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“Okay, let’s run it through again,” I leaned back against Al’s pillows, scooching up a bit so I was in a more upright position. “You fancy Willow.”


 

“Yes,” nodded Albus, from where he was anxiously pacing back and forth in front of us.


 

“And you have for a long time.”


 

Yes!” Al emphasised. “Only I’ve only just now realised how much!”


 

“I simply don’t understand why you’re making such a fuss,” Mia commented idly from beside me, her hands playing with the tassles from the red blanket on the bedspread. “I mean, you’ve snogged loads of people before.”


 

“Yeah, but this is different!” Albus insisted. “I don’t want to just snog her, I want to like, stroke her hair or something!”


 

“You want to stroke her hair?” I opened my eyes wide in mock horror, but it only made Al bring his hands up to clutch his own atop his head, more agitated than before.


 

No - you know what I mean, Nellie!”


 

“I know, I know. You like her for real,” I said much more soothingly, and Albus paused his pacing for a moment, his hands still resting on his head.

 

 

“Do I, like, I don’t know, ask her out? What if she says no? What if she doesn’t like me at all, this is stupid-


 

“She once told me you were the nicest guy in school,” I smiled encouragingly at him, but instead of being happy Albus paled.


 

“No - that’s terrible, isn’t it? Nice guys always finish last, that’s what Flynn says-”


 

“You’re going to go with Flynn Klein’s advice over me, Mia Templeton, dater extraordinaire and girl?” Mia asked incredulously, and that seemed to calm him down a bit.


 

“Okay,” Al said after a moment, his voice finally less stressed. “Yeah. Okay. So what do I do?”


 

“Start by being her friend,” I suggested. “She already hangs out with us, anyways. Invite her to the Tower. Go to the library. Get to know her and let her get to know you in more of a one-on-one setting.“


 

“Everyone has at least a little bit of a crush on you, Al,” said Mia knowingly. “If she isn’t there already, she will be.”


 

“So take it slow,” Albus summarised, testing the words out for himself. “I like that. I’m good at that.”


 

“You and your brother, it seems,” Mia said purposefully, and then with a flitting glance at me, announced: “I won the bet.”


 

“You - really?” Al’s eyes popped open wide, rather alarmed. “You guys are dating, Nellie?”


 

“Erm, yeah. I guess.” I was suddenly as nervous as Al had looked before, but as I searched his gaze for any signs of hesitation or anger I found that I could discern none.


 

“Well, bullocks,” Albus said after a moment. “If you had held out for just a couple more days I would’ve won.”


 

“So...you’re okay with this?” I asked, tentatively. “Because if you’re not, it doesn’t have to happen at all. You’re my best friend, Al, I would never want to-”


 

“Nellie,” Albus broke in gently, coming to stand by the foot of the bed. “He’s different with you. Better, almost. I’m more than okay with it.”


 

How I ever got so lucky to have such a caring, understanding, amazing friend as Albus Potter was, I’ll never know.


 

“I love you, Al,” I told him, and I almost got a bit emotional just saying it.


 

“Love you, too, Nels,” Albus smiled, with that shy little quirk of a grin that made me so filled with a brotherly love I could hardly stand it.


 

“And I love both of you,” Mia declared, not one to be left out, and we both laughed, Mia and I sliding off the bed so we could have a nice group hug.


 

“Thank you,” Albus said. At first he was looking at Mia, but when he glanced at me I knew his gratitude was in reference to me being willing to put him over his brother - a mates before dates sort of philosophy.


 

“You’re welcome,” I replied. He smiled.


 

 




 

That night, I dreamt of the women from the Amesbury Gala. She was staring at me in that uncomfortably familiar way, and no matter where I walked her foreboding gaze followed me unbroken. She was wearing royal blue robes, her braided hair piled onto her head, and just as I stopped directly in front of her she opened her mouth, as if she were about to say something. And then -


 

“Nellie, you are LATE!” Mia yelled from the bathroom, and I awoke with a start, my bed drenched in sweat and my head pounding as if I had just run a marathon.


