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What It Is To Burn by SnitchSnatcher
Chapter 36 : Stuttering
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 76


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“Five minutes,” Professor Flitwick squeaked from his position atop a stack of boxes. “You have five minutes until this examination ends!”

My heart began to hammer loudly at this prospect and I turned my strained eyes to the parchment spread out in front of me. Nearly every inch of it was covered in my messy scrawl, huge sections of it blotted out with the tip of my quill and in other places, it was hardly legible. I prayed to Merlin that I wouldn’t get points taken off for that, although I could’ve sworn that Lily told me the spell used by the official exam people to make writing legible. And then I realised with horror that I didn’t know that spell and it would probably come up on another exam.

Merlin help me! I was never going to graduate at this rate! Not if I couldn’t perform a simple spell that corrected messy handwriting. How on earth was I going to survive in the outside world if -

Breathe, Eleanor. If you lose it now, you’ll never get it back.

Before I could thank the Voice, it continued.

Not that you ever had it all, but you know, you’ll lose whatever you’ve got left. Ha!

Does that mean I’d lose the Voice, too? The anxiety gripping me lessened slightly at this thought. To be rid of the annoying Voice forever! Oh, I could only imagine what it would be like not to have It hanging around, breathing down my neck and -

Focus, Elle! Focus! We’ll discuss our personal differences later.

Pushing my fringe out of my eyes, I scribbled furiously on the parchment. I poured everything I knew about the steps it took to become an Animagus - including the basic instruments as to how a witch or wizard should swallow such a thick and sticky potion - regardless if it fit with the subject matter I was supposed to be writing about. No doubt my sentence structure and grammar were horrible, but I could have cared less about that stuff. Well, only if points weren’t taken off for horrific grammar and equally terrible writing style.

Then and only then did I care.

“. . .and three - two - one! Quills down, children!” the Charms professor shouted. “Quills down and ink wells capped! Time is up!”

The plausible amount of tension in the Great Hall broke with these words. The tension was released from the air and I found myself able to breathe deeply without the fear of losing my answers when I exhaled. I’ve heard that it happened to several wizards in the past and quite frankly, I didn’t want to be one of them. Merlin knows I was probably going to have a hard enough time passing the practical exam when it came to Transfiguration, even if I was pretty good at the subject.

“Please remain in your seats while I collect your test papers,” said Professor Flitwick. With a wave of his wand, he Summoned the scrolls of parchment toward him. It probably wasn’t the best idea for someone of Professor Flitwick’s stature to attempt, but he seemed to know what he was doing. Or rather, he knew when to duck. I’m sure the sheer force of all of scrolls coming at him at once would’ve knocked him down. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the wind took him away.

Buttocks still firmly in my chair, I ran my hands over my face, relief flooding through every available pour in my body. There was only one more examination left after this, excluding the Transfiguration practical, of course, and that was History of Magic. I already knew that I’d do dreadfully on the test, regardless of how much Lily attempted to drill the subject matter into my head. I had no interest in a History of Magic, especially not when Binns was the teacher. If anything, I was glad to be rid of it.

Speaking of Lily. . .

I craned my neck, scanning the now relaxed seventh years gathered in the Great Hall. Many were on their feet, conversing and laughing with their neighbours. Others were sitting on the tops of their desks, curious expressions on their faces as they discussed the questions on the exam, though we were under strict instruction not to do such an atrocity.

It didn’t take long to find her head of long, dark auburn hair. While I expected to see James standing next to her, his arm wrapped firmly around her slim waist, I didn’t. No, Lily was in deep conversation with none other than Severus Snape and by the looks of it, he’d just said something that made her angry. Though I could only see the back of her, I saw that her hands were clenched at her sides and she was leaning forward slightly. Like she was about to scream something in his face. I’d seen that posture before - been on the receiving end and I can be the first to tell you that it wasn’t a place one wished to be.

