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Chapter 19 : I'm Sorry
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As it turned out, I wasn’t facing my mother. I was facing something much worse. Georgiana Spectre was sitting behind Headmistress Chang’s desk, having shoved the headmistress off into the corner (I think it was safe to say I’d never actually seen Headmistress Chang behind her own desk, since I signed up to go to Hogwarts), and was staring at me with calculating eyes.
My mother, of course, was also there. And she was standing behind Georgiana, looking like a wingwoman, which I’m sure she was. Her arms were crossed and she was wearing her all black business suit. This, I knew, was not a good sign.
“So,” Georgiana stated, after I had sat down. I noticed that she was now flipping through the Daily Prophet, her cat-eyed glasses perched on her nose as her red nails clawed through the pages. “How would you like to explain… this?” With that she held the newspaper up, her nose wrinkled slightly.
I inspected the picture of James and I closely. His hands were wrapped around the small of my back, pulling me close to him as he kissed me, and you could just make out the ghost of a smile on both of our faces. It was hard to believe I’d been that happy not even twenty-four hours ago.
“It’s really not what it looks like,” I responded lamely.
“So then you didn’t attend a party,” Georgiana said, pointing to the picture in question, “and you didn’t kiss that boy?” She pointed to the other one.
“I…. Well yes I did but—”
Georgiana held her hand up, effectively stopping me. She then pursed her lips and clasped her hands together.
“There’s going to be a train going through Hogsmeade today at three. You have the next couple of hours to pack up your things and say goodbye. Headmistress Chang has already informed your teachers that you will no longer be a student here, and your old tutor is ready to resume her position.”
My stomach, which had already been in knots, suddenly twisted extra tight.
“But, I thought I wasn’t leaving until December,” I said, feeling myself panic. I couldn’t leave. Not yet.
“Yes, well, I thought you wouldn’t breach the contract,” Georgiana responded simply. “If you want to keep your crown, I suggest you cooperate. We’re going to have to do major damage control the rest of this month to improve your image. Boy crazy partiers are not the best role models for young girls.”
It seemed unfair to me that out of all the time at Hogwarts I spent working hard and making good grades, the only thing anybody would be able to take out of it was the article. An article that portrayed me in a light that was so far from who I am it was almost funny.
I finally looked at my mother, who was staring at me and nodding her head, silently conveying to me that I needed to agree with Georgiana. I didn’t want to agree with Georgiana though. I really, truly didn’t. And all I could think about were the words that James had said to me before I entered this office.
And for a split second, I wanted to argue. I wanted to tell Georgiana about all of the changes I had undergone while I went here that I thought were for the better. I wanted to tell her to shove it and find James and kiss him a million more times. But as soon as the thought came, it went. I knew that despite the fact that I had tricked myself into thinking I could be this newer version of myself, I would always fall back into who I really am.
“I understand,” I said slowly, my voice feeling empty as I spoke. “I’m sorry for making your company go through this. I will do whatever you need me to do to repair Miss Teen Witch’s image.”
Georgiana smiled. A smile I only saw when I felt like doing anything but.
“Well, we’re done here. I’ll see you at the train station, and then we’re going to head right to your first interview to start fixing your image. Your mother will fill you in as she helps you pack, right Miranda?”
“Of course,” my mother said, making my chest grow hollow. My mother helping me pack would make explaining to everyone that I was leaving that much more difficult. I don’t even think I fully grasped the fact that the place that had now become my home was being taken away from me.
I watched as Georgiana stood up from the desk, and walked over to the fireplace, not even thanking Headmistress Chang for letting her hijack her office. Without even so much as a goodbye she was already flooing away, leaving what felt like destruction in her wake.
Headmistress Chang cleared her throat.
“I think I’ll just wait outside,” she said after a moment, shooting me a look of sympathy. It seemed like those were the only looks she ever gave me. Neither my mother nor I said anything as she walked out of her office, letting the door click softly behind her.
It was silent.
“Well,” my mother said, not looking me in the eye as she walked towards the door to the office, “we should get to your dorm. We don’t have much time to pack.”
“Mum,” I began, reaching out to catch her elbow as she passed, but she shook me off. Instead she turned around, and I noticed then how… lost she looked. “I’m sorry, okay?”
My mother whirled back around, looking at me like she didn’t know who she was, let alone who I was anymore.
“You didn’t quit the Quidditch team like I asked,” was her response. As though this was the biggest betrayal yet. And to her it probably was. “You’ve never disobeyed me like that before.”
I felt the beginnings of a lump form in my throat. One that I knew I couldn’t swallow down, so instead I looked at the floor and blinked a couple of times.
“I know and I’m sorry. I just…” My voice cracked and I winced. This was a sign of weakness. “Please don’t make me leave here.”
I waited as my mother pinched the bridge of her nose before releasing and looking back at me.
“You have to, Natasha,” my mother said, and I realized it was the first time in a long time she’d called me by my full name. I didn’t like the sound of it one bit. “It’s either this, or everything we’ve worked for.”
The way she said it was as though leaving was the obvious choice. But to me it wasn’t. To me, it seemed even more obvious that I should stay.
