“I know," he said. And he looked at me in a strange sort of way.
“So we’re stopping what we never started?” I asked, something thick in my throat.
“I think so,” he replied, and carefully, he removed the jacket from his shoulders and drooped it around me. He gave me a smile and said, "It's freezing, let's go inside."
And so we stopped it. Of course every Weasley alive new about what had happened, so we couldn’t stop the spread of the kiss itself. It of course found Ivy’s ears first, and she has been glaring at me with even more venom than before. I didn’t even think that was possible. So Al and I have had a bit of trouble trying to make it clear that we are just friends to everyone, even though ‘just friends’ hits about as far from home as humanly possible. For instance, my arm touched his in the Great Hall yesterday and I about passed out.
But what can you do? I’ll just have to see what happens. I thought it would be harder; coming back to school after having confessed my attraction to Al and having to be the dreaded ‘just friends', but it has been surprisingly nice. Perhaps even a bit of an ego-boost. Ivy Osiris aside, most people have been looking at me differently, and for the good. Of course I’ve had my fair share of contemptuous glares from first and second year girls who consider any Potter boy to be something of a god, but I find that new people are taking on the dangerous task of striking up conversation with me, or even smiling at me in the corridors. And the strangest part? Sometimes I smile back. I suppose it feels sort of nice to be, well, known.
However much I wish Albus and me are a couple, for right now I’m content with doodling my dreams on parchment… I have a feeling that those doodles may be more than fantasy someday. And so the doodling and smiling commenced. Which brings us to today: I sit in Potions class ignoring Professor Heptor’s question about Wabbleypoofs or something.
As the bell rings to leave I pack away my things and hand Rose back the homework I have been copying. She looks startled.
“What — where did you get this?” she snaps, quickly putting it away as if I’m not already done copying it.
“I picked the lock to your safe,” I shrug.
Her eyes pop. “That’s private!” she squeaks.
“Nah, it’s just a bunch of things you don’t want me to know you have. There was Treacle Tart — it was delicious, by the way — essays, your blankie — “
Rose turns radish red. “I know what’s in there!” she hisses.
“Hi Laney,” Hugo Weasley says as he and Lily turn the corner and come face to face with Rose and me. I quickly take in how utterly miserable Lily appears. She barely even acknowledges us.
I grunt a somewhat ‘hello’ to Hugo and look inquiringly at Lily. “Hey, Lil, I haven’t seen you since, what? Day before New Year’s?”
“Yeah,” she nods. “Can we talk tonight? Astronomy Tower?”
Rose looks huffy.
“Sure,” I shrug. “See you.”
They walk off looking slightly frazzled, Hugo putting his arm around her shoulders in a brotherly way.
“Wonder what that was about,” I mumble, looking over my shoulder at the two.
“I don’t know,” Rose says, “but I think it’s got something to do with Lily’s new boyfriend. Something is up, I can tell.”
I nod thoughtfully.
“Speaking of boyfriends —” Rose begins.
“NOPE!” I shout very abruptly. “No, Rose. We are not going here again — Al and I are not, I repeat, not a —“
“A couple?” she finishes.
“So you are?” she asks hopefully.
She twirls around and pushes me against the wall. “Ugh, Laney, you have to give me something! I know you and Al have got the hots for each other, you even kissed on New Year’s!"
“Rose, that is so lame,” I say, rolling my eyes. I grab her forearm and pull her onto the cold grounds. “I told you already,” I say in a hushed voice, “I do like Albus, but we aren't going to go out. That would be more trouble than it’s worth.”
“I know, I know,” she sighs.
“You know we’ll end up having a bad break up if we start going together at Hogwarts,” I add.
“Well it’s better than nothing!” she says.
“Rose,” I say, looking firmly at her, “I can’t do that. Al doesn’t deserve that. Hell, I don’t deserve that.”
She bites her lip. “So…so do it in secret!” she whispers furiously. “You don’t have to tell anyone! But Laney, you two have to do something! You are destined to be together! I just know it!”
“You get cheesier every second,” I grumble.
“Oh hush,” she says, smacking my shoulder.
I stare down at my glove. Secret. Could that work? Hell to the no, Laney Becks. That’s rubbish. A secret relationship? First of all: that’s crazy. And corny. If anyone found out you and Al were having a ‘secret love’ you’d be the laughing stalk of Hogwarts. I growl at my inner self.
You don’t think doing it in secret wouldn’t end in a bad break up?
