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Welcome to the Chase by dream_BIG
Chapter 21 : chapter.twentyone Mates.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 127


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 “You can’t be serious.”

“Oh, but we are.”

This, my friends, is another reason why the Gryffindor Quidditch Team is filled to the brim with a bunch of dundering idiots.

I stood in the middle of the boys’ dormitory, my arms crossed firmly across my chest and my face set into an incredulous look as I stared at the boys in front of me. They were all sporting expressions of glee.

“But they’re throwing a party for us down there,” I argued weakly, gesturing towards the floor. As if on cue, there was a loud cheer and the music, which had already reached a deafening level to begin with, thumped louder. After the initial moment of chaos that had followed the impressive win by yours truly, the entire house had come screaming down onto the pitch. I have been touched in places that I wish to never be touched again, unless if it was Al doing the touching. I have been hoisted onto shoulders, patted on the back, and kissed on the face. I have been cried on. I have been screamed over.

Really, at this point, I need something normal, something I’ve been doing for years. Damn it, I want to go to this party. Parties are fun. I get to dance and watch people get drunk and make fun of them the morning after for all of the crazy things they’ve done while I was sober.

But no.

“We always go to the Shrieking Shack after a victory!” Burly said, “it’s the Gryffindor tradition.”

“Can’t we start a new tradition?” I beseeched.

Al gasped loudly. Blue Eyes fell off of his bed. Blondie pretended to faint dead away on the floor, and Hugo turned a sickly shade of white.

“Never,” he said numbly, his blue eyes widening like saucers, “say those words to us again.”

I put my hands up in a gesture of surrender. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

“A member of the Quidditch Team can’t back out of this,” Dreamy said, “you have to do it. It’s tradition.”

I made a face. “Do I have much of a choice?”

“Nope,” Burly said happily. “Now take off your clothes.”

“WHAT?!”

***

“This is ridiculous,” I muttered. My breath fogged out in front of me, and my teeth chattered even more violently.

Seriously. Whoever came up with this so-called tradition must have suffered some form of severe brain damage. I don’t know who’s stupider: the bloke who created this, or the idiots who follow it.

Apparently, it’s the tradition of the Gryffie Quidditch Team to:

1)      Run up to the Captain’s dormitory as soon as inevitable party starts.

2)      Once there, strip off clothes.

3)      Sneak down to Shrieking Shack in knickers (I was allowed to wear a tank top and boxers. I shudder to think who these may have belonged to), without Invisibility Cloak or any sort of helping device, such as that magnificent Map that Al’s grandfather made with his friends.

4)      Sleep over at Shack, with just one jumbo blanket between the entire team.

It’s how they “bond”. I don’t believe they’ve stopped to even think this through properly – a bunch of boys….in their undies…sleeping under one blanket in a haunted house…

You can’t even describe it to someone without making it sound like one really big, long, innuendo. And there’s no way in hell anyone will believe that these guys are completely straight after hearing this.

…there’s also no way in hell anyone will believe that I’m not a whore after hearing this.

Merlin help me.

You know, I think they only do this because they’ve never been to a Gryffindor Victory party before. If only they knew how much fun it was, they would never follow through with these shenanigans.

“It adds to the thrill to sneak out of the castle like lowly commoners,” Al explained happily, swinging his arms along as we strode calmly across the grounds. I nearly snorted. Lowly commoners. Okay.

“We didn’t actually sneak,” I chattered out, wrapping the group blanket tighter around myself and shooting an incredulous glance at the rest of the boys, all of whom were ambling along in the cold wearing barely any clothing as though they were taking a nice stroll on the beach. “We sort of just walked out and no one said anything.”

They need to up the security on this place. If a bunch of half-naked boys (and a reluctant, blanket-swathed girl) can walk through the entire school and out the front doors without being caught, seen, or questioned, then they have some serious safety issues here.

“That is another reason why we’ll never be lowly commoners,” Al said confidently.

Why can’t anything in my life ever make sense?

I sighed as we approached the Whomping Willow, glad that we had successfully made it to shelter before my toes froze off. Burly sauntered up to the knot on the trunk with the distinct air of bitches-can’t-touch-this as he sidestepped a couple of branches. The knotted tree froze up almost comically, and everyone barreled towards the secret passageway as fast as they could go before the homicidal tree woke up again.

