( Okay, to all my readers - of other stories and of this- I have to apologize for the increasingly sluggish updates! I'm not only going to bother giving any of my excuses because they're all incredibly lame and involve opera and the Danube River. Anyway, I am trying to get going on all of my stories an pump out some updates here soon but I can only write in class so much before my teachers start noticing that I'm not actually taking notes.
So, moving on to this chapter, I'm not exactly sure if I like it or not... it's seems kind of bland and rushed to me, but who knows? Maybe you guys will find it entertaining!
<3 RED <3 )
Chapter 11~ Attack of the Deja Vu
We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.
~W. Somerset Maugham
Every muscle in my body tensed.
I recognized this feeling, through the fog of repressed memory. It assaulted my brain like a very sharp labor pain. I was frozen exactly where I was, still clutching the tapestry with one foot in front of the other, practically mid-stride. I tried to move or swallow or even breathe but it didn't work. My body refused to listen to the panicked messages my brain was sending. But, then again, why did that surprise me? My body never listened, Rory was living proof of that fact.
RUN, RUN, RUN! What are you DOING, you blithering pathetic idiot?!
But, when the blonde he was snogging realized his distraction and pulled away, I wasn't seeing her. Instead, I saw Gianna Stiles, so long ago, smirking with satisfaction that she had the pleasure of seeing me cry.
But I wasn't crying this time (thank Merlin).
I actually think I managed to stutter out an apology before I dropped the tapestry and ran. Actually I'm pretty sure I did because otherwise I'd never have noticed how chapped my own lips were.
But just like last time, I heard Sirius call behind me and I didn't turn around. I slowed my run into a canter and rounded the corner. Just like last time, my limbs switched to autopilot and, without my brain's conscent, took me to a place I'd sworn, when I came back here, that I wouldn't revisit.
I don't know why I was surprised to see the cushy chair and the crackling fire, unchanged from the night I'd sobbed in front of them. But I was. And the only difference between then and now was that I wasn't sobbing this time, I just stared.
My brain seemed to have developed some sort of defense mechanism that made it shut down after something particularly stressful or traumatic. Like, for instance... oh, I dunno maybe, walking in on your ex, the father of your child's, foreplay (AGAIN!). I sunk into the chair and stared into the flames. I wasn't thinking about anything, just staring unseeingly ahead as they danced and flittered around the fireplace.
I honestly have no idea how long I sat in that familiar little room, only semiconcious.
But, when my fozen body finally thawed and my brain began to form coherent thoughts again, I found myself asking why I was being so thick. Why was I acting like a melodramatic psycho? It wasn't as if he meant anything to me anymore, like he had then. So, why was I in this room acting like it was a big deal?
I huffed at my own stupidity. This was absolutely ridiculous, the whole thing was absurd. I was bored to death in classes, keeping secrets from my friends, fending off my cousin like he was a leper and the offer to join the elusive Order of the Phoenix was just a tease of my old dream and now my ex was getting to me again. So, why was I even still here, when I could just as easily finish seventh year from home and start work as a Healer right away? I had no answer.
And, instead of searching for one I did exactly what I should have a week ago. I did what I do best.
I gathered myself up and stepped out into a different corridor than I'd come in through. But I couldn't possibly have cared less, I knew exactly where I was going. There were only two fireplaces I could have really used without any questions being asked. And, as I wasn't quite certain my overly curious cousin had left the Heamaster's office yet and also didn't want Dumbledore bringing up the Order again, there was only one of the two I knew would be available immediately- waiting was not an option.
I hastened to the double doors with anticipation rumbling through my stomach and pumping throughout my veins. The hairs on my neck and arms stood up as a chill ran down my spine. I was really doing this. Determination was clutched firmly in my grasp and I was not relenting. My chest swelled with it as I entered the hospital wing and my heart rejoiced at what this meant.
Madame Pomfrey was forcing tonic down some poor soul's throat when I burst through the doors but I was far too excited to notice who it was. Too fixed on my purpose to see anything- or anyone-else.
