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Chapter 2 : You Left The Frays From The Ties You Severed
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“I want a breeze.”
“All you’ve said for the past fifteen minutes is ‘I know’.”
I scowled, hiding behind my hair so he wouldn’t get the satisfaction of knowing he’d met his goal, which was undoubtedly to annoy me as much as is humanly possible.
It was probably an odd sight to anyone not in the know. Two teenagers sat in a, now dusty, school uniform on a bench outside a countryside train station in the late afternoon. At least we’d taken off our robes. We’d had to. Because, I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but it was bloody hot.
And I was getting no sympathy. Just the usual, a laugh in my face.
“I’m sorry! But all you’ve said for the past half hour is ‘it’s hot and I don’t like it’ in as many ways you can. So I thought I’d give you a taste of painful boredom.”
“Oh, I’m boring. Thanks.” I hissed, irritably.
I didn’t take it to heart. Ray would have probably quite happily made conversation but I was hot and uncomfortable and dirty which made me grouchy. I definitely wasn’t a treat to talk to at the moment.
“Is the train late?” I asked, still having heard no rumbling of the huge stream train arriving at Hogsmeade station.
“I dunno. We’re pretty early. Maybe.” Ray shrugged, not appearing to care. I didn’t know why he wasn’t as snappy or irritable as me. He didn’t even seem uncomfortable in the scorching sunshine in his dark trousers and white shirt. He even had his tie on still. Whereas I’d kicked off my shoes, discarded my tie and pulled all my hair back off my shiny face to attempt to lose some body heat. I shouldn’t have been surprised. If cross-country running didn’t take it’s toll on Ray, a mere bit of overheating probably wouldn’t do the trick.
“Well, what time does it normally get here?”
He was so helpful, that friend of mine.
“Well done. You’ve only done this on an annual basis for the last five years.” I snapped. To further my annoyance, he just grinned lop-sidedly and tipped his head back and seemed to enjoy the sun on his face. Eurgh.
“If it makes you feel any better we can get on the first carriage as soon as it gets here. Front of the queue - bonus of being a local.”
“Well that’s fantastic. Or, it would be if you had the faintest idea whether that will be in a minute, an hour or five days from now.”
Ray laughed again. The annoying carefree laugh that again dashed my hopes of putting a damper on his abnormally high spirits. One day I would find out what got him down. I would.
“You’re funny when you’re angry.” He added, just to fuel my anger.
I gritted my teeth and cursed him under my breath.
He laughed some more, “Oh don’t be like that. Five minutes spent with your excessively organised and intelligent house mates and you’ll be dying for my ‘loathsome’ company again…”
Excessively organised. That brought with it a vivid image of Lily tidying my room for me while I lay complaining on my bed. A frequent occurrence. One I’d missed. Not only had my room been an absolute pig-sty over the summer but I’d truly missed my best friend. After a summer of incessant irritation, the company of cool, kind, amazing Lily Evans sounded like heaven.
But, I considered, I would miss the incessant irritation. Maybe. A little bit. I couldn’t decide. Perhaps not spending every waking moment with him would mean I could tolerate his annoyingness more. Maybe I’d look forward to it. But it was strange, we’d only really been hanging out for a month or so, and we’d rarely spoken (or shouted, in my case) at school, but I couldn’t picture anything without him at the moment.
“So, come on then. Tell me this other reason you’re having a paddy.”
I hate him. I hate him. I hate him.
“I hate you.” I told him.
“I know.” He grinned, caught the glare I was giving him and straightened out his face.
How the hell did he do this? He knew everything. About people anyway. Not so much about trains or when they’re going to be here so we can get out of the painful heat. But seriously, what gave him this power to understand everything I was thinking, or trying hard not to think of?
“How do you know?” I demanded.
“I always know.” It wasn’t a modest comment, but not really bragging either. Merely stating the truth. Gah. “I could probably tell you why you’re stressed as well but I thought I’d leave that to you to tell me.”
“Are you going to make me say it?” He asked, condescendingly. “Because I’ll do it.”
“Fine, do it.” I snapped back, partly hoping he was wrong (impossible) but partly because there was a slight chance it might sound less pathetic coming from his mouth rather than mine.
“You’re worried about seeing him.”
Nope, definitely didn’t sound less pathetic.
I sighed. “Is that completely pitiful? You can tell me. I won’t be offended.”
“Not completely,” He smirked wickedly at my face, “No, it’s not. You’ve got your reasons, right?”
Reasons. Right. Did I? I certainly couldn’t pick one. Because there were a few to choose from. Could be because I was fairly certain he hated me. Could be because I wanted to hate him back but since Mr Peace-And-Love Quinn piped up I haven’t been able to. Could be because I wasn’t sure how James and Lily would be. Would they have to pick sides? I didn’t want that. Because there was no doubt whatsoever that James would side with Sirius and Lily with me. I didn’t want to do that to them.
“He said we couldn’t be friends.” I said to Ray. “I don’t… I don’t see how that’s going to work. For James and Lily.” And for me. I didn’t know if I could be his friend, but I’d have liked the option.
“Maybe he’ll change his mind.” Ray said, half-heartedly. He was a good judge of character. Even though he didn’t really know Sirius it was obvious to everyone that Sirius Black could hold a grudge.
