Chapter 4 : Happy New Year
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Chapter Image by Ariana_tithe @ TDA
I was gently awoken from my peaceful slumber by a huge lump (alright, petite girl) bouncing up and down on my bed.
Evidently she didn’t care that the majority of her landings were on bony legs rather
than bouncy mattress. Well I bloody did.
“Lily Evans you get off me this second!” I roared, the effect slightly ruined by my croaky morning voice.
She laughed lightly, clearly not in the least bit worried and landed neatly on the edge of my bed. Grr, she looked perfect. Her perfect sheet of red hair unruffled even from the… erm, bouncing… her unblemished white skin perfect and her pink lips parted in
a radiant smile.
“Morning time! Lily’s here so time to wake up!” She sang.
I was not in the mood.
“Gnurf.” I grunted in reply, not sitting up.
“My sweet angel.” She commented, her eyes sweeping around the room critically,
“Bloody hell, what happened? Did a bomb hit?”
I looked around in surprise, as if I hadn’t spent the last entire week in this room alone, noticing for the first time the complete state it was in. The house elves must have done their best, bless them - my rubbish had been cleared away and my laundry done - but the pile of clean clothes had been kicked about the room in frustration, and there were various books, magazines and rolls of parchment strewn around my bed from futile attempts to distract myself.
“You’ve even done your homework?” Lily exclaimed, picking up one of the rolls of parchment and examining it. “Deb, this doesn’t have to be in until next Thursday! Are you alright?” Her eyes flicked suspiciously from me to the three foot essay she was holding.
Damn it, I knew I’d gone too far.
“I… wanted to get it done before you got back… so we could hang out…” I tried.
Lily wasn’t buying it. Probably because she’d been trying to get me to do my homework on the night that it was issued for the last… oh, only the last five and a half years. And I never had. I can’t help it, I’m just programmed that way.
“Did you and Sirius fall out?” She asked, scrutinizing my face.
“What? No, what? Why would you say that?” I squawked, nearly falling off the bed in an entirely casual way.
“Well why else would you have barricaded yourself in your dorm for what looks like a week -” What was she, psychic?! “- and even do your homework?”
Fortunately for me she was facing away from me, picking up more of the evidence of my boredom and sorting them into neat piles. She definitely had OCD tendencies. But at least she didn’t see the look of terror on my face before I carefully arranged it to look not-like-I’d-had-sex-with-a-slag.
Breathe, my helpful brain told me, She doesn’t know, she thinks it’s just one of the million pathetic rows you’ve had before.
And try not to lie too much, you know you’re bloody awful at it.
I can’t tell the pissing truth! Aaaargh…
“Oh… erm, yeah, it was just that he was acting all weird on Christmas Eve…”
Understatement of the year, yes, but true.
“He was probably just feeling down about his family and stuff,” She nodded, waiting for me to continue.
Alright Lily, no need to be the voice of fucking reason, he’s the bad guy here!
“Yeah… but then he…” For the love of Merlin, think of something! “… broke my… " Don’t you dare say heart! “…broomstick.”
“He broke your broomstick?”
“So you’ve ignored him all week?”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit much?”
Compared to the eternity that I’m planning on avoiding him for, no.
“Right.” Lily dismissed the topic, “So anyway, do you want your Christmas present or what?”
She whipped a large, squashy looking present out from a carrier bag at her feet, grinning. She did have a present for me! She wasn’t an awful friend! It better not be a Chocolate Fucking Frog…
“You thought I didn’t get you anything, didn’t you?” Lily accused, but she was smiling.
She laughed her sunny, carefree laugh and dropped it in my lap.
“Well, open it then!”
I unwrapped it quickly, then slowly unfolded the sparkling material ominously.
“Do you like it?” Lily was bouncing up and down again, beaming.
I shook out the flimsy material.
“You got me a dress?”
It was a deep blue silk, shimmering different shades in the morning – or more like afternoon – light. Absolutely beautiful.
