Nautica opened her eyes slowly, drinking in the squishy red chair sitting angled toward her near the fireplace. The polka dot rug covering the floor of the space with it's bright colors seeping into her very skin. She feels trapped here on the small black sofa, her hands clasped tightly together. She had counted numerous times to keep the anxiety at bay.
When her parents had suggested for her to see a shrink, she had been adamantly against it. Because why did she need to speak of her problems? Why not tuck them into a little box safely hidden away in the back of her mind? Okay, so she knew it wasn't healthy, but it had begun working for her oddly enough. Ever since her spat with James, which she now realizes was out of line, she had begun putting away every bad emotion into that little box. Every single strand of hair that has fallen from her head that evoked a near murderous rage, she had shoved into there. Everytime she has gone to a game as Co-Captain, she has tucked away the jealousy harboring deep in her heart.
And now, she is being forced to see Dr. Karen Moore. Glancing at the clock, Nautica frowns, her own therapist is late for it. That to her, spoke volumes. Her own parents have been too wrapped up in their issues with one another and have been going to her Healer appointments in turns. Both grumbling about the other under their breath, but not trying nearly hard enough to actually be quiet. Nautica had ignored it, shoving the frustration and irritation with both parties into the pretty little box.
Maybe they would've never noticed her withdrawing deeper into herself, if it hadn't been for her last appointment. It had been a bleary and dreadfully rainy Friday afternoon, in which her mother had been the one to join her. Oh, her mother, with her perfect outfits and perfect hair. She had guided Nautica into the room, as though this wasn't the fourth time they'd been since the checkups started.
All seemed normal until the picture of the mass was actually pulled up in front of them all. And there, right there for everyone to see was it's ugly jagged edges in the corner of her breast. It had taken her breath away, along with everyone else's. For it had gotten bigger. Considerably larger. The second Nautica had laid eyes on it, she had felt a sort of panic building into her chest, but had instantly counted in her head and thrown the panic into the box with reckless abandon. Instead of panicking as the nurses hurried from the room, she just sat there. A sort of numbness spreading to each corner of her body, flowing through her veins like a drug. She had glanced over at her mother, to see her standing there with wide eyes filled with fresh tears, her hands clenching her purse shakily.
She had her mother's hands, she had noted.
And that was it. Having seen Nautica's reaction, or rather lackof, she had finally stopped arguing with Nautica's father and the two had decided to place her in therapy. Every Wednesday morning, the only morning she had to go to classes late. So not only is she being forced to actually speak to some know-it-all, she's also being deprived of an extra hour and a half of sleep.
So all in all, she is more than irritated that her therapist is running late. It's as the the minute hand lands on the five that a sort of flurry happens at the door. A young beautiful woman with pretty blond hair and adorning lopsided glasses comes bursting in with a teacup in hand. It's hot water is sent flying to the carpet below as she nearly trips over her own heels. "Oh Merlin, I am so sorry Nautica for running so late," She smiles sheepishly at her patient. "My cat, Wilfred, had gone missing this morning. So I had to search through every nook and cranny for him. We ended up finding him in the attic, not quite sure how that had happened-- but anyways, I'm Dr. Moore, but please feel free to call me Karen." She gives a sort of grimace as she hurriedly and as carefully as possible placed the cup on a table.
For a second, Nautica wanders how on Earth she had been saddled with such a mess as a therapist, but remembers then that her mother had been recommended for her to see Karen by a colleague, Victoire Weasley. James' older cousin by a good six years, who was best friends with Karen's fiance, Teddy Lupin. Also, James' godbrother. "It's okay," She says, deciding that she'll dismiss the five minute delay. Less time for them to get too deep.
"So how are you feeling today?" Karen inquires, pulling a sort of journal off the mantle of the fireplace, along with a quill. She takes a seat in the squishy red chair as she opens the book to what must be a fresh page. She finally stares at Nautica expectantly, her perfect thin brows arched.
"Well, I wasn't too keen on coming if I'm being honest," Nautica says quietly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I don't think I need to be here."
"Why do you say that?"
Feeling mildly irritated, Nautica lets out a sigh. "I say it because it's true," She says, eyeing her therapist with the frustration already building. "I'm handling my --illness just fine and I don't think talking about it is going to make a difference."
"How are you handling it?"
And that's how her first therapy session went. Question after question directed toward Nautica. Pretty soon, she was firing questions back as a defense. "Do you think you'd tell your friends right away if you were sick?" She had questioned Karen with ire in her voice. "Do you think you'd be able to just let that all out there?"
