Chapter 26 : Confrontations, Enemies of Hogwarts and The New Best Friend
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Albus gulps beside me, but as I step forward and glance at him, I can see anger in his eyes too. Probably Rose’s betrayal- fury is rising inside of me too. Pure hatred and hurt. I feel the bitter sting of betrayal and feel so… alone. Rose and I have fought countless times- neither of us takes any shit from each other and it’s often led to rows. But never has either of us ever done anything like this.
It feels significant. Like it symbolises the end of our friendship.
That’s shocking: even though she said a lot of things, I understood her anger. I get why she’d be angry. And she’s a hormonal pregnant teen. I just figured she’d come around and I’d forgive her.
But she’s gone and done this.
“Rose told you then,” I say, my voice barely above a whisper.
“And the entire common room, I’ll bet,” Albus says bitterly. “Just like Rose to make a scene.”
“Shut up Albus! Don’t say anything against my cousin!” James hisses.
“She’s my cousin too, James,” Albus says, trying to regain the calm attitude he usually has in a crisis.
“AND KATRINA WAS MY GIRLFRIEND!” James explodes and the Fat Lady squeaks in shock.
I do not like the use of the word “was”.
“James, please. Not here. Not here,” I say quietly, my voice imploring.
James turns to face me. His chest is rising and falling rapidly and his breathing is shallow. “Why should I listen to anything you say? Why shouldn’t I shame you? Why should I do anything for you?” he retorts, his voice cracking. My heart aches and I take a moment to reply.
“Because you love me,” I whisper and Albus stiffens beside me.
James stares at me for a few seconds and then closes his eyes for a second. I focus instead on the Fat Lady who is looking intrigued (probably hunting for gossip to giggle with Violet, her friend) but also very uncomfortable.
“Come on,” Albus says quietly. He leads the way down the stairs and I follow him, James bringing up the rear.
I’m too tired for an oo-er moment.
The trip seems to take forever, though that could because of how awkward I am feeling. I can’t help but feel close to tears with every step. Now I’ve seen James, the guilt is just washing over me and I’m drowning in it.
I keep telling myself: It was just a kiss, just a kiss.
Just a kiss.
But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t just a kiss, was it? It was so much more than a kiss. And I so want it just to stay as a kiss, but it can’t. It’s a gateway, that’s what it is. It’s a gateway to pain and confusion and feelings. Feelings I never thought I’d feel.
Now I have to think: what am I going to do?
I have feelings for Albus- how can I stay with James? But, as I look over my shoulder and peer at James, I love James.
I love James.
My heart aches painfully as I see his distraught face- how could I do this to him? I love him, I really do. I may be sixteen, but I know what love is. The thing is, I love Albus too. And the question is, in what way do I love them? And who do I love more?
We reach the Room of Requirement quicker than I would have expected. I suppose I’ve been living inside my own head for the last few minutes, so I didn’t notice time passing. Al walks past three times and closes his eyes. A door appears and Albus opens it and hold it ajar for me and James. James shrugs past him, shoulder barging him in the process.
The room has transformed into a small, classroom like room. A small fire is crackling quietly in the corner, burning dimly. A few chairs are stacked in the corner of the room and I walk toward the stack and pick up one, carrying it towards the fire. For some reason, I feel cold despite the fire. James and Albus mimic me and draw up chairs near the fire. James’ arse barely touches the seat before he’s up again, hand running through his hair like Albus does and hunched over, as if in pain. He turns his back to us and I look into the fire.
The fire’s heat dries my eyes but I continue looking at it. Maybe if I stare at it enough it will roar up and swallow me.
You know what infuriates me? In novels I’d read, I’d hate the love triangles. I’d loathe the whiny girl in the middle who is confused about which fantastically good looking and intelligent and sporty and bloody perfect boy she should pick, both of whom are pining desperately after her, and she acts like her life is oh-so-terrible when it’s really not.
And suddenly, I’m her.
Although James is fantastically good looking, Albus on the other hand is rather gangly and I knew him when he went through his acne phase. Albus is more intelligent of course- James had the brains but not the stamina to use said brains. He is on a steady Acceptable for all his results: something that irritates me is that he just can’t be bothered to work.
I suppose this is more realistic- they’re both flawed, which makes it all the more difficult.
