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Chapter 25: Of almost moments and big reveals (The Banquet Part 1)
When Toni had sat Hayley down on a chair in their dormitory, and announced in a very dangerous voice that Hayley was getting a haircut, Hayley’s initial reaction was apprehension, bordering on fear. Toni reassured her, which, Hayley had to admit, would have been more reassuring if Toni hadn’t been waving a pair of scissors around her head in a dangerous fashion whilst she was saying it.
“I’ve been cutting Fred’s hair for months, as well as James’ and even Nicky when I found out,” she insisted, managing not to wince when she said Nicky’s name. It was a sign of how far they had come that they could say her name in conversation, though they still didn’t discuss her. “Hell, I’ve been cutting my own hair since I was about seven. And well I’ve gotten good at it.”
“If you say so,” Hayley muttered apprehensively, attempting to stand only for Toni to roughly shove her back into the chair. “But I don’t see why I need a haircut, I haven’t needed one in over a year and it’s not exactly too long.”
Toni ignored her protests and flipped Hayley’s hair over her shoulders, examining it carefully. It was fairly curly without being out of control and reached the small of her back. Toni nodded appreciatively, and then put a relaxing hand on Hayley’s arm as she squirmed. Hayley uttered one final word of protest which Toni ignored before she made the first snip, lopping off a strand of raven hair, which finally silenced Hayley.
“The banquet is next week,” Toni informed Hayley as she snipped at her hair. “You need to look your best for that now don’t you? And before you argue, and I know you’re going to, your hair is just too long missy, you’re starting to look like a hippy. Now stop complaining and let me work my magic.”
Hayley kept her mouth shut, not wanting to piss off the person who now held the fate of her hair in their hands. She didn’t comment, and kept her eyes tightly shut as Toni continued to cut her way through Hayley’s hair, muttering a spell here and there and occasionally talking to herself before taking a slightly more adventurous route.
“Now Hayley,” Toni said eventually, having ignored her opinion the entire way through. “That is as long as I’m willing to leave it. The only question for you is do you want me to go shorter? I’ve had plenty of practice with short hair and I’m certain you’d suit a bob or a pixie. Oooh and what about different colours? I can work wonders with blonde or blue dye.”
Hayley winced at that but opened her eyes nevertheless, taking in what Toni had done. Her hair was just longer than her shoulders, slightly curlier than usual and it suited her perfectly. Hayley hadn’t had her hair this short in a long time but it was still longer than Toni’s and a lot of girls she knew. Her fringe was more controlled and slightly blunter but it was still a side fringe that swept across her forehead. Overall, Hayley was pleased with the result and beamed at Toni.
“It looks brilliant Toni but I couldn’t imagine going any shorter, this feels short, even though it’s not at all. And I can’t even think about having my hair any other colour, it’s who I am.”
“I figured you’d say that,” Toni smiled but there was a hint of disappointment in her voice. “You are going to blow James’ socks off; he’s not going to be able to resist you, especially when I do your hair for the Banquet.”
“What do you mean?” Hayley frowned. “Why would James need to resist me?”
“Honey, he’s obviously in love with you,” Toni sighed. “Trust me, he won’t be able to contain himself when he sees you all dressed up at the Banquet. You two will finally fall for each other, and I can go back to match-making random strangers as opposed to my best friends.”
“Toni,” Hayley said firmly. “James is definitely not in love with me, he’s my best friend. We’re like brother and sister for crying out loud. And we’re actually related remember?”
“Yeah whatever, you share a fairly distant relative, what Wizarding families don’t?” Toni cried exasperatedly. Your grand-father Sirius’ parents were second cousins, it happens all the time, especially in the Wizarding world. It wouldn’t be unusual or wrong in any way.”
“Well, it would to me!” Hayley snapped in reply, and Toni sensed it was time to drop the argument.
A few days before the Banquet, James received a letter from his parents, saying that they were repealing their ban on James and Hayley seeing each other over the holidays. James was overjoyed and Hayley joined in the celebrations when she heard. And yet she was reluctant, Toni’s words still playing in her mind. Was it possible James cared about her more than he was letting on? No, he couldn’t. It was stupid for her to even consider it. And even if he did, she’d never consider him that way. She never had and it was horrible to even begin to think that way. Hayley reassured herself that nothing could ever happen between the two of them, she’d never let it. What they had now was perfect. Why did it need to change?
“You look amazing; I never knew short hair suited you!”
That was what James had said after she had first unveiled Toni’s handiwork to him a week earlier. He had been teasing of course, he knew her hair wasn’t short and proceeded to appraise Toni, but there had been something else in his eyes, something she hadn’t been able to pin. Now, as she sat in Toni’s chair whilst she perfected her hair and makeup, Hayley couldn’t help but wonder how James would react. Generally, Hayley didn’t dress up, only for special occasions but then this, she supposed, was as special as it got. She was wearing her blue dress again, although Toni criticised her lack of spontaneity, but it was much lighter than she’d ever worn it, so it matched her electric blue eyes. It was also quite short, barely reaching her knees and quite low cut. Hayley wasn’t sure why she wanted such a daring dress, she was only going with James after all, but she still wanted to make the right impression. She was wearing very little makeup, again despite Toni’s protests, just a touch of lip-gloss and mascara, nothing else.
