Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything else that you might recognize.
A/N: I'm starting this with an author's note, because I want to apologize for taking so long to update this! I've had to fight my way through many obstacles, including a broken laptop that took with it everything I had written for this story (which was A LOT) and caused my muse to runaway.
But I'm back now with a new chapter and a newfound inspiration for writing. Hopefully you'll like it ^^
And once again thank you to everyone who have been pestering me about this story, without you this chapter wouldn't be done! A special thanks to CambAngst for being my lovely beta and correcting my very rusty writing skills!
Shutting up now d: Enjoy!
Chapter nineteen – Confessions
I was going to murder him.
He’d be dead the moment he dared to step through my front door, because nothing – absolutely nothing – would suffice as an explanation for this!
Six days! It had been six days since he left and I had not heard a single word from him since. You did not treat your worried best friend like that! And you most definitely had to answer the letters she sent!
I was going mental. It was crazy how I couldn’t even function properly when he wasn’t around. I spent my days in my flat, doing the same things over and over again because I had nothing better to do. I don’t think my broom had ever been so clean and polished before; it would be a wonder if I even managed to stay on it when I finally got the chance to try it out again – something that would happen very soon, according to my Healer.
But even that didn’t keep my mind occupied enough.
Where was James? Was he alright?
That was all I could think of. Well that and the teeny, tiny fact that he was single again.
He was single and I didn’t really have to get over him.
I could feel it already – the doubt building up inside me, searching for faults in Joshua and trying to find the reasons why our relationship wouldn’t last. I was trying hard to ignore those feelings, but they were still there, constantly bubbling in the back of my mind. And I knew it would be a million times worse when James eventually came back. When he would smile at me in a way that made my heart melt. When he would point out why he didn’t like my boyfriend. When he would hold me close again.
The same cycle would begin all over again and I hated the mere idea of it.
I closed my eyes, trying to force those thoughts out of my mind. I was getting quite sick of the same twisting and twirling images.
Why did I do this to myself every single time? Why did I let him ruin every single relationship I had and fool me into thinking that this would finally be the time when he’d show some interest toward me?
It wasn’t really healthy. I knew that perfectly well, yet I hadn’t really done much to prevent it from happening. I just willingly tortured myself every time, even though there was every reason to believe that things would turn out exactly the way they always did. But I found hope in the littlest things – it was always something he had said or the way he had looked at me that made my heart pound out of my chest, making me forget all the pain and heartbreak.
This time it was Molly’s words that echoed in my head. Could it be possible? Could it really be that he was in love with me, but he was only faking it, just like I was?
It would be so easy to believe that, but inside my mind I knew it would be pointless. It wasn’t true and it was about time I realised that.
I had to get out of this self-destructive path – I had to get over him this time because I couldn’t let myself ruin what I had going on with Joshua. I couldn’t mess up another relationship because of the flimsy hopes and expectations that always proved out to be wrong. And besides, for the first time, a part of me didn’t even want to do it. I really wanted to be with Joshua and to make it work with him.
But to make that happen, I had to stay strong.
I needed to learn how to live without James. I couldn’t always just run to him when I was in need of comfort. I needed to learn how to trust other people with my problems too, no matter how awkward it would feel.
And now I was going to take the first step towards that.
“Gwen?” a friendly voice called from the living room.
“In here,” I replied from my bedroom floor where I was – once again – polishing my broom, just to have something else to occupy my mind.
Didn’t really work…
I grabbed the jar of broom wax from the floor and managed to fasten the lid just before Rose Weasley appeared on the doorway.
“Hi, how are you?” she asked, a warm and pleased smile on her lips. I could tell she was trying hard to contain the happiness that my letter had caused, so she wouldn’t scare me off with her over-enthusiasm.
It was nice, and at least she wasn’t crying like the last time, but I did feel a bit guilty. I really didn’t owl her as often as I should.
“Fine, fine,” I replied as I stashed the broom and its servicing kit away in their rightful place. When I turned to face her again, I could see the doubt in Rosie’s eyes and it filled me with an overpowering need to add something else. “Seriously. I’m bored as hell since James isn’t here to cheer me up, so I just wanted some company. But other than that I’m fine.”
I smiled and forced myself to maintain eye contact, trying not to fiddle the hem of my shirt too much and give away that it wasn’t the real truth. It seemed to work; even though Rosie didn’t look completely convinced, she let it go. “Well I’m glad, because I was having such a boring day too. Scorpius is working late and I had nothing to do. I was just about to go and see if Hugo was home before your owl came, and you know how that trip always ends. He ends up kicking me out because I can’t stand the pit he calls home and always try to clean it up. Honestly, one would think he’d appreciate the help.”
