Still smiling, I climb up the stairs to my common room and make my way to my bed. I just put my suit jacket on top of my trunk, followed by my waistcoat, and I untuck my shirt and kick my shoes off. I grab hold of the nearest bedpost, turning myself around so I'm facing the door.
"How was your night, Ciaran?"
I jump and land awkwardly on top of my bed. "God, Declan. You scared the crap out of me," I whisper just as Declan had been, in case people are sleeping. I don't want to wake them. I sit up slowly and pull off my shirt, throwing it to my right. I don't try to pinpoint his voice anymore; I can hear him easily enough, he sounds close. The bed shakes slightly; he's leaning up against it. "My night was fine," I murmur. Then I find myself smiling again, wider this time. "It was better than fine."
"I'm, er, I'm really glad you're with Louis, you look good together," he says quietly. But I sense he's trying to say something more, or something else entirely. So I prompt him to continue and wait patiently. "How long has Jack and Lucy been together?" he finally asks, still quiet. "I came in after dinner and they were lying on Jack's bed talking. I came back about an hour later and they had fallen asleep." He pauses. "They're still asleep... Together. They look very couple-y, with Jack's arms wrapped around her," he laughs awkwardly. "Is 'couple-y' even a word?"
"It is now," I answer with a chuckle, wishing I could see how 'couple-y' they really looked. "They've been together since Halloween. It was kind of a secret until now; I think they wanted to be sure."
Well, it is mostly the truth. I realize now he knows exactly what he wanted to know, his curiosity has been sated.
"They look good together, too. I'm glad. Good night."
I want to laugh, but people are sleeping. I don't want to wake them, especially my friends. If they wake, Lucy would probably leave and I think this is good for them, being seen by others and looking 'couple-y' together. People will accept it quickly enough and Lucy's doubts will disappear, slowly but surely. Declan is proof of that; he even thinks they look good together. He goes about it strangely, though. He could have just asked. And then the moment he had what he wants, he just drops the conversation. He's very odd. But I don't laugh. "Good night, Dec," I say instead.
I wait for him to leave, then pull off my pants and get into bed. Sleep starts to come quickly and more things can I remember enter my dreams.
Louis is still clearer than them all.
I can sleep through a lot of things, but today my alarm clock telling me that it's eleven in the morning is not one of them. Oddly enough, I don't care. I find myself more awake than I've ever been in a morning. Sadly, though, I still don't feel very refreshed. No, for that to work, I still require a shower and a nice cup of tea, with plenty of sugar. And maybe food... With dessert.
Yeah, that would definitely help.
I pull myself up, taking the silence to mean the dorm room is empty. Until I hear someone snore. I wonder who it is. How could I possibly be awake before another person? I can't remember this ever happening before. Wow.
My pajama pants are where they are usually left, on the end of my bed. I grab them along with my towel, pull them on from under my sheets and stand up, finding the bathroom and turning on the shower. I feel the water's temperature change using my hand and as soon as it feels just right, I pull off my pants and jump in.
That feels so much better. My body starts to wake up, as does my mind. I shake my head rapidly underneath the shower head, the water blasting from above and down my face and body. I push my hair back, away from my eyes, and wash at a reasonably slow pace. I think about last night and everything that happened; I told him about my family, I told him about me and what happened, I even told him about my fears. I talked to Louis and I was honest, open; no therapist had ever been able to achieve that.
It seemed so much easier to talk to him than anyone else; no one was probing me with questions I wasn't old enough to understand and grew to hate them for. Louis was genuinely interested in me, but wasn't trying to help or change me when I didn't want it. Besides, I didn't like the therapists, especially the first one; he was weird and had bad breath.
I hate bad breath.
I'm just thinking how peaceful this morning is when it's all ruined by somebody calling my name. Why does the opposite always seem to happen to me after I think something? I think it's peaceful and I'm being called for. I think Louis' going to kiss me and he tells me he has a plan.
