Chapter 18 : Unexpected
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James and I spent the rest of the day walking around Hogsmeade, as we continued to talk about anything and everything. I had been worried for the briefest moment after our kiss that suddenly everything would become awkward. But my fears were quickly eliminated when- as soon as James pulled away from me- he put his fingers back through mine. If anything, I think the kiss had just made things easier. It was like we’d already gotten it out of the way, so there was nothing else to overthink.
However, I couldn’t help but feel a small bubble of guilt form at the pit of my stomach as the day went on. Guilt for my mom, and guilt for James. It’s just, I knew I wasn’t supposed to feel what I felt. My feelings… they were all wrong. But since I didn’t know what else to do, I shoved the guilt down and pretended that everything was okay. And being with James made it feel like it really was.
But now that our date (and yes, I had finally come to terms with the fact that it was a date) was over and I was walking up the staircase to my dormitory, the guilt was flooding back. I barely paid attention to Molly, who I had bumped into on the way up to the dorm, as she continued to complain about Gryffin.
“Fuck no,” Molly said, as soon as she walked into our dorm room. This broke me out of my thoughts and I looked around the room. Dom was currently sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor with pillows set out in a strategic circle. There were various bowls full of chocolates and popcorn set in the middle, and she had her entire nail polish collection sitting in color-coded rows next to her. Rose was sitting next to Dom, reading a book with a faded cover. “I’m leaving.”
“No, you’re not,” Rose responded flatly, closing her book and giving Molly a staredown. “If you’re always in our room taking over my bed, you have to participate in Dom’s lame excuse of a slumber party. Or else we’re going to start locking our door.”
Molly glared at Rose, who remained unfazed. After a moment, Molly sighed.
“Fine. But I call all of the cauldron cakes,” Molly muttered. She then plopped down on the pillow across from Dom and grabbed a cauldron cake, taking a large bite.
“What is this?” I asked, looking at the three of them before taking a seat onto a pillow myself.
“It’s Dom’s way to try and grill us on how our dates went,” Molly answered, rolling her eyes. “And Rose’s too I suppose. She’s the only one who can manipulate the house elves into giving us food, so she clearly had a hand in this bombardment.”
“House elves give everyone food, Molly,” Rose stated, placing her book on the ground. “They just don’t give any to you, because you punched one of them.”
“It was an accident,” Molly said with a shrug of her shoulders.
“You hit him over the head with a pot afterwards,” Dom said.
“That was an accident too.”
“What about when you started throwing spatulas at all of the other house elves?” Rose asked.
“Well they were out of chocolate! Who the hell runs out of chocolate?” Molly exclaimed.
Dom and I exchanged a look, as she mouthed to me that it had been Molly’s time of the month. Which made a lot of sense. Nobody wanted to be around Molly when she was on her period. She was a monster.
“Right well, good thing we have lots of chocolate now, yeah?” Dom said, gesturing to the food. She then leaned forward, grinning at Molly and I. “But what we really should be talking about is how your dates went.”
“Yeah, how did they go?” Rose asked, looking equally interested.
“Told you,” Molly said to me under her breath. “They always pull shit like this.”
“No, we don’t,” Dom argued, clearly having heard Molly’s words. “The last time you went on a date was in third year, and you didn’t even realize it was a date until it was too late. Then you ran out on the poor guy! So since this is your first honest-to-goodness date, I want to know how it went.”
“She locked Gryffin in the Shrieking Shack,” I stated, because I thought this was the most important detail.
“I let him out!” Molly exclaimed, glaring at me as though I’d betrayed her. I shrugged. “And it’s not like he wasn’t asking for it.”
“I’m sure,” Dom said, rolling her eyes.
“Molly, I feel like if you really like Gryffin, you shouldn’t be locking him in places,” Rose said, ever the reasonable one.
“Hey! Just because I went on a date with him, doesn’t mean I like him,” Molly said, looking offended by Rose’s words. We all rolled our eyes at that one. Molly, annoyed by this, then turned to what she did best: deflection. “And anyways, shouldn’t we be discussing you and James? From what a third year told me-” we all looked at Molly oddly as she said that. Third years were afraid of Molly. Most people were afraid of Molly. Molly noticed our looks and rolled her eyes. “Okay. What I forced a third year to tell me after threatening him with a leg locking curse, was that Tash and James were snogging in the middle of Hogsmeade.”
