Chapter 4 : Hell is for Children
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Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to JKR! I also don't own the rights to the song Hell is for Children by Pat Benatar. Enjoy!
I flew quickly around the pitch, the music from the WizPod the girls had gotten me last Christmas blasting in my ears. The week had been pretty terrible. I’d found that since last year, I had grown even more tired of the antics from my ‘friends.’ I used to actually be able to put up with the constant giggling and hair-twirling from my dorm mates, and the domineering and chauvinistic relations I had with my teammates, seeing as how I was the only girl on the team, but this year everything was just too much.
I’d found myself longing for real friendship that I could have in public. Seeing the way that the purebloods treated one another and their close relationships made me feel pathetic in comparison. I highly doubted that any one of my “friends” cared one ounce about me, or even knew anything about me, and I got the feeling that Maggie was starting to resent me for the attention I was getting from Ivan.
As I landed after about twenty laps, I was startled to find my captain standing in the middle of the pitch with his arms crossed. There was a smirk across his face that couldn’t mean anything good. I’d come to associate it with whenever he was about to get his way.
“Turner,” I said with a nod, making my way past him to the locker rooms.
He stopped me by gripping my wrist. “Not so fast.”
“Ivan, that hurts,” I spoke through gritted teeth. He responded by yanking me in to his chest.
“I’ve got a proposition for you, Sullivan,” he said smarmily, his breath assaulting my face.
I tried to wrench free, but his grip was iron-locked. “Yeah? And what’s that?”
“For you to be my girlfriend.”
There was something about his tone that made my insides seize up, although I tried to show I wasn’t intimidated. “Right, like I would ever agree to that in a million years.”
“Ah, ah, ah.” Ivan’s brown eyes were dark and filled with malice. “If I were you, I’d listen to the entire argument.”
As his grip tightened further, I hissed in pain. “So talk then.”
“If you don’t agree to date me, I’ll kick you off the team. Not to mention, I’ll throw your little lover boy Potter off the Astronomy tower,” he said serenely. “And make it look like an accident.”
Trying to keep my expression blank, I spoke as calmly as I could. “I don’t know what you’re insinuating with Albus, but whatever it is I can assure you that you’re sorely misinformed.”
“Albus?” Ivan raised a brow, his expression amused. “No, this is about James. I know you’re in love with him, and if you don’t want him to get hurt, I’d highly suggest you accept this offer.”
My mind was racing. I tried to find some sort of loophole, some way to get ahead, but I came up with nothing. “Who says I even care what happens to Potter?”
I watched his smirk grow. I watched his lips form the words. I felt my stomach clench as though I’d been punched. “Kevin Daley.”
So he had seen more than a few glances between James and I. We were in huge, huge trouble.
“So if I agree to this – agree to date you, you’ll leave James alone?” Even as I spoke, I fought the urge to wretch.
His grin was ugly. “Deal’s a deal.”
I swallowed hard and looked away from him. “Okay.”
Ivan’s hand cupped my chin delicately. “I knew you’d see it my way – you’re a very sensible girl.”
I was trembling from head to toe as he held me there, still locked in his grip. He bowed his head and placed a lasting kiss on my lips before touching them with his thumb. Then he let go, laughed, and strolled away whistling.
I couldn’t quite place the reason why I was so terrified.
I sprinted back up to the castle as fast as I could. My calves were burning, my lungs felt icy, and the cramp in my side felt like a knife was slowly tearing out my appendix, but I still ran. I pounded up the staircases, barely hearing the portraits as they scolded me and told me to slow down.
Professor Thomas came around the corner carrying a stack of papers and I dodged around him easily, sending a few of the papers flying.
“Whoa, Clara, where’s the fire?” he called after me, but I spared no time or breath for a response. I had to find James. I had to tell him myself, before he found out from the rumor mill. He might never forgive me.
Thankfully for me, the common room was empty as everyone was at dinner, so I made my way up to the Seventh Year Boys Dormitory undetected. I knocked wildly, hoping with every fiber of my being that he was in there.
Fred answered the door, and I could see Alex and Rose Weasley behind him, frowning. “Sullivan? What do you want?”
