Chapter Twenty-Four: A Love Scene from a Bad Dream
“We've found a way to dethrone Isabella.” Alex was sitting across from me, saying this sentence with complete nonchalance that I almost didn't believe her.
“We've wormed our way into Slytherin, now.” She leaned back against her chair, looking smug. “Anyone who says that Gryffindors and Slytherins can't work together clearly haven't seen our communication skills.”
“And by communication skills, you mean blackmail right?” I rolled my eyes. “How did you get in?”
“Turns out that Elise Davenport stole Tracey Davis' boyfriend in fifth year.” Alex was still all confidence. “Isabella doesn't know this, of course, because she hates when girls steal other girl's boyfriends.”
“Hence, why she hates you.”
“Yes,” Alex affirmed. “Tracey is a nice Slytherin. She understands our predicament and is willing to plead our case to the head of the Slytherin girls, Ophelia Youngblood.”
“She's in our year,” Alex replied, “very tall, dark skin and lovely hazel eyes? Usually followed around by her group of five?”
“I've seen her before.”
“Actually, I think she's in your Potions class.” Alex thought for a moment. “Which is perfect because...” she trailed off.
“Perfect because of what?”
“Because of reasons...” Alex grinned. “Don't worry, Lotty, we won't involve you in too much trouble. Just might need you to butter her up slightly...maybe...”
“Okay, word in the hallways is that she's in need of a Potions tutor.”
I took in a deep breath. “I can't.”
“Why not?” Alex put her elbows on the table and leaned forward at me. “You agreed to tutor bloody Wood, didn't you? Why not make some room in your schedule for Ophelia?”
“Because I haven't tutored Wood in a week.” And there was the truth. I had been meaning to tell my friends about seeing Drew snogging the life out of that other Ravenclaw girl, but I had instead, kept it to myself. I wasn't in the mood to tutor anyone, so I had cancelled all my sessions with Wood for a week.
“Why?” Alex looked confused. “Where have you been snooping off to, then? Secret rendezvous with your boyfriend?”
I winced. “No, nothing like that...”
I had been avoiding the library, and instead, had been going up to the clock tower and doing my homework by wand light. It was peaceful, and dark...and if I cried...no one would hear me.
There were also moments in-between classes where I would feel weepy and would duck into girl's lavatories to cry. I avoided the one occupied by Moaning Myrtle.
I had become absolutely pitiful.
“It's just been hard, you know? I can barely make room for myself and it's all just very time consuming.” I tried to smile, but my lips felt tired and sagged downwards.
“You've been staying up late, too.” Alex reached over and touched my skin right below my eyes. “You've got such heavy bags under your eyes.”
“It's all that homework,” I sighed. “N.E.W.T studying and whatnot.”
“You've been pushing yourself too hard...” she shook her head. “But please, if you could just...make a little bit of room for Ophelia...I've heard she's very bright and would probably pick up concepts much quicker than Wood...so it would only take half of your usual tutoring time?” Alex's eyes widened and she pouted a bit.
I sighed out of exhaustion. “Alright. I'll do it.”
“Perfect.” My so-called best friend grinned widely. “I told Tracey to tell Ophelia that you were free in the library from 8-10. That's your usual time slot with Oliver, isn't it?”
“Er, we didn't really have a time slot...” I was saying.
“Perfect. Bloody perfect. Getting the ball rolling. You're taking one for the team, Charlotte!” She was overly excited and clasped my hands tightly. “You're growing into such an incredible person...learning teamwork and all sorts of things. You're bloody perfect, Lotty!” She kissed my hands, gathered up her books and left me awkwardly at the table in the middle of the Common Room.
I had been throwing myself into everything. I read almost eight chapters ahead for Herbology and Charms, read even further, a whopping 10 chapters ahead for Potions and stayed up late completing Arithmancy homework due in four weeks.
If I was doing homework or reading textbooks, I wasn't thinking about Drew. And when I wasn't thinking about Drew, I wasn't replaying the scene where he and some blonde girl were snogging like animals behind a bloody tree.
Life was just easier if I did what I was good at – being invisible. I wouldn't have to talk to Drew about these things...I wouldn't have to deal with him if I pretended that he didn't even exist in the first place.
Oliver knew that something was wrong, though. I had run into him immediately after the disgusting Drew scene, and he had shifted from excited to excessively worried because I seemed to be distressed and panicked.
