Chapter 33 : Chapter 32: Kissing the Messenger
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Chapter 32: Kissing the Messenger
"Are you OK James? You look tense," Rose commented idly an hour later. My head was about to explode.
"I'm not tense. I'm just terribly, terribly alert," I replied, fidgeting with my broomstick as I tried to distract myself by polishing it. I haven't told Rose anything about the Amy and Danny fiasco. It's not fair on Sarah.
I don't know what I'm going to do – my ex girlfriend's new boyfriend is cheating on her with my current girlfriend. Nothing screams 'I feel a talk show in my future' quite like that.
"Are you drinking in the morning again? Because I already told you that gin does not count as one of your five a day," Rose replied, shaking her head as she scrawled corrections on my Arithmancy homework.
I forced a laugh, but it felt like my stomach was full of little bugs jumping around. I need to tell someone. Right now.
"Rose, do you remember what we were talking about yesterday?" I asked with the feverish urgency of a drug addict.
"You're going to have to narrow it down…" Rose replied questioningly.
"Danny is cheating on Sarah," I blurted. Rose looked at me in shock.
"I never said that, I just said it was a bit weird that-," she started.
"No, I followed him all day yesterday and he is cheating on her," I said, turning in the sofa to look right at her, curling my legs under me. Rose looked horrified and glanced around the relatively empty room.
"What the- no… who with?" She looked appalled.
I hoped she wouldn't faint like she tends to have started doing since being pregnant. I took a deep breath.
"Amy," I replied, monitoring her. She leaned towards me, her eyes practically popping out of her head.
"Amy Harris…Amy your girlfriend!?" She asked in a hiss. I nodded fervently.
"Fucking hell," Rose replied and I nodded as if to share her shock.
"What am I going to do?" I asked desperately. Rose looked at me with the same horror.
"You have to tell her… You have to… we can't let her get hurt like this again," she replied, apparently forgetting that it was my fault there was an 'again' at the end of that sentence.
"Have you never heard of 'shooting the messenger'?" I replied as if she was mad. She just looked at me.
"James… you followed him on a hunch… it turned out that you were right and now you owe it to Sarah to tell her!" Rose hissed with the sensible nature she was born with. I nodded slowly after a few moments.
She's always right.
I handed Sarah the gift wrapped box carefully. I had spent the last hour making sure everything was perfect; that the black bow on the top of the small white box was perfectly straight and that the Goblin-made solid silver ring with four rubies set into it was shiny and sparkly as could be. She took it, looking at me quizzically and opened the box. She gasped and clapped a hand to her mouth, almost dropping the box. When she had a minute to recover, she snapped the box shut.
"'Forgive me' jewellery?" She said, pushing the box back into my hands and folding her arms.
"James, what have you done?" She asked, horrified. I couldn't lie to her, she could read me like a book and I wasn't ashamed to admit it.
"I haven't done anything," I said, pushing the box back into her hands, "but I saw you looking at this a few months ago and I thought I'd do something nice for you," I said. I knew I couldn't lie, but this was at the very least a half-truth.
"Yeah, I was looking at this, but I was also looking at the price tag. Where on earth did you get 300 Galleons?" She said, cocking her head to the side and frowning.
"It's not important, what's important is-,"
"Not important? Where did you get the money?" Sarah asked in total shock, as if she'd forgotten that since I'm the son of Harry Potter, a lot of people trip over themselves to give me free stuff. It's quite irritating sometimes.
"Look, I've been saving up since you told me you liked it! I've had it on reserve since the second you looked at it!" I said, grabbing her shoulders in earnest. "But the jewellery is to make what I'm about to say a tiny bit more bearable to hear!"
"What could be worth this mu-," Sarah began. I couldn't keep it in any longer.
"He's cheating on you, Sarah," I burst out finally. She stopped talking at once, and her whole body stiffened.
"What?" She hissed.
"I didn't want to be the one to tell you. But I don't think anyone else knows," I said.
It felt like my heart was breaking all over again as she slowly clutched her own chest and put a hand on my shoulder for support. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would all be OK, or that if he made her happy that I was making it all up and that he loved her. But I couldn't.
"What's her name?" She asked numbly.