I must have looked like a madwoman, judging by her alarmed expression when she looked at my frazzled face. I must have looked wild. I could feel the manic glitter in my eye, the satisfied grin on my face from my cowardly side's triumphant return- jumping for joy at what was coming.
Without a word, she ushered me into her office- leaving whoever she'd been attending to fend for themselves.
"What? What's happened?" She asked without prelude. Her face was already pale and tensed with worry.
"Nothing," I assured her quickly, in a voice I barely recognized as my own. Still riding the wave of adrenaline. The coward in me was on a sort of high from such a victory. My heart was soaring, I felt light as a feather. "Nothing at all." I was breathless but I managed to ask, "Mind if I use your fireplace? I'm leaving."
Her eyebrows knit together, forehead wrinkled in confusion. "Leaving?"
I pushed a hideous flash of deja vu down, unwilling to remember what happened last time I told someone I was leaving Hogwarts like this. The only thing that kept the vomit down was the fact that the nightmare would soon be over. I'd be home with my baby in a matter of minutes if I made this goodbye short.
She studied me and, being the sharp woman she was asked, "Are you planning on coming back?"
"No." I answered, then I amended it. "Well, I'll come back for my things tomorrow," I told her hastily. "Or I could just ask Effie to send them. Though how she'd get my entire trunk to me is a bit of a-"
"Airy," she cut through my babbling. "What are you talking about? Yo-"
"I can't stay here. I don't- There isn't any reason for me too. I've already learned most of the material and I can't stand lying. I can't pretend things are back to normal. I'm lying to my friends, my cousin is suspicious and m-" I caught myself before uttering words I was sure to regret. Instead I redirected what I was going to say to, "I miss Rory." Oh and I just caught her clueless man-whore father in a corridor groping some bint. AGAIN!
She shook her head. "But what happened, sweet?"
Sorrow twinged in the guilty conscience of the corageous Gryffindor (who'd been bound, gagged and locked up in a closet-like chamber somewhere in my brain). The endearment reminded me of why I'd stayed for this long. My friends and Madame Pomfrey, Rory's and my future, the things about this castle I'd missed. I was absolutely positive she'd done that on purpose. To soften me up.
I lost a bit of my composure. "N-nothing. It was- I just- Nothing," I stammered. "I-I just need to see Aurora." It took me a few minutes longer than it should've to realize I was crying.
The nurse sighed wearily. "Alright, don't tell me what happened. That's fine. But it doesn't mean you've got to run off again."
I opened my mouth to protest but she held up her hand to silence me.
"Go home. See Rory. Have a visit. Then, come back in a few hours and continue your schooling. I'll tell Dumbledore and, if anyone asks, I will say you were feeling ill and needed to lie down. Your absence will be excused."
Everything but my alibi sounded reasonable. Falling ill after an incident with my ex and a conquest was just a little too familiar to me.
"If anyone, but Dumbledore or McGonagall, asks where I am just say you don't know," I amended. She held out a little purple pouch for me and I dipped my hand in for what I knew would be Floo Powder. "Thank you," I told her. And, without waiting for a response, I stepped into the fire.
The spinning felt wonderful, the whooshing in my ears was music and when it all stopped I was home.
Almost immediately I locked eyes with the most beautiful creature in my world, drinking in everything from the tiniest freckle to the new scab on her knee (I'd inquire about this to my mother there). I was terrified that I'd missed something important. I'd been dreading the changes I was bound to see in her when I returned. But, obviously, a mere week was not enough for said changes to occur. The only thing I noticed- besides the knee thing- was that my memory of her was almost insulting. She was far more gorgeous, my mind's eye hadn't done her justice at all.
She grinned stunningly at me and, seconds later, I'd swooped her into my arms and clutched her to my chest. A warm feeling tingled through my veins and my ex's extra curricular activities were suddenly thrust into that chamber of repression at the back of my brain. I felt complete again, body and soul.The world was back on it's axis again, if only for a few hours.