“Maybe he’s hiding something that he doesn’t want his big sister to find out,” I replied with a grin and gestured Rosie back through the doorway.
“Nonsense. He has no secrets from me,” she laughed. “And besides, he really should let me help. I swear to Merlin he will get evicted from that flat if Nana ever sees it in that condition again. I don’t think there is a single person in this whole country that didn’t hear the previous lecture.”
I chuckled amusedly, feeling my mood already lifting. Rosie always had that effect on me.
“You want some coffee?” I questioned as we stepped into the living room.
She nodded. “Sure, that would be lovely.”
Rosie followed me into the kitchen and leaned on the counter, watching in silence as I lazily waved my wand to start the coffee making process. I waited for her to say something – I was certain she wanted to know if James had contacted me – but she just continued to examine my work quietly, probably waiting for us to sit down first.
I wanted to kick myself for being such a coward and not saying anything; I would rather stay silent and let the awkwardness take over than say something. I had decided to make the effort and that was exactly what I was going to do. So after I got the coffee running, I cleared my throat a little and prepared myself for actually having a real, serious conversation with someone other than my best friend. “I haven’t heard from him.”
A sideway glance in Rose’s direction revealed a surprised look, as though she hadn’t been expecting me to say anything about it, at least not voluntarily. She got rid of it quickly. “Oh? I was certain he had at least owled you. I asked Aunt Ginny about him the other day and she didn’t know anything either.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, I guess he meant it when he said he wanted to be alone.”
“But I’m sure he’s fine. He just needs time, it was such a shock,” the red-headed woman hurried to say with a comforting smile. “And it’s been only six days.”
It was hard to resist a snort. Only? There was nothing only about that!
During those six days I had actually thought about it and realised that since we started Hogwarts at the age of eleven, there had never – and I really mean never – been a time when we had spent this long apart without any kind of contact. Even during vacations we sent owls practically every day, or blackmailed our parents into taking us to see each other. And ever since school ended, there hadn’t been more than two days in a row when I hadn’t seen him.
“I wonder how he’s doing. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s going through his head right now,” Rosie continued.
This time I did snort. “Probably not much. He’s most likely too drunk right now to even think straight. That’s always his solution to these kinds of things.”
Rosie frowned a bit. “Really?”
I nodded. “Yeah. It’s either that, or talking to me. And since I’m here…”
At least that’s what I wanted to think, but it probably wasn’t true. There was also a third option, the most obvious one of them. He was almost certainly picking up girls from a bar or someplace else, trying to forget everything that happened with Kat and getting back to his old ways. That’s what he always did after the few of his more ‘serious’ relationships ended. He moved on, so why would he change his ways this time?
“How are you coping with that? Not being able to talk to him about what happened? I’m sure it has affected you too,” Rosie asked.
I shrugged once again, not really knowing how to answer. Truth be told, I tried not to think about it too much because it only made me feel sad. I couldn’t completely understand his reasons for leaving. Never before had he refused my help like that, and that was quite unnerving for me. The feelings that came with that were too much for me to handle.
Oh why couldn’t everything be the way they used to be before that conniving bitch appeared in our life?
Even the thought of her got my blood boiling. She had gotten away too easily, much too easily. I wanted her to suffer so much more and to deal with the consequences of her actions, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Well, almost anything.
I had ‘accidentally’ managed to destroy every single one of her belongings that I found in James’s flat, childishly hoping that it would sting at least a little bit when she wasn’t able to wear all those designer dresses – if she was even going to come back for them. I really couldn’t care less if she made me pay for them; it had been extremely satisfying and I didn’t regret one minute of it.
But I couldn’t really tell Rosie that.
Fortunately for me, she started to talk about other things as I poured us some coffee, but that’s where my luck ended. “How’s Joshua? Have you been spending all your time with him then?”
“No, not really. He’s been working a lot lately so I haven’t seen him that much,” I responded, trying to keep my expression calm and just smile when I handed her coffee mug, hoping that Rosie wouldn’t realise it was a complete lie.
During the past six days I had seen Joshua once. Sure, he had been working, but he had been home during the evenings. Truthfully, I was avoiding him. I feared that my conflicting thoughts would get the best of me and I’d end up ruining our relationship before I managed to clear my head completely of everything that involved James. So when he had dropped by my flat the other day, I had politely turned him down, telling him that I had plans with my friends.
And yesterday when he had appeared behind my door again, I had pretended that I wasn’t home.
I was such a shitty girlfriend.