His tone was cold.
“James? Is he in here? I need to speak with him, please!” I was wheezing, sweaty, and couldn't catch my breath.
Fred crossed his arms across his chest, looking faintly amused. “He’s not here.”
“Then do you know where he is? Please, it’s extremely important!”
Please Fred please, I know I’ve never done you any favors but if you could just this once be the bigger person I would kiss your feet, I begged in my head.
After a moment, he stepped back, allowing me inside the room. “This wouldn’t, by any chance, have something to do with the fact that you and Ivan Turner are the school’s latest item?”
My stomach dropped. “You...already know about that?” I was too late. He knew. Everyone knew. He hated me by now.
Fred just stared, but Alex nodded sadly. “He all but shouted it to the entire Great Hall.”
I cursed and dug my fingernails into the palms of my hands.
Fred turned and began rifling through his trunk, digging out a piece of parchment. I couldn’t see what was on it, for his back was turned, but after a moment he tucked it away once more.
“Astronomy Tower. You’ll find him there.”
I didn’t even question him. I just shouted a very grateful ‘thank you!’ as I sprinted back out the door and towards the tower. I had never felt so desperate in my life.
“Where are you rushing off to Sullivan?”
As I flung myself around a corner I barreled right into Carl and Ross, who promptly wrapped their arms around me.
“Let go of me!” I struggled hard against them as I wildly swung out
my legs, trying to land a kick.
Carl laughed viciously. “Calm down Sullivan, we’re not going to hurt you.” He put his lips by my ear. “Unless you misbehave. Then Ivan gave us full permission to do with you what we will.”
I shivered and went still. I’d always known what these boys were capable of, but I’d never been privy to it. Until today.
“What the hell do you want?” I spoke quietly, the fear in my voice betraying me.
Ross smiled and clenched my forearms tighter. “Ivan would like a word.”
"Well..." I started, "you can tell him to eat my shit." My saliva landed on his cheek.
They released me long enough for Ross to slam me against the wall and backhand me across the face. My cheek grew hot as the welt
spread across it, and the pain made me gasp aloud.
He wrapped my hair around his fist and pulled my face closer to his. “You either come with us, or you get more of that,” he said harshly, his eyes unforgiving.
“Coward,” I whispered, my lips shaking. “You’re a coward Nicholson.”
Ross merely smiled and stepped back, sizing me up. He probably couldn’t decide whether to use his fists or his wand.
Taking advantage of this pause, I slipped my wand out from my sleeve and put him in a body-bind, before forcefully throwing Carl up against the wall, knocking him unconscious. I only eyed my handy work for a moment before turning and running.
By the time I reached the Astronomy Tower, my cheek was numb and my inner hysteria made it even harder to breathe. My head throbbed painfully as I climbed the steps, but I refused to slow down.
“James!” I gasped out, tripping over the last step and stumbling into the room. “James, I’m sorry!”
He was sitting on the ledge, facing the grounds, but he turned around to face me as I entered. In two steps he’d crossed the room and grabbed my face in his hand. I flinched in reflex, and his grip softened. “Did he do this to you?”
“Nicholson,” I choked out. “I was cornered.”
James stepped back and observed the bruises up and down my arms. The worst of them were on my wrist from where Ivan had grabbed me earlier. “This is what you chose for yourself?”
I hadn’t expected him to be forgiving, but I hadn’t expected him to be so cold. Uncaring. “No! I didn’t have a choice!”
“Everyone has a choice Sullivan. And you’ve made yours.”
I trembled, shaking my head furiously. “James he was - he was threatening to kill you! I was trying to protect you!"
He scoffed and rolled his eyes. “You keep telling yourself that.”
My focus went in and out as a tidal wave of red swept across my vision. I swooped over to him and gripped his shoulders. “James, I did it for us! Don’t you get it?”
“You know it can’t be us,” he whispered angrily, his amber eyes switching back and forth between my own. “Because of him. Because
I wanted him. I wanted him so bad I could practically taste him. But as the numbness began to wear off my cheek, a painful throb forced me back. “James, I wouldn’t be doing this if he hadn’t threatened
you. You’ve seen what they can do!”
