Chapter 14 : I Just Can't Do This
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I'm alive!! Jeez, it's been FOREVER! I am so sorry tohave kept you all waiting, so I'm just going to get right to it, yeah?
DISCLAIMER!!: I'm not creative enough to come up with something original. Proves that I'm not JKR, who is a creative genius and owns everything you recognize.
Chapter 14: I Just Can't Do This
She just couldn’t believe that Jen Brady—perfect, wonderful, spectacular Jen Brady—had almost offed her. Sure, offing Dorothy hadn’t been the intent behind that Bludger, but it’d nearly been the result. She couldn’t wrap her mind around the fact that she’d almost died. Dorothy had always thought she’d have some moment of clarity while she pushed the edge of death; that her life would flash before her eyes and suddenly everything would make sense and everything would be explained, a small gift to repay for threatening to steal her life.
But she’d had none of that. She didn’t even remember the match.
It was early in the morning; the sun was just barely beginning to peek into the wing through the long, thin windows. After she’d woken up, Madame Whittle had checked how her ribs had set and scanned for internal bleeding. The bruising around her spinal cord and the swelling in her brain had both decreased, while her bones seemed to be good as new. However, Dorothy was still in an incredible amount of pain, and would be stuck with a long scar up the side of her body. They all said she was lucky to be alive.
The door to Madame Whittle’s office opened, and Dorothy could see the relief on her father’s face. A pang of guilt struck her heart. She couldn’t imagine what it must’ve been like to watch her get so hurt.
“How’re you feeling, Thee?” he asked, tucking a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. “Freddie in the bathroom?”
“No, I sent him to Gryffindor Tower. He needs to get some rest in a proper bed rather than being all slumped over beside me,” Dorothy said. “He needed a shower as well,” she added. “But I’m feeling alright, as long as I don’t move too much.”
“It’s almost time to give you another pain potion,” Madame Whittle chirped in her high-pitched and squeaky voice.
“Can we, uh,” Neville began, looking at Madame Whittle. “Could we have a moment?”
“Oh!” Madame Whittle exclaimed, bouncing slightly. She giggled. “Of course, Professor.”
Madame Whittle bopped back to her office and Neville sat down in Freddie’s chair. “How are you really feeling, Thee?”
“I’m tired of laying down, but it hurts too much to sit up.” Neville looked at his daughter, his gaze serious and unwavering. Dorothy sighed, knowing he could see the internal turmoil all over her face. “I’m confused. I don’t understand why she would risk everything to target me. I apologized. I let her dump orange juice on my head. I’ve kept a low profile. Why can’t she try to move on, too?”
The doors to the Hospital Wing were thrown open, causing both Neville and Dorothy to jump. Running to Dorothy’s bedside was none other than Hannah Longbottom, the dark bags under her eyes a clear sign of how little sleep she’d been getting. “Oh, Merlin, you’re awake!” she exclaimed, wrapping her arms tightly around her daughter. “I should’ve been here!” She released her child, stroking Dorothy’s face lovingly and tucking wild strands of blonde hair behind her ears. “Ruddy pub,” she muttered darkly.
“Hello, mum,” Dorothy said softly. “Freddie was here, don’t worry.”
Hannah’s splotchy red face broke into a weepy smile. “Oh, I love that boy,” she murmured. “He’s so thoughtful.”
Neville summoned another chair and placed it next to his own, ushering his wife into the seat. “Madame Whittle says the only permanent damage will be a scar down her side from where she made contact with the hoop,” he explained.
Hannah nodded, squeezing her daughter’s hand. “That Jennifer Brady should be expelled. Putting another student in life-threatening danger; bloody insane, she must be,” Hannah growled.
Dorothy didn’t say anything, tuning her parents out as they began discussing the situation in hushed tones. Dorothy allowed her head to turn against the pillows so she wasn’t even looking at them anymore; rather, she was studying the assortment of gifts that had been left on her right-hand bedside table.
Flowers bloomed in a vase by the lantern, nearly hidden by a large stuffed animal that had a basket loaded with goodies wrapped up in its arms. A few cards were open and standing while the majority rested in a large pile on the corner of the table, threatening to topple to the floor at any second.
Dorothy took in a deep breath and sighed, her heart pounding slowly in her chest. Her swirling thoughts were making her head pound, and she wished that she hadn’t sent Freddie away to take a nap. There was so much she didn’t understand, so much she wished would just go away. She wanted to go back to sleep, but she felt as though that wasn’t fair; she’d been sleeping for a week.
