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Chapter 28 : Christmas Eve
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The sun shone brightly into my room, and I squinted in annoyance. It was way too early, and it was Christmas Eve. That meant it was a good day to sleep in until noon. I peeked at the clock from underneath my pillow and saw that it was only seven in the morning. Ugh. I tried going back to sleep and failed. Might as well get up and showered.
A large yawn escaped as I opened the door, and I scratched my chest while walking to the bathroom down the hall. As big as this house was, and I still didn’t have my own bathroom. It was currently occupied too, as the door was shut. I turned on my heel, figuring I’d go see if I could find some coffee downstairs when I door opened. I looked over my shoulder and my jaw dropped.
Charlotte was just coming out, hair half-dry, and a short white robe wrapped around her loosely. It was practically hanging off her shoulder on one side and why wouldn’t my jaw shut?!? She finally noticed me and took a quick step back in surprise, her mouth forming a perfect O. She bit her lip, ducked her head and smiled, drifting past me to her room.
Which happened to be right next to mine. The air around me smelled of her perfume and I realized it was new. It smelled like a winter morning, crisp, clean and with the hint of pine with something floral too. It was like the girly version of a snowy winter morning. That’s such a stupid thought James, I said under my breath, walking into the bathroom and kicking the door shut behind me.
Charlotte was alone at the table with my parents when I went down to breakfast.
“Are you ok James?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“You’re up before noon. Should I be worried?” Mum and Dad were smiling at each other and Charlotte was trying not to smirk. She hid it well, I noticed, by taking another bite of French toast. I slid into the chair next to hers and grabbed a plate, ignoring my parents. I went to grab the plate of French toast, but Charlotte slid it away from me, laughing.
“You have to say please James.” I smirked at her and just grabbed her plate, digging in.
“You have the perfect amount of butter and syrup, amazing Charlotte.” She stared at me in surprise and then started laughing silently. It was one of my favorite things to do, making her laugh.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t been doing it a lot since she had been here. I hadn’t at all thought through my invitation to her. Not only was I becoming an expert at denying my feelings for her, I had somehow not thought through what it would be like to have the girl you like staying at your house- when she’s dating someone else. Who also happens to be one of your best mates.
There were too many close calls, and I ended up getting frustrated and then taking it out on her. We had been very hot and cold since she got here and I hated myself. But now, seeing her laugh, made me feel warm inside. Yesterday, I had really hurt her feelings and it seemed like she had forgiven me, as she was prone to doing.
She must be so confused. The other day she'd come back from Dom's and I'd found her in her room crying. I'd comforted her, and she'd let me, which was like heaven to me. The next day it was like the summer, we went off and explored a local town by ourselves and just had fun. And then the past two days we'd just been going back and forth between what seemed like pretty extreme sexual tension and fighting.
“Can I have my food back please?” I wrapped my arm around the plate and hunched over it, shoveling a huge bite into my mouth.
“No! Mine!” She was leaning back in her chair, and was still laughing. Her sweater fell off her shoulder and I stared. The morning sunlight streamed through the windows and fell on her. Her dark hair shone and she looked beautiful. She was wearing her favorite skinny jeans, tall brown boots and a fuzzy white sweater.
Charlotte sat back up and looked back at me, a large smile on her face. Her gray eyes sparkled at me and she bit her lip again. Why must she do that around me? Doesn’t she realize what that does to guys?
“Charlotte, are you still planning on going with your sisters into London today?” Mum asked her, drawing Charlotte’s attention, and I stared down at my plate, trying to get my urges under control.
“Yup, as soon as my sisters are up. Thank you so much for making breakfast Mrs. Potter.”
“Charlotte, call me Ginny, please. No need for the formalities, I think I’ve known you long enough.” Mum winked at her and I rolled my eyes.
“Charlotte is too polite to call you by your first name Mum.” That came out a little harsher than I meant. Oops. They both just ignored me and discussed their plans for the day. Mum was going to be getting ready for the party later this evening.
