A/N: hey!!! i'm so sorry for the super long wait! it took me a while to finish chapter 9, and you know me. the prepared one. the paranoid one. so, chapter 9's done, and i'll be working on 10!!! ahhh!!!! insanity! i can't believe i'm this far already! anyway, time for THANKING! azn_dichi, keys_701, SiRiUsGuRl4Evr_ - you guys are AMAZING! and, oh my vegetables. how can i go a chapter without thanking the one and only, Molly Raesly? AHH!!! she's amazing. UH-MAZAAANG. she's helped me SO much throughout this story. with the title, banner, the nickname "Trav-Trav the Asexual Lad", loads of the dirty lines. i think everybody should find a Molly Raesly for their lives. just not mine. haha. my host. my other half. THANK YOU!!
random: at one point in this chapter, i mention a Filipino Tarsier. yes. this is a monkey, native in the Philippines. hhahaha. i wrote this chapter while i was still jetlagified from my trip to the Philippines, so, yeah. anyway...you can google it. a picture of it. haha. please do. it'll make loads more sense.
and one more thing before we move on to the actual story. haha. sorry! but:
we all know that the site has been all messed up lately. we also all know that probably EVERYBODY who has posted on the site since this summer has lost reviews. reviews give writers boosts to write more. please, if anybody could be kind enough to re-review my last 3 chapters (5-7), or even just chapter 6? 75% of the reason why i'm still writing this story is because of your reviews! you would make my YEAR if you could do this! and in addition, please please please read and review azn_dichi's, keys_701's, SiRiUsGuRl4Evr_'s, and Molly Raesly's stories!!! they're definitely worth the read! i promise! i will love you forever and ever if you could do this for me! i'll even try to give you reviews back, in return! it's a good trade! you know it! haha. thanks so much!!!
Chapter 8: “...earlier than planned.”
“No, no, no, no, no. No. Uh-uh. No! No. This can’t be happening. No. No way. NO!” James muttered, running around the seventh year boys’ dormitory, ruffling up papers on desks, pulling back curtains, rummaging through trunks, and peeking under furniture.
Remus and I sat on his bed, our heads turning left and right, following James, as if we were watching a tennis match. Finally, I built up the strength to stop. I shook my head to rid of my dazed state.
“James, stop! What’s wrong?”
He didn’t stop, but he answered, “I lost Lily’s cat-!”
“YOU LOST LILY’S-” James ran over to me and covered my mouth with his hand, stopping my yelling, and making a “shh!” noise. He took back his hand when he was sure I wouldn’t yell again. “You lost Lily’s cat?!” I whisper-yelled instead, punching him in the chest. Lately, having been forced to hang around her, I’d been liking Lily more and more. Our conversations weren’t forced anymore and they weren’t awkward, either. We’d even laugh every now and then.
James just groaned and fell backwards onto the bed next to me. “The only thing that I know for sure is that I can be relied upon to be unreliable. In many respects, Lily’s right…I’m an idiot.” Remus chuckled at the truth of James’s words.
“Aw, come on, James. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Here. We’ll help you.” I grabbed both James’s and Remus’s hands and pulled them up.
“We will?” asked Remus. I glared at him, and he gave in. “Alright, James. Where did you look?” I began to search for the lost cat, when I heard a smack and an, “Ow!”
I turned to see James glaring at Remus, and Remus clutching the back of his head. “Hey! James!” I scolded. “I know it was a stupid question, but no hitting.” James angrily opened his mouth to yell out my hypocrisy, I assumed. I pointed a finger at him. “You. Silence.”
He pouted and we all set to searching. I bravely checked under Peter’s bed and found the grey cat, curled up under it, along with a bunch of junk, parchment, and cheese.
“Oh! I found, um…” – I didn’t want to offend anybody by calling it “it” or the wrong gender, so I settled with – “the cat. Anybody wanna help me out? I’m aller-” A huge solid rammed into my back and almost knocked the breath out of me. James’s arms crushed me into his chest.
“Thank you! Oh, Merlin! Thank you, Jenyse! Oh, I could just kiss you right now!”
