Chapter 5 : Minor Misjudgments
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Your father and I miss you very much. I'm assuming that, since you haven't written, school is going well. Darling, I don't know why you push yourself so hard, it's going to give you wrinkles. You know that it doesn't matter how well you do, you'll always be taken care of. Take some time for yourself. I know a Hogsmeade trip is coming up. Why don't you go shopping with Ophelia? I'll have your father send you more money.
Speaking of Ophelia, I was just talking to Pansy the other day, and she said that Damien and Ophelia are getting married in a year or so. Isn't that exciting? I think Willow and Dexter are to be wed sometime after as well. It's so lovely to see you all growing up.
Now, I know you've been a bit hesitant since you and that... boy were dating, but I think you and Scorpius are so lovely together. Just yesterday, Astoria showed me the most marvelous ring that Scorpius will give you. You'll simply die when you see it. I know he's a year younger than you, but I think some time after he graduates would be a perfect date. I love summer weddings, and Astoria's garden will be flourished. You can have the wedding at Malfoy Mannor and everything!
All right, my dear, have a wonderful last year, relax, and don't forget to use that anti-wrinkle potion I sent you! It works miracles!
Hugs and Kisses,
Your Loving Mother
I ignored the burning in the back of my throat as I read the letter again. Some part of me was hoping that if I read it enough, it would disappear. Unfortunately, my mother was still my mother, so the letter stayed the same, her surgar coated words stabbing me in the chest.
The bottle in my hand had become my new best friend. In the past, I'd always judged The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club for their excessive amounts of drinking. Now, as the amber liquid burned my throat, I could almost see the appeal. And if you can't beat them, join them, right?
A cool breeze nipped at my nose, making me shiver. I ignored it and took another swig. My life had turned into such a cliché- I was sitting on the Astronomy Tower ledge in the middle of the night, drinking away my problems. My feet dangled over the edge. As much as killed me to say it, I was turning into the exact people I didn't want to be. But as I took another sip, I realized I really didn't care.
After I broke up with Tristian last year, mum had been desperate to set me up with another pureblood before all the 'good ones' were taken. I'd expressed an interest in Scorpius (meaning I hadn't hated him), so we'd been unofficially paired up, with the promise that if we found another pureblood we liked, we could choose them.
Marriage. It was a crazy thought, considering my age. I wanted to do something with my life, but it looked like I would just be one of those unhappy housewives who drink away their life. The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club was full of them. I guess it was good I was starting now.
The Astronomy Tower door opened with a bang. Startled, the bottle slipped from my hand. I watched it float through the sky before shattering into a million diamonds on the pavement below. A giggle slipped through my lips.
"What are you doing?" a voice asked, pulling me off of the ledge and onto the solid ground. As I struggled to regain my balance, Potter surveyed me with a curious look. "Are you drunk, Fawley?"
"No." Another giggle escaped, but I was hoping he wouldn't notice.
"So you were just sitting on the ledge for no reason?"
"Maybe." He raised his eyebrows. "What does it matter to you, Potter?" I slurred, barely making real words. "Why are you up here anyway?"
"Wow, you're pissed," he noted. I crossed my arms immaturely. "If you must know, I saw that yo- someone was up here and wanted to make sure they were okay."
"Oh," I sniffed. Honestly it sounded like he was being nice, but I couldn't tell him that. "Well, I'm fine."
"Really? You look like you were hit by a train."
I had a thousand witty remarks on my tongue, but when I stared into his hazel eyes, all I saw was warmth. So instead, I did something I'd never done, and I will always blame on the alcohol I'd just had. I burst into tears. Not small tears- giant ones, filled with wails.
"Oh god," he said, panicked. "Please, stop crying." My sobs got bigger and louder. "I'm sorry, Carina, really. Please stop."
I blamed my fuzzy head for what happened next.
Potter, completely bewildered, decided the only way to get me to stop was to cheer me up. He grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me into a hug, my face smothered in his jacket. It wasn't one of those magical hugs that fixes everything. In fact, it was quite awkward. My arms stayed uselessly by my sides, while he gave me a few short pats on the back.
