Chapter 18 : Chapter Eighteen
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"Aye, probably." Dahlia sighed as she glanced at her tidily packed trunk.
"You always pack so soon, Dahlia. You do realize that I lose everything and always make you look for it, don't you?" Jade grumbled as she crawled across the floor to her friend's trunk.
"I like to be prepared! You never know what could happen!"
"Right, Dahlia, a giant spider is going to start attacking students and we'll all be sent home early."
"Oh, but that's already happened!" The girls glanced at each other and burst into raucous laughter. Of course, Jade knew what really had been attacking students. She and Tom had discussed it briefly over a detention sentence; which, of course, Tom had given her.
"You know more than you're letting on about last year, Tom.” She shook her arm and rubbed her shoulder, “I’m sick of polishing this. It’s fine. Let me move on.”
"I want it to shine for centuries, Jade. Really try to scrub it." He leaned back against the wall and put his hands behind his head.
Jade turned toward him, her eyes narrowed. "Look at you, sitting on the floor, enjoying your evening. You've given me detention to specifically watch me degrade myself by polishing only your trophy. I've been at it for twenty minutes, give me a break already."
"I think I've heard this from you before." He grinned mischievously.
"Oh, piss off!" Jade giggled as she threw her towel at him. "I've had enough of you watching me put my hands all over your award." She hopped off the ladder and knelt down in front of him.
"I suppose you want me to put my hands all over you?" He grinned as he pushed his nose into her hair and kissed her forehead. "You are in quite a compromising position. You could bow to me if you want."
It was common practice for them to hide away during the night to have a small bit of alone time. Black, Malfoy, Avery, and Goyle had been stalking Tom for the past few months, trying to deny Jade any time alone with her beautiful new boyfriend.
"But I wouldn't complain if you wanted to put your hands on me." She nipped his ear playfully.
He pulled her closer into his chest and gazed upon his trophy. Jade looked at the award and shook her head. "I'm not so sure a spider was responsible for attacking students. It seems quite odd. I've thought about it for quite some time. There must be more to the story."
Tom ran his long fingers through her hair and pulled lightly, exposing her bare neck. He leaned down and blew hot air on her cool skin. "Use your head, Jade," he breathed against her, his soft lips barely brushing against her neck, "students petrified, only one dead. Acromantulas cannot, and do not, petrify their victims." He ran his hands up her stomach and gripped them around her throat. "The victim is poisoned so they die a slow and painful death." He leaned down and bit her neck. "A snake, however... A snake will choke their prey to the brink of death before deciding to make them their next victim."
"A snake?" Jade groaned as Tom planted kisses over her neck.
"Something like that," he said fiendishly before glancing up at the trophies in the room. "The rest of these trophies won't polish themselves, you know. I am to sign off on your detention slip, and ensure that you've done your job well."
"Who would have thought a spider could actually kill somebody! Absolutely bizarre!" Dahlia dug deep into the bottom of her trunk. "I mean, think about it! A spider!"
"Well, I'm sure it was quite a large spider, Dahlia. I don't suppose it was just like the little black ones that crawl all over you at night," Jade teased by running her fingers down Dahlia's back.
"Oooh! You are a naughty thing!" Dahlia slapped playfully at her friend. "These earrings have got to be in here somewhere, I know that I tossed them in here when we got back from Hogsmeade."
"Oh, you were so dreadfully in love after that date. It was miserable, I actually had to leave the room when you two got back. I thought I was going to vomit."
"Well, Jade, it's much like seeing you and Tom. You would be repulsed by how rosy your cheeks are when he touches your hand."
"Oh, come off it."
Jade and Dahlia reached a compromise in April. No talking negatively about the other's significant other, and they solemnly vowed to never attack each other again.
"Dahlia. We need to have a conversation." Jade peaked up nervously from her Charms book.
Dahlia merely glanced up briefly from her magazine, her bright eyes narrowed. "And what about this time, Jade? Disappointed in my reading choice tonight? Or are you going to harass me about my boyfriend again?"
Jade sighed. She was not well versed in the art of patience and tolerance. This was a battle, however, that she needed to lose gracefully. The constant fighting between herself and Dahlia had become unbearable. They never spoke a kind word to each other, only rude quips dripping with putrid sarcasm. It was exhausting to go to classes all day, study with Tom, patrol the corridors for first year couples who thought they were clever to hide behind statues while they snogged, and then come back to her room to argue with her roommate. It had to end.