From across the room, Remus made a disgusted gagging sound. “Oh, gross! You guys are siblings! Ugh! Images!”
James and I laughed, and he kissed me on the top of my head, before going to retrieve the poor cat.
“You didn’t lose the cat, James. Um, he or she was just sniffin’ out the rat.”
They both chuckled. “You mean I’m not an idiot?” asked James, hopefully.
Remus clapped James on the back and said, “Let’s not go that far.”
I skipped into the common room, straight to the couch by the fire on which Travis was sitting, and sang, “Oh, Trav-Trav, the Asexual La-ad!” making “lad” into two syllables. I leaned over the back of the couch and he grinned up at me.
“Come on,” I said, grabbing a handful of his hair and pulling him up, “let’s go to the Astronomy Tower.”
He eagerly got up and followed me to the Tower. We climbed onto the roof and lay there, in a comfortable silence, just looking at the stars. I picked out Sirius from all of the stars in the sky and the constellation Andromeda – his cousin’s name. I tried not to linger too long on the stars and constellations that the psycho members of Sirius’s family were named after. This train of thought led me to wonder if Alec was named after something. Or someone. Maybe a star, or a famous person…or his father?
“What,” Travis whispered, tearing me away from my thoughts, “are you thinking about?”
I smiled to myself. If he only knew. “Names.” I should be given a prize for being so good at evading the exact truth. Travis was silent, so I turned my head to the side to see him peering at me in a questioning way. “I dunno. I just saw the star Sirius, and my brain went on the track of names. Were you named after anybody?”
“Nope. At least that’s what I’m told. I think my mom named me after her favorite actor, but at the same time, I doubt my dad would have allowed that.”
We both laughed. “Aw. Poor Matt Decker.” I shook my head, mock-sympathetic. “And I bet he was a real hunk back in his day.”
“Ugh, Jenyse!” He shoved my head away. “That’s disgusting! That’s my dad you’re talking about!”
I laughed at the look on his face. “What?! I’m just saying that given his appearance and his son’s appearance, he’s bound to have been no less than good-looking when he was our age.”
Travis groaned, covering his disgusted face with his hands. Then, all of a sudden, he turned to me with a highly amused expression. Uh-oh. What did I say this time? “Are you implying that I’m a hunk, Ms. Baccari?”
I pushed his chest away, roughly (oh, he could handle it), and exclaimed, “Ew! No way. In your dreams, A- I mean, Trav.” Bloody hell. I almost called him Alec. Because Alec would say that. Yeah. But he’s not Alec. And I almost slipped up. Oh, bloody hell. Pull yourself together, Jenyse. He’s gonna get suspicious.
“What were you just about to call me?” Shit. Think fast.
“Arse. I was going to call you ‘Arse.’” Nice.
He eyed me suspiciously, but said, “Right.”
Sigh. Being with Alec is driving me insane. Well, no. Just the fact that I can’t tell anyone of my being with him is driving me insane. I mean, I’m no bragger, by any means. It’s just…everything would be a hell of a lot easier. Except, the whole clue thing would practically be abolished. But I like his clues. Especially the one I’d gotten this afternoon. He sang for me! Finally! It was amazing, too. His voice, I mean. His runs were spotless and effortless. His pitch was perfect. I’d even pay him to sing me to sleep, but I bet I could convince him to do so, in other ways than money….
I’d begun to doze off, but Travis’s soft voice brought me back. “Hey, Jenyse. It’s getting late. We should head back.”
“Mm,” I grumbled, too tired to put together words.
I was only half aware of Travis laughing to himself as he helped me up, through the window, down the stairs, and to the common room.
“Night, Travis,” I slurred sleepily, before slugging up the girls’ staircase and into my bed.
Tap. Tap tap. Tap tap tap.
I groaned and shoved myself off of my bed. I spotted the creature in the window to my left. I groaned again and went over to let the owl in. I didn’t recognize the owl, but it landed on my bed. I untied the letter that was attached to its leg, and the bird flew away, the second it was freed.
My name was scrawled on the envelope in Jarron’s hand writing. I opened it, confused.
COME HOME. RIGHT NOW.
