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Chapter 13: Rumors, Hypocrisy, And All That Jazz
He can’t be doing this to me.
This isn’t how things work. He isn’t supposed to be in love with me. He isn’t supposed to be this way. He isn’t supposed to leave me feeling like this.
I can’t handle this. I can’t handle any of it. It’s all too much. None of this makes sense.
Jett wasn’t supposed to dump me. Alex wasn’t supposed to be a bastard. James wasn’t supposed to say - isn’t supposed to be -
This is so screwed up. Everything’s backwards, everything’s twisted. This isn’t reasonable or rational.
I just can’t handle this.
So I do what I always do when life becomes too much. I curl up in my bed and block everything out. If I don’t think about it, I won’t have to deal with it.
Which is good, because I can’t deal with it.
I push everything away when it comes too close. That’s the only way I know how to manage things. And when I curl up in my bed, I can forget about everything. Everything just feels so far away, in a different world.
Not in my world. Not where I’ll have to deal with it. As long as I can stay in my bed, I can keep it out. I can keep it all out. I can keep out my heartbreak, I can keep out my hurt, I can keep out my -
What? My what? My feelings for James?
Because out of everything, that’s the thing that makes the least sense. That’s the thing that is the least logical. I want - no, I need to push him away. He can’t be in love with me. And I can’t care about him. I can’t.
He’s no good for me. Everything in my brain screams at me to run away. Because that - because he isn’t rational. And it’s only going to end badly.
So I’ll push him away as hard as I can, because that’s the only thing that makes sense to me. I’ll push everything away.
It’s not healthy, but I don’t know what else to do.
I don’t know what else I can do.
“Aria, love, wake up.”
My eyes squint against the light as I stare up into the innocent face of Sophie. “I don’t want to,” I mutter.
“Sweetie, it’s time to get up. If you want breakfast, that is.”
I groan and pull my covers over my head. I don’t care about food. I don’t care about anything. I just need to stay in bed. Because if I get out, I’ll have to deal with the world. And I can’t do that.
“Aria! I know you just went through a break up, but honestly. The world does not stop spinning because of a bloke,” she huffs.
“I know,” I mumble, even though I don’t.
“You are getting out of that bed even if I have to remove you forcibly.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
“Okay,” Sophie says, and I can almost hear the smile in her voice.
“Up you go, Captain,” a male voice booms as my covers are ripped off and I’m pulled into a pair of arms.
“Aiden!” I shriek. “Put me down!”
“Sorry. No can do. I can’t have my captain cutting class. You’ll get suspended from Quidditch.”
“Yeah, and then you can be captain.”
“Good point. Maybe I should -”
“Aiden, don’t you dare put her back in bed,” Sophie commands, looking at him sternly.
Aiden gulps. His eyes dart between me and Sophie. I can see the battle raging in his brain. Captain. Sophie. Captain. Sophie.
“Dammit,” he moans. He dumps me on the floor in a heap and stares at me pointedly. “Get ready. You’re going to class. I will not hesitate to carry you to your lessons while you are still in your sleep clothes.”
“Whipped,” I mutter under my breath. He scowls and stalks out of the room, apparently still sour about his non-captainship. Or about the fact that he is, indeed, whipped. I’m not sure which. “Really, Sophie, the boy deserves a nice long kiss for that one.”
This time Sophie scowls and throws my robes at me. “Would you stop trying to set me up already?”
“Not until you and Aiden are together,” I call over my shoulder as I head into the bathroom. She lets out a short huff of frustration and exits our dorm with a slam of the door.
I follow her out a few minutes later, trying to keep the weight of everything from crashing down on me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through the day. It’s all there, pressing ominously on the back of my mind, and I just want to avoid it. I just want to ignore the irrationalities and go back to when life was simple.
I frump down at the Ravenclaw table across from Albus and Louis unceremoniously. They smile sympathetically at me, but don’t say a word. And really, that’s all I want right now.
My eyes drift slowly over the food in front of me, but I can honestly say that I’m not hungry. The sight of food actually makes me sick. I don’t know how people can be eating right now when everything is so... wrong.
