Chapter 21 : Waking
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“Werewolf definitely. They’ve got those massive claws and teeth. Would rip a vampire to shreds,” Drew said from across the room, rolling his eyes as if it wasn’t even a question.
“Yea, but a werewolf’s got a disadvantage. A werewolf is only a werewolf during the full moon. All a vampire has to do is wait until night time and-” Henry countered.
“Alright, alright. Grindelwald or Voldemort?” Fred cut in.
“Oh Voldemort definitely!” Drew said immediately.
“I would beg to differ,” Carter said quietly, without looking up from his book. “It took Dumbledore, one of the most powerful wizards of all time, to take down Grindelwald. Voldemort was killed by a seventeen year-old boy. No offense James.”
James looked up from Everything You Need to Know About Quidditch and smiled, “None taken.”
He’d been generally ignoring his friends as they debated who would win in a fight. It was commonly an annual argument, cropping up at least once during each school year when the weather was bad and he and his friends were holed up in their dorm. Usually, James joined them adamantly, but tonight he had other things on his mind.
Like the fact that the entire school knew that Calla’s father had been Mulciber. That a Potter had dated a Death Eater’s child and that people seemed to pity him for it.
James still didn’t know how he felt about the whole thing.
It was clear that Calla was not going to easily forgive him for his prejudice- he’d have to prove that he was behind that somehow- and yet, James knew he wasn’t completely over them. Not yet, at least.
Growing up hearing stories about the terrible events during Voldemort’s time had set James in such a state where it was difficult for him to imagine anything connected with Death Eaters to be good. Al seemed have escaped this fate, but he had always seemed to be more like their father than James had anyway. And Lily had never come into a situation where it mattered. James wondered why he’d ended up so biased.
He didn’t blame his parents. After all, they’d never told him that Death Eaters and all things related were to be hated. He knew he’d interpreted their stories in a slightly twisted way as a child. Frankly, he believed he could trace it back to his Uncle Ron and all those hours they’d spent playing chess. It was clear why Rose was so afraid of her father finding out about Scorpius.
James knew that Calla was good. She wasn’t a Death Eater. And he knew that slowly, but surely, his feelings for her would remove the poison of his prejudice. He only hoped it was soon, because he couldn’t allow himself to lose Calla again.
He also knew that he wanted to punch Lauren Martin in the face for telling the school. He’d overheard Andie and Beth talking about it in Divination. That was the end of any chance that girl thought she’d had with James.
He also knew he’d have to find some way to reconcile himself with Al for what he did. And Rose. And maybe, just maybe, restore Al and Malfoy’s friendship. But that might be stretching it a little too far...
“James! Hello, earth to James. Oi James!” And a pillow smacked James in the face. He realised his friends were staring at him.
“What?” he grumbled, annoyed that they couldn’t just leave him to talk to himself inside his head in peace.
“You know a lot about Muggle culture, don’t you? Who would win: Doctor Who or Sherlock Holmes?” Fred asked.
“Doctor Who, of course,” James said, rolling his eyes at his friends’ stupidity for even thinking that Sherlock Holmes had a chance against Doctor Who. “He’s got that sonic screwdriver and he can just regenerate if he dies. Duh...”
“Exactly what I said, thank you!” Carter exclaimed, clearly annoyed that they hadn’t believed him, when he was Muggle-born.
As his friends continued their heated debate, James found that this was his best opportunity to make an escape without being noticed. He slipped off his bed and, careful to avoid the creaking floorboard in front of the exit, sneaked out the door and down the stairs. Sighing, James decided he might as well just continue reading Everything You Need to Know About Quidditch in the common room, as he didn’t have anything better to do.
Lauren Martin cornered him at the bottom of the staircase. She brushed her hand across his arm. “So, James, I was thinking now that you and Matthews are finished, we could-”
“Go to hell, Martin,” James growled before pushing past her. He thought about taking his Firebolt 5000 out, but decided against it.
Instead, he found Al sitting by the fire and writing furiously. Laughing to himself because this was one of the first times James had seen Albus without the presence of Kayla, James decided to join his brother. Better now than never.
“Hey Al,” James said tentatively, taking the seat beside him.
Al grunted in response. James decided to try again.
“What’re you doing?” he asked. Al was clearly still angry.
“Writing a letter to home. Mum needs to know we’re alive somehow and you and Lily are hopeless,” Al said, signing the parchment with a flourish and putting it to the side to dry. A small grin appeared on his face and James decided that he wasn’t completely hated.
“Well, you know, me and Lily have got lives, Al. We have fun. We don’t spend our days holed up playing dictionary games with the prefects,” James joked, causing his brother’s smile to widen. He ruffled Al’s hair. It felt good to not be on the other end of Al’s glares, which had grown ever more frequent since the Malfoy incident, as James enjoyed calling it.
