Chapter 9 : Monster
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Fidgety is probably the most accurate word to describe me at the moment. So fidgety, in fact, that my brain is in a right whirl. I’m having a hard time remembering the difference between euphemisms and dysphemisms—not the best way to get on a teacher’s good side, let me tell you. I won’t go into detail on some of the words I’ve been using today as I don’t want to scar your more than likely innocent mind.
You know what they say, after all; when you eat dog poop, you throw up but when your mind eats dog poop it won’t because minds are incapable of throwing up . . .
Yeah, I actually don’t know where I was going with that. Why would you even eat dog poop in the first place?
But I digress.
There are two main reasons why I’m so fidgety right now. One; the fact that I am going on a date with my best friend and two-year-long crush. And two; the fact that Malfoy is taking Rose (presumably for some ulterior motive)on said date and has been keeping his perverted mouth shut all day. Also, I’ve been holding in my pee for a while now and I really got to go.
But that is completely beside the point.
“You don’t find this fishy at all?” I asked James in Transfiguration. Thankfully, Professor Cook wasn’t present so I was free to speak to James and not feel like I was talking to a brainless dummy that’s got it bad for the prissy Barbie doll.
James’ head popped up at my remark, “Why, Eliza! I do believe that you just used the term ‘fishy’ in a negative manner!”
My eyes popped, “Crap, you’re right! Paul, please forgive me! Even though I’ll probably never tell you about this . . . I-I’m too ashamed.”
James rolled his eyes at my stupidity—which was quite the reversal of roles, if you ask me—and spoke quietly, “But anyways, I see what you’re saying. Anyone with eyes can see that Malfoy’s got it bad for you—well, except Rose—so I don’t really know what he’s trying to achieve by dating your best friend. Maybe he’s moved on.”
I eyed him momentarily as he leaned back, his parchment over his book so that he could write in his new comfortable position. “You’re acting extremely cavalier about all of this, James. Does it not mean anything to you that she’s your cousin?” I said, raising an eyebrow.
He shrugged, “The only people I care about scaring the boys away from are you and Lily.”
How touched I was was unfortunately drowned out by how frustrated I was with his indifference, “Even when you know she’s going to get hurt?”
“Actually,” He cut in, smirking, “We don’t know that.”
“Are you kidding me!?” I whispered incredulously, “He was wiggling his eyebrows at me this morning!”
“I could have sworn he was aiming that at Rose . . .”
“No! It was definitely aimed towards me.”
“You know, I get this feeling that you’re only acting like this because a guy is more interested in Rose than he is with you . . . even if it is Malfoy.”
“Yes!” I insisted, inflamed that he would even suggest such a stupid idea. It almost makes me think that James believes me to be an attention whore. Like I couldn’t go two seconds without being the center of attention.
I sighed, crossing my arms and burying my face into them. Once I resurfaced I gave James the puppy dog eyes, “Why is it so irrational to be on my side right now? My accusations are perfectly reasonable.” I quivered my lip a little to up the cuteness factor.
“Yes, they are,” He agreed.
How is he so freaking calm right now!?
“Then what the heck, James?” I asked haughtily, throwing my cute charade to hell.
“I think we should just see where it takes them.” He shrugged, whipping his head so that his hair wasn’t in his eyes anymore. It reminded me of that muggle star Rose showed me . . . Justin Beaver? . . . Yeah, that guy.
“That’s what I thought would be the best approach too,” I informed him, rolling my eyes, “Yesterday. Now that I’ve had time to think this all through, realization hit me that it’s an incredibly stupid idea. Rose could get her heart broken!”
“And what if she doesn’t?”
I blinked, unsure of what to say. I thought I could debate anything he threw at me, but I hadn’t even stopped to think about this.
“Mister Potter, Miss Goodbody!” McGonagall scorned from the front of the room, “Pay attention, you baboons!”
Once McGonagall went back to teaching, James leaned towards me and said in a lowered voice, “For all we know, good could come out of this. Rose has been in love with that boy since she’s laid eyes on him. This is her chance, Eliza. Just like it’s your chance for my brother. You wouldn’t take that away from her, would you?”