“What if I want this?” I said to my mum, and it was after I said this that I immediately wanted to take it back. My mum immediately looked as though I’d slapped her across the face, hurt evident.
“What are you trying to say Nata?” My mum asked in a small voice, like her entire world was hanging by one fraying thread.
I’m trying to say I don’t want this. I’m trying to say that I never wanted this.
But I couldn’t say that. She already looked shattered enough as it was. And even though I had thought that everything I had done at school was something to be proud of, it was evident to my mother that it wasn’t.
“Nothing,” I said immediately, shaking my head. “I’m sorry, it’s just, I wasn’t prepared to leave so soon. But I’ll manage.”
My mom looked relieved after I spoke. “It’s understandable. But honey, we’re lucky that Georgiana is still giving us a chance.”
“Yeah,” I echoed, but the only thing I could focus on were the words James had said to me right before I came here. The explosion that he had caused in my chest from his last kiss had now morphed into lead. “Lucky.”
Then my mother opened the door to the office and left, me following quickly behind her. I ended up having to take the lead as I wordlessly showed her the way to my dormitory. I noticed a couple of people that were loitering in the hallway openly staring at me and my mother as we passed, and I figured this would just be more gossip for them to spread through the Howarts grapevine.
The dorm was surprisingly empty when I entered it. I figured it was for the best. I knew if I saw Dom or Molly or Rose I would probably start crying and that definitely wasn’t something I wanted to happen. I at least wanted to have some semblence of control, seeing as I’d now lost all of mine. It really was quite the shame.
My mum looked around the dorm, noticing all the pillows on the floor and the food that was scattered everywhere from our foodfight the night before. She wrinkled her nose.
“Oh, Tash, I can’t believe you’ve been living in conditions like this,” my mother said distastefully. “You should have told me how bad it’s been here. I’d have requested you to have a single.”
I didn’t bother responding to my mum. There was no way I was going to try and explain myself to her. I was already being taken away from the one place that had really felt like home. Having her bash everything about this place would just be torture.
So, I pulled out my wand and started packing my trunk. However, I didn’t pay much attention to packing. Instead, I thought about Dom. And Molly. And Rose. And Gryffin. And Scorpius. And Freddy.
Crap. They were going to hate me for leaving.
I also thought about James. But I always thought about James so it wasn’t really that much different than normal. It’s just instead of the very happy, warm feeling I usually got when I thought about James, I felt really sick and sad and like I had something very large lodged in my throat.
Halfway through my packing I had to stop thinking about him. It hurt too much.
“Natasha, what is all this?” my mum asked when I was almost done, holding up a paper bag siting on top of my dresser. The bag was full of all of the muggle toys I’d bought with James yesterday. She pulled out one of the packages of silly putty and wrinkled her nose again.
“Oh. That. It’s stupid,” I said, feeling really guilty even though I knew James couldn’t hear me. “Just some muggle toys I got with a friend.”
My mum still looked confused. “But this is for people much younger than you.”
“I know,” I said, nodding my head quickly. I waved my wand again and more clothes flew into my trunk. “But sometimes it’s fun to do childish things, even when you know you’re too old for it.”
My mum looked very worried by my explanation. I then realized I was repeating words Dom had said, and seeing as my mum disagreed with everything Dom stood for, this couldn’t be good. It was time for damage control.
“Not that I do that,” I said quickly.
My mum still looked at me skeptically. “Okay, well, then I’m sure you’ll have no problem with us throwing these things out…”
I panicked. Throwing them out would be like getting rid of the memories of what I was now thinking may have been the best day of my life.
“No!” Then I realized I sounded way too eager and I cleared my throat. “I mean, no that’s okay. We should keep them.”
“But Nata,” My mum began. “I hardly think you’ll have any free time to be using this stuff. It’ll just be a distraction. You do realize you have a reputation you need to redeem.”
I pressed my lips together. My mum began to walk towards the trashcan in the room, and before I could say anything more she had thrown away all of the muggle toys James and I had bought together. I stared at the silly putty that was in the trashcan and yet again had to hold back tears.
I turned around and waved my wand, collecting the last things of mine in the room. I now wanted to leave as fast as I could. I knew I wouldn’t make it much longer.
“Okay, I’m all packed,” I said, forcing a smile. My mum nodded her head, pleased.
“Well then, looks like we should get going,” my mum responded, and I began to trail behind her lugging my trunk with me as we made our way out of the room. Right when we were about to enter the stairwell, I looked back behind me at my now empty bed. I knew after I was officially out of the school, the houselves would evaporate it and the last proof that I had been here would be gone.
“Wait,” I said to my mum. My mum stopped in her tracks and arched an eyebrow at me. “I have to leave a note. So my roommates don’t wonder where I am.”
“Nata, I’m sure they won’t worry. You can just owl them later,” but I didn’t listen. Instead I walked into the room over to Dom’s nighstand, and opened the drawer where I knew she stashed her quills and parchment. I wrote quickly, while my mother tapped her foot.
I have to leave. I’ll miss you all. You’re the best friends I’ve ever had. I hope Scorpius doesn’t kill me. Also, give this to James.
