“There is no way you're going to be wearing that.” Sophie points a discriminatory finger at my outfit—an outfit that can only be described as, well—plain.
“What choice do I have? I don't have anything else.”
“Monks in Medieval Germany have a better wardrobe to choose from than you,” she scoffs as she starts to rummage through my clothing spontaneously. It doesn't take a while for her to go through it all.
“We wear a uniform everyday,” I spit. “Why it should be otherwise?”
“For occasions like these. Oh, you are completely helpless.”
“So what are you going to do? Wait, I know. Maybe I'll have the honor of wearing your lucky jumper.”
“Wear this,” she snaps, throwing a bundle of frothy cloth at me while she goes through her extensive and seemingly bottomless trunk.
“Pink? Are you kidding me?” I look closer at the dress. “And pink chiffon at that!”
“Cry me a bloody river. You're going to wear that.”
I throw it back at her. “Don't tell me what to do.”
She comes over and grabs my shoulder. Then, in one swift movement, she rips off the sleeve of my shirt. “Oh, my. You can't go around looking like that.”
My jaw drops. “You bitch.”
“Sorry,” she says, smiling sardonically. “Accident.”
“That was the last nice thing I had to wear!”
“Oh, I never noticed.... I guess you have no choice now.”
“You can't make me wear that.”
“Then don't go to the party. It's formal wear only, and... this isn't casual Friday.” She does me a once-over.
I purse my lips and glare, snatching the dress back from her hands. “Look – it's too big,” I say with a hidden tinge of relief as I hold it up.
“Don't lie to me, Ivy Parker. I know we're the same size.”
This is true. Except we're only the same size when it comes to jeans.
“If you haven't noticed....” I snarl through gritted teeth. I point furiously at her chest and then mine. A very sad comparison indeed.
Sophie huffs in contempt and silently goes back to her closet. “Here.” She throws me another dress. “It's old, but you're lucky I kept it. Otherwise, we'd have to resort to stuffing.” I stare at it in my hands. “Well, go on—wear it!”
The blue cloth coolly streams through my fingers like water. I purse my lips. “Isn't it a little too, I don't know, posh?”
“Ivy. You're forgetting what house you're in.”
“Ah,” I squeak, holding up the delicate fabric and smoothing out the wrinkles against me. “Yes, but it is a little... revealing.”
“Merlin! You have to realize someday that not everyone dresses like an old nun.” She pulls out her dress – at least, I think it's a dress – and turns back to face me.
“Why are you helping me?” I ask cautiously. This sort of brings me back – back to when we used to be friends. We never really ended on the right foot... actually, I can't say that our friendship officially ended at all. Eventually we just grew so far apart so quickly that one day I woke up and suddenly we weren't friends anymore. It's funny though, because then, it was me giving the clothing advice and not her.
“Trust me. You need it,” she says to me gravely. “Besides, you're going with Regulus, right? You don't need to embarrass him by embarrassing yourself. Goodness knows how that would look.”
“Where did you hear about that?” I squeak. He only sort-of asked me a few hours ago....
“Do I have to remind you every sodding time? Ivy. You are in Slytherin. You should have realized by now that news travels fast, and we are practically the spawn of gossip royalty.” She takes out a box and opens it to reveal an extensive repertoire of make-up. “Now put on that dress before I'm forced to strip you down.”
“Okay, okay. Merlin,” I sigh. “But this doesn't guarantee that I'll look any good.”
Sophie looks at me closer in the face with pursed lips. “True... but that's not something a little mascara and tweezers can't fix.”
“Wow, Ivy. You look... good,” James says with raised eyebrows. “At least, better than normal.”
“Shut up,” I sneer. “Take it in while you can.”
“I didn't think you would go all the way. Excited, aren't you?”
“This,” I point, making a large circle around my face—the hair, the makeup, the dress, the jewelery—“Was not my idea.”
Saying that Sophie went a little overboard is a complete understatement. Sophie went absolutely mad.
“Oh, Sirius. Our little Ivy has finally grown up.”
“Our wallflower has bloomed.”
