Chapter 1 : Don't Ask Me
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A/N: The lyrics quoted in this song are from “And I Will Follow”, written by Jason Robert Brown.
Ask me something easier - a smile, a kiss…
Don't ask for faith when there's no great supply,
Don't ask for love when I'm just now beginning to feel it
And don't know quite why.
Easter holidays, 1967
Cecilia Fletcher woke with a start, and sat up quickly in her bed, looking around wildly. Everything was silent now, but something had woken her. Across the room on the spare bed, her best friend Siobhan Fitzgibbon was sound asleep, nothing visible above the fluffy down blanket except a cloud of rusty brown curls on her pillow. Cecilia's eyes scanned the room, but nothing seemed out of place.
She jumped then at the sound of something hitting her window. Her hand flew to her bedside table, her fingers wrapped around her wand and she climbed out of bed with it trained on the window. She drew back the edge of the curtain slowly and saw a familiar figure standing on the ground below her window.
Her fingers twitched on her wand, but she didn't lower it, keeping it aimed steadily at the dark outline below. She opened the window with her other hand and leaned out.
“What do you want?”
“Just to talk. Will you come down?”
“What is there to talk about?” she demanded, her wand still trained on him.
“I guess you'll have to come down and find out,” he said, and strolled away into her mother's rose garden.
Cecilia closed the window and threw on a robe over the tee shirt and shorts she wore as pyjamas. She kept her wand in her hand as she slipped her feet into her shoes and went downstairs and out the back door, ready to hex Reid Akins into a jelly.
How dare he show up at her house after what he'd done yesterday! He'd caused a huge row between her and her boyfriend, Icarus Teague, the Gryffindor Keeper. She'd been afraid that Icarus would chuck her, and then she really would have killed Reid.
He was standing now in her backyard, leaning over one of her mother's prized rosebushes, touching a long finger to the petals of a dying flower. She heaved a sigh as she stomped over to him, and he looked up at her with his usual cocky grin.
She regarded him angrily. He was so handsome. And such a complete git. Why did he have to be so handsome? And funny and smart... And he'd set her on fire. She wasn't sure she'd ever stop being angry about that. She'd spent a month last year with no eyebrows thanks to him. Did he think showing up in her backyard would change anything?
“What do you want, then?” she demanded, her wand pointed at him.
He held up his hands as if to show he was unarmed. “I just wanted to talk to you.”
“It's the middle of the night, and I hate you,” she snapped. “Why would you think I'd come down to talk to you?”
He gave her a maddening grin. “You did, though, didn't you?”
She stared at him for a moment. She had come down. Why had she come down? Oh yes, hexing him. She held up her wand a bit higher, aiming it at his chest, but he only smiled, infuriating her further. She took a deep breath to calm herself.
“I tried to be nice to you because it was bothering Siobhan, and what did you do? You wrote horrible things about me all over the common room! How can you think I would keep being nice to you? It's your own stupid fault, you arrogant bastard.”
He was still smiling. “Writing 'I love Cecilia Fletcher' isn't horrible.”
“It is when I have a boyfriend!”
He shrugged, but his eyes narrowed and his face pinched a little in annoyance. “He can't stick around forever.”
“How did you even get here?” she demanded, gesturing at her backyard with her free hand.
“You're not of age!”
Reid shrugged. Obviously he was just as unconcerned about breaking wizarding laws as he was about breaking school rules. It was one of the many reasons she disliked him.
She raked a hand through her hair and lowered her wand a little. “What were you thinking, drawing all over the common room? Icarus was so angry-”
He gave her a maddening grin. “I couldn't give a rat's fart what Icarus thinks, Cecilia.”
She stomped her foot. “He's my boyfriend! Why can't you understand? I just want you to leave me alone! I won't forgive you for what you did to me, I don't want to have anything to do with you-”
“Yes, you do.”
“No I don't!” She wanted to strangle him, to hex that overly confident smirk off his face. She took another deep breath and tried to control herself, putting her wand in her pocket to remove the temptation to transfigure him into a slug and stomp him underfoot. “Look, I'll stop being mean to you if you'll just leave me alone. Stop bothering me at school, stop trying to talk to me, just stop.”
“No,” Reid said simply.
She gaped at him for a second. “What do you mean, no?”
“I mean no, I'm not going to leave you alone. You should forgive me, and you should go out with me.”
“Forgive you for setting me on fire? In the middle of the corridor, in front of the whole school? I'm lucky I didn't get any scars. And you think I should forgive you, just like that?” She gave him an incredulous look. How could he be so stupid?
