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Finding Faith by sour_grapes_snape

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 26
Word Count: 109,821
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Fred, Teddy, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Victoire, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/OC, Teddy/Victoire

First Published: 03/20/2012
Last Chapter: 02/10/2013
Last Updated: 02/10/2013

Summary:
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When grief is a constant factor in you life, opening up to people can be a little difficult. In fact, it's utterly impossible, so you shut them out instead. And no one, not even James Potter, can change that. But then again, sometimes you just need to find a little faith.
 
 
 
 


Chapter 22: Nothing
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I’m not sure how long I sat in that corridor, my head still hung between my knees. The tears ran dry after a while – they always do – though I continued to shake uncontrollably for quite some time after that. Other students, and perhaps teachers, passed by me throughout the day, but none attempted to speak to me. I doubt I looked very welcoming.


 

          My stomach rumbled, protesting its empty state. I could almost feel it shrinking as time went on. It definitely didn’t help that I’d walked out on breakfast early and had been eating only sparingly for a while now. But I didn’t have the energy to get up, let alone the will. I just wanted to sit there and… drown in despair, I suppose. I’d lost all my capacity to care about, well, anything. Nothing mattered anymore.


 

          Time passed. It always does. I could feel every agonizing second as it slipped away, cutting into my skin like a million tiny papercuts. It was a slow sort of pain, something that never quite faded and was constantly increasing. I had thought that I had felt the worst pain in my life after Joy died. I had thought nothing could make me feel even more terrible than that. I had thought wrong.


 

          I wasn’t sure why things were so much worse this time. Joy had been my entire life for ten years. James had only become important to me in November. But as I considered it, it made sense. Because James had started to heal me. Being with him like I was had eased the sting of Joy’s loss. But when James left me, it brought back every harsh reality he had pushed out of my head. My Joy was gone. And so was my James.


 

          There was also the fact that this time, no one could tell me it wasn’t my fault.


 

          I had always, in some corner of my mind, blamed myself for Joy’s death. I knew it wasn’t rational, but grief never is. In my head, I should have been able to stop her from dying. In my head, it should have been me.


 

          And what good is magic, anyway, if it couldn’t even prevent a simple Muggle disease? What was the point in me being the one who could do magic if I couldn’t even use it to save my sister? Wizards and Muggles have been coexisting – albeit secretly – for how long, and yet no one ever thought to try and help them?

 
 

          I sank my head deeper into my hands, rubbing my temples. I was a mess, a broken, shattered mess. And this time, there was no one around to fix me.


 

          At some point, I managed to drag myself away from that corridor. I didn’t go to any classes that day. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to go to any the next day. I had no will to do… anything, really. I just wanted to lie down and drown in my sorrows.


 

          I was lying in my bed in Ravenclaw Tower, the hangings drawn up around me. I had been there since shortly before dinner, I think. It was later now, though. I could hear my roommates, moving around, speaking in hushed tones. They knew I was here. None of them tried to talk to me, though. I doubt I really seemed all that welcoming right now.


 

          As I closed my eyes, my hearing sharpened enough to pick up a few of the words that were being muttered. I caught “Val,” “James,” and then “heartless.” Suddenly I felt angry. They were talking about me? I rolled over onto my stomach, annoyance radiating out of me. Like they were all perfect.


 

          In fact, the more I thought about it, the more enraged I became. I had just lost the most important thing in my life – hell, I had lost everything – and those girls had the nerve to sit there and talk about it?


 

          I yanked the bed hangings aside, a glare on my face. Everyone froze and looked at me. Lessie and Rhiannon were both shooting hard looks at each other from the corners of their eyes, Rhiannon’s arms crossed firmly over her chest like she only does when she’s upset. Jess had been watching them warily. Evie was sitting with Mallory on her bed, and their heads had been bent close together as they whispered.


 

          “If you all don’t mind,” I ground out between clenched teeth, “I think I’m going to find somewhere else to stay tonight. Then you can all continue to talk about me in peace.”


 

          I got up and to leave, walking slowly with my back held stiff. As I reached the door, I heard Lessie mutter, “Who are you going to stay with this time? I doubt James will want you back.”


