Chapter 16 : Guilty Conscience
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I bounced uncomfortably on the wooden bench. The great hall was packed for breakfast and Lily’s plan was about to come to fruition. We had snuck into James’ room last night when everyone was asleep and cast the necessary spells. We also left something there, but that was part of our plan.
Lily skipped into the hall looking absolutely thrilled. She ran up to my spot at the Gyrffindor table and grabbed my hands excitedly. “Today is the day!” She sang. “Are we ready to see James’ ego bruised?” She whispered softly behind her hand.
I shook my head, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this.”
Lily giggled. “But we already did it, silly. Now all that’s left to do is watch.” She sat next to me and patted my leg eagerly.
I shook my head again. “No, Lily. I don’t know if I could watch it and not look guilty. My conscience is eating away at me.”
"No!” Lily’s grip became vice like as her peppy attitude quickly morphed into something deadly. “You are not messing up my plan blondie! It is perfect!”
"I didn’t say I was going to ruin it. I just said I didn’t know if I could look guiltless.”
"Damn it, Hufflepuff!” Lily slammed her fist on the table, making me jolt in shock. “I can’t work with this side of you! What happened to that Slytherin side Cal was telling me about? I would much rather work with that!” Lily huffed.
I stood up. “I’m sorry, but I can’t be here for this.”
Lily grabbed my hair and ignored my squeal of pain as she pulled me back down. “Oh, no,” she hissed. “If I’m going down you’re going down with me. Yolo, bitch!”
I opened my mouth to answer but had to stop. A loud ruckus was being made out in the corridor. You could hear the swoons of young girls and wolf whistles echoing around the vast hall.
Lily slapped my knee in excitement and turned me towards the entrance of the hall to get a better look. “Looks like the show is about to start.”
A flood of people crowded into the hall ahead of him, but James eventually came into view as the throng of people parted. He stood in nothing but the pair of boxers we left for him the previous night. Lily wanted them to be the polar opposite of manly, so James was sporting pink boxers with prancing unicorns… sexy.
"Mr. Potter!” Professor McGonagall came sweeping down from her perch at the head table. “What is the meaning of this?”
"Everything I touched burst into flames this morning.” James said, pursing his lips.
"E-excuse me?” McGonagall frowned in question.
"I tried to put on clothes and everything I touched burst into flames. Someone must have put a spell on either me or my clothes last night.”
"Then why are you wearing those undergarments?” She said, gesturing towards his unicorn knickers.
"These were on top of my trunk this morning. They were the only things that did not spontaneously combust.”
At the sight of James’ toned body girls across the great hall went mad. Most were blushing, some were drooling, and others were fainting. Bloody hell these girls are off their rockers.
"Do you have any idea as to why someone might have done this to you?” McGonagall asked.
"Don’t blow it blondie,” Lily whispered from behind me.
That was easy for her to say. Lily was a master at pranks, something she had no doubt inherited from her grandfather. She was used to screwing someone over and then looking as innocent as a lamb. I was new to this! What would happen if I were found out? What would my parents say?
I assume the reaction would be much the same as the time I was caught out of bed. Yes, I never actually got in trouble, and yes the interaction with my parents was a fictional product of my own imagination. I still think they would be just as upset and cast me out onto the street.
I bit my lip and tried with my entire might to look innocent, surprised, or confused- anything other than guilty.
James shook his head, “no, not that I’m aware-“ He locked eyes with me and stopped talking.
Oh sweet Merlin. Look innocent! Look innocent!
James’ eyebrow cocked upwards in consideration, and his stare became more forceful. It was almost as if he was x-raying me, trying to break what little mask I had up.
Don’t break, Bethany, don’t break! I made sure my gaze was unwavering as well. I could not lose this. I would not lose this. I am Bethany Heart for Merlin’s sake and I will not- oh Merlin I can’t take it anymore.
I broke my gaze with James and looked down at my feet, guilt written all over my face. I peeked up just long enough to see James push past Professor McGonagall. “Excuse me professor,” he mumbled.
I stood up and tried to make a break for it, but my foot got hooked on the bench and I fell on my face. A few people laughed but I could care less as I tried to scramble to my feet and get away from James.
I sensed him coming closer and gave up on trying to actually stand. Instead, I began to crawl away as fast as my little knees could carry me. I felt something grab my foot and drag me backwards. I let out a scream of pure terror, and tried to turn onto my back and land a kick in James’ face. He only caught my other foot and dragged me back with more velocity.
I squealed and tried to keep my skirt down. I heard a few wolf whistles and tried to glare, but James had already picked me up and thrown me over his shoulder like a rag doll. I gave Lily a desperate look but she looked away pointedly, whistling casually as she did so. I let out another shriek as James began to head out of the hall and on to the grounds.
As we passed McGonagall he gave her a head nod and said, “I’ll take it from here, Minnie!”
There were more catcalls and some bloke shouted, “Get some, James!”
