“That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in my entire life.”
It’s times like these that I wonder how I still have any sense of self-worth. Comments like the previous one happen a lot more often than I’d care to admit. And most of them, once again like the one just uttered, come from the mouth of my best friend. It’s a sad life.
“It’s definitely a possibility, Leena,” I said stubbornly. “In fact, it’s not just possible. It’s probable.”
Selene raised an eyebrow. “The world would be better off if you never spoke again.”
Actually, she might have a point there…
Selene and I were in a very familiar situation at the moment. We were both sitting in my room – she was sprawled on the floor and I was lounging in my desk chair – engaged in a friendly argument. It was just like the old days.
“You just don’t want to admit I’m right,” I said smugly. Because this time I am.
Selene just snorted, however. She tossed her hair over her shoulder, tilting her head to the side. “James, I’m always right. It’s one of the laws of the universe. So let it go before you embarrass yourself more than you already have.”
I rolled my eyes. “Lee, my life is just one big embarrassment. A little more isn’t going to hurt me.”
“Point,” Selene conceded, inclining her head. It’s kind of sad that the one time she agrees with me, it was something that was insulting to me. It was also true, though, so I can hardly hold it against her.
“I’m still right, though,” I said.
I tried not cringe at the death glare Selene gave me. You’d think I’d be used to those by now. You’d think.
“James,” she said flatly. “No. There is absolutely no way that back when Dumbledore was alive, he was in a secret relationship with Professor McGonagall.”
“It could have happened,” I insisted. What? It totally could have!
“No, James. Just no.”
I pointed an accusing finger at Selene. “You’re just jealous because you didn’t figure it out first.”
“Look," Selene said exasperatedly “I know I didn't know him or anything, so it might not be my place to say it, but I’m pretty sure that Dumbledore… er, was playing for the other team, if you know what I mean.”
I blinked. “I don’t.”
“Ha,” Selene deadpanned. “Funny. Stop playing dumb, you know what I mean.”
It’s one thing to be called dumb while being fully aware that you are, indeed, being an idiot. But being called dumb and having no idea why… that’s not all that confidence-boosting. “No, I really don’t. What teams are you talking about?”
Selene gave me a dumbfounded look. “James, you are not this naïve. You know what I’m talking about.”
“No, Selene, I really don’t.”
“I’m saying that I’m pretty sure Dumbledore was gay!” she said, throwing her arms up in frustration.
Huh. That’s awkward.
“He can’t be gay. He was having an illicit affair with McGonagall, who is a female. Therefore, not gay,” I said. Try and figure a way out of that one, why don’t you? My logic is impenetrable.
Selene stared at me, her gaze flat and her mouth thin. “If I die a premature death, it’ll be all your fault. You could drive a person to their grave, you really could.”
“You love me anyways,” I said, giving her a cheeky grin.
She rolled her eyes, but smiled anyways. It was a small smile, but it was still there.
Selene and I had been here for nearly and hour. My parents and siblings were still at the Burrow. Dad had sent a message via patronus telling us that they were going to stay and try and smooth things over. He also said he was proud of me and to tell Selene that they in no way think any worse of her. That was quite nice.
Selene hadn’t cried for long – she stopped less than a minute after we apparated back here. At first, she was rather quiet, but I’d coaxed her back into talking again. All I had to do was bring up the latest Quidditch match of Puddlemere versus the Arrows and she’d gotten fired up. Nothing makes Selene feel better than giving her the chance to rant and be angry about something.
“Dumbledore and McGonagall definitely had a thing.”
Selene’s smile quickly turned upside down into a scowl and her eyes narrowed dangerously, the color seeming to darken. Ah, there it is. The first warning sign.
“You know I’m right, you just don’t want to admit it because you’re ashamed I figured out something before you.”
“James. Shut up.” Selene’s hands clenched tightly, the muscles in her arms quivering slightly. Uh oh. That’s warning sign number two. That came a lot faster than I had expected.
You see, Selene has three big danger signs of when she’s really starting to get mad. I mean, she’s pretty much always angry, but there are three signals to when she’s really coming to the end of her very limited patience. I think I push her that far more than any other person in the world. Yet, she continues to subject herself to my presence. Now that’s dedicated friendship.