If he didn’t want to be friends with me, there was no James. But James and Lily… after all this time doing our best to keep them sort of friends, we couldn’t just tear them apart like that.
I sighed again and rested my head back against the wooden back of the bench. “Things are going to be different this year.”
No Freddie. No Sirius. Maybe no Lily and James. If I had to make that choice for them. Could I do it without them? Any of them?
“Yep.” Ray didn’t deny it to make me feel better, for which I was thankful. “But things have to change to progress. We’re not going to be in school forever. Things are going to change big style then.”
“I can’t work out if I like change.”
“Sometimes you don’t have a choice.”
Our unusual, fairly deep conversation was brought to an abrupt end signalled by the screech of the approaching steam train, making me jump. Ray didn’t. Of course.
“Train.” I commented, brightly.
“Carriages.” He nodded to where the dismal carriages were being drawn towards us by the creepy, skeletal winged horses.
I shivered, despite the sweat sticking my shirt to my skin. I’d never liked the thestrals. Every year brought with it the bad memories.
I suddenly felt very small and alone, facing them this year without Freddie. He was the only person that knew how much they frightened me. He was the only other person I knew who could see them, or even knew they existed.
Ray couldn’t know about this. All he could work out was my sudden reluctance to get on the carriages that I’d been so keen for before. So he linked it to the only thing he could.
“It’ll be alright. He might not be as mad as you remember. A whole summer to think, that’s a long time.” He offered, for once jumping to the wrong conclusion and ushering me forward towards the front carriage.
I didn’t let my eyes linger on the dead looking eyes of the thestrals we passed. Just clambered hurriedly into the cool dimness of the carriage. At last I was out of the heat.
“It’s just a bit weird.” I said in a small voice, settling myself on one of the seats. “I just… I still don’t really know how I feel. I know I don’t hate him any more. I was just shocked. But I don’t know if I’m alright with everything just like that. And I don’t know if I…” I trailed off.
“Don’t know if you still have the same feelings for him.” Ray finished for me, matter-of-factly. “Sure. You’ve been too busy hating him to notice whether you’re over him. I get it.”
Of course Ray would be able to spot what had taken me an entire summer to figure out. And I still hadn’t. Figured it out, I mean. Maybe I’d need to see him to know.
And I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I could remember how I hadn’t been able to bear even being near him at the end of last term. Couldn’t even look at him without feeling sick to my stomach. But I realised now that the reason it had made me feel so sick was the combination of the betrayal with feeling so much for him at the time. He’d been everything. Even having done the unthinkable, he was still everything. But a bad everything instead of a good everything. It was overwhelming.
Now what? Would that feeling have passed? He wasn’t everything any more. Hadn’t been in my life for a whole summer. A new perspective.
But the fact was still there.
But not everything.
I even, thanks to Evil Genius Quinn, felt a little sorry for him. Strangely. Because, unless he was an extremely talented and dedicated actor, he did have feelings for me last year. He’d told me. He’d shown me. A lot. So surely he must regret. I could imagine the frustration of not being able to change what he’d done.
So stupid of him.
He’d hate it.
He’d hate himself.
But then there was another issue. If I felt something. For him.
If I did… and he didn’t.
He hated me. I was sure of it. He’d basically told me. Shouted it in my face. A selfish, childish bitch. He’d made it perfectly clear that he’d had enough. Didn’t want anything to do with me any more. All or nothing, and he’d chosen nothing.
Could I handle it if my old feelings came back while he stuck with these new, angry ones?
“Oh well.” I shrugged, exhausted with all this thinking I was doing. I wasn’t used to it. “Let’s look on the bright side. Maybe he’s dropped out to become a grease monkey or something. Always obsessed with those muggle car magazines.”
There was a slight possibility that I was clutching at straws.
“Unfortunately I don’t think you’re that lucky.” Ray stuck his head out of the carriage door. “I’m pretty sure I see him and the fat one getting off the train now.”
“He’s with Peter? Must be desperate.” I commented absently, remembering his impatience with his distinctly less cool friend. “Wonder where James is.”
It was only after my casual response that the tension hit me. He was out there. Ray could see him. Which meant that if I looked, I could see him.
I hadn’t seen him in six weeks. But that didn’t mean I’d forgotten. I could still see his face so vividly in my mind. It popped up at all the most inconvenient times, whenever it pleased. It didn’t help that the particular image that my mind conjured involved a view of his face just centimetres from mine, hair ruffled up and against a background of crimson bed hangings.
Great for settling my confusion. Not.
I resisted the instinctive urge to join Ray looking out at the approaching crowd of students. It was a tearing feeling, half of me desperate to drink in the familiar face, hair, body… but the other half gripping the seat below me. Scared to see him.
“Not heading towards our carriage, don’t worry.” Ray said, still peering out of the door, even though I hadn’t voiced my worry, “Hey, it looks like…” He laughed incredulously. “Looks like Potter’s got a new shiny badge.”
“What?” It didn’t register.
“He wasn’t prefect, was he?”
“Prefect? James? Are you kidding me? He’s the least likely person to be prefect ever… wait. James is prefect?”
“Better.” Ray withdrew from the door and took the seat next to mine.
“Better than…” My brain was working particularly slowly, still reeling a little by the thought that Sirius was in the vicinity. Then it clicked. “No. James Sodding Potter is not Head Boy.”
