Chapter 8 : Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun
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Fantastically-awesome chapter image by the amazing emmapotter @tda :D
I wanted to punch our cashier in the face.
Deadass, man, we weren’t even in the front of the line yet and I already wanted to ninja my way through the crowd and knock his lights out.
Oh yeah, he was that infuriating.
I know that you’re probably thinking that he can’t possibly be that bad considering I dislike a large percentage of the human population, thus making my credibility pretty crumby, but even James hated him. And James seems like the type of person who generally likes everybody; I mean, c’mon, the bloke actually enjoys being in the company of Freddy Weasley. He obviously has a high tolerance for obnoxious pests. But no matter how high that tolerance was, it didn’t stop his steady flow of eye rolling and all around negative vibe as we waited for our turn to order.
It was what I imagined waiting in line to enter Hell was like.
“Reminds me of my Uncle Percy,” James murmured into my ear in reference to the cashier, as the elderly couple in front of us finished up at the register.
“Well, fuck, you have a prat of an uncle,” I replied in an undertone, taking a step forward to fill the vacated space the old people left.
He followed close behind me. “Tell me about it.”
To be honest, I was beginning to feel rather sorry for James on account of his familial relations; first Freddy and now Uncle Percy.
And I thought my family sucked.
I then turned my attention back to the misfortune that was waiting for me behind the counter.
With one look over it was apparent to me that our git cashier was just around fourteen or fifteen years old and was one of those kids who have a certain air of arrogance to them when given too much power. You know what I’m talking about.
I’ll give you a moment to let out your frustrations on the nearest object within your reach.
A single glance at the very well preserved and, wait for it, laminated name tag on his chest (I smell importance) informed me that his name was Elliot. And I was glad for it because the police were gonna need it in order to identify his dismembered body after James and I were through with him.
Especially since the more I stood in his presence, the more annoyed with him I got.
And after observing him for the last ten minutes, I had had enough.
You see, whereas most cashiers just take your order, press a few buttons, give you your change back, and move the fuck on, Elliot would have none of this.
Not on his shift.
No, Elliot had to take it a step further.
As the Supreme Ruler of Starbucks Worldwide (as he seemed to think he was), Elliot had to puff out his chest importantly, speak haughtily towards the customers and down to his fellow workers. He had to name drop the manager and talk loudly about how tight the two of them were to whomever would listen. He had to inform all of us on line on a consistent basis that he was the year long consecutive Employee of the Month.
I mean, like, who gives a fuck?
I can press buttons too, pal.
You see this unemployment here? It’s a choice. Some of us prefer to be lazy and sleep in on Saturdays. Some of us prefer to mooch off of our parents. Some of us prefer to alphabetize records free of charge without the consent of the shop owner.
Some of us are just cool like that.
I wouldn’t expect you to understand something like that, Elliot. It’s too much for your young, delicate mind to appreciate.
Once James and I were at the counter and had nowhere to look but at stupid Elliot’s stupid face, it became immediately clear that he was about to start talking to us. Probably something about how his pay got raised a half of a pound the day before. And a quarter of that the day before that. Like that’s something I want to hear again after it was already rambled to half of the people in the coffee shop.
But before Elliot could even get a word in, James cut him off.
“Don’t care. Can we have two hot chocolates? Large would be great, thanks.”
Insert dreamy sigh here.
God, my patheticness has reached a whole new level these days.
Damn Potter and his adorable awesomeness.
Elliot eyed James with great distaste as if no one had ever prevented him from discussing himself before and couldn’t believe James’s audacity to do so.
“Here at Starbucks, we call it a venti,” he sneered pompously as if knowing that made him better than James.
Oh snap. Look at Elliot go; bloke’s got some snazzy comebacks in his pocket.
Notice how we all bow down at his brilliance?
Get out from behind the counter, you stud, so I can kiss your feet.
Ew. Weird mental image.
This remark, however, didn’t seem to faze James a bit; he actually appeared to be an expert at dealing with people like this. “Whatever. I’ll take two venti sized hot chocolates.”
After narrowing his eyes, Elliot pressed a few buttons at the cash register rather importantly. “That’ll be £3.54,”
Instantly I reached into my jeans pocket where I had hastily stuffed in a few pounds before I left the house earlier that day.
James put out his hand to stop me.
He’s. Touching. Me. Gah.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”
“No, you don’t have to,” I insisted with a smile. “It’s your birthday tomorrow; I want to buy it for you.”
