IV. Fourth call
Later the same day
James was blissfully dreaming about eating lasagnes with a side of wasabi when an insistent ring woke him up, drilling into his skull painfully.
A wave of nausea threatened to overwhelm him, but he manned up and swallow it back down.
No time for princesses in his household.
He blindly tossed his duvet around before his hand finally connected with the damned Muggle contraption.
“Hullo?” he grumbled, half of his face pressed against the pillow in a futile attempt to lessen his headache.
“Tell me your deepest secret.” Elizabeth’s voice was fresh like water when thirsty and he found that he wasn’t even mad.
Had that been Fred, he would have skinned him alive.
“I hate hangovers.” He whispered, praying she would too.
She seemed to understand immediately.
“Ops. Did I wake you?”
James made an inhuman sound of assent.
“Sorry” she murmured, mindful, and James wished he could kiss her and her siren voice into oblivion. “Do you want me to call you back?”
He grumbled, rubbing his eyes tiredly “Nah, ‘issokay. I’m awake.”
“Are you sure? I don’t mind, you know. It’s Saturday and my evening plans are ice cream and trying to become one with the couch.”
He smiled, keeping his eyes shut and settling down better “Old or new?”
“Well, it’s an old habit but every ice cream is new.” She answered, puzzled.
“I meant the couch.”
“How was I supposed to understand that?” Elizabeth protested, good-naturedly “You’re cryptic when you’re hungover, Jamie.”
“Ugh, stop, or I’m going to call you Betty.”
“I feel like a Betty right now.” she mused playfully “D’you reckon I should take out my knitting kit?”
“Tell me you actually have one because I love hand knitted clothes.”
“Of course I do, but do you really?”
“Now who’s being cryptic?” James retorted, grinning.
“Well, you don’t grow up a Weasley without loving hand knitted clothes. My nana makes the best jumpers in the world. Last year I even got a scarf – mind, I was the only one, Al was furious – but that’s what you get for showing appreciation.”
“Oh, I remember!” she exclaimed, victorious “Louis used to have a blue one with broomsticks on it.”
“Tsk.” James rolled his eyes, suddenly annoyed “Blue. Mine are all red.”
“Such a Gryffindor.” The voice was mocking “But don’t change the subject: out with the secrets.”
“Uhm… Have I already told you that I roller skate?”
“Then I’m out of exciting news.”
She scoffed “Seriously? I’m yawning.”
“How about this: you tell me something about yourself, then I do the same.”
“A quid pro quo? Like Clarice Sterling and Hannibal Lecter? Love it!”
“Yes, but without liver and wine.”
He could almost see her pouting “I’m personally insulted by your dislike of wine. Besides, they drink Chianti in the movie: it doesn’t get much better than that.”
“Ugh. Let’s not talk about alcohol.” He whispered, turning on his back.
She laughed “I bet you’re a lightweight, Jamie.”
“You caught me, Betty dearest.”
“Ok, then, I’ll start: what’s your biggest fear?”
“I’m too hungover for that question but… I’d say heights.”
She cried out in disbelief “Heights?! How can you be afraid of heights when you play Quidditch for a living?”
“The trick is to never look down.”
“Bullshit.” Elizabeth said with certainty “C’mon, Jamie, what’s your biggest fear?”
“I am really intimidated by sears.”
“I’m yawning again. Will you tell me the truth?”
“Not until you keep calling me Jamie.”
“But it’s so cute and fluffy!” she protested with a girly tone.
“Fine, I’ll change it. So, biggest fear, Jimmy?”
“Hippogriffs.” He muttered.
“Are you serious?”
James grin became huge “That’s my middle name, darling.”
“James…” she warned him, and James felt a shiver down his spine as he finally heard her saying his name. He tossed the duvet away from his body.
“Yes, it’s the truth, naked, raw and crunchy as a celery stalk. Don’t ask.”
“I’m actually afraid to.”
“So, what about you, Betty?”
“Betrayal.” She said, sombre.
James arched an eyebrow.
“Oh. Who hurt you, darling?” He said in a careless tone, not unkindly, trying to lighten the mood.
“Nah, nothing like that… it’s just, you can’t never know a person completely, right? Well, I’m afraid to be proved wrong about people: my worst nightmare is to suddenly wake up next to a stranger. It’s not rational… but fears rarely are, I guess.”
“It makes more sense than hippogriffs, at least.” He reassured her, planning to ask Louis a few questions “Right, my turn. What House were you in?”
“Slytherin.” Pride was clear in her voice.
