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HP stories following Canon including OotP >> Faith, Hope and Love by JessPotter

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Darren and the Harmons went to church that Sunday along with Paul, Gabriella, and Christina. That two-week old was not a church baby. She was definitely more of a "Momma, feed me," baby
or an "I am tired" baby. Since the Harmons always sat in the front row, Gabriella felt ashamed to lift her shirt. So, she would use the pacifier and the burping technique to make Christina go to sleep.
Darren paid attention to the homily and everything as best he could. He thought about his parents. He could feel the empty space filling more and more because of his new friends....because of Clarissa....
Wait a minute....Clarissa? Where did that thought come from? Darren jerked his head up and turned to look at her. Clarissa returned that look with an icy glare. She hardly ever spoke to him now; something about him teasing her about crying and yadah yadah yadah. The reason his life had taken a turn for the better wasn't because of her, granted, but more because of Peter, even little Christina. Oh, and definitely his godparents. Paul too.
Darren remembered vividly the times he had spent with his parents. Since they had lived in Colorado, they were used to cold weather. Darren thought of how his dad had carried him to the Royal Gorge when he was 3. He had looked down, and screamed with fear. His dad hugged him tighter and said "Don't worry, baby...I've got you--I've got you..."
And once, when he was 5, his mom told him to clean his filthy, clothes-covering-every-inch-of-the-floor-room. He thought of a brilliant plan, or so he believed it to be. He shoved it all under his bed. When his mom came to inspect, she, without hesitating, walked straight to the bed. "Darren, your room is not clean! Silly boy!" Darren had laughed.
Darren went over and over in his mind about memories his parents had left him with. Now, he had to become a man without his dad showing him how. Nevertheless....He had a faith. He had good morals and good beliefs. He would always go to church, whether he felt like it or not.
The next day at school lunch, Darren sat across from Clarissa, who ignored him. Faith came to sit next to her, and Darren got uncomfortable all of a sudden. He looked at her and smiled sheepishly. "Hi, I'm Darren...one of Clarissa's friends." Clarissa glared at him, as if to say "Really, you think so?" Darren looked back at Faith. "Who are you?"
Faith smiled amiably. "My name's Faith, Faith Burkes. Nice to meet you, Darren."
"Nice to meet you too."
"So, are you new here?"
"Y-yeah. First time. Here, I mean. Not in highschool, of course. I used to live in Colorado."
"Really? What brought you here?"
Darren was now irritated that Clarissa hadn't mentioned him at all in any of her extremely long conversations with her friends.
"My parents died, and my godparents have custody of me now."
Faith gave a little gasp. She clearly did not know what to say. She felt that "I'm sorry" wouldn't cut it. So, she said what a good friend would. "Any time you want to talk, Darren, don't be afraid to tell me. Okay?"
Peter, Ollie, Caiden and Darren got together that night to study. Most of it consisted of talking--and not about school...or at least, not about school subjects.
Finally, however, they tried to reconcile time lost by actually doing their homework. They had it done by 11:00, and Darren drove home. He smiled. The English teacher wasn't going to give him an F, no sir. Nor was Brian Pneumann going to humiliate him in front of the whole class, telling him that he needed to hit the books, and laughing about it too. He had done that with the whole George Washington Carver thing. Darren felt confident that he would stay with an A or B average. C wouldn't be too bad either.
Football practice was three days out of the week, with usual games on the weekends. The agility needed for football, and the hand-eye coordination, is really hard to accumulate. Darren had hit the gym quite a few times in August, so he thought he was prepared. Boy, was he wrong!
Their coach, like a lot of football coaches, was a portly man who was probably more interested in watching football than in playing it. He told the boys first to do 50 push-ups. Everyone groaned. After that, the 23 boys on the team practiced passing the ball. Darren was handy at it; he could throw about 25-30 yards. Victor Crombie, on the other hand, could throw and kick 50 yards. He was the coach's favorite, too.
At the first game, Darren was placed on offense, and had to wait a little before called on to the field. When he was called in along with 4 other guys, he felt invincible. Here is what happened. The opposing team, the Minneapolis Lions, took the ball along to the 38 yard line. Darren immediately ran after the quarterback. He got him at the twelve yard line, and then was called of the field.
The coach didn't seem as proud of Darren as he himself was. "What's wrong, Coach Grimley?"
Grimley returned with praise.
"Nothing.....You did great!"
Darren beamed. Things were going fine, just fine. He was called on soon after, and they were at the 28-yard-line. That quarter, the Annandale Eagles scored one touch-down. The opposing team, however, came back with a vengeance the next quarter and scored 3 touchdowns. 20-6 was the half-time score.
