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Chapter 22 : The One With The Morning After
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Thanks to my awesome Beta Sam for all of her hard work! :P
Let me know what you think! And I hope to get the next chapter up by the 18th.
I had been having a really nice dream. James was in it and he had been saving me from a rogue dragon that had been let loose in Diagon Alley, whilst I had been trying to buy my school supplies. The dragon had somehow cornered me down one of the aisles in Madam Malkins robe shop and James had appeared and distracted it with a dance.
It was strangely confusing and I couldn’t help but look around me as I tried to shake the dream off of me. But it was hard to, when all I saw was the corridor wall of the castle in front of me, I couldn’t help but think that I was still in my dream, especially because it felt like someone or something was stroking the side of my cheek softly.
“Morning sleepy head,” James yawned from behind me and I jumped slightly, realising that I was in his arms and resting against his chest. Looking down at the robe that had been thrown over me, the realisation of what had happened last night came rushing back. The last thing I remembered was it being nearly four in the morning and James had been holding a comic book out for us both to read together and now I had woken up still in his arms and still leaning against his chest. My legs had gone numb from being on the hard floor and I knew that James had to have been feeling the same way.
“Morning,” I told him softly, leaning forwards and rubbing my eyes as the robe fell off of me slightly and James loosened his arms from around me, and I realised that the soft feeling I felt on my cheek was probably from James trying to wake me up. “I’m sorry I fell asleep on you.”
“It’s alright,” James told me. “I didn’t mind.”
I nodded slowly, pushing my hand through my hair and trying to flatten it as I tried not to get embarrassed about falling asleep literally in James’ arms.
“Did you manage to get some sleep?” I asked him slowly as I stretched my legs out in front of me, determined not to look up at James because I was nervous about what I would see on his face.
“Not even slightly,” he admitted, but I noticed a hint of amusement in his tone.
“Sorry,” I mumbled again and James reached for my hand, which caused me to finally look up at him. He was giving me a smile, which I couldn’t help but return to him. “What time is it?” I asked him.
James looked down at his watch as he stifled another yawn. I couldn’t help but yawn myself, stretching my arms wide and trying to get the energy to get up and off of the floor, instead of crawling back up to James and leaning on his chest again, wrapping the robe around us both and going back to sleep in his arms. It was very tempting.
“It’s nearly six in the morning,” he told me and I let out a groan at his words. “I know, it’s too early but we should probably get moving. Teachers will probably be coming down here soon, or ghosts.”
“Have you been keeping an eye on the map all night?”I asked him. He must have been really bored if he was just watching the map all night.
“Something like that, yeah.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up? That must have been boring.”
“Because you looked cute when you were sleeping and I didn’t want to disturb you,” he admitted honestly.
He stood up and stretched his arms above his head, the skin of his stomach peeking out from the bottom of his top as he did so, and it took everything in my power to not stare at the exposed part of his skin. I heard his back click and he let out a small groan and I was quick to say my apologies to him.
“It’s not your fault, don’t worry about it,” he told me, stopping his stretching and holding his hands out for me to take so that he could help me stand. “We should probably go and sort ourselves out before we go to the Great Hall, we don’t want to look like we’ve been out all night and up to no good.”
I agreed with him, stretching myself and grabbing his robe to carry as he picked up his backpack. He put his invisibility cloak into the backpack before grabbing the map and looking down at it.
“it’s completely deserted in the castle, I think everyone is still in their common rooms or dormitories, so it should be safe to walk to the toilets. By the time we’re done they should have started serving breakfast in the Great Hall,” James told me and I nodded as we both started a slow and sluggish walk back towards the toilets so that we could make ourselves look more presentable. As we neared where the toilets were, I realised that it was the boys toilets, James looked a little uneasy as he turned to look at me.
“Did you want me to go in and check to see if there’s anyone in there? Then I can keep guard out here so that no one comes in to disturb you?” he asked me and I nodded at him. I honestly didn’t care in my tired state if it was the boys toilets, I just wanted to wake myself up with the cold water from the tap and use the facilities. James nodded before opening the door and entering the room, he came back a few seconds later to inform me that the coast was all clear before I went inside and he stood by the door. I looked around me as I walked to the mirror; it wasn’t as dirty as I imagined that it would be, in fact it was quite clean. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but living with the giant mess that was my brother, anything was possible.