 

I went through the rest of morning with a vague headache and concrete foul mood. Perhaps the relationship was more of a resonance - the pain made me more surly and being surly gave me a bigger headache - but somehow all I could think about was how my mother used to get migraines, and how my father mentioned them, and how every answer to every one of my questions was right in front of me in that goddamn book that I still couldn’t bring myself to touch. I felt like a ticking time bomb with my head and dreams as the timer, but even as the clock was winding down I had no idea what would happen when I exploded.


 

And it made me paranoid, too. As I survived the entire day with my head hurting, every single corner I turned I kept expecting to see the strange woman, as if she would somehow materialise just because I had dreamed about her. I kept trying to convince myself that I was being stupid, but that notion just kept coming back into my mind, again and again and again, and then I turned the Charms corridor, and -


 

“Nellie Burke,” Calliope Yaxley said flatly, her dark nails tapping impatiently on her crossed arms. “We’re overdue for a little chat.”


 

“We’re overdue for nothing.” I pushed past her, but she held out a hand on my chest like a crossing guard to stop me.


 

“Publicly dating the eldest son of the biggest Blood Traitor family in Britain would constitute such a discussion, don't you think?” 


 

“Stay out of my fucking business, Calliope,” I snarled, and although this was the first time I’d ever been outwardly aggressive towards her she only smiled coldly as if she had expected me to snap all along.


 

“Your business is our business until we decide it isn’t.” she said in a low voice, and although she was just as unsmiling as I was there was something fiercely speculative in her eyes as she gave me one last look before turning down the corridor I had just come from. “Watch yourself.”


 

It wasn’t what she said that bothered me, but was the way she had said it. Because Calliope Yaxley didn’t say what she had to make a threat - she did to convey a legitimate warning.

 

 



 

I had just changed into my Quidditch things and was coming down from Ravenclaw Tower when I felt someone fall into step with me.


 

“So,” James Potter said without preface, already smirking way too much for my taste. “My abs?”


 

“What about them?” I asked casually. We were approaching a corner, and I strained to look down it - fucking stop it, Nellie, don’t be so para- oh thank Merlin it’s empty.


 

“Well, I think I should be asking you that.” he replied, nudging me slightly with his shoulder. “I hear you’ve been discussing them, see.”


 

I arched an eyebrow, the movement exacerbating the persistent pain in my head slightly. “Oh, really?”


 

“Really.”


 

I sighed, no energy left for our usual banter.  “Fine. They are great. Happy?”


 

“Unequivocally.” James replied buoyantly, now grinning much too victoriously, but I really couldn’t bring myself to care. “What did Mia want yesterday?”


 

“Oh, you know,” I said offhandedly, tugging my robes tighter around my body. “Just being Mia.”


 

I knew Albus wouldn’t want me to tell anyone, much less his older, more experienced brother about his crush, so I chose to remain vague and enigmatic, even though I knew it would probably antagonise James.


 

“What does that mean?”


 

I shrugged. “I dunno.”


 

James slowed, and instead of his eyes hardening like they usually did when he didn’t get a straight answer from me his eyebrows flitted together as if he were concerned. “What’s wrong?”


 

I fidgeted with my robes again, adjusting the back of the neckline. “Nothing.”


 

“Really?” he countered. “Because these past few weeks, you’ve barely been yourself,”


 

Recoiling, I crossed my arms over my chest. “And, how would you know what my usual self is? It’s not like you know me well.”


 

“Right,” James said coolly, his face slipping into a mask of cold indifference. “I keep forgetting I don’t know anything at all about you.”


 

“Sorry,” I muttered after a moment. “Habit.”


 

“Reflex,” James muttered back sourly, and I pretended not to hear him as we stopped in the corridor, prepared to part ways.


