Chapter 28 : You're My Best Friend
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Mademoiselle (French) - Miss
Ma chérie (French) – my dear
“And I want you to know that my feelings are true, I really love you. You're my best friend.” – Queen, 1976
A few days later, a group of Seventh Year elective students were in a quandary.
“I don’t understand - it just bounces back and forth? Till someone wins?”
“Seems like a rubbish idea to me.”
“I’ll have you know,” Professor Llewellyn retorted with an arched brow as the class continued to watch the small pixilated ball shoot across the screen, “that this game has been extremely profitable in the Muggle world.”
“How can that possibly be? It’s just table tennis.”
“It’s so stupid.”
“Yeah, the little thing rallies back and forth until someone mucks it all up - bloody boring.”
“But it’s revolutionary!” Aeryn Miller finally interjected. Several students, Peter included, stopped doodling in their notes and lifted their eyes towards her. “Muggles don’t have magic, they have science … so to us, this game looks rudimentary and childish, but to them, it’s amazing. Don’t you get how progressive this is? Muggles don’t have the luxury of spells or charms, but somehow, they managed to create a virtual arcade video game. It’s brilliant!”
“Well … if you think about it like that …”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true.”
“Twenty points to Gryffindor,” the Muggle Studies Professor awarded, “for such an insightful comment. Now, go ahead and test the game for your next assignment … but I will warn you, Pong is infectious.”
“I’ll never understand why you take this class,” Peter muttered as the students around them started to pair up. “You’re a Muggleborn – you already know all the answers.”
“It’s fun,” Aeryn grinned as she settled back into her chair. “And besides, I didn’t want you to be all by your lonesome every Thursday afternoon.”
Peter smiled smugly and reached for his modified joystick; importing actual arcade units proved to be too difficult, so the Professor had conjured unattached, projected screens with matching controls. Aeryn reached for her own joystick and soon, the game began. Peter started out with a healthy lead, however slowly but surely, she ground him down her with practiced skill.
“This isn’t fair,” the boy groaned. “You’ve played this before, you’re better at it.”
“Well then try harder,” she giggled as she moved her bar back and forth. In an act of survival, Peter decided to distract her with some Marauder gossip and in an act of familiarity, she automatically obliged him.
“Remus talked to Sirius yesterday,” he began cautiously as he picked up the pace of the game.
“Did he now?” Aeryn muttered as she rallied the blip towards the opposite corner.
“Yeah,” he clarified and stopped his train of thought as he stuck out his tongue and pounced back. “He just about ignored him for a week and a half. I mean, we all thought Padfoot mucked everything up, but we still talked to him - Prongs even kept the Slytherins from attacking him in Defense yesterday. But Moony took it really personally … since he and Gemma were actually good friends.”
“I remember,” Aeryn said as she finally knocked the blip past him. Peter grunted and they entered the next round.
“That’s why things might be a little tense at lunch today, just warning you … or maybe not, ‘cos Padfoot said he apologized to Marianne earlier this morning for being such a git. Dunno what he did to her, though … So did you hear that some Fourth Years confronted Rose Smythe for being a slag? They poured pumpkin juice on her head.”
“No way,” she responded with a laugh. “Well, actually, I believe it. Despite all the rumors, people seemed to generally like Sirius and Gemma together. But I didn’t expect them to care this much.”
“I know,” he agreed, “but it’s Hogwarts. What else is there to do but meddle in other people’s affairs?” He groaned softly and moved his bar back and forth to keep up with her. “Padfoot’s still peeved about the Sixth Year who stormed onto the Quidditch pitch during one of his practices and accused him of being a ‘heartless bastard who should be locked away in Azkaban for his crimes’.”
“Well, I’d be cross if that was happening to me,” Aeryn grimaced but quickly grinned after she beat her boyfriend yet again.
“Well, he deserves it,” Peter muttered under his breath, but she still heard him. Although she didn’t approve of Sirius’ drunken betrayal, she felt genuinely surprised that the Gryffindor was talking behind his best friend’s back. In all the years she’d known him, he had never strongly disapproved of another Marauder’s actions.
“Ummm, do you think you’ll be fine by yourself for a bit?” Aeryn said after another round. “I have to go to the loo.”
“Can’t you wait ‘till this class is over?” Peter distressed. “I can’t do the assignment without you.”
“It’s urgent,” she replied.
“Fine,” he huffed as he crossed his arms over his chest. “I didn’t want to play this stupid game anyways.”
