“Agent Orange, this is Thunderbird, reporting. Target has left the building. I repeat, Target has left the building.”
“I told you, I don’t want to be Agent Orange!”
“At least you didn’t get the name ‘Agent Soft Hair’. Honestly, Aiden, how do you even know if my hair’s soft or not?”
“Oi! On this mission, you call me Thunderbird!”
“Aiden, this is stupid.”
“Your face is stupid, Dom.”
“What did you just say?”
“Shhh! Filch’s coming!”
“Ouch! Aiden, not so fast, that was my foot!”
“Shut it, Agent Thorn, and get into the cupboard!”
“I’ll save you, Rosie!”
“Shut up, Scorp, Flich’s coming!”
Al pulled me into the broom cupboard, where Dom, Aiden, Scorpius, and Rose had already stuffed themselves inside. The broom cupboard was larger than most, but it was still cramped with six seventeen year olds trying to fit inside of it.
“Agent Orange, your hair is suffocating me!” Aiden hissed at me. I elbowed him in the stomach, and he bent over, hissing in pain.
“I told you not to call me Agent Orange!” I whispered angrily at him.
“Agent Soft Hair, control your woman’s temper!” Aiden ordered Al.
I spun around as best I could in the cramped space to glare at Al, who looked frightened.
“Aiden, I don’t think that’s the best idea.”
“I am not anybody’s woman!”
“Nobody’s saying you are, Del—well, except this idiot over here, but don’t listen to him.”
“Do not disrespect your leader, Agent Veela.”
“The day you’re my leader is the day I die.”
Aiden looked indignant, but Rose shut him up with a glare. We all listened intently as Filch shuffled by our cupboard. When Al gave the all-clear (he was using his Marauder’s Map) we tumbled out into fresh air.
“Holy shit it was smelly in there.”
I rolled my eyes at Al’s assessment. “Great. But we’re late to pick up Lauren and meet Molly and the others, so we should probably get going.”
“Shit!” Aiden swore loudly. This received half a dozen shhhs and reproachful glares.
We jogged through the castle to get to Lauren and the others (do you know how big Hogwarts is? Pretty fucking big), and by the time we reached them, I was completely out of breath. My legs felt like jell-o and my breathing was fast. I could feel my heart thudding in my chest.
“So—tired—” I gasped. Dom collapsed on the front lawn. Lauren looked down at her, slightly amused.
“What held you up?”
“Filch.” Aiden explained. “Sorry. Did you have to wait too long?”
“I’m fine.” Lauren said drily. “Molly and the others showed up before you. They went ahead to make sure no teachers are at Hogsmeade.”
“Let’s go, then.” Al said. He didn’t seem to be out of breath at all. I glared up at him from my position on the ground, next to Dom.
“Let me rest! Jeez, man, you’re like a psycho-machine! Like Cylons, dude!”
Al looked amused. “Cylons, Del, really? You would watch Battle Star Galactica.”
“Shut up,” I muttered.
“Enough, you two, I want to get to Hogsmeade before midnight.” Aiden told us. Al shrugged and pulled me off the ground.
“Come on, guys. It’s just a bit of a walk, and then we get Butterbeers.” He said encouragingly.
Al, ever the optimist.
“Hang on, guys, Rose needs to do the Dislusions.” Scorpius said, holding us back.
Rose walked around, tapping us all on the head one by one. I shivered when she reached me, and looked down at my body. I hadn’t become invisible, but a human chameleon.
Al’s voice came from the right of me. “This is weird. I don’t know where anyone is.”
The Dislusions were a precautionary measure. The penalty for being out of bed after curfew was detention, but the penalty for being down in Hogsmeade after hours was expulsion. It would be especially bad for Lauren, who didn’t have permission to be down there anyway.
I reached towards Al’s voice, groping the air where I thought he was standing. My hand brushed skin, probably his arm, and he jumped.
“Who was that?”
“It was me, you idiot.” I hissed. I reached for his hand again, and he grasped it tightly this time, as if he was consoling himself that, he wasn’t the only one there.
“This is bizarre.” He muttered to me as I stepped closer to him. I nodded fervently, and then remembered that he couldn’t see me.
“Yeah.” I responded.
“This way, guys.” Aiden’s voice rang out.
