Chapter 31 : Beautiful
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I punch James Sirius Potter in the face, right before his party is busted by the cops (yeah, happy fucking birthday, mate). Then Ryan Fisher—the boy of my fantasies, the Official Dreamboat of Hogwarts, the one who must always be referred to by his full name because he was Ryan bloody Fisher, for Merlin’s sake—brings me, via a dastardly broomstick ride through the night, to his house.
Where he lived.
Where he slept.
...Was I dreaming right now?
The Fisher abode was rather big for an apartment. From the looks of things, Ryan’s parents were pretty well off. I couldn’t gather much in the dark, except for a wide living space with modern furniture and a gleaming flat screen. The opposite wall was made completely of glass, with a glorious view of sleepy-looking buildings and a bright sapphire sky. Milky moonlight pressed itself insistently, almost lovingly, against the giant, cool window—a lonely gleaming light in a quiet sea of darkness. Shadows slunk and curled into the corners. The air was hushed. Static.
While I’d been making myself wonderfully useful by standing around and gaping like a moron, Ryan had shut and locked the door behind him, dropping his keys on a fancy, oriental-style table by the door. Pff. At my house, we didn’t have door tables. Obviously, the Fisher flat was high-class. I bet they even had arrangements of wax fruit on their kitchen counters and little bowls of potpourri in their bathrooms.
We used to have potpourri, once, but then Aidan thought it was Japanese candy and ate it all. One hospital trip and a 200-pound medical bill later, and now we used plug-in air fresheners from IKEA.
“Listen,” Ryan murmured from behind me, and I automatically tensed. “My parents are sleeping right now, and the floors here are really creaky, so—”
“Step where you step, gotcha.” I knew the drill. I’d had plenty of practice from countless summer nights spent trying to sneak Dom or Aidan back home after they’d gone to a party and had one-too-many Firewhiskeys. I was quite good at getting past parents by now, as well as leaping back and forth between all the non-creaky floorboards of my house. Ah, teenage delinquency.
Ryan rewarded my quick-thinking with a grin and a thumbs up. “Alright, follow me.”
Carefully, we crept quietly through the apartment, treading softly across the hardwood floors. It felt like the silence was closing in on us—I could hear every breath, every footstep as we padded down a long, dark hallway with walls covered by canvases of modern art that looked pretty similar to my preschool-era finger paintings.
Finally, we stopped at a gleaming mahogany door and Ryan, pressing a finger to his lips, cracked it open.
I paused, absorbing the sight of Ryan Fisher's room. It was huge—probably bigger than the whole first floor of my house—with its own bathroom and a bed that Hagrid could comfortably relax in. In the murky dark, I could barely make out the shapes of a desk with a humming, state-of-the-art computer, a large wardrobe, and the latest Firebolt leaning against the wall. Also, a guitar. A guitar.
The boy played Quidditch and guitar... Now that was just cruel.
“Hey, so normally I’d sleep on the couch outside and let you have the bed, but there's the problem of my parents. Mum would realize I’d snuck you in, she'd pitch a fit... you know. I’m afraid we’re both going to have to hide out in here. Sorry." Ryan shrugged, referring to his room as if it were some cramped cave in the middle of the wilderness and not a luxurious chamber worthy of a prince — or MTV cribs, at the very least.
I shook my head hastily. “It’s fine. Trust me. This is completely, totally fine.”
“Alright,” he nodded, brow furrowed with concern, moonlight from the window gleaming off his golden hair. “So you don’t mind sharing the bed? I mean, I could sleep on the floor—” He added hastily.
“No, no, it’s cool!” My voice jumped an octave as I quickly rearranged my face into my best imitation of a totally not freaked out expression. “I don’t mind, it’s all cool.” Hmm, let’s count how many times Aggy can say the word cool in one sentence, shall we? “Seriously, don’t worry it. I'm cool. You're cool. This whole situation is just... cool."
I trailed off lamely into silence, and Ryan stared, smiling slightly and looking adorably confused.
“Um,” I said finally, just to say something and prove that I was a human being capable of normal speech. “Can I use your computer?”
He brightened — the weird moment between us already forgotten — and nodded. “Sure! I’m just going to shower.”
“Thanks.” I half-grimaced, half-smiled, and then Ryan was gone, swinging the bathroom door shut behind him, disappearing with nothing but a crack of golden light and the noise of a showerhead rasping to life.