He shook his head. “Thanks but there’s no need. I’ll pay for it.”
“No, really, it’s no trouble at all. I’ll pay for it.”
And that is when Starbucks exploded.
“It’s your birthday, goddamn it, let me buy it for you,”
“Why the bloody hell not?”
“Because I’m the guy and everyone knows that the bloke pays.”
“I am not trying to demasculinize you, okay? I just want to get you something for your birthday! IS THAT SO WRONG?”
“PUT THE MONEY AWAY SPENCER. THIS ONE’S ON ME.”
“That’ll be £3.54,” a voice inserted assertively.
It seemed that in the midst of all of the shouting and bickering, James and I had actually forgotten the presence of our mutual enemy.
Rather than shitting his pants like he should have been, Elliot was as cocky and pompous as ever. This is what he was trained for; the precise moment that would secure his title for July’s Employee of the Month:
Dealing with the crazy people.
“Now if you will just-”
But he never finished was he was about to say.
At the same time, James and I whipped our heads around to flash this square identical glares which clearly threatened his existence and sent him flying back, face tear-streaked and cowering at our very wrath.
It appeared that James and I had successfully broken the spirit of Starbucks’s consecutive Employee of the Month.
Note to all: This level of instilling fear into the excessively peppy and bothersome is accomplished by skill and general awesomeness. These things cannot be taught.
With Elliot finally out of the way, James and I turned our attention back to one another.
“THIS IS STUPID; JUST LET ME PAY FOR IT,”
“YOU WILL DO NO SUCH THING!”
Hands on my hips in what I hoped was a threatening stance, my eyes narrowed into slits as I made eye contact with the messy haired boy next to me. We glowered at one another for several long minutes, just daring the other to blink or back down.
Finally, after a few more minutes of intense staring, James cleared his throat. “I am paying for the hot chocolate,” he told me, his voice low and dangerous. I opened my mouth to protest but he held up a hand, signaling for me to let him continue. “I will let you buy me a cookie. A very small, very cheap cookie. And that is all. Got it?”
As much as I despised accepting defeat, it appeared that this was the best deal that I was gonna get. “Fine,” I huffed, putting as much animosity as humanly possible into the word. Satisfied with this response, he turned his back to me and faced the cash register. “Bloody wanker,” I muttered under my breath.
“What did you call me?”
Five minutes later, we were making our way over to an empty table by the window, having finally made our purchases after twenty long minutes of being at each other’s throats. James and I weren’t yelling anymore, but there were countless stolen glares and eye narrowing directed at one another.
In a weird way, it was kind of fun. I mean, at this point, I was no longer mad at him, but it was oddly satisfying to shoot him the stink eye. And I had a feeling that he felt the same way.
We sat wordlessly across from one another at the round table, connecting eye to eye, brown to blue, and thus commenced the staring contest.
Prepare to lose, you messy-headed-fuck.
And so we stared.
And shit, my eye is starting to twitch.
No, eyes, don’t you dare start to water.
Is it just me or is James slightly blurry around the edges?
Has he always looked so…fuzzy?
And suddenly: it happened. In merely a split second, my willpower failed me; my eyelids fluttered towards each other, long, thick lashes connecting briefly before contracting and making the final separation to move out of one another’s reach.
A goddamn blink.
Instantaneously, James leaped from his position in his chair, pounding a fist into the air and crying out triumphantly.
The anger and let down of losing suddenly spread through me like poison; I felt the burn in the pit of my stomach, my fingertips, my Achilles’ heel, damn it! I honestly felt like poking my eyes out with my straw. And then force-feeding what’s left of them to the old lady sitting at the table next to us.
Okay maybe not.
But despite my obvious distress, James continued his act of poor sportsmanship by jumping idiotically into a sort of victory dance that included an odd assortment of movements that resembled the Macarena. He then proceeded to put his fingers in a shape of an ‘L’ and quite enthusiastically call me a “Loooooooooooooosssssssssseeerrrrr,” attracting the attention of the entire Starbucks.
I was able to tolerate such absurdness for a few minutes but once he started to shake his very fine arse in my direction and sing We are the Champions at the top of his lungs, I had had enough. I wasn’t fucking around anymore. I mean, go ahead, shout ‘In your face!’ in my ear, poke me in the face repeatedly, see what I care. But use the songs of Queen against me? That’s gone way too far. Prepare to die motherfucker.
