Chapter 17 : Sleepless Nights
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I was miserable. I had been all week. The weather wasn’t helping. It hadn’t stopped raining for two weeks. For the people living in my brain, you might be wondering why I was miserable. It all centered around a gray eyed girl, who was busy spending every free moment with someone other than me. Which should not have bothered me in the slightest. Except it did, and I didn’t like any of it.
I was not helping my argument that I didn’t want to be with her. Everyone had picked up on it pretty quickly. Asher had stopped eating at our table and instead spent all his time at the Ravenclaw table. Traitor!
I seriously needed to get a grip. I banged my head down on the table. Anything was better than staring at them.
It was lunchtime, and everyone around me was talking in happy, animated tones. The most I could do was muster up enough energy to stare moodily at my plate of food. I hadn't even spoken to Charlotte in a week, and it was making me very pissy. I snapped at everyone. I hated seeing her with someone else, and I hated myself even more for letting it happen. I looked across the hall at her, and she caught my eye, her expression guarderd.
It felt like a knife in my heart. She'd only been looking at me that way the past few days. Guarded. Wary. Pissed. I was breaking my promise to her. The one where I'd told her we'd remain fast friends after coming back to school. The past few days, I'd done nothing but glower at her and snap whenever she so much as breathed in my direction.
I hated myself for it, but couldn't manage a smile when I looked at her. She used to smile at me the way she was now smiling at him. I'd been a scared man, running from the possibility of love, and now I was paying for that.
Something smacked me in the shoulder and I looked around, annoyed. Freddy elbowed me and pointed down at my plate. Sitting on top of my untouched pile of potatoes was an origami panther. Why was Dom sending me a piece of origami? I looked over at her and she mimed opening the paper and reading. I scowled at her and she just grinned at me, before going back to talk to Charlotte. I sighed. Charlotte looked especially lovely today, and now I’m back to thinking about her. Enough!
I slammed my fork down on the table, causing everyone to look at me and shrink back. The panther roared at me and climbed onto my hand. What did Dom want? As I picked up the paper, it fell apart into an easily readable sheet of parchment.
My lovely cousin, please stop staring at Charlotte. It’s not becoming and it makes you look jealous, which isn’t a good look on you. She’s happy, and if you wanted to be the one over here making her laugh, you should have asked her out before Asher did. So either fess up, tell her how you feel because it’s obvious to everyone. Or let her enjoy the attention.
The paper started smoking and turned to ash in my hands. I raised my head and looked at Dom. She looked back, and her face was full of compassion.
“I’m sorry.” She mouthed at me. I stood up suddenly and stalked out of the dining hall. I needed to get over this, it’s was starting rumors. It would be best to turn my attention to something else. The party was nearing, I could dive headfirst into planning that. I could pour my energy into training sessions, to mold the best team possible. I could skip sleep, who needed it when you dreamed of the same girl every night and woke up exhausted. In skipping sleep, I could get all my homework done and become the best student in the school, writing brilliant essays and getting them published. Those ideas filled me with a renewed fervor for all of a few minutes, before I went back to sulking.
I stalked up to my room, and pulled my curtains shut against the world. I spent a few hours doing homework and writing out reminders for the party. It might just be the best one yet, and I went over every detail in an attempt to push other thoughts out of my head. It only half worked.
After a few hours, I finally pushed everything to the end of the bed and pulled out a letter from underneath my pillow. Mum had sent it a few weeks ago. She had sent along a picture she had taken of Charlotte and I, with an annoying note about how happy I looked in the picture. I spent most nights staring at picture, waiting for the moment in the loop when Charlotte looked back at the camera and smiled. It was wrong, on so many levels.
The guys came back into the room a while after dinner was over. Asher lay in the bed next to me, and I heard Will and Henry ribbing him about how little they saw him these days. I wanted to pound them when they started making jokes about Asher getting Charlotte into a dark room and having some quality time with her. Asher, to his credit, told them he wasn’t even thinking about that and would never pressure her into anything. A knife stabbed into me when I heard him say that kissing her was enough. I didn’t realize he had. I tortured myself imagining it.
I should be happy for Asher, I really should. I should be happy for Charlotte, she deserved to have a good bloke to spend her time with, to share her amazing self with. I was almost dreading seeing her at the party. She’d be coming with him. Maybe I’d just get drunk, find the nearest willing girl and go find a dark spot. Even as I thought the idea, I felt disgusted with myself. I rolled over, shoving the picture back under my pillow and closed my eyes.
Everyone else had long since gone to bed. I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts of a certain person kept plaguing me, and around one I finally gave up the fight. Sleep clearly wasn’t going to happen. As quietly as possible, I rooted through the bottom of my trunk and grabbed the infamous invisibility cloak and map. Sneaking out was something I happened to be very good at, and managed to make it outside the common room without waking a single soul. Once outside I lay back against the cool castle wall and let out a deep sigh.
School had started six weeks ago, and it was already unbearable. It had nothing to do with homework, although there was a lot of it. Nothing to do with Quidditch, my team was amazing and they would for sure win, again, this year. All my problems centered around a girl. This was a new problem. Girls had always been easy to come by, but no one had ever gotten past my wall. I used them, and then I discarded them. It was a game. I wasn't like my brother, who was so sure of who he wanted and didn't mind waiting until it was the right time. He didn't mind being best friends with the girl he was in love with. Why was it so scary for me?
