Chapter 7 : Kiss Me Twice, Shame On Me
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♥ ci by julia/ahoythere
Dom storms into our room, dragging me along. She shuts and locks the door with a flick of her wand, and corners me against my desk—which is an amazing feat considering our room is circular—and the wand is now pointed at me. "Explain what I just saw and don't give me that 'it's not what it looks like' shit."
"Is the wand really necessary?" I ask, flicking it back.
She withdraws for a moment, saying with pout, "...I like being dramatic," before waving it in my face with renewed fury. "Don't change the subject! How long has this been going on?"
"It was just the heat of the moment." Lots of heat, lots of fuzzy blank spots... Circe, Dom has every right to judge me. I shake my head clear. "Lapse of judgment on both our parts, all right?"
"Lapse?" She draws herself up like a frill-necked lizard. "A lapse does not adequately describe this. This is like a bloody chasm, like Mariana Trench. Of all the blokes to snog, you choose my cousin, the one boy people are expecting a story on—"
"I know, I know."
"—which might have included you if I hadn't been the one to catch you two!"
That's her bloody fault. "Who barges into a changing stall? I could've been naked." Which reminds me, I still need to change and shower. Dom can't question me there.
"With my cousin? Oh, that's loads better." She harangues me all the way to my wardrobe. When I grab for a clean shirt, she swipes it out of my hand. "You know why I barged in? You were moaning, bloody moaning. I thought you were in pain! Trust me, if I knew you were about to shag him, I would've stayed far, far away."
"I was not about to shag him," I retort, grabbing a new shirt. "Maybe second base."
Her face scrunches up. "Ugh. So what—what is this, then? Albus doesn't have a girlfriend and he fancies you—"
"He knows better than to fancy me," I correct immediately. "It's a passing infatuation."
"And he planted the girlfriend story, why?"
I've given up trying to make sense of it. People plant stories for all sorts of reasons: sabotaging reputations, countering future stories, testing the waters—the list goes on and on.
I can guess at what Potter's reasons are, but no further. There's no doubt that he had something up his sleeve, but after I called him out for the story and for his obsession with me, who knows if he's switched his plans—or if he still has a plan. I wouldn't be surprised if the kiss was just a distraction to throw me off base.
It worked, after all.
"I don't know. I just snogged Albus. Does it sound like I'm in a right state of mind?" Dom can threaten the French Revolution all over again, but I'll never admit that I honestly have no idea what's going on.
She crosses her arms. "At least you know that it was stupid."
"Well, I don't intend to do it again."
One moment of stupidity a year isn't so bad. He's easy enough on the eyes and I probably would have continued until second base. Now it's done and over with, and I'd just like to move past the mortification phase.
Dom has the audacity to grumble at me, and I slap her arm. "You are actively trying to break up Rose and Scorpius—you are not one to scold me about anything. How did that go, anyway?"
"It didn't happen," she scowls. Note that she doesn't deny my accusation. "You didn't answer your compact when I wanted to tell you because you were shoving your tongue down my cousin's throat."
With the amount of eye-rolling we're doing, we might as well both be staring at the ceiling. "You're holding this over me forever, aren't you? Don't tell Pickett or Janey by the way, at least not yet. I want to put it in the past first."
Remembering the shirt in my hand, I throw my pajama bottoms and a pair of knickers over my shoulder and head toward the shower.
She harrumphs. "I didn't think you'd go for Al."
"Yeah, well I didn't expect him to kiss like—"
Her hands fly to the side of her head. "Okay, shutting my ears now."
But it doesn't completely deter her, and barely a second later she stomps over and stops me by the doorway, her arm acting as a barricade. "You don't just snog someone out of nowhere. Do you fancy him?"
"Of course not, he's just..." How to describe an enigma? "...interesting."
"Circe, you would like that. So what are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing?" I say, which immediately puts a frown on her face.
"That's no fun."
"I can't help it!" Her mouth curves briefly. "What else am I supposed to do? Rose and Scorpius aren't fun anymore, and you hand me this. You expect me to not meddle?" Unfortunately, as the best friend, Dom is somewhat entitled to stick her delicate little nose into my love life.
