Chapter 7 : I'm A Little Bit Shy, A Bit Strange, & A Little Bit Manic
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I stopped abruptly. 637. My throat closed as I took in a sharp breath. My mother's room. The secretary's words echoed in my head, "Ms. Barker's in room 637." I became suddenly light headed as I stood staring at the door. For a moment, I thought I might not go in. I would simply stand there, gazing at the door forever. When my strength had plummeted to its absolute lowest, Fred began to squeeze my shoulders from behind me, his touch surprising me, but my muscles relaxed. I was able to regain my clarity.
"Wait out here, okay?" I said to Fred, purposely avoiding eye contact.
"Yeah, sure Callaghan," he replied casually and leaned against the wall, arms folded across his chest. I stretched my own arm out to the doorknob wondering if it might never reach. By the time it did, I felt as if I was in another world, a world that was fuzzy and distance, like a dream you've just woken up from, a world I could only comprehend in fragments and phrases.
The door latch clicked. I was through the doorway. It was her. She sat at the window. I couldn't see her face. But I knew. "Hi mum." I didn't know what else to say. "It's me." She turned her head. Our eyes met. "It's Finny." She rose. She stood in front of me.
"Liar!" Her voice echoed, high pitched. "My Finny is seven!" I couldn't speak. I stared. "What have you done with her?!" Even louder. My chest burned. My hands tingled.
"But-your letter." I sputtered. I squeaked. I shuddered.
"You are not my daughter! Get out, you bitch! Who let you into my house?! GET OUT!" Angry eyes. Pointed finger. My picture was on the wall. No front teeth. Long pigtails. Eyes laughing. I wasn't Finn. Not to her.
The room doors zoomed past. Foot steps. Mine and someone elseís. Lobby. Portkey. Three Broomsticks. Hogsmeade. Blurred faces. Hogwarts. Flitwick waiting. I couldn't talk to him. He let me go. I still heard footsteps with my own. A hand seized my arm. I had to stop. Too strong.
"You gonna walk forever?" My mind finally stopped. It had been racing away from St. Mungo's faster than my feet. I glanced at Fred unsure of what explanation to give. "Can you at least slow down? My stride is twice yours and I'm practically running."
I nodded my head and began to walk again, this time slower but still without a destination. We walked in silence until I found my voice again.
"You heard the whole thing, didn't you?"
Fred's face contorted in debate, "Yeah, most of it. I'm s-"
"Don't say it," I cut him off. "Please."
Hesitantly he replied, "Okay, do you want to talk about it? I mean that's a bloody hell of a lot to keep to yourself."
"I can just to talk to Mel about it." I lied.
And he knew. "No, you can't. If you were gonna tell her, you already would have, and you obviously haven't or else you would have brought her with you. But you brought me instead."
"Piss off." He was right, and I just had nothing else to say. I thought guys were supposed to have this whole clueless thing going on. After a few minutes of silence, I tried to apologize with my eyes and said, "That was the first time I've seen her in nine years, and you're right. I've never talked to anyone about her."
I kicked a rock as we walked, anything to avoid looking at Fred. I glanced ahead every once in awhile, and each time we were drawing closer to the lake.
"What happened to her?" Fred asked quietly, kindly. He stopped walking.
"I told you no questions." I looked up with my eyes but kept my head down. His features seemed soft, concerned. I'd never, ever seen that look on Fred's face. Ever.
"Look, Finn. You can bottle all this up if you want, but I'm not asking you for me. I'm asking you for you. It's obviously driving you mad."
I began walking again, and Fred followed a few steps behind giving me some much needed distance. I stopped at the edge of the lake and stood staring at it. It was flat and peaceful, and I couldn't help but draw comparisons to myself: Calm, unaffected on the outside, but who knew what lay hidden beneath the depths.
Fred did. Or he was trying to at least.
"It was a spell. My mom tried to wipe her own memory of my father. I was seven. She was a little off my whole life, but," Extreme understatement, "after the spell backfired, she really, er, they shipped her off to St. Mungo's. She's been there ever since." I stared down at my feet until I gathered up the courage to look at Fred again. As soon as my eyes caught his, the damn broke. It was as if every tear I'd ever suppressed about my mother burst out now, unstoppable. I couldn't control the tears; I couldn't think. All I could do was cry.
Fred looked bewildered but pulled me safely into his arms and didn't release me until I'd finished crying, and his shirt was thoroughly soaked.
We sat at the edge of the lake in silence once again until I said, "I'm sorry. For losing it like that."
"It's okay. You girls can't help it. You're all mad. But I do have a reputation to keep up, so next time can we not do the whole sensitive bit in public?"
I smiled, glad to see normal Fred was back and ready to make fun of me. I needed to move away from the whole subject of family.
"Would it be wrong for me to snog you right now?"
The question confused me. "What?" I laughed.
"Would it be wrong for me to kiss you while you're all emotional?"
"Well, you would probably be taking advantage of my delicate state," I chuckled quietly, cocking my head to the side.
"Okay, just checking," he replied nonchalantly while leaning over. Pushing my hair behind my ear, he slowly brought his lips to mine. Though the kiss only lasted a few seconds, it was soft and kind, not what I had imagined it would be like to snog Fred. (And I had imagined it.) I was shocked to see how gentle he seemed; it was like I had suddenly encountered a whole new side of Fred in that fleeting moment. Now I wanted to know more, so just as he had pulled away, I tugged lightly on his hair and pulled him in for more.
A/N: Same old excuses for a lack of updates. I should be studying right now. My winter break is coming up soon though, so I plan on writing, writing, writing. Please review, lovelies. They really are motivating.
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