“There, finished,” Toni smiled, as Hayley admired her hair. It was essentially gun-barrel straight, but it looked stylish, curling away at the ends. Hayley grinned at herself and then hugged Toni, who was wearing a simple green dress that matched her eyes and she had her hair up, with more makeup than Hayley, although she too made it work.
“Thanks Toni, it looks amazing,” she said. “Where’s Fred? I thought you two were meeting beforehand?”
“He’s not going,” Toni replied darkly. “He doesn’t want to do anything anymore Hayls, it’s like he’s not himself anymore. We argued earlier. I told him I didn’t want him to keep punishing himself for what happened, especially when the rest of us are starting to move on with our lives. I told him I wanted my boyfriend back, because I love him. But then he said that he was my boyfriend and that this is who he was now, and if I didn’t like it, we might as well break up.”
Hayley’s jaw dropped as Toni had tears in her eyes. She hugged her friend tightly and soothed her as she fought hard against the tears that threatened to ruin her makeup.
“I love him,” Toni continued. “And I want him back, but I don’t know how much longer I can do this, especially with him being so distant, so horrible. I just want my Fred back, Hayley. But tonight at least, I’m going to put on a brave face and go to the banquet with Josh, if only because neither of us have anyone else to go with. I’m going to get wankered, have a good time and spend one evening with friends, without having to worry about boys or any shit like that. Now go, James Potter awaits you. The idiot probably needs help getting out of bed or doing up his tie or some shit like that.”
Hayley laughed and headed down to the common room. It was full of budding young couples, fiddling with each other’s ties or snogging in the corner. Some had started drinking early. Josh was waiting by the entrance to the girl’s dorms, wearing a smart suit and smiling at Hayley as she approached.
“Hey Hayls,” he greeted. “Any idea how long Toni’s gonna be?”
“Not long,” Hayley reassured him. “I take it James is in his dorm?”
“Yep, he’s still getting ready, vain arsehole,” Josh joked as Hayley patted his shoulder and clambered up the stairs, unaware of the fact that the majority of the boys in the room had looked away from their girls for far too long to examine her body, earning a lot of them slaps or angry comments. Even Josh had to appreciate how good Hayley looked, but he would never admit it to anyone, least of all her.
The trademark swearing that could be heard as Hayley approached James’ room made her smile and as she pushed open the door, James was fumbling with a bow-tie, muttering every obscenity under the sun as he tried to tie it up. Hayley laughed as he tumbled over, his black trousers and white shirt hitting the dirty dormitory floor with a thud. James looked up as he heard the crystal clear laugh and he tried to contain what was obviously a knee-jerk reaction as his jaw dropped and his eyes bulged.
“You alright down there?” Hayley teased as she helped him up.
“Fine thank you Undies,” James replied, regaining his composure as he smoothed his shirt. “You look just about acceptable tonight I suppose. It’s not humiliating to be seen in public with you.”
Hayley instantly relaxed, her hands finding James’ neck as she adjusted his tie. The words had soothed her, reminding her that James was still James and no matter what she looked like, that would never change. He clearly wasn’t after her; he was just being a boy. Then something happened that she didn’t expect. She glanced up from his tie and their eyes met. She felt something stir inside her. It was almost as if…no she couldn’t be even acknowledging how cute his face looked, that wasn’t possible. This was James for Merlin’s sake, they had never… James’ face was unbearably close to hers and Hayley found herself suddenly panicking. She was feeling things that James Sirius Potter had never made her feel before. His eyes was passionate and she realised he was grappling with the same feelings.
“You’ve been drinking,” he said. It was a statement, not a question. Hayley had had a few drinks before leaving her dorm but nothing she thought that was clouding her judgement.
“So have you,” she replied, a smile reaching her lips. James nodded but like her, he wasn’t drunk. They could blame what was about to happen on the drink but it wouldn’t be true.
“You look beautiful,” James muttered, moving in closer to her. Their foreheads met and their arms still lingered around the other’s waist. Whilst neither the position nor the proximity was anything new to them, the intimacy behind it was staggering and like nothing either of them had felt before. They moved closer still, Hayley’s resolve not to kiss him weakening by the second. Their noses touched next and then James’ hand shot up, caressing her cheek. Hayley felt herself moving closer, her brain screaming at her to stop but every other inch of her body urging her on. Their lips were now millimetres apart, she could feel his breath on her and as they moved closer still, their lips were practically touching.
“What the fuck are we doing?” Hayley whispered. “What the fuck are we doing?!” The second time it wasn’t a whisper but a cry and she moved her hands to James’ chest, shoving roughly so he toppled over onto his bed with a yelp. Hayley ran her hands through her hair, agitated as she paced around James’ room, James picking himself up and trying to retain some dignity.
“James!” she yelled. “What the bloody hell did we just do?”
