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Welcome to the Chase by dream_BIG
Chapter 23 : chapter.twentythree Cold.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 110


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It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on after that fateful day behind the tapestry.

Al was officially avoiding me.

He wasn’t even being subtle about it! Nope, he’d see me going towards him, face set in a resolute expression, and he’d literally run in the other direction. First he tells me he’s got a crush on me, and then bloody runs away.

My life is so sad.

Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t completely pretend that I didn’t exist. We still had to have Quidditch Practice…but even then it was near impossible to talk to him. As soon as I got there he’d bark at me to make three laps around the Pitch and then three more on my broomstick, then I’d be out looking for the snitch. His shrill whistle covered up any resulting protestation, attempts to talk, or declarations of undying love on my part.

Yes, I’d actually tried to scream that I loved him while he screwed up his eyes and blew the hell out of that goddamn whistle. If I could Avada Kedavra that plastic demon device, I’d do it without a second thought.

New Mission: Kill Shirley The Whistle from Tarturus.

I am going to steal that thing, and then set it on fire. And I will enjoy watching it burn and melt into nothing more than a puddle of red goo, its former whistle-y glory completely destroyed.

I’m going bonkers. Literally. I can feel my sanity shriveling up and dying from self-disgust. I’m still seething at myself for that entire tapestry scene. Honestly. The bloke you’ve liked since the beginning of time admits he likes you, and stare at him with an expression of horror on your face?! WHAT THE HELL, NEURAL IMPULSES. YOU CLEARLY NEED TO SET YOUR FACES STRAIGHT SINCE YOU’RE SO OBVIOUSLY SCREWING UP ‘THRILLED’ WITH ‘HORRIFIED’.

My brain in general is utterly useless.

“Oi, cheer up,” Blondie whispered to me as we sat at one of Al’s awful Team Meetings. Generally, these entailed Al speaking to us enthusiastically about Quidditch-Related things that everyone else knew and I didn’t particularly care about while the rest of us sat there and tried not to fall asleep.

Usually, we’re allowed to raise our hands and ask questions. Al usually ignores me when I do so. Asshole.

“Your stupid best mate won’t let me talk to him,” I hissed back, “I’m in love with him and I can’t even tell him because he’s afraid of rejection!”

“Well, I’ve already tried,” Blondie muttered back. He winced at the memory. Apparently Al had gone temporarily rabid and lunged viciously at Blondie as soon as he uttered the name ‘Ariadne’.

I mean, it’s only natural that I fall in love with someone who is so clearly imbalanced.

“Has he always been this screwed up?” I asked grumpily, watching as Al waved his arms around excitedly while he talked about wind conditions. The kid seriously needs to get out more if wind conditions make him this excited.

“Not until you came around, no,” Blondie responded casually. I turned and gave him the stink eye. He grinned back. Jerk.

“Oi, you two!” Al barked at us. Blondie and I snapped our heads to the front, guilty expressions plastered across our faces.

“We were discussing tactics,” Blondie said hurriedly, throwing an elbow into my gut. I hissed in pain, then quickly realized that he was trying to save our unfocused arses.

“Er, yeah,” I added, “like how I’m in –”

“Just shut up until I’m done talking,” Al cut through, looking distinctly unimpressed. He shot Blondie a glare of warning before turning back to the intricate diagram at the front of the room. It’s one thing to run away from me like a scared little girl – but refusing to let me speak? Now, that, my friends, is the most annoying thing I’ll ever encounter.

If he really liked me, he’d try to win me over. Definitely not this. Anything but this. I’ve been doing anything in my power for the past couple of months – I’ve thrown everything to the wind, gone completely out of my comfort zone – just to get his attention, and he decides that his safest plan of action is ignoring me in general, refusing to let me talk, and avoiding my eyes at all costs. All because he might like me, and I’ve figured it out.

Well, that just doesn’t float my boat. In fact, fuck you, Al Potter. I’m officially pissed.

I stood up quite abruptly, a fiery sort of anger thrumming through my body. I was so tired of this, so done trying to get him to acknowledge me. I’ve tried everything – and now that he does like me back, he’s completely given up. He’s running away. Like I’m not even worth the risk.

Utter bullshit.

