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Chapter 21 : Merlin
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The blonde in front of me switched between seats, her indecision to choose between three of them confused me to no end; one bowl was not bigger than the other. In school, there would be no bears to punish her. She could have sat where she wished to.
“Why are you staring at Marilyn?”
Dom’s confused tone startled me from my tea.
I pulled my gaze away from her and looked at him instead. “I…I just, she was in front of me and-“
“I’m not going to punish you, staring at her is not a federal offence.” He interrupted. “Besides, it’s understandable. She is pretty. And then of course, there is your whole predicament.”
“What predicament.” I asked sourly. “I have no predicament.”
He grinned. “Denial is not the answer Little Baker. Besides,” he added before taking a bite of his toast. “You’ve got three lads flipping through hoops over you, and the only thing stopping you from having all three as a collection is her, if I were you, I would just slap her around a little bit, and then you could have all three of them to yourself, waiting on your every hand and foot.”
If my horrified expression didn’t give me away, my next sentence certainly did. “Oh, Dom,” I sighed. “You honestly have no idea how wrong that all is do you?”
It was just the two of us this morning. The table seemed strangely empty without the others, yet, it had been for a while now.
Tom had managed to blow up his cauldron in his potions class, and rather than cleaning it up, he poured it over the head of the mouthy boy of whom he sat behind. He is working off the detentions in the morning, rather than the evening – to still allow him to attend his Quidditch training.
Jack hadn’t spoken to Tom for almost a week, that I knew of. Although they hadn’t been too close until recently, it seemed odd the distance that was suddenly between them. Perry sat with Marilyn today, as he did most morning’s now. I thought he was better than that, than this. I thought that he wouldn’t degrade himself to succumbing to her alluring ways. Yet Scorpius was right (as usual); I didn’t know him as well as I thought. Jack insists that Perry is simply doing it to rebel, to get a rise from me. But I know that he’s not.
I spoke to Perry the day after Scorpius and I had eaten dinner in the kitchens; it went a lot better than I had thought. Perry insisted that he and Marilyn had been an upcoming thing for a while, something that no one – not even Jack – was able to come to terms with. I simply nodded my head and left it at that.
It still astounded me that I felt nothing when it came to Perry James. I had thought that there would at least be a little of a spark, yet, I could stand next to him happily and feel only friendship and slight annoyance when he spoke fondly of Marilyn.
Scorpius – the all-knowing sidekick – was as shocked as the rest of us at their new found ‘romance’. But he just sent Marilyn a wink and a seductive comment that, only a month ago, would have made her week at the knees. They didn’t even shake.
He and Albus were still sleeping. Their upcoming game against Gryffindor had put them all on edge. They needed to win this match, or they were out of the playing for first. Albus had the team up until the late hours of the evening, training until they bled exhaustion. Yet, Dom sat idly by me at the Slytherin’s table with a grin upon his face, as if nothing could faze him in the slightest.
“You know there are three types of men in the world, Ranny.” Dom began with a wise tone I had no idea that he possessed. “There are the ones that let you walk over them, the suck-ups, then there are the ones who are all for equal rights, they believe that their partners are there to be their ‘best friends forever’,” I decided to ignore the highering of his tone at that remark. “And then there are the ones that will treat you like a china doll, they are possessive and very jealous beings.”
A beat of silence passed before I spoke. “Is there a point to that, or did you just think that you’d give me the heads up.”
His eyes narrowed. “I’m trying to be like Scorpius okay, all wise and stuff; he uses his silences effectively. I don’t … apparently. The point is that you seem to have surrounded yourself with many versions of ‘type three’ males.”
“I know,” I said pathetically. “I’m like flypaper.”
His booming laugh echoed for a moment before he took another bite of his buttered toast. “You should have seen the three of them Ran, the night last week. It was the first time I had ever really heard fecking James speak; they weren’t fighting with your name, they were mainly at each other’s throats about Quidditch abilities or personalities. But anyone who can turn three men in to blabbering idiots in such a short amount of time deserves my respect.”
“That doesn’t deserve respect, Dominic.” I replied shamefully. “That deserves a bloody good smack.”
“And I’m sure that any three of those lad’s would be willing to help you out with that,” he teased. “Too soon?”
I hadn’t realised that I face had accumulated the shape of a scowl. “Just a tad.”
He took another savage bite from his toast, practically ripping the bread apart. “So, can I ask you a question?”
Ignoring the toast he sprayed as he spoke, I nodded. “Fire away.”
“What is actually going on? I mean, I stand on the side lines and watch, like a bystander. But I don’t actually know what the fuck’s going on.”
