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And All That Jazz by ShieldSnitch3
Chapter 19 : Realizations, Daydreams, And All That Jazz
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 21


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Realizations, Daydreams, And All That Jazz



He’s gone.

That’s the first thought that runs through my head when I wake up. He left me alone. Again. I guess I knew he was going to - he told me as much - but there was a small part of me clinging to the idea that maybe he wouldn’t go. Maybe he would stay with me.

But that was wishful thinking.

And as soon as I realize that he’s gone, that same anguish as last night goes spinning right through me, shattering my heart. But this time I don’t even hold back. James isn’t here to see me, so I let it all go - let the tears stream down my face and the sobs rush straight through my body.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt something like this before. Now I know what my mom meant about being heartbroken - a hurt that’s so paralyzing you can’t even move, can’t even think. The only thing left in your consciousness is that pain and that person, and nothing makes it go away.

And then I’m up on my feet, pacing around the room, a complete mess, pulling my fingers back and back and back through my hair, but nothing works. It’s hard to breathe and my eyes burn and everything’s a wreck and I think the world is crashing down around me.

There’s the creak of the door being opened, and a wild hope beats through my chest - maybe it’s him. Maybe he’s come back. And for a second, just one second, all the pain is gone. But then I turn around and it isn’t James standing there, and the hurt goes crashing back through me.

It’s not James.

That’s the only thought that I can hold onto. Who it is doesn’t even register until her arms are around me, blonde hair mixing in with mine, making it unclear where I start and she begins.

It’s Dom.

And she’s saying something to me, but I can’t hear her because all I can hear is James but James isn’t here and why isn’t he here and I don’t understand anything anymore -

This isn’t the same. This isn’t the same as the first time he left. Because that time I had something else to focus on; I had Alex to keep me from losing my mind. But this time I have nothing. Nothing to keep me planted on the ground. Nothing to keep me from feeling everything.

“What happened? Sweetie, tell me what happened. Tell me what’s going on.”

“He - he - he left,” I gasp out.

“Who? Who left?”

“J- Ja-” But I can’t say his name. It gets caught in my throat, stuck and unwilling to move out.

“My cousin?” she asks softly, and I nod against her shoulder, not trusting myself to answer. “Oh, Ary. You love him, don’t you?”

And she says it with such authority that I don’t even bother to deny it, but just stand there as it all crashes down again, tears burning a stinging path down my cheeks. She knows. She has to know. I can’t begin to understand what brought her to that conclusion, but she knows.

“How did you -”

“You wouldn’t be this upset if you didn’t.” Again, it’s with such confidence that the thought of lying to her doesn’t even cross my mind. All I care about is getting her back, because God knows that I need her right now, more than ever.

“Dom - I - I’m sorry about - about the thing with Jett - I -”

“No, don’t apologize. I’m the one who should be sorry. Jett told Connor what really happened and Connor told me and - I’m so sorry, Ary. But - but - Connor was so furious with you when it happened, and I thought - I thought that if I stayed with you he would leave me.” She finishes quietly, shame creeping into her voice as I pull away from her hug.

“It’s okay,” I say softly, and it really is.

She shakes her head in disagreement, squeezing her lips together in a tight line. “It’s not okay. I was a horrible friend. I was selfish. I am selfish. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him, and I turned my back on you when you needed me. I’m sorry, and I know that it doesn’t mean much now, but take it for what it’s worth.”

“I’m just happy to have my best friend back,” I say, sending her a grateful smile and wiping away the rest of my tears. “All is forgiven.”

Dom squeals in her trademark Dominique fashion and throws her arms roughly around me again, nearly squeezing the life out of me. “I just need to book the pitch for my team, then we can go up to breakfast together, okay?” she says before releasing me from her death grip.

I nod, breathe in deeply, and glance up at the clock as she shuffles around the room looking for the sign up sheet. It’s eight in the morning, and also a Tuesday, which means I have to be ready for class by nine. I can either skip breakfast and go clean myself up, or I can walk around all day looking like a complete mess.

