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Chapter 3: I hate my life.
I hate my life.
I hate the fact that more often than not, I wind up waking up with the strong stench of cologne and alcohol burning in my nostrils, the feel of someone else’s bed beneath my body, and no fucking idea where I am. I hate that every time this happens, I have a throbbing headache, a stomach that’s rolling with sickness, and a world that’s spinning even though my eyes are closed. And I hate the fact that I have absolutely no clue what’s happened.
But most of all, I hate it when I wake up in a strange place wearing nothing but a man’s t-shirt, roll over, and see Louis Fucking Weasley sleeping next to me.
Sweet Merlin, what is wrong with me? I mean, really. Really, Ava. You had to sleep with him, didn’t you? You knew what you were doing, so don’t even give me that shit about “being under the influence.” You knew perfectly well that if you kept drinking shots at that rate you were eventually going to wind up in his bed.
I fucking hate my life.
Why can I never make good decisions? Why can I never be smart about things? Why can’t I ever keep myself under control when I’m drunk? And why - why, for the love of God - do I have to go home with whatever bloke buys me shots at the bar?
I’m such a fucking idiot.
Squinting up into the morning sunlight streaming through the windows, I vaguely make out the layout of the room. A large chest of drawers across from the bed, a desk tucked into the corner, a huge closet to my right – probably a fucking walk in – and two pristine windows on the left hand wall. It’s a nice flat, clearly better than what anyone with a waiter’s salary can afford. Fucking rich boy prissy French arsehole -
The words are barely more than a vibration through the mattress, so deep and low that they hardly register in my ears. To be honest, I can’t even be sure if I actually heard them or not. It looks as if Louis is still sleeping; his eyes are shut, and I don’t think I saw his lips move at all.
I nod dumbly, and a flop of brown hair falls over the side of my face. But unfortunately for me, Louis can’t see anything with his eyes shut. So, in response to my non-response, he slowly flutters his eyelids open, and a pair of deep blue eyes stare at me contentedly.
Oh God. Blue eyes. Really blue eyes.
It’s like a trigger’s gone off in my brain, and suddenly everything from last night flashes to the front of my mind. Louis’s really blue eyes. My giggling. His questions. My actually enjoying his company. The never-ending stream of shots. Stumbling out the door. Everything.
I jerk out of my internal film of memories as something lightly brushes across my face. Blinking twice, I slowly focus my eyes on the large hand gently pushing the lock of hair out of my eyes and behind my ear.
And that’s when I really start to freak out.
Because compared to before - you know, waking up in Louis Fucking Weasley’s bed - this is pretty much a disaster of major proportions. This is... bad. Very, very bad. Toxic, even.
And you want to know why?
It’s because there are little tiny butterflies wiggling out of their cocoons in my stomach. They’re squirming and trying to get their wings off the ground, but I’m not going to let them because this cannot be happening. On top of everything else, on top of my pounding head and ringing ears and generally hung over self, I am not allowing this to happen too.
But the feeling won’t go away, no matter how hard I try. It simply mixes in with the nausea rocking my body, and soon the two sensations are joined so completely that I really can’t tell one from the other.
This can’t be happening. Not to me. Not with him. I won’t allow myself to feel something for him besides hate. I can’t fancy him. I just can’t. Not after the last mess I was in. Not after I’ve worked so hard to get to the place I am now. I’m not going back there again.
His hand hasn’t left my face. It’s still there, gently cupping itself against my cheek, thumb skimming along the surface of my skin, leaving me all shivery and just a general mess of confusion. Which might have something to do with the alcohol, but still.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen, you know.”
And it’s only as his really, really blue eyes are scanning worriedly across my face that I realise I haven’t torn my gaze away from his, and this whole time I’ve been staring straight into his eyes like a right creeper.
“Really. I just - I wanted to get to know you, Ava. And I’m sorry that my ice breaker game went on too long and had us drink too much and -”
But then he cuts off abruptly, a slight crease forming between his eyebrows as he continues to stare anxiously.
And the fucking butterflies won’t go away.
“I didn’t mean to. Honest.”
I don’t care about that, you stupid git. I care about the fact that I might care about you - so if you want to be sorry for something, be sorry for that.
Come on, Ava. Get yourself out of this. He doesn’t mean anything to you, and you don’t mean anything to him. It was just a drunken hook up. You’ve done it before. He’s an arse that took advantage of you. That’s it. Nothing more.
