Chapter 11 : Neville: The Dark Mark
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Here we go again. Hannah was looking at me as though I’d done something horrendous, almost making me forget what I had actually wanted to say to her. She gazed at me intently, her lips pressed together and her arms folded.
She raised her eyebrows, impatient.
Leaning closer to her, I whispered, “I - I didn’t reject you, Hannah. I never will.”
“Funny, seemed that way to me.”
I dragged her to the staircase where there was less people around.
I tried to find the right words, but instead said all that I could think off. “I want to kiss you, I - I really do, I just -”
“Too late.” Her mouth barely moved.
“What?” I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Too. Late,” she reiterated, leaning towards me. Her eyes pierced mine, but they were moist and shiny rather than matching her hard, cold words. “I was kissed yesterday.”
Rather than feeling heartbroken, I was angry with her. Was she lying or did she really do this to hurt me?
“Really?” I said, disbelieving.
“Really,” she squeaked. “It was Ernie.”
My stomach lurched. I believed it now. He was the one boy that I hoped it was not because I knew he would do it if he had the opportunity.
My teeth ground together, the pressure making my head hurt. I did not take one eye off her.
“Ernie …” I said, mulling it over. I hoped she could see how I felt. I hoped she could tell how upset I was.
“Ernie,” she said harshly. “Ernie kissed me.”
“And how was that?” My legs were shaking.
“He rocked my world.”
I took off up the stairs to my dormitory. Looking back for a moment, I saw her look down as though upset. I didn’t care whether she regretted what she said. She did that a lot, said things that she wished she hadn’t. This time, though, I did not care one little bit because this was just too much for me to handle.
Okay, maybe I was heartbroken. How could she do this to me? Despite how much she felt I had rejected her, she should never have gone this far. I wouldn’t have.
But I had no right to complain. It wasn’t like we were going out with each other. Hannah could do whatever she liked and I couldn’t say a thing about it.
The examinations came and went, Hannah and I not saying a word to one another in the exams we shared. To be completely honest, I never wanted to speak to her again. And Ernie? I wanted to hurt him really bad. Everywhere I went, I saw him, looking really happy with himself, grinning and high-fiving people. He made me so angry.
Three days after Hannah had told me that she had kissed another guy, I waded down to the Great Hall for dinner after days of avoidance. I ignored her when I saw her sitting with her friends eating, sitting beside him. She ignored me. That was fine.
I sat between Ron and Ginny, wishing to disappear and remain unnoticed.
Ron noticed me - unfortunately, and said, “Trouble in paradise?”
Everyone looked over just as I gave him a look that said, ‘Why the hell would you say that?’
“Oh my God, what happened?” Hermione asked, nervous.
“Is it Hannah?” Ginny chimed in. That name …
“Neville …” Dean looked over anxiously.
“Can’t be that bad, can it?” Ron said cheerfully. “I mean, Hannah’s a nice girl, harmless. Wouldn’t hurt a -”
"I hate her,” I said clearly.
“What?” Ginny spluttered.
“I hate her. Those words have only one meaning, right?” I sat lower in my seat.
“No no no no no no no …” Hermione whispered to herself.
“I guess the plan didn’t work,” I told her.
“My plans always work!” Hermione said adamantly.
“Always?” Ron asked, doubtful.
“Always,” Hermione reassured us all. “I-it must have been -”
“The fact that she kissed someone else. Not naming any names but she and Ernie had a good time the other night, together and alone and kissing … but we’re not dating so I guess I should keep my mouth shut on anything Hannah-related. She has her own life so why the hell should she factor me in on her plans? It doesn’t matter that I thought we had something because it turns out it’s a big fat nothing. Just like me. Even more than nothing. A big … black hole sucking my entire life down in the darkness … But Hannah does not care one little because -”
My friends had been waving me down and shaking their heads, telling me to stop. I turned to find her standing behind me. But did I care? No. I continued.
“Hannah doesn’t care one little bit because she’s selfish -”
She slapped me and everyone in the hall flinched a little. I held my breath, paying no attention to the stinging on my cheek.
“ -a-and manipulative -”
“ -and vulnerable a-and pretty …”
She hit me hard on my shoulder. “Don’t even think that by turning this around, Neville …” she muttered.
“And beautiful. Beautiful girls lie. And get whatever they want … but worse, they tell the truth and …”
She hit me for the next twenty three seconds consecutively and my face flushed red as she did so.
“Not gonna finish your sentence?” she asked sadly. Her face was a shocking pink and her hair was a mess.
I shook my head.
She stormed out.