 

          I faltered slightly, but continued to exit, slamming the door behind me. I felt tears prickle my eyes as I ran down the stairs. She was right. Where could I go? I doubt I was even allowed in Gryffindor Tower, let alone James’ room.


 

          I ended up going to the Astronomy Tower for the second night in a row. I glanced at the windowsill I had used as a perch on two occasions previously. I felt no desire to sit there now. Sitting down on the floor, I let my eyes slowly shut.


 

          I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, wandlight was being shone in my face. I peeled my eyelids back slowly to find Rose looking at me, clearly on Prefect rounds. I sat up quickly and we both stared at each other, both wary. I saw a mixture of anger, pity, and sadness on her face.


 

          “Anyone up there, Weasley?” I heard Scorpius Malfoy call. They did rounds together. 
 

          Rose’s blue eyes continued to gaze at me, torn. Then she cleared her throat. “No, it’s all clear.”


 

          Then, not saying a word to me, she turned and left.


 

***


 

          Somehow, I always seemed to end up in that corridor. When I wasn’t barricading myself in the library or sitting up in the Astronomy Tower, I was in that corridor when I ruined everything. I would just sit against the wall, crumpled up into the same position I had found myself in on that day.

 
 

          I would sit there for hours, doing absolutely nothing. I was doing a lot of that, actually. Nothing. I just felt so blank and empty. My anger had long since dissipated. And there was nothing left to fill its place.


 

Eventually, I felt someone slid down the wall to sit next to me. I had stopped shaking long ago, but I still continued to stare resolutely at the small stretch of floor between my feet. The person didn’t touch me or speak. They just sat there, like they were waiting.


 

          Giving in, I lifted my head to look at my visitor. My neck creaked as I straightened, stiff after being held its position for so long. Taking in the turquoise hair, I blinked in shock when I saw Teddy sitting next to me.


 

          “Ted?” I croaked, my voice thick and sore from the sobs that had worn it out so many hours previous. “What are you doing here?”


 

          “You didn’t come to class today,” he stated blandly. “And every time I saw James, he looked like he wanted to kill someone. You know that I consider the Weasleys to be my family, especially now that I’m about to marry Toire, and it seems to me that you’ve been accepted into the extended family as well. So you could say that you and I are family.”


 

          “If you want to look at it like that,” I whispered. I didn’t tell him that the Weasley family wouldn’t be considering my family for much longer.


 

          “I do,” Teddy said, nodding. “Now why don’t you tell me why you’re slumped over in this corridor?”


 

          I laughed weakly. “Because I’m stupid. I am so stupid. It’s almost funny, how truly stupid I am.”


 

          Teddy continued to nod, reminding me vaguely of a bobble head doll. “Coming from my brightest student, that’s not something I really expected to hear.”
 

          “Yeah, well, there’s a lot you don’t know, Ted.”


 

          “So tell me.”


 

          What was the point? Talking about it wouldn’t change anything. That’s what I’ve always said. Talking about Joy doesn’t make her any less dead. And telling Teddy about my fight with James won’t undo it. But then again, what do I really have to lose? James was right. I have nothing.

 
 

          “I had a fight with James,” I sighed, the words stinging even as I said them. “A bad fight. I said some things… bad things. I was so stupid.”


 

          “What did you say?” Teddy asked, true concern in his expression. But I just shook my head.


 

          “Bad things. I shouldn’t have said them. They weren’t true, any of them. I was just so mad…”


 

          “I’m sure James will forgive you if you just talk to him,” he tried to assure me. I just shook my head.

 
 

          “No. No he won’t. He hates me now, Ted. And it’s all my fault.”


 

          Teddy sighed. “Val, I don’t think James could hate you if he tried. He’s been crazy about you for ages. Trust me, he doesn’t hate you.”


 

          “Yes he does,” I said stubbornly. “He hates me. And he should. It’s what I deserve. I deserve to be miserable. I deserve to have nothing. I have nothing, Teddy. Because now James hates me.”


