Chapter 33 : Stunned
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That was my only thought as I knelt down behind the toppled over table, safe from the shuddering booms and sparks of spell-light drizzling over me. Eyes squeezed shut, spewing a wonderful stream of profanities under my breath, I clutched my hands into fists and furiously cursed the existence of Lincoln Logs.
Yes. You heard me. Lincoln Logs. Every person has their special downfall. Achilles and his heel. Superman and kryptonite.
You know - those stupid, toy little pieces of wood that, as a kid, you stack on top of each other to build houses and shit? Yeah. Maybe if I hadn’t spent my nerdy childhood being so fucking obsessed with Lincoln Logs, I could have instead mastered the art of sitting in front of a playstation and dousing myself in video game violence and gore. If I only could have been a normal kid, maybe just the teensiest better at Kung-Fu Korner III, then I’d be better equipped to handle this situation.
I mean, I’d have better reflexes, for one. Everyone knows video games hones your reflexes. And trust me, that could come in handy for all the - oh, I don’t know - dodging PIECES OF BROKEN CEILING THAT FALL THROUGH THE AIR AND TRY TO DECAPITATE YOU going on at the moment. Yes, thanks to the massive fighting that’s tearing up the ballroom, this fun activity has apparently become the new party game. It’s all the rage at the finest balls. Pass the parcel is no longer good enough. Now, it’s ‘run and leap around like a samurai while trying not to get pancaked by jagged bits of building.’
So, yeah, maybe if I’d had my coordination skills honed as a child via Wiztendo, I’d be able to go out into the battle and find my friends and family instead of cowering behind a table.
Fucking Lincoln Logs.
Next, this would be a shit-to-the-load less scarier if I had been desensitized as a kid. Once you’re exposed to the vivid horrors and zombie-bloodshed-galore of video games when you’re twelve, everything else doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Not even what appears to be a massive earthquake/rhino stampede/rebirth of the Greatest Evil Wizard of All Time happening at a Christmas ball.
And lastly: thumb strength. If only I’d spent my earlier years jabbing buttons on a plastic controller, the muscles in my hands would be strong enough to perform the most necessary duty at a time like this: finding James Sirius Potter’s neck, wrapping my fingers around it, and wringing away.
Because the pricking frick had abandoned me. Without so much as a ‘see ya, sucker!’ he’d detached his face from my lips and got up and left. Just like that.
I mean, honestly. I know the kid received the famous hero’s complex that’s been passed down from every male Potter since the beginning of time, but this is not how it’s supposed to work. He’s supposed to rescue me - aka the damsel in distress - from harm, his shirt accidentally ripping off (not mandatory but preferred) as he carries me in his Quidditch-toned arms, and perhaps receives a stab wound from some evil villain in the process. Then, after the fighting is all over, he’s supposed to take me to somewhere romantically clichéd, such as a peaceful lagoon/white-sand beach/field of flowers, where I can coo over his bravery and bandage his wound until the tension gets too much and we make sweet love under the nearby waterfall/lapping waves/starry sky.
And honestly, this probably would have been fine with me (even the waterfall bit. Especially the waterfall bit). Or at least, it’d be better compared to the alternative: leaving me behind a rickety table that provides absolutely no protection to the dangerous spells and malicious Voldy-supporters raging war two feet away from me.
Hero’s Complex: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
I shrieked embarrassingly loud as a particular loud boom made the ground tremble and dust crumble from the ceiling. Back glued to table, I tried my best to stifle the panicked tears blossoming in the corners of my eyes. It was dark enough. The last thing I needed was my vision getting even more blurred.
Think, Agatha, I berated myself, breathing deeply, Use logic. Work through the situation. Keep what little cool you have and figure this out...
Let’s see: I was sitting behind a table. Five minutes ago, the Dark Mark had appeared out of thin air, and now people were fighting for reasons I knew not. It didn’t necessarily mean anything big. I mean, there had been cases before of petty criminals conjuring the Dark Mark to strike fear and create a little trouble. But... There had been nothing to this extent before. At the Ministry, no less.
I focused my gaze on the wall in front of me. There was a brownish hole singed into the lavish wallpaper, wisps of smoke writhing around its edges and into the air. And something about this stupid, burnt hole (perhaps the overwhelming ugliness that is floral wallpaper?) made me snap out of it. I knew I faced no choice. I couldn’t stay behind this table forever. I had to get up and help, submerge myself into the battle and hopefully find my friends.
...Fucking Lincoln Logs. Fucking James Potter. Leaving me here with no choice but to step up and actually act like a good person for once... God. It was like the universe was conspiring to turn me into a human being worthy of respect. The horror.
On the count of three, you will get your lazy arse up, my brain scolded helpfully. I swallowed. Okay.
Two and a half...
Two and three-quarters...
Two and four-fifths...
Two point eight-nine-nine-nine repeating...
You know what - how about on the count of twenty? Yeah, that might be easier...
Argh! Flopping against the table, I shoved my hands into my hair. This was useless. I was a Slytherin, for fucks’ sake! I wasn’t built for battlefields and wizarding face offs! Try as I might to mentally work up the courage, I couldn’t do it. I was panicking, and the ticking little meter in my brain was switching furiously between ‘Fight’ and ‘Flight’ mode. It couldn’t decide.
Slowly, I craned my neck around, peeking out from behind the table. Shadowed figures were darting back and forth, violet, sapphire and golden lights blooming from their wands. No green. That was always a good sign.
I watched as one figure crumpled to the ground after a crimson stunning beam streamed into his chest. No one paid him any attention, too busy absorbed in the fight. Shouts and yells slammed against each other, reverberating through the dank air. Smoke and dust swirled. It was hard to tell who was on which side... Not that I cared - I just wanted to find my friends and get out alive.
And that was when - as if on a cue - a Christmas miracle happened.
It wasn’t exactly like baby Jesus being reborn or the Grinch saving Whoville, but it was enough to give me hope again.
From the murky darkness, there was a streak of silver. Barely noticeable - just a small glimmer out the corner of your eye. It darted back and forth, skirting the walls...Until it found me and snuck quietly behind my Supreme Table of Fortress and Protection.
More specifically, a bobcat - regal in all its vapourised glory, stalking back and forth in front of me. Aidan’s.
I stared at it, huddled with my arms around my knees, not knowing what to do. And then the bobcat opened its mouth and in Aidan’s clear, boyish voice - spoke one word that struck me to the core:
That was it. Nothing more. But that one word revertebrated through my body, echoing, and I could hardly believe the gloriousness of it all. Aidan was safe. My brother. Safe.
