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Chapter 28: What Are Friends For?
I wandered the castle distracted by my thoughts of the almost-moment I had just had with Potter. It was amazing how one small blond person could single-handedly ruin everything. If only Holly had come just a few minutes later…
I ran my hands anxiously through my hair as I turned down a new hallway. When would I ever get another chance like that to tell him how I feel? With Holly still around that may never happen…
My thoughts were interrupted by a crashing sound coming from around the corner in the next corridor. Of all the nights for me to have to bust a student out after hours, this was the worst.
I rounded the corner quietly, not wanting to scare whoever was lurking in the corridor but there was no one there. Confused, I walked a few steps forward and heard a shattering noise from inside the classroom I was standing next to. The door was already half open and I pushed it open the rest of the way slowly so I wouldn’t make any noise. I froze immediately when I saw who inside. I lowered my wand slowly as my mind tried to grasp what was going on before my eyes.
Chris was staggering with his back to me, a bottle clutched in one hand and his wand grasped tightly in the other. He was aiming his wand unsteadily at the other front of the classroom where he was haphazardly firing spells at the wall, occasionally hitting one of the many bottles he had lined up there. He would laugh softly when he hit one while it exploded, sending shards of glass skidding underneath the rows of desks. We were both far enough away that we did not get hit by the flying debris, but I took a startled step back when I realized how intoxicated he was and the bottles he had lined up had been drained by him. There were still five glass bottles set against the wall and who knew how many he had already destroyed?
I backed up a little more, not wanting to be too close to him in his apparent drunken state. The heel of my shoe caught on a crack in the stone floor and sent me falling back, barely catching myself on my hands and I hit the floor.
Chris wheeled around toward me, his eyes red and glazed from drinking. He paused when he recognized me and dropped his wand to his side as we stared at each other.
I scrambled to my feet as quickly as I could. Why did Potter have to be on patrol with Holly? Of all the times that I could use his interference, it would be now.
I stumbled as I righted myself, trying to find my balance. I was so stunned to see Chris like this. In all the time that we had dated, I had never seen him so much as touch a bottle of alcohol. He knew of course, that I drank occasionally and was fine with that, but he had never mentioned anything of his habits. I had naively assumed that he had none.
“Lily,” he muttered, his watery eyes narrowing at me. He took a staggering step toward me and I moved back instinctively.
“Chris, what are you doing out so late? You need to get back to your common room,” I said, trying to disguise the panic in my voice as authority.
“You can’t tell me what to do, Evans,” he sneered at me, taking another step forward and sticking the bottle in his mouth for another drink.
“Yes, I can Chris,” I said, my voice getting louder. “I’m Head Girl and you’re supposed to be in bed.”
“Funny, Evans,” Chris laughed dangerously, taking another step towards me. “I could never get you into bed.”
“You’re drunk, Chris.” I accused backing away from him farther. My heart was pounding quickly in my chest. I was sure he could hear it. “You need to leave.”
“I don’t have to do anything, Evans,” he slurred at me, raising his wand to me. He stared me right in the eyes as he raised his bottle again.
My grip on my own wand tightened as I raised it as well, pointing it straight at his chest.
“One foul move and I’ll take you down. I swear I will,” I threatened him. My self defensive instincts were starting to kick in and I straightened up even more. I was definitely quicker than him in his current state and I was smarter. I was sure I’d be able to at least disarm him before he could do any harm. Where was Potter when I needed him? I made a mental note to make Potter come with me on rounds from now on.
“There’s no one here to save you, Evans,” Chris laughed at me, seeming to read my mind. My confidence wavered as I realized he may not be a match for me in terms of magic, but physically he was much stronger than me.
“Watch it, Chris,” I warned him. I wasn’t used to being on the defensive with him. It was unnerving. “I will do what’s necessary to keep myself safe, even if that means stunning you.”
“Right,” he snarled at me and raised his wand.