P.S. This message will be sent every hour that you aren’t here yet.’
My eyes grew wide. What was that supposed to mean? Is everybody okay? I could tell it was no joke. He hadn’t called me “Neesy.” The postscript was another clue. Was it that important that I come home now?
I heard movement from beside me, and I jumped. I glanced over to see Lily looking at me, concerned. “Jenyse, is everything alright?”
“I don’t know.” Even to myself, my voice sounded distant.
“What’s that?” Lily asked, looking at the parchment that my hands were clutched onto in a death grip.
“I don’t know,” I repeated.
Lily carefully took the top of the paper and brought it closer to her, so that she could read it. I couldn’t loosen my hold. I was still in shock. I watched as her eyes went back and forth across the parchment. She looked up at my eyes with her own widened eyes.
“You have to show this to McGonagall.”
I was running – bolting through the halls – when I ran into something. Someone. I clutched at their arms, still holding the letter in my right hand.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Alec. “Jenyse? What’s going on?” I couldn’t talk, for I was breathing way too hard. “Jenyse?” I felt his hand cup my cheek and his other slide down my right arm, to my hand. I vaguely heard a crumple of paper. Alec looked down at the letter. He managed to un-crumple it enough so that he could read it while I still held one side of it. Just like mine and Lily’s did, his eyes grew, and he pushed my chin up to look at my face. I imagined it was still full of pure shock and maybe some fear.
“I-I have to go. To McGonagall.” I managed to pull away from him and started running, despite his yelling my name.
I burst through her office door, gasping, “Professor!”
She was clearly surprised and straightened in her seat when I ran straight to her desk and threw the piece of parchment in front of her. I bent over her desk, trying to catch my breath. I knew that she was finished reading when she shot up and walked around her desk towards me. She took hold of my arm, and led me out of her office.
“Where are we going?” I managed to ask between gasps.
“Professor Dumbledore’s office. We’ve got to arrange your leaving for home.”
I sighed in relief. I was allowed to go find out what was wrong.
We approached a gargoyle and McGonagall gave the password that allowed us access to the staircase leading to the Headmaster’s office. McGonagall knocked on the door and Dumbledore told us to enter.
“Minerva? Ms. Baccari?” In some small part of my mind, I found it weird that he knew my name.
McGonagall let go of my arm and gave the letter to Dumbledore. He read it and looked up at me, above his half-moon spectacles.
“Ms. Baccari, do you know what this is about?”
I couldn’t find my voice box, so I shook my head.
“Well, I will allow you to go home if you promise to write back, telling us what is going on. I’d like to be sure that everybody is okay.”
I nodded. “Yes, sir. Thank you.”
“Very well,” he said. “I assume you have your Apparation license?” I nodded. “Good. You may go pack, and I will meet you in the Entrance Hall.” He nodded at McGonagall. “Minerva.”
When McGonagall went her way – opposite of mine –, I started running again. For the second time, I ran into Alec.
“Whoa! Jenyse, wait. Stop. What’s going on?” he asked, holding me still.
I was incapable of standing completely still. I shifted my weight from side to side. “I’m going home, Alec. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s obvious that I’m needed. And I really have to go. Right now. I need to pack, and explain to Travis and the Marauders, and-” I stopped, running out of breath.
“I understand, Jenyse, but can you just wait for one minute?” he rushed through his words, then caught me up in a kiss. His mouth was soft on mine, soothing. His hand rubbed my back while his other hand’s thumb made small circles on my cheek. We angled our heads so that our foreheads rested on one another’s, when we needed air. We were both breathing heavily, but I was slightly calmed and soothed. “Jenyse,” he whispered quickly, “I know you’re worried, but you need to calm down and get a hold of yourself. Maybe it’s not as bad as you think.”
“Alec,” I breathed.
“Sh, sh, shh. Listen. It might not be that bad. So, pull yourself together. Please.”
“But what if it is bad?”
