Chapter 19 : Epiphany
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I had lots of fun writing this chapter, and I hope you have as much fun reading it! I’ll be brief so you can get to the good stuff!
Disclaimer: I would say I own Jade, but she would throw something at my head.
Lunch was not as relaxing as Jade had hoped. She spent the majority of it assuring Bea and Sally-Anne that she had not been kidnapped the previous night, only lost track of time and fallen asleep in the library. Thaliana, who hadn’t known about Jade’s absence until morning and hadn’t been quite as upset, pointed out that Madam Pince should have woken Jade when the library was locked for the night. Jade was able to dismiss this as a fluke – she had been tucked in a back corner – but she was glad when lunch ended and she could escape her housemates’ questions.
As she exited the Great Hall, Jade spotted Harry, Ron, and Hermione heading up the staircase, presumably toward their common room. She dodged through the crowed Entrance Hall and caught up with them, clearing her throat to announce her presence. At the noise all three Gryffindors jumped slightly and turned to stare at her.
Harry was the first to speak. “So, how’d last night go?” he asked cautiously.
Jade’s eyebrows went up. “How do you think it went?”
“Aw, that’s too bad, mate,” Ron shook his head, red hair flopping. “But we tried to warn you about – ow!”
Harry had kicked his friend in the shin. “She hasn’t said how it went yet, you moron!”
Hermione frowned. “What’s going on here? What did you two do?”
Jade, deciding she needed to take control of the conversation, broke in, “If you’ll excuse us, Hermione, I need to talk to Harry and Ron alone. But I’m sure they’ll be glad to explain everything to you just as soon as they get back to the common room.” She shot a glare at the boys, who were looking distinctly uncomfortable.
Hermione looked from Jade to Harry and Ron. She sighed and relented, “Alright.” Pushing her book bag a little farther up her shoulder, she added, “I’m sorry about whatever these boys,” she made the word sound like something vile, “have done to you now.” With that she turned and continued up the stairs.
Grateful the other girl had not pushed the issue, Jade asked, “Is there an empty classroom or some other place around here where we can talk?”
Harry and Ron, shooting covert glances at each other as they walked, led her to an unused classroom on the next floor. Jade shut the door behind them, noting the layers of dust covering the tabletops. Wiping clean a spot on a nearby table, she sat on the edge, feet dangling in the air.
“So…which one of you came up with this brilliant plan?” Her eyes slid from Ron to Harry, a small smile playing on her lips. “And,” she added, “I wouldn’t be too quick to be the one to claim it if I were you.”
Harry cleared his throat, “Er, you found out, then?”
The smile vanished as quickly as it had come. “Just how stupid do you think I am?”
Harry held up his hands in protest. “That’s not it at all, Jade! It’s not that we think you’re stupid, just…naïve. You don’t know how things are around here yet.”
“‘Naïve?’” demanded Jade. “I’m the one who’s been stealing food to get a good meal for the past ten years and you’re calling me naïve?” She made a little noise of disbelief and shook her head. “I may not know much about the magical world, but I know about not being able to trust people. And the only reason I can’t trust people around here is because you’re all too blockheaded to do what you know you should be doing. You get carried away and it makes you do stupid things.” She glared at them. “Stupid things,” she continued, “like blackmailing Draco.”
“Hey!” Ron protested, “Gryffindors don’t blackmail people! We just…” He trailed off.
Harry looked distinctly uncomfortable. After a moment of awkward silence he asked, “Just how much do you know?”
Jade sighed. Taking a deep breath she recited, “You and Ron wanted me not to trust Draco so you made him agree – or so you thought – to back out of his deal to help me or you would tell everyone that his father is a Death Eater in Azkaban.”
“Did Malfoy tell you all that?” Harry avoided Jade’s eyes, staring in the direction of his shoes. Ron appeared to be fascinated with a spot on the far wall.
“No, he didn’t, but it doesn’t matter how I found out. What matters is that you did it in the first place.” After a second she added, “And that it didn’t work.”
Both boys’ heads turned to look at her again. “It didn’t?” Ron asked in confusion.
“No, it didn’t. I got the page, and I have half a mind not to tell you what I found out.” She smirked.
“What did you find?”
“How didn’t it work?”
