Chapter 5 : Worthwhile
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sorry for the confusion but i've only been writing, seamus because i was at the same time writing my other fic and in a moment of pure stupidity, completely just forgot what i was doing.... i hope this is not too confusing.
A month passes and before we all know it, it’s mid-November. Students are now opting for warmer layers and various pieces of headwear, for the weather has become nippier and more hostile, forcing us all inside where there are roaring fires to keep us nice and toasty. The sun, once so glorious in the sky, is hiding in between dark grey clouds, leaving the world murky in its absence. Animals I find have also gone into shelter and a serene silence has enveloped the grounds. Inside, on the other hand, I feel like the closer it gets to the holidays, the nuttier everyone seems to get.
After my conversation with Victoire those many weeks ago, our group has grown rather awkward around one another. For one, Victoire is taking my advice and ignoring Teddy, and Teddy is even more perplexed than ever by her sudden silence. Rachel and Greg are skirting around each other and I don’t know what it is but I have a very good idea that there is some unspoken tension between the two. Oh and Geoffrey is ignoring me. Of course, I don’t care. I don’t care if he thinks Cecily Laurent is the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t. Because I have John, who is lovely and kind and sweet and although we haven’t kissed yet, I do think he likes me. I mean it’s not as if he hasn’t tried. Oh goodness, he’s tried. It just so happens that every time he tries, something goes wrong, someone interrupts us or there’s a wardrobe malfunction.
But Cecily Laurent? Really?
I mean I thought he had much better taste than her. She’s… vapid. Okay, yes, she’s gorgeous and has these incredibly toned long legs that I’d kill for but I don’t think there is much else going on inside that head of hers.
But she is not my problem. His love life is of no concern to me.
See, it’s the weather. So many layers must not be good for the brain.
I’m strolling through the castle in a rather blissful mood, singing Christmas songs in my head and enjoying the winter wonderland that has now befallen my metaphorical lake.
So there are a few more visitors and I’m not so solitary anymore but I quite like the company. There’s a joyous atmosphere and lights are strewn across the masts.
I wonder what Professor Longbottom wants. I don’t take Herbology anymore and I haven’t done anything wrong so I can’t imagine why my Head of House would want to speak to me so late on a Sunday evening.
I knock gingerly on the door and listen for the loud ‘come in’ from the round old man. I open the door and am bombarded with the sight of pine trees of all shapes and sizes lining up the walls and corners of the room, red and green fairy lights in the shape of baubles are wringing their way around all of the branches and Professor Longbottom is sitting in his chair with a floppy Santa hat perched on his greying brown hair.
He smiles sheepishly and shrugs. “I like Christmas.”
“Yes, err, I can tell, Professor,” I murmur, still a bit awestruck at the sight around me, as I move towards the chair opposite him. I take my seat quickly.
“So I bet you’re wondering why I’ve called you into my office, Miss Swanson, and I can assure you it’s nothing bad,” he smiles warmly at me.
I exhale quietly, relieved—not that I think I’ve done anything wrong. “Oh that’s good, sir.”
“Actually, I think this is quite good news,” he perks up. “I’ve just received a letter from your parents and they’ve asked if they could steal you and your brother away next weekend. Of course we’ve said yes!”
The blood rushes to my head and I grip onto the wooden armrest tightly, trying not to double over and heave my roast dinner right onto the pristine stone floors in Professor Longbottom’s office. I feel… I don’t know how I feel. A rush of emotions whirl around me: anger, hurt, dread, anxiety and anger again. If my parents are inviting Marcus and I to another one of their charity galas or whatever it is, there has to be a catch. There just has to be.
“Umm, well here’s the letter they told me to give you,” Professor Longbottom says, looking concerned.
I put on my brightest smile and reply, “thank you, Professor. I’ll just be going now.”
I grab the envelope and rush out the door, feeling just a bit dizzy. As soon as I’ve rounded the corner, I rip open the envelope in haste, knowing my mother would be scolding me if she knew I didn’t take the time to admire her new stationary set.
