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Tug Of War by platform 9 3_4
Chapter 17 : Black and White
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 29


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Disclaimer: Nothing here belongs to me. It all belongs to JKR.




 

 You know, now that I look at it, life really isn't like a movie at all.

See, if life were like a movie, James and I would have ridden off into the sunset a long time ago.

We would have resolved our differences on New Year's Eve, and vowed to spend this year, and every year after that, in blissful happiness.

But, because life isn't like a movie, this did not happen.

At the time it seemed like this grand, poignant moment. Maybe we'd tell our friends one day about how we sat on the floor, in a deserted corridor, and been honest with one another for the first time in our lives. It was the start of a new beginning, a fresh start, turning over a new leaf.

But it was missing something. 

Something which I still can't put my finger on.

It was like this weird presence between us. Something growing, pushing us further apart so that we could see one another more clearly, but somehow we were more distant.

And it was confusing the fuck out of me.

I mean, come on, it was the perfect recipe for a perfect reunion. We'd both made our peace, said our apologies, even kissed quickly before the New Year. 

Something was holding me back, holding us back.

We were both edging around it, trying to avoid talking about the huge elephant in the room. Except neither of us knew where the elephant was, or how big, or how loud.

Am I making sense?

Probably not.

Point is, we both went home after the party. He took home a slightly inebriated Cameron, while I took home an extremely inebriated Rose.

As I pulled off her shoes for her limp feet, while she lay flat on top of the bed in our guest room, she mumbled, "Luke is nice."

And that was when I realised. Luke. I was supposed to meet him after dinner for the midnight countdown. Maybe that meant he wanted to kiss me. Maybe it didn't.

Point was I had completely ditched him.

I quickly scribbled a letter of apology and sent it to him that night, explaining that I'd just felt really ill after the meal, and maybe I'd see him at school. 

Albus had taken Cecily home. Ray had gone home with Cameron. Lexie was home. Scorpius was home. And here I was, at home, no more clued in about James' Potter's deal than before.

I decided to push it out of my mind, and worry later, once I got to school.

So, of course, I spent the entire night worrying about it.

And continued to worry about it until the next term.

Everyone arrived back, abuzz with gossip and details from the party. Apparently it had been a huge success. Apparently someone had snogged someone else at midnight. It was all very dramatic.

I can't help it. 

His words echoed around my head every time I caught a glimpse of him in the corridor, in the great hall, in the common room. Suddenly the boy was everywhere I went.

It's now been a week, and we haven't spoken face to face. I'm beginning to wonder if I made the whole night up in my head.

So now I think I'm avoiding him.

It's working out brilliantly. Really. I've realised that not confronting problems works out really well for people.

I know, I understand. It's only natural to be jealous of my genius.

"Stella! Pay attention! This is important!"

I snap my head up. No, I'm not in Transfiguration. 

Rose is staring at me from across the breakfast table, staring at me, eyes open manically.

"What?" I ask hazily.

She sighs, "The plan is to meet in the room of requirement at 9."

It's Rose's birthday tomorrow. Her 17th birthday, where she will come of age. She's taking the whole thing very seriously, organising a huge party in the room of requirement. There's even a dress code, and now everyone has to come wearing black and white.

"Right," I reply slowly.

"Ugh, why do I bother?" she sighs aggravatedly. 

Turning back to her parchment, upon which she seems to be making an extensive guest list, she purses her lips.

"So, I've got nearly every 5th, 6th and 7th year Gryffindor on here. Plus a few extras from the other houses. Is anyone bringing any guests?"

Al leans over, "Did you add-"

"Yes, Albus, Cecily is on the list," Rose snaps, sounding very uptight.

Clearly party planning is not her forte. Al shrugs, "Okay, well, I'll see you all later then."

He gets up from his seat, and walks over to where Cecily is sitting at the Ravenclaw table.

Fred leans over and says, "Make sure you invite Rebecca Vane from Hufflepuff."

"I'm not inviting girls just so you can get off with them Fred!" Rose says.

She sighs again and turns to another list spread out on the table before her, "So Fred and Cameron are going to honeydukes and the three broomsticks to buy all the necessities."

Fred taps his nose with his finger, to indicate that they'll also be picking up a secret delivery of molten fire whisky.

"Oh, and can someone tell James that he's responsible for making sure that you two have the cloak and stay unseen. I can't have any of this stuff getting traced back to me."

Fred nods, "Chill out Rosie, it'll be great."

"WOW, you're a genius, Fred," she snaps, "I need to chill out! Why didn't I think of that before?"

Lexie puts a hand gently on her arm, to calm her, "It's all fine Rose. We're all helping. Stella and I are setting up the decorations."

"Right," Rose nods, looking a little less flustered, "Ray, are you coming?"

Ray looks up at Rose, glances quickly at Albus and Cecily over at the Ravenclaw table, who are now snogging as though their lives depended on it, "No," she mutters, "Unfortunately, it clashes with something I've got going on"

Rose frowns, "What?"

"My happiness."

"Oh please," Rose rolls her eyes at Ray, "It's not a crime to have fun."

I eye Rose quickly and shake my head. She wasn't with Ray at the New Year's Eve Party. She didn't listen to Ray pour her heart and soul out, declaring her undying, painful love for Albus Potter.

Rose sighs again, but moves on, "Ok then. Lexie, are you inviting anyone?"

"No," Lexie says quietly.

"Alright," Rose makes a mark on the list, "Stella, I've invited Luke-"

"Oh, you didn't have to," I tell her, feeling flustered at the idea that Luke Corner and I will soon be in close quarters again.

"Well, I wanted to," she says, "I want a hot quidditch captain there. Not everything's about you, Stella!"

I fall silent. Maybe for the next twenty-four hours, it'll be better to avoid Rose at all costs.

Suddenly Cameron arrives, leaning over me.

"Rose, is it alright that I invited someone?"

We all stare, a little gobsmacked, at him. He's got a date? And he has the nerve to say so in front of Lexie?

Rose raises an eyebrow, "Who?"

"Just a date," he snaps.

"Ooh, mysterious," Rose growls slightly. Ray puts an arm on Lexie's protectively, glaring at her brother.

"So is it OK?" he asks.

Rose purses her lips, "Well, I suppose. Does she have any dietary requirements? What do imaginary women like to eat?"

Cameron rolls his eyes, "I'm getting your bloody fire whisky for you Rose, turn down the bitch meter."

Something is off about him. He's never usually this mean. In fact, he's never this mean.

Rose gapes at him, completely outraged. Even Fred frowns at Cameron suspiciously.

Ray glares at him, "Hey, Cam, how about you cool off?"

He ignores her and walks away, leaving us at the breakfast table, staring after him.

"Well," Rose says, reshuffling her lists, "He can bring his date. We'll find you a really hot date, Lex-"

"Thanks, but I'm fine," she says, although she doesn't really look it.

Fred looks eager, "I'll take you!"