It felt like I had shrugged off a lead jacket. As the bobcat strutted away, I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t just sit around having a little one-woman tea party while there was a fucking battle shredding behind me. Aidan was out there. I had to find him - because yes, even though he had said he was safe...that word had two other ones tacked on silently behind it:
He hadn’t said it. But it was implied.
Snapping to action, I lurched forward onto my knees. Everything was suddenly clearer now. There was a precise To-Do list starting to slowly form inside my head. It went a little like this:
Step One: Put your big girl panties on.
Step Two: Come out from behind your pathetic Table-Fort.
Step Three: Find your loved ones.
Step Four: Kick some Death Eater butt.
Fire and spell-light blazed vaguely behind me, but to this swirling typhoon of dust and debris and shrapnel, I didn’t pay an ounce of attention. It might as well have been sitting through another History of Magic for all I cared, just like the old times - with Freddy slumped next to me, drooling on my notes, and Aidan on my other side, trying to draw glasses and a sharpie-scar on a sleeping Potter’s face. See? Old times.
Except with, you know, Death Eaters. And no Mr. Binns.
I wish Mr. Binns were here right now. Him and his ghostly awesomeness. He’d be able to bore all our enemies to death.
My hand snatching out on its own accord, I grabbed a glittering, jagged piece of glass off the cluttered ground and - without a second of hesitation - slashed through the fifty-galleon, handmade, unicorn silk dress that Ginny Weasley bought me for Christmas.
Now that we’re on the topic, I should probably send her Thank You card for that.
Some fabric clenched in my teeth and some wrapped in my fist, I ripped the dress (and here’s the part where you can hear the tragic sobbing of a million haute-coture fashion designers) in to two, successfully making an alteration so that the dress was now to my knees instead of at a pesky floor-length. Much better.
I was on a roll, freshly liberated from my Disney Princess ballgown. Pointy-shank-glass in hand, I leapt to my feet and stalked out from behind the Tortress (Table Fortress - now half off at Ikea! Hide from murderous Death Eaters in style!).
I didn’t know what I expected. The battle to completely freeze, or a spotlight to come down from the heavens and illuminate me. But nothing changed - the fight waged on, darting spell beams, shuddering dust. Nobody seemed to notice the scared ginger girl standing by the sidelines, alone, defenseless.
I didn’t have much time to contemplate this, however, as there was a whizzing noise slashing sharply through the air. I turned around just in time to see a wooden chair hurtling my way at forty miles per hour, apparently having been possessed by some errant spell. It was big, thick, heavy-looking... And did I mention it was coming towards me at forty-miles per hour?
“SHIT!” I leaped to the side just in time for the chair to miss its target - instead immediately smashing into a million splinters against the wall behind me. Well then. Okay. Fuck you too, chair. Fuck you very much.
I immediately assumed an attractive Quasimodo Position as I crouched and ran from the scene. I didn’t know where I was heading - I just kept a look out for a rumpled shade of toffee brown hair, or a glint of strawberry blonde. All the while, I stayed close to the side, always within arms reach of ugly floral wallpaper.
After this is all over, the Ministry should seriously use this opportunity to launch a renovation and reconsider some of their interior design choices. Honestly. You know it’s bad when widespread destruction and spell damage makes the place look better.
The sudden voice jerked me out of my thoughts. Quickly, I whipped around - my neck cricking painfully - to see four people who, at the moment, I’d never been happier to see in my life:
Aidan, Dom, Eveyln and Freddy were all crouched behind a crumbling pillar I’d passed without noticing. Their heads popped out from the side, one above the other, in an almost comical matter as they regarded me with wide, wild eyes.
I stared back, knowing I must have looked insane with my dress reduced to no more than a shredded toga, my hair in an untameable cloud of frizz, and my face smeared with soot and dust. Something boomed behind me, setting off a light that cast everything in a strange, UFO-esque glow for one fleeting millisecond, and I flinched automatically.
“Shit, someone’s having a bad hair-day...” And of course that would be the first thing Freddy’d say upon seeing me. “ Ow - hey! Did you just elbow me, woman?”
Dom glared up at Fred exasperatedly, under him in the Row of Bodiless Floating Heads. “Bloody shut up, will you? This isn’t a time for jokes! This is battle! This is life or death! This is war - ”
“That’s a bit dramatic... Don’t you think, Dommy dearest?” And there was Eveyln, ready to throw in her (obnoxious) two sickles as always.
“Oh, be quiet, you cow!”
“Hell no!” Freddy. Obviously. “You do not speak to my woman that way!”
“For the last time, I’m not your woman - ” Evelyn began tiredly, but was cut off immediately by her boyfriend, who was in the process of loudly reprimanding Dom - although the effect was slightly ruined due to the fact that he had his neck bent at an awkward angle, and all he could really shout at was the (rather unresponsive) top of her head.
“- I don’t care if you don’t like Evelyn! She is my woman -”
“Not your woman,” Evelyn droned emotionlessly.
“So you better behave yourself around her, you hear? Because family or no, I will cut you! Nuh-uh, puta! Do not make me get feisty!”
There was a long silence. Dom, who had been refusing to meet Freddy’s gaze, was now rolling her eyes like a petulant child. Evelyn looked disturbed, but Fred was too busy snapping his fingers in a Z formation to notice. Finally, it was Aidan’s turn to pipe up. He was the last head in the row, regarding everything that was going on above him with a bemused look on his face. “Um, Freddy, no offence... But can you stop transforming into a sassy Latina woman for a minute so we can figure out a solution to this?”
“You got it, muchacha!” This was coupled with a sassy head nod and a strange rotating pelvic motion.
I need to find new friends.
“Um - hello!” I shouted from where I was still standing like an idiot. I threw my arms out, indicating the chaos surrounding me. “Death Eater uprising? Abject terror? Fiery inferno and destruction? Any of this striking a bell?”
The Row of Bodiless Floating Heads all exchanged wounded looks.
“Well, there’s no need to be rude - ”
“Drop the weapon, keep your hands in the air, and walk slowly forward...”
I threw down my piece of glass and marched to the pillar, veering my eyes to a roll. They were ridiculous, the lot of them. Between Freddy, who couldn’t even take a raiding of the Ministry seriously, to Dom, who’d willingly kill someone and throw a cocktail party serving their blood if the situation demanded it... Well, it’d be a miracle if we all made it alive.
Aidan, uncharacteristically more serious than the others, ducked out underneath everyone and was the first to pull me into a hug. “I’m glad you’re okay,” he whispered, gingerly brushing soot out of my hair. Next, was Dom, who’s bony arms were surprisingly strong as she wrapped me tight. “Me too. You had me worried there, Aggs.” Then Freddy came around, enveloping the two of us in a giant bear-hug until we told him to get off because he smelled weird (“Hey, this is the essence of a man. Yeah. Waft it in. Waft.”) And lastly, there was Evelyn, who simply gave me a snotty look and said, “Really? You really thought you could pull off purple?”