“Yes, I thought it would come in useful for tonight, and I know you don’t usually wear dressy things but it was so pretty and I thought it would match your eyes…”
“Lil, my eyes are hazel… wait, what? Tonight?”
“Tonight! The New Years Eve party! Remember?”
It all came flooding back. The reason Lily, and probably the rest of the sixth and seventh years now I thought about it, were back early. The reason Freddie and Marlene ultimately realised that they were meant for each other through spending so much time planning it.
It had been planned for months, Freddie and Marlene’s first idea as Head Boy and Girl – I know, it makes me want to puke as well. The New Years Eve party in Hogsmeade. I don’t know how they managed to get permission for it but I’d hazard a guess that it was Marlene’s preppy, charming smile and Freddie’s ability to argue a point to death. Between them, they’d managed to persuade Dumbledore and the owners of the Three Broomsticks to let them host a party of hyped-up students until the early hours of the morning, somehow claiming it was within their duties as Heads. If it was anyone else I wouldn’t have believed it, but this was Freddie. My brother could do anything.
“Don’t worry,” Lily was smiling smugly, “I won’t tell Freddie you forgot.”
“I’m going to freeze.” I was in front of the full length mirror in Lily’s dorm. We’d argued for far too long about where we were getting ready. If it were anyone else but Lily I would have won the argument (it must be a McKinnon thing… Freddie and I like to think it shows dedication… others call it stubbornness) but Lily has that prefect ability to make you feel like a little kid. Her precise words were “Stop being so fucking childish, you have to see him at some point.”
“It’s worth it,” Lily straightened her little black dress and surveyed her faultless reflection. She turned to me and adjusted my own dress. It was truly gorgeous; floaty, shimmery material that fit me perfectly. But I was going to freeze, and everyone knows goose pimples and blue lips aren’t attractive.
“Can’t I just bring a jumper or something?” Or stay behind altogether. I’m not fussy.
“If you’re referring to this,” She picked up my Wasps hoody between two fingers as if it’s unfashionable colouring was going to infect her, “Absolutely not.”
“I just don’t want to be associated with someone who is willing to wear an enormous and disgusting sweatshirt to a party.” She grinned, “Come on, beautiful,”
“Yep. Everyone else left ages ago. I was just dawdling to avoid Potter. Did you hear what he got me for Christmas? A Fanged Geranium. Who in their right mind gives someone a biting plant for a gift?”
“Did you get him anything?”
“Of course not! I don’t know why he even got me anything, but that? Seriously…”
While I was half listening to Lily’s moans and groans about James as we made our way down to the lane, I felt inwardly guilty that I hadn’t had the chance to give Sirius his present. Then immediately felt angry at myself for feeling guilty. Like he deserved a gift after ruining everything like the ruining idiot he was. Actually, I stifled a snort, he probably forgot to get me anything and counted that incident as a thoughtful gift. It wouldn’t surprise me, the boy had balls for brains.
“You’re not really that cold are you?” Lily asked, as we turned onto the lane down to the magical village and were hit by a chilly breeze. I realised I was shivering violently.
“Uh, yeah, I guess…”
I wasn’t, actually. Sure, it wasn’t exactly hot, but that shiver was more in anticipation of the party. I’ve never been one for huge crowds anyway, they trigger that ‘flight’ instinct in me more than anything else, but it was more who would be at the party. I hoped, foolishly, that he’d decided to stay at home… Maybe he wanted to avoid me as much as I’d wanted to avoid him?
Unfortunately that was a silly idea on two counts. One, the hammering on the Ravenclaw common room door every day for the last week that I’d drowned out by playing music at deafening volumes. That indicated that he wasn’t as such avoiding me. But, on a more positive note, he hadn’t tried all that hard to talk to me, because there were other ways into the common room or my dorm that I knew he knew. And he hadn’t done it. Didn’t that indicate that he maybe was avoiding me just a little bit? I hoped so.
The second count was more straightforward. This was a party. Sirius was… Sirius. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a party that he hasn’t made an appearance at. Even ones where he wasn’t invited. Especially ones where he wasn’t invited.
