Chapter 7 : Explanation
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Hannah and I sat together in the library.
Both engrossed in our homework.
The day was drawing to an end. Dinner was soon to be served. Hannah had been working on a Herbology essay. Amalthea and Robert Greengrass had left our table after finishing their homework to go to the Great Hall.
I spared a glance at Hannah. With each passing moment I saw her grow impatient. Her eyes were fixated upon the book open in front of her, but weren’t reading the text. She picked up her quill again, shuffling it between her fingers, kept it back down, rolled and unrolled her parchment. She ran her hand through her hair, until letting out a frustrated sigh and saying:
‘Okay. I have to ask.’
‘About time.’ I snapped shut the book I was reading about advanced charms. I sat up straighter in my chair, giving her my full attention. I slightly raised my eyebrows as to prompt her to continue.
Hannah sighed, looked away and then met my eye.
‘Were you and Edward ever a thing?’
I smirked a little at her. She briefly shut her eyes, as if ashamed to be saying the next sentence; her face turning crimson as she spoke.
‘I mean, did you ever fancy him?’, she asked uneasily. ‘Did he fancy you? You two are awfully close. I can’t seem to remember a time when you two weren’t together. I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if you two have dated in the past...’
‘No.’ I said simply, effectively cutting off her rambling.
There was a pause. I leaned in a little.
‘Never during this entire time then?’
‘Never.’ I reconfirmed.
She looked down onto her books again, contemplating what to say next.
‘There’s something else too?’ I questioned.
‘Not even last Christmas?’
‘No Christmas ever.’
I smiled at her this time. I considered whether to tell her what I was about to say next or not, then decided to say it anyway.
‘Hannah. Do you remember when you were a first year and you fell into the lake?’
‘I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. I think eleven-year-old me still holds a grudge against Harris. Too bad that idiot’s my friend now.’
We both smiled at the memory.
‘Ed has liked you since that day.’
‘What?’ Hannah’s eyes grew the size of saucers.
‘I’ve been teasing him about it since then.’
‘I didn’t know that.’
‘I don’t expect you to Hannah. He’s always been shy. I know the relationship feels new and uncertain, and Ed not being around definitely does not help with that, but, just hang in there. The healers said he’ll wake up this week, remember. His bones are already healing.’
I offered her another friendly smile. Why does my face not hurt from all this consistent smiling?
‘Yeah. I guess you’re right. I just. I always thought that he looked at me as the nerdy Ravenclaw from the year below. I’ve liked him too, you know. For a while now. He’s kind and caring. And smart. And that one time we kissed last year before the winter break, I think I’ve fancied him since then. And when he finally asked me out, he had a near to death experience. Then I start to think that maybe we aren’t meant to be. I don’t know...’
She trailed off, her eyes watery; she fidgeted with her fingers in her lap looking away.
‘Don’t think like that.’
‘I don’t want to go to Rose’s birthday anymore. She won’t be happy when I tell her that... ’ She trailed off again. Until she looked at me with puppy dog eyes, the gesture oddly reminding me of Ed. Did he teach her too? He’d gotten so much done with just that one innocent look. Hannah really was beautiful, bright green eyes, hair that fell in blonde waves around her like a halo against her equally pale skin. She tucked a stray strand behind her ear.
‘Will you come with me?’
I studied her for a moment.
‘No offence. But it’s your house party. You’ll know everyone there.’
‘I’d still want you to come with me. These past few days have been just too peculiar. No one understands that better than you.’
She had a point. The other day at lunch Rose and Susan, another Ravenclaw from their year, had said that Hannah had been acting a little weird lately. The accident had put everyone on edge, no doubt and the fact that the culprit was roaming around freely was no consolation either.
‘Fine. But Mike’s coming along too. We three can go together then. Where is the party anyway?’
‘Room of requirements.’
And what a party it was.
Hannah and I had decided to meet outside her common room, along with Mike. She was wearing dark blue jeans and a drop shouldered, floral, pink top. I on the other hand was in much formal clothing. A black dress that stopped mid thigh, paired with stockings and ballet flats. At least I wasn’t the only one overdressed; Mike looked just as arrogant as me in his button down white shirt paired with black pants and dragon hide shoes. To an onlooker, we surely did look like an ideal, teenage, pureblood couple; keeping up the pretences well.
