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Chapter 40 : The Backlash
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“[Jessie thinks] you’re a user, that you have no respect for women, that the idea of sleeping with you made her skin crawl… I could go on.”
James looked like he’d received a bludger to the chest.
Al smiled coldly.”
“Why does shit stuff always happen to my family?” growled Lily, storming ahead to the Gryffindor Common, Terri, Jas and Chuck trailing in her wake.
“I mean, seriously!” she said, as they reached The Fat Lady. “Isn’t it enough that my grandparents were slaughtered and my dad killed, without my own brothers being murdered!”
“In fairness, I don’t think your mum would go as far as Avada Kedavraing them,” said Terri, stepping through the portrait hole after Lily and giving Rose a hand. “Bat Bogey, maybe.”
“Pfft, I could do that myself!” scoffed Lily, chucking down her bag and throwing herself into an armchair.
“Look,” said Chuck, trying to sooth his frazzled girlfriend, “As you mentioned, your family’s been through a lot of crap; two brothers having a bout of fisticuffs isn’t really the end of the world, is it?”
“Oh what do you know! Nark.”
“So,” said Rose, looking awkwardly between Nathan and Scorpius, “I guess I’ll see you both later…”
“Wh-,” said Nathan, looking surprised, “Where are you going?”
“Um, my Common Room?” said Rose, looking nervous. “I need a shower.”
“No worries,” said Scorpius, nodding. “I’m feeling a bit dirty too after our night together. See you at dinner.”
Rose’s mouth fell open as he walked away.
Feeling Nathan’s eyes burning into her skull, she said hastily, “He meant dirty as in unclean.”
He didn’t look like he believed her.
“I’m going for a bath,” said Finch, dumping his rucksack on his bed and grabbing his towel.
“God, you girl,” said Hugo, stripping off his dirty clothes and chucking them at Razor. “Real men have showers.”
“Well, why the fuck aren’t you having a bath then?” snapped Finch, before storming out and slamming the door hard behind him.
“What the hell’s wrong with him?” asked Hugo, looking a bit stunned.
“Dunno,” said Razor, peeling off Hugo’s dirty trousers. “But these clothes stink, man!”
“Yeah, I know,” sniggered Hugo, all worry about Finch gone, “I made sure I let one rip before I threw them at you!”
“Men are such pigs,” said Jessie, as soon as Rose came into the bedroom. “Seriously, why do we even tolerate them?”
“Who knows?” said Rose, sounding exhausted as she flopped down onto her bed. “I tell you, I thought having a boyfriend would be fun but ever since Halloween, mine’s gone all funny!”
“Bloody Halloween,” said Jessie crossly, “Fucked everything up.”
Rose looked up from her state of exhaustion.
“Has something happened with Al?” she asked, looking concerned.
“Al, James, the whole fucking clan!”
James ignored her.
James still ignored her.
He grit his teeth and turned around.
Sienna looked delighted.
“It’s not my birthday until tomorrow,” replied James coldly.
“Oh,” she said, looking confused. “But I thought you went away to celebrate it?”
“I did. Then I came back.”
Sienna wasn’t quite sure how to proceed.
“Okay… so I saw the story – I thought you couldn’t date students?”
James looked confused.
“Jessie Goldstein? It said you were fighting with Al about her. But you can’t have been because you don’t date students, right?”
James stared at her.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?”
Sienna looked stunned.
“You heard me!” shouted James, taking a step towards her. “This is none of your fucking business, you stupid, psychopathic b-”
Scorpius rushed between James and Sienna, hands outstretched.
“Sienna, go… somewhere else. James, come with me.”
Looking furious, Sienna did as she was told.
As soon as she’d disappeared from sight, Scorpius turned to James and said, “We need to talk.”
Lily pretended not to hear him.
“Lily, you’re in a mood, not deaf. Now hear me out. Please?”
She sighed and looked round at her boyfriend.
“What do you want?”
“You to forgive me.”
“Why should I?”
