Chapter 26 : The Twenty-Sixth One
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You know, if I didn’t know any better then I’d say that he wanted to get away from us... oh wait.
My mother pulled her expensive wool cardigan tighter around her shoulders and fumbled with the string of pearls around her neck, shooting me a smile that didn’t even begin to convince me she was okay.
Her face was pale but her cheeks were flushed, and a slight sheen had begun to shine through her many layers of matting powder. She looked tired, and her makeup hadn’t been applied as seamlessly as usual – her mascara was clumped and her lipstick had stained her front two teeth. She looked like she’d spent the whole morning chucking up her breakfast.
My dad seemed oblivious, though his expression seemed to be even more stony and stoic than normal as he angrily pushed the trolley down the platform. The reams of people seemed to part like the red sea for him, so my mother and I stayed close behind and scurried along in his wake.
“I’m fine, Summer. I just don’t feel very well – I must have eaten, erm... a bad clam. I must have eaten a bad clam. I’ll have a word with Minty when I get back to the house.” She patted slightly dishevelled curls on her head and glanced edgily at my dad.
“That’s funny, isn’t it? Because we haven’t had clams since I got home. So unless you went swimming in the ocean with your gob hanging open, they you couldn’t have eaten a bad clam.” Mother pursed her lips, the rich woman version of a scowl, and shot me a look that told me quite clearly that she was not in the mood for arguing with me.
Well. Fine then. If I’m not going to be appreciated for being perceptive and noticing things about my own family then I’m just going to bugger off and park my arse on the Hogwarts Express.
Dad yanked the trolley to a halt and turned around, his eyes quickly scanning the platform to check whether people were looking. If they were, I would be subjected to a rough, one-armed hug, but if they weren’t, then I would be bundled onto the train and sent off with nothing more than a quick wave and a squawk from my mother about writing three times a week.
Noticing that people had better things to do than stare at us, my father pulled my trunk off the trolley and pushed it towards the man that was helping to load them onto the train – a new addition to the platform; I think they realised that most first year girls would struggle to carry their trunks themselves – and turned to face me.
“Have a pleasant holiday, write to inform your mother whether you’re going to stay with her at your grandparents’ house in the Easter holidays or if you’re staying at school, and write to inform me if you’re going to come to visit me for a few hours.”
“I won’t be,” I said coldly, and he nodded, not looking the slightest bit surprised.
“Right. Well, do all your homework and eat healthily. Don’t tar the family name. Keep your mouth shut about everything that is happening between your mother and I, because that is not for public ears. Goodbye.” My dad stuck his hand out for me to shake, and I did so – and promptly dropped it after two shakes. He turned around and pushed the empty trolley back out of the platform, and melted through the wall back into muggle London without a backwards glance.
“Right, well, goodbye,” I said awkwardly, and my mother offered me a weak smile. She looked quite ill – she looked like she wanted to go and puke in the trash can over by the common lady in hot pink Doc Martins, but instead she pulled me into a quick hug and kissed me on the cheek.
I rubbed at my cheek like an arrogant child and my mother pursed her lips again.
“You don’t have to wipe off my kisses, Summer, I’m not contagious,” she said.
“I’m not wiping it off, I’m rubbing it in,” I retorted, acting just like I had when I was a little kid that would be given a kiss after doing well for something and would immediately go and start wiping it off with a tissue. I was never a fan of public displays of affection.
“Summer,” my mum started, looking like she was going to say something, but she cut herself short. “Summer, have a nice term. Enjoy yourself. Don’t get yourself into... compromising situations.”
“So you mean don’t get preggo?” My mum laughed softly, but there was something off about it. She kept glancing edgily at the tips of her patent black court shoes. They were the same ones she had been wearing for church on Sunday.
“Yes, that would definitely be something I recommend,” she shrugged. “But come on, you should probably get on the train – I can’t see any of your little cronies around here.” I nodded slowly and breathed out hard through my nose, quickly stepping onto the train.
“Right, well – mum, be careful. Don’t get too upset about the divorce, when the finalisation day comes just handle yourself maturely and don’t get too emotional – you’ll just make yourself look foolish. Be calm and collected, and Nana and Grandpa Greengrass can help you get through it.” With one more quick smile, I slipped into the nearest compartment on the train and waited for the rest of the Looney Tunes to come and find me.
“Summer! For Merlin’s sake, since when have you walked so fast?! Slow the bloody hell down!” I turned around as I heard a voice calling my name over the crowds, in the middle of the huge surge to get into the castle after we’d launched ourselves out of the carriages.
The little first year twats seemed to be under the impression that if they didn’t get through the castle doors first then they would just die.
“Is someone shouting me?” I yelled, whipping around in the crowd so fast that I nearly had my head whacked off my shoulders with some random bloke’s beater bat.
“Yeah, me,” a voice said from next to my head, and I stumbled around so I smashed flush into the chest of none other than our very own Jack Goldstein. He staring down at me, his golden-brown hair flopping into his eyes and his lips curled up in an amused smirk.
James had been battling the throng next to me, the both of us behind Fred, who was hexing first years out of the way and yelling “MOVE YOU FUCKING GODDAMN MIDGETS, SENIORITY RULES!” as they got hit with reams of purple light. He froze as he heard Jack’s voice, and turned to shoot him one of the foulest looks like I’d ever seen in my life. He glanced at me quickly and then pushed his way forwards, so he and Fred were shoulder to shoulder and he couldn’t see me anymore.
Really mature, James. Really mature.
“What’s the matter, Jack?” I asked, seizing his hand and tugging him into a small bubble of space by the left wall of the entrance hall. He frowned as he tried to hear me over the crowds, and eventually tugged me down a small corridor that I didn’t know was there and the noise was immediately diminished.
“I just wanted to talk to you – I got your letter.”
I could feel a hot flush crawling up my cheeks and spreading across my face as I remembered what I’d written. There are things that you can write and then there are things that you can speak about – and that is not something that I am going to put into words.
