Chapter 11 : The Aftermath
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I pushed my breakfast around my plate. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but my brothers would never leave me alone if I didn’t at least attempt to eat. It’s been three weeks since I broke up with James. Did it really constitute as a “break up”? I mean we weren’t even dating. It was fake. Even up until the end. All those afternoons spent tucked away in some abandoned corner of Hogwarts had meant nothing to him.
I took a shameful glance over my shoulder and saw James sitting next to Rebecca at the Hufflepuff table. Rebecca talked animatedly while James looked, in a sense, miserable. That made me feel a little better. I went back to poking my breakfast with my fork.
"Yay! Easter holiday!” Rose sang as she sat down next to me. “I think this is the first time we’re all coming home for the break!”
I had just decided to take a bite of eggs and found myself choking, “Does that mean James is coming home, too?” I asked between desperate gasps for air. Rose nodded, looking alarmed. “But why? He always stays here! I mean, isn’t Rebecca staying here for the break?” I asked frantically.
Rose looked unsure of how to answer my hysterical questions. “Um, she is but James said something about wanting to go home for his seventh year.”
I shook my head. “I have to find McGonagall and beg her to let me stay for Easter holiday!”
I stood up, desperately looking for the woman in question. Rose grabbed my shoulders and pulled me back down onto the hard bench. “Beth, it’s too late. We’re leaving on the train in a few minutes. Besides, I thought you wanted to go home. It was gonna be your chance for a little r and r. You were going to forget about James and become stronger!” Rose pumped her fists in the air for extra emphasis.
I nodded, pretending that what she said made sense. Wow, for a girl who had inherited Hermione Weasley’s brains, she was really missing the big picture. “Excellent argument, Rose. But let me ask you something. How am I supposed to get over James, when the bloke lives right next door?” I kept my voice serious, making the sarcasm behind it even harsher.
Rose’s triumphant grin fell. “Oh… right.”
I abandoned my eggs and grabbed my trunk, which I had placed next to me. Rose did the same and we headed out of the hall and out towards the carriages. Rose looked amongst the crowd of students also heading towards the carriages. “Is Cal staying here?”
"Yeah. He didn’t feel like going home, and he didn’t want to come home with me and listening to me complain about James for the entire holiday. He also figured that he could keep working on our polyjuice potion and finish it early. “ He also knew Rebecca was staying for the break. We had both fallen into a slump after love punched us in the heart. Unlike me, however, Cal hadn’t given up. I admire the kid for his optimism.
"Oh! That’s a good idea! Why didn’t I think to stay here and do that?” Rose huffed, sending her fiery fringe flying.
I shrugged, “You’re slipping up Rose.”
Rose’s eyes widened. “Do you really think so?”
"No. Merlin. Freak out much?” I laughed.
We crammed into a carriage with Lily and Hugo and endured the uncomfortable rocking sensation all the way down to the train. Once there, everyone filed out. I got out last and tried to get my trunk. However, unlike me, my trunk did not want to leave the carriage and proceeded to cling onto the rack with all its might.
I gave an annoyed huff and turned to ask Rose for help, but she had already run off to find Scorpious. Lily and Hugo were gone as well, leaving me alone to fend for myself. “Fracking fantastic!” I gave the trunk one last heave and it came loose. I fell back hard onto my arse and my trunk tumbled after me.
I yelped and rubbed my soar backside. Someone laughed from behind me. “Wotcher, Beth!” My heart stopped and I completely froze. Which was kind of unfortunate because my hand was still on my rear. Great, now it looks like I’m groping myself.
I mustered all of my hate, all of my anger, and all of my resentment into one incredible glare and directed it at the person behind me. Unfortunately, the person behind was not who I was expecting.
Al looked terrified and pushed Amy behind him. “Don’t look it in the eyes, it can smell fear.” Al stage whispered to Amy.
She snorted. “You’re the one with a sweating palm.”
Al spluttered for a moment before managing a, “That’s not the point!”
"Sorry,” I mumbled and stood up. “I thought you were someone else.”
"Let me guess, James?” Amy smirked from over Al’s shoulder.
I shrugged. “I was hoping that glare would scare him.”
Amy giggled. “Well it scared Al-“
"Did not!” Al cut across.
I smirked and dragged my trunk and soar butt on the train. Amy, Al and I quickly found Rose, Scorp, and my brothers, which was good because the train was filling up fast. I shoved my stupid trunk up onto the rack and squeezed in between Erik and Adam, feeling safe and tucked away from the world.
Adam placed a hand on my knee. “How are you feeling?”
I gave a small grin. “Honestly, not too hot.” I placed my head on Erik’s shoulder. “But I’m glad I have you two to look out for me.”
I felt Erik and Adam stiffen. I snuck a glance at Erik, who passed a secret twin message to Adam, who removed his hand from my leg. Before I had a chance to question it, the door slid open and everyone looked up.
