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Chapter 6 : Complication #6
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Complication #6: When the lights come on, things are rarely as simple as they were in the dark.
Last time: Caroline swapped partying for studying, Abigail got left alone, and clothes were lost between James and Abigail.
Potter sits up leisurely, running his hand through his hair. He blinks lazily a few times, before saying, “Well, that’s a word I never expected out of your mouth. But yes, Winchester, that’s what it’s called when - ”
“Shut it, okay?” I snap, looking around wildly for my mysteriously missing clothes. “I’m not in the mood for your smartass comments.”
“You’re just full of swearing this morning, aren’t you?”
How can he be so nonchalant about this? He dislikes me as much, if not more, than I do him – why is he not as scarred by this as I am?
I can picture every moment of last night – I was definitely drunk, but clearly not drunk enough. What actually happened last night was bad enough, so forgetting it would have been nice, but it looks like I won’t get even that.
“Bloody fuck,” he says abruptly, splaying his hand across his face. “Did we really…?”
“Took you long enough,” I say sarcastically. “Now please explain, where are we?”
I remember a long, dirty passageway, but that doesn’t mean I know where it led to.
Potter takes his hand from his face long enough to look around briefly, and sigh, “The Shrieking Shack.”
Judging by Potter’s wince, I said that out loud.
“WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU THINK THE SHRIEKING SHACK WAS A GOOD PLACE TO GO WHEN YOU’RE DRUNK?” I scream. The shrillness of my voice hurts even my ears, but not enough so that I feel the need to stop. “DO YOU JUST DRAG EVERY GIRL YOU MEET TO THE MOST HAUNTED BLOODY LOCATION IN ALL OF BRITAIN?”
“For the love of Godric,” Potter moans, “stop yelling.”
“I will do whatever I want, thank you very much. I think at this point I’m entitled to!” I’m a bit quieter this time, but more due to a lack of energy than any obedience to Potter’s hungover requests.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot my bra and knickers at the edge of the room, and start trying to determine the best way to reach them without exposing myself in the process.
“Well, this place isn’t actually haunted, so you can chill out on that matter,” Potter says. “And I’m not really in the mood to defend myself, considering you followed me out here, and you’re the one in a relationship.”
All my thoughts come to a halt – how could I have forgotten about Blaise? How could I be so stupid as to ignore my five-year relationship?
Now I’m the one with my head in my hands, my breath all but halted in my chest.
“Whoa,” he says, clearly noticing my abrupt distress, “it’s not going to be that hard to hide it from him. Everyone was drunk last night – say you fell asleep in a corridor or something. It’s not like you were a – shit, Winchester, were you a virgin?”
I silently nod – how am I supposed to hide this from Blaise? And even if it were that easy, how do I get over the fact that I lost my virginity to an obnoxious Gryffindor instead of to my committed boyfriend?
“Well,” he sighs, “that complicates things.”
I lift my head, looking at him with a sarcastic expression. “Yeah, just a little bit. Now, if you’ll look away, I’d like to be able to grab my clothes from over there.”
Now it’s his turn to be snarky. “I hardly think that’s necessary, it’s not like it’s anything I haven’t seen before,” he smirks. “I may have been drunk, but that doesn’t mean I can’t remember it all.”
I reach out and smack him on the arm – hard. I smirk when he yelps and reaches for his bicep. “Perv,” I mutter.
“That wasn’t necessary,” he says, rubbing his arm. “But it you insist, I’ll look away.”
“Thank you,” I reply, overly sweet-sounding. I quickly run across the room, collecting my clothes. I start to put them on, before realizing my white dress is completely covered in dirt. Wearing that would be bound to result in suspicion, so I throw it back in the corner and resign to wearing just the slip. It’s scandalous-looking, but nowhere near as questionable as a dress covered in dirt.
When I turn my head back towards the bed, Potter’s already in his jeans and buttoning up his shirt. I stare for a moment – when he’s not talking, Potter is actually very attractive. His ruffled hair – messed up even more so from last night’s activities, his defined, erm, abdominal region, his –
No. Thinking those thoughts was marginally acceptable last night – I was drunk then. But now, when I’m hungover, but technically sober? Not at all.