But it just... won’t stop. The stupid fucking butterflies and the stupid fucking swirling in my head that’s mixing in with the pounding and the thumping and the pain, but I don’t think the pain is just in my head anymore because I think it’s in my heart now, too.
He’s just like Ian. Don’t forget that.
You learnt your lesson the hard way, Ava. They’re all the same. His kind and your kind don’t mix. He’s rich. You’re not. You don’t belong in the same side of the city, let alone the same bedroom. Unless you’re cleaning it for him.
Don’t forget about Ian.
You don’t belong with him.
And once more I’m jerked out of my thoughts by Louis, but this time it’s not by his hand touching my face, it’s by his lips touching mine. He’s kissing me - legitimately kissing me - sweetly, I might add - seemingly without a care in the world. As if this is normal. As if this is okay.
But it’s not okay, and I know that. And even though I want to kiss him - even though I want to run my fingers up his bare chest and through his unbelievably soft hair - shit, what am I doing?
Stop it, Ava. So you talked to him a lot. So he actually seems to care about what you say to him. So he asks you questions about yourself. So you’re attracted to him. It doesn’t fucking matter.
And if you can’t remember that then you really are an imbecile. Don’t forget about Ian. Don’t forget the promise you made yourself.
“Fuck,” I whisper hysterically, shoving my hands against his chest and scrambling out of the bed. I hit the floor with a crash and jump to my feet, one hand instantly flying to my hair and smoothing it while the other tugs his shirt down lower on my body.
Louis stares up at me from the bed, apparently dazed, eyes wide with confusion and questions. But I can’t answer him because I just have to get out of here - fuck, I’ve screwed up - you don’t fancy him, Ava - fuck, my stomach -
And then I’m grabbing at my clothes that are scattered across the floor, spinning around desperately in panic and pain and I just can’t do this anymore. So I crash through the bedroom door and sprint around his flat wildly, looking for a way out, but shit I think I’m going to be sick because my stomach is one cosmic mess of alcohol and no food.
Fuck, I’m going to throw up.
Somehow I manage to stumble into his bathroom - I just barely saw the glint of a porcelain toilet through a crack in the door - and I slam down on the floor, heaving up what little substance is left in my stomach.
God, why am I so stupid?
I knew I was hung over, I knew that my stomach was upset, and yet I still tilted and whirled and bloody tumbled around his flat in a mad rush to get out. And look where it got me. Not out, but in his bathroom, crouched on the floor, vomiting.
My hair swings forward from behind my ears as I lean over the toilet, and I do my best to brush it back, but that’s kind of hard to do when you’re clutching on to anything you can for dear life. And it turns out that I don’t need to, anyway, because within seconds another pair of hands is doing that for me, gently pulling my hair back so it doesn’t get caught up in my sickness.
After no more than a minute, I’m done, but I don’t make any motion to move. Instead I just sit there, shaking and shivering and feeling the hands that are lightly massaging my shoulders. And before I can even think about what I’m doing, I’m collapsing back onto him, falling into exhaustion.
“I knew you weren’t a vodka girl,” Louis murmurs.
This needs to stop. This isn’t right.
Because now all I can think about is Ian. Ian and his really blue eyes, but not quite as blue as the ones Louis has. Ian and the way he made me feel like there was nothing really all that different between us, even though the rest of the world said otherwise. Ian and his amazing self who didn’t care what his parents thought of me or of us. Ian and the way he loved me.
Loved, Ava. Past tense.
Why is this happening? I don’t want this. I don’t want to go through that same heartbreak again. His kind and my kind don’t mix. It’s a simple fact of nature.
So then why am I sitting here, in his fancy arse bathroom, cradled in his arms? And why am I not getting away from him and why can I only think about how much he reminds me of Ian?
Shit. Is that why I’m feeling something for him? Because he reminds me of Ian?
Come on, Ava. You’re smarter than that. Besides, that’s completely illogical. You don’t want someone like Ian again. That fucked you up, and you’re not doing it again. You can’t handle doing that again. So get off your arse and go home to your horrendous flat with its freakish temperature system, ugly walls, and general hideousness. Go back to where you belong.
So, with as much composure as I can muster, I get to my feet and walk out of the bathroom, leaving Louis sitting there on the floor. As soon as I shut the door, I start to dress, pulling off his t-shirt and pulling on my own clothes.