Normally I would say skip breakfast. Because let’s be honest - I look awful. My hair is all tangled up and sticking out everywhere, my lip has a cut from biting down on it so hard, and I have dark, swollen circles due to lack of sleep beneath my bloodshot eyes. And to make matters worse, I slept in my clothes last night, so they’re all wrinkled and messed up. Sacrificing one meal to not look like a zombie sounds pretty appealing right now.

But then I remember what happened last night and I realize that I can’t go with option one. Despite the fact that I’m not really hungry, my legs are wobbly and my hands are shaking, which, according to James, is because I haven’t been eating enough. And I really don’t want to pass out. So eating would probably be a good thing.

Dom follows my gaze up to the clock and seems to follow my train of thought, as she smiles sympathetically and says, “It’ll be fine. I’m sure you could get Al and Lou to pick up your stuff from your dorm - oh, and by the way, I’m supposed to tell you to stop being such a prat and come and sit with them again. They want you to stop avoiding them.”

And with that, Dom swings her bag over her shoulder and shoves open the door to the office, gesturing at me to follow her outside. I do as directed, and as I step foot onto the grassy Hogwarts grounds, I’m nearly blinded by the bright wintry sunlight.

“I thought - I thought they wouldn’t want anything to do with me -”

“Please. Those two couldn’t care less about any rumors or social statuses. They’re the most oblivious people I know. Honestly, the only reason they haven’t been talking to you is because you’ve been isolating yourself.”

“Oh - really?”

“Yeah. If you would have bothered to try and talk to them after it happened, you would know that.”

We walk in silence the rest of the way up to the castle, the frigid February air nipping at our heels and whipping our hair all over the place. Once we push open the castle doors and step inside, Dom pulls out her wand and mutters a few quick charms - one to brush our hair and one to iron out my clothes - and we step inside the Great Hall together.

“I’m going to go and eat at my table, but I’ll save you a seat in Charms, yeah?” Dom inquires cheerfully. I nod my head in agreement and she bounces off to the Slytherin table, calling back over her shoulder, “Sit with the boys!”

My eyes scan along the Ravenclaw table and I immediately spot Al and Louis in their usual spot, Al munching serenely on a piece of toast and Louis staring intently at his History of Magic book.

Yeah. I know. History of Magic.

As I walk towards them, it feels like a thousand bombs are exploding in my stomach. I think I’m going to be sick. Maybe it’s nervousness, or maybe I really just haven’t eaten enough lately - I honestly can’t tell you.

“Er... hi.”

Louis and Al both snap their heads up to look at me right away, but neither say anything. They just... stare. And it’s really unnerving.

“She speaks,” Louis quips suddenly, and the tension is broken.

“Well, don’t just stand there. Take a seat,” Al says before digging back into his toast.

And just like that, things go back to normal. They don’t ask me to explain, don’t look at me like I’m going to sprout an extra head at any moment. It’s just the three of us, back to the way it was before.

I sit down across the table from Albus, and as I do so, I feel another wave of pain as I realize just how much he looks like his brother. From a distance they could probably pass as the same person.

Speaking of his brother, just over Al’s shoulder I can see the Gryffindor table, and in their usual seats sit the four Gryffie boys, back together again. James is sitting slightly apart from them, but he’s still next to his best friend, and that’s all that matters. He looks dead tired, like he’s ready to collapse from exhaustion at any moment, but at the same time - at the same time he looks almost... happy.

I guess happy really isn’t the right word for it. Or maybe it is. Truth is, I can’t really read the expression on his face. The corners of his mouth are quirking up slightly in a half-smile, but it’s like he’s not really all there. Like something’s missing.

And then his eyes catch mine.

I can’t really explain what happens - I guess it’s nothing, come to think of it, just our gazes meeting - but I feel as if the entire world has shifted on its axis. Not because he’s staying away from me now, not because my life is finally starting to turn around - I just -

I love him.

It’s a simple thought, really, and certainly one that I knew before. But it’s different this time - there’s a whole new realization striking me, even though it’s the same three words.

This is real.

That’s the thing I realize. This isn’t hormone driven or a stupid teenage crush. It’s love. Real love.

I could sit here all day and list every thing that’s wrong with him. His temper. His stubbornness. His recklessness. His arrogance.