I threw my middle finger out in a random direction, unsure of where the voice had come from. Some students followed us out into the grounds but stopped after the first few yards, content to watch from there. Others followed us still further but eventually stopped, each wearing a look of suppressed excitement. They must have figured out James’ plan. I however was still in the dark considering I couldn’t see where we were going.
“James put me down!” I demanded. He didn’t respond or give any indication that he heard me. “James, I don’t want to be up on you’re shoulder!” Not that I minded having my face pressed up against his muscular back.
“Alright then,” James swung me down and cradled me tightly in his arms.
“James! I said I wanted to be put down!” I cried, and tried to break free. Although, I can’t say I tried all that hard. I felt safe and secure cradled in his arms.
“Oh I plan to put you down love, just not now.” He sent a smirk my way.
What? I turned my head and saw his destination. The one everyone else had figured out before me. Suddenly, I felt very unsafe. I began to struggle for real this time. “No, James! If you dump me in the black lake I swear I will re-smack you, and this time you’re teeth will bleed.”
“All empty threats love.” He hummed pleasantly.
As we came closer to my impending doom I gave up on threats and reduced myself to pleading. “James, I’m begging you do not throw me in!” We were less than ten feet from the water, eight, five. “James!” I snapped in a last attempt at salvation.
A crooked grin fell onto his face. “Yolo, bitch.” He tossed me flailing and screaming into the water, only to canon ball in afterwards.
I came up spluttering, shoving my wet hair out of my face. James came up not too much later, running his hands through his hair and laughing hysterically. Great, I come up looking like a lake monster and he comes up looking like a cologne add. Way to be fair Merlin.
"You sodding prat!” I screeched, giving him a shove. He staggered backwards in the water, still laughing like a hyena.
"Oh, come on! You brought this upon yourself!”
I let out a shriek of anger and began to wade to shore. Something you might have realized about me: I don’t like being thrown into lakes fully clothed. Just something you might have picked up on.
"Oh, no you don’t!” James grabbed my hand and pulled me tightly against his chest. His very hard… bare chest. Self-restraint Beth!
I screamed for help but to no avail. Everyone else who had been watching had gone back inside to the great hall, obviously thinking that the show had ended after James threw us both into the great lake. Merlin, if you’re listening I promise to be a little less judgmental of the people in my house. I’ll even try to make friends with those bimbos in my dormitory! I’ll do it all if you can just save me from this hell I’m in right now.
Merlin must have taken some serious pitty on me because Hagrid came lumbering out of his hut with his incredibly old dog fang at his heels.
"Hagrid!” I screeched, waving my arm wildly.
"Hi, Hagrid!” James called happily, waving with his free arm.
Hagrid spotted us and waved back. No, I’m not saying hi! I’m asking for help! “Hagrid!” I screamed again, waving even more frantically than I had before.
Hagrid only laughed and headed off into the dark forest. Did he actually believe I was enjoying this? Could he not hear the absolute terror in my voice? Well screw you too, Merlin!
"No one can save you now! You’re mine!” James cackled evilly.
That’s it! No more Mr. Nice girl. Hockey skills activate! I began to twist violently from side to side, trying to break free. I threw back an elbow, and was able to land James in the stomach. He let out a groan and his grip slacked.
With a cry of triumph I pushed myself forward towards freedom. However, I must not have been fully prepared because I ended up face planting into the water. Beautiful, Beth.
I came up spluttering and gasping for breath. I tried to make another break for it, but James had recovered from my illegal use of elbowing. He grabbed the back of my skirt and yanked me backwards. I shrieked and slipped on the muddy bottom of the lake, once again falling in. James fell with me.
He gripped me around the middle and pulled us both out of the water. I coughed and tried pushing my tangled mess of hair out of my face. This was getting old.
I gripped James tightly so I wouldn’t fall in again and was hit by a wave of violent coughs. Way to be alluring, Beth. James threw back his head and laughed. “Why are you laughing you daft child?” I choked out.
"Because,” James snorted- charming. “I’m in pink unicorn boxers, all of my clothes are now ash, and we’re both sopping wet standing in the black lake which is probably full of giant squid and merpeople poop.”
"Ew!” I squealed, pulling my legs out of the water and wrapping them around James’ waste. He staggered back slightly at the sudden movement.
I had completely forgotten about the merpeople lurking below us. Not to mention the giant squid that could probably swallow us whole. I was suddenly hit with the urgent desire to get as far away from the large body of water as quickly as possible. Only I didn’t want to step into the water that- as James pointed out- was probably full of poop.
I tightened my grip on James and placed my head on the curve between his shoulder and neck. I closed my eyes tightly. “Just get us out of here before something eats us!” I pleaded.
James chuckled into my ear. “You afraid Miss Heart?” He asked in a low voice.
"No,” I lied. If there was one thing I was afraid of, it was things that lurked in large bodies of water. Don’t judge! They could probably eat you and you would never see them coming until it’s too late. Hence why my two main sports were above water and on land.