Lexie looks kindly at him, "Thanks Fred. But, really, I'd much rather go alone."

"Fine, if you want to waste a chance to get with this," Fred gestures at himself, "Your loss, Clarke."

He's joking, and Lexie chuckles lightly.

"Is Scorpius coming?" I ask Rose.

She pauses, "Well, I asked him, but he didn't look very keen."

I frown. Scorpius had been acting strangely since the New Year's Eve party, looking like he wanted to be as far away from Rose as possible.

"Maybe he's just…having a bad day," I suggest.

"More like a bad week," she says, "I wonder if he's angry with me." Suddenly she gasps, "Oh, what is he's angry with me because he doesn't want to be friends."

I pause, "You think he doesn't want-"

"What if he wants to be more?" Rose says, almost eagerly.

"Do you…want to be more?"

Rose looks quickly down at her list, then all around her, "Er, I have to get to Charms." Gathering up her pieces of parchment, she stands up, "Make sure you also get some butter beer. I don't want everyone there to be raving drunk."

She walks off, keeping her head down.

"Touchy subject," Lexie says, watching the back of Rose's head bobbing up and down as she leaves the great hall, "Do you think Scorpius does want to go out with her?"

"Have you seen the way he stares at her?" Fred asks incredulously, "Like a bloody puppy. It's downright embarrassing."

I look around, and realise that everyone is already leaving, which must mean that class is going to start soon.

I get up from my seat, and wave goodbye to the others.

As soon as I take one step outside of the great hall, I bump straight into James.

So much for trying to avoid him.

"Oh, er, hi," he says, looking at me awkwardly.

"Hi," I reply, now extremely nervous.

The corners of James' mouth twitch upwards. I find it infectious, and it's a second before I smile brightly back at him.

We sort of stand there for a second, smiling weirdly at each other.

He rubs the back of his head, pushing his hair up on end with an attractiveness only he can pull off, "Can we, um, talk?"

"Now?" I ask.

"W-well, if you're going to be late for class-" he starts.

"No, I can be late. Just this once," I smile again, my mouth irresistibly turned up at the corners at the sight of him standing there, so awkward and grinning like some sort of weird maniac. A ridiculously attractive maniac.

"Okay," he says.

We walk together down the corridor, milling with people. It's all too crowded, and James pulls gently at my elbow, steering me into a more empty corridor.

Once we stop he keeps his fingers on my elbow for a few seconds longer.

Finally he lets go, and I turn to face him head on, "I guess we haven't really spoken since…"

He nods, "Yeah. Well, um, Cameron was pretty drunk. I wanted to make sure he got home."

"Sure," I nod back, "And I've been pretty busy with school."

"Me too," he says. "How are you?"

"Fine," I smile at him.

"Good."

"How are you?" I ask, trying to continue the conversation.

"Good."

More nodding, "Good."

We stand there in silence, uncomfortable and comfortable all at the same time.

It's weird. Suddenly, standing here, barely a foot away from him, all I want to do is throw my arms around his neck and kiss him, but something's holding me back.

"So, you're coming to Rose's thing, right?" he asks.

"She's my best friend," I nod, "She'd kill me if I wasn't there."

He chuckles, "Right, of course."

"You wanted to talk to me about something?" I prompt him, unable to stand another moment of silence.

"Oh, yeah. I just…wanted to check that everything is OK," he says vaguely.

I frown curiously at him, "Everything's all fine."

"I just thought, maybe, we…I don't know. We're OK?"

"Yeah," I reply, not really sure what he means by OK. But I'm pretty sure I want to snog his face off.

He rubs the back of his head awkwardly again, "Because I figured, maybe you want to invite someone to Rose's thing. And that's OK. I'm fine with it."

"You're fine with it?" I ask him. I feel my heart sink slightly.

"Yeah," I sense a slight shake in his voice, but he maintains the carefree smile. Maybe I only imagined the tremor.

"Well, I wasn't really planning on inviting anyone," I say honestly.

"I just…" he pauses again, clearly having difficulty finding his way around his words, "I felt like we left everything up in the air, after the party. It's probably just good that we don't, you know…"

"Sure," I reply, not really knowing at all.

He looks a little relieved, "OK then. Well, I've made you late enough for class already."

I nod, "Yeah. OK."

"OK."

"Bye then." I raise my hand in some kind of awkward salute.

He reciprocates the gesture, but it all results in a lot of really lame hand flapping, "Yeah. Bye. Oh, don't forget quidditch practice tonight at 7."

I continue to nod, "Right."

I walk away slowly, still frowning.

Am I the only one who's seriously confused right now?

 

*          *          *

 

I remain completely non-plussed throughout Charms, and still confused throughout Transfiguration, Herbology and Defence Against the Dark Arts.

Does he regret the New Year's Eve party? Is he rethinking everything? Surely not.

He says it's OK if I want to take someone to Rose's party. Does he mean Luke? And he's fine with it?

Honestly, I could really do with a Stella Wood-James Potter translation dictionary. I would really speed up our communication process.

Well, if he's fine with it…wait. Maybe he invited someone.

Maybe he invited someone, and he doesn't want me to feel bad. Maybe to him New Year's Eve meant nothing. Maybe I completely overanalysed the whole thing.

Merlin, this is pathetic.

Perhaps I should invite someone. Yeah, that might be a good idea. 

Or it could be the worst idea ever. It could just make everything so complicated.

Well, more complicated than it is already.

No, I won't invite anyone. Besides, the party is tomorrow so it's already too late.

Who can James possibly have invited to the party?

By the time Rose and I wonder down out of the Gryffindor common room to the quidditch pitch that evening, I am in desperate need of a change of subject, so I ask her something.

"So, is Scorpius still coming to your birthday?" I ask Rose, uneasily because it's still a touchy subject to say the least.

"Yes," Rose says, "He says he is. But honestly, I don't know what's going on with him. He doesn't seem very eager."

I pause, "Do you...like him?"

Rose swallows carefully, glancing around to make sure no one can hear as we make our way down the corridor, "I think I do. Yeah, I mean, of course. I like him."

"So why not ask him to go out with you?" I ask her.

She rolls her eyes at me, "Stella life has never been that simple."

I pause to contemplate this statement. Unfortunately it rings true for me on more than one level.

"Not all of us have guys who make it obvious they're into us," Rose sighs.

Luckily the sound of an argument comes to our ears, before I have time to answer her.

"For Merlin's sake Fred, leave me alone."

I'm struck by the sound of Eve's voice, calm but slightly agitated, from around the corner. Rose and I stop, but lean in to listen.

Fred's loud chuckle echoes around the empty corridor, "Look, I'm not asking you to marry me here. Come with me to Rose's party."

"Those girls don't want me there," is her sullen reply.

"Sure they do!" Even Fred's voice falters slightly.

She retorts, "Stella and Rose would probably throw me out the second I set foot through the door."