“And you want me to explain it to you?” I asked tiredly. He nodded giddily. After another sip of my tea, I set the mug down and turned to face him a little more. “Prepare yourself for my life story! I only ever had one friend in my early childhood, and that was my Dad. My Mum passed away before I knew her properly, and so my Dad raised me in the best way he knew how to; through fairy tales.
“I had never been very good at making friends with people, especially girls. When I was little Dad thought that I might have had some sort of social problem, of course, being a muggle it was a perfectly feasible explanation – now that I’m a witch, I know that it’s simply just me being a bit odd. But still, it was always me and my Dad. I came to Hogwarts, and somehow stumbled across Al and Scorpius.
“Scorpius always was obsessed with muggle things, and so he took to the fairy tales I would tell quickly, Albus liked them too. Then we started to act them out.”
Dom laughed lightly. “I remember that, we would always use the forest as a base. When I was in second year, I caught this Ravenclaw girl – who was pretending to be a fairy, and kissed her straight on the lips. I got away with it because I told her that you could bring a dying fairy back to life with a kiss.”
“You liar,” I gasped. “I’m glad to know that you enjoyed them though; over time, people stopped playing. I couldn’t bring myself to let go of them, I still can’t. There were some people who never played, who thought we were childish right from the start.”
“Like Rose Weasley?” he questioned. “I’ve heard you and Scorpius refer to her as ‘The Sherriff’ before.”
I let the corners of my mouth twitch in to the ghost of a smile. “We can be mean sometimes, I guess.” I ignored as he snorted, knowing that he had done worse. “But the point was that when it came to the point that more people needed to work on their studies, and less time in a fantasy world, I realised that I didn’t like the real world so much. The main thing being, that I didn’t like the way that Albus didn’t always play the role of my Prince anymore.”
“You were jealous?”
“Very.” I admitted sceptically. “I’ve always liked him differently to how I’ve liked Scorpius, since we were eleven. I can admit that now; Albus knows.”
“And is that why he kissed you?” he asked gently.
My nose crinkled a little. “Partly. He’s done it before, a while back, but we both thought it felt funny, and so I switched my feelings off. But he came back to me last week, told me that he cared too much about me while I pretended that I didn’t care at all.”
Dom nodded. “And that he wanted you in the way that you’ve always wanted him.”
“I hadn’t thought of it like that, as such.” I contemplated airily. “When he started going out with Nina, it was like the real world had slapped me in the face. He treated me like I was a stand in for when he needed a friend. He’s apologised for it all now, though – says he regret’s it all horribly.”
“It’s a very ‘Al’ thing to do, isn’t it?” Dominic asked. “Not observe the people around him.”
“We’ve always had to tell him when he was being out of order, Scorpius and me. After a while, it became just the two of us. Nina was the first serious girlfriend that he’s ever had, and she ended up treating him like she hated him.
“Her kind of characteristics, alongside Marilyn’s, are the reasons that I’ve always made friends with boys; boys tend to get to the point quickly, and they don’t tend to backstab. But, with Albus not there, I met Tom. He treated me the way Albus used to, and he was kind and caring. Where Scorpius and Albus would take the micky out of me, Tom would listen. I had absolutely no intention of making him feel the way he does about me, and for any advance that I may have made, I am sorry. I just needed him as a friend, I think.
“Then Perry and Jack came and introduced themselves. Jack is a sweetheart, as you probably know; being close with Tom and all, but Perry was quiet. He was an enigma. I got close to him after Albus and I had agreed that being anything more than friends felt odd – or, at least I thought we had agreed. But all I felt for Perry was a petty crush, something you may have on a rock star or someone you met in passing and thought they looked pretty.”
“Pretty much how I feel about every hot female in the school who is willing to be my girlfriend for a night,” he said under his breath.
My eyebrows knitted together. “Slightly disturbing there Dominic; we need to get you a serious girlfriend, or boyfriend, who will treat you right.”
“Do I even want to try and correct that sentence? I am a ladies man through and through!”
“Probably not,” I snorted. “I’ll just correct it back.”
He shoved me lightly with his shoulder.
I downed the rest of my tea and set the white mug down by my empty plate. “But alas, here I sit pouring my heart out to you, because you’re probably the only one in this mess with a level head. Despite everything, all of the fights that Albus and I have had, after everything, I still can’t get that feeling of adoration out of my head every time I see him.”
“Then what are you doing here, talking to me?” he asked pushily.