Whoever it is, stop it!
The door slams against the wall when it's opened. "Here you are. Why aren't you still sleeping?"
"Maybe deep down I knew you'd come wanting to wake me up at some point and decided to do it for you," I answer him. "Get out, Jack. I'm in the shower."
"I need your help, it's very important."
"Wait five more minutes."
"So, Luce and I have kind of gone backwards, you know." I repeatedly fake banging my head against the wall, while he continues to talk as though I haven't told him to get lost. I've never been more thankful for shower curtains. Whoever invented them were geniuses. "And now that I've accepted that I like her and have stopped trying to keep her away and got her to listen to me and go out, I'm going to make sure that she doesn't have any doubts about us being together. I need our first proper date to be romantic, you know. My question for you is how do I do that?"
"And my question for you is why are you still in here when I've told you to get out?"
"Because I need your help and it can't wait." He acts like he's pointing out something I should already know. "Just don't give me a Louis-style answer."
I poke my head out from behind the curtain. I'm trying not to forget where we are and that I need him to leave so I can get out, but my interest is piqued now. "What the hell is 'Louis-style'?"
"Cheesy," he explains. "It's cool that you like it, or you wouldn't be dating him, but it's not my thing and Lucy knows me well enough that she probably wouldn't like me pretending."
I completely ignore that what he's said about Lucy not liking him pretending is probably true and go straight to what he said about Louis. I feel the almost overprotective need to defend my boyfriend. Ah, boyfriend. It's still strange. "Most of the time, he only does that in front of you because he knows it annoys you."
"I know, I named it after him anyway." Jack let's out a throaty chuckle. "He hates it."
"I can't image why," I mutter sarcastically, wishing he'd leave. There's no point trying to tell him though; he doesn't listen. So I try to answer his question instead. "Take her to Ellie's, call your dad and use your suspicions that Digby can be bribed to take her to London one night, put food from the kitchens in a basket and have a picnic by the lake. I don't know, Jack. I've not long woken up, you can't expect me to miraculously be awake enough to answer."
"You did, though. The picnic thing might be perfect." Jack sounds very excited now. Yay, I helped. Now will he leave? "I mean, it's peaceful and we'd be alone. It's on school grounds, so we could have it any night and she wouldn't have to worry about it interrupting her NEWTs studies. It's romantic, but I wouldn't call it overly so; it's not 'Louis-style'. Thank you, Ciaran."
"Jeez, I'm going."
He shuts the door behind him on his way out and I embrace the silence again. Why are my friends so weird that even my shower time is no longer private? I turn off the water, shaking my head, and step out. I dry myself quickly and wrap my towel over my waist. I scratch my chin as I grab my toothbrush with my other, reminding myself to shave soon. Then the door opens again.
"One more thing." I roll my eyes. "This morning, your boyfriend, yes, he did emphasise that,said to tell you he can't come to lunch because Kyle is a dick." I laugh a little and find the toothpaste. "Yeah, he said you'd probably guess why and find it funny and that he'll see you later."
"Thank you. Get out."
Finally, he's actually gone this time. Now... I wonder when 'later' will be.
Popping another biscuit into my mouth, I chew carefully, since I'm lying on my back, and shut my eyes. It's rather warm for January. I mean, it's not summer weather by any standards, but I'm not freezing cold. I feel quite fine in my leather jacket, I'm not wearing my thick coat like yesterday. British weather can be strange sometimes.
Just like in my dream, and every other time I've lay here, I almost find myself dosing off. I'm so lost in my own little world that I barely notice another person sit besides me. But I do feel the fingers 'walking' up my chest. I reach out as they reach my heart, grabbing them, and he laughs softly. "I thought you were asleep," he murmurs. I only shake my head. "I'm sorry I missed lunch."
"S'okay," I answer, opening my eyes. "Kyle being a dick can't be helped. What did he do this time?"
"You didn't guess?" he asks, a little surprised.
