Chapter 11 : Momentary Lapse of Intimacy
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Lorcan, Molly, James, and Norah all gave each other questioning and uncaring looks. Loran rolled his shoulders. “I hear he's making friends with Slytherins these days.”
“Good,” James said softly under his breath in a tone of neither praise nor distaste. He shrugged his shoulders as Lorcan shot him an irritated glance.
“Good? Good, you say? Your brother is off being all buddy-buddy with the Slytherins, and you say good?” Lorcan snorted as he stuffed his face with food, chasing it with a large gulp of pumpkin juice.
Then James remembered why he was the only one who might have called it 'good.' Only James knew Al's little secret. That Albus should be in Slytherin. But if Al was hanging out with Slytherins more these days, then that could mean he was embracing that side of him he had never wanted to bring to the surface after so many years.
Molly scoffed at him, having made plenty of friends with the right kind of Slytherins. “It's fine, Lorcan. Slytherins aren't all bad these days.”
“They're still up to no good,” he scoffed.
Norah rolled her eyes. James tried to not catch her beautiful smile as she did so. “When are you ever up to anything that isn't no good?”
“She has a valid point, mate,” James chuckled.
“Really, they aren't that bad,” Molly argued again in a relaxed manner.
“She's right,” Rose agreed. “They aren't all bad. It's just odd that Al's hanging out with them more these days. It's like, ever since he found out he was a Parselmouth, he's been hanging more with Scorpius Malfoy and Parker Namken.”
“Well, Norah, what do you know about it?” Molly asked in a nonchalant voice. “You're the one who's dating him, after all.”
James bit down hard on his lip and quickly pushed his drink up to his mouth before he could show the sudden feeling of awkwardness he felt. He knew Lorcan felt it, too, for his eyes quickly moved to Jamie's and they temporarily went wide. James had not told Lorcan about his confrontation with Norah while on patrol, but Lorcan didn't have to know in order to pick up on the fact that they were no longer ignorant of the other's feelings.
Norah looked down at her plate, unable to even look at James. It was only Molly and Rose who did not realize an entirely different situation going on. She picked absently at her lunch while James swished his pumpkin juice around in his mouth until the taste went sour.
“I dunno. He hasn't told me why, but he's enjoying hanging out with them. Scorpius Malfoy and Parker Namken are the better Slytherins of his year, so I don't see anything wrong with it. I think the Slytherins are actually being more welcoming of him because he's a Parselmouth. Al may just be trying to find his place, you know? Trying to fit in.”
“Slytherin’s trying to recruit, if you ask me,” Lorcan snorted under his breath.
“Well, no one asked you,” snapped Norah.
“Yikes,” Lorcan murmured and backed off. “Someone's defensive.”
At that comment, James and Norah were no longer able to keep a positive face. They both quickly began to sulk, and James drank his pumpkin juice so fast that Lorcan swore he would have to pee within the next five minutes. However, they were thankful for Molly and Rose's ignorant and oblivious attention for the afternoon. They did not notice, so Lorcan quietly whispered to her. “I'm sorry.”
James pursed his lips, dropped his fork with a clatter and excused himself from the table. “I need to pee...”
He rose and quickly left the hall, passing Albus and Scorpius themselves as he did so. James flashed his brother a smile and was surprised when Scorpius spoke directly to him. “Good luck tomorrow in the match, James!”
It was polite, and never had Malfoy spoken directly to him. James nodded his thanks and was finally convinced that Albus was just off making more friends and not just convincing himself that he belonged with a different crowd.
James slipped into the bathroom to relieve himself, and when he emerged, he found Norah passing by looking just as troubled as James felt. “Hey,” he murmured to her as they walked away from the Great Hall and all reminders of Albus. “Lorcan didn't mean it. H–He knows...what we're going through.”
Norah sighed and didn't know where her feet began to take her, and she knew James had no idea where his destination was either, for he remained right by her side with every step. They found that they mutually reached the greenhouses and sat on a bench between greenhouse three and four. Norah tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, absently looking around the aisle to be safe.
James became aware of her cautious actions and began to pay great heed to them, curious as to what she would do next. When she was sure they were alone, she placed her hand on her knee and turned it upward, palm opening and fingers spreading, a loving invitation.
