Chapter 13 : Almost
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An hour and four shots later, I was making out on the dance floor with Charlie. I was, at the moment, still classier than Abigail, who was groping Anders on top of the bar, and Amelie and Alexandria, who were now gallivanting around in their knickers stealing people’s drinks. Miles was in a corner sulking, and Coralie was effectively ignoring Griffon while she played strip Exploding Snap.
I dug my fingernails into Charlie’s back as he slowly ran his hands up and down my sides and kissed him fervently, trying to get as close to him as possible. He’d had five shots, so between the pair of us, we were very, very pissed. I barely noticed when Charlie picked me up and wrapped my arms and legs around him, only taking note when we were outside of the classroom because the lighting was different and there was a lack of music.
He rested me against the wall and snogged me briefly before stumbling the two of us up a staircase to the fifth floor.
“We’re going to get caught,” I giggled, trying and failing to whisper.
Charlie grinned. “No we’re not, all of the prefects are at the party.”
This caused us to break out into giggles and we slapped our hands over each other’s mouths.
“Shhh,” I shouted. More laughter.
He set me down outside of the portrait that led to the prefect’s bathroom. “What’s the password?” Charlie slurred.
“It’s uh, no wait that’s not it…lilypatterns? Lilypher? Oh, OH! LILYPADS!” I clapped my hands over my mouth after my yell echoed off the walls. Charlie hurriedly shoved me inside.
The moment the portrait shut behind us his lips were on mine again, hot and smoldering. He tore off my vest and I kicked off my boots. My sunglasses and hairband had been lost at the party after the third shot. Charlie’s hat fell to the floor, clanking loudly as he took off his own boots.
I pushed him into the shower, still clad in my dress, and the water turned on automatically. The icy water against my burning skin and lips created a tingling sensation that sent a shiver down my spine. Very gradually, breathing labored, Charlie peeled off my dress, revealing my red, lacy thong.
“Oh, Cadence,” he whispered shakily, and suddenly his mouth was everywhere. I could feel him very prominently through his boxers – where had his shorts gone?
All of a sudden, I snapped back to reality. I was mostly naked, displaying every flaw on my body, in a shower, with a mostly naked male. And we were both extremely intoxicated.
“Charlie, we need to stop.”
I ran my hand through my hair as I tried to think clearly. I located my wand, which had clattered to the floor and rolled underneath a sink, and performed a drying spell on my dress so that I could put it on again. Slowly, I placed my feet into my boots, afraid to look at him. I stayed where I was, back up against a wall, sitting on the ground while my breathing lessened.
He slid down next to me, still sopping wet. “Are you all right?” Charlie asked lowly. His eyes were dark.
“Yeah,” I replied shakily. “Are you?”
It was silent for a moment and every droplet of water that splashed to the tile made me cringe. “Yeah,” he said finally.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered tearfully. “I’m just not ready.”
Charlie turned to me. “Cadence it’s not you that I’m upset with!” he said in alarm. “I’m angry with myself, for letting it get that far.”
“You still like me, right?” If I weren’t drunk, that never would have come out of my mouth.
He grabbed my hand. “Of course! Trust me, we would not have been doing that if I didn’t fancy the absolute shite out of you.”
Eventually, we sobered up enough to make the walk back to the common room. Once inside, I gave him an awkward hug and made my way up to my bed. To no surprise, it was empty, so I removed my makeup and clothes and curled up under the covers. Why wouldn’t my brain stop thinking about what almost happened?
Thanks to Amelie’s hangover potion, I was settled into a chair in the common room at 10am, reading a biography about one of my favorite dancers. I turned my attention in interest to Miles who was approaching Amelie cautiously, as though she were a wild animal about to attack.
“Amelie?” he spoke timidly.
She looked as though she was going to argue, but instead she sighed and motioned for him to sit.
“I know I screwed things up pretty badly, and you have every right to be upset with me, and I know that forgiveness is probably a long way off, but I was hoping that maybe…we could try being friends?”
My book fell to the ground and their attention shot over to me. “Sorry! Er, carry on then.”
Amelie gave me wide eyes. ‘What do I do?’
