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Chapter 5: Pulling Closer, Pushing Away
Bellatrix awoke to the feeling of something warm behind her on the bed. Still half asleep, she didn't think to wonder what it was, just that she was very cold. She turned over and curled up against what seemed to be a young man, though her mind could not quite be sure. She lay there for a moment, then felt someone's hands stroke through her hair. The slightly rough hand, which was obviously a man's, stopped on her neck, and she felt his thumb caress her jawline. She felt so content right now, it didn't seem to worry her that she had somehow ended up in bed with someone.
For a few moments, she let the man stroke her face, getting closer and closer to her lips, but when finally, his thumb brushed against her mouth, she shot up, suddenly remembering.
"Oh my gosh, what ever did I do last night?" Bellatrix covered her face with her hands and tried to force thoughts of what could have happened the previous night from her memory. It slowly came back to her, and she was relieved when she realized nothing had happened between them...but how had she ended up so close to him?
Jeremy sat up beside her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "You okay?"
Bellatrix knew she ought to push him away while she could do so easily, that if she let him get close now, he would think it was alright, but she didn't feel like it...in fact, odd as it sounded to tell it to herself, it felt kind of nice to have him against her like he was.
She decided she didn't want to deal with the voices telling her to be careful right now and laid her head against Jeremy's shoulder, "I'm fine."
He was surprised, to say the least. Were girls always so bipolar? As long as she was content with the situation, he was going to enjoy it, though.
She felt his free hand brush the hair back from her forehead before he kissed her brow softly.
It took Bellatrix completely by surprise. That was the kind of thing he would have done to convince someone he really was in love with her, not something he would just...do.
"You don't have to play pretend while we're alone," Bellatrix whispered.
Jeremy froze, and then cupped her chin in his hand and turned her face to look at him, "Who said I was playing pretend?"
Confusion rushed through Bellatrix's mind at his words. What was she supposed to say to that? There was, of course, no reason she should doubtlessly believe it, but something about the way he met her gaze shamelessly made her think there was more truth to his words than she had ever guessed.
"Bella, I love you," Jeremy murmured.
Bellatrix gasped and jumped away so quickly one might have thought she'd just discovered there was a monster beside her. She was off the bed before he could say anything else.
"No," she shook her head fervently, "No, you don't. Do not lie to me, Jeremy Kasica!" Her voice had risen with every word until she practically shrieked his name.
Her breath was coming fast and Jeremy was mentally berating himself for letting it slip out that suddenly, "Bella...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say it...like that. I do, but I...didn't mean to say it so suddenly." He slid off the bed and tried to get close to her, but she pushed him back.
"Don't. Just...don't," Bellatrix said, "I thought...maybe you actually respected me...apparently I was wrong. Stay away from me, Kasica!"
"Bella-!" Jeremy protested.
"Shut up! And don't call me that!" Bellatrix snapped, then turned and walked into the bathroom, slamming the door forcefully behind her.
Jeremy sank down on the bed and rested his forehead in his palm. What had he gotten himself into? They'd been so close for such a short time...and he had gone and messed that up.
Bellatrix stood under the scalding hot water and let the tears run down her face. Why did he have to effect her like this? He shouldn't be able to get to her at all, and yet, somehow, he seemed to be able to rub against that one part of her that was so raw from her past. It was as if he didn't even know that she would feel it...but she did.
...Five years earlier...
"Bellatrix, you know I love you, why is this such a big deal?" The tall, darkly handsome boy protested, grabbing her hand as she walked away.
"You love me, do you? It certainly didn't look like it!" Bellatrix snapped, jerking her hand from his and half running down the hall to get away from him.
"Look, we were just passing time. No need for you to get so touchy over that!" The boy shouted, his voice growing to a vicious growl, "I thought you were above that whiny girl stuff."
Bellatrix stopped in her tracks, whipped around, and slapped him as hard as she could, then shouted, "Just passing time? You were bloody making out! And I'm touchy?! Well yeah, maybe I am...my boyfriend is only cheating on me! Touchy doesn't even begin to describe it!"
"Calm down, Bellatrix," Jakob Axon demanded, grabbing her arm before she could hit him again.
"No, Jakob...we are done! I never, ever want to talk to you again and you'd better stay away from me!"
"What?!" Jakob's face took on an expression of pure horror, "Bellatrix, you can't - you wouldn't - I love you!"
"Do you think I care?" Bellatrix snapped, "Do you really think I care what you think you feel?"
"But I do! Come on, you've got to give a guy some room and all, but I'll always come back to you!" Jakob practically pleaded.