My insides twisted in dread as we drew nearer the fairy lights that covered the local pub, the dull thump of the music emitting from inside seemed to be causing my stomach to pulse at the same tempo.
I didn’t know what I was looking forward to least – acting ‘normal’ around James and Lily or Sirius trying to talk to me again.
God help me.
“Deb, it’s a party, not the gates of hell.” Lily rolled her eyes at my expression as we neared the door. She smiled and waved at the students hanging around outside as they said their hellos. “You’re supposed to enjoy yourself.”
“I know. I am. I mean I will. I mean -”
Lily laughed again. “You’d think you’d be used to it after all the after-match parties.”
“Because you’re the centre of attention?”
No. It was because the team was the centre of attention and I fit in with them easily and had a solid group around me, shielding and distracting me from the crowd. I didn’t mind being in a crowd as long as I was in a group; it made me forget how packed in everyone was. Usually that group would either be my team or Lily, James and Sirius, but considering everything - including how annoyed Lily was that James had sent her a vicious plant – it looked like our group would be a little broken up tonight.
I pulled a face at Lily and pushed open the door.
A blast of warmth, music, chattering and a smoky, woody smell washed over us and I felt a thrill of panic mixed with relief. The room was packed with people shouting to be heard over the throbbing music, laughing with each other, jostling at the bar and dancing as best they could when squeezed back to back.
The panic was due to the crowds. The relief was due to the crowds – maybe we wouldn’t even see him.
I turned and grinned at Lily who looked amused at my change of mood and let me drag her towards the bar.
I slipped through a small gap in the crowd that opened up, an advantage of being a fairly slim girl, and immediately tripped over a foot onto the person in front of me.
“Fuck!” I swore loudly, trying to rub my throbbing toe. There wasn’t even enough room to bend over.
“Language, Little McKinnon!” A booming laugh came from the person I’d fallen into and a heavy arm clapped around my shoulders.
“Hey, Ro,” I smiled sweetly at the victim of my little fall; my brothers best friend, Rowan Wilson.
“Don’t try an act sweet with me, Miss! I’m going to have to tell my mate about his foul-mouthed little sister. It’s my duty as a friend.”
“I’m surprised you’re not together right now actually,” I said, looking around my confined space, “Marlene taken your place?” I grinned teasingly.
“Terrible isn’t it?” He grimaced but with a sparkle in his eyes. “But I’m fine now that I have you for company, Little Deb. Come and see the team, we’re over there… no, hang on, where are my manners? I’ll buy you a drink first. Hey Lily, drink?”
“Hi, Rowan, no I’m fine thanks. I’m just about to dash off for a minute. Deb, I’m just going to go and see Mary and Alice,” Lily said, from behind me, “Meet you in a bit,” And she disappeared into the crowd. Lily liked Ro and the rest of my team mates enough, but I could see that she felt a little out of place with them, just as I did when she was with her dorm mates.
“All the better for my wallet,” Ro grinned as Lily retreated, knocking the two people ahead of him in the queue to the side as if they were paper dolls. They looked up at him in indignation but started in recognition of his huge form. I could see why. Ro, on land, was a frightening sight. His shoulders were at least twice the width of mine and his neck the size of my waist. By all rights, his broom shouldn’t even leave the ground, but when he was in the air he transformed into an agile, graceful athlete with strength to match an entire team. An unusual trait as a chaser but he worked well beside Freddie and me, making up for my lack of strength with plenty to spare.
“Now, what’s the most alcoholic drink I can get you without Freddie cheerfully beating me to death?”
“I’m fine with a butterbeer for now, I’m still frozen from outside,” I told him, and he rolled his eyes at my feeble choice. “We’re not all twenty stone bruisers you know!” I added in protest.
“We’ll train you yet.” Ro took the tray of drinks he’d ordered and led the way forcefully through the crowd to the booth full of Quidditch players, my team.