Charlotte and her sisters were joining their father in London for a few hours. They were going together, and I was going to be joining them. Mum needed to pick up a few last minute things in Diagon Alley, and I was going because I needed to pick up Charlotte’s gift, which was finally ready.
Mum stood up and brought some chocolate chip muffins to the table, fresh from the oven. They were my favorite, and I went to grab one, handing it to Charlotte. She smiled at me and pulled a piece off, popping it into her mouth.
“These are really good!”
“Thank you Charlotte. They’re James’s favorite, I make them every Christmas.”
“What she means to say is that she doesn’t make them often enough.” I grabbed a second out of the basket and tore into it. This was worth the early wake up.
“Maybe you should learn how to make them then?” Charlotte looked at me, still leaning back against the other chair. I was afraid she was going to fall.
“That’s what Mum’s are for.” I smiled at mine and she smacked the back of my head lightly with the paper. Charlotte burst out laughing again and her chair finally gave out. She fell to the floor, startling everyone. Mum and Dad shot up out of their chairs with very worried faces.
I swung out of my chair and dropped down next to her, pulling her into my lap. I was so intent on checking her for cuts and blood that I didn’t realize she was just smirking at me.
“James was right about you then Charlotte, you are uh… accident prone huh?” Al said walking into the room.
“Don’t make me say that James is right Al, you know he already has a big enough head.” Charlotte smiled up at me, and ran her fingers through my hair in a friendly manner. Her eyes were twinkling and there was that damn desire again. I wanted to snog her.
She rested her head against my shoulder and said something quietly to me. “Your sweater is really soft.” She was running her fingers back and forth over the fabric and my heart started beating louder. I was wearing my favorite jeans and a gray v-neck wool blend sweater. It matched her eyes perfectly I noticed.
“Uh… do you guys need to get a room?”
“ALBUS!” Mum roared and the mood was ruined. Charlotte stood up and then held her hands out to me. If I was alone with her, I would have just pulled her back down. As it was, since that would be inappropriate to do with your friend’s girlfriend, I let her help me up. I grabbed another muffin and walked out of the room, with Al yelling a forced apology after me. I hoped Charlotte would follow me, and she did.
“You’re not going to leave me alone are you? I might hurt myself again.” There was a laugh underneath her words. I walked into my room, held the door open, taking a deep breath as she walked past. She still smelled like a winter morning.
“Well, you’re clearly just as likely to hurt yourself if I’m there. Doesn’t seem to make much difference.”
“Did you hurt yourself?”
“Um…” I turned around and faced her. She was holding one of her arms behind her.
“Charlotte.” I growled and stepped closer to her.
“I might have hurt my wrist, but it’ll be ok.” She looked up at me with her wide eyes as I stood directly in front of her, reaching around her back to pull her wrist forward. I moved it around a bit, and she didn’t wince at all. “It’s not broken. It’s just a little sore. Honestly, James, I’m ok. Thank you for looking out for me though.”
“You need looking after.” She walked over to my window and looked out at the backyard, which was covered in snow. “What time are we all heading to Diagon Alley?”
“We’re supposed to meet our Dad around 10. It’s 8 now. I’m going to wake my sisters up in about a half hour if they don’t get themselves up.”
“So what you’re saying is we have a bit of time to kill.”
“A bit, yes.”
“What would you like to do?”
“Something I’ve never done before.” My heart skipped a beat before I could stop it. What had gotten into Charlotte, she was acting like a different person, in a good way.
“What’s gotten in to you?”
“Maybe I want to seize what is left of this year.”
“No, seriously.” She shrugged and looked up at me through her lashes.
“I don’t know. If I can have a happy morning, then maybe I can hold onto it long enough to get me through my time with my Dad.” She ducked her head, and looked sad for the first time all morning. My hand went under her chin and lifted her face up.
