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Playing Pretend by SilverRoses
Chapter 3 : Masking Feelings
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 0

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Bellatrix was pacing in an annoyed way, her fists clenched and her brow furrowed. Jeremy knew that it would be pointless to try to convince her to stay just now, but he actually wanted nothing more himself than to go to sleep and think about it the next morning. If he didn't get out of her presence soon, he would most certainly end up saying or doing something incredibly stupid and there would be no taking it back. If she knew what crazy ideas were going through his mind, even as he gazed at her pacing figure, she would have killed him on the spot, for sure. At the moment, all he really wanted to do was kiss her until she forgot everything but him, and then maybe do something even crazier...but he would never let himself act on those reckless least, not yet.

"You have seriously got to stop thinking like that, Jeremy Kasica."

But the fact was, before this, when they'd been in school together, she had been the epitome of perfect, gorgeous, and completely breathtaking. Now...well, there were no words to describe how much his adoration for her had grown.

Bellatrix stopped pacing suddenly and turned to him, standing barely four feet in front of Jeremy, who sat on the couch. Her black eyes met his blue ones and he knew, with the very small part of his mind that was still rational, that he was staring at her, but he couldn't help it.

"How can you possibly be so calm about this?!" Bellatrix suddenly exploded, "We have just lost three years of our lives and you just...sit there?"

He swallowed and said, "Maybe we should just try to make this work."

"Oh no you did not just say that!" she fumed, glaring at him, "I knew you were a weakling, but I never guessed you were this..."

Before she could come up with a word to describe him, Jeremy stood and said, "What am I supposed to do? Why won't you try?"

Bellatrix gaped at him for a moment, quite shocked by his sudden outburst, "Try? Try what? Being your wife? I think I'd rather throw myself off a cliff than consider the idea! And this?" she briefly touched her stomach, "If this is something I could live with...the idea is too awful to consider! Why, oh why did it have to be you who I got stuck with? What are you supposed to do? Fix it!" She poked her finger at his chest with each syllable and Jeremy just watched her with an expression of confusion.

When he regained control of himself, he replied in a low tone, "Is it just me you don't like?"

Bellatrix's fury fired up again and she shrieked, "Of course it is, you absolute moron! Do you think I would rather be stuck here, married to you, of all the losers in the world, and pregnant with you child than in school hanging out with all the kids who actually matter to the existence of the world, living a life I was actually proud of?"

Jeremy bit his lower lip.



"But I love you."

"Do not call me that!" Bellatrix protested, "I'm sick of your 'let's try to make this work'! I'm sick of everything about you! And I'm sure, despite the fact you can barely think anything on your own, your sick of me, too! Why won't you just die already?"

"I am not sick of you, and I never will be!" Jeremy protested.

"So much for keeping your feelings secret..."

"What?" Bellatrix sounded as if she was 99% sure she had just heard him wrong, but that one percent was confusing her beyond measure.

"Is that what you're accustomed to? People getting sick of you and leaving? Bella, I won't! I swear I won't!" Jeremy said, earnestly.

"Go ahead and dig yourself into a deeper hole than you were already in, would you? She will murder you for that."

Bellatrix's eyes suddenly seemed to catch fire, "That's what you think, do you? That people just leave me? Me? Well they don't! You think you're so much better than anyone else? Well, here's reality for you: you don't even matter! You could drop dead right now and I wouldn't even care! Stop pretending to understand me because you don't know anything about me!"

Tears were unconsciously streaming down Bellatrix's face as her tirade went on, and Jeremy's heart couldn't help but break for her. Obviously he'd been more right than he had ever guessed.

"Nobody leaves me! And they never have! You can just shut up and keep all your stupid, unfounded musings to yourself, I don't want to hear them!" Bellatrix finished by flinging a throw pillow from the couch at him and running upstairs.

"Bella, wait..." Jeremy called, weakly. But she didn't even think of looking back.

She didn't come back downstairs for the rest of the day, and Jeremy just lay miserably on the couch, feeling somewhat guilty. Why could he not control his ideas? If this was supposed to be part of his 'winning Bellatrix's heart' plan, well, he could scrap it, because he was obviously just as stupid as she thought he was.

"Way to go, genius."

Jeremy just wished that voice in his mind would shut up instead of making him feel worse than he already did, but what was he to do? It was obviously the smartest part of him.

"Should I apologize to her? Or would that make it worse?" He wondered in a whisper, "Oh...Lord, I just want her to be happy."

He looked towards the stairs and pondered going up to look for her. But what would he say when he found her?

Something inside him pulled him up off the couch and forced him up the stairs. Leaving her to her tears was just cruel, he decided...but so was making it worse. If only he were better at communicating his thoughts, then there would have been no mistaking them in the first place.

Bellatrix lay on the bed of the master bedroom, sobbing uncontrollably. What was up with her? She hadn't cried since her eleventh birthday. Pregnancy hormones must be about a thousand times worse than they were made out to be. Then she'd gone and said all those stupid things to Jeremy Kasica of all people, so now he would know that he had hit on something, and she would never see the end of it. Why did it have to be her stuck in this alternate reality? Couldn't anyone else have been Kasica's partner in potions?

