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Chapter 12 : Chapter 12: Cardinal
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The cold tone of his voice echoed through the empty house. All I had done was tried to help. He was hurting himself. He was mad at himself for telling me, but I wanted to know. I wanted to know why he was so cold sometimes, why he was so upset. But I didn’t want to know if it would mean that he tormented himself for days because he told me.
It was a problem bigger than him. Bigger than me. Something that we couldn’t deal with.
I let my head fall onto my pillow, the world felt like it was spinning to fast, and knocking everything off balance. Knocking me off my feet, with nothing but a few memories to hold me up. Memories of Henry. Memories of my friends. But there was too much to deal with. I couldn’t leave Henry in the past, but somehow, I knew it wouldn’t work if we tried to keep it up while I was away. I cast a silencing charm over my room, and let myself cry.
I don’t know how long it was, but it felt like days had gone by. Eventually, James came up to my room, and glanced at me doubtfully. Then Al. Then Hugo. But it was Roxy who had helped me the most. She curled up in my bed. And pulled the covers over our faces. She slipped her tiny, fragile hand into mine.
I don’t even know why I was crying. It was Henry’s problem. But for some reason, I felt broken. Maybe it was the way he had yelled at me, the way he had refused to let me comfort him, to let me into his private world. I felt rejected. Like I wasn’t good enough. Maybe, someday, he would find someone good enough, someone that he wanted to let help. It wasn’t me.
As much as we wanted to be right for each other, there was something missing. I had never felt the way I felt with Henry with anyone else. But for some reason, the world kept tearing us apart.
I finally got out of bed, Roxy had told me I had been in there for a day and a half. I ate four bowls of cereal. My world revolved around food—lets be real. I looked through a stack of letters that I had thrown aside, too wrapped up in Henry to let myself read. But now that our fight had thrust me back into the real world, I let myself read them. Carefully, I tore the seals on each one.
Lena invited me to spend a week in her flat in London, and told me that she had really gotten close to Malfoy… I was happy for her. I thought of his piercing gray eyes, and then of Henry’s—the thought left me out of breath, and sick to my stomach.
But I wasn’t going to let myself fall apart because of him. If we were being rational about the situation, I was less likely to fall apart away from him. I wasn’t part of this whirlwind world that he had brought me into. I was separate. I could stand on my own.
That’s when I decided to ask Daddy to let me go stay with Lena. I wrote her back, asking if I could use the floo network to get there, and stay for a week.
I packed my bags. I hadn’t cleaned the room in weeks, because I was too busy. But I cleaned it. It was cluttered with things that Henry had given me. A pressed flower from the park, a folded up menu that I had shoved in my pocket from our date, a bracelet that Cassie had made me. And then, there was the flamingo.
I trudged out of the house, flamingo in hand, and took it back. I took it back to the yard with the flamingos. There was a lady sitting on the porch, and her mouth formed a perfect ‘o’ when she saw me with the hot pink plastic body in hand.
I could tell she was about to burst with…anger? Excitement? Then, when the yelling started, all I could think of was the howler that Momo (Grandma Molly) had sent Hugo during his 3rd Year. I laughed, remembering his cheeks flaming red, almost matching his scruffy hair.
I started laughing at the memory, which made her even more mad, so I thrust the flamingo on the ground and ran. I ran so fast home that I hadn’t even noticed James standing on the front lawn yelling at someone across the street. I knocked into him and fell to the ground, a little dizzy with everything that had happened.
When I finally was able to see straight, and James had stood too, I realized that Henry was standing across the street. We made eye contact briefly, but he looked away in shame.
The whole scene began to make sense. James was yelling at Henry. Full out yelling. The smile that had been plastered on my face at the pink flamingo lady’s house fell. We all stood there, looking at each other before, I turned quickly and went inside. James followed me.
Once he softly closed the door, I turned on my heel.
“What the HELL do you think you are doing? Stay out of this!” My voice bounced around off the walls of the house.
“Rose, you seemed so upset. I was just trying to protect you,”
“I don’t need your protection, James.”
“Rose, he hurt you.”
“So what? Its not going to be the last time someone hurts me, and what if you aren’t there to give me your protection?”
