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Deteriorate by chocolate119
Chapter 18 : Confession
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 15


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Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.







Chapter 18: Confession

 

James spent two days wallowing in his office on the pitch.

I spent two days feeling guilty in the kitchen with about ten chocolate cakes to myself.

Albus spent two days going from the pitch to the kitchens and then back again, repeatedly informing us both that we were dumb.

Thanks, Al.

We still had two more days of break before the castle was retaken by the rest of the obnoxious students (as if us, the ones left, weren’t the most obnoxious ones) and I was still in the kitchens. Not like I could move even if I wanted to though.

I had a comfy armchair all to myself, thanks to some nifty transfigurations (ahem, thanks, Al), and the house elves had set me up with a table of calories. I even had my wand to summon plates and bowls that I couldn’t reach. And I had a book, so my dreams of reading for the rest of my life with all of my food coming to me without having to get up were finally coming true.

I’m going to be so fat by the end of the week. I must’ve already gained twenty pounds after quitting Quidditch, and all this food had to be an added fifty. I probably now weighed close to two hundred pounds. Awesome.

“What’s with you?” Louis raised an amused eyebrow when he walked up to me scowling at the cupcake I was eating.

“I probably weigh about two hundred pounds.”

Louis snorted. “You barely weigh 120, Rina. I think barely 115 when you were checked into the hospital wing.”

My eyes widened. “But-but I used to weigh one-hundred-and-eighteen-and-a-half before I quit Quidditch!” I cried.

Louis snorted again.

“Oh God!” I stuffed the rest of the cupcake into my mouth and then summoned a giant extra chocolate fudge, chocolate chip brownie cake covered in extra chocolate icing with tons of chocolate sprinkles.

(Alright, so maybe I’m a bit depressed).

“Okay, Rina,” Louis quickly snatched the fork and the cake from my hands before I could dig in.

He’s my new Enemy Number One.

“You know, I think you’re the only girl I know that tries to regularly gain weight.”

“I’m 5’10”!” I cried. “This isn’t healthy!”

“I think that’s what we’ve been saying for months, Rina,” Louis sighed, sitting down in a boring wooden chair next to me. “This is what happens when you start avoiding the Great Hall.”

“I live in the kitchens!”

“With cake,” Louis reminded. “You need some meat on your bones, not diabetes.”

I scowled. “What do you want?”

Louis sighed, running his hands over his face. “Rose says that Allison walked into the dormitory, sat down on her bed and started to cry.”

My heart stopped.

“She says that she won’t say anything,” he looked back at me with a heart-wrenching expression. “She and Callie don’t know what to do.”

~*~

If I were a muggle movie, I would’ve run through the castle up to Gryffindor tower, shouted the password at the Fat Lady, and flown up the stairs to the dormitory, bursting through the door just in time to make Allie all better.

But I’m not a muggle movie.

So, instead, Louis had to half carry me to the portrait hole at a snail’s pace with me shouting at him to hurry it up please, I had to endure a ten minute lecture from the Fat Lady about mistreating my loved ones while Louis smirked all smugly at me, I practically crawled up the stairs, and then fell into the dormitory in time for Callie to hurry over and usher me to my bed while Rose told me off for wandering around by myself when I could barely stand.

Yeah, like that’s really all we have to worry about when Best Friend is over there with silent tears streaming down her face as if her entire world’s fallen apart.

“She won’t even look at me,” Callie whispered, appearing close to tears herself.

I looked at her myself, sat up in her bed with her legs pulled to her chest, hugging them tight as her chin rested on her knees and she stared at the opposite wall, tears cascading down her cheeks, eyes red, strands of blonde hair stuck to her face.

I felt my heart shatter.

She turned to me suddenly, her hollow eyes meeting mine across the room.

“You were right.”

Oh no.

“This is that day,” she went on. Her voice was hoarse, barely above a whisper, filled with tears.

I felt a twist in the pit of my stomach.

Why do people always cry when I’m right?

“This is that day where I fall in love and realize how deep I’ve dug myself into that hole.”

