Chapter 11 : A Great Start to the Holidays
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It was slushing outside. The sky was not blue or white, it was gray and dreary, much like my attitude. Falling from the sky was not quite rain, but not quite snow. It was slush. Given the circumstances, I would expect nothing less.
"Car- um, Carina," Zoe said hesitantly. I slowly turned my head from the window to look at her. She was bundled up in her new winter clothes and had her trunk in her hand. "The train's going to be leaving soon..."
"Oh.... right," I replied, nodding and quickly gathered my things.
To say this past week had been horrible was an understatement. Zoe had apologized before deciding that she and Ryder should give me space. They started sitting at a new spot in the common room, the Great Hall, and even classes. Ben, not wanting to pick sides, chose to spend every waking moment with Susan. Even Scorpius was MIA, though I assume it had something to do with a certain red-head Weasley.
And James, well things were going so well in that department either. I was prepared for anger, a full on duel in the corridor. A part of me hoped he would be moping around, so I knew he was as upset as I was. Instead, he completely ignored me, and not like he used to, which was always with a hint of hostility. No, it was like I was completely and utterly invisible. The one time we had made eye contact it was like he looked right through me.
Now, I had to push all of this from my mind, because based on the countless passive aggressive letters I'd recieved from my mum, I had a busy holiday ahead of me.
"Car?" Zoe, who I thought had left, was standing halfway out of the door, looking concerned. "Is everything okay?"
"I know you're still mad, but I just want you to know you're my best friend in the whole world, and I will never, ever keep something like this from you ever again. I swear," she proclaimed breathlessly. "Please forgive me, or I'll die," she added with a touch of Zoe flair.
"Well, I would hate for you to die," I replied thoughtfully, a smile creeping onto my face.
Zoe squealed and proceded to crush me into a hug. "Let's never fight again."
"Good, I have so much to tell you!"
"Zo, it's been a week."
"That's like a century in Hogwarts gossip time."
My brief elation from making up with Zoe did not last long. The sky was even darker, and the train was moving so slow it may has well have been moving backwards. Meanwhile, I was stuck in a compartment with Ben, Susan, Ryder, and Zoe, each with their own level of sickening lovestruck attitudes.
I didn't want to be a downer, but Merlin seeing happy people really made me want to vomit.
"Car, are you okay?" Zoe asked, breaking from her gooey looks at Ryder.
A sound similar to a plunger came from the seat next to me. "Car, you're still in here?" Ben asked. His blonde hair was sticking out all over the place, and his lips were swollen and bright red. Susan gave me a casual smile from his lap.
"Yes, and I'm fine," I said, standing up. "I'm just going to run to the loo."
"Do you want me to go with you?" Zoe asked.
"No. Stay. I'll... be right back." She didn't look convinced, but she returned to her seat next to Ryder.
The second I stepped out of the compartment, I could breathe better. I hated that I couldn't be happy for my friends, but I couldn't help but feel a little jealous that I would never have what they had. Not if my mother had anything to do with it.
I chewed my lip and stared at the floor as I walked to the bathroom, successfully running into the messy haired boy in front of me. I got knocked back by the force and would've fallen if it hadn't had been for a strong pair of arms catching me.
My heart stopped as I took in the familiar arms, hair, and face, but something was off. The eyes. Instead of the warm hazel brown, they were bright emerald green.
"Wotcher there," Albus Potter, James's little brother, said, a smile spreading across his face. He helped me to my feet. "You all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry," I replied, straightening my clothes and avoinding his eyes. I doubted he knew who I was, but that didn't stop my embarrassment.
"You look familiar," he said, trying to catch my eye. "Are you a sixth year."
"Seventh," I answered, finally looking at him. "And I don't believe we've met."
"Oh, well, I'm-"
"Al, did you get those pumpkin pasties?" James, followed by Fred came out of the nearest compartment. "There you are. Oh, you're... busy." James barely glanced at me before turning back to Al.
"Fawley," Fred greeted with a smirk.
"Weasley, always a pleasure," I quipped with a fake smile.
