found Ryan missing from the group of people that crowded, or rather gawked at us. A long sigh passed my lips, hissing it's way through my teeth in frustration. How did I always manage to look like a prat in front of her? I took a step towards her, prepared to explain. Ainsly jumped up another step as my hand reached for her, so I closed it into a fist. "You cut your hair."
"Shove off, Potter." Her eyes shined bright, focused on the wall as a self-conscious hand smoothed over the shorten locks. Ainsly's other hand slid into her bag, searching around for something.
Isabelle Wood, my on again off again girlfriend, stood off to the side with her friends. Her lovely long blonde hair shifted as she cocked her head to the side and nudged her Ravenclaw friend, Colleen. The girls smirked at Ainsly, whispered something to each other, and started laughing with their eyes pinned on Ainsly. "Godric, the freak can't even act appropriately. Who let someone like it even in this school?" Colleen cackled at Isabelle's words, but my eyes were on Izzie's cruel, sneering mouth. My eyes flew back to Ainsly, who processed the words with a blank look before pulling earphones out of her bag. Without comment, she just placed them in her ears, pressed something in her bag, and continued walking up the stairs.
"She just ignored us," Colleen cried out dramatically and giggled. "That freak. Lame!"
I frowned, watching as the sight of her gets smaller and smaller. She was a force of nature. No matter what I did, she always saw right through me. When she looked at me with those eyes...it was like she was peering into my soul, which sounded so cheesy even to think it.
Sometimes I would just be walking, I'd look up, and there Ainsly would be. And each time I'd see her, she always seemed to shine so brightly. It caused an aching urge to be around her, which was turning into a problem when I was trying to be discreet. Now, it was bordering on painful. I should say something, anything...
Something poked me in the side, breaking me out of my thoughts and I found Ryan grinning at me. "She's such a weirdo, eh?" Ryan laughed at his comment, rolling his shoulders in a shrug. "Girl barely ever talks. I bet a majority of Claws have never heard the sound of her voice. It's a bit pathetic really."
My hands balled into fists, holding my bag with a deadly grip as I attempt to remain calm. "I think she's kind of brilliant."
Ryan scoffed at me. "Clearly you hit your head too hard."
I just smirked back at him and glanced at the hall that Ainsly disappeared down. No... I don't think that's it.
Present Day (One Year Post-Hogwarts)
"James, why don't you go take Ainsly out for a walk around the grounds? She's supposed to be a guest and she's helping more than you lot." Ginny took the oven mitts out of my hands, smiled kindly at me, and shot a disapproving look at James. He smiled widely back at his mother, grabbed my hand, and pulled me out of the kitchen. "Dinner will be done in ten, James. So don't stray too far," Ginny called with a laugh.
"That means that it'll be like thirty," whispered into my ear, which caused an interesting mix of shivers and laughter. "Mum never times things right and it's always piping hot."
I smiled up at him, a bit shy with all the new surroundings. "Grounds?" It wasn't exactly surprising that the Potter's would have a lot of land and practically an old British estate. Staring around at it all, it was quite a likeness to the Jane Austen books that I'd read over the years. It was really something. James caught me staring around in wonder and grinned, taking my hand once more.
"It's beautiful, isn't it? I would spend my days out here growing up. Raising a ruckus, as my mum would say. It would have been a waste otherwise, eh?" I smiled and nodded, laughing lightly. We kept walking until we neared a willow tree with its weeping branches reaching out towards a fence. In the distance, I saw a large creature with a pointed snout. Squinting my eyes at it moved, my hands reflexively went to my mouth to mute my gasp. "Is that...?"
"Pork chop?" James shot me another toothy grin, making a my heart skip. "Yeah, it is. He's fantastic. But he's a bit shy with strangers." He jumped up on the fence, ruffling his hair as he laughed and swayed on the wooden planks below him. Considering Erumpent can be very dangerous and temperamental, it was surprising that the Potter's had only a wooden enclosure. When I glanced back over at James, he smiled back at me and jumped over the fence.
"James?" I reached out, as if my hand would catch him from the far distance he'd already covered.
"Just stay there until I tell you to come, ya?"
The back of my throat made a choking sound, muffling my protest to James so that I was merely left to watch as he skipped towards the Erumpent. My heart pounded as my head spun with all the information I'd researched and learned about Erumpents. Surely, James would be okay considering it was a childhood pet, right? Then why did I feel on edge...like I'd see him gored at anytime. It was dreadfully stressful.
"Alight Sly," James called out, patting Pork Chop on the back. "He's ready to see you, milady." James bowed to me as I approached slowly. He must have sensed my caution because James held out his hand to me, awarding me with a heart melting smile. "He's pretty harmless because his horn is actually fake. Dad was only able to bring him home because poachers had sawed off his horn when he was young. It never grew back."
"That's awful," I gasped, and when I was near enough James grabbed my hand, pulling me to his side. Pork Chop was beautiful as I looked him over, but then I noticed something... "James..."
"Ya?" I felt his eyes one me as I frowned.
"You know Pork Chops a female, right?" I peered closer at the Erumpents underside, revealing the sex without disturbing the creature. Yep, definitely a female.
A look of horror morphed on his face.
"James! Dinners ready!"
I don't own Harry Potter, or the content of Fantastic Beasts!
Whew! Sorry for the delay! I was I. A wedding and started at a new job, as well as having some severe writers block.
So please tell me what you think so far!
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