Chapter 8 : Letting Go
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The next morning, I peeled myself away from his naked torso and avoided looking at him as I yanked on my dress, picked up my heels and stuffed my underwear down my bra.
I picked up my, thankfully undisturbed, bag from the common room where an awful lot of people were passed out, and I crept back to my dorm. No one was awake and didn’t appear that they would be for a long time so I took a scorching shower. The steam rose and smothered the mirror, and I tried to wash away the feeling of McFarland’s body on mine.
When I began to wince, I looked down at my sore muscles. I realised I had patches of raw skin, bright pink from my scrubbing, and my joints ached from McFarland’s disconcerting grip.
My body was no longer my own.
With more vehemence, I tried to wash away the invisible marks he had branded all over me.
My thoughts were a little disjointed in the morning, but when I saw Jack at breakfast, I knew what I wanted: I wanted to fuck it all. I wanted him to get the fuck out of my life. I wanted to stop fucking caring.
I wanted to give up.
So I did.
I was ten minutes late to Care of Magical Creatures that morning to be certain Jack wouldn’t be lurking outside. But who cares? I didn’t have any job prospects for after Hogwarts anyway. It turned out that half the class was missing, and as they slowly trickled in I became surrounded by hung over idiots. Hagrid let us play with Nifflers, and Jacob Bailey smiled at me.
Well, it was more of a smirk, but I’ll take what I’m given.
“Hey,” was all he said to me after the lesson, cockily leaning against the castle walls and studying at me through dark eyes.
“Hey,” I mocked back, leaning against the same wall, facing him, barely half a metre away from him.
“I heard some nasty rumours about what happened at the party last night,” he said, smirking. “About you.”
“Really?” I asked, putting a hand over my mouth and dropping my bottom jaw acerbically. “However did that happen?”
“Well, these guys are saying you fucked McFarland,” he said. “You do know he’s not very good, don’t you?”
“I do now,” I snickered, dropping the expression and hand.
I brushed away the feeling of being less, warping it and forcing it to show me how wanted I am. That at least this boy thought I was desirable. I was desirable. I had value, and I didn’t have to care to have it.
He grinned. “How about I show you how to do it properly?”
His free hand drifted upwards, fingers skimming over the hem of my shirt and over my stomach, over my chest and loosely closing around my tie.
I took a small step closer, standing up properly.
“Depends how good you are,” I said, letting my eyes linger on his lips.
“Next to McFarland... I’m expert.”
“Aww, won’t your pretty little girlfriend mind?”
“She won’t know.”
Is it so wrong to want to be wanted?
Transfiguration was a bore: Jenna (?) Waters sat somewhere else, and Hanson took this vacated seat as an invitation. His hand constantly kept stroking the side of my leg, gripping and resting on my upper thigh, shuffling his chair as close as possible.
I leant into him, just because Jack- Hartland, kept glaring over at us. Well, possibly just glaring at him.
I didn’t really know which, and didn’t care to find out.
Burning my Charms homework was pretty fun. Turned them into fireworks outside class, and got sent to the Headmaster’s office. I went to the Room of Requirement and had a little bit too much Firewhiskey.
Hiding from my own family is remarkably easy when there are only three of them.
I realised this as I ate in the kitchens, successfully ignoring the stupidly helpful elves who kept drivelling on about my aunt, how she had helped them, how amazing she is...
Blah de fucking blah.
Bailey and I had been kissing in an old classroom when he realised he was twenty minutes late to meet Aimee (the girlfriend, apparently) and left but asked if we could continue some other time, say, in three hours?
I shrugged and asked why not. It’d be fun.
Unfortunately, that had left me with a window of time that was a window of boredom. I couldn’t look out of this metaphorical window- McFarland was boasting at breakfast about shagging me, and I was almost certain anyone who knew me and snooping bastards who didn’t would ask if the rumours were true.
What could I say to them?
‘Yeah, but McFarland’s only about a 3. Jacob Bailey gave me more pleasure just sucking on my neck.’
As much as I’d be sarcastic, it probably would be ignored and the whole school would assume I was a whore to which I’d say my services are free, and then I’d be in double the trouble.
I’d even been skipping lessons- even potions, because I was useless at it anyway. I’d missed a scheduled Quidditch practice and I was pretty sure I’d had a Prefect meeting, but... I couldn’t be bothered. It all seemed pointless.
I refused to be alone.
It was all Ellie’s fault, I decided as I crunched on some purple dessert that the elves had thrusted at me. She had left me pining after a dream that wasn’t real; her future and mine intertwined, giving me false hope with her phases of honesty. She wasn’t herself any more I should accept that.
And I had. I would. I truly believed that they were the same thing.