The usual spark had gone from her legions-deep blue eyes as they met mine, but there were no tears. For a callous, selfish second I wished she was so I had an excuse to hold her, just hold her, tears on my shoulder.
"It's Amy," I said quietly.
"Your Amy?" She gasped and her fist tightened on my shoulder when I nodded, nails digging painfully into my shoulder. I didn't notice that pain though, because the pain of seeing the girl, no – woman – I loved so completely affected in such a way by another man was killing me. She met my eyes again and I looked ever so slightly down at her.
"James…I'm so, so sorry. Did – does she mean a lot to you?" She asked quietly, looking up at me. It was a testament to her that even in this horrible moment, she was still worrying about my feelings.
I shook my head. If only she knew how little Amy meant to me, knew that every little reluctant kiss felt dirty and foul to the lips that pined only for hers, after everything.
"No, she's dead to me, always has been. But I know Danny meant – means a lot to you," I said, trying to swallow my pain.
"Yes. He does," she said simply, looking down again and clutching her chest, her hand had slid down my shoulder and was resting on my forearm.
"I love him," she protested weakly, sounding as though she couldn't believe her own words.
I steadied her with my other arm – she looked like she was about to faint. I wished I could clutch at my heart too, because if it hadn't been broken since the day she finished with me all those months ago I could have sworn it had broken again and bled at her casual words.
"God, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I was the one to tell you this, I'm sorry he couldn't keep his hands to himself," I spluttered genuinely.
But most of all, I was sorry that I was shamefully glad she had been shown that no-one was good enough for her. Not even me, although I was willing to treat her like my own personal goddess again, if only she'd let me…
"Not your fault," she mumbled. Her hand was slipping down my arm…slowly sliding down my wrist…her hand found mine and my heart beat furiously fast, throwing itself against my ribs desperately in a bid to be near hers. I tightened my grip around her soft hand and I led her up to the common room. In silence, it felt like the longest walk of my life, I slowly glanced over at her shell-shocked face as I led her through the portrait-hole. We stopped at the staircase to our dormitories.
"Goodnight Jamie," she mumbled, hugging me tightly. I stroked her hair and we stood there like that for an eternity. After a while I felt rather than heard the tears on my shoulder I knew I would feel eventually…she was a very tough girl – one of the strongest – but she had been caught unawares and wasn't expecting him to do that at all. And suddenly I felt the familiar black rush of inhuman anger which made me feel like I needed to uproot a tree or overturn a lorry. Danny had hurt Sarah and nobody…nobody hurts my girl and gets away with it…
I rolled over one last time and checked Dom's glowing alarm clock from across the room.
2am, and the tears were still falling. Well, falling was maybe the wrong word; they were trickling down my cheeks into my now-damp hair and dampening my pillow too.
How long has it been going on? Stupid girl, why didn't I see it?!
Because you watch James so much that it's a wonder you can see where you're going…
Silent tears fell harder, my stomach clenching in wordless sorrow. James broke my heart too… Danny's infidelity had brought it all back up… James, my doting boyfriend who thought about me and cared for me and loved me, and who changed on me like a chameleon until one day I didn't know who he was.
"It was a test… It was a test to see if you would call my bluff…" He begged me, his words coming back through the almost two years and hitting me in the chest as hard now as they did then. More tears fell.
"Why did you need to test me…? I loved you… I'd always loved you. I did anything for you, I'd have followed anywhere you led… but you pretended you loved me and now the truth shines through…" I had sobbed to James as he sank to his knees with a thud, his hands still clutching mine as if his life depended on it.
"Never… I… I wanted to know why you loved a creature such as me… why you would choose me out of anyone…" He was crying too, and my tears fell as heavily now as they had on that night, and most nights since. Why did he think me to be a goddess, when all I saw were flaws? It doesn't make sense. It never did.
"I can't do this anymore. I can't be with someone who doesn't love me… no matter how much I love you," I gasped through streaming eyes. James visibly trembled.
"No… no… Sar… my Sar-bear… my kitty cat… I never meant to hurt you… I never meant-" He choked out a strangled sob and looked up at me, his beautiful brown eyes brimming with fresh tears. I grasped at my stomach… it felt like he'd kicked me in it… the pain… the pain was unbelievable. I never thought a heart could break a little bit every day… but mine had… and has ever since.