"Room? So cheating is alright by you? Well I hope your new 'love' finds that out soon," Bellatrix pulled her arm out of his grip and stalked away.
Bellatrix doubled over in the shower and sobbed. Jakob Axon had been her first crush and she had been stupid enough to fall for him and believe all his lies and false declarations of love. Now she was so bruised from all the times she'd caught him cheating that she had dubbed love a dangerous emotion. Curse her foolish, naïve, fifteen-year-old self for believing him when he said he loved her, even after she caught him with numerous other girls.
She let the tears mingle with the water until she could cry no more. Then she took a deep breath, turned off the water, and wrapped a towel around her self, and left the bathroom to get dressed for the day. She hadn't planned, however, on Jeremy still being in their room, sitting on the bed with his head in his hands. He looked up when she came out, but flushed red and looked down again when he saw she was only wearing a towel.
Bellatrix ignored him as best she could, though she could feel her own face go red. She hurried to get to the closet and closed the door when she got in, exhaling heavily. Her wardrobe seemed much more limited than it actually was when she considered the slight bump of her abdomen, and she quickly slipped into a long-sleeve, loose red dress, and frowned when she found that it was still a bit tight across the bust, but ignored the fact. She turned her side to the mirror and smoothed the dress down against her frame, sighing as it revealed that she was definitely growing.
But what did she care? She didn't need to impress her friends anymore, or be cool for the rest of the school. She was stuck here with Jeremy Kasica, of all people, and the less attractive she was to him, she guessed, the better it was for both of them.
She left the closet, expecting Jeremy to have gotten into the shower himself, but he still sat on the bed in the same position she had left him last.
He looked up briefly to make sure she was dressed, and then met her eyes searchingly. He could see she had been crying, though she had erased the traces as best as she could.
"Kasica...don't," Bellatrix said, sounding exhausted, "Just...forget last night, alright. I was stupid."
Jeremy stood up suddenly, "No, you weren't, Bella."
"Please...please leave me alone," Bellatrix whispered, making for the door.
Jeremy caught her by the hand before she could reach the doorknob and he spun her around to face him, "If what I said hurt you...forget it. I'm not saying I didn't mean it, but if it hurt you...then it's not the time. Please, Bella, don't push me away."
Bellatrix bit her lower lip and met his blue gaze. He had the deepest, most sincere eyes she had ever seen, and just looking into them from this close proximity made her want to believe anything he told her...made her feel as if she could trust him with anything, as if she knew that he would never leave her.
But she couldn't trust anyone like that.
She dropped her eyes slightly lower and found herself staring at his mouth. Almost without thinking, she whispered, "I...trust you."
Something like a sigh left Jeremy's lips before he could hold it in. Coming from Bellatrix Black...that left him absolutely breathless. He wanted her to meet his eyes again...wanted to see inside her, but her eyes were seemingly fixed on his mouth. That, in itself, knocked the air from his lungs. That kind of thing was just not the kind of thing he thought Bellatrix would do to him.
"Bella..." he barely breathed her name, and her eyes finally shifted to his.
And she gasped, "Oh, I didn't mean to say that!"
"Do you?" Jeremy asked, so softly he could barely hear himself.
Bellatrix blinked, and then said, hesitantly, "Yes...I...I do."
Jeremy's mouth was open slightly, but no sound came out.
There was a moment of silence, in which neither knew what to say or do, but then, Bellatrix surprised Jeremy even more by leaning up and kissing his cheek so softly, it felt as if he had dreamed it.
She then turned and went downstairs to have breakfast, and Jeremy followed her, though he was still so surprised he couldn't speak.
She got a yogurt out of the fridge and he started a pot of coffee before sitting at the table across from each other as they had the previous day.
She wasn't looking at him, choosing instead to absently stir her yogurt. Jeremy, on the other hand, could not take his eyes off her, trying to figure out what he should say, or if he should remain silent.
"Bella..." he tried, wanting to see her reaction.
Bellatrix raised her eyes slightly, and then looked back down, causing Jeremy to realize he was still shirtless from the night before, "Yes?" she murmured, and, from the other end of the table, he only knew she had spoken because he had seen her lips move.
"I just...don't want to mess up," Jeremy said, lamely, standing up to get his coffee, which had finished.
"Mess up?" Bellatrix's voice was a little more audible now, and he heard what sounded like fear in her soft voice.
"Oh, Bella, I didn't mean it like that," Jeremy protested, turning around quickly and placing his hands on her shoulders, "I...meant that I don't want to end up turning you against me. I don't want us to not be able to make this work."
