Chapter 5 : Winter Days
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"Yeah, yeah" I said as I threw the covers off and got out of bed.
"You go down and get started while I change." I watched her high-tail it to the door. "Just save some for me!" I yelled after her, shaking my head.
I performed my morning routine, brush my teeth, get dressed, put on some makeup, and headed downstairs.
Jacqui was stuffing her face with bagels when I walked into the kitchen.
"Easy there tiger! Don't want to have you weigh ten tons by the end of breakfast." She looked at me as she took a very aggressive bite out of her bagel before continuing to eat. I rolled my eyes and smiled at her before grabbing my own bagel and smothering it with cream cheese.
"I know! We can go down to the stream and take photos! I need some of us before I have to go back home," Jacqui said.
I thought it was a great idea and agreed. We grabbed our cameras and ran down the stairs. My parents were sitting in the living room as we passed and my dad stopped us.
"What are you two up to?" he asked with a half-smile on his face and his eyebrows raisedin a questioning way.
"Jacqui and I are going to go take pictures down by the stream," I said as I leaned around the side of the doorway.
"Alright," he said with a wave of his hand as he picked his newspaper back up.
As we trekked across my yard towards the trees that surrounded the section of the stream that ran across our property, Jacqueline and I talked about what we'd do before she had to leave.
"Well, my dad says we're leaving in about a week," she said with a sigh. Her dad was also staying with my family but he'd left early this morning to go to the Ministry.
"Hmm." I considered the options before us.
"What about Diagon Alley? I've heard lots about it" Jacqui said.
"Well....a lot of shops have been closing down recently because of You-Know-Who...." Just then I realized how detached from the real world I'd been since Jacqueline had arrived. The very real and pressing threat of the Dark Lord had seemed to vanish in my seemingly perfect world, reunited with my best friend.
"Eh, so what. As long as there are shops still standing, there's shopping to be done!" Jacqui said.
It was a couple minutes later that we arrived at the stream. It had become an even prettier sight with the recent snowfall. It had snowed a little more last night and the fresh snow blanketed the riverbanks. Chunks of ice were flowing down the stream, catching on the rocks only to be dislodged seconds later to continue downstream. I heard the clicking of Jacqui's camera as she snapped different shots.
"Lacey" she said and as I turned my heard towards her she snapped my picture.
"Gorgeous," she said with a smile. I did a half smile of my own and shook my head as I tried to cross the stream. I jumped off the bank and landed on a semi-flat rock. I took a large, tentative step forward onto another and then another and was then in the middle.
I turned to Jacqui with a big, cheesy grin on my face and she snapped another picture of me.
I took my camera out of my pocket and slipped the wrist strap on so it wouldn't fall into the water. I turned a little on the rock I was standing on to face the trees. They looked so fragile and beautiful with thin icicles hanging down off their frosted branches. I adjusted the lens before positioning it just right before I snapped a picture. It turned out really well; a shot of the iced tree branches with the sun shining in behind it.
I smiled to myself and looked over my shoulder to find Jacqui.
"Come here" she said, motioning me over to where she stood on the side of the bank.
"Hold on a sec," I said. "Now, strike a pose!" She turned to the side and spread her arms out, one up, one down and smiled.
I took the shot and finished crossing back over the stream.
As I came up next to her she brought her head beside mine and took a shot of the both of us standing in the snow. We were wearing snow hats, the kind with ear flaps and little pompoms hanging down to tie under your chin. I must say it was a quite a cute picture.
We stayed outside for another twenty minutes before Jacqui slipped on a rock and fell into the water, soaking her entire front.
That poor girl. By the time we got back inside I thought she'd contracted hypothermia by the way she was shaking. We changed into warmer, comfier clothes and Jacqui bundled up in blankets. The house elves brought us hot cocoa with marshmallows and whipped cream. We sat in the living room with my parents, next to the blazing fire.
"So girls," my mom started, "what are you going to do tomorrow?" She was smiling at us from over the top of her newspaper.
I grinned at Jacqui and said, "Taking a short trip to Diagon Alley."
"Afternoon," I greeted the skinny woman at the counter.
She had on a thin pair of spectacles that made her eyes look wide and very narrow.
''What's in the Nettle Tea?" Jacqui asked.
"The leaves of a stinging nettle are ground up and the juice is then mixed with a ginger spice," the lady answered. She had a lisp that made her very hard to understand, and her bottom lip stuck out when she spoke.
"Hmm...No, I'll just stick with a jasmine herb."
Jacqui gave me money to pay for her tea and took my bags to go get a table. I glanced over the menu on the wall once more and was about to order when the bell above the door rang as someone walked into the shop.
Now I don't know why I turned around, maybe because that's what most people do as a reflex when they hear someone new enter a room, but I glanced over my shoulder to see who'd come in. My whole being seemed to fling at the person standing by the door, clinging to him for dear life. My breathing hitched and I thought I was going to suffocate from lack of oxygen.
I thought I was getting better, as my memories were starting to haunt me less and less each day with Jacqueline around to take my mind off things, but when my eyes met Draco's everything seemed to hit me at one thousand miles per hour. I couldn't take my eyes off him to turn back to the cashier and finish ordering as I was afraid that if I looked away, he wouldn't be there when I looked back.
Every detail, every line of his face surpassed the image of him my subconscious mind had held on to. I felt that the hole he had made when he left me ripping my heart apart until there was nothing left. I recalled the way he'd set me on fire when he kissed me. Now it seemed that that fire was devouring the shreds of my heart until there was nothing left but empty space in my chest where it used to be. His face was a blank pallet. His eyes gave away nothing but were cold and impassive. Didn't he feel anything? Shock, to come into this tea house and see me standing at the register? Regret, for leaving me so empty and torn? Or any pain at all, to match the loss I've felt for him?
"Lacey," I barely heard Jacqui calling me.
For a second after she spoke, after he heard my name, his eyes mirrored all the hurt and betrayal I felt. He glanced down and I turned back around to the squinty-eyed lady, released. My voice rattled like metal in the back of a truck bed on a bumpy road as I spoke.
"I'll just have a small white tea."
I gave her the money and as she went to prepare our orders, and after she turned away I leaned against the counter and looked back over my shoulder. Draco wasn't there. I turned farther around and saw the back of his head disappear as he passed the end of the Parlor window. A thought of going after him entered my mind, but was shortly out again. He didn't feel anything for me anymore. He made that clear the night he detroyed anything good, and wholesome, and perfect we once had. I grabbed our teas and went to sit with Jacqui.
As I set our drinks down and pulled out my chair I stood with my hand on top of its back, looking at the edge of the table for a minute.
Jacqui said my name again, this time to question if I was alright.
"Yeah, yeah," I answered quietly, trying to focus. "I'm fine."
I gave her a simple smile, pulled out my chair and sat down. If the intensity of one's gaze was enough to cause spontaneous combustion, that sugar shaker would have been burnt to ash by now.
"Lacey are you okay?"
I released the shaker from my stare and looked up to meet Jacqui's eyes.
"What happened just a second ago? Are you feeling alright? You look really pale."
I looked away for a minute before answering in a small voice, "That was Draco."
Her face showed confusion for a moment before clarity dawned on her.
"That man you just had the face-off with? That was him?"
"Yes," I whispered. "Whatever, can we talk about something else?"
Jacqui was unsure what to do. She took a sip of her tea and then reached out to grab my hand with a small smile.
I couldn't meet her eyes and instead stared out the window at the street as a light snow began to fall.
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