Oh, all the voices that beg me to stand my ground -
Oh, all the voices that tell me to stay -
All representing the life that I'd planned around
Cecilia woke up the next morning still filled with turmoil. Fortunately they all had to get down to Hogsmeade to meet the train, so there was something else to occupy her mind instead of thoughts of Reid, death, and mistakes.
She rode in a carriage with Siobhan, who, in her usual irritating way, patted the invisible horses that pulled the carriages. Cecilia had never been able to see them, though Siobhan had always seen them and had been surprised first year to learn everyone else couldn't see them as well. She'd tried to give Cecilia a lecture on the animals once during fourth year, after she'd finally found out what they were, but unlike her best friend, Cecilia had little to no interest in magical creatures.
They rode in silence at first, taking in the beauty of the Hogwarts grounds and the forest as they headed toward Hogsmeade Station, then Siobhan said, “Have you decided what to do?”
Cecilia shrugged. “No. I don't know what to do. I still like Icarus. Sometimes I think I should ask him to take me back. And sometimes...”
Siobhan raised an eyebrow at her. “Yes?”
“Sometimes I just want to pour myself over Reid,” she whispered. “But he set me on fire. How can I want to kiss him when he ruined last year for me?”
Siobhan looked out over the rooftops of the village as they neared the station. “You know I love you, Cecilia. You're my best friend.”
“I love you too,” she said, startled. Siobhan never expressed any emotion but the desire to snog someone. Perhaps Professor Ampara's death had shaken new behaviour out of everyone.
“And I think it's impressive that you can be just as angry at him now as you were a year ago. I know he's a total jackass, but I think now... it's time to let it go.” Siobhan leaned over to her and gave her a brief hug.
Roddy Feltham was lurking nearby as they climbed out of the carriage. He waved at Siobhan, looking urgent.
Siobhan muttered something in Gaelic under her breath that was probably a swear word. “I'd better let him down gently,” she said to Cecilia then. “I'll be right back.”
“I'll get us a compartment. See you on the train.” Cecilia set off with her trunk toward the scarlet engine waiting with gentle puffs of steam rising from the funnel.
Molly and Arthur were standing on the platform with Hattie and Petula, looking as if they were waiting for someone. Cecilia was glad to see Reid wasn't with them, and decided to hurry on and get a compartment before he arrived.
“I'll go save us a spot, shall I?” she said with forced cheer, waving as she passed her friends.
“Where's Siobhan?” Molly called after her.
“She stopped to talk to Roddy, she's meeting me on the train.”
The train was filling up quickly, and Cecilia booted a lone third-year out of a compartment in the middle of the train. She knew she was abusing her powers as a prefect, but it got things done, and she was tired, so she didn't care. School was over for now anyway.
She sat alone in the compartment, staring out the window. The door opened and she turned, expecting to see Molly and Arthur, but Reid sauntered in, grinning at her, and threw himself down in the seat opposite her, sprawling out as if he owned the place.
Cecilia scowled at him. “Go away. I'm saving this compartment.”
He gave her another maddening grin. “It's a free country. I can sit here if I want. Besides, they're my friends too. I'm part of this group just as much as you are.”
Why couldn't he just leave her alone? She was so confused, her head ached when she thought of him, her feelings a mix of anger, embarrassment, lust, and something else she didn't want to name. He sat there across from her, looking as egotistical and self-assured as ever, and it made her so angry she wanted to hex him.
“Stop following me around!” she burst out. “Stop kissing me whenever no one's looking! Stop tormenting me! For the love, just leave me alone!”
“Never going to happen,” he said cheerfully.
“Why not?” she all but shrieked.
He gave her a serious look, and she felt her heart speed up, but this time not with frustration. She hadn't seen him look so serious since he'd sat his O.W.L.s.
“Because I really do love you, Cecilia,” he said quietly.
She stared at him for a long moment. The arrogance was gone from his face, his eyes were intense as they stared into hers, and she realized that he really did love her. And suddenly she didn't give a damn about the fireworks, Siobhan's voice echoing in her head, telling her to let it go. When she released the rage she'd held onto for over a year, she knew she could name the feeling she'd been avoiding.
She went to him, sliding into his lap as his arms went around her, and kissed him the way she'd been wanting to kiss him since Easter, since he'd kissed her for the first time in her mother's rose garden.
“Does this mean you're going to admit that you love me?” he murmured sometime later.
“I do love you,” she said, and kissed him again. “But you're a complete and utter prat.”
“I'm sorry I was a bitch,” she added.
“No you're not,” Reid said cheerfully, and she smiled at him.
He kissed her again, and it was better than all the times before because she'd said the words, and she didn't care now if someone interrupted them, didn't care if Amelia Bones and every prefect in the school gave them detention, she just wanted him. His hand was sliding up the outside of her thigh, under her skirt, squeezing her hip, when she heard a loud gasp and Petula's voice saying her name.
She looked up, and Reid's hand dropped down to her knee. She saw her friends, and his friends, all standing in the doorway to the compartment, looking shocked, except Siobhan, who stood at the back smirking at her over Hattie's shoulder. They were all staring at her, and she knew she should get off Reid's lap and invite them in; she'd been saving this compartment for them, after all. But she didn't want to stop touching Reid, didn't want to stop kissing him, so she told them all to bugger off, and Reid looked pleased as they left and she turned back to kiss him some more.
After a few minutes, he stopped kissing her long enough to say, “That was bloody brilliant, you know.”
She didn't want to talk. “Shut up, Reid.”
“Not going to tell me to go away again, are you?” He grinned; she knew that he was only teasing. His hands were around her waist, his fingertips rubbing circles on the bare skin where her shirt had come untucked. He knew full well she didn't want him to leave.
“Kiss me again,” she ordered him.
“You're so bossy,” he said, but he finally did as he was told.