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Chapter 29: Experiences
This surprise still sucks.
I stab into my sausage grudgingly, miss and hit my plate, then try again and take a bite. A number of people chuckle around me, I could probably guess who, and try not to frown. My friends think that my constant nagging and, admittedly, a bit of begging is hilarious. Personally, I don't see the funny side, but what do I know?
Louis really knows how to keep quiet about things when he wants to. I hate to compare this to him ignoring members of his family, but I now understand that he can do it, he can be tightlipped when he wants to be. I'm thankful that his reasons for keeping quiet to me are ones he finds as a good thing, even I can acknowledge that; I don't know what I'd do if he didn't speak to me for negative reasons.
For a moment I wonder if this new revelation should make me thankful for his surprise and stop nagging, but I don't. I need to know. Accepting that Louis' surprise is good and allowing myself to change because of it are two completely different things; I won't be flipping a switch and becoming a different person. I'll keep nagging and, admittedly, begging.
I will know!
I forcefully pull off another bit of sausage with my teeth.
"Hey." Louis removes my fork from my hand. "You'll hurt yourself if you keep doing that. And if you don't, you'll hurt me instead. Neither of those sound very appealing. Until I stopped you, were you enjoying your breakfast? Had you actually been able to taste what you were eating, or did you just swallow it?"
I find my fork again and finish the last bit of food still there, chewing slowly. As soon as I'm done, I smile. "It's delicious, thanks for asking."
I roll my eyes and repeat a few points in his seemingly never-ending list of questions about our relationship. Empty words and things I'll never consider real, even after the Paris incident. Probably because I hear them too often. I'll worry when he comes up with new things to say. "I know, I know. Why do you put up with me? Why do you put up with the headache? What the hell do you see in me? I get it."
You know what else I get? I smack on the back of the head.
"Ow." I rub the spot gently. "Thank you, Lucy. I really deserved that," I mutter sarcastically.
"You're welcome. There's an owl coming this way."
I don't point out that I heard the annoying animals' squawks or that it's probably another one of my mum's embarrassing letters. She likes to ask about me and Louis now, ever since she tried to stop anything she thought might happen in Paris; once an overprotective control freak, always an overprotective control freak.
An overprotective control freak who will never know of our date the other day.
Which is why Lucy will know nothing no matter how much she begs for information - apparently the fact that I'm the one with relationship gossip allows her to forget that I'm in said relationship with her cousin. Not by much, thank God. I have to keep it twelve plus.
But she's evil and she'll use it against me if she ever needs to - she'll tell my mother.
I repeat; never going to know!
Whatever the bird drops does not fall in my lap, but I do hear Louis open something on my left. No embarrassing letters for Ciaran: awesome.
"Would you like to come with me to Hogsmeade this afternoon, Key?"
I almost don't answer him, because of the nickname. I haven't told the others that he has permission to call me that - the reasons why are too corny - and I don't want them hearing him call it me because I don't want them to think they can without consequences anymore - Lucy's the only one who ignores the consequences. But he sounds so excited about something that I have to.
"It's Tuesday," I remind him. "Hogsmeade is for the weekends."
"What if I told you I have special permission to leave today?"
"I'd ask about the occasion."
"It's for you."
"My birthday isn't for two more weeks." He's silent. Then it clicks. "Oh. I can miss revision with Abby. Sure."
I try to act casual, but it's not working very well. My excitement rivals Louis' and I think it's clear for everyone to see.
My surprise is coming.
We don't make a stop at Hufflepuff to drop off our school bags like I thought we would. No, Louis takes mine from me hands and gives both mine and his to Jack, I can tell by his mumbled protests. We're not even getting changed; Louis takes my hand, says good bye to Jack and prompts me to the same, then leads me away.
He's chatty on the way to the school gates, asking me about my birthday; what I want, if I'm looking forward to it. I answer him as best as I can (I have no idea what I want, I am looking forward to being eighteen). Digby himself is by the gates, ready to open then and to be back by dinner; our curfew may be midnight, but that doesn't mean we can spend all night in town, not a school night anyway. I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that it's Digby telling me this, he is Mum's contact - er, friend - but I though it would be Professor Burns, our Transfiguration teacher; being a real family friend and all he thinks he's allowed to tell me what to do and he always tries.
Key word being tries.
"Come on, Louis, at least give me a clue before we get there," I plead, pulling on his hand like a child begging for sweets or a new toy might.
"I gave you one the other day."
