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Beauty Queen by explosion
Chapter 13: In the Know
Disclaimer: It's all Jo's.
Dom had taken us to the Room of Requirement. It was a room I’d heard about in passing a couple of times from other students, but I had always brushed it off as being a myth. However, Dom and Molly were aware of its actual existence and had deemed this the only place worthy of sharing their knowledge about James. So now here we were, sitting in a triangle on the carpeted floor of the room, as Dom nervously wrung her hands.
“Well…” Dom started, her gaze flickering over to Molly as though asking for the okay. Molly nodded her head shortly, causing Dom to turn back to me as she inhaled another breath. “I guess to really understand, you’d need to know about Nate first.”
“Nate?” I asked, the name sounding vaguely familiar, as a picture in my head cropped up of the train ride to Hogwarts, when he had been mentioned and the compartment had grown stonily silent.
“Yeah, Nathan Wood,” Dom said, nodding her head with more vigor. “His dad is like, this big shot Quidditch player, so when him and James met each other on the train ride to Hogwarts during their first year, it was kind of love at first sight.”
“Love?” I asked, which just caused Molly to glare at me. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to be talking.
“They had a bromance,” Molly explained, her voice flat as she inspected her nails. “They were probably as close as best friends could be. Couldn’t find one without the other. They finished even finished each other’s sentences. It was kind of creepy.”
“Yeah, Fiona hated when they would do that,” Dom said, looking at me. “When her and James dated she hated Nate. Nate hated her too actually.”
“That’s because she was a total bitch to him,” Molly said. “She tried to get them to stop being friends, like, a million times. She felt threatened by Nate—”
“It was stupid anyway, because Nate was in love with Rose,” Dom said, turning to Molly and seeming to forget the point of the conversation, instead eagerly discussing Nate with Molly. “Oh god, do you remember how much Rose hated him too? She would never give him the time of day. It was actually kind of sad, because he really did like her.”
“He loved her,” Molly confirmed.
“Yeah, he did,” Dom echoed. She then turned back to me. “James was a bit annoyed at first when Nate took a fancy to Rose, because he didn’t like the idea of his best mate and cousin dating.”
“Yeah, he thought it would mess up the whole dynamic they had going. They were a fucking trio those three, despite the fact that one of them had a psycho girlfriend and the other two hated each other,” Molly explained.
“Rose and Nate were always at each other’s throats,” Dom said. “It’s a wonder she even agreed to go out with him in the first place.”
“He choreographed an entire flash dance routine in the Great Hall,” Molly stated. “She was kind of obligated to say yes at that point.”
“And then after the first date, she was a goner,” Dom said, sighing a bit. She looked at me again. “They were the perfect couple, Tash. I can’t even explain to you how perfect they were. And it wasn’t even an annoyingly perfect couple. They just… went together, you know?”
I nodded my head at Dom, even though I didn’t know.
“Well, anyways,” Dom continued, “Nate and James were inseparable. And since they both had like the hugest love for Quidditch, they tried out for the team. They both made it, and then, last year, James was made captain and they were going on and on about how they were finally going to bring Gryffindor back from its terrible losing streak.”
“And they did,” Molly cut in. “They were brilliant players, and we finally thought Gryffindor was going to get the Quidditch Cup because they were bloody unstoppable.”
“But,” Dom said, biting her bottom lip, “on New Years Eve, James and Nate decided to throw a party to celebrate the winning streak they were on and… well they both were really smashed. And then Nate suggested they play a round of Quidditch outside. Everyone else at the party was smashed as well so they all agreed…”
Dom stopped her story, deciding to look down at her hands instead, and I had a feeling I knew what she was about to say.
“He was so pissed that he fell off his broom,” Molly stated. “He landed on his head and his neck just sort of… snapped. Nobody noticed him fall until it was too late.”
“Rose was a wreck,” Dom said sadly. “She didn’t stop crying for months. And James was just kind of…gone. He stopped talking to people, ditched us all as mates, quit Quidditch, dumped Fiona, and… well became the way he is now.”
“It was really bloody annoying,” Molly said. “I mean, we were all friends with Nate. We all loved him. And James has to go and act like none of us understand.”
