If I hold my breath long enough, maybe I'll die. The solution would be simple, albeit slightly... painful, I suppose. But what's worse than this right now? Self-strangulation shouldn't be too unbearable.
This passed the border line of ridiculous several hours ago. In fact, this situation crossed the line so quickly that there never even seemed to be an initial crossing-of-the-line to begin with.
Yes, it's that bad.
“Okay, Ivy. So you're walking—no, strutting—across the floor after a momentous glance at each other's eyes through a swarm of people. Time slows down. You take your hair out of that hideous bun you always put it in and it all falls down your back like little come hither tendrils and you bat those horse lashes of yours and you toss those come hither tendrils like you've never tossed before, and once you get close enough to him, you say in the most sultry, irresistible voice you can muster....” James points a cue to me.
“E-erm...” I glance around uneasily, jumping slightly from the sudden silence. James is looking intently at me with expectation glistening in his pupils, a crazed look on his face. “Hi.”
“How riveting,” Sirius snorts, stifling a bout of laughter.
“Is that seriously the best you could do?” asks James in a deflated tone.
“W-well, how am I supposed to know what to say? You've been acting like a spastic movie director for a low budget teen romance film. I don't know how to react to those kinds of situations! Why not be realistic with scenarios where I don't act like an endorphin-driven cougar?”
“But those kinds of cougars are always the best,” says Sirius.
“And he speaks from experience.”
James and Sirius give each other a knowing glance, their mouths curling into smirks.
“Ew... ew. Why—? You know what? Don't answer that question. That is—ew, just stop. I'm leaving!”
“No you aren't,” Sirius says, grabbing my wrist firmly before I can take a step. I let out a badly concealed gasp. That fast little bugger. “Not until you prove you're ready.”
“Let go of me,” I sneer, jerking my arm away. I slip out of his grasp, avoiding any possible eye contact with him as I rub my wrist defensively. “We still have a couple of days. I don't see the rush.”
“We still have plenty to do,” James says thoughtfully. “For instance, we need to work on your dancing, your walking, and most of all turning you into a presentable young lady instead of the little dust rag you always are.”
I suck in a breath. “I am not dusty!”
“Yes, yes, we know,” he dismisses, rolling his eyes.
“I think we're going at this all wrong,” Remus interjects, saying the first words he has said in a couple of hours.
“What do you mean?”
“It's obviously not working for her, so perhaps we should—”
“Choose... another method,” Sirius says slowly and deliberately, as if a light bulb flickered on in his head.
Remus rolls his eyes. “No, I didn't mean it like—”
Sirius holds up a hand to cut him off. He smiles, then turns to look at me.
“What,” I grunt, folding my arms across my chest.
He motions for me to come toward him, and I warily oblige.
“Okay, so you're you,” he begins, centering me so that I am directly in front of him.
“I should hope so.”
“And now, pretend that I am my sniveling little brother Regulus.”
“Come on, it shouldn't be too hard.”
“What for? This isn't going to—”
“Just do it, Ivy.”
“Why should I—”
I heave a sigh. I purse my lips, feeling my eyebrows automatically twinge into two totally different angles like they always do when I think too hard. And I don't enjoy thinking to hard. I look up at him, imagining him to be a bit taller, his eyes a bit grayer, his chin a bit sharper, his hair a bit shorter and darker and neater....
In front of me, Sirius is gone and has been suddenly replaced by Regulus.
“Ivy—are you blushing?”
I shake myself out of my reverie. I feel my heart beating in my ears and my face suddenly hotter than a furnace.
Have I really been this stupid.
“You really like him,” Sirius says, trying to hide a grin best he can, “Don't you?”
“D-don't be ridiculous! I would have you know that I hardly know him, and I hardly know you so I don't see why it's any of your business. Also, this—this 'blushing' as you call it—is a disorder that runs in my family when we are forced to do things against our will! It's not like I can help it! Thanks for reminding me of my birth defects. It took me years to get over it and now you have opened old wounds. Well, guess what. I'M BLEEDING EVERYWHERE.”