It is Annabeth Watson’s daughter’s engagement party next weekend. You remember Lillian Watson, don’t you? She is just a year older than you. She is marrying Emerson Harper, the Ministry official for the Department of Magical Transportation. I urge you and your brother to find yourselves a plus one for this occasion. It is one thing for Annabeth to have the engagement party at St. George’s Hall, but I won’t have it if my sweet darling daughter is alone for this occasion. Imagine the ridicule! Oh and please remind your brother, you know what he’s like.
I can’t believe her. I can’t believe this!
Bring a date? She has got to be kidding me.
I don’t know what to do. I want to cry and scream and punch something but no matter what I do, how hard I protest, I will still go. I will still find that date and I will still try desperately to please her. It’s no use denying the inevitable. It’s always been like this. My mother always got her way.
I move down the corridor, not particularly aware of my surroundings, but as I round the corner, I know exactly where I’m going.
I hover just at the staircase down to the Slytherin Dungeon, not sure how to proceed, not knowing if Marcus is there, but thankfully, I don’t have to wait for too long as Marcus comes bounding down an opposite corner. He waves a carelessly ripped open envelope in one hand and his grave expression says it all.
“You got it too?”
“My handsome little boy,” Marcus scoffs.
“She is… something, our mother,” I reply. I feel worn out, the anger having ebbed away with every step I took since leaving Professor Longbottom’s office.
“Something,” Marcus spits out. “Are you going to go?”
“Do we have a choice? You know her, she will do everything in her power to get us there, it’s more hassle than it’s worth to disobey her, Marcus,” I tell him.
He sighs and slumps his shoulders. “I know. I was just hoping… that things were different.”
“Me too,” I walk over to him and put my arms around him. “So who are you going to take?” I ask to lighten up the mood.
He laughs. “You mean who do I want to subject to our mother? There is no one in the world I’d want to do that too. What about you? Are you going to bring John?”
“Merlin, no!” I cry out. “Never! I’ll bring Teddy. He knows.”
“I figured,” Marcus says then shrugs casually. “I’ll figure something out. Do you even know who Lillian Watson is?”
“Oh yeah, she’s that snotty girl we went to France with when we were kids,” I remind him and he grimaces.
After satisfyingly mouthing off about our parents, I drift back towards the Gryffindor Tower. At least I have Marcus. My pain in the arse little brother, who regardless of everything, is and has always been right beside me through it all.
Childhood has never been an easy thing in the Swanson household, for Marcus or me. From birth, it has always been about our mother and how we fit into her life. We were accessories to be used at will, while our father did nothing. He’s an old man, twenty years older than my mother actually, and is much too tired to deal with two teenagers. I used to blame him when I was younger. I used to get so angry with him that I’d run off to the woods by the house and cry till I fell asleep, but over time, I’ve come to accept that when it comes to Elizabeth Geraldine Swanson, there is just no reasoning with her, whether you’re her husband or her children. What she wants she gets. Our father was never the confrontational type anyway. He spent his days in his study, a Scotch in one hand, and with the door firmly closed. To this day, I’ve still never seen the inside of that study.
Do I wish that my father would just stand up for us one of these times, that he is a stronger man? With all my heart. But I’m not a little kid anymore. You grow up. You face reality and you move on. As I said, people disappoint.
I pause, placing my hand on the cool stonewall, and inhale the musky scent of the castle. But still, it hurts to know that your own father doesn’t love you enough.
I suddenly feel my eyes begin to sting and I angrily wipe away unwanted tears.
I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry.
I repeat this as a mantra but a few seconds pass and I can’t push aside the heaviness lying in my chest; it’s as if an iron anchor has been placed on my heart, unwilling to be moved.
No child deserves to go through a day like that. No child deserves to find out at the age of eight that your mother thinks as much of you as her new emerald green summer dress or that your father doesn’t love you enough to protect you from her, from all of them.
I lean back against the wall and sink to the floor, running my hands through my hair, and wanting to break down but knowing I can’t. Once I do, there won’t be any thing to stop me and Marcus needs me.