"Boo hoo," I say, trying to push her out of the way. "Al and I had our tension and we let it go. It's all done and dealt with. Really, do you think I'd moon over him?"
"I didn't think you'd practically shag him with clothes on—"
The rattle of the doorknob interrupts and we jump. We quiet quick enough to hear a muffled 'Alohomora'. The door clicks open and Appy, of all the possible people, peeks in.
"Did you know the door's locked?" she asks.
Dom and I look in separate directions and I respond first with a clear of my throat. "Er, sorry." I'd love to tell Appy to get out, but she unfortunately lives here, too.
Appy nods, smiling, before waggling her brows. "So what were you guys talking about? I heard shag. Scandal?"
"Um, shag... pile carpet." I give the excuse a seven out of ten. "They installed one in a teacher's office." I limbo under Dom's arm and into the bathroom. This conversation can't end quick enough.
"Did they?" Appy shrugs. Her smile dimples a little more, which, coupled with her love of ruffles, makes her the spitting image of a murderous clown. It's almost as if she found out about my little tête-à-tête with Potter. She would kill over that.
As I'm about to shut the door on Dom's fingers, Appy muses, "Well, suppose there won't be much talk on anything except the break-up."
My ears perk up. Dom practically charges toward her. "What break-up?"
"Rose... and Scorpius?" Appy blinks, her blank slow-wittedness dragging out the answer. "That's all they're talking about in the common room."
Dom and I take one look at each other and dash out of the room, and I throw my clean clothes back into my wardrobe.
Dom takes the words right out of my mouth. "Damn it! How did we miss it?"
"How did you miss it?" Pickett buries his head in his hands. "God, and you were obsessed with them. I will never understand you."
"Ah well, you know. Friend went to the loo," Dom mutters, glancing at me. "Can't let her go alone."
Luckily, Janey saw the break-up and she's come all the way down from Ravenclaw tower to tell us about it, which is why she gets the prime spot of the Slytherin seventh year boys dorm: Pickett's chair. It's the only chair left in the room that doesn't wobble or squeak or look like modern art (something about transfiguration drinking games). Meanwhile, Dom and I are shoved onto Pickett's bed, which he uses as a dirty laundry landfill.
"I don't know what to tell you guys," Janey says, adjusting her glasses. "It wasn't anything exciting. No tears, even. I don't think anyone would have even noticed anything different between Rose and Scorpius if Tamsin hadn't been talking so loudly." Rose's blabbermouth chum Tasmin Greenwood is Merlin's gift for gossipers everywhere. Her mouth is like a flytrap, and she never has the volume dial under eleven. "People started listening in after hearing something about a break-up. Asking Rose if it was true. And... she said yes. And that's it."
It takes a few seconds of silence for Janey's conclusion to become apparent. Dom knits her brows. "That's it?"
"That's it." Janey shrugs. "Scorpius wasn't even there. He'd already left. Not in a rage or anything but like it happened ages ago, and we're just hearing it now."
"There's no story in that," I sigh. No scene, no motive, not even a time-stamp.
Dom shakes her head. "No, there's a story regardless. I've got enough things from Scorpius, but..." Her face screws up like a walnut—a brilliantly complexioned walnut. "This is just so anti-climatic."
"I'm so sorry Rose isn't wallowing in a pit of despair."
Dom jabs an elbow at me, eyes flicking momentarily at Pickett who is keeping mum on the topic. "Don't give me sarcasm," she says. "You're disappointed, too."
"I'm disappointed because I thought we had something big," I say. The universe had split in two when Rose and Scorpius got together; they've been the center of our biggest stories for the past year. "But you—you're disappointed that Rose isn't suffering more."
"See, it's not just me," Pickett mutters.
"I can't believe you both!" The way Dom's looking between us, it's as if Pickett and I just told her we eloped to Gretna Green. She whirls to Janey.
"Don't get me involved," Janey squeaks, holding her hands up.
I cross my arms and Pickett remains poker-faced. Dom gets desperate without allies.
"I know I can be a bitch but honestly, it's not like—I'm not—" With one last sharp inhale, Dom sinks into the bed, arms limp. She scrabbles for her hair to tuck it behind her ear, and for a split-second, she looks pale and flat-featured and less than perfect. "I—I don't come off that bad, do I?"
