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Southern Comfort by Muse2488
Chapter 22 : Home
 
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I'm pretty sure my Dad is officially freaked out. I mean, don't get me wrong he's really good in life or death situations; but sobbing uncontrollably teenaged girls? Not really his thing. He's trying though. As soon as I got to the Leaky Cauldron I collapsed into his arms. He wrapped his arms around me as I soaked his chest with my tears. He rubbed my back soothingly but he didn't say anything. I'm sure he didn't really know what to say. He's not a liar so he didn't try to tell me that everything was going to be okay, because he can't be sure of that. And if he can't be sure of it, he won't say anything. I'm kinda thankful for it though. He's not filling me full of false hope. I know that nothing is going to be okay for quite some time. I know that I won't be okay for quite some time.



 

 

Eventually I exhausted myself and allowed sleep to overtake me. Dad woke me up and the moment my eyes opened they filled with tears. Dad's eyes filled with fear and he opened his arms up for me again. I sobbed again, barely able to contain myself. Dad asked me over and over again if leaving was really a good idea, but I couldn't answer him. I couldn't talk. I could only cry and nod my head. This had been my plan since I first left America. I had already promised my grandparents that I would be seeing them more often and they were so ecstatic; I couldn't disappoint them. It would be selfish of me to stay now. I was the only thing left of my Mom that they had. This year away had been really hard on them.



 

 

I squeezed my Dad tightly and moved to get up. He looked hesitant at first, scared that I wouldn't be able to stand on my own two feet. I did though. Shakily, I stood and walked to the bathroom intending to get ready fast and get outta England as quickly as possible. I showered, dressed, and put some make-up on to make myself look not so much like death. I had dark shadows under my bloodshot eyes; and they were puffy from crying so much. I had to go to the school and meet with the Dean and I was worried about not looking presentable. I cast a drying spell on my hair, not wanting to mess with it and soon I came out. Dad had already showered and he had packed while I got dressed. He looked at me cautiously.



 

 

"Paislee...are you sure?" He asked me.



 

 

"Dad," I croaked. "Please...don't ask me that again. Let's just go."



 

 

He looked as if he were about to argue, but he closed his mouth and held out his hand. I grabbed it and we disapparated.



 

 

We ended up right outside of my grandparents’ house. I gasped as my feet found purchase on the ground. Disapparation isn't my favorite way to travel. As exhausted and distraught as I was at leaving James, the sight of my grandparents’ house was achingly great to see. I smiled softly and my Dad squeezed my hand. We made our way up their long driveway and soon their door was thrown open.



 

 

"Jace! Paislee!" My grandmother cried.



 

 

"Gram!" I cried back and started running towards them. My grandparents met me half way and I threw myself in their arms. My grandparents are fairly young, only in their late 50s. My Dad was 37 and my Mom had been 30 when she'd passed away. And my grandparents had had my Mom when they were in their early 20s.



 

 

"Oh Paislee, we've missed you so much!" My grandmother stated.



 

 

"I've miss you to Gram." I told her.



 

 

"How ya been squirt?" My grandfather asked as they released me and stepped back to grin at me.



 

 

"Busy." I laughed.



 

 

"That's an understatement." My Dad replied. My grandparents walked up to him and embraced him. I saw my Dad stiffen for a moment, still not comfortable with all the touchy feely stuff, and I snickered. He shot me a look as he relaxed his shoulders and embraced my grandparents back.



 

 

"It's good to see you Jace; we've missed you as well." Gram said.



 

 

"Ditto." Dad replied with a smile.



 

 

"Well, let's get inside. We've got some catching up to do before y'all leave." Gramps said. I smiled at his accent. It had been so long since I'd heard another American accent besides my Dad. A twinge of sadness stabbed at me suddenly as I thought of the gorgeous British accents I had grown to love. And with thoughts of British accents came thoughts of James. Tears stung my eyes and I quickly blinked them away, following my Dad and grandparents inside.