Out of habit, my eyes flicker over to the Gryffindor table and to Jett’s regular seat. He’s pushing eggs around with his fork and looking distinctly miffed. As I watch him play with his breakfast, a pang of hurt washes over me.
There’s this hole now - this gap that comes from knowing someone’s not in your life anymore. It just makes you feel so... empty.
Al seems to know who I’m looking at without turning around. “The vultures have begun to circle already,” he comments drily.
I must look as confused as I feel, for Louis elaborates. “Girls.”
As my eyes expand along the Gryffindor table, I see what they mean. Instead of the usual space between the Gryffies and the next people on the bench, girls have scooched up extremely close to the group and are flirting shamelessly. Some slutty one has her hand on Jett’s arm as she laughs loudly with the girls around her.
Thus, his miffed expression.
“Honestly, hasn’t even been a day yet,” Albus mutters in irritation as The Slutty One’s laughter wafts over to our table.
Jett shakes his arm roughly and The Slutty One’s hand falls off of it. His eyes flash up to mine for a brief moment and as soon as our gazes meet another stab of pain runs through me. The Slutty One glares at me, then grabs Jett’s arm and pulls him around to look at her.
I tear my eyes away from him to observe the rest of the group. Connor is looking wistfully at Dom, not even bothering to acknowledge the existence of the girls. James, meanwhile, is staring intently at a piece of toast with a look of utter annoyance sketched across his face. Even Fred, who usually takes the attention of any female he can get, looks ticked off.
I watch as James’s hand repeatedly curls into a clenched fist and then relaxes. Suddenly, he pushes off of the bench violently and strides directly towards the Ravenclaw table.
Oh, no. Please, Wizard God. Don’t let him be heading towards me. If you have any mercy at all -
He walks right past me and I let out a sigh of relief. Thank you, Wizard God. You really aren’t half bad.
“Oi! Alex!” James yells as he advances down the table.
Al and Louis exchange worried glances as they turn to watch James. Alex swivels away from the girl he’s chatting up and rolls his eyes at the sight of James’s approaching figure.
“What, Potter?” Alex asks in a bored voice as he gets to his feet.
Then, without warning, James punches him in the face.
Alex staggers backwards, clutching at his jaw in pain, but James grabs him by the front of the shirt and pulls him closer roughly.
“If you ever touch her again, I will kill you,” he snarls before shoving Alex away.
“Mr. Potter!” Professor Parkes exclaims from the staff table. “To my -”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. To your office. I’m on my way,” James says dismissively with a wave of his hand. He ambles out of the Great Hall cooly, without one backwards glance.
“Merde,” Louis whispers.
“I’ve never seen James look so angry before,” Al says slowly. “I wonder what happened.”
I close my eyes and lay my head down on the table. Everything is flooding into my brain. No matter how hard I try, it’s all pushing down on me. Alex is a disgusting jackass. Jett broke up with me. James is in love with me.
Oh my God.
I can’t deal with this.
I don’t know how to deal with this.
Oh my God.
None of this makes sense. None of this is rational.
I don’t know what to do.
I can’t push it away. It won’t go away. Why won’t it go away?
I need it to go away.
“Aria?” Al asks tentatively. “You okay?”
“Yes,” I say as I lift my head up.
No, I am not okay.
“I just remembered that I forgot something in the common room. I’ll see you guys at lunch,” I lie as I stand up.
I exit the Great Hall with only one thought echoing in my mind.
Push it away.
I wander aimlessly throughout the castle for a while, as Sophie got me up ridiculously early this morning. I’ve still got plenty of time before classes start, but that’s what you get for being friends with a perfectionist.
“Aria,” a voice says from behind me.
I turn around slowly and see James, tucking his Marauder's Map away.
Push him away.
It’s the only thing that makes sense.
He stops a few feet away from me and shoves his hands in his pockets, unable to look me in the eye. “We should probably talk,” he mumbles.
“About what?” I ask as I stare blankly at him.
“About - about what?” His eyes flicker up to look at me. “About the fact that I said -”
“We don’t need to talk.”
