Chapter 14 : Chapter Fourteen
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The Hogwarts Express was providing a challenge for me as I travelled home for Christmas. I had successfully attracted the attention of every student I walked past on my way back to my compartment.
Dominique raised an unimpressed eyebrow as she watched me fall into the wall and collapse to the ground for the sixth time from a few metres away.
“Christ Emma, the train’s barely moving. How wasted are you exactly?” she inquired, sounding slightly impressed.
I looked up at her from my place on the ground and considered this, before bluntly stating, “Very.”
“Uh huh,” she replied. She thought I was crazy. I could tell. You know you have a problem when the girl who repeatedly leaves home with her pants on backwards thinks that you’re crazy. “Could you just try not to fall from where you are now to me? Because this is our compartment and they’re all staring at me. I can feel their eyes burning into me, Em.”
I grinned deviously as I pulled myself to my feet unsteadily. “You’re wasted too aren’t you,” I said smugly.
“Not even slightly.” I waited. “Well slightly.” Another pause. “But nowhere near as wasted as you.”
I rolled my eyes (or at least I tried to. My face probably just twitched weirdly) and stumbled towards her, eventually managing to walk like a person just in time to reach the door and fail miraculously at opening it. Dom sighed and opened it for me, and I waltzed through proudly to be greeted by the concerned stares of my brother, my best friend, my close friend and my husba- ALBUS. AND ALBUS. And Albus.
Jesus I’m glad that didn’t happen out loud.
“Hey guys!” I cried cheerily. “What are we talking about?”
“Um… well, you,” Louis admitted. “I don’t know if you realise but you’ve been drinking heavily for about a week. You’re almost constantly drunk or asleep.”
“It came out of pretty much nowhere and we kind of need to know what triggered it so I can beat him up,” Danny added casually. I scoffed.
“THERE’S A ‘HIM’?!” Scorp roared.
“There’s no ‘him’,” I insisted.
“Lesbian,” Dom sang from the seat she’d taken between Albus and Louis.
“Don’t listen to her. She’s very drunk.”
“Hypocrite,” she sang.
I showed her two special fingers and she shut up, though she was biting her lip hard in an attempt not to laugh.
“Would you mind telling us what did trigger this then, Emma? We’re worried about you,” Albus prompted carefully, and my heart did all these funny special things inside my chest.
And then the thought of that note came into my head and all I wanted to do was find more alcohol and drink it until I couldn’t remember anymore. Every time it came into my head I had to drink straight away. I spent the last week leading up to the holidays drunk, too scared to confront the situation, too scared to even speak of it to someone. I was confused. I was lost. And I was terrified.
All I could really do about it was drink.
“Um… no, no trigger. No trigger. I just really like the flavour of firewhiskey,” I explained cheerily.
“You hate firewhiskey. You said everything about it ‘screams poisonous’,” Scorpius retorted out flatly.
“…Well… yes, but I mixed it with pineapple juice,” I announced proudly.
“But why?” Louis pressed.
“Not everything has to have a reason behind it,” I pointed out.
I felt small under their stares. And even though they were trying to support me, it seemed as if they were completely against me, as if they had raised an army to take me down, and even if it was for my own good, I was too drunk to think rationally. Subconsciously, I started to back towards the door.
“But I’m pretty sure there is a reason. This just isn’t like you. You really don’t get drunk that often,” Danny argued. “If you tell us what’s wrong we can help you.”
I shook my head. “I don’t need help.”
I groaned as I felt someone carefully shaking me and unwillingly opened my eyes. “What?” I whined in a hoarse voice as I squinted.
I was met with a gentle smile from a beautiful man leaning over me. I think my eyes visibly widened. That always looks good.
“Sorry to wake you sleepyhead, but we’re pulling into King’s cross,” he told me.
I sat up, a confused frown on my face.
“What happened?” he guessed from my expression, an amused grin on his face. I nodded, a small blush creeping into my cheeks. “You passed out, and Scorpius did his little panic ritual, and then I convinced him you weren’t dead, and we lay you on here to let you rest. And then everyone wanted to talk about you, but they weren’t being very good at hushed tones and no one wanted to wake you, so they found a mostly empty compartment nearby to shamelessly gossip about you,” he explained.
“And by mostly empty you mean at least two random people I go to school with have reason to believe I’m an alcoholic? And quite possibly a raging psychopath?” I replied dryly.
“Well… yes, but it’s just two, and I think they’re the most innocent first years I ever laid my eyes on,” he reassured me.
“That’s even worse. Extra shocking, extra fascinating, extra talking about it.”
“I’m pretty sure I’ve had around 14 articles written about me under that title.”
I laughed. “How come you aren’t shamelessly gossiping about me?” I inquired.
“I don’t take part in such activities, having been a victim my entire life,” he responded dramatically. “Plus someone had to be here to guard your body.”
“You make me sound like a historical figure’s corpse.”