I was pushed to the front, probably because my horrific luck promised an episode of Sudden Tree Awakening before it was actually supposed to happen. I wasn’t too offended by their precautions. I’m pretty much a walking trouble magnet, if you haven’t noticed already (here’s a hint: I’m currently in underwear and spending the night in a haunted house – for Merlin’s sake, the man that Albus was middle-named after died in here at the hands of Lord Voldemort’s horcrux/pet snake! – with a bunch of blokes. Oh yeah. Beacon of responsibility, I am.)

We emerged in a room that had the distinct musty air of creepiness. The back of my neck prickled uncomfortably as I froze in the middle of it, my eyes skittering around.

“Keep going,” Al murmured, giving me a gentle push from behind, “this isn’t the right room.”

“Is that blood on the wall?” My voice came out a couple octaves higher than usual.

Best Gryffindor in the World? Hell yeah.

“It might have belonged to Snape,” Hugo said nonchalantly. I could practically feel the color drain from my face. Don’t get me wrong, I knew what had happened in this house. I just didn’t think that we’d emerge in the room. Or even happen across it, for that matter.

“Onwards,” I squeaked, tripping over the blanket in my haste to get out of the room.

“That’s the spirit!” Blondie crowed enthusiastically.

Yeah. Spirit. Sure, that’s what it is.

After staggering through three more rooms, all varying degrees of shabbiness, we finally emerged in a large bedroom that looked as though it was once inhabited by a werewolf.

…oh wait.

“Charming place,” I commented flatly as I stared at the claw marks on the wall.

“Home Sweet Victory Home,” Blue Eyes crowed as he launched himself onto the bed and sighed deeply into the pillow. He emerged three seconds later, hacking up dust.

“Guys, don’t inhale the furniture,” he choked.

Well thanks for the warning Blue, I was just getting ready to sniff everything in the room.

I sighed and sat gingerly on the edge of the mattress. “Now what?”

Identical evil smirks spread across their faces.

This can’t be good.

***

What, you may wonder, do six extremely fit and popular Quidditch Bros do during their secret rebellious sleepover at the Shrieking Shack after a victory? Maybe they compare Quidditch muscles and bruises. Maybe they get piss drunk and go crazy for the night.

“Truth or dare, Hugo!”

…or maybe they play truth or dare. You know, I used to play this with my girly friends.

When I was twelve.

“Truth,” Hugo proclaimed, bouncing up and down on his butt as he quivered with excitement.

“If you could snog any person in the room of the same gender, who would you snog?” Burly asked solemnly.

I tried once again to knock myself out by punching myself in the head. It didn’t work, much to my continued displeasure.

Hugo’s stare was contemplative as he looked around the circle of cross-legged Gryffindors sitting on the ground. “Well not Lysander, since he’s dating my cousin. Definitely not Al, since he is my cousin. Nick… I mean… that’d kind of be weird. Seeing as I came across you and –”

Blondie coughed loudly over the rest of Hugo’s sentence, and Hugo shot him an apologetic look before plowing on. Al’s eyes narrowed between the two of them.

Don’t tell me Blondie tried snogging Lily…

“Scottie’s in love with my cousin, which is deeply disturbing, so…well, I’d probably have to go with Russell.”

Blue Eyes fist pumped in victory.

“It’s my abs, isn’t it?” he asked seriously. Hugo raised an eyebrow, looking a little disgusted.

“No mate, I’m not in love with your abs.”

“It’s okay if you are, though,” Blue was quick to assure him. He stared down at the defined six pack. “They are kind of awesome.” He patted his abs lovingly.

“I’m going to need therapy after this is over,” I muttered.

“Moving on from Russell and his creepy obsession with his own abs…” Hugo said, sounding quite disturbed. “Lysander. Truth or Dare.”

Lysander shrugged. “Truth.”

These boys are such ninnies. When it’s my turn, I’m so doing dare.

“How far have you gone with Dominique, and what exactly are your intentions with my cousin?” Hugo barked.

I blinked in alarm at his sudden change in character.

Then I realized that this is Hugo Weasley, and of course he would use a Truth or Dare question to go all psycho-overprotective on his female cousin.

“Careful now,” I drawled, an entertained smirk lifting the edge of my lips as I leaned back on the palms of my hands, “two of her cousins are in this room.” And the boy who’s hopelessly in love with her and spends his free time whacking dangerous balls towards people using a big, hefty bat. No big deal, no big deal.

Lysander blinked. “You mean you don’t know?” he asked, his voice sounding very surprised.

“Know what?” Al asked sharply, sitting straight up. “You’re getting married? You got her pregnant?”

“If you got her pregnant, don’t expect to leave his room alive,” Hugo chimed in darkly.