"What are you doing with Fawley here anyway?" Fred asked. James perked his head up, eagar for a response. "I doubt your blood is pure enough."
"Ah, that's where I've seen you," Al said, looking me over again. "You hang out with The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club."
"Yep," I snapped.
"She trying to coerce you into something? Maybe a sacrifice of one less pure?" Fred asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Knock it off, Fred. We just bumped into each other." Al winked at me, and I couldn't help but give him a small smile. He was so much more relaxing than his brother.
Fred and James went back to there compartment, losing interest, and they didn't look back. Not that I was expecting him- I mean them- to.
"I better go," I said awkwardly.
"Yeah, me too. I'll see you around, Fawley," he nodded.
"It' Carina, actually."
"I'll see you around, Carina," he amended.
"Carina, your grandparents will be here in five minutes," my mother called from down stairs. "Please be decent."
What she said was simple, but what she meant was far more complicated. My grandparents, her parents, were.... well let's just say the apple didn't fall far from the tree. They were rich, strict, old- fashioned purebloods, and I had more dresscode for a dinner with them than at Hogwarts.
I couldn't wear yellow (because it washed me out, according to my grandmother). I couldn't wear heels. If my hair was longer than my shoulders, it must be pulled back. And I could only wear clothing above my knee if... actually, that could never happen unless I was ready to be disowned.
Taking a deep breath, I checked my reflection one last time. I had chosen a new, pale pink dress that went past my knees and the silver family heirloom jewelry set I had gotten for Christmas two years ago. My blonde hair was pinned back, and I double checked that not a strand was out of place. I didn't want to have that argument again.
Slowly, I walked down our grand marble staircase. Mother and father were already lined up by the door, ready to greet my grandparents.
My dad smiled and nodded at me as I lined up with them.
"Stand up straight," was all mother said.
The doorbell rang, and one of our many maids, Nina, opened the door. "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Rowle, come in. May I take your coats."
Armani and Calista Rowle stood there in all there glory. Grandmother had her gray hair twisted into a tight bun on the back of her head, which really enhanced the sharp features of her face. Grandfather, as usual stood subtly in the background, his face a mixture of boredom and scariness.
"Yes, thank you," my grandmother said crisply. She gave her fur coat to the maid with a hint of disgust. Grandfather followed in suit, and grandmother started in on us.
She paced the floor, inspecting our appearances. As usual, she started with mother, her only daughter, and the disappointment of the family.
"Good evening mother," my mother greeted her politely. "I am so glad you could join us."
"Well, Norma, seeing this is the only time of year that my own daughter bothers to contact me, I figured we could make the trip."
"Sorry, mother." The false look of happines was wiped from mother's face and was replaced with a stone cold look to hide her true feelings.
"Relax your face, you'll get more wrinkles," grandmother snapped before moving on.
"Norma," grandfather said with a nod.
"Father." And with that, he moved on. Grandfather wasn't big on meaningless conversations.
"Sullivan, I see retirement's treating you well," grandmother told my dad. "Must be easy to retire so young when you have the security of my family's money.
My father was a simple man, and he had yet to learn the double meaning behind my grandmother's words. "Yes it is. Thank you, Calista." Oh how she hated that he called her Calista.
"You're welcome, dear," she responded with a tight smile.
Grandmother's demure heels clicked on our marbles floor and stopped in front of me.
"Shoulder's back. Rowle women don't slouch."
"Hmm." She pursed her lips as she observed me. "Tall, but graceful. Little bit of a stomach, but that can be fixed. Ah, but you've always had the most beautiful skin." Her hand grazed over my cheek.
"Thank you, grandmother."
"What do you think, Armani?" Grandmother turned to my grandfather with a smile, a rarity on my grandmother.
"Yes, she'll make a good wife."
My stomach sank. Of course. I was my grandmother's only chance at redemption. My mother had a difficult time finding someone of high status, so she was stuck with my father, who didn't exactly share our family values, but a pureblood is a pureblood.