“Obviously not just like that, you've been mad at me for over a year now,” he said, looking disgruntled.
“Because you set me on fire, you stupid prat!”
“It was an accident!” he roared, losing control at last. It was oddly satisfying to see. “I told you it was a bloody accident! It wasn't supposed to do that, it was supposed to spell out your name in fireworks and then I would ask you out. I was fifteen and it sounded like a good idea at the time, for God's sake, Cecilia, get over it!”
She closed her hands into fists to keep from throttling him right there in her mother's roses. “I did get over it,” she bit out. “I'm going out with Icarus. I've been having a good time for the past two months. I thought you were finally going to leave me alone, and then you go and act like an idiot again.”
“I wasn't acting like an idiot.”
“You wrote 'I love Cecilia Fletcher' all over the common room!”
“Why do you think that's idiotic?”
“Because I already have a boyfriend!” she yelled.
“It should be me,” he muttered, looking surly. “I should be your boyfriend.”
If there had been a wall handy, Cecilia would have pounded her head against it. “Reid, for the love, just go away and leave me alone before I hex you again. I can't stand you. I'm not going to go out with you. I think you're a git. Go away.”
Reid raked a hand through his hair in frustration. “Why can't you just stop being a damned bitch and forgive me?”
This was going a little too far. She pulled her hand back and slapped him hard across the face.
He looked completely stunned, staring at her in shock for a moment, then both of them moved at the same time, and suddenly they were glued together, kissing passionately.
“I hate you,” Cecilia mumbled against his mouth.
“You love me.”
Her breath came out in a moan, and she felt his hands running over her back and hips as his lips slid down her neck, and then she remembered she was in her parents' backyard. She wrenched herself away from him, wondering what the hell was wrong with her.
“I have to get back inside – Siobhan will wonder where I am if she wakes up-”
“Not yet,” he said, grabbing her waist to pull her closer, trying to kiss her again.
Cecilia put a hand on his face and shoved him away. “Get out of here, Reid. Leave me alone. Don't talk to me at Hogwarts, all right? I'm still going out with Icarus.”
Reid grinned. “You can deny it all you want, but you love me, Cecilia Fletcher.”
“No, I don't. You're a horrible, horrible boy, and I hate you.” She pressed up against him and kissed him again, and his hands tangled in her hair, but after a moment she pushed him away again and ran up to the house without looking back. She didn't stop until she was back in her room, and threw herself onto her bed.
Siobhan was still stretched out in the other bed, one leg poking out from under the covers and dangling off the edge of the mattress. She didn't seem to have woken up and seen them kissing in the rose garden, or she'd surely be sitting up waiting to demand whether Cecilia had lost her mind, and ask how the snogging had been.
Cecilia put her hands over her face and let out a little groan. What was I thinking?
How could she just waltz back into school and go back to Icarus after she'd kissed Reid – and she wanted to kiss him again, oh it had been wonderful, she didn't think she could even sleep now after that. It wasn't anything like Icarus's kisses; he was good, but kissing Reid made her want to do things she'd only read about in the trashy novels that her friend Molly Prewett loved.
She rubbed her eyes, then pounded her pillow into shape with a fist, and tried not to think about Reid's kisses, and how his hands felt on her body.
She was half-hoping that Reid would listen to her and give up, but Cecilia knew better than to expect it. She wasn't at all surprised when she arrived back at school after Easter to find Reid waiting in the common room, sitting on the sofa in front of the fireplace with Molly and Arthur, who were mooning over each other in a nauseating fashion as usual. Reid looked up at her the moment she walked through the portrait hole, and she felt her colour rise, but she put her chin in the air and started for her dormitory. He grinned at her and mouthed 'you love me' as she passed, the nerve of him!
Siobhan followed her up the stairs, and as they entered their empty dormitory, she grinned annoyingly at her best friend.
“What?” Cecilia snapped.
“I thought you were being nice to him now,” Siobhan said, raising one eyebrow.
“I changed my mind. I hate him. Do you know what he did to me last year?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Siobhan set her things down carelessly on her bed where Hattie Habbershaw, their fellow sixth-year and Molly's best friend, would probably put them away for her later, and went back down the stairs, no doubt to find Andrew. Cecilia set her bag down on her bed and hurried after her best friend. She wanted to find Icarus and see if he could make her forget Reid's kisses.
