Chapter 8 : Always
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Anyways, a little note about this chapter: it's a bit more serious then the others. I'm not going to say it's dramatic, since (in my opinion) I don't think it is...But... Well, you can decide for yourself I guess.
This chapter is not beta'd. I know, I'm really behind on the beta-ing, but I just wanted to submit this before the queue closes!
Oh, and (this is completely unrelated to everything, by the way) I was just wondering...Have you guys read the Percy Jackson and the Olympian novels? By Rick Riordan? I just started them and they are SO good. I think they're for kids a little younger then me (since I discovered them in the childrens section--*sheepish grin*), but I still found them really enjoyable. They're a lot like Harry Potter, so if you like HP (which you obviously do, since you're on this site) and if you like Greek Mythology (which is what the whole book is about), I would totally recommend them.
Anyways, enough with my blabbering. Let's get on with it, shall we? Thanks, and please review if you have the time!
A/N.2: Chapter is officially beta'd :)
Disclaimer: I own nada. Zilch. Zip. Nothing.
I have to say, I’m starting to think that, right now, my life is in serious need of some re-evaluation. I mean, the number of physical confrontations (Dom’s birthday, Peeves, Merriam, etc. etc.) I have encountered over the past 30 days has exceeded the number of dates I’ve had...ever. Honestly. That is when you know you’ve hit rock bottom.
After seeing Rose with Scorpius, Potter went sort of...insane. Not the fun, dancing-around-naked-and-talking-to-fruit kind of insane, mind you. No. This was different... Scarier. And much more violent. I had personally been forced to hold Potter down as Scorpius fled for his life. And let me tell you, Potter is really strong. I had to sit on him in order to enforce any sort of restraint.
Maybe it’s time for me to start taking up some of those kick-boxing/yoga/dance/water aerobics classes Mum had mentioned a while back. I bet these types of situations would be a lot easier to handle if I were more physically fit.
Anyways, after Scorpius ran away, I had to endure a sixty-minute long rant as Potter raved on to Rose about “house loyalty” and “family duty” and what not. It was mad boring, but I couldn’t leave in case Potter had another bout of temporary insanity and decided to go on an angry rampage and break all the furniture in the castle. Or, you know, whatever it is that loony people do (which I don’t know, seeing as I am not crazy. Obviously).
So, long story short, by the time I finally got back to the dormitory, it was way past midnight. And I was exhausted.
I cracked the door open, making sure to tiptoe inside so that I wouldn’t wake anyone. It was almost completely dark in the dorm, save for the moonlight that was leaking through the window and spilling onto the floor. All of the beds had their curtains drawn and the rhythmic, soothing sound of deep breathing floated through the air.
Walking through my dorm room is like going through a giant, unfriendly obstacle course. There are trunks, clothing, books, and other random items (hey, there’s my Herbology textbook...! I’ve been looking for it all week!) strewn across the floor. You practically needed a machete and a compass to get out alive.
I was really, really looking forward to flopping down on my bed and just slipping into the heavenly, joyous paradise that is sleep... In fact, I was more than just looking forward to it. I was excited. To put it simply, my feelings about my mattress are almost identical to PMS-ing women's feelings about chocolate. Which is kind of pathetic, if you think about it. I mean, the best part of my day is when I go to sleep. How sad is that?
Much to my surprise, however, when I got to my bed, there was a person lying in it. At first, I thought that Marlene (Evilyn’s Own Personal Lackey) had forgotten which bed was hers (again) and chosen mine instead (she’s not the brightest crayon in the box, that girl). But upon closer inspection, I discovered that the mystery person was not Marlene, as I had presumed, but rather Dominique, my best friend and missing-in-action for the past 12 hours.
She was lying on top of my duvet, her body completely rigid and still, save for her chest, which was rising and falling slowly. She almost looked asleep except for the fact that her eyes were open, green and glassy as they stared above.
I looked at her, unsure of what to do. Should I attempt conversation? Or just leave her alone? I mean, on one hand, attempting conversation with Dom entails talking to Dom, and we all know that, in reality, talking to Dom actually translates into listening to Dom. And that means subjecting yourself to an excruciating torture of nodding and ‘mhmm’ing sympathetically until your brain turns into goo and your ears fall off.