“I just told you.” I said offhandedly. “I needed to vent, you asked, and you’re the only one with a level he-“
“I’m not talking about that.” He interrupted pointedly. “Scorpius told me about what happened that night, when you all fought and you came back with burns, he gave in because I wouldn’t let it go. And you know, maybe your Dad is right that there is something different about you; you’re really unstable when it comes to your emotions. But Albus had no right to say what he did.
“I’m a seventeen year old bloke,” he pointed to himself in a non-conceited way. “And I can safely say, right now, that I believe in your fairy tale. Cinderella can kiss my arse as far as I’m concerned, because you, Ranny Baker are a fairy tale own.”
Moving became something that seemed ludicrous at this point. Dominic ate his last piece of toast with what could be considered a little more force than necessary.
He swallowed a large mouthful and rested his elbows on the table. “I’m asking you, why you’re sitting here talking to me, while Albus is sleeping, you could be with him right now. He can think that none of it is real all he likes, because by the sounds of it, you could hold up enough magic in your relationship for the both of you. The way that you look at him, the way you always have, the way that you speak of him, he can do nothing wrong in your eyes! It’s always been him for you Ranny, you can’t kid yourself with anything else.
“The way that you feel about him is the type of feeling that people write novels about, it’s the type that the fairy tales are based on! Why are you preventing your own fairy tale; isn’t what you’ve always wanted?”
Despite the initial shock that Dominic could think of anything that wonderful, let alone express it wore off quickly, and was replaced with the ultimate feeling of dread. Suddenly the ideals of life kicked in, and for the first time there was no relation to a fairy tale; the prince would rescue the princess, then they would be married, and live happily ever after.
The prince had never needed a kick from the princess before for being an ungrateful soul. This would be a new one to write in the book, a new chapter to add to the greats – but I couldn’t write it until I had lived it.
“But he’s avoiding me,” I tried to reason. “And I don’t have the guts to do anything along the lines of what you’re suggesting. What if he doesn’t want me anymore? He’s my best friend, Dom.”
A small smile grew on to his broad features. “I think that there isn’t much Albus wouldn’t do for you Ranny. If you told him that you wanted him to be yours, and only yours. I think declining you is going to be his last reaction.”
For a moment I sat stock still, staring past his shoulder and across the Hall. People sat in groups, chattering away aimlessly about their lives, about their previous days, about anything they could. My eye wasn’t drawn to Marilyn and Perry, of whom she had now found, but to Rose Weasley.
Her gaze was set on to the stone floor below her as she sat between a smiling group, she was the only one not joining in with their conversation. Since her night with Scorpius, she was yet to face me in any particular way. Yet, after losing her chance with him, her eyes lost their spark. I would in no way help her win him back, I would put in no good words, nor encourage her to pursue him again. But I would refuse to let that happen to myself.
I stood up and climbed out over the bench. Dominic grinned. “Go get him, tiger.”
I couldn’t stop the laugh before it came.
Recalling what went through my mind as I made my way to the Slytherin Common Room seemed like an impossible task. I remember thinking of my father, thinking of the books that would be piled up next to my bed as a child. I remembered thinking of how he read them to me, each story implying that I would fall in love and quickly marry.
What I felt for Albus couldn’t be described as ‘love’ in such a way; I was barely young enough to use my wand, let alone define love. And still, at seventeen, I still cannot give it an explanation. Yet Dom was right, this feeling wasn’t going to go away, at the worst, Albus doesn’t’ return my feelings. And I would eventually get over that.
My feel carried me quickly down to the dungeons, along the cobbled corridor and towards the large opening to the Common Room, I passed a pair of Slytherin’s who were leaving. They barely batted an eyelid as I passed them; it wasn’t unusual, to see me around their area.
I opened the door quietly, to the seventh year’s boy’s dorms. The creaking handle put up a small fight, only to assist me in the last moments of my temper. I waited for a moment; the light was off and no one was talking.
Pushing the door open, I noticed Scorpius sat up in his bed, pulling a jumper over his head. I knocked quietly and he smiled through tired eyes.
He scratched his chin. “Morning, love.”
“Good morning,” I replied politely. “You know you’re late to breakfast right? It’s the most important meal of the day.”
“I’ll be fine,” he reassured me, getting up and grabbing his school trousers from the end of his bed. “Al and I were up until four going over Quidditch strategies. I’m bloody shattered.”
My eyebrows rose. “Why not just leave it until morning?”
Scorpius laughed quietly and reached for his tie. “You think that Albus is going to let it all wait until morning? He wants to us all to be perfect, and our team will be if he keeps at it at this rate.”