“Then we will do something fun. What would you like to do?”
“Teach me how to play chess?”
“Chess isn’t exactly fun. It’s strategy.”
“Then… video games? You have those right?”
“We do.” I grinned at her and she smiled back. We went back downstairs and into the large room with the massive TV and all the video games consoles. She rooted through all of our games and handed me one that looked like fun to her.
Half an hour later and she was killing me at the game. She had taken off her boots, pulled her hair back into a ponytail and was sitting cross legged on the couch. Charlotte was in full on serious gaming mode and was having the time of her life. We weren’t playing anything serious, just Mario Kart.
She especially loved the extra games, and was most excited about Bob-omb blast. For never really having played a game before, she was quite good. I couldn’t even be angry at her for destroying me, because she looked so damn cute. I let her play by herself in solo mode and just leaned back into the couch, watching her.
Her sweater kept slipping off her shoulder and I reached over to push it back, letting my fingers graze against the bare skin. She paused the game and looked at me, our faces only about two feet apart. It was aggravating me to no end that I couldn’t just reach out my hand and pull her face into mine for a kiss.
Charlotte, not knowing what I was thinking, placed her palm on my face and shoved it away from hers with a grin, then went back to playing. Maybe she did know what I was thinking, and that was her way of telling me to back off. Then she looked back at me, and smiled, and I wondered if maybe she felt the same way I did. I had to stop this. I smacked my hand against my head and yelled.
“I didn’t do anything!”
“Did I say that out loud?”
“Yes. Are you ok?” Charlotte put the controller down and turned around to face me.
“I’m fine.” Why was I snapping at her?
“You don’t sound fine. What’s wrong?”
“James. What’s wrong?” She, probably innocently, put her hand on my knee and then withdrew it when I looked down.
“Nothing’s wrong. Stop asking me.” I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t tell her that I’d spent the last 20 minutes thinking about nothing but wanting to kiss her. She couldn’t know that the reason I’d given up all my normal games with girls this year was because of her. She wasn’t available, she was dating one of my best mates, and I had to get her out of my head.
I looked at her and saw the hurt cross her face. Great, now I’d ruined her morning because I can’t control my feelings.
“I’m sorry. I just… you sound upset.”
“It’s not you.”
“Should I leave you alone? I’ll go…” She stood up, putting her boots on quickly and went to walk past me. I grabbed her hand and pulled her down onto my lap.
“Don’t go.” I tucked my head into her neck, hating myself. “You smell nice.”
“Thanks.” She sounded breathless. My fingers found her bare shoulder, I both hated and loved this sweater she was wearing. Her skin was warm and utterly soft underneath my fingertips. I looked up at her and placed both my hands on either side of her face. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened in surprise. “James.”
I loved when she said my name. I realized what I was doing and pushed her off my lap, more in an attempt to hide my disappointment than because I didn’t want her near.
“Stop it!” I said to myself again, and again, outloud.
“I didn’t do anything!” She looked hurt and unsure. It made me feel even worse.
“I can’t do this.”
“James… whatever I did, I’m sorry.” Her voice broke and I saw tears fill up her eyes. I walked over to her and pulled her into my arms. This hot and cold thing had to stop. What was wrong with me? Merlin's pants, this girl had gotten under my skin.
“It’s nothing you did, ok?”
“No. No buts. I just can’t tell you…” Unbeknownst to me, Lily had been watching this exchange between us quietly. She would have figured out what was going on. She had the same brains as our cousin Rose, but didn’t put them to the same use.
“You don’t trust me?”
“I trust you.”
“But you don’t want me around, do you? You’re regretting asking me here aren’t you?”
“Yes…” I saw the flash of pain across her face and realized I had spoken before I meant to. “I mean no… Charlotte!” She had run away from me and it was then I saw Lily.