He held my arms and looked me full in the face, questioning with his eyes but not speaking up because he knew that I wouldn't have told him anything. I pulled away from him when the crowds called to him, called to their leader who had led their Quidditch team to victory. He let go of me hesitantly, and I found myself stumbling through the halls, trying to avoid all people.
I eventually ended up in an empty lavatory, where I found myself so overwhelmed with shame that I couldn't hold back my tears.
“Hello there,” an accented voice said as they plopped themselves across from me, in the empty seat previously occupied by Alex. “Why the long face?” Lindsey Adams stared at me intently, a battered book of American politics in her hands.
“Troubles.” I managed, giving her a weak smile. “Many troubles.”
“Please, speak of these troubles...” Lindsey nodded, opening me up to discussion.
“Well, I guess I'd first like to ask you how you got into the Gryffindor common room when you're clearly a Hufflepuff.”
“It's not like remembering passwords is necessarily hard,” she quipped. “Besides, Fred and George usually let me in anyway, so what's the difference? But that's beyond anything...why do you look so upset?” She leaned closer. “Is it...boy trouble?”
I was taken aback by her bluntness. “How did you know?”
Lindsey leaned back knowingly. “It's always boy troubles when it comes to girls. Trust me, I know. I've had my fair share of them, you know. I just think David is the fittest bloke at this school and just...why can't I get into the Slytherin common room?!”
Hearing her say words like “fittest” and “bloke” was strange. I wrinkled my nose but continued. “Because you're not a Slytherin?”
“I get into here, don't I?” Lindsey inquired pointedly. “But enough about my useless troubles. What about you? Did you see the boy you fancy kissing someone else?”
Merlin, this girl was a curiosity. Hearing her throw around those words with an American accent was bizarre. And yet, she was knowledgeable. “What on earth are you? A seer?”
“Nope.” Lindsey remarked confidently. “Mama says I'm good at reading people...and well, the same thing happened to me. I saw David snogging some Ravenclaw tart.”
“It's always the Ravenclaws, isn't it?” I managed, my lips pulling themselves up slightly. This girl was beyond amusing.
“Ah, a Ravenclaw tart took your bloke too, huh? They're all tarts.” She sighed. “But it left you feeling sad, right? Like you've got the mean blues. You run around feeling useless and unfortunate, and even though people ask if you're alright – you just keep saying you are because if you deny your sadness, maybe you wouldn't feel so sad, right?”
“Yes...” I nodded, almost bewildered by this weird Hufflepuff. “Except you're confused because you thought you were slowly falling out of love with him.”
“And you think you'd be pleased that he'd be such an arse because then you'd have a real excuse to break up with him? But really, instead, you feel ashamed of yourself and the shame is eating you slowly as you try not to start bawling all the time?”
“Not the bawling part, but yes,” I leaned on my palm, looking at her curiously.
“I completely understand.” Lindsey sighed.
“So maybe I wasn't as over him as I thought?”
“No.” She shook her head furiously. “You're just embarrassed is all. Your pride's been hurt...and that stings far more than anything right? You feel betrayed and yet, relieved. And because you feel so complicated on the inside, you don't know what to do and all these feelings make you cry.”
“I can hardly believe that we're having this conversation. Don't you think it's a bit bizarre considering that we don't know each other very well?”
“Making new friends every day,” Lindsey smiled. “That is my goal. Besides, we know each other. We both are friends with Fred and George, aren't we? They like you, so I figure that you're not that bad of a person...which is why I came over when I saw how sad you looked.”
“You're smart.” I chuckled.
“Thanks.” Lindsey beamed. “That's what they tell me! Biscuit?” She held out a chocolate smothered biscuit. “Biscuits make everything better.”
I took the offered biscuit as she grinned at me. “Thank you.”
“Of course.” Lindsey leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on the table.
“Do you know how I could make the mean blues go away?”
Lindsey shifted uncomfortably. “Fred and George told me that I need to confront David, and usually, I would, but the thing is...I don't think he even knows that I exist...so wouldn't it be a little bizarre if I just went over to him and confronted him about it? It's not like he's mine.”
“You know what I've realized?” I stared at Lindsey, sitting so casually, munching on a biscuit. “I've realized that when we talk about significant others...we're always so possessive about them. What makes us like this? What makes us use terms like 'ours' or 'mine'?”
“Dunno,” Lindsey sighed.
“What makes us so jealous?” I leaned into my palm, my eyes now boring into the wall behind Lindsey's head. “What makes us become like this?”
