AN: Chapter 10! And just in time for our one-year anniversary (almost). Those of you who've been staying with me this entire time, THANK YOU! No joke, I've never managed to keep a story going this long before - but don't worry, cos I WILL FINISH THIS!
Chapter Ten: Certain Kinds of Triangles
Coming off that roof top,
You're so handsome dressed in black.
See you in the shadows,
I'd like to see you on your back.
To Catch A Thief, Lovage
Edward insisted on staying home the next few days. He prowled about Harry's room, pacing up and down as Harry practiced his spells, the former stressing alternately about the latter and Bella. Harry, for his part, was surly; his stomach always seemed to be in various states of tension. He slipped away whenever he could, usually quickly shadowed by Edward, and traveled increasing lengths into Forks. He and Edward fed often—Edward to ward off Bella's spell and Harry as preventative measures before his forays into town—and soon he found himself able to stroll up and down the aisles of supermarkets or along the small suburban sidewalks, fiercely resistant to the human scent all around him.
Days slipped by in this fashion, with Edward tailing Harry and Harry frustrated with his musty texts and lifeless room. Finally, after a week, the other Cullens began insisting that Edward at least return to school.
"Tell them I have something bad. Make it contagious—Swine Flu," said Edward dismissively as Esme brought the issue of his extended absence to light.
"Edward," said Esme gently, "this girl's blood can't that potent that even you'll give in. However tempting it may be, I believe you can resist."
Edward didn't look at her. "It's not that. It's…him," he said irritably, waving a hand at Harry, who was sitting across him in the soft leather armchair.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, Edward—" began Harry.
"I think Harry is grown-up enough to make his own decisions," said Alice lightly from the kitchen. Edward glared, but Harry spoke up before he could.
"She's right, Cullen—I'm legally of age in the wizarding world, you know—and in the Muggle one, too, now!" he added.
Edward's eyes narrowed. "Technically, you're just seventeen. Still a minor in Forks."
"Then I guess I could say the same of you!" snapped Harry in retort.
This didn't give Edward pause. "Harry—"
"Hang on—listen to me for a bit, Edward," interrupted Harry. "I—I know that you," he softened, "you don't want me to make a mistake. I understand—I know that it would only take a moment and I could slip up." He looked somber, and Edward tried again,
Harry forged on. "But—I need to do this, Edward. I—" He cut himself off abruptly, twisting his fingers again and again in his lap, and looked up, waiting.
The rest of the Cullens, having somehow materialized during the argument, turned their gazes to Edward. The latter sat looking down at his lap for a moment, then at Harry, and finally nodded once.
"Fine," he muttered quietly.
Charmed as they were, the ladies at the office still wouldn't allow Edward to transfer out of fifth period biology—but they were beguiled enough to allow Edward to arrange Harry's schedule so that it matched his own exactly. A flurry of fake documents (the Cullens had loads of those lying around) and a day's delay and Harry found himself upon the eve of his first day at Forks High School.
He sat in the living room and flipped feverishly through his textbooks. Honors Trigonometry was something he absolutely couldn't fathom – his grade school education's worth of math hadn't exactly covered sine and cosine, let alone any of their more advanced nuances. Biology was almost as bad, and AP French was all but gibberish. AP English Literature was a smidgeon better—he had covered a few of these plays back at Hogwarts, though from an entirely different perspective (a.k.a., one that embraced magic as a reality). At least he spoke the language, he thought glumly.
"Why am I in all your classes again?" said Harry as he mournfully tried to figure out the six trigonometric functions of the triangle before him.
"The better to keep an eye on you," said Edward unsympathetically, engaged in a bruising game of chess with Jasper.
"No, I mean why am I in all of your classes? What about Alice or Jasper or Emmett or…er…someone?" he finished lamely as Rosalie leveled a glare at him.
Edward frowned and pushed forward one of his pawns. "Alice is in AP Calculus, and Jasper's taking AP Physics. Emmett's a senior, and some of his classes are seniors-only—besides, he and Rosalie take all the same classes, and I doubt Rose would find your addition to their couple exactly…ideal." He grinned briefly. Rosalie sniffed and turned her head away, and Emmett, sitting flush beside her on the couch, smiled apologetically.
"Check," said Jasper as he raised one of his knights and placed it dangerously close to Edward's king. "Relax, Harry," he added, and Harry could feel himself calm perceptibly down.