The minute I switched on Ryan’s purring silver computer, I logged on to WizBook (yay for being a stereotypical teenager!), the glow of the screen lighting up the sleepy room almost eerily. A blinking purple number kindly alerted me to twenty-two notifications.
I’d been tagged in a bunch of pictures from the party already, all from obnoxious albums with names like ‘BEST BASH EVER!” and “Happy Birthday James!” and, most creative of all, “Busted LOL!”
I hate people.
I’d been poked by Fred and, more disturbingly, Monty Schwitzheiner, the weird kid in Hufflepuff who was always tucking the bottom of his pants into his socks and eating paper. Okay. Moving on.
One friend request from Martin Loehman, the one-man, German Bartending Extraordinaire. Accept. Good lord, his default photo was a picture of him cuddling with a bottle of Tequila. The kid needed help.
And on top of it all...I had thirteen new messages, all from a very frantic Dom.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:19 AM.
Hi. Remember me? It’s ur best friend. CALL ME.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:26 AM.
Where are you? did u make it out of the party? im with the boys and we r all very worried abt you. call me!
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:32 AM.
aggy. this is ur mother. i am on dom’s wizbook trying to contact you. where did u go? we have sent out a search party. the whole auror department is looking for u.
...JK LOL. its me dom. haaaa sorry im still a little tipsyyyy from the party CAPSLOCK wooooo sljdfklsdjfklsjd
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:45 AM.
ok. this shit isnt funny anymore. call me right now.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:48 AM.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:48 AM.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:49 AM.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:49 AM.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:52 AM.
aidan is worried about u.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:52 AM.
and so am i.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:52 AM.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:52 AM.
Dominique Weasley: December 24th, 3:54 AM.
I sighed, rubbing my eyes fiercely, and then re-opened them to the blinking light of the screen. The temptation to just slam the lid down and crawl into Ryan’s bed (Ryan’s bed, Ryan’s bed... It felt so weird saying that) was itching... But I couldn’t leave Dom hanging like that. I, out of all people, knew how it felt to be worried about someone. I owed her at least one phone call to let her know I was conscious and still breathing.
Feeling very much like some evil villain in a bad action movie, I spun around in Ryan’s wheely chair and whipped out my crappy cell phone (it was clamshell style, roughly the size and shape of a brick, and probably made in the early 90’s. The number? 1-800-SWAG), flipping it on. Sixteen missed calls. All from a mix of Dom and Aidan, and even one from Evelyn. Aww. Nice to know they cared.
My gaze darted around surreptitiously, trying to find a place I could make the call without waking up Ryan’s parents... And then my eyes caught sight of the large balcony jutting out from the front side of the room. Of course.
He played Quidditch and guitar, and he had a private balcony. I might just have to get a sex-change for this kid.
I bounded over to the sliding glass door. After a minute of cursing and fumbling with a lock that even rocket scientists would have trouble with, I stepped out into the open.
A blast of biting winter air slammed against me, and I gasped, my breath coming out in one icy puff. It was beautiful out here —tiny snowflakes were drifting peacefully through the sky, and it was quiet except for the occasional honking car or barking dog. But Lord Almighty, it was cold. Silently cursing the climate, the earth’s rotation, and the fact that my mum and Arnold were probably lying on some sunny equatorial beach right now, I punched in Dom’s number.
It rang twice before Aidan picked up.
“AGATHA MARIE BENNETT, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?” There was rock music blaring in the background, and random voices shouting incoherently. I rolled my eyes, holding the phone away from my ear.
“Honestly, I don’t understand where this ‘Marie’ business is coming from, we both know my middle name is—”
“I don’t care,” he cut across brusquely. “We were looking all over for you! Do you know how worried we were?”
As if on cue, there was a loud crash on the other end and then a muttered "...There goes the kitchen lamp." Several people in the background burst into hysterical guffaws.
“Yeah, sounds like you lot were real bent out of shape,” I mumbled darkly, hugging myself to stop the shivers.
“Everyone's drunk,” Aidan explained, voice brimming with disdain. “I had to lug them all the way from the party; we barely escaped the cops. By the way, you wouldn’t happen to know how James' nose got broken, would you?”
There was a long pause. Aidan’s voice had sounded all too casual for it to just be an offhand question. He definitely suspected something.
“Um...” I mumbled, fiercely racking my brain for some believable excuse or story. “Well...”