I didn’t have an answer for that either.
It was a beautiful day out today, and I’d usually find myself down by the lake with Rose or Al. But instead, here I sat in the common room, staring blankly into the fire. Why is it even lit right now? It’s like four in the afternoon. Not that I’m complaining—it at least gives me something to stare at.
The dying embers are sort of how I feel right now. Yes, I shifted from fidgety to feeling like a wheezing, fragile, burnt piece of wood. James has really got me thinking—I know, what a shocker—and I’m starting to think . . . well, I really don’t know what I’m starting to think. Which scares me. Sure, I act on impulse and do stupid stuff but at least I know what it is I want. Right now, I’m not so sure.
Do I really crave attention more than my best friend’s happiness? Yes. Is it so hypocritical to want my happy ending and tell Rose she can’t because her happy ending involves a big fat jerk? Yes. Am I a horrible friend? Sometimes, yes. Should I tell Rose about Malfoy when it will confirm all of the above? Yes. Do I want to? No freaking way.
“Hey,” I felt the couch sink next to me and a warm hand on my shoulder. Who I saw took me by complete surprise.
“Hey, Hugo?” The way I said it made it sound like a question.
“I’m surprised to see you here,” He said, ignoring my questioning looks and removing his hand from my shoulder, “Usually you’re outside with my sister and Al being a complete spaz.”
“And you’re usually out there too, rolling your eyes at my antics but secretly loving it.”
He laughed but it died down quickly when he noticed that my own laugh was halfhearted. The hand he removed soon returned, this time around my waist as he pulled me close for a hug. It was unexpected, especially from Hugo, but I accepted it nonetheless, weaving my arms around his own waist. He put his other hand on my head and gently pushed it into the crook of his neck.
“Are you okay, Eliza?” He asked into my hair.
I nodded into his shirt.
“I think you might be lying to me.” He told me, “You look like Paul just died . . . but without the tears.”
I rolled my eyes, “I’m okay. Really.”
He pulled back a little and shook his head at me, “You’re like a sister to me, Eliza. I think I’d know when something is wrong.” That took me a little off guard. I guess what Al told me in the summer was right after all. His family really did think me to be a part of it.
I sighed, diving my head back into his embrace, “Hugo? If Rose and I got into a fight . . . you wouldn’t take sides would you?”
He pulled back again, this time so that he was holding my shoulders arms-length away. His eyes squinted, like he was trying to think of what I could possibly mean by that, “Why would you ask that Eliza?”
“Because there’s something I have to tell her,” I said slowly, “. . . It’s not news that she’s going to take well, and I’m afraid that a lot of your family will hate me for it.”
“Oh,” There was silence for a little before he continued, “Well I can’t testify for the rest of my family, but I promise that I won’t hate you.”
“Pinky promise?” I asked, holding out said extremity.
He hooked his pinky with mine and I smiled a true genuine smile, ruffling his hair and laughing out loud. The Weasley family is a lucky family. And I’m lucky just knowing them, even luckier to be considered a part of it by some. As long as there are those who don’t, like Dom, then I’ll never feel quite like I belong in it, but this is enough for now.
“Aren’t you just so flipping excited, Eliza?” Rose inquired for the thousandth time, shaking my shoulder violently as we strolled on down to the Great Hall for breakfast. It was finally Saturday. Hogsmeade day. The day. And I’ve been trying to not be bitter, “Scorpius has been telling me that he couldn’t wait for today. He also has been telling me that Al couldn’t wait either!”
“Has he?” I commented rather sardonically.
It’s not really working, this whole ‘bitter-free’ attempt.
We made it to our table, and I started piling food on my plate like a zombie. I was in my own little world, for the most part. I had too much on my mind. Today we had our date with Al and Malfoy and I still haven’t told Rose about Malfoy’s apparently old perverted ways. I’m scared out of my wits on this one. Rose and I act like we can’t stand each other sometimes but I don’t want her to really hate my guts. Rose is not only my best friend, but also my common sense. I’d be lost without her. But I know that I have to do this. I owe it to her to be a good friend and tell her the truth.