Deciding it was better I didn’t interrupt the growing argument between them, I tore my gaze from the pair and swept the room for the rest of my mates. Alice, James, and Remus were circled around a desk and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind as to whom it was. Swallowing the bundle of nerves that seemed to seek residence in my throat, I rose from my seat and carefully toed my way toward the small group.

“Ellie!” James cried loudly, causing several people to swivel their heads in our direction. He threw an arm over my shoulder and drew me in closer to the group. Alice stepped to the side slightly to make room for me in the circle. “How are you, love?”

I shrugged my shoulders, which was much more difficult due to the weight of his arm. “Exhausted,” I blurted and I found that it was true. Not only did my hand hurt from gripping the quill so tightly, but it seemed that my entire body did as well. I could already feel the coils of tension cement themselves in the line of my shoulders. Though, to be perfectly honest, it could be due to the weight of James’s arm, which, as I stated before, was rather heavy. Just how many small children did he bench press in the morning, anyway?

I was just about to ask him when Sirius and Remus continued the conversation that my arrival had interrupted.

“Anyway, I thought the last question was a bit of a joke,” said Sirius smugly. He was leaning back in his chair, which tipped precariously on two legs. I wanted to tell him to set the legs firmly on the ground, but I knew if I said anything, he would just smirk at me in that frustrating way that he’d been smirking at me for the past few weeks and I’d want to hit my head against the flagstone to rid the expression from my eyes.

Dear Merlin, if there were one person who was going to drive me into insanity, it was the dark haired youth lounge comfortably in a decidedly uncomfortable chair.

Beside me, James snorted. “Of course it was a joke! The Theory of Animagus is one of the easiest concepts in Transfiguration. It’s really straightforward if you ask me.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that it was the easiest notion in all of Transfiguration to understand. . .,” began Remus, though I stopped paying attention after the last few words.

I could practically hear the blood rushing to my toes as it left my head, leaving me colourless. They weren’t being serious, were they? How could they talk so casually, so damn easily about theories of Animagus - or Transfiguration in general - with such a note of confidence in their voices? You’d think that they themselves were Animagi (or is it Animaguses? I’m complete bullocks when it comes to grammatical possession and such), the way they were talking about!

The idea of the Marauders being Animagi (I’m assuming this is right.) made me snort, thoroughly amused. There was no way that they could ever achieve something like that. As clever as they all were, becoming an Animagus was not an easy feat. I’d heard Professor McGonagall talking about it on several different occasions and aside from complicated, the process was supposedly painful the first few times its tried. So painful, most people stop the venture of becoming an Animagus. Though I’m pretty sure she was just telling us that to shut up us. To be fair, no one really knew exactly what lengths the Marauders would go to, what skills they possessed. . .I don’t think they even knew the full extent of their own magical abilities.

I wish I could say the same thing.

Just as I beginning to wonder what sort animal I would become, should I ever attempted to become an Animagus, Lily came storming up to the group, her face splotchy with patches of red and it was as though her hair was becoming wilder by the minute.

“Lily, are you all right?” I asked tentatively.

Her sharp green eyes snapped over me. “Do I look all right!?”

Slightly alarmed, I took a step toward Remus. You know, just as precaution. If it came down to it, I would use him as my shield. Circe only knew how explosive Lily’s infamous temper could be and if it was anything to judge by, the look on her face clearly spelt trouble.

“What happened? Why are you so angry?” Alice questioned.

“Snape! That’s what happened,” Lily replied, though her tone was much smoother.

I tried to hide my annoyance at being snapped at. Lily hadn‘t snapped at Alice, but then again, she had waited a few moments before addressing Lily. Alice also hadn’t asked such an annoyingly stupid question. I really needed to practice my Lily-Handling skills; they were still a bit rusty, even after two and a half months of reconciliation.

The Marauders’ reactions to Lily’s comment was expected: James stiffened, his mouth setting in a grim, hard line; Remus stood up a little straighter and looked at Lily with nothing but concern; Sirius let his chair fall back to the ground, the front legs slamming against the floor with such force, both of them splintered.

