Chapter 11 : Hearts on Fire
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Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to JKR! I also don't own the rights to the song Hearts on Fire by Passenger. Enjoy!
I managed not to trip over myself on the way back by some divine intervention, and when we got back to the common room it was completely empty, the fire down to mere embers.
“Think they’ve figured out the jinxes yet?” I asked Fred, as James was once again not talking to me.
Fred glanced back at me was we made our way up the stairs. “Knowing Alex, probably.”
He had a faint smile on his face as he said it. I was learning a lot about him these days. I don’t think he cared about himself half as much as he cared for Alex, but as sweet as they were with each other, it was like constantly getting stabbed in the heart.
I’d never once needed a person in my life, not for one single moment. When my mum disappeared on me I was pretty much on my own, and even once she came back, she couldn’t quite remember how to parent. I did things for myself. But all of a sudden, when the threat of losing him came about thanks to Ivan, I realized…I loved James Sirius Potter. And I needed him.
And he hated me 99.9% of the time. I seemed to ruin his life.
With a sigh, we reentered the room to find it much quieter. Louis and Albus weren’t back and I actually held a (brief) moment of pity for the Claws. The room was dark save for a candle by James’ bed –he always seemed to be sharing his bed with other people- and Rose, Alex, and Lily were the only ones remaining.
“Did you figure out the spells?” Fred asked brusquely, suddenly all business. He could flip the switch even faster than James.
Alex glanced up at us as though she hadn’t heard us come in. She probably hadn’t; she had a habit of retreating into her mind. “Oh! Yes. Body bind spell plus a knockback jinx. Arses. We haven’t the faintest idea of how to combine the counter curses though. To be honest, we thought about going to Professor Thomas.”
James, who had been looking out the window, whipped his head around. “No!”
Fred sighed. “He’s right Alex. He was nearly poisoned to death the last time he tried to help. It’s worse for him because even though he’s muggleborn, he fought in the war. To them, he’s just as bad as the Death Eaters.”
“I-I think I can figure this out,” I started, more confident in my abilities now that most of the family had withdrawn to the dungeons for the night.
Rose chewed her lip. “No offense Clara, I know you’re a whiz at Charms, but how do you plan on going about this?”
I chose my words carefully, as James was staring at me like I was a complete lunatic. “Well, we just got this book from the Restricted Section, and I glanced through it on the way back a bit. There’s instructions here for how to, er, rewire a spell so to speak, but you need to be able to do wandless magic…”
“Can you control your magic, do you think?” Fred asked eagerly, grabbing the book from me and examining the page.
I stuffed my hands in the pocket of my sweatpants. “I’m not certain. Every other time it’s happened, I’ve been really angry or upset. But I can try.”
We all looked at Alex to see if it was okay. She sighed as she looked at Hugo’s pale, lifeless body. “I don’t think it could hurt him anymore than he already has been. But if this doesn’t work we will go to Professor Thomas. Or we’ll owl Teddy.”
“Agreed,” Rose stated, and moved over to give me space.
Merlin, I had no clue if I could do this. I looked at the book which Fred set in front of me, and recalled the counter curses. “Adiunge,” I whispered, focusing on a visual of the two spells meeting in midair. “Adiunge simul, adiunge simul,” I chanted.
I felt a little ridiculous chanting in a language I didn’t understand, and even more ridiculous when it didn’t work. I slumped back in defeat.
“It’s okay Clara,” Alex said kindly. “We’ll owl Teddy. I’m sure he could tell us what to do.”
“Wait,” James spoke up. “I have an idea.”
I glanced at him suspiciously. “What?”
Everyone watched him as his face suddenly morphed into one of hatred. “You think you’re special Sullivan? Turner only wanted anything to do with you because he wanted to get to me. And he just used you as his damn concubine. You were the laughingstock of the school, the big slut that all the guys wanted to shag.”
Venom started bubbling in my chest as I thought about all I went through for him. I might act like I was okay but I was scared of my own damn shadow now, jumping every time I rounded a corner. Rose twisted her hands into the sheets anxiously but Fred simply folded his arms across his chest and observed like he was watching the damn telly.
“Your father killed himself? So what? That doesn’t give you the right to act like everyone’s savior. Lots of people lose loved ones. Hell, my father doesn’t have enough appendages to count the amount of people he lost. You stood by for six years watching us all get crushed under the feet of Turner and the like. We’ve been sliced up and sewn our skin back together. Our bones have been shattered and yet we simply took skele-grow and went back to class. Hugo is lying here unconscious and yet I doubt it means anything to you.”
I was seeing red. My fingernails dug into my palms and I struggled to remain in control. I’d never felt fury like this, not when my mother abandoned me, not when I was getting slapped around in foster homes, not even when Ivan was threatening James’ life. I didn’t know how much longer I could sit there, but he was just warming up.