 

 

The familiar landscape of my grandparents’ house filled me with warmth. It'd been over a year since I had been in the house, but everything was the same. It was a relief. With all the changes that I'd been forced to undergo it was nice to know some things hadn't changed. Photograph's of my Mom littered the walls; pictures of her growing up, of her and my Dad's wedding day, family photos of the three of us. I smiled at them. There were a few of just her and my Dad when they were teenagers and dating. I stared at one in particular. My Dad couldn't have been more than 19, my Mom 16 or 17. They were just looking at each other, sitting on my grandparent's porch swing. They probably hadn't even realized someone was taking their picture. My Dad's eyes were staring straight into my Mom's and I felt my heart clinch. I had seen that look before, but in eyes so hazel they were almost gold.



 

 

James had looked at me like that. His eyes shining with a love so intense it startled me at times. My breath hitched a bit and I saw my Dad staring at me. I shook my head, trying to clear it, and walked into the living room. I settled in between my grandparents and allowed them to ask me question after question about my time in England. I managed to get through them without crying.



 

 

That is, until they asked about James.



 

 

"What about that boy you were seeing? Is he gonna come around soon and introduce himself?" Gramps demanded with a smile.



 

 

I felt my heart stop at that. I felt as if someone had sucker punched me in the gut. I know I whimpered because suddenly my grandparents were looking alarmed. I opened my mouth to answer but a sob came out instead.



 

 

"Paislee...?" Gram trailed off.



 

 

I buried my face in my hands and tried to gain control of my breathing.



 

 

"Did I do something wrong?" Gramps asked my Dad softly.



 

 

"No, she's just...having a hard time. James and Paislee were...well...they were pretty serious and he's staying in England of course to begin his Auror training and Paislee's coming here to go to Healer school. They...well...they choose different paths." My Dad told them.



 

 

"Oh Paislee..." Gram said sadly as she enveloped me into a hug. I allowed her to hold me close and I released a shuddering breath.



 

 

"I'm okay." I croaked out.



 

 

"I'm so sorry sweetheart." Gramps said, squeezing my shoulder. I excused myself to the restroom and splashed some cold water on my face. I looked up at my reflection and winced.



 

 

I looked like hell.



 

 

I reapplied some make-up and pinched my cheeks to get some color back to my face. I walked back out to the living room and my grandparents immediately started chattering about what they had been up to all year and how much I had grown (insert snort here, I haven't grown since I was 13) and how my Dad looked so fit and how proud of me and him my Mom would've been. It was nearing 9:30 though and we still had to get to Atlanta and my apartment so we bid my grandparents goodbye, promising to stop by again soon.



 

 

We made it to Atlanta's Healing School for the Magically Gifted just in time for my appointment. My Dad waited for me outside as I met with the Dean.



 

 

"Paislee Hayes, it's a pleasure to meet you." Mr. Greenman said as he shook my hand and gestured me to have a seat.



 

 

"Thank you; it's a pleasure to meet you as well."



 

 

"You have a very impressive resume for someone who was homeschooled for most of her magical education." He told me with a kind smile.



 

 

I smiled nervously back at him. "Th-Thank you sir."



 

 

Great, I'm stuttering. Fan-friggin-tastic.



 

 

"I see that you graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."



 

 

"Yes sir. My Dad and I moved to England last year since he got a job offer to work at their Ministry of Magic in their Auror office." I told him.



 

 

"Jace Hayes, yes, yes. A very great man. Harry Potter requested him, did he not?"



 

 

I nodded. "Yes sir. He worked a lot of hours and couldn't homeschool me anymore so I went to Hogwarts for my final year." An overwhelming sadness threatened to crush me as I thought of the gang. Starlene and her crazy hijinks. Dom with her obsession with make-up and fashion. Lily and her fiery temper. Al with his easy going nature. Roxanne and her gift for all things scholarly. Rose and her love of books. Scorpius and his love for Rose. Freddie and his wicked sense of humor. James with his-



 

 

James.



