Chapter 27 : Accept, Adapt and Move On
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"I give up."
"Come on, Ciaran," Abby tries to cheer me on, but she's so tired of trying to cheer me on that it sounds more like a whine than anything. "You almost had it."
"You said that an hour ago," Jack adds in from behind us. "And I still need help with History."
"Right, Jack. I'm sorry, I'm coming." My wand is forced back into my hand. "You keep practicing. You're not leaving until you've got it right."
"You can't make me stay."
"Watch me," she dares. "And since you're not too busy to watch and laugh, you can help him, Louis."
"I have revision of my own to do and prefect duties in half an hour, so I should really finish," Louis says. It's the closest he'll ever get to telling her no, Abby can be scary. You don't want to say no to a scary Abby. "I can tell by your look that you're not going to let me study. Fine, I'll just have to lose sleep catching up tonight. But I'm not doing it for you." He wraps his hand over my own and pushes his front against my back. "You, on the other hand..."
"Don't let her hear you say that, she'll ask you to help Jack instead if she see's you distracting me" I whisper back, flexing my hand under his and turning my wrist in circles.
"What's the bloody spell?" he asks, still quiet.
"No idea, I forgot ages ago. We'll just keep our backs to her, make movements with my wrist and keep quiet. That way she can't stop us from slacking off until we can leave."
It's a great plan. Louis agrees wholeheartedly. Of course he does, it means he doesn't have to work.
"You thought about what I said?" His lips being so close to my ear and his voice all husky and rough sends shivers down my spine that I know he feels.
Despite the way my body is reacting, screaming at me to say yes to what he said, I nod my head tentatively and prepare myself for his reaction when I say no. Being rational is crap, it's such hard work. I hate it, how can anyone stand it?
"And?" he prompts. I can hear his excitement in his voice, feel it through the contracting muscles in his body. Dammit, he's going to be so disappointed.
"Not yet." He freezes behind me, and then exhales, his excitement gone. I start to tell him why, until I hear Abby come back. "Later. I promise."
"Are you two working?" she asks suspiciously.
Louis clears his throat, not quite unable to hide his disappointment or his confusion as to why I'm saying no. "Er, yeah, Ciaran's really not getting it. We'll try again tonight."
"Yeah, he's talking about something else.
I wait until he gets back from his prefect duties, that way we have the rest of the night. At least until the midnight curfew, then he'll have to leave. Louis begged Luka at dinner to cover for him, so he could leave patrolling early; he was given permission to leave at half ten. An hour and a half is not bad. It won't take me that long to tell him.
He may need that long in the resulting argument.
I asked Jack to make sure everyone had left the common room by the time Louis came, so I'm all alone now. It's odd how every time I wait to talk to Louis, I end up sat on the arm of the couch, bouncing my knee - Louis' nervous habit.
"Okay, I'm here and I'm all yours." Louis' voice makes me jump and before I know it he's stood in front of me, his hands on my thighs. His hands move up as he moves forward and his kiss is urgent, needed. Distracting. Oh, Louis...
"So much better when we don't have to pretend to be revising," he says against my lips.
"You're distracting me," I tell him, my hands on his chest in order to push him away. "We need -"
"Later," he interrupts, pressing himself against me in a way that has me agreeing with his every word, even though I know deep down that, if it goes his way, a later won't come.
I'm pushed lower and lower until I end up on my back on the couch with Louis on top. Hands are everywhere, his mouth never pauses, is always looking for skin. Too sensitive skin; he makes me feel every moment, every deliberate move, until I cry out. Then I pull him back up to kiss him roughly, almost forgetting why he's here in the first place until I hear footsteps.
I push him back. "Did you hear something?"
The noise stops when I speak. "No," Louis says after a pause.
I wonder if it was really footsteps, or if the noise had come from us somehow, but when he starts to kiss me again and the noise quickens, like someone is trying to get away, I know I hadn't misheard anything. "Liar," I accuse, pushing him away, oddly awed by the lengths he would actually go to to keep me distracted.
Just when you think you know a person...
Scratch that, I know he can do that; I remember second year. And I've heard the story of 'The Incident' when he was seven. I still need him to clarify that.
"You can't blame a guy for trying," he mutters to himself. I think.
I roll off the couch because it moves his legs enough for me to get away from him and walk around to the back of the couch, fumbling with the buttons he'd opened until most of them are closed again. I give up on the top two.
"We need to talk."
"About what?" he inquires. Too innocently.
"About you." He starts to laugh it off, make a joke, but as soon as he knows I'm serious, he shuts up. Then he asks why. "We need to, Louis. Keeping quiet will not do anyone any good, especially not you."
"I told you, it's a story for another day and I will tell it when I'm ready. I promised, didn't I?"