Dom and Rose’s gazes immediately drilled into me. I felt my face flush. “We were not snogging.”
“Did your lips make contact with his?” Dom asked.
“That’s all I need to hear,” Dom said, letting out a sigh of contentment. “I’m so happy for you Tash. You two are perfect for each other.”
“No,” I said, immediately feeling suffocated by Dom’s words. “It’s not like that.”
“Then what is it like?” Rose asked, looking at me seriously.
“It’s… complicated,” I said softly, looking down at my hands. It was complicated. Too complicated to even begin to explain. So I took a leaf out of Molly’s book and deflected the conversation away from me. “What about you Dom? How did things with Scorpius go?”
“We hung out for a bit and then he bumped into some mates, so I decided to head back,” Dom said with a shrug. I felt myself become disappointed. I had hoped out of the three of us that Dom would’ve been able to figure things out with Scorpius. Merlin knew the team needed it. “No biggie. It’s not like we had planned to go together in the first place.”
“He ditched you for other mates?” I asked, because I was still thrown off. This didn’t seem like something Scorpius would do.
“I mean, I told him to join them. It wasn’t like a full-blown ditch. I just knew he’d have a better time with them,” Dom explained. She bit her bottom lip. “It was stupid to even still try and go to Hogsmeade after all of our group plans had fallen apart.”
Rose and I exchanged a look. I think we both knew Dom was in denial. Not that we would say it out loud. Instead of being like Molly who was open with her thoughts, we figured it was better to let Dom come to her own conclusions about her and Scorpius herself.
“I still can’t comprehend the fact that Tash got herself some action,” Molly said, staring at me with a fair amount of disbelief. My face reddened. Great. I had thought we were done discussing James and I. I didn’t like talking about us. Not that we were an us. Or could be. “I thought pageant people weren’t allowed to kiss. It could, like, make you seem like an actual human being or something.”
“You’re tact is astounding,” Rose said, rolling her eyes. Then because she was a good friend that knew I didn’t want the conversation back on me, she asked, “Does this mean you didn’t get any action, Molls?”
Molly shrugged. “We snogged. But I only did it so that I could bat bogey hex him without him figuring it out. It was hilarious. You should’ve seen how pissed he was. We also snogged later on but that’s because he’s pretty decent at it, so I figured it was beter than having to listen to him talk.”
“Ew, I really didn’t need those mental images in my brain,” Dom said, squinting her eyes shut tight and shaking her head back and forth when Molly was done.
“Does this mean you and Gryffin are serious?” Rose asked, exchanging a glance with Dom and I. None of us could have foreseen this outcome.
Molly shrugged again because she always did and said, “He’s taller than me.” Because that seemed to be the only reason she could come up with for explaining her and Gryffin. And in all honesty it seemed like the most logical one.
This led to a lot of back and forth between Dom and Molly, because Dom wanted to get a straight answer out of Molly, but Molly never did budge. Even after Dom had whacked her a couple of times with a pillow. This ended up causing Molly to throw some of the chocolate she had been eating at Dom, which accidentally hit Rose, and caused Rose to start throwing food and pillows as well. Then they had pulled me into the destruction by throwing popcorn at me, and I somehow participated in my first ever food/pillow fight.
Hours later, after we’d finally stopped throwing things at each other and talked ourselves silly, I was laying next to Dom on the floor. Molly and Rose were asleep, their heavy breathing filling the silence of the room, and Dom looked at me.
“So, have fun at your first real slumber party?” Dom asked, a smile pulling at her lips.
I smiled back and couldn’t help but feel that small bubble of guilt in my stomach, get replaced by complete giddiness. This whole day, it was like I hadn’t had to be anything I didn’t want to be. I just got to be a regular teenage girl. It was the reason I had wanted to go to Hogwarts in the first place.
“Yeah,” I whispered back to Dom, the dopey smile still on my face. “I mean, I know slumber parties are supposed to be for little kids, but I had a lot of fun.”