The rarest sight in Hogwarts: Princess Dominique, humbled.
Pickett is the one who steps up and answers, a grin lifting his lips. "Of course you do."
Janey and I can't help but snicker. Dom glares but she's lost her bite. She's furiously red—that is, until Pickett sits by her and throws an arm around her shoulders. She snaps her out of her wallowing long enough to shove him into his hellish pit of unwashed clothes, where a teetering pile of boxers plummets on his face.
Pickett sputters out a sock, that idiotic grin of his still hanging on.
Finally, Dom laughs, too.
Shock of the Decade: Scorpius admits, 'I never loved Rose.'
That headline sits in every loo from the dungeons to the towers. Every girl and ghost has seen it by the evening.
It's a smashing issue, all thanks to Dom's ability to pull a story out of her arse with out-of-context quotes and break every therapist-patient confidentiality rule a dozen times over. It isn't very scathing; it just homes in on how loveless it was and essentially asserts that it's Rose's fault she couldn't keep him. And really, that's all Dom wants to point out.
Still, I thought she was on friendlier terms with Scorpius than that—at least on a 'I'll-keep-this-mum' basis. Dom said that he wouldn't mind, that he'd like all of this to be in the open anyway. If he does mind, I'm sure she'd find some way to convince him otherwise.
Funny thing, the human mind. Even if you're staunchly set, if you hear enough opposition, doubt creeps in. We're self-conscious creatures. It's easier to be wrong with someone else than stand alone, even if you're right.
Down by the Charms corridor, late one evening, I see a pair of stretched shadows, melded together like lovers. When I trace them to their source, I realize it's Dom and Scorpius—conversing, not kissing—by the high arched windows at the end of the hall. Trick of the light.
Maybe it's Dom and her charisma again or the feeling like I'm watching something illicit, but I can't look away. Painted in the red-orange of dusk, it's picture-perfect. Scorpius smiles faintly when they leave together, not like a boy with a broken heart, but one anticipating the future. My visions blurs and the hallway falls dark in the last minutes of sunset.
I have to remind myself, repeating it over and over in my head, that I was too far to see clearly and I must have imagined most of it.
And yet, when I reach the Great Hall and I see them sitting together, the same smile still on Scorpius' lips, I have to wonder: did I?
Dom, Pickett, and I make quite the racket when walking down a hallway.
Or to be precise, Dom and Pickett do.
They've been arguing about Dom's Hogsmeade date with that Hufflepuff Sean. She's still stuck on him, at least according to our current conversation, which relieves my worries about her and Scorpius a fair bit.
"It's not as if you don't know where he's been—you know exactly where he's been." Pickett counts on his fingers. "Alisha, Evelyn, Harriet..."
Dom tosses her hair. "Since when are you my dating authority? Just yesterday you were still haranguing me about Scorpius."
"Not going after taken men is only a mild step up."
"I wasn't going after him in the first place!"
As the squabbling reaches an incoherent din, my attention flicks up ahead, where a familiar dark-haired enigma is ambling toward us. His steps slow, gaze steady on mine.
Dom suddenly hauls Pickett forward.
"What are you—"
She thrusts her free hand in front, waving at air. "Oh look, something suspicious! Your favorite kind of thing!"
Pickett sputters for help, and then frowns questioningly at Albus who stops in front of me. But before he can say anything, he's overpowered by Dom's strong grip and disappears down the hallway.
Albus turns around to watch, and it gives me a moment to consider him. He doesn't seem different—not more purposeful or nervous than previous days. A bit restless perhaps, as his fingers fiddle with the bottom button of his shirt. It's a habit of his.
"Does he know?" he asks, turning to me. He looks almost sleepy, and I can't tell what's on his mind.
"No." My voice is sharp. Nothing's changed and he shouldn't think so, either—ideally. These things never work out cleanly and that's my main regret about yesterday. There are no take-backs.
I don't need a memory of the incident every time I see him. That sort of distraction is for lesser beings, but unfortunately, I am merely mortal. The incident might not mean anything, but it'll still show up on my face, in my voice, in the way I look at him. Potter will be—for the better part of two months or however long until this fades away—that bloke I quite enjoyed snogging in the changing room.
I like control, and these subconscious twitches don't do it for me.
