So... I'm guessing some of you would like an explanation for my disappearance. First, I want to say that I'm sorry to any followers of the stories I abandoned eight months ago. The truth is, I just lost the passion I had for what I was writing. No matter what world I took these characters to, I felt like I was just regurgitating the same story. It felt uncreative and it wasn't fulfilling to me anymore. I could go on about how I moved to a new city (I did), started a new job (I did) and completely changed my focus in grad school (I did), but really, that's why I've been gone for so long. I just lost the passion I had for doing this. But I think I've found it, or at least gotten to a point where I can enjoy writing about these characters again. I don't know if I'll ever pick up the stories I dropped (though to any followers who don't want to wait, I'll gladly reveal where I was going with them over PM), but I think what I've already written (for other worlds, this is my first return to Pitch Perfect) and what I'm going to write from now on is better and more creative than what I'd been doing before. Anyway, enough of that, I really like what I came up with here and I hope you enjoy it!
Free time is overrated. Music is the last thing on her mind at the moment—lord knows she deserves a break between her nightly shifts at the radio station and the failure of her rebellion. No, following the A Capella induced implosion of her social life Beca decides that diving right back into the mixing board might not be the greatest idea.
She could watch a movie, but she's already granted Jesse one too many cinematic gifts over this break. She enjoyed The Breakfast Club, she really did, but less for the subject and more for the direct object. There's a reason she's never liked movies after all. The irony isn't lost on her, she can only enjoy movies as Jesse would like if she does it specifically because Jesse would like it. No, that probably isn't the best idea either.
What do normal people do when they're bored? Normal people have friends to entertain them. But who among her fairly small social circle would see her now? Certainly not Jesse. She considers trolling Aubrey, but decides that would probably do more harm than good. She'd rather not find herself staring down a wolf, ready to rip out her vocal chords at Aubrey's command. The other Bellas? Fat Amy might be up for something, but one-on-one time with her always turns into... well she doesn't exactly know... but it's weird.
Her natural instinct is to, as always, call Chloe. But is that really fair? Aubrey would probably have her wolves trained on anyone with the nerve to so much as communicate with her. She'd caused enough of a rift there.
But, she rationalizes after realizing this entire internal monologue had spanned a grand total of 47 seconds, is a rift with Aubrey really such a bad thing? In fact, she decides after 21 more seconds of rationalization, she might be doing Chloe quite a courtesy. Yea, that's it, a courtesy. Besides, Chloe's a big girl. She can take care of herself when this inevitably goes to shit. So she picks up her phone and decides to send a text.
"I'm bored. This is your responsibility."
Among her many virtues, Beca quietly loves the fact that Chloe can't leave a text un-responded to for more than seven or eight seconds.
"Is it now? I don't remember being elected president of Beca's free time."
"You were appointed the moment you stepped into that shower. And for the record, it's secretary. Try some humility."
"Well excuse me for having some ambition Ms. 'Union Laborer #519 in the democratic republic of Chloe Beale.'"
"Sorry, but you know as well as I do that the republic fell the moment I invaded your A Capella club. It is a now a Beca-torial Monarchy."
"Alas, you know me too well. So what can I do for you today monarch Beca?"
"I don't know... give me something to do. Tell me a story or something."
"Hmm... well I'm in the hospital. Just got my nodes removed. So that's something."
"Did it hurt? The surgery?"
"Quicker than falling asleep. Though I can't say the same about the aftermath. I still can't talk."
"Well that's a shame. How have you kept busy in the hospital?"
"You mean besides planning my presidential campaign? I've been rereading the Harry Potter books again."
"Rereading? Again? Have they changed since the first two times you read them?"
"It's Harry Potter! How could you only be satisfied with one read through?"
"I'm perfectly satisfied with my zero."
There's no immediate response. Instead, her phone starts ringing. She's confused to see Chloe's face appear on the screen.
17 seconds of inaudible gurgling. Beca thinks she hears a "Mort" in there somewhere, but brushes it off deciding that Harry Potter probably isn't Jewish.
"Chloe you really shouldn't be talking after throat surgery. Can you not text me this?"
More inaudible grunts. Was that an "owl?" What do owls have to do with a school for wizards?
"Ok Chloe I'm gonna hang up and you're going to text me actual words."
Chloe's response comes mere seconds later.
"YOU'VE NEVER READ HARRY POTTER? ARE YOU KIDDING?! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR LIFE?!"
"... Other things? You know, singing and stuff."
"Oh my God I don't even know who you are anymore! What else have you been keeping from me? I let you join my A Capella group! I let you see me naked!"
"Ok you can't blame me for that last one."
"This will be my last message. You'll earn your Chloe privileges back once you've started reading."
"Come on Chloe you're being ridiculous."
40 Seconds without a response.
94 More seconds. Maybe she's serious about this. She sighs.
"Guess I'd better start reading."
Ring ring ring.
Beca ignores her phone.
Ring ring ring.
Yup, still ignoring it.
Ring ring ring.
Not gonna let it distract her...
Ring ring ring.
Aaaaaaaaand it's going on vibrate.
Buzz buzz buzz.
This is gonna be harder than she thought.
Buzz buzz buzz.
Yup, time to turn it off. She picks up the phone to find she'd been ignoring Chloe.
"Beca, call me as soon as you get this. Big news. BIG news!"
She considers responding, but decides that whatever it is can certainly wait another few minutes. Or hours. Maybe days at this rate...
Buzz buzz buzz.
"Come on Beca I know you saw that. This is BIG! RESPOND!"
Nope, not gonna engage.
Buzz buzz buzz.
"DAMN IT BECA PICK UP YOUR PHONE!"
Yup, at this point she's just gonna turn her phone off.
Knock knock knock.
You're freaking kidding.
"Beca let me in! I know you're in there!"