Good to know some things never change.
When meet and greet was all over, the five of us crammed together as tightly as possible behind the pillar in a sort of team huddle. It was time to get serious.
“Okay, game plan,” Aidan declared, his hands on his knees and his determined eyes darting between us. Behind our protective pillar, another explosion went off, causing more shrieks and a blinding flash of white light.
Dom’s face looked eerie in the glow. It was smudged with soot like mine, and I could see the adrenaline shimmering in her gaze. “Definitely. First, let’s get out of here.”
“What about James? We have to find him first!”
“You mean you haven’t seen him?” I blurted out, gaping. “He went off to look for you guys!”
Immediately, four heads swivelled towards my direction, all with identical, curious gleams in their eyes.
“Erm, I mean, that’s what he said... When I was talking to him. Earlier.” I looked down. Oh, how interesting, a floor. “You know how we like to...talk.”
Cue: awkward silence.
“An-y-ways,” Fred cleared his throat conspicuously. He snapped his fingers in front of Aidan, who was still staring shrewdly at me. “If James’ not here, then he must be trying to find Aunt Ginny.” He turned to me to explain. “She was the one who brought us here in the first place - told us to stay put. I don’t know where she went off to though...But I’m sure she’s fine.” There was not a single hitch of worry in Fred’s tone. He was talking easily, with all the confidence in the world, as if he were simply reporting the weather.
“Her and James are probably off having showdowns with evil Death Eaters and getting themselves brutally murdered,” Dom countered depressingly, ever the ray of sunshine.
“No, Potter wouldn’t. He’s not that stupid,” I mumbled, but even I heard the doubt in my voice. Two words kept chanting inside my head like a never-ending tape - hero’s complex, hero’s complex, hero’s complex... Who was I kidding? The prat was probably taking an Avada Kerdava for the Minister right now!
“Well there’s only one thing we have to do - go out and find them.” Aidan drew me out of my internal despair, his jaw firmly set. He had everyone’s full attention and he knew it - standing there, so sure of himself... I almost felt safe. Somehow, without anyone realizing it, my brother had turned into a leader.
Dom, however, wasn’t so convinced. “Are you kidding me? We’d get killed!”
“Oh, and what do you propose? Sitting around here like a couple of giant targets? Hang on, I think we’re missing the signs with giant, neon arrows to point over our heads. How ‘bout I go grab those - ?”
“Right, because I’m sure the Death Eaters are going to treat us so much better if we go out and introduce ourselves first. ‘Hi, my name’s Dominique Weasley. Now do you mind killing me swiftly? I’m not really in the mood for a slow, painful death right now.’ No! Let’s stay here!”
Freddy shook his head, expression uncannily somber for once. The mention of Death Eaters had snapped him out of his joking mood - he too, like Aidan, looked very serious and, strangely enough, older. “I think Aidan’s right. Going out and fighting is the right thing to do.”
“Ugh! Not you too, Freddy! What is it with you Gryffindors and your stupidity?!”
“It’s called courage, Doms.”
“Fine then, you can stay here while we go and find James!”
“Oh yeah, like I’m bloody well going to let you go out there alone!”
“Then what do you suggest we do, eh?’
“I don’t know, but we can start by not taking moronic, foolish ideas into actual account!”
“Will you lot just shut up!” Eveyln, who had been looking boredly at her nailbeds like we were chatting about this year’s bloody Quidditch season, suddenly snapped, her voice twinging with anger. The rest of us startled, swivelling our gazes to her. “I am sick and tired of this stupid bickering! Maybe if you lot weren’t so busy trying to bite each other’s heads off, you would have noticed that.”
Slowly, we all followed Evelyn’s pointing, well-manicured finger to the intricately-ornated ceiling above us, and I noticed two things:
One: the Dark Mark lingered, a sickly green, misshapen figure hissing quietly in the air. But the glass case - and more importantly, the sword inside - was gone.
Someone had taken it.
Two: Lining the wall, high towards the ceiling, was a balcony of sorts. It ran alongside all four walls, looking down on the ballroom like a catwalk.
And on this catwalk, I could distinctly make out a figure with rumpled dark hair, his back against the wall, wand held out as he slashed dazzling, multicoloured spell-light at three other hooded figures. Three other, hooded figures that were attacking him.
“Oh my god,” Dom whimpered. “Is that - ?“
She didn’t get to finish her question though, because already Aidan and Freddy were pushing past her, drawing their wands as they ducked out from behind the pillar and, without a backwards glance, went sprinting off into the crowd. I watched them go, too incredulous to speak. They had reacted so quickly. All they had to do was see Potter, sense just the slightest hint of danger... And they were off, racing through the crowd, jostling frantically past people - not afraid in the slightest to risk their skins for their friend.
“FREDDY! AIDAN! GET BACK HERE!” Dom was besides herself, her pear green eyes alight, two red patches blooming in her cheeks as she screamed hoarsely after them. But it was no use, she was ignored.
Immediately, she turned back to us, gaze desperate, frantic, imploring Evelyn and I to take action. I opened my mouth, knowing I had to say something but not sure what. All I could think about was Potter on that balcony.
What on earth was he doing up there? He was outnumbered! Backed into the corner! He was so stupid to get himself in that kind of situation! Stupid, stupid, stupid bloody prick! He was going to get hurt! My chest clenched tightly at the thought. And my brother and Freddy were going to follow him...
And what was I going to do? Watch as it all unfolded in front of me?
I turned towards Evelyn. She didn’t look afraid or worried. Her eyebrows were cocked in their normal bitchtastic way, her mouth pulled into a scowl that said, ‘This is nothing more than a mild annoyance and a general waste of my time,’ and for some reason, it was almost comforting to see her like this. It was nice to know that, no matter what was going on, Evelyn Stanford would always lack a soul.
“Idiots,” she mumbled to herself as she oh-so-casually pulled her wand out of her cleavage, and I didn’t know if she was referring to the boys or to us. She sighed melodramatically, like this was all a big chore she wasn’t in the mood to do. “I suppose we should follow them to make sure they don’t get killed, eh?”
I turned back towards Dom. Her lower lip was trembling. She looked lost, torn between staying behind here and going after the guys. For a moment, no one spoke. And then, slowly, marking the first time Dom Weasley had ever agreed to anything that came out of Evelyn Stanford’s overly-glossed mouth, she nodded.
