Chapter 11 : October 5th.
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I sighed, and twirled on the spot, grinning around at my apartment as if it was actually a nice place to be. The restaurant Max had taken to me was gorgeous and expensive, he’d brought me a freaking necklace – which I was almost positive was diamond, not that I was going to ask – and then I’d looked all gorgeous and expensive. And I’d lost four pounds.
Two messages on the answer phone. I frowned at it but pressed the ‘play’ button, whilst leaning on the counter and staring dreamily up at the ceiling. Life was good. I loved England. I loved my job. I loved... having a boyfriend. I loved the necklace that former mentioned boyfriend had brought me.
“Gracie!” Mum’s voice exclaimed down the other end of the phone, “I was wondering -” I slammed the ‘delete’ button down hastily and waited for the second message to play.
“Hi, Grace, it’s me...James. Haven’t heard from you in awhile. Feel free to come round whenever, or call me... or something.” I raised an eyebrow at that one. I replayed it, smiling even more at the ceiling. Embarrassingly, it was an old message that I was yet to erase. And I wasn’t going to erase it either.
Years of having James mock me, avoid me, plot against me... and I had real proof that now everything had changed, and that James Potter wanted me to ‘come round whenever’ and to ‘call him, or something’ which was beyond satisfying. Thus I’d been replaying the message whenever I returned to my flat as a little reminder that times had moved on since Hogwarts...
It made me feel so much better about being here – in crummy England.
Right, I decided, looking in the direction of the kitchen thoughtfully. There was no way I could survive on one of those tiny little potions of food, which were artfully presented in tiny galleon sized circles – or in worst case scenarios, sickle-sized portions. How was a girl supposed to survive on that, I ask you? Diet or no diet, I refused to starve myself.
Then I spotted something by the door.
I had mail. I stepped forward and examined the piece of heavy parchment on the floor. It was the type of posh cream parchment with a pattern engraved into the surface, the kind that looked so expensive that you didn’t want to touch it for fear of leaving black marks across its flawlessness. I bent down on the floor next to it and lifted it up gingerly – taking care not to crush any of the corners for fear of destroying the most beautiful thing that had even been pushed under my door.
Miss G. Whitehall
There was some familiar memory attached to the handwriting – a sort of simplified calligraphy – and this alone made my heart start beating heavily in my chest. There was something about it that made me reach out and touch the letters, following them with my finger as I continued to read. I work of art more than a jumble of letters thrown into a words and sentences. Why was it so familiar?
You are cordially invited to the wedding of Elizabeth Caudwell and Albus Potter,
I suddenly had a vivid image of Elizabeth Caudwell sitting beside me in Transfiguration or charms, bending over her notes as she formed each word so beautifully that it was impossible. She’d never finish her notes and would end up having to copy my barely-there notes at the end of each lesson to keep up. Elizabeth Caudwell.
My mind suddenly jarred on the second point of the letter – Elizabeth was getting married. God. Of course I couldn’t think of a single reason why she’d invite me other than to rub her success in my face (although she never was that type) because despite being my ‘best friend’ for seven years things hadn’t exactly finished off on a good foot.
If I was getting married (to Albus Potter!!!), I certainly wouldn’t invite the bitch that said I was a stupid annoying sidekick who they only kept around because they needed someone to do their dirty work.’ Instead I supposed that by inviting me they were planning to save money on entertainment and provide everyone with a good laugh.
Look at Grace Whitehall! Look at the unsuccessful bint, she’s nearly thirty! Ha ha!
Elizabeth Caudwell was getting married to Albus Potter? God, what a turn up for the books. Good for her, I supposed, but my mind was still struggling to process that it was happening. I wanted to slate the idea of marriage and insinuate that they were too long but, Christ how it had happened, but we weren’t young anymore. They were twenty seven – a perfectly normal and acceptable age to get married.
Bloody hell. I was going to die alone and be eaten by owls. My body would be found when the smell got to the point that the council wanted to tax me for it. Bullocks.
