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Expecting Otherwise by majamariamaja
Chapter 20: Lost & Found
Chapter 20. Lost & Found
There's a sense of comfortable numbness that comes with being hurt. It's a relief which appears after the worst pain has subsided a bit, and all you're really left with is your own self.
Or, in my case, me and the two human beings currently inhabiting my belly. This fact didn't necessarily make anything the slightest bit better, though. As a matter of fact, I felt more alone than ever.
And I didn't handle loneliness quite as well as one would hope.
This was one of the moments where I would, if I were at home that is, stock up with five buckets of ice cream and snuggle into a blanket while watching Titanic on repeat.
It would resemble a catatonic state to the viewers of my little self-pitying ritual, with the mechanical throwing of ice cream into my trap, and constant sobbing at every line either Leo og Kate delivered on the screen.
At the very last scene of the movie - it didn't matter how many times I watched it - it always ended with me curled up in a fetal position dehydrated and hyperventilating. Most likely with the spoon hanging out of my mouth as I tortured myself with the thought that I would never ever find love. Not the sort of love that these two fictional characters had now so tragically lost, anyway.
In short, I felt doomed that I'd go through life as a loveless, old, bitter spinster. Collecting porcelain dolls and ignoring the phone calls from my grown-up kids.
Right now, I believed it more than ever before.
The image was clear before me.
And suddenly I decided something.
I decided to not try to get a boyfriend again until I'm eighty. At eighty years old I will grudgingly allow myself the occational shag with a slightly younger gentleman who cruises around in a wheelchair. And he will take me out for Sunday afternoon drives in said wheelchair, and we'll cheerfully give the finger to the brats who races past us on their shiny bicycles.
I hate bicycles.
Never learned how to ride one either. The idea of trusting my life to a pair of wobbly two-inch rubber circles?! No, thank you. I prefer the wheelchair. Wheelchairs are sturdy and comfortable, and that's all I have to say about that.
The image of the eighty-year old me rolling around happily on the lap of a man in a wheelchair was oddly comforting, and I was glad to finally feel something other than despair or emptiness.
Maybe people were right about this 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'-nonsense.
Bullocks. How I hated being corrected. Especially by Deuce. I guess I owed him an apology for going off on him before... Nah. Ignorance is bliss.
Oh, I guess I'd forgotten to mention that little tidbit.
Well, Deuce had lately taken it upon himself to cheer me up. Needless to say, it had the complete opposite effect. His happiness was a constant slap in my face. Karma was a fickle, unfair bitch who apparently favoured man whores instead of poor, pregnant teens.
And why wasn't Chase the one with this mission, you ask? Because he had apparently had a Freaky Friday-swap with his twin, and was now too busy trying to chat up random chicks. Yes, you heard correct; Chase Zabini was in the early stages of the Zabini curse. He was more interested in flirting with blondies with inappropriately high heels, than comforting his pregnant best friend.
Whenever I brought up this change of behaviour, Clover simply tuned me out, and swiftly changed the subject. I knew that she knew something. But no matter how much I nagged her, she claimed she had no idea what I was talking about.
That blonde minx was up to something.
She and I were currently in the library, having a whispered conversation by the window. She had, once again, changed the direction of our talk from Chase's whorish tendencies(I am over-exaggerating but I do not care), to her favourite subject: Deuce and Jade.
"All I'm saying is," she said matter-of-factly, "I don't think that Deuce and Jade have anything in common."
"I don't know," I muttered, my quill flying across the parchment as I wrote my essay for Transfiguration. "They seem to have a shared interest in each other's tonsils."
"But she's so...weird," she said lamely. "I mean, it doesn't even look like she's enjoying his company!"
I rolled my eyes.
"Just because she's not like you, it doesn't mean she isn't 'enjoying his company', Clo," I told her.
"What is that supposed to mean?" she hissed.
"Even though you would most likely jump for joy, and sing lovey-dovey songs 24/7 if the roles were reversed, you cannot automatically assume that she will do the same."
Clover huffed, and returned to her own essay. Hers was about half as long as mine, and I could see she was struggling to continue.
"She's too smart, too," she suddenly commented, piercing the parchment with her quill.
"Too smart?" I questioned as I raised an eyebrow at her. "How can anyone be too smart?"
"They just can," was her argument. I raised the other eyebrow at this. "And she thinks she's like sooo much better than everyone else because of it."
"She is much better than anyone else," I said. "She's got like Os in everything."
"You're smarter than her, but you're not all high and mighty. She is."
"What you're saying is that Deuce is dumber than her," I said after a moment of silence. "And that this is another thing they haven't got in common. But you know what? And I'll deny it if you repeat this to anyone. Deuce is smarter than we give him credit for. He is amazing at Arithmacy, he really is. He just... He just makes stupid decisions in life and generally acts like an incompetent arse."
