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Chapter 11 : And I Wish It Could Get Back There
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And I wish it could get back there, some place back there,
Smiling in the pictures you would take,
. . .
And I want something else,
To get me through this life baby.
- Semi-Charmed Life, Third Eye Blind
As I watched Lupin (and, now, several other students) searching frantically through textbooks in the library, I felt a sure sense of satisfaction.
Beside, me, I heard a devilish giggle. I turned and saw Nicola standing there next to me.
“Damn, Nicki! You came out of no where!” I cried quietly.
She shrugged and smirked. "You know how sneaky I am."
“The sneakiest,” I agreed. It was true. She was pretty sneaky. So sneaky, if fact, that I had recruited her in my latest mission to (harmlessly) destroy Hogwarts from the inside. Nicki was both beautiful and brilliant. She had gorgeous long brown hair that was highlighted with summery streaks of blonde even in the winter, and a body that was to die for. Nicki’s cheeks and lips were always rosy, and she had beautiful, straight white teeth that you could always see, because she was always smiling.
She did fairly well in every subject, but she was a bloody genius when it came to Potions, even better than Hermione Granger. (And Potter who was apparently suddenly the top of our year in Potions . . . I didn’t buy it. If anyone knew about a hoax, it was me.)
Nicki and I had been in the same house and year since our First year, but I hadn’t met her until the beginning of this year. I had been sitting around with Dean, Seamus, Lavender and Parvati, when Nicki came up and sat next to the girls. We'd all been forced to study more than we usually would, due to the growing amount of work the professors were assigning. Being honest, I was looking at my books more than reading them, but I was honestly trying.
“What a studious year we have,” I’d commented.
Nicki looked up, smirked and said, “I only study during the week so I can party hard on the weekends.”
We’d been friends since then.
“So . . .” she began, after surveying just a small portion of what we’d caused. “Sex in the stacks?”
. . . And sometimes we were friends whose clothes fell off when we were in the same room together. No big deal.
I smirked. “Oh, you know it.”
Nicki sent a sexy smile my way as she readjusted her uniform and her robes so that it didn’t appear as if we’d just had a romp in the library. “You’re great,” she complimented.
“What do you mean?” I asked, straightening myself out as well.
Nicki appeared to think about it a moment before saying, “I really like having sex with you.”
I laughed and returned the flattery. “Now, should we head out to the grounds and see what sort of trouble my brilliant plan and your brilliant potion have caused?”
“Definitely!” she exclaimed.
After a quick glance around the corner to be sure that no one saw us leave conspicuously (Nicki and I were keeping our hook-up under wraps) we booked it from the library (that place and Pince gave me the creeps) and made our way down to the Entrance Hall. Nicki pushed open the door and practically pranced through it. The way causing trouble excited her was so hot.
We sat down together on the stone steps outside of the school.
“I can’t believe we actually pulled it off,” she gushed, as we witnessed a guy get slapped in the face by his irate girlfriend.
“I know!” I whispered excitedly back, throwing an arm around her shoulder. “I’m so proud of us!”
It was an ingenious plan, really. My idea had been to whip up a few batches of veritaserum, have a few cooperative house elves toss it into the food, and watch the chaos ensue. I’d confided in Nicki about my plan and altered it in a way that I never could have imagined, and most certainly couldn’t have done on my own . . . Nicki had experimented in the dungeons for weeks trying to come up with a veritaserum that was potent enough to take effect in even smaller doses, and would last near a week, for maximum destruction.
I was her test subject . . . It had been a difficult few weeks.
But she’d finally succeeded, and I (under Nicki’s watchful eye) helped brew several cauldrons full of our new-and-improved veritaserum. It didn’t take much convincing once I told the house elves it was a vitamin supplement that Professor Slughorn had brewed.
Whoopsie, I lied.
Nicki and I had avoided the effects by eating only things that didn’t have heavy preparations involved on the day that we poisoned Hogwarts. Whole fruits, toast, un-marinated meats. It was a sparse day for the both of us, but we’d decided that the sacrifice had to be made for the sake of us not running around blabbing all the secrets we both knew we had.
