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Chapter 8 : Welcome to the Madhouse
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Welcome to the Madhouse
This letter, I had decided as I opened it to swirly, well-placed handwriting, was worth reading.
I thought about what you said- and you were right. James and I needed time to heal, and more importantly, I needed to evaluate what I really want. I’m afraid to admit it, particularly in a letter that may end up in the hands of another, but I trust you to be smart (don’t go all Gryffindor on me and prove me dumb). Okay. So, I want James. I don’t care what my friends think- if they can’t see the honest, funny, kind person I see it’s because they don’t want to and frankly, they’re not the people I think they are.
I am begging you- please, please let me prove it to you. I need you to see how much he means to me, because I need him. I love him.
I need your help.
Chelsea Edwards (Ravenclaw)
I considered it carefully. Her impeccably neat script was formed so diligently that the letter felt forced.
The grey owl that delivered it had sharp eyes and a haughty expression.
“Can you wait for my reply?” I asked it softly.
After years of studying the creatures (owls fascinate me) I was used to reading them, so I noticed the shuffle of the wings and relaxation of the arched back. It was settling down for a long time.
Honestly, magical owls are so receptive to manners it’s untrue.
As I was already in my dormitory (Lily was painting her nails and writing up some of potions theories) I leaned over, grabbed the parchment and began to write, paused, ripped it off the bottom, and repeated this several times, until I settled on;
Prove it to me. What do you think of him?
I passed the note to the owl, who flourished out of the window and disappeared.
“Who was that?” Lily questioned inattentively, still leaning over her notes.
“Al telling us there’s Quidditch tonight.”
“Bleh. Tell him I’ve just done my nails in Blueberry Button, so he can piss off.”
“Too late. Already told him you know.”
Al had actually told me at the portrait hole when I bumped into him, but she didn’t need to know that.
I pulled out my unfinished Patronus essay and set to work, expecting to wait a long time. I had to. When I did get my reply, Lily had left to try and convince Al not to make us do Quidditch by telling him she’d cry if she chipped a nail. I wasn’t entirely sure it would work, but Al is a bit soft with her so there was always hope.
I don’t know what to say. How can I begin this?
Well, I love him. I love him a lot. I didn’t know it until he’d left and, ironically, made an irreparable hole in my side that I never knew could even exist. I didn’t know love felt like this... but I don’t think it does. Normal love, anyway. Love for James is completely different- it’s the missing part of your soul. Your world is brighter, your happiness is increased just by seeing his smile. It can change your whole perspective: I don’t know what beauty really is anymore. I just know that James is the most beautiful person I’ve seen.
He isn’t perfect, if you know what I mean- he can joke at the wrong time, mess something up and be just so James- but I guess that’s sort of his best part. He doesn’t make me feel inferior to his brilliance. He’s just James, the guy who makes your heart melt when he whispers in your ear that you’re gorgeous before head butting you in the face (yes, that actually happened).
This is a crap description of him, but that’s James. He’s indefinably amazing and I can’t believe I threw that away because of rumours. I want him so thoroughly I can’t believe my own stupidity. I should have been thrown out Ravenclaw- wise and intelligent?
Look at what I lost, and it’s my fault.
I need through it carefully, nodded, smiled, and sprang off my bed and jumped down the stairs two at a time. It was strange to ask Roxanne where James was at that precise moment in time. Usually, people were running away from him.
“In his room, why?”
Ignoring her, I bounced up to the seventh dorm room and burst in.
“JAMES!” I yelled, and three boys, none of them James, stared at me.
“Hello, small person,” grinned Andrew. “Can we help?”
“Bathroom. Being a total vain git as usual.”
I smiled, darted around them all and hammered on the room.
“JAMES OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW OR I’M TAKING YOUR BROOM AND THROWING IT OFF THE ASTRONOMY TOWER!”
It nearly came off the hinges, he yanked it that fast.
“Why?” he demanded, alarmed.
“I have this letter-“
“No, Ellie. WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!” he howled dramatically.
His roommates chuckled. I gave them the finger.
“It got you out, didn’t it? Now, read this.”
I shoved it at him. After a minute, he looked up at me wordlessly, a strange mixture of hope and defiance in his eyes.
“I asked her to beg me to help you by telling me what she thought of you. This is what she sent.”