“Human nature, I suppose,” she said through a mouthful of biscuit. “We're just programmed that way...anyways, you should confront him! You'll feel better.”
“Heed your own advice,” I replied wryly. “Who knows, he might know who you are, then.”
“True, true.” There was a violent nodding of her head as she stood up from the table dramatically. Without another word, Lindsey disappeared up the stairs towards the boy's common room. I didn't know what she was going to do, but that didn't matter.
She was a strange Hufflepuff.
(Strange was an understatement)
It wasn't even as though I was jealous that Drew was snogging some other girl – it was the fact that it was behind my back after all his plans about our future together. Key words being “our” and “together.” It was nice knowing that someone (apparently) loved/was obsessed with me enough to plan out our entire lives together. Yes, it was a bit creepy, but it was flattering! It fluffed up my ego until it was bigger than Oliver's.
Okay. Oliver's ego isn't that big, it turns out, but you get the point of what I'm saying, yes?
I was on cloud nine, even if I felt suffocated. He wanted to be with me forever. That's dedication! He had our future planned. Why would he take the time to plan our future and everything when he was going behind my back to snog that stupid blonde Ravenclaw tart?
I wanted to say that it was just a one-time thing, but my gut disagreed.
And what would he say if I confronted him about it? What sort of excuses would he weave together and dangle in front of me? Would my ego sway me to believe him? What happens then?
Panic seized me for a second. What if I forgave him and really did spend the rest of my life with him? What if everything he had planned was going to come true. What if I didn't want it? I shook my head violently. No! Things wouldn't be like this. It shouldn't be like this. Why would I let it? My head was spinning wild thoughts and situations and I hated every single one of them.
I left the common room in a hurry. There was only one way I would be at ease – Lindsey was right. I had to confront him. I had to get out everything I had been feeling. I needed to meet with him.
I don't think he understood what was going on. Drew stared at me, his eyes dark, but chilling. He had taken his glasses off and they sat intimidatingly on top of the wooden table.
I had asked him to meet me in an empty classroom. I think he expected something else, because when he came in, he swept me up in his arms and kissed my cheek roughly.
“What's going on, Charlotte?” Drew's voice was calm. “You're acting awfully strange. Is something the matter?”
I had started to say “no,” the word was forming itself on my tongue, my lips curving to articulate the word before I changed my mind. I nodded my head vigorously. “Yes, Drew,” I folded my hands together in my lap and looked at them for support. “Something is the matter.”
He raised an eyebrow. That was his only reaction to my statement.
“I-I...” I paused to think, to consider my words before I spoke them. “I wanted to ask you something.”
“Okay,” Drew said the word slowly, and leaned forward, staring me directly in the face. I lifted up my eyes and met his; they froze me on the spot. “Go ahead. Ask me, anything.”
And all thoughts left my brain. What was I trying to ask again? Why was I so afraid to voice my grievances? What the matter was me?
I cleared my throat, and focused on the bridge of his nose. “Why...no,” I paused, looking to reform my sentence. “Who was that blonde girl?”
He looked confused. “Blonde girl? What blonde girl?”
If this were a drama, the audience would be pointing their fingers at the telly screen shouting that he was a liar and that I shouldn't fall for the lie...I wasn't going to, but the confusion looked terribly genuine. And that was the problem. His genuine confusion would perhaps mean that I was...wrong?
My own mind became clouded with confusion and all other sensible sentences seemed to run right out of my brain. “The girl you were violently snogging with against a tree! For everyone to see!” I had raised my voice, quickened the pace of the words...my tone was so-so...accusing.
I hadn't meant to be accusing. I had only meant to question, to prod in order to gain a confession. When did I become a hormonal teenage girl running rampant due to feelings of insecurity or whatever else drove females to scream accusations at their boyfriends?
Drew placed his hands on the table. He looked relieved. The look of confusion had fled and slowly, his lips twisted themselves into an almost sick smile of relief. “Oh, you mean Priscilla?” Drew shook his head, now chuckling. “You needn't worry about Priscilla, love.”
“Don't call me that,” I retorted, confused. “What are you talking about? Why needn't I worry? How could you say things like that?”
“She's nothing,” he waved it away like a stray bug. “You're my future.”
“I don't understand.” I said flatly. “How can I be your future when you're off snogging some other girl? If you told this madness to anyone they would react the same way.”
“Don't worry, Charlotte,” Drew reached out to pat my hand. “I've got it all sorted out.”