So, he does now what I'm referring to. "Yeah, but you're lying. You'll never tell, not willingly."
He scoffs at me, defensive. "You can't make me. I can just walk out of here right now."
"Yes, you can," I agree, keeping my tone as casual as I can make it, and lean against the back of the couch. I know he's on my left, closer to the door than me, because his voice is further away than before. If I could see, I'd have to turn to look at him. I turn my head just enough for him to see maybe half of my face. If he isn't that far away. "I'd give it five minutes before you came back in, ten at a push. You'll come back in angry, of course. Not at me, just in general, because you're stubborn. You always have been and you always will be. You also hate to be beaten, so you won't walk away from this talk and you'll hate the world for it, but it's going to happen anyway. This mistake hurt you enough for you to start doing as people said instead of saying no, but that was just to get them to leave you alone and stop asking so many damn questions about your life that you really don't want to give answers to. It didn't completely change you, you just adapted. You're still just as stubborn."
"You've come to know me well," he says softly, mildly surprised. I bet he's wondering just how much Lucy has told me over the years, and wondering if she's picked up on what I've said, too.
"Better than you think," I answer. "Because I've been there, I am there. The only reason I don't talk to shrinks anymore is because Dad stopped my grandparents from paying as soon as I told them about Jack and Lucy. He thought talking to friends might be a better alternative. But it wasn't and they gave up. I hate talking about my life and my personal problems, because they're mine to know, not there's."
"Then why are you making me?" Louis demands, pleading.
"Because it's eating away at you and I can't bring myself to ignore it anymore," I admit. Then I give him the one thing I know he'll listen to; the ultimatum. It's pretty much the only chance I've got, and after last week, it's also the riskiest. "You called me an idiot because I didn't talk to you about what I heard. I didn't talk to you because I was afraid and upset and her words put ideas in my head, ideas that I can't help but still believe. I'm trying, but you're not doing the same. I couldn't leave you then, but if you don't follow your own advice and talk to me then what choice do we have?"
"You won't do it," Louis tells me quietly, but with so much confidence in his words that I know he won't believe anything else. "Because you love me, you're just not ready to admit it yet."
"And did you ever stop to think why?"
He didn't. He does now. Neither of us speak, I just wait for him, my heart beating madly. Louis has to understand now. "He means nothing to me," he finally says.
"I know that, I do. But he hurt you, I know that as well. And it's all you seem to think about. It is, isn't it?" He doesn't answer me, I knew he wouldn't.
Knowing him like I do, listening to and gathering every single detail I have about Louis from anyone who'll tell me, he's trying to put his Ravenclaw thinking cap on and figure out exactly how I could have known that. He keeps himself sounding so normal when he's near me, I'm actually a little surprised when my sources provide me with this information. Aparrently I'm the only one left he might talk to.
Well, we'll see, won't we?
"Fuck, Kyle," he says to himself.
"Partly right," I concede. "Kyle and Luka, Lucy and Jack, your family, the seventh year Ravenclaws, some of the kids you tutor and, God, even Tyler has asked me. Well, actually he was being mean, saying I'd be lucky if I got you to talk about this. You've left quite an impression at this school; the one who flipped a switch and changed overnight. No, adapted."
When he doesn't answer to that, I continue, making this up as I go along really. Helping people is just not my forte. I won't be making a living out of it.
"You think about that and him and you try so hard not to let it happen again that you can't let it go. And if you can't let it go, you're just going to compare me to him, you can't help it and now I can't help it. How am I meant to tell you how I feel if I'm constantly worried that you're going to leave because you're constantly worried that I'll end up like him?"
I take a deep breath and finish my end of this talk, the reason I decided this all had to be laid out and talked about whether he liked it or not. "So, in answer to your question the other day and to the one in the library this afternoon, no. I'm not ready to have sex with you. Now you know why."
It's all up to Louis now and I can only hope that he finally talks because if he hates the thought of telling me so much that he walks out and doesn't come back, I won't know what to do. I can't find him, and I don't try to, there's only so much space you can give a person when you're having a talk like this. This can be his.
His touch on my cheek is too soft to startle me, just one cautious finger, which then becomes his palm. "Why did you do this?"
"Because you'd do the same," I shrug. "You'd sit me down and make me tell you everything. Especially after last week. I learned from the best."
"I thought it seemed familiar," he jokes. "I'm a hypocrite." I bring my thumb and forefinger together, leaving a small gap between them; just a little, I'm saying. Louis rests his forehead on mine and for a moment I think he's going to kiss me and try to distract me again, but instead he moves momentarily to leave the kiss on my head, then resumes his previous position. "I lied."
"Specify," I gently prompt. "You lie quite a bit, you know? But it all seems connected to this, so I'll forgive you."