“If not he’s doing a pretty good impression of one.”
This made no sense. James Potter? Head Boy? James Potter, whose detention toll was rivalled only by Sirius’. James Potter, who melted his eleventh caldron at the end of last year. James Potter, who can’t understand the simplest English (such as the word ‘no’. Issued by Lily Evans).
I let out an extremely high-pitched, girly squeal. The sort that I’d ridicule and would declare I wasn’t capable of. Ray looked a little alarmed.
“Head Girl!” I exclaimed, excitedly. “Lily’s… she must be… there’s no way James… and not her…”
“Of course she is.” Ray shrugged, having calmed from the shock of my squeal, “Who else?”
“Head Girl!” I repeated, relishing in how it sounded. My best friend is Head Girl. It sounded good.
“No one deserves it more than her.” Ray knew her, obviously, from prefect shenanigans.
It was true. I couldn’t think of anyone that would make a better Head Girl. Lily was the definition of Head Girl. She was smart, caring, kind, cool, straight-talking, no-nonsense… She’d make an amazing Head Girl. And she could deny it all she wanted, but she’d wanted this. She loved bossing people around. She’d done it all anyway. Now she had a title.
But wait. Lily - Head Girl. James - Head Boy.
I let out a rather attractive snort. Ray looked alarmed again. A girly squeal followed by an unfeminine snort. Well, I never claimed to be your typical teenage girl.
“Lily’s Head Girl,” I explained. “James is Head Boy. This is excellent.”
A smile spread over Ray’s face in amusement. He may have been in a different house and year, but there wasn’t a student in school that didn’t know the Lily-James dynamic.
“Poor Lily.” He said, “And poor James.”
“Poor James?” I echoed, “Are you kidding? This is the opportunity of a lifetime for him! He can prove to her that he’s worth it. They’ll have to do Head-type things. They’re thrown together. This is so exciting!”
“Or it could totally backfire.” Ray pointed out. “Forced to spend time together… she could get more annoyed at him. He could ruin things.”
Alright, thank you voice of doom.
“I won’t let him.” I dismissed. “He’s got to do this right.”
“James Potter, do the right thing?”
He had a point.
“He does try.” I defended my friend. “Once he puts his mind to it he’s a good guy. He’s a good Quidditch captain. That’s leadership. Close enough. I think maybe this will knock some sense into him, this responsibility.”
“I hope you’re right.” Ray grinned. “Might be a Hogwarts first if the Head Girl murders the Head Boy.”
Sadly, that outcome wasn’t the least likely.
“I believe in him.” I said, half-confidently. I’d have words. It was about time they fell in love, got married and had babies already. There was no need to beat about the bush.
“Now,” Ray said, as the chatter of the approaching crowds got louder and closer, “I don’t want to alarm you, but there are some males out there.”
I didn’t catch on. “Um.”
“Males that you might get along with. And some… don’t get too excited now, might even not be freakishly disfigured -”
I understood as he was talking and scowled. He wasn’t going to let this go for weeks. Alright, so I’d made an error in judgement. It was a moment of madness, and it was barely a kiss for the love of Merlin!
“- But what did we learn about that yesterday, hmm?” He was smirking. Annoyingly.
“You’re so witty.”
“That’s right,” Ray carried on as if I’d co-operated. “We don’t leap on every average guy that lacks a hideous deformity, ok?”
Before I could summon up some sort of retort our relaxed companionship was intruded on in the most apt way possible. Namely, the arrival of the ever so slightly hideously deformed Harper.
We may have chuckled. A little. Or, I may have laughed so hard I was in danger of a little bit of wee coming out.
The stunningly toad-like Harper was followed by Mulciber, the proud owner of the greyest, most crooked teeth in the Western world, and two more similarly highly attractive Slytherins who I couldn’t name.
I could safely say there was no danger of any leaping on anyone.
Ray, however, appeared to disagree. Or so it was implied when he paused for breath between outbursts of laughter to hiss, “Steady now, don’t jump him.”
Needless to say, our Slytherin chums weren’t highly amused.
“Something funny, McKinnon?” Harper grunted. He was probably trying to be intimidating but, to be honest, he was no Avery. Still could have beaten me to a pulp, but he didn’t have the cool, manipulative intelligence of Avery. I didn’t feel the same threat.
“Nothing to do with you, dude.” Ray supplied for me when I couldn’t think of an answer.
For a second I was grateful because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had the quick thinking to come up with a reply that would stop Slytherins from attacking me (because it had never happened). Then I was a bit annoyed because, no Sirius and no Freddie, but still someone fighting my battles for me. Then grateful again. Because of the cool, cavalier way Ray had answered. Not causing a fuss. Much unlike my previous two saviours.
The attention switched to Ray. The looks on the Slytherins faces was actually pretty amusing. They were thrown by the input of this stranger. Someone they obviously recognised but couldn’t place. Something their miniscule brains couldn’t comprehend.
“Wasn’t talking to you.” Harper came up with an insightful retort after a full minute or so of staring, in which Ray became no less comfortable. It was as if he truly didn’t feel threatened.
“Yeah, what you going to do, Hufflepuff.” Mulciber sneered after noting the yellow striped tie.
“Prefect, mate.” Ray tapped his badge and shrugged, “But go ahead, do what you want.”
