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Crime and Punishment by platform 9 3_4
Chapter 18 : In The Art Of Victory
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 12


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Disclaimer: If you recognize anything it belongs to JKR. 

 

 




 

Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too, 

So I stayed in the darkness with you.



- Cosmic Love      - Florence & The Machine




 

 

 




Charlie POV

 

Boredom. Supreme boredom overcame me.

I lay on my back, in bed, staring at the bland, white ceiling.

Potter was sitting in the chair beside me, snoring gently. I refused to look at him. 

He had stayed through the whole night with me. Even though I had ignored him, told him to bugger off, called him names, he had still refused to budge.

Was he this annoying to his other friends?

No, I couldn't think like that. Potter wasn't my friend. He never had been and he never would be.

Except that people who aren't friends don't hug each other after one of them has been crying, and they don't say that everything will be ok, even when it won't. And they certainly don't go to sleep in the chair next to you, just in case you need something in the night and can't get it yourself.

Because I can't get out of bed. Because I can't walk. 

Right. Almost forgot about that.

I glanced down at my motionless legs that lay under the sheets.

I moved one of them. Slowly but surely, the bump in the sheet moved back and forth. According to Healer Robbins I could still move my legs. It was the walking bit that was going to be tricky.

"See?" came Potter's voice from beside me, after having woken up, "You can still move them."

I didn't look at him. "Only just," I reminded him.

There was a scrape as he sat up in his chair, stretching out like a cat after a long nap, "Still. It's a start."

"And my inability to hold my own weight is the end."

"I'm not letting you give up."

"So you've said."

"There are ways that you can fight this."

"You've mentioned that too."

I was deliberately trying to piss him off. Maybe if he got sufficiently annoyed he would leave me in peace.

"I know what you're trying to do, and it's not going to work," his voice sounded amused. I scowled at the ceiling.

Suddenly the hospital wing door opened and Max came in. 

"Oh great," she said, looking at Potter, "Potter, could you please buzz off for a minute?"

To my astonishment Potter obediently stood up.

"Aye aye captain," he answered, passing Max and heading for the door.

"Oh, so now you leave?" I yelled at him.

"At least she used the magic word," he grinned, "Don't worry Walker, I'll be back before you know it. Is there anything you need?"

"How about peace, with a side of quiet?" I snapped.

"I'm sorry our kitchens are all out of peace and quiet. Might I suggest acceptance?"

I let out an angry sigh of frustration as he left the room.

Max approached me gently, and I realized that she hadn't seen me since I had gotten the news.

She slowed to a gentle tread, her face filled with something unintelligible. 

"How are you?" she croaked, sitting gingerly down on the mattress beside me.

"Better, now that Potter's left," I chuckled.

A couple of tears stood out in Max's eyes and she sniffed hard to stop them from overflowing.

"Please don't cry," I murmured. She took my hand and squeezed it.

"We'll get through this," she said determinedly, "I'll help you. You're going to walk again and I'm going to be there every step of the way."

"Max," I began. She lifted a hand to my mouth to block out the rest of the sentence. 

"I don't want that defeatist attitude," she said, brushing the tears from her eyes, throwing back her head defiantly, "You're walking again, and that's final."

I decided to play along, and I nodded.

She pulled a letter out of her robes, "This came to the owlery today. I thought you might want to read it."

I gazed at the envelope. Elliot's neat scrawl was clearly visible.

I took a deep breath, "I don't want it."

Max stared at me, "I bet he's worried sick about you!"

"I don't care," I said in a low voice, "I don't want it. It was just a stupid little dream. I don't know what I was planning to happen."

"But-"

It was my turn to lift my hand to block out the words.

"I don't want to hear it," I said, "It's not like it will come of anything now."

Max sighed, but slid the letter into her robe for safe keeping.

It didn't matter. From this day on, Elliot was my past. And my future didn't look too pretty either.

 

*        *       *

 

"I'm ba-ack!" came a sing song voice about an hour later.

I didn't even have to look up to know who it was.

"Potter, go away, I don't want to see anybody."