“Took your bloody time, Wilson!” Oscar Dunhill, or Oz to us, reprimanded. Even on a night out he still played the role of Captain. Like Ro, Oz was pretty scary when you first met him, although this time not due to size, but due to his loud mouth. When we were on the pitch you could hear him from the opposite side, usually making sharp, cynical comments about how awfully we were playing, and not looking for the snitch like he was supposed to. Extremely hard to get a compliment out of Oz; even when we won the cup last year he reckoned we could have won by a greater margin if Freddie, Ro and me put in more effort.
“Bloody quicker than any of you gits could have been,” Ro challenged, but interrupted the spirited retorts from the table of competitive males, adding, “And I get a bonus for finding me a Little McKinnon.”
I smiled at the various greetings of “Hey, Little McKinnon,” or “Little Deb,”. Being one of only two females in a team of rowdy, energetic males who liked to refer to each other by their surnames, I was given the stupid nickname to distinguish between me and my brother.
“Thank God you’re here,” Londy Nara, my girl friend of the team, said, “Save me from all the testosterone, it’s making me gag.” As if she was really all that bothered. Londy spent the majority of her time with the boys and fit in with them better than if she was one herself. She was squeezed between Leo Blakely, her fellow Beater, and our quiet but perceptive Keeper, Phil Simpson.
They were all shoved along, squashed up even more as Ro made room for himself, shouting complaints and throwing punches that he probably didn’t even feel. He ushered me in before him so that I was crushed between him and Oz. Great, massive bulk on one side and The Voice on the other.
“At least we have one McKinnon with us anyway,” Oz frowned, “I was hoping to discuss the game plan for Slytherin -”
He was quickly shouted down.
“Oz, that’s not till March -”
“Give us a break -”
“We’re at a sodding party for crying out loud!” That was Londy. She considered herself the spokesperson for unfair treatment by our sometimes all-too-focused Captain. I couldn’t remember the last time we’d gotten through a practise without them bawling their heads of at each other. Oz may have the volume but when Londy got mad her voice rose to sometimes unintelligible pitches that left the boys running from the pitch clutching their ears.
“I know it’s a party Nara, I’m not thick. But think, will the Slytherins be talking tactics yet? No, because they’re one step up from a gang of trolls. So we’ll have the advantage -”
“I think having a collective IQ of over fifty gives us a natural advantage, mate.” Ro chuckled. I laughed along with him before stopping instantly at one of Oz’s death glares. Sadly he was serious.
“Get that firewhisky down you, son!” Blakely knocked the glass towards Oz and the rest of us took advantage of this distraction and encouraged him more loudly than necessary, to get rid of the ridiculous talk of tactics. We were having to yell to hear each other over the music anyway, and I was starting to get a headache from sitting next to Oz.
“Alright, alright,” Oz actually laughed after downing the firewhisky. I jumped in shock at the unfamiliar sound and hit my head on Ro’s chin. “I can see that now’s not the best time. Especially as Deb’s little mate is looking in our direction…”
I didn’t even have to turn my head to see that it would be James. Oz’s feeling towards James as a rival Captain hadn’t been neutral since the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw match earlier in the year, in which they beat us by one hundred and fifty points. Even though it was an evenly matched game he hadn’t forgiven James for destroying his precious winning streak.
But I did look, automatically.
And even in the second that my head was turning I knew that I shouldn’t. I was too slow to make the connection between ‘James’ and ‘party’ and…
Oz was wrong. It wasn’t James doing the staring. My eyes locked onto Sirius’ before I could do anything to stop them. It must have only been for a few seconds but in that time all I could see was the harsh resentment reflected in his eyes; they looked a smouldering black in the dimly lit room. I must have looked like a startled deer myself, and still slightly dazed from hitting my head on Ro’s bony jaw. Then a flicker of something like pain seemed to pass over his face before he dragged his eyes back to James, who was still yapping away. I saw him open his mouth to reply to something just as I became aware that Ro was ruffling my hair.
