Chapter 11 : Seventh Year, Part Three
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She pulls the curtain closed around her, and inhales deeply. The sobs stop once again, but the tears continue rolling. She tries to breath in as much of his remaining scent as possible, tries to hold on to at least part of him, as even now he walks further out of her life.
Maybe she should have followed him. Perhaps if she had, he’d have come back with her, and they could make up, and make love, and cuddle, and never leave the bed for the rest of their lives. But she couldn’t. The look on his face had frozen her. He had meant every word he said to her. He can’t do this anymore. He can’t. And, as much as she wants to, she can’t force him to.
These thoughts haunt her as she cries herself to sleep.
He was not angry when he left. Really, as he closed the door to his relationship with Lily, and as he descended the stairs, he could not have mustered an angry thought toward her if he had wanted too. Even for the rest of the day, the only thing he felt was regret.
The sentiment changes quickly. The next day, he wakes up to find that annoyance has crept in during the night. Why did she drive him to this? They can be happy together, he is sure of this. Or he was, anyway. He is not sure of anything at this point.
His annoyance builds at breakfast. Perhaps he is expecting her to throw herself at him in the Great Hall, to somehow declare her love for him in a public fashion, because he wants her to want this to work as desperately as he does. But she doesn’t. He knows better than to actually expect this of her, but he never imagines her inaction will bother him so greatly.
At lunch, it actually becomes anger. She is there, which is understandable, because even in the midst of misery, one must eat. But she is not just eating. She is smiling. And laughing. And chatting with her friends as if nothing has happened at all. Doesn’t he mean anything to her? Does this not affect her at all? It pushes his annoyance over the edge and turns it into legitimate anger.
From then, every single moment that passes adds to it. When he sees her, it increases exponentially.
By the end of the week, he is positively furious.
She wakes early the next morning. The first thing in her head is a desperate hope that she has only had a terrible, terrible dream. The faint smell of James again creeping into her nostrils and the dampness of her pillow remind her that the previous nights events were, in fact, real.
The tears, which had stopped in the night, return with a vengeance. This time, though she is prepared, and is able to conquer them shortly.
Before she gets out of bed, she takes a deep breath. She takes all of the misery she is feeling, and pushes it down inside of her. She puts on the happy face she has perfected over the years. No one will guess that she is not the same happy Lily they are used to seeing. No one, except perhaps for James, will notice that anything is wrong. The mask will not slip once. Not until she is back in the privacy of her own bed, will she allow the tears to fall.
For Lily, breakfast is arduous. All of her roommates are still sleeping, so she goes alone. She does not expect him to be there; he himself is an early riser, but his friends are not and he rarely leaves their side. Nonetheless, she is relieved when she walks into the Great Hall to find it nearly empty. No sign of James anywhere.
She sits by herself, and begins to gently place food on her plate. As she is spreading marmalade on her toast, an owl drops The Daily Prophet in front of her. She has not read the paper in a while, it seems that she always has something more important to do. Today though, she does not, so she unrolls the news and begins reading.
The news is terrible. She knows there is a war going on, that people like Severus and his friends want to hurt people like her. She knows that their leader, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, is quite powerful. She knows there have been attacks on Muggles and Muggleborns, just because of their parentage. She had almost mail ordered her supplies for the year due to freight.
But all of that knowledge did not prepare her for the stories within the newspaper. Muggles tortured. Aurors dead. Destruction, chaos, the Dark Mark. She had known that all of this was happening, but a lack of attacks on students families, and her occupied mind have put it out of her head. The paper brings her disturbingly back to reality; it absorbs and terrifies her.
A growl from her stomach breaks her concentration and reminds her to eat something. She finishes the food on her plate silently. The Hall has filled substantially by this point, and she feels a pair of eyes on her. She does not need to look to know who it is. Using all of her will power, she is able to keep her gaze away from him, from begging him with her eyes to please, please just come back to her. It takes most of the strength she has summoned before coming. As soon as the last morsel on her plate enters her mouth, she picks up her paper, and flees back to her dormitory.
Lunch is easier. Her roommates are awake, and so she goes with them. She has mostly regained her composure, and is prepared when she sees him as they are walking in. Again, with a great deal of strength, she is able to avoid eye contact.