"Right," he coughed nervously when we broke apart, running a hand through his messy black hair. "All better?"
"Oh, absolutely," I said drily, though my sass wasn't as effective when I was sniffling. "Now that I've gotten a hug from the James Potter, all of my problems are solved."
His once relaxed face twisted in anger. "Well, I forgot this was you we're talking about. God, no one can do anything right by you, can they?"
"Shut up, Potter," I snarled and pushed past him, leaving the tower.
I heard his footsteps behind me. "Hey, you forgot your- oh."
I whipped my head around and saw him scanning my letter. Quickly, I snatched it from his hands. "That's none of your business."
"Carina, I-" he started, but I walked away before he finished.
Somehow I managed to find my way back to Ravenclaw Tower with little difficulty. I had thought I was just a little tipsy, but as I stumbled around the dorm, I realized i might be more of a lightweight than I had thought.
"Car?" Zoe yawned, sitting up. She had her curtains open, and I suppose my clomping around had woken her up. "Are you drunk?"
"A little," I admitted. There was no point in lying to her when she knew the truth.
"Carina Fawley," she scolded, but her face softened when she took a good look at me. "Have you been crying?" I nodded. "Alright, let's get you to bed." She wrapped her arm around me and guided me to my bed, laid me down, and tucked me in. "We'll talk about this in the morning," she said with a warning tone.
"Love you, Zo," I mumbled as she went back to her bed.
"You better," she muttered before shutting her hangings tightly.
It wasn't my thing to drink. I'd seen so many people who just wasted their lives away with a bottle, and I never wanted it to happen to me. However, given who I was influenced by, I never really learned how to cope with my problems any other way. Zoe was as supportive as she could be when I got like this, but she couldn't ever really understand. Few could.
That night as I tried to drift off, I kept on replaying the night in my head. The letter, my future, Potter being prick as usual, then trying to comfort me. It was odd. And the worst thing was that he'd read my letter, which was probably something I wouldn't even share with Zoe. I may have snatched it away, but the damage was done. In his eyes, I saw the one thing I hated to see. Something I always saw in my friends' eyes when I talked about my family.
I never realized how often I saw James Potter until I was trying to avoid him. He was everywhere. In my classes, at meals, in the hallway. It was impossible to get rid of him. Everytime he saw me, I could see his expression change to how one might view a dying niffler. I had turned from some crazy pureblood to a pathetic fool in one night.
"Why are you on the ground?" Ryder asked me, squatting down so he was equivalant to me.
"Just looking for a book," I lied casually as Potter and Fred walked by, oblivious to us.
"Really, I didn't know we were learning about," he scanned the lower section, "Dragons and Their Erogenous Zones. Is that for personal research?"
"Yes, well, one can never have too much knowledge on a dragon's sexual desires," I said, and he shook his head, half laughing. His white teeth contrasted against his dark skin.
"Are you going to tell me the truth, or am I going to have to follow you around, reading this out loud?" He picked up the book and cleared his throat. "The common dragon has fourteen erogenous zones-"
I clamped my hand over his mouth. "Will you stop it," I hissed. He gave me a pointed look. "Fine, if you must know, I was hiding from someone."
"Who?" he asked, his voice still muffled by my hand.
"James Potter," I sighed, taking my hand off.
"Why were you hiding from James Potter!" he exclaimed. I looked around to make sure no one else had heard him. Thankfully, no one was looking at us.
I put my hand back on his mouth. "Please say it louder, I don't think they heard you in the Hufflepuff dorms."
"Sorry," he whispered, sitting next to me on the floor. "So why are you hiding from him?"
"It's a long story, and I haven't quite told Zoe yet." His eyes widened in disbelief. "You know how she is about these things," I added, and he nodded.
"True. Well, if you wanted to talk to someone, you could talk to me. We all know Ben couldn't keep his mouth shut, even with a wand to his throat."
