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Chapter 3: Straight-Laced
For Shindig, who is quite a nice stalker.
The library was never a place I found myself frequenting, for various reasons. One of which was smell. It didn’t smell like new books or fresh parchment. It smelled like the Quidditch locker room mixed with the boys bathroom on the fourth floor. It was also full of books. And not just fun books. The library also had all of the boring books. Rows and rows and impossible rows of thick, hardcover books in navy and beige hues that I couldn’t tell the difference between. Gold embossing on the side. Come on.
I put in a petition fifth year for some comic books, but never heard back. Rude.
I also put in a petition to have a small branch of WWW in the back storage room of the library. Shockingly, that didn’t go over well either.
James went to the library quite often, at the urging of Ollie. She set them up at a little table in the corner, resting her legs on his lap as she studied for Potions or something equally as worthless. James read magazines and aimlessly flipped through books trying to find pictures. He got cranky when he didn’t succeed and then tried to seduce Ollie while she studied.
I had to head to the library on Friday, dangerously close to breaking the unspoken rule of never going into that room on the weekend. The smell hit my nose and I winced, fighting the urge to throw on Quidditch robes and beat a Bludger.
It wasn’t crowded. Was the library ever? There were a couple girls pouring over a large pile of books at a nearby table. Four other tables empty in the front.
The list Annie made me was hard to make out. Something about a Charms book. And Transfiguration. And then something scribbly with a heart dotting the i.
“Can I help you find something?”
Out of all of the places. Really?
My eyes moved to the circulation desk. Ryan Davies was leaning over it, chin resting delicately on her palm. Her hair was splayed out onto her shoulders, falling toward the counter, toward a thick book with a slip of paper saving the page a quarter of the way through.
“I should be okay,” I said, nodding. There were at least five thousand rows. Okay, maybe not that many. But there were a lot of books. A lot of rows. A lot of sections named after things I couldn’t say, let alone spell.
“Are you sure?” she asked, a little louder. The girls from the nearby table looked up. One snickered.
I looked back at the list. Annie’s handwriting wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Jane Austen book.
“I just need a couple things,” I grumbled, slouching over to the desk. I slid the paper across to her, my eyes on everything else around me. The counter. The books. The clicky quills.
“I’ll show you where they are.” Ryan glanced at the list for a moment before emerging from behind the counter. She was in her school uniform with her skirt shorter than most. It was barely grazing her thighs. She had a lopsided name-tag attached to her blouse. With a skeptical look, she led the way down the first of the aisles. Books went from the floor clear up way over my head.
Ryan paused by the window at the end of the aisle, grabbing a ladder. She placed the list on one of the shelves and took two steps up.
Two steps too many.
My eyes were on her. I wanted to look away. After all, we weren’t exactly mates. I didn’t know anything about her other than her family’s Quidditch history, that she was talented, and that she could chew up a bloke and spit him out. I didn’t really want to be that bloke.
Still, I couldn’t help but think about her. The softness of her skin. The way her lips tasted like whiskey.
I shook my head, fingers clutching the book shelf. Ryan was going through the rows of the books, tip of her pointer grazing the spines.
For the last six years, I had two classes a term with her. We never spoke to each other. We’d never peer-graded each other’s papers. We’d never been a part of ‘I bet we can re-enact a Muggle movie’ night in the Great Hall. I was dubbed the nice bloke that made everyone laugh. She was the sour girl who hated everyone, everything, and then some.
Not that she was always like that. When Ryan was on a broom, her eyes looked different. Hell, even her lips looked different. She was softer.
This summer was a cluster. I’d gone home at the end of sixth year with the main goal of helping Dad get the Hogsmeade branch and convincing him to renovate the current shop to make it ‘hip with the times.’ Okay, James and I didn’t use that term, but Dad was keen on the word ‘hip,’ so we let him go on about it.
Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly happen.
Dad’s still in a legal mess with the owner of Zonkos, I am no longer welcome there because of a few snarky comments I made, and Dad thinks my views for the current branch are too far-fetched. He likes things the way they are. He likes things the way him and Uncle Fred put them.
“Drop it, Freddo,” Dad said, late in the summer. He was at the kitchen table, reading the Prophet with a steaming mug of coffee next to him. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
“You didn’t want to talk about it yesterday,” I pressed. “Dad, the displays are from the nineties. You have got to update the shop. What’s your revenue this year? It’s down.”