 

“Meet by the Entrance Hall after my practise?” I asked him, and although he was still scowling at the ground slightly he thankfully nodded.

 


 

 

“Burke!” Moose screamed, for what must have been the fortieth time. “What the bloody hell are you doing?”


 

“I’m sorry!” I yelled. I had found myself drifting in the center of the game play, only narrowly able to dodge Kato who had been charging at full steam towards the opposite goal post.

 

 

Moose flew over to me, signalling for the others to continue running the play. “Where is your fucking head today?” he hissed. “Or for the past few weeks, for that matter?”


 

“I don’t know,” I shook my head. “I’m really sorry.”


 

“Don’t be sorry, be better,” he snapped, and I think he could tell that I really wasn’t in the mood for one of his lectures, because when I didn’t respond all he did was sigh and push away his dark frizzy curls away from his eyes. “Our match against Hufflepuff is in a couple of weeks. If you’re distracted like this-”


 

“I won’t be.” I promised, my jaw set, and Moose stared at me long and hard before nodding once.


 

“Twenty laps. Go clear your head.”


 

I soared around the Pitch at a high enough altitude that the chaos below me was able to fade away into distant background noise. It was a beautiful evening, nearly April and fully spring, with the buds on the sprawling trees of Hogwarts almost ready to bloom. It was strange to think about how fast the year had gone with the end of the semester being only six or seven weeks away, but it was nearing with an almost increasing speed, the same sort of hurriedness that the entire year had felt like. And as I sped around the Pitch and watched Kato ruffle Beck's hair and Moose scream himself hoarse, I realised that we only had a few short weeks all together as a team. It was wistfully melancholy, in a way, and I was still in a sort of nostalgic mood when I landed on the ground, rejoined once again with my team as we walked to the lockers.


 

“So, I have an announcement,” Kato called the moment we were all in the training part of the locker room, and based on his expression I could tell he was absolutely bursting to get whatever he wanted to say out.


 

“Is it that your fly is down?” Beck asked smoothly, and Kato’s face paled for a moment as he glanced down in a panic, only to realise he wasn’t even wearing pants that had a zipper.


 

“Every time,” Benjy snickered, and Kato scowled slightly before clapping his hands together, his blue eyes sparkling.


 

“Okay - big news. I, erm...I’ve just received a full-time offer from the Quidditch League Headquarters in London for right after graduation - and I took it.”


 

WHAT?” Benjy bellowed, jumping up from where he had been taking his protective Beater's vest off.


 

“That’s amazing!” I squealed, and Kato wrapped his arms around me tightly before Moose began pounding him on the back and he released me.


 

“Well done, mate!” Moose crowed, who himself had had a job with the strategic team of the Wimbourne Wasps lined up for ages now.


 

“This is fucking BRILLIANT!” Benjy screamed, running and Kato, and the two of them did some weird chest bump thing that was too perfectly executed to have been the first time they had done it.


 

“Congrats - don’t fuck it up,” Beck told Kato proudly, and Kato flipped her off but he was laughing, even as Jack said something rather crude about the women that usually frequented Quidditch parties, earning him a slap in the neck by all of us close enough to reach him.


 

“Congratulations,” Cicely told Kato warmly once the Jack excitement had died down, and she hugged him quickly, her dark skin rather flushed as she stepped back.


 

“Thanks, Cely,” Kato grinned, using the nickname we had started to affectionately call her after she had abbreviated the word "celery" to that. Or at least that was why most of us called her that - Beck did it because she was absolutely certain she was celibate.


 

“We celebrate this weekend,” Benjy announced. “No - tonight! We celebrate TONIGHT!”


 

“We celebrate this weekend.” Moose barked, back into Captain-Mode.


 

“We celebrate this weekend!” Benjy repeated, absolutely undeterred, and the three of them began making plans with Beck while Jack, Cicely, and I went to change.


 

“That’s just so impressive,” Cicely marveled to the quiet of the room once it was just us in the women’s changing stalls. “He’s so amazing.”


