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I Just Can't Help Myself... by Hazel Bludger
Chapter 17: I Just Have a Secret
To make up for my suckiness, I have a present for you.
A RIDICULOUSLY LONG CHAPTER!
(Honestly, it wasn't supposed to be this long, but it just kind of happened, and I didn't want to cut it anywhere because it would'nt have flowed right. So be happy.)
Let's get on with it, you've got a lot of reading to do!
DISCLAIMER!: Nope. Just...nope.
Chapter 17: I Just Have a Secret
Dorothy stormed into her dormitory, allowing the circular door to slam loudly behind her. Hope and Fiona, who were sitting together on Fiona’s four poster, turned to look at their friend expectantly, waiting for her to finish her tantrum. Dorothy ripped her black flats off of her feet and threw them angrily into her open closet, muttering angrily beneath her breath. She shrugged out of her robe and ripped her blouse off over her head, tossing the nice clothes she didn’t normally wear on the weekends against the wall to fall in a crumpled heap. She stomped over to her dresser as she unbuttoned her skirt and let it drop, stepping out of it and ripping the second drawer down open. She pulled out a hand-knitted navy jumper that used to be Freddie’s and pulled it on over her head, then slammed the drawer shut. Trudging to her closet, Dorothy yanked out a pair of denims and pulled them up forcefully, then threw herself face first into her mattress. She let out a muffled scream into her pillow.
“So, the meeting with Madame Whittle didn’t go well?” Hope asked nervously.
Dorothy flopped over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. “After the holiday.”
Hope gasped. “But that’s about another month and a half!” Fiona cried.
Dorothy sat up, running a hand through her blonde hair. “Trust me, I know,” she grumbled. “But she’s worried about my bloody side. It’s not healing as fast as she thought it would, and she can only perform minor spells on it because the depth makes it too dangerous.” She sighed loudly. “Until my side is healed, I’m grounded.”
“Well, you don’t want to make a save and split open,” Fiona said softly. “At least our next match is the last of the season. We have months before you really have to start practicing again.”
“It’s going to take me months to get back to the place I was before I was injured,” Dorothy pointed out. “I won’t have flown for over two months.”
Both Fiona and Hope shuddered at the thought. “I just want you healed, Dora,” Hope said. “Even if the process drives me mad.”
Dorothy nodded, her right arm absentmindedly curling around her torso and fingering the scar on her side beneath her jumper.
The door to the dormitory opened and two girls entered the room, laughing loudly. Hope and Fiona looked up and saw Tabitha Bruce walking in with bouncing dark curls followed closely by Hettie Langley. Her long blonde hair hung to about the center of her back, looking shiny and soft. She was pale-skinned, had a sharp nose, and so little chin that it blended in mostly with her neck. Fiona scowled, and Hope sighed softly, her eyes following her old best friend.
Tabitha looked over at Hope and scoffed. “What are you looking at, Jacobs?”
“Nothing,” Hope said quickly.
“Heard from Louis recently, Little?” Hettie sneered. “Tabitha has. He writes her all the time, saying how much he misses her now that he’s graduated.” Fiona felt her face heat up with anger as her fists and jaw clenched. “But the only attention you could get from him was all that childish bickering, wasn’t it? Pity. I hear he’s great in the sack, right, Tabitha?”
“Why should I care about what Weasley does?” Fiona spat, literally shaking with her rage. “We hate each other. I care as much about what he does as I do about what you do, Langley.”
“Oh, I guess you don’t want me to warn you that he’s coming to see me next Hogsmeade weekend?” Tabitha said, as she walked over to her trunk. “Taking me to Puddifoots.”
“There’s no way,” Hope said, surprise evident on her delicate features. “I mean, after that break up you two had? He wouldn’t be caught dead with you.”
Tabitha looked over at Hope with an icy glare. “Things change, Hope.”
“Have you found your book yet, Tab?” Hettie asked impatiently. “It reeks of mediocrity in here.”
Tabitha yanked a ratty textbook from inside her trunk with a triumphant grin. “Got it. Let’s go.”
Hettie beamed and turned back to the door. “Oh, hello, Thee.”
Thee looked up at the sound of her name, snapping back into reality. “Oh, um, hi,” she said softly.