"It's too late, James…" I choked, my eyes blurry with more tears than I thought I could ever cry.
And then I left.
I can count myself a victim of James, but Danny… I knew that was going to end in tears… I mean, I have been stupid, stupid, stupid to think that dating a boy who I simply liked as a person could fill the void left by James. There was a line between us, James and I, that both of us liked getting close to, but neither of us had the guts to actually cross. The kisses he has desperately tried to give me have been all I wanted, secretly, but with our relationships were totally inappropriate. I have some part in this pain this time around – I wanted a man who I loved before, and despite my attempts to get past him, James has held my heart as tightly as ever he did. I loved Danny… he was sweet and gentle and funny… but he would still never be James. And if that were his only crime, I could forgive him. I have hurt him too…
I snapped back to the present moment, staring through eyes still blurry at the clock, which now read 2.30am. I sniffed and looked over at Rose… The girl who'd loved me like a sister since we were eleven… we looked to each other for advice, and other people looked to us for insanity… but now she was pregnant and I was a broken girl. I wished we could snuggle up in bed together and watch a stupid muggle chick-flick and chat about boys… back when she'd blush and shyly say how handsome she thought Scorpius was, and I would giggle and gush about the tall, gorgeous cousin of hers in the year above.
I still wanted James after all this. I still imagined him standing next to me at the altar when I pictured my wedding… And I have the (more than slightly hopeful) feeling he has never properly fallen out of love with me.
Underneath all the hurt… all the tears, something else is bubbling just below the surface… and it won't stay below the surface for long. I'm angry… Danny hurt me deeply… but I'm a big girl and it was never going to last forever, but Amy hurt James… and that means war.
I sat up slowly in bed and wiped the last of my tears. I needed answers about everything. More importantly, I needed a plan.
And thankfully, I knew a night owl who would still be up at half past two.
So I went to him.
"How is she?" Scorpius asked for the fourth time today. He was talking about Rose and watching her in between mouthfuls of his dinner, hoping she wouldn't spot him staring at her from across the hall.
"Scor, it's the fourth time you've asked me today, why don't you go and ask her how she is?" I replied exasperatedly.
Sarah and Dom keep telling me I should find a 'nice girl' and ask her out, but if Scorpius and James are any examples of what men in love are like, then count me out.
I'd only just got rid of Scorpius and taken refuge in the library when the second of the two love-sick men in my charge found me. However, instead of scratching his and Sarah's initials on a desk, he had a real tale to tell.
A tale involving intrigue, scandal and mystery. A tale about how Danny and Amy were secretly together. A tale which ended in my desperate brother practically gripping at my robes and screaming in my face about how he hadn't seen Sarah since last night. And unfortunately, I had a bigger part in it than I thought.
"I haven't seen her since I told her about Danny and Amy, Al!" James cried desperately. I said nothing, and turned away.
"I mean, she can't possibly blame me for this! I just told her about them, I'd be a victim too in all this if I cared about Amy at all!" James continued, not realising me, his brother was shifting his feet uncomfortably.
"Do you think she was with him last night… oh God please don't say she's still with him!" James continued running hands through his ever-untidy hair. "Now I know she would never sleep with him after that, my girl's got a moral code!" He added.
"How long is it since you told her?" I said, finally breaking his silence, but not quite meeting my brother's eye.
"Well, it was last night…" James said uncertainly.
"And when did you last see her?" I continued, now looking at my feet.
"Well she hasn't spoken to me since, God knows I've tried, but when I tried to find her, she disappeared! But I didn't see her at all this morning…she wasn't in the common room or the hall or anything," James said, still looking edgy, hair sticking up at all angles.
"Maybe she's still with him, or maybe she was with Rose and Bec-," he started, but I looked up at him finally.
"James! You didn't see her last night because she was with me!" I blurted out.
James looked at me like he had never seen me before.
"What do you mean, with her?" James said, his voice a dangerous growl, and his big hands balled into fists. I knew exactly where his mind had gone. Mine was sometimes there too, when I'm too tired to censor my thoughts. But every guy has a little crush on his brother's girlfriend… right?
God I'm such a perv... Maybe I do need a girl in my life.
