Chapter 17 : Don't Let Me Go
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How do I know that I'm dreaming? Because I'm pretty sure that big, burning, blurry ball above me that I can more or less see is the sun. Yeah, I'm definitely sure, more or less, that it's the sun. It's what I used to call it when I could see it; the big, burning, blurry ball, because it was big and hot and Mum said that I would squint to see it. But now I think it's blurry because of my memories. I can't remember the last time I actually saw something in a dream, doctors said my dreams wouldn't retain visual imagery as I lost my sight so young, but I tried so hard to not forget things I'd seen and sometimes something would come through. It's only the things I remember that I see, though. I'm not magic.
...Pretend I didn't just say that.
So, I know I'm dreaming because I can see what I remember of the sun. And I must know this field from somewhere. I think it's a field; I can smell freshly cut grass, feel it beneath my fingers.
Everything's blurry and I don't know if it's my memories or my eyes, but I can kind of see and this is a very strange dream. Am I using magic in my head? Is that even possible?
I make even less sense in my dreams, but at least I know I'm dreaming.
But I don't feel confused, I feel... Content. I relax on the grass, staring up at the blurry, yet very blue, sky, and embrace the silence. It's not long before I drift off, my eyes grow heavy until they close. I don't think I'm all that tired, the calm just has that effect on me; I could lie here forever. I turn my head when the sound of footsteps, soft and close, find their way to me. I'm not surprised by the fact that someone is coming, it's like I already know, and he lies by my right side, so we're shoulder-to-shoulder, much like that day by the lake at school. I know it's him straight away; I'd recognize his scent anywhere, could pick him out in a crowd with ease.
He runs a finger down the side of my face, stopping at my pulse. I feel my heart quicken at his touch and now he can feel it. "Thinking happy thoughts?" he whispers. I can tell he's smirking. "Thinking of me?"
"You'll never know," I answer in a similarly quiet tone, my smile small, but playful. With that one look from me and his responding laugh, it's clear he knows he was right. I think about saying something to get to him, to make him squirm slightly, but the atmosphere is sweet and kind of romantic, too peaceful to even think of ruining it.
So, I know I'm dreaming, I know the effect it's having and I know that I sound like such a girl. Good to know.
Louis moves, his arm brushing mine as he does so. "Open your eyes, Ciaran." I do to find that he's moved to lie on his side, holding himself up by his elbow with his cheek resting in his hand, and he's watching me with curious blue eyes. His lips are pink and chapped and smiling at me, while his finger moves from my pulse to behind my ear, his hand cupping the side of my face and his thumb drawing circles on my cheek. This is how I see Louis. When I try really hard, this what my imagination comes up with. He's clearer than everything else in this dream, maybe because he's my imagination and not a memory. But I don't care. I can see him.
I'm aware of the lack of surprise I have for this. How can I be surprised to see him if I know I'm dreaming?
"Isn't that better?" he asks.
I copy him, propping myself up on my elbow and balancing my fist against my cheek, so we're face-to-face. I shrug. "Depends on what you're referring to."
"Definitely better," I whisper. "I'll miss it when it goes again." I know I will, when I wake up and I can't see again. I can't sleep and stay here forever and it takes so much effort to imagine the world around me all day, to see images of things I've never truly seen in my head. Already the world we're in is getting darker, disappearing on me, even Louis is starting to lose focus. I'm waking up.
There's a tickling sensation on my stomach.
"You'll see me again soon," he murmurs, his voice is filled with confidence and his eyes are full of promise. Nothing comes to mind that can confirm that for me; no sudden epiphany that brings a cure with it and I rarely ever dream like this. I don't want this dream to end.
"Don't let me go," I blurt out.
Louis narrows his eyes, frowns at me; he's confused. "Why would I ever let you go?"
Everything I've ever thought fills my head, and I really mean every little thing, reminding me of my fears, my insecurities. But I don't say a single one to him. As usual. "I don't know," I shrug instead.