Clover endured my spiel with complete silence, and I wondered if she'd even heard me. After several minutes of this, I sighed in thought.
"But just think..." I began, "Deuce and the smart girl. Can you imagine if they ever have kids?" Clo's body had a spasm. At least now I had her attention again. "And if they got Jade's intelligence, and Deuce's raw, sexual magnetism... Those nerds would get laid."
Clover glared at me for a solid three minutes after that speech.
"So," she finally said. Her evil, hazel eyes in slits. "When were you planning on telling me about the kiss?"
I cocked my head to the side, completely oblivious to what she was referring to.
"Que?" I said, but then shook my head. I was not going to start speaking Spanglish like my Dad had gotten into the habit of doing. Heath was actually picking up on it too. I really should make an effort to be with him more, by the way... "I mean, what?"
"About the kiss," Clo repeated. "Between you...and Chase."
Victoire Weasley herself(FYI, she is the drama queen of the family) could not have produced a more elaborate and extremely loud gasp than I had just performed. Madam Pince was probably having a seizure.
"I beg your pardon!" I hissed rather loudly.
"Oh, don't play that game with me!" Clo hissed back. "I know what happened! Chase told me."
"Totally, totally not true!" I insisted, limbs twitching under Clo's glare.
"Do not lie to me, Adella Marie Malfoy-Granger!"
Wow, she was middle-naming me. Shit just got serious.
I swallowed hard, but was not ready to admit my sins just yet. I needed to deny some more.
"I wasn't kissing him - absolutely not!" I squeaked. "The idea is preposterous!" I guess I was enunciating too forcefully, cause some spit shot out of my mouth. It landed on Clover's forehead. She was not happy about that. "M-My lips were simply telling his lips a secret."
"First of all," Clo said, demonstratively drying away the spit, "you need to be more in control of your saliva. Secondly... Just fess up. And spare me the pretense of acting offended. I know you tend to do that."
True. I did do that.
"How long have you known?" I asked in shaky whispers.
"Does it matter?"
It really didn't. I just didn't know what else to say.
"Did Bray ever find out?" Not that I cared what he thought of me(I had my suspicions that he'd been doing some smushing behind my back, so he deserved it), but I seriously feared for Chase's well-being. He'd be turned into a pulp if this ever reached Bray...wherever he was hiding.
"Only you, then?"
"I think so."
I hid my face in my hands and massaged my temples.
"How did it even happen?" Clo asked after a few moments of silence. "You're totally not the type to do such a thing."
"I don't know... It kinda just happened," I answered truthfully. There was no other way of explaining it. But Clo wasn't satisfied with this answer, and tapped her quill impatiently against the desk. "It was all that Valentine's Day crap. It got to our heads, I guess. You know, I seriously have my suspicions that they put something into the pumpkin juice that morning just to mess with people's sanity. I mean, what else would-"
I shut up. My jaw closed with a snap.
"It happened again on Valentine's Day?!"
I rarely use that word. Mum had taught me better than that. But I think this was one of those times where this word was the only word in the English vocabulary that could possibly describe such a situation.
"You didn't know about Valentine's Day?" I questioned in a meek voice.
"Is this the face of a girl in the know?!" Clo sputtered, eyes almost popping out of their sockets.
"Well," I said, clearing my throat and looking away. "This is awkward..."
"You don't say!" she wheezed. She was, in all seriousness, panting. "How could you do that to him?!"
"What?" I looked up at her. "Why do you make it sound like I was the one initiating those kisses? It was all him, I'll tell you that much."
"Oh, you totally went along with it. Admit it."
"How could you put him in that position, Adella? How can you use someone like that? I mean," she took a quick breath before continuing," I know you've been neglected in the love department because of Bray's idiot-ness, but by the love of Harry's lightening scar, why did you go and compromise your friendship?!"
"Don't you sit there and yell at me for something you don't even know a shit about, Clearmont," I replied, full of fury. "You weren't there, you don't get to have an opinion on a subject you've got no business sticking your nose into. Chase is fine. I am fine. So don't-"
"Chase is not fine, and you know it!" she interrupted angrily. "He's been distancing himself from the group and adopted his brother's fucked up way of coping with life. And now I finally know why: He's been used, just like I have been by Deuce. And I know how that feels!"
"Those two situations are entirely different!"
"No, they are not."
"Yes, they are."
"No!" Clo spat. "They are not! You have just used him for your own personal satisfaction, stealing what intimacy that's been lacking from your life the past months. Using him and then acting as if it's never happened. But then again, that's what you do."
"I do not do that!"
Lies. I do do that.
"Yes, you do. Just like Deuce did to me. Only, what you did was worse, cause he's your best friend. Not me, like you're claiming. It's him. You tell him things that's bothering you, things like being pregnant or what you're scared of." She draws a deep breath. "Things you should've told me."