 

          “Look,” Teddy said, irritation clearly showing in his voice. “This whole pity party you have going on? It needs to stop. This isn’t like you. Not only are you my student, but I also consider you to be a friend. And you aren’t acting like yourself.”


 

          I just looked at him, feeling dead inside. “But I don’t know who I am. I can’t act like myself because I don’t know who or what that is. All my life, I’ve been utterly dependent on other people. Joy or James. Now I have no one. I have nothing.”


 

          Teddy stood up. “Then figure it out.”


 

          We walked away and I dropped my head back to my knees. I was alone again.


 

***


 

          I pretty much ended up isolating myself to either my dorm – when it was empty or everyone was asleep – the Astronomy Tower, or the library. I would get up extremely early to eat breakfast and go to dinner at the last minute when there was little to no people. Because of the timings, I didn’t really get to eat much, but that really wasn’t a problem because I had no appetite. I would skip lunch entirely.


 

          It’s been a week since my fight with James. A long, excruciatingly terrible week. I don’t even want to stop and figure out how many times I’ve randomly burst into tears. The thing is that I want to apologize. I really do. Those words I shouted at James… I feel sick just thinking about them. There was a reason I didn’t want to tell Teddy. I don’t think I’ve ever been more ashamed in my entire life. The problem was, every time James sees me, he turns and walks in the other direction. And I’m too bloody scared to chase after him.


 

          I watch him sometimes, when he doesn’t notice. It sounds kind of creepy, but I can’t help it. He’s not happy. Not at all. He storms through the corridors like a thundercloud, ready to lash out anyone who even remotely annoys him. I don’t like it. James is supposed to be cheerful and optimistic. He’s not acting like my James.


 

          I know I should just suck up my fear and tell him I’m sorry, but I just… can’t. Because he’s better off without me. He may be angry at the moment – and rightfully so – but once he gets over it, he’ll realize how much worse I made his life. And then he’ll be happy. Happy like I’ll never be.


 

          I have no one now. My bloody family abandoned me and I have absolutely no friends now. Or anyone who wants to be in my presence, really. Lessie glares at me every time she sees me, though I could care less about her. Jessamy has made herself scarce. I see Rhiannon watching me from time to time, an odd expression on her face, but she hasn’t actually spoken to me either. Every other person in the school avoids me. And then there’s the Potters and the Weasleys.
 

          I have to hand it to them all, they certainly know a thing or two about family loyalty. The morning after the fight, Lily sought me out and told me I was a bitch. I kind of deserved that. Fred watches me with the same expression Rhiannon does, which is ridiculously appropriate considering they’re dating. Rose, though she shoot me sympathetic glances from time to time, refuses to actually associate with me. Everyone else glares and avoids me. But I think the worst blow came from Albus.


 

          The middle Potter child became something of a younger brother to me this year. He’s an adorable kid, he really is. I grew exceedingly fond of him during the course of the tutoring. Which is why is rejection of me stung quite a bit. I suppose I should probably be numb to the pain by now, though. But I’m not.


 

          I saw him in the library two days after the… incident. He was sitting alone, doing homework. I had passed close by to him to see what it was. He had been working on an essay for Defense Against the Dark Arts and was clearly struggling a bit. I had taken a deep breath and tapped him on the shoulder, wondering how he’d react.


 

          His inquisitive look had flattened the second he turned around and saw it was me. He hadn’t said a word, merely raised an eyebrow to silently question my presence. I had offered to help him in a rather shaky voice, I’m embarrassed to admit. I had been afraid of his answer. With good reason.


 

          His voice had been harsh when he’d answered. His exact words still floated around in my brain, even five days after. I don’t think it’s I’ll forget easily.


 

          His hands had been clenched into fists when he’d begun telling me off. “You’re probably the last person on earth I’d accept help from at the moment,” he’d begun. “You really have nerve, you know. My brother cared about you and you destroyed him. You were out of line and you were a fucking bitch. Before, I though you and him would have been good together – hell, everyone in the entire school thought that! But now I’m glad you two never got together. Because you definitely don’t deserve him. So just stay away from James. And stay away from me, too, for that matter.”


