Chapter 5 : And You Saved Me
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Warning: This chapter deals with topics that contains slash (a same sex pairing). Overall, I think, maybe, you could skip this if you insist but it would eventually potentially lead to you being a little lost in a plot point later on if you really do not want to read. It is not graphic in the slightest so please, do, read!
I shouldn’t have seen what I had seen the night before, I shouldn’t have run from it either but what was I supposed to do? Stand there and wait for either of them to splutter out an explanation, a bribe, something.
I didn’t have a problem with homosexuality. I believed that love was love, no matter who it was between and that no one had the right to tell anyone who or how to love. It was personal and it didn’t matter whether you were heterosexual or homosexual, two people should be allowed to do whatever they wanted without forcing it on anyone else. Sure, I didn’t want to see to guys walking around with their tongues down each other’s faces every few seconds but I didn’t want to see that from anyone.
If I ever did that, I would give Eloise Cross the right to personally murder me in any way she should think. Even if it meant being drawn and quartered.
My body had responded to the weekend a few days late as I rolled out of bed about ten minutes before I was due in my first class of the day – even though Flitwick wouldn’t give a damn if I was late, it meant not handing in my homework which meant a solid T. I skipped the shower, knowing that I’d one last night before I had gone to bed, and instead attempted to make myself look half presentable. A swipe of bronzer here, a touch of mascara there.
I was interrupted by a taping at my window, a school owl stood perched on the window ledge, watching me with two beady eyes. I was the only girl left in the room so it was obviously for me – I couldn’t even begin to think who had sent it. My father hadn’t owled me since I arrived and going with his track record last year, I wouldn’t get an owl until at least November, asking if I’d be coming home for Christmas. It was only the third week in September so it certainly wasn’t him. It wasn’t Shane, his owl being paler in color, and that would be where my list of people who cared for me out of the school stopped.
I opened the window carefully, a smile reaching my face when I saw that it was a simple letter – no howler involved. Thank Merlin.
Please don’t tell.
I smiled, flipping over the parchment and reaching in my bag for a quill.
I wouldn’t dream of it.
I personally believed that if it was a secret, and it wasn’t yours, you had absolutely no rights to tell anyone anything - especially something as important as your sexual orientation.
I sent the owl on its way before I grabbed my bag and headed out of my dormitory, school uniform on, though slightly ruffled, and makeup half-way decent.
It could’ve been worse in five minutes. I slid down the banisters, avoiding crashing into anyone as I tried my hardest to get to the third floor. I had vowed as of last night that secret passageways may not be the best way to get around Hogwarts – they were secret for a reason.
I slid down the charms hallway, my shoes carrying me a little further than I wanted to go. Smoothing my skirt, I pushed open the hard-wood door, my head high.
“I’m sorry I am late, Professor,” I smiled at him as I handed him my essay from my bag. This would probably be where someone, namely Eloise Cross, would throw in a little eye-lash batting but that wasn’t really my style. I think ‘classy’ is more me.
“Only by a minute, dear,” the little Professor spoke kindly, “take a seat.”
I smiled, before jogging to my seat and sitting down.
“Way to be late, kiddo,” Stevie said from behind me, a grin on his face.
“Ten minutes to get ready and down here. I think I did pretty well.”
“Not bad, not bad,” Stevie smiled, squeezing my hand, as he turned to listen to the darling Professor Flitwick.
I followed suit, pulling out my charms text book as most of the class had theirs out. Everyone, in fact, except for Sirius Black. I couldn’t say I was surprised. Black, despite being generally intelligent (please never let it get out that I admitted to that), was the last person in the world you would ever see open a book.
About half an hour into our double lesson, there was a knock at the door. Flitwick looked around; doing a slight student-check to make sure that it wasn’t someone desperately late. “Yes?” he asked, pulling the door open.
A short little house elf stood there, in a clean white covering, holding a huge bouquet of flowers. “Delivery for,” he spoke, squeaky and high, looking at a card in his hand, “Ms. Grace Cunningham.”