"No, Dahlia, it's nothing like that, I-"
"-Oh sure, then. Then perhaps you want to talk about your so-called boyfriend, who, by the way, still hasn't admitted to anybody that he's your boyfriend. Probably because he's embaras-"
"Stop it right now. I don't want to talk about any of that. Boyfriend, friend, whatever. I'm sick of fighting with you. I dread walking into this room every night."
"Well, I can certainly agree with that. Having to deal with you isn't exactly easy."
Jade bit the inside of her cheek. Where Dahlia had found this new attitude was completely beyond her.
"I know it's not. Look, Dahlia. I'm very sorry for bringing Alphard up negatively. He's quite nice, and I think that perhaps his mum will recognize that he has his own right to choose his spouse. You're a Slytherin, and you're very beautiful and charming. It's a lovely match." Merlin, she couldn't believe she managed to squeeze those words out of her mouth. Dahlia was foul-mouthed, loud, and half-blooded. No way would she ever be accepted into the Black family. "And as far as Tom goes, I would appreciate if you would stop telling me rumours and taking the piss out of our relationship. Or friendship, or whatever it may be, even I'm not sure."
Dahlia dropped her magazine and stared at Jade for a few seconds before taking a deep breath. "Oh, Jade!" Without warning the thin girl came flying across the room and threw her long arms around Jade's shoulders. "I can't believe it! I'm so happy you've said that, I couldn't stand being awful to each other all the time!" Dahlia sobbed into Jade's shoulder. "I'm so, so pleased!"
Not one for public displays of emotions, Jade patted Dahlia stiffly on the back. "Alright then, good. I've missed having you around. No more talk about the boys. Unless it's friendly."
Dahlia blubbered something inaudible into Jade's hair. She would accept that as an approval of the agreement. Peace and quiet would soon come again.
"Jade, I really don't think they're in here."
"Well, just keep looking, you lose things all the time." Jade yawned as she dug through her pile of clothes. "You would think I'd rather just use magic to put all of my shit away. But, I'm not very good at folding my clothes quite yet. Audrey hasn't cleaned her entire life, so I'm not much good at housekeeping spells." She frowned at the mess around her.
"Your mum doesn't clean?" Dahlia pulled her head out of her trunk and looked inconspicuously at Jade.
Jade blinked in disbelief. Of course Audrey didn't clean, they had a house elf that followed around with a dustpan and broom like a baby duckling following its mum. "Dahlia, I'm not sure I should even entertain you with an answer to that question. You've been to my house before."
"Well, yes, but doesn't it seem odd that your mum doesn't clean?"
"Well, not really. You have surely realized by now that Audrey isn't much of a mum. She's much more interested in drinking and spending Dad's money."
"Oh. Well, that's sad. My mum has taught me my housekeeping spells really well." She grabbed her wand off of her bed and pointed it at Jade.
Jade, who did not appreciate a wand being pointed in between her eyeballs, leapt out of the way moments before a pink streak went flying across the room at her pile of laundry. "OI! What is wrong with you? What in the world would have happened if it hit me? I may have been folded up and shoved inside a trunk. Merlin's beard, girl!"
"I just got a little carried away!" Dahlia giggled as she admired the clothes folding neatly into Jade's trunk. "You're safe."
Jade glared and climbed back onto her bed. "Our last night as sixth years. Are you ready for one last year, Dahl?"
"It's sad, really." Never one to keep a situation comfortable, Dahlia crawled onto Jade's bed and curled up next to her. "But, we're in it together. Just like we've always been."
"Well, to tell the truth, I was only ever friends with you because you pushed that other girl in the lake." The girls cackled.
"Oh, she was awful. She kept trying to talk to me, and if she hadn't noticed, I was too busy staring at all of the boys around me."
"You sound like me, annoyed because somebody was trying to say hello. I must be rubbing off on you!" Jade pinched Dahlia’s arm playfully. "All I know is that it's you and I next year. No more fighting, no more bullshit. I'll hopefully be Head Girl and we can get away with all sorts of shenanigans. We're in this together, Dahlia. You and I."
The train rattled down the tracks, leaving Hogwarts to be devoured by fog. Jade sighed, her hot breath leaving a veil over the window. Tom patted her on the hand as he smoothed out the Daily Prophet on the table in front of them.
"Just a couple months and we'll be back, don't worry."
She leaned her head onto his shoulder and looked at the paper. "More about Dumbledore? Merlin, somebody better write his life story already."
Tom wiggled his shoulders and pushed her head away from him. "Nobody wants to write a book about that old crackpot fool."
Jade brought her knees onto the seat and leaned into his ear. "There will be stacks of books written about you someday, Tom."
