Chapter 23 : Chapter Twenty-Three. Camilla.
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I put my head in my hands and wondered to myself if I was doomed to be eternally alone. Perhaps I would find someone equally as unfortunate in the ways of the heart, but I somehow began to doubt that. My head turned to Elsie, who was staring at me with a bemused, and yet friendly smile on her face.
“I suppose you’re waiting for your advice?” I asked, my voice raspy. She nodded staring at me with her eyes blank.
I wondered if she had matured like the rest of us in this quest. I couldn’t remember much about before the dare had begun, as it all happened rather fast after the winter holiday was over. Elsie had always been rather absentminded, but never dumb. We were careful with her, as she was always playing the role of the baby sister. Even if she hadn’t become more intelligent throughout this damned bet, she was definitely not the baby she had been before. And that was my burden to bear.
“Well,” I sighed. “There’s really only one thing to do. You have to tell Peter. He won’t be happy, Els, but if you let one of the guys tells him instead of you, that will just be worse, understand?”
She nodded, looking down as she tangled her hands together. I looked at her for quite some time, taking in the lush hair and the full lips, the smaller, round, innocent eyes.
“Milla, I never blamed you. You know that?” She looked at me.
“Yeah,” I breathed, although I wasn’t sure if I had known that. It was just easier than saying how I really felt. Elsie wasn’t the right person to dish every little hypocritical, self-pitying thought to. Or, maybe she was? But this wasn’t the right time.
“Do you?” She half-smiled at me, her eyes suddenly brighter.
“Sure, El, sure,” I gave a soft chuckle as reassurance, and then continued, using my hands to shoo her. “Go on, get!”
She glanced at me as she walked over to the heavy wood door. “Milla?”
“What now?” I said in a low voice.
“You’re not as horrible as you think you are.”
And with that she was gone, to go tell the bloke she loved all the good news. Sarcasm, of course. I silently wished her heaps of good luck, knowing that if anyone deserved not to come to the dark side, or get their dreams tumbling down, it was sweet and simple Elsie.
I tucked in the last corner of blanket to my bed and then stood back to admire my handiwork. Adjusting the pillows just a tad bit, I let my mind graze over to the inconvenient facts. One, Sirius and I weren’t on good terms. Two, I’d ruined essentially everyone’s love lives. Three, I didn’t have a plan to get us out of this fix. Four, I was a wee bit hungry. I stumbled over a lone black shoe on my way to my trunk, which, instead of being at the foot of my bed like the other girls’, I’d moved to be just under the window.
My eyes glanced outward, flowing over the Black Lake, seeing the shady trees of the Forbidden Forest, the glass roofs of the Herbology green houses, and even a few yards of the grassy area that surrounded the castle, the space between lake and forest. A single tree was reflecting the sun’s rays off the newly green leaves that were beginning to come in on the branches. My eyes widened as I took in the sight in front of me.
It wasn’t the spring blossoms that astounded me, nor was it the moving of the tree branches several miles away that I spotted in the forest. None of this was surprising. It was the sight of two people, one sitting, one leaning over the other, underneath the shade of the tree.
Lily and Sirius were talking, I saw, and they weren’t yelling. Lily was talking, and Sirius was listening, and then all of a sudden Lily was standing. She dusted off her rear end and then wiped underneath her eyes, checking for makeup running. Sirius opened his arms, and she nearly fell into them.
I watched as she planted a quick kiss on his cheek and he rubbed her back. The shock of what was happening nearly had me toppling over, but then I saw Lily’s tear stricken face, Sirius’s mournful gaze. I couldn’t help but tell myself that what I was seeing was something that was innocent. And envy could kiss my ass, because I knew my best friend wouldn’t do this to me, especially with James in her heart. But still, it was all a bit too much to take in, and I found myself stumbling backward, away from the window.
I pulled my hair back with a ribbon and then pulled my shirt down a bit, preparing myself to go out. I didn’t know what exactly I was going to do, but I knew I had to get out of that dormitory.
I opened the thick door, pushing one foot ahead of the other and walking through the drafty corridor to the common room. I was about to round the corner when I hear what sounded like sobbing. There was a scuffling of feet and then a small little crash, and then came more crying and murmuring.
“No!” Came a booming voice which I recognized as Remus’s.
Just when I’d stepped out of the shadows, I saw, about ten feet away from me, Remus pushing Mute. She stumbled back, landing in a heap on the floor.
“Hey!” I shouted. I raced towards my friend, the ribbon falling away from my hair and making my artificial blonde locks fall into my eyes as I felt my arm begin to rise. Before I could have known what I was doing, my fist collided with Remus’s face, a sickening crack resounding against the stone walls and floor.
“Ow!” I breathed, doubling over and grabbing my hand. Don’t let the rumors fool you—punching someone in the face hurts really, horribly bad. But as soon as I saw Remus stumble backward and cup his face in his hands, I bent over Mute and grabbed her elbow with my good hand.
