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Chapter 2: II
“Maybe… maybe he just dyes his hair,” I offered, lying flat on my back and staring up at my bed hangings, “That must be it. It’s a perfectly reasonably explanation.”
“Why in hell would Christian dye his hair?” Roxy was pacing the dorm. As if she were the one who’s whole life (to put it dramatically) had been thrown off balance.
“I don’t know. Maybe I tell him I like it like that.”
“Maybe. I don’t know. No.” I screwed up my eyes, “Why? Why did I choose to specialise in something as clear and informative as a fucking crystal ball? Why didn’t I choose tea leaves? Tea leaves never tell you anything of interest in any detail. Tea leaves are safe -”
“I think we’ve just got to come to terms with it, Ren. You just… you and Chris just aren’t meant to be,” She began idly picking up various items from the floor and throwing them into the air, juggling. It wasn’t odd for her to be doing something like that. She had the natural co-ordination you think only exists for international athletes. Well, to be fair, she probably was heading in that direction. Maybe I’d Look one day, and see.
No bloody way.
No more ‘looking’ for me. Not now, not ever. See what it does? Disrupts? Yeah.
“Just a couple of hours ago you said we were!” I pointed out, “Everyone does…”
“Yeah,” One of the items she was concentrating on juggling was my shoe, I noticed. How she managed to juggle and carry out a conversation was beyond me, “But you saw it. You saw yourself marrying someone else. How often are you wrong?”
I ignored the rhetorical question. “Yeah, but I was thinking… I never saw the actual wedding. You know, the whole ‘I do’, ‘you may now kiss the bride’ part. Maybe I don’t marry Dark Haired Guy. Maybe it’s all some kind of a con for me and Chris… or maybe I was going to marry Dark Haired Guy but Chris comes in at the last minute and stops me -”
Roxy fumbled a catch and let all the objects fall into a heap on the floor before sternly placing her hands on her hips and raising her eyebrows at me, “Have you been reading those trashy muggle romance novels that Harrie got you for Christmas?”
“That is besides the point.”
“You really think that things are going to be screwed up enough for you and Chris to need to come up with some elaborate con for reasons unknown?”
Well, when she put it like that…
“You never know,” I said, stubbornly.
“Or, you reckon that you were going to marry Dark Haired Guy – I’m going to call him D.H.G. – you reckon you were going to marry D.H.G. but then Chris stops it? Well, honey, that still means that you were planning on marrying someone else anyway.”
I sighed, “What’s your point?”
“My point is that you’re finding excuses. From what you’ve told me, I think we can safely conclude that you and Chris aren’t forever. Not anymore.”
There was a pause.
“Ok,” I swallowed, “Fine.” It totally wasn’t fine.
“So you just have to figure out what that means for you.”
“You know. Knowing you’re not… well, not eventually destined to be together. What that means for you two right now. I mean, you still love him. Right?”
I nodded. Of course I did.
“And it’s not like you were exactly planning on marrying him. Right?”
I nodded again. More slowly, though.
Of course I wasn’t exactly thinking about marriage. I was eighteen, for God’s sake! I was still at school… I wasn’t ready to be thinking about marriage.
Except it was just sort of… presumed. Accepted, kind of. People just made the assumption that Chris and I – the perfect couple – were, as Roxy put it, forever.
Except if there was anything in the world that my overactive imagination couldn’t stretch to, it was the idea of me and Chris ever not being together.
Except, to have ‘seen’ that in the crystal ball today… surely I must have been thinking about it.
It was the context, I told myself. It was the ring… he’d said himself ‘don’t worry, it’s not an engagement ring or anything’… he’d planted the seed in my head! And then the issue with the complete fool not realising which was my wedding finger… and then Roxy’s reaction…
Of course I’d had marriage on the brain.
Just not the marriage I’d been expecting.
“Maybe it doesn’t happen,” I sat up, blinking heavily to get the image of the dark head from my mind, “I could be wrong.”
“Ren…” Roxy shook her head. I knew as well as she did that ‘wrong’ wasn’t really an option here. ‘Wrong’ was just… out of the question.
“Or I could change it.” I ignored Roxy’s second head shake, “I could. Maybe I’ve just never wanted to change anything this much before. And I’ve got more time… I can change it, I know I can -”
“Ren,” Roxy repeated, sitting on the bed next to me.