But I just didn’t want to end up regretting that I ruined the first relationship where I actually cared about the person I was with. Because I did want to be with him, no matter how much I was in love with my best friend. I had already developed feelings for Joshua too and they were growing stronger every day. So if I could just get rid of my feelings towards James, everything would be perfect.
“Is everything alright with him?” Rosie asked carefully, seeing through my fake smile.
“Yeah, he’s great,” I hurried to reassure as I sat down at my kitchen table. She still didn’t seem to buy it though, so I had to add: “Really, I’ve just been on a crappy mood because I’ve been so angry with Kat and worried about James. I didn’t want to make him go through that.”
This opening up seemed to be going really well – all I kept doing was lying.
“Aah.” Rosie nodded in understanding from across the table. “So what have you been up to then?”
“Not much. Spent time with Freddy, he’s been loitering here every day.”
At least that part was true. Freddy had been spending an awfully lot of time at my flat for the past few days. At first I suspected that he was having some problems with Jenny, but I quickly found out that wasn’t the case. He was just determined to keep me company since apparently he knew I didn’t function that well on my own.
That had been the moment when I realised that I really needed to change things.
Seriously, when had I gotten that pathetic? I swear I wasn’t always this bad. But now, I couldn’t manage to do anything if he wasn’t around? I really, really needed to do something about it.
It had probably happened around the time of the accident with my parents. I had been such a mess back then and depended on James for everything. He had been quite protective ever since and I had let him, loving the attention I got from him. But I didn’t realise how hurtful it had been.
Maybe if I managed to open up to someone else about all that it would get easier and I would finally be able to let go of James?
It hadn’t really been going well so far. I tried to talk to Freddy about it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to start the conversation. It felt too awkward. I knew James had kept Freddy informed about the whole situation with my dad – he had asked my permission for it – so I thought it would be really easy to talk to Fred about it. But to actually start the conversation myself, it felt too weird. I couldn’t do it.
So I decided to try to talk to someone else first.
I didn’t have many options. Of course there was Joshua, but as I was having my doubts about the relationship, that didn’t feel like the solution. I was left with Vic and Rose, and the red-haired woman felt like an easier choice. I knew she would wait patiently and let me take my time with my answers.
Like now – I was certain she could sense that I had something I wanted to talk about, so she sat there, babbling about something Freddy had done awhile back, giving me the time to gather my thoughts.
I swallowed a bit nervously and scratched my arm as I tried to think how I should begin the conversation. Should I just blurt it out, or maybe continue the discussion about Freddy for a while and somehow try to lead the conversation to my dad?
The latter one seemed to be the more tempting choice, but there was a huge risk that I’d just keep on avoiding the subject until it was time for her to go. And knowing me, that would be the exact thing I would do.
So I waited for her to finish her story. When the pause in the conversation came, I took a deep breath and glanced at the red-haired woman. “My dad’s not getting out of the prison.”
Rosie’s eyes widened and the mug stopped on her lips as she was taken by surprise. My mouth twitched amusedly as I realised if I had spoken a few seconds later, I might now be covered with a spurt of coffee, judging by the look on her face. I bet she never could have guessed this was the subject I wanted to talk about.
Rosie lowered her mug to the table and opened her mouth, only to close it again as she was trying hard to figure out how to react to my sudden statement. A neutral “oh?” was all that eventually came out of her mouth.
I nodded. “Yeah, Harry told me. Dad didn’t want to get out.”
“Oh?” she repeated, now with a little frown as she tried to understand what that meant.
“He told them that he didn’t deserve freedom.”
“Isn’t that a bit odd?” she questioned and I agreed. “How – how are you feeling about that?”
I pondered my response for a moment. Honestly, I still didn’t really know. Sure, I was happy about it. Dad deserved to rot in Azkaban for the rest of his life for what he’d done. But still, I couldn’t help it, I felt weird about the whole thing. The wizarding prison was a horrible place – why would he choose to stay there when he had the possibility to get out? It couldn’t be because he was trying to manipulate me, could it? Five more years of imprisonment didn’t really seem worth it.
So I shrugged. “I’m not sure. I’m glad I don’t have to confront him yet, but at the same time I’m having mixed feelings about why he would want to stay there. Is he feeling remorse or is it something else?”
“Hmm,” Rose commented. “What else do you think it could be then?”
“I don’t know. In my head he’s this heartless person who didn’t care one bit about me and my mum. So when he does something like that, it just doesn’t add up.”
“Maybe he’s trying to protect you? How much do you know about his gambling problems and the reasons he got into this trouble in the first place?”
“Not much. Only what Harry told me after dad’s trial.”
Rose stayed silent and waited for me to continue.
