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Chapter 4 : Lies
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I was offered time off school, but I really didn’t think that was right, especially when I was trying to act normal. Then, I compiled a list of all the things I wanted to do before I died. Number One: Get Lily and James together.
I knew that Lily actually had feelings for James; she just didn’t want to acknowledge them. James wasn’t the type to give up, but I could tell that he was starting to get really discouraged.
We were sitting, having breakfast in the Great Hall when the post owls came swooping in. I smiled a small smile and put my plan into effect.
You see, I happened to know Lily loved a certain band that I just happened to have some magical records of. James loved the band as well, but neither of them knew.
“Oh Lils! Wait until you see what I’ve brought you!” I said brightly, as my owl, Snickers, dropped the package into my eggs.
She looked startled. “You got me something?”
I handed the package to her and she looked at me with a hesitant, you-shouldn’t-have-I-don’t-have-anything-for-you look. The boys stopped their conversation and looked over with interest and curiosity.
She opened it slowly and when she pulled the record out she squealed, making people turn around and look. Looking up at me with an awed, ecstatic look on her face, she slowly stroked the front cover.
“Tree! You shouldn’t have!” She yelled in delight.
“I’m giving it to you. I know how much you love them.” I smiled as she grabbed me in a tight hug over the table, which was surprisingly not uncomfortable.
“Wait, you like The Frontmen?” Everyone turned to look at James, who was looking at Lily, surprised.
“I love them!” She answered. “Do you know them?”
“Only the best band in the world! What’s your favourite song?” He asked, his eyes bright.
“’Someone’s Dreaming About You Tonight.’’ Lily said enthusiastically.
“Same! The acoustic piano and guitar in the beginning, and then the drum solo in the middle?Genius!”
Lily’s cheeks were growing pink in pleasure. James’ eyes were twinkling. Everyone was looking at them, shocked at the normal conversation they were having.
“Everything the band does go amazingly with Sam Lovett’s mellow, raspy voice. It’s like the band was made for him.” Lily replied and James nodded quickly.
Lily smiled bashfully and James answered with a small smile. They continued their conversation here and there, but eventually something was brought up and the conversation ended. But I’m sure everyone could feel it; a small something had changed.
James seemed normal the days following my diagnosis. He was doing a great job of hiding what he was feeling, and with me doing the same, nobody noticed anything different.
When we were in our dorm room alone, I would inwardly smile as Lily talked about how different James was from the person she thought him to be. I teased her about it, from time to time; just to make her blush.
“LILS AND JAMESY SITTING IN A TREE, K-I-S-S-I- OUCH!” I ducked as she went to hit me again with her pillow. I laughed and ran out the door, yelling while running down the stones steps, two at a time.
I tripped and fell right into Sirius’ lap. I looked up with a shocked, amused and a little embarrassed smile on my face. He was staring at me, amusement in his eyes but I stared back, and slowly that amusement turned into something different; tenderness.
I could feel the colour rise to my cheeks and then suddenly I was off Sirius and I realized the common room was all shocked and laughing. That moment with Sirius had only lasted about half of a second.
“Are you running from a Devil, Tree?” James laughed as he pulled me into the spot next to him, in the middle of him and Sirius on the couch.
“THE Devil, Jamesy. Lils started throttling me with her pillow. I was just innocently singing sweet nothing upstairs.” I brought on the innocence so heavily Remus burst out laughing and both Sirius and James snorted derisively.
“HEY! It could happen!” I said as I pouted.
“Wait- you a Lily were having a pillow fight?”
I watched as James’ and Sirius’ eyes went off into a far distant land as they envisioned Lily and me having a pillow fight, wearing god knows what.
I scowled, “All boys are the same.”
“Hey!” Remus called from the chair in the corner. I looked over at him and smiled.
“Okay, not you Remus.” I added. I mean, he was probably thinking it too, but I liked Remus so I let him off the hook.
“Moony is just as much of a pervert as I am, he just hides it better than the rest of us.” Sniffed Sirius haughtily.
“I also don’t have to change my pants every time I see a girl.” Remus added from behind his book.