“What’d he do?” they asked in unison.

My eyes found Lily, who was standing close to Alice, who had her arm cast around her best friend’s shoulder. When I looked into the redhead’s face, I saw there were tears pooling her emerald eyes, tears that she was trying to hide from James and his mates.

“N-nothing,” she breathed, clearly trying to stifle a sob. She made a discreet swipe at her eyes, no doubt to clear away the few tears that managed to leak down her cheeks. “He’s just being a prat.”

Though Remus and Sirius visibly relaxed (James was still as good as a statue of marble), it was obvious they were waiting for her to say more. Looking for an excuse to go after Snape one last time.

“Well,” I began softly, causing several pairs of eyes to focus on me. “That’s to be expected, isn’t it? I’m not saying that he’s a bad person or anything, but he hasn’t always been nice to you. . . .”

I could feel Lily’s glare burning into my forehead. “What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, her voice deadly calm. Everyone knew that calm was never good. Not ever, because the calm comes before the storm. And I don’t know about you, but I hated storms. All they caused was trouble.

I should know, seeing as how it was a ruddy thunderstorm that got me into this mess. . .though it seems that things turned out for the better, didn’t they?

That’s right, Ella. Keep searching for the Silver Lining.

Nervously, I cleared my throat. “W-what I mean to say is that. . .well, with the House rivalries and all, it makes it hard for the pair of you to be friends, right?” I licked my lips and began to fidget with my hands. Nothing like resorting back to old tendencies. Soon, I’d be staring at my shoes, which were probably as scruffy looking as they were at the beginning of the year. Not that it mattered to be all that much. The scuffs added personality.

“Right,” drawled Lily.

“And I mean - well, he did call you a M-mu-,” I glanced around at the faces of my friends and leaned closer to them, dropping my voice to a whisper, “A Mudblood. It’s not like he has chosen the best of mates and such and -,”

“He’s a Slytherin,” chimed in Sirius. I cast a grateful look his way and he winked at me. All at once, my stomach fluttered with excitement, though the Voice was telling me to ignore the happy feeling in my abdomen to focus on the situation at hand. “Such behaviour is expected from a Slytherin. The lot of them are prats!”

Everyone but Lily laughed.

“Well said, Sirius, well said,” Peter chuckled, clapping Sirius on the back. When Peter had popped up in the circle, I’m not entirely sure. He hadn’t exactly been around all too much as of late, though I can’t say that anyone missed him all that much.

Merlin, what a terrible thing for me to say! Of course his mates missed him. They were probably too busy studying for N.E.W.Ts to care too much about him.

Our amused laughter seemed to rouse James from his statue-like coma. He snaked an arm around Lily’s waist and pulled her close to his chest. She seemed right at home there, nuzzled against his chest. She slid her own arms around his middle, pressing her cheek against his sternum.

“Don’t let him bother you, Lils,” whispered James to Lily, though he spoke loud enough for us to hear him quite clearly. “He doesn’t mean half of the things he says. He’s just-,”

“Deluded!” provided Peter, causing another bout of laughter to surge amongst our group. Even Lily managed a smile at Peter’s clever quip.

Before anything else could be said on the subject matter of Severus Snape, the decidedly confusing Slytherin who seemed to appear more slimy than he actually was, Professor Flitwick announced we were free to go and spend the rest of the afternoon at our disposal.

I hurried back to my desk, collecting my quill and inkwell and shoving them into my new satchel. I know it’s a bit odd to buy a new bag for school when the end of the year was so close, but when I’d written home to Aunt Eliza, telling her that the damn strap on my satchel made me trip down a flight of stairs (I slipped on an inkwell, you see), she’d sent me a new one via Leonidias. Slinging the bag over my shoulder, I weaved around the crowd of exiting, excited students toward the space where all of my friends were standing.