Harry and Ron spoke at the same time, so Jade took it upon herself to choose which question to answer first. “It didn’t work because Draco didn’t back out of helping me.”
Harry frowned, “But I clearly remember him saying he would make sure you’d no longer trust him. And there’s no way he’d risk us telling everyone about his dad. His whole family’s reputation would be ruined.”
“He had a different plan that was supposed to have the same result. Through a complicated series of events I found out the truth and here we are.” She waved a hand dismissively. “The point is this never should have happened.”
Ron slammed his first on the table next to him and gave a growl – of frustration or pain Jade was not sure. “No, it shouldn’t have! We were supposed to win this one, not him!” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, his eyes shot to Jade in panic. “Er, what I meant was…” He trailed off at the look on her face.
“‘Win?’” Jade slid off the edge of the desk to stand before them, her voice deathly quiet. “You were supposed to win this one? Is that what I am to you? Just another way to one-up Draco? Is that why you’ve cared so much about what’s happened to me?” A strange mixture of rage and sadness coursed through her chest. She should have known it was too good to be true.
Harry’s green eyes widened. “No! Jade, it’s not like that at all!”
“Oh? Well then, what is it like? What exactly were you supposed to win? Maybe who could humiliate me the most? Because you sure won that one,” she spat.
“Jade, listen…” Harry reached out a hand, as if to hold her in place.
“No!” She knocked his hand aside. “No! I’m done listening! I can’t believe I thought you were my friends! I can’t believe I wanted to be in your house. If this is what Gryffindors are like, I’m glad I’m in Slytherin!” Her voice trembled as she finished, although from anger or disappointment she wasn’t sure.
Ron, staring away from Jade at the floor, gave a small sigh. Jade’s head buzzing, it was a miracle she heard it. “She’s right,” he whispered, mostly to himself.
“What?” Jade, half turned toward the door, stopped.
He looked up, eyes sad. “You’re right,” he said more firmly. “You have no reason to listen to us after what we did. I’m sorry.”
It hit Jade so fast she gasped. It was the feeling of déjà vu, that this scene had happened before. In her mind Draco replaced Ron, the Draco in her memory muttering, defeated, “Ok, I don’t know why you should tell me. I’m sorry.” She started to laugh, mostly at herself, sagging against the table behind her for support.
Ron and Harry stared at her, clearly shocked by this new, random reaction. As Jade’s eyes began to water from laughter, she heard Ron whisper, “Harry, I think she’s cracked.”
Slowly her laughter subsided and Jade regained her seat on the table, wiping her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she choked out, taking a deep breath. “It’s just…I just realized it. I’ve done it again. I jumped to conclusions and didn’t let people explain themselves, and so I was right back where I started, just with different friends.”
At Harry and Ron’s confused expressions she continued, pushing her hair out of her face, “Let me explain. Because of your trick Draco did something that ended up getting me in trouble. When I found out about it, I yelled at him and ran away, not giving him a chance to explain. Through another source I found out what really happened and, after some thought, I gave him another chance to explain himself. He started by lying and giving a different story, so I tried to run away again, just like I did here. Luckily he stopped me and apologized – I know, I was as surprised as you!” She smiled at Ron and Harry’s incredulous faces.
“Anyway,” she continued, “I came to my senses and we talked it out. But here I was,” she motioned around her, “making the same stupid mistake all over again.” Jade shook her head, a smile on her pale lips. “But at least I’ve realized it. I’ve got to stop running away.”
Harry and Ron watched her cautiously for a few seconds, as if to ensure she was finished with her outburst, before speaking. Finally Harry asked, “Er, so you’ll give us a chance to explain?”
“Good, good, because I didn’t mean what I said,” Ron cut in. “I mean…I did kind of mean it, just not in the way it came out.”
Jade raised her eyebrows, expression calm.
“What Ron’s trying to say,” Harry gave his friend an exasperated look, “is that he didn’t mean you were something we were trying to win, but that we felt like we lost you. It’s just…we don’t see how you can be friends with both us and Malfoy, so we were trying to make sure you would end up friends with us, not him. And,” admitted Harry with chagrin, “we’ve been competing with him for so long it’s hard to stop.”