“Don’t talk to me about figures. I know what I’m doing.” He flipped two pages forward. Dad always skipped the finance section.
“You knew what you were doing fifteen years ago,” I shot back. “Times are changing. Zonkos is changing with the times.”
“I’m not renovating it, Fred!” Dad cried, his fingers moving through his thick, red hair. He looked tired, the purple lines under his eyes more noticeable now than ever. “Drop it.”
Two hours later he had another episode. It isn’t how it sounds. He doesn’t have fits or attacks or anything. He just goes into his office, pours over some of his old books, and sort of loses it for a while. Mum said it’s been happening since just before I was born. Says it’s because he misses Uncle Fred.
Some days it’s worse than others. Some days he’ll come out an hour later with puffy eyes and pull a bottle of rum out of the cabinet under the sink. Other days it’ll be hours before he comes out and Mum will have to clean up shattered glass on the wood floor and shredded documents. He can’t control them. The most he can do is shut himself in his office.
I leaned against the kitchen counter, hearing what sounded like a frame get chucked into the wall. Yep. That was definitely glass.
“Let it go, Freddie,” Mum said as she paused to kiss me on the cheek. She was in a pair of jeans and a tank top, gardening gloves sticking out of her back pocket. “Let him be alone.”
“Why is it always like this?” I asked, irritated. “Nothing is ever going to change.”
“Relax.” Mum pressed her lips to one side. “It’s not in your control.”
“Never bloody is,” I mumbled and shoved my way out the back door.
The pub was dark when I arrived. It was nearly full since the wizarding world was known for its day-drinking. Most of the inhabitants were middle-aged men with scruffy beards and pints, but there were a couple good-looking ladies at a table by the grimy window and a bloke my age at the bar. I took a seat at the counter, ordered a firewhiskey, and proceeded to drink.
Ryan arrived thirty minutes later and sat down beside me, cigarette between her lips. She didn’t acknowledge me, only ordered a shot of tequila, a basket of chips, and a small water. Her brown eyes stayed on her food.
“You should dip those in the tequila,” I said after ordering a third drink. I was a little wobbly, but overall not too bad.
Ryan looked over and stabbed her cigarette out in the ashtray between us. Then she took a chip between her fingers, dipped it into the shot, and tossed it into her mouth.
“So?” I pressed.
“Not bad,” she said, her alto voice quiet compared to the shrieking girls at the table by the window. “You work at your old man’s shop?”
“Mostly cash register,” I said, shrugging. I tried to keep the bitterness out of my voice.
“Thrilling.” Ryan dipped another and ate it. “I’m sure you could get a line of tequila chips going.”
“Absolute brilliance,” I agreed, taking another long drink.
“Smoke?” she asked, holding out the pack. I shook my head. “Ah, you’re one of those.”
“The hell does that mean?”
Ryan rolled her eyes and brushed a dark layer of hair away from her face. “Straight-laced, Weasley.”
“Okay, because I don’t smoke I’m straight-laced?” I rolled my eyes. “You’re full of it. I’m sure Albus loves you smoking. Your stamina must be fantastic.”
“Like it’s your business.”
“You judge me, I’ll judge you right back, sweetheart.” I wasn’t sure where the bite in my voice was coming from. Probably the drink.
“Call me sweetheart again,” she warned.
“Oh, you’re one of those,” I echoed.
“I will punch you right in the face.”
“And you will get kicked out of this pub before you can finish your tequila chips,” I said in a sing-song voice, my eyes meeting hers. She held my gaze, but it was obvious she couldn’t call my bluff. “That’s what I thought.”
Then Ryan socked me right in the arm.
She smirked and ordered a second shot of tequila, throwing it back. “Sorry, sweetheart,” she cooed. “I slipped.”
I wish I could remember the rest of what happened. At one point we lined up five empty shot-glasses in front of us and put them on our fingers as fake nails. It was strange. I don’t remember much of the conversation. There was laughter. Some large bloke came over asking for a smoke and Ryan pointed him in the direction of a store. Her voice was cold. Her voice was always cold, for some reason.
I do, however, remember all of what happened in that bathroom stall.
I even remember the owl addresses scribbled into the wall in pink and purple and yellow. Who writes in yellow?
