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My Great Escape by erised19
Chapter 12 : Run, Rest, Recover, Repeat
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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Happy new year, enjoy this chapter :) X




I could not have been more wrong. There is literally not one conceivable scenario in which I could have predicted anything less accurate than maybe tomorrow won’t be so bad.

As soon as I started running, my lungs shrunk to the size of grapes and my throat all but refused to take in oxygen, not to mention the stabbing pains in my ankles and knees. The green grass and cool breeze turned into a harsh desert and a hot wind, and now I find myself sprawled out on the grass right outside the main entrance to the castle, borderline hyperventilating. James is standing over me, looking as though he’s torn between starting CPR and running to find someone who will. I’m sure that anyone who might be watching us would be finding it all absolutely, side-splittingly hilarious, but I’m in so much pain that I can’t fully appreciate the humour of the situation.

“You said-” gasp, “it would-” gasp, “get easier,” I rasp.                                    
“Did I?” James asks, his eyebrows pulling together. I roll my eyes.
“Help me up,” I say, holding my hands out to him. He ignores them, however, and opts with I’ll just use my inhuman strength to lift her right off the ground and carry her into the castle. 

“You’re carrying me.” I start to panic, flailing my arms around in the hope that he’ll put me down.
“You can’t walk.”
“You didn’t let me try.”

We both remain silent for a minute as he continues to carry me toward the common room. Bridal style. It’s degrading, really.

“Okay. Put me down,” I say decisively.
“We’re already half way.”

I just know he won’t give in and I think if I jumped from his arms I would probably end up with a broken arm, so I huff out a defeated sigh.

“For the record, I don’t agree with this,” I mutter lamely and he laughs. “Seriously,” I go on, “If I thought I had enough strength to hex you, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

He laughs again and I sigh because he looks really good from this angle. Gah.

When we finally arrive in the common room James lowers me onto the couch and I thank God we didn’t see anyone on our way up. That would have been difficult to explain.

*

“Harmony, why is James carrying you like that?”
“Because I think I might be having some kind of stroke right now.”
“No, it’s because she loves it.”
“Shut up, James. I’m having a stroke.”
“You’re just saying that so I won’t put you down.”
“I am not. Don’t walk away innocent passerby, I’m dying here!”
“Don’t pretend like you’re not enjoying this.”
“Dying!
Dying, James!”
“How did you get this unfit anyway?”
“It’s because all I do is read. I’m a nerd, not an athlete. Just let me be a nerd.”

 

*

James clears his throat and I’m distracted from the horrific daydream.

“Well, I’m going to shower,” he says. He’s still kind of hovering over me and I wish he wouldn’t because I’m embarrassed enough as it is. “If you need some kind of medical help, just shout really loudly.” I roll my eyes as he runs up toward the bathroom.

I sit up, groaning as the pain skyrockets, and dig the bases of my palms into my eyes.

“I need to learn how to knit.”

**************

As painful as it is, I drag myself through the day, feeling the full effects of this morning’s run with each step I take. James keeps asking me - loudly and in front of people - if I have some genetic heart disorder, and I refuse to laugh at his lame attempts at humour. Honestly, it stopped being funny the third time he said it and he totally crossed a line when he told his various family members and friends to be prepared for a situation in which I might inexplicably collapse.

I manage to get all of my homework done before dinner, at which time April falls into the seat opposite me and immediately engages me in a conversation about the surprise party she and Fred are organising for James next month.

“It’ll be in the Room, of course,” she says. “Fred and I have written up a rough list of people to invite and so far we’re at, like, three hundred and fifty. So obviously we need to cut that down some.”
“Yeah,” I say, shocked. “Obviously.”

Seriously, though. Does James actually have three hundred and fifty friends? That’s like… a small village.

“And we’re thinking of having a theme, like, I don’t know, the eighties, or something. Would that be weird?” I raise an eyebrow.
“The eighties? Yes,” I tell her flatly. “That would be weird.”
“Yeah, that’s what Fred thinks. But I don’t know, maybe it would be fun, you know? For everyone to dress up and all.”

I nod, thinking.

“Well, if you could come up with something a little less… fluorescent,” I muse. Suddenly Fred slides into the seat next to me and leans forward conspiratorially, capturing my attention immediately. I don’t even have time to recall the exact moment Fred and I reached speaking terms before he starts speaking, so I figure I’ll just run with it.