“What. In. the. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. You?!?” Lily spoke each word clearly, stabbing me in the chest after each one. “Why would you hurt her like that? She doesn’t deserve that! You’re being a total prat!”
“I know. Lily, trust me, I know.”
“So what is wrong with you? Why?”
“You know. Don’t make me say it.”
“Maybe you should say it, so you’ll stop being a jackass.”
“Has a boyfriend. Yes, but that doesn’t mean you get to treat her like crap because of your feelings. Either tell her or get out of the house for a while!” She looked eerily like my Mum right now and that was not a pleasant sight. The Potter women, when angry, were best left alone. I walked out through the backdoor, slamming it behind me.
It was snowing out, not surprising given that it was December. After getting yelled out of the house, by my sister, after being a jerk to Charlotte I was now leaning up against the house. My brain is currently working on convincing me that I am an utter prat and how I am the worst person ever.
My behavior towards Charlotte, after I had made such a big deal about her spending the holidays with us made no sense whatsoever. I’m not known for being the most logical person ever, but even I’m not that out of it. Idiot. Why did I make such a big deal about her coming to my house? My brain responded with the obvious answers.
I invited her because I wanted her to be close to me. I wanted to have a whole holiday with her, away from school, away from our friends. I wanted to take long walks with her in the snow and spend nights talking in front of the fire. It didn’t matter that my family would be around, and probably making kissy faces behind my back.
A flashback to this morning caught me off guard. The desire to pull her into my arms and snog her senseless had been overwhelming. I had never wanted anything more, in fact. I wanted all of this, and yet, for unknown reasons I was being a complete ass to her.
Hating myself was a new thing and I couldn’t tell you why my behavior was so despicable. Which, really, was a lie. I knew. I wanted her and she was with someone else. Her confusion was evident. She had planned on staying at school for Christmas. I convinced her to come here instead. Her sisters were already coming to my house, and really, it just made sense.
Charlotte resisted and I persisted. She eventually caved and agreed to come. So far, her break had consisted of her having loads of fun with my family (who loved her), wanting to strangle me (can’t blame her), and looking broken (which killed me). I. am. an. IDIOT!
Proving this was easy, as I was currently banging my head against a brick wall, and hard. Hard enough that it knocked snow down off the roof and a huge pile fell on me. Great. Now I’m wet and have a migraine. It’s still nothing less than I deserve. The great James Potter, and I can’t even tell a girl I like her. That’s because you love her, my brain chided me. So I started talking to myself, that’s what sane people do right?
“Love?!? I can’t love her. If I did I wouldn’t be acting like this. I would be nice to her.” Not when you’re scared.
“Scared of what? I’m not scared. Of anything!”
You’re scared of being serious, of being taken seriously. Of being held accountable. You want to prove you’re more than this. You’re scared. She’s the only person that knows you’re more than who you pretend to be. She thinks that person is enough, that scares you. Because if she becomes yours, you’ll see yourself through her eyes. You’re scared James Potter!
Stupid thoughts. Shut up, you’re wrong.
If I was wrong , you wouldn’t be out here talking to yourself!
“Stop! Stop telling me that!”
“I didn’t say anything. Are you ok? You’ve been out here a while, and it’s pretty cold out.” Frozen. I was frozen- literally and figuratively. Of all the people to come check on me, it has to be her.
“I’m fine.” Why did I just bark that? What is wrong with me? She hasn’t done anything. The hurt in her voice was evident.
“Oh. Ok. I’ll… uh, leave you alone then.” She turned on her heel and practically sprinted away from me. Stupid! Stupid! Real smooth James. Make the girl you love run away from you. Damnit, I don’t love her. Yes, you do! My next reaction was to smack myself in the head with the palm of my head. Yea, that’ll help the migraine, I thought.
“Wait! Charlotte, wait!” She stopped, thank God she stopped. However, she didn’t face me, just froze in place.
