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Chapter 5 : Christmas Surprises Part 2
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“We’re talking now! What more can you ask for?” I said racking my brain for an excuse to leave. For the past week I’ve been using all my best excuses to avoid this conversation. Unfortunately I’ve used all my excuses.
“Let’s go for a ride.”
“But it’s 7, it’s almost dark.”
“Let’s go for a ride.”
I used to love riding with my dad. We own two horses that we board in a stable about 10 minutes away from our house. When I was little he would take me over there three times a week. Twice for riding lessons and once so the two of us could ride together. I inherited my mother’s horse, Scout. My dad’s horse is Wilson.
We drove in silence towards the farm. In fact, we didn’t speak until the horses were bridled and we were riding.
“Race you to Willow Meadow.” My dad called out. Willow Meadow is my favorite spot on the whole farm. It’s a meadow filled with only Willow trees, my dad and I used to go there all the time.
“You’re on!” I called back. “Let’s kick his arse.” I whispered in Scout’s ear.
Scout and I thundered alongside Wilson and my dad at breakneck speed. We were neck-in-neck until the end where I jumped over a log and dad went around it.
“And we are victors!” I shouted as Scout panted heavily and bent down for a drink of water from the stream. Wilson came over next to us for water as well.
“I knew the day you’d finally beat me fair would come. I just didn’t know it would be this soon.” My dad said, also out of breath.
“Get used to it dad, I’m only getting better.”
My dad just smiled.
“What?” I asked; he was giving me a weird look.
“You remind me of your mother.” Oh no, not this conversation. Is this what he wanted to talk to me about?
“You’re getting so big, you really need a motherly figure in your life.” He continued cautiously.
Oh shit. No no no no. This is not happening.
“Tiffany and I are getting married next summer.”
I couldn’t take anymore. I didn’t want to hear it. I nudged Scout and we cantered back to the farm. The whole ride back I couldn’t even comprehend what made my father decide to get married at his age. He loves my mother; he can’t just abandon her like that.
I got back to the stables, handed Scout to one of the stable hands, apologized best I could and got in the car. My dad started to teach me how to drive, so I took off home. He can apparate, not that I’d care if he couldn’t. His darling Tiffany would come get him.
I parked the car in the driveway and ran up to my room. Once I was safe in my room with the door locked behind me I let it go. I let out the tears I’ve been holding for almost 10 minutes now. There was a soft knock on my door, “Brie Brie? Are you okay?” Tiffany’s voice called out.
I didn’t respond, everything I want to say to her I can’t. Not only because I’m out of place to say it, but as of next summer I’m her daughter and as her daughter there is a level of respect to be maintained.
But I have to defend my mother, my REAL mother’s name. Her status. Her life. My thoughts drifted as I soon fell asleep.
Suddenly I woke up as if someone dumped a bucket of cold water on me. I looked at the clock: 1:00 am. The witching hour. I feel alive at this time.
Slowly I opened the door onto my deck. I climbed over the railing and down the side of the house onto the lower deck. Once on the lower deck I took the stairs to the path to the beach. Our house if built so the side of the house is either a bunch of different levels and has small areas almost like footholds, or different leveling decks that are all connected, expect for mine of course, and my dad’s.
Once on the beach I could breath easy again. The hardest part of sneaking out isn’t the actual sneaking out; it’s remembering to stay calm both during the sneak out and the morning after.
I sat down on the dunes and got lost in thought about my dad and Tiffany.
All of a sudden someone sat down next to me. “Couldn’t sleep?”
“Not a wink.” I replied.
“George is out cold. I saw you on the deck and decided to follow.” Fred said.
“I’d be surprised if you didn’t.” Fred always knows where I am. Wait, Fred? George? “What the hell are you doing here? You aren’t supposed to get here until tomorrow!”
“Calm down! Do you want to wake everyone up on the beach?” Fred looked around.