"That's why you'll need me as you protector," Fred's voice is happy and warm, eager to make her laugh, "Your knight in shining armour."

But Eve just sounds more and more exasperated, her voice now with a sharp edge, "Fred, I really don't want to go with you. What part of you doesn't get that?"

"You're so hot when you're angry."

"I'm tired of this, Fred," she says, "Next time you ask me out I might have to perform a bat bogey hex on you."

"Oh, Collins, I love it when you talk dirty to me."

There's another angry sigh, and the sound of footsteps, signalling that Eve has flounced off.

There's a few moments before Fred's footsteps make their way down the opposite end of the corridor.

Rose looks at me uneasily, "Well, that was-"

"-horrible," I finish for her. We both stand there in awkward silence, feeling ashamed of what we've just witnessed.

"Poor Freddie," she continues, her voice pitiful, "He finally finds one girl he likes, and she's not interested. Although I have to say his taste in women in questionable."

I look at my watch, "Sweet Merlin! We'd better go, Rose, or James will be about ready to eat us alive."

We rush down the corridor at as fast a pace as possible without being yelled at by one of the paintings for running in the corridors.

Eventually we make it out of the great hall, and onto the long green lawn, still covered in January frost. The wind is more bitter than usual and we both wrap our cloaks around us tighter.

"So that's two of my cousins with no date to my party," Rose sighs.

"Who else doesn't have a date?" I ask her curiously.

"James," she answers, "I had to try pretty hard to get him to talk, but finally he told me earlier today that he hasn't got anyone."

"He hasn't?" I ask, a little more interested.

"Yeah, weird, right?" she remarks, "Don't know why he doesn't just ask someone. I mean, this thing with you and him is over now, right?"

"Right," I murmur.

So he doesn't have a date. He wasn't just telling me that I could ask someone else so that he wouldn't feel guilty for bringing a date.

So why would he even suggest it? 

"I suppose he and Freddie will just have to be each other's wingmen," Rose shrugs, as we draw closer to the quidditch stadium.

"I suppose," I reply, my voice dropping to an even quieter whisper.

By now we're on the pitch and James, fully dressed in scarlett quidditch robes, is waiting for us. He looks more than a little annoyed.

"It's 7.02," he says.

"Sorr-ee," Rose says, raising her hands in surrender, "Fred's not here either."

"Fred has detention," James snaps, "What's your excuse?"

"James, you need to chill out," Rose says, "Just calm the OCD for a minute, and realise we won't lose the match to Hufflepuff because Stella and I were a few minutes late."

He rolls his eyes at her, "Just go and get changed."

"Aye Aye Captain," she gives him a mock salute, to which he rolls his eyes again.

She skips off to the girls' changing rooms, but I find myself hanging back.

James is already fiddling with the padlock on the chest that contains the balls for quidditch.

I clear my throat awkwardly, "Um, I was just talking to, um, Rose. And, well, she said-"

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Cameron and Archer standing close by. James glances at them before looking at me.

"Wood, you're already late for practice," he reminds me sharply, "Whatever you have to say, it can wait."

I roll my eyes at him. Typical hot and cold. Why did I think it would be any different?

"Fine," I snap, flouncing off to the changing rooms.

Inside Rose is pulling on her robes.

"Ugh," I mutter, "Your cousin is such a-"

"Control-freak?" she finishes the sentence for me, "Dictatorial psycho? Autocratic jerk?"

"Any would fit," I admit.

Suddenly theres a quiet, but very distinct, sound of muffled crying.

Rose and I glance at one another, and follow the sound curiously. 

In the bathroom stalls, only one of them is shut. And the sound of crying is coming very distinctly from inside.

"Um, Rox?" Rose asks, "Are you OK?"

"Peachy," the voice chokes back, before resuming it's long wailing noise.

"Seriously, what's wrong?" Rose asks, leaning in to the door, "Come on Rox, talk to us."

The stall door opens slowly, to reveal a tear-stained and blubbering Roxanne Weasley.

Rose leans in to her and draws an arm around her shoulders, "Honey! What's wrong?"

We lead her into the main changing room, and sit her down on the bench.

"I-It's Archer," Rox cries, "Ev-everything's such a mess!"

"Archer…" I pause, trying to remember.

Then it hits me. Of course, Roxanne and Archer were dating, before Fred went all psycho protective older brother during the quidditch match. And then…James banned relationships between players.

"Oh god," Rose sighs, stroking Roxanne's arm, "Tell me all about it."

"W-well," Roxanne says, and her shaking shoulders seem to calm down a bit, "James said we couldn't be on the team if we were seeing one another, because of stupid Fred and his stupid macho…boy idiocy. A-and we t-t-talked about one of us maybe quitting the team. But it wasn't fair to whoever had to q-quit. So we talked about both quitting together. But then he said he didn't want to. And then we got into this h-huge fight. It was horrible!"

"It's OK," Rose says, "Sometimes couples fight."

"But we're not even a couple any more!" Roxanne cries, "I said that if he valued the stupid team over being with me, then we weren't right for each other. And he said that maybe we weren't."

"Well then, who needs him?" Rose says defiantly, "If he thinks some stupid game is better than you then he doesn't know what he's missing. He's not worth it."

She nods sadly, "We would have been fine if James hadn't put this stupid rule in place."

"You know what?" Rose pauses, "Yes, James is a dick for making that rule. But I think he actually did you a favour. It showed you Archer's true colours, didn't it?"

"It pushed him over the edge!" Roxanne cries, "Why should we have to break up just because my stupid older brother says so? And why does James think he can just mess with our personal lives like this?"

Unfortunately, Rose doesn't have a reply to this.

I sit there, growing more and more uncomfortable by the second. James told me to invite someone else because I'm on the team now. We're not allowed anymore.

And all because of his own stupid rule.

Suddenly there's a loud banging on the changing room doors, and the sound of Cameron's voice carries through the door, "Girls! Our captain, charming as ever, has asked me to pass on a message. If you don't get your lazy, complacent arses out here within the next minute, it'll be ten laps around the pitch."

"Shit," Rose says, grabbing the rest of her robes and pulling on her boots, "Coming!"

I realise that I'm still dressed in my cloak and school uniform, and quickly begin to change.

Rose and Roxanne leave the changing room, Roxanne wiping away her tears as best she can.

"Better hurry up, Stella," Rose calls, "James likes to follow through with his threats."

That much I remember. Two months away from the team couldn't possibly have wiped away the memories.

I pull on my robes, and then the boots. I look around for my keeper gloves. Where the bloody hell are they? Shit, James is going to eat me alive. 

Finally I find them wedged underneath a bench, between an extra pair of boots, and a pile of unwanted knee pads.

Pulling them on, I rush outside.

Oh god, it's been way over a minute. I'm going to have to run.

I rush over to the group, "I'm sorry! I couldn't find my gloves."

