I woke up exhausted, with a searing headache and the regret of ever touching a drop of alcohol. My mind was panicking, trying to pick up the pieces of memories of the past three days and put them together, but having no such luck. There was a three day stretch of hazy blankness, the occasional image making its way into my dizzy hea. I whimpered and scooted closer to the warm body next to me, the one that had an arm around me securely. I opened a bleary eye and sighed in relief; it was Al, and not some random bloke who I didn't know. I looked up, realising that we were lying on the floor of the tent, along with several hundred other people. What the hell even happened here? It looks like a murder scene, not the remnants of a party. Everyone seems to be completely passed out. I drowsily got up, my limbs feeling heavy from exhaustion, my head spinning angrily and my eyes refusing to stay open for more than two seconds.
“Oi, Vida. Come here. I’m over here you daft sod. Drink this” A voice ordered bossily, placing a cup in my hand that was very warm. I groaned.
“No more alcohol” I mumbled, and she chuckled, making sure I didn't drop it.
“Of course not. It’s a potion, to cure hangovers. James and I brought some, since I knew that we’d need it” The voice said, pushing the cup to my lips.
I gulped the contents of the cup down and my vision cleared instantly, my stomach calmed down and my throat no longer felt like the desert in summer. My head didn’t feel like it was splitting in two anymore, and a smug, familiar face appeared in front of me, dark brown eyes shining in the morning sun that streamed through the tent opening. Thank heavens for Nikita.
“Oh my Aang, this stuff is amazing” I said, glancing down at the now empty cup in awe. She nodded. Her hair had fallen loose, her mascara was smudged impossibly, but she looked happy enough. I could see a small flame cackling away at the tips of her hair, and I smiled drowsily.
“Isn’t it just? Wake Al, he drank more than you, he’ll need some too” She advised, re-filling my cup with purple liquid that let off a small amount of smoke. I nodded and turned to him as she walked away. He was sprawled out on the floor, his glasses missing and his shirt half-unbuttoned, revealing the Quidditch toned muscles beneath. I was lying if I told you I wasn’t staring as I shook him.
“Al. Hey, Al. Wake up” I said, and he stirred a little, mouth falling open. I smiled at his stupid face, shaking him a little more forcefully.
“Ugh” He mumbled. I knelt by his head and poured a little of the potion into his mouth. Then a little more. He became more responsive the more I gave him, so I just poured the whole cup into his mouth at once, which may have been a bad idea.
“Ah, not so- hey Vida” He spluttered, choking “What was that? I feel completely sober”
He sounded as exhausted as I felt, and I could see purple shadows under his eyes from lack of sleep.
“A hangover curing potion, courtesy of my amazing cousin Nikita. I think I should send her a gift basket” I told him, and he chuckled, before blinking, and touching his face.
“Where are my glasses?” He asked. I looked around. I couldn’t see them near him.
“I don’t know. Here, get up. I’ll find them for you once you’re somewhere warm. I’m wearing your jacket and for some reason, your shirt is half undone” I said, and he groaned.
“I can’t remember most of the last three days” He complained.
“Me neither. Come on”
“So am I! Now get your lazy arse up before I force you” I said.
I doubted I could; the lack of sleep was creeping up on me quicker now. My eyelids wanted nothing more than to slide closed and never open again, but I had to deal with a half blind, partly naked boy who I may or may not have feelings for sprawled out on the freezing cold floor of a tent in winter. I shivered even in Al’s jacket; now there were no yelling, raving people in here the temperature was icy cold. I pulled Al up and he helped a little, and stumbled. I put a steadying hand on his chest, because I was sure that if he fell, I was going with him. And if I ended up on the floor I wouldn't get back up again. I'd just curl up and go to sleep, cold or not. That's what a bending party did to a hyperactive girl like me.
“Your hand is really warm” He mumbled. My hand didn’t feel warm. I felt cold. I needed to get inside.
“Okay, now walk”
“And your back”
“Why are you so warm?”
“Because I am a human being you idiot, now walk, I can’t drag you!” I huffed, and he finally walked, toward the tent opening and then outside, where a deep, fresh layer of snow was waiting for us. More snow was falling, and I grimaced. This would wake us up.
“Ah, its so bright!” Al hissed, and then yelped, because he was now ankle deep in snow. I don’t know what he was complaining about; I was wearing a dress and my heels had gone- I was barefoot in the snow. If that wasn't the biggest wake up call I'd had I don't know what is, and I had sleepovers with Nikita; she liked to threaten to burn you to wake you up at ungodly hours in the morning.
“We’re going to have to hurry” I urged, teeth chattering and feet feeling like blocks of ice. The paint from my air bending tattoos was coming off in the snow, turning it blue where I took a step.