Hettie lead the way out of the dormitory, Tabitha close on her tail. Tabitha, however, paused in the doorway. She turned back to her room mates. “I just wanted to say you all played a very impressive match against Ravenclaw. I’m glad that the Hufflepuff team is shaping out so well.” She turned her gaze on Dorothy and opened her mouth to say something. Then, as if deciding better of it, closed her mouth and nodded at Hope, who smiled genuinely at her. Tabitha then slipped out of the dormitory, closing the circular door softly behind her.
“What the hell was that?” Fiona demanded, her eyes landing accusingly on Hope.
Hope’s eyes widened as she shrugged. “No idea.”
“We’re meeting for lunch, right?” Dorothy asked as she pulled on a jumper.
“Right,” Hope said, twisting a floral scarf around her neck as she examined her appearance in the mirror. “Why does snow have to be so…wet?”she mumbled to herself.
“Hope’s mental tradition,” Fiona teased from her position on the floor. She was lying on her back, working on pulling up her boots over her tight denims. “We have the first half to shop in peace, and then we can see each other again. Trust me, if she even thinks she’s spotted you near her, she’ll run in the opposite direction, assuming the snow hasn’t paralyzed her.”
“I will not have you nosy bints ruining the surprise of Christmas,” she said with a grin.
“These…blasted…boots!” Fiona grunted as the one she had been yanking on finally slid into place. She glared up at Hope. “I blame you for my fat calves.”
Hope laughed as Fiona started tugging on the second boot and flicked her wand, causing the boot to shove itself up her leg into place. Fiona yelped. “It pinched me!”
Hope pouted at her. “Poor baby.”
Dorothy slid her feet into trainers and grabbed her Hufflepuff scarf and tossed it over her shoulders. “Well, I’ll see you both at The Three Broomsticks at one; I’m meeting Freddie at the Great Hall.”
“Wait!” Hope said, grabbing her bag from her bed. “We’ll walk with you. We’re ready.”
Dorothy chuckled as her Fiona pocketed her small coin sack and joined Dorothy by the door, watching as Hope scurried around the room, making sure she had everything she needed. “I’m sure Freddie won’t mind if you’re a couple minutes late,” Fiona said with a smirk.
“She won’t be late,” Hope snapped. “I’m ready.”
Dorothy laughed. “Okay, let’s go.”
Freddie was leaning up against the wall beside the entrance to the Great Hall beside Louis, waiting for Dorothy to come meet him. “So you really think Puddifoots is going to be a good place to tell her to stop owling you?”
Louis groaned, running a hand through his hair. “I didn’t pick it. I’ve already written her to stop; I figured I could at least talk to her and see what she wants. Bird’s driving me crazy.”
Freddie looked over and laughed at his cousin’s desperate expression. “Oh, mate. You’re in for a rough day. You know exactly what she wants.”
“Well, she’s not going to get any from me,” Louis shot back. “I have this new...thing.”
Freddie’s brow cocked curiously. “Oh? Do share, favorite cousin.”
“Nah, don’t want to bugger it up by telling anyone about it until she and I are on solid ground, y’know?” Freddie nodded. “And I’ve never been your favorite cousin. You still at odds with James?”
Freddie sighed. “I don’t even know.”
“He’s moving in on your girl, it’s reasonable to be pissed,” Louis said.
Freddie choked on the breath he’d just taken. “What? Dor’s not—we’re not—”
Louis laughed at his cousin’s obvious discomfort. “You’re not fooling anyone, Fred.”
“Hi!” Dorothy called down the corridor, waving like mad and jogging the rest of the way towards them. Freddie straightened up when he saw her. “Sorry to be late.”
Freddie grinned at her. “No issue. Want to head out?”
“So, it’s true, then?” Fiona said, venom dripping from her words.
“What’s got your knickers in a twist, Little?” Louis asked, his mouth flat.
Fiona smirked dangerously at him. “Tabitha Bruce has been bragging for days that Louis Weasley was taking her to Puddifoot’s today because of how much he missed her since graduation. I’ve heard you write all the time.”
Louis groaned. “I didn’t pick Puddifoot’s.”
Freddie, obviously enjoying his cousin’s displeasure, chimed in, “He’s trying to get her to stop writing him. Gets at least one owl a day. The girl’s mental.”
“And writing her back to stop wouldn’t work?” Hope asked curiously.
Louis shot a glare at Hope. “You really think I’d be here right now if it had? It’s been going on for months.”
“I hope your new bird’s understanding, Lou,” Freddie said. “Tabitha Bruce is a tad…persistent.”
Louis made eye contact with Fiona. “Yeah, so do I.”