 

 

Oh how my heart ached for him. It hadn't even been 24 hours and I could barely take it.



 

 

"Why did you want to come here, Ms. Hayes?" Mr. Greenman asked, jerking me out of my thoughts.



 

 

"I'm sorry?"



 

 

"Why did you want to come here? Your grades are most excellent and you could've easily obtained a scholarship at other places far more prestigious than here, especially with a diploma from Hogwarts."



 

 

I swallowed thickly and cleared my voice. "Well sir, I have family nearby. I wished to be closer to them. Plus, this is a really good school. One of the best in the country."



 

 

Mr. Greenman grinned. "True, true. We do have an excellent program here. Speaking of which, I noticed you signed up for all academic classes. You need at least one elective per semester."



 

 

"Elective?" I asked.



 

 

"Yes, an elective. We believe in growing well-rounded wizards and witches here and in order to do that we ask that our students take classes that they are interested in past their professional wants."



 

 

"Oh...erm...okay." I took the sheet he was handing me and looked over the list of elective classes I could take. I grinned as I saw the perfect one.



 

 

"I'd like to take piano." I said softly. Mom would be happy I did it.



 

 

Mr. Greenman grinned back at me. "Perfect. Now, do you have any questions for me?"



 

 

I shook my head. "No sir, I think I'm set."



 

 

"Fabulous! Well then, it was a pleasure to meet you. Please feel free to tour the school on your own if you would like. Classes start Monday. I look forward to helping you in your pursuit of being a Healer Ms. Hayes." He stuck his hand out to me again and I shook it.



 

 

"Thank you sir. I look forward to it as well." I walked out and met my Dad.



 

 

"How'd it go?" He asked as we walked around campus, just taking in the sights.



 

 

"Fine." I replied, not really elaborating.



 

 

"Fine? Are you excited? What classes are you going to take? C'mon kid, throw me a bone here." Dad said.



 

 

I sighed. "I'm sorry Dad. I'm just...tired."



 

 

Dad wrapped an arm around my shoulder. "I know kid."



 

 

"I'm going to take a piano class." I told him, smiling slightly.



 

 

"Really? But...you already know how to play piano."



 

 

"I know. We have to take at least one elective per semester and...well, I though Mom might've wanted me to..."



 

 

Dad squeezed my shoulder. "I'm sure she'd be proud."



 

 

We finished walking around and we decided to grab a bite to eat before going to my new apartment. We ate at a little diner on campus and Dad told me about a few cases they were working on and how much work he was gonna have when he got back. We paid for the meal and left for my apartment. It was on campus luckily and we just walked there. It was a nice distraction, despite the fact that I was exhausted. I was on the third floor at the other end of the hallway at 342B. My things were already waiting for me and I was grateful for that.



 

 

"Nice digs." Dad commented.



 

 

I nodded. He was right. This apartment was very nice. I had my own little kitchen with a full sized bathroom, a decent sized bedroom and a living room with plenty of space. It was perfect for me.



 

 

I raised my wand and with a small wave my things started to unpack. My grandparents had fully stocked my kitchen with silverware and dishes, as well as all the essential kitchen appliances. There wasn't a T.V. which I was fine with; I didn't really watch much television. I preferred to read. I had a bookcase fully stocked with some of my favorite books as well as all my Healer books and my old school books. A few more knick knacks and some pictures and maybe a plant or two and this place will really start to feel like home.



 

 

"So, it's still a bit early in the day. What do you wanna do?" My Dad asked me.



 

 

"Sleep." I told him as I collapsed on my couch. Dad laughed and sat next to me, picking up my feet and placing them in his lap.



 

 

"Go to sleep kid."



 

 

"Love you." I mumbled.



 

 

"Love you too Paislee."



