Chapter 25 : A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words or in this case Two
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"Want a look" she said in a sweet voice, holding it out to me, "oh and don't bother ripping it or anything, we have plenty of copies" she indicated behind her and I felt sick when I saw Grace and Kurt holding a handful. I glanced down and sure enough I was looking at the picture of Lucas kissing me, only it didn't show me pushing him away, it stopped just as my hands went to his chest, making it look like I was pulling him closer. Then started again.
"Why are you doing this?" I managed to say, tears filling up my eyes, "are you that desperate to hurt me?".
"So everyone knows this," she held up another copy, "is the real Alixia Halliwell, boyfriend stealer, cheater, liar and betrayer".
I bit my lip but couldn't help spit out "This is a pathetic attempt to get James back by the way".
"Oh this isn't all about James," Eve's eyes glowed with triumph still, "this is about revenge".
We stared at each other for a couple of seconds before she smirked at me, "Time for the truth to come out" she grabbed a chair and stood on it, "Everyone, can I please have your attention," her eyes found James and my friends, "especially you James".
"What is this about Eve" James sounded pissed off.
"Oh James, poor sweet James, you really are not going to like what I have to tell you" she leaned down and got all the copies off of Kurt and Grace, I started to panic.
"Eve, please!" I begged, "what good is this going to do?".
Eve put on a face of mock thought and put a finger to her chin, "Hmm, should I or shouldn't I" suddenly before I could do anything she threw all the photos in the air and let them fall, "oopsie, guess I'm going to find out what good it will do huh Alix?".
"Alix, what the hell is goin-" James said behind me, I wheeled around and I felt physically sick as I saw him look down at the photo he had caught in his hand.
"James, please I can explain" I whispered, tears falling down my face. He didn't answer, just continued to look at the repeating image of me kissing one of his best friends, I glanced around, Tia looked pained and Albus was flabbergasted, India and Alfie was staring at disbelief at Eve and then back at the photo and Lucas was sitting still, he looked up at me his eyes full of regret and pain.
"I'm sorry" he mouthed.
I ignored him, all around me, the people in the The Three Broomsticks were talking and pointing with the picture in their hands. Eve was telling anyone who would listen that yes that was James Potter's girlfriend kissing Lucas Brenner his best friend.
"James, please, say something" I was beginning to cry but he didn't pay attention.
"What do you want me to say," he said, looking up at me, his face emotionless and his voice sounded constricted "thanks for cheating on me?".
"But I didn't! I can explain-" I started to say,
"Is that you in the picture?".
"DAMN IT ALIX!" he shouted, "did you kiss Lucas!"
"He kissed me, but I pushed him away," I sobbed.
"Oh yeah because it really seems it," he yelled, pushing the picture in my face, "you really look like your not enjoying it!".
"James, I love you, I would never-"
"Whats next with you Alix hmm?" James said, his anger showing now, "I'm going to find out your married with two kids or something?"
"Don't be stu-"
"DON'T CALL ME STUPID!" he roared, the whole pub went silent. Eve looked victorius, "First you don't like me, then you like me, then you're dating my best friend, and then, then" he laughed cruelly, "I find out your only doing it to make me jealous then when you do something wrong it's my fault, like not telling Rose about Ama and Scorpius, I'm always there for you, but your always pushing me away, keeping secrets, well enough is enough, I'm done with all that".
I felt numb "Wh-what are you saying?".
"I'm saying its over," his voice crumbled at the last bit and I could see how much he was hurting, "have a nice life Halliwell" and with that he pushed by me and out of the pub.
"James!" I shouted, over the loud gasps and gossiping around me, "WAIT!" I tried to push past people but they wouldn't let me by. I felt a pair of arms around my shoulders, it was Tia.
"Come on Alix, let's get you out of here" she said, India appeared next to her.
"Alix, oh my god, are you okay?" her brown eyes were full of concern.
"No," I let the tears fall, soon I had a sopping wet t-shirt, "nothing is okay anymore!".
Albus and Alfie showed up and between them made a reasonable escape route, "Come on people, MOVE!" Albus shouted, "or else you're getting hexed!".
"Or worse" Alfie added, guiding India by the arm.
We mananged to make it outside and behind the Weasley's Joke shop that was previously Zonko's, finally I didn't have anyone pointing or talking about me but all I could see when I closed my eyes was the photo and James saying it's over.
It's over, it's over, it's over.
I began to sob, holding a hand over my mouth, the pain I felt was excruciating. Worse then when I found out about Grandpa Jack, worse then when James and I had argued properly for the first time because this time there would be no cute reunion. It was over, finito. Done.
Tia rubbed my back and India put an arm around my shoulders mumbling words of comfort only they didn't. Nothing felt right, I just wanted to curl up and cry while I died inside. Thats how I felt, Eve had ripped out my heart and stomped on it then James had spit on it. All because of Lucas Brenner.
