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Crime and Punishment by platform 9 3_4
Chapter 20 : In The Art Of Self Pity
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 16


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Disclaimer: JKR owns everything you can read below.






 

You know this is your biggest mistake,

What a waste, what a waste, what a waste.

- Your Biggest Mistake   - Ellie Goulding






 

 

I was running late. She was waiting for me.

I sprinted up the corridor. What seemed like thousands upon thousands of first years were all huddled in packs.

"Excuse me," I called out to them, "Excuse me…excuse me…excuse-MOVE, DAMN IT!"

That made them move. They spread apart like a wave, and I walked up the pathway, smirking a little to myself.

I  checked my watch and my smirk turned quickly into a grimace. I was definitely going to be late. She hated it when I was late.

Fred said I was whipped. I told him he was bitter. That earned me a smack round the head.

Ever since he and Max had broken up he had been moping around as though he had just been condemned to a life living in the basement with our Uncle Percy and his three cats. According to Fred, what he was feeling was worse. It made me shudder to contemplate such a horror.

Luckily for the rest of us, there had been no competition after the break-up. They had both been miserable for a while, then a little less miserable, then they had finally started eating again. But, as I said, baby steps…baby steps.

Fred spent most of his spare time lying down on his four poster, moaning as though he was permanently in pain. It was getting a bit annoying. He'd even gone as far to say that me having a girlfriend was a betrayal of 'the code'. Whatever that was.

The stairs seemed to be even more crowded than the corridor. Damn it, how on earth was I going to meet her on time?

Owen passed me on the stairs, "Oi! James! Your lady-love is waiting for you in the library. She's getting impatient."

"Thanks, Owen" I growled.

Owen rolled his eyes and passed on. He had been a little annoyed with me ever since I'd had a girlfriend. Maybe he felt I was in violation of 'the code' as well. Somehow, though, I sensed that he was angry for another reason.

I raced on up the stairs, breaking out into a sweat. 

Finally the library was in sight. I rushed to the door and opened it with a crash, earning me a fierce glare from Madame Pince. 

I spotted her at the end of a long table. She checked her watch, and then looked back at her text book.

I raced up to her, panting, "Sorry…I'm…late!"

She narrowed her eyes,"Where were you this time?"

I didn't dare mention Charlie's name. She didn't like her very much.

"Just...had a meeting with Professor Flitwick," I invented wildly.

"About what?"

Merlin's beard, sometimes it was like being in a relationship with Sherlock bloody Holmes. She could be pretty nosy. But that didn't matter. I was happy, after all.

I planted a quick kiss on her cherry-red lips in answer. 

Faye drew back, "Fine. Let's just forget it."

I grinned, and kissed her again. 

 

*       *     *

Charlie POV

 

I sat alone on the dock, swinging my legs back and forth in motion.

The water moved slowly underneath me, and I could make out tiny, fleeting patterns in the watery depths.

I hadn't always been here alone. James and I often came down here to talk. Now there was only one topic of conversation: Faye Hamel.

My blood boiled as I thought of her very name. She consumed his thoughts, made him stupid and pitiful. If I ever said a thing against her I got the silent treatment for indefinite periods of time, so now I listened while he wondered and wondered about her. My friend was gone, leaving a pathetic wimp in his place.

And despite how much I wanted to blame Faye Hamel for this change in him, I knew it was actually my own fault.

Faye had said it herself: "If you're not there to congratulate him, someone else will be."

It was a clear warning, one that I had chosen to ignore completely. I had followed my distraught best friend down to the lake, where we had sat in this very spot for over an hour, talking about France, her parents and how unfair this arrangement was. But mostly she cried about Fred.

I'd led her up to the common room, where a roaring victory party was already taking place. I'd pushed my wheelchair through the pulsing crowd, all yelling and cheering.

With Max holding my hand for support I had glanced quickly over my shoulder. For a split second I saw them. James with his mouth firmly attached to Faye's, who was in no doubt as to what his name was, now that he had won the cup. 

I looked back, and continued up the stairs. I put Max into bed, where she continued to sniffle for a few minutes, before passing out from pure exhaustion. I sat on my bed, and felt a tear etch it's way into my cheek. I smeared it away.

Two weeks had passed, and the Faye Hamel effect had still not worn off, much to my disappointment.

"Hey," came a voice from behind me. I glanced back and saw Owen.