I snap my head away before he notices me looking at him, and try to locate my red heels. I thought they’d be easy to find, based on the obnoxious color and all, but clearly they didn’t stay in an easily visible location.
Once I leave the bedroom, I find them almost immediately– they’re thrown haphazardly to the ground, along with Potter’s shoes. I slide them on my feet, but quickly realise my hungover dizziness is only magnified by the five-inch stilettos, so I resign to holding them in my hands.
I look behind me to find Potter standing in the doorway. When he sees me looking at him, he winks. “You know, Winchester, for a virgin, that was pretty damn hot sex.”
“Do not say that word,” I snarl, avoiding any thought of the events of the previous night.
“Sex?” Potter says, eyebrows raised.
My eyes turn to slits in response.
I find myself wondering why Potter’s still so nonchalant about this, but then I realise that he’s not one who lost his virginity, and he’s not the one who cheated. I’m the only one with something to lose.
Once again, Potter gets out of everything with barely a scratch.
How is it that I always get the short end of the wand? I round on Potter, trying to control my frustration. With grated teeth, I say, “Okay, I’m heading out of this passageway. Wait twenty minutes, and then you can come. And I swear to Godric, if you mention this to anyone, I will have your head presented to McGonagall on a silver platter.”
“I’m shocked I’m even worth the platter,” he comments casually, flinching as bright light pours through the window.
“Damn,” he mutters, stepping back into darkness and rubbing his temples, “I’m even more hungover than I thought.”
“Well, good for you, Potter,” I snap. “You’re not the only one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting out of here.”
I head down the small tunnel I remember coming through, this time taking care that I don’t get my slip dirty. After what seems like hours of slow, cautious movements, I finally see light. I squint my eyes and try to protect my face, but it’s no use. The sun is excessively bright this morning, and it makes my head pound even louder.
The walk back to the castle is a painful experience, to say the least. I try to move quickly in order to get out of the brightness, but I feel like my legs are made of jelly – I’m moving at a ridiculously slow pace.
When I finally make it into the dim castle, I can’t help but sigh in relief – and even more so once I reach my dormitory room. The early Saturday morning means that I encounter almost no students walking back to my dorm, and even those I do are all first- or second-years – all the older ones are recovering from the party.
The knocker is a bit of a challenge; my brain refused to cooperate, and eventually I spout out a random answer, and I’m allowed in, more likely out of sympathy than accuracy.
The dormitory is empty, thankfully, and I collapse on my bed in peace. It’s only then that I realise how hungover I am – I guess that the adrenaline from the previous situation masked it, but now I’m left swearing that I’ll never drink anything ever again.
But really, what did I expect to happen when I went from rarely drinking any alcohol to pouring as much Firewhiskey down my throat as I could muster?
My head pounds and my stomach churns, and I find myself stumbling to the bathroom, only to lose the contents of my stomach into the nearest toilet bowl.
As I rest my head against the cool wall, I’m grateful that at least this waited until I wasn’t in front of Potter. The events of last night were bad enough – I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had vomited in front of him.
He’d never let me forget it, that’s what.
Every thought halts as I come to a realization: Potter and I didn’t use protection. We were drunk and stupid and there was nothing at all to protect us from anything. There’s no way in hell I intend on getting pregnant, so I dig through Scarlett’s trunk to find her contraceptive potion – I know she has a bottle somewhere.
I find the large vial and pour some of it down my throat – an amount large enough to have an effect but small enough that she most likely won’t notice. The potion tastes vile, and does little to help the disgusting vomit taste in my mouth, but I’m too exhausted to do anything about it.
I crawl back into bed, drawing the curtains to block out the light and burrowing myself deep under the covers.
I’ll find a way to fix this later, but for now, I just want to sleep.
I sleep for practically all of Saturday, and late into Sunday morning. The girls ask me what’s wrong, and I simply tell them I drank too much Friday night and got lost somewhere in the castle. It’s a half-truth, but I still feel guilty for lying to them.
