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Chapter 16: Self-Inflicted Comas, Flying Boogers and ‘The Attic Guy’
My eyes widened. My jaw dropped. My breath left me in a whoosh of air.
Basically, I was shocked.
That was nothing on Ella and Alex, though. They both gasped loudly and dramatically, and Ella went as far as to fall off the bed.
“How did you know?” I whispered, immediately regretting it as Sarah smirked wider.
Why am I such an idiot? Clearly, Merlin has conveniently forgotten to give me a brain when he gave me the ability to look into the future. Now that I can’t See anymore, I am left with no brain and no Seer powers.
Ergo, I have become a pathetic excuse of a human being. Joyous.
“I heard you talking to that Noah bint.” Sarah said, scrutinizing her nails with a pleased smirk etched onto her face as Ella snarled at her.
My jaw locked. “What, so you’ve been stalking me or something?”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself, Jones. I just happened to be in the general vicinity while you were sniveling all your little problems to her. You know, you’re not exactly very discreet.”
I. Am. An. Imbecile.
My jaw locked again. “Get out of here.”
“Gladly.” She sneered. “Oh, and Jones?” She turned to me and shot me a sickly sweet smile. “You do everything in your power to keep me and James together, otherwise I’m going to tell the whole school about your lovely powers…not to mention all of your other secrets.”
“Get out.” I snarled, standing up and pointing to the door. “Now.”
Shooting us another look, she stepped out and slammed the door behind her. I turned to my friends with a wary expression, cringing slightly as I thought of the bombardment of questions that I was about to receive.
“Was what she said true?” Ella finally asked in a low voice. Closing my eyes and biting my lip slightly, I nodded.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Alex asked after a short silence.
I took a deep breath and looked down at the floor. “I thought you guys might think I’m a freak.” I mumbled.
“We already think you’re a freak, love.” Alex said in an amused voice, and my head snapped up, my eyes surprised. “Having Seer powers isn’t going to make that any different.” She continued.
“So…you don’t care that I can see the future?” I asked, hardly daring to believe it. From the corner of my eye, I saw that Dom was beaming.
“Of course we care.” Ella rolled her eyes. “I mean, hello, my best friend is a Seer! I’m not going to not care. But…no, in that sense, we don’t care at all.”
I breathed out, dazed. “I can’t believe it.” I said in a shocked voice. “After all of those years of hiding it…you guys don’t care.”
“We’ll love you no matter what.” Ella smiled at me.
The group hug that ensued could possibly be known as the greatest group hug in history. Why? Because they don’t care. Who bloody gives a flying fuck about what the rest of the school thinks? The only people whose opinions matter are the three girls sitting in this room right here…oh, and the four boys that occupy the same room on the other side of the tower.
But they don’t care.
Maybe James wouldn’t have cared, either. Maybe…
Stop it. Stop it, Artemis. You made your mistake. That’s it now. You can’t do anything else.
Plus, the prospect of being known as ‘Artemis Jones: Local Seer’ isn’t really that appealing to me. Immediately, my brain went into overdrive, constructing a scene in which a long, snaking line wound around the whole school, standing in front of a little tent that was labeled: ‘Come and See Your Future with Missy Jones!’. And then I would be sitting inside, my face alight with a creepy green glow as I gazed into a crystal ball. Naturally, my outfit would rival that of Professor Trelawney.
I need to stop thinking. Like, now.
“How often do you see visions?” Ella asked eagerly after we were done with the group hug extravaganza, her eyes alight.
I smiled. “It depends. I don’t see them anymore. I must have lost them for a bit.” I added, shrugging at their surprised looks.
I acted like I didn’t care. But I do. So much. I need my visions; otherwise I’m not Artemis Selene Jones. I’m just…no one. I’m not me without my visions. They’re what make me, me.
“I don’t know why.” I said. “It feels weird, though. Not like myself.”
There was a short silence.
“What was the last vision you saw?” Dom asked tentatively.