“You have to raise your hand if you want to take a loo break,” Al informed me, looking confused. I shot him the dirtiest look I could muster and opened my mouth, hoping that my brain (which was quite blank) would spew some gem of wonder that’d have him at my feet, proclaiming his love for me and begging me to give him a chance since he’s so obviously undeserving of my attention.

Instead: “You’re a fuckwit,” I spat.

Nice. Charming. I’m the embodiment of romance.

Everyone processed this information with varying looks of shock, admiration, and confusion on their faces. Al looked as though I’d sucker-punched him.

Realizing rather belatedly that nothing else even close to coherent was going to form in my brain anytime soon, I stepped over the bench, grabbed my jacket, and left the room. The door banged shut behind me. No one bothered to call me back.

I broke into a sprint towards the school.

***

It was Rose who found me, two hours later, curled into a windowsill on the seventh floor overlooking the grounds. I was watching Al trudge back up the castle with his broomstick over his shoulder. He’d been swooping carelessly around in the air for the entirety of the time I was here. It seemed as though he’d dismissed the meeting as soon as I’d left.

The spiteful part of me hoped he’d procured frostbite.

“I found your ice cream,” Rose said, pulling herself up and bending her knees as she sat so that our toes touched. She’d been on the hunt ever since I first wanted it. Apparently the only reason she didn’t come back to the dorms right away was because the House-Elves held her hostage while they tried to find it in their vast collection of ice creams. They were quite horrified to find out that they actually didn’t have it. Rose took it upon herself to comfort them and let them know that she wasn’t angry in the least.

Meanwhile I was trapped behind a stone tapestry with the boy of my dreams, who turned out to be quite afraid of emotions in general.

Wonderful lives we lead.

I accepted the ice cream with a small, sad smile of thanks, and scooped some into my mouth. My entire day seemed to get better with that spoonful of creamy goodness.

“I called Al a fuckwit.”

Rose contemplated it for a second, then shrugged. “He is a fuckwit.”

I stuffed more ice cream into my mouth.

“You’re worth it, you know,” Rose said quietly, nudging my foot with her own, “he does believe that you are. He just…he doesn’t want to risk anything because he doesn’t know if it’ll go anywhere. Your friendship means something to him.”

“He can stick my friendship up his arse,” I said angrily, through a mouthful of Cookie Dough. I shoveled more in before I had a mental breakdown and started screaming obscenities at anything that moved.

“It takes time to fall in love. Just give him time,” Rose said.

I laughed bitterly, vanishing the empty ice cream bowl. I ate the thing in three minutes – new record for me. “Yeah, but what if time passes and his feelings go the other way? Then what, Rose?”

She smiled at that. “It’s you, Ariadne. They won’t.”

I had no idea what she meant by that. Rose’s bouts of wisdom were always confusing. The rest of us tended to ignore them and continue on as though nothing had happened, which we’d later come to realize was rather stupid because she was right all along.

But learning from one’s past mistakes is for squares, so I didn’t ask.

“Oh,” Rose added, “You’re coming to my house for break. My parents want to meet Scorpius and we need a buffer.”

I groaned and leaned my head against the window. Great. Ariadne Chase, Weasley-Malfoy Buffer.

“Can’t wait,” I said dryly.

“Neither can I,” Rose muttered darkly.

***

“Okay, so, the plan is, we Silencio him, and then tie him up and drag him into a broom cupboard and lock him in until after hours. Then you’ll steal his cloak from his trunk – there are a bunch of spells protecting that thing so we’ll have to research – and sneak into that broom cupboard, but you have to make sure that Filch doesn’t catch you, and you guys will be able –”

“Scottie, your plan’s a piece of tomato shit.”

“Tomatoes don’t shit!” Burly cried, throwing down his parchment and pointing accusingly at Blue Eyes, “that makes you the town idiot!”

“Russell’s not a town idiot,” Blondie intervened in a bored tone of voice when the two of them looked at him to settle their dispute, “and tomatoes are not physically capable of shitting, Scottie, since they do not possess digestive systems.”

“You’re a whore, Nickie,” Burly declared angrily.

“Yeah. And you dress funny,” Blue added.

“AND YOU’RE UGLY.”

Burly and Blue high fived proudly. Their semblance to a pair of prepubescent females was frightening.