"Oh, come now Walker, you'd think you didn't like me, the way you're talking."

"I don't."

He put a hand over his heart mockingly, pretending to be wounded.

"Ouch! That hurts! Have the last few days meant nothing to you?"

He was trying to make me laugh. It wasn't going to work.

"Potter, nothing about this shitty situation is funny. Now, go."

He ignored me and sat down, "Brought you some chocolate frogs."

He tossed one to me and it landed in my lap. I didn't touch it.

"I'm not eating that," I snapped, "It might be laced with happiness potion."

"You see right through my devilish plan," he smirked, picking up the box, opening it and taking a bite out of the frog. He turned the card over.

"Ugh, Dumbledore, again!" he said, "And I was hoping this one would be lucky!"

I was irritated. Why wouldn't he leave me to wallow in self pity?

"You're becoming increasingly bratty," I snapped.

"As are you," he said through a mouthful of chocolate.

"What point are you trying to make here?"

He shrugged, "That I'm not going to give up on you."

"Well, point taken."

He leant forward, his expression slightly less amused, and a bit more serious, "When I overheard Madame Pomfrey and Healer Robbins talking about the consequences of the accident, I kept thinking how this is all my fault. After all, I was racing you, wasn't I? I can't let you give up. If you do then that'll just be bloody crap."

My eyes darkened, "What do you mean, 'when you overheard madame Pomfrey and Healer Robbins?" I paused. Potter swallowed nervously. 

"N-nothing, I mean, well…what I meant to say was…"

"You knew, didn't you!" I interrupted him, my whole body on the alert and feeling completely enraged, "You knew before they told me! And you didn't say anything! You just let me carry on like an idiot, while you knew that my life was practically over!"

"I couldn't say anything," Potter said, "I tried, but Healer Robbins begged me not to."

Truth be told, I didn't actually care whether or not he had known, but I wanted him to go, an I wanted any excuse to be angry with him. I didn't look at him as I muttered. "Just go away Potter."

But yet again he shook his head, "No. You're not getting rid of me that easily Walker."

I felt myself grow to such a level of anger that I exploded in his face, "HOW DO I GET IT INTO YOUR THICK HEAD? I DON'T WANT YOU HERE! WE ARE NOT FRIENDS!"

For a moment, a flicker of hurt passed across his face, and I thought that maybe I should apologize.Then I remembered that I didn't have to because we weren't friends.

"How do I get this into yours?" he whispered, "I'm not leaving you."

My heart was clattering against my ribs, my heart in my mouth, the tips of my fingers trembling. I was so angry, and so afraid at the same time.

"I won't talk, if that's what you want," he continued, "But I'm staying."

I nodded, falling silent. Potter settled back into his chair. He began to look out of the window tactfully so I could turn my back to him, unwatched.

 

*          *          *

 

James POV

 

Two weeks later.

 

"FLY FLY GRYFFINDOR! FLY FLY GRYFFINDOR! FLY FLY GRYFFINDOR!"

An overwhelming amount of noise came to our ears as soon as we entered the great hall. Everyone who had ever had any sympathy with Gryffindor was roaring applause, all dressed in red and gold, flying enormous banners and flags.

"They know the game hasn't started yet, right?" Al murmured nervously in my ear.

Rose followed us in, looking startled as she saw the crowd that was all turned to face us, still chanting at the top of their lungs.

"Blimey," she muttered.

The crowd noticed Rose and began to chant something different.

"WEASLEY IS OUR QUEEN! WEASLEY IS OUR QUEEN! WEASLEY IS OUR QUEEN!"

Rose blushed to the roots of her hair.

We pushed our way through the crowd of quidditch fans and found an empty spot at the Gryffindor table.

Everyone gathered around us, wishing us luck and clapping us all on the back. But none of our hearts were really in it. 

It seemed there was a distinctly empty place next to Albus. I thought of Walker, sitting alone, able to hear the cheering, feeling miserable that she couldn't join in, perhaps for the rest of her life.

"We should visit her," I murmured to the team, "Before the game starts."

They nodded in unison. We got up and pushed our way back through the crowds. I noticed that Peakes was at the front of the procession.