My lip twitches. “One more word, and I'm shoving these heels into you eye sockets. Let's just do what we have to do and finish it. Okay?” I sigh, crossing my arms from the terribly insufficient warmth this dress gives me. “Ivy isn't a dust rag anymore. Are we finished poking fun?”
That seems fair game for them, for they immediately begin to scrounge several items of interest out of their pockets. We've hidden away in an empty classroom near the Slytherin dungeons. A room notorious for the various amounts of snogging sessions witnessed within these walls.
“Here,” says Remus, placing a large ring into my palm. “Open the top and there's the potion. Put it into his drink and it's immediately effective.”
I frown, turning the ring over in my fingers. “This won't hurt him, will it?”
“Only a little,” Sirius hisses caustically.
“That's low. Even for you.”
He pinches his eyes at me, eyes that say I-can-do-whatever-I-want-and-you-can't-do-anything-about-it. I'm assuming he hasn't forgiven me for that slap. Not that I care.
“Okay, so here's the plan,” James interrupts, oblivious of our obvious tension. “You will slip the potion into Regulus' drink and have him drink it at ten minutes before midnight. It takes a few minutes to kick in, so no sooner, no later. Just make sure he's out by twelve. Do you understand?”
“Because that's when Cinderella has to go back home,” Sirius piques with a smirk.
None of that made any coherent sense whatsoever.
“You'll soon find out,” says James.
I stare at the ring for a moment then shake my head. “I don't feel good about this.”
“This isn't a matter of whether or not you feel good. This is a matter of doing what we're telling you to do.”
“Remember our little deal?”
I look at the ring distastefully. “Fine,” I sigh. “But if this comes back to bite me in the arse, don't think I'll ever doing anything like this for you guys again. Regardless of blackmail.”
Pretentious. I think that's what you call this. Conspicuous. Ostentatious. So very Slytherin.
I need to keep reminding myself to stop gaping—at other people in their furs and jewels, at the incredibly ornate way the common room has been decorated, and, incidentally, at Regulus. This little mission has turned out to be a lot more difficult than I imagined.
“Are you alright?” Regulus asks with a sideways smile after he notices me staring at him. For some reason his eyes look brighter than usual – perhaps it's because of his dark dress robes or the fact that his hair is even more perfect than normal.
“What do you mean?”
“You seem overwhelmed.”
“When told party... this isn't exactly what I had in mind.”
“It's the heels,” I say bleakly.
“Come on, let's sit down.” He offers me his arm and leads me to a table where I unsteadily lower myself down onto a chair.
“Thanks,” I sigh, trying to find a way to rub my dry eyes without smudging my makeup. I sat far too long with Sophie operating on my face to mess it up.
“Are you okay?” Regulus asks.
“Oh!” I stop my wild blinking which I've been doing unconsciously this entire time. “Y-yes. It's just... my eye. I think there might be something—”
“Here, let me see.” Regulus lifts my chin gently to examine my face.
I suddenly jump involuntarily. His hand snaps back.
He flexes his fingers and balls his hand into a fist. “I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—”
I suck in a breath. “No, no!” I take his hand between mine and smile. “It's fine. Really. Your fingers were a bit cold, that's all.”
What? How utterly uncharacteristic of me! Where did this affectionate, touchy, bold Ivy Parker come from? Why did this Ivy happen to crawl out and jump from the sticks all of a sudden? Is that a dash of red on his cheeks or have I gone absolutely mad? Am I blushing? Why am I still holding his hand? Am I being... heaven forbid, gentle?
I pat his hands frantically in the most friendly way possible. “Alright, ol' chap?”
Gawds, why am I so uncommonly stupid.
Regulus laughs, taking his other hand and patting me back. “Top-notch, miss.”
I smile. At least he played along with it.
“I'll go get us a drink. Wait here,” he says, giving me a squeeze to the shoulder. A shiver goes down my spine, raising the hairs on the back of my neck and down my arms.
As soon as he's out of sight, I groan and bang my head on the table. “Make sure it's strong,” I mumble.
“Psst! Ivy!” someone hisses.
I lift my head a few inches to find no one around—no one, that is, until someone grabs my leg from underneath the table.