"His name is Ellis Molyneux and I loved him." Louis pushes back, moves around, but stays in front of me. "At least I thought I did. It wasn't a fling for me, I told him that I loved him and he said it back. But he dumped me when summer was over. I was going back to Hogwarts for sixth year and he'd just turned eighteen, had graduated from Beauxbatons Academy. He didn't want a relationship, he didn't want me. I wasn't... Good enough."
Louis spits out that last part like it's some sort of disease. It explains so much; how he reacted to his grandmother's argument, why he still won't talk to her, why he was so angry when he found out my plan and upset when I told him what I'd been thinking. It must have brought those feelings back.
"I was sixteen years old, too hurt to let it go and too stubborn to accept that he was just a dick," he continues softly, painfully. "People kept asking what was wrong, but I just couldn't deal with them. One day, my aunt asked me to do something for her thinking I'd argue about it, because I'd just picked up my book, but I did it without question. I realized helping with other people's problems distracted me from my own, and I needed a distraction, so I didn't stop. I got involved in school, tutored, took my prefect duties seriously, anything to not have to think about him."
Louis pauses and is back to standing right in front of me, the soft jerk of my tie tells me he's fiddling with the end. "During the summer, Vicki had me follow her to her old room, saying she wanted my help with something. It turned out to be an intervention, much like this, with her and Dom. They demanded to know what happened the year before and it all came back. I couldn't control my emotions even then and I actually started crying, I hadn't cried since he left me, and I told them everything, made them promise not to say a word and leave me alone. That didn't like that, but they promised and they got ice cream and they dragged me out to sit on the beach, talked about everything."
"They sound like pretty amazing siblings."
"The best, most of the time," Louis replies, the second part a joke, I think. "I hate him now, it's the only feeling I have for him, I swear. I felt like he ruined me at the time, he seemed to have destroyed me to the point where everything I touched became ruined. He left me - how did you describe it last week? Broken."
"It's the worst feeling in the world." He agrees. Whispers that now I know everything. I hope that's true. "Feel better now that you've actually talked about it?"
"No," he says slowly. I assume his hesitation is because he doesn't want to hurt my feelings. "Last week has just brought it all back and talking about it has made me relive it." I apologize for that, but not for him telling me. "Maybe you knowing will help eventualy," he says, his tone far from hopeful.
Well, I'll just have to make sure it does.
"It will," I promise.
"Since when did you become the rational one?"
"When you went all weird. Now I know why," I reply, grabbing his own tie to pull him closer and find his mouth.
He's happy to return it, to take his mind off of what he told me, until my hand slips under his shirt. Then he pulls away slightly. "I shouldn't have tried to distract you that way, I apologize."
"I was perfectly okay with it until you lied about someone being in the room."
"Jack was just getting a textbook, he was in and out," Louis defends himself quickly. So, it was Jack. I should thank him; he got my mind back on task. "I'm sorry for that, too."
I forgive him and try to kiss him again. Just to kiss him, he deserves at least that distraction. He still pulls back, further this time. "I'm exhausted and you've shot me down twice today, so I'm going to take a shower and go to bed. I'm very glad we didn't do anything tonight, on the couch anyway what with your dorm mates all upstairs. I'll make it up to you, I promise."
"How?" I ask, intrigued.
"Get changed on Friday, something smart, and I'll come for you at seven. It's a surprise," he says when I ask where.
Louis' gone before I know it and I'm all alone. I lie along the couch; I know now. He finally told me. I never thought I'd hate someone as much as I hate this guy. Ellis Molyneux.
How the hell do I know that name?
Friday doesn't come fast enough. I used to have so much patience, now I can't stand not knowing something when Louis says it's a surprise. I used to not care, because I couldn't see them anyway. Now, surprises suck.
The only times I was able to not think about this surprise was when I was thinking about Louis, more specifically how he was after our talk. He made it hard to do by always being around, I didn't want to upset him more by talking about it to him. So, I talked to Lucy. She and Jack promised they didn't overhear, nor did they let anyone else, but she says that she sees the tiniest of improvements in him; he's not acting as weird as he was all week and there's something about him in general, she just can't put her finger on it, but talking helped and now she thinks she can have the old Louis again. The one who was laid-back and always fun and was always saying no. Except to her, of course. But they're the same age, grew up together, he'll always do a- most things of Lucy. Let's stick to most things.
Old Louis sounds like a bratty teenager who needs to be taught a lesson. I don't like how adapted Louis came to be, but he is quite nice and he's the Louis I know, so I hope some of adapted Louis stays.
He's still unsure that talking about it will help, but he's trying. I hope whatever this is tonight helps him, too.
"I can't take much more of this," I say suddenly.
"He said to look smart," Jack starts slowly. I nod. "So, you're going out, like Hogsmeade?"