And then, because I was feeling extra daring, I ran back to the garbage can and took out one of the things of silly putty. Luckily my mum wasn’t watching me anymore and was instead checking her watch and continuing to tap her foot.
I quickly took a separate piece of parchment, scrawled out what I wanted to say to James, and then took the silly putty out of it’s container and pressed it against the ink. The message came out backwards, because I’m an idiot and forgot that that happened with silly putty, so I had to pull out my wand and fix the message so that it was legible.
I then crumpled up the paper I had written James’ message on and stuffed it in my pockets, just leaving the silly putty message on top of Dom’s bed along with the note I’d written for her, Rose, and Molly.
“Okay, I’m ready,” I said to my mum, walking back to where she was waiting. She let out a sigh of relief.
“Finally. We really can’t miss this train, I don’t know what you’re thinking,” my mother babbled, but I didn’t listen. Instead, I thought over and over again about the message I had written for James.
Upon arrival at the train station in Hogsmeade, my mother and I were greeted by a smiling Georgiana.
“Natasha, right on time I see,” Georgiana stated with a smile. Although to me her smiles never seemed to convey happiness. More like pleasure at being able to control people (in this case, said person was me). “It’s a start.”
I didn’t say anything. My grip tightened on the handle of my trunk, and I continued to stare at the traintracks before us, waiting for the train that I never wanted to come.
Georgiana didn’t seem to sense the fact that I didn’t want to talk to her or anyone really, so she continued speaking. “Tomorrow morning I’ve scheduled an interview with the Daily Prophet to explain the pictures, so you’ll have to be up extra early then so that we can go over what you’re going to say.”
I nodded glumly. It was easier to interpret that Georgiana was now taking over my mother’s usual position. I guess she didn’t trust my mum to be in charge of me anymore, considering what happened. I looked at my mum and noticed she was staring absently across the traintracks.
“You also are going to be doing volunteer work at St. Mungo’s Magical Addictions Recovery and Rehabilitation Center three times a week. We need to make sure everyone understands that you have zero tolerance for drinking, despite the fact that you were pictured doing so.”
I decided not to bother arguing over the fact that I did not drink. I just attended the party, because I was on the Quidditch team. Which I shouldn’t have been on in the first place according to my mum. So I guess I still was to blame.
“And of course we’ll need to start getting you prepped for your world tour. You leave in a month and there’s so much to do.”
I frowned. I had almost forgotten about the tour. Which was stupid because that was going to be taking up a year of my life.
“Something wrong?” Georgiana asked, noticing my frown.
I blinked, looking up at her and shaking my head. “No. It’s nothing. I guess I just didn’t realize how close we were to the tour.”
Georgiana smiled. “Yes, it’s going to be so exciting, isn’t it?”
I bit my lip. I then realized that Georgiana was looking at me expectantly for an answer and nodded. “Yeah.”
There was silence after that. I’m not sure if Goergiana was able to pick up on the fact that I didn’t want to talk, or if she just had nothing more to say to me, but either way I was grateful.
Ten minutes later, the train arrived at Hogsmeade station, it’s scarlet laquer glittering in the sun. I was overcome with a feeling of nostaligia for when I’d first seen it. At that time, I’d been escaping. This time, I’d be getting on it to return to the life I’d wanted to get away from.
Georgiana got on the train, then my mother, leaving me the only one standing on the platform. As soon as I stepped on the train, I turned back around to look out over the station. It was then that an unmistakeable figure caught my eye.
And yes, it was James. He was leaning against one of the columns on the Hogsmeade platform, and I almost didn’t see him through the shadow the column cast. But since I was hyper aware of everything James did, I saw him clear as day.
He noticed me notice him, but made no gesture of acknowledgement. His mouth stayed in a straight line, his eyes as closed off as the first time I’d seen him, and his arms were crossed. He was watching me. Silently conveying I had to be the one to make the move.
I wasn’t going to. Make the move I mean. I wasn’t who he thought I was.
So, I slowly, so slowly it wouldn’t be noticed by anyone but James, shook my head from side to side. As soon as I did this, the train’s sliding doors came to a close, and there was now glass along with distance between us.
“Natasha,” my mum said, causing me to whip my eyes away from the door and look at her. “Come on, we have a compartment.”
She grabbed my hand and started to pull me away right as the train gave a lurch to signal it was about to leave the station. I followed my mum to the compartment, but not before looking back once more to see James, still standing and watching me, his eyes filled with a look I’d only ever associated with my mum.
A/N: THE END. No I'm totally joking this isn't the end. But I did actually finishing writing the story today, so I'm in that mindset. 4 chapters left! Unless I decide to split one of my super long chapters into ttwo. What do you think I should do?
But anyway, how did you like this chapter? I kind of didn't edit it so hopefully you couldn't tell. What do you think about Tash leaving? What do you think about the fact that James watched her go? Was it sad? I was sad when I wrote it.
Alright, next chapter should be up shortly after this one since it's all written and everything. Ask me some questions about it and maybe I'll give you some hints. Or maybe I won't. We'll see how I feel.
Basically review if you'd like, you guys mean everything to me so I'm always happy to hear your thoughts! XXX
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