Bellatrix met his gaze with a steady look of her own. She had to make sure he was not lying, had to know this for sure before she let herself fall any more. She had never intended to fall anyway, but somehow he had a way of breaking down her walls without her even being aware of it, and she just had to know that, if this was the way it was going to be, she was not going to end up hurt as she had with Jakob.
Jeremy touched the back of his hand to her face and followed her jawline slowly, "Can we make it work?"
She grabbed his hand in both of hers and just looked at him for a moment, then broke eye contact and turned away from him, "I don't want to talk like that right now."
He wanted to convince her right now, wanted to make her see that he would never leave her, but he couldn't press now or he might make her feel rushed and lose her completely, "Okay," he said, slipping his hand slowly from hers to push her black curls behind her ear. Then he got back to fixing his coffee, knowing she was watching him.
After breakfast, he stood and said he was going to take a shower. Bellatrix just nodded absently and stayed where she was.
He took about twenty minutes to shower and get dressed in dark jeans and a long sleeve grey shirt, and when he came back down to the kitchen, Bellatrix still sat at the table as she had been when he'd left.
She looked up when he came in and smiled slightly.
Her smile knocked Jeremy absolutely breathless and he knew he probably had the most idiotic grin on his face, but he couldn't really help it.
"So, what should we do today?" he asked, after a few seconds.
Bellatrix looked confused, "What?"
"What should we do? I don't think we have any plans, so I guess it's just whatever you want," he guessed Bellatrix Black had not really had many days where she had nothing at all to do.
"Um...I have no idea," she said.
"Well, I could see if Helena wants to have a picnic or something with us...or we could go somewhere together, you and I," he watched her expression with his suggestion.
She closed her eyes and smiled in exasperation, "Kasica, you do have odd ideas."
Jeremy pulled up a seat beside hers and said, "Odd, sure. But do you like them?"
"I was under the impression that you didn't care for Helena," Bellatrix prodded, looking probingly at him.
Jeremy shrugged, "Nah, I never really had an opinion on her...but if you're cool with her, so am I."
Bellatrix actually laughed at that, "You're actually kind of...well..."
"Stupid?" Jeremy suggested, smirking, "A loser? Awful?"
Bellatrix elbowed him, "Ugh, all of those."
She suddenly heard the voice in her mind saying 'What are you doing laughing and teasing with him? You know you're falling now, and it's happening so fast you don't even seem to care!'
Jeremy was grinning at her last comment, and somehow, that made the voice in her mind shut up for just a moment too long. He seemed so genuine, and his smile was...for the first time, Bellatrix really saw why all the girls at Hogwarts were so attracted to Jeremy Kasica. It wasn't because he was gorgeous, as they said; it wasn't even because he was popular. He was just such a different person from the other guys. He listened, and he knew how to get her mind off things when she actually let him. She was shocked to actually admit it to herself, but, had she been anything but a Slytherin pureblood, he would have been exactly the type of boy she would have chased.
Bellatrix felt a strange feeling in her chest that felt so right in that moment, it had her feeling a bit reckless. She leaned in suddenly, and before either of them knew what was happening, her lips were pressed against Jeremy's.
Jeremy froze. How had it gotten to this point so quickly? Not that he was complaining...but how could her lips possibly be so amazing? He pulled himself together quickly and ran his hands through her hair to pull her closer with his hand on the back of her neck.
His response broke the last of Bellatrix's uncertainty. She ran her hands through his hair and closed her eyes tightly. Jakob had never kissed her like this. She felt the hand on the back of her neck twisting in her hair, and the other was just barely touching her chin. She felt him sigh against her lips, and for some time, she allowed herself to just live in the moment.
Then the voice had to come back, 'What are you doing making out with a boy you were so sure you hated until this week?!'
Bellatrix pulled away suddenly and Jeremy sighed as he released his hold on her. That had been the best two minutes of his life. He was quite aware that his expression was blissfully idiotic, but Bellatrix's was about the same...
Only, not idiotic in the least...she looks so happy. You did that.
She did look happy, but then confusion crossed her face, "Oh...forget that, I shouldn't have done it. Let's go somewhere...town or something."
Jeremy chuckled, "Forget it? I don't think that's possible. But yeah, let's go."
Bellatrix gave him a look, but he quickly stood and offered his hand to her. She guessed she would just have to wait to see what came of it. She took the offered hand and he said, "So, I guess we'll just walk around until we find somewhere that interests us?"