Freddie’s birthday bash is in full swing when I come down the stairs, Hally and Katie following me from behind. It’s funny, I haven’t seen Dom all day and I’m meant to sit next to her in half my classes. She must be sulking, still.
I let my eyes wander over the snogging couples, refreshment table and dancing bodies, till I find Freddie. He’s sitting on the couch, wearing his ‘I’m with stupid’ t-shirt, and frowning around the room. Apparently, sulking runs in the Weasley family.
I move towards him, dodging around the dancers, and Katie and Hally fall behind. I’m literally a second away from him and brightening up his day when Dom pops up in front of me and grabs my arm, pulling me to a more secluded area of the common room. I try to look annoyed with her but, frankly, I’m so relieved that she’s alive and not glaring at me.
“Look, Dom,” I say, putting a happy smile on my face. I suppress the urge to fling my arms around her and squeeze her till she turns blue in the face because I know Dom would hit me. She’s weird about her ‘personal bubble.’ “I know Katie did a bad thing-”
Dom gives me a look that is so ferocious it stops me, mid-sentence. “I did not drag you over here to talk about that slut
,” she growls, turning around to face me, her heavily mascara’d eyes rolling. Dom reaches her hand towards me, and for a moment I think she’s going to grab my arm again, but instead she taps me and points towards the other side of the room. She leans her head towards me so I can hear her above the music. “Isn’t he adorable
I try to follow her gaze, I really do, but it’s a little hard with people flitting about the room at every second, occasionally splashing drinks down their fronts. “Er... yes.”
Dom hits my arm and I flinch. “It’s Connor, you plank. Right there.”
I do find him then. His blonde hair is a little more tousled than it was the first time I saw him and he’s talking to a girl who I’m assuming is his girlfriend. In an already hopeless attempt to look cool, Connor puts his arm out to lean on the wall, misses, and instead bangs his head against it.
Dom giggles. “Bless him.”
I give her a big smile, leaning towards her. I mean, I see my chance and I’m going to run with it. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be anything that will make Dom unhappy. “Katie feels really bad, you know.”
I spoke too soon. Dom turns to me, her attention finally away from Connor, and glares. “I hate
“You don’t hate
her,” I inform her. “You just don’t like
Oh, nice one, Mollie. Really.
Dom rolls her eyes and, for once, I don’t blame her. That wasn’t a very intelligent thing to say. I try to start up conversation again but Dom merely grunts in response until I decide to use my remarkably good (for the family I come from) conversation skills on somebody who will actually listen to me and not drool over the son of the Herbology teacher. i.e. Freddie. The brilliant birthday boy.
I cross the room, trying not to get caught up in the dancers, and a couple move out my line of vision. Freddie is still looking as sulky as ever but Becca is sitting next to him, running her hand up and down his arm. I call her the slutty tramp nowadays.
“Becca,” I growl in a low, very pissed off voice. She looks up at me, blinking her blue eyes innocently, and inches slowly away from my boyfriend. “I need to talk to Freddie.”
She lets out an ear-grating giggle, twirling her straw hair around her fingers. “You can tell him with me here. Can’t she, Freddie?”
Becca stares at him. I send Fred a look that means ‘tell her to fuck off or you won’t get your special birthday treat.’ Fred rolls his eyes in a very Dom-like way and huffs, “Bugger off, Becca.”
I throw her a triumphant smirk as she stalks off. It’s because I’ve mastered the art of persuasion, isn’t it? And by persuasion I do mean snogging his face off.
“Hello, birthday boy,” I say and flop down on the couch by his side. “What’s got your knickers in a twist?”
Freddie’s eyebrow rises a little and I can see a little smile on his face. It’s really an adorable smile. I just want to give him a big hug. “Hi, Mollie.”
I let silence fall for a few moments. It isn’t awkward silence, not at all. It is almost peaceful, despite the fact that I can barely hear myself think above this music. “I can kill James if you want.”
Freddie chuckles. “What about just going outside?”
“Outside?” I repeat, trying to picture what he had in mind ‘outside.’ “But this is your
party. You can’t just leave!”
“I’m the birthday boy,” he smirks and his hand finds mine. “I can do whatever the hell I want.”
I must admit, I do giggle then. “Okay. But let me check on Dom first.”
Fred makes a face. “Ouch, Mollie,” he sniggers, clucking his tongue in (what he thinks is) an amusing way. “Choosing my own cousin over me?”