“Well, I’m going to hit the village,” Hope said, causing Fiona to quickly break the contact. “I don’t want to see either of you until one.”
Freddie looked at Dorothy, who laughed. “I’ll explain on the way.” She looked back at Fiona. “You coming, Fi?”
Fiona shook her head. “I’ll be down in a minute. I want to see if there are any biscuits left in the Great Hall.”
Dorothy smiled. “Okay. See you later!”
Freddie offered Dorothy his arm, which she readily accepted, and the two made their way out of the school giggling.
Once they were gone, Fiona turned back to Louis. “So…Puddifoot’s, huh?”
“I’d much rather be taking you,” he said, his voice low.
Fiona snorted. “Oh please. Puddifoot’s isn’t exactly my style.”
Louis chuckled. “Like it’s anyone’s style.”
“So why would you take me?” Fiona asked coyly.
Louis grinned. “We’d go in, and you’d be saying how much you hated the place in that snarky little tone you use when you’re bitching that gets me every time, even though I know that deep down you’d be loving every second of the cliché romanticism. And then we’d sit down and drink coffee and eat way too many overly sweet biscuits as we made fun of all the other lovesick couples that look exactly the way we must be looking.”
“Sounds like you’ve really thought this through,” Fiona said with a smile.
“But the real reason I’d take you there is so that everyone else would know that you were mine,” he said. Fiona’s face softened. Louis reached out and grabbed her hips, pulling her tightly against him. “Only mine.”
“But what about Bruce?” Fiona asked as Louis started to suck on her neck. “Won’t you be eating biscuits and drinking coffee with her today? Won’t it look like she was yours?”
“Fuck Bruce,” he growled. “I want to be with you.”
“But you have a date already,” she sighed, leaning her head back and offering him more of her skin.
“It’ll take five minutes,” he said. “Meet me at the Shrieking Shack?”
Louis pressed a kiss to her lips. “Please.”
With a small smile, she nodded. “Okay. You’re lucky you’ve got such an ‘understanding bird.’”
He grinned sheepishly. “Don’t I know it? He doesn’t know anything, just that I’m waiting to tell anyone anything until we’re on solid ground. And that I’m crazy about you.”
“Good,” she said pressing her mouth firmly against his again. “I always liked making you crazy.”
“You’re coming to the Christmas party, right?” Freddie asked Dorothy as they perused the shelves of Spintwitches, looking for a gift for Hope.
“That’s the plan,” Dorothy responded. “Unless my parents made other plans. Why?”
“Just checking,” Freddie said with a grin. “Would want you to ditch out on me like you’ve done in the past.”
“Hey!” Dorothy cried defensively. “My parents surprised me with a ski trip six years ago, and I cried the whole way there.”
“Likely story,” Freddie said, smirking. Dorothy gripped the upper edge of her wire shopping basket and hit him hard with the bottom of it. “Oi!” he yelped.
“You’re an arse, Fred Weasley,” she said, turning away from him and walking back down the aisle towards the Seeker supplies. Rolling his eyes, he followed her, stopping short in front of a misplaced Beater’s bat. But not just any bat. It was the newest edition of the Thunder Bats, which had been said to be the best bats ever made. He peered down the aisle at Dorothy, who was running her fingers along the edge of the shelf, not really paying attention. He picked it up, hid it behind his back, and walked towards her.
“Any luck?” he asked, silently sliding the bat into her basket.
“Put it back, Freddie,” Dorothy said, humor dancing in her voice.
“What?” he asked innocently. Dorothy shot him a glare. He sighed. “But, Dor,” he whined.
“You are not picking out your own Christmas present!” she demanded, laughing, pulling the bat out of her basket. “I already have yours anyway! Put it back.”
“But my birthday is so close to Christmas—”
“I have that one too. Don’t make me hex you, Fred.”
Inside the newest Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop, standing where the famed Zonko’s used to be having finally bought out the company three years previously, was almost always deafeningly loud. Hogwarts students were always packed inside its doors, screaming and laughing, the sounds every successful joke shop wanted to hear.
Hope Jacobs, however, was standing silently and alone in an aisle, debating mentally on what to purchase for Fiona for Christmas.
“Can I help you with something?” a happy voice asked from behind her.
She turned, shocked to find James Potter standing behind her, clad in denims and a Wheezes employee shirt. His eyes widened as he saw her, blushing slightly. “Uh, no,” she said, desperate to get out of this uncomfortable situation. “I’m just going to look, uh,” she looked around frantically. “Over there,” she finished lamely.
