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Chapter 28 : The Ball
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I’d quickly rushed into getting myself ready; I had a mere hour to make myself look decent. Luckily, I hadn’t needed to buy a dress; a girl who worked in fashion at Witch Weekly had lent one to me. I’d put it carefully at the back of my wardrobe, which was why I had forgotten it completely. It was strewn across my bed at the moment as I was doing my make-up and hair, my curls twisting themselves into an elegant style due to my wand, whilst I applied copious amounts of concealer and mascara to my eyes.
“Lise?” a soft knock came at the door and I twitched slightly. James. I needed to talk to him though, otherwise the evening would be spoilt.
“Come in” I yelled to him, forgetting that I was only in my skimpy underwear sat in front of mirror, well, until James entered the room and choked slightly in surprise.
“What are you getting all dressed up for?”
“The ball” I replied with a smile at him through the mirror. “The same ball you’re getting dressed up for incidentally.”
The colour appeared to drain from James’ face as he stared at me, an annoyed expression painting his features almost immediately.
“You’re going to the ball?”
“Of course I am” I laughed. “I’ve got to write an article on it, haven’t I?”
“Well, no… yes…” James ran a stressed hand through his hair. “I just didn’t know you were going to the ball, that’s all.”
I laughed. “Why? That’s fine, isn’t it? We can spend the evening together, I know Debbie is going to ditch me for Colin when he appears for the Prophet, so…”
“Er, right… See, I didn’t know you were coming to the ball, so I sort of… because everyone else was, you know, and I, er…”
I glanced over my shoulder at James, who was pacing up and down the length of my room with a pained expression on his face.
“Oh” I sighed. “You have a date, don’t you?”
James whipped his head around and rushed to my side. “It was only because coach told me I had to! I would have asked you… she’s one of the reserves, I don’t… I mean, we agreed to go as friends, because she didn’t have a date either, I’m…”
“What time are you picking her up, James?”
“Oh, er… now actually.”
“Well, don’t be late for her, it’s rude” I sighed as I stood up from the mirror and my wand ceased it’s actions on my hair.
“Right… you look gorgeous by the way Lise” James looked me up and down and smiled appreciatively.
“I’m half naked James” I replied dryly, and he smirked at me, but then reached out to grab my waist as I passed him.
“Are you angry with me?” he whispered in my ear, his chest pressed against my back, both of our breathing heavy.
“No” I replied shortly, shrugging him off. “But don’t do that please.”
“What?” James frowned. “I’m not allowed to touch you now?” he huffed. “What’s wrong with you now, Lise? Last night and this morning we were…”
“You’re about to take another girl out James, it’s just weird.”
“As a friend Lise, not as a…” James paused and glanced at my expression, his lips twitching up into a small smirk. “Are you… jealous?”
“I thought you were taking her as a friend, James” I turned my back on him. “Why would I be jealous about that?”
“I don’t know” James replied, as he stepped towards me, his hands coming to rest on my hips as he traced patterns along my bare skin, his breath hitting the back of my neck, making the hairs stand on end. “But you’re definitely jealous.”
“I’m not jealous… I just feel like…”
“Like what?” he murmured as he pressed a kiss to my neck.
I leant back into his chest and closed my eyes. “Like you’ve blown me off or something. That’s all. Like I was a…”
“You’re not a one night stand, Lise” James kissed my neck again, mumbling into my ear delicately. “It’s more than that, and I demand a dance at the ball, so we can talk about it then.”
“Don’t you have a date to pick up?” I giggled as his hand traced further down my hip, fingering the edge of my laced knickers.
“Damn” James muttered, kissing my neck once again. “I forgot, sorry.”
“I’ll see you at the ball, James” I nudged him off me, turning to face him with an amused expression as he smirked at the sight of me stood in front of him half-naked.
With a jovial wave, James disapparated and I slipped my dress on, retrieving my heels from the corner before examining myself in the mirror. I looked good.
Fred had gone out for the evening, or so I assumed, as when I’d exited my room I’d found the flat empty. Glancing at the clock, I remembered I was meant to have met Debbie outside the hall that the charity ball would be hosted in around two minutes ago, so I scribbled a short note to Fred in case he wondered where I was and apparated over to the special events hall of the Ministry.
“You’re late” Debbie tutted at me as soon as she spotted me, making her way over to me with a smile as her camera bounced about around her neck.
“Sorry, I got distracted. I completely forgot this was tonight, actually.”
Debbie laughed and smoothed down her dress slightly. “I figured you might have. Hogsmeade day today, right? How’s Naomi?”
I loved how even though Debbie and Naomi hadn’t met yet, Debbie still acted caring towards her in the way I did. I guessed I talked about her too much when I was with Debbie.