My smile faltered. “Me and James.”
They gaped at me.
“You were supposed to end up together, weren’t you?” Alex finally asked.
I nodded heavily. “Yeah, we were.”
“Why’d you change that?” Ella asked, her expression despairing.
I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I said, my breath hitching. “I thought I didn’t want to be with him. But, seriously…after a little while, it was fear more than anything else. I started to fall in love with him, and that really scared me.” I looked down at my hands, which were twisting uneasily in my lap. “No one’s ever told me they loved me. I’ve never been in love before. Hell, I don’t even know what love is. Ever since I was a little girl, my whole life’s been just…money. That’s all anyone ever cared about. I grew up without love. It was something new to me, and it scared me so much.”
“You haven’t lived without love, though. Love doesn’t always happen between a guy and a girl.” Alex said, shaking her head. “I mean…you know what I mean.” She added hastily at our expressions. “I meant, like, family. We love each other. Not like that, obviously.”
“That’s the thing. I didn’t realize that until like, yesterday.” I laughed. “I didn’t get that you guys – all of you guys – actually loved me.”
“What made you finally realize?” Dom asked.
“Jason.” I said, an underlying tone of surprise in my voice.
“Jason?” Ella echoed, her brow furrowing.
“Yeah.” I nodded. “He noticed the change in me. He noticed that my ‘aura’ – that’s what he called it – was gone, that I wasn’t so sure about myself anymore. I didn’t think anyone cared enough to notice.”
“Of course we do.” Alex whispered. “We love you, Artemis. All of us.”
“Now I know.” I smiled against the tears in my eyes. “He told me that he was there for me.”
I started crying for real this time, except they were tears of happiness. “He cares. Someone’s there for me.”
“We’re all here for you.” Dom promised, hugging me.
“Thank you.” I whispered. “Thank you so much.”
They don’t even understand exactly how much that means to me. I’m not alone. I’m not alone.
I have someone here for me.
Everything will be okay. I just know it.
“Shut up.” I hissed, pulling Fred down next to me before he started a huge scene. I shot an innocent smile at the first year who was gazing warily at us, and with a frightened squeak, he scurried away like I was the plague.
I need to work on my innocent smiles. Clearly, they are not the slightest bit innocent.
“You’re kidding.” Jason went on. I shrugged.
“That’s what she told us.”
“She called Dom a whore, told Alex that her boyfriend was just using her, sneered at the two of you, and you’re just going to let her get away with it?” Al asked incredulously.
I had decided not to tell the guys about my little ‘Seer’ dilemma just yet. I figured with everything else going on, this added problem would just cause drama overload and they would implode from the extremely high levels of issues that we have.
It’s a known fact. Drama = unhealthy. We’re all going to die early.
I sighed. “There’s nothing else we can do.”
Much disbelieving gaping ensued.
“What do you mean, ‘there’s nothing else we can do’?” Scorpius asked. “Tell James! You’re not just going to sit there and let her be a bitch! I mean, what’s she going to do about it, tell the whole school that Ella’s immature or something?”
I sighed again. “She knows something else. Something big.”
I locked eyes with Noah for a second, and hers widened when I gave her a tight grimace. Al’s brows furrowed at our exchange.
“You’re not telling us something.” He said abruptly, looking suspiciously between the girls. “There’s something going on that you’re hiding from us.”
I exchanged glances with them, then looked at Al again. “Yes, there is.” I told him truthfully.
“Well then, why can’t you tell us?” Jason asked, glaring slightly.
“Honestly, Jay…” Ella sighed, biting her lip. “It’s not our secret to tell.”
“Then whose is it?” Rose asked, looking frustrated that she was the only girl who didn’t know about this huge ‘secret’.
“It’s mine.” I spoke up, and all of their eyes swiveled around to me. “And I’m not ready to tell you just yet.”
“Please don’t tell me you’re also pregnant, because I don’t think that I can handle another hormone-ridden teenage girl.” Fred begged. Dom scowled and shot him the finger, and he smirked at her.