Icarus was down at the Quidditch pitch, of course. He was always at the Quidditch pitch, him and the team. Cecilia had never cared much about Quidditch, or any sport for that matter. Siobhan was fond of it, and Petula got very obsessive, but Cecilia had only ever gone to the matches to keep Siobhan company and sometimes to ogle the players. But now she was going out with a Quidditch player, she thought she'd better attend all the matches to support him. He was awfully cute in his uniform, and he liked her to visit the team practices too.
Icarus smiled happily when he caught sight of her, waving her onto the pitch, where he stood with his broom in one hand, talking to Thaddeus Peabody, who was swinging a beater's bat absently as they chatted. Cecilia had never quite understood what Molly saw in Thad, who was nice enough, if a little vacant, and completely useless as a fellow prefect. Arthur was definitely an improvement, though he wasn't as good-looking as Thad.
“Hi Cecilia,” Thad called to her as she approached. Icarus swung her into his arms and planted a brief kiss on her cheek, and she smiled at him.
“Hi boys. How was practice today?”
“Not great,” Icarus admitted. “Thad here got Francine with a Bludger by mistake. Broke her nose.”
Cecilia winced. “Poor thing.”
“I was aiming for Andrew,” Thad said, looking sheepish. “He kept almost knocking Icarus off his broom and missing the rings altogether. Everyone's aim was off today.”
“Must be something in the air,” Cecilia said. “Maybe next time will be better.”
She waited outside the locker room while Icarus cleaned up and changed, and when he finally emerged, they returned to the castle hand-in-hand, detouring through the snow-dusted greenhouses for a quick snog. Icarus's kisses were as sweet as ever, but they didn't wipe the memory of Reid from her mind.
“How was your holiday?” Icarus asked as they made their way up to Gryffindor tower a short time later.
“It was all right.”
“Anything interesting happen?”
Cecilia paused for a moment before answering. Telling him about Reid's visit would only make him angry, and though it would be very satisfying to see him take a broomstick and thrash Reid within an inch of his life, she didn't want to hurt Icarus and wasn't sure she could tell him without revealing too much about her reaction to Reid's kisses. “Nothing at all,” she said, looping her arm through his.
She tried to avoid Reid, but it proved impossible to do. He was in all of her classes. She couldn't escape him. He sent little folded paper animals onto her desk when he should have been paying attention, and she didn't open them, she knew what they would say and she didn't want to see it. He was in the common room every time she was. When she went to the library, he turned up. He was everywhere she tried to go. There was no respite except when hiding in her dormitory, and Cecilia was not going to do that.
He was driving her mad, though.
A few days after returning from the Easter holiday, she was packing up after a late-night Astronomy lesson when her telescope quite suddenly fell to pieces. She drew her wand to repair it, but the spell didn't work. The rest of the small class shuffled past her down the stairs from the tower, heading down to bed, and she looked up from picking up the pieces of her telescope to see Reid had stayed behind. They were alone now on top of the tower, with the echoes of the other students fading as they disappeared into the castle.
“You did this, I know you did,” she said accusingly, shaking a telescope lens at him.
“Yeah, I did,” he admitted shamelessly. “Now we're all alone up here.”
“You broke my telescope, you stupid git!”
“I'll fix it for you, if you kiss me.”
She felt her cheeks flush hot with anger. How dare he! She thought of all the curse words she'd learned from Siobhan over the years, and had to draw in a ragged breath to stop herself. “Go away, Reid,” she said through gritted teeth. “Icarus is waiting for me downstairs.”
He grinned at her. “Gonna slap me again?”
She remembered what had happened the last time she'd slapped him. “No. You're going to go down the stairs before I push you off the tower.”
He pointed his wand at her telescope and it sprang back together. She stepped forward to pick it up, and he wrapped an arm around her waist and drew her close, kissing her.
She tried to push him away. “Five points from Gryffindor,” she said.
He grinned and kissed her again.
“I hate you,” Cecilia said against his lips. “Ten points.”
“I love you, Cecilia.”
“Twenty points. Let go of me.”
“You're abusing your power as a prefect,” he said, looking completely unconcerned. “You can't take points from me for kissing you.”
He kissed her again, more thoroughly this time, and she forgot about points, forgot about Icarus waiting for her somewhere down in the castle, and swayed against Reid, clinging to his shoulders. The boy was a complete and utter pillock, but he sure knew how to kiss.
Reality came back after a moment, and she shoved him away, took another five points from him, snatched up her telescope and ran down the stairs, leaving him laughing on top of the Astronomy Tower, alone.