That wasn't so long of a wait, was it? And I have a nice long chapter for you. I think it's 4,400 words or something like that. I was racing to get it in before the queue closed :) Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah (I had to look up how to spell that :P) or whatever you celebrate to all of you! I should have a couple chapters lined up by the time the queue opens again.
I woke up with a start to Cinda’s face looming over me. I screeched and rolled over off the bed, clawing at the sheets as I went. I landed with a loud thump on my back, and the air was momentarily knocked out of me.
“You really have to stop waking me up like that, Cinda.” I spluttered, still struggling for breath.
“You’re fine.” Cinda said nonchalantly, hopping off the bed and offering me a hand. I took it and pulled myself up with her help, dusting myself off. I realized I was still wearing the dress I had worn last night, and I remembered vaguely the events that had taken place the night previous. I groaned loudly, and stumbled to my closet.
“Details, remember?” Cinda said. “Meet Arianna and I in the kitchen. I’m making pancakes.”
“Ciindaaa!” I heard Arianna screech. “Your pancakes are on fiiire!”
Cinda cursed, and ran out the door before she could hear me ask, “Can I just have cereal?”
I sighed, and grabbed my favorite pair of sweats and a Weird Sisters t-shirt from a box on the floor of my closet. It served largely as my laundry basket that I rarely used, due to the fact that I thought it was a lot easier to just wave my wand and have everything be clean again.
After I had dressed and splashed water on my face in the bathroom that Arianna and I shared (Cinda got her own because she was paying 5% more for the flat than the two of us), I walked down the short hall to the kitchen area, where I could smell burnt pancakes poorly masked by cooking eggs. Arianna had evidently been placed on breakfast duty, which may have been the best decision of the day. Cinda was historically bad at cooking.
Cinda, who was sitting at the small, wooden kitchen table, jumped up when she saw me. “Sit down!” She ordered me, grabbing my hand and leading me to the table. “Details! Now! What happened last night? Did he kiss you? Did you snog? Did you have dirty sex in the bathroom?”
“What?” I spluttered, my cheeks beginning to flame.
Arianna saw my face, and laughed. “Give her some time to wake up, Cinda. I’m sure that she’ll tell you everything.”
I raised my eyebrows at her, and she gave me a look. I smirked and shrugged, turning back to Cinda.
“You burnt your pancakes?” I asked her. Cinda glared at me.
“That was your fault.” She said. “You distracted me.”
“You were the one who decided to wake me up by sticking your nose in my face.” I said, putting my hands on the edge of the table, and pushed my chair back on its two back legs. “That was all you.”
Cinda rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at me. Arianna swished her wand through the air. The eggs flew from the pan to three plates that were sitting in front of each chair. I picked up my fork and dug in. Arianna pointed her wand at the refrigerator, and the pumpkin juice levitated itself to our table and poured itself into each of our glasses. Arianna sat down and dug in to her meal.
“Mmm.” Cinda said when she tasted the eggs. “These are really good, Arianna. But my pancakes would’ve been better. If they hadn’t burned.”
“Sure, Cinda.” Arianna said, barely containing a smile. Both Arianna and I knew that the only person Cinda’s cooking could rival was mine.
“So.” Cinda turned her attention to me. “Dee. I want details, now. What happened last night? How did Scorpius and Rose kidnap you?”
“Scorpius and Rose kidnapped you?” Arianna asked, nearly spitting out her pumpkin juice. “Where did they take you? How did you escape? I’m going to kill them.” She reached for her wand, but I snatched it away.
“It’s not how it sounds, you two, so you can relax.” I snapped.
“What happened, then?” Arianna asked. I closed my eyes for a moment, replaying last night in my brain, then I opened my eyes and explained everything to them, from when Hayden rang the doorbell to when I Apparated back to the flat.
Arianna leaned back and whistled. “Wow, you’ve had a night.”
“I know, right?” I asked. “And you—” I gestured at Cinda with my fork, the bit of egg that I had just speared nearly falling off. “—thought that I was just avoiding the question.”
Cinda’s eyes were narrowed, and her lips were pressed tightly together. “What’s up?” I asked, recognizing her face. “Upset ‘cause I ran away again?”
“Well, there’s that.” Cinda said, pushing her chair out and bringing her plate to the sink. “And there’s the fact that you seem to be utterly convinced that you are completely in the wrong here.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, even though I thought I knew what she was talking about.