“A raccoon and some German tourists—”
“Never mind. I just remembered that I don’t want to hear it. Listen,” Aidan began, and it was weird to hear him sound so brusque and serious. He sounded like... well, like me. “It’s all going to shit right now. I could really use your help.” Ah, now that was more like the Aidan we knew and loved. “We’re at Dom’s, everybody’s going bloody crazy... Oh, and we lost Fred.”
“YOU LOST—you lost Fred?” I hissed into the phone, trying my best to control my volume and temper. Great. Just what we needed right now. An inebriated Weasley let loose on civil society at four in the sodding morning.
“Yeah. Also, James is losing a lot of blood cause of his nose, Martin’s passed out somewhere, and Dom keeps leaning out the window and crying about how nobody loves her. I just—I really need help.” My brother sounded completely hopeless. I could picture him now, running around and frantically trying to pick up after everyone (though for some reason, my imagination gave him a flowery apron and curlers in his hair, granny-style). As funny as it was to envision him struggling, I had to admit the kid really was at a loss.
I probably should have felt sympathy for him, but just thinking about him being The Responsible One for once... Well, it kind of made me smile.
“I wish I could, Aidan, but I’m sort of... stuck right now.” I expected to feel guilty for turning my brother down like this, but instead I was just relieved that I didn’t have to deal with the whole mess. Did that make me a horrible person?
Then again, why should I have to be responsible for them and all their craziness? I was sick of picking up after the whole lot; they could fend for themselves for one night, couldn't they? And the last thing I wanted to do right now was see Potter’s stupid bloody (quite literally) face.
“You’re stuck? What do you mean you’re stuck—EVELYN, FOR GOD’S SAKE, STOP TRYING TO TAKE YOUR PANTS OFF! AND CAN SOMEONE PLEASE CLEAN UP THAT FUCKING LAMP? OH, SOD IT ALL!”
I sighed, rubbing my forehead in stress. My nose and fingers were slowly turning numb from the cold. “Okay, okay. Aidan! Aidan!” I cried, trying to catch my brother’s attention as he dropped the phone and started screaming bloody murder at all our friends. “WILL YOU LISTEN TO ME?”
“Yeah, sorry?” Aidan piped up, back on the line and breathing heavily.
“Alright,” I began slowly, “Pick up a pen and write this down, okay?”
There was some fumbling, and then Aidan grunted. “Ready.”
“Use Episkey for Potter’s nose—that should stop the bleeding. You’re at Dom’s, right?” I barreled on, not waiting for an answer. I was on a roll, motherfuckers. “Then check the medicine cabinet in the master bathroom, I’m pretty sure there’s a potion to get rid of pain. It’ll be in a light blue vial...” There. That seemed to ease the guilt simmering in my stomach a bit.
I continued. “There should also be a calming draught in the pantry—give that to Evelyn. Then, check that Martin’s still breathing. Cover him up with a blanket if you can find one. As for Dom, here’s what you do—mind you, it’s really specific: Sing her the first two verses of ‘End of the Road' by Boyz II Men while gently smoothing her hair. Not patting it. Smoothing. Then feed her exactly two pieces of pineapple and let her lean on your shoulder. Once she starts dozing off, you can carry her to a bedroom where she’ll hopefully pass out.”
“Oh, and Reparo for the lamp. Obviously.”
“I... Fine, fine. Alright. This better work.” Aidan sounded tense, but there was a hint of gratitude in his tone.
“It will — trust me. I’m going to try and call Freddy, okay? Good luck.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Aidan groaned. “Thanks... You’re a lifesaver.”
"Uh-huh." With that, I hung up and dialed Fred. It took me a while to find his number since he had previously saved himself in my phone under the name ‘Brown Sugar,' and I had forgotten.
It didn’t even do one complete ring before someone picked up.
“YOOOOOO! If it isn’t my favorite ginger in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, HOLLA! High praise, you know, considering who I’m related to,” Freddy slurred, guffawing, into the phone, cheerful and completely oblivious to the fact that he was in a lot of trouble.
“You are in a lot of trouble.” What can I say? I don’t like to beat around the bush.
“Huh? What are you on about, Aggy? This is the best night ever!” This was followed by a long string of woo-hooing, Tarzan yells, and probably the most horrendous rendition of the chorus of ‘I’ve Had The Time of My Life’ that I’ve ever heard. I rolled my eyes, holding the phone away from my ear until he’d finished.
