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Chapter 13 : Damsel
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I caught a glimpse of my refection in a passing dusty window. I could pretend that it looked hideous because of the broken slits in to the glass, or the dusty, fractured wooden frame that held it loosely in place, but that would be a lie. Despite the broken appearance and distorted reflection, my chewed up lips and tear stained cheeks were clearly visible.
I pulled down my thick sleeve roughly and rubbed it against my cheeks and eyes, brushing away the excess. The salty tears had caressed my cheeks with too much of a force, leaving behind a rough mess underneath its waterfall.
No Professors had walked the halls tonight, if they did, it wasn’t near by the Hufflepuff Common Room, besides it wasn’t the Hufflepuffs that were the problem. The antics – possibly dangerous and life threatening – were near the Gryffindor Tower. If anyone was up, they were there.
I hadn’t considered the cold. I could hear the wind howling outside, a little to my right, but my mind didn’t contemplate it. I wanted to be away, hidden – somewhere no one could see me like this. I was pathetic, I couldn’t hold in my troubles any longer. As I reached the archway and pulled my legs up in to it, I had let the tears fall. But why?
Looking down to my warm attire, I thanked the voice of reason in my head. As I wiped my nose on to my sleeve, I missed the sound of approaching footsteps.
I hadn’t realised there was another being in the corridor before they practically dived in to the archway and threw their arms around my neck. The raven haired boy let out a sigh of relief as he brushed his hands through my tangled hair.
“Oh, love. Why do you do things like this?” he asked with a sweet laugh in his tone.
No more tears fell, I had wiped them a while ago, yet I spoke no words. It appeared that Robin Hood had decided to keep his hat. He didn’t wear it now, but the idea was still there. As Albus sat next to me, his legs curled under the two of us, he held on to me tight.
He brushed my cheek with his thumb and simply rocked me back and forth. “Ranny, sweetheart, apologizing to you would be an insult, but it’s the only thing I have. I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean anything that I had said. I was pissed off that we had lost the game and I just wanted to make sure that the lads knew that. But I went by it all wrong. And Scorpius – he doesn’t mean what he does, he doesn’t think…”
I listened to him as he trailed off, his movements coming to a standstill, left only the gentle brushing of my hair. His other hand rested gently on to my leg as we sat in a tangled mess.
“I’m guessing that we haven’t made it easy for you lately have we?” He tried quietly. “Scorpius was right to stick by you, but I wasn’t right to let it get to that point in the first place. Ranny, please, please forgive me. This is me begging. I, Albus Potter, am begging for your forgiveness.”
Biting down on to my lip, I said nothing.
He sighed. “I can get down on to the floor if you want. I will get on one knee and mutter absolute shit for as long as you want. But you won’t understand me because my pride will be too hurt to form proper sentences-“
I let out a small laugh. It was quiet and short, but he heard it.
Upon realising that this was the first time he had ever sworn in front of me, I noticed simply how much we had all changed.
“In case you haven’t noticed-” Al tried again. “-when you’re not there, beside me, I tend to be a bit of an arsehole. I need you there Ran. I shouldn’t even have to say that out loud; you should know it.”
I dislike being the one who needs help, the one who needs the attention, but in that moment, I realised that I always will be. Albus can tell me that he needs me, and that will always make me feel somewhat elated, but I know that I will always need him more than he needs me. I can’t handle myself, I don’t like being alone. I don’t deal well with being alone. Always, I have had either Scorpius or Albus to stand by my side and draw their swords at the first sign of trouble. This was the first time in years that I have had to deal without them, and I failed miserably.
Al took hold of my shoulders and steered me to face him. “Ranny, are you alright?”
I nodded slowly, an action too small to be considered normal. But he knew me. He saw right through me.
“Scorpius came for me, you know. He told me that I needed to find you and that it was his entire fault. But he’s wrong; it was mine as well. Whatever he did Ranny, he’s sorry. He feels so guilty.”
I wrinkled my nose and sniffed. Scorpius has nothing to feel guilty about.
“He likes Rose,” I said quietly. “He’s her white knight. He found her in a corridor, she was upset. He helped her.”
“But he left you,” Albus finished for me. “That would really hurt me, if I was in your position Ran, don’t feel ashamed of it.”
As he brushed it hand once again back through my hair, I realised that somehow, in this twisted mess of our seventh year, we had managed to slip back in to the roles we began with; Albus picking me up when I’m down, and Scorpius always three steps ahead of us both. Little John is a beautiful substitute for Al, but he’s no King – good or bad.
Albus can easily surpass in my eyes to being my everything. When he touched me, my skin burned in a feverish way that I wasn’t able to experience through anything else in the world. His hands brushed through my hair and it felt like home; I was back in my book; my fairytale was back on track.