“Listen Rose,” I started, still unsure of what I was going to say or even how I was going to say it. It was like my lips had acted on their own and started making my thoughts into words without my brain’s consent, “I’ve got to talk to you about something—”
“What do you think you ladies are doing?” Came Malfoy’s annoying voice, snapping me out of my dazed state and interrupting my near confession. Behind him walked Al, rolling his eyes at his friend. Malfoy had dressed up, just like Rose had. I noted that Al decided to keep it casual, dressing in jeans and a simple blue t-shirt. I smiled. We think the same.
“We were . . . about to eat, actually.” I stated.
“Not anymore you’re not!” He exclaimed, taking Rose’s elbow in his hand and pulling her away from the table, “We are having an all day date. Breakfast included. In Hogsmeade . . . so let’s hurry before things start getting busy down there.”
He walked off with Rose, leaving Al and I alone. We both sighed.
“Those blueberry pancakes look really good . . .”
“Malfoy is going to drain me of all my money . . .”
I hid it pretty good, but in the back of my mind I was having a mental breakdown . . . My chance to come clean to Rose just walked off with a git in tow. I gulped. Now she was going to hate me even more.
For breakfast we went to a small pub that was, for the most part, empty. I wasn’t sure if the emptiness was due to the time of the day or how expensive the food cost. Either way, I heard Al curse next to me when he opened up the menu.
I leaned towards him, “I can still pay, you know.”
Al jumped, turning his head towards me and raising his eyebrows in accusation, “Why would you ever need to do that? Calm down, Liza. It’s not that expensive.’
I laughed, having never seen him this way towards me. I knew the boy was stingy, but not this stingy, “Fiiine. I’ll just get the steak then.”
He cursed again, “For breakfast? Are you sure you don’t want scrambled eggs? Or the even cheaper, pancakes?”
I continued laughing and elbowed him in the side playfully. People who are easy to mess with, like Al, are extremely fun to—you know—mess with. He still looked a little worried, so I’m not sure if he caught the fact that I’m teasing. I figured I’d keep this up—for suspense, of course, not because it’s funny.
A waitress came to our table, a pad of paper and a quill floating behind her. She smiled politely, “Can I get you drinks?”
Rose and Scorpius asked for butterbeer and then she turned to Al and me.
“We’ll both have water,” He said, smiling. I elbowed him, this time not in a friendly manner. He raised his eyebrows incredulously at me, “What?” He asked, “It’s the only things that’s free on this stinking menu!”
“Whatever,” I replied, rolling my eyes.
The waitress left with a strange look on her face. I bet she was contemplating whether or not we were sane. As she left I glanced from Scorpius to Rose, just now noticing how they seemed to be in their own little world. I guess I was too caught up in teasing Al that I forgot about them . . . it’s almost as if Al and I were our own little world.
The thought gave me butterflies.
The fact that Malfoy was in his own little world with my best friend stirred a monster inside me that devoured those butterflies and started tearing away at the lining of my stomach.
I leaned close to Al so I could whisper in his ear, almost rigidly, “D’you reckon he’s planning something?”
Al shook his head, the action causing his jaw to lightly collide with my nose and the butterflies returned temporarily to fight way the monster. I blushed and backed a few inches away from him, “It’s really hard to tell. I think he’s being genuine . . .” He spoke smoothly, as if he hadn’t noticed the brief—almost intimate—contact we shared.
“Short time for him to change his mind.” I was mildly surprised that I could speak without stuttering like an idiot.
“That’s why it’s hard to tell, dear Eliza.”
I slouched back in my seat, glancing from Rose to Scorpius and urgently wishing for him to be sincere. I’d still have to tell her everything and she’d hate me for the rest of eternity, but at least what she would have with this boy would be true. And then maybe she could pick up the pieces of the heart he threw to the ground and she could be happy.
But there was a part of me that was nagging about this. If Malfoy weren’t anything but a big fraud, then Rose would probably be more understandable. It’d be easier for her to move on. She’d forgive me and Malfoy would be out of our hair. But she wouldn’t be able to piece her heart back together.
It was that part of me that denied everything James had said yesterday.