They all stare at me in a mix of perplexity, confusion, and amusement, also known as the party mix of this-girl-is-absolutely-crazy.
What have I gotten myself into.
“But Ivy,” squeaks Peter, whom I hadn't noticed being there until now, “Aren't you an orphan?”
“I have prefect duty,” I say quickly, my lip twitching uncomfortably.
And with that, I run out through the portrait hole, my face still burning ever so slightly.
* * *
Ivy Parker was an odd mixture of things. Her general capricious, plucky, and blunt attitude barely made up for the delicate and nervous looks she constantly had in her eyes. Regulus could hardly ever make sense of her, and seeing her asleep in front of the Slytherin dormitory entrance was no exception.
Especially since she was standing up.
“Erm, you okay there?” He gave her a gentle shake on the shoulder, slightly afraid that if he moved her any further, she would fall over. She looked a little different from the last time he had seen her. A week or so, was it? He couldn't quite remember, because lately it seemed like she had disappeared all together. Her skin was paler than usual, and even though she was asleep, the usual nervous look that spread across her face had increased ten fold.
“I wasn't sleeping, if you were wondering, because frankly, who in their right mind thought that I had the ability to sleep standing up?” she said suddenly, with a somewhat monotonous tone, as if she had gone through it before. “And might I ask what were you doing out in the hallways after hours, because you see it is strictly forbid—”
She rolled her eyes open for the first time, and a flicker of fear flashed through them upon the sight of Regulus.
“I'm sorry, did I—”
“What are you doing here?” she snapped, straightening up.
“I was just—”
“Well, go on, then. There's nothing to see.” He saw her eyebrow twinge ever so slightly behind her messy, auburn hair. Or was it red? Or maybe it was the light from the torches and her hair really was brown? He could never tell the difference, let alone with the lack of light in the corridor. He could hardly see half of her face.
Regulus blinked a few times, acutely in a daze as he wondered whether or not he was dreaming. “What are you doing out here?” he asked carefully.
Ivy cleared her throat and brushed her hair off of her forehead. “Prefect duty.”
“Ah.” She was a prefect? This was news to him.
“Shouldn't it be me who is asking that question? What are you doing out here?” she replied, crossing her arms uncomfortably.
Regulus frowned. “Can't sleep.”
Ivy sighed and looked away, as if talking to him was stressing her out too much. This was a legitimate enough excuse for her. “Well, I'll let you off for now. Just don't tell anyone.”
“Erm, thanks.” Regulus wasn't really sure what to say. Slytherin prefects never got another Slytherin in trouble for anything, let alone being out after hours.
“Well, I'm off to wander the corridors in search of a vulnerable second year out on a dare.” She rolled her eyes and turned to walk away.
Regulus let her walk a few steps out before asking her, “Might I join you? I'm kind of.... Well, I can't sleep and there isn't exactly anything to do. The common room isn't exactly the most exciting place to spend the wee hours of the morning.”
She paused and turned her head slightly to get a glimpse of him in the shadows. “I don't see why not, then,” she sighed wearily. She continued ahead, and Regulus took a few strides to catch up beside her.
As they walked in silence, Ivy stared intently at her feet, her hands clutched tightly together behind her back. Regulus couldn't help but notice the weird feeling emanating from her, as if inside she was trying to propel herself away from him, but she was forcing herself to stay put. He stopped in his tracks.
Regulus took in a breath as he slowly chose his words. “Did I... do something?” he asked.
She turned around suddenly, as if she was surprised that he was still there with her. “What do you mean?”
He shook his head slightly. “I have a feeling that you just don't want me around. If you want me to leave, you can just tell me. I just want to know if it was something I did or—”
“No, of course not!” she interrupted, but immediately regretted saying it so loudly. A painting nearby yelled a few protests from being awakened. “You didn't do anything. I mean, I hardly know you and all....” Her voice faded.
“Well, good,” Regulus said thoughtfully with a grin. “I don't have to apologize, then.”