Says the girl who talks to herself in her on head…
“Explain,” James croaks, tearing me from my inner rant.
I catch eyes with Albus and he shrugs, obviously at a loss about what to say.
“It was an accident?” I say weakly. James whirls round and when I see his eyes (little balls of pure fury- I’m not even joking), I wince and a squeak escapes me. I’m sure James is going to explode as he often does in anger. James is very physical when angry- more often than not, Albus tends to be his punching bag (mostly deservedly as Albus winds James up nearly every day) and shouts a lot. Albus is more of the quiet hissing, the really terrifying glare. Though, when he’s really wound up he, like James (and Ginny tells me like his father), explodes.
I’m on tenterhooks to see who explodes first.
(And just to clarify, I do not literally mean explode as in combustion. I mean it as their fury explodes out of them. It would be very messy if it was the former.)
And when I’m panicky/angry/sad I lock myself in my own head and overthink. Oh wait, I do that all the time…
“James, we didn’t mean to hurt you,” Albus says softly. His voice is gentle and you can hear the earnest tones.
“Why do it then? I don’t- I just don’t understand!” James looks anguished and he struggles to get his words out. He opens his mouth but no sounds come and he tears at his hair: he looks crazed. “Explain.” He repeats. Neither me nor Albus say a word, at a loss.
“I SAID EXPLAIN! I DESERVE AN EXPLANATION!” James roars and I flinch in fright. He looks sorry for that and shrinks backwards.
“It just happened. We didn’t plan it. And it was only the once. James, you know I wouldn’t have deliberately done it. You know I regret it all,” I whisper and I bring my legs up to my chest.
James nods slowly and I realise he is trying to be calm. He turns away again and paces from a few minutes. We stay absolutely silent so the only sound is the sharp tapping on James’ shoes on the stone floor and our heavy breathing.
“You said you regret it all. What exactly do you regret? Do you regret the kiss? Or your decision to date me?” James says clearly, his voice carrying over to us. He words seem to physically hurt me and I feel winded.
Why? Because I don’t know.
The obvious thing to say was the kiss. But that would be a lie. James doesn’t deserve another lie. I regret the kiss but I don’t: it was the wrong time, the wrong moment but I can’t deny that I have wanted that to happen for so long.
I don’t regret agreeing to be James’ girlfriend. Because, I have learned to love him. But at the same time, I can’t help thinking that if I’d said no, I would never have gotten into this mess. I might have had a clear shot with Albus, no complications.
But Albus had a girlfriend, and no apparent feelings for me. A nagging thought is brought forward: do I even know if Albus had feelings for me before he became jealous of James and I? Is it just jealousy and wanting to have control.
No, that’s not Albus. Is it?
“I don’t know, James. I honestly don’t know. I can’t see how anything could’ve been avoided and I don’t know what I would change if I could,” I answer slowly and deliberately. I want to be honest, to show James I do care.
James looks at me and he looks hurt. But then he murmurs, “Thank you for being honest.”
“Do you like my brother?” James asks. He sounds fearful: scared of the answer. He still hopes it was all a mistake but fears the answer he already knows it will be.
I look and Albus and he gazes straight back. I nod, “Yes. I’m so sorry,” and my voice cracks. I don’t know exactly who I am apologizing to: James or Albus or perhaps both and every Wotter involved, I don’t know.
“I thought it’d pass. I thought it was a kiddie crush and I really liked you. But I could never squash the feelings and they’ve just got stronger e-”
“Even when we were going out,” James says flatly.
“Even when we were going out,” I confirm sadly.
“Do you like me?” James asks. My heart twists at his voice: he sounds like a small child, scared and lost.
“So, so much,” I whisper honestly. Albus looks pained, though I’m not sure whether it’s at my declaration of “love” for James or his worry for his brother.
“And Albus?” James says thickly and Al twitches his head up to look at his brother.
“Do you like Kat?”
“More than anything,” Albus answers, his voice barely above a whisper.
“Why did you make a move on my girlfriend? Why did you have to fall in love with her? Why couldn’t you be happy with your own girlfriend?!” James shouts suddenly and it echoes around the room.
Albus stands up just as suddenly, propelling his chair backwards. Both have their wands at the ready. I too leap up, wand in my back pocket and my hand stationed to grab it.
“You knew I liked her! YOU KNEW! And you still kept planning all these things, making the entire family support you!” Albus cried angrily.