James froze in the doorway, eyes locked on me. I tried to reenact the glare I had done earlier, but I’m afraid I didn’t do it justice a second time. I stood up and made sure to shove James with my shoulder before slamming the door shut behind me.
Cold fingers gripped my heart and gut when I walked into the compartment and saw Beth. Her cute little grin turned into a deadly glare that punched my ego in the face. I thought Beth might be the bigger person and find it in her heart to forgive me for my arse hole move. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
The cold fingers ripped down my chest when Beth shoved passed me out of the compartment. I jumped as the door slammed behind me, and looked at everyone else inside.
"Well,” My little brother broke the heavy silence awkwardly. “Easter holiday’s should be fun, yeah?”
I moaned and sat next to Rose who pushed Scropious over to make room. I laid my head against the seat and closed my eyes. Beth’s angry glare was burned beneath my lids. “I should have known I couldn’t change you.”
Come on, Beth! Couldn’t you see that I’m miserable with Rebecca? Rebecca… speaking of Rebecca she’s been acting weird. In fact, our whole relationship has been weird. She keeps looking at me with this knowing gaze. But that couldn’t be right, the only people who know about my arse hole move are my two “mates” and me.
Some best mates. Adam was being a total prat and Eric wasn’t acting much better. I mean I get why they’re upset. I would murder any bloke with a reputation like mine who tried to get to Lily. It’s a big brother thing. But couldn’t they see I only had eyes for Beth now? No, I had to prove myself with this completely mental trial shit. Then again, I’m the stupid one for going along with this plan. I regret my decision everyday.
That reminds me, it’s been three weeks. Does that mean I can go back to dating Beth? I mean Beth probably won’t take me back any time soon… or at all. I usually find myself wondering how I could have made this situation better. Maybe I could have told Beth about what her brothers were making me do, and we could have been in on it together. But then Beth would be mad at her brothers, and I don’t want that. Plus, Adam would go off on a tantrum if he found out about it. Let’s face it Beth isn’t the best at lying and wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I’m surprised she was able to pull my other plan off.
Maybe if I explained the situation she’d understand. Yeah, that would go well. “Hey, Beth, the truth is your mental brothers made me do this test run thing before they let me date you. Funny, huh?” That would earn me another painful punch in the face.
I wish I wasn’t such a ninny and had the courage to tell Beth how I really feel. That I stare at her every chance I get, that I walk into the great hall and look for blond hair not brown. My heart squeezes in my chest, my palms get sweaty, and my throat goes dry whenever I see her and it scares me. I’ve never felt this around a girl, and especially not Beth.
She was always Bethany Heart, the girl who lives next door and my child hood friend. She was never supposed to be Bethany Heart, girl who can’t get out of my mind. I mean, Merlin! I can’t get the image of her from Hogsmeade out of my head. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
I knew Beth had curves, but I didn’t know she had curves like that. She looked so beautiful… so perfect. She was like a flower, so pure and- Merlin! I’m turning into Al! Which is only a slightly more masculine version of a poof. Just take my man card now. Once you start comparing girls to flowers and talking all poetic and shit you lose what little testosterone you have left.
But in all reality, Beth did look extremely hot. And just like that, I knew I was a goner. I knew that Beth had become my drug, and I had no hope left of recovering. But I didn’t want to recover. I didn’t mind being on this high. It was exhilarating, and freeing, and- see there I go again! Damn it, Al! I’ve been spending too much time around you and Amy. I’m catching your disease. It sickens me. Heh, pun.
I subconsciously rubbed the tender spot on my chin where Beth’s fist had made contact with my jaw. Despite everything, I found myself grinning. There aren’t many girls who would punch a guy. Then again, there aren’t many girls who would go along with my insane plans willingly. There aren’t many girls who can hold back a two hundred pound beater. There aren’t a lot of girls as awesome as Beth, and I’ll be damned if I let her go without a fight.
* * * * *
The train jolted to a halt and I opened my eyes. I had spent the whole trip pretending to sleep. I didn’t really feel like talking to my family, I mean I’m going to have to spend the whole bloody holiday with them. The two people I want to talk to are Adam and Erik, but I can’t talk to them in front of everyone else. I needed to get them alone, so I spent my whole trip thinking about how I was going to approach the situation.
This needs to be done carefully, taking into consideration Adam’s anger. The whole situation was delicate. I waited until everyone else had left the compartment, leaving Erik, Adam, and I alone. I opened my eyes and slammed my foot on the other side of the compartment door, effectively cutting off my best mates. “We need to talk.” I growled. Yeah, I know I said I was going to approach the situation carefully, so sue me. I’m a hypocrite.
Erik nodded, “I expected as much.” He obediently sat down on the bench across from me.
Adam however clenched his jaw and remained standing. “What’s the trouble mate?”