“Sophie?” I cry, lifting the table cloth and peeking inside. “What are you doing under there?” She quickly takes my wrist and pulls me under, as if sucked in by Charybdis, only with perfectly manicured nails. It's quiet under here, nothing but a light murmur from the outside music and voices.
“Shut up!” Sophie holds up her hand to keep me from speaking then whispers desperately, “I'm hiding.” The tablecloth turns her and everything under here a tinge of green.
“Never mind that! What the hell just happened up there?”
“Er, what do you mean?”
“Old chap? Are you absolutely of your rocker? What are you, a sixty-year-old man?”
“You heard that?”
“Yes. I heard everything.”
“What does it matter to you, anyway?” I hiss. “We're only friends. And who asked you for any advice?”
“Oh, please. Ivy Parker, I did not dress you to the nines just for you to be friends. You—are an ab—solute—IDIOT!” she says, hitting me over the head each time with her hand purse. “Did you know that?”
I roll my eyes. “Did you know you're a complete harpy—OW! Stop hitting me!”
“I will not take that manner of speaking, young lady. Now go up there and make some magic.”
“I mean, w-we are in... magic... school....”
She shakes a finger madly at my face. “Am I not being clear? Stop being a male repellent. Take my advice, go out there, and have some fun for once in your pathetic life. Merlin! If you weren't annoying me so much I wouldn't have to do this!”
“Well I'm sorry I don't like waltz around in a handkerchief, unlike some people.”
She hits me again. “Wake up, Ivy Parker! Relax! Smell the roses! Tonight you're going to end up in a bed that's not your own.”
“Go, go!” She waves her purse around to get me to leave, and I'm more than happy to oblige.
I crawl out on all fours, only to be welcomed by Regulus' shoes. “Oh, there's my earring!” I exclaim after taking a quick and nervous glance up at him. “Blasted thing fell off.”
“Do I... need to ask?” He asks, obviously not believing me seeing that I've had two earrings on this entire time.
“Did you get the drinks?” I blurt, brushing myself off and at the same time attempting to change the subject.
“Oh! Erm... they only had champagne and firewhiskey, so....” He pours me a flute with an apologetic look. “Is that alright?
“Perfect,” I lie. That one shot of firewhiskey the Marauders gave me sent me reeling within an hour. Hopefully a glass or two of champagne won't be as bad. “Shall we toast?”
“I don't know—I've never done this before. Anything you want it to be.”
“Okay, then,” he says, pausing a bit to think. He raises his glass. “To the Quidditch game tomorrow!”
I twinge my eyebrows. That was slightly unexpected. “The Quidditch game,” I toast, and after the clink of our glasses, I take a sip.
“Not bad.” Regulus frowns as he surveys the glass against the light. Never understood why people do that. “Speaking of the Quidditch game, you're going, right?”
“I have no reason to,” I say. It's an obvious answer.
“It's Slytherin versus Gryffindor.”
“And I'm going to be there.”
“Along with most of the school.”
“Do you ever go?”
“The last time I went, I suffered a bludger to the face. Not happening again.”
Regulus laughs, and it almost seems like every time he does, pops of glitter appear by his face. Or I'm just hallucinating, like always. Which doesn't surprise me. Better fill up some more champagne just in case.
“I've never had this before,” I say, taking another sip to seem occupied. “It doesn't taste too bad. But how are we allowed to serve this?”
He shrugs. “We're not. But that never stopped them before. I consider this rather tame compared to the old parties. Normally, they're not in the common room, but since the little mishap that happened last time, we've had more stringent rules applied. People are actually dancing and not leaving early in a drunken romp. Besides that, not much else has changed.”
“I can't imagine.”
Regulus takes another sip, watching the people dance on the temporary dance floor that I hardly noticed before. Then, I see an idea pop into his head that I knew was coming yet I have no chance to avoid it. Oh, Merlin. “How about a dance, Ivy?”
I nearly choke on my drink. “I-I don't think I—” Sophie hits my foot repeatedly with her purse. “—er, could deny you of the, er, pleasure?”
“Let's go—I like this song.” He holds out his hand and I take it as I wobble my way to the dance floor. I gulp down the rest of my drink quickly, feeling the bubbles tinge in my nose. “I'll lead, you follow.”
