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Chapter 6: Doubt Yourself
It wasn't what you would call a beautiful day. In fact it was what most people would call a terrible day. But I was loving it. The thick silence that hung in the air. The seething grey clouds churning in the heavens. The threat of rain and thunder and lightening that made all animals and sound disappear, until it was truly calm. The calm before the storm, as it was.
Everything was still. The house, the trees, the grass in the long stretch of emptiness between me and our Quidditch Pitch. It was like a glass dome had been placed around our house and was blocking out all sound apart from the thrashing of the harsh wind against the glass. Looking around I could feel the tense anticipation of the upcoming storm pulsating through the earth below me.
Memories of the last week swarmed through me. Pain. Worry. Sorrow. Confusion. And then calm. Followed by more worry and double amounts of tests. Spells. Potions. Dad even made them test me the Muggle way. And then I was fine. I was healed. I wasn't sick any more.
It was wrong. It wasn't meant to be that way. It made bile rise to the back of my throat just thinking about it. That night I had gone to sleep and I hadn't expected to wake up. I went to sleep to die. I went to sleep so I would never wake up again. I had listened to that music. That magical music I had been given so long ago, that song that took you to an imaginary world just as it had guaranteed.
But somewhere in that song the world had turned into my death. And she had killed herself to rid me of my cancer; sacrificed herself so that I wouldn't have to die like I so plainly wanted to. And now I was here lying in the middle of our perfectly manicured grass, surrounded by forest. Alive and healthy, just as she wanted.
My music world created by Aunt Luna herself locked and unattainable, no longer letting me in.
Now I was deserted. In a body I had planned to leave. Forced to live a life filled with tests and uncertainty. With people not wanting to get to close in case I left and took half of them with me. With an overprotective mother treating me like a breakable object, refusing to let me go back to Hogwarts for fear of me getting hurt and making my cancer come back. With a brother who hated himself for not being able to protect me and a sister who hated that our parents had forgotten about her in her prime teenage years and took it out on everyone around her.
I was still alive and breathing, despite the fact I didn't want to be. I was alive and expected to be grateful for that, but I wasn't. I didn't care. I was still the same. I had endured the same experiences, plus a new one. I was still cautious about doing anything that could affect me. I still felt the pit of emptiness that had come with my illness, because it hadn't left with it. I thought exactly how I always had, but now everyone expected me to see the light, because I had lived when I was supposed to die. That's what my cancer had done to me. It had made me convince myself that there was something wrong with me because I was alive and that meant I had to be grateful; but I wasn't grateful because I was the same as always.
There was a resounding crack as the air above me split open. Miles away a bolt of golden lightening struck the forest ahead of me, illuminating the silhouettes of the trees and in seconds there was huge droplets of rain plummeting to the ground around me. Wind whipped through the forests and the storm raged around my spot in the grass.
That was what I called a beautiful day.
“Amorette LeMaine if you don't get your lazy arse out of bed this instant I will charm your freckles to spell imbecile on your forehead!”
Those were the viciously sweet, American-accented words that woke me up on that particularly bright and boisterous Sunday morning.
I threw the sheets that had somehow appeared on me off and sat up abruptly, forcing my sleep-ridden eyes open despite their strong protest at my action. The sun streamed through the window and onto my exposed covers, reflecting off the deep red fabric and into my eyes. “Sorry love, but I don't have any freckles,” I said to Dare's smirking face. “And I am not an imbecile.” I flung myself back onto my pillow after my statement and attempted to block out the light by covering my face with my palms.
“I know you're not an imbecile, Rette – look, that was a bad way of putting it,” she started, taking both my wrists with an iron-tight grasp and pulling my hands off my eyes. “It's just Longbottom's getting really impatient waiting around so he can give you your timetable, and he's bugging me and Fred about it.”
“What?!” I almost screamed, pulling myself up once again and tearing my wrists out of her hands. “Why didn't you just tell me that in the first place?”
“I had to wake you up first didn't I?” she said moodily, pulling herself up properly and watching me rummage through my suitcase in search of some clothes. “You act like we had a fantastic conversation about wiggenbush bark before I mentioned it to you!”
“Look – can't talk right now, need to be getting ready!” I retorted quickly, flinging off my robes and pulling a t-shirt on over my singlet.
“Rette, you're completely overreacting. This is Longbottom we're talking about.” she replied, hands on hips, disapproval on her delicate features.