Or stood, rather. The only one who was still there was Sirius, and that was because he was shoving his things into his bag. When I tapped him on the shoulder to alert him of my presence, he seemed a bit taken aback. He muttered something and turned around, smiling brightly at me as he tried to discreetly stow a piece of folded parchment in his back pocket.

“Hello!” he said cheerily.

“Hi,” I replied, deciding it was best not to ask him what it was and why he was so quick to hide it from me. Instead, I settled on the safe route. “Where’d everyone go?”

“To get their things, I suppose,” he answered, a smirk dancing across his inescapable soft and not to mention warm -

Eleanor! Now is certainly not the time for your deranged fantasies to take you away!

Admittedly, the Voice was right and I was forced to block out the image of myself pinned between a rough stone wall and Sirius, his breath hot on my neck. Dammit! I needed to focus! Or at any rate, a nice cold shower.

Yes, a cold shower was sounding pretty good right now, especially if he continued to smirk at me like that.

The smirk grew as we continued to stare at each other.

Gah! Damn him! He has to know that it’s effecting me, that damn smug smile of his! Otherwise, he would have given it up a long time ago.

Or he’s simply amused by your reaction. He is Sirius Black, after all.

Oh shut up, Voice! I really didn’t want to listen to It right now.

Clearing my throat and shaking myself out of my momentary stupor, I nodded my head. “Oh, that would make sense, wouldn‘t it. Did they say when they’d be back?”

Sirius laughed in his bark like away and I gave myself a mental palm slap to the forehead. Merlin, how stupid could I be? Did I really just ask that?

“No,” he commented, stopping my mental berating before it could proceed any further. “But I’m sure they’ll be in time for supper.”

I sent him a look and he laughed again. The sound was warm and familiar, wrapping around me like an old, but welcomed winter coat. The only problem I saw that was I didn’t particularly like winter, much less having to wear a coat all the time. So did that mean I didn’t fancy his laughter as I used to or that I was becoming annoyed with it? Or was I just overanalysing the situation like I do most of the time, therefore making things immensely complicated for myself when they could be simple?

Right, I’m going to go with the latter of the two.

“I should hope so,” I managed to say. “From what I heard, tonight’s feast is supposed to be huge. Wouldn‘t want any of them to go hungry, you know.”

“Really?” Sirius said, looking slightly perplexed. “Why would it be huge? I mean, there’s nothing special about-,”

Laughing, I cut him off. “I was kidding, Sirius. Trying to make a joke. Taking the mickey. You know, that old chestnut. But apparently, I’ve failed.”

Sirius laughed again. The bark like quality echoed in the Great Hall, which, I just now noticed, was empty save for us and a group of elderly looking witches and wizards we had come to know as our examination squad. They didn’t even to hear us laughing and talking, though I admit, it must be hard hearing at that age.

“Good Merlin, I hope someone takes me out back and shoots me before I get that old.”

Sirius followed my line of sight and after a few moments, he chuckled softly. “They’re not that old.”

I snorted. “That one right there,” I pointed toward a witch with a hooked nose and a stoop. Her hair was a dark, steely grey and her eyes wandered in different directions, “looks as though she was a floozy of Merlin’s!”

Sirius laughed once again and I found my heart soaring. Inside, I was repeating the mantra: I love winter, I love coats. I love winter, I love coats. I adore winter, and coats are my biggest obsession!

“Hmmm, what about that one?” Sirius questioned, pointing at the wizard beside the witch.

I observed him for a moment, drinking in the old man’s appearance. He was so hunched, it looked as though he could reach out and touch the floor without much effort. His skin was spotted with liver warts and had more lines than my last Charms essay. I was pretty sure the fuzzy patch on the top of his head was supposed to be hair, but it could’ve been mould.

I told all of this to Sirius and he was beside himself with laughter. His laughter inspired my own and soon, we were laughing joyously together, pointing at each of the examiners and inventing their lives and when they were born. And everything as ridiculous as two people such as us could get up to.