I held out my hand. Dom took it. Evelyn, with one last icy look over her shoulder, swivelled around and strutted out from behind the pillar like she was at bloody Fashion Week in Paris.
And with that, I had no choice but to follow her - and her boyfriend, and my brother, and his bestfriend, and my bestfriend - into the battle waging around us.
The balcony, it turned out, could only be reached through a super-secret flight of stairs that wasn’t so super-secret at all, seeing as it’s only protection was a small, wilting potted frond standing in front of it. Seriously. What ever happened to the classic tricks of disguise and illusion, huh? I mean, does anyone remember the good ol’ days where you could pull a book from its place on a shelf, and a secret passageway magically appears? Obviously, the decorator of this place hadn’t watched enough episodes of Scooby-Doo as a child. He was lacking some serious passageway imagination.
Anyways, the three of us tromped up the steps - or as much as you can tromp when you’re wearing stiletto heels and ballgowns, that is. We could hear the boys thundering ahead of us, probably going up two at a time. It was a contrast to all our clicking and clacking and - what else? - bitching.
“Ugh, this is awful!”
“Isn’t there an escalator or something we could take?”
“Would you bints stop complaining and just hurry up?”
“Oh I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that climbing the bleedin' Stairway to Heaven would be in this night’s activities!”
“Just shut your fat mouth, will you? I think I see the end!”
When we finally reached the last step, sweaty, out of breath and gasping for air, Aidan and Fred had already jumped into the fray. I watched as my brother grabbed one of the hooded figures (I didn’t want to say Death Eater, because... I mean, they couldn’t be Death Eaters. This whole situation wasn’t real, not at all. We were all probably on another episode of Punk’d!) by his shoulder, and in one strangely graceful motion, punched him right in the face. Freddy shot a stunning spell at another figure, who after barely dodging it, turned around and started to duel him.
It was all just a dizzying blur of lights and startled shouts, but somehow, I spotted Potter in the middle of it all. Confusion was flitting over his face - confusion tinged with anger.
“Freddy, Aidan! What the hell are you doing?”
“Saving your arse!”
“Don’t mention it!”
“Yeah, this is what bro’s are for, mate!”
And in the midst of dueling with their deranged assailants, Aidan and Fred each bumped their chests with their fists, kissed two fingers, and then held them to the sky, shouting, “BRO LIFE!”
Potter, for once, seemed to agree with my assessment. He whipped his head around to glare over his shoulder at his two best mates, all the while slashing jinxes and hexes at his opponent. He looked scary in the spell-light. The gash above his eyebrow had reopened and was gushing crimson, his face smudged with soot, his hair ruffling slightly in the artificial wind that seemed to have churned itself up from all the magic rumbling in the air.
“Bro Life? Wha - ? No! Get out of here!” He hollered, furiously ducking as one of the hooded figures slashed at him with a stream of blue light. “It’s too dangerous, just get my mum and leave!”
“And let you have all the fun? Nice try, mate!”
“Wait, your mum? What does Aunt Ginny have to do with - ?”
“Oh my god!” Without ever making the conscious decision to do so, all of a sudden I was dashing out from behind Evelyn and Dom, dodging spell light and smoke as I ran across the balcony, heartbeat skittering frantically in my chest. Because, slumped against the wall, pale, redhair spilling everywhere and frighteningly limp... was Witch Weekly’s woman of the year, the wife of The Chosen One and basically what every young girl should aspire to be. Ginny Potter. Unconscious. On the ground.
“Bennett? BENNETT? GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, ALL OF YOU!”
“AGGY?” Aidan whipped around.
“EVELYN!” Freddy roared, curly hair turning slightly singed as he narrowly dodged a red jinx sent his way. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”
From where they were standing by the stairs, Evelyn gave a cheeky finger wave. Dom cheekily cocked a hip and thumped her chest a couple times. “Bro Life, my dear cousin. Bro Life.”
And then they took out their wands and, like the bosses they were, started dueling their cold black, bitchy hearts out.
But I could care less about our Sassy Girl Power Entrance, or even that the blokes were furious at us. By this time, I had reached Mrs. Potter. I dropped unceremoniously to my knees, scrabbling around for her wrist. My hands were shaking so hard that I had to take several tries to find her pulse but, thankfully, it was there. Soft and slow, but there. Her skin was cold and clammy, and there was a slight frown puckering her forehead. Slumped against the wall like that, legs sprawled out from under her, she looked so frail and small... Like she was asleep and having a really bad dream.
And then I looked next to her and almost came close to being one pair of underwear short.
Because peeking out of the beautiful nude-chiffon-and-goblin-crafted crystal-masterpiece that was her dress, there glimmered something. A ruby studded hilt, winking cheekily in the light.
Trapped under Ginny Weasley’s left leg was the Sword of Godric Gryffindor.
I looked between the hilt of the sword, and my friends risking their lives for each other. Freddy, who had a nauseating burn in his right arm from a Searing Hex. Dom, who was back to back with Potter and throwing out jinxes like it was her job. And Aidan, who had just pushed Evelyn out the way of a Stunning Spell.
I watched as my brother dodged the beam, before flicking a silver starburst out his wand. The Death Eater ducked and sent one back, and they began dueling. And then... Almost as if it were happening in slow motion, three things happened in succession - dominoes toppling:
Evelyn, having just been shoved out the way, stumbled and fell to the ground, her wand clattering away from her. Freddy, distracted, immediately turned away from his Death Eater, and a purple hex punched him right in the shoulder. He crumpled to the floor.
I was watching this, numb, frozen, almost as if I were realizing a bad dream, like I’d known all along this would happen. All the noise had been sucked out the room. I saw Evelyn screaming at Fred’s motionless body, her face twisted in a way I’ve never seen before, but I couldn’t hear her. I saw the Death Eater Fred had been fighting make his way towards Aidan, saw Dom notice, saw Potter notice, saw my brother, oblivious... And yet I couldn’t even hear my own shriek of warning. All I could do was look and look - thinking no, god, please no, once was enough, don’t let this happen again, please - as the Death Eater caught Aidan around the neck with his arm, dragging everything to halt.
Immediately, everyone stopped. Gone was the spell light, the raucous shouting. It was silent. Aidan’s mouth dropped open, but it was all happening too fast for him to have time to be more surprised than that. The Death Eater grabbed him by the hair, yanking his head back, and with his other hand, pressed his wand to my brother’s throat.
Sound was slowly coming back. Someone was screaming - no, no, no - and I realized that was me. My voice had turned into something animalistic, something scraped hoarse.
“SHUT UP!” The Death Eater holding Aidan screamed, grip tightening as my brother kicked and struggled. I snapped my mouth shut, insides quivering, heart ramming itself so hard against my chest it hurt. “NOBODY TALK OR ELSE THE BOY GETS IT!”
