Justin Finch-Fletchley (justin_sfh) wrote in steadfast_heart,
Justin Finch-Fletchley

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He spun the light catcher around as he sat by the window in his dorm room. It had been a stupid purchase, but he had still put it with his other things on the counter. Now, weeks later, he wondered why he had bought it. Surely he wouldn't really send it to her. Sometimes he thought yes but then he talked himself out of it.

This simple piece of wire and glass reminded him of her. It seemed to suit her - at least, as he remembered her. Grabbing a piece of parchment before he could talk himself of out it again, he wrote a note:

Dear Padma,
I saw this the other day in Hogsmeade and thought of you. Please accept this gift in the spirit it was intended - as a simple gesture of friendship and apology.

He sat his quill down in frustration and took a lap around the empty room. That he would even think of asking for forgiveness made him ill. She deserved more than just words. How could he expect her to forget what an idiot he had been...was still being? Terry had said that he was wrong in his assumptions and he could believe it. Look how wrong he had been about Susan, although he felt a little better knowing that he had been right about Tracy. After she sicced the hulking Goyle on him, even Ernie was starting to admit that he had been completely wrong about her. Justin rubbed the sore knuckles and smiled as he remembered the look on the othe boys face when he had gotten to the scene with Wayne. The two of them had ended the fight before it started to go downhill and Ernie had only needed one of Madame Pomfrey's potions.

"Concentrate on the task at hand," he growled, picking up the quill once again, dipping it into the ink with care.

I don't deserve your friendship after the way I acted but please let my apology help smooth out some of the wrong I've done. I miss you.

He pulled out his wand and wiped out that last sentence. Too much. It was true but he didn't want to scare her off. Everyday, it was becoming both easier and harder to live without her. Too many times he was spending time up here by himself or out on the Quidditch pitch instead of being around people like he knew he should.

I hope this makes you smile when you see it. For some reason, it reminded me of you when I saw it.


The wand came back out even though he paused before erasing it, savoring the look of the word. No, he didn't deserve her love. Not anymore. Not after the way he acted.

Your friend,

He erased that too, finally just signing JFF.

Before he lost his nerve, he folded the paper over the small gift and ran to the owlery, virtually ignoring everyone he saw. The owl he chose looked at him distainfully when he gave it the directions, but flew off before he could think twice.

There. It was done. He walked back to his chair by the window and contemplated Quidditch moves.
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Padma was sitting in her dormitory, pondering the note Lisa had found on her bed. She and the blonde girl were staring at it, trying to figure out where their normally quiet and retiring roomate could have gone, when the owl came through the window.

"Maybe it's from her," Lisa said, her forehead furrowed in concern. "Do you think she's alright?"

Padma shrugged her shoulders as she stroked the owl's keel. "Probably, maybe she just needed to get away. Don't tell me you've never felt that way. If she's not back by Monday we'll tell Professor Flitwick, till then ..." She stopped as she recognized the handwriting on the package.

With a little gasp she sank down onto her bed, holding the package in both hands.

"Are you okay?" Lisa asked, starting to get up.

"I'm fine," Padma said, "It's from Justin ... can you give me a few minutes?"

The other girl's expression softened, and without another word she grabbed her books and headed for the door.

Padma waited until she was gone, then slowly unwrapped the paper. The contents fell out into her lap, and she stared at it, feeling her chest start to hurt. She touched the colored glass softly with one finger before turning to the note. As she read it she found it hard to breathe.

I hope this makes you smile when you see it. For some reason, it reminded me of you when I saw it.

She smoothed her fingers over the words, trying to beleive she was really seeing them. It was something she hadn't been expecting, him apologizing to her. It made her feel that somehow, he hadn't forgotten her, forgotten their friendship. Forgotten... what he meant to her.

For a few moments she just held the glass sun catcher in her hand and pressed the note against her chest, holding the hope it gave her close. If nothing else, it meant he somehow still wanted to be friends.

After a few minutes she smiled and hung the catcher up above her bed, then carefully put the note in her drawer before reaching for a quill and parchment.

Dear Justin,

Thank you. It made me smile.

She hesitated over the next part. What else should she say? Could she even go into how she felt? Finally, after tapping her quill for a while, she took it up again.

I'm sorry too. Things just got out of hand. I want my friend back.

She stared at that and wondered if it was too much. After a moment she rewrote the last sentence.

Someday, if you want, I'd like to have my friend back.

That was better. She held the note and jotted something else then folded the note and gave it back to the owl before she lost her nerve. She watched it fly out the window and she felt herself start to shake.

I miss you.



He couldn't believe his eyes when the owl swept into the room. It had only been half an hour! Was he bringing it back? Had Padma refused it? His chest hurt at the thought but he saw his name in her handwriting. Whooping with joy, he jumped up from the chair, holding the paper as if it was made of glass.

