Complication #10: Nothing stays a secret forever.
The following week, I make a concerted effort to spend much more time with the Royals. I hate to admit it to myself, but Brooke’s words scared me.
This year, and everything that’s happened, has changed me, and that terrifies me.
I miss when things weren’t so complicated, when Potter and I couldn’t be in the same room as each other, when I didn’t feel massive waves of guilt anytime Blaise kissed me, and when I wasn’t terrified that someone would find out what I’m hiding. Because back then, there wasn’t anything to hide.
But wishing for a return to the past wouldn’t make it happen. Instead, I focus on a new goal: making everything seem as normal as possible.
I spend significantly more time with the Royals, even if that means sacrificing some of my quiet study time in the library and writing essays in the dormitory, amongst the loud chatter of Brooke and Caroline debating which color nail polish would best complement their skin tones.
It was a bit ridiculous, since I could have told them in 30 seconds that Brooke would look best in a light pink and Caroline in a dark green.
“Hey Abigail, have you done that Charms essay yet?” I look to my right, where Scarlett is sitting on her bed with two books and a nearly covered parchment.
I think of the 15-inch assignment on the theory of nonverbal charms, and reply, “Yeah, I finished it yesterday.”
“Could you look over mine? I still need 2 more inches and I don’t know what to add.”
“Sure,” I reply, remembering another reason why I typically avoid studying in the dormitory: it always results in me proofreading essays.
“Could you look over mine too while you’re at it? I feel like I missed something important.” I look over to Caroline, who has temporarily abandoned her nail polish debate and is looking at me with wide, pleading eyes.
I think of our conversation the night of the party, and tell her, “Okay.” Suddenly, I have two papers stacked on top of mine, with the expectation that I’ll know the material better than they do.
It’s not that the other Royals aren’t smart, because they really are – how else would we have all been placed into Ravenclaw, after all? They just doubt their own abilities a lot; Scarlett was convinced for half of the summer after fifth year that she had earned a D on her Transfiguration O.W.L., when really she had gotten an E.
I briefly scan their papers, making only a few small edits.
“Add something on why nonverbal charms are important in real-life situations,” I say, sending Scarlett’s parchment flying back towards her with a flick of my wand.
“Why, so you can do unnecessarily showoff-y things like that?” she replies, laughing as her essay lands in front of her. “You’re right, nonverbal charms are crucial.”
I feel like Scarlett’s voice has a bit of an edge to it, beyond her usual teasing, but I ignore it as best I can. Instead, I giggle and return to my copy of Advanced Potion Making, my eyes settling on the heading for “Hiccoughing Solution.”
It’s a relatively uneventful evening, with the exception of Caroline spilling dark green nail polish everywhere and requiring at least three different cleaning spells to get the lacquer off of everything.
Staying with the other Royals even more than usual means I have to take specific measures to avoid Potter and his knowing glances. I’m not entirely sure how, but I swear I see him significantly more this year than I ever have within the past six.
Whenever I pass him in the hallways, I turn to Scarlett or Caroline or Brooke to make some sort of offhanded comment about the lesson we just left, or Rose Weasley’s dreadfully mismatched socks.
I can feel his eyes on me each time, but I make no intention of returning his gaze.
It’s amazing how much simpler my life is without having to deal with him at all.
When I disappear to the library for a few free hours of study time on Saturday morning, I’m a bit surprised to find Potter still sitting at our normal table.
Our normal table? Oh Godric, what has happened to me? This table is mine, he’s merely an intruder on my space.
As I’m holding this monologue inside my head, Potter notices me and looks up from the parchment he’s been scribbling on furiously.
“Well, well, well, look who’s finally decided to make an appearance,” he says, smirking slightly and running his free hand through his hair. “I was beginning to think you’d accidentally cast a Permanent Sticking Charm on yourself and your little friends.”
I roll my eyes. “I’m not obliged to study here or hang out with you, Potter.”
He raises his eyebrows at that. “You’re right, you’re not. But you came here even before I claimed this spot, so yeah, you not being here is kind of strange. I was beginning to think I’d finally successfully scared you off.”
I drop my bag on the table and give him a look. “Please,” I say, “don’t flatter yourself. You’re not intimidating, Potter.”
“Are you sure about that?” he replies. “Because every time you’ve so much as looked at me this week you’ve fled in the other direction.”
I feel a flush creep onto my cheeks as I sit down. “That’s not related to you at all, Potter.”
“Sure it isn’t.”
I start pulling my things out and laying them on the table. “Merlin, so egotistical,” I mutter under my breath.
At this, he sets his quill down and gives me a withering glare. “Right, so you’re going to act like you practically running for the Forbidden Forest every time you so much as look at me doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that we hooked up and now you’re trying overly hard to act like everything’s entirely normal to make sure no one suspects anything?”
I abruptly drop the parchment I was pulling out. His spot-on analysis is almost infuriating.
“I knew it,” he says, smirking to himself.
I let out an annoyed huff and angrily open my Defence textbook, completely aware that I’m acting like the spoiled twat Potter always accuses me of being but completely unable to control it.
We work in silence for a few minutes, until James clears his throat. I look up at him, and he’s got an inscrutable look in his eyes.