“You know what I mean,” he said, rolling his eyes as I stretched. “You could have choked on your own vomit.”
How attractive. There’s an image for you.
“That didn’t happen did it?” I checked, only partly serious.
“No, you didn’t vomit at all. You did almost fall right off your seat at one point but no worries, I caught you with my mad Quidditch skills,” he bragged smugly.
I could hardly keep a smile off my face. Wow I would have loved to be conscious for that. But then I probably would’ve stared way too affectionately at his face and made everything uncomfortable. “Fast and strong. You’ll make a great auror,” I commented casually, but from how bright he beamed I could tell I had said something that really meant a lot to him.
“You really think so?” he asked.
“Of course. You’re smart, brave, strong, fast, willing to put people before you-” (Note to self – maybe you should stop here before you get carried away in listing every reason why Albus Potter is perfect and start talking about his arse) “- and clearly very good at saving people. It’ll just be a shame when I’m asleep on trains in future and you’re not here to catch me because you’re off on super important missions.”
He chuckled as the train came to a gentle stop. “I’ll be sure to set aside time to catch you,” he promised.
Oh dear Merlin I forgot how to breathe.
“I’m pretty sure Scorp called dibs on that when I was born,” I remarked as we waited in silent agreement for the other teenagers to file out of the train.
“He sure does jump at the opportunity to save you,” Al observed.
“Yeah but I don’t know how much that is what he wants to do or what he feels like he has to do, y’know?”
“Yeah, but you can’t really blame him.”
“Oh God no, I really don’t know what I would do without him. I really love that about him. People like Scorpius are once in a blue moon, and I really needed that once. I mean if he hadn’t have been there, I…” I trailed off as the conversation got deeper, not wanting to make Al uncomfortable.
“I know,” he nodded in considerate understanding.
But he didn’t know.
Because there is one thing that not even Al or Alice knows, that Danny only found out a year later when I curled up in his arms with a bottle of butterbeer and cried about it, and he cried too, because there are some things in this world that are simply too awful for us to share.
“We need to talk,” Alice announced authoritatively as she hopped into the kitchen on her crutches.
James may or may not have convinced his mum to help speed up Alice’s recovery just enough for the doctors to not overthink it and she was released from hospital the day before we came home. James hadn’t officially moved in because they’d only been around each other for a couple of weeks, but he brought her home and stayed with her and planned to stay around for Christmas. You could look at these two and see how much they loved each other. I really do believe they could be together, and never fall apart. They fit together. They bring out this carefree happiness that they both can be very closed off about in each other so that everyone around can be happy with them.
If I could get past my feelings for Albus and have a love like Alice and James’s, I think I’d be so happy.
But back to the kitchen.
“And what is it we need to talk about?”
“Your new drinking problem.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay seriously can we drop this? I don’t have a drinking problem. I’m 100% sober.”
That’s not to say that I’m happy about it.
“Scorpius says you haven’t been sober for more than two hours for about a week. What happened?” she demanded.
“Nothing happened,” I responded immediately. “Firewhiskey tastes really good.”
“Since about a week ago,” I answered brightly with a satisfied smile on my face. She shot me a very dry look. “Alice, honestly, I’m fine. If something was up you know that Scorp would have got it out of me by now,” I reassured her.
She sighed. “I’m watching you carefully Emerald. We small people have to stick together.”
“Of course. After all, it is the foundation of our entire friendship. Why, if you had a growth spurt, I would surely have to disown you,” I replied dramatically.
“I think it’s safe to say I’m done growing,” she reassured me. “As are you, most probably. Which means that I will be the taller one forever.”
I didn’t even consider Alice short. We’d taken turns at being taller than one another by at the most three inches and finally come to a standstill with her being 2 inches taller than me. So when anyone mocked her for her height she showed them pictures of us stood side by side to make her feel better about herself.
Don’t judge me for being five foot tall. I DON’T LIKE MILK OKAY?
I shrugged it off. “My brother is Scorpius and my best friend is Danny. I’m used to being the smaller one. But this reminds me: CHRISTMAS TREE.”
“We’re actually about to set off for it. We’re getting the bus because James drives like an alcoholic and I drive like a person on crutches. Scorpius and Albus are going to meet us there and bring it back but I have to pick it out because you saw what Scorpius brought home last year. And I want to show Maisy and James the Christmas lights we have around here. Would you care to join us?”
“I’m good, thanks,” I answered. “I’m going to stay here and not drink all the alcohol.”
“Emerald,” Alice said seriously. Alice only calls me Emerald when I’m in trouble. “If you drink whilst we’re gone you know Scorpius is going to hold your hand and never let go. Albus had to drag him out of the house for their Quidditch game if you remember. If he comes back and finds you passed out or counting imaginary stars he’s going to chain you up. If there is something wrong you have to tell someone. Me, or Danny, or Scorp, just someone.”