To my grandparents, though I wasn't in Slytherinas they'd prefer, I was a gem and could bring the family name as high up as it used to be. This had been evident since I was twelve.
"Dinner's ready," Nina announced, breaking the tension that had been building.
"Lovely, I am absolutely famished," grandmother said and strutted into the dining room without looking back.
I followed after theadults, mentally preparing myself for the (not so) passive aggressive remarks from my grandmother. At least dinner would be good.
I pushed my green beans around my plate with my fork, despately hoping a fire would erupt. I knew it was insane, but dinner was only halfway over, and I just wanted to hide under the table. When I was younger, I was able to get away with only saying a few words, but now it seemed all the attention was on me.
Grandmother asked me about everything. How was school? What was I taking? How were my marks? How were my friends?
Then she asked the question I had been dreading.
"Carina, have you found any potential husbands?"
She gazed at me with her intruding dark eyes, and my palm became sweaty. Before I could answer no, mother stepped in.
"Draco's son, Scorpius, is going to propose soon. Astoria and I have been working out the details," she said, practically begging for grandmother's approval.
Grandmother pursed her lips. "A... Malfoy?"
The Malfoy named carried a lot of weight in the pureblood community. At least it did once upon a time. However, there were several families who looked down upon them because of their actions after the war. Many purebloods on the losing side were sent to Azkaban, but not the Malfoys, which many, including my grandparents, think was because they turned people in to save themselves.
Needless the say, in my grandmother's eyes the Malfoys were below us.
"Yes, Scorpius Malfoy, mother. He's a rescpectable match, given the circumstances," mother replied gently. "He's a year behind Carina, but after he graduates, he has a job lined upin the Ministry."
Grandmother's stone cold face remained unwavered. "I see. Still, he's no Tristian."
Hearing his name still made my heart race. Tristian Bulstrode was the perfect suitor. He was well-bred, wealthy, had a great job lined up, and he was incredibly charming. I loved him, my parents loved him, but my grandparents loved him the most. When he ditched The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club, we were all heartbroken.
I hadn't thought about him in a while, but memories started flooding in. He was the one who really made me see all the scandalous and terrible things that went on in our little society. In fact, he tried to get me to run off with him, but I didn't have the nerve he did. The last time I had seen him was at the end of the summer, but I knew I couldn't risk seeing him again.
"Well, Tristian isn't here, mother, but Scorpius is, so he'll simply have to do," mother said with shocking finallity. The apple certainly didn't fall far from the tree.
Grandmother arched an eyebrow, but otherwise showed no sign of shock at mother's borderline rudeness. "I suppose you're right, Norma."
And with that, the subject of marriage was dropped....
For the night at least.
My house was as grand as a castle; it was something mother inherited. I probably had not been to every room, nor would I want to. Being an only child, growing up here was rather lonely, but I always adored the library. It was very Ravenclaw of me, I supposed.
Our library was bigger than the one at school, with shelves of books as tall as the ceiling. I trailed my fingers across the book's spines, some tattered, some unread. Finally, I selected a rather thick book, covered lightly in dust. Sitting in the plush armchair by the window. After ten measly pages, I slammed the book shut and picked another one.
Fifteen books later, I had given up. Why on Earth could there not be a single book that didn't have a poor Mary Sue that needed to be saved by Prince Charming? Couldn't there be a book where a girl solves her own problems, and maybe, just maybe, she finds a guy who respects that she's indepedent? Or better yet, no guy. Just a girl solving her own problems by herself.
"There you are, Carina."
I was interrupted of my feminism thoughts by my mother. She was dressed in a nice cocktail dress, and she already looked as though she'd been drinking.
"Hello, mother. You look lovely."
"Thank you, darling. Why haven't you gotten ready?"
I furrowed my brows, not sure what I was meant to be ready for. Mother and father were going to the Yaxleys for a cocktail party, but I wasn't meant to go.
"For what?" I asked. "I thought you and father were the ones going to the Yaxleys?"
"Jesse is having a party. Don't you remember?"