There’s noise coming around the corner and I quickly jump up, wiping away tears that I’ve barely registered till now. I pull my jumper down and realise there’s no way to go but towards them—well that is if I want to go back to the tower, I could always just turn and bolt. But that seems silly.
As I see who rounds the corner though, it doesn’t seem so silly after all. Actually, it seems like a pretty good idea.
“Milly,” he says surprised to see me with that stupid grin on his face, his arm casually slung around Cecily, but upon seeing my face, his grin fades and replacing it is a small frown.
Merlin, I must look horrible for him to do that!
“Hi Milly,” Cecily says loudly but none too friendly. She has never been friendly with anyone I’ve noticed over the past few weeks. Not even her fellow sixth years. “You look horrible! Do you have the flu? I mean if you do, you should stay away. I have a low immune system!”
Geoffrey rolls his eyes and pulls his arm back from around her shoulders.
“I’m not sick,” I reply grumpily, my voice squeaking for good measure because you know, I really don’t have enough problems in my life already. The last thing I need is for Geoffrey to play the chivalry card and worry about me.
“Oh good!” Cecily claps her hand. “But just to be safe, you should probably stay back. Your eyes are a bit puffy. Maybe you have pink eye!”
I don’t have bloody pink eye, you daft cow!
Is what I want to say but I nod mutely and try to walk past them. Geoffrey’s hand shoots out and holds my arm steadily, unrelenting.
“Hey Cecily, go on ahead, I’ll follow along in a second,” he says. “I just have to talk to Milly about our presentation tomorrow.”
She nods happily and struts off.
I pull my hand back with an angry yank, knowing full well we don’t have a presentation tomorrow, and give him my meanest coldest look before trying to move past him again.
And again, his hand shoots out and he pulls me towards him. I stumble and hit his chest hard.
“Milly,” he says, his voice low and demanding. “What’s wrong? Did that wanker O’Donnelly do something?”
I jerk my head back to gape at him. “What! No, of course not!”
“Then what is it?” he’s looking at me with those damn grey eyes and I suddenly feel uncomfortable. All I want to do is splash some cold water onto my face.
“None of your bloody business, Geoffrey,” I snap. I try to move away again but he’s having none of it as he blocks me with his body.
“It is when you look like that,” he tells me. “You look awful.”
“Oh gee, thanks, that’s what every girl wants to hear!”
“As if you’d take a compliment from me anyways, Milly.”
“You’re right! I wouldn’t! Now can you please get out of my way so I can go get some rest? It’s been a long day.”
“No and why has it been a long day? There’s obviously something bothering you so why don’t you unload, huh? I recall us being quite intimate before,” he smirks and throws me the most obnoxious wink I have ever had the misfortune of witnessing.
“Intimate?” I scoff, so angry I hardly know what to do with myself. “As I recall, you called whatever the hell that was a mistake, a sentiment I’d like to agree with. Probably the only thing I will ever agree with you about.” I pause to take a deep breath. “Actually, if you want me to unload then fine! You cannot go around kissing me like that, ignore me for a whole month then pretend you give a rat’s arse! You just don’t have that right! You never did and you never will! Now… Get out of my way.”
I shove past him and begin running. I run and run till I finally reach the Gryffindor Tower. I stop only to catch my breath, seeing as I’m panting so hard from the physical exertion that I can barely even tell the Fat Lady the password.
This has been a truly crappy Sunday.
Did something happen between Geoffrey and you? He’s been scowling at you all class.
I look over at Victoire and she just gives me a pointed look and jerks her head towards the boy in question. Geoffrey is sitting on the other side of the room, his eyes narrowing at me and I can feel the heat of his gaze from here. I squirm uncomfortably. I quickly scribble onto the torn piece of parchment and pass it back.
No. He’s just being a freak.
I turn my attention back to Professor Hornwood as he explains the merit of the Expelliarmus charm in a battle. He’s saying that sometimes in life it’s best to deflect than to attack back, that life is complicated and it’s hard to understand the reasons and choices that led that person to behave so aggressively so we must act with caution when fighting. I nod along and jot down notes when the piece of parchment is handed back to me.