“We don’t need to talk about what you said or what you just did or -”
“Aria, you can’t just ignore the fact that I’m in love with you.”
Push him away.
“Yes, I can. Because you’re not.”
“Aria!” James exclaims, stepping closer to me. “I know how I feel. I know that -”
“You can’t be.”
“Oh, and why not?” he demands, taking another step forward.
“Because it doesn’t make any sense.”
“I never said it made sense. And it doesn’t. But I am. And I said it, even though I didn’t mean to. I said it, and I can’t take it back. It’s out there and we have to deal with -”
“Stop, James! This isn’t rational -”
“Why are you pushing me away?” he asks angrily.
“Because this doesn’t make sense!”
“Not everything makes sense, Aria! Not everything falls into your perfect little boxes! Life is messy and confusing and sometimes you just have to deal with it. You think I wanted this to happen? You think I wanted to fall in love with you?”
“Stop saying that!” I yell. “You’re not in love with me!”
“You don’t know anything about me. I know how I feel. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t concentrate, I can’t think about anything except for you -”
“Stop,” I plead, feeling the tears come to my eyes.
Push him away.
“Aria,” James says gently as he reaches out a hand to touch my shoulder.
“No! Don’t touch me!” I scream, jumping away from him.
Push him away.
“Why are you acting like this?”
“I don’t need you to rescue me. I don’t need you to be my knight in shining armor. I don’t need anybody,” I say in a shaking voice.
“We all need somebody. It’s okay to be weak sometimes,” he says softly.
Push him away.
“I don’t need you, James. I don’t want you.”
As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I regret them. But that’s the thing about speaking. Once you say it, you can’t take it back. No matter how hard you try, no matter what else you say, you still spoke those first words. Nothing can change that. It’s a lesson that James and I have learned the hard way.
I can’t even bring myself to look at him. I know what I’ll see if I do.
“Fine. I’m sorry that I’ve been such an annoyance to you. I’ll just leave you alone from now on.”
Even though I’m not looking at him, I can still hear it. I hear it in his voice. I hear it in every sentence, every word.
I hear his heart breaking.
And it’s all my fault.
And the worst part? There’s something inside screaming at me to not let him walk away. But I have to. I have to let him hurt now, so he won’t later. So that I won’t hurt later. That’s what my brain tells me. When you don’t follow the rules of logic, things never work out. That’s what always happens.
Whatever. It doesn’t matter now. I’ve already pulled the trigger. It’s over. It’s done. Let him hate me.
I wipe away the single tear from my cheek and head back towards the common room. I’ve still got at least twenty minutes before I have to get to Charms. Might as well do what I said I was going to.
I’m about to knock on the door when it swings open and a startled Aiden peers out at me.
“Hullo. What are you doing here?” he asks as he steps out of the doorway.
“Forgot something,” I mumble, trying to avoid his eyes.
I can’t let him see how upset I am. I can’t. If he does, he’ll start asking questions. Questions that I don’t want to answer. Questions that I don’t know how to answer.
He snorts. “Like hell. Turn around and go to class. I’m not letting you give up the will to live just because some bloke dumped you. And your arse better be at practice today. We’ve got the match against Hufflepuff this weekend, don’t forget.”
“Ugh. Fine. Just for you, Aiden,” I say in a voice that I hope is more confident than I feel.
He grins and slams the door to the common room shut. “I know. You love me. It’s okay to admit it.”
“But,” I say, looking at him sternly, “you have to do something for me.”
“Ask Sophie to Hogsmeade next weekend.”
“Why not?” “Because - because - she’ll say no and then she’ll know that I fancy her!”
I punch him on the arm as we begin to walk down the stairs and force myself to laugh. “She won’t say no, and she already knows that you like her, moron.”
“What?! You told? How could you?”
“She would have figured it out anyway.”
He moans and covers his face with his hands. “My life is over.”
“So melodramatic,” I mutter as we round a corner.
“God, she probably thinks that I’m a creep or something.”
“No, she doesn’t.”
“She probably thinks that I’m a loser and can’t get a girl in my own year.”
“No, she doesn’t.”
