Chapter 9




Complication #9: When you let the truth fester inside, sometimes it just can’t help but come out.




 

October comes quickly, bringing with it a chill in the air and a fervent excitement for the upcoming Halloween bash held annually in the Room of Requirement.

Finding a costume for Blaise and I is the simple part – we’ll go as James Dean and Audrey Hepburn, the epitome of classiness when it comes to Muggle celebrities.

Finding the pieces of clothing required, however, is another story. It seems as though despite the trend of embracing Muggle fashion, not many owl order catalogues provide a wide selection of clothing, and I have to find the perfect black dress.

I spend most of that first Sunday poring over magazines, taking up hours of what would otherwise be seen as valuable study time. As a result, I’m forced to hurriedly finish my Potions essay in the Ravenclaw common room late that night.

“Hey, where have you been all day? I haven’t seen you at all,” a voice says, pulling me out of my work. I look up to find Blaise pulling up a chair and taking a seat next to me at the table.

I sigh, brushing back the hair that has fallen out of my bun. “I’ve been working all day,” I reply. “I had to find our costumes for the Halloween party, and that took longer than anticipated, so I had to skip dinner so I could get started on this.”

“Why does this essay matter that much?”

I furrow my eyebrows at his question. “Because I kind of need to turn in assignments in order to pass Potions.”

“You know that doesn’t even matter anyway,” he reminds me, gently rubbing my shoulder. “You don’t even have to take your NEWTs if you don’t want to.”

I often forget that Blaise is already planning to take over his father’s position as a top executive at Gringott’s when he leaves Hogwarts, which, combined with my inheritance, would leave us extremely well off.

As a result, I get the feeling that Blaise doesn’t want me working – if I don’t need to, why should I? According to him, that is. He expects me to play the role of a dutiful housewife, which is well enough, I suppose, but I can’t help but want something more than that.

“I’m just trying to keep my options open,” I reply coolly, trying to go back to my essay, which really needs my attention considering it’s still at least 6 inches too short.

“But you don’t need to, “ Blaise says persistently. “I’ve told you, you won’t have to work when we’re married. You can stay at home and do whatever you want – isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? That kind of freedom?”

I’m too tired to have this argument now, so I tell him, “Yes, I suppose.”

“Well good,” he replies, “I’m glad we’re on the same page. Now get some rest – you’ve been looking tired recently and I want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.”

From anyone else, I might take that as a sort of thinly-veiled insult, but coming from Blaise, I know he only has my best interest at heart. He’s genuinely concerned about me.

“Okay then, I will. Just let me finish this essay,” I finally reply.

He chuckles, before adding, “Always a persistent one, aren’t you?”

I meet his eyes, smiling softly. “Don’t you know it.”

That elicits another chuckle, as he replies, “Yes, I certainly do.”

Then he kisses my cheek lightly before bidding me a good night and heading up the staircase towards the boys’ dormitory.

I don’t deserve him. I honest-to-goodness, truly don’t deserve a guy like him.

Especially with what I’ve done.

I try to push the thought out of my head, but it nags at me consistently, as I finish off my essay and even as I crawl into bed, trying to fend off the impending guilt that inevitably comes whenever my head hits the pillow and my mind wanders.

And, as usual, my attempts to do so fail.

 





The next morning, the Great Hall is already bustling and full of students by the time the four of us arrive.

I pour my coffee and set a muffin on my plate, before noticing that Scarlett has a strange, dreamy look in her eye. That can never mean good things – that look is usually only associated with the one and only abominable Fred Weasley.

I nudge her, and she suddenly snaps out of her state. “What are you looking at?” I say, my voice barely above a whisper.

She sighs in a way that signals a dangerous level of infatuation. “I was thinking about asking Fred to the next Hogsmeade date.”

I roll my eyes. She’d dropped the topic for so long – it had been almost six months since she’d last thought about asking him out or flat-out snogging him at a party – so why was she bringing it back up again?

I look over at the object of her affection, who is currently attempting to balance a spoon on his nose like some kind of circus animal.

