Chapter 23 : When Was The Last Time You Were Confused?
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It was my fault that this had happened, I hadn't done anything and he had found someone else. I grasped my books to my chest trying to hold myself together. I quickly ran through the corridor glad that it was only a Sunday, and that I could run and hide without the interference of classes. I refused to let myself cry over something so stupid and trivial. Yet it still hurt as much as I told myself it didn't matter. At first I thought I was just hearing rumours that Astoria Greengrass was dating Draco Malfoy, but it had become far too clear that these were not mere rumours they were also the truth. He had so easily given up on me, yet for some reason despite this I was not able to give up on him.
I carefully placed my books into my trunk and sat on the edge of the bed and put my face into my hands. There was just too much confusion in the situation for my liking. I heard a soft tapping at the window and a large tawny owl brandishing a Slug Club invitation lay just on the outside of the window. I quickly opened the window and carefully took the letter from the beak of the large bird. I carefully took the small letter and sat back down upon my bed. The small bright purple letter looked quite formidable in my hands, like something I didn't really wish to open in the current climate, too bright, too cheerful for such dark times.
I carefully pried the letter open revealing the contents of the letter. The fancy writing and the bright, almost cheerful nature of the letter seemed too much for me. I read it twice over quickly trying to determine whether I really wanted to attend anything this evening. Although I needed a cheer up, perhaps this was the perfect event for such a time. I carefully wrote a reply stating that I would be attending and went to my trunk to find something suitable to wear. I could only find jeans and shirts that would not be nice enough for such an occasion, or dresses that seemed a little too formal.
I finally settled upon a dress, unable to decide that anything else looked half decent. It was a dark green shade, strapless and sat around my knees. It was tight around my chest and waist and spiralled out into a full skirt. A dark green ribbon tied up neatly behind my back when worn, the only thing left was a suitable hairstyle, I could not leave my hair thick, tangled and wild as I usually wore it. The dressed needed something a little nicer than what I usually wore. I walked over to the small bathroom to the left of our dormitory, I didn't usually use this bathroom, but I was hoping the bottles of Sleekeazy's Hair Potion I did not use still remained in there. After moving the other bottles of various potions I finally found three single bottles, all full. I hoped that they would do the job this time seeing as there was less there than what I might need.
I looked at the time there were precisely four hours until the party actually begun; I would need three hours before the party to ensure that the potion worked and that I'd put enough in my hair for it actually to remain straight. I walked out into the Common Room where Ginny was talking to Neville and Seamus, clearly they were discussing the party and who she was going to take. They looked up at me, I hadn't been crying so there was no possible reason they should be staring at me like they were. That's when I realised they wanted to know who I was going to take to the party. I guessed they were perhaps trying to guess whether I would be taking this 'mystery guy' or no-one.
"Hey guys." I called as I walked up to them.
"Hey," Ginny replied, "going to Slughorn's party?"
"Yes, I just got the invitation. Are you going?" I asked.
"Yep, taking Neville – as friends of course." She replied. "Who are you going to take?"
"Seamus, do you want to go? As friends I mean. That's if you haven't got anything better to do, if you do I don't mind, I'll just take Luna or someone…" I blabbered, it sounded very different in my mind, it came out like the alphabet backwards instead of actual words.
"No, it's fine. I'll go." He said. "What do we have to wear?"
"I'm just wearing a dress. So I guess nothing too fancy. Do you all want to go hang out by the lake for an hour or so?" I asked.
"We have nothing better to do." Ginny replied leading the way. "You know you never did tell us who the mystery guy was. It's been what five days and you've kept that all to yourself."
"I intend to either. It doesn't matter anymore. I'd rather forget it all."
"If you say so." She said in a rather sing-song like fashion as we walked down the long corridor to the Grand Staircase.
It was nice to spend time away from everything, laughing and just talking about regular worries, homework, teachers and the Carrows. It seemed like a world so far away from the one I was living in it was almost shocking that I could participate so easily. Although it was clear they could tell something was bothering me, something was not entirely right. The cold winter wind had already began to cover the ground, the harsh cold of the winter months was only weeks away. I'd completely allowed the hearing to slip my mind.
"The hearing!" I cried bolting upright from my position leaning against a tree.
"What?" Ginny cried.
"It's tonight! I almost forgot!" I cried my breathing picking up.
"It's alright…" Ginny cried hugging me. "Calm down… What hearing?"
"The hearing, the hearing in front of the Muggleborn Registration Commission. They requested a hearing through Snape and he agreed. He didn't do anything but to me that if they request my expulsion he'll allow it. He's not going to protect me, or hide me when I need it, I need to be ready to run, to fend for myself if things don't go according to plan. I haven't told you this because I didn't want you to worry, or to try and do anything. Because there is nothing we can do, there is nothing I could do to stop this. All I can do is hope that they fall for my story or are lenient and let me go. I don't know what I'm going to do, or what I'm going to do if I have to run, but I know I'm going to do my best to find Harry and Ron and to help them best I can. That's the plan that I've got. Because I'm a realist and it's not all going to go according to plan, I of all people know that. Just trust that I know what I'm doing and know I didn't tell you for the right sorts of reasons."
"You can't leave, they can't make you! You're smartest student here!" Ginny cried. "You're friends with Harry, they have to protect you!"
"Ginny they can't. The full force of the Ministry is behind the Commission and I'm so lucky that they haven't stormed in here and taken by force. Do you know how many people that has happened to? I've read about it in the Daily Prophet, and trust me; compared to those people I've been really lucky. If don't come back tonight, I just want you to know that I'm grateful that I had you all with me, because without you I don't know what I would have done. I know for sure that I would given up a long time ago. I'm glad I can call you my friends." I whispered. "I have to go, maybe I'll be back in time for the party, I don't know."