 

          I’d nodded once and walked away. There wasn’t really anything else I could’ve done. I did cry about it later, though. Not that that’s all that unexpected. Crying is all I seem to be doing lately. I think James told me I was the strongest person he knew, at one point. He was wrong.


 

          I’m weak. I am so weak. I’m an emotional cripple. I can’t function without someone to lean on. I had always considered myself a rather independent person. By choice, I’d held myself back from really truly befriending anyone. I’d thought that if I held myself at least slightly aloof, it would I wouldn’t get hurt. It would mean I was strong. But it didn’t make me strong. The loneliness had weighed down on me – much like it is now – to the point that I was knocked to ground the second James had started pushing at my barriers. I’d compensated for that by befriending James. I had been a fool. I still am.

 
 

          Do you know that phrase? Life sucks and then you die? It’s true.


 

***


 

James Potter POV


 

          Do you know that phrase? Life sucks and then you die? It’s true.


 

          Because if I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t think my life has ever sucked more than it does now. And it bloody pisses me off.


 

          Do you know that feeling you get when you just know that something terrible is going to happen? That awful, gut-wrenching premonition that things are just going to go horribly wrong? Savor it. Because most people think, while they have that feeling, that it is just so awful that they’d rather have the terrible thing happen, just to get it over with. Those people are wrong. Because there is no feeling in the world than when everything takes a jarring turn for the worst.


 

          I knew that something big was going to happen between Val and I. I’d have to be an idiot not to see it coming. It was obvious. The tension, the awkwardness… it was all just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. And I really wish it hadn’t.


 

          I don’t think I’ve ever felt so angry in my life as I did when I started yelling at Val. But if I was being perfectly honest with myself, I knew I was just hiding behind the anger. I was using it as a shield, just like Val used false happiness. Because in truth, I was just hurt. And I hated it.


 

          “James?”


 

          I looked up at the sound of Fred’s voice. He was looking at me with an inscrutable look on his face. He’d been looking at me like that for the past week. I was sick of that, too.


 

          “What do you want, Freddy?” I sighed. “Don’t you have Potions right now?”


 

          “Finished early. Teresa Walsh accidentally overturned her potion, so Sluggy had us all go early,” he explained, dropping down into the armchair next to me.


 

          I merely grunted in response. I didn’t really feel like talking to anyone. Talking was overrated. I always told Val she should talk more. Just look where that got me.


 

          “You know, you are exceptionally irritating when you’re pissy,” Fred commented lightly. “Or scary, depending on whom you ask. I think those first years that ran away from you yesterday would choose the latter.”


 

          “Are you trying to be funny?” I asked him in annoyance.


 

          “No, I never try to be funny. It just come naturally,” he replied easily. I rolled my eyes.


 

          “Hilarious, Fred,” I deadpanned. “Really, very witty. How do you do it?”


 

          “Remember what I just said about being irritating? You’re doing it again.”


 

          I glared at him. That was actually kind of offensive. “Terribly sorry. Would you like me to start skipping around and singing in joy? I think I can arrange that.”


 

          “I don’t think that would really help much,” Fred said hesitantly.


 

          I scoffed. “I know. We all know what a mess is made when people pretend to be happy even when they’re not.”

 
 

          “And there we go,” Fred said eagerly. “We managed to broach the real topic I wanted to discuss much faster than I expected.”


 

          “Don’t know what you’re talking about,” I responded breezily. I’ve already stated my views on talking. And talking about that is definitely last on the list.


 

          “Don’t play dumb. How stupid do you think I am? I’ve had enough of you acting like you’re going to eat anyone who crosses you. So stop it. Just stop. And I know it would put both of us in danger of losing our Man Cards, but you honestly just need to talk about this. And that’s what I’m here for.”


 

          “You can just leave then,” I told him irately. “Because I’m not going to talk about it.”


 

          “I can wait all day,” Fred sang. I flinched.


 

          “Don’t do that,” I said. “Seriously, hasn’t your singing scarred the entire family enough in the past?”