“How long do you think it will take before everyone figures it out?” I asked.
Nicki pondered for a while before answering, “If we’re lucky, they’ll never find out. It will wear off in a week. It’ll take a really curious person to dig deep enough to figure it out, and they’ll have to be good enough at potions to realize what I’ve done.”
I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that one bit. “Well, I like people to know what I’ve done,” I claimed. “We’ll have to come up with a failsafe, just in case no one figures it out.”
“Alright.” Nicki looked skeptical. “Just don’t include me when you talk about your grand plan. I want to remain anonymous; my Mum would kill me if I got in trouble for this sort of chaos.”
I shrugged. “Okay, then. Should we go eat?”
“I suppose.” We left the chaos outside only to be met with some more on the inside.
Nicki was reveling in the chaos that had been brewed in only a few days when a girl that I had hooked up with once in the past came up to me and grabbed my arm. “Al!” she cried.
Nicki stopped to wait for me (probably to laugh, actually) and the girl – whose name was Kara – looked deep into my eyes. “Al,” she repeated more quietly. “I know we were only together once, but I fell for you. I know you’re bad for me, but being with you just feels so good.”
I looked desperately back at Nicki, hoping that she would offer some sort of help to my situation. She did no such thing. Nicki did the very least that she could; she covered her laughter in a coughing fit once she caught sight of Kara’s face. She looked horrified at what she said and burst into tears.
Contrary to what Will and Lupin believed, I didn’t get my kicks from making people sad and miserable . . . That was kind of an unfortunate side effect of my ultimate goal to be as happy as I could be.
But that didn’t mean that I knew how to appropriately handle that type of situation. Kara looked like she wanted nothing more than to run, but it seemed that her feet were glued to the spot, waiting for my response. “Er . . .”
I looked from Kara, to Nicki, then back to Kara again.
"Bye!” I yelled before sprinting through the throng in the Entrance Hall and arriving safely in the Great Hall.
Nicki glared at me all the way to the table and continued to do so until I finally threw down my fork and knife and turned to her. “What is your problem?” I asked.
“You just broke the girl's heart. And not in the nice way. In the completely insensitive way,” she accused.
“Yeah . . .” I agreed. “But I didn’t do it on purpose. Honest.”
Nicki sighed and shook her head. “I know. You can’t help it that you’re a complete arse.”
I nodded sagely. “True.”
I was about to return to my meal when I caught sight of a potential disaster. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Emma enter the Great Hall.
Emma was a friend of mine – a girl I’d met at a big interhouse party about a month before. She was in Hufflepuff, and a Fifth year. She wasn’t hot per-se, but she was cute. Her light brown hair hit her shoulders and she was tall and slender. I’d never been in a serious relationship before, but Emma and I were talking.
Talking. What an ambiguous word. To some it means light conversing, to some it means deep conversation, and when used in the right context, it means ‘you have about a month to ask me out, otherwise you’ve broken protocol.’
So, Emma and I had been talking. We’d been flirting between classes, and even exchanging owls at night. I think I sort of liked her.
She wasn’t the trouble. The trouble was when Emma caught sight of me and started making her way over to Nicki and I. Neither girl knew about each other. I knew that Nicki would be cool; like me, she wasn’t into relationships. It was just convenient for us to sleep together since we were both hot, single, and good in bed.
But Emma didn’t know that I was sleeping with another girl. Now, I didn’t know exactly how this ‘talking’ nonsense worked, and sleeping with a girl while talking to another girl seemed like sort of a gray area, but I knew enough about girls to know that most of them would not be happy about that.
“I’ll be back,” I said quickly to Nicki. I jumped up and walked fast, but not so fast that I would bring suspect onto me. I stopped by Seamus and Dean, and engaged them quickly in conversation. I wanted Nicki to think that I had gotten up to talk to them, and I wanted Emma to think that I had stopped to talk to them on my way to seeing her.
“You’re going to get found out,” Dean taunted, picking up on what was going on. He was too astute for my own good. “Shut up,” I muttered, as Emma approached and greeted me.