“No, you twats. I didn’t get her bloody pregnant,” Dreamy rolled his eyes at their stupidity. “We broke up. Two weeks ago.”

I blinked. “Two weeks ago? And no one told us?”

“We sort of thought you’d be able to figure it out on your own.”

“Really?” Blondie looked skeptical. “You do understand that this is us we’re talking about here.”

Dreamy glanced around the circle. “On second thought, we probably should have told you guys,” he conceded.

I should probably be offended that I’ve been included as a member of The Idiot Quidditch Players.

But I do qualify for that elite group, so I might as well just accept it.

“Al,” Dreamy said, turning to him, “Truth or Dare.”

“Truth, of course.”

Seriously. What’s with this game? Bring on the dares!

“If you had to pick between dating Moaning Myrtle or…” he glanced around the room, “or Ariadne, who would you date?”

Wow. Confidence level just shot up to astronomical levels.

Thanks, you douche.

“Of course I’d pick Ariadne, what kind of idiot question is that?” Al asked indignantly. “No one in their right minds would pick Myrtle.”

“Well, good to know I’m at least more appealing than Moaning Myrtle,” I intoned, raising my arms sarcastically in victory.

Dreamy shrugged. “I’m asking you to pick between a ghost and the girl you consider almost a sister at this point. Both are equally as bad, right? It’s a difficult decision.”

Something cold seemed to weigh down in my chest. After all the crap I did to get his attention, he sees me as a sister?

“I – I mean…Ariadne’s not like a sister,” Al said uncomfortably. After an uneasy glance at me, he shrugged, “she’s just a mate.”

Great. And now I’ve been downgraded from “almost sister” to “just a mate”. There goes even that kind of love.

This is hopeless.

“Besides,” Al continued, as if sensing how uncomfortable the situation just got, “Ariadne’s much cooler than Myrtle. And she’s alive, which is a definite plus. Also, she doesn’t send me singing botany and/or barge into my shower. In my books, that is perfectly good girlfriend material.”

“Not hard to please, are you?” I asked dryly. Burly let out a forced snicker, but the tension in the room seemed to die down with my seemingly unaffected demeanor.

“I’m a simple man, Ariadne,” Al said, letting out a languid huff and settling back on his arms. It was only due to my extremely strong self-resolve that I didn’t start salivating at the sight of him shirtless and lounging about in that delicious way.

Do you know how difficult it is to be crammed in an old house with six scantily-clad, extremely fit boys and not stare at their chests/forearms like I’m just about ready to eat them up?

Seriously, it’s like I’m made out of steel or something.  Self-control win? I think yes.

There was a slight lull in the game as we sat there in comfortable silence.

“I’m thinking of expressing my devotion to Emma via the medium of interpretive dance.”

It took about three seconds for us to realize that Blue Eyes was completely serious in his intentions to interpretively dance, and after exchanging brief but incredulous glances, we all burst into fits of loud, raucous laughter.

Only Blue Eyes would come up with something like that.

“I will pay you to do it,” Hugo gasped, collapsing into another fit of hysteria when Blue Eyes huffed and crossed his arms across his chest.

“You people have no respect for genius,” he muttered haughtily.

This elicited another round of howling. I was flat on my back at this point, clutching my stomach with my legs up in the air, drawing in desperate wheezes between giggles and trying not to just curl up into the fetal position until I could breathe right again. I’m pretty sure I’ve damaged my diaphragm doing this.

“Oh,” I said breathlessly as I slumped into a sitting position, taking a couple of deep, replenishing breaths. “I really do love you sometimes, Blue Eyes.”

“Do you love me enough to call me Russell?”

“Russell’s a pansy name.”

 “Anyway, Ariadne!” Al cut across loudly before Blue Eyes could get into a raging row with me defending the honor of his name. “Truth or Dare.”

I scoffed at the lot of them and crossed my arms. “I’m not a numpty like you people. Dare.”

The entire room fell silent.

“Listen,” Burly said soothingly, “you’re new to this game, so we’re still giving you the chance of takesies-backsies. I don’t think you understand the gravity of this situation, love. When we pick a dare, it’s serious stuff.”

I rolled my eyes. “I’m not afraid of a little dare. Hit me with it,” I said confidently.

“Well, you asked for it,” Al said dubiously. He flourished his wand and conjured up a jar filled with pieces of folded up parchment. “Pick three dares. Do one of them.”