James sucked in a deep breath and tried to resist the temptation to take her hand. He knew they were just asking for trouble, but the few days that had passed since his confrontation with Norah had only made things worse. They were always together, whether they wanted to or not. They were best friends with each other and with Lorcan and Molly as well. If they acted like they didn't wish to be together—something they knew they would have to do if they wished to move past their infatuations—then Lorcan, Molly, and Albus would begin to question them. They had to stay together if they wished to avoid any unwanted attention.
But that was harder than it seemed. They had four classes together, they patrolled the corridors three nights a week together, they ate together, and they shared a Hogwarts house together. It was inevitable to spend at least half the day together.
That only made it so much worse.
With every moment they spent together, James was falling more and more into Norah, not ever wishing to move past her, and he knew she felt the same.
“Norah...,” he moaned in miserable distress.
“Just hold my hand, please,” she pleaded.
And he took it without a second thought. He entwined their fingers and squeezed tight. He clutched their clasped hands with his other and brought it to his lips, kissing the back of her palm and lowering it. “Norah, you know I can't resist anymore. You can't press me.”
“I'm sorry, Jamie. I just...,” she faltered, latching onto his other hand with her free one. “I can't resist any more either.”
“You have to try,” he pressed.
“But I don't know that I do,” she began to speak in a hopeful voice, and he wondered where she was about to take their conversation. “Knowing that you feel this way for me, I can't...I've been different with Albus. I've been trying to be the way that I've been with you, but I–I haven't been able to kiss him like I used to—”
“Ahhh,” moaned James. He pulled his hands away to stick his fingers in his ears and sing loudly. “La la la la la!”
“Hear me out!” she complained. “I can't kiss him like I used to. There's a part of me that still likes him, of course, but James, it's always been you. So, when we were kissing, I just couldn't kiss him the way I did, and he might have noticed. If he didn't, he will start to pick up on it. But James, this may not be a bad thing. I know I can't break up with him and move directly to you, but if he breaks up with me and we have some time, then Albus wouldn't be such a bad issue to worry about! If I slowly lose interest in him and he notices, he would eventually move past it.”
James thought on it for many moments. In so many ways, it made perfect sense to him, and James did believe it would work. If it was carried out in that way, then Albus would be more lenient with James having a future relationship with Norah. “It's your choice. I'm not going to make you choose, Norah, but we can't be anything until Albus has moved on. If he ever does and you do too. You have to understand why.”
“I know,” she whispered and leaned over to kiss his cheek.
James mustered a deep swallow and released her hand. “But until then, I'll be waiting,” he said, and with that, he stalked off.
Dominique lay on the floor of Teddy's living quarters. It was a small but homey space with a decent sized bathroom, living space, and bedroom. She lay in the living room with her feet pressed against the wall while she tossed a rubber ball within her hands. Teddy lay in an arm chair as he read the day's Daily Prophet. Music played in the background from an enchanted radio, and they sat in a tranquil silence.
Dominique sighed and threw the ball back over her head, whacking the newspaper in Teddy's hands. “I'm bored, Ted. Entertain me.”
Teddy said nothing, only sighed, shaking his head with a smile as he flipped the page of the Prophet. He looked to her. She appeared angelic to him even as she lay on the floor with no manners at all. Her hair was sprawled out along the floor, and her legs twisted about as she moved to be more comfortable. He shook his head and forced out the thoughts that had occurred more and more these days. He then threw the ball back to Dominique. She continued to talk, verging on a rant, as she spoke to no one really but herself. “I shouldn't have had that pie at dinner. I feel like dancing.”
“Oh, good,” Teddy chuckled sarcastically, wondering if he would get some sort of show.
Dominique threw the ball across the room and rose with a quick wiggle. “Come on,” she encouraged. She yanked the paper from his hands and dropped to the floor. Grabbing his hands, she pulled him to his feet and began to dance energetically to the music on the radio. Teddy only rolled his eyes, his head lolling back carelessly. Dancing had never been one of his hobbies, but he had fun with Dominique. She made everything fun for him these days, so he went along with it.
They danced around, he spun her, and they laughed together. Finally the song ended and a slower one took its place, but they didn't stop. Teddy knew if Dominique hadn't expanded his comfort zone in the dancing area, he would have stopped then, but he didn't. He placed one hand on her hip and took the other into his own. Dominique fell against him, moving along in step.
