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Chapter 24 : That One Night was More Than Just Right
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“Dom,” I began, as I picked up a shirt off the rack and inspected it, before making a face and putting it back. “You know we’re supposed to be getting stuff for other people, right?”
“I know that,” Dom called from the dressing room, while I continued to mindlessly flip through clothing racks as I waited for her. “But I need a dress for Victoire’s Christmas gathering, so might as well kill two birds with one stone.”
With that, Dom pulled the curtain to her dressing room aside and stepped out wearing the black velvet dress that had caught her attention in the first place. It was fairly simple, with capped sleeves, a v-neckline, and it hit just a couple inches above the knee, but on Dom it looked amazing. Yet another perk of being veela.
“You should get that,” I said, as Dom inspected herself in the store mirror. “It’s fab.”
“You think?” Dom asked, pursing her lips as she looked down at the dress, her silver hair falling in front of her face.
“I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Now come on, you need to help me find gifts for people! I suck at this.”
“Okay, okay,” Dom said, seeming satisfied with my response. She walked back into the dressing room to change out of the dress and back into her clothes. Then, she stuck her head out of the dressing room. “Who have you gotten gifts for so far?”
“Umm…” I began, mentally going over in my head who I had gotten gifts for. Dom’s head disappeared back behind the curtain to finish changing as I thought. “Chaise.”
“Seriously?” Dom said, pulling the curtain of the dressing room back incredulously, now back in her normal clothes. “You’ve only gotten one gift so far? Are you mad?”
“Probably,” I responded, biting my lip. “I was hoping that today I’d be able to get everyone else’s.”
“Well you better hope you get everyone else’s today. Christmas is in two days!” Dom exclaimed, her eyes wide at she stared at me.
“I know,” I responded, shooting Dom an annoyed look. Her reaction was just freaking me out more than I already was, which didn’t help. “But I haven’t really had much time, you know, considering.”
It was true. I hadn’t had much time. Ever since I got to Dom’s house we had done nothing but run on errands for Victoire’s new flat. Before my dad cancelled, we had arranged to go Christmas shopping together which is why I hadn't done any preshopping like Dom had. But with the change in plans, I hadn’t had time to get gifts for anyone. Until now that is. Which is why Dom and I were here. In one of the only magical shopping centres in France, trying to claw our way through mobs of other last minute shoppers as we searched for gifts (or in Dom's case, clothes, because you can never have too many of those, right? Right.).
Dom sighed, linking her arm with mine as she held the velvet dress in one hand and guided us to the register. “You’re right; I’m sorry. I’m being insensitive.”
I sighed, suddenly feeling bad at dampening the jesting mood. “No, Dom it’s fine. I’m fine. Sorry for bringing it up.”
“But it should be brought up,” Dom said, putting a hand on her hip. We had reached the pay counter now and Dom handed the velvet dress to the lady behind the register. As the woman rang it up, Dom kept her eyes trained on me. “When my mum sent me the letter saying you were staying with us because your father cancelled, I was patient and I didn’t bring it up to you because I figured you’d fill me in on your own time. But you haven’t and as your best friend I want to know how you’re doing.”
“That’ll be fifteen galleons, miss,” The shopkeeper said timidly, after Dom had finished her rant. Which was a smart choice in all actuality, because Dom hated being interrupted.
“Oh. Right,” Dom said, fishing in her purse and pulling out her money sack, before sliding fifteen galleons to the shopkeeper. Dom kept her eyes focused on me as the lady put her dress in a bag, and once the shopkeeper exchanged the normal ‘have a nice day’ Dom had grabbed my arm once again and started marching me out of the store.
“So, Corinne. You’re going to tell me how you’re doing, with none of this ‘I’m fine’ bullshit.”
“But I am fine,” I insisted, to which Dom rolled her eyes.
“You mean to tell me,” Dom started, as we weaved our way around random passersby, “that after your dad cancelled on your Christmas plans together and then dropped the bomb that he was staying in China for good, you’re fine?”
“Yup,” I lied.
“Oh, Corinne,” Dom said, nudging me with her elbow. “You’re an awful liar, do you know that?”
“I’m not lying.” Another lie. Dom arched an eyebrow at me, not seeming at all convinced. Damn her for being such a good friend.
“Okay,” Dom said slowly. “I’m going to drop this subject, because as your best friend I already know and understand exactly how you must be feeling right about now. But I’m also going to let you know that as soon as you’re open to discussing this, I’ll be there with a carton of ice cream and a feel good movie. Okay?”