“Sorted out?” I inquired, slightly alarmed. “What are you talking about?”
“How could someone like Priscilla Blayne become the future Minster of Magic's wife?” Since I had pulled away from Drew's hands, he crossed his arms defensively over his chest, staring me down. “She's not suitable. The public would loathe her.”
I felt like the wind had been knocked out of my sails. What was this nonsense spewing from Drew's mouth? Was he comparing Priscilla and I in terms of...
“Pardon?” I interrupted him for a moment. “The public would loathe her? She's not suitable? But, I am?”
“You are.” He affirmed with a quick nod of his head. “You're honest, intelligent...humble.” Drew picked at some lint on his sleeve. “You're tactful and resourceful and level-headed.” His gaze rose onto my face again, a curious sort of gaze that I couldn't quite place. “And above all, you know your place.”
The final sentence felt like a slap on the face. I almost wanted to turn away, howl like an injured animal. Instead, I stared at him, blankly, my mind unable to form coherent sentences.
“Priscilla would be so petty.” He continued, seemingly ignoring the look of shock on my face. “She would shop and gossip and be overcome by such simple emotions such as jealousy...” Drew let out a sigh. “She's a Ravenclaw but quite tactless, almost mindless. A pretty face with no brain. Quite a pity.”
I couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth. I couldn't believe this was actually happening. Under the table, I pinched myself hard. The pain only made me more incredulous. This was his true self. Right before me, Drew Foster was revealing all his true colors. His pure ambition. Cold intellect. Heartless, brutal honesty.
“Priscilla would be an awful Minister's wife, don't you think? She doesn't know when she should keep her tongue in check. Silence can be quite golden at times...something she has yet to know but alas...” Drew gave a casual shrug, as though he were talking merely about some girl in his class and not someone he had been violently snogging with.
“W-Wh...” I began, my mind just barely wrapping around what he was saying. “Wh-what do you mean? W-...what do you feel for me, Drew?” My voice shrunk back, like a whisper. I was almost afraid of what he was going to say. Afraid because I could already feel my ego begin to peel apart at the seams.
“What I feel for you?” Drew sounded confused, and his knitted brows confirmed this. “I feel all sorts of things, Charlotte, how could you ask me this? I feel respect for you...admiration. You are a remarkable woman with a sharp mind. You're sensible and that is what the Minister's wife should be.”
“When you kiss me...” I swallowed a lump in my throat. “How do you feel? Happy? Joyful? Does it send butterflies soaring? The flutter of your heart?”
“My heart doesn't ever flutter.” He sounded amused at my questions. “I feel...happy, yes, I suppose so. I wouldn't know how else to describe it. I feel that we go well together. That we fit together.”
“Fit together?” I wanted to laugh. “Is that all?”
“We belong together. You and me. The world is ours! We might only reach out our hand and grab it.” He mimed the action, his blue eyes snapping electric sparks...a look of excitement on his face. I would have found it attractive; once upon a time, I did...but now...I didn't know what I felt.
“I'm afraid, Drew, that you've become lost in your delusions.” My voice came out stronger than I anticipated. I felt weak, betrayed. “Or maybe I'm the one lost in delusions.”
Drew lifted up his brow again, inquiring into what I was talking about.
“I didn't think you were like this.”
He laughed. “What did you think I was like, Charlotte? I've been honest from the beginning.”
“Then I misunderstood.” I nodded. “But you've misjudged me. I would never stand for something like this! I would never stand for cheating!”
“Cheating, dearest?” Drew drawled out, his brows disappearing into his hairline as his face contorted into one of surprise. “You're the one I will end up with...she's just a plaything...”
“Every Kennedy needs his Jackie,” I shook my head, disbelief still lined on my face. “But every Kennedy wants a Marilyn, too.”
Drew, unfamiliar with Muggle terms, shrugged.
“I can't...I can't be your Jackie,” I murmured. “I couldn't stand there and watch it. I couldn't just be your level-headed anything! This-this...can't we just...”
“Regardless of whatever a 'Jackie' may be,” Drew interrupted me, sounding now very annoyed. “I have laid out my plans, as per usual. If we are to remain together, then that's what will happen. You will endure and you will –”
“Endure?!” My voice rose now, almost a shriek. “Endure?! That's the most painfully hilarious thing I've ever heard! I will never, never endure something such as this. I won't, I shan't! My life won't be a sham! My life won't be a lie! I won't have you making my decisions for me and it will stop, now!”
The silence that followed was painful.