“She wasn’t even that pretty!” Some Slytherin boy shouted down the hall.
“Shut up!” Ron yelled and at the end of the hall, before she left, Hannah picked up a large tray of salad and threw it at the Slytherin so forcefully that he had to fall out of his chair to dodge the silver as the food went everywhere.
I wanted to storm out too. Right now. I was so embarrassed. But I had to wait for her to be gone. For all I knew, she was outside the Great Hall crying. So I slowly descended into my chair as chatter began once more. Even looking up at the staff table proved a problem. I bet they loved these arguments. Professor Flitwick raised his eyebrows at me in a disappointed manner and I sank further and further into my chair - so much so, that I ended up sat beneath the table, gazing at the watery distorted images of everybody’s feet while the others ate and gave me those precious seconds alone, trying to blink away my tears.
“I dunno why she was hitting him,” Ron said. “She’s the one who kissed Ernie, not Neville. Okay, that sounded a bit wrong,” he said as an afterthought.
I sobbed into my knees but tried not to let them hear me.
“Ron, it’s not our place to judge,” Ginny said.
“Sshh,” Hermione tried.
“Just saying,” Ron said. “She was out of order.”
“She was hurt,” Ginny replied. “I hardly think that the hitting thing counts this time.”
“And the kiss?” Ron asked. “Does that get swept under the carpet too?”
“Be quiet,” Hermione ordered. “It’s not our business.”
“I thought you were in on it?” Ron asked.
“I’m not in on anything! He is right there, he’ll hear you!”
“Oh yeah,” Ron muttered. “Sorry.”
I stayed under the table with my head on my knees all the way until the Hall was clear and it was just Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Dean and Seamus all sitting on the floor, trying to get me out. Even the Professors were gone.
“Come on, Neville,” Seamus encouraged. “We won’t discuss it anymore. It’s forgotten.”
I said nothing.
“How about we throw a little party? A celebration … of …?” Ginny looked at the others for help.
“Of Hannah abusing me for something she did? No thank you,” I whispered, red-faced.
“We could get food from the kitchens and just stay up and talk if you want,” Ginny continued.
“I’m not a fourteen year old girl!” I yelled at her.
“Hey, Neville, you’re a good friend and all, but that’s my sister …” Ron said quietly.
“Shut up, idiot,” Ginny told him.
“We’re here for you,” Hermione said, crouching down. “And … I’m sorry if this was all my fault. I guess I was wrong.”
“It wasn’t. We’re wrong about a lot of things, Hermione. Especially the people we care about more than ourselves.”
Ron, Dean and Seamus looked at each other and Hermione and Ginny both looked at me. I wasn’t paying attention but I could guess that their expression read something like ‘Oh, how sweet’ or something else fluffy like that.
They all left me alone after that. Oh well. Hopefully, one day, love won’t make people so uncomfortable.
That night, after discussing with Dean and Seamus in the dorm about the female sex and all of their extremities, I actually felt like we were real friends. Dean revealed all of his problems with Ginny and he felt that she had very high expectations of men seeing as she had all of those brothers and told us how upset he was when they split up. Seamus even admitted that he had a very strong obsession with a seventh year Slytherin named Kitty which all started when she rejected him last year.
“ … you wouldn’t believe how gorgeous she is,” Seamus said, thinking of her. “I think I get to her sometimes, you know, but then she’ll pretend we haven’t talked about it when she’s around her friends. Sad but true.”
“You’ll win her over soon,” Dean told him.
“Neville?” Seamus asked.
“Are you going to share something?”
“You two already know everything about Hannah and me. What else is there to say?”
“Come on,” Dean said. “You must want to rip Ernie’s head off!”
“True,” I agreed, “but she can do what she likes, really.”
“But,” Dean continued, “you can’t let him get away with it.”
“Well, he already has. They’re probably all over each other right now.”
“Kissing … or worse …” Seamus muttered.
“Please don’t make me hit you,” I whispered. Dean chuckled. “Hannah and I were never together, so ...”
“So you’re telling me that all of those months you spent together and all that time alone … That wasn’t you two being in a relationship?” Seamus asked. He and Dean looked confused.
“No, we were just friends.”
“Oh please,” Dean scoffed. “If you ask me you’ve been together since fifth year. So that’s, what, about a year?”
“No …” I said, thinking it over. “We haven’t even, you know, kissed.”
“So? There’s such a thing as having an emotional relationship rather than a physical one. Even when she left, you two were on each other’s minds because you were dating,” Seamus said. “You just didn’t want to admit it to yourselves or each other.”