He maintained an inoffensive but steady eye contact with the Slytherins as they processed the indirect threat. Eventually they all came to the same conclusion and slouched back in their seats.
I watched the whole thing in amazement. No violence used. And we’d come away unscathed. Miracle.
Maybe Gryffindors could learn a thing or two from Hufflepuffs.
I caught Ray’s eye, trying to convey my gratitude, but he just gave a small shrug. Refusing to acknowledge me.
Then I was just annoyed at myself. For crying out loud, I was seventeen! I should not need to be rescued from these sort of situations any more! Hell, I shouldn’t get into these situations. What was it with me and Slytherins? And this time all I did was laugh. And they took offence from it. Because it was me? Or would they be like that with anyone? Why would they particularly hate me?
Because I was muggle born. Because my Quidditch team beat theirs. Because my brother was (former) Head Boy and didn’t hesitate to use it against them. Because my best friend was Gryffindor prefect (now Head Girl) and had put a stop to their evilness a few times. Because now here I was hanging around with the Hufflepuff prefect, also with the authority to punish them.
I was pretty good at giving them reasons to hate me.
When we arrived at the castle I didn’t hang around. I was off the carriage first, eager to get away from the Slytherins as always. Ray followed me at a more leisurely pace.
“What’s up with you?” He inquired.
“In case you didn’t notice, they’re not my biggest fans.” I told him, a little disbelieving that he couldn’t tell that.
“Yeah. But they wouldn’t do anything.”
“They often try.”
“If you wind them up.” Ray said, as if it was obvious. “Which we didn’t. They’re pretty tame. Wouldn’t start anything over nothing. Especially if they’d come off worse.”
“They have before.” I protested.
“I’m not doubting that. With people of equal volatility.” Ray grinned.
I thought of Sirius. Volatile… unpredictable… explosive. Well that was true.
I turned around at the grunt/shout. I probably should have ignored it. Anything Harper had to say wasn’t going to be worth it. But I did anyway.
“Nice to see you being more choosy about your company.” Harper said, across the distance between us. I could see what Ray meant now. They weren’t choosing to close the distance and pursue the fight. Just have the last word.
I looked at Ray, who shrugged. “What can I say, I’m apparently likable.” He smirked.
“The less time around blood traitors, the better.” Harper finished, before turning back to his friends.
I stood where I was, not moving.
“Well that was nice and petty.” Ray commented, then noticed my still state. “What’s up?”
“They mean Sirius.” I said.
“Yeah, I guessed. Not subtle, are they?”
“Do you think they’ll be more out to get him now? Because of me?” I asked, not particularly wanting to hear the answer.
Ray propped an arm around my shoulders and turned me away from them, towards the Entrance Hall. “I think they hated him enough without that.” He said, “It’s not your fault.”
“But I made it worse.”
Ray didn’t disagree. “You want to blame yourself, go ahead. But I wouldn’t.”
“I wouldn’t have to blame myself if I didn’t keep doing things wrong.” I complained.
“Oh, come on. Like you’re going to think to yourself, ‘shit, I can’t become friends and then the non-girlfriend of someone I like just because I might make someone who hates them hate them a tiny bit more’. What kind of a life is that?”
I smiled, “Sure, you’re right.” As ever. Eurgh.
“Any chance you’re just feeling guilty and confused and scared of seeing him?”
“Shut up now.”
It didn’t take long for Ray to be stolen away from me by his Hufflepuff friends. We were in the Entrance Hall for maybe a minute, waiting to go in for the Feast, before he was descended upon by a pack of loud, enthusiastic males who threw me some not too furtive looks.
That made me remember. House tables. Separating me from him.
Fortunately I wasn’t left awkwardly on my own for long. It was barely two seconds before I was leapt upon by a willowy redhead.
Unfortunately I mean that literally.
There I was, minding my own business and suddenly I was the provider of what can only be described as a piggy-back.
My legs buckled and for one mortifying moment I thought I’d collapse under Lily’s weight, which would quite frankly be an embarrassment. As she barely hit the nine stone marker. But it was only a stagger. Into a wall. Which I hoped no one noticed.
“Surprise!” Lily slipped nimbly from my back and threw her arms around me before I had time to catch my breath. “Debbie McKinnon I have missed you!”
“Ow! Er… Lily Evans I have most definitely missed you too. Though not so much your spontaneous piggy backs. I can’t feel my spine.”
“You’re not supposed to be able to feel your spine, moron.” She said, matter-of-factly, before squeezing me again tightly. “I’ve missed your daft comments that make me wonder why the hell you’re a Ravenclaw!”
Charmer, Lily Evans. Always.
“Hey, what’s that stabbing me in the chest…” I grinned, drawing back, “Oh. Could it possibly be your sexy, shiny new Head Girl badge?!”
There was another moment of excited girly squealing that I would only be embarrassed of in retrospect.
“Don’t say I didn’t tell you,” Lily said, after composing herself into more appropriate behaviour for a Head Girl, “I’m guessing it was mentioned in the last eight or so of your twenty-five unopened letters,” She pulled a mock scolding face.
“Well I didn’t remember that there might be important Head Girl related news, did I?” I said, but actually feeling quite thankful that I’d found out in person so I could share my over the top excitement with her. Seriously, why was I so excited by this? I was more excited about this than I would have been if it were me. Oh wait, that’s because corpses aren’t capable of excitement. And I would fairly certainly have died in shock.