I turned back to the invitation: there was a date, and a location, but my eyes instead found the closing comment - The future Mr and Mrs Potter eagerly await your RSVP.
Then it washed over me with a shocking sense of familiarity. I could picture Elizabeth, or Liz –as I’d called her then – staring at me with eyes swimming with tears at that party. She’d been shockingly shy, and eternally insecure in herself. She hadn’t liked herself, that was clear – but then, that’s what we had in common. She’d joined me on my mission to become popular on the sidelines, become ostracised through her decision to remain my friend, but on that night she’d been different.
I always was horrible to her, I can see that now, but I’d told her no one was ever going to look at her if she carried on wearing such plain things. I shoved her into this dress of mine (after I’d shrunk it significantly, I was bigger than her then so no doubt now I was at least twice the size) that was completely opposite to her normal modesty. Fuchsia, short and far too old for us at eighteen years old.
Turns out I’d been right because the second little Liz walked in, her chicken-wing legs balancing precariously underneath her with the added imbalance of very high heels (also mine) everyone’s eyes had been popping out their stupid faces. Looking back now, she looked much better in her dark grey to-the-knees smock dress, but as teenagers we all lapped up anything that showed enough skin that our imaginations were made redundant.
Men were still in the stage where less is always better and where the need for class is bypassed for the need to have as much sex as possible so everyone could try and convince themselves that sex didn’t matter.
They were all over her like a pack of grindylows: swarming her with complements, insults, attention and respect. Basically everything I’d been dying for since my second week at Hogwarts (after that terrible start) and I was very near to flipping out and screaming. Then Albus Potter had started talking to her and that was it.
After years of fruitlessly – or not quite – chasing James Potter my quiet little best friend was going to get exactly what I’d always wanted. So I’d been a completely bitch and stormed out of that party to jeering, cheering and calls of ‘cat fight.’
And that was the last time I saw the majority of my classmates and it was the last time I’d spoken to good old Liz.
So why was I being invited to their bloody wedding?
I was suddenly drowning in nostalgia and I hated it. I hated the sickly feeling the past brought, when you either realised things were better then, or worse – exactly the same. It made my head spin, and it made me itch to rip my hair out and scream. I didn’t want anything to do with the past – nothing. I wanted to be rid of it and away from everything that reminded of those god damn years Hogwarts.
Elizabeth was getting married?
Then, another thought.
The tosser, he must have known about this for ages. I doubted that Liz was the type to rush into a weddings and relationships – given she’d always been so reserved and nice – no, they must have been together for awhile. So why the bloody hell hadn’t James thought to tell me that my old best friend was engaged to his brother?
So we’d have little catch up sessions, he’d spend months making my phone bill painfully expensive and then he thinks he can just chose not to relay important and relevant information? Bullshit.
He was going to answer for this.
I tucked the gorgeous piece of parchment – which was so thick and expensive that I’d probably never be able to afford my own piece – inside my clasp bag before angrily grabbing some floo powder, throwing it into the fireplace and saying ‘James Potter’s apartment’ before that familiar spinning feeling took over.
It was a lot like thinking about the past – when everything was a spinning confusing mass of cause and effect, and it all spun around and made your stomach feel like it was about to drop out of you. I hated it. I lived in the present and the ambiguity of the future was bad enough without thinking about the concrete facts of the past – I could never decide which was more terrifying.
I shook my head, half-fell, half-stepped out into James Potter’s apartment and glared.
The apartment was sickeningly fabulous – all done up in stylish colours and overflowing with spare galleons. It was exactly the place I’d imagined myself living in my early twenties (not that I was in my early twenties anymore) and the first time I’d been here I’d been so sick with jealous that it had been quite hard to speak. It was a double bedroom flat (and he lived alone – how greedy) and had taken on the ‘open plan’ idea a lot more successfully than my own flat. He had a three piece white leather suit, a 40 ft plasma screen television, a snooker table (why he’d even want a snooker table was beyond me) and his little kitchen unit had bar stools.
Worst of all – he had a nice bath.