His face was grave as he held out the jar to me. I repressed the urge to roll my eyes again (it starts to seriously get one dizzy after a bit) and calmly picked out three parchments, dropping them on the floor in front of my feet. The boys all stared at me with bated breaths as I opened each one and laid it down on the floor.

Well. Now I know why they all refuse to take a dare.

I raised my eyes up. “Taksies-backsies?” I asked weakly.

“No can do,” Blondie said, shrugging in a helpless sort of way.

I sighed and glanced at my dares again. These had to be the most ridiculous, far-fetched, trouble-making, detention-giving ideas I had ever seen in my entire life.

Sneak into Filch’s office and shave Mrs. Norris Junior,” I read with a trembling voice. I looked up at them over the parchment. Blue Eyes and Dreamy had gone completely white. “Filch would destroy me and feed my entrails to his cat,” I whispered.

“Next dare,” Hugo said quickly.

I picked it up. “Streak across Great Hall during morning breakfast singing “Baby” at the top of your lungs. Run to Minnie and give her big kiss on lips, and then wave arms around whilst running across Gryffindor table and back up to dormitories.”

Blondie stifled an amused snort.

“There is no way in hell I am running across the populace of our school whilst naked,” I said firmly, tossing it aside as soon as I caught the contemplative expression on Burly’s face. “And don’t even get me started on that song. I’m not kissing Minnie on the lips. No. Just no.”

“It would be super funny,” Burly tried.

I lifted the third dare to my face, though not before shooting him a venomous glare. “Broom Diving. Astronomy Tower.”

There was a hushed silence.

“What the hell is broom diving?” I demanded.

“Whatever it is, you can’t do it,” Blondie stated firmly, crossing his arms across his chest.

“I second that opinion,” Al agreed.

My left eye twitched. “Tell me what it is, and then I’ll decide whether or not I want to do it.”

“No,” Blue Eyes stated stubbornly. I looked at Burly, but he quickly averted his gaze. My eyes narrowed. I have found the weak link. I am going to exploit this to my advantage.

…Uncle Draco would be so proud of me right now. His little Gryffindor Girl, getting all Slytherin for self-benefit. He’d probably be beside himself with joy at the mere prospect of it.

With a strangled war-cry of some sort, I leaped at Burly, who let out a girlish shriek and scrambled back away from me. But my hand snatched out too fast for him – ha! I’m a trained Seeker, bitch! That’s what you get for chucking things at me! – and I pinched his ear between my forefinger and thumb. Burly’s eyes grew large.

“Not the ear,” he whimpered.

I pulled lightly, and an extremely high-pitched scream flew out of his mouth.

“It’s when you jump off the astronomy tower while you’re holding your broom in your hand and right before you splat on the bottom you get your broom underneath you and fly back up! It’s really dangerous and you shouldn’t do it please don’t rip my ear off I need that thing!” He yelled out in one breath. I sat back with a satisfied smirk.

“Thank you, Burly,” I said primly.

“I can finally believe that you’re related to Malfoy,” Blondie said hollowly, looking terrified yet impressed.

“Boys,” I announced, cracking my knuckles, “I’m going broom diving.”

***

“Don’t do it.”

“Bug off.”

“I’m serious, Ariadne. Please don’t do it.”

“Seriously. Dude. Piss off.”

“If you die, Rose will kill me!”

“She’ll kill all of us, you selfish little prat –”

“ – it’s against the school rules, Ree –”

“GUYS!” I said loudly, stopping at the edge of the astronomy tower with my broom clutched in my hand. “I chose this as my dare. Now shut up and let me do it.”

Al’s jaw locked. “You five, fly down there and set up an extremely powerful cushioning charm,” he finally said in a dark voice. They flew down without a single other word, though I could faintly hear Hugo complaining loudly to anyone who would listen that Rose was going to rip his organs out of his eyeballs and force-feed them to his mother’s insane cat Crookshanks.

“Ariadne Megara Chase,” he growled, looking unbelievably pissed. I gulped. He looks sinfully attractive. But I will not jump him. No. I won’t.  “If you get hurt, I will kill you.”

I nodded faintly, my heart thudding painfully in my chest at the rough tone his voice had taken to utter my full name. “Duly noted.”

He stepped back away from me, and I took that permission to proceed with the dare. I took a deep breath as I climbed up onto the ledge, holding my arms out on either side of me. The broom was quivering slightly in my right hand, but I suppressed the urge to jump on it while I was so high up.

I closed my eyes tightly, and before I could chicken out, I tipped forward and let myself fall. For an electrifying three seconds, all I could feel was the heavy wind against my face and my hair pulling against my scalp, but then my eyes popped open in alarm…and I was still falling, the ground a rushed blur, reaching upwards towards my face.