“Yeah,” Blondie sighed, turning a page in his Quidditch magazine, “You guys told me.” I could practically see the sarcasm oozing from his pores.

“Can I go back to my dorm, please?” I asked, wiggling around as best as I could.

“NO.” The three of them chorused in unison. I pouted and fell back against the bed, tugging fruitlessly on the ties that they’d used to tie my wrists to the bedposts.

Seriously. They’d actually kidnapped me and tied me to Al’s bed using the ties that he usually wore around his neck. I felt like I’d been thrown into a trashy porno.

“I’m starting to lose the feeling in my arms,” I complained. Not to mention the rest of me, which was quite cold, as I’d only been clad in my customary post-shower outfit of a cami and a pair of cotton shorts when they’d jumped me and dragged me over to the boys’ dormitory.

These blokes have no manners. The least they could have done was to allow me a moment to dress myself appropriately. I even had my clothes all laid out on my bed.

“Silence, captive!” Burly barked at me. I narrowed my eyes at him, and his own widened considerably before he looked away.

That’s right. Fear me.

“Afternoo – well, hello.” Sleazy did a double-take as he sauntered in through the doorway. He was staring at me in a way that I did not appreciate.

“Walk away,” I snarled, struggling against the bindings once more.

“I think you’ve been tied to the wrong bed, love,” Sleazy said gleefully. If I could move, I’d kick him very hard in a place that hurts very much.

“Back off, Derek, she’s Al’s girl,” Blue said.

“I’m not that wanker’s anything!”

(Don’t tell anyone, but hearing that kind of made my entire week. But I’m mad at said wanker so I will deny this to anyone who asks.)  

“Al’s girl?” Derek’s eyebrows shot up and he looked away from me towards the three idiots who’d thought this was a good idea. “Seriously, he’s in love with her?”

“He’s getting there,” Blondie said.

“No way! He never falls that easy!”

“I know – I was so shocked when she told me –”

“ – usually doesn’t fall for girls at all, I could count on one hand the number of girlfriends he’s had –”

“HEY!” I screamed. Everyone fell silent, staring at me in trepidation. Even Sleazy wasn’t leering at me due to his intense fear.

“What – you guys are friends?” I demanded. Well, shit. This was definitely not expected. Last time I had an encounter with these people it seemed as though they were the worst of enemies.

“No,” Sleazy said, looking disgusted.

“We hate each other’s guts,” Burly added.

“Then…what…?” I started weakly, confused beyond my limitations.

“We unite in the face of a common cause when such actions are necessary,” Blondie explained.

“Such as Al falling in love with someone,” Sleazy added.

“Al’s not in love with me,” I said firmly.

“Props on the bed, mates,” Sleazy said promptly, completely ignoring my previous statement and nodding at the three of them. “This is material that could last any bloke’s fantasies for months.”

My indignant shriek was punctuated by a hex from Blondie’s wand, which exploded at the feet of Sleazy. He was still laughing as he scuttled out of the room and down the stairs.

I hate all beings who posses a Y chromosome.

I only got about a minute’s worth of breathing heavily and glaring darkly in the direction of anyone who happened to move when the door opened again. This time, though, a boy with very distinct ruffled hair walked in. He was followed by another boy with distinct ruffled hair.

“The fuck…?” James Sirius Potter asked wonderingly, staring at me staring at him on Al’s bed. Al stepped out from behind him and his mouth dropped open.

…shitfuck.

***

“YOU TIED HER TO MY BED?”

“It was a really good idea!”

“WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA THAT TYING MY SEEKER TO MY BED WAS A GOOD IDEA?!”

“That shade of puce can’t be good for your blood pressure, little bro –”

“Shut up, James, now is not the time!”

James put his hands up and backed away, though not before throwing grin and a roguish wink my way. My face, if possible, burned even hotter.

“Can someone please let me go?” I asked timidly. I was ignored by everyone except James, who smirked.

“You know, I was only here for a brief visit,” he said conversationally, “a little bonding time with the brother, maybe some Quidditch tactics so he doesn’t lose this year – because without my Seeking abilities, where would Gryffindor be? – but I was not expecting this.”

I grunted.

“I’m James Potter, by the way,” he added.