And here we go again.

Fantastic.

I should really stop being right.

“I think,” I joined her on her bed, sitting across from her and not breaking eye contact, “this is a good time to take a very deep breath and stop crying.”

She stared at me incredulously.

“That way, your brain has a moment to start working and be used for the first time in ages.”

“Could you not, Rina?” Allison glared through her tears before looking away. “This is just not a really good time. I’ve just realized that I’ve destroyed my life.”

“Allie –“ Rose started.

“I mean, I thought it was going to get better now but…” Her dead eyes made their way back to mine, just for a moment. “I thought that I still had my chance, and I thought that I’d taken it.”

“You did,” Callie said desperately.

Allison only shook her head, however. “It was just an illusion; a false hope that someone worth something would…”

There was silence for a moment as Allison went back to staring at her wall.

It was then that I really noticed the ring around her middle finger that she’d been twisting around for ages.

And then my heart melted.

It was duct tape.

Jacob had once decorated it with markers and had it proclaiming sloppily “All My Love” before presenting it to Sophie on their first Christmas after being married. The rule was to make the gifts, and he wasn’t very creative, so he asked me for help. I wasn’t all that creative either, but I’d picked up the duct tape and the markers and laid them out on the kitchen table along with anything else we could find on that Christmas Eve night.

We’d both stared at the various useless materials scattered across the wooden table, me fully aware of the confidential information that Sophie had made him brownies.

It was hopeless.

“It’s the thought that counts, Jake,” I’d told him after quitting and going to bed after midnight.

Mum and Dad had been at some posh Christmas party that night, so I spent the night with Jacob and Sophie. We were going to go over to do presents at home in the morning, but that morning when we were having breakfast, me shoveling my food down my throat so that I could go open my presents fast, Jacob cleared his throat nervously, garnering mine and Sophie’s attention.

“I didn’t know what to make you,” he admitted, tugging on the collar of his sweater. “But I had this thought, and I wanted you to have it.”

Sophie had actually cried when Jake presented her with the duct tape and marker ring with its thought, “All My Love.”

My closet romantic started peeping out at the breakfast table that Christmas morning as they began kissing. I threw my cereal at them, but I couldn’t get rid of that big cheesy grin on my face for the rest of break.

The next Christmas, my parents died.

Jake and Sophie brought me to Kings Cross Station at the end of break. I barely noticed through my haze when Sophie pulled me aside and slid the duct tape and marker ring onto my finger, kissing my cheek as she hugged me tight. “So that you know that you’re always loved,” she’d whispered in my ear. “So that you remember that love always exists.”

The marker was starting to fade, but I didn’t think the thought ever would.

By the next fall, my mood and my attitude were at its worst. I barely noticed anything anymore, and I forgot Rose’s birthday.

But I’d been fighting with her for ages and we could just barely get along anymore. We were fighting the entire week of her birthday.

But she was my best friend, and I loved her. By then, the marker may have been faint, but I still loved her as much as I had when I’d met her and she became my best friend, always there. So I gave her the duct tape ring.

Rose was having a really hard time admitting that she loved Scorpius, and as a result, they fought constantly. Well, it was mostly Rose screaming at Scorpius and upsetting him, which led to Albus becoming annoyed with Rose.

The two cousins bickered all winter, and Rose could barely stand the sight of him by the end of it.

Callie had to remind her that he was her brother and that she loved him, so to remind him, she gave him the duct tape ring, the marker but a shadow.

Allison was moping around that spring for quite some time. She was upset, because she had to share Al with his then girlfriend Melissa, and Allison had never been very good at sharing. She’d been feeling neglected and ignored, and she’d been extremely moody as a result. It had been a bright Saturday afternoon when Albus had skipped out on meeting her in the library to study for the upcoming Arithmancy O.W.L.s in favor of spending time with Melissa instead.

But Allie had smiled when Albus dropped onto the couch next to her that evening and slung an arm around her, grabbed her hand and sliding the plain duct tape ring onto her middle finger.