 

 

OoOoOoO



 

 

Dad stayed with me for two more days. He had the whole week off, but I wasn't much company for him, plus I knew that he actually wanted to get back to work. Dad gets fidgety when he has too much time on his hands. I also wanted to see my old friends. I still hadn't told them I was in town yet and I wanted to surprise them. Dad didn't really want to go but I convinced him that I would be fine. It was a teary goodbye, for me at least my Dad never cried, but it was for the best.



 

 

Of course I hadn't expected the overwhelming sadness to slam into me the moment he left. I was all cried out though. I had never cried so much in my life. I hated crying. I always felt weak when I did it, as if I couldn't control myself or my emotions. I slept the entire day after my Dad left.



 

 

It was pathetic.



 

 

I was pathetic.



 

 

When I woke up the next day after my Dad left I mentally smacked the back of my head. I bucked up and took a shower, ate some cereal and left to see my old friends. Kerianna had told me that she, Lisa, and Britney were hanging out practically every day at her house. I took a deep breath and disapparated.



 

 

I appeared right in front of Kerianna's house. They must've heard the loud crack because soon I could hear Kerianna shouting.



 

 

"What the hell?" Kerianna cried from inside.



 

 

"Kerianna!" I heard her Mom chastise.



 

 

"Sorry Mom! I'll go check it out." Kerianna called.



 

 

I started walking towards the house just as Kerianna opened the door. She stopped in her tracks when she saw me.



 

 

"Paislee?!"



 

 

"The one and only!" I replied grinning.



 

 

"OH MY GOD!" She shrieked and ran at me. I laughed and then 'oofed' as she tackled me to the ground, landing both of us in the grass. Soon I heard my name being shrieked be two other girls and soon I felt more bodies climb on top of us.



 

 

"PAISLEE FREAKIN' HAYES!" Lisa cried out laughing.



 

 

"I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! YOU'RE FINALLY BACK!" Britney yelled.



 

 

"Can't...breathe..." I managed. They all laughed and got off of me. Once we were all standing we squealed and went into a group hug.



 

 

"We missed you so much Paislee." Kerianna said softly.



 

 

I smiled. "I missed y'all too."



 

 

We broke apart and immediately went into the house. Mr. and Mrs. Bryant greeted and hugged me. Mrs. Bryant went to go make some lemonade and cookies like back when we were kids. We went into Kerianna's room and swapped stories. They told me of how high school was and how they all graduated that year, they were a year older than me, and how Kerianna had a boyfriend now and what their majors were going to be, where they were living once the summer was over, and a plethora of other things. It was a nice visit. It was nearing 8p.m. by the time I finally left. I allowed Mr. and Mrs. Bryant to talk me into staying for dinner. Lisa and Britney left before dinner, so it was just me and Kerianna walking outside of the house for her to tell me bye.



 

 

"It was so good to see you Kerianna." I told her.



 

 

She frowned at me and I was taken aback by the sudden change in her demeanor.



 

 

"What?" I asked, fearful that something was wrong.



 

 

"Why are you here?" She asked me.



 

 

"What do you mean?" I asked her.



 

 

"Paislee...all those pictures you sent, every letter I received, was full of James Sirius Potter."



 

 

Insert punch to the stomach here.



 

 

"He was all you talked about. And you are a mess right now. Don't try to deny it either, I know you better than you know yourself." She said, pointing a finger at me.



 

 

It was true; she really did know me better than I knew myself.



 

 

"You should be there with him." She said after a few moments of silence.



 

 

"Nice to know you're happy to see me." I tried to joke.



 

 

Kerianna scowled at me. "I'm friggin' ecstatic to see you Paislee...but not like this. You're sad. Worse than sad. You're lost."



 

 

I couldn't suppress the shudder that went through my body at the impact of her words.



 

 

"M'fine." I told her.



 

 

"Liar." She retorted. "You're not fine. And it's okay, it's okay to not be fine. But it's not okay to torture yourself and him. There's no reason for it."



 

 

"This is my home Kerianna. I missed you guys and my grandparents and my Mom. My Mom's here Keri."