Wow, that tower is high up.

Struggling slightly with the push of the wind, I finally managed to get my broom underneath me – and with a powerful lurch, sudden I was hovering, airborne, gasping in huge breaths of air, my hair in tangles around my head and my cheeks flushed from the intensity of it all.

Adrenaline was pumping through my body so fast that the effects of it were making me slightly dizzy and shaky, but I still managed to wobble my way back up the astronomy tower, where Al was practically hanging out of the window-like ledge, his face drawn with worry.

I landed delicately in front of him, my broom back in my hand. For a moment we stared at each other, his eyes flicking across my face as blood pounded in my head. I felt drunk with adrenaline, high off of the amazing rush that had given me.

Then, suddenly, I grinned.

“That. Was. Fucking. Amazing.”

Al blinked. It was clear from his expression that he thought I was insane.

“I’m doing it again!” I said excitedly, turning back towards the window.

And without another word, he picked me up, slung me over his shoulder, and walked calmly down the tower and out of the school again.

Okay, I guess not.

***

Inspired by my bravery and general awesome-ness, each of the boys had also picked the option of dare when we finally re-started our game. In the span of four hours, Burly had redecorated the Great Hall in violently Gryffindor banners, colors, and other general house-pride objects; Blondie had gleefully trashed the Slytherin Common room, though not after spending the entire walk there bouncing up and down in happiness and proclaiming his dare “the best one ever”; Hugo had stolen the entire Hufflepuff sixth-year girls’ knickers (which I’m sure will earn him tons of new fan-club members); Blue had tattooed the word “POOPY” across his forehead for the week, and Dreamy was going to wear girl clothes to the next Hogsmeade visit.

And now, it is four a.m and I am swimming in the Black Lake with Al.

I don’t even know how this could have happened. The last six hours or so have sort of started to just blur together a bit. It might have been a dare. It might have just been a dumb idea, spurred on by our stupidity and the Non-Alcoholic No Inhibitions potion that Al’s Uncle George had invented for those who liked to act drunk without actually damaging their livers.

“I’m gonna make friends with Wally the Giant Squid!” I proclaimed loudly, splashing the water in a delighted sort of way.

…yeah, it was definitely the No Inhibitions.

“Just – just – use protection,” Al replied, giggling at his own cleverness.

Use protection to make friends. Okay?

But I giggled along anyway, because maybe it’s funny if he’s laughing so I might as well laugh too.

And suddenly, it just wasn’t funny anymore. The world came rushing back in a barrage of black and white Technicolor, everything sharp and defined again.

It just wasn’t funny. I was tired. I was wet. I was about to become squid food.

I sighed and kicked my feet upwards so I could float on my back. My breath fogged out in front of me as I stared up at the star-dotted sky. We’d cast a warming charm on ourselves in a brief moment of clarity before we jumped into the lake and although I should have been suffering from hypothermia by this point, I merely felt pleasantly warm.

“Do you think the party’s over?” Al’s voice seemed a thousand miles away from under the water.

“Probably,” I replied, my own voice magnified in my ears, “it’s really late. Or early. Depends on how you look at it.”

I went back to staring at the sky, liking the way that the water made it seem like I was the only one here. After a couple of moments, however, I sighed and flipped upright again, treading water.

“I think the potion wore off,” I said glumly, trailing my fingers on the surface of the lake.

Al frowned. “I think it only wore off for us,” he replied, jerking his head once towards the rest of the boys, all of whom were trying (and failing) to perform an elaborate dance of some sort with the Whomping Willow.

“That’s dangerous,” I said wisely, staring at the way one branch swiped horrifyingly close to Hugo but he jumped away just in time.

“It’s stupid, of course they’d do it,” Al replied flatly, taking a deep breath and plunging completely under the water for a moment.

I frowned to myself. Suddenly everything just seemed not as fun anymore. I didn’t understand why I was in the lake with Al. I didn’t like that the Quidditch Boys were playing with the Willow as though it was some toy and not a homicidal tree. I kind of wanted to just curl up under that blanket in the shabby room and go to sleep.

A shriek of surprise slipped past my lips as Al burst up from the water right in front of me, flinging droplets of water every which way.

“Don’t – what the fuck – Al!” I spluttered, smacking his wet shoulder with my palm. “Don’t just do that!”

He smirked. “Did I scare you?”

I shot him an unimpressed glare and plunged under the water myself, swimming lazily around his legs so that I wouldn’t have to answer that ridiculous question.