“Okay,” I agreed, and my love for Dom only strengthened as she linked her arm through mine and started swinging her shopping bag back and forth, ready to change the conversation.
I really didn’t deserve her as a best friend.
“Fancy going in there to look for a gift?” Dom said, gesturing to a store that looked like it sold a variety of things ranging from books to vegetables. The name of the store was faded, so I could only make out certain letters, which didn’t make it look like the most promising of places.
“Yeah sure, why not?” I said, because I really was desperate to find gifts, so soon enough we were inside the store, and my gear had shifted into present-hunting mode.
“Right so you still need to get everyone but Chaise a gift?” Dom asked, as she looked around the store with me. The place was full of random odds and ends, with no specific focus on what the store was supposed to sell. I spotted a snapdragon being sold in the back of the store, yet in the front there were loads of pygmy puffs on display. From my own experiences, these types of places could either be really good, or really bad.
“Yeah,” I answered Dom, nodding my head as I inspected a relatively old looking watch. The face of the watch didn’t seem to work, so I put it back down. “How many gifts have you gotten?”
“I’ve gotten everyone except Chaise a gift,” Dom said, seeming to bite her lip at the thought. “I still don’t know what to get him. What did you buy him?”
“I got him an iPod that’s been charmed so that it’ll work at Hogwarts,” I responded, shrugging my shoulders. “He’d been going on about how his current one has become all wonky because of the barrier charms.”
“Ugh that’s such a good one,” Dom said, slapping her hand to her head. “At this point I’m about to just get him a gift card and call it a day.”
“You can’t do that,” I said immediately. Gift cards were just so… impersonable. Especially for Dom to give to Chaise.
“I know that,” Dom said, letting out a sigh. She then picked up a pair of gloves that were on display and inspected them thoroughly. “Hey! You should get these for Theo. They’re fireproof.”
I rolled my eyes. “And when would I give them to him? His station at Hogsmeade ends once the new year rolls around so I can’t very well give them to him at the next Hogsmeade trip.”
Dom looked at me like I was either very stupid or very slow. Maybe even both.
“You do realize that my mum’s side of the family was invited to Victoire’s Christmas party as well,” Dom began slowly. “That was her selling point to mum and dad for hosting the party. She told them it would help strengthen the family bond, even though it’s clear she just wants to host the party so she can brag about her new place.”
I didn’t say anything, as I began to absorb the information Dom had just given me. So, Victoire had invited Fleur’s side of the family. Which mean Frannie and Theo would be there. And while I was suddenly really excited at the prospect of being able to see them, I knew this meant I now had two more people to add to the list of presents I had to get. Great.
“I’m going to go broke after this,” I moaned, as I picked up the gloves Dom had suggested to me and inspected the price. Damn the wizarding world for being so expensive.
“Nope,” Dom said, smiling at me cheekily. “Your father is. You still have his GTM card from the summer, don’t you?”
I knew there was a reason I loved Dominique Weasley.
“Well, well, well. Looks like you two have done some serious shopping,” Tyson said, eyeing the shopping bags that Dom and I were laden with as we walked into the courtyard outside of the wizarding shopping center.
We’d been shopping for the past few hours, and I had—somehow—managed to find gifts for everyone on my list. Dom had even managed to find a gift for Chaise (as well as many new additions to her wardrobe) so we had told Tyson and the rest of the guys to meet us at the front of the shopping center so that we could go to the food court to eat and hang out. I looked around and noticed that neither Wyatt nor Chaise had arrived, which meant they were later than Dom and I for a change.
“Yup we have,” Dom answered, giving Tyson her shopping bags (which he wrinkled his nose at before reluctantly taking) and beginning to march forward. “And now we’re starving, so we want to eat. Where are Chaise and Wyatt?”
“Well, I’m right here,” a voice began behind us, and upon turning around we saw Wyatt, flipping his black hair out of his blue eyes, “and Chaise should be here any minute as well. But I should warn you that he was with James when you invited him, so James is probably coming too.”
Dom shrugged, clearly not as irked as she would’ve been a couple months ago about this predicament, but I felt myself tense slightly. I was hoping I could somehow avoid James all Christmas break, but it looked like he had managed to snake his way into my circle of friends for good. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about this.
“Oh I’m sure Corinne doesn’t mind,” Tyson said, slinging his free arm around my shoulder and ruffling my hair. “Her and James are quite the pair these days. Aren’t you, Co?”
“We’re not.” I said, glaring at Tyson. “I dunno why you keep saying that.”