With an annoyed breath, she shouts.
"Door's open!" She doesn't bother getting up, not even lifting her head slightly.
"Beca we're–what are you doing?" She asks, noticing Beca's lying form, nose buried in a book.
"Reading," she manages to grumble in her most annoyed tone.
"Reading what?" Chloe asks, now genuinely curious.
"What? Really? Oh my God don't you love it!"
She chooses her words cautiously.
"Ok? OK! Beca it's like the greatest set of novels ever written! How far in are you?"
"About halfway done with Sorcerer's Stone."
"You mean Philosopher's Stone."
"Wanker," she mumbles under her breath, "so what did you want?"
"Oh yea," she beams, clearly building up to something, "We made the Finals!"
"One of the other teams from the semi-finals got eliminated! We're in!"
"Beca be more excited! We're going to New York!"
"No, you're going to New York. I highly doubt Aubrey will have me back."
"Come on Beca I'm sure if you just talk to her-"
"But maybe she'd-"
Chloe sighs in exasperation.
"We're having our first rehearsal on Saturday. Will you please come? For me?"
She pauses, knowing she's been beaten.
"I'll think about it. Now let me read in peace."
"Chloe! Chloe wait up!"
Beca approaches her from behind, once the group has dispersed into the night. Their victory is a foregone conclusion at this point. Now all they have to do is execute. And after the performance they just gave an empty swimming pool, there seems to be little doubt left over what will happen in New York.
"Hey Beca, what's up?"
"So... I finished the first book."
"And... it's kind of amazing."
She smiles that one of a kind Chloe smile.
"I knew you'd love it."
"I do have sort of a problem with the ending though."
"I just think it's kind of a cop out, ya know? He survived because of love? Doesn't that kind of negate all of his own strength and courage?"
"Not at all," she argues, "if anything it makes it even greater."
"On his own, Harry was just one boy. A really strong, really brave boy, but just an 11-year-old-boy nonetheless. Where would he be without Ron and Hermione and Hagrid and Dumbledore? That love he feels for them and that they feel for him is what makes him so powerful, just like the love his mother felt for him was strong enough to stop Voldemort."
Beca considers this for a moment.
"Love is a really powerful thing Beca. You should try it some time."
And for the faintest of moments, Chloe allows herself hope.
"You're right," she concedes, "listen, I've gotta go."
And that slim margin of fantasy fades into the deepest oblivions of reality.
"I have to start working on our set list for the Finals. There's this song I really need to work in."
Chloe isn't surprised when she sees Beca kissing Jesse after their performance. She's been mentally preparing herself for this ever since that night at the pool. Love is a powerful thing, she tells herself, and sometimes that power just isn't directed at you. What does surprise her, though, is where she finds Beca that night. Or, more accurately, where she doesn't find her.
"We missed you at the victory party," she says walking into the hotel room she's sharing with Beca and Aubrey, "I don't think I saw you at all."
"I was there for a bit," she rebuffs, "I just had other things to do."
"I hadn't started Chamber of Secrets yet. You know, Finals and all that."
"So how far in are you?"
"A good ways. When I told Jesse I'd just started he insisted on watching the movies with me as I finish the books."
And deep down, Chloe is hurt. Harry Potter is supposed to be their thing.
"Sounds fun," she lies through her teeth, "but the books will always be better."
"Amen to that."
"Why do the Weasleys have a flying car?" Beca asks.
"What?" Chloe responds, confused.
"Why do they Weasleys have a flying car? It seems so impractical. The whole family has broomsticks. And they have the fireplace thing. There are so many ways for wizards to get around, it just doesn't make sense that they'd have a flying car."
"I've never thought of it that way," Chloe begins to agree, "it's still cool though."
"It was a disaster waiting to happen though. I mean it is your family, you should have a better idea of what motivates them to enchant the cars they shouldn't own."
"Do I really need to spell it out for you? I'm sure all of the other kids in elementary school did a good enough job of it 15 years ago."
"So just because I have red hair I'm a Weasley? I can't be Hermione because of my acute intellect and caring nature?"
"You're not a Weasley just because you have red hair." She stops suddenly. Silence ensues.
"This is the part where you list other Weasley-like characteristics that fit my personality."
"... Well when I think of some I'll let you know."
"Suit yourself, Severus."
"I am not Snape!"
"Yes you are, Sev."
"Take that back!"
"Nope, you're grungy old Severus Snape. Greasy hair and all."
"Well excuse me for not washing my hair seven times a day like some people."
"You're grumpy like him too. And stubborn. You have the muggle version of his wardrobe and you're both brunettes. And based on the smell of your room I'd say you at least dabble in potions..."
"I am not Snape! I can't be Snape, Aubrey's Snape!"
"That's so generous of you, I'd assumed you make her Voldemort. Personally I see her as Umbridge, only not as evil. Most of the time."
"Book 5. You'll thank me when you get there."
"I am not Snape!"
"Yup. You're Snape. Sorry, that's just who you are."
To which she storms off. Beca really is a sore loser.
"That was terrible," Beca exclaims with a decided lack of exclamation in her voice.
"What? How could you not like it? The first two Harry Potter movies are my favorites!"
"Seriously? Those are the best you have to offer? They have none of the emotion of the books, none of the subtext. They were so blatantly meant to appeal to little children that they miss the entire point of the story."
"Beca I hardly think Harry killing a giant snake with a sword is childish. Besides it's telling the same story, what else really matters?"
"Forget it," she dismisses.
"I guess we'll just agree to disagree."
Jesse's opinion is as lazy as it is predictable, but then she wouldn't expect any less. He's always been this way. More interested in the destination than the journey, casually ignoring the details that make the ending what it is. He's a movie person, he wants the storybook tale. The hero slays the beast, the guy gets the girl. He's not interested in what it takes to get there, the stolen moments, the personal motivations, the unfounded desperation and underlying fears. He wants all of the joy of the book without any of the struggle. All flash, no fire. She leaves distraught, confused. This wasn't the ending she'd expected, nor was it the one she thought she deserved.
