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Chapter 5 : FIVE: Hold Your Breath
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another gorgeous ci by callisto@tda! :)
FIVE: HOLD YOUR BREATH
"Do you ever get that feeling where you want to watch the light fade from someone's eyes as you strangle them to death? Because that's exactly what I want to do to Psycho Sophie right now."
The statement, predictably, came from an irate Dahlia Darzi, one that swept a mop across the floor with a vicious swipe. There was a very simple reason as to why she was currently mopping the floor of the Great Hall and it was this: she was in detention. In fact, all of the girls of Dormitory 2.6A were in detention, barring Nala since she hadn't been present when Professor Reed had burst into the dungeon during Cass's fight with Psycho Sophie. It was because of this that the chorus of replies included:
"I'll help you."
"I'll bring the shovel."
"You know, I'm not usually a violent person, but I'd like to be the person holding her arms behind her back while you do it."
"I want to take this broom and jam it right up her -"
They were cut off by a pointed cough. All five of them froze before Alice risked a glance back and then exhaled a long sigh of relief. Sagging against the table she was wiping down, she released the cloth and turned around to properly look at her father.
"Dad! Have you come to let us off?" she asked hopefully.
Professor Longbottom let the doors of the Great Hall shut behind him as he moved further into the room, an apologetic smile on his face as he shook his head. "No can do, sweetheart. Professor Reed's booked you in for another half hour and Filch is standing guard outside."
There was a collective groan.
"What is the point of having the Head of Gryffindor as your dad if he won't get you out of detention?" Dahlia asked, throwing her hands into the air. Her mop clattered to the ground, but all she did was glare down and kick it away from her.
"Unfortunately, that's not in the job criteria."
Despite his words, he didn't complain when the girls began to let go of their cleaning equipment and came over to sit down at the Hufflepuff table; instead, he watched them all with a fond smile. Nova found herself sitting closest to him and returned it with one of her own.
"It's not fair that we have to do this," Cassidy informed him with a firm cross of her arms and a challenging quirk of her right eyebrow. "We didn't even do anything."
"From what I hear, Miss Addams had to go to the Hospital Wing to fix her broken nose. Sounds like you did something to me."
"Yeah, because Psycho Sophie called her fat!" Alice exclaimed angrily, banging the table with a fist. "She was fully entitled to it!"
"First of all, her first name is Sophie, not Psycho," her dad replied, holding up two fingers. "Secondly, violence isn't the answer to everything."
Reagan chose to pipe up. "But we tried to reason with her. She just wasn't listening and kept insulting everyone but her boyfriend, even though he was the one in the wrong."
"Besides, even if I do deserve to be in detention for this, the others don't. I was the one that punched her, not Alice or Nova or Reagan or even Dahlia. Why are they here too?"
"Don't be stupid, Cass," Nova murmured as she reached across the table to pat her hand. "You don't deserve to be in detention for this at all."
She was rewarded with a small smile for that comment. There was something about it that unsettled her slightly, a glint in the other girl's eyes that was at odds with Cass' constant calm confidence. It was almost self-doubt, though that didn't seem to be the right word for it. Whatever it was, it had been brought about by the events of the party and for that, a severe dislike for Psycho Sophie now settled in Nova's chest. Fucking bitch.
Therefore, she was more than pleased to hear that said psycho and a few other delinquents had been assigned the Owlery to clean.
"Bird shit," Dahlia crowed triumphantly. "She's finally with her own!"
Longbottom sighed in exasperation. "Dahlia, you're not supposed to swear in front of staff."
"Shit, I forgot about that."
He fixed her with an unamused look.
In the end, it still didn't matter whether or not Psycho Sophie was cleaning the Owlery because the girls were forced to continue to tackle the Great Hall. Reluctantly, Nova took to sweeping her corner of the dining area again, muttering murderously under her breath about her fellow students - didn't they fucking know that food went into their mouths and not on the goddamn floor? For Merlin's sake, now she was working herself up and the reason behind this was not merely Psycho Sophie.
