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Chapter 17: Banshee Cries
“Al, you’ve been attached at the face with Sophie for the last month. You can live for a little while alone.” I reminded him as I took the seat next to Fred in the empty compartment. I smiled as Fred wrapped his arm around my shoulder allowing me to snuggle into his chest. “We aren’t even snogging.”
“But you’re going to!” He whined, crossing his arms and pouting. I didn’t give him an ounce of pity as I shrugged and snuggled closer to Fred. This only made Al let out a huff of annoyance before he turned on the seat and put his feet up. “Are we there yet?”
“Train hasn’t left the station, mate,” Fred chuckled. “Aren’t you having Sophie for Christmas anyway?”
“Yeah, two days from now!” He whined as he pulled the hood of his jumper over his head. “Wake me when we get to London.”
“If our snogging wakes you don’t turn around.” Fred warned, only getting another moan from Al as he pulled his hood further past his eyes.
“Actually do, it’ll be payback for the past month of you and Sophie.” I added, causing him to give us a not very nice hand gesture before he rolled over to face the wall. The train lurched forward a few moments later as it started its trek towards London.
“I got you something for Christmas,” Fred whispered after we heard a soft snoring coming from Al.
“Do you honestly think I would tell you?” He retorted, quirking up an eyebrow at me.
“Please?” I pestered.
“It’s a surprise.”
I stuck my lip out and gave him a pouty frown. All it did was make him laugh, and bend down to kiss my lower lip.
“I bet you four galleons I can get the answer out of you by the end of the train ride.” I whispered as he pulled away.
He started to laugh before retorting, “If you want to give me your money just do it now.”
“I’m going to get it out of you.” I chuckled back.
“You’re so confident, yet how long did it take to figure out who I fancied?” He asked as he tapped his nose knowingly.
I simply gave him a sweet smile, before I stood up. As I shook my fingers free from being intertwined with his, I took the few steps over to the other side of the compartment and sat at the edge of the bench by Al’s feet. With the smallest smile I could muster I looked down at my nails, pretending they were much more interesting than anything Fred had to say.
A soft rustling of Fred’s clothing told me he had stood up and was moving towards me. I had to use every ounce of willpower not to move a muscle as he brought his mouth next to my ear and whispered, “Come on love, let’s give Al something to complain about.”
I felt a chill rush through me as his warm breath tickled my ear. I looked up just enough so I made eye contact with him before his lips found mine. He gave me a few soft, playful kisses before he slowly pulled back. In the need to not break apart from him I stood, letting him pull me back to our side of the compartment. Just before I pushed him onto our bench, he wrapped his hands around my waist and spun me around. Deepening the kiss ever slightly, he pushed forward just enough so I sat down on the bench. I let out a small sigh when he stopped for just long enough to take the seat next to me, before he continued.
After a few moments I backed away just enough so my lips were still touching his, and I whispered, “Tell me.”
He too backed away enough so he could laugh, before shaking his head. “My dad said I could come and visit Christmas afternoon if it’s okay with your parents.”
“You’re trying to change the subject and it’s not working,” I retorted, but smiled. “We’ll be going to my mum’s side of the family in the afternoon.”
“They’re all muggles, right?”
Nodding, I smiled. “But they’re used to magic with my mum, dad and I. We’re just sort of the oddballs of the family.”
“Yeah, that’s my whole family.” Fred sighed, slumping back in his seat. “Twenty six Weasley/Potters with significant others all crammed into a house held together with magic and glue.”
“Glue?” I asked, quirking up an eyebrow.
He shrugged, “I don’t know, grandpa insisted it would work. Just don’t go into my Uncle Charlie’s old room.”
I started to laugh as I snuggled back against him, letting him wrap his arm around my waist. I did continue to pester him about Christmas through the train ride, but he held his ground.
The compartment door slid open a while later and the familiar, “Anything off the trolley?” came floating in. Before I could open my mouth Fred was at her cart. Handing over a small fortune, he turned back around a moment later with his arms full of sweets.
“Should we wake him?” I asked, nodding over to Al.
“Naw, I got him some licorice wands so we wouldn’t have to listen to him,” He chuckled, grabbing a few pieces of candy from the pile of treats in his hands and tossed them onto Al’s stomach. Al let out a quiet grunt as they landed on him, before he rolled back over to face the wall.
I smiled as he sat back next to me and dropped the pile between us. “You didn’t have to pay for me.”