Eyes narrowed and jaw set, I was all business. No one uses my music against me. No one. “Alright, shut the fuck up and drink your hot chocolate,” I spat. “So you won a bloody staring contest, bloody big deal.”
And to my very surprise, James actually listened to me; however the wide, goofy grin never left his face as he retook his seat across from me.
“Aww,” he cooed rather condescendingly. “Is somebody a sore loser?”
“More like somebody’s a sore winner,” I muttered, but my words were promptly ignored.
“Here,” he said, breaking the chocolate chip cookie I had bought him in half and extending his arm across the table to offer it to me. “Here’s your consolation prize.”
In a split second, my anger dissolved and my expression fell from murderous to hurt. “You don’t want it?” My voice was uncharacteristically small and quite a contrast to my previous tone.
James noticed this change and appeared to be rather confused at first, but after a look between the cookie and me, his expression morphed to one of immediate realization.
Wide-eyed and without a moment’s hesitation, he violently shoved the two cookie halves into his mouth, chewing and nodding enthusiastically as if to convince me of the immense satisfaction it brought him.
I couldn’t help it; he just looked so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh. James finished chewing and swallowed; a grin of his own forming on his face, as he joined in with my laughter.
And just like that, things were back to normal. After that, the two of us sat merrily at our little round table by the window, sipping on our hot chocolate and laughing like loons. Honestly, by the looks of us, you would have never known that we were the same pair that was flipping out on each other just mere minutes before. But James and I could get away with such insanity. No logical or rational reason behind it; we just could.
“So I hear that you’ve been jumping across tables lately,” he said to me with a smirk while holding the door open for me as we left Starbucks. “Are my sources correct in stating this?”
My face heated up and I’m pretty sure that my heart stopped beating all together.
I KNEW THEY WERE SWAPPING STORIES ABOUT ME!
Incoming prophecy on this fine Friday:
A boy that goes by the name that rhymes with Reddy Queasley will be mysteriously struck down by this time next week. Completely unavoidable, the fates will it to happen. He and his bloody big mouth are going down. And if his murder is not at my hands, I will at least be there to witness the universe’s greatest gift to humanity: the elimination of Reddy Queasley.
I look forward to this event; it will be penciled into my calendar.
Breaking from my little daydream of Freddy’s death sentence, I looked to see that James was eyeing me with a particularly evil expression that I did not like.
Shit. He’s waiting for me to say something while wearing that stupid smug smirk of his. Shit. Quick, Spencer, say something intelligent!
“I plead the fifth!” I declared loudly. About half of the people on the sidewalk fell silent and turned to gape at me. I gave them all a quick princess wave and then faced James, wearing a smirk of my own.
Ha! Now you can’t make me admit to anything!
Take that Potter! Just got owned Lockwood Style.
James raised an eyebrow at me. “Spencer, only Americans can plead the fifth…”
“Well, shit, then I got nothing.”
“…I’ll take that then as a yes…?”
“He deserved it!” I insisted, stomping my foot to the ground like a six year old and once again gaining the attention of the people walking by.
James smiled knowingly at me as we sat down on a nearby bench. “Oh really? What crime did my dearest cousin, Fred Weasley II, commit in order to earn himself such a vicious attack on your behalf?”
“You already know happened,” I mumbled to my hands as my face heated up from embarrassment. “You just want to make me say it because you find my outbursts amusing...”
“Spencer,” he said with mock hurt. I imagined that had also placed a hand over his heart to emphasis how much I wounded him. I, of course, wouldn’t know because I refused to remove my gaze from my hands. “I am appalled by your poor opinion of me. Whatever gave you that outrageous idea?”
“I dunno, maybe because you’re an arsehole who enjoys other people’s discomfort?” I looked up to see James’ mouth formed into a rather comical ‘O’.
“Oi!” he whined in a voice that strangely reminded me of my seven year old cousin. “Insults are not permitted on said arsehole’s birthday.”
“You’re birthday is not until tomorrow,” I reminded him.
He waved his hand dismissively at me. “Technicalities.”
I stuck my tongue out him, because, you know, I’m just oh-so-mature. And because James is as well, he returned the gesture.
“He called me a crazy bint,” I said finally.
James turned to meet my gaze. He gave me a small smile. “Yeah, I know,”
“Yeah?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “How much do you know?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, everything,”
“Even how I made him give me the Lucky Charms box?”
“Yep.” He popped his lips together as he said the word.