“She probably hates me.”
“Aiden! Honestly, you’re being ridiculous. She obviously has a thing for you - or she will, she just doesn’t know it yet. You two are completely perfect for each other in a weird, totally nonsensical way. So man up and ask her out,” I huff as we reach the Charms classroom.
“But Aria -”
“No. You will do it. End of conversation.”
I stomp into the classroom and swing into my regular seat, now thoroughly steamed. Dom raises an eyebrow at me from behind her copy of Witch Weekly but doesn’t lift her eyes from the page.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“So, are you and Jett cool with each other?”
“Definitely not. He was so pissed last night.”
“He was drunk?” Dom asks, perking up immediately.
“What? No. He was pissed off,” I correct.
“Oh,” she murmurs and slumps back in her seat. “So much for juicy gossip.”
“Sorry I’m such a disappointment.”
Dom sighs and puts her magazine down on the desk. “Are you going to be all right?”
I swallow and push back the tears threatening to form at my eyes. “Eventually. It’s just... so much is happening right now, and I don’t know how to deal with any of it.”
She smiles sympathetically and pulls me into a hug. “Just give it time. He’ll come around.”
As if on cue, the four Gryffies come sauntering into the classroom. Connor grins as soon as he sees Dom and dashes over to greet her.
“There’s my lady!” he says happily, pulling her to her feet and attacking her with one of his special Connor bear hugs.
She laughs with delight as he lifts her up and spins her around. “My prince,” she giggles into his shirt.
As I watch them, I can’t help but feel so... hurt. It’s unfair. It’s unfair that they should get to be so happy while I’m so miserable. It’s unfair that these two can be so carefree while I feel like I’ve got the weight of everything crashing down on me. It’s just unfair.
Connor releases Dom and plants a kiss right on her forehead before snagging a seat behind us with the rest of his group.
Fantastic. I forgot that the Gryffies always sit behind us, or they have been ever since Jett and I started dating. And now that Connor and Dom are together, I guess things are going to stay that way. They always sit in the same order, too. Jett, James, Connor, Fred.
Well, at least I won’t have to look at them now.
I sigh and drum my fingers on the desk impatiently. Honestly, would it kill Professor Abberly to get here on time for once?
Well, I guess you could argue that we’ve still got five minutes until class starts, but still.
“What’cha reading there, Dommie?” Fred asks, leaning down and peering over Dom’s shoulder. “Witch Weekly. Anything about me?”
Dom snorts. “Like anyone would want to see your ugly mug in here, Freddie.”
“Oh, Dominique! Do you have the newest copy of Witch Weekly?”
Dom flinches at the use of her full name and turns to stare in the direction of the offender. It’s The Slutty One from breakfast, who apparently is in my Charms class. Honestly, I’ve never noticed her before today.
I turn around in my seat so I can get a look at her. She’s perched on top of Jett’s desk, directly behind me, swinging her legs and twirling her hair.
“Why yes, I do have the newest copy, Grace,” Dom says in a totally fake friendly tone.
Her name is Grace. Huh. I like The Slutty One better.
“No. Not really.” Dom turns back to face the front of the room and I catch the roll of her eyes in my peripheral vision.
The Slutty One shivers dramatically and says, “Jett, it’s so cold in here.”
He raises his eyebrows slightly as he stares at her. “What do you want me to do about it?”
“Well, I thought that now that you’re a free man, you might be willing to share your jacket with someone else,” she says as she trails a finger up his arm.
Does she not realize that I’m sitting right here? Like, literally a foot in front of her?
Jett continues to stare at her in disbelief. “Why in the hell would I give you my jacket?”
“Because you’re so noble and chivalrous, of course,” she says in a sickeningly sweet voice.
“Yeah, I am, but I don’t go handing out my jacket to just anybody,” he responds, obviously trying to get her to take a freaking hint.
“You gave it to her.” She glares at me and spits out her like it’s poisonous. “Why did she get it but I don’t?”
By now, James, Connor, Fred, and Dom have joined me in watching the exchange. Fred grins with delight and leans forward on his elbow, anxious not to miss anything, while Connor and Dom exchange worried glances. Connor nudges James in the side, but James brushes him off with a casual wave of his hand.