“Goshdarn, I had no idea. Since, you know, I’ve been living under a rock for the past seventeen years of my life and all,” I intoned sarcastically.

He smirked once more. “No wonder Al likes you. Potter men have a thing for sarcastic redheads.”

“I’m not a redhead.”

“Hence why Al’s the freak of the family.”

I glanced towards Al. He was currently attempting to beat up Blondie whilst Blue and Burly held him back. Blondie was smiling hugely, dancing just out of reach.

“I’m assuming that you’re dating a sarcastic redhead, then?” I asked.

He shrugged. “You could call it that. She likes to stick her face in a pillow and scream incoherent profanities whenever someone mentions it to her.”

“Well, aren’t you a charmer?”

He smirked again. I almost felt bad for this unknown redhead of his, but then came to the conclusion that his hotness more than made up for his constant need to smirk.

“Oi! Are you seriously carrying me?! WHAT THE HELL SCOTTIE, THIS IS COMPLETELY OUT OF THE ZONE OF A COMFORTABLE BROMANCE AND BORDERING ON –”

James let out a chuckle and turned back to me.

“Well, it was interesting to meet you…?”

“Ariadne Chase,” I supplied. James nodded and gave me a two-fingered salute as he stepped cleanly out of the way just in time for Burly to dump a flailing Al onto his bed and yank the hangings shut. I could just catch a brief round of high-fives before bed hangings were solidified into stone.

Immediately, we were plunged into silence.

This situation in general is starting to get old.

“I’m going to kill them. All of them. Every single one. Screw the team,” Al said darkly, glaring off into the other direction. His hair was even messier than usual, face tinged with a soft red. I shifted into a slightly less uncomfortable position on the bed. It didn’t help.

“Er – could you untie me?” I asked hesitantly. “I can’t feel my arms anymore.”

His head snapped towards me, his expression fading from pissed to amused as his eyes traveled from the red-and-gold-ties all the way down to my bare toes. I squirmed.

“How long have you been tied to my bed?” he asked. My eyes narrowed. The asshole was smirking.

“Long enough for the blood to stop circulating to my fingers,” I snapped back.

“I dunno,” he mused, “I’m kind of enjoying this.” His eyes traveled up and down again. I couldn’t believe this – first he does whatever he’s done this entire week, and now he’s blatantly checking me out. Granted, I’m tied to his bed in very little post-shower clothing, but seriously?

Anger makes me irrational. My leg snapped up as though it had a mind on its own, but Al caught me around the ankle right before it could connect with his face.

Damn this Quidditch reflexes. He deserves to be kicked in the face right now.

“Your desire to physically injure me isn’t exactly an incentive to let you go,” He remarked, closing his fingers around my other ankle as well. I seethed. I was so mad at him right now. Just you wait – as soon as I can start moving my fingers again they will be closing around your throat.

I tried for another tactic.

“Al, please,” I said, letting just that tiniest twinge of desperation seep into my voice, “I really can’t feel my arms anymore.”

He looked appropriately concerned.

“Alright, I’ll untie you,” he muttered, crawling towards the headboard and getting to work on the first tie. “But you have to promise you won’t injure me after I let you go.”

“I’ll make no such promises.”

“Then I guess you’re stuck here forever,” he said, sitting back on his feet. He cocked his head to the side, “you know, that actually sounds like a brilliant idea –”

“Fine, I bloody promise!” I spat, glaring hatefully at him, “Just know that I despise you.”

“That warms the cockles of my heart,” he murmured, pulling the red and gold tie away from my wrist and catching me as I swung precariously the other way. A rush of tingles shot down my arm so sharply I winced. Yeah, there’s no way I’ll be injuring him with this piece of useless rubber anytime soon.

“You don’t hate me, do you Ariadne?” he continued in a low voice. His mouth was somewhere near my ear. I could feel when it brushed against my earlobe. It seemed as though all of my nerve endings had traveled to that very place.

“I hate you very much.”

Unfortunately this didn’t have the desired venom; my voice wavered with nerves and I gasped when the other binding fell away and he caught me fully around the waist before my useless arms created an unnecessary collision with his headboard.

“You okay?” he asked softly, pulling away from my ear to look at my face. His nose just barely brushed against mine and when I blinked my eyelashes caught on his cheek.