“Or you’ll all just fall from the sky from exhaustion.”
“Or that.” He replied. “Don’t worry; I didn’t miss the pushy breakfast excuse to get rid of me. I’m on my way.”
I gaped like a fish. “That’s wasn’t what I-“
“I take no offence.” He said, giving me the brownie guide promise and grabbing his messenger-boy bag from the doorway, pre-packed. “But make sure Al’s awake before you leave, he needs to get up.” He winked before closing the door and leaving the room in darkness.
I turned to Albus, my eyes adjusting to the dark and made my way over to the end of his bed.
His arm was dangled off the end of the bed, his fingers brushing the wooden floor. Light snored erupted from him as he lay on his front; his mouth moved askew from the pillow so he could breathe soundlessly, he failed.
Stifling a laugh I took a step forward and slapped his bare leg until he woke.
His eyes snapped open, widening a little more upon realising it was me who stood by him. “Ranny? What time is it?”
“Well you’ve almost missed breakfast, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“Oh, well I’ll just have to make up for it at lunch.” He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hands and sat up, pulling the duvet over his bottom half. He slept in a black short sleeved shirt, his hair in absolute disarray. He didn’t move to fix it. “What can I do you for this morning?”
“You can give me an explanation.” I said in a vain attempt to sound stronger than I felt. “You’re avoiding me.”
He snorted, his head bobbing up a down for a moment. “And you want to know why?” his voice was without humour, without patience. “I put my heart out on the line for you Ranny, told you what I wanted, and it ended in me getting in an argument with one of my roommates and you and Scorp running off. It wasn’t quite exactly how I had pictured that moment.”
But even to me the words seemed feeble.
Albus shook his head. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault.”
The remorse suddenly faded from my body. “Hang on, you didn’t tell me what you wanted. You just kissed me, don’t turn this on me; I am as bloody confused as you are.”
“Don’t swear,” he mumbled. “If you’re confused, what would you like to do about it?”
I didn’t take a deep breath; I wasn’t sure if I was capable. I didn’t sit down, merely stood at the end of his bed, leaning on the bed post. “I’m only confused about why you kissed me, instead of simply telling me how you felt.”
A shallow laugh erupted from his body, yet it was completely lacking humour. “What was I supposed to say, everything that I was thinking of sounded absolutely shit. Kissing you is the only way that I knew how to let you know that I want to be with you.”
The hardness of his tone surprised me, cut through the air like a knife. He picked up his wand from the bedside table, muttered ‘lumos’ and then set it back down again. The dim light provided was enough to see the harshness of his features. He wasn’t smiling.
I resented the hidden anger in his voice. I hadn’t expected him to be angry with me, never for a reason such as this. “Albus, at any point in the past six years, I would have taken any advance from you, anything, no matter how lame it sounded.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that you mean more to me than you think.” I admitted quietly, almost inaudibly, but I know he heard it. I was glad for the dim light in the room, that way he couldn’t see my cheeks burning. I was lost for words, grasping for them from all corners of my mind.
Al sat forward in his bed, pushing the covers back a little. His expression didn’t fall from anything but ‘guarded; as he reached forward and grasped the hem of my jumper in a balled fist – the little bit of me he could reach. With a light tug, he pulled me closer towards him soundlessly; I stumbled forward and stood there, silent.
My knee’s touched the wooden frame of his bed as his hand moved, and he gently held on to my hips, his thumbs stroking, slowly, the cotton of my jumper. He placed his forehead on to my stomach and kissed it once, lightly. Even through the fabrics, his touch set a blaze through my skin, rippling whatever was left of my self-control.
I laced my hands in to his hair, pulling his head lightly back. He looked up, his eyes tearing holes in to my skin. He licked his lips once, a nervous reaction that I recognised instantly.
“To me, Rhiannon Baker, you mean more than I could have ever thought.” He said with an ounce of vulnerability. Albus was never vulnerable. “And I, Albus Potter, am an absolute twat, for not telling you this years ago.”
A twitch appeared at the ends of my lips, a twitch that I failed to hold back, despite the effort. I still ran my fingers loosely through his hair, so small it could hardly be called a movement, yet he didn’t move.
“I am here to ask you if it’s too late,” I admitted quietly. “Dominic told me that I should tell you, have my own fairy tale.”
“Dom?” He whispered, as if curious. Al’s gaze flicked to mine. “Ranny, do you remember months ago when I told you that when I looked in to the future, I saw you and Scorpius. But that was it; I had no idea what else I wanted, just that Nina wasn’t the one that I saw myself married and in love with, with a house and kids, and the full shebang. You know why?”