In the lockers, coaches Grimley and Stockholm congratulated the team, and prepped them up for the big next half. That half would determine what the game would be....either victory or defeat.
The fifty yard line was a hang-out place on the third quarter. Neither team seemed to want to give, and they constantly were tackled. By the last quarter, however, things started to happen. Victor, on defense, threw the ball to Gabe, who started to run with it. Someone from the opposing team knocked him over, but Xavier, who was close by, caught the ball and steamed toward the inzone for a touch-down! They made the goal-kick as well, which put them at thirteen points, just seven points below the Minneapolis Lions. Back at the 50-yard-line, the Lions pulled the same stunt, which got them 27 points.
Darren and his offensive team were called on to the field. They had to make two goals in 13 minutes, which seemed impossible. But they had to stop the other team from making goals. Gary, one of Darren's teammates, got the quarterback down around the 20 yard-line. Then it was time for the defense to go to work. Victor, Gabe, Ned, Tyler and James tried in earnest to pull a blitz, but the opposing team got them every time. As a result, they lost the game, 27-13.
"Football sucks!" Darren yelled as he stormed to his car. He threw his bag in and started the engine. "Darren! Hey, Darren!" Clarissa was walking briskly toward him. She was still in her band uniform. "Wait for me, stupid! And put your stinky stuff in the back seat. How did I sound? Do I look good?"
"Um..." Darren felt kind of awkward. "Sure, I guess so.....I mean, you sounded great."
"Oh, hold on a second, Darren. I want to talk to someone really quick." She ran out of the parking lot without looking for cars, and Darren stopped his engine and rolled his eyes. He got out of the car and followed Clarissa. Knowing Clarissa, a "second" would be 10-15 minutes. With a sigh, he got out of the car to follow her toward the bleachers. He had to fight through the crowd and lost sight of her, then found her again talking to Faith and a little girl.....who by the looks of her, was Faith's younger sister. "Hi, Darren!" Faith yelled enthusiastically and jumped. "You were great!"
"Thanks, Faith. I guess we all tried hard, and that's what counts."
"That's true. Let me introduce my little sister, Hope. She is eleven."
The little girl smiled shyly at Darren. Darren cleared his throat.
"Well, Clarissa, are you ready to go?"
During this dialogue, Clarissa had remained silent. She spoke one word. "Yes." She hugged Faith goodbye and turned and started walking toward the parking lot. Darren lingered behind. "Faith," he gathered up courage. "Faith-- I enjoy spending time with you, and was... wondering if....we could go out.....There, I said it, thank God!" Then he looked at Faith, who was a little surprised. Then, she smiled, her gorgeous smile, one that inevitably broke many school boys' hearts. "I'd love to, Darren."
Scared at his own success, Darren smiled and hurried away. Then he realized he hadn't set a time or date. Chuckling, he turned back and set the date for the coming Friday around 4:00 pm.
He wasn't late in picking her up. They went to Applebee's, then to a theatrical play hosted by the college in Annandale. It was a Midsummer Night's Dream, which was a Shakespearean comedy. They both enjoyed themselves hugely. Faith was a really fun girl; she enjoyed the little adventures that life gave. Darren was a fun-lover as well, and he loved to listen to Faith's funny stories. She told one about the first crush she ever had. She was eleven when she first met him, and they became good friends. Sadly, though, he moved away with his family when she was in eighth grade. What was so interesting to Darren was that Faith was able to laugh about it, as if the experience of losing her first crush in such a way actual gave her something. That energy of being able to learn from life was what Darren fell head over heels in love with.
As is tradition, Darren walked Faith up to her porch and asked for a kiss. She willingly assented. Just as she had put her hands around his face, his phone went off. He turned it off, and turned his attention to the girl. She kissed him. He was on cloud nine as he walked back to his car. Then, he remembered his text. It was Peter. The message went thus: "hey, dude, Clarissa is annoying me, i mean more than usual. She is in a bad mood and won't shut up...have u got any idea y??"
He texted back: "No, no way....Don't mind Clarissa. she isn't always so nice to me, either...remember that time she pushed me into the pool? And just last week, she called me stupid....i need to get her back 4 that. u say she won't shut up...what is she talking about?"
A couple minutes later his phone vibrated again. Peter had texted back: "well, she keeps getting mad at mom and dad for making her do chores. she has to take care of Christine after school and hardly has time for herself. whatever that means, cuz it seems like she's always with friends lol."
The following Monday after school, Darren took charge of making sure Christine was fed, diapered and entertained. Instead of going out, Clarissa stayed in the kitchen and made cookies. After she was done, she casually told Darren that he could have as many as he wanted.