Abruptly, she remembered a saying they once used to taunt Dahlia with back in second year when she had to attend anger management lessons: inhale and feel great; exhale and release the hate. When the councelor had first said this to the volatile girl, they had been sure she was about to deck her.
"Alright, someone needs to check this one into St. Mungo's," Reagan commented when she exploded into laughter at the memory. "Laughing to yourself has to be the first sign of madness. The second sign is growing hair on your palms." When all Nova did was dissolve into further giggles, she said, "Okay, seriously, what brought this on?"
She choked out, "In-inhale and feel great - exhale and - release the hate!"
There was a brief moment of silence. And then:
"I swear to God, Hale, I will fucking murder you!"
An explosion of laughter erupted through the Great Hall as the girls simultaneously recalled Dahlia's hated nemesis of second year. Any ill feelings that had been lingering were chased away and they continued their detention with the sort of giddiness brought on by bringing up embarrassing memories and poking fun at each other.
"Remember when Alice cried - actually cried - during our first Herbology assessment because we had to repot those plants?"
"They're called Squirming Squashes and they were a nightmare to deal with! All that dirt went everywhere and it was enough to make someone faint!"
"Remember when Nova dropped her bed on her foot the first time she moved it to our dormitory?"
"Oi, I was forced to stay in the Hospital Wing overnight for that! So many broken bones, so much pain."
"How long did it take you to get your first detention again, Dahlia? A day?"
"A week," she replied with a sort of smug pride. "I wasn't allowed to swear at home, you see, so I might have gone a bit overboard."
"I don't think you ever stopped, love."
By the time Filch opened the doors to let them out, the Great Hall was spotless and their faces ached from grinning so much. He eyed them suspiciously, as if eager to find a reason to lock them in there until their hands had worn away from cleaning so much, but was forced to give back their wands and send them on their way. Unfortunately for him, being cheerful was no crime against humanity.
It was a few minutes past nine o'clock when they entered their dormitory, still bringing up their earliest memories together - most of the ones right at the beginning didn't include Nova, but she had heard them so often that it was almost like she'd been there to witness the events unfold - and found Nala sitting anxiously on her bed, waiting for them. Fat Ginger was draped over her shoulders and food surrounded her, a welcome sight after such an exhausting detention.
"I brought some snacks," she said, gesturing to the feast around her.
"Not hungry," Cass replied not unkindly as she headed toward the showers.
The next fifteen minutes were a blur to Nova as everyone scrambled to do this, that, or the other. Alice ran after Cassidy to bag one of the cubicles, the sweet little girl everyone knew a mere myth as she rushed to wash away the sweat and food crumbs off her. Meanwhile, Reagan and Dahlia wrestled it out to have the other one. It really wasn't a surprise when Dahlia won, having been brought up as the eldest child of five kids, especially since three of them were boys.
Finally, all six girls founds themselves on the floor of the dormitory once again with the food Nala had grabbed from the kitchens - one large pizza, a big box of chocolate truffles, chips and chicken wings as well as a colossal jug of pumpkin juice - laid out in the middle of the circle. Alice had also finally managed to steal her cat back off Nala after a brutal struggle.
"Fat Ginger is basically mine so give - him - back!"
Furiously, Alice stared her down. "Why do you all insist on calling him Fat Ginger? His name is St Barnable Lawrence."
"You can't just create a saint!"
Nova thought that perhaps they would've argued for longer if Dahlia hadn't cut them off with a high and loud, "FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!" as she tore a strip of chicken off one of the wings. When they stared at her in shock, she grinned, showing them the lovely contents of her mouth.
"Once again," Nova said flatly, "you astound me with your classiness."
"The Queen has nothing on me."
Rolling her eyes, Nova chose not to say anything; instead, she reached over for the biggest slice of pizza on her side and began to munch on it, the sweet taste of jalapenos erupting on her tongue. Pizza was a gift from the heavens, she knew that, yet there was something even sweeter about it when one ate it after being put through detention. She would bet a million galleons that Psycho Sophie wasn't having pizza right now. Ha.
After five minutes of silently devouring their food, it dawned on them that it wasn't going to run away anytime soon so they slowed down and began to talk.
