Complication #11: The people you always turn to just might turn on you.
“Oh look, it’s Hogwarts’ biggest slag.”
As I watch the words tumble out of my boyfriend’s mouth, I find myself immediately frozen in place. All the air is immediately sucked out of my lungs, and my heart starts to pound in my ears.
No, no, no. This can’t be happening. It can’t.
Blaise takes a step towards me, and I finally recognize the look on his face: disgust.
“I can’t believe you. I can’t believe you’d do something like this, that you’d hurt me like this. You slept with James bloody Potter, who I’m pretty sure you’ve told me you hated for all of these years.”
I feel every eye in the common room directed at me – including Scarlett, Caroline, and Brooke, who are all looking at me with the same expression as the one Blaise is wearing. But something prevents me from getting any words out or even moving an inch, like I’ve been hit with a Silencio charm and Petrificus Totalus all at once.
“Not to mention that you slept with that wanker before you even slept with me! I waited for you – much longer than I would’ve liked to, might I add – only for you to turn around and fuck the first dude you laid eyes on, as if a five-year relationship meant nothing to you!”
“You-you lied to us?” a voice pipes up from the couches. It’s Caroline, whose expression has shifted from something of disgust to something of hurt and betrayal. She’s pieced together from Blaise’s comments that this means I lied to them on the train.
Her comment allows me to find my voice again. “Not exactly,” I choke out, before turning back to Blaise. “It’s not what you think.”
“Oh, so you didn’t ‘cheat on your boyfriend of five years by giving your virginity to someone else in a one-night stand’? You’re right, that’s ridiculous, who does that?”
His use of air quotes makes me realize that he’s spitting my own words back to me, verbatim. My mouth falls open, but no words come out.
“Yeah, I asked Scarlett to go find you in the library, and instead she found you and Potter having a jolly old conversation about that one time you were a cheating bitch. I’m honestly just grateful she told me, because you clearly never would’ve. And who knows how long it’s been going on for?”
“Blaise, it was one time,” I quickly correct. “I regret it so much and I am so, so sorry. I love you.”
He snorts. “I haven’t even gotten to the best part. If my timeline is correct, this means you slept with Potter and then decided to come around and sleep with me approximately a week later? Do you realize just how fucked up that is?”
“It was a mistake,” I find words falling from my mouth before I can stop them. “I thought it would make things better, and I’m really sorry for that, Blaise, you have to believe me.”
“The only thing I believe anymore is that you’re a dirty, lying slag, and I don’t want anything to do with you.”
The words come out with such viciousness that I almost buckle at the knees. I find myself falling apart in public – doing the one thing I never let myself do. “Blaise, no, I love you so much and I’m so sorry and – “
“I don’t want to hear it. And frankly, I don’t think any of your friends want to hear your shite explanations either. You slut.”
He turns on his heel to go up to his dormitory, and I look over towards the Royals to discover that they’ve linked arms with one another and are walking up the stairs, without so much as a backwards glance at me.
I’m left with a common room full of housemates, all watching to see what I do next.
So I do the most logical thing I can think to do: I turn and run.
I’m not quite sure where I’m running to – I just know I need to get out of that common room. In the span of five minutes, I’ve somehow lost both my boyfriend and my best friends. As the realization hits me, I know I’m bound to fully break down any moment now; it’s just a matter of when. I’m basically a ticking time bomb at this point.
My priority automatically becomes finding somewhere that no one else will find me, where I can deal with the inevitable outpour of emotion in peace.
I’m staring intently at my feet as I rush down the stairs, and as a result, I’m not looking at where I’m going. As fate would have it, this results in me crashing into someone.
“Shit, sorry,” a familiar voice says. Oh joy, the last person I want to see right now. Unfortunately, this particular area of the staircase is too narrow for me to brush past Potter without him backing up. So I’m forced to linger long enough for him to get a reasonable look at me.
“Merlin, Winchester, are you okay?”
I open my mouth to snap back at him. Of course, I’m totally fine; I have no friends and no boyfriend to speak of anymore, but other than that, I’m right as rain.
Instead, the time bomb goes off. A strangled sob escapes my throat and I wrap my arms around myself, as if somehow the physical action is capable of keeping the emotions at bay.
“They all know. And they all hate me,” I force out, as the first few tears finally break loose and start sliding down my cheeks.
“Fuck,” Potter responds. And then he reaches out and puts his hand on my shoulder, a small but comforting gesture.
I’m not sure what makes me do it – maybe it’s the fact that this tiny gesture is the nicest thing that’s happened to me today – but I find myself taking a half step forward so that my face is buried in his chest and letting myself dissolve in the sadness I’ve been attempting to hold back.
The move throws Potter off for a brief moment, but within seconds he’s got his arms around me and is rubbing soothing circles into my back.
I don’t know how long we stay like that, but eventually he leans down and says, “Let’s move you somewhere else. People are about to start heading down to dinner and I take it you don’t want anyone seeing you like this.
I hiccough my agreement, so he begins to guide me to an empty corridor, where he pulls back a tapestry to reveal a hidden set of stairs.