The first time, he was convinced he had read it wrong. The second time, he just shook his head and wondered if he had eaten something that hadn't agreed with him. The third time, he let himself believe what he was reading.


He didn't deserve her. She had accepted his apology and she had signed the letter Yours. There were so many things he wanted to say but felt inadequate, suddenly.

"This is what got you into this mess. You let your insecurities get in the way!" Nothing would be the way it had been, that was guarenteed. Expecting her to have forgotten everything that he had done was asking too much of her - and him. He had grown up a lot in the past months but not enough. There were still these fears that haunted him.

I want my friend back, too. Considering what a complete prat I've been in the past, I want to take this slowly. I couldn't bear to break your heart again and I know that mine couldn't handle it. Can we talk? Your common room or mine. Somewhere that won't draw a lot of attention if you feel the need to throw something at me but nothing secluded. Better yet, let's go back to the place where this started. The front steps. I'll give you an hour before I wander back up to my room to pretend to study once again.

No matter what, I think we do need to talk. I miss you.

The owl came back into her room, looking very disgruntled, especially when Padma snatched the note from him. She made up for it by handing him an owl treat absently as she read.

She only stopped long enough to tuck the note away and look in the mirror before she headed for the door. Part of her said she should be cool about this, that she should make him wait at least a few minutes. The other part of her couldn't wait. She paused by the cloak closet, then ran her hand over her hair as she clattered down the stairs, the heavy material draped over her arm. Several people in the Common Room looked up then went back to their studies as she burst through. She didn't stop her dash until she reached the second floor, and she paused for a moment to breathe before descending the rest of the steps calmly. When she reached the front entrance, he was sitting outside in the late afternoon light. It was becoming cloudy with a little bit of wind and he was rubbing his hands over his arms.

Without thinking she dropped down beside him. "You'll never remember to put your cloak on, will you?" she asked. When he looked over at her, with a vaugely unsure expression, she smiled and handed him the extra one she'd brought.
"Thanks." He was a litte surprised to see her. It might very well been the green things that had been served with breakfast that had brought on a hallucination of her letter back to him. He had been contemplating on what would happen if her letter was an illusion but yet she got two letters from him. Was that an offense that would get one locked into St. Mungo's.

She sat down beside him and they sat quietly for a moment. When he felt brave, he said, "It seems like forever since we first met here. So much has happened in the two years. Not even two years. Wow."

He licked his suddenly dry lips, wondering if he'd be able to talk with a mouth that felt full of cotton. "I'm truly sorry for how I've treated you in the past, Padma. I've been an arse. Ernie delights in calling me one everday and he has no idea what exactly happened. He just likes to call me that. Not that I was much better to the rest of them." He reached for her hand and held it, still unable to meet her eyes. What would he see there? "But I was worse to you."
Padma couldn't seem to stop looking at him. He was quiet, and oddly more thoughtful then she could ever remember seeing him. It seemed like something was different about him, but when he took her hand she felt like he wasn't that differently after all. She squeezed his hand and with a sigh leaned her head on his shoulder. He stiffened, but it felt good, and comfortable somehow.

"I just wished we'd talked about it," she said. "I was prideful and stupid, and I should have... I don't know, written you an owl or something, anything to tell you how much I missed you and how miserable I was without you." She heard him take in his breath sharply, and when he did she looked up, their eyes meeting.

"I was, you know. Terribly, horribly miserable." She looked at him seriously. "Justin, you have to know I never did anything with Marcus. Not once. It was only you that I ... " she felt herself stop as heat rushed to her face. It was impossible to say that now. He no doubt wanted her as a friend, and that was okay, as long as she had him, somehow in her life. As long as he looked at her again. Before she could stop herself she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tight, feeling tears begin to trickle down her cheek.

"Justin, I missed you so much."
"I know, Princess. I know all about being miserable. I missed you, too," he said, his voice thick with unshed tears. He patted her back but his movements were awkward as he tried to keep control of his emotions. Oddly, he felt no anger at the mention of Flint's name, even coming from her mouth.

Her grip loosened as he sat stiffly on the step, not returning the embrace or saying anything else. When she sat back, he took a deep breath and looked at her again, his gaze intent on hers.

"I was holding on too tightly, not giving you space. That was wrong. You need to explore your options, Padma. I can't stifle you. You're too special to me."
She stared at him for a full minute, trying to work her mind around what he was saying. It sounded like ...

After a moment, she wiped her eyes and stared down at her hands, feeling her heart threatening to explode in her chest from the pain. She didn't want options, she just wanted him.