 

          He snapped his fingers. “Aha, that’s right, you’re the singer in the family, aren’t you? You wrote that song for –“


 

          “Don’t say it,” I cut in.
 

          “Say what?”
 

          I glared at him. “Now you’re the one playing dumb. You know what I’m talking about.”


 

          “No, really, I have no idea what you mean,” Fred said innocently. “Tell me, James, what is it I shouldn’t say?” 
 

          “Just be quiet.”


 

          “Hal? Cal? Shall? Am I close?”


 

          “Drop it.”


 

          “Pal? Sal? Zal? Oh, wait. It started with a ‘v’ didn’t it? Her name is V-“


 

          “Shut up!” I shouted. “Can’t you just leave it alone? Clearly, this is not something I want to talk about!”


 

          Fred stared at me, his face impassive. “Val.”


 

          I threw a pillow at him and sank my head into my hands. I was pathetic. Utterly pathetic. This… this girl had turned me into a mess. How could she do this? I’m James Freaking Potter. I’m better than this. I have the biggest family in the school. I’m captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I’m the most sought after guy in the school! And I’m… I’m… totally in love with a girl who doesn’t and never will feel the same.


 

          “I miss her,” I moaned in defeat, not lifting my head. I felt Freddy’s hand clap me on the shoulder.


 

          “I know you do, mate,” he said gently. “I’m just glad you can admit it.”


 

          “Not interrupting, am I?” came a girl’s voice. We both looked up and saw Fred’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.


 

          “Go ahead and sit down,” Fred said smiling at her. I shot him a look. Okay, so he goes through all this trouble of making me think of Val and then invites his girlfriend – who isn’t even a Gryffindor and shouldn’t really be in our common room – to sit with us. That makes a lot of sense.


 

          The curly-haired Ravenclaw examined me for a moment. “How are you, James?”


 

          Er… “I’m fine.”


 

          She shook her head. “No you’re not.

 

          What? Jeez, talk about being blunt. What is with this girl? “Yes. I am.”


 

          Fred snorted. “Mate, don’t lie. Ann sees everything.”


 

          “Ann?”


 

          “It’s what he calls me,” Rhiannon said. “Apparently my full name is too long for his tiny brain to comprehend.”


 

          I think I like this girl. She’s got a sense of humor. It kind of reminds me of… 
 

          Nope. Not thinking about her. It’s bad enough that Rhiannon is actually one of her friends. Or at least was. I’m not really sure. And I don’t care. Nope. Not at all. I don’t care.


 

          Except, I do care. And I hate it.


 

          “You think it’s weird to be talking to me because I’m friends with Val,” Rhiannon said. It wasn’t even a question. She stated it like she knew it was a fact.

 
 

          I gaped at her. She shrugged. “Like Fred said, I see things. I think that if people took a moment to stop and really watch those around them, we’d all understand each other much better. But most people get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and never take a moment to hit pause and really observe what goes on around them.”


 

          “How philosophical,” I murmured. She shrugged again.


 

          “Anyways,” she said, “Fred asked me to come talk to you because –“


 

          “Wait,” I interrupted. I turned to Fred. “You asked your girlfriend to talk to me? About what?”


 

          “Val,” he said simply. “I know you don’t want to, but it’s something you need to talk about. And I can’t think of a better person.”


 

          I stared up at the ceiling in exasperation. “This is ridiculous.”


 

          “Is it?” Fred asked. “C’mon, James, would it really hurt to talk to Ann, one Val expert to another?”


 

          “Expert?” I snorted in derision. “Would you really call her an expert? I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Val complain. Believe me, one topic was how none of her friends or family ever noticed anything about her.”

 
 

          Fred glared at me, apparently upset that I’d insulted his girlfriend, but this time I really didn’t care. I’m mad. I can upset whoever I damn well please.


 

          Rhiannon, however, seemed to ignore it. “I know you’re angry, James. You have a right to be. But I also know that, above everything, you’re hurt. You devoted yourself to Val and you really, really helped her. And she just threw it all back in your face.”


 

          “Exactly,” I mumbled in agreement.