Life felt weird for a few days; I finally was in control. New guys would approach me every day, and I felt so beautiful and precious, but then they’d leave and I’d be alone again and they were never right. They never fit anyway.
Bailey never turned up. It turned out that one of her friends had spotted me and him together. She’d slapped him. She hated me, supposedly.
It was after those few days that I finally came across Roxanne, who immediately dragged me to the side of the corridor, and I could feel the eyes of half the people passing on us. I rolled my eyes carelessly at her tight and forceful grip. She had no control over me- but I did.
“Lily,” she started fiercely, “I’ve been hearing all sorts of shit about you and-“
“McFarland? Yeah, he’s quite a good shag.”
Her eyes widened in disgust. I rolled mine again, turning away and looking for Alex Griffiths. According to Sammy, he wanted to ‘talk’ to me.
Roxanne seemed to be without words, so I filled in for her.
“Please, don’t look at me like that. You told me that I need to start living a bit more- look at me go! Lost my virginity and everything,” I smirked, catching Alex’s eye. He winked at me and slipped down into an old classroom. “Now, I’ve got to go, lots of guys to shag-“
“Roxanne!” I mocked. “Don’t bother, kid.”
I left her, speechless, and fell into the waiting hands of Alex, who tasted like smoke and coffee.
“Miss Potter, could you possibly tell me why you are so late?” barked Professor Gardner.
“No. I left all my excuses in Griffith’s mouth,” I threw back. I was in control. I had that power. She didn’t.
There were a few laughs from the class, but most of them just looked shocked.
McFarland whistled, winking at me. I winked back, smirking.
Gardner narrowed her eyes at me. “Do you even have your homework?”
“The essay? Nah, that’s in his mouth too,” I smirked, throwing my bag onto my desk. I could feel the eyes of everyone in the room on me as I smiled my twisted smile and twirled my hair.
“Outside, Miss Potter.”
“My pleasure,” I said solemnly, curtseying and sweeping out once more.
The door slammed behind her, but we could still hear the class begin to babble through their theories.
“Miss Potter, you are fifteen minutes late, making up blatant lies and disturbing the peace of my classroom. Tell me where you have been this instant!” she demanded, anger bursting from her grey eyes.
I grinned. “Do I have to draw you a diagram?”
She bristled, looking highly affronted. “Do not talk to me in such a crude way, Miss-“
“It’s not like we shagged before I came here,” I snorted, loosely staring away from her. “We’re doing that later.”
“Potter, yeah. Stop wearing it out.”
The door swung open, and Jack was stood there, livid. He slammed it shut, eyes set on me.
“What the hell, Lily?”
I snorted again. “That’s Potter to you and shouldn’t you be getting busy with Tina? I mean, it’s about time you got some action- you’re going to be the only virgin in seventh year at this rate-“
Gardner shoved an arm in front of Jack to stop him as he started towards me, amazed fury painted across his face.
“Lily, what has happened to you?” asked Gardner faintly.
“Well, three days ago McFarland and I shagged-“
There was a bang and we all turned to a Professor Thomas, followed closely by an ashen-faced Roxanne who had both burst through the door leading to the stairs.
One look and I knew exactly what she had done.
“Traitor,” I said to her coolly, and she flinched away.
“Miss Potter,” Dean addressed with a grave authority I couldn’t place, “follow me to my office.”
I raised my eyebrows at him.
“Where’s the magic word?” I asked sweetly, fluttering my eyelashes at him.
“I apologize. Please, Miss Potter, I asked that you attend to a meeting in my office, as it is urgent.”
“That’s all you had to say,” I mocked, despite his sincerity.
Gardner Summoned my bag after ordering Jack back into the classroom, and handed it to me. She stared at me as though I was something alien. I saluted to her as I left.
Silently, Roxanne and I followed after Dean. It took me several minutes to realise she was crying, and when I did I almost wanted to reach out, hold her hand. Tell her I was sorry.
There was a small part of me, a vindictive and cruel part, that was glad she was suffering. At least, the sadistic voice reasoned, it shows someone else is in pain too. I’m not alone. The control thing was good for me. I wasn’t alone.
We followed past the stone gargoyles, up the hidden staircase, and through the door to the headmaster’s office. I went in straight after Professor Thomas, but sorely regretted it.
A flame of red and sweep of dark hair stood beside the desk, and my mum and dad turned to me.
I felt conscious of my skirt, pulled up unreasonably high, the popped buttons on my shirt and my tie, not even knotted.
They stared at me and I stared at them until I heard a faint sniff behind me. I swelled in indignation.
“You really are a fucking traitor,” I sneered at Roxanne, turning to her. “You had to go blabbing to mummy and daddy, didn’t you? Well thanks a lot, now I’m in deep shit. Is that what you wanted?”