 

*           *           *

 

Inside the hospital wing was the same as it had always been. Very white, very clean, very boring. I was here during most of my free time. Sometimes Max, Dan or Alex were there, but sometimes it was just Walker and I alone. 

She was alone now, sitting upright in bed and gazing intently out of the open window at the golden goal posts that were visible in the distance.

She grinned when she noticed us, "Hey guys. You look great!"

We all smiled kindly back at her. Peakes stepped unsurely forward.

"It won't be the same without you Walker," he said, "You know, no one to punch our teammates, no one to yell the shit out of me. No one to whack the bludger around and terrify the opposition."

Shame, if he wasn't such an arsehole I might have liked his sense of humour.

Walker actually laughed, however, and she nodded. "I'm sure that you can piss everyone off enough for one of them to punch you. Not all is lost."

They might have used the exact same words a month ago, and they would have a completely different intention. Now they were both laughing. 

"We'll miss you," Sarah Finnegan grinned, giving Walker a hug.

"Best beater ever," Rose said, also putting her arms around Charlie.

After everyone had exchanged kind words with her, they waved and left.

"Good luck!" she cried after them.

She noticed me lingering by the side of her bed.

"Look, Potter, I know you haven't been able to tear yourself away from my side these last two weeks, but this is a quidditch match. You have to go."

I smirked with laughter. Walker laughing was the best thing that could happen, after all the crap she'd been through.

I sat down on the side of the mattress.

"Just wanted to say that I'm sorry you're not going to be captain," I murmured.

There was a pause as she nodded, fiddling awkwardly with her fingers, "It's OK. Quidditch isn't everything. Besides, now that I'm out of the running, you actually have a shot."

I rolled my eyes, "Is it just your natural instinct to mock? I had plenty of chance!"

She laughed, "Please, you don't even come close to all of my awesome."

We chuckled, and a long silence ensued. 

She was unnervingly close. It was my own fault. I had always sat in the chair, but now I was sitting on the mattress, practically centimeters away from her. She lowered her piercingly blue eyes and started to fiddle with her fingers awkwardly again.

"Anyway," I croaked, "If I am made captain, I'm sorry. And when you walk again you can rejoin the team."

"If I can play at all," she whispered.

"You will," I replied, but the note of uncertainty in my voice was far to noticeable.

Another silence.

Suddenly she put her hand in my open palm that lay on the sheets. She squeezed it once.

"I'll be fine Potter," she said.

I wished that she hadn't touched me. I had noticed hazily that even the slightest contact seemed to make my brain fuzzy.

She let go, but the damage was done. Our faces were opposite each other.

"I have some really good news," she said, stopping short any possible thought of what might have happened next.

We were so close now, barely centimeters away. What would happen when that space got so small that it ceased to exist? But I pushed the thought completely out of my mind. Well…not a hundred percent out. Ninety nine.

"Healer Robbins came from St. Mungo's this morning," she continued, "And she explained to me this treatment that she says would work for me."

"Go on," I said.

"It's a new potion that's only just been invented. They're still working on it. Basically it numbs the pain, and holds my nerves together while I practice walking again. For now it only lasts an hour or so, so I'll have to be in a wheelchair, but she says that soon it'll be so improved that it'll last for a whole day!"

"That's great!" I exclaimed.

I pulled her into a friendly hug instinctively, and immediately regretted it. Close contact was not good.

I could feel her breathing on my neck, low and shallow. So close, too close. 

"Thank you for staying," she murmured softly, "For not giving up on me. You're…you're a good person."

Even more silence. My mind raced for something I could say that would fill the tense emptiness.

She drew away from me, holding me at arms length. Her eyelashes fluttered ever so slightly, those blue eyes fixated on mine and I found myself unable to look away.

This couldn't happen again. I wouldn't let it. It was a bad idea, through and through. She was injured, I was nervous about the game. This was happening for all the wrong reasons, but at the same time it felt like the right thing to do.

"I should really get to the game," I murmured, however still moving even further towards me, "McGonagall will kill me if I'm late. Seriously it'll probably be detention for months. I can't keep everyone waiting..."