“Right,” he says. “So far Dom, Al, Dart, Lily, Rosie, you and I are the only people who know about the party.”
“Won’t he figure it out?” I interject. “I mean, won’t he sort of be expecting this?”
“No,” Fred replies confidently. “He’s said all year that he just wants a quiet one with the family for the big one seven, so he thinks we’re just going to have dinner at Hogsmeade or something.”

Well, damn. I would never have picked James as the quiet one with the family type.

“Oh, and you’re in, right?” April asks. “I mean, you’re at the top of the list; I just assumed you’d be there for sure.”
“Well, yeah,” I reply. “Yeah, I’ll be there.” Assuming that there isn’t some obscure theme that would require me to dress up as a mutant, but I think that goes without saying.
“Course she will,” Fred laughs, nudging me with his elbow. “Went to Freddie’s famous start of term and everything. Wouldn’t miss Jimmy’s party, would you?”
“I suppose not,” I say simply, not rising to his bait. “Do you always talk about yourself in the third person?”

He doesn’t answer because we’re interrupted by a loud scuffle across the room at the Slytherin table. We look over in time to see Albus storming from the Hall, his shoulders hunched over, glowering at everything as he leaves. James appears out of nowhere and places his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder but Al shoves him away, mutters something we can’t hear, and doesn’t look back on his way out. James jogs after him.

“Shit,” April breathes. I follow her gaze to where Al was sitting just thirty seconds ago. Of course, it’s impossible to see exactly what’s going on from this distance, but it looks as though Scorpius is absolutely ripping into the girl sitting next to him. He’s talking at her so fast, waving his arms around occasionally and successfully attracting the attention of most of the students in the Hall, even though only the people sitting close to them have a hope of hearing anything.

The girl sits there and takes it, her lips pursed and her brow furrowed, until another guy grabs Scorp’s arm and pulls him up, dragging him away from the table. At this point the girl, whose name I don’t know, points at Scorp and snaps something that makes him lunge forward like he actually wants to tear her throat out with his teeth, but the other boy hauls him back and walks him out of the Hall. There’s a long moment of very heavy silence before everyone starts talking again.

“Who is that?” I ask Fred quietly, my eyes glued to the girl.
“Sarah Hawthorne,” he murmurs, his voice as low as mine as he frowns at her. She looks furious; I can practically see a vein jumping in her forehead. “Al’s girlfriend. A right bitch if you ask… well, if you ask anyone.”

Based on my knowledge and understanding of Albus Potter, this doesn’t really fit. He strikes me as a genuinely good person, though somewhat overly boisterous at times. Why he would want to go out with this girl is beyond me. I stare at this Sarah character for a while longer, contemplating the peculiar ways of people, then shake my head clear and push back from the table.

“I’m going to turn in early,” I tell April and Fred. “Keep me posted about the party.” They nod and smile and I leave them, heading straight to the common room. My thoughts are stuck with Al and Scorp and Sarah because I can’t help but worry that there is something wrong and even though they couldn’t really be considered my friends, but in the last couple of weeks we’ve become acquainted and it’s triggering all sorts of weird emotions from me. Of course, it isn’t my place to speculate, so I try not to.


When I push open the door to the common room I hear voices, but they stop immediately and I walked tentatively into the room. Al sits on the couch while James sits in an arm chair. Al looks miserable. James looks exasperated. I offer them something of a smile.

“Sorry,” I say. “I’m just heading up.”
“Don’t worry,” Al replies, standing. “I was just leaving.” James stands too and I’m not sure if I should scamper upstairs or stay down here and watch this play out.
“I’m not done talking about this,” James says authoritatively, but it’s lost on Al for the younger boy rolls his eyes and waves at me on his way out.

I clear my throat awkwardly and James throws himself onto the couch, his feet hanging over one end. He flings his arms over his face. I clear my throat again.

“Is everything okay?”
“No.” His voice is muffled by his arms.
“Is there anything I can do?” He sits up, sighing heavily.
“No. Don’t worry about it.” I sit down in an armchair and watch him, bewildered. He seems properly distressed - eyebrows pulled together, mouth turned down at the sides, staring at the carpet. And for some reason I don’t want him to be upset - James is always that funny guy, that smiley guy, he’s not supposed to frown or sigh like he is. For a while neither of us speaks but for some reason I stay, because I feel like he wants to talk. Eventually, he does.

