A NEW chapter image by Gwendolyn the Weird.
Beta'd by Rachelle.
Anything you recognise is J.K Rowling's.
“Julia! I thought I told you before that you shouldn’t use my shampoo! It’s made especially for brunettes.”
“And Merlin forbid she would want to look anything like you.”
I groaned, and rolled over. Who needed an alarm clock when you shared a dormitory with temperamental, boy-obsessed girls who were up at the crack of dawn to slather make-up on their faces, hitch up their school skirts a few inches and discuss last night’s gossip with such passion that you’d think they would explode if they didn’t tell their friends that someone who wasn’t important did something insignificant with someone who was equally irrelevant. I forced my eyes shut again, trying to block out their hitch-pitched girlish screams and the hideous giggling that was apparently a must-have if you turned to putty whenever someone with a Y chromosome talked to you.
“I can’t find my socks! You know, the pretty pink ones with the bows?”
“Did you borrow them from Umbridge? She might have taken them back.”
I held my pillow over my ears, deciding that if the horrendous nattering didn’t finish soon, then I could simply smother myself and then I would never have to deal with the petulant, spoilt brats. All right, so I wasn’t a morning person. Big huging deal. And judging by the low, angry male voice emanating from one of the four-poster beds neither was Georgia’s latest victim.
“I think I’m going to have the low-fat, sugar free yoghurt today. I really, really want to drop a dress size in time for my sister’s wedding.”
“I can’t believe Jeremy stood me up, he’s such a son of a bitch.”
“Georgia, can I borrow your cherry lip balm?”
“Serena, get out of the bathroom!”
“Does my bum look big in this?”
“Oh, Elizabeth, it’s only a tiny spot, you are so overreacting.”
“Yes, you’re fucking overreacting.”
I groaned again as the events of last night came swooping back into my mind. I flipped myself over, and lay staring at the embroidered canopy of my four-poster for several moments, until the insipid voices of my dorm-mates had disappeared as they all headed down the stairs for breakfast. I didn’t want their sympathetic looks, their scandalous whispering or, Merlin forbid, their hugs and signs of affection. They had probably heard about last night already, and I could imagine Elizabeth glorifying every single little detail as the group of girls descended the marble staircase to the great hall. Her version of the tale probably included James and me having wild make-up sex on the hearthrug, or that we were arguing about how he had under covered some secret smuggling ring in Hogsmeade.
Our argument was going to make Quidditch practice very fun, especially if Rose was playing as well. And if Rose was playing, that meant Scorpius would be watching from the stands with Julia Ripley’s fan club. Things would turn out just peachy.
Sitting up, my head ringing as if I had a hangover, I pulled open the curtains to my bed and stumbled over to the door that lead to the bathroom. After showering and changing into some clothes that would be suitable for training, I quickly went back into the dorm. I tripped over a pair of pink high heels that were lying in the middle of the room and fell face first into the floor.
“Are you alright?”
I grunted, opening my eyes. A boy was standing over me, pulling his shirt back on: Georgia’s latest plaything.
“Hello Henry,” I said, holding out a hand so he could pull me up. Henry Gunman was my partner in Charms class, and was a nice, clever Ravenclaw.
“Not a morning person?” He asked kindly. I merely glared at him as a response, pulling my hair into a sensible ponytail.
“Julia Ripley and her gang of miscreants,” I replied, gesturing to the mountains of clothes, make-up and copies of Witch Weekly that littered the floor of my dorm.
“I didn’t realise anyone could talk that fast or that much about completely ridiculous things,” Henry said.
“And I didn’t realise you were into getting sexually transmitted infections. Georgia Watson, really Henry?”
Henry laughed; ruffling his hair in way that would have made my roommates drool because they thought it was ‘effortlessly cool’. In fact, it just made boys look arrogant and annoying, apart from when James did it. His hair was so messy all the time that he had to flatten it down all the time.
“It’s a one-night thing,” he explained, doing up his shoelace, “I broke up with my girlfriend yesterday.”
“I’m sorry,” I said sympathetically. I wondered whom I would sleep with if James actually continued to not talk to me and we broke up. I didn’t know if anyone male in our year was as sexually active as Georgia Watson. I doubt anyone is. I probably wouldn’t even engage in revenge sex at all if we broke up. I would just spend all my time punching people in anger: preferably my roommates. Crying was for losers.
I must not think about the possibility of James and me breaking up. And I definitely must not think about in the early hours of morning when my brain is working too slowly to process any logical thought.
“If it makes you feel any better,” I continued, “at least now Georgia is only one away from bedding the entire Ravenclaw Quidditch team. It is her lifelong dream.”
“The last one left is Samantha Cage.”
“I wonder how she’ll overcome that obstacle.”