“Rose, I am sorry, I guess I should have just let things be…”
“Yeah, you should have,” I said, forcing down the tears that were welling up in my eyes. I had never snapped at him like that, and then I realized what a hypocrite I was being. He was trying to help me. He wasn’t trying to hurt me, and just like Henry, I had refused to accept it.
I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. I was being too stubborn to apologize. I hated myself for it, but I stomped up the stairs and into my room.
A few minutes later, my dad came in. He scratched his head awkwardly.
“Look…I can tell you are upset about something,”
I nodded childishly, wiping tears from my face.
“But, I want you to go to London. I got things all set up with the Callahans, you could even floo in tonight, if you wanted…”
My dad was never the best at making those connections to make you feel better, but when you were upset for some reason his big goofy grin was comforting.
“Thanks, dad, I think I will stay one more night and get everything packed up, and I will be back two weeks before September 1st, so I can get everything figured out then, with Diagon Alley and everything.
He nodded, and left the room.
It felt like everything was falling back into place. Like for some reason, I had left the wizarding world, and joined the muggle one, but it was comforting coming back.
I scribbled a note out to Lena, telling her when I would get there, and gave it to the taffy colored owl sitting in the kitchen.
I couldn’t fall asleep. I wanted to leave, but at the same time there were so many loose ends that I was leaving. I felt like I should be able to make some sort of formal end to the whole thing, but it was harder to end than I thought. I tried to go over and talk to him at least three times, but each time my hand landed on the handle and then I turned, and ran. Tears followed.
It was hard to let go, but it was something that I had to do.
I looked out the window, and into the solemn darkness. The street lamp flickered, but the same silhouette I was so familiar with was standing there.
I sucked in my breath to keep the falling feeling out of my stomach. I felt my eyes swelling. I was the one who was supposed to be breaking it off with him, yet I was a mess. Maybe he realized there was some sort of mutual agreement, that things were over.
Maybe that was how he ended things with me—by snapping.
I curled myself up into a little ball, the darkness falling over me like a blanket. Everything was still. I had the urge to run to him, to let myself fall in his arms, to let him catch me, to hold me up because I felt so weak. But that’s not how it is anymore. It can’t be like that anymore.
I had never regretted something so much. The pressure was too much in that one moment, and I felt like I had made the biggest mistake. Once again, I had screwed up. Once again, I had ruined something that actually made the load lighter and more bearable. But she couldn’t forgive me, because I couldn’t forgive myself.
In that moment, I tried to use my mother’s weakness as a shield. When things felt like they were going to end, I used it to push myself away—away from the only thing that had ever kept me on my feet.
It had been a struggle, with Rose. I had loved her, I loved being with her, and the fun that we had. But then when things got serious, I couldn’t stop thinking about how things were going to end, like our force got heavier and we were headed towards a concrete wall, faster and faster.
No matter how hard we tried, we were just twisting the relationship to try to keep it from ending, when the best choice, the easiest, was just to break it off all along. Maybe it wasn’t how I wanted it to end. I wanted it to end with a kiss. A soft memory. A painless memory. Not the screaming, and the fighting.
I tore myself apart, because I finally realized what I had done. I glanced up from our lamp post to her window. I knew that she was leaving in less than a month, but I didn’t know exactly what her plans were.
Would I get to talk to her? If I did, she probably wouldn’t want to talk to me. Like today, when her cousin was yelling at me. I deserved it. I knew I did, but to see her just accept it hurt. Seeing her walk away hurt more.
She seemed so fragile, and so strong at the same time. It hurt to see that she was hurt, but I knew that she would recover. I know that she wouldn’t let this get her down too much. I couldn’t let her be hurt. I wanted her to come out and yell at me. I wanted her to hurt me. I wanted her bitter words to sink into me, and I wanted to feel worse pain than she had when I yelled at her.
Who would have guessed that a few words could break so much? It was like a bowling ball in a glass shop and there were no words that could fix what was broken.
I needed to apologize, but I didn’t think she would have listened. I didn’t think that it would have made a difference in the memories she had of me.
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by Leigh Kelley