“First of all,” Jett says, voice rising, “she has a name. Second, I couldn’t give it to you even if I wanted to, because Aria still has it. And third, I actually like her. You, not so much.”
The Slutty One huffs with anger. “Well, I -”
But Jett isn’t done yet. “In fact, I don’t like you at all. Never have. You’re an attention seeking bitch who’s only looking out for herself. You couldn’t care less about me, you just want my status. So I would appreciate it if you took your damn hand off of me and left me the hell alone.”
Connor nudges James in the side again, but gets another wave of the hand. The Slutty One turns to glare at me once more, and says scathingly, “It’s because of her, isn’t it? God, it’s such a good thing that you dumped her. Do you even know what people say about her? About why she had to come here?”
“Excuse me?” I say, cutting into the conversation.
“Aria, don’t,” Dom whispers.
I ignore her. “Just what exactly do people say about me?”
The Slutty One tips her head to the side mockingly. “Well, let’s puzzle this one through, shall we? You moved here out of the blue, somehow you became captain of the Quidditch team over Aiden Wood, and said Quidditch team has all blokes on it, except for you - gee, I wonder what people could possibly be saying about you, you little whore.”
“That’s enough,” James growls.
She looks at him and laughs. “Are you getting all protective now, Jamesie? It’s not like you haven’t called her that. And didn’t you call her a slag, too? Well, I guess they’re really the same thing, aren’t they?”
Jett gets out of his chair and locks eyes with her. “Stop insulting my girlfriend,” he hisses, blushing as soon as he realizes his mistake.
“Don’t you mean, ‘stop insulting my ex-whore?’” she asks sweetly.
Jett’s jaw clenches as he stares at her. “Leave. Now.”
“Why? It’s not like you two are still shagging -”
“Go. And don’t you ever talk that way about her again.”
The Slutty One slides off of Jett’s desk and smoothes her shirt primly. “All I wanted was a bloody jacket,” she mutters under her breath as she walks away.
“Is that really what people think of me?” I ask quietly, feeling the hot tears pricking at the back of my eyes.
“Aria,” Dom says gently, reaching out to touch my arm.
That’s answer enough. I shut my eyes tightly, but two drops manage to squeeze out and run down my cheeks.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I whisper, gazing at the five of them.
“Ary, sweetie, don’t cry,” Dom murmurs as more tears slide down my face.
A peel of laughter erupts from The Slutty One’s group of friends. Fred mutters something indistinct under his breath, most likely a profanity. I look over at them and The Slutty One grins triumphantly.
“I hope you’re happy,” Jett calls across the room. “I hope you’re happy now. Look. You’ve made her cry. What has she ever done to you, Grace? What’s she done to any of you?”
The entire classroom falls silent, watching the scene unfolding before them. I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed in my life.
“Come on, Aria,” Jett says to me, grabbing my hand and pulling me out of my seat. “Let’s get out of here.”
The pair of us brush past Professor Abberly on our way out the door, the eyes of all our classmates following us.
“Mr. Nolton! Ms. Fields! Come back here immediately!” Abberly splutters.
Jett ignores him and drags me down the hallway, cutting through a variety of passages and secret corridors until we emerge in a little alcove overlooking the library.
“Sit,” Jett murmurs as he slides down against the wall. I oblige and take a seat beside him, following his gaze out to the peacefulness of the library.
We sit for a while, watching students come and go in silence. He takes care not to touch me, placing a distance of a few inches between our bodies.
“James and I found this place on the map two years ago,” Jett comments after some stretch of time. “We love it here. You can’t see it from the library, and you can’t hear anybody who’s up here, either. We think the Marauders put some kind of spell on it. It’s become our little hang out spot. No one knows about it except for the two of us. Well, and now you.”
“Thank you,” I whisper. And before I can stop myself, I pull him into a hug. He seems surprised at first, but then wraps his arms around me and pulls me closer.
“What was I supposed to do? Just sit there and let her say that shit about you?”