“Oh, right...” I said vaguely, doing what my mother did and staring at the tips of my school shoes. Jack rolled his eyes and leant against the wall behind him.
“Thank you for that – the apology,” he clarified, and I nodded. “I – I think I handled it pretty badly, but you – you really cleared everything up for me. And going off what you said – well, I’d love to be friends with you again. I really don’t think that we’d work as a couple – not now you and Potter are together, especially. That would be awkward. I’m not going to try to challenge Potter over his girlfriend – I value the current condition of my face too much.”
My head snapped up and my jaw fell open. Even more blood flooded into my face as Jack smirked at my reaction. When did he start smirking so much? I bet he’s been taking smirking lessons from James.
“I’m not with James!” I shrieked, and Jack jumped a little at the shrill pitch of my voice. I’m pretty sure I could have communicated with dogs from the afterlife with that tone.
“What do you mean, you’re not with James? I thought for sure that you and Potter would have gotten together after you and I split up...” I shook my head vehemently. “Oh. So you weren’t – I mean, you didn’t start – I mean... Oh, never mind. It doesn’t matter.”
“No, tell me,” I said softly, but Jack shook his head. “Jack, I meant what I said when I said thank you for being my friend. I really want to stay friends with you – you’re a constant for me, and I need that. So just be a man and tell me what’s bugging you, because otherwise I’ll lose my temper, get really pissed off and then you’ll run for the hills.”
Jack laughed and rolled my eyes, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and pulling us both to the floor.
“You didn’t start dating me to make Potter jealous, did you? I mean... was that the reason that you agreed to become my girlfriend in the first place? Were you... cheating on me with other people while we were together?” I stiffened under his arm and pulled away, narrowing my eyes at the side of his head.
“I’ve already told you that I never cheated on you... other than the little blip with James. I’ve told you that – what do you not believe me? D’you think I’d lie to you?”
“No! No, I’m not saying that I think you’re lying to me. I just... I wanted to check. I want to know what was actually going on. I don’t want to feel like an idiot anymore. I want to feel like we were in a proper relationship other than that little... incident with James. Did you only start dating me to make Potter jealous?”
“No. No, I didn’t. You want the truth, Jack? I’m bored as fuck with all the bullshitting. Do you want me to tell you the real reason that I started dating you?”
“Tell me – is it really that bad?”
“No, it’s not bad, you weirdo. I just... I dunno, some people prefer pretty lies to the ugly truth. I started dating you because I was lonely, and I was worried that you’d move on to someone else if I didn’t agree to become your girlfriend. So I did. I’m happy I did – you really made everything normal for me again, and I’m so grateful for that. You made everything feel normal for me again, and you were good company. Dom was – and is – so obsessed with her relationship with Connor that she had no time for me, Penny and Fred were trying to sort out their own little dramatic lives, Connor was busy fawning after Dom and James wasn’t speaking to me. And you were the only one that noticed that James wasn’t speaking to me.”
“Are you being serious?” he asked, and I frowned. “None of your other friends noticed that you and Potter could barely sit at a table together anymore?”
“Well, you know... Dom has been in a lot of dodgy relationships, and I think it’s a good thing that after all this time she’s finally found someone that treats her like the princess she wants to be. She really likes Connor... so yeah. I kind of got pushed to the backburner. But I’m not pissed off with her – she’s wanted a relationship like this since we turned fourteen.”
“She started dating at twelve, Jack.” I laughed, and his eyebrows shot up into his hairline. “But she has been taken advantage of her more times than I can count, and she’s been hurt a lot. It’s only fair that she finally gets her happy ending and all that shit.”
“What, you don’t believe in happy endings?”
“No, I don’t. I think that lives can have happy endings, if you work for them. But life isn’t a fairytale. Dom... I’m worried about her. Dom is stuck in this mindset that Connor is her Prince Charming and the world is a fairytale. I’m worried about the fallout when she remembers that life isn’t like that.”
“What makes you think that Dominique isn’t going to get her fairytale happy ending with Connor?”
“Maybe she will, maybe she won’t. Their relationship is still in the honeymoon period, and she’s convinced that it’s going to stay like that. Life isn’t as perfect as Dom thinks it is, and she needs to realise that. She’s setting herself up to get hurt by believing that nothing is ever going to go wrong.”
“Still... regardless of whether she’s trying to cling to some princess fantasy in her head, you, Penny and Dom have been best friends since first year. She shouldn’t just drop you like a hot potato the moment she gets a boyfriend that treats her like a man should treat a woman.”
“I know. But it’s just for now. I’m sure she’d be there for me if I really needed her.”
“Why are you defending her to the hilt – you did need her! You just said that you started dating me because you were lonely because she was too busy being off with her boyfriend to pay any attention to you. Dom is your bestest best girlfriend – she shouldn’t have done that. Inverted bros before hoes and all that.”
“Um – two things to point out. Bestest best girlfriend? Um... Jack? Phrase choice, you might wanna mind that. And two – inverted bros before hoes? The expression is chicks before –”
“Yes, but we don’t have to use that kind of language, do we, Summer?” Jack shot me a look and I grinned sheepishly. “But the point I was trying to make is that we barely knew each other, and you began to date me because your own best friend was too busy sucking face with her new lover-boy to realise you’d split with your boyfriend, or whatever the fuck James was to you.”
“Well, we don’t need to talk about that now. Dom and I are fine. Just forget about it.” Jack pursed his lips, showing remarkable likeness to my mother, but mercifully dropped it.
“Well if you need to talk to someone, you can talk to me. I know you probably won’t, but you can.” I nodded and leaned forwards to give him a quick peck on the cheek, mussed up the hair that was flopping in his eyes and shoved myself to my feet.
“Thanks, Jack. I’ll speak to you later. It’s nice to talk to you. And I am... sorry.” Jack nodded and grinned sadly as I headed off down the corridor. I was fucking starved. Three plates of pumpkin pie, here I come.