What was it about those girls and the Potters? Lily and Harper were two peas in a pod. Al and Ava were best friends, soon to be something more if my brother finally made a move. And me, I'd fallen head over heels for the older Gray sister. There was way more to that girl than met the eye. I kept thinking back to that night in her room. At the time, it seemed a good idea to stay and make sure she was ok. How the devil was I supposed to know that it would lead to one of the best nights of my life, where literally nothing happened but conversation and a few chances to rescue her from herself.
My eyes closed and I saw a face floating behind them. Pale skin, wavy dark hair and those gray eyes that had been haunting my dreams. In an attempt to rid myself of the image, I slammed my head back against the wall. Great, now I was seeing birds. That hurt.
“What gave that away?” The portrait I was sitting underneath chuckled. Glad to know my torment was amusing.
“Poor child, first love is never easy is it?”
“Love?!?” Who said anything about love? This is just a silly crush, I can get over it. No commitment. I’m James Potter, that kind of thing doesn’t happen. No way, no how. I was still stuck in the phase of trying to convince myself that I didn't love her, while knowing it was utterly, fantastically wrong. I wanted her like I'd never wanted anyone.
“Deny it all you want dear, I know that look. Had it myself once, a very long time ago. Let’s see, that was way back in 1705. Most handsome man you’d ever seen. No one approved, but I loved him still. Things were different back then. I was a witch, he was a Muggle and a royal to boot!” The woman in the portrait kept talking, for at least another ten minutes before finally drifting off, staring wistfully off into the distance and whispering about true love.
“I am not in love!” The person in the painting just chuckled again, then yelled at the painting next to her. “Does he look to be in love to you?” That got them all going and I bolted to the sounds of their affirmations that yes, I was clearly in love. I tried to find another spot, but there were paintings all over the bloody castle! My blood was rushing through my head and I was breathing heavily. No way I was out of shape, I was worked up because of this. Damn. Beautiful. Ravenclaw that I maybe, sort of, kind of liked. Just a bit.
I banged my head against the stone again and yelped in pain. Giving myself brain damage was apparently my solution to all of this. My body froze for a while, and I just stood there leaning against the wall. I gave in, and opened up the map, just to find her name. Charlotte Gray. She wasn’t in Ravenclaw tower. Panic rose up in me, and I immediately started to envision all the scenarios where she could be hurt or stranded somewhere. It had happened before. A smile crept across my face at the thought of rescuing her again. No! Stop thinking about her, but where was she? I was about to rip the map to shreds in frustration, her name was nowhere to be seen. Wait, there! What is she doing there? With Georgia, Rory, Sky and Dom no less. Huh?
I slipped the cloak over my body, and walked towards where the map said they were. Is it possible for the map to lie? What would 5 sixth year Ravenclaws be doing out of bed at this hour? There was no way for me to know that this was a tradition. It was pretty smart of them actually, I hadn’t even been in this part of the castle before. They could probably make as much noise as possible and no teacher would find them. I heard the faint sounds of music coming from just up ahead. Singing, definitely singing. I crept quietly towards the door, and wondered how I was going to get in.
I was saved from having to think about a way in when the door burst open and Sky and Rory came bursting out, laughing. And drunk. Why wasn’t I invited, this seemed like my kind of party. Who knew the studious Ravenclaws knew how to have fun. My brain told me not to lose this opportunity and I slipped inside, staying flat against the wall. Good thing I did too, because the twins came back in moments later and shut the door. Great, now I was trapped in a room with 5 girls. Actually, this wasn’t the worst problem I’d ever had.
“Charlie! Your turn.” I heard a singsong voice and I recognized it as my cousins.
“Why do you insist on karaoke every year?” There she was, my beautiful Lottie. Stop thinking that!
“Because it’s fun, and you have a beautiful voice!”
“You do Charlie, you really do.” That was a bit much for my Charlotte and I saw her blush. Which didn’t help me any, because that only made her more endearing. How did I never notice how amazing she was? Because you were stuck in your selfish little world playing games with other girls was my first thought. My jaw dropped when I saw her take a swing from a flask. Charlotte grinned, grabbed a cowboy hat and sauntered over to the old desk. I worried she might trip trying to climb on top, but she got up in one quick hop.
“What would my lovely audience like to hear?”
“Show the girls a true, American country song dear cousin.” Georgia grinned at her and Charlotte grinned back. They were doing that telepathic thing that I sometimes did with Freddy. They both finally nodded and using some sort of small portable metal device Charlotte picked the agreed upon song.
Immediately upon hearing the music, a very different Charlotte came out. I liked it, a lot. She danced, and she sang. I had never heard the song before, something about a good girl. Up on that desk, she became a rock star, swinging hips and all. I had never been more attracted to her. When the song ended, she fell down laughing, a full blown body laugh that I hadn’t heard since that night in her room.
This is turning out to be a great night of no sleep. I had a stupid grin all over my face and just enjoyed staring at Charlotte. Stalker was the lone word that passed across my thoughts. It wasn’t untrue.
“I have to go to the loo, then it’s my turn!” Dom was definitely slurring her words a bit, but I followed her as she bounced out of the room. Who knew when I’d get the chance to leave, and as much as I would like to stay and just stare at Charlotte, that was crazy behavior. Even for me.
Dom went one way out the door and I went the other, using the map to help get me back towards a more familiar section of the castle. I walked past the same portrait that had been harassing me earlier and whispered, “You win.” I crept back into the Gryffindor common room and up to my bed, falling asleep mere moments after lying down. I guess being a stalker wears a guy out.
A/N- Sorry for the horrendously short chapter! I had to cut out more than half of the original chapter to accomadate some new material.... don't hate me (those of you that have read this before)! Onto new material! :)
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