I hear the door to the bathroom open and shut behind me, but I don’t bother to turn and look at him. His hand presses against my shoulder and he tries to spin me around, but I’m not having it. My feet are pounding towards the door to the outside world, sprinting away from him and his money and his status and everything that I’ll never be.
“Ava!” His shout echoes around the flat, ringing and pounding through my hung over head. “Ava, stop!”
But I don’t stop, and my hand grabs for the door.
“Fuck - Ava, come on -”
All I can feel are my feet hammering down the stairs; the vibrations pulse through everything while his building blurs together in a haze. My eyes burn with tears as I shove out of the lobby door and stumble into the blinding sunshine of a summer’s day. I rip at them angrily with the heels of my palm as I glance around, trying to figure out where I am. With one quick look, though, I can easily tell that I’m in an upper class neighbourhood in the southern end of the city. I’ve been here once before - with Ian.
And that’s what really sets me off. That’s what makes the tears slip faster and harder down my cheeks, and that’s what makes my feet fly over the pavement as I pound down the sidewalk, blindly making my way home.
I’m so stupid. So stupid to do this, so stupid to associate with him, so stupid to get drunk – so, so stupid. This is just wrong. All of this is wrong. I shouldn’t be in this part of the city. I don’t belong here, and everyone knows it. I can feel the way their eyes condescendingly beam disapproval at me. I don’t fit in; it’s so painfully obvious.
Louis’s voice ripples down the sidewalk towards me, but it’s distorted by distance. That doesn’t matter, though. He’s following me, and he’s clearly not going to be deterred by the fact that I ran crying out of his flat.
What a fucking gentleman.
My heart pounds, my chest heaves, my eyes burn, my head throbs, yet still I run. But I know that I’m not running away from Louis. Not really. In reality, I’m running away from the past. In reality, I’m running away from Ian.
By the time I make it to my building, I feel as if I’m about to collapse. I can’t breathe; every part of me aches. Maybe it’s from the running, maybe it’s from the crying, maybe it’s from both. But all that matters is I’m back where I belong, in the shitty half of the city.
As I sprint up the stairs, my hand finds its way to my pocket, digging through it for the key to my flat. The smooth metal makes contact with my skin and I pull it out triumphantly before attempting to jam it into the lock on my door. My fingers shake, and the key fumbles around the outside of the lock before I can finally get it in properly.
And it’s not a moment too soon, for just as I swing open the door, Louis comes pounding up the staircase, face flushed and blonde hair flopping haphazardly over his eyes. Our gazes meet just for a second, but before he can protest, I dart into my flat and slam the door, locking it behind me.
There’s the sound of a palm beating on the door, and Louis’s muffled voice rings in my ears. “Ava, come on. I’m sorry. Please, just open the door –”
“Go away,” I hiss at him, but he doesn’t seem to care.
“I’m not leaving until you open the door. I’ll stay here all day if I have to.”
“Fuck off, Weasley.”
But the rest of his sentence is cut off as I walk away from the door and head straight for my bedroom. Through the blurry lens of my vision, I tear open one of my drawers and rip out the clothes in a delirious frenzy. The garments go spewing everywhere, but I don’t care. What I’m looking for is at the bottom of the drawer, carefully hidden away under layer upon layer of shirts.
Gingerly, I pick up the leather binder and pad back into the living room, taking care not to trip over one of the many clothing items now decorating the floor. I take a seat on my frayed and patched couch, tucking my knees up to my chest as I do so, and flip open the binder.
And immediately I wish I hadn’t.
The leather binder isn’t just a binder – it’s a photo album. A photo album that I haven’t looked at in nearly eight months, with pictures of a bloke I haven’t seen for just as long. A bloke that I’m still in love with.
And despite my aching head and churning stomach, I sit on the couch for the next two hours, just flipping through each of the photographs. Watching as the moments flicker between the pages. Feeling the joy of each memory and the pain of reality crashing back down. Gasping as the tears fall harder with every page.
The binder shuts with a thud as the last page is completed, and I feel it slowly slip out of my fingers and drop to the floor. In a daze, I get to my feet and walk to the door, where it’s been quiet for quite some time. The hallway looks clear, judging from the view from my peephole, so I figure it’s safe to assume that Louis’s given up and gone back to his rich boy flat.
I’ll wait here all day if I have to. Ha. Yeah. Sure. You’re so much different than all the others, aren’t you? Like you weren’t going to throw me out of your place in a few minutes anyway. You never wanted me to stick around. I guess I should consider it an honour that I was even allowed to spend the night.