As we entered, the ambience of the party took over all of my senses. Loud music was drowning out any other noise, the air was filled with the sting of alcohol and cigarettes, flashing lights were blinding me every now and then. The room resembled the epitome of all things unhealthy about a teenage school experience.
Everyone was here. I saw Freddie behind the bar, serving drinks, performing tricks, his own pool of fan girls gathered around him. Next I spotted Matt with Dom, both on the dance floor. Charlie was there too, with a Hufflepuff I had a hard time remembering the name of. Rose and Scorpious stood a little sideways amongst a group of fellow sixth years. I even saw Amalthea, Robert, Madeline, Ivor and Henry standing in a corner; the Slytherins were here courtesy of Scorpious obviously.
‘You made it!’ I turned sideways at the sound of Susan Sanders who effectively dragged Hannah away with her the minute we entered.
‘Let’s get a drink.’ Mike shouted into my ear over the music from beside me.
‘I thought you’d never ask.’
We pushed through the crowd to make our way to the bar. Mike managed to get us both firewhiskies over the hurdle of girls standing by, a fair share ogling him too.
Just as he reached me pressing my drink into my hand, one of Freddie’s fan girls crawled up to him, curling her fingers around his upper arm, tossing her hair over her shoulder flirtatiously. It was Jessica Hudson, a seventh year muggleborn Gryffindor who hated my guts. She recoiled a little under Mike’s calculating gaze and cold smirk. He seemed to be having this effect on girls a lot. He could entice them and intimidate them both at the same time, capture them in a fleeting moment.
‘Go for it.’ I shouted into his ear, squeezing his arm a little. Mike smiled at me in return, he barely ever smiled. I turned away from him making my way towards the wall nearby where the sofas were placed. I perched myself on the arm of one of the sofa’s, observing the scene before me. I saw Mike say something to Jessica; she looked away a little, ashamed was it?
‘I knew you’d make it.’
The area around the sofa’s had been charmed to block out some of the music, I knew this because I could listen to other conversations happening around me. But deafening music or pin drop silence, I knew I’d recognise his voice anywhere; it always seemed to find me amongst the crowd, wherever I went. Though I had been searching for him too, the minute I had stepped into this room. I only sipped on my drink in response.
Isobel -0, James-1
‘What? No insult? No demeaning remark? Am I growing onto you Lestrange?’
I scoffed to show how absurd I found his comment, keeping up the charade.
‘So you’re just going to ignore me then?’ I felt him whisper from beside me, his warm breath tickling my ear. I was very well aware of the alcohol on his breath; it mingled with the scent of his perfume and aftershave, the resultant fragrance clouding all my senses with heat. My body responded instantly to it, the reaction a reflex action, I leaned into his broad frame as it over crowded my personal space.
‘If only you’d take the hint.’ I slammed my bottle of firewhisky against his chest. The fabric of his grey t-shirt was thin. I could feel his muscles through the material. Electricity pulsed through me where my fingers grazed him, turning my already fuzzy mind into a more muddled mess. James fingers curled around mine and the bottle I pressed into his front. I pushed myself off the sofa, detaching myself from James. I swear, I have no self control around this one. I felt his eyes on my retreating back as I walked away.
I made a beeline towards Mike, who stood alone by the bar now, sans Jessica Hudson. I knew James was hot on his heels behind me. So I did the only rational thing that I could think of. I grabbed Mike by the sleeve, dragging him to the dance floor through the crowd. As the song changed, I wrapped my arms around Mike’s neck, his hands rested comfortably on my waist. I leaned in a little and whispered into his ear that we needed to keep up appearances for the Slytherins. As I pulled away, I saw a smirk tug at the corners of Mike’s mouth, his eyes glinting with mischief. The moments in which Mike would show emotion were rare and that is what made these moments so special. They reminded me of our days as children, when I would play at the Kane’s and Mike could do almost anything and get away with it innocent, never guilty.