“Want to know a secret?” Dom asked, leaning towards me with wide eyes. I nodded my head. “Sometimes it’s fun to do childish things, even when you know you’re too old for it.”
Before I came to Hogwarts, I probably wouldn’t have understood. But now I knew what Dom meant. It was fun to be able to be carefree about things. To not have to worry about what would happen tomorrow.
I didn’t respond to Dom. Instead, I closed my eyes and rested a head on her shoulder, feeling perfectly content for what felt like one of the first times in my life. I drifted off listening to the sound of Dom’s methodic breathing, nothing but happy thoughts dancing in my wake.
I woke up the next morning tired and groggy. My hair was in a complete mass of disarray, my back was a bit out of sorts from sleeping on the floor, and it was actually late in the day. I hadn’t woken up early out of habit for once. In fact, I probably would’ve slept in more if it wasn’t for all of the arguing.
“Let her sleep!” the voice I recognized as Dom’s commanded. The way she said it made it sound like she’d been arguing this point for a while. “She’s peaceful now. If we wake her, it’ll just ruin it.”
“It’s already ruined, she just doesn’t know it yet,” Molly stated, her tone of voice as blunt as usual. I knew, even though my eyes were closed and I still was in that hazy state before you fully wake up, that she was probably inspecting her nails with nonchalance. “It’s better we tell her now, so she has more time to prepare for the oncoming shit show.”
Still feeling thick with sleep, I had to squeeze my eyes shut tighter a couple of times before I was able to make myself reach full consciousness. Molly’s words had begun to worry me.
“There will not be a shit show,” Dom said. I was finally able to open my eyes, and I watched Dom bite her bottom lip. That was never a good sign.
“Dom, as much as I hate to agree with Molly’s crass way of action, she’s right,” Rose said gently. None of them were aware that I had woken up yet. “There will definitely be some altercations, and we need to prepare Tash for them.”
I felt myself tense as I watched the three of them grow silent. They seemed to be at a loss. The worry I had felt now morphed into panic. What were they talking about? I squeezed my eyes shut tight again, hoping that when I opened them, I wouldn’t be facing what I was pretty sure might be a nightmare. However when I opened my eyes again, I still saw the same scene in front of me.
It didn’t seem fair. Nightmares weren’t supposed to happen in real life.
“What’s going on?” I asked, sitting myself upright and looking at the three of them. “What do we need to prepare me for?”
The three of them all snapped their heads towards me in varying shades of shock, except for Molly who was nonplussed. I guess even on the brink of something terrible, she couldn’t make herself look like she cared.
“The Daily Prophet came in the mail this morning,” Dom began slowly, looking as though she was thinking over her words very carefully. “There was an article about you.”
“What did it say?” I asked, immediately feeling my stomach sink. I was suddenly very aware of the quick, methodic thumping of my heart. I looked at Dom with wide eyes. “How bad is it?”
“It’s pretty bad,” Molly said, because it was clear Dom and Rose didn’t want to say anything about it. “There were pictures.” Molly then grabbed a newspaper off of the night stand next to her and tossed it to me. “You should probably read it yourself. Good news is you don’t look like the robot you usually look like in these things.”
“Molly, do you have an ounce of sympathy in your body?” Dom asked, chastising Molly for her words.
“What? I gave her a compliment.”
“That’s what you call a compliment?”
However, I tuned out the rest of the conversation and instead looked down at the Daily Prophet, which had my face right on the front page. My face, which was caught mid-kiss with James. Right above it in big, block lettering, was the title of the article.
Miss Teen Witch: Out of Control or In Love?
Crap. This was bad. This was very, very bad. There was proof right on the front of the Daily Prophet that I had breached my contract with Miss Teen Witch Enterprise. I almost didn’t want continue reading, but I knew I had to figure out just how bad the article was. I skimmed it over, feeling my stomach sink further and further as I read.
The article described me as going through what they considered rebellious phase. They claimed that now that I was at Hogwarts, I had fallen into the lifestyle of partying and boys. There were pictures from the Gryffindor Quidditch party of me sitting between Gryffin and Freddy, while Gryffin held a large bottle of firewhiskey in each hand. And there were also more photos of James and I with the caption ‘Fling or More?’ written underneath.
