Chapter 21 : Hope is Rubbish
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My parents and I are eating dinner together in the dining hall. I’ve only been here for five days, but I feel like I’ve been cut off from the rest of the world and thrown into pit to sit and wait out some form of punishment. My father is eating his roast, staring at the wooden table. My mother is drinking tea, staring at the silver cup in her hand. Interesting how none of us even offers to start a conversation until Cindy, our family house elf, comes into the hall with a letter.
“Master Leo, you have a letter,” she squeaks at me, shifting nervously as my mother glares at her.
I smile over at my old friend, “Really? I’ll read it now,” I say getting up from the table and retrieving the letter from Cindy.
Cindy smiles before scampering out of the room.
My mother groans, “Leonidas, we do not read letters at the table. Sit back down and finish your meal.”
I shrug, “I’m finished. I’ll just go read this in my room,” I reply while slowly walking towards the door.
“It’s quite alright, Jane,” my father says to my mother before turning to me, “read it here, Leo.”
I sigh before walking back to my spot at the long table and sitting. There are two parchments in the envelope, the top one reads:
There’s something huge keeping Ellie and James apart, but I can’t really figure it out. So...yeah, nothing progressing there. Scorpius’ visiting us tonight for the “Potter-Weasley” party. The parchment attached is one that James found on Charlotte a few months ago. He wants you to read it. Merry Christmas, and don’t go too insane without me.
Scorpius wants to know which cutlery is better: forks or spoons?
I smile at Albus’ straightforward note, he was never one for “shuffling around the bush,” or so the saying goes. I open up the second parchment titled, “Get-Over-Leonidas-Galatian,” and read through it. My parents are watching me, I can feel their eyes burning into my skin.
I try to keep my face impassive as I read through what could only be Charlotte’s former thoughts of me. This couldn’t have been recent, right? After I finish, I fold the parchment and put it in my robes for safe keeping. My parents stare at me expectantly, but I remain quiet as I stand to leave.
“Well...what was it about boy?” my mother asks.
I decide to lie, “Oh, it was just Scorpius. He wants to know if I can visit him soon, would that be alright?”
“The Malfoy boy?” my father asks, his eyes falling back down to stare at the table.
I nod my head, “Yes.”
“All right,” he responds, “that would be fine.”
“Actually,” I say, devising a plan, “he wants me to go over tonight, just for Christmas Eve things.”
My mother frowns, “What about our Christmas Eve together?”
I laugh, “We’re already missing a major member of our family, I don’t see how me leaving will change anything.”
They exchange a look with each other and my father addresses me, “Leo...let’s not get into this tonight.”
“I’m only stating facts, Father,” I reply coldly.
My mother begins to fake cry. An action that used to get her anything she wanted, but now she just seems childish.
My father and I stare at her in silence before he speaks, “Leonidas, you apologize to your mother.”
“For what, exactly?” I ask him.
“For your inappropriate statement,” he replies, sternly.
I laugh, “Inappropriate statement? Seriously?”
He glares at me, “I will not have such disrespect from you, boy.”
I stop laughing and stare at the two figures that are supposed to be my parents. They require obedience at every command, so the apology comes automatically, “Sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” my father nudges.
That’s when it clicked. Why am I the one apologizing? I smirk at them, “Sorry that you both have never taken the time to really get to know Ellie. It’s a shame, really. Ellie is better than all of us combined.”
My mother stiffens in shock and my father’s face turns a worrisome deep red. I smirk at them again before leaving, my father’s voice trailing behind me, “Don’t you dare leave this household!”
He actually runs after me, which surprises me enough to pause at the doorway, “If you leave, you can never return again,” he growls.
“Fine,” I shrug, grabbing the broomstick by the coat rack.
His eyes narrow, “Leonidas, I’m talking about disowning you!”
“Fine,” I repeat, rolling my eyes.
This surprises him into silence and I wave at him, “Have a nice life. I hope for your sake, Hell serves roast beef.”
On that note, I throw the door open and kick off, and away from Galatian Manor. Albus will be pleasantly surprised by my arrival at the Burrow. Scorpius might pee his pants in excitement. Neither will keep my sister away from me.
The Potter and Weasley party gets better every year! Seriously, I love these people. Albus and I are sitting on a couch while James plays chess with Rose’s father, Ron, and everyone else is somewhere else in the house. They hold this party at what they like to call “The Burrow,” and surprisingly, everyone seems to fit.