“Do you feel things, Clara, when you see the fear in an eleven year old’s eyes? Did you ever feel anything when you watched students get pushed down a flight of stairs? And how about me? Did you feel anything when I was jumped by all 6 of those bastards and was left lying in a hidden corridor, when I was being slowly poisoned to death?!” His chest was heaving, his amber eyes staring at me with such contempt that I lost it, and a burst of energy came out of my hands.
“Quick Clara, think of the spells!” Alex urged, and I stared at Hugo’s still body as I tried to rope in my anger.
Adiunge simul, I thought, adiunge simul. I visualized purple and green mixing, the two hexes joining together.
A surge of warmth wafted out of my hands and settled over Hugo, seeping slowly into his chest, which suddenly heaved. He gasped for air and shot up, before grabbing his head and falling backwards.
Rose gasped in delight, but Alex was all business. “Hugo, stay down,” she ordered with so much authority that despite my complete and utter exhaustion I recoiled slightly. “You got hit with a pretty nasty jinx and you were out for several hours. You’ve most likely got a minor concussion and some severe bruising on your ribs.”
Fred clapped me on the shoulder and I collapsed against the bed, jostling Hugo. Alex glared at him. “Sorry, but that was damn amazing. You know what Clara? I think James and I should start helping you learn to tame your wandless magic. You’d be able to protect yourself much better.”
My breath was coming out quickly as I tried to recuperate. “Seriously? When do any of us have time for that?”
“We’ll make time,” was his reply, and I sighed, watching Alex attend to Hugo dutifully. She had Rose placing cool cloths on his forehead while she flashed light from the tip of her wand into his eyes and placed a Soothing Salve on his chest before wrapping it with bandages.
When I felt steady on my feet, I wobbled over to the bathroom and splashed my face with cold water. I had taken most of my energy and zapped it right into Rose’s brother, and I was suddenly feeling extremely drowsy.
James stood in the doorway, and his voice was so quiet that I was startled to find him there when I turned around.
“I’m sorry. You know I-”
My eyes narrowed into slits. “No, no. You know what, Potter? Fuck you. I bet you couldn’t wait to get that off your chest. How dare you use that against me? How dare you act like you know what my thoughts are, what emotions I’m feeling? How dare you bring up my father? You can tell me all you want that you were just trying to help Hugo but I know you meant every word you said, and so I reiterate. Fuck. You. Why am I constantly trying to make you give a piss about me? Because you clearly don’t.”
I brushed past him, shoving him into the door frame. “Feel better Hugo,” I tossed out, my voice bitter. It took all my willpower not to slam the door behind me. I stomped down the steps and stomped back up the ones that led to my own dormitory, and allowed myself to slam that door instead.
Bugger it all. James had used me like a damn puppet and thrown out all the shit that I felt worst about. He’d used all my weaknesses against me, like he was goddamned Ivan. James was just like Ivan, and that killed me.
I didn’t go out to the pitch the next morning, and I didn’t know if James showed up or not. The morning after that it was Fred who showed up. He told me that when I was done with quidditch, I was to report to the training facility on the fifth floor. When I told him I had homework to do, he told me Molly and Lucy would take care of it. He won that morning. I was too angry to care.
“How’s your boy doing?” Kevin Daley sneered from behind us as Ivan’s posse strutted into Charms that day, and the whole of the classroom laughed. Stupid, sneering faces. What children. They didn’t know anything.
Scorpius grabbed Rose’s hand to keep her wand from coming out, and I could physically see Fred’s struggle to keep calm. But James stared stonily ahead like he hadn’t heard a thing.
“Hey Daley,” I spoke up suddenly. “You might want to learn a thing or two from the Ravenclaws.”
He smiled slowly, and I could sense Alex’s stare from beside me. “Oh yeah? And why’s that Sullivan?”
“Because you’re going to need another way to protect yourself,” I remarked casually.
At this, Ivan burst into laughter, the whole shebang, with his head tipped back and his hands slapping his thighs. Carl and Ross smirked like I was so amusing. The fury that had been dormant under my skin since last night bubbled to the surface.
Like a bolt of lightning, my hand shot out and the four of them were forced into their seats like they’d been hit with a gust of wind. Sure it left me feeling extremely tired, but it felt good to see the complete shock on everyone’s faces.
Ivan got up to retaliate but Professor Peridon walked in, and he slouched back down irately.
A note materialized on my desk. Soon was all it said, and I laughed to myself as Ivan glowered at me from his seat. Alex saw it and shot me a worried look before leaning over to whisper to Fred.