Circe, it was nice to be back to normal with Sirius. Though I couldn’t help asking myself, is anything normal with Sirius Black around?

X - - X


Two Weeks Later. . .

This was it.

Today was my last official day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In a little less than three hours’ time, I would be joining my classmates in the ceremonial walk to Hogsmeade Station, where we’d pile onto the brilliant scarlet engine that was the Hogwarts Express and be on our way into the real word as graduate students.

The thought my stomach swoop uncomfortably and my face flame up.

Ever since I’d woken up this morning, I’d been hot. Unnaturally hot. Sweat was dripping down the back of my neck, soaking the collar of my freshly pressed linen shirt. No one else in the dorm was sweating the way I was. No, they were just fluttering about the place, searching for lost items while trying to get their make up just right. Today was the graduation ceremony and they weren’t about to look like shit.

I was past debating whether or not I should throw myself in the shower again to cool off, as one of my roommates was probably using the bathroom to perfect their appearance, and was now playing with the idea of leaving the dormitory all together. I was no where near ready; my hair was just a bit on the messy, tangled side, my socks didn’t match, and there were several thread hanging from the hem of my skirt.

It was the nerves. Today was one of those epic days that only comes around once in a lifetime, and I didn’t want to mess it up. No one did. Which was why we were all in minor to moderate states of panic. Out of everyone, I’d say that I was the worst. After all, I was the only one sweating like I was situated in Satan’s asshole. Not exactly the most pleasing image for one to conjure up, but it also was not the time to start getting a bad case of nerves.

Unfortunately, my body didn’t seem to get the message. My hands shook when I held them out in front of me. Shook with nerves, with the uncertainty of what followed my graduation, and with a tiny bit of fear of what I was to expect today. Would Aunt Eliza remember to come? I’d owled her just a few days ago reminding her of the occasion, but if anyone knew that Aunt Eliza had a problem with remembering things, it was me.

While Lily and Alice were busy fidgeting over each other’s hair, Marlene and Leanne were crowded in front of the bathroom mirror. Just as well, it would make my escape from our dorm a lot easier. It was much easier to slink out of a room when others were preoccupied. Pushing away from my bed, I shakily rose to my feet and crossed the short distance between my four poster and the door with a surprising amount of speed. Or maybe it was because my knees gave way halfway through and I fell into the door, which propelled it open.

Recovering from my clumsy movement, I stepped out of the dorm, letting the door click softly shut in my wake. It wasn’t like they were going to hear, anyway - they were all too busy asking for each other’s opinion on their choice of hairstyle. Shaking my head to myself, I traipsed down the stairs to the common room, which was buzzing with activity as well. Everywhere, students were standing on top of chairs, Summoning their belongings to them. One first year was knocked in the stomach with a heavy looking stack of books by a fourth year. The girl apologised to the boy and quickly resumed her previous spell work.

Somehow, someway, I made it out of the common room without a scratch on me. The halls were a great deal quieter, not to mention cooler, than the sweltering dormitory and the stickiness that hung about the common room like a second skin. Pushing my fringe away from my forehead, I began my trek down the seven flights of stairs, passing through the Entrance Hall, ducking through the double oak doors, and stepping out into the fresh air. Though it wasn’t exactly cool, it wasn’t blistering hot either. It was somewhere in between, a comfortable medium that I could be satisfied with.

Much to my surprise, there was hardly anyone on the grounds. A few of the more sensible students were sprawled out on the grass with their mates, no doubt making plans for the summer and such. I wish I could be as carefree as they looked. But when had I ever been carefree? It seemed like I was always worried about something, even if I didn’t need to be worrying about it. That was one thing I’d need to fix once I plunged myself feet first into the great unknown of the Adult World.

Circe, that sounds like I’m going to be making a porno or something. . .Merlin.

