Chapter 20 : An Unspoken Realization
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Albus and I stayed up late last night creating a, “Make Ellie Galatian’s Holiday the Best One Ever” plan, and now I’m completely buggered. My mum came into the room a few moments ago, complaining about how late I’m sleeping in, and threatened to get my father if I didn’t get out of bed. So, here I am, standing in a very cold shower, my mind gradually progressing from it’s sleep deprived state.
As I run a hand across my face, I feel a warm drop of water. I’m crying? I haven’t cried in four years. Not since Ellie’s first rejection. . .
I crash into a girl and we both fall to the ground from the impact. My friends are laughing as I hurry to get up and pull the girl from the ground, “I’m so sorry!” I tell her, but I stiffen in shock. This is the blonde haired, grey eyed girl that has been haunting me ever since my first trip to Diagon Alley.
The words come out of my mouth before I can stop them, “Will you marry me?”
My friends fall into a deeper chorus of laughter, but I ignore them. Shocked at what I just asked this girl.
Her eyes widen and she shakes her head, “No.”
No one can blame her for rejecting my marriage proposal, but it still hurts. It hurts worse than the time my dog ran away, or when Dad told me about how we don’t have two sets of grandparents, because his parents were murdered.
I laugh it off and walk away from it all. Tears are burning my eyes. As soon as I’m out of sight, I run. I wasn’t aiming for anywhere in particular, I just needed to get away. The tears are falling at a rapid rate, blurring my vision. I quickly duck into the boys lavatory and let myself cry.
Two first year boys are sitting on the tile floor, a book is open in front of them and a potion is brewing next to them. A boy with short brunette hair and sharp blue eyes is the first to speak, “Are you okay?”
The dirty blonde haired boy next to him hits his arm, “Of course he isn’t okay, he’s crying!” he hisses to his friend.
I wipe the tears off my face and attempt to a smile at them, “I’m really fine, just got hit with a particularly harsh spell.”
The first boy frowns, “You can tell us, you know.”
I notice that they’re wearing Slytherin robes and frown. My little brother was sorted into Slytherin this year. I clear my throat, “I was just hit by a spell, really. Don’t worry about it.”
“My father says that men only cry when a girl’s involved,” the blonde boy tells the brunette.
He nods in agreement and turns to me, “He’s right, it must be a girl problem. Did she give you cooties?”
The seriousness of his question catches me off guard and I laugh.
The boys frown at me before turning to each other and whispering. The brunette clears his throat and addresses me again, “We have a proposition for you. You tell us what girl problem you have, and we won’t tell anyone that you came in here crying.”
That’s the Slytherin personality that I’ve been waiting for. I walk closer to them and peer into their cauldron, “That potion doesn’t look like it’s on the first year curriculum,” I tell them.
They’re eyes widen and the blonde boy pipes up, “Please don’t tell Headmistress McGonagall. She’s just finished lecturing us about stealing spoons from the Great Hall.”
I laugh again. These kids are a riot, even if they are in Slytherin. I sit next to them and sigh, “Okay, you were right. I have a girl problem.”
“Go on,” the brunette nods his head.
I smile, “Well, I think I’m in love with her.”
He frowns, “You think?”
I’m at a loss for words, “Er, well, I’m not sure...”
The blonde boy pipes up, “My father says that you’re in love when you put a ring on the girl’s finger.”
The brunette boy elbows him, “That’s marriage, Scorpius. Love is a feeling.”
The blonde boy, Scorpius, frowns, “Oh okay. Well, I think you’re in love when you want to spend all your time with them. Going on adventures and just having fun. What do you think, Leo?”
“My sister says she loves me,” the brunette, Leo, shrugs, “I think it means that you want to protect each other and keep the other person safe and happy.”
I whistle in appreciation at these boy’s thoughts. They look at me, waiting patiently. I grunt, “I would have to agree with both of you kids...but, I don’t know. She’s got a spirit about her, ya? She makes me want to be a better person.”
Leo smiles, “What are you going to do about the girl?”
“I don’t know...she rejected me...” I scratch the back of my head.
Scorpius frowns, “You’re giving up?”
Leo groans, “You can’t give up!”
“Yeah, you just need to keep at it,” Scorpius adds.
Leo gets up and pulls at my robes, trying to get me off the ground. Scorpius laughs and joins in his struggle. Chuckling to myself, I get up and rustle their heads, “You’re right. I’m not going to give up,” I nod to myself and walk out of the room. Cheers from the strange first years trailing behind me.