I looked around, confused, not sure whether I had heard that right. Flitwick just smiled, pointed at me and the little house elf came tottering over. He placed the large flowers, roses, lilies and carnations at closer inspection, on my desk before turning to me. “Uh, thank you?” I smiled, confused.
“Of course, Ms. Cunningham. Have a lovely day,” he squeaked before tottering out of the classroom and closing the door.
“Come on, Gracie, who’re they from?” Lily asked from a few rows to my left, watching me. I noticed that she wasn’t the only one. Only a few people had gone back to reading the textbook.
“I, uh,” I was still a little shocked, as I peered into the bouquet, searching for a card.
The card simply read ‘Our Little Secret.’
“No name,” I answered, “no clue.”
Of course I knew who they were from. Peter. He was the only person that would send me anything, the only person that I had something on that didn’t know me well enough to know that I didn’t take bribes and I wouldn’t tell. Ever. It wasn’t my place.
“Gracie’s got an admirer,” Lily sung to herself.
I laughed, rolling up a piece of parchment and throwing it at her. “Shut up, Lily.”
I turned to Stevie, gave him a weak smile, “What do I do with these?”
“I… keep them?” he asked, confused. “No name, really?” he asked, grabbing the card from my hand.
“Nope, just our little secret. I don’t know who it could be from.”
“Look at you, lover girl.”
“Somehow, I don’t think it’s that.”
I would like to say that that was the last time that I had been given a gift that week but it wasn’t.
I was groggy, I was tired. In all honesty, I had no desire to be out of bed at this moment in time. I would’ve loved if I could fall back into my comfortable red and gold, and sleep for the next week and a half. I didn’t know why, though. It was one in the afternoon, I’d slept through breakfast, three periods of free time when I should, probably, have been doing homework from yesterday but instead I’d slept.
I woke up and rolled out of bed about ten minutes into lunch. That way, I could shower, waltz down to the Great Hall and still have time to eat.
“Ow!” I yelped as I stubbed my toe on something hard. Lying in a small, carefully piled construction by my bed were six books, wrapped in a red and gold bow. I groaned, bending to pick them up. They were beautiful, bound cleanly in black bindings. I picked the books, lightly, noticing a little card sticking out of the top book.
I pulled it out, confused. In a rough scripture the words ‘Jane Austen apparently knew how to show the world what it was like to fall in love with someone you don’t expect to. I’d be ruined. Don’t tell, please.’
I rolled my eyes at the note. Don’t get me wrong, the books were beautiful and at closer inspection they were indeed Jane Austen novels. I’d seen Millie read an old tattered copy of Mansfield Park, once, and had inquired about it. Peter, I recalled, was in the room.
They were all there, all six of them; Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The dates of print were scrawled next to their name, the books stacked in chronological order.
I really had to talk to Peter about this.
I didn’t do gifts. In fact, I hated gifts.
Well, unless it was my birthday because … that was different.
Wednesday came and I had decided to wake up early. This way I could finish my newly assigned Defense homework as well as practise the stupid charm that I should’ve practised yesterday morning but passed on for some shut eye.
I wasn’t bad at Charms but it was frustrating when I couldn’t get things. I got moody, annoyed, and broody. I sat in an empty classroom on the fourth floor, hard-backed chairs transfigured into squashy and floating chairs. I was bored and nonverbal spells were more brain-hurting than anything else so why not at least have your tooshie comfortable?
“I hate non-verbal spells,” Stevie groaned, sitting across from me in an equally comfortable-looking chair. He had decided to make them hover and in doing so had charmed my chair red, his yellow. I’d laughed at him, sarcastically. He found my Thursday evening dinners with the Gryffindors amusing, thought that I was turning into the ‘perfect little Gryffindor’. When he’d first said it, I’d poked him, hard, in the ribs.
“Same,” I groaned, once again flicking my wand in a circular motion. We were practising a rather simple spell, learnt in fourth or fifth year, but the non-verbal aspect made it hard. Orchideous was a charm that that conjured flowers but I somehow only managed to get leaves at the moment. It was frustrating.
I flicked my wand in a circle again, thinking harshly. “You know, it might be because we’re just trying too hard.”
I laughed, “I don’t really think that’s possible. You have to think hard to do a nonverbal spell.”
