Chapter 21 : I Just Can't Watch It
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Chapter 21: I Just Can't Watch It
Dorothy woke up to the pain of a limb jabbing her in the back. She lifted her head slowly and peered behind her. At some point during the night, Lucy had managed to curl up beneath her. And now her elbow was stabbing Dorothy through the ribs.
Rolling her eyes, she turned her head back to the chest she was calling a pillow, smiling at James’s peaceful expression. She and James were actually going to make a go of it. She couldn’t believe it.
Lucy rolled over, and Dorothy yelped in pain. James’s eyes fluttered open. “Dorothy?” he asked groggily. “You alright?”
“Lucy is trying to cuddle,” she responded. “Painfully.”
James chuckled lightly to himself. “Oh.” His eyes slipped closed as he attempted to return to sleep. Dorothy frowned and violently prodded him with her finger. “Merlin, Dorothy, what?”
“Come for a walk with me.”
“No,” James said with a yawn. “It’s bloody freezing.”
“It’s called a warming charm,” Dorothy said, frowning. “Please?”
James sighed. “Fine.”
Dorothy grinned and scrambled off of him, rising to her feet quickly. She held her hand out to him and yanked him upwards, giggling as he stumbled forward slightly. “Come on,” Dorothy said, pulling him forward towards the door.
Neither noticed Freddie’s gaze on them in the dark.
Once they were outside, Dorothy cast a warming charm over the both of them and then laced her fingers through James’s. He looked over at her through tired eyes and smiled. They didn’t speak, just merely strolled through the grounds behind the Burrow. After a while, they settled down by the pond, staring at the moonlight reflecting off the ice.
“We’re really doing this, aren’t we?” Dorothy asked, trying to restrain the large smile sliding onto her face.
James looked over at her, a grin of his own pulling across his boyishly handsome features. “Yeah, we are.”
Dorothy let out a sigh of contentment and settled herself against James’s side. “Good.”
James wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Yeah, it is good, isn’t it?”
Dorothy made her way down the bustling street of Diagon Alley, humming softly to herself. She had two hours before her shift at the pub started and her home buzzed with a familiar ‘almost-back-to-school’ energy. The main drag of shops had been lying low for too long in her opinion; Diagon Alley just wasn’t the same when it wasn’t packed with excitement.
Without even realizing it, Dorothy had ended up in front of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, the shop that had become her second home growing up. She hadn’t been in for a while, Fred and his family had been off on a family trip in the mountains ever since the Christmas party. James had come around a few times to see her or take her out for an afternoon stroll or a meal, but Dorothy missed her best mate. And today, he was finally back.
She entered the shop with a smile on her face, laughing as young children ran past her, screaming. She weaved in and out of the crowds, searching for his smiling face.
“Hey, you,” a voice said from behind her.
Dorothy turned and smiled. “Oh, hello, James,” she said, allowing him to kiss her. “Have you seen Freddie?”
“Bored of me already?” he joked, laughing as she began to shake her head, a blush rising on her cheeks. “Only joshing, love. I know you miss Fred. He’s up in the office today; Uncle George says that if Freddie wants to run this place someday, he’s got to start doing the paperwork. Honestly, Uncle George just doesn’t want to do it.”
Dorothy laughed. “Figures. Trying to extend his vacation by abusing the ambition of his son.”
James nodded. “I figure you’ll try and steal Freddo for lunch?”
Dorothy grinned. “Probably.”
“Alright,” James said, laughing. “How about I steal you for dinner?”
“I can’t,” Dorothy said, frowning. “I have to close.”
“I can eat late,” James said, pressing his lips into the side of her neck.
“Okay,” Dorothy said, a small smile pulling at her lips. “I’m going to go find Fred now,” she said, pushing him away.
James wrapped his arms around her waist and covered her mouth with his own. “Five minutes,” he murmured.
Dorothy laughed. “No, later,” she protested.
James pouted. “Fine. I have the meanest girlfriend in the whole world.”
Dorothy pecked his lips chastely and nodded. “Yes, you do.”