 

 

Kerianna shook her head. "Your Mom's not here Paislee...she's here." She said pointing to my heart. "And she's with you no matter where you are."



 

 

I swallowed thickly. "I just need some time to readjust."



 

 

Kerianna smiled sadly at me. "Time is fleeting and it never lets us catch up to it. But time can be a healer too and help us through those periods in life that had previously seemed like too much. But time never fails to remind us of what we once had."



 

 

I let her words sink in. Kerianna was always the smart one in our group. And she always knew what to say in order to make you think twice.



 

 

"I...I'm not..."



 

 

Kerianna hugged me. "Just...don't sacrifice something just to make others happy. You've sacrificed enough. G'night Paislee." And with that she turned and walked back into her house. I stumbled foward a bit before disapparating back to my apartment, Kerianna's words still ringing in my ear.



 

 

OoOoOoO



 

 

The next few weeks seemed to go slower than molasses in an igloo. I had enough school work to keep me busy, but I had never felt more alone. I thought coming back to America and being closer to my friends and grandparents would've made me happy...but they all had lives too. Kerianna, Britney, and Lisa all had summer jobs now. My grandparents called a lot and so did my Dad. But Dad had work and my grandparents did too. They both worked for our Ministry of Magic; Gramps in the Auror department and Gram was a secretary. The girls and Freddie had Owled me the other day. I sent Alura with long and prompt replies full of lies of me loving it here. In all honesty I was miserable. I missed my Dad, I missed the gang, I missed Hogwarts, I missed the Burrow, but most of all I missed James. I hadn't heard from him at all and the girls only said that he was 'managing.' Whatever the hell that meant. I sure wasn't managing. I was doing the exact opposite of managing.



 

 

I had been back for a little over a month when I finally managed to visit my Mom's grave. It was late and getting dark by the time I made it there. I conjured up some flowers and placed them next to her headstone. I sat down and leaned against the stone.



 

 

"Hey Mom." I said quietly. "It's been a while since I've been here. I'm a total coward. You were one of my main reasons for coming back and here it is a month later and I'm just now making it. I'm sorry. I know you raised me better than that. There's just been...so much to take in. So much has changed. I've changed, and I'm not exactly sure that I like it. In fact, I know that I don't like it. I don't like me. I feel as if a piece of me is missing. Like a piece of my soul is missing."



 

 

I sighed.



 

 

It was a bit chilly, but it felt nice. Atlanta was stifling during the summer. Part of me was wishing I had waited till the fall to start school.



 

 

"I miss him Mom." I whispered, tears falling from my eyes, spilling onto my cheeks. "I miss him so much it hurts. This isn't what I thought it would be. I feel more alone now than ever even though I'm near Gram and Gramps and my old friends. But they all have lives now. We're different people. England changed me. No. No, James changed me. I love him Mom. I love him like you loved Dad. Like Dad still loves you. He's what I dream about, he's what I think about the moment I wake and before I go to sleep and every moment in between. I don't think I'll ever love anyone like I love him. I don't think I want to love anyone else."



 

 

I was shaking now.



 

 

"What do I do now Mom? I can't just leave school in the middle of the semester." I asked her, knowing she couldn't answer me back. "What do I do? Please...tell me...I need you Mom, I miss you. I miss you so much. I wish you were here to tell me what to do next."



 

 

I stayed there, silent, for a few minutes before finally getting up.



 

 

"I love you Mom." I told the grave and then I thought about Kerianna's words. I grabbed at my heart and felt a slight peace. I smiled softly in the dark and wiped my eyes.



 

 

I disapparated and appeared back at my apartment. I fumbled for my key and unlocked the door. It was pitch black and I tripped on something, sprawling myself on the floor and knocking my wand across the room. I cursed and stood to my feet, trying to find the light switch.



 

 

But I didn't need it.