"How'd you like the movies?" Chloe asks.
"They're miserable," Beca responds, "absolutely miserable."
"Oh come on I wouldn't go that far, though they certainly aren't as good as the books."
"They're so childish, the guy who plays Dumbledore is like 200 years old."
"They get better. In fact, Prisoner of Azkaban is the best movie. Speaking of which, how far into it are you?"
"Not very. Jesse's kept me busy. I wouldn't mind some private reading time. I mean, it's the summer! That shouldn't be so much to ask!"
"Dump him for reading time," Chloe offers, not quite as sarcastically as would be appropriate, "at the very least it'd be original."
"I'm sure Hermione would approve. Be careful you might just talk me into this."
To which she laughs a bit more bitterly than would be appropriate. Not that it matters. Beca is about as adept at reading social situations as... well... Snape.
"He was their friend!" Beca announces without even bothering to knock. Chloe had grown used to this phenomenon. It happened three times throughout Chamber of Secrets. She doesn't bother looking up, continuing to paint her toenails undeterred.
"YES SIRIUS!" She exclaims with more exclamation than Chloe ever remembers her using, "Sirus! Sirius Black! He's Harry's godfather! And he betrayed them!"
"Calm down Beca."
"Calm down? How is this a moment to be calm? Unless you know something. You know something don't you? What do you know? Tell me!"
"Do you really want me to ruin the ending for you."
"Yes! No wait, no! I don't know! Just give me something! I'm going crazy here!"
"Wow Beca I've never seen you get this worked up before. It's actually kind of funny."
"This is what happens when you trick me into reading your wizard books! They're freaking addicting!"
Chloe decides to have some fun with her.
"Well come on Beca the clues are all there. I don't know how you've missed it."
"Missed it? Missed what?"
"Sirius! Sirius is innocent," she insists in her most sarcastic voice possible, "it was all a plot by Ron's pet rat Scabbers." To which she breaks into laughter.
"You're a dick Chloe."
She's running. She's not sure what she's running from, but it's cold. It's dark and it's cold. A man is with her. She can't make out his face in the ever growing darkness. She can't help but feel as if he's contributing to the cold. He's pulling her arm, almost forcibly. She's certainly reluctant. As if on cue, she falls. He tries to pull her back up, but fails. The darkness is getting greater, the air colder. She swears she hears him shout "get up!," but it's lost in the fog. As is he. She is alone. The darkness is growing quickly. It begins to engulf her. Instinctively she reaches into her pocket.
She wraps her icy fingers around the wand resting eagerly inside. She is now completely alone. Without thinking, without reason, she points it forward.
"Expecto Patronum," she musters.
Out of her wand leaps a fox. A glowing, white fox. For a moment, it looks back, the pearlescent white evolving into a deep, shining blue. It smiles. With its eyes it shouts the words its mouth cannot speak. I will protect you. I will keep you safe. I will never leave you. And the fox bounds forward, eviscerating the darkness behind a trail of pure light.
And suddenly, she's awake, lying in a pool of sweat as she is once again surrounded by the darkness of reality. She sits on this thought for several moments, wondering what she had seen.
She chooses to use clichés. It's the language she knows he'll understand.
"It's not you, it's me," she tries to convince him, "and we'll still be friends. I just... I don't think we should be in a relationship anymore."
"Is there someone else?" He asks, almost desperately, "you'd tell me if there were, right?"
"I... I don't know. I just don't know what I'm doing right now."
"Well if you ever figure it out," he sighs, "you know where to find me."
She doesn't spend the night crying or listening to love songs. In truth the pain isn't really there, though the guilt more than takes its place. The evening is spent quietly at Chloe's. No music. No movies. Just talking. She doesn't mention the dream, though. She doesn't want to talk about what it might mean. Deep down she thinks she knows, but she prefers this little slice of fantasy to whatever oblivion reality might hold.
"Harry Potter eh?" Fat Amy remarks between shark sized bites of her bagel, "you know they tried to cast me in the movies?"
"Really?" Beca replies skeptically, "what part?"
"Luna Lovegood," she drops casually, "said I was perfect for the part. Had exactly the personality they were looking for, plus they refused to cast American actors. Just told me I had to lose a bunch of weight for the role, and I was like 'bitch please that's not my style,' and I threw my drink in their face and walked out. True story."
"Can't believe Red got you into it though. You don't exactly seem the type, you know, except for the fact that you can't say no to her."
"Not even gonna deny it? You were more fun when you had things to argue about. Go tell Aubrey she looks fat in her jeans or something."
"I doubt I'm her type. She's Ginny Weasley, just waiting for some Harry Potter to sweep her off her feet."
"You've got a bit of Potter in you," she remarks rather casually, "shy child, reluctant leader, that whole bit."
"He fights against dark wizards and monsters. I won a singing contest."
"And yet both involved saving redheads from villains. Some worse than others"
"Saving Chloe from Aubrey doesn't exactly compare to saving Ginny from Voldemort."
"You're right," she affirms with the utmost conviction, "Aubrey is way worse."
"In her own way I suppose."
"Point is, you've already done the Harry Potter bit. Now it's time for Harry Potter to get laid."
"Umbridge?" Aubrey yells as loudly as you can through an un-Caps Locked text, "you think I'm Umbridge?"
"I don't think you're Umbridge, per se, I just think you happen to share a few distinguishing characteristics."
"You're both uptight. Stubborn to a fault. You both wear a lot of pink..."
"We've been over this! I'm Tonks!"
"... I mean... really?"