I briefly remembered recieving an invite, which I promptly threw away, but I guess his mother had talked to mine.
"And your father isn't going," she added, tilting her chin up.
"Why not?" Father never missed an event, as it wasn't like he had anything else to do.
"He is not feeling well," she answered quickly. "Now get ready."
I sighed, knowing I didn't have an option. Jesse was family after all.
On my bed was a red party dress mother must have just bought for me, as it still had the tag on it. It was too short, tight, and lowcut for my taste. More like something Ophelia would want. Still, I put it on, along with the new heels mother had bought with it. There was no way I would be able to get out of the party.
The doorbell rang downstairs.
"Miss Carina," Nina called. "Mr. Malfoy is here for you."
I didn't remember asking Scorpius to come over, but sure enough when I came downstairs, he was there, dressed in the appropriate casual formal attire.
"Don't you look dapper," I teased, smoothing down his sweater sleave.
He scowled. "Mum made me wear this." His steel gray eyes trailed over my exposed legs. "I assume yours got to you too?" he asked with a smirk.
It was my turn to scowl. "Let's go."
Nina handed me my coat, and we walked outside to the apparation site. There was already a light layer of snow covering the ground.
"Did we plan on you picking me up?" I asked as we walked.
"No, but I figured since we can't go with who we really wanted, we could go together," he replied shyly.
I nearly stopped in my tracks. "Wh-what do you mean?" I asked, covering my shaky voice as a shiver.
"Well, you know I'm with... Rose," he whispered the last part. "And I know you're still hung up on Tristian."
I let out the breath I'd been holding. "Oh."
I wasn't sure what to say. A part of me wanted to tell him everything about James. After all, Scorpius had been upfront about Rose. However, something in me told me it wasn't a good idea, so I said nothing more.
"It's okay, Carina. I understand that you're not over him. You loved him, he left, and you never got closure." He put a supportive hand on my shoulder, staring into my eyes. "Look, he's my cousin, and I'm sure I could find him if you wanted..."
"No," I replied quickly."I'm fine. It's for the best."
He nodded and changed the subject, but I was hardly paying attention.
The thing was, I had gotten closure from Tristian. I had seen him, talked to him, and slept with him one last time. A part of me will always love him, but I didn't feel like I used to. And it was then that I realized that in getting over him, I had developed feeling for someone else.
James freaking Potter.
Scorpius had a concerned look on his face. "I asked if you were ready?"
I linked my arm in his, and I immediately felt like we were being sucked into a tube. My head was spinning out of control, and just when I thought I would never breathe again, we were dropped on the dewy grass of Jesse's yard.
Scorpius helperd steady me, knowing apparating wasn't my thing. "You good?"
"I'm great," I said with my most convincing smile.
Jesse's house was twice as big as mine. After all, he was a Rowle, carrying on the family name. We rang the medieval doorbell and were greeted by a timid maid.
"For young Master Rowle?" she asked lowly.
"Yes," I replied, stepping in with Scorpius. She took our coats and put them in the closet. "We can find it ourselves," I told her when she tried to follow us.
Jesse always held his party in the south wing of his house, in the den next to his room. His parents rarely ventured on this side of the house, so as long as no one got hurt, we could get away with whatever we wanted.
I knocked on the door three times. Jesse answered with a huge smile. His eyes we foggy and he smelled like smoke.
"Carina! Scorp! You made it!" He quickly pulled us in. "Guys, look who made it!" Every teen in in The Sacred Twenty-Eight Club were here, excluding the ones on vacation and the ones deemed too young. "Here you go," Jesse handed us each a brownie, "party favors," he explained, winking.
I took a small bite from the corner. "You made these?" Scorpius asked, taking a second bite of his.
"Well I certainly couldn't have mother made them," he laughed. "I also added extra butter. It's supposed to strengthen the high, and based on Griselda, I think I can atesst that that's true."
We all turned to look at Griselda Travers, a sixth year, who was currently walking in circles, nodding her head to a beat that no one else to the beat. Finally, she tossed her blonde hair back and plopped down on the floor, presumably to take a short nap.
