Chapter 12 : XII.
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Callisto @ tda is a godsend!
It’s two weeks after the Slug Club dinner, and November is starting to shift into December bit by bit. Students start getting excited and making their Christmas plans, and couples start getting more romantic (ick).
On a sunny Saturday morning I find Ben giving TJ’s owl a letter and some owl treats. “Hey,” I call out to him and raise my hand. “Where’s TJ?”
Ben turns around. “With Audrey in his dorm.” Ben replies quietly.
“Who’s the letter for?”
“Wanna talk about it? I ask, plopping down and patting the snow covered ground. Ben eyes the snow as if it has eyes, and then sits down, grunting noncommittally.
“You know how he is. I just feel bad that I can never help.”
“TJ’s panic attacks are not your fault Ben.” I murmur, putting a hand on his back.
“I know but I wish that I knew how to handle the situation better, and it’s not like Audrey teaches a course.”
Ben starts cry, and I take him into my arms. “Shhh,” I hush him, running my hands through his hair. I know that I don’t seem like I’m a decent person, but when it comes to my friends and my family I care a lot. A lot a lot. Even if I am bad at the whole advice giving thing.
I pull out my wand and then conjure a handkerchief, which Ben takes gratefully and blows his nose into violently. “Thanks,” he says, his nose all blocked up making him sound funny. He tries to hand the kerchief back, but I push it away with one of my fingers and shake my head.
“No no, you keep that.”
Ben huffs. Thankfully his tears have slowed and he’s gotten a bit calmer. “It has just been truly hard lately. And today was even worse because I couldn’t find his anxiety potion and when I did there wasn’t any left, which made me feel completely useless since Audrey’s the one who stays calm and helps him breath. I just freak out and make everything worse.”
“Ben, you don’t make things worse. In the moment, maybe. But TJ knows that you love him more than anything, and that’s the best help you could give him.”
I smile, pulling him in for another hug. “No problem. Anything for one of the only people who wanted to befriend me in first year. Let’s go inside.”
After the hug we both get up and walk back into the castle.
“Wait, I thought you had no idea how to give advice to save your life.” Ben says as we start to make our way up to Gryffindor.
“I have been known to surprise people on the occasion. But enough about me, are you feeling a bit better?”
“Yeah.” We get to the portrait of the Fat Lady and Ben (he’s been to our common room so many times that he knows the password now) gives the Fat Lady the password.
She raises her eyebrows at Ben. “Hmmm, I must alert the headmaster that the Ravenclaws have figured out Gryffindor’s password.”
I glower at her. “Don’t you dare.” Then I follow Ben into the common room. Since it’s a late Saturday afternoon, most of the Gryffindors are either having a late lunch, or out somewhere else in the castle, so only a few sit in the large red couches and arm chairs. A fire crackles in the fireplace, warming up the room and casting an orangey glow on the other members of Gryffindor. I make my way over to one of the couches and plop myself onto it. The worn leather sinks down, and I close my eyes for a moment, enjoying some long needed tranquility.
Ben coughs awkwardly. “Um, shouldn’t we go up to see TJ?” He asks, sitting next to me.
“Well you can, but I think I’ll talk to him later.”
He glares, “don’t tell me that you’re still in a fight with Audrey.”
“Hey,” I raise my hands. “She started it. I may have puked on her boyfriend but she didn’t have to be so petty about that.”
“Lyra that happened almost three weeks ago, you guys need to make up and let it go. It’s not like you can expect me and TJ to keep taking turns with each of you for the rest of school.” I heave a big sigh, and in response to Ben get up (with intense effort since the couch is very very very hard to get up from).