After an internal debate, I decided to tell him everything. Out of all of my friends, Ryder was the one I knew I could tell anything to. I loved Ben and Zoe, but they weren't as good of listeners as Ryder was, and all I needed was for someone to listen to me.
"I see," he said in a professional tone when I finished. "So basically, he knows that you're mum is trying to get you married as soon as possible."
"Not to mention I cried all over him."
"And now he feels sorry for you?"
"Honestly, Car, it doesn't sound that bad." My shocked look made him backtrack. "I mean now he's not going to be bugging you, right?"
"I guess that's true," I agreed. Potter hadn't made any move to talk to me, so maybe he was finally going to leave me alone.
Ryder had to leave for quidditch practice shortly after because the captain, Cameron Whitfield, was determined to win this year.
Apparently, walking down hallways and getting caught in awkward situations was my new thing. I saw a familiar mop of black hair, and all rationalization went out of the window. I jumped in the nearest broom cupboard, just going unnoticed by Fred and Potter. As they came closer to my hiding spot, I heard their conversation.
"-you and Susan are done?" Fred asked, though I wasn't sure what the whole question was.
"Susan and I were hardly a thing," Potter snorted. "She's a nice girl and all, but I don't think I'm what she's looking for."
"Don't be that way, mate. There are plenty of fit girls in this school." I heard Fred pat him on the back.
"Like who?" he scoffed.
Fred paused. "What about that Carina chick?"
I froze at the mention of my name but kept quiet.
"Fawley? No. That could never happen," Potter scoffed, and I'll admit it hurt a bit, but it wasn't surprising.
"Maybe," Fred agreed, "but you have to admit she's bloody fit."
"Obviously, but she's probably way too high maintenance."
I sucked in an angry breath. I was not high maintenance. And this was coming from a guy who probably spent more time on his hair than I did.
"True. What about Midnight? I always hear that the crazy ones are good in the sack," Fred claimed cheerfully. Midnight would kill him for even thinking that thought, so I highly doubted he even stood a chance.
"Why are we talking about this?"
I was wondering this as well. Talking about relationships in the middle of the hall didn't seem conventional. Plus, I was pretty sure my foot was in a bucket, and I didn't think that it was a sponge scurrying around on the floor, so I needed them to move their conversation elsewhere.
"Well we need dates for Hogsmeade," Fred insisted. "I can't bring Al again. He's too expensive of a date. That kid goes through butterbeer like no other."
I snorted, then covered my mouth, hoping they didn't hear. Thankfully, neither of them said anything.
"Aren't you going with Annette?" he asked.
"Sure, but we're going on a double date with you."
"Yeah, so if you don't want to third wheel, I suggest you find someone and fast." I heard Fred's footsteps leave the hallway, soon followed by Potter's. Gently, I pushed the door open, shook the bucket off of my, and exited the broom cupboard.
"Well look who we have here." Potter was casually leaning against the wall when I came out. "You know, it's rude to eavesdrop."
"I wasn't eavesdropping," I said hotly.
"Really? Then what were you doing alone in a broom cupboard?" he asked with his award winning smirk.
"I was just... reading."
"Reading? In a dark broom cupboard?" he asked in disbelief. It wasn't my best life, but if there was anything I learned, it was that I needed to stick to whatever lie I told no matter what.
"Yeah, that's how all the great scholars do it. Lights actually hinder the brain's absorption of information," I said smartly. I had no clue if that was true or not, but I knew he wouldn't either.
"I'm sure." He rolled his eyes. "I actually wanted to talk to you about something else."
"Now's not a good time." I pushed past him, but he gently grabbed my arm and spun me around. Losing my balance, I fell forward, into his chest.
"Sorry," he murmured, steadying me. "I wanted to talk to you about the other night."
"As far as I'm concerned, it never happened," I said through gritted teeth,"and if you tell anyone about what you saw-"
"Jumping off of the Astronomy Tower shouldn't be forgotten," he interrupted, his voice rising.
"Jumping off the Astronomy Tower?" I couldn't help but laugh at how serious he was, which probably mde me look crazier than he'd originally thought.