In short, I didn’t want to listen to her whine.
But on the other foot, Dom had been missing for 12 hours, a long period of time during which god-knows-what could have happened (possibilities: Aidan and Dom rekindling their love, pigs learning how to fly, hell freezing over, etc etc.) and, let’s face it, I was curious. After all, it would be kind of nice to know whether or not my brother was still alive...
Finally, after a long moment of internal debating, I decided to speak.
“Well. Long time no see.”
Slowly, she turned her head to face me, but did not reply. I had to admit, I was a little creeped out. I mean, she looked...terrible. There were purple bags under her eyes, her skin looked papery thin, flimsy and translucent... And there was this certain dazed quality about her, as if she had no idea where she was or how she got there. It was... unsettling.
“Hi,” she croaked.
A million questions were buzzing through my head (where’ve you been? What happened between you and Aidan? Do I need to call the police? What about the fire department?), but I didn’t voice them. It seemed like a good idea to save the interrogation for later, when Dominique was thinking straight. Or thinking at all, for that matter.
“So...” I said, rocking back and forth on my heels, my hands shoved into my robes’ pockets. “What’s up?”
Dominique blinked at me, face confused as if she didn’t quite understand what was going on. Then, she abruptly swung her legs over the bed and stood up, wobbling a bit on her feet.
I took a cautionary step backwards, bracing myself for Dom to either a) viciously attack me, or b) start crying. Frankly, I couldn’t decide which was worst.
But instead of doing either of those things, Dom said: “I want pumpkin pie. Do you want pumpkin pie?” Her voice was dazed, high with hysteria. “I want pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie sounds nice.”
I gaped at her.
“Er. Maybe you should sit down, Dom...Are you feeling well?” I reached out to feel her temperature, but she swatted my hand away.
“Pumpkin pie... I’m going to get some pumpkin pie,” she muttered, more to herself then to anyone else. “Yes, yes. Pumpkin pie. Gotta find me some pumpkin pie...”.
And then, giving me a bewildered sort of smile, she shoved past me and walked out of the room.
I stared after her, my eyes wide in astonishment. Uh-oh. This was not good. Not good at all.
You see, during times of crisis, Dom will ask for different kinds of pies depending on what mood she’s in and the degree of importance that the situation maintains. For example, if Dom breaks a nail or is having a bad hair day, she’ll usually ask for key lime pie. And if something more serious happens, say Dom having another fight with Aidan, apple pie is pretty much the way to go. It ranges, actually, and it’s a little hard to tell sometimes, but over the years, I have comprised a list for quick reference.
THE CORRELATION BETWEEN PIE FLAVOURS AND THE DANGER LEVEL OF DOMINIQUE WEASLEY’S “FREAK-OUTS”, AS OBSERVED AND RECORDED BY AGATHA BENNETT:
1. Key Lime Pie: Almost non-existent danger level. Usually requested after a broken nail or a bad hair day. Nothing to worry about, just give Dom the pie and we can all be on our merry way.
2. Pecan Pie: Low danger level. Called for whenever Dom is having a Moment of Self-Doubt (e.g. I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, etc etc...) or has somehow messed up during a Quidditch game. Best served with a side of vanilla ice cream.
3. Apple Pie (also known as Aidan’s Pie): Medium danger level. Needed after any argument/fight with or concerning Aidan Bennett. Also helps to have tissues and a few films starring Leonardo DiCaprio nearby.
5. Blueberry Pie: High danger level. Usually required after an argument with her parents or a failed test or assignment. Keep Dom away from any objects that can be used as a weapon (including, but not limited to: tooth brushes, snow globes, chess sets, and items that can be filed to a sharp point). Also keep her away from anything that is breakable, such as glass, wood, and YOUR LEFT ARM (let the record show that we are speaking from experience here).
6. Pumpkin Pie: Extremely high danger level. Evacuate the premises immediately and pray for your life. Hope for a miracle, or at least the British navy.
This was bad.
Really, really bad.
I wanted to go and follow Dom to make sure she was all right, but I knew that it would be wiser to leave her alone for a bit. After all, the girl was a walking nervous breakdown waiting to happen and I didn’t want to be there when she snapped.