I shake my head. "No. You hinted about a surprise. Telling me that it's cooler than a magic, talking cane is not a clue."
"Do you really think I'm going to yell you anything more after you called me 'Lewis' all day yesterday?"
I admit, that wasn't the best thing to do. Damn, I should really learn to think through any and all potential consequences before I open my mouth. "I'm sorry," I tell him, both sincere and hopeful.
"I forgive you. I'm still not telling you." That hope disappears as just as his sudden stop. Why are we stopping? "Are you ready?"
I know the answer as soon as he turns me around to press my back to his front, his hands wrapped tightly around my arms. The horrible pull of apparition causes my stomach to twist horribly and I try not to throw up my lunch when we touch ground again. It's a horrible way to travel.
I think about yelling him for warning about us apparating, asking me if I'm ready just before doesn't count, then I think of something else, something that pushes any thoughts of apparaton out my mind. The yelling, however, might just be staying.
"Where are we?" I ask as soon as Louis knows that I'm okay and let's me go.
"This way," he answers vaguely.
Louis leads me down a street and into some building. The smell of alcohol screams 'pub'. Louis continues to the lead the way, not even pausing when he returns someone's greeting, and then we stop again. After a few moments, I hear a very familiar sound - the moving of bricks from a wall.
"We're in Diagon Alley, aren't we?" I phrase it as a question, but I'm not an idiot. I know the truth. And he knows I know. "Do we have permission to be here?"
"Digby said to be back by dinner, so we'll be back by dinner," Louis says like it's the simplest thing in the world and leads me through the alley.
"Digby thinks we're in Hogsmeade," I yell. I said the yelling might be staying. I let it go, though, the yelling anyway. I don't want to attract unwanted attention and cause a scene in public. "We shouldn't be here."
"What Digby doesn't know won't hurt him," Louis scoffs.
"So, lying and cheating and everything else that comes with being a future criminal mastermind runs in the family. This is something Hugo would do."
"I needed permission to go to Hogsmeade to apparate here, so I got permission to go to Hogsmeade. We went. No lying was involved in any way," he defends, sounding a lot like his youngest cousin.
"Yeah," I nod. "Definitely something Hugo would do."
Louis doesn't take offense to that, in fact he laughs, despite his actions to defend himself. "Live a little and break the rules, Ciaran. If you don't, you won't get your present. And I really want you to have it," he adds quietly, running his thumb in circles over my hand.
"Keep walking," I grumble. "But if Digby finds out and tells my mum, I'm telling them you kidnapped me. If she keeps you away from me, it's all your fault."
"I won't let the happen," he promises and his voice is so strong, confident, I really don't think my mother could keep him away. "Besides, she might forgive me."
Louis pulls me inside and I'm grateful to be somewhere warmer; it's not as cold as it was during winter, but even May can have its moments and I'm only wearing my school jumper, having threw my cloak into my bag at some point during lessons.
"Hello, it's my second favorite nephew and my daughter's wannabe boyfriend, so glad you could make it."
"Hugo isn't here, Uncle George, you can tell me the truth."
I barely listen to their banter, my mind is connecting some dots. Nephew, daughter, boyfriend, Roxanne, Uncle George, George Weasley... Weasley Wizard Wheezes. Oh no. "We're in the joke shop."
"You catch on quick," George Weasley laughs at me. "I have what you want, I'll be back in a minute."
"Your uncle has my surprise?" I ask.
"My uncle made it for me," Louis admits. "I didn't have the time or the magical ability to do it, but George did and he was only too happy to help me. He hasn't had any new ideas for the shop recently and he was itching for a new project. I trust his work... When it's not exploding," he chuckles.
"When did you start planning all of this?"
"New Years, after the fireworks. You were asleep on the couch already and I was quite drunk. All kinds of random things come out of my mouth when I'm drunk, but this idea stuck when I was sober and George liked the idea."
"It took me a few months, but I finally got it to work perfectly," George calls out, coming back over. "So, I really hope you like it. I'll be in the back."
"What is it?" I ask one more time. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I don't know what to do.
Louis keeps quiet, something snaps and he puts something on my face. It's something I know well, I have a few; a pair of glasses. He keeps hold of them on my forehead, just above my eyes. "You need to understand that it's not real, it's an illusion, okay?" I nod. "You need to really understand that, you can't think it's real, that it's a solution. Promise me?"