"Hi," I muttered, "What're you doing here?"

"Just wanted to see how you were."

"How did you know where I was?" 

"You and James always come here, don't you?"

I didn't reply. A long, pregnant pause waited until Owen had sat down on the dock beside me.

"Just saw him on his way upstairs," he muttered.

I nodded. We had been in the middle of a long (and one-sided) conversation about Faye's hair, when he'd realized that he was running late. He'd jumped up quickly, murmured a quick: "Shit, she's going to kill me", before taking off towards the castle.

"It'll wear off," he said.

"I'm not so sure," I muttered.

"He'll get bored," he said, "All guys do, eventually."

"Thank you for restoring my faith in the male race," I snorted.

"You know what I mean," Owen said, "Faye's…well, she's a complete bitch."

"Then, welcome to the 'I hate Faye Hamel club', Owen," I said, "Our members have just doubled in the last minute."

Owen chuckled, but looked serious again and said, "You've got to stop moping around."

I glared at him,"I'm not moping."

"Charlie, you were sitting alone, by an isolated boat dock, staring at the water. And don't deny it: you were beating yourself up about Faye."

I pretended as if I didn't know what he was talking about, "And why would I do that?"

"Because if you had met him after he'd won the quidditch cup, maybe it would be him sitting here, and not me. And Faye Hamel would be sitting in the library alone."

I scoffed, "I'm not interested in dating James."

He waved me away, "Dating or not, you would still be his friend, and he wouldn't be completely enamored by some she-devil from the bloodyYearbook committee."

I stared moodily at my fingernails in response.

Owen sighed, "I'm not trying to make you feel worse. I'm saying that you need to stop sitting here, feeling sorry for yourself, and you need to tell him how you feel."

"And I suppose you know how I feel," I muttered grumpily.

"I do, actually," Owen sighed, "It doesn't take a genius to figure it out."

I let out a small sigh, "You're smarter than you let on, you know that?"

He shrugged, but a small smirk tugged at his lips, "Just don't tell Alex. Her life's work of making fun of me will be ruined."

*        *         *

 

I thought long and hard about what Owen had said. Unfortunately he was right: I was moping around, feeling sorry for myself, and none of that was going to convince James that Faye Hamel was a no-good rotten cow.

The next day was the last day at Hogwarts, the end of our 5th year. Time was running out.

That previous evening McGonagall had announced that Ravenclaw had won the house cup, and I had watched Faye feed James spoonfuls of her desert in celebration. The sight was sickening.

I'd got up, gotten dressed, packed my trunk and made my way down for breakfast. Max was already sitting with Dan and Alex, making the most of her last moments at Hogwarts. I sat down beside her.

"Sad to leave?" I asked.

She nodded, "You have no idea. I'll miss you all terribly."

"Promise to write?" Dan asked.

"I will, and I'll write about every excruciating detail of my life at Beauxbatons," Max grinned, "I intend to wreck havoc over there."

"Make sure it's in my name to," I grinned, "I bet none of them have forgotten the third floor bathroom incident."

Max smiled, but her gaze drifted over to where Zach was sitting with Fred. Fred refused to look in our direction.

"You two should really just kiss and make up," Dan said hopefully.

Max shrugged, shaking her head, "If he's too immature to refuse to talk to me for two whole weeks, then he doesn't deserve an apology."

"Are you sure you won't regret it?" I murmured.

"Of course I will," Max said simply, going back to her orange juice.

I glanced over at the Ravenclaw table, where James and Faye were kissing. 

If I didn't say something, today, right now, then I would regret it. Maybe they would stay together, and get married, and have loads of children. I shuddered at the thought. It was an exaggeration, but something had to be done, to get Faye's deeply rooted claws out of James.

Before I knew what I was doing I was pushing my chair out, much to the surprise of Max and the others, and wheeling my chair over to the Ravenclaw table.

"Ahem," I said. 

James removed his lips from Faye's, saw me, looked embarrassed, and asked in a hoarse voice, "Oh, hi Charlie. What's up?

Faye did not look pleased to see me, "Please," she muttered, "Interrupt. It's not rude at all."

I shot her a withering glare, then turned back to James.

"Can I…talk to you for a second?" I asked.

Faye raised her eyebrows at James, testing him. James looked nervously from Faye to me. For one, horrible moment I thought he would ignore me, and go back to snogging her.

