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Chapter 15 : Chapter Fifteen
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She hadn't seen Abraxas nor Tom on the platform this morning before the train left for school. Perhaps Pruflas was keeping them on hand for Morax's funeral. Whatever the reason, it made Jade quite anxious; she hadn't spoken to Tom since Christmas Eve, a night she quite enjoyed.
"Well, Jade is a wonderful student. She's in nearly all of my classes. It is obvious she has wonderful parents," Tom said coyly, winking at Audrey. Audrey responded by flushing red while the other women giggled. Acton raised his wine glass toward Tom.
"You are welcome back any time. I'm sure we all feel that way, Tom."
"I may need to take you up on that offer." Tom's fingers danced across Jade's inner thigh. "Maybe some time soon."
"Jade, your tea is getting all over the place."
While daydreaming she had leaned her head against the train's window and discovered her teacup lying on its side, warm tea dripping onto her lap. Jade quickly sat it up straight and shook her robes.
"Yes, thank you, Dahlia."
"So, do you think Alphard really meant what he said?"
"Yes, sure. I mean… yeah." Jade waved her hand -- she hadn't the slightest clue as to what Alphard said. Whenever Dahlia spoke about him, Jade tried to tune her out completely.
"Do you really think so? He's so marvellous. I wonder if we'll get married… He's a Black, Jade! Do you know that would do for my family?" Dahlia's eyes were alive with excitement.
Jade raised her eyebrows and sent a flat smile Dahlia's way. "Well, I suppose it would mean your parents wouldn't have to live in that ugly little house in Ireland anymore. There's really no need to live in Ireland, what is there to even do there? You have to travel to England whenever you need to get something."
Dahlia didn't appear to be in the mood to argue. "I just think Alphard is a really wonderful fit."
"You know, Dahlia, most rich boys like Alphard get paired at birth with another pureblood from a noble lineage."
"Well, I know that, bu-"
"-But nothing, Dahlia. I'll send an owl to Irma and ask, but I can almost bet that you have no chance."
Dahlia's eyes welled with tears. "Why can't you just be nice for once, Jade?"
"Oh, stop it. I'm just trying to be realistic."
"Well, maybe you should be realistic that Tom Riddle doesn't even like you! Alphard has told me the things he's said behind your back!"
Jade felt a bubble of anger in her stomach. It couldn't be true? Tom hadn't said anything about her to the boys; there was no way he would. He thought they were imbecilic, he thought of Jade as his closest friend. It was quite obvious with the way he talked to her during dinner. The way his cool fingers traced her lips, with his hot breath against her ear, before he went home for the night; it had to mean something.
"He does not say anything about me, Dahlia." She tapped her fingernails on the table beneath her hand and stared dead cold at the blonde in front of her.
"He does! You're just too busy being obsessed with him to realize it!" Dahlia was gathering her magazines and shoving them into her bag. "You think I'm too busy thinking about Alphard, but at least he's my boyfriend, and not some boy I will never get! Before the break he was staying with Amelina overnight! I bet you didn't know that, did you?"
Jade bit her bottom lip. It wasn't true. Amelina was a lying twat, and would do anything to make Jade jealous because of their terrible relationship. That just couldn't be true.
Dahlia stopped short of the compartment door and looked back toward Jade, who was still staring at the spot where Dahlia's eyes had previously been. "You have nothing to say, then?" Jade did not waver; the door slammed behind the angry teenager. And then there was silence.
Jade couldn't move. Her hands were clammy and cold and held onto each other for dear life. She could feel her legs shaking, and the bubble of anger in her stomach turning into an even stranger emotion. Blood from her lip trickled down her throat. She could feel her eyes becoming wet. Her heart was racing, and her chest heaved up and down rapidly. She was hurting.
Her chin quivered. She couldn't let herself do this, not here where somebody could very well come strolling in and see her. She turned her head toward the window and let go of her lip. Without warning she gasped for a breath and hot tears came pouring out of her large green eyes. Her body was shaking, and she couldn't breathe. It was an odd sensation her body was not used to.
Of course she had cried earlier in the year after her fight with Dahlia, but these tears were much different. The pain of rejection was worse than anything she'd ever felt before. It may not be true; but Dahlia was never one to lie. She was being played for a fool. Again. How many times must she have this realization before she would just leave him alone?
The door slid open. "Anything from the trolley, dear?"
She didn't look back toward the voice, just simply waved her hand toward the door. Truthfully, Jade was starving. She had quite literally ran out of the door before leaving for King’s Cross this morning. But, the thought of looking anybody in the face made her stomach turn. She wanted to crawl back into her bed in London and hide underneath her blankets for the next month. A mockery was being made of her emotions.
The squeaking wheels of the trolley rolled past her door and all that was left was the sound of wheels on the train tracks and occasional laughter from other compartments.
It seemed like hours before the students were being shuffled into carriages to go back to the castle. Jade avoided any and all Slytherins and ended up being stuck in a carriage with a stubby Hufflepuff. She had massive brunette curls that seemed to stand up on her head. Her bright brown eyes were wide with fear, and dirt was smudged across her cheek.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"I… sorry. You just… I've just seen you before," the young girl squeaked.
"Why is there dirt all over your face?" Jade pointed to a spot on her cheek where mud had dried.
The girl looked surprised and tried to rub the smudge clean, but spread it onto her nose. "I really love herbology, and I was pruning a girl’s new belladonna flower on the train. Must have gotten potting soil on my sleeve…"
Jade raised her nose at the girl. "I see."
"What’s your name?"
Jade sighed and sank back into the seat. She really didn't want to talk to this girl. "I'm not sure that's important."