“Why can't I lead?”
“Because that's how dances go,” he says somewhat amusedly, “Besides, you can barely stand.”
I feel my cheeks burn. “Can't we just... rock back and forth or something?”
“Just relax,” he murmurs. He places his hand on my waist and I wrap my fingers around his palm, trying to mimic what everyone else is doing around us. He pulls me closer which I assume that's how dancing goes, but we stand barely an inch apart as we begin to turn and sway to the beat of the music.
I'm suddenly reminded of Sophie's quick advice. You know, maybe I should relax. Maybe smelling roses won't be too bad (even though I may be slightly allergic). I wouldn't go as far as the bed thing she mentioned, but this will do for now.
“Can I ask you a question?” I say after Regulus somehow managed to make me spin without falling.
I can hear my heart beat in my ears and feel the pitfall in my stomach. “Why did you ask me to come with you?” I blurt reluctantly. “Here. Tonight.”
“I told you before – I like you.”
“Oh.” I'm not sure what to think.
“Is that a bad thing? To like you?”
“No, not at all.”
“An 'I like you too, Regulus' would suffice.”
“I think it all depends on the context.”
“And what would that be?”
The song ends.
I have nothing to say. Or at least, I don't know what to say. Our arms drop and Regulus stares at me intently as I nervously look to the ground. “I—”
“May I have this dance?”
I turn to find Benjamin Avery standing a few inches by us. I forgot about him. The little bastard.
“I'm sorry, Ben,” I sneer, “But I don't think—.”
He leaves me no choice. In an instant, he takes my arm and spins me further into the dance floor, losing all sight of Regulus. He pulls me tightly against him and I try to force myself away, but to no avail.
“What—ERGH—are you doing? Let go!”
“Just checking on our little spy,” he says, whispering into my ear.
“Right, I suppose you can't recognize me like this. It seems like I've forgotten.” He smirks.
I know that tone of voice. It's not what he sounds like, but how he says things. Just like... like...
“Sirius?” I hiss, fairly unsure of myself.
“Ah! And so our dearest Ivy is smarter than she lets on.”
“What are you doing here? Why are you Benjamin Avery of all people?”
“I'm just here to make sure you don't muck anything up. It was just a confundus charm, the help of the magical skills of Remus, and voilà. Je suis ici.”
“You went that far? It wasn't really necessary to—”
“What? To interrupt your romantic rendezvous with my little brother? Hardly. I saw the way you looked at him when you were dancing.”
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?”
“I'm just here to remind you of your purpose in being here tonight. Look—you have about an hour. Shouldn't you start warming up a bit more towards him?”
I try to wriggle out of his grasp but it's still not working. “Would you loosen up?” I snarl, “If you hold me any tighter I'd suffocate, and then there wouldn't be a possibility of warming up.”
“Just don't do anything stupid,” he whispers into my ear. His warm breath tickles my neck. “Okay?”
“Merlin, just get off my back,” I hiss, pushing him away. He bumps into another couple who are dancing and they immediately stop and stare at him while a few more people turn to look.
In an instant Regulus is by my side. “Is anything wrong, Ivy?”
My eyes flicker at him and back to Sirius. He raises an eyebrow. “No,” I say simply. People resume dancing and I turn to Regulus and put on my best smile. Only it comes out as a grimace.
Without a word, Regulus takes my arm and pulls me aside to a quiet corner of the room, but not before I swipe another glass of champagne on the way over. He sits me down and pulls an extra chair next to me.
“What?” I ask, sipping innocently.
“Ivy,” he says precariously, “Are you alright?”
“Alright? Of course I'm perfectly—”
“You hide underneath a table, dance with Ben Avery and nearly get into a fight with him, and I think you're practically drunk.” He snatches the flute from my hands before I can take another sip and throws its contents out a nearby window. “There is something wrong and you're not alright. I'm not blind.”
“And I'm not drunk!” I say, standing up. I immediately sit back down, for it seems as if he has trapped me entirely in this corner. Feeling stupid, I try to stand up again, but Regulus stops me.