James has a slightly cold expression on his face, which appears to be masking something else entirely. I feel slightly sick, as it all sinks in.

I'm on the team. I should be happy about that, no, ecstatic. But now there's a rule which stops us from ever acting on our feelings. If he even has any of those.

James clears his throat awkwardly, and I prepare for my sentence.

"It's fine. Just be don't be late next time."

There's a brief moment of silence, in which everyone stares at him.

I'm finding it hard not to gape. No slow painful death? No lap after lap of hell?

Rose looks from him to me, a look of disbelief on her face.

Worse is Roxanne, who is glaring at James with such a fierce passion, I wonder if she's about to claw his eyes out.

But before anyone can ask where he got his happy pills from, James says gruffly, "Right then, our game with Hufflepuff is coming up sooner than I would like. Georgia Deely has got a great team this year, and she's been trying a lot of new tactics. We need to show the same kind of innovation. Let's not waste any more time."

We all swing our legs over our brooms.

"Oh, and welcome back to the team, Wood," James says, not even looking me in the eye as he says it.

And with that, he kicks off.

 

*           *           *

 

"Um, would you mind explaining to me what the hell was that?"

After a long, hard practice, everyone had gotten changed and walked back up to the castle. It' getting dark fast, but I wait for James to finish packing up the brooms, before ambushing him on his way out of the pitch.

He looks straight at me then, his gaze a mixture of a least five different emotions, not to mention fifty different thoughts.

He looks down again and pockets the keys to the broom shed. "What are you talking about?"

"This!" I cry "You!"

He continues to avoid my gaze, "You'll have to narrow it down for-"

"Cut the crap, please," I snap, "You know exactly what I mean. This morning, you're all nice. Then when I arrive here you act like I'm the devil incarnate for showing up a few minutes late. Then you let me off in front of the entire team. And then you ignore me for the entire practice. And not to mention that you've obviously forgotten all about what happened on New Years Eve."

He looks quickly at me then, slightly shameful, "I haven't forgotten."

"It sure seems like you have," I snap.

"How could I?" he snaps back at me, "And how can I forget about this stupid, bloody rule that stops me from…" he breaks off, but I know exactly what he means.

"Then why do you act like you hate me, and then like you don't the next?"

"I don't know, alright?" he says, slightly frustrated, "You're not the most readable person either, you know."

"Oh, yeah r-"

"You're impossible!" he insists, "I mean, you ignored me. You avoided me. You've been avoiding me all week. Don't think I haven't noticed!"

I fall silent then, because he's right. I've been avoiding him like the plague.

He continues, running a hand through his hair, "I figured that was just you saying you weren't interested, but then you told me you weren't inviting anyone to Rose's party!"

I mutter, "I thought you were only asking me because you'd invited someone and you didn't want me to feel bad."

He narrows his eyelids, "Why would I invite someone?"

I look down at the ground. "I don't know, maybe you weren't-"

"What? Wasn't what?" he presses on.

I look back at him, and suddenly find him much closer than before. Much too close for comfort. So close that if I leaned in I'd be kissing him. I can already feel the warmth radiating off his face.

"I-" I find myself at a loss for words, "I mean, I-"

Suddenly James is looking over my shoulder, before taking a hurried step back from me.

"Did you forget something?" he asks the person over my shoulder.

I swivel around to look at the intruder, and I see Roxanne walking towards us.

The expression on her face is far too suspicious.

"I left my scarf in the changing room," she says slowly.

She looks back and forth, from me to James, and back again.

"Well, um, thanks for the tip about the quaffle…thing," I say to James.

Pathetic. 

Seriously, pathetic. Who's going to believe that?

James takes another step back, his whole manner awkward and tense, "Er…I mean, um, you're welcome."

Before I can make this situation any worse, I turn on my heel and make my way up to the castle.

 

*            *             *

 

At about 8 o'clock the following evening, Rose has gone from sympathetic, caring friend to potentially homicidal maniac.

Yes, in twelve hours, things move quickly.

"I bloody told Cameron to get six litres of butter beer, not eight! Is he a stupid, or just a plain imbecile? Now everyone's going to think I'm the lamest person on earth for having too much non-alcoholic drink! MY LIFE WILL BE OVER!"

"Honestly, this mascara won't bloody go on! ARE YOU A MASCARA OR ARE YOU A TUBE OF BLACK GLUE DESIGNED TO ANNOY ME AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE?"

"I CAN'T FIND MY SHOES! MY SHOES! SERIOUSLY, SOMEONE'S TAKEN THEM! WHO TOOK MY SHOES? SO HELP ME MERLIN I WILL STRANGLE YOU!"

Instead of focussing on getting ready ourselves, Lexie and I are there to find her shoes, lend her mascara, and basically fix every other little problem that might arise.

And believe me, there are a lot.

But, somehow, things begin to straighten themselves out. We manage to get Rose into her outfit, a sleek black cocktail dress with a contrasting white hem, and strappy white stilettos. 

"I look like a mess," Rose whines as she looks in the mirror.

"Hush," Lexie rolls her eyes, "You look drop dead gorgeous."

Rose starts to shake slightly, her bottom lip trembling.

"Everything's going to be great," I put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Suddenly she whips around and stares at us, "Why aren't you two dressed yet? The party's in fifteen minutes, what were you thinking?"

Lexie and I both glance at each other. Lexie rolls her eyes again but we both get on with it anyway.

Lexie puts on a long sleeved black dress, and black flat shoes. Clearly tonight she's going for anonymity. Luckily, Rose doesn't seem to mind.

I put on my white lace dress that I bought for my cousin's christening, with suede black heels.

After looking in the mirror, I'm actually pleased with my appearance. Although half way through the night my feet are probably going to be throbbing like mad.

Ray looks up from her book, lying sprawled on the bed, "You look nice."

"Um…thanks," I reply, "You sure you don't want-"

"I'm sure," she says quickly.

Just then, there's a knock at the door.

Lexie answers it, and we're all surprised to see Fred in the doorway, wearing the cheesiest white suit I've ever seen in my life. 

"Hi ladies!" he says cheerfully.

Rose looks over from where she's sitting at her dressing table, and shouts, "Fred, the eighties called. They want their embarrassing prom night back."

Fred rolls his eyes, "Rose, the nineties called. They want their incredibly lame joke back."

"How about you get better comebacks?"

"How about you get a better face?"

"OK," Lexie intervenes, forever the peace-maker, "Let's not argue. Seriously though, Fred, what are you wearing?"

Fred smirks at her, "Please, I know you all want a piece of this," to which we all scoff loudly. Nevertheless he continues unashamed, "I'm here to offer an invitation."

We all look at him blankly, and he continues, "Ray?"

Ray looks up from her book, clearly confused, "What?"

He grins at her, "You're a sight for sore eyes, even when you're in your pyjamas reading a book on the Goblin uprising."

She rolls her eyes, "Seriously, Fred?"