Aeryn fought the urge to playfully roll her eyes and asked for permission to leave the classroom. When the Professor nodded, the Seventh Year gave her boyfriend a quick peck on the cheek before wandering out of the room. However, when she reached the correct corridor, she noticed that she wasn’t the only one escaping the last class before lunch; in the distance, Cora McKnight was striding towards her and waving idiotically. The Gryffindor smiled and noted that her best friend always seemed to randomly appear out of thin air, brightening her mood instantly.
“Hello to you too,” Aeryn grinned.
“You don’t actually have to go in there, do you?” Cora asked when they finally reached the toilets.
“You don’t?” she tittered.
“No,” Cora admitted. “I like to run around a wee bit to keep my mind busy … and Flitwick’s more than happy to oblige a house Quidditch player and let her ‘go to the loo’. He’s quite keen on surpassing your team since, well, we might be your challenger in the Cup this year.”
“Always running,” Aeryn giggled quietly. “Well, let me pop in here and then I’ll join you if you’re willing to slow it down to a leisurely walk. I actually wouldn’t mind stretching my legs - Professor Llewellyn loves me anyways.”
The Seeker patiently waited outside the door and when Aeryn returned to her side, Cora winked at her good-humoredly.
“Let the corruption of Aeryn Miller begin,” her best friend joked. “Since when did you skip?”
“Peter rubs off on me sometimes,” she said with a small smile.
“Ha! Remind me to thank him. Now come along, lassie - we’ve got some adventuring to do.”
The two girls fell into boisterous laughter as they meandered towards the other side of the corridor; when they reached a staircase, they quickly decided to enjoy the warm spring air and moved towards one of the small outdoor courtyards. Aeryn was so busy enjoying her little slice of rebellion that she failed to hear the footsteps around the corner; it was Cora who shrieked with fright and pulled both of them into a dark storage cupboard before anyone saw them. The Ravenclaw quickly slammed the door shut and even though it was pitch black, she still felt Cora turn towards her.
“If we’re caught, it’s all your fault.”
“No one’s going to find us. You’re just hearing things,” Aeryn giggled from behind her hand.
They waited in silence for a couple of seconds, just in case.
“Mademoiselle,” a deep male voice suddenly drawled from just outside the door. The two girls froze instantly, recognizing the student’s voice; it was Rabastan Lestrange, the Seventh Year Slytherin Prefect, who was just the type of person to serve them with detention just because he felt like being vindictive.
Cora gasped, grabbed her hand, and squeezed it softly.
“Following me, Lestrange?” a female voice answered. Aeryn could tell that both teenagers were still around the corner and pressed her ear against the cupboard wall to amplify their conversation.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Rosier.”
“Luciana Rosier,” Cora whispered. “Merlin’s curly toenails, they better not find us.” Aeryn cringed in the dark, very aware of the Slytherin’s ruthless personality.
“So what are you doing here? Aren’t Prefects supposed to be examples of good behavior?”
“I wanted a cigarette.”
“Excellent, because I wasn’t about to walk all the way outside for my smoke.”
As the students paused for a moment to light the ends of their cigarettes, Aeryn felt her heart race with fear. She did not like the idea of being trapped, knowing that the two snakes outside would eat her alive if they discovered her whereabouts. She gulped nervously and continued to listen.
“So how’s your training going?”
“Oh do shut up, not everyone can become a Death Eater in a matter of weeks. You only found a willing apprentice so quickly because Snape was already practicing the Dark Arts on his own. And you were trained by the person who started this whole Hogwarts operation, that’s a bit of a head start.”
“I made wise decisions, Rosier. Unlike you.”
“My protégé is perfectly adequate … a bigger fish than yours, in fact.”
“I heard he can’t even master basic Transfiguration spells, unlike his famous friends. He’s not as good as you’re making him out to be.”
Aeryn tried to figure out whom the two Slytherins were talking about, but suddenly noticed that she and Cora were still holding hands; in fact, her best friend had started nervously rubbing her thumb in languid circles.
“His information will factor into my grand scheme …”
“Good luck. I doubt you’re going to come up with anything special.”
“Piss off, Lestrange. I’ve got a lot going for me.”
“Not as much as me.”
She didn’t anticipate Cora’s direction change and a new sensation lingered on her soft skin as her close confidant retraced her previous movements. Aeryn tried to explain her quivering bottom lip, reasoning that her sudden alertness was due to her extreme terror of being caught, but when the Ravenclaw switched directions again, small tremors of warmth swiftly migrated up her arm.
“Oh really? We’re both from distinguished families and masters of the Dark Arts. What makes you so much better than me?”