“I don’t know how he originally got into trouble. All he said was that he’d been stupid and easily controlled. They had managed to lure him in too deep and when he realised that, it was too late to get out. But that’s just bloody excuses if you ask me. He should’ve confessed it to mum or to me, and we could’ve found a way to help him. That’s what he should’ve done and none of this would’ve happened.”
I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples, trying to get rid of those thoughts. There were so many things that should’ve and could’ve happened, but they didn’t and I couldn’t change that. It was stupid to waste my time thinking like that.
“Anyways,” I continued, “I don’t think he’s trying to protect me either. You remember that accident in the apothecary? It was dad who pushed that shelf on me, so I wouldn’t say he’s the protecting type.”
“That was him?!” Rosie gasped in shock, remembering the freaky accident. “But why?”
“Apparently he needed to prevent me from getting to the last game of the season. So that’s my dad for you. Such a loving man, isn’t he?” I muttered darkly, keeping my gaze fixed on my coffee mug.
“Oh, sweetie…” she started, but I quickly interrupted her.
“It doesn’t matter. I’d rather not think about that too much, if you don’t mind?”
Rosie frowned again. In her opinion I should probably deal with it in a different way, but I just couldn’t. That would only raise more questions – questions I couldn’t get answered without facing my dad. And that was the last thing I wanted to do.
I hurried to continue my tale. “After that the whole Christmas episode happened. James can probably give you a better explanation since I don’t really remember a lot, or even want to talk about it. But that’s the last time I saw my dad and I plan on keeping it like that for a long time.”
Rosie nodded with a small furrow on her forehead. “He was Imperiused, right?”
“Yeah. That’s what they say.”
“Was he Imperiused when he pushed that shelf on you?”
I opened my mouth to say no, but realised I couldn’t be sure. “I don’t know.”
I didn’t actually know anything else about it. He had confessed it in his hearing, but that’s all he had said about it. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind before now.
“Do you think he could’ve been?”
“I – I don’t know,” I admitted.
Maybe? I really couldn’t be sure. Honestly, it made my head hurt to even try to figure it out. If there was any possibility that it wasn’t his fault, that someone else was responsible for the horrible things he’d done, it blew a hole in the tidy emotional wall I’d built around the whole awful experience. I couldn’t handle that right now. Not while I was trying to deal with everything that had happened with James and still not wreck my relationship with Joshua. Besides, it didn’t really matter; he had made the choice in the first place, he shouldn’t have gotten involved in the gambling business.
Rose waited patiently for me to continue, but I didn’t know what else to say. I felt bad for not talking to her or to anyone else about any of this before. What had I been thinking? That it would get too emotional and I’d start crying? No, I was good at controlling my feelings, I could easily prevent that.
But I guess that was still close. My biggest difficulty with others was that I didn’t like to show my weaknesses that way. With James it was different. He knew me inside and out, everything was so effortless and it didn’t matter if I wanted to cry. He had seen me at my absolute worst, so there was nothing I needed to hide from him.
It had been so easy to confide to him. And when I had done just that, it grew more and more difficult to say anything to others. But it was wrong and very unfair towards my other friends.
“I’m sorry,” I said, fiddling my coffee mug between my fingers while feeling unable to meet Rosie’s gaze.
“Why?” she questioned, the puzzlement evident in her tone.
I glanced at her carefully, frowning a bit apologetically when I saw the confusion in her expression. “For not talking about him earlier.”
“Oh, sweetie! You don’t have any reason to apologize for something like that! I know it’s a hard subject for you and that you don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I understand your reasons completely!”
“But still, it’s not fair. You’re a close friend, I should’ve at least said something.”
“No one would ever judge you for that! What happened with your parents was horrible. It’s completely understandable that you don’t want to talk about it with everyone! We all worry about you and want to help you, but we understand. And at least you’ve talked about it with James, so you’re not bottling it inside of you completely. That’s very important.”
I dropped my gaze back to the mug and traced the rim slowly with my index finger, still feeling a bit ashamed.
“You really miss him, don’t you?” Rosie asked after a moment of silence.
I snapped my eyes in her direction, thinking she was still talking about my dad, but instead she too was staring at the mug in my hands. The little hand drawn figures of James and I waved at her.
“Yeah,” I admitted. “It’s weird that he’s not here.”
“I’m sure it is. We all love him, but you’re the closest to him. It must be hard for you not to be able to be there for him.”
I just nodded, once again feeling the loss of words. If she only knew how much I loved him. But I couldn’t tell her that.
I stared at Rosie who was smiling to me in a sympathetic way. But she didn’t really understand – nobody did because they didn’t know how I really felt towards my best friend. What would she say if she did?