I step out of the shower and wrap a towel around my waist. I can’t give up on Ellie, what would young Leo and Scorpius say if I did? I laugh to myself about that and walk into my room to get dressed. As I search through my clean robes, a knock echos through my bedroom.
“Just a minute!” I call to the door and hop into a pair of clean knickers before running over and answering it.
I jump in surprise when I see Ellie and nearly run to grab more clothes, but the look on her face stops me. Well, actually it’s the fact that she is openingly checking me out.
I can’t stop the smirk that creeps onto my face, “Enjoying the view?” I tease her.
She rips her eyes from my body and looks at my face, “Are you okay?” she asks.
“Sorry?” I respond, the smirk dropping from my face in confusion.
“Your eyes are puffy,” she responds, a blush encompassing her face.
I sigh and scratch the back of my head before leaving her at the doorway and walking to my closet to search through my wardrobe again.
“Have you been crying?” she asks, following me in.
I pull on some muggle jeans and a t-shirt (Albus and I have plans that robes would not properly accommodate), and finally look at her again. A wave of hurt washes through me. What are we doing to each other? We’re caught in some sick game that nobody can come out of triumphant, let alone both of us.
Ellie seems to sense my distress and looks away, her eyes searching the objects that I keep out in the open. They eventually fall on my desk and she walks over to inspect it, while I try to clean up the state of the room.
“The Sun Also Rises,” she says, grabbing a muggle book from the pile I keep on the desk, “What’s it about?” she asks, looking back to me.
I shrug, walking over to her and sitting in the seat, “Well, I guess it’s sort of about a man named Jake who is in love with this girl, who loves him back, but they can’t be in a relationship because of an ailment he received when he was in a war,” I summarize one of the major aspects of the work.
“Really,” she breathes, her eyes trailing the picture of the sun on the cover, “if they’re in love, why can’t they make it work?”
“That’s a good question...I don’t know. I think that when they’re together, they are miserable because of his injury, but when they’re apart, they’re miserable because they love each other so much,” I wince at my stupid answer, and reach for another book to change the subject.
“But the sun always rises, despite all that, doesn’t it?” Ellie whispers, mostly to herself.
I hand her another muggle story by the same author, and she reads the title out loud, “The Old Man and the Sea? What’s this one about?”
“Well,” I scratch my forehead and wince at my stupid response, “it’s about a man named Santiago who is a failure as a fisherman, but keeps working at it until one day, his fishing line catches on a huge fish. This catch is the biggest of his life, and he is unwilling to give it up. He holds onto the line, the strength of the fish cutting into his hands, for two days and nights until the fish tires himself out. Santiago kills this fish and the trail of blood attracts sharks. Despite his efforts to fight these sharks off, they take hold of the fish and eat it, leaving only the carcass behind,” I finish my summary and retrieve the book from her, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
She stares at me and frowns, “That’s a sad story.”
“How so?” I question.
“Well, he doesn’t get the fish.”
I laugh, “The point was not the fish, but the struggle for it. The carcass proved to the people of his town that he was successful, but in the end, he doesn’t care. He returns to his normal life and pities those townspeople who don’t know the pain of retrieving such a fish.”
She nods in comprehension, “So the story is about his determination?” she asks.
“I guess so,” I allow, placing the book back in the pile on my desk.
Ellie picks up a newspaper article that I was reading through last night, “What is this?” she asks.
“Just something I found the other day,” I reply, waving it off.
I don’t really want to explain why I’m researching the public view of werewolves. It all just seems...wrong, you know? They have to stand around, helpless as people purposely try to take their rights away. I’m sure they try to create a voice in politics, but they need someone who is willing to stand up for them that isn’t one of them. It all sounds rather pathetic when I try to articulate it to someone, but I want to try and help those magical creatures whose rights are always put aside.
“James, this is about the goblin and werewolf rebellion just two years ago,” Ellie replies, flipping through the pages and soaking in the content.
I watch her in appreciation. Of course she’d be sympathetic, she just has to be perfect in every way, doesn’t she?
“Hey James,” she interrupts my thoughts and places the article back on my desk, “I hope you’re happy. Are you happy?” she asks, looking down and playing with the corners of my desk.
I really think about it. Am I happy? No, not really, but does that matter? Who’s ever really happy in life. There must be a reason that so many people are envious of what everyone else has. If we were all really happy, why would we want to have what another has? Geez, I’m just full of rubbish today, aren’t I?
I finally answer her question, “Yeah, I am.”
“Really?” she responds, looking up at me.
We stare at each other, at a loss for words as an unspoken realization comes over us. We’re both miserable.