“You know,” he starts, “you’ve really got to stop beating yourself up about this. You made a mistake, yeah, but dwelling on it won’t make anything better. You’re stressing about it, and it’s written all over your face. You’ll have a much better chance of keeping it a secret if you don’t walk around looking like you accidentally murdered someone all the time.”
And with that, he’s grabbing all his books and leaving me alone at the table, hopelessly confused by his words for the second time this week.
After lunch, Blaise and I go for a walk around the grounds. The October air is still warm enough that lingering outside isn’t miserable, so we decide to make the most of it.
We hold hands as we walk, our arms swinging between us in the most natural way possible. Everything with Blaise always feels right – there’s no questioning or uncertainty of motives, just two people who have been together for so long that everything feels like second nature.
As we’re walking, Blaise stops suddenly. At this, I turn around and look at him.
He’s looking directly into my eyes – the kind of direct eye contact that makes me want to run away. And then I find myself criticizing that thought, because when have I ever wanted to run away from him before?
“Abigail, I just want you to know something,” Blaise says, grabbing my other hand so that we’re fully facing one another.
“I just want you to know how much you mean to me. You’re the most wonderful girlfriend I could ask for, and I’m so grateful that you’re always there for me. Hell, I could trust you with my life.” He breaks out into a wry smile, never looking away from me.
I try not to physically squirm at the comment. Instead, I take a step forward to close the gap between us.
“I’m glad you feel that way.” I mentally berate myself as the words come out – what kind of response is that? It was far too formal for the fact that my boyfriend was professing deep feelings for me.
Blaise doesn’t seem to take notice of the odd phrasing. “I love you,” he murmurs, reaching a hand up to brush my cheek.
If there was ever a time where I felt as though my heart had literally stopped, this was it. Here I am, with an amazing and dedicated boyfriend who has just verbally told me he loves me for the first time, and I’m feeling like a complete scumbag. Normally, I’d never describe myself in such terms, but there’s no better way to identify this feeling.
I mean, how could I have cheated on someone this wonderful? As much as I wanted to blame alcohol for my behavior, I couldn’t do so entirely. Drunk actions are sober thoughts, or something like that. And I couldn’t deny that there was some part of me that was still so angry about him ditching me the night before coming to Hogwarts that I had somehow justified sleeping with another man.
For what is definitely not the first time, the thought occurs to me that I could have basically ruined my entire future with this one rash action.
So in that moment, I make a split-second decision. I’ll take James’ somewhat-cryptic advice: I won’t think about that mistake anymore, and I won’t let it affect me.
“I love you too,” I respond, leaning towards him so that our foreheads touch.
And with those four words, he’s kissing me like there’s no tomorrow.
That is, until we realize that some first-years are also wandering the grounds and that we’re making a scene. He grabs my hand with a smile and we head back into the castle.
Turns out, taking James’ advice was much easier said than done. Try as I might to give myself a clean slate, I couldn’t help but run Blaise’s words through my head on repeat all evening.
“Hell, I’d trust you with my life.”
Well, he also trusted me to be a faithful girlfriend, and look how well that turned out. Trusting me with his life would likely have disastrous consequences at this rate.
I remind myself that it was a one-off mistake – I’m not having an affair or continuing to do anything that might jeopardize our relationship. This isn’t a big deal.
Still, he tells me he loves me and this is how I reward him? By keeping this terrible secret from him?
But at the same time, I could never tell him what happened. I know Blaise well enough to know that he isn’t the type to give second chances – if he finds out about this, our relationship is over. Five years of commitment, down the drain.
I feel an all-too-familiar prickle behind my eyes; instead of giving in to the emotion, I climb into bed and bury my face in the pillow.
After a miserable night’s sleep, I drag myself to the library at around noon to get some revision done.
Half of me expects Potter to be sitting there when I arrive at my usual table, but it’s empty. I realize that I’m slightly disappointed by this discovery, and immediately hate that feeling of disappointment.
Potter and I weren’t friends. We were two people who despised each other, made a dumb mistake together, and now had some eerie peace agreement as a result of said dumb mistake. I had no reason to desire his presence, especially when this table has always been my escape from any human interaction whatsoever.
I mask this feeling by enjoying the luxury of spreading my materials across the entire table. It’s excessive, since I’m only working on one subject at a time, but it makes me feel better.
A few hours later, I feel satisfied with my progress. Since it’s awfully close to dinnertime, I decide to head back to the Ravenclaw common room where I can hopefully find the rest of the Royals to walk to the Great Hall with.
I arrive at the Ravenclaw house entrance and give the knocker an answer to its incredibly simple riddle of the day. I can hear the chatter of the students in the common room as I enter, and the sound is oddly calming as I enter the room.
So naturally, the last thing that I’m expecting is for the room to go completely silent when I walk in.
In the middle of the common room, a figure stands up from one of the couches.
It’s Blaise. He gives me a look that I can’t quite place.
“Oh look, it’s Hogwarts’ biggest slag.”
A/N: HA, so I think a 4-year writer’s block has to be some sort of record? Anyways, I randomly got inspiration for this story again, so I’m back! Would love to hear some thoughts on it. (Also sorry for ending this chappie on a cliffhanger - if it's any consolation I'm almost done with the next chapter as well!) :)
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