“Hey,” she said shyly, a slight pink tint flushing her cheeks.
“Hey yourself,” I countered.
“Some friends and I are having a pickup Quidditch game later tonight if you want to join?” she asked.
“Definitely,” I agreed.
“See you around.” She smiled and the trotted off to the Hufflepuff table to her gaggle of friends.
I turned back to Seamus and Dean, both of whom were looking at me with big, cheesy smiles. “You’re gonna get caught. You’re gonna get caught,” they chanted.
This continued for about a half a minute until I looked purposefully at Seamus and Dean said, “Really now?”
I had meant to look super intimidating, and maybe imply that I knew something about the two of them that they didn't know I knew . . . But I didn't know anything, and I hadn't actually thought it would work.
Seamus sobered up real quick. Not Dean, though. But I was having a good day, so I decided to ignore the looming thought in the back of my mind, and walked away.
I sat down with Nicki and we continued to eat. Whenever I ate with Nicki, it always took me twice as long. That girl had me laughing harder than a drunk Seamus, which was saying a lot. After we finished eating, Nicki popped a mint into her mouth and tossed one to me. “So . . . Wanna burn some of those dessert calories?” she proposed.
“Do you even have to ask?”
After Nicki and I had gone a few rounds, she dressed herself quickly and hurried off to do something or other. I was never really sure what Nicki did with her time, but she always had plans with someone to do something.
That was fine with me. It saved me from explaining why I had to run off after dinner. I met with Emma and her friends just outside the Entrance Hall. They were all girls, but I certainly didn’t mind being surrounded by several attractive (and some slutty) Fifth years.
“Hey, there.” I smiled at Emma.
She smiled coyly back and we all split into teams .
“You ready?” she asked, after we found ourselves on different teams. “We’re going to beat you so bad. But at least you’ll look good losing,” she said.
“And I’m sure you’ll look good winning,” I added.
One by one, Emma and her friends left our big group walking through the castle, heading off to their respective common rooms. Only her friend Hayden (who I was relatively friendly with also) was in Gryffindor, and came all the way up to the tower with me.
At this time that she accosted me with her words.
“So,” she began casually, as we stood, waiting for the stairs to change, “you and Emma have been talking for a while.”
I hadn’t been expecting an attack; she’d completely caught me off guard.
“Er, yes, I suppose,” I answered.
Hayden flipped her dark hair behind her shoulders as she continued. “You guys are cute together.”
“Are we?” I asked, trying to avoid the conversation that she clearly wanted to have.
“Definitely,” Hayden said cheerfully. “Do you think you two are going to go out?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, non-committal. “I mean. She’s really sweet and I like her, but I’m Al. Al Black. I don’t do relationships.”
Hayden appeared troubled upon hearing that. “So you’ve been leading her on?”
Ugh. ‘Leading her on.’ I was extremely familiar with that phrase. Usually, it was coming from a girl who was holding a drink (about to be thrown in my face), and sounded a little more like, “You lead me on, you lousy, fucking arse.”
“No,” I jumped to my defense. “I like her. I really do. I just . . . It just might take a little longer for me, you know?”
Hayden nodded, and spent the remainder of our walk convincing me why I should go out with Emma. (Thankfully, it was just a few minutes before she went up to the Fifth year girl’s dormitory, and I could escape to my own.)
I was both physically and mentally exhausted by the time I collapsed onto my four-poster. I buried my face in my pillow and groaned. What a tangled web of stupidity I’d woven. I’d have to break things off with Nicki (incidentally, my second-longest hook-up, and definitely my most fun and adventurous sex partner ever), and get my head on straight in a manner timely enough to satisfy Hayden. Not to mention, keep Emma from ever finding out about Nicki.
“Hate to say I told you so,” Dean chimed from across the room.
No you don’t, you prick, I thought.
But instead of throwing a pillow at him like I normally might, I closed my eyes and let myself drift off to sleep.
“So, Nicki,” I began as we both stood in the owlery, alone, and stroking Kiele, my Mum’s owl.
