Chapter 5 : The Fifth One
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Lara continued hanging out with Rose, Scorpius, and Al, and though she knew that Al fancied Raven, her crush on Al grew and grew. They texted frequently (Al’s wit continued to surprise her, and they often discussed bands and books over text; it seemed that their middle ground was Aqualung and Orwell) and hung out every couple of days. They went out to dinner, sat in the pub, returned to the music store, walked around Muggle London- everything she had once done alone, she now had friends to do with instead.
About three weeks after the press had exploded, everybody (meaning Rose, Scorpius, and Al) were set to come over to dinner at Lara’s flat, and she was somewhat freaking out. Her flat was impeccable as ever, as she was something of a neat freak, and the living room had a nice cosy feel (once one accepted the massive amount of books and albums lining the wall, that is). Lara was actually a fairly decent cook, so she wasn’t embarrassed about the meal she put out. No, it was more that showing people her flat, however presentable it was, always felt like a very personal experience, especially because of how much time she spent studying there. It was where she felt most comfortable, and thus it was hard to share that with her friends, no matter how close they were.
Layla came by a few minutes before they were expected with her bridesmaid dress for the following weekend, and Lara was still inspecting it when there was a loud knocking on the door. She let Al, Scorp, and Rose into her flat with the dress in her arms. They all paused and waited for an explanation as she realised how odd it was to answer the door holding a dress.
“Erm...my bridesmaid dress for a wedding next weekend. My friend just dropped it off,” Lara explained, and the other three nodded.
“Wait, whose wedding is it?” Rose asked as the group entered the small flat. Al was immediately drawn to the shelves, where he started inspecting the music and books carefully. Scorp plopped down beside Rose on the small couch, wrapping his arm around her naturally.
“Layla Thomas and Reed Dubois,” Lara answered, watching Al out of the corner of her eye.
“Oh, that’s great! Scorp and I are going as well,” Rose gushed, and then launched into an explanation of how Layla and her had been childhood friends who’d grown apart at Hogwarts, and how kind it was to invite Rose even though they’d been distant recently.
“Damn, that means I’m going to be alone next weekend,” Al realised, looking up from the albums. “James and Aiden are playing an exhibition game against Poland then.” Lara wondered what Raven would be doing, but didn’t particularly want to broach that topic right then.
“Lara, who’s going to be your plus one?” Rose asked, her eyes glinting mischievously.
“Um...I didn’t have a plan yet,” Lara answered slowly, scared of the look in Rose’s eye. After being sisters with Hailey for over twenty years, she knew the beginning of a plan when she saw one.
“Why don’t you bring Al?” she suggested innocently. Al looked up with a grin.
“That’d be mega, if it’s okay with you,” he commented. “Where’s the wedding?”
“Southern France,” Rose answered cheerfully. “We’re portkeying over Friday afternoon. When are you going, Lara?”
“Same, Friday afternoon. Al, I can call you later with the details...if you’re really sure you want to go?”
“Yeah, seems like it could be fun. If you don’t mind?” Rose was smirking on the couch and Lara glared harshly at her before telling Al that it would just make the weekend more fun to have a friend at her side.
Lara was not the type of person who was particularly open with her feelings; she never actually admitted to fancying anybody, but once somebody found out, she wouldn’t deny it. Hailey had divined her crush on Al almost immediately, and Lara feared that Rose had as well.
The week passed in a rush of work, studying, and training, with only a brief chat with the gang at the pub (and texting the whole time). Finally Friday rolled around, and Al Apparated into her flat fifteen minutes before they were supposed to touch the portkey. They greeted each other warmly, as ever, before Al spotted Lara’s current book in her hand.
“Giving Faulkner another go?” he asked, and from there, the two began a heated argument about the pros and cons- they nearly missed the portkey, but luckily noticed its blue glow before it was too late. They continued the discussion as soon as they landed (incidentally, they landed on each other in a sprawl of limbs, which made Lara’s face heat up uncomfortably) before a polite cough interrupted them. Lara turned to find a grinning Layla, who immediately launched herself at Lara. Layla had always been one of the few people to elicit willing body contact.