I shake my head again. "He can be one for many reasons. Was I meant to know?"
He quiet for a little while. I don't interrupt whatever he is thinking, I just stay quiet and still and wait. He always talks to me if I wait. "Kyle and Luka had a fight. Kyle wants me On his side. I've spent all morning trying to get them both to calm down and look at it from both sides. Separately, of course. But I was going to see Kyle when I bumped into Jack."
"Why are they fighting?" I ask quietly, though I get the feeling I already know the answer to that. Louis talked about them a little bit over dinner and there is only one part of their relationship that gets to them so much that they fight, despite their promise.
"NEWTs are getting closer, then graduation, and Kyle is worried Luka won't tell his parents about them like he promised. Luka doesn't ever talk about it, he acts like it's not going to happen, and their fights are getting bigger."
"Because Kyle's scared of being a secret forever," I finish. "Just another thing Luka keeps from the world. But Luka can't keep them a secret forever, nothing does."
"Right," Louis whispers, his voice thick. I don't know what's wrong. Is he worried about his friends? Is it more than that? Is it him? Does he have a secret?
...Is it about Ellis?
I push that thought away quickly; I'm not going to even think about Louis' ex. He's in the past. Louis said it was just a fling and, unless he tells me otherwise, I'm going to believe that. This is all Dom's fault.
"I'm glad you opened up," he says suddenly. "Talked to me about what happened to you."
"I've decided I want to do the same," Louis continues. My eyes widen a little, this is a topic of conversation I never thought we get to so soon. My thoughts of his ex come and go quickly once more; I don't want that to be the thing he opens up about. At least not yet. But I cannot think of anything else he hasn't told me... Except...
"Come with me to the Room of Requirement." His art! He takes me hand and pulls me up, which I allow willingly. I think my smile is a big enough giveaway of how excited I am because he chuckles softly. "Let's go."
The walk to the seventh floor is quiet, first because I'm still excited about knowing of his art and then because I become more and more aware of people watching us. I hate when people are watching me. I let go of Louis' hand quickly.
And he doesn't pretend not to notice.
"What's the matter?" he asks. I circle my finger, motioning to the room. "So?"
"I don't like it," I mutter.
Louis' hands move to my face, each hand cupping a side, and I swear my face is growing redder. People can see us! "Don't think about what everyone else thinks about us. Isn't that what you think about Lucy's relationship with Jack?" I scowl; he's using my words against me. I should stop telling him things. And I should stop telling Jack things because he tells Louis, too, it seems. "Now I know you want to know about my art, so are you going to hold my hand again or am I going to have to carry you? Because I'm stronger than you, I can do it. Over the threshold like a blushing bride."
"You wouldn't dare," I glare.
"No, you're right; you're definitely more of an 'over the shoulder' kind of guy."
I open my mouth to retort, but he doesnt give me the chance. I don't even get the chance to move and he grabs me, throws me over his shoulder and starts to move. "Put me down, Weasley!" I yell, no longer caring about the passing students or their snickering. I smack my hand against his back, dig my elbow into him and even try to kick him while yelling. "You've proved your point, I'm sorry! I just freaked out for a minute. This is all very new to me still. But I'm okay now, I'll hold your hand again, just like a good boy."
"Good boys can be trusted not to need to hold hands," he points out, amused.
I huff. "Then I'll hold your hand like a bad boy." Then I realize exactly what I just said and my eyes widen so much it hurts a little. And he can't stop laughing. "I didn't mean that!"
He drops me onto my feet and takes my hand again. "Too late. Can we continue now?"
I nod, sulking. Yes, my bottom lip is stuck out and everything. But I don't let go of his hand this time. I should listen to my own advice. Who cares that people are watching? I should stop making myself paranoid by wondering what they're thinking and saying, wondering what they see. It's not worth it. But he didn't have to prove a point by carrying me! "I hate you," I mutter.