The doors to the Hospital Wing opened again, followed by loud and heavy footfalls. “Dora!” Hope cried excitedly. Dorothy turned her head back towards the door to see Hope and Fiona skidding to a stop at the end of her bed. “You’re awake! Freddie told us, we came as soon as we could.”
Dorothy felt a smile break over her face. Her eyes welled up with tears that she rapidly tried to blink away, and she said, “Oh, it’s nice to see you.”
Fiona snorted. “Well, I’m glad it’s nice to see us, Longbottom; it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” Even through the teasing, Dorothy could see the concern ebbing away in Fiona’s eyes.
“Oh, hello, Professor!” Hope said quickly. “And you must be Mrs. Longbottom, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Hope stuck out her hand towards Hannah, who shook it warmly. “I’m Hope, Hope Jacobs, and this is Fiona Little. We’re Dorothy’s best friends.”
“Besides Freddie, that is,” Fiona said with a small laugh. “We’re in Hufflepuff as well, both on the Quidditch team.”
“Ah,” Hannah said, looking at Dorothy with a smile. “Finally have friends in your own house?”
Dorothy blushed violently, which caused Fiona to snort with laughter. “Yes,” she said quietly.
Hope and Fiona pulled up chairs on the side of Dorothy’s bed not occupied by her parents and sat down. The group chatted amicably, but Dorothy couldn’t help tossing glances at the large wooden doors, waiting for James. Freddie had stayed by her side throughout the entirety of her ordeal, Hope and Fiona had come whenever possible, and even her parents had come whenever possible. Sure, she and James weren’t on the best of terms and he and Freddie were on even worse, but she thought that she and James were friends.
She sighed, trying to blink away the tears forming in her eyes.
“Oh, baby,” Hannah said, having heard her sigh. “Are you tired?” Dorothy turned her head to her mother, who saw the tears. “Oh, you must be in pain! I’ll go get Madam Whittle so she can get you another potion and we can all let you sleep.”
Dorothy just nodded. She was in pain. Not all of it physical, but it all hurt as if it were.
Dorothy was sitting up in her hospital bed, flipping through the cards that had been left on her side table. There had been cards from almost every member of Hufflepuff, the Herbology club, the Dueling club, most of her professors, one with a seventeen and three-quarter page letter from Felicity Burrow about how she felt responsible and was going to resign from Quidditch, which Dorothy strongly disagreed with, and from every member of the Potter-Weasley clan.
“Finally looking through all that fan mail?” Freddie teased as he returned to his seat beside her bed with a plate of food. “Stopped at the Great Hall, figured you’d be hungry by now.”
Dorothy nodded quickly and took the plate from him, tearing into a chicken leg and cornbread. “Lily’s card sings,” she told him through a mouth full of food.
Freddie nodded and picked up a few from Dorothy’s lap. “She’s obsessed with singing cards, ever since Uncle Harry took her to Muggle London and they went in some shop where they sold them. She and Granddad can’t get enough of them.”
Dorothy snickered. “Oh, you missed one,” Freddie said, reaching down beneath her bed and pulling out a simple green envelope. Dorothy’s eyes widened, her heart swelling with hope.
“I’ll, uh,” she began, placing the sealed envelope on her side table. “I’ll open it later. I’m starving. I’ve been waiting for you to break into this basket.”
“Ooh, Nana sent that,” Freddie cooed excitedly, reaching over Dorothy’s body to pull the basket between them.
Dorothy grinned, trying to pull her distracted thoughts back from the card sitting on her side table. “Oh, good, I was hoping it was from her. Unwrap it, would you? I’m currently finishing my dinner so I can eat dessert.”
Dorothy looked around the Hospital Wing, her eyes lingering on Freddie’s sleeping body beside her. She was required to spend one more night in the Hospital before she could return to Hufflepuff and her lessons, and Freddie had once again refused to leave her side.
She’d slept for a week. Her body was done sleeping. She hated the fact that she was laying down, it made her feel more incapacitated than she already was. Her head turned to her side table, and her eyes landed immediately on the unopened card Freddie had found earlier. Her heart rate picked up again as her breath caught in her throat.
Quietly, she turned back to Freddie, attempting to decide if he was truly asleep or not. He was leaning forward onto the bed, a drop of drool threatening to drip from the corner of his mouth onto her mattress. He choked slightly on a snore, shifted slightly, and then was motionless again.