"I feel really bad that I wasn't there," Nala confessed, looking down at her goblet of pumpkin juice sadly. "I feel like such a traitor."
"Don't be stupid," Cass said dismissively. "We were at a party so you couldn't have known. Reagan and Nova only came because Alice managed to find them and wanted them to control the situation."
"We did an excellent job there," Reagan remarked, making Nova snort into her goblet.
"Still," Nala insisted, "I'm your best friend. I should've been there."
In response, Cass simply smiled at her.
Trying to shake off the subject of detention and Psycho Sophie, mostly because they made her think about the vile words the younger Hufflepuff had spat and the look in Cass' eyes during the detention, Nova said, "I heard that we have a test in Charms tomorrow."
A groan swept through the dormitory.
"I haven't even revised," Reagan moaned, dropping her head into her hands.
The others exchanged a glance and then looked meaningfully at her best friend. She sighed and said, "Reagan, you're doing it again."
"Doing what again?"
"What you did last year. Putting off studying or revising for no reason and then winging it and getting a grade you're not happy with. That's not going to work for NEWTs. You carry on like that and Reed will have your head."
Lifting her head, her friend scowled. It was a well-known fact that Reagan Davies was plain, though she seemed anything but that to her friends. Aside from her height, there was nothing too remarkable about her - she had a normal, rather sweet-looking face, dark eyes that were skilled at observing and faded brown hair. Still, when she scowled, there was something off about it, something that made her less forgettable and more feral.
"Reed can piss off," she snapped. "I can't help it if I can't revise. I just can't do it. I'm not like Cass who can whip out her flashcards anywhere and know everything off by heart. I'm not like you, I can't make notes from the top of my head and compare it to the textbook. I just can't do it."
"You just need to figure out what's best for you," Nova said, undaunted by the less than pleasant expression on the other girl's face. They had had this conversation a fair few times so by then, she was used to how defensive Reagan was on this subject. "It might be mind maps, it might be notes-"
"I heard there was this one girl who recorded herself on one of those things, those mini radio things, and she just listened to the sound of her voice repeating all the facts she needed to know for weeks and then she got an O. Maybe you work best with stuff like that. You'll never know unless you try."
"Okay, okay. I'll try," she sighed, admitting defeat. For that, she was rewarded by a nice friendly pat on the shoulder since both she and Nova weren't the most affectionate of people and were awkward when it came to expressing such things.
From there on, it was smooth sailing. Matters concerning the unpleasant things in life - detentions, tests or the beard Professor Emeraude Sanchez was sporting - weren't brought up again and they talked their way well into the twenty second hour of the day until exhaustion hit them like a pile of bricks. Yawning, they retreated into their beds, mumbling goodnight to each other.
"Do you want me to save the last piece of pizza for you, Cass?" Nova faintly heard Nala ask from beyond the foot of her bed. "You didn't eat anything."
"No, I'm not hungry. Save it for Dahlia or something."
How strange, she thought as sleep wrapped its arms around her and stole her away into a dreamless land. I thought veggie pizza was her favourite.
When Nova woke up that Monday morning, she was surprised to see that her bedside clock informed her that it was half five. She was the type to sleep in, not rousing from bed until it was at least seven thirty since she didn't really have anyone to impress. Except maybe a certain Slytherin, but even he didn't win out over twenty extra minutes of glorious laziness.
Quietly, she lay there and groggily contemplated life as she was prone to do whenever she happened to wake up at this hour. It amazed her how silent the world was, how there seemed to be nothing in existence beyond the quiet breaths of her roommates and Dormitory 2.6A itself. It was completely different from the atmosphere she was used to: one of bustling students and rowdy boys and the high shrieks of laughter that rung out in endless corridors and classrooms. So far away from Dahlia's hearty curses and Reagan's sarcastic remarks and Cass' dramatic recounts of her encounters with this boy or that one. Nothing stirred.
Until the door to the bathroom slowly creaked open, sending her heart into a skittering panic. She turned on her side and peered in that direction, wondering wildly about what she'd have to do if there happened to be a serial killer on the loose. That was until she realised that there was no a bloodthirsty manic weilding a knife. There was simply Cassidy.