Seemingly accepting of my words, Louis fixes the glasses on properly. Nothing happens. At first, anyway. Then slowly, I see colors, which become distorted shapes forming before my eyes. And the a figure who's not quite all there, but still able to make out, a figure with blond hair and blue eyes and a school uniform. I pull off the glasses and everything's gone. I put the glasses back on and the figure starts to come back, clearer and clearer until I know who it is. You can tell the image isn't real, it's like the edges are a little blurry. But it's clear enough to know your surroundings, to be able to move around without bumping into things and to do things for yourself.
Even knowing this, I can't actually believe this is happening.
"Oh, my God," I whisper, my hand in front of me. My hands. How is this -"
"Possible?" I barely nod. "It's an illusion, very powerful magic that I could never do. Basically, the glasses put images of the world around you into your head."
The figure frowns, until he understands what I mean: why did toy do this? "You always hope that you being blind is an illusion or a dream, that you'll find that switch and everything will be as it was, that you'll wake up. So, I decided to do the opposite and make seeing the illusion. For you. I love you as you are, but I want you to be happy."
I finally tear my eyes from my hands to look at the figure properly, my hands out to touch him. He closes his eyes and let's me trace his face with my fingers; his eyes, his lips. I stop with my hands pressed at each cheek. "Louis. I see you."
Louis opens his mouth to speak and I'm able to stop him before he does so. "I know it's not real, I'm still blind and this is all in my head, but I'll take that over the dark. I see you, it's what I wanted." I look down to take one long look at him, my smile growing wider. "My imagination does not do you justice."
I don't miss when I kiss him this time. I start soft and slow, but Louis pulls me to him so our bodies are pressed together and our kiss deepens till we're breathless. I fix the glasses when we pull back, so they're no longer askew, and my smile never drops. "I see you."
"You see me." He turns me around, to the window. "Now see you."
My reflection. I understand instantly and move closer. My hair is black, messy, but in a good way I think. I'm too skinny, just like people have said, but I don't care about that. What I care about is my eyes, Louis' favorite feature. They look kind of cloudy, blurred like the illusion itself, but even so they're still very blue, as bright as people have said. The one part of my body I hadn't used in almost fifteen years just had to be my best feature.
"I remember when I was kid, people used to talk about my eyes," I tell Louis softly. "They're very blue, it was unusual. Pretty, they'd say."
"More than that, Bright Eyes," Louis says from behind me, his arms wrapped around my waist and his chin on my shoulder.
"Approved. How long have you kept that nickname quiet?"
"Since first year," he admits, he looks guilty even though he's grinning. I can see that now. Technically. "I couldn't remember your name and I didn't know what else to call you. Do you like your surprise?" he asks, changing the subject before I can comment on the fact that he couldn't remember me. He know I was about to, I can tell by the look on his face. At least, I assume that's what the look is.
"I love it."
I hesitantly reach my hands up to touch the frames. They look like normal glasses, from a vague memory I have of my grandfather's pair, only these are a little darker. But I still wouldn't call them sunglasses. The frames are thin, black. They don't make me look like a freak, which has got to be a good thing. Now I know actually suit my sunglasses; I also suit my magic glasses.
"They're tinted, so they're a little darker than regular glasses. UV protection, you can wear them outside in the sun," Louis explains to me. I take it all in, just about. I'm still trying to get over the fact that I have magic glasses, magic glasses that were thought of by my drunk eighteen year old boyfriend and created by his joke shop owning uncle.
"Definitely cooler than a magic, talking cane," I mutter. Louis hears me, though; his slightly off reflection smirks and nods. "I can't believe you did this for me."
"Why? I've already told you I'd do anything for you. You heard me tell my grandmother."
I agree; I did here that. "I just never thought of this."
"Good. Now I keep the idea as my own," Louis laughs. He grasps my shoulders. "We could make a fortune. Get Jay to invest."
"I'll think about it," I say. I turn around; whether it's fake or not, I want to see his face rather than his reflection. "Thank you."
Louis does what I did a few moments before; he cups my face in his hands, his eyes level with mine. "You're welcome," he murmurs. "I thought about saving them for your birthday, George was willing to come up to Hogwarts and drop them off for me, but I wanted you to have them now, so you could see everything you wanted on your birthday."
"You didn't have to do this for me."
"I wanted to." He sounds so sincere. He must look it, too. "I love you."
"I know," I reply, hating myself a little for not being able to say it back. Hating myself even more for not knowing why.
"Do you love me?" he asks.