"You at least gave Beca SOME redeeming characteristics. I'm not saying I'd want to be Snape, but it's better than Umbridge."
"I didn't give Beca anything. She is Snape. For all of the obvious reasons and all of the quieter ones. She's too hard on herself, she'll never give herself credit for how amazing she is. She's Snape down to the finest detail."
"Can you at least give me Bellatrix? If I'm evil I might as well go for broke."
"Nope, Lilly's Bellatrix."
"... I can't even argue with that."
"How would you fight the dragon?" Beca muses.
"You mean for the first task? I don't know, how about you?"
"I'm kind of amazed nobody just tried a Killing Curse. Those aren't illegal on dragons are they?"
"Well I imagine they're frowned upon."
"So I suppose the Imperius Curse is out as well?"
"What if, before the task, I stole like a scale from the dragon's back? Then I could make Polyjuice Potion with it and turn into a dragon to fight it fairly!"
"Yea but then they'd know you knew about the dragons beforehand and disqualify you."
"Damn you're right. Any ideas?"
"I think, instead of summoning my broom like Harry did, I would summon the sorting hat."
"What? Why the sorting hat?"
"Because then, as a worthy Gryffindor, I could pull Godric Gryffindor's sword out of the hat and slay the dragon with it."
"You're gonna slay a nine ton dragon with a sword?"
"Damn right I am! Besides, it worked on the Basilisk didn't it?"
"I suppose, but there has to be an easier way to do it."
"True, but there isn't a more stylish way to do it now is there? The girls would be all over me if I literally slayed a dragon with a sword."
"The girls?" Beca thinks, "this is probably worth exploring."
So naturally, she changes the subject.
"Would you have rescued all of the others in the second task?"
"Would you have?"
"Probably not, I mean Dumbledore wouldn't let them die, right?"
"Sirius did say that people die in the tournament."
"Yea but that's so unfair! Letting someone die just because they're close to a weak champion. What if Neville Longbottom had been snuck into the tournament?"
Chloe considers dropping a spoiler to mention just how close that might have come to happening, but decides against it when she remembers the tantrum Beca threw after finding out that Chloe's supposedly fake Scabbers hint turned out to be entirely true.
"Maybe that's part of why they take the whole 'binding magical contract' thing so seriously?"
"I guess, but I still doubt that Dumbledore would have let them die. It's an unnecessary risk, I'd rather just try to finish first."
"To each her own," Chloe says, "personally I absolutely would've."
"That's because you're too damn noble."
"No, it's because Fleur would basically have to sleep with me if I saved her sister."
"Ok, this definitely isn't a coincidence," Beca confirms. She silently contemplates the thought for moment too long.
"Beca? You ok? You haven't said anything for like, a full minute."
Ok... several moments.
"Huh? Oh yea I'm just... thinking... about something."
"Would you like to share with the class?"
"It's just... it's about this dream I had... right before I broke up with Jesse."
This piques Chloe's interest.
"You'll think I'm a nerd."
"I already think you're a nerd."
"You might hate me."
"I could never hate you."
"I just don't know if I want you to know about this yet."
"Throwing a 'yet' in there just makes me more curious. Come on. Please? Please please please pleeeeeeeeeeeease," she's now begging, face inches from Beca's.
"Well... it's now or never," she tells herself.
So she closes the gap between them with as much urgency as she's ever felt and kisses her. It's not aggressive, but firmer than she'd like, as if she subconsciously has to prove that this isn't one of those 'we're just good friends who stick their tongues down each other's throat' kisses. When they separate, Chloe's smile is enormous.
"Took you long enough. I'm not sure how many more hints I could've dropped before jumping you."
"Oh come on I wasn't THAT oblivious."
"'I think we're gonna be fast friends'," she begins quoting herself, "'I'm really confident about all this', 'come over here and touch my boobs.'"
"You said you needed a breast cancer exam!"
"In what way were you qualified to administer a breast cancer exam? Aubrey's going to medical school, why wouldn't I just ask her?"
"... So maybe I was just a little oblivious."
"Just a little."
"So what do we now?"
"Well right now," she practically purrs, "I'd rather like to snog."
"You've read Harry Potter?" Beca asks her father over dinner.
"I'm an English professor, of course I have. Frankly I've always seen myself as a mix between Dumbledore and Lupin."
"What is it with the school and a lack of modesty?"
"What? I'm wise and an engaging teacher! I've also got a beard. I think I'm more than comparable to Dumbledore."
"You're about 25 years away from Dumbledore both in age and in beard-growing time. And as for Lupin, I highly doubt that you're a werewolf. I don't even think you could produce a Patronus. That's very advanced magic after all."
"Of course I could! My Patronus is an owl. Get it, because of the wisdom?"
"Yup, this school is just a bastion of humility."
"So what would your Patronus be?"
"I don't know," she lies, hoping to change the subject, "but I've still got time to figure it out. I'm only near the end of Goblet of Fire."
"Oh that's where things get really interesting. Have you reached the graveyard yet?"
"Dad! Spoiler alert!"
"I'm just telling you to watch out for it. Either way it's nice to see you reading for a change. I was worried I hadn't passed any of my genes down to you."
"Well actually, it was this girl I've been seeing. She got me into it."
"Well don't be so coy about it, who is it?"
"Isn't it a little early in the relationship to be bringing her up to my dad? We JUST got together."
"True, but you know I'm going to bother you until you tell me, so might as well get it over with now."
Damn, he's right.
"It's this girl from the Bellas named Chloe and—"
"Wait, Chloe Beale?"
"I taught her when she was a Freshman. She's one of the best students I've ever had. I love that girl! You couldn't possibly do better. You should marry her."
"Again, we JUST got together."
"She's smart, funny, beautiful AND she loves Harry Potter. Trust me Beca, you're not gonna do any better."
"Excuse me," Jesse asks, "where do you keep the Harry Potter books?"