"I can't say for certain since I've never been in your place," Karen had admitted. She didn't seem to be fazed by Nautica's behavior. In fact, she seemed almost intrigued by it in a way. "But I'd like to think that I would tell them because I trust my friends wholeheartedly. Do you not trust your friends, Nautica?"
The question had made her mouth go dry as she tried to put together words to toss away such doubt. Because she trusted Santiago with everything, right? Then why hadn't she told him right away? A part of her knows that it was something she hadn't wanted to admit out loud, but a deeper much darker part wanders if it was because she didn't trust him. Didn't trust him to help get through this.
By the time the session ended, Nautica was reeling and barely offered a good-bye before she flooed into McGonagall's office. The Headmistress was surprisingly absent, probably called away for some task. Glancing around the large room, she lets out a breath of relief. There, she had survived her first therapy session. And from what it had been like, she didn't think she wanted to go back.
Because Karen had made her think more than she wanted to. She wasn't willing to let the anger and self-loathing leave the box. Not yet anyway. Wiping the soot from her cloak, she heads toward Charms. Upon entering the room, she sees James sitting casually in the back of the class with his book open in front of him. He doesn't look when she walks in, something that she is loathe to admit irks her. For how could she be wanting his attention when she had so eagerly pushed him away?
The lesson flies by as she scribbles notes on her sheet of parchment. Despite the illness and her following numbness, she still greatly wishes to be a healer. To be able to keep others like her from the suffering this has caused. To be remotely honest, the rest of her day goes by quickly and ends with her sitting alone in the common room.
She has noticed that Santiago and Tess have been spending more and more time together. Though they still make a point to try and include her in their time, she feels more alone than ever. Shoving the jealousy that is spawned from the possible neglect into her box, she closes her eyes and tries to think. Tries to think of how she should properly feel now. Should she be angry with the world right now? For betraying her in such a paramount way?
She was sitting here alone, without anyone around her. Had she always been so friendless? She feels ugly thoughts begin to cloud her mind and judgment, as her breathing picks up rapidly. Her throat feels as though it is closing as she thinks of every single time she had been left out of something. Whether it be a school clique, or a party. Where were her friends now? Had she really pushed them so far away? Feeling tears sting the corners of her eyes, she stands up hurriedly with her heart in her throat. This wave of emotion is too much to shove into the box, and she sure as hell didn't want the others here to see it.
Tugging at the ends of her hair, she leaves the common room, ignoring the fact that curfew was arriving shortly. Unfortunately, she had not been given Prefect Duty tonight, so there was nothing to occupy her. Letting the dark thoughts seep in like the sickness building in her breast. She clasps a hand over her mouth to hold back a sob as she passes by sixth year Gryffindors heading for their own common room. It's as she comes upon an old wooden door that she knows where she needs to go.
Pulling it open with more force than needed, she runs up the Astronomy Tower stairs with agility borne from playing Quidditch for five years. Luckily, the tower is empty as she reaches the top where the balony overlooks the eerie black lake. The stars dot the sky, watching over her as she lets out a wordless cry and slams her foot against the ground.
It feels as though every single jealous moment, every single murderous rage is coming to the light as she clings to the balcony railing with desperation. Every time James has ignored her in the last few weeks. Every single time Santiago and Tess had run off on their own, leaving her to her own devices. Every single time she's had to watch her team play without her in the air. The emotions has brimmed over the edge and send her into a desperate fury.
"WHY!?" She screams at no one, her fists diving into her hair, tugging on it as hard as she can. The pain brings her anger more into focus, gives her satisfaction as she squeezes her eyes shut. Her chest feels as though it's about to combust. "WHY GOD?" She screams to the universe, wishing that for once, someone would answer.
And someone did. Just not who she expected.
Her name is softly spoken like she's fragile. Broken. The baritone of it vibrates her very core as she turns breathlessly to see James standing by the door leading out of the tower. For a brief moment, she is glad for once that he's there. Because she needs someone to cry on. Someone to hug her and maybe, just maybe, he'd do that for her. But the moment is short lived because standing awkwardly behind him is Ophelia Morgan.
Ophelia is a fellow seventh year in Hufflepuff with dark brown hair, caramel skin, and green eyes. She's beautiful in an innocent sort of way with freckles scattered across her nose. She is also recently single after a break up with her boyfriend, Danel O'Brien. Something in Nautica seems to deflate as she stares at the pair, knowing what they had come up here for.