Instead of drifting down to the shores of the Black Lake, I situated myself in a somewhat awkward heap on the low garden wall that surrounded Professor Sprout’s personal garden. It was strictly a floral garden with flowers of all species. Some of them were familiar to me, some I’d seen growing in the garden in my backyard, and others were completely foreign. Many of them looked dangerous. If I wasn’t mistake, the one in the corner with the colourful beach umbrella shielding it from light, was an infantile Devil’s Snare.

Yikes. Wouldn’t want to get too close to that.

Scooting as far away as possible from the Devil’s Snare, I leaned back against the rough brick wall of the outer castle structure. It was rough against my back, but it was also cold, which I thought to be a bit odd. One would think that standing out in the hot sunshine would slowly heat up the rocks, but I was probably mistaken. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I let my head fall back against the stone and my eyes drifted closed to their own accord. I wasn’t all that tired, but for some reason, it didn’t matter. I wanted to enjoy the sounds of Hogwarts for what could possibly be the last time ever.

Don’t say that, Eleanor! Your children will come here for schooling, no doubt. And if you’re lucky, something bad might happen to them that would call you forth.

If I was lucky? No one wanted bad things to happen to their children - not even the ones that didn’t even exist yet! Maybe the Voice was finally cracking up.

I don’t know how long it was before I noticed that someone else was sitting beside me on the wall. It could’ve been hours or it could’ve been seconds. I found that it really didn’t matter, but when I finally did take notice, I jerked myself out of the peaceful semi-conscious state I’d managed to drift into.

Blinking what little amount of sleep that had gathered in my eyes away, I turned my gaze next to the person beside me. A small grin spread across my lips as I took in the dark hair, the extremely warm smile, and the familiar eyes staring back at me with curiosity.

“Er - hi,” I said awkwardly after several moments of intense silence. I didn’t like to be stared at so, well, closely.

“Hello,” he replied pleasantly. “How’re you?”

I shrugged. “Fine, I guess. You?”

“Contemplative,” was the simple answer.

I felt my brow furrow in confusion. Contemplative? What the hell was he contemplating? Licking my lips, I asked, “About what?”

It was his turn to shrug his broad shoulders. I watched the familiar motion with longing eyes, though I wasn’t entirely sure why. Perhaps it was because he’d performed the movement with such ease.

“I’m not sure. It’s a lot of things, really. Whether I’ve made a stupid decision following you out of the common room and sitting down to talk to you,” he said.

My eyebrows inched closer to my hairline. “You followed me out of the common room?” I repeated, more than a little incredulous.

He nodded. Again, in that carefree manner. “Yeah, I did.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little creepy?” I said tentatively.

He laughed and I was instantly reminded of melted chocolate. Warm chocolate drizzled over some food. It didn’t really matter what sort of food it was, just as long as it was drizzled over it. Maybe a few strawberries. . .or bananas. Chocolate covered bananas are actually really good.

“Perhaps,” he admitted. “Anyway. . .was it a stupid decision to follow you out here?”

His eyes bore into mine with such intensity, I was forced to look away. I could never meet his stare again, not as long as I lived. There were too many feelings that accompanied the simple gesture. It made me feel. . .I’m not quite sure. Uncomfortable in my own skin, yet oddly warm.

Warm. It seemed to be the only adjective I used to describe him now.

“Eleanor?” he pressed.

The gentle voice he used to say my name made me look back at him, at his face, which was still turned in my direction. His brows were knitted together, a small line creasing through the otherwise flawless expanse of his forehead. Several strands of hair hung in his face and I resisted the urge to reach, to push them away.

I was so busy staring at his face, I didn’t even realise he’d gotten so close to me. I could feel heat from his body being absorbed by mine, could feel the faint outline of his chest as he drew in breath after steady breath.

“I-I-I don’t know,” I stuttered foolishly, blushing furiously at the obvious effect he had on me, that his closeness had on me. “I g-g-guess it all depends on w-w-what you were hoping to accomplish.”

I tried to scoot away from him, but lo and behold, there was nowhere for me to move to. I had been backed into a corner and my only way out was by ploughing him down, trampling over his face, and hoping that he didn’t press charges in the aftermath for destroying his visage.