“Well, yeah, but maybe we should take a break. I have a headache.”
“Alright, Stevie,” I smiled, charming my chair a little closer to Stevie’s so I could rest my feet on his lap.
“Alright, so what was with the flowers in Charms on Monday?”
“No clue, honestly,” I lied. I knew who they were from but it was a secret. It was our little secret.
“No gorgeous, rich, six foot something has made contact, then?”
“We have gorgeous, rich, six foot somethings in Hogwarts? I must’ve missed them,” I laughed, sarcastically.
“Uh, other than me… none that I know of.”
Stevie’s family had money – albeit muggle money. His father was an international football player, who inherited some good money, and his mother was a beautiful, French and only about thirty-five had come from, what I’d heard, extensive amounts of money.
Stevie didn’t let it get around though – money was no object to him but he didn’t want it to become one, either.
I laughed, “Did you send me flowers, Gallagher?”
“No, Cunningham, I didn’t. If I did, anyway, I wouldn’t have gone with carnations. They remind me of my Great Aunt Deirdre.”
“You have a Great Aunt Deirdre?” I questioned.
“Yeah, on my Dad’s side. Smells like carnations all the bloody time – uses way too much Chanel perfume too,” he mused, “she makes killer gingerbread though.”
I laughed, “Chanel is perfume, right?”
“Yeah – it’s the gunk that my mother tried to give you. She says it’s a classic or whatever.”
“You’re ma’am knows more about perfume and fashion than anyone I’ve ever met,” I laughed, “so I’ll trust her.”
“It’s her job, what can I say?”
It was true. Whilst Charlie Gallagher, Stevie’s dad, was off playing football around Ireland, Nicolette had insisted on staying in England, raising her only son and quickly became very interested in fashion – she now co-designs for a boutique on Oxford Street in London. A really trendy and expensive one. I bought a pair of socks in there once… thirty bleeding quid. For one pair of socks!
I laughed, “Alright, seriously, back to this charm!”
“Screw it, let’s get lunch!”
I laughed, hoping off my chair and landing about dropping about four feet. “Ow, I forgot about that,” I grumbled after landing.
Stevie lowered his to the ground, him on it, before returning both of the seats to their hard-backed, toosh-bruising state. I slid my arm through his and pulled him from the room, my stomach suddenly aching.
We entered the Great Hall, smiles on our faces as we headed to the crowded Hufflepuff table. Millie was sitting with Andrew, both of them consumed in each other, too in love to notice when Stevie and I sat down, when Stevie pilled disgusting amounts of food on his plate and I flicked a grape at him. They were oblivious, their own little conversation so important to them, their knees touching as they swivelled their bodies to face each other, sitting side by side. One day, I think it’d be cute if I had something like that. Until then, I would just have to keep throwing grapes at Stevie’s face and see if he could catch them in his mouth.
The blond closed his eyes as I alternated between purple and green, him trying to guess the color that I’d just thrown at him.
Fifteen or twenty minutes later an owl swooped through the rafters, landing in front of me. I hadn’t come to breakfast and it wasn’t a rare sight to see a seventh year get their morning mail at lunch, or on the rare occasion, dinner. I carefully untied the small pouch from the bird’s leg and peered at it, confused. “Enlarge me” was written on the side. I pulled out my wand and muttered the spell, watching the small pouch transform into a large satchel with the word ‘Honeydukes’ scrawled on the side.
I rolled my eyes, opening it carefully and pulling a small index card from the bag. ‘I’m hoping you’re sweet enough to keep this quiet. Thank you.’
I looked over at the Gryffindor table, my eyes focused on finding Peter. Conveniently, he had his back towards me, in a ‘deep’ conversation with Remus.
“That’s the third gift this week,” Stevie pointed out, “what’d the note say this time.”
I handed it to him, “I still have no idea who they’re from. I think they might have the wrong person.”
He shrugged, reaching into the bag of Honeydukes sweets and pulling out a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. I grabbed it from him, popped it open and began throwing the beans at him. He tried to guess the flavours but apparently this was a little harder than guessing between purple and green.