 

          “And the really sad thing is, you were really good for her. You made such a difference in her life. I was always afraid to push her, because I didn’t want her to snap. But you weren’t. You broke down the walls she’d built around herself. That was something I could never do,” Rhiannon said, almost talking to herself. I felt a momentary spark of confusion at her words.

 
 

          “Wait, what? What do mean? Are… are you saying you knew?”


 

          “That Val’s twin sister had died?” she asked. “No. But did I know that something was wrong and she wasn’t actually happy? Yes. I figured it out sometime during third year.”


 

          I couldn’t do anything but stare, my mouth hanging open. She’d known? Seriously? “You knew… and you did nothing? What kind of a friend are you?”


 

          That was rude. I knew that. But at this point in my life, I’ve run out of fucks to give. Because really, what was up with that? Rhiannon has known for three years that Val was only pretending to be happy and she did nothing about it? What the hell?


 

          “Tell me, James,” she said mildly, “what happened when you first tried to confront Val about Joy? Did she respond well? Did she immediately accept that you wanted to help her? Was she perfectly willing to talk about it all with you?”


 

          “No… but I did kind of insult her a lot. Which, in hindsight, may not have been the best decision.”


 

          She smiled slightly. “Actually, I’m going to have to disagree with that. I think that was the best thing for her at the time. Which is why you were the best one to do it.”


 

          Now I was just confused. “What do you mean?”


 

          “You were actually smart in what you did,” Rhiannon explained. “You kind of shocked her, woke her up from the stupor she’d fallen into. And then you became her friend. And that, I think, is what she needed more than anything else.”


 

          I covered my face with my hands. “Yeah, well, I kind of blew that now, didn’t I?”


 

          “No,” she said fiercely, surprising me. “James, you did nothing wrong. Nothing. The reason things didn’t turn out well is because Val’s afraid.”


 

          I lifted my head. “Afraid? Of what?”


 

          “Love.”


 

          I couldn’t help it: I burst out laughing. It was just such a ridiculous concept to me. And there was no mistaking the bitter edge to my laughter. “Please. Val loved her sister so much that she ruined her entire life. She was so consumed with devotion to Joy that she gave up every chance she had to be happy. Don’t tell me that it’s love.”


 

          “But isn’t it the love for her sister that caused her the greatest pain in life?” Rhiannon persisted.


 

          I faltered for a second. “I – well, yeah. But she always talks about how much she loves Joy. How can she be afraid of love?”


 

          Rhiannon smiled sadly. “Don’t you see? It’s easy for Val to love Joy because, harsh as it may sound, Joy’s dead. She’s not changing or going anywhere. But Val also connects all the sadness in her life to her love of Joy. Because she loved her, she has hurt when Joy was gone. So in Val’s mind, loving someone opens you up to be hurt by them. It’s really not an uncommon thing for people to experience, especially after such a difficult loss. Val’s just taken it to the extremes.”

 
 

          “So what does all this have to do with me?” I asked. I felt tired. It was a sort of weariness that sat heavily in my bones, completely unconnected to sleep or exhaustion. I was just tired of everything.


 

          “Are you really that dense?” Rhiannon snorted. “James, Val is afraid of loving you. It’s been coming for a long time. Everyone around her constantly tried to convince her that you were in love with her – you were kind of obvious – but she refused to accept it. Because to her, love was something bad. And if you didn’t love her, then she wouldn’t have to worry about figuring out whether or not she loves you. And loving you was something she really didn’t want to do. But, unfortunately for her, love isn’t something you can control, so she went and fell for you anyways.”


 

          I felt tears sting in my eyes. If Rhiannon was to be believed, Val loves me, too. And that was the only thing I’d ever really wanted. But it was out of reach. Because everything was such a mess. And I really didn’t even know if it was true or not. What was I supposed to do? Run to Val and tell her how much I love her? Because that didn’t really turn out too great the first time. So what was my other option? Just sit here and do nothing, never really knowing the truth?

 
 

          Before I knew it, tears were spilling over my cheeks. I was crying. I was fucking crying. “What the fuck, am I actually crying?” I said outloud. “I am. I’m crying. What the hell is wrong with me, why am I crying? Stop it, tears. Stop. Stay in my eyes, I don’t want to cry! Stop!”