"That would hurt a lot more if I thought for a second that it was true. But I don't," he tells me.
"Whether I know it's a lie or not, hearing it will always hurt a little," he defends. "No one wants to hear their partner tell them they hate them."
"I hate everybody," I point out with a smile. "What makes you so different?"
"You're not dating the rest of them," Louis argues.
I try for an innocent look, cock my head to the side in thought. "You mean you have to like the person you're dating?" He says yes like it's the obvious answer. Well, I'd be surprised if he said no. "But what if that person tells you that he has a plan instead of kissing you?"
He briefly presses his lips against mine, same as last night. It's barely even for a second. I wonder how many people saw that... "That better?" he asks me nicely.
"Nope. Still doesn't count."
"It's not supposed to count. It's supposed to satisfy you for a while," he explains.
"It doesn't do that either," I go back to muttering.
Louis pulls me closer to him, wraps his arm around my shoulders, so he's holding my right hand instead of my left. "Maybe my new game will."
I'm intrigued. "Are we still playing the name game?" He tells me we are and that he'll win that one. I chose not to tell him he'd already said my name in his sleep. When the game ends, I want to hear him say my name again and I want him to remember, so that first one does not count for this. "Will I like this new game?"
"I honestly don't know, but I will love it." I'm suddenly not so sure I want to play this one. "Here we are."
I wait patiently for him to reveal the door, so we can get through, and he pulls me inside quickly. The first thing I notice is the room's silence; there is absolutely no noise at all. No students, no outside noise. It's so peaceful. The second thing I notice is Louis' silence; I can barely hear his usually soft breathing. Is he holding his breath?
"Are you okay?" I ask quietly.
"A little nervous, I guess," he replies, copying my words from dinner. "No one else has ever been in here before, they don't know anything. But I want you to be here. You can ask me anything."
The first thing I ask is: "What do you paint?"
He leads me around the room slowly. "Landscapes mostly, on the canvases, a few portraits. My sketches are mostly portraits, with a few landscapes."
He starts to tell me about the things he's painted and drawn; his home on the beach, Hogwarts, a Quidditch game, his family. He takes them home every summer and adds them to his 'collection' at the back his wardrobe. He has half a dozen in here now, he says, all finished. And he has no plans of painting any more, since we have NEWTs, but he'll still draw in-between homework and revision. His supplies are packed away, but they'll stay in here until June.
"No one else uses this room, so they're all safe," he finishes.
We stop in front of his last one, he tells me. "What is it?"
"It is my boyfriend enjoying one of his favorite pastimes," he chuckles.
Oh... "You painted a picture of me sleeping?" I ask in amused disbelief.
"You are adorable when you sleep," he seems to be assuring me. "But no, this is you deciding what to do about someone who obviously pissed you off enough to deserve one of your games. I drew it that day, then made it bigger."
"When was that day?" I ask curiously.
"Near the end of November," he answers after a moments pause.
I smirk. "Oh, you mean the day you left me asleep in History of Magic and I started talking."
Another pause. "The next day, you made me sit through Jack's horribly awkward questions and talk to those girls about what they were saying about you talking in your sleep. Damn, you were punishing me!"
"Well, it took you long enough," I snicker. I gesture to the painting. "And now you'll never forget it."
Laughing softly, he pulls me closer, so his chin is resting on my shoulder, my back pressed to his front. "Never. I'm glad I brought you here."
"I wish I could actually see them." I try to sound indifferent, I don't want to ruin our good mood, but it doesn't work and every negative feeling I have threatens to pour out once more. Maybe I'm never meant to accept this life, just live with it.
"Close your eyes and imagine them, CJ. You can see whatever you want in your mind and I've told you all about them."
So I do. And there's his art in my mind. It's hard to concentrate and I bet they aren't quite what they should look like, but they're there. For a brief moment, I could see what he'd shown me.
...And I want to see more.
A/N: Chapter 20. A huge writing milestone for me. I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think. :)