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Expecting Otherwise by majamariamaja
Chapter 19: Beautiful? Me?
Chapter 19. Beautiful? Me?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And desperate measures right now include uninhibited, self-absorbed sobbing. Along with ice cream and cupcakes. And pumpkin pies. And generally every delicious carb on the face of the earth.
So while enduring another Human Relations class, I pictured myself floating around on a sea of snack-food, where I would cry freely and having a jolly good time. I was supposed to be copying a picture of a woman's uterus from the textbook and naming all the unnerving parts we have down there, but my mind was a million miles away. Instead, I mainly doodled an array of pictures on the corner of some parchment, consisting for the most part of bloody knives, tears falling from sad eyes and cupcakes.
If I never made it as...well, whatever I was to become, I seriously would have a promising career as a depressive artist. The more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea became. I could be as eccentric as I pleased, eat whatever I wanted because nobody cares how a painter looks like, and sit still for most part of the year.
I glanced over my shoulder, but it was needless. I was only after confirmation - that what I felt making the skin on my back tingle was in fact every single person in this class eyeing me. And not particularly discreetly, I might add. One seat was vacant though, and I couldn't help but feel utterly betrayed and angry. Brayder was the one who deserved these uncomfortable looks, not me. He was the one to yell out in the Great Hall yesterday that he was dumping me, he was the one who had stormed out, he was the one who started to - very publically - inform people that he wasn't even sure he was the father. But nobody looked at him any differently. Me? I was even more in the spotlight than ever before. And not in a good way.
"Don't mind them," Tristan whispered in my ear, obviously having heard how my breathing was starting to get frantic.
"Yeah," I said, but couldn't shake the feeling that I was some zoo-creature that people were staring at through the bars of my cage.
There was one other person in here that I believed to be a bit uncomfortable as well. Only in a more physical way. If I'd had the guts, I would've turned my head the other way and meet the gaze I knew was trying to catch my attention. But the bruises on his face and the cut on his swollen lip would only remind me of yesterday's events. And I would prefer if yesterday's events would just eradicate from my mind. A pointless wish, especially considering that there had been an audience present at said events, and they would never forget such drama.
So I simply comtinued to doodle bloody knives, and fantasized about using one of them on a particular ex-boyfriend. Although, he did get a rather good thumping from...well, mr Bruisy over there, and they'd trashed half the Hall before Hagrid had come between them.
I hadn't stuck around to find out what happened after that, but instead ran away. Smehow I'd ended up outside, and that's where Tristan had found me an hour later. Blue and shivering, he'd managed to coax me back inside. I have almost no recollection of what I did for the rest of the day. The only thing I do remember was being hauled into my four-poster bed.
Class was over and I followed Tristan's blonde head out of the classroom. But I was in no mood to join the masses at lunch, so I instead swiftly changed course to where I should from now on just live.
"Oh, hello, miss!" squeaked a tiny houseelf, female by the looks of it. "Is there anything Lani can help you with?"
The Hogwarts kitchen was fairly large, but the roof hung low and there were pots, pans and other utencils covering every bit that wasn't overcrowded by houseelfs. The many stoves were lit up, and everyone in the room was bustling about. I knew I'd come at a bad time. Meal hours were the busiest time for the houseelves.
Lani was still standing before me, but her eyes kept flickering to a boiling pot of something.
"I-I realise this isn't a good time," I began, "but could you please show me to where you keep the ice cream?"
Little Lani nodded and began walking toward a door. When she opened it, the air coming out of it looked like smoke. I looked inside, and there must have been hundreds of different flavours on the shelves.
"Thank you," I told the houseelf. But she was already on her way back to her pot.
With quick steps I hurried inside the room, picked out a few boxes of ice cream(one with toffee and chocolate, and one with strawberry and lime) , and stepped right back out.
In one small part of this large kitchen there was a small table, along with a few short chairs. I made my way to them, but stopped by a drawer to get a spoon.
After thinking for a second, I brought out one of the larger ones. Usually, I'd choose one of those small spoons that I use to stir my tea. Somehow - in my twisted mind - I fooled myself into believing that a smaller spoon equaled a smaller dose of ice cream, but the truth was that it only took longer to finish the box. But my need for large quantities of ice cream matched with my desire to inhale it as quickly as possible led me to conclude that this was a large-spoon situation. My motto: large, dramatic circumstances require large, dramatic spoons. Actually, I should eat with a ladle...
