Chapter 8 : Positive Thinking (or something like it)
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December, two years ago.
I was an idiot. A first class idiot. I’d come home for Christmas for the first time since I was eleven and the anger and hate I felt toward myself for that stupid decision was consuming me. Christmas had been purely awful. I’d spent the day locked in my room, by choice, slowly making my way through a box of chocolates and wishing someone would fly past my window and take me away. I would have happily gone anywhere. Back to Hogwarts, preferably, but I just wanted to be somewhere else.
When I finally emerged from my bedroom, on the 27th and no sooner, it was with slow, heavy movements and without emotion. I was exhausted though I’d done nothing.
“I see you’re finally up.” I turned toward the voice, slightly startled but not enough to rouse me completely. It was David, of course, and I was in no mood to talk to him. I plodded bare foot into the kitchen, yawning and stretching out my back, choosing not to respond. It was usually better when I didn’t bite back.
Pouring my coffee, I glanced up at him. He stood in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed over his stomach. His expression was something between a sneer and a glare. He was successfully blocking my only exit and I waited for him to speak again so I could assess the situation.
“Your mother’s out,” he said and there it was. My mother was out. I saw it coming, of course. I always saw it coming, long before he ever raised his hand.
“Erm, right,” James says, eyes the battered prefects in front of us. “Right. So I’m James and this is Harmony.” I feel sort of like I should wave, but everyone is staring up at us so blankly that I’m not even sure if they’re conscious, let alone paying attention.
“We know who you are, mate. We’re all related to you,” Al calls from Scorp’s lap, laughing at his own comment. He raises his hand for a high-five from Scorp, who rolls his eyes but complies anyway
“Not me,” a totally sober girl in the corner calls out. She’s eyeing everyone with blatant distaste. “I am not a part of this family.”
“Whatever,” Al dismisses her.
“Me either,” Derek from sixth year Ravenclaw says, raising his hand. “But I sure as hell wish I was.”
Al laughs loudly and turns to James, making circular motions with his hand. “Proceed.”
I look around at the prefects, and of those that I know, at least half are directly related to the Head Boy. Holy crap.
“Erm, yeah,” James says awkwardly, and I take that as my cue to speak up.
“This is the revised patrol timetable,” I say and James lazily flicks his wand, sending a paper to everyone in the room. “Everyone patrols twice a week, usually with the same person. If something comes up and you can’t make your scheduled time then it’s on you to swap with someone.” They all nod their understanding and James goes on.
“All the times are equal,” he says. Again they nod. Very agreeable, this lot.
“Hey, Harmony?” Al calls out. I turn to him reluctantly. “Will you two be patrolling?” He looks pointedly between me and James, smirking.
“Yes,” I say simply, giving him my very best ‘what the hell’ face.
Everyone tiredly examines their timetable, except Fred, who I think is asleep, because he’s totally unresponsive, clutching a corner of his blanket beneath his chin. Rose intermittently rubs his covered leg. So child-like and innocent. It’s confusing and… bizarre.
“Also, as per normal, the Halloween Ball is going to be held in the Great Hall on the 31st of October and you all will be in charge of pretty much everything in terms of preparation. Obviously there’s a lot of time but it’d be really good to start thinking about it now so we can get the plans to McGonagall nice and early.”
Some of the girls look vaguely excited by this, but through their various degrees of hangoverdom it’s quite pathetic. Some of the guys groan and rub their foreheads, like I’ve just told them that they’ll have to spend every Friday night for the next month helping Professor Morrissey clean cauldrons. Maybe their reaction is exaggerated but I sympathise with the guys - there’s no getting out of this Halloween Ball. The Heads have to go, no matter how much they’d rather be slouching around in sweats, coffee in one hand and chocolate in the other.
“That’s pretty much it,” James says, wrapping up the meeting. “If you have any questions, we’ll probably be here most nights or you can find us between classes.”
Slowly - very, very, slowly - the prefects haul themselves to their feet and drag themselves over to the door, murmuring thanks and smiling weakly as they leave. It takes some convincing on Scorp’s part to get Albus up and moving - he claims that he can just stay and sleep on the couch with Fred - but eventually they leave, too, and it’s just Fred, sound asleep on the sofa. James goes to him and because I don’t trust that my glass of water is still safe, I go to the kitchen to pour another. The headache is receding slowly, which is good, but I drink my water slowly because I’d really rather not puke again.
When I leave the kitchen James and Fred are talking in hushed tones so I proceed into The Piano Room, as I’ve christened it. It looks much different in the day time - much bigger and full of air. The carpet is really thick and feels nice beneath my feet. It’s truly an incredible room. I don’t make a conscious decision to play, rather it happens subconsciously. I find myself sitting at the piano and placing my fingers lightly on the keys. My eyes close for a moment and my mind clears. Every thought, every feeling, is gone. It’s me and the piano and then my fingers are moving of their own accord; flying over the keys, producing the notes of a piece I learnt just over a year ago. There is nothing else. I don’t have a name or an identity or a past. I only have the music.
It’s the most bizarre feeling - that there is a piano, and there is some part of my consciousness that isn’t really me. It’s something else. Maybe somebody else. Some invisible thing that only ever surfaces when I’m playing a piano.