“Chris, I don’t want to fight you,” I pleaded, lowering my wand slightly. I was scared for myself but I couldn’t shake the fact that this was Chris standing in front of me. My Chris. No, I scolded myself mentally. I couldn’t think of him like that anymore.
“No, but you did want to cheat on me,” he spat at me. I cringed as I realized what he was talking about.
“I didn’t cheat on you, Chris. I never meant to hurt you like this,” I insisted. In my mind, I hadn’t cheated on him. It was Potter who had initiated the kiss and even though I didn’t stop it soon enough, it wasn’t exactly unwanted. All of this had made sense at one point. I had broken up with him to save him from getting hurt in the future when I inevitably fell for Potter.
“You were the one freaking out at the end of the year that I was going to break up with you. What the hell was I supposed to think when two weeks later you broke up with me? It didn’t make sense, Lily,” Chris roared at me, advancing on me as I backed up even more, bumping into the wall behind me, next to the door. “And then getting back together? What the hell was I supposed to think about all this?”
“I know and I’m sorry, Chris. I wish I could explain but I’m not even sure myself,” I cried. He was starting to scare me and I was desperate for any kind of help. Maybe Potter had heard our yelling by now. I hoped he had. Please let him have heard us.
“Try and explain to me, Lily,” Chris begged. He stumbled to the side slightly. I wondered how much of this he would remember tomorrow.
“I can’t, Chris.” I said forcefully. My knuckles were turning white from gripping my wand so hard. I needed to do something soon. This was getting out of hand. Was I or was I not Head Girl, after all?
“It was Potter, wasn’t it?” He growled, stumbling backwards again. I took advantage of his momentary disability and moved away from the wall so I wasn’t cornered anymore, but I was still stunned by this accusation.
“It wasn’t,” I urged, but my voice broke. He could tell I was lying.
“It was, wasn’t it?” Chris asked, lowering his voice to a dangerous whisper.
“I swear, Chris. There was no one else. It just wasn’t right. You’ve got to believe me,” I pleaded. I had to regain control of this situation. I should just stun him or something. But when I looked into his glassy brown eyes, all I could see was the Chris I used to know, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that.
“You’re lying to me,” He shouted as he threw the now empty bottle in his hand against the wall next to me, shattering it. The shards of glass clattered to the floor around my feet and I took a few steps toward the adjoining wall. We were staring at each other across the classroom now, the door in between us against the wall. Chris pointed his wand at me again.
“Lily?” A voice called from the door. I tore my eyes away from Chris’s livid face to see Potter staring at me, his hazel eyes wide with shock as he took in the scene before him.
But my momentary distraction was all Chris needed. Before I had time to defend myself, something hard slammed into me, hitting me squarely in the chest. I was thrown backwards into the wall with a force so strong that it knocked the breath out of me and my head cracked against the stone wall before my legs gave out beneath me. I fell to the floor, completely defenseless. My wand escaped from my right hand, clattering to the floor just out of reach.
I looked up, still unable to breathe, to see Chris standing over me, his wand pointing at my face. Before I could even react, a jet of red light hit Chris in the back and he collapsed onto the floor just in front of me. I scrambled to sit up and I heard footsteps hurrying toward me. I winced as I lifted my head and pain throbbed from a spot at the back. I absently reached back to rub the tender spot while I gazed down at what was in front of me.
Chris was laying facedown, his eyes half closed and his wand clutched loosely in his hand still. He was unconscious. The footsteps came closer and slowed down from a run to a quick walk. I pulled my hand out from behind my head to grab my wand, lying not too far from me but I stopped when I saw my hand. It was covered in a thick red liquid that I quickly recognized as my own blood. I snapped my head to the side so I couldn’t see the blood and I wiped it off on my robes before reaching to feel the back of my head again. As I gazed down at my other arm, I blanched as I saw a small shard of glass sticking out awkwardly from the sleeve of my robes. I pulled my hand slowly from behind my head, not even noticing that there were small spots of blood on my fingertips. I took a deep breath, now that I could breathe properly again and gently pulled the glass from my arm. I let out a small yelp at the searing pain that accompanied the action. I drew in more shallow breaths as I pulled back my sleeve to see more blood dripping in narrow rivers down my arm.