He releases me and I turn to look back out at the library, letting more tears roll down my face. “That’s why you got so mad at James, isn’t it?” I say quietly.
Jett doesn’t respond, he simply sits and studies my face.
“When you two got into that fight. You were so furious with him because you knew other people were saying the same things.”
He inclines his head slightly in a nod. “None of us believed it, though.”
“What exactly do they say about me?”
Jett hesitates, eyes avoiding mine. “I dunno. There’s a lot of different things floating around.”
“Tell me. I want to know.”
“Well, you basically got the gist of it already. I’ve heard that you - er - convinced Aiden to give you his captain position -”
“Meaning I slept with him.”
“- and, well, you know about the thing with the Ravenclaw team - and then when we were down by the lake -”
I groan as I think back on the memory. How could I not have noticed? I even nicknamed The Slutty One’s group the Gryffie Giggling Girls. Of course they were saying things about me. I remember thinking that they would most likely be spreading rumors before the day was through. We’re teenagers, for Merlin’s sake.
“- James was being, well, James, and then you were wearing my t-shirt and my jacket - you can only imagine what people were saying about that -”
“The jacket. The damned jacket. I knew I should have never put that thing on. Blasphemy! I told you!”
Jett laughs and slings his arm around my shoulder. “Can I ask you something?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“What were you thinking, that day at the lake?”
“I was thinking that you have a lot of muscles,” I answer truthfully, feeling my face start to burn.
He laughs again. “Good to know.”
“Why?” I ask quietly.
His eyes lock on mine and he simply gazes at me for a good minute. It’s a bit unnerving, to be honest. “You remember,” he says slowly, “when you were sitting with Dom and all of us blokes were in the water?”
“Yes. After I tackled James and before I got the jacket.”
Jett continues to stare at me, refusing to break eye contact. “Dom said something while you two were sitting. She said, ‘you fancy J-’ and then stopped.”
“What are you getting at?” I ask, unable to tear my eyes from his.
“Was she talking about me or James?”
“You, of course. Merlin, Jett. Trust me, you were the only one I was staring at that entire time.”
He grins at me in the adorable way of his that lights up his entire face.
He’s just so good.
Everything about him is good. That smile, those eyes, just everything.
He’s too good.
Oh, no. I think I’m going to cry again. Stupid, stupid, stupid emotions.
“Why are you crying?” he asks gently, catching one of the tears on his thumb.
“Because you’re so perfect,” I respond without thinking. “Wow, that sounded incredibly lame.”
He smiles again, but it’s softer this time. “I’m not perfect, Aria.”
“Yes, you are,” I mutter in resentment as I swipe at my eyes. “And saying that only makes you more perfect.”
Jett sighs and leans his head back against the wall. “I’m not perfect. No one is. But I think that you’re just about as close to perfect as I’ll ever find.”
I squeeze my eyes shut as I hard as I can, willing the tears to go away. But they won’t go, and his words only make them come stronger.
“No, no, no. Don’t say that. You can’t say that,” I whisper.
“Why?” he asks, turning to face me.
“You’re making this so difficult, Jett. Why can’t you just be a jerk like every other ex-boyfriend I’ve had? Just be a jerk, all right?”
He laughs and catches another tear on his thumb. “I think it’s actually impossible for me to be a jerk. Sorry to disappoint.”
“I don’t know, you seemed pretty jerkish back there with The Slutty One - er - Grace.”
“The Slutty One. I like it. And besides, she deserved it. Merlin, she’s such a bitch. Always been that way, too.”
“Why does she say those things about me?” I ask quietly.
“Isn’t it obvious?” His grey eyes catch mine and hold my gaze. And there it is. That little floating feeling. “She’s jealous of you.”
“Why?” I breathe.
His hand reaches out to catch one final teardrop, but this time he doesn’t move it away once the tear’s gone. “Because you’re so beautiful.”
I stare at him as more tears fall slowly from my eyes. He can’t do this to me. He can’t. He’s making this so hard. He’s making it so hard to move on.
What did I say to James this morning? I don’t need him.