I had sometimes thought about confessing my feelings to someone and Rosie always seemed to be the right person for that. I could never tell Fred, that would put him in a very uncomfortable situation and I feared he couldn’t keep it as a secret from James. Also, I could imagine all the teasing and his not-so-subtle hints about it.
Vic was out of the question too. She and James bickered too much and too easily. She would blurt it out immediately when James did something that might be considered as hurtful towards me.
But Rosie, she could keep it as a secret. Yet I hesitated. She would get so excited; she’d absolutely love the idea of me and James together. I feared that it would give me more hope and only make things more difficult.
So should I do it or not?
I had kept it as a secret for this long, I didn’t really need to talk about it to anyone. I had my ways to deal with it and hide it very efficiently. But then again that hadn’t really worked either. I hadn’t gotten over James, my feelings had only gotten stronger and stronger with each passing year. What if actually admitting it to someone and talking about it would make it easier?
But what would I say? ‘Hey Rose, guess what? I’ve been in love with your cousin for almost eight years. Just thought you should know…’
Yeah, I wasn’t going to say that.
Maybe if I made it sound like a lot smaller problem, that I had recently developed some sort of feelings towards him. That could work.
I listened to Rosie talk about James some more and wondered how I could slip it in the conversation. I even opened my mouth a few times to actually start the discussion, but always decided against it and said something else. I was already starting to discard the whole idea when my ponderings were interrupted by a sudden knock on the door.
“Shit,” I muttered as the whole bottom of my stomach lurched guiltily. I didn’t have to use a spell to figure out who it was, I had heard the same knocking several times during recent weeks, although it had only made feel uncomfortable the last few times.
“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Rose asked, making me snap my eyes from the door back to her.
She was watching me with a small furrow on her forehead. “I – yeah,” I stammered, realising I had just been staring at the door with no intension of getting up.
I pushed myself from the chair and started toward the door, trying to ignore the awkward prickling inside of my stomach. My hand hesitated on the handle for a moment as I attempted to figure out what I would be facing when I opened it. Did he know I’d been avoiding him?
“Hi,” I breathed a bit nervously when I finally narrowed the door open and got the first glimpse of my boyfriend.
His whole face lit up at the sight of me, making me feel even more culpable. “You’re home,” he exclaimed cheerfully. “I’ve missed you.”
“Oh, I – yeah, me too. I’ve been busy, sorry…” I said, scratching the back of my neck. “Rosie’s here.”
“Aah, bad timing again?” he questioned with an understanding nod.
Why was he being so cool about it? I didn’t deserve it.
“Yeah, sorry,” I mumbled, feeling crappier by every passing moment.
Shitty girlfriend was such an understatement.
But again he just smiled. “No need to apologize. You need to have time for your friends too,” he said, brushing a stray lock behind my ear. “Maybe tomorrow then?”
The butterflies tickled in my stomach and I tried to concentrate on them, but I still felt bad. Why was I being such an arse? I just had to believe in my feelings a bit more, clearly they were strong enough to get through this.
“I – can I drop by once Rosie leaves?” I suggested, hoping that he’d say yes.
He nodded. “That would be nice.”
“Great. I’ll see you soon then?”
“I’ll be waiting,” he said and leaned closer to give me a kiss.
I responded to it gladly, letting the more optimistic side of me take over.
It would all work out well. There had been no reason to feel doubtful.
I closed the door after Joshua left, but the small, happy smile that had made its way onto my lips disappeared quickly at the sight of Rose. She was staring at me with a very suspicious expression.
“What?” I questioned, hesitating a bit as I made my way back towards her.
She didn’t say anything, just waited for me to sit down again. “What?” I repeated as I took my seat.
The furrow was deep on her forehead as she examined my expression. “Are you sure everything is alright with you and Joshua?”
“Yeah!” I said immediately, a little too fast judging by the look on her face.
“You’re lying,” she stated, her brown eyes piercing through me and making me fidget. Damn those Weasley genes.
I quickly dropped my gaze on the table, not able to confront hers. “No, I…” Oh come on, Gwen, just admit it. “Well, yeah… maybe.”
“What’s wrong?” she asked, her tone filled with compassion and worry.
“It’s nothing really…” I started, trying to find the right words.
“Please tell me, Gwen,” she pleaded and reached across the table to grab my hand. “Is it him, or what?”
“No, I already told you. He’s great, better than I deserve anyways,” I hurried to say. “It’s me. I’ve – I’ve been avoiding him for the past few days.”
I glanced at Rosie again – a mistake as it made me chicken out. “Because I’ve been in such a shitty mood. I just didn’t want to unleash it on him.”
She didn’t look convinced. “You don’t think he would understand?”