“James!” I declared loudly, suddenly realising how weird it was that I’d just walked into his apartment, uninvited. Sod it. I never abode by these bloody social conventions.
“Grace Whitehall,” James said in mock surprise as he emerged from his bedroom whilst doing up his tie.
“You haven’t got someone in there have you?” I asked suspiciously. He shook his head. Then I thrust the wedding invitation in his direction and glared in his direction.
“Oh, you’ve got one too,” James commented, pulling his own invitation off the top of the drinks fridge – I noted that it was crumpled, folded in half at least twice, and worst of all – he’d spilt something on it. I inwardly cringed at the pure abuse of such expensive parchment and glared at him.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I exclaimed.
“It never came up?” James suggested, taking a step backwards in alarm.
“James!” I half yelled.
“I thought it would make you uncomfortable, all right.” He said taking another step backwards.
“Oh,” I said, stopping straight and blinking. That was almost... considerate.
“Look, Grace, I’m supposed to be going out,” James said gesturing towards his suit, which even I had to admit – was rather posh. He looked good, actually. Almost too good. It hurt a little bit. Bloody Quidditch stars.
“Well,” I said suddenly feeling beyond foolish and fighting the urge to go hide in a cupboard and never think about weddings or Hogwarts again. I’d just stumbled into his apartment when he was about to hit the town looking like James Bond, probably for some hot date that I’d totally just ruined.
“But I am supposed to bring a date,” he said, looking me up and down. So it wasn’t a date. It seemed, now, I was the potential date. My, how the tables have turned.
“I’m not dressed...” I began, then I realised I was still in my dress from my date with Max, and was even wearing the potentially-diamond necklace. “Okay, well, maybe I am.”
“Well, it would be a great help...” James said. “He’d made some comment about Quidditch players being gay, and so I’d asked if I could bring a date to prove I wasn’t, and then...”
“All right, James, enough with the bullshit – I’m not going to go.”
“But you look so gorgeous right now, and I can tell you all about the courtship of Miss Elizabeth and my brother.”
“I’m not interested.” I replied.
“They slept together at the graduation party.”
“Where exactly are we going?” I asked picking up my clasp bag with a raise of my eyebrow.
“James,” I muttered irritably, staring at my glass of wine. “If this was all some elaborate ploy to get me out on a date, then -”
“It wasn’t,” James assured me, glancing at his watch and staring at the front of the restaurant with a slight frown, “that would be much more effort than you’re worth. Anyway, I’ll still tell you about Beth and Albus,”
“That’s what she goes by these days, rather than Liz – she wanted a new start.”
“Figures,” I muttered. “She’ll always be Liz to me,” I added, taking another sip of the expensive wine that the waiter had ordered for us. Was it slutty of me, to essentially go on two dates in a night – and not even change clothes? That was bad even for me. I’d usually at least not wear the necklace, considering it had been a gift from the first guy. Still, I hadn’t exactly been planning this... “This guy you’re supposed to meet isn’t going to turn up, is he?” I asked grimly.
“No,” James said looking quite irritated. “And even if he does, it’s not my business to wait around for forty minutes...”
“In fairness,” I said slowly, “You were twenty five minutes late yourself.”
“That’s my prerogative,” James returned. “And the waiter said he hadn’t arrived yet so, I say we leave – unless you want dinner?”
“Well,” I said looking around the restaurant – it was typically posh, and would almost definitely serve the same tiny portions. “I’ve already been out,” I said gesturing to my outfit, “but it was one of those shitty places where they expected everyone to have shrunken stomachs or order eight courses – and to be honest, it’s not my cup of tea.”
“Yes,” I complained, “but this place is not my style.”
“Want to get some chips or something?” James asked.
“Now you’re talking.”
“So let me set the scene,” James said, as we walked down some London street in search of somewhere that sold chips at this time of the night, “it’s the Hogwarts Graduation party, you arrive with Beth – after having a very loud and public bust up/cat fight with Taylor the previous week,”
“All right, all right,” I muttered. “I remember it pretty god damn well okay, there’s no need for the context reinstatement.”