“Now, now, Dominique, not in front of baby.” He wagged his finger at her, and her scowl deepened.
“Fuck you, Fred.” She growled.
“I know you want to, love, but I don’t think it’s really that good for you in such a state." He shrugged, and Dom’s eye twitched.
“Fred, you’re the largest screwup to ever walk this planet.” Rose informed him as we all backed away slowly from Dom, who was advancing on a very scared-looking Fred.
“Just kidding?” He squeaked, his eyes large.
“Everyone’s staring at me.” Dom whimpered, glancing edgily around the Great Hall.
“No one’s staring at you.” James soothed, patting her hair a bit. She glared at him briefly.
“Everyone. Is. Staring. At. Me.” She growled in an angry voice.
“Nikki, no one –”
“Drop it, James.” Rose advised him. “You should see what she did to Freddie when he patronized her.”
Fred winced and grimaced as Dom shot him an innocent smile. “I’m really sorry about those flying boogers, Freddie.” She said sweetly.
“It’s okay.” He smiled weakly at her. “They didn’t attack me too much. Really, they were actually rather tame.”
I decided not to comment on the numerous bruises and scratches that were currently decorating him from head to foot.
James chanced a glance at Fred, winced, then quickly looked away, clearing his throat a little. “Erm, Dom, I’m really sorry about Sarah and all –”
“Oh, don’t be!” Dom cut off in a loud, fake cheerful voice. “I absolutely love her! I don’t mind the little problem she caused! It’s really okay! Heylooktreacletart.” She took a large chunk, stuffed it in her mouth, and then shot James a treacle-filled smile.
Maybe if I bang my head on this table enough, I’ll just die.
“Artemis, what are you doing?” Jason asked in a tone similar to what one would use on a small child.
“Self-inflicted coma.” I muttered against the wood of the table. “Just wake me up when this is all over.”
“Is that actually possible?” Scorpius mused out loud, and Rose shot him a look that clearly read: ‘Really? REALLY?!’
“No, it’s not.” I smiled tightly at him.
“Hey, guys!” Alex said breezily as she slid into the seat next to me. A thoroughly disgruntled Matt Connery (great to see you, too) slid in next to her, shooting us a brief, fake smile before glaring moodily at the side of Alex’s face.
“Hey, Lex.” I smiled tiredly at her, and she gave me a quick, one-armed squeeze.
“Hey!” Fred grinned at her. “You came!”
“Yes, I came.” Alex bestowed a small smile upon Fred (the resulting beam could not have been any brighter), and Matt’s lips tightened.
“I thought you hated him.” Matt snapped at Alex, completely ignoring the rest of us.
Die, Connery. Go dig a hole and die in it.
“We’re trying to be friends.” Alex said through a smile, not looking at Matt.
“Sure. Let me know how that works out.” Matt got up and threw his bag over his shoulder. “I’ll be in my Common Room if you ever decide that you don’t want to cheat on me.”
“Honestly, Matt.” Alex put a hand on his arm and pulled him down next to her again. A round of muttered ‘damnits’ echoed around the table. “I’m not going to cheat on you with every guy friend that I have. Keep a little faith, will you?”
“Or you could just break up with each other.” Al said eagerly, looking at them. “Breaking up sounds like a dandy idea, don’t you think, Artemis?”
I glared at him for putting me on the spot. “It sounds absolutely dandy, Albus.”
“See, even Artemis agrees.” Al said in triumph.
“Shut up, Albus.” Alex said calmly, reaching over to grab a roll of bread. He scowled.
A loud, awkward silence ensued, during which Matt continued to heave exasperated sighs, Alex went on eating her roll like nothing out of the ordinary was happening, Dom started stuffing her face full of food, Fred kept darting glances at Alex, Al stared at Noah like the little stalker he is, and…
Okay, wow. You probably don’t care what we’re all doing. Even I don’t care what we’re doing right now.