“No, no, that’s not it.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I’ve been having a bit mixed feelings lately…”
It wasn’t a complete lie. But I couldn’t tell the whole truth, it would just sound pathetic.
“About what? Your relationship?”
“Well no, not directly.” I swallowed nervously and closed my eyes, forcing the next words out of my mouth. “About James.”
“Oh sweetie, you know he’s going to be fine…”
“No, no, I –” I started, but the words got stuck in my throat.
“I… might fancy him a bit…”
I could hear Rose’s sharp inhale. “What?!”
I nodded, feeling the embarrassment burning my cheeks. I had done it, I had really done it. I could barely believe it.
“You fancy James?” Rosie repeated, her tone filled with doubt. I wasn’t sure if it was because she didn’t believe what I said or that she thought she had heard me wrong. I suspected the latter.
I nodded again.
“Does he know?”
“No!” I spluttered, gaping at her in horror. “And I’d like to keep it that way, so you can’t tell him!”
The mixed emotions were plain on my friend’s face. “But, but…” she started to stutter. “Why? Surely you…”
“No,” I interrupted her. “I know he doesn’t feel the same way. So I’m just trying to get over these silly feelings, to forget all about them.”
“But how can you be sure?”
“Because I’ve heard him say it.”
“He could be lying,” Rose pointed out.
I just shook my head as an answer. No, he really couldn’t. If he did have feelings for me, surely he would’ve acted on them. He wasn’t the kind of person who could hide something like that.
We sat there in silence for a while. “I have to say, I’m not surprised,” she said eventually.
“Yeah. You two have such chemistry. I’ve always thought that the two of you would eventually end up together. You just belong together.”
And there it was – the hope. The bottom of my stomach prickled and I wished with all my heart for it to be true.
“And I’m not the only one who thinks that way,” Rose continued.
“That’s what people keep telling me lately,” I muttered.
“They can’t all be wrong…”
I let out a sigh. “Look, I heard him say it to Hayden on New Year’s Eve and James wouldn’t lie to him.”
“Why not? You haven’t told others either, have you? I mean, if Freddy was here right now and asked you if you liked James, would you tell him?”
“I – no, but that’s different.”
“It’s exactly the same.”
“No, it’s not, because James and I are different. I could keep it as a secret, but he couldn’t. People would see it right through him.”
“Many of us think we are seeing it.”
“I would see it,” I clarified, trying to finally believe it myself too. “I could tell if it was like that, and it’s not. It’s just platonic.”
“Hmm,” Rosie commented, not sounding too convinced.
I just shook my head, already starting to regret I had said anything. It was just like I had feared. She was hopeful, she wouldn’t just accept the truth the way that I’d been forced to. “Look, I’m not going to do anything about it. I don’t even know why I told you…”
“No! Don’t say that! I’m so, so glad that you did, that you felt you could trust me with it,” she hurried to interrupt me. “I’ll take your word, if you really believe it’s so. I won’t pester you about it anymore,” she promised.
“And you won’t tell him?”
“I won’t tell him.”
“Good. Anyways, it would be pointless. I’m sure this will go over soon. Maybe it had something to do with all the baby stuff – that I felt like I was losing him or something. Besides, I really like Joshua too and I want to be with him.”
“Okay,” Rosie agreed, but I was certain she wasn’t buying my explanation any more than I was.
I directed the conversation into other subjects after that. I didn’t want to talk about James or my dad anymore, at least not today. I felt happy about my confessions; it had been a good start, even better than I had imagined it could be. I only hoped I wouldn’t have to regret the latter revelation.
But I trusted Rose. She had never before let me down, and I had no reason to believe this time would be any different.
A few hours later I made my way down to the floor below. I could still feel the nervous prickling inside my stomach, but I felt a lot better than I had this morning. Talking to Rosie had really helped.
I stopped at the door and let out a breath I didn’t realise I had been holding. Hoping everything would go smoothly and that it wouldn’t turn into an awkward conversation, I knocked on the door and took a step back.
A moment later the door opened and I was face to face with my smiling boyfriend again. “Hi! I wasn’t expecting you yet. Hope you didn’t hurry because of me.”
I let out a small hem, feeling happy that he was always so cheerful when he saw me. It helped me feel more confident. “No, Rosie had to go already.”
“Well I’m glad you’re here. Are you hungry? I was just finishing dinner, but I’m sure there’s still some left,” he questioned as I stepped inside his apartment and closed the door after me.
“No, I’m good.”
“Okay. I’ll be right back. Just make yourself comfortable,” he said and gave me a small kiss on the cheek before disappearing into the dining room. I smiled after him and wandered towards the living room area while I waited for him to finish his meal.
