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Chapter 11: Timing Is Key - Part II
- Daniel J. Boorstin
OK, he didn’t react, so I don’t think that he heard me. That meant that everything was still OK, as long as he didn’t hear me. But did he hear me? Because if he did, I’m dead meat. Unless he felt the same way, but wouldn’t he have said anything back if that were true? Or did I even say it? It could have all been in my imagination. Just there... in my imagination. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.
“Did you just tell George that you loved him?” Damn you, Magda. Damn you.
“I might have,” I replied defensively, walking out of the Hog’s Head.
“There’s no need to get stressed about it, it’s cute.”
I shook my head. “It won’t be that cute if it scares him off.”
“And who says that it’ll scare him off?”
“Well…No one, but… I don’t know, do I?”
We began to walk towards the Three Broomsticks, as I had promised Bella that I would take over for them after a certain point. When we arrived, I was very surprised to see that Bella seemed to be waiting outside for me. Obviously she had missed me so much, she needed to hang around outside in dying wait for my Apparition. Shit, I’m going to have to learn that next year. The stories I have heard...
“Surely it wasn’t that unbearable.”
“No, it wasn’t. I was just wondering where you guys were.”
Something didn’t seem right. Bella was glancing back into the Three Broomsticks. It seemed a lot more crowded than usual, so I didn’t notice what she was looking at exactly. “Busy, huh?”
“Well, then we’ll definitely help out, if you need the hands,” said Magda. “Because I certainly want the dosh.”
“There’s no need,” said Bella, her eyes wide and looking at Magda, trying to send some kind of signal or something.
“What are you – oh. You know what, Anne? I think we might need to pick a few things up from Honeydukes, anyway.”
“Knowing you, you will when we go in anyway,” said Magda quietly.
Frowning, I tried to push past Bella, but she held me back. “We’ll let you in, but only if you promise to behave.”
“What are you on about? What is it with you guys and keeping secrets from me this year? You two are the most unbelievable pillocks on the planet.”
Bella looked to Magda, and then back to me. “It’s just that well… he’s… well, he’s in there.”
Oh Merlin. Pucey. I shook my head and said, “Well, I’m not going to talk to him, am I?”
“But what if he tries to be all…sentimental.”
“He’s already tried apologising to me, remember?”
Bella reluctantly stood to one side, letting me through, saying, “Well, if you think so. But you never really listened to his apology.”
“When did I ever listen to Pucey? The boy drugged me.”
There was a pause and I asked, “What?” half way through entering the Three Broomsticks.
“Yeah, who else would we be talking about?”
When I entered the room, I realised. There, among the vast number of people, laughing with his friends, was Oliver Wood. I paused and looked towards Bella and Magda, and then to Amy, who was standing awkwardly besides Seamus and Dean, and then back to Oliver. He then spotted me and stood up, beginning to walk over. I didn’t know what to do or say. I just tried to think of how to escape, but there were people blocking my exit. I couldn’t move her without being very obvious about the fact that I needed to get out of there.
So I pretended to faint.
There were gasps around me and I was now faced to imagine the scene as everything was in darkness. I felt a hand over my face, the skin in close contact, and I then heard Magda say, “She’s breathing.” No, I died. I’m not that unfit, people.
“What happened?” I could recognise that voice anywhere. Oliver Wood was hovering over me, and I was pretending to have fainted. There has to be a crown somewhere, ready for my Coronation as Queen of the saddoes. Sorry, Loony, you’ve lost it this year. Unless she manages to make some new earrings that beat the radishes. Oh, great, I’m just the runner up. But can you be the runner up for Queen? Wouldn’t it be Princess? Or Queen Dowager - no, that’s when the King died. So I’m just the poor maiden who almost got the king, if it wasn’t for that damn other girl. I bet she has a better nose than me...
“I don’t know, she had been complaining about feeling slightly ill,” replied Bella, covering for me. Good girl.