Basically, this is awkward and I hate it.
I cleared my throat uncomfortably. “So…” I started. All eyes swiveled around to stare at me, and I fidgeted nervously, not enjoying the undivided attention.
Think of something to say, Artemis! Quick, come up with something.
“Er…Atticus Finch is a beast and I might possibly be in love with him.” I got out in a rush, desperately wishing that I hadn’t even opened my mouth in the first place.
…wait, what did I just say?
“Who the fuck is Atticus Finch?” Fred asked, staring at me as though I had gone insane.
“He’s old. And dead.” I blurted, and around the table, jaws dropped. I banged my head on the table with a groan. “I wasn’t supposed to say that.” I said in a muffled voice.
“You’re in love with an old, dead person?” Dom asked in a high voice.
“No!” I groaned into the table. “Well, yes, but he’s not even real.”
“You’re in love with an old, dead, fake person?” Jason sounded appalled beyond belief.
I banged my head on the table some more. “He’s a character in a book, you guys.” I said between thumps. “I didn’t mean that literally. He’s just a really awesome character in a book – oh my god, someone say something before I make an even bigger fool of myself!”
“Er…moving on from Missy’s old person book crush…” Ella said in an uncomfortable voice. I shot her the finger, still slumped against the table. “James, when’s Quidditch practice?”
“LET’S GO BACK TO TALKING ABOUT THE ATTIC GUY!” Scorpius yelled out hurriedly, just as James opened his mouth.
“It’s Atticus Finch, you turd.” I said.
“Whatever.” Scorpius said. “I’m not the one who’s in love with a fictional character.”
“Yeah, but he’s a beastly fictional character, so it’s all good.” I shot back, sticking my tongue out.
“I worry about you, Artemis.” Alex said promptly.
“I would, too.” I responded, shooting her a bright smile.
“SIX O’CLOCK, SHARP!” James yelled, before we could divert the conversation any longer. “Be there.”
“Yay.” I muttered in a monotonous voice. “Thanks heaps, Ells.”
“With pleasure, attic-lover.” She stuck her tongue out at me.
“His name is Atticus Finch!”
“Twenty laps, you guys!” James said in a loud voice, and with a shrill whistle and lots of groans, we were off.
“Kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me, kill me.” Ella muttered in between puffs of breath. “Kill me, Artemis.”
“No way.” I huffed back. “My Karma record’s screwed already; I don’t want to make it any worse.”
“I hate you.” She groaned. “I hope you go to hell.”
“If I recall,” I said waspishly. “It was you who reminded him about Quidditch practice in the first place.”
“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t have even had to if you hadn’t embarrassed yourself!” Ella argued.
I pouted. “If you guys were normal people, we probably could have had a lovely book discussion.”
Ella shot me a disbelieving expression. “Okay, one: only nerds have ‘lovely book discussions’. Two: none of us actually read muggle books anyway, and three: I would not be talking about normal if I were you, Artemis.”
“Yeah?” I retaliated. “Well, your mom.”
I should be named the new master of comebacks.
“Good one.” Ella said monotonously.
“I do try.”
“LADIES, SPEED IT UP! THIS IS NOT TIME TO CHAT, YOU NEED TO RUN, RUN, RUN!” James screamed at us.
“FUCK YOU, JAMES POTTER!” Ella screeched, speeding up nonetheless.
“I’m sure Jason would be thrilled if you did.” James grinned, jogging backwards for a brief moment to catch Ella’s scowl before smirking and sprinting on ahead of us.
“Show off.” I muttered, watching as his powerful legs pushed him forward like a cheetah.
I bet I look like a cow. A running cow.
Cows don’t even run. That’s how pathetic I am.
“You’re the one who’s in love with the freak.” Ella muttered.
“Brain damage, Ella.” I said in a resigned voice. “It’s all because of the brain damage.”
“COME ON! YOU’VE STILL GOT TWELVE LAPS TO GO!”
