Chapter 8 : Heading Towards A Breakdown
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Rain drops splashed against the window, cascading down slowly and dripping off the sill. April showers were supposed to bring May flowers, but it was the middle of May and it had been raining for the past week straight. It seemed an appropriate reflection of Jamie’s mood though, which only made everything harder to deal with. It seemed her days all ran together. She would wake up every morning and roll out of bed, force herself to do the daily essentials and drag herself to St. Mungo’s. It was a repetitious mess that she couldn’t free herself from, not that she really had the drive to do so.
Ginny had come over a couple of times in the past few weeks. Worried, as were the rest of the Weasley’s save for George who didn’t want to speak with her, the determined redhead made sure Jamie got out of her house for something other than her duties as an intern at St. Mungo’s. Yet despite her valiant efforts, Ginny grew irritated, rightfully so at that. Cormac had written to her and she had done her best to reply to every letter, but even that began to require too much energy. Whereas Ginny gave up, Cormac didn’t.
Jamie crossed her living room with two cups in hand, steam rising from the tea, and sat down on the couch next to Cormac. She smiled meekly as she handed him the cup of tea, bashful and somewhat embarrassed by the state she was living in and the mess she felt she looked like.
“Thank you,” Cormac grinned winningly.
“You’re welcome. Sorry ‘bout the mess. I didn’t really know you were in the area. I’ve been so busy and all, with St. Mungo’s,” she trailed off as she raised the cup to her lips and tentatively took a sip.
“Oh, it’s quite all right. Sorry for showing up on such short notice. My father and I were stopping off at Gringotts and I was planning to send an owl, but I think my letters might have been getting lost.” A guilty looked washed over Jamie’s features, but he seemed not to notice. “Anyway, I was wondering if you’d like to join me for dinner tonight?”
“Oh, Cormac, I’d really love to but-”
“I haven’t seen you in a while, Jay. It’ll be fun, I promise.”
A small sigh slipped from her lips as she looked down at the tea cup. Cormac reached over thoughtfully and enveloped her hand with his own. Jamie lifted her gaze as the corners of her lips turned up slightly. She scrunched her nose up as he ran his thumb over the back of her hand and nodded finally. He beamed at her, eyes lighting up and smile spreading across his face.
“I do need a bit of a break.”
“I’ll pick you up in two hours?”
Jamie nodded as she rose to her feet, Cormac mimicking her move, and the two walked to the door. Soon she found herself wrapped in his arms in a small embrace, his lips grazing her cheek softly. It was one of her favorite things about the boy, or rather man, although the Weasley’s would fiercely protest that accusation. He never crossed any boundary that Jamie had set up for the two. Now that she thought about it, he was far too patient to be a normal male.
“Thanks for stopping by.” Jamie’s lips curled up in a forced smile as she tried her best to seem genuine. She sighed and slumped down as he stepped aside and left her apartment. There was only so much enthusiasm she could muster up these days before she looked absolutely mad. That was something she wanted to avoid. Yes, definitely avoid.
“Two hours,” she mused aloud. At least it wasn’t as bad as the five hours she had to endure before her evening with George.
The name left her feeling so many things. Her emotions ranged from incredibly irritated to guilty and remorseful, hopeful yet at the same time terribly pessimistic. The entire situation was down right absurd. One minute she’d be daydreaming about the possibilities, the next she’d be cursing him straight to Azkaban.
Jamie blinked away the tears prickling at her eyes as she trudged to her bedroom. She’d make the most of her two hours and use every minute to look absolutely perfect. She tore her closet door open, muttering under her breath, and pushed a large section of her clothes to one side. She stuck her arm into the closet and tugged at a hanger, struggling to remove it but finally succeeding. The dazzling red dress made her smile mournfully.
The dress held special meaning, a gift from Fred for their second anniversary. Jamie had only worn it once, but it had made her feel so beautiful as his warm, hazel eyes traced over her every curve, admiring and never demeaning. Part of her hoped it would have the same effect that evening, but she was doubtful. She bent down and picked up the matching red heels before moving to her haphazardly made bed, placing the dress on the comforter carefully. Her breath hitched in her chest as a loud slam echoed through the walls of her apartment. A new array of emotions paraded through her. Blocking out the sound of his voice was impossible.
