“I hear she used her cancer to land him,” A scarlet clad Gryffindor sixth year whispers behind her hand as though actually trying to be quiet. Her friend beside her giggles, both girls turning their bulbous eyes on Nautica who ignores the churning in her stomach. 




The saddest part, this was one of the tamest of whispers spreading around Hogwarts like a wildfire. Ever since their very public display of affection, these murmurs had bustled around the school. People who had once looked at her with admiration for her Quidditch athleticism, then pity for her illness, now harbored distain in the glints of their eyes. For why else would the eldest Potter be with her, except for feeling pity? 





By the end of the day, Nautica had it up to here with the insults being thrown at her from every which direction. Her nerves finally crack as she goes to sit down for the evening meal, when some seventh year passing by mutters the word, “Slut.” Slamming her books to the table, Nautica spins around with her wild hair seeming to fill the air like an entity all it’s own. 





“Why don’t you mind your own bloody business?” She snaps, her grey eyes molten steel as the girl stares shocked that somebody would dare say something to her. With a gaping mouth, she is lead away by her friends. Taking a deep breath, she takes a seat across from Santiago and Tess who look just about as shocked as the girl. “What?” 






“Just didn’t expect that from you, is all,” Santiago says with a raised brow. “I thought you’d be happy, considering you got to lock lips with James, of all people…” An annoyed part of her wants to ask, what he means by ‘of all people’, but she knows. If anyone had even insinuated something between them merely a month ago, she would’ve raised hell. James had always been a constant thorn in her side with his arrogance, but it had been a growing experience to find that you can’t really judge a book by it’s cover. No matter, how handsome. 






“I am happy,” Her words are accentuated as she stabs her fork into her chicken breast. “Okay, so maybe I’m not, but it’s not because of James really… it’s because of these cutthroat girls that inhabit this ruddy school. You would think they’d have something better to talk about….” 






“We’re talking about James Potter though,” Tess says sensibly, smiling despite Nautica’s attitude. “Everyone is always interested in who he’s dating, what he’s eating, and I’m pretty sure people even look into his regular bowel movements— let’s just move on from that—“ She says at the expressions of horror on their faces, “—What I’m trying to say, is that he is famous. And with dating him, comes a lot of distain and petty jealousies. They’re all just jealous because they want what they can’t have.” 






“There weren’t as many whispers and staring when everyone found out I was sick,” Nautica mutters under her breath, ignoring the not so subtle glances in her direction. It’s as she begins to feel more than a mild irritation for it, that James strides into the Great Hall with the largest smile lit up on his too perfect face. The sight of him immediately brightens her perspective, settling a smile on her own face. 






She sees his eyes scan the Ravenclaw table and settle on her within seconds. Cheerily, he begins the walk to her seat. She feels the stares, the anger radiating from the general female populace as they watch their fantasy boy bypass them for the sick girl. She can almost hear their comments on her too skinny figure and what did he want with a bone anyway. 






“Hello,” He greets the three of them with a relaxed posture, and without skipping a beat, he leans in and kisses Nautica gently on the mouth. She feels her cheeks burn as he takes a seat beside her, amusement in his eyes. “How’s your day been, love?” 






“It would be better without hearing what everyone’s been saying,” She says, thinking that maybe she shouldn’t bring it up. But it’s too late. He frowns at her words, glancing around at the people around them as though noticing them for the first time. “You haven’t noticed…?” Both Santiago and Tess raise their brows at James’ obvious obliviousness. 






“I’ve been in my own bubble all day, to be completely honest,” He admits, wrapping around her shoulders and sighs. “I’m sorry, Nautica.” They sit there in silence for a moment, breaking it when a flustered Freddy comes to sit beside them. The argument between her and Freddy had been forgotten the moment she and James had laid eyes on each other. If

anything, Nautica feels gratitude for him calling her out on her bullshit. 






“I think that Olivia Nelson’s stalker tendencies have hit a whole new fucking level,” He starts off, looking at James, clearly troubled by this Olivia girl. Nautica frowns, trying to remember who the girl is for a moment.






“Wait, that sixth year Hufflepuff?” She inquires, seeing the look of worry pass between the two boys. James nods, his fingers tapping on the table. “What does she do?” 






“Well, just this year alone, she has followed me to every single one of my classes,” Freddy says, his nostrils flaring with distaste. “She’s left notes in my Quidditch locker, and I don’t know how the hell she got in there. There’s charms and hexes to keep people out who aren’t on the team. But she’s surpassed all of that—“ 







“Now, I have to know,” Tess interrupts, leaning in with her eyes wide with excitement. After all, how many stalker stories do people hear about that are actually happening? Nautica couldn’t help but to lean in as well. She had always thought Olivia a little odd, but had never thought her to be stalker. Both Freddy and James, and probably Finnegan had been keeping this all quiet. Which, again, she never would’ve guess not even that long ago. 







“She broke into our dormitory sometime today and left not only a love note, but also a box full of Cauldron Cakes and a bouquet of fucking roses,” Freddy says darkly, pulling from his robes  a folded up piece of parchment. Before Tess or Nautica can snatch it from him, Jeremiah saddles up with dread on his features.






“Guys, I don’t know why Laura won’t talk to me,” He groans, laying his face on the table. Santiago, scoots further down the bench, a look of confusion and annoyance on his face. Nautica sends him a questioning look, but decides not to say anything. Since when did the Trouble Trio start hanging out at their table? Oh right, since she kissed James Potter this morning. 







“Maybe, it’s because you’re a fucking prick,” James says with raised brows at his best friend. Nautica elbows him in the stomach and he grins at her. “Sorry, but it’s true.” 