After breakfast, Malfoy concluded that it was time to go shopping and Albus concluded that Malfoy could go to hell. I reassured him that he wouldn’t have to buy me anything, but he remained unconvinced. I rolled my eyes and told him that we could even wait outside the shops while Rose and Scorpius went in—that way I wouldn’t be tempted to get anything.
So we sat down on a bench while Rose dragged Malfoy into a book shop.
“Are you having fun?” Al asked me, knocking his knee into mine jokingly.
“Tons,” I remarked, staring off into the distance.
Al shifted so that he was turned towards me and when I turned my head to see what was up I was surprised by the intense look in his eyes. So quietly that I’m not entirely sure if I heard him, he questioned, “Are you . . . uncomfortable, Eliza?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, sincerely unsure of what he was talking about.
“You seem so distant . . .” He trailed off, “Is this awkward for you?”
“Is what awkward for me?”
“Being here, on a date . . . with me,” He added the last part almost coyly.
“Of course not!” I cried, as what he was saying finally registered in my head, “This is—” This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I was fourteen, “—really, really fun.”
“You don’t really seem like you’re having a lot of fun.”
I sighed, leaning into his side and putting my head on his shoulder like I always do when I need comfort. In turn, he wrapped an arm around my shoulders as if on instinct, “I just have a lot on my mind,” I told him, “My brain’s never been so conflicted in my entire life. You’ve seen them, Rose and Scorpius! She’s just so happy.”
“Then what’s the problem?” He gave my shoulder a light squeeze as if that would prod the answer out of me faster.
“That’s exactly the problem, Al.” I said, not wanting to look up at him and keeping my sight towards my shoes, “She’s happy! And you know all about him; he forcibly kissed me in third year, for crying out loud! I just—”
“Wait,” Al cut through, immediately stiffening, “He what?”
“Oh,” I offered lamely as I watched his knuckles turn white, “I, uh . . . never told you about that?”
“I’m going to kill him.” He stated with conviction, he started to stand up, but I tried with all my might—and succeeded—to make him sit down beside me again, “Let go, Eliza! I’m going to bloody murder that git!”
“No,” I told him, smacking his arm as hard as I could, “You’re not. That was three years ago, Al. Besides, that’s not important right now.” His body wouldn’t soften, so I continued, “Well . . . actually it is—but not in the way you think!” I added hurriedly as he began to stand up again, “It’s just . . . I have to tell her about him. And when I do . . . she won’t be happy anymore.”
Finally, his body softened and his arm returned to around my body, “Don’t worry, Eliza. It’ll all work out in the end. I understand why you’re worried but . . . you’ve got me to help you through. And I don’t want you to ever forget that.” He was still partially stiff, and I hoped that he wouldn't try to kill Malfoy on this date. That would sure put a damper on things.
“You won’t hate me for ruining everything for Rose?” I asked, a fierce stinging suddenly overbearing my eyes like I was on the verge of tears.
“You haven’t done a thing, Liza,” He told me, “And I know that. So why would I hate you?”
“I don’t know . . .” I muttered, “I just thought you would.”
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
Silence fell over us as he comforted me. And, you know, he was doing a pretty good job at it. The longer I was in his arms, the more my worries melted away and the calmer I felt. My mind finally felt at peace.
“Did he really kiss you?”
I sighed, “Yeah.”
Something about that made him troubled. More troubled than it usually would, I mean. I was about to ask him what was wrong, but Rose and Malfoy emerged from the store with shopping bags and demanded we get off our butts so we could follow them to the next store. I had a feeling that the rest of today was going to be like this.
And I was right.
Except not really, because now it really was awkward.
Al hadn’t a clue what he should say, or I think so judging by the way he’s looking at everything around him but me. And I sure as hell didn’t want to begin a conversation. I’d probably let spill how Malfoy also tried sticking his tongue down my throat back in third year. That’d just be a great topic of discussion, wouldn’t it?
So it continued like this—even through lunch. He just sat there, staring at his hands. No matter what I did, he wouldn’t say a thing to me. I even bought the most expensive thing on the menu! He didn’t even flinch.
Oh, Merlin. I think I broke him.