“Sorry. I’m calm. Why are you here?”
“We came early to surprise you. But you were out with your dad. When you got back, we decided not to bother you. Your dad told us that he told you about him and Tiffany.” Fred put his arm around me, “It’s going to be okay you know.”
“Is it Fred? Is it really? Because that…woman… is now my mother. There is nothing I can do about it.” I said holding back tears.
“Ellie. There may not be anything you can do about it, but how many months out of the year are you home for? Two? After school move out and get a job. Start your life! You don’t have to stay home forever.” Fred said. There was no humor in his voice; he was looking me in the eyes. “She may be in your life, but she doesn’t have to be a part of it. You decide who’s a part of it, not in it.”
“I feel like my dad is betraying my mom though. How can he forget about her? How does he not feel guilty for what happened?” I asked, oh crap, now I’m crying.
Fred turned so we were facing each other, “You can not blame yourself for what happened. It’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault.”
“I told her I never wanted to see her again. I told her to go away forever!” I practically screamed. I’ve never told anyone this before, but once I started, there’s no stopping me.
“Ellie. Your mother was sick; there was nothing you could’ve done. She had to go to St. Mungo’s.” Fred grabbed my hands, “Don’t you dare feel guilty.”
“She lost the will to live.” My voice was now barely above a whisper.
“It happens. There’s nothing you could’ve done. You were her life and soul.”
“It’s his fault. If he didn’t file for divorce none of this would have happened. He took me away from her.” It was my dad’s entire fault.
“You were 7! It’s unhealthy for a 7 year old to be around that.” Fred refused to look away.
“My dad couldn’t love her and now he can’t love me. He’s replacing both of us. What did I do wrong? Why am I so unlovable?” I was crying harder all the feelings and thoughts I’ve had bottled up for years finally spilling out.
“Ellie.” Fred tried to get my attention but I was listening, I couldn’t stop crying. “Brielle.” He said a little louder. I fell silent.
“You are the most lovable girl I’ve ever met.” I looked up and Fred was close to me, he was looking at my lips, clearly thinking the same thing I was. We leaned in and he wrapped his arms around me, “Don’t ever say you aren’t.” I buried my head in his shoulder and cried. We stayed like that until the sun came up over the horizon.
“For what? You just proved that even the strongest of us are human.” Fred said as we were walking back to the house. I smiled to myself, “I’m so embarrassed.”
“Ellie don’t be. We all have skeletons in our past that creep up and attack us at some point. Before you know it George and I will be breaking down.” Fred and I laughed. We entered my house and went into the kitchen to find George sitting at the island.
“Morning you two. Some late night fun on the beach I see.” George winked. Fred and I laughed. George knows, probably better then anyone, that Fred and I are just friends, always were always will be.
We sat and talked and ate breakfast, catching up on what has been going on since we last saw each other. My dad walked into the kitchen with Tiffany and kissed me on my head. I stood up quickly and said, “Have you two been in town yet? Let’s go there today.”
“Alright, I just want to shower. Be right down.” Fred said and he left.
“Brie Brie, you know your father loves you, he’s doing this for you.” Tiffany sat down next to me and put her arm around me.
“Oh, so the whore knows all about me now that she’s marrying my father. News flash, just because you are marrying my dad does not mean you’ll be my mother.” Tiffany’s mouth was wide open and I stood up and went upstairs to wait for Fred. George quickly followed me.
“What the hell?” George said once we were out of earshot of Tiffany and my dad.
“I don’t like her.”
“Clearly. I’ve never seen you like that though. You’ve always been the nice one.” George responded.
“I know. I’m just fed up right now.” I leaned against the wall and slid to the floor outside of Fred and George’s room.
“I get that. But maybe you’re looking at this the wrong way Ellie. She’s trying to be your friend. Can’t you at least try? For your dad?” George asked. He has a point.
“I don’t need a friend, I have enough of those. I need a mother.” I can’t believe those words came out of my mouth.