“Hmm.”

This is too close. It’s too warm in here. I can’t think right. My entire body feels like jelly. I can’t breathe.

His nose touched the tip of mine again.

MUST. HAVE. AIR.

Now it was tickling the side of my nose.

LUNGS. FEELING. COMPRESSED.

I watched as his eyes fluttered shut – can’t breathe, can’t breathe, can’t breathe – and just as mine were starting to slide closed –

“No.” And he settled me against the headboard and retired to the other end of the bed again. He was staring at me as though I would at any given time jump his bones.

So, basically, it was a mixture of anticipation and slight fear.

My jaw clenched. “Scared, Al?”

He shrugged. “Fear has nothing to do with it.”

I shot him a disgusted look and tried shaking out my arms. They were still in the pins and needles stage.

“See, my favorite Aunt is Rose’s mum,” Al told me, leaning back against the stone wall of what previously used to be his curtains.

“Fascinating,” I spat through gritted teeth, rotating my shoulder. My arms hung uselessly by my sides.

“Aunt Hermione...she’s a Gryffindor through and through, but she’s definitely got some Slytherin to her. She’s the analyzing type –”

“Look, Al,” I cut through, “I love Rose’s mum, and this insight into her personality it truly enlightening. But could you please get to the point?”

He shot me a small glare, but I was too preoccupied with wincing as the blood started flowing down my arms again.

“The point,” he conceded, “is that between your friendship and my…” he cleared his throat uncomfortably, “affection –”

“Affection? Seriously? What is this, England in the eighteen hundreds?”

If Al thought I was being a bitch, he didn’t comment. Too bad, really, because I am being a bitch.

“I’m thinking about what’s more painful to give up,” he said, his voice taking on a slightly sharper edge, “and it always is being your friend. My friends mean a lot to me, Ariadne, and it takes a lot for me to give them up. And anything else…it’s just not worth it.”

I blinked up at him, shocked that he considered me this important to him.

“Your friendship far outweighs any feelings I might have for you,” he shrugged, “and maybe that’ll change one day, but for now we’re sticking with that. So, please…can we just go back to normal?”

I almost wanted to laugh. He was worried about losing my friendship just because he liked me. The irony…it’s sickening.

“What if you can have both?” I asked.

He just shook his head. “Drop it, Ariadne.”

So I did. I’m done chasing. If he’s ever ready for a relationship, he can chase.

“So…”I finally said awkwardly, “this is a little random, but do you have any extra clothes in here?”

Al laughed, and the tension broke, “Just the ones I’m wearing. Are you cold?”

“Freezing. They flew up through the window and jumped me right after I got out of the shower, so I didn’t exactly have time to put on clothes,” I said. As if one cue, little goosebumps appeared on my arms and legs.

“I don’t know whether to thank those idiots or kill them,” Al muttered, fingers reaching for the buttons on his shirt.

“Oi,” I yelped, “stop taking off your clothes!”

Al quirked an eyebrow at me, smirking. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Chase, I’m giving you something to wear.” He shrugged out of the shirt and handed it to me. I tried very hard not to ogle as I pulled it on, but he took that moment to stretch and yawn so obnoxiously I was pretty sure it was for my benefit. Sure enough, he looked quite pleased with himself when I turned redder and ducked my head.

(Though not after checking him out. He’s shirtless. You try exercising self-control when confronted with a shirtless Potter boy.)

“Well,” he said, ruffling his hair. My eyes flitted down to his abs again and I quickly looked away, “I don’t think they’re gonna let us out of here until tomorrow.”

“I have a Potions Essay to write,” I moaned, pulling my now-dry hair away from my neck and letting it fall back against Al’s shirt. His body heat had made it wonderfully warm, and now the only part of me that felt even remotely chilly were my legs.

Plus the shirt smelled amazing. I’m never giving this back to him.

“It’s a Saturday night,” Al said, looking slightly disgusted.

“My best friend is Rose Weasley. My homework is on a very tight schedule.”

“You’re such a nerd.”

“Thank you,” I said primly, “I take pride in my nerd-like tendencies. Most people don’t expect them from me, but they’re there.”

“Well,” he said brightly, crawling up the bed again, “your essay’s going to have to wait, because you’re stuck here with me for the rest of the night.”