I threw my head back and burst out laughing. It filled me up and my stomach muscles began to ache. I turned to look at James and found him watching me intently, laughing slightly. Behind the amused look in his eyes, there was a slight sadness.
I stared at him as I laughed and until my laughter slowly died down.
The two weeks after my diagnosis went slowly. I felt every second, every blink of an eye, every breath I took; I felt it from my head to my toes. I had seen Dumbledore around, but he had yet to speak to me, and that was okay.
Though I knew that it wouldn’t help, I went to the Muggle section of the library and found the cancer section. There was one book in all of Hogwarts library on stomach cancer.
The doctor said I had Stage 4. I looked in the book and found a diagram. I memorized the picture of the large black tumor in the pink, tender looking stomach.
My stomach was in constant pain lately. Not the stabbing pains I would sometimes have, but a dull pain that made me want to do anything to make it stop, before it drove me insane.
I was getting my pain potion one morning, and after I had taken it and left, I heard footsteps coming down the corridor behind me. I turned to see who it was and frowned. Malfoy.
“What are you, a pain potion junky?” He asked me haughtily, his eyes flashing with malice.
“Only a stupid idea like that would come from a head like yours, Malfoy.” I spat and went to continue walking.
“Watch your tone with me, Cassis. You’ll regret your words one of these days.” He caught up to me and grabbed my arm roughly. “Look at me when I’m talking to you, Traitor.”
I looked up at him with a calm, cold expression on my face. “Shove it up your ass, Malfoy.”
He squeezed me arm tighter; I could feel my arm going numb, and suddenly he released me with a shove.
“Go find your Mutts.” He sneered, before turning and walking down the corridor, disappearing around the corner.
I pulled my long sleeved Gryffindor sweater up over my head and checked my arm in the mirror later after dinner. I was startled as I realized I had big purple finger marks in my pale skin.
“Shit.” I muttered in an awestruck whisper. I quickly pulled my sweater back over my head and went downstairs where I knew everyone was already sitting in the Common Room.
As I came down the stairs, someone barreled into me and we both tumbled; whoever it was landing on my stomach, causing excruciating pain. Spots blurred my vision suddenly, but as fast as the person has landed on me, he was off me.
I looked up and James was kneeling next to me with a worried expression on his face, looking at my stomach. Sirius, who he had just picked up and thrown off me, sat slightly shocked at James.
“Can you move?” James whispered hurriedly, hovering over me as if ready to pick me up.
“Give me a second.” I muttered. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe deeply through the pain.
When the pain was back to its normal, dull self, I opened my eyes to see them all hovering over me now.
“Tree- I’m so sorry-“ Sirius began, but James cut him off.
“What the hell is wrong with you?! Can’t you be more careful?! You’re always fucking around, and you don’t care if someone gets hurt! One of these days you’re going to kill somebody!” James yelled, fury filling his face. Everyone looked frightened, including Sirius. He looked surprised and scared. James had never yelled at him before. James doesn’t yell at his friends.
James turned and stormed out of the Common Room and out the portrait door.
They all looked down at me and I got up. “It’s not your fault. It’s mine. Don’t worry about James, I’ll talk to him.” I said, giving them all a sympathetic look. I placed a hand gently on Sirius’ shoulder before turning and following James out the portrait hole.
He was sitting against the stone wall down the hall, his face in his hands. I walked over and sat beside him.
“I can’t do this.” He whispered. “Every minute of the day, all I can think about is if you’re okay. I watch as you don’t eat because it’s painful and I watch you suffer even though you’re on the highest pain potion there is. I hate knowing that it’s only going to get worse, and then you’re not going to be around anymore.” He looked up at me and there was such a deep sadness there that it broke my heart. “I’ve always protected you. You’re my sister for god sakes. But now I can’t protect you from this, and it’s killing you.”
I took my hand a put it through his hair. I know this calmed him down, and sure enough he closed his eyes and relaxed a bit.
“I’m sorry James. You shouldn’t have taken me to St. Mungo’s that day. You shouldn’t have been there for that. You wouldn’t be in this position.” I said calmly.
His eyes snapped open and shocked was in them. “You wouldn’t have told me?” He seemed a little bit angrier.