The next day Edward and Harry drove to the high school in the silver Volvo while the rest of the Cullen children piled into Rosalie's red convertible—there were six of them now, and the Volvo could only seat five. Esme and Carlisle waived Harry off like proud parents as he and Edward began speeding down the winding trail leading into Forks.
"Remember," said Edward and Harry stared tensely out the window, "you have to pass yourself off as human."
"Yeah, I know," said Harry, strained. "I don't think that's going to be the hard part, actually. I was human for seventeen years, you know."
Edward rolled his eyes. "You did horribly with Newton the other day."
Harry snapped his head round to glare at him. "That went well!"
"If you plan on being heralded as a pariah at Forks, then yeah, it went marvelously," said Edward.
"M—er—Ma—uh, Newton—he liked me!"
"Harry, you likely broke his hand. I doubt he's going to be offering you a seat at his lunch table."
Harry stared at Edward for a moment. "Crap," he muttered finally. "Fine. How do I be human?"
Edward glanced at him with a long-suffering expression.
"First of all, be gentle," said Edward. Harry raised an eyebrow. "Yes, gentle. You don't want to accidentally rip your locker out of its hinges, do you? Or maybe knock someone's teeth out during kickball? Or worse?"
"Fine, fine," conceded Harry hastily. "I'll be gentle."
"Good," said Edward. "And don't move too fast—or talk very quickly, for that matter. I'm surprised Newton even got anything you were saying."
Harry frowned and tried to speak slower. "Alright," he said. "Anything else?"
They were pulling into the parking lot by now. "I think that's it," said Edward as they pulled abruptly into an empty spot. "It sounds simple, but it's not." He looked Harry over critically. "You look alright, at least," he admitted. Harry had donned a plain red sweater and blue jeans that he felt fit quite well, and was using his rucksack from Hogwarts as a schoolbag. He had also very inexplicably tried to tame down his hair that morning, to no avail. "Maybe a bit better without the glasses," added Edward.
Harry shook his head. "I like them," he said, musing ruefully on how he had once hated them so. "They make my eyes less…er, shiny. Besides, they hardly make a difference at this point," he added.
Edward nodded, and then hissed "Slower," as he disembarked and found Harry already by his side. As an afterthought, he added, "And also, you might want to—I don't know—twitch a little. Blink, too. Humans never sit still."
"Sure," said Harry quietly in reply. "Okay. Blink, twitch, be gentle, slow down."
"Yes," said Edward. "Oh, and speak louder than you are right now."
They were approaching the main entrance now, and Harry knew his apprehension was unjustified since Hogwarts was many times the size of this school but he was apprehensive anyway. In fact, his nerves and the thirst building in his throat were coupling to make him feel ill. Thanks to Edward's driving, they were early, but the scent was everywhere, clinging onto the walls and lingering about the hallways, cloying and sweet. The few students that were milling about were watching them with curious eyes, and Harry forced himself to meet their gazes. These were people, he reminded himself. Real, flesh-and-blood people. It was rather hard for him to register anything beyond the blood bit though; the desire wounding about his innards, choking his lungs and pounding in his temples was all-consuming. Almost unconsciously, Harry's step quickened; he veered off to the left towards a half-startled, half-delighted-looking girl, his mouth opening almost imperceptibly as it flooded with metallic-tasting saliva. The girl opened her own mouth and began to say something, and her soft, warm, human perfume flooded Harry's senses 'til he was reaching out and—
—And Edward grabbed his arm and steered him in a steely manner back towards the main hallway.
"You're not ready for this," he hissed as they left the crestfallen girl behind.
"Shut up," replied Harry, although he himself was reeling from the near-miss. After a beat, he mumbled "Thanks" as an afterthought.
Edward released his vice-like grip and said nothing. They were walking very close together, and Harry tried to focus on his scent instead of that of the humans', before realizing Edward's was… indefinable. Something familiar and attractive and alien, all at once.
Something nice, Harry admitted grudgingly to himself.
The next second Edward shot him a look, and if Harry could have colored he would have done so.
"Shut up," he muttered again.
"I didn't say anything," said Edward quietly.
Harry rubbed at his neck self-consciously and averted his gaze to the floor.
Lauren Mallory loved new students. They were a dash of excitement in her otherwise mundane high-school career, they were something to pique her curiosity. It was even better if they were male new students—something to add to the rather limited gene pool here at Forks. And it was amazing, almost unbelievable if they were drop-dead-gorgeous male new students that not only added to the gene pool but sent it soaring into dizzying new heights.