The minute he stopped, I opened my mouth and let him have it. I didn’t care if he was drunk and clueless, he was being an idiot. More so than usual. I mean, it was four AM, for god’s sakes! I should not be babysitting a barely-conscious, intoxicated Weasley who thinks it’s funny to play Hide and Seek in the middle of a cop bust! I should be snuggling into bed right now and maybe creepily watching Ryan Fisher while he sleeps! Was there no justice in this world anymore?
“Fred, can you please find it in yourself to shut up and actually listen to me, for once? This is a big deal! Everyone’s been looking for you; we’ve been searching all over town! Where the hell are you? We’re worried sick!”
There was a long, somber pause. For a minute, all I could hear was Freddy’s breathing on the other end, and I thought I might have gone too far with the yelling.
And then, much to my absolute horror, Fred started making these soft, whimpering noises—much akin to those of a dying animal—that could only mean one thing:
“Oh my god—Fred...” I stared at the speaker in disbelief, and then put the phone back to my ear. “Are you crying?”
But I didn’t need any confirmation. I knew, in my heart and in the dread pooling in my stomach, that Fred Weasley—six-feet-two male Gryffindor, one of the best Beaters Hogwarts Quidditch had ever seen—was crying like a little girl.
“It’s just—so TOUCHING—to know that you guys CARE,” And that was his breaking point. With a very manly sniffle, Freddy Weasley started to wail—quietly and pathetically—into the phone.
So Fred was a bit of an emotional drunk.
Good to know.
“Freddy, I am not emotionally or psychologically equipped to handle this right now.”
“You guys are like family to me!”
“Promise me we’ll stay friends for ever!”
“Sure, Fred, forever and ever. Now can you knock it off with the crying? It’s making me uncomfortable.”
“I love you guys soooo much! Listen, listen: I’ve come up with a plan,” he paused, perking up a bit. “When we all grow up, Evelyn and I are going to get married—”
“No, listen—and we’re going to have a baby and make you and James the godparents! And then Evelyn and I will die in some tragic car accident, and you two will be left to look after the kid! See how genius I am? Looking after our child will push you two together and help you realize your burning love for each once you start changing its diapers and having fights loaded with weird sexual tension and stuff! It’ll be just like that movie Dom made us go see at the theatre that one time we got kicked out for having a popcorn fight! And then you guys will fall in love and get married, and Aidan and Dom will be Best Man and Maid of Honor at the wedding, and everyone will live happily ever after! ...Well, except for Eve and I because we’ll be dead.” He paused. “And I suspect the kid won’t be too thrilled that his parents are goners—”
“Freddy, that sounds like a lovely plan, and you can tell me all about it later,” I said, trying to keep my voice as patient as possible. This kid was a piece of work. “But first, I need to know where you are.”
“Oh. OH.” And the light-bulb went off. Lumos. “Right... I’m in some dude’s car.”
There was a long pause.
"What," I said flatly.
“Yeah... You see, once the cops busted us and we got off The Floater, Aidan and them went one way and I went the other. I was kind of lost, and I was running down the street trying not to get caught when I saw a car driving by. So I flagged it down and, well, just hopped in.”
“Alright, let me get this straight: you are drunk, in a stranger’s car, with no idea where you’re going?”
“...FREDDY ARE YOU AN IDIOT? DON’T YOU REMEMBER IN KINDERGARDEN WHEN THEY TELL YOU NOT TO TAKE RIDES FROM STRANGERS IN CREEPY WHITE VANS—”
“Hey! I’ll have you know this is not a white creeper van!” He paused. “It’s blue.”
“—DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO THIS GUY IS? HE’S PROBABLY A HAIR-SNIFFING STALKER-WEIRDO!”
“He’s not a stalker-weirdo,” Freddy said defensively, as if I had just been insulting one of his closest and oldest friends. “His name is Paul.”
I literally had to take a second to compose myself.
“His name’s Paul, is it? Oh, okay, well that solves everything! I’m sure Paul’s a real stand-up guy! I’m sure he makes a habit out of walking grannies across the street and saving little wittle kittens from trees! I'm sure it's never occurred to Paul to do something bad like abduct a drunk teenager and harvest his internal organs and sell them ON THE INTERNET!"
There was a long pause. For a moment, I was worried that Fred might start crying again.
“There’s no need to get sassy, Aggy,” he mumbled, feeling obviously wounded.
I sighed, squeezing my eyes shut, and rubbed at my temples with the fingers of my free hand. Stay calm, Agatha. You can do this. “Okay. You know what — can I speak to this Paul character, please?” It was the only logical option I could think of. Talking to Freddy wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Hopefully, I could convince this Paul character to spare Fred's liver and kidneys, and instead just drive him to Dom’s.