"You’re not?” I could almost hear the smirk slipping onto his mouth. “Well then…” I felt James move backwards, the water rising up to my feet clamped behind his back.
I pushed myself back so I could see his face. “James, no!” I screamed. I tried to push myself off but he only gripped my waist tighter.
As the water slipped up his waste and enveloped my calves I let out a squeal of fear and placed my head back in its previous spot. My clasp tightened again and I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting to be eaten alive. A soft whimper escaped me as my heart slammed against my ribcage. I’m super brave, I know. It’s a real mystery why I’m not in Gryffindor.
James stopped. “You’re… you’re really afraid aren’t you.”
"No,” I mumbled weakly. Wow… that was convincing. I should screw being a healer and go into acting. I’m pretty sure there’s an award somewhere with my name on it. Hells yeah.
“Hey,” he spoke softly into my ear, sending tingles up my spine. His grip loosened and instead of trapping me, he began to cradle me against his chest. He rubbed my back soothingly. I sighed, a girl could get used to this.
"I’ll take us back out now, okay?” He spoke in that same velvet soft voice that made my stomach do backflips.
He began to wade toward shore. When we were only knee deep in water, I opened my eyes and pushed myself back to see James. He stopped the trudge to land and cradled my face with his hand. “Better now?” He asked.
I didn’t answer him. I couldn’t seem to think passed the deep chocolate color of his eyes. Despite being doused in poop water, I could still catch the scent of strawberries wafting off his skin.
The pad of James’ thumb began to glide back and forth across my cheek. His eyes flitted down to my lips and then back up to my steady gaze. Our breathing was ragged due to our water dousing and escape attempts/re-capture successes.
"Beth?” James asked breathlessly. I again answered with silence. Way to go brain, now he’s gonna think I’m a mute. “Would you totally hate me if I kissed you right now?”
I should have said yes. I should have shoved him away right then and there. He had broken my heart. He had pretended to date me, ended up really dating me, broken up with me, dated my friend, tried to kiss me, broken up with my friend, and thrown me in the lake. He had put me through nothing but hell.
But looking into his eyes I couldn’t seem to muster up enough anger. They were kind eyes, eyes that I had known since I was a kid, eyes I had grown to trust. I had grown up with the bloke and he had always come through for me and treated me with kindness. Maybe that’s why I fell for him.
When I finally answered him, it was with an oh-so-smooth, “yehamashu.”
Luckily, James seemed to understand my gibberish. His eyes closed and I followed suit. James’ wet lips slipped over mine, and my world exploded. A slue of colors erupted behind my eyelids and my stomach became an Olympic gymnast, performing flip after flip.
My hands, which had been gripping James around the neck slipped up into his wet hair. His hand that had been cradling my face slid to the back of my neck securing my lips against his.
James made a guttural moan, somewhere in the back of his throat and I relished how sexy it was. I tried to sustain a moan of my own as his teeth captured my bottom lip, but I can’t say I was all too successful.
As much as I loved the situation at hand, my legs were growing tired wrapped around James’ torso. I unhooked my feet, and James gently lowered me into the water. Now both his hands cupped my face to give me one last, slow, seductive kiss.
As he pulled his head away he tugged my lip a little. I stupidly rocked onto my toes to try and follow him. Fortunately, I came to my senses. Giving my head a little shake to clear the fog, I swayed back to a standing position. A small smirk had taken residence on James’ face when I opened my eyes.
"Wow.” He said breathlessly. “You haven’t kissed me like that in a long time.”
I blushed, “Just a little thanks… for saving my life.” I continued after he gave me a questioning look, “you know, from the giant squid that was bound to eat me alive.”
James chuckled and stole one more kiss. I placed my hands on his bare chest and pushed away, suddenly remembering a promise I had made him. I took my hand and smacked it against his cheek.
He doubled over, cupping his cheek and cursing. “What the bleeding hell, Heart?”
"That’s for throwing me in the water.”
Jame gave me a look that clearly said, ‘What the hell?’ I shrugged. “Don’t look at me like that. I warned you!”
"Who kisses a bloke and then smacks the bejesus out of him!”
"Don’t be such a cry baby. At least this one won’t leave a mark.” I smirked and began to head for shore.
"How come after all of this I’m still mad for you?” James asked, a smirk in his voice.
I turned towards him. “Because I’m insane and you’re insane and together we’re just one big ball of insane.” And on that lovely note, I walked back to the castle, soaked to the bone, with an evil smirk playing at my lips.
Why, yes. I am always this awesome.
First off, I'd like to appologize for the awful wait. My school life is an overerly attatched girlfriend that won't leave me alone.
As I've mentioned in the past I have finished writing this story. Now it's just a matter of editing and uploading it. Hopefully I'll be able to keep the updates farely consistant and maybe even post the new story that I've been working on. :D woo! Exciting stuff.
Like always, I love comments, suggestions, and predictions. :)
Until next time lovelies!
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