“Then I’ll be here, waiting to comfort you. Just breathe, Jenyse.” I followed his instructions, and was finally breathing at a normal pace, but still tense. “I’ll see you when you get back. And I’ll even owl you clues. Would you like that?” I felt the corners of my mouth twitch a little, and I nodded. “Alright. Happy New Year. Bye, Jenyse.” Before I ran off, I kissed him until neither of us had any air left in our lungs, to make up for the days I wouldn’t be able to see him.
I packed then ran to the boys’ room to tell them – relieved that all of them, even Travis, were in there – what was happening. They gave me hugs and I went to the Entrance Hall, nearly tripping down the steps, and into Dumbledore. Another owl with the same letter came, which made all the worry that Alec had soothed out of me come back. After Dumbledore walked me to outside of the gates of Hogwarts and gave me one last reminder to send a letter, I Apparated to my house.
I dropped my bags at the front door and ran into the kitchen, but found nobody there. I checked in all of the downstairs rooms, and found them all empty. Panicking, even more, I ran up the stairs and down the hall, yelling, “Jarron?! Dad?! Mom?! Jay-”
Jace’s door, to my right, swung open, making me jump backwards, into a painting.
“Oh, finally, you’re here! I guess Jarron’s letters worked, huh? Jayden owes me five galleons. Come on. We’re going to miss it!” Jace said, pulling me down the stairs.
“Wait! What? Miss what? What’s going on? Where is everybody? Is everybody okay?”
“Of course everyone’s okay! What did you think? Well, maybe not Maddy, seeing as a baby’s about to come out of her-”
“WHAT?!” I exclaimed, planting my feet. A baby? Madeline – Jayden’s wife? “Maddy’s having a baby?!”
Jace sighed and impatiently turned to face me. “Yes. She is in labor. Right now. Did you not notice, the last time you saw her, that she held a growing human being inside her womb? Well, dear Jenyse, it’s gotta come out some day, and today’s the day. Now, come on!”
I let her drag me to the fireplace. Alec was right. Alec was right! Everything was fine! Everyone was fine! The house wasn’t on fire. No one was hurt. No one was dead. Quite the opposite, really. Everything was fine. He was right.
We used the Floo Network to get to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Jace led the way to the fifth floor, room number 723. The sign next to the door had Maddy’s and her healer’s names on it. Funny: her healer was my father, Healer J. Baccari. He barely ever does deliveries.
When we stepped into the crowded room, the air was filled with ‘finally’s and ‘that was quick’s. I patiently received hugs and kisses from my parents then, when I was free, I went straight at Jarron.
“Alright! I’m sorry! But we needed you here, and it was the only thing I could think of, and…it was Jace’s idea too!” he tattled. Oh, the power of narrowed eyes.
“Well, you guys could have written, ‘Hey, Jenyse. Maddy’s having a baby! Please come home!’ with exclamation points and everything! I still would have come as soon as I did.”
Jace and Jarron paused with guilty faces. “Oh, well, we actually didn’t think of that…” Jarron muttered.
“What did you just call me?”
“I just called you and your groupie, here, idiots. It’s from the Greek ‘Idiotes,’ as in one who is afflicted by idiocy. A feeble-minded person having a mental age not exceeding three years,” I explained, harshly.
Jace walked over to our brother and put her arm around him. “We want an apology.”
I snorted. “Is that right?”
“Now,” they said together. I was vaguely aware of the snickers and laughter from my other watching family members, as the two of them glared me down.
I glared back, then sighed. “Alright. Perhaps I was unduly harsh calling you guys idiots, when in fact, you’re morons,” I said, getting louder, “from the Greek ‘Moros,’ as in feeble-minded or mental defective, having an age of between eight and twelve, capable of doing mental tasks under supervision. Now, get out of my sight!” They obeyed, Jarron taking cover by a giggling Alaina, Jace by who I assumed was an amused David.
I took a long, deep breath, let it out, then put a smile on my face. I hurried over to the side of Maddy’s bed, next to Jayden. “Hey, Maddy. How’re you holding up? Hey, Jayden,” I added, giving him a quick hug.
“Um,” she said in a slightly high-pitched voice, “actually, I haven’t the slightest clue.” Hah. Clue. Oh, I need some coffee.