"What are you doing up so early?" Nova asked, sitting up.
Her friend screamed, jumping three feet into the air. Clutching her chest, she burst out with, "What the fuck, Nova? Why the fuck are you awake?"
"I asked you first."
"Yes, and you gave me a bloody heart attack while you were at it." Exhaling a long, controlled breath, Cass sat down on the edge of her bed and began tightening the laces of her trainers. "I'm going for a jog."
Nova looked at her clock as if to confirm the time once more. Yes, there was no doubt about it: it was only ten to six. "This early?"
She shrugged. "I always jog in the morning."
"I thought you went at half six," she said. "Is it even safe to go out at this time?"
A small, amused laugh tumbled from Cass' lips. As she jumped up from her bed, she winked, heading toward the door decisively. "I don't know if you noticed, Nova, but we happen to be at Hogwarts. Besides," she added, withdrawing a long, curved stick of acacia from her pocket, "I'm well-armed."
Knowing that there was nothing she could do about it, Nova shrugged and lay back down in bed. In the quiet of the dormitory, the sound of the door closing seemed deafening, a statement with a meaning she wasn't yet sure of. Rolling over on her side, she blocked out that ridiculous thought by burrowing under her covers and trying to lose herself to sleep once more.
When the sun shone through the high windows at seven o'clock, a set of alarms began to blare, the harmless wail of Alice's mandrake clock piercing through the sound of the regular drumbeat of Nala's, a discordant note that immediately dragged Nova out of the drousy daze she was in. Since the girls were taking their sweet time to turn them off, she decided to roll out of bed and slipped into the bathroom to brush her teeth much earlier than she would've done.
As she slowly worked the bad taste out of her mouth, Nova took the time to peer at her reflection. Maybe it was because she had been humouring reflective thoughts for a couple of hours now or maybe it was because she finally had a crush on someone, but for once, she didn't just glance at herself in the mirror and conclude that yes, she had awful bed hair and she looked like she had been hit by the Whomping Willow - she actually began to analyse herself.
Her gaze swept critically over her dark hair, knotted and messy as it was, inspecting her figure before it lingered on her face. Her eyes were dark and shrewd, her nose compact, her mouth small and set at a natural slant that suggested she was a judgemental bitch. She had been graced with an olive tint to her skin from her father, but there seemed to be a mini mountain range along her hairline and an oilrig across the bridge of her nose that dragged the quality of it down. Toothbrush forgotten in her mouth, Nova couldn't help but ask a single question: was she pretty?
She hadn't thought about that sort of thing for ages, ever since she had accepted that she wasn't going to be Josh Finch-Fletchley's girlfriend and that her former friends didn't think she was good enough to be anything, really. Once she had decided to cut herself off from socialising, from caring about the opinions of people she didn't even fucking speak to, that worry had eventually faded away.
And now it was back. All because of what? Because she fancied some guy, wonderful as he was? Dahlia's words seemed to resonate in her mind: fancying a guy doesn't make you feel good about yourself, it makes you feel shit. Nova didn't want to feel like shit. She wasn't after insecurities, she was after the little butterflies that fluttered in her stomach when she spoke to Albus. That was all.
Spitting out the toothpaste in her mouth and scrubbing her mouth, she pointed sternly at her reflection with the bright pink toothbrush in her hand. "You're not going to care about that sort of bullshit, Hale. Yeah, Albus seems to be humouring you for some reason, but that is no reason to fret about how you look. You're fine. Maybe you're not Victoire Weasley, but you're not a heinous troll so. . . pull yourself together, woman!"
And pull herself together she did. Quickly finishing off the rest of her routine - cleaning her face with a homemade facial wash and slapping some moisturiser onto her skin - she hurried out of the bathroom with a sense of determination, accidentally sending Nala knocking to the ground.
"I'm okay!" she cried, throwing a dark hand into the air and giving Nova a thumbs up. "Bruised but okay."