“Wait!” James said, reaching out and grabbing her arm as she turned to flee. “Hope. Hope Jacobs, right?”
Hope turned back and looked at him unsurely. “Yes…”
“Hope Jacobs, Hufflepuff Captain,” he said more to himself than to her. “I don’t want to forget that.”
“Is that all?” Hope asked impatiently.
“No!” James said a little too quickly. “I, uh,” he looked around him and frowned. “Would you come with me for a moment?”
Hope ripped her arm from his grasp, causing James, who hadn’t even realized he was still holding onto her, to blush violently. “No,” she snapped, sounding scandalized.
“Hope,” he pleaded. His hazel eyes were desperate. “Please.”
Hope sighed. “Fine.”
“Aren’t you going to get anything?” Tabitha asked Louis nervously as he sent the waitress away from their table.
“No, I’m alright,” Louis responded gruffly, wishing this whole ordeal was over and he was with Fiona at the Shrieking Shack. He rubbed the stubble on his cheek and said, “Look, Tab, you’ve got to stop writing me.”
Tabitha blinked. “Why? Are we not capable of being friends?”
“Friends?” Louis scoffed loudly. “Friends don’t go to Puddifoot’s together. Friends don’t send multiple owls a day. Friends,” he continued, his voice now biting with bitterness, “don’t spread rumors and lies about each other after a break up!”
“Louis!” Tabitha hissed. “Keep your voice down, would you?”
“Stop owling me!” Louis shot back. “For Merlin’s sake, I get more owls from you than I get from my bloody girlfriend.”
Tabitha’s face paled. “Girlfriend?” Louis cursed under his breath. “You have a girlfriend?”
Louis took a deep breath. “Yeah, I do. Well, I think I do. It’s none of your business. You need to move on with your life so I can move on with mine, got it? Stop owling me.”
“I can write to whoever I want!” she snapped. “Did you ever once think that those letters were more about me and less about you?”
Louis stared at her blankly, wondering how he ever had thought a relationship with Tabitha Bruce had been a good idea. “That doesn’t make any bloody sense, Tab.”
“Maybe I’m lonely,” she continued. “Maybe I’m lonely, and the last person that made me feel like I wasn’t alone was you, and maybe I wanted to feel like that again. Maybe I wanted to feel like I meant something again.
“Maybe I wanted some attention, that kind that I always had when I was with you. Maybe—”
“Tab,” Louis said firmly, cutting off her emotional ramblings.
She made eye contact with him, her dark brown eyes glassy and flooded, full of desperation. “Please don’t make me stop writing you, Louis,” she pleaded softly.
Louis stared at her for a moment, but then shook his head. “After I broke up with you, you told the entire school that I had been shagging birds left and right behind your back, when it had been me who found you half naked in a broom cupboard with Bradley Page from the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.”
Tabitha flushed with embarrassment. “I’m so sorry, Louis,” she sobbed, reaching for him. “Please, believe me—”
“Don’t, Tab,” he said, pulling away from her and standing up forcefully from the table. “Just don’t. Don’t talk to me, don’t think of me, and for Merlin’s sake, don’t bloody write me. Do you understand?”
Tabitha nodded, hiccupping pathetically as tears poured down her pretty face. He nodded sharply, feeling a pang of guilt for upsetting her so. He spun on his heel and strode out of the shop.
Freddie and Dorothy were walking down the street as Louis passed them, a stone expression on his face. “Is he okay?” Dorothy asked.
Freddie shrugged. “It can’t be easy for him to see Tabitha,” he said. “The girl practically ruined his life last year.”
“He gets hurt and mumbles Fi’s name while he’s unconscious, she cheats on him and gets caught, he dumps her, she spreads rumors saying he cheated on her,” Dorothy said, shaking her head. “I don’t understand how she could want to see him any more than he wants to see her.”
“Well, you know birds,” Freddie said with a grin. “You all are mental.”
Dorothy gasped, laughing. “Even me?” She looked up at him, fluttering her eyelashes innocently.
He snorted, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. “Especially you.”
Dorothy hit him in the center of his chest. “You’re an arsehole, Fred Weasley.”
“But I’m your arsehole,” he said squeezing her and waggling his eyebrows playfully.
Dorothy laughed loudly and rolled her eyes. “Yeah, unfortunately.”
