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Chapter 9 : When To Have the Talk
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The door flew open and Taylor and I sprung apart, panting slightly.
At first all I could see was a tall silhouette, but the light flooded in and I recognized my cousin Louis leaning against the frame.
The whole school will officially know by the morning that I had been snogging Taylor Ackhart in a broom closet.
Including my girlfriend.
I looked to Taylor desperately.
She seemed to understand our predicament quite clearly. Her look was borderline terror.
"Well, well, well... what do we have here?" Louis said casually, smirking.
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I swear." Taylor says, panicking.
"Really? It sure doesn't appear so." Louis says next.
"Well, it isn't. We swear." I argue.
"Hmm... I really don't think so." He smirks.
"Look, just give us the detention and leave us in peace." Taylor says.
"Is that really what you want?"
"YES!" I exclaim. "But Louis, listen to me, you can't breath a word of this to anyone, you understand me? This isn't what you think it is. You have to promise me."
He grimaces. "Well, let's just see how it goes..."
"Louis," Taylor says threateningly, "if you tell anyone, I'll tell Fred who it was that left the squirrel shit in his pillow two Christmases ago."
Louis' face turns ashen. "Detention both of you. I'll inform McGonagall. No one hears of this, all right? No one."
I smirk. "If you say so Louis."
He glares, then shoves us off towards Gryffindor towers, muttering about McGonagall sending us out to the Forbidden Forest.
We make it back to the common room without encountering anymore prefects, the fire roaring softly, the coals burning in and out of the flames. It's empty except for us. Scorpius probably hiding from us for the next few days.
"So," I begin uncomfortably, "That wasn't awkward, was it?"
"Yep, totally and completely awkward." She agrees.
"At least it worked in the end right?"
"Nice one with the squirrel shit. I didn't even know that was Louis."
"So, Scorpius really had it in for us this time didn't he?"
"Yep." She pops her "P".
"It's agreed that we're giving him the Silent Treatment then?"
"Cool. See you in Potions tomorrow?"
"All right then. Goodnight."
So, that wasn't the most awkward conversation I've ever had in my life. But it was most definitely the most awkward conversation I've had in my entire life.
Besides maybe talking to Tanner about which I prefer more, grapes or women.
But probably not.
"So..." I start awkwardly. Taylor and I are serving our detention with McGonagall, and she's left us to clean the staircases on our own. It's still weird between us, making the last ten minutes of cleaning the stairs with old sponges and suds completely slow and boring.
"So what?" She replies.
"So, about last night."
"What about it?"
"Look Taylor, can't we just pretend it didn't happen or something, we did it for the guys, and they're off infilitrating the Slyterin's water supply as we speak, so it worked."
She still doesn't look at me. "Ok, but we agreed on that before you know. Just led to more awkwardness in the end."
"Well, this time, we're just going to put it all in the past, okay? I've missed you Tails. I feel like we haven't been the same since June."
"Well, maybe I haven't noticed."
"But I know you have. Can't we just be friends agian? Best friends, like we always have been? I've missed just the two of us, hanging out, doing stupid stuff. Why do things keep getting in the way?"
"Maybe because that's what happens in life. You screw up one thing, and all of a sudden the rest of your life is screwed too. Or maybe it's not even your fault, you're just meant to have a screwed up life." She says, somewhat destitutely.
I frown. "Taylor, you don't really believe that do you? You're the least screwed up person I know."
She looks up at me and our eyes meet finally. "Really? Even though I'm friends with Scorpius?"
I grin. "Well, I don't know about that factor, but you're like a rock Taylor. You're always there, as yourself. You don't change around and pretend like other people."
"You don't do that either." She says.
I grin. "Tails, I started a secret society, am an incessently crazy Quidditch captian, am best friends with your brother, and am dating a girl that laughed at me when I asked her out in third year. Very meanly, i might add."
"What is the deal with you two anyway? I haven't seen you two together very much."
"It's mostly snuggling in corridors after hours. Plus the occaisonal Hogsmeade visit. But she refuses to go outside the allotted recreational hours they give us."
She smirks. "Snuggling? Have you been to Madame Puddifoot's yet?"