“Don’t interrupt the story teller. So you two walk in, look stunning as normal – Beth wearing some pink dress that I’ve been told about so many times,” Fuchsia, I wanted to say –remembering how I’d sold the colour to her in the first place, lamenting the fact that it wasn’t pink, “and your wearing, well, I don’t know that much – I wasn’t there.”
“A little black number, no back and plunging neckline” I put in with an eye roll.
“Well that does help with the visuals,” James said with a grin, “and because Beth is looking so different to normal, everyone starts speaking to her, even my little brother. You flip out; scream at her, before apparating away not to be seen for the next ten years. Beth, in total shock, flees to the toilet for a little cry. My brother, being the absolute prat that he is followed her in bringing her firewhiskey and saying that ever famous line ‘I like your dress, the pink looks really nice with your skin’ to which Beth replied ‘its fuchsia’ and then she took the drink-”
“Liz doesn’t drink!” I exclaimed.
“Well, she did then, and she does now – if you were wondering – and then she wrapped her arms around his neck and snogged the living daylights of him. The rest is history.”
“So she didn’t even say anything? She just snogged him?” I asked in disbelief. This was Liz, quite and sensible little Liz...
“No... she said ‘fuck that bitch’ first.”
“Oh,” I said, considering this for a second. “That’s fair. Wait... how do you know this?”
“Because,” James said, “As soon as Al got home – at four in the morning I might add, bit of a shock to our parent’s considering he was the angel of the family, and he walks straight into my room, turns the light on and proceeds to tell me all about it.”
“Oh,” I said again, wrapping James’s suit jacket around me tighter. Being the gentleman he was, I’d been offered the suit jacket when James realised that walking around in just a dress isn’t preferable for those who don’t enjoy hypothermia.
“How about here?” James suggested, nodding towards a small cafe that definitely sold chips. That was enough for me, anyway, and I hardly cared that we were sure to look like complete tools for being dressed in formal wear to get a portion of chips, “Table for two please,” James said to the waitress, who looked up at him and jerked her thumb towards the empty cafe.
We headed for the booth looking out onto the street, even though the view consisted of cars travelling past at high speeds and the occasional homeless man transporting boxes and what not. “Are you sure?” James questioned, eyeing the menu doubtfully.
“Do they sell chips?” I asked. He nodded, “well then, don’t be so stuck up” I said, wrapping the jacket around me a little more as not to look so over dressed. James loosened his tie slightly.
“So,” James said, “Haven’t heard from you in awhile,”
“Hmm...” I replied, making a point of examining my menu carefully.
“Are you going to the wedding?”
“Probably not, but please, let’s not talk about it,”
“Then what do you want to talk about?”
“Anything,” I said.
“I could tell you about myself?” James suggested cheerfully. I couldn’t help but laugh and shook my head.
“How’s Quidditch?” I questioned, glancing up at him through my hair and smiling slightly.
“Well, it is international level.”
“I suppose,” James said shrugging. “It’s just, it’s so serious now... it hardly fun anymore. I guess I miss when I could mess around in practices and eat what I wanted and stuff. They have me on this diet thing, and this daily training program and... well,”
“I suppose I can understand that. Well, not really, I reckon doing something you loved for a living would be pretty great,” I reasoned.
“It is,” James agreed, looking oddly thoughtful for a moment before shaking himself out of it, “but I’m not allowed to eat chips.”
“Quit,” I advised, attempting to catch the bored waitress’s attention for long enough to order. “Nothing’s worth sacrificing chips,”
James grinned. “So how’s the Prophet? They haven’t sacked you for not knowing what a Bludger is yet?”
“I know what a bludger is,” I countered. “And it’s all right. It’s better than most jobs I’ve had,”
“Which ones were better?”
“Erm...” That stumped me. I thought about it for a long time. I did like Prophet, actually, which was a dramatic improvement on any of my other jobs. Still... I supposed it helped that I was shagging the boss, friends with several of my co-workers (Jill, George, Scott Hall, well... okay, maybe not the dreamy Scott Hall – but a girl can dream right?) and then I didn’t really have to do anything. It was like having a sex life and a social life, but being paid for it (although that brings back memories).