Silence throbbed through the air.
Potter lunged for Aidan, but was quickly checked into the wall by the third Death Eater. Dom, who had been desperately trying to help Evelyn drag Fred’s body away from harm, turned ashen white. “Let him go, please,” she whispered, and in any other situation you wouldn’t have been able to hear her. But in this sunken silence, it was like a bomb exploding.
“Not until he,” the Death Eater sneered, wheeling around to point at Potter, “tells us where the sword is.”
“I - told - you - I - don’t - know.” Potter choked out, grimacing. The third Death Eater had his forearm against his neck, pressing Potter into the wall as hard and roughly as possible.
“DON’T LIE!” The Death Eater’s voice was higher than I’d expected, running thin and watery with hysteria. “SHE HAD IT!” He gestured to Ginny’s form. Everyone swivelled their gazes to follow him - nobody paid me, the scared girl crouching in the shadows, any attention.
Except Potter. For a split second, I locked gazes with him, my mouth gaping open, expression panicked, pleading for anything he could give me - help, an idea, a miracle, a single fucking shred of hope. Potter seemed to understand, and his amber eyes flickered with something - something that looked a lot like pain. Then he closed them and dropped his head against the wall, and the moment was gone. It was the first time I’d ever seen James Potter give up.
“I don’t know what she did with it,” Potter gritted out, slowly, hatefully. “After you hit her with that curse, it disappeared into thin air. You saw it yourself.”
All I could do was watch as Aidan struggled against the Death Eater’s grip. He was trying to hide it, but I could see the clench of pain in his jaw. The Death Eater shrugged, a sick smile creeping behind that mask. “Then you give me with no choice, don’t you, James Potter?”
And that was when something flicked on inside of me, and I was no longer Agatha Bennett - Walking Factory of Teen Angst and Snark. No, instead, something automatic and...blank seemed to take over my body. Something that knew exactly what to do, something that wiped my mind clean of any doubt.
I stood up, grabbed the hilt of the Sword of Godric Gryffindor in my clammy hands, and slid it out from under Mrs. Potter’s leg before - heaving with all my strength - swinging it in the air. It was surprisingly heavy for my weak noodle arms, and I staggered backwards a bit, the silver of the sword glinting dangerously in front of me.
“Hey!” I called, and my voice, surprisingly, didn’t shake. “Hey, you - yes, you, asshole!” Angry adrenaline buzzed inside me. Immediately, the Death Eater holding Aidan swivelled around. His mask hid his features, but I could sense a jerk of surprise in his expression. Aidan grunted in protest, lurching frantically towards me, but the Death Eater’s grip was still strong as he stared at me, shrewdly, eyes piercing.
“Looking for this?” I waved the sword around triumphantly, but the taunting effect was slightly ruined when I almost dropped it and impaled myself through the toe. Ahem. Recovering now. “Yeah, that’s right. Maybe if you weren’t so busy dueling kids half your age, you’d have noticed the one thing your Evil Overlord - whoever that is - sent you here to get... Which is this shiny knicknack, I’m guessing.” I waved the sword some more. I could almost feel all it’s potential power creeping up my arms - it was scary and exhilarating all at once.
Aidan and the rest of them were staring at me with alternating expressions of shock and anxiety. Dom was breathing heavily, the two red splotches back on her cheeks. Evelyn’s eyebrows were raised; she seemed mildly impressed. The other Death Eaters were gaping stupidly. And Potter - Potter was still pressed against the wall, expression stricken, looking all the world like someone had punched him in the face (oh wait, that was me).
“Bennett - ” He began. Something about his voice frightened me, but I chose to bury that feeling. No way could I turn back now.
“Wow, you lot are really not good at this,” I interrupted casually, turning to the shocked Death Eaters. “Must have been sleeping through all your Evil Villain Classes at Death Eater High, eh?” I was one-third dizzy on victory, and two-thirds scared half to death. The result was a disturbing mixture of ramblings and overconfidence. “What do they even teach you there, huh? Poor Dental Heigene 101, that’s for sure - ”
“Agatha. Agatha, stop - ” Potter was saying, but he was cut off by his Death Eater crushing him even harder into the wall. Dom winced.
Aidan was shaking his head profusely, eyes bright and desperate, lips formlessly sounding something that looked a lot like 'Please don’t.'
It felt like my heart was trying to pound itself out of my chest. My knees were shaking, the hilt of the sword slippery in my sweaty hands. But I knew what I had to do. The answer was so obvious, it was glaring me in the face.
I stared at the Death Eater. He looked back, snarling. “If you want it, come and get it,” I declared calmly.
And that was when I turned around and ran like hell.
Here’s the thing about running through the atrium of the Ministry of Magic, away from a psychotic criminal who is out to kill you, all the while carrying a giant-ass sword that is probably longer than the combined amount of times you’ve ever had a good hair day (in inches to minutes ratio):
It’s not very fun.
In fact, it’s kind of a sucky experience. I would not recommend it. On the scale of General Life Suckishnesss, I’d rank it somewhere below having your teeth pulled out and above getting pantsed in third grade during recess in front of the whole class.
So here I was, sprinting through the onyx marble, cavernous atrium of the Ministry of Magic. The gleaming darkness of the walls seemed to close in one me - and without having Aidan there to remind me why, exactly, I was doing this, I was slowly starting to panic. Completely alone, lungs on fire, and with nothing for a weapon except something that was once used to slay dragons (dragons! Motherfucking dragons!)...And some wicked frizzy bedhead. (To be honest, I’m pretty sure the bedhead was more dangerous/useful. I mean, I can’t wield a sword! I don’t even what wielding is - And that’s not my fault! Blame the book companies for never coming out with a Wielding for Dummies: Teenaged Girl Edition! Honestly. At least my hair has the ability to swallow someone whole. Can a stupid, magic, centuries-old sword do that? I think not).
Merry bloody Christmas to me.
Just to add to my list of why I hate the Ministry of Magic Official Interior Decorators - what is the point of a fucking atrium? Because I literally think it might be ‘to make life as hard as possible for the hero in a chase scene.’ This room (if you can even call it that, it’s more like a glorified hamster tunnel) has literally no where to hide. It’s just metres and endless metres of shiny dark marble wall.
Hence: I am screwed.
My bare feet slapped against the cold ground - I had kicked off the stilettos a long while ago, realizing they wouldn’t exactly be beneficial to my life goal of not getting my head Avada’d off. It was becoming harder to run; I could hear my own panting bursts of breath, mingled with my thudding heartbeat. My muscles were screaming in agony - seriously, I’m pretty sure this sword was made of the same thing The Titanic was - but I had to keep on going. My life kind of depended on it.
