Chapter 29 : Of hostility and heart-to-hearts
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“Hayley, darling,” her mother said gently, popping her head through the door. “There’s someone here to see you. I think you’ll find it a pleasant surprise.”
Hayley allowed her head to rise from her pillow and gasped in delight and surprise as Nicky stood in her doorway, a sympathetic smile on her face as she stared at her best friend, looking so pitiful.
“You look like hell Hayley,” Nicky informed her, a smile on her face but concern rampart in her voice. “Your mum said you haven’t got out of bed all holidays. It’s been nearly two weeks. I would’ve come to visit you earlier in the week but the healers and my parents were all rah-rah about it.”
“When did you…?” Hayley stammered, looking her up and down.
“Last week,” Nicky explained. “I just woke up, healers can’t explain it. Complex magic and that crap. They put me in with Fred, the idiot was completely out of control. He slept with Kassie.”
“He what?” Hayley exploded. “Why the fuck did he do that?”
“She convinced him that Toni cheated on him,” Nicky said grimly. “Those two have broken up and then Fred overdosed on muggle drugs, luckily he’s also out of St Mungo’s. He’s on the mend at least; I think his conscience has been alleviated by my waking up. Josh has been great as well, but apparently Molly tried to stop him being friends with us. James is furious, reckons Darren, Kassie and Molly are up to something.”
Hayley winced, whether at the mention of James or Darren, Nicky couldn’t tell. She mumbled something then slumped back into bed. Nicky went over and put an arm around her, comforting her as she resorted to sobbing again.
“Nobody’s seen Toni since the break-up,” Nicky whispered. “We were worried about her and we were hoping you could go and talk to her. After all, you’re the person she looks up to the most and the person most likely to be able to get some sort of response out of her.”
“Ha!” Hayley snorted through her tears. “She won’t want to talk to me after what I did. Nobody does, not even…”
She broke down again, unable to say his name and sobbed, punching her pillow repeatedly as Nicky rubbed her shoulder. The truth was nobody wanted to talk to her now, nobody had made any effort over the last two weeks to try and talk to her, not even her parents. Nicky was the first person to make any sort of attempt.
“Toni will get over it. Everyone will get over it,” Nicky explained. “I’m already over it. You did what you had to do in order to help him and he of all people will understand that, you just need to give the idiot time, he’ll take you back with open arms.”
“I almost kissed him.”
Hayley couldn’t believe she’d said it out loud, but she had. She hadn’t told anyone and judging by the look on Nicky’s face, nobody had told her either. She opened and shut her mouth a couple of times, before shaking Hayley gently, squealing.
“That’s amazing Hayls, you two are made for each other,” Nicky laughed, stopping when she saw the murderous and depressed look on Hayley’s face. “Or not?”
“I could never kiss him!” Hayley said in a strangled voice. “He’s James! Even if he was talking to me, which he isn’t, he’s my best friend and I could never love him in that way. And then even if I did, we’re fucking related, yes it’s a loose connection and more of a technicality than anything else, but it’s still there. What am I supposed to do Nicky? I can’t like him in that way and if anything this almost kiss has made things worse.”
“You need to get the truth out of him,” Nicky smiled quietly. “You two can fix things, I know it.”
Nicky stayed for a while but then her parents wanted her home and Hayley returned to wallowing back in her pit of despair. It took all of her parents’ best efforts just to get her out of bed and on the Hogwarts Express. As soon as she was on the train, Hayley realised she was better off at home in bed, where at least she wasn’t being shot nasty looks by everyone she saw. Every compartment she passed, its occupants snarled at her, glaring or shaking their heads as if she was the most horrific human being alive. She hadn’t seen the Prophet headlines about her before, but people were happy to show her through the glass, calling her James’ Black Angel, picturing her as demonically as it could. Even the idea that she and James could be seen as a team made her want to cry again and there were few looks of sympathy, even the first and second years seemed terrified of her. She spotted James’ sister Lily who shot her a sympathetic smile but nothing else.
Other members of the clan were more judging and although Dom looked sympathetic towards her, the Scamander twins who she was sat with clearly weren’t and even Rose looked sceptical. Eventually, Hayley found Nicky but lo and behold, she was sat with the boys. Josh, Fred and the other one. She couldn’t bear to even stop by the compartment and assess the situation, fear of what James might say to her driving her on until she found a compartment that was completely empty. She settled down inside it and went back to sobbing, her baseline ever since that fateful day when James Potter had destroyed their friendship.