"Yes. Maybe." I admit, ashamed.
She laughs. "How long did you last?"
"Twenty minutes. I was tempted to run out the entire time. But I finally managed to convince Ashley that I really needed more sugar quills, so she eventually was ready to leave."
She smiles. "Al Potter in Madame Puddifoots. I can imagine it. I bet you actually didn't mind it in there. All snug and warm with Ashley. Did you order those little pink bon-bons?"
I shove her with my sudsy hand. But I'm not actually very annoyed. Taylor's back, and it feels totally natural. Obviously we're not going to be best friends right away again, but we'll work on it.
"Shut up. I didn't. I had a very manly cup of tea and some biscuits. So sod off."
She laughed. "So how is the inescapable Ashley Pierce?"
"Fine, I suppose." I shrug.
"You don't seem to know very well." She states.
"Well, we don't really talk about that much to be honest."
"So what do you do? Just snuggle and nuzzle your noses?"
"I suppose. We just mostly snog when we're together I suppose. But it really isn't very heated, I guess you would say." I admit.
"Ah." She says. "So have you had the talk then?"
"So you haven't proposed yet?" She smirks.
"No, it just hasn't come up. James has a rule that basically says that you shouldn't have the talk until either the fourth date or the time you reach the UNICORN stage."
"And what is the Unicorn stage Al? Do tell." She says somewhat sarcastically.
"The Uncomfortable Notice in Corniness Or Romantic Number. It's basically a sign that when you feel uncomforatbly behind in affection in the relationship you lay down the ground rules." I explain.
She nods. "I see." She smiles. "Leave it to James. So any notices of uncomfortable romantic notes between you two?"
I think about Ashley and I for a moment. Have there been any notable moments of affection?
"No, not really. Things have been pretty dry to tell you the truth." I admit.
"MmHmm." She nods, moving up a couple of steps. I follow her, carrying the bucket. "I see. So no talk yet then. Well, good luck with that."
"Thanks. I'm sure it will bite me in the butt as these things usually do, but right now it's kinda nice not dealing with a label. Everyone knows we're together, so for now, we're good. After all, unicorns are very rare. We probably won't even reach that stage."
She laughs. "How do you think the others are doing? I have to admit, the plan kind of worked out perfectly."
"Yeah, I'm sure one of them will screw it up, as we're not there to make everything go perfect." I joke. "Who knows what will happen with Brad and Tanner on the same team. I trust Frank and John to keep them in line though."
She scoffs. "Yeah, but do you really think they could stop my brother from doing something as stupid as blowing up the Slytherin common room?"
"No, they wouldn't have a chance." I admit.
"At least if they get caught we won't be with them." She says.
"Yeah, although we do have this detention."
"It hasn't been that bad has it? I mean, we've talked the majority of it, and it's not the toilets or anything."
"Valid point." She says. "But we've still had better. Remember the time we played hooky and went into Hogsmeade fifth year? That wasn't bad. We didn't even get caught, Slughorn just slept the entire time."
"He's pretty old. He's apparently retiring after this year. About time. He was supposed to be retired twenty years ago. Have to imagine he's in his one hundred and thirties. He's even older than McGonagall by a decade or so."
She laughs softly. "He didn't even notice that we took the collection of canaries with us."
"Well, it was his own bloody fault for keeping them in that old, dirty cage. Inhumane, that was."
"Best rescue mission ever." She stated.
I laughed, but am interuppted by the sound of clattering metal from down a corridor somewhere above us.
There's a bit of shouting, and the sound of a laugh. Then, it grows quiet again. It sounds like they're recieving a lecture.
Then McGonagall emerges from a doorway, Scorp, John, Brad, Tanner and Frank behind her. They've obviously been caught out of corridors. I don't know what they were doing in the fifth floor corridor, but they've managed to get seen by McGonagall.
Taylor and I look at each other and smirk.
They march past us, through the door to the Headmaster's office corridor. Scorp winks and Taylor rolls her eyes.
If this is Scorp's idea of making up for the broomcupboard incident, then he's an idiot.
Once they're out of range, we break out laughing.
What a group of idiots.