“You just know all sorts of secret passageways, don’t you?” I say, attempting to sound snarky but having the effect ruined by the raspy quality my voice has taken on.
“All sorts,” Potter responds. “Although this one doesn’t lead to the Shrieking Shack, I promise.”
An odd laugh/sob escapes my throat at that comment. “Good,” I finally reply.
At the bottom of the stairs, I notice that we’re awfully close to the Hufflepuff common room. But instead of walking in that direction, Potter walks determinedly up to a painting of fruit, immediately reaching towards the pear. Before I have a chance to judge that action, the painting swings open.
Inside is an unexpected sight. I see an extensive line-up of house elves, all fervently preparing food for dinner in the Great Hall. This work ethic doesn’t stop one from looking up at the open door and immediately rushing over.
“Mister Potter! What can Bitsy do for you?”
“Could you get me two cups of your special hot chocolate, Bitsy? I’d really appreciate it.” Potter talks to the house elf as if this is something he does on a daily basis.
In what seems like a matter of seconds, Bitsy is handing Potter two mugs with an excessive amount of whipped cream. Potter turns to me, where I’m still standing outside the kitchen, and gestures his head to the left.
I walk numbly in that direction. Eventually Potter takes the lead, his strides being much longer than mine. He turns down another empty hallway, at which point he hands me a mug and sits down on the floor, his back against the wall.
He looks up at me, and I realize that he’s expecting me to sit next to him. So I do, and I put the warm mug to my lips.
It’s comforting and cinnamon-y, and I find myself making an involuntary noise of appreciation.
After a few minutes of silence, Potter asks, “Do you want to talk about it?”
I pull my knees into my chest and will myself not to cry again. “I don’t know what there is to say. Scarlett overheard something I said to you in the library, and was apparently so upset that I had lied to them that she told Blaise as well. And he basically cornered me in the common room to tell me that we were over.”
“Bloody hell, he couldn’t have picked a more private place?”
I find myself defending Blaise. “He was hurt, and I guess the common room was just the first time he’d seen me all day. I think he just wanted to get it off his chest immediately.”
“So he just stands up in the middle of the common room and breaks up with you instead of, I don’t know, heading off to a nearby classroom?”
“I think his emotions just took hold. I’ve never seen him look the way that he did, and I’ve certainly never heard him talk the way that he did.”
I sigh, as a tear betrays me by sliding down my cheek. “He just… he called me a slag and a slut and a few other not-so-nice things. Not that it’s not true, but it just wasn’t something I expected him to say. It was a complete reverse of his normal behavior.”
“Bloody hypocrite,” James mutters. Returning to normal volume again, he adds, “That doesn’t give him the right to talk to you like that. And not to mention that sleeping with two people doesn’t make someone a slag. I mean, look at Freddy. Yeah, he has his fair share of hook-ups, but that doesn’t make him a manwhore.”
I think back to that day in the Leaky Cauldron when I called Freddy out on that same behavior. “How the tables have turned,” I respond wryly.
“I’m sorry for that comment,” I add. “I’m certainly not in a place to judge anyone for their life choices at this point.”
“Oh, I’m sure Freddy wasn’t too bothered by it,” James replies easily. He notices my empty mug. “I take it you enjoyed the hot chocolate then?”
“Yeah.” And then I find myself blurting out, “How do you know about all this stuff anyways?”
“Oh, well, my year of Gryffindors have all basically known about the kitchens since first year, so – ”
“No,” I clarify, “how do you know how to do this whole dealing with an overly emotional girl thing so well? Most guys freak out at that kind of stuff and run the other direction. Not to mention, you don’t really like me that much.”
“Ah, well, you see, I’ve had a ton of practice. My darling sister, Lily, likes to regularly fall for a new boy, despite my insistence that all boys her age are terrible. And she gets attached pretty easily, which means regular heartbreaks. And as her big brother, I feel obligated to make her feel better. So this is the routine.”
“That’s… really sweet of you. She’s lucky to have someone like you around.”
He shrugs. “It’s just typical big brother stuff, I guess. And to get back to your comment about not liking you that much, it’s not so much that I dislike you as it is I dislike the way that you treat people. You’ve got this air of superiority – like everyone else deserves to bow down to you and kiss the ground you walk on. But when you let that wall down, you’re not so bad.”
“Er, thanks, I guess, Potter,” I respond, unsure of the proper reaction to his statement. To be fair, I feel the same about him; he’s a right arse in public but isn’t unbearable on his own.
I look over at him. “What?”
“Call me James,” he clarifies. “I feel like the fact that I’ve just witnessed what I’m pretty sure is your one and only public emotional breakdown puts us on first-name basis.”
I feel a sad smile make its way onto my face. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense. So thanks, James. For all of this.”
“You’re welcome, Abigail.”
We lapse into silence, and sit there, a few inches apart, for the next two hours.
A/N: I have a lot of feels about this chapter. Also I kept my promise on not leaving anyone hanging for too long, so go me.
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