Most of the time I couldn’t find a single fault in my job. Except that... I wasn’t used to having a job and the idea that I could be working there for the rest of my life was oddly... suffocating. “No,” I said after a few moments of silence, “I’m out. Still, let’s talk about something else,”
“What?” James asked soundly slightly frustrated, then the waitress wondered over looking very bored and glanced at us expectantly. I ordered a pint (to which James raised an eyebrow at, his normal dates probably drank wine or something) and a plate of chips. James did the same then looked at me for a long moment, seemingly irritated. “Well Grace, what do you want to talk about?”
“Anything,” I said, feeling equally annoyed. “Just not about the Wedding, or Liz, or my job or Quidditch.”
“Anything else? You won’t shoot me down again?”
“Course not, I don’t think you could take it.”
“Okay, I have an idea.”
“Promise not to veto it?”
“Let’s talk about Hogwarts,”
“No,” I said immediately, staring down at him as the waitress brought over our chips (despite professing he wasn’t allowed to eat them – typical James) and set my beer down with a clunk. I’d need a lot more than a single pint before I was ready to talk about Hogwarts.
“You promised you wouldn’t shoot me down,” James said triumphantly.
“You tricked me,” I accused.
“We’re going to talk, about Hogwarts.”
“No, no, no,” I said firmly, flicking my hair out of the face (and looking incredibly stupid for doing so). I picked up my glass and took a drink, “let’s not talk about Hogwarts.”
“Oh, why don’t you think about that?” I suggested scrunching up my face attractively to signify my displeasure at the mere mention of the world, “even the word’s ugly,” I told him disparagingly, “Hogwarts,” I shuddered.
“See that, I don’t understand,” James said leaning forward to pick up his own glass, and taking a huge mouthful of the stuff, “how can you dislike Hogwarts?”
“I appreciate that the building’s amazing, and that it’s got all this history and stuff, but to be perfectly honest – I hated being there.”
“Well,” James began tentatively – watching me to make sure I wasn’t about to throw my half empty glass at his head or whatever – before continuing at a pace that was slightly faster than his norm, “you didn’t exactly help yourself,”
I didn’t blame him for being nervous about my reaction. I could feel my irritation levels rising exponentially and the urge to cause him bodily harm was definitely increasing. Hogwarts was not a topic of conversation I was open to in any way. I supposed, given our history, I probably should have expected him to bring it up now we were... acquaintances, but did he really have to catch me off guard like that?
James seemed to misinterpret my silence as an invitation to carry on talking, which it definitely was not. I suppose I could forgive him for not fully understanding given I hadn’t seen him much in the past decade, but it was still irritating, “you brought a lot of it on yourself.”
“Oh no, Potter,” I said darkly, “your memory is most definitely selective – you don’t remember what you don’t want to remember. I might not have, exactly... dealt with things in the right way but the question as to whether I would fit in was answered the moment I got there,” He sent me a questioning look and leant back in his chair again,” do you remember,” I asked slowly, leaning forwards and resting on my elbows (making sure they were actually supported by the table first), “my first day at Hogwarts?”
“No,” He returned with complete sincerity.
“I do,” I informed him, “And I think, with a little prompting you might do too... it’s your second year at Hogwarts. You’re watching the sorting; it’s nearly at the end when...”
“When your name’s called up,”
“Sure. So I walk up to the front, except I’m causing quite a bit of controversy...” I trailed off watching him think in a painfully slow manner.
“You...” he began, “everyone was laughing because...” He paused for a second and met my gaze, “because you were half-bald.”
“And you yelled...?”
“Is it a boy or a girl?” James finished, “my insults were very uncreative when I was twelve,” He said by way of apology.
“I’m sure that’s probably normal,” I said.
“Half-baldness is, well, not,” James said glancing at me, “hey, is that why you ended up in Gryffindor – because you were bold.”