Let’s be honest here – even the nicest blokes are bound to kick you to the curb as soon as they can. Even Matt did that. Matt.
I should’ve known better. It’s what every guy wants, innit? No matter what they say, it’s all they want in the end. I shouldn’t have let myself be so easily deluded.
I didn’t bring you here to get you drunk and hope I get lucky. I want to get to know you, Ava.
Bullshit. Bull fucking shit.
Now I can see how stupid I really was. And what was that shit about having feelings for him? Yeah, no. I got him confused with Ian. That’s all. Nothing more.
Maybe I would feel differently if I had actually wanted to. Hell, maybe I would have even said yes if he had been honest about his intentions. I don’t care that I hooked up with him; God knows I’ve done that enough times. No, I care that he lied about it.
Bloody hell, my head hurts. I need some fucking aspirin or something. How much did I drink last night, anyway? I remember up to the sixth shot – or maybe it was the seventh. Eighth? I dunno. I think I lost track after that.
I JUST WANT SOME FUCKING ASPIRIN.
I should have raided Louis’s bathroom cabinets; I bet he’s got some fancy arse stuff in there. Shit. That reminds me – I don’t have any aspirin. I used the last of it two weeks ago. I remember thinking I would pick some up at the store, but I never did…
Fucking stupid arse – I need aspirin. Now. My head is completely shattered. Well, I guess to the store it is.
God dammit, I hate hung over shopping trips. People are too bloody cheerful. It’s like, can you not see that I had to take a walk of shame this morning and that my head is about to split open and that your fucking chatter is not making me feel better? Honestly. Just shut the fuck up; I don’t want to talk to you.
I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND.
Aspirin, right. Get back on track, Ava.
My hand grips the doorknob tightly and I shove open the door, cringing at the loud creaking noise it always makes when I open it from the inside. I step out into the hall and shut it gently, careful not to disturb my head any more than necessary.
“Ava,” someone says softly, and I whip around in surprise, only to find Louis standing there. He must have been sitting against one of the walls in the area outside of my peephole’s field of vision or something – I don’t know.
In a flash, I’m pushing open my door again, darting inside, and shutting the door, but something stops it from closing completely. A foot stuck in the doorway. A foot wearing what I know all too well to be a very expensive shoe.
“Ava, come on, just talk to me –”
“I thought I told you to fuck off, Weasley,” I growl as I throw my whole body against the door, trying to get it to shut. But unfortunately, my body weight is not enough to counter his foot, and soon he’s got his hand wrapping around the edge of the door, prising it open farther.
“I’m sorry –”
“Yeah, I’m sure you are. You got what you wanted so just fuck off.”
“Not until we talk about this –”
“There’s nothing to fucking talk about, Louis!” I exclaim, finally giving up the battle and flinging the door open. We stand there, facing each other, both wincing at the sound of the door slamming back into the wall.
There’s a long pause as we both survey each other warily. God, Louis looks like a mess. His hair is completely fucked up – which probably had something to do with me, come to think of it – his clothes are rumpled, most likely because he threw them on from off the floor before he came running over here, and his eyes are totally bloodshot.
And yet he’s still here.
“Listen, Ava,” he starts slowly, and I can’t keep from rolling my eyes. “I really didn’t mean to –”
“Oh – oh. You didn’t mean to. Ha. That’s funny, Louis. That’s really funny. So you just took me to a bar and paid for all my shots because you absolutely weren’t planning on shagging me. Yeah. That’s the total truth.”
“Why don’t you believe –”
“Why should I?” I yell at him, despite my aching skull and swirling senses. “Why should I fucking believe that you’re different? Huh? I don’t know if you understand this or not, but I get how this works. I’ve done it before. So just leave, Louis. Just leave.”
He stares at me silently, blinks once, then utters a single word. “No.”
“You’ve got to be – go. Get the fuck out of my flat. Now.”
“No,” he repeats, calmly leaning against the doorframe. “Not until you talk to me.”
I can feel the colour rising on my cheeks as I steadily grow more and more furious. My hands ball into fists at my side and quiver with rage as I stare at him, all suave and carefree and still in my flat.
Whipping around, I grab my wand off the kitchen counter top and spin to face him again, pointing it directly at his chest. “Leave,” I hiss murderously, “or I swear I will make you.”