“I just want to voice my concerns. You're acting a odd—even more so for your standards.”
“I'm sorry?” I say incredulously.
Regulus drags his hand down his face. “No—I didn't mean it like that. It's just lately I've been noticing that you seem to be around....”
“'Around' what?” I say after a pregnant pause, trying to look at him, even though he keeps averting his gaze. I grab his face rather intrepidly but his eyes still look away. “Regulus? Finish your sentence.”
He finally looks back at me and sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Never mind,” he mumbles. “Forget I said anything. Alright? It's been a weird night.”
“Let me get you some firewhiskey,” I say with an odd perkiness. “Maybe it'll warm you up. You look a bit pale.”
Regulus chuckles at my high spirits (maybe I am drunk) and gives a slight shrug. “Well, I don't see why not.”
“Wait here,” I say, and I run off to the other side of the room where the tables of food are laid out. The walk feels like it takes an hour even though it's only on the other side of the common room. I weave my way through dancing bodies, my head throbbing with the pulse of my blood. I reach the tables and grab two glasses, filling them to a safe enough amount so that nothing gets spilled on the journey back. For a moment, I stare the glasses filled with the amber liquid with slight distaste. I look at my ring, then back at the glasses.
“I'm just here to remind you of your purpose....”
Sirius' voice echoes annoyingly in my head. My purpose. It sounds so... so... fateful. If my “purpose” is
to drug an innocent person in cold blood for reasons I don't even know....
I have reached the lowest point in my sad existence.
My eyes linger on the ring. I feel myself reaching to open it and pouring its contents in one of the drinks like my body and mind are in completely out of sync.
The deed is done.
I steal a glance up at the clock. 11:30.
After taking a deep breath, I find Regulus sitting in the corner where I had left him.
“Back,” I say uneasily, holding up the firewhiskey with a forced smile.
He stands up and takes the glasses unexpectedly from my hands.
Regulus cuts me off. “How about we leave this place?”
“Yeah,” he says. “The music's getting too loud for my tastes and everyone's just getting even more drunk my by the minute.”
“But what? Come, you need fresh air.” He shifts the glasses to one hand and takes his other to lace his fingers around mine. I can feel my face burn a hot red.
He pulls me back through the crowd, past the tables where, for a moment, I wonder where Sophie had gone, and out the door of the dormitories. Regulus does so with such agility that I am completely amazed as to how he hasn't even spilled a drop.
“Where are we going?” I ask quietly.
“The usual place.”
The astronomy tower. It's exactly the same as it was a few days ago, which, oddly, is to my surprise. The glowing of the stones, the placement of the stars are the same, all except the fact that the moon seems a little bit smaller. Other than that, I don't know why I figured it would be any different.
Regulus was right when he said that I needed fresh air. It's cool outside, with a slight breeze, and it's even possible that I just sobered up a little.
Then I remember.
“Do you have the time?”
Regulus puts the glasses on the ledge to search his pockets. “Sorry, no. Do you need to be somewhere?”
“No, not me,” I mumble. “Nowhere in particular.... But this is nice. It was a good idea to go here.”
“It was easier hauling you up the stairs without you yelling protests this time,” he says with a smile. It's dark out, and all I can see is the thin outline the moon reflecting on his face.
“Shall we toast again?” I say, my heart beating fast for more reasons than one. I pick up a glass in each hand and suddenly my stomach drops.
I am the biggest idiot in the world.
My mind is processing the whole situation far quicker than I can keep up. I put the stuff in the glass in my left hand when I gave it to him. That means he took it with his right hand, but then he held them both in one hand, but that doesn't mean he switched them around right? I must be the one on the right. The one that has more firewhiskey, naturally. I was stupid enough to fill them both evenly, if I do recall, and no doubt the powder added a little volume to the mix....
I hand him the glass on the right. Because the right one is the right one... right?
“What shall we toast to this time?” he asks. “It's your turn.”
“Er... good fortune,” I blurt. Good fortune that I picked the right glass, that is.
“Good fortune,” he repeats. Our glasses touch and we empty them in a few takes.
I stand still for a few seconds, waiting to see if I feel any different. I may be a tad inebriated, but other than that, nothing is out of the ordinary.