She looked up from the owl and waited patiently on what I was about to say. It was a testament to how much I’d matured over the past year or-so that I felt any remorse at all for what I was about to do . . . Or the fact that I was considering entering a relationship of any kind, at all.
“There’s this girl I’ve been talking to . . . Emma . . . And I think that we actually have a chance at a relationship.”
I tried to figure out what Nicki was thinking, but I couldn’t tell from her facial expression. She had her poker face on, and just kept on petting that fucking owl.
“And that means,” I paused again, “that we can’t keep doing what we’re doing.”
Nicki nodded. “Obviously.”
“Are you . . . okay?” I asked. I knew that Nicki wasn’t a fan of relationships either, but we’d had a pretty special thing going. She’d honestly meant more to me than any other girl before.
She nodded as if it wasn’t even a question. “Of course.”
“ . . . Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’m good,” she replied. Nicki sounded so certain that I couldn’t even question it. “But you realize that now this owl is my favorite person in the room, right?” She laughed easily.
I sighed in relief and laughed with her. She’s making jokes . . . Not crying . . . Praise Godric and hallelujah!
“Well, if I’m not mistaken, there’s a very large bottle of firewhiskey that’s calling our names,” Nicki said, smirking like the devil.
“Oh, fuck yeah there is!” I cried.
Laughing and talking about the terrifying combination we made with her brains and my dastardly plans, we made our way back to the Gryffindor common room. We toasted and cheered to our immense triumph over the students and teachers of Hogwarts.
I took a swig from the bottle, relishing in the burning sensation down my throat and the spreading warmth of firewhiskey throughout my body. "To pulling one of the greatest pranks known to man!"
"Here, here!" Nicki hollered after taking her own swig.
"To causing some of the most amusing and damaging trouble ever created!"
"To our complete and utter fucking brilliance!" I roared finally, taking a long, hard swig from the large bottle.
"Here, here!" Nicki grabbed the bottle from me and took and impressive gulp.
It several large sips later that I got ballsy. Upon thinking about it later on, it was probably a little too ballsy.
“Hey, Nicki,” I whispered into her ear as I practically stumbled into her. “What do you say we give it one last go around? Like a victory lap, yeah?”
She agreed enthusiastically and with a wink, she beckoned me up the staircase to my dorm.
Because the gentleman in me says not to, I won’t divulge the details. Let’s just say . . . I was really fucking thrilled that Nicki agreed to that victory lap. (I’m pretty sure my compilation of hot, inappropriate memories wouldn’t be complete without that night.)
Too drunk and too tired to do anything else, I pulled the curtains around us and we passed out.
When I woke up the next morning, Nicki was gone and I was left with nothing other than blurry memories of an awesome romp in the sheets and half a bottle of firewhiskey. I contemplated taking a swig of the stuff to ease me into my day, but I thought better of it. There was a rager happening that night and I was going to need all of it.
“Wake up, you lazy arse,” I heard yelled from across the room. I guess Dean had heard me rustling around as I battled my morning hangover. He always got up so damn early and got upset that no one else was stupid enough to do that.
I grunted and he countered with an offer. “Breakfast?”
I sighed and ripped my curtains open. “Yeah,” I grumbled. “Just give me a minute.”
Less than five minutes later, we’d roused Seamus and were on our way to the Great Hall for breakfast, which was actually more like lunch. When I got there, I saw Emma.
She smiled widely at me and I smiled back. She flounced over from the Hufflepuff table and greeted us all with a shy smile.
“Good morning, you lot!” she said enthusiastically.
Dean and Seamus – friendly enough with Emma – greeted her, but Nicki didn’t pick her head up from the table. In her defense, she was prone to day-ruining hangovers. I didn’t really blame her.
“So, er, did you want to meet up for dinner later today?” she asked.
“Yeah, sure,” I agreed, with only a slight hesitation.
“Great! Well, I’ve got to get off to my friends,” she chirped.
Emma walked away and I helped myself to some toast. “Toast?” I offered the slumped figure that was Nicki.