The familiar mouth twitched into an equally familiar grin, one that made some of the embers in my chest burst into full blown flames. Ut-oh, this could only spell one thing: trouble. “What d’you think I’m trying to accomplish?”

Again, I shrugged. “I’m not quite s-sure.”

He emitted an impatient sigh and before I duck out of the way, raised a hand toward my face, taking my chin in between his slim fingers. The tips of his fingers were smooth against my cheek as they danced across the length of my cheekbone. I tried not to shiver, knowing that I wasn’t supposed to be shivering at his touch. Finally, his fingertips stopped their wandering and he cupped my cheek in his palm, forcing me to stare into the eyes I didn’t want to look into. I knew what sort of things could happen with one little stare; I had not only heard the rumours, but experienced them myself.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally spoke. When he did speak, his voice was no higher than the faintest of whispers, sounding more like the wind lightly tickling the grass than anything else. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant sound, one that made every hair on my body stand on edge.

“I’ve been so stupid. So unbelievably daft for - for -,”

“For what?” I breathed.

He shook his head, his eyes drilling into mine. The intensity of his gaze had turned me into a block of frozen person, like a statute. I couldn’t move, even if I wanted to. “And worst yet is that I haven’t apologised for my actions and -,”

“But you don’t -,”

“Yes, I do, Eleanor! I need to apologise. I’m sorry. Really, I am. I’ve treated you like dung and you’ve done nothing but shown me absolute kindness,” he said.

“Oh yes, because lying to someone is really a way of showing them absolute kindness,” I remarked sarcastically, rolling my eyes for good measure.

When he chuckled lightly, his breath skittered across my collarbone. The skin was still damp with a minor amount of sweat, so the contact of semi-cool air against the dampness made me shiver. All I did in his presence was shiver, it seems.

“Anyway,” he began, impatiently brushing some hair out of his eyes. However, he didn’t break eye contact like I wished he would. My insides were goo and I was pretty sure if he kept staring at me, I would be, too. And I didn’t know if there were any spells that could reverse that. Hmmm, I’d have to ask Lily. “I figured I could - or rather, should make it up to you.”

Perplexed, I cocked my head to the side. “What do you mean-,”

His warm lips pressed against mine once again. I found all thoughts vanishing as soon as they were formed, disappearing into some empty part of the space/time continuum. But as quickly as the lips had touched mine, they left.

Blinking the surprise away, I said, “Oh. You meant that.”

His exuberant eyes paralleled the curious quirk on his mouth. The mouth that had just kissed me for the umpteenth time. The mouth that had haunted my dreams for months before it had actually bestowed any form of kissing upon me.

“Yeah,” he muttered. “I meant that.” We sat in a brief silence before, “So. . .what do you say?”

I grinned softly at him. “I think I might need further convincing. Kiss me again?”

And he did.

- - - - - -
Kiss me again, ‘cause only you can
Stop the S-s-stuttering.
Kiss me again, and easy
My S-su-su-suffering

- - - - - -


A/N: So, this is the end of ‘What It Is To Burn’. Cheesy, I know, but who doesn’t love a bit of cheese every now and then? I hope it was as satisfactory for you as it was for me. It’s been a long ride - nearly a year, actually - and I just wanted to say thank you to every single person who has read this story, and I give double the kudos to people who have reviewed. I thank you all so much. Honestly, without you guys, this story would’ve stopped a long time ago. So, here’s a huge shout out to everyone! Thank you all so bloody much!

If you’re fretting that this is the end (though many of you might be rejoicing like I am, saying things along the lines of ‘Thank God, that piece of shit is done with!’), fear not! There is a sequel of sorts in the works. I don’t know when it will be out, but I can assure you that much of the same crowd from this story will be in it! Until then, I tip my hat to you and offer you a bazillion thanks.

P.S. Don’t kill me for the ending!



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