“He’s my brother, right?”
“Yes,” I say slowly, not sure where exactly this is going.
“And I’m supposed to look out for him, right?”
“Well, yeah.”
“And I’m trying to, right?”
“Well, I mean, yeah.”

God. I’m so wonderfully articulate these days.

“Then why won’t he let me?” I flinch a little as he talks loud and fast and waves his arms around. “His girlfriend is actually psychotic, I’m not even joking. She’s mad as a snake. I practically begged him to break up with her last summer because he’s been so depressed and it’s pretty damn obvious that it’s because of her, but he won’t even hear it.”

This is a lot to take in. My brain works double time in order to process everything he says.

“And if there’s one person in the world he should be able to talk to, it’s me, right? I’m his brother, for Merlin’s sake!” I nod slowly. “Have I ever given him a reason not to trust me?” I take a deep breath and think hard before I open my mouth to speak. I sure as hell don’t want to make a bad situation worse by saying something stupid.

“Well, I don’t know,” I begin slowly. “Maybe he’s so worried about whatever he’s going through that he doesn’t think you can help him with it.” Based on experience, this seems like a legitimate conclusion to draw.

“What could possibly be that bad?”

Does he want me to write a list, or something?

I frown because even though that obviously wasn’t directed at me, it hurts because it’s more than relevant to my personal situation.

“Okay, that was a stupid thing to say,” he backtracks quickly. “Sorry. But I would be willing to do almost anything for that kid.” He drops his head and I’m pretty sure my heart is melting. I think those are the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard James say.
“Maybe you need to tell him that,” I suggest. It doesn’t seem as though this thought has ever crossed his mind because he nods slowly and his eyebrows pull together again, this time in confusion.

“What, right now?” I shrug and nod. James stands and gets halfway to the door before turning back to me, pointing and grinning widely. “Good talk, Harmony. Thanks.” I return his smile and he jogs from the room.

Bloody hell. James Potter is so adorable; it’s getting harder and harder to distance myself from him.

The rational part of my brain, which has always been the dominant part, says it’s absolutely vital for James and me to maintain a strictly working relationship and to have nothing more to do with each other than our assigned duties. However, the other part of my brain, which I usually repress and ignore, says that James is a really sweet, kind person and that those are the kind of people I need in my life right now. Even though sometimes I want to break each and every one of his fingers because occasionally he turns into this raging insensitive prick, for the most part he seems genuine and good. And so do his friends.

When I was in Mungo’s, one of the things they kept telling me was that I needed to open up to people. That I needed to have a close friend or two that I could talk to about my stuff. At the time, I had far too much on my plate to really take in anything the doctors told me. Anyway, they were complete strangers who literally knew nothing about me. Literally. Nothing. I never told them that the reason for my attempted suicide was enduring years of physical abuse from my step-father and it never would have occurred to my mother to tell them the truth. The doctors didn’t know me and therefore their advice seemed obsolete and invalid. Most of it was, of course.

Now, however, I’m coming round to the idea of having friends. Which must be a good sign. I’m not as cold as I used to be. I’m not as lonely or as isolated. I don’t feel that terrible, all-consuming hopelessness as often as I used to. Maybe this is what they meant when they said recovery.

I close my eyes and lean back into the chair, deciding that even though it’s a bit scary and foreign, I need to take risks with people. I need to stick my neck out; put in the effort. I need to go shopping with Dom and April on Saturday and I need to be open and friendly and liked.

Right now, though, I need to lie down. My brain hurts from all the thinking, not to mention I’m still in pain from this morning’s run and I desperately need some good healing time, in bed. 



I know it's been like two months and I really am sorry. I've just had so much going on - exams, then the end of the school year, Christmas, and I've been away over New Years and such, and when I wasn't busy I was asleep. Anyway, I really hope this chapter was worth the wait. School goes back this week so I don't know how long it will be before the next update. Please review and tell me what you think, what you want to happen plot-wise, what you think of the characters, what you think of my writing. And if you're getting impatient or whatever just tell me to update. Thanks :) X



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