“But hey, quickly,” Lily’s face suddenly grew more solemn and she glanced over her shoulder towards the crowd, “Speaking of unopened letters… and important news…”
It took a moment for the gravity of her voice to hit me. The delight at seeing my best friend again and the pleasure about her achievement clouded my senses and I was pretty sure the essence of happiness was still visible on my face when I followed her backward glance.
Then it froze.
I’d been worried about seeing him.
Worried, guilty, confused, scared… all in Ray’s words.
But actually seeing him… the reality of Sirius being there. Here. In the same room as me.
I totally hadn’t been prepared.
I’d thought… I don’t know. Maybe I’d thought I could see him first from across a room. Have a little time to process it, figure out how I felt and design an appropriate reaction for when we did actually have to interact.
Most importantly, I thought there’d be time.
I didn’t think I’d find myself almost face to face with him. Eyes locked in contact.
I didn’t consider that for a second.
The smile was still on my face. Ridiculous because of the emergence of the other feelings. The worry, confusion, guilt and fear. Ridiculous because of the complete opposite expression on his face.
Not misery. Misery, maybe I could have coped with. I’d have felt guilty, sure, but it would have meant he at least felt something. For me.
But this face… this was a familiar face. This was the exact same face that had been contorted in the exact same way when I’d seen it last, yelling in my face. Telling me exactly what it thought of me.
This was a face of anger, of contempt, of dislike.
Before I could react, or even before the smile could drop from my face, the doors of the Great Hall were opened and there was a surge of movement as students rushed towards the opening.
And with that, the eye contact was lost. Broken. I was dragged backward in the crush of the crowd, and as I blinked he looked away.
I made my way to the Ravenclaw table in a haze of shock. Totally hadn’t been prepared. But as I passed the Hufflepuff table a gentle but firm hand grabbed mine.
“Hey.” Ray tugged on it a little, in a light-hearted but comforting manner. “Don’t be stupid about this, ok? That’s the worst part over.”
I hadn’t even realised he’d seen. Maybe he hadn’t. Maybe he’d just seen my expression now and connected the dots.
“Right.” I said, my voice sounding pretty confident and sure. More so than I actually was.
“It’ll be alright.” Ray assured me, letting go of my hand, “And hey, if it’s not we can always go for a run and you can let me kick your butt again. Some people might have something against beating a girl, but I’m alright with it.”
I took my seat at the end of the Ravenclaw table. Somehow, after being the first on the carriages, I’d found myself one of the last to sit down. I ended up at the end of the table with a bunch of third years. I saw Oz, Londy, Blakely and Simpson further down the table. Londy caught my eye and waved enthusiastically. I wondered about her holidays. Her summer. Whether it had contained Oz. Judging by the open hand-holding above the table, I’d say it had.
But I couldn’t concentrate for long. The confusion was getting to me. All of it. I barely heard a thing. The third years attempt to make polite conversation with me went straight over my head, along with the whole of the sorting and Dumbledore’s speeches. I couldn’t focus.
Just kept seeing the face.
So. He still hated me.
Not a good feeling, having someone hate you.
Or that someone in particular, anyway.
He hated me. Ok. So he hated me. I knew that anyway. It shouldn’t be any worse to actually see it…
His hair was longer. Lighter than usual. And longer. Like he’d been outside. And hadn’t bothered to cut it. Or maybe it was a fashion statement, a lot of guys had their hair longer nowadays…
Why the sodding hell would I notice his hair rather than his obvious hatred for me?!
Ok, so it had shocked me to see the open loathing. After all, it was the complete opposite to how he was supposed to have felt about me. So he was keeping to his word. He’d ignored me, basically, after that initial bit of eye contact. He was keeping to the ‘we can’t be friends’ thing. Ok. I could do that. Not like I’d want to be face to face with someone who disliked me that much anyway…
It wouldn’t have been a fashion statement. He wasn’t that sort of a guy. He’d always been very dismissive but secretly proud of the way he could attract so much attention with so little effort. He didn’t need the hair, anyway. He could have a curly pink afro and he’d still be desired by every girl in the school. Oh God. Maybe he’d turned into someone who makes fashion statements…
What?! What the hell did it matter if it was a fashion statement?!
He wasn’t going to speak to me. That was the issue at hand. All I needed to consider was what this meant about the group. About Lily and James. What was supposed to happen now? This was what I needed to be thinking about, not Sirius Black’s new hairdo and whether or not he’d turned into a tart. A tart who hated me.
Realisation struck me, just as the food was appearing on the plates in front of us.
I didn’t want him to hate me. Whether he’d gone to the trouble to style his hair or not, I didn’t want Sirius Black to hate me. Because that meant he was out of my life. I didn’t want him out of my life.
What was that supposed to mean? I didn’t want him out of my life. I cared whether or not he’d turned into a tart who makes fashion statements. I’d… I’d forgiven him?
It wasn’t like I didn’t care. It just… it totally didn’t matter as much as it had before. The Marlene thing. It was just something shitty that had happened. A long time ago. That we could do nothing about. Most importantly, it was something that happened before I even remotely felt anything like that for Sirius. How could I really hold a grudge about that? I had no right, really. It was stupid. And disgusting. And had made me seriously judge his character. But, like Ray said. Volatile. Unpredictable. Ruled by his emotions, I guess.