It had been getting annoying lately. As payback for me refusing to tell Tyson what had happened when James had dropped me off at his common room the day before winter break, Tyson had decided to convince all of the guys something was going on between James and I. I can’t tell you how many letters they had all sent me, pretending to be him and professing their love to me. It was like they were unaware I knew all of their handwriting by heart or something.
“Keep saying what?”
We all looked to the two people who had just arrived, Chaise and James, the former had asked the question and the latter was standing with his hands in his pockets. Which just led me to become annoyed because was it just me or did James always seem to have his hands in his pockets? What was that about?
“Oh nothing,” Tyson said, ruffling my hair yet again before taking the bags I was carrying out of my hands, “you’ll find out soon enough. So, eating time, yeah?”
“Here, here!” Dom announced, a bounce to her step as she jumped onto Tyson’s back (which he was not expecting and therefore let out a huge grunt) and thrust her hand forward. “Lead the way!”
Tyson then decided to get back at Dom, by running forward as fast as he could in a zig zag motion. This lead to Dom wobbling around on his back while hitting his shoulder repeatedly, demanding for him to cart her around like a decent human being, which only made Tyson run faster.
Everyone else followed the direction Tyson and Dom were headed in until we were all walking inside of the shopping center, Tyson was now walking at a reasonable pace as Dom still remained on his back, while Chaise and Wyatt rolled their eyes at their antics. I tried to walk with the lot of them in the front, but Tyson had pushed me back exclaiming that somebody needed to walk with James, after giving me a knowing wink.
So, Tyson and Dom were leading the crowd, with Wyatt and Chaise close behind them. Which then led me and James to bring up the rear, walking side by side in silence.
Well, that is, until James broke it.
“So… how has break been for you so far?” James asked, clearly trying to make things less awkward.
“Fine,” I responded, not knowing what else to say.
“Fine?” James asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah. Fine,” I said, emphasizing my point. What was with everyone doubting me being fine these days?
“Have you talked to your dad at all?” James tried again, which only annoyed me further. Just because he had happened to walk in on me at a moment when I wasn’t at my strongest, didn’t mean he had the right to ask me these types of personal questions.
“Do you plan to owl him at all during break?”
“Do you want to?”
“Can we please not talk about this?” I said, turning to face James and putting a hand on my hip. “I don’t want to discuss this with anyone, least of all you.”
“Okay, okay,” James said, holding his hands up in surrender. “I just figured it’d be easier talking to me about it since you hate me. I always find it easier to talk to people when I don’t care what they think of me.”
“I don’t hate you,” I said with a sigh. Which was true. I didn’t hate him. I couldn’t after he had helped me that night in the Owlry. But still, I hated to admit it.
“You don’t?” James asked, a look of surprise watching over his well-defined features.
“No, I don’t.”
“Well,” James said, running his hands through his hair, “that’s good to know, I guess.”
“This doesn’t mean we’re friends,” I said, not wanting him to get the wrong idea. “Because just so I’m clear, we are not friends.”
“Of course not,” James said. “That would be only too easy.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, slowing my walking pace turning to look at James.
“Nothing,” James said, shrugging his shoulders. I continued to stare at him so he inhaled a breath. “I just mean that you like to make things a lot more difficult than they need to be.”
“But do I?” I said, my tone caustic. “Because I think I have my reasons for making things difficult.”
“Okay,” James said, seeming to want to back out of the conversation. “I get it. Whatever.”
We walked in silence after that. I watched the others as they joked ahead of us, and I wished for the millionth time that Tyson didn’t have this idea in his head that James and I ought to be together. Then I could be laughing and joking with them, instead of participating in this awkward bout of silence.
As the food court came into view, I began to inwardly sigh in relief at the fact that my conversation with James would be able to officially end. Just as I was about to make an excuse and head to one of the various clumps of people waiting in line for fast food, James spoke again.
“You’ll have to forgive me sometime, you know,” James said, his voice even as he stared straight ahead. His mouth was pulled into a taut line and his eyes were set in determination. He looked as though he was going to make it his mission for me to forgive him.
Which begged the question I’d been asking myself for quite some time now whenever it came to James: why?
I considered my response for a couple of seconds, before flipping my hair over my shoulder and starting to walk to where Dom was now waiting in a fast food line (Wizdy's: Charm it your way!). Once I was a couple steps away from James, I looked over my shoulder to respond.
“Corinne! I’m so glad you decided to come!” Angelina exclaimed excitedly, enveloping me in a hug as I stood on the porch outside the house. “I understand it took a lot of convincing from Roxy to get you to come over here, am I right?”