I shook my head like a child, still unable to cooperate with my working mind.
“Because I saw you.” He admitted, his gaze fastened on to my face, as if he were unable to look away. “I always saw you in my future, I saw you who I woke up with in the morning, you who I fought with over making tea with and what to have for dinner. And that scared the absolute shit out of me, Ran.”
A beat passed. I could feel my heart, beating through my chest, and I wondered for a moment if it were to puncture my skin. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
He let out a sharp breath, almost a laugh. “It’s not normal to think those things about your best friend. That night, in the Astronomy tower, when we kissed, it felt funny, not bad, just … odd. But when I thought about it, when I saw the way that Tom looked at you, the way that you and Perry were, I couldn’t supress the feeling that I wanted to gauge out Gates’ eyes and strangle that Hufflepuff bastard. I knew then that it was you that I wanted, it’s always been you. I tried to date other girls, and that failed … epically, and I think that’s because they weren’t what I wanted.”
“And now you’re here,” he said airily, “You’re here, standing in front of me, asking if it’s too late, as if over the space of a week, I would change my mind and erase the one constant feeling I’ve had for over six years now. Since the moment I saw you, I have belonged to you entirely. I kissed you, when we were eleven. I wore Robin’s hat, and had my grandmother’s ring on my middle finger,” his grin quickly became a smile, a genuine, happy smile as if he were drunk with delight. “And I knew then. I knew then.”
For a moment more I stood motionless. Then something clicked, my mind finally complied me with what I asked it for what seemed like hours ago. I pressed my lips to his, capturing his top lip between mine. His hands took hold of my hips with a hard grip, as if I were to run away if he let go. I was going nowhere any time soon, nowhere.
His hands moved to my back as he pulled me down in to his lap, my leg’s either side him, my knees digging in to his hips, through the thick duvet. Still, my fingers that brushed through his hair stayed light. He had poured his heart out, finally. Albus had shown what he considered to be a weakness. And it had only made him stronger.
I brushed my fingers along his cheek and took in a sharp intake of breath as his rough hands found their way under my jumper, and to my back. His hands were clammy, a feat that I was thankful for; he wasn’t made of stone, he was just as nervous as I. Yet all sense of fear or apprehension seemed to disappear as my lips moved over his, working in sync.
My teeth grazed his bottom lip as he tried to tug my jumper over my head. I sat back and pulled it off, chucking it to the end of his mattress. He captured my lips in another kiss, his tongue pressed against my bottom lip. I smiled, grinning against his kiss. His finger’s nipped at my skin, his calloused hands exploring where they could reach. I felt the tiny hairs on my neck stand on end as a quiet moan erupted from the back of his throat.
His lips ran over my jaw, leaving a trail of butterfly kisses behind him. The gentle kiss he left burned a trail of fire in to my skin. The boy I had dreamt about for years was here, holding me, kissing me. He made my heart race, my breathing increase rapidly as his tongue ran circles over my neck, forcing my mind to fall in to a state of pleasure.
Pushing myself close to him, he pulled me down with him to the sheets.
I felt my arms buckle and he laughed; a breathless, hoarse laugh. I kissed him once and moved to lie next to him. Albus kicked off the duvet from his legs and took hold of the small of my back.
My fingers danced against the skin of his neck, his shoulders, his chest. “I had completely pure intentions when I came to see you this morning, Mr Potter.”
“I’m sure that you did.” He replied quietly. He kissed my palm as my fingers touched his cheek. “But it worked out well, I think.”
The darkness of the room once again worked in my favour. “Come on, we’re going to be late to class.”
“Skip it.” He said without hesitation. “Just, stay with me for a while.”
It was an offer that I couldn’t decline.
I was once told, as a young girl, that every princess got her prince. I had thought that the trip was easy, an adventure of sorts, but it wasn’t; every adventure is a life, someone else’s story. Mine was short, compared to some. But then again, long to the one’s in stories.
Albus was right when he said they’re not real, because this is real. This is reality. You couldn’t find this feeling in a story, and then I knew that my fairy tale had begun a new chapter.
AN; here it is! The last chapter - well, there's still the epilogue to come, but still - I hope that you enjoyed it! I'm sorry for the long wait; life has been really busy.
I will update with the epilogue soon, and I hope that it lives up to your expectations? Does anyone have any predictions? ;) I'm really happy with it, so I hope that you all are too!
If you enjoyed this, don't forget to leave a review with the word ROBIN, if you didn't like it, then HOOK! Thank you for reading!
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He did, eh?