I spent the next two hours(completely ignoring the fact that I should be in Arithmacy with Deuce thirty minutes ago) eating away my sorrows. But the answers I was looking for weren't at the bottom of the barrel of ice cream I'd inhaled. So I walked, much like a zombie, all the way to the dormimory and flopped down on my bed. In my apathetic state I didn't even realise that Clover had been sitting on my bed for the past twenty minutes, trying to coax me into coming to dinner. She eventually got up and left, but not before throwing her pillow directly at my face. I didn't flinch, which only angered her more.
I was alone again.
Or so I thought.
Kat was sitting on her bed, across from mine, and it looked like she'd been sitting like that - and eerily staring at me - for a long time. It unnerved me. It took five minutes of this before I sighed and broke my vow of silence.
"How long are you going to sit there?" My voice was hoarse from lack of use.
"How long are you going to lay there? she asked in return, quirking an eyebrow.
My stomach rumbled, and I was forced to think about how I was starving my kids along with myself. That's bad mothering. "...I'm getting up."
Kat jumped off her bed and came over to me with both her hands outstretched. I grabbed them and hauled myself off of the mattress.
Note to self, while pregnant do not stand up too quickly unless you wanna spend three minutes being dizzy and seeing stars.
"You okay?" Kat asked, still holding my hands. If she let go I would've gone straight down.
I nodded, and opened my eyes after having them closed in order to stabilize myself.
"You going to dinner?" I asked her.
"Can I walk with you?"
"Sure," she said, shrugging indifferently. "There's always room for two in my own personal hell."
We began walking after she let go of my hands.
I missed holding Chase's hand...
Whoah! Where did that come from?!
"How is pregnant life treating you?" Kat asked me, and I jumped at the sound of her voice.
"Ehm," I said. Very articulate, yes I know.
"Ok..." Kat said, dragging out the word.
"I feel fat," I blurted out. I didn't really feel fat, but yeah...I was caught off guard when she asked me. I mean, I had just messed with my own head - why was I thinking about Chase's hands at a time like this?
"You're not fat, you're just easy to see," Kat assured me. I wasn't too happy about that response, and suddenly felt annoyed.
"Oh, really? I've got more chins than a chinese phonebook," I complained.
Kat chuckled, and I had to smile a bit too.
"So," Kat started after a while, "spoken to Deuce lately?"
I looked at her and tried to hide the sympathetic look on my face. I knew she hated being pitied. But she noticed anyway, and growled.
"It's fine." She was grinding her teeth. It wasn't fine. "I knew we had only one of those till-dawn-do-us-part relationships - he didn't promise me anything."
I kept my glance straight ahead, I didn't want her to see that I noticed the slight quiver in her tone.
The silence that followed was a heavy one. But I waited it out. I knew she would break it eventually.
"You were right," she suddenly admitted, and I stopped in my tracks.
"What?" I asked stupidly.
"About Deuce," she explained. "You were right. I was...less right."
I took her hand and gave it a squeeze. She smiled sadly at me, and then let out a little chuckle.
"We're fucked up, you and I," she said, smiling. "We shouldn't reproduce."
"Too late," I deadpanned, looking down at my overly ripe belly.
She chuckled again and squeezed my hand in return before we continued walking to the Great Hall.
Days passed, and as did the initial pain Bray had left me with. Nobody had seen, or even heard from him since his big announcement, and I had to admit that I didn't really care. Now that I thought about it, I should've dropped him like a bag of hippogriff poo a long time ago. I don't really know what kept me from doing it...
Well, anyways, many things changed over the course of those days, and among them were Deuce and Jade's relationship. Yes. Relationship. They were officially an item now, and they had taken mine and Bray's spot as the most popular couple at Hogwarts. At least now people had things to talk about other than my crappy life.
So I was in a good mood when passers by stared just as much at Jade and Deuce as myself when we sat outside on a surprisingly warm February morning. It was Sunday, and we had melted the snow away from one small patch under the big oak tree on the grounds. We'd brought blankets, and were sipping cocoa and chatting lively.
