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Cheating the Bet by Ryebread
Chapter 13 : Happy Holidays
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 4

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Thanks to MagicalInk @ TDA for the chapter image :)

“You said you loved me,” Al reminded me after my brilliant question. I’m using extreme sarcasm.

“I… I… I must be tired, Al. I didn’t know what I was saying,” I said, using an exceptionally dumb excuse. I actually slept quite well. In fact, I felt really great. Wow, I hope I sleep like that more often.

“You don’t look tired to me, Allie,” Al observed, pulling me out of my reveries, looking a little amused, but also annoyed.

“Oh, well, I am,” I said and faked a yawn. “See? Look at that. I just yawned.” Al looked at me in disbelief.

“Really, Allie? That was so phony. Why are you so scared to admit that you love me? Is it so hard to say? Am I really that bad that you don’t want to love me?”

“No, Al that’s not—,” I tried, but got cut off.

“So did you lie when you said that you wanted to be with me? Was that all some little ploy to get James and Claire together? Maybe I should apologize for listening in. I’m sorry. And I’m sorry I told you how I feel about you and have felt about you since so long. Don’t play with my feelings. I can’t take it,” he said, hurt in his eyes.

“Al, I don’t think that. I would never—“

“You know what? I’m going to leave. I can’t be around you right now. You can stay here and when you figure out how you feel, let me know. Bye, Alice.” He stepped into the elevator and was gone.

I stood there, not moving, realizing how much of an idiot I was. Why was this so hard for me to admit to him and even myself?

I strode over to a bench across the hall and slumped down upon it. I laid my head in my hands and then brushed them through my hair. Even now that I was thinking about it, the idea of loving Al scared me. Something about it just seemed so unsafe and dangerous. Maybe it was his previous relationships or maybe it was how fast this was all happening, especially after how we acted toward each other previously.

I continued to sit in self-reflection. Why would his and our past scare me? I trusted Al, so neither of those reasons could be true. Before I could rationalize this out, James sat next to me.

“Hey, Allie,” he greeted me. “I just wanted to thank you for defending me and those nice things you said about me. It was really great of you and you didn’t have to, so again, thanks.” I flushed red.

“Oh, it was nothing, James. I just spoke the truth. You’re a great guy. She should know that,” I said. James beamed.

“Well, I hope she thinks that. Where’s Al? Did he leave already?” I looked at my feet guiltily.

“Yes, he left about ten minutes ago,” I answered him. James looked concerned.

“Okay, what happened? Tell me all about it. I figure that since you helped me, maybe I can help you.” I smiled at him appreciatively and launched into my ridiculous tale. I told him about my idiotic excuses and my inexplicable fear of saying those three words; I love you. When I finished, James looked at me perceptively.

“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?” he said simply. I was very confused. How could he see the explanation that quickly?

“How is it obvious?” I asked incredulously.

“You’re scared. You’re afraid of messing your relationship up. Now that you’ve developed feelings for him, you don’t want to let yourself fall for him because if something happens and you break up, you don’t want to get hurt. But by building yourself this defense, you are not only hurting yourself, but you are causing Al to feel pain, too.” My eyes widened and I felt like an idiot. How could I not see something that was so obvious? James kept going.

“Allie, you’ve got to take a risk. You won’t gain a thing if you don’t tell Al exactly how you feel about him and, quite frankly, you’ll lose him. He’s already waited so long for you, but he won’t wait forever.”

“Shit. How could I have been so dense?” I asked, rubbing my temples.

“Oh you know, love is blind and all that stuff,” James said very wisely. He’s like Dumbledore, but without the beard… I’m kidding.

I stood up from the bench and hugged love guru James quickly.

“Thanks, James. I’m going to leave and find Al. Say bye to Claire for me and tell her I’ll see her at holiday.” And with that I jogged to the elevator and then flooed to Hogwarts.