I looked at my reflection, the dark circles under my eyes, the paleness of my skin and the birds nest that was replacing my brown hair, and wondered what I would try and fix first. I turned on the tap and cupped some water in my hands, rinsing my mouth out and spitting the water back into the sink, before getting another handful of water and putting it over my face, the coldness of it waking me up and it would have to make do until I could get back to the dormitory and have a shower.
After I had sorted myself out I went outside to find James leaning against the wall, his head back as he looked at the ceiling. He turned to give me a lazy grin as I stood next to him, his eyes skimming me up and down, before he went inside the toilets himself and I stayed out here.
Once he had finished sorting himself out and he came back out, we continued our slow walk down the corridor and towards the stairs. It was a bit later in the morning when it was acceptable for us to be up and about the castle without anyone being too suspicious about where we were going.
The Great Hall was deserted when we arrived, there weren’t even any teachers but the beginnings of breakfast was starting to arrive on the tables. We decided to sit on a table near to the door; there wasn’t anyone else around so it didn’t make sense to sit on our own houses tables.
I looked at the food as James pulled a cup towards him and a large jug of coffee, wondering what to eat and being a little self conscious about wanting to eat my own body’s weight in bacon, choosing instead to just grab for a slice of toast. James seemed to have noticed my deliberation and the fact that I was looking at the bacon beforehand, because he used a fork to pick a stack of three slices and placed them on my plate.
“If you want to eat the bacon, just eat it. I’m going to do the same,” James told me, trying to make me feel a bit more at ease.
“Thank you.” I said softly.
“You don’t need to be embarrassed about it,” he stated honestly, sipping from the cup in his hands.
We ate slowly, enjoying our time together, and it wasn’t long before we both decided to go back to our dormitories to get ready for school. I had no idea how James was going to manage to get through it all, especially when I could barely get through walking the short distance to the Hufflepuff common room, and I had a small amount of sleep.
James had to walk so many more flights - I felt sorry for him.
The common room was practically empty, save for Horatio Demarcus who was glaring into the fire and in his own little world. He didn’t even look up when I walked passed him and made my way towards the sixth year girls dormitory. The other girls were all still sleeping, so I crept quietly over to my bed, stroking Snowball who was sleeping on my pillow as I reached for my school clothes and wash things so that I could have a shower and get changed.
Once I had felt more human and was ready for the school day ahead, I came out of the bathroom and noticed that everyone else had begun getting up.
“Morning,” I heard Isabella say brightly and I turned to see that she was sitting on the edge of her bed. Her hair was in disarray and she was blinking sleepily at me. “And what time do you call this?”
I blushed, wondering what I was going to say to her to stop her jumping to the wrong conclusions, but I was obviously too slow for her.
“I need to know everything!” she cried happily, standing up and walking over to me to grab hold of my arm and grin manically in excitement. I was honestly surprised and happy that she was as excited about mine and James’s friendship as I was.
“I – er –” I shrug dismissively, although I couldn’t help but smile with her. “There’s nothing really to say.”
“I don’t mind what it is you tell me, even if it’s just small, I just want to know something.” Isabella seemed to be bouncing around on the spot, finally letting go of my arm so that she could grab her things and head towards the still vacant bathroom. “I need to hurry so you can tell me at breakfast.”
I watched her leave, a bemused smile on my face before glancing at Sian, who was shaking her head but grinning at her friends behaviour. I turned to look at Michelle and saw that she had her back turned to me and seemed determined to not look at me.
“Morning Michelle, did you want –” I began, wondering if she wanted to go down to breakfast but she grabbed things and walked into the bathroom before I could finish as soon as Isabella walked back out. I stared after her dumbly as I processed what had just happened. I didn’t know why she had just ignored me and I really didn’t think I had the energy to find out what was wrong with her.
“Are we waiting for Michelle?” Isabella asked me, bringing me out of my thoughts. I turned to look at her and shook my head as Michelle pulled her socks and then her shoes on.
“I don’t think so, she just ignored me,” I admitted, a little hurt that she was ignoring me and thinking back desperately to what I could have done to make her act this way. Nothing came to mind.
Isabella gave a loud scoff and rolled her eyes as she stood up and grabbed my arm, pulling me out of the room so that we could head towards the Great Hall, linking her arm through my own as we walked. I noticed that a lot more people were in the common room, minus Horatio Demarcus who had disappeared.
“Don’t pay attention to her, she’s just sulking because she tried talking to Ethan, who didn’t want to know.”
I felt a bit sorry for Michelle, but knew that she had no reason to be taking it out on me if she wasn’t happy about the way that she had been treated. I don’t control Ethan.