“James…” she both looked and sounded like she had a million different things she wanted to say to me, but didn’t know what was best. I wish she’d just hit me. SMACK! Which is exactly what she just did, to my utter surprise.
It took me a moment to realize that she hadn’t actually smacked me, she’d thrown a snowball at me. A perfect snowball. Girl had skills. Not what I should be focusing on. Looking back up at her, I just balked. I seriously was not expecting that. She was glaring at me, and I hated seeing that look directing at me. “You deserved that.”
Charlotte seriously looked angrier than I’d ever seen her, and it was kind of hot. I knew my girl had some fire in her. Ok, back up, she is NOT MY GIRL! Get with the picture brain.
“I know.” I probably should have apologized, but didn’t. She was clearly hoping for an apology too, and when she didn’t get it she turned on her heel, again, and stalked off. I yelled her name, getting her to face me again. I did the only logical thing I could do. I ran and tackled her into a snow bank. Brilliant! This was going to turn out well.
My breath caught when I looked at her. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold and she had snowflakes trapped in her long eyelashes. Her silver eyes were flashing at me and she was breathing heavily. Which, was only helping to push her chest closer to mine each time she inhaled. I just smiled down at her. And she’s still pissed. Her voice, when she spoke, was low and full of irritation.
“Let me go.”
“James! Let me go.”
“I swear to God James, let me up now or I will hex you!”
“First, you can’t- so nice try. Second, I have to say something. After you listen you’ll be free to go.”
“I won’t be able to listen until you move, you’re crushing me.” Charlotte was gorgeous when worked up. I didn’t want to let her go. Time to play some word games.
“Did you just call me fat?” She just glared at me and shoved at me, which didn’t really do much. “Will you promise to stay and listen?”
“Yes, if you promise to GET OFF ME!” I leaned back onto my heels and she sat up on her elbows. I finally stood up and then helped her do the same. I looked at her. She was wearing a black and white polka dot scarf that suited her, and a light blue wool coat. “Should I go pack? Head to Dom’s? You clearly don’t want me here…”
“I shouldn’t have said that Charlotte, and I didn’t mean it.”
“Then why did you say it?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“What can you tell me James? Because you’ve been hot and cold since I got here and it’s confusing as hell! You’re the one that insisted I come here, do you remember that?”
“It’s because I do want you here!”
“You’re not acting like it!”
“I know. Please forgive my behavior.”
“I can’t forgive you because I don’t know what’s causing this behavior. You tell me what’s going on, or I’m done James. I’ll leave and go to Dom’s.”
“Please don’t go.”
“Tell me why you’re acting this way. Is it me?”
“No it’s not you, it’s me. I swear, it’s not you.”
“This sounds like a break-up.” She let out a small laughed and blew air out of the side of her mouth, trying to blow away a stray strand of hair. I reached out and pushed it aside. “You’re doing it again.”
“Doing what again?”
“Looking at me like that. You’ve been doing it since I got here. James, seriously, why did you invite me if you didn’t want me to come?” Charlotte stood with her hands on her hips, staring at me. I took a step forward and folded her into my arms, hugging her tight. My head bent down and whispered into her ear.
“I wanted you to come. It’s just hard for me.”
“Why? Starting to regret rescuing me this summer?”
“I have never regretted that, nor will I ever. Charlotte, it’s hard for me because…” The back door opened and Lily yelled at me that it was time to go. Charlotte looked up at me and I froze.
“Will you tell me later?”
“I… Yes. I’ll tell you later.” She pushed herself away from me and stalked back to the house. I followed shortly after, watching her walk away, knowing that this wasn’t going to be a fun trip.
We flooed to my Uncle’s shop in Diagon Alley. Mum and I went our separate ways, as Charlotte and her sisters walked towards the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. They were meeting their Dad back at his flat and he would drop them off in a few hours. Charlotte didn’t speak to me, and I felt a little broken inside.