“How’s everything going so far?” Lara asked, straightening up. She glanced around the room and realised that it was a closet of some sort, to help hide the portkey. She wondered how the Muggle hotel workers had taken to dozens of wizards and witches just appearing in the hotel.
“Really excellently, actually,” Layla replied with a relaxed grin. “Here, let’s get you checked in.” Al followed the pair quietly, observing their conversation rather than weighing in. Lara received two keys to the room, which was apparently on the sixth floor of the hotel. “Okay, I have to go and make sure everybody’s gotten in alright- Mia’s already missed one portkey, bless her heart- so why don’t you go and settle in.” With a wave, Lara and Al were left alone once more.
They easily chatted in the elevator ride up about Lara’s old school friends, who Al knew little about. He listened intently to Lara’s descriptions of the whole crew and laughed at her anecdotes. Soon, they reached the room.
It was a lovely room, with cream coloured walls, a wooden dresser and desk set, a small couch in one corner, and...one large bed in the centre, rather than the two twins they had expected. Lara noticed the bathroom looked equally comfortable, but was more focussed on the single bed.
“Erm...I’m going to talk to Layla, I’ll be right back,” Lara declared hastily, backing out of the room and quickly returning to the lobby, where she found the bride to be talking to some random guest that Lara didn’t recognise. Once the guest and Layla separated, Lara pounced.
“Layla, there’s only one bed in the room,” Lara said bluntly. Layla nodded, not seeing the problem. “I’m not actually dating Al. We’re just friends.” Why did everybody seem to think they were dating? Lara wondered frustratedly, knowing that she really wished it was so.
“Oh,” Layla realised, her eyes widening. “Erm...the two bed suites are already in use and the whole hotel is full this weekend...I don’t think there’s really anything we can do. And you really, really shouldn’t use magic on the hotel property. Can you two just bunk together or something?” Lara nodded mutely, not wanting to stress Layla out- as relaxed as she generally was, she could truly flip out when she felt pressured.
She gloomily returned to the room to find Al reading on the single bed, his shoes carefully removed. “Well, we’re not supposed to use magic on hotel property to keep suspicion down, and all the rooms are full up. So I suppose-”
“I’ll take the floor,” Al offered immediately.
“No! You’re my guest, you could be comfortably at home now instead of here,” Lara argued, “I’m not letting you sleep on the floor.”
“Well, I can’t let you do that either. If I wasn’t here, you’d have it all to yourself.” The two stared each other down (Lara felt like she could stare into his eyes for a very long time), waiting for the other to crack, when a loud knock interrupted the staring match.
“Please get decent before answering the door!” the unmistakable voice of Rose yelled through the door, breaking the tension.
“Rose, for the last time-” Lara began, opening the door irritably. The redhead swept gracefully into the room, immediately plopping down on the spinning chair beside the desk and spinning around several times. Scorpius remained in the doorway, watching his girlfriend amusedly.
“Wait a second!” Rose exclaimed after a minute of spinning, which had been oddly entrancing as all of the others had watched her. “There’s only one bed!”
“Very astute, Sherlock,” Lara muttered, leaning against the wall beside the door.
“So...how’s that going to work?” Rose asked after a moment of observing Al and Lara.
“I’m going to sleep on the ground,” Al and Lara answered at the same time.
“No, you’re not!” The two returned to their weird game of chicken from before Scorp and Rose had entered.
“Why don’t you two just share the bed like normal people?” Scorpius voiced, raising one eyebrow condescendingly. Lara turned bright red immediately, nervous to do something like that given how much she fancied Al. Al also blushed profusely, and Rose was grinning in the corner like the bloody Cheshire Cat in her spinning chair.
“Erm,” Lara stammered out. “I guess...”