She moaned and raised her head just long enough to shake her head feebly. I laughed at her. “Your Scottish accent came out last night,” I taunted. Nicki had grown up in Scotland and moved to England when she was nine. Normally a Scottish accent wasn’t anything to make fun of, but for whatever reason, Nicki’s only came out when she got belligerently drunk. The rest of the time she sounded like a regular English bird.
She made a rude hand gesture. It was a viscous cycle; Nicki got upset with me when I made fun of her accent, but I only made fun of her accent because she got upset with me.
“You better go down to the dungeons and brew yourself a pick-me-up potion,” I said, changing the subject and deciding to lay off of making fun of her while she was in such a fragile and volatile state. “We have a busy night ahead of us.”
The thought of raging always perked Nicki up. She smiled, jumped up, shouted, “I’m off!” And sped down to the dungeons, presumably to brew her brilliant hangover cure.
As soon as she was gone I turned to Dean and Seamus. “So . . . Last night I broke things off with Nicki.”
Seamus seamed mostly uninterested, but Dean's attention was piqued. “And?” he queried.
I shrugged. “She took it great. Like, really great. She’s so fucking cool.”
Dean looked almost disappointed, but then he gave me a congratulatory clap on the shoulder. “You lucked out, mate,” he said. “Maybe next time, don’t play so dangerously.”
“Well, you know me. I like to live on the edge,” I replied jokingly. But it wasn’t actually a joke. I did sort of live on the edge. It was more because I didn’t consider consequences than because I liked the thrill, but that’s just being nitpicky.
“Well, the edge is going to get you slapped.”
The post dinner hours found most of us older Gryffindors in the common room, pushing aside furniture and bringing out the punch bowls. The rest of the world may have been cowering in their dorms with tape over their mouths, frightful of letting some dark secret slip, but us Gryffindors were brave and fearless and we would be taking advantage of the lack of classes to party until we passed out.
Hells yeah, bitches.
“Let’s get this party started!”
All eyes in the room turned to the excited yelling that had come from the cluster of couches we’d move. Nicki stood on top of one of the couches, holding a large cup (presumably filled with alcohol) above her head.
An excited cheer erupted from everyone else in the common room.
That was Nicki’s thing – the being drunk before everyone else. It was almost a guarantee that Nicki would have a drink in her hand at least two hours before everyone else.
“Party!” she yelled.
Applause and yells erupted again.
Again with the excited shouts.
Finally, Megan walked over and offered Nicki her arm to help her down. “Will you get down, you nutter?”
Nicki shrugged and jumped down, stumbling but recovering once she hit the ground. I saw Megan roll her eyes and walk over to the punch bowl, where she took a practically overflowing glass and downed it in a few seconds.
She saw me looking incredulously at her. “What? I’m catching up,” she justified.
I put up my hands in a surrendering gesture; I was no one to judge.
But really . . .That girl has a problem and she should consider drinking a little less . . .
Us party-harders were just starting to get going with an owl tapped at the window. Mum and Dad had always taught me to answer owls at the windows. If you don’t answer them there, well, they find other ways. (Let’s just say, when I tried to ignore Mum and Dad’s owls my First year, they starting training our owls to be violent and persistent.)
I opened up the window and grabbed the letter; the stayed. My name was scrawled in neat script on the outside of the rolled parchment. I knew it was from Emma. She liked to send notes throughout the day and night to keep in touch. It was cute.
It read: Hannah just downed five glasses of firewhiskey. She’s going to be so gone. Haha.
I said it was cute – not important.
I wrote her a quick note back and sent it away with the owl. I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to keep doing that tonight, because I planned on not being able to see straight within a half hours time.
Two hours later, I was well past my goal.
The party was in full swing, and our friend Cormac McClaggen had gone and dared Nicki, “I bet you won’t go swim in the lake right now!”
What Cormac and the rest of our friends did not know was that in addition to being easily convinced and open to basically any idea when drinking, Drunk Nicki had a serious love of swimming.
“Puh-lease,” she slurred, putting down her drink and standing up straight. “You don’t have to dare me! I’ll do it for fun!” Then she turned to me, demanding I join her outside as well.