Life after Bray was surprisingly full of...well, life. I no longer worried about saying the wrong thing, or that I had to act a certain way to keep him satisfied. I was actually furious with myself for not realising how awful he was sooner and left him.
Jade was leaning against Deuce's chest, and he was propped up against the treetrunk. It seemed that Bray's absence affected her as well, cause she seemed more relaxed in Deuce's presence than ever before. They were discussing something while Deuce played with the long, black braid that fell over one shoulder. I didn't get what it was they talked about, neither did I care. Clover, on the other hand, care too much. She had barely agreed to come outside with us, and now sat curled on a blanket and poked the snow-free ground with a sharp stick, and now and again cast sharp glances at the happy couple. Chase and I were chatting casually, totally ignoring the fact that we both felt really awkward whenever we were together.
I knew why I was feeling awkward, but I had no idea what his reason was. But I doubt that anything could beat my reason, so he could just stop being so overly nice and fake. His reason for being awkward couldn't hold a candle to mine.
What was the reason?
I wanted to kiss him. Like, all the time.
It was very annoying. Especially since Chase was my best friend. And that made me just so awkward whenever I was around him. And I blushed a lot too. Blaah! I hated this!
I must've missed something drastic, because very suddenly Deuce picked Jade up and threw her over a broad shoulder like she was nothing more than a sack of potatoes.
"Damn it, Deuce!" Jade screeched as she pounded her tiny fists furiously against his firm back, but it was all in vain. "Put me down this instant!"
"That I will, dearie, when the time is right," he said and relished in his victory, all the while walking purposely up to the castle with a dishevelled Jade across his shoulder.
Clover's wide eyes met mine, and before we knew it we were off following the odd pair.
"I am completely able to walk on my own!"
"I know." If Deuce's shoulders weren't burdened then I bet he would have shrugged.
"Then put me down!"
"I enjoy carrying you."
"What you enjoy is to humiliate me by proving that you're stronger than I am!"
"Yes," he agreed while grinning, "that too."
We followed them into the Entrance Hall when we stopped in our tracks. I was gasping for air from the brisk walk, and had to laugh as the weird couple kept on bickering.
Clover didn't look at the scene unfold for long, and instead whipped around and ran down to the dungeons.
Myself, I stood alone in the Hall with a strange smile while I watched Deuce carry the struggling Jade up the stairs. I had no idea where he was taking her, and I didn't really care either.
I all of a sudden felt someone poking my shoulder and I turned around to come face to face with Tristan and his glorious eyes.
"Hi, Della!" he beamed.
"Hello," I greeted back, the strange smile replaced by a genuine grin.
"What was that about?" He nodded to where Deuce had just gotten out of sight, but we could still hear Jade's squeals and his loud laugh.
I shrugged. "No idea."
Tristan tore his eyes away from the staircase and fastened them on me. He did this until I squirmed - not that it was an unpleasant look, or anything. But I felt like he was analyzing my every move.
"Soooo," I dragged, and finally broke the silence.
"So," he said back.
Well, that was inventive.
"Did you," I cleared my throat awkwardly, "did you, ehm, finish the essay for HR yet?"
"Nah, not yet."
That's it? That's all I get? Alright, mate, at least I'm trying to carry on a conversation!
Why was it so hard to chat with him all of a sudden? Had I done something? Because he seemed very pensive and quiet for once.
"Seriously, dude?" I asked in an annoyed tone. "What's up with the lack of response? Did I do something?"
The colour drained from Tristan's face, and his eyes widened.
"No!" he said hurriedly. "Oh, god no, absolutely not."
"Then what is up with you?" I was still annoyed. And no, it was not because of the hormones.
"Nothing, I just..." His voice trailed off and he looked away while scratching his neck. I knew he did this when he was nervous. He'd done a ton of it in HR class every time Martinez asked him a question.
"You just what?"
"I just wondered how you were, that's all," was his meek response.
I squinted my eyes at him. "Riiight."
"Yeah." Now it was his turn to cough awkwardly. "So how are you doing?"
"Sure?" he questioned and looked at me intently again. "Then you're a better person than I am. I would've had some serious urges to kill my ex if she ever did what Bray did to you."
"I guess that's why you're in therapy and I'm not."
