Chapter 9 : Mind Blown
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*-____JAMES’ POINT OF VIEW (A.N: HE’S SO HAWT AND SEXY) ____-*
Amelie opened her mouth to say something witty, and I took the opportunity to kiss her.
I felt her freeze beneath my touch, obviously surprised, but then she was running her fingers through my hair. I couldn’t believe the last time we had done this had been over three years ago, but it felt like yesterday. My hands travelled up and down her sides, finally landing on her hips, and I couldn’t believe this was happening. Amelie was kissing me again, in my kitchen, with my whole family next door, with Henrietta at home, and...
Amelie pulled away from me. She took one breath while I stood there, confused, my lips still puckered and my arms around her waist.
And then she was back, and I sensed a difference in the way she kissed me. Her lips were passionate and eager but not too aggressive. This wasn’t trying to prove anything. We were kissing and it was great and I was happy and hopefully she was happy, and it was like Georgia Watson and those three years hadn’t happened.
And she had come back to me. She could have stopped me from kissing her. She could have left the room and never talked to me again, but here she was.
"I forgot what I was going to say," she said in a breathless voice.
"Then it wasn't important," I murmured back.
"Shit," I whispered, sitting up in bed.
He rolled over, snoring and shuffling in his sleep. I looked down at him, and then pulled the blankets up around my chin. After many hours of tossing and turning, I had fallen asleep, only to be suddenly awoken from a dream in which a hippogriff had been chasing me before I had decided to kiss it. It had promptly kicked me in the face.
James had kissed me. I had kissed James. He had put his mouth on my mouth and I had poked it with my tongue while feeling some romantic attachment and some attraction. He hadn’t kicked me in the face. I had done it under my own steam, under no duress, with nobody pressuring me. It was my choice.
And it was a stupid choice, yes, most definitely. I shouldn't have done it. I was with Ewan, and I liked him very, very much. James was with Henrietta, and she was all right, I supposed.
Overall, I shouldn’t have kissed him back, and I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed it that much.
After it happened, I stumbled away from him. I told that we should probably be going home, that the party was dwindling down, that I had said what I wanted to say to him - that at least was true. I had wanted to apologise to him for how I had treated him, how I had acted. I had, but then I had gone off on a very wild tangent that had included tonsil tennis.
James was all up for staying, for me coming back to his for a ‘night cap’. He had wiggled his eyebrows, held my hands loosely in his, and said all the things that he knew I enjoyed hearing, but I couldn’t. Admittedly, there was a twinge, a soft, soaring feeling in my chest that made me feel warm from my toes to my temple - but it was overpowered by an encompassing feeling of guilt that settled in my stomach like lead.
Ewan rolled over again, his hand grasping for the blanket that was currently wrapped around me in some hope of protection from the outside world and from my inner turmoil. I was perched as far away from him as possible, because I was convinced that he could tell my treachery from the way I kissed or touched him.
When I had tried to sleep, I had been plagued with visions of the kiss happening over and over again, and then suddenly a whole montage of embarrassing moments flashed through my mind, spanning from first year until last week. I lay in the darkness, cringing at my own stupid mistakes.
Ewan had looked at me strangely when I come home, glancing up from his report with piercing eyes, as if he knew that I had done something wrong. He didn’t even blink and, with an aching sense of dread, I thought maybe someone had already told him - perhaps James had already been round to gloat.
But instead, he simply moaned about the length of the report, asked for a cup of tea, and returned to his work, leaving me to mope around his flat, glum and despondent with guilt. I had only come here rather than home on the pretense of telling Ewan what had happened, so some of the guilt could be lifted - but instead we had drunk our tea, I watched Ewan finish his report and then we went to bed.
I exhaled deeply as Ewan‘s eyes flickered open and shut. I don’t why I had done it to him.
Slipping out of bed and pulling on one of Ewan’s old jumpers, I went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. The sun had not risen yet, but the birds were already singing loudly through the open window. It was so pleasantly cool, much better than the scorching heat wave that seemed to have England in its grasp.
I had to go to work in four hours. I had to interview another person for the ‘Get to Know’ column, because the previous encounters had been so wondrously received and Lavender Brown definitely was not suing us for personal damages (a suitable lack of gin) - but all I could think about was this whole stupid mess and how I had caused it. I couldn’t blame James any longer. I could have said ‘no’, but I didn’t. It was my own fault.
I pulled my notes and folders out of my bag and set to work, researching.
There were at least seven cups of coffee coursing through my veins as I sat down in front of Christopher Enwhistle, prominent herbologist. My hands were shaking and my eyes were twitching to and for, but I had to interview this man for the bloody 'Get To Know' column that my boss had deemed a good idea - "some thing that allows our peasant readers to relate to people of a higher intellectual prowess," she had said.