I ignored them, and focused on the lesson. It was my best subject, and I particularly enjoyed the Atmospheric Charm.
Carl and Ross spat at me as they walked past when the bell rang, but I merely deflected it with my wand and rolled my eyes. Fools.
“Clara, what were you thinking?” Fred burst out as we walked towards the fourth floor.
I quirked a brow. “What you do you mean what was I thinking? Did you want them to just get away with that?” I felt it was a personal victory. When I was angry, I wasn’t scared. And when I wasn’t scared, I felt like my old self.
James scoffed and walked away, not even bothering with me.
“Clara, you just gave them an open invitation to come after you, and all of us really. We’re going to have to be really careful,” Alex said, trying to scold me as gently as possible. She just didn’t have it in her to be cross. “Plus now they know you can do wandless magic.”
I whirled around to face them, my plait flying through the air. “Are we supposed to just take it all the time? Roll over and let them win? Are we really going to let Turner and Daley loose into the real world without them learning their lesson?”
Fred grabbed my elbow and dragged me into a nook in the wall so we wouldn’t become someone’s target practice. “There is no ‘learning their lesson.’ They have no sodding humanity. They can’t be changed. It’s best to not aggravate them and get on with our lives so we can get out of this hellhole.”
I shot him a filthy glare and walked down to the kitchens for lunch. I didn’t feel like getting jinxed while I ate today, and I certainly didn’t feel like sitting with Fred or James. They were wrong! If we didn’t at least try, then we were a part of the problem, right?
Quidditch was unbearable that night. It was now December, and the air was so frigid that when I got hit with the quaffle I felt as though my bones were just going to shatter. I breathed in sharply when I got hit in the back, and I recovered more slowly than usual.
“What’s the matter Sully?” Ross taunted as he flew by me. “Potter’s everlasting love for you running out? Perhaps he got sick of seeing you with your head up Weasley’s arse.”
Carl high-fived him and I flew by them so quickly they lost their balance and had to catch themselves. With a smirk I hurled the quaffle at Ivan, who was too busy laughing to stop it in time. It soared straight through the left hoop and he scowled.
“All right team, practice is over for the night. We’ve got our game against Slytherin coming up right before break, and we all know if we lose it’s because Sullivan’s bloody pets watch us like hawks. So Sullivan gets to put everything away tonight,” Ivan smirked, like he was so clever.
I rolled my eyes, knowing that Albus and Louis didn’t need to have our plays memorized to beat us. Their team wasn’t self-sabotaging. Of course Ivan couldn’t take responsibility for his own idiotic actions.
The boys all whooped and cheered, punching me in the shoulder just hard enough to bruise the tissue as they flew away, tossing their sweaty athletic cups and mouth guards onto the ground. Bloody seriously?
By the time I was ready to go back up to the castle it was pitch black, I could no longer breathe properly due to my badly bruised ribs, and I couldn’t feel the tip of my nose.
“You should really just join our team Sullivan,” Louis said when I reached them, and I looked up at him in surprise. It was the first thing he’d said to me voluntarily.
“Hey at least that way I’d be on a team with more than half a brain,” I said, and he nodded in acknowledgment of my stupid joke.
Albus continued to glower at me and lit his wand, leading us back to the castle in silence.
“Er, if it’s okay, I have to go to Fred and James’ classroom on the fifth floor,” I spoke quietly, and once again Louis nodded, while Albus continued to ignore me.
This was progress though! Maybe I could get other people on my side, one pureblood at a time, to take down Ivan once and for all.
I spent the walk up to the castle amping myself up, ideas of spreading equality and becoming the savior of Hogwarts quickly taking up the space of my mind. I trusted Albus and Louis enough to daydream, and so I allowed my mind to wander.
We needed allies. We needed the others to see that we weren’t dangerous, or evil, or lowlifes. I bet I could convince Meredith Scozzafava. Perhaps Jamie Kelly as well. They’d liked me before everything, not because I was a muggleborn, but because I was a fair quidditch player.
We stopped outside the classroom and I knocked, not knowing exactly how Fred had opened it the previous night.
“Hey, kick James’ arse for me will you? He’s been terribly arrogant lately,” Louis said as he and Albus headed around the corner.
I gave a small laugh as Fred opened the door. “Great, you’re here. We’ve got so much to do,” he said eagerly as he led me into the room.
James was boxing in the corner. Sweat poured down his face as his hands, wrapped in ratty black gloves, pounded against the punching bag. He paused for a moment to wipe the sweat out of his eyes, lifting up his grimy white shirt, and I drunk in the visual of his hardened stomach glistening with sweat for future reference.
Merlin I wanted him so bad. But I was so, so angry with him.
