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Chapter 3 : Crying and Confessions
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I swiped at my streaming eyes and tried to calm myself down a bit so that people wouldn’t stare at me when I walked in. My fellow housemates, I had noticed, had a hard time keeping their noses in their own business. Not that I was really all that interesting – I was pretty sure that I had never been a topic of conversation before. Who would want to talk about the boring, goody-goody Herbology Professor’s daughter when you could talk about how Rose Weasley was shacking up with Scorpius Malfoy or James Potter’s many pranks and girls?
Not anyone I knew.
I trudged through the portrait hole into the Common Room and practically ran across the room in my haste to make it up to my dorm. I figured that most of my friends would still be out, which would give me a good amount of time to think up a reason for why I was back early. I hated lying to them – I hated lying period, it made me feel guilty – but how could I tell them that I’d royally screwed up?
How could I tell them that I had not in fact gotten my first kiss today?
I couldn’t. They would be disappointed. They had worked hard to make things go right for me. And I had messed it up. Again.
This was why I hated relationships. I sucked at it. Maybe I should just commit myself to a convent and become a nun. Save myself a lot of trouble.
But that would actually require me paying attention at services – something I could never do, no matter how hard I tried. Yeah, being a nun was out. Maybe I could be a hermit. I think I would make a good hermit. I had never minded being alone.
Deciding to put the whole hermit business aside for the time being and focus on what I was going to tell my friends I trudged up the stairs to my dorm, pulling the knob and leaning heavily against the door. I was exhausted.
I stepped inside of my dorm room and instantly wished I hadn’t.
“Daphs!” Rose, Olivia, and Lucy squealed in very high pitched voices all at the same time.
“Hi guys,” I replied weakly, leaning on the door again to shut it behind me.
“You’re home early!” Lucy squealed bouncing up and down on her bed. “Does that mean you’re good and kissed? Oh, come on just tell already!”
“Relax, Luce,” Olivia chastised, putting down the magazine she had been reading and giving me a knowing look. I swallowed nervously. It was a bad sign when Olivia got that particular gleam in her eyes. It meant that either you were going to get interrogated, or slapped. I had a feeling would be on the receiving end of both. “So, what happened?”
“He’s nice,” I tried, hoping that that would satisfy them. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t, but I had to try, right?
“Of course he’s nice,” Rose sighed, blowing a strand of red hair out of her face. “Do you really think we’d set you up with a complete jerk?”
“Well then, what the problem?”
“There is not any problem with him –“
“I don’t understand.”
“Will you let the girl bloody finish a sentence, please?” Nancy cried, coming out from the bathroom and settling herself on the trunk at the bottom of her bed.
“Right, uh, thanks,” I mumbled to Nancy, staring down at the carpet. It was still awkward to actually have her here, in the conversation with us. I had never disliked her or anything – I made a point of getting to know someone before deciding whether or not I liked them (I usually did), but she had really never taken an interest in anything that we did before. “Well, as I was saying, I do like him. He’s a nice guy. But I don’t like like him.”
“Why the hell not?” Olivia exploded, glaring up at me. “He’s cute, he’s funny, he’s nice, and he’s the perfect guy for you!”
I felt tears prick into the sides of my eyes. I knew that they would be disappointed and possibly angry. Merlin, I was such an idiot sometimes. Why couldn’t I have just let him kiss me? Then this would have all been over with already. I could have moved on with my life, and they would return to their own boy problems.
“I’m sorry,” I said lamely, biting on my lower lip to stop myself from crying more. “I didn’t want to upset anyone, but it just didn’t feel…right.”
“It’s just a kiss,” Olivia sighed. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
I tasted the metal flavor of blood in my mouth as I accidentally bit down too hard on my bottom lip. If it was just a kiss, and it didn’t matter, then why were they doing all of this. Why was she so upset that I didn’t kiss him?
I opened my mouth to ask her just that, but the words failed me. That’s the problem with us Longbottoms – we can cut the heads off of giant snakes or run away from blind-dates gone bad, but we couldn’t speak up for ourselves if our lives depended on it.
“Did it ever occur to you that maybe it is a big deal to Daphne?” Nancy asked after a moment when I didn’t respond. “That maybe she doesn’t want to have her first kiss be with someone that she barely knows, just for the sake of being able to say that she’s been kissed?”
I looked over at her gratefully to see that she was glaring at Olivia, who was picking at a thread on her comforter uncomfortably. I had the urge to hug her in that moment, but I was afraid that she might yell at me or hit me. Nancy just carried around this aura of toughness, which is probably why no one picked on her. And also probably why I had never seen anyone touch her, let alone hug her. So I kept my hug to myself and chose to smile at her instead.
Rose and Lucy looked like they didn’t want to get in on this part of the conversation, and Olivia was still picking at her comforter. The silence that hung thick in the air was heavy and awkward, and I wished that I knew what to say to fill it. This was worse than this silence that had existed with Mike back when we were walking to Hogsmeade.
“I guess it didn’t” Olivia admitted finally, blushing and glancing up at me sheepishly. “I’m sorry Daphs.”
“It’s okay,” I replied, glad that someone had said something. “I understand.”
“So,” Lucy said in a bad attempt at making an awkward situation less awkward, “I’m guessing you didn’t kiss Mike then?”
Rose chucked the book she had been reading at her head.
“Hey!” Lucy cried tumbling off of her bed as the book soared past her head, barely missing her ear.
