Chapter 13 : Balancing Act
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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything! This is all J.K.Rowling
Chris jumped out of his seat as soon as class was over and was out the door before I had even stood up. At least I wouldn’t have any more classes with him until my Defense Against the Dark Arts class on Monday. Maybe he’ll have cooled off by then. Hopefully.
I struggled to pay attention in History of Magic but my thoughts kept drifting. It was easy for my mind to wander in that class. Professor Binns had such a monotonous voice and the subject was dry. I found myself staring at the back of Potter’s head, scribbling random words that I caught from the old ghost’s lecture.
My mind was juggling two things. The first being my confrontation with Chris earlier, the second being my growing irritation with Potter. I had been hoping that, given some time, Chris would begin to get over us. I knew I had hurt him when I broke up with him, but I guess I had been expecting him to handle it a little more maturely.
As for Potter, I was at a loss as to where I stood with him. I couldn’t continue to balance on this point between hating him and falling for him; it was disastrous for my temper. On the one hand, I couldn’t let myself fall for him. It was pointless pursuing him at all if he had in fact given up on me, because I would just end up getting hurt. I couldn’t willingly inflict that kind of pain on myself. But on the other hand, I did not want to fall back into my old patterns of hating him. It could be different this time since he no longer had feelings for me; he might just leave me alone. But at the same time, hating Potter would set me back to the years when I wasn’t even friends with Sirius or Remus. I wasn’t sure I could let them go so easily.
I chewed on the end of my quill, not noticing that Pippa had her black notebook out and was scribbling something inside. She elbowed me when I did not look at my own book and I quickly pulled out my own book with the elaborate gold “L” on the cover. I flipped quickly through several pages that were already full of notes and finally came to a note written in Pippa’s loose script. It suggested that we have the first official Girl Talk of the year tonight.
I thought through this for a minute. It might be a good idea to let the Clique know what’s going on in my head about Potter. Of course, this could also be a bad idea. They might try to push me one way or the other. I shouldn’t underestimate them though; they had come through for me more than I admit. It would also be a good excuse to get out of the Heads Dorm for a bit. I sighed internally. It was only the second day of school and I had spent more time in the Gryffindor tower than my own room.
I’m in, I wrote in my messy scrawl. I saw Marley’s and Emilie’s distinguished scripts appear beneath my instantly, saying the same.
I still hadn’t made up my mind on whether I would discuss my situation with Potter when I walked up the steps to the girls’ dormitory later that night. It felt deceitful, keeping something like this from them. They were my best friends; they might be able to help me make up my mind. After all, who knew me better than the girls I had lived with for the past six years?
I opened the door without knocking tonight to find my friends in the same positions as I found them last night. Pippa was painting her toenails a dark red tonight, Emilie was still somehow pulling clothes out of her trunk to hang up, and Marley was flipping through her Transfiguration book.
“Hey Lils,” Emilie greeted me with a smile as she appeared next to her bed.
I took my usual place on Pippa’s bed next to her as she finished painting her nails and screwed the cap back on the bottle. Marley shut the book she was reading and sat up as Emilie sat down next to her.
“I have something I need to talk about,” I said tentatively. Pippa furrowed her brow as she sat up straighter. She was obviously surprised I hadn’t talked about this to her first as I usually did. A small concerned frown appeared on Marley’s face and Emilie raised her eyebrows at me, surprised like Pippa. I didn’t usually volunteer a topic of discussion at Girl Talk.
“Go ahead, Lily,” Emilie said in her light soprano voice. “We’re listening.”
“Okay,” I swallowed before continuing. I had no idea how they would receive this. “So you guys know how I broke up with Chris last summer and all that stuff that happened with Potter and I that last night of school.”
“Yes, I believe you mentioned it…” Pippa smirked. Of course, I had gone into more detail of it with Pippa than with Emilie and Marley and I felt slightly guilty about that. We were all supposed to be equal in each other’s eyes but I couldn’t deny that I relied on Pippa more than the others, even though I tried not to.
“Well, I’m starting to think that those two events might be more related than I had originally planned…” I cringed at my own words. “I’ve been starting to notice some weird feelings when I’m around Potter. I don’t think I like him, but I think I could and I’m not sure if I want that…” I paused, trying to think of what to say next as my friends continued to stare at me with rapt attention.
“The way I see it, I have two options. Neither of them interest me that much, to be honest,” I said shrugging casually. “The first is that I could go back to my former dislike of Potter and everything he does. The problem though, is that I run the risk of losing Sirius and Remus as well.”
Pippa’s eyes flashed at that and I quickly went on to option two. “Or I could let myself fall for Potter, which is just a horrible idea anyways. He told me a last night that he’s with Holly now and after not hearing from me all summer, he’s given up completely. So that would be pointless and I would just end up getting hurt. And I can’t keep going like I am now. It’s wreaking havoc on my temper because I can’t decide whether I like him or hate him.”
The girls stayed silent for a few minutes and I glanced around at them, waiting for someone to speak. Pippa was chewing on her bottom lip, her brow still furrowed in concentration. Marley was staring at me, measuring the expression on my face. Emilie was scratching her nose, staring out the window.
“Lily?” Marley’s soft musical voice broke the silence. We all looked towards her. “I really don’t think James has just given up on you.”
My heartbeat quickened, just hearing the possibility. I waited for her to continue.
