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Chapter 8 : H is for Hell
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Author’s Note: Don’t be mad at me! I know it’s been a long time since I updated and I’m really sorry to have kept you guys waiting. It’s no excuse but I have been extremely busy. These next few weeks are still going to be hectic for me so there probably won’t be a lot of time for writing, but if you guys will stay patient I promise I will not abandon the story. This chapter is a bit of a filler, but it does have some very important parts. I hope you enjoy and I hope you will stick with me through this story!
Al Present Day
“Mum?” Charlotte asked. Al couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Charlotte never spoke about her mother. At a young age Al learned that the subject was forbidden. When he was six he had asked her bluntly where her parents were. It was a mistake—her little fists had balled up and she stalked away angrily. She wouldn’t come out of their favorite tree for the rest of the afternoon.
Al didn’t approach the subject for six years. Then for the second time he asked where her parents were. Also for the second time she got extremely mad. This time; however, she took a moment to scream that her parents obviously didn’t want to know her so why should she care where they were and they might even be dead for all she knew before heading for higher ground. He found her on the roof of his house an hour later.
So, from past experience, he knew that Charlotte was likely to blow up at any second. And then climb up a tree or something.
The unfamiliar woman in front of them nodded her head slowly, never taking her eyes off of Charlotte.
“No way,” Charlotte muttered, “There is no way this is happening. Not today.” Her hands rose to her hair, a sure sign she was getting worked up. Charlotte turned to everyone and her expression was shocked. She covered her face with her hands and started shaking.
Al stepped forward to hug her or something…anything, when he realized that she was laughing. Suddenly her silent giggles transformed to loud hysterical laughter. She was cracking up.
Al looked from her to her mother unsure of what to do. He noticed that the woman was looking at her daughter with a mix of pity and uncertainty.
“Maybe we should slap her?” Talia suggested. The group shared anxious looks with each other while Charlotte clutched at her stomach from laughing.
The soft sound of a voice interrupted their worries, “Charlotte?” Her mother spoke for the first time, “Charlotte?”
“I…can’t,” Charlotte was breathless, “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe that you have the audacity to show up here, today of all days! You have no right to be here.” Charlotte wasn’t laughing anymore, she was deadly calm and her voice was dripping with venom.
“She was my mother,” Charlotte’s mom said quietly, “Of course I have a right to be here.” Al knew she came to pay respects for Granny.
“Then where have you been the past sixteen years?! I don’t even know your name.” Charlotte screeched. Al put a hand on the small of her back to try and calm her down. He had noticed that her breaths were coming in faster and shallower. This was usually how her panic attacks began.
“I…” her mother seemed at a loss for words, “I can explain.”
“Fine.” Charlotte snapped, “Let’s hear it.”
The woman looked around at each of them like she would rather have this conversation some place else. Al didn’t really blame her. They were all watching her like hawks.
“You took too long.” Charlotte said and began to walk away. Al and then rest of them followed.
Passing by the stranger Al heard her say softly, “Lorrie. My name is Lorrie.”
Charlotte Present Day
She had endured brunch with the family. Correction, she had endured brunch with the Potter-Weasley family. Not her family. After all she had none anymore.
It was uncomfortable. She could tell that no one really knew how to act around her. Bill had patted her awkwardly on the back and Nana Weasley couldn’t stop touching her face and looking at her with these sad eyes.
Finally after seconds (Nana Weasley insisted) she excused herself to use the restroom. She was very thankful for the door that leads to the backyard in the bathroom. After locking the bathroom door she slipped out the other door and closed it swiftly behind her.
Making sure to stay away from the windows she walked to the edge of the Potter yard where there was a fence separating their backyard from hers. Using the steps she and Al had put there many years ago she hoisted herself over the fence and onto her side.
She knew what she needed to do. She walked over the base of their favorite tree and started climbing.
It was easier than it was when she was younger, but she was still relatively small. It took her a little while to slip into a rhythm. She climbed higher than she usually did passing her usual sitting spot and going higher.
Soon she was high enough that the branches had started to thin out. She settled down into a crook and closed her eyes.
Today had been exhausting, Charlotte was sick of going through hell.
On top of suffering through her Granny’s funeral she now had a mother to deal with. A mother, the thought was foreign to her.
There was really nothing that could have prepared her for a shock like that. Her whole life she had resented her parents for leaving her and resented Granny for refusing to tell her anything about them. Now she had the chance to finally get answers and she was sickened by the thought of it.
Tears prickled in her eyes but she shut them down. She would not shed a single tear for the woman that had abandoned her.
It felt good to just close her eyes and relax. A couple times she caught herself about to nod off and realized that a fall from this high would probably break her neck. She made the responsible decision and started to climb down.
A little more than halfway down her foot slipped. Just a little slip and then she was freefalling towards the ground just like she had feared before. She stuck her hands out right before she landed and then she crashed onto the grass.
“Shit!” Her wrist had taken most of the force and she knew that it was broken. It was the exact same pain as the first time she had ever broken her wrist (she had always been a bit accident prone.)
She managed to push herself up using one arm and she leaned back against the tree. Now she thought, now I can cry. And she did.
Talia Present Day
Talia leaned back in her seat and exclaimed that she could not eat anything else, probably ever again. The few times she had eaten with the whole Potter/Weasley clan over the years Nana Weasley had always fussed over her being too skinny.
Talia was aware that Charlotte had been in the bathroom for a while now. She also knew that Al and Rose were thinking the same thing.
Giving Charlotte her space was very hard for Talia. She was naturally an impatient, pushy, proactive person. She had managed to let Charlotte be alone for this long but now she was pushing it.
“I’m just going to go check on her,” she announced. She walked through the rooms to the bathroom and knocked gently, “How’s it going in there?”