I frown, wondering how he could even ask that, and answer without hesitating. "Yes."
Then I realize why he did it. Louis smiles. "You may not feel ready to actually say the words, but answering my question is good enough. For now, at least."
He kisses me again, for a few moments.
"Hey, if I'm not going to let Freddie snog his 'friends' in here, I'm not letting you. My customers don't want to see it." George Weasley comes back, coming straight for us. I see him. He's taller than Louis, with red hair, a slightly pale face and freckles. Not like Louis, who's blond, tanned (well, compared to his uncle) with no trace of freckles. He has a huge smile on his face, probably admiring his work. He reaches out to straighten them. "The more you wear them, the stronger the illusion should become. Which means the image you see won't be blurry around the edges - I tested them. I don't recommend that you wear them in bed or in water. Treat them like a regular pair of glasses, alight?" I nod and promise. "It may take a while to get used to, but you will. Just don't think of them as a cure."
"Louis already gave me the speech. I won't, I promise."
"Good," George says. "I hope you're happy with them. They took a lot of work to get right, a lot of magic."
"Thank you." I feel like I've said that so much since I got these, but I just don't know what else to say. This is a huge deal. I mean, I can see things. Technically. I must never forget the 'technically'.
"Not a problem, considering you're practically family," George smiles.
He nods like I should know this already. "You're Lucy's best friend and she's made it clear a few times that you're staying. Hugo wants to keep you, especially after he got your gift. Roxy, well, let's not go there. And here you are, in a serious relationship with Louis. You went to the slightly crazy - evil genius, in Hugo's case - side of the family, but family nonetheless. Welcome." He holds his arms up like an actual welcome, as though we're about to have a group hug any moment. None of us move and he drops his arms, to point to the door. "Now get back to school before we all get in trouble."
I watch him walk away, just because I can - technically - then turn to Louis, who was already watching me. "I thought you said only the cousins knew Hugo was an evil genius."
"George and Harry don't count, they know everything when it comes to our family. George thinks it's hilarious and Harry makes sure he doesn't get into too much trouble, so he doesn't have to arrest his own nephew one day," Louis tells me. "Harry tried to tell Hermione and Ron once, at one of our family dinners, but they don't believe their angel would be bad in anyway. They're blinded by their love for that boy. It's kind of funny and also a good thing; Hugo's pretty sure he could get an alibi out of them, should he ever need one. We should get back to school."
I let him lead the way and go back to the wall in the pub. I just about manage to continue the conversation, but walking around is so different now that I can see things. It's kind of blurry, I don't think the magic can keep up yet, that's the only explanation I have. But I can see enough to get from one place to the other without tripping over anything or bumping into someone, so I don't really care all that much. it's better than before.
"So, Hugo has cousins ready to help him, a lawyer ready to defend him, an uncle there to keep him out of jail and parents he can use," I sum up.
I shake my head. "Lucky bastard."
Louis laughs at my words, or was it my tone of voice? Shock and awe don't even begin to cover it.
"Come on, we have to go back. We can have dinner and surprise everyone."
I can't wait to see the looks on everyone's faces. Because I can do that now.
People give me strange looks as we walk past them to the Great Hall. Is it because of the new glasses or because I have an odd expression on my face or do they watch me as I walk past all the time?
It's an odd feeling.
Louis doesn't let go of my hand until we've sat down, him in my right and two others on my left. A girl, the furthest away, with long, wavy black hair and a pretty face. She's talking to the boy right next to me; the one with short, light brown hair, green eyes and a goofy looking grin. I may not know their faces, but know their voices; Jack and Lucy. My friends. I've seen my friends' faces.
I look across the table to who they're talking to and I know his voice, too. I see now why Kyle Raven is the one with the reputation; he's gorgeous. His smirk is lazy, his hair makes me think he's just got out of bed, but instead of looking scruffy it makes him look sexy. He doesn't have his school cloak, jumper or tie on and his top few buttons are undone, exposing a tanned, probably smooth chest. He's the completely opposite of me.
His eyes are sad, though. I have this overwhelming urge to fix it, because someone who looks this good doesn't deserve to be sad. He needs to smile.
"How was Hogsmeade? Got what you needed?" Lucy asks, turning the conversation our way.
"Yep," Louis answers, helping himself to some food.
Kyle finally turns to look at me. "Nice glasses. New?"
"Louis got them for me," I reply. "Cool, huh?"