My eyebrows shot up my forehead at the suggestive smirk he gave me as he climbed underneath his covers, poking me on the hip so that I’d move over to one side of the bed instead of hogging the middle.

“I thought we were going to go back to normal,” I remarked, ignoring his subtle indications to climb under the covers with him.

Yeah, Al. Sleeping in the same bed as you sounds like a wonderful way to spend the night, but…no. That kind of self-restraint, especially when I’m wearing your shirt and you’re not wearing any shirt at all – it’s just not happening.

“It’s a slight deviation from normal,” he informed me.

“Ah,” I said, rolling my eyes, “you’re flirting shamelessly with me now… so how am I supposed to know when you’re actually interested?”

“Oh, you’ll know,” he promised, a smile curling up on his lips, “I’m related to James Potter the first. I’ll make it very clear to you.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“Took you long enough to figure out.”

“I liked you better when you were adorable and bumbling.”

“Adorable and bumbling?!” He asked, clearly scandalized, “I am not adorable and bumbling! I am self-assured and manly!”

“Cute,” I drawled, “move over, I’m cold.”

He grinned widely and got out of my way so I could stick my legs underneath his duvet, which featured a Gryffindor Crest. This kid practically oozes Lion Pride. It was instantly warm, and I shivered at the sudden change in temperature.

“Temporary heating charm,” Al explained. I sighed as I settled back against the headboard and looked down at Al, who was propped on his elbow, looking up at me. A girl could get used to this.

“You only have one pillow,” I explained at his questioning look at my refusal to lie down.

“We can share.”

“Shove off, Potter.”

He grinned and rolled over onto his back. Thanks to my awkward position on the bed, the blankets were pulled up to his chin so his half-nakedness was well hidden from view. This was a very good thing. Too much exposure to continued hotness is sure to have a detrimental effect on ones brain cells.

“Tell me something,” Al said. His eyes were closed, but there was a small smile on his mouth.

“What do you want me to say?” I asked, fiddling with a button on his shirt.

“Doesn’t matter. Anything.”

“I ran away from home when I was eleven,” I blurted. His eyes flew open and I winced – yeah, great job, Ariadne. Way to bring that up.

“My, er…my family’s not a big fan of magic,” I mumbled, ducking my head so that a curtain of dark hair could form between us, “I went to Scorpius’ house. Never looked back.”

I waited for him to tell me he was sorry, like apologizing about something that wasn’t even his fault would somehow make things better. I hate when people say sorry. You have nothing to be sorry about. Stop feeling sorry for me.

“Do you miss them?” He asked instead, and I blinked. But then a small smile erupted on my face – of course he asks this. I’m in love with him for a reason, because he’s different.

“Sometimes,” I said, leaning my head back against the wood, “my mum…I miss her the least. She always wanted me to be her perfect princess, but that’s just not me. My dad was my best friend for a really long time, but always supported mum in the end. And my sister…she had her moments. I could never really tell with her, but she always made it clear that she cared. I think…I think when my mum went crazy and my dad agreed with her, Aphrodite was the only one on my side. But she left in the middle of the fight and she didn’t come back before I left, too.”

Al was quiet. Somehow, that was a million times better than anything he could have said.

“That’s probably what I regret the most,” I admitted softly, “I was never particularly nice to her. I thought she was stupid. But she wasn’t, she just had a subtle way of showing that she cared and I never picked up on it when I was little. A glass of milk and some biscuits by my bed when I got sent to my room with no dinner. A flower in my hair when we went on picnics. A piggyback ride when I got tired of walking. I just…I wish I could have told her that I noticed, and that I appreciated it.”

Al picked up my hand and pressed a feather-light kiss to the back of it. A million fireworks exploded in my stomach at the contact. I closed my eyes, realizing suddenly just how exhausted I was after this day.

I let myself in under the blankets and lay on my back, facing away from Al so that I wouldn’t do anything rash. He gave me about two seconds to get comfortable before he wrapped his arm around me from behind and shoved his face in my hair. I could feel his breath against my left shoulder.

“What are you doing?” I asked nervously, elbowing him in the gut so that he’d let go. Instead he pulled me back against his chest and curled his legs behind mine.

