"Don't lie and say that it's OK. It's alright here, there's nothing more to say.So I'm running away. I'm leaving this place. Yeah, I'm running away.I'm running away."
Running Away - Midnight Hour
“Can I get anything else for you miss?” Minky asked timidly after placing food in front of me. Like always, I shook my head and started the task of pushing food around my plate.
Being invisible was easier. You didn’t have to pretend to be okay when people asked how you were doing (simply because they never did ask). I was content not being seen. Okay, so sometimes I wished it were different, but it hurt less. Adjusted; I had adjusted to being the proverbial wall flower and walking invisible girl. I could deal with my grief without being afraid of who was watching me. Now I felt like that’s all people did: see me.
After the funeral, I hadn’t spoken two words to James or the rest of his family. I had made a habit of not eating in the Great Hall, and when I did it was at the Ravenclaw table. When I entered the Great Hall, I scanned the Ravenclaw table (James, Fred, Lily, Rose and even Scorpius had taken to sitting at the Ravenclaw table, waiting for me), and if I saw anyone looking for me I left. I never took the most used routes to get to class and avoided the floor that held the entrance to the Gryffindor common room.
I was running toward invisibility as if it were a long lost friend with everything I had. Too much had changed. Like a lost and helpless child I was clinging to what had always been there. Not being seen was something I could emotionally breakdown and understand.
I shoved the food in front of me around on my plate. Eying the neatly cut pieces of steak, I contemplated whether or not I should actually eat something. I hadn’t been hungry for 2 weeks. My robes were loose on me- I knew I had lost weight, but I couldn’t bring myself to care.
The sound of the kitchen door crashing open made me jump. I looked up, and instantly regretted it. James was walking straight towards me, an old piece of parchment in hand.
“I’ve had enough of this Lexie. I’m not going to let you alienate yourself from everyone that cares about you. You’re not eating, not sleeping and bloody well not doing well in class.”
I didn’t say anything. I just sat there. Maybe if I didn’t retaliate, he’d give up and leave. James remained standing in front of me, a frustrated expression on his face. I looked at him for the first time in days. His eyes were framed with dark circles. He looked terrible, and I knew I was to blame.
“This is enough Lexie. We all care about you. I care about you and I refuse to let you waste away. Do you think that’s what your mum wanted? Jesus Christ Lexie, she gave up her life so you could have yours back!” James said in frustration, I could tell he was close to tears. His words stung. I hadn’t allowed myself to think about mum since the funeral.
“Stop,” I whispered.
“No Lexie. You stop.”
All of my pent up frustrations, fears and agony surged to the surface.
“THATS WHAT I’M TRYING TO DO! WHY WON’T YOU LET ME!!!” I screamed, tears streaming down my face. “You don’t understand! My mum is dead. If it weren’t for me, she’d still be fighting. I don’t deserve to be here, she does. I’m the one that drove my dad away. I’m the one that belongs to a different world that was incapable of saving her. I’m the one to blame. I’m the one that should’ve been in that casket. She was everything to me! I’ve lost everything!” I choked through sobs. I covered my mouth with my hand and folded into myself, shoulders shaking.
The silence that followed was thick and suffocating.
“Lexie, it’s not your fault,” James said, his voice like a sharp knife cutting through the oppressing silence. I shook my head.
“Lex, she loved you,” he said, his voice thick with tears. I looked up in surprise. James Sirius Potter was crying. Crying for me. “Don’t you dare blame yourself Lexie, you deserve every kindness that you receive. You’re dad didn’t leave because of you. You’ve made the world you belong to better because of your existence,” James said again, his voice still thick with emotion. He placed his hands on the kitchen counter and swallowed several times. Finally he looked up again and said, “and I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I lost you.”
Still crying, I shook my head, tears streaming down my face. In three quick strides James reached me and collected me in his arms.
“Lexie, you haven’t lost everything.”
After that no words were spoken. James let me release my pent up tears. After I had calmed down, he pulled away and guided me to a kitchen bar stool. A cup of steaming hot tea appeared in front of me.
“You are coming home with me and spending Christmas with my family. No arguments.”
It was the start of Christmas holiday’s tomorrow?
“Christmas Holidays start tomorrow?” I asked, voicing my thoughts. My voice was raspy from lack of use. I grimaced. James seemed taken aback by my question, and sat next to me.
“Do you not even know what day it is?” he asked. I looked at him, conscious of my bloodshot eyes and shrugged.
“Lexie,” James sighed. I bit my lip to barricade the tears that I knew were coming. I thought I was out of tears. Wordlessly, James gathered me in a familiar hug again. I pulled away- furious.
“See, this is why I can’t do this. All I do is cry and I’m sick of tired of everyone watching and waiting for me to crack. My mum died, yes and it’s awful. I’m fine. Stop treating me like this breakable china.” My logical brain knew I was wrong. But my conscience wouldn’t allow me to burden the Potter family during a holiday meant for families. I wasn’t going to be festive, I was a walking time bomb and a wreck. If it meant I had to push James away so he could be happy, I’d do it.
“Why is it that you think it’s your personal responsibility to take on the world by yourself?” James asked in disbelief, shaking his head.
“BECAUSE I’VE BEEN DOING IT ALL MY LIFE! BEFORE THAT DAY ON THE TRAIN YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW MY NAME! I DID FINE BEFORE YOU CAME ALONG!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
“Lexie, you aren’t doing fine. You haven’t eaten, you’ve lost weight and you’re not sleeping.”
“SO, YOU JUST WANT ME TO PRETEND THAT MY MUM DIDN’T JUST DIE? PRETEND THAT EVERYTHING IS FINE? WHEN SOMEONE IMPORTANT DIES, SOMEONE SHOULD NOTICE!” I half screamed half sobbed.
“I didn’t say that Lex,” James said, tears pooling in his eyes.
“THEN WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY? WHY WON’T YOU FIGHT BACK?” I said as I started to punch James’s chest. James let me hit him until I was too spent to hold myself up and together. This time, when he collected me in a tight hug I didn’t fight it. My cries filled the entire kitchen.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Any of it.”
“I know Lex. It’s okay,” James whispered into my hair.
“Did I hurt you?” I asked cautiously.
“No offence Lex, but your punches suck.”
I laughed softly, stopping abruptly.
“It’s okay to be happy Lex. It’s what your mum would’ve wanted. She wouldn’t want you to change who you are.”
“I don’t know who I am anymore,” I confessed in a whisper.
“That’s why I’m here to remind you,” James replied.
We pulled apart a short while later, James sitting in the stool beside me.
“Now, do I have to start force feeding you or are you going to eat of your own free will?” James asked, picking up a fork to prove his point. I snatched it from him and speared a small piece of steak, struggling to bite back the nauseous feeling I got at the sight of food.
I chewed and swallowed the first bite of food quickly and repeated the action several times before James was satisfied that I had eaten enough.
In that moment, sitting in the kitchen together I knew without a doubt that mum was right. I loved James Potter with everything I had. Despite the fact that we hadn’t talked in weeks- being around him again and talking to him, I felt more comfortable that I ever had before. He was the one person I could count on. Even though I tried to leave him, he refused to let me leave. James wouldn’t let me become invisible again. I was important to him, and he to me.
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