Neither had said anything, but in the depths of my cynical mind, back where my closet romantic was hiding, I’d probably smiled.

“He loves you,” I blurted out before I could catch myself.

She turned to stare at me.

“It’s just the words that faded, but never the thought,” I went on, a cheesy grin threatening to creep onto my face.

“No matter what you do or who you become, all he’s going to remember fifty years from now is the little blonde girl that snatched the last chocolate muffin from his hands on his very first morning eating breakfast in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. That blonde’s the best friend he gave his love to,” I nodded to the ring.

Allison stared at me blankly for a moment.

“Are you out of your mind?” she finally questioned incredulously.

“Do you remember when you asked me if I could think of anybody?” I asked in response. “Remember when you asked me if I thought you could have that?”

Allison stared at me for a long while.

“You’re out of your mind,” she concluded. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Funny,” I rolled my eyes sarcastically, “That’s what everyone said when I announced I was going to play matchmaker for Callie and Austin,” I reminded. “I knew a good bit about it all then, didn’t I?”

“You did what?” Callie sent me a look.

“Oh please,” I rolled my eyes, glancing around at her. “That git would still be muddling around thinking the entire idea of him being good enough for you to be preposterous if I hadn’t taken the effort to clue him in.”

She just stared a bit more.

I rolled my eyes again before turning back to Allison. “I was also the first one to bet on Rosie and Scorpius, remember? Trust me on this.”

She blinked down at the duct tape ring again before looking back up at me, that little girl with faith in the world staring back at me. “You think?”

“I know,” I averred positively.

~*~

Allison had barely stepped off the staircase after Callie and Rose helped me hobble down before Albus had grabbed her hand and dragged her from the common room.

The only explanation anyone got was a quick but determined, “I have to talk to you.”

I was grinning like a mad woman down at the Gryffindor table sandwiched in between Callie and Louis.

I don’t think I’ve been this ecstatic since –

“You know, I don’t think I’ve seen you this ecstatic since Valentine’s Day,” Callie observed.

I grinned a bit more (which was actually possible as it turns out).

“Albus has this way of making your entire life without even realizing it,” I explained, picking up a blueberry muffin.

Callie smiled as well, shaking her head. “You said the same thing about Austin that day.”

“Well, I am generally fantastic,” Austin puffed out his chest.

Callie and I both rolled our eyes as I bit into my muffin, but she went so far as to kiss his lips afterwards, which consequently inflated his ego a bit more.

“Way to go, Cals,” Rose rolled her eyes as well while Austin smirked smugly.

“Well,” I continued to grin as I finished off my muffin. “It’s that look on their faces that makes my life,” I admitted.

“Which one?” Scorpius raised an eyebrow.

“It’s the one,” I waved my fork around a bit before digging into my eggs. “When Callie sat down next to Austin in Herbology on Valentine’s Day and he looked at her with that look on his face,” I looked back up at them and explained. “When I just mentioned to Albus that he’s in love with Allison that day in the library, he just blinked at me once and his entire expression changed. It was that look when Rose came storming into the common room on our first Friday night of fourth year, and she didn’t understand why no one wanted to do their homework,” I turned to Scorpius. “I looked at you and you had that look on your face for a second before you were on your feet and snogging her out her mind.”

Scorpius and Rose both turned a brilliant shade of red while I smiled some more, glancing around to the others.

“It’s that look that says ‘Oh shit, I’m in love,’ and you entirely surrender yourself to the fact,” I sighed, returning to my eggs. “I’ve seen that look four times now. The first time I saw it was the summer after my first year when I first met Sophie,” I remembered. “I didn’t like her much because I’d just gotten back from school and Jake had no time for me because he liked her better. She met us at the zoo. Jake said I wasn’t allowed to have ice cream until after we ate lunch, so I got mad at him. When he went to find the restroom, Sophie bought me this huge chocolate cone. When he got back I had chocolate ice cream and the hugest grin on my face at the elephant house, and when I looked at him, he was looking at Sophie with that look on his face and the vague concept of love began to make sense to me for the first time in my life.”