I arrived in the Headmistress’s office, where Professor McGonagall sat at her desk, doing paperwork. Without looking up at me, she pointed to the door.

“He went out the door and to his dorm.”

“Who went out the door and to his dorm?” I asked puzzled.

“You are searching for the younger Mr. Potter, aren’t you?” she asked, still not looking at me and continuing to write whatever it is that she was writing. I nodded and left her office, blushing slightly.

Nothing seemed to be a secret where McGonagall was involved.

When I finally appeared in the Gryffindor common room, Eric Wood was coming down the stairs of the boy’s dorm. He stopped when he saw me and his face went devoid of expression.

“He’s pretty upset, Alice,” Eric said.

“I know,” I replied, feeling uncomfortable.

“You’re going to talk to him, yeah?” I nodded slightly.

“Good. Just don’t hurt him. If you don’t love him, then just let him be. Don’t play around with Al. He’s one of my best friends and you’re hurting him.”

“Eric, I wasn’t planning on hurting him or letting him be. I love Al.” And with that, I pushed past him on the stairs without letting him get in another word.

I found Al lying on his bed, one hand behind his head and the other throwing a ball up in the air and catching it. He didn’t notice that I had walked in, so I cleared my throat to get his attention.

Once he saw I was there, he looked at me with mild curiosity as he dropped the ball onto his nightstand.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” I repeated. We both awkwardly stared at each other before I decided that I should speak up.

“Al, I’m sorry for everything. I just… I guess that I’m just afraid of this; you and me. I want it to work so badly, but I don’t want to get my heart broken, Al—“

“I would never—,” he tried to interrupt, but I cut him off, also.

“I know, just listen for a second, yeah? As I was saying, I don’t want to get my heart broken, but I realized that being without you would be worse than taking a risk. I want to take a chance on you, Al. I love you.” I walked over to Al and kissed him. He pulled me onto his lap, his hands on the small of my back. I could feel him smiling against my lips and I smiled back… and then Eric came in.

“Oh, get a room,” he said, with a mock-disgusted look on his face.

“Technically, we had one. You just walked into it,” I corrected him amusedly.

“Touché,” said Eric. “So, are you guys all packed for the holidays?” I jumped up.

“No! Oh, shit. Bye!” I ran out of the room waving to both of them as they laughed at me.

How rude.

After my quick packing up (which mostly consisted of me shoving my stuff into my trunk), I was sitting on the Hogwarts Express with Al beside me and Rose, Lily, Scorpius, Hugo, and Louis all sitting in our compartment.

Hugo and Louis sat next to each other, across from us, playing a rousing game of wizard’s chess, though Hugo was winning, as always. While they played, Rose was watching intently, quietly cheering for her brother, though giving the occasional tip to her underdog cousin.

Scorpius and Al were talking about quidditch strategies, seeing as they were both on quidditch teams; Al as seeker and Scorpius was Slytherin’s chaser.

Finally, Lily sat to the left of me and we were discussing Christmas and the presents we bought/ had to buy for everyone.

“So, I have gifts for Rose, Mum, Dad, Uncle George and Ron, Nan, Hugo, James, Al, and Dom, but I still have so many people to go. This is the down side of having a large family; you have to buy them all gifts,” Lily said with a dramatic sigh. I chuckled.

“It’s also the down side of being friends with a large family. I bought gifts for everyone except Al and Rose, because their presents I want to buy in Diagon Alley, and Scorpius because he was unexpected,” I told Lily happily.

“You have everybody done? Both of our families?” she asked incredulously.

“Yes, I sure do. I buy everybody’s presents throughout the year. I don’t have Al’s because we weren’t on the best of terms for a while and like I said Scorpius was a last minute friend.” I lowered my voice. “As for Rose, I knew I wanted to buy her Hogwarts: A History: Revised Edition, but it didn’t come out until a week ago, so I had to wait.”