He’s not perfect. He’s just perfect for me.

That’s how I fell for him when I was with someone else. And that’s how he fell for me. We’re perfect for each other - it’s so glaringly obvious.

It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it? How two people can be so different, and yet so very alike. And maybe I’ll never fully understand it, but I do understand that it’s one of the reasons why I love him.

Just one, because there are so many more.

But then James looks away, eyes angling down towards his untouched breakfast. I watch as Jett says something, and James laughs as he passes the jam down to his best friend. And as much as I’m hurting right now, that kind of makes it all worth it.

“Eat something,” Al comments, and I jerk my eyes away from the Gryffindor table.

At the very top of my peripheral vision, I vaguely make out James looking in my direction, so I spoon a bit of eggs onto my plate and grab some of the toast that Al’s been so contentedly munching on.

As I bring the piece of toast up to my mouth, James and I lock gazes again. I bite into the toast and immediately he looks away, apparently satisfied that I’m eating.

I eat the rest of my toast in silence, take one bite of my eggs, swallow a bit of orange juice, and realize that I’m completely full before five minutes are up. I don’t think I could eat more if I tried - but at least it’s more than I’ve been eating lately. And that’s good. I think.

The workings of a headache begin to wriggle their way into my skull as I wait quietly at the Ravenclaw table for breakfast to adjourn, or at least for my classmates to start making their way to Charms. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt a bit weird being the first one to class. Makes me feel awkward.

And then I realize that I still haven’t got my books for class, so I excuse myself from the table and half walk, half jog back to Ravenclaw Tower to grab my things before Charms starts. I thought I wouldn’t have enough time, but since my meal was so short...

Why our dorm had to be way on the other side of the school, though, is beyond me. Honestly. It’s no wonder I’ve lost so much weight this year.

One Ravenclaw riddle and a marathon later, I find myself skidding to a halt outside the Charms room, panting slightly but still remarkably early for class. Dom waves happily at me as I enter the room, my headache now in full-blown throbbing mode. I make an attempt to smile sincerely at her - it’s rather hard when you feel like your head’s about to split open - and drop into the seat beside her heavily.

And then she starts to talk.

...a lot.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m happy to have Dom back as a friend, I really am - but I think that my cranium is about to burst at any moment, and her incessant chatter is really not helping things. But I don’t have it in me to tell her to shut up, seeing as we’ve just made up and all, so I just sit there with my pounding skull and try to tune out the hyperactive squeak that keeps rattling around in my ears.

Relief eventually comes in the form of Connor - finally he’s useful for something (I’m still holding a grudge about that trunk business on the train) - so instead of monologuing to me, Dom turns to making out with him.

Urgh.

My head. It hurts.

I drop my head onto the top of the desk and press the cool, wooden surface against it, trying in vain to will the headache away as the pain throbs and burns beneath my skin.

Needless to say, it doesn’t work.

You know, Wizard God really hates me. It’s not enough that my heart is broken - no, he has to make my head crack open, too.

“Sleepy much?” Jett teases as drops into the seat behind me.

I press my palms onto the desk and lift my head up, swiveling around slowly so I can look at him. He grins at me, eyes bright and happy, and smacks his Charms textbook down on his desk with a very loud bang.

I’m going to kill that boy.

“Didn’t you sleep well last night?” he inquires sincerely, just as James drops into the seat beside him.

“I -I -” But I can’t manage to say anything. All I can do is look at James, who has a strange, almost anxious, expression on his face. “I - no, I only got a few hours of sleep. And I have a massive headache.”

“Oh.” Jett nods in understanding, and James glances away, expression erased to one of indifference.

Great. Now I feel awkward.

Why is this awkward?

This shouldn’t be awkward, should it?

MY BRAIN IS TIRED.

See? This is what happens when stupid James has to go and distract me for half the night - well, it was a rather pleasant distraction, I suppose -

This is all his fault.

Stupid, stupid James.

“Aria,” Jett hisses from behind me. I turn around in my chair once more to look at him questioningly, and he responds by nodding at the game of tonsil hockey going on between Connor and Dom right next to me. “Come sit up here.”