Since she had plenty of time to go, she took her time when changing into her school clothes. To support her 'feel good' resolve, she even hunted out her favourite matching bra and knickers just so she could walk around the castle, feeling like she had her life together. When she was finished, she flopped back onto her bed and began to flick through her Charms textbook, wanting to cram in some last minute revision while she could.
"Oi, you boring shit," Reagan said a while later, playfully tossing her dirty clothes at her. "We're going to breakfast. Are you coming or not?"
In response, Nova hit Reagan in the face with the clothes, swinging out of bed as she did so. She glanced around the room at her waiting friends.
"Isn't Cass back yet?"
Alice shook her head. "She must still be on her jog."
"But it's gone past eight," she frowned.
"Oh, she'll turn up at breakfast, I'm sure. Let's just go to the Great Hall. I'm starving, even after all that food last night."
For once in her life, Alice was wrong. Cass never turned up for breakfast and it wasn't until they went on their separate paths, each heading towards a different lesson, that Nova spotted her coming out of the corridor that led to their common room. When they caught each other's eyes, the latter looked a little thrown off guard before she quickened her pace to catch up to Nova.
"I had breakfast at the kitchens," she explained before Nova could even open her mouth. "I spent too long on my run and I was pushed for time, you see."
Despite the worry niggling in the back of her mind, she smirked and teased, "What, did you meet someone and have a quickie near the Whomping Willow?"
"Of course. I'm not one to resist Jeremy Williams. He has the finest pair of lips in this school, you know."
"So I've heard."
"Trust me." There was a wicked little smirk on the Greengrass' lips as she patted her friend reassuringly. An eyelid lined in black dropped into a cheeky wink. "You have it on good authority." Releasing a loud, carefree laugh at Nova's responding grimace, she asked, "So, where are you off to?"
"History of Magic."
Now, it was her turn to wince. "Sounds fucking awful. But then again, your man is in it, isn't he?"
Blood burned Nova's cheeks as it flooded into it. Letting her hair fall forward to cover them, she whispered furiously, "He's not my man. We haven't done anything and he doesn't even think of me that way."
"Which is why he's letting you ride his broomstick, of course."
"Not in that way!"
She swatted at her with a lethal glare, one with no real feeling. Though she was aware that Cass was only teasing, there was something about such thoughts, something so unattainable yet so enticing, that she immediately wanted to squash the feeling. Besides, they were in public! She didn't want anyone catching wind of anything juicy regarding her, especially if it concerned a Potter too.
A layer of frost caressed the grass of the Quidditch Pitch, encasing each blade in a frosty embrace. Accompanying it was an icy wind that rattled Nova's bones, even through her thick winter cloak. It was a gorgeous item from her mother, as dark as obsidian and as soft as silk, lined with thick fur meant to imitate that of a red Arctic fox.
It was also fucking useless, apparently.
"We can't possibly do anything in this weather," she pleaded, turning to the boy next to her.
Albus Potter looked, quite simply, like something out of a novel. Dressed in plain black clothes, he had a thick inky cloak thrown over his shoulders, a silver fastening at his throat. Leather gloves made from dragonhide and coloured like coal protected his hands and his glasses were nowhere to be seen, leaving him with a brilliantly green gaze that was trained on her. He reminded her of the fairytale heroes her mum would read stories about, a brave knight with a wand instead of a sword.
"It's not even that bad," he promised, smirking at her attempts to flee from the broom. "I've flown in worse conditions before."
"Yes. Because you can fly. Whereas I can't and will probably snap my neck, inevitably sending you on your way to Azkaban. You don't want to be in Azkaban, do you? No. So for your own sake, I think we should forget about this."
His only response was laughter. "That's cute."
Red spotted her cheeks and she scowled despite the voice in her head that sang he said I was cute, he said I was cute, he said I was cute. Folding her arms, she informed him, "You can't make me do anything."
Albus nodded and shrugged. "You're right. I can't. You can go if you want." He gestured toward the castle.
Nova eyed him suspiciously. After convincing her to trek all the way out here, after confirming dates and times all week, after weakening her resolve to say no every single time with that bloody smile. . . he was willing to let her go. There was something dodgy about that.