I think I just had a mini heart attack. The little twisty feeling is something I’m certain I don’t want to repeat. I laugh nervously, my hand suddenly becoming clammy in Freddie’s. “Don’t be silly. I haven’t even seen James yet.”
Freddie gives me a side ways look, his face adorably confused. “James? I was talking about Dom.”
I do let go of Fred’s hand, then, and stand up. “Oh. I knew that. I was just, you know… mentioning it,” I say, scratching the back of my head, a little embarrassed. “I’ll go do that, then.”
Fred grins, also standing, and moves closer to me so that he can wrap his arms around me. He leans his head down to my ear and his hot breath tickles me, making me giggle. “I’ll meet you in the hall in ten.”
I go on my tip toes to peck him on the cheek, which he returns with a big smile, before stepping away from him and searching for Dom. Fred gives my arm a squeeze as he slips away and I spot Dom, standing a few paces away from where I left her but still staring wistfully at Connor who seems to be what I guess can be call dancing. It is what I call looking like a total idiot.
“Mollie?” Katie calls and I see her making her way closer. She greets people as she comes and, just as I am starting to get a little impatient, she skips up to me, a hopeful expression on her face.
I eye her suspiciously. “What do you want?”
Katie pouts. “Dom won’t talk to me.”
“What did you expect?”
“Mollie,” she sighs and flashes me a stern look so I feel a little ashamed of my snapping. “Can you just tell her I’m sorry?”
“Well, I would,” I reply, waving a hand flippantly. Katie frowns a little at me. “But she’s a bit distracted by Connor.”
“Connor?” Katie repeats, surprise extremely apparent in her little pixie features. “Dom likes Connor?”
I run a hand through my hair, stopping at the end to fiddle with a curl. “Er… no. Of course not. What got that idea in your head? Jeez.”
Katie just blinks at me. And then she turns and leaves. I feel a little annoyed – she could at least have pretended she didn’t know about Connor so Dom won’t have another reason to kill me for breaking the ‘Girl Code.’
People should never tell me things. Ever. I just go spilling them to the girl they hate.
Katie heads in the direction of a sandy haired boy who is shuffling along very badly to the music with a petite brunette girl. If I wasn’t so dreadfully nice I would probably laugh at the poor boy. Then he turns around so I can see his face.
I swallow, feeling a little panicked. Oh, no.
“Dom!” I screech and shove my way through the crowd. The closer people give me a wary look but I ignore them, trying with all my might not to fall over. Katie’s getting closer to him but I’m focusing on Dom who is still looking a little love struck. “Dom!”
Her little freckle face turns to me, a confused crease between her eyebrows. She scowls when she realises it’s me but then beckons me forward, obviously over the disappointment that it was indeed not Connor who was calling her. “What’s up?”
“I-I…” Oh, God, I can’t breathe. What is wrong with me? I only ran a couple of metres. My face is on fire. “I may have… told Katie…”
“What?” Dom snaps, giving me a withering glare.
“About Connor,” I finish in a small voice, looking down at me feet in shame.
Dom groans and when I glance up she’s got her mouth dropped open and is staring where she has been all night. Where I assume Katie is talking to Connor. I flash them a sideways glance and, to my extreme relief, Katie isn’t standing awkwardly close to Connor, she doesn’t have her hand on his arm and she isn’t fluttering her eyelashes. Connor is still pretty red, though.
Dom’s fingers dig into my arm. “What’s she doing? What’s she doing?”
I shake my head – I honestly don’t know.
Katie cocks a thumb in Dom’s direction and her grip tightens, her eyes widen. Connor breaks into a smile and faces Dom and I. Dom seems a bit frozen so I wave for her, not wanting to make the scene anymore awkward then it is. Honestly, how could it be awkward when we are surrounded by people?
Both Connor and Katie disappear behind a group of sixth years, leaving behind a very sullen looking brunette girl who takes a seat on the couch, folding her arms grumpily. Dom turns to me and I can see she’s gone a bit blue.
“Breathe, Dom,” I say, carefully prying her fingers off my arm, where I have nail marks, as Dom takes a shaky breath. “Relax. Smile. Flip your hair.”
“Um… you know…”
Someone’s bony finger taps my shoulder quite hard and I’m just about to scold them when Katie pops up at my side, her hand clamped around a rather delirious Connor. He grins goofily at Dom who blushes and opens and closes her mouth a few times.