“No. I mean, we wrote to each other when she left and she didn’t mention -”
“More proof!” Dean said.
“She was gone for five months, Dean. And she wasn’t thinking of me.”
“Of course she was. Her mother died, but she still had time to write to you. She was your girlfriend. That’s why you’re so upset now and that’s why she knows she was wrong.”
“Was, Dean. Past tense,” I told him.
“How can you sit by while Ernie takes her from you?” Seamus asked.
“Because I have to. I love her, she loves him.” I sighed while they looked away from me. “Thank for trying though, guys, it means a lot.”
They said nothing more as I laid on my bed. I was so tired of everything and I just wanted to hurry up and get on the Hogwarts Express. I would trade my grandmother nagging me for this emotional torture any day.
Seamus left the room but returned a few minutes later holding something in his hand.
“We need to go,” he said.
Dean and I sat up. Seamus was holding his fake galleon that we used for the DA.
“It was in my pocket a second ago and I felt it. So I just went to find Ron in the Common Room and he said that Harry told them something and that they need our help. Something is about to happen in the castle tonight and it’s serious.”
All the while I had been searching the drawers for my galleon. I found it and it was quite warm.
“It’s past curfew so McGonagall will kill us if she finds out we’re leaving the Common Room so Ron said they’re going to create a distraction. He’s paid some second years. Come on!”
Dean and I grabbed our wands and followed him out.
Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Dean, Seamus and I left the Common Room, some other DA members following us as we snuck out to the main staircase.
The Dark Mark was hanging ominously over the Astronomy tower, like some demented version of a rain cloud, signalling that all hell was going to break loose. I wasn’t ready for another showdown with Death Eaters, I really wasn’t. But I knew it was coming and that I needed to relieve some stress some way. Strangely enough, I didn’t care if I got hurt because it was not like I will have to leave many people behind to miss me.
As we approached the Tower, wands out, I heard Hermione whisper to Ron.
“The Ravenclaws must already be up there.”
“I’m glad Harry left us the Felix potion. We’re gonna need it,” he replied.
Hermione glared at him, braced for whatever was to come.
We heard noises as we walked down the corridor. Ahead, we saw a seventh year student get flung into a suit of armour and a Death Eater approach him. We all stopped walking, silent.
Thinking fast, Ron flung his wand out and yelled, “Stupefy!” sending the Death Eater into the stone wall and knocking him out. The student thanked him and ran back around the corner into battle.
We looked at each other.
Here we go again, I thought.
Ron chuckled. I must have said it out loud.
“What’s happened? What’s going on?” Hannah had just come up behind us, followed by her new boyfriend and Susan, Justin and other Hufflepuffs. No one expected Slytherins.
My friends glared at her as she arrived, red in the face from probably running up all of those stairs from the ground floor.
“What’s happening?” she asked again.
Hermione spoke. “We have to fight.” I could see in Hermione’s face that she didn’t want to talk to Hannah.
The Hufflepuffs looked frightened and, for once, I wanted to tell them to grow up and face it. For once, I felt like a Gryffindor.
“Some students are already down there trying to stop them from getting to the rest of the castle,” Ginny said.
“Them?” Justin asked.
“Who do you think?” Ron replied. “Death Eaters. If you used your eyes, you’ll have noticed the Dark Mark. We saw it through a window on the way up.”
“Have the professors been told?” Ernie asked.
“Don’t get me started on you,” Ron began, taking a step forward.
Hermione held him back. “Hey hey hey, this is not the time.”
“Seems perfect to me.”
“What are you going to do?” Ernie asked him, confrontational.
This got Dean and Seamus mad. Good, at least they would be riled up for the fight.
As they all started yelling at each other, I pushed through them and began jogging down the corridor towards the stairway up to the tower.
“Neville, wait!” Ginny yelled, running after me.
“We came here for a reason whether you lot forgot or not.” I continued on, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and all of the others rushing down after, wands ahead of them. As soon as I turned the corner, I had to fling myself to the ground to avoid the Killing Curse as it pelted towards my chest. On the ground by the window, I noticed that the spell went straight between Ron, Hermione and Ginny, no doubt a result of the potion Harry had given to them. Trying to see through the crowd, I saw Luna, Cho and other Ravenclaws who had, indeed, arrived before we had. There was dust in the air, debris from stone on the ground and broken glass from the windows scattered around. This was worse that at the Ministry. The Death Eaters did not have to be careful in case Aurors came this time. I had hoped that someone would come, but these guys looked ready to kill. Us coming out of the Department of Mysteries alive must have really pissed them off and they were shooting spells at us with venom.
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