Chapter 1 : Love is a feeling (so is pain)
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Note to Self:
Love is a feeling (so is pain)
“Is love a fancy or a feeling?”
Emmaline pondered the Hartley Coleridge quote as she settled into the plush train seats, head resting on tucked knees. Even if love was a fancy, Emmaline didn’t care. It was real to her. She felt it; it bloomed in the pit of her stomach, its vines curled around her rib cage. Her heart beat harder to sustain it.
“Is love a fancy or a feeling? No. It is a mortal and immaculate truth,” Emmaline continued the famous sonnet, the words appearing out of seemingly nowhere.
Her mother adored that particular poem. She would recite it on windy days; her voice would travel for miles on the backs of currents. Sometimes Emma could still hear her.
The train wailed a warning of departure, and the last of the Hogwarts students on the platform board, hugging parents and embracing friends. Emmaline realized that the compartment, usually brimming with her Quidditch mates, was empty.
She was suddenly over taken by loneliness and fear. What if he doesn’t love me back?
Sometimes she loves him so much she wishes he would fall off the face of the earth. Then she might have some chance of moving on.
Squeezing her eyes shut tight, Emma tried to push the negative thoughts out of her brain. She imagined her father running around the house, singing Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”, wearing a pot on his head as the cat mewed in harmony. Or despair, one could never tell. She laughed, half-believing that everything would be alright.
The train pulled away from the station and began to snake into the countryside. Tall grass grew impossibly high, over the big glass windows. Emma began to feel fragile surrounded by her own insecurities.
What if she wasn’t pretty enough? What if she smiled too much? What if no one could love her? What if she wasn’t good at anything?
She didn’t like such serious thoughts. She preferred to think of stadiums and food. She preferred to laugh and run. She could always be counted to make a fool of herself. She talked too much and always at the wrong time. She got along better with her Quidditch mates than girls.
She liked such stability.
Being in love set off her carefully controlled mindset, her identity. Her dreams of tomorrow were perpetually skewed around him.
The compartment door slid open.
“Speak of the devil!” She almost spat out the words.
“Why if it isn’t Emmaline Nightingale Nimbus,” he chuckled and the corners of his eyes crinkled. Emmaline loved that crinkle.
She pushed down the flutter of her stomach and let her temper take over. “Hey! When I told you my middle name you promised not to poke fun of it. Besides, who are you to talk, Mr. Adam Milton Hart,” she jabbed.
“Touché,” he said with a smile and the grass outside the window disappeared along with her insecurities. He was her best friend since year one, he was the tall lanky blond boy who finally filled out, she had only realized the extent of her feelings for him the other month. She couldn’t even talk to Adam for the entire summer; she was that shell shocked.
Adam sat down across from her and put his feet up on her lap. She shoved them off; he was still just an obnoxious boy at heart.
“How come I didn’t any letters from you?” he asked. “I missed you.”
He sounded genuinely hurt. Emmaline doesn’t know if she should cry at his pain or shout out in joy because he missed her.
She fiddled nervously with the hem of her robe, pulling at loose threads colored Ravenclaw blue. Sometimes, she was uneasy and fidgety as a mouse.
“Sorry, I was really busy,” she lied, hiding behind her curtain of light brown hair, “My dad kept towing me from place to place, and Anita finally moved in.”
In truth, she had spent most of the summer lying around on the family estate, testing broomsticks and waiting for her skin to turn so brown she could pick the freckles from her shoulders.
Adam leans in and rests his hand on her knee. Her blood pressure skyrockets. “I heard about the engagement in the newspaper. Are you okay with it? I mean, I know it’s been a while since your mother…”
She wanted to look away, but she was caught in his gaze. His eyes were the exact color of the irises that grew in her garden. “I’m fine with it,” she snapped, she was tired of being asked. Adam took his hand off her knee. She softened her voice. “My dad loves Anita, she makes him happy. And that makes me happy.”
Adam leaned back, accepting her answer. “Ems, you’re too selfless for your own good,”
“I know,” she sighed dramatically.
“Speaking of your selflessness….” He trailed, “Would it be possible for you to get us some of those new brooms with increased shock absorption? The Nimbus 1500? They’re perfect for our beaters. Also, some new safety equipment would be fantastic; you’ve cracked your head open too many times as it is.”
Emma blushed. She was notoriously accident prone. “You know, sometimes I think you’re only friends with me because of my dad,” she accused, a small smirk playing on her lips.
Adam glared at her “Yes, Emmaline, you’ve discovered my secret. I am only friends with you because your dad is Quentin Nimbus, who founded the Nimbus Racing Brooms Company,” he said, his voice rich with sarcasm.
Not that that stopped Emma from kicking him in the shin…. And perhaps gave him a nice whack on the head.
“Oi! What was the second one for?” he grimaced.
“I missed you too.” She laughed and he laughed until they had to stop for the sake of breathing.
“So how was your summer?” she asked, realizing how rude she was acting.
“It was pretty good,” Adam replied nonchalantly. He tossed his golden hair out of his hair; it had grown long over the summer. Emma admired the way it curled around the ears, half listening to Adam’s Quidditch banter. “….played a lot of scrimmage games of Quidditch when we visited Devon. I think I’ve finally managed to beat your sloth grip roll.”
She was too distracted by the way his white t-shirt clung to his chest to form a coherent retort.