"Don't think so much and trust me," he whispers before placing his lips against mine. There's no one to come between us here, no reason for me to stop, and I open my mouth to accept his kiss as my eyes close. I move one hand to his shoulder and the other, the hand connected to the arm that I had been balancing on, goes to his hair. It's harder to stay up this way and he uses the moment to roll me onto my back, so he's on top of me. His hand fall down to rest on my stomach and the tickling sensation starts again.
The next time I open my eyes, everything is black.
I lift my head up slowly, my neck is stiff from the position on the hard surface I lay my head on when I fell asleep. But where the rest of my body is is soft underneath. I run my hand along the edge, then the side where my head was, and then along the top; oh, I think I'm on the couch. I drop my arm down, only it lands on the side of another body rather than the cushions. I'm not alone, lying along the back of the couch like I had thought. It only takes me a moment to register who it is; the faint traces of his aftershave still linger. I'm not surprised that it's Louis. It could never be anyone but Louis.
I run my hand over his side to his hip and the movement causes him to sigh and pull me in so we're closer together. Then I know I'm not imagining his shirt is open and I'm running his fingers over his skin; my hand is now on Louis' stomach, above his belly button.
There's that tickling sensation on my stomach again.
I find out why, removing my hand from its awkward position behind my back, and there is Louis' hand resting on top. My shirt must have risen slightly while I moved in my sleep and his fingers tickle me when he moves. That's what I felt; him. My head back in its original position on the couch's arm, I shut my eyes again. Louis is still fast asleep, he snores a little, so it must still be early. Unless he's always like this after a party. He was up kinda early after Halloween, though. Who knows what time he'd been in the library when I came in at breakfast?
We're closer together now, my back pressed slightly against his front, and his head ends up buried in my neck. It mutes his snoring, but I can feel his breath warm my skin and his lips at my pulse. He's so close. And I can feel all of him, every muscle, every movement. His heartbeat is slow and steady unlike mine.
He moves again, turning his body to me; he's pressed fully against me now. It's like when I was little and tried to finish a jigsaw puzzle; the piece was turned and tried until it finally fit perfectly. Comparing us to a jigsaw, that's... Strange. When Louis moves, his hand falls a little further down. I put my hand over his, threading my fingers between his, and pull our hands back up to my stomach as I get comfortable. He sighs again and he smiles in his sleep; his lips curve against my neck.
I'm all ready to go back to sleep when he whispers my name. Not either nickname, not a little pet-name, but my real name. The one he said he wouldn't say to me first. Technically he still hasn't said it to me, but he still said it and I want more than anything for him to say it again...
But he doesn't. I don't catch the other words he's muttering. He's dreaming. Is he dreaming about me?
A door opens. Someone swears quietly when it bangs. Dom, I know. I recognize his voice. Things rattle, I think he's carrying something, then it stops and he's back inside. Dom still moves around, I know the sounds he's making well; he's making a drink. I smell coffee. I'm not allowed coffee, not that he knows that, and Louis told me that Dom doesn't drink it, plus Louis' not awake and he can't know that I am, so who is it for?
Then I remember all of their cousins are here, plus me and Jack, Dom's lawyer friend and the lawyer friend's sister, who is Albus Potter's girlfriend, and finally the lawyer friend's cousin, who is also Albus' friend (the kid knows a lot of people), Scorpius Malfoy. I haven't had the pleasure of speaking to Albus yet, but his girlfriend and Scorpius are alright. That drink could be for any of them. I can't believe I forgot there were so many people here.
Louis groans again, this time sounding frustrated more than content, and he lifts his head up so that his lips are now by my ear. He's awake. "Morning," he whispers.
I'm instantly reminded of my dream, the way he sounded before he kissed me. I hate that it wasn't real. He leaves a chaste kiss between my neck and shoulder. I really, really hate that it wasn't real. "Morning. Sleep well."