He follows me up the oak stairs of the Boys Wing, and we walk down the miniature hall to the sixth year boys dorm. When we open the door Audrey is sitting on TJ’s bed with a book, and TJ sits on the window sill, his brownish-blondish hair falling in his face. He still looks pretty shaken, but I know that Audrey wouldn’t be reading if he still needed to calm down. Whenever he starts hyperventilating Audrey springs to action and puts a hand on his back, encouraging him to breath with her and telling him that everything’s going to be okay. I get how Ben feels, whenever a wave of anxiety goes through him Audrey’s always a soothing presence, but we’re always so freaked that we’ll probably end up doing something to make it worse, so Ben and I just bolt. It always makes me feel guilty, and I wish I knew how to not get so scared that I’ll make everything even more horrible than it already is. But at the same time I have some credit knowing that I can always make him laugh after, and that he knows I’m there for him. He was always alone with his attacks before, scared that we’d think differently of him or think he was weak. But one day about a year ago it just happened in the middle of class, and Audrey noticed right away (because Audrey notices everything. Nothing slips by her. I repeat nothing). She just got up calmly, took TJ by the shoulders and led him out. Ten minutes later they were back in the class and TJ looked so much better, and barely anyone had even noticed that the two of them had left.
TJ lifts his head and his eyes meet Ben’s. “Hey love,” he says quietly. He slides himself of the window sill and walks slowly over to Ben, holding a pillow in his arms. TJ drops the pillow by his side and wraps his muscular quidditch toned arms around Ben’s body. Ben in turn wraps his less toned long arms back around TJ, and presses his forehead against TJ’s.
“I’m sorry.” He whispers.
“Don’t be sorry,” TJ replies, pulling away and wiping a stray tear from Ben’s cheekbone.
When the boys are done with their embraces they turn to me and Audrey. “Now, we better all make up or I will have a fit.” TJ says. He turns to me. “Lyra, I’m sorry for not telling you that I was going to use you as a backup in case girls were flirting with me.”
Ben looks at me. “I’m sorry too. It was my idea.”
I huff. “I forgive you guys.” Then I say sorry for my thing. “TJ I’m sorry that I can’t do more for you when you don’t feel so hot.”
“Me?” TJ feigns shock. “But I always feel hot, I mean look at me.” Ben elbows him. “I know what you mean. You always cheer me up in the end though.” See, what did I tell you?
“Audrey I’m so—.” Before I know it she’s on me, squeezing the life out of me.
“I’m sorry too!” She cries. “I’m so so sorry. I was so petty to hold you against something that wasn’t your fault.” We all turn to TJ. He rolls his eyes.
“Audrey I’m sorry that I kissed Lyra on the cheek resulting in her barfing all of the food she had consumed that day onto your boyfriend.”
She smiles and hugs TJ. “You know that I forgive you. I had to. You can’t live without me.” Audrey turns back to me and pulls me into another warm hug.
“Hey,” I start, pulling away. “Thanks for slapping Annika for me.”
“That B-word got what she deserved.” Audrey nods triumphantly. I laugh; it’s just like Audrey not to swear.
We walk into the Great Hall and take up our usual seats, today at Gryffindor. Ben suggests that perhaps we should add Hufflepuff to the rotation of houses we sit at, since it is Audrey’s house. Audrey tells him she likes it the way that it is, and that the Hufflepuffs are about twice as loud as the Gryffindors, so we’ll never be able to get a word in. I stare off into space, picking at my food and chewing slowly. I don’t even notice Lily plop herself down next to me. “Hey TJ,” she greets. She says the same to Ben and Audrey, even though they’re immersed in conversation with each other.
“What’s up Potter?” I ask.
“Well, Scorpius went to go talk to Albus.”
I widen my eyes. “Oh no everyone take cover!” I yell really loud, and everyone turns in my direction. A bunch of worried whispers circle through the hall, but when everyone is sure that nothing crazy will happen, they stop.
“No, like calmly.” She reassures me.
“Lily, I don’t know if you know your brother. He’s not always Daddy’s Favourite, the calm little studious book worm, gay as a toucan.”
TJ cuts into our conversation. “I cannot believe that you associate those birds with gayness. Do you know how stupid they are? That is just insulting, Lyra.”
I roll my eyes. “It’s a joke, shut up now I’m trying to talk to my brother’s boyfriend’s sister.”
“You know that we’re friends, you can just say my name.”