“…Also, the Raos moved into a brownstone down the street from me. The place is a mansion. I showed Maya around London a bit,” he finished.
Emmaline scowled inwardly. Maya and Manesh Rao were twins and two of their fellow Ravenclaws. While Manesh was a brilliant seeker and as wholesome as good bread, Maya was about as wholesome as a red-light district. Manipulative and cruel, Emma had avoided her and her followers as much as she possibly could.
“Emma, can I ask you something?”Adam said inquisitively, jerking her out of her train of thought.
“Of course, you nimrod,” she teased. It took a great effort to not reach across and kiss him with the way he looked; his mouth hung half open, desperately trying to find words.
“I like… I think…,” he stumbled over words. “The truth is, I fancy this girl. And, well, you know me. I’m not so sure how to tell her.”
Her chest swells. Maybe it’s me. It has to be me.
Adam looked up nervously. “She’s way out of my league…”
He thinks I’m out of his league! “I promise you, she’s not!” Emmaline practically yelled. “You’re Adam Hart! You’re a prefect and Captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, keeper extraordinaire. Besides, you’ve got the best smile in the world.”
And bum, she thinks, don’t forget the bum.
“You really think I have a shot with Maya?” Adam beamed, revealing the pearly white teeth Emma so adored.
“Maya? Maya Rao?” she repeated. Adam nodded his head vigorously. She could feel her voice begin to crack. “That’s….great.”
There was no doubt about it now, love was definitely a feeling. Everything began to ache. She could feel the blood pound in her head as Adam started talking.
“I’m happy you like her. She’s amazing, really. We spent a lot of time together over the summer.” To Emma, his voice sounded as if it were passing through water. She watched his features light up with an idea.
“You’re her roommate, yeah?” Emma nodded numbly. “Do you think you could put in a good word for me?”
The mere thought of talking to Maya was terrifying, but for Adam’s benefit Emma croaked out a dry “Sure.”
Malicious thoughts ran into her head. Perhaps she could tell Maya that Adam was a pervert with a creepy foot fetish or that he collected Russian dolls….
“You’re the best Emma. Really!” He was so happy. “You’re like the sister I never had.”
His sister. She could feel sobs press against her chest, her heart felt as heavy as an oil drum.
“I should leave.” She murmured, “I have to talk…to…someone…”
She lurched up on her feet and began to make for the door before it opened of its own accord.
No, that’s not right, she thought, doors don’t open themselves.
She looked behind the door to see Maya Rao, a statuesque beauty with caramel complexion and endless legs. Maya never failed to make Emma feel like a prepubescent boy.
“Adam!” she squealed. “I’ve been looking high and low for you!”
She walked past Emma slowly, hips swinging like a pendulum.
“I’ll just be leaving now…” she said as she scurried out.
Neither Adam nor Maya seemed to have eyes or ears for anyone but each other.
She felt small enough to walk through the eye of a needle.
Emma let out a singular dry sob before deciding not to cry. He’s just a boy she thought. He’s just a boy.
Even if I do think I love him.
She turned to leave, go find some other compartment where she can shed some tears and feel sorry for herself, but her curiosity got the best of her. Peering through an opening in the compartment window’s curtain, she watched as Maya crossed her oh-so-long legs and laughed at something Adam said, tossing back her sleek hair like someone from the movies. After several minutes of painful observations, it became overwhelming obvious that Maya wanted Adam as her new toy.
If one thing had become clear in Emmaline’s six years of living with Maya, whatever Maya wants, Maya gets.
“You’re not a very good spy, you know.”
Emma nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of the mystery voice.
Looking over her shoulder, she’s matched the voice to a face. Black.
“Sod off, Black,” she said deadpan. Emma was in one of the worse moods of her life, and a member of the rival Quidditch team teasing her did not improve it. “Go back to your clan of half-witted friends. Perhaps all together you can figure out how to mount a broom.”
Sirius laughed. “What’s got your panties in a bunch?”
Emmaline blushed at the mention of panties. It was after a locker-room incident with Sirius Black that had coined her ‘granny panties’ for all of year four.
She thought of a million things to do at that instant. A million insults and a slew of curses, dozens of spells and hexes came to mind.
But she didn’t act upon any of them.
She turned at looked at him, really looked at him. The full extent of her pain was displayed on her features, a deep engraving of longing on every line of her face.
“Just go away, Black.” The words hung heavily in the air.
Sirius seemed to want to say something, standing there for what felt like a century before heeding Emma’s words. She watched as he walked down the corridor, his impossibly dark hair shining in the train’s dimming light.
Black’s like Adam, she thought, too attractive for his own wellbeing.
She was so caught up in the well of her emotions she didn’t notice when a tear rolled down the side of her cheek, nor when the muffled voices on the other side of the compartment door revealed that Adam and Maya had a date for the next Hogsmeade trip, nor when a voice down the hallway yelled “ROGUE FOOD TROLLEY!”
She only came to her senses when the loud rumbling of wheels against mahogany floors was right behind her.
Whipping her head around, the last thing she saw is a trolley careening toward her.
She heard a faint snap and a crunch of bone accompanied by the sound of spilt Bertie Bott Beans before the world went black.
A/N - I would like to thank Ayesha (afterglow) for being an amazing beta. Current banner is by me. Better one coming soon! :)
Please R&R, I know the characterisation is week, it should improve in the next chapter.
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