“I don’t believe this,” I said, my hands shaking as I folded over the article. I put the newspaper on the ground next to me, stood up, and began pacing back and forth. “This is not real. None of this is happening right now. I am still asleep and I will wake up any second.”
“Ugh, even her freak outs are boring,” I heard Molly mutter to Rose, as the both of them plus Dom watched me while I paced.
“Shut up, Molly,” Rose responded. She then walked over to me and put a hand on my shoulder, effectively stopping my pacing. “Look, Natasha, I know that this is overwhelming for you-”
“That’s an understatement,” Molly muttered.
“Molly, do you think for once in your life you can actually care about something?” Dom snapped, having enough of Molly’s comments. “Do you not realize how big of a deal this is?!”
“Of course I do,” Molly said, giving Dom a dirty look. She then turned to me, as though I’d been the one to yell at her. “It’s not like I think this is all funny. It’s just… what’s the point in freaking out? If it’s out, it’s out. No trying to harness it back in.”
“But it’s a breach of my contract,” I responded. “I’m going to lose my crown.”
“So what?” Molly asked, shrugging. “You don’t even want it.”
My explanation was interrupted when the door to the dormitory opened and our other roommate, Hattie, entered the room. I think this was actually the fist time I’d ever seen her in our dorm room. Considering she was with her boyfriend 99.9% of the time, we all stared at her in surprise.
“What are you doing here?” Molly asked. Molly hated Hattie, because Hattie was very happy and very blonde. According to Molly “it was unnatural to be that excited all of the time”.
“Good morning to you too!” Hattie said, a wide smile on her lips. Molly narrowed her eyes, while Hattie remained unfazed. “But I do live here. That’s my bed.” With that, Hattie pointed to her bed, which was still perfectly made from when the house elves set up the room at the beginning of the year.
“Don’t you actually have to sleep in a bed for it to count as yours?” Molly asked, unimpressed by Hattie’s explanation.
“Seeing as you never sleep in yours, I thought you’d be more understanding,” Hattie said, her smile still perfectly in tact. Molly crossed her arms and scoffed, but I couldn’t help but feel Hattie had a point. Hattie then turned to me. “Anyway, the reason I’m herd is because Headmistress Chang sent me. She said to go to her office immediately.”
My stomach twisted. This could not be good.
“Did she say why?” I asked, even though I already knew. There was no way my mum hadn’t seen the artcle. She was probably in hysterics.
“No, she just said to get you,” Hattie responded, shrugging her shoulders. Then she walked over to her bed, grabbed the last pillow that was on there off of it, and walked out of the dorm. I guess the last three pillows she had brought to her boyfriend’s room hadn’t been enough.
“I really bloody hope they break up,” Molly stated simply, once Hattie was out of earshot.
“Me too,” I said even though I normally don’t condone Molly’s negative thinking. Then, I voiced the one thought that had been going through my mind all day. “I’m fucked.”
Molly, Rose, and Dom all looked at me in shock. Well not Molly. Molly had more of a look of pride.
“You’ve finally cursed!” Molly announced, clapping her hands together in excitement. “Never thought I’d see the day!”
“Oh, shove off,” I snapped, shocking even myself with my tone. But I just couldn’t deal with this right now. I couldn’t deal with Molly acting like this was all a game, and I couldn’t deal with Rose and Dom looking at me like I was off to the gallows. My life was spinning out of control, when all I wanted was for everything to slow down.
And so instead of apologizing for my tone like I normally would have done, I stomped out of the dorm, leaving everyone staring after me.
I guess this is what it felt like to throw a hissy fit.
Almost as quickly as I’d thrown my hissy fit, I’d ended it. I knew getting mad wasn’t going to do anyone any good, and instead I was filled with this eerie sense of calm. I knew nothing good was going to come out going to Headmistress Chang’s office, so all I could do was walk with a sense of determination. Before I could reach her office though, I was interrupted by someone calling my name.
It was James. He was walking towards me as casual as ever, looking like there hadn’t just been an article published about us that I was pretty sure the whole school was gossipping about. James took his time arriving in front of me, and once he did he grabbed my hand and pulled me off to a side hallway that I hadn’t noticed before.