“We know the way to Hogsmeade, Aiden.” Dom said irritably.
“Will you two shut up?” Rose asked.
I could practically hear Dom snarl at her. Apparently, the fact that Rose got Scorpius was still a sore subject for her.
Rose paused, and then apologized. “Sorry, Dom.”
To Dom’s credit, she took it like a lady. “That’s quite alright, Rose.” She said. But I could still sense her irritation.
“They’re still mad at each other?” Al whispered in my ear.
“Yeah,” I breathed. “Or, at least, Dom’s still touchy around Rose.”
“Shame, I was starting to enjoy peacefulness,” Al responded jokingly.
We listened to the others argue for a few moments, before Al whispered what I was thinking.
“D’you want to just walk ahead and get away from them?”
“Please,” I said fervently.
We ran ahead, giggling furiously into our hands. When we reached Hogsmeade, we were thoroughly out of breath and covered in mud.
“Come here,” I said, laughing. I pulled Al into an alleyway, and paused. It would be somewhat difficult to kiss him when I couldn’t see him.
Al seemed to be thinking along the same lines, but he had obviously figured out a solution. He brushed his hand up my arm, his touch feather light. This was just to figure out where my head was, but even so, my stomach flip-flopped and I felt goosebumps rise in a trail wherever his fingers touched.
Once he located my face, he twisted his fingers into the roots of my hair in the back of my head, and his free hand found mine and brought it up to his lips. He planted a butterfly kiss on my fingertips, and I stood on tiptoe to kiss him.
It was a slow kiss. Al was being gentle with me. We had to be careful what we did, too, because we couldn’t see. Everything seemed to be in slow motion.
After a little while, we broke apart. The Dislusion had worn off, I realized, and we hadn’t even noticed. I laughed, and he said, “We should probably be getting back to the others.”
“Oh, alright.” I conceded. “But only because you asked nicely.”
“Where’ve you been?” Nathan asked us as we walked in, hand in hand.
“Snogging?” Lauren asked with laughter in her eyes as she sipped her butterbeer.
“No,” Al said, turning red. I rolled my eyes.
“The color of your cheeks says different.” Molly sang.
“Shut up,” I sang back.
We turned our attention back to Lauren. “So?” Aiden was asking. “How do you like Hogsmeade?”
“I dunno about Hogsmeade,” Lauren said. “I haven’t even seen much of it yet!” She added at our surprised expressions. “But I love this butterbeer!” She said, downing the rest of her mug in one gulp.
“More please.” Aiden called to the barmaid. She refilled Lauren’s glass.
“I’d go slowly on that if I were you.” I told her.
Lauren paused, the mug halfway to her lips. “Why?” She asked.
“It’s not strong, but it does have alcohol in it.” I told her. “There’s a reason they only let third years and up go to Hogsmeade.”
Lauren glanced at the mug of butterbeer, and put it back down on the table.
Aiden rolled his eyes at me and said, “She’s lying, Lauren. That’s fine to drink. It affects house-elves, not humans.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “It only affects house-elves because they’re small. Lauren’s roughly the size of a large house-elf.”
“She is not!” Aiden exclaimed, glancing at Lauren, who was trying to slide under the table, her cheeks faintly pink.
“Is so!” I argued. I turned to the others. “Back me up!”
Rose shrugged. “She is kind of too young to have two in a row, Aiden.” She said.
Dom immediately disagreed with Rose, which I didn’t take very seriously. “She’s fine, Rose. Learn to live a little!”
While the others argued amongst each other about whether or not Lauren should have the other butterbeer, Lauren gave the mug back to the barmaid and ordered a glass of water. The barmaid went to the back room to get it, and she came back out with a clear glass, condensation dripping down the sides.
Lauren took the water and sipped it. A moment later, she got an odd expression on her face. The others stopped arguing.
“Lauren?” Aiden asked. “Are you okay?”
Lauren opened her mouth to respond, but all that came out was a choked noise. A second later, she fell to the floor, unconscious.
“Oh Merlin!” Molly screamed.
“What happened?” Nathan asked urgently.
I shook my head, not knowing myself.
Then it clicked. The water.
Lauren was poisoned.
I know, it's short. Bear with me! There's only like seven more chatpers left, okay? I'll post 18 soon.