“Albus,” I said, giving in and talking to him in fear that it might drive me insane. I used a stern tone, meaning I meant business. I even used his full name, “You can’t give me the silent treatment for the rest of the day. I don’t even know what I did wrong!”
“Hmm?” He asked, seemingly just coming out of a trance.
I smacked my forehead.
“You’re not ignoring me, are you?”
“Ignoring you?” He asked, “Oh, Merlin! Eliza, I’m sorry! I never meant to ignore you. I was just thinking is all.” The food came at that moment and he paused, waiting politely for the waitress to leave. He then eyed my food, however, “Steak? Really? You couldn’t have shared the chicken tenders with me? Merlin, I doubt I’ll be able to survive through dinner!”
I rolled my eyes, relieved that he didn’t find me disgusting because Malfoy had kissed me.
The silence that enveloped the two of us was no longer awkward, but comfortable and I felt a smile spread across my face.
It didn’t last long, however.
“Rose,” Malfoy’s voice carried from across the table. I was too busy worrying over Al and everything else that I had completely tuned them out up until now, “Have I told you that you look beautiful yet?” She giggled, nodding.
Malfoy noticed and looked up, catching my eyes. Rose, still giggling, began to pay some attention to her food. While she began cutting up her chicken breast and while Al was looking the other way, Malfoy sent me a wink and then put his arm around my best friend. I couldn’t hold back the disgusted gasp that erupted from my lungs and the entire table, save for the git diagonal to me, sent me strange looks.
“What’s wrong, Eliza?” Rose inquired innocently.
I wanted to scream what was really wrong at her, so that she could run away now and be fine. But instead I flicked the green leaves in the bowl in front of me with my finger and muttered, “They put onions in the salad.”
Beside me, Al sent me a knowing look and put his hand on my shoulder.
“It’s nothing,” I whispered to him, but what I really meant by that was I’ll tell you later. And I knew that he knew what I meant.
“So tell me what happened.” Al demanded as Rose and Malfoy left to do more shopping—for Merlin’s sakes, how much shopping can they do in a day!? I marched off towards the Shrieking Shack, not really in the mood to be around all these people.
“He’s using her!” I cried, infuriated, “I don’t know why and I don’t know what for, but he’s definitely using her!” I huffed and puffed, becoming winded by the fast pace I was walking at, “The git!” I exclaimed, “He’s actually got the nerve to put his arm around Rose and then wink at me! Who the hell does he think he is, anyways?”
“Whoa!” Al interrupted, putting his hands up to indicate for me to slow down, “He did what now?”
“Winked at me!” I stated, “While on a date with another girl—and not just any girl! Our best friend, Al!”
“Okay,” He retorted angrily, “Now can I kill him?”
He began to storm off but I held him back, “But not right now, you dunderhead!”
“Because I want to help!”
“I can handle it, Eliza.” He told me, finality present in his voice, “I mean, first he kisses you, and then he uses my cousin; I’m going to kill that motherf—”
“Why does it bother you so much that he kissed me, Al?” I asked, finally voicing my inquiries from earlier. He froze, as if he wasn’t expecting the question at all. He seemed to momentarily forget the fact that he was on a rampage to kill one of his good friends.
“I don’t know . . . It just does.” He looked down and then placed his hands on my shoulders, “I just get this burning feeling in my stomach every time I think about it.”
“Why would it matter?”
He hesitated and looked into my eyes before answering, penetrating them, “I guess I’ve always been glad that you’ve hated Scorpius’ guts. The thought of you two . . . I just can’t take it. And to find that he’s actually kissed you . . .” He trailed off; he’s been doing that a lot today, “Maybe I became jealous.” Every second I looked up into his big green eyes, it seemed like he was getting closer and closer.
“Jealous?” I questioned, confused and mildly distracted. He was sliding his hand from my shoulder to my neck and suddenly I couldn’t think straight, “Why would you be jealous?” We were merely inches apart.
“You tell me.”
My body felt like it was about to explode in anticipation. There wasn’t anyone else around. No Malfoy. No Rose. Just me and Al. Or at least I think so. My brain’s gone all fuzzy and I think my vision might have gone screwy. He was so close to me, but it must have been my imagination. Our noses couldn’t possibly be skimming across each other’s, and there was no way that was his hand on my neck.