I helped her with the zipper on the back of her dress. I kissed her once. Twice. Four times. Six times before she wiggled away and out of the bathroom.
I lost my dinner moments later, including all of the tequila chips, which I had to admit was a piss poor idea and would not be implemented into WWW any time soon.
“Weasley,” Ryan barked, shoving two books into my chest. “Pay attention.”
I grabbed them, shaking my head. “Sorry,” I muttered, eyes moving around to see if anyone was watching. It was the library. Who would be watching? “Yeah, thanks. Sorry.”
“You still need a couple more. C’mon.” Ryan didn’t wait. She started walking back down the aisle and turned right, heading toward where the plush chairs were. That was the only good part of the library.
I didn’t want to be thinking about her. I didn’t need to be. What happened over the summer was a random encounter fueled with alcohol, attraction, and the fact that I have really good moves. Well, I think I do.
Alessandra may doubt that. Bloody woman.
I fought to keep my eyes on the books. Books were great. Right? I liked books.
I didn’t like books. I can’t even lie in my mind.
How about a new product that stores replenishing sweets inside of important-looking books? Oh, or ones you can change the title to depending on the course?
“Here.” Ryan shoved a third book in my hand. “That’s your Charms one. That one’s due back two days before the others. It’s popular.”
“Why would Charms be popular?” I asked.
“Close your mouth when you speak,” Ryan replied sweetly and disappeared down another aisle.
I shook my head, trying to keep it clear. “You know, I don’t need this fourth book. It’s a waste, really.”
Ryan turned, her brow arching. “Why are you trying to bail?”
“Just don’t need it. I like odd numbers anyway. Can’t be seen carrying around an even number of books. Thats for Ra--” I paused. “That’s what Slytherins do.”
“Didn’t know Slytherins touched books without combusting,” Ryan noted, leaning against a shelf. My eyes traveled from hers all the way down her torso.
“See you in class. Tell French I send my love.” I turned and damn near bloody rushed out of the library, trying not to drop the books as I shoved past a pair of Hufflepuffs.
I still don’t buy Neville’s teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts now. Couldn’t bloody defend himself against a flobberworm. You sure you got that right? Or did you get drunk and stumble into the wrong class? I wouldn’t doubt it between you, James, and a pint of firewhiskey. Don’t worry, I won’t tell your mum.
Had court this morning with the Zonkos bastards. Went miserable, as you can assume. In one of those old courtrooms in the ministry. You know they’re trying to update them? Changed the floor to tile. It’s ugly. Let’s never change the shop floors to tile. What a sodding mess.
It didn’t go well. Zonkos tots insist I don’t have the interest of the village at heart. Someone tell me what the village interest is, will they? Interest is money. That’s what it should be. They’re hanging on by a thread right now. They have zero tourism. They have money from the locals and from the kids on Hogsmeade weekends. You think that’s enough to fund an entire village? It’s not. They need tourism dollars. And there is only one WWW in London where people come from all over England.
Why not another in Scotland? TOURISM, Freddo. They just don’t understand.
We’ll figure it out. I have confidence. Haven’t heard back from whats-his-face who owns the shop. Or her? Was it an old lady or an old man? The hair made it a toss-up.
Get back to me on that.
How’s school? How’s James and Ollie? Still appropriately fawning over each other or is the three-year honeymoon phase finally over? Tell James that stunt he pulled sneaking into the basement to snuggle Ollie over the summer was not appreciated. Though it was in the sense that we went down there and found you and Annie a bloody kilometer apart.
You’re allowed to touch girls, Freddo. They don’t bite.
Well, not all of them anyway.
Still on about Alessandra? She was a bitch. Let it go.
Take Annie for a milkshake or something. She could use a good snog.
Keep me posted on life. I heard from Roxanne. She says this year is going ‘swimmingly.’ I also have no idea who taught her that word, but I’m going to have to sit them down and tell them to stop teaching my daughter to speak like a twat. You with me? You hold his hands. I’ll do the smacking. Unless he’s underage, then the other way around and I’ll deny everything.
Keep your head up, Freddo.
Dad and I had a complicated relationship.
It wasn’t complicated in the sense that we fought or anything. No, we got along swimmingly, as Rox would say. We got along for as long as I could remember. He used to put me on his shoulders and parade through the back garden shouting about dinosaurs and stomping on weeds. He read me stories on the couch. Tucked me in at night. Told me to never trust anyone who liked the Magpies.