"Hmm," he gets out, like he could go back to sleep at any moment, and he runs his fingers up and down my stomach, it's likes he's not even aware he's doing so. "Very good dream."
"Was I in it?"
I grin. "Really?"
"Are just saying that because you're still half asleep and can't manage an actual response or are you teasing me?"
I feel him smile and, with my free hand, I stretch behind me and pinch him at his side. He cries out, more out of surprise than pain. I smirk, his brother laughs. Dom knows we're awake now. And he's closer than I thought.
"Here you go, you wuss," he says, his arm brushing over my hair when he leans over to Louis and he's pushed back a little. Oh, it is for Louis; does Louis wake around this time for Dom to make that for him or was his brother just going to wake him up? He pokes me with his finger and it's hard enough for me to fall backwards into Louis' chest. Maybe that was what he did to Louis. "Coffee, sleepyhead?"
"None for sleepyhead," Louis tells him. Where the hell did this new nickname come from? He pulls me up with him, keeping an arm wrapped around my waist as we sit back against the couch. It feels nice, it feels relationship-y, I'm not sure that is even word but I'm using it anyway. Not that I'd tell Louis this; he already knows I like him and, after our almost kiss, he should know I want more, so why tell him what he already knows? Or maybe this is what my therapist said when he called me a closed book... Well, the last one, when I was eleven. I didn't handle things very well after what happened to me. Apparently, I still don't. Who'd have guessed?
"Sleepyhead here gets all jittery, starts bouncing," Louis finishes.
I want to deny it, but it's true. "Caffeine is not my friend," I admit. "Neither is sugar, but if anyone makes me get rid of that I'll cry, then hurt them with my stick."
"You mean the white, plastic thing I used you see you trip people over with?" Dom asks, laughing.
"The very same. And I only trip Tyler Davies over intentionally. Anyone else should learn to get out of the way," I defend myself. I can't trip them up on purpose if I don't know they're even there, can I?
...Maybe I can hear them. A little.
With the hand that's wrapped around my waist, Louis taps my thigh. He slurps his coffee. "Hot," he mutters. I roll my eyes, I hope Dom rolled his eyes, too. It was an eye rolling moment. "Where is your cane? I hardly see it now."
"Why would I need it? I've got you holding my hand twenty-four seven." As if to prove my point, he takes my hand, squeezing gently. Movement comes from above us; people are getting up, starting a new day. Or maybe they're ready to go home and continue sleeping through it; I remember people having quite a bit to drink during that party. I wince and rub my free hand against the side of my head, the slight pain coming from my temple reminds me that I'm one of those people. "And people wonder why I rarely drink. I have to learn to say no to alcohol. Does me no good."
"I noticed you drank a helluva lot more after midnight. Why is that?" Dom asks me. Once a journalist, always a journalist.
"I missed a moment," I mutter, hearing the footsteps now come down the stairs, people moving about, there are more voices around me. But, thankfully, they're kinda quiet. They must be used to this. Dom asks me what I mean and I shrug, pretending that it's nothing. "I was supposed to cross two things off my list last night, only managed one of them. I wasn't exactly happy about it. I was really looking forward to that second one."
Louis squeezes my hand again; he understands. Of course he does. "Ah, Lou told me you made lists. He didn't tell me what was on them. I swear, I don't know," Dom adds rather quickly.
I have to laugh. Is he referring to the fact that he's nosy or to his strange ability to read people?
"Can we know?"
"Don't be nosy, Lily," Hugo scolds. I cover up a laugh effectively enough with a cough. Hugo Weasley telling Lily Potter not to be nosy? That's like me getting out of bed in the afternoon and then telling Jack to stop being lazy. I cough out 'hypocrite' and there's more than one voice trying to hide a laugh. I get a cushion thrown in my face. I assume it was Hugo. Well, it just brushes against my face; Louis must have caught it. "I've decided I don't like you anymore, James," he mutters.
"Are you talking to me or Mr. James?" his cousin calls from the kitchen.