James gaped “Really?”
“What?” she asked, suddenly defensive “Don’t I sound cunning and ambitious?”
“I would have pegged you for an Hufflepuff, to be honest.” He joked, knowing that would irk her.
“Rude!” Elizabeth cried, outraged, trying not to laugh.
“I’ll have you know that Hufflepuffs are actually cool, y’know?” James protested, thinking about his cousin Lucy “Besides, Slytherin girls are frightening.”
Now, the outrage was real.
“Your stalking abilities put the whole Auror department to shame.” He said, having way more fun than he should have had, recalling Carla’s obsessive behaviour.
“Well, well. Not such a great Gryffindor, eh?” she mocked him.
“Being brave means doing the thing even if it scares you shitless.” He pointed out, summoning a glass of water from the kitchen “Which is why I still want to meet you.”
“I’m not sure if you’re insulting me or trying to flirt.”
“Is it working?” he asked, his voice purposefully huskier.
She snorted, unimpressed “What, the insulting? Perfectly.”
“C’mon, Betty, stop dodging the question.” He moaned, annoyed.
She tried to play the innocent card “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You, me, an awfully expensive dinner and brilliant conversation.” He then retorted, deciding that being blunt was his best option “What do you say?”
“That I hope you’ve run out of aphrodisiac potion.”
He smiled “You’re adorable.”
Elizabeth’s voice was nowhere to be found.
“Betty? Did you hang up?”
“Stop using that tone.” She said, uncertain “It flusters me.”
“Think about how flustered I am, trying to survive this hangover.”
Elizabeth laughed, still hesitant.
“There, now it’s over.” He murmured.
“Why?” she asked, matching his tone “Did you see a bottle of wine?”
“Your laugh. Its effect on my body is worse than an aphrodisiac potion.”
“Ops, my brain froze from too much ice cream, I don’t know what you mean.”
“I mean that I love it.”
Another abrupt silence from Elizabeth: James’ voce had softly dropped a few octaves lower, suddenly warm and vibrant as a caress.
“I like your voice, because it’s fresh and happy as spring; I like how you use it, throwing yourself headfirst into conversations, letting your emotions ride every syllable. I like your irony, because it shows a brilliant mind and a big heart.”
There was no sound on the other side of the phone, except for quick and lightly discontinued breathing. James waited a few seconds for his heartbeats to slow down.
“There, now that I said it, I’m ready face hippogriffs.” He said, going back to his normal happy and light-hearted tone: there was, nonetheless, a slight strain in the background, distinctively highlighted by Elizabeth’s answer.
“Oh-ah… hippogriffs, right.”
“Are you okay?” asked James, vaguely mischievous.
“Actually, not really. It’s terribly hot in here.”
“Where are you?”
“In a refrigerator cell.”
James laughed, hypnotizing Elizabeth on the other end of the phone.
“I think that’s the most cryptic compliment I’ve ever received.”
“Maybe I’m the one who’s hungover.” She tried to joke, half-heartedly.
“Elizabeth…” His tongue rolled on her name like it was deliciously sweet chocolate “When are we meeting?”
A new silence followed, short, stark and almost sullen.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea” she murmured eventually, once again hesitantly.
“Look, I’m not actually that afraid of hippogriffs.” He backpedalled, fully awake and sitting straight on his bed “I’m a normal guy. Actually, in my mother’s opinion, I’m quite the catch.”
“I’m sure of that.” Elizabeth answered with her usual smiling voice “It’s clear that you’re a tombeur des femmes with how you use that damned voice.”
“Oh là, là, another compliment… this time even in French!”
“Nah, I was actually saying you’re an asshole.”
“Sorry, you were being cryptic again… why don’t you want to meet me?”
“Liz? Answer me, I’m not coming with a defibrillator anyway, I can hear you breathing.”
“I have to go.” Elizabeth cut him off, icily.
“Ops… did I make you mad?”
“Yes!” she roared aggressively “I can’t stand how you ask embarrassing question in the middle of the conversation, when I’m the most defenceless. With that fucking Barry White t-tone that drives me crazy…”
“I don’t do that on purpose… I just want to meet you.”
Silence, tense and scorching.
“I’ve got to go.” She whispered finally, exhausted, and hang up.
James threw his phone away, sighed and fell back on his mattress heavily, damning his big mouth.
Disclaimer: Clarice Sterling and Hannibal Lecter belong to the 'Silence of the Lambs' and I don't own them - unfortunately. :(
I hope you liked this chapter cause there's only one to go!
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