 

I was about to agree with her when I thought back to all the times Cicely had blushed when Kato had touched her or looked at her or really done anything, really, and the realisation came to me so quickly that I nearly gasped.


 

“Wait - do you like Kato?” I asked incredulously, perhaps a little too loudly, and Cicely’s face went from horrified to panicked to desperate in a single second.


 

“Nellie!” she hissed. “No!


 

“You do!” I exclaimed triumphantly, pulling on my jacket, and Cicely glanced around wildly, as if Kato were going to burst out from behind a stall.


 

Please don’t tell anyone!”


 

“Of course I won’t,” I reassured her. “I think it’s kind of nice.”


 

“Really?” Cicely squeaked, her face still red.


 

“Well, yeah. He’s a bit loud and you’re a bit quiet - you’d balance one another out nicely.”


 

What I didn’t say was that I knew for sure Kato would never go for someone so much younger than him, because Cicely didn’t need to hear that. It was a schoolgirl crush, the kind that everyone gets on someone a bit older than them, and since I knew Cicely would never act on it there was really no harm in encouraging her a little.


 

“Well, I honestly used to think that you two sort of fancied each other,” Cicely told me, almost tentatively.


 

“What?” I asked incredulously, and something like uneasiness tugged in my stomach but I ignored it. “I have a b-Potter!”


 

“I know, but before,” Cicely shrugged, slinging her bag across her shoulders. “You guys always seemed so close.”


 

“Because we are close, but not like that,” I told her, and it was completely true so I felt no conflicting feelings about it. “But I swear I won’t tell anyone about your crush.”


 

We were both a bit more calmed down now, and so she shot me a grateful grin before we exited the women’s area out into the larger space of the lockers.


 

 




 

“You’re absolutely wrong,” Benjy told Beck a little while later, as we entered back into the castle.


 

“I’m not-


 

“You are!” Kato protested, even more vehemently than Benjy. “I hate to do this, but he’s right!”


 

“Yes!” Jack pumped his fist in the air in victory, his mousy brown hair flopping in front of his face slightly. “Suck that, Davidson!”


 

“Oh, fuck off, Robinson-”


 

“I happen to disagree with both of you!” Moose yelled over Jack’s whoops.


 

“Well, mate, you get no say,” Benjy clapped Moose on the back. “It’s now an indisputable fact that if you were pitted against a real live moose, you would first yell at it for wasting your time and then completely shit yourself the second it moved.”


 

“This is honestly bullshit,” Beck emphasised as we emerged into the Entrance Hall. “I’ve known Moose longer than you, Robinson, and there’s no way he wouldn’t at least try and get a few head butts in. You know nothing, you’re just a fucking child-”


 

“And you’re just mad that I was right,” Jack shot back, equally as brusquely.


 

“Prat,” Beck told him, but she was sort of smirking, almost like she was proud of his insult. They had developed an interesting sort of relationship, Beck and Jack; although they would fight and heckle one another Beck was almost sisterly and protective of our youngest member, even though she’d never admit it.


 

“I’m going to go to the kitchens,” Benjy announced. It was a sort of ritual for him to do this - he claimed that he couldn’t sleep at night without having a monsterous serving of rice pudding - and although usually I would come along I wasn’t in the mood and had to meet James. “Anyone else want in?”


 

I shook my head but everyone else murmured their agreement.


 

“I’ll meet you there,” Kato told the group, and so the rest of them took off, already distracted by something idiotic Benjy had said to earn him a slap on the back of his neck by Moose.


 

“Hey,” Kato put a hand on my shoulder once the others were out of view, stopping us in the middle of the corridor. “What’s wrong? You’ve been so...distant ever since the thing with your dad.”


 

“I’m sorry,” I told him, but he waved it off.


 

“I just really want to make sure you’re okay."


 

“I am,” I smiled up at him, but he didn't look so convinced.