But it seemed I had underestimated James before. He murmured to Faye, "I'll be back in just a second, yeah?"

She rolled her eyes and went sulkily back to her breakfast. I smirked at the back of her head, knowing I had won.

"Come on then," he muttered, beckoning for us to go outside. I realized that, while he had picked me over Faye, he still wasn't very happy at the way I had gone about asking him.

Once we were outside in the entrance hall he found a place to sit so that our faces were on equal levels.

"What's wrong?" he asked impatiently.

"I-" I paused, not sure of how to go about this. I had gone over there without much thought of what I would actually say, "I-"

"Come on Charlie, spit it out," he interrupted.

I took a deep breath, "I wanted to talk to you."

"Yeah, that much I gathered," he frowned.

"About Faye," I said, louder than before, mustering up all my confidence, "I wanted to talk to you about Faye."

James frowned even more deeply, his gaze filled with an uneasy apprehension, "What about Faye?"

If I went about this too suddenly, too harshly, I would get the silent treatment again. I had to start slowly.

"You're a different person around her James," I said, "You're distant and boring and so damn spineless! I've really grown to hate the person you are now, even more than how I hated you before we were friends!"

So much for starting things off slow. James looked like he was a notch below thunderous, but surely it wouldn't take him long to reach it.

"And you think this is because of Faye," he uttered.

I hesitated, before replying, "Yes."

"Well, I don't know if you, or Fred, or Owen have noticed, but I'm actually happy," he said calmly, "For once I'm happy."

His words stung more than I'd thought they would.

"What do you mean, for once?" I said.

"I mean, you made this year pretty damn miserable for me," he said cooly.

"For you?" I felt myself immediately flare up, "I'm sorry, was it you who was paralyzed from the waist down? Is it you who has to learn how to walk again?"

"Don't twist my words," he said, "Of course this year stunk for you too. But ever since I met you, all you've brought me is anger and frustration. And now I'm with Faye, and I'm finally happy. You just hate it when someone is happy and you're not."

"You're not happy," I snapped, "She's has you wrapped around your little finger! Why else would you be saying this stuff to me? Why else would you have ignored Fred, who's been feeling like crap ever since Max dumped him? You haven't helped me with my walking exercises in weeks!"

"I'm sorry if I'm not there to help you all the time!" he raged, "I'm sorry if I'm not there at your beck and call, 24/7, whenever you need me! You have other friends, lean on someone else once in a while."

I stared at him, hardly believing what was coming out of his mouth, "James, just stop, and think about what you're saying to me."

"I've thought about it," he said, "And I'll say it over and over again until you understand me. Stop standing in the way of my happiness. I'm finally happy, and you should let me be happy. You owe me that much."

"You're not happy!" I cried, "God, James! You think that just because you can get the girl you have a crush on to go out with you, that means you're happy! Faye is mean, no, she's cruel. She doesn't care about anyone but herself. Trust me, there's no way you'll be happy with someone who doesn't care about you."

"And who are you to tell me if I'm happy or not?" he demanded, "Are you an expert on happiness? Of course you're not. When have you ever really let yourself be happy? Never. You put up walls. You act like a bitch because you're afraid that someone might actually like you. You're afraid that people will see who you really are, that you have flaws, that you're insecure, that you're weak."

"And maybe I am all those things!" I screamed, "And the only time I was happy this whole year was when you and I were friends, OK? I'll scream it out loud if you want me to! I like being friends with you! And I don't like it when my friends are being taken advantage of by their manipulative, evil girlfriends."

"We were never really friends," he muttered.

"Shut up," I said, "We were."

"Maybe we were for a second," he snapped, "But we stopped being friends the minute you broke a promise."

"What promise?"

"The promise that you would be there when I won!" he cried, "And you weren't! You weren't even close! And guess who was there, congratulating me, cheering me on?"

I didn't have to answer to know that it was Faye. Manipulative Faye. 

"I was helping Max, I told you that!"

"It's simple," he said, "You weren't there, she was."

"And why was it so important for me to be there?"

"Because, you idiot, I wanted you there. Not Faye, not my brother, not Fred, you."

I paused, swallowed with effort, before whispering hoarsely, "You can't blame me for needing to comfort Max. I wanted to be there with you, believe me."