I had failed to tell her that those 'peasant readers' paid her wages, but Grace Castle-Carmichael was obviously of a lower intellectual prowess.
Christopher Enwhistle was small and round, with pale watery eyes and a shock of bright ginger curls that seemed to be occupied, here and there, by leaves of varying size and colour. He coughed weakly before answering my question.
"I think I first became interested in Herbology after studying for the first time at Hogwarts. Professor Pomona Sprout will always be an inspiration to me."
"You were in Hufflepuff, were you not?" My thorough research in the early hours of this morning had proved useful so far, and my caffeine-assaulted brain meant I was digesting the information as fast as I could.
"Oh yes," he said. "Great, great house."
"And you were at Hogwarts at the time of the Second Wizarding War?"
"Until my fifth year, yes; then they started rounding up the Muggleborns so I convinced my parents that my cousins' house in Dublin would be the safest place for me."
I took another sip of coffee while the herbologist paused, his short fat fingers rapping the table top.
"Well, aside from all that," he said, and shook his hands as if to move the subject along, "I had enjoyed the biological side of science at the Muggle primary school I had attended, and Herbology just seemed like the natural follow-on..."
"And did you ever feel discriminated against because of your background?"
"Obviously during what would have been my sixth year," Enwhistle said sadly, "but other than that, no, not at all. Hufflepuff house was always greatly welcoming."
I picked up a sheet of parchment to check some facts. My untidy scrawl from the early hours of this morning seemed even more illegible after numerable cups of coffee. Enwhistle had made some scientific breakthrough, some new way of dating the age of plants, or recording the climatic conditions in which they grow.
"Tell me about the Longwhistle Dating Theorem," I said, and his face visibly brightened. He clapped his podgy hands together.
"Yes, well, as you probably know, plants often record the climatic conditions in which they grow, allowing us to reconstruct past environments and date them accordingly. Muggles have been working on this for years in order to try and combat 'climate change', something they think is a major issue."
"No," Enwhistle replied. "We've been helping them with leveling out their gas emissions, fossil fuel burning, stuff like that. We've invented a number of spells..."
I looked blankly at him.
"It's difficult to grasp, I know, but when you hear constantly about recycling from your mother..."
"Oh, never mind," he said, rather sharply. I noted down the phrases he had mentioned in order to research them later. "The Longwhistle Theorem is very complex - I worked on it with Neville Longbottom. You know him, I'm sure, a girl of your age - he must have taught you."
A sudden image of myself, wrestling a Venomous Tentacula whilst a harassed Professor Longbottom shouted at me for not paying attention, flashed through my mind. Herbology had never been my strong suit.
“We worked on it together,” he continued, “very, very, bright fellow. Extraordinary. But always seemed to forget something, whether it was the shears, the vials, his own hat...”
The little man chuckled reminiscently.
“And your new theory makes the previous dating method obsolete, is that correct?”
“I must say, Miss Harris, you do know your stuff. Albert Greybeard was very concerned - he warned me about coming here, about you and your colleagues but I think you’re doing a marvellous job.”
I sat up a little straightener. Perhaps this day wouldn’t be so bad after all. I tried to ignore the memories of verbally assaulting a famous potioneer and Andrew’s smug, smarmy face as we almost got fired. At least I could look back on this later, after I had told Ewan about what happened with James, with some small sense of dignity. I knew that later on I would be totally crushed and at that point wine would be my only friend.
“Just trying to give an in depth picture for our readers.”
“Of course you are, of course you are. And you’re right, in some respects. This new dating process is far more reliable, and allows us to obtain results much more easily,” he said. “However, while the old system was unpredictable, we could pinpoint some exact results, allowing us to be happy with our reconstructions.”
“So which is better?”
“Some herbologists think it is impossible to determine, whereas I think it is the new theory, and I tink my colleagues would agree with me.”
“Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Seeing as you invented it.”
Enwhistle chucked again. “The old system was very anatagonising, but yielded good results. The new one can offer the same quality of results but with less damage to your morale, so to speak. We just need to give it a little time to prove its worth, to get the herbology community on the right track.”
I looked down at my notes, to see what points I could next bring up - but after reading the words I had scribbled under ‘The Longwhistle Dating Theorem’, I paused. Next to ‘old’, were written the words: ‘unpredictable’, ‘antagonising’, ‘good results’ and ‘happy’. Next to ‘new’ was written ‘reliable’, ‘safer’, ‘easier’ and ‘also good results’, with ‘give it time’ scrawled in my messy handwriting.