He missed one; it bounced off his nose and hit Andrew in the head. “Hey!” Andrew protested, rudely. He looked at us both, confusion clouding his face, “when’d you two get here?”
“About twenty-five minutes ago,” I answered, popping one of the Bertie Bott’s into my own mouth. Gross. Earwax.
“Oh, hello, Stevie, Gracie,” Millie smiled, “I’m sorry I didn’t notice you.”
“That’s alright. You two are adorable,” I smiled, “sickeningly so, even.”
She blushed, her nose scrunching as a charming laugh came out of her throat. Andrew smiled her laugh infectious before he kissed her cheek.
“Defiantly sickeningly so,” Stevie agreed as he pinched one of my chocolate frogs.
“Oi, off,” I laughed, slapping his hand away.
“Another gift?” Millie asked, smiling at me.
“Still no name?”
“Nothing, I think they’re supposed to be for someone else.”
I lied but I didn’t feel guilty about it. I’d rather tell a few white-lies than disloyal.
It was Thursday, one of those days that just felt so long because of its nothingness. It was unsubstantial. It wasn’t the last day of neither the week nor the middle. It was one of two days that I had to get up early and head to third period History of Magic. No body, except Andrew, had to be up before me. He had Magical Creatures and I was pretty sure it was him, two Ravenclaws, another Hufflepuff and one Slytherin. Andrew wanted to play Quidditch so it became more a ‘just to fill my spare time’ thing when it came to classes. He had to take at least five subjects as he’d made seven owls. He was smart, really, but he just didn’t care. He passed with the bare minimum and that was it.
I woke early, breakfast calling my name. Pyjamas still on, I headed to the Great Hall. I was seventeen, and at this point, I was beyond caring what people thought of me. I mean, I cared, but anyone who I actually cared about was in bed. Except Andrew but he’d seem me in my nastiest form – hung over, moody, sweaty and bleeding. I was beyond caring at this point.
I slid down the banister of the Gryffindor common room, stopping with a loud thump at the bottom. Five or six fourth years by the bottom looked at me, rolling their eyes. I laughed, sweetly, walking out. It wasn’t like I was hated in Gryffindor – people thought I was different for hanging out with the Hufflepuffs, hardly ever in my own house but no one actually had a problem with me. Except for anyone that looked up to Eloise. They didn’t seem to like me very much.
I slid out of the portrait, heading toward the Great Hall. About half way through my venture, I saw a head. A head I knew.
“Peter!” I called, trying to attract the attention of the fourth Marauder.
He stopped, looked around and I could tell for a moment he was considering running.
“Don’t run,” I begged, trying to catch up with him.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he mumbled, “how are you, Cunningham?”
“I’m fine but we need to talk.”
“Listen, I appreciate the fact that you haven’t told anyone.”
“Peter, I swear, if you’ve bought me another gift I might have to shoot you in the head.”
“What? You don’t like them?”
“Chocolate, Jane Austen novels and flowers? Any girl in their right mind would love them but not for this reason, Peter.”
“Why? What’s wrong?” he sounded confused, his face clouded slightly with worry.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know you, I’ve never really tried and I can understand why you’d be worried but I’m not that type of girl. I’m biased against Gryffindor, I don’t get along with a few of them but I’m generally an open minded person. How you want to live your life is completely up to you. If you want to marry a mermaid, I couldn’t care as long as you didn’t drown. I don’t do well at funerals,” I laughed, trying to lighten the mood. “The point is no matter if you send me gifts or not, I’m not going to tell anyone.”
“You… you won’t?”
“Of course not. It’s not my secret to tell, Peter. When you’re ready, you’ll tell the people you want. Then and now, it’s none of my business. You don’t need to bribe me, Peter. You asked me not to tell, so I won’t.”
“I… thank you, Cunningham.”
“Please, call me Grace,” I smiled at him, softly.
“Alright, Grace,” he smiled back, a charming smile.
He wasn’t ugly, slightly mousy looking, maybe, but not ugly. He had blue eyes, a constant kind of stoned look about him, but a well-defined face and cute cheeks. “Would you mind, though, if I asked one thing?”