“Because I needed my daily dose of ginger leprechauns?”
“Ye-wait you really said that?” James was quite giddy by this idea; a grin stretched on his face from ear to ear. Heh. Would you look at that? I guess Christmas came early this year. “I thought Freddy was exaggerating!”
“Nope,” I replied, mimicking his action of popping my lips together. “I guess I really am a Crazy Bint.”
“There’ve been warning signs,” James stated in a mock-serious tone, nodding his head in agreement.
And because I just had to know, the one question I had been itching to ask since before we went into Starbucks spilled from my lips, words overflowing from my mouth like water in a river. “You didn’t tell Freddy that I threw up on your shoes, did you? Cuz I’ll never hear the end of it if you did…” My voice trailed off weakly as I realized what I had said, as I remember how mortified I still was about the whole situation. Somehow it had been so easy to forget what happened while we were joking around and drinking hot chocolate. Now? Not so much.
As a result, my face was as red as Darth Maul’s light saber in the first of the sucky Star Wars prequels.
An analogy my daddy would be proud of.
James seemed to be able to sense my discomfort. “I needed new shoes anyway,” he offered softly in a kind voice.
I snorted. “Is that supposed to make me feel better or something?” I sneaked a peek at James’s face; he was smiling rather adorably, his expression hopeful.
“Is it working?”
I bit my lip, trying to hide my smile and shrugged.
“I didn’t tell him, just so you know. Actually,” he continued, his eyebrows pulled together. “I barely even got to talk about you to him. After about two sentences, he jumped right in about some crazy girl who attacked him during breakfast this morning.” By now James was full on smirking.
I decided to join in on the Smirk-Fest. You smirk, I smirk, we all smirk.
“I still stand by what I did,”
“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”
“I mean, what can I say? I am just such a spirited person; my spectacular display of expression known far and wide throughout the entire Kingdom…that you know, is ‘United,’”
“All hail the Mighty Spencer,” James cheered, a fist raised and shaking in the air.
“I should have my own theme song,” I mused aloud. “And a wicked cool costume. Complete with a cape, mask, and tacky colored tights.”
James burst out hysterically laughing. I wasn’t sure why exactly; I mean, I know I’m witty as fuck, but it seriously wasn’t that funny.
“You are honestly the weirdest muggle I have ever met,” he said through gasps. After a slight pause he added, “And I mean that in a good way.”
But I wasn’t listening anymore. At the utterance of the word ‘muggle,’ clearly an undetected slip up on James’s part, a flashback from earlier that week evaded my mind.
A flashback from Wonderland.
“I found her over by the archway. Her name’s Spencer. She’s a muggle, said that she fell through the barrier. What do we do?”
“What’s a muggle?” I blurted out without thinking. My face immediately flushed red as the Potter family turned to me. None of them responded to my question right away; they didn’t seem to know what to say.
“Nothing you need to worry about,” Mr. Potter said kindly after a few moments of awkward silence.
Returning to the present time, I turned my attention back to James who was rambling on about something. I didn’t think twice about interrupting him.
“You’ve called me that before.” It wasn’t an accusation, just a statement, an observation.
James stopped in his tracks, his eyebrows pulling together, suddenly confused. “What?”
“That word, ‘muggle,’” I said. “You’ve called me it before. On the platform. Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.”
I knew that I was taking a risk by bringing all of this up. If I was wrong, if it had all been a dream, if there was no secret platform where crazy stick-carrying people roam, and James and I had really met on the train, he would for certain think that I was off my rocker. But I was willing to take that chance; I needed to know. I needed to know the truth.
James straightened his back to its full height and his expression suddenly became tight, impenetrable. He puffed out his chest as if bracing himself for whatever may come, for whatever I may throw at him.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said challengingly, as if daring me to say otherwise.
“Oh, I think that you do,” I replied coolly. My voice was strong, firm, but I didn’t feel as confident as I sounded.
Maybe I was wrong after all.
For a long time, we didn’t say anything. Didn’t say anything at all. We just sat there, staring at each other, James revealing nothing with his tightly closed mouth and his eyes – normally so expressive – were dark and secretive.
I couldn’t take the silence anymore.
“What are you?” My question was blunt; straight to the point. But it needed to be in order to receive a response that was of the same nature. And the curiosity was just killing me.