 

          I started smacking my cheeks, hoping it would force the tears back into my eyes. I know, not my smartest idea. Both Rhiannon and Fred burst into laughter and I eventually joined them. I wasn’t sure why, but it felt kind of good.


 

          After a moment, my laughter subsided. “Wait, wait, why are we laughing? I’m still mad and sad.”


 

          Fred repressed a snort at that. I suppose I did sound fairly childish, but still. I’m mad. And I’m sad. I can express that however I damn well please. I turned to Rhiannon. “So what do you think I should do?”


 

          “Nothing,” she said simply.


 

          “Nothing?”

 
 

          “Nothing.”


 

          “But why?” I don’t think I’ve ever felt more confused than I have throughout the course of this conversation with Rhiannon. How does Fred stand it?


 

          “Look, Val needs to straighten out her life. If you leave her alone, she’ll realize how much she misses you, and then she might actually go out and do something for once. Sometimes, you just have to let it be.”


 

          I nodded slowly. I suppose it made sense. But still… “It’s just that I want to talk to her, you know? But I also don’t. Because I miss her. Yet, at the same time, I can’t forget what she said. Those words she shouted at me… they keep replaying in my head, over and over. I don’t want that to happen ever again.”


 

          Rhiannon looked at me sympathetically, but there was understanding in her gray eyes. “She hurt you.”


 

          “Yeah, she did,” I said quietly. “And despite it all, I still love her. And I feel like such an unmanly pansy for talking about this.”


 

          Fred grinned. “You said it, not me.”


 

          I punched him.


 

***


 

          Later that day, I was looking for a book in the library when I saw her. She was sitting at a table, alone, books surrounding her and a look of exhaustion on her face. There were bags under her eyes and she looked pale. Well, she always looks pale, considering she’s as her skin in pretty much devoid of all color, but now it look unhealthy, almost gray. I could tell she was losing weight.


 

          I couldn’t stop the worry that spiked through me at the sight of Val. She looked terrible. I wanted to go over to her, comfort her, and try to make her better. That’s all I had been doing for months. But Rhiannon was right. I couldn’t.


 

          Val had to learn to stand on her own. She needed to find strength in herself, not from other people. Maybe she loves me, like Rhiannon said, and maybe she doesn’t. Right now, it doesn’t really matter. Because I think the thing she really needs is to love herself.

 
 

          So I won’t go over to her. I’ll stay away for as long as it takes. I’ll keep acting like I’m mad at her, even though I’m really not anymore. And we’ll see what happens from there. I can’t fix her this time, she has to fix herself. I can do nothing.


 

          Nothing. 
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 

AN

 
 

That was just depressing. Seriously. This chapter was so depressing. Did anyone else get sick of Val’s pity party? It wasn’t just me? Good.


 

You can all thank the incredibly lovely Akansha, aka Dezire_427 for the part in James’ POV. It wasn’t originally part of the plan, but after she mentioned it, I really liked the idea. It showed how he was feeling, how he would be acting for the next few chapters, and revealed that Rhiannon knew about Val’s depression early than originally planned. 
 

Yes, she knows. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?


 

Anywho, whilst writing this chapter, I came to the realization that there are a whole bunch of songs by Mumford and Sons that are ridiculously appropriate for this story. Why I didn’t figure it out before is beyond me, but better late than never, I suppose. If you visit my blog (the sight is on my Author’s Page) I’ll be posting several lyrics from some of the songs. Because my revelation must be shared!


 

So yeah, if you could all leave a review, that would be wonderful :) I’d like to thank everyone who reviewed the last chapter – it was the most I’ve ever gotten! Also, I recently posted a James/Lily short story that could use some love. Hint hint.


And yes, the line "I'm still mad and sad" is indeed from A Very Potter Musical. And "James Freaking Potter" is a reference to the song "Harry Freaking Potter" from A Very Potter Sequel. No, I am not obsessed with Starkid. I can stop any time I want to. 

 

Stay beautiful!


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