“No, it’s okay -”

“Really. You can take Connor’s usual seat.”

I glance hesitantly at the open seat, then grab my bag and move a row up, swinging into the open seat besides James so he’s sandwiched between Jett and I. Oh, the irony.

Jett leans forward on his elbow and glances down towards me, a grin on his face. “See? Now you have a much better view.”

I roll my eyes and duck my head into my bag, digging my Charms textbook out of it. “I hate to break it to you, but I can still see Connor and Dom from here.”

“Not exactly what I was talking about.”

“Trust me, I know. And that view isn’t that great, either.”

Jett scowls and I laugh before settling back in my chair. James, however, does not look amused in the least by our antics. And before I can even process what’s going on, he’s pushing out of his chair, swinging his bag over his shoulder, and claiming my recently vacated seat in the row below us.

“Mate, what are you - ”

“So you two can flirt more easily.”

Ouch. That actually hurt. And I know he didn’t mean for it to come off as malicious, but it still hurts. It hurts because not five hours previously we were practically acting like Dom and Connor, and yet here we are now, pretending it never happened. But most of all, it hurts because I know I’m hurting him.

I honestly was not trying to flirt with Jett; I was just being friendly. I have absolutely no intentions of getting back together with him, and I thought I made that clear to James when I asked him if he would wait for me.

Jett shrugs and shifts over one into James’s previous seat so that he’s sitting next to me. I can feel my face flushing from embarrassment, so I busy myself with turning my book to the correct page for today’s lesson.

And it’s not a moment too soon, for just as I reach my bookmark the ever prompt Professor Abberly strolls into class and shuts the door with a bang, silencing the chatter of students.

“Good morning, class,” he calls out cheerfully.

There are a few mumbled “good mornings” back, and without further ado, Abberly strides right up to the podium that sits in the middle of the classroom and begins to preach to us his Charms lesson for the day.

My head, meanwhile, still throbs with pain, which makes it very difficult to listen to Abberly as he blathers on about the use of Charms in the workplace. I just can’t focus. It’s like his words are simply drifting aimlessly around the room, floating and lazing through the air without any purpose.

It’s not really an issue for me, though. Having no friends and thus no life for a solid month and a half means that suddenly you find reading ahead in your textbooks is the best way to spend your time. I think I read this particular lesson two weeks ago, so I figure I can afford to not pay too much attention.

It’s not that I don’t want to - okay, that’s a lie - it’s just that my head is practically splitting open with pain. I think this is the worst headache I’ve ever had... ever.

So instead of at least giving the appearance of absorbing Abberly’s every word in rapt attention, I find my eyes drifting over to the back of James’s head, losing focus in his mess of hair. I’m fairly certain that my eyes are glazing over, and I probably look like a right creep who can’t keep her eyes off him - but hey, what does that matter?

James really is a very attractive guy, but I guess I never noticed before now. I mean, I knew that he was, I just never paid attention to it. He’s... I don’t know how I would describe him. Different.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve dated my fair share of guys. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, I did care about how they looked. I’m not going to lie and say that looks don’t matter to me, because they do. Or they did, at least. Maybe that’s shallow, but back then I wasn’t looking for anything more than that, and those guys weren’t either. But I’ve moved on from that now, right?

“Miss Fields?”

James, though... I really don’t think that there’s anyone to compare him to. There are different types of attractive, I think. Jett, for example, is cute. But I would never ever think to call him sexy, no matter how much he protests. It just doesn’t fit. Ryan, on the other hand, is hot. No, not just hot. Now he is downright sexy. Jett doesn’t hold a candle to him in that department.

But James? I don’t think I could place him in either category. He’s more... handsome. I mean, Ryan and Jett are handsome too, but not in the same way. James is just - I don’t know. He’s a classic sort of handsome. The type that never goes out of style -

“Miss Fields!”

“Aria,” Jett hisses, elbowing me in the side.

The world comes back into focus at Jett’s touch, and I see Professor Abberly staring pointedly at me, one eyebrow raised and foot tapping impatiently against the floor.

“Yes, Professor?” I ask weakly.

“I will repeat myself only once - what is the purpose of the Aguamenti charm?”