Henry laughed as I picked up my Firebolt. We walked out of the room, chatting amicably, and down the slide that had formed because of Henry’s presence on the stairs. The common room was relatively empty when we reached it, but the first year from yesterday was still sleeping in the armchair by the fireplace.
“You knew it was true, and you didn’t tell me?”
After waking up the small boy, who shrieked with fright at the sight of me and ran straight up the boys' staircase, Henry and I headed down to breakfast in the Great Hall. We walked in together, and then he bid me farewell and walked over to the Ravenclaw table. I turned towards my own table, and saw the rest of the Quidditch team gathered together at the end. I could see James. He was pushing a piece of bacon around his plate with his fork, his eyebrows knotted together in thought. I inhaled deeply to steady my breath and walked over to them, sliding onto the bench between Rose and Dominique.
“Good morning,” Rose said cheerfully, and I smiled weakly at her in response. James shot her an angry glare as he took a long drink from his goblet. Ah well, at least it wasn’t aimed at me.
“What are you up to today, Amelie? After the training, I mean,” Julia Ripley asked me sweetly, her spoon perfectly poised over her healthy fruit salad. I took in her flawless hair and her gorgeous smile, and inwardly grimaced. I must look dreadful. I hadn’t brushed my hair, so I must have resembled something Hagrid likes to keep in the forest. I was hardly hey-James-let’s-forgive-and-forget material.
“Nothing much,” I replied. Julia looked slightly taken aback, and she had obviously been thinking that I was in the mood for conversation. The look of confusion hung around her porcelain features for only a second, and soon she was smiling again and looking exactly like the Gryffindor princess that she was.
“And are you excited about doing nothing? Sometimes I’d just like to sit down and relax, maybe do a bit of reading or painting or something. Just rest, you know. I haven’t had a free day in ages.”
“Right,” I replied dully, spreading a slice of toast with butter and jam. I kept my gaze downcast as I avoided James’ eyes. Rose and him were still glaring at each other, and it seemed that their downtrodden mood had gotten the whole team down. Oscar wasn’t even spouting useless facts to lighten the mood.
“Sometimes I think I do too much. I was at Charms club the other week, and that was straight after Quidditch practice,” Julia glared slightly in James’ direction, as if he had purposely arranged the training so that it would ruin her perfect routine, “and I still had so much work to do but when I got back to the common room, I just fell asleep! Imagine that! I was lying all over my books in the common room! Some first year woke me up in the morning and I was already late for breakfast and then...”
“No one gives a fuck, Julia,” Dom said.
“Language!” Rose scolded.
I shoved my piece of toast into my mouth, chewing slowly and imagining it was Julia’s head. I reminded myself never to talk to her in the morning when I was at my weakest.
Georgia Watson was making stupid comments about how hot one of her professors was. Her and Dominique were the only two who seemed to be impervious to the horrible bad temper that had settled on everybody. Dom was piling strawberries and grapes and brown sugar all over her pancakes, humming a tune under her breath.
“Did you walk in with Henry Gunman?” she asked, her mouth full to bursting. James’ head spun around to face me.
“Yeah, I guess...”
“He is so dreamy,” Dom continued.
“Back off, Dominique,” Julia said jokingly, “he’s Georgia’s new plaything.”
“No he’s not,” Watson replied lazily, “he was more interested in getting into Amelie’s pants after his shoddy girlfriend broke up with him. He kept telling me over and over how beautiful you were, how clever, how you could handle a broom. I was surprised he didn’t call out your name when we...”
“That’s enough, Georgia,” Julia interrupted quietly, blushing slightly.
“And now she’s walking into breakfast with him,” Watson continued suggestively, “with ruffled hair and swollen lips and an estranged boyfriend.” She nodded pointedly at James, whose knuckles were now white as he gripped his fork so tight that I thought it would bend.
“My lips aren’t swollen,” I replied, rather weakly. My ability to participate in witty banter was severely diminished, due to the fact that it was still too early for me and that I was far to preoccupied in how James would react to Watson’s lies.
“If you say so,” Watson said, holding up her hands as if in surrender. Silence soon followed, and even Dominique looked disheartened now.
I stared at Watson. She winked at me before shifting closer to James in a predatory way that made me want to strangle her. She went so far as to put her arm around his shoulders. My heart rate slowed considerably as I saw that he didn’t flinch or move away from her, as he usually would have.
“That’s not true. I haven’t been kissing Henry,” I said quickly, making eye contact with James for the first time since the horrible staring match we had participated in last night. I could see his brown eyes darken considerably and my stomach dropped.
“I wouldn’t know,” he replied sharply, “it wouldn’t be the first thing you didn’t tell me about.”
“James, I’m sorry about yesterday. I’m sorry I shouted and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. Let’s just talk about this.”
“No,” he said quickly.