I walked towards the shop that was holding her gift, and relished the warmth of the store. The shop owner was vey glad to see me, he should be, I was spending a fortune on her present. He talked about the history of the item again and I took a look at it.
A necklace sat, nestled inside the blue velvet box. It was antique bronze and was over 200 years old. It had been made by a Ravenclaw witch- who, like Charlotte- was half English and half American. The story behind what the necklace did was fascinating and I couldn’t wait to tell Charlotte. The shop owner wrapped the box up in fancy paper and handed it to me.
I placed it in my pocket as I walked out the store and decided to go walk around London for a little while. It would beat tailing my Mum around and I wanted to be alone.
As I turned a corner, I saw a father and his two daughters standing on the side of the road. I couldn’t see the faces of the two girls, just the colors of their coats. One was a bright green and the other was a wine color. The coats looked familiar and so did the man.
“Mr.Gray!” Of all the people to run into and it was Charlotte’s Dad. In the middle of London. He turned around, as did Ava and Harper, neither of whom I noticed before.
They were bright spots of color against the white snow and gray sky. Where was Charlotte? She said she was spending the day with her sisters. Here they were, but where was she? I craned my neck looking for her and saw nothing. Maybe she was in one of the shops.
“Hello… uh…” He didn’t remember me. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.
“That’s James Papa. He’s Charlie’s friend.” Ava interjected, pausing before saying friend, like she had to think about how to explain my relationship with her sister. I didn’t like the way Ava said friend. What did she mean by that? We were friends, even if I wished it was more.
“You were at the train station, right?”
“Yes, sir. I was. Where’s Charlotte? She said she was going to be with all of you today.” Her fathers face went through a dramatic slew of emotions, guilt being the predominant emotion. Uh-oh. He stuttered a few times before speaking, and neither Ava or Harper would really look at me. I could feel the anger start to boil up.
“Charlotte uh, said she wasn’t feeling well, and would prefer to stay behind. She’s at my flat, probably reading or something.” He was clearly lying. Charlotte was fine this morning, other than being royally pissed at me and having a sore wrist.
“That’s very odd indeed Mr. Gray, because I saw her this morning and she was as healthy as could be.”
“Oh! I didn’t realize you had seen her recently.” That was the stupidest thing ever, because she was staying at my house, with her sisters. Who would have told him where they all were.
“Maybe you would have realized that if you actually spoke to her on occasion.” I shoved my hands deeper in my jacket, but kept my head up, looking at him directly.
“I don’t think it’s your place to talk about my relationship with my daughter James. Now, if you please, we have a full day planned today.”
“Without your daughter.” I could tell something bad was about to happen. I had a lot of pent-up emotions and this was about to be my vessel for releasing them.
“My daughters are right here.”
“And your other one is at home! Perfectly healthy and yet she’s still not here! Why is that Mr. Gray? Why do you keep her in the dark like this? Why can’t she be here, enjoying Christmas Eve with her father and her sisters?” He was quite taken aback and spluttered again.
I’m starting to wonder if Charlotte is adopted, because she has so much more strength than either of her parents. Her father was a spineless wimp, and her mother acted liked she was a ghost.
“Charlotte preferred to stay home. Now really, we must be going.”