“Are you barefoot?” Al asked drowsily “you’re shorter than before”
“Yes, Al, I’m barefoot, now lets go”
He did go a lot faster after that, which was a big relief. My feet didn’t like the snow. We both sighed when we got through the glass door into the warmth of the house, and I aimed for the couch; Al could sleep whilst I looked for his glasses, and then I’d go to bed. Al didn’t seem to like that plan very much. Stupid git was always stubborn.
“Al, let me go” I complained. Even half asleep and partially blind, Al was more agile than I, and he managed to pull me onto the couch under him, worming his hands under the arch of my back and hugging me to him, breathing deeply. I couldn't wriggle away, he was too heavy, and I was weak anyway.
“No” He replied.
“I can’t find your glasses with you on top of me”
“I don’t care” He said stubbornly, burying his head in my neck. Across from me, on the other couch, Emma and Hugo were asleep, curled up together like weird cats. Or poisonous snakes. Yeah, definitely snakes, knowing those two. I yawned and my eyes shut of their own accord, and I knew that I wasn’t getting up again. Al was really warm and he was a comforting weight on me, which meant that I drifted off, feeling exhausted after three days of no sleep. My last conscious thought was a drowsy prayer that dad was fast asleep and wouldn’t find us like this, for Al’s sake. I had a feeling he'd have an angry man trying to kill him the moment we were spotted.
It was far too bright when I woke again. I stirred, feeling peaceful and relaxed, and very warm. There was a weight on just about all of me, and arms around me, my legs tangled with someone else’s. I didn’t ever want to move from the cocoon of warmth and peacefulness. It felt very safe, and quiet, the best way to wake up ever. I opened my eyes slowly, letting them adjust to the intruding daylight in my living room.
“What time is it?” Al asked, his voice muffled, since his face was still against my neck, shying away from the light. For some reason, I didn’t panic at the realisation that there was a teenage boy on top of me; it was actually very relaxing. I’m becoming worried about my mental well-being even more now. I mean, come on, Vida. There is a TEENAGE BOY on top of you. Where are the alarm bells? Come on, I should be panicking!
“No idea” I mumbled up to the ceiling, and he looked up at me, resting his chin on my collarbone. He was probably close enough to focus on me, and I wondered whether he thought this weird for two best friends to do. It felt like a couple thing. He was staring, but I didn’t remove my gaze from the ceiling. Who knows what would happen if did. I could see Al out of my peripheral vision, eyes bleary and unfocused without his glasses, watching me as I examined the ceiling fan.
“Can you remember anything from the party?” He asked. There was a strange tone to his voice, something I couldn’t pick out, and I thought for a moment.
“I remember dancing. And alcohol- a lot of alcohol. I remember Tulane, and Chris and Josie, and that guy who was breathing fire. Oh, and teaching the air benders some moves. Why? Do you?” I replied.
“Uh, not much, just bits and pieces. Nothing important” He said. I could tell he was lying, but I had no idea why he would do that. I probably did something really embarrassing, which wouldn’t surprise me if I did. I’m good at that. I probably assaulted someone, or knocked something over or something.
“I’m never drinking again” I grumbled, and he chuckled, shifting a little to make himself comfortable.
“You’ve still got my new Year’s Eves party to go to. Are you telling me you won’t drink there?” He asked.
“No” I said easily “I hate not remembering”
“I’m sure someone will tell you what happened” He said quietly, and I glanced down at him. His hair was messier than usual, as if he’d deliberately pushed it all up. He looked quite cute, and I could almost imagine my make-up being so messed up I resembled a zombie of some sort. Al was probably too nice to tell me that I looked horrible. I heard chuckling from nearby.
“Could you two untangle yourself please? I’m trying to eat” Emma called. She was sat on the other couch with a bowl of cereal, Hugo still sleeping next to her. I stuck my tongue out, and Al got up.
“Of course, can’t put you off the most important meal of the day” He said, and stretched. What? I wasn’t staring! Don’t accuse me of such a thing! Ugh, fine, you got me. Shut up. You’d do exactly the same. Al had forgotten to fasten his shirt buttons again after all….
…Where was I? Oh yeah, I look like a zombie. I should deal with it. Yeah. Stop judging me!
“I’m going to go and change, and wash this Make-up off my face” I said, and got up. I climbed the stairs and unlocked my bedroom door. Jinjin squeaked in fright when I entered. Very reassuring. I took off my dress and decided to take a shower, since I still had air bending tattoos on me. Some were smudged, and as I turned to look at myself in the mirror, I noticed that the one on my back was no more than handprints, as was the ones on my thighs. That was weird. I must have danced with a lot of people.
I climbed into the shower and watched in amusement as the water turned blue around my feet, and I scrubbed my face clean. My hair fell limp and flat down my back and I felt much better, more like myself and sighed in relief. I’d survived the party once again. I deserved an award, because let’s be honest here; I caused a catastrophe when I was sober, and I’ve just spent three days completely drunk.
