Chapter 10 : Thunderstorm
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Katie’s eyes tiptoed on saucepan territory in response to my exciting news. I shushed her voice, which due to her astonishment had raised two octaves higher than usual.
We sat in the common room, fresh from last class of the day and the weekend on everyone’s minds. Most people occupying the circular space consisted of Ravenclaw’s most notable brainiacs, some of whom immersed themselves into some reading or kept quiet save for the sound of their quills assaulting some parchment. Although the eavesdropping of our house know-it-alls didn’t bother me, the idea of becoming the topic of gossip for the next few days certainly did. I could see it now: Ravenclaw freak-of-nature falls for Ginger Gryffindor.
I yanked Katie’s tawny hand and headed up to the dormitories, towing her along the way as we ascended the spiral staircase. Once I reached my wing, I loosened my grasp on her and free-fell onto my bed face first. I groaned loudly into the sheets.
“Oh Michelle, cut it with the theatrics,” Katie sighed. “When is this date of yours?”
“Tonight,” I said, my blankets muffling my voice. “At seven. He’s showing up outside the common room.”
Katie made a sound that crossed that of a gasp and a childish giggle. “Told you so,” she sang.
I lifted my head to look at her, baffled by the unusual behavior my best female friend was displaying. The Katie I knew was about as girly as I was; not very. Even still, she looked almost excited.
I had to ask. “And what exactly have you done with Katie Murphy?”
Again she giggled, but cut short of its full potential. “David gave me something today."
I raised an eyebrow, but before the opportunity arrived for me to ask she thrust her left hand out at me, her palm facing down. On her ring finger, the one that under traditional wedding standards would house an engagement or wedding ring, a thin silver band sat cradling a rather gaudy-looking oval gemstone. She rocked her hand back and forth as it caught the light.
My eyes widened. “You’re getting married?!” I nearly shrieked at her, my eyes glued on the eye-catching ornament.
“No! I mean not yet at least,” She replied, retrieving her hand and turning the ring around her finger. “It’s kind of like a pre-engagement gift.”
I gawked at her. “You haven’t even been with David for a year, and already you two are considering marriage?”
“Yes, I mean he’s got a good point,” She mulled as she sat down on the edge of the bed opposite of me. “We both want to marry young and join a professional Quiddich league, so why not share the experience together?”
I sighed at her; she was slowly going insane and I would be witness to it. “Alright, bride-to-be,” I teased, rolling over onto my back where I stared at the royal blue felt ceiling. “What am I going to do about this date I have tonight?”
Katie hummed inquisitively. “Have you snogged with the man yet?” she asked, her tone returning to normal.
I shook my head and she hummed again. “How about doing that?”
“What, kiss him?” I posed, and the idea didn’t sound half bad…except that we were walking in the rain and stopping for a good snog might drown us both.
The thought of kissing Fred did sound like an entirely good idea at the moment, though.
The butterflies from earlier awoke and began fluttering about my insides.
“You gotta start somewhere, ‘Chelle,” Katie said, almost singing the words with a hint of cleverness.
She had a point; if I wanted this newly-established relationship with Fred to prosper, I’d have to take action on it and the sooner the better. Not to mention the almost kiss from last night only added fuel to the fire and oh my good god I want to kiss this boy so badly –
Katie shook my shoulder and I opened my eyes. She stood looking down at me, a strange expression of confusion and assurance framed her narrow face. “You’ll be fine, kid.”
I smiled up to her. “I know, thanks Kate.”
She nodded. “I need food, like right now. Care to escort me to the Grand Hall my fine-feathered friend?”
I ceased the opportunity, imagining the texture of feathers as I concentrated on morphing my face into that of an owl. Katie grinned widely as I hooted at her and she flicked my beak in response. “You look absolutely ridiculous,” She said, ruffling the tufts on my head.
I let go of the animal features in my mind and returned to my normal appearance, laughing along with her as we exited the dormitory.
I couldn’t stop myself from pacing beside the door of the common room as I waited the last few minutes for Fred to show up. Traces of nervous sweat dampened my palms as I stuffed my hands into the folds of my grey raincoat, cursing myself for not having brought a longer style that would better suit this weather. I pushed on my cuticles as the time dragged on.
Three taps on the door made my face heat up, and I heard the eagle knocker on the outside protest something about a stranger from Gryffindor house.
I swung the door open and Fred was right there, his eyes wide in response to the insults the eagle now spat towards him.
“Don’t mind him,” I said, pulling my hair into a ponytail. “He’s a tad irritable on Fridays.”
“Ah,” Fred responded, zipping up his dark blue jacket and fastening the collar at his neck. “It’s a wet one outside today.”
“I noticed,” I replied. “Speaking of which, might I ask exactly why we are trying to soak ourselves to the bone?”
The tall redhead giggled softly as we walked down the corridor before the entrance to the school. “Because I find the rain to be rather invigorating sometimes, now put your hood up; I heard girls don’t like messing up their hair.”