I guess we could keep it secret until we were ready…. Laney! I command you to stop this right this moment! You and Al are not going to date in secret —
“Shut up!” I hiss.
“Uh, what?” Rose says with a brow raised.
“Oh, nothing,” I say awkwardly. “So about that Transfiguration essay…”
Within the next hour Rose and I have arrived at Defense Against the Dark Arts. It’s another lesson on Patronuses.
“Now students,” Professor Herrigrove states in a weary tone of voice, “as you all know, your OWLs are arriving fast and furious — ”
At this, Rose grips the table and turns an unnatural shade of purple.
“— therefore,” Herrigrove continues, “we have got to really buckle down and get these Patronuses. Today will be spent entirely on getting them to take their animal forms.” He pauses, taking a box and passing the contents around the class. “I’m passing around chocolate so you’ll be able to keep up your good energy. Now, I expect you to have a fully functioning Patronus by exams. Get to work.”
I gulp, remembering back to the last lesson on Patronuses in which everyone but me had been able to produce something, in one way or another. “Just fantastic,” I mutter to Rose, pulling out my wand.
But Rose shushes me furiously, deep in focus on her Patronus.
Rolling my eyes, I turn to Dara, hoping for a better reaction, but am hardly surprised to see her bickering with Fred Weasley. I stare down at the charm bracelet on my wrist, feeling slightly ignored. But, as though he has read my mind, Albus Potter fills the seat next to me.
“Why hello there,” he says in a coy voice.
“Hmm,” I say, raising a brow at him, “you sure it’s wise for us to converse?”
“Probably not,” he laughs, “but I don’t mind.”
I have only spoken to Al once since we have returned, on the first night back. We had made further plans to ignore any type of chemistry between us. Has he forgotten this agreement?
“So,” I say, observing him carefully, “the rumours are still dead flying.”
He nods. “I’ve noticed,” he mumbles, looking less comfortable than he had been moments ago. Suddenly, something lights his eyes. He lowers his voice to nothing more than a whisper, “Hey, want to cut out of here?”
I stare at him. “What?”
He looks around with a sneaky expression on his face. “Want to leave? I’m dead bored. Besides, we can finally have some time to hangout, since most the school will be in class."
It takes a moment for me to understand what he’s suggesting. I’m stunned to hear this coming from good boy Al Potter. It seems so inviting; the opportunity to roam the quiet grounds with him... but I hesitate. I’m thinking back to the last time I cut class. I have been doing so well in school lately... do I want to ruin it?
But damn. How can you say no to those adorable green eyes?
I gag at this thought.
Merlin, I’ve gone soft!
How the hell we escape from the Defence Against the Dark Arts class I can't tell you. I am much more entranced by the fact that I am going to be alone with Al, and concerned with what is going to happen.
We slink silently through the castle, me leading the way to the Black Lake through a series of secret passageways I had discovered when cutting class last term.
“It’s getting warmer,” I note as we arrive beneath the beach trees. Merlin almighty, small talk really isn't my strong suit.
He nods, tossing a flattened stone into the water. Without looking at me he asks, “Are we alone?”
I stare awkwardly at him. “You’re not going to try and kill me are you?”
“No, can’t say I am,” he says sarcastically, flicking another stone at the velvety sheets of water.
“Yeah, I think so,” I say, peering around the grounds. “Although, that fly looks a bit shady, perhaps it’s Ivy as an Animagus?”
But before I can get another word out of my lame joke, Al pulls me over to him and plants his lips on mine.
I pretty much black out for the next few minutes.
When our lips break apart, I stumble backwards, leaning against a beach tree. Dear God.
He’s breathing heavily as well, glasses askew and untidy hair even more messy than usual.
I suppose I do get a bit flaily when snogging.
“Al Potter,” I wheeze, clutching at a stitch in my side (look how out of shape I am), “that was most definitely not part of the plan.”
He shakes his head wearily. “I know. And I’m sorry about that.” He mumbles something about adrenaline and shuts up.
Once I have huffed enough to catch my breath, I examine a loose thread on the hem of my sleeve. “It’s all right.”
“It’s proving harder than I thought,” he continues, looking at me with striking eyes. “You know, pretending to just be friends.”
“I guess,” I mumble absently, for something is ringing in my ears. The words Rose had said to me earlier today: “So…so do it in secret! You don’t have to tell anyone!”
“What are you thinking?” he asks, looking frustrated.