 

“Let me know what I can do?” Kato asked, and when I nodded he shot me one of his famous smiles; left cheek pulled up and dimpled, right one relaxed, and I couldn’t help but smile back.


 

“Thanks,” I told him gratefully, and he pulled me into a hug. When he released me and stepped back, he revealed James leaning against the wall opposite, his face stony and cold.


 

“See you tomorrow, Nels,” Kato called before going off in the direction of the kitchens, not even rewarding a glance at James as he walked by, who was glaring at him the entire time.


 

“Hey,” I said hesitantly, walking up to James as Kato turned the corner. James held my gaze coolly for one moment before turning around and starting on our way to Gryffindor, and I followed him, resigned to the fact that the trip would be encased in a stony silence.


 

“Are you going to say it?” I finally blurted out, as we approached the Gryffindor corridor. James still didn’t respond, and just as I had decided I was going to go back to Ravenclaw he stopped and turned to me.


 

“So you’ll talk to Millican but not me?”


 

“He was just checking in,” I said, tiredly. “To see if I’m okay.”


 

James snorted, his face settling into a sneer. “And, I suppose you told him everything, then?”


 

“No. I didn’t.” I replied shortly, syllables staccato.


 

“Oh, sure you didn’t,” James drawled, with that biting tone of sarcasm I always absolutely resented. “What, did he tell you he’s there for you and that he cares or some rubbish like that?”


 

I crossed my arms, mirroring his own battle stance. “Well, yes, he did! Is there something wrong with that?”


 

James gaped at me. “Are you taking the fucking piss?”


 

“He’s my friend, James,” I threw up my hands in frustration. “He’s being a good friend.”


 

James merely continued to stare at me incredulously.


 

“What?” I finally snapped when he still didn’t say anything.


 

“You are the single most frustrating person I have ever met, Cornelia.”


 

My temper immediately flared. “And why would that be?”


 

“You have this inability to see anything in life clearly,” James ran his hand through his hair, ruffling it from the back to front. “You-you think all guys just want to be your friend, or that when people stare at you it’s because you don’t look right, or something idiotic like that. Everyone wants to shag you, Burke, including Millican! You’re just either too stupid or innocent to understand it!”


 

The shock of what he had said hit me in waves, but when I finally understood the intent behind it my anger doubled. “Are you seriously jealous? Kato does not have feelings for me!” I cried. “He’s always been like a brother, he talks to me about other girls, for Godric’s sake!”


 

“I’ve seen the way he looks at you,” James shook his head through my words. “All year, he’s been into you. Maybe even longer. He’s just like everyone else.”


 

“Everyone else?” I repeated. “What’s that supposed to mean?”


 

James stopped moving and crossed his arms, the glint in his eyes hardening. “It means that every single straight male in Hogwarts has thought about you in less than decent manners, Burke.”


 

After a moment of pure shock, I shook my head furiously. “No, that’s not true-”


 

“It is! Did you know Axle had a crush on you all of Fifth Year?”


 

What? But I didn’t even know who he was until this year!


 

“Exactly! You don’t notice these things! Do you even know how many times I’ve heard my roommates talk about how fit you are? Godric, I don’t understand how you could be so fucking ignorant!”


 

Ignorant?


 

“Yes!” James threw his hands up in the air. “Christ, Burke!”


 

“I just - I don’t understand,” I said, and when he didn’t respond, I continued. “Like, I’m awkward and unnatural and, and - I’m best friends with Mia Templeton, for goodness sakes! It’s never been like that - people don’t like me in that way that, okay? They just don’t! It doesn’t happen with me!”


 

Slowly, the harshness that had been sharpening his eyes disappeared. “Is that really how you see yourself?” James finally asked, voice much softer.


 

I suddenly felt uncomfortably exposed, like I had just walked into public with nothing but my underwear on. “Well - I guess. Yeah.”