“Man, that was good,” Fred sighed, popping open the button of his jeans and leaning back on the bench. Penny smirked and took another demure bite of her chocolate cake, giving the fingers of Fred’s hand that she was holding a quick squeeze. He grinned at her and stuck his finger in her chocolate frosting, before turning it around and wiping it on Connor’s forehead.
Why, I don’t know. I don’t bother to try and understand Fred anymore, it gives me a headache.
“Thanks for that, man,” Connor muttered, jabbing Fred in the ribs with his elbow. Fred chuckled and patted him on the head, rolling his eyes to centre until he was cross-eyed and puffing his cheeks out like a pufferfish.
“No problem. Share and share alike, you know, mate.” Penny laughed quietly and leant her head down onto Fred’s shoulder, letting her eyes slide shut. Fred leant his head sideways to peck her on the top of the head and wrapped his arm around her waist.
I can practically feel my teeth dissolving with the cuteness. I don’t like cuteness. People should just stop being cute, or only being cute in private when there is no risk of evaporating the teeth of innocent others.
“Oh, I’ve got to go and see Flitwick about a tutoring program I’m supposed to be starting – I’ll meet you in the common room when I get back,” Penny suddenly murmured, before pecking Fred softly on the cheek and heading out of the hall. I watched her go and felt the corners of my mouth twitch upwards – there was a spring in her step that I hadn’t seen there for one hell of a long time.
“Look, if you’re going to sit there and play fucking footsie and squeeze each other’s thighs and fucking half-snog, then you might as well just go somewhere and fucking get it on, because you’re both getting on my last nerve!” James snapped from next to me, and I leapt half a foot in the air.
The statement was directed at Dom and Connor, and they both flushed and stared down at the tabletop as James scowled at the pair of them. He’d been in a bad mood since I got back to the table after talking to Jack. Honestly. And the bloke says that I have a temper.
“Alright, grouchy knickers, we’ll leave,” Dom said, shooting a pouty glance at James and pulling Connor off the bench behind her.
They left the hall quickly, and Fred seemingly forgot that he was so full that he had had to undo his jeans and leant forwards to take another large plateful of rhubarb crumble with custard and another goblet of pumpkin juice and Butterbeer.
Please don’t ask. He drinks them together – I’m not really sure why. It looks revolting, though – like an ad-hoc mixture of pigeon crap and throw up.
“You know, Jimmy my boy, if you’re in that bad of a mood then you should just take Summer into that broom cupboard in the entrance hall and snog her there.” I spat out my mouthful of Butterbeer at the same time James choked on his Arctic roll and start hacking his lungs up in choking cough over his plate. Fred stared us like we were the weird ones.
“What did you just say?” James choked, his eyes streaming as I whacked him sharply on the back. Fred cocked an eyebrow at the pair of us and leant back in his seat.
“What the fuck is wrong with you two? Just go and snog – I don’t mind sitting on my own.”
“What – what do you mean, go and snog? Why would Summer and I snog?”
“Because you fancy the pants off each other and have been snogging for fuck knows how long?”
“What?! Says who?”
“Says me... you guys aren’t exactly subtle.”
“How can we be subtle when nothing is going on?” I said coolly.
“Please, Summer. Don’t bother lying to me. Still, at least you and Goldstein have finished.”
“What?! Who told you that Jack and I were done?”
“No one – I can just tell. He keeps looking over here from the Puffer’s table.”
“Fred – why did you tell Summer and I to go snog?” James said slowly.
“Because, James, you’re in a fucking foul mood and a good snog should bring your stress levels down.” Fred shrugged nonchalantly and pensively chose the largest piece of pumpkin pasty on table.
“But – why would he snog me?”
“Look, of course I know that you two snog. I know you’re not dating, because Summer was with Goldstein, but seriously. Your sexual tension is through the roof. Just go and bloody snog, already, it’s no skin off my nose.”
“Fred... um... nothing is going on –”
“James, you’re a terrible liar, so don’t bother. I’ve known you since we were both kicking around in nappies, you can’t fool me.”
“I – have you said anything to anyone? And how long have you known?”
“I dunno. Since the end of sixth year, I reckon. And no, I ain’t said nothing – I reckoned that everyone already knew. Do they not? Because you guys really aren’t subtle – hell’s teeth, I remember back in September when I looked out the window and saw you two snogging in the bloody Black Lake!”
“What? You saw that?”
“Ha! So you admit it! And yeah, I did – how did you agree to get Summer into the Black Lake, by the way? I always wondered that.”
“He fucking dragged me into it, didn’t he? I was content sitting on the side, but nooo.” I scowled in James’ direction as he shot me a grin that I’m sure was originally intended to be charming. A word to the wise – it wasn’t charming at all. It looked a little creepy, like one of those blokes that hangs out outside Lidl and tries to charm middle aged mums into a date while they’re out buying their sprouts.
“I – I can’t believe you knew all this time. Why did you keep trying to set me up on dates if you knew that I was sort of involved with Summer?” James frowned at Freddie, his expression oddly blank, and Fred shrugged, helping himself to what little remained of the chocolate cake that Penny had been eating.
“I dunno – I knew the thing with you and Summer wasn’t going to last forever, and one of you would most likely end up getting hurt. Probably James, because Summer is the heartless cow of the pair of you. No offence, Summer. I just thought, if you two weren’t going to date each other, then maybe you should date other people – I can’t stand the thought of either of you being hurt.”
“We’ve already been hurt; Freddie, but you didn’t notice that, did you?” James muttered petulantly under his breath, and I dug him in the ribs with my elbow. Now was not the time to bring all that shit up again.
“Eh, what, am I suppose to notice everything nowadays?” Fred shrugged as he poked at the raspberry jelly curiously with the tip of his spoon. “Point is, if James is going to sit there acting like an angsty rat, maybe the two of you should just go hook up. A good shag will probably ease all that tension in James’ shoulders. He doesn’t like my massages, anyway, so that’s off the menu.” Fred pouted at his plate. I cocked an eyebrow at James.
“Erm... Fred has given you a massage before?”
James scowled at me and shot me the bird, before flicking his eyes back down so he could glare at the crumbs on his plate.