"She just needed someone to talk to about the whole situation. I was that person," I said truthfully. James relaxed, but not completely.
"Does she blame me?" He asked uneasily.
"Nah, bro. She just didn't know what to think. She's taken a serious hit; no-one has ever cheated on her before…she thinks she isn't good enough, Jay," I said anxiously, leaving out the part where she'd cried and I'd held her while she told me exactly what my idiot brother had put her through.
"Don't worry Al. I'll make sure I get that thought right out of her head. I'd honestly have killed that boy if I didn't think she'd be even more upset!" James spat viciously. I nodded. James would kill for her without blinking.
"I know you would've. But she's planning on talking to you today. She wants revenge and she has some sort of plan brewing. I swear sometimes that girl belongs in Slytherin…she's so cunning," I said, half admiring and half fearful.
"Really? I have been thinking too..." James asked, interestedly, rubbing his slightly stubbly chin.
"Yeah, so get out of here, she'll be waiting for you in the common room. And for God's sake, James… have a shave," I added.
My brother smiled.
"Here she is," I thought as she made her way towards me through the midgets (first years) who barely came up to her elbows. I grinned in spite of the situation, and she gave me a proud, cool smile. I knew that smile…it unnerved me and at the same time made me smile wider. It was the smile that told me that she was planning something.
"James," she said. Her chest was puffed out and she was holding her head high, giving me the impression that she was at least three inches taller than she had been the last time I'd really seen her. I loved it when she was proud…it meant there was no messing with her. She was pale though, and I could tell she'd been crying not long ago.
"All right kitten feet?" I asked, trying to take her hand again as we walked out of the portrait hole. She dropped my hand and looked around furtively. My heart sank… would she still not want me even as a shoulder to cry on?
"Not here Jay… Let me tell you my plan first," she said as we hurried along the corridors. We came to a deserted classroom and she pushed me in and closed the door.
"Listen up, Jamie. I have a plan of what to do about our situation. We don't break up with them, either of them. I call it Operation 360: make love not war," she said triumphantly. I looked at her.
"Well what the hell? You can't tell me you're going to forgive the cheating scumbag-" I started furiously but she stepped towards me and put a finger to my lips.
"No. We just give them a taste of their own medicine, that's all," she said, smiling deviously and flashing me her pearly smile. I grinned.
"What does that involve?" I asked, having already agreed to it inside my head.
"Well…" She said, taking a step towards me. We were literally inches apart, and the heat was radiating off her body.
Damn, this girl really does things to me. In fact right now I think she can feel what exactly what she does to me…
And I was blushing.
"Firstly, we find the perfect cheating partner," she breathed, looking at my mouth. I nodded dreamily. Her deep, heady perfume was filing my nostrils, intoxicating my senses.
"I think I have one in mind," I said quickly, gazing into her eyes. She pulled a small box out of her pocket and slipped on the ring I had bought her. She smiled at it and ran her fingers through my hair softly.
"And then, with your chosen partner, if she's willing, you start up a passionate-" She leant in "-physical-" she leant in further, lips an inch from mine "-tender-" She brushed her lips against mine and I automatically reached for her "- love affair-" She hissed against my mouth, before she kissed me passionately, almost roughly. I moaned; she had no idea how long I had dreamt about this…
She broke away after a minute or so, and wiped the lipgloss from my lips, which were parted as I gazed lovingly at her.
"Do you have such a girl in mind?" She whispered, as I twirled a curl of her hair around my finger.
"You know full well I do," I growled before kissing her again, my hands travelling up and down her body furiously fast and tangling in her hair. She moaned and my knees almost buckled under me. She broke away far too quickly for my liking and looked at me.
"I've missed you, James," she sighed, resting her head on my chest. I looked down at her and kissed her head.
"I've missed you too, love. More than you can imagine..." I said quietly. She looked up at me, kissed me once more and pulled away, making for the door. I came up behind her and hugged her from behind.
"Are we going to use each other to get back at them?" I asked. I had to admit I loved the idea of getting one over on Danny by having 'his' girlfriend in my arms.
"We would never use each other. But we can try and go back to the way things were, and if the two of them learn a lesson along the way, it's just collateral damage," she said, arching an eyebrow.
"It does sound tempting, finally having you back, and getting our own back on that bastard Danny," I said with a grin.
