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The Ugly Truth by sexilongbottom

Format: Short story
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 15,349
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Fluff
Characters: Albus, James (II), Lily (II), OC

First Published: 10/18/2009
Last Chapter: 04/15/2010
Last Updated: 04/15/2010

Claire Bowen was the biggest reject Hogwarts had to offer. She had a total of one friend and was far from being a beauty. When her seventeenth birthday roles around she finds out some shocking news that she is sure will make her into an even bigger outcast, but in a completely different way.

Chapter 5: Deal with the Enemy

“I can’t believe it!” Traci practically shrieked.

Claire looked across the Ravenclaw table where they were sitting eating breakfast.

“What can’t you believe?” Claire asked her.

“Look at this!” Traci said as she placed down the magazine she had been reading on the table. There looking back up at Claire was a picture of herself. Claire tried her best not to show any emotion but she couldn’t help but let a little gasp escape. Thankfully Traci was too absorbed in reading the article that she didn’t hear Claire.

“Who is she?” Roger asked through a mouthful of food. “She’s cute.” Of course, the one time Roger thinks that Claire is cute she didn’t even look like herself. And now of course Claire looked like her regular, ordinary self. As soon as she had gotten back from the party she had taken off all of the charms Lavender had used to clean up her appearance.

“Lavender Brown’s daughter!” Traci answered. “I told you those rumors about her having a child were true.” This statement made Claire think back to that day on the train when they had met Traci reading a magazine article about Lavender Brown having a daughter. If someone had known back then that she had a daughter would it be possible for someone to know who that daughter really was? Claire started to panic at the thought that she might be discovered.

“Are you okay?” Roger asked Claire.

“What?” Claire asked, forgetting temporarily where she was.

“You look scared.” Roger pointed out.

“Oh, um I forgot about a Ancient Ruins project.” Claire said hastily as she got up from the table and practically ran to the common room.

Okay, you are probably just overreacting. Claire thought to herself. Just because some nosy reporter guessed correctly that Lavender had a child did not mean that anyone knew that Claire Bowen was Clarissa Brown, right? After all, they had taken precautions. Her parents had taken great care to cover the trail that led them back to Lavender and Lavender always apparated right into the house so no one ever saw her coming or going. No, Claire was probably just overreacting, that was all.

Claire looked at her watch and resisted the urge to swear, Lavender had told her that swearing was very unbecoming and that she was never to do it again. Then Claire remembered that before Lavender arrived Claire had a perfectly normal, happy life and she swore aloud before running from the room. Claire practically flew down the multiple flights of stairs as she rushed to Ancient Runes. In her hurry Claire completely forgot about the vanishing stair. Halfway through her decent down the fateful stairwell her leg became stuck in that dreadful step. Claire swore again, now she was never going to get to class on time.

“Wow that was real graceful.” Someone said from behind Claire. She swung her head around and saw James Potter leaning against a wall with an smirk on his face as he looked at Claire.

“Come over here and help me Potter.” Claire said as she struggled to get herself out of the stair. James pretended to think about it for a moment before shaking his head no.

“I don’t think so.” James said.

“The wall can support itself now get over here and help me Potter!” Claire had snapped. Today was not going well and she was still mad at James for what happened at the party. Well, she was actually still mad at him for the incident on the first of September their first year of Hogwarts, but that was a long time ago and she liked to focus on the present.

“Now Bowen, we both know that I can’t help you.” James said as he lazily began to walk a circle around Claire.

“Oh, and why is that?” Claire asked as she raised both of her eyebrows at James.

“Because then it would mean that I was being nice to you.” James explained. “And we both know that we can never be nice to each other because then it would bring chaos to the universe.”

“Stop being so melodramatic.” Claire said as she rolled her eyes at James.

“What’s in it for me if I decide to help you?” James asked. “Because you can’t expect me to help you out of there without something being in it for me.”

Claire glared at James for a while, but then knew that she would never be able to get out of the step without his help. No one else was going to help her out, they were all in class.

“Fine, what do you want?” Claire said through gritted teeth.

James stood back for a moment and pretended to think about it.

“Hmm, this is a rare opportunity.” James said. “I will have to think this over carefully.”

“Hurry up Potter!” Claire snapped. “I haven’t got all day.”

“What?” James asked “Are you going to go and run off somewhere else?” James asked with a laugh and the he caught the murderous look on Claire’s face and cleared his throat. “Right, what I want is simple.” He said. “If I help you will help me with History of Magic.”