She removed herself from his embrace and walked away from him, a silly grin dancing across her lips. She couldn’t remember the last time she had been this happy. She reached the back stairs and climbed them two at a time, anxious to spend time with her best mate. She jogged along the corridor, not even bothering to knock as she entered the office to find Freddie buried at the desk by mounds of paperwork. “Holy Mother of Merlin,” she gasped.
Fred looked up in surprise when he heard her voice, but didn’t smile. “Dor…when did you get here?”
“About five minutes ago. James told me that Uncle George put you on paperwork duty,” she said. “I was hoping you’d want to get lunch. I want to hear all about your trip—”
“I’m not hungry,” he said shortly, once again focusing his attention on the parchment in front of him.
Dorothy’s words faltered and she stared at Freddie, feeling horrendously uncomfortable. “Is…is everything alright?”
“Peachy,” he responded, not looking up. “I’m busy, Dor.”
“You’re doing paperwork…you hate that. I thought you might want a break—”
“Well, you thought wrong,” he said, his voice full of exasperation. “Paperwork is part of the job, if I’m going to take over someday, I’d better get used to doing it.”
“You said you weren’t angry with me,” Dorothy said, her voice shaky from confusion and hurt. “Why are you angry with me?”
“I’m not angry with you, Dor,” Freddie said as he rubbed his temple.
“James, then?” she pressed.
“No,” he implored. “I’m…” his voice faltered as he looked at her, and he sighed. “I’m just tired, Dor. I’ve got to finish all this shit, and I haven’t been sleeping well. Rain check?”
Biting her lip, Dorothy nodded. “I’ll…I’ll talk to you later?”
Freddie nodded and then picked up his quill again. Dorothy opened her mouth to speak, but thought better of it. She turned and left the room silently. Freddie looked up again when the door closed, knowing in his mind he only had one option.
Cursing under his breath, he refocused on his tedious task.
“Rox!” Dorothy called, pushing her way through students at the train platform. During the week since Dorothy had gone to Wheezes to seek out Freddie to now, she hadn’t seen or heard from him once. “Roxy!” The girl didn’t turn as she laughed loudly in a circle of her friends. “Roxanne!” Dorothy shouted.
Roxanne looked up and waved at Dorothy. “Hello, Thee!”
“Where the ruddy hell is your brother?”
Roxanne blinked once in surprise. “Hello, Rox. How’re you. Fine, Thee, thanks for asking.”
Dorothy shot her an apologetic look. “Rox, please.”
Roxanne sighed. “He got straight on the train. Hardly said goodbye to mum before he left.”
Dorothy hugged her briefly before taking off towards the front most train car. “Thanks, Rox, you’re the best.”
“Don’t I know it!” Roxanne called after Dorothy’s retreating figure.
Dorothy hopped onto the train, her determination being pushed by her frustration. Luckily, Freddie wasn’t too hard to find.
Dorothy opened the compartment door and stepped inside, slamming it shut behind her. Freddie rose to his feet, and opened his mouth to speak, but Dorothy cut him off. “Don’t even think about it.” Freddie’s mouth closed obediently. “Are you ready to discuss why you’ve been acting like a twit?”
Freddie’s eyes hit the floor, looking everywhere but his best mate. Dorothy crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him. “I’m pulling away from you.”
“Yeah, I bloody noticed, you dumb lard,” she snapped. “What the hell for?”
“To make it easier,” he said, his eyes suddenly meeting hers. “You think I want to? That I don’t want to be around you?”
“What are you going on about, Fred?”
“It’s too hard!” Freddie shouted. “I can’t…I can’t see you with him. I can’t…stand by and watch you and James be together and happy…”
“You said you were okay—”
“Well, I’m not okay!” Freddie exclaimed. “I can’t do it, Dor. I just can’t.”
Dorothy’s eyes bored into him, and the train whistle blew. The ground jerked as the train began moving. “Can’t do what,” she asked.
“Any of it. All of it,” he said, slumping down into a seat. “Either one works.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Dorothy asked.
Freddie sighed deeply, allowing the silence between them to settle for a moment before he spoke. “It means that eventually you’ll have to make a choice.”
