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Stronger by classicblack
Chapter 17 : Almost Lover
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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James rifled frantically through the old Prophets. It was early the morning after Hallowe’en. He’d grabbed the Invisibility Cloak and snuck into the library as soon as his senses had returned to him- which, admittedly, had taken so long using the Cloak had only been necessary for a half hour before the library opened.

He was looking for those newspaper articles that his parents had never allowed in the house- those ones about Voldemort and his Death Eaters. He’d been searching for almost an hour until he finally let out a triumphant shout and received a glare from the librarian.

He held the Prophets in his hands and quickly began sorting through them until he found the one he wanted.

He stared at it.

Here it was: the proof.

The proof that Calla hadn’t made up some sick and twisted lie.

The evidence that the girl he had believed himself to be in love with was the daughter of a Death Eater. The Daily Prophet article saying that Alden Mulciber, along with nine other high-security prisoners, had escaped from Azkaban in January 1996.

She hadn’t been lying.

James stared at the leering photograph of her father for a long while, trying to find the resemblance.

~

She wondered, in a hypothetical situation, how many outs she must have gotten because she hadn’t managed to hit any of the curveballs life threw at her. Of course her father had had to pick the one baseball quote that was completely and totally false. She wasn’t in control and she was pretty damn sure no one else would be either.

It had been a day. One day and the entire school already knew every gruesome detail about the Matthews-Potter breakup, except what actually happened. As usual, there were many theories, but no one but Andie and Beth and James knew that Calla’s father was a Death Eater or that Rose and Scorpius were dating.

It actually wasn’t the gossip mill’s fault this time. The news had spread like wildfire once Calla had walked downstairs with her hair grey. People were bound to notice that something had happened. The pieces of the puzzle hadn’t been too difficult to put together when she and James had sat at opposite ends of the Gryffindor table at breakfast.

She hadn’t cried since she had done it. Halfway back to Gryffindor Tower Calla had realised what a sight she must look and had slowed her pace and wiped her eyes. No need to give the gossip mill more to run on. She kept her hair purposefully green and had walked through the common room with no one suspecting a thing.

It was only until she had barged into the seventh year girls’ dormitory and pulled Andie and Beth out of the bathroom, where they had been brushing their teeth, and into her room, that she made a single sound. She had told them everything.

They’d remained speechless until Andie had sounded a loud oath, called James a few choice names, and been kicked out of Calla’s room, Beth only stopping to give Calla a hug before following suit.

For some reason, Calla was glad that they hadn’t made such a big deal over it. She figured that if she had thought about it more than necessary, she’d be even more upset over the whole ordeal and would spiral back into the state of depression she’d been in when her parents had been murdered.

She didn’t want to be the teenager that completely fell apart after a bad breakup. She didn’t want to be one of those girls.

Unlike the beginning of the school year, people mostly left her alone. Perhaps it was result of her previous displays of violence (such as punching Ambs) when she was ticked off that people kept their distance.

That didn’t stop most of the female population of Hogwarts from gossiping in the toilets, though.

“Did you hear?”

“Of course: James Potter is single again!” Insert girlish squeal here.

“I wonder how he broke it off with that girl he was dating- Cara- or whatever her name was.” Insert snort from Calla because they bloody well knew what her name was.

“Didn’t you hear? She cheated on him with Scorpius Malfoy!”

No! That bitch!”

Insert pathetic sigh here. “Well, if James needs a shoulder to cry on, I’m completely available.”

Insert slamming of door here. “Did you all hear? James Potter is single!”

And so the cycle would repeat over and over again with varying levels of hilarity. Calla would always laugh, most of the time humourlessly, when the girls got to the part of why she and James had broken up.

No matter how many giggles she got from overhearing the gossip runs though, Calla remained downhearted. She still laughed and joked with her friends and pretended to be animated, but inside she was breaking. Inside she felt betrayed and hurt that James hadn’t been able to deal with the truth of her parentage.