“Why on earth would I help you with your class?” Claire demanded.

“Because you are one of the smartest girls our grade and if you don’t agree to help me then you remain stuck here until the next person comes along.” James explained. Claire hated him for forcing her to do this but she had no choice.

“Fine.” Claire said stubbornly. “I will help you. Now get me out of here.” She said as she held out arms towards him.

James took both of Claire’s hands and pulled her out of the step. Claire had been so stuck in the step that it took a lot of force to free her and then once she was free they both went tumbling down the stairs. They rolled down the stairs until they reached the landing and Claire ended up landing on him.

“Sorry” Claire said as she immediately got off of James. “I have about as much grace and poise as a fridge.” As soon as Claire said that last statement James looked at her strangely and then Claire remembered why. She had said almost the exact same thing at the party when they were dancing. She couldn’t behave so much like herself when she was Clarissa, it was too dangerous.

“Have you said that to me before?” James asked Claire suspiciously.

“Oh probably.” Claire said, doing her best to try and act normal. “It is a very common saying, all klutzy people say that.” James looked at her for a moment longer before seeming to accept her excuse. “Aren’t you late for class?” Claire asked James, she knew he was known to skip class but she wasn’t going to let him use her as an excuse.

“Aren’t you?” he retorted and Claire swore again as she looked at her watch. Maybe she should start to listen to Lavender and cut back on her swearing. It actually wasn’t all that often that she swore, it was just today because she was running so late.

James just laughed as Claire swore. “There is no point in you going to class now.” James said. “It is over halfway over already. If you go now you will only get a detention.”

“But if I don’t go won’t I get a detention as well?” Claire asked suspiciously.

“Not if you know how to get around it.” James said mischievously. Claire knew that she shouldn’t ask James how to get around it. She knew she should be rushing to Ancient Runes and apologizing to Professor Bathsheda right now but for some reason she couldn’t get herself to leave.

“What do you mean?” Claire asked against her best judgment.

“Do you trust me?” James asked.

“No.” Claire answered instantly.

“Good answer. Come on.” James said as he began to walk towards a solid brick wall. Claire watched as James placed his hand on one of the bricks and firmly pushed against it. The entire wall jumped back and revealed the grounds. James then walked outside without looking back at Claire. She knew it was a mind game of his, he was so confident that of course Claire would follow the amazing James Potter went. She didn’t want to go with him. She wanted nothing to do with him but she also knew that he was right. If she went to class now she was guaranteed to get detention. James had said that there was a way out of it. Claire couldn’t stand the thought of doing what James Potter wanted, but she couldn’t stand the idea of detention more. So with a sigh Claire went and followed James outside.

“So how do I get out of detention?” Claire asked as she caught up with James.

“Gosh Bowen, don’t you ever relax.” James said as he flopped down in the shade of a nearby tree.

“Around you? No.” Claire said “Now how do I get out of getting in trouble because you refused to help me. That’s it. I’ll go to Professor Bathsheda and explain to her that you kidnapped me and then she will have to let me off the hook. After all you are a raving lunatic.”

“Don’t you ever shut up?” James snapped. “You are more annoying than a bug. And that is saying something since they are called pests for a reason.”

“Well you can’t blame me for being nervous.” Claire said. “You are threatening to ruin my future!”

“Who is being melodramatic now?” James asked with a smirk.

“Just shut up and tell me how to get out of trouble.” Claire demanded for what felt like the hundredth time.

“You do realize that I can’t do both of those at the same time, right?” James asked as he out his hands behind his head and closed his eyes.

“Well right now you aren’t doing either.” Claire pointed out, thoroughly annoyed by his apparent lack of caring about cutting class. Claire had never missed class in all six years of being at Hogwarts, except for that one time that she had slipped and hit her head and had gotten a concussion. And she had only missed class because Madame Patil, the nurse, had forbid her from going to class.

“You don’t get distracted easily, do you?” James asked as he opened one eye to look at Claire as she stood over him.

“That’s why I manage to maintain such good marks in class because I don’t get distracted like some people.” Claire said pointedly. “But it is hard to keep those good marks if I am not even in class.” Why did it have to be Ancient Runes that she ended up missing? Why couldn’t have been Herbology?

“I’ll tell you what.” James said as he sat up slightly. “If you can lay here and relax and not talk about the fact that you are missing class for the thirty minutes then I will tell you how to avoid getting into trouble.”