The group spent the next few hours hanging out (Scorp and Al broke out the Wizarding Chess and Lara and Rose watched) before it was time to prepare for the dinner that night.
Lara had packed a nice black dress and some silver flats that matched her silver clutch. Al broke out his suit, equipped with a skinny tie. Lara gulped nervously when she saw him- she always found him attractive, but Al + suit = crazy hormones in Lara’s body, apparently.
“You look nice,” Al complimented after a moment of Lara ogling him awkwardly, and Lara blushed (it seemed that was all she ever did around him was blush) before returning the kind words. “Shall we?” They descended to the rented dining room arm in arm, with Lara’s cheeks distinctly pink the whole time.
The dinner was quite fun for Lara; she was seated with her old friends from Hogwarts, all of whom had been extremely busy lately, so it was a nice opportunity to catch up with them. They all took to Al immediately, and a few people made comments about what a cute couple they made, which they quickly corrected. By the end of the night, Lara thought she might have become permanently red after how much blushing she’d done in the past month.
After a brief discussion about logistics, Al left the dinner as it was winding down to shower, leaving Lara all alone. It gave her a chance to talk to Rose about something that had been plaguing her for over a month.
“Hey, Rose!” Lara called, cornering the redhead at her empty table. “Can I talk to you a minute?” Rose nodded, and the pair found a secluded area in the dining room to talk. “Okay, so I know it’s supposed to be a secret- dear Merlin, they are not subtle people- but I have definitely figured out that Scorpius and Al host Rush Hour, and you’re Red.” Rose assumed the look of a gnome caught in wand light. “But who on Earth is Raven?”
Rose stared open mouthed at Lara for a moment before busting out into hysterical laughter- a few tears escaped her eyes, in fact, as she continued laughing at an increasingly irate Lara.
“It’s just,” Rose panted out, as her laughter died out. She noticed Lara’s expression and tried to hold in the remaining laughter. “Merlin. You two are precious.” Lara’s glare intensified. “Look. You’ll find out soon, okay?” Lara frowned; was Al going to ask somebody out? Rose continued chuckling as she left a confused Lara behind.
Lara slowly rode the elevator up to her and Al’s room, where she could hear the water running in the shower. Lara quickly changed into her own shorts and T shirt (Holyhead Harpies, perfectly respectable) and read on the bed until Al enter the room, with just a towel around his waist. He was whistling an Aqualung song and hadn’t noticed Lara (or her gobsmacked expression) yet, as he picked up his pyjamas (yes, he wore pyjama bottoms that had moving snitches on them, and no, Lara was never going to let him live it down) and slowly turned, finally spotting Lara, who was shamelessly staring at Al’s surprisingly toned upper body. He let out a manly squeak before hurrying back into the bathroom. Lara continued to stare at the place he had just vacated, her jaw hanging open. When the bathroom door opened again, Lara pretended to be reading her book, her cheeks a flaming red.
“Er...sorry,” Al muttered, running his hand through his wet hair nervously (Lara had noticed this habit and found it inexplicably endearing). “I didn’t hear you come back.”
“It’s fine,” Lara said, her voice a bit higher than normal. Al nodded, his cheeks faintly pink, before he joined her on the bed with his own book.
Lara quickly vacated to bed in favour of brushing her teeth and such. Once she was ready for bed, she climbed onto the bed, as far from him as she could physically be in the small space so that she wouldn’t do something stupid like feel his hair in the middle of the night (though she completely understood the urge, as his hair looked really, really soft). They read in companionable silence (Lara hoped he wasn’t a Legilimens who could read her mind, which was far from the Compsons and more focussed on what she had just witnessed) until Lara decided that they should go to bed to ensure getting enough sleep for the following day.