“Nothing,” I say firmly. A loud ringing sounds throughout the grounds. “That’ll be the bell. Walk me back up to the castle?”
A flash of scepticism appears in his eyes, but he agrees.
“Ouch!” I shout after taking a hard hit on the shoulder from Rose.
“I cannot believe you cut class again!” she shrieks.
We are sitting at dinner in the Great Hall and I have just divulged to Rose where I had disappeared to in the middle of Defence Against the Dark Arts class today.
“Rose!” I hiss frantically.
“Becks, you cut DADA today?” asks Fred, laughing.
“Oh shut up, Fred,” Dara snaps and then, turning to me, “I thought you were done with that, Laney.”
“You weren’t up on the Astronomy Tower again, were you?” asks Lily curiously. “I could’ve sworn I saw something flying off of it earlier…”
“I simply cannot believe you’d do that again, Laney Becks,” Rose continues, looking close to tears.
“No, guys —” I start, feeling very frustrated.
“I think it’s brilliant!” Hugo says, giving me a thumbs up.
“Very immature,” I hear Dom Weasley mutter from next to James, who is staring longingly at Charlotte Vinter, ignoring the conversation.
“And wait a moment,” Cater adds, looking mischievously from a very flushed Al to me, “Al cut too. What were you two up to…?”
Everyone falls silent.
“Oh my God!” Dara squeals. “I thought you two were nothing?” She giggles.
I feel myself turn deep red. Forcing eye contact I say, “We weren’t together.”
"This true Al?” Carter asks, looking less than convinced.
“Yeah, I was Owling my dad,” Albus says, trying hard not to look at me. “I’m going up to the common room. See you.”
And he walks from the hall without a second glance back.
Everyone goes back to their previous conversations except for me. I try not to look at Rose, who has a distinctly smug look on her face.
It’s not until we’re walking back to the common room later that night that she brings it up. “Decided to take my advice, eh?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, annoyed.
“You know exactly what I mean,” she says slyly.
“No I don’t actually,” I snap. “Al and I are not a thing.” As we stop in front of the portrait hole I take my school bag and hold it out by the strap so it dangles in front of her. “Mind taking this upstairs for me? I’m supposed to meet Lily tonight.”
“All right,” she says slowly, taking it from me. “G’night.”
I feel her eyes trained on me as I walk away.
When Lily finally makes it up to the Astronomy Tower it’s well past eight.
“Hello,” she says, walking over to the edge of the tower and glancing down. “Wow, that’s high,” she states.
“What an acute observation,” I mutter, leaning against a pillar. “So what’s up?”
She pauses, looking uncomfortable. “I wanted to — er — tell you about what happened on New Year’s.” She flushes deeply.
“Eurgh, Lily, I don’t want to hear about what you and Liam get up to when you’re alone —”
“It’s nothing like that,” she says defensively, going pink. “We split.”
I choke. “What?"
“Yeah,” she says, staring determinately in the other direction.
“What happened?” I ask, suddenly very uncomfortable in her presence.
And just like that, her eyes fill with tears. “I feel so stupid!” she whispers.
My eyes bulge. “Lily…?”
“I should’ve known!” she spits, kicking at the ground.
I remain frozen. What could possibly have happened to upset her this much? But wait, hadn’t she seemed fine all week? “I don’t understand,” I say slowly, “you’ve seemed fine —”
“Laney,” she says harshly, “I have not been fine. Think about it. When was the last time you saw me other than today?”
I rack my brain. “Er … the night before New Year’s, right?”
“Yes,” she says, eyes red. The only person I’ve been able to talk to is Hugo. And that’s only because he found me in the town square after that arse dumped me."
I stare in shock at Lily, innocent Lily. “Did he … did he cheat?”
“I wish,” she spits. “It’s taken me weeks to cope with this. I’ve only come out of my room today.”
“But I don’t understand, what did he —”
“Liam is in love with Charity Sloper from Ravenclaw,” she snaps. “He only asked me out to make her jealous.”
I gape at her. “That bastard,” I say.
She gives one cold laugh. “And get this: he didn’t dump me because he thought she was jealous enough, he did it because he was actually starting to like me, and he didn’t want me to get hurt.” She laughs again, but there is no sign of humour in her hazel eyes.
Suddenly a white hot rage fills me. “You have got to be joking,” I say through my teeth.
“Do I look kidding to you?” she asks angrily.
And then I’m running: I’m spiralling down the Astronomy Tower staircase, hardly hearing Lily’s call of “Laney?"