I sighed to myself and fell backwards on to my bed. I knew Dom’s routine. She would go down to the kitchens and demand pie then, after eating as much as her stomach could hold, she would come back here to fall into her usual comatose-like sleep. To be honest, it would be useless to confront her now when her brain wasn’t functioning right, and the only thing on her mind was pie.
I let my eyes slip closed, exhaling sharply. Since when did everything get so messed up? Dom wanted pumpkin pie, Potter was going insane, Aidan was, in all likelihood, lying in a shallow grave somewhere, and Fred... Well, Fred was probably sleeping right now and therefore having no idea what the hell was going on, actually, but that’s not the point.
The point is...since when did my life become so filled with drama? The only goals I had for my fifth year at Hogwarts was to be good Prefect, do well on my OWLs, and maybe push Potter into the Black Lake if I could find the time. But now I was breaking up fights and managing my brother’s love life. Honestly. Couldn’t a girl catch a break around here?
I rolled over so that I was lying on my stomach, smothering my face into my smooshy, cool pillow. A few minutes passed where I just lay there, thinking in the silence, and as time passed, my thoughts grew shorter and more fragmented until they were barely making any sense at all. I felt myself slowly start to drift away, felt my body grow heavier as it seemed to practically melt into my mattress, until finally—finally—on top of my bed covers, still dressed in my school uniform, I fell asleep.
When I woke up the next morning, the dormitory was deserted.
There was a blissful moment where, as I lay in bed, staring blankly at my headboard, I was completely and totally oblivious. For one second, I didn’t remember anything about the previous night. My mind was beautifully blank.
But then it came flooding back to me. Rose and Scorpius. Aidan. Dom. Potter. The pumpkin pie. It all hit me like the freaking Hogwarts Express. Everything, in one mad rush, a wave that crashed over my body and washed me with realization.
I groaned, rolling over and onto my side.
I should probably get out of bed and attempt some damage control. You know, try to fix things up a little. Buy a straight jacket for Potter, start planning Aidan’s funeral, get Dominique a defense lawyer... They needed me, and I was obligated to help them (or at least Dom and Aidan).
Then again... I was tired. And I can’t function properly when I’m tired. After all, isn’t it essential for teenagers to get a healthy night’s rest? And I don’t think I feel very rested. Which is bad. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be unhealthy, now would I? Yeah. I should probably sleep for another hour. Or five.
Sighing to myself, I stretched, yawned, and then rolled over again, preparing myself for another round of snoozing. But as I turned around, my gaze fell to the clock on my nightstand.
It read 11:00 AM.
I stopped breathing.
Oh no, no, no, no.
I was late for class. Not just late-late, but astronomically-late. They were going to give me a detention. And then take away my Prefect’s badge. Oh God. I was going to be expelled, wasn’t I? I was never going to get my Hogwarts education. No one would want to hire me, my family would shun me for being such failure... I was going to have to live in a cardboard box for the rest of my life. Or join a gang! Oh God. I can’t join a gang! I’m inept!
“Shit! Shit shit shitty shit shit!” I fell—quite literally—out of bed, picked myself up off the floor, and, with a kind of speed and agility that was quite out of the norm for me, grabbed my back pack and ran frantically out of the room.
I was halfway down the stairs when I realized that I needed my Prefect’s badge, so I wheeled around and sprinted back into the dorm. The badge wasn’t in its usual spot on my nightstand, though, so—my panic rising—I ran around the room for a good ten minutes, trying to find it. I looked under dressers and beds, rummaged through drawers, until finally I realized that a) I was wearing it, and b) today was a Saturday.
...I hate my life. I truly, truly do.
Slowly, I sat back down on my bed, half-relieved and half-annoyed that I had acted like such an idiot. I sort of considered going back to sleep, but then I thought of Dom and Aidan. The need to help them was itching, egging me on in the back of my brain, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully relax until both of them were okay. After all, Dom had asked for pumpkin pie. She hadn’t done that since...well, since Victoire was made Head Girl over two years ago.
I sighed, swinging my legs over the side of the bed and standing up.
I knew what I had to do.
“Potter. I need your help.”
“Really, really important.”