Anyways, the warning signs. The dark frown mixed with a certain glare is the first one. The second happens when her hands curl into fists and her entire body seems to tauten. As for the third… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
“Who’d have thought, eh? I’m the smart one. That one has to sting,” I continued, smirking. Yeah, that’s right. I just insulted Selene’s intelligence. For someone who’s been panicking so much about potentially being murdered I really must have a death wish.
“Really?” Selene raised an eyebrow, still scowling. “You’re going there. You are. Really?”
Her irritation was nearly tangible. It hovered around her, almost like a dark cloud. A very large, very scary dark cloud. A wise man would have stopped talking a while ago. Even a foolish one would probably shut up now. But then again, I’m not me unless I’m acting like the biggest idiot in the entire world.
“I am so smart,” I sang, loudly and obnoxiously - and, if I'm being honest, rather badly. “I am so smart.”
And cue the third and final warning sign: the dreaded eye twitch. I’m fairly certain that Selene’s eye twitch is the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I’ve never actually encountered a boggart, but I’m sure that when I do, it’ll turn into an angry Selene.
“Hey, I know where my mum hid the fudge. You want to go nick some?” I asked, trying my best not to smirk.
Selene froze. Her eye stopped twitching and her face went carefully blank. She stared at me with an almost wary look. I tried to arrange my face into an innocent expression, but I don’t really think it worked out very well.
“…you did that on purpose. Didn’t you?” Selene asked quietly, a suspicious light in her eyes.
“Did what?” I asked, feigning ignorance that I’m sure Selene didn’t believe for a second. I’m sure she’s well aware of the fact that I’m internally laughing maniacally.
“Don’t play dumb. You did it on purpose,” she accused.
Finally, I let my lips curve up into what I assumed to be a mischievous smile. With my luck, it probably looked constipated. “Are you suggesting that I purposefully annoyed you until Scary Selene made an appearance, only to then strategically offer you fudge, your one true weakness? What a preposterous idea.”
Selene continued to gaze at me with no expression on her face. “Where’s the fudge at?”
“Mum keeps it in a special hiding place,” I answered. “I found it last year and never told her.”
“You mean you actually managed to keep a secret from your mum for once in your life?” she asked, a hint of a smile starting to appear on her lips.
I shot her a dirty look. “I resent that. Are you trying to imply something?”
“Oh, nothing,” she said airily. “Just that you’re a complete Mummy’s Boy. But everyone already knows that.”
“Oi!” I cried. “That is not true!”
I’m not a Mummy’s Boy. At all. Well… okay, maybe I am. But that doesn’t mean Selene has to point it out. Besides, my mum’s awesome. It’s a fact.
“James, the relationship you have with your mum borders on a severe Oedipus Complex.”
I clapped my hands over my ears. “Stop it! You’re ruining a special mother-son bond! Don’t taint it! La la la, I can’t hear you!”
Selene gave me The Look. “I’ve met toddlers with more maturity than you.”
“No fudge for you,” I said, dropping my hands and sticking my tongue out at her. I wasn’t going to bother trying to contradict her statement. In fact, I think I may have just proven her right. That happens a lot.
You know, the last time I was in this situation, I should have seen it coming. This time, however, I was completely surprised to find Selene’s body slamming into mine as she tackled me to the ground and sat on my chest.
Not good. Not good at all. The last time this happened, things ended quite badly. Or quite well, depending on how you think about it.
Those are probably not the kind of things I should be thinking about while Selene’s on top of me. Bad James. Stop it.
“If you don’t give me fudge right now, I will tear your limbs off. Got it?” she growled, pinning my arms down. I should be ashamed that she can take me down so easily. I’m nearly a foot taller than the girl. This is not okay.
“Didn’t you once tell me you didn’t believe in violence? Something about being a pacifist?” I asked her, trying to whimper in fear at the slightly crazed look in her eye. She never used to be this intense about fudge. I blame the hormones.
Selene grinned evilly. It was a terrifying sight. “You’re a special exception
“If I give you fudge,” I said cautiously, watching Selene like she was a rabid wildebeest of some sort. That actually isn’t too bad of a comparison – not that I’d ever tell her that. “Will you promise not to eat me?”