“Come on, Molly,” Dom said, and I could tell they’d had this conversation before. “James had it the hardest. Him and Nate were basically the same person.”
“Rose had it really hard too you know,” Molly said defensively. “He was like, the love of her life or whatever. And she didn’t ditch us.”
“People grieve in different ways,” Dom said softly.
“I know,” Molly said, “It just… sucks I guess. Nate didn’t deserve to die.”
“Nobody does,” I found myself saying.
Dom looked at me as I said this and sent me a sad smile. I noticed her eyes were a little shiny, but she quickly blinked.
“Anyways,” Dom said, trying to compose herself. “I never told you about it because I don’t like mentioning it. But I figured, now that you and James seem to be chummy, you should probably know.”
“We’re not chummy,” I said slowly, “he’s just helping me out.”
“I don’t know if you realize this,” Dom started. “But this is a huge step for James. He hasn’t voluntarily talked to anyone in ages. I just… I don’t want you to take it for granted, okay?”
“Okay,” I said, even though I still didn’t understand. She was acting as though I was going to hurt James. As though I had the ability to hurt him.
“Sorry to be such a downer on the rest of the day,” Dom said patting my leg comfortingly. “I just know I’d want to know if I was in your position.”
I nodded my head, my tongue feeling heavy. I didn’t know how to respond to Dom. It was like… there was so much information thrown at me so fast, that trying to comprehend it all was near impossible.
James had a best friend Nate. A dead best friend Nate. That had to be just about the saddest thing I had ever heard. And Rose… no wonder she always seemed a little weird whenever James’ situation came up. She had lost the love of her life. That just…
It sucked. And I wish I knew how to express just how much but I couldn’t. It sucked and that was that.
“Anyways, that’s why Fiona was being so weird,” Dom said. “She didn’t take the break up with James well, and I guess seeing you talking to him she got really territorial.”
“Right,” I said, not really caring much about Fiona after what I’d heard. It seemed so trivial compared to the rest of the story.
“Be careful though,” Molly said, giving me a warning look. “Fiona is really protective of her and James’ nonexistent relationship, so if she sees you as a threat, she won’t be afraid to play dirty.”
“But I’m not a threat,” I said.
“But you are,” Dom said, looking at me pointedly. “You’re a gorgeous girl who can get James to talk. That’s as threatening as it can get.”
I shook my head, looking down at my crossed legs. “There’s nothing going on though.”
“I know, Tash,” Dom said, looking patting my shoulder comfortingly. “I believe you. It’s other people that you’ve got to convince.”
With that, Dom got up from her sitting position, Molly following suit. They both looked down at me.
“We better get to first period soon,” Dom said. “You coming?”
“Yeah,” I said, nodding my head as I tried to figure out what Dom had meant about convincing other people. Did I need to actually try and prove that there wasn’t anything going on with James and I? How was I going to do that? “I’m coming.”
“Well, well, well,” Gryffin said, eyeing me up and down as I sat down next to him during lunch. None of the others were at the table yet, so it was just the two of us. “If it isn’t the new Gryffindor seeker.”
“Does everyone know I’m seeker, now?” I asked. “I haven’t even properly told anyone!”
“New travels fast here,” Gryffin said. “Everyone also is aware of the altercation you and a certain blonde pep squad captain had outside the Great Hall.”
“Don’t remind me,” I said, grabbing an apple off of the table and taking a bite.
“Oh come on, it couldn’t have been that bad,” Gryffin said.
“She told me James was off limits and asked Dom to take me out of her sight,” I responded.
“Sounds like the Fiona I know and hate,” Gryffin said shrugging. “But don’t worry, she can’t do any real damage. Especially since you’re now on the Quidditch team. No matter how much she hates you, she’ll have to be nice to you because you’re seeker.”
“About that,” I said, taking in a breath. “I’ve been thinking that maybe being seeker is a bad idea…I’m actually quite terrible—”
“Don’t care,” Gryffin said, not letting me explain further. “Our Quidditch match is in less than a week. We need you whether or not you suck.”