“Why did you get a girlfriend then, you prick! Why not make a move on Kat before I asked her to be my girlfriend?” James screams, his knuckles white as he grips his wand.
“Because you’re my brother!” Albus retaliates, shouting louder than ever.
James blinks and lowers his wand; the atmosphere seems to become less tense. Seeing James lower his wand, Albus pockets his own.
“What?” James murmurs.
“You’re my brother. Family always comes first. You liked her and I didn’t think I had a shot with Kat, so I backed off. I figured you could make it work,” Albus says, sounding embarrassed and I watch the tips of his ears go red. This is as close as they ever get to saying, “I love you” to each other. Albus continues, “I never meant to hurt you like this James, you know I wouldn’t. But I really like her. And I’m sorry.”
James nods and finally pockets his wand. I drop my protective stance and let my arm hang loosely by my side. He looks at me and I just look back, straight into his eyes. Then he drags his eyes away.
“I’m sorry I pushed you away Al,” he mutters as he turns to look at his brother, looking just as uncomfortable as Albus.
I am currently half expecting them to pull each other into a man hug and have a little cry together. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?
“And I’m not mad,” James continues and smiles wryly at our disbelieving expressions. “Okay, maybe a little. I get why you did it and you didn’t do it to spite me. I put my foot in it and it was all just… no-one’s fault. It’s out of our control. But I need time-”
“We all do,” I butt in quietly and he nods solemnly.
“We all need time to figure out what happens now. So if I’m a complete prick to you for a while, it’s my way of coping,” and again he smiles. “I might regret not yelling and punching a bit more.”
“Here, here,” Albus mutters.
“But… just back of for a while. I need space.” And with that, James turns on his heels and leaves the room.
Albus and I stand still for a few seconds more as we see the door swing shut behind him.
“This family has a lot of confrontations,” I state, half-jokingly, half serious.
I slept in the Room of Requirement that night. I walked out of it and then re-entered, telling it to re-form into a dormitory. It was just like my normal one, and it had fresh robes laid out on a chair next to the bed and a bathroom with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
After much deliberating (when James and Albus had left), I decided that I couldn’t face Rose or anyone’s accusing glares.
I got ready for bed, feeling very sombre, and lay in the bed for hours. I couldn’t sleep- my brain just wouldn’t shut off and let me relax. I kept replaying the day’s events over and over, letting the feelings of anger and bitterness wash over me.
I eventually fell in to light sleep. Admittedly, I dreamt some odd things (Rose kept transforming into a Blast-Ended Screwt and back) and awoke early. I dressed, brushed my hair and teeth (not with the same brush as the sentence may suggest) and now I head to breakfast.
As soon as I walk in, the Hall bursts out into whispers. Out of the corner of my eye, I see people swapping galleons whilst murmuring, “I told you they wouldn’t last four months!”
I ignore them and walk forwards, towards the Gryffindor table. I spot the Wotter gang and, out of habit, make a move to head to them. Then I spot Rose’s small smirk and Dom’s steely glare. As soon as they see me move, Lily grabs her bag and dumps in onto the free seat next to her, deliberately stopping me from sitting with them. James, meanwhile, is concentrating on his breakfast, looking miserable and working hard to try and look casual and not look up. All down the table, people start piling their bags onto free seats or putting their legs up across free spaces, so I can’t sit near them.
A friend of the Wotters is a friend of Hogwarts. And an enemy of the Wotters is an enemy of Hogwarts.
Blinking back the tears that suddenly threaten to spill, I walk to the other side of the table where there are a load of empty seats. I sit at the very end, as far away from everyone as possible. I grab one piece of toast and chew on it morosely. I’m desperately trying not look pathetic or bothered- after all, wasn’t this the reason I decided to have breakfast in the hall?- to show I’m stronger than that. I swallow each bite of toast, though it’s difficult. I feel sick and I can sense everyone’s gazes on my back.
I hate being looked at for good things (it makes me uncomfortable), never mind being glared at.
I manage to swallow another piece of toast. I want to look up and search for Albus but I daren’t in case I catch anybody’s eye. I didn’t spot him with the others before, and the hall hasn’t broken out into furtive whispers as I suppose they would if he walked in. He must be skipping breakfast.
I wish I was.