“When did you get this?” he choked out.
“About two minutes ago. Where do you want to meet her?”
“Outside her common room, and now.”
“I’ll tell her I’m going.”
I left him with the letter and rushed back to the grey owl, where it was waiting quite contentedly.
See? MANNERS PAY, PEOPLE.
It was an hour after I’d last seen James when he practically ran through the portrait hole and grabbed me into a life-sapping hug.
“Thank you thank you thank you!” he practically yelled, whirling me around, and everyone in there (most of the Weasleys and a lot of third years) all stared at us.
“Dude- choking-“ I gasped, and he set me back down. Two much more gentle arms wrapped around me two, and she smelt very flowery.
“You’re amazing, Eliana,” Chelsea grinned.
“It was a beautiful letter,” I conceded thoughtlessly, and James was still holding it in his hand.
The other quickly wrapped around Chelsea’s waist as she leaned into him. “Ellie, I owe you... like, forty packets of Sugar Quills.”
My eyes popped open. Okay, so it might not sound like much, but we Potters measure our debt in Sugar Quills (largely due to me kicking James’ arse in a bet and I demanded ten packets of them) and fifty is the highest, ie. ‘you saved my life and I cannot repay you but I’ll do my best’ type debt.
So... YES! FORTY IS EPIC! I CAN EXCHANGE IT FOR ALMOST ANYTHING!
“I’m doing matchmaking shit more often. This is so cool!”
James turned, still beaming like a lovestruck idiot (well, he is a lovestruck idiot), to his family. “Guys, this is Chelsea, my girlfriend. Chelsea... welcome to the madhouse.”
She bit her lip, and smiled at them all.
Fred whistled. “A leggy blonde, nice one James...”
Roxanne jinxed his mouth shut.
Lily, however, deliberately walked over to us.
“Have you told your friends?” she demanded.
James handed her the letter, which she read, gave back to James, and smiled at Chelsea.
“Hurt him again and I’ll eat your heart with my pancakes.”
Chelsea nodded, not entirely sure whether or not to laugh. Fortunately, she didn’t, as Lily may have killed a third year in front of her just to prove it.
“When’s the next Hogsmeade?” she sighed, resting her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his other arm around her, after putting the letter in his pocket.
“Whenever you want, gorgeous,” James said quietly, kissing her hair.
I melted a little bit; I’m not going to lie.
HE. IS. ADORABLE.
She frowned a little. “Hmm?”
“You’re dating a Gryffindor now, girl. That means breaking all the rules.”
I don’t think she was even listening, because her eyes were drooping even as I watched. Feeling it was getting a little private, I jumped on a nearby sofa to eavesdrop comfortably.
“Do you want to go back?” he murmured into her hair. “You look tired.”
“Where are you going to sleep?”
“Where am I going to sleep?”
“I’ll be late.”
He chuckled. “Alright, if you really want to share with a bunch of stinky boys...”
She didn’t answer, so he turned her and gently guided her up the stairs.
I jumped up and down when then they’d gone. “HOW FRICKING SWEET ARE THEY?!”
“Very,” Rose agreed, grinning.
“They are adorable,” Lily agreed lightly. “But so mushy.”
“Cute,” commended Molly, another cousin who was playing chess against Hugo, Rose’s brother.
Al snorted. “Please, that was just James being a suck-up.”
“Yeah? YOUR FACE!”
I was excited.
He rolled his eyes.
“Ellie, he’ll probably dump her in a week.”
Rose glanced up at him disbelievingly. “Whoever the poor girl is that you end up marrying, remind me to tell them of A) your lack of heart and B) your lack of romance.”
Scorpius, sat next to her, looked up from his History of Magic essay with some interest. “What, are you the romantic type?”
“Not really, but the appreciation of gestures are a good start.”
I smiled. “That’s Rose-speak for ‘yes, everything pink and sparkly is acceptable, just not goddamn roses because they are such a stereotype and you have to know my favourite flower’.”
Smirking, Scorpius turned away. “Duly noted.”
“Well, I don’t need any free romantic give-aways, thank you, Scorpius,” Rose bit frostily.
“Oh? And why’s that?”
“I have a date.”
There was a blank silence.