Although, she supposed she’d always suspected it to happen like this. He was a Potter, after all. He couldn’t be expected to do anything but hate the Dark Arts and all those connected with them.

Changing her hair to a light brown (the best she could muster), Calla moved mechanically from Charms to Transfiguration with Andie and Beth. Andie, obviously trying to mask the tension and lighten the atmosphere, was joking and Beth was laughing not-so-uncomfortably along.

Suddenly, Calla was pulled away from the group. She turned startled away from Andie, who was walking steamily by Fred’s side (their relationship had quickly gone downhill, although Fred didn’t seem to notice), and Beth, who had shimmied over to Carter’s side, still trying to make it seem like she wasn’t picking favourites.

Calla was facing Rose, who was staring at her desperately.

“Calla, I’m so sorry about everything-!” Rose began.

“Rose, it’s fine. It wasn’t your fault- James would’ve found out eventually.”

“Calla, honestly, I don’t know why James is being such an arse! He completely overreacted and he’s mad if he gives up on someone as fantastic as you just because he’s angry-”

“Rose-”

“No, Calla! He shouldn’t have broken up with you just because he’s a total twat who can’t take the fact that-”

“Rose, I broke up with him,” Calla said calmly, her heart breaking, cutting across Rose. “I broke up with him. I won’t tell you why, but it’s not because of you or Malfoy. It’s just that James and I, well, let’s just say we have different views on a certain subject... and it wouldn’t have worked out either way.”

“That’s bullocks. I’m going to talk some sense into that boy if it’s the last thing I-!”

“Honestly, Rose, please don’t. He must feel bad enough as it is.” And Calla truly meant it. She truly felt that James did feel bad for it, but also that nothing could change the fact of how he felt about the subject.

“Blimey, it is complicated isn’t it?” Rose asked, taking a step back and surveying Calla. Calla sighed and ran her fingers through her hair.

“’Course it is- it’s James isn’t it? I don’t think it’s possible to have a non-complicated relationship with a Potter,” she joked. Rose laughed.

“I don’t know, Calla, Al is a bit drama-free...” Calla raised her eyebrows.

“Imagine if I dated Albus with all my history with James? I think the school might explode.”

Rose smirked. “Eh, fair point.” The two of them grinned at each other before the smile slowly slid of Rose’s face and she turned serious. “I really am sorry, Calla.”

“Don’t be- it wouldn’t’ve worked out anyway. James is an arrogant toerag, remember?” Calla grinned half-heartedly.

“Yeah, yeah he is,” Rose said sadly.

~

James could see why Calla had always been so affected by gossip. Over the course of his Hogwarts years, really his whole life, James had been one of the forerunners of gossip mill sources. He suspected, though, that the rumours about him had never been as bad as they could have been, especially because he’d never been in the middle of a relationship scandal.

That had all changed. Gossip was nasty and he’d just not realised the extent of nastiness it went to. He’d never doubt Calla again when she said how horrible Hogwarts rumours were.

That is, if he ever talked to Calla again.

Not to mention, Lauren Martin (who he’d finally realised was a total bitch during the time he and Calla had dated) now believed that she had a chance again. It was only the next morning and she was already throwing herself at him.

James sighed morosely and looked down the Gryffindor table.

Calla still wasn’t there. He found it difficult to even think her name. His mind was completely muddled as he thought of what he’d found out only last night.

He supposed he should’ve seen it coming. She’d told him that day after Defence Against the Dark Arts that she’d been adopted and her parents had been pureblood. Why hadn’t he been able to put it together that she would’ve told him who her parents had been if they had been someone good? He supposed he wouldn’t have believed it anyway even if she had told him or he had figured it out.

He still didn’t believe it. He knew she wouldn’t have made something like this up and he knew for a fact that Alden Mulciber had been a Death Eater, but it was just so strange to think that someone as evil and horrible as him had produced someone like Calla. Someone so wonderful and good that James had fallen in love with her in first year.

