Chapter 4 : lines
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Roxanne is sitting next to me in Defence Against the Dark Arts. She keeps flicking an elastic band against her wrist; so hard that I can hear the faint thwack as the band hits the flesh, making it red and raw-looking and shiny.
Thwack. A new stripe blossoms across the pale skin of her arm. I know why she’s doing it. And it doesn’t trouble me half as much as it should do.
I have come to the conclusion that Roxanne was right, and what she said by the lake about me was true. I enjoy watching people suffer.
But not that much.
So I’m just glad that it’s an elastic band making those red slashes, and not a blade.
“Pair up then, come on. Let’s get those duelling techniques down to a T,” Professor Hillings orders. I roll my eyes. Who the fuck even cares about defence, we all die in the end anyway. Why would it matter if it was a little earlier than expected? At least if I was dead, I’d be away from this bunch of pathetic humans.
Roxanne and I are immediate partners, though. We have a sort of alliance now, an unspoken agreement to stick it out. Just until Hogwarts is over.
“Expelliarmus,” I drawl, and Roxanne blocks the spell easily. We banter spells back and forth for a while, neither of us holding back, but not exactly eager to actually hit each other either. After a while we stop, bored. The Professor is busy with another pair, so we go and sit down in the corner of the room.
My eyes stray unintentionally to Albus and his partner. He’s been sticking a bit too close to me these last few days, ever since the Charms incident. I have no idea whether he is involved in this ‘reckoning’ that is apparently looming, but I kind of doubt it. He seems to flick between complete indifference towards me and vague interest, fascination, as if I were a strange, wild creature. It annoys me.
He should fucking hate me; I attacked his sister!
Roxanne resumes her elastic band flicking. I stare at her wrists.
“Doesn’t it hurt?” I ask.
“Yeah,” she shrugs.
“Then why do it?”
She laughs sadly, quietly. “It’s a release from everything. The physical pain drowns it out, if only for a moment.”
I think about the logic here for a few moments.
“Can I try it?” I ask right into Roxanne’s ear. Her face clouds over, a myriad of dark thunder and lightning streaks and torrential rain.
“No, there is no fucking way that I am allowing you to do that.”
Three emotions rush through my body. First surprise; I didn’t expect her to care enough to try to stop me from hurting. Then the unfamiliar feeling of guilt; perhaps this means I should care more. But they are quickly replaced, as I knew they would be, by anger. Cold and raw and hard. She thinks she actually has a say in what I do. She thinks she can decide what I will or won’t do for me?
“Excuse you,” I spit. “But I can do whatever I want, whether you ‘allow’ me to or not.”
“Not this,” Roxanne shakes her head, unperturbed. “Even if I have to put a full body-bind curse on you, I will never let you do to yourself what I’ve done.”
I stand up so quickly that I crick my neck, and I point my wand at her, at this girl who is just the same as everyone else. I get a little too close to her, and she starts thinking she has power over me. That she can control me.
“Never say anything like that again, ok?” my voice actually shakes with anger.
“Switch partners with the person on your left!” Hillings suddenly cries out shrilly, and I break eye contact with Roxanne as there is a flurry of activity and everyone rushes around. I glance to my left, and am about to reluctantly partner up with a Hufflepuff girl (who gulps when she sees me advancing) when Albus cuts in front of her, arms crossed defiantly.
I groan internally.
“Do your worst then, Brown,” he says, sounding bored.
“I would, but I don’t exactly fancy Azkaban,” I reply venomously. “And I think you’ll find that you are not my partner. Or can’t you tell left from right, Potter?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Who else is there?” Albus looks from side to side. The Hufflepuff girl has scampered off in a fright. It makes me feel pretty good actually. Feared. “Exactly. No-one. So suck it up.”
I lick my lips suggestively. “Ok.” Albus seems stunned for a moment, unsure.
Then I twirl my wand suddenly and my non-verbal spell almost gets him, catches him unawares. He leaps aside and it crackles against the opposite wall, all red sparks and hisses. Then Albus glares at me and tries to retaliate, but I dart closer, a technique that I really love using. I’m so close to him that he can barely hold his wand straight; if I took one step forwards we’d be pressed against each other, chest to chest. He looks down at me.
To anyone who didn’t know me, they might think I was a sweet girl; blonde hair, green eyes, pale skin. Angelic, even. But they wouldn’t have noticed the sharp angels of my jaw, the icy gaze, the cruelly pointed cheekbones. It’s like my personality has even taken shape in my physical appearance.
But here’s the thing. I like high places or low places, but just not the in-betweens. For instance, if I was kind, I would be the most loving, caring human being in existence. And because I am selfish and cruel, I aim to be the cruellest and most selfish. I just couldn’t bear to be normal. I need people to understand this. I need this more than I need to breathe, or speak, or eat.