"I can see from that letter that you may feel pressure from your family, but-"
"I wasn't trying to off myself."
"Then what were you trying to do?" he asked, not believing me.
"I was-" What was I trying to do? Honestly, all logic had gone out of the window because drinking on a ledge was never an intellegent idea. Maybe I was crazy. "Look, it doesn't matter what I was doing. The point is I wasn't trying to intentionally harm myself."
"That's what someone who was trying to harm themself would say!"
"Can you stop pretending like you care?" I crossed my arms and tilted my chin up.
"I'm not pretending. I really do care." His eyes were pleading, and I wanted to believe every word he said, which is why I couldn't.
"Whatever," I said cooly. "Can't you go back to being an arse? It was easier that way."
"Whatever you want, princess," he bit back before rolling his eyes and leaving.
A part of me knew he was being genuine. I wasn't sure why- maybe it was pity, or maybe he was finally realizing I wasn't who he thought I was- but something had changed. Unfortunately, I couldn't take the risk of being friendly with him.
Scorpius and Jesse had been best mates since birth, and not because they were forced to be like others in our group. They would've easily been friends whether or not our parents were. Together, they were on the quidditch team, under the brutal leadership of Dexter Carrow, another position bought for him by his farther. This time in the form of new brooms and a section of the library.
After every practice, I was deemed as the official therapist. Basically, they needed to complain, and I apparently had nothing better to do.
"I swear he purposely hit that bludger at me," Scorpius insisted, clutching his bruised arm. I had to stop myself from laughing at his ratty blonde hair, which would surely give him a heart attack when he saw.
"Actually that was me," Jesse said, casually laying back on the couch. He had also been at practice, but he looked perfectly normal. He probably had a date. "Sorry, the reflection of your hair temporarily blinded me."
At this, I couldn't stop my laughter, not even when Scorpius turned to glare at me. "Aren't you supposed to be defending my honour or something?" he whined. Scorpius whined more than I did; something I heard ran in the family.
"Ahem- sorry." I slapped Jesse on his head, messing up his artfully placed blonde hair. "Be nice."
"I tried," I said, shrugging. Scorpius muttered somthing to himself, sat down next to me, and sulked.
The other Slytherins ignored my presence in their common room. By now, it was a normal thing, and I was pretty much an honourary Slytherin- something I wore with as much pride as someone with a Troll on their OWLs. They actually told me their password, so I could come and go as I pleased.
"If you lovebirds will excuse me," Jesse said, standing up and stretching, "I've gotta hot date with Griselda Nott. No shagging on my bed!" he called as he left, causing everyone else in the room to stare at us.
"Well there goes my plan for tonight," Scorpius joked, shaking his head in disappointment.
"Sod off," I laughed, pushing him away.
Scorpius and I had been close since before our parents suggested we 'date'. It was mostly because Scorpius was Tristian's cousin, and the two of them had been practically brothers. After Tristian left, Scorpius and I bonded over our mutual losses, and while we both lost him, obviously Scorpius lost more. However, I showed him something that no one else did. Sympathy.
"What are you doing for Hogsmeade?" I asked later. Our first Hogsmeade trip was two weeks away, so naturally our elite group was going out for an elite brunch at an elite restaurant.
"Nothing," he said casually, looking out of the window. "Why?"
"Ophelia decided all of the seventh years should go out for brunch," I huffed, rolling my eyes. "Aren't you all going out?"
"Well I think Jesse's taking Griselda, so we didn't plan anything," he replied.
"Come with me then," I suggested. "It'll b-"
"I can't," he quickly interrupted me.
"Why not?" His eyes flicked around, and he licked his lips nervously.
"I have.. homework." After his blatant lie, he ran up the stairs to his dorm. I could have easily followed him, but if he wanted to tell me what was wrong, I knew he would.
The hallway was quiet as the four of us tried to sneak into the common room through the night's shadows. Well, Ryder and I tried to sneak around. Ben and Zoe had apparently decided to see who could be louder.