I trailed off because my eyes were now on her lips. They were just so pink.

But before her lips touched mine the hospital wing door crashed open, and we both jumped apart. The tension broke. Or rather, smashed.

Rose appeared, frowning at both of us. There was a tense silence. Walker and I refused to look at each other, hardly willing to believe what had just happened.

"I forgot my gloves," Rose said, approaching the side table. I jumped up from Walker's mattress like it had sent an electric shock through me.

"We should go," I said to no one in particular, "Or we'll be late."

"OK," Walker answered.

I couldn't even look at her. But I hoped she wasn't as red as I was. Rose glanced from me to her.

"Let's go then," she said, grabbing my arm and marching me out of the hospital wing.

Once we were outside, with the door to the hospital firmly closed, she gave a huge grin.

"What?" I snapped.

She skipped alongside me as we walked out of the castle.

"Oh, nothing!" she said happily.

I glared at her, "Rose, cut it out."

She squealed, "You were kissing! You and Charlie were kissing! I knew it! Finally!"

"What?" I spluttered, "We weren't kissing!"

Or we would have been if she hadn't interrupted.

Rose rolled her eyes, "Of course you weren't." She tapped her nose annoyingly, "Your secret is safe with me."

"We weren't." I insisted, "It was just…a tense moment."

"And if I hadn't come in would you have kissed her?"

"None of your business."

"Okay! Okay!" she said defensively, before letting out another squeal, "But I can't believe you almost kissed her!"

My jaw set, "Rose can you just let it go? Nothing happened! I'd have to be a right idiot to let something like that happen again."

I immediately realized my error when Rose's eyes bulged with excitement and she jumped up and down. 

We had now stepped onto the grass, and were closer than ever to the quidditch pitch. Rose could hardly contain her happiness.

"Again? You mean, you guys kissed before?"

"No," I answered quickly, "Rose, keep your nose out of it."

She bit her lip to stop herself from squealing with happiness again. The walk down to the pitch became increasingly torturous. She was grinning like a loony, and I was scowling heavily.

The team were already dressed in their scarlet quidditch robes when Rose and I arrived at the pitch. The crowd was screaming enthusiastically, and the noise was almost defining.

The rest of the Gryffindor team, however looked unenthused. Half of it was because Walker was in the Hospital, unable to join us. The other half was because the Ravenclaw team seemed very large and aggressive, glaring at us angrily.

Professor McGonagall approached us, a grim look on her face.

"I'm sorry that we had to meet today under such unpleasant circumstances. Naturally we are all very sorry that Miss Walker cannot be here. However I said I would choose a captain. And I have decided that it will be you, James Potter."

I had imagined this moment in so many happy thoughts, where McGonagall made me captain and Walker stood scowling in the background. But now this victory was bittersweet.

"Thank you professor," I said.

She nodded curtly, before turning on her heel and making for the commentating box. 

"Well done, mate," said Al, clapping me once on the back. The rest of the team offered me weak smiles, but it was useless. It didn't make any of us feel any better.

Suddenly a tall, sharp-faced man approached us, his cold, almost bored expression focused entirely on Peakes.

"Jeremy," he said icily.

"Hello dad," Peakes muttered.

The rest of the team dispersed awkwardly, giving Mr. Peakes odd glances.

"Potter, this is my…dad. Dad this is Potter, our new captain."

Mr. Peakes then thrust a look that was more like a death stare upon me, before rounding on his son, "You said you were going to be made captain."

"That was ages ago, dad," he said, "Before…"

"I heard about the girl who got injured, stop making excuses for yourself Jeremy."

"I'm not-"

"I hope you perform at least half way decent today," he snapped, "Your mother and I missed our trip to the Lake District for this."

"Yes," Peakes muttered, staring at the ground.

His dad glared, "Yes, sir."

"Yes sir," Peakes said.

With that his dad marched off. I stared after him.

Peakes looked highly embarrassed, his cheeks red.

"You're dad is…" I trailed off.

