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Chapter 12 : I Used To Know You So Well
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I got up, and pushed past the two of them, who were now engaged in a game of tonsil tennis, and ignoring their ‘hey!’ ran from the school as fast as I could without falling over the stones on the pathway.
I knew where she was.
I quickly turned the corner and climbed the steps two at a time and walked into the tower room, where there was no roof and rows and rows of owls.
Once upon a time when I was younger, before my dad died, just after he married Lydia, they had a fight. It’s the only one I can remember them having while I was there. I must have been about eight years old or so, and I was still very much grieving for my mother who had died not long before. I don’t remember what they argued about but I remember screaming and I remember my ex-stepsisters crying because they didn’t know what was happening. They were younger than I was but only by a year or two but I was still the brave big sister. I didn’t hide like they did; I walked right through the house and through to my daddy’s office, where he was sitting at his desk staring out of the bay window infront of it, which looked out onto our green garden and onwards to the little village nestled in the distance. That had been before Lydia convinced my father to move into the city. Before everything changed.
“Daddy?” I had said, and he had looked round at me, surprise colouring his face, soon replaced with an apologetic expression. He had said he was sorry if he had scared me, and gave the eight year old me a hug.
Then, for some reason unbeknownst to me now I told him “Make up with Lydia, Daddy.”
So he did. He bought her roses, red ones. He lit candles and turned on Celestina Warbeck and shooed me out of the room. And then he told her he was sorry for whatever it was, and that of course he would do whatever she had asked him and could they not fight anymore? And of course, she had said yes.
I doubted that a bouquet roses would fix this though.
I was sitting on the windowsill of a glassless window, stroking the velvet feathers on the head of a rather impressive eagle owl. The thing was staring at me with saucer sized amber eyes, which were shoulder height. He was beautiful, if slightly intimidating.
The owlery was a very cold, very dirty circular tower with only one room at the top, which you got to by climbing a set of stairs which were on the outside of the structure. It was freezing, even in summer, but it was a good hiding place. Because I’m so mature like that.
But I’d managed to find a spot that was clear of owl pellets and mouse skeletons and no sooner than I had made myself as comfortable as possible, the giant eagle owl had landed and not moved since. It was an odd situation, watching the great purple mountains around the castle, the forests of pine trees and the heather further up. We weren’t far from Inverness but it didn’t seem that way. It felt as if Hogwarts was as far away from everything as anything can be.
Then I heard someone running up the steps outside. I sighed angrily. My privacy was never going to last forever was it?
I wasn’t watching the doorway, mostly because I wasn’t interested in whom it was.
“Charlie.” I knew who it was. I knew before he spoke. I just hadn’t wanted to admit it. It was the voice I knew I would know in my sleep. “Charlie…” James repeated, “I need to speak to you.”
I looked up at him briefly, not for very long, but enough to see his eyes. He was hurt, even in the darkness of the owlery I could see that.
“So speak.” I said, colder than I’d meant to sound. Had I imagined the shadow of disappointment crossing his face?
He said nothing, so I looked back up at him and he was staring at me with a blank expression. I wouldn’t have known he was upset if the little twist of his mouth hadn’t given it away. His dark chocolate coloured hair, which was usually pretty unkempt, was utterly dishevelled. He’d been running his hands through it, like he always did when he was nervous. He was looking very tired. There were dark purple shadows under his eyes.
I realised I was staring and looked away sharply.
“I…” he started to say but with a jolt, I realised something.
“Wait.” I said, “Let me explain.” It wasn’t his fault that things had gone so sideways, so I decided to bloody well tell him what I was feeling.
He let out a relieved breath. I looked at the floor, thinking about how to word what I needed to say.
“I’m sorry.” I said finally. It was simple; much more so than anything I had thought of.
“Why?” James asked, surprising me slightly. He was looking at me with a peculiar expression, like he was trying to read my mind. Luckily he wasn’t much of a legillimens.
“Well…because I was so nasty up the-”
“Not that!” James interrupted, his voice hot with annoyance. I closed my mouth. “Why were you so horrible?”
“Oh.” My voice was quiet, flat and I thought I saw James blanch. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth….