I looked up at James inquisitively, not saying anything.
“Hi,” he said finally.
“Hi?” I responded, because I didn’t know why he had pulled me into this side hallway in the first place. I also was painfully aware of how close we were to one another, and I didn’t know what that meant. James and I were not a couple, despite what the newspapers said. Right?
However just as I was about to open my mouth again and ask James why he had pulled me into the corridor, he brought his forefinger underneath my chin and tilted my head up to kiss me.
And yes, I kissed him back. Despite the fact that it probably wasn’t a very good idea. But I figured I was already a dead person walking, so I might as well enjoy the feeling of James’ lips against mine while I could.
James pulled away and brought his hand down from my chin to my hand, interlacing his fingers through mine. I felt my heart flip in my chest. “This is all my fault.”
I tilted my head, confused. “What is?”
James didn’t say anything; he just looked at me. Suddenly, it dawned on me that he was talking about the article. So he had seen it. I bit my bottom lip.
“It’s not your fault,” I said after a moment. It wasn’t his fault. If anything it was mine. I had blatantly disobeyed my orders as Miss Teen Witch and then had it plastered all over a newspaper. This was all on me.
“It is though,” James continued. He looked unsure whether he wanted to explain something to me, but then decided to move forward with it anyway. “Lily told me that Fiona released the pictures to The Daily Prophet.”
I felt a lump form in the pit of my stomach. I guess I should have expected this. Fiona did warn me that if I didn’t back off of James, something like this would happen.
James was still looking at me, as though he was trying to figure out what I was thinking. He looked worried. I guess he was expecting me to be mad at him and blame him for everything. I didn’t. Instead, I shrugged.
“It’s still not your fault,” I responded to James and then, because I knew everything had already been shot to hell at this point, I leaned in and kissed him again. Quickly though. I was becoming aware that getting into this conversation had sidetracked me from where I was supposed to be. “But I have to go. I’ve been requested for a meeting in the Headmistress’s office. I think my mum’s here.”
James’ grip on my hand tightened as if he didn’t want to let me go, and my heart flipped again. It was a good thing he couldn’t see how I felt, because I’d be thoroughly embarrassed by now.
“Alright,” James said, nodding his head. A frown pinched his forehead, as though he wanted to say more. But instead of saying anything he leaned in again to give me another kiss. One that made my chest feel heavy and full and aching with something I couldn’t quite place. It was almost like James was telling me goodbye. When he pulled away he leaned his forehead against mine. “Just… do what you want to okay? Not what anybody else wants.”
I knew this was his last piece of advice for me. It was my decision where to go from there. So I nodded my head and forced a smile at him before letting go of his hand and turning away. As soon as he couldn’t see my face anymore my smile dropped, and I felt my stomach sink. There was a sick feeling threatening to erupt from the back of my throat that I swallowed down.
His advice was a lot easier said than done.
A/N: Alright, so I kind of owe you guys a huge apology. I am very disgusted with myself for how long it took me to get this chapter out to you. My updates with this story have been terrible, and I have no excuse.
However, on to the good news: Not only am I done with my first year of college (yay!!), but I am also three chapters ahead. I actually had this chapter finished a couple weeks ago, but I held off on posting it until I was sure I wouldn't have to make you guys have another long wait. There are only 5-6 chapters left of this story, so I promise you that it will definitely be done before summer ends.
So, please, please review so that I know I do still have people reading this story. I am also almost completely caught up with my review responses, so I promise you I will respond to whatever review you decide to leave. Whether it be a good review or a critical one, I am always happy to hear what people think!
Also a fun fact! I was looking through my outline for this story and reading what I had written for all of my characters, and this is what I had written for Gryffin:
Gryffin the Gryffindor- One of James’s friends? Beater.
Literally. That's all I had. And somehow he ended up being my favorite character. Besides Molly. What do you think of the two of them by the way? And what do you think of the chapter?
Alright well this author's note is just embarrassingly long at this point. Basically, I just want to let you know you can trust me to finish the story, and I swear you'll never have to wait this long for another chapter again.
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