“Bennett, can’t you see that I’m busy here?”
I narrowed my eyes as I felt my anger pulse inside of me; steadily climbing higher and higher like a thermometer in mid-July. I hated this. I really did. Here I was, my pride and dignity in shambles around my feet, and Potter was rejecting me? I mean, it’s not like I enjoy asking people for help. Least of all from a Gryffindor. Least of all from Potter.
We were in the Great Hall, sitting across from each other at our usual table. Potter had The Daily Prophet opened up in front of him, blocking me from view. A bowl of half finished cereal sat by his elbow. His fingers were ink-stained, probably from writing (or starting, more likely) our DADA essay that was due on Monday.
I stared at the newspaper in front of me, at the black and bold letters that jumbled together to form sentences and paragraphs, and sighed. This, I had a feeling, was not going to be easy.
“Potter. I seriously need your help.”
He didn’t reply.
There was a pause, and then Potter lowered the paper so that I could see his annoyingly attractive face. He looked tired, which wasn’t that big of surprise. Violently charging at your cousin’s boyfriend can really take it out of a guy, I’ve heard.
He opened his mouth to speak, and—foolishly—I felt my spirits lift as naive hope filled my body. Maybe he actually would help me. Maybe for once, Potter could be mature about this. Maybe—
“BENNETT, FOR THE LAST TIME, I WILL NOT HAVE SEX WITH YOU!” Potter suddenly shouted, making sure his voice was cheery and loud so that everyone in the Great Hall could hear him. “NOW STOP BEGGING, IT’S MAKING ME UNCOMFORTABLE.”
My mouth dropped open as several people nearby snickered at us, their eyebrows raised. I felt heat rush to my face in embarrassment and something in my forehead twitched. I was pretty sure it was a rupturing artery.
Obviously satisfied with my public humiliation, Potter went back to reading the paper, opening it in front of him to signify the conversation was over.
“Potter—I can’t—You—Unh.” I ran a hand through my hair exasperatedly. Merlin, this was annoying. “Look,” I snapped, voice slightly above a harsh whisper. “It’s about Aidan and Dom.”
The paper rustled.
“I think there’s something wrong.”
“With you? I concur," Potter said, voice nonchalant as he turned the page.
“Have you seen Aidan?” I demanded, choosing to disregard Potter’s stupid remark. “Do you know where he is?”
“Well, do you?”
“Huh. It says here that they appointed a new Head of The Department of Mysteries,” Potter said, completely ignoring my question as he turned the page. “That’s interesting. Did you know that?”
I exhaled sharply through my teeth as I felt my anger reach its boiling point. Head pounding, I slapped my hand on the table, making all the plates and silverware jump and rattle. “Potter! This is important”
He sighed from behind the paper. “Bennett.” His voice was monotone, as if he had said this all before and now he was bored with it. “Stop meddling in Aidan’s business. You’re not doing him any good.”
I rolled my eyes (even though he couldn’t see it, what with the paper in between us and all). “I’m not meddling!” Everyone knows that it doesn’t count as meddling if you’re related to the person. Duh.
I reached out and grabbed the paper, yanking it away from him. Potter shot me a look that showed he was only vaguely exasperated, as though my antics were like those of a mildly annoying child.
“I’m going to ask you one more time, Potter. Have. You. Seen. Aidan?”
He sighed once more, obviously irritated. “No. When I got back to the dormitory, everyone was asleep. And when I woke up, Aidan wasn’t there. Now, can I have my paper back?”
But I wasn’t satisfied. Ignoring Potter’s outstretched hand, I shook my head. “This is serious.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Dom asked for Pumpkin pie.”
There was a beat. Potter’s expression flickered. “Pumpkin pie?”
“Yes. Pumpkin pie.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Dom hasn’t asked for pumpkin pie since—“
“Victoire was made Head Girl. I know.”
There was a long silence.
“Alright, alright. I’ll help,” he finally said. “How do you want to do this?”
I couldn’t stop myself from grinning widely as the feeling of sweet, sweet triumph flooded into my body. “The usual. I get Aidan, you cover Dom?”
“Fine,” he snapped, obviously irritated with himself for giving in.
“And afterwards we should meet to exchange notes. Say...around one o’clock?”