Hmm. That fucked up my ‘they’re-totally-going-to-get-married’ theory.
“Who with?” asked Roxanne curiously.
Rose smiled. “James Henderson.”
They all groaned. “Rose, we’ve been through this- it’s weird to fancy-“
“-actually, I’m going to date him-“
“-whatever. It’s weird to fancy or date or shag ANYONE with the same name as your cousin,” Al said. “It’s just one of the many ‘no freaking ways’ of the world.”
She didn’t seem perturbed (apparently this was an ongoing crush that everyone knew about, I just hadn’t been paying attention) and shrugged.
“Let’s say you end up having sex,” I started. All of her cousins cringed. “And he’s incredible at it. To the point where you want to scream his name-“
“Ellie, gross,” whined Lucy.
“-and you realize that hey, you can’t yell out your cousin’s name- he could hear. So you decide to play it safe and go for the surname, but say the wrong one and say ‘Potter’ instead. That’s extremely creepy and would abruptly end what was probably orgasmic sex-“
“Ellie, shut up,” advised Lily. “I think what she’s trying to do, Rose, is put it in a context and show you how weird it could be.”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Only Ellie would come up with that scenario.”
Al, what a wonderful contribution to the conversation. I thank you enormously. Politely showing him my middle finger with a suggestion of where to shove it, I kept my eyes on Lily and not on him.
“Reconsider having your date,” advised Dom, who was plotting something with Fred.
Here was how pranks at Hogwarts worked: Dominique Weasley created intricate and fantastic plans for one, and Fred successfully set up and executed them, and James got all the credit (and all the detentions).
“I like him, and see nothing wrong with it. Plus, he’s yummy and you know it.”
“If Hugo were here he would puke.”
“Hugo is a Slytherin, his opinion doesn’t matter,” Rose brushed off.
Fred looked up. “I’m a Slytherin!”
“Yes, and nor does yours.”
“Ooh, little Rosie is getting feisty!” Fred exclaimed.
She threw a pillow at him, and it smacked him square in the face. No damage was done except to his pride; he lost it.
“And you call yourself a beater,” I sniggered.
He glared at me.
“Yeah? Well, call yourself... blonde!”
“I am blonde. I fall over things. Your point?”
Steadily decreasing into a lovely shade of purple with the effort of thinking, Fred fell silent.
Ahh. Silence is so peaceful.
“Yeah? Shut up!”
Al and Dom simultaneously hit him over the head.
“I am ashamed to call you my cousin,” the latter said disgustedly.
“FAIL, mate. EPIC FAIL.”
Rose winked at me, and lazily flicked a book at his nose. “You just got your arse whooped by a blonde. How does that feel, Freddie? How does that feel?”
“Like the world ended.”
I high-fived his face.
“Quidditch practice!” Al said cheerfully into the Gryffindor common room.
“I’M BUSY!” Lily and Scorpius yelled in unison, not taking their eyes off the chess board which they were currently competing on. I was curled up on a chair next to them, watching with keen interest.
It just so happens that Hugo, Rose’s younger brother and evil Slytherin, is extremely talented at chess and kicks my arse at it every Christmas, but I’d been watching these two all year (Scorpius beat him once) and I felt more powerful and ready to put up a fight... before losing.
“Dude, no,” James said bluntly. He currently had Chelsea snuggled into his chest on a sofa; she had been reading a book but had fallen asleep, and was now curled practically on his lap.
Riley waved a hand at Al. “I thought we had the pitch tomorrow?”
“We do, but I want you to have a chance to play in this weather.”
“I’ll pass,” I said lazily. “But thanks for the offer.”
“Ellie...” he whined, walking over to me and grabbing my hand. I tried not to squeak in surprise. “Help me...”
“I’ll give you five Galleons.”
“Five packets of Sugar Quills.”
“OI, GET YOUR ARSES TO PRACTICE YOU SODDING LAZY LOT! SHITBAGS, MOVE!”
They didn’t move.
“They’re not going to,” I told Al unnecessarily.
I had let my guard down. I read an unmarked envelope that Amata delivered to me.
I must warn you- you’re going to die. You’re going to die, and soon.
A/N Okay- really short chappie with the promise of juiciness in the next few. Yeah? Fab :D Reviews are more than welcome; they’re mandatory!
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