AL -fifth year:
"Al!" Taylor hisses from several desks over.
I raise an eyebrow towards her. Slughorn is snoring loudly at his desk, and it's just me and her in detention. The clock on Slughorn's desk ticks back and forth, showing that we still have two hours and twenty minutes left to sit through.
"What do you think those canaries are for?" She nods her head over to the twittering birds in the cage in the front of the room.
I shrug. "Probably their feathers or something."
Her eyes widen. "That's awful."
"Well, we could take them, let them go." I suggest.
"Where would we take them?" She asks.
"Hogsmeade?" I suggest, mostly just humoring her.
"Let's go." She swings her legs out into the aisle and rushes over to the cage silently.
I just sit there, gaping. "Now? But we could get caught skiving."
"Yes now, we're wasting time. We have to be back in two hours. Which is why we won't get caught. There's no way Slughorn will notice our abscence. So C'mon."
I blindly get up from my desk and join her by the cages. "Help me carry it will you?"
I nod, taking one end of the bulky cage. The cage is not heavy, but it is very large and an odd shape. And it contains five little yellow birds flying around in there.
"Careful not to shake it too much." I whisper.
"Duh." She whispers back.
We carry it silently down the aisle, propping the door open and sliding through, cringing when the hinges creak loudly. Slughorn snores on.
We make it down the corridor. The hard part is getting it to the nearest secret passage way.
"Let's try the whomping willow." I say. "It'll be the closest. We can sneak through the front doors. No one will be there, as it's nine o' clock."
She nods. We silently carry the birds, only interuppted by Taylor telling me which way to turn, as I'm facing backwards down the hallway. We keep eye contact most of the time, and I can't help but look at the pretty brown flecks in her eyes, and this one string of hair that keeps falling in her face. She blows it out of the way every so often, just to have it slide back into place.
We eventually make it to the entrance hall, and I hold the cage stationary while she props open the big front doors, looking up and down the staircases for filch or prefects.
She holds the door open while I carefully keep hold of the wire cage, trying not to let it tip. It's beginning to slip when she grabs hold of the other side, righting it. The birds give soft tweets as they feel the cool air through their yellow feathers.
We continue to carefully stumble to the whomping willow, which we barely manage to get past.
When we emerge from the tunnel, we're in the midst of the shrieking shack. We set the birds down on the floor and look around.
"Hold on a sec." Taylor says, then opens a window, climbs out, and disappears from view.
I rush over to the window. "Taylor?" I call.
"I'm up here, smarty pants." She calls from above me. She has found a way to get onto the roof of the house, smiling down at me.
"Hand up the birds." She says, reaching out a hand.
I retrieve the cage, hand it to her and help her pull up the birds, then climb up after them.
I crouch down next to Taylor on the battered down roof.
It's just past sunset, and the sky is still slightly warm. We can see the castle, and the view of all the budding trees is fantastic.
Taylor opens the door in the front of the cage, and the little canaries find their way out, flapping their little wings about and chirping like crazy.
"How will they get food?" I ask.
"We'll get some bird seed in town and leave it around. Here, the owlery, astronomy tower, you know."
"We should do the Quidditch Pitch too." I suggest.
"Good idea." She says, watching as the little yellow birds fly off towards the woods.
"Do you think we'll ever see them agian?" I ask.
"Maybe. As long as they find the food we leave they should be fine. I'm sure we'll see at least one of them at some point."
"Do you miss your dad?"
She frowns. "Sometimes. But then I remember he was put in jail for a reason."
"But still, he is your dad, and it sounds like he didn't really know too much about what he was doing."
"Then why is he still gone?"
"I don't know."
"Maybe he's just waiting to be released." I say. "You know, he probably has really missed you."
"I'm sure he has." She says, not really convinced. "Well, we should go back before the timer goes off and Slughorn wakes up."
I slide back onto the window ledge and then help her down from the roof.
I can't help but notice the closeness, and how good it feels to have my arms around her.
But the moment isn't long, and we make our way back to the castle in the usual comfortable silence.
A/N: Hey guys! How's that for a fast update! Thanks for all the reviews and readers lately!
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