“Bloody hell, Little Deb, are you concussed? That was some head-butt…” He pretended to rub his chin in pain but it was probably only a minor irritation to him. I forced myself to laugh and stick my tongue out at him, but all the time I was aware of the duo across the room. James had turned to look at me in curiosity before the two of them disappeared into the swarm of bobbing to the music.
He must have told James. Why else would they be having an intense conversation in the middle of a party? Why else would James look at me like that?
I became detached from the joking around the table as I pondered in horror. What had he told them? Where had they gone? Were they going to tell Lily? Lily…
“’Scuse me,” I nudged Ro to get out of the booth. He looked at me enquiringly but let me past. “I’ve just… I’m… I just need to find Lily…”
I darted into the crowd, holding my breath and fighting the urge to get the hell out of there. I couldn’t see the give-away redhead anywhere. I pushed past people without pausing to apologise, only concentrating on finding my friend.
It shocked me to suddenly be caught by the arm and pulled into a hug. For a few seconds I didn’t recognise the soft honey-coloured hair that was swung into my face until I heard her voice.
“Debbie! We’ve been looking for you everywhere, where have you been? Freddie? Freddie, she’s here!” Marlene. She towed me along through the crowd to where my brother was standing uncomfortably with a couple of Marlene’s friends.
“Did you have a good Christmas? Did you like our present? I chose the bracelet myself, it was just so you…”
I held up my wrist to show her that I did indeed like the bangle, as I was currently wearing it, and also to stop the flow of questions tumbling from Marlene’s mouth. She was the sort of person who was sincerely interested in everything you said and did, especially her friends. And, since she’d been with Freddie she’d been determined that we were now the best of friends too. Her bubbly personality was usually infectious, but tonight I just wasn’t in the mood.
“Oh it looks just right! And I love your dress, the colour suits you perfectly!”
“Thanks, Marles, you look… beautiful,” She did. When she was with Freddie, her happiness made her look even more radiant that usual, and her sincere smile made her face glow.
“Oh you’re so sweet! Are you having fun? I can’t believe it’s actually happening tonight after all our planning…” She linked her arm through Freddie’s and looked adoringly at him. He smiled apologetically at me.
“Alright, let her breathe, Marles,” He kissed her cheek. I felt slightly ill in their presence. They were without a doubt the soppiest couple ever. Not what I needed right now.
“It’s amazing, I don’t know how you did it,” I said truthfully, “Everyone seems to be having fun and stuff…” It was a feeble answer, but I was still looking around for Lily.
“Are you ok, Deb?” Freddie looked concerned, “I saw you with Ro, did he buy you a drink? Was it firewhisky? I told him -”
“No, no, he got me a butterbeer, don’t be stupid. I’m just looking for Lily.”
“Oh we saw her just a minute ago,” Marlene answered, “She was with that Potter boy, she didn’t look very happy…”
They’d told Lily too. My night couldn’t get any worse. I may as well run away to the mountains and start my life as a hermit now. This should be a lesson to everyone – never sleep with a slag. It makes you a slag too. Or, just never have sex. Just to be safe.
No, for once in my life I was going to have to face it straight on. By my self. Deal with it.
I quickly made excuses to Freddie and Marlene and picked my way across the room, a new determination and bravery born in me.
Then I saw them.
The three of them.
My newfound determination dwindled but I strode towards them as if I wasn’t a huge coward (ha).
“It’s OK, the party can start now, Debbie’s here.” I announced.
What? That was the best my brain could come up with? I should have thought of something before I came over. Some sort of strategy at least, whether to lie or tell the truth, a tactic… Oh bloody hell, now I sounded like Oz.
They were looking at me blankly.
“Erm, hi,” I said, more normally. Were they looking at me in a ‘what-a-stupid-slut’ kind of way? I really couldn’t tell. Mainly because I was looking at the floor.
“Debbie! Tell him! Tell him it’s a ridiculous idea to get someone a biting plant for a present!” Lily practically shrieked, grabbing my hand in a way that said ‘Oi best friend, make yourself useful’. Not a way that said ‘I know that you’ve had sex.’