Louis’s hands instantly fly upwards in the universal sign of surrender, but he doesn’t move from my doorframe. “Ava, let’s just think this through. I don’t have my wand –”
“Then just get out!” I scream, an edge of hysteria ripping through my voice. “Get out!”
“Calm down –”
“Don’t fucking tell me to calm down! You – you’re a real bastard, you know that? ‘I didn’t bring you here to get you drunk and hope I get lucky. I want to get to know you.’ Does that sound familiar, Louis? Huh? Does it?”
“I didn’t mean –”
“I don’t care! Just go!”
“If you really were going to make me go, I’d be gone by now,” he says calmly, slowly dropping his hands back to his side. “Isn’t that right?”
“I – I – fine,” I consent, lowering my arm and tossing my wand back onto the counter as he calls my bluff. “But please, just go.”
“All right,” Louis concedes softly. “But before I go, do you need me to get you anything? Are you still feeling sick? Are –”
“Aspirin,” I whisper. “And water. Please.”
“Okay.” He nods and glances once around my flat. But surprisingly, there’s no look of disdain across his face. I thought he’d burst into flames upon crossing the threshold of a place so beneath him, but apparently, I have no such luck.
“I don’t have any,” I mutter, feeling my face burn with embarrassment. “Need to go to the store.”
“Okay. You just wait here, all right? I’ll be right back.”
I nod, and Louis smiles lightly before stepping out into the hallway and shutting the door behind him. As soon as I hear his footsteps getting fainter and farther away, I head back over to the couch, flopping down on it heavily and curling up into a ball.
Strange as it may seem, I love this couch. Even though it’s lumpy and patched up and the cushions have lost their original shape, I love it. I had an even worse couch before this one – shocking, I know – but Ian said he would buy me a new one. So we found this. I didn’t want him to pay a lot, so we went hunting for the cheapest one we could find. And there it was, just waiting for us, the colour of his worn out jeans, with the frayed holes to match. It was perfect. It still is.
The door to my flat opens and shuts with that horrendous squeak, and Louis cautiously pads into my living room, aspirin in one hand and a bottle of water in another. And here I was thinking that he wouldn’t really come back.
“You didn’t have to get me water, Weasley. I do actually have that.”
“I know.” He takes a seat beside my balled up form on the couch and sets the water and aspirin down on my scratched up coffee table. Then he gently takes his hands and grips my shoulders, pulling me upright into a sitting position.
“Bottom’s up,” I mutter darkly, popping a few tablets of aspirin into my mouth and taking a swig of the water.
Louis chuckles and glances around my flat again, eyes sweeping the room slowly. And yet he still hasn’t burst into flames. Odd.
“Thanks,” I say as I push the water and aspirin container towards him.
He shrugs and makes a move to reach for them, but pauses once he’s halfway there. “What’s this?” he murmurs, and his hand reaches down to the floor instead of towards the coffee table.
The floor. The binder.
But it’s too late. He’s already picked it up and flipped it open, already seen what’s on the first page. Me and Ian, kissing in the veranda of his family’s summerhouse in the country. Louis flips to the second page, and I shut my eyes, already knowing what he’ll see there. This one’s of Ian and I in one of those Muggle photo booths where they take a string of pictures. We’re making goofy faces in all of them except the last picture, where he’s giving me a kiss on the cheek.
“Is this your boyfriend?” Louis demands suddenly.
“What? No –”
I recoil a bit at the harshness of his tone, blinking confusedly before I answer. “No –”
He lets out a sigh of relief and continues to flip through the photo album, studying each photograph intently. “Good. I don’t think I would have been able to forgive myself if you cheated – wait. These pictures aren’t moving. And this guy – he looks like me.”
“I know,” I whisper, feeling the pain in my heart return.
“Hold on – I know this bloke. I’ve seen him before,” Louis says abruptly, flicking faster and faster through the pages. “I know I’ve seen him –”
Then he stops suddenly, landing on a photo of us at a huge corporate party on someone’s lawn, with all the guests decked out in fancy attire. I watch as the realization dawns on his face, finally fitting the pieces together.
“This guy,” he says slowly, pointing at Ian, “he’s Ian Chamberlain, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” I choke out, wiping angrily at the tears that are starting to flow again.
“But – but – he’s –”
“A Muggle, heir to the Chamberlain Corporation, and one of the twenty richest people in Britain.”
“And also your ex.”