Some time passed, and Bellatrix was beginning to feel hungry again, but she refused to go downstairs in the mess she was in right now, so she curled up and wrapped her arms around her belly, where, if she concentrated hard enough, she could feel something moving.

There was a knock on the door.

"Go away!" Bellatrix said, as coldly as she could manage through her obviously tearstained voice.

"Bella, I'm sorry," came a very gentle Kasica voice.

"I don't want to hear it! Go away!" Bellatrix said, fighting back the rise of emotions that suddenly returned.

The door handle turned and suddenly he was standing in front of her. "No, I should never have been so careless with my words, and there's no reason for you to think that I meant any of it the way it came out. I'm sorry."

Though he would never have admitted it to anyone, seeing her on their bed made him wonder what they'd been like in this alternate reality say...four months ago. Would that Bellatrix have been used to his somewhat inconsiderate uses of things unintentionally? Would they have had one of those 'kiss and make up' kind of relationships? That would have been so much easier.

"Just leave me alone," Bellatrix moaned, not meeting his eyes.

Jeremy sat on the edge of the bed and dared to brush the thick black curls from her face. Her eyes were red and her complexion was blotchy, signs that his comments had truly hurt her.

"I don't want to," he whispered.

"Don't touch me," Bellatrix protested, weakly, "And just go away. I don't want to talk to anyone right now...least of all you."

"Then I won't talk," Jeremy said, tucking her hair behind her ear, then brushing her cheek gently as he pulled back.

"Then I'm going to go eat," Bellatrix managed to snap.

Jeremy got up and offered his hand to help her up. Surprising both herself and him, she took it and stood in front of him for a moment, then he suddenly pulled her close and she felt his strong arms wrap around her. Right now, that was, quite shockingly, exactly what she needed...even if it had to be Kasica. Someone to hold her while she put her emotions back in order.

When, after a minute or two, she began to pull back, he released her as unrelentingly as possible. He had, after all, gotten to hold her, and that made him feel almost high. Maybe he could win her over after all.

They ate dinner in silence. Bellatrix was so confused by what had happened back in the bedroom that she kept losing herself staring at the table. What had gotten into her to let him talk to her like that, and hold her, and touch her. She had to be losing it if her life was coming to this. Life with Jeremy Kasica was beginning to seem more and more like the end of the world with each passing minute...and it didn't help anything that he kept glancing at her with a look that she couldn't quite place on the emotion chart, but she guessed was probably concern. Maybe he just didn't want her to burst into tears again because then he would be forced to comfort her again. Apparently Hufflepuffs didn't live well when guilt weighed on them, if Kasica was anything to go by.

Jeremy, however, wondered if maybe she had warmed up to him just a bit. He couldn't keep his eyes off her as he sat across from her at the table. How in the world Jeremy Kasica in this reality had managed to make this perfect girl fall in love with him was beyond comprehension. Perhaps he could figure it out for himself eventually, but right now, it was seeming more than a bit difficult. Since they had come downstairs, Bellatrix had kept her distance from him, choosing to drag her chair to the other side of the wide table (which they obviously had for when guests came over) rather than sit next to him. The other chairs were nowhere in sight, so Jeremy guessed they generally sat side-by-side at one end in this alternate reality.

When Bellatrix had finished eating, she waved her wand and the plate cleaned itself and disappeared into a cabinet. Then she got up and left without another word.

Jeremy watched her go with a feeling of longing, but he knew that it would take a whole lot more time before he could get her to stay and talk to him without ending up having her scream at him or state her wish that he die and get it over with.

As he lay in bed that night, he couldn't help but wish she was by his side. What he wouldn't give to know how he had managed to get her to marry him.

He replayed in his mind the feeling of holding her close, the way she had fit against him so perfectly drove him crazy, and he hadn't even meant it in anything but a comforting way. That was just the effect that Bellatrix Black...well Bellatrix Kasica, now...had on him. Someday, he would win her heart, or else he would die in the attempt. There was no way he was going to let her go.

"Careful, Kasica, you know how you are when you get stupid."

"I won't rush it," he sighed, under his breath, "But God knows how much I wish I could."

He turned and tried to fall asleep, but sleep was so hard to find when the only thing on his mind was how Bellatrix fit against him. Nevertheless, he eventually drifted off.

Bellatrix was kept awake for a very different reason. Why had what happened earlier been allowed? Why hadn't she pushed him away the moment he tried to touch her? Why had she been so weak? If any of her friends at Hogwarts had seen would have been even more of a nightmare than it had been. Kasica, that awful Hufflepuff loser had actually embraced her!

But what was worse: she had let him!

She should have seen the future regret as soon as he had pulled her close, but she hadn't. She should have listened to that part of her mind that always knew what was best for her, but she hadn't. She should have slapped him, or thrown something at him, or ran away, but she hadn't. There were so many ways it could have gone that would have been just fine pondering them two hours later as she lay in bed, but she hadn't taken any of them.

She had been weak. She had been stupid. And what if something like that happened again? Bellatrix didn't want to think about it. All she wanted right now was to go to sleep and forget it had ever happened.

But something told her some part of her would always wonder if he had been sincere the entire time...and somehow, that bothered her.

A/N: Long time, no see. Sorry, I have been very busy, but hopefully it will not take so long with the next chapter. Please review :)

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