Chapter 16 : Stay Beautiful
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Three days had passed since The Kiss and in that time, I had been the talk of the school for all of ten seconds. It seems that no one’s that bothered really. Something along the lines of ‘We knew it all along’. This was clearly a total lie, but whatever. So I floated around for a couple of days in a blissful bubble, so sickeningly happy I’m sure everyone was sick of the dazed smile that had affixed itself to my face.
“You know, I still can’t get my head around it.” Rose said one evening in the common room. It was getting late, so we had the place largely to ourselves but for a small group of younger years in the far corner.
“Around what?” I asked absently, not looking up from the Patronus theory I was reading. We’d received intelligence that we were going to start looking at them in Defence and I didn’t want everyone to look at me like I belonged in the O.W.L. re-sit class.
“Around what? Around that great big snog you planted on my cousin!” She said gleefully. I snorted; surprised she was still dining out on the story.
“I know;” I said drily, “Talk of the town.” She laughed, leaning back.
“Have you seen Demeter recently?” she wanted to know. I shook my head.
“Oh I’m avoiding her.” I said casually. Having a boyfriend with an intimate knowledge of the castles secret passages did come in handy from time to time. Rose chuckled.
“Well she’s avoiding me, I think. She’s been disappearing from the dormitory before I get up and waiting until I get into bed to come back.” I laughed at that. Rosie would have a hard time hurting a fly, let alone the Dementor.
“What a pansy.” I said, “I hope Lillers isn’t too annoyed.”
“I don’t think she is. Not really.” Rose said comfortingly, “Peter Creevey broke up with his girlfriend, so she’s got herself a nice distraction.” I laughed. I felt slightly guilty for doing the exact thing she had said she’d hate me for, but then again. It was easy to forget the feeling when I was wrapped up in James. And of course, there was the hypocrisy in all of this, how she had been the one to put me up to stealing James from Demeter and so she had no right to be annoyed for something that she had wanted.
Ugh, my head hurts.
“So, you and The Malfoy.” I said, changing the topic and waggling my eyebrows suggestively. She flushed and flapped her hand at me to get me to stop.
“So me and the Malfoy nothing!” she said and when I pressed her for more details, she sighed and conceded, “I told him I wanted to be friends for a while, only because I’d like my family to get their heads around that first.”
I sighed. Malfoy, from the minimal contact I’d had with him over the years, probably hadn’t taken that very well. I didn’t say that though. Rose would do what she thought she needed to do to make the whole thing easier on her family.
The silence in the commons was disrupted when a group of three entered through the portrait hole, making a lot of noise. I felt annoyed with them for disturbing my peace and quiet, and instantly felt like a grandma.
“Honestly, it was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen!” Becky was saying, fighting back what appeared to be hysterical laughter, “She had a beak! An actual beak instead of a nose and mouth!” she broke off, laughing.
“I wish you had a camera,” Bludgers said, wiping tears of mirth from his face.
“I’d pay money to see that.” Splinters agreed, and turning away from his friends, he noticed me and Rose and stopped. Becky noticed what he was looking at and tugged his sleeve, leading him away.
I slumped back in my chair. Rose shot me a pitying look.
I hadn’t even thought about Splinters. I felt bad about that because it was still an issue, obviously, and I hadn’t even stopped to consider whether he had any feelings.
Wow that sounded a lot worse than I meant it to.
Anyway, I didn’t see James that evening. I wasn’t entirely sure where he was. That didn’t bother me as much as I felt it should have but regardless. I assumed he was on the Quidditch pitch, where I presumed the three sixth years had come from. I went to bed not long after Splinters and his bizarre reaction. It was nice that Rose was pleased, and that Albus, with a somewhat uncomfortable expression on his face, had given me what I had decided to take as an encouraging smile.
He had basically disappeared from my life now that I was in a proper relationship with his big brother. Maybe it made him uncomfortable, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to think about it too much because I did want to be able to sleep that night and I didn’t really, as awful as it sounds, have the energy to care.
The next day I saw James at breakfast. He looked very tired, with great purple circles under his eyes. He smiled blearily at me when I slid into the seat opposite him in the largely empty Great Hall.
“What happened to you?” I asked, biting into a slice of toast. He looked like death, and I itched to give him a cuddle.
“Quidditch.” He said, by way of explanation. Even his voice sounded worn out. I fought the urge to roll my eyes, forcing myself to play the role of supportive girlfriend.
“You just beat Hufflepuff!” I said, “You deserve a break.” He raised an eyebrow at me before he answered.
“No rest for the wicked.” He said resignedly, sipping from his goblet.
“The wicked, eh?” I laughed, knowing I wouldn’t be able to change his mind. He smiled.
James grimaced at Rose’s loud singsong voice. Blooming morning people.
“Morning voices.” He croaked, “Please!”
She cracked him a great big grin, sliding into her seat with the grace that I had never managed to achieve with these ridiculous benches.
“You look happy this morning.” I said, as Albus trailed in after her, slumping, rather than sliding into his seat. He gave me a look and gestured at little miss sunshine.