“You don’t mean that,” he said, feigning hurt at her words as he began trying to trod on her toes as they walked.
Dorothy couldn’t help but snicker at his childish behavior, dodging his large feet. “You’ll never know, Weasley.”
Freddie let out a loud laugh. “Weasley? I see how it is, Longbottom,” he said, stooping down and throwing Dorothy over his shoulder. “It’s time to teach you a lesson.”
“Oh, Merlin,” she moaned loudly. “Why must you always resort to lifting me and placing my face at arse-level?”
“It helps his masculinity,” another voice teased.
“Rose?” Dorothy asked, peering around Freddie’s waist. Rose smirked and wiggled her fingers in Dorothy’s direction.
“Really, Freddie, you’re in the middle of the street,” Rose said. “You’re just showing off.”
“Oh, bugger off, Rose,” Freddie said as he adjusted Dorothy on his shoulder.
“Happy to,” she shot back with a mischievous grin. “Lewis Davies is waiting for me in Hog’s Head in that back corner booth—”
Freddie dropped Dorothy to her feet immediately, advancing on his younger cousin. “Lewis Davies? That slimey Ravenclaw Chaser? In the Hog’s Head?”
Rose laughed and pecked Freddie’s cheek. “Oh, Fred, you’re so cute when you’re trying to be overprotective.”
“Rose,” he said warningly.
“I get it, no more than snogging, I’ll play your game and pretend like your approval matters to me,” she said laughing. Dorothy snorted behind Freddie. Rose grinned. “Honestly, if I were you, I’d be more concerned about Roxanne getting cosy with Dave Humble in Three Broomsticks.”
Freddie blinked. “What?”
Rose cursed. “I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.”
“I’ll skin that weasel,” he muttered, turning on his heel and stalking towards The Three Broomsticks.
“Bugger,” Dorothy muttered, hurrying after him. “Have fun on your date, Rose!” she called.
Rose laughed. “Oh, I plan to.”
“Freddie!” Dorothy called, chasing him down the street. “Don’t be daft!”
Hope followed James into a room labeled “Employee’s Only” on the upper floor of Wheezes. She walked into the center of the break room, looking around her. It was surprisingly normal, with a burnt orange color on the walls, accented with dark purple moldings. James closed the door softly behind them.
“Well?” she asked as he approached her from behind. He didn’t reply. She turned to face him, her amber eyes studying him curiously. “What’d you want to talk to me about, James?” Her voice was sharp and flat, obviously laced with slight irritation.
He took a deep breath. “I wanted to apologize,” he said firmly.
Hope folded her arms over her chest as one of her eyebrows cocked in surprise. “Oh?” she pressed.
His hand flew to the back of his neck, which he rubbed nervously. “I was pissed about losing the match. I shouldn’t have taken that out on you. It…it wasn’t fair of me to do so.”
Hope nodded, processing the information. “Alright,” she said after a moment.
James stared at her blankly. “Alright?” he asked incredulously. “That’s all you have to say? What’s that supposed to mean?”
Hope scoffed. “What do you want me to say? You act like I don’t understand exactly what happened, James. I would’ve acted the same way.”
James’s expression was torn between suspicion and confusion. Hope sighed. “As much as I appreciate your apology, it’s not necessary.”
“But I yelled at you,” he said softly. “I don’t even know you, and I screamed in your face.”
“I’m not fragile, James, I’ve been shouted at before,” she replied. “Trust me, you’ll be well aware when you’re due for an apology.”
He nodded. “So you weren’t mad?”
“No,” she said. He looked at her doubtfully. “Okay, so maybe at first I was a bit peeved.” He chuckled. “Okay, so I was furious. But once I cooled off, I understood where you were coming from.”
He smiled. “You’re different,” James said.
“Different?” Hope asked, a hint of danger in her tone.
James flushed. “Good different,” he said quickly.
She snickered. “Well, so are you. I guess. Whatever ‘good different’ means.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“If it’s about Dorothy, I will walk right out of this room and back into the main room to find Fi’s present.”
“I hope you find everything alright, ma’am, thanks for choosing Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.”
Fiona was juggling a large, fluffy duvet and a wicker picnic basket in her arms as she slid down the slushy slope towards the Shrieking Shack. Even though the shack had been silent for decades, most people still avoided it if they could help it. The crumbling exterior and spooky stories were enough to keep most tourists lingering along the top of the hill with no interest of moving closer to the abandoned building.