Just kind of.
BANG. A shriek slipped out of my lips as something on the right of me - I think it was one of the torchlights hanging on the walls - exploded in a violent blossom of fire and dust. I whipped my head around, breath catching in my throat, and saw the three Death Eaters rounding the corner and into view. One of them had his still-smoking wand extended.
“YOU SODDING BITCH! WE’LL BLOODY KILL YOU!”
Well. No need to be rude or anything.
I shook my head, tried to keep running - left foot, right foot, pumping my arms back and forth - but it was useless. I was getting tired. They had their wands, and I had a bloody medieval sword. No where to hide, no where to go. There was a glossy, larger-than-life door towards the left, some distance away, but I’d never be able to make it in time. This was it. Game over. I was dead.
I closed my eyes, thought about Fred crumpling to the ground after the curse hit him, Potter bleeding against the wall, Ginny unconscious and frail. And Aidan. My brother who always smelled like fresh laundry, who, at ten years old, once rescued a dying squirrell and then ran up to his room when it died so no one would see him cry, who’s relentless determination meant he never gave up on anything - whether it was a girl or a Quidditch manoeuvre or a sodding Rubix Cube. I was so proud of him. He was growing up, I could tell, and one day he was going to be someone great. Someone who changed the world.
It was over, all over, I suddenly realized, and I stopped running. Eyes fluttering open, I turned around.
It came quickly, with no warning whatsoever. “Stupefy!”
I fell to the floor in a thud, the sword landing with a clatter next to me. It had been a weak Stunner - my vision was fading in an out, and I could still make sense of what was around me - but it’d worked. My whole body felt like it’d been turned to lead. I couldn’t move a finger - all the feeling had been oozed out of me, replaced by something heavy and metallic and pounding.
I heard footsteps near me. Through my bleary eyes, if I squinted, I could just barely make out a pair of black dress shoes, encrusted with mud. Then, there was a scraping sound as one of the Death Eaters picked up the sword, chuckling darkly.
“Thought you could escape us, eh, love?” He wheezed jubilantly. “We’ll show you.” He nodded to the other Death Eater. “Barnes.”
‘Barnes’ took out his wand from his cloak and pointed it downwards at my chest. I stared ahead, at the vaulted ceiling swimming above me, strangely calm. Here I was, plastered to the floor of the Ministry, a wand pointed at me, most certainly about to die... And yet there was no panic. I just felt... resignation. Acceptance. Somewhere, deep inside me, I knew it wouldn’t help to put up a fight.
“Say goodnight,” Barnes’ voice was a slow, dripping hiss. Next to him, the other Death Eater cackled.
I thought about my mum, and Aidan, and Dom and Freddy and Ryan and all the people I loved. And on top of everything, there were my memories with Potter - us arguing explosively, my fist colliding with his face, him bandaging my cut, me falling asleep in his bed, his lips brushing mine that first time in the Astronomy Tower - it all flitted by me, plus all the everyday moments that I thought I’d never remember. That one time he dangled my books out the Gryffindor Tower, or when I doused him in orange juice at breakfast, our random bickering about everything and anything... So many moments. And I’d never even get to say goodbye.
It was probably for the best. I wouldn’t even know what to say to him if I could.
I closed my eyes.
“Avada - ”
I squeezed them shut harder. How unfair it was that fifteen years, a million memories, countless moments, could all end in just six syllables.
“Ke - ”
There was a loud BANG! and then a screech of surprise... and a whimper. Something seemed to wash over me - I didn’t know what at first - relief, salvation, enlightenment? But then I realized it was just pure magic. A spell. There was a clattering noise, thudding footsteps, another BANG! and a dying, croaking yelp.
And then, I could hardly believe it: silence. Just like that.
The unfinished spell hung in the air, incomplete. My breathing was back. I could feel the blood rushing in my body to my head, making me feel dizzy, delirious, awake.
I was alive.
"Agatha. Agatha." I opened my eyes and came face to face with Harry Potter, the saviour of the wizarding world, crouching in front of me with his hand supporting head. The laugh lines around his famous green eyes were scrunched together; he was smiling kindly. The sword was in his other hand. The three Death Eaters were lying, frozen on the floor, bound together by some magical rope.
I could hardly believe what was happening was real. I was certain that, in about two minutes, I would wake up from this very strange nightmare and come back to real life. In fact, it was all so overwhelming that I felt like I might hyperventilate.
“It’s okay, Agatha,” Mr. Potter seemed to sense this. His voice was deep, smooth, so sure of itself. “Everything is going to be okay. You’re a very brave girl.”
And I think that was it, what pushed me over the edge. Nevermind that I’d just experienced insurmountable trauma and violence. Nevermind that I’d just witnessed the very infrastructure of my society’s government crumple into nothing. Nevermind that I’d come an inch away from Death and was promptly yanked back by the Saviour of the World, the Chosen One Himself, the Father of the Boy Who I Frequently Hated and Sometimes Snogged.
No. It was the fact that he’d called me - Agatha Bennett - brave. Something I’d never been called before. That was what did it.
I blinked. Looked into the eyes of Harry Potter himself, and murmured dreamily, “You have a very lovely home, Mr. Potter.”
And then I promptly passed out.
When I came to, it took a while for me to realize where I was. The first thing I noticed was the air - crisp and fresh and sharp, nothing like the cramped dinginess of the underground Ministry.
Everything about me felt fuzzy, blurred around the edges. I blinked my bleary eyes open and shut. We were outside, I realized. There was gleaming, clean snow on the ground. The sky above us was slathered thickly with a bright cobalt blue.
I was slumped against the back of a Mungo’s ambulance, a shock blanket wrapped around me. My mouth was dry. Yuck, it tasted like something had died inside it. Shouldn’t morning breath be reserved for - oh, I don’t know - the mornings?
“Oh good, you’re awake.” I looked down to see an older dude in Healer robes, crouched on the ground, checking my pulse. He looked better fitted to be working at some New Age spa then a hospital. His hair was buttery blonde and slicked back with so much hair gel, his head was glowing like a second moon.
We seemed to be in the outdoor park right outside the muggle Ministry entrance. All around me, there were other people being treated in Mungo ambulances by bustling people in white uniforms. Sirens were flashing, glazing everything in eerie red and blue light. It was hard to make out who was who amidst all the people reuniting, chatting, hugging...Where was Aidan? Dom? Potter?
“I guess I am,” I croaked, shaking my head bewilderingly.
“You were out for an hour. The Ministry’s very own Sleeping Beauty.” The Healer drawled sarcastically, and I scowled at his sardonic tone.