“Well, you’ll be paying me back when you lose the bet anyway.” He shrugged with a mouth full of chocolate frog. He smirked as he picked another snack from the pile and gestured for me to dig in.
I looked at the pile before I chose a cauldron cake and started to eat. Looking down at the cake I remembered the last time I had my favorite treat; the ‘chocolate on the chin’ incident in the kitchens last week. I felt color prickle up my cheeks as I thought back to my awkward pull away. I remembered the expression on his face only seconds before I had made my escape. In retrospect, I really should pay attention more when people are trying to show their feelings.
“Were you going to kiss me in the kitchens last week?” I asked after I swallowed. Fred laughed for a second, before he looked up from the chocolate frog card he was admiring with a small smile.
“I’m sorry I pulled away. I don’t think my mind was quite ready for it.” I sighed awkwardly as I looked down to my hands.
“It took me five years to pluck up the courage to try to kiss you and I got completely shut down,” He said in a fake woeful tone, before smirking. “Don’t be sorry; at least it worked a few days later.”
“Why didn’t you say anything before?” I asked out of curiosity.
He furrowed his eyebrows and asked, “What do you mean?”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me you fancied me in fourth, fifth, or sixth year?”
Setting down the half eaten pumpkin pasty he sighed. “A lot of reasons; I suppose the biggest one was because of our friendship. If you didn’t like me back I would have lost you to that awkward tension. That and I—“ He paused, before closing his mouth and shaking his head.
“I knew—or I guess I know you liked Malfoy.” He said with a pang of sadness.
It’s the talk.
In the bleeding train compartment, with Albus Potter sleeping in the bench steps away from us, the talk.
“Fred,” I began, sighing.
“Hannah, you don’t have to apologize for your feelings,” He interrupted. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I mean, I have to admit I was a bit happy when Rosie started dating him; as much as I don’t like the guy because you do—“ he stopped for a second to let out an awkward chuckle at his own jealousy, “—it doesn’t look like he and Rose will breaking up any time soon; they seem to be happy. Plus the way you despised Delilah made me really happy.” He paused for another second to smirk at me. “I guess that’s why I took my chance when I did.”
I don’t know what made me say it. It fell out of my mouth in the worst case of word vomit since Al confessed his love for Sophie on the Gryffindor staircase.
“You think Rose and Scorpius are happy?”
It didn’t even come down to the fact that I had said it. It was the tone I used; almost in disgust at the word ‘happy’. Either way, I clearly gave my opinion and feelings about their relationship away to Fred.
“Err, I mean—“
“Hannah,” Fred interrupted, “What aren’t you telling me? If there’s something I should know about getting in— this— with you, tell me now.”
I’ve never heard his tone become so assertive in the five years he’s been my best friend. I looked up to him; he wouldn’t believe if I had said nothing. I dropped my glance back down to the floor as my actions this year fell on my shoulders. Feeling the weight of what I had been doing come crashing down in front of someone I cared so much about overwhelmed me to near tears. He continued to keep and unblinking gaze on me as I stared at my shoes.
“I’m an awful person,” I choked out after a few minutes. My vision blurred as those unforgiving tears swelled up in my line of sight. Looking up towards the ceiling, I begged with everything in me to not let even a single one spill over. I didn’t deserve his sympathy for something like this. What did me in was the rustling of wrappers, closely followed by a pair of arms pulling me into his chest.
“Please don’t cry,” He whispered, pressing a soft kiss into my temple. I shut my eyes as I felt the first drip of wetness cascade down my cheek.
If I lose my best friend over this I’ve got no one to blame but myself.
“Scorpius and I—“ was all I could manage out before a sob escaped my lips. I don’t think he even meant to, but Fred loosened his grip around me just enough to explain his feelings on my confession. “Fred please,” I whispered.
“The first day of school,” I sighed, fixing my eyes back on the floor of the compartment. Out of the corner of my blurry vision I saw him wince in a comprehensive way, realizing my emotional freak-outs through the school year had reasons. He dropped his arms down to his side in silence. Just as I was about to open my mouth he held up a finger to tell me not to talk. Shutting my mouth instantly, I waited for his next word.
“No, no! Not in almost a month. Fred I burnt his last letter, I—“ pausing, I took in a deep breath as I rubbed the tears out of my eyes. “I don’t want to keep getting strung along on false hopes; I want to be with you, to have something real.”