I fly down the corridors, practically foaming at the mouth. I can’t believe this! My inner self roars, brandishing an axe. I stuck my neck out for him! I got him together with Lily! I thought he was my friend!
“Spider Legs!” I yell at the Fat Lady as I come flying up to the portrait hole. Looking displeased at the time of my entrance, she swings open. I tear through the common room, which has dwindled down to only a few Gryffindors since my last visit, and dart straight up the boys’ stairs.
“Oi!” I hear Fred call out as I fly up the stairs.
I search angrily for the third year boys’ dorm, and when I’ve found it, I pause dramatically in front of the door before ripping it open by the brass handle. “You!” I snarl, pointing at Liam with a crazed glint in my eye. I storm over to him; grab him by the scruff of his pyjamas, and force him through the bathroom door, slamming it behind us.
“L-Laney!” he squeaks, looking alarmed. “What are ya’ doin’!”
I have him pinned against the restroom wall, trying to look ferocious. “Explain yourself before I — before I curse you into oblivion!” I pull my wand out and hold it to his neck. Good thing this boy doesn't have any classes with me, or else he'd know how much an empty threat this is.
“I doon know what yar talking aboot!” he says, a quiver in his voice. “I swear!”
“Does the name Lily ring a bell?” I bellow at him.
His face falls. “I — oh,” he says sadly. “Yeah.”
I drop my hold on him and pace around the room. “How could you do this to her, Liam?” I ask viciously. “After you begged me to put in a good word for you! And what do you do? You break her heart! Just because of some plan to get some Ravenclaw slag to like you? That’s sick!”
“Laney, I — I feel horrible aboot it, ya’ gotta believe meh!” He looks pleadingly at me.
“I thought you were better than this, Scott,” I snap. “But you aren’t. You had this plan from the beginning. You totally fooled me.”
“Will ya’ joost lemmeh expleen meself?” he asks angrily.
I narrow my eyes. “Fine.”
He adjusts his pyjamas nervously. “I’m in love with Charity Sloper, have been fuh three years. She barely noticed meh, I was desperate. I knew Lily would make her jealous; she’s very pretty, so I asked her oot. I know it’s horrible. But I can’t help meself, I love Charity and I had to get her somehow.”
“There are other ways to do that!” I snap.
He shakes his head. “I know, Laney, I know. But this joost seemed easiest. I’m not proud of it, I’m really not.”
“But you started to like her!” I interject. “And she liked you back! Why mess that up!"
“Because I love Charity!” he shouts at me.
Well, that shuts me up.
“I was overcome with guilt, so I came clean tah Lily. Don’t yah know what it’s like to be in love, Laney?” His eyes are growing red. At this sight, my anger dies. “I would do anythin’ for Charity, even if it means hurtin’ Lily. And I know it soonds horrible, but it’s the truth — that’s what love is.”
He looks defiantly at me.
I groan. “Come here,” I say pulling him into a hug. “And look, this is damn rare, so count yourself lucky,” I point out. “Lily’ll be fine. You and Charity will be together someday soon.” And I add painfully, “You did the right thing.”
“I’m so sorry,” he says again, shaking his head. “I never wanted tuh hurt her.”
“I know,” I reply. “Just stay away from her, okay?”
He nods sadly.
I push him off of me, flattening my robes and straightening my hair. “That’s … that’s that, then,” I mutter, pulling the door open. “See you, Liam.”
As I walk from the third year boys’ dormitory I hear Liam’s dorm mates wildly questioning him.
“Was that a booty call?” one asks.
“Did you just shag her?” asks another.
“Ah, shut oop,” Liam says, and I laugh, closing the door behind me.
Job well done.
Well, here it is! I am so sorry it's been like two months since my last update. I genuinely was trying -- I was just having a lot of trouble writing it. I hope it's all right! And trust me -- this is not the end of Al and Laney. If you couldn't tell, she's starting to get an [bad] idea of a way to make things work between them. I thought this chapter was pretty funny. I made Laney very eccentric in this. I have to tie up some loose ends still that I have not touched on in a while: Like Laney's parent's letter, and Riley O'Malley. Just know I have a plan for everything, and I'm not going to forget these important plot lines. And if you haven't noticed: this story has a whole hell of a lot.
Remember to review! It's very important to me! And even though it may take me a bit, I do respond to every single one of my reviews. Remember to keep them 12+ (for all ages). So don't say that Laney's a fucking bitch-osuarous. Thanks!