After I finish my second piece of toast, I get up and silently walk out of the hall, ignoring the looks and whispers. I walk straight up to the Common Room and walk past the crowds of people and collect my books and bag from the dormitory. I pile them into my bag quickly, planning on making a quick escape and arriving to Transfiguration early.
I’m about to leave when Camilla Vane walks in. Although we’ve shared a dormitory for years, we’ve never really seen eye to eye. To be callous, I’ve always thought she was a bit of a slag.
But hey, I have the pregnant best friend- I guess in some people’s book, Rose qualifies as a slut.
Best friend? Ha.
I stand there awkwardly, waiting for her to move out of the doorway.
“So you snogged Al Potter?” she says in her high pitched voice. It isn’t accusatory but I am on guard immediately.
“So what?” I snap.
She shrugs. “I’m not judging. I’ve done worse.”
I do not doubt that, Camilla.
“I saw you sitting alone at breakfast,” she says quietly.
I frown, unsure why she is saying this. “Didn’t everyone?”
She smiles slightly. “I suppose. Everyone is bitching about you, you know.”
“Thank you for letting me know that, Camilla,” I say sarcastically.
“I don’t think that’s right. And I think it was really fucking bitchy of Rose to tell James. You seem like a nice girl, you would have told him, right?” Camilla rushes on.
I nod in reply.
“I mean, I don’t get why she did it. I bet you had a fight, but oh Merlin, what a fucking cow. Especially since you’ve told nobody about her pregnancy!” she continues, her voice still quiet.
You know what? She has a bloody point there! I have sacrificed so much for Rose about this pregnancy and-
“How the hell do you know Rose is pregnant!” I cry. Then I shake my head. “I mean… What would give you the impression that Rose is pregnant?”
Act natural, Katrina.
Camilla rolls her eyes. “Why are you still protecting her? If I was you, I’d be telling everyone. But whatever. And I’ve known for ages. You and Rose were talking about it before Christmas, in the middle of the night. I don’t appreciate being called a skank, by the way,” Camilla tells me, eyebrows raised.
I rack my brains and suddenly I recall waking Rose up early in the morning to talk to her about baby. “It was you! That was what I saw when I thought I’d seen someone move!”
“Yeah, yeah, that was me. Don’t worry, I haven’t told anyone and won’t do. I’m a fucking good secret keeper. If it was me, I’d want someone to stay quiet if they found out,” she explains. I’ve noticed she swears. A lot.
“Thank you. I appreciate it. I know you think I’m mental for protecting her, but she was still my family. I’m not going to sink to her level,” I tell Camilla. She smiles and I find myself returning it.
“I’m going to be blunt here, but you looked fucking pathetic and lonely this morning. And I’m on your side for this because, well I don’t even fucking know, I just feel bad for you. And you’ve always been nice. So you’re going to sit with me and the girls at lunch and dinner. Show them lot you don’t need them,” Camilla yaks, talking very quickly (and very bluntly!).
“Bu-” I begin to say.
“No fucking buts. You’re sitting with us, okay? And I’ll walk to class with you now,” Camilla interrupts, though she says it kindly.
“Thanks,” I mutter, completely taken by surprise.
She holds the door open for me and I walk through it. “Sorry we called you skanks.”
“Whatever. Sorry for calling you a frigid nerd,” she says, sounding genuinely sorry.
I never knew she called me that. Hm.
“Even?” I say.
“Yeah. Call me Milla, by the way, I fucking hate Camilla,” she says as we walk down the stairs.
“Kat,” I return.
“Hm, I don’t like it. I prefer Kati!”
Just as I’ve lost friends, I appear to have made one.
A very weird one.
A/N Eh up! Quick update, dramatic chapter! Quite a long one, yes? I had such good fun writing this- I’ve had it planned out for sooo long!
Introducing Milla: a new character. I hope you guys like her- we’ll seeing plenty of her. Excuse her foul language and her blunt manner of speaking, but she means well. She’s such fun to write :) I was surprised no-one ever picked up on the hint that someone was eavesdropping! Remember? Chapter 12? “I see some sort of movement in the corner of the room, by the door. I frown and crane my neck at it. I’m sure the door was completely closed before... No, just my imagination. Rose hasn’t noticed anything.”
IT WAS HER! I was rather proud of my subtlety!
I hope you enjoyed it! Please leave a review and keep reading!
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