So, as Nicki, Cormac and I made our way down to the freezing lake, most of the rest of the party crowded out onto the roof outside the tower to see the hilarity that would ensue.
We all marched (okay, stumbled) down to the edge of the lake. It was a bit eery but in my incredibly drunken state, I brushed it off. In fact, I felt a bit like hero in an action movie – a Bad Arse Mother Fucker, otherwise known as a B.A.M.F
The group of idiots had started cheering loudly, despite the fact that everyone knew how McGonagall felt about loud parties. Finally someone had the sense to notice Cormac, jumping up and down, gesturing to shut up already, and they stood tittering like a band of stupid baboons.
Nicky stripped to her knickers, and everyone hollered at that. (Though how could they not? It was a sight to see, as was any near-naked girl.)
“Maybe a few more drinks in her and she would have stripped down completely,” Cormac half-joked. He glanced towards Nicki, then turned back to me and lowered his voice. “So, her boobs. Are they nice?”
"You can't see them for yourself? Get your eyes checked, mate," I advised.
Even in the dark, I could see Cormac roll his eyes. "Please. Everyone knows that you two are shagging."
“What?” I balked. “Nicki and I? Nah way, man.”
“Please. You two think you’re inconspicuous. Your roommates know – that’s one strike against you because those two have bigger mouths than anyone I’ve met – not to mention that neither of you know what discretion is.”
“Er.” I didn’t have anything to say to Cormac.
But apparently he wasn’t done questioning me. “So. Boobs?”
“Yes. She has them.”
Cormac whacked me in the shoulder. “Fucker."
"You're the fucker," I retorted.
For just a few seconds I had a moment of clarity and understood what Lupin meant when she said, "All of you boys are idiots. Complete idiots."
By the lake, Nicki was shivering like mad and preparing to take the dive. She looked as if she was about to jump; she crouched, and the jumped backwards instead.
“What’s the matter? Afraid?”
Nicki turned around and glared at me. “What afraid that my body might freeze up and I’ll die in the icy water? Yeah. A little bit.”
Cormac pulled out his wand. “Here, let me help,” he offered. He muttered a spell under his breath and Nicki gave another little shiver.
Cormac put away his wand and smiled. “The lake should feel warm as bath water when you jump in.”
Nicki dipped her toes into the water and smiled greatly. She sauntered up to Cormac and put her hand on the pocket where Cormac had just slipped his wand. “You’re pretty handy with that thing,” Nicki commented, winking up at the tall boy.
Well, this is awkward, I thought.
I suppose it made sense. Nicki was drunk off her arse the first time I got her in my bed. I think drinking was just bad for her. She seemed to make a lot of bad decisions when she drank.
“Well, I am about to get an ‘O’ on my Charms N.E.W.T. in the spring,” he boasted.
Nicki then made a face at him. “Nevermind. You’re unpleasant.”
As Nicki ran back to the edge of the water, I couldn’t even hold in my laughter. Cormac gestured rudely at me as I dropped to the ground, clutching my stomach.
I decided I had to show him how it was really done. I walked up behind her and slipped my arm around her waist. “So, you know that everyone knows about us?”
Nicki looked curiously at me. “How’d they find out?” she asked.
“Apparently we’re not discreet,” I repeated what Cormac had said to me.
She nodded appreciatively at what I said. “Very true.”
“So, are you going to jump, or not?” I questioned. “I mean, I wouldn’t think any less of you if you decided not to.”
Nicki continued to stand, looking at the lake. I don’t think that the charm Cormac had done worked out in the air. She was shivering and jumping up and down. A fantastic sight, honestly. Although I never answered Cormac’s question, I had a lot to say on the subject. Nicki’s chest was pretty perfect.
The twins were flawlessly shaped, soft, and not too big or small. Each one fit perfectly in one of my hands.
“I’m going. Don’t rush me,” she chastised me.
I shrugged and surrendered. With my arm still around her waist, I leaned in and whispered into her ear, “Don’t drown. It would be a damn shame." Just before she dove skillfully into the icy depths of the lake.