He paused, rubbing the back of his head with his hand, looking down at the floor.

When he finally looked up at me, there was something finished in his eyes. Something dead, long gone and unreachable.

Slowly he reached out and held my cheek in his hand. I held my breath.

He ran his thumb comfortingly over my skin, leaving a hot, burning trail, "I do believe you," he murmured.

He stood there for a moments, staring at me, but I could tell that even though he believed me, it didn't make a shred of difference.

He took his hand off my cheek. I glanced down as he flexed it a few times, shaking off my touch.

"But I'm with Faye now," he sighed, "And I'm happy."

I realized now that nothing I could say would change that. I looked back and forth, anywhere but him, down at my lifeless legs, to my nervous, shaking hands.

"I-I'm sorry," he muttered, "I'm not sure if us being friends is a good idea anymore. I'm sorry."

Somehow, I knew he wasn't just apologizing for all the things he'd just said in the heat of the moment. He was apologizing for choosing her.

I didn't say anything, because if I did I would say something like, "It's OK," or "Don't worry about it." When that was the exact opposite of what I wanted to say.

Instead, I raised my eyes and uttered bitterly, "We were never friends, remember?" I glared coldly at him. 

I swiveled my chair around in the opposite direction and wheeled away. My heart was in my throat. I wondered if it would choke me.

 

*        *         *

 

James POV

 

I shut my trunk with a thud, and let out a long, exhausted sigh.

"Finally," Owen muttered, "Getting tired of Faye are we?"

I felt myself flare up almost immediately. After my earlier discussion with Charlie, Faye was a touchy subject.

"Yeah, you'd like that wouldn't you?" I snapped, easily aggravated.

"I think we all would, actually," Owen said, glancing around at Fred and Zach, who showed no sign of disagreement.

"Thanks for the support, mate," I muttered.

"You know you're really hurting Charlie," Owen said.

I felt even more riled up at the mention of Charlie. I had felt like a complete bastard ever since this morning. Clearly she agreed with me in that respect. But Owen didn't have to know that. 

"Charlie's a big girl," I muttered, refusing to give the rest of them the satisfaction, "What do you care anyway, Owen? If you two are such bloody good friends, why don't you just date her? Isn't that what you want?"

I had clearly touched a sore point. Owen advanced towards me, aggression clear and prominent in his face.

"You know, Charlie's right. You have become an idiot," he spat.

"Yeah, and you've become a sad little tosser," I replied, "Why don't you try and make it less obvious that you like her?"

Owen glared furiously, "If you'd take your head out of your arse for a minute, you'd see that I don't like her like that! I just think you're crap if you choose Faye over her."

"I'm not choosing anyone over anyone," I muttered.

Owen laughed, "Even you don't believe that!" He looked back at Fred and Zach, who stood solemnly behind us, "He bloody knows what a bastard he's being to her."

"Would you shut up about her?"

"Who? Your girlfriend? Or the friend you've treated like shit?"

"Charlie's not a child, Owen. She can deal with it."

"You're full of crap," he glared, "After everything she's been through this year, I can't believe you'd do this to her."

It was my turn to laugh, "And you're going to pretend like you don't like her."

"I don't like her!"

I swung around to face him, "Yeah? Remember when you tried to kiss her?"

Owen flushed, "That's over now," he muttered.

I took a step closer and murmured, "Remember when she rejected you?"

"At least I did something. At least I had the guts to make a move."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" I hissed.

"It means you're a coward," Owen said, "It's been three years, and you've never even tried to admit how much you like her."

"Oh, so now I like her!" I said, "Is that what you picked up from the three years of me hating her?"

"Actually, yeah," Owen said, "But you're too much of a wuss to do anything about it. At least I kissed her. You never even bothered, because you were too busy with your head up your arse."

I tried to respond. I really did.

But everything seemed to jam. My tongue froze in my mouth, my eyes bulged with fear, my hands stopped shaking.

At first Owen laughed, saying, "See? You don't even have anything to say, do -"

He trailed off, after studying my expression more closely.

A long silence followed, I stared at them. Why couldn't I just lie, deny everything, pretend as though Owen was right, as though I had never kissed her?

"Holy shit," Fred ran a hand over his head. Zach put a hand over his forehead.

"You…You and her," Owen muttered, monotonously repeating his thoughts out loud "You and Charlie."