“Shut up. It was a really bad Quidditch injury and Fred told me that he had magical healing hands.”
“James, you let your male cousin massage you? That is creepy. And I’m pretty sure a little bit illegal.”
“So what, you’ve never had any female cousins massage you?” James scoffed.
“No! I haven’t! Because I’m normal!” James rolled his eyes.
“You two are so weird,” Fred commented lightly, and the sense of irony was not lost on me. Yes, Fred Weasley was calling us weird. No, I don’t understand it either. “Honestly, I thought you were all fucked up because Summer played tonsil hockey with Albus, not because you never stop fucking arguing.” Fred spooned a few heaps of Greek yoghurt into his bowl.
“How the bloody fuck did you find out what happened with Albus?!” I shrieked, and I only realised how loud I had been screeching when everyone in a five metre radius swivelled around to gape at me. I flushed and watched Fred’s disinterested expression with curiosity.
“Erm... I can’t remember how I found out... Lily might have mentioned it, or I might have seen you... or overheard Natalie the Evil Bitchsnot and Albus talking about it... not sure.” Fred looked quite untroubled, and slowly ran his finger around the edge of the bowl to scoop up the sad remains of the yoghurt.
“I – what do you mean, Lily might have told you? Do the pair of you sit there and have discussions about my private life or something?” James snapped, looking more and more horrified as the conversation went on. It was quite amusing.
“Nah, we were talking about whether or not you’re in love with Summer.”
My mouth dropped open as colour rushed into James’ cheeks and Fred’s expression became even more bored. I noticed a large letter ‘P’ had been inked onto the back of his hand, just above his wrist, and the curling cursive told me that it was Penny who had put it there. God, the boy was head over. It was quite sickening.
“What?” James stammered, glancing at me with huge eyes before turning back to his cousin. “What the bloody fuck do you mean; you were discussing whether or not I’m in love with Summer? That’s private!” Upon glancing my expression, he quickly backtracked. “And I’m not fucking in love with her, how many times do I have to tell Lily that? I love her, but I’m not in love with her.” James shrugged and pulled me a little closer to his side. Fred blinked at the pair of us.
“Is there a really a difference between those two?” Fred asked, cocking an eyebrow at the pair of us.
“Yes.” James and I said in perfect union, and Fred’s surprised expression flicked over to me instead. James’ smile began to look a little twisted next to me.
“Uh-huh. ‘Kay. Whatever. When you two get married, I’m going to remind you that you said that – I think you love each other as friends, but you’re also in love with each other. You’ll realise it one day.” Fred shrugged nonchalantly and pushed himself away from the table and to his feet.
“I’m gonna go hunt down my girl – I’ll see the pair of you later. Try not to get Summer pregnant, I have a feeling that Summer plus preggo hormones would be a really bad thing.” Fred smirked at the pair of us and began to saunter off, but not before James and I glanced at each other and said in perfect unison –
“We are not in love!”
“Scorpius, are you following me?” Honestly, a girl can’t even walk down the corridor on the way to her Charms lesson without being accosted by blonde twats these days. Hogwarts should probably look into doing something about that.
“No, I’m trying to catch up with you, bint.” Ah, cousin love. He flung his arm around my shoulder and together we continued to plough our way down the hallway, Scorpius occasionally hexing the odd first year’s backpack to grow at a rapid rate until they keeled over backwards. It’s always nice to know that that’s the kind of thing you’re related to.
“Charming. Say, why can’t you keep a girl for any longer than two weeks, again?” I asked icily, jabbing him in the ribs with my elboggen.
He grinned at me and rolled his eyes, but his eyes fell flat again quickly and he glanced from side to side, checking to see whether any nosy buggers were close enough to us to be able to hear our conversation. When he saw we were in the all clear zone, he leaned a little closer to my ear and muttered –
“So, how are you doing over the whole divorce and new step mother thing?”
I cocked an eyebrow at his and leant my head against his shoulder, letting the corners of my lips twitch up at the oddly normal looking scene being shared between two normal looking cousins. Though we were pretty normal in comparison to the likes of Fred – though he had seemed pretty normal this morning.
Has he always been that perceptive and sensitive and whatnot?
It’s a bit irritating, to be honest. He just needs to go back to his old ways of being an annoying twit that I can roll my eyes at and ignore his insane antics.
“I’m doing fine, Scorpius. I’m not the one getting the divorce, I’m not the one getting remarried to a whore and I’m not the one that got cheated on. Why wouldn’t I be fine?” I shot a cold look at Scorpius, who shot back his own glance that quite clearly told me to watch my mouth.
“Because your parents are getting a divorce, maybe? Isn’t that usually a stressful time for teenagers? You know, emotional and difficult and shite like that.” I shrugged and stared ahead, making sure that there were no obvious emotions running rampant across my face.
“I’m fine with the whole thing – it’s not like he was ever home, anyway. It will just be a bit awkward spending the Easter hols with my Nana and Grandpa – I mean, I love the pair of them, but they’re just so old fashioned. They think I should be engaged to a nice pureblood boy by now.” I rolled my eyes and Scorpius tightened his arm protectively on my shoulder.
Yeah, I’m not going to suddenly make a dash for it and run away with the aforementioned pureblood boy, Scorpy. You don’t need to have a complete tizz and do.
“Well, you can come and spend the Easter break with me and my parents, if you like. You know my mum and dad adore you.” I grinned. Uncle Draco bought me anything I wanted, and Auntie Astoria always said I was her favourite niece – granted, I was her only niece, but it was still a nice thing for her to say.
“I might drop round every now and again, then,” I muttered, leaning my head further into Scorpius’ chest so he couldn’t see my face. My cheeks were flushing – talking about all this with someone that wasn’t James was just awkward.
“Cool,” Scorpius stretched out the arm that had been around me quickly before swinging it back around my neck and shooting the finger at the bloke who wolf whistled at the pair of us.
Our lovely cousin-love session was suddenly interrupted by a loud shout, coming from someone that sounded like a wheezing squirrel, but who was I to judge? I turned my head and watched Rose Weasley speed walking down the corridor from under Scorpius’ arm.