“Did that taste different to you?” Regulus asks curiously.
I suck in a breath. “No, it tasted like it always tastes.” Because it did.
“Huh. It must just be me, then.”
I heave a sigh. Crisis averted. My doubts are relieved.
“Are you sure you don't have the time?” I ask again.
“Positive. I left my watch in the dormitory.”
“I think we should go back.”
“I'm sure we're not missing anything. Besides, there's a few constellations I've thought of that you might actually be able to recognize this time,” he says with a chuckle.
My relief is soon turned into guilt. I can't stand to stay alone with him after totally betraying him for a reason I don't even know. “I go here to think, maybe get some peace and quiet....” Merlin, it's all coming back to me. This is his getaway. A place that he decided to share with me. That trust he built is just going to crumble within the next few minutes, I just know it.
“I'm sorry, Regulus.” It comes out with a tone laced with pity. “I'm just suddenly not feeling too well.”
“Are you sure?”
I nod silently.
“Alright.” He shrugs. “I understand,” he replies with a slight frown. “It's getting late anyway.”
We shuffle down the stairs and back to the dormitory in silence. If the situation was different – if I hadn't done what I just did – imagine what could've happened if he showed me the stars for just a little longer. The dungeons just outside the common room are silent except for the crackling of the torches on the wall. I preoccupy myself by trying to remember the password, for it seems that my memory is a bit clouded.
“Hey, Ivy,” Regulus calls from a few steps behind. He had been lagging a little since we got to the first floor, which is no doubt an early sign. “I've been thinking.”
“Yeah?” I turn around and take a few steps towards him.
“I've been feeling a little....” he begins, “I don't know how to describe it.”
I gulp and give a nod. “Some things can do that to you,” I murmur with a strong pang of remorse. I look up at him and notice that he looks a little... well, different.
“Well, I just wanted to—”
Just like that, I see a flicker in his eyes and my stomach drops as his face comes closer.
And he kisses me.
For a moment, I'm in a state of utter confusion. I don't know what to do with myself, how to react, what the hell should I do with my arms...? But slowly, my eyes close and I kiss him back and I can't help but feel complete and incandescent euphoria. His hands cup my face as he pulls me closer against him. His lips are soft. His eyelashes tickle my cheeks.
And Merlin, does he smell wonderful.
I can feel Regulus smile over my lips. “You're beau—“
We break apart, and I gasp for air. “What the—,” Regulus yells in surprise. There is absolutely no doubt that that sound just came from the Slytherin dormitories.
“What was that?” I whisper, half still in a daze, half bewildered.
We run towards the entrance and Regulus says the password, but I didn't hear him. As the stones move away, red colored smoke fills the corridor along with the loud sounds of confusion and random explosions.
“Damn!” Regulus curses, trying to waft away the smoke and the red and gold confetti flying everywhere. “Gryffindor, no doubt. Trying to intimidate us for the game tomorrow.”
“Wait,” I scream over the explosions and the ringing of the clock next to us. “Game? This was all over some stupid quidditch game?! You have got to be kidding me. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT—”
Suddenly, everything goes quiet, and the room begins to spin. Regulus is saying words, but I can only barely see him mouthing something over the flashes of light popping in my vision. He's saying my name, maybe, asking about something. Something whizzes over our heads and I feel myself collapse onto the ground, my head pounding as I struggle not to black out.
It wasn't the right one after all.
AHHHHHH! I'm not dead I'm not dead I'm not dead!
I cannot describe how truly and utterly sorry I am. After a long episode of the absence of inspiration, here I am... finally finished. Never before did writers block actually physically hurt. But dammit, it's done! Special shout out to elixirchaos who, just a day ago, left me my first review in months. Thank you for making me feel absolutely terrible and for acting as the final push to completion. (And I mean that in the best way possible!)
Hopefully i'll be able to write more soon. College apps are all paid for and submitted and all I have to do is to get through the year! You probably can guess how old I am now haha. Shoot :P
p.s. sorry there's no chapter image. I don't really have time to make one at the moment, and I just want to submit ASAP! There will be one later though, je promis ;)