“Got you,” I smile falsely and grip his shirt, ramming him against the wall. I’ve always preferred the old-fashioned methods of violence. Professor Hillings has finally noticed my infringement of acceptable duelling rules and is making his way over to us. But before he can get here, Albus turns the tables again. He breaks my grip, twisting my wand arm so fiercely that I cry out softly. My wand clatters to the floor.
Who cares, I don’t even need it anyway. Instead, I launch myself at him, hands going for his throat. We fall over, his expression still frustratingly unflustered, and I wrench his wand from him, throw it across the room to Roxanne. She doesn’t even try to catch it, laughs, cheers me on. Albus and I are close, closer than I would have liked. He rolls over and grips my arms, so that I’m pinned beneath him. We are vaguely aware of Professor Hillings yelling at us to stop, but everything seems to have zoned out.
“Meet me in the Astronomy Tower tonight,” he breathes quietly against my neck, before jumping up and dusting his trousers down. People are staring at us. While he looks vaguely troubled by it, I just flip them all off, including the Professor, and stalk out the door.
“Detention, both of you!” Hillings bellows.
I ignore him.
Albus wants to meet me in the Astronomy Tower? Was that what the whole duel was about?
The thing that scares me is that for a moment, I actually believe that I am going to go.
It is evening. The light is fading. We’re sitting in the dormitory, Roxanne and I. We’ve locked the other girls out; we do this quite a lot. They’re swearing at us loudly from behind the door. We ignore them though.
“I’m sorry, Lila,” Roxanne says to me tonelessly, but there is a strange spark in her eyes. “I shouldn’t have been so forceful in my attempts to prevent your own eventual self-destruction earlier.” She pulls one of the elastic bands off her wrist and offers it up to me on a pillow, mocking me. “Please, go ahead.”
I resentfully snatch up the band, pissed off with Roxanne for being so derisive. I slide it onto my wrist. It’s soft; I can’t imagine it would even hurt that much. I slowly stretch it out, meeting Roxanne’s gaze. She looks afraid. Afraid of a piece of rubber.
Then I let go and it smacks against the flesh of my wrist and I can almost feel it slicing my hand off, that’s how painful it is. I gasp and clutch my wrist, staring at the angry red mark I now have.
“What the fuck was that?” I choke. “Elastic bands don’t hurt that much, Roxanne Weasley, so you tell me what you have done.”
“A few pain-strengthening spells,” Roxanne smirks.
“Aren’t they illegal?” I grimace.
“And you really enjoy doing this?”
My wrist is still on fire. It’s burning so much, I’m tempted to go and plunge my arm into icy water.
“You get used to it. You come to rely on it, even.”
But no matter how much Roxanne may crave it, I know that this is not the kind of thing I do. Roxanne can do it all she likes, if it helps her. But me, I have to have control over other people. I need to be feared, revered. It is far more effective to take all my anger out on my surroundings than on myself.
“Okay,” I nod and slide the elastic band off my wrist and it drops to the floor. Roxanne glances at the door, which is being battered on by angry teenage girls determined to get to their make-up bags. I can’t remember the last time I wore make-up. Roxanne wears so much that you can forget what her face looks like sometimes. She uses it as a mask.
“Follow me,” I say, and begin to climb out of the window, up to my usual haunt on the rooftop. I like it best at night, or dusk like now, so I can watch the light die. When Roxanne is out too, clinging to the ledge above the window, I unlock the dormitory door with my wand and slam the window shut. By the time the stupid girls come in, Roxanne and I are running across the rooftops. We find a little alcove to sit in quietly. I think about Albus standing all alone in the Astronomy Tower and I smirk. What an idiot he is. As if Lila Brown would ever go to a meeting arranged by someone else.
“You hate everyone so much. Why?” Roxanne asks bluntly.
“Because they’re stupid, that’s why. Stupid and ignorant and shallow. Doesn’t it drive you insane?”
“You can’t blame them, though. You can’t take it out on them.”
“So you think we have to take it out on ourselves, instead?” I frown. “I would rather die knowing that I had at least made some bratty stuck-up girl feel pain, than condemned myself to hurting all my life.”
“Except for the fact,” Roxanne smirks. “That hurting people is technically illegal.”
“Technicalities,” I roll my eyes. “Why should it be illegal? Maybe the world would be less unbearable if everyone knew pain. There’d be more compassion.” I pause. “Or more tolerance of it.”
“Careful. That kind of thinking could start a mass homicide.” Then Roxanne starts to laugh, a crazy, free sound. Her purple hair catching the last vestiges of daylight, turning it lilac. She laughs until she sobs, and I just sit, watching her facial expressions shift and merge. She reminds me of my mother sometimes. The way she looks the most beautiful when she doesn’t quite know what to feel.
I don’t know whether this is good or bad.
a/n: Hi! Hope you like the chapter. If you’re confused about anything, sorry, it’ll hopefully become clear as the story progresses. I forgot to say thank you to TheGoldenKneazle for her extremely valuable help with this story, so thank you lottie, ily! Please review :)
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