“I mean, think about it logically. He’s been in love with you practically since the first time he saw you. I just can’t believe he would stop liking you so suddenly. He might just be putting on a show, so you don’t see how hurt he actually is that you rejected him last year. I mean, after six years of loving someone wouldn’t you get tired of being so vulnerable all the time?”
I cringed at that, remembering how I felt after my argument with Potter last night. I knew what it was like to feel vulnerable. I couldn’t even imagine what six years of that would be like. Maybe Marley had a point.
“So he may actually be trying to get over you, Lily,” Marley continued. “But I doubt he’ll succeed. He still likes you. It’s obvious. Especially after the way he acted at lunch when Sirius said you two were hanging out. If he had truly given up on you, he wouldn’t have reacted like that.”
“So what do I do?” I asked hopelessly. I wasn’t so sure I was ready to fall for Potter of all people. “He’s with Holly.”
“Well, you could start by being nice to him?” Emilie suggested, trying to suppress a smile.
“But he’s so infuriating. Every time I try to be nice to him, something happens and I end up being mad at him again,” I explained, clenching my fists. “I suppose I could try to be civil to him at rounds tonight. Though last night I kind of exploded and said we should do rounds separately…”
Pippa chuckled lightly and threw her arm around my shoulder, resting her head against me. “What are we going to do with you, Lily?”
“Don’t put up with me. I’m too ridiculously fickle,” I sighed resting my head on hers.
“But that’s why we love you,” Emilie said softly, moving to sit on the other side of me. “We want you to be happy. You know we liked Chris, but perhaps James would be better for you. You two are more similar than I think you realize. You know we’ll stand by you whatever you decide.”
Marley nodded and came to sit on her knees in front of us.
“I think this will work out, Lily,” Marley said soothingly. “A lot of people have been waiting for this to happen. I don’t think you’ll have to wait long for Potter to fall back to you.”
I smiled, despite my skepticism. In terms of love, I had always been a pessimist. I had been lucky to be with Chris for so long but my relationships before that had never lasted and I had always been the one with a broken heart.
I walked back to my own dormitory after we spent the rest of Girl Talk discussing my outing with Sirius tomorrow night and Marley’s newest crush on a sixth year Ravenclaw by the name of Liam Lawson.
The common room was empty when I entered and I assumed Potter was in his room. It was getting close to time for patrol and I had decided, with the help of the Clique, to ask him if he wanted to do rounds together tonight. It was going against my better judgment to offer this olive branch to Potter, but if the Clique thought it would help, I had to try right?
I still had a few minutes before we needed to leave so I went into my room to make sure I looked okay. I combed my fingers through my wavy auburn hair, making sure there was no frizz and I dabbed on some mascara from a bottle that I hadn’t opened in probably two years. It was an odd concept for me, making myself look nice for Potter. This was going to take a lot of getting used to. Maybe I’d be lucky and what I thought were feelings for Potter turned out to be something else, like a disease or an infection.
I glanced at the ornate gold clock hanging on my wall and saw that it was time for patrol so I went across the common room and knocked softly on Potter’s door.
I heard a scuffle from inside and Potter appeared at the door, opening it only a crack. He looked surprised to see me there.
“Time for patrol,” I offered softly.
“Shit,” he muttered as he ran his hands through his messy black hair. “I forgot. I’ll be just a minute. You can go ahead and get started.”
“Um, actually I thought maybe we could do rounds together,” I said through clenched teeth. I never thought I’d see the day when I actually wanted to hang out with Potter. “I think I was a bit hasty last night…”
“Oh,” he breathed, looking sincerely taken aback. “Um, well Holly was going to come with me tonight, but if you want to go togeth—“
“Jamie, is it time for rounds?” I heard a high breathy voice float to us from inside his room. My stomach clenched and I ground my teeth together. She was in there? I couldn’t have felt like more of an idiot.
“Uh, yeah” he called back turning his head to the side to talk to her. He looked back to me, an apology written plainly on his face.
My self control snapped and I drew in a ragged breath.
“Never mind,” I said quickly as I turned to leave. “I’ll go alone.”
“Jamie, I’m ready. Let’s go,” Holly appeared at the door next to James. I didn’t turn around as I strode out the door.
I walked quickly down the corridor, wanting to be out of the way when they left also. I was practically running when I finally turned onto a corridor on the south side of the castle where I had begun my patrol last night.
My head was still reeling with what just happened. I had tried to be nice, really. Like I told the Clique earlier, it was like every time I made an effort something happened to send us spinning off course again. It seemed like he was actually sorry that he couldn’t go with me, thought I couldn’t be sure. I mentally cursed Holly and her entire existence as I roamed the deserted halls.
I was getting extremely frustrated with myself and my stupid vulnerability in the common room and I needed to think about something else. I started counting each step I took down the corridors and I had almost reached nine hundred when I heard footsteps from around the next corner.
My heartbeat quickened and I held my breath. Other than finding a random couple in a broom closet, I had rarely come across anyone out this late at night. It had to be almost one o’clock by this time. I was at the south-most end of the castle. Potter shouldn’t be anywhere near here. Unless it was a teacher, but why would they be out so late? I silently slipped my want out from within my robes and clutched it tightly in my right hand.
I rounded the corner slowly so as not to take whoever was there by surprise. I froze and lowered my wand when I saw who was standing in front of me.
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