"Seriously," he laughs, "Look. I'm hot. You're hot. I don't have a date. You don't have a date. I'm beginning to sense a pattern here."

"I'm not going," she corrects him.

"And I can't for the life of me figure out why," he says, walking into the dormitory, "Albus is going with that girlfriend of his. You shouldn't be lying here feeling sorry for yourself. You should be on the dance floor. With a really hot date. Like me, for instance."

"You really think I want to make Albus jealous?" Ray raises her eyebrows.

"That's exactly what I think," Fred grins, "And I want a hot partner. And since Lexie here declined my generous offer, I'm a free agent. Now, are you game?"

She stares blankly at him for moment.

Then, "OK."

We all simultaneously gape at her. Fred grins.

But before any of us can register Ray looks around at each of us, her face expressionless, "Anyone got a black dress?"

*       *       *

 

"I knew I was right to ask you," Fred grins.

Ray steps down the stairs, wearing a very un-Ray like dress.

It's tight, and black, and short. And she's got a pair of extremely high black heels on. On anyone else it would scream 'I'm here to get drunk and make some stupid decisions', but on Ray it says 'This is what you get when you start dating Ravenclaw girls instead of me.'

She doesn't smile, but it's obvious that she's pleased with herself, "It's not a date."

He rolls his eyes, "Love, there's no way your brother would let me anywhere near you, if he thought for a second I wanted to shag you."

"Good," she nods, "Let's go then."

They link arms, and Rose, Lexie and I follow behind them.

We leave the common room, and make our way towards the seventh floor corridor.

Outside the room on requirement, there's already a small crowd of people.

When they see Rose, people cheer. She blushes, but looks extremely happy at all of the attention.

Inside, Rose gapes at the room. There's already a lot of people here. Some are on the black and white checkered dance floor, while others are helping themselves to the fire whisky and butter beer at the side tables. They're covered in black table cloths with white centrepieces, and absolutely covered with food and drink.

Above there are long black and white streamers hanging loosely from the ceiling, with balloons floating above in their hundreds.

"Hope you like it," Lexie grins at her, "Stella and I did the decorations."

Rose is speechless. She throws her arms around both of us, "You are the two greatest friends anyone could have," she says reverently.

"Now let's get you a drink," I grin, leading her over towards the table.

At the table I fetch a glass of fire whisky and pass it to her.

As I turn to hand it to her, I see that James is there. He's dressed in a crisp white button down shirt and black dress trousers. He even has a black tie on.

And it's bloody attractive.

"Happy Birthday, Rosie," he grins, handing her a small box wrapped in gold wrapping paper.

She grabs it eagerly and rips off the paper without a second thought. Inside is a small black jewellery box. Rose snaps it open, gazes at it for a second, then squeals and throws her arms around James' neck.

I glance at the box. Inside is a thin, delicate silver necklace. The pendant is in the shape of a crown, and if you look closely enough the metal has been charmed to flash 'Weasley is our queen' in minuscule letters.

It's a really thoughtful gift. I think back to the gift which I got Rose, which was some rose scented perfume. It doesn't seem as personal anymore.

"Glad you like it!" James grins at her.

"Well it certainly makes up for the hell you put us through yesterday," Rose smirks.

"And you'll be a better player because of it," he reminds her. "Remember, Hufflepuff beat Ravenclaw by fifty points!"

"And we beat Slytherin by sixty," Rose reminds him, "I'm bored of quidditch talk. I want to dance."

She grabs Lexie by the wrist and drags her off towards the dance floor.

Leaving me alone with James at the drinks table. Great.

We both stand there a bit awkwardly, not looking at one another.

"Having a good time?" he asks.

"Well, I just got here," I reply.

"Oh, right. Yeah."

Stupid stupid stupid. Why did I have to say that? It's hardly inviting nice conversation is it?

But somehow it doesn't seem to faze him.

"We didn't get to finish our conversation yesterday," he says, and something in his voice is strained. It's not a light question. In fact, his face is deeply serious. I can tell this is not the time for sarcasm.

I open my mouth but find myself unable to say anything.

"I wanted to say something," he mutters in a low voice, "But then we were interrupted."

I look sharply at him for a second, "What did you want to say?"

He opens his mouth to speak.

"Hey! I finally found you!"

We both break each other's gaze to look at whoever spoke.

Oh, god.

It's Luke. He's smiling broadly at me, and doesn't even bother to register that James is even there.

"L-luke!" I exclaim awkwardly, "You're here."

"Of course I am!" he grins, "Rose invited me. It sounded fun."

Only then does he notice James. He glances at him.

"Oh, hey Potter."

"Hey, Corner," James replies. His voice isn't hostile. It isn't even unfriendly. But there's no warmth there.

"Er, good game you had against Slytherin," Luke says, "But I bet you must be glad to have this one back on your team."

James nods quickly, "Excuse me."

He grabs a glass of fire whisky from the table, and walks off with it, without looking back. Part of me wants to call out to him, tell him that I want to hear what he wanted to say. But it's too late. He's already gone, barely visible amongst the crowd of people.

"He was never much of a people person," Luke says, frowning after him. 

"You have no idea," I reply.

"Shall I get you a drink?" he asks, "Do you want butter beer? Or fire whisky?"

"Firewhisky," I reply almost immediately, "I'm in the mood."

"Ok then," he says, moving towards the table with the drinks. "So how is your friend Ray doing? She was pretty upset at the New Years Eve party."

I glance over at Ray and Fred, who are clinking their glasses of fire whisky together, before downing them in one sip.

"She's doing OK," I reply.

"Is she over that guy yet?" he asks, "The one she liked so much?"

I pause, "I'm not sure."

He hands me my drink. I take a tentative sip, which burns my entire throat, until I feel like it might be raw. I cough slightly.

"Maybe you should have some butter beer instead," he suggests.

"No, I'm fine," I say.

Everything is so complicated. James wants to talk. But about what? About how we can't ever really go anywhere, because of the rule he himself put in place? 

And now I'm here with Luke. Who is good-looking, and interesting, and nice.

He's so nice.

And yet, he's not James.

I take a deep breath, before downing the entire shot of fire whisky in one go.

"Steady on there," Luke laughs, "You alright?"

"Fine," I reply, although I'm pretty sure I'm seeing stars,"Look. There's something I have to do. I'm sorry."

"Oh, er," he looks extremely puzzled, "OK."

I grab the bottle of fire whisky in a fit of madness and pour it's contents into my glass.

"Have a fun night," I say to him, taking a long drink from the glass.

He stares after me as I push away through the crowd.

Where is he? He must be around here somewhere. He can't have gone far.

I continue drinking the fire whisky as I go, taking bigger and bigger doses. I feel like I need the courage. I need to talk to James properly. None of the fear, the expectations. None of that painful awkwardness.

I suddenly realise I'm going around in circles. Seriously where is he? He's gone. Disappeared.