He shrugs. "They're just glasses."
But they're not just glasses, I want to say. They're magic and they're awesome. But I don't. I hold it in. It'll be funnier when it's completely unexpected. Instead I smile and turn to the food. It's chicken today, I reach out to grab a leg.
"That's the sprouts," Jack says. "You don't want that."
He's trying to trick me like he always does. I glance his way and he's trying not to laugh, but he sounds so sincere. I wonder how he does that. Then again, his mum is a very famous actress. I smirk and grab a leg. "Liar."
"He's sees right through your tricks," Kyle laughs out loud, not understanding just how true his words are.
"Yes, I do." I fill my plate up with food, calling Jack out every time he tries to confuse me.
"How are you doing that?" he exclaims. "You never do that!"
"It's the glasses." We look up and Kyle's smile drops. Skinny, black hair messier than mine - seriously, Louis is pretty much the only blond in our group - a not-even-there smile and a voice void of emotion. Luka Davenport. He sits down at the table, right in front of me, leaving a noticeable gap between him and Kyle. "It's the only thing that's different."
Jack throws his hand in front of my face. He's so fast, it's blurry at first. It clears up gradually. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Two," answer. He does it again. "Four." One more time. "Hey - don't give me the finger!"
Jack drops his hand, Louis laughs so hard he's shaking and Luka's smile grows the tiniest bit wider. Because Jack is freaked and so is Lucy. Even Kyle is a little. Only for a second. Then they smile. "You see us."
It's not a question, it's a statement. Of course it is, they've had their proof.
"How?" Kyle asks.
"Louis had an idea and went to George Weasley. They were made for me. It's an illusion, I can't really see." I lift them up, even though they don't know that everything's gone dark. Not for long; I put them back on quickly. "It's cool, takes a while to get used to, though. I still haven't. I'm not so sure how it works exactly."
They all turn to Louis. Even I do; I didn't ask in the shop. "Don't look at me, I was drunk when I came up with the idea. All I know is that it's magic I can't do. You have to be strong, put power into the illusion or it won't work. Uncle George has been creating things like this since he and his twin brother were kids; he was the obvious choice."
"Makes sense," Lucy agrees. "I can't believe you can see us. Technically."
There it is, that word again. I can't forget that word.
"Think of all the things you can do now," Jack says excitedly.
I shake my head, to tell him no, I won't he joining him on his extreme sports adventures. Then I think about the things I can do now, or can learn to do, things I was too young to do last time I could see. "I didn't learn to read or write," I admit. "I wasn't at that stage when I lost my sight; I had just turned three. I could do that now."
They look shocked for a few moments, obviously just realizing that now. Well, everyone but Luka and Louis. Louis doesn't count, though; I'd already told him.
"I'll teach you," Kyle says. "Louis has prefect duties after your lessons with Abby, she can't teach you all the time and Lucy studies too much anyway. I, on the other hand, am free. If you want to, that is." I nod. "Awesome. Soon you'll be writing your own music."
"What else didn't you learn?" Luka asks curiously.
I shrug. "I can't swim. I can't ride a bike with two wheels, but I did have one with training wheels once. I don't know, I've never really thought about it."
Louis takes my hand and squeezes. "We'll find out."
We study in Hufflepuff for a while after dinner, since we still have a few hours until curfew. Even Luka comes, but he and Kyle keep their distance. Kyle and I both go through history and he tries to teach me some of the words in the textbook. I ignore the fact that I feel like a small child because I want to learn. I only stop when Louis tells me the sun is going down.
I go to the window, aware that curious eyes have followed me.
"What's he doing?" Lucy asks, not quite managing a whisper.
It only takes a moment for Jack to get it. "He's watching the sun set. He's never seen it before."
"I know it sounds stupid, but this is a new Experience for me," I call back.
"It's not stupid," Luka says. "I promise."
I smile at his words, even though my back is to him. I don't turn, don't talk, until the sky has darkened. "I never thought I'd say this but watching the sun set is a beautiful moment."
"Yeah, it is," Kyle agrees. Only he isn't looking at the window. I need to work harder at getting them two to talk.
Add things to my list, cross things off my list, pass exams, learn to say 'I love you' and get my friends back together.
Oh, and get used to being able to see. Technically. Without forgetting the technically.
I can so do this.
A/N: Louis' surprise: magic glasses that give the illusion of sight. Magic can do wonderdul things. :D
I hope you enjoyed. Please et me know what you think. :)