I took his suggestion and flipped my hood over my head, and he did so as well.
We walked out into the steady downpour, several onlookers calling us mad or senseless and for that I couldn’t blame them; who’d want to stay out in this willingly?
Well obviously Fred, though I felt like he could dive right into the Black Lake and I’d follow him, no questions asked.
The tall freckled boy inhaled audibly. “Just take that in! The air is so fresh when it rains,” He proclaimed, lifting his arms as if he were beckoning more sheets of water down on us.
“It’s also wet,” I said, silently wishing I’d worn a thicker sweater underneath my jacket. For what it was worth, he had a point: the air did smell fresh and lush with the excess moisture, almost as if the earth were more alive with the damp weather.
We strolled down the muddy footpath that circled the school grounds without a word between us, puddles from the rain soaking my socks and the hem of my jeans. I frowned. I could understand the need to revitalize, but this was becoming rather uncomfortable. As I considered protesting to him, Fred spoke up. “So I tried to get George in detention with us for tomorrow night,” he said as we passed Hagrid’s hut and started up the hill towards the castle once more.
“And?” I asked, wiping some stray raindrops from my face.
“I failed,” he shrugged. “Tried to frame him with giving some first years a bunch of Puking Pastilles, but Mad-Eye snatched ‘em without a word.”
I winced. “Bullocks.”
Our footfalls hit stone as we neared the connecting walkway to the school.
Fred went on. “Needless to say George will have a free Saturday night.”
“Lucky prat,” I said, kicking a stick off the rocky tiling.
I heard him stifle a chuckle. “Thought I was the lucky one...”
“Huh?” I responded, puzzled by his words. He didn’t say anything further so I didn’t dwell on it.
As the remaining light of the day threatened to fade, a long rumble of thunder echoed in the distance, past the monolithic hills and mountains to the west. I felt uneasy about staying outside much longer. “Might be a good time to head indoors don’t you think?”
I turned as I hesitated and was surprised to see that I was alone. I stopped. “Fred?” I called out, raising my voice slightly. For the slightest moment, I panicked.
My hood pulled back then, and as I reached up to put it back in place of keeping my head dry Fred walked around to face me, his arm lingering on my back. He looked not only curious and thoughtful, but pleased as well.
That, and…he was positively cute right now.
He stepped closer to me, holding my head in his hands as rain began to wet my hair and face. I blinked a few stray drops as they fell on my eyelashes, looking up at him. His thumb traced my jawline and I sighed.
Instinctively, I reached up to pull his hood down as well and his smirk stretched into a wide grin. My pulse threatened to rupture my veins as he leaned down, rain collecting in the folds of our coats as our bodies pressed together. A few drops of water trickled off his face and onto my cheek.
Unable to tolerate it any longer, I pushed my heels up off the ground and our mouths collided.
His kiss was unlike anything I’d ever imagined. I felt exhilarated as I moved my lips against his own, our faces now completely soaked from the downpour above us. I held onto Fred’s neck, my fingers raking through his wet hair as his breath washed over my drenched lips. His hands stroked my chilled neck as our mouths moved together, enjoying the delicious flavor of rainwater and him. Rain fell almost harder and stronger now, most likely in response to the thunderstorm that was now approaching us.
It surprised me how naturally it came to me as I continued to kiss Fred, completely unaware of the outside world and wishing this moment would last forever. It was breathtaking, and for reasons other than the obvious. It was almost like we moved in sync with one another; there was nothing awkward about it, and I felt like my feet weren’t on the ground.
And for the most part they really weren’t, as I stood on my tiptoes to reach him better. I planted the balls of my feet on the wet earth again as our lips parted and I looked up to Fred with what probably could have been my most awe-stricken face ever. He smiled back to me, looking as pleased as I felt. My bangs sat plastered to my forehead and I could tell they were no longer red, but a deep fuchsia color undoubtedly darkened by the rain.
I sighed, grinning like a complete dork as he took my hand and tangled our wet fingers together. My palms felt somewhat pruney from the moisture, but I didn’t care.
We resumed our walk back to the castle, hand in hand and reveling in a dopey mood. I hummed happily. “That was…nice.”
“Ehhh,” said Fred with a skeptical look. “Could have been better.”
I stopped, my mood doing a double-flip and annoyance taking over. “I beg your pardon?!”
He snorted, tightening his grasp on my hand. “Easy, easy! Just a joke!”
I launched myself, pouncing on Fred and pushing him down to the wet grass off the path as I tackled him into submission. Pinning his arms against his side as he struggled to break free, I smiled triumphantly down to him. “Now what were you saying about my kissing being unsatisfactory?”
Fred tried to wiggle his arms loose from my grip but eventually gave in. “You’re stronger than you look, missy.”