"Oh I missed you, sweetheart!"
"Ha! She only lasted a week- cough it up, Lici!"
I looked up to see the A-listers sprawled out in various places of my sitting room with an array of Muggle sweets.
"Oh, this is just not normal." I grinned, in too high of spirits to pay mind to the bet they'd made on me. "You lot are here even when I'm gone?"
"Well! You've got the best telly and my mum was coming over here to visit yours anyway," Mia shrugged but I saw equal heaps of happiness and confusion in her eyes. She hadn't expected me back so soon.
I sighed as if it was a great burden to have to deal with them and said, "Well, I suppose since you're already here that I-aaah!"
Aidan had thrown a pillow at me.
"Aidan James!" I exclaimed, as if I was scandalized. I moved to sit beside Aubrey on the cushy couch I'd spent so many late night studying on, still clutching Rory to me. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to hit a girl?"
"Yeah," he replied in a artificially dry voice, fighting a grin. "But she was also the one to tell me that Santa was real and babies come from the stork."
"Aw, does wittle Aidan need some sex education?" Adam asked cheekily.
Ames chimed in, "Well, when a man and woman love each other very much they-"
I didn't hear the rest because Aubrey had covered Rory's ears and scolded, "Oi! Little impressionable ears here!"
"Who, you or Rory?" her twin retorted.
She glowered at him and I saw Alicia smirked.
I didn't have much time to ponder it however, because Rory had evidently decided I needed to know of everything she'd done over they week. Since her vocabulary was still limited (as she was only one) she mostly showed me. First the picture she'd scribbled, then she directed me in her own way to go to her room so she could show me the teddy bear and various other toys her grandmother had bought her (I would have to talk to my mother about spoiling her) and finally she conveyed that she wanted me to open her closet. I saw that my mother had bought her several new outfits one of which was nearly identical to one she'd put me in when I was Rory's age.
We went back down to the sitting room with the A-listers and I listened carefully to my daughter's baby slur as she tried to tell me about her trip to the zoo and the playground, the breakfast she'd had this morning and the bath she'd taken last night. I barely caught a word but listened with interest all the same. It made me feel less disconnected if I knew what she'd been up to.
"Airy? What are you doing here? Visiting already?"
I turned to see my mother and Mia's in the doorway. I attempted a smile and nodded vehemently.
"She just couldn't stay away from me," Ames exclaimed dramatically throwing a hand to his forehead in a damsel-in-distress fashion.
"Yeah, right. That's the reason, I'm sure." Aubrey replied dryly as we all rolled our eyes.
"It couldn't be... oh, I dunno, that she wanted to see her daughter or anything," Mia added, tone dripping with sarcasm.
Ames pretended to consider the possibility for a moment. "Nah, I don't think that's it."
All three of the girls smacked his head.
"You've got to stop that," a disgruntled Ames mumbled. "Bloody syncronization. You'd think they planned it."
"Oh, we do," Alicia smirked. "We have secret gatherings and rituals for it and everything."
"Do these rituals involve you in a cat suit?"
"What do you think, perv?"
A wolfish grin spread acrossed his lips and several of us shook our heads- anticipating the inevitable.
Sure enough Alicia smacked him hard on the head again.
Our banter continued as we stared a new movie and Rory settled comfortably into my lap. By the end of the romantic film, my baby was asleep on my chest, I was lying against Aidan, and Adam and Ames were complaining loudly about the sappy love story.
"Can we start and action one now?" Adam asked like a five year old whining for ice cream. "Or do you have to go back to Hog's-Ass?"
"Hogwarts, Adam. Hog- warts," I corrected. "And I can stay for one more." I was in no hurry whatsoever to get back to school anytime soon. No doubt, Alice or James or Lily or someone would be looking for me by now. But I really couldn't bring myself to go back yet, I couldn't bring myself to care when I was happily lying there with my sleeping little one and my Muggle friends.