Rose rolled her eyes again while Austin snorted.

“Closet romantic in denial?” he raised an eyebrow at me.

I sent him a glare and returned to my breakfast. “I just love that I know from the moment I see that look on your faces that my girls will be happy for the rest of their lives. I know that, and I feel a bit of that stress in my mind melt away, and I breathe a little easier, and I can sleep at night in peace. I stop worrying about Rose stressing herself out and Callie moping and Allison in broom closets.”

Louis only shook his head. “You stop getting involved and meddling?” he raised an eyebrow. “That’ll never happen.”

I crossed my arms and sent him a look. “When was the last time I interfered in Rosie’s life?”

“When she claimed she couldn’t possibly know anything about love, and said she was absolutely certain she wasn’t in love with Scorpius,” he answered back immediately. “You refused to believe her and wouldn’t leave her alone for weeks.”

“But that’s because I was right, and I was afraid she was going to do something stupid,” I defended. “And I would’ve panicked a hell of a lot more if I hadn’t seen that look on Scorpius’s face that told me he was head over heels out of his mind.”

“Will someone please remind me what’s the point of discussing my love life at breakfast?” Rose demanded, sending me an annoyed look.

I shrugged. “Just a topic of discussion.”

“Would you like it if I turned your love life into a topic of discussion?” she raised an eyebrow.

I snorted, picking my fork back up. “I have no love life.”

“You’re in love with the best friend you’ve been fighting with for the past two years,” she reminded.

“Okay, first of all,” I looked back at her, “I’m not fighting with him anymore. And second, a one-sided crush doesn’t constitute as much of a love life.”

“Not to mention you haven’t so much as kissed a bloke in about two years,” Austin piped up.

I sent him a glower.

He actually seemed happy about the fact.

Dumb-arse, pratty little, git-prick dickhead.

I hate you, Donald.

“I hate you, Donald.”

Rose hit him on the head for me.

Thank you, Rosie.

Thank you, Rosie.”

“He’s right, though.”

Bint.

“Bint,” I grumbled darkly, returning my attention to my plate.

Fine, so maybe I haven’t had much of a dating life, ever. It’s not bad to be a bit particular about who I decided to crush on.

I mean, if I don’t watch myself, I end up chasing after people like James.

God, I’m so screwed.

I start to panic every time I think of that little situation. It’s relatively ignorable if I don’t think about it, but when people bring it up…

Damn it, now my head hurts.

I set my fork down again and instead picked up my glass of chocolate milk, finishing it before getting up from the table.

“I’m taking a walk,” I mumbled as I stumbled to my feet.

“But you can’t walk,” Rose reminded, jumping up as well.

I sent her a glare.

Scorpius pulled her back down onto the bench and handed her a goblet of pumpkin juice. “Breathe,” he told her.

She hesitated as she took the goblet, but Louis stood up and grabbed my arm as I stumbled a bit again. “She’ll be fine,” he assured the redhead before turning to send me a look before I could protest.

I closed my mouth and sighed, conceding. “Yes, Rose; Louis’s coming with me,” I told her through gritted teeth.

“Stop being dramatic, Rina,” Callie waved a hand at me as Louis rolled his eyes at me.

Stupid Veela.

“Come on,” he tugged gently on my arm. “Fresh air will do you good.”

Louis let me walk by myself for the most part, just keeping a firm grip on my arm to keep me upright.

“You know, you are actually allowed to like James,” he told me as we stepped out onto the grounds.

I snorted. “Sounds chaotic.”

“Yeah, because Rosie and Scorpius aren’t chaotic.”

Touché.

I glance up at him and sighed. “They fit because they’re so different. James and I are too alike.”

“Rose and Scorpius are too different,” he said. “Callie and Austin, I could see right away. Same with Albus and Allison; they fit. I thought you were out of your mind when you suggested Rose and Scorpius, though. They’re so beyond opposites, they shouldn’t work, but they do. You and James are so alike that you shouldn’t work either, but I think you might.”

“Might?” I raised an eyebrow.