His hand went around to her back, curved and smooth. Teddy found himself comparing it to that of Victoire's. Victoire was plainly figured while Dominique had curves, something Teddy had never noticed. He turned his head into her neck, feeling her hair. It was soft, wavy, and smelt of lavender and sunlight. Victoire's had always been straight and smelling of wildflowers.
He didn't know why he suddenly found himself comparing the sisters, but he found that he preferred the girl in his arms over the other sister who held the greater appearance of a veela. Victoire had the hair and skin of a veela and the moves of one, but Dominique had always been the go-getter, her hair a mix of veela and Weasley, smooth tan skin, and the moves of a born Quidditch player.
The song ended and he pulled away to look at the Weasley in his arms. She smiled at him, oblivious to whatever odd happening was going on in his head. Her thick, plush lips spread with her smile, revealing her white teeth. The upward curve of the tip of her nose made him smile, and her blue eyes pulled him in deeper and deeper. It was as if Dominique wasn't related to Victoire at all; they were two totally different creatures.
Teddy pursed his lips, and in those next few moments, he felt completely possessed by something he had never felt before.
He took a few quick steps forward, and Dominique stepped back with him, remaining only a few inches in front of him until her hands touched the table behind her. “Teddy?” she asked in confusion.
He raised a hand, placing one finger against her soft lips and whispering, “Shhh.”
His hand quickly shot around to her neck, wrapping around its fragile frame, and he pressed his lips full against hers. He kissed her hard, taking her into his arms. As soon as his lips touched hers, he had no idea why he had done what he did, but he didn't stop.
And what surprised him further was that Dominique reacted just the same. Her arms jumped around his neck, pulling his head further down. Her jaw began to open, and she pushed against his mouth until he opened willingly for her, feeling the small stroke of her tongue. She hopped up on the table behind her and wrapped her legs about his waist. Teddy's hands shot down to her thighs and pulled her close. He felt the smooth skin of them, and he lost his breath against her.
He laid her down and crawled on top, and Dominique did not delay in removing his shirt. It was when he settled against her without his shirt did he suddenly stop.
When he pulled his lips away from hers, he opened his eyes. He looked at Dominique for many moments before she slowly opened her oceanic eyes. She seemed to be floating on cloud nine as well until she looked at him and hit reality.
She blanched and Teddy gasped, crawling off of her. He yanked his shirt off of the table and quickly backed away.
Dominique sat up, closing her legs and smoothing down her hair. “Oh my god...”
“I–I...I'm so sorry,"”Teddy blurted, wiping his wet mouth with the back of his hand.
“I–It’s…,” she started and faltered. “Oh my god.”
Teddy dropped his shirt in his arm chair and grabbed onto his hair, the calm brown suddenly shooting a bright blue. By this sign, Dominique could tell how distressed he was. She said nothing, only sat there feebly, trying to shrink into herself, getting smaller and smaller.
“I don't know where that came from,” he breathed, smoothing down his aqua hair. He sat down in the chair, his chest heaving, and now that Dominique knew Teddy must have held some sort of romantic affection for her, she found she could hardly take her eyes off of him. His chest was broad, his skin tan, and his stomach raised with six abs. He couldn’t recall if she had ever seen him shirtless.
Dominique tore her eyes away from his chest and focused on his distressed face.
He finally shouted in an angry voice as if he hadn't made the first move. “You're Victoire's sister!”
“I know, Teddy!” she shouted back. She and Teddy had always had clashing personalities, and it had been at least two weeks since their most recent argument, which was a surprise in itself. Of course it would start up again only moments after Teddy had kissed her. “You're her ex-boyfriend!”
“You kissed me!” she shouted in defense, trying to push all the blame onto him.
“Yeah, but you kissed me back!” he moaned loudly.
Dominique tried to catch her breath, hopping off of the table and smoothing out her jeans. She was quiet for many moments, biting her nails, before she threw her hand down and continued to shout. “Were you not listening to me just the other day when we were talking with James? I said I would never do something like that to my sister, and you just did it anyway! Y–You...You did it before I could even understand what was happening! How could you do that to me?! I never want to hurt Victoire!”
“I'm sorry; I couldn't help it!” Teddy moaned.
“I would never have kissed you if I had any warning! I just betrayed Victoire!”