"I don't trust you."
"Now, what have I ever done to make you feel like that?"
So there they were. Staring each other down, a few metres apart, him with his broomstick and she with her calculating expression, trying to figure out where he was leading with this. She really did have half a mind to accept his suspiciously gracious offer and back out, but there was a bigger part of her that knew that walking away now would be stupid. Even if there was no conceivable way he liked her back, she could entertain the fantasy that he did by playing along. Many girls couldn't honestly say they had done that with their crushes.
"The second I feel like I'm in danger, I'm out," she told him, stepping forward.
Yet another smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Fair enough." Somehow, the smug git had known she was going to give in.
Once Nova was right next to him, he wasn't teasing anymore and was all business, however. There were commands he delivered effortlessly, almost as if he was an instructor himself or even the captain of his team - but after the first time Nova screamed in panic as she gently rose into the air, he was back to laughing and making her emotions go wild.
"This isn't a laughing matter," she cried, feeling the urge to stamp her foot for emphasis.
He tried to smother his amusement with his hand, but his chuckles slipped through anyway. Coughing, he lowered it to reveal that half-smile of his again; he dug his teeth into his lower lip to suppress his laughter. "Sorry about that. It's just - you were only five feet in the air."
"That's taller than my best friend! Excuse me if I think that's high enough."
If anything, her defence only set him off again.
And the sound of that laughter, that genuine one that erupted out of his chest and was thrown into the air surrounding them, broke her steely resolve. There was something so fucking contagious about the damn thing and soon enough, she was seeing the amusement in the situation too. At last, they managed to get themselves under control and he moved over to her.
"The thing is," he told her as he adjusted her grip on the wood, "is that you went too fast and too steep for your liking. You need to push off the ground with less force."
"Last time I did that, I stayed on the bloody ground," she muttered, trying not to focus on the warmth of his hands as they encased her own.
A breathless laugh fell off his tongue and he glanced up at her. He was closer than she had anticipated, almost as close as he had been that day in the library - except this time, it was arguably worse because there wasn't an attractive pair of glasses framing his eyes, shielding them behind glass, so they were now free to gaze at her and pierce her soul. It was as if he'd forgotten what he was about to say, had glimpsed at her at just the right angle and light to mistake her for something else, something more than the average Hufflepuff, something that almost took his breath away. If she had been a braver sort of girl, she might've kissed him right there and then because of that expression.
His voice was soft when he said, "You - you've got something on your cheek."
"What?" Nova murmured, pulling one of her hands free to brush at the curve of her right cheek.
Albus shook his head. "No, no, that's the wrong. . ." He trailed off and then lifted his own hand, a finger carefully tracing a soft line along the top of her right cheek. He brought it back to him. "I think it was an eyelash or something."
Suddenly, it felt too hot for her. The air outside was frigid, cold enough to capture the breath she exhaled as a frozen cloud, yet she felt like she was almost burning under the intensity of the look on his face. For a second, it didn't even feel like she was living in a fantasy where he fancied her back. It felt real.
Hastily clearing her throat, she jerked back and looked down. "So, you said I need to push off with less force?"
"Yeah - er, yeah." He took a step back and ran a hand through his hair, making it even messier. "Also, don't lean back as much on the broom. That's why you're practically shooting up in a vertical line. You want to be at an incline so stay close to the broom."
They spent at least another hour out at the pitch. Albus was a good teacher, slowly pulling her out of her comfort zone with little goals that seemed so attainable. Just go that little bit faster, he'd say, or see if you can reach the first row of the stands. When she was ready to call it a day, she felt confident that she had actually accomplished something, though she was more than happy to sit back and watch him show her what it really meant to fly.
It really was as if he was at one with the broomstick, as if it was a mere extension of him, the way that his wand was. He was born to be in the sky, to dive and twist in the air, to make sharp turns and let out loud whoops when he pulled off a particularly daring move. When he landed in front of her, Nova could see that he was aware of he was too.
There was a breathless smile on his face as his hair fell into his eyes (oh God, how she wanted to run her fucking fingers through it) and he said, "Maybe you'll be able to do that one day."