I beam at her. “I actually had no idea, thanks for informing me Lily. TJ how many friends do I have now.
“Six.” He grumbles.
“Marvellous!” I declare, but then I turn and see a very un-marvellous sight. Scorpius and Albus have their arms wrapped around each other as if they’re preparing for the end of the world. Scorpius’s tongue is way down Albus’s throat I swear that I can see it poking out his Adam’s apple. “Holy shit.” I swear I feel like I’m going to faint. My brain is all fuzzy and I feel incredibly light headed. Lily looks over to where my eyes are and she smiles, even though she turns to me and agrees with me on the fact that it’s disgusting. I wonder how Scorpius even cheated on Albus. They were probably drunk or something. I ask Lily.
“I don’t exactly want to talk about it, but were really out of it. We both felt really bad after. Scorpius loves Al, there’s no question about it. And I have my eyes on someone else.”
“Juicy!” Audrey and TJ cry at the same time.
“Who? What year? What house? Tell me everything.” Audrey begs Lily, grabbing her hands and literally pleading.
“Fine okay okay.” Lily complies. She leans over and whispers into Audrey’s ear. Audrey hates when people whisper to her on account of the fact that it makes her chilly (apparently. Weird and messed up), and that it creeps her out. But this time as Lily tells her the identity of the boy she likes Audrey seems fine with it. I guess what I’d do for food she’d do for gossip. Audrey gasps unexpectedly, causing me to jump in fear and whip my bowl of soup into the air, where it flies before landing and spilling all over TJ.
“HOT! Hot, hot, hot, hot! Hot! Hot! Hot!” TJ cries, jumping up and pointing his wand at his robes to dry them off. He then proceeds to run out of the Great Hall through the side door at the far end, and dive into the snow. Of course everyone in the general vicinity of our table watches. When TJ comes back he sits down and goes back to his food as if nothing happened.
“Subtle TJ, subtle.” I say, and he elbows me and mutters something that sounds like ‘oh shut up’.
Later in the day I get Audrey to find Parker for me so that I can apologize for tossing my cookies all over him. He finds me in the library studying (never usually happens) and sits. “Audrey said you were looking for me.”
“Um yeah, I just wanted to apologize.”
“For what?” He questions.
“Uh,” I start awkwardly. “Y’know, for throwing up on you.”
“Oh yeah, that.” He says. “It’s cool.” He offers me a hand and I shake it, then he bids me goodbye and walks away. A few minutes later I’m joined by Scorpius, who opens his books and starts writing things down with his favourite emerald quill. He looks up, probably because he can feel my eyes burning into the side of his skull.
“What? Don’t act so shocked, we always study together at home.” Scorpius tells me, appalled. I shrug, then we both go back to studying.
I guess that spending some time with my brother is something that’s been long overdue, so later when my friends meet me and Albus meets Scorpius for dinner like usual, we tell them that we’ll see them later, and eat together.
Scorpius and I have a good laugh over a lot of things, and we eat the food that was made for dinner on a windowsill outside the Great Hall instead of in it. Scorpius flings some food at me and I fling some back. We talk about school, our friends, and our love lives (Scorpius’s overly passionate one, and my non-existent one), and suddenly I realize that I’m going to miss him when he leaves Hogwarts for the last time. Of course we will still see each other, during holidays and such, but still. And I know that’s it’s only one year, but besides that one year where I was ten and he was eleven, we’ve never been apart for more than a couples days at a time. And the year that we were without each other was hard. Really extremely hard. So I’m starting to think that next year, the seventeen/eighteen - eighteen/nineteen year is going to be the hardest. 2017 to 2018 and 2025 to 2026 also known as The Worst Years of Our Sibling Lives.
Friday the next week I’m in my last period of the day, when I remember that Slughorn’s Christmas Party is this weekend. I need to get ready! I chew the end of my quill until the bell sounds. When the shrill ringing starts I gather my pile of things and bolt from the classroom, running to find Tim.