“Wow, Gryffin. That makes me feel so much better,” I intoned.
“I do have that gift,” Gryffin responded cheekily.
I was about to respond but was interrupted by my name being shouted across the Great Hall. I turned in the direction of the voice to see Scorpius Malfoy marching towards me, looking like a man on a mission.
Suddenly all the conversations I had with Dom where she complained about Scorpius being a tyrant flooded through my brain, and I felt myself yet again regret my decision to join the team. Now he’d be my captain.
“So,” Scorpius said once he arrived at the table, taking the seat next to me. “I understand that you’re going to be our new seeker?”
I nodded my head, biting my lip as Scorpius studied me.
“I’ve got to say I’m a bit surprised,” Scorpius said. “I never pegged you for a Quidditch player.”
“I’m not,” I said. “I just… somehow got roped into it.”
“I see,” Scorpius said, even though I could tell he couldn’t. “Well, James has informed me of your situation, so I guess I won’t expect you to practice with us, but I do think I should get to attend at least one of your training sessions with him so I know what to expect.”
“Um, that seems reasonable,” I said, taking another bite of my apple. I chewed it slowly, trying to avoid having to say anything else.
“When’s is your next practice?” Scorpius asked impatiently. “The match is coming up very soon so I kind of need to see you in action, like, yesterday.”
I felt myself internally begin to panic as Scorpius waited for me to answer. I couldn’t even stay on a broom for more than a couple minutes without falling. If Scorpius came to tonight’s practice, he would freak out.
“Well… I don’t know,” I said, not being able to come up with a good lie.
“You don’t know?” Scorpius asked, looking at me with disbelief.
“Yeah,” I responded with a shrug. “I haven’t talked to James yet. I’ll let you know when we figure it out though, okay?”
Scorpius looked as though he was going to protest, but before he could say anything else Dom and Rose arrived at the table, effectively cutting off the talk about Quidditch. Rose had still made it a firm rule that Quidditch talk was banned from meal times, especially when both Dom and Scorpius were around, because all that led to were fights.
Scorpius cleared his throat and gave me a look, which I took as meaning he wanted to finish this discussion later. I nodded my head, which seemed to satisfy him.
“Right well, I’ve got to go,” Scorpius said, standing up. “Prefect duties and what not. Rose you’ll still cover for me tonight, right?”
“Course,” Rose said, nodding easily. “Wouldn’t want to interrupt your night of writing Quidditch plays.”
“Nobody would want that,” Dom added, but Scorpius ignored her.
“I’ll see you then,” Scorpius said, and he gave me a pointed look before leaving to remind me we still had unfinished business. It was actually quite intimidating and left me feeling extremely nervous.
Almost as soon as Scorpius left, Gryffin stood up abruptly. “Oh shoot! I totally forgot I’m supposed to meet Molly in the library so we can finish up our project.”
“When were you supposed to be there?” Rose asked.
“Five minutes ago.”
“Shit, you better run,” Dom said. “She’s probably half way to a melt down.”
Gryffin needed no more prodding, and quickly stepped over the bench of the table. We all watched him hurry out of the Great Hall, before breaking into a sprint as he turned to the left, in the direction of the library.
Once Gryffin had effectively left our line of vision, we all turned back to look at each other.
“So,” Rose said, putting her elbows on the table and looking at me. “Dom told me about your run in with Fiona this morning.”
This was the first time since I’d heard about Nate that I was talking to Rose, and I couldn’t help but examine her closely as she spoke, wondering whether or not she knew that I knew. Her red hair was neatly French braided down the back of her head and her blue eyes gave nothing away, so I looked at Dom instead.
“She knows I told you,” Dom said, noticing my confused expression. “I wouldn’t have told you if she hadn’t been okay with you knowing in the first place.”
I nodded my head and Rose shot me a small smile. “I hope you don’t feel weird about me now. It sucks being labeled as the girl with the dead boyfriend.”
“Right,” I said, still feeling at a loss for words. It was weird how calm she was being about everything.
“I’m sure you understand too, you know, with the label as the girl who’s a beauty queen,” Rose continued. “That’s why I was okay with Dom telling you.”