“Oh, come on. We stopped. It's not like we had sex. We kissed!” He tried to not make it as bad as it sounded. When Dominique said it like that, it made him feel like the anti-Christ. He no longer wanted anything to do with Victoire these days in the romantic way, but he didn't want to hurt her and he still respected Dominique’s loyalty to her sister.
“You shouldn't have kissed me!” she roared.
“Come on, Dom,” he complained again. “You can't act like you didn't like it!”
She stopped and clamped her mouth shut. She blanched and tried to regain her composure as she found his words to be true. “S–So?! That doesn't have anything to do with this.”
“So you did like it?” He put on a boyish grin and sauntered forward.
Dominique folded her arms across her chest and bit her lip, tapping a foot impatiently and looking at the ground. She tried to ignore Ted as he approached her with a husky smile, but she was weaker at the task than she had ever thought herself to be.
He stroked her arm, dragging one finger along her smooth skin, slowly exchanging fingers. “She doesn't have to find out,” he suggested.
“That's wrong, Ted,” she groaned, and with him making his advances on her, she felt like a hypocrite for what she had said to James only days ago.
“We've broken up. You know that I decided long ago that I never wanted to date her again. I've moved on; she needs to, too. Doesn't that make it okay?”
“I don't know! Don't move on to me. I–I can't, Teddy,” Dom whispered.
“Dominique,” he soothed and held her chin between his fingers. He tilted her head upward, and her wavy hair fell off her shoulders and down the length of her back. She closed her eyes at his touch and inhaled deeply as his breath, smelling of peppermint, grazed her lips.
She whispered again. “We can't.”
“We already have, Dom,” he exhaled before he couldn't take another word, and he kissed her passionately.
James awoke to a vicious tapping at his window in the early hours of morning. It took him many minutes to realize just what the source of it was and that is wasn't just Lorcan's obnoxious snore, but when he did, he sat up and grabbed his wand from the nightstand. “Lumos,” he murmured and rolled out of bed. He approached the window and opened it for Dominique's snow owl to hop in. It obediently stuck out its leg, and James held his free hand out in front of her to gently nibble on the tip of his finger.
He chuckled at her before pulling the small scrap of parchment out of its talons. He unfolded it to see three letters written in a hurried scribble on the parchment.
James swallowed and moved fast. He sent Dom's owl back out the window and extinguished his wand. He pulled on a pair of jeans, tugged a shirt over his head, and stumbled into his shoes. He didn't know what was wrong, but when Dominique needed him, he would go to her.
He hurried out of the dormitory and into the Hogwarts corridors. He jogged across the castle and down to the fourth floor until he approached a tapestry that would temporarily dissolve at the correct password, revealing the doorway to Dominique's living quarters. He murmured to the gold tapestry of the man who created the game of Quidditch. “Holyhead Harpies.”
It dissolved for him, and he quickly pushed his way inside. Dominique's living quarters were dark and held no sign of her. He whispered, “Dom?”
He heard her murmur from somewhere, and he slipped into her bedroom. He found her sitting on her bed, holding her knees to her chest and slowly rocking back and forth. He sat down in front of her without a word, folding his hands in his lap. She rubbed her face painfully and moaned. “Oh, Jamie. I'm an awful person.”
“Dom, what happened?”
“Ugh,” she moaned. “Don't tell Vic. Please? Don't tell Victoire.”
“Of course. Dom, you're my best friend.” He felt as if that one sentence said so much. It had been years since either of them had asked the other to keep a secret. If they shared something, sometimes it was automatically a given that they wouldn't share the information with anyone else; there seemed to be an unspoken bond with their secrets, so they never needed to clarify. It was almost second nature to them to detect when the other was sharing something with you and you alone.
“I didn't start it, Jamie,” she tried to convince him. “He did!”
“Just tell me what happened.”
“Teddy and I kissed,” she finally revealed. “It came out of nowhere. He kissed me all of the sudden, and as soon as he did, I wanted it. So I kissed him back! And we didn't stop for a while. Then he was half naked when we stopped, and I told him how wrong it was, how I never would have done it if he hadn't been so sudden about it. But then he...He was so cute about it all and he pulled me back into it. So we kissed again! And, James, ugh.”
“Wow,” he finally said quietly. “I–I don't know what to tell you.”
In truth, he didn't. She had done exactly the thing she had advised him not to. Now, he realized, they were both infatuated with someone who was or had been associated with their sibling.