Dorothy blinked in surprise. “Between you and James? You…you would ask me to choose?”
“Never,” Freddie said. “But I won’t need to ask. So to save you from that,” he paused here, his voice thick with emotion, “I’m choosing for you.”
“Wait, what?” Dorothy asked, her voice small. Her anger with him was seemingly forgotten as she sat down across from him. “What are you saying?”
Freddie swallowed thickly, unable to look at her. “What I’m saying is that I can’t be your friend while you date James. I refuse to watch it happen again. I can’t play along and pretend to be happy that you’ve set yourself up for heartbreak. That will strain your relationship, and I don’t want that, because even though I hate that you and James are together, I want you to be happy. So I’m walking away.”
Dorothy felt her eyes well up with tears. “So as long as I’m dating James, you won’t be my friend?” she asked. “You’re my best friend, and you’re making me choose between you and James—”
“I’m not making you choose,” he said, standing. “The choice has already been made.”
“No,” Dorothy said, rising to her feet and grabbing his hand. “No, you can’t. We’re best mates, no matter what, remember? You can’t just walk out of my life!”
Freddie pulled his hand out of hers. “I have to.” As he slid open the compartment door, the dam holding back her tears broke, and she was suddenly sobbing.
“I choose you, Freddie!” she cried. “Please—”
“But you don’t,” he choked out. “You’re in love with James. I’m just your best mate.”
“I need you!”
He turned to look at her, cupping her cheek slowly. Dorothy grabbed his hand with both of hers, holding him to her. “But you don’t. You’re strong, Dor. You’ll be alright.”
“Fred,” she sobbed. He pulled his hand from her grasp and turned back around, walking away from her.
“I hate you!” she screeched. His footsteps ceased. “I hate you, you selfish prat!”
Without turning back to her, he merely replied, “It’s better this way.” He started walking again, quickly reaching the end of the car and entering the next.
Dorothy fell to her knees, her shoulders shaking with the force of her sobs. “I hate you,” she moaned, wrapping her arms around herself. “Please stay.”
Fiona reluctantly knocked on the glass compartment door, watching as Hope looked up from what Fiona hoped was homework but knew was probably Quidditch plays and scowled. Taking a deep breath, Fiona opened the door. “Look,” she said, stepping inside the compartment. “I know you’re not talking to me right now, but Longbottom’s missing. Potter’s worried.” Hope stared blankly back at Fiona. “That was me asking if you would help look for her,” Fiona said agitatedly.
“The train left almost an hour ago, and no one’s seen Dora?” Hope asked disbelieving.
Fiona nodded. “That’s the story I got.”
“Little, is Jacobs going to help us?” James shouted down the corridor.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Potter, she’s coming!” Fiona yelled back. She looked to Hope. “You are coming, right? I can’t handle him by myself for another second or I may just kill him.”
“Not for your benefit,” Hope said sharply as she stood to leave. “But to make sure Dora’s alright.”
Fiona nodded, allowing Hope to lead the way out of the compartment. “Wouldn’t expect anything else.”
“What’s going on, James?” Hope asked. Fiona sighed and let the compartment door fall shut, trailing behind her best friend.
“Rox said that Dorothy went to find Freddie before the train left, but Fred kicked a group of Slytherins out of a compartment ages ago so he could work on designs,” James said. “No one’s seen Dorothy.”
“Where have you already looked?” Hope asked.
“Al, Lily, Rox, and Hugo took the front half of the train,” James said. “You haven’t seen her?”
“I would’ve mentioned it if I had,” Hope replied. “Come on, let’s start at the back end—”
“We’ve already been through cars up to here,” Fiona said quickly. “I saw you…Potter thought you’d want to help.”
Hope stared at Fiona for a moment. “Let’s go then.”
“We’re almost to the front of the train,” Hugo said as the four entered a new car. He hastily blew at the bushy ginger locks that had fallen in his eyes as he looked to Lily for answers.
“She’s got to be on here somewhere!” Lily said, nervousness evident in her voice.
“Yeah, I watched her get on!” Roxanne said, repeating what had become a mantra for the past twenty minutes. “She asked where Freddie was—”
“You said the train, she got on,” Albus snapped. “We get it, Rox; we got it the first time.”