I saw James out of the corner of my eye; he grabbed the first girl that decided to spare him attention which doesn’t take more than five seconds to find in his case and started snogging the living daylights out of her. I looked away as the scene unfolded. To my other side, I saw Dom clutch to Matt as if her life depended on it. Matt was looking down at her, occasionally kissing her cheeks, the tip of her nose, pecking her lips ever so sweetly.
Mike and I danced till the song ended. Mike stepped a little away from me, grabbing both my hands in his, kissing them lightly as he had done on so many balls held at the Malfoy, Kane and Lestrange Manors. I’ll be right back, he mouthed to me over the music.
That’s when I found Hannah again, a little tipsy than before. I knew this not only because of the way she bumped into me and let out a hysterical laugh but by the smell of intoxication too. I saw Henry attached to her.
‘It’s okay Henry. I can take it from here.’ I pushed him off Hannah, Susan took Hannah from my arms into her own, supporting her up and carrying her off the dance floor. Henry looked after the two girls as they began to stagger away until his lustful gaze ended up on me instead.
‘I don’t mind you either.’
‘You know better than to make that mistake Nott.’
A crowd seemed to have gathered around us. Amalthea stood close by, so did Albus Potter, Madeline and Jessica Hudson.
I turned away from him, but his hands pressed into my waist, hard and rough, pulling me into his body. I swatted them away, turning towards him again, pulling out my wand as I did so, pressing the tip under his chin.
Henry raised his hands in mock surrender and let out a cold laugh. In a flash, a hand reached out to turn Henry away from me, knuckles colliding with his face. The force of the blow knocked him out effectively, he fell to the floor. Everything seemed to have halted, the music, the noise of the crowd, conversations from the sitting area, the dancing, Freddie’s tricks from behind the bar; everything. The scene seemed to have been frozen in time. James was first to recover.
‘Back off, Nott!’ he bellowed, bending down to Henry’s form on the floor, where he was clutching his nose. James straightened up and turned away. Within a flash, Henry was back on his feet too, who now turned James back to the scene, his knuckles colliding with James face in a similar fashion to the previous act of brawl. A roar of cheers and astonishment echoed around the room.
Followed by more chanting: ‘Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!’
And fight they did. Matt got involved, Freddie jumped over the bar and joined in, so did Robert, Albus and Ivor. I let out another frustrated sigh, anger bubbling inside me; pointing my wand at them and forcing them all apart.
Another curtain of silence fell around the room. I was seething now. I no longer concealed my anger and annoyance directed to the boys, all before me sporty various shades to black blue and purple marks on their faces. My cold gaze met each and every one of them, freezing them mid action, as if they had been stupefied into their current state.
‘Break it up now! Because I will not hesitate to get all your arses into trouble for not only this fight, but this party too.’
I met Scorpious’s apologetic gaze for a brief moment before turning around for the final time and leaving the party.
The air outside was cooler. As I stepped out, I saw Rose sitting on the floor nearby.
‘Mind if I join?’
She gestured to the empty spot next to her as a yes. I silently walked to where she sat and placed myself beside her, stretching my legs in front of me.
Another pause followed.
‘So, what’s your excuse for leaving your own party?’
‘I don’t like big parties. But your cousin loves throwing them.’
‘What’s your excuse?’
‘Your cousin seems to think I’m a damsel in distress.’
I only nodded in response.
Rose laughed a little. ‘I had expected him to have moved on by now.’ She seemed to have momentarily forgotten my presence next to her. ‘No offence.’
A comfortable silence fell around us in the corridor. The air was fresher here unlike inside, where it was laced with heat, sweat, alcohol, tobacco and weed.
‘Rose!’ We both looked up simultaneously to the source of the sound. Scorpious walked over to us, offering Rose a hand. She took it gingerly, climbing to her feet. Scorpious pressed his lips briefly against hers.
‘I’m sorry.’ He pressed his forehead against Rose’s as he said so. What he was apologizing for, I wasn’t quite sure, but I suddenly felt like I was intruding into a very private moment between the two. Sorpious laced her fingers through his and they began walking down the corridor to my right.
I pushed myself off the ground too, making to leave, when a voice echoed around the empty hallway, coming from my left, stopping us all in our tracks.