I must have looked pathetic, as I groped for an answer to his question. “I can’t help it. I don’t like Rose, and I don’t want Scorpius to like her.”
“I love the jealousy bug,” Albus chuckled. The rise and fall of his chest rumbled underneath my head. “I don’t like the way that you sometimes spend more time with Scorpius than me, I don’t like the way that you’re friends with the Gates brothers now. I’m jealous of the way that Scorp always gets the girl – no matter what. It all gets tiring after a while, but you can’t let it get you down.”
Sitting up straight, I could see his surprised expression; he looked tired, haunted and sad. “Albus, I’m sorry.” I said. “I really am. I don’t want to fight anymore. I want to talk again. I want the crushing in my chest to go away.”
“You have that too?” he asked, grabbing my waist and hugging me once more. “I don’t know why you’re apologising to me though. Ran, if I’m ever being a knob again, hit me, slap me I don’t care, just don’t let me upset you.”
“I could never do that,” I said truthfully.
Albus stood up from the arch, perching on the end lightly, crossing one leg over the other as he sat straight. “Nina didn’t have any trouble.”
My brows knitted together. “She hit you?”
“Slapped me,” he corrected. “She said that I deserved it, that I was – well just insert an array of colourful words in there and you’ve pretty much got the idea.”
“You don’t deserve that.”
He cracked a grin. “Yes I do, look at the way I treated you.” I couldn’t help but notice the way his hand was still on my leg.
I wanted to tell him, to say that I knew about Scorpius and Nina, but I knew that it wouldn’t help the situation. It would simply remind Al that he had her first; that he did indeed always get the girl and then possibly that Scorpius was right.
Little John was wise. He was Robin’s right hand man; he always looked out for Robin. It was Tuck that listened to the problems; Tuck was a walking confession box. We fit our roles well, Scorpius always pushed the boundaries, but he would have done anything for Albus, just as Al for him.
But it was the stereotype of Maid Marion that irked me. In some folklore, she was the one to kill Robin. She poisoned his drink and left him in the care of helpful nuns that Tuck had befriended years before. Robin didn’t know these nuns to well, he wanted to be with his friends, but they were long gone.
But that’s not the fairytale that I own. The one, scribbled in to the pages of my leather bound book, is a happy story, where Marion stands next to Robin and holds his hand as he takes back England.
Consider it logically; England may have been a hypothetical meaning for Robin’s life, as he took back the reins he had a woman to stand by his side. Nina was definitely not filling that position.
“She left me,” he said sourly. His eyes flickered to the worry that enveloped my features but looked away instantly. “She is at the Gryffindor party right now, probably grinding the bloody boy of the hour.”
My head reeled at the thought. “Al, I don’t know what to say.”
“There’s nothing to say,” he admitted sadly. His shoulder sagged as he spoke of the situation.
I pulled my leg back from his under his gentle grip. I couldn’t think straight, the fire where his hand once sat still burned through my skin. It always would.
“Al, you’ll find her, you know, Maid Marion.” I reassured. “So she wasn’t your queen, not everyone is going to be perfect. But you’re Robin Hood.”
“You’re not getting it!” He snapped, his head whipping around to face me. “I thought that after everything, you might get it – but you haven’t!”
I took deep breaths. “Albus, you’re shouting.”
“Yes, I am shouting. Ranny, you’re so blind! You say I am, and I might be, but you need to live in reality!” His eyes darkened as he turned to face me. He stood upright and towered over my small figure, sat in the comfort of the arch. “There is no Prince, there are no Princesses. Peter Pan, Robin Hood, King Arthur – they’re not real. No man is going to ride in on a white horse and save you; we are all you’ve got. Accept it Ranny.”
“You…you don’t mean that.” I said doubtfully. His tone had turned so quickly. “You’re just saying that because you’re angry. Nina hurt you, you’re upset. It’s understandable.”
“I’m not angry,” he rounded, his hands griped in to his hair. “It’s time that you grew up Ranny. I don’t believe in that shit anymore, that book contains only stories, not parts of our lives; it was our childhood, not our future. I don’t believe in them anymore.”
“Then why won’t you give me my hat back?” I breathed.
His jaw shifted, setting in a stony position to match his other features.
I didn’t contemplate what he really meant, I only sat up straight and tried to leave the arch, but my feet wouldn’t take me. “If you don’t want to believe them fine, but I do. They are real – they’re real to me. And really, that’s all that should matter.”
Albus’ expression fell, the anger subsided. He closed his eyes and realised just quite how far he had gone from being who he used to be. “Ranny I-“
“Don’t apologise,” I whispered sadly, blurry vision seeming natural to me now. “You’ve said you’re sorry too much to me. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
“Don’t say that, an apology to you is all I have now, don’t say that.”
“Is that where I was supposed to slap you?” I asked. “To stop you from hurting me?”