Darren stared at Clarissa open-mouthed. He hurriedly grabbed five cookies, wondering if he was dreaming. He better eat them before she changed her mind....or he woke up. Clarissa laughed at Darren running out of the kitchen, and since she didn't say "Hey bring those back, you gluttonous jerk!!!!" He heaved a sigh of relief. Who was this girl?
He got his answer 30 seconds later while he was on the toilet, pooping non-stop. Clarissa had put laxatives in his cookies. He clenched as he heard Clarissa's evil laugh coming from the kitchen. He was sure she wasn't done with her realm of terror either.
Peter took a frisbee to the head the next day at school. It left him unconsious, and he had to be taken to the nurse. Of course, he was made fun of, because the person who threw the frisbee was a girl, incidentally, it was Clarissa. He swung a couple punches just to protect his honor, and got sent to the principal's office 3 times in one day. He didn't care, but his parents sure did. They grounded him for 3 weeks--one week for every time he threw a punch. During this time, he could not go out with friends, watch TV, play video games, or do any recreational stuff on the computer. So, the only thing he did was read and breathe, basically. He was fine with that, though. He read the Twilight series, all of Shakespeare's plays, and the Harry Potter books in those three weeks, plus stayed up on his studies. Needless to say, he obsessed over reading.
Clarissa read the Twilight series, but unlike Faith, she thought they were really dumb. Faith loved them, and was trying to get Darren to read the first one. He was on the fence; he didn't really like reading that much, so he just decided that he'd watch the movies. The first one, New Moon, was pretty cool, he thought. But, he had to admit, Edward looked gay. This ticked Faith off, but she decided to just let it go.
During algebra class, Darren found out that women are evil because they take time and money when you go out with them. He decided that his algebra teacher was a total nut. Mr. Biameron was his name, and, Darren guessed, his love life was probably sucking.
One October evening, Faith, Darren, and Clarissa sat down in the Harmon's living room to watch the Twilight movie. Peter couldn't watch it because he was still grounded. Darren watched it and said that it was the dumbest movie ever. Clarissa agreed with him. He looked at her with his eyebrows raised.
"I think that's the first time you've ever agreed with me on anything, Clarissa."
"Yeah, well, it was bound to happen sometime. Don't get too happy about it."
"I can't BELIEVE you guys hated it!" Faith was annoyed.
"Come on, Faith! It's a movie about vampires--and I have never heard some of the myths they throw in this movie. Really, like vampires never sleep! That's stupid!" Darren laughed.
Faith loosened up after that.
Clarissa was a killer at the clarinet. She could hit notes awesomely well. Darren stayed in and listened to her practice once in the bandroom. She didn't know he was there, so when she heard clapping it nearly gave her a heart attack. She glared at him...again, but was dismayed to find that strategy incapable of working. "Get out of here, Darren."
He smiled. "Nope, sorry."
"I'll never teach you to skateboard again."
"I have Ollie who can teach me."
"I'll never let you have the cookies I bake."
"Am I really missing out? I don't especially want to spend another day on the pot."
"You do drugs? That explains so much! Now scram, before I make your life a living hell."
"You already have, Clarissa. Remember, you're the girl who drowned me in the pool at Vic Crombie's house. Just keep playing clarinet; I won't bother you."
"FINE! But I'll neuter you if you tell anyone."
"Scout's honor."
Clarissa kept playing and surprisingly, she kept hitting false notes....no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't seem to hit them just right.
Peter got through his three weeks of grounding and was able to do the things he loved again, like Chess Club. He met a girl there named Theresa, who really liked the way he didn't care what other people thought of him. They started dating; Peter bragged about it all the time to his sister's face, who had never dated in her life. Clarissa didn't let guys define her; she was content to go through life, living up to her own expectations.
Christine was growing; she could sit up with pillows behind her, and she could roll over. Clarissa and Darren sometimes had to babysit her after school--the upside was that Paul and Gabriella paid them. Sometimes Faith joined them. One such day in the middle of October, Faith, Darren and Clarissa took turns holding Christine and burping her. Once, Darren burped Christine and the milk fell on Faith instead of him. She grimaced, and Clarissa started laughing hysterically. Darren took all started wiping it, and Faith, to show her gratitude, kissed him on the cheek. Clarissa saw and suddenly, her face started turning red, and her fists curled up. She tried to reason with the monster in her brain, saying that Darren was NOT her type of guy, for the following reasons:
1. He has four tattoos......why the hell would he do that to himself?
2. He is sweaty, like, all the time.
3. He is just a jerk.
But all those thoughts were in vain.
"Let me take Christine, guys. I need to burp her." Clarissa practically ran out of the living room. In her room, she started hitting pillows and throwing stuff around, leaving Christine out of it, of course. Finally, she fell asleep, with her little niece beside her.

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