It was so strange to think that a few hours ago I'd been fleeing the harassment of my cousin and headmaster, and ran smack dab into my ex as his fingers once again made the familiar path up a girl's skirt. Yet, here I was, happy and comfortable at home with my daughter in my arms again and my friends surrounding me and making me laugh with their effortless banter. As if nothing had happened.
I smiled with satisfaction at this. It was confirmation of what I'd already known. I was (mild freak-out earlier aside) completely and totally and utterly over Sirius Orion Black.
My heart felt heavy when I returned to the castle.
I'd bid my Muggle friends goodbye, when I realized it was well past my Hogwarts curfew, and regretfully set my still sleeping daughter in her bed. Instantly, I felt hallow again. How on earth was I going to manage leaving her? AGAIN!
Without my consent, tears began to slid down my cheeks. I swiped them away quickly as if someone was going to see them in this deserted corridor. I moved through the hallways (armed by a note from Madam Pomfrey saying I'd been ill, she'd given me a potion and I was now being sent back to my dorm for the night so I should be allowed out after curfew) like a ghost. Or I felt like one at least.
I was still caught in the world so different from this one. The world I'd lived in for nearly two years with my daughter and my Muggle friends.
I couldn't bring myself to fully return back to the world my body now inhabited. The one where I was just another Hogwarts student, where my biggest responsibility was homework and N.E.W.T. preparation, where my problems were a promiscuous ex, a secretive best friend and two others in complete denial. In this one, I was just another notch on Sirius Black's bedpost (certainly not mother of his child!). I was James Potter's cousin. I was a prefect and a bookworm.
I wanted to stay in the real world. The one where my mistakes were behind me and I was a responsible young woman. The one where my best friends were a pack of sarcastic Muggle teenagers who had movie nights at least three times a week. The one where I had a surprisingly precocious one year old and studied magic at my own pace on my own terms.
With a strange jolt, I realized why exactly I was so anxious to stay in that world.
I didn't remember how to be a normal teenage witch.
It was strange not to have a one year old on my hip, not to be taking care of everyone. It was beyond weird to be back with witches and wizards who were not only unrelated (with the exception of James) but also my age.
I don't know what I expected. I couldn't honestly have thought that after popping out a baby and living in the mostly-Muggle world for so long that I could just go back to hogwarts like nothing happened. Especially not with-
"Oooaaahh!" I nearly jumped out of my skin as I crossed the Common Room.
Something or someone had moved in the shadowy corner. It wasn't until I whipped around, tensed for battle- wand at the ready, that I realized who (or what) had intruded in my thoughts so rudely.
"Well, hello to you too, Hazy. Did I scare you?"
I narrowed my eyes at him as he came out of the shadow. "You wish."
The only light was the nearly full moon streaming through the windows. It made he white shirt look blue, bringing out those familiar cobalt blues. He looked fantastic and I hated him for it.
Why was it that the worst people always had the best looks? It seemed completely unfair that I stood there in ratty old, holey jeans (I'd changed at home) and a faded football jersey of Aidan's, smelling like Merlin only knows what with the hair of a mad scientist while he smirked maliciously and still managed to look like a Greek god!
My pulse was crashing in my ears but I attributed it to the fright I'd gotten when he appeared out of the shadows. My stomach turned sickeningly and my throat was dry as a bone. But I still somehow managed a sarcastic, "You know, in most cultures, it's considered creepy to stalk in shadowy corners late at night."
"Not if you're waiting for someone," he grinned wolfishly.
I was about to tell him that, yes, waiting for people in dark corners late at night was still considered creepy, but his words clicked with his image and my slow mind caught up to their meaning.
That's why he was down here at midnight, he was waiting for some poor, unfortunate victim. I said a silent prayer that she didn't get pregnant like I had. Rory was the best thing that had happened to me, but I'd gotten ridiculously lucky in my situation. Other girls didn't have the amazing, empathatic mother and the mental maturity to become pregnant so early in life.
"Ugh, well then I'm getting out of here before she comes," I started towards the steps. "Happy snogging! Hope she doesn't give you anymore STDs than you've probably got already!"