I sigh – of all things, this is what my best friend is attracted to?

The three boys around Weasley are all laughing at his antics, even though there’s really nothing remotely funny about a 17-year-old behaving like a toddler. Context, I guess.

It’s strange though, how Potter can be such a serious and studious person when he’s with me in the library, but so loud and boisterous here in the Great Hall – it’s almost like he’s two different people.

As if on cue, his eyes lock with mine for a moment, and I catch the bright sparkle in his eyes, matching the look he had when he was bringing me to the Shrieking Shack, excited and playful.

No. No, no, no.

Why, of all times, for me to think of that again, did I choose right now, in the middle of the Great Hall?

I quickly look away from the Gryffindor table, and back at Scarlett, hoping she can’t catch the blush that’s filling my cheeks.

“Really, Scarlett? You’re attracted to that buffoon?”

She starts to play with her hair. “I – I don’t know, I guess I find it kind of endearing. He’s just… playful.”

I place a hand on her shoulder, “Really Scarlett, you could do so much better than Weasley. I know he’s fit, but he’s got the personality of a 5-year-old and the brains to match. That’s not what you want in a man, is it?”

She chances a glance over at him. “I don’t think he’s like that. I bet if I got to know him better – “

I interrupt her. “Promise me you won’t, okay? For your sake and mine. If you started dating him, I’d have to hang around his screwball friends, and that might just kill me.”

She laughs at that. “Oh Godric, could you imagine? You and Potter, trying to make small talk while Fred and I snog in the background? That would be positively disastrous!”

She bursts into peals of laughter as Brooke and Caroline look at us curiously, and I follow suit, although mine’s much more forced. Because although yes, technically to most people, Potter and I would never be able to handle a civil conversation with one another, that’s what we’d been doing for the past month, really.

It wasn’t much actual conversation, more of a peaceful silence, but still, it unsettled me to be reminded that Potter and I, despite our very obvious differences and long history of dislike, were getting along.

It wasn’t normal, but at the same time, I was powerless to stop it.

 





When I arrive at my table in the library, Potter’s already sitting there, brow furrowed as he reads from multiple textbooks and jots random sentences down on what looks like an essay.

I sit down across from him, and he looks up for only long enough to recognize me, before he goes back to work, ruffling a hand through his hair in what seems like frustration.

I pull out my books and get to work, and we settle into the comfortable silence that we always do.

Until, fifteen minutes later, when Potter lets out a long, aggravated sigh.

I’ve noticed he’s been particularly twitchy today, so at this, my curiosity gets the better of me.

“What are you working on that’s causing you so much frustration?” I ask, setting down my quill.

“This damn Defense essay,” he mutters, putting his head in his hands.

It’s the same essay I was working on the last time we shared this table – analyzing the properties that make certain Dark magic immune to Shield Charms. Not particularly complicated stuff, at least to me.

“Do you want some help?” I offer gently.

He sighs. “No offense, but would you really even be all that much help?”

I should be offended, but surprisingly, I’m not. “Well, I was one of three students in our year to get an O on my Defense O.W.L., so I think I know my stuff.”

He looks up at me, shocked for a moment, before muttering something along the lines of, “Of course.”

“What?”

“Just – never mind,” he replies, a hint of resignation in his voice. “Sure, I could use some help.”

So that’s what I do; for the next half hour or so, Potter asks me questions and I do my best to answer them, using material from the text to show him what I’m talking about.

As Potter’s finishes off the last word of his essay, he looks up at me. “Thanks,” he says, “you know, for that. Godric knows I’m miserable at Defense.”

For a moment, I’m struck by the irony: the son of the man who defeated Voldemort is struggling in N.E.W.T.-level Defense Against the Dark Arts. I choose not to mention it.

“Well,” I reply, “I sort of owe you. For, you know, keeping a secret that could pretty much destroy me.”

“If it hasn’t already,” I add to myself as an afterthought.