I couldn’t help but smile back at him. Over by the doors I could see Lily and her stalker Ollie having a rather one sided conversation as she tried to escape. William Bedwin, prefect partner extraordinaire was staring stony faced at his porridge just a few seats away. I made a mental note to ask him about patrolling. We seventh years had been given an easy time this year so far. Or it could just be that I’d completely forgotten about it all amongst the boy drama that had enveloped my life.
“Excuse me,” came a snotty voice to my left. I turned and saw Louisa Vane, sister of the Dementor holding a letter in her hand.
“Yes?” I asked her flatly, folding my arms.
“This landed in front of me. I think you need to see to your owl. He’s obviously senile.” She said, looking down her nose at me. I gave her a fake smile and tugged the letter away from her roughly, inadvertently tearing the edge of the envelope. From the tear, something yellow seeped and the smell of petrol filled the air. Louisa shrieked, jumping backwards, wiping her hand with her sleeve where the stuff had touched her skin with a horrified expression on her face.
“That looks like Bubotuber puss to me.” Albus said drily, leaning over to see the letter that now lay on the floor behind us. The first year looked up at us with wide eyes filled with tears, holding out her hand that had turned bright red, the swelling beginning.
Rose rolled her eyes, and stood up. I noticed Professor McGonagall’s eyes flit in our direction.
“Come on.” She said, “You need to go to the Hospital Wing. Now.”
I felt a twinge of sympathy for Louisa. If it had been her sister inflicted with a nasty set of boils I might have felt nothing whatsoever for her, but she was just a first year, obviously under her sister’s influence.
“Where’s Louisa going?” Little Roxy Weasley asked, watching her classmate leave the Great Hall behind Rose.
“She got Bubotuber puss on her.” James said, frowning.
I looked at the envelope, and scrawled on it in loopy script was my name.
So, what? Someone was sending me Bubotuber puss now? Wasn’t that a little…excessive?
“What’s going on here?”
Professor McGonagall on the case.
I ended up nearly missing Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor McGonagall seemed to think that the morning’s incident was a serious breach of safety. That felt like a marked overreaction but I didn’t have the guts to say anything.
“This is a serious matter.” She kept saying, in that delightful Scottish accent of hers, “Someone could have been seriously hurt. The Vane girl only got a small amount on her skin thank goodness, but it could have been worse.”
“I’m sure it was only a prank,” I said, trying to be reassuring.
“A very stupid prank, played by a very ignorant person.” She sniffed, clearly in disagreement.
“Yes professor,” I said.
“If you have any idea who could be responsible, then I’d ask that you tell me.” She said, and I got the impression that it definitely wasn’t a suggestion. I could think of one person. Demeter had motive, she had the means (sort of) and she had the tiny brain required to think that it was a good idea to send your little sister to do your dirty work for you.
I shook my head. I wanted to be certain.
When I descended the moving staircase after she had set me free – albeit begrudgingly – I ran into George Hornby and Tom Chiswick, two of the boys James shared his dormitory with. They were dawdling down the corridor at a snail pace.
“On your way to Defence?” Tom asked. I nodded, falling into step next to George. I didn’t really know them very well. I knew David Bleach better, but barely. They were James’ friends and I knew that they had as hard a time as I had adjusting to Demeter’s presence.
“I heard you replaced Vane.” George said, eyes twinkling mischievously. I laughed.
“Who hasn’t?” I replied weakly. Tom snorted.
“Excellent point.” Tom added, waiting for the stairs to arrive at our landing.
“Have to say, I’m dead pleased. We were growing tired of ‘Jamsey” George said, screwing up his face at Demeter’s nickname for James. I laughed, stepping onto the stairs before they could move away again.
“I’m glad Jamsey is gone too. Hopefully forever.” I said.
“What is it we’re doing today?” Tom asked, “In Defence, I mean.”
“Isn’t it Patronuses?” George asked, pausing at the bottom of the stairs for us to catch up.
“Patroni, isn’t it?” Tom replied, confusion in his expression.
“We’re learning how to actually cast a proper Patronus.” I said, “Professor Penelope said that last week.” We turned the corner onto the Defence corridor.
“Oh come on Chaz,” George said, avoiding my attempt at a light slap on the arm, “do you think we actually listen?”
We entered the room just as Professor Penelope began to talk. He gave the three of us a look of what felt like judgement and paused to let us sit down. I took my seat next to James, giving him a look of ‘I’ll fill you in later’.
“Okay.” The professor said, “As I’m sure you are all aware, today we continue with our work on the Patronus. Many of you have been getting good results as of late and I want to see that continuing.”
I could practically feel James deflate next to me. He was clearly dreading the moment when he failed to produce his Patronus.
“Alright, back into pairs and get on with it.”
James spun in his seat reluctantly. I gave him a smile, as reassuring as I could muster and stood up.
“Come on.” I said, holding out my hands for him to take. He lifted his arms with what looked like great effort and took them. I pulled him upright and amid the beginning of what was sure to be a class of utter chaos, said with a grin, “Let’s get to it.”
Alright, I know it's been over a year and a half since I last posted a chapter and for that I cannot apologise enough. My life just got away from me, and in that time I've left school, left home and started University. I've been working on this for months, and I haven't been eager to post it because of how long it's been. Vicious circle and all that.
I really appreciate any CC you might have for me, especially since I haven't written in such a long time. I hope this is up to standard and I thank you very much for reading!!
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