“Well if you had the night I had yesterday you'd be acting exactly the same.” I said, looking in the large mirror beside the door. Man, I need a shower, I found myself thinking to the reflection. My hair was almost oily and I had spent half the night breaking out in sweats.
“That bad, huh?”
“Eleven detentions bad.” I looked over to her bed where she was tying up a pair of laced flats.
“That's not good,” she commented, moving to tie up her next shoe. “Can you grab James while you're going that way? Longbottom's looking for him, too.”
I stopped, hand on the handle. “Why can't you get him?” I said, trying to sound calm, but secretly hoping she'd cave in and I wouldn't have to risk a trip into the seventh-year boys dormitories.
You see, once upon a time I was an innocent girl. I had girl friends, we had girly parties and we gossiped about girly stuff. That was before I became friends with Fred Weasley and he did the most ultimate betrayal. He took me into the boys dormitories.
Let's not go into graphic details, I'll just say that it involved some very high-pitched, girly screaming from Elliot's part, a hidden family of gerbils getting exposed under a pile of dirty underwear and an extreme amount of skin being displayed by James Potter. All in all I haven't been in there since.
“I'm … meeting someone.” she said shyly, an innocent blush forming on her cheeks.
This immediately perked my interest.
I raised a carefully practised eyebrow. “Are you meeting a boy?” I asked slyly only to find the colour on her cheeks get darker.
“No, I am not meeting a boy.” she said, looking pointedly out the window as though examining a particularly fascinating bit of blue.
“Then I can only assume it must be a man.” I said, teasing. “Ooh, is it Professor Lupin? Wait! No – don't answer that. Feel no need to lie to me, Dare! Your secret is safe with me!” I opened the door and quickly left the room, vaguely hearing her yell something back at me.
In all honesty I couldn't have cared less who Dare was supposedly meeting. It was her business and I had no right to pry. I guess leaving her with those words was sort of a test for her. It was a way of seeing how much she knew or trusted me. Later on I would discover whether she had gotten herself worried that I had told everyone she was secretly seeing Professor Lupin or if she simply shrugged it off, knowing I didn't actually believe what I was saying.
Continuing down the stairs I came across Harper making her way back up. I gave her a cheerful smile, only to get a harsh glare in return. I almost froze once she had passed and wondered what I had done to deserve that.
Out in the landing I spotted Molly who was undoubtedly following her best friend.
“Hey.” I said, grabbing her arm as she tried to escape past. She yanked it out of my grasp, but stopped nonetheless. “Is there something wrong with Harper, she looked really angry?”
“Look, don't worry about it, Amorette, it's got nothing to do with you.” she hissed, turning away from me.
I recoiled from her harsh tone, but spoke up just before she left. “It does if she's going to glare at me like I've purposely done something to her.”
She stopped in the door and turned back to look at me scathingly. “What are you trying to do? Break her and step on the shards? Don't act like you don't know what's wrong with her 'Maine.”
I stood gaping at her as she shut the door in my face. It was possibly the most confusing conversation I had ever had in such a short amount of time. I felt my mouth dry a little; she had called me 'Maine. It was only Slytherin's and Ravenclaw's who called me that. Not LeMaine, never LeMaine, because the 'le' made it sound to nice and French. And really, how harsh could you sound if you called someone LeMaine?
But a Gryffindor, a Gryffindor I shared my own dorm with had called me by my last name and that meant something was terribly wrong.
Turning around and pinching the bridge of my nose, I closed my eyes and exhaled slowly, before opening them again, removing my hand and looking up to the door to the boys dormitory. I gulped. One year, three hundred and two days and approximately twenty-one and a half hours – now I was back to face the horror. I'm sure I was overreacting, but this time it felt rather calming to do so.
I took two steps forward and pushed open the door, hastily taking the stairs and trying not to draw attention to myself. A couple of sixth-years were taking the stairs down and examined me with smirks as I blushed at their gazes, I suddenly wished I was showing less leg in my denim shorts. As I passed the third-year dormitories Hugo Weasley came out with his cousin Lily, muttering something about spiders. It wasn't until I reached the very top of the stairs and got to the door labelled 'Seventh-years' that it seemed to get quieter. Taking a deep breath I pushed open the door.
What met my eyes was unimaginable. Unfathomable. Absolutely impossible: the room was clean. The trunks were closed and neat at the end of their beds. There was no scattering of random items across the floor and no stench coming from a pile of dirty underwear as there wasn't one. The only thing remotely messy was the fact that all the beds were empty and unmade and that was certainly cleaner than what ours were like.