“To conjure a stream of water.”

“Correct,” Abberly says primly. “Now Miss Fields, I would appreciate it if you would stop daydreaming about Mr. Potter and pay attention to my lesson.”

There are a couple of poorly disguised laughs around the room as I sink down into my chair, cheeks burning with embarrassment. “Yes, Professor.”

Then Abberly goes back to his preaching, and I feel myself zoning out again. But this time I don’t let my eyes wander to James, no matter how much they want to - and trust me, they want to. Instead I fix my gaze across the room, where a sudden flurry of activity is taking place.

Alex straightens up in his chair, and even from here I can see him smirking at my humiliation. Then a brunette with long hair curled towards the bottom leans over and whispers something to him, her eyes never leaving our group of friends.

And that’s when it hits me. The girl talking to Alex - that’s not just anyone. That’s The Slutty One.

What was her name?

Grace, I think. But I still prefer The Slutty One.

Somehow I don’t think this is going to end well. Alex and The Slutty One together? Now that’s just asking for trouble.

The last few minutes of class drag on for ages, it feels like, because all I can think about is Alex and The Slutty One whispering back and forth. But finally Abberly yells “class dismissed,” and the whole room shifts into synchronized motion. I myself launch directly into shoveling my parchment and books back into my bag, anxious to get away from the embarrassment of that class period.

I would appreciate it if you could stop daydreaming about Mr. Potter -

“Oh, Godric, not her again,” Jett mutters, and I immediately flick my head up from my bag, jerking out of my internal monologue.

“Who?”

“Grace.”

I follow his line of sight to the middle of the classroom, where the girl in question is determinedly striding towards our seats, a glint of ambition in her eyes. She tosses her hair back with a prissy flick of her hand as she reaches us and stops dead in front of James’s desk, eyes traveling over the group of us.

“Hello, friends,” she says brightly, and Jett snorts with derision, not even making an attempt to hide his disdain.

The Slutty One’s fake smile falters a bit, but she fixes it just as quickly and primly presses down her skirt that is way too short to be considered dress code appropriate. Then, with a light laugh to smooth things over, she takes a seat on James’s desk, facing us.

Yes. She took a seat on James’s desk. As in the desk that belongs to James - the desk that belongs to my James.

“Oh, don’t worry,” she begins, swinging her legs back and forth. “There’s just something that James and I need to discuss. The rest of you can carry on with what you were doing.”

Dom and Connor shrug and go back to shoving their things into their bags, but Jett and I are frozen, eyes glued to James and Grace. And I bet that’s exactly what she was going for, anyway.

“So James,” she says loudly, practically begging to be overheard, “this weekend is a Hogsmeade weekend, and I require a brave Gryffindor to accompany me. Would you care to be my noble date?”

“Sorry, Grace, but I wasn’t planning on going,” he replies flatly.

“Oh - okay. But, you know, if you’re ever lonely, I’m always available...” And with that, she hops off his desk and stalks back to her side of the room to collect her belongings.

“Speaking of Hogsmeade,” Jett mutters, running his fingers through his hair nervously, “I was wondering - well - would you - would you like to, you know, go with me?”

This cannot be happening.

“I mean, just as friends! As friends - I - I didn’t mean - I just thought that we needed some time to catch up - I - friends -” And then Jett shuts his mouth with a snap and bangs his head against his desk, face an embarrassingly bright shade of red.

“As friends?” I ask quietly, praying to every deity that friendship is the only thing on his mind.

“Yes!” he exclaims as he sits bolt upright in his chair. “Yes - I mean - yes, as friends.”

“Well, all right, then,” I say, and a bit of relief washes over his face. “I’d be fine with that. But it’s not a date, right?”

“No, no, it’s not a date. Unless,” he gulps, face flushing even more, “unless you want it to be.”

Oh, sweet Merlin.

“I - um - I -”

Every set of eyes in our group of friends is on me, staring unashamedly as I fumble with my words, trying to figure out what to say. This isn’t real, right? He doesn’t actually want to go out with me. No, he can’t - not after everything -

“Uh... we should get to class,” Jett mumbles, and the moment shatters.