“I’m always one step ahead of you - you’re still trying to prove your worthiness and I’m about to be betrothed.”
“Betrothed? To whom?”
“Well certainly not you, ma chérie.”
Aeryn unexpectedly let her head fall backwards, reveling in her best friend’s touch. Due to the extremely dark lighting, she didn’t know if Cora could sense her enjoyment but as the girl switched directions again, Aeryn tried not to sigh softly. She couldn’t explain it, but she had never been this aroused in her life, not even with Peter. Nothing compared to Cora’s lackadaisical circles, even if she was unaware of the blissful vibrations she was creating.
“Shove off and go smoke your cigarette elsewhere.”
“But then I wouldn’t be able to annoy you!”
“Ugh, this isn’t even worth it anymore, I’m going back to class. I hope you have a slow and painful death, Lestrange – preferably in the next hour or so.”
The two girls heard the swish of Luciana’s expensive robes and her footsteps echoing down the corridor; Rabastan’s forceful clumps migrated in the other direction. Cora took it upon herself to cautiously open the door and Aeryn finally let out the small cry she had previously been holding back. She felt her knees wobble and reached out to grab the shelf next to her just as her best friend looked back at her over her shoulder.
“I don’t think we were meant to hear that conversation,” the Ravenclaw mumbled as she looked down at her shoes. “I think we should go back to class now.”
“Yeah,” the Gryffindor answered breathlessly, “I think you’re right.”
As Cora continued to stare at the corridor floor, faded tapestries, and suits of armor – anything but her, really – Aeryn’s heart didn’t slow down as she had expected. In fact, her vital organ practically exploded into overdrive as ghostly traces of Cora’s touch burned a circular pattern into her skin.
“Well, I’ll see you later then.”
After a quick hug, which spurned another wave of impassioned twinkles throughout Aeryn’s body, Cora’s spirited nature resurfaced and again, she winked at her best friend goodheartedly.
“Still would have been your fault, you know. If we’d been caught.”
“Oi! Not fair!”
“I’m joking,” she laughed and Aeryn inhaled through her nose sharply as she imagined the Seeker’s lingering hands exploring her shoulder blades. “Alright, bye - for real this time.”
The two girls parted ways; one going back to Charms, the other aimlessly and hopelessly contemplating her newly discovered perceptions as she wandered back towards her Muggle Studies classroom. Aeryn desperately whipped her hands back and forth, trying to expel all her nervous energy through her fingertips, but the Gryffindor couldn’t erase the feelings she’d felt minutes earlier. A small pool of dread gurgled and fizzed in her stomach.
How was she supposed to go back and pretend nothing had happened? How was she supposed to sit next to Peter with an unreadable poker face for the rest of class? She suddenly caught the glint of her promise ring and panicked.
How was she supposed to ignore this for the rest of her life?
“There are so many things wrong with this scenario,” she muttered to herself as she avoided returning to her Muggle Studies class by taking a loop around the corner. “First – I’m with Peter. Second – she’s my best friend. Third – she’s a girl …”
Her voice trailed off into the distance; she felt herself gravitate towards a wall, put her back against it, and slide down to the floor in a daze. She looked down at her trembling hands, realizing that none of those things held a candle to her biggest fear …
The troubled teen sighed and squeezed her eyes shut. The night Aeryn turned 10 years old, she had stayed up past her normal bedtime and planned every last detail of her perfect wedding. She was going to wear a capped sleeve lace gown, complete with a veil with real flowers in it, and after her father led her down the aisle of their local Irish Church, she would be in the arms of her handsome husband – her one and only love who would always be by her side, through sickness and in health.
Currently, she had all the makings for her fantasy wedding. Peter was her one and only love, her first and last. He had already promised to marry her when he had enough money, just so she could have the day of her dreams … and yet, currently, her heart didn’t gravitate towards him at all.
It wanted Cora.
“This isn’t how my life is supposed to be,” she whispered as she rubbed her temples with her fingers.
“Everything is supposed to be perfect.”
“I’m not supposed to be sexually attracted to my best mate … who’s a girl.”
Her boyfriend finally skidded to a halt in front of her and put his hands on his knees as he caught his breath.
“Didn’t you hear me shouting?” Peter asked between heaves.
“I-I’m sorry,” Aeryn answered, stunned by his timing. “I was going to come back, I -”
“What are you even doing on the floor?” he interrupted.
“I – I - ”
Her lips moved aimlessly, like a Giant Squid out of water.