“Miss Potter, please mind your language,” Dean said softly as she began to cry again.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, what are the crocodile tears for?” I demanded, rolling my eyes. “I’m the one in trouble, not you. You’ve seen to that.”
“Don’t blame Roxy,” mum said strongly, and I heard her walk up behind me. “She wants to help.”
“She wants the Head Girl badge, that’s what she wants.”
Suddenly, I heard a smack and felt myself fall sideways. “DON’T YOU DARE TURN THIS ON ME, LILY! DON’T YOU DARE!”
My cheek was tingling, and I glared at her, mustering as much revulsion up as possible.
“You’ve lost it, Lily,” she continued, tears brimming over and face crumpling. “You’re going as mad as Ellie.”
“Ellie’s not mad, Roxy,” dad reprimanded.
“Fine, then!” she said hysterically. “Lily’s the insane one, and Ellie’s practically healthy! The point is that this isn’t you-“
“Aww, did I not give you the memo? It is now,” I sneered.
Dad took several calm steps forward. “Why don’t we all just sit down?”
His efforts at producing peace were sadly interrupted by a popping in the fireplace and Al and James’ arrival.
“Why are they here?” I demanded.
They left me. They were the salt. My heart was the wound.
“Bloody hell, Lily, button your shirt up,” James said cheerfully, jumping into a seat. “What is this, a street corner?”
“Fuck off, James,” I snapped. “Shouldn’t you be in South America with Chelsea?”
“I heard my little sister was in trouble! I thought I’d come and watch.”
“You’re not needed for this.”
“Au contraire, little sister,” he grinned. “This looks like fun. Oh, and who’ve you been snogging?”
“Your lips are like, bright red.”
I rubbed at them angrily, flipping him off.
Al had edged around me, clearly stunned by my appearance, and put an arm around Roxanne. “Are you okay?”
She nodded, wiping her face.
“Drop the act, sweetie,” I advised her snobbishly. “It doesn’t suit you.”
James raised an eyebrow. “That’s Roxy.”
“And you’re James. So fucking what?”
“Lily, what’s wrong?” mum demanded, walking over and taking my shoulders in her soft grip.
I jerked away from her to stare out of the window, and blink back the tears. She felt the same. She smelt the same. She even looked and sounded the same.
“She’s messed up,” Roxanne suddenly sobbed, falling into Al’s waiting arms.
Why could he do that for her and not for me? My stomach was clenched uncomfortably tight.
“I’m much better than I was, thank you.”
I wiped away the few falling tears as quickly as I could, hoping they wouldn’t notice.
“No, you’re not,” she answered desperately. “Throwing yourself at guys like McFarland-” she spat his name out, repulsed “-like you’re worth nothing is not okay, Lily. You’re smart and confident, you’re outgoing and cool and the life and soul of the party- you deserve to treat yourself better than this.”
I really wasn’t any of that.
“Why are you focussing on McFarland so much?” I asked, smirking. “Jonathan Hanson is a pretty hot kisser. Jacob Bailey too.”
“You broke them up!” Roxanne screamed. “Aimee’s in my year, did you know? She’s absolutely wonderful! She’s the kindest person I’ve ever met, and she doesn’t deserve what you’ve done to her!”
“She’ll get over it,” I shrugged. She didn’t have my sympathy.
“HER COUSIN DIED LAST WEEK! I SUPPOSE SHE’LL ‘GET OVER’ THAT TOO!”
For the first time, I looked at her.
Roxanne was holding back more tears. She was utterly defeated.
I tried to be honest.
“...I didn’t know.”
She tried to take a few deep breaths to calm down, but it was hasty and shaking. “Isn’t that the point? We can never fully appreciate other people’s lives, or what they’re thinking, or what they’re going through. We can only do our best to make sure we don’t add to their problems. If you had given her a month more before she had to break up with him would have been better- hell, even a week. Instead, now she has to deal with two conflicting types of grief, and the guilt that comes along with that.”
“Look where that got me.”
“Being funny and smart and cool: a near dead best friend. Some perfect role model I am,” I said bitterly.
There was silence.
“Lily.” It was Professor Dean speaking now. “I’ve had a report from Mr Harrison that you entirely missed your Head Girl meeting the other day.”
“Too busy shagging McFarland,” I shrugged.
This statement was met by another silence.
“You’re coming home, Lily.”
I didn’t look at dad.
“No, Harry, I don’t think so,” mum said quietly. She gestured to a piece of paper- a letter, I gathered, by the broken Hogwarts seal on it. “What’s this- Jack Hartland’s? - involvement?”
Peeking over my shoulder, I saw she had turned to Roxanne.