I returned the look. ‘Do you miss him?’
She sighed again. “All right, I suppose we could give that a go. But no staring at my arse,” Amelie warned him after a beat.
“I hold no promises,” Miles joked, breaking out into a glorious grin. Amelie laughed and he raced off. “I’ve got to get to quidditch practice, but you won’t regret this, I swear! I’ll be the best friend ever!”
Charlie’s quidditch team had the most amount of younger players; therefore, the day after a huge party, his team had the largest amount of non-hung-over players, giving him prime pitch time. He had earnestly explained this strategy to me in the library on Wednesday. He thought he was such a genius. I smirked fondly in my head.
“Well, that was an interesting turn of events,” I said as I tucked my legs up underneath me.
Amelie moved to sit on the arm of my chair. “Yeah, well, he helped Alex and I find our clothes last night, so I figure if he was making an effort then I could too.”
“What a gentleman,” I teased. “Come on, let’s go do something crazy like paint our toenails.”
She snorted and stood. “Ooh, watch out Hogwarts, wild woman on the loose!”
“I believe that was you last night!” I touched my thumb to my bum and made a sizzling sound. “The girl is on fire!”
The common room was not amused by our antics and we made a hasty exit to our dormitory. Just like the good old days.
Monday morning came much too soon, and it was back to the daily grind. This meant getting various items, including but not limited to shoes, knickers, mascara, and tampons thrown at my head when I returned from dancing and woke up my dorm mates.
Two large owls flew overhead and nearly collided as they each delivered a letter, one to me and one to Amelie.
“You first,” she said gleefully after opening hers.
“No you!” I cried. My hands were shaking.
She looked back down to her letter. “Okay, okay, okay. It’s from my dad. He cancelled the trip to Germany so that he could spend the hols with me! I bet Marguerite’s sooo angry!”
I hugged her. “That’s great Ames! And that’s actually kind of perfect because…I just found out that I made it to the finals of the Youth America Grand Prix.” My voice was hollow with disbelief. When I, along with 5,000 other ballet hopefuls had entered the world’s largest ballet competition, I never in my life thought that I would make it to New York City. Only 200 prospects made it to the finals, and only 50 were chosen for my division.
Amelie’s mouth dropped open in shock. “That’s fantastic Cadsy! Now I can say that my best friend is one of the greatest dancers in the world! I mean, people from all over compete for this, right?”
I laughed and blushed, but when I looked over at Charlie, who was sitting down the table with Miles, Anders, and Abigail, my smile faded. What was I going to tell him? I wouldn’t be able to see him at all over the break, not even on Christmas. I would be across an entire ocean.
“Hey, I’m heading to Potions now. Are you coming?” Amelie snapped me out of my reverie.
I shook my head clear and grabbed my satchel. “Yeah, I’m coming.”
For the rest of the day, I was in a complete fog. When Coralie suggested I skip the chicken in my salad at lunch, it barely registered. When I failed a quiz in Runes I didn’t care. I was too confused and torn between being ecstatic and guilty. It was a strange sensation. He would be happy for me right? But he had been talking non-stop about how much fun the holidays would be because we had each other this year, and all of the things we could do. I was supposed to meet his family.
“I’ve got to head out to the pitch now, but we can work on the Transfig assignment after, yeah?” Charlie pecked me on the cheek and departed from the common room, tossing one last smile my way before the portrait closed behind him.
Never in my life had I been so grateful for quidditch. It bought me at least two hours to sort myself out. Deciding to have another brief dance session to ease my mind, I changed and headed for my usual classroom, stopping just around the corner from it when I heard shouts.
“I feel like I’m investing more into this relationship than you!”
“You’re not! I told everyone about us, didn’t I?” rebutted a familiar voice.
There was a sigh followed by the sound of something heavy being dropped on the ground. “Yeah, and the only reason you did is so you could get some sort of revenge on Giles or Lyles or whatever his name is.”
“Miles,” Amelie said coldly. “His brother is named Giles.”
“Whatever, point being, you don’t really want to be with me,” Alexandria spoke sadly.