Now, though, he didn’t know what he felt. Somewhere deep inside he felt he might still love her, but he was glad he hadn’t told her yet when they’d been dating. He was glad that he’d figured it would’ve been too soon.

She had been right. He did look at her differently. He did stare at her and think of Mulciber.

He didn’t want to. He knew she’d been raised by good Muggles and not by Mulciber and he didn’t want to contaminate her with the thought of a Death Eater, but it was inevitable. When she’d asked if he could tell her that he wouldn’t look at her or think of her differently, he’d wanted to scream yes. He’d wanted to run up and kiss her and be able to say that he didn’t care; they’d move past it, it was fine.

But he hadn’t been able to say that. Half of him had screamed at him that he loved her, but the other half, the half that had been raised to despise all things Death Eater, those that had killed his grandparents, murdered his Uncle Fred, tried to torture his parents and family, had been dominant. It had taken over and he hadn’t been able to say what he wanted. He hadn’t been able to move past it.

Someday, he thought, he might get over it.

But not today.

“Mate, c’mon, you’ve got to eat-” Fred began, having just as much of a clue of why James and she had broken up as the rest of the school, but he was cut off by Rose, who slid smoothly into the seat across from James.

“You, my dear cousin, are an absolute prat,” she said, glaring at him and ripping off a piece of chicken from a nearby leg.

“I’m not in the mood, Rose,” James said tiredly. “Fred, I think I’ll just-”

“Oh no you don’t James Sirius Potter. We’re going to talk about why you and Calla-”

“Rose,” James said, narrowing his eyes at her and giving her a warning look. “Don’t even start.”

“No. I don’t care if you were pissed about me- you had no right to-”

“Has it ever occurred to you that she broke it off with me,” James hissed, glancing around to make sure no one was listening in.

“Yeah she told me that, but I know Calla and I know that she wouldn’t have ended it if she didn’t think it was for the best. Now, obviously, you were acting like such a git because of what happened that she thought she had a good reason- which is totally barmy- but it’s clearly all your fault,” Rose whispered back heatedly, gnawing on her chicken.

“Am I missing something here?” Fred asked, staring back and forth between the two of them. They both ignored him. James wished Rose would shut up- he didn’t need reminding of what had happened or of the fact that his favourite cousin was dating a Malfoy. He already had too many children of Death Eaters in his life as it was.

“Yelling at James, are you? Good, I was just about to,” Lily said as she slid in next to James, following by Roxie who sat down by Rose, clearly sensing a family argument and wanting to get in on the action. James saw Lucy look up from the Hufflepuff table.

James violently stabbed a potato and glared at his family. “Why is it suddenly my fault? You two-” he gestured to Lily and Roxie “-don’t even know what the hell this is even about. Matthews-” he flinched inwardly “-was the one who broke it off with me and no matter what you say Rose, you are much more to blame for any of this than I am!”

Lily and Roxie snorted as Rose stared at him. Fred shook his head and shrugged, evidently deciding it wasn’t worth his effort to attempt to keep up with the conversation. “Rose, what is he talking about?” Roxie scoffed.

“Nothing,” Rose grumbled, flaring her nostrils in James direction. “He’s just being an arse.”

“Didn’t you tell them Rose? You’ve got to tell the family eventually,” James mocked venomously, all the old anger from the previous night returning in full force as he stared at Rose.

Her ears began to get bright red just as his Uncle Ron’s did when he was embarrassed or angry, and Rose was now both.

Rose opened her mouth to retaliate just as Roxie and Lily did to ask questions or yell at James some more.

“Are we having a family meeting that nobody told me about?” Albus joked as he came up upon their group. Suddenly, James smirked at Rose.

“No, but Rose has something she wants to tell you Al,” James said in a sickeningly sweet voice. He shouldn’t have been taking out his anger at Rose on Albus by giving him the shock of a lifetime, but he couldn’t help it. He was about to explode.