Thus when she entered her first period—AP French—and found a drop-dead-gorgeous male new student sitting in the usually empty seat beside Edward Cullen, her breath caught. She couldn't help but pause for a moment in shock and delight before she made her way to her own desk, which was fortunately (and also strategically) only a couple seats behind Edward's. Instantly her hands were at her hair, smoothing down her long white-blonde tresses with new-found purpose as she scrambled to check her makeup in her hand-held mirror. She stared at the back of the new boy's dark head and all but drowned out Madame Coiles' trilled "Bonjour!" and the subsequent French ramblings until she realized that the classroom had gone completely silent and everyone seemed to be focusing on the new student just as intently as she was. Belatedly, she realized that Madame had asked him to stand before the class and introduce himself.
Biting her lip, she leaned forward in her seat in anticipation. She wanted to hear him speak.
Unfortunately, the boy in question didn't seem highly responsive. Silence reigned for a couple seconds until Edward elbowed him and muttered something under his breath, and then the boy shot up out of his seat with startling speed. After a moment's pause, he stepped lightly to the front of the classroom.
The students (and Madame Coiles) held their breath in expectation.
"Hello," the boy began, "I'm—"
At this point Madame Coiles interrupted the boy for speaking in English, pointedly using her own lilting French to do so. Lauren wanted to strangle her for cutting him off. The boy merely looked blank. Out of the corner of her eye, Lauren saw Edward's lips move and the boy's expression changed to one of horror.
"Er…" he said, and then after a beat, started speaking so rapidly in French that the only thing Lauren could make out was his name—a cute, quaint name, she thought: Harry Potter. She savored the sound of his voice, and watched with disappointment when he finished and returned to his seat.
She spent the remainder of the period watching him. Five minutes before the bell rang, she began packing up, and as soon as they were dismissed she lurched out of her seat towards him.
"Hey," she said chirpily, skidding round to the front of his desk, "Harry, right?"
The boy's gaze snapped to her instantaneously. Then he mumbled something she couldn't quite catch.
"Sorry?" asked Lauren kindly, sending him what she hoped was a friendly, inviting smile.
Edward nudged the boy, mouthing something again, and the boy shrugged embarrassedly.
"Sorry—I was asking you what your name was," he said slowly.
Lauren was delighted. Not only was he new and cute, but he had an accent!
"Lauren," said Lauren giddily. Oh, his eyes were so green! She could just sink into them and never come back! With an effort, she roused herself enough to make conversation. "So where are you from, Harry?"
"England," said Harry in reply, and Lauren watched as his hands, which had been clutching at the edges of his desk with a white-knuckled intensity, released their hold and slowly began gathering his books. "I'm a foreign exchange student. I live with the Cullens," he added, nodding at Edward, who offered Lauren a brief hello.
"Cool," said Lauren blandly. The Cullens? So that's why Edward seemed to be his babysitter. Come to think of it, seeing Harry and Edward together made Lauren realize that the two were…alike, in some way. Not that they particularly resembled one another; no, it was just…something about them. Their matching windswept heads, perhaps, sitting close together throughout the period and sometimes touching as one boy leaned in to whisper something to the other. Or maybe it was the fact that they were both ridiculously, fantastically good-looking; Lauren wouldn't be surprised if the Cullen abode had some sort of alarm system on it that rated its occupants physically on a scale of 1-10. Obviously, only people who hit 10-plus would be let inside.
Harry nodded and got up, offering Lauren a small smile as he did so. Lauren was momentarily dazzled, and he and Edward made their escape.
Lauren was the first to arrive at her table, and was now scanning the throng of teenagers in the cafeteria the way a lion sifts through a herd of antelope in search of the one with the limp.
Success! Harry appeared at the end of the lunch-line, followed by—surprise, surprise—Edward. They each sauntered through the queue, wordlessly accepting whatever goop the cafeteria ladies dumped on their trays. Lauren was beginning to notice that Harry's face seemed to wear a rather strange expression—his lips permanently clenched, his brow slightly furrowed. His hands were in tandem with his visage as they desperately gripped his lunch tray. He was a tortured soul, Lauren decided. Broody and intense.
She could dig that.
"Harry!" she called as he and Edward neared her table. "Hey!"