After a moment of silence, I heard the sound of kissing and winced slightly. I couldn’t help it. “Hey now, don’t think like that! I fancy you, all right? I like spending time with you. Come on Lexi, let’s go down to the kitchens and get some hot chocolate.”
I waited for their footsteps to fade before I rounded the corner and entered the classroom. I didn’t know what to make of the situation. I wanted Amelie to be happy, but at this point I couldn’t tell if it was Miles or Alexandria who made her so. Should I stay out of it? Or should I push for what would truly make her happy? Times like this I wished there was some sort of written book with rules about this kind of situation.
Without wasting another moment, I turned on the music and launched myself into a variation that I had in my repertoire from competitions past; Aurora’s variations from Act II of Sleeping Beauty. I needed to escape, if only for a little while.
Some girls wanted to dance as Clara in the Nutcracker, some wanted the lead in Don Quixote, most wanted to be Odette in Swan Lake, but not me. My dream role has always been in Sleeping Beauty. It’s a very underrated ballet. While the story line isn’t as suited for dance as the others, the variations in and of themselves are very challenging and beautiful.
This was going to be my audition for the Finals. I was allowed up to two and a half minutes and I was going to use every second. After an exhausting session where I felt like little progress had been made thanks to my overflowing mind, I made my way back to Gryffindor tower. One long, scalding hot shower later, I was curled up by the fire, one of Charlie’s sweaters on and using a contraption my step-father had made for me so that I could stretch the arch of my foot. It was quite painful.
“Hey gorgeous-what in the hell are you doing?” Charlie stopped short as he entered the common room, sweaty and pink-cheeked from practice.
“I’m stretching the arch of my foot so that I can make it higher.” My voice was constricted in pain.
He settled beside me and frowned. “Cadence, that’s obviously hurting you. You should stop.”
I shook my head. “You go until you can’t go any longer, and then you do twenty more seconds.”
“Well, I can’t sit here any longer and watch you in pain, so I’m going to shower and I’ll be back, all right love?” with another peck on the cheek, he disappeared up the steps.
I grimaced and switched feet. By the time he came back down the stairs, the arch-stretcher was back in my dormitory and my feet were immersed in buckets of ice water.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cringe,” Charlie said with a sigh as he leaned over the back of the couch. “Just when I think you can’t get any crazier or dedicated, you do something like this.”
Shaking my feet out for a few moments, I turned around to look at him. “Charlie, I need to talk to you.”
“You’re not breaking up with me are you Cadence?” he joked as he hopped over the couch and sat down.
I smiled. “No, that’s not it. It’s about dance…and Winter Break.”
Charlie’s grin faded. “You’re not going somewhere, are you?”
He just made this infinitely harder to say. “Last spring, I went to Belgium to audition for a competition called the Youth America Grand Prix. It’s the world’s largest and most prestigious ballet competition. 5,000 people entered. 1,000 were selected to continue on in the competition in the semi-finals, which happened in August. I got a letter in the mail today that announced that I’ve made it to the finals, in America.”
“Cadence, that’s fantastic! I’m so proud of you!” Charlie exclaimed, kissing me on the lips. “That explains why you were absent from classes for a week last term as well.”
I bit my lower lip. “Yeah…and thanks Char,” I murmured with a smile. “The thing is, it takes place from December 26th to January 9th. And since I live out of the country, I’ll be leaving on the 23rd to get myself settled in.”
He let out a long breath and leaned back, lost in thought. “What happens if you win this competition?”
“Oh Charlie it’s life changing,” I gushed. “There are job contracts to be won, scholarships up to nearly 30,000 pounds, past winners have gone on to be principal dancers –the best ones- of companies, and have such successful careers.”
Charlie gently pulled my legs into his lap and began to massage my feet. I hissed in relief. “Well, if it’s that important, I’d be hard-pressed to be upset about you leaving. Besides, it’s only for two weeks. Tell you what? Sometime over Easter break you can come over for dinner and meet my family.”
“You are perfect,” I said as I leaned over to give him a thorough kiss. “Seriously. You’re the greatest.”
He smirked and began to knead the bottoms of my feet. “Tell me something I don’t know sweetheart. Now, onto more pressing issues, why are your toes all taped up?”