“Yeah, what’s that?” Al asked, completely oblivious to the tense atmosphere.

“Well then! We should probably go. Got to get to the library, right Roxie?” Lily said and she hopped up and pulled Roxie away, giving James a look that clearly said he’d better tell her later.

“Henry!” Fred said, jumping up as Henry came upon their group. “Care to help me with my Charms homework? There’s a good chap!” With that, Fred quickly led a confused Henry away from the table, clearly meaning to avoid the oncoming explosion.

“It’s nothing, Al, forget it. James is just being stupid,” Rose said quickly and frantically, obviously trying to distract Al from the issue.

“Is that your only comeback Rose?” James taunted. “That I’m stupid. Well I don’t have to be smart to know what was going on between you and Scorpius last night.” He hissed the last sentence so low that only Albus and Rose had been able to hear it. Rose turned scarlet, her hair blending in with her forehead.

Al’s eyes widened. He stared at Rose and then turned his head and stared at Scorpius, who seemed to be watching the conversation intensely from the Slytherin table.

“Rose... What exactly did Scorpius and you do last night?”

“You are a complete arsehole, James Potter!” Rose cried and she got up and walked swiftly and angrily from the Great Hall.

“James...” Al turned back to James with his mouth gaping open. The thrill of making Rose angry and getting back at her for somehow ruining his relationship with Calla was wearing off and James felt slightly, but only a tiny little bit, guilty for saying anything so he just shrugged.

Al stormed out after Rose.

Then James’s natural instinct took over and he realised he’d done completely right by telling Al. Rose needed to own up to the fact that she was betraying the name of Weasley by dating the child of a Death Eater.

Then, with a flash of sadness, James realised he’d done the same thing. Maybe Scorpius was Rose’s Calla. Maybe, like Calla, Scorpius wasn’t like his father.

Or maybe he was an arrogant little ferret just like Draco Malfoy... You never knew.

Raising his eyebrows at Scorpius, who was still watching the Gryffindor table, James got up and followed Al and Rose out of the Great Hall.

He was barely past the marble staircase when he sensed Scorpius following him. James was quite surprised how inconspicuously they’d all managed to exit lunch. Or maybe he just thought it had been subtle and everyone had actually noticed.

Perfect, more gossip.

“What the hell did you do, Potter?” Scorpius said furiously as he strode quickly next to James.

“Really, Malfoy, I think it should be you who is asking about what you did. You and your meddling in my family has caused more problems than you can imagine,” James ridiculed.

“Or maybe, Potter, you’re just an egotistical idiot who can’t get past prejudices that were created decades ago,” Malfoy said vehemently.

They were silent and continued to speed along side-by-side until they began to hear raised voices.

“-do you mean you and Scorpius are dating?!” They heard Albus stomping around a corridor as he shouted.

“I mean we bloody go on dates! I mean we are boyfriend and girlfriend! Would you like me to draw a diagram, Al, of what happens when two people date? I thought you would’ve known considering you have a girlfriend!” Rose screamed sarcastically.

What?” James heard a voice behind him and he and Malfoy both jumped. They turned and James saw Hugo behind them, obviously having just heard that Rose was dating Scorpius. Hugo was staring at Malfoy in disgust. He pushed past James and stormed towards Rose and Al’s voices. James and Malfoy quickly followed.

“Oh perfect!” Rose screeched as she saw her brother, cousin, and boyfriend round the corner. “Just bloody perfect!”

Al turned to see what she was screaming at and his face darkened as his eyes landed on Scorpius. He took two strides forward and lunged at Scorpius. He began pummelling every inch of his friend and the worst part to watch for James was that Malfoy wasn’t fighting back. He was letting Al punch him.

It made James feel a bit sick and so he quickly stepped forward and pulling the struggling Albus off Malfoy.

Malfoy just laid there on the floor with two black eyes blossoming on his face and a slow trickle of blood coming from his nose.