‘LEAVE ME ALONE!’
‘I CAN’T DOMINIQUE! I CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM YOU ANY LONGER!’
Sure enough, I saw two shadows arguing around the corner, the two people themselves still successfully concealed by the turn.
‘HUH!’ Dom huffed out loudly, I knew she didn’t believe a word the other person was saying.
‘DOM, PLEASE. I’m in love with you.’ The other voice pleaded. I knew that voice, I knew it wasn’t Matt’s.
I looked around to where Rose was, she seemed just as perplexed as I pretended to be. I knew her brain would not take long to piece the puzzle together.
‘I have a boyfriend.’ Dom answered, empathising on the last word.
‘I CAN’T JUST UP AND FUCKING LEAVE HIM YOU BLOODY WAN..’
The rest of Dom’s sentence was however lost on her lips as the shadows collided in a heated kiss. There was a brief silence for a moment, until the figures drew apart once again.
‘Tell me you felt nothing just now, TELL ME.’
I heard Dom sniffle a sob and surrender into the other figure’s arms. Rose and I stood shell-shocked. Scorpious tugged lightly onto my sleeve, his other hand still laced through Rose’s.
‘Let’s get out of here.’ He whispered beside me, guiding us both away from the deserted corridor.
I saw commotion in the dungeons as a group of twenty or so people gathered around in the corridor right outside the Potion’s classroom, it was my last class for the day. I weaved my way through the crowd of chatting sixth and seventh years. I vaguely spotted Dom standing by the wall, Matt animatedly talking beside her, she gazed off distantly into space until her eyes reverted to me and she smiled a nod my way. Matt followed her gaze too, focusing on me and smiling briefly.
I scanned around the crowd, spotting the familiar faces of my Potion’s classmates. My eyes travelled to a piece of parchment attached to the wall with a list of names and the title, Potions Partners, written on top. Mike had pushed through to stand beside me as well. We had almost all our classes together; from beside me he saw the list, his eyes scanning to see who he was paired with. I found my name next to the one person I hoped that I would not and sure enough, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, smirking lazily in my direction as he leaned against the wall, one leg propped up and thick arms crossed across his broad chest. I felt my breath get caught in my throat momentarily. How does he do that to me? How does he even time these moments? Here he is, waiting, smugly in the corridor for me to show up and gloat this in my face.
I took a calming breath, and made my way into the classroom, my head held high and my book clutched to my chest in my arms to conceal the trembling in my limbs. I set my books and bag down on a vacant work station. A few moments later I saw him saunter up beside me.
I ignored the smell of his aftershave assaulting my nose and instead continued to stare straight ahead as I shed off my robes, rolled up my sleeves and set to work. I put a fire under the cauldron and motioned to get the ingredients from the cupboard. But James beat me to it. He was already setting down all that we needed. His robes had disappeared too, sleeves rolled up in a similar fashion, veins popping in his thick arms, his long and slender fingers started cutting up various ingredients artfully as we began preparing the potion. I too, find the horseradish and focused on brewing the assigned potion.
I was the best in my Potion’s class, second only to Potter himself. Professor Waltham had devised a new partner’s list which was to be followed till the end of the year, all through to our NEWTS, which was amazing; looks like I’m stuck being a masochist with James for the rest of the year. Brilliant.
It was strange, how silent both Potter and I had been during the length of the lesson, this was perhaps the most dormant we had been around each other, no snarky remarks, no flirtatious comments, nothing. We both worked in synchronised harmony in putting together the potion. I stirred it clockwise one final time and stepped away. Potter peered ahead into the cauldron a little, a lazy smirk growing onto his lips as he admired our handiwork. That bugger Waltham was right to pair us together; as I looked around I saw that everyone else was still busy brewing their potions, which James and I had managed to brew in half time. A slight smile grazed my lips as I gazed down at our cauldron too, flickering over to James who caught my eye, his grin widening. As a reflex action, I looked away instantly.