“What do you mean by that?” Potter’s got an inquisitive look on his face, and I realize that he’s heard my last comment.

I briefly think about brushing him off, but then I realize I really have nothing else to lose. He already knows everything, after all.

“It’s just – I swear I’m being eaten alive by guilt.” Now it’s my turn to put my head in my hands. “I mean, I cheated on my boyfriend of five years by giving my virginity to someone else in a drunken one-night stand. I mean, who does that?”

I look up from my hands, quickly snapping, “And I swear, Potter, if you say ‘you, Winchester,’ I will hex you into next week.”

He chuckles at that, but quickly returns to his serious state. He takes a moment, before replying, “I don’t know if you should really be feeling that guilty.”

I sigh – maybe this was the wrong person to confess all of this to, after all. “Look, I know you don’t like Blaise all that much – I mean, he’s not really the type of guy you’d get along with – but regardless, he still doesn’t deserve to be cheated on. Nobody does.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” he says back, but when I look up into his face, he has a strange look in his eye. “All I’m saying, Winchester, is that there’s always more going on than you might think, and sometimes you need to look at the bigger picture and reevaluate your guilt relative to what’s around you.”

And with that cryptic message, he’s gone, leaving me in the library alone, confused, and with half a Charms essay to finish writing.

 





I eat dinner with Blaise, and we go up to his dormitory afterwards.

We start snogging on his bed, and he takes my shirt off, which is fine. His own shirt is completely unbuttoned, revealing his toned chest, so I’d be bit of a hypocrite to protest when he does the same to me. But then, he reaches for the zipper on my skirt, and I draw the line.

“Blaise, no,” I say, pulling my mouth from his lips, breathing hard. “Not tonight.”

“But why not?” he replies, his face only a few inches from mine. “The room’s empty and we could both use a break from everything.”

With that, he starts peppering kisses down my neck, sending shivers down my spine.

I fight through the temptation, and push myself up and away from him. “I said, not tonight.”

He sighs, sitting up and flattening his hair. “Fine, okay, that’s fine. We don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

I feel a rush of gratitude, thankful that he’s respecting my boundaries, even if they have no real reasoning besides ‘I just don’t want to.’

“Thank you,” I say, pulling my shirt off the floor and quickly doing up the buttons.

“Anytime, love,” he replies, making his way over to me. “I wouldn’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

I kiss him goodnight, and make my way from the boys’ dormitory to the girls’.

When I enter the room, Scarlett, Brooke, and Caroline are already in there. Caroline’s doing homework, as usual, Brooke’s painting her nails, and Scarlett’s reading a letter of some sort.

Looking up at my arrival, Brooke is quick to chirp out, “Well, someone’s just come back from a nice long snog – or probably a shag, now that I think about it.”

I crack a smile, “It was just a snog, but yeah, I just left Blaise’s room. How could you tell?”

“Well,” Caroline chimes in, looking up from her book, “your hair is a mess and your shirt is buttoned wrong.”

I look down at my shirt and, sure enough, the buttons are all one off, leaving the whole shirt a crooked mess. “Oops,” I mutter, as a bit of pink colors my cheeks. It’s the type of blush that’s entirely controlled, unlike so many of my others.

They all start laughing, and I quickly replace the crooked shirt and uniform skirt with a silk nightgown, and flop into my bed dramatically.

“Tell me, Abigail, where have you been all this time recently?” Scarlett says, looking over at me. “I feel like you keep disappearing all the time, more often than usual.”

They’re used to me spending some time alone – I need complete silence when I’m studying, something the other three girls don’t fully understand.

“I’m still hiding out studying, like I always am,” I reply easily. “It’s just N.E.W.T. year, so that studying just takes even more time.”

“Well spend a bit more time with us,” Brooke adds good-naturedly. “We’re starting to think you’ve abandoned us and found a new set of friends to hang out with, and a man on the side to match!”

I laugh along with them, but my blood runs cold.

 




 

A/N: These last few chapters have been a bit filler-y, but things are definitely picking up next chapter, so get excited for that.

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