We took a seat at the Hufflepuff table and Isabella was upset that we couldn’t talk about what happened between me and James, as a group of fourth years took a seat next to us. I couldn’t help but grin at the scandalised look that Isabella threw them for having the audacity to sit next to us, especially when there was room further down the table.
“I’ll tell you after breakfast. We both have a free period, don’t we?” I asked her, knowing that I should probably use the free period to do some of my homework, but that could wait until later.
“Yeah, because I want to know everything, especially because I want to know why he looks so tired,” Isabella pointed out, nodding her head to behind me. I turned to look and my eyes found James, who was sitting next to William. James was yawning widely and stretching his arms wide, catching William with his arm and receiving a punch to the side. James laughed before wrapping his arm around William’s shoulders. William rolled his eyes, but didn’t push James away. I grinned at him before my eyes flickered down the rest of the Gryffindor table and settling on Rebecca, who was glaring at me.
I looked away quickly, turning back to face Isabella as an uneasiness filled me at the look Rebecca had given me. I still didn’t understand why she was reacting this way to me; she was beautiful, she had more of a chance with James then I did.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Isabella asked me, after swallowing her mouthful of porridge, which she had added cut up bananas too. I gave a shrug and Isabella looked behind me again, her eyes searching for what could have caused me to act this way. I knew she had found Rebecca the moment that her eyes squinted into a glare.
“What’s her problem?” Isabella asked me and I shugged, playing with the napkin in front of me. “Why don’t you take a picture, it’ll last longer,” she added louder and I looked at Isabella in horror at what she had done. “Yeah, thought you would look away after someone confronted you.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” I told her quickly, not wanting to end up starting a fight with Rebecca. I didn’t want this to get any worse than it already was.
“I did. She needs to learn that she can’t treat my friend this way.”
“Thank you,” I told her honestly. Isabella gave me a wink before going back to her porridge.
“I’ll always stick up for you, Abigail.”
The biting chill in the January air was enough to wake me up. With the added bonus of the falling snow the castle looked quite magical as I walked slowly around the grounds with Isabella, although I knew this had the chance to make my cold get worse. We both went back to the common room to grab our school bags, as well as scarf and gloves, and in Isabella’s case a furry hat that was shaped to look like an owl’s face. We decided to come out here so that we wouldn’t be overheard by anyone else that had a free period.
I had told her everything that had happened last night and the early hours of this morning, of course leaving out the parts about the cloak and map, as they weren’t my secrets to tell. Isabella’s overjoyed smile was enough to rival my own and it was great to have her be as happy about everything as I was. If her loud squeal and excited clapping about me waking up in James’s arms was any indication. This was how a best friend was meant to react to news, not be mad and jealous.
“Please tell me that you kissed, him moving to sit behind you so that you could ‘read the comic book’ was the perfect chance for that to happen.”
“No,” I said shaking my head. Isabella looked practically devastated by my admission and I felt a little guilty that I was the reason she was looking like that.
“How could you not have kissed?” she demanded loudly, grabbing for my arm and shaking me.
“Because I know he doesn’t see me in that way. He only sees me as a friend.”
Isabella let out a loud groan of frustration at my words, placing a hand on her forehead as she shook her head at me. “You two are so frustrating, do you know that? Of course he likes you! If last night is any indication, it’s a hell of a lot. You two need to get your act together and just give in to the chemistry between you.”
“I don’t want to get my hopes up for it to crash down around me,” I admitted. I didn’t want to ruin things between me and James, just because I was hoping too much and reading too much into things. I wasn’t sure I could stand the humiliation, or the fear that I would lose James from my life. I never wanted to screw up what we had.
“You’re in denial,” Isabella stated in disbelief. “You need to open your eyes, Abigail; he likes you.”
“I don’t want to ruin things,” I admitted once more, not knowing what else I could say and trying not to get my hopes up at Isabella’s words. I had thought many times about what it would be like if James did actually like me, but I always had Michelle's words ringing in my ears, telling me that he would never look at me in that way.
“It’s freezing,” Isabella stated, skipping slightly in an attempt to warm herself as we walked closer to the door that would lead us back into the castle. “Shall we get a hot chocolate before we have to go to our lesson?”
I nodded in agreement and we both walked in through the door by the greenhouses, heading in the direction of the Great Hall. I was pulling my gloves off of my hands and stuffing them into my pocket when Isabella got my attention again.
“Hey, it’s Michelle.”