"The other one. When have I ever liked you?" Hugo shouts back.
I change the subject before their shouting causes my head to explode. This is feels natural, teasing is obviously something they do often and they'll forget about it soon enough. I imagine it'll be the same for me. But I don't want their teasing right now; it's too early. "Where's Jack and Lucy?"
"Upstairs," Fred Weasley snickers. Fred, I know him from visiting the shop with Jack. "Hopefully they're putting their clothes back on."
"What?" Ha! Told you, Louis!
"Lou, you should have seen them last night," Dom says and he sounds conflicted, like he's still deciding whether what he saw should leave him disgusted or make him laugh. God, what were they doing? "I came into the house last night and there they were making out in the kitchen. Their clothes already looked half-off; I had to run away. They never even noticed I was there."
Ah, he's gone for disgusted.
"Was this before or after midnight?" Louis asks urgently. I laugh. He nudges me in the side.
"Before," Dom says immediately.
"Of course I'm sure. I went in to get the fireworks and came out traumatized," he practically shrieks. This just gets better.
"It carried on for pretty much the whole night," Fred tells us. "And I'm pretty sure I heard two voices in that shower before."
"Oh yes. I want my money."
"You'll get your money," Louis mutters. But I don't care; now I've won, he has to believe me. We'd made a bet the other day. Louis called me again, the night before New Years, asking if I was definitely coming. After telling him that I was and going on about what my parents had said to me, the topic had somehow shifted to our friends. I ended up betting him they'd be together for the fireworks. He'd said if they got together, it would be after, but that he didn't believe they'd get together at all. So my 'time' for them was anytime between the party starting and midnight. I was right. Ha!
"So, how long have they been together?" Fred asks. I frown. "Come on, they've obviously been together for a while."
And I'm not the only one who has noticed.
"We don't know, they haven't told us anything," I admit. Why is that? You'd think they'd at least tell me. Are they embarrassed of being together? Or are they still in the purely physical stages of whatever relationship they have (it was obvious why they were disappearing), in which case I'm glad I don't know. Now I hope it's the latter. "But I'd guess at around Halloween; that was when they started disappearing and being all weird in front of us."
"Shush," Louis whispers. "If they're not telling, they don't want us to know yet, so keep quiet because I think this is them coming."
And it is. As soon as he comes down stairs, Jack falls onto the couch next to me. "Good morning." He doesn't sound like he's in the best of moods. I wonder why that is. "So, CJ, breakfast here or breakfast at your house?"
He wants to leave. Now. I can tell. He's just trying to be polite. What the hell happened upstairs? "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he says softly, but it's not enough to not hear the waver in his voice. Something's wrong, Jack is really upset. I want to wrap my arm around him and pull him close, tell him it's okay, but he's not like me; he won't appreciate it in public. So, I nudge him with my elbow gently instead and nod.
"We'll go soon, as soon as I say good bye to Lucy." I don't say 'we'. According to Fred, he was with Lucy, so whatever has upset him, Lucy might very well be involved. I don't want to make it worse. I hate when Jack is upset, he's the strongest out of all three of us. Jack being upset is like watching him fall; you don't know what to do afterwards.
"Okay," he murmurs.
I'm grateful Louis stays quiet through all this, that he doesn't try to get me to stay. He must see something I can't, maybe on Jack's face, and is understanding. It's scary how perceptive Louis can be; he doesn't even have a special ability.
Then Dom speaks and the awkward tension in the room just seems to get worse. At least for me. "Hey, Roxy. Bye, Roxy." He seems to speak slowly, pausing between each word. "Thanks for just walking away. That's your fault."
Jack nudges me and tells me Dom was referring to me. "Why?"
"You and your little riddle," he explains. "She got it by the way. From the beginning, in case you were wondering how long it took. This is Roxy in denial. She refuses to be beaten by the fact that you're gay. But she doesn't want to talk to you yet, so she's ignoring us all."