I practiced some deep breathing exercises as I waited, trying to find my inner zen. Dragonfly would be proud.
Suddenly, there was a gruff voice on the line. “Paul here.”
“Hi, Paul,” I said as sweetly as possible. “I’m so sorry about my friend.”
There was a heavy pause.
”Yeah. He hasn’t stopped crying the whole time we've been driving,” Paul began meaningfully, sounding more than a little concerned. "Is that normal?"
I winced. “Yeah, yeah it is. Listen — "
“It's either that or he sings—"
“And not very well, I might add — ”
“Once again, sorry.”
“Is he, er, ill? Mentally, I mean?"
I took in a deep breath. “Yes, he's fine. Just very, very drunk. Listen, I’m going to need a favor... Could you possibly drop my friend off?”
There was another pause.
And then Paul said, very shrewdly. “What's in it for me?”
‘Um, the knowledge that you did something nice for a fellow member of the human race?” I suggested hopefully.
He heaved a heavy sigh. “Alright, I suppose so. But only because you asked nicely."
“Thank you,” I groaned in relief, my shoulders losing their tension as I finally relaxed. And then, before Paul could change his mind, I clapped my cellphone shut and strode back into the room.
Ryan was just getting out of the shower when I slid the door closed behind me. He was ruffling his dripping hair with a towel... and clad in very loose-fitting pajama bottoms and a flimsy t-shirt that was sticking to his wet chest.
“Oh hey,” he said cheerily, oblivious to my hormonal ogling, and tossed the towel on the floor. Seeing my expression and the phone in my hand, he grimaced knowingly. “Boy troubles?”
My laughter bordered dangerously on hysteria. The warmth of the room was so dizzyingly inviting, it made me loopy. “There’s no boy to have troubles with.”
Ryan arched an eyebrow, turning towards his exquisitely carved, shiny mahogany dresser and yanking open the top drawer. I watched him, anxious, my fingers fidgeting and flipping the shell to my phone absentmindedly. “What about you and James Potter?”
With a very definitive snap, the lid to my phone broke off and fell onto Ryan’s cushy cream carpeting. I gasped and dropped quickly to my knees, hoping to Dear Merlin above that my hair was hiding the blush blooming across my face.
“What?” I squeaked at chipmunk pitch, hands shaking as I scrambled for the broken pieces of my phone. RIP Swagmobile, you will be missed. “James Potter? No—not in a million years—I’ve, uh, never heard that name in my life—What?—I plead The Fifth!—No hablo ingles!”
Ryan turned around, leaning against the dresser as he watched the spectacle that was A Genuine Agatha Bennett Freakout™. His eyebrows were raised in amusement. “And that just gave me the answer to my question.”
I clambered onto the white duvet of Ryan’s bed, perching on the edge and trying to assume as casual a position as I could. I shook out my hair, pursing my lips in attempted nonchalance. Great, now I just looked like I was trying to pose for swimsuit modeling. How did normal people act, again? I seemed to have forgotten.
“Take it from me, Ryan, there is absolutely nothing going on between James Potter and I.”
He nodded firmly. “Mhmm. I could tell especially from the way you punched him in the face at the party.”
My mouth dropped open. I looked incredulously around the room, my eyes landing on anywhere but on him. “You saw that?”
He grinned. “You’ve got a mean right hook.”
“Oh my god,” I dropped everything—the Swagmobile, its amputated shell—into my lap and buried my face in my hands. “I am so mortified.”
There was a long silence. For a moment, I thought that Ryan might have left, abandoning me in his room so that I could stew in my embarrassment alone. But then I felt the gentle pressure from his hand on my shoulder.
“Why’d you do it, Agatha?” He asked quietly. His proximity a couple months ago would have set my nerves a-tingling and my inner-self frolicking with joy, but now... It was different. Now, it didn’t set my nerves on fire. It was just a hand. On my shoulder. Sure, it felt comforting and warm—but that was it. Nothing more.
“If I knew, I’d tell you,” I moaned into my palms. Ryan chuckled, slowly sitting besides me as the bed creaked under us.
“You’re a funny girl, Agatha,” he mused, smiling.
I removed my face from my hands to glare at him. “Thanks.”
“No, I mean that in a good way. You’re smart, and you’re genuine, and you don’t take crap from people. That’s something to be admired.”