I looked up, ready to call for Michelle to stop, even though she had ignored me earlier, when the sight of Barry and Elijah coming out of the corridor stopped me. They seemed to be whispering about something and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself around them; I had been avoiding them since the Love Potion incident and I think even James has been as well, or at least seeing less of them.
“Ok, why on earth was she down the same corridor as not only Barry and Elijah, but also bitch face?”
I frowned as I noticed that Rebecca was walking slowly out of the same corridor, slowing my footsteps down so that I would definitely avoid getting closer to them. I heard the accusation in Isabella's tone and knew that she was suspicious of the fact that they had all been down the same corridor, but they didn’t all come out at the same time and it was a corridor that was used regularly. I trusted Michelle, even if we did fall out all the time; she would never talk to them, that I was sure of. She disliked them as much as I did, so I knew that there was another explanation for what we had just seen.
“How weird was that?” Isabella asked, turning to look at me. It was weird, but I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want the beginnings of doubt to plague my mind; no matter how Michelle treated me, I knew she would never do what Isabella’s tone was suggesting.
“Maybe they’re just walking down the same corridor, it’s not uncommon,” I informed Isabella, coming to Michelle’s defence.
All Isabella replied with was a, “hmmm.”
Michelle was still ignoring me as we sat in potions. I honestly didn’t mind as I was trying to conserve all my energy into not falling asleep at my desk; it was one of the toughest struggles I had to face in a while. It didn’t help that the teacher was making us take notes as he talked and wrote things down on the board; it was enough to drive anyone to sleep. I sat up straight, covering my mouth with my hand as I yawned, before turning my head to look at where James and William were sat. James was trying to lay his head on William’s shoulder, but William kept trying to shove James away from him as he tried to write his notes. I felt a bit sorry for William and James, although I laughed quietly when James shoved his head onto William’s shoulder and nearly pushed William out of his seat. William glanced up at me before nudging James and turning to give him a knowing smile as he whispered something into his ear. James looked up at me and gave me a sleepy grin and I felt my heart fluttering at it as I imagined what it would feel like to see that smile first thing in the morning; I would give anything to wake up in James’s arms again.
William’s words to James brought me out of my musings, and I knew that my cheeks were probably red. “You haven’t got long to do it, James. Time is ticking.”
I frowned slightly at his words, confused as to what they meant, James was giving William a hard look before turning to look at me again and noticing my confusion.
“Don’t worry about him, he’s a jerk,” James stated, leaning closer to my table and whispering to me.
“Be careful what you say, James,” William warned, although he didn’t say anything more as he glanced back up at the board.
“How you feeling?” he asked me and I shrugged as I took in the dark circles under his eyes and the paleness of his face.
“Terrible,” I admitted to him quietly, glancing at the teacher who was still writing on the board. “I don’t know how we’ve made it this far without falling asleep.”
“I’ve been close, but William won’t let me sleep on him.”
“That’s because you have a fat head, I don’t want to be crushed under the weight of it,” William muttered, causing James to flick him in the arm. William retaliated with a punch to James’s arm that I knew had to hurt him, but James just gave a laugh and rubbed his arm.
“You’ve made it go dead, I’ll get you back for that.”
“If you value your life you won’t even try,” Williiam drawled dangerously and I knew that I wouldn’t even try and attempt to get William back if I were James.
“I think I’m going to crash after this lesson finishes,” James informed me, still rubbing his arm and trying not to yawn. “These next twenty minutes will be the longest of my life.”
“I don’t think I’ll make it to dinner either,” I told him, rubbing my eyes with my fingers as I felt the tiredness beginning to try and seep into me again.
“It was worth it, though,” James said honestly and I couldn’t help but feel elation at his words. “I can’t wait to do it again.”
I heard Michelle move next to me and knew that she was hanging on mine and James’s every word. I wondered what conclusions her mind was jumping to at the little information she had.
“I won’t be able to see you until tomorrow,” James admitted and I noticed a hint of sadnesss in his voice.
“You’ll be sick of me soon, I’m surprised you’re not already.”
“I could never get sick of you, I actually miss you when you’re not around,” he replied honestly, his hand finding his hair as he seemed a bit embarrassed about his admission. He looked really adorable.
“James, would you be so kind as to go back to your table and stop annoying the other students,” the teacher called from the front of the class, causing me and James to turn to look at him, I turned to look back at James as he pushed his chair back to his desk, not realising that he had moved so close.
I heard laughing coming from behind us and I glanced back to see Barry and Elijah laughing at each other, before looking at me and whispering.
I turned back around at once, feeling uneasy about what they could be up to. I just hoped that this time James and I weren’t involved.
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