“Al, we should probably go to bed now,” Lara said hesitantly, hating to break the quiet comfort of their silence. She had already turned the alarm on in order to wake up with enough time to get ready. Al silently complied, extinguishing his wand and sliding under the covers. Lara did the same and felt a nervous tension fall over the bed. She had the bizarre urge to close the small distance between them and snuggle up against him, but shoved that thought to the back of her mind. Sighing, she turned away from him and waited for sleep to wash over her.
The next morning, Lara slowly awoke a few minutes before her alarm was set to sound. She was completely tangled with Al, who seemed to still be asleep. His arms were around her, bringing her into his chest, and one of her legs was entangled with his. To her, it felt perfect and it seemed to her that they fit together like puzzle pieces. She wouldn’t mind waking up like that every morning. She closed her eyes, ready to enjoy the minutes until she was forced out of the comfortable bed. She mimicked the steady breathing of sleep so as to not disturb him; even so, she felt him start slightly, obviously waking up. She continued her steady breathing, curious about what he would do in this situation.
Al sighed deeply (Lara couldn’t tell what the tone of the sigh was- relieved, bored, annoyed, content?) and breathed in deeply, his breath tickling the top of Lara’s head. His hand gently brushed her hair before he replaced his hand, encircling her once more. Lara resisted smiling, extremely pleased that he hadn’t tried to move as far away as he could get immediately. The pair lay in silence for a few more minutes, Lara still pretending to be asleep, until the alarm went off.
Lara groaned and lifted her head from Al’s chest and found herself mere centimetres away from his face. That early in the morning, Lara’s few defences weren’t yet up, and she found herself once more considering not only the sparkling depths of his eyes, but also how soft his lips looked, and how she could move just a few inches--
“Erm, we should probably get moving,” Al whispered. Lara wasn’t sure why he whispered, but it seemed apt for the situation. Lara nodded slowly, not moving. She blinked a few times, shook her head, and carefully extricated herself from Al’s grasp. She padded quickly to the bathroom, hoping that her usual morning shower would help her clear her mind.
Fifteen minutes later, Lara had a problem. She hadn’t exactly been thinking straight when she entered the bathroom, and thus her undergarments and dress were still in the other room with Al. She stood against the door to the other room with just a towel covering her from the rest of the world.
“Erm, Al?” she called out cautiously, worried that he might be less than decent and thus refraining from opening the door. “I kind of...left my dress in there.”
She heard the movements in the room cease before Al call back, “Okay, I’m going to look the other way, you can come out and collect it now.” Lara hesitantly opened the door to find Al looking determinedly at the wall, away from Lara, as she hastily picked out her clothes for the day and retreated to the bathroom.
She carefully changed into the beautiful blue dress. Its high neckline kept it classy and comfortable, while the dress hugged her body. The colour complimented her eyes, and she was glad that Layla had a classy style. Lara dried her hair with her wand and carefully straightened it (one of the few appearance oriented spells that she knew, though her hair was naturally pretty straight). She decided not to wear any makeup (Hailey wasn’t available to assist her!), and absently exited the bathroom as she put her earrings in.
When she looked up, she found Al staring at her, his mouth slightly open. He grinned cheekily upon meeting her gaze. Lara found him just as dashing as she had the previous night; suits really did wonders for him. She quickly observed his outfit, hoping to be covert, but when her eyes returned to Al’s face, his smirk told her that he had noticed. Her cheeks coloured, of course.
“You look beautiful,” Al told her, once again offering his arm.
“You look quite handsome yourself,” she replied, taking his arm. They travelled down to breakfast together, where they met Rose and Scorpius to have a bite to eat.
“Sleep well?” Scorpius smirked as they seated themselves. Lara’s entire face flushed as she stared at the table determinedly. The uncomfortable silence lasted a few more minutes, until Rose asked Lara about the plan for the day. The wedding began at 15:30, and until then, the guests could do whatever they wanted; Lara had to meet with the wedding party at 11. Given that it was half ten at the time, Lara ate her meal quickly before finding the suite that the bridesmaids were instructed to be in.