Are you sure? You can tell me, Milly. I mean he seems pretty determined to be angry with you about something.
I stare at the paper and wonder if I should tell her. She did confide in me, perhaps I should do the same.
Can we talk about this later?
I reply and quickly hand her it back.
“Sometimes that’s why we have to study our predecessors, to study their choices and actions, and learn what makes them turn to dark magic or what makes them great,” Professor Hornwood carries on. “It is by understanding our past that we are able to move towards the future.”
I listen to him intently, thinking about what he had to say and wondering about my family’s past. In all honesty, I don’t know very much about how my parents became who they are now. Although having met Nana Binky, I can see why my mother is so determined to be ‘belle of the ball’ at any cost.
Okay, promise? Also, how exciting you get to go away this weekend!
I stare down at the piece of parchment and nearly snort. How exciting, indeed.
I decide not to respond and pretend to focus on Professor Hornwood’s lecture. By the time class is over, I’m in a much better mood and am happily strolling down towards the Great Hall with Victoire and Rachel.
“I saw Avery the other day,” Rachel relays to us. “Merlin, I cannot wait to play Ravenclaw after the holidays!”
“You’re a Keeper, Rachel, what on earth will you be able to do to him?” Victoire laughs.
Rachel winks and says conspiratorially, “I have my ways.”
“Just don’t kill him,” I tell her. “I unfortunately need him for my group project, remember?”
“Oh yeah, what a bummer,” Rachel sympathises. “At least you have Geoffrey!”
“Uh… sure,” I mutter.
“He’s not such a bad guy, you know Milly?” Rachel continues on. “I mean yeah he’s the biggest control-freak captain I’ve ever had and last week, he made me do about a hundred laps. Oh and not to mention, I’m pretty sure he threw that Quaffle at my head on purpose.” She pauses for a brief second as if wondering what her point was. “But he’s a good guy; he has a heart of gold, not that he’ll ever admit it.”
I want to roll my eyes but I stop myself. “I suppose but let’s just leave it at we just aren’t similar sort of people.”
“Fair enough,” Rachel says and drops the topic. But even so, I know Victoire is looking at me funny. I’m choosing to ignore that.
“So what’s going on with you and Greg?” I blurt out, trying to get Victoire off my case. Rachel visibly flushes and begins tugging at the hem of her oxford shirt, which has come loose from her light grey skirt.
“What?” she squeaks. “What do you mean?”
“Err, I don’t know, the longing glances, the awkward conversations,” Victoire giggles. “Don’t think we haven’t noticed, Rachel Chung.”
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about,” Rachel huffs, crossing her arms over her chest. “We’re just teammates.”
Victoire and I exchange glances and try very hard not to laugh. They are the most obvious people but if they’re not ready to admit they like each other then so be it.
We push open the doors into the Great Hall and make our way to the Gryffindor table. I am just about to take my seat when someone taps me on the shoulder
“Hi,” he smiles, and I melt a little. Over the past month, I’ve come to be quite attached to that smile. It’s genuine and warm and it’s directed at me. “I haven’t seen you all morning. How are you?”
“Bored,” I reply, grinning back. “How are you?”
“Happier now that you’re here,” he says quietly then laughs. “Cringe?”
“A bit,” I admit. “But it’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.”
“Good!” he pretends to wipe his brow. “I’ve got a reputation to uphold, you know?”
“Oh really? What reputation is that?”
“Sexy, brooding, masculine Slytherin Quidditch player, of course!” he feigns astonishment that I didn’t know.
“Of course,” I giggle.
John opens his mouth to say something but stumbles over as someone bumps into him rather hard.
“O’Donnelly,” a gruff voice barks out.
“Wood,” John replies just as curtly. “Watch where you’re going.”
“Not my fault you’re in the wrong part of the hall,” Geoffrey retorts, and I watch open-mouthed as the two boys square off for a few seconds before Geoffrey lets out a loud guffaw and walks away.