“Oh, dear,” Peter sighed as he extended a hand towards her. Aeryn gladly accepted it and returned to her feet. “You’re having female troubles, aren’t you?”
Although she knew he was asking about something completely different, her eyes practically popped out of their sockets in shock as she choked on her tongue and fell into a fit of racking coughs.
“There, there,” he cooed as he put an arm around her shoulders. “You’ll be alright.” Aeryn didn’t agree but leaned against him regardless as her breathing finally settled to its normal rhythm. She didn’t know what else to do. “I brought your messenger bag – class finished a couple of minutes ago so we can head to lunch now. Let’s get you some red velvet cake tea … and I can probably nick some chocolate from Remus. Doesn’t that sound nice, hmmm?”
Aeryn nodded sheepishly and the couple made their way down to the Great Hall, Peter trying his best to cheer her up and distract her with idle gossip and corny, but still slightly hilarious jokes. Yet, just before they reached the Gryffindor table, her boyfriend took her elbow and slowed her to a stop.
“… You know, I figured your … time of the month was coming soon. You don’t have to be so embarrassed about it. It’s fine, really,” he said with an awkward smile. A small, muffled voice inside her revealed in his kindness, but the rest of her brain remained vexed and confused. “Now come on, look what we did to the Slytherins last night. It’s hilarious!”
She followed his pointer finger towards the silver and green table and saw Erastis Avery sporting a rat tail, Regulus Black covered in shaggy dog hair, Thorfinn Rowe’s white face looking like the surface of the Moon, and Severus Snape with a pair of antlers growing out of his head. All four of them were all furiously glaring over at the other Marauders, who were already sitting at the Gryffindor table.
It would have been funny if Aeryn had been in the mood to laugh.
“Wormtail! Aeryn!” Sirius barked with joy as he waved them over. James and Remus peaked their heads out from behind him. “Come, sit!”
“Don’t mind if I do,” Peter muttered smugly. He sat down on the wooden bench next to her; Aeryn kept her hands in her lap as she glumly looked down at her place setting.
“How was class?” James started.
“Boring and fun – the Professor let us play a Muggle game to research our next assignment,” her boyfriend answered. “Oh, here you are, dear!” Peter beamed as a custom teakettle appeared on the table and he reached out, grasped the handle, and poured some of Madame Puddifoot’s famous tea into a small cup. “Your favorite!”
“Thank you, dear,” Aeryn muttered as she blinked idly.
“Brilliant idea, eh?” Sirius grinned as he cocked his head towards the Slytherins and loaded his plate with chips. “It was Moony’s. He always comes up with the best pranks.”
If Aeryn had been paying attention, she would have seen Remus roll his eyes at the compliment, but secretly rejoice that he and his best friend had settled their differences and were speaking to each other again. Perhaps, if she could have stopped thinking about her best friend, she would have noticed that Miranda Fletcher had her skirt tucked into her underwear. She even would have registered that she had eavesdropped on a very sinister conversation between two students of the Dark Arts that slyly referenced her boyfriend’s evil doings … but instead, she stared at her empty plate and felt her stomach twist itself into knots.
“Aeryn,” a voice said gingerly, “are you alright?”
She looked up and noticed that Lily had slipped into the seat next to her – another thing she would have observed had she been her normal, clearheaded self. Aeryn took a deep breath, gulped, and answered quite honestly, even though she was lying.
“I’m having female troubles.”
“Chocolate, then?” Remus offered after he reached into his pocket and produced a Honeyduke’s candy bar.
“I told you he’d have some,” Peter whispered into her ear as she reached out and took the treat from him.
Aeryn gingerly pulled back the foil, sunk her teeth into the milk chocolate, and didn’t acknowledge his attempt to make her laugh. As the other Marauders fell into a long conversation about the current Professional Quidditch standings, Aeryn continued to nibble on the Honeyduke’s bar, trying her best to avoid Lily’s concerned stare and keep her lascivious thoughts about Cora out of her head … and when Peter suddenly grabbed her hand under the table to try and comfort her, she fought the urge to vomit as well.
Author’s Note: well, I finished this one earlier than expected! I probably should have sat on this chapter for another day, but oh well, fuck it.
I have a feeling these last couple of POVs are going to be very easy to write – as they are the catalyst for this entire story – but I did just get a promotion with more hours/pay so my free time is slowly going to wither away. But I will finish this story, I promise – my attachment to Wide Awake is probably deeper than you realize ;)
Thanks for the reads everyone - shout out to the Jily fans, your chapters always have significantly more reads than any of the other ships!
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