I laughed with the rest of my family, on a sort of happy high. “Jace,” I turned to her, “I thought you said she was having the baby now.” I only caught a glimpse of her guilty face, before I heard a sharp gasp.
I snapped my head back to Maddy. Her hand was gripped around Jayden’s hand, even more tightly than mine was, around the stupid letter, not twenty minutes ago. Her face was a perfect shade of Gryffindor red. Her eyes were as wide as a Filipino Tarsier’s, and she was breathing five times her normal speed.
“Actually? I am.” She let out a small, nervous laugh, then groaned.
Healers came in and rushed us all (except the two almost-parents) out of the room. A short, apologizing letter back to Dumbledore and three cups of coffee later (for me, the addict, at least), my new baby niece, Jaylyn Colleen Baccari, was born. Jarron and Jayden fought for about five minutes straight, about her first name. Jayden obviously won, after pointing out that he had a Jay- name before Jarron’s son did, that Jaylyn was a mix of the beginning sound of Jayden and the ending sound of Madeline, and that she was his daughter.
My happy high was still going strong at 8 PM and I found that the only thing that allowed me to have some control of myself was…coffee.
“Guys, I’m gonna go-”
“Get some coffee. We know,” my mother finished for me with a what-did-I-do-wrong? face. “And while you’re out there, will you please get your father so we can have a picture with him actually in it.”
“He’s on his shift, mum,” was what I was about to say, but she – being a mother – predicted that and gave me a “now” face. Backing out of the room, I put my hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay!” I rolled my eyes at Jarron and he laughed.
I went to the coffee shop (once again) on the same floor and straight to the counter to face the 20-or-so-year-old guy, probably waiting for me, seeing as I seemed to be the only person he’d seen all day. At least I put a smile on his face! No, seriously; I did. “Hey, can I get a-”
“Black coffee; no cream, no sugar – like a black coffee ever comes with cream or sugar. Coming right up!” He smiled a teasing smile, then went to make my coffee. “Here you go,” he handed me the disposable coffee cup filled with wonderfulness. “This one’s on the house, if you promise me it’s your last one for the day.” I promised and gave him a dazzling smile. What a nice guy. We could be good friends. And he works in a coffee shop. Score!
And now, off to find daddy dearest. I went to the ground floor, where most of the comatose patients were. That’s where my dad usually worked; always checking their temperatures, heartbeats, tubes, brain activity. He even talks to them; they say it’s good to talk to people in comas because, apparently, they can “hear” you. Sure.
I peeked into every open room with my dad’s name on the door. I tried not to look at the patients. I already felt bad for all of them. Plus, who knew if any of them were bleeding.
I couldn’t find my dad in any of the rooms. Watch – he’s probably already back at Maddy’s room, and my mom is gonna yell at me, and-
“Oh! Sorry!” I said to the nurse I almost walked into, who was coming out of a room I’d already passed. She assured me that it was alright, and left. I looked at the sign on the door and read the patient’s name and age. Hayes, Ian. Age: 19. Wow. That’s really young. And that really sucks.
I don’t know what drove me to it, but I made sure no one was watching, then stepped into the room and quietly closed the door. I think it was the fact that he was one of my father’s comatose patients at such a young age. I turned to face the stranger.
I was only vaguely aware of my free coffee falling to the floor and its hot liquid touching my leg through my sweatpants.
There, laying on the bed, was a nineteen-year-old boy who was probably about 6’1”, with light brown hair that was probably longer than Snape’s, freckles, and a perfectly sculpted face. His eyelids covered what I was sure to be hazel eyes with a prominent green tint.
“Alec,” the whisper escaped from my lips, before I ran forward. Hesitantly, I pushed his hair back, away from his face. But it couldn’t be Alec. This guy was nineteen. Alec’s seventeen. This guy’s in a coma. Alec’s at Hogwarts. This guy’s Ian Hayes. Alec’s…. Shit.
“Wh-…you heard that?!”
“I will give you one fact a day, if…you tell no one about this whole…thing between us.”
I cocked an eyebrow. “Don’t you have any other friends?”
He crouched down too and – I thought – hesitantly reached to pick up a book. When he took hold of it, he seemed stunned that it didn’t run away, and then passed the book to me.