I ceased my prattling on.
“You really want to marry Chris.” The way she worded it wasn’t quite a question.
I shrugged, helplessly, “I don’t know. But I do know I’d like the option. I just… I’ve never seen that far ahead before. I don’t like it that that’s the only way things can be. It can’t be like that.” My voice broke towards the end, almost like I was going to cry. But my eyes were dry.
Roxy put her arms around me, obviously startled that I was about to start bawling. “Honey I just don’t know what to say. This is all so… unreal.”
“Yesterday all I was worried about was Chris going over the top with his present,” I said, my voice muffled by her shoulder, “This really is a shitty birthday.”
“Technically…” Roxy said, tentatively, “This probably isn’t what you want to hear, but technically nothing’s changed for you and Chris. You’re right where you always were.”
With her usually brash attitude, it was easy to sometime overlook Roxy’s keen intelligence. She wasn’t a Ravenclaw for nothing.
“I preferred blissful ignorance,” I said.
Roxy arranged herself cross-legged on the bed and rested her elbows on her knees, chin in her hands. “What are you going to tell him?”
I blinked. “Chris? I’m not. I can’t…”
“He knows something’s up. He asked at least three times if you were ok over dinner. He might even click that you’ve ‘seen’ something, you know. He’s not thick -”
“No.” I shook my head, “He’d have asked. He doesn’t… he always used to tell me to be careful. Before every Divination lesson. But I haven’t seen anything in so long… he hasn’t warned me in so long…”
“So you’re just not going to tell him anything?”
“What’s to tell?” I reasoned, “I don’t want to terrify him with a nice ‘oh by the way seventeen-year-old boyfriend, I’ve just seen that we’re not getting married, just so you know’. You know how much he hates me Seeing anything to do with us anyway… let alone this. He’d run for the hills based just on the fact that I was even thinking about marriage…” I trailed off.
Roxy was looking at me seriously, and sympathetically. “Ren. Don’t kid yourself. You know as well as I do that he’s going to be devastated.”
Something in my midriff prickled at the thought that Chris would want that. That he’d want me… Then it died away. It wasn’t going to happen.
I sighed. Why did things have to be so complicated? Served me right for all my stupid ‘I’m so happy and content’ thoughts.
“I really do love him, Rox.”
“I just thought… I just…” I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“This probably isn’t what you want to hear but maybe you should just… forget about it. Look, you’ve had a perfectly nice birthday with Christian ‘Mr Perfect’ Macmillan, right?”
I sighed, “Right.”
“And you shouldn’t let something that happens how ever many years from now ruin that. Right?”
“Something that might happen.” I corrected her.
The look Roxy gave me said ‘don’t try and kid yourself you stupid bint’ better than her words could have.
I respectfully ignored it.
“Happy Birthday, Ren.”
Roxy’s ‘forget it’ plan was probably my best option. It was too much to think about – to get my head around. I fully intended to follow her advice.
That didn’t mean I was going to escape dreams filled with flashes of my faceless D.H.G, flashes of an unfamiliar stony expression on Chris’ face, flashes of gold, pearl and diamond…
“Sleep ok?” Roxy asked, as she arrived at breakfast. I got there early. No, I had not slept well.
I gave a non-committing grunt and shrug that I could blame on a mouthful of yoghurt.
She probably wasn’t convinced, but thankfully any interrogation was interrupted by the arrival of the other members of our little group – Chris, Luc and Rob.
“How’s it feel to be eighteen and a day, Little Miss Pensioner?” Rob Willis swung himself onto the bench in his usual graceful, athletic manner. He reminded me of Roxy in the way that they both possessed that natural athleticism; that was kind of how our group had formed – Rob, Chris and Roxy played on the house Quidditch team together, bringing their non-sporting friends (me and Luc) into their little bubble.
“Funny.” I said, through a mouthful of yoghurt.
“Got your O.A.P bus pass yet? Ordered a pensioners saving deal at the chippy? I’ve heard you get 30p off…” Rob, like me, was muggle born and so none of the others understood his ‘hilarious’ jokes.
“Got to hell, Robin.” I scowled. After my tossing and turning, desperately avoiding dreams involving D.H.G or that look on Chris’ face, I’d lost many hours of sleep. Therefore, wasn’t feeling at my perkiest.