“Fred might be a while, you should go talk to her.” George said.
“You know your brother gave me the exact opposite advice last night.”
“I’ll bet that’s not all he gave you last night.” George said with a wink. I laughed and grabbed his hand to help me stand up.
“You’re hilarious George. I guess it won’t hurt to try. But you’re right. I’m not usually a bitch, this really isn’t like me.” I said defeated. I walked back downstairs where Tiffany was still in the kitchen.
“What do you want now?” She snapped at me. I could tell she had been crying. It never occurred to me that maybe she really wanted a relationship with me.
“I wanted to apologize. But not anymore.” Searing anger passed over me. I need a mother, but I don’t want her as my mother. I stormed out of the kitchen and made my way up to my room. I changed and brushed my teeth and went downstairs into Fred and George’s room.
“How’d it go?” George asked me when I entered the room.
“It didn’t. I do not want her in my life.” I said as I collapsed on the chair in the corner in their room.
“Ellie you can’t keep shutting people out.” At that moment Fred came out of the bathroom dressed and ready to go.
“Ready? Let’s go.” I said happy to not have to answer George.
“It’s all going to catch up to you, you know.” George called out after me. Shh! I’m trying to tell my conscience it won’t.
I tried to ignore George as I flounced down the stairs. Luckily we made it out of the house and off the grounds without running into my dad or Tiffany.
Fred. George and I spent the rest of the day and well into that night in town. We went window shopping, playing tricks on muggles (a LOT of witches and wizards live here so we don’t get in trouble) and making fun of the tourists.
“Still can’t sleep?”
“You know me, I’m a night owl.”
I sat down next to Fred on the dunes, the same place we were last night. “You and your brother are so different.”
“Everyone says just the opposite.” Fred smiled while playing with the sand.
“He’s a morning person, you’re a night owl. He told me to mend things with Tiffany, you told me to ignore it. Hard to believe the two of you are really inseparable.”
“We accept each other for who we are. We don’t try to change each other. Now about your Tiffany problem, you have to decide what you want to do about her.”
“I have no idea what to do about her though. I don’t like her and she doesn’t like me.” I said.
Fred smirked, “Are you sure you don’t like her? Or is it resentment for your mother? Ahh, don’t listen to me; I’m the ginger with a track record the size of your house. I have no idea what I’m talking about.” I laughed and we sat in silence.
After a few minutes Fred shifted uncomfortably and broke the silence, “You know, the other night, on the beach,” He started.
“Yeah?” I think I know where this is going.
“I think I was going to kiss you.” Silence. This is the first time I’ve seen Fred Weasley speechless.
“But you didn’t.” I said, not sure what else to say.
“You’re so confusing Elle. I honestly have no idea how I feel about you. You’re not like other girls.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Ha-ha. I can’t figure you out. I swear, it’s this bet.”
“How is this bet making you’re feelings get all messed up?”
“It’s almost like this bet isn’t changing you, it’s just bringing out a side of you only the girls have seen.”
“To be honest, I’m more comfortable with the girls than when I’m with the guys.” I said avoiding Fred’s eyes. He won’t stop searching my face and it’s making me slightly uncomfortable.
“I have to say, I think I’m liking this new you.”
“I’ll keep that in mind then.”
“But don’t change just because of this bet.” Fred’s voice suddenly became serious.
“What do you mean? This bet is why I’m ‘becoming more comfortable’ with you guys.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, this damn bet has turned into a battle between Oliver and Angelina. We’re pawns in their chess match.” Fred sighed, this is too much drama for me to handle.
“Why does our friend group have to be so messy?”
“Because we wouldn’t be friends if it wasn’t.”
One day. ONE DAY. One day left of this madness. Ever since the Weasley’s left I haven’t spoken to my dad or Tiffany. Thank god I leave for Hogwarts tomorrow. I was lying on my bed when the letter flew onto my lap. Tiffany. Of course she wouldn’t have the guts to bring it up to me and face me, but then again, I wouldn’t be able to either.