"Does anyone else..."
"No," I say again. Upon a second glance, Potter does seem different. A little more cautious. "No one knows except Dom, and I'd like to keep it that way. Look, I don't really want to do the whole talk—"
"Good. Neither do I."
My unfinished sentence careens to a stop, a traffic jam on my tongue, and its swallowed back down in a flood of relief. At least he makes it easy. "So it's all settled. Just one of those hormonal—"
"—spur of the moment—" he cuts in, and our sentences tumble together.
"—bad things happening in small spaces—"
"—grateful that you saved me—"
"—snogfests," I finish, but a frown flashes across my face at the last second.
Is it possible to be too calm?
Hormonal banter and firewhiskey can be equally potent, but let's face it: we were a damn lot more lucid than any drunk-in-the-closet snog. I haven't exactly spent my previous years tumbling around with boys, but he had to have—Circe, now I remember why I don't do this—felt something. As a matter of pride, mind you.
But it could be a lot worse. I should be thankful that he's not hovering over me like he owns me, like he's melted the ice queen. "Good, I'm glad we have an understanding. Is that all?" I say.
His mouth quirks upwards and it wouldn't catch me off-guard if he wasn't so completely blank before. "I wanted to see if you wanted to crash the Q.G.A. meeting with me."
"What," I snort, "like a date?"
His brow arches. Amused? Intrigued? "Only if you want it to be."
"Pretty rubbish first date, if you ask me."
"I think you'd like it. It's catered—that's food taken care of. Then we'll follow up with making comments in the back row and feeling superior every time they say something stupid. There's the entertainment."
I laugh and he cocks his head to the side wonderingly.
"You're serious," I say.
All right, I admit: the little twinkle in his eye, the speech like he knows me? Charming. But underneath, it's still only a contest of who gets the last word. "Please don't tell me this is where you take other girls on a date."
"This is the part where I say, you're not like other girls, right?" He likes stare downs, just as I do. He can see everything—every breath, every reflex—but so can I. For all our lofty wordplay, it's alarmingly intimate.
"For the record," Albus continues, "I didn't say it's a date. I just want to see a meeting for myself. Have you ever been to one?"
Recoiling at the thought. "God, no."
"Aren't you curious?"
I stare at him and can't help but laugh. "Is this how you end up in shit?" No wonder he seeks me out.
He shrugs, unfazed. "Just some fun."
"Fun," I repeat. I take everything I've said about this boy back: he's unstable. "Going into a room full of girls who attacked you yesterday and whose brains combined could almost be the size of"—I hold a finger and thumb up with a rather generous space between them—"a grape... is fun?"
"I can take them. Loosen up, Fitzgerald."
This gets better and better. "Now you're telling me to loosen up?"
Albus takes one step toward me, one step too close, and the barest hint of a gasp escapes. The soap is in the air again and I feel his body against mine before the memory flashes away.
"I might be a 'preachy oversensitive twit'"—his gaze drops to my feet, taking its time roaming back up—"but I've been in a lot more trouble than you have."
My throat is thick. With every ounce of effort, I maintain my composure until I'm practically dizzy. We've kept things light until now. I didn't even press any of his usual buttons. Isn't that what he wants?
The space between us becomes nearly nonexistent. "So, Clemence?"
I don't trust myself to say anything, lest I confirm that he's getting under my skin. "Time?"
"Noon," he murmurs so close that his breath feels solid. "Sixth floor, by the north stairwell."
There's no reason for our proximity other than him relishing having the upper hand. A thread of his old self lingers in his voice, the one who had said that he despised me so. He has plans still, folded by his chest.
This is no innocent flirtation; this is seduction.
His hand is under my chin but not touching, and his lips are before mine, not kissing. Pandora has opened her box, and it's flooding my thoughts.
As soon as my eyes flutter closed, the suffocating warmth dissipates. He walks away, Cheshire smirk hanging in the air.
Chesire reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland
A/N For the record, the transfiguration drinking game is called Transfictionary in my head. Oh and hey, look at Albus just kind of casually steaming up the place -innocent whistle- I wonder what he has up those rolled up sleeves.
My gaze lowers. "Why are you here, Rose?"
"I told you why I'm here."
"Why else? Why now?"
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