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Cheating the Bet by Ryebread
Chapter 7: Flashback
Thanks to empyreal @ TDA for the great chapter image :)
It had been three weeks since I first and last encountered Potter after the whole incident and he had stopped trying to talk to me since. I know in my heart that I was hoping he would come after me, even if I didn’t say it. I should have said it, but I didn’t and he didn’t bother to come to me and explain again. I’m not sure what hurt more; that he was with another girl or that he didn’t even try to fix it. He let me go and so, I had to move on.
Rose and my other dorm-mates knew something had happened, but I wouldn’t tell them what was wrong and judging from their constant questions and confused looks, Potter didn’t say anything either. Rose was more persistent than the others, but eventually let it go. For the time being the girls left me to be by myself, knowing I needed space and would come talk to all of them when I was ready, as I always did.
Despite my hurt, I couldn’t help but look over at him while he was sitting at the other end of the table. His friends were all talking, but would look at him strangely from time to time. Potter must not have told them what happened either. The only person who seemed to know more about the situation was James, who kept looking at me questioningly, but he also was distracted by Claire, who would glare at him whenever their eyes met.
I envied them. I wanted to be back in that situation. I wanted to hate Potter like Claire hated James, but I couldn’t anymore.
My gaze was drawn to Potter again. His elbows were on the table, one hand under his chin and the other lazily eating a piece of toast and jam. He looked like hell. Half of me, the logical part, thought he deserved it for playing with my feelings, for making me feel like a fool. The other half wanted to forgive him so much that it physically made my heart ache. That part of me didn’t like seeing him in pain, even if he caused me so much of it, and though I hated to admit it, especially to myself, the illogical part of me was winning out. Right there, looking at him, I couldn’t help wonder what he was thinking about and how he was doing. I wanted to make sure he was okay, but I couldn’t. It would hurt too much to care about him.
I ate my toast slowly, but I didn’t feel remotely hungry. After I tried to talk to Allie, she just sneered at me and looked at me coldly and pushed me away, literally and figuratively. Stupidly, I was stunned and I let her get away and, now, I wasn’t sure how to approach her to explain what happened. It was all a misunderstanding and she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Flashback to the party:
I was on cloud nine since I told Alice I liked her and I’d wait for her. After I told her, I kissed her cheek and I left to give her some time to think. I made my way over to James, who was sitting gloomily on the top of the stairs of the boy’s dorm.
“Good game, mate,” I said, patting him on the back. He smiled a little, but said nothing. I looked at him confusedly and sat beside him on the stair step. “What’s up?” James sighed, sounding frustrated.
“It’s just Claire,” he said as if it explained everything.
“Claire?” I asked. “Claire who?” Although I thought I knew who he was talking about.
“Claire Corner from Ravenclaw,” he replied with another sigh. Bingo. I was right. I decided to play clueless since I wasn’t supposed to know about James’s feelings. He didn’t like people to know exactly how deeply he felt about Claire since she turned him down all the time. It was his personal defense, a wall he kept around his emotions, scared of letting other people see them. It was sad, and thinking about it now, it was a mirror of myself, so I didn’t bring it up with him. If he wanted me to know, he would tell me.
“The chaser on the quidditch team? That Claire Corner? Don’t tell me you fancy her. She hates your guts.” James laughed humorlessly.
“Thanks for the help, little brother. I didn’t notice that,” he snapped at me sarcastically.
“Look, I’m sorry. Why don’t you just tell her how you feel? It worked for me,” I said trying to help.
“I did try that; multiple times. She keeps shooting me down. Claire says I’m too full of myself and too immature. She doesn’t even realize that I’ve changed so much over the summer and this year,” he paused and chuckled a little bit. “She was especially mad because we whooped Ravenclaw’s arse. Why do I fancy a sore loser?” I just laughed.
“She was probably mad about us winning because, knowing you, you rubbed it in her face,” I said and by his guilty expression, I knew he did. “I can see why you fancy her, though. You guys are so alike. Both of you are sore losers and completely bonkers for quidditch. It’ll work out, James. Just show her you care.” James smiled and ruffled my hair. I batted his hand away before punching him in the arm.
“Thanks, Al. You’re a good brother,” he paused before adding, “And what do you mean it worked for you?”
“I told Allie,” I said simply, trying to sound nonchalant, but my excitement showed through in my voice. James just laughed at me.