I looked her straight in the eye and lied, “I’m fine Alice. Nothing’s wrong. You have to stop worrying. Now go pick the best Christmas tree you can find. The nearest bus stop is miles away so you better get going.”
“That’s good with us. it’s not icy outside and we still have plenty of catching up to do for a year without each other.”
At that moment, James walked into the kitchen blowing raspberries into a giggling Maisy’s stomach. His face lit up as he laughed at her, and Alice’s face lit up as she laughed at him, and they were so perfect that I didn’t want to be here because I just wanted them to have this. I wanted them to have this to themselves.
When I saw the three of them together, I felt something that I had never been familiar with: hope. Hope that there are still happily ever afters and families who love each other and little boys and girls who are raised nicely and grow up nicely and start their own happily ever afters, and in the midst of all this sadness, there is a chance of happiness, there is a light that never goes out.
“Are we good to go?” James asked politely.
Alice nodded. “We’ll be back in about two hours, Em. Maybe less if Maisy gets tired.”
“I’ll be here.”
“Bye, Emma,” James smiled, before they left me alone in the kitchen.
I leant against the counter lost in thought for about ten minutes after the front door closed before I reached into my pocket and pulled out the note. I read over it again.
Two very dark feelings started to rise up inside of me: one was fear, and one was hate. They were fighting each other inside of me, trying to smother one another, making it impossible to think straight, and everything was fear or hate, and I wasn’t sure quite how to handle it. So of course I reached into the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of firewhiskey.
And as my thoughts got darker and darker, I got drunker and drunker, and I knew I was in danger of myself, and I knew I should get a hold of Scorpius right away before I did something stupid. I mean, the alcohol hadn’t quite caught up with me yet, since I could still think clearly enough to know to get Scorp, but I just couldn’t. And then it was too late, my chance was gone.
“You reported me to the ministry.”
The second bottle, half empty, dropped from my hands and shattered to a million pieces of glass on the cold marble ground.
I could hardly breathe as I turned around to see the pale, thin man in the black cloak, looking so like his father with his eyes filled with hate barely masking the fear that drove him. It was eight o’clock at night, roughly, and his face fit the eerie glow of the moonlight through the window behind me.
“I’m sorry?” I asked, finally finding my voice. I hadn’t seen this man since I was thirteen.
“You reported me to the Ministry. The death eaters heard news that the aurors were searching for me, in the hopes of prosecuting me for my wife’s murder.”
“D…death eaters?” I repeated, confused, my brow creasing. I was quite surprised I could remember this in the state I was in. “There are no death eaters anymore. They were forced to make the unbreakable vow. If they start plotting or even associating with one another, they’ll die. There are no death eaters.”
“Don’t try to trick me with your stories, girl,” he argued. “You reported me to The Ministry for murdering Astoria.”
Here, oh so conveniently, the alcohol really started to kick in. I could feel my fear dying away, my hate strengthening. I was losing my cares. I was losing grip on the severity of my situation, on my vulnerability in the situation. I was losing grip of everything.
“Why would I do that?” I asked, muddled. “I don’t even know how she died.”
“Then why do I have the aurors searching for me?” he inquired furiously, taking an angry, firm step towards me.
“You don’t. Scorpius and I didn’t tell anyone about you,” I lied. “No one is looking for you.”
“You’re lying,” he insisted.
“Did you kill her?” I asked suddenly.
His face curled in disgust. “I beg your pardon?”
“I said: did you kill her?” I repeated. My tone was angry. I felt angry. ‘I shouldn’t be taking this risk,’ I told myself. ‘He’s better than you; he’s more dangerous than you.’
“I do not answer to you, filth,” he spat.
“This is my house since you left it.”
“HOW DARE I? HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU WRECK ME?! HOW DARE YOU LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME?! HOW DARE YOU HURT MY BROTHER?! HOW DARE YOU KILL MY MOTHER?! HOW DARE YOU TAKE AWAY MY CHILDHOOD JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE BROKEN! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BREAK EVERYONE ELSE?!” I screamed, red hot fury flashing through my veins.
Then this look over took his face, and I knew that I had never been so stupid, and I would never ever be so stupid, not ever again. Because he took a moment to stare at me before he stormed towards me.
I didn’t try to defend myself. My wand was in the living room. I didn’t try to run. I would have fallen. Everything was already swaying though I was stood in one place. I was familiar with this. Granted, I’d never been drunk for it. I wondered if it would hurt.
A/N: What. Did I. Just do. To Emerald? :O YOU WILL FIND OUT. Nothing belongs to me. ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ is a song by The Smiths in case any of you recognised it. It doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to The Smiths, and The Smiths don’t belong to me either, they belong to The Smiths. What else, what else, I can’t remember who requested it BUT THERE WAS MORE ALBUS IN THIS CHAPTER SO THERE DREAMS DO COME TRUE and I plan to have more Albus very soon.
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