“She’s alright” I smiled. “We had a slight run in with Fred, and she got a bit upset over Theo, but other than that we had a nice day.”
“Oh, did Fred say something to her?”
I shrugged slightly. “I guess so, but I think he was just a bit embarrassed really, he can’t stop thinking about her at the moment.”
“Fred likes her?”
“I think it’s more along the lines of he finds her physically attractive, if you know what I mean.”
Debbie nodded her head sympathetically. “Men” she sighed. “They’re a waste of air half the time.”
We entered the ball together, after confirming we were on the guest list to the doorman, and simultaneously raised our eyebrows at the beauty of the events hall. It was truly magnificent, and decorated wonderfully to suit the occasion.
An hour later found us sipping on drinks and chatting to the rest of the people seated at our table, which included most of James’ Arrows team. James was nowhere to be found, and I didn’t want to ask if anybody had seen him because I wasn’t too keen on meeting his date. I didn’t doubt that she was a very nice person, it’s just I imagined I’d find it very weird.
Colin came skipping over a moment later (well, not actually skipping just sort of bouncing happily) and dragged Debbie off for a dance after a quick chat with me. They looked a complete sight dancing with one another, their bulky cameras getting in the way of their arms, yet they were so loving and sweet with one another you couldn’t laugh. It was sort of overwhelming to watch them, just as it was to watch Alice and Drew, or Bea and Nick.
“I wondered when I’d see you this evening” Robert grinned down at me as he stepped in front of me, blocking my view of Debbie and Colin.
“Robert!” I smiled, jumping up from my seat to greet him. “It’s great to see you!”
“And you” he smiled, politely bending down to kiss my cheek. “Been interviewing a few people then?”
“Some” I grinned. “Surprisingly though, Quidditch players aren’t all that interesting. What are you doing here, anyway?” I laughed. “You’re a Ministry man!”
“Oh, Natalie… my girlfriend, invited me” Robert glanced over his shoulder as if looking for her. “Her brother plays for the Cannons.”
“Oh, right. Where is she?”
“Around here somewhere… probably with her friends gossiping over how handsome I look tonight” Robert laughed and I chuckled lightly, my gaze flicking to a pretty girl who was fighting through the crowds of dancers to reach us.
“Hi” she said, rather breathlessly. “I’m Natalie” she held out her hand with a small smile, and I quickly shook it with a friendly smile of my own.
“Lise” I replied and Natalie instantly smiled up at Robert, who raised his eyebrows at her.
“I knew I recognised you from somewhere!” she smiled. “You’re Robert’s ex-girlfriend from last year, aren’t you?”
“Natalie, don’t embarrass her” Robert rolled his eyes, slipping a hand around an apologetic looking Natalie’s waist.
“Merlin, sorry Lise, sometimes I’m a bit…” Natalie smiled nervously. “It’s a Hufflepuff thing I think… I’m too over-friendly.”
“Don’t worry about it” I chuckled and Natalie sighed happily.
“So, how come I didn’t see you around Hogwarts then?”
“Oh” Natalie smiled brightly. “I’m the year below you, in Hufflepuff. I don’t suppose it would have been very likely that our paths would have crossed.”
“Right, so you’re still at Hogwarts then?”
“Yeah” Natalie twisted to smile at Robert. “It was a bit hard to start with… you know, missing each other, but we’re working through it, aren’t we Rob?”
Robert nodded with a happy smile. “Yes we are, Nat love.”
I grinned at the pair of them, but my smile faltered as I looked past Natalie’s shoulder and saw James, dancing with his date.
She was very pretty. That was the first thing that I noticed about her, her slim figure, her dainty smile and the way James’ hand was placed on her waist. Their bodies were close as they danced, chatting with one another. She tilted her head backwards as he said something to make her laugh and my stomach began to twist violently in jealousy.
“Oh my goodness!” Natalie squeaked as she and Robert turned to see what had me so distracted. “Is that James Potter with Annabelle?!”
“Annabelle?” I asked in a low voice. Robert placed a calming hand on my shoulder, as if trying to hold me back from striding over there and pulling the pair of them apart. I was tempted by the thought of it.
“Yes, she’s one of my brother’s friends, a reserve for the Arrows… I thought she liked my brother’s friend Adam actually, I didn’t think she would be interested in someone else…” Naomi mused quietly to herself and I narrowed my eyes at the pair of them.
At that moment James lifted his head and glanced at me. I stared blankly back at him, tensing slightly as Robert gripped my shoulder tighter in warning. Then, without another second to wait, James leant down and kissed his date, Annabelle on the lips, in front of everyone.