"Shut up Potter, I don't need your pity," he muttered gruffly, before stomping off.

"Woah," Rose muttered, "So that's where the arsehole part comes from."

"Clearly," Sarah agreed, staring after Mr. Peakes and looking shocked.

But before we could go into further discussion on the topic of Mr. Peakes' horrible attitude towards his equally horrible son, Madame Hooch came towards the middle of the pitch, and the cheering soared to an almighty wave of sound.

"Captain's shake hands," she said, whistle half hanging out between her lips.

I put my hand forwards, and the Captain, a thuggish bloke named Stretton shook it back.

"On my whistle," said Madame Hooch shrilly.

We mounted our brooms, the cheering drowning out the countdown. The whistle blew and we kicked off. The balls flew after us and Rose promptly snatched the quaffle out of the air.

"Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen," said Lewis Jordan, over the noise of the crowd, "It's a beautiful April morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and we are witnessing a match that will decide who faces Slytherin in the quidditch cup final!"

I was at the goalposts, sitting on my broom, upright and alert.

"We have the very recent captain James Potter, and his team of Gryffindors, Rose Weasley, Sarah Finnegan and Joanna Rees are our three lovely chasers, Nicholas Spinnet and Jeremy Peakes are our beaters, with Albus Potter as seeker."

As Lewis rambled on through the list of Ravenclaw players I felt my stomach jolt as I remembered that it was possible to hear the commentary from the hospital wing. Walker would know exactly what was going on the entire time.

"Rose Weasley in possession of the quaffle. Of course the Gryffindor team suffered a great loss about a month and a half ago when Charlotte Walker, their beater was badly injured. It's unlikely that she will ever play quidditch again. OH! Weasley drops the quaffle and it is picked up by Stretton! Ooh, he's a big bloke! Peakes of Gryffindor aims a bludger at him, but NO! He misses! Like last match Gryffindor don't seem on top form!"

Rose was looking shocked, like she couldn't believe that she had let the quaffle slip through her fingers. In the stands I saw Mr. Peakes glaring at his son, who was gripping his beater's bat even more firmly.

In the meantime Stretton continued to hurtle towards me. I tensed, ready to throw myself in either direction once he threw it at me.

"Stretton is getting closer and closer to the goal!" cried Lewis, "Potter looks nervous! He's probably thinking about Walker lying in the hospital wing…all alone!"

I swung around to glare at the commentating box. I wanted to punch Lewis for saying that in front of everyone. My hands trembled with anger.

"AND STRETTON SCORES!" Lewis roared, "What an unbelievable goal! Potter's mind is clearly somewhere else!"

I growled and wrung out my hands in an effort to focus. Lewis was right, my mind was somewhere else.

 

*            *            *

 

Half an hour into the game and things were not going well.

"Seventy-Ten to Ravenclaw," Lewis uttered, looking like he wanted to punch someone.

The Gryffindors in the crowd were looking despondent. The Chasers had barely managed to hold onto the quaffle for more than a minute at a time, and their Keeper had saved only one goal out of eight, a save which had been entirely by accident.

I could tell that the team was beginning to feel despondent, knowing that if we continued like this we were surely going to lose. The Ravenclaw seeker was hovering around Albus, ready to pounce as soon as he spotted the snitch. Peakes and Spinnet was flying around, desperately trying to aim bludgers within at least a meter of one of the Ravenclaw players. My team was falling apart.

"Gryffindor really seems to be off their game today," Lewis said, "Meanwhile Thompson of Ravenclaw in possession of the quaffle, passes to Stretton, passes to Hamilton, and Potter lunges to save it! NO! Ravenclaw have scored again. Eighty-Ten to Ravenclaw."

The Gryffindors were now screaming angry abuse at whoever would listen. I knew how this would go. We would lose, and no one would ever let me forget what a disaster my first game had been.

The worst part was that Walker could probably hear everything from where she law. Maybe she'd be laughing mirthlessly, realizing what a shit captain I had turned out to be, but maybe she was yelling and cursing for us to get our act together and win us some bloody points.