“DIE NOW, JAMES!” Jason yelled hoarsely.
After our grueling run, we collapsed in a heap in the middle of the Quidditch pitch, all panting heavily to catch our breaths. James stood over us, tapping his foot impatiently, a manic gleam in his eye.
I don’t like that manic gleam. It usually means…
“Let’s hurry it up folks, we’ve got a long practice ahead of us!” He announced cheerfully.
Do me a favor, will you? Take a knife and drive it straight through my heart. Yes, please.
“This is all my fault.” I groaned, turning over onto my stomach so that I could push myself off the ground. Hugo was literally wheezing beside me, his face slowly turning from blue to red to green…
Wow. He’s such a colorful person.
“Go on without me, Artemis.” He rasped, clutching his heart and throwing his other hand up towards the sky. “Just leave me here to rot.”
“No, Hugo!” I protested, dropping to my knees without him. “We can’t go on without you!”
“I can’t – take it anymore.” He gasped. “You’ll have to – go without me, Artemis…”
“Hugo!” I yelled desperately, taking his hand and clutching it with my own. “No, please! Fight, Hugo! Fight for me!”
“It’s the end. Just know that I love you.” He puffed, then taking a long, wheezing breath, he dropped his head back onto the ground and his hand went limp in mine.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” I cried melodramatically, throwing my face to the sky. “Why him? Why?!” I then proceeded to fling my body over Hugo and sob uncontrollably into his chest.
“Are you done yet?” James asked in a dry voice as he stood over us with an unimpressed eyebrow cocked over his eye. Everyone else around us was in hysterics, Scorpius holding his stomach as he groaned in between every laugh.
“Lighten up, Jimbo.” Hugo grinned, leaping up and pulling me to my feet as well. “We were just having a bit of fun.”
“This is practice, Hugo.” James said in a stern voice. “It’s torture. There is no fun involved.”
“Yes, sir, Hitler, sir!” Hugo snapped to attention, smirking as James shot him a dark glower.
“That is not amusing, Hugo.” He gritted out.
“Actually, it was pretty damn funny.” I blurted out without thinking. I clapped my hand over my mouth, eyes wide, as James’ glare turned to me.
“Sorry.” I whimpered weakly, cringing away from the ice in his gaze. I quickly looked towards the grass so he wouldn’t see the tears that had formed in my eyes.
His glare literally hurts. Really, it’s like physical pain.
A strong arm came around my shoulder, and I noticed that Al had gotten up and was now gazing steadily at James, a warning in his eyes. James’ jaw locked once, then he looked away.
“Alright, in the air!” He barked, grabbing our broomsticks and throwing them to us one by one. I watched as Jason, Ella, Hugo, Scorpius, and Al all shot up into the sky, and I stepped forward so that James could throw me my broom.
But he walked toward me, my broomstick clutched tightly in his hand and a dark, smoldering look in his eyes as he gazed at me, finally stopping about a foot away. I couldn’t breathe as his eyes burned into mine, intense and strong. They were a deep, dark ocher now, melting and fiery as they flamed right through my body, like they could see right to my very core.
He just stood there and looked at me. That’s it. But it left me completely breathless.
Time stopped. Everything stopped. All I saw was James. James’ eyes, his soul gazing into mine.
I wondered if he could read my mind with that look.
James, can you hear me? I’m sorry. I love you.
“Here.” He said, his voice rough, and he held the broom out to me. Eyes wide, voice mute, I took it silently, then watched, bewildered as he sprung up into the air without a backwards glance.
What. Was. That.
I whirled around, wincing slightly at the pain associated with the motion, and looked on in surprise as Rose, Alex and Fred came running up to me, eyes wide and faces scared. Immediately, dread spread through me, abrupt and icy cold.
“What?” I asked, looking between them. “What’s wrong?”
“Dom –” Rose panted, clutching her side. I heard the rest of the team turn around at the name.
Ice trickled through my veins. Dom. Of course.