“Lily, are you alright?” I heard a voice say. It sounded distant in my ringing ears, like I was listening through a tunnel. The room started to dissolve before my eyes and I lay my head back down on the cool stones. I drew in deep, ragged breaths as I waited as calmly as I could for my vision to return. I closed my eyes and I could hear my heart thumping wildly in my chest. The dizziness and nausea I felt started to subside and I opened my eyes again. I was aware that someone was sitting next to me, gently trying to nudge me awake again.
“Lily, can you hear me?” I heard the same frantic voice say and it sounded much closer than before.
I nodded, not able to speak yet. I tried to sit up slowly but a hand forced me back down.
“Maybe you should stay lying down,” the voice said, still seeping with concern.
I shook my head quickly as I sat up. My vision was coming back, fading from spotty blackness to the disorienting reality. James’s arm was resting on my shoulder, still unsure of whether I should be moving at all.
“Lily, are you alright?” he asked again as he helped me to a sitting position.
I blinked hard, willing the sharp pain at the back of my head to go away.
I nodded again as I struggled to get to my feet. I noticed that I was still shaking and my balance was off. I stumbled to the side a little and I had to lean against the stone wall.
James stood and grabbed my arm, offering support. Despite everything that just happened, my stomach fluttered slightly at his touch.
“Thanks,” I said quietly, finally finding my voice. It sounded empty to me, someone else’s voice. “For everything. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t shown up…”
“Don’t mention it,” James muttered absently. “Lily, why don’t you head back to the common room and I’ll meet you there in a few minutes, okay?”
“I have to clean this up, though,” I said as I stumbled forward with my wand out, ready to start to clear the floor of broken glass.
“Lily,” James urged, pushing my wand arm down to my side. “I’ll take care of it. Please, can you just go back to the dorm? I’ll make sure everything is cleaned up here.”
I stared at the broken glass on the floor for a minute before nodding. Clumsily, I began walking. I looked back when I was at the door and saw James slinging Chris over his shoulder with a grunt.
I felt a lump in my throat form as I turned back in the direction of my room. Swirls of images and thoughts filled my head as I made my way to my room and before I realized it, I was standing in front of the portrait of the centaurs. My mind was such a jumble of incomprehensible things that I couldn’t even think of the password. I stared at the painting for several minutes as a few centaurs peeked their heads out from behind trees and eventually made their way into plain view. They settled down on the mossy forest floor and went to sleep as I watched them, still unable to think of the password.
My breath was coming in harsh gasps and I felt myself beginning to fall to pieces. If only I could remember the password! I felt oddly numb as I stood there in the hall. I was just considering going to the Gryffindor tower when a set of footsteps down the hall startled me.
James strode down the hall quickly toward me and I simply stared helplessly back at him.
“Dux Ducis,” he muttered, gently tugging on the sleeve of my robe, pulling me into the common room. He steered me toward the couch and I sank down willingly.
James sat next to me, sitting on an angle so that he was facing me.
“Are you hurt anywhere?” He asked as his hazel eyes swept over me quickly, taking in my distraught form.
I stuck out my left arm and pulled back the sleeve. There was a lot more blood than the last time I looked and the sleeve of my robes had smeared it so my entire forearm was covered in red.
James pulled out his wand and carefully took my left hand in his. I drew in a ragged breath at his touch, but now was not the time to be thinking things like that.
He winced slightly when he saw the deep gash. He mouthed something, so softly that I couldn’t hear, and a tiny ribbon of sparkling white slipped from the end of his wand and wrapped around my arm accompanied by a warm, pleasant sensation. As soon as the white ribbon disappeared, James pulled my arm forward slightly so he could see where the cut used to be. The cut was gone, but still surrounded by the drying blood.
“Anywhere else?” He asked anxiously, sweeping over me with his worried eyes.