For the past couple of years, Cinda and I had fought a couple times over how I should be reacting to the whole chain of events in seventh year, and even the years before, when I was Deandra-before-Delilah. She thought I should be angry. She thought I should yell and yell at Albus and the boys and that they were completely in the wrong.
But I just didn’t feel that way. For one, Albus and the boys—actually, just Albus—scared the hell out of me. They were anomalies to me. I didn’t understand how they could love me one moment, and then hate me the next. It had happened two times—I knew why they hated me now. I would hate it too, if I had fallen in love with a boy who wasn’t who he said he was. But before that, I must’ve done something bad—it was even worse that I couldn’t remember that month of my life. The last month of first year just wasn’t there. And it was second year when they started hating me.
It was my fault both times. Why would I be mad at them? I would apologize to them, every last one of them, a million times until they forgave me if I wasn’t so scared of Albus. He was a stranger to me now. I had no idea how he would react.
“I’ve told you, Cinda—it’s none of your business.” I said as she slammed her plate in the sink so hard that it broke. Cinda cursed and pulled out her wand to fix it. “I don’t understand why you’re angry at me for it anyway! If you care that much, hunt them down!”
“Yeah, that’s the thing, Deandra.” Cinda said, turning to face me. “I’ve tried. But they’re just as well hidden as you are, which leads me to believe that they are just as scared of you as you are of them!”
“They’re not hiding, Cinda!” I said loudly, standing. “Did you even listen to me? They aren’t looking for me, Cinda. They don’t care!”
“Rose and Scorpius were, Dee. Were you listening to yourself? They practically kidnapped you to get you back to Potter!” Cinda turned to Arianna. “Back me up, here!”
Arianna shrugged, and moved to sit on the counter next to Cinda. “I don’t care about Scorpius and Rose and the others.” She said. “I think you’re better off without them. But don’t you feel angry at him, Dee? Don’t you want to yell at him? Don’t you want to just—I dunno, hex him in to the next century?”
“Sorry, I don’t get murderous tendencies about my exes—I think that particular quality is reserved for the Slytherins.” I growled, glaring at the two of them. There was a little voice in the back of my head warning me not to pick a fight with the both of them, but I ignored it.
“You’re so stupid, Dee!” Cinda yelled, her voice reaching a hysterical level. “You think that it’s all your fault, but it’s not! We saw it happen, we were there! It’s there’s!”
“Yeah, but that’s the thing. You weren’t there. You didn’t see the way he looked at me. You didn’t see the way they—you weren’t there. You two have nothing to do with this.” I said, my voice seething. I stormed out of the flat, grabbing my coat as I went and shrugging into it after slamming the door.
“Dee!” I dropped a mug and turned suddenly. Rose, who had somehow gone unnoticed, was sitting at the table next to me. She disregarded the mug and pulled me into the chair across the table.
“Rose!” I hissed. “I’m working! You know, work, that thing that people have to do when their parents aren’t rich and famous? Yeah, I’m in the middle of that!”
Rose feigned a hurt expression. “It’s not my fault my parents saved your sorry arse from the Dark Lord himself.” She sniffed. “It just turned out that way. And besides, your boss is a pushover. She gave you two extra sick days to visit your friend in the ‘hospital’.”
“Stalking me, much?” I asked. “How do you know about that?”
Rose shrugged. “Talked to the bitchy blonde. Vienna? Is that her name? She hates you, you know.”
“Most people do.” I grumbled, glaring in Vienna’s general direction.
Rose rolled her eyes. “When are you going to let that go? Al doesn’t hate you, you know. He just… he just strongly dislikes you at the moment.”
I snorted loudly. “Okay, Rose. That makes me feel so much better.”
“At the moment.” Rose emphasized. “And the rest of us miss you, Dee. Tell you what,” She said, leaning across the bar. “You come over to my flat for lunch. Al won’t be there, I promise. Just me and Scorpius. You can explain everything.”
“Yeah, right.” I said distrustfully. “Like hell Al won’t be there. You kidnapped me last night. Don’t think I forgot about that!”
Rose rolled her eyes. “Would you have come with us if we hadn’t? And I think ‘kidnapped’ is a bit of a strong word, don’t you? I mean, we let you go, in the end.”
“Scorpius let me go.” I corrected. “I’m sure you would have kept me there all night, and had me meet Al’s new girlfriend!”
Rose’s face fell a little at the mention of Al’s girlfriend. “She’s hardly new. And not really his girlfriend.” She muttered unhappily, like a moody child.