“Scorpius!” she spluttered again, staggering up to us and leaning against the wall before her legs gave out on her. We both blinked at her, glanced at each other, and then blinked at her again. Rose rolled her fingers around a stitch in her side and struggled to catch her breath, watching us as we were watching her. Like a whole band of creepers.
“Erm, can we help you?” I eventually asked, to break the awkward silence.
Rose straightened up and adopted an extremely Gryffindor expression – she was staring Scorpius straight in the eye, her gaze steady and her mouth pursed professionally. The slight widening of her eyes suggested she was nervous, but she was hiding it well. I noticed that her fancy school shoes were poking out from underneath her robes, and her hair seemed slightly sleeker than usual, like liberal amounts of hair potion had been meticulously applied for days.
I narrowed my eyes in suspicion, trying to figure out what was going on.
“Yes, actually – I was wondering if I could have a word with you, Scorpius. We just haven’t spoken since – for a while, I mean. And I’ve, erm... well, I thought, well, look, can we go somewhere and talk or not?” Rose blinked up at him with those massive brown Weasley eyes of hers and he seemed to melt a little – I could practically feel him slackening next to me. But his eyes were steely grey, just like Uncle Draco’s, and there was no warmth there.
“Sorry, Weasley, I’m spending time with my cousin right now. I mean, I know that I used to just annoy you when I tried to talk to you, so...” Scorpius trailed off, tightened him arm around my shoulder, pulling me up the corridor at inhumane speeds.
An extremely crestfallen Rose Weasley stood in the corridor behind us, blinking those massive brown eyes of hers and looking like she was trying very hard not to burst into tears.
“Scorpius, what the fuck was that?” I snapped as soon as we got far enough away so that she wouldn’t be able to hear us. He blinked guiltily at me so I scowled at him until he eventually sighed, flicking a piece of artfully styled hair out of his eyes.
“I – I don’t want to speak to her,” Scorpius said slowly, and I rolled my eyes. That much was obvious. “I made myself look like right twat for her, acted all pathetic, like a right loser,and she basically said that she wanted nothing more to do with me. I just want to stay away from her. I don’t like all the heartache, so I’m just staying away from it. I just – I can’t be assed anymore.” Scorpius shrugged wearily and I felt my heart tug slightly in my chest for the bloke.
I patted him slowly on the back (my hug quota for the week had already been filled by my mother and James) and rested my head on his shoulder.
“It’s alright, Scorpius, it’s alright. You’re gonna be fine, and I know that because you’re one of the most amazing guys I know. You really are. You’re an overprotective, bigheaded git but you’re my cousin and I love you – and so will some girl, someday. You’ll be fine.”
“You really think so?” Scorpius asked, looking uncharacteristically vulnerable.
“Wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t,” I answered shortly, feeling my patience levels dwindling.
“I’m sad, Summer,” he suddenly sighed, and I closed my eyes briefly. Leaning up on my tippy toes, I pressed my lips quickly against his cheek and mussed up his oiled hair, to which he freaked out to scarily feminine proportions.
“I know, love. But you’ll be fine. We’ll both be fine. Everything will sort itself out, I promise.” Scorpius nodded and cleared his throat gruffly, emotional moment over.
“Merlin, she’s so fucking hot,” Fred sighed, gesturing to a press photo of wizarding singer Cheyenne Smithson leaving The Butterrock with one of the fittest blokes I had ever seen in my life. Connor and James both leaned in to see what he was pointing at and groaned simultaneously, causing all three of us girls to purse our lips in sync. We’re all very coordinated with one another.
I swung my leg out and kicked James sharply in the ankle, shooting him a warning look. Cheyenne Smithson was a right slapper – one of those wannabe famous girls that had their extensions dyed brassy blonde and layered on foundation until they looked powdery and a funny colour. You know – the ones that look like they’ve stuck spiders onto their eyelids.
I mean, I’m a fan of false eyelashes, but they just take it too far. Why would anyone was to make themselves look like they’d coloured their eyelids in with Sharpie?
But for some reason, pretty much every bloke in the wizarding world between the ages of 12 and 29 had the same picture of her pinned up on his wall – her lying on a grassy field with an apple missing one bite in her hand, her stupid curls corkscrewing around her face and CHEYENNE SMITHSON printed in curling white letters along the bottom. I think Dom set fire to Connor’s copy.
“She’s a skank,” Dom snapped, shooting Connor a glare very similar to mine and taking a prim bite of her cottage pie.
“Dom’s right – that girl is exactly the kind of thing that is forcing eleven year old girls into believing that they have to wear makeup and stuff their bras. It’s sickening – she’s so fake that I’m surprised she’s still functioning. I would have guessed that that much plastic in one person would have been lethal.”
I blinked at Penny’s complete dismissal of Cheyenne Smithson as a person, wondering idly when she became such a judgemental lassie. Normally Penny was all snooty and ‘you can’t judge them until you’ve met them’.
“Aw, come on, Penelope! She’s hot – she might be a whore, but she’s fucking hot, and I don’t mind staring at the outcome of her whoreish antics. I mean, have you seen the size of her boobs? You could float the lot of us to safety if we fell into the middle of the ocean with those fuckers. Yeah, they’re fake, but you know what – I really don’t care.”
Fred chuckled and dug both Connor and James in the ribs, to which they chuckled and nodded in agreement, much to varying levels of disapproval between all us girls.
“Connor, please have Fred close that magazine or stop looking at it,” Dom said tightly, crossing her arms over her chest, “and please don’t make me look stupid in front of our friends by agreeing with them over me – I’ve told you before not to look at pictures of other girls.”
I gaped at the side of Dom’s head, and James shot me a look that quite clearly screamed ‘uh-oh’.
Connor rolled his eyes and leaned across the table to peck Dom on the lips. She moved her head quickly, and his lips caught her cheek. The flash of hurt that flitted across the poor bloke’s face did not go unnoticed by the rest of us.