“Yes, that too. Listen, can we not talk about this, please?” I mumble, but my words are disjointed and garbled up from the fact that I’m fucking crying like a –
“Oh, shit, Ava,” Louis mutters, noticing my tears for the first time. “Er –” He rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably with his hand, just sitting there awkwardly and watching me with a truly frightened look in his eyes.
Of course. Men. Start crying and it’s like you’ve put Petrificus Totalus on them or something.
“No, no, I’m okay – I never usually cry in front of people – I never cry at all, actually – it’s just – it’s the first time I’ve looked at that since we broke up and – and –”
“And I look like him.”
I nod and wipe the back of my hand across my face once more, trying in vain to rid myself of the stupid, useless tears. “You look like him and you’re rich like him and – and you –”
“Well, that explains a lot.”
And despite everything, despite my hangover and the pain in my chest and the tears in my eyes, that makes me laugh. It makes me laugh and giggle and collapse back onto the couch, eyes wide open and finally free of water.
“You’re funny,” I breathe, eyes tracing across my ceiling.
Louis cocks an eyebrow and leans over my figure, brushing a bit of hair out of my eyes with his thumb. “And you are clearly still drunk.”
“Am not,” I protest. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be hung over.”
He studies me for a moment, and before I know what’s happening, he leans all the way down and kisses me lightly. “Yup, still drunk.”
“What? How does that prove anything?” I demand as I spring back up to a sitting position.
“Because you would never let me do that sober,” he says with a smirk.
I let my mouth open slightly in disbelief and promptly smack him on the chest, but I can’t stop the giggles from escaping. “You’re unbelievable.”
“That is definitely what you said last – oof,” Louis groans as I smack him even harder. “What, I was kidding –”
“Trust me. I remember last night and that is not what I would have said about it,” I tease, lying back down on the couch again.
“Oi – and here I was going to be nice to you and rate you better than Matt’s decent. But if you’re going to treat me like that then I’ll just rescind my –”
“Hey, Louis?” I say softly, interrupting his sure to be endless rant. “Can you get me something to eat? I’m really hungry.”
He gazes down at me for a second with a look of disbelief on his face, then rolls his eyes and says, “What do you want?”
“All right,” he groans, getting to his feet and walking over to my kitchen.
I continue to trace my eyes over the ceiling, noting all the water stains and turning them into shapes in my mind, like I used to do with clouds. My imagining is accompanied by a background score of slamming cabinet doors as Louis searches around my kitchen for something edible – not a small task, I assure you.
You know, when he’s acting like this, he’s actually kind of fun to be around. Sure, he’s still being a bit pretentious, and yeah, he was a real arse last night, but… I don’t know. Maybe we could be friends someday.
“Bon appétit, ma chérie,” Louis says happily as he places something down on the coffee table.
I sit up and glance warily at the food, or, to be more accurate, the lack thereof. “Louis,” I say slowly, “this is cereal. And wine.”
“Let me repeat that: you brought me cereal and wine.”
“You said to surprise you, and the best cure for a hangover is more alcohol.”
“That is definitely not true.”
“Hey, it can’t hurt. And if you don’t want it, then I’ll drink it.”
“No!” I exclaim, snatching the glass away from his itching hand. “I bought that with my own money. And it was fucking expensive.”
“What? This shit’s not expen-”
“Well I’m sorry that I can’t afford your fancy arse French wine –”
“Now hold up one second –”
“Didn’t I tell you to get out of my flat –”
“Ava, stop,” Louis says abruptly, so I simply stick my tongue out at him and cross my arms in a pout. “Very mature.”
In response, I ignore him and begin to dig into my cereal, savouring every last piece of the sugary goodness. I splurged when I bought it; normally I go for the cheapest box of cardboard they’ve got.
“Wine and cereal, huh?” I remark drily, and Louis nods with a slight bit of amusement playing on his lips.
“Do you mind?” he asks, gesturing towards the alcohol.
“Get your own.”
“Well, technically I did get this –”
“Urgh – fine. Have some.”
He grins triumphantly and takes a sip of the wine, then settles down onto the couch beside me, elbows resting on his knees. “You deserve better than this,” he murmurs quietly, watching as I bring up another spoon of splurge cereal to my lips.
“Yeah, well, I’m used to it.”
“So am I.”
“How can you just accept a life like this? It must be awful –”
“Like I said – I’m used to it,” I say firmly, signalling an end to the conversation. “You should be drinking water, you know. Your body’s too dehydrated from last night.”