No, my mind must be playing tricks on me.
But no matter how many times I blinked to clear away my vision, he didn’t disappear. He was still there, his face close to mine—and getting closer—and his green eyes half closed. Mine, on the other hand, opened wide as realization struck. This is real. It's happening. But just because it's real doesn't mean it will last.
I’ve been in love with this guy for two years and this is all I’ve ever wanted from him. And yet, after one date with him, I’m starting to grasp things I’ve never comprehended before. It was as if time—always flying by at top speeds—had decelerated to a stroll and I was walking with it. The war inside my body raged on. As I glanced from his full lips to his completely closed eyes, something clicked and time was no longer on my side.
Right as he was going to brush his lips against mine, I sighed, backing away slightly.
“Al?” I asked tentatively.
His eyes opened slowly, but he did not lower the arm that had snuck around my waist or the hand on my neck. He seemed almost dazed.
“Do you . . . like me?”
It was a simple question with a simple answer and yet I felt my body doing complex things in reaction to it. I was nervous, shy even. I’ve never felt so insecure in my entire life. And it was all because of one silly question.
“Of course I like you, Eliza.” He pressed his forehead against mine; I pulled away again.
“But as . . . more than your friend?” I bit my lip.
This seemed to stir something in him. He pulled away more, shifting his arms so that his hands now rested on my elbows so that there would finally be space between us. The look on his face was one of deep contemplation.
“I’m . . . not sure,” He finally admitted.
I sighed again.
“Do you like me?” He asked.
“Of course I like you, Al.”
He rolled his eyes, “As more than a friend?” He was mocking me.
I couldn’t take it anymore; I smacked him upside the head.
“Hey! What was that for?” He cried indignantly, rubbing his head where I had hit him.
“For being an oblivious idiot!” I stated, backing away so that there were two feet separating us and crossing my arms across my chest, “Anyone with eyes knows that I’ve liked you since fourth year!” He opened his mouth to speak but I cut him off, “Listen, Al; all I’ve ever wanted was your attention, any attention that I could get—I mean, you know how I am! I don’t just flirt with tons of guys because I’m a dirty whore—”
“I never thought you were a dirty whore,” He told me, pushing his eyebrows together as if he were angry that I thought so lowly of myself.
I ignored him, “But I am an attention whore. We were best friends and stuff, and I thought I was okay with that. At least we hung out and we laughed together and I was the one making you laugh and stuff but . . . I don’t know. Lately I’ve been craving for more—affection, and all that sappy stuff. And well, here you are.”
“But?” He knew there was something holding me back, he just wasn’t sure what it was.
“But it’s not real!” I exclaimed, throwing my hands up in the air, “You just told me that you don’t know if you have feelings for me or not and, as of two seconds ago, I realized that that’s what’s important. Emotion.” I looked up at him through my bangs and was glad to see his features click like he understood where I was coming from, “If you kissed me now, we’d wake up tomorrow and just be friends again. I don’t want that, Al.”
He sighed, “I don’t either.”
I froze, “What are you saying?”
He shrugged, as if it were obvious, “You hold a special place in my heart, Eliza. I’m just trying to piece together what it all means. Because, you’re right. I don’t know if I really do like you. But I know that I have the potential to. After all, you’re one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever met.” So what James said over the summer is true—he does find me attractive, “I’ll try my hardest to figure this out . . . but right now . . . we have a Malfoy’s murder to plot.”
He offered me his hand and, smiling, I took it. We walked away from the Shrieking Shack and back towards the village. And like best friends, we swung our hands dramatically back and forth between our bodies and laughed.
*A/N: Sorrysorry for taking forever. I was sort of waiting for a burst of imagination to write this chapter and when none came, I just sort of started writing, hoping something would make it's way out of my brain and into words. Finally, it came! It was glorious, it was awesome, it was this chapter. And it was long! Is it a little sad that this is my first time reaching over 5000 words on a single chapter? But I'm not all that surprised. I felt like this chapter has essay sized paragraphs. But anywho, I hope you enjoyed it!
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