“Don’t listen to him,” Chris took the seat next to me and winked, and easy grin on his face. It made me relax a little. He was smiling, not that heart-breaking expression… “I happen to find the older woman very sexy…”
“I’m two months older than you!” I protested, “Leave off with the elderly-based remarks, tossers!”
“You’re the first of the lot to hit the big one-eight,” Luc shrugged, “It’s a big deal.”
“I was the first to become of age too! And sixteen, and fifteen, and -”
“And we make a big deal of it every year.” Luc pointed out.
“Definitely growing up,” Rob said, grabbing my hand, yoghurt spoon and all, “Check out this rock…”
I flinched as attention was drawn to my ring and snatched my hand away.
Chris didn’t seem to notice my not-so-thrilled reaction, put his arm round my shoulders and whispered, “Looks perfect,” into my ear.
I shivered and I wasn’t sure if it was because of his breath against my ear, his contented words or something else entirely.
“I hear something,” Rob cocked his head on one side, “Oh wait that’s… is that bells?”
“Rob.” I said, my stomach churning.
“It is,” He pulled a mock shocked face, “Wedding bells -”
“Robin!” Roxy leapt to my defence, “Don’t be ridiculous you moron -”
“Jesus, Weasley, I was only kidding,” Rob looked a little taken aback by her screech, “Ren knows I’m only joking, don’t you Ren? And Chris knows my views on the matter…”
Chris threw a quick punch to Rob’s ribs, to which he theatrically recoiled into Luc, resulting in another pub and a quick scuffle between the three of them. The usual, really.
Meanwhile, Roxy raised her eyebrows at me and nodded towards the dungeons, where we had our first lesson of the day, and we made our way across the hall.
“Don’t let it get to you,” Roxy muttered, as we were out of hearing range, “He wasn’t to know. I mean, think about it as you would any other day. You’d have just laughed, right?”
“Any other day the idea of weddings didn’t make me want to vomit.” I muttered back. “Hell, any other day I hadn’t given a second thought to my bloody wedding day, let alone been stressed that I wasn’t destined to marry my current, seventeen-year-old boyfriend…”
“This is definitely one of the weirdest situations possible,” Roxy agreed, “’Sight’ or no sight. Not normal.”
“Tell me about it,” We reached the dungeons and made our ways to our separate seats. Me beside the empty seat belonging to Chris, Roxy’s besides her cousin Lily.
I blinked as Roxy took her seat next to her cousin, the flash of auburn hair was briefly vividly familiar…
“You ok?” Chris arrived, swinging his bag onto the desk and blocking my view.
I blinked again. Of course it was familiar. Lily Potter was in at least half my lessons. What a weird reaction. Definitely lost a lot more sleep than I realised.
“M-me? I’m fine,” I replied, breezily – stutter aside. I arranged my books into a stack and laid out my quill and parchment neatly. Perfectly normal behaviour…
It was a practical lesson.
Chris knew me too well. Well enough to look concerned by my obsessive arranging.
“You’re not feeling sick again?”
“Sick?” I echoed, dumbly.
“Yeah. Last night at dinner you were a little quiet… I thought it was because of Rob and Luc getting the whole school to sing Happy Birthday to you but you were kind of quiet before that… “
“Oh. Yeah. I suppose I was feeling a little sick. And I didn’t sleep well last night.” I said. All the truth. I had been feeling nauseous last night, only it hadn’t been because of anything I’d eaten or from receiving the attention of the whole school.
“Sucks. On your birthday.”
“I’m ok now.” I said, cheerfully.
Chris was still looking closely at me, “So Rob didn’t freak you out with the wedding stuff?” He lowered his voice.
I felt the need to swallow, as if something were stuck in my throat. But I couldn’t, because then I’d look uncomfortable. And my lips felt dry, but I couldn’t lick them, for the same reason.
“No,” I assured him, essentially lying through my teeth, “Don’t be stupid. Just Rob being Rob. I was just worried it might freak you out,”
I wondered for a second how Chris, in my position, would have acted with the knowledge I had. Would he have reacted better than me? Would he have been more freaked out? My ‘ability’ definitely got to him more than it got to me, so maybe he would have been worse.
But he probably wouldn’t have been even remotely thinking of marriage. Therefore, would never have seen it.