 

 

The room suddenly lit up with the soft glow of over a hundred different candles. Giving the room a soft and beautiful glow. The floor was littered with white rose petals and I could smell sweet vanilla in the air. There was a piano being played in the background and I heard a small noise come from the center of my living room.



 

 

And in the middle of the room was James.



 

 

My heart stopped. All the air knocked out of me at once at the sight of him. His hair was messy, as it always had been, and his eyes seemed to glow. The hazel looking more gold in the candle lit room. He was smiling at me; the corners of his mouth pulled upwards, his hands in his jeans pockets looking relaxed.



 

 

"James." I breathed.



 

 

"Hey." He replied casually.



 

 

"Wh-What are you doing here?" I asked, slightly breathless.



 

 

"I was in the neighborhood..." He replied, amused.



 

 

"You were in the neighborhood." I repeated.



 

 

He was silent for a moment and then his grin disappeared as he looked at me seriously.



 

 

"Do you honestly think that I was just going to let you leave like that?" He asked quietly.



 

 

I didn't reply. I figured it was more of a rhetorical question.



 

 

"I was going to leave you alone at first. You had made your choice and I had made mine. I figured time would help, but it didn't. It made everything worse. Every day that you were gone was pure hell; the fire intensifying with each lonely day. I kept picturing you over here; happy, laughing along with your old friends and your family. I pictured you finding some American bloke who would sweep you off your feet and it tore me up inside. Picturing you with some wanker, seeing you in a white dress and kissing him; and each day I would die a little more inside."



 

 

"James..."



 

 

"Can't you see Paislee? I couldn't let that happen." He said stepping closer to me, his hands out of his pockets now. "I know people say that eventually you'll find someone else. But Paislee...I don't want to find someone else. I want you. I want you and everything else that comes with you. I don't care where we live; here, back in England, in Timbuk-bloody-two. I don't give a damn. I just wanna be with you."



 

 

He was so close now that if I reached forward even the slightest bit I would touch his chest. He grabbed my face in between in his hands and I sighed, pushing my face closer into his hands and feeling my entire body warm up instantly, my body responding to the achingly familiar touch. He tilted my head upwards and tears were swimming in my eyes.



 

 

"I love you Paislee. And wherever you go, I'll go. As long as you still want me, I'm here."



 

 

I couldn't believe it. He was here. He was actually here. James Sirius Potter was finally here and all the sadness drained away and I instantly felt whole again. My soul had returned and I couldn't be happier. I reached behind his head and crushed his lips to mine.



 

 

James' eyes widened in surprise before he closed them and pulled me close against his body. He growled low in his throat as his hands clutched my face. He deepened the kiss, our lips molding together perfectly. My body melted into his and I couldn't believe how perfectly we fit. It was as if we were made for one another.



 

 

We eventually pulled back. James grinned down at me and swiped a thumb at my cheeks, getting rid of the tears.



 

 

"Wherever you go, I'll go too." I told him.



 

 

James threw his head back and laughed. I smiled at the sound; it had been way too long since I'd heard it.



 

 

"So where do you wanna go?" He asked.



 

 

"Home." I told him with a smile.



 

 

He smiled back and reached for my hand, our fingers lacing. And I knew in that moment that I would never be alone again.



 

 

______________________________________________________________________________



 

 

A/N: AND THAT'S ALL FOLKS! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe it! It's FINISHED! Did y'all like the ending? I mean COME ON! He followed her to friggin' AMERICA!!! You didn't honestly think I'd let them not end up together did you? I'm very pleased with how this story ended, but I am so very sad that's over! I've been writing this story for over a year and it's hard to believe that I'm actually done now!!! First I would like to THANK Y'ALL!!! Thank you so very much for following Paislee on her journey and sticking it out with her when all hope seemed lost. Y'all are so amazing and I'm so thankful for each and every one of you who have read this story. I am truly humbled. Please let me know what you think of the ending. Thanks again guys. =]]



 

 

Sincerely,



 

 

Musey.


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