"You're special to me, too Justin," she said. "I... I understand if you just want to be friends after everything that happened. I mean, if there's another girl ... Susan ... I know ... I don't want to lose you," she finished in a rush. She looked up to find him staring at her and she brushed at her eyes again. "If you just want to be friends we can do that. It's not what ... I just want you to be happy."

"Happy?" he asked, laughing in scorn at the thought. "Being friends will keep me sane. I don't know if I can explain this well, though."

He put his arm around her and pulled her into a tight embrace, telling himself that he could let go at any time. This was the one thing that he had promised himself he wouldn't do. No physical touching that would bring him back to the idea of putting bonds on her again.

"I need distance from you or I'm going to do the same thing again. Do you want that? Do you want to be scared to look at another guy for fear that I'll take it the wrong way? I nearly died when I realized what I did to you and I can't do that again. I can't hurt you again. Please be my friend. After a while, if you still ... like me, we can move on to the next step. There is no one like you, Princess. No one in the world. Spending time with you makes me a better person. I want to be the person you think I am. Give me a chance to become that person."
She stared at him for a long moment, thinking about what he was saying. It made sense, but she knew in her heart that no amount of time would ever change the way she felt about him.

"Alright," she said finally. "Time is something I can give you. Friendship is too. But never, ever doubt what you mean to me." She reached up gently and touched his cheek with her fingers. In his eyes she saw a boy who was trying to change into something that she knew he already was inside. She felt his arm tighten around her and she leaned up and kissed him gently on the cheek. "You make me whole, even as just a friend," she whispered in his ear. "Without you I was just a half a person. Remember that." When she pulled back, he was looking at her with a look that made her smile. "Besides, it's good in a way. Before you always ... you seemed to think I was somehow infallible. Now you know I'm not, I'm just a girl. I get mad, I do stupid things, just like everybody else."
"You're not like everyone else. Anyone else would have written me off a long time ago. You're special. Granted, you have a temper and use it when needed and you're still always annoyingly right all the time, but you're very special." His cheek burned where she had kissed him and he would have put his hand there but he was afraid to move, for fear that he would scare her off.

"I've gotten to know your sister and it amazes me the differences in the two of you. Even for being a twin, you're a unique individual."

He kept his arm around her shoulder but looked out over the school grounds once again. The sky was a pearly blue as the sun began to sink in the horizon. Even though he wasn't who he wanted to be, he was who he wanted to be with and that seemed to make all the difference in the world. For the first time so far this year, he felt a little less alone.

"We're having a Quidditch game on Tuesday. Nothing special since it's not a real match but it'll be the first one where with a real opponent. Would you come and watch from the stands? It would mean a lot for me to know you were there."
She smiled and squeezed his arm. "I'd like that. I'd like it alot. Seeing you play? I wouldn't miss it for anything. I'll even wear yellow ribbons in my hair." They smiled at each other and slowly stood up, brushing off their cloaks. He handed her the extra one and they just stood there looking at each other. Finally Padma cleared her throat and pulled away. "I still study in my usual spot if you want to stop by. And I liked this note writing thing. We should do it more often."

They started for the door, and as he reached to open it, she smiled at him. "Oh, and Justin? Just so you know, I'm not seeing Micheal. I told him so on Saturday. See, he was a nice guy, but ... he wasn't you." She waved and started for the stairs, aware he was staring after her. It was hard not to look back, but she managed until she reached the top of the stairs. When she turned around, she saw him smile at her and lift his hand to wave back.

"See you tomorrow then," she said.
Now that name from her lips made him angry but he fought off the dazed feeling and concentrated on her words. "Tomorrow. For sure."

When she was gone, he sank back agains the door, his legs nearly giving out on him. It had been harder than he had thought it would be but it hadn't killed him. The pain had been minimal, mostly when he had let go of her. Being friends was doable.

"Need some help?"

He opened his eyes and smiled at Megan. "No. I'm fine. How're you? Missed seeing you around lately."

She grinned shyly and bent her head, her hair falling in front of her face. "I've been busy."

He was silent and she lifted her eyes back to his. "I saw some of the practice yesterday. You and Ernie look really good out there."

"Don't tell him that, though. His head is already so big that he has trouble staying on his broom."

"You look different, Justin. Happy, I think. Yes. You look happy."

"Getting there. Definitely on the right track." He nodded, leaning his head back agains the door as he contemplated the stairs she had just gone up. He had read a book once where the main character had kissed the steps his lady had walked up. At the time, he had scoffed at the notion. For the first time, he understood the need to express the emotions inside his heart.

"Good. You'll play better." She smiled and turned to walk off, a blur of curly hair and an oddly familiar jacket.

Maybe he would play better now that he had found his happiness again. It was a possibility.