“Does that make you my Fairy Godmother?”
“Touché.” Hair Gel held out his hand, face wry. “The name’s Draco Malfoy.”
Scorpius’ dad. I should have known; they resemble each other closely, both having the ability to blind people with their scalp and all. I took his hand. “Agatha Bennett.”
“AGATHA!” Before Draco Gelfoy could say anything else, I was blindsided by a flurry of red-gold hair. Dominique, wearing a pastel, puffy down jacket that basically turned her into a baby blue marshmallow, hurled herself at me at inhuman speed. “Thank god you’re alive! You had me terrified to death!”
“But what you did was pretty sick. Or so I heard, seeing as I was kind of, you know, unconscious for the majority of it.” Freddy popped up from behind her, grinning good-naturedly.
“Freddy!” I cried, relief flooding through me. I tried to stand up to get closer, but Hr. Malfoy firmly pressed me back down to sitting. “You’re okay!”
“Correction: I’m better than okay.” Fred exclaimed, smiling joyfully. The moonlight shown in his eyes, which were filled with indescribable bliss. “The hex that hit me actually shattered my collar bone! Can you believe the good luck?”
“Um, no?” I said tentatively. From next to me, Dom rolled her eyes, mumbling under her breath something that sounded like ‘Here we go again.’
“I know, right! Shattered! They’re going to have to completely regrow the bones! What can I say? I’m a lucky bastard.”
“Er, great!” I replied brightly, before whipping around to Hr. Malfoy and hissing, “What pain medications have you guys been using, exactly?”
Freddy answered my question for me. “Nothing! Just a Soothing Draught, and that’s it. But Aggy, listen - they gave me a sling! A sling!” He flapped his arm to gesture, and sure enough, I could see the navy cotton material it was cocooned in. “Bitches love slings.”
Oh, Freddy. You never cease to amaze me.
“How’s Mrs. Potter?” I asked, ready for a change in subject.
“Okay. She got hit with three Stunning Spells,” Dom answered solemnly, as Fred was now too busy pretending his sling arm was a machine gun and making strange sputtering noises as he aimed it at bewildered bystanders. She shook her head, wedging herself next to me on the ledge of the ambulance. “But she’s awake now, keeps insisting she doesn’t have to go to the hospital. I think they’ll let her go home as long as she agrees to stay in bed.”
“Aidan?” I pressed further, hungry for information. Dom turned to face me straight-on, surprised.
“You mean you haven’t seen him? He hasn’t left your side the whole time! Until now, that is. Dunno where he went.” She paused. “He was the first one to get to you, in fact. Well, him and Potter.”
“Potter?” I squawked. Dom nodded.
“I’d never seen him like that, Aggy. He was freaking out. Him and Aidan went running after you and the Death Eaters, got to you right after Uncle Harry did. In fact, Potter was the one who carried you outside. You don’t remember any of this?”
“Not a thing.” I grimaced. It felt like there was white noise clouding my brain, like it was all a fuzzy, distant dream. I leaned my forehead against the cool metal of the ambulance, feeling the winter breeze scrape against my cheeks.
“You scared the shit out of him, Aggs. He - he saw you almost get hit by that curse. You know. The curse.” Dom murmured lowly.
“Oh,” I said noncommitally, wrapping myself tighter in the shock blanket, and that was that.
The rest of the night passed by quickly. Aidan came back, apparently having been getting me some hot tea. Aside from some bruises around his neck, he was doing fine. In fact, he spent the remainder of the time sitting right next to me, always within reach, shoulders tense and alert. He didn’t say a word, though, choosing to remain strangely silent. Freddy, on the other hand, babbled on about this and that, how tonight I had somehow made my way up to ‘Boss Status,’ how he really badly wished someone had filmed him getting hit by that curse, how he was planning on naming his sling ‘Robert’... Thanks to him, there wasn’t one moment of silence the whole night. Dom, meanwhile, dedicated her time to trying to flirt shamelessly with Hr. Malfoy, who was both uninterested and clueless to her advances.
“Are you sure I don’t need a physical, Healer? I think I could really use a quick one...”
“I see. Are you feeling dizziness, nausea, or pain anywhere?”
“More like.. A burning sensation, if you know what I mean.”
I winced. That one had been particularly bad, even for Dom.
“Oh. Well, in that case I can recommend some ointments and creams if you’d like...”
I tuned out Dom’s undeterrable flirtfest, scanning the field with listless eyes. Too be honest, I was too tired for this. I knew I should be acting all energetic, having narrowly escaped death and all that jazz...But honestly, instead of life-changing epiphanies or eternal gratitude towards my deity of choice, all I really had right now was a yearning for a hot shower.
That was when I spotted him.
He was talking to a Healer, looking extremely serious. Without a word of explanation to anyone, I stood up, wrapping my blanket tighter around myself, and shuffled my way to him.
There was a scary-looking gash on his cheekbone, but the stitches above his eyebrow were patched up and wiped clean of any blood. His hair was rumpled in the back - a sign that he’d been shoving his hand through it like he always did when he was worried or annoyed.
“Make sure your mother gets plenty of fluids. Dehydration could be really dangerous for her at this stage. And try to avoid excess movement, heavy lifting...” The Healer was saying, but I paid him no heed. All I had eyes for was Potter, and all I could think about was that moment, before the Death Eater had hissed those fateful words, when everything between the two of us had flashed before my eyes.
“Hi,” I said breathlessly, bouncing on my toes. But Potter didn’t even look at me, his eyes trained steadily on the Healer, who droned on and on.
I sighed impatiently. “Um, excuse me, but do you think you give us a second?”
The Healer halted mid-sentence, affronted. Okay, granted, that had been a little rude. But hey, I was the Ministry’s Very Own Sleeping Beauty. I could do what I want. Fuck money, get bitches and all that.
“Alright,” The Healer blinked. He nodded towards Potter, and then to me. “Goodbye, Mr. Potter, Ms. Bennett. Take care.”
And then he ducked out.
Potter stood rooted to the spot, watching him go, still refusing to look at me. His eyes were two harsh shards of amber.
“So that was pretty wild, eh?” I said a little awkwardly, watching Potter’s jaw clench and unclench rapidly. I adjusted my blanket. “Um, how are you?”
With no warning whatsoever, he wheeled around to face me, fiery gaze slamming into me full-force. Snow dusted his tousled hair, and he shoved his hands into his coat pockets. “Really, Bennett? You really want to do this?”
I drew back, surprised by his sudden hostility. “By ‘this,’ do you mean congratulating each other on not being dead? Because if so, then yeah, kinda.”