I grinned wickedly and peeled back the tape. “Blisters, see? Aren’t they totally yummy?”
“Oh Merlin that’s horrid! Get these freak shows off of me,” Charlie grimaced, pulling his hands back from my feet. Blood and pus oozed out of the popped blisters, while some others just pulsed angrily. Half of my toenails were black from where they had been bruised, and some had blood embedded in them from when I had forgotten to trim them and then gone up on my toes.
“See why I always wear socks?” I wiggled my nasty feet in his face before dipping them back into the ice buckets.
His face was priceless. “Eurgh, why do you dance if you have to deal with all of this shite?”
I paused for a moment, trying to think of how to phrase it. “When I dance, I’m not just moving. I see colors. I can hear the movements. When I’m performing, it’s such a rush. I also love trying to shoot for perfection. Plus, you know, the glittery tutus aren’t bad either,” I grinned, resting my head on his shoulder.
“So even though you have to stick your bleeding, aching feet in death contraptions and ice baths, and you have to spend holidays away from your family, you still love it? That’s dedication if I ever saw it.” Charlie absentmindedly pushed some hair back away from my face.
I used my wand to turn the water to a scalding temperature. “15 years, 4 foot and knee injuries, and 27 pairs of toe shoes later, it’s still the only thing I ever picture in my future.”
“Well…what about me? Do you picture me in your future now?” One thing I liked about Charlie was how unafraid he was to ask these sorts of questions.
He could still make me blush horrifically though. “I do believe that you’re penciled in for at least a bit in the future,” I joked.
“Oi you!” he said, whacking me with a pillow. Of course I whacked him back, and soon it was an all-out war. Sometimes, I truly enjoyed my life.
The next morning at breakfast, I was greeted not by an owl with the most fantastic news since Celestina Warbeck had a vocal injury and couldn’t release a new record for a year, but Abigail screeching at Anders like a banshee.
“I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU TOOK OUR POM-POMS AND TRANSFIGURED THEM INTO DUNG-BOMBS! AND THEN THREW THEM AT SLYTHERINS! THOSE COST MONEY, ANDERS! YOU OWE THE ENTIRE SQUAD NEW ONES! HOW COULD YOU BE SO THICK?”
Anders’ face turned bright red. “IT WAS JUST A JOKE, ABIGAIL! MCGONAGALL ALREADY FIXED THE BLOODY SPIRIT BALLS! EVERYTHING’S FINE! I DON’T KNOW WHEN YOU LOST YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR, BUT IT MUST HAVE BEEN AROUND THE SAME TIME YOU BECAME A BLOODY BITCH!”
I sucked in my breath. Wow, us Gryffindors were pretty crap at keeping our relationships together.
“If that’s the way you really feel, then maybe we shouldn’t be together,” Abigail said quietly.
His expression turned cold. “Maybe we shouldn’t. See you around.”
I swear as he stormed out of the hall, Delia and Louise materialized out of thin air and ushered a wailing Abigail to the nearest bathroom.
“Cheers mate,” Miles said tiredly as he settled across from Charlie, Amelie, Alexandria and I. “Maybe now we can get away from that crazed bimbo.”
A few members of the Lionesses shot him dirty looks. “Nice, mate,” Charlie said. “Make our entire cheer section hate us.”
Miles held his hands up in defense. “Sorry, but you can’t say you haven’t gotten sick of her. And speaking of quidditch, Amelie I have a favor to ask.”
Both Amelie and Alexandria eyed him warily. “What’s up?” Amelie asked as she spooned porridge into her mouth.
“The Gryffindor-Slytherin match is coming up the first thing after the holidays, and Charlie got permission from McGonagall to hold a pep rally of sorts on the pitch the night before. I’ve been assigned to take care of the banner, because apparently at pep rallies you have banners. I was wondering if you’d like to extend your artistic prowess to the project,” Miles said smoothly.
Without another word, Alexandria got up and left the hall.
Amelie sighed. “Sure, I’d love to. Let’s talk about it later though.” And with that, Amelie left the hall too.
Merlin, please save me from what I’m sure is about to be an extremely complicated situation? Thanks in advance.