My breath caught and I dared look up at her face. Infuriated. But not with me.
She can’t know.
If she would have known, she would have been screeching at me, rather than James.
My mouth blurted out some, non-biased comment about how it was a silly idea but maybe it was the thought that counted. The usual thing that I’d say to placate Lily but stick up for James.
I was confused. Why hadn’t they told her? It was really hard to understand what was going on whilst looking down at the floor and I was just about to pluck up the courage to look up when Lily, however accidentally, dropped me in it.
“Potter, let’s go and get a drink,” She declared, out of the blue.
“Wh… what?” Without even looking at James I could imagine his look of bewilderment but delight.
“Come on. Let’s leave these two to make up. It’s silly to fight over a broken broomstick.” She was physically dragging him away, as he seemed to be frozen in shock.
“Does this mean you forgive me?” he asked, hopefully, recovering quickly enough and bounding after her.
I looked up just in time to see Lily push him in the general direction of the bar and then more people moved to obscure my view.
Thanks Lily, just what I needed. To be left alone with him.
“Broken broomstick?” Sirius asked, to my still bowed head, with laughter in his voice.
“Uh, yeah,” I managed, “If Lily asks, you broke it so I’m mad at you.”
The tension was creeping in again, making me numb. Then I remembered why I’d gone looking for them in the first place.
“You told James didn’t you.” I accused, my aggravation giving me the courage to look up at him.
His smooth complexion coloured just a tiny bit, but enough to let me know that he’d blabbed.
“No. Not exactly,” He said, “I just said… I just told him…”
Bloody hell, I thought I dithered. For once I was more or less in control and he was the one who couldn’t come out with a coherent sentence.
“Told him what?” I asked, impatiently.
“Look, it doesn’t matter. We need to talk.”
Talk? Again? No we don’t you idiot, we sorted it out. We did! So say no.
What? Where did that come from? I think we established that the last thing I wanted was to talk.
“Not now. They’re coming back over. Later…”
“So you’re friends again now?” Lily asked, popping up beside me and linking my arm. James appeared behind her, his shirt sopping wet. I raised an eyebrow at it but the rejected look on his face and Lily’s carefully straight face said it all. Poor kid.
“Good.” She smiled, as if everything was all settled. I wish. “In, that case, we’ll catch you later guys, need some girl time.”
“Potter got too close?” I asked, as she pressed a shot glass into my hand and pulled me into the middle of the makeshift dance floor.
“He got the wrong idea. Thought ‘let’s go get a drink’ could be translated to ‘I want you to kiss me’.”
I laughed. At least things hadn’t changed between Lily and James.
“Here’s to stupid boys.” She clacked her glass with mine and knocked it back, gesturing for me to do the same.
“Eurgh.” I pulled a face at the foul-tasting alcohol. “I don’t even want to know what that was.”
“Sure.” I would have agreed to anything really, to get me out of the crammed dance floor. But funnily enough, three shots later I found myself back there, and really not caring. Lily’s ‘toasts’ were increasing in emotional content each time, the latest being ‘Here’s to best friends!’ in a slightly hysterical voice.
Although I was feeling the effects enough to not be bothered by the crowds anymore, I wasn’t quite so pissed as Lily. Sober enough, anyway, to feel guilty at her last toast. Best friends? Some best friend I was, unable to bring myself to tell her about the hideous mistake I’d made. Lily and I told each other everything. She was the only person other than Freddie that I could talk to about my childhood, and now I couldn’t tell her this, relatively trivial problem?
But after a while, I forgot about that too. Lily and I were joined by Marlene and her friends, for once she wasn’t joined at the hip to Freddie, and we actually did have some ‘girl time’. And I really did have fun.
Would have been more fun if I could get rid of the nagging reminder that I had agreed (why?) to Talk later. When even was ‘later’?
But to rid myself of this feeling I threw myself into the dancing, shouting and laughing even more than I normally would.
It was announced that it was five minutes until midnight before I realised that the hours had past at all. Everyone was at different stages of drunkenness. Lily was still at the stage of emotional exclamations of love for us all, and had recently been joined by Marlene.