“No good prat,” she hissed under her breath, practically tearing off her shirt and sweats and pulling the formfitting red dress over her small frame. It fit. Hell, it fit perfectly. Curiosity began to well up inside Jamie as she glided lifelessly to the bathroom.
To her surprise, she looked healthy. Her face had filled out, cheeks no longer hollow and skin no longer lacking their natural glow. Her long, chestnut locks were rich in color and felt healthy as she raked her unsteady hand through them. Jamie ran the palms of her hands down her sides of the strapless dress, impressed by every curve as her fingertips deftly ran along the seems. She no longer looked thin to the point where she would break at any given moment, but toned and in shape. None of this made her feel beautiful though. None of it made her feel sexy.
The brunette dropped her gaze and began to hurriedly search for her make-up. The only person who had truly made her feel beautiful had been Fred. Never having been the most confident person, but far from self-deprecating, Jamie knew that it would take a great deal to make her feel like that again. Perhaps Cormac would be the one to finally make a breakthrough.
An hour and a half had passed since Cormac had left. Naturally, Jamie wasn’t entirely ready but she was getting there. The hair had been a bit of a hassle, and after a great deal of struggling with her muggle appliances, Jamie caved and simply curled her dark locks with magic. Her hazel eyes were carefully accentuated by the dark liner and shadow, the long lashes enhanced by the thick mascara.
“Uhmmm,” Jamie hummed thoughtfully as she sifted through her make-up bag, grinning when she located the blush. She dabbed a bit onto the brush and applied it lightly across her cheekbones, blending it as she peered at the mirror. Pleased, Jamie grabbed the gold tube of lipstick and removed the top. The dark red color matched her dress perfectly, and upon applying the last little bit to her full lips, she couldn’t help but see herself as elegant. “Perfect,” she smiled as she began to clean up her mess.
A soft knock echoed through her house. Jamie froze momentarily but quickly tossed the last brush into the bag. Cormac was a bit early but she wasn’t disappointed. Part of her really was eager for the date, even if she had ulterior motives she didn’t want to face. She began to run toward the door but stopped to swipe her heels from her bed and grab a coat from her chair.
“Ouch,” Jamie grumbled as she juggled her heels and coat in her arms while fiddling with the lock of the door. “Sorry for taking--”
George’s eyes grew wide as he stared at her. Jamie felt a blush creep onto her cheeks, face warm and butterflies in place. His gaze softened but he didn’t meet her eyes. Her breath hitched in her chest as he stared at her in what seemed to be appreciation. Jamie opened her mouth to speak but George blinked from his trance and chuckled nervously.
“Uh m-mind if I come in?”
“N-not at all,” Jamie replied warmly, clearing her throat subtly as she stepped out of the way and opened the door wider. Her heart was racing in her chest as an unexplainable warmth traveled through every inch of her body.
“I’m so sorry, George. I was so silly for bringing all this upon you. I should never have mentioned anything. It’s just some silly crush. Already over it, rest assured. I guess all this stress really got to me,” Jamie spat out breathlessly, a nervous laugh escaping her as she twirled a strand of hair around her fingertip.
“No, Jay. It really was me overreacting. Not that it really matters too much. I really am happy with Angelina. You and I would never work, anyway. You were right in telling me not to worry about things. Silly me shouldn’t have even prodded,” he replied. The conversation between the two was being thrown about so quickly that both were practically out of breath.
This was supposed to be the part where she laughed everything off and got over him, but she couldn’t even fool herself. Hearing him say he was happy with Angelina was one thing, but for him to say they would never work out was detrimental to her mental stability. Ouch.
“I know, I completely understand.” Lies, lies, lies. “I’m just glad we cleared all this rubbish up. No need to lose my best mate over something as mad as you and me,” she added with a forced chuckle.
Tension began to settle over the two. George had his arms folded firmly over his chest as Jamie shifted awkwardly from one foot to the next. Both were rigid, eyes intensely focused on the other. She wanted him to take everything he said back, but unfortunately was well aware that he’d never do such a thing. Another knock broke the silence. Jamie eyed the door but made no move to get it. Another knock sounded against the wood. She looked over at George with urgency in her eyes. Take it back, you dolt. Nothing.
“You going to get that?” George asked blandly.
“Oh, yes. Of course.”