“Dom, it’s just a picture in a magazine – it’s harmless. It’s not like I’m ever going to meet her. Not being funny, sweetie, but I heard you and Summer giggling yesterday over how fit Lance Hughes from Ravenclaw’s arse was.” Dom’s expression dropped and James shot me a cocked eyebrow across the table. I suddenly became very interested in a spot on the tablecloth. What could it be – French mustard, maybe?
“I don’t give a shit if it is just a picture in a magazine!”
“What? So, I can’t even read magazines anymore, because I’m dating you? How the fuck is that fair, Dominique?”
You never know, it could always just be a bit of crusty ketchup.
“Don’t you ‘Dominique’ me, Connor Dale! The point is that you’re perving on images of other girls, when you shouldn’t be – that could probably be classed as cheating in some cultures!”
Maybe I could try and scratch it off with my fingernail.
“Oh don’t talk shite. Merlin, when did you become so goddamn controlling? It’s getting ridiculous – I can hardly breathe without asking your permission first! Jesus, Dom, I’m my own person and I’ll do what I want. You don’t get to tell me what I can and cannot do just because you’re my sodding girlfriend.” He shot Dom a scathing look and she swelled in anger. I blinked up from scratching at the stain and stared at the pair of them.
Both were red in the face and breathing heavily, glaring at each other with all the unresolved issues and the stark cruelty of reality that Jack had been talking about written all over their faces.
That’s what he said, wasn’t it? That Dom was going to have to face up to the fact that her and Connor’s relationship was not going to be some flawless shebang in which she gets treated like a princess and nothing ever goes wrong – and I guess the face that it isn’t true had only just hit home for her. Poor Connor was the one that would have to pay the price.
Though I had to agree with him – Dom had become exceedingly controlling lately. She told him what to wear, what to eat, where to sit, what they were going to do... It was getting insane. And he just went along with her antics because he was go bloody head over heels for her that he was blind to see the fact they were sliding down a slippery slope.
“Oh, well I’m sorry for trying to make sure that our relationship works out and we get on well!” Dom shrieked back, slamming her hands flat onto the table and attracting the attention of most of the hall.
“What do you mean, trying to make sure we get along well? Get along well because you tell me how to do everything and I never argue, you mean? Our relationship works out because you’re still the Queen Bee and you get to control everything while I run around at your feet like a little lost puppy?” Connor was scowling, looking more furious than I had seen him for years.
“Fuck off,” Dom snarled, and pushed herself off the bench before stalking out of the great hall. We all blinked after her for about half a second, three quarters of a second at the most, before Connor leapt away from the table, stalking after her screaming –
“Dominique Weasley, don’t walk away from me! I’m not done yet!”
Oh fuck. Why do I have a feeling I’m going to have my ear chewed off tonight?
“Summer? What are you doing? Because if you tell me that you’re gazing lovingly out up at the stars then I’m either going to lose my faith in humanity or take you to get your head checked. I swear, I will.” I turned around from my position curled up on the largest and comfiest windowsill and glared at James, who was leaning against the doorframe with his arms folded across his chest and his hair flopping sexily into his eyes like – like a sexy floppy thing, you know.
“No, I’m sitting on my own for a while,” I said quietly, and James frowned at me. He strolled over to me from the door and lightly shoved me along the windowsill, creating a space big enough for him to park himself next to me.
“Okay. What’s the matter?” James peered at my face and a frown creased his forehead, and he slowly leant forwards to run his thumb along my cheek. His mouth was a little open, and I could feel his warm breath on my neck. I shivered slightly with the contrast from the cold air from outside the window.
“Nothing,” I grumbled, tucking my knees up under my chin so James couldn’t lean any closer and leaning the side of my head against the wall next to me. James frowned at me again.
“Summer, have you been crying?” James asked quietly, looking a little horrified. He brought his hand back to his side quickly and began to fumble around in his pocket, before pulling out a severely crumpled tissue dotted with several suspicious black stains. I stared at the thing apprehensively and James quickly whipped his wand out – ooh er – and charmed it clean.
He shoved the thing brusquely under my nose and turned to look away, and I knew he was doing it because he knew I would be mortified.
“Thanks,” I muttered thickly, and dabbed quickly at the dampness on my cheeks with almost indecent haste. James slowly shuffled up on the windowsill and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, brushing some hair off my face.
Something black and winged – an owl, maybe? – flapped past the moon and made a big black speckle against the light. I frowned at the selfishness of the owl for blocking out the light for all the good people of the country who most likely have to pay Moon Tax now, but before I could mention to James about how that owl should have been hexed out of the sky, he had begun to talk again.
“Hey, Summer – I was, erm, well, I was thinking before,” he shuffled around awkwardly, squirmed a little and ran his hand through his hair, before cutting off and flushing the colour of an extremely ripe beetroot. Wait – are beetroots ever not ripe?
I had never seen James so uncomfortable – he was shuffling his shoulders, flushing, flicking his eyes all over the place to avoid my gaze and sticking his feet out into the open air for something to do that wasn’t talking to me.
“You don’t want to do that too often, James, you might put strain on the one brain cell that’s left.” I dug James in the ribs but frowned when he didn’t respond. His eyes remained stoically staring out at the blackened grounds in front of us.
“Right, erm – no, you know what, just ignore me. It’s not important anyway.” I frowned and shifted on the windowsill so I was sideways, kicked my feet over James’ knees and stared at him.
“James, tell me.”
“No, no – it’s not important.”
“James, tell me, or I swear to Merlin that I’m going to come over there, sit on your knee, wait until your legs go dead and then make you walk up and down this tower.”
“It really doesn’t matter, I was just thinking and – you’re right. I shouldn’t be thinking. Just drop it, Summer, it was stupid idea anyway.”
“Jamessssss. I really want to know now,” I whined, and he rolled his eyes.
“Fine – fine! I was just – well, I was thinking before about all the fighting we’ve been doing over the last two months, and, erm...” James broke off again, and I frowned. What was so hard for him to just spit out?