Selene rolled off me and got to her feet. “As if I’d eat you,” she scoffed, offering me a hand to help pull me up. “You’re far too scrawny. There’s not nearly enough meat on your bones.”
Jokes about cannibalism. Awesome. Maybe she really is a wild animal. I wonder what form she would take as an Animagus. Probably a tiger. Or a shark.
“To the fudge!” I cried, before promptly picking Selene up and tossing her over my shoulder.
She shrieked as I carried her out of my room and downstairs to the kitchen. She began kicking and flailing, shouting protests that I ignored, though I could hear the veiled laughter in her death threats. I used both hands to keep her in place on my shoulder, one on her back and the other around her legs.
As soon as I walked into the sitting room I froze. Selene took this opportunity to struggle and scream more violently. “JAMES SIRIUS POTTER YOU PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME, YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ACCIDENTALLY IMPREGNATING A GIRL EVER AGAIN!”
I baredly heard her, however. I was too busy staring at an unexpected sight. Louis was sitting down in an armchair, raising an eyebrow at us speculatively. The corner of his mouth twitched slightly when Selene somehow managed to kick me in the throat. Needless to say, I put her down immediately, my eyes watering in pain. She turned around before also freezing at the sight of Louis.
There was a brief, heavy silence until I cleared my rather sore throat. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you two,” he said mildly. His face took on a concerned look as his eyes shifted to Selene. “Are you, uh, okay?”
“Fine,” Selene said, her face blank.
“Look,” Louis said with a sigh, “I’m sorry about what happened back at the Burrow. It… wasn’t really the best place or time for it. But, well, can’t you see why I was a little put out?”
“Frankly, Louis, I don’t see how it was your business,” Selene replied, her voice cold. She crossed her arms over her chest, her mouth set in a stubborn line. Oh boy, this was not going to go over well.
“How abot because I’m your friend?” Louis suggested incredulously.
“Friends don’t judge.”
Louis scoffed. “Everyone judges. Everyone. Even if we try not to, or don’t act on it, on the inside, every person is judging others. And you know what, yes, I’m shocked about what happened. Why wouldn’t I be? I’m not mad about that, though. I’m not upset, either. I just wish you’d told me.”
Selene’s face remained hard. “I’m going back upstairs. James, I guess the fudge can wait.”
With that, she turned and walked back up the stairs. I winced. Selene was currently in the middle of what I referred to as one of her “scary calms.” These happen when she’s mad about something, but doesn’t let it show. Eventually, the anger builds up and explodes on an innocent bystander. Most likely that will be me.
Louis stared at the staircase with a frown. “You know mate, I love Selene like a sister and I think she’s great, but sometimes…”
“She can be a little much?” I finished for him.
Louis nodded. “I don’t know how you manage sometimes. You’re on the receiving end of her temper more than anyone I know, except maybe Mickey Daniels.”
“I still don’t know why Selene hates her so much,” I said thoughtfully, thinking of my Potion’s partner.
“Seriously, though, how do you deal with it?” Louis asked.
I mulled over that for a brief moment. “I don’t know. I’ve really thought of it as ‘dealing with it’ before. Yes, Selene has a temper and an occasionally bad attitude. I know that all too well. But it’s just part of who she is. Everyone has qualities that are less than ideal. Selene has to ‘deal with’ my chronic case of putting my foot in my mouth. It’s all about finding the better qualities to balance it out. There are numerous other things that I like about Selene. It may not be a popular opinion, but it’s mine. She’s my best friend and that’s all there is to it.”
Louis gave me a speculative look. “For a bloke who gets called an idiot on a daily basis, you’re pretty wise.”
“True dat, homie.”
Oh look, now Louis is giving me The Look. “Ignore me,” I told him.
“Don’t have to tell me twice,” he muttered.
“Look, mate,” I started, “I’m sorry about not telling you about Selene being pregnant. It was just… really complicated. The two of us never really talked about it. We would have told you eventually, though. It’s just all so mad.”
Louis nodded. “It’s okay. Sorry for freaking out earlier. That was neither the time nor the place for it.”