I nodded my head slowly, as Angelina began to guide me into the house. Compared to Dom’s, it looked like a whole other world. Instead of the pristine pastels with classic furniture and hardwood floors, this house reminded me of the inside of a circus tent. The walls were colored in varying shades of bright red, with knick knacks from various countries dotted along every open surface. The furniture was mismatched and the pictures scattered across the wall didn’t hang at perfect right angles but…. I loved it.
If anyone had told me even a year ago that one day I would be in Freddy’s house, meeting Freddy’s parents and actually feeling kind of at home, I would’ve laughed my head off. But here I was, following Angelina through the house, as she acted like I was a guest of honor or something.
It had taken quite a lot of convincing for me to agree to come over here. Roxy of course, had been the main person behind getting me to come over because, in her words, it was only fair that since I got to stay with Dom over break, I had to at least visit her once at her house. I had been tentative to agree, seeing as I didn’t really want to see Freddy more than I had to, but Roxy assured me that Freddy would be out of the way and Dom was visiting her mum’s parents today which made it only too convenient for me to agree.
“Well,” Angelina began, turning around and gesturing to the house, “I hope you don’t think the place is too out there, but when you’re married to George it’s kind of hard to have a normal house.”
As she said this there was a loud boom that eminated from behind one of the doors, and Angelina rolled her eyes. “George! Can you stop working for one minute to greet our guest? Was it not you that insisted she come over?”
There was a loud grunt and then footsteps, before George appeared in the archway of the foyer we were standing in. He had some streaks of ash on his face which he quickly wiped away, and he was donning a pink bowtie.
“Hello Corinne,” George greeted, smiling at me amiably. “Nice to have you over.”
“Thanks for inviting me,” I said, smiling back.
“No problem. Roxy’s waiting for you upstairs in her room. But before you go up there, I want to ask you what you know about the boy Roxy’s seeing. Ryan, I think his name was,” George leaned in closer as he said this, as though preparing for me to tell him a secret. Angelina brought her hand up to her face as George did this, feigning embarrassment.
“You mean Wyatt?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah….Wyatt,” George said, staring off into the distance as he said the name with a large amount of distaste. He shook his head and composed himself before turning back to me, “Roxy wants to introduce him to us tomorrow at the Christmas dinner but I figure I’d ask you about him first. Is he going to take advantage of my little girl?”
“George! Please don’t give her the third degree. She’ll never want to come over again if you do this,” Angelina said with a sigh.
“Oh come on! Don’t tell me you’re not curious about this boy Roxy’s been going on about. What if he’s a right sleaze?” George said, turning to Angelina.
“I trust our daughter’s judgement. We did raise her you know.”
“I don’t trust anything when it comes to boys,” George responded seriously. “I was a young lad once, and I know what they’re thinking. Who knows what this Ryan guy is playing at.”
“You really don’t have to worry about Wyatt,” I added, deciding now was the time to interrupt George before he went into a rant, while also trying to remind George of Wyatt’s name. “He’s one of my best friends and probably one of the sweetest people in the world. Roxy’s a very lucky girl.”
George studied me for a bit, as though trying to suss out whether or not I was telling the truth. Then he sighed. “Let’s hope you’re right. I’m going to give him the third degree tomorrow just to make sure.”
“You will do no such thing,” Angelina said, whacking George on the shoulder. “I don’t want my only daughter hating me because you can’t be a civilized human being.”
“Stop hitting me, woman!” George said, rubbing the spot on his shoulder where he’d been hit. “As much as this might surprise you, I’m not the iron man.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not surprised,” Angelina said, rolling her eyes. She then turned to me. “Corinne, you can head upstairs to Roxy’s room. She’s the first door on the left so just give it a knock.”
“Okay,” I responded, making my way towards the staircase. “It was nice talking with you.”
“Right back at ya!” George called as I began to walk up the stairs. Him and Angelina then continued to bicker about something or other, their voices fading into the background as I reached the second floor. Just as I stepped onto the landing, a door opened and out walked…
His eyes seemed to widen as he caught sight of me, and I’m pretty sure my expression mirrored his.
“What are you doing here?” Freddy asked, crossing his arms and giving me an annoyed look.
“Um,” I began, looking down at my hands and feeling myself grow very uncomfortable. “Roxy invited me.”
There was a pause as Freddy let the words I spoke sink in.
“Well isn’t that great,” Freddy intoned sarcastically. “Not only have you gotten my best mate to not talk to me, but I can’t even get away from you during break. Fan-bloody-tastic.”
“Excuse me?” I said, shocked at Freddy’s words. Was he trying to… blame me for the fact that James and him no longer spoke?