“You used that one too,” I deadpanned, “and it wasn’t funny the first time.”
“Damn.” James said, seemingly drifting into thought. Probably about the memory of half-bald little old me. I could remember how lopsided my head used to look and how I used to hate being forced to confront my reflection, even after it had been fixed.
“Let’s skip forward to second year,” I said, “your third. I caused quite a controversy then as well,”
“You...” He began. “You were screaming and crying because... because you were scared of the horses that drew the horseless carriages, and... everyone thought you were mad.”
“Bingo,” I said taking a somewhat larger sip of my beer with the realisation that I might have said a little bit too much...
“Thestrals.” James realised after a few seconds. “Which means...?”
“Drop it,” I muttered, sinking back in my chair and hiding behind my pint the best I could. I suddenly felt far too exposed and like I should be dragging up old emotions and feeling them even though I couldn’t drag them up from within myself anymore.
“Grace,” James said very seriously. A small part of me – the part that was still a teenager – still found a thrill and a slight rush of adrenaline when he said my name. That was probably why I didn’t immediately run and apparated away – he’d follow me anyway, and he knew where he worked. And lived. Creepy, when you thought about it, “why were you half bald when you came to Hogwarts?”
I ran my tongue over my teeth as I considered my next few words – how to explain what I barely even allowed myself to think about? “Have you ever heard of Trichotillomania?” I asked after a long heavy pause.
“I can safely say that I haven’t.”
“It is,” I began with another gulp of my beer, “A... a disorder. Some people say its self harm, some people say that it’s compulsive – like OCD – and, and... it, it basically means you pull your own hair out.”
James stopped moving all together, his eyes found mine, and he stared at me with his mouth half open in a way that could almost have been comical.
“It’s most common in children, and it’s like, it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t understand.”
“It’s like an itch, or a need, that needs to be satisfied and like an itch it’s almost subconscious, so you find yourself with your hands just there and then, then... then you pull it out,” I explained fighting to keep my own hands resting on the table rather than going up to scratch my scalp, which they were so longing to do, “it doesn’t hurt much, but it’s like... a release, like you’ve lost something... although people do it anywhere, like eyebrows or eyelashes,” I said, “or, well,” I paused, “anywhere,” I finished lamely.
“You pulled out your hair?” James asked in a way that wasn’t condescending or patronising, like I’d have thought, it actually sounded as if he cared. I hated that.
“I didn’t even realise I was doing it,” I said truthfully, “it just happened, sometimes I still...” I stopped short and looked at my hands. They were tensed up and resting on the table, “eyebrows are the thing now – it sounds really stupid – but I just, the thing about it is getting the hair from the root and pulling it right out, and then I’m there with a pair of tweezers and I just have to get that one hair out, even if it’s still under the surface of the skin and I end up, sort of digging it out from...” I stopped again.
Why was I talking about this? With James Potter no less.
James Potter himself reached a hand forward and placed it over my own tense hands. “What did you say it was called again?”
“Trichotillomania... You’re not going to tell anyone are you?”
“No, what kind of bastard do you take me for? I was just going to research it – see if I can understand a bit more.”
“They don’t know much about it. People think of it is a mild form of SI,”
“Self-injury, sorry – crazy people speak. There are slangy names for everything, like Trich,”
“You’re not crazy,”
“No?” I asked, “You didn’t seem to think that seventeen years ago.”
“Well, I was twelve.” James said. “I hardly think you can judge me on something I said when I was twelve.”
“I didn’t,” I said, “But you’ve given me plenty of material to judge you on since then.”
There was suddenly a stiff awkwardness and the flow of the conversation had evaporated as quickly as it had come. I pulled my hand from under his and looked away awkwardly. Things had been going so well – I’d almost enjoyed spending time with James Sirius Potter...
“So you pulled your own hair out,”
“That’s not a very good conversation starter,” I snapped back.
“Well someone’s got to do the conversational shitwork,” He retorted.