I finish the piece and close my eyes again, breathing deeply and not allowing myself to move for fear of forgetting what this feels like. It’s great, the moment after I finish playing. I’m calm, and relaxed, and sane. It’s like therapy. It’s arguably better than therapy.
“Wow.” I whip my head around to the source of the noise to see James Potter standing by the door that I’m sure I closed. He looks completely stupefied. I look down, trying not to blush because I am so entirely embarrassed. Playing piano is mine, it’s my thing and now he’s seen me and fuck. I should have cast a charm on the room, or locked the door, or something, to prevent this from happening.
Before I can run, because that’s the only thing I feel like doing right now, James silently conjures a wooden chair and pulls it up next to me, sitting himself down. I briefly wonder when he got so good at charms and nonverbal spells but then I remind myself that he just walked in on me playing piano and I have bigger things to worry about.
“Wow,” he says again and my face burns. “How do you do that?” he asks, lifting his hands to the keys. You’d think I’d just slain a jabberwocky, the way he’s going on.
“I, er, well - I practice,” I say dumbly, cursing myself for being so inarticulate. I stare at his hands to avoid looking at his face and the subsequent eye contact.
Ever since I found the piano on the second floor of the castle I’ve gone back regularly to bash out a few good tunes. My dad taught me to play when I was really little. Before he left, of course. He was amazing at piano. Probably is. Not that I would know.
“Can you teach me?” he asks, his face breaking into a goofy smile.
“I’m not a very good teacher,” I reply. He turns back to the keyboard, playing some random notes and looking incredibly pleased with himself. I smile; he’s so cute when he’s like this. No. I did not just think that. Absolutely not.
“You know, when you told me you play the piano, I didn’t think you’d be this good,” he says.
“Well, I mean… I just practice,” I murmur, my voice trailing off because I get the distinct feeling that James is about to kiss me and I cannot let this happen again.
I turn back to the keys, dropping my head and sitting on my hands in a position that could only be screaming ‘I wish I was anywhere but here.’
“You know, you’re fun when you’re drunk,” he muses, the smile audible in his voice. I blink, shaking my head because yes, he just said that to me, and no, he wasn’t joking. I raise an eyebrow at him, wondering at how he can so quickly change the mood of a situation just by the tone of his voice. I don’t know, it just seems so strange to me. I’ve never talked to anyone at Hogwarts in six years as much as I have in one week. My conversation skills need some work.
“Really?” I ask tiredly. He nods.
“Yeah. Really fun.” He smiles widely and I sigh.
“Well, that’s brilliant,” I mutter bitterly. “Just brilliant.” I stand up and walk over to the door. I look back at him. He’s still seated, watching me, smiling at me as though he’s got me all figured out. Merlin, is he wrong.
“I have to go to the library,” I say. Probably my worst excuse yet. He stands up quickly and walks over to me.
“I’ll see you later, then,” he says before leaning down and swiftly kissing my cheek and striding out of the room.
Bloody hell. Things are getting out of hand. I need to go back to not wanting to know James Potter, and not wanting him to know me. Stat.
I leave the common room and start walking, not concentrating on anything but putting on foot in front of the other.
No more parties. And no more playing piano when there are people around. And no more giving into him so easily. I need to be completely, ruthlessly honest with him. I need to tell him what I’m thinking - that if we’re going to maintain a mature, adult, working relationship then we can’t be friends. Things cannot go on like this.
Only I don’t have the guts to say that shit. Screw Gryffindor pride, I might as well be a Hufflepuff for all the proverbial balls I have. Not that Hufflepuffs aren’t great, but seriously, I could just about hold all of my courage in the palm of my hand.
When things go pear-shaped, I lock myself away or better yet, attempt to throw in the towel. Well, that was one time, but still, I’m not really one to face up to things. Bottle it all up and punch a wall later, right?
With no particular destination in mind, I stroll through corridors, up and down staircases, around corners. It’s funny - on any other day, if I was walking around in shorts and a Ramones t-shirt with socks but no shoes, people would have been throwing me weird looks left, right and centre. But today, I fit in. Part of the hungover crowd, and all. Not that there’s a crowd - I daresay most people are still in bed.
I round a sunlit corner and nearly walk right into April, whose dark brown, fuzzy hair is held back by a white elastic headband, and whose eyes are more than a little bit tired-looking.
“Oh, hi,” I say weakly and she smiles, albeit a little forcibly through her hangover.
“Harmony!” she greets me loudly, linking her arm though mine and steering me back down the corridor in the direction from which I just came. “So, Dom and I are planning to buy our dresses for the Ball this Saturday, in Hogsmeade,” she tells me. “Do you want to come with?” she asks excitedly.
Oh, what the hell.
“Er, sure,” I say half-heartedly and somewhat ambiguously. April positively radiates happiness; her teeth shine brilliantly against her dark skin.
“Awesome. We’ll talk more later, yeah?” she asks and I nod, mustering a small smile. She squeezes my arm and takes off down the corridor, leaving my all by my lonesome somewhere on the third floor.
Well, at least I have plans. At least April seems to like me. At least it probably won’t get any more awkward with James. At least I didn’t vomit again.
Positive thinking, or whatever.
And so, on that pleasant note, I double back again, this time making no detours on my way to the library.
Happy Halloween! Still recovering from Nathaniel's shock elimination from The X Factor Au last night but you know how it is, I'll pull through. Yeah. So, review this one? X
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