“We're in the same situation.”
“Yes, but you didn't kiss Norah!” groaned Dominique.
“I'm trying so hard not to.”
“I didn't even know I was into Ted like that! I didn't know he was either. He just came on to me. And I wanted him.”
“Well, are you actually into him like that? Or was it just sexual?” he asked.
“I don't know. He was so sexy, so I just wanted to jump his bones. But I…I think I am into him like that. More than just a physical attraction.”
“Don't worry about it until you're sure you’re into him like that,” James advised.
He was relieved to see Dominique nod, agreeing with his advice. They sat in silence for many moments, and Dominique relaxed. She let go of her legs and leaned back against her pillow, but after a few moments, she asked in yet another panicked voice. “But what if he tries to kiss me again? What if it becomes a regular thing?”
“I–I don't know, Dom. I'm not good with this stuff,” chuckled James. “You were helping me, remember? I don't know. Do you know how Vic feels about Teddy? If she's moved on, then it might not be so bad. Wait and see how things go. Then, at Christmas, talk to your sister without hinting to it and see where her feelings stand.”
“That's not so bad, Jamie.” Dominique smiled after a few moments. “Good advice. You're better at this than you think you are.”
“Well, thanks,” he smiled. “If only I was better at it when it came to myself…”
“I'm sorry,” Dom winced at seeing his stress and pain. “Is it getting harder?”
“Much harder, and I think I'm resisting better than she is. Today we held hands by the greenhouses. She's asking me to hold her in my arms or hold her hand any chance we get. It's like she's not even trying to resist, but I know she is.”
“Just keep trying. At least with me, Teddy and Vic broke up months ago. Norah is dating Albus still.”
“I know,” answered James, and they said nothing more of it. James only gave her a weak smile, and he embraced her for many moments. He squeezed her tight for reassurance, and even as he pressed his cheek into her hair, he could smell Teddy on her. He tried not to laugh.
He held her until she fell asleep, and when she did, he tucked her in. Leaving her dormitory quietly, he didn't quite feel like returning to sleep for the night, so he set off on a lengthy detour, slowly wondering the halls. He wasn't too worried if he got caught out of bed. He knew the caretaker and a few Prefects would be on duty, but he was Head Boy. And he wouldn't abuse the privileges of his status, but at least it would give him a little leeway.
But he didn't run into anyone else. Until he stepped off the stairs to turn toward Gryffindor tower and found someone sprawled out along the cold stone floor. James ran to the student's aide, curious as to what was going on.
He fell to his knees, his hands open in confusion. Gaining his composure, he fished his wand out of his pocket and muttered, “Lumos.”
As soon as his wand ignited, he gasped and immediately began shaking his brother's shoulder. “Albus? Al, wake up!”
He had blood slowly oozing out of his nose, but other than that, he just looked asleep on the floor. He finally jerked awake, surprised. “What the...? Jamie, what are you doing?”
“What am I doing?” he asked, bewildered. “What are you doing?! Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I think so,” he answered and sat up. He dabbed at his nose, realizing blood was pushing its way out of it. He seemed to jump a little when he realized he wasn't in his bed safely in Gryffindor tower.
“What have you been doing?” James asked quietly, grasping his brother's shoulder and giving him all of his attention.
He pulled Albus to his feet and began to make note of Al's curious expression. His nose wrinkled as he seemed to gawk at his thoughts. He eventually looked at James and shook his head. “I don't know…”
“What do you mean you don't know?”
“I mean I have no idea what I'm doing here. I can't remember.” Albus seemed worried at his statement, and he showed his worry in his expression to his brother.
James wrapped an arm around his brother's shoulders, temporarily forgetting that Albus was practically his enemy while he was dating Norah, and only focused on the brother he loved and the brother he wanted to help.
“Trying to show up a first year, were you? And he surprised you?” He chuckled, and while his suggested scenario was doubtful, it could have happened.
Albus actually chuckled, and James was thankful for this. It was a sign that Al wasn't too worried about the whole situation. “I doubt it, Jamie.”
“Right, well, don't worry about it too much. If you remember, then you remember. If you don't, then it's no big deal unless it happens again.”
Albus gave him a smile, silently agreeing with him. Al put an arm around his brother just like James had done to him, and together they set off toward Gryffindor tower.
A/N: Edited 8.25 for grammar and accuracy.
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