Perhaps I was reading into things - perhaps I had stupidly believed, as my Divination professor had always badgered on about, that the universe always gave us signs. Maybe it was just my subconsciousness screaming at me.
I looked at Enwhistle, waiting patiently for my next question - smiling serenely, his chin perched on his chubby fingers. I shook my head. I shouldn’t be thinking about James and Ewan and all that at work. Not now.
“So, what makes your perfect Sunday?”
And then the explosion went off.
Christopher Enwhistle seemed to droop and wither in the sweltering heat of the street outside. A drop of sweat dripped from the end of his round, bulbous nose, and fell with a soft ‘ploop’ onto the baking tarmac below. There was smoke rising from the windows of the building. People all around us in Diagon Alley were gasping and pointing, while officials cordoned off the area and barked orders at those standing too close.
Flames flickered from only one window, however - and it seemed to be the tiny little window that was in our office. I stared at Emily, who was staring wide-eyed at her feet, grasping her cactus. Andrew stood next to her, his smart silk tie smoldering slightly. It had something to do with them, I knew it. Emily barely ever stopped talking, and in the rare moments she was silent, it was because she had done something terribly wrong.
“And what are your names?”
Someone was taking a register, making sure everyone was all right. I showed them my visitor’s badge and explained that Enwhistle was here for the column, and she smiled graciously.
“Lovely,” she replied, ticking something on her piece of parchment. “Just lovely.”
“Is everyone all right? Is anybody hurt?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” the woman replied, still smiling. “I haven’t got through my register yet.”
“But you reckon that...”
There was a scream and the glass entrance doors, blackened as they were with soot and grime, were pushed open, and a man came out. He was carrying a woman over his shoulder, her head covered by his shirt to protect her mouth and eyes from the smoke. His bare chest was covered in black dust and sweat, and his abs shone wonderfully in the midday heat. The woman with the register smiled even more brightly.
“Who’s that?” I asked, but she already rushed off into the rapidly forming crowd to tick his name off the register.
Enwhistle chortled. “I don’t know what it is about you women and your firemen.”
I was still gawping at the man before I realised that the herbologist had spoken. I didn’t know what was wrong with me this past couple of days - I was just openly staring (and kissing, my subconcious reminded me) at good looking men. Eh, who doesn’t like a bit of reverse gender roles? I’ll be cat-calling next.
He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”
“So... umm,” I said, now switching my attention from the man with the abs and to Enwhistle, “what made your perfect Sunday?”
“Well, when I was small...”
It was just unfortunate that I could see the entrance to the Prophet just over Enwhistle’s shoulder - that way it would seem that I was listening intently to the herbologist, whereas instead I was looking at ab-man from the low wall we were sitting on. The woman he had been carrying was now safely in the hands of the mediwizards, and someone had, rather stupidly and not for the benefit of others, handed him a shirt that he was putting on now. He had washed his face and arms, and was now pushing his hair back, away from his face.
I stabbed my quill so suddenly into my parchment that it ripped a hole.
“Are you all right, Miss Harris?”
“Yes,” I replied stiffly, turning to face Enwhistle once again. “Yes, yes... I’m fine.”
The man was walking towards us now, pushing aside people who were wanting to take his photo, or wanting his autograph. Some small child, dressed head to foot in bright orange Quidditch robes, stopped him and giggled and smiled and hugged him, while his mother took a photograph. The man was obviously lauding over all of it, smiling at me while he picked his way across the street.
“So... that’s great,” I replied stupidly. I hadn’t been listening to a word the herbologist had said, and so I had no idea how he would spend his perfect Sunday - not that anybody cared, I shouldn’t think. I hadn’t even written anything down. “And... and the book you’re reading at the moment, would you care to share that with us?”
Enwhistle mentioned Beatrix Bloxam.
“Amelie...” I ignored the voice, and the person that had blocked out the sun.
“So you like Bloxam’s work?” I asked. Enwhistle seemed confused.
“Yes, but I think that this young man...” he stared at him and then at me. I stared pointedly at him and tapped by quill on my notebook. Enwhistle blinked. “Yes, I mean... I read the Toadstool Tales to my grandchildren, because I think Beedle the Bard is a bit too dark, and I don’t really read anything aside from academic journals, but...”
“Oh brilliant! You have grandchildren. Tell me about them.”
“I think that’s breaching his privacy, Amelie. It’s his family after all.” I ignored the other person once again. Enwhistle seemed even more bewildered than before.