“You’re sleeping in my bed, Chase. I’m milking this for all it’s worth.”

“Night, lovebirds!” Burly’s muffled voice called from the other side. He thumped against the stone, “Don’t be too loud, the rest of us would like to escape trauma!”

“Crawl in a hole and die, Scottie!” Al barked back, kicking the curtains at the general area of Burly’s voice.

They laughed for a good ten minutes, Al muttering murderously against my shoulder the entire time.

Laugh it up, boys. Tomorrow, you’re all dead.

***

“Oh bloody hell, this is so cute.”

“Manly men don’t say cute, Scottie.”

“So you’re trying to tell me that this isn’t cute?”

“…it’s bloody adorable! Russell, hurry up and take the picture!”

“I’m trying, Nicky! I don’t know how to work this newfangled device…goddamn…”

“You press the button on the top, you fuckwit. This isn’t exactly Wronski Feint practice.”

“You do it, then!”

“Fine – give it – ”

“Oh shut up, both of you, I’ll take the damn picture –”

“Ouch, don’t elbow me in the face!”

“Let go –”

“Don’t grab my hair!”

“Just –”

“ – let me –”

“GAAAAH –”

Flash.

I groaned at the bright light and pressed my face harder into my warm, yummy-smelling pillow. I must be having a bizarre dream of some sort because there’s no way that Burly, Blondie and Nicky could be in my –

“Do you think she’s awake?” Blondie asked in a hushed voice.

“Who cares if she’s awake?! Did you get the picture?”

“Well, yeah, but –”

“You three. Bug off before I hex you in a sensitive place,” Al croaked. My pillow vibrated with the sound of his words. How strange. Is my entire Quidditch Team here? Where am I?

I opened my eyes, then squinted them in order to adjust the focus – but no. All I can see is a flat expanse of what seems to be skin.

My eyebrows furrowed sleepily as I tried to discern my location, but I couldn’t see much. I rolled over onto my back, impatiently pushing away whatever was around my waist and restricting me from doing so. My eyes traveled around my surroundings – and in three seconds I shot upright, my eyes wide.

“Holy sodding fuck!”

Burly, Blondie and Blue Eyes beamed at me. “Good morning, sunshine!”

“What – what are you –” I glanced down at my left…and saw Al. Shirtless. On the same bed that I just woke up in.

“WHAT?!” I screamed. “IS THIS REAL LIFE? WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE GREAT BLEEDING MOTHERFUCK –”

“Wow, waking up next to you is a very interesting experience,” Al remarked, pushing himself upright with one hand and ruffling his already messy hair with the other. I leaned away from him, hurriedly pushing the blanket up around his shoulders when confronted with a very naked chest.

“You’re not wearing – what the hell am I doing in your bed?” I demanded.

“You mean you don’t remember last night?” Al asked. He was smirking at me. I had half a mind to smack that smirk clean off his face. Here I am, panicking, and the bitch is smirking.

“Last night?” I echoed, “what happened last – oh. Oh.” I smacked his arm, “you wanker,” I huffed, “you’re just taking advantage of my momentary stupidity when I wake up in the morning.”

“So…what happened last night?” Blondie asked.

“Nothing happened last night,” I snapped, pushing my messy hair out of my face, “I just have memory issues when I first wake up.”

“Damn,” Al muttered, “I was having so much fun, too.”

“Here, take your shirt,” I told him grumpily, fingers reaching for the buttons.

“No, keep the shirt,” Al said hurriedly, pulling my hands away from the shirt, “Seriously. Keep your clothes on. I don’t want it.”

Blue Eyes smirked. “Yeah, Ariadne, no one wants to see your striptease this early in the morning.”

“DEAD!” I screamed, grabbing Al’s pillow and chucking it at Burly’s head, “ALL OF YOU ARE DEAD! AS SOON AS I GET MY WAND I’M GOING TO HEX YOU UNTIL YOU’RE UNRECOGNIZABLE, JUST YOU FUCKING WAIT –”

“You wouldn’t do that to us,” Burly said fondly.

I was breathing heavily. “You’re right. I can do much worse.”

“Oh yeah?” Blondie challenged. “Do share. We’re dying to know.”

My eyes narrowed. “I’m telling Scorpius.”