“Debbie!” She had her arms around my shoulders, “I’m so glad that we’ve become friends! I love your brother so much, and now I’ve found you!”
“Me too, Marles!” I shouted back, “I’m so happy for you and Freddie, I really am!”
“Oh, Debbie!” I was crushed into a hug. Bloody hell, all I said was that I was happy for them. No need for the tears, really.
Fortunately Freddie came along and took her off my hands.
“Sorry you had to deal with her, Deb,” He grinned as she clung to his arm to stay upright, “She’s not really a big drinker and tonight…”
“It’s fine, she’s actually fun! Go and look after her though, she looks like she needs some water or some -”
Marlene chose that moment to loll forward and vomit over the floor.
I jumped backwards to avoid it and fell into the mob of people surrounding us. A pair of warm, bare arms caught me around the waist before I fell.
“So can we talk now?” A voice whispered, so close that it tickled my ear.
My breath caught in my throat. The arms pulled me to my feet but still held me close.
“Please?” Sirius asked.
“It’s nearly midnight! I…”
“Please, Dee.” He was giving me that look again. The one I couldn’t say no to. The one that got us into all that trouble before.
I could see the dimmed lights reflected in his eyes, still that scorching shade of black. I couldn’t focus.
“Fine. Fine. Let me just see if Marlene’s alright.” I tore my eyes away.
“Meet you outside in two minutes.”
I fought my way towards the booths and found Freddie nursing a slightly pale but otherwise healthy-looking Marlene.
“Is she going to be OK?” I asked.
“Yeah, fine. Couldn’t have happened at a worse time, she’ll miss the climax of her own party, but it’s alright, isn’t it babe?”
I felt a wave of affection for my selfless brother as he stroked Marlene’s sweaty hair back. He was so used to looking after people, he deserved a break. I would have offered to sit with her myself if he wanted to celebrate, but I’d made a stupid prior engagement.
“Happy New Year, Freddie,” I hugged him.
“It’s not for another few minutes -”
“I know, I’m just going out for some air.”
“OK, don’t miss it though! Love you, Deb.”
“Love you too.”
I picked my way across the room again towards the door. My stomach physically hurt, and I was pretty sure that it was nothing to do with the alcohol.
Why did he want to talk again? Hadn’t I made it clear that he had nothing to worry about? Why did he have to disrupt everything? Then there was his uncharacteristic neediness with the knocking on the common room door every day. It was so unlike him, I just didn’t know what to think.
My nerves were stretched to their absolute limits, my hands shaking and my mouth set in a tight line. I stormed the last couple of meters to the door but was brought to an abrupt halt when someone crashed full on into me with a tray of drinks.
I opened my mouth but no words came out. I just stood there with sticky drinks dribbling down my front.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I honestly didn’t mean to… here let me -”
A boy was babbling apologies and waving his wand to vanish the spilt drinks but I pushed roughly past him.
“Get out of my face!” I screeched to his repeated apologies.
Not surprisingly, he backed away rapidly.
I opened the door and found myself face to face with Sirius.
“What…?” He took in my ruined dress and my face flushed red with anger.
“Let’s just get this over with.” I practically spat, now furious.
“Right. OK. Well, come on, lets go around the lane a bit.”
We were walking side by side but being careful not to touch. Me because I knew that I was literally shaking with anger and nerves and I didn’t want him to see that, and him because… well probably because he was afraid that I’d hurt him if he touched me. He’d only seen me really angry once before and that hadn’t ended well for him.
“Talk then.” I said through gritted teeth.
“I was lying.”
I stopped walking. “What?”
“I was lying. I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to do this.”
Before I registered that he’d stopped talking, his hands were firmly on either side of my face and his lips on mine. Unlike our first kiss before, I wasn’t aware of every single movement he made and every time he touched me. I was just aware that it was warm, soft and tender. It wasn’t until he reluctantly pulled away that I realised he’d wrapped his arms around my shivering shoulders. A dizziness rushed around my head, momentarily numbing the rage.