His face finally softened. “I meant what I said yesterday Hannah; to me you’ll always be perfect. I—“
“Shut up and snog her so I can go back to sleep!” Al suddenly groaned from across the compartment. To that Fred finally smiled, and brought his hand up to my cheek. After running his thumb under my eye and brushing away the last of my tears, he tucked a stray curl behind my ear. He started to move towards me and on instinct I did the same. Just as I shut my eyes to meet his lips with mine, I felt him drop his hand off my cheek and back away. Staying put, I peeked an eye open to see what his problem was.
“One second,” He said with a contemplative furrow of his eyebrows. He then brought both of his hands up to my mouth, and quite literally started to wipe it off. As I attempted to ask what he was doing, he added, “just need to get all those Malfoy germs off,” He chuckled, before dropping his hands off my face. “There we go!”
Before I had even a second to laugh at him, he put both of his hands on my cheeks and pulled me into the greatest kiss of my life.
A mere four seconds later (I counted), the door to our compartment flew open and a noise of a dying banshee filled the small area. As Al fell off the bench in surprise from being woken up, I suddenly had an arm wrap around me, pulling me towards Fred and into a face full of red hair. I sputtered in surprise to get the hair out of my mouth as Rose screamed, “Is this it!? Is this the moment!? Fred and Hannah are finally a couple!?”
“Bloody hell Rosie, stop screaming!” Fred called over her squealing as she finally let go of us from her death grip hug. “If this was the first moment, it would be forever remembered as ‘Hannah and Fred’s first kiss only to be interrupted four seconds later by his psychotic cousin.’” I bit my lip to stifle a smile when a little pink grew on his cheeks.
“I knew it! Hannah, back in fourth year you were so jealous of Delilah! And Freddie,” She moved over and pinched his cheeks, “Well you’ve just liked her for so long it—“
Scorpius finally made his step into the compartment and instantly wrapped his arm around Rose’s waist. Shooting me a quick look of shock and awe, he quickly covered it to an unreadable scowl before asking, “So then, when did it happen?”
The tone he used didn’t go unnoticed by anyone in the room. It was clear to Fred and I why he used such a revolting emphasis on the word ‘adorable’, but Rose, thankfully, took it a little differently. Seeing it as what would be the first ever attempt of sarcasm from Scorpius Malfoy, she simply laughed and playfully hit him on the chest.
“Christmas is going to be so fun this year!” She continued. “Mum wrote today letting me know Grandma Molly won’t be having a lunch this year, all she’ll have is dinner so everyone can make it! Hannah you’ll come, right?”
“Err, well I wasn’t invitmmmph“
“Yes, she’ll be there.” Fred chuckled as he put his hand over my mouth. “We’ll both be there after we visit her mum’s family, right sweetheart?”
I snorted at his use of the pet name after I watched him cringe saying it. Both of us had silently agreed he only said it to irritate Scorpius more, and he’d never use them again. I put a girly smile on for Rose I nodded happily, only sending her into another fit of squeals as she took Scorpius’ hand and dragged him out of our compartment.
After they shut the door, Fred started to speak. “I mean, if you don’t want to come I’ll unde—“
It was my turn to cut his uncertainty off with a kiss. I grinned against his lips as we heard Al groan from across the compartment; it was our turn to be happy.
“Mum you’re suffocating me.” I stated as my mother ran over and threw her arms around me.
“My baby is never going back to Hogwarts again. She’s going to live in the basement and let me dote on her.” My mum squealed as she refused to let go. I heard Fred snicker from behind me as he greeted my dad.
“Mum I can’t breathe.”
“For the love Marie, you’re going to suffocate our only child.” I heard my dad sigh from behind us.
“Mum my lungs are collapsing.” I gasped, finally forcing her to let go. I inhaled deeply as I was finally let free of her. “Err, mum? Dad? Can I have Fred come with us for Christmas afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa's, and then go to the Weasley’s for dinner?”
They both did that ‘parenting’ thing, where they shot eachother a look at the same time telling the other one to make the decision. I watched for a few seconds of very awkward silent arguing from the pair of them as I moved over next to Fred. In an attempt to get them to see reason, I grabbed his hand and intertwined his fingers with mine. It shut them up instantly, I will say; however it was only for a second before my mum let out a noise that made Rose’s scream sound like a whisper.
Fred and I both cringed as several families began to stare. Before my mum could rush over and crush both of us into another one of her hugs my dad put his arm firmly around her waist and held her still.