"Dom, we know you're psychic, but do you have to use it for everything?" a girl sighs. Molly, I remember now. I wondered where she was.
"I didn't. I talked to her last night," he snaps. Then he calms down and it's like he said nothing to her at all. "She'll get over it, CJ, and she'll get over you just as fast. Ignore it."
"I think you did right giving her a clue instead of just telling her; Roxanne needed to think it through," Fred continues. "She'll need to think it through to get used to the idea of seeing you with Lou. Speaking of which, she needs to see that or she'll fight harder. Knowing our dad, she won't play by the rules."
"That's true. She can be fierce when denial is involved." I feel Jack stiffen at my side; it's definitely something to do with Lucy. "Good luck, CJ."
"I'm sure I'll be fine," I mutter, trying me best to sound like nothing's wrong. There is something wrong, though, between my two best friends and I don't know what to do. I'm angry that she's obviously done something to upset him, but I don't know the full story and I'm not going to choose between them. I have to be neutral in this. "Enjoy the party?"
"It was alright." Lucy sounds off, too. "Did you?"
I know exactly what she means; the fireworks, the kiss. She'd obviously understood why Louis had told them to clear off. "It got interrupted," I say honestly, my disappointment showing. "It'll be alright, though."
"Of course it will. Not giving up is a family trait," Louis laughs, and he breaks the tension that's been brewing. Even Jack starts to relax. "I just need a new plan and patience and someone worth the self control. Thank you." He whispers that last part and makes everyone laugh. Maybe that's the point, but I don't get it.
"Who are you thanking?" I ask, not caring if I sound stupid.
"He's thanking God," Dom says once he's calmed down.
I frown. I've never known Louis to be religious. "Why?"
"For the miracle that is you, apparently."
Oh, new voice. On my left, by Louis and Hugo. I go through all the voices I know; it's a guy, so I can rule out the female cousins, and apart from Teddy Lupin, I think I've met most of the others. It can't be Teddy, this voice sounds too young to be a grown man, which means... "Hello, Albus."
"Is he psychic, too?" Albus asks.
"No, I'm just amazing," I nod, acting serious. "My hearing is like a superpower. And as for the miracle that is me bit," I turn to Louis, "I approve."
"I thought you would."
I tap Louis' leg twice, then Jack on the shoulder. "We should go now." Jack stands up quickly, grabbing my hand and pulling me up. "It was great meeting you all."
I'm pulled to the fireplace, stopped only so Lucy could hug me. Then Louis does the same, leaving a kiss on my cheek. "I'll see you at school. See ya, Jack."
As Jack calls out my house address and steps through, I wave to Lucy. "Bye Luce."
Just as I'm stepping through, I hear the last words I will hear Louis say until school. And it's not to me, but to Lucy. "What the hell happened upstairs?"
School came quickly, which I was glad for for once, but it's very different than before Christmas. Most things are the same; classes, going the library, sitting with Louis. But things between the four of us are different; Jack and Lucy are not talking, even though Lucy tries. I'm scared to know what she did that upset him so much. And Louis is not being his normal, flirty self. I have no idea what happened between New Year's day and now for him to act differently, but I don't like it. And as soon as Abby leaves and our things are packed, I set in motion my plan to talk to him. Jack and Lucy's problem I can't help, but this I can deal with.
"Coming back to Hufflepuff until dinner?" I ask nonchalantly.
"No, I can't. I've got tutoring session here now," Louis answers and my hope of talking to him evaporates. He curls his finger under my chin. "But I can meet you there for dinner or you are more than welcome to stay here."
My eyes close almost automatically at his touch; it's the first since New Year. I feel like I need to savor it. I nod. "I've got my audiobooks to keep my company."
Maybe I can talk to him before the person he's tutoring comes. "Hey, Kyle."
Okay, maybe after.
"Kyle, this is my friend, CJ. CJ, this is Kyle Raven."