“Fine,” I said unsympathetically, standing up, “you just sit there and wallow in your own misery while I go and do something constructive.”
I stalked away from the table and into the Entrance Hall. I thought about going down to the Quidditch pitch early, get in a few laps before the rest of the team came and I was pelted with questions about how I was feeling, what happened last night or whether James was finally single (that one would come from Georgia). James would appear, as grouchy and surly as he had been at breakfast, and begin the harshest fitness regime that was ever known to wizardkind. Perhaps it would be an indicator of how he was feeling: whether he was feeling as wretched as I was.
I had opened one of the great oak doors and walked outside. It was a brisk, chilly morning with clear skies and a soft breeze. It was perfect for Quidditch. I began walking down the path to the changing rooms before I heard someone calling my name. Fully prepared to metaphorically knock someone over with my witty, sarcastic turn of phrase, I turned around.
“Merlin, Amelie, you walk really, really fast.”
“Why thank you,” I replied sarcastically, crossing my arms in a menacing fashion, ready for battle. James was standing in front of me, his cheeks flushed from running, his freckles even more defined against the pink of his skin. He’s so adorable.
Note to self: never inspect James’ freckles too closely; high-pitched giggling and dressing in pink may ensue. Especially not when you are meant to be in an argument.
“What are you doing here, James? I thought you said that you didn’t want to talk.”
“So what are you doing?”
“Enjoying the beautiful countryside of Scotland on such a fine day,” he said, his voice brimming with brightness. He put an arm around my shoulders and turned me around. He gestured wildly around the grounds.
“Isn’t it fantastic?”
“You’re being stupid... all I can see is Hagrid feeding some Blast-Ended Skrewts.”
James’ mouth pulled into a grimace for a second as he looked towards the half-giant’s house. I shrunk out of his grip.
“James. What are you doing here?”
“I was just walking down to Quidditch practice.”
“It doesn’t start for another half an hour.”
“Then I am simply revelling in the company of my beautiful girlfriend.”
“So I am your girlfriend?” I asked incredulously.
James frowned, his eyebrows knotting together. It was his turn to cross his arms.
“Why wouldn’t you be?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said sarcastically, “I’m guessing the ignoring, the awkward silences, the general lack of conversation and the little argument we had last night are staple features of a healthy relationship.”
James shifted slightly, the gravel of the path crunching under his feet. His fingers ran through his hair nervously.
“How about,” he began slowly, as if he was choosing his words carefully, “how about we just agree to disagree? About Rose and Malfoy, I mean.”
I looked to the floor, trying to discover what James was finding so interesting.
“I’ll continue to see Malfoy as some sort of threat and you’ll continue to see him as some sort of knight in shining armour. We just won’t mention the subject again.”
“Right,” I replied unsurely, “but what if we...”
“We also won’t talk about how you failed to tell me about it,” he said quietly, “because I know it’ll just spark another argument and nobody wants that.”
“Yes, but I think...”
“Although you are surprisingly hot when you’re all fired up. If I hadn’t been so angry with you yesterday we probably would have christened the common room sofa,” he said more confidently, a smirk falling over his lips as he winked at me. Usually, when we weren’t locked in the strange limbo between arguing and being back to normal, I would have replied with some equally flirtatious comment and we would have headed back to the castle, hands entwined. But now, after James had decided where we stood without even listening to me speak, I simply stared at him. I wanted to talk about it, about what happened last night. I had already apologised at breakfast for how I had behaved yesterday. He hadn’t even said sorry for being an arsehole and not speaking to me.
“Are you angry with me now?” I said, and I surprised myself at how whiny I sounded. Perhaps the transformation to a member of Julia Ripley’s private army was only one mascara wand away.
James smiled. It wasn’t a proper smile, I could tell. The proper ones make my insides go all warm and lovely and it’s all perfectly cliché. The smile he flashed me too big, too wide. I could see all of his teeth.
“No,” he said, and swooped down to kiss me chastely on the lips. He squeezed my hand affectionately, “I’m glad we had this talk.”
“But you didn’t want to talk!”
“Well,” he said, beginning to walk towards the changing rooms and the Quidditch pitch, “you must have made me change my mind.”
He pinched my cheeks in the way drunken uncles do at weddings after commenting on how much you’ve grown.
“Come on now, we’ve got the Quidditch final next week! I don’t think Dad would ever look at me the same if I came back for the summer holidays after losing to Hufflepuff.”
I watched him leave, unsure whether the conversation between had just taken place. According to him, we were back to normal. We were simply not going to discuss the argument and we were going to continue acting like nothing had happened.
If that’s what he wanted, that’s what he’d get. I didn’t want to lose him.
Four more to go. I hoped you like it. I just want to say how lovely all of my readers and reviewers are. You're incredible. Thank you for making me want to write.
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