I don’t need Jett. He broke up with me. I don’t need him. I don’t need anybody.
But I do. I need him so badly right now. Right now especially.
He’s so safe and comfortable and good. And that’s what I need right now, while everything else is falling apart.
“I’m such a wreck,” I whisper, watching him through tear-stained vision. His expression softens, and he moves his hand from my face to my side, pulling my close into a hug. “I’m so confused and it feels like the world is just crashing down around me and I just - I just - I don’t know anymore. It’s so terrifying, Jett. And I don’t know what to do.”
“I know you, Aria. And I know that you’re not going to open up to me. I know that you’re not going to be able to tell me what’s wrong. But I want you to know that I’m always here. No matter what happens between us, I will always be here to listen, and I hope that one day, you’ll let me.”
I pull away slightly and look up at him, amazed. He really is perfect.
“And even though I know you can’t talk to me, I hope you find someone that you can talk to, that you can let in. Because you need someone like that right now. You need that more than anything. Don’t do what I do. Don’t push everything away.”
“You - you do that?” I ask, voice cracking slightly.
“Yes. When things bother me, I shove them away. I bottle everything up until eventually I reach my breaking point. Like when I found out that James kissed you. It bothered me. It bothered me so much. And I know it shouldn’t have because it didn’t mean anything. But it bothered me more than you can ever know. And I just shoved it away because that’s what I always do. But things piled up and then...”
“You just snapped and broke up with me.”
“Exactly. And I shouldn’t have. But I did. It’s just... things were building for a while. I should have talked to you about it - after our fight, after I found about the kiss, after you wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. I should have told you how much I was bothered. But I didn’t, it piled up, and I freaked out.”
“They were worried that you were going to snap again today,” I murmur. “James and Connor. They were watching you. They thought you were going to do something to her -”
“I nearly did. I was so close. So close to getting pushed over the edge. I have issues that I need to deal with, Aria. Issues that I don’t know how to deal with.”
I know, Jett. I know. Issues that James told me about. Issues that you can’t bring yourself to admit to me.
He takes a deep breath and skims his eyes over me. I’m sure I look incredibly lovely right now, what with my puffy eyes and constant tears. “And as much as it hurts me, as much as I want you back right now, I can’t have you. I don’t want you to wind up like me, Aria. You need to take some time for yourself, work things through. And I just cannot be a part of that. You’re more important than me right now. Promise me that you’ll do it. Promise me that you’ll work things out for yourself.”
“I promise,” I whisper.
“Good. Now, I know you’re going to hate me for this, but we really do need to get back to class. I think we’ve already skipped two periods.”
He smiles at me, and for the first time, I realize that he’s in pain, too. He’s been hurting. He has things that he needs to figure out.
I feel like such a hypocrite. Not even a month ago I was yelling at him for not noticing how upset I was. And I didn’t even notice that he’s just as screwed up as I am.
I’ve been so focused on myself, on my problems, that I haven’t opened my eyes to anyone else around me. I’m so selfish and he’s so... selfless.
I don’t deserve him.
He may say that he’s not, but he’s perfect in my eyes.
Someday, this boy is going to make his girl the luckiest person alive.
I can only hope that girl is me.
But somewhere inside, I know it won’t be.
A/N: Woah. Heavy chapter. Sorry if I depressed anybody, but it needed to happen. Not much James in this chapter. Sorry :( But he got to punch Alex! That was fun. And he was being all protective and stuff even though she kind of ripped out his heart and stomped on it.
I hope this helped to explain the breakup a bit more. I know it happened really fast, but that’s just how Jett deals with things. He lets things spiral out of control and then... he snaps.
Hm... what else? The Slutty One a.k.a Grace - ironic, isn’t it? I think she and Alex should get together. Yuck. But unfortunately, she was necessary. Because Aria needs to realize that things happen beyond the realm of, well, herself. Everything’s not as happy and dandy as she thought it was. Stuff happens. She affects people without realizing it. *cough James cough*
Anyway, hope ya liked it or something. Is it possible to like a chapter as heavy as this? Lemme know what you think. Reviews always make my day. I love you all so much