Jamie sidestepped the tall redhead and moved to the door, opening it swiftly. A wide smile played at her lips as Cormac’s arms engulfed her in a pleasant hug.
“You ready, darling?” Cormac inquired as he stepped into the apartment. His eyes met George’s and the tension escalated tenfold.
“Almost, I was just seeing George here out,” Jamie replied coyly as she ran her hand over his arm absentmindedly.
“McLaggen,” George practically growled.
“Weasley,” Cormac shot back with an equal amount of animosity. His expression softened tremendously as he returned his focus to Jamie and presented her with a single white rose from behind his back. “For you,” he grinned.
“Her favorite flowers are white lilies, not roses,” George interjected cooly.
“George, please,” Jamie sighed, nodding to the door. His lip twitched as he shook his head, a look of pure disgust shot in her direction as he stalked out of the apartment and into his own. If things weren’t confusing enough as it was, that certainly didn’t add any clarity to Jamie’s predicament. She smiled apologetically at Cormac. “Sorry ‘bout that. He’s been a complete and total arse lately.”
“Seems to me he’s a bit jealous. Rightfully so, too. Not every day a guy finds themselves lucky enough to be accompany such a beautiful woman on a date,” Cormac replied evenly, with only the faintest smile on his lips.
“You’re going to make me blush,” Jamie laughed softly. It was obviously too late by the light shade of pink decorating her cheeks. Elated to say the least, she stepped forward and kissed his cheek lightly. “You’re too sweet, Cormac.”
“Shall we head out? A car is awaiting us outside The Leaky Cauldron.” Cormac opened the door effortlessly and nodded. “After you, love.”
She smirked lightly, eyes glimmering with hope as Cormac’s arm snaked around her waist as the other pulled the door shut behind them.
“And you wouldn’t believe what he said! Told my father that I’d have the job within a week or two. It’s baffling, really, to think that I’ll be within those walls, sitting at a desk with a bloody nine to five job.” Cormac pushed his plate away and tucked his napkin underneath the corner.
“I thought that’s what you wanted?” Jamie asked after taking a sip of wine from her glass. Her cheeks were flushed from the liquor, causing her to glow as she smiled widely at an enthusiastic Cormac McLaggen.
“Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m right chuffed over the whole thing. It’ll just be....a bit different,” he replied casually, sipping at his own glass of wine. “I guess it is about time I settled down and take on some responsibilities.”
His blue gaze captured Jamie’s as she peered happily through her dark lashes. Butterflies set off inside her stomach at his words, at his tone. The way his eyes bore into hers made her slightly nervous, almost giddy in a sense. Cormac was so confident and charismatic, a catch in every sense of the word.
Snap out of it Jamie urged herself, blinking away the effects of the wine.
“You’re only right out of Hogwarts,” she mused.
“It’s been 3 years,” he chuckled in reply as he waved over the waiter and ordered another bottle of wine. “Besides, I’ve always thought of myself a little ahead of others my age.”
Jamie’s lips curled into a smirk at his eagerness to prove his maturity. She often forgot he was a year her junior. His effortless way of carrying himself was quite impressive, but his ego sometimes got in the way. The waiter returned with the new bottle of wine, uncorking it and pouring the light liquid into the empty glasses of the couple.
“I think you’ll do a great job at the Ministry, Cormac. You have the charisma of someone who’s been working there for years and your confidence will help you fly up the ranks in no time. Just make sure they don’t use you for the wrong things. Kingsley is a great Minister but I doubt they were able to weed out all the corruption left over from the war.”
“The day any tosser tries to use me will be a dark day indeed. I’ll be damned if I let them use my talents for their own personal gain,” Cormac assured her, reaching over and squeezing her hand.
“I’d hate to be the person who makes that mistake,” she smiled, her eyes flickering from their hands back to his eyes.
Things seemed to be going perfectly, but something was definitely bothering her. Jamie couldn’t put a finger on it though. Every time she looked at him, really looked at him, she felt a small tug on her heart. Something was missing and she couldn’t figure out what in Merlin’s name it was.
Jamie gazed off in the distance, the faint glow of candles illuminating the otherwise dim restaurant filled with scattered couples. Her lips parted slightly as she sighed, allowing the wine’s effects to really set in as her head began to spin with questions.
“You all right?”
Cormac’s voice broke her concentration and she nodded quickly as she turned to look at him.