What had that almost-kiss even meant? I didn't like her, I knew that. When you compared how I felt about Walker to how I felt about Faye, it was like comparing how I felt about school to how I felt about 

OK, maybe that was an unfair comparison. Walker wasn't unattractive, per se, she just…liked to hit people.

"Come on James!" Albus roared, zooming around the goalposts.

I gritted my teeth and focused. I couldn't be thinking about Walker at a time like this.

Stretton, quaffle under his arm again, passed to Hamilton, who came speeding towards me once again. My jaw set. This time I would catch it.

He launched it, and I caught it, feeling a small sense of victory as the crowds cheered.

"Potter saves his first goal of the day!" Lewis commented, "Now come on Potter junior! Catch that snitch or we might as well give up now! Sorry-sorry, Professor! Won't happen again!"

Professor McGonagall stopped trying to wrestle the microphone out of his grip, and sat, tight lipped and watching the game intently. She was probably cursing the day she ever decided to make me captain. She was probably wishing it wasn't Walker who was incarcerated in the hospital wing.

God damn it, I had to stop thinking about her. Right here, right now, that was what mattered. I had to give Gryffindor a victory. I had to give Walker a victory.

She needed a reason to walk again, maybe even fly again, and merlin, I was going to do everything in my power to give her one.

"And it remains Eighty-Ten to Ravenclaw," Lewis muttered angrily, "Stretton has the quaffle, and he makes a lunge for the goal, and YES! Potter catches it! Spectacular save!"

I was almost gobsmacked, it was like my arms had acted of their own accord. The crowd screamed approval once more.

"And Sarah Finnegan of Gryffindor catches the quaffle, and off she goes! She speeds down the pitch! Passes to Rees! And REES SCORES! OH MY MERLIN, I DON'T THINK I'VE EVER BEEN SO HAPPY!"

Joanna punched the air and the crowd went wild.

Hamilton of Ravenclaw caught the quaffle again, but Rose snuck up behind him and in his surprise he dropped it, where it was picked up by Joanna. 

"GRYFFINDOR SCORES YET AGAIN!" Lewis screamed, "Eighty-Thirty to Gryffindor!"

I grinned. My tiny victory had energized the team again. The three girls were completely focused, as committed as I was to giving Walker a victory. Or giving Gryffindor a victory…but, you know, same difference.

 

*             *           *

 

Lewis was now nearly beside himself with excitement , "One hundred and Twenty to Eighty! What an incredible turn around! Potter has saved every goal for half an hour, and the chasers have been on spectacular form!"

The Gryffindor crowd was still screaming happily. I couldn't help but grin.

Stretton and Hamilton had the quaffle again, and looked menacing, but I focused. I wasn't going to let them get past me.

"Ooh, Potter looks ready for this one! Come on Potter! This one's for Charlie Walker!"

I missed. The quaffle soared over my shoulder and into the goal posts.

The Ravenclaw's cheered. I glared at Lewis. Every time he mentioned Walker I seemed to freeze up, so feel free to interpret that how you wish.

But suddenly Lewis was screaming at the top of his lungs, jumping up and down with excitement as he roared something incoherent into the microphone. The Gryffindor's noise drowned out most of his tirade, but I caught three words.

"POTTER…SNITCH…WINS!"

I did a double take. The Gryffindor's were roaring, and I stared around wildly.

Had we won? Had Albus caught the snitch without even me noticing it?

"Feel free to hug me," yelled Albus, who I realized was sitting only a foot away from me, golden snitch clasped tightly in his raised fist. 

I was speechless. Albus Potter was officially my new hero.

I hit him so hard with my hug that I knocked all the wind out of him. 

"And Potter seems to be strangling Potter junior," Lewis said, sounding puzzled.

I immediately let go. Albus coughed a few times, "Ready for the finals?" he wheezed.

"Gryffindor wins! Two hundred and Seventy points to Ninety!" Lewis cried.

I added up the scores in my head. It was true, we were going through to the final. We had a chance at the cup!

The rest of the team had flown over to hug Albus tightly. We were all screaming, without even realizing how hoarse out voices were. We had done it!