“Well there’s little Felicity - she’s only six, and Billy is about to start his first year,” he said and he looked at me again, and I wrote the names in my notebook. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk to him? I could do with a break, and I’m parched. And he seems particularly keen to talk to you...”
“No,” I said stubbornly. “Let’s continue.”
But Enwhistle wasn’t listening. “What is your name, young man?”
“James Potter, sir.”
I left my head fall into my hands. I couldn’t deal with this - not now, not when things had just started going today. My research about Enwhistle had paid off, and I wasn’t really thinking about what I had to tell Ewan later today. Everything was going well, until Emily had set off some sort of explosion, James had turned up and proved his worth by saving someone’s life and showing off his abs, but still smirking in that infuriatingly annoying way. I didn’t know what he was expecting.
I couldn’t sit here and listen to this. It was too hot. I didn’t have an office anymore. All of my shit would have burnt, probably. I didn’t want to confront James after what happened last night. I just wanted to tell Ewan and then that would be the end of it - either Ewan would break up with me, or we’d stay together and I would happily avoid talking to James if that was the case.
“Aren’t you some sort of Quidditch player?” Enwhistle asked.
“So you like Quidditch?” I asked, hopeful that he may carry on the interview.
“Yeah. Chudley Cannons,” James replied.
“Oh, that’s my son’s favourite team. I knew I had heard the name somewhere.”
“Well, I promise to give you some free tickets if you’ll give me just a couple of minutes with Miss Harris here,” James replied, suitably charming and smooth and annoying. Enwhistle clapped his pudgy hands together, and I knew Potter had won.
“That would be stupendous, of course, of course! She’s all yours.”
“I have a boyfriend!” I shouted out stupidly.
They both looked at me. Enwhistle shook my hand especially cautiously before heading off to the nearest cafe, saying he’d be back in five minutes to finish the interview. I still couldn’t look at James, however, and I furiously reread my notes. I could feel him sit down next to me, but I didn’t want him to.
“I guess from your reaction that me being here that you don’t want to talk to me,” he said quietly. I could see his knee bouncing just out of the corner of my vision, just as it always did when he was nervous. I reread my notes about the Dating Theorem, stubbornly refusing the desire to snap at him - of course I didn’t want him here.
“I just don’t see why you’re angry at me,” James said. “You kissed me back.”
He was right, of course. My grip on my notebook tightened.
“I just came to see you. I had flowers and stuff, but I had to drop them when that woman fainted. I wanted to tell you how much last night meant to me, and whether I had a chance now that you had some time to think about it.”
James moved his hand from his pockets, and hesitated before putting in on my knee. It was comfortably warm.
“You could have stopped me. You could have told me ‘no’. But you didn’t. You kissed me back. That’s got to stand for something, right?”
I looked up at him, staring into his brown eyes. He looked so handsome.
“I’ll talk to you later,” he said, and kissed me gently on the cheek. He disapparated.
“Hey, are you all right?”
Ewan had opened the door with a bright big smile on his face, telling me that his report and presentation had gone well, and that his bosses were very impressed with him and his group. He was surprised I was there, for the second night in a row.
I had told him about how most of my previous articles and my research had burnt in a fire caused by Emily and her bloody Weasley Wizard Wheezes prototypes, and that Andrew was officially sueing her due to the loss of his vintage typewriter and the first manuscript of his memoirs. Christopher Enwhistle would come back for a follow-up piece about his Theorem.
We had eaten dinner in silence, and I had told him that I wasn’t feeling well.
It wasn’t until late at night, when Ewan had finally switched the light off and got into bed, that I blurted it out. At least I didn’t have to look at his expression when it happened, but I could sense the disappointment in his voice. He hadn’t asked anything about James, or where and when it had happened, but said that it was good that I had told him, and not kept it secret.
I told him I was sorry.
He accepted my apology.
He rolled over and hugged me, and I felt secure and safe and relieved - but I still felt guilty. I had broken up with James when he had cheated on me with Georgia Watson. I had told James that we wouldn’t get back together, that I couldn’t trust him - but Ewan was just a better person than I was, I supposed. He had realised that it was just a mistake.
But I didn’t think it was.
Hello! Yes! I’m still alive, and I’m so sorry. The thing about starting university is that you don’t seem to have any privacy to just sit down and write - so I sorta lost interest, but now I’m back at home for summer... here’s a chapter and that. I also apologise for the haphazard use of the analogy, but then I also don’t. Enwhistle was talking about dating, and inadvertently comparing James and Ewan until her mind was BLOWN, so... you’re welcome.
I promise wholeheartedly that you won’t have to wait as long for the next update. I promise. I promise (previous author notes prove that this may not happen, but I’d like to think it may be different this time).
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