“How long have they been dating?” I asked curiously. “What’s her name?” Even though I hadn’t exactly stayed single since I had run away from Hogwarts, I hadn’t had a serious relationship with anybody. I was a little hurt that he could get over me that quickly.
I stopped that train of thought. I had no right to be jealous. I didn’t even know when they had started dating. They could have met two months ago, for all I know.
Rose frowned unhappily. “I don’t like thinking about it.” She said. “You’ll have to ask him. Or, I’m sure Scorpius would tell you. But you’d have to come over to our flat.”
I hesitated for a moment. I knew that it was just bait to get me back. But, on the other hand, now I was really curious about Al’s girlfriend. Or, his not-a-girlfriend, as Rose put it.
“Fine.” I sighed loudly, throwing my hands in the air. “You got me. I’ll be there.”
“Thank you so much, Dee!” Rose said, cheering immediately. She jumped up, smiling from ear to ear. “I promise you won’t regret this!”
“Al better not be there!” I called as she grabbed her jacket and walked out the door of Sunny Days.
“He won’t be!” She called back cheerfully, and disappeared with a swish of her bright red hair.
I grabbed a rag and wiped the bar down, for something to do. I couldn’t believe what I had just agreed to. I was going into the belly of the beast. Out of the cauldron and into the fire. Whatever you’d like to call it, I was in trouble. Deep, major trouble.
I was totally going to regret this.
Just after I got off for lunch, I shrugged my coat on and walked out to the back alley. I closed my eyes and visualized the room I was in yesterday in Rose’s flat. Then, crossing my fingers, I turned on my heel sharply, Apparating to the kitchen.
I appeared with a loud crack, and someone shrieked loudly. I heard a loud thump, and shattering glass. I cracked open one eyelid, and saw Rose on the ground, her hair poofed around her face. She had evidentially been holding a mixing bowl when I Apparated straight in front of her.
“Rose?” I heard a familiar male voice call from the living room. I froze just as Aidan popped his head in the door. “Rose, are you… o… kay?” His eyes widened as he saw me, and I prepared to Disapparate instinctively.
“Oh no you don’t!” Rose gasped from the ground, and grabbed the hem of my coat just as I turned, visualizing the alley.
I appeared on the street. Rose jumped up, dusting herself off, and then patted herself down. “What on earth are you doing?” I asked incredulously.
“Checking for all my body parts! I don’t want to have splinched!” She said frantically, patting her arms. “Still have arms… legs… butt… breasts! I still have my boobs!” I gaped as she hugged herself thankfully. It was possibly the weirdest thing I had ever seen, and living in London, I had seen some pretty questionable things.
“Now…” She rounded on me. “You! You said you would have lunch round my place!”
“And you said no one would be there!” I retorted angrily.
“I never said that!” Rose protested. “I said that Al wouldn’t be there. I never said anything about Nathan and Aidan.”
“Nathan’s there too?” I asked. “That’s just great. I’m never going to your flat again, you know that?”
Rose regarded me for a moment, and then she jumped forward and grabbed my forearm. “Rose!” I managed to exclaim indignantly before we Apparated away again. “You have to stop doing that!” I said, scowling as we reappeared in her kitchen.
Aidan and Nathan were standing in the kitchen. Aidan’s eyes widened again when he saw me, and then he scowled. I was a little surprised by this. I guess that I thought that if anybody out of all my friends would forgive me, it would have been Aidan.
Why was he out of all of them (excluding Al, of course) holding a grudge against me? He really shouldn’t have been affected by it at all. In fact, he should be welcoming me with open arms! I was his cousin! Why was he still angry at me?
The only explanation I could think of was that blank month in my first year, and, of course, I had no idea what I did, because it was blank.
“What is she doing here?” Aidan asked, glaring at Rose.
“Aidan, if you don’t want me to bring her round, you need to tell me why I can’t tell her what she did!” Rose exclaimed angrily.
“What are you talking about?” I asked. “What did I do?”
Aidan and Rose ignored me. Nathan sent me a little apologetic smile, but I didn’t return it.
“There’s a reason she can’t know.” Aidan snarled.
“You have no right to treat her this way when she doesn’t even know why.” Rose retorted, crossing her arms across her chest.
“It’s not your decision to make, Rose.” Nathan said, speaking for the first time. “It’s the Ministry’s, and St. Mungo’s. If we could tell her, we would.”