“Well, I’ve got you,” he said, jokingly. There was a short pause before he broke it. “Hey…did you ever think that maybe…we were…meant to meet?” He looked down, embarrassed.
As ritual, we walked along the more-enclosed corridors.
“Okay, why are you so mysterious and secretive?”
“Next question, please.”
“Next question, please,” he repeated, more firmly.
“Fine.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “What’s your real name?” He gave me a tiring look.
(he seemed especially interested in my dad being a healer at St. Mungo’s)
He blinked at me. “No. You wouldn’t understand. I know this sounds cliché, and all, but I assure you that it’s not you; it’s me.”
“I hate Christmas.”
I felt my eyes grow wide. “What?! Why?!” Christmas was my favorite time of year! No classes, family and friend gatherings, food, presents. What’s not to love?!
He shrugged. “Bad memories.”
“So, what’d you do yesterday?” I asked, hesitantly.
His eyes darkened. “Absolutely nothing.” He smiled at me, but it didn’t touch his eyes.
I was so attuned to this answer that I didn’t even bother addressing it. I don’t know why I even bother asking. I just get the same answer everyday: “Absolutely nothing;” “Nothing really;” “Nothing.”
“Jenyse…do you trust me?” Dumb question. I nodded, mutely. He was getting really close. His scent radiated off of him. He smelled so heavenly; it distracted me for the shortest moment. His face was set in an intense and passionate emotion that made my heart feel as though it was about to fly all the way to Pluto, and back. It was beating so fast. His eyes held so much fervor and zeal. I could only hope that half of it was meant for me. His eyes stayed intently on mine. But I couldn’t hold them with my own. My eyes fluttered close. It only took him one second. The first touch I felt was his lips on mine.
"I like you. A lot. But I can't explain why people can't know about us meeting. Not right now. Much to my dislike, you'll probably find out someday. What with my luck..." he said, darkly.
"Let's just say you're the only one I see in this way, and you're the only one who sees me."
“So,” said a dark, bitter voice, from across the room, “I guess you got your clue today, earlier than planned.”
I looked around at Alec. I swallowed. “No. It can’t- You can’t- NO!” My head was spinning. It was worse than looking at – or even smelling – blood. My hand grasped at the closest solid, which happened to be the leg of the stranger on the bed. I drew my hand back sharply, as if I’d touched fire. I backed away slowly, my eyes flickering from the patient’s face to Alec’s. “No.”
Alec’s hard face turned worried when he turned his gaze to me. He stretched out his arms toward me in what he probably thought was a comforting manner, and approached me. I saw the hurt flash in his eyes when I flinched away. “Jenyse…”
“How’d you get in here?” I shook my head at him, then looked at the body on the bed. And then…I was mad. I don’t know what hit me, but suddenly, I was positively seething. “You lied. You lied to me! I can’t believe I fell for that! My God, I’m such an idiot! Of course!” I smacked my hands to my face and leaned back against the wall.
“Jenyse…” he said quietly, “I didn’t lie to you.”
“No. You just kept the whole truth far away from me. Right? Merlin, Alec – or Ian –, what the hell is wrong with you?! What? Was it all lies? Were the clues just part of the big joke, too? Was it just because my dad’s your healer? Or was it all just because I’m the only one who can see you? You know, you’re just a typical guy. ‘Oh, look at that chick! She’s hot. I haven’t touched anyone in two years. Let’s give it a go and take advantage of her and give her hell.’” Tears of rage were streaming down my face. “I can’t believe this.” I took a moment to catch my breath. And then I realized something that turned my tears of rage to tears of pain. “I was used,” I said to myself. “I was used….I was used by the ghost of a guy in a freaking coma…who is my father’s patient. Oh my God.” It was bad enough that I was crying in front of him, but I didn’t want him to have the satisfaction of seeing me break down in hysterics. I had to leave. He came after me when I turned, saying some rubbish about none of it being lies. Before Apparating far, far away from him, I faced him one last time. “Screw you, Hayes.”
A/N: 'nuff said.
Write a Review A Subtle Touch Unseen: "...earlier than planned."