“Can I help you?” asked a strange and unfamiliar voice. I looked to my left to see Blake Lane holding a white t-shirt out in front of him obviously seconds away from pulling it over his bare chest. I silently willed him to put it off for a few seconds.
“Uhh – yeah, I was just looking for James,” I said, looking around and noticing he was nowhere to be found. “Dare said he was in here.”
“Yeah, he's just in the shower,” he said, throwing down his t-shirt and taking a few steps forward. He looked so casual and relaxed wearing no top. His hands in the pockets of his dark jeans, leaning against one of the beds examining me with ruffled black hair and those eyes. Those gorgeous, grey eyes.
Blake Lane was different. He was strange. He was Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome, not to mention mysterious. Gorgeous in that way that mesmerised you and sexy in that way that you longed for him to kiss you in the middle of a crowded room. He was like that shadow of a man in the corner of the room. The one that's heavily cloaked and talking to nobody and somehow he draws everyone's attention without even moving. And then everyone looks at the same time and someone flicks by holding a lit candle and you catch a glimpse of his carved-by-an-angel jaw or his bright, stone-coloured eyes and you know there's something about that man in the corner of the room that makes you long for his presence and long for him to pay attention to you like you pay attention to him. But after looking away for a second and then looking back you notice his head tilted in your direction and in your imagination he grows taller and taller and he becomes far too intimidating to approach and so you leave him as he is. The man in the corner of the room that everyone wants, but no one tries to get; that man is Blake Lane.
It wasn't until I realised we'd been standing there for about a minute looking at each other – me drooling all over the thought of him and him being his casual self – that I spoke again.
“How long do you think he'll be?”
He just shrugged. “James has long showers.
“Great.” I said under my breath, so quietly he could only see my lips moving, but couldn't hear what I said.
There was another minute of silence. Where I examined my bare feet and he watched me do so.
“You look tired,” he commented. “When did you get back last night?”
“I'm not sure,” I said gingerly, looking up catching his eye then looking at a point above his left shoulder. “All the girls were asleep, though.”
He nodded understandingly. “How many detentions did you get?”
“Eleven with Swede.”
He opened his mouth to say something, but the door to the bathroom opened and interrupted him.
“Blake, you're still here,” said James in his fluffy red towel – he obviously hadn't seen me. I cringed, this already felt like a replay of last time. “I thought you would've left ages ago.”
I took this time to look away in case the the towel dropped.
“Oh – hey Rette,” said James awkwardly, directing my attention back to him. He gave a small forced smile, obviously remembering our last encounter in the dormitories.
“Hey. Um. Dare wanted me to come get you so you would go down to breakfast 'cause –” I paused, rethinking my words. “Look, Longbottom's really annoyed he's had to wait for us to come down and get our timetables.”
Blake turned around to put his t-shirt on. James' face paled a little.
“I can wait outside for you if you want,” I suggested, not exactly sure why I did.
“Sure, won't be a minute.”
And he wasn't. I barely stood outside for thirty seconds before James appeared. Clothed in jeans and a Gryffindor t-shirt I'd seen him use at Quidditch practise. His hair in a casual mess and Blake yelling something I couldn't understand at his retreating back. He laughed and started walking beside me.
“So, Quidditch try-outs in six days,” said James happily.
“Great,” I said, my voice a little sarcastic but not enough for him to notice. In truth I was dreading the upcoming try-outs. It wasn't that I didn't want to play the game, it was more the fact that I would have to complete for the place and possibly make a complete fool out of myself in front of everyone.
And in front of James. For some reason that was a new worry added to my list – not only would it be dreadful to do something idiotically horrendous in front of the entire Gryffindor house, but if James was there too it would be doubly hideous.
“So, I was thinking we'd try you out as Keeper first,” James began. Me only half listening because I liked the guy. Anyone less than James, Freddie, Dare, Louis or Désirée talking non-stop and they'd be blocked out. “And then – depending on your skills – we might give you a shot at Chaser, but that's not a guarantee though, because I'm pretty sure we've got the Chaser's sorted out …” It wasn't until I pushed the portrait open that someone interrupted him.
“Hey Ray, I just came to –” I looked up to see Reid Parkinson who had frozen in his tracks. Looking at James with narrowed slits for eyes. “Potter.” he nearly spat, drawing himself taller and replacing what ever look he had on his face previously with a calm, unresponsive one.
I swivelled my head to look at James and saw an emotionless mask. A wave of tension washed over me as the atmosphere in the room became stiff, awkward and judging. The portrait of the Fat Lady clicked shut behind us and appeared to knock James into speech.