No one said anything for a moment. The silence was broken by Lily. “We’re all worried about her, Al.”
“I’m not worried,” Al said shortly, peering inside a compartment.
“What?” Roxanne asked.
“I’m not worried,” Albus repeated. “The three of you are driving me fucking crazy! You won’t shut up! I know exactly what happened, we just need to find her so I can hex the bloody hell out of my ignorant older brother.”
“What does James have to do with any of this?” Lily demanded.
“Hm, I dunno, just the fact that he stole Freddie’s true love?” Albus shot back. “I warned him. I told him not to mess with Thee, that it would ruin everything. Look who has to clean up his mess, again.”
“Not everything is ruined,” Hugo said, grabbing Albus’s arm and forcing him to stop.
“Oh, really, Hugh?” Albus asked, his hair messier than usual due to his stress. “What hasn’t been ruined?”
Hugo patted the wild mass of red curls on his head. “Thee and James are happy together.”
“I don’t care if they’re happy!” Albus hissed.
“ALBUS!” Lily shouted. “Why are you being such a git?”
“You’re usually the chilliest person in the family,” Roxanne reminded him.
“There are certain things you don’t mess with,” Albus said.
“Like what?” Lily demanded.
“You’re too young to understa—”
“I am one year younger than you, Lily and Hugo are fourth years, don’t even think about it, Potter,” Roxanne growled.
Albus sighed. “You don’t mess with destiny. Thee and Freddie are supposed to be together. They always have been. James is fucking it all up for his own selfish gain.”
“Well, then who’s James’s destiny?” Lily asked, cocking an eyebrow suspiciously.
Albus glared at his younger sister. “I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said, whirling back around and storming through the rest of the car.
“You are so thick headed, Albus!” Lily cried after him as he slammed the door shut between the final two cars.
Immediately as Albus entered the final car of the train, he laid eyes on Dorothy. “Thee?” he said, running down the corridor towards her. She was sitting on the ground outside of a compartment in the middle of the car with her knees to her chest. Her face was buried in them. Albus stopped in front of her, his previous anger melting away into concern. She had no idea about destiny or anything like that. She was blind. How could he be angry with her? “Thee?” he repeated.
She didn’t respond. Albus slid down the wall beside her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She let out a harsh, choking sob as she leaned into him. Surprised, Albus tightened his grip around her. “Shh, it’s okay, Thee. Let it out.”
The door to the car opened again as Lily, Roxanne, and Hugo entered the car. Albus turned to them and said, “Go get the others.”
Nodding, the three took off running down the train.
“So, how was the rest of your break, James?” Hope asked as they entered a new train car.
James looked at her curiously. “Fine,” he said curtly.
Hope ran a hand through her loose red locks. “That’s good. Do anything fun?”
“Is this really the time for small talk, Jacobs?” James asked, agitation hardening his tone.
Hope let out a small laugh. “Well, it’s better than you brooding as you try to rip compartment doors from the walls,” Hope said, laying her hand on James’s as he went to open another door. “Relax, a little. We know she’s on the train. We’ll come across her eventually.”
James stared at Hope for a moment, allowing his grip on the handle to slacken under her touch. “I—”
“Breathe, James.” Taking a breath, he released the handle. Hope smiled at him. “Now, tell me about your break. Did you spend a lot of time with Dora?”
He nodded, walking down the corridor with her. “Yeah, I did. It was nice.”
“What’d the two of you do?”
James allowed a small smile to pull at his lips. “Well, one day we just strolled around Diagon Alley. Talking, hanging out, snogging in the alleys between buildings,” Hope laughed at this, and James chuckled along with her. “We went ice skating on the pond at the Burrow—”
“The pond out there freezes through enough to skate on it?” Hope asked, genuinely interested.
“Sometimes it needs a little help, but yeah,” James replied. “It’s really nice, I’ve been skating out there since I was a kid—”
“Are you two…friends?” Fiona asked abruptly. James and Hope stopped and turned to look at her. She had been trailing a few feet behind them. “Well, are you?”