“Mollie,” Katie says and winks at me. “You know Connor, right?”
I can feel Dom glowering at me. “Er… uh… well, yes.”
“Hi,” he says, his attention all on Dom.
“Oh, yes, hi.”
Katie slaps her head and Dom and Connor tear there eyes away from each other long enough to stare at her. “Oh, gosh, Mollie, I nearly forgot!”
“You know…” she says, giving me a wide-eyed meaningful look. “That thing.”
For a second I think she’s talking about me having to meet Fred soon. But, of course, she doesn’t know about that. In fact, if she did, I would be a little worried she’s stalking me.
Katie sighs in annoyance, blowing her fringe away from her face. “Just come with me.”
She grabs my arm before I can protest and proceeds to drag me away, pulling me into various dancing people who either grunt, squeal or shove me off them. Oh, how I love the people at my boyfriend’s party. I look back at Dom and Connor who are sharing a secret smile, a faint blush on both their cheeks. I’ve never seen Dom look so… well, cute.
Katie suddenly comes to a halt and I nearly slam into her. “I’m a genius!”
“That was pretty nice of you,” I say, rubbing a bruise from a particularly nasty bumping into someone.
“Dom’s going to love me now!” Katie exclaims, grinning a little scarily at me. “She’s got no choice!”
I laugh nervously along with her, except her seems more maniacal than nervous. I must admit, it’s unnerving me a little. Katie finally ceases and shakes her head, in amusement I assume, as she reaches her hand up to pat my head. I frown at her – I am not a dog.
“Right, I’m off,” she says, removing her hand from my head to give me a thumbs up.
I follow after her as she leaves, trying to weave through dancers. “What? Where? Why?”
She stops, turns, and sighs. “My Arithmancy homework isn’t going to finish itself.”
She nods happily at my disgruntled face before making her way through the crowd to the door. I’m just about to follow her, remembering Freddie, but I hear a scream. Not just any scream either – it was James. I bite my lip for a moment, torn, risking leaving Freddie for a few moments longer than I promised.
But James screamed. And that doesn’t sound good.
“James?” I call randomly in the room, snapping my head from side to side.
I’m not even sure which years are in the Common Room – I’m sure I see a couple of third year girls giggling over something or other – but I do know that most of these people are in Gryffindor seeing as Fred’s birthday is on a school night and it’s rather difficult to return to dormitories afterwards. People standing nearby give me a few funny looks but I ignore them, instead scanning the room for the familiar messy black hair.
Finally, I find James lying at the bottom of the girl’s dormitories stairs, giggling. Giggling. I was almost having a heart attack from worry and here he is, clearly off his face, and giggling like a little five year old boy who laughs at the word boobies.
“James,” I say sternly, leaning above him to see his slap-happy grin. “Are you drunk?”
He sits up slowly, rubbing the back of his head, making it, if possible, messier. “Do you know,” he says, his words a bit slurred as he looks up at me, his eyes bleary, “how mean they are?”
I frown – somebody was being mean to James? I suddenly feel awfully protective over him now and only remembering the fact that James is so sloshed he might puke all over me stops me from bending down to smother him with hugs. “Who was?”
“The stairs,” James replies, his voice holding the blatant ‘duh’ tone. “They made me fall.”
I feel like hitting him a little. I must be nice, I tell myself, remembering the little incident where I got detention for hitting Freddie.
“Listen, James,” I say, heaving a big sigh, as if the last thing I wanted was to leave him. “I’ve got to go. Are you going to be alright?”
James looks up at me, confused. “When did you get so tall?”
“Um, James?” I bend down to his level, so that I can see his eyes. “You’re sitting on the floor.”
James yawns and stretches his arms above his head. One of his joints pop and I wince. He gives me a toothy grin. “I have a date with Alison next weekend.”
“Alison?” I repeat, shocked. My bum thumps to the floor. I thought he’d made that up to make me jealous. Not that I was, of course. “Alison Amilson?”
He nods giddily. “Alison Jennings, silly.”
He actually knows her last name? This is bad. This is very bad. I open my mouth to tell him how dumb it is to go out with her, how mean she is, how greasy her hair looks in the morning, but no words come out. What does come out is a strange, croaking sound. A bit like a frog, really.