I swallowed. I did not have a response to this.
"You know, he talked about you as though you were the inventor of Butterbeer or something," Clo randomly informed me. "Before, that is."
I felt she was hinting at something. But Clo couldn't hint worth shit, and I couldn't guess worth shit either.
"So you're saying it is my fault Chase is depressed and whoring around these days? You're really going to put all the blame on your eight months pregnant friend?"
Clover studied me with cold eyes for a second before opening her mouth. "Yes."
I nod, trying to force away the tears that was pressing beneath my eyelids.
"I don't need to listen to this shit," I muttered as I gathered my stuff and walked away. I noticed Madam Pince was dozing off in her regular seat. I guess she was becoming soft in her old age.
I needed to get away. Somewhere that nobody would find me.
My feet were taking me forward, but I had no idea where I'd end up. I found myself walking upwards, climbing up the stairs until I reached the Astronomy Tower. I hadn't been there in forever, and found the unfamiliar feeling quite compelling.
I had been standing out under the stars(it had somehow become past nine, to my surprise) for about ten minutes before I realised I was shivering with cold. The rough wind cut through my thin sweater, and yet I didn't make any move to leave my place.
I breathed in the night air, calming the urge to sob like a spoiled brat being denied pastries before dinner. A few tears managed to escape though, but I forefully wiped them away.
"You shouldn't be out here," I heard someone behind me say calmly. I must've jumped three feet in the air, giving a startled sqeal as I did. When I turned around I found Chase leaning agains a pillar. "It's pretty cold, and you don't have a cloak on."
Seeing Chase sent me back to the library where Clo lectured me about using him. Had I really done that? Had I taken advantage of his kind nature just to quench my need for human affection?
"I-I hadn't planned on coming up here," I explained lamely.
Chase pushed away from the pillar and walked up next to me. I shivered again, and rubbed my arms with my hands to warm myself up. It didn't help. Chase noticed this and quickly took off his cloak. I was about to turn down his offer, but he didn't wait for my response, he simply put it over my shoulders without saying a word.
"Thanks," I whispered.
"Not a problem," he replied, looking out into the darkness. We stood side by side for a while, staring into nothingness, not uttering a single syllable for quite some time.
"It's been a while since we've talked," Chase said, stating the obvious.
"Yeah," I agreed.
"How are you?"
I snorted, but then bit my tongue. I didn't have the right to burden him with my problems. Especially considering how I was most likely the reason to why he was acting so strange nowadays.
"Fine," I lied. Chase looked at me from the corner of his eye, his hands in his pockets.
"You don't seem fine," he observed.
I sighed and closed my eyes. He'd always had the ability to look straight through me.
"Okay, so I'm not fine. Not at all. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
Chase shrugged before turning his eyes back in front of him. "At least it's the truth."
"Well, the truth sucks..."
He shrugged again. He seemed to be thinking hard about something for a while before initiating another conversation.
"You know, I've been wondering about something..." he told me, digging his sparkling eyes into mine.
"You're constantly angry and depressed, and..."
"Well, aren't pregnant women supposed to be, you know... Happy? At least some of the time?"
He didn't just say that.
"So I'm not jolly enough for you?" I ask in a deadly voice.
"You're just so on edge, like, without pause, and-"
"Well, that's an interesting notion. And you know what?" Prepare yourself for a monologue. "You tell me how happy you'd be after a morning of hurling out your intestines, walking around in general discomfort, hormones raging so violently that it puts thirteen year olds to shame, having people stare and point wherever you go, some of them even pitying you. And on top of it all carry around the fear and dread of knowing that someday soon you will have to squeeze a bloody melon out of a hole the size of your nostril! Or in my case two!"
"So excuse me for not going around farting sunsine and throwing fucking flower petals around as I sing 'Oh Happy day', because it's not happy day. It's crappy day. Actually, crappy would be a step up from the shithole I currently reside in."
The wind howled in my ears, and I viciously dried away the angry tears that had fallen during my speech.
He is mocking me, I thought and bit my lower lip to refrain from lashing out at him again.
"No really," he continued, "I'm sorry." His tender eyes melted my anger away, and replacing it was a surprising amount of vulnerability and sadness. Chase caught my shift of emotions and stepped slowly towards me, stretched out his hand and carefully touched my shoulder.
Words escaped me. I wanted so badly to thank him. Thank him for, even though I had just screamed at him for a solid five minutes, he still had the heart to comfort me. But I didn't seem able to open my mouth. Emotions were running too high, and I bet that if I forced myself to say anything, it would have been nothing more than high-pitched sobs and incoherent attempts at making my gratitude clear.
Chase suddenly let his hand fall to his side and coughed as he turned away from me.
"So," he said, and it was obvious that he was going to change the subject. "What are you doing for the rest of the night?"