“Charlotte preferred to stay home because it’s quite obvious you don’t want her here. On Christmas Eve. You know, it’s a real shame that you can’t love her the way you love her sisters.” His face turned red, and I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to shut up. “You don’t know how amazing she is, do you? Of course you don’t, you never spend time with her. You don’t talk to her, so you wouldn’t know that she is one of the most incredible people to walk the face of this earth. She’s talented, and stunningly beautiful. She has endless compassion for everyone and everything. She is strong and capable. She is brave and selfless. She’s has an incredible sense of humor and is one of the smartest people I know. She burns with a fire brighter than the sun. But no one sees that. Do you know that most people at our school don’t even know who she is? That, like your ex-wife, she floats around, never drawing attention to herself? That she hides her fire, because she’s afraid. And why should she be afraid? Charlotte is a bird, trapped in a cage. She can’t spread her wings and fly because she has no room to fly. And do you know why Mr. Gray? Because she is absolutely convinced that her family does not love her! That they do not care about her, and she thinks that she is second class compared to her sisters. You lavish your attention and love on them and ignore her. Why is that? Because she happens to look like your ex-wife and you don’t want to be reminded of that? You, Mr. Gray are a failure of a father and don’t deserve to have someone of such high caliber in your life. You don’t deserve her as a daughter and I hope that one day you wake up and realize how much of a mistake you made in not loving her. She loves you even though you clearly don’t love her. And that’s what makes her such a better person than you. So take your prized daughters and enjoy the rest of your day.” I spun on my heel and stalked off, seething in anger.
How dare he? I tried not to be angry at her sisters and failed. They helped Charlotte in thinking she wasn’t worth anything as much as they did. I felt horrible myself for not treating her better and vowed to do something special for her. Her family was horrible, and I didn’t need to be acting the same way.
My feelings had to be put aside. My fingers tightened around the small packaged hidden in my pocket and I knew I would give it to her tonight, she needed something special. Footsteps pounded on the pavement behind me, muffled by the thick dusting of snow.
“James, wait!” Against my better judgment, I stopped. Harper came to stand in front of me, slightly out of breath. Her hair danced around her face as a gust of wind blew through the streets. People bundled in winter clothes walked quickly past us, not sparing a glace at the two teenagers standing in the middle of the sidewalk.
“What do you want Harper?”
“What you said…”
“I won’t apologize.”
“I’m not asking you to. You’re right. All of it, you’re right.” I finally looked at her and saw sadness etched across her face.
“At least you’ll admit it.”
“Ava and I can both admit it. I’m just the only one brave enough to come over to you and say it.”
“I’m not the one that needs to hear it Harper!” I yelled, and she cringed. Now people were looking at us, and I could tell they thought we were having a lovers spat. “Charlotte needs to hear it. You want to make things better, you tell her. Not me!”
“There’s a wall there James, it’s not that easy.”
“There is only a wall there if you want it there. That applies to all of you. Charlotte reacts off what she senses from all of you. You sense the wall, so she keeps her distance. She won’t tear that wall down, since she isn’t the one that put it there.” That was a moment of rare wisdom from me and it was all I felt the need to say.
I walked away, leaving Ava standing there with the snow blowing around her, clutching her wine colored coat tighter around her. Gusts of cold air cut through my clothes and I bent my head down against the wind. I walked back into The Leaky Cauldron to find my Mum, and saw her sitting and talking to someone that looked vaguely familiar. She saw me and a look of concern passed across her face.
I slumped down into an empty seat and closed my eyes- thoughts swirling. All I could see was Charlotte’s face. I saw her as I loved her best, head thrown back in laughter. In those moments, her true self flew to freedom and it was worth any cost to make it happen time and time again. Thoughts of her continued to consume me as I waited for my Mum to finish her conversation.
It was getting harder and harder for me to pretend I didn’t want something else. It gutted me that she was with someone else, and not just anyone, one of my friends. I’d shared a room with Asher for 6 years and knew him to be a much higher quality man than I was.
I had lost count of how many times I had stared across tables and rooms at them, watching her smile at him, and wishing it was me making her laugh. Everyone knew something was off with me. It must have been obvious.
“James, darling, are you ok?” Mum sat down next to me, and ran a hand over my hair in a way every mother does.
“I had a run-in with someone.”
“Do you want to talk to about it?”
“I ran into Charlottes family.”
“Oh, did you ask Charlotte if she was still planning on being around for dinner tonight, or are they staying with their Dad?”
“She wasn’t there. Just Ava, Harper and their Dad.”
“I thought Charlotte was spending the day with them.”
“She’s apparently sitting back at her father’s flat, sick.”