I cleared my throat, anything to fill the poignant silence.

"I don't believe it," Fred stared.

"It's…It's," I choked on my own words, "It's nothing."

That made Owen ever more furious, "Oh, she's nothing now, is she?" He took a step forward, looking increasingly menacing. I looked down. "No, you know what James? You're nothing."

He shot me one last glare before storming out, slamming the dormitory door with a loud bang.

Fred was looking at me disappointedly. Zach had turned back to his trunk. 

"So, I'll see you guys on the train then," I muttered.

Zach didn't answer. Fred sighed, "Whatever."

I had to go. Faye would be waiting for me downstairs. I swallowed.

"Bye," I muttered.

When they didn't reply I left the dormitory, my gut filling with increasing guilt.

I ran a hand through my hair anxiously as I left the common room to meet Faye.

She stood at the top of the stairs, immersed in the crowd of students, all eager to catch the train or say goodbye to old friends.

Faye looked a little bored at the sight of me, and for one moment I felt a flicker of regret. Had I just made a huge mistake? Was Faye really worth me cutting off nearly every one of my friends?

I had planned earlier that day to invite her to my Grandparents 75th wedding anniversary this summer. She would come to stay at the burrow, and she could meet the whole family. Now that idea seemed almost ridiculous, considering the fact that at this rate, I would have no one left to introduce her to.

I leant in to kiss her, but she moved back, putting a hand on my chest to push me away.

"What?" I asked.

"You didn't come back after you left with Walker this morning," she said, "What did she want to talk about that was so damn important?"

Her annoyed tone made me fire up in resentment. I had never felt like this around her.

"She just wanted to talk about some stuff," I said in a low voice. Obviously I wasn't going to divulge the details of my conversation with Charlie. That would only make matters worse.

"Oh, sure, talk," Faye snapped sarcastically, "I'm sure that's all you two were doing."

"That was all we were doing!" I cried indignantly.

"Then why didn't you come back after you were done talking?" she snapped.

I hesitated. The truth was that my conversation with Charlie had left me so angry and confused that I had stormed off to be by myself for a while, completely forgetting that I had originally planned on going back to the great hall.

"I-I forgot," I stammered hopelessly.

She let out another derisive laugh. 

Shit, I had really fucked up this time. It looked as though things couldn't get much worse.

Faye glanced around. You could just see Charlie's wheelchair disappearing through the crowd, towards the top of the stairs. Faye eyed her, while my heart dropped like a stone.

"Well if you won't tell me what happened, maybe she will," Faye said. She turned on me, and walked away through the crowd.

"No!" I shouted, lunging after her "Come on Faye, leave her alone."

She shrugged me off easily and continued to walk towards Charlie, moving quickly through the crowd.

I tried to push my way through the throng, "Excuse me, Excuse Me, Excuse Me, DEAR MERLIN WOULD YOU ALL PLEASE MOVE!"

I was panicking. Faye was now barely inches away from Charlie, who had turned around to look at her. She was on the precipice of the long staircase, and looked up at Faye with a fierce glare.

Faye stood in front of her, hands on her hips, eyebrow raised. "Would you mind telling me what it was you were doing with my boyfriend this morning?"

Charlie frowned, "And why is that any of your business?"

By now I had finally caught up with Faye, grabbing her arm, and forcing her around to look at me, "Faye, stop it," I said.

She smirked, "I just want to know what you and your little girlfriend have been talking about behind my back."

I stared. My girlfriend had gone completely an utterly psycho. "Have you gone mad?" I hissed.

There was something venomous in Faye's eyes, something that couldn't be stopped. 

"Don't worry," she said darkly, "As soon as this is all cleared up it'll go right back to normal."

"As soon as what's all cleared up?" Charlie asked sharply.

Faye rounded on her, "YOU! As soon as you're cleared up. As soon as you get out of our lives, and go back to your own very, very miserable one. As so as you stop ruining everything."

I was so confused. What had Charlie done? She didn't deserve this. 

Charlie, looking unusually calm and collected, leant back in her chair for a moment.

"You know what?" she said in a low, but dangerous voice, "I was going to just let you go ahead and rip everything apart, but I'm done," she looked straight at me then, her eyes bluer and brighter than I'd ever seen them, completely alive with fury, "Why do you think she's dating you in the first place, captain?"