Talia pounded on the door a little more aggressively, “Really Char? You know that I will blast this door open right? Open. The. Door. Now.” She used her no-nonsense tone of voice.
“Fine!” Talia sniffed, “I get that you want to be alone and I’ll let you. But at least say something so I know you’re okay.”
“What’s going on?” Al and Rose had shown up, probably due to Talia’s incessant banging on the door.
“She’s being stubborn and won’t answer me!” Talia directed her words towards the door in hopes that Charlotte would come to her senses and come out.
“Charlie?” Al asked using that tone of voice that seemed to be reserved just for Charlotte.
“Oh Merlin,” Talia breathed out, “What if she..?”
“Shut up,” Al growled and took his wand out of his pocket. He pointed it at the door. Before he cast the spell Rose said, “You can’t Al, you’re not seventeen yet.”
Al threw her a withering look, “Alohomora” The door shot open and they all flooded the room. When Talia realized she wasn’t in there her stomach dropped.
Charlotte Present Day
The pain in Charlotte’s wrist had gotten worse and the rest of her ached. She still sat under the tree unable to move. When she spotted the top of a dark head walking towards the Potter’s house she cried out, “Al!”
The person stopped and entered Charlotte’s backyard through the gate that was always open. It was James, not Al.
“What happened to you?” he asked curiously walking over to her, “You look awful.”
“Thanks” She snapped, “I broke my wrist, could you mend it please?” He knelt down to take a look at her arm and concluded that it was indeed broken.
“You sure you want me to do it?” he asked, “You know there is a house full of adults over there…”
“Do it James!” Charlotte said, “I don’t need everyone finding out about this and fussing over me even more.”
“Fair enough,” he muttered and pulled out his wand, “episkey” Most of the pain vanished right away and Charlotte sighed in relief.
“Thank you,” She said fervently.
“No problem Shorty,” James was always calling her various nicknames for short people.
“And you won’t tell anyone?”
“I don’t know…Al would really want to know something like this and so would the rest of my family…”
“James!” She smacked him upside the head, “Come on!”
“You’ll owe me one,” he said suddenly.
“Sure. Fine. Anything.” Charlotte agreed. He really was annoying sometimes she thought, but useful. There was still a lot of pain, but her wrist moved fine now.
“So how are you holding up?” He asked sitting down next to her.
“Bullshit,” he called laughing. At that moment a head popped over the fence. Al stared at them in shock. “Hey little brother,” James said easily. Al hopped the fence followed by Talia and Rose.
“What are you doing?” Al yelled at Charlotte completely ignoring his brother, “What the hell are you thinking running off like that?”
“Back off Al!” Charlotte stood up, “I needed a few minutes to myself.”
“Then you should have told one of us,” Talia joined in, “When you didn’t answer me I thought…I thought.” She couldn’t go on so she resulted to just glaring at Charlotte.
“You thought I killed myself?” Charlotte asked incredulously, “Are you kidding me?”
“What were we supposed to think?” Asked Rose quietly, she looked like she was on the verge of tears. Charlotte felt instantly guilty.
“I’m sorry,” She spoke to all of them, “I should have told you.”
The rest of the day Charlotte made sure to smile and pretend she was okay. They all hung out in Al’s living room while Liam entertained them with his impressions of various teachers at Hogwarts. Soon enough they were all loaded and boarded on the Knight Bus.
They made themselves as comfortable as they could on the eraticly moving bus. Rose and Talia were on either side of Liam, each resting their head on his shoulder. Charlotte noticed that he kept shooting Al smug looks, and that Al was raising his eyebrows in return.
They were all situated, but Charlotte couldn’t help the slight trembling of her fingers. The last time she had been on this bus she was racing home to see her Granny for the last time.
In a split second she decided to find Michael. Giving her friends the quick excuse that she had to use the restroom, Charlotte walked over to where he was standing on the other side of the bus.
“Does the offer for the tour still stand?” Charlotte asked tilting her head up to look at him. His eyes widened and she saw his Adams apple bob up and down. Making him react like this made Charlotte feel better. For the first time in a while she felt like she was in control.
“Teddy will have my neck,” Michael protested, but Charlotte noticed that he had leaned towards her.
She looked him in the eye and stretched up on her tip-toes. Putting one hand on his shoulder she leaned in and whispered, “Teddy’s not here.”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her to the back room of the bus where they kept supplies and pillows.
Not wasting a minute Charlotte wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him fiercely. He responded by pushing her up against the wall. His breathing was heavy as she moved her lips from his mouth to his neck. He found her lips again and she traced the curves of his biceps.
Time passed and suddenly his hands were inching their way up her stomach. She snapped back to reality, “My friends are going to wonder where I am.” She said a little breathlessly.
“They’ll be fine,” he said against her mouth.
“No Michael,” Charlotte said, “I have to go find them.” For a second she thought he was going to protest, but he backed away from her and motioned to the door.
She returned to her seat next to Al and sat down.
It was like while she was with Michael the pain had dulled and now that she wasn’t anymore it came back sharp as ever.
Charlotte remembered her Granny’s last letter; she still carried it with her in a pouch around her neck, and thought that somehow her Granny had given her a way to stop the pain without even knowing it.
Stay out after curfew, ditch class, get in trouble, kiss boys, and, most importantly, have fun.
Interesting, Charlotte thought.
Author’s Note: So yeah…like I said a bit of a filler. Since I’ve been so awful at updating I’m going to give you guys a sneak peek into the next chapter…two members of the group are going to get together. Who? Well that I’m not going to tell you, but feel free to predict which two in a review. If you are right I’ll mention you next time!
Take care teddy bear,
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