Sometime before noon, I finally get out of bed, put on a simple dress and just enough makeup to feel presentable, and leave the dormitory with books in tow. I stop by the Great Hall with the intention of getting lunch, but the crowds are nothing I feel like dealing with – I’m no longer hungover, but I also don’t feel like dealing with the Hogwarts students.
So instead, I head to the library, hoping to get some work done that clearly didn’t get done earlier in the weekend. I find an isolated table near the back of the library, among the History of Magic books no one really visits. It’s a shame the class is taught by the dullest ghost in existence, because the subject matter alone isn’t as dreadful and the droning voice of Binns seems to make it.
I start working on essays, but am interrupted only halfway through the first essay by a copy of the Prophet being slammed down on top of my parchment.
“Would you look at that?” a familiar voice asks. “We made the front page.”
I look up at Potter for a moment, horrified, before looking down at the paper. I scan it briefly for signs of a scandal, but find nothing related to Potter or me.
Instead, I find a bold headline in the bottom right corner saying, “New Noises from the Shrieking Shack Suggest Ghost Return.”
I look at him, eyebrows raised.
“Read it,” Potter says, a touch of amusement evident in his voice. I begin to scan over the article.
The Shrieking Shack of Hogsmeade was once known as the most haunted place in Britain, but after years of quietness, the Shack was considered abandoned by the spirits. No noise has come from the Shack since the late 1970s.
However, Hogsmeade residents report hearing shrill noises coming from the Shack on Friday night and Saturday morning, in isolated incidents.
Melinda Burns, whose house is not far from the Shack, tells her story.
“Well, I was just walking through my house, performing cleaning spells, when all of a sudden, I heard some noise outside my house. When I stuck my head out to investigate, it definitely sounded like something was coming from the Shrieking Shack.”
Burns reported that the noise was only short-lived and has not re-occurred sence then, but residents living in houses erected in the 2010s after the Shack was declared no longer haunted are now frightened. If the Shack has regained its haunted status, they worry that they need to evacuate the area, and quick.
While no clear judgment call can be made, it looks like Hogsmeade definitely has some new drama.
As I finish the article, I look back up at Potter, whose smirk is the largest I’ve seen it.
“Congratulations, Winchester, you’ve officially been classified as a ghost. And next time, you might want to learn to be a bit quieter. In more ways than one.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “I thought I told you not to mention any of… that ever again. Especially in a place where other people could hear you.”
Potter pulls out a chair and sits down, putting his feet up on the table. “Relax, I’ve already scanned the area – nobody comes into the History of Magic section, except apparently you.”
I wrinkle my nose at his foul manners, but realise that he has a point nonetheless. I shrug and reply, “Whatever.”
I turn back to my essay, dipping my quill into the ink.
Before I get the chance to write another word, Potter’s hand is on top of my paper. I briefly consider stabbing him with the sharp nib. That would be pleasurable.
“Come on, Winchester,” he says, “you’ve got to admit that it’s at least a little funny. Someone out there heard you yelling your ass off at me and immediately thought it was a ghost – there’s gotta be some humour in that, even for you.”
I consider it – in retrospect, it is kind of funny that, of all the things that could end up revealed about what happened that night, someone heard noises from the Shrieking Shack and assumed it was haunted, and decided to report it to the newspaper – one that thought the story was significant enough to post on the front page.
When in reality it was just two drunk teenagers engaging in scandal. Forget funny, the whole scenario’s entirely ridiculous.
So I do something even I’m not expecting. I look up at Potter, and I smile. Nothing major, but a small, genuine smile that takes him a moment to register. And when he does, he almost falls out of his chair in shock – which leads me to let out a giggle.
As he rights himself, I realise that I’ve been staring at him for far too long, and I look back down at my parchment in an attempt to conceal it.
I start to write my essay again, waiting for Potter to get bored and leave.
But he doesn’t. Instead, he plucks a book from the shelf and starts reading it.
His feet are still on the table. I still don’t like him.
Up next: Abigail does damage control, James stops a rumor, and Scarlett is left disappointed.
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