She purposefully sits so that he is not in her view. Her friends laugh at her abruptness; she makes a joke to cover it. Her remark ignites banter from the other girls, and before she realizes it, Lily is joining in, and together they are joyfully chatting over a meal. It is a brief and wonderful break from the trials she is facing.
All too soon, they are done, and make their way back to their dorm. James is still there and it catches her by surprise. Without meaning to, she makes eye contact with him. It is an eternity in an instant.
Out of necessity, she avoids him for the rest of the day.
When night falls, she readies herself for bed, pulls the curtains closed, and once again, cries herself to sleep.
The rest of the week passes in a similar routine. It is a familiar one; she has perfected it numerous times. Wake up, avoid James. This time however, there is an addition. As the day draws to a close, she hides in her bed, and cries.
There is a quidditch match this weekend. Gryffindor is not playing, but Slytherin is, and James, as a team captain and avid Slytherin hater, is in attendance. Besides, he has friends on the Ravenclaw team, and will play them during their next match. He served a dual role, as supporter and spy.
The match is dull, and does not provide the distraction that James has hoped for. As much as he hates to admit it, Slytherin is obviously the better team, although the Ravenclaw team is rather young. Slytherin is up by one hundred forty when the Ravenclaw seeker, a rather small girl named Clinton secures a victory by catching the snitch.
James takes his time leaving the pitch. It provides him with a sanctuary, a break from the anger that is consuming him. By the time he finally leaves, it is empty.
He walks toward the castle alone, but as he is not ten yards away, a loud sound from behind him catches his attention. He turns, wand drawn, expecting to see an angry Slytherin player. Instead, he is greeted by the frustrated but friendly Ravenclaw captain.
“Goodness, Potter, what are you going to do, hex me?” She jokes.
He puts his wand away, “Sorry, Hirt. I was expecting a Slytherin.”
“Merlin, you don’t think they’re still here? I’d rather not face them if I can help it.” She begins walking, and James joins her.
“Nah,” he shrugs, “They’ve probably all gone to write their fathers about the injustice of it all.”
She rolls her eyes, “And for once, I wouldn’t blame them.”
“Why’s that? You one fair and square.”
“But they deserved it. We won on a cheap catch.”
“The catch was not cheap. It was just lucky timing.”
“A win’s a win.”
“It’s not the same. It’d be nice to get something because we deserve it, you know?”
“You can’t think like that, Nina. If you won, it’s because you deserved it.”
She rolls her eyes again. “Fine, but for the record, you wasted your time spying today.”
He drops his jaw in mock offense, and clutches a hand to his chest. “That hurts, Hirt!” Her gaze narrows on him, he knows that she hates the association, “I did not come to spy. I came to support a dear friend.”
She raises her eyebrows. “A dear friend you haven’t talked to all year.”
“Well it’s not my fault you dropped the one class we had together.”
“Are you really still taking Care of Magical Creatures?”
“Yes, in fact I am.” She chuckles at him, “What? It’s a good class!”
The two continue their banter until they reach the castle, and even then walk with each other until their paths must split.
“Well, James,” Nina says, “It was lovely catching up with you.” She smiles, “Maybe we should do it again sometime.”
“Indeed.” He says, he knows what she’s doing. In another life, he might have played along, as it is, he can’t possibly date someone else. “We should.” It is only his manners speaking. He notices her smile fade slightly. “Have fun at your victory party!”
She scoffs playfully, “Thanks. See you around then.” She turns and begins to walk away.
James notices that he is in the same hallway as the classroom where he and Lily had spent so much time. The anger that the quidditch match and conversation with an old friend had pushed aside rose again, and James is struck with an idea. Why shouldn’t he? There is absolutely no reason he can’t. Nina is perfectly nice, and quite pretty, and always fun. She obviously isn’t embarrassed by him.
She is nearing the end of the corridor. He yells out her name and walks toward her. She stops and helps close the gap between them.
“How about we catch up again sometime this week?” he asks.
She smiles, “I can do that.”
“Is Wednesday night around eight good for you?”
“Cutting it rather close to curfew, isn’t it?” He clucks his tongue and points to the HB pin on his robes. She chuckles, “Right, Wednesday at eight sounds great.”
“Great, now go enjoy your victory party,” he commands.
“Bye, James.” And again, she turns to walk away.
James walks past their classroom, and kicks the door as hard as he can.
AN: Short, yes. But no worries! The next chapter will be up soon!
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