“Shit. Well, do you want me to get –”
“No,” said Magda hastily. “We’ll just get her into the fresh air. Erm…”
“I’ll go,” offered Amy, who was grabbing me from underneath my arms. Well, I hope it was her. I could really do with opening my eyes when I get the chance.
To my dismay, Seamus then said, “I’ll go with you. You need some man power.” I then felt someone scoop up my legs and someone wrapped my cloak around, clearly concerned about the revealing situation that I was in. Well, if he was so concerned, he wouldn’t be holding my legs right now, would he? Thinking of this, I began to feel a little more self conscious than I once had.
“I can –”
“Oliver, I think you going will just give her a heart attack,” said Magda bluntly. “Amy and Seamus will bring her back in when she’s ready.”
“We can see if Madam Rosmerta will give us anything strong to give her a kick.”
“But not too strong, mind you,” said Magda. “We don’t want another Pucey incident.”
“Thanks for the implication,” said Oliver dryly.
“We didn’t mean it that way. We just meant public affections gone wrong. Of course, George, her boyfriend, is more of a gentlemen, so that probably won’t happen.” What the hell are you doing Magda? Oh right... bravo... hm...
I then could feel my body move along in the air, and Amy and Seamus shouted their good-byes. I figured that I could pretend to be faint for another five minutes, and then run to Honeydukes, because Magda was definitely right about what she said; I needed it.
Once we had left, Amy snapped, “What are you doing?” Her tone made me slightly worried. After all, it was my body that they were handling here.
“Helping. What else would I be doing?” What else could he be doing? Maybe he’s planning to remove my eyebrows. Then again, if I get them re grown, maybe I can get them shaped to. Wow, it just gets harder and harder to focus.
“Funny,” said Amy, and I could feel her spray on my face. Nice. “Only, your help hasn’t really been of much use to me.”
“Can you just hear me out?”
“No. No, I can’t.”
OK, this was odd. I was now under the impression that they weren’t talking about me anymore, or ever were. Boy, I just sounded extremely vain just then.
“Look, five minutes of your time. That’s all I ask for me to explain.”
“Bella’s my best friend. You are Bella’s ex-boyfriend.”
“And ex is the word we are using here.”
“You and Bella should be together. You and I are not good together, in that way. Or any way, if you keep pushing it.”
“And how do you know?” demanded Seamus, and the temptation to open my eyes was getting worse. It wasn’t because I wanted to see what was going on, but I wanted them to shut up. Bella was in the Three Broomsticks right now, sipping on her Butterbeer without a care in the world, while this was going on.
“It’s not just that,” added Amy. “Cedric only died less than four months ago. I’m not ready to move on with anyone and frankly, if I were to, I already have someone in mind. I’m sorry Seamus, but me and you are not going to happen.”
“I get it, you’re guilty –”
“No, I’m –”
“No, you are. You’re guilty because of Bella, and Cedric, and Fred, but all I’m asking is one date. If it doesn’t work out, you can banish me.”
“This isn’t fair.” Amy’s voice was becoming cracked, and I was distinctly under the impression that she was going to let me down and fall down into tears at any second. “I still care for Cedric, I’m not ready –”
They stopped and I my legs fell down, followed by my carefully placed upper body, lying over their bodies. After a long pause, Seamus said, “You broke up over a year ago.”
“I wish it were that simple. What me and Cedric had was complicated. And I don’t think anyone can stop me loving him.”
“So you’re just not going to find anyone new?”
“No.” Amy brushed a strand of my hair aside, but I wished she hadn’t. I could feel the pain radiating off her so much that it made me want to cry too. “One day I will, but… not yet. As I said, what me and Cedric had was complicated. More complicated than anyone can know. We loved each other.”
“So much that he called it a thing?” asked Seamus. The spiteful little bastard. “Ow! What the hell?”
“I don’t know. It was like her leg had a seizure or something. You OK?”