“Tell me what?” I asked loudly. “What did I do?”
“I’m so sorry, Deandra, we can’t tell you.” Nathan said. “You go by Deandra now, right?”
I nodded stiffly. Aidan regarded me coldly. “I hate that name.” He said, shooting venom at me. “I hate you. Get out.”
“Aidan Clarke, this is my flat.” Rose said just as coldly. “You cannot kick people out of my flat, no matter how much you hate them. You get out. Go on. Leave.”
“No way.” Aidan said, looking angry. “As soon as I leave, you’ll spill the beans. I’m not going to risk that.”
“I’ll still be here, Aidan.” Nathan said. “You go. You’re not thinking rationally.” Aidan spun around to face him. Something seemed to pass between the two of them, because Aidan turned on his heel and Disapparated with a loud pop. I stared at the spot where he had vanished. I was a little angry with him. He was supposed to be my family.
But what had I expected, really? It’s not like we had ever been that close. We had played together when we were little, sometimes, but his parents had never liked mine. We only really had that one year, and whatever friendship we had then was ruined by whatever I had done. My anger shifted from Aidan to myself. I had been idolizing him this whole time, when I was really just missing my parents.
“Never mind him.” Rose said, although she was still clearly angry. “We can still have lunch the three of us.”
“Rose…” I said. I really didn’t want to stay here. It seemed painful.
“Deandra, please.” Rose pleaded. “I haven’t seen you in so long.”
“I promise I’ll come by tomorrow.” I said. “I really have to go.” I turned on my heel and Disapparated. I appeared in front of my old house, my parents’ old house. I hadn’t been here in ages. They had given it to me in their will. They had completely paid of the mortgage, so it didn’t cost me much to maintain. I could have lived here until Cinda and Arianna got out of school, but I really hated visiting. There were too many memories.
I walked up the overgrown path and unlocked the door. I walked through the hallway, which still had all of our family pictures hanging on it. They were dusty from lack of cleaning over the years. The whole house was.
I winced when I stepped on the first stair. It always creaked loudly, and I hated it as a child. When I reached the landing, I instinctively turned down the long, narrow hallway. The door at the end was my parents’ room.
I pushed the door open. The room was exactly how they had left it all those years ago. I hadn’t touched a thing. The sheets were rumpled, as if the bed had been recently slept in. My father’s clothes were all over the floor, as was his habit. There was a small dresser and a mirror. There were still reminders for my father written in my mother’s neat handwriting. There was a calendar for the year 2020, the year they died.
I curled up on my mother’s side of the bed like I used to when I had a bad dream. I would come to my mum, and she would stroke my hair and sing to me until I fell to sleep. I felt a tear slip down my face. I didn’t often miss my parents. It had been a long time since they died. But I could really use a mum and dad right now.
I cried myself to sleep on my parents’ bed, occupying it for the first time in eight years.
I woke up in the morning to the sound of birds chirping. I slowly raised my head. I had sprawled all over the bed in the middle of the night, and my clothes and hair were rumpled and a little dusty from the sheets. The sun was shining through the window, illuminating the dust that I hadn’t seen before. The whole room was coated in it. I made a face and rolled out of bed.
I checked my watch. It was 7:01 in the morning. I had about an hour before I had to be at work. I grabbed my purse and walked back out of the house, locking the door behind me. Then I Disapparated back to my flat, preparing myself for the questions from Arianna and Cinda that I would surely receive.
Cinda was sitting in her favorite arm chair in front of the TV when I walked in the door. She didn’t look at me when I came in, but I could practically feel her perk up. I quietly put my purse down and crept to the bathroom to take a shower.
When I got out, the bathroom steaming and my hair sopping, I wrapped a towel around my body and stepped into my bedroom, both Cinda and Arianna were sitting on my bed. I yelped and almost dropped the towel, before running back into the bathroom with the first article of clothing I could find, a long shirt.
“What are you two doing in there?” I yelled at them through the bathroom door, pulling the shirt over my head and wrapping the towel around my waist. I looked ridiculous, but I walked back into my bedroom anyway. I needed pants.
“Late night last night, huh?” Cinda asked. I glared at her pathetically and grabbed underwear and jeans from a pile on my floor. I walked back into the bathroom and closed the door to change.
“It’s really none of your business,” I said, opening the door and starting to brush my hair out.
“Yes, well, you know I’m going to find out anyway, so just tell us. Which one were you sleeping with, Albus or Hayden?” Cinda prodded.