Dom and Connor stand up and swing their bags over their shoulders in unison, and I follow suit, stretching out of my chair. By the time I’ve pushed it in and glance back up, James is halfway to the door, walking beside someone with a sluttily short skirt.

I watch on silently, frozen to my spot on the floor as he wraps one arm around her and pushes the door to the classroom open with the other. And even from here, I can hear his words as clearly as if he was standing right beside me.

“So, how about that date?”

And just like that, my heart breaks all over again.



“Hey.”

My head snaps up from my cereal bowl at the softly spoken words, and instantly a twinge of nervousness hits me in the stomach. Jett stares down at me, right hand twisting anxiously with the button on his shirt, eyes wide with anticipation.

“Hi.”

Jett blinks once and clears his throat gruffly. “So - I - er - um - I got this for you.” And then he brings his left hand out from behind his back, holding between his fingers a single red rose. “I - um - James told me you might like it.”

My eyes dart from the flower to Jett, and then behind him to the Gryffindor table. And there James sits, emotionless, staring blankly across the room as The Slutty One rattles off something in his ear.

For a while, I simply sit there, eyes triangulating around in that same path. I’m confused. Why is there a rose on the table in front of me? Why did James tell him to get me one? Then I glance around the Great Hall, and suddenly it all clicks.

Everywhere I look, couples are exchanging gifts. Giving each other kisses. Laughing. Holding hands.

It’s Valentine’s Day. And I didn’t remember.

I told James that I’d never gotten a flower on Valentine’s Day before. And yet here it is, sitting in front of me.

Oh my God.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m going to Hogsmeade with Jett.

No wonder James has been acting so strangely. No wonder he asked out The Slutty One.

There’s no way this is going to look like a “just friends” thing. There’s no way this is going to look like anything other than a date. A romantic date. A romantic date with roses.

“Should we go?”

“What - er - um - I suppose,” I mumble, and glance back up at Jett to find his face flushing to a very Gryffindor shade of red.

“Okay.”


And with that, I stretch out of my seat, and we walk together out of the Great Hall. As we push out of the main doors onto the grounds, the shrill shrieking of the February wind greets us. I shiver, but the numbness in my body is soon forgotten as I spot a pair of figures walking out of the castle behind us. A tall boy with entirely too messy black hair, and a leggy brunette, cuddling up into his side.

She’s laughing much too loudly, his hand is wrapped tightly around her waist, and her body language could not be any clearer. She wants him, and she is going to have him.

“You okay?” Jett asks quietly, and I squeeze my eyes shut tightly to clear my mind.

“Yeah. Fine.”

He smiles lightly at me, but I can tell that he’s not buying it. Hell, not even Fred would buy that, and he’s the most gullible person in the world.

“Cold?”

“A little.”

“Wanna go to the Three Broomsticks?”

“Sure. Thanks for the flower, by the way.”

“No problem.”

And so it goes. This could not possibly get any more awkward. Until suddenly it does, and in the worst possible way.

We’ve just walked into the main square in town, with the Three Broomsticks right in front of us. And right as I’m reaching for the door, Jett stops me. He puts his hand on my arm and spins me around to face him, eyes locking with mine.

“Hey Aria?” he whispers, and I feel my stomach jump into my throat. Something’s going on here.

“Yeah?”

“I - um - I’m sorry. About behaving the way I did. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot and - well, I don’t think that I should have acted so impulsively.”

“What are you getting at?” I ask warily, eyeing him with suspicion. I don’t know what’s going on here, but he’s acting really, really strange. And nervous. Almost like the first time -

“What I’m saying is that I don’t really think I’m over you.”

Dead silence.

I can’t even think.

“I - um - Aria? Are you alive?”

No. He’s not allowed to do this.

I allow myself to nod just once at his question, then go back to staring blankly at his face. His cheeks are flaming red, and he keeps dragging his hand nervously back through his hair, mussing it up and scratching at the back of his neck.

“I mean - er - you’re not over me either, right? Not after I ended things so abruptly -”

He’s rambling now, but I can’t even hear him. All I hear is his message playing loudly in my ears, ringing in my brain, looped in on constant repeat. He thinks I’m not over him.