“Oh, I didn’t’ realise getting totally wasted and making a fool of yourself passed as fun these days, Jimmy,” Al said, smirking.
“You have so much to learn, little brother,” James said, grinning and shoving Al.
They sat in comfortable silence until James cleared his throat. “Listen, Al. About what happened with Malfoy, I’m really sorry-”
“It’s fine James,” Al cut off. James stared at him. “I get it- you were angry. And, in light of recent... revelations, I understand why. Listen,” Albus began, staring pointedly at James. “I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t angry at what you did, but I’m glad you did it. I needed to find out and it was going to be even worse if I found out later-”
“But, you and Malfoy-”
“Scorp and I have been mates for a while. I don’t know what I’m going to do about him, but I have a feeling that it isn’t done. For now, I’ll just have to see...”
Al looked at James before glancing across the room where Rose was laughing with her friends. He stared for several minutes until James cleared his throat. Al jumped. “Right, sorry. Rose...” He looked over again and this time caught Rose’s eye. They nodded to each other. “I don’t think I could ever stay angry at Rose. I don’t think any of us could. She’s just so... Rose. Anyway, we talked and... well, maybe I’m starting to forgive her... just a bit.”
Albus grinned cheekily and stood up, crossed the room, and left through the portrait hole, saying that he needed to mail the letter to Mum. James stood up and crossed to his favourite chair by the fireplace.
He was interrupted by Andie just before finishing chapter five of Everything You Need to Know About Quidditch, Bludgers: Fists of Fury. She plopped down next to him and began furiously cleaning her broomstick. He raised his eyebrows. She glanced up. He couldn’t help but think of Calla. This is really getting pathetic, he thought.
“So... James,” Andie began. “About what happened on the pitch...?”
“Let’s just forget about, okay Andie?”
Andie smiled at him, a clearly relieved expression spreading across her face.
“Thanks, James. And for the record, I think it’s only a matter of time before she forgives you.”
James stared at Andie as she went back to polishing her broom and sighed. Despite his knowing that she was probably only saying that to get back on his good side after the Quidditch incident, James couldn’t help but allow the tiny bubble of hope that was rising in his stomach. If Andie thought he and Calla still had a chance...
He was unaware how quickly that bubble would pop.
Beth scrambled in through the portrait hole, a frazzled and worried look splayed across her face. She quickly located Andie and rushed towards her. No one else had noticed her entrance, but James had zoned in on her like radar. There were very few things that could make Beth looked that anxious and James knew he wouldn’t like any of them.
Beth tapped Andie on the shoulder restlessly before glancing around to make sure no one was watching or listening. Andie turned to her and immediately her face turned cloudy as she saw Beth’s expression. James knew he shouldn’t be eavesdropping, but found himself leaning in anyway.
James could just make out what Beth whispered. “Andie, you’ve got to come to the Hospital Wing with me right now. It’s Calla.”
James nearly fell out of his chair.
It felt like a heavy weight was pressing down on her. She twisted her head and blinked groggily. The ceiling of the Hospital Wing came into focus. Calla frowned. What in the name of Merlin was she doing here? Her brain slowly tried to catch up with the rest of her body.
Then it all came crashing back.
Karen Ambs had attacked her. Ambs had cornered her and performed the Cruciatus Curse on her. The pain came flooding back. Calla sat up in a rush, slamming her head on the headboard and cursing under her breath as she did. She glanced frantically around.
Hatred pulsed through her for a moment before she realised how irrational it was. She had blamed James. For just a brief second she had blamed James for everything that happened, but it wasn’t his fault. Her troubles had begun much before she’d given James Potter a second glance.
What had happened after she’d passed out? She remembered with a flash and the beginnings of a migraine that someone had rescued her. Someone had Stunned Ambs and stopped the pain. But who?
Her eyes fell on a body sitting in a chair next to her. He was a gangly boy with sandy, perfectly styled, blond hair and square glasses. Calla thought he might be a sixth year as she didn’t remember him from any of her classes and he didn’t look younger than Rose or Al. He was wearing a Slytherin uniform with a purple scarf wrapped around his neck and seemed to be intently reading a copy of Witch Weekly. He looked up and saw her staring at him.
“Ah, she’s awake,” the boy said, grinning at her and throwing magazine onto the bedside table.
“Er... Hello?” she asked hesitantly.
“Sam Samuels,” the boy said, extending his hand for her to shake. She took it tentatively.
“You’ve got a barmy name,” she said before she could stop herself. Calla cut herself off before she could say something else stupid and felt her hair go red. “Sorry,” she mumbled.