Again, a few dolts wolf-whistled loudly, but I think the majority of the group had caught on that they really had to shut up unless they wanted to wake up the entirety of Hogwarts castle.
For a few moments, she did not arise from the lake, and Cormac and I exchanged a mildly worried glance. Within a second Nicki flung up out of the water, laughing manically and splashing and swirling in the icy water. She looked beautiful, her skin whiter than usual in the moon's bask of light and shimmery with beads of water.
“You want to come in, loser?” she called to me.
I shook my head. “Not on your life.”
“Suit yourself!” she cried back.
Nicki continued to splash around and no one made any moves to move until Cormac said, “I'm freezing my arse off! Let’s get back inside!”
She dragged herself from the lake. Cormac undid the charm he’d cast and shivering, she pulled her clothes on. “Okay, she said, let’s go – oh nooo!”
Nicki, drunk and stumbling had slipped off the edge of the dock and fell backwards, straight into the lake. Her head nearly hit the side on her way down; Cormac and I both lunged after her to grab her, but miraculously she missed it.
After falling under the water, she resurfaced in less than a second. “Holy crap! It’s so huging cold! Help me out!” she cried, half-laughing and half-dying. Cormac and I each grabbed an arm and grabbed her out. She dropped to the ground and hugged her knees. “Cold,” she whimpered.
“Here,” I said, throwing her my cloak. I couldn’t do any fancy spellwork like Cormac so the cloak was the best I could do.
"Thanks . . . It's so f-fucking c-cold, geez." Nicki stuttered, so I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and we slowly stumbled back up to the castle.
And the party raged on. Seamus and I won a rousing game of battle-shots while Dean and Ginny flirted and danced, getting along much better than usual.
Of course, as per usual, McGonagall came to bust up the party. After she left, we kept going, but we were quiet and the party had passed its peak. It started to break up, and most people drifted up to their dorms, including me.
I was settling into bed and almost asleep when I heard a tapping on my window. I groaned, rolled over, and saw an owl perched outside. I seriously considered getting up and retrieving the letter, but I was just not in the mood. I was drunk, I was tired, and no amount of nagging from Mum or Dad could change my mind.
Ignoring the tapping, I rolled over and fell asleep.
I woke up grumpily the next morning to the sun shining through. There was a scroll of parchment on the table next to me. Either one of my mates had gotten it, or the owls were getting too smart for my comfort. Thinking it was just another silly note from Emma, I left it there as I jumped in the shower, and promptly forgot about it when the idea of lunch hit. Gathering Dean and Seamus, we went down to the Great Hall.
Nicki and her mates were already there when we got down. “Hey, Nicki. Megan.” I continued to address the rest of her mates.
“Morning,” Nicki mumbled, then busied herself burying her head.
Her personality was always warped when she was hungover. The different personalities in Nicki, Drunk Nicki, and Hungover Nicki were quite comical.
I suppose we all had those. Hungover Al was always hungry. I didn’t think anything of the odd silence over the table as we all stuffed our faces. It was in retrospect that I realized Nicki was oddly quiet, even more so that the usual Hungover Nicki.
“Well, I’ll see you lot later,” I said, getting up. "I’ve got a letter to read that I forgot about. Came late last night."
The clang of silverware hitting the table drew my attention to Nicki, who’d gone oddly pale. She looked up at me, horrified.
Next to her, Megan elbowed her hard in the ribs. Looking frantically between Megan and I, Nicki finally jumped up, and said to me in a low voice, “Just so you know . . . Drunk Nicki sent you a message last night.” She seemed to wince slightly at the thought.
I laughed to myself. “I can’t wait.”
Drunk Nicki was bloody hilarious. Whatever that shit had to say, I couldn’t wait to read it.
Now that I knew it wasn’t a note from Emma, or a letter from my parents, I was just about elated to read what my friend’s hilarious alter-ego had written.
Hopping onto my bed and unfurling the scroll, I read:
I’m sorry for what I’m about to do. I’m going to ruin the chill ending we had. I meant to say this to your face, but there were too many people, and too much drunk. But I have to say this: I’m into you.
I dropped the parchment and sat with my mouth open.