Rose is there, all of sudden, looking at me urgently.

"Have you seen Scorpius?" she asks me.

"No!" I cry.

"Jeez, not so loud!"

"Sorry!"

She looks down at the glass in my hand, "Well," she grins, looking impressed, "You didn't waste any time, did you?"

"Why are you looking for Scorpius?" I ask her, still in a much louder voice than my regular one.

"I don't know," she says, "I just…I want…I want to go out with him OK? I want all of it. I want him. Maybe one day I'll want to get married and have his babies! OK? Is that what you wanted to hear?"

I find myself laughing hysterically, chanting, "Scorpius and Rose, sitting in a tree, K-I-"

"What are you, five?" she hisses, "Keep your voice down. You don't usually drink much, do you?"

"No," I giggle.

"Well, go easy, won't you?" she says, "I can't have my best friend completely shit-faced the whole night."

"No problemo," I grin, "Last glass, I promise."

*      *     *

I lied. It definitely wasn't my last glass.

After Rose had run off to find Scorpius, I helped myself to some more fire whisky, and then some special drink that I didn't know the name of, but it tasted like disinfectant and made my throat burn. 

And it was fantastic.

I'd almost forgotten about James entirely. I would look around for him, run after random tall, dark haired blokes who looked vaguely like him, shouting things like "HEY! STOP RUNNING AWAY FROM ME!"

When I'm not occupied by James, I'm doing some pretty stupid shit.

I'm giggling hysterically to anyone who wanted to talk, and trying to sing (off key) to songs that I don't even know the words to, and probably aren't even playing.

I'm pretty sure at one point I tried to do a cartwheel in high heels.

Rose comes up to me again, frowning, "Honestly Stella. How much have you drunk now?"

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROSIE! I LOVE YOU!" I grin at her, throwing my arms around her neck.

Everything seems wild and happy. My feet are aching and yet I can barely feel them. Everything is dizzy and distant, and I feel incredibly giddy. 

"Er, thanks," she says, "So you decided to really go for it, didn't you?"

"Where's James?" I ask her suddenly, very loudly.

"I think I saw him talking to Cameron at one point," Rose says, "Why are you looking for him?"

"To tell him I love him," I giggle hysterically again.

Her face drops, "Oh god, Stella, no."

"I'M KIDDING!" I shriek at her.

"Oh," she looks relieved, "Thank god."

"Did you find Scorpius?" I ask her.

"No," she frowns, "I wonder if he's even here."

She's still frowning when Albus and Cecily rush over to join us, and Albus grins at her, "Turn that frown upside down, Rosie! It's your birthday!"

"Yeah yeah," she mutters, "Have either of you seen Scorpius?"

"No," they both shake their heads, "We just got here."

"He said he was coming though," Albus adds hopefully.

Rose looks on edge and impatient, tapping her foot on the floor while her head moves back and forth as she scrutinises the crowds.

"Do you want me to help you look for him?" I ask her loudly.

She shakes her head, "No, I'm fine, thanks Stella. Besides, gravity is not really your friend right now, is it?"

"Oh man, Stella how drunk are you?" Albus asks, grinning at me.

"Hey, shut up! I'm not drunk!" I cry indignantly.

And I chose this precise moment to trip over air and crash straight into him.

Albus laughs, standing me upright again, "Maybe you've had enough."

"Maybe you should shut up," I snap back oh-so-wittily.

Cecily glances over her shoulder, and says to Rose, "Oh, is that him over there?"

We look to where she's pointing, and there, unmistakably, is Scorpius.

Rose swallows, then grabs a glass of fire whisky, and downs it in five seconds flat.

"Are you going?" I ask eagerly.

"Yes," she says.

"You OK?" I ask her.

"Fine," she replies.

Rose nods, then shakes her head, then nods again, her head moving in so many directions she looks like she's having a fit. She straightens up, flattens her dress with her hands, and then walks purposefully towards the other side of the room.

We all watch her go. Albus looks at me eagerly, "Is she asking him?"

I nod, my jaw set. I don't have a good feeling about this. But maybe that's just the alcohol talking.

Suddenly Albus' attention is drawn away from Rose. His gaze darkens so quickly it's like turning off a light switch.

I glance around. Fred, his arm around Ray's waist, is getting more drinks from the table next to ours.

"Hey guys," he says, spotting us and coming over, much to Al's discomfort. Al's eyes travel up and down Ray, and in that dress, who can blame him?

"Hi," Cecily smiles, "I didn't know you two were here together!"

Ray shrugs, and in typical Ray fashion, she says shortly, "Well, we are."

I sneak a glance at Albus, who isn't even trying to disguise his horror. Ray flips her hair over her shoulder, and leans a little closer into Fred. Fred pinches her waist, and Albus makes an audible noise as he swallows, unable to speak.

"Something caught in your throat, Al?" Fred asks, looking concerned.

"N-nothing," Al chokes out, "Bit of fire whisky went down the wrong way, that's all."

Ray ignores him, and turns to Fred, "I think we should dance."

"You read my mind, love," Fred grins at her. They walk over towards the dance floor, Albus' eyes following their every step.

"Isn't that nice?" Cecily grins at me.

"I can't believe she's here with that asshole," Albus hisses, his anger spilling out.

"Fred?" Cecily frowns, "He seems so nice!"

"He's a bloody womaniser!" Albus is close to shouting now, "He throws away women like kleenex. And he looks bloody ridiculous in that suit. The fact that Ray would even - she doesn't even date!"

"But, maybe she and Fred like each other," Cecily says, more and more baffled at the sight of Albus' visible anger boiling and bubbling over.

He pulls at his tie knot, loosening his collar forcefully, "You know what? I need air."

He doesn't invite Cecily to come with him, instead he storms off towards the door.

Cecily looks at me curiously, "Do he and Fred not get on?"

"Um…" I wonder what to tell her, before opting for a vague, "I'm not really sure."

"He seems really angry," she looks concerned, "Maybe I should follow him."

She doesn't wait for my opinion. Instead she runs after Albus.

I glance around, looking for Rose. She's reached Scorpius now.

I inch closer. They're speaking in low voices, and I can't hear them at all over the music.

Rose has a sort of sweet, eager smile on her face.

Oh, this is so great. Someday I'll be there telling their kids how their parents finally got together. And they'll call me Aunt Stella. And I will be a kickass aunt. I'll let them eat ice-cream and watch cartoons, whenever their parents tell them they can't. We'll go the fucking playground. It'll be awesome.

Getting ahead of myself here.

As Rose speaks, her mouth moves quicker and quicker, clearly trying to get out as much as she can as fast as possible. Scorpius seems to go through a few undistinguishable emotions.

Suddenly a wide grin splits across his face.

This is so perfect. So romantic. So-

"Are you kidding me?" he exclaims.

He says it so loudly that some people turn to look. I stare at him. What is he on about?

He laughs, his voice full of some kind of cruel mirth.