"Aren't you a little late to the game pal?" the annoyed clerk responds.
"Well it's not like I've just avoided Harry Potter," he retorts, "I'm just more of a movie person."
"You saw the movies without reading the books?"
"Yea I've just never been much of a reader, that's not so bad is it?"
"Do you really want to ask that to a 49-year-old man who works at a book store that grossed $71 last month?"
"I suppose not. But you sound like you've read the books, is the difference really that big?"
"That depends on what you're looking for."
"Honestly? I'd kind of like to impress a girl."
"Then no offense, but I doubt the difference is going to mean much to you."
"Well then pretend I said I'm looking to expand my horizons and become a more well-read person."
"Look," he reasons, "if you just want to do it to say that you've done it then go for it. But I doubt you're going to impress a diehard fan of the books if your whole goal is to read them just to impress her."
Undeterred, Jesse reaches into his well-stocked pool of movie logic.
"Doesn't mean it's not worth a try."
"Chloe he's—oh." She stops as she finds that Chloe isn't home.
"Chloe he's what?" Aubrey asks as she emerges from her bedroom.
"It's nothing, just Harry Potter stuff."
"Harry Potter stuff definitely isn't nothing."
"I know, it's just that whenever I hit a big plot point I kind of have to discuss it with Chloe."
"Well Chloe's not gonna be home for awhile. You know I've read the books nine times each, right? If anything I'm more qualified than Chloe to talk about it."
"Yea but you're not Chloe. I don't know if I can do this with someone else. It's practically cheating on her."
"Well it's nice to see your head's in the right place, but you know Chloe's gonna force us to be besties at some point in the near future anyway," she musters in an apathetically sarcastic tone, "might as well start on our terms."
Beca ponders this for a moment. Chloe would like to hear that they'd at least attempted to bond.
"Seems fair enough."
"So where are you?"
"Voldemort's back. And Moody wasn't Moody. By the way, how could Dumbledore not notice that?"
"He didn't know that Sirius was innocent. Dumbledore's not perfect you know."
"But he's Dumbledore! And this was nine months of Polyjuice Potion. That Polyjuice Potion had to be coming from somewhere, and you'd think he'd have some measure of protection over Snape's personal collection. Plus, nobody's a good enough actor to pull that off for an entire school year. You'd have to be an idiot not to notice that, and Dumbledore's way too smart for that."
And thus, a 79-minute argument debating the intelligence of Albus Dumbledore begins. Chloe arrives at around minute 56, but the two are so heated that they don't even feign interest (or awareness) in her presence. She can't help but admire the way Aubrey deftly sidesteps any argument that might spoil the rest of the story. Yup, she'd have them sharing 'BFF' necklaces in no time.
"Why isn't there a Harry Potter drinking game?" Beca asks as Chloe officially gives up on whatever menial task she's trying to accomplish.
"Is drinking really conducive to reading?"
"I imagine in would be with Harry Potter," she argues, "it would make the magic and the owls and the talking paintings feel that much more real."
"You're thinking of weed, dear. Drinking would just make the words jump around the page like Cornish Pixies."
"Well that could be a nice way to challenge yourself while reading."
"Do you really need to challenge yourself while reading Harry Potter?"
"I don't really need to challenge myself while doing anything involving a drinking game, doesn't mean it isn't a damn good excuse to get drunk."
"You bring up a good point."
"So what would the game be?"
"Well you definitely have to take a drink every time Harry's scar is mentioned."
"And Hermione raises her hand in class."
"And Ron eats something."
"And Dumbledore mentions love."
"Double the drink if Harry gets annoyed at it."
"Triple it if Harry gets annoyed because someone says he has his mothers eyes."
"Finish your drink at anything racist."
"The goblins running the bank? All the mudblood talk? Plus, there's only like two black people at Hogwarts. And one Asian chick."
"By the way, how the hell did she get in there? If there are witches in Asia why don't they go to Asian Hogwarts? There can't be ONE Asian witch in all of Britain."
"Ok I feel like we're veering down a very dangerous path here."
"Yea you're probably right."
"Oh! Chug your drink if anyone says You-Know-Who!"
"I was gonna say that!"
"See," Chloe remarks while shifting her index finger back and forth between them, "THIS is why we're soul mates."
Chloe gets a text at 3:48 AM.
"Yup, Aubrey's Umbridge. 100% Umbridge."
"Point, Chloe," she congratulates herself.
Chloe's late. She's not late for anything of note, but she's always prided herself on punctuality. She's also prided herself on her awareness. So naturally, today's the day that both fail her. She doesn't see him as she turns the corner. He doesn't see her either. But they collide. Oh boy, do they collide. She drops her drink. He drops his book. Both are lying flat on their asses.
"Oh my god I'm so sorry I just wasn't paying attention and—" she stops, noticing who she's talking to, "Jesse?"
"So... this is awkward."
"Yea it really is..."
"What do we do now?"
"I guess this is the part where I'm supposed to apologize profusely for everything and say I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You could, but it wouldn't do much good now would it?"
"I suppose it wouldn't."
"I can't exactly blame you," he continues, "if the roles were reversed I think I'd probably do the same thing."
"Yea, I definitely would. But hey, she's with you now and I guess I have to accept that. As long as you make her happy and all that."
"I think I do. Thanks Jesse, that's really mature of you."
And just as she's ready to leave, she remembers the book. Her curiosity gets the better of her.
"What's that you're reading?"
"Oh this?" He says, as if admitting to a crime, "it's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
"Really? I thought you were only into the movies."
"I was, but Beca was so insistent on the books that I thought I'd give them a try."
Suddenly, she's suspicious. Not quite threatened, but definitely suspicious.
"Well, I guess I'll see you around then," she grits.
"Yea, I guess so."