He rested his forehead on mine and exhaled carefully, as if he was waiting for something. Well, I really didn’t have anything to say at that point. I waited for him to explain himself for what seemed like an exceptionally long time, but neither of us moved.
He dipped his lips towards mine again, but this time I spoke.
“What are you doing?” My voice rang out in the quiet lane, surprisingly clear and strong against the music emitting from the pub around the corner.
His eyes crinkled up in his wicked smile. “I don’t know but I think, I think, I was kissing you.”
But why the sodding hell were you doing that? I screamed in my head. Outwardly, my face was frozen, but internally there was chaos in my head as I recovered from the dizziness the kiss had caused, and the confusion and anger welling up in its place.
“I’ve wanted to do that every single second since Christmas.” He said slowly, acknowledging my shell-shocked expression and clearly deciding I was of the dim-witted persuasion.
Let him do it again! Half of me was yelling.
Don’t fall for it, idiot! The other half shrieked.
“I…” The internal conflict was too loud in my ears for me to reply. As if he sensed it, he swooped in again, this time planting soft kisses on my cheek and the side of my face down to my neck. It felt divine and I could feel the first half of my brain drowning out the protesting half and sighing in pleasure.
“You didn’t say that. You stayed away.” I shook my head fiercely to clear it, and he pulled back as if hurt, robbing me of his body heat. I was suddenly a lot more aware that I was in a small and sodden dress, and he was in a thin shirt. It was ridiculous that we were arguing out in the bitter cold like this.
“I didn't. I came to your common room every day…”
“You could have gotten in another way and you know it.” My voice was getting stronger with each word.
“I wasn’t sure you wanted me to. You were so cool when we woke up…”
Cool? Since when did physical assault and legging it qualify as cool?
“- Alright, I could have done without the punching and the disappearing act… twice…”
He managed a half-smile and took one of my hands which were folded in front of my chest in an effort to stop shivering. “I just want to know how things stand, Dee.”
“We talked about it.” I said shortly.
“Oh yeah. 'It didn’t mean anything'?”
“That’s what we both said.” I agreed, lightly, ignoring my heart hammering at my ribcage.
“No, that’s what you said…”
“Because you didn’t have the guts to say it first. Sirius, I know you. I know how you work, and I know that it’s just sex to you. I think we can both see that it was a mistake for us to get into that situation and we should just forget it.”
I paused, slightly stunned that I managed to get a rational argument across while I was half frozen and wanting him to just agree with me so we could get back inside. Lily would be wondering where I was. Surely it was almost midnight by now…
It was his turn to look at the floor. Too right he should be ashamed of himself.
The weaker part of me cried out to hug him, to erase the things I just said so that he’d kiss me again.
“So we’re just… forgetting it?” His voice was controlled and flat, I couldn’t tell if he was relieved or anything else.
The countdown to midnight started, the voices of scores of students muffled by the wind but still audible.
Ten… Nine… Eight…
“That’s right,” Finally. “But what did you tell James? Just so I know?”
There was a long moment of silence. So long that I was sure he was going to confess that he’d told James everything and they’d plotted to kill me to get rid of the evidence.
When he lifted his head, his usually perfect features were drawn into a sneer.
“All I said was that there was someone I liked. Someone I really liked, but I wasn’t going to say anything more…” The sneer vanished from his face, although the cold humour was still visible in his eyes, “…because I didn’t know how she felt. Yet.”
Three… Two… One…
“Happy New Year, Dee.”
A.N. Chapter 4! I hope you enjoyed this, the longest chapter yet! Crazy! Please leave a review after reading it, I'd love to know what you like/hate/think could be improved/favourite characters..... yeah all that!
Also, you may have recognised a few lines from this chapter if your've read The Chocolate Run by Dorothy Koomson. The character Greg in her book was exactly how I imagined Sirius so that's kind of what this story is based on... although hugely adapted so it's barely recognised.
Thanks for reading! Please review!
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