“Well then fine, Bennett,” Potter spat, shoving a hand through his hair. He looked absolutely furious. For once I could read his eyes, see the anger simmering inside them. “Let me just say I’m so happy you and your rampant stupidity managed to keep each other alive, without any outside help, for more than two bloody hours. Merry fucking Christmas.”
As he turned to walk away, my own temper sparked. What was his problem? I almost get Avada’d, and all he can do is batter me with snark and disdain? Insensitive much?
“Excuse me, but what the fuck is your issue?” I hollered at him, voice snapping in the wind. I knew I probably should have just let him go, but I couldn’t help myself.
Slowly, shaking his head, Potter swivelled around. “My issue is that back in the Ministry, I told you to stay behind that table, and what did you decide to do? You went out and acted like bloody Xena the Warrior Princess, as if this was all a game! You could have gotten killed, Bennett! In fact, you almost did!” His voice was rising steadily, the frustration leaking through his tone. He turned away, teeth gritted.
“Oh, so that’s what this is about! Your ego’s all bruised because I didn’t listen to your orders? Newsflash, moron, you aren’t the boss of me! And you know what, you don’t get to call me a coward and a heroic idiot at the same time, okay? You can’t have both!”
Potter took a step back, shaking his head, expression incredulous. He clamped his lips shut, gaze crackling with volatile electicity. For a moment, there was only the sound of the wind whistling, and the dull chatter of the oblivious people around us.
When he spoke again, it was in a low, simmering tone.
“You’re selfish, Agatha Bennett. You sit on that pedestal of yours and think anything and everything you do is infallible. You go barrelling through life without any regard for others - ”
Selfish?! How can you call me selfish when all I was trying to do was save my brother? I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t. All I was capable of doing was staring at him, the wind teasing through my hair, wrapped in that ridiculous blanket. There was something lodged in my throat - an ache of some sorts.
“And it’s not just this, okay, Bennett? Every aspect of every part of your life, you go through it with only yourself in mind. You act like you’re goddamn Mother Teresa every time you so much as pat Aidan on the back, or have a hysterical fit when he does something that’s not on par with your perfect sodding prefect life - but you know what? You don’t want the best for him. You want the best for you. You want him secure and sheltered and tethered to your side, because that means you’ll never have to be alone.”
I heard the dull truth throbbing in his words, and I felt something lurch inside me. I looked down, quickly, at the ground, trying to block it all out.
“And that’s far from what Aidan wants, believe me. But you don’t even have an idea of what he wants, do you? No, because you never ask him! Just like you never ask Dom why she’s getting so skinny, or Freddy why he's dating Evelyn, or Evelyn why she’s seeing a therapist! You’re so fucking stuck in this mindset of yours, that the whole universe is centered on you and your teenage angst, and anyone else is just a minor character! Most of all, you don’t think about how it affects the people around you when you do stupid asshole things like throwing yourself into danger at the slightest whim, just because you can’t even grasp the concept that you don’t always have the solution. No. It always has to be Agatha Bennett to save the day. Well congratu-fucking-lations, Bennett. You finally did it. Your medal should be arriving in the mail any day now.”
My head was throbbing. I felt sick to my stomach as I looked into Potter’s unforgiving, cold eyes, heard the words getting progressively louder and harsher and truer. It felt like someone had reached inside of me, grabbed my intestines, and twisted them into a knot. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t even do that. He was right. About all of it. Completely, utterly, one-hundred-percent right.
“You come up to me, acting all 'buddy buddy,' because that’s what’s easiest for you, isn’t it? But know what?” Potter threw out his arms. He laughed breathlessly, disbelievingly. “Fine. You can act like all the arguments, all the fighting between us that happened at that party, didn’t happen. You can act like just because we had a couple near-death experiences, everything’s la-dee-fucking-da okay. But sorry, I can’t pretend like that. I can’t deal with the constant back and forth and fighting and not-fighting and all your stupid, bullshit drama, Bennett. Sorry.”
“You wanna talk about me pretending like your birthday party never existed?” I finally found my voice. It seemed to have been hiding somewhere along my dignity. “Hypocrite, much? One moment, you tell me I mean noting to you, and then the next you're snogging me! Do you know how hard it is to keep up with that?" I jutted my chin out, trying to keep my voice from trembling. "I mean, tonight, at the ball, don’t you happen to remember a teensy kiss between us?”
“You mean that time when you used me to get your way, just like you do with everything else?” Potter’s words were frigid with icy disdain. He folded his arms across his chest, shrugging emotionlessly. “Yeah, all too clearly.”
And to that... To that, I had no response.
“I’m done with this, Bennett.” Potter said tonelessly. There was only finality in his voice. Nothing else, no other emotion. The anger in his eyes had dimmed. “And I’m done with you.”
He turned around. He was about to walk away, I could tell. And... And, I realized, I couldn't let him. If he walked away from me right now, I would lose. I wasn't sure what, exactly, but I would just lose.
"They meant something to me, Potter," I hollered at his back. At first, I was just saying to say it, to get a reaction out of him. But as the words crumbled out my mouth, I realized that they were true. They had to be true. What else could explain the way all my memories with him had flashed in front of my eyes, or the twisted, clenched feeling I got whenever he said the word 'Nora'? "The kisses, the fights, whatever the hell happened between us... It meant something to me."
Potter's shoulders were tensed. He turned around, slowly, mouth pressed into a flat, emotionless line. "It never should have happened. Any of it." And something inside me seemed to twang a bit, like he had his finger pulling against a rubber band inside my body, snapping it back and forth. Twang, twang, twang.
"I'm glad it did," I said, fiercely, defiantly. My hands were trembling. We stared at each other for a bit, his eyes held a prick of disdain in them.
Then he said: "Don't be."
And with that...He walked away and it was all finally over. The mindgames, the fighting, the bickering, the agonizing, the emotional-rollercoasting. I knew that he'd ended it. Simple as that. Done. Over. Never again.
And I had lost.
A/N: So I am sure about 99.99% of you hate me/Potter passionately right now, but let me just say this was a long time due. I know you all love Aggy (or at least, I hope you do), but you have to admit she's been acting a little bratty lately. Many of you have mentioned it in your reviews, and I (as well as Potter) would have to whole-heartedly agree.
I know it feels like Jaggy took a huge step backwards, but that's not the way it is, I promise! There is still a lot more fun to come :)
So, I'm curious as to what you think: did Potter go way too far, or was he in the right? Do you believe he's really done with her? And what, in the name of all that is holy, is actually Aggy's middle name?
That's it for now, folks. Updates will hopefully come faster as I'm almost done with my first semester (if I can make it out alive, that is).
Keep safe and warm,
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