“And before you say anything,” James began, interrupting me again “what the fuck is the matter with you?” My mouth hung open. I was surprised and offended. Very offended. I tried not to show it as he continued. His eyes were narrowed. James had one hell of a temper, as I knew quite well, but I was not used to having it’s full force directed at me.
“Since we got back to school, you’ve been insane! And I get it, your Dad died but I knew about that! I would have thought if you needed some attention you’d have been able to get some!” he snapped “how dare you take it out on my girlfriend?”
The offence I was feeling quickly dissipated and returned in the form of fully-fledged fury. How dare I?
“How dare I?” I repeated incredulously “how dare you bring my fucking dead father into this! How dare you let that harpy be so inexcusably horrible for so long and not do anything about it?”
“She wasn’t horrible to you! At least, not at first. Not until you started hexing her at every opportunity! Merlin Charlotte, we’re supposed to be friends. You’re supposed to support me.”
I blinked. Why had he said that? Surely friendship was supposed to work both ways…what, was it too hard to be my friend back? I tried to say that but all that came out was a muffled “what about me?”
He let out a malicious laugh “you? But Charlie, it’s all you. You beat Demeter up all the time and granted she’s a horrible person but really, give it up.”
I couldn’t be angry any more. I deserved this. I deserved that he was being horrible to me…wait. Did he just call Demeter a horrible person?
“And what’s more, you’ve not even told me why! So tell me Charlie, why have you been such a bitch?”
I blinked away tears, and even though I had a feeling that even he knew he was going too far now I said, “stop being so horrible James!” as loudly as I could.
He fell silent, and I managed to dislodge several sleeping owls. The eagle owl was now watching me from a high perch “I get it! For Merlin’s sake, I’ve been horrible to her. I get it. But could you just listen for a moment? Stop acting like you hate me James, because you don’t. You can’t hate me. I’ve been your best friend for so long now, I know when you’re faking it. I’ve finished essays, reports, bloody quidditch strategies! All for you because you were the only friend I had for so long. And this year, not even five hours into the term you have someone else.”
He looked down at the floor, absent-mindedly kicking an owl pellet out of the way.
“Fine. I don’t hate you. I’ll never be able hate you.” He said softly, his words meaning more than I could possibly understand “I’m sorry, alright? I know you apologised and so now I am.”
“James, don’t apologise.” I said, “Honestly, it was…”
“It was what?” he pressed, but I shook my head unable to remember what it was. He was looking directly into my eyes for the first time in days, searching them out.
“I don’t…know…anymore.” I said slowly. He looked annoyed, but only for the shortest second before his face became blank again.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked
“It means that I…can’t put this into words.” I said “But I’ll have a go.” I took a deep breath “I was jealous.” I said quietly.
“Jealous?” he asked incredulously “Of what?”
“Of you and Demeter!” I said, unable to believe that he didn’t comprehend anything that I was saying. He looked confused, which made me panic a little bit. Either I try to pass it off as sisterly, or I bloody well snog him stupid right there in the owlery. He stared at me.
We stood in awkward silence for a moment. I took a slow step forward, careful not to step on anything, because really, who needs mouse skeleton and owl pellets on their shoes? He looked so bloody adorable in the shadows, with his hair all over the place.
“Right, Charlie, just bloody well tell me alright?” He said, rubbing his temples “I haven’t got a clue what you’re going on about. I mean, if you were jealous that I was spending too much time with Demeter, you could have said, I mean-.”
“James…” I interrupted “Just shut up for a minute.”
And then, standing just inches from him now; I took his face in my hands and, standing on my tiptoes, pressed my lips to his. After a glorious second, I pulled my head back, cheeks burning, and looked into his face. He was staring back at me with the most peculiar expression on his face.
With a throaty growl, he had taken hold of my face and kissed me firmly on the mouth. Time seemed to stand still; they were long, lazy kisses that warmed me up in the cold air. I slipped my hands around his middle and held him tight, so I was sure that I wasn’t dreaming. So I knew that he was still there.
Wow. Well, there you are. They've finally done it.
I know, James was quite nasty in this chapter, but I'd like to clarify that he was basically at the end of his tether and snapped a little bit. Everyone's entitled to a breakdown every once in a while yeah?
Please, please review :) there's no way i would have gotten this far without your incredible reviews as support. I love you all. Lots.
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