“We’re actually in a secret relationship,” Hope said, her eyes cold. “I didn’t want to tell you because we’re too busy snogging each other’s faces off to have the talk, and I just don’t trust your reaction.”
Fiona pursed her lips and nodded, taking Hope’s verbal attack in stride. “Good to know. Someone better tell Longbottom though.”
James chuckled softly and rolled his eyes, turning back around to walk forwards again. “Hufflepuffs.”
“Are bloody fantastic and beautiful creatures, is how I assume you planned to end that sentence, Potter,” Hope said threateningly.
“Of course, Jacobs.”
The car door behind the three of them burst open before Hope could retort, and Hugo wheezed, “She’s in the front car with Al.”
The smile fell off of James’s face as he began to run towards his cousin, Hope and Fiona close on his heels.
Albus was still holding Dorothy when the car door finally opened again about ten minutes later. “Thee?” James said, worry evident in his voice.
Dorothy tightened her grip on Albus. He winced as she nicked his skin with one of her fingernails, but said nothing. “Dora?” Hope asked, following James towards her. While James sat down on her other side, Hope sat across the aisle from them.
“Aren’t you going to go, too?” Roxanne asked.
Fiona looked at the girl, surprised. “Uh, I’m not really all that good at this stuff.”
“You just have to sit there,” Hugo said, furrowing his brow.
“Hope still wants to kill you, right?” Lily asked, a knowing glint in her eye.
Fiona nodded. “Longbottom looks like she doesn’t really need the added stress.”
“Look, Roxanne, she’s wearing that creepy heart necklace Lou got her,” Lily said with a laugh.
Fiona’s eyes widened in shock. “It’s not creepy!”
“Dora?” Hope said, reaching out to place her hand on Dorothy’s knee. “Dora, what happened?”
Dorothy simply buried herself deeper into Albus. James rubbed her back slowly and said, “Talk to us, Dorothy.”
After a moment, she said in a barely audible voice, “He’s gone.”
“Who’s gone?” Hope asked.
“He’s gone,” Dorothy repeated.
Hope looked up at James and Albus. “Who is she talking about?”
James shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“That’s all she’ll say,” Albus said. “He’s gone.”
“He’s gone,” she wailed softly.
“Merlin, they’re idiots,” Fiona said, a pained expression on her face. She walked towards Dorothy and squatted down next to her. “Are you talking about Freddie?”
Immediately, Dorothy let out a loud wail, choking on the sob that followed it. Her shoulders shook violently, and Albus tightened his arms around her. “How the bloody hell did you figure that out?” Albus demanded, rocking slightly in his attempt to soothe Dorothy.
Fiona sighed, settling down onto her bum. “He’s not here.”
“What happened between you and Fred?” James asked, rubbing circles onto Dorothy’s back.
She only cried harder, her tears soaking through Albus’s shirt and her grasp squeezing him painfully. “She’s going to dehydrate,” Albus said.
Dorothy suddenly slumped in his arms, unconscious. Fiona stood and pocketed her wand. “Carry her into a compartment. Someone find the trolley lady and get a pumpkin juice. She’s been crying for hours, she needs to stop and drink something.”
“You knocked out my girlfriend,” James said dumbly.
“Canny observation, Potter,” Fiona said.
“Was that really necessary?” Hope snapped, rising to her feet.
Standing, Hope was still a few inches shorter than Fiona, who looked down at her and said, “Medically, yes. Unless you’d like her to get sick from dehydration. I merely sedated her. She’ll come around in about five minutes, which is enough time for us to move into a compartment and get some pumpkin juice.”
James and Albus worked together to carry Dorothy into a near compartment and laid her on one of the seats.
Fiona stared down at her friend’s limp body and bit her lip. “She’ll come round in a few. I’ll—I’ll just go find the trolley lady.” She slipped out of the compartment before anyone could say anything to stop her. Once the compartment door latched, Fiona released the breath she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. Swiping violently at her eyes, she took a steadying breath and headed off down the train.
....hai. I am desperate to hear what you all think of that chapter. Please leave me a review! Thanks so much for reading!
Peace, Love, and Potter,
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