Ginny hugged me tightly and whispered that if I didn't come back she would personally hunt me down and kill me herself, before she let me go. It was not everyday that one saw Ginny Weasley crying, today was another of those rare exceptions. I hugged both Neville and Seamus in turn before beginning my long walk back towards the castle. This could very well be my last day here, the place I had called home for almost seven years. In a way it was like saying goodbye to something that was about to be entirely destroyed, but I knew that Hogwarts would remain; despite everything it would only be inaccessible to those like me. I would never be able to return to the place I loved and called home. For the first time in my life I could be someone, the person I was without living in fear of being called a freak.
From a young age I knew I was different, I could do things that I couldn't explain. Things that only happened when I was frightened or sad, things I couldn't control or explain. These moments, these outbursts of magic which I couldn't control they are the reason I never fit in among the Muggles, the reason I never had any friends. My childhood was not as happy as it could have been, it was never a nice realisation knowing you didn't have any friends to come around to your birthday parties, or go to the park with. But Hogwarts changed that and for the first time I knew what it was like to have friends and now I had to look upon the place that had given so much to me, and know that I might never be able to come back; that maybe I would never even see it again.
I opened the doors quickly and strolled almost calmly into the Entrance Hall and up the staircase. It was almost comforting to know that I was not being dragged away against my will, that I could say goodbye to my home in a fitting and comforting way. I walked up to the Common Room and into the dormitory. I was going to put on the dress, I was going to do my hair – I was going to make it seem as though I would return, because with any form of luck I would return. Perhaps if I believed I could, perhaps if I stayed strong and believed that there was a chance maybe I would return, perhaps I would. If I held hope in my heart like everyone seemed to perhaps this once I would stand a chance. I glanced at my hair and dress in the mirror; it looked like I'd made some form of effort. At least I would look nice for the hearing. I thought.
"Oh Miss Granger don't you look lovely!" I heard the hurried voice of Professor McGonagall say. "I'm deeply sorry, I was unable to find you earlier, I received an urgent owl from the Ministry requesting that the hearing be postponed until next week, there was a small issue at the Ministry earlier today and they are unable to proceed with the hearing. I'm sorry if you dressed up for this, I was unable to find you anywhere to tell you anywhere."
"Oh thank god!" I cried falling to my knees. "I'm actually grateful."
"I think we're all grateful Miss Granger, I think we all are." She said turning to walk out the door.
"Why did they postpone the hearing Professor?" I asked quietly.
She turned with a small smile upon her face, "Harry and Ron were there this morning, they caused quite a commotion before vanishing as those they were smoke. At least you know they're alive and well and that they managed to cause quite a bit of damage to both property and several Ministry officials."
"I am glad. It's almost nice to know that they're actually doing what they said they would. That they also alive not just hiding." I whispered.
"I think everyone who is hoping for an end to this war is, Miss Granger, I think we all are."
I smiled and grabbed the small silver bag I had for special occasions from within my trunk. I looked over at Professor McGonagall, "It's nice to see that you actually managed to continue on with life, I'm glad that you didn't spend forever dwelling on the past.
"Believe me Professor, so am I."
I shut my trunk and followed her from the room to where Ginny, Neville and Seamus stood waiting, it was clear that McGonagall had told them that I would actually be joining them. Ginny too wore a dress, a silver dress that sat a few inches above the knee and tied up in two bow above the shoulders. The silver colour of her dress matched her hair perfectly. Neville and Seamus wore simple black dress robes, nothing fancy, but nothing too simple. It must have been much easier to dress if you were a male. We walked down to the party together, all along the cold stone corridor a series of lanterns had been bewitched to float just above our heads.
We entered the office which was already alive with countless people moving about within, I noticed several students who were members of the club last year such as Cormac McLaggen, but I also noticed several new additions one being Astoria Greengrass, who had evidentially chosen to bring Draco. I looked away and followed Seamus over to where Slughorn stood to greet him. As always he introduced us to his guests, today it was Gwenog Jones, Captain of the Holyhead Harpies. She was pretty and extremely nice, and after quite a while struck up a long conversation with Ginny, becoming extremely interested in her Quidditch ability. I left the group talking and walked over to a corner with Seamus where we took a seat and begun talking.
"He's looking at you, did you know?" He whispered.
"Who?" I asked looking around.
"Draco, although one could hardly blame him. You do look ravishing this evening. Is that the guy, you know the one Ginny's always trying to guess who it is?"
I couldn't speak.
"I don't care you know. I'm your friend and if you like him for some reason I guess I can understand that. Me Mam' always used to say that we can't help who we fall in love with."
"It's complicated." I replied.
"I can see that." He laughed. "It must hurt seeing him with her."
"It's doesn't hurt that much," I replied truthfully. "it's more confusing than anything else."
I glanced over at him, he looked amazing tonight, his black dress robes matched well with his platinum blonde hair which in the interesting and colourful lighting. Astoria was pretty also, I could see why he would choose her, there was really nothing plain about her. I caught his eye as I glanced over at him, there was something there, something that showed the pain I had caused. I turned my face away, not wanting to see that in his eyes again. Not wanting to see the pain or confusion in his eyes, this most likely mirrored that of mine. As much as I had tried to avoid causing pain, it was clear that I'd caused it. I knew I couldn't speak to him, I couldn't apologise and that was the most confusing part of the entire situation.
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