"Lovely," I drawled, as Lilith Nott, Griselda's best friend, sat down next to her. They both started laughing at absolutely nothing.
"What else are they on?" Scorpius asked. I noticed he'd already finished his brownie.
"Oh, I hit the jackpot, my friends," Jesse bragged, pulling out a small vial of purple liquid. "Mum's happy potions, as I call them. Two of these and you'll have the best night of your life."
"Carina!" Ophelia came from nowhere and attacked me in a hug. Her breath smelled like firewhiskey, and based on her eyes, I could tell she'd had at least two of Jesse's mum's potions.
"Hey, Ophelia." I returned her hug, though it wasn't as enthusiastic.
"Come on, you have to see what Damien brought!" she exclaimed, yanking me by the arm.
I waved to Scorpius and Jesse as she dragged me over to a couch. Midnight and Dexter were on vacation, which left me, Ophelia, Damien, Roscoe, and Willow on the couch. Damien was holding a glass pipe that was changing colours.
"Look who I found!" Ophelia squealed. She tried to sit next to Damien, but he quickly pulled me down into the empty seat next to him.
"Hey, Carina, take a hit." He handed me the pipe and lit his wand.
I shrugged and took a giant hit, filling my lungs with the fruity tasting smoke. "What is that?" I coughed, exhaling.
"Not entirely sure," Damien said, taking another his, "but it is strong."
The room seemed bigger, and the colours just seemed more colourful. My head was resting on the arm of the chair, and I could have almost fallen asleep. Almost. Unfortunately, any kind of drug somehow made Ophelia more obnoxious, and a part of me thought she was just faking. She would not stop talking.
Just as I was going to tell Ophelia off, which would have been a death wish, I spotted her brother, Levi, across the room. Suddenly, I was so angry with him, and I felt now was the time I should tell him off for him and Lily.
I stood up and made a beeline towards him, noticing his eyes widen when he saw me coming. He knew my secret, and I knew his, so approaching him was not a smart thing to do, but I didn't care. I was pissed off.
The room was huge, and it took forever to get halfway to him. Luckily, I was interrupted by Scorpius.
"Carina, are you okay?" he asked.
Then, it was like every emotion hit me at once. I was guilty for not telling him about James. I was feeling stupid because I did not do things like getting high and trying to tell off some fourteen year old. And I certainly didn't let myself get attached to someone like James Potter.
I didn't have the ability to say anything, so I just cried, and I simply couldn't stop.
"Shh," Scorpius cooed, pulling me into a hug and stroking my hair. "It's all going to be okay." I just sniffled and hugged him tighter. "Want me to take you home?"
I nodded my head, and just like that, we were outside of my house. He walked me to my door without a word, kissed my forehead, and left with a pop.
When I walked inside, I stared at my towering staircase and knew there was no way I was going to make it all the way. Instead, I walked down the east hallway to stay in one of our guest rooms.
The fact that the door was slightly ajar should have tipped me off. The fact that the light was on should have signaled something to me. The fact that I heard people talking really should have alerted me, but in that moment, the only thing on my mind was sleeping off whatever I was on. However, once I pushed open the door I immediately sobered up.
My father was in quite a compromising position with someone who was not my mother.
For a second, I stood there, not knowing what to do. Then, I bolted. I made it all the way up the stairs and into my room. I closed my door and slid down to the floor, completely out of breath.
"What. The. Fuck."
Well, this holiday was off to a great start.
A/N: I haven't updated since last year!!!!
Okay, but for real, I feel like it's been awhile (which it totally has!) and I'm soo sorry! I really have no excuse except lots of real life work, and lack of a flow...
Anyways, here it is! Was it everything you hoped and dreamed? Carina finally decided how she felt about James a little to late (or is it?). Also, you met her lovely grandparents! Let me know what you thought!
I'm so so excited about the next chapter! It's actually one of the first chapters I thought of when I started this story, so hopefully I can get it out quickly!
Thanks for sticking with me even though I've been totally MIA!
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