They say that if love is meant to be, it’ll happen as though some supernatural force drives the decisions we make to one person. I have a hard time believing this. Love is not passive. Just look at all the miserable people in the world who are alone. If there is a supernatural force driving people to each other, why are they alone? Love is something you have to work for, much like the fisherman in that short story.
I suddenly feel the need to fill in the intense silence, “Er, so how are you holding up?” I ask her, looking away.
She grabs my face and shifts it so that we’re looking at each other again, “Fine, I’m used to my parents acting this way.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that it’s complete rubbish,” I mutter, frowning at the whole situation.
She laughs, “To be honest, I’d rather be here than there. I feel bad for Leo, he has to spend his holiday with them.”
I hadn’t thought of that. I guess I’m grateful that she’s here instead of suffering over there. She stares at me a moment longer before sighing and walking towards the door. I watch her leave before calling after her, “Hey Ellie?”
She puts her head back in the doorway, responding to my inquiry, “Yes, James?”
“I’m not happy,” I tell her.
She nods, “Miserable together and miserable apart,” she answers.
“It doesn’t always have to be like that,” I plead with her.
She hesitates before concluding, “Perhaps not,” and leaving, once more.
I sigh as I watch James talk to Rachelle. He invited her to go sledding with us as a last minute thing. I was hoping to get him to show Ellie how to “properly sled,” but it looks like that plan has backfired. Lily is standing next to me, pulling on her gloves and staring at the exchange too.
“It’s very peculiar, isn’t it?” she asks me.
“What is?” I respond, breaking my gaze at the couple to question my sister.
“Well...they’re not particularly...intimate,” she tries to explain, waving her hands in the process.
My follow-up question is interrupted by Ellie, calling for Lily to join her on the sled. Lily smiles and leaves me to my thoughts as I try to process it all. I watch James and Rachelle again, taking in the number of times that one might reach for the other in an unconscious gesture of affection, only to be unconsciously rejected by the other. James, trying to move a piece of hair behind Rachelle’s ear, Rachelle, reaching out to hold hands, both slowly moving further apart. . .It’s like they don’t want to do anything that would be characterized as “more than friendly.”
The group of us sled down the big hill in the countryside next to Godric’s Hollow until we wear ourselves out and make our trek back to my house for hot chocolate. James and Rachelle are bickering about whether or not Rachelle should stay for the chocolate, or go home. It seems rather petty, but the two are getting rather worked up about it. The conclusion of the argument is Rachelle leaving and they hug briefly before she apparates.
Lily jogs up to walk next to me and whispers, “Albus, they’re acting the way Leo and I did before we broke it off.”
“Yeah, they are...how long has this interaction been occurring?” I voice my thought process out loud.
Lily shrugs her shoulders, “I don’t know, that’s something you’re going to have to ask them,” she replies.
Lily falls back to walk with Ellie again, and I’m, once again, left to my thoughts.
Suddenly, I become troubled. Perhaps this is all more complicated than I originally thought? Just as I’m about to pull my hair out in frustration, James catches up to me.
“Oi, Albus, how are you?” he asks, wrapping his scarf tighter around his neck to keep warm. I eye the piece of cloth, thinking aggressive thoughts. He’s making himself miserable!
“I could be better,” I hiss through my teeth.
He ignores my apparent irritable mood and leans in to whisper, “I’ve recently found a curious note.”
“Really?” I sigh, regaining my composure.
He pulls a parchment from his pocket and hands it to me, “It’s Charlotte’s,” he explains to my confused face.
I unfold it and frown, reading over the contents. Basically, the whole thing suggests that Charlotte and Leo had a fling and Charlotte is attempting to get over him. This is something that I’ve already figured out.
“I already know about Leo’s past relations with Charlotte,” I say, handing the parchment back to him.
He seems unfazed by my words, “Of course you do, but if you’ve just learned about this note, I’m assuming that Leo hasn’t yet.”
I nod my head in agreement. My head is pounding from all the idiotic drama that everyone has all around me.
“Here,” he gives me the note, again, “just let him look it over.”
“Does it really matter?” I ask.
James’ face twists in contemplation, “Well, if I were in Leo’s position, I would want to read it, you know?”
“That sounds fair,” I agree, putting the parchment in my pocket to owl to Leo later.
This, my dear readers, was a filler chapter. I’m still working out some kinks in the chapter that I wanted to put up, so I wrote and put this one up instead.
The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea are by Ernest Hemingway and he reserves all those rights...they are beautiful narratives.
I don’t expect you guys to like this chapter :/. Oh! There was that one part where Ellie was checking out James! How fun?! Hey, stop glaring at me D:! I'll get the next chapter worked out soon. Which chapter is your favorite so far?
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