She was staring at me, complete shock and terror evident upon her face, her eyes flicking from me to Remus. I pulled her up harshly and then started to walk.
“Get up, hun, let’s go.”
She finally started to walk with me and then turned to stare back at the guy who’d just thrown her against a wall.
I felt anger and confusion bubble into my brain as I clutched Mute’s arm and walked to the hospital wing. All of this was coming so far—the bet, the sex, the blackmail, the Lily/Sirius rubbish, Mute being attacked by her lover, all this was so unexpected, so unprecedented.
“What was that all about?” I asked roughly.
“We fought, we kissed, and he got frustrated. I don’t know, Cam, it was so strange,” she sounded weak. I looked at her out of the corner of my eye and could see the build up of tears.
“What’s all this then?” Madame Pomfrey shrieked as we walking into the airy hospital wing. I looked around, wondering why she was so angry if we were the only patients she had to tend to right now.
“We, er, had an accident?” I tried. She didn’t bother asking anymore, as I sensed she knew we weren’t going to tell her.
A few hours later, I was walking away with a newly mended hand, wrapped securely in a cast for overnight healing. Mute was strolling beside me, her head down, glancing at the floor. She was merely bruised and confused, but physically in good shape.
“It’s not your fault, Mute, you know that?” I said.
She looked up at me, startled, it seemed, to have heard me utter a word. I looked back at her as we walked.
“I know that Milla, I know. But, in some way I just never pictured Remus losing his temper. It is my fault!” She exclaimed, suddenly changing her countenance. “If I hadn’t pushed him over the edge, if I hadn’t kissed him and deceived him in the first place. I ruined him.”
“And I ruined you. You can't seriously blame yourself, Mute.”
“You didn’t ruin me. You freed me.”
“Are you mental?”
“I’m serious,” she glanced at me, her expression annoyed. “I was so dull before the bet. I had been on one date, had no experience, didn’t know anything about life. But now, I have…well, no, I don’t have Remus. I had him though, and that makes it somewhat bearable.”
“You lasses and your corny monologues. I swear, Elsie did the same thing. Telling me that I shouldn’t put all the negativity on myself for the bet. I say we just try to sort this out, and get on with out lives.”
“Wait, Camilla, I need to ask you something. Normally, I wouldn’t, but since it might be serious…well I need to know.”
“Go on,” I muttered, waiting to hear what she had to ask. Her eyes glanced up from the floor and then fluttered back down.
“Mil, what exactly is the ‘Or Else’?”
I stood there, in the middle of the grand staircase as the stairs we were on began to shift. My eyes were wide and almost filling with tears. I’d completely forgotten. I’m such a bitch.
“Mute, I don’t think you want to know.”
“I have to!” She exclaimed. “I need to know what I’m up against, since Remus and I…didn’t.”
“I’m so sorry,” I cried, tears streaming down my cheeks. I began to hastily wipe them away, completely aware that we weren’t alone, but were somewhat private, as no one else had joined us on this particular staircase.
“Tell me,” She closed her eyes, bracing herself for it.
I took a very deep breath, and then let it out in one quick sentence, “The or else was…you don’t get to stay with your guy.”
“Pardon?” Mute asked, not opening her eyes.
“Mute, I knew that it was inevitable that we’d grow attached. I just…didn’t think anyone wouldn’t be able to do it. I needed to make it somewhat motivating for myself! I knew that it wasn’t actually a bad thing for me, as I don’t think I’m staying with Sirius anyway, but I knew that if I hyped it up to be something terrible, well you’d want to get it over with so you wouldn’t have to face it. I’m so sorry.”
“So…I won’t be with Remus?” Her voice sounded heartbroken, confused, yet strangely detached.
“All this fighting, the feelings that you’re having, the simple split, it’s all because of me. Remus wants to be with you, he wants to forget this all and just be with you, because he loves you. I know it. But…the contract was magically binding. The feelings he has won’t overpower the magic that’s telling him otherwise,” I sniffled. “I made sure of it.”
Mute stared up at me, her wide chocolate brown eyes burning into mine like fire into my heart. I felt terrible.
“Milla…I…I need to go.”
I watched her walk calmly away from me up the staircases. I didn’t move, I just slumped down, crouching into a ball and sobbing as the stairs once again began to shift and people climbed all around me. Students walked upward and downward, all of them noticeably gazing at me, but none of them seeing me.
So, this chapter was really dramatic, as were the last few. And I'm sorry about that. Haha, but I really think it's essential that we get past all the confessions and heartbreaking to get to a resolution.
Well, you all finally got to know what the 'Or Else' is. Mute and Remus will not be ending up together. I can practically hear all the hearts breaking. I'm sorry guys. I set the OR Else and who was going to complete the dare before everyone began becoming attached to the couple.
That being said, even though I know you're probably disappointed, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Please review.
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