Chapter 31 : What Once Was Lost
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Charlotte had only been gone for two days, and I missed her like crazy. One absolutely perfect night was not enough, and it was not a fun twist to our story after what happened, I had to wait a week to be with her again. I just wanted to hold her, and touch her, and talk to her, now that I didn’t have to worry about it being wrong.
Before she’d left, I slipped a cell phone into her bag and had called her at least five times in the first 12 hours she’d been there. Charlotte hadn’t been too thrilled with that, and after a long conversation where she mostly laughed and said I was adorable, I’d agreed to only call her once or twice a day.
It had pissed me off to no end that she’d run into Avery Nott in Paris, and I hadn’t been there to protect her. Other guys had done that. We’d just gotten off the phone, and she assured me she was fine and that they were going shopping now.
I sighed, staring at the letter I’d been writing her. Next to my elbow was the journal, my Dad’s journal. I still hadn’t returned it, but now was as good a time as any. The chair rolled back as I stood up, and I grabbed the black leather journal. Right. Time to do this.
I knocked on the door of Dad’s office, pushing it open slowly as he called me in.
My hand, behind my back, clutched the journal I had come to return.
“James.” He looked up at me, a small, but distracted smile on his face. He shoved his glasses back up onto his nose, and waved in the direction of the chair.
“What can I do for you?” He put the papers he'd been reading down, and put the tips of his fingers together, staring at me over his glasses.
“I... I've come to return something, with an explanation and a hope for forgiveness.” I slid into the seat and stared at the edge of his desk. My heart was beating so fast, and I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. I could do this.
His brows knitted together. Maybe he'd never guessed. Maybe that showed how much he loved us, that he'd never suspect us. Me.
I clutched the journal tighter, before drawing it off my lap and placing it on the desk in front of him.
I wanted to speak, to explain, but all I could do was stare at him, watching as his eyes registered confusion, shock, and then peace. It had been returned.
“James... How did you get this? I thought this was lost.”
“Do you remember about six years ago, I kept pestering you and Mum for a new broom?” He nodded. “And you refused, saying that I didn't need a new broom, the one I had was sufficient?” He nodded again, holding me captive with his bright green eyes. “I got it in my head that if I could sell something, I'd write to the place and have them send it to me, as if it had been a gift, and not something I’d paid for myself.”
I paused, taking a few deep, steadying breaths.
“You were always talking about how that was priceless and I took that to mean worth a lot. I didn't know it was something that could never be replaced. I snuck off to Diagon Alley and sold it. The next day when I realized what I'd done I went back and tried to get it back. The guy said he'd already sold it, and that I'd made him a very rich man. He said he could retire early off that sale.”
Dad just kept staring at me, his face going through a wide range of emotions, but he still hadn’t said anything. It was making me nervous.
“I didn't know what to do and I've always been afraid of disappointing you... So I just... Did nothing. It was inexcusable and I'm sorry Dad.”
“James.” I looked up, not knowing what I'd find. He was looking at me with kindness. I wasn't expecting that. “For one, you've never disappointed me. And if this is the kind of man you're becoming, you won't ever disappoint me again. The measure of man is determined by how and if he admits his mistakes and works to make them right. That requires bravery James, bringing this to me yourself. But how did you get it now?”
“Charlotte actually. I told her about that,” I said waving in the direction of the journal, “and she spent every moment she could looking for it. She even enlisted her Mums help, and she and her Mum don't get along.”
“Charlotte hmm? She's a rare spirit, isn't she? You've changed since she's been around. Any woman that makes you want to be a better person is one worth keeping.” He looked at me pointedly.
“Well, I told her how I feel.”
“How early did you know Mum was the right one for you?”
Dad smiled at me, looking wistful.
“I'm not sure I realized it right away. Do you think Charlotte is... Your other half?”
“Feels like it, but I'm only seventeen. What would I know of that?” This was the first real conversation my Dad and I had ever had. It felt nice. It felt like the ushering in of a new era, one where he and I could talk like adults. I was an adult now, and I needed to act like it.
“Age doesn't matter. Some people are soulmates for a season in their life, others are the single soulmate... The one we want for our whole life. You don't need to know the answer to that now. But since she's been around you've started becoming the kind of man I've always known you could be James. I’m proud of you. I'm your father, and I want you to be happy. Whatever that means, or whoever that means you're around.”