I lifted a hand to flick his nose, but just as I let my guard down Fred flipped me over and in an instant we’d switched positions, my jeans soaking rapidly as he straddled my waist. Raindrops drummed on my face as he held my hands down on the soggy grass and winked at me. “I’m stronger, though.”
“You also play Quiddich, so that’s not fair,” I objected, trying to free myself before the inside of my jacket got damp.
“Michelle,” Fred cooed, looking down at me. He released my arms, though before I had time to react he leaned down and planted another kiss on my lips. The second time around was even better, and my mouth tingled against his own as Fred kissed me with more fervor and want apparent in his breath. I smiled against his lips.
Mind equals blown.
Suddenly a light flashed from above, so bright that I saw it through closed eyes. I pushed Fred up instantly. “Okay, lightning, being outside right now is not a good idea.”
The drenched boy nodded at me and took my hand, helping me up and escorting me back to the school and out of the darkness of nighttime. Our waterlogged sneakers squeaked against the stone tile as we passed through the side entrance and into a short corridor, gathering the stares of whoever was occupying it. Whispers erupted amongst them.
“Oh grow some!” Fred bellowed down the hall at the onlookers. “A little water never hurt anyone.”
I giggled as he took my hand in his and strode down the hallway, looking too proud for his own good.
We passed the Charms classroom and I asked, “Exactly where are we going now?”
Fred smirked, running a free hand through his wet hair. “You’re dropping me off at my common room. After all, I picked you up.” He shrugged. “Only fair.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him but said no more. This boy was strange, and I liked it.
We reached the staircase that led to the Gryffindor common room after a series of short corridors and I sighed. The night had gone by so fast, and yet I felt like it was just getting started. As we headed up the stairs the The Fat Lady immediately recognized me, an apparently irritated yet complacent look on her face; she looked as though she would rip my head off if it were at all possible, though had chosen not to do so regardless.
Fred turned back to me and wrapped me in a tight hug, our coats making obnoxious sounds as the wet material pressed against one another through our embrace. I had to laugh at it; it sounded downright silly.
I released him from my hug and abruptly his expression changed to look like an idea had fallen on his shoulders. “Wait here, I’ll be right back,” He instructed me before murmuring the access password to The Fat Lady and climbing through the portrait door.
I stood quietly, awkwardly fidgeting with the drawstrings on my jacket. The plump woman in the painting thankfully paid no interest in me as I waited for Fred to return. He did so moments later, his jacket gone and holding a lump of black fabric. He held it out for me, a hood revealing that it was a sweater. “Here, put this on and take that wet rag off.”
I did as he told and shrugged out of my soaked-through raincoat and he took it from me. He replaced it with the sweater which surprisingly felt already warm. “Was this sitting near a wood stove or something?” I asked him, working my arms through the sleeves that were far too long for me.
“Err no,” mumbled Fred, and I swore I could detect a hint of a blush on his freckled cheeks. “I was wearing it.”
I blushed in response as well. “Oh.”
It smelled amazing.
“This on the other hand,” He said holding up my still dripping coat, “I will be holding hostage for the time being.”
I gave the tall redhead a mockingly apprehensive look. “Umm, exactly what are you going to do to my coat?”
“Unspeakably naughty things,” Fred joshed, wiggling his eyebrows in a suggestive manner.
I rolled my eyes at him. “I don’t think it would like that very much.”
He flung the wet jacket over his shoulder. “You don’t know that!”
“Okay seriously,” I nudged his arm, trying to grab my coat as it began wetting his brown long sleeve shirt. “Why can’t I have it back?”
“I’m planning on charming this thing dry,” He mused, patting the wet mound of jacket. “If I’m successful you can have it back tomorrow.”
I shook my head at the adorable boy standing before me, sliding my wand out from inside my sleeve. I aimed it at the top of his noggin, and just as he donned an inquisitive look I whispered the drying spell I’d memorized like the back of my hand. His neck-length ginger hair bounced somewhat from the sudden dryness the charm had brought, and his eyes lit up; I’d impressed him.
With a quick turn of my wand I dried my shockingly pink mane as well, not even bothering to worry about the fluorescent shade for the time being. I was staring deeply into Fred’s warm, mossy-brown eyes, and he was staring right back into mine.
You-Know-Who could come prancing down the stairs and I wouldn’t think twice about it.
As I dried the coat draped over Fred’s shoulder he sauntered over to hug me goodnight, his long arms wrapping around me tightly. I snuggled into him eagerly, smiling like a giddly child into his neck. He rested his head on top of mine and said, “I like you, ‘Chelle.”
As if my heart needed another reason to burst out of my chest…
“I like you too, Freddie,” I murmured against his skin, his hair tickling my eyelids.
He let me go then and I fell back to earth, almost needing to steady myself without him to hold onto. As he said goodnight and slipped through the portrait door to the Gryffindor common room, his head peeked out to wink at me. “See you in detention tomorrow.”
I smirked. “Can’t wait.”
I don’t think I could ever be more right about that, even if I tried.
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