Beca's in tears when she arrives at Chloe's door. Her first instinct is to ask if something happened to a family member, but then she probably wouldn't have just come over unannounced. Maybe a Bella? No, she would've heard from someone else. Is it just her time of the month? She wraps her in a hug and strokes her hair gently.
"Beca, honey, what's wrong?"
"Come on, you can do it."
"S-S-Sirius. It's S-Sirus. He's d-d-dead. She k-killed h-him."
And Chloe so badly wants to burst out into laughter. But then, she knows Beca won't appreciate that. She also knows she'd cried just as hard when she first read Sirius' death. So she just holds her. She lets her cry as she guides her into the bedroom.
"It's kind of funny," she tries to joke, "you hated Sirius when you first heard of him."
"I know, I'm just thinking out loud. Everyone loved him just as much when they found out he was innocent."
"He's the only family Harry has left. Well, had now."
"I know. At least he didn't die for nothing, right?"
"Well I dropped the book right after Sirius died, so you tell me."
"Well, you know Voldemort doesn't get the prophecy. It never would've broken if Harry hadn't gone to the Department of Mysteries. I know it's not much, but it made things that much harder for Voldemort."
And they remain like that, lying in Chloe's bed spooning and talking about Harry Potter. It might've been minutes. It might've been hours. It might've been seconds. Neither cares. They love outside of time.
"I have to admit I'm surprised Umbridge sent the dementors," Beca says, "I would've bet anything it would've been Voldemort. I can't believe how incompetent the ministry is."
"Oh believe me, it doesn't end there. It's just irresponsible to have dementors guarding Azkaban in the first place."
"Yea. How could they subject anyone to that? Just experiencing your worst memories over and over again, for all of eternity. Can you imagine what that would be like?"
"For me it'd be a world without you," Chloe's tone laced with just enough sarcasm to keep Beca from running, even if they both know she never would. Not now anyway.
"Someone's cheesy tonight."
"You bring it out of me."
They lie in a comfortable silence for a few moments. Chloe decides to break it.
"What do you think your Patronus would be?"
"You know, what animal do you think your Patronus would be?"
And she so badly wants to tell her. She wants to tell her about the dream. She wants to tell her about the fox.
So naturally, she doesn't even try.
"So I have a theory about Snape's unbreakable vow."
"What do you mean 'nope?'"
"I'm not engaging. Last time we did something like this you threw a bar of soap at me."
"That's because you spoiled the damn ending!"
"Because you forced me to!"
"I did no such thing!"
"I'm not taking theories, ideas, possibilities, theses, postulations or speculations."
"No conjectures either!"
"Just listen to me!"
"No," and she sticks her fingers in her ears, "lalalalala I'm not listening lalalalalala."
So Beca shouts.
"Snape is going to help Malfoy try to kill Harry!"
"Wait really? That's your theory?"
"Yes! It would have to be someone at Hogwarts to kill Harry, right? Dumbledore wouldn't let anyone else into the castle, and Malfoy isn't ready to do it on his own. Snape could give him potions to slip into Harry's drink or something."
"Beca without giving anything away you do realize it'd be pretty hard for Malfoy to kill Harry in this book considering the fact that a seventh book exists."
"Well I never said he succeeded!"
"And you think Snape is just completely on board with going to Azkaban over this?"
"Snape would definitely give up his life for what he believes in. Even if that means killing someone."
To which Chloe laughs.
"You are sooooooo much more like Snape than you realize."
"Stop saying that!"
"Come on Beca you know it's true!"
"I mean it! I'm not Snape!"
"I'm sorry Beca but you are who you are. Look at the bright side, you'll get to kill Harry soon!"
"Well what else would it be? What else would the Dark Lord ask Draco Malfoy to do? Draco Malfoy can't do shit! His only valuable trait is that he happens to attend Hogwarts. The only thing he could possibly do there is kill Harry Potter!"
"If you say so Severus."
"Beca's late again," Stacie announces to the unsurprised group.
"She's too busy reading Harry Potter."
"We lost our captain to a teenaged wizard."
"Oh come on, I'm sure she'll show up eventually! And besides, this means less cardio!" Fat Amy announces, overjoyed at the very prospect.
"We haven't done cardio at a rehearsal since Aubrey left."
"We've barely had a rehearsal since Aubrey left. Beca's too caught up reading about magic and trolls and dragons and people with weird names."
"Well to be fair, the names are really weird. Dumbledore, Voldemort, Quirrell, Slughorn, Filius, Mundungus. Do any of you know anyone named Hermione?"
"I do," Lilly tries to no avail.
"And what about Hogwarts? Who thought naming a school after the warts on a pig would be a good idea?"
"Come to think of it, Harry and Ron are really the only people in the series with normal names."
"Well most of the Weasleys do."
"It's JENNY, not Ginny. That always bothered me."
"I think that's a British thing though. Besides, otherwise it's Charlie, Bill, Percy, Fred and George. Those are all normal names."
"Percy isn't. Or at least it shouldn't be."
"Sirius Black, Bellatrix Lestrange, Remus Lupin, Gilderoy Lockhart, Alastor Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Lucius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy, Narcissa Mal-"
"Ok! Most of the names are weird!"
"Maybe it's a cultural thing," Stacie intercedes, "does anyone here speak British?"
"And what about the spells? If the names are British or made up, why are most of them Latin?"
"And why does everything have pumpkin in it?"
"Because they're wizards! Duh!"
"What does that have to do with pumpkins!"
And thus, the room falls into a state of Harry Potter induced anarchy. Beca walks in a few minutes later, but decides watching the mayhem to be a better use of her time than actually rehearsing.
Beca sits on the bed reading while Chloe casually tries to write a paper. Typically, Chloe wouldn't allow such an arrangement, as Beca is... let's just say a loud reader. The gasps are one thing, but does she really need to stop and give commentary every few minutes. But Kimmy Jin has demanded the room for the evening and this just isn't an argument worth having.