“You shouldn’t,” he admitted. “But I remember seeing that look on your face, too. That evening in the common room when Callie suggested it.  ‘Oh, shit; I’m in love.’”

“You know, that’s what I was thinking then, too,” I smiled wryly.

“You know, I think I’m starting to breathe a little easier,” he smiled back.

I snorted. “I’m starting to panic.”

“Why?”

I shrugged as I carefully stepped over a rock on the green. “I feel overwhelmed.”

“Why?” Louis repeated.

“I don’t know,” I looked back up at him. “When I get involved in your lives, it’s only when I’m absolutely confident beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t know at all about this, though. I keep out of things when I don’t know. Probably because that’s when I get overwhelmed and start panicking.”

Louis looked at me for a moment as we came to a stop before starting to walk again. “You know, you’re terrible at relaxing.”

“Oh, well I’m sorry we can’t all be perfect Veela children,” I snapped. “I’m afraid I can’t handle my stress as gracefully as you can.”

Louis snorted. “I really don’t know how to feel about that, Rina.”

“You know what?” I stopped as we got to the lake and turned to cross my arms at him, “This is why you don’t have a girl; you’re too perfect.”

“No,” he shook his head, “I don’t have a girl because you fell off your broomstick last month, so I couldn’t go home and stood up a girl I may have had a chance with.”

I blink at him for a moment.

That entirely went over my head.

“Umm…”

Louis sighed, pulling me down to sit on the grass next to him.

“I met her in town towards the end of summer, and I liked her,” he began. “I ran into her during the holidays, and she helped me pick out a gift for Lucy,” he chuckled slightly. “I made an absolute fool out of myself when I tried to explain to her why I was in a store that predominantly sold pink skirts to little girls. She was shopping for her little sister and helped me out.”

“She pretty?” I felt a smirk creep onto my lips.
“Gorgeous,” Louis admitted, glancing wistfully across the lake.

“Spend a lot of time with her?” I continued to smirk.

“Practically every day.”

“She like you?”

He sighed, turning back to me with a nod. “I tried not to lead her on, you know, since I had to come back here, but she got offended when she realized I was trying to avoid her towards the end of break…”

“What did you do?” I demanded, feeling myself panic a bit again. If he ruined his chances with this girl before –

“I almost kissed her,” he confessed, running his fingers through his hair. “But then I didn’t….”

I felt my eyes narrow.

“Did you run away?”

He nodded sheepishly, avoiding my eyes.

Prat!” I hit him over the head a few times.

“Hey!” he restrained me, “I went through both Dom and Vic attacking me; I got it.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“I found her the next day; it was the day before we were meant to come back, and I told her the truth,” he explained.

“Truth?” I raised an eyebrow.

Telling a muggle the truth is illegal.

“Well, I evaded the actual truth,” he admitted. “I told her that I was returning to boarding school.”

“And what did she say?” I questioned.

“She asked when I’d be back,” he answered, face tinged slightly red. “I told her Easter, except...I’m here.”

“Harsh,” I grimaced.

“I know,” he agreed with a sigh, looking back across the lake. “She’s probably spent all week cursing my name.”

“Want me to come home with you over summer and explain how it’s all my fault?” I offered.

He shook his head. “I just barely managed to convince her that she couldn’t write me, so she probably knew something was up. She won’t buy whatever story you can cook up to explain this whole thing away. She’s probably already decided I’m a jerk pretty boy.”

“Well, you are a pretty boy,” I admitted, grinning up at him. “A very pretty boy. You could probably use that to your advantage.”

“Thanks,” he rolled his eyes sarcastically, “You know, I really don’t know how I feel about you calling me ‘pretty.’”

“Oh, come on,” I scoffed, “Why do you and Scorpius always get offended by that? Boys can be pretty.”

“Yeah, if they’re poofs.”

I snorted. “You’re an extremely manly and attractive male. Better?”

“Much.”

I rolled my eyes.

Boys.

“You know, you are actually a very beautiful type of boy, Louis,” I told him.

He groaned.