“Nothing,” James replied calmly. “Nothing happened. We’re both a little bit tipsy and we both got a bit too close to each other and realised what we were doing before anything happened.”
“James!” Hayley yelled again, her intensity building. “Whatever just happened there, that was not nothing, we almost kissed. Kissed! We can’t kiss! You’re you! And I’m…”
“You’re Hayley,” James informed her. “And I don’t want to kiss you, definitely not.”
“Then why did you?” she stabbed a finger in his direction accusingly.
“I didn’t!” James replied, starting to lose his cool. “I can’t. I didn’t want to and I didn’t.”
“We can’t ever talk about this,” Hayley said hurriedly. “Ever again, okay? You’re my best friend, and it’s purely platonic and we can’t ever talk about this, because I can’t ever kiss you, you get that?”
“Of course,” James replied, this new voice of his starting to irritate her. “Never.”
“Good,” Hayley regained her composure as she pulled him over to her and roughly took his arm. “Then we have a banquet to attend.”
Hayley and James had all eyes on them as they waltzed down to the Great Hall. And yet, despite the sense of grandeur that they felt when they entered, they didn’t speak to each other. They found a seat on what would inevitably be the Gryffindor table, surrounded by cheerful gents in tuxedos and dazzling ladies in sparkly dresses. But neither of them felt much like talking. They were both replaying the scenario that had occurred in the dorm over and over again in their minds, both unsure as to what they should do next. The feelings that they had brought up in that moment were both terrifying and wonderful. Neither of them wanted it to happen again and yet it was something they couldn’t avoid. So whilst the rest of the school filed into the banquet, chatting and laughing, they sat uncharacteristically quiet. James squeezed Hayley’s hand and she shot him a look that said it all.
“Hey guys,” Toni said, beaming terrifically, all thoughts of her chat with Hayley seemingly forgotten. “This looks fantastic, doesn’t it?”
“Yep,” Hayley replied almost bluntly. “Brilliant.”
“It’s stunning,” James added in that same, monotonous tone that infuriated Hayley.
“Would you stop talking like that?” she hissed.
“Like that! Like you don’t give a shit about anything anymore!”
“I do give a shit Hayls, I give a shit about you!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that…”
At that point, James was interrupted by McGonagall who stood up and welcomed the students to the banquet, hoping they’d had a good term, etc. etc. The Hogwarts Express was leaving in the morning and the majority of students were heading home, so this was their last chance to enjoy Hogwarts for a few weeks. James and Hayley’s little argument had gone largely unnoticed and although Toni was shooting them odd looks, Josh was blissfully unaware of what had happened. As McGonagall finished her speech, somebody in the crowd cleared their throat.
“Good evening students of Hogwarts!” shouted a voice that made the blood in both Hayley and James’ bodies run cold. They exchanged a look of utter horror, all thoughts of their almost-kiss suddenly taking a back seat as a grinning Kassandra White stood up, bowing with her wand pointed like a megaphone.
“Hello there, I hope you’re all having a good evening,” Kassie continued, most of the hall deadly silent as she spoke. “I just wanted to get something off my chest that has been bugging me for a long time now, especially seeing as how I was forced to keep silent about it, until now.”
James looked at Hayley, Hayley looked at James. Both of them were thunderstruck, unable to react. James wanted nothing more in the world than for someone to shut up Kassie there and then, but his hand wouldn’t seem to operate properly.
“You see, over the summer holidays,” Kassie said. “I had sex with one James Sirius Potter.” This caused all number of murmurs, but even the teachers were too enthralled to stop her. “And it was a huge mistake, believe me, I wish I’d never done it, but I did. It led to my becoming pregnant with his child.” The murmurs now became chatter. “And what happened next was quite horrifying. You see, we agreed that I could not bear to abort the child, and James promised to support me in my endeavour. We were happy together and preparing to bring our child into the world.”
“This is quite some bullshit she’s weaving,” James muttered as Hayley nodded, horrified as she knew what was coming next.
“And then, my world came crashing down around me, as Hayley Black-Hunt made me an ultimatum. She said that unless I aborted James Potter’s baby, she would make my life a living hell, she would tell every newspaper she could find, his parents, everyone and that she would personally ensure James and I never ended up together. She even threatened to blast my baby out of my stomach. So you see, Hayley Black-Hunt has been holding me to ransom for quite some time now. But today, I stand up and I tell the truth. She will finally pay for her crimes and I can have my justice. Good night ladies and gentlemen.”
By now the whole room was in uproar as Hayley stared at Kassie, her mouth forming an ‘O’ shape. James stared at her, his world collapsing around him as the one person he cared about more than anyone else in the world sobbed, her hands finding her face.
“Hayley?” James’ tone was soft but questioning, almost begging her to prove Kassie wrong.
“I’m sorry James,” she whispered through her tears. “I did it for you.”
A/N: Yes I know I'm cruel but James and Hayley are in danger of becoming boring. Not anymore. Nothing will ever be the same again. I hope you enjoyed it :) HP