"Oh. Well. My name is Pomona. Pomona Sprout." Her fat finger pointed at the pen on Jade's chest. "You're a Slytherin prefect! I knew you looked familiar. I'm just a third year. I really like Hogwarts! Quite a shock to my mum when she found out Dad was a wizard!"
Jade flinched. A half-blood. Jade scrunched her nose at the girl and tried to scoot away. "I'm a Sterling. Everybody in my family is magical, and they always have been."
"Oh! Not a lot of you left!" Pomona smiled widely, not realizing how close she was coming to being cursed by the very unaccepting Slytherin sitting across from her. Instead, she bored Jade with stories about herbology and massive plants that had grown around her parents’ home during the summer.
"Right. I'm not trying to be rude, but I couldn’t give a shit about herbology or plants. Can you just be quiet for the rest of the trip to the castle? We're nearly there now and I'm really tired of listening to it."
Pomona put her hand over her mouth and stared out of the carriage window. Jade wished she would just fall out so she didn't have to look at her anymore.
The students shuffled out of their carriages and into the Great Hall. Jade was turning to the left to walk toward the Slytherin table when she felt a hand on hers. She spun around to see squat little Pomona standing before her. Horrified, she ripped her hand away and instinctively tried to wipe her hand clean of the dirty-blooded skin.
"Do you want to sit with me?"
Jade's mouth dropped open. The nerve of this girl. "No. Not even a little bit. My friends are expecting me."
Pomona merely shrugged and skipped off to the table.
Jade shook her head. What in Merlin's name is wrong with that girl? She pushed her way to the head of the Slytherin table and shoved a piece of bread in her mouth. Pomona stared at Jade from across the hall. She mouthed something before being crowded by a group of what Jade presumed were her friends. They must have something seriously wrong with them if they could stand to be within two feet of her.
She leaned her forehead into the palm of her hand and poked at a bowl of questionable-looking stew in front of her. She glanced down the table at Dahlia, who was so immersed in conversation with Alphard that she wouldn't have noticed a giant standing over her. Pathetic. Those two carried on like children.
Of course he was going to be entered into an arranged marriage, most purebloods were. Unfortunately, Dahlia was too stupid to figure this out. Nobody in their right minds would want to match their son with Dahlia Alston. They were the family that reigned from Hufflepuff. Especially because, although Dahlia refuses to admit, her mother was a mudblood. A mudblood! Why Jade thought that a carrying on friendship with Dahlia was a good idea was far beyond her.
Jade sighed as she trudged down into the familiarly cool dungeons. What a miserable day. Admitting that she was being played for a fool yet again was difficult. Jade Blythe Sterling was a very proud young lady, and being used for whatever reason was not acceptable.
She faced the wall to her common room and sighed. "Salazar." The wall dematerialized and she walked through the entrance. Her eyes immediately glanced toward the fireplace and noticed a lone soul sitting in front of the flames in her seat. She crossed the common room and was disappointed to see Abraxas staring into the fire.
"Oh. It's just you," she said dully.
His eyes were sunk deep inside his head, and his dark circles shined in the light of the fire. Stubble from a bright beard formed around his mouth and onto his cheeks; his long hair fell in an awkward ponytail around his shoulders. He glanced toward Jade and then back at the fire. "Please, Jade, I don't have the patience for this tonight."
"This? What am I doing? I was just disappointed that you were sitting here and not somebody who could hold a conversation for more than fifteen minutes." She plopped down on the couch beside him and sighed loudly. "I've had a bad day, too."
"I'm sure your life is miserable, Jade." Abraxas buried his head inside his hands.
"Look, I'm sorry about Morax." She sat her hand on his knee. "My mum told me on Christmas, real shit luck. He was quite old, though." Although she wasn't particularly fond of the Malfoy’s, she knew the pain of losing a grandparent.
"I'm sure he wasn't ready to go." Abraxas grabbed Jade's hand and squeezed her fingers. "Something isn't right here, Jade. It's not right." His voice was a whisper, his eyes frantic.
"What do you mean, Abraxas? People die of old age, like my grandfather, he die-"
"No! He didn't die of old age! He was fine! Something isn't right!" Abraxas bore into Jade's eyes.
"Okay, Abraxas, I know it's difficult losing somebody. But, you can't try to rationalize it with silly notions of what may have happened…"
"He had no signs of anything wrong with him, Jade. No trace of death whatsoever." He spoke very meticulously, not missing a beat, making sure she heard every syllable; he was trying to tell her more than what he was saying.
"He was old, these things happen, his heart probably just stopped, Abraxas." Her patience was growing thin. She couldn't stand Abraxas even when he wasn't being insane. Now that he was trying to suggest some sort of conspiracy theory about his grandfather's death, she was even more irritated by him.
"No, Jade. Something isn't right. He didn't just die. Something happened…"
Jade shook his hands off. "Listen, Abraxas. I can't handle you right now. I'm not in the mood."
Abraxas leaned over and cupped her face in his hands. "Tom…he…my grandfather…"
Jade pushed his hands off of her face. "Abraxas, if you are really trying to get me to believe that Tom killed your grandfather, you're out of your mind. That is a very serious accusation."
Abraxas pulled his knees toward his chest and buried his head underneath his knees. "You will never be able to understand him, Jade. Never. You will never win with him. You would never have a chance."
She quickly ran up into her room and sank into her bed. How much more was there to learn about him? Surely he wouldn't kill his friend's grandfather? Tom Riddle wasn't the kind to kill for fun, was he? She pulled her quilt over her head and sighed. No, Tom wasn't the type of person to do something like that.
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