“Parkinson,” said James flatly, allowing a smirk to develop across his handsome features. “Up at the Gryffindor tower, I see. Feel strange to be at my eye level instead of under my feet?”
“It's funny you should say that, Potter,” he sneered, advancing forward a little and throwing back a handsome smirk of his own. “You know I heard the reason the Gryffindor's are so bad at Quidditch is because they spend all their time walking up the stairs and have no energy for the pitch.”
“It's funny, because I heard that's why the Slytherin's have no muscle.”
I had to hold my laugh back. I was a bystander. Absolutely no part of whatever was happening in front of me and I was not going to take sides.
“I have muscles, Potter. Sadly I don't feel the need to advertise them like the Gryffindor's so arrogantly do.”
“You know what, I think your father paid the Sorting Hat to put you in Slytherin. I hear no cunning and I see no ambition. As far as I can see you're going to be a figure in the shadow for the rest of your life. Just. Like. Him.”
“Shut up about my father, Potter.” Reid snarled his smirk long since disappeared and in a second his wand was at James' chest, singing a hole in his Gryffindor t-shirt, but James was a second ahead of him and had snatched his wand out at the same time, burning a hole in Reid's button-up shirt in return.
“Did I hit a nerve?” asked James, tilting his head a little, sporting a malicious smirk. “Has a Gryffindor finally got through that thick, Slytherin snake-skin of yours? Best not to tell your little cronies. Wouldn't do any good for that reputation you've got.”
“That's enough, James.” I warned him, stepping forward and putting a hand on his arm.
It didn't so much as stir James until Reid's attention was focused on my gesture as his eyes fell on my skin on his and he stepped back, lowering his wand. James followed until I was holding his arm at his side. Reid didn't take his gaze off my hand, some sort of battle of emotions coming across his face, which I wasn't surprised at considering James had mentioned his non-existent father.
“Sorry, Ray,” said Reid, not taking his eyes off my hand even though I had removed it from James' arm. “I'll see you around.”
“Wait –” I said, wanting to know why he had come up here in the first place, but he had already disappeared around the corner.
There was a moment of tense silence as we looked at the place he had previously stood, before there was a huff from James and he began to walk off. I hurried to his side before walking with him.
“Why did you stick up for him?” he shot, when my stride met his.
“What do you mean?” I asked, my voice betraying my emotion, by letting an ounce of hurt slip into my words.
“You were fine with our little battle of wits until I mentioned his father.” James stopped and turned to me. He seemed far taller than usual and his face was devoid of emotion. “Why?”
I suddenly felt anger at his words. He was stepping into untouched territory and I wasn't going to let him do that. He acted like he knew exactly what his words had done to Reid, but he didn't. He could never understand.
“Do you know who Reid's father is?” I spat, my voice creating a splash of surprise across his face.
“No, I –”
“Exactly.” I interrupted, watching his illusion of height falter. “You don't know anything about his father and guess what: neither does he. Because the famous Reid Parkinson with that successful mother of his doesn't have a hidden disgrace of a dad sheltered from the world in the back of his mansion. In fact he doesn't have a dad at all, because for as much as he knows, his father is probably dead.”
The fiery determination in his eyes seemed to have gone out only to replaced by something else. I started walking again, scooting around him, but he turned and we were walking side by side in a fuming silence.
I didn't know what to think. I had just lost control of my mouth in front of James Potter and I didn't know what that meant. Did it mean I had gotten used to being around him? That he no longer had control over me with the superior air that came with his last name?
I had always been slightly attracted to him. He was gorgeous. With muscles rippling through his arms, legs and chest. He had the sexy mess of hair that tinted gold and red in the sun. He had the deepest darkest eyes that betrayed him every time he attempted his emotionless façade. And perfect white teeth. There was no doubt that if he showed any signs of attraction towards me I would have used it to every advantage. Who didn't want James Potter?
But that was it. That was all it could ever be. Physical attraction. I mean, sure, he was a nice guy and all, but that didn't cut it. He wasn't funny like Fred or mysterious like Blake or arrogant like Louis. (I know he's my cousin, it was just an example.) He didn't seem to have any of those exceptionally noticeable qualities that attracted you to someone more than physically.
James wasn't someone you could easily fall for. He was calm and polite, except when he let himself slip and then he could easily be cocky and rude. He was snarky and witty when it came to arguments. And if you pushed him too far you could easily get your head blown off. He did his homework, he didn't complain. He was level-headed and always seemed to be right. He had an opinion on everything and seemed to boss everyone around. He was protective over Dare, but not his own blood. And when it came to Quidditch he was an absolute dick. To be honest, James Potter was a mix of things. Attractive being only true when you looked at him.