Really not the sort to think things through.
I’d forgiven him.
But. The Marlene thing, that had been the trigger. The initial reason behind our whole break up thing really. But. Then there was the really hurtful bit. The part where he yelled at me. Called me selfish. Called me childish. Called me a bitch.
That part. Had I forgiven that part? Was it something that needed to be forgiven? It was his opinion. Not nice to hear, not nice in the way he spat it in my face. But it wasn’t without any truth. I had been selfish. I had been childish. I hadn’t meant to, but I had.
But. The real issue. He didn’t care about forgiveness. He hated me.
I had a feeling I really wasn’t getting anywhere with this. I’d fairly certainly established that he hated me and I didn’t want him to. But no further. I had no clue what I was supposed to do about it and why I wanted to do something about it.
Oh God. I wasn’t getting into this again. This sort of bollocks belonged way back in January. I wasn’t going to waste my time with this ‘he doesn’t care’ or ‘he’s moved on’ bullshit. No way. This time was different.
I could ‘not care’ too. I didn’t. Care. At all.
I was the essence of indifference. Like some sort of hippy monk with that inner enlightenment bollocks. I had acceptance. I could see that he hated me, and wouldn’t try to change that. I could accept it as it was.
I really wish he didn’t hate me.
After my initial dismissal of hippy-monk-enlightenment theory, I grew a little fond of it. It took the whole feast for me to come to terms with my new life as a non-neurotic person, but it was worth it. No stress. I could do it.
“You look weird.” Londy commented, peering suspiciously at my face. She and the rest of the team had gathered around my end of the table once we’d finished dessert. “Doesn’t she look weird?” She nudged Oz for his back up.
“Er.” Oz took to peering at me too. “I dunno.” His social skills hadn’t improved much after a summer with Londy. He was probably beyond help after so long as a Quidditch geek. My state of mind was came way below my ability to throw a ball through a hoop in his priorities.
“I’m just smiling,” I pointed out, “Why is that weird?”
Londy didn’t lose the critical stare. “That’s not a normal smile. Your eyes are too big -” I instantly narrowed them. “- And your eyebrows are too high -” I lowered them. “And you just… Debbie McKinnon does not smile like a clueless bint! Lose it!”
“I resent that.” I told her, not dropping the smile. “I’m just smiling because I’m fine.”
Londy threw up her shoulders in resignation. “Sure. You’re fine. Whatever.”
“I am.” I insisted.
“Right. And how was your summer, Little Miss Sunshine?”
I flinched at the name. Little Miss Sunshine. Mine and Ro’s name for Marlene. Oh hell no. I would not be Little Miss Fake Sunshine.
I dropped the smile.
“There she is.” Londy grinned evilly.
“This doesn’t make me any less fine.” I told her.
“Whatever. I’m just glad I have my mate back, to be honest. Thought I might be stuck with Dismal Deb or this new freakishly cheerful model.”
“Again, I resent that.” Dismal Deb? Had I really been that bad at the end of last year?
“So you’re alright now?” Londy pressed.
I glanced at Oz, standing close to her, in some sort of discussion with Blakely and Simpson. They weren’t properly listening. Girl talk made them uncomfortable, probably because Londy and I didn’t engage in it much. When we did show our feminine side it scared them.
“Better.” I answered honestly, “And I’ve just decided I’m going to be fine. Even if I have to be Little Miss Sunshine in front of him for that. Only if you call me that again I will break your legs.”
Londy beamed, understanding at once. Girl ability to see the need to get one over on guys was astounding. She may have not understood the extend of mine and Sirius’ relationship, or just how much it had hurt me. But she was a girl. She knew that there was a bit of a show to put on.
Oz’s attention was caught with the brief mention of injury. “Broken legs? Who’s broken their legs?”
“Londy will. If she continues to call me evil names.” I told him.
He visibly paled. It would have been sweet if it were because of his deep feelings for Londy, but we all knew it was more at the despairing thought of losing a beater.
Londy cheerfully accepted this with her usual bluntness. “I’ll assume your silence is because you’re contemplating how empty your life would be without me, rather than frantically wondering if Gryffindor has another potential beater.”
Oz’s frown disappeared and was replaced with a very un-Oz-like smirk. “I hear Thomas and Sternberg were hoping there’d be a full team tryout this year, I was seriously considering it…”
Londy elbowed him swiftly in the gut. I winced, expecting that the full power of Oz’s voice was about to be unleashed as he put Londy in her place as would be expected in normal circumstances, but instead he slipped an arm round her waist and playfully squeezed her…
Eew. My disgusted expression made him swiftly remove his hand from her rear and he looked suitably abashed, whilst Londy just chuckled.
“You will tell me everything, Londy Nara.” I told her. “Tonight.”
Oz frowned again. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable being discussed like this.”
Londy ignored him. “Awesome. I’ll tell you about my summer if you tell me about yours.”
“I have a feeling yours might be slightly more action-packed.” I was a little disgusted with myself for lowering the tone with a smutty remark but Londy just chuckled again.
“Oh, I don’t know.” She looked pointedly over at the Hufflepuff table. Ray had his back to me and seemed to be animatedly involved in some sort of loud debate with his friends.
I looked back at Londy. Hmm. I hadn’t realised she’d seen me with him. Or that she’d think anything of it. Or that anyone would think anything of it.