"But after we're satisfied with revenge, then what? We go back to being friends?" I tried to sound less like my life depended on the answer.
"Come on James, we both know this isn't a casual fling…there's history here…there are feelings here," she said quietly, pushing her hair behind her ear. "There's love here." She breathed, gesturing between the two of us. I rested my forehead against hers and looked into her eyes.
"So we're together?" I asked. She looked almost uncertain.
"Not quite. I'm your mistress," she said, smirking. "And you're my…mister," she said with a genuine laugh.
"So we're cheating on our unfaithful partners with each other?" I asked. I wanted to be completely clear.
"Exactly. Until we pick a moment where we can publicly humiliate them and take our relationship back out of the 'closet'," she said, still smiling.
"Sounds good," I said, grinning too. "I have one ground rule though," I said suddenly stern.
"What is it?" Sarah asked.
"No sex," I said very quietly.
"Between us?" She asked.
"Between you and Danny," I spat his name jealously and resentfully. She looked at me as if contemplating it but she looked unconvinced.
"What, and none between you and Amy either then?" She said quickly.
"There isn't any anyway," I shrugged truthfully.
"What? Really?" Sarah asked, her eyebrows raised.
"Yeah. I only ever want you, Sarah. Remember that," I said sternly, and looked at her. I was shocked to see tears spring to her eyes.
"You have no idea what it means to me to hear you say that… I thought I would never hear it… I always dreamt of you loving me again," she whispered, blinking rapidly in an effort to hold back her tears.
"I never stopped. So even when you were with him you wanted me?" I asked hopefully, not expecting a reply.
"Well, maybe not then, but I have missed you."
"Didn't think so."
I wasn't angry with her…it would be unreasonable to be angry with her for moving on, but I was angry and hurt that she'd appeared to have done it so quickly and so completely.
"Oh please don't be angry, James. I thought I was going to be all right without you. I was wrong," she said, with a small hint of plea in her voice.
"I'm not angry, but a lot has happened since you finished with me," I said uncomfortably. I hated revisiting that time in my life. There hasn't been a worse time before I hope to God there won't be another chapter in my life like that one.
"I just don't want to be used by you Sarah, I love you," I added, shuffling my feet nervously. It had been so long since I had actually said that to her out loud that I almost felt like crying when she looked at me. I've never shed so many tears over anything but her.
I'm a girl like that.
"James, I never stopped loving you, I just thought I'd stopped being in love with you for a while, which obviously wasn't the case. I never felt about Danny the way I felt – feel – about you. But I need to get my pound of flesh, and Danny and Amy will pay for this," she said dauntingly. I almost took a step back. Her hatred and anger was radiating off her, and I was actually scared.
"Oh yeah? And how are you going to go about that?" I asked, half not wanting to know.
"Well the humiliation heartbreak thing seems like a good plan to me," Sarah said slowly, raising one eyebrow at me as if challenging me. I held up my hands in surrender and drew her into a hug.
"Fine by me, evil girl, why aren't you in Slytherin? And I suppose I know that for this to be convincing the sex thing being off the menu isn't going to work… he would suspect something. As long as it's me you come back to, I suppose I can handle it for a little while longer," I laughed humourlessly, hugging her tightly and trying to show her how much she meant to me at the same time.
"I would never ask it of you. Trust me; now I know where he's putting that thing, I don't want it anywhere near me," she said bitterly into my shoulder, nestling her head under my chin. I knew I was right though – for him to be convinced she would not be free of his touch just yet. I smiled into her hair, not wanting to speak and ruin any moment that she was this close to me.
"James?" She said suddenly. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind; what if she's decided against it and was going to snatch this glimmering beacon of happiness away from me again? I couldn't have that… I wouldn't let her go again. I'd tie her to a chair and make her love me.
"Yeah?" I asked cautiously. She took a deep breath as if preparing for something and my stomach dropped, I felt numb.
"I love you. I've always loved you," she said anxiously looking up at me, eyes darting between mine. I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding and rubbed her arms, my body filled with so much happiness it felt I would burst any second as I looked down at her.
"I think you know how I feel about you by now. But in case you don't; I love you too." I said. And I don't think I've ever said truer words.
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