James swallowed hard. Seeming to have come to some sort of decision, he said, “I can’t tell you,”
“So you admit it,” I said forcefully. “That it really happened. That it wasn’t all a dream. That you’re not human-”
The serious expression immediately slipped off of James’s face and it morphed into a grin as he chuckled lightly. “Well I am human,” he laughed, clearly amused by the thought that he could be otherwise. “I’m just not…” His nose scrunched up as he trailed off, looking for a way to phrase what he wanted to say without revealing too much.
“Just not…?” I prompted.
He shrugged. “A muggle.”
Laughing, I threw my hands in the air in exasperation. “Well that doesn’t tell me anything!”
“The point, exactly.”
What a git.
“Well, what’s a muggle?”
“A person not like me.”
“And what the hell are you?”
James bit his lip and smiled at me apologetically. “I’m technically not supposed to tell you.”
This really put me out. My shoulders slumped and a great sigh escaped my lips.
Well…that really blows.
Just when I thought that I was all cool and detective like for putting some of the pieces together, everything goes splat.
Rather typical of the universe to screw me over like this.
Suddenly perking up as the thought entered my mind, I turned to James with new determination and a winning smile. “What if I guess? Will you tell me if I’m right?”
He scrunched up his nose, once again in deep thought and sat quietly for a moment. My heart pounded heavily in my chest in anticipation for his answer. Finally, after about a billion years, James shrugged and agreed.
“I don’t see why not. So, tell me, what are your theories?”
This really stumped me; I hadn’t actually thought of any possibilities. In all honesty, I had absolutely no clue, none at all.
Solving riddles/mysteries had never been my forte.
But I decided to put on my thinking cap and give it a go anyhow.
Suddenly after a long stretched period of silence, I rounded on James, pointing an accusing finger at him. “You’re a vampire, aren’t you?”
This caused James to burst into hysterical laughter the moment the words left my lips. Clutching his sides, he shook his head. “Try again,” he somehow managed to say through his laughter.
Hardy-har-har, let's all laugh at Spencer’s expense.
Well, fuck you; I was hard pressed for time. You try and come up with something good when put on the spot like that.
I triple-dog dare you.
Jutting my bottom lip out, I put on my best puppy dog pout face. “It wasn’t that bad of a guess,” I mumbled defectively as he tried – and failed – to compose himself.
“No, it really was,” he assured me, nodding his head vigorously.
“NEXT GUESS,” James interrupted me loudly.
I bit my bottom lip.
C’mon Spence, think of every fantasy novel you’ve ever read, every movie you’ve ever seen; there’s got to be something…
I locked eyes with James, a hopeful expression on my face. “Demi-God?”
James smirked. “Despite my God-like qualities, I’m gonna have to say no.”
"No. But that would be pretty cool..."
I thought back to the sticks that the people were carrying in Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Wands, perhaps?
“Oi! I am not a witch. Witches are girls.”
James smirked with a glint of mischief in his eyes. “No I am not a warlock.”
“What? I’m, like, two times the size of those things,”
“Does it look like I have pointed ears?”
“Okay, now you’re just listing random things-”
“You sure? Haven’t spent any time lately in trees cooking delicious cookies?”
There it goes again, the smirk. “Not that I recall.”
I sighed in defeat. “You will tell me eventually, though, right? Cuz it’s gonna kill me, not knowing.”
James smiled, not a smirk, a real, genuine smile. “How about this,” he proposed. “I’ll tell you by the end of the summer if you still can’t figure it out.”
And this, my friends, was good enough for me.
A/N Sorry everybody for the wait! I feel like such a jerk. But it's here now! I hope you're happy! So Spencer brought up the subject of Wonderland to James. What did you think of his response, her guesses? I had a lot of fun writing it so I hope that you liked it!
Just wanted to let everyone know that I added chapter images for all of the chapters (which is the reason I've been editing all of them lately; I'm really sorry if I got anyone's hopes up thinking that I had added another chapter). But take a look at them; they're gorgeous! Huge thanks to mignonne for making the first one and an even bigger thank you to emmapotter for making the rest!
Also, I'd like to thank and dedicate this chapter to deanluvr444 and Magic_Pheonix for nominating me for the Dobby Awards. I knew that I wasn't going to make it to the next round but it was really sweet of the both of them regardless. And congrats to everyone who made it to the next round! :D
I also congratulate anyone who read this monster of an author's note. Sorry for the rambling. I hope that you enjoyed the chapter!
Until next time,
P.S. Thank you for all of the lovely reviews I've been receiving so far; you're all so sweet!
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