His eyes flicked open and his emerald iris’s caught me like a deer in headlights. “Ranny, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I was telling you the truth.”
“You’re contradicting yourself now, Albus.” I pointed out. “You won’t even here reason. I’ve just told you that you hurt my feelings and yet you carry on.”
Albus’ arm fell limp to his side. “I didn’t mean to.”
He had far to go to being a Prince. He wasn’t perfect, Scorpius had told me this many a time. He was rude, blunt and a little conceited, the qualities that prince charming would never possess. But he was always the perfect Prince Charming for me, and that was all that mattered.
The two of us left it at that, knowing that neither had anything else to verbalise, yet so much to say. He couldn’t help himself, and neither could I. I needed my fairy tales, and he needed to be right, he needed reality. He watched as I walked away, stumbling over my own feet.
I know they aren’t true, to this day, what has come of them? Nothing. My white knight is nothing but a fraud. My protector has run off with the enemy. Scorpius was Peter Pan; he was always able to see magic where no one else could. He could make you fly, he could make you feel elated – yet right now, he was the reason for my having fallen. He was the boy who would never grow up.
The excitement Peter felt when Wendy told her stories was just that, excitement – but in a story. Living in reality was too hard to bear.
Thus, I ended up where I stand now, stood between the openings of trees, four or so feet from the border of the forest. In the early morning sky, I wished for the darkness to consume me. Scorpius needed the opportunity to grow, to not have to keep one eye on me at all times. Albus needed to leave it all behind him. I needed to make it stop.
The fairy tales were my life, my entire world. The tales of Peter Pan and Cinderella played in my dreams. I scrubbed the fires in a grand mansion and waited on my evil sisters. I was an empty page, a colouring book ready to be filled in with chalk and pastels. I was easy to read. I was the book. And I couldn’t be. I was a human being; I should have more depth than what those pages held.
My mouth released a sob, a whimper of pain. I bit down on to my lip, drawing and tasting a shock of blood that leaked from the every growing cut and let my tears fall down to the forest floor.
Inside the leather bind was pictures, doodles, sketches, each with meaning. The book was provided for us all, all to enjoy and to thrive from. Yet it was us that had put in the magic. They were just stories, we made them come alive. But it was time for them to go back in to the book.
I threw the leather bindings down on to the floor of the forest, followed by a small green hat. The red feather caught the eye of a passing bird – but still it flew on. I wasn’t even worth the bird’s momentary attention.
My chest heaved; empty air ran back up my windpipe, choking me on nothing. I clawed at my throat and tried to get a grip on whatever I could find. Scorpius would rather have Rose; Albus wanted nothing to do with my interests.
I had run back through the Common Room to collect these belongings, no one had batted an eyelid. No one noticed I was there. I wasn’t worth their attention either.
Reality is something I have never lived in; it was about time that I started. I needed the book to leave, so I wouldn’t be forced by temptation.
I placed upon the book a small wooden sword, a golden ring and a waistband made from a curtain tie from the fourth floor. I took a golden coin from my pocket; always used as treasure and threw it next to the book.
My sobs have become dry, my nose running freely. I swallowed as I cried, a constant stream of salty tears gracing my cheeks as I squeezed my eyes closed. Albus couldn’t love me, he could never love me. He could do better. Scorpius had already moved on to find another friend. I was no one special. I wasn’t a Princess trapped in a castle; no Prince would come to rescue me. No one would ever come to rescue me.
I pulled my wand from my boot and aimed it at the pile of belongings. “Incendio,” I announced clearly.
And I watched as the pile burned.
AN; thank you for reading! I hope that you enjoyed this chapter! If you’d like to leave a review, (hint hint) then the usual thing applies; ROBIN, to say that you like it, and HOOK if you don’t!
What did you all think of this chapter, it’s all Ranny and Al; and Al’s attempt to apologise, heavy on the ‘attempt’. I will update soon, the next chapter is called ‘Neverland’, it’s a Scorpius, Al and Ranny chapter, in which all will be resolved.
Has anyone got a prediction; the chapter is written, but it would be nice to hear what you think happens.
What about Ranny burning the book and the props? Has she officially broken down?
Keep in mind, that from the last chapter the only opinion that was given of Nina was from Scorpius’ point of view, who really, really doesn’t like her. There will be a little bit more of her during the rest of the story, so I hope that you form your own opinion.
Also, when it comes to Albus; he is the opposite of a ‘prince charming’, which is how he is supposed to be, it’s an ironic thing, so that he has time to grow as a character. This is the last chapter in which he upsets Ranny, after this the old Al shines through :)
Thank you again for reading this far. I hope that you like the rest! I own nothing; it all goes to JK, and the mentioned fairytales respective owners!
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He did, eh?