So that was why I could only conclude that I had seen too much of his personality to still be attracted to him. That I no longer cared what opinion he had of me, because he obviously didn't care enough to make me have a good opinion of him.
But somehow I knew things just didn't work like that. I had come to that conclusion logically, but things like attraction were felt, not thought. And whatever these fleeting feelings were, they went against all my logic and left me doubting everything I had ever maintained. Logically the little spit I had against him could never have happened when I was sure I felt something for the guy. But emotionally … well I didn't know. I had never acted on my emotions. I had never searched for a reason to why they felt what they felt, because my emotions and logic had always walked together hand-in-hand and now that had changed.
And that was how I found myself questioning my mental capabilities because of James Potter.
We had walked down five flights of stairs before he spoke again.
“Why did he call you Ray?” he shot all of a sudden, his voice icy and teeth gritted.
I took a deep breath, hoping it would steady my voice in case it decided to come out shaky.
“My name's actually pronounced am-or-ray,” I said shyly, after a few seconds of silence where I let a blush creep up my cheeks at the mere thought about my little speech on Reid's non-existent father. “He just shortened it.”
“Why does everyone call you am-or-ret, then?” he said sourly.
“Well, Tallia saw how it was spelt and thought it was funny so she said it like am-or-ret.” I said softly. Working my legs so I could keep up with him as we travelled down the stairs. “I guess it sort of stuck. It's only my parents and aunts and uncles who pronounce it properly. Even my sister doesn't.”
“And Parkinson calls you Ray?”
Despite my little speech he still couldn't bring himself to forget about their encounter.
“Are you good friends, then?” he asked, his voice generally softer than what it had been before.
“You know what, I think it's time I asked you a question.” I snapped, then feeling a little ashamed I lowered my voice. “Why –?”
“Come to Hogsmeade with me.” said James quickly, not bothering to change his voice or the speed he was walking at. It wasn't a question, it was more like a demand.
“What?!” I said, stopping in my tracks without a second thought.
James kept walking for a couple of steps until he realised I was no longer beside him. “I mean,” he said, turning to look at me with a strange gleam in his eye. “Will you come to Hogsmeade with me? The next time it's on, of course.”
“Dare said she's already going with someone and Freddie's planning to ask Désirée. Elliot will be going with Rose and I think Blake's got his eye on Rose's Gryffindor friend, so I've pretty much been left to fend for myself.” he said, taking a second to breathe.
I attempted to talk, but he spoke before I could.
“Look, don't answer right now.” he said, holding a hand up in an attempt to stop me from speaking. “I know it's a couple of weeks away and plans could change, so don't worry about it. Just keep your options open, OK? Désirée will probably say no to Fred so you don't have to worry because –”
“James, shut up.”
His mouth went from hanging open to snapping shut.
I wanted to say yes. I wanted to jump up and down and scream yes, but I didn't know if I could do it. What was I getting myself into? A simple, friendly trip into Hogsmeade with a mate? Or an awkward, judging trip into Hogsmeade where he made extremely forced conversation and I tried not to swoon all over him, therefore making him deeply disturbed and reluctant to come close to me ever again?
“Sure,” I said without a thought, letting myself smile at him in what I hoped was a way that didn't make me look scary. “I guess.”
“Sweet,” he said, breaking into a smile. “Oh hey, Elliot!”
I watched him run past me and undoubtedly up the stairs to see Elliot. I didn't turn to watch him, thinking that was taking it too far. Instead I continued down the stairs, giving everyone I passed a sweet smile, to which half of them seemed too surprised to return.
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognise. Zilch.
Authors Note: I apologise for the wait. (Not that I can remember how long it's been.) And I hope you like this one (even though I don't particularly like it) and the additional internalising in her head. So, in my last authors note I asked who you'd like to see more of and I only got James (as you can see in this chapter), but I do have a problem you see.
So this story of mine has been getting barely any reviews compared to my other major one and it's been worrying me because I really want to continue with this one because I like where it's going. And the less response I get the less I want to write more :(. So if you could maybe take the time to give me a little review. Even just a simple one like: "I like your story, please update soon." or "I really enjoyed this chapter, but I find it a little confusing with all the different characters." Even just something like: "Cool chapter(:" That'd be great ;DD
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it :D.