“So I know that I said this wasn’t a date - um - but I kind of want it to be. Because I kind of want you back.”

“Jett,” I whisper, shaking my head and taking a step back. “I -”


“You still do like me, don’t you? I mean, there’s no real reason for you to be over me, right?”

“I -”

But I can’t get out the words. What am I supposed to tell him? Sorry, I’m in love with your best friend? Sorry, you were never the one I was falling for anyway?

As I stand there with my mouth hanging open, unable to make a sound, I make out the shape of the same two figures as before. They stand out in the middle of the street, just barely visible over Jett’s shoulder. She’s running her fingers slowly up his chest, latching her hands behind his head and staring straight at his lips.

But he’s not looking at her. He’s looking at me, completely oblivious to whatever she's saying to him. And I’m looking at him, completely oblivious to whatever Jett is saying to me.

Why aren’t we together? Why do we always have to get so close to making it there, only to have it get ripped away? Why can’t my life be simple, just for once?

I’ve put up with so much. I’ve put up with getting used, getting played, and getting damaged. I’ve put up moving across the ocean, to a place I don’t know, with people I don’t know, and a home that’s not my own.

And now I find the one person who makes all of that disappear, who makes me feel whole again, and I can’t be with him.

This is so fucking unfair. I deserve to be happy, don’t I? Yes, I’ve done some things that I’m not proud of. And yes, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. But does that mean that I should be punished like this?

“Aria.” The sound of Jett’s sudden sharpness wraps me back into reality. I glance at him and find his face creased with anxiousness. “Remember how I said that I think I might be falling for you? Well, I kind of think that it’s not too late for that. I think maybe it could still happen. I want to be with you again. I want to give it another try.”

“Jett, don’t -”

“No, listen to me. I don’t think you understand. Being with you - that was the longest relationship I’ve had in, well, ever. I’ve never been one to have a long-term thing. It always just... ended. I snapped. But with you, it was... I don’t know. Different. And I want to give it another shot.”

“Jett -”

But I just... can’t. My throat’s gone completely dry. I have absolutely no idea what to do, what to say, what to think. This is all so wrong.

I don’t want to date him again. I don’t. I had feelings for him once, but it was just a silly teenage crush. In a way, he was really good for me. He was the first person who made me genuinely happy in such a long time. But I don’t want to be with him anymore. I’m in love with someone else, for God’s sake. But how am I supposed to tell him that?

“Aria, just - listen -”

And before I even have time to realize what’s happening, his lips are getting closer and closer and pressing against mine. It only lasts for a few seconds, but Merlin, it’s a few seconds too many. This isn’t right.

“Don’t you miss that?” he whispers, but I have no words for him.

All I can focus on are two silhouettes in the distance, but this time, they’re different than before. James is still standing there, right outside the Hog’s Head, but his female companion has been replaced by someone even worse. Alex stands next to James, chattering away into his ear like an old pal catching up with someone they haven’t seen in ages. Except I know that’s not the case.

James doesn’t say a word, just stands there and listens. He doesn’t move, doesn’t speak, doesn’t do anything but stare in my direction. Alex smirks and pats James on the back, then heads off in the opposite direction. Moments later, the door to the Hog’s Head swings open, and Grace steps out. And with just one beckoning motion on his part, James grabs her hand and pulls her back into the bar, slamming the door shut behind him.



A/N: Hello, lovely readers. So I have recently come to a conclusion regarding the never ending spiral of sadness/depression/angst that was the last chapter, because apparently it made like everyone cry :/ See, when I was writing that chapter, I went through a bad breakup, so... yeah. I’m thinking it was an emotional release. But that’s the absolute worst it’s going to get, trust me. I just thought you guys should know that.

Anyway, here’s hoping this chapter is slightly less depressing for you all. Although maybe it’s not. How should I know?

OH! And before I forget, I’ve posted that Louis/OC I mentioned before - it’s called Thunder, so if you like this story (which I hope you do because you’ve read this far), you should go and check it out. It’s not nearly as depressing, I promise.

Thanks for reading. Love you loads :D 


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