 

James reached up and cupped the side of my cheek with his hand, gently brushing back a piece of my hair with his thumb. “You’re wrong,” he told me quietly. He resembled Albus a bit, with the way the corners around his eyes softened and eyebrows quirked up, and I leaned into his touch, allowing my shoulders to relax as he wrapped his arms around me. We had hooked up more times than I could count, but yet somehow this was the most intimate I had ever felt with him, with maybe anyone.


 

“So, please,” James murmured into the top of my head, “just tell me what’s going on.”


 

And I knew I had to give him something; something to appease him, something to make him think that I had let him and only him in.


 

“I think the birthday incident has been affecting me,” I said, speaking into his shirt so that the words would be slightly muffled. “I just - I still feel responsible for what happened to her. My mother. And I wish I knew why she did what she did.”


 

James was silent for a poignant moment.


 

“I’m so sorry,” he murmured, and then he was crushing me into his chest right there in the middle of the corridor, and even though I still felt so strange I also felt warm and safe, like I had with him at the Potter house.


 

I couldn’t understand why, but all of a sudden a sort of panic began spreading through my veins, potent and alarming, so instead of responding I leaned up and kissed him, pressing my lips into his with the kind of force that signaled something deeper stirring in my mind. His mouth responded immediately, hungrily, but after only a few moments he leaned back.


 

“Wait - Cornelia, stop-”


 

“Why?” I murmured, grazing his neck with my teeth and sucking slightly, in the places where I knew he would react the most.


 

“You do this, when you’re upset,” said James, panting slightly, as I let my fingers travel down, stroking the bare skin just below his belly button. “You try to distract me.”


 

“And you talk too much,” I said huskily, and with a slight moan he brought his face back to meet mine.

 

 



 

The sun was setting over the castle as I lay next to James, my head resting on his chest. He was lying back as well, tracing lazy circles and lines and patterns onto the bare skin of my arm, and I smiled up at him, completely and utterly contented.


 

“Tell me about her.” James spoke, his fingers now working their way up to my shoulder, massaging slightly into the curves and dips of my collar bone.


 

“About who?” I asked sleepily. The light was hitting the paned windows in the most spectacular way, bathing our bodies in a golden glow, and I felt so warm and so complete, like this - all of this - was what I had been missing in my life all along.


 

James looked up from my arm, the light reflecting off of his eyes and making them seem as if they were glowing, too. “Your mother.”


 

What?” I sat up, all relaxation forgotten, but his expression remained unchanged.


 

“Tell me about her.” James said simply, and finally I understood his tactics. I couldn’t use sex or lust or attraction anymore to get out of talking about things, and James knew it. He had cornered me in a trap, beat me so quietly in my own game that I hadn’t even realised we were playing until it was too late.


 

So I shifted away from him slightly, crossing my arm over my chest as I did, petty and childlike.


 

“Fine. Her name was Veronica Lavoiande Burke. She was Pureblood French, mother died when she was young, went to Beauxbaton, had a partially arranged marriage with my father-”


 

“No,” James interrupted, shaking his head. “Tell me about her. Who she was. What she was like. Tell me about the good things, and then the bad, and then the good again.”


 

I sat quietly for a moment. I couldn’t remember the last time I had thought of her in that way, but as soon as I opened my mouth to say so, other words came out.


 

“She was beautiful. I used to look at her and just wish that I could be as graceful, or as delicate. She loved the ocean and stars, and just being outdoors, too, and I… I think sometimes she used to sing. But she was...sick. She would get headaches and just lay in bed. And she wasn’t really happy, ever. Maybe when Scorpius’s mum came around she would brighten up, but whenever she looked at me she was just sad. Adam could make her smile, but not me. I didn’t make her-”


 