“Oh for Merlin’s sake, Bennett, it’s not a fucking science experiment.”
I swung my legs over the bench and stood up, leaving the Daily Prophet on the table. “You know what I mean.”
“Nope,” he said, reaching over and picking up the paper. “I never do.”
I exited the Great Hall, still smiling.
After I left Potter, it took only 10 minutes until I found Aidan. It wasn’t hard. There are pretty much only two places he goes when he’s distressed—the kitchens, or the Quidditch pitch.
I decided to go to the Quidditch pitch first. To my surprise, he was there. I had lucked out... The Big Man in the Sky must have been on my side, today. Or at least not watching, or something.
It was slightly chilly outside. The sky was a swirl of blue and grey, not exactly clear, yet not cloudy either. It was really windy, and the rich emerald grass of the massive pitch flickered and swayed beneath my feet. I clutched my robe closer to my body, hugging myself tight. My hair rippled and fluttered in the breeze, and I struggled to push it out of my face.
I could see Aidan’s tall, slightly scrawny figure from where I was standing in the center of the pitch. He was sitting in the stands, on the very top row. He didn’t appear to have noticed me, and he looked, for once, deep in thought, something I thought was a sure sign that the apocalypse was near.
I climbed the stand to meet him, the sound of my shoes slapping against the steps hollow to my ears. Aidan, apparently hearing me, looked up from his seated position, his honey brown hair tousled by the wind. He was leaning his elbows on his legs, and his palms were pressed together like in prayer. His chin was resting on top of his clasped hands, and a glum expression tugged on his handsome face.
I reached the top row and stood next to Aidan, the hem of my black robe quivering in the breeze. He smiled up at me, and it was at that moment when I noticed how tired he looked.
“Hey.” His voice was raw, sad.
I sat down next to my brother, unsure of how to begin. A long moment ensued, where the only thing I could hear was the wind rushing and roaring around me. And then, slowly, almost reluctantly, Aidan leant down and gingerly placed his head on my shoulder.
“You know,” Aidan began, voice so quiet I could barely hear him. “You kind of look like your head’s on fire. What with your hair in the wind and all.”
“Yup. Hot-headed,” I said. “That’s me.”
He cracked an unsteady smile. “You’re punny.”
There was a beat. And then I said, voice matter-of-fact, “What’s wrong, Aidan?”
“Nothing’s wrong. Nothing at all. Why would you think that?” Ah, flat out lying. One of Aidan’s specialties, except he was never good at it.
“My twin senses are tingling.”
He didn’t reply.
“Okay,” I said. “So. There’s nothing wrong. But say...hypothetically.... theoretically...if there were—”
“Dom broke up with me.” His voice was faint, shocked, as if he couldn’t believe it himself.
I glanced at him, surprised. First off, how could Dom have dumped Aidan when they weren’t even really going out in the first place? And secondly, Aidan was never this depressed about break ups. Not even the violent ones (and trust me, those got messy). It just wasn’t like him to get all down and sad about stuff. What made this one so special?
“After the rap, after I kissed her and ran away...” Aidan continued, hesitant. “She found me.” Of course she found him. That girl was like a freaking bloodhound. “And...She told me that...we were over. Like, forever over. No getting back together. No on-and-off. No Dom and Aidan. Over. Kaput. Done.” He paused. “Hypothetically, I mean.”
“Well, she’s said all that before, Aidan. She was probably just panicking, like she always does.” I tried to keep my voice soothing and patient, but to be honest, I was a little exasperated. I mean, this has all happened before. It was the same every time. Why was Aidan choosing to freak about it now?
“S’not like those times. She was crying.” He winced. “And...She gave me back the Snitch.” Aidan held out his left hand, which had been previously tightened into a fist, and unfurled it. Inside, was the plastic, golden Snitch Aidan had given Dominique for her thirteenth birthday. He had gotten it from one of those sweet machines for two Sickles, and Dominique had been furious when she had opened up the tiny black box—expecting jewelry or a watch—and found a cheap toy. But still. She had kept it, through all the break-ups, all the fights, and had never let it leave her sight. It was like...their love token or something.