I sat speechless and overwhelmed by his words. I finally just smiled and said that I loved her.
Dad had started looking through the journal, and I left quietly. Mum walked past me, asking what Dad was doing. I told her I was making up for something and she peeked her head in the door, spotting the journal immediately. Her face, when she turned back to face me, was a mask of pride and love. She wrapped me in a hug and told me the same thing Dad had, that she was proud of who I was becoming.
Then she walked into the office and shut the door behind her. I smiled in relief and walked into my room.
I missed Charlotte. She'd only been gone two days, but it was starting to feel like forever.
A knock sounded and I turned in my chair. “Come in!”
Rose stepped through and I stared back in surprise.
“Hey.” She said, picking at the edge of her green knit sweater.
“Hi?” I looked at her, confused. She rolled her eyes, and let out an exasperated sigh.
“Dinner tonight, remember?”
“Oh yea.” I turned my chair around to face her as she walked in and sat down on my bed.
“You look like you're somewhere else.”
I nodded. “Just did something.”
“No. I'm trying to put those days behind me.”
“I noticed.” She said with a warm smile.
“I righted a wrong.”
“The journal?” She grinned at me, and laughed at the look on my face.
“How in the seven hells did you know about that already?”
“Ran into Aunt Ginny in the hallway. I'm really proud of you James.”
“Oh stop. You'll make me cry.” I pretended to wipe away a tear, and smirked at her.
“I'm serious. You’ve changed a lot since this summer.”
“Don't thank me... Thank my... Thank Charlotte. She inspired the changes.”
“But you followed through on the desire to change. That's big for someone your age.”
“You two official now?” She was still grinning at me, her light brown eyes sparkling with mischief. Did she already know? Actually, I realized, she and Charlotte were friends.
“I don't know.” I spun around in my chair once, and whistled.
“But something's different.”
“We slept together.”
She gaped at me in horror. “James... I thought you liked her! How could you?!?”
“What... No. Not like that! I wouldn't do that to her. Can't blame you for jumping to the wrong conclusions though.”
“Well... It's your mo. Sorry, old mo. Remember Chelsea Edgecombe?”
I thought back to last year, on Halloween. I'd selected her as my target for the night, and... I didn't even like thinking about it now. I'd flirted relentlessly, with no shame until she got drunk enough to make out with me. We both got drunker and ended up in a broom closet, going at it against a cold wall. It was fast and I'd left her outside her common room, then went to sleep in my own bed, feeling insanely pleased with myself. The next morning she'd walked up to me at breakfast and smacked me so hard I'd had a red mark for an hour after. She earned herself detention for that, and I had just laughed, accepting compliments from guys and ignoring the disgusted looks from the girls I was related to.
“I was a total wanker.”
“Treat her right James. She deserves it.”
“I know. I've never felt like this about anyone.” I thought of her and a sappy feeling filled my body. I grinned, looking like a stupid love struck fool.
“So you really slept with her? That doesn't seem like Charlotte.”
“I know. You saw me at dinner, I couldn't keep away from her, but I thought she was still seeing Asher.”
“What... They broke up weeks ago!”
“Yes. Guess you didn’t. She didn’t tell me, if that makes you feel any better. I guessed.”
“No. I didn’t know. Then she told me and I dragged her up to the library for some privacy.”
“Cause our family are nosy little buggers.” She laid down on my bed, her curly hair fanning out around her. Rose picked up one of my pillows and threw it in the air, catching it, and then throwing it up again.
“Yea and we ended up exchanging gifts and talking and I kissed her. Best kiss ever, by the way. You'll never top it.”
She blushed furiously, her face clashing with her hair. Had her kiss with the Malfoy runt been that good? Ugh… I didn’t want to think about it.
“Anyway... We kept kissing and ended up in my room, started undressing each other and it just happened. I asked her first, if she was ok with it.”
“Cause you probably thought she was a virgin?” She turned her head suddenly, looking at me with a steady gaze.
“I had. Then she told me she wasn't. What do you know about that?”
“It's happened a few times.”
“A few times?!?” Who else had had their paws on her. A boiling hot rage filled my veins.
“Oh deal with it James. You've slept with like a third of the school.”