“What, James – just tell me. If it’s really bad, I promise I’ll try my hardest to try and not lose my temper. I really have been making an effort for the past couple of days.”
“I know you have – and you’re doing really well. I mean, throwing that bread roll at that first year at dinner yesterday was a little uncalled for, but good on you for trying.”
“Right – are you ever going to get back to what you were going to tell me?”
“Right – erm, okay. Right, so I was thinking about what we were fighting about, and I remembered a lot of the time that you were... sort of pissed off that I snogged you for so long but I never actually asked you out on a date. And Connor and Fred were talking last night when they thought I was asleep, and they – they were both saying how insane it was that the two of us never... never even tried to do the – the dating thing.”
My mouth dropped open a little bit, and I blinked at James in shock as his blush bloomed even brighter and crawled down his neck. I almost felt the need to giggle – the whole situation was quite ridiculous.
“Go on,” I muttered, leaning forwards. Something was fluttering uncomfortably in my stomach. Everything in that moment seemed to be resting on his next words, the entire room seemed to be waiting with baited breath.
“Well, erm – I sort of saw where they were coming from, for the first time. I just kind of realised how ridiculous our entire situation was. I mean – it was just so strange. And we didn’t even think about trying a date, because... I just don’t know. And it seemed insane. And lately things have been going so well, and I just thought – erm...”
I pressed my lips together to stop them for curling up into a grin and wrapped my arms around my chest.
“Yeah? You just thought what?” I asked when he didn’t say anything.
“I was just wondering, erm... Summer, I was wondering if –” he cut off again and uncomfortably ran his hand over the back of his head.
“James!” I laughed, and he jumped violently. “James, why are you so nervous? Just ask me, seriously. Stop acting like a tit.” He scowled at me and shuffled a little closer, ran one of his hands down my legs – which were still kicked over his knees – and pressed his lips to my temple.
“Okay. Erm, Summer? I think I’m in the right place now, and what you said about moving on from Natalie and Albus was right, and I think I’m starting to see where you’re coming from, and I – I know you’re... erm – look, I...”
“Will you go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend? On a date, I mean.” I grinned and hugged my arms a little tighter, turned my head sideways and caught James’ lips in a chaste kiss, before leaning back and resting the crown of my head against the wall.
“Sure, why not? It’s either that or watching Connor scowl at Dom and Fred try to force the pair of them to talk again by tossing peas at them.” James laughed, and curled his fingers around my own.
We sat there in silence until the sun started to come up over the scraggy mountains, my head on his shoulder, my eyelids drooping heavily and James’ steady breathing tickling my ear. It was one of the most annoyingly sentimental things that had ever happened to me, but I didn’t mind. For some reason, I didn’t. I probably would start to mind if James started taking the piss out of me because of it, but right then – I was happy.
Not safe, not safe at all (we were sitting on the windowsill of a tower, after all) but I was undoubtedly happy.
“What are you so happy about?” Penny asked suspiciously when I stumbled back into the dorm the next evening, having just gotten back from a lovely snogging session with James in the abandoned Transfig classroom on the fourth floor. I grinned at her from where she was laying on the floor, a book under her face, and dropped down onto my bed.
“What, am I not allowed to smile or something? That’s lovely, that is.” My voice wasn’t as angry as it usually was, but Penny rolled her eyes all the same.
“Yes, you are allowed to smile, but you don’t generally do that. In fact, I generally think there is something wrong with you unless you’re scowling at everything in sight.” I rolled my eyes and cheerfully lay down on the bed, sticking my feet up in the air, kicking off my shoes and waggling my toes one at a time.
I laughed and rolled over onto my stomach, glancing down at her from the edge of the bed. There was a little smudged lipstick around her mouth and her hair was sticking up at the back, but her eyes were shining in a way I hadn’t seen them do for a very long time.
“Things going well with the Weasel, then?” I asked slowly, and Penny blinked up at me coyly from under her eyelashes.
“Things are going very well, thank you for asking.” Penny smiled shyly and turned the page in her book, despite not having read any of the words. I grinned and rolled off the bed, landed in a heap next to her and lolling my head onto her brick of a textbook. What sad git actually sat there and wrote an entire novel on – ah, The History of the Usage of Gold in Alchemy... I wonder if Penny will let me borrow that for some light bedtime reading...
“Right, they’re clearly going really well if you have nothing better to do than sit here and read a book about something that should only really be used to make lovely jewellery for my mother to blow her cash on.” Penny laughed as I rolled my eyes and scowled.
“He has detention tonight, and we have to read the entire of this book by next Tuesday for Advanced Potions,” Penny smiled softly and glanced back down at her page.
“Well I hardly thought you were reading it for fun, did I? What did Freddie get detention for?”
“He, erm – he punched Kane again. McGonagall said she was sick of his ‘brawling’ and that he needed to learn to control his temper. I was so scared he was going to tell her what happened, the reason he had been beating Kane up.” I didn’t miss the way she said Kane’s name – almost hesitantly, like there was something taboo about saying his name alone.
Good Merlin, girl, he’s not sodding Voldemort.
“What did Kane do this time, to make Fred punch him? Did he say something to you, or something to Fred, or what?” Penny looked uncomfortably down at her fingers and then brought her hands down to her robe pocket, pulled out an impeccably folded piece of paper that you could tell had originally been crumpled, and pushed it towards me.
“He – he got that into here, somehow. It was on my pillow when I came up here at lunch this morning to grab my Charms textbook. Like he knew I was going to come back and see it.” She shuddered delicately, and I hesitantly peeled the parchment open.
What the fuck are you playing at, shagging that Weasley fucker? How dare you? You know you’re my girl, and you’ll stay that way. Don’t forget that. You’re mine, Penny, and I’m gonna get you back. I don’t give a shit if that chunk of lard tries to stop me. He’ll just have to go.
I gaped at the ‘letter’ and then up at Penny, trying to force the implicit threat in the scrawl from my mind – because it was a threat, plain and simple. And a nasty one at that. I mean, how dare he threaten to hurt my Fred – no. Like shit.