When I was five, he started telling me stories about his years at Hogwarts. I remember holding my palm over my mouth, hardly able to believe my own dad got up to that much mischief. He told me about the sneaking off, the map, the hidden passageways. He told me about everything.
He was the protagonist and Uncle Fred was the wing-man.
I listened intently to every word and over the years realized there was a spark in his eyes when he told me those stories. He got so excited over the battles and the Quidditch and even the girls. I knew right away I wanted to be just like him. Hell, that was why I wanted to be a Beater to begin with. But the moment he finished the story, the light in his eyes was gone.
He would frown sadly, tuck in the blankets, and kiss the top of my head.
“Good night, Fred,” he said softly. He flipped off the light and left.
I knew in that moment, he wasn’t talking to me.
“Remind me again what I’m doing here?” Annie looked over, bored expression on her face.
“You’re reading your handwriting.” I pointed to the list and glanced around the library, hoping no one was watching.
“How did you get the first few books?”
“Library clerk.” Shrug.
“And you thought I would be better than a library clerk the second time around?” Annie asked, rolling her eyes. “Come on, then.” She grabbed my arm and tugged me toward the shelves. “You’re hopeless.”
“I’m hopeful,” I corrected, voice hushed because I had a pretty good idea who was behind the counter. “That you will find me the correct book and I can study like a Ravenclaw.”
“All you and James do is stereotype.”
“You mean you’re not going to put a coat over a puddle for me?” I gasped. “Treason!”
“Shh!” She nudged my shoulder. “I’m just saying not all Ravenclaws study.”
“I’m pretty sure you know this.” Annie rolled her eyes and turned into a different section, focusing on the authors or titles or whatever she had written with her chicken scratch. “How’s Quidditch?”
“Quidditch-y,” I replied, shrugging.
“And classes?” she prompted.
Another nudge. “Here.” Annie pulled a slender green book off the shelf. “Sure it isn’t too Slytherin for you?”
“Slytherins can’t read,” I replied, shooting her a wink. Her cheeks colored. “Do you like milkshakes?”
She glanced around and then back at me. “Why? Who doesn’t like milkshakes?”
“We should go out for milkshakes.”
Her cheeks darkened. I had no idea why, considering I was just asking about milkshakes. “Erm, okay,” she replied in a stuttery voice. “We can go out for milkshakes.”
The library fell quiet. Not that it was loud, but there were some whispers and page-rustling. Annie leaned against the opposite shelf, weight on one leg, fingers in her pockets.
“Tonight?” I asked, trying to think like James.
“Sure. Tonight sounds lovely.”
“I’m pretty sure before you ask a girl on a date, you should know your clean-clothes situation,” James said, kicking at his pillow. He was sprawled out on his bed, head on his hands teenage-book-cover-style. “Which is, right now, non-existent.”
“It’s not a date,” I said, running my fingers through my hair. “It’s a milkshake.”
“It’s a date,” he said firmly. “Now wear something nice.”
“It’s a milkshake.” I threw my pillow at him. “Seriously, James. It’s not a date.”
“She told Ollie it’s a date.”
My eyes flew over. “What?”
James rolled onto his side, dark hair spilling onto the sheets. He looked positively gleeful to be holding onto this. “Yup,” he said. “Also, we should get a pet.”
“Back up!” I cried, falling onto the bed. “What did she tell Ollie?”
My mind was racing. I asked her for a milkshake because Dad suggested it. Because he thought Annie could use a good snog. Not by him of course. I didn’t mean that it was a date.
Sure, Annie was a great girl.
I hadn’t really thought of her like that before.
Heck, I spent most of my years thinking her name was Anastasia or Anlilian or something weird.
And now I was going on a date with her.
Think. Think. Think.
Dates. Required wardrobe. Tie? Sounded mandatory.
But for a milkshake joint? Godric.
“Told Ollie that she’s going on a date with you tonight,” James explained with a shit-eating grin on his face. “And asked if she could borrow some eyeliner, which I’ll never begin to understand. Ollie looks perfectly beautiful without eyeliner.”
“Sap,” I muttered.
“She does!” he protested. “I like her best in the morning.”