“Tonight.” I couldn’t be bothered to explain it all right now. “I’m just going to see Lily before she has to, you know, do Head Girl things…”
Although I’d come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t let Sirius’ loathing stop me talking to my best friend, I was more than a little bit dreading it.
“Eurgh.” Londy looked over my shoulder to the Gryffindor table, where there was really no doubt who Lily would be sitting with. “Good luck. Keep up the sunshine thing though. Potter needs it. Looks like he’s about to throw himself from the tower.”
“James does?” I was just giving myself a moment. Just a moment, that was all. That was all I needed before I could go over. Just to… steady myself.
And stop hyperventilating.
“Getting no attention from his little mate, isn’t he?” Londy was openly staring at them now. She narrowed her eyes.
“Londy.” I hissed. “What are you staring at? Stop it.” She looked like an insane person.
“He’s glaring at me!” She hissed back, in outrage. She wasn’t removing her homicidal stare.
“Because you’re looking at him like a crazy woman! What are you…. Stop it! Oh God. Now he’s going to think you’re looking at him because of me -”
“Well I am. He’s a wanker.”
“Londy! Please! Oz…” I appealed to her other half (an extremely weird way to think of the two of them). “Make her stop!”
Oz had never been able to make Londy do anything, try as he might. But at least Londy’s snort at that possibility distracted her from her psychotic staring.
“Tosser,” That was Londy’s conclusive comment as she turned away to head up to the common room. “Tonight, Debbie!” She departed cheerfully.
And so I was on my own.
A lot of people were leaving for their dorms now, but Dumbledore hadn’t yet announced that it was time to leave. I had a few minutes before Lily and James were whisked away on important person business.
Head Girl. Head Boy. I still couldn’t get my head around it. This was even crazier than when Freddie and Marlene had gotten the roles. Because, despite one of them being pure evil, it was obvious they’d both make perfect Heads. James, I wasn’t so sure of…
My feet were walking me automatically over to the Gryffindor table, having apparently gotten tired of my brain’s procrastinating. I couldn’t very well stop now. But I still wasn’t looking up. It was hard enough to see that face full of hate anyway, without the added embarrassment of my friend having had a spontaneous staring contest with it.
But I had to eventually. Look up, I mean. Or else I’d have walked into the table. And I didn’t fancy looking like a total plank, thanks very much.
I took a breath and smoothed over my face. I didn’t know how good I was at this. Some people could manage it pretty effectively. Freddie always had been able to, never showing when he was sad because he didn’t want to upset me. But even he, in some cases, had trouble with it. And then there was the opposite end of the spectrum. The people that an emotionless mask just didn’t suit. Sirius. He’d try it and end up looking just like a statue, obvious he was hiding something. That had always worried me.
I had to be better at it than him, right?
I thought I better not try the freakish smile, after Londy’s reaction to it. I settled for a pretty blank, indifferent look.
And looked up.
This is going to sound completely pathetic and… well, pathetic pretty much sums it up. But I did have to catch my breath.
Because of the hate. On his face. Nothing more.
His chin was rested on his fist, his elbow on the table. He was slouching a little, so his hair was…
For the last sodding time, stop thinking about his fucking hair!
For a second time, our eyes collided. Again, our expressions couldn’t have been more different. I wasn’t smiling like a loon this time, but I had the mask on. Indifference. And then, him. The fierce, intensity. And not in a good way.
It only lasted a second. But that was almost enough for my mask to crumple. If he’d held my gaze with those eyes for just half a second longer I’d have caved. But he didn’t.
He blinked. And when his eyes were open again, there it was. The statue-like look I’d always hated.
It struck me as ridiculous for a moment. The way we were both wearing these stupid masks of indifference when he clearly loathed me and I… well, I hadn’t worked that out yet. I was scared of him, kind of. I knew that much.
I switched my eye line to Lily. The reason I’d come over.
She was worried. James was too. The two of them were flicking their anxious eyes between Sirius and me as if something were about to explode.
Of course it wasn’t. Couldn’t they see we were indifferent?
I decided to put them at ease, “Hey Lil. James. Sirius.” That was good. Good I didn’t even stutter at his name. Yeah, I know I managed to accomplish saying his name aloud a while ago but not to his face. This was a first. And, mission accomplished.
But it didn’t make me feel any better.
“Hey…” Lily replied, uncertainly, whilst James attempted an uncomfortable smile.
Hell. What had I thought would happen? Everything would be ok? Shit, it needed to be! I sure as hell wasn’t about to spend my year being irrationally terrified of being near him, and look, Lily and James were confused. That never happened… oh, alright it was a common occurrence for Jamesy. But Lily? Never.
He wasn’t looking at me. Oh God. Well, I wasn’t looking at him either. But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t looking at me. Fuck.
“Good summer?” I asked, brightly into the hideous tension.
Then regretted it.
“Um. Ok.” Lily was frantically signalling to me with her eyes that this was a bad subject. Great. Obviously Sirius had spent his whole summer hating me. Excellent.
James looked like he would quite happily sink through the floor. He looked apologetically at me but then in concern to Sirius.
I got it. He was sorry but he was going to have to side with his best mate.
There were going to be sides.