Joshua’s apartment was gorgeous, but I hadn’t really had time to inspect it that well since we usually spent time in mine. Trying to resist the curiosity, I sat down on the black leather couch and flipped through the Daily Prophet he had left on the coffee table. In the end, though, my nosy side got the best of me. I stood back up and started to circle around the living room, searching for fascinating and new things about my boyfriend.
I examined the paintings on his walls for a moment and smiled at the occupants who were all waiving at me. I didn’t understand anything about art, but they definitely looked expensive. I made a mental note to ask him about them, and if that was a hobby of his.
His whole bookshelf was filled with books about healing, so my interest turned quickly elsewhere. The few trophies on another shelf caught my eye next and I soon learned that he had won them from the Healing Academy.
I also took notice of the Prefect and Head Boy badges next to them, trying to remember if I had ever noticed him during my Hogwarts years, but I couldn’t recall. That was no wonder though; he was four years older than me and a Ravenclaw. I didn’t really know anyone older at that point, unless they played Quidditch.
My eyes found the three framed photographs on the same shelf. In the first one was a young woman with light brown hair, laughing and making funny faces at the camera. She had to be Joshua’s little sister, Melissa. I was quite certain about it. She on the other hand did look vaguely familiar and I was certain I had seen her in Hogwarts.
The next picture could’ve easily been mistaken as a Muggle photo since the couple in it was barely moving. They were just sitting on a couch and giving the camera a very strict and formal smile – only the occasional blinking from the man who looked like an older version of my boyfriend gave it away.
I felt intimidated just from looking at the picture of Joshua’s parents. The couple seemed so posh and important – I wouldn’t even know how to start a conversation with them. I prayed I wouldn’t have to meet them any time soon.
As I turned my attention towards the last photo on the shelf, I couldn’t help but smile. There was Joshua, smiling and laughing as he was playing fetch with a dog, a Golden Retriever. Once again I just had to admire how gorgeous he really was.
“That’s Maxie,” he commented suddenly from behind me, startling me a bit. He chuckled at my jumpiness and slid his arms around my waist. “The greatest dog in the whole world.”
“Yours?” I commented, wondering where the animal was now.
“He sort of was once. He’s Maggie’s dog, my ex-girlfriend’s, so she took him when we separated.”
“Aah.” I nodded. I had heard him mention Maggie once or twice. I suspected their relationship might have ended badly, but I didn’t want to pry. He would tell me if he wanted.
Joshua picked the first photo I had inspected from the shelf. “And this is my sister, Melissa. That reminds me, she’s dropping by tomorrow. Would you like to meet her?”
“Oh? I – are you sure? I don’t want to intrude.”
“No, no, she won’t mind. In fact, she’s been pestering me about you for a while already, she’ll be pleased.”
“Should I prepare myself for an interrogation then?”
“Probably,” he said with a teasing grin. “No, I think she’s been waiting for an opportunity to tell you all the embarrassing things about me.”
I chuckled as a response and leaned the back of my head against his chest as he lowered the photo back to its rightful place. “So should I count you in, or have you already other plans for tomorrow?” he added then, with a perfectly innocent tone, but I couldn’t help thinking that he was offering me a chance to back out of it.
“No plans. I would love to come,” I replied, actually meaning it. It could be fun, Melissa seemed like a nice girl.
Joshua was clearly pleased by my answer. “Perfect. Around five in the afternoon? We can all have dinner together.”
“Good,” he said and planted a small kiss on top of my head. “I have to admit though, I was quite certain you couldn’t make it since you’ve had such a busy week.”
I winced a bit at that as I felt the little sting because of the lie. Joshua deserved to hear the truth. Well, at least the ‘almost truth’. No matter how awkward that conversation would be, I still had to try.
“Yeah, about that…” I said with an apologetic frown as I turned to face him. A nervous feeling filled the bottom of my stomach as I watched the smile fade from his lips. “But it’s not what you think! Though I don’t know what you’re thinking, but it’s not anything bad!” I hurried to add.
He frowned. “I had a feeling everything wasn’t right,” he said, backing a few steps so he could sit down on the couch.
“I just didn’t want to unleash my bad mood on you,” I explained as I followed his example and sat down on the other end of the seat. “Last weekend, when we were at James’s parents, we found out that Kat wasn’t really pregnant. She had just been faking it the whole time.”
Joshua looked stunned. I watched him scratch his cheek and let out a little, incredulous chuckle. “Oh… well you were right, I definitely wasn’t thinking that!”
I just nodded.
“How’s James taking it?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “He left and I haven’t heard from him since.”
“So that’s why you’ve been on a bad mood? You’ve been worried?”