“It’s also something that gets people tossed in jail for assault and batter, apparently,” I said in complete seriousness, and Ryan chuckled again. “Would you stop it! I’m trying to wallow here!”
“I can’t help it,” he held out his hands defensively, grinning widely. “You make me laugh.”
I shook my head, but I could feel the itchings of a smile tweaking at my own lips. “If you must know, Potter and I... Well, it’s complicated.”
“I can see that.”
“We don’t like each other.”
“As indicated by the punch.”
“Yes,” I smiled. It had been a good punch. Necessary? No. Justified? Maybe.
“But... Something happened? Between you two?” Ryan prompted, grey eyes wide with concern.
Where to even begin? Not just something, but...everything. Potter was the boy who drove me mad, the boy who said all the wrong things just to get under my skin. He had seen me at my absolute worst, but I didn’t even know his favorite color. We had fought together, slept together—with us, it was always extremes. He had chased after me, but also walked away without another glance back. He didn’t know me at all, and yet he could predict my every move, guess what I was going to do before I even realized it myself.
Together, we made no sense.
And, in the end, whatever we’d been through didn’t mean a thing. Because he was in love with Nora. Because I was nothing but his best friend’s pesky twin sister. Because we were just, when it came down to it, two people who simply didn’t get along. Simple as that. We were nothing less, and we'd definitely be nothing more.
“You know, Ryan, I’m not feeling too well. I think I’m going to go to bed.” The faintest hints of nausea were swirling inside my stomach. I knew Ryan was waiting for an answer, but I couldn't bring myself to give him one. Instead, I swallowed hard and stood up, brushing myself off.
“Alright,” Ryan shrugged easily, and I almost had to do a double-take. I had been expecting him to protest, to badger me with more questions. After all, I was used to hanging around three relentless, stubborn Gryffindor boys who refused to rest until they had what they wanted—answers to uncomfortably personal questions included—not to mention a High Inquisitor of a best friend. Ryan letting me go just like that was... Well, unexpected.
“Oh and, um, here’s a change of clothes,” Ryan grinned goofily, handing me what he had pulled out from his dresser. “Those acid jeans are nice, but unless you’re going clubbing in your dreams, I’d recommend pajamas.”
I grinned goofily back. Only someone like Ryan could pull off such a dorky sense of humor.
“Thanks,” I said hoarsely, accepting the stack of PJs from him.
And that was that. Simple. Easy. Ryan.
It was nice to have a friend who wasn’t eligible for 'mental patient' status, I mused as I stepped inside the hallowed space of golden light and glittering marble that was Ryan’s bathroom. I sighed, swinging the door shut behind me, and inspected the clothes. There was a simple dark emerald and silver Quidditch shirt, with the Slytherin snake emblazoned on the front and the words ‘FISHER’ stretching out across the back. I slipped it on, twisting around to see the proud, capital lettering in the larger-than-life mirror.
The shorts were so big on me, I was practically swimming in them. But they’d have to do. I splashed my face with some cold water and flicked off the light, stepping out into the cool darkness of Ryan’s bedroom.
He was sitting on the bed, leaning over and fiddling with the light switch on the wall. I clambered on to the other side of the bed, trying not to betray my nervousness. I’d done this before. Sleeping in the same bed as another guy, I mean. I’d done it with... Potter. That one night, when I’d been scared and alone and he’d slept next to me—the side of his body warm and assuring against mine, waking up with our legs tangled, his arm thrown carelessly across my waist...
I gritted my teeth at the thought — his name was that list thing I needed floating through my head right now — and slipped between the cool sheets.
“Your bed’s, um, comfy,” I mumbled to Ryan, who had been observing me with raised eyebrows.
“Er, thanks,” he grinned, and I quietly berated myself for my stupidity. Your bed’s comfy? Why not just whip out the fishnets and the smooth jazz music, Aggy? Set the mood a little more?
Really, I was such a seductress it wasn't even funny.
There was a click as Ryan finally switched off the light. In a blink, the whole room was doused in darkness. I could hear some rustling as Ryan rolled over, fluffing with his pillow and getting comfortable. I stayed completely still, too afraid to move.
There was a long, unbearable silence. I lay there, unblinking, and staring up at the shadowy ceiling above. Next to me, I could feel the warm lump that was Ryan Fisher breathing, quietly and slowly. He was probably already asleep.
“...You’re still gay, right?”
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