I choked on my own spit, and started coughing. Arianna hopped up and pounded on my back with her fist.
Once I had recovered, Arianna led me to the bed, and the three of us sat in a circle, like we did in Salem when we couldn’t sleep. “So, which one was it?” Cinda asked. They both leaned forward slightly, awaiting my answer eagerly.
“None! Neither of them!” I exclaimed. “My god, you two! Why can’t I spend the night at the bar for extra money? Is that so unbelievable?”
“I went to the bar last night!” Arianna said. “You weren’t there, I didn’t see you.”
“I must’ve been taking a loo break.” I said, putting on an unconvinced look. “Honestly, you two, I was at the bar. I was fine.”
“You were at the bar all night?” Cinda asked disbelievingly.
“Well, no.” I said. “I, er—I spent the night at my grandmother’s place.”
“Your grandmother’s.” Cinda said, dryly.
“Yeah!” I said. “Old Granny Misgen. She’s getting up there; the woman’s a hundred and two.”
Arianna and Cinda exchanged a look. “Deandra, your ‘Old Granny Misgen’ died ten years ago. You told us when you came to Salem, remember? You said, and I quote, that the woman was ‘a menace to society’ and that you were ‘bloody glad she had kicked the bucket.’”
“Cousin.” I amended. “I was with my cousin.”
“Now, why couldn’t you have just told us you were with Aidan? We would have accepted that.” Cinda said. “It would have been easy.”
“Because…” I floundered. “Because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings!” I said, looking at Arianna. Her eyebrows flew up her forehead. “I mean, the Aidan thing is still a bit of a touchy subject…”
“No it’s not, Deandra.” Arianna sighed. “Honestly, I’m over it.”
“My mistake!” I said cheerfully. “I’ll tell you next time. Now, if you guys could excuse me, I really have to get to the bar.”
“Again?” Arianna asked. “You worked late last night!”
“Short of staff, Vienna’s sick.” I invented. “See you two tonight! Girl’s night, remember?” Every Friday Cinda, Arianna, and I went out to a restaurant and ate food, then two of us got too drunk to Apparate while another stayed sober enough to get us home.
It was fun, honestly.
I grabbed my work uniform on the way out the door, telling myself I would change in the bathroom once I was at Sunny Days.
As I ran down the stairs, I thanked my lucky stars that they didn’t question me further. There really wasn’t anything wrong with where I had been all night, but Cinda and Arianna didn’t know about the house. And whenever I mentioned my parents, they got all sympathetic. I didn’t need it. It was just awkward, since it had happened so long ago. I still missed them, but I didn’t need a moment of silence every time they were mentioned.
I Apparated outside the building, making sure no muggles were watching. I reappeared in the back alley, walked into Sunny Days, and nearly turned around and walked straight back out again.
Hayden was sitting at the bar.
I remembered the bathroom scene, where Rose and Scorpius had kidnapped me by Disapparating with me… and Hayden had been there, standing in the doorway. Hayden, the muggle. Hayden, the prince of England, who now knew about magic.
We broke the Statute of Secrecy. We were in trouble.
Hayden noticed me, and stood immediately. I sighed, and waited for him to reach me.
“Deandra.” He said. “I need to talk to you.”
“No, I really need to talk to you.” He insisted, his chocolaty eyes wide. “A couple nights ago, when I took you to dinner, you went in the ladies’, and you—”
“I know, Hayden.” I said.
“So I’m not crazy?” He asked, his face pale. “I actually saw that, it wasn’t just—I dunno, a hallucination or something.”
“No, it was real.” I said. I needed to calm him down before he did something stupid. “Look,” I sighed. I was going to regret this. “How about you drop by my place tonight. Around six? I’ll explain everything, I promise.” His face relaxed when I said this. “I promise. But you’re not crazy.”
“Thank god.” He said. “I thought—”
“I know.” I interrupted. “And I’d really love to talk to you about it. At six, okay?” I realized that I had scheduled our little meeting over girl’s night, and groaned. I really wanted to get drunk after the past week.
“Okay.” He said, straightening. “I’ll be there at six.” He nodded at me, and smiled slightly, then walked out into the cold.
I sighed and walked to the bathroom to change, wondering how on earth I was going to explain magic and Disapparation to the muggle prince of England.
Review, please! It would really make my day. What did you think of Aidan still mad at Deandra? And what about Deandra's story of why she can't be mad at the boys?