"So, why were you in detention?" I asked Sirius as we walked back to Gryffindor Tower.
"I hexed Malfoy."
"Oh. You seem to do that an awful lot," I added after a pause.
"It's great fun," he said simply.
"Sounds like it."
"Does he bother you?"
"No more than any other Gryffindor, really."
"That's quite a lot, then."
"I just ignore him."
"Next time I hex him, I'll add an extra Furnunculus curse for you."
"Next time you hex him, make sure I'm around to do it myself." He laughed.
"I can't see you hexing anyone."
"I've never done it before, actually."
"Never?" I shook my head. ^Youre missing out.^
^Ill take your word for it for now.^ We had arrived back at the portrait hole.
^Conniving Kneazles,^ Sirius gave the password, and we stepped into the common room. ^Good night!^ he called as he ascended the boys staircase.
I forced myself to enter the Great Hall the next morning, so as to make good on my agreement first thing. Then I wouldnt have to think about food for the rest of the day. I sat down and grabbed a piece of toast. Without buttering it I took a big bite, fighting the urge to gag. I knew my dad was watching, so I swallowed and took a gulp of pumpkin juice.
^Slow down, Anna,^ Carter said, laughing.
^No,^ I said through my second bite of toast. I knew if I put it down I wouldn't pick it back up. The toast was finished in record time, as was the pumpkin juice. I actually felt like I could eat a bit more; I was just noticing how hungry I really was. I put some plain scrambled eggs on my plate and ate them, a little more slowly.
^Listen, Anna, I was thinking,^ Carter began. ^We haven't seen each other in a while, and we're both free tonight. Let's meet in the Room of Requirement around seven.^ I nodded, not wanting to let him down. We hadn't seen each other for over two months, but I'd barely missed him. I felt guilty knowing that, but it was the truth.
^I'll see you there,^ I said before walking out of the Hall with Lily.
^So, you're feeling up to meeting with Carter, right?^ Lily asked quietly as we walked to Charms.
^Yes,^ I reassured her. ^I would have said no if I didn't.^ I was being a little snappy, but she was treating me funny. ^Lily,^ I began, pulling her aside. ^I know it's a little weird being around me, or whatever, but could you do your best to act normal? I know everything's not okay, but I need you as my friend, not as my nurse.^
^Alright, I'll do my best,^ she promised. ^I'm just worried-^
^I know. Everyone's worried. But worrying doesn't do anything except make me and you uncomfortable.^ She nodded.
^Normal it is.^
^Great.^ We walked the rest of the way to Charms without speaking, which wasn't exactly normal either, but it was better.
I was lucky I was so good in Charms. Although I normally got the spells on the first or second try, I was now able to struggle to do it by halfway through the class. For the remainder of the time I worked on other homework, knowing that I would be busy tonight.
I went and sat in the Hall during lunch, and even ate an apple. My dad looked very happy, and I smiled back at him when he caught my eye. The afternoon brought Ancient Runes, which was a good class for me because there was no actual magic needed. Just your brain.
Dinner rolled around, and I went up to my dorm to read. I was halfway through Anna Karenina, which I considered a great feat. Of course I'd been reading it for a long time, but it was a big book.
At around 6:30 I changed out of my uniform and put on jeans and a sweater; it wasn't that cold but I didn't want Carter to see my bruises. I arrived at the Room of Requirement at exactly 7:00.
Carter didn't even say hello before crashing his lips onto mine. I wished he'd be a little more gentle, but it still felt good. It had been a long time.
^Hey,^ he said to me when we broke away.
^Hi.^ Without further ado, he sat me on the couch and began to kiss me once more. I let myself enjoy his lips and his hands, which wandered around my back and stomach. But then he began to move my sweater up. Sighing, I pushed him off of me.
^What?^ he asked innocently.
^Carter, we've been through this.^ It was an awful lot like talking to a child.
^But that was two months ago. I thought maybe you'd reconsidered.^
^It's alright.^ we kissed a little more and then walked back to Gryffindor Tower hand in hand.
^Did you have a nice time?^ Lily asked when I walked into the dorm room.
^Eh,^ I shrugged, changing into my pajamas. ^It was alright.^
^What did you do?^
^Snogged,^ I said plainly.
^That's it.^ Lily sighed along with me; she knew I hated that Carter liked to kiss too much and talk too little.
^Well, he hasn't seen you in a long time,^ Lily offered.
^So why didn't he ask how my summer was?^
^Would you have told him?^
^No.^ Lily shrugged.
^So it doesn't really matter.^
^I guess not.^
^I don't see why you don't break up with him. You don't seem so happy around him. Not since like May of last year.^
^I know. But he's Carter. We've been friends forever. I don't want to ruin that.^
^But leading him on isn't good either.^
^I know,^ I sighed, falling into bed.
I lay awake for at least an hour, thinking about what Lily had said. But I still hadn't decided whether I still liked Carter or if I was just afraid to make a change. So I fell asleep, still undecided. I woke up the same way.