"Oh my God!"
"What is it now?"
"Snape. Snape just killed Dumbledore."
"Oh, congratulations you actually stopped on an important point!"
"Isn't sarcasm supposed to be my thing."
"You try being in the room with you while reading."
"Well excuse me for not being quiet as a church mouse while reading."
"You're SUPPOSED to be quiet as a church mouse while reading! That's like the very definition of reading!"
"How could I not be loud! Snape just killed Dumbledore."
"Well I do agree that that's a yell-worthy moment."
"Do you still think I'm Snape."
"'Yup?' What do mean 'yup'?"
"I mean I still think you're Snape."
"After he killed Dumbledore?"
"Chloe for God's sake I'm not Snape!"
"Yes you are!"
"Chloe," she says, now in a far more serious tone, "I. Am. Not. Snape."
"Yes. You. Are."
And this leads to a fight more serious than either should've allowed. Chloe says Beca can't take a joke. Beca says Chloe doesn't take anything seriously. By the time Beca slams the door on her way out Chloe realizes just how badly she's fucked up.
She can't go home. Kimmy Jin has demanded solitude. She really isn't sure why they still live together. She doesn't want to drive out to her dad's place, that would require effort and an explanation. Though it wouldn't be as prodding, the other Bellas would need one as well. So she goes to the radio station, thinking she'll find solitude. So she sits down at the table hoping that whoever's DJing isn't particularly nosy.
So much for that.
"Umm... not much... shouldn't you be DJing?"
"It's on a CD it'll go on for another hour or so."
The silence is awkward. Beyond awkward. It's downright excruciating.
"So what brings you to the radio station at this hour?"
"Oh," she stutters uncomfortably, "I don't know if I should talk about it."
"Come on Beca, we should at least be able to talk to each other like normal adults."
"It's just that Chloe and I had a bit of a fight and I needed to get away for awhile."
"Oh wow, I'm sorry."
"I'm not a monster Beca."
"You really aren't. I'm sorry I'm just kind of off right now."
"So what was the fight about?"
"It's gonna sound stupid."
"Most fights are."
"Ugh I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I got mad at her for calling me Snape."
"Well it brought up a whole bunch of other things!"
"Yea but you still got in a fight because she called you Snape?"
"Well... yea. There was other stuff though. That's just how it started."
They settle into a comfortable conversation. She'd forgotten how easy he is to talk to. Well, at least about certain things.
"It's her fault."
"I mean, is assigning blame really the best idea?"
"Well, you did tell her that it bothered you, right? I mean, I know I wouldn't want to be called Snape. And all of the other stuff... that seems valid too. At least based on what I know about her, which admittedly isn't that much."
"I guess that makes sense."
"Can I ask a personal question?"
"Go for it."
"I'm just curious, why her? I mean, I get it you didn't want to be with me, but unless I'm mistaken you broke up with me to be with her. I'd just like to know why."
"Would it sound totally cliché if I said it came to me in a dream?"
"It would, but clichés are clichés for a reason."
"Well that was part of it. Well, most of it. That, and you haven't read Harry Potter."
"Actually, that last part isn't true."
"Well, I actually started reading it after we broke up. I just finished the second book, and you were right, it's better."
This silence is more comfortable. It's understated, dignified. Almost out of a book.
"You know," he continues, "if you broke up with me because I haven't read Harry Potter, and now I have read Harry Potter, there really isn't much of a reason for us not to be together right now."
"Jesse I have a girlfriend."
"I'm just saying, your excuses seem pretty flimsy right now. So far I've got a book and a dream. I've read the book and if I could have the dream I would."
"Jesse I don't know—"
"Come on Beca. It's not like you and Chloe are on great terms. You could've gone back to her place to fix things at any time but you didn't, you stayed here and talk to me."
"Here," he begins, "just tell me how this feels."
And he moves in slowly, deliberately. He wants to give her every chance to back out. She doesn't, though she doesn't engage either. Though their lips technically meet she'd hardly call it a kiss. It might be on his end, but it certainly isn't on hers. It's a movie kiss in that it's nothing like what you'd see in a movie, but an objective observer would still see it. Of course, most viewers aren't objective.
"Beca?" Chloe fights through the tears.
She considers saying something. Pleading with Chloe. Telling her that 'it's not what you think.' Doing all of those things Jesse's movies tell her would work. But life isn't a movie.
"So you're back with that Jesse guy?"
"Yea I am. Do you think it's the right decision dad?"
"What the hell do I know? I've got one failed marriage under my belt with another on the way."
"Did you at least like him?"
"I thought he was alright. Nothing special though."
"I feel the same way," she wants to agree.
"I guess it just makes sense."
"You sound like you're 37 and counting down the ticks of your biological clock. You're in college. You don't need to settle."
"I wouldn't call it settling. It's more like I'm easing back into this. Just because he's not as exciting as Chloe doesn't mean he's not as good. Maybe I need something more low-key."
"I suppose that's one way of looking at it," he offers in his best fatherly sage sort of way. She'll figure it out when she's ready, so he decides to change the subject, "so how far into Harry Potter are you?"
"I stopped reading after Half-Blood Prince."
"What? Why would you stop right before the ending?"
"Harry Potter was me and Chloe's thing. I guess I just didn't want to open up old wounds."
"I think you should keep reading. I think you'll like what you find."
"Come on Chloe, it's been over a month. You need to stop moping around the house and actually go out and do something with yourself."
"Excuse me for not getting over breakups in 45 minutes Aubrey!"
"Well I'm just saying you should go out and do something! I don't care what that something is, but what good is wasting away in here gonna do? You could go talk to her you know. I'm not saying you should get back together, but I'm guessing she's at least sorry."