“Yeah, I’m fine...” How did he even know that? You know what? It doesn’t matter. All I know is the moment that I get my hands on him…
“And yes,” continued Amy sadly, “he did, once. But that wasn’t why it ended.”
It didn’t -
But then -
There was -
She said that -
“But he did say it, and it hurt. And I didn’t tell anyone for a while, and used it as our reason. But there… but there was more to it. More than anyone will ever know, to avoid sounding like something fresh out of a detective drama.”
“I don’t expect you to understand. You know less about the situation than any of my friends do. But what I’m making you understand is that, under no circumstances, am I going to date anyone, not yet.”
There was another long silence and Amy then said, “And that’s why you should stick with Bella. I’m damaged goods, Seamus. Damaged goods who just lost the love of her life. And – Anne!”
“Yeah?” I had to open my eyes slowly, because the sunlight was getting to me.
“Anne, are you crying?”
I felt a tear fall down the side of my cheek and wiped it to one side. “Sunlight’s a bit bright, that’s all. My eyes clearly haven’t quite adjusted. What happened?”
“You fainted,” explained the bastard, Seamus.
“We were told to bring you back,” began Amy, “but if you want…”
“I want to go to Honeydukes,” I said abruptly. “I want to go with you to Honeydukes.”
Amy looked at Seamus. “Can you go back and tell them that we’ve gone for a walk?”
“Sure.” Seamus got up and said timidly, “Get better, Anne.”
“Nothing’s wrong with me.”
“Sorry,” I said bitterly. “How premature of me...”
When he was gone, Amy picked me up and said, “Right, to Honeydukes.”
“Right.” When we had begun to walk, I commanded, “Tell me about Cedric?”
Amy looked at me, her face stunned. Her expression then softened as she asked, “How long had you been awake for?”
”I heard his name a couple of times, but I didn’t really connect together,” I lied. “It just occurred to me that we’ve never talked about him. And we should. Because, friends are supposed to.”
Amy paused and, with a smile, said, “He had the oddest expression sometimes… you know? Every time he was confused, he used to…”
It was a while until we arrived back at the castle. We didn’t bother going back to the Three Broomsticks – but who really didn’t see that coming anyway? Instead, we settled on sharing our own stories about our time in the past. I felt like I could talk about things I never really had beforehand. If you were to ask me why, I think it was because I was feeling Amy’s pain to an extent where I could feel like sharing my own.
“Verity didn’t even send a card his year,” I said.
“No. I think she really is just cutting herself off. OK, she sent a note, but it looked like she found the parchment somewhere.”
Amy shook her head. “It’s hardly your fault.”
“Well, it was my choice not to go with her, wasn’t it?”
Looking at her, I realised I had never told her the full story before. Well, it’s all about the revelations today, so... Heaving a sigh, I replied, “When Verity left, she said that I should come with her. Together, we could make a world away from what mum had left behind, away from the…”
“From the what?”
“From the… from the dykes.”
I could remember the day so clearly, and it was years ago. Verity was packing her bags, making a point to glace back at me every now and again. I sat on the bed, trying to make her stop, and that’s when she dropped the bomb. Come with her, or stay back there. To be honest, I was happy to go. Dad was long gone – haven’t seen him since – and another day with Leslie seemed too much to bear. She was the women who ended all hope for my mum and dad, for my family. But Verity ruined it for herself.
”We can leave these dykes behind, and start a proper life.”
I didn’t mind her insulting Leslie like that. I would probably have called her one, even if she wasn’t gay. But mum? No, I would never let anyone call her that.
“I don’t think so.”
I think it was pretty much there and then when I realised that our relationship as sisters would be over because of it. I was about to say my reason – but then I thought of a better one, a more important one.
”Because she loves me enough to never make me choose.”
“You’re pretty deep for a thirteen year old at times, you know that?” That was probably the last real sentence she said to me.