“Oi, James! Quit showing off and get your sorry arse over here so we can start, yeah?”
He rolled his eyes at his cousin and grabbed a towel from a nearby desk, chugging water as he drifted over. I hastily pretended I wasn’t staring and instead looked around the room. Not much was changed, but I noticed that Fred had created a sort of dueling arena in the center. I didn’t like the look of it.
“Fred, what exactly will we be doing?” I lifted my sweaty jersey up ever so slightly so I could begin healing my injuries from practice.
My head was throbbing from exhaustion and I couldn’t quite think of the right spell, the one that not only healed the bruises but got rid of the pain. While Fred explained that I was basically going to just jump right in and attempt to duel with wandless magic, James gently moved my arm away.
“Let me,” he spoke quietly, and stood inches away from me while he whispered the incantation that I had forgotten.
Suddenly I was extremely aware of the fact that I hadn’t showered, and hoped that because of the chill outside that I hadn’t sweated enough to smell badly. Then I remembered that I shouldn’t care.
I tried my hardest to be angry, but as the euphoria of the spell hit me, I involuntarily relaxed against his shoulder. He held me for a moment, before realizing what he was doing and hastily pushed himself back.
“Right, so, who’s going first?” he asked Fred.
Dammit Clara! You couldn’t stay mad at him for more than twelve hours! The second he lifts his shirt a bit and touches you, you forget everything!
I was so furious with myself that I stormed onto the mat without hearing who my opponent was. I wasn’t too surprised when I turned around to see Fred, whose wand was down at his side.
“Okay, so what exactly should I-” a jet of red light hit me in the shoulder and immediately my arm turned numb. “Ouch! Fred! You never said to start!”
In response, he sent another jet of light at me, which I dodged by dropping to the floor. He shot an orange spell at me and I rolled, tired by the time I got to my feet. Perhaps doing this after quidditch wasn’t such a great idea.
“Fight back Clara,” he goaded, shooting jinx after jinx at me. I was hopping from foot to foot like a mad woman, and occasionally I would slip up and get hit. My neck was dripping a weird blue goo.
I tried to summon what little energy I had into my right hand. I raised it and focused on pushing my magic out like a force field. A slight breeze drifted around Fred but he merely smirked and hit me with Rictusempra.
“Is that all you got Sullivan?” he laughed, having way too much fun with this.
I was growing irritated with him and whipped my entire arm, casting him to the side so suddenly that he stumbled into a desk. “Nope.”
I lifted him off the ground, higher and higher and higher. I dropped him and caught him inches from the floor. He was so shaken by this sudden development that I had time to recuperate before I sent a hair growing jinx at him. My next blow sent him to his knees, the breath knocked out of his lungs. Finally, he surrendered, flopping onto his back with his hair down to his ribs.
While Fred righted himself on the side of the mat, I turned to James. “Scared, Potter?”
His amber eyes darkened slightly as he took the bait, stepping into the makeshift arena. He cracked his knuckles, then his neck. He tightened his boxing gloves. He spat on the ground. “You wish.”
And we were going. He jumped to the left, I rolled to the right. He got knocked backwards into the wall, I got various limbs frozen. I was also beginning to be able to use wandless magic on myself, however, and every time James froze my wand arm I simply undid the spell.
Neither of us were winning, and I was leaking blue goop, but this was the most fun I’d had in weeks. Maybe even months. James was grinning, and I was too. The magic seemed to come more easily now, and I had control. There were times when my spells would completely miss, my strength waning, and times when it just didn’t work, but I could quickly get back in the game.
Fred was laughing in delight, egging one of us on, then the other. “Come on Potter, do you really want to write home to your father about how you got beat by a bird?”
A strand of rope shot out of his wand and wrapped itself around my leg, pulling me down to the mat, hard. “Absolutely not.”
I rolled onto my back and used momentum to right myself, doing away with the rope with a lazy swipe of my arm. “Too bad!”
With a final push of my hand, I hit him with Petrificus Totalus and captured his wand, walking over and playfully stepping on his chest with my foot. “I win,” I said tauntingly, holding his wand teasingly over his head.
To my complete and utter surprise, I found myself on the ground next to him, the air leaving my lungs with an ungraceful, “unf!”
“Gotcha,” James smirked, sitting up and looking down at me. It was such a normal moment that I forgot about everything else, laughing loudly and not caring who heard. James himself let out a small smile, and Fred was whooping with delight over what was just accomplished.
That’s when we heard Alex scream.
A/N: Hello all, so sorry for the wait lately! I will try my best to get another chapter into the queue before it closes but I have finals all next week! I promise though that after Christmas updates will be more frequent. Also, by the way, 'adiunge simul' means join together in Latin. Feel free to drop a review!
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