Claire looked at James for a while not sure if she should trust him to keep his word or not. Ever fiber in her being was screaming for her not to do it but by this point she didn’t have much of a choice.

“Fine.” Claire said as she sat down in the grass next to James. James smiled that annoying smile that meant that he knew that he had won as he laid back down. James closed his eyes only to open them again to look at Claire.

“I believe I said for you to lay down.” James said. “There is no way you are going to fully relax when you sitting so stiff upright like that.”

Claire wanted to protest but she was too far gone so instead she just lied down instead.

“This better?” She demanded.

“Much.” James said casually. The two of them were lying there for a while but Claire couldn’t take the silence anymore. It was unnerving. Whenever she was around James they were always arguing. There was never any silence.

“This is weird.” Claire said breaking the silence.

“What is?” James asked.

“This.” Claire responded. “The two of us lying out here in silence. It is almost like we are being civil to each other.” At this James let out a laugh.

“You don’t actually think I was trying to be your friend this whole time, do you?” He asked her but didn’t wait for her to respond. “I know how much you hate to be so loose and free so this whole charade was just to get under your skin and judging by the look on your face it worked.” James said as he opened his eyes long enough to look at Claire’s furious look on her face.

“You were never going to help me get out of detention, were you?” Claire demanded, James’s laugh was the only response she needed. “I can’t believe you!” Claire exploded as she shot to her feet. “How dare you mess with not only my mind but with my future too? Just because you are James Potter does not mean that you can get away with whatever you want! When are you going to grow up and stop letting your daddy’s legacy give you whatever you want? One day you are going to wake up and realize that you are going to have to work for what you want because the real world will not put up with your attitude like this school does!” And with that Claire turned on her heel and marched back to the castle. She should learn to listen to her instincts more often.

“Where have you been?” Traci asked as Claire sat down at the Ravenclaw table for dinner. “I haven’t seen you since you disappeared after breakfast.”

“It’s just been a rough day.” Claire answered vaguely and Traci seemed to know better than to press the issue. They sat there eating in silence, well Traci ate anyways. Claire was too nervous and Roger wasn’t there and Claire didn’t think to ask about where he was, she was too busy watching the entrance into the Great Hall for someone else. Suddenly Claire saw who she was looking for and shot out of her seat.

“Professor Bathsheda!” Claire said as she reached the Professor. “I wanted to talk to you about class today.”

“Yes, I noticed that you weren’t in class today.” Professor Bathsheda said.

“That’s my fault I’m afraid.” James said, appearing out of nowhere.

“Mr. Potter, whatever are you talking about?” Professor Bathsheda asked as Claire stared at James, terrified that he was about to get her into even bigger trouble.

“I was unfortunate enough to trip and break my ankle. I would have been stranded in the middle of the castle with no one to help me if Claire had not come by at that precise moment. She was in a hurry to get to your class but I begged and pleaded with her to help me. Claire, being the kind person that she is agreed to help me up to the Hospital Wing. By the time that she had gotten poor, limping me, all the way up there your class was already over.” James explained. Claire knew she was doomed. No intelligent person would have bought that.

“Oh well in that case, since you were assisting an injured comrade I suppose I can let you off the hook this one time.” Professor Bathsheda said as Claire stared at her in complete shock. “But don’t miss my class again, I may not be as forgiving the next time.” And with that Professor Bathsheda left and made her way towards the Head Table. Claire turned her attention back to James and glared at him.

“I can’t believe she bought that.” Claire said.

“You had better start believing in the unbelievable.” James said with his annoying smirk.

“Why did you step in for me?” Claire asked.

“I told you I would tell you how to get out of trouble.” James said simply.

“This doesn’t change anything.” Claire said. “I still hate you.”

“That’s fine, so long as you hold up your end of the bargin and help me in History of Magic.” James said.

Claire glared at him, now knowing why he had really come to help her; it was to make sure that she would still help him. Everything was always about what would benefit him the most.

“Yes I will.” Claire said as she turned and went back to meet with Traci who was looking at her peculiarly.

“What was that about?” Traci asked Claire when she sat back down.

“Potter harassed me into helping him with History of Magic.” Claire said bitterly as she piled her plate high with food. Suddenly she was incredibly hungry.

“Potter as in James Potter?” Traci asked. “As in your sworn enemy, never to get along with Potter?”

“That would be the one.” Claire said.

“Oh how dreadful.” Traci gasped.

“Tell me about it.”