"You know very well what the trouble is.” I spat through gritted teeth.
"Fine.” Adam grabbed the door and banged it shut with such forced that I flinched. I lowered my foot once he had taken a seat next to his brother.
"When can this stupid trial period be over?” I asked out right.
"I still think it needs a few more weeks.” Adam answered immediately.
"What?” I yelled. “I’ve done everything you’ve asked! I’ve broken your little sister’s heart, I’ve made her hate me, and I’ve gone out with Rebecca for three weeks. Doesn’t that count for something?”
"No.” Adam spoke without hesitation.
Erik on the other hand looked confused. “Adam, you’re being unfair. First of all, you’re suggestion was ludicrous. I only went along with it because you’d bitch about it if you didn’t get your way. James has gone along with this ridiculous trial run and completed it. It’s only fair if we let him break up with Rebecca and help him get back together with Beth.”
"Fine, he kept his end of the deal, whatever. You can go back to shagging my sister now, but don’t expect me to help you get her back,” Adam growled. He left the compartment, once again slamming the door so hard that the glass rattled in its frame.
I stared after him. Would he hate me forever? It sure seemed like it with the way he kept slamming doors and trying to punch me in the face. Erik seemed to read my mind. “Hey,” He kicked my shin with his foot to get my attention. “Don’t worry about it. He can be a dick sometimes. He’ll get over this.”
The corner of my mouth rose in an almost smile. “Thanks, but even with this matter settled there’s still little to no chance that Beth will take me back.”
Erik grinned, “No, she’ll take you back.”
"How can you be so sure?”
"A. Because I know she’s miserable. B. Because I’m going to help you. And C. She’s fancied you ever since third year. I doubt she’s going to stop now. My sister may be stubborn but she’ll come around eventually… I think.” Erik added at the end.
I nodded, “Thanks for the vote of confidence, mate.”
"Hey, what are friends for?” He clapped me on the back and we left the compartment.
"Fracking Fantastic!” I had pulled my trunk off the train where it had fallen open at my feet. I had frantically grabbed my more embarrassing articles of clothing: my bras, my undies, my hello kitty pajama pants you know, that stuff. I sat on the lid and tried with little avail to lock it shut.
"Having some trouble there, Beth?”
I knew the voice well, and on any other occasion, would have welcomed the owner with loving and open arms. However, today was a different story. I was angry, I was frustrated, and had shown my hello kitty pj’s to the entire world.
"Mark my words Harry, the day I turn seventeen, BAM! Magic everywhere and all the time. And I’m not talking about little things. No I mean big things. Pow, pow, pow!” I jabbed my fingers in the air in accordance with the pow’s. “No more manual this or by hands that. Magic 24/7 I tell you! In fact, my seventeenth birthday will be huge and for magic users only!” I finished, probably looking slightly deranged.
Harry nodded his head, giving me that look that most people give me when I’m going mental. “Remind me to stay away from that party.”
I placed my hand over my heart, “But Mr. Potter, you’re the guest of honor. I was going to give you a thrown and everything.”
Harry placed a finger on his chin in mock thought, “A tempting offer, but I’m going to have to pass.”
I nodded, “Another time then, yes.”
Harry chuckled and locked my trunk with a wave of his wand. He took my hands, helped me stand, and gave me a hug. “How was the train ride?”
"Oh, just swell. Hanging out with a bunch of sniveling first years really puts a skip in my step!” I gave an eccentric thumbs up.
Harry furrowed his brow, “Wait, first years? Why didn’t you sit with everyone else?”
"Oh, well you see,” I scratched the back of my head, “It was kinda crowded… and-“
"And James was there?” Harry finished knowingly.
I nodded, “Yep… yeah there was that.”
"I don’t understand. I thought you two were becoming friends again.”
"We were! We were!” I interjected hastily. I did not want Harry to know the real reason I was mad at James. It would be beyond humiliating to talk about my non-relationship with him. “But you know, friends have ups and downs… and currently James and I are on a downward spiral.” I said the last part quickly in hopes that he wouldn’t hear me. “No biggie.”
Unfortunately he did hear me and gave a heavy sigh, “What did James do this time?”
"Um… see that’s kind of a long story.” I bit my lip and began to play with my nails.
Harry nodded, but didn’t press any further. He helped me carry my trunk over to my parents, who were waiting not too far away. My dad greeted me with the same large grin as always and pulled me into a gargantuan hug, effectively pulling me off my feet.
"How’s my baby girl?” He asked.
"Can’t…. breath!” I gasped. He placed me down and rustled my hair. “Hey, hands off!” I said, smoothing my head. “That takes five beauty spells in the morning.”
"Oh,” My father held up his hands. “My apologies your majesty. I hope I did not offend you.” He gave a low bow.
I huffed dramatically, “Well, you are of some use to me, so I suppose I will spare you this once.”