In that second I just wanted to get away. What was I doing? What was I trying to force? He hated me. Sirius hated me and in trying to pretend it was all ok I was forcing side-choosing. Side-choosing meant dragging Lily and James away from one another.
What was I doing?
I opened my mouth to quietly announce that I was heading upstairs, to accept defeat. Leaving the room wasn’t going to in any way make me feel any less like I was about to throw up any second, but at least I could scream into my pillow or something.
But someone beat me to my announcement.
“Great.” The bitter voice was full of harsh sarcasm. “Just perfect.”
I looked at him, involuntarily. The statue-face was still there. But as usual, it was miserably failing to cover up his emotions. In this case, the outright hate.
It made me flinch. I hoped he didn’t notice.
“Look, I didn’t mean -” I had no idea what I did or didn’t mean. My mouth was just blathering without consulting me.
“What are you doing, Dee?” He said my name. The same old nickname. But with none of the usual associated affection. He sounded like he genuinely didn’t understand what I was doing, and that he hated it.
“I just… my friends…” So much for being able to say his name without faltering. Now I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence.
“Did you not hear me right?” His eyes were blazing in the middle of his stony face. Like something too bright to look at, apart from I couldn’t look away. My own smooth mask was long forgotten. My face was probably contorted in anxiety. This really wasn’t going as I’d hoped.
Lily and James were still looking fretfully from one to the other like this was some sort of disaster waiting to happen. Now I wasn’t so sure they were wrong.
“I told you.” Sirius carried on. His voice was cold and void. “We can’t be friends.”
I wanted to be defiant. I did.
I wanted to disdainfully tell him I couldn’t give a flying rats arse about him or his friendship.
I wanted to tell him I didn’t need him.
But instead, something pitiful came out of my mouth. “Please…”
“Sirius -” Lily began, gently. She reached for his arm but he wrenched it out her reach.
“No.” He almost snarled. “We. Can’t. Be. Friends.”
The finality of his tone, the fury in his voice… both something I hadn’t heard from him before. Almost like a stranger.
I took a step back, stumbled on a discarded piece of food but kept going.
I needed to be away.
My breathing caught.
My eyes burnt.
Great. After a summer of not shedding a single tear I was about to lose face in front of almost the entire school.
I’d backed into the table behind me before I turned away. Turned away and right into someone.
“Hey.” Warm, strong hands gripped my arms and I sank a little realising they were holding me up. Ray. Ray was there. “Come on.”
I just had to keep taking deep breaths. That was all. That would stop the tears. I wouldn’t cry in front of the school. I wouldn’t cry in front of him. I wouldn’t cry for him.
Ray guided me swiftly and steadily out of the hall, gripping me at the elbows tightly. I had a feeling I needed it. My deep breaths were getting shallower and quicker by the second.
We reached the threshold of the Entrance Hall before I heard it. The sound of a shattering glass.
That did it. My usual reaction to That Sound.
My hands scrambled for something to grip, something to make me feel secure. I darted my head around to look for the source of the sound in panic but Ray’s free hand held my head gently, keeping me looking ahead of us.
We kept walking. I kept breathing. We were up at the forth floor before I realised that I was sobbing.
“It’s ok.” Ray leant back against the wall and held me while I soaked the front of his shirt. “It’s ok.”
“No.” I was speaking in that awful, wailing voice that always shocks you when you’re trying to be in control. “It’s not. It’s n-not ok and I thought it would be but it’s not.”
“Listen to me.” His arms were warm around my shoulders. “You’re ok.”
“He hates me.” I uttered in short gasps.
“No.” Ray shook his head. I could feel it. He removed his arms from around my shoulders and gently pried my fingers from where they’d been gripping his shirt. I hadn’t realised that I’d been holding on so tight that my knuckles were white and I’d left creases in the crisp, white fabric.
“I knew that.” I said, trying to slow my breaths. I needed my voice to be normal. Then I could be ok. I needed it to be ok. “I knew but I thought… I thought…”
A fresh wave of sobs overcame me. I hated it that it could. I shouldn’t cry like this. He had no right to make me cry like this. I sank down against the wall until I was sitting. Sitting in the middle of the forth floor corridor with my back against the wall. After a few seconds Ray lowered himself beside me.
“I thought it would be ok.” I repeated. “I thought it would be ok.”
“I know.” Ray just sat there, letting me lean on him.
“I thought it would be ok. I thought I was over him.”
“I thought I was over him.”
A.N. Chapter two! Debbie's back! I have several things to say... this might a lengthy authors note so I apologise in advance... also my keyboard keeps sticking and I'm tired and probably won't notice any typos... so I apologise two times.
Ok, first thing, I can't work out if that's a crappy or a mean ending. Or both. But seemed a good place to stop. She thought she was over him. Now what?
Secondy, did you think it was too... unfunny? I realised as I was writing it how much less humorous it seems at the moment compared to FFA, and wondered if that was an issue... I'm intending for it to lighten up a tad as it goes on but at the moment it's all a bit of an angsty time, sorry if people don't like that!
Thirdly, WELL what did you think in general? I'd love to hear all... Dee/Ray, Dee/Sirius, Dee/Londy, Londy/Oz.... all of it!
Fourthly, I tried to set up a Meet The Author page and failed miserably because I'm a pathetic, easily confused individual. But I answer all reviews so if you have any questions just hit me with a review!
FINALLY, thanks for reading!
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