“He’s... very loosely... Lily’s friend-“
I whipped around, and snarled, “he is not my friend.”
“He was her friend,” she amended, “until three days ago and I have no idea what happened. He’s good for her,” Roxanne whispered, an extra I wasn’t supposed to hear.
“Good for me?” I asked incredulously. “Good for me? Vegetables are good for me but I’ll think you’ll find he’s the high calorie chocolate in this metaphor.”
She ignored me, and searched for mum’s eyes. “He made her better. He nearly healed her.”
“Healed me from WHAT?” I roared, having the maddening urge to throw something. “There’s nothing to heal me from- there’s no wound-“
“The Ellie wound.”
“THERE IS NO WOUND! I AM NOT HURT BY WHAT HAPPENED TO ELLIE BECAUSE I’M GOING TO MAKE HER BETTER!”
James was watching me; Roxanne was still crying, but the most disgusting was Al, who looked completely out of his depth. Like I wasn’t his sister.
“STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!” I roared, pointing my finger at him.
“Lily, calm down-“
“I’M DONE!” I screamed at them all. “I’M DONE BEING THE ONE EVERYONE TIPTOES AROUND, EVERYONE PRETENDS TO CARE ABOUT BUT REALLY THEY’RE JUST FEELING SORRY FOR ME! AND YOU KNOW WHAT? I’M DONE ACTING WITH YOU ALL!”
“You don’t think we care,” mum murmured.
I jabbed a finger at James. “YOU have run away to South America with your darling Chelsea, and you’ve barely written to me since- I found out about your fucking engagement through our brother!” It was Al’s turn. “YOU have got a fancy new job with a fancy new office and so long as you’ve got Ellie, there’s nothing else you give a crap about!” I whirled around, looking for someone else to blame, and found Roxanne. “And YOU only pretended to care to feed shit to mum! Of course none of you care!”
I whirled to dad, tears building in my eyes. “And Ellie left me. She went to die because it was a better option than living, and she didn’t even get that right. She’s stuck in between and I want her to have what she wanted. She should die. She wants to die; why can’t she have that?” I was suddenly pleading with the whole room. “She should get what she wants, and she doesn’t want us anymore. She wants her parents. Let her die.”
There was a quiet moment, in which no one moved.
“Do you mean,” dad began softly, “let her die, or let you die?”
He pulled me tightly into his arms, but he didn’t care.
No one cared. And why would they?
I’m pathetic. I’m weak. And I care too much.
I’m so flawed it’s almost untrue.
Almost. But not quite.
Ripping away, I sprinted towards the door and yanked on the handle that refused to move.
As I turned back dad smiled ruefully, stowing his wand in his pocket.
“Dumbledore trick,” he stated quietly. “Lily, don’t think that. Please don’t think you aren’t loved, because you are. You’re my daughter. You’re beautiful and intelligent-“
“And fucked up,” I interrupted rudely, still tugging at the handle. “I think Roxanne covered that one.”
“You’re loyal, and brave. You deserve so much, Lily, so much better than what life has handed you.”
“Don’t give up on yourself, Lillers,” James added quietly. “Because we’ll never give up on you.”
“You already have,” I accused, finally letting go of the door and glaring at him.
“Never,” he spat, suddenly rising from his chair and walking over and taking me in his bear-like hands the same way mum had, but much stronger. “I’m never giving up on you, Lily. I didn’t think I had to worry- perhaps that was my error- but I believed you’d be okay. Because you will. It’s the same way I’ve never given up on Ellie- when she was comatose, I knew she’d come back. When I saw her on the floor, beaten and bruised and not knowing who she was because of Carrow, I knew she’d survive. Even now I’ve never given up on either of you. I never have, because I’ll never have reason to. You’re both fighters, and I see no reason why Ellie won’t get better. Why you won’t get better. And Ellie walked to Carrow because she thought she was protecting everyone in dying, not because she thought we weren’t good enough. You’re the same, Lily. You’re both going to get better.”
I stared up at his wide, earnest hazel eyes that were very similar to my own, except with flecks of gold where I had green. Pulling me closer, the hug he gave me was soft and warm. He dwarfed my frame, but he was my brother and he was exactly the same.
He wasn’t lying; he never could to me.
But... people could believe their own lies. I had believed mine.
I could pretend.
I promised to go to my lessons. To write to mum every day. To tell someone if the workload was getting too much, because I insisted on staying in all of my lessons. To do all of the things I’m supposed to do.
No one said that I had to lose control, though, so I wouldn’t give up that.
I smiled through the lies. Everything would be okay.
A/N ...it’s a moderately better ending than the last chapter, I suppose...? Reviews are gold, pleaseandthankyou.
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