Thankfully, he didn’t mind. “It’s fine- I know my name’s rubbish. My parents are nutters,” Sam said brightly, leaning back in his chair.
“I’m Calla-” she began.
“Oh I think everyone knows who you are, Miss Matthews,” Sam cut off cheerfully.
“Fantastic,” Calla muttered before a thought crossed her mind. “Why are you here?” she asked somewhat rudely.
“Don’t you remember?” he asked, laughing. Calla was beginning to realise why he was in Slytherin. He was nice enough, but he knew how to make you feel inferior, stupid even. Sam surveyed her. “No, I suppose you wouldn’t. You were nearly unconscious when I found you.” Then it all came back in a rush. His voice sounded familiar... He- “I’m the fantastical bloke that rescued you!”
He laughed as he spread his arms wide open to present himself. He smiled winningly at Calla. She couldn’t help grinning back. She just might like this boy...
“Well thanks,” Calla said, laughing a little at him and finding it ironic that a Slytherin had saved her. The most likely candidate would have been James.
“Nah, don’t mention it. I’ve always hated Ambs, anyway. She gives Slytherins a bad name. We’re actually extremely pleasant people. Almost as nice as Hufflepuffs!” Sam said, his eyes twinkling. Calla laughed more heartily, wincing slightly. Her ribs were sore. In fact, she’d just noticed her entire body was sore.
“Well, I doubt every Slytherin is nice,” Calla pointed out.
“Well, I doubt every Gryffindor is brave,” Sam said, raising his eyebrows sarcastically at her.
“Touché,” Calla said, laughing again. She’d laughed more with Sam Samuels than she had in a while.
“So I supposed you’d like to know what happened to Ambs?” Sam asked, eyeing her. Calla’s laugh stopped short and she and Sam had a brief stare off. Did she want to know what had happened to Ambs? How she’d been punished. Or would Calla think it wasn’t a good enough punishment, no matter what it was?
“Let me guess, detention for the rest of the school year?” Calla asked, suddenly tired and leaning back into the bed.
“Actually, no, she was expelled,” Sam said simply, mimicking Calla and reclining in his chair.
“What?” Calla exclaimed, her blood suddenly pumping. Ambs? Expelled? It was like a gray veil had uncovered the sun! If only Martin would be expelled. Then life would be perfect...
“Yeah, Flitwick’s a lot less lenient than Dumbledore was. When students use Unforgiveable Curses they tend to get expelled,” Sam laughed. Calla grimaced. How in the world did this boy manage to make everything funny?
“Yes, I supposed they do...” Calla trailed off, looking hard at Sam. “They didn’t do an investigation or anything? No one has asked me any questions. Don’t they usually do that?”
“They didn’t need to. After I’d dropped you off at the Hospital Wing, I carted Ambs off to Flitwick’s office. She admitted everything, sounded a bit mad when she did it too, laughing hysterically,” Sam answered.
“Well she’s more than a bit mad...” Calla mumbled, causing Sam to grin. She looked at him curiously. “By the way, how did you find me?”
“Oh, I was just wandering the corridors, looking for inspiration-”
“Inspiration?” Calla interrupted, creasing her eyebrows as she stared at him.
“I’m an artist,” Sam said. “And the castle provides a lot of... inspiration.” He grinned at her.
Calla smiled slightly to herself. “Yeah, I suppose it does.”
A not-so-awkward silence ensued and it continued until Sam, standing up and stretching and grabbing his copy of Witch Weekly, broke it. “Well, Miss Matthews, I’d best be going. I have friends besides you, you know,” he said and, ruffling her hair, Sam swaggered out of the Hospital Wing.
“’Bye, Sam!” Calla called after him, laughing.
“See you around, Matthews! I might come visit you again, but don’t count on it!” Sam answered, waving his hand behind him as he left.
For some reason, Calla was still laughing when Madam Pomfrey came out of her office, having finally realised that her only patient was awake.
“Oh goodness! Has that horrible boy gone? Thank Merlin! I thought he’d never leave. I told him that he couldn’t be in here. She needs rest, I said! Rest! But did he listen? No! Dear goodness, girl, why are you laughing? Hold still,” Madam Pomfrey said in a flustered voice, hovering around Calla, checking her temperature, and feeding various potions down her throat.
Calla just continued to snigger hysterically.
A/N: As of June 21st, 2012, I officially finished writing Stronger. Don’t worry, there’s still more chapters to publish, but I’ve finished the writing process. It’s really bittersweet because Calla’s been in my head for almost 2 years. But it does feels nice to have finished a story with more than five thousand words ;) Thank you, all of you, for reading and reviewing! I hope you enjoy the final chapters.
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