Before I could move more than a few steps an electric curent jolted through my body and that hideous thing called deja vu attacked again. That's because a strong hand had closed around my wrist.
And just like last time I stood alone in the Common Room with him, he whirled me around. Only, this time, he didn't kiss me (thank Merlin, because I'd have kneed him in his family jewels if he'd tried it- and I didn't want to go anywhere near his jewels again), instead he smirked and said, "You know, in most schools, Prefects are supposed to follow rules and be in bed by curfew."
I ripped my wrist from his grip and retorted with, "Ever heard of patrols, moron?"
He smirked, "You weren't on patrol."
"How do you know?"
"The Head Boy is my best mate."
"So? He's my cousin."
He scoffed, a slightly amused expression dancing on his features. "Some cousin you are."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I could feel the indignance and outrage on my face. Why could I never control my temper around him? Why was it so incredibly easy for this idiot to get a rise out of me?
Because he's an insufferable git. A voice in my head reminded me bitterly.
Oh, that. Right.
"How many times have you seen him in the past two years?"
"And how many family get togethers have you dodged?"
"I didn't dodge them because of James!"
"I know," he didn't look amused anymore. He looked like Will when he drank milk straight from the carton without checking the expiration date. Or, better, Rory when I made her eat something healthy. "But he still suffered for it."
"Oh please," I waved this away. "James was fine without me. I'm not his bloody mother for Merlin's sake!" I tried not to put too much ephasis on the his.
He shrugged. "Whatever you say, Hazy."
"Ugh! Why am I even talking to you? I'm exhausted so I'm going to bed and in the morning I'm going to go back to ignoring you like I have been."
"So you're not going to tell me where you were then?"
"Why should I? It's none of your business." Well, unless you think my visiting our daughter is any of your business.
"Well, I already know you weren't in the castle, or on the grounds."
"How would you know that?" I asked like the incredible moron I am.
He grinned and pulled out a piece of parchment.
"Yeah, oh. How easily you forget, Haze."
"Went out through a secret passage way? Left the grounds to go meet your Muggle boyfriend and steal his shirt?"
I glowered up at him through infinitesimal eyes. "No. I was in the Room of Requirement, you half-wit."
I don't know what made me say it. Why, of all the things I could have said, all the cover stories I could have fed him, why, oh why had I said that? I instantly regretted it because the awkward silence that followed was more pregnant than I had been with Aurora.
So many things, so many memories, flashed through my mind. Every fuzzy detail from that adrenaline-powered night rippled through my mind. And I could tell that he was reliving the exact same night. His eyes were full and his mouth was open vacantly. I prayed that he couldn't see me blushing because I knew he'd assume that meant I was still some lovesick puppy when it came to him (which I completely wasn't).
"Well," I cleared my throat, awkwardly. "Best leave you to your snog. Wouldn't want the poor girl to think she's getting sloppy-seconds." I wanted to add that technically she'd be getting sloppy four hundredths seeing as it was Sirius, especially since I'd caught him earlier with his tongue down someone's throat (Could that really have only been this afternoon?It felt like ages ago).
I didn't wait to hear what he had to say, instead, I hurried as fast as I could up the staircase and crept quietly into my dorm.
Inside, my friends all seemed to be sleeping, but I suspected differently. Their slow, deep breaths were too slow, too measured. There was no doubt in my mind that they'd all waited and wondered where their mysterious best friend had snuck off to. But I knew they wouldn't ask in the morning. They would remember my erratic moods and bizzare behavior in fifth year and assume I'd never grown back out of it.
I slipped out of my jeans and went to bed in Aidan's jersey, too lazy to get out my actual pyjamas. Then I slid between the warm sheets and laid there until morning came. I didn't attempt sleep. I knew it would be a futile effort so I let my mind relive my Rory visit and the unplanned movie night with my friends.
My thoughts lingered on my mother's words of wisdom before I'd left. "Be brave, sweetheart. It'll all be over soon." Yeah, easy for her to say.
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