“I have not!” I pointed at her, feeling angry. I was being filled with a thousand bad thoughts about Charlotte with other people. Fucking hell, had she and Asher done the deed? Oh God, I hoped not.
“Sorry, a forth?” She smirked at me, laughing when I glared at her.
“Fine. Exaggerations aside... She really likes you. We all like her. You screw this up I'm in her camp.”
“I won't screw it up.”
“Good. Now come downstairs. I need your help with something.”
She climbed off my bed and socked me playfully in the shoulder, before walking out of my room. I sighed, punched a pillow, and then followed her downstairs.
Hugo and Al were sitting on the couch, laughing their asses off about something. I wondered where the girls were.
“They’re all out shopping.”
“Are you reading my mind?” She cocked her eyebrow at me and smirked.
“No. No! Get out of my head, you don’t want to be there.” I took a few steps away from Rose, and threw my hands up in front of my face.
She snorted and smirked at me. “You’re right, I really don’t want to be there as you relieve all the things you did to my friend the other night.”
“What exactly do you need my help with?”
“Well…” She twirled her finger around her hair, “I need you to help me pick out some lingerie for Scorp… I think we’re ready to take this to the next level. I figure you know what’s good and what’s not.”
I mimed gagging, pretending to trip over myself in horror at the idea. Rose bent over laughing and I heard Hugo yelling from the other room that she was being gross and needed to shut the hell up.
“What do you actually need my help with? And while we’re on the subject of help… I need you to clean my mind of the mere idea of you… and him… and… you know.”
“Sex, James. That’s the word you’re looking for.”
“You are too young to even speak the word!” I pointed at her and puffed up my chest, trying to look all big brotherly.
“I’m fifteen James.”
She rolled her eyes at me and then smiled, and it fucking hit me that she was smiling because she was remembering something.
“No!” I gaped at her, my eyes flying wide open in horror.
She stared at me, her face draining of all color. “You… how did you know?”
“WITH HIM? I’M GOING TO KILL THAT RAT PUNK LITTLE SLIMY GREASEBALL…”
“KINDLY SHUT THE HELL UP JAMES!”
I pointed at her and spluttered. “YOU…. YOU… YOU’RE TOO YOUNG. NO. YOUR… INNOCENCE!”
“MERLIN’S PANTS JAMES… SHUT UP!”
“Why are you two yelling at each other?” We both whirled around to see Al and Hugo. I looked back at Rose, and she shook her head from side to side, staring at me in fear, wondering what I would do.
“Go away children! This is an adult discussion!”
“I’M THE SAME AGE AS HER!” Al roared.
“NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION! GO AWAY!” I sat down in a chair, and dropped my head into my hands. “The image won’t go away. Oh God, why won’t the image go away!”
“James…” Rose crouched in front of me. “I actually did need your help with something.”
“Are you pregnant?!?”
I let out a sigh of relief. “Then what do you need my help with?”
“Um… well… it’s a little awkward now. But Scorpius’s birthday is coming up, and I wanted a guys perspective on a gift for him.”
I stared at her, my face a stony mask. “I’m not helping you pick out a gift for the slimy git that took my sister’s innocence.”
“I’m not your sister…”
“Rosie… you’re my sister in name if not entirely in blood. I was supposed to look out for you! And everyone was just staring to be proud of me too.”
“Oh James… you really are such a good person, aren’t you.” She smiled at me, and I smiled back.
“Fine. I won’t beg you for help. I’ll ask Charlotte… but in the meantime… help me make dinner.”
“Rosie… I can make one thing, and one thing only.”
“Waffles. I know. We’re doing breakfast for dinner.”
“I LOVE BREAKFAST FOR DINNER!”
“Was shouting that really necessary?” She said as she swatted me with a wooden spoon.
“Yes. It was entirely necessary. Now, you leave me to my masterpieces Rosie Posie and I’ll let you do… whatever it is you’re going to do. “
She chuckled and went about her business, and I made my waffles, reminiscing about the time I’d made them for Charlotte during the summer.
She needed to come back soon. I needed her around.
Charlotte was finally mine, and I smiled to myself, thinking through what I was going to get her for her birthday. New Years Eve. The day I was going to make it official and make damn sure she, and everyone else knew whose girlfriend she was.
A/N- Don't feel like saying much right now. The next chapter will be called Paris... so read on. Review. You know the speech. I won't bore you with it now. :)
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