“So what that I forgot her birthday yesterday?” Jeremiah asks, his question sending a wave of gasps from the girls seated with them. Nautica and Tess stare at him with indignation. 






“There’s really no question as to why she won’t talk to you,” Tess pipes up, her face turning red as all three boys turn their eyes on her. “Forgetting a girl’s birthday is one of the worst things you can do.” 







“Hear hear,” Freddy says with a grin, momentarily forgetting about his stalker problem. 







The rest of the dinner passes by without incident, just quite a bit of moaning on Jeremiah and Freddy’s parts. Nautica watches her now grown friend group, quite unsure of how this could’ve happened. Not even this morning, she had felt lonely. Yes, Tess had always been agreeable, but Santiago had seemed to shrink away from her. Something that has been happening since he had found out about her illness. Even now, he says little to nothing, his face stoic as he eats his meal. She watches him, unsure of how to take it. 








For a brief while, Nautica forgets the whisper and the glares. She focuses on the friend group and feels happier than she has in awhile. At the fork in the corridor, Tess and Santiago head for the Ravenclaw tower and Freddy and Jeremiah for the Gryffindor, leaving Nautica and James standing together. He has a hold of her hand with a small smile on his face, his hazel eyes staring into her own.








“You know, we haven’t talked about what this morning has made us,” He says quietly, squeezing her hand gently, looking down at the floor abashedly. “I would love for us to be together. You are the strongest person I know.” 








“I’m not,” Her voice is a whisper, knowing that in order for them to be together, she has to be honest. “You saw me that night. I was scared and screaming. Terrified of what’s happening to me. The mass inside of me, it’s larger. I have to take a second potion. I’m so scared James….” Tears begin to fall from her eyes as the fear builds in her chest at the mere mention of it. Without pausing, his arms wrap around her tightly and his chin is rests against her forehead. Her body is shaking as the rawness of it overwhelms her. “What if…. what if I don’t make it?” 








“Shhhhhh….. “ He rocks her, his own fear writhing inside him, but he doesn’t let it show. He needs to be strong for her. Knows he has to be. He had noticed from afar that she’s been more alone than she’s ever been. He had noticed the lack of Santiago at her side. He’d noticed and it had killed him to not be able to be there for her. “We’ll get through this…” He pulls away from her, gazing down at her. 






Looking into her red, tear filled eyes, he knows. 






He knows he loves her.






He knows that no matter what, that he’ll be there for her.







He doesn’t say it, but that doesn’t change the fact that without her he’d be drowning. The emotion is so much stronger than anything he’s ever felt before and truth be told, it terrifies the living shit out of him. But he won’t run from it. 








“And don’t worry about what people say,” He addresses what he knows has been bothering her all day. “They just want this… I know this is new. This is different from what either of us has known, or at least me anyway, but it’s something worth holding onto.” 












Her entire body aches. Fear is rearing it’s ugly head, but she refuses to give in to it. Next to her, James is holding her hand. On the other side of her stands both her parents. After her last appointment and it’s disappointing news, they put aside their differences to be with their daughter.








A healer’s assistant dressed in yellow scrubs smiles warmly at Nautica as she waves her wand over her breast. The image appears on a cloud of smoke, showing her tumor in all it’s glory. The good and bad news, it’s neither larger or smaller. It’s just there. She hears James’ quick intake of breath and looks over to see him standing stone-faced. But his hand doesn’t drop hers. 







The assistant leaves the room and Healer Ressin enters the room with a sad smile on his face. “It’s been four appointments with one progression,” He says quietly. “That’s far from what we want to see; however, there’s still time. If there is any further enlargement, we will be operating instead of waiting the entire six months.” 








“Just yank it out of me now,” Nautica interjects, before anyone else can speak. “I don’t care if I don’t have a breast left. I don’t care! I just want to stop hurting, please…” Her voice turns pleading as she stares into Otis Ressin’s eyes. He needs to understand the pain that this is continually putting her through.








“That’s a hard decision,” Healer Ressin says, his brows furrowed. “I would hate to do something so drastic to save yourself discomfort for a short period of time…” His words, they sting as though she’s been slapped. She feels James’ hand tighten on her own and knows he’s just as angry. 








“Nautica, we don’t want to do anything rash,” Her father says, placing a hand on her shoulder. 







“You only say that because it’s not your body turning against you.” 











“NO,” Thoroughly irritated by the group of adults, Nautica stands up, pulling James with her. “Can you just take us back to school please?” He nods, unsure of what else to do. 







It’s as they leave the room and the door starts to swing shut behind them, that she says what she is thinking, loud enough to know they can hear. “PISS OFF!” 














When she arrives back into her dormitory, Santiago is waiting in the farthest corner for her. His dark hair appears limp and there are bags beneath his eyes. Upon seeing her, he stands up and motions for her to join him. She does so, knowing she needs her best friend after the disappointment that was her appointment. 







“Hey,” He says breathlessly, pulling her into the seat opposite of him. “Look, I know I haven’t been there for you. And I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry for everything. I-I don’t know what I’ve been thinking, you’ve need me this entire time.” His words come out quickly, his hands clasped together tightly. “And I know I have no right to speak to you now about something with my life, but I need you… please, help me.” 







Shoving aside all feelings of neglect and abandonment, she leans forward in her chair. No matter what, she wants to be there for him. “What’s going on, Santiago?” 






“Molly Weasley, she’s pregnant.” 







For a second, she feels confused. One, who knew that perfect Molly Weasley would ever be pregnant? Let alone having sex in the first place? She was very popular, despite keeping her nose in the books. And very pretty, And two, why would that matter to him? 








It’s actually rather embarrassing how long it took her to put two and two together.







“You didn’t….” 






“I’m the father.” 






And suddenly, her day didn’t look so bad. 




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