“And so have you.” Gently, he cupped the injured cheek, running his thumb over the bruise. “But you still chose him. We’ve always been on different sides. This is no different. You’re more in danger now than before. I can’t help you.”
With a shrug, he swept past me and out the door. I could no longer contain my anger. I whirled to face the wall, my hair flying around my shoulders, and the glass in the windows burst, shattering me in twinkling shards. Then I leaned against the wall and passed out.
“Hey.” Eleven year old me shakily got on her broomstick and flew up to the figure in the sky. “I’m Clara.”
He eyed me distrustfully, his expression unsure. “James.”
“I know. Want to play one on one?” I gestured to the quaffle in my grip and then threw it for him to catch.
As he caught it, he looked at me thoroughly for the first time. Then he nodded. “Okay.”
“James, you can’t do that!” 13 year old me cried out, laughing as he flew upside down on his broom, lazily floating past me.
He grinned. “Says who? There’re no rules in one on one!”
“So then I can do this?” I flew over and tickled his stomach, causing
his legs to lose their grip.
“You could’ve just killed me, you know,” he grunted as he swung himself back up on his broom.
Then suddenly his face morphed into Ivan’s and when he opened his mouth a gush of black blood poured out, his head falling away to reveal a severed neck.
“Hey, hey! Wake up!” I jolted out of the dream, my own shriek of terror having woken me.
With an intake of breath, my eyes flew open and Fred Weasley swam in front of my vision. “Hey, are you all right?”
Slowly, he helped me to a sitting position. I could also see Alex and
Rose peering down at me worriedly.
“I…think so? What happened?” Blearily, I noticed that I was still in the Astronomy Tower. My hand rolled over a shard of glass.
“You were passed out,” Alex offered quietly. “The map said you were-”
Fred gave her a sharp look and she immediately cut herself off. “You were passed out and we found you,” Fred finished. “Rose?”
At his beckoning, Rose came over and knelt in front of me, examining my injuries. “These are all just flesh wounds, cuts and bruises that can easily be healed.”
She placed her wand on the various marks, and slowly they each disappeared, leaving a cool, tingling sensation.
“You passed out from stress and exhaustion, as well as a high level of anxiety,” she continued matter-of-factly. “This made your throat to close up and, with the lack of oxygen, caused you to black out.”
Fred was standing behind all of us, arms folded. “What happened to you, Sullivan?”
“What, abuse is new to you?” I responded viciously, before remembering that none of this was his fault.
He scoffed. “Not for me, but for a well-liked Muggle-born such as yourself, yes.”
Rose backed away once she was confident I wouldn’t pass out again, and I eyed the three of them. Alex was looking at the ground, Rose was staring at the wall above my head, and Fred was glaring at me with hatred.
“Why do you think I’m dating Turner?”
“Because of his good looks, his popularity, his charm, or…perhaps, his money?” Fred offered sarcastically, throwing me a look of disdain.
I got to my feet. “Because he said if I didn't...James would die,” I said softly before exiting the tower.
Numbly I walked back to the common room, not caring enough to protect myself. If Ivan or any of them wanted to come back to finish the job, I didn’t care. I deserved it. I was a horrible person, and I was finally getting what I deserved.
As I entered the common room, things suddenly went silent, and everyone stared, taking in my haggard appearance. Maggie, Sierra, and Tamara were eyeing me with superiority. Ivan glanced up from his game of Wizard’s Chess with Kevin and his mouth split into a wide smirk.
“Hey babe, come over here,” he called, patting his lap. Ross and Carl smiled serenely at me, but I could see the threat in their eyes. They weren’t finished with me yet.
Slowly, I put one foot in front of the other and, with the entire room watching with bated breath, lowered myself onto his lap. Ivan wrapped an arm around my waist and nuzzled my neck. “How’s my favorite girl?” he whispered in my ear, and then I felt the point of a knife in my back.
I guess they really did prefer to do things the Muggle way. “I’m great,” I responded hoarsely. Ross and Carl nodded in approval. The knife retracted, and Ivan smiled. James was right. I was in my own personal hell now.
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