“Wow. You are so good. I’m jealous. I have so many presents to get. And Rose is going to love it,” Lily whispered loudly.

“Did someone say my name?” Rose asked.

“No!” Lily and I shouted at the same time. Rose looked skeptical, but slightly bemused and the two of us burst into laughter.

The train ride went on like this for a while until we finally reached King’s Cross.

A whole herd of Wotters shuffled off the train with the people from our compartment. Our huge group of family and friends plowed through the train station, trying to find their parents.

My mum would be waiting for me at the platform and dad would arrive at Rose’s house, where we were staying, tomorrow, as he had some last minute work to do at Hogwarts.

I finally saw mum standing right by the barrier. I jogged over there and gave her a breath-taking hug, literally.

“Allie, honey, I can’t breathe,” my mum gasped.

“Oops. Sorry,” I apologized.

“So how has your year been going?” she asked with her arm around my shoulders and her hand stroking my hair.

“It’s been good. Classes are going well. I have A’s or higher, though mostly my marks are E’s.”

“Anything else you want to tell me?” I looked at her face with a confused expression. Was I in trouble? Oh, no. She learned about my detention!

“Well, mum, that one detention was nothing. It wasn’t even my fault. It’s not a big—,” I rambled, but mum cut me off.

“I wasn’t talking about your detention…,” she said frowning. “But what is that all about?” I laughed nervously.

“Well, it’s a long story, mum. I’ll tell you all about it later. It’s really quite funny. What were you talking about?” I said quickly, nervously giggling again. She looked at me with a half amused, half suspicious expression, but let the topic of my detention drop, though knowing Mum she would bring it up later.

“I was talking about your close relationship with a Mr. Al Potter. What’s that all about?” Mum said with a faux innocent look on her face. I saw right through it.

“Yes, we’re dating, Mum. Al Potter is my boyfriend. You could have just asked about it outright.” Mum smiled sheepishly.

“You know me too well. And congratulations; he seems like a nice boy. I’ve been waiting for you to get together for a while now,” she stated. I was in disbelief.

“You too? Why does everyone think that? Was there some sort of secret matchmaking plot going on to get us together? Merlin’s beard.” Mum laughed.

“No, no devious plot. Everyone just thought you’d be good together. And, well, you are now, so we were right and you were wrong. Ha,” she mocked.

“Thanks a lot, Mum,” I said sarcastically.

The two of us went to find Rose and the others, as we were staying with her. She stood with Scorpius and the majority of her family (including Al and James, who I noticed, was holding hands with a grinning, happy, healthy Claire). When we joined the group, Al put his arms around me and my mum gave me a knowing and giddy smile.

“I’m so excited that you’re staying with us for the Christmas holidays!” Rose squealed. “We’re going to have so much fun! We’ll go shopping first; I still have presents to buy.”

“I do, too.” Rose just kept going as if I hadn’t said a word.

“Then we can go ice-skating and have snowball fights and go sledding and make snow angels and—“

“Whoa there, Rose. Don’t overwhelm her,” said Scorpius, looking extremely entertained. “She hasn’t even left the train station and you’re already bombarding her with stuff. Slow down, Rosey.” Rose pouted, but relented.

“Don’t pout, Rose. We’ll do all of that stuff; just later.”

“What do you mean ‘we’?”

“Well, I’ve decided that once you let your parents know about this, we’ll get together,” said Scorpius confidently.

“What about your parents?”

“I’ve already told them. I told them about you the exact day that you agreed to tell yours.”

“And they were okay with it?” she asked looking very stunned.

“Yeah, they’re okay. My father isn’t entirely happy, but he just wants me to be happy. Your family will feel the same. We’ll get through this.”

Rose smiled cheerily and stood up on her tip-toes to kiss him.

Just then I heard the voice of Ron Weasley yell out.

“Rose! Rose Weasley! What are you doing kissing that boy?”

Bloody hell. Happy holidays start now.

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