Chapter 2 : Journey to Myrtle's
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The common room is empty. The universe hates me.
We write, side by side at our usual table, in determined silence. I don’t look at him. He doesn’t look at me.
I wish I could say something.
“Cassia,” he says, and my heart skips a beat and begins pounding.
“Yeah?” I ask, trying to sound casual. My palms are suddenly sweaty.
“When was the Imperius made Unforgivable?”
Fuck you. Fuckyoufuckyoufuckyoufuckyou. “1709.”
“James,” I blurt, having no idea what to say next.
I flounder, wishing I could take it back. I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know how to word the turmoil that’s going around in my mind. Do you regret it? Are we still friends? What happened? How did it happen? Are you attracted to me? Is it even a big deal to you?
Do you love me?
“Was the Cruciatus used in the last wizarding war?”
“Um, I know it was used here. Dark Arts. Your mum would know, wouldn’t she?”
I shake my head. “Too personal to put in an essay, she never even talks about her seventh year, not even to us. I don’t need to give her another reason to be upset with me.”
“I don’t think I’ve seen her that angry before,” James mutters, looking at me out the corner of his eye. “Do you think she knows?”
“Legilimency requires a spell. She left her wand in the classroom.”
We lapse into silence again, the air thick with unspoken words.
“What’s going on, Cassia?” Mum asks, flicking her wand to close the door behind me.
I shrug. “Stuff.”
“Stuff,” Mum repeats, raises her eyebrows. “Care to define this ‘stuff?’”
“Not particularly.” I pass her the essay, a peace offering.
She puts it on the desk behind her, not bothering to look at it. “I want to see another essay from you tomorrow. The importance of Defence Against the Dark Arts. Three thousand words. References to the Second Wizarding War. You know my story.”
I look at her, confused.
“I can’t make you care about Defence, Cassia. But maybe if you and James sat down and thought about what what the Dark Arts did to us and our world, you might realise why it matters. Tell James I expect the same from him as well, if you want to come back to class.”
I nod, preparing to make my escape.
“I haven’t dismissed you yet.”
I turn back to her. “Yeah?”
I shuffle closer and she hops off her desk and hugs me. “Whatever it is that’s troubling you, I hope you know you can talk to me. Don’t think for a moment I don’t notice when you’re upset.”
And just like that, I start blubbering into her hair telling her everything about James. Well, all about the I’m-madly-in-love-with-him-stuck-in-the-friend-zone-don’t-know-how-he-feels-don’t-want-to-ask thing, not the sex thing. No matter how close you are to your mum, there are limits to what you’re going to tell her.
“I wish I could tell you everything’s going to be okay,” Mum says eventually. “But you’re too old to fall for that line, and I’m too cynical to feed it to you.”
I love my mum. Always so positive.
“Then lie to me!” I wail.
“Okay. Any moment now, James is going to come bursting through the door, confess his undying love for you and propose. You’ll get married and live happily ever after and give me heaps of grandchildren. Happy?”
“You suck at lying,” I sniffle.
“On the contrary, I’m bloody good at it. You believed in Santa until you were twelve years old.”
“Think what you will. But anyway, Cassia, I do think you’re in with a chance. You’re his best friend, so you’re automatically the number one girl in his life.”
“Apart from his sister.”
Mum waves her hand dismissively. “Siblings don’t count.”
“By that logic, I’m your favourite daughter.”
“You are anyway,” she says matter-of-factly. “You didn’t hear that from me, though.”
“You told me I’m a nightmare.”
“You are, and you know it. A beautiful nightmare.”
“Just coz I look like you.”
“Not at all. Are you ready to face the world again?”
She summons them, along with a small bottle of some potion. “Dab this around your eyes, it gets rid of the blotchiness.”
I do so. “Mirror.”
I don’t even look like I’ve been crying, I note with some satisfaction.
“Yeah?” I turn, expecting some last word of wisdom.
“Remember that essay.”
I only have twenty minutes left of lunch, which Dom informs me will be spent wandering along the shores of the Great Lake telling her all the gory details.
“Must I?” I protest.
“Yes,” she says, seizing my arm and marching me down to said lake. She’s been dragging me round a lot today.
“So how did it happen?” she asks conversationally.
“What, were you drunk?”
“No.” Completely sober, that’s half the problem. At least if I was drunk I would have an excuse.
“Then you know.”
“I’ve blocked it from my memory. Too traumatic.”
“Traumatic?” Dom repeats. “He didn’t…force you, did he?”
“No,” I say vehemently. “Merlin, no. He wouldn’t do that.”
“Then what was so traumatic about it?”
“Dom, I saw James naked. Need I say more?”
Never mind it wasn’t actually that bad a sight. What Dom doesn’t know can’t hurt her.
“But how was it?” Dom presses.
“I am not discussing this with you,” I say firmly.
“That means you enjoyed it.”
“I thought that was the point.”
“Seriously, though? James? Didn’t see that one coming.”
I can’t help but feel a little glum that not even my best friends are aware that I’ve been madly in love with the guy for the better part of three years. In fact, the only person who does know is twelve-year-old Lily Potter after we had a heart-to-heart on the floor of Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. I was there to support her, not drowning in my own sorrows. For the record, I tend to avoid Myrtle’s floor. Most of the people who end up there are referred to the guidance counsellor as quickly as possible.
Merlin, that was only three weeks ago. And now I’ve gone The Whole Way with him and nothing about our relationship has changed. Apart from maybe the fact that he’s not talking to me.
If he regretted it, he wouldn’t have high-fived Freddy.
Why the hell did he high-five Freddy? Am I some kind of conquest to him? ‘Guess what, I got Cassia last night?’
Was it because he lost his virginity? I don’t know. I don’t know whether he did or not. He’s never told me. Best friends for six years and I don’t even know that.
He’s never had a girlfriend before, not that that means anything. Half of Hogwarts would give their right arms to get into his pants.
I did, and I still have my right arm. Ten points to Cassia.
I think Dom’s been talking for the last ten minutes, but I have no idea what she’s been saying.
“Excuse me for a second,” I say politely before running back into the castle and finding myself on the floor of Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom.
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