The next few hours—gossiping, helping out with makeup, applying our own—were a blur. It was a rush of activity, and then suddenly, I was out in the pink-and-purple-painted evening, smiling confidently. Laughter was everywhere, vibrating out from Zonko’s Joke Shop to Hog’s Head to Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop to all the rest of the stores—Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks, Spintwitches, and even the infamous Shrieking Shack. It was all over the place, infectious and warming my heart with a little Christmas cheer.
Boys stopped to look, some with their mouths agape. I would smile dazzlingly and sashay away, leaving them staring forlornly after me.
It was my night. I ruled.
Take that, Albus Potter!
I made my way into Hog’s Head, giggling with my new ‘gang’—Rose, Dominique, Victoire, and Areida—you know, the heartthrobs of the school.
Except for me, that is.
Well…at least not on a normal basis.
I was giggling with all of them, sharing experiences, “My turn!” I squealed, flipping my hair. The guys turned around so suddenly that I could practically hear their necks snap.
Oh, Merlin, Dominique trained me well.
I sat daintily on the chair and grinned. “It was second year—you guys remember?” they all nodded expectantly, smiling widely. “I was just walking down the corridors—all innocent and all that, right?” they nodded even harder as I called a waiter over, ordering six glasses of Firewhiskey. He quickly arrived again, gawking at us. I looked over at him for a few seconds.
Let’s just say he definitely wasn’t ugly.
The power of my stare caught his notice, and he looked up. Quickly, I turned away, blushing, but not before he gave me a small smile.
Areida—oh, Merlin, she’s got hawk eyes—noticed my blush creeping up to my cheeks and raised her eyebrows smugly.
However, I got a perfect chance to dodge the topic when Rose prodded me on. “Yeah? Yeah?” she asked eagerly. “Go on, Nikki!”
I cleared my throat. “Um. Yeah, right.” I gazed at him through the corners of my eyes, but he already stopped glancing over at us and was talking to a pretty blonde Slytherin, Aura.
What an “ugh”.
“So I was walking down the corridors—“ Oh, Merlin, I was repeating myself. “—and um.” My mind went blank.
Everybody was looking at me funny.
Except Areida, that is. She had a know-it-all smirk on her face.
“Excuse me, ladies.” Somebody’s smooth, deep voice made its way to my ears.
I looked up, scared of what I was going to see.
My blue eyes met green ones, and I grimaced inwardly.
“I’m going to steal Nikki for a moment, if that’s okay with you guys?” he smiled at them.
“Oh, no, no, no!” Rose immediately rushed in. “That’s great! We were just leaving! Go ahead!” My mouth dropped.
Rose sent everybody a quick look, and straight away, they stood up too.
“Oh, yeah, go ahead!” Victoire said, wiggling her eyebrows at me. Dominique snickered under her breath, and Rose smirked.
I tried to protest, but Albus interrupted me. “Alright, great. Have a grand night!”
“I-I-I—“ I stammered as Al pulled me away. “But..I—“
Rose sent me a knowing wink and walked out of the pub.
I am going to kill that girl.
“Alright! Where to go?” he grinned at me.
I put a hand to my hip. “Excuse me?” I snapped. “Refresh my memory. When did I ever say I was going anywhere with you?”
His eyes bore into mine. “Time of the month, huh, Nikki?” he muttered, rolling his eyes.
I gaped. The—the audacity!
I opened my mouth to yell at him, but he clamped a hand over my mouth, inhibiting my insults. I glared, but his hand didn’t move from my face.
I shouldered him and tried reaching for my wand, but he grabbed my hands and looked me straight in the eye.
“Don’t kick me, now.” He smiled lopsidedly, as if reading my mind.
Despite my wills, my feet stayed firmly planted on the ground. Slowly, he removed his hand.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked once more, his face inches from mine.
I took in a shuddering breath. Swiftly, I wrenched my hand from his and backed up.
I felt a wall behind me.
He closed the gap between our bodies.
“Don’t you have Natasha to keep you company?” I snarled when he came closer.
He shrugged. “She got sick last second.”
I stared at him suspiciously. “She was fine this morning.” I answered more placidly.
“A bug’s going around.” His eyes drifted away from mine.
“Go away, Albus.” I growled when I recovered my senses. “Hang out with your ‘guy friends’ or whatnot.”
“No.” he said quickly.
“No?” I asked, surprised. “Why—“
“Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.” He interrupted, his normal grin reappearing.
“But—“ I protested. “That’s not—“
“Merlin, Nikki!” he threw up his hands. “I’m warning you, now.” He squinted at me. “One more word, Nicole Cassandra Davis, and I swear, I’ll kiss you.” One of his eyebrows rose. “And I have a feeling you don’t want that.”
My breath left me.
“That settles it!” he smiled. “Firewhiskey it is.”
He gave me a dazzling smile and held his hand out for me to take it.
I accepted it.
Merlin, what the hell am I doing??!