“What happened to Nikki, Rose?” James asked urgently, stepping forward. I just stared, mouth open.
“I don’t know,” Rose shook her head helplessly. “She’s in the hospital wing – I don’t –”
I never got to hear the rest of her sentence. At the words ‘hospital wing’, I looked at James, he looked at me, and we both took off sprinting through the hallways.
“Oh my gods, oh my gods, oh my gods.” I huffed in a hysterical voice as I sprinted, fighting against tears. “What happened to her? What if –”
“Take a deep breath.” James instructed, and I swallowed thickly and nodded, forcing myself to take a shaky breath. “Calm down. She’s fine.”
I shot him a look. “Clearly, she’s not, since she’s in the hospital –”
A tick in James’ jaw jumped. “She’s fine.” He insisted, glaring ahead of him as he ran.
He’s trying to reassure himself. But she’s fine. I’m just blowing this out of proportion.
“This way.” He plucked at my sleeve and pulled me sideways through a hallway pretending to be a tapestry, and for a moment the only sound in my ears was the thumping of my heart, the pounding of our feet, and our labored breathing as we ran down the hallway.
She has to be okay. She needs to be okay.
We skidded to an almost stop in front of the hospital doors, and James pushed them open and barreled right through, me behind him, panting heavily.
“Where is she?” He demanded of Madame Pomphery, who managed to look unsurprised at our state. She pointed to one of the beds, and with a short nod of thanks, he speedwalked over there (Rule Number 436: No Running in the Hospital Wing), me trailing after him.
Usually he would have taken my hand and let me walk next to him, just so that he could comfort me.
But it’s not like that anymore. Why do I keep expecting it to be? He doesn’t love me anymore. I need to bloody accept that already!
I pulled the curtains aside and hurried to Dom’s bed. She was sitting up, her face pale.
“Dom, are you okay?” I asked urgently, touching her forehead and running my hand through her hair quickly. “What happened? Where does it hurt?”
But Dom just looked at me, her eyes conveying a million words. Suddenly, I felt James’ touch on my shoulder, and I quick burst of electricity shot through me. I ignored it, turning to him with curiosity.
“What?” I asked him. But he wasn’t looking at me, his directed at something right in front of him. I followed his gaze, and saw –
Oh my god. My jaw dropped as I took him in, his blue eyes remorseful, huge bags of worry etched underneath them.
This can’t be real.
“Artemis,” He said, looking at me. I stared, unable to believe it. But it’s true. He’s here.
Apollo is back.
DUN. DUN. DUNNNNNNNNNNNN.
yeah, so...apparently, i have a new thing for cliffhangers. i guess i just can't get enough of them! heh. heh heh.
*shields face behind hands* please don't eat me!
who's shocked right now?! a lot happened in this chapter. phew. i'm like, tired just thinking about how much you guys will have to digest. maybe i shouldn't make them so drama-packed...
so, what do you think will happen next? any thoughts on how easily her friends accepted artemis (did anyone see that coming)? who's also in love with atticus finch?! (MEEEE :D)
favorite quotes, anything!
LET ME KNOW IN A REVIEWWW XD
thank you guys sososo much for those reviews. totally MAKE MY LIFEE.
so, here's a couple words of wisdom from yours truly:
never trust the people at haircutting salons.
seriously. you'll tell them that you dont want bangs, and they'll be like, sure hun, and then tell you that they're going to cut off your 'bangs' right under your chin. and then, before you know it - SNIP - they've gone psycho with the scissors and cut it off right under your nose.
my face looked a lot like this: O_O
and now i have to constantly keep flicking my head to the side to get the stupid hair out of my face and i look like i've developed a twitch of some sort.
urgh. i'm still annoyed. *head twitch* GAH HAIR GET OUT OF MY EYESSS!
this is torture. i hope that lady gets a super karma-kicking.
anywhoo, lemme know what you think and please don't eat my face off for this cliffy (puppy dog look)
love you tonnns <3