“What she means, is yes dear. Fred is more than welcome to come with us to Grandma and Grandpa’s,” My dad chuckled as he kissed my mum’s forehead. As mentally inept as my parents can be, they love eachother a lot and it always shows when they are together.
“Thanks daddy,” I smiled before I turned to Fred.
Cue the awkward goodbyes. What do I do!? Kiss him goodbye in front of my parents? And watch my dad bring on his fatherly wrath on the world, no thank you. Thankfully Fred seemed to be sharing the same sort of uneasy idea that my parents were watching; I watched as he started to fidget with his jumper while the pink flew up his cheeks. I looked back over to my parents and tried to send “Go away!” through telepathic messaging.
It didn’t work. In the end he settled on giving me a quick kiss on the cheek before he dropped my hand and left to find his family.
“That was pleasantly awkward!” My mum laughed. Right, I knew my sarcasm came from somewhere. I rolled my eyes at her as my dad picked up my trunk, before I walked in between them through the barrier to muggle Kings Cross.
We hurried off behind a corner so we could apparate home. I watched as both my parents smiled, before they took each other’s hands. With a soft pop, they dematerialized in front of me. I took a few breaths to calm my apprehension about apparation before I closed my eyes and put all of my focus on our house in Dorset. We lived in a small Wizarding community near Poole, relatively close to the Puddlemere stadium. After playing for so long it was only natural of my dad to find a home for his family to be as close to his work as possible. We are safe though; we have plenty of charms around our house so if reporters ever find out our address and come snooping, they simply realize they left something burning in the oven. My mum’s doing with that charm. I think that’s one of the reasons my dad loves her; she’s been very down to earth about his fame ever since the day they met.
After the awful feeling of being squeezed through a tube, I landed on the front step to our house. Instantly clutching my stomach, I started to moan before I grabbed our door handle. Another charm, the door handle would only open if it was from a hand of the Wood family.
The feeling faded quickly as I stepped into our house. All the smells of my mum’s holiday baking filled my nose and seemed to have a magical effect on curing my nausea. I was greeted by a pair of smiles from my parents as I stepped into the kitchen.
“How’s the team?” I grinned back to my dad as I took a seat at the table.
“Actually, I’ve got some news. Did you see the prophet a few weeks back about the game against Falmouth?”
“I know you guys won, but I didn’t catch the details,” I replied truthfully.
“We won, but hardly. Wadcock’s out for the season from Timbers’ bludger to the head.” He winced in remembrance, but continued. “Anyway, you know the Potter’s son, James, right?” I nodded, trying with everything in me to keep the color off my cheeks as I kept my comments to myself about James Potter. I don’t think my dad would appreciate a ‘you mean Harry Potter’s dazzling first born son?’ as commentary. “Well he’s been on our reserve team for two years now, so we’re training him in full time after the holiday.”
“I’m sure he was excited,” I smiled. I remembered back to the day James had been accepted to Puddlemere. I had nearly peed my pants when he ran into the Gryffindor locker rooms and hugged me, after announcing to everyone that my dad had picked him for Puddlemere’s reserve team.
My mum finally joined us at the table as the quidditch talk seemed to come to an end. She was a fan, but she had never played in school so she wasn’t as dedicated as my dad or myself. In an attempt to change the topic away from quidditch she turned to me and asked, “How has school been love? Do you have all your presents bought for your new boyfriend?”
I nearly suffocated as I quickly inhaled the bit of fudge I had just bitten into. Sputtering, I managed to down the chocolate before I coughed out, “Presents!? Mum I forgot to get Fred a gift!”
Worst girlfriend ever award, right here please.
She simply laughed to herself as she patted my back to get me breathing again. With a glance up to the clock she said, “We’ll go into Poole. Diagon Alley will be mad at this hour.”
“What about the tree?” I asked as I glanced into our living room. Free of Christmas spirit, the plain tree sat waiting for the boxes of decorations to adorn it.
“Sweetie we can do magic,” My mum pointed out. “Well make a quick trip into town and decorate it afterwards. What we need to worry about now is getting Mr. Weasley the perfect gift.”
“Do you need a man’s advice?” My dad offered hopefully.
“Nope, just a man’s paycheck!” My mum smirked back, holding out her hand expectedly. I started to laugh as my dad sighed in realization that he had been ditched for the night for mother-daughter shopping time.
“I’ll just stay here alone, by myself on Christmas Eve!” he called through the front door as me and my mum waved goodbye. I love my family.