“Scorpius!” Rose yelled and trying to run forward, but Hugo, with his little fourteen year-old body, held her back, glaring at Scorpius.

Malfoy slowly began getting up, wiping the blood from his face, as Al screamed. “She’s my cousin! You bastard, I can’t believe you’d do this! You were my best friend, but I guess I should have fucking known never to trust a Malfoy! I can’t believe you- she’s my cousin!”

Albus struggled ferociously against James grip. Half of James wanted to let him go while the other half wisely kept Al in a tight hold.

“Al, please, just let me-” Rose began pleadingly, tears welling up in her eyes.

“You stay out of it,” Al said fiercely. “You’re just as much to blame as he is.”

“Al, mate, I swear I didn’t mean to screw you over. It just happened. We just started seeing each other more and mate, honestly, I love her. I’m not going to mess with her. I wouldn’t do that to you!  You’re my best friend!” Scorpius said calmly as he stared at Albus. James felt Albus tense up.

“I should tell your dad,” Al said, ignoring Scorpius and looking at Rose. “I should tell him all about how you’ve been snogging a Malfoy-” he spat out the name with disgust, almost as if he’d never been best mates with Scorpius “-and how you ‘love each other’,” he finished complete with air quotes.

“Al-” Rose started.

“I’m sure he’d love that, too. I’m sure Uncle Ron would absolutely adore that fact that his daughter was dating a filthy pureblood like Malfoy here. In fact, I think I’ll go write a letter right now.”

“I think I’ll write to Mum,” Hugo growled from behind Rose. Rose glanced frantically between her brother and her cousin.

“Hugo, Al, please. Dad’ll kill me!”

“Good, you deserve to be punished,” Al said coldly and then he glared at Scorpius with so much hatred that the guilt finally hit James in waves. He’d never liked Malfoy, but he couldn’t let his brother lose his best mate. So as Rose stared at him desperately and hopelessly, he sighed and spoke.

“Al, Hugo, I know Rose and Malfoy have been complete idiots, but don’t do this. Al- you obviously saw something in Malfoy that wasn’t totally like his father. Well, maybe Rose saw that too. I’m saying that she shouldn’t be punished, but I know what it’s like to love someone who’s off limits. Let her tell Uncle Ron herself,” James said in a monotone, just staring at Rose.

Al and Hugo gazed at him like he was an alien, but he just watched Rose, who mouthed thank you to him behind Al’s back.

Al sighed and ran his fingers through his hair and Hugo took this as a sign that it was okay to let go of Rose. She just stood there, staring at Albus. Finally, Al spoke. “Fine, you have until Christmas to tell everyone. Either that, or you and Scorpius are done.” Hugo shook his head in agreement.

Rose nodded at him and gulped. “Al, I-”

“You’re dead to me,” Albus said, cutting across her and glaring at Malfoy, who was still on the ground.  Rose sighed shakily and helped Scorpius up while James followed Albus as he strode away.

“Al, I just want to say-” James began.

“Save it James. I know you didn’t tell me because you thought I should know. You told me because for some reason those two are connected to why Calla broke it off with you. I get it, you were pissed, but I still won’t forgive you for it. I’m done- done with all of you,” Al finished shakily and strode off.

James stood in the corridor and watched his brother leave, sighing and thinking how much better it would’ve been if he’d just waited for Calla in the common room instead of going to find her last night.

A/N: Contrary to popular belief, I am not injured, dead, or abandoning this story. I’ve just been gone for a really long time :/ Sorry! Travelling to a foreign country and then making up school work and practising for my school’s musical, Cats, takes up a lot of my free time. Plus, something weird happened with my account... However, I’ve got several chapters written now, so updates should be much quicker. Hoorah for me!

What’d you think of this chapter? A lot of arguing in it, I see. My characters all seem to be in bad moods. Hmmm... Personally, my favourite part was James’s POV at the beginning. What was yours? Tell me in a review!

~cb “)
 


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