“I understand that, I guess.” Jade smiled a half-smile. “But next time, don’t use me as a way to compete with him. And,” she added, “you’re going to have to accept that I can be friend with all of you because I’m not about to let any of you go. I need all the friends I can get.”
Ron grinned, but shook his head, voice skeptical, “Good luck with that.”
“Look, you don’t have to be around each other, or even stop trying to kill each other, just don’t get me involved,” smirked Jade. “And if you want to hear what I found on the page, I suspect you’ll agree to that much.”
“Oh, yeah, I’d forgotten about that!” Harry exclaimed. “What did you find?”
Jade rolled her eyes and launched into the explanation of what she had discovered. The two boys listened silently to her story. When she had told them about finding the page and what was on it, she gave a brief summary of the acquisition of her powers, finishing with a request that they tell no one but Hermione.
“Wow,” Ron breathed. “That’s got to be the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were just messing with us.”
Jade shook her head, grinning. “I couldn’t even make up something like that.”
There was a pause as everyone tried to decide where to go from there, then Harry said softly, “I’m sorry about your parents.”
Jade shrugged, “I never knew them anyway. And it’s not like I ever expected them to come find me. But it’s weird, knowing for sure.” She frowned. “But I guess now I can really move on.” Her face brightened. “At least I know they didn’t abandon me. And they were married.”
Ron’s eyes widened, “Er, yeah, I imagine that would be comforting.”
“Maybe I can get Snape to tell me more about them sometime,” she continued, staring at the blank classroom wall, trying to imagine how that conversation would come about.
Harry glanced at his watch, “Um, Jade, we’ve got to get going. Ron and I have Care of Magical Creatures in about ten minutes, and I’m betting you do, too.”
Jade frowned, “Is it with Professor Hagrid?”
“Yeah,” Harry nodded.
“Then, yeah, I do.”
Ron checked his watch, too. “We better hurry! We don’t have any of our stuff.”
Jade slid off the desk where she had been sitting and lead the way out the door. As Harry and Ron turned toward the staircase leading to their common room, she stopped them, “Wait, where’s the Care of Magical Creatures classroom?”
“It’s not a classroom. Just go out the main castle doors and look for a wooden hut across the lawn,” Harry called as he and Ron headed up the stairs. “It’s down there.” They disappeared around a bend in the stairs, so Jade didn’t get the chance to ask if he had really said hut. She shrugged, figuring she could always ask someone else if she got lost, as she seemed to have an aptitude for doing. With that she set off at a run for the Slytherin common room, hoping she could figure out which book was for Care of Magical Creatures.
* * * * * * *
The next day was Saturday, the majority of which Jade spent with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Before lunch they toured the castle, showing Jade areas of importance she had not yet seen. A few of their stops included the owlry, the hospital wing, and the kitchens. Jade was amazed by both the vast amount of food and the hordes of hyperactive house elves contained in the kitchens.
After lunch the group remained in the Great Hall and taught Jade a fascinating wizard’s game called “Exploding Snap.” When all of their eyebrows were sufficiently singed, they switched to Wizard’s Chess. Hermione refused to play, calling it “barbaric” and saying it “brought back bad memories,” so Harry, Ron, and Jade rotated every other game. Harry and Ron’s dismay at discovering Jade had learned to play from Draco did not keep them from enjoying a fresh opponent. In the end, Jade had beaten Harry once and lost to him twice, while Ron remained the undefeated champion.
By about five o’clock the game had lost their interest and the friends headed back to their common rooms. When Jade reached her room, she was displeased to find Bea, Sally-Anne, and several other Slytherin girls she did not recognize having a giggle-fest, huddled on the beds. They didn’t look up when Jade opened the door, so she shut it again and quickly retreated. She was in no mood to join in the giggling, nor did she think she would ever be. The only good thing about the situation was she overheard something about “their new captain Roger Davis,” which suggested the girls were not talking about her.
Back in the common room, Jade searched for someone she knew. She spotted Draco sitting on the couch by the fire, chatting offhandedly to Blaise Zabini and a boy Jade did not know. She walked over to Draco and plopped down on the couch to his left.
Draco looked up from his conversation with Blaise, who was seated on his right, to give her a nod. Turning back to his friend, he finished, “– so there’s no way they’re letting him back on the team.”