He glanced toward her and smirked. "You have no idea." He pecked her on the lips before he wadded the paper into a ball and threw it onto the floor. "I'll even sign a special copy just for you, darling."
"Just what I wanted, more crap from you."
"You'll never have enough of me, Miss. Sterling."
"Quite sure of yourself, aren't you?"
"You're dreadfully predictable, darling." He kissed her on the forehead. "Time to walk around the train and pretend like we're making sure students aren't misbehaving."
He pulled her off of the seat by the hand and led the way out of their compartment. Students were excitedly discussing their summer holidays and shoving their greedy faces full of pumpkin pasties. Seventh years mostly sat in solemn silence, looking out the window at their past while thinking about their future. In precisely one year, Jade was going to be in their shoes. She shook off the thought before it could eat away at her emotions.
Aoife Maher stood at the end of the car, glaring. "You're both late."
"Did you hear that? The train suddenly became insufferably loud," Jade mentioned to Tom. "For some reason it sounded like that old hag Aoife. You know, the one who graduated and is no longer Head Girl?"
"You must be hearing things, Jade."
Technically Aoife was still Head Girl until the next Head Girl received her badge in the post. However, Jade was never much for technicalities. And, as far as she was concerned, Aoife Maher was never her Head Girl; just an irritating fly constantly buzzing around her sweets.
Perhaps next year she would be Head Girl. She would have full reign of the castle, her own private bedroom, and a beautiful bathroom. Imagine the possibilities of having a bath even larger than the one she had access to now, and maybe without any naked mermaids looming around to ruin a rose petal bath.
Nothing of particular interest happened on the ride home. Tom and Jade walked idly around the train discussing their courses for next year, and eventually joined Abraxas, Alphard, Dahlia, and Currier in a car for the journey home. Dahlia and Alphard were discussing their summer plans under their breaths, apparently planning a way to convince Mrs. Black to stave off an arranged marriage; a plan that was destined to fail miserably.
Abraxas, who normally shoved his nose into any and all business of others, seemed particularly interested in staring at Jade. His hair was in a tidy ponytail and did no justice in hiding his blatant stares. Occasionally his grey eyes would shift toward Tom and he would furrow his eyebrows. Jade crossed her arms and stared back.
"Do you have something to say, Malfoy? Or do I just look especially beautiful today?"
The car quieted, all ten eyes fixing upon Abraxas. He shifted uncomfortably and pulled his robes tight across his chest.
"You look just as average as always, Sterling."
He didn't speak for the rest of the journey and bolted out the doors as soon as the train rolled to a stop. Tom grabbed Jade's hand when she tried to follow Dahlia out of the car.
"Stay for a moment."
Dahlia looked back eagerly, "Are you coming? Mum and Dad want to see you!"
Jade shook her head. "We're going to stay for a moment, Tom needs help with his bags. I'll meet you on the platform, go on."
Dahlia frowned and grabbed the back of Alphard's shirt, following him out into the bustling station.
Currier picked up his bag on the floor and held out his hand to Tom.
"I'll see you soon, Tom."
Tom grabbed his fingers and nodded.
Currier exited and Tom wrapped his arms around Jade's shoulders.
"Will I get to see you this summer?"
She placed her arms around his lower back, rubbing her cheek against his.
"Of course you will. You can stay at my house if you'd like. My parents want to holiday in Paris if you want to come."
He pulled her closer and whispered into her ear.
"I'd rather stay alone with you while your parents are in Paris."
Tom stood and pulled her off her seat. He twirled a lock of her hair around his pointer finger and sighed.
"You know, Jade, I never thought that I would take to you the way I have."
Jade's cheeks glowed red and she stepped closer toward him. She ran her hand up his chest and wrapped her hand around the back of his neck.
"I'm positively flattered, Riddle. Your arrogance is, as usual, overwhelming. Who would have thought it could be charming?"
"Oh, Miss Sterling." Tom grinned down at her and planted his lips on her forehead. "How lucky I am to have you."
"Will you stop talking and kiss me already?"
"Always so eager."
Jade rose up onto her tiptoes and pressed her lips against his. Kissing Tom had become comfortable. Their teeth never hit together anymore, and their tongues knew exactly where to go. It was a sensation that warmed Jade's entire body, completely and utterly bewitched her soul.
"I'm afraid we'll have to get off the train eventually, Miss Sterling."
"I'd rather stay here with you."
"I'll see you again. Soon. I promise."
They laced their fingers together and walked out of their car, the prospects of next year dancing around in their heads.
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