"I'm sorry," She manages to say, glancing between the two. "You two enjoy..." With that, she hurries to leave the unbareable space, mortification filling her. Of course, James would find someone else to take up his time. He wasn't going to wait forever, and she was stupid to think he would care anymore. This was the James Potter she had known and hated for the last seven years.
"Nautica," James says her name again, his hand reaching for her.
"Don't," She pulls away quickly, not daring to look him in his eyes. They had never been exclusive, hell he's never taken her on a date, he didn't have to explain himself to her. She honestly didn't want him to anyway. For what could he say? 'I'm sorry that my date and I just walked on you having some sort of freakish meltdown?' No thank you.
With that, she leaves him, the tears of frustration and anger dry on her cheeks. All of the emotion that had been spilling out is suddenly gone. Replaced with the numbness that she felt when she'd seen her growing cancer.
There is no point to care.
"I am so sorry," Ophelia apologizes again, her hands wringing in her lap as James and her sit cross legged on the floor of the tower. They're close enough to the balcony to see just the edges of the far end of the Black Lake, but not close enough to see the actual grounds.
"It's not your fault that she came to the wrong idea," James says quietly, leaning down to rummage in his knapsack for what they were meeting for. He grimaces as he pulls four feet of parchment from it and hands it to Ophelia. She takes it timidly, quite unsure if she wants to follow through with this. "There is your essay for Professor Dearburn."
"And here you go," From Ophelia's own bag comes a beautifully corked bottle of Firewhiskey. Grinning widely at the full bottle, he shoves it into his own bag. "My brother says that he'll no longer be able to send these to me. He's growing suspicious of how 'fast' I'm drinking them."
"Well, that puts a damper on our agreement," James raises his brows and sighs. "It's alright, we have plenty of other ways to get our hands on it, but I figured this was the easiest." She smiles half earnestly at him, wandering for the upteenth time what it would be like for him to kiss her. Sure, she would have never considered it when she was with Danel, but being single had it's perks. Like kissing James Potter.
But he was obviously very hung up on Nautica Pheonix. The look on his face when she had laid eyes on Ophelia had said it all. So no, she wouldn't be trying to make out with him anytime soon. Besides, she was still hung up on Danel and the sly words that would leave his mouth.
"Well, that'll be it then," James says quietly, standing up. "Do you need me to walk you back to your common room?"
"No, I'll be fine," She shrugs him off and leaves him standing in the middle of the Astronomy Tower.
He stares at the night sky for the longest, picturing what had just happened with Nautica not even ten minutes ago. She had been screaming wildly, a crazed expression on her beautiful face. He had seen passion blaze in her, had seen her strong beneath the crushing weight of her illness, and had witnessed her anger. But he'd never before imagined seeing her as helpless and fearful as he had when he had entered the tower.
For the briefest of moments, he had thought her capable of jumping, but the fear had quickly passed. If there was one thing he never thought her to be, it'd be a quitter. No matter how terrified and angry she was, he couldn't imagine her hurting herself that way. She is strong and fierce. Something he very strongly admired.
She had obviously gotten the wrong idea of he and Ophelia, and deep down he couldn't blame her for jumping to the conclusion. He had earned his reputation of seducing and dumping girls. He rarely sat around long enough for there to be an attachment of any sort on his part. But Nautica, she'd been different. She had practically hated him all through school, and at first he had gladly returned the feeling; but fourth year had been when it had all changed.
He had sent a beautifully performed Bat Bogey Hex at Nicholas Menage, but it had hit Santiago Vasquez instead. And Nautica retaliated instantly, but throwing him with a well aimed charm into the boys' loo. But she had not stopped there. She'd followed him and had grabbed him by his ear and shoved his face into a toilet.
She is the only person who would dare do such a thing to James Potter. The son of the Chosen One. The ever popular boy who could even charm the teachers. He had been full of himself and he knew was still kind of full of it, but she had cut him down a size. Something he found downright amazing. Because, he was never easily fazed. But her, with a flash of her swirling grey eyes, he would immediately regret any action that could cause her to think any less of him.
Sighing, he leaves the Astronomy Tower, wishing she would just talk to him. If she would only just hear him out.
*Thank you so much for your wanderful reviews, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. It was rather hard to write Nautica's scene with her therapist, but I thought that it'd be normal for any parent to consider counseling for a child whose going through something as heartbreaking as this. Tell me what you think about her 'pretty little box' please. I thought it only fitting. But anyways, please leave a review!