“Can we get back to me please?” I said, voice trailing into a whine as I fell back into the pillows. “I didn’t mean for this to be a date.”
“Just wanted a quick snog with my girl’s best friend?” James asked, laughing. “No such luck. Now you’ll have to propose. Do you need help ring shopping? I can help you. I know what a princess cut is and the pear one. After that you’re on your own.”
“I hate everything about you,” I grumbled.
“Do you not want to go on a date with her?” James propped himself up on his elbows, checking the door again to make sure we were alone.
“I just never thought about it. Annie’s always been sweet and my friend … “
“You think she’s attractive?”
“Of course,” I said quickly. “She’s stunningly beautiful. I love it when she blushes. It makes me want to hug her.”
“What about kiss her?” James pressed. “Have you ever thought about it?”
“Not really.” I shrugged, closing my eyes. I imagined pushing a strand of hair behind Annie’s ear and bringing my lips to hers.
“You want to!” James cried.
“What?” I looked over, fingers straightening my sheet.
“You just bit the fuck out of your lip,” James said, now bouncing on his own bed. “Freddie and Annie sitting on a broom, k-i-s-s-i-OW! That’s my head.”
He was right, though. My lip was sore and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. Kissing Annie. Brushing my thumb along her cheek. Her skin was always soft. She was always nice. Why hadn’t I wanted to kiss her before? Alessandra? I wasn’t sure.
But now it was definitely in my head.
“Need some ice for that blush?” James teased and got another pillow to the face.
I put my fingers to my cheek. It was on fire. Oh, hell.
“Need to borrow some clothes?”
“Yes,” I grumbled, hoisting myself off the bed and walking toward his wardrobe. I glanced at the inside of the doors. “Seriously, James?”
“What? They’re well-written?”
I tore one of the love-letters off the wood. “You keep Ollie’s love notes?”
“Don’t read that,” he said. “It’s personal.”
“You are not a Weasley,” I said, eyes skimming it. But then it got too sappy and disgusting so I taped it back to the inside of the wardrobe. “Does Ollie know you keep them?”
“No,” James said. It was his turn to blush. “Shut up. You have a sodding milkshake date, Freddie.”
Annie’s eyes found mine. It was easy to look her in the eyes, considering her face was, once again, on fire. A few people were looking. Rose was snickering from beside the fire. Clearly James had blabbed to everyone in the family that I was back in the dating scene.
When I was seeing Alessandra, they made it the topic of conversation at every meal. James offered to start up a tabloid, which everyone tossed money into before we broke up. My relatives were the best. Really. The best. Even Louis joined in, but that was only because he was in the ‘I want to be James when I grow up’ phase.
He’s still in that phase.
He messes up his blond tresses on a daily basis. Twat.
“Strawberry,” I blurted.
“What?” Annie said, looking startled.
“That’s my favorite milkshake.” I swallowed hard, keeping my attention on her eyes. That was a good place to look. Especially after James brought up snogging her again just before I went downstairs. I wished he wouldn’t do that.
“Oh,” Annie said. “I like chocolate.”
“Right.” I ruffled my hair, even after James told me not to. I could see Ollie at the top of the stairs, stifling snickers behind her hand. “Should we go?”
“I’d like that.” Annie fumbled a bit with her bag and started toward the portrait hole.
I took the moment to admire what she was wearing. I decided to nix the tie idea and had pulled on a striped collared shirt and khaki trousers. She, however, ventured for a green cotton dress with a conservative neckline. It went just below her knees, exposing her legs to the sparkly green flats she wore.
Girls always managed to upstage blokes, and I’d never complain.
I never understood why they got all uppity about needing makeup and false eyelashes and those things that suck in everything to make them look skinny.
I thought Annie was just as pretty in that dress as she was earlier in the library.
“You look nice,” I managed to get out once we were in the hall.
“Thanks.” Annie pushed a piece of hair behind her ear. “You look handsome.”
Why was this so awkward? Because of the title? Date?
I hate awkward. It’s the worst. I was the opposite of awkward.
Supposed to be, anyway.
“Look,” Annie said suddenly, stopping in the middle of the corridor. Her steps echoed for a moment before stopping. “I don’t want this to be weird. Why is this weird?”
“James said you told Ollie it was a date,” I said.
