Chapter 17 : Cold Dreams and Colder Realities
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- Bertrand Russell
There was a splitting pain that felt like it was ripping me in two. Meanwhile, I was feeling dizzy, only hearing the shouts and screams around me. My hand moved around the surface, trying to find something for comfort, but all I was able to grasp was air. My hands were becoming weaker, and everything became faint around me, like everything was a distant tune.
But the tune stayed there. The jeers, the taunts and one voice stood out from the rest.
“Draco, tell them to stop.”
“I can’t stop it.”
“Of course you can,” the voice pleaded. I tried to turn my head to her, but all I could see was a gust of blonde hair that spread in the wind, appearing as only a flicker.
“Let go of her,” commanded another. I was dropped onto the ground, as I grasped at the Earth beneath me. So soft, so cool, and so temporary.
“In an hour, when she’s recovered enough, we’ll begin.” And apart from the screams that were so far away they could be mistaken for bird calls, everyone around me rejoiced.
Waking up in a sweat, I stared at her blankly, mostly out of embarrassment. It hadn’t happened in so long, and never at Hogwarts, so I hadn’t been expecting it. Amy was staring back down at me in utter confusion. I thought she would just be glad that she’s not the one with the maddest quirk anymore. By that I’m referring to Leslie, who luckily hasn’t made an appearance in quite some time.
“What was that?” she whispered to me.
My cheeks still red from shame, I said, “Just a bad dream.”
“It seemed more than bad.” She lifted her hand to check my temperature but then heaved a sigh. “Well, you haven’t got a fever.”
“Shame. Could get Bella off my back. Either that or she would be rejoicing.”
“Stop joking. You must remember something about it.”
“Is it that important?”
“It’s not the first time it’s happened, is it?”
My body froze and I looked up to Amy’s cautious eyes, and the will to joke was drained from me. How many times had she heard it? How many dreams had I really had? Were there some that I never woke up from, that reached a conclusion? If there were, I couldn’t remember them. I waiting, petrified, until Amy finally spoke, but the moment never came. She just stared at me, her eyes searing into me with a dark expression.
“How...?” I couldn’t even bring about a whole sentence, it almost seemed to intimate to discuss. The things I had dreamed, they were so potent, and so twisted that I didn’t dare speak of them. The things I saw, the things I heard, the things I felt. The same damn types of dreams, as if you almost knew at the end, someone was bound to die. But that was the worst one, because something told me, deep within my guts, that it was me that time. That on that occasion, if I wear ever to feel that experience again, I would know that I was going to die.
“You do it more often now,” said Amy. “I just thought you were muttering in your sleep, but it can get as bad as that. You sweat, and thrash about the place. Magda said one time you screamed.” So Magda knows to.
“When was this?”
“Not too long ago.” This was followed by yet another silence. “What happened in it?”
I backtracked as far as I could. All the voices, the shouts, the kicks and punches, they were all so clear. But the actual events? What did they say, and what was happening? That was mostly a blur to me. But after thinking about it for quite some time, I finally said, my eyes wide with horror, “A hunt.”
“A hunt,” I repeated, wanting to hold myself just so that I kept together. “They were hunting.”
“Who?” I shook my head, I didn’t know that answer. “What were they hunting?”
“Me.” I began to shake more forcefully than even before. “They’re going to hunt me.”
“Anne, it’s just a -” Amy then picked on something even I hadn’t fully before. “They’re going to hunt you?”
“I’m getting some air, I -”
I had already walked out of the bedroom door. She probably didn’t follow me because she knew now wasn’t the time for the intrusive questions. I just wanted to run away again, but more so then when I thought George was angry at me. But this time, I knew where to run. I might not be able to immediately find it again, but perhaps Drew could find me.
When I walked down to the living area, I saw Bella sitting on the sofa. I had almost forgotten about her, which would have been rather surprising most nights, considering how dead I was. I was too weak to fight, but too headstrong to walk away. It was a push and pull factor I had never really felt before. Slowly coming down the stairs, I feebly called out, “Bella?”
She turned her head and groaned when she saw me. Charming. “Well, I suppose you were coming to apologise at some point.”
“I’m not here to apologise.”
To my surprise, she said, “I know.”
“It didn’t mean anything.”
“I mean, I want someone -” Shut up. “I don’t want him.”
“I know.” Why does this all feel like dèja-vous?
“Then why are you so mad at me?”
Bella’s eyes slightly sparkled, though it was probably just the distance. If I had been nearer, the fact that they were welling up with tears would’ve been more pronounced. “He kissed you. In all our relationship, he didn’t kiss me. It’s as if he -” Bella trailed off, and then looked up at me, more sad than angry. “You get the picture.”
Sadly, I did. I never even thought of that. One of the big problems with Seamus and Bella within their relationship was that he never kissed her. Not once. And there he was, just throwing himself at me because he felt a little lonely? How would I react to that? Probably a lot better than she is right now.
I kneeled down at her side and went, “You can do better, you know that?”
“Yeah.” Bella laughed lightly, but soon became serious again. “But I - I don’t know. I suppose I’m just used to the fact that I can do better and lower if I wanted to. And now... well clearly not.”
“You can’t win them all.”
“Obviously you weren’t me at thirteen.” Bella was pretty damn lucky then. “I suppose it’s just your time now.”
Well that was a joke. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh come on. You have so many men sniffing around you now.”
“You mean one: George.”
“Well, I haven’t heard from Oliver in a long time. Things could’ve changed,” I said, rather regretfully.
“So that’s why he came to the Three Broomsticks?”
“Maybe he was thirsty?” I suggested.
“He was in Hogsmeade, that’s quite a while away.”