“Hm, yes. I’m fine,” she smiled softly.
“Spacing out there a little bit. You, er, ready to head back?” Cormac asked. He cleared his throat subtly as he wrung his hands.
“I probably should. It’s getting late and I’d rather not end up legless if I drink anymore,” Jamie admitted with a nervous, bubbly chuckle. How embarrassing it would be for her if he had to take care of her because she couldn’t withstand the effects of that delightful wine she’d been drinking.
The brunette slowly rose to her feet, taking a few uneasy steps. Her heel caught on the table cloth and she nearly tripped. Cormac steadied her instantly and pulled her loosely to his chest. She grimaced in embarrassment as he beamed down at her.
“You sure you’re not already there, love?” he teased as he rubbed the small of her back. His wolfish grin did nothing to soothe the burning in her cheeks but she let out a small, nervous laugh in reply.
“Perhaps,” Jamie shrugged as she looked up through her lashes, the corners of her mouth curving up in a coy grin.
Cormac snaked his arm around Jamie’s waist as they headed toward the front of the restaurant. She couldn’t help but look around at all the other couples, noting the smallest of signs, most of which either depicted perfect happiness or complete ease. As Cormac paid the check, she stood to the side and began twisting Fred’s ring around her finger, thumbing the stones and biting her bottom lip. Cormac turned from the host and moved toward her.
“Yeah. Thank you so much for the lovely dinner,” Jamie answered, dropping her arms to her side and turning toward the door. He, being the gentleman that he was, opened the door for her and nodded as she slipped into the cool, London air. A small shiver crept up her spine as she took her first few steps. “A bit chilly.”
“Here, take my coat while we wait for the limo. Blimey, he should’ve been here already,” he sighed, shooting her an apologetic glance. He slipped out of the dress coat and placed it around Jamie’s narrow shoulders, smoothing down the sleeves and running his hands down her arms.
“Much better,” Jamie breathed as Cormac wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and nuzzled her neck, placing a gentle kiss on her jawline.
The butterflies returned, goosebumps rose up on her slender arms beneath the coat, and her knees grew weak. Perhaps it was wine making Cormac so forward, and it was definitely the wine that was making Jamie so receptive to the intimate affection. The limo slowly pulled up beside the restaurant and the concierge hurried around the car and opened the door for the two. Jamie slid in first, Cormac following as she pulled the coat tighter around her shivering frame.
“Leaky Cauldron, sir?”
“Yes, make it quick.”
Her eyes became heavy as the hum of the engine and the blur of street lights shown through the tinted window of the limo. Jamie rested the side of her head on Cormac’s shoulder, closing her eyes momentarily to stop the spinning. Even with her eyes closed she could feel the curious blue gaze on her, most likely slightly worried about her. She opened one eye and peered at Cormac, wrapping her arms around his left arm and curling into his side.
She dozed off.
“Jamie? Jay,” came a soft murmur from somewhere in the distance. The voice grew louder as her name was repeated over and over. A warm yet calloused hand cupped her face as a thumb brushed over her cheek softly. “Wake up, we’re here.”
“Hmmm,” she groaned. The world was a blur as she opened her eyes slowly. Cormac’s silhouette came in to view as she was helped from the back seat of the limo. “How embarrassing,” she sighed, shoulders sinking a few inches as she was led into the quaint, dark confines of the Leaky Cauldron.
“Fine lass ya got there, McLaggen,” a gruff, haggard man in his early fifties slurred out from a table toward the back.
Jamie made a move to look at him, but the flames from the vast fireplace cast a shadow on his face, and Cormac lead her quickly through the establishment to avoid further comments.
“Come off it, old geezer. Get back to your booze!” snarled the barkeeper.
“Bloody tosser,” Cormac muttered as he reached into the coat pocket, pulling forth his wand and tapping the bricks. They folded back until a passageway into Diagon Alley appeared. He held onto her hand tightly, but was careful not to hurt her, as they made their way down the dark street.
After several minutes, the couple arrived at Elder’s Place and ascended to the second floor where Jamie lived. If she was being honest with herself, there was no way she would have been able to make it up to the second floor by herself. This would be the last time she drank that much wine.