Harry slowed down, Edward doing the same. "Lauren," he said, smiling that wonderful white smile again. "Hello."
"Hello," said Cullen, polite but remote.
Lauren beamed. "Here," she said, indicating the empty chairs around her, "You wanna sit with us?" She giggled nervously. "My friends are on their way," she added.
Harry glanced at Edward, who very minutely shook his head, and Lauren's hopes fell. Then Harry turned back to her and said, "Yeah, okay."
Lauren wasn't sure what had just transpired between them, but her surprise and delight reemerged and ballooned in her chest as Harry settled in the seat beside hers, and then doubled when Edward smoothly folded himself into the chair beside him. Granted, Lauren had sworn to forget about Edward when he had rebuffed her advances freshman year, but when up against the latter's faultless features, even her resolve had to melt.
Soon the others began to arrive—Mike, Angela, Ben, Eric (he had begun sitting with them recently, most likely because of…ugh…Bella), Jessica, and finally Miss Priss herself—otherwise known Bella Swan, who took one look at Edward and hid her face behind her curtain of hair. Interestingly enough, now Edward's expression rather matched Harry's.
Harry seemed to have picked up on this as well, for he had turned towards Edward and begun murmuring something in an undertone.
"So, Harry, have you met my friends?" she interrupted, aware that the others were staring none-too-subtly at Edward and him. Harry turned toward her, and, glowing under his green-eyed gaze, Lauren continued, "Guys, this is Harry. Harry, this is M—"
"We've met," said Mike abruptly, looking distrustfully at Harry and Edward.
"You have?" said Lauren, disappointed and irrationally irritated with Mike for having interrupted her proud introduction.
"Yeah," said Harry. "Er…Martin, is it?"
"What?" said Mike, staring.
"Never mind," said Harry hastily.
"Mike," offered Lauren, realizing what was happening.
"Yes, Mike," said Harry gratefully. "Sorry, I'm terrible with names." An awkward moment ensued. For wont of anything better to do, it seemed, Harry stuck out his hand.
Mike glared at it warily, then reluctantly replied in kind. Before it was engulfed in Harry's white fingers, Lauren noticed that his palm was marked with blossoming blue and purple bruises. Harry winced as he caught sight of them.
They gingerly shook hands. As they pulled apart, Mike said, "Are your hands always like that?"
"Huh?" said Harry quizzically.
"They're freezing. Last time they were too," he added. "Are they always like that?"
Beside her, Lauren sensed Harry freeze, and two seats over Edward seemed to turn to stone.
"Er…yeah," said Harry finally. "I, uh, I had a childhood disease."
"A disease?" said Eric curiously, stepping into the conversation.
"Yeah," said Harry, nodding. "Err…yeah. It's called…frionitis." He seemed to grimace even as he said this.
"Frionitis…" began Mike skeptically, and then quieted down as Edward leveled a glare at him.
"Yeah," said Harry. "It's really rare, only occurs in the UK. It's not deadly or anything, but it leaves behind one lasting condition—cold hands." Harry hesitated, then added, "Well, cold skin, really."
Everyone stared at him. Lauren decided this was her opportunity to step in once more.
"Cool," she said, "Like, literally." She winced but tried to plaster on a smile. What had possessed her to make that awful pun? "So you already know Mike, and this is Angela, Ben, Eric, Jessica, and" —if her lips turned down a little at this last one, no one seemed to notice— "Bella."
Harry, who had been nodding and saying routine 'hellos', paused at this last name. "Bella Swan," he said thoughtfully.
Bella, who had been glancing alternately at Edward, Harry, and the tabletop, looked up at him properly, brown eyes wide with what Lauren was sure was practiced innocence.
"Yes?" she said softly in reply. Lauren was also positive that she carefully cultivated her voice until it reached that one quiet decibel that made boys lean in.
"It's nice to meet you," said Harry slowly. Lauren thought he might have wanted to want to say more; his mouth opened, but then he seemed to think better of it and it closed again.
Then all conversations ceased as suddenly and with a large crack, Harry's lunch tray split clean in half.
AN: And the plot thickens!
This time I thought I'd pick lyrics that related to what Lauren's feeling, because I find her rather fun to write. I hope you guys liked this tidbit into her mind. I thought it made things pretty suspenseful cos now we don't know what Harry and Edward are really thinking.
PS: EVERYONE WATCH HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON! IT'S AWESOME!