"We're rebels!" she cried, throwing her arms in the air. Her brown curls bounced as she skipped around.
"They can't handle us!" Ben howled before tripping over his own feet.
"We fell asleep in the library," Ryder drawled. "We aren't rebels, we're nerds."
"And if you don't shut up," I added, "we'll be nerds with detentions."
They pouted and walked ahead of us, sulking. "We're such badasses," Ben whispered to Zoe, who nodded in agreement.
This wasn't the first time we'd fallen asleep in the library, but it was the first time we were this late for curfew. The prefects or teachers who caught us would not be forgiving, especially if those two refused to quit parading down the hall.
"Did you gear that?" Ryder asked nervously, again.
"Ryder, I think-"
"Wait," Ben held up his hand, stopping me, "I think I heard it too."
We stood there, listening to the sound of footsteps right aroud the corner.
"Okay, everyone remain calm," Ryder whispered. "What we need to do-"
"EVERY MAN FOR THEMSELVES!" Ben called, pushing me down and running in the opposite direction. "RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!"
Ryder grabbed Zoe by the waist and they disappeared into the shadows. By the time I stood up, it was too late to run, so I did the only logical thing. I covered my face with my hands.
The footsteps turned down the hall an stopped in front of me. "Fawley?" I groaned inwardly, immediately recognizing the voice. I peeked through my fingers and confirmed my suspisions. Potter was in front of me, holding a folded, ancient piece of parchment. "Just because your face is covered doesn't men I can't see you."
"I know that," I said, putting down my hands. "Now if you'll excuse me-"
"Shh!" He held up a finger and looked at his parchment. "Fuck," he muttered.
"What are you-"
"Come here," he cut me off, pulling me into a door that was pretending to be a wall. It turned out to be a cramped cupboard. Our bodies were pressed together, and he was breathing right on my neck.
"What are you doing?" I asked, outraged. He blocked the door.
"Will you shut up, people are coming, and I don't know about you, but I don't fancy a detention," he hissed.
"How do you know?"
"I just do," he snapped, "and could you shut up? You're going to get us caught."
"No! Don't tell me wh-"
He clamped his hand over my mouth. "Be quiet, or I will make you." I glared as he dropped his hand
"Are you threatening me? I swear, Potter, I will-"
I didn't get to finish my threat.
Instead, my body was pressed further against the wall, with Potter's mouth attached to mine. I want to say that his kiss had no effect on me, and that I just pushed him away, but it didn't happen like that. My hands instinctively pulled him closer before running my fingers through his messy black hair, while his rested on my hips.
This was completely new. I'd always heard about feeling electricity or fireworks, but I didn't feel them this time. I felt air. It was coarsing through my veins, causing the two of us to float around, yet we were both firmly planted on the ground. A weight was off my shoulders, and I felt a relief that no drug could give me.
We broke apart at the same time. "Wow," he breathed, resting his forehead against mine. Obviously, he was thinking the same thing as mine. Fortunately, I realized what I had done.
I pushed him back forcefully. "What the fuck was that, you tosser?"
His dazed look hardened. "Well, I had to do something. Plus, you seemed pretty into it." The cold smirk on his face didn't hold its usual humour, and I thought I may have actually offended him.
"Obviously you misread the situation," I lied, reaching for the door. "Now if you'll excuse me."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
"And just why not?" I raised a challenging eyebrow.
"Featherby and his cat are lurking, and Dexter and Midnight are patolling a few halls over."
I didn't want to believe him, and I certainly didn't want to be stuck in here with him any longer, but I couldn't take the risk. Our caretaker, Peter Featherby, took no prisoners when it came to students out of bed. They would be brought to their head of house and have a letter sent home. I wasn't sure about Dexter and Midnight's policy, but I didn't fancy finding out.
Sitting down on the dirty floor, I decided to sulk until I could be sure it was safe to leave. Potter sat as well, but because of how cramped we were, his legs tangled with mine, and our faces were centimeters apart.