Tristan laughed loudly at this, and it forced a smile on my otherwise sour face.
"Well, I still think I should've done something," he continued and I looked up at him and cocked my head to the side.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, he was just a horrible human being! I never liked him, he was terrible to you. I should've done what Chase did, and-and just punched him in the face!"
I was taken aback by this.
"You never liked him?
"Ehm, okay..." he began, and sighed. "Is this one of those situations where you break up with the guy, make me say crap about him, and then you get together with him the week after?"
I laughed grimly. "No."
"Well, in that case, I hate him. I physically hate him," he told me with thunderous eyes. "Blimey, that felt good to get off my chest. I've been holding that in for too long."
This made me smile a bit. Had he really been thinking like that all this time?
"And there is not any chance of you taking him back?" he asked again.
"Not a chance in hell," I assured him.
"So you're going to be a single mother?"
I bit my lip, and my heart gave a jolt when the image of another bloke quickly entered my mind.
I'd rather not say who it was.
"I-I'll get back to you on that," I stammered and averted my eyes. I inwardly swore at myself for harbouring thoughts that were nowhere near acceptable, and barely contained a growl.
"Can I tell you something?" he suddenly questioned, and I gazed back up at him. Hm, I never realised how tall he was...
"This is bad," I said when I'd gotten over his surprising height. "I mean, it has to be when you're asking me for permission, right? You never ask permission to say anything, so-"
"Oh, my God!" he exclaimed and rolled his eyes. "Would you just let me say it?"
"All right?" I said warily.
"You look beautiful today."
Well, this certainly caught me off guard.
"Oh," was my ever-so eloquent answer.
"And by 'today', I mean all the time."
How in the world was I supposed to respond to this? Was he expecting a compliment in return? Bugger, I was so very bad at these kind of things!
"I-I, ehm-" was all I was able to say, but luckily Tristan cut me off.
"And I think you're handling this situation beautifully as well."
My eyes started filling. Stupid hormonal rollercoaster...
"So you don't think I'm a hormonal mess?"
He hesitated for a bit, and scratched his neck again. "...No. No, not at all."
"Thanks, Tristan," I said and threw my arms around him, giving him a tight hug. I guess I was having an out of body experience... I was normally not the hugging kind.
I pulled away with a smile.
"You okay?" Tristan asked, probably shocked that I was breaking the usual space between us.
"I'm fine," I told him, and noticed my stomach rumbling. "I just need to go eat something."
"Lunch isn't served for about another thirty minutes or so," he informed me, and this was enough to push me over the metaphorical edge.
"What the fuck?!" I called out, making several students stop in their tracks. "Why does bad things always happen to good people?!" I delivered this last line with much feeling, and probably resembling an overly dramatic Shakespearian actress.
"I-I don't know," Tristan stuttered, and began fumbling through his bag. "But I do have some sandwiches here," he took out a lunch box and opened it, revealing two moutwatering sandwiches. "I always carry some extra food in case I-"
"That's so kind of you, Tristan," I said in a choked manner, almost not managing to hold back the tears of gratitude. "You're such a sweetheart."
And with that I grabbed the lunch box, kissed him on the cheek and began wobbling away.
"Well, let's not discount the possibility of being a hormonal mess altogether..." Tristan said under his breath, just low enough for me not to hear him.
"Did you say so something?" I asked after turning around, my mouth was full of the ham and cheese sandwich, and I was perfectly content.
"Yes, ehm, I said 'See you in class'," he said, and gave me a strange sort of smile.
"Alright, see you later." I smiled back and walked along while taking one gigantic bite of the sandwich after another.
Sooooooo sorry about the wait, guys!! I've just been really busy with work and other such trivial matters :/ And, oh, getting myself a boyfriend(!), teehee^^ So I've been spending some time with that as well, I suppose...
Well, anyways -- what do you thing of this chapter? Was it a good follow-up chapter to the last one? And to the (few of you) Tristan/Del shippers out there, do you have any thoughts on this last part of the chappie? ;)
I know a lot of you are rooting for Chase/Adella, and are probably furious with me for excluding him in this chappie, but yeah...
There's a LOT happening from now on when it comes to Adella's love life - so stay tuned!
Who would you want our heroine to end up with? :)
Thanks for reading, my dears!
All my love,