I quickly opened it up and read it.
I have soooo much to tell you guys when I get home. America is amazing! Even if it is full of muggles. Very attractive muggles I must say.
The real reason I’m sending you this letter is because Alicia told me about what happened. With your dad I mean. We’re all here for you. So don’t do anything stupid. Just kidding! I know you won’t do anything stupid, but I’m still checking up on you.
I want to tell you that it was tough when my mom got remarried, but in the long run it’s worth it. You just have to keep an open mind. Leesh told me that you’re shutting them both out completely, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. I know you really don’t like Tiffany (trust me, we know) but it sounds like she’s trying to have a relationship with you. Maybe if you don’t want her as your ‘mother’ figure, she can be your friend.
I can see the look on your face right now. But please give her a chance. No one else may see it, but I can see the pain in your eyes. Tiffany only wants to help. I feel for you, and you’ve been different ever since your mom died, we (the girls) can all tell. The only time you’re really yourself is when you’re at home, with us, on the beach.
That’s why I almost agree with this bet, you’re getting yourself back on your feet. Maybe this will take you further, who am I kidding, of course this is going to take you further than you’ve ever gone, but think about the things you did when you’re mother was alive. True we were barely 8, but how many times did we get caught doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing?
Please think about what I’ve said. We all care about you, and we are all getting worried. See you in a week. Well, by the time you get this letter, see you tomorrow, or later today? One or the other.
Give her a chance…
What Katie said really got me thinking. Tiffany is marrying my dad no matter what I have to say about it. She really isn’t as bad as she could be. I mean, she could be my big sister. Kind of.
I guess it’s time to mend things. Damn. I hate when I’m wrong. I hate apologizing.
I stood up and made my way to the basement where Tiffany was.
I have no idea how it happened, but Tiffany and I were sitting on the couch crying and hugging an hour later. I had apologized and so had she. She said that she didn’t know how to treat me, seeing how I’m 16 and all that. I told her that I’m just as confused, but maybe we can work through it together. Well, it all snowballed from there.
I’m now friends with my new step-mom, the girls are going to have a sleepover when we get back to school, and I think I can go through with this bet. Finally, everything is back where it should be.
“ELLE!” I heard someone cry and I felt a hug, thing, attack me from behind. Katie may be small, but she has almost as much power as Oliver does when he’s mad at someone.
“Katie! How are you? Oh wow, you’re so tan! I guess those Americans don’t have fake tans.”
“No, it’s just New Jersey that has the fake tans. But tell me about you! How’s the home life?”
“Thanks to you, I’ve patched everything up with Tiffany. We had a great bonding night last night. Honestly, and if you tell anyone about this I’ll deny it, but I wish I patched things up with her sooner.”
Katie attacked me again and squealed, “I KNEW IT! Ah! Yay, Elle you have no idea how happy that makes me.”
“What makes you so happy?” A voice broke us apart.
“Angelina!” Katie and I cried. We had a group hug when the fourth member of our team broke in, “It’s not a group hug without me, or have I been exiled?”
The four of us stood in a circle and hugged until the train signaled that it was getting ready to leave. We boarded the train and found an empty compartment. “Has anyone seen the males?” Katie asked.
“They’re probably scheming in some compartment about sabotage in this bet.” Angelina said.
“About that, Elle and I have been thinking.” Alicia started.
“That’s never good.” Katie smiled.
“Funny! Anyway, we want to continue our tradition at school. The sleepover one.” I continued for Alicia.
Silence, then, “I love the idea! That sounds great!”
“I can’t wait!”
Just then, the boys walked in and sat down. Oliver and Angelina made eye contact, and then Oliver and Alicia made eye contact.
Fuck, I forgot about that small problem. I guess things weren’t as good as I thought.
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