Faye rolled her eyes, "She's lying James, obviously. Making up stories, trying to pretend like what you and I have isn't real."

I looked from one to the other. How had it come to this? Was Faye really just dating me because i was captain of the team?

"Why do you think she caught on to your name so quickly?" Charlie smirked, "Knew exactly who you were once you became Captain, didn't she?"

That thought had never occurred to me before. Faye had previously had serious difficulties at grasping my name. Then, after I had won, she seemed eager to congratulate me. At the time I'd figured she'd just had a shock to the brain or something.

"You warned me, didn't you?" Charlie glared at Faye, "If you're not there to congratulate him, someone else will be."

I frowned, looking at Faye, "What? You said that?"

Faye pursed her lips, "Making up stories again, as usual."

Charlie shrugged, looking back to me, "You know, deep down, I'm telling the truth."

As she said that something horrible hit me. I knew she was right. I knew she was telling the truth.

As I gazed at Faye, I remembered the first proper words she'd spoken to me.

 

After we had won, even in the heat of the moment, the excitement, the energy, I still hadn't forgotten that Charlie was  supposed to be there.

I gave Albus a huge bear hug, as we both raised the cup together, into the air. I punched the air and cheered.

Then there she was, stunning, auburn hair blowing in the wind. She embraced me. I was frozen in shock, unable to register what was happening

"Congratulations, Captain James Potter," she smiled, once she had released me.

"Thanks," I said breathlessly. 

I was on such an emotional high, that I didn't even question why she was talking to me, or how she suddenly knew my name. 

But something was missing, "Have you seen Charlie anywhere?" I asked her, looking past her and into the crowd.

Faye put a hand on my arm, drawing my focus back on her, "Oh, Charlie? I think I saw her leaving, just a minute ago, with that guy, what's his name? Owen? They were saying something about being bored stiff."

I stared at her for a minute, "What?"

She shrugged, "Oh well, but I'm here."

I wanted to question everything she'd just said. Charlie bored by quidditch? Ludicrous.

But here was the girl of my dreams, the girl who I'd made up as my ideal girlfriend. And she wanted to talk to me. Somehow that made everything else melt away into oblivion. 

That evening I had drunk so much fire whisky, I had forgotten everything she'd said by the following morning. All I knew was that last night the girl of my dreams had become a reality, and as a result, Charlie had never been more distant.

She'd explained why she hadn't been there, all because Max had needed her help, but everything seemed bitter and confused. 


 

I stared at Faye. She had her arms folded, her eyes challenging. 

"I believe you," I whispered to Charlie.

Charlie looked surprised. I was even surprised. It was no wonder, considering what an idiot I'd been.

The full extent of my idiocy hit me suddenly, quickly, overwhelming me. How could I have been so stupid?

I turned to Faye, "We're over," I muttered, low and discreet.

But Faye wasn't having low and discreet. She looked enraged.

She looked as though she would slap me. I hoped she would. It was more than I deserved after the ass I had made of myself.

I braced myself for the blow, shutting my eyes tight and tensing my facial muscles, but it never came.

I heard a loud scream, a shout from all around me. 

I opened my eyes. Faye stood, her arms outstreched, a look of complete and utter shock on her face.

And Charlie was tumbling and tumbling, faster and faster, towards the bottom. Her chair was flying through the air. It landed with a loud crash.

Charlie didn't land with a crash, but a thud.

I stared at Faye, "WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?" I roared, racing down the stairs.

"I-I just…pushed her a little bit! I didn't mean-!" Faye still looked alarmed, frozen in shock at what she had done.

Everyone else had turned to look, standing with open mouths as they watched the scene.

"DIDN'T MEAN TO WHAT, FAYE? PUSH A DISABLED GIRL DOWN THE STAIRS? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

I stumbled towards Charlie, lying flat on her back. Her eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling in shock. Luckily it hadn't been one of hog wart's longer staircases, but haw still looked like someone who had just had all the breath knocked out of them. She was breathing rapidly, her stomach heaving up and down. I rushed to her side.

"Charlie? Charlie? Are you OK? Can you hear me?" I patted her cheek sharply, as trying to regain her consciousness.

This scene bore and uncanny resemblance to the scene after she had fallen a hundred feet from the sky.

She breathed in loudly, before whispering, "Of course I can hear you, you idiot."