I gasped quietly, feeling the tears quickly spring to my eyes as I turned away from the sight of James with another girl. My face was flushed, I could feel it, and I was so mortified that I’d actually fallen for it again, fallen for him again, when I’d already learnt what he was like.
I wasn’t really aware of where my feet were leading me, instead concentrating on ridding the image of James and that Annabelle girl, who I had now decided I hated. I tried to rationalise my thoughts as I reached dark corner in a private room, sinking down into an armchair by a fire. The room oddly reminded me of the Gryffindor common room, which just made me cry even harder.
I wrenched myself up out of the armchair as soon as I heard somebody else enter the room, wiping my tears away hurriedly.
I stopped instantly, lifting my head to look at the intruder, recognising the low, gruff tone of my father in a moment.
“…Dad?” I gasped disbelievingly, stepping closer to the figure with hunched shoulders. At the sound of my voice he hung his head, as if in shame, and spoke to his shoes.
“I don’t think I deserve to be called that after these past few months.”
“You haven’t been much of a father these past few years if I’m being honest, Dad.”
He looked up at that, stepping towards me so I could see his expression clearly in the dim light. He looked tired, weary, as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. As if to prove my judgement, he rubbed at his eyes wearily.
“I’m sorry” he murmured, and I couldn’t help but smile, reaching to take his hand as it fell to his side.
“Why did you come and find me?” I squeezed his hand reassuringly and he frowned at me.
“You looked upset… I’ve been watching you all evening… what did James Potter do to you?”
I laughed at the slightly protective note in my father’s voice, something I’d never thought I’d hear from him. “It’s nothing; it’s you that’s important to me.”
Dad’s face crumpled slightly as he looked into my eyes.
“Why didn’t you write to me?” I whispered, and he squeezed my hand, mimicking my actions and reaching to hold my other hand as well.
“I thought you hated me. I didn’t think you wanted me to.”
“Of course I don’t hate you, Dad” I sighed. “I forgave Mum didn’t I? Didn’t you read my article?”
“Of course I read it sweetheart, what kind of father would I be if I hadn’t?” he looked at me commandingly then, a smile playing at his lips. “Don’t answer that, you cheeky monkey.”
“Is that what changed your mind? My article about it?”
Dad nodded and smiled down at me proudly. “It was such a wonderful piece, darling, I had no idea you were so talented.”
“Thanks Dad” I mumbled, moving to wrap my arms around his middle and burying my face into his chest as the tears leaked from my eyes once more.
“Is this it? I’m forgiven?” Dad scoffed in wonder, lightly patting my hair soothingly, wrapping his arms around my shoulders protectively.
“If you stick around for Christmas, then maybe” I sniffled into his chest and felt it shudder underneath me as he chuckled.
“I’ve missed you sweetheart.”
“I’ve missed you too, Daddy.”
“Now, what happened with James? I thought he was one of your best friends?”
I nodded into his chest and sniffed back a few tears. “I’m in love with him” I sighed at how dramatic I sounded.
“Isn’t he here with some girl though?”
“Yeah” I broke down into noiseless sobs as I buried my face back into Dad’s shirt. “I love him, and he kissed her right in front of me.”
“As a father, I’m allowed to kill him if he hurts my daughter, aren’t I?” Dad growled, and I instantly glanced up at him fearfully.
“No! Don’t Dad… it’s all my fault really, I hurt him too… I…”
“How could you have possibly hurt him, Lise?”
“I didn’t give him a chance” I sniffled. “And I should have, because he used to… used to be good, and lovely and…”
“Shhh, shhh now darling, don’t cry” my Dad whispered soothingly as he stroked my curls. “If he hurts you, he doesn’t deserve you… remember that.”
Dad took me home about an hour later. As soon as I got home I scribbled a note to Debbie, apologising for disappearing and leaving early, but I hoped she’d understand when I explained it to her next time I saw her. Then I collapsed on the couch, wondering where the hell Fred was when I needed him. He hardly seemed to be around anymore, and he never mentioned where he disappeared off to, it was as if he was hiding something.
As I sat there, curled up in a ball and contemplating where Fred was, my thoughts strayed back to my father. Should I have forgiven him as easily as that? Perhaps some would say I shouldn’t have, but he was my father and I knew I would always love him, no matter what. Besides, I’d forgiven my mother for the lies, why shouldn’t I forgive Dad too? He wanted to reconcile just as much as I did.
Then I thought of James, and how I’d resorted to crying to my father about him now, as well as everybody else in my life. What would happen when he’d hurt me so many times I’d cried on every single wizard or witches shoulder? What was wrong with him? Really, he looked at me before he kissed Annabelle, as if he knew it would hurt me… as if, he wanted it to hurt me.