“I know,” he mutters, dropping the wine glass back to the table. “Besides, I have to work tomorrow. Can’t go getting drunk, now can I?”
A silence settles over us as I continue to shovel cereal in my mouth, and by the time I’m done with my bowl and glance over at Louis, he’s out cold. His head tilts against the couch cushions so it’s just slightly lolling over the back, and I can’t help but stop and look at him for a moment.
Not in a creepy way, I mean. Because I am so not a creeper. It’s just… he looks so peaceful. And kind of innocent. I mean, I suppose everyone kind of looks like that when they’re asleep, but I never really take notice.
“Louis,” I whisper, poking him in the side. His eyelids slowly flutter open, revealing those deep blue eyes of his. “I think you should go home and get some sleep.”
“Nah, I’m good,” he says hoarsely. “I’m supposed to be taking care of you, remember?”
“I’m fine, really. Go home.”
“All right,” he concedes reluctantly. “See you tomorrow.”
I watch from my place by the coffee table as he heads out the door, listening carefully for the telltale footsteps leading down the hall. And as soon as I hear them, I let myself fall back onto the couch and into sleep.
I’m awakened by a loud pounding on my door and the muffled shout of my name. Groggily, I sit up and glance around my flat. The clock reads five of eight, and the whole room is dark. Which means I slept through the whole day. Fantastic.
With a groan I get to my feet and shuffle over to the door, pulling it open moodily. “What?” I hiss, squinting at the figure to try and determine who it is.
“You forgot this. At my place,” Louis mumbles, holding out my diner uniform. “I thought you might need it for tomorrow.”
“Right. Thanks,” I mutter as I grab it from him.
He runs his hand back through his hair nervously and clears his throat roughly, shooting me some weird look that I have no idea how to interpret. “And I – uh – brought you this. To say sorry.”
I blink once in confusion, but then he holds up a bottle of something – I can’t read the label. “Um, thanks?”
“It’s French. You know, because you were making a big deal about how you can’t afford my fancy arse French wine.”
“Right. Okay. That wasn’t necessary, but thanks,” I say awkwardly, grabbing it from him. “Do you – um – want to come in?”
“I mean, to have a glass with me. You paid for it.”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed this,” he says slowly, “but you, me, and alcohol don’t exactly mix well.”
I laugh and jerk my head towards the inside of my flat. “Come on. We’ll be responsible this time. I would feel weird about taking this really expensive thing and not sharing it with you. That’s not the way I was raised.”
“Well – I –”
“Just one drink,” I mock, repeating his words from last night.
“Oh, what the hell,” he consents, stepping inside and still not exploding into flames.
(Really, what is up with my luck lately?)
I flick on the lights, revealing my awful flat in all of its horrendous glory, and lead him to the middle of my living room. Settling down onto the floor, I pat the spot beside me on the carpet, then casually grab my wand off the table and summon two glasses for us. Louis glances nervously at the chipped and scratched glasses but makes no smug comments, so I figure it’s probably safe to continue.
I tap my wand against the top of the bottle and a slight pop echoes around the room as the cork jumps out. Already I can tell this stuff didn’t come cheap – even the aroma is better than anything I’ve ever smelled before. Gingerly, I pour the deep red liquid into the two glasses, careful not to let any of it spill out over the sides. Lord knows that wine staining my carpet would be an absolute horror. I mean, what would people think?
“What is this shit, anyway?” I ask absentmindedly as I pass a glass to Louis. He leans his back against my couch and takes a sip of it, even though it looks as if it physically pains him to drink out of such a low-grade glass.
“Fancy arse French wine.”
“I know that,” I mutter, and cautiously take my first sip. Louis shrugs and swirls his glass distractedly, seemingly unwilling to answer my question.
I examine the label on the bottle, but it doesn’t help at all. The whole thing’s written in fucking French. Go figure. I think it’s called something like bourgeois, but not quite – oh, the irony.
“Have you had anything to eat today?” Louis asks suddenly, eyes drilling into mine unblinkingly.
“No, just cereal. You?”
“I had a –”
“No, let me guess. You had a cheeseburger.”
“Nope. But now you’ll never know what I had to eat today.”
“Oh, the torture,” I drawl sarcastically, and a slight hint of amusement flickers across Louis’s lips.