“Ollie said it was a date,” Annie said, sighing. She groaned. “She was teasing me about it. I asked to use her eyeliner. She told me I was going on a date. I told her I was going with you for a milkshake.”
“So you don’t think it’s a date?” I looked at our attire.
“I don’t know.” Annie shrugged. “It doesn’t have to be.”
“Do you want it to be?”
She shot me a look. “I don’t know why I have to answer all of the questions,” she said. “Why don’t you answer one? Do you want it to be?”
I shrugged and started walking back down the hall. She followed shortly after. All I could think about was the gloss on her lips. It was a sort of coral. The color of an entire line of WWW candy I helped Dad stock over the summer. It was ingrained in my brain. Something I couldn’t forget. And it was on her lips. Glossy. Shiny.
And I wanted to kiss it off of her.
“You’re known for never giving me a straight answer, Freddie,” she said, grabbing my arm.
“I don’t know,” I said. I could feel the back of my neck warming. “I feel cornered.”
“Why don’t you just answer honestly?”
“Because it always backfires.”
“I’m not Alessandra.” Annie’s eyes narrowed and she pulled me to a stop.
“Can we not talk about her?” I asked. “Fine. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a date. It’s a milkshake. We’re dressed nice. Milkshakes are too complicated.”
“I’m not complicated.” Annie’s fingers moved into my hand, lacing with my own.
I shuffled my feet. “I thought about kissing you today.”
Her teeth tugged at her bottom lip. My eyes moved there immediately. “Did you?”
“Yeah.” I swallowed a couple times in the silence. The lip gloss was still there.
“So why don’t you?”
“Why don’t I what?”
“Why don’t you kiss me?” Annie asked softly. Even the portraits had fallen silent.
“Because this is a date,” I replied nervously. “And when you’re on a date, you don’t kiss a girl before it starts. That’s how Slytherins do things.”
Annie’s lips tilted into a smile as she started walking again. “I think they just shag before the date,” she teased, bumping my hip with hers. “I’ve changed my mind, by the way. I want vanilla.”
“Have whatever you like. It’s on me.”
She nudged my hip again. “Such a Gryffindor, Freddie.”
“I’ve got the bed hangings to prove it.”
“DID YOU KISS HER?”
“James, shut up.” I pulled the shirt over my head and tossed it onto his wardrobe, the sleeve getting stuck on a frame. “You’re going to wake everyone.”
“Who cares?” he said, scooting toward the side of the bed. “Did you snog her? How was it? Like in your little imaginary world? Ollie said she bets you snogged.”
“Do you talk to anyone other than Ollie?”
“Sure. I talk to you. Quit changing the subject.”
I rubbed the back of my neck and kicked off my shoes, trying to be quiet since the hangings for the other three beds were closed. It was late. “Yes,” I said after a while of James practically panting. “I kissed her.”
“Was it good?”
I nodded and James whooped.
“So why’re you back so late?”
“Took a nightly stroll.”
“Kiss her again?”
“Yeah.” I chuckled a little, face warm.
We ended up closing down the milkshake place around nine, after a pair of shakes each. Two strawberries for me. A vanilla and then a chocolate for her. We cheersed with cherries. After we left, I put an arm around her shoulders and we took a walk around the lake. We sat on the docks for a couple hours and she asked me all about the shop and my parents and any recent developments with Roxy (minimal). Then I kissed her. Several times there.
Again in the Entrance Hall.
Once more outside of the portrait hole.
It was nice. And just like I thought it would be.
“Going to go on another date?”
I shrugged. “Probably,” I said, pulling off my pants and tugging on some shorts. “I had a good time.”
“Double date!” cried James.
I shot him a look. “Can I at least sleep on it?” I asked.
“Uh, no,” James said like it was obvious. “I stayed up reading waiting.”
“Reading?” My brow raised as I moved under the covers. “What’re you, a Ravenclaw now?”
“You think I’d fit in with my brother?” James asked with a cheeky smile. He pulled out his book and put on a serious expression. “The answer to the equation of true love is the symbol of pie added to a gazillion.”
“I’ll get the blue and gray.”
A/N: Happy Summer! I am going to (attempt) Camp NaNoWriMo in June so if the updates are less frequent, that's why. Though I'm going to try and get ahead of myself before then ...
I hope you liked the chapter! Any favorite quotes?