“I’m not even sleeping with Fred – but Kane assumed I am. He always assumed the worst, always. That’s why his temper was so bad – he was convinced I was cheating on him for most of the time we were together. Used to talk about it in front of me with his mates, trying to get me a reputation. And I never got one, because – because Fred used to beat them up to stop them before they could say anything.”
My jaw dropped open.
“I feel really blind, you know – I never noticed that Fred liked me until recently, and really, he’s done so much to show me. I feel like an idiot, I really do.”
I shuffled sideways a little on my stomach and awkwardly patted Penny on the back, aware that this was the first time she had ever truly opened up about Fred and Kane to anyone that wasn’t, well, Fred. But he already knew about himself, so it was kind of pointless telling him.
“There is one thing I never understood – do you mind if I ask you?” I said slowly, and Penny shook her head.
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Well, you said Kane used to talk about you cheating in front of his mates to try and get you a name, he used to... he used to batter you, Penny, he bullied you, he was awful – why did you ever want to be with him? Why did you stay in the first place? Why didn’t you run screaming like anyone else would have?”
Penny stiffened slightly and slowly climbed up off the floor and onto her feet, staring down at me with a strangely blank yet furious expression on her face. She looked ghost-like – I’d never seen her like that before. She looked almost scary.
“That is none of your business, Summer,” she said icily, and I instantly recoiled, regretting ever speaking.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you –”
“What, you think you can just walk in here and judge me for my past relationships? I bloody loved him, Summer, that’s why I stayed with him! Not that you’d ever understand that because everyone knows there is just a steel rock in your chest where your bloody heart is supposed to be! No, you can’t comprehend something like that because you’re black and white and can’t understand anything that isn’t thrust under your nose by someone else!”
I gaped in shock – never before had I seen Penny angry, and never before had I ever heard Penny insult anyone. Least of all me.
“I didn’t judge you after your very public and embarrassing break with Andrew, after Callum took advantage of you, after you and Jack split – I supported you! Just like I supported you when you were single for a sodding year because you’re so bloody scared of commitment! Never have I judged you for who you’ve dated because I’m your friend and friends don’t do that! Do you think I thought you should be dating Rose’s ex-boyfriend? No! But I shut my mouth because he made you happy!”
“Kane didn’t make you happy! He made you sad, Penny!” I knew I shouldn’t have been arguing back, but I was just so angry – at being spoken to like that by Penny, about how blind she was being, about how she was still defending Kane – the list was endless.
And basically, I was pissed.
“You don’t know how he made me feel, Summer!”
“You had bruises all over you and would come home most nights crying, Penny – people who are in happy and sane relationships don’t do that!” I shoved myself to my feet so I was taller that her, and started coldly into her icy eyes.
“You have no right to talk about relationships, Summer. Name one of yours that has ever been anywhere near decent.”
James. But I couldn’t say that, so I bit my tongue and stared her down, clenching my fists behind my back to resist the urge to whip out my wand and hex my own best friend. Does that make me a terrible person?
“That’s what I thought,” she laughed coldly, but then her voice changed. It became softer, sadder – a little regretful. “Why couldn’t you have just supported me? Why couldn’t you have just been happy for me and helped me through it like I would have done if it was you?”
“Because I won’t ever support my best friend when she’s dating an abusive monster.”
I regretted the words the moment they fell from my lips, but I couldn’t turn into a human vacuum and suck them right back in again. She’d heard them, and the falling of her face showed what she felt about them. I felt sick, and shut my eyes against the stress. It was all too much – not Penny, too.
Why was everything such a mess lately?
“Thanks, bestie. Thanks a lot.” Penny turned on her heel and stormed from the room, slamming her way out of the dorm and leaving me standing there in silence. I knew I was wrong to say some of the things I said, but she – the things she said about me!
I told James, and I was telling the truth – I won’t lie down and let people say shit about me.
“I hate him!” A voice roared from the doorway, and for a moment I thought Penny had returned. But no, standing in the doorway was none other than a hysterical Dominique Weasley. Her golden hair was hanging around her face, having fallen out of its artful bun, and her mascara was smudged down her cheeks. I couldn’t help but think of her as a fallen angel, as sobs wracked her body.
“That bastard I once called my boyfriend!” she snarled, wiping her hand across her nose and sniffing an almighty sniff. She suddenly launched herself my chest and wrapped her arms in a chokehold around my neck, sobbing into my shoulder. “He broke up with me, Summer. Yelled a load of horrible shit and then said he couldn’t put up with the ‘new me’ anymore, and said it was over. He – he left me.” My stomach dropped into my feet. Not ConDom. Not the unbreakable couple. No.
“I – I’m so sorry,” I said honestly, and Dom chuckled weakly.
“Still, that means I’m free for the Hogsmeade weekend. We can do something together, like get our nails done or go shopping or – or Quidditch! Whatever you want!” Her face fell at the expression on mine, and her eyes filled with tears again. “I mean, you will stay with me, won’t you? If you have a date, you’ll call it off, right? For me? I – I don’t want to be alone. Stay with me, Summer. Will you?”
“I – I –” Oh, fuck.
disclaimer: nothing in this chapter belongs to me.
what's summer gonnaaa doooo? i'm in a singy mood. sue me. RIGHT. i only have one thing to say in this note, and i don't want to forget ~ i am writing two new stories (well, i'm writing four but two are nowhere near ready) since being summer is coming to an end, and they are both being updated very soon. okay, i'm thinking that my new albus/oc will go in the queue after this chapter, and that is called daddy's girl, so keep an eye out for that!
and then, i'm uploading a fic about a muggle girl (called brigitte, in case you wanted to know) which is another james/oc, haha, and that will be up after maybe another chapter of both bang and being summer. and that is called... oh merlin, what's it called? timebomb! it's called timebomb. and that will be up soon too. so keep an eye out for those, chicks :D
but yes... back to being summer ~ what is summer gonna do? stick with dom or go on her date with james. ellie wants to know what you thinkkkkk.
ellie :) xx
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