I thought I heard Rose mutter something that sounded distinctly like ‘dipwad’ and I suppressed a laugh.
“No,” I confirmed, “I did not kiss him.”
“Was it awkward?” Lucy asked, daring a glance at Rose, but turning back to me, her excitement getting the best of her. “I mean, did he try to kiss you? Or did nothing happen?”
I sighed and bit my lip again. “Yeah, he tried to kiss me.”
There was a collective squeal from around the room. I waited for them to quiet down and then I took a deep breath. I had to tell them the rest of it. Otherwise they’d probably find out from someone else, and then they’d be mad at me for not telling them. And I couldn’t stand to have any one of them mad at me.
I didn’t like conflict.
“But I ran away.” I said it so quietly that I was sure that they couldn’t have heard me. My cheeks turned bright red and I stared down at the floor, not daring to meet any of their eyes. Either the silence that now filled our dorm was one of surprise, or one of them waiting.
I dared a glance up out of the corner of my eye. Rose, the first I could see, was staring straight at me, her mouth open in the perfect imitation of my goldfish, Rudy.
“You what?” Nancy asked.
I turned to her to see that she too was incredulous.
“I ran away. I couldn’t do it,” I admitted. I felt my tear ducts start up again, and I let them run down my face this time. My lip had taken enough of a beating today.
“Oh, Daphs,” Lucy cried, running over to where I was standing by the door and enveloping me in a hug. I buried my face in her shoulder and sobbed quietly. I hated hurting anyone. And I had hurt a lot of people today – my friends, Mike, even myself.
The last one hurt the most. I had disappointed myself. I was too much of a coward. I couldn’t kiss him. A perfectly good looking, sweet bloke who had been willing to kiss me. No wonder my mother had nicknamed me the Cowardly Lion. I didn’t deserve to be in Gryffindor.
I felt two other sets of arms wrap themselves around us, and I smiled despite the tears that kept flowing. Maybe they weren’t that angry at me. Or they hated seeing me cry. Oh well, it didn’t matter. As long as they were still here with me.
“Thanks guys,” I said a few minutes later, extracting myself from our group hug and going over to sit on my bed.
“We don’t have to do this anymore, if you don’t want to,” Rose replied, going back to lounge on the floor by the foot of her own bed.
“Yeah,” Olivia and Lucy chorused, looking at me apologetically.
“No!” I replied before I could stop myself. I had made up my mind. I was going to get my first kiss, damnit! Oops, I’d have to add another sickle to the swear jar when I had a chance. “I’m tired of being a baby and a coward. I want to do this.”
My friends looked at me, and then each other, and smiled, impressed. I had to smile as well. I was going to do this.
“Are you sure about this Daph?” Olivia asked.
“Positive,” I confirmed. “But I don’t want to go around kissing random blokes, okay?”
“Of course,” Rose replied. “No random blokes got it. Just the guys you like.”
I smiled. This could actually work.
“Speaking of which,” Lucy piped up, “you never told us who you do like.”
Yikes. There goes all of my new found courage.
“You’ll laugh,” I mumbled, grabbing my pillow and hugging it to my chest protectively, like a shield.
“We promise we won’t,” Olivia assured me, looking round for support. Nancy, Rose, and Lucy nodded.
“Okay,” I sighed. I could do this. They were my best friends for Merlin’s sake. And I’d had a crush on Albus for a very long time. It would feel good to tell them about it, right?
“I like Al,” I muttered into my pillow. I felt my face turn the color of a plum I was so embarrassed. That had been horrible.
“Come again?” Nancy asked. “You kind of smothered it with your pillow.
I sighed and blew a fringe of my bangs out of my eyes. I had already said it once. I could say it again. “I like Al.”
There was a brief period of silence, and then three girlish squeaks and a tut of approval sounded through the room. I buried my face in my pillow. And then I was knocked over as they all jumped on top of me.
“The two of you are made for each other!”
“Why didn’t I think of it before?”
“My cousin! You could be family!”
“Ahh! So adorable!”
I pried the pillow away from my face and smiled. They had taken that rather well. And honestly, I did feel good, now that they knew. A few minutes later they stopped cooing about how adorable it was and went back to their own beds.
“So you don’t think I’m weird?” I asked nervously, eyeing them still, in case they suddenly were like ‘just kidding’.
“Not at all!” Lucy replied, bouncing up and down again. “I think that it’s super cute!”
“Adorable,” Rose agreed. “You should tell him!”
“No!” I insisted at once. “I couldn’t tell him. I had a hard enough time telling you lot.”
“We’ll help you,” Olivia promised, grinning that evil grin again.
“I think he’s down in the Common Room right now,” Rose added. “I’ll go tell him you want to talk to him.”
“Rose no!” I cried as she sprung up and rushed out of the dorm. “Wait! No!”
I sprung up from my bed and sprinted after her. I dodged a few fourth years on the stairs, calling back quick apologies. Merlin, that girl was fast.
I skidded to a halt in the Common Room just in time to see Rose approaching one of the plush leather chairs by the fire. Over the back of that chair I could see a distinctive head of messy black hair.
A/N: I am so sorry for the delay on this chapter! There's no excuses for why it took a month, although I do have some. I'll save you the trouble of having to read them, and just apologize again. I'm so sorry. I promise that the next chapter will be up way sooner!
Anyway, I hope it was worth the wait. I completely forgot how much I love this story. I'm sad that I only have two chapters left. :(
Please, please review and tell me what you thought! Thanks for reading! :)
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