Ivy frowned. “If that was your attempt at comic relief, then I'm pretty sure that we have differing views of humor.” She turned on her heel and continued on walking.
He quickly regained his spot next to her as she rolled her eyes at him. “Have you always been this relentlessly cold?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, can't you have the slightest bit of regard of this situation?”
“Are you supposing that I should?”
“No, of course not,” Regulus replied. “Here I am, the poor, anxiety-ridden young man accompanying you in the shadow filled corridors of a dormant castle... Isn't it in the slightest bit—”
“I was going to say peaceful, but if that's what you're going for, then—”
“Regulus,” Ivy said firmly, “What do you want?”
He shrugged. “Someone to talk to,” he mumbled.
“Don't you have Voldemort fanboys to hide under the covers and tell each other secrets with? I don't like to be bothered.”
“Is it bad to say that I forgot the password to the dormitory?”
Ivy just stared. Regulus surpressed a grin.
“So then,” Regulus said to break the long silence. “Is this a real second year that you're out to find or is this a second year in a figurative sense meaning that you just wanted to get away?”
“What? Oh. A real one, most definitely. I would never make that up. Ridiculous.”
“Really? And how did you learn about this second year?”
“Erm... down the grapevine. You know how gossip is, right? And when isn't there a second year sneaking out to do something stupid?”
“I suppose you're right,” he added thoughtfully. “You know, I think he's up somewhere on the astronomy tower.”
Regulus grabbed Ivy's hand, intercepting her path so that she got jerked in the opposite direction to the stairs that lead up to the tower. Ignoring her relentless questions and protests, he continued to pull her up the steps. As they reached the top of the stairs, Ivy wriggled out of his grasp and clutched the railing.
“You—git. I can't—run—so fast—dammit,” she gasped in between breaths. “You scared me!”
“Sorry. It was just in case that second year got away.” Regulus wanted to laugh, but he knew she'd just get angrier and walk away. However, she always seemed a little more amusing when she was angry.
“Wasn't that door locked? How do you know he's in the astronomy tower?”
He shrugged. “I don't.” Ivy's face fell. “We're already up here, anyway, so there's no point in going back down now.” Regulus turned and opened the door, letting a light and cool breeze into the stairwell. He held out his hand towards Ivy and said not without sarcasm, “M'lady.”
Ivy looked up and glared at him, but took his hand anyway. She teetered her way up the final steps onto the platform and the two quickly found themselves under a thick blanket of silver stars and a bright, glowing moon. Ivy inadvertently walked towards the railing, her eyes upwards.
“Weird, isn't it?” Regulus said after following her a few seconds later.
“We usually don't get to see the stars that much at night. In our dormitories, at least.”
She just nodded in reply.
“It's a shame, isn't it?”
“I never knew it was like this up here.” Ivy was so fixed at looking at the sky that she didn't notice Regulus look over at her, studying her face. She was pretty, he gave her that. She had some sort of lightness he couldn't really find a way to describe, a sort of frailty that possibly made her endearing, if one wished it to be that way. Her awkwardness was what he found amusing. It was that, despite the look in her icy, cold eyes, he could tell that she was tripping over herself in her own head, falling flat on her face each time.
“The moon's so big,” she mumbled to herself, breaking Regulus' thoughts.
“It was a full moon a few days ago.”
Ivy sighed wistfully, averting her gaze to a cluster of stars at the other end of the tower.
“We're lucky there isn't an astronomy class going on right now.”
“Do you come here often?”
“Was that an attempt at a pick-up line?”
Ivy turned and glared at him. “You know what I meant.”
Regulus chuckled, running his hand through his hair. “I guess you could say that. I go here to think, maybe get some peace and quiet. When I can, of course. Being in Slytherin, it isn't exactly....”
“Yeah.” He sighed, and stared at the sky again.
“You took Astronomy, right?” Ivy asked as she sat on the ground, looking up at the sky then back at Regulus again.
“I did. Why? Didn't you?”
“I think this is the first time I've ever been up here.”
“Really? I thought this was the place where all the misfits came to have a drag.”
“Really, you are too kind.”