Turning back to her bed side table, she reached out and picked up the green envelope with increased caution. Her heart was pounding so hard, she was afraid it would wake Freddie. Still, she slid her finger beneath the sealed parchment and opened the envelope. Carefully, she removed a sturdy card from the envelope. On the front was the moving image of a red rose petal floating to the ground and grow into a beautiful long-stemmed rose. She opened the card and read the familiar scrawled writing on the inside:
She loves me. She loves me not. She loves me?
A single red rose petal was lying inside the card and Dorothy picked it up between two long fingers. It was smooth and soft. She set it inside the center of her palm, admiring the deep crimson against her pale skin when the petal began to transform. Glowing gold, the petal slowly grew into the most beautiful long-stemmed red rose she had ever seen.
Dorothy’s breath was caught in her throat. She didn’t know what to think. What game was James playing?
Nevertheless, she brought the fresh bloomed flower up to her nose and took a deep breath, allowing her eyes to slip closed. Rather than feeling calm and happy, Dorothy felt emotion bubbling up in her chest, threatening to spill out in the form of tears. Breath was hard to claim, and she set the rose on the side table with the card, wanting to forget about it.
Not even twenty seconds passed before she placed the rose in the vase with the other flowers and she placed the card beneath her pillow.
“I have Madam Whittle’s orders, don’t tempt me to break them,” Hope said as Dorothy walked out onto the pitch.
Dorothy looked at her, eyes wide. “What?”
“Longbottom, you got out of the Hospital Wing this morning,” Fiona said.
“No flying for at least three weeks,” Jesse reminded her.
Greg smiled at her. “It’s nice to see you, Thee.”
Dorothy smiled at him. “It’s nice to see you, too, Greg.” She looked at her other team mates and shot them a look. “It’s nice to see you guys.”
Kyle grinned. “You look pretty good for being turned into the Quaffle a week ago.”
Fiona growled. “25, Reed. Your arms are wimpy and your lip is irritating.”
Kyle groaned audibly and Fiona cocked her thin right eyebrow threateningly. His eyes widened and he quickly dropped to the grass, performing his punishment meticulously.
“I’m not here to fly,” Dorothy said. “Freddie already confiscated my broom anyway,” she mumbled bitterly.
Kyle heard and snorted, a noise that was cut off sharply as Fiona snapped, “Add ten.”
“The why are you here?” Marcus asked, ignoring the abuse Fiona was inflicting on Kyle.
Hesitantly, Dorothy lifted the leather bound book in her hand. “Well,” she began. “I figured that even though I can’t fly, I could still be helpful towards the team. I haven’t taken notes objectively in a while, but,” her voice stopped as she shrugged her shoulders, calculating her next statement. “I don’t really know. I thought it’d be more helpful than sitting inside the castle.”
Hope grinned. “Take a seat, Dora. Wherever you think you’ll get the best view.”
Dorothy had been only been out of the Hospital Wing for two days before the owls started arriving.
Every morning with the post, an owl would fly over to her, drop an envelope, and leave. Sometimes, it would be carrying a dark, long-stemmed rose with it. Sometimes it was just the letter. Once, there were chocolates.
“You don’t even like roses,” Freddie grumbled one day as Dorothy’s daily letter fell onto her breakfast plate with a red rose attached to it. “Over a week now, sending you roses. Everyone knows you like sunflowers the best. Bloody wanker.”
Dorothy sighed and tucked the letter and flower into her satchel. “I’m going to talk to him about it,” she said.
Freddie’s attention snapped to Dorothy. “But you said you didn’t have feelings for him anymore.”
“I don’t,” she said. Freddie visibly relaxed. “I’m going to tell him to stop with the owls. I’m not getting involved with him again. I know I’ll just end up hurt in the end.”
Freddie nodded. “Good.” He shoved a large part of his pancake in his mouth, then said, “You want me to go with you?” as syrupy crumbles flew out of his overstuffed cheeks.
Dorothy snorted. “No, I’ll be fine.” Dorothy looked over at the doors to the Great Hall. “Wonder if Hope and Fiona are out of bed yet.”
“It’s Saturday,” Freddie said, taking a gulp of orange juice. “Fiona doesn’t move until at least ten, and you’re lucky if Hope moves before noon.”
Dorothy chuckled. “You’re right. I think I’m going to go find James now, you know…get it over with?”