“So,” James says, looking a lot happier now that we are at the same eye level. “What do you think I should wear?” A hand smacks James head and he cries out. I blink out of my stupor and look to the owner of the hand. Geoff towers above both of us, a look of worry and disgust on his choir-boy face. “How about a nice dress? You massive girl.”
And then he walks back to his latest flavour of the month, sniggering to himself. The girl giggles, too, though I doubt she even saw what took place. When I focus my attention on James again, he’s pouting, looking a bit put out that Geoff called him a girl. “I’m not a girl.”
I smirk at him. “Whatever you say, Potter.”
“Mollie,” he clucks his tongue, a cute little frown on his face. “Don’t be mean.”
He’s still frowning at me, trying to be stern, so I take his hand. “Pull me up,” I order.
He glances at our clasped hands and smiles, suddenly seeming a lot more sober now. He beams at me before getting to his feet, dragging me with him. I have a bit of a Déjà vu, then, to my first day here when James purposely tripped me over and then pulled me up, making me slam into his chest.
Because that’s exactly what just happens. I go crashing right into his torso. This time I’m not mad, though. I am just very aware of how close our bodies our and how the only thing I can hear is my heartbeat thumping in my ears when I should be able to hear the deafening music. Blood rushes to my face and I must be scarlet but, honestly, for once I don’t care. My body is tingling where it’s touching his, from my hands on his shoulders, almost around his neck, to my chest touching his, and I can feel his breath on my face.
I glance up to see James staring at me, the green in his brown eyes intensified. “Hi,” I say breathily, the word coming out shaky.
He doesn’t say anything but his arm finds its way around my waist, hugging me tighter to him. I smile and do something that I know I’m going to regret later. I tilt my head towards his, my eyes flicking from his eyes down to his lips, and lean my face closer to his.
A voice echoes in the room but I don’t pay any attention to it. “Has anyone seen Freddie?”
James drops me quickly, like he’d just received a burn, and takes a few steps away, looking at me, hurt. “What was that?” He demands, his cheeks reddened.
“I…I…” I stammer. I nearly kissed James. I nearly kissed my boyfriend’s cousin.
James shakes his head, flashing me a dirty look. “Go find your boyfriend.”
My eyes well with tears, partly from rejection and partly from the way James just looked at me, and I turn, searching through the crowds. Nobody seems to have seen what just occurred between me and James and I half-stumble, half-run, to the portrait wall, my hands slamming against it when I reach it. Finally, it opens and I almost fall down the step. I really deserve to fall – I’m a horrible, horrible person.
I wipe my eyes, trying to blink away a few stubborn tears, before turning around to see Freddie sitting on the floor with his back to the wall. His face is expressionless and I can’t figure out what he’s thinking. I take a deep, shaky breath.
Fred stares at me and asks in a flat voice, “What took you so long?”
I step over to him and slide down the wall so I’m sitting beside him. “Sorry.” He sighs, rubbing his temples with both hands. I look at him, every second the guilt in the pit of my stomach swelling. “I don’t mind if you hate me,” I say in a small voice, feeling horrified when I can feel tears prick at my eyes again.
His hands stop and his eyes open. “I don’t hate you, silly.”
Something in my chest pangs. James had called me ‘silly’ only moments ago, just seconds before we almost kissed. My chin wobbles. “Please hate me.” Fred takes my chin between his fingers and turns my head towards him. I keep my eyes down so that he won’t see the tears. “Mollie,” he says quietly and I can tell he’s concerned. “What’s wrong?”
My chest rises as I take another deep breath in, trying to calm my emotions. “Nothing,” I say, but even to my own ears I don’t sound convincing. I force a smile on my face and look into Freddie’s eyes. “Nothing. I’m fine.”
Freddie’s face relaxes into a smile and he pulls me close to him so that my head is resting on his chest and his arm is tight around me. He kisses the top of my head and I let out a content, little sigh. “You had me worried there,” he jokes.
I bury my face into his shoulder. “Happy Birthday.”
A/N: I know it's been horribly long since I last updated but I'm not being dragged around Europe anymore. In fact, I'm back at school. (Woopee.) Anyway, I'm a Trusted Author now (I was so thrilled when I found out!) as well as winning the 'Best New Author' Dobby (thankyou so much to everyone!!) so updates should be coming soon! I've got my mojo back. I write when I'm happy (and spend a little quality time with Ben and Jerry when I'm sad.)
I hope you enjoyed this chapter - Effy xxx