“You’re a horrible person,” Toni whispered, her lips connecting with Darren’s for one last time, before she rolled over and went to sleep. It was the day before she was to return to Hogwarts and unlike Darren, she was still planning to return, if only to attempt to reconcile herself and pull her life back together. Darren waited until she was fast asleep before he slipped out of bed and headed up the stairs, locking the basement behind him. He met Kassie in the lounge; she had been waiting for him. She smiled as he entered and kissed him seductively. Despite the fact they had both had sex with others for the purposes of their plan, and they had no strong feelings for each other, they were enjoying each other as a means of having fun beyond their plan.
“Well?” Kassie asked, never taking her arms away from Darren’s neck where they were wrapped. “What’s her next move?”
“She wants to return to Hogwarts,” Darren explained, a hint of disappointment in his voice. “I was hoping she’d stay of her own accord but then I guess making the transition from inviting her in to holding her hostage was one I was always going to have to make. You can head back if you want, establish yourself at that end or you can stay here and help me down this end.”
“I’ll go back, but I’ll stay in close contact and I’ll join you once the next step has been achieved,” Kassie purred. “I’d like to keep a close eye on things back at Hogwarts. I don’t want things to be out of our control.”
“Believe me babe,” Darren whispered. “Everything is completely under control.”
James was remarkably good at putting up a front. That much was clear for everyone to see. The idea that he could be happy, cheerful and even joking without Hayley was one that couldn’t even be considered and yet here he was, doing just that. Despite the fact he had good reason to be cheery, after all, two of his closest friends were both out of St Mungo’s and were patching things up, pulling it all together, it was obviously to anyone who knew him that it was all a façade. James was miserable, beyond miserable without his best friend, it took no level of effort to spot that. People reacted differently to him, some sympathetic, others spiteful, but he took little notice. There was no universal hatred, like the one of Hayley and he thought nothing of it as he went about his daily life. The others all knew he was struggling and this changed the dynamic of the group considerably. Fred especially, was gloomy and once it became apparent that Toni was not at the feast, he became increasingly stressed in his attempts to find her. Once he had established she wasn’t on the Marauder’s Map, he began to worry more and checked out the Room of Requirement, with no luck. He became distant again, but Josh and James did their utmost to try and keep him involved, the last thing they needed was another spiral.
Nicky was still adjusting to life back at Hogwarts as herself and she was flourishing, finally able to be herself with no ramifications. People warmed to her at the least, glad to see she was okay. Dom made a huge attempt to patch things up with her and Nicky responded well, all thoughts of a feud with the blonde forgotten as she and Josh worked to pick things up again. This was at the least a slow process and for the time being at least, they were happy just to remain friends, not wanting to rush into anything that had caused them so many problems the first time round.
It seemed as though, at the least amongst the group and definitely in front of James, nobody mentioned Hayley. James himself was determined not to talk to her, knowing that only bad things could come of that. Teddy’s advice was still ringing in his ears but despite that, he couldn’t bring himself to talk to his former best friend, who so little time ago had thought the world of him.
“You are a moody bastard.”
James looked around. He was sat on his bed, having thought he was alone in his dorm before the voice had interrupted his quiet, moping evening. He found himself facing a short blonde with dazzling blue eyes. She looked concerned but despite that, she was smiling, having positioned herself so she was stood at the head of his bed. As James gestured, Dom sat beside him, looking at him as if to pick his mind. He remained silent.
“Oh come on, if Hayley called you a moody bastard, she’d have been wrestled to the floor by now, what makes me not good enough to incur your violence?” Dom teased, but seeing him wince at this knew she had taken the wrong tack. “I know you’ve been through a lot James, especially with that slut Kassie but you know she’s the best thing you got going.”
“Nobody understands,” James smiled sadly, not talking to Dom but to the room itself in general. “This isn’t about Kassie, this was never about Kassie. She made an attempt to ensure I stayed in her life forever, it failed. That’s all there is to it and Hayley saved me on that front. I owe her for that. But I can’t go on like this anymore. I can’t go on pretending that she’s my best friend and its purely platonic and that everything can just be normal with us. I’d rather spare us the trouble and pain of what would happen if we tried to fix things, and just move on whilst the wounds are still fresh, without letting them heal over and then inflicting them again.”
“James, what are you talking about?” Dom muttered softly. When he ignored her, she tried again, putting her arm around him and hugging him. “You know, I always kind of envied you James. You had it all. A best friend who loved you, good friends, you were able to get any girl you wanted. I wanted to have your confidence, your skill, your friendship.”
“You’ve got Rose,” James smiled. “You two click on just about every level.”