As if on cue, Professor Waltham walked over to our table, we weren’t hard to miss; we both stood idly, faintly smiling at our work station while everyone else was still engrossed in working their assignment. One look from the Professor and we both got an E. I began stuffing my books back into my bag; Merlin knows why I had taken them out in the first place.
Lost in thought I strolled out the class and down the dungeons. Faint steps echoed behind me in the corridor, followed by the sound of a bang. I stopped mid step, calculating whether I should turn back or not, deciding against it, I continued forward. It had been eleven days since the accident; Ed had still not woken up. Every time this brooding thought occupied my mind I could not help but think what I would be feeling if the curse had hit the mark and James had been the one to fall off the broom as intended. A fresh pang of guilt coursed through my body. Why? Why did people around me have to suffer for the ridiculous beliefs of my drunken father?
‘Lestrange! Wait up.’
I turned swiftly at the sound of his voice, gazing coolly in his direction as he caught up beside me. Without waiting for him to reach me, I turned back ahead, until I collided with suit of armour lined up against the corridor wall, effectively losing balance. Perfect.
A strong hold around my upper arms set me on my feet upright again.
‘I’m sorry. I wasn’t…’ my apology faded as I came to realize the force setting me back on my feet. Good working brain, we’re the only two people in the deserted corridor, of course it was him coming to my rescue.
Why was I even surprised that it was him? His fingers burned against my skin through my white school shirt as they pressed into my arms keeping me in place. This is what he did to me, every touch, every moment burned stronger between us, like an all-consuming fire, that set us both ablaze.
‘Looking.’ I finished lamely, stepping out of James embrace. I stepped around him to continue my way down the corridor.
But James had other intentions. He took a hold of my hand, stopping me mid track. He seemed to be doing this a lot this year.
‘Not now, Potter. I’m tired.’
I met his gaze baffled at his question, a single nod asking for him to explain further.
‘Between you and I. What changed? One minute, you’re my best friend, the master mind behind my pranks, the next second you’re ignoring me, treating me like scum, running away; avoiding me. ’
James still held my wrist, keeping my feet rooted where they had been, looking away to stare at the wall on my right, I kept my face as expressionless as possible. I drank in his presence. Throughout the length of the day I had successfully avoided looking directly at James, now as he stood before me, I saw the faint purple bruising at the right corner of his mouth, my hand itched to reach out and touch it. The one beside his left eye had almost disappeared; the remaining mark only gave the impression of a shadow upon his face in the scarce light of the hallway. Until his dark eyes shifted back at me, thick eyebrows furrowed together, his otherwise smooth forehead creased with a frown.
‘You stopped sitting with Dom and I. You stopped coming out to the pitch. Dom you still talk to. Me? You treat me like shit.’
James let go of my wrist, running his hand through his messed up hair instead, fidgeting.
‘FUCK. WHY IZZY? WHY? WHY THE CHANGE OF HEART? WHY THE COLD SHOULDER? WAS IT THAT HARD FOR YOU TO GIVE ME AN EXPLANATION? WAS IT THAT HARD TO SUDDENLY BE FRIENDS WITH ME? WHY? WHAT CHANGED WITHIN THAT ONE SUMMER? WHY DID YOU START TO HATE ME? WHAT FOR?’
He downright bellowed now, his finger pointing at me accusingly, his face livid with frustration; his wild eyes seeking a reaction out of me.
‘Drop it, Potter. I don’t owe you any explanations.’
I stayed stubbornly rooted in place. My face cold and blank, giving away none of the emotions that coursed through my body, not the weakening in my knees, the rapid beating of my heart nor the tremble in my hands.
‘For once Izzy, tell me why.’ James pleaded, closing the distance between us again. ‘Tell me once why and I won’t bother you ever again. Just tell me why you won’t talk to me. Why do you hate me?’ his voice was much softer now, his eyes imploring.
I sighed loudly, my frustration evident.
‘I do not hate you, Jay.’ I whispered, staring at my feet, finally succumbing to the hurt he felt.
‘You called me Jay.’ James stated, shocked. ‘You haven’t called me Jay since…’
I gulped silently at my own slip up, crossing my arms defensively against my chest.
‘Izzy.’ His voice came out in almost a whisper. If I hadn’t seen his lips move, I would have thought that I had only imagined it.