“No. I wouldn’t have.” I answered matter-of-factly. “I don’t want to see you in pain. You just yelled at your best friend because you were worried about me. I don’t ever want that James. I wouldn’t have told you to protect you from breaking down.”
“Don’t me and mom and dad deserve more than that?” He asked quietly, looking at me with a fierceness that felt like James wasn’t just looking into my eyes, but my soul.
“So you’d rather know?” I asked him, determinedly.
“I don’t know.” He whispered after a seconds pause. “I know what knowing feels like. I don’t think it could get worse. But not knowing, and then suddenly you disappearing? Either way, I’m going to be wondering for the rest of my life if it was something I did, or if I could’ve done more to help.”
“I’m dying James. Nothing you did or will do is going to change that.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes.
“I was angry at you.” He said.
“When you decided no radiation. I was angry that you weren’t fighting for life. But I thought about it, and realized maybe why you chose not to. The pain, the loss of hair, the exhaustion and losing control of your body. But it couldn’t be any of those, because those come with no radiation and you don’t have the chance of getting better, so it’s worse. Then I realized that your parents are there, not here.”
I was shocked that he had thought about this, and had come to that conclusion. “I don’t love you any less than I love them, James. I love your mom and your dad the way I would love my parents if they were here today. I’m grateful for what you’ve done for me. More than grateful. You guys saved my life. I’m not choosing them over you; never think that.” My eyes stung with tears. James thought that I wasn’t fighting because I didn’t have anything worth fighting for, and that was the farthest thing from the truth I had ever heard.
A silent agreement made it so that James yelling at Sirius never got addressed in conversation. They talk to each other like they normally would’ve, and I was glad for that; James didn’t need to lose more friends.
I joked around. I did the same things I would’ve if I wasn’t dying. We were all laughing one morning in October when the post owls came in, and Snickers dropped a letter into my lap. I opened it carefully and read it fully. I could feel my body go cold and my fingers began to shake.
I know. I want you home for Christmas.
It wasn’t signed, but I knew it was from my uncle. But he never wanted me home for Christmas which meant he was angry. Beyond angry.
I winced as I thought of the beating I would get the two weeks on holidays. It’s amazing what potions and spells can get rid of and cover up.
“What’s that?” Remus asked from across the table. I put on my brightest smile.
“My uncle wants this Christmas to just be me and him. He wants to make it special.” I said, trying to sound excited.
“That’s awesome, Tree!” James said enthusiastically.
I nodded fervently. I had to make this look real. James was going through too much right now to know this as well. Plus, my uncle was my legal guardian, who would be able to do anything?
“It’s good that he cares about you enough to take you in and make sure you get to see family during the holidays.” Remus said kindly, smiling at me.
“Yeah, I’m really lucky to have him.” I said what sounded like genuinely.
Lily grabs my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze with a little smile.
As they drew into a different conversation, I wondered if my uncle beating me would lower my life expectancy any. Would Christmas be when I die? It would be easier that way, I think. I could say goodbye to my friends when Christmas break started, and that would be our final goodbyes. Quick, easy, simple.
I thought about it. I quite liked that idea actually. It’s better than wasting away in front of them. This way, no one gets hurt except for me.
Things had gone unusually quiet when I was thinking and I snapped out of my daze realizing this.
“What?” I asked.
“I asked you if you were feeling okay.” Sirius said, concern hidden deeply in his grey eyes.
“Yeah, why?” I asked cautiously. They were all looking at me except for James, who was firmly looking at Sirius.
“You haven’t been eating much lately.” Sirius inquired. They all looked at me with questioning and curious looks on their faces.
“I guess I’m just stressed about classes and work.” I lied easily. The truth was, I was nauseous most of the time, and I couldn’t eat much. I had had a weigh in with Poppy when I went to get my pain potion yesterday morning; I had lost ten pounds in a little more than two weeks.
I got up to leave, excusing myself to go get my books, and Lily followed me.
“Hey.” She said gently. “You’re not- you know- starving yourself are you?”
I looked up at her and was sad to see that she was concerned, and she looked scared.
“No Lils, honestly. I’m just stressed.” I said, soothing her.
“Good, because you know you’re beautiful.” Lils smiled at me, relieved, and linked her arm withinmine.
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