She cursed under her breath as she struggled to keep her balance, yet somehow made it to the shack without falling on her rear. Fiona approached a large hole in the side wall and shoved both the basket and blanket through before she pulled her body inside. If possible, she thought it was even colder inside the large main room of the shack. The air was heavy and dank, and the room was dark. Fiona picked up the blanket and shook it out, laying it out flat in the center of the creaky splintering floor, coughing as dust was released into the air. She cast a quick cleaning charm, siphoning the dust from all of the surfaces in the room.
She lifted the basket and placed it on the blanket, then set to her task of making the shack a bit more romantic. First, she conjured a few jars and filled them with small, dancing blue flames and surrounded the blanket with them. Still shivering from the cold, she cast a warming charm and shrugged off her jacket, hanging it on a protruding nail. Fiona conjured a few wreaths to hang on the other bare walls, managing to slightly brighten the space. She smiled at her work. Peering up at the ceiling, her smile became a smirk as she flicked her wand and watched as a sprig of mistletoe grew and hung down from one of the rafters close to their makeshift entryway.
“Perfect,” she mumbled.
Suddenly, a loud crash mixed with some imaginative expletives shattered the quiet. “Louis?” she called, moving towards the hole. She poked her head out into the cold, finding him to be lying on his back in the snow, eyes closed. “Louis!” she cried, her voice high with concern. Fiona climbed out of the hole, cursing as the cold air bit her skin. She hurried over to him, kneeling beside him in the snow.
Louis groaned, not bothering to open his eyes and look at her. “Today is not my day.”
She giggled, pulling him into a sitting position and helping him to his feet. “You are a bumbling oaf, Louis Weasley,” she said as she began brushing snow from his jacket. “I take it that Puddifoot’s didn’t go well?”
Louis snorted. “As if it ever had a chance of going well.” He ran a hand through his hair, and then turned to look at her. “Where the bloody hell is your coat? Blimey, woman, are you trying to catch your death?” he snapped, wrapping his arms around her small frame, rubbing his gloved hands over her arms to warm her.
Fiona melted into his warmth. “Inside. Warming charm.”
“Of course,” he said irritably, ushering her back inside the Shrieking Shack, assisting her through the opening, then following suit. Fiona shivered as the warmth of the room enveloped her, and Louis draped his jacket around her shoulders. “Someone’s been busy,” he said as his eyes scanned the room. “You swiped food?”
“I did not swipe it, the House Elves gave it to me,” she said defensively.
He grinned. “Of course they did. Should we eat? I’m starved.”
Fiona looked at him pointedly and gestured above her head.
“What?” he asked, looking up. She smiled as she watched the grin spread across his face. “Hm. Wonder how that got there.”
“No idea,” Fiona said, smiling as he stepped towards her. His arms wrapped around her waist, and she slid her hands up his arms to his neck. “But we certainly can’t disregard Christmas tradition, right?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” he said with a smirk. He leaned in towards her and, with his lips ghosting over hers, said, “You. Are. Shameless.”
“You love it.”
Dorothy laughed as Freddie hissed when the cloth bag of ice touched his skin. “You’re such a baby, Freddie,” she teased.
“I was attacked,” he implored, wincing as Dorothy held the ice pack to his forehead.
“Perfectly reasonably,” Dorothy pointed out. “Honestly, Fred, Rox isn’t a second year anymore. She knows her fair share of hexes.”
“And spends way too much time listening to Rose and Al,” he muttered darkly. “I have a contractual duty—”
“No, you don’t.”
“—as an older brother—”
“Here we go.”
“—to protect my innocent baby sister from any slimy git that tries something.”
Dorothy sighed, shaking her head. “Honestly, Freddie, you’ve known Dave Humble since he replaced Trent York as the Quidditch announcer third year. He’s your friend.”
“Not when his tongue is down Roxanne’s throat, he’s not,” Freddie snapped.
“Roxanne is sixteen years old, Fred,” Dorothy reminded him. “She can take care of herself.”
“What happened to you?”
Freddie looked around Dorothy to see Hope slide into the booth across the table from them, arms laden with bags. “Nothing,” he grumbled as Dorothy said, “Roxanne.”
“Your little sister?” Hope asked, a smirk pulling at her lips.
“She was on a date with David Humble,” Dorothy explained. “Freddie decided he needed to intervene. Roxanne didn’t exactly agree.”
“Dave Humble? The gorgeous Hufflepuff sixth year announcer?” Dorothy nodded. Hope grinned. “Go, Roxanne.”