She rolled her eyes and laughed lightly. "I doubt it. You need to be a natural to be that good."
His cheeks flushed pink at the compliment and he nudged her. "Why, thanks. It seems that I've gotten yet another stamp of approval from Nova Hale."
"We should alert the Daily Prophet," she joked as they began to walk back to the castle. "You must be the only person to have more than one."
To Nova, it felt like the walk back was over much too quickly. One second, they were on the pitch, joking about how hard she was to win over; the next, they were encased in the warmth of the Entrance Hall, talking about Christmas and how they spent it with their families. He walked her down to the lower levels - probably since her common room happened to lay in his path, she told herself - broomstick slung over his shoulder as he waxed poetic about his Nana Molly's cooking.
"Her treacle tart is actually divine," he promised. "I'm telling you now, Nova, you haven't lived until you've had it."
"It's a sad existence," she agreed with a nod.
He glanced sideways at her in amusement. "It really is. You should just pop around to her house one day and she'd be happy to feed you. Honestly, if she could, she'd be glad to end world hunger singlehandedly."
Even though he had been joking about the offer to go around, her heart rose, imagining a world where she could do just that.
"She probably lives a million miles away from me so I can't, unfortunately. It pains me to say it, but it's true."
"Why, where do you live?" he asked as they reached the mouth of the hallway that led to her destination. They stopped at the point it branched off from the main one and he looked down at her curiously. "I know it's not Godric's Hollow because that's where I'm from. It's not outside of Ottery St. Catchpole, is it?"
"Oh, no, that's in Devon, isn't it? I live in the official wizarding district in Yorkshire."
He whistled. "Definitely not close to Nana Molly, then. Funny, I never would've placed you in Yorkshire. Your accent isn't as harsh."
"Everyone says that! Dad used to say it proves I'm not his daughter and that he's ashamed of me because of it. But I don't know how he ever expected me to buy that since I'm the spitting image of him. And he's the reason behind my name."
"Nova," she said, testing the two syllables on her tongue. "It means new. He likes to write stories so he decided to be poetic and insisted on naming me that because I was the start of a new chapter in my parents' lives."
Albus raised his eyebrows. "That is poetic. Mum insisted on my first name. Unfortunately. Albus sounds like the name of a wanker."
She laughed. "No, it doesn't!"
"Don't lie to me, Nova."
His face was completely serious save for the amused glint in his eyes and it just made her let out another. . . well, giggle was the only word for it as ghastly as it sounded. "It's an alright name. And I've never heard you complain about it before so clearly, you're fine with it."
The Slytherin made a face, pushing himself off the wall he was leaning on. "Not really. Seriously, just call me Al to make our lives easier. But anyways, I should be heading off. I have to help out Elijah with something."
Disappointment sank her heart like a stone in water, even though she had known the moment was coming. Nevertheless, she smiled at him, not noticing how he seemed completely floored by it for half a second, and began to move towards her common room.
"You know, as awful as some of it was," she told him over her shoulder, "the lesson wasn't all too bad."
Really, it hadn't been. Being around Al and panicking about whether she was going to fall to her death (seven feet was a crazy height, no one could even fucking deny it) had taken her mind off the little things that had been worrying away at her for the past week. Like the fact that Cass had always arrived late to breakfast and skipped out on a few meals in favour of studying or snogging. Or the disappointment on Reagan's face when her Charms test had been handed back with a red A emblazoned in the corner. Or even that Nala seemed to always be off doing something or the other and they often didn't know where the fuck she was.
When she had been with Al, all of that had just melted away.
"So you're still up for next time?" he asked.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world."
DISCLAIMER: The line "food, glorious food!" is from Oliver! the musical which I do not own in any shape or form.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm a bit hesitant on this chapter since a good chunk of it was written during my writers block (aka man's worst enemy) and the rest of it during my breakthrough after said writers block. But here we are with the chapter anyway. Let me know any of your thoughts - for example, are Al's feelings obvious now or are they obvious? ;)
edit 05.06.16: ci added
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