“I’d date you if you didn’t baby me worse than Jake,” I went on nonchalantly.

Rina,” he groaned a bit more.

“What?” I raised an eyebrow at him innocently.

“You treat me worse than Vic and Dom,” he sighed, shaking his head.

“So then we’re even,” I said. “No worries.”

“I’m very manly,” he reminded me.

“I know,” I assured.

“Just because I try to avoid being stupid doesn’t mean –“

“I know, Louis,” I grinned back up at him. “You’re a gentleman.”

He groaned again. “Manly,” he corrected.

I only shook my head again, suppressing another (extremely ladylike) snort. “Victoire and Dominique are your big sisters, Louis,” I reminded him, “You have every excuse to be a gentleman. And you know what?’ I went on before he could interrupt. “You ooze gentlemanliness so much that this girl probably knows it, too, and I’m sure you can explain this to her.”

He sighed, shaking his head. “She makes me act worse the Austin. I’m sure any chance at displaying ‘gentlemanliness’ was out the window when she saw me holding that sparkly eye shadow like a clueless idiot. I couldn’t even remember why I was holding makeup when I saw her.”

I smiled. Louis is a sweetheart. “I’ve decided that I’m going to interfere with this. You know what that means, don’t you?”

“There goes my sanity?” he suggested.

“Well, yes,” I admitted with a nod, “But also that there’s something here.”

He sighed, looking away again, running his fingers through his dark blond hair. “I hope so.”

I grinned a bit more.

“What’s her name?”

Louis smiled a bit. “Amber.”

I turned it over in my head a bit and then grinned.

“What’s she like?”

He was silent for a while, watching the sun glint off the rippling water of the lake.

“You know how people will ask you to explain something and you just can’t think of anything to say?” he asked after a while.

I smiled. “Because they’re to good for words.”

He nodded.

“Then I guess I’ll have to come home with you this summer to meet her myself, won’t I?” I grinned. “I can’t wait to tell her embarrassing stories about you.”

“Hey now!” he cried, whirling around to point a finger in my face. “I’m part-Veela; I’m too graceful and suave to have any embarrassing stories.”

I bit my lip and frowned slightly. He’s right; I’m stumped.

Damn it.

Stupid Veela.

Well…

“There was that time when you got drunk and –“

“I’m a graceful drunk, thanks,” he crossed his arms.

“Unless you catch a glimpse of Sapphire Goode’s bra across the room and end up in the punch bowl in an attempt to get to her,” I reminded. “Alcohol does not impair your werewolf vision it would seem if you could actually see her bra across the room. Even my sober eyes could barely confirm from that far away that her shirt was indeed unbuttoned that low. You’re awfully eager when you discover a girl’s underwear.”

Louis was already bright red and avoiding my eyes.

“But your graceful drunk self assured me that your broom closet rendezvous with Sapphire was entirely worth tripping into the bar and having to wear the food table,” I went on. “You know, that girl is some sort of legend to the rest of us; no one can seem to understand how she managed to lure Louis Weasley of all blokes into a broom closet. I should inform them that they should all start walking around with their bras hanging out. You wouldn’t know who to jump first.”

“Shut up, Rina,” he grumbled, beet red.

“I’ve never seen your eyes light up like that, actually,” I ignored him. “It was like that bra made your whole life. You didn’t even notice the trifle in your hair. She seemed to have made sure to take care of the chocolate icing that had been smeared on your face though….”

Rina,” he warned.

“Yes?” I raised an innocent eyebrow.

He turned away from me stoically, still glowing red, and I couldn’t help a snort.

Louis had been entirely appalled to learn of his behaviors at the end of year party last year. He was a gentleman through and through, and his lecherous behavior had thoroughly terrified him. He’d tried to apologize to Sapphire, but she only seemed interested in another go-round in the broom closet. Austin, Allie and I had been sure to laugh heartily at the look on his face.

Good times.

“Please don’t tell her about that,” he begged.

I smirked a bit. “We’ll see.”