Freddie tensed. “Alright.” He took a calming breath. “You sure you don’t want me to come with you?”
Dorothy smiled fondly. “Positive. I’ll catch you later?”
Freddie nodded, stretching his arms over his head. “Course. Probably going to go lay in your four poster until you’re done with James. I’m bloody exhausted, and yours is so much more comfortable than mine.”
Dorothy laughed, rolling her eyes at Freddie’s wink. “Whatever you say, weirdo. Just don’t fart while you’re in there.”
“Your bed loves my farts.”
“You’ve obviously taken one too many Bludgers to the head.”
Dorothy finally found James out in one of the courtyards, lazily charming a leaf to dance around in the air with his wand. Dorothy felt her heart pick up speed as she watched him lounging on a stone bench, looking as though he had no bothers in the world. Taking a deep breath, she managed to muster a quiet, “James?”
James looked up, allowing his leaf to fall to the cobblestones in his distraction. A large grin spread across his face as he sat up. “Hello, Dorothy.”
“Hi,” she said awkwardly, not stepping towards him. “I, uh, I need to talk to you.” Her hands began nervously toying with ends of her sweater sleeves, pulling on the warm wool knots.
“I’m all ears,” he said, sliding over so there was enough room for her to sit beside him on the bench. “Come sit with me.”
“No, I’m alright,” she said quickly, feeling her face begin to heat up.
James laughed at her obvious discomfort. “Come on, Dorothy, we’re friends, aren’t we? Why are you so nervous?”
“I don’t like roses,” she blurted out quickly.
James’s playful face morphed into one of confusion. “What?”
“You,” she began, trying to organize her thoughts in her brain. “You keep sending me roses. And love letters.”
“But you don’t like roses?”
“That’s not the point,” she said.
James nodded. “Okay,” he said slowly. “Then what is the point?”
“Why are you sending them to me?” Dorothy asked.
James smiled. “Haven’t you been reading the letters? I like you, Dorothy. A lot. I can’t stop thinking about you and your nervous habits and that adorable blush.”
“But,” she said, not understanding. “But at the end of the summer, you loved Jen. I was just a second choice.”
James stood and walked over to Dorothy. “The day picked Jen over you was the day I was the dumbest I have ever been in my life. And I’ve done some pretty stupid things.”
Dorothy was finding it hard to breathe. “What?”
“I was too stupid to realize then that I fell for you. I convinced myself that my heart was still with Jen when you’d stolen it long before. Even when I was with her, I wanted to be with you. She just couldn’t compare.”
“But,” Dorothy started, but James cut her off.
“I know I’ve royally fucked up everything when it comes to you and I. But I can’t give up on this…on us.”
“I won’t let myself get hurt again,” Dorothy said as James closed the distance between them. “I always end up hurt when it comes to you.”
“I won’t let that happen,” he said gently.
“There’s no guarantee,” she responded weakly.
“You’re wrong,” he said, cupping her cheek in his hand. “Merlin, woman, can’t you see what you do to me?”
“This,” she breathed, her eyes squeezed tightly shut. “This can’t happen. Us. You and I should go back to being friends. Stop sending me letters and gifts. I—I can’t.”
James chuckled throatily, leaning forward so his lips ghosted over hers. “That’s what you don’t understand, Dorothy. I can’t give up on love.” He paused as Dorothy’s wide blue eyes searched his face for answers. “I’m in love with you, Dorothy.”
“What are you doing?” she whimpered.
James smiled. “I’m wooing you, Dorothy Longbottom. Just give me a couple more weeks.” He pushed forward and laid his lips firmly on hers. “Soon, you’ll be in love, too. Because there’s unfinished business here, Dorothy. And I can’t wait to figure out what that is.”
James backed up a few steps from Dorothy, watching as she swayed slightly. He smiled sweetly at her, turned, and headed back into the castle. Dorothy watched him go, stumbling backwards until the backs of her knees hit the chilled stone of a bench behind her. She slowly sank onto the bench, her thin fingers brushing over her lips. She could still feel his kiss.
“Too late,” she muttered as her heart sank in her chest.
Boom! There it is! What are you thinking? Do you think Dorothy's still in love with James? What about Freddie? What do you think of James's big confession? Tell me everything you loved, hated, and can't wait to find out about in the reviews! This is a growing novel, it needs food!!
Peace, Love, and Potter,
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