“It’s about bloody time! You’ve only liked her since forever.”
“Thanks for the support.” I rolled my eyes and then got up from sitting on the stairs. “Listen, it’ll work out. Don’t worry about it.” I hopped down the stairs two at a time and left him to think about it.
I headed towards the portrait hole. I was starving after the game and didn’t get the chance to eat before the party, so I wanted to go to the kitchens. I was almost there when the blonde girl that Allie said was flirting with me, Ella McLaggen, blocked my path.
“Hey, Al,” she purred, putting her hands on my chest. Normally, I’d be all over her, but now that I finally told Allie how I felt, I grabbed her hands and put them by her sides.
“Sorry,” I said. “I’ve got someone else. She means a lot to me, so I can’t do this.”
She looked at something behind me before grabbing my collar and kissing me. I pried her off of me and whirled around in time to see what, or should I say who, Ella was looking at; Alice glaring daggers at me.
“Alice!” I yelled for her. She just ignored me and headed to the girl’s dorm. I kept calling her name, but she kept moving, pushing people out of her way in order to get to her destination. She got up the stairs before I could get to her and I tried to get her to come back down, but I didn’t even get an answer from her. I wanted to grab my shoes, but unfortunately Uncle George gave them to me to try out and said they were prototypes. After the night I went up to get Allie, they stopped working.
“Shit,” I said under my breath, running my hands through my hair forcefully. “I seriously screwed this up.”
Back to the present:
I ran my hand through my hair as I remembered the party. I had to fix this and soon. I couldn’t sleep and I could hardly eat, which caused my quidditch skills to seriously suffer at practices. My teammates tried to find out what was wrong, but I didn’t say anything. Alice wouldn’t want me to. Roxy, Aileen, and James knew something happened between us, but they didn’t bring it up. I didn’t want to talk about it and I didn’t want to hurt Allie more.
The truth was that I lied to Alice when I said I liked her. I didn’t like her; I was in love with her. I figured that if I told her that off the bat, she would go barmy. I don’t know exactly when I fell in love with her, but I have had a crush on her since childhood.
Her dad has been friends with my parents since their years at Hogwarts and when Neville got married to Hannah, my mum and dad became close with her, too. Because of this, Alice was over at my house all the time. Unfortunately, I was too much of a chicken to even talk to her. She didn’t notice I existed, but I had the biggest crush on her. Anytime she came over, I would get tongue-tied and so I never said a word to her and tried to avoid her at all cost because I was afraid of looking like an idiot. Little did I know that, by evading her, I still appeared to be an idiot.
The first time I ever had a real interaction with her was on the boat going to Hogwarts. I smiled slightly for the first time since the party thinking about the memory.
Flashback to the first day of Hogwarts:
I was sitting in the same boat as Alice Marie Longbottom. A gigantic smile was plastered on my face. I couldn’t believe my luck, but what should I say?
Suddenly she got up and turned around in circles. She dug her hands into her pockets and frantically searched the boat.
“Has anyone seen my toad?” she asked worriedly, her hazel eyes starting to water. My eyes lit up. This was my chance to talk to her, to get to know her, to help her. I got up in the boat and looked around on the bottom of the boat. I noticed her toad, Trevor II, directly under the seat she was on. I picked it up, but it was so slimy that as soon as triumph, and the toad, was in my grasp, it slipped out of my hands and fell into the lake. I looked up guiltily and saw Alice fuming at me.
“Did you throw my pet in the water? Well, if one toad is in the lake, Potter, than the other one should be also!” she yelled and shoved me straight into the Black Lake before I could explain. I bobbed up to the surface surprised and spewing water from my mouth, but all I could think about was the fact that she talked to me. Alice talked to me and that made me the happiest boy in the world.
Back to the present:
I now chuckled for the first time since the party, which caught the attention of my friends. They all gave me weird looks because I’d been miserable the whole morning and now I was laughing at nothing. I couldn’t help it; the memory still made me laugh. It’s stupid, I know, but my logic was that if I annoyed Allie, she would have to say something, anything, to me and so that is exactly what I did. It worked, but she didn’t exactly like me very much, which is why I spent my time with brainless girls and having meaningless snogs. I never went too far, but most people thought I did. This year, though, I decided it was going to be different, and Alice made it easier with her bet, and it was… until now. Now, it was worse.