I realized after Rose finished speaking that she expected me to say something. I felt more self-conscious than I ever had, as I debated over what to say.
“I’m glad I know,” I said finally. And I wasn’t lying either. I felt honored that Dom and Molly and Rose all trusted me enough to inform me of what had happened. It was like they actually saw me as a friend. I’d never had that with anyone but Dom before.
“Good,” Rose said, nodding her head, and the way she said it made it clear the discussion was over. Dom gave me an encouraging smile next to Rose. “So, tell me. How was meeting James’ ex?”
Nata, Attached is a schedule for the next week’s press appearances. It’s going to be pretty packed, but I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it, seeing as what I’ve heard from Headmistress Chang, you’ve been doing well in school. Owl me back when you get the chance. I love and miss you -Mum xx
“Aren’t you supposed to be practicing Quidditch with James?”
I looked up from the schedule of events my mum had just sent me to meet Molly’s questioning gaze. I quickly folded up the letter from my mum and put it in my purse.
“Uh… yeah, I am,” I said, standing up from my seat on the couch in the common room. “I guess I just lost track of time.”
I hadn’t. Lost track of time that is. And I think Molly knew this because she raised an eyebrow.
“You never lose track of time,” Molly said slowly.
I sighed, wishing that for once, Molly would just let my lame excuses slide. But she wouldn’t be Molly if she did that, would she?
“I know,” I responded. “I just… well I got a letter from my mum with my schedule for next week and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.”
I didn’t explain to her why I felt overwhelmed, because I didn’t know how she would react, and I couldn’t risk her running to Dom or Scorpius and telling them. I’m pretty sure neither of them would react well to hearing that I had an interview scheduled the day of the first Quidditch match.
My luck really has been wearing thin lately. Out of all the days I could have an interview, it just so happened to fall upon the day of the Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff Quidditch match. Where was the fairness in that?
“Are you sure you’re not feeling overwhelmed for some other reason?” Molly asked, breaking into my thoughts and peering down at me. It still got to me sometimes how tall she was. I mean, I know I shouldn’t think it’s weird, because I’m tall myself, but she was taller than me. She had to be 5’11 at the least. “Like, I dunno, the fact that you don’t want to see James after what we told you? Are you freaking out about it or something?”
I drew my thoughts away from trying to guess Molly’s height, and felt myself grow shocked at Molly’s words. “What?” I asked, my eyes widening. “No! Of course not.”
“Are you sure?” Molly asked.
“I’m sure,” I said confidently. “I really am just feeling overwhelmed.”
“Okay,” Molly said slowly, looking as though she didn’t know whether or not to believe me. “I’m just making sure you’re not going to be all weird around James now. We didn’t tell you so that you’d stop talking to him.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” I said.
“Good.” Molly nodded her head at me. “You should go out and meet him then.”
I nodded my head back at Molly, unsure of the entire conversation we just had. I then began to turn around, ready to leave the Common Room and head down to the pitch.
“Natasha?” Molly called. I turned back around instantly, wondering what she was going to say. “Don’t let… Well try not to let James know you know about Nate, okay? I don’t know if he would’ve wanted us to tell you.”
Letting James know could only lead to awkwardness for the both of us, and I didn’t want that. Which is why I thought about her question for a split second before nodding. “Okay.”
“You’re joking,” I said, looking from James down to the toy broom and then back to James again. James, however, didn’t look like he was doing anything of the sort.
“I don’t joke,” James responded, confirming my fears.
“But… it’s a toy broom,” I said, hoping my emphasis would snap James out of whatever illusion he was under.
“Exactly,” James responded. “Toy brooms never crash. This way you’ll get a feel for riding a broom without having to worry about falling over.”
I bit my lip. James did have a point, but… it was embarrassing. I mean, I was so bad at flying that James had downgraded my training to me riding on a toy broom. I wasn’t used to being bad at things.
“Not everyone is good at flying right away,” James said, seeming to notice my internal debate. “It’s okay to be bad at things.”