~*~

I hesitated a bit at the entrance to the Quidditch pitch, trepidation once again rising in my chest. Which was stupid, really, because it was James. Why would I, of all people, be afraid of talking to James? He should be the once scared of me; it’s pretty intimidating when I need to talk to someone. I’m pretty scary, see. It’s because I’m always right, and people generally fear the truth. I’m pretty badass, actually, striking fear in the hearts of my friends and peers. Scary-shit.

And yet, I’m getting slightly scared at the thought of talking to James.

Awesome.

I took a deep, steadying breath and stepped onto the pitch.

I then proceeded to nearly sway and fall over, but I managed to catch myself with years of practice.

Louis made me come out here to talk to James because he thought that it was “important” that I do so.

Prat.

He was probably just annoyed at me for spending an hour detailing his most embarrassing moments. When it comes to a git like Louis, he’s so perfect that his embarrassing moments kind of take the cake. It’s a bit amusing actually.

But, the point is, he sent me away so that he could tend to his wounded ego.

Despite that truth, he insisted that, that wasn’t the case at all and it truly was “important” that I talk to James.

I was a bit annoyed at him for lying to me, so I refused to allow him to walk me down.

He was a bit upset at me for insisting on wandering off alone (more like he was scared of Rose); nevertheless, he let me stumble off on my own.

Which left me swaying at the entrance to the Quidditch pitch after an excruciatingly long walk-stumble-trip type journey and endless amounts of time to begin fearing the aspect of talking to James.

Stupid prat Veela.

But since I’m a Gryffindor anyways, I made my (slow) way to the Gryffindor changing rooms and stepped inside.

God, I missed this.

I smiled wryly as I looked around at the lockers and wooden benches, breathing in the scent of broomstick polish, shampoo and sweat. The last time I’d been here, I’d left ecstatic that James hadn’t yelled at me.

The time before that, I’d quit.

I suppose it was time to see which way me luck would sway this time.

I stepped over what appeared to be Fred’s shorts and one of Austin’s abandoned shoes and approached the closed door to James’s Captain’s office.

Hesitating only a moment more, I pushed open the door and peeked in.

Go figure.

James was at the desk, bent over various parchments, the desktop littered with various plays and diagrams.

And he’d been doing so well.

I sighed again and stepped into the room, shutting the door behind myself.

“James.”

“No, Ara,” was his only response. He didn’t even bother to glance up or so much as acknowledge my presence beyond those two words.

“But it’s kinda important,” I stepped farther into the room.

“Really?” He still didn’t look up.

“Louis thinks it is.”

“Oh, well if Louis says,” he scoffed, scribbling away with a quill on whatever little space there was left on his parchment.

James.”

What, Ara?” He finally looked up at me.

My breath caught at the look in his eyes.

They were cold, emotionless, hiding James eyes.

That’s what scared me.

That’s what I’d been scared of in the first place.

“What?” he repeated.

Rose says that I’m just as bad as James, except rather than choosing to hide behind stoicism, I hid behind cynicism.

I’d told her to shut her face and that she didn’t know what she was talking about, at which point Scorpius had sent me one if his “I’m-mad-at-you-but-I’m-too-annoyingly-patient-to-tell-you-off” looks.

“You told me you wouldn’t…relapse or anything,” I reminded him, approaching him and walking around the desk.

“Ara –“

“Do you remember Louis’s birthday?” I asked suddenly, barely making sense of the thoughts running through my head, barely keeping up.

James blinked at me for a moment, but then sighed, setting down his quill. “Thirteen?”

I nodded, clearing some space on the corner of his desk and hopping up. “It was just before we came back to school, a week. We were all at Shell Cottage and Teddy managed to convince use all that diving off that cliff into the ocean would be fun.”

“It was fun,” James reminded, grinning slightly.

“Despite Rose and Callie’s hysterics,” I agreed. “Until you didn’t come back up from the water.”

James ran his fingers through his hair, avoiding my eyes. “Ara –“

“And Callie had that feeling and I knew something was wrong –“

“So you jumped,” James finished with a sigh.