The rest of the morning passed quickly as they helped Layla get ready for the big day by reminiscing about their Hogwarts day, listening to her freak out and then get over it, and watching her cousin, a stylist, tackle her hair and makeup. Soon, they were leading her out to the garden where the wedding was going to actually be; rows upon rows of chairs were filled with friends and family. At the end of the aisle was a small trellis, where rose petals had been spread out. Reed, his best man David, and all the other groomsmen were lined up already beside the priest.
The ceremony was beautiful, and after Lara succeeded in not tripping in her way up the aisle, she happily watched one of her oldest friends get married. After the lengthy ceremony (it finished at 17:30; how they could stomach talking about the love they shared for two whole hours was beyond Lara). The reception was held in a tent in on the hotel’s extensive grounds; because of the Muggle nature of the event, it was a simple affair.
The dinner came out soon after they had been seated, followed by some cake, and then speeches. Lara herself gave Layla a brief speech, talking about their ten year friendship and attesting to Layla’s Hufflepuffian loyalty. Layla dabbed at her eyes at the end of the speech before they embraced.
Soon, the dancing broke out following the typical father-daughter dance. Scorpius and Rose swayed gently to the music, Rose’s head resting on Scorp’s shoulder. He was gazing down at her with such a tender expression that Lara felt as though she was intruding on a private moment. Scorose, as Al called them, was adorable.
She found Al sitting where Rose and Scorp had left him. The two briefly discussed the wedding before Al told a lengthy story about Teddy and Vic’s wedding, making Lara slightly wary of any Wotter events in the future.
The two soon decided to join in with the dancing; Al jokingly twirled and waltzed with Lara before they too began swaying softly, talking to each other and simply enjoying each other’s company. They laughed as an Aqualung song came on, and Lara couldn’t help but think of it, at some subconscious level, as their song.
Eventually they wandered away from the busy tent, finding themselves beside a magnificent pond lit by a half full moon glowing brightly down. Lara found herself leaning on Al’s shoulder, staring at the pond and pondering her feelings for him.
“Al, who’s Raven?” Lara asked after a long, tranquil silence. She lifted her head and stared right at Al, hoping that he’d tell her so that she could move on from her silly crush. His eyes widened considerably and he looked like he was at a loss for words. “I mean, I know you and Scorpius are the hosts of Rush Hour, it’s pretty obvious. But then Emerald’s always talking about Raven...who is that, exactly?”
“Erm...well,” Al stammered, his pale skin turning steadily pinker.
“Please just tell me,” Lara pleaded, staring into his emerald eyes. “Because it’ll be a lot easier for me if you could just tell me yourself.” Al’s mouth opened and closed as he struggled to find an answer. “Fine, you don’t have to tell me.” Lara inched away from Al and started to stand before Al pulled her back down.
“You’re Raven, you idiot,” Al finally said with some false bravado as he pulled Lara into the most amazing kiss of her life. She swore she could feel fireworks going off inside her as she grabbed his head and found that yes, his hair and lips were indeed quite soft.
AN: YAYYYYYY! Everybody's happy now. :D I hope my lack of wedding experience isn't painfully obvious...and there are some very obvious flaws in this chapter...but shhh just enjoy their adorableness.
POLL TIME! How would you guys like this story to end? Would you like it to: a. end right here, no epilogue. b. have a very brief epilogue, showing one scene from the future (either "Raven" going on Rush Hour or a press conference). c. have a multi-scene epilogue. d. have a short conclusion of Al explaining his side of the story, Scorose reaction, end of wedding.
Please, please leave a review with your opinion on the this because I really don't know what to do from here. :)
DISCLAIMER: I draw heavy inspiration from In Love With My Radio, another fanfic in the Merlin fandom. The original idea for this story is from there; beyond that, there's little in common. Additionally, the entire world of Harry Potter is not mine at all; I'm just strolling through JK's beautiful garden. I am also not Kurt Vonnegut or any other actual author mentioned in this fic. Same goes for bands.
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