"Always the drama queen.” My mum said with a warm smile. She placed a kiss on my forehead and pulled me into a much-needed hug. I wanted to stay in my mummy’s arms for an eternity. Nothing bad could happen to me here, or that’s the way it feels anyway.
But alas, I am in King’s Cross station and I am getting some strange glances from my classmates. Ah screw it. I haven’t seen my mum all term. I’m milking this hug for all it’s worth. My mum gave me one last tight squeeze and then went to hug my brothers who had decided to grace us with their presence.
The rest of the Potter clan came walking up. I looked around for Rose and Hugo, but they must have already left.
"Ron picked them up the moment they stepped off the train.” Harry explained, seeing my confused look. “He saw Draco pick up Scorpious and wanted to get out fast.”
"We should get going, too.” My father came up behind me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Yeah, come on you lot!” Harry called to the rest of us.
Since we’re next-door neighbors, the Potters and the Hearts have always gone to the train station together and left the train station together. Normally this is cause for celebration. More time with my friends, yay! Only today, it’s something to dread. A whole car ride home with James- boo.
We all headed for the magically expanding car. This was nice for two reasons. Reason one, all nine of us fit into a tiny car comfortably. Reason two, I can be as far away from James as possible. I quickly ran up to the car, hoping to squeeze in after Lily, but Erik raced me to the car and got there first.
"Erik, get out of my seat.” I said forcefully
"Nope. You snooze you lose.” Erik grinned like a little boy from the seat of the car. He then turned to Lily, “How are you Miss Lily?”
"Oh you know, the usual. People fighting to sit next to me and what not. It’s all apart of the every day life for Lily Potter.” She flipped her hair back with her hand.
"It must be so hard to be so wildly popular.” Erik said with mock sympathy.
"Oh, you have no idea.” Lily shook her head.
"Erik!” I snapped. “I’ll give you till the count of three to get out of my seat.”
Erik pretended to consider the idea. “And if I don’t?”
I took a sturdier stance and stood up to my full height. “Do you really want to find out?”
"Bethany stop threatening your brother.” My mother said as she approached the car.
"So, what? I don’t have the freedom to threaten my own flesh and blood? Is this not America?”
"No, it’s not! It’s Britain!” My mother said exasperated.
"Well, we should really move there so I can get some rights.” I argued back.
"I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to threaten someone over there too, love.” Harry grinned and got into the driver side.
"Bethany, just get in the car next to James.” My father said before getting in the expanded front seat.
I froze, next to whom? I turned and found a smirking James sitting next to Erik. Bloody perfect. He must have snuck in when I wasn’t paying attention. I stared James down, threatening him to crack a joke. The moment he did I would be all over him… in a bad way. Not in the I’m-going-to-snog-him way. Although, there was a side of me that still thought like that. Bad, Beth, bad! Don’t fall for this again!
"Beth, let’s go!” My mother commanded from the front seat.
I sighed and slid in next to James, making sure to keep a suitable amount of space between us. I leaned against the car window for most of the trip, half- heartedly listening to the idle chitchat going on in the car. Harry asked Al about Amy, Mum and Dad asked my brothers about seventh year, Harry made sure Al was keeping Lily single, and my parents asked my brothers if I was “playing nice” with the other kids. Their answer was no by the way. Which insulted me because I thought I had been playing very nice with others.
While the rest of the car was absorbed in small talk, James turned to me. “So, how have you been?” He asked awkwardly. I turned and looked out the window. He sighed, frustrated. “You can’t keep ignoring me forever, Beth. We live next door to each other.”
"Yeah? Well I can sure as hell try.” I bit back.
James ran a hand through his hair. “God, can’t we talk about what happened?”
I turned to look at James with sarcastic innocence painted on my face. “You mean about how you ripped out my still beating heart and dropped it off the Astronomy tower?”
James gave a feeble chuckle, “Well, when you say it like that it sounds like a bad thing.”
I clenched my fist. It took all of my will power not to punch him in the nose.
James quickly shook his head, “God, bad joke.”
I gave a dry laugh, “Way to perfectly sum up our relationship,” I whispered harshly before turning back towards the window.
James sighed sadly and sunk lower into his seat. Okay Beth, we have a new, new, new plan. Avoid James at all cost this holiday. That shouldn’t be that hard. Just stay cooped up in your room and insist that Al come to your house. Yeah, just avoid going over to the Potter’s all together.
Now if I could just tell my aching heart that this is for the best.
A lot of you were upset with James after the last chapter (understandably so). I hope you have a little more sympathy for him now (and if not that's okay too). =) I also hope this explains some of the questions people have been asking.
As always, I love comments! Tell me what you think about James. Do you think Beth should just ignore him forever? Do you think Adam should go fall off a cliff? I wouldn't disagree with you there. =P
Until next time my lovelies!
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