“Now where are they?” Jamie mumbled as she rummaged through her small hand bag, searching for her keys. She located them after a few more irritating moments and pulled them out, turning to face Cormac. “I had fun tonight. Thank you, again,” she smiled softly.
“The pleasure was mine,” he grinned.
Silence settled over the two as their eyes met. The distance between the two diminished as Cormac stepped forward, his head lowering to meet hers. Their lips brushed together lightly. His hand soon found the side of her face, cupping her cheek and fingertips pushing into the curls of her hair. Jamie’s breath caught in her throat as their lips moved together in a tender kiss. He pulled away and smiled, a smile which reached his soft eyes.
There was that tug in her stomach again.
“Can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting to do that,” he commented with a low chuckle.
“I must admit, I’m surprised you waited so long,” Jamie replied sweetly, reaching up and placing her hand against the hand that was still against her face.
“Chivalry is a dying art. Until next time?” He left her no time to respond but kissed her sweetly again. Tug.
“Until next time,” she murmured as he pulled away. With one final peck--tug -- Cormac turned and headed down the hallway and disappeared down the stairwell. Something was definitely missing.
Turning, Jamie pushed the door open, jumping as a loud slam echoed through the hall. Several crashes sounded in the apartment next to her, plates or something of the sort shattering.
“What in Merlin’s name is going on?” she groaned, pulling her apartment door shut and turning toward George’s. Steadying herself by placing her hand on the wall, Jamie walked the few feet and threw open the door with a muttered spell. “People are trying to sleep!”
George’s tall, shadowed figure appeared from the kitchen door. His eyes bore into her as she stood awkwardly in the living room, hugging the coat, Cormac’s coat, around her loosely. He looked livid.
“How could you?” he snarled.
“How could I what?”
“Let that tosser kiss you? Let him put his slimey hands on you? Don’t you see how big of a git he is? How much he’s messed with this family, my family, what was supposed to be your family?”
“Get off your bloody high horse, George. He’s done nothing of the sort to your family! Yes, he was a bit of an idiot toward Ron, but that’s hardly something to go all loony about!”
“What about his moves on Hermione? Saint McLaggen, ha! You give him too much credit,” George scoffed, rolling his eyes at Jamie.
“Oh, what a low blow there, George. Low blow, indeed. You’re no better than him if you’re goin’ to keep nagging me every bloody time I go out on a date,” she shot back venomously.
“Well, if its a low blow that lets you see how big of an arse he is, then low blows I’ll deal.”
“Stop being a wanker and get over yourself. Just because you don’t like Cormac, for childish reasons at that, doesn’t mean I’m going to give up something good,” she whispered harshly.
George stepped out of the shadows and into the light provided by the moon. He looked haggard, unkept and somewhat thinner than usual. It was no where near as noticeable as it was during the grieving process of Fred’s death, but he lacked luster. A heavy sigh slipped from his lips as he raked a hand through his mess of ginger locks.
“This is pathetic. This whole ruddy thing is pathetic. He’s not a good thing. He’s not right for you!”
“How would you know what’s good for me and what isn’t? Where have you been when I needed someone? Oh yes, that’s right! With Angelina. You know what, just forget it. Don’t worry about trying to get your point across. Don’t worry about trying to be there. I can see you’re just being an implacable git!”
“It’s a bit a hard to be there for someone when all they do is hang on to absolute trash,” he shot back without thought.
That was the last straw.
“Don’t ever, ever speak to me again!” Jamie screamed, anger coursing like white hot fire through her veins.
“I’ll be damned if I even look at you again!” George shouted back in retaliation.
“Fine by me!”
Jamie’s chest rose and fell quickly, her breathing ragged and her fists clenched tight. The skin over her knuckles was ghostly white, yet her face was flushed red. George was in a similar stance.
“Good riddance, coward.”
“GET OUT!” he bellowed.
Jamie turned on her heel and stormed from his apartment, slamming the door with such force that it sounded like the entire hall shook. She stomped into her apartment and into her room, tossing herself on to her disheveled bed. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she buried her face into the pillow, crying and shaking herself to sleep.
One thing was for sure--George was right. Cormac wasn’t the right one for her.
Author's Note: Ugh, so sorry this took forever. I sincerely apologize for the lack of updates! School and work have been taking over my life. Thanks to everyone who has stayed with me during this story, I hope you enjoy this chapter! Please leave a review!
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