"Sorry? She's the one who kissed someone else, not me."
"Well you didn't exactly give her a chance to explain herself."
"I'd give her the chance if she'd just talk to me."
"She's Beca. You know she's not gonna initiate anything. It has to be you."
"I just don't think I can do it. I need to know that she's sorry, not just hear the words. Why are you defending her so much anyway?"
"Because she's Snape," Aubrey turns Chloe's words against her, "and the last time someone didn't forgive Snape things turned out pretty badly for everyone involved."
It's movie night. Beca thinks it's the 417th in her second go 'round as Jesse's girlfriend. It's really just the 11th. Every Wednesday. Like clockwork.
"I can't believe I convinced you to finally start watching Harry Potter again!"
"Neither can I," she practically deflates.
"Prisoner of Azkaban is admittedly low on my list, but at least the visuals are cool."
"It was Chloe's favorite."
He doesn't hear it. He has very selective hearing. His only objective at the moment is getting her to enjoy the movie. She won't. Deep down he knows that, but this is his story, and his story ends with the girl loving the movie. She doesn't, obviously, but she at least appreciates it. For the direct object, not the subject.
"So what'd you think?"
"It was alright. Definitely better than the first two."
"I love all of the scenes with the dementors. They were so well done."
He senses her discomfort. He tries to keep the conversation moving.
"So what would do you think your Patronus would be if you were a witch?"
She doesn't pause. A pause implies she had at one point been moving. But the air is sucked out of the moment, Beca's silence louder than ever. It's an eternity of instance before she finally acts.
"A fox," she barely manages to get out, "my Patronus is a fox."
His heart sinks as quickly as his voice.
"After all this time?"
A single tear falls down her cheek.
It's funny, she thinks, how she feels less alone in solitude than she has in the past few months with someone. It's probably the guilt. Not over the kiss. She didn't kiss him back after all, and had she had time to come to her senses before Chloe's inopportune arrival she likes to believe she would have slapped him. It's how she justifies it in her head. Even if she knows it's a lie.
Maybe it's the freedom she allows herself to dream. She no longer keeps herself from imagining a different ending to their story. One where she chases after her. One where she apologizes and begs for forgiveness. One where they kiss and make up. It's the ending she wants, even if it's not the one she deserves. It's nice to fantasize sometimes though. It gets her through the hard days. They're all pretty hard though. Even after the breakup. The most recent breakup.
She wonders if she's finally allowed her cynicism to catch up with her. Maybe Jesse was just her distraction, one she hated herself so much for partaking in that finally ridding herself of it actually feels good. But without the distraction she's free to feel real emotions. Her real pain. She doesn't try to dull the pain. The masochist inside of her even enjoys it. It's her penance. A penance she'll never quite be able to repay. She deserves it. She likes to believe this is how she can make it up to Chloe.
She's got quite a bit of free time on her hands now. It's the first time she's been single (without any immediate prospects anyway) since the Finals. She doesn't hate it quite as much anymore though. Again, she is a bit of a masochist. Time alone with her thoughts is far worse torture than even the deadliest Cruciatus Curse.
She meanders out of bed for a moment just to stretch her legs. The dank room hasn't been cleaned in weeks. She'd say it smells like crap, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. More like stale Cheetos and a dying turtle. She can at least explain half of the equation. She supposes a bit of maintenance wouldn't be the worst thing. She throws a few loose shirts into her laundry basket before moving onto what she affectionately calls "Pants Mountain." It started out as a single pair. That pair evolved into a hill. Over the course of a now unidentifiable number of months, that hill grew into a mountain. Now's as good a time as any to knock it down.
It takes her 11 minutes to move each pair into the now overflowing basket. She's admittedly moving rather slowly. She wonders why she never considered laundry as a viable time killer in her earlier days of boredom. The thought is quickly expunged as she reaches the bottom. Her closed fist scrapes the top of something solid as she picks up the final pair. She looks back to see a book. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
She never bought the final book. She wasn't even going to read it, nor did she know how it got to the bottom of her rancid pile of pants. She picks it up out of curiosity and lies back in bed. When she opens it to the inside cover, she finds neat, cursive writing. She recognizes it immediately.
First of all, kudos to me! I knew you wouldn't find this until you were ready. This is what you get for never doing laundry! I put this book at the bottom of Pants Peak awhile ago. Hopefully not too long, you are a fast reader after all, but I can only assume this will take a decent bit of time. After all, you just started Prisoner of Azkaban! But at this point you're probably wondering why I hid a book for you at the bottom of a pile of pants, so I suppose I'll tell you. This is my personal copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I want you to have her. Don't you dare laugh at me for calling a book 'her!' She means a lot to me, and I know she'll mean a lot to you too. Take good care of her, and I'll be waiting for you the moment you finish. I know you'll love her just as much as I have.
— Lots of Love, Chloe
Without so much as a thought, she turns to the next page.
Her knock is desperate. She can hardly stop herself from barging in. The only thing that's keeping her sane is the book she's clutching to her chest with both hands firmly wrapped around it. The door opens.
"Beca?" It's more of an astonishment than a question. But Beca can't wait any longer.
"I was wrong," she fights through the tears.
"Wrong about what?"
"I'm Snape," she declares rather than admits. She's proud of it, "I'm Snape. I'm mean, grungy, stupid, desperate Snape and you're Lily. And I know there's probably a James and I know I probably messed things up beyond repair and I definitely don't deserve you but I just—"
Her heart stops.
"I love you too."
And she kisses her. Deeply, without the same snarky reservations as their last 'first' kiss. But there would be no more 'first' kisses. There would be no James, just Beca and Chloe. Lily, and for reasons Beca would never quite understand nor complain about, Snape.
"After all this time?" She asks, not really believing this to be real. Chloe laughs.