Once we reached the ground the crowd engulfed us, shaking our hands and hugging us. Me and Spinnet hoisted Albus onto our shoulders and we began a procession towards the castle.

Everyone was making excited plans for a roaring party in the Gryffindor common room, but the it was only the team who knew where we were really going.

"To the hospital wing!" Albus roared.

 

*           *            *

 

"I always knew you were my favorite Potter," Walker grinned as she hugged Albus tightly.

I opened my mouth to protest, but decided against it and shrugged. Because after all, fair enough.

Rose popped open a bottle of mead and charmed it to start pouring itself into  glasses. Madame Pomfrey would normally have never agreed. But since Walker had decided on physical therapy, and plans were being made for her to walk again, she was in a good mood. And we had promised her a glass.

"You all ready to face Slytherin in a month and a half?" Walker asked.

"They'll never know what hit them," I said, ruffling Albus' hair.

She smiled, but looked away, not having forgotten our extremely awkward moment this morning.

"I have to tell you all something," she said, "I've been talking to Healer Robbins and Madame Pomfrey, and we've been making plans for my rehabilitation," she grinned.

Everyone cheered and hugged her, except for me because I had already found out. I stood, watching her smile at everyone, feeling as though they were all in a glass dome, and I was just on the outside looking in. 

After they had drunk their mead the others went up to join the party that had started without them. I stood up awkwardly.

"So…"

She nodded slowly, "So…"

There was a pause that was way too long.

"Great match," she said.

"Thanks," I said.

Another silence.

She tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled at the floor.

I couldn't take it much longer. What had followed was even more silence.

It was on the tip of my tongue. We would have to talk about it eventually.

In the end she beat me to it, "About this morning…"

"Yeah," I added, "Should probably figure out what that was."

We both chuckled awkwardly, but there was another tense pause.

"So…what was it?" I asked.

She shrugged, "I don't know."

"Me neither."

So far we had established that neither of us knew what it was that had happened this morning, even though we both knew what it was, and we both knew that the other knew what it was.

Fantastic.

"I mean, it would be a terrible idea anyway," she said.

Something in me felt disappointed. Not because I wanted to be with her, but because she didn't want anything to happen between us, and somehow I felt annoyed. What was wrong with me?

"I think so too," I said mutedly.

"I mean, it wouldn't lead to anything."

"Obviously."

"The idea of us is just laughable."

"Absolutely."

"It's just really, really funny."

"Definitely."

"So, shall we just forget it ever happened?"

"Sure," I said.

"And…not just…this morning, but also…the other time," She 

I knew she was talking about the time we had actually snogged. That seemed like so long ago now.

"Yeah," I muttered, "Of course."

Then she said the most surprising thing that Charlie Walker would probably say in her entire existence.

"We should just be friends."

I stared at her, gobsmacked. I'd previously thought the word 'friend' wasn't in Walker's vocabulary.

"F-friends?" I stared.

Then she blushed. I mean, she actually blushed

"Well, sorry if you don't feel like the past couple of months count as some form of friendship," she muttered defensively.

"No! No!" I cried hastily, "Of course, we should be friends."

"Right," she said eagerly, "I mean, ever since the accident, don't you feel like things have…"

"Changed?" I said.

"Yeah," she replied, "I mean, you've been so…nice."

"So have you," I lied.

She snorted in reply.

"Well, I want to help you get better," I said

"Thanks," she grinned.

"Okay," I said, "Well I'd better go."

I turned around to go, but she called after me.

"Oh, and Potter?"

"Yeah?"

"I was thinking you should start calling me Charlie."

 

 




 

A/N: So so so so so so so sorry for the long wait, I was incredibly busy over the winter holidays, and so much to do so little time, 

ANYWAY, Next Chapter we will see Charlie somewhere other than the hospital wing! Next chapter we'll see her and James actually getting along! And the infamous return of Faye Hamel...



So please let me know what you thought! Are you glad that Elliot is out of Charlie's life, are you glad that her and james had a 'moment', or do you prefer that they're planning on being friends instead? 



Next chapter shouldnt take too long :)

xxx


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