Chris grinned in a relieved way, “Oh good. Nah, I’ve learnt to filter out Rob’s useless comments over the years. He was against me getting you the ring from the start, I’ve heard every kind of marriage joke under the sun in the past few weeks, I think. But I… I don’t know. I just didn’t think about that. When I saw it. I just thought of you.”
We were both looking down at the delicate ring on my finger, the diamonds catching the eerie dungeon light and the pearls shining a misty green, as I twisted it around and around my finger.
He ‘didn’t think about that’. Wasn’t thinking about marriage. But he saw a ring and thought of me. Didn’t that mean…
I shook my head to stop myself going there. I couldn’t think about this stuff anymore.
Chris covered my hand with his own to stop me agitatedly twisting the ring, and returned it to it’s correct position. I wondered if he could feel my hand shaking.
He squeezed my hand and I automatically looked up, blue eyes meeting blue eyes. His still showed that little bit of worry. It made me want to tell him why I was acting so shifty. I always told him. Always told him everything. Maybe I should…
“Sure you’re ok?” He asked, one more time.
“Sure.” I shouldn’t tell him, “Of course. I’m fine.”
“I’ve just thought of another thing,” I said to Roxy. We were sprawled on my bed on our stomachs flicking through a Witch Weekly magazine. Although I’d agreed to go along with the ‘forget it’ plan, I couldn’t pretend that I was distracted by Tessie Tulips Transforming Tint nail polish any more.
Roxy sighed, knowing exactly what I was talking about at once, “What?”
“How do I even know it was me I was seeing?” I said, gaining excitement, “I never actually saw me either. It was like seeing it from the bride’s point of view. It could have been anyone -”
“You said you saw me, Harrie and Chelsea as bridesmaids.”
“Yeah but -” I tried to argue, nonetheless.
“Ren. You know as well as I do that the only wedding I’ll willingly agree to be a bridesmaid for is yours.”
It was odd to experience such a mix of responses to that statement. For one thing, it was touching that Rox was planning to forgo her strict No Dress policy for me, for another it was frankly hilarious to imagine her as a cheery bridesmaid, and for another it made my stomach drop to realise that she was right.
“You have like a million cousins…” I was still trying in vain to make a feeble argument.
“What, so Harrie and Chelsea are just going to gate-crash a Weasley wedding? Oh, and your Dad’s going to give my cousin away, is he? Look, you know I love your Dad but I’m pretty sure he’s never met my family -”
“Ok, ok,” I sighed, “You’re right.”
“Of course I am,” She shrugged, immodestly, “And you’ve just broken two of the fundamental rules of the ‘forget it’ plan.”
“What rules?” I humoured her wearily.
“Don’t talk about it and don’t think about it.”
“Ok, ok.” I said, turning back to an article entitled ‘What sort of magical hair remover suits you?’. Thrilling. Really.
It took approximately ten seconds for Roxy to lose patience and rip the magazine from my hands.
“You’re still thinking about it aren’t you?”
“Little bit, yeah.”
“I wasn’t talking about it!”
“You weren’t forgetting it either!” Roxy jumped up, discarded the magazine and agitatedly started doing some sort of complicated leg stretches. I took it, as I always did when she started doing spontaneous and unnecessary exercise, that it meant she was antsy.
“Rox, I can’t look at my boyfriend without wondering what the hell splits us up! Of course I can’t forget it…”
“So you’re accepting it now.”
“You’re accepting that something splits you up.”
“What? No! It might not, I mean -”
“You just said -”
“I don’t know what I think.” I rolled over and covered my face with my hands. “Maybe I can change it. I want to think I can change it.”
“Because you want to marry Chris or because you don’t like your future being planned out for you?”
I groaned at her shrewdness, “I don’t know.”
“Put it this way,” Roxy said, “How would you have felt if you’d seen yourself marrying Chris instead?”
Sometimes it's useful to have a perceptive best mate.
Sometimes it fucking sucks.
A.N. Hey! Thanks so much for the support for this story, even in the first chapter! I was very pleasantly surprised. Now I hope this isn't a disappointment, it's not too action-packed after throwing you in at the deep end with the first chapter but it gets better! Promise!
Please let me know what you think... do Renee and Chris make you too sick? Being overdramatic? I can understand if you think that but the whole assumption about getting married even when you're that young... I've seen it happen! And to be fair to them it wasn't really a conscious expectation until they had to face it!
Thanks for reading, please review, or Roxy will karate chop you and Chris will cry.