"I'm going to kill him!" I said, my voice thick because I was still crying "he's ruined my life!".
"Right now, I think we should get you up to the castle," Tia said, she glanced at Albus who nodded.
"I'll go get a carriage," he gave me a half smile, "I'm sorry Alix, I know you didn't cheat picture or no picture". I tried to smile, but tears just leaked out of the corner of my eyes, it was very sweet of Albus to say that and not call me a slut or something but I would rather hear James say that.
"We'd better head," Alfie said, "India?".
She looked up and looked indcredulous "What are you talking about? Alix needs us!".
"We can't exactly go up to the castle, and she needs to go there not stay in Hogsmede" Alfie sighed, "we'll always be there for her, and the holidays are soon right?" he asked Tia who nodded, "and we'll be there for her".
"It's okay" I managed to say, "I'll see you later" India gave me a big hug.
"Your still an amazing girl Alix" she whispered.
Alfie pushed my hair away from my face, "Feel better soon 'cuz" he said softly, he took India's hand and together they apparated out of Hogsmede with a loud crack.
"Why did I even let it get this far with Brenner," I asked softly "fake-dating him brought me no closer to James, or him to Devon, fat lot of help that did".
Tia rubbed my back comfortingly, "Hey, we all make big, mega stupid mistakes," she half smiled, "its what makes being a teenager so annoying".
I sniffed and wiped my eyes with the back of my hand, "Merlin, do I look a mess or what?".
She got her wand out and used it to remove all make-up from my face, "Well, considering what you just went through, I think your allowed to look a little messy", she got up and saw Albus, "get a carriage okay?".
"Yeah, theres one just at the entrance waiting", he offered me a hand, "doing okay there Halliwell?".
I just looked up at him, my eyes red, makeup smudged, hair a mess and my love life a horrific story.
"Yeah, that was a stupid, stupid question".
To my utmost surprise, Rose was completely on my side, I actually think it surprised us all.
"As if you would cheat on James, with Brenner of all people!" she shouted, pacing up and down in the girls dormitory, "bloody Eve Adams, she truly is an evil bitch!"
"Well her name is derived from evil," Ami said, we were all sitting on my bed watching her pace up and down, knowing it wise not to disagree with her while she was like this.
"See girls like Eve and Ama are cut from the same cloth," she continued to rant, she stopped suddenly and pointed at me and I jumped, "you, YOU, Alix Halliwell, are not you are from that cloth, you are from the decent cloth, the cloth that covers our modesty. You would not do this to my cousin".
"I know Rose, I know" I shook my head, "but try telling James that". We had all tried, after Quidditch training I had waited outside for James but he just marched right by me without a look, laughing at a joke of Matt's, and I had headed back up to the castle with Devon with tears in my eyes. Ami tried, and failed, Tia tried and failed and so did everyone else.
Nothing was working.
"Matt's been trying to talk to James," Ami said, "but he's just not talking about it".
"He does that," Rose muttered, "has to be 'Mr Happy' at all times, never talks about his feelings".
I nodded absently, I noticed that everytime we talked about feelings, James's answer would always be 'feeling great' never anything in depth, I know that he is a guy but come on, you have to give more than "feeling great".
No one is 'great' everyday, especially not a teenager.
"So how you holding up?" Devon asked, nudging me, "you feeling okay?".
I shrugged, "After everything this year, I just feel ... tired" I sighed and rubbed my head, "with James, Lucas, Grandpa Jack, Mum and Dad, I don't know what to do anymore".
We heard the door open and Tia walked in, cheeks rosy from the outside and tinged red from the boyfriend. I felt my throat tighten, I usually never was the jealous type but right now I was envious of Tia's perfect relationship.
"Hey, how are you?" she asked coming over and sitting next to me.
I shook my head, getting rid of the horrible feelings I had, and half smiled, "Don't ask", she tutted and hugged me tightly, I hung onto her. Comforted by her lavendar smell and calming prescence, she always managed to make me feel better whatever the situation.
"So," Rose stood in front of me, taking in my limp hair, the dark circles under my eyes and the redness in them, "I have a plan, to make you and James get back together, but firstly, we're going to have to get the original photo from Adams".
"How we going to do that?" Devon asked, eyebrow raised, "I mean she's in a different house completely".
"Plus, we have no idea if shes got rid of it" Ami added.
"Stay positive guys" Tia chipped in.
"Look, we have to try, the original will show Alix pushing him away and slapping him, proving she wasn't cheating," she said, "and that should show James that Eve is just a canniving cow, angry he dumped her for you, Alix".
I looked at the others, Devon looked interested, Ami was looking unsure and Tia looked calm as always and Rose looked calculating, weighing the odds.
"Whats the plan?"
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