“Yeah, and I’ve been angry with myself for handling the whole situation so badly. I punched Kat, several times actually, so she got away without any consequences.” I let out a small sigh, trying to stop myself from getting too worked up at the thought of the bitch. “And it’s just weird, you know, I spend so much time with James and now he’s not there and I can’t get in touch with him.”
“You have no idea where he might be?”
“No. I guess he’s staying at a hotel somewhere.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. But I guess it was a relief after all? That you learned the truth now and not when it was too late?”
“Yeah, that’s true. I’ve tried to concentrate on that thought, but it hasn’t worked that well. Normally I would go to the Range to unleash all this bad energy, but I can’t because… well you know, because I still have to take it slow.”
“What’s the Range?”
“Oh, the Duelling Range. You’ve never heard of it?”
“Aah. Yes, I have, but I’ve never been.”
“You should. It’s an awesome place. I can’t wait to get back there.”
“Actually, that might not be a bad idea. I think it would be a good workout for you before you try flying. You’ll see how much your leg can take, without having the danger of falling several feet and injuring it even more.”
“You think?” I asked, feeling the little spark of hope. That would truly make my day.
“Yes, but I’m not your Healer anymore, so you should probably talk to Smith about it.”
“Sure. I hope he agrees. It would be a major stress relief.” I smiled and pondered if I could owl him immediately. It wouldn’t take long to rush upstairs and write a quick letter.
“Seems like you’ve had a lot to deal with then,” Joshua said, interrupting my plans. “But don’t you think I would’ve understood if you told me you needed some time?”
“Oh – I – yeah, I should’ve handled everything better from the start,” I admitted a bit embarrassedly. “Sorry, I’ll work on that.”
“Silly girl,” he chuckled and pulled me into an embrace. “You can tell me absolutely anything. I’m a big boy, I think I can handle your mood swings.”
I smiled as a response and let the comfortable silence fall between us for a moment.
“But thank you,” Joshua said, releasing a lock of my hair he had been twirling around his finger and squeezing me closer to him. “I’m a bit relieved actually about your revelation.”
I glanced at him curiously. “Oh?”
“Yeah. I thought you might have gotten bored of me already, and that’s why you were avoiding me.”
I rolled my eyes at him and shook my head. “Now you’re just being ridiculous.”
“Not really.” He sifted his position a bit awkwardly. “But I don’t want to tire you with my old relationship drama.”
“It goes the other way around too, you know,” I pointed out. “You can tell me anything you want.”
He smiled a bit, in a sad kind of way and it took him a few moments before he started his explanation. “It’s a long story, but I won’t bore you with the details. We were together for almost twelve years, Maggie and I. We were fourteen when we started dating.”
“That’s quite young,” I agreed.
“Yeah, but it didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even realise anything was wrong, but apparently she was bored of me. We had a fight and she told me how sick and tired she was because I was working so much, and since we never did anything together anymore. I didn’t even take her seriously back then, it had been a rough day at work and I was tired. The next day when I came home from work, she had packed her stuff and left with Maxie. Six months later she married some guy from her department in the Ministry.”
“But that was a long time ago, and I can’t really blame her for it. She was right, I did work all the time and took her for granted. I’ve tried to change my ways after that, but judging by the fair share of bad relationships I’ve had, that hasn’t been enough – until now. At least I hope so,” he said with a smile that was almost a bit shy.
I felt the blush burning my cheeks and the butterflies fluttering inside my stomach. “Thank you, for telling me that,” I said with a smile that felt more genuine than any other had during this whole week. “It must have been a hard time for you.”
“Sure,” he admitted. “But that’s all in the past, it has been for several years. We’ve talked it through and it’s all good now. Still, it’s never that nice to recall such things.”
I nodded, understanding completely how unpleasant it was to remember the hurtful parts of your past. But I also felt a bit stupid. How on earth could I have doubted my feelings towards him? He was wonderful and he deserved so much more than I had been giving him.
And if he was able to get over someone he had loved for so long, I was sure I would be able to do it too. Of course it wouldn’t magically happen overnight, James was the most important person in my life, and he would always stay that way. But maybe I hadn’t been able to get over him because I had never allowed anyone other than James to get close to me. Maybe that was the solution all along, but I hadn’t realised it because I had been depending on him too much. Well, now was my chance, I would just have to make a real effort for it. And that was exactly what I was doing now.
“I think that’s enough talking for a while, don’t you think?” Joshua questioned. I chuckled as a response and snuggled closer to him on the couch, receiving one warm and heart melting smile before he captured my lips with his.
There seemed to be hope for me after all.
A/N: Thank you for reading (:
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