Of all the things Scorpius would have said, I was not expecting that.

The smile on Rose's face fades, as Scorpius continues to laugh.

"Why is this funny?" she asks him, frowning.

"Because it is!" He says, "Let's look at this objectively, shall we? I ask you out a year ago. You tell me to die in a hole. Then you change your mind. But it's too late, because you already rejected me. Then you hate my guts for a few months. I hate myself for ruining it. I try to make it better. I try to tell you how much I care, how sorry I am, I even tell you I loved you, but you don't want to hear it. Then you change your mind. In Hogsmede you decide that you want to snog me. So you do. Then you change your mind again, and then you come up with your little plan, to pretend like we never even knew each other."

Rose's face is growing more and more horrified. More and more hurt. More and more painful to watch.

People are turning to look now, watching this embarrassing spectacle unfold before their eyes.

"Then," Scorpius continues, "You avoid me, pretend like you don't know me, your little plan is working perfectly. But then I get injured, and I end up in the hospital wing. And you change your mind…again. You try to be friends with me. You run around trying to make me feel better. And now you've decided you want to go out with me. You've actually decided to show that you like me in public. How good of you!"

"Scorpius-" Rose begins, "I didn't-"

"I'm done Rose," he snaps, "I thought this might work out. I thought you were trying to be friends. I though you were trying to make up for the hell you've put me through! But no, you've finally decided to just forget it all. How do I know that tomorrow you won't turn around and ask me to pretend that we don't know each other? That you might change your mind? You've been doing an awful lot of that lately."

There are tears in Rose's eyes. But Scorpius' are cold and hard.

"Goodbye, Rose," he says.

He pushes past her, through the crowd and out of the room of requirement.

Rose is standing there, frozen to the floor. Her face is a mixture of horror and shock.

People are still watching her awkwardly, and a sort of painful silence seems to have fallen around us.

I rush to her, but I notice that I'm not the only one.

James growls, "Do you want me to beat him up Rosie?" he asks, "I'll kick that pompous little shit from here until-"

"No," Rose says, her voice quiet, "He's right."

"How dare he laugh at you like that?" I cry, "He's not the victim here, you are! It's your birthday! How can he say that to you?"

She shrugs, laughing tiredly, "I told him to die in a hole when he asked me the first time."

James frowns, "You were completely allowed to reject that son of a-"

"It's fine, James, really," she grins, and it's a weird, manic grin, "Now, which of you is about to get me a drink?"

I stare at her, "Are you sure?"

"What, so you can both be drunk at my party, but I can't?" she laughs.

I look at James, and I realise in one glance that I'm not the only one who's had too much to drink.

He's loosened his tie, and he looks slightly dizzy, his hair askew and his brown eyes burning.

Rose throws an arm around both our necka, "Let's get shitfaced."

 

*         *           *

 

Not long after Rose is standing on one of the drinks tables, surrounded by a huge crowd who are cheering and chanting "WEASLEY IS OUR QUEEN!"

Rose takes a massive swig from her fire whisky bottle, and begins to roar out the lyrics to the song that the DJ is playing. Everyone, already completely drunk, roars along with her.

"I LOVE YOU ALL!" She screams at the top of her lungs, to which the crowd yells back enthusiastically.

Rose then crowd dives right into the middle of the throng, her arms spread wide like an eagle. Or rather a very clumsy penguin.

Luckily the crowd catches her, but somehow I find myself edged out, watching her from the sidelines.

Suddenly I find James is beside me. He watches Rose, "Well, she seems OK now, doesn't she?"

"Yeah," I laugh.

The alcohol has worn off somewhat, but I can still feel it running through my bloodstream. I'm still way too happy to see him.

"So, shouldn't you be off with Corner by now?" he asks.

"No," I reply, "We're not together."

"But he wants to be," he says, "I can tell."

"Well I don't want to be," I reply.

"You sure about that?" he asks, raising an eyebrow at me.

Suddenly I was sick of all this talking. All this meandering around what was eventually going to happen, whether we liked it or not.

But not here. Here it was too hot, too crowded. Too many people.

I begin walking towards the exit, my whole body trembling slightly. I hear his footsteps behind mine, and by the time I've reached the door he's already caught up with me.

We stop for a second, swapping side glances, suddenly smiling giddily at one another.

Outside there are still a few people milling around, obviously in need of cooler air.

We walk down the corridor in unison, our paces growing quicker and quicker, more urgent.

"Where are we going?" he whispers to me, laughing for no reason at all.

"I don't know, I was following you!"

We both laugh at that, but we still keep power walking down the corridor, away from all the people.

At this point we're almost running, and I stumble slightly.

He lunges out to catch me, but instead I collide with the wall.

"Oh my god, are you OK?" he laughs.

I answer by laughing hysterically.

I'm not sure why I'm laughing. It's all so funny, and confusing, and I don't care about any of it. I lean down and pull off my high heels, gathering them in one hand, before running off down the corridor at top speed.

He chases after me, both of us laughing and laughing. It's all a blur of stone and rock and hard ground under my bare feet.

We're nearing a corner now, and I slow down.

He catches up with me, grinning, "Good practice for when you're late and you have to run laps."

I roll my eyes at him as we round the corner, giddy and breathless, "Shut up."

His eyes are burning, his lips pulled into a broad smile, his whole body orientated towards me. 

As if by pure instinct, his mouth covers mine. We stumble backwards together in the darkness, half laughing, half kissing, before my back is finally pressed against the opposite wall.

He presses his lips more firmly to mine, deepening the kiss.

Everything is warm, and burning, and on fire. This is nothing like New Years Eve. It was a mess. A drunk, fiery, urgent mess.

And I only want more. I'm dizzy with it. In that instant there is no doubt in my mind what I want, or who I want.

His hands wrap themselves firmly around my waist, pulling me in closer. His mouth is hungry, almost desperate, but so is mine. Every second seems to build frantically, as we melt into one another, and time almost stops.

Suddenly he pulls away, letting go of everything. He takes a step backwards. I stare at him, feeling like I've been dropped into the deep end of a swimming pool without knowing how to swim.

"Shit," he mutters, "Shit. Shit. Shit."

I don't say anything. I know exactly what's going through his head because it's exactly what's going through mine. 

We shouldn't be doing this. It's stupid, and we'll regret it.

He paces back and forth, running his hand through his hair, looking at the ground. 

He continues to mutter, "Shit." Over and over again.

I push myself off the wall and grab his arm, bringing him around to face me.

"Stop saying that," I say firmly.

"This isn't what was supposed to happen," he sighs angrily, refusing to look me in the eye, "I was supposed to stop. We're supposed to stop."

"We have," I tell him.

He looks at me then, our eyes locking together.

"Okay, I really need to say something now," he says, but he doesn't move away from me.

"Just say it," I murmur, although his tone doesn't imply anything good.