“You really shouldn’t be drinking, then,” he says seriously. I roll my eyes and take a hearty gulp of the alcohol, just to mock him, and the amusement on his face grows even more.
“I’ll be fine.”
“All right,” Louis says, setting his glass down on my coffee table. “But when you get pissed and wind up sleeping with me again, expect no apologies here.”
“I think I’m smarter than that. And if it really does come to that then you have full permission to do what you will. I give it to you now in my sober state.”
He shrugs and leans his head back against the couch, stretching out his legs in front of him. “It’s your choice, not mine.”
“Damn right,” I mutter under my breath. Louis cocks an eyebrow at me as I down the last of my glass and proceed to fill it up again, not skimping on the amount that goes into it.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he warns, but I ignore him and go straight to sipping my drink. He shrugs again and watches me from his seat by the couch, hands never once straying back to his own glass.
“Drink,” I say, gesturing to his glass. Louis gives me a strange look, but obliges and goes back to nursing his wine.
And when my second glass is gone, I go for a third, because hey, why not? It would be wasteful not to finish the bottle. I know I probably shouldn’t be doing this and I know I said I wasn’t going to have more than one but I’m okay, really. And I know I’m getting tipsy again but I’m not nearly as drunk as last night so it’s all good because I know how to make responsible decisions.
During the third glass, the world begins to blur and my words start to slur, but it’s still okay. I’m good, really, but that doesn’t explain why with each passing minute everything seems to get fuzzier and my voice seems to get louder.
I slam my glass onto the table and flail my arm wildly for the bottle but when I find it it’s kind of a shame because I shake it and the stupid thing’s empty. The burning touch of someone’s hand against mine takes me by surprise and slowly the bottle is prised out of my hand and what the hell is going on here –
“Hey I was gonna drin tha –”
“All right, it’s time for sleep.”
“No,” I pout and stagger to my feet. The world is kind of tilting now but I am perfectly fine because I am a responsible young adult woman and nobody is going to tell me what to do especially some stupid arse boy who has no right to be here.
A hand slides around my waist as I lean dangerously to the side and I’m pretty sure my flat isn’t leaning just because I’m stumbling but because of the alcohol swimming through my veins as well. I glance up and through the swirling haze of my vision I see blonde hair and blue eyes and a zillion memories flood back into my head of corporate parties and getting drunk in the garden and giggling as they looked for us and kissing under the moonlight and skipping town and driving away as fast as his car could go because he couldn’t take the pressure of being the perfect son anymore.
“Hey, Ava?” Ian whispers with his blue eyes so close to mine. “I really like you.”
“Hey, Ian?” I whisper back. “I miss you so much and I’m sorry and I still love you –”
“I’m not Ian,” he says softly but I know he is because he has the same blue eyes and blonde hair and the same button up shirt from the fancy designer that I can never remember the name of and everything is the same and I want him back so badly.
So I kiss him and feel the warmth of his hands around my waist and the press of his body against mine and everything is right again and I don’t care what anyone thinks of us anymore because we’re so happy and in love and that’s all that matters.
“Ava, you’re drunk. I’m not Ian,” he says as he presses his forehead against mine.
“I’m not drunk I’m jus a lil bit tipsy an I know who you are an you are Ian an tha is tha,” I slur.
“You’re so drunk,” he murmurs and our eyes meet and we’re so close together now and his hands are still wrapped around my waist.
It would be responsible to kiss him, right? Because if I just kiss him and don’t do anything else then that’s being responsible and I’m going to be responsible because I’m not drunk so I can behave responsibly.
But before I can even try and act responsibly he’s kissing me and my back’s hitting the floor and my hands are tangled in his hair and this is not being responsible but I don’t care anymore because maybe I am a little bit more drunk than I thought and I know I don’t make good decisions when I’m drunk but I don’t really care because he smells good and I like the way his lips feel against mine and how his hands feel against my bare skin and when did that happen?
I know it’s not responsible to do this and I know that I’m going to regret it tomorrow morning but right now I just don’t really care because my world is fucking awful and I want to forget about things for a little and have fun and not think about how much everything sucks and how much I hate my life.
A/N: Well, there you have it, folks. Louis and Ava just really need to learn how to stay away from alcohol. So… thoughts? Predictions? Comments? And what do you guys think of Ian? More about him will be coming up shortly! Thanks for reading ;)
P.S. Bon appétit, ma chérie = enjoy your meal, my darling