“He really is an asshole,” John mutters under his breath. He then turns his gaze back to me, and smiles. “I should get back. I’ll see you later?”
“Yeah, sure,” I reply.
John leans over and kisses me on the cheek before turning away and striding back to the Slytherin table. I turn back to my own table and sit down besides David and Adele. I notice that Adele is beaming wildly at me, her white teeth gleaming, reminding me uncannily of the Cheshire Cat from an old Muggle tale.
He’s a spineless prick. What does she see in him anyway?
Oh god, when the hell have I ever pretended to understand anything that goes on in that brain of hers. Milly Swanson is flighty and temperamental; one minute, she is all soft-spoken and innocent and the next, she is screaming and yelling at me, and I don’t even know what I’ve done to warrant such hostility.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have kissed her. Twice.
But if she didn’t want me to kiss her, she shouldn’t look at me like that with those bloody lips. I can’t help it that I’m a hormone-raging eighteen-year-old male and those lips entice me to do more than just kiss her. Or the fact that when I do her cheeks flush this soft pink colour and her lips taste of vanilla.
Merlin, why am I thinking about her lips when I’ve got Cecily? All one hundred and ten percent female lushness, with just the right curves and with gorgeous legs that just wrap themselves around you.
I push thoughts of Milly Swanson away from me and focus on eating as much food as I can possibly fit into my mouth.
“Hey man,” Teddy nods as he slumps into a seat beside me.
“You look a bit worse for wear, mate,” Greg points out.
Teddy did look like shit. He has dark rings under his eyes and his hair is more dishevelled than usual, which is saying something considering Teddy always looks like the all too perfect boy-next-door. If I was the twat that girls rolled around with then Teddy was the one they fell in love with.
“Molly Weasley is on my arse day and night about this bloody group project,” Teddy yawns. “Last night, she made me go over every bloody detail about Albus Dumbledore, like did you know his middle names are Percival Wulfric Brian? Or that he lived in Godric’s Hollow?”
I snort while Greg and David laugh raucously. “At least you’re not stuck with learning every sodding detail about Deann Kirsch’s life. For fuck’s sake, why does the world need to know about her stupid dog?”
“You’re doing family history?” Teddy looks up, surprised.
“Yeah, mate, sucks.”
“You’re with Milly, aren’t you?”
“Uh… yeah, why?” I ask, looking at him perplexed.
He shakes his head. “No reason. What about you two?”
David groans, which coming from a boy his size sounded more like a bear growling. “Orla is a pain in my arse! It’s all blahblah the history of Hogwarts blahblah.”
“Orla Moorington?” Greg asks.
“She’s fit,” Greg says with a waggle of his eyebrows. “I mean like…”
“She’s got huge tits,” I offer him. Greg nods enthusiastically and holds his hands out in front of his own chest as if he were holding melons.
“Yeah well she’s a bitch,” David huffs
“My topic is awesome!” Greg grins proudly. He is in the only all-male group, which includes Ravenclaw’s Captain, Thomas Arterton and Hufflepuff’s two Beaters, Herald Berumbeeze and Jackson Hunt. “We’re doing the history of the Falmouth Falcons.”
“You’re so fucking lucky you have no idea,” David says to him.
“No nagging, pestering, annoying girl,” Teddy agrees. “I mean what’s their problem anyways? Why can’t they all just relax? Why do they have to get crazy and expect us to suddenly know what the hell they’re thinking about? I’m not a bloody mind reader! Spit it out!”
Greg, David and I exchange glances. I have an inkling that we’re not talking about the group projects anymore.
I watch as Teddy spears a piece of carrot fiercely then cuts it up into smaller pieces and push it aside. I wonder if this has got to do with a certain blonde sitting across the table from us that has been obviously avoiding him.
“Yeah, they are from another world,” Greg says slowly, gauging Teddy’s reaction.
“Yeah they are!” Teddy exclaims.
“Anything you want to talk about, mate?” I grin at him and Teddy looks at me.