One of James hands found its way up to my face, stroking my cheek under the fall of my hair. His hazel eyes were burning with unknown emotion, they locked me in place as I stood before him in the dimly lit corridor, neither of us breaking eye contact. I don’t know how long we stood there like that, wrapped up in our own little bubble, frozen in time, with one of James’ hands cupping the right side of my face and my arms stubbornly crossed to prevent me from making any contact in return.
Until a shadow around the corner broke me out of my trace and I silently pulled out my wand as it sent James flying away due to the hex I had just casted.
I saw Alya Zabini’s figure materialise around the corner, she strode up to me confidently, accompanied by Ella Wilde, another seventh year Gryffindor. Alya took once glance at the scene before her and silently linked her arm through mine as James managed to pull himself to his feet. I saw Ella out of the corner of my eye checking up on James who refused to give her any attention, keeping it all focused on my retreating back. I could hear her congratulate James on pulling off yet another prank, something along the lines of ‘it was brilliant how all the cauldrons blew up like dung bombs. ’
I shifted my attention to Alya instead.
Dark haired with bright purple eyes, Alya was fawned over just as much as Ella. The two had been my roommates along with Roxanne Weasley, Fred’s twin sister and Emilia Heart. The divide had been clear since day one, Alya and I were the pompous purebloods (I more than her obviously, Alya’s father was not as bad as like mine, he had a tolerant bone in his body and had matured beyond prejudices), perfectly poised and composed at all times, and Roxanne and Ella were the rebels, outspoken and unorthodox. Emilia was just caught up somewhere in between, but Jessica Hudson, she was hated by everyone. Obnoxious and overly self assured, Jessica lived in her own little world. None of us could stand her and out of the six of us, she spent the least amount of time in the dorm, she was often found in beds where she did not belong. I followed close by, minus the being-found-in-beds-I-did-not-belong-in obviously, I had my own Heads Dorm now.
Despite our differences, the Gryffindor girls had always remained civil through the course of our time here at Hogwarts. We had mutual respect and understanding for each other, we didn’t undermine the other due to our differences, this was one reason why we worked so well. Of the countless sleepovers we had had in our dorm, there had been no hostility; no wonder Dom enjoyed being in our dormitory more than hers.
‘That’s some scar Henry has, don’t you think?’ Alya’s voice drifted me out of my thoughts. I saw Ella was now walking right beside us as well. Minus Potter, thankfully.
‘Would have been much worse had father found out.’ I muttered distractedly.
‘I offered to fix it for him. He said he liked it that way.’
‘Blimey! James said the same thing! Something about battle scars.’ Ella said.
We had reached the doors of the Great Hall by now. Alya unlinked her arm from mine and moved towards the Slytherin table, finding Madeline perched at the centre. I too found my way towards the Rawenclaw table next to Dom and Ella and Roxanne proceeded towards the Gryffindor table.
Dom gave me half dazed smiled as she caught me slip in next to her and returned to piling food in her plate. I observed her silently for a while. She only pushed her food around, never once making an effort to eat it.
I prompted her to tell me what was on her mind.
Dom met my gaze, her eyes were bloodshot again, her face pale, her joviality lost somewhere under the depths of remorse.
‘Matt and I broke up.’ She whispered from beside me, I quietly rubbed my hand against her shoulder as consolation, vaguely remembering details from Rose’s birthday party, wondering if that was reality or a dream; until a scream resonated around the walls of the hall, all eyes drawn to the source of the sound.
Rose Weasley stood shell shocked at the Gryffindor table; James sat beside her, all blood effectively drawn from their faces as a dead pigeon lay next to the plate of food in front of James, lifeless, inert.
I’m hopefully going to be writing longer chapters now that my setting and characters have been set into the plot.
So. What do you think? Isobel’s a hypocrite. James is a stubborn idiot. Ayla is sly and silent. Henry is a slimy bastard. And Dom and Matt broke up! (Finally? I know some of you had that figured out, I didn't exactly make it very discreet, lol.) James is making efforts to get the truth out of Isobel. And she almost says it!
Please Review. Kthanksbye.
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