“Sick? That’s bollocks, she was fine this morning.”
“Because her family is rubbish and doesn’t love her.” In true Ginny Potter fashion, my mum’s face hardened and what she said made me proud to be her son. “Then she doesn’t need them, she can be part of our family.” For the first time in over an hour, I smiled. Mum hugged me, and then asked if I was ready to go.
“Home sounds great right now.” She grabbed my hand, and we apparted back home. It was chaos when we got back. Lily was chasing Al around the house, waving mistletoe at him, yelling that he better kiss Ava tonight.
Al looked like he wanted to die of embarrassment and he also looked like he couldn’t imagine anything better happening. He blushed and in that moment, I realzied he already had.
Mum yelled at both of them to stop running, and then yelled at them a few minutes later for not cleaning their rooms. Everyone was going to be at our house within an hour for Christmas dinner. I wandered past the study, and saw Dad and Uncle Ron sitting by the window playing their annual game of wizard’s chess.
My room was a welcome refuge after the events of this morning. My body fell onto the bed, and I let out a loud sigh. I was just about to close my eyes when the door slammed open.
“James Sirius….It’s clean! You cleaned your room?” Mum was standing there and the shock in her voice was quite obvious.
“You asked me too, so yes.”
“You never listen to me though!”
“I did this time.”
“I… well, thank you James.” She started to close the door, yelling again at my two siblings. “Alright you two, James has cleaned his room! GO CLEAN YOURS!” I was going to try and close my eyes again when I heard what sounded like a herd of elephants running up the stairs. Both of my siblings burst into my room and froze.
“Holy hippogriff! It’s actually clean!” Lily sounded as shocked as Mum.
“Would you both get out?” I said to them wearily.
“It’s actually clean!”
“You said that already, now get out!”
“But…” Lily started to say something but I shot up out of bed, and she looked at me all freaked out.
“OUT!” I screamed at both of them, dragging them by the arms out into the hallway. I slammed by door shut, and locked it, then pushed a chair up against the doorknob. I heard them exclaiming again over my clean room.
“IF YOUR BROTHER CAN DO IT- SO CAN YOU! GET A MOVE ON IT!” Mum yelled at them again. My bed felt like the most comfortable place ever and I lay back and fell asleep.
The light filtering into my room when I woke indicated that a few hours had passed. The clock on my bedside table said it was 2 in the afternoon. Everyone should be here by now, I thought as I ran my hands over my face. I groaned as I sat up, and stretched before walking into the bathroom to turn on the shower. The steam quickly filled up the room and the hot water burned my skin. I looked like a cooked lobster when I stepped out. My reflection stared back at me after I wiped away a circle in the steamed mirror, and then quickly disappeared as the steam came back. I threw the door open and walked back into my room, running into Lily as she came pounding up the stairs.
“Oh good, you’re up. People have been here for forever…”
“Two hours is not forever Lily. I’ll be down soon, tell Mum will you?”
“I’m not your messenger!” Little sisters were annoying. “Oh, Charlotte just showed up. You might want to get dressed.” She stared at me, hands on her hips, and I could tell she was watching closely for my reaction. I just turned around, and kicked my door shut behind me. Once I was alone, I allowed a smile to creep across my face, noticing that as I smiled my heart rate went up. I hoped she didn’t hate me after this morning.
I'd find out soon enough.
A/N- Part One- what'd you think? Hope you liked it. How many of you think James needs to fess up and tell Charlotte that he lurvesss her? hahaha. thanks so much for reading. I hope you enjoy what's coming next. ;)
Also- credit for Mario Kart goes to Nintendo. I like to play the game, but had nothing to with creating it.
Second A/N- As this story is still going through an edit (as of June 23, 2014) the next Chapter will be titled Christmas Miracle, so if that's not the next chapter title that pops up... please dont read any further. Thanks, and you know the speech about the reviews. Please and thank you. :)
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