Albus attempts to answer my question that I asked earlier, “I’m fairly certain that most dragon trainers don’t carry around a sword, but that would be rather epic if they did.”
I nod my head in agreement, “I know, right?”
Rose walks in with a few pumpkin juices and sits in between us on the couch. We grab our respective goblets from her as she asks, “What are we talking about?”
“Dragons,” I reply, downing the juice.
She frowns, “Figures.”
Ron groans from the other side of the room as James takes his knight.
“Hey, where’s Ellie?” I ask. I haven’t really seen her around.
Rose smiles, “She’s helping Lily wrap presents.”
“Strange,” I shiver, “Ellie and Lily...how did that happen, exactly?” I ask her.
“Er, well...I kind of corned Lily and demanded that she tell me what’s going on. Lily explained that she just realized how incredibly horrible she’s been to Ellie and she wants to make it up, you know?” Rose summarizes and blushes.
Albus’ eyebrows rise, “Just like that?”
Rose nods, “Just like that, I guess.”
“I know my sister, something big had to have happen to change her mind,” Albus muses from his corner of the couch.
Rose replies, “Well, I don’t know much about that. I’m just glad she isn’t with those two friends of hers so much anymore. Charlotte and Ellie are a much better selection.”
The sound of the doorbell echos in the loud house, and Albus leaves to answer it. I shift around awkwardly, looking over at Ron and James every so often. Ron is sending me warning glares.
“Hey Scorp-” Rose starts.
I cut her off and hop from the couch, “Hey Rose,” I whisper to her, “follow me, but be nonchalant about it.” I walk out of the front room and climb up the staircase. I can hear Rose’s soft footsteps following me.
We reach the top floor and I slip into the attic of the house, Rose following. The whole space is semi-small. There’s just enough room to put a small twin-sized bed and maybe a wardrobe in here, but it’s just the right size for Rose and I to sit and talk.
“Hey Rose, I have a question to ask you,” I say to her, smiling as she sits next to me.
“What is it?” she asks, her eyes brightening in curiosity.
“Well,” I start, “I would like us to be friends.”
“Friends?” she questions.
I nod my head, “Yeah, like we were before we started Hogwarts and life got hectic, you know?”
She stares at me, pondering all that I’ve said for a moment before saying, “I don’t see why not, except...” she blushes and looks away, “I don’t think we can be as good of friends as we were when we were little.”
I frown and question, “Why not?”
She looks me straight in the eye and says, “If we do all that we did as children, people will think that we’re insane.”
I laugh, “What’s so wrong with that? We are insane!” I announce, poking her and laughing even harder.
She rolls her eyes, but joins in my laughter. I stare at her, watching her nose crinkle as she snorts into her hands. Wow, she really is beautiful. A surge of warmth rolls through my body. I’ve never been more happy than right now, watching her laugh.
“Hey Rosie, how’s life?” I ask her, eager to catch up so we can be really good friends.
She shrugs, smiling, “Fine, there’s not really anything going on. How’s life for you?”
I pretend to think, “Hm, life is really really good for me right now,” I tell her.
Her smile widens, “Really? Why is that?” she asks in mock curiosity.
I shrug, “Well...I just befriended this really crazy girl.”
“Insane,” I nod.
She pouts, “What a coincidence, I just befriended the most insane person on this planet.”
“Most insane?” I ask.
She nods, “On the verge of madness, really.”
“Sounds like you met your best mate.”
She winks, “Sounds like it.”
Albus interrupts my game of chess with Ron, “James, Rachelle’s at the door for you.”
Ron chuckles lightly, “Looks like you have to forfeit, kid.”
“Never,” I respond to him before commanding my rook, “Rook to C-4.”
Ron watches in horror as I take out his queen, putting my rook in line of the king.
“Checkmate,” I get up and pat his head before leaving for the door.
Rachelle is standing next to our umbrella holder with a look of worry on her face. It’s strange that she doesn’t want to come into the house to see everyone. Well, I guess it’s not all that strange, but it’s strange that she would like to talk to me in person rather than send me a letter.
“Wotcher, Rachelle,” I say, leaning against the wall next to her.