Well, what the fuck am I supposed to say to that?! I thought, freaking out.
I looked to the floor where the parchment had fallen, and, to my surprise, there was another rolled scroll. I was almost terrified to read it, but I picked it up with the feeling that one gets when watching a bad crash.
Oh. My. God. I don’t believe I just said that. Disregard everything. If Merlin is listening, he’ll cast a spell from his grave and let me forget that I ever wrote that.
Clearly Merlin had not been listening to answer her prayer. Finally, I realized that the heads up had not been to hype me up for a funny montage, but prepare me for the horror.
She said, "I'm into you." What did that even mean? It was so damn vague. For once I wished Nicki was a bit less Nicki-like.
I pondered all the possible meanings of the phrase and still couldn’t believe what I knew had to be true. But, it was Nicki. Nicki. She didn’t like anyone. She had had a string of friends-with-benefits, but never a serious relationship, and she was no stranger to being a heartbreaker. I couldn’t believe that what I’d read was true.
I grabbed a fresh piece of parchment and hurriedly wrote:
Nicki, meet me out on the steps outside the entrance hall in an hour.
I fetched Lupin to deliver the note to the girls’ dormitory and walked out to the steps, to think to myself for an hour or so before the time for confrontation came.
Usually, thinking made the time go slow, but my mind was awhirl with Emma, Nicki, and my own stupid self.
I finally heard the doors open and felt a small gust of wind as Nicki sat down next to me. Before she could say anything, I started. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry if I led you on.”
She shook her head and looked sadly at me. “It wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known. I literally said, ‘I’m not interested in a relationship. I think they’re the devil.’ How could you have thought that I liked you when everything I said pointed to the opposite?”
“Still,” I continued. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you, and I definitely don’t want to ruin our friendship.”
Nicki snorted in laughter, presumably at the friendship line that I’d pulled. I’ll admit, that was a bit lame for me, but I was being surprisingly more eloquent in that awkward conversation than I’d ever been up to that point in my life.
There was an extended silence.
“I’m sorry,” I repeated again.
“Give it a rest,” Nicki said, not sadly, but maybe even a little bit hostile. “Look, would I want to try a relationship with you? Yeah. But I know you have that other girl, and it’s cool. We’re good.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes,” she asserted. “Now, look, I’ve got to go. I’m really sorry that Drunk Nicki’s gone and made everything awkward.”
“She hasn’t,” I assured her. “Don’t worry about that at all,” I insisted in earnest.
And honestly, I believed it at the time.
Of course it won’t change things, I thought. Perhaps it will be a little different, but we’ll still hang out all the time.
But, of course, it was different. And we didn’t hang out all the time. But that’s the thing about young, idealistic hearts . . . They’re really fucking stupid.
A/N: And, as always, a very special thanks to BellaCamille. She continues to stick through it all with me as I plow through this story, and whips my chapters into shape like no other!
A/N2: I hope y'all liked the chapter! It's my favorite that I've written since Polychromatic. I think it really captures the essence of teenage problems, hearts and stupidity, and it definitely shows a side of Al that I like. Sure, nothing he did throughout this chapter was exactly moral, but you can see that he's got a heart deep down there, and means for the best . . . Sometimes.
And a sneak peak of next chapter!
"It’s an interesting commentary on our lives,” I marveled, “that the simple truth can throw everything into such chaos.”
It was Wednesday afternoon and most people were still finding themselves spurting random truths, although it had wound down. Only about half the school was still awkwardly confessing their deepest secrets.
Colin Creevey – one of my best mates at Hogwarts – nodded and agreed. “You can’t argue that it’s not great entertainment, though,” he added.
I conceded his point. “I suppose, but it’s not going to be funny when I start running my mouth.”
I was so releived to find that I seemed to have dodged a bullet with whole truth-telling fiasco. I had yet to slip up once. And frankly, I was a far too private person to be emotionally equipped to deal with what might come out. I rubbed at my temples a bit at the thought.
You can't stay hidden forever... This with crawl from your rabbit hole at some point.
Not if I can helpt it!
It looks like you might not be able to…
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