I find him reading a green book on a window sill near Gryffindor tower. The light casts perfectly on his blonde curls, and his blue eyes sparkle as he shifts himself right into the sunshine. I gasp in awe as he turns a page in his book. He probably felt my gaze, because he looks up and smiles. Oh my gosh I want him to put his tongue down my throat. Just friends, Lyra I tell myself. Oh my Godric screw ‘just friends’, why can’t Tim’s friend zone just be bullshit of the moment? Oh well.
“Hey,” Tim greets, edging off the windowsill and closing his book.
“Free period?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he replies, looking at his closed book. “Anything you needed?”
“Uh not really, but I was wondering, since I don’t have a boyfriend to invite, and since we’re good friends now… Well I was wondering if you wanted to accompany me to Professor Slughorn’s Slug Club christmas party.”
“Oh, I was going to go anyway but we could totally,” he chuckles, “accompany each other.”
“Wait, you’re in the Slug Club?”
“Yep, dad’s a famous quidditch player, remember?”
“Cool, so I’ll meet you in the common room about fifteen minutes before.”
“Yeah,” he smiles. “See you.” He waves, walking away from me as people flood into the hall.
I grin really big and feel as if fireworks are exploding in my body. Tomorrow is the day that everything will change. It will be overwhelming feelings in the moment. Tim and I will be mingling together, sliding through the party, and then the mistletoe will catch us and we will kiss, and he’ll realize that he’s been in love with me the whole time. I need a good dress!
I run upstairs to Gryffindor, then the Girls Wing, then the 6th year girls dorm, and launch myself at my trunk. I throw dress after dress onto my bed, trying on everything. I have that pretty green dress that I wore to the last dinner and that is relatively festive, but I don’t think it will be enough (and I mean, I’ve already worn it to one of Slughorn’s dinners). Just as I start to take off a pretty royal blue dress that is really long and looks kind of frumpy, Lily walks in carrying shopping bags.
“Hi.” I say awkwardly.
“Hey!” She greets excitedly in reply.
“Did you go shopping?” I ask in an awkrious (awkward-curious) tone.
“Yeah. Can you help me pick a dress.”
I blink. “Sure. But wait—.”
“How did I get out to go shop?” Lily cuts me off. “Simple. It’s called My Last Name Is Potter, My Dad Saved The World, Not Being Able to Be A Normal Teenager Comes In Handy Sometimes.”
“Right.” I say, then watch as she pulls out three stunning dresses. The first is a long light pink almost white one, with a bodice decorated with sequins. The next is a lovely little puffy white dress, that’s kind of like a short more partyish version of a wedding dress. And the last is—oh my Godric, it’s my dream dress— the most beautiful dress on the entire planet; it’s skirt part flows and would end about right around where my knees are; the bodice is a sort of lacy t-shirt almost tank-top; and best of all it’s a beautiful blood red.
Lily probably sees my eyes widen as she pulls it out of the bag marked Delacour: Des Robes Pour Toute Sort D’Occasion, her aunt’s gown and dress robes shop in Paris, because she asks if I’m having trouble finding a dress.
“Uh yeah, but I’ll be fine. I have a few dresses so I should find one eventually.” She shakes her head, red hair flying everywhere, and hands me the red dress without saying anything.
“You’re letting me borrow it?” I asked, shocked.
“No, I’m giving it to you silly. It would look so lovely on you, and besides, it’s too red for my orangey-red hair, too clashy.”
I smile and ask if she’s sure, and when she nods and assures me that it’s mine to keep, I hug her really tight and thank her endlessly. Then I try on the dress and step back. She claps, the sound ringing through the dorm, bouncing off the echoey stone walls. “You look beautiful, Lyra.” We hug again and giggle, and then I tell her that the white dress looks prettiest on her after she tries both on. Then we’re out of the dresses, and we decide to go out to the pitch together and practice our quidditch. It feels good to be strengthening bonds with Lily. She’s really cool and I’m glad to be friends with her.