"Carina," he whispered, breaking the silence a few minutes later. I didn't respond. "Really, you're not going to say anything?"
"Sorry, I was under the impression that you didn't me to talk," I whispered back snidely. He rolled his eyes, and we went back to our silence.
Three minutes later, he blurted out two words I was sure he'd never said in his life, "I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry," he repeated, slightly louder. "And not just for earlier. I've been a bit of a prick all year."
"Haha," he mocked drily. "I've seen the fault in my ways, don't I get some credit?"
"Sure. All is forgiven. I've got bigger things to worry about anyway," I shrugged. An apology was the last thing I'd expected. James Potter had been an arrogant prat his entire life, so I didn't know why he was changing now.
"Can I ask you a question?" he asked.
"You just did," I replied smartly. "But I guess I could allow another one."
"Why were you really on the tower the other night?" His eyes bore into me, and there was no place to hide here.
"I- I just needed a break from reality, and a peceful place to let all of my pressure out." Something about his presence made me tell him things I wouldn't tell anyone. Honestly, I almost forgot who I was talking to.
"They're not- you're not being forced into a marriage, are you?" he asked, his eyes looked more concerned than judgemental. Also a new for him.
"Hardly," I scoffed. "I can't give you all of the details, but trust me, they can't force me to do anything." He breathed a sigh of a relief. "What's with the sudden personality change anyway? I was under the impersonation you hated all of 'us'."
"Just seeing you like that," he paused, thinking of the right thing to say, "it changed how I saw you. I always thought you all were a bunch of death eaters who hated muggles and wanted to rule the world. But you obviously aren't into it like they are. After years of you hanging out with Parker, Smith, and Thomas, I think, deep down, I knew you weren't like them, but that would've meant admitting I was wrong."
"Well, I always thought you were an arrogant prat who thought he ruled the world," I stated.
"And?" He waited for me to continue.
"Oh, that's all," I smirked, but he wasn't as amused. "Okay, so you're not as horrible as I thought-"
"Aw, you're making me blush."
"-it's sweet how much you care about your family. Perhaps I misjudged you as well."
We sat in a comfortable silence after that. At some point, his hand was resting on my knee, and just the touch made my heart pound. I was sure he could hear it, but when I looked at him, he was zoned out, staring at the ceiling.
My thoughts were on our kiss. In my past experiences- which was basically just Tristian- I hadn't felt like I had. Something told me he felt the same way, as I kept seeing him look at my lips when he thought I wasn't looking. Surely after all we'd been through we weren't attracted to each other. Hell, just a couple of weeks ago we were ready to kill each other.
Yes, he was attractive, anyone could see that, but that didn't mean anything. He was Potter, and there was no way he felt anything like that for me. I certainly didn't feel that way about him. The lack of oxygen in the cupboard was just getting to me.
"Carina, we're clear," he said, snapping me from my thoughts.
"Oh, right." He helped me stand up, and I dusted myself off before we squeezed out of the door. As I walked back to the common room, I noticed he was following me. "Do you need something?"
"I'm just going to make sure you get back safely. Is that okay with you?" he asked politely, a hint of a smirk on his face.
"Absolutely." A small smile played on my lips as we continued down the hall. "Can I ask you something?"
"You just did," he repeated my words from earlier, "but I suppose you could ask something else." By this point, we were just outside of the Ravenclaw Common Room.
"Why did you kiss me?" I wasn't brave enough to look him in the eye.
His hand glided under my chin, gently tilting it up so I was entranced by his hazel eyes. "Why do you think?" he whispered in my ear, sending chills up my spine, and then disappeared down the hall.
I was alone, confused, and warm at the same time, yet I don't think I'd ever felt more alive.
A/N: I want to start off by thanking everyone who has left a review. It really does mean so much, and you all are the reason that this chapter was written!
So, obviously, this story isn't going to be one of those stories where the main characters don't get together until the end. While I love those kinds of stories, I can't write them. However, I do want to know if any of you feel it's too rushed because I would hate for it to be unrealistic and too fast paced.
Please let me know what you thought!
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