There was a long moment of mildly awkward silence. My fingers tapped restlessly against my leg as Louis and I alternately shot each other covert glances. Louis has never been a particularly verbose person and I was just at a loss as to what I should say.
“So,” Louis said eventually, “what’s, er, going on with you and Selene, then?”
“Well, we’re having a kid,” I replied slowly. I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted me to say. “Before you got here we were going to nick some of my mum’s fudge.”
“You know that’s not what I mean,” Louis said impatiently. “You two… shagged. What’s going on with that? How did it even happen?”
I sighed and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Take a seat. It’s time I tell you the story of how I became a man.”
“You’re ridiculous,” he muttered. Nevertheless, he resumed his seat in the armchair while I sprawled across the sofa.
“So… yeah,” I began. I wasn’t exactly sure how to tell the story. Trust me, no one else had wanted to know the detail of how the pregnancy exactly occurred. And since that had been the one and only time I’d ever had sex, I wasn’t sure how to… tell the story.
I know teenage boys have these reputations for being sex-crazed, overly hormonal creatures that can’t control their most base urges, but that really wasn’t the case. At least, not for me. Sure, I think about sex. But you see, the thing is that I’m terribly awkward. It’s an unfortunate affliction. So I really have no idea how to do this.
Al and Louis have both had sex before but we’ve never… discussed it. I can see how this particular time, though, there might be a bit more interest. Let’s face it, I hadn’t even expected Selene and I to sleep together. I’m sure no one else did either. Naturally, they’re curious. It’s still weird though.
“So how it happened was… I mean, it occurred… the circumstances in which the aforementioned event took place are as follows… bloody hell,” I groaned. “Shouldn’t this be… I don’t know, natural or something? I’m a bloke, should I be able to talk about this with ease because of genetics or something?”
“What are you on about? Just… describe the events that led up to you and Selene… doing the deed,” Louis said. “Frankly, I’m confused as to how it could ever happen without you two… dating or something, but you’re not.”
“Events leading up to it,” I muttered. “Right. So, it was this summer, while my parents, Al, and Lily were in France. They didn’t bring me because I may or may not have dabbled in some unwarranted pyrotechnics that ended in both Al and Lily needing new brooms.”
“You blew up the broom cupboard, right,” Louis said.
“Yeah. Who knew that the combination of one of Uncle George’s fireworks, water, some dust, and no sunlight would be so explosive, eh?”
“I wouldn’t have seen that coming.”
“But it’s definitely something to keep in the memory vault,” I said, smiling slightly. The smoke from the explosion had been the oddest shade of orange and smelled vaguely of chocolate and cats. My dad said it reminded him of his former neighbor’s house.
“Tangent aside,” I said, “my family was gone and Selene was staying over here, as always. We were sitting up in my room, arguing about Quidditch. I, er, displayed astounding levels of maturity which may have ruffled Selene’s feathers a bit.”
“Basically, you acted like a child and Selene got angry,” Louis said.
I tapped my nose. “Too right you are. Well, Selene, being the lovely girl she is, got so frustrated that she tackled me. We had a small sort of wrestling match and I, ah, had her pinned to the floor.”
“Shut up. Anyways, it was about that time that I started thinking about how bloody attractive Selene is… and then I smelled the coconut.”
I nodded. “She smells like coconut. It’s uncanny, really. So, I may have taken leave of my senses and kissed her. Then she kissed me back. A lot. At that point, things just started to get a bit more… yeah. So we… yeah. It just sort of happened.”
Louis was giving me an odd look. His eyes were squinty and he frowned. “Are you saying that the whole reason why this entire thing happened was because Selene smells like coconuts?”
I thought about that for a minute. “Yeah, pretty much. It makes you wonder how different things would be is she smelled like flowers or something, doesn’t it?”
What I didn't mention, of course, was the fact that I actually fancied Selene. There's a reason why fancying your best friend can be so messy. Not only do you risk ruining the friendship over it, but it also makes things awkward with mutual friends. Do you tell them? Do you keep it a secret? What would they think?
Louis rolled his eyes at me. “You’re an idiot.”
“Why do people keep insisting on telling me that?”
“Why do you keep acting like an idiot?”