The next day is the party, and I’m freaking out trying to get ready when Chiyo walks into the bathroom. I completely forgot about her for a while! I wonder where she’s been, so I decide to ask her. She replies that she was sick, and I say that I’m sorry for not realizing and coming to see her or giving her a Get Better Soon howler. She forgives me, and I tell her I’m glad to see her back.
Then the conversation changes. “What are you putting makeup on for? I’ve never seen you wear any.”
“Oh um, Slughorn’s christmas party.”
Chiyo smiles and takes my makeup kit from me. “Let me do it.” She suggests. I nod and hand her some makeup remover. For a little bit I sit still as she fusses around with all sorts of makeup that I have in my case for special occasions, and then she walks over to her shelf and brings it over to where we’re set up. She pulls out some of her own makeup and plays around with mine and hers combine. And then after a long while she announces that she’s done, and spins the chair around.
“Chiyo!” I gasp, staring at my face, more beautiful than I’ve ever seen it before. She’s gotten a lipstick that’s exactly the colour of my dress and has blended everything so perfectly. I didn’t even realize it but she put all of my hair into the prettiest little ballet bun and curled the two strands in front of my face. I turn to her and look right into her eyes. “You’re full of wonders!”
“Oh thanks. I just faff around a bit.”
“Chiyo this is seriously amazing stuff. You should do it professionally.”
She averts her gaze and acts a little uncomfortable. “My parents want me to work at the Ministry.”
Everyone want their almost graduated teenagers to work at the Ministry. I feel like bashing my head in. “My dad wants me to be nice to my brother,” I offer. “Doesn’t mean that I listen.”
She laughs and puts some final touches on my makeup and hair, and then she bids me good evening and leaves. I shout after her that we should hang out a bit more often, and she shouts back that she agrees. And then I fix my dress and head down to the common room to wait for Tim.
A read for a few minutes before I see him in front of me, dress in a fabulous tailored navy suit. I stand and adjust his tie. “You look amazing.” I grin, and he tells me the same. And then he takes my hand (good signs!!!!!!) and we walk out of Gryffindor tower together.
When we get to Slughorn’s party everyone is mingling and there are people handing out food and champagne glasses. Tim and I greet Professor Slughorn, and then we stand around a bit munching on food. After a little bit, Tim asks me if I want to dance and I agree. I try to lead him non-suspiciously towards the mistletoe infested areas in the room, but he sways me in the same spot. We talk awkwardly a bit as we dance, and then a much more romantic song comes on and he lets go of me quickly.
“I’m sorry,” he apologizes. “I’ve never been good at giving people what they want.”
“It’s fine Tim. We’re just friends anyway.” FUCK JUST FRIENDS! I brush a lock of his hair behind his ear and smile sweetly at him. Then he excuses himself to go to the lavatory just as the slow song ends and a real dance song comes on. I back away weirdly and accidentally bump into someone. “Sorry,” I mumble, turning around to see who I bumped into.
He smiles. “Lyra!”
“Oh, James.” I say, trying not to sniffle even though I feel like it. Of course he notices my sadness right away. He’s good at that. He doesn’t seem it, but James’ is sensitive. I kind of like it. The butter-melting-on-toast feeling comes back, and I furrow my brows trying to figure it out.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah, my friend just had to go to the washroom.”
“Oh, it kind of looked like he was ditching you.”
“Tim isn’t like that. I guess I kind of liked him but he’s really set on sports and school.”
James smiles. “Ahhh the doubles Ss, the relationship breakers not makers.” He says reflectively. “Wanna dance?” He then asks suddenly.
“Um, sure?” I say, a little unsure. He takes my hands and we spin around the room, having a grand time. After a bit I realize that I’m having a lot of fun with him. All of a sudden we try to step in stride with our dancing but we find ourselves stuck.
“Mistletoe,” James and I both growl simultaneously.
Author's Note: (Sorry to everyone who had to read the first parts of the story without CIs, I've just recently switched to imageshack due to dissatisfaction with my other photo host. Anyway, all of the CIs should be up now. Thanks for your understanding!)
You must love me and my cliffhanger(ish)ness. To be continued...
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