I couldn’t even finish my toast. My appetite was completely gone. I set it down on my empty plate and got up to leave the Great Hall, but not before glancing at where Alice sat. She had left.
Quickly, I sat down by my cousins, Rose and Roxy, and Aileen and Sophie and my little sister, Lily and asked them where Allie was. Rose scowled at me and the others ignored me.
“What did you do to her?” she asked fiercely, poking me in the chest (which kind of hurt, but I wasn’t about to admit that to her). I resisted the urge to rub the sore spot on my chest. Lily glared at me with hazel eyes that she inherited from Mum. It was a scary look. She’s been nagging me about Allie since the whole incident happened. I was close with my siblings, even if they annoyed me sometimes, and told her after bumping into Allie three weeks ago.
“Nothing,” I said, holding my hands up in surrender. “It was all a misunderstanding, which is why I need to find her, Rose. Please, tell me where she went.” I hoped she would because if she didn’t I was ready to get on my knees and beg. Rose sat there looking at me silently for a minute before sighing.
“Fine. She went up to the owlery to send a letter to her mum,” she said. I got up to rush there when Rose grabbed my arm. “Don’t hurt her, Al. I know you. You toy with girls. Don’t hurt Allie.” Roxy nodded, agreeing with her and Sophie and Aileen just looked for my reaction. I looked Rose’s straight in the eyes. Lily stopped glaring and looked a little pleased, but tried to hide it.
“Don’t insult me, Rose. I hate hurting her. I love her,” I said seriously. Lily smiled knowingly. Rose’s eyes lit up and she smiled at me and Sophie and Roxy started talking at rapid fire speed about how cute a couple we would be. Ugh… girls are so bipolar. I would never comprehend how their brains functioned.
“Really? Well, what are you doing here with us? Get going!” Aileen ordered, shooing me away with her hands. I chuckled and dashed to the owlery, hoping to catch Alice before she left.
I got up to the tower within minutes, thankful for the first (and most likely the last) time of all the laps that James had me and the rest of the team run at quidditch practice. I stopped before going in to fix my messy hair as much as possible, straighten my uniform and make sure I didn’t look totally disheveled. Then, I slowly and soundlessly crept into the owlery where Alice stood, back to me. She was handing the letter to her owl.
“To mum at the Leaky Cauldron,” she whispered to her owl, Tilly. When the owl flew off, she turned around and jumped when she saw me. Her face instantly turned cold and she tried to walk out, but I blocked the door.
“Alice, we need to talk,” I said, sounding extremely cliché.
“Move out of my way, Potter,” she growled and tried to push her way past me.
“Listen to me, Allie, please?” I asked her, holding both sides of the door frame. The cold look didn’t leave her face, but she stopped trying to shove me away from the door, so I figured I only had about a minute. “Allie, I never meant to hurt you.” She laughed without humor.
“But you did. I should have known that you couldn’t stay away from slags and your one-night-stands,” she stated. I winced, but continued on.
“I was trying to go to the kitchens, Alice. She came up to me and wanted...” I trailed off. I figured she didn’t need to know the details of that. “I said no because of you. That girl saw you and just grabbed me and kissed me.” She rolled her eyes and tried to get past me again, but I wouldn’t budge. “I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. I would never jeopardize what we have for that slag, McLaggen, Allie. You should know that.” I grabbed her shoulders and looked into her hazel eyes.
“I have lo—liked you for years. Even before we talked and you would come over to our house, I thought you were the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, but I couldn’t manage the courage to talk to you. It’s a wonder that I got into Gryffindor, huh?” I joked, but even though she didn’t look as mad, she didn’t look amused about the joke so I continued on. “When we were on the boat that day and you thought I threw your toad off the boat, I didn’t. It slipped from my hands as I tried to give it to you. All I could think was that this was my shot to talk to you, but you ended up pushing me into the lake. I still was okay with that, though, because you spoke to me. From then on, annoying you was the only way I knew for you to talk to me and it just became a habit. Please don’t be mad at me, Allie.”
With my guard down, she pushed past me and walked out the door. She was getting away and so I did something drastic.
“Allie, wait!” I shouted after her. “I love you!”
She froze in her place and slowly turned to face me. Her face showed complete and utter shock.
“What?” she choked out at me, a tear running down her face.
“I love you, Alice. Always have and always will.”