“The thought that you might be dead had me paralyzed with fear for about half-a-second before I jumped,” I corrected, “And I never wanted to feel that feeling again.

“Your foot was caught in some kelp or something, and you were trying, but you just made it worse,” I went on, cold water surrounding me, saltwater stinging my eyes as I forced them open. “And when you looked at me, you were scared.”

“You just barely got that stuff off my foot,” he remembered.

“And everyone was in hysterics, panicking at the beach.” It had been a kind of amusing sight, under any other circumstance. “Your Aunt Fleur screamed at us for hours; she practically grounded us for our parents before sending us back home to them to be more punished. She and Victoire were still screaming at Teddy when I had to come back for my wand the next morning.”

“Hysterical angry Veelas,” James shrugged.

“When I found you on the train the next week, you refused to talk to me,” I looked back to him. “You were furious at me actually.”

“I was a fourteen-year-old boy furious at the fact that his girl best friend had to save his life, actually,” he corrected. “Ego and pride stuff, you know.”

“Yes,” I nodded, “I know.”

“But I’m eighteen now, Ara,” he reminded. “I’m not going to get mad.”

“You actually thought you hated me,” I told him, looking him dead in the eye. “You actually thought you didn’t care anymore. You told them all that I was a selfish, conceited bitch; you told Fred you would’ve left me in the common room.”

James looked away, avoiding my eyes. “I wouldn’t have,” he assured me quietly.

“But you thought you would’ve,” I reiterated. “And you thought I wouldn’t bat an eye if you died, that I couldn’t care less about you and Quidditch and your future. You were convinced that Callie made me bring you that potion and that I quit to screw you over.”

“But I was wrong.”

I nodded. “So was I.”

He glanced back up at me.

“The scariest thing about this isn’t how you choose to handle your near-death experience,” I admitted. “I know you’re a big boy now and can take care of yourself. I’m just scared of everything else.”

“What else?” James frowned.

His eyes had melted to concern as I stared into them. “Of you being mad at me. And When I got over that, I was afraid of that feeling again. That feeling that came with thinking you were dead, twice now. Each time, it was barely half-a-second, but I can’t forget it; I never will. It’s that feeling that’s going to haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life; those two instances of half-a-second of my life. And if you know what happened that night, it becomes real and I can’t hide from it anymore. When you didn’t know, I could pretend that your assumptions were reality, and I could be mad at that. But the truth scares me,” I confessed softly, looking away.

He gently took my hand, which I realized had snapped his quill, and smoothed my fingers out. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” I demanded, pulling my hand back and piercing him with an angry gaze, “For having a good time? You can handle the truth however you want, James, but don’t go feeling guilty for how I handle it.”

“But I –“

“I’m a big girl, too, James,” I reminded. “I can take care of myself as well.”

He looked at me for a moment and then sighed, taking my hand in his again. “I sometimes feel as if I really do need you. When I get way too lost in my head and all I can see is red.”

“Me too,” I admitted, smiling softly, annoyance melting away again in an instant. “That’s what best friends are for, right? To take care of you?”

He nodded, tugging on my hand gently and pulling me off the desk and into his chair.

“When you least want them there,” I went on, “When you think you’re right and you can do it yourself.”

He pulled me into a hug, perched on his legs, and I closed my eyes as my head landed on his chest. I instantly melted into him and his arms, giving in to the need for comfort and James.

“I’ve gone insane without you, Ara,” he spoke into my ear. “Let’s not try it again; I can’t do this alone.”

“Me neither,” I mumbled.

“I’m sorry for making you feel something terrifying,” he said softly.

“It’s okay.”

My ear was pressed against his heart. It beat loud and strong, very much alive.

 

 

 

 






A/N: So...it's been a while. I've been through my first year of college since I saw you all last, believe it or not. And I got close to no writing done, unfortunately. I've been trying though, I promise! This is pretty much what I've got so far. Please review if you readers still exist! Unfortunately, I'm unable to get around to actually answering them these days, but I swear, I still read, love, and take from all of them! Thanks you:)


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