“Why? All I wanted to know is why I’ve been invited to this wedding and since when your brother has been engaged to my ex-best friend,”
“You might as well finish your beer,” James said with a slight raised eyebrow, he leant back on his seat and continued looking at me steadily.
“Look, you just shouldn’t have brought Hogwarts up, okay?”
“It was seven years of your life; you can’t just pretend it never happened,”
“Why not? I’ve been managing for the last ten.”
“Yeah, by running away and leaving all your friends -”
“–I didn’t have any friends,”
“Then why has Elizabeth invited you to her wedding?”
“I can honestly say I have no idea, that’s what I came to ask you, remember?”
“She heard you were back in the country,” He shrugged.
“From Roxanne,” I sighed in frustration and finished the rest of my beer in one swig. “What? Of course people are going to be curious – you disappeared for a decade! You’ve changed a lot you know, and then at the same time – not at all,”
“Well thanks for that enlightening statement,” I said with an eye roll, “but I’m not going,”
“Oh come on,” James said, “You might even enjoy yourself,”
“Enjoy everyone laughing at me?”
“It was ten years ago Grace, people have moved on – they’re not going to care about some stuff you did when you were a teenager,”
“Then why did Roxanne take a picture of me?”
“She shouldn’t have done that,” James conceded, “but, you know, it’s not too late to start again,”
“I’m twenty eight James; I think it’s a little late to be reforming myself,”
“I’m thirty in four months,” James deadpanned.
“Fuck,” I said in astonishment. “We’re getting so old. I’m supposed to be married and have kids by now,”
James laughed. “So,” He began leaning forward on his elbows. “Are you going to explain anything more about the Trich?”
“No. I shouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place.”
“Isn’t repressed emotions more of a teenage thing?” James said “Bit old for this aren’t we, surely we can talk as adults?”
“It’s inclusion in the conversation was only to demonstrate the fact that Hogwarts wasn’t completely my fault. If you turn up for your first day at school with half your hair missing, people aren’t overly friendly.”
James considered this for a few minutes. “Why didn’t you charm it back, or have a wig or something?”
“I should have done,” I sighed, “Sinistra went mental when she found out because my parents had written to her but they didn’t mention the Trich. She said that they’d ruined my chances at fitting in and that she couldn’t do anything about it now, because they hadn’t told her. She said that if she’d known before hand I could have had like, an illusion spell put on me, or given me some potions, or I could have shaved my head and had a wig, but... it was too late then. Everyone had seen me. Mum got all worked up about it, and then she was yelling and I was just sat there pulling clumps of hair out in her office,” I shuddered slightly and blinked.
It was strange to think back to how I’d felt then and how horrible it had felt to hear them yell about how I was never going to fit into Hogwarts and whose fault it was... now it felt like a part of someone else’s life.
“After that Sinistra organised proper therapy for me, I’d had some at home, but well... then I was put on some hair re-growth potions and had to try and let it grow back. That didn’t work for awhile either, so they put a charm on me so I couldn’t do it.”
“Why didn’t they just do that in the first place?” James asked.
“They wanted me to overcome it myself – they thought it would be more beneficial for me and I’d feel like I’d made it over another hurdle, so to speak. They were probably right.” I sighed.
“But you have a full head of hair now?”
I shrugged and turned back to my empty glass. “I really don’t want to talk about this, James,” I said with that familiar uncomfortable realisation. I didn’t think about Hogwarts. I didn’t think about any of that, and I certainly didn’t talk about it. It was unnecessary when all that stuff was shoved safely back in the past, “I don’t like thinking about the past, why is that so difficult to understand? I’ve moved on, I’m not there anymore – I don’t need to think about it.”
“I beg to differ,” James Potter said finishing his beer and chucking a galleon onto the table (in the muggle cafe), “I don’t think you’ve moved on at all,”
So I gave him coat back and went home.
A/N - So this was a big big chapter! I wrote this one sometime ago and surprised myself by how much my writing has improved since then. I had to nearly rewrite this whole chapter. Anyway, please review - this was an exciting chapter after all :)
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