Silence ensues and we all watch Teddy brood silently at the plate of massacred carrots in front of him.
“Well,” Teddy begins slowly and leans forward. We imitate him. “You’ve all noticed, right? I don’t get it!”
“Did you say something wrong? My little sister ignores me for a week if I call her ‘fat’,” David tells us and I all but laugh in his face. “To be honest, sometimes I do it on purpose to shut her up.”
“No! I didn’t call her fat!” Teddy hisses. “I haven’t done a bloody thing!”
“Did you push her?” Greg asks. “I shoved Rachel in the Great Lake last week and she got really angry with me.”
Merlin, who are my friends?
I sigh heavily. “Well mate, she’s been acting weird with you since the year started so it must’ve been something before that.”
“Yeah, yeah!” Greg quickly nods.
Teddy pales and his eyes dart to the blonde in question. “Oh shit.”
“What did you do?” I persist curiously, feeling very much like a twelve-year-old girl gossiping about boys.
“I…” Teddy pauses and lets out an expletive, burrowing his head into his hands. “I kissed her.”
“You what!” shouts Greg loudly, only to have David punch him hard in the shoulder. “Sorry. You what?”
“I kissed her,” Teddy repeats a little quieter.
“How the fuck did that happen?” I ask him. How did something this huge occur over summer and my best friend doesn’t even tell me about it? I’m not going to lie I’m a little more than miffed at him…
But then again, I think he’s in deeper shit with Victoire now to care how I feel.
“I don’t know!” Teddy cries out. “One minute, she was just standing there then the next I’m kissing her.”
“And you haven’t talked about it since?” David points out the obvious. “No wonder she’s bloody mad at you, mate. Girls love talking about this stuff.”
“He has a point, they thrive on this feelings bollocks,” I add.
“I did worse,” Teddy carries on. “I fucking laughed.”
“As in at her?” Greg gapes at him.
Teddy shakes his head furiously. “No, no! Not at her, per say. I sort of burst out laughing. It was… I mean… it’s Victoire!”
“Who is one of the hottest girls in this school,” I tell him. “Every guy in this castle has had a secret fantasy about her at one point in their lives, aside from her obvious family.”
“But she is like family to me,” Teddy says, trying to defend himself. “Which is why I freaked out! I don’t even know why I did it!”
“You’re an idiot,” David sighs. “Do you even fancy her?”
“Vicky? What? No,” Teddy quickly says. “I mean I’d be lying if I haven’t noticed her.” His eyes glaze over. “She is beautiful.” But then he focuses back on us and they harden once more. “But she’s Vicky. I’ve known her since we were in diapers.”
“So you don’t fancy her,” I repeat for confirmation.
“I…” Teddy looks at a loss for words. He ruffles his hair and exhales loudly. “I don’t know. I’ve never looked at her like that before.”
“You can do a whole lot worse than Victoire, Teddy,” Greg tells him gently. “But just figure out how you feel before you do anything. We all love her like a sister and we don’t want her to get hurt.”
Teddy nods and pulls back into his seat from our circle. The rest of us break off as well, much to the curious gazes of the girls.
I’m worried about my best mate. I think he is going to have to go through some major life decisions now. I get it. Well I don’t but I sort of get it. Victoire has been in his life before the rest of us have even met him. They grew up together, played in paddling pools together when they were babies—I only knew that because Nana Andromeda showed me a photo—and practically share the same family. If it didn’t work out between the two, it would mean more than just a lost friendship. It would mean putting their families in awkward positions.
I don’t know if it’s worth all of that but then again, I’ve never met anyone worth that much effort.
A/N: So sorry about the mixup with the names. I'm a complete dolt and just completely intertwined Storm with Raising the Stakes... Seamus is a very important character in RtS and I've been writing that nonstop and must've gotten myself confused when I began writing Storm. I'm also sorry for a slow update but I've been working on RtS for awhile as well but I did promise to try to keep updating both.
Anyway, please do review!! Makes me SUPER happy!! And lets me know there are some people out there reading this little baby of mine haha...