“My head,” I muttered, my hand brushing lightly against the back where the blood had dried, matting my hair. I winced as I tried to comb through my hair and James pulled my hand away.
“Let me see,” he said, gently dropping my hand onto my lap. My fingers tingled from his touch, but I hardly noticed. He was carefully turning my head to see where the blood was coming from.
“Shit,” he muttered as he pulled my hair out of the way. I felt him raise his other arm and he whispered “episkey”. The tension in my head instantly lifted and I reached a tentative hand up to feel where the cut on the back of my head had healed perfectly.
“Thank you,” I whispered, still avoiding his searching gaze.
“What happened, Lily? Can you tell me?” James asked softly, dropping my hair and settling back onto the couch, his eyes still on me.
I looked down at my now-healed arm, still covered in blood, and I yanked down the sleeve of my robe to hide it. My stomach flipped uneasily and I felt like I was going to be sick.
“I need to lie down,” I said breathlessly. My head was spinning again and I was afraid I would pass out.
“Do you want to go to your room? I can help you…” James asked frantically, his hands moving helplessly around me, unsure of what to do.
“I can’t move,” I muttered, closing my eyes as the room began to dissolve.
“Lie down right here,” James guided me as I slowly lay down, taking up the empty space next to him. I kept my eyes closed, afraid I would get sick.
“I don’t know what spell he hit me with,” I confessed, slurring the words in my uneasy state. “He was drunk, something could have gone wrong.”
“Everything’s ok, Lily,” James assured me, placing an awkward hand on my shoulder. “He was trying to stun you, I think. You’ll be fine. I think you’re just experiencing a little bit of shock. You hit your head pretty hard.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, as I felt the familiar sting of tears in the corners of my eyes.
“Why?” James asked, taken aback.
“I’m sorry that you had to see any of that,” I said quietly, my voice breaking. “I should have taken care of it as fast as I could. I should have—“ my voice broke off as a sob escaped from me. I sucked in a quick breath. I wouldn’t let myself go to pieces in front of him.
“Lily, it’s ok,” James said soothingly as he gently stroked my hair away from my face. “I’m just glad I got there before he could do any real damage.”
“But you shouldn’t have had to,” I said, my voice thick. “This is all wrong.”
“I was supposed to spare him from getting hurt,” I stuttered, the words spilling out of my mouth before I could stop myself. “It wasn’t fair to him for me to be with him while I was in—when it was obvious that I didn’t love him.”
I trailed off, as a single tear fell freely from my eye and the events of the night sent fresh waves of guilt through me. Seeing Chris’s distraught face, red from the drink, as he accused me of everything that was true, his lifeless form lying on the cold stone, the glass shards littering the hallway.
“Where’s Holly?” I asked suddenly, realizing her absence for the first time.
“I sent her back to her room when I heard shouting,” James explained, his voice tight with something I couldn’t identify.
“Oh,” was all I could say.
“You should try to get some sleep,” James said stiffly, moving away from me. “Can you move yet?”
I opened my eyes and the room flooded into view. I sat up carefully, making sure the nausea had passed. I let myself readjust to sitting up and slowly pushed myself off the couch, wobbling slightly. I hastily wiped the stray tear that had escaped from my eye, suddenly ashamed of letting myself cry even a little in front of him.
“Thanks again,” I said, my voice was stronger, but still shaky.
He inclined his head slightly, but he didn’t say anything as he watched me walk slowly to my room.
“James?” I said turning around suddenly. He was still sitting on the couch with a strange expression on his face. He looked up at me, waiting.
“I’d really appreciate if you didn’t mention this to anyone,” I requested, meeting his gaze.
“What are friends for?” He shrugged, still watching me as I turned back to go into my room for the most restless night of sleep I’d ever had.
A/N: Hey everyone! Woo another new chapter! I've got a bit of a break from school now so hopefully I'll get a chance to write a lot more!! This chapter was pretty crazy though, huh? Let me know what you thought!