“It is not ‘Go, Roxanne,’” Freddie snapped. “It’s ‘Bad, Roxanne, boys have cooties, go play with your dolls or something.’”
“Oh, Freddie. You really did earn that lump.”
Freddie glared at Hope as she and Dorothy giggled. “Are you guys hungry?” Dorothy asked, changing the subject.
“Shouldn’t we wait for Fiona?” Freddie asked.
“Nah, she owled me a bit ago. Said O’Leary caught her in the corridor and deemed her ‘suspicious,’ whatever that’s supposed to mean. Anyway, she’s scrubbing the trophy room with a toothbrush, at the moment,” Hope said, waving her hand in the air dismissively.
“Okay, I know my old man said that Argus Filch was a terror, but O’Leary is ridiculous,” Freddie said. “He had James and me in the Forbidden Forest by ourselves picking fungus for Patil’s stores as first years.”
“Leering O’Leary,” Dorothy joked, chuckling at herself. “I don’t know who creeps me out more: O’Leary, or that damn bird. Looks half plucked for Christmas dinner.”
“My precious Petunia,” Hope drawled in a rasp shockingly similar to O’Leary’s emphysema-induced wheeze.
Freddie’s jaw dropped as he let out a loud guffaw. Dorothy laughed loudly alongside him. “How long have you been able to do that?”
Hope shrugged nonchalantly. “Perfected it sixth year. When you spend as much time with him as Fi and I have because she can’t control herself, it’s pretty easy.”
“She and Lou did get pretty crazy last term,” Freddie said. “I didn’t realize they got detention from O’Leary with their fights.”
“Louis was only half of the problem,” Hope said, reading over the lunchtime menu. “She went on this crazy pranking spree after the holidays and practically lived in O’Leary’s office. And of course, I was with her…most of the time.”
Freddie furrowed his brow in confusion. “What did she even do?”
Hope sighed. “Do you remember when the OWL examinations had to be delayed because the Great Hall had been flooded and was nearly impossible to drain?”
Freddie groaned. “Remember it? I thought Rose was going to actually rip someone’s head off with her bare hands, she was so infuriated—” Freddie’s voice died as he looked up at Hope in shock. “That was Fiona?”
“Unfortunately,” Hope said. “She nearly got expelled for that one.”
Dorothy looked at Hope, her mouth agape. “When she told me she threw herself into pranking, I didn’t really believe it,” she said softly. “I’m impressed.”
Fiona absentmindedly allowed her hand to slide along Louis’s side as she snuggled up closer beside him on the blanket. His arm was tight around her shoulders, their legs intertwined, and her head rested upon his chest. His fingers were toying with the ends of her hair. “My first kiss was in Muggle school. Jerry Finkle came up to me at recess and we got fake married. But then he really kissed me, and I really punched him. He cried and told me he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. I was six years old. It was very traumatic.”
Louis laughed softly, and Fiona smiled as his chest rumbled beneath her cheek. “He obviously didn’t know what he was getting into by marrying you,” he said. “Poor bloke.”
“Poor bloke?” Fiona gasped. “I was divorced before the ceremony had even ended!”
“Yeah, poor bloke,” Louis replied, pressing his lips to the top of her head. “He ran before he realized what a great girl he’d managed to snag.”
Fiona looked up at him and smiled, a small blush painting her cheeks. “Merlin, you’re a sap.” She stretched towards him and pressed her mouth against his.
“You love it,” he said cheekily, sneaking another quick kiss.
She giggled. “I do.”
Fiona settled back onto his chest, squeezing him slightly. “Can you believe this?”
“What?” Louis asked, allowing his eyes to fall shut.
“This,” she replied. “Us.” She let out a small laugh. “If someone had told me last year that this was my future, I would’ve sent them to St. Mungo’s for brain damage.”
Louis chuckled. “I probably would’ve done the same.”
“Probably?” Fiona asked.
“Well, yeah, depending on when last year they told me,” he said. “If it was before the Tabitha Debacle, then off to St. Mungo’s for them. But after…or during, really…” His voice fell to silence for a moment. “I think I would’ve been excited.”
“So, in the Hospital when you were unconscious,” Fiona began, unsure of how to ask.
But she didn’t need to, as Louis said, “Yeah. I was dreaming of you.” He paused for a moment. “I think that moment when I woke up and you were the one beside me, I knew.”