"I'm going to put this day out of its misery," I said after taking a few calming breaths. "Why do you ask?"
Without meaning to, a question that I didn't even know I had wondered about popped into mind.
"Do you know where Bray has run off to?"
I felt Chase stiffen beside me.
"You guys didn't have like a special hang-out?" I questioned. "Someplace he'd be out of reach?"
"No." He scratched his neck. "Why do you ask?"
"I sort of worry about him. Out there. Alone."
"After what he did to you I would've though you'd hate his very existence." He exhaled, creating a cloud of smoke in the icy air. "I know I do."
That's right. The last time he saw Bray he smashed his face in.
I hadn't even thanked him for that. How horrible was I? A guy defended my honour and actually got injured, and I didn't even deign myself to thank him?
"Thanks for that, by the way," I said, but the words sounded so empty. "For doing what you did."
"Anyone would've done the same-"
"No," I interrupted, taking his hand. It was oddly warm. "No, they wouldn't. Thank you. For doing it."
He glanced at me from the corner of his eye.
"Of course. He needed to be knocked down a peg or two, and I needed to be the one doing the knocking."
"Can I ask you something?" He looked at me with both eyes now, and I nervously removed my hand from his as I nodded. "What's going on between you and that Hufflepuff?"
I scrunched my brows.
"The one you're sitting with in HR. The Keeper. You know, the blonde guy with the gay name."
I rolled my eyes. "Tristan isn't a gay name."
"It kinda is."
"Anyways," he began, scratching his neck again. "What's going on between you two? You seem very...friendly."
"Well, that may be because we're friends," I jokingly answered, but Chase curved a brow. I sighed. "Nothing's going on."
"He fancies you, you know," he told me out of the blue. I let out a laugh at this.
"He absolutely does not."
"Totally does. He makes these pathetic googly-eyes whenever you're near. Even though you're the most depressing person to be around these days."
Chase laughed. "You know what I mean. He's so smitten that he simply cannot see other than sunshine coming out your arse."
"That was a strangely disgusting thing to say." I wrinkled my nose. "You know, some things just aren't meant to be verbalized."
Chase chuckled under his breath, but then got that serious look in his dark eyes again. "So...why isn't there anything going on between the two of you? Is he, like his name suggests, as gay as the day is long?"
"No, he is not," I told him as I rolled my eyes. "And besides... I'm not ready to jump into a new relationship right now. And then there's that small detail about me being a package deal. Who'd want me? I'd just complicate the poor bastard."
"What if the poor bastard would want more complication in his life?"
I gazed into Chase's pensive eyes.
"Then I'd never let him go," I finally whispered. "But it'd take quite some time for me to trust that the guy wouldn't leave, though. I'm sort of messed up after the whole Brayder debacle." I sighed heavily and shifted my eyes up into the starry sky. "I fear he'd have to prove himself in some very strange ways, too..."
"How? What do you mean 'strange'?"
"Like..." I felt redness creep into my cheeks, and was glad of the darkness surrounding us. "Okay, I know it's quite pathetic, but ever since I first saw Beauty and the Beast, I've had this fantasy that a guy would some day give me a library. For the longest time, that was the sort of expectations I had for a future boyfriend, thinking that only then would I fall in love." I paused as I smiled shyly up at Chase. "Well, that's a forever ago now... I forgot about it for a long time, but now that I'm once again single, I can't help but feel that I could never be with someone unless they gave me a library." I chuckled. "And yes, I am aware that it's extravagant and deeply disturbing, but that's how I feel."
"Bray royally fucked up your perception of reality," was Chase's reply to this information.
"That he did," I agreed.
I shivered from the cold once again, and this time Chase insisted that we go to the common room. I happily consented.
And when I got into the dorm and crawled into bed(ignoring how Clo was missing, tuning out Ayla's rock music blaring through her headphones and smiling at Kat's snores) I immediately fell asleep.
I had Chase back. I didn't even know how much his absence had bothered me until the moment my head hit the pillow and I felt my mind finally at peace.
Not that much going on in this chappy, but at least it's something, right?
And I just wanted to say to everyone that I am truly grateful for you who are still following this story. I am very honoured to have such amazing readers, and I just wanted to let you know that I really do appreciate you all :')
Oh, and fun-fact! Remember how I told you I have snagged myself a boyfriend now? Well, I totally forgot to tell you the most RANDOM part! His name is(and I'm still weirded out by this) *drumroll*.. Tristan. Like, seriously. I actually found a guy who shares the name of a character I've been writing for like several months. How weird is that?! And it's not like it's a common name!
But yeah. That was totally random.
Please tell me what you think of this chapter!! Did you like it at all? My mind isn't properly functioning cause I finished it while being sick and I was having a fever... But please: feedback is like candy for my soul!
Thanks for being awesome!