Did I scare you? Of course you did. You always do. You scare me so much because my feelings are right there, and they’re strong and real and what do you feel for me, really? Just a mate?

Just a mate.

Fuck.

But I can live with just a mate. I can. I can have fun and be a mate and not expect anything else. Al wants a mate? I’m here. I’ll be his mate. Sure. That’s fine.

I darted behind his legs and swam upwards, erupting from the water. My hands immediately wrapped around his shoulders, drenching him completely, pulling him under with me. I was laughing as we thrashed back upwards, and he was yelling obscenities as he choked on the water.

Because that is what mates do. They play around with each other. In very lighthearted ways. And I am extremely lighthearted right now. Total lightheartedness. Like a feather.

“Sorry,” I gasped as he coughed weakly and called me a ‘sadistic bitch’ one more time under his breath, “did I scare you?”

“Did you – oh, Chase, you are dead,” he promised, twisting around to grab my wrists. I laughed again as I kicked away from him, propelling myself through the water.

“You can’t catch me,” I taunted, swimming out of reach as he swiped at me again. He growled under his breath and lunged at me, but I twisted out of the way again. It turned into a game of cat-and-mouse, Al chasing as I swam out of his grip.

I bet he’s pretty angry he taught me how to dodge a bludger. Ariadne wins at life and using Quidditch skills to her advantage? Major points for me.

It was a good ten minutes before his hand closed around my slippery wrist, and even as I tried wrenching out of his grip, he twisted me around in the water and grabbed my forearms, preventing me from moving away. I was still laughing. It seemed a little forced on my part. Hey, I’m trying to be a mate. Give me some credit.

“Gotcha,” he panted, grinning in victory and letting my arms slip out of his grasp. “Hell Chase, you’re like the bleeding snitch or something.”

This time my laugh was real. “Like a snitch?” I repeated breathlessly.

“Yeah,” he confirmed, “difficult to catch, but worth it when you finally do.”

Worth it. He said I was worth it.

…Mates do that all the time. Of course they do. That’s an extremely platonic and mate-like thing to say. It doesn’t mean anything.

But my heart kicked up a notch anyway, and my mouth felt suddenly parched as I tried to remember how to breathe again.

“We should probably get back,” I whispered, flinching as soon as the words left my mouth. Stupid. Stupid Ariadne.

“Yeah,” he breathed, but he didn’t move. There was a droplet of water slipping down the side of his face. It was distracting. Less distracting then his eyes, but safer to watch.

Mates, I kept chanting over and over again. We’re mates, we’re mates, we’re mates –

I reached forward and caught the drop with my finger without thinking, my hand lingering on his jaw. When he breathed in sharply at the contact, my eyes flew to his and suddenly I realized that I needed to move right now otherwise I was going to do an extremely un-mate-like thing.

But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bloody move, and –

Then it was my turn to gasp as his hand found my waist under the water and used the hold to pull me towards him. I spluttered slightly against the waves the movement made against my chest. My hand was still on his face. Everything was just too much.

We’re just mates. We’re just mates. We’re just mates.

He put his hand against the side of my neck and moved in, his eyes still locked on mine, as if he was telling me – daring me – to tell him to stop, to move away, to prevent it from happening before it even did.

But I was frozen to the spot, half-terrified, half-exhilarated, wondering with a morbid sort of curiosity what he was going to do.

And then he leaned forward and kissed me. It wasn’t perfect – it wasn’t even close – but it was definitely a kiss, his lips sliding over mine due to the wetness of the water and mine stuttering slightly as I shivered from the cold. It was slippery and wet and clumsy and the water tasted faintly of squid poo.

(Bertie Bott’s comes out with the weirdest flavors, let me tell you.)

My lips were tingling from where they touched his, and the sparks seemed to be flowing down my body – and just before they reached my toes, completely warming me up, he pulled away.

For a second we stared at each other. He looked shocked. I don’t know what I looked like. I couldn’t really think past the tingles.

He opened his mouth. Closed it. Then opened it again. He looked like a gaping fish out of water. I didn’t really know what he was going to say, really, but my heart seemed to thump harder in my ears just waiting for him. For the wildest second I hoped that maybe he’d kiss me again –

“Shit.”

And before I could get across even a word, before it even registered in my mind, Al turned around and swam back to the shore as fast as he could go. I watched as he sprinted back to the Willow, leaving me shivering and in the middle of the Black Lake.

…well, that is definitely not what mates do.

Fuck.


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