“You want to know who I was with?” he asked, not shocked.
“If you wouldn’t mind… I mean, I know it’s none of my business, but I know I’ve seen him before… I just can’t put a name on it.”
“You have to promise not to judge me.”
“Peter, if I was going to judge you I would’ve done it already,” I laughed good-naturedly.
“It’s the seventies, I’m seventeen. Not many people… are out of the closet. It was amazing that I found out that he was… by pure accident, really. We’d been in the library, working on a Potions thing. We’d been partnered up. He’s in Slytherin, Grace.”
I was a little shocked by this. Peter was a Marauder – the Marauders had it out for Slytherins more than Eloise had it out for me. If it was Snape… no, it wasn’t Snape. His hair fell too easily into his eyes.
“It was Yaxley,” he murmured, “Marcellus Yaxley. He goes my Marc. He’s in seventh year, like us.”
“I knew I knew his face,” I laughed, trying to lighten the mood.
I looped my arm through Peter’s. “Come on.” He smiled at me, softly. I knew he was adjusting to the idea of not having to bribe me. “We can be friends, Peter. I’m not evil.”
“Sirius… never mind. Sirius doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” he laughed, “I’d like that.”
“Me too,” I grinned. Sirius had been talking about me. I wasn’t shocked. I knew he didn’t like me but he was probably less of a fan that I was becoming closer with James and Remus… and now, I suppose Peter.
I was becoming a Gryffindor.
What a terrifying thought.
“What’re you doing up so early?” I asked, leading my new friend into the Great Hall. Andrew wasn’t here so I steered toward the Gryffindor table. Strange.
“I have Magical Creatures.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you took that course.”
“Yeah, I’m not bad at it,” he smiled as he buttered a piece of toast. “Why’re you up so early?”
“I… have no idea. Couldn’t sleep I suppose.”
He laughed, “by the way, nice pyjamas.”
I looked down at my legs. They were loose trouser pants, with red plaid all over them. Sure, a little lumberjack but come on, at least they weren’t covered in dancing fairies or something. “Shut up,” I laughed, sticking out my tongue.
Conversation was easy and it turned out that Peter was a pretty nice kid. The Slytherin that took Magical Creatures was Yaxley as he’d walked into the Great Hall a few moments after we’d sat down. Peter’s back had gotten stiff whilst he sat with a friend, a female, and relaxed when I told him it was only Juna Avery. Apparently she was a year younger, a friend of Yaxley’s little sister.
I felt bad for him, I won’t lie. He liked Yaxley, I could tell, but it just so happened that Sirius, Remus and James would never … accept it.
Actually, I don’t think that’d be true. They would accept that Peter was gay just not who he liked or, even possibly, loved.
I didn’t ask. Peter’s relationship was none of my business. It’s between the two people who are actually in the relationship. No one else.
Love was complicated. I often forgot how complicated – Millie and Andrew had things perfect. They were in love, life was easy, love was easier but for Peter… it was the opposite. He was in love, life was hard, love with impossible, a secret, something he was terrified of getting out.
I just hoped, prayed that that’d never be a situation I’d ever be put into.
It was probably a good thing that every single Slytherin, maybe with the except of Regulus Black and Wilkes, a seventh year who I’d partnered with in Transfiguration last year who was quite polite and pleasant when not surrounded by his cronies, was absolutely terrifying.
I disliked Slytherins, quite possibly more than I disliked Eloise Cross. Why? Eloise, albeit terrifying when PMSing, would never resort to torture or dark arts. It was a fact that Slytherin students were renowned for knowing a few dark spells. Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.
Authors Note: First, I'm not JK. Second, I hope you liked the chapter and this is really where the sensitive topic warning comes in. This is mainly the only chapter that discusses Peter's sexuality, other than in passing. Well, for now, as I have it planned. Which is not very far... so I won't make any promises as to the reappearance of the topic. Third, thank you for anyone reading. This story doesn't seem to be quite as popular as some that I've had in the past but I would like to say thank you for every single one of you that reads. It makes my day. Fourth.. yeah, fourth, the lyrics in the title and chapter summary are by Adele - Set Fire To The Rain.
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