"Like the bird," I point out without really listening. Friend, he said. We might as well be just friends, nothing has happened between us yet, but it hurts more than it should to hear him say it. I hate the thoughts that run through my head; does Louis not like me anymore?
That can't be right; you don't just stop liking someone. Something is going on, I know it. I just don't know what. What makes this worse is that although I don't know much about Kyle Raven, I know enough; he's a Gryffindor, he's popular with a bit of a reputation, he's bisexual and last year he admitted it was true when those girls who think they have to know everything asked if he liked Louis. And Louis is flirty again.
I don't want to be here anymore. I grab my bag and stand up. "Have a good lesson. I'll see you later, Louis," I say, loudly enough to interrupt whatever it is they're talking about.
And the moment my heart shatters? When he doesn't even call after me.
I don't care what he does or who he's with. He's not my boyfriend, he's not anyone's. If he wants to be with Kyle Raven, then I'm not going to bloody stop him. The dick can go.
I knock the things on my beside table over, breaking my alarm clock. I calm myself down, my head in my hands while I hope Jack can fix it before Declan finds out. It's not true, I know it. I don't want him to go and I do care about what he does and who he's with. I don't want him to be with anyone else. He should be with me.
"He should be with me," I say it over and over.
I don't know why this is happening. I don't know what happened after New Year. It was going so well, he even talked about not giving up. So, what the hell happened?
I need to stop this. I need to take control. It's the only way to get him back before I lose him, not just to Kyle but to anyone. I can't let that happen.
I barely pay attention to the knock on the door but I know it's him. And I'm not sure I really want to see him now. It hurts right now and I need to figure out what to do anyway. I don't move from the bed.
"What happened here?"
He must be referring to the table. I shrug. "I knocked into it," I half lie. He doesn't need to know why.
"Are you okay?"
I nod. "How was your session with Kyle?"
"Alright. He doesn't really need me for Transfiguration anymore, we just use the time to hang out," Louis admits and I want to scream and throw something. "You could have stayed."
I push myself backwards and lean back on my arms. "Didn't really feel like being a third wheel," I mutter.
"You sound jealous." Louis points it out like it was exactly what he was looking for, want he wanted.
I glare. "Why should I be jealous? It's not like we're together."
"No," he says in a tone that I'd say is similar to feeling smug. He didn't? That was his plan? That bastard. "Are you ready for dinner?"
"I'll be down in a minute." I move to the table and pick up my clock; I'll hide it until I can get Jack here tonight. I can't believe him, but somehow I can. Louis would easily do something like this, but why? He always has a reason. he wouldn't just do it. What would making me jealous prove? That I like him? We already knew that. That I want to be with him? I thought that was obvious. Then it hits me; my plan to do something about it. That's what he wants, it's got to be. I'm the one who would stop things, delay it, want to wait. I'm the one who wants to make it special. I'm the one who's scared. And he's the one who waits for me.
He's waiting for me to make a move.
He may be a bastard, but he is good. Should I hate that or love it?
"I'll wait downstairs," Louis says gently, but he's still smug and he knows I understand now. Most of it anyway; I will be asking for an explanation soon.
Even so, it doesn't stop my doubts. I sink to the floor, leaning against the table and lean my head back against one of the drawers. The handle digs into the back of my head, but I don't care. I doubt and I have to stop because I know, after everything he's ever said, that Louis isn't leaving. But what if he changes his mind?
"Please don't be in love with someone else," I whisper. My dream comes back to me and my words make more sense now. "Don't let me go."
And then the door closes.
A/N: "Please don't be in love with someone else" is a line from Enchanted by Taylor Swift, which, if you noticed the title, has played a big part in my inspiration for this.
"Don't let me go" is a line from Never Say Never by The Fray, which is also a song in my "Enchanted Soundtrack."
I highly recommend you listen to both songs. They are amazing.
And Louis, the sneaky little so-and-so. Maybe you'll get to read about his reasons in the Missing Moments collection. It's called Charmed and chapter one is up. I hope you take a look and enjoy. :)
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