“Why are you blond?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“It’s one of your inherent traits. People don’t question it because that’s just the way it is.”
“Same goes for my idiocy.”
Louis raised an eyebrow. “Sometimes I have to wonder if you have self-esteem problems.”
“Nah,” I said, brushing off the comment. “I’m too beautiful for that.”
“Now I’m wondering if you’re narcissistic,” he said. “And what kind of bloke describes himself as ‘beautiful?’”
I shrugged. “Me, apparently. But don’t worry, Veela boy. You’re pretty too.”
I grunted in response. We lapsed back into semi-uncomfortable silence. I couldn’t help but worry about Selene. I know how she gets when she’s mad, and I know it’d be best for me to stay out of this argument until she and Louis make nice, but I just can’t help but to hate seeing her upset. Every person has a weak spot. It’s pretty easy to see that Selene is mine.
I glanced over at Louis. He was watching me, a quizzical half-smirk on his face. Every now and then his eyebrow would twitch. I’m pretty sure this is his I Need To Ask You A Weird Question look.
“All right, I’ll bite,” I said to him. “What do you need to ask me?"
“What makes you think I –“
“Louis. Please,” I said, holding up my hand. “I may be an idiot, but I’m not daft.”
Now he looked confused. “Isn’t that what idiot means?”
I glared at him. Little bugger needs to stop questioning my logic. “Details, they matter not.”
“Don't you think you should work on the word order of that sentance?” Louis asked, amusement creeping into his voice.
He. Keeps. On. Questioning. Me.
I snapped my fingers impatiently. “Louis. Your question. Ask it.”
Is it hypocritical of me to be mentally complaining that he keeps questioning me and then verbally demand him to ask me a question? Why do I get myself into these situations? Or rather, how?
Suddenly, Louis’s face split into a shifty grin. “How was it?”
I furrowed my brow, baffled. “How was what?”
“Really, James? What do you think I’m talking about?” he groaned in exasperation.
Oh. Oh. Right. That. “Er… fine. It was nice. Yeah.”
My entire body felt flushed with heat. I’m sure my face was even redder than the Weasley family red hair. Am I sweating? I think I’m sweating. Is this normal? I mean, I thought I would be, I don’t know, more comfortable talking about this. I mean, Louis is my cousin and my mate. I should be able to talk about this with him. Without blushing like a school girl.
“Is that so? That good?” Louis asked dryly.
“Fine,” I said, throwing my hands in the air. “It was… well, frankly it was pretty awkward, but it was good. I, er, enjoyed myself –“ Really? Enjoyed myself? Why do I talk? “It was satisfactory –“ Wow, I’m smooth. “Overall a pleasant, though odd, experience.”
I could tell Louis was trying not to laugh. Meanwhile, I’m sure my face had bypassed red and turned what was sure to be a lovely shade of purple. It’s hard to be this awesome.
“Look, what do you want me to say?” I sighed. “Was it perfect? No. I mean, bloody hell, I had no idea what I was doing! But… yeah.”
“Merlin, James, why are you so nervous? It’s not like I’m interrogating you.”
“Even if you were, you’d get nothing out of me! I’m a trained spy!” I burst out. Seriously, being a spy would be so cool.
“I can’t believe I used to think you were one of the normal ones,” Louis muttered.
“Hey, we both know I’m the second-most sane in our group of friends, right behind you,” I protested. “Selene is irrationally angry and Nick is, well…”
“Nick,” Louis finished.
“Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up,” I said with a vague smile. That reminds me, I wonder how Mr. Sprinkles is doing?
…did I just worry about the well-being of a platypus?
Bloody hell, maybe I’m less sane than I thought.
And so ends chapter nine. I was going to write more, but I decided to save it for next chapter. All you wonderful people have had to wait long enough! This chapter seems a bit fillery, but there was some good stuff in there, I think. I’m glad I was able to show extended interaction with James and Louis.
Next chapter will bring: a punishment for James, more mentions of Selene’s parents, and Albus. Stay tuned!
If anyone has any questions for me – about the story or anything else that tickles your fancy – you can ask me over at my brand new Meet the Author’s page over at the forums or at my blog. You can find links for both on my Author’s page. Cheers!