“Well, did he tell you why he was there? Since you’re the expert on this one.” A grin formed on Bella’s face that reached from cheek to cheek. “He did! He did tell you why he was there.”
“Not exactly. But he asked about you. He asked quite a fair bit about you. And, this is an odd one: he asked about Leslie.”
But... I wrote to her before that incident. How the hell could she know what was going on? The little, interfering whatchimahooey.
What in Merlin’s name is a whatchimahooey? Because I swear I didn’t just make that up. I’ll figure out one day. But that’s not the point.
“What are you doing up so early, anyway?” asked Bella.
“Bad dreams,” I replied casually.
“We all do, yeah. Don’t you think you should see someone about this?”
“Who do I see? Madam Pomfrey is a quack,” I commented sourly, definitely not taking the fact that she thinks I’m some kind of hussy into account.
“I don’t know,” replied Bella. “I suppose I don’t know enough about it.” Well, talk about subtly hinting.
Not in the mood to discuss it any further, I simply said, “I’ll see you later.”
“You going out now?”
“Well, it seems like a time of day that Umbridge wouldn’t appreciate me out, so I thought I’d take a stroll.”
“Drew,” I called out into the dark night. “Here, Drew. Psst!” How do you call him? He’s probably in his squirrel form now, but he’s still a human. I don’t really know how to talk to men as it is, so it’s much easier to treat him as a squirrel - except he’s not one. Why do men have to make themselves even more complicated than before?
I reached a certain clearing, but had no clue whether or not it was right one. The snow was thinning, but its presence was still extremely pronounced. There was nothing magical or distinctive about the areas I reached, but I was beginning to grow tired of the search, to a point where any old spot would do. I found myself by an Oak, which I had managed to grow comfy by, after the frost had melted away from the bark.
"Here, Drewy, Drewy, Drewy… Ah, shit."
“They’re going to hunt me.” Why had I said it like that? I was so sure of it at the time, but now that my nerves had calmed down, I could see I was being ridiculous. Something like that was never going to happen to me, and even if it could, how would I know now? I can’t tell these things. So far as I’m concerned, there were no Seers in the family. Unless...
Oh, how am I supposed to know? They can’t be true, but they feel so damn real! How do you know if they’re just dreams or something more? That’s the question. Because if they are something more... Maybe I can forget about that outcome. The screaming, the deaths... everything falls to dust in my dreams, but there’s nothing in our -
I stood up and wandered slowly to the voice that was calling me. It wasn’t really distinctive, the wind howled around me so hard that it was hard to make it out, but I could still hear it. Probably someone coming to tell me that lessons are actually going to start soon, so I better make a move on. But I really didn’t want to go to lessons right now. It was all too much.
And there she was: Adele.
Adele had, on many occasions - publicly shown her dislike for me. I had been dubbed by her as the ‘bitch’, and I had similar sentiments for her. Always around Cedric like his wing-man or something, and one of the many reasons why Amy felt uncomfortable during her relationship with him. So why in Merlin’s name was she looking for me?
“There you are. Drew said he thought he heard a voice earlier.”
“So you came?” I didn’t bother asking how she knew Drew. I just wasn’t in the mood.
“I just wanted to check up on you.”
“OK, but I was curious. Sharing hiding places now, are we?”
“I just needed somewhere to go. He offered.”
“Despite your little boyfriend, Weasel.”
“Weasley,” I corrected coldly. “And it’s nothing like that.”
“Well, you probably should be running along to lessons.”
“As should you.”
“Allow me to escort you, then,” she said curtly.
I trudged onwards, while she walked a few steps behind me. She curiously didn’t say anything for quite some time, until I finally heard a chuckle behind me. I should learn by now to just ignore her, as she always ended up getting me wound up, but I couldn’t resist.
“Nothing. Just you’re not quite on top of the game as you used to be. Guess when you finally score yourself a life, things get complicated.”
“I know exactly what I’m doing,” I lied.
“Oh, Walters,” she sneered.
“Not Anne, anymore?” I questioned. Something about that comment seemed to catch her off guard. Something had clearly changed since our last encounter, as much as she wanted to deny it.
“Walters, you’re a wreck. Running away, throwing up, sneaking around with any boy who can get their hands on you, and you’re still probably kissing a Harry Potter picture under your pillow.” How the hell does she know I had one? “What’s worse is that you still act like the same bitch you always did. Just admit it, the queen’s lost her crown. And your little lackeys are just wallowing around in the vein hope that you can actually put them back together again.”
“Sweet, Adele, real sweet. How long have you waited for a sign that I’m falling? Because really, I almost feel bad that I didn’t put in the same effort on your behalf.”
“It’s OK. I mean, you had your mind on other things. Like shagging Pucey.”
I turned around on my heels on this one. We met, nose-to-nose, and how I longed to smack her right around that smug face. Pretty Adele, how I forgot how much I actually hated you. But you didn’t always hate me. On that day that Dumbledore talked of Cedric’s death, he actually spoke and smiled to us. Because she knew that Amy loved Cedric every bit as much as she did. And I then knew how to stoop to her level. But part of me was too scared to even dare mention him. To use him as such a cruel device.
“There are worst things in the world than you, you know?" I almost wanted to add, "I've seen it."
“Oh, have you now? Ripped Harry Potter memorabilia? Or is that not good enough after Oliver's wood?” I almost became completely frozen. I wasn't going to stoop. I couldn't let myself stoop.
"Or are you actually more like your mother?"
And I stooped. “Like Cedric’s cold, dead, body.”
She didn’t walk the rest of the way. My body was shaking, disgusted with myself for playing a card in reaction to such a pathetic stab at me. But I kept strong and, when walking away, shouted, “The queen lives.”
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