But, why? What had I done wrong? Yes, I’d rejected him months ago, because I was scared of loving him, scared of being hurt by him. But now, now I’d slept with him, I’d been ready to be his girlfriend, so ready to admit that I was in love with him. And he’d known this, surely he had known this, the signs weren’t exactly hard to miss… But he’d hurt me, again, as if my feelings didn’t matter. As if I didn’t matter to him.
“I hate him!” I muttered furiously, pulling my hair out of its style and tugging at the roots, the sobs overcoming my body once more. “I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!”
“Please don’t say that” he whispered as he apparated into the room with a resounding crack.
“Why?” I demanded. “Why the hell can’t I say it, James?” I stepped up from my seat, glaring at him furiously. “Because it’s true! I hate you!”
It was satisfying to see him flinch when I said that to him. It meant he felt something, even if it was just remorse for how pitiful I must seem to him right now.
I didn’t care, I just wanted to hurt him like he’d hurt me.
“Lise… please” he murmured. “Let me explain…”
“Explain what, exactly?!” I yelled at him. “Why the hell you’d tell me you wanted to be with me, then kiss another girl?!” I threw my hands up into the air in frustration. “Why you’d have sex with me, and then kiss another girl a day after? What is wrong with you James?” I stepped closer to him, jabbing a finger into his chest. “Do you enjoy it?” I seethed. “Do you enjoy hurting me, is it fun?”
“I hate you, James, I really do. I absolutely loathe you. You’re meant to be my best friend, you’re meant to care about me, not hurt me. Look at me!” I yelled, gesturing wildly to my tear-stained face and wild hair. “I’m a mess! I’m completely pathetic! Just so damn stupid, so pitiful. Look at me, Anneliese Lynch, the one everyone feels sorry for, because I’m completely and utterly, hopelessly in love with a prat like you… James Potter!”
James’ eyes widened as he reached for my hands which had tried to slap his chest in anguish. I felt so… useless as his hands closed around my wrists and my pulse quickened at his mere touch.
“Lise, please, I didn’t…”
“Didn’t what?” I sobbed. “Realise how much you were hurting me? I’m bloody in love with you James! I don’t know why, because you hurt me so much, but I do. And…” I hiccupped hysterically through my sobs now, cringing at how pathetic I must seem to James. “And you don’t even… you don’t even love me back!” I dissolved into more sobs now, hanging my head onto my chest as James still held my wrists to his chest.
“I do” he replied shortly, looking over my head at the fireplace.
“P-Pardon?” I squinted up at him, blinking my tears away to look into his piercing gaze.
“I love you, Lise. I do, I promise.”
I shook my head. “Don’t lie to me James, please, it’ll just…”
“No” he shook his head. “I mean it, I love you Lise. I bloody love you. Please, believe me Lise, please.”
“I don’t…” I stopped short and sniffed back any final tears. “Kiss me.”
“Er… what?” James blinked slowly and I sighed in annoyance.
“Kiss me. Go on, James, kiss me.”
“Is this a test?” James bit his lip unsurely and I frowned at him.
“James!” I whinged dramatically. “Just bloody kiss me!”
With one last tentative look at me, James lowered his head and caught my lips with his. And suddenly, it was there… what I’d been looking for. I could feel it, racing through me as James and I kissed feverishly, our lips never breaking contact. It seemed to be celebrating, making my heart beat wildly, making James’ heart beat wildly too, making my head spin and my knees go weak as James let go of my wrists and grabbed my face in his hands, pulling me still closer to him.
I broke off suddenly, staring at him in absolute disbelief. “You love me” I murmured with wide eyes, touching my swollen lips unsurely.
He nodded quickly, dipping his head to plant a sweet kiss on my lips. “I love you.”
“I love you too” I grinned, before grabbing his head and pulling his lips back to mine. In an instant I was up against the wall, my legs wrapped around his waist as he ran his hands up and down my thigh, my hands grabbing his hair as we kissed one another desperately, yet at the same time lovingly. Because he loved me, James loved me like I loved him… we loved each other.
And then suddenly, everything seemed perfect. I had my friends, both of my dysfunctional parents and I had James. The boy I loved, who loved me back.
And there was my happy ending.
A/N- I know, I know, it’s seriously fluffy and cliché and all that, but it had to be that way really (or in my opinion anyway!) I hope you liked it, I worked hard on it, I swear! Only one more chapter left guys, this seems like an ending, and it is in a way, but I wanted to tie up all the loose ends for you to keep me satisfied that I’d told the whole story. So thank you very much for reading, please review as I absolutely adore reading and replying to them, and the final chapter will be up as soon as possible!
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