Regulus laid on the ground next to her and gave a small yawn. “Look, there's Pegasus. It shares a star with Andromeda. I've never seen it so bright.” Regulus pointed up in the sky.
“That one? With the sort of square... thing?”
“What? How does that even remotely look like a winged horse.”
“You've got to use your imagination. Connect the dots. You see that one? There's Cygnus. The swan. That one's easier to put together, I think. Do you see it?”
“Not at all. Merlin save me, you could tell me that it was a bloody Russian acrobat standing on one finger and it wouldn't make a difference.”
“There's its wings, and its tail.”
“I have no idea—”
“Its long neck? Seriously?”
“Nevermind, then. You are obviously inept for this sort of activity.”
“See that one? Right there? It's a crab. Like you. I hope someone boils and cracks your exoskeleton for the tasty meat inside....”
“If you're talking about Cancer, you can only see that in the spring. And I don't enjoy death threats, Ivy Parker.”
She snorted a laugh, but Regulus had a feeling that it wasn't in response to his words; but rather, it was something far past the breadth of his knowledge. They remained in silence for quite some time, gazing and appreciating the rare time of quietness they had. Regulus found it surprisingly not awkward, as extended silences are, more often than not.
If it were anybody besides Ivy, things probably wouldn't be too different. Regulus felt snug in his own world, blanketed by stars and lost in his own thoughts. Most anything wouldn't be awkward. Although, perhaps there was no awkwardness because they were there for the same reason – not exactly to share one another's company, but moreover to be alone, except to have someone to share the loneliness.
As much as it logically didn't make a good deal of sense, to Regulus, somehow, it did. And he didn't mind a bit.
“Could I ask you a question?” he finally said after a bit of thinking.
“Erm, yeah. Shoot.”
“This Saturday... I was wondering if you could, I don't know....”
Ivy turned to look at him with a hit of fear and eagerness reflecting in her icy and bright eyes.
“Yes?” Ivy squeaked. She seemed to do that a lot.
“I couldn't think of anyone else to ask until now. I just realized...”
Ivy leaned forward.
“I need to find this place in Hogsmeade and I heard you live there. Figured you've known the place better than most people. You wouldn't mind helping me find it, would you?”
The eagerness disappeared and instead Ivy looked... he couldn't tell. Disappointed? Bored? Whatever it was, he had no idea what could trigger it all.
“Yeah. No problem,” she mumbled, turning back to look at the sky.
“I like you, Ivy.”
Ivy jumped and looked at him with such a look of incredulity he was afraid that he said something offensive
“Don't need to look so surprised,” Regulus said, frowning. “You're funny. And... different. Interesting.”
Her right eyebrow began to slowly rise although her other one stayed firmly in place.
“So... I'm weird.”
“Pretty much. Not a lot more to say about it, is there?”
Ivy pursed her lips and blinked a few times.
“You have a unique way of thinking... and I like that.”
Regulus saw how she reacted to the word 'unique,' processing it thoroughly in her mind. “And that's a good thing because...?”
He shrugged and smiled.
“Because it just is.”
ACK SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE.
I really. Really. REALLY am so sorry that I haven't been updating. I'm afraid I've lost a good chunk of my readers for it too :( I try to write everyday and I know that my progress isn't very good proof, but believe me I'm trying really hard!
On another note none of my computers work very well with HPFF so I can't answer your reviews. I've been itching to, believe me.
Soooo this chapter I kinda felt like writing in Regulus' pov because... being in Ivy's head for so long is kind of exhausting. Hope this doesn't repel you guys lol. A lot of Reg/Ivy but for those Sirius/Ivy supporters out there I swear your time will come! Only a little slower. haha ;) This used to be the first half of a very long chapter but... it was way too long. So I split it, but next chapter'll be good I swearssss.
Please leave a review! I seriously LIVE AND THRIVE on them. Please let me know you're out there!! Thanks for being so patient and believing in me andddd welll.... i'm off to write chapter 12! Wish me luck!
..p.s. LEAVE A REVIEW! ;)