Once out of the shower I changed into my air bending robes and dried my hair, tying it up in a high pony tail. My alarm clock said it was two in the afternoon. Next to it was the book I was giving to Al as a Christmas present. It was a special book. A photo album really, and I had filled it with photos of us, all in order. First year, second year, third year; me, him, Emma, Nikita and his many relatives filled the pages, waving and laughing. He was always nostalgic was Al; He’ll love this. I jumped the bannister as usual and Al looked up, and I pitied him since he couldn’t see. He rubbed his eyes, and I noticed that his hands were covered in blue paint. I tried not to assume anything.
“I’ll go and find your glasses” I told him, and he smiled.
I skipped away to the tent, looking around for the glasses. I spotted James and Nikita sat together on a table, chatting quietly, so I went over.
“Hey, have you seen Al’s glasses anywhere?” I asked. Nikita smirked.
“Over there, where you took them off him the other night”
“Other night? He’s been half blind for more than a day?” I asked, alarmed. James laughed.
“He seemed to be able to find you alright!”
I left them laughing.
I had no idea what that meant, so I just headed off in the direction they pointed, finding the glasses on the floor. I picked them up and returned to the house.
“Here you go Al; they were on the floor” I told him and he took them, putting them on.
“Thank Merlin, this is so much better. Thanks Vida” He said. I chuckled.
“Don’t thank me; apparently it was me who took them off you. Don’t know why, but I did” I shrugged, and turned to the kitchen, ready for some food to cure an empty stomach. I put on some toast, making extra because Al would probably want some too. I heard Emma laugh quietly, and them talking, but I couldn’t work out what they were saying. It was a little annoying. I waited for the toast to pop and poured myself some orange juice.I made the mistake of drinking it all in one.
“Oh spirits- why did I just drink that after brushing my teeth?” I asked myself quietly, pulling a face at the awful taste in my mouth. The toast sprung up and I buttered it, carrying it on a little plate back to the couch.
“Here, have some toast” I offered, sitting down next to Al. He took a piece gratefully, eating like a man starved, and I munched on mine happily. Emma poked Hugo lightly, smirking as he mumbled in his sleep, resembling a puppy dog. Emma looked delighted as he wrinkled his nose and his hand unconsciously ruffled his hair, and I giggled. There were footsteps on the stairs and both my dad and grandpa appeared, looking refreshed and happy. They must've had more sleep than us.
“Hey kids, I haven’t seen you in three days. I hope you behaved” Dad greeted, and Al choked as a particularly specific look was sent his way. I slapped his back helpfully.
“Leave the poor boy alone Jack. At least its not that Spanish kid, eh?” Grandpa muttered, and then it was my turn to splutter.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. Grandpa chuckled.
“Nothing child, eat your toast. Ignore her father Albus, he just doesn’t like that his only daughter is finally drifting away from being a nomad” He said kindly, and followed my dad into the kitchen.
“Nomad?” Al asked. I nodded.
“Yeah, air benders are often more independent than others. I said they used to be monks; that normally meant very isolated from people and feelings. Nomads are lone air benders, and for many years now air benders were born with nomad traits. I’m finally leaving mine behind” I explained, and he nodded in understanding, processing it.
“Why does you dad think that’s a bad thing?” He asked suddenly. Emma giggled.
“Because that means she’s going to be getting close to people. Ergo, boys. Her dad doesn’t like that” She said. I rolled my eyes. My dad was overdramatic.
“But she’s been friends with me for six years”
“Ah, but this is the first time you’ve come here, isn’t it? If Vida was still a nomad, you would be at your own house right now” Emma said, and Al looked at me. I shrugged.
“She’s probably right” I said.
When mum got up five minutes later, the work began. We were ordered to take the tent down, but since we had two people who were seventeen and happened to have their wands on them, it was down in five minutes and mum returned to find us having a snowball fight in the back yard. Lumen had joined in; she jumped and slapped her tail on the floor, sending snow everywhere.
“Good one Lumen!” I called. She growled happily.
James, Al and Hugo went home at seven o’clock, and I handed Al his present.
“Don’t open it until Christmas” I warned “Or I’ll air bend you to China”
He laughed, stood in the doorway in his winter wear and grinning like a fool.
“I promise I won’t, as long as you don’t either. Merry Christmas Vida” He said, and handed me a present, kissing my forehead before disappearing down the road with Hugo and James. I placed it with the others in the corner of the room, under the tree that mum had put in the history room before the party started, and in here when it ended, as it took up much needed room and lets be honest, someone was bound to knock it over. It was large and green (obviously), and it was decorated with red and gold tinsel, red fairy lights and too many ornaments to count. I smiled happily at it as I headed for the stairs toward my welcoming bed; I really did love Christmas, and this one was one of the best I’d had.
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