“…we’re fucked,” Blue Eyes remarked to the room at large. I was pleased to note that everyone looked considerably paler. Good. Slytherins are known for their creative and sadistic use of hexes, which is partly why the rest of the school doesn’t really fancy seriously pissing one of them off. Probably the most dangerous is my cousin Scorpius Malfoy, who’s had years of leafing through Dark Arts books in his family mansion. He once hexed a Ravenclaw to resemble a giant, porcupine-like slug that was covered in exploding boils.

I scrutinized the three of them. Burly would probably make a really nice slug.

“Well,” I announced happily, smiling at the thought of Burly-Slug, “I’ll be off to my room, then. It was nice knowing you boys.”

No one answered. They all seemed to be contemplating their depressing fates.

I climbed out of bed and cracked my back, which resulted in a strange strangled groan from Al. I turned to give him my ‘WTF’ look but he had face-planted into his bed and was in the process of pulling his blankets up over his head.

“She’s trying to kill me,” He said in a hoarse voice, “I swear she’s actually trying to kill me.”

Actually, I’m trying to kill your three best friends. Get your facts straight, Potter.

I grabbed his wand off his bedside table and tapped myself on the head, shivering as the feeling of disillusionment trickled down my back.

“See you soon!” I called as I walked to the door, “That is, if you make it out alive!”

My disembodied evil cackle echoed sinisterly around the room as I slowly closed the door. Smiling deviously to myself, I skipped down the steps and up the girls’ steps. I was positively beaming as I opened the door to my own room, grabbed my wand, and tapped myself into visibility.

Life is good.

“Oh, there you are,” Rose remarked as she stepped out of the bathroom. “I was wondering where…you’d…” Her mouth slowly dropped open as she took me in.

Emma found that moment an acceptable time to trip out of bed and stagger around me. She frowned at me blearily.

“You look like you’ve just been thoroughly shagged,” she mumbled. I opened my mouth to correct her but was cut off by Rose’s scream. Emma’s eyes popped wide open at this. Poor kid just had the worst wake-up call in the history of her Hogwarts years.

“No!” I yelled, shaking my head as Rose continued to scream. Her face was slowly turning redder and redder. Oh shit. This isn’t good. “No, Rose! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! N –”

Silencio!” Emma barked. Rose’s eyes bugged out as she snapped her mouth shut.

“Nooo – oh.” I paused awkwardly. How come I never thought of that?

“I didn’t have sex with anyone,” I explained feebly. Rose looked relieved, which emboldened me enough to tell the rest of my embarrassing story. “You see, yesterday after I showered, Burly, Blondie and Blue Eyes –”

“Mother-given names, please?” Emma cut through.

I glared at her. “Scottie, Nicky and Russell kidnapped me from this room before I could fully clothe myself and brought me to their room, and then they proceeded to tie me to Al’s bed which is so wrong…and then James Sirius Potter came in but Sleazy came in before that but the point is, they trapped me and Al in his bed and wouldn’t let us out so I slept there all night. Oh, and he gave me his shirt because I was cold.”

Rose blinked slowly.

“And I’m telling on them,” I added. “To Scorpius.”

She promptly turned to Emma and gestured calmly to her throat. Emma waved her wand and restored Rose’s voice.

“So, let me get this straight,” Rose said pleasantly, “Half of your Quidditch Team kidnapped you, tied you to Al’s bed, and then forced you to spend the night with him.”

“Um…yeah…?” I said nervously. Rose looked entirely too calm for this situation. I inched backwards.

“Did you tell Al you’re crazy in love with him?”

“Wha – oh. No. He insisted that my friendship’s more important so I’m just going to wait for him to like me enough. He can chase after me now, I’m quite done,” I said in the most conversational tone I possessed.

Rose is like…a dormant volcano. She’ll be all sweet and lovely one second and then the next – bam, she’s gone psycho and suddenly everything’s on fire.

True story.

“Ah. Lovely.” She turned to her bedside table and picked up her wand. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go practice a certain hex your cousin taught me.”

“Rose –?”

“EAT SLUG, YOU FUCKERS!” Rose screamed, holding her wand aloft as she sprinted headlong out the door and down the stairs.

I turned helplessly to Emma, who shrugged.

“Don’t look at me, I’m still new here.”


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