“Because I didn’t do anything wrong and you know it. You’re just mad that journalists are arseholes.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes,” said Chuck, “You are.”
Then he kissed her.
“Mwm-what’re you doing?” she said, pulling away from him.
“Uh, kissing my girlfriend, I thought,” said Chuck, looking annoyed. “Why did you stop?”
“Because I’m still mad at you… and… well… because I’m not ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“Well…” said Lily, her blush deepening, “It.”
Chuck continued frowning for a moment… and then suddenly, he realised.
Finch returned an hour later, wrapped in a towel, his skin red from the heat of his bath.
“Calmed down now, have you?” asked Hugo, looking up from his comic.
Finch took a deep breath.
Hugo closed his comic.
“And?” he pushed.
Finch looked ashamed.
“And I’m sorry.”
Finch rolled his eyes.
“For swearing at you – I was out of order.”
Hugo let a moment pass… then he smiled.
Finch looked relieved.
“Thank you. I was just feeling a bit… annoyed, still. About Barrat.”
“Why? What’d he do?”
Finch looked awkward.
“Well, nothing… recently. But, you know – we did just spend the last few years having to watch our backs every day, in case Barrat or one of his ‘friends’ decided to do us in. I guess I’m just not quite as comfortable as you are with him yet.”
Hugo put his comic book down, looking serious.
“You don’t like Barrat?” he asked, his frown deepening. “I thought you two were getting along?”
“We are… sort of. I mean, we can talk and he doesn’t want to smash my nose up anymore… I don’t think.”
“Well, then what’s the problem?”
But Finch couldn’t say it.
“It’s… it’s nothing. It’s me. I suppose I just need to give myself more time – relax a little.”
“Yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, mate. After all, you wouldn’t wanna miss the beach trip he’s planned for Christmas, would you?”
“Say what now?”
Al took a deep breath and knocked on the door.
There was a scuffling sound – then it opened.
“So,” said Scorpius, as he closed the door to James’ room, “What was that all about?”
James threw himself down on his bed, looking angry.
“That girl is a fucking nut case, man. I tell you, she freaks me out!”
“She knows about you and Jessie?” asked Scorpius, leaning against the wall opposite him.
“Yeah, she-” began James, before coming to an abrupt halt. “Wait, what do you mean, ‘me and Jessie’? There’s no me and Jessie!”
“Isn’t there?” asked Scorpius, raising his eyebrows.
“No!” James tried to protest, his cheeks beginning to redden.
“No?” repeated Scorpius, his eyebrows still raised.
“Why is everything you’re saying a question!” cried James, getting up off the bed, looking riled. “I didn’t ask you in here, Malfoy, so if you’re not going to say something constructive, then sod off!”
Scorpius’ eyebrows rose higher.
“Well, Potter, if you let me know what’s actually going on then I might be able to help you…”
“Al, what’re you doing here?” asked Jessie quietly, closing the door behind her.
“I need to talk to you,” he said, looking nervously around him. “Rose not here?”
“She went for a shower.”
There was an awkward silence.
“Al, please just spit it out!” said Jessie, looking at her feet and trying to hide her discomfort with abruptness. “I’ve had a nightmare few days and I’d really like to catch up on some sleep.”
“Right, yeah,” said Al, looking as uncomfortable as Jessie felt. “So, you and James-”
Jessie’s eyes snapped up.
“What do you mean? There’s nothing going on there! What’re you talking about?!”
Al looked a bit stunned.
“Er, okay, I wasn’t actually saying you were a couple…”
Jessie looked nauseous.
Al’s eyes narrowed.
“What were you talking about?” Jessie interrupted hurriedly.
Al still looked suspicious but continued, “I was going to say, I think you and James should probably talk.”
Jessie felt her stomach flip.
“Look, Al, if you saw us fight, I-”
“No, it’s not that,” cut in Al.
“I um… When James came to dad’s office, we had a bit of a fight. You came up and I uh… well I…”
“I kind of… told him what you used to say about him – back before we fell out…”
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