Drew calmly, too calmly, folded his hands together on the table, looking ever-so-much like the politician he wanted to be. “I didn't take you for one of them.” His voice was laced with his own disbelief. “One swallowed so easily by petty emotions like jealousy. I thought we were one in the same...that we had the same dream...the same feelings...” He shook his head. “I have misjudged you terribly. It seems that you are nothing like the girl I thought you were.”
I swallowed again, but the lump wouldn't go down. It choked me. Choked all the words that I wanted to say and scream and let off my chest.
“I'm quite disappointed in you, Charlotte.” Drew's voice was flat, unsympathetic. He didn't understand why I was upset or why I thought the way I did. “Disappointed because you led me to think you were someone capable and willing to be the Minister's wife.”
“I never said I was anyone...” The words barely made it out. My eyes were shining with tears, and my voice was growing thick and hoarse from the emotion.
“Alas,” Drew put on his glasses, stood up and crossed his hands behind his back. “I see this is how it must end.” He shook his head again, and made to walk out the door, but at the last moment, he turned around and gave me one final glance. “It ends in disappointment...”
He shut the door lightly behind him.
The wind was cold. It bit at my cheeks in a vicious way, causing redness to dot otherwise pale skin. I stuffed my hands into my pockets to warm them. Disappointment. I sighed to myself, my ego completely bruised. I wanted so badly to gather myself into a little ball and cry because I felt so bad for myself. Was I so pitiful?
My steps seemed to echo loudly as I walked along the corridor. Time seemed to stop as I paused to lean against a wall, my body sinking downwards.
Is this what rejection feels like?
I clutched my hand to my heart, as though a sudden electric spark had jolted through it. I felt cold, sick, embarrassed. The pit of my stomach gurgled with all the feelings I had been holding back. Resentment, embarrassment...there was something else, too. Something else that I couldn't put my finger on.
There was a panicky feeling of being alone – that no one would be there to catch you if you fell. I shook my head. There hadn't been anyone before, so why would I be bothered with this feeling?
I took in a deep breath and hastily wiped my eyes with my sleeve. It was dinner time, and if I was absent, my friends would surely notice...but if I went like this...
Why didn't I want them to know? Was I ashamed of what had happened? I thought honestly about my feelings. I wasn't sad, per se, but if I wasn't sad, why was I crying? What was this bubbling frustration and loneliness that caused tears to spring to my eyes at the thought of what had happened.
I think I was most afraid of what others would say. What would the gossips spread? What sorts of supposedly comforting words would be said to me. How many hugs would I receive? Offers to let me lean on their shoulder in my time of sadness?
I wasn't sad. No. I really wasn't. A little relieved; honestly, mostly relieved.
He had said that I disappointed him. Disappointment. That single word left such a bitter taste in my mouth that even though I swallowed three, four times, I couldn't rid myself of the flavor.
I took another deep breath and steadied myself. Reason overtook emotion and I shook my head, trying to clear it of all that had happened.
At least I had known the truth. At least I wouldn't be blinded by my delusions. And I had been delusional. I had thought him a prince, only to find a trickster within. The thought brought a small smile to my face because the image was so absurd.
Absurd. The whole thing was absurd and stupid and I wished to never feel this way again.
I did not notice the footsteps approaching me, quickening until I felt a hand on my shoulder. Turning, my reddened eyes met the warm hazel eyes of someone familiar.
“Are you alright?” His voice soothed. I wanted to turn away, and hiss, but I couldn't. His voice entranced me and before I could stop myself, he pulled me into his arms and I began to truly sob. I sobbed like the world was ending and my parents were dead and I would be alone forever.
Oliver smoothed my hair, cradled me. He said nothing, but just stayed there, letting me sob and sob and sob and sob until I seemed to have no tears left.
Finally, embarrassed, I pulled out of the hug and looked up at him.
And he was smiling.
I don't think I would ever forget that smile.
Author's Note: -throws hands up in the air- I give up! I surrender! Please put your sporks away! I promised that I'd update by the end of the week but instead...I am here...like, a month+ later. I am sorry.
But what did you think of it? Drew's melodramaticness much like the politician he wants to be, eh? Hopefully. Charlotte's all sobbysob and sad but it won't last, seriously!
And some love for the Oliver fans, eh? :)
Thanks for reading! I'm now going back to the paper I have to finish in say...uh, 6ish/7 hours for my Literature class? Whoo!
Leave reviews for encouragement, please. ♥
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