“Knew what?” she murmured, just loud enough for him to hear.
“That one day, we’d end up here,” he said softly. “That I fancied you, a lot. And that deep down, you fancied me, too.”
Fiona allowed a comfortable silence to settle between them before she asked, “Why me?”
“What do you mean?”
Fiona sat up, looking down at her hands. Louis sat up as well, concern evident on his features. “You could’ve had any girl in school. Hell,” she said, her voice breaking. “You could have any girl in Britain if you wanted. Not only are you a Weasley, but you’ve got Veela blood. It effects everyone you come in contact with. Why would you pick me, the girl you used to hate, that was horrible to you, and put you in the Hospital Wing more than once? Merlin, Lou, it doesn’t make any bloody sense, and I swear if you’re joshing about this whole thing as one more cruel prank, I’ll never forgive—”
Louis cut off Fiona’s rant by lifting her face to his and covering her mouth with his own. He pulled back and pressed his forehead to hers. “You’re sarcastic, completely mental, and nothing like anyone I’ve ever been with before. Yes, I hated you, and with bloody good reason. But all those things we used to do to each other? They’re in the past. They’re our past. It showed me the strength of your mind and your heart, how you’re not afraid to be your own person and stand up for yourself. I’ve spent my entire life trying to figure out if people liked me for who I am, or for some ancient magic in my veins or for the family I was born into.
“You’re different. You’ve always been different. From day one, you never lied to me or treated me any differently for who I was. You hated me because you just did, and you weren’t going to keep that a secret from anyone.” She blushed in embarrassment. He smiled. “It was nice knowing that your feelings for me were always genuine. I was always on my toes around you. I had never been hated before. Everything about you was completely foreign to me. You kept me guessing; I was never bored or anything more or less than my true self. So through all those hexes and arguments, I fell in love with that girl. That one girl who made me feel normal, not like a Veela or a Weasley. Just like a guy.”
Fiona’s eyes were wide. “You…you love me?”
Louis’s face drained of all color immediately as he realized what he had said. “Uhh—”
Before he could even try to pretend like he hadn’t professed his love for her, she threw herself in his arms, her lips firmly against his. He fell onto his back laughing, wrapping his arms around her as he kissed her back just as fervently. She pulled back for a moment, her cheeks red with a blush. “Sorry,” she said, softly. The lustful look in her eyes made him not believe her for a moment.
“Don’t be,” he said grinning.
“Did you mean it?” she asked, her voice small.
Louis allowed his eyes to rake over her simply beautiful face, and he smiled. “Yeah,” he said, his voice hoarse and ragged. “I love you, Fiona Little.”
A huge smile broke out across her face. “Good,” she said. “Because, for some reason, I love you, too, Louis Weasley.”
Louis lifted a hand and tucked a strand of her dark hair behind her ear, resting his palm against her cheek to cup her face. She leaned into his hand, sighing contently. “So, do you believe this now? Is it real?”
She nodded. “Yes, it’s real. It’s all so real it feels like a dream.”
“Be my girlfriend. Come to the Christmas party,” he murmured, his face soft, yet serious.
She froze for a moment. “How will your family react?”
“Like crazed animals, I suppose,” he said softly, rubbing his calloused thumb over her cheek. “I understand if you’re not ready. But I want you there, even if you feel like you have to disguise yourself so they won’t recognize you. I just want you to be mine; I want to kiss you under the mistletoe in public and show you off. Because you’re mine.”
Fiona nodded. “I won’t miss it. And I will not alter my appearance, because from now on, no one else is allowed to even consider calling you theirs, not even me with a different face. I want to take you to Puddifoot’s, Mr. Weasley. But can we keep this ours until the party? I awfully enjoy sneaking around with you.”
Louis nodded, a small smile on his lips. “I awfully like sneaking around with you, too, Miss Little.”
She leaned down and pressed her lips to his. “I’m glad. We’ll tell everyone everything then, when I’m finished with Healing Academy applications, and you’re finished with your big trip to Egypt.”
He nodded. “It’s probably for the best.”
Fiona nodded, licking her lips. “Probably.” She smiled at him, her heart racing. “I love you.”
Louis grinned goofily. “I love you.”
Fiona closed the space between them and sealed their lips together again. “Hope is going to freak.”
PHEW! So much has happened! An extra long chapter means an extra amount of reviews, right? RIGHT. :) Can't wait to hear from you! I'll update as soon as I can!
Peace, Love, and Potter,