She flinches at my proximity and nods her head at the door, “Could we take a walk?”
My stomach drops. I think I can guess what this conversation is going to be about, and it’s a long time coming, “Okay,” I agree with a nod.
I lead the way out of the house and into the grassy fields in front of my grandparent’s place. Albus and I used to play hide and seek throughout these grounds, but now they seem less welcoming.
She breaks the silence, “Look...I want to say that I really appreciate you, James. You really are one hell of a guy.”
I nod my head, accepting the half-hearted compliment.
“We’ve just...fallen apart, don’t you think so?” she continues.
I laugh, “Falling apart? I don’t think that describes what we’ve been doing.” I look up as we pass underneath an older oak tree. My birdhouse is still up there. My grandma really loved it.
“Hear me out, James. We started out strong, but we’ve become distant,” she sighs next to me.
“I feel like we never started. We just...happened,” I respond, my eyes trailing the makeshift quidditch pitch Lily put together while Albus and I were off at school.
Rachelle groans and stops walking, pulling me to a stop next to her, “I did fancy you, James. A lot.”
I nod my head, “I fancied you too, Rachelle.”
She smiles a moment before biting her bottom lip in stress. I passively watch the action, knowing what will follow. Finally, she voices, “I think we should stop whatever this is,” she motions at the space inbetween us.
Ouch. Why does this hurt? I haven’t liked Rachelle as more than a friend for months now, but...it stings. Hell, it feels like a whole train speed straight through my chest.
I blink a few moments, taking in all of the emotions before replying, “All right, I guess.”
We stand in silence. Neither of us wants to walk back to everyone else and their festivities.
“Wait, Rachelle. Why?” I ask. I know why, but...I don’t know.
Her face falls in sympathy. I hate that look. Ellie’s face does that every time she rejects me, “There’s nothing concrete here. Relationships like this aren’t healthy. It was lovely that you stayed with me after I told you about Leo, but...I’ve always felt like you did it out of pity and not because you really thought that we could work. Look, we both know that we aren’t actually...in a romantic relationship so we should take that label off of it.”
I understand all of this, but I don’t want her to leave me. I’m pathetic, I know, “Can’t we just stay together?” I plead.
“No,” she says softly, patting my arm.
Rejection. My life is one big rejection story. What’s wrong with me, eh? I’m not...horrible looking. Albeit, my hair won’t stay down for the life of me and my nose is a little big, but I’m perfectly average besides all those things. I’ve got a decent personality, I can make friends easily. Sometimes I have urges to laugh whenever I see someone drop their books, but I don’t. That ought to say something about my character, right?
Rachelle drops her hand from my arm and sighs, “I’m going to head home. I’ll see you around?”
I ignore her, and she leaves without a response. When I hear the pop! of her apparation, I let myself sink to the ground.
The sun is falling. It seems to be devoured by the cold, hard ground. The warmth of its rays are replaced with the faint chill of its absence as the winter wind howls in my ear. The moon is growing again. I hate the light the moon gives off. It’s faint and eerie.
To be honest, I’ve never liked the moon. It reflects the beams of the sun, subtract the warmth and life they usually carry. The moon is like that person we all know who repeats whatever is told to him/her without so much of a sliver of their own thoughts. The repetition is mindless and painful to listen to, and yet you sit there listening, waiting for this person to actually bring their own meaning to these borrowed words they say. They never do, but your own hope glues you to that spot on the receiving ends of those words.
Maybe it is not this person that mindless. Maybe it is myself; the one that sits there and hopes.
What good is hoping for things? I hope that the Chudley Cannons will win another game this season, that my mum will let me get another, or that everyone will forget what happened last Christmas.
I hope that Ellie will go out with me.
Rubbish. Hope is rubbish.
I blink back the tears that have formed in my eyes and lift myself off the ground. Taking a final look out at the last rays of sun, I breathe in a deep breath before making the long journey back to the Burrow.
Geez...so you can see how difficult that was for me to write, ya? It seemed inhumane to take away someone’s last sliver of happiness (which I believe to be a person’s hope), but it must be done! Well, it doesn’t, but it was my decision. So...yeah. If you didn’t like this chapter, you are just going to rampage about the next one, but please remember, all conflict will be resolved :D!
Question: Did you expect James to have this reaction to the inevitable Rachelle/James break-up?
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