I plucked the Snitch out of Aidan’s hand with two pf my fingers and held it closer to my face. It was looking pretty worse for wear—the garish, gold paint was chipping, one of the wings looked pretty close to falling off... But I could tell it held a lot of meaning in its tiny, plastic two-Sickle body.
“So. You think she’s serious?”
“Yep,” Aidan said grimly.
I gave him back the Snitch, and he pocketed it. I didn’t know what to say. The thought of Aidan and Dom not dating was like... A fish growing legs. Or Freddy reading the dictionary... Or Potter not pissing me off every chance he gets. It just...wasn’t natural. It didn’t happen. The universe was out of sync. Some meteor must have crashed into the earth and knocked it off its axis, or something. This wasn’t...right.
“It’s strange,” Aidan said tiredly. “Even though we always fought, always argued and broke up and stuff, I knew that... She was... like, not my soulmate, because that’s creepy, but... She was...She—Unh. I don’t know how to explain it. She was just it, you know? Like, I always came back to her. I always wanted to be with her. I always thought about her. She was my always.”
“I’m sorry, Aidan,” I said truthfully.
“Do you think she’s going to start dating someone else?”
“I... I don’t know.” Truth is, I couldn’t picture Dom with anyone but my brother.
A moment passed. The wind seemed to sigh as it tugged on my hair. One big exhale. Mother Nature, whispering.
“Aidan...” I began unsurely. I didn’t know if he would get mad at me for asking, but I had to know. “Were you...in love with her? Like, I know you always said you were, but...were you?”
He paused, thinking about it for a moment.
“Well... I’m selfish, aren’t I? I mean, I’m always putting myself before her. Hurting her. And I’m always... wanting. 'I want her back.' 'I want to break up.' I want, I want, I want. Selfish. And love...isn’t about being selfish. Right?”
“I...don’t know,” I said again.
“But then I think about her laugh. You know...Not the polite one she does around important people. But, like, her real laugh. When she does that weird...snorting thing, and she just sounds so...so...free, you know? And...That...That makes me feel like, yeah, maybe I do love her. Or at least I could learn to.” He paused, dragging his hands down his face. “I don’t know. I’m stupid. I’m fifteen.”
There was a small, shaky moment of silence where neither of us spoke. And then:
“I’m sad,” he said, as if he was stating a simple fact about the weather, or the color of his shoes.
“I know you’re sad. And I’m sorry.”
He didn’t reply.
So we sat there, the two of us, brother and sister. Together. Nobody else. Just the wind and the sadness and the Quidditch pitch sprawled out before us, a massive expanse of rolling green, forever and always.
I turned, reaching out and touching Aidan’s nose with my finger tip. The corners of his lips twitched half-heartedly, and then slowly, cautiously he stuck his tongue out and made a funny face, the skin on his forehead crinkling together.
It was something we used to do when one of us was sad. We hadn’t done it in a long time, not since Dad got remarried.
And I knew Aidan was an idiot. And I knew that he was reckless and foolish and that wherever he went, trouble seemed to follow. But he was my brother. Born two minutes before me. I mean, we shared an effing uterus, for Merlin's sake. You can’t get much closer than that.
I took my finger off Aidan’s nose, and he shook his head. “I wish I could erase everything,” he murmured.
I sighed, bending my arm and tapping my own nose with the same finger.
If only life were that simple.
At one, I met up with Potter in the Great Hall to discuss...well, everything. You see, while I had been consoling Aidan, Potter had been having a nice little chat with Dom (whom he had—oddly enough—found wandering aimlessly around the Hufflepuff common room). Being his usual, annoyingly secretive self, he didn’t give much away about the conversation, but he did say that Dom was serious. And upset. Seriously upset.
Which isn’t good.
This whole scenario in general is just one big pile of butt-pudding, in my opinion. I mean, honestly. Let's review the situation at hand, shall we? My brother is depressed, my best friend is in need of a nice, sturdy straightjacket, Potter won’t co-operate (as always), Freddy is still probably sleeping.... and not to mention the sinking feeling I have in the pit of my stomach telling me that the next few days are not going to be easy.
Oh, and I have a DADA essay due on Monday.
I really hope the kitchens have some more pumpkin pie. We’re going to need it.
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