“Yeah but Rose is a girl,” Dom smiled. “I’ve never felt that boy/girl dynamic that makes life so fun. I’ve never really connected to many boys before either, even if I managed to start something with Josh, only for that to be ripped away from me. James you have something that most people…they can’t even dream of having it. I don’t understand how you can just throw that away, after everything you two have been through. She still loves you and I know you still love her.”
“Love?” James gave a choking laugh. “She doesn’t love me, as much as you and Teddy and everyone else might fantasize it. The one thing she can never do is love me and that is the worst thing of all. The one thing that could possibly save this friendship and she can’t do it. Not that I blame her, but come on! How can I be expected to fix things knowing that the only thing we ever had going for us was mutually feelings? I’ve ruined this friendship by falling for her and I can’t stop that from being the end. This is it Dom, we’re finished.”
“You don’t believe that,” Dom replied gently as James began to sob. “You really don’t.”
“If you ever find someone Dom,” James said, holding it together but barely. “Never let them go. Make every moment count and just keep fighting for it. Because the truth is, you never know when a single spanner in the works can ruin everything and you just have to enjoy every second to ensure that you’ve drained the relationship dry by the time that spanner comes. Or you’ll regret it for the entirety of your life, I can promise you that.”
Hayley was feeling more subdued than ever. Everything felt like it was falling apart and she had nobody to lean on. So when naturally it felt like things couldn’t get any worse, she almost wanted to laugh when she saw Kassie approaching her, a wicked smile on her face and a letter in her hand. Hayley had been enjoying an almost bearable morning out by the lake, undisturbed by the pain in her life, until she had been interrupted. The sheer thought that things could take a downhill spiral at this stage almost filled her up with joy were it not so depressingly tragic.
“What do you want Kassie?” Hayley asked, in a blunt monotonous voice. “Because to be honest, I think I’ve had enough of you ruining everything for one lifetime.”
“Just when you think you’ve heard it all,” Kassie snarled. “The queen of ruining lives comes out with a statement like that. You must think you’re something special Hayley, but in truth you’re nothing. Especially now Potter wants nothing to do with you. I do however, have a note for you.”
Hayley took it apprehensively and opened it, the familiar writing not nearly as chilling as the picture that slipped out of the parchment. To avoid looking at the image, she turned her attention to the narrow, slit-like writing.
It’s almost a shame that everything has to end this way between us, we could’ve been great together. I mean we had some good times and what-not. But enough nostalgia, I’ll be seeing you in the flesh, touching you in the flesh soon enough. No doubt you’re squirming but think of it this way, who would you rather was squirming, you or Toni? I know you two are friends, you no doubt care for her so if you know what is good for her, you will go with my kind assistant Kassandra now. She will bring you to me and Toni will appear unharmed, with no memory of me. Join me Hayley, for the fun and games, or Toni will be the one being played with. Oh and as for Potter, don’t worry, he’ll have his role to play too. I know you care so much for him and yet so little for me. That will change. See you soon darlin’.
Lots of love, Darren.
There was something so maddening, so frustrating about what Hayley had read, that she thought against picking up the picture. And yet Kassie’s smile told her it was unavoidable. She picked up the image and tears came to her. Toni was tied to a bed, handcuffed and screaming, as Darren popped in and out of the frame, laughing manically. It was more than Hayley could bear. She dropped it in an instant and looked at Kassie, all the pain and sadness in her eyes replaced by an unstoppable hatred, a feeling so intense it took all her control not to snap Kassie’s neck there and then.
“Now you see, your options are limited,” Kassie mocked. “So why don’t we take a little trip Hayls? Darren can’t wait to see you and it promises to be the most fun I’ve had since Fred.”
“I’ll kill you,” Hayley promised, staring the girl in the eyes. “And it’ll be the most fun I’ve had since James. He always did and to this day loves me more than you, even if we never speak again.”
The words were the only weapon she had, the only thing she could think, say or do which could even dent Kassie’s smooth face and utter control over the situation. Her face darkened and she slapped Hayley hard across the face, causing her to stumble back. She didn’t give Kassie any sign of weakness; she merely stared back angrily, unable to move she was so furious.
“Let’s go,” Kassie hissed and the two girls stood, walking side by side, together yet very much apart, out of the front gates of the school, wherein they linked arms, and disapparated.
A/N: Well well, how about that for a cliffhanger? Will James save Hayley and Toni? Or will he continue to be a monumental arse? Well I planned two different ideas based on different outcomes, and I'll leave you to wait and see which one I go for ;) Quick update, I'm two chapters into LP5 and a shoutout to my Beta and of course, you guys, thanks for reading :) HP
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