Blaise shook his head emphatically. “Not if the new captain’s got half a brain, but then again they are Hufflepuffs!” He gave a laugh.
“What’s going on?” Jade asked. She had no idea what they were talking about.
Draco grinned at her, looking considerably happier than he usually did, “Quidditch tryout dates were posted this afternoon.”
“And now he and Zabini must spend their obligatory two hours arguing over each team lineup, as if, by speculating, they will somehow influence the outcome.” The boy Jade did not know, who was sitting in an armchair across from the couch, smiled at her, ignoring the dirty looks he was receiving from the other boys.
“Shut your face, Nott,” Blaise growled. “Just because you don’t appreciate Quidditch, doesn’t mean we all are that stupid.”
Draco broke in, “Jade, have you met Nott?”
“No, I haven’t. But I haven’t really met Blaise either, I’ve just heard about him.”
“Of course she’s heard of me, who hasn’t?” drawled Blaise, smirk on his face. He leaned past Draco to offer Jade a dark hand, his wavy, black hair flopping into his brown eyes. “Blaise Zabini,” he introduced himself. “It’s an honor to meet me, I know.”
Jade shook his hand with a laugh and remarked, “And here I’d thought I’d never meet anyone more conceited than Draco.”
The boy called Nott laughed, too. “Imagine me having to room with both of them. I haven’t gotten to use the mirror in over two years.”
Draco hurled a pillow from the couch at Nott’s head.
Dodging the projectile, the boy continued, “I’m Theodore Nott, by the way. But you can call me Theo.” He had sandy brown hair, a long face, and a straight nose. His light brown eyes were friendly and he wore an easy smile.
Jade smiled back. “Jade Salinas. Just Jade.”
“Well, ‘Just Jade’,” Blaise teased, “what do you think of Slytherin’s chances for the Cup this year?”
“Er, I really don’t know anything about Quidditch,” Jade admitted.
“What?!” Blaise gave a gasp of shock and outrage that Jade wasn’t entirely sure was faked. “Malfoy, what have you been doing? You’re neglecting this girl’s education!”
Draco scowled. “Well, I already taught her to play wizard’s chess. I was getting to Quidditch.”
Theo shook his head, trying to hide his amused smile, “For shame, Malfoy.”
Once more Blaise reached over Draco, this time to pat Jade on the arm. “It’s a good thing I’m here, Jade.”
Draco smacked Blaise’s arm away. “Don’t touch her.”
“Ooo…sorry. Didn’t know she was made of glass,” quipped Blaise sarcastically.
Draco rolled his eyes but didn’t reply. “Anyway, the first thing you have to know about Quidditch is there are seven people on each team…”
The boys spent the rest of the evening attempting to explain the rules of Quidditch to Jade. They were forced to break for dinner but reassembled after to continue the lessons. Eventually Bea, Sally-Anne, and Thaliana joined the group, adding their own comments. The more people who tried to help, the more confused Jade became, but the group was fun and no one – especially after the girls arrived – took it too seriously.
As several people were trying to explain the “Wronski Feint” to Jade for the third time, and Blaise was announcing how he would improve the move for the forth time, Thaliana interrupted, “I’m sure you would greatly improve it, Sweetie, especially if you played Quidditch.”
Blaise glared at his girlfriend. “I play Quidditch; I just don’t play on a team. It’s too structured for me,” he explained haughtily.
“Of course!” Thaliana exclaimed, as though she had struck upon some sudden insight. “I’d forgotten things that are structured are above your comprehension. Like following the structure of a calendar that tells you what day it is.” She glared at him.
“I told you I was sorry I forgot our anniversary!”
Everyone laughed, and, as Jade looked around at the new friends surrounding her, she felt it had been a very successful week.
I love my Slytherin guys! I have so much fun writing them. I hope you liked them, too! Let me know! Also, I was glad to get that whole Harry and Ron being idiots thing resolved. Do you think that worked out ok? I really didn’t plan Jade’s epiphany; it just came out as I was writing and I was pleased with the development.
I want to thank all my reviewers, who are awesome, and special thanks to Terri (dim_at_best). You really bring the guilt on this story. ^_^ (Just so everyone knows, this story isn't over yet!)