I blinked back stray tears. Today had been emotional enough. Amy and I discussed a bit more, but I tried to move away from the topic. We had finally reached the common room when I was hit with a sudden realisation. “Shit! George!”
“What about him?”
“Well… I might have… I mean, it’s possible that I. OK, I told him I loved him.”
Amy laughed for a solid couple of minutes – I really wish I was kidding – and said the password to the Fat Lady, saying, “How did you get yourself into that situation?”
“I don’t know. It just sort of… came out. I don’t know. I guess it’s not the end of the world, is it?” It is true. I don’t technically need to justify my actions. If I love my boyfriend, then why can’t I tell him? If he doesn’t love me back, well that just tells us something about the relationship, doesn’t it? I mean, nobody should hide their feelings so if he doesn’t like him, then screw him. I love Oliver Wood and there is nothing anyone could do about it.
Except I don’t love Oliver Wood. I love my boyfriend - my boyfriend George Weasley.
Shit, not this again!
What is wrong with me? There’s nothing wrong with George! And all Oliver’s done is turn up at the Three Broomsticks when I should have been working there. But he doesn’t know that, does he? I never told him that I was working there, did I? No, I didn’t. So he just happens to come at one day and this is how I’m acting; it’s completely stupid. I love George, and there’s nothing he can do about that.
Shaking her head, Amy asked, “Were you even listening to me?”
“Of course I – no.”
After a heavy sigh, Amy stated, “I was just asking if you wanted to go and talk to George.”
To my surprise, I paused to think about it. I had just agreed with myself that I was going to go and talk to him about it, but I somehow couldn’t bring myself to. I actually couldn’t physically manage to walk towards his dormitory and tell him how I felt, because I didn’t know what I was feeling. This morning, my feelings for George were sorted, and nothing seemed to be able to obstruct that. But now Oliver had somehow managed to once again wriggle into the picture, and I was at a complete loss. How does this happen to a person? Why does this happen to a person? Why does this happen to me?
“Yeah, I do.” I needed to do this. I needed to get over whatever was going through my mind that could possibly destroy my relationship with George Weasley and move on with him, not from him.
It took some pressure from Amy, but I managed to break through the barrier of my worries and pressed on towards the boy’s dormitory. It took all the strength I could actually muster to knock on the door and ask for George.
“Sorry, Anne,” said Lee apologetically, “he’s not in.”
“Oh.” I decided not to ask about why he wasn’t in and merely said, “Well, when you get the chance, just tell him that I came by to check on him.”
“Will do.” In the corner of my eye, I could see the long ginger hair of Fred Weasley. I must have seriously shaken him, or at least something else has, if he’s not with me or his twin.
I shrugged my shoulders as I walked towards Amy.
“He’s not there.”
“Seriously? Where could he be?”
“Who knows,” I replied honestly. “Perhaps he’s tried to kill himself!”
“Because you told him that you loved him?”
“Oh that’s right,” I said, my voice loud enough to cover Amy’s chortling. “You laugh all you want.”
“Amy, can I ask you a favour?” asked Fred Weasley, standing on the stairs of the boys’ dormitory.
“Shoot.” Her voice was slightly nervous. It had probably been one of the first times that they talked since their previous almost-romance.
“If you could just keep an eye on the first-years. In case anything… funny happens over time. I’ll do it too, but it’s nice to have some extra eyes for us too. You can as well, Anne, if you want to.”
I laughed. “I’ll do it. But only because I love those damn first-years. Where are you off to?”
“My room. I’ve been working all day to get these testers sorted.”
My stomach then lurched and I wondered where I could go to throw up. If Fred had been out, then whose ginger hair did I see in the dormitory? And if I assumption was right, even though I was praying that it wasn’t, then why on Earth did Lee just say that he wasn’t in? I told him I loved him, that’s all. Then he went to Zonko’s and he probably went to the Three Broomsticks for a Butterbeer or something…
And that’s when I actually threw up.