I let out a sigh, "Hang on, while I just get my arm under your legs, then I can get you back into your chair. Then I'll get you to Madame Pomfrey."

She shook her head, brushing me off.

"I can do it," she said through gritted teeth.

She must have hit her head harder than I'd thought.

I shook my head hastily, "No, come on Charlie, you can't. You're too weak."

"Shut it," she growled, "Before I punch you."

I bit my tongue. And then, to my utter amazement, she put both hands on the floor, and pushed her back upright. I stared as she curled her legs, bending them underneath her.

Slowly, but surely, she raised one leg and put her weight on it. Then she pushed upwards. 

And all of a sudden, she was standing, shakily, but still standing. WIthout even realizing it, My mouth was agape. 

But she still wasn't done. She took a step towards me, putting an arm over my shoulder.

"Mind helping me to my chair?" she muttered.

I smiled, wrapped an arm protectively around her waist and helped her limp over to her chair.

"Are they watching me?" she asked me, nervously.

I glanced upwards. At the top of the stairs, every pair of eyes was staring with amazement.

"They all think you're amazing," I grinned at her, "And so do I."

"Oh how charming," she wheezed with exhaustion. Her legs looked ready to collapse, "You'll have to do a lot better than that if you want to make up for all the crap you've put me through over the last few weeks."

We reached her chair. I stood it upright, and she sat down in it.

"You can start by wheeling me to the station," she smirked.

I grinned, "At your service madam."

I gripped the handles on her chair and pushed her away from the scene, "By the way," I said, "I was wondering if you wanted to come stay at the Burrow this summer. It's my grandparent's anniversary, and I want them to meet you."

Charlie shrugged sullenly, "Thought we weren't friends."

We had rounded the corner, and found ourselves in a deserted corridor. I stopped the chair and crouched down beside her.

"I was an idiot," I murmured.

"You were more than an idiot," she corrected, "You were a jerk."

"I was," I agreed, "I was a complete and utter dickhead."

She nodded, "An unbelievable arsehole."

"And I'm sorry," I murmured.

She paused for a second before murmuring, "Hey, we've all been there, right? I mean, who hasn't been completely blinded by the prettiest girl in school, and treated all their friends like shit because of it? Oh no wait, that's probably just you."

Luckily, she seemed to be joking.

"Once again, very sorry," I said, "Faye is…well, she's a bitch."

Charlie smirked, "I'll let you off this time. I mean, it is only fair, since you're a bloke. You haven't got nearly as much common sense around good looking girls."

I shook my head, laughing at myself, "So how about the summer visit then? What were you planning on doing?"

"Well, I was planning on spending it with my dad, my step mum and their two kids. Frankly, they're quite eager to have me."

I smirked, "I guess I'll have to find a way to convince you then."

"Guess you will."

 






A/N:

And that concludes the end of their 5th year. In 20 chapters no less! Happy? Angry? Let me know in a review :)

Here is a small preview to chapter 21, which will be up soon!:


I folded up the letter and stuffed it in my pocket. I already knew it's contents by heart.

 

Dear Charlie,

 

I know you said you wanted to spend the summer with your dad. And while I'm sure your dad is awesome, I'm pretty sure I could beat him in an awesomeness contest. So what do you say you ditch him and come and spend the summer with Freddie, Owen, Zach and I? Unless you'd rather spend the next two months stuck at your step mum's sunday luncheons, it's your call.

 

Your (awesome) pal, James.

 

Of course it had been a no brainer. My dad and Angela spent the first week of the holidays dragging me off the posh dinners with my dad's work clients, while Angela made continuous remarks about my unimproved appearance, made worse by the fact that I could no longer stand up. She also seemed to disapprove of the fact that she had to walk around with a cripple, the cause of which was apparently my own fault.

 


I hadn't wasted a second. I had packed my stuff, left a rushed note for dad and Angela, and caught the first bus to Ottery St. Catchpole.  


And here I was. Outside the burrow. It hadn't changed since the last time I had been here, lying on their couch after fainting in Teddy Lupin's arms. How long ago that seemed.




Sorry it's not much of a preview, but the next chapter is pretty close to finished :) In the meantime though, please leave a review :) Are you happy to see the last of Faye? Do you think Charlie shouldn't have forgiven James for what he said? Are you at all excited for the next chapter? Even if every answer is no, I want to hear from you guys.


xxx




 




 


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