"I-I'm sorry," he says, "I let this go on. It's not fair to you. Everything with this rule is so fucking stupid. And it's all my fault. But I can't go back on it now. And no one can find out. I'm already a hypocrite. The team can't know."

"I know," I reply, "I know. I know."

"This isn't good," he says, gesturing to the air between us, "Whatever this is. It's not fair to the team. It's not fair to me. It isn't fair to you."

I pause, staring up at him, unable to mask my disappointment, "OK. So what do you want to do?"

"I think we should…go back to just being…what we were before," he says slowly.

"If that's what you want," I reply carefully, my voice barely a whisper.

He nods, "Well, let's face it, things were simpler then."

He even manages a light chuckle. I nod in agreement, chuckling slightly too, although all I'm feeling is bitterness, "I guess."

He shrugs slightly, "It wouldn't be so awkward all the time. It would take the pressure off, you know?"

"Yeah," I nod, "You're right."

I feel his fingertips still on my arm. Somehow, without either of us noticing, he has maintained contact. Where our skin touches it burns hot and bright. Everywhere aches just to touch him again. 

Everything is heightened. The smell of him, the feel of him. It's all so alive. So present.

He's stopped breathing, noticing the feel of my arm under his fingertips. And yet he doesn't move. He stays frozen on the spot, staring at me.

"So," I pause, my voice strained and hoarse, "It's all over."

"I just think it's for the best you know? I mean the team is…Fuck it."

Then, I don't even know how it happens, but my back is now pressed against the wall, and his mouth is on mine again. This time it's even more desperate, even hungrier.

I've never wanted someone so much. All of the rules, the problems, have been turned to mush by the fact that his tongue is in my mouth, and his hands are in my hair. Everything is eager and desperate, and full of need.

He pulls away from just a second, "Seriously though, the team-"

I recapture his lips with mine and wrap my arms around his neck, drawing his face closer. He seems thankful for the interruption, and presses his lips harder against mine.

After that it all blurs into a messy confusion of tongue and skin. Grappling at each other, wrapping our hands around one another as tight as we can.

And then I realise. This is what I was missing. After New Years Eve I had a funny feeling, that wouldn't leave me alone. We'd resolved our differences, but it wasn't enough for me. 

This. This was what I wanted.

"I knew it!"

A loud exclamation makes it's way into our ears, and we force ourselves unwillingly apart.

And to our horror, there is Roxanne, her face completely appalled.

James takes a step towards her, looking desperate, "No, Rox, I swear-"

"You split me and Archer up, and the whole time you're getting off with her!" She cries at him. "You're a hypocrite!"

I try to explain, "It's not what it looks-"

"Please explain to me how having your tongues down each others throats could be anything other than what it looks like!" she replies fiercely.

"We aren't dating!" James says desperately, "I swear, we were just-"

She holds up a hand to stop him, "Forget it, James. I see how it is."

She spins around on her heel and flounces off. James and I both try to run after her.

"Please, Rox, just listen-"

"I don't want to hear it!"

"We're sorry!"

"It's too late for that-"

And somehow we're back in a group of people, and Roxanne is gone, melted into the crowd.

We both look around desperately, trying to see where she went through the milling group of people, but she's nowhere to be found.

"Shit!" James cries, looking around for her in every direction, "Where did she go?"

I glance through the crowd, back and forth. "I don't know."

"Oh fuck, none of them are ever going to forgive me," he mutters.

"Of course they will," I tell him gently, although privately I'm terrified. Technically, James isn't the only one who broke the rules.

Suddenly someone appears at my side.

"Stella?"

I look and to my surprise, and slight horror, I see Scorpius, looking manic.

"Scorpius? What are you-"

I barely have time to finish the sentence before James has grabbed Scorpius roughly by the shirt and shoved him into the opposite wall. I let out a cry of shock, and rush forward to stop James from doing any further damage.

Scorpius gasps, all the wind knocked out of him in one blow.

"You've got a lot of nerve showing up here, Malfoy," James growls, "After what you said to Rose."

Scorpius can only wheeze in reply, "I…came back….really….stupid…sorry."

James grabs him by the collar and pulls him up straighter, "Didn't catch that."

I put my hand on James' arm, "Let him talk, won't you?"

James glances quickly at me, before lowering his arm begrudgingly. 

Scorpius takes a moment to catch his breath, "I was stupid to say that stuff. I was angry."

"You're not fit to kiss the ground she walks on," James says bitterly, "Now get out of here before you ruin her night any more than you already have."

 "I want to make it right," he says, "I want to be with her."

"That's weird. You seemed pretty against the idea earlier," I say coldly.

"I made a mistake!" he tells us earnestly, "It's all my fault. I'm the one who snogged the Ravenclaw just hours after she rejected me. I was just…stupid, and frustrated, and -"

James tries to finish for him, "An ignorant, spineless little piece of-"

"I love her, OK?" Scorpius says, "And it hurt, being rejected by her time and time again. I just wanted to not get hurt by her anymore. I thought rejecting her would be the way to do it, but I realised, of course, it's not."

"You're an idiot," I tell him.

"I know."

"Now go in there and tell her what you just told us."

He nods nervously. James glares at him, "If you so much as tell her the incorrect time, I will make you regret it."

Scorpius looks pale and scared as he nods even faster, "I swear on my-"

"Just go."

Scorpius glances once at the door to the room of requirement, and opens it.

Inside the music is pumping loudly, and the temperature seems to have doubled since the last time I was in here. People are cheering and wolf-whistling at something.

Scorpius is staring about him, trying to find Rose desperately. But it's difficult through the crowds of people and the bright flashing lights in the dark. 

I peer through the darkness at the thing that most people seem to be fixated on, in the centre of the room.

Rose is standing on the table, the same one that she had previously been using as a crowd diving spring board, with her arms wrapped around someone.

"Oh god," I mutter.

She's snogging someone. She's standing on a table, aggressively snogging whoever decided to get up on the table with her, and everyone around them is cheering in a drunken haze.

Scorpius looks around more and more, his eyes searching for her.

His gaze turns to hard stone, the second he recognises her.

Suddenly Rose pulls away from her temporary kisser, and pauses to take a long sip from the liquor bottle, which I notice is now close to being empty.

But that's no longer what I'm focussing on.

Because the guy standing on the table with her, laughing and cheering, the guy who Rose has just removed her face from, is none other than Luke Corner.

I stare at the pair of them. Then I look to Scorpius, but I find he's gone.

I spin around at stare after him.

Out of the room of requirement door I see a tall, blonde head, running back down the empty corridor.

 

 




A/N: Oh the drama! Anyways I hope you all liked it. I realise it this one took a while, but I made it extra long to make it up to you guys!

Tune in next time for the fallout!  

Let me know what you all thought about Stella and James, Roxanne, Rose, Scorpius, Luke, Albus, Ray, Fred, the list goes on and on. You can talk about the giant squid, seriously. I want to hear from you! :)


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