"To the lake?"
"Do you know anything?"
"Not a freaking clue."
"Maybe you should ask Luka," Kyle mutters from my right. "Since you're doing so well at getting him to talk."
"Careful, Raven. Sarcasm will earn you a punch in the face," I state. I will get them talking; Luka is harder to make come around than I realized. In his own words; Kyle dumped him, not the other way around, so Kyle should do the talking.
Given why Kyle did the dumping, I'm not going to tell him this; thoughts of what he might do where not good.
I pull on my jacket sleeve and make my way back to the common room door. I swear I hear footsteps, my watch says it's one minute past seven. Please be Louis.
The door opens and I smell his aftershave. Thank God.
"I'm not late," Louis laughs. Did say it out loud? Oops. "Ready to go?"
"Depends on where we're going?"
"It's here in school," is all he says, taking my hand. "Come on."
I say good bye to my friends and follow, wondering where he could possibly be taking me that's here. We go up staircases and along corridors and we seem to walk forever, although I know it's not really that long, until he stops and it finally hits me. There's only one place in this school which could be private, used for a date or, say, painting.
The Room of Requirement.
I hear the wall move and Louis open a door and he leads me inside. I smell food, that's the very first thing I notice, and there is music playing, background noise. Louis let's go of my hand and leaves me to walk across the room. I take careful steps and keep my hands out, staying lose by. I don't know where he put everything.
"I asked the house elves very nicely if they'd make something."
Explains the food and the fact that he told me we weren't having dinner in the Great Hall tonight. But I thought he was just going to take some from the hall and bring it out. Not this. Wow.
My hand touches something hard, metal, round and long. I follow it down and find something soft and familiar. Sheets. "Is this a bed?"
I sit down and jump. Yeah, definitely a bed.
"Don't jump to conclusions, I asked for a room for two people to be alone and the bed came with it," he explains quickly. "I tried again and it only added the table to eat. I think I said something wrong, but I won't try again; the food is here and I don't want anything to happen to it."
I spread my hands over the sheets; they really are so soft. I lean back a little. "Play your cards right and we might get to use it."
I swear, he thanks the room.
"Yeah, I could definitely fall asleep in this bed."
"Don't take my unscheduled hope away from me." He pulls me up. "Let's eat."
The food is my second favorite meal in the world and number one here at Hogwarts; roast beef with roast potatoes and peas, covered in gravy. It's like a Sunday dinner, only on a weekday. Louis must be really trying to make up for wanting to distract me the other day if he's asked the house elves to make this for me; he usually complains about me eating too much. You can never have too much roast beef. "This is delicious. Drink?"
I cup my hand, holding it out for Louis to push my drink into it. "Just water this time, since you don't drink pumpkin juice. And I thought you'd like it." He refers to the food. After a few moments of silence, during which I feel his eyes watching me, he speaks again. "Thank you."
I make sure I swallow the piece of beef before I speak; this feels like an important moment and shouldn't be ruined by me spitting pieces of food everywhere. I mean, eww. "For what?"
"For the intervention. You were right; I probably wouldn't have told you at all, told myself that current boyfriends never want to hear about old boyfriends -"
"Usually true. Sorry," I say straight away, once I realize I've interrupted him.
"If anything were to happen that would break us up, it would have been that." He takes my hand, squeezes and let's go again. "Nothing else, I promise you that."
"Have you spoken to your grandmother yet?"
"Nope," Louis answers without a moments hesitation. He's being stubborn again, despite the waver I heard in his voice. But he's done this before, refused to speak to a family member; he didn't speak to Fred for a month once. I'm not entirely sure why.
"Are you going to any time soon?"
"You can't be mad at her forever," I try to reason.
"I don't forgive her for what she said yet. I understand why you want me to, but this is just something that I have to deal with."
"So, you're going to be stubborn?"
"Yep. Don't think about it, enjoy your night."
I nod and agree and I don't think about his problems. Louis's right, he knows how I feel about it, but this one is his problem. It's his family; he'll come around in his own time. I only hope it's soon because I know how he feels about his family. I don't know how he does it, I don't think I could ever not talk to my family. They'd have to do something really bad... Maybe this is what's Louis' thinking for this.
Crap. I'm thinking about it.
Louis laughs at me and I throw a pea at him, wondering what expressions I could have pulled. We go back to dinner, talking about random things and normal things and feeling better than we have in a while.
A/N: Because it is now officially my birthday here in the UK, I wanted to post this to celebrate with y'all. :D
I'll let you guess what's going to happen in the next chapter... ;)
I hope you enjoy and wans to hug Louis for finally telling Ciaran the truth. Now he knows everything. Feel free to hate Ellis... And wonder how Ciaran knows his name. Please let me know what you think. :)
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