And as usual, James had managed to read my mind and make a prolific comment about my thoughts. I never knew how to respond when he said these things, because any response always felt so… inadequate.
“Scorpius wants to see me practice before the Hufflepuff match,” I told James, because I didn’t know what else to say.
“Okay.” James nodded his head.
“Okay?” I said, looking at James with an arched eyebrow. “You’re not worried at all about the fact that I can’t even fly?”
I couldn’t help but hope maybe I’d be bad enough that when Scorpius saw me practice, he’d kick me off the team and I wouldn’t have to play in the match. Then, I wouldn’t have to debate over what to do about the interview that was scheduled on the same day. My mum didn’t even know I was on the Quidditch team (I wanted to keep it that way) and she would flip if she knew I was even thinking about ditching a Miss Teen Witch interview.
“Nope,” James responded, breaking me from my thoughts. “You’ll be able to fly before the match. I’m sure of it. Now get on the broom and practice being in the air.”
I let out one more huff of disbelief, shaking my thoughts about the interview away, before straddling the toy broom. As it began to rise in the air, I felt myself grip the handle tightly. There was something in me that just wasn’t comfortable with having nothing beneath me. It was too unsettling for a person like me, who was used to everything being firmly placed on the ground.
“Okay,” James called once the toy broom had risen to the highest it could go (which was about three to four feet off the ground). James stood next to me as I sat on the broom, and placed his hand carefully on my shoulder. “Now, I want you to just lean forward a bit, yeah just like that, switch you grip back to the way I taught you last lesson though okay?” I did what James said, trying to ignore the fact that his hand was still resting on my shoulder. “Alright, now position your feet like we practiced, okay good, and take a lap around the field. Just one.”
I tried to keep in mind everything James was saying as I stared straight ahead of me and moved myself forward. The toy broom was much easier to control, seeing that it already had spells programmed into it to make sure the ride was smooth, and I felt myself move forward much better than I had last time. As I moved forward at my steady pace, James kept his hand on my upper back and walked along with me, sensing my worry about falling.
We didn’t talk as I made my lap. I was too frightened about falling and James was James. I liked the silence though. It was nice to not have to try and make forced conversation.
When I finished my lap, James dropped his hand and smiled at me. I couldn’t help but focus on his smile, since he rarely did so. And I guess now I knew why. “See? That wasn’t so bad.”
“That’s because I’m on a toy broom,” I responded, shrugging off his statement. “I’d suck on a regular broom.”
“You’re too hard on yourself,” James said, and I couldn’t help but look up at him as he said so. His gaze was focused on me, which I found unsettling.
“You’re too hard on yourself too.” The words were out of my mouth before I had even thought about it, and I regretted saying them instantly. James thick eyebrows soon drew themselves into a confused expression.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
Crap. I was pretty sure Molly had just given me strict instructions not to mention I knew about Nate, and now, here I was, indirectly referencing it. I really shouldn’t be allowed to know things.
“Nothing,” I said, brushing his question off. “Forget I said anything.”
“No,” James said, his eyes unyielding. “Explain.”
I sighed and bit my lip. I guess I could tell a half-truth. “It’s just… I dunno. You seem really isolated from other people, don’t you? And you quit Quidditch even though you clearly like flying still so…”
I trailed off as James’ expression changed to one of understanding. “Dom told you then?”
My eyes widened. “What do you mean?”
James sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, before looking back at me. “I mean, that it’s pretty obvious someone told you about Nate.”
A/N: Helloo my lovely amazing readers! Sorry to leave this chapter on another semi-cliffie but for some reason with this story leaving chapters on cliff hangers is really addicting. But guess what? YOU ALL KNOW JAMES BACKGROUND! WOOHOO!
Are you satisfied that you know? Was it everything you wanted it to be? Did it surprise you? Did you expect it? What about Rose and Nate? Is that not the saddest thing ever? Or how Nata might not be able to attend her Quidditch match because of the interview?
On another note, can I just say how amazing you all are for the response to last chapter? Seriously, I was grinning like an idiot for days and you all left the sweetest reviews.
Okay, well please leave a review down below letting me know your thoughts!
Love you all so much; you inspire me,