Happy. I didn’t make her happy. Everything crashed over me as overwhelmingly as a tidal wave, because I didn’t make her happy, and Adam could. Every time she looked at me it felt like I was somehow causing her pain, and suddenly I hated her. I hated my mother with every fiber of my being, because she left me and Adam and Scorpius and everyone knowing exactly what she was doing. She left because she didn’t give a shit about us, and most of all she left because I couldn’t make her stay. And now I was resigned to the same fate of headaches as she was, and I was so fucking scared that I would end up like her that it was nearly paralysing, and she had told me over and over that nous nous retrouverons dans les étoiles, we will find each other in the stars, but it was only for her. Everything was always only ever for her, and I found myself violently wishing that she never found anything up there in the sky. Bitterly hoping that she now was just nothingness, like she had so desperately wanted to be.

 

 

“Why are you doing this?” I demanded, as whatever was going on inside of me began to build. I was breathing hard even though I was still lying down, my heart rate increasing with every second, and that feeling of panic that had overtaken me earlier was back, somehow ten times more powerful than before.


 

“You needed me to,” said James quietly. He reached out for me slightly, to touch my hand, but I slid off of the bed away from him, pulling on my shirt as I did. “You need it.”


 

And even though this was his dormitory not mine, I pointed towards the door. “Get out,” I said with a slight shake in my voice, and then again, stronger. “Get out!


 

“Cornelia,” James stood too, reaching out once again, but I backed away.


 

I had never felt such a blind, violent fury in my entire life. “Don’t touch me, just leave!


 

“No,” James said carefully, his eyes not leaving mine.


 

“Fucking LEAVE!” I picked up the closest thing to me, a library book, and chucked it at his head, but he still took a step closer, his expression unchanged.


 

I didn’t want to feel like this!” Another book, larger this time, sailing through the air to glance off of his right shoulder, but still he advanced like it hadn’t touched him at all.


 

“You never have,” said James softly, and I couldn’t recall feeling a fury this great ever in my life, and it was anger and panic and a need for it to stop, for him to stop, and I was enraged that he wouldn’t. This was the game he played, the game we always fucking played, and I was losing and losing control and losing everything I had built up inside of me for the past six years.


 

“I hate you-”


 

“You hate your mother,” James said with that same calmness, and a sound not unlike a growl came out of me in frustration. “Because she killed herself and she left you. But you don’t need to hate her. Because what she did was not your fault, and you love her, Cornelia. You love her so much, and that’s okay.”


 

Stop!” I screamed, and as I could feel my composure shattering and myself breaking I turned on my heel and into the bathroom, burrowing my head in my hands as I sat on top of the toilet seat, shaking.


 

I had never admitted it before now, but it was true, practically a hallmark of my personality. I avoided everything until there was nowhere left to run; used ploys and distractions until they inevitably didn’t work anymore, and even then I fought against dealing with the absolute mess that was my life.


 

I was swiping my face like windshield wipers, again and again and again because the tears kept falling, faster and faster and faster before I gave up on stemming the flow entirely.


 

But James was there. He knelt down onto the floor so he was at my level. He wiped away my tears, and he kissed my swollen eyelids, and he rubbed my back in small circles while whispering things as soothing as nursery rhymes. And in that moment, I almost believed him when he told me everything was going to be okay.




 



 

Author's Note: The next chapter is where it begins. But once it begins, it ends quickly - there will only be around 7 chapters left in this particular story. Stay tuned, and thank you all so much for the things you share with me every time I post a new chapter - I read them every day and it is what makes me keep writing even when I have so much other stuff going on (Orgo midterms, anyone?)!

 

Xx, Ella

 

 

 

Up next...A story of kissing, flashes, and revenge.  

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  • Drop into an Action Scene 💥
  • Develop a POWERFUL Romance 😍
  • How to Land an Ending 🍻
  • How To Make Writer's Block Your Best Friend ❤️
  • ...And more!
“The lessons that were offered helped me enormously. Suddenly it was easier to write scenes, imagine them and bring suspension and romance in it. I loved it! ​It helped me in a way other bloggers couldn’t and still can’t.” - Student