“I think you heard me,” Freddy responded, looking down at me. There was something about his expression that was so condescending, I felt myself shrink. I hated getting involved in confrontations. I was terrible at articulating my thoughts, and things always came out into a big jumbled mess. It would just be easier to ignore Freddy, and let him say whatever he wanted.
But there was another thought, a more powerful one, that felt angry. Here was Freddy, a person who continually tried to hurt me, who was now trying to blame me for all the problems in his life. Did he not realize all the ones he had caused in mine?
“Yeah, I did,” I responded, feeling power beginning to gain behind my words. “But what I don’t understand is how you seem to feel like you have the right to be angry at me. I mean, do you not remember helping Madison and Elise hang up all those pictures in the Great Hall?”
“And do you not remember punching me in the face before then?”
“That was totally deserved,” I announced, glaring at Freddy. “You taunted me for years up until then. Were you really surprised I decided not to take your shit?”
“I didn’t see you punching James in the face. You know he was as much as fault for making fun of you as I was,” Freddy argued back. He seemed to be growing angrier as he spoke. “But no. You deem it acceptable to go around and snog James whenever you please.”
“I snogged him once and I didn’t even know it was him!” I shot back.
“So what? You still wormed your way into his head. You know he refuses to even speak to me anymore? I haven’t had a conversation with him in months. We share the same dorm for Merlin’s sake!”
“I don’t understand how that’s my fault. I have no control over who James chooses to speak to.”
“Are you sure about that?” Freddy asked, a challenging look in his gaze. He then gave a hollow laugh. “I still can’t believe of all people, Corinne Beaumont has managed to get James wrapped around her finger. Who would’ve thought you could do that, eh piggy?”
I felt myself freeze as Freddy said this. It was like he was purposely trying to pour salt on my wounds. It was like he honestly didn’t… care about what he’d done. I clenched my jaw and gave Freddy an icy stare.
“You know, at least James has been trying to make things better. You’ve just done nothing but continue to be the arsehole you used to be.”
Freddy and I locked glares after I said this, until finally Freddy looked away. “Whatever. You can do whatever you want. Weasel your way into my family, steal my best friend, turn everyone against me. Fine. Just leave me alone.”
And with that, Fred pushed past me and walked down the stairs. I heard his footsteps reach the bottom of the living room, and then the unmistakeable crack of someone apparating met my ears.
I stared at where he had been standing previously in shock. But I wasn’t sure what I was more surprised about. The fact that Freddy had been so quick to pin the blame on me for everything bad that had happened to him, or the fact that I had stood up for myself and fought back. Whatever it was, I couldn’t help but deep down feel a little bubble of pride well up in my stomach.
I had actually said what I felt for once. And while it may not seem like a lot, to me it was. I had tried. I had made an effort to convey my thoughts, and not let people walk all over me. But… as stupid as it may seem, I began to feel the tiniest bit bad for Freddy. He had lost his best friend, and from previous experiences, I knew how hard it was to have people you once counted on suddenly ripped away. It had to suck for him, even if he had deserved it.
“Corinne?” A voice called, breaking me out of my thoughts and causing me to turn towards the door that was now open to the right. Roxy was staring at me with a confused expression. “Did you just get here? I heard voices in the hallway… Is everything okay?”
I unclenched my hands and shook my head, forcing a smile on my face as I turned to Roxy. “Yeah. Everything’s fine.”
A/N: YAY A NEW CHAPTER! WITH ACTUAL IMPORTANT THINGS AND PLOT HAPPENING! I'M SO PROUD OF MYSELF! So I hope you lovely lovely readers liked it, because I'm not going to lie it was pretty difficult to write this. But I'm super excited to write the next chapter, because it's like... super important to the story and I've been wanting to write it for like... ever.
Anyways, things have been pretty depressing lately. Like... me and all of my besties are going to completely different schools at the end of summer and I don't ever want to be apart from them because they're legit my oxygen and I get so so sad whenever I think about it. Especially my bff Olivia because she's my other half. We didn't win best friends in the yearbook for nothing!
Which actually brings me to another point, during this dinner my school holds we get assigned unofficial superlatives, and I won Most Likely to Be a Bestselling Novelist! I just thought I'd share that with you because I can.
So, what did you think about the chapter? Did you like Corinne and James' talk? What about Coco and Freddy's feud? How awesome is Dom as a friend? Do you love George and Angelina, or is that just me?
Alright well please review because they are honestly what keep me going with this story. I would definitely not be as far as I am without your lovely amazing support. You guys are the best reviewers ever, I swear!
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