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Wayward Son by La Klap

Format: Novel
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 76,402
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Angst, Young Adult
Characters: OC
Pairings: OC/OC, Draco/Pansy, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 10/20/2006
Last Chapter: 04/10/2008
Last Updated: 04/10/2008

(Credit for the banner goes to the wonderful Alora.)
HPFF Recommended Story March 2007

Unwanted, unexpected and nearly unborn, but he's ignorant of it all. Join Draco Malfoy's son in an emotional rollercoaster ride through Hogwarts, starting in his fifth year, until he confronts his father. Does his father consider him a son? Or not a person at all? (not compatible with the DH epilogue)

Chapter 9: Chapter Seven: How A Heart Breaks

Disclaimer: Everything you recognise belongs to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. I thank her for being allowed to play with her characters and create my own little world with them. The name ‘Alucard’ was inspired by the Castlevania game series, but the character is in no way connected to them.

Author's Notes: I apologise for the long wait - I lost contact with my beta and waited far too long instead of just putting this up for you all. I'm sorry, and I hope the length of this chapter will make up for it.


Chapter Seven

I'm sorry but it's not a mistake
And I'm running but you're getting away

Rob Thomas - This is How a Heart Breaks


The food served at this year's Christmas feast was even better than usual. Everyone, even the Slytherins, seemed to be in a joyful mood and there was not a frown to be seen as I looked around the Great Hall. Twelve Christmas trees stood proudly along the space of the room, decorated with aid of much more advanced Charms than I could ever hope of achieving. The Slytherin table was adorned with a green tablecloth with silver dens embroidered on. It looked quite lovely.

"Alan, could you please pass me the chips?"

I put down my chicken leg and moved a bowl of chips over to Theresa Greystone, who was the only Slytherin in my year – not counting me, of course – staying over for Christmas. She was sitting about three seats down and as I passed over the requested food, she nodded tightly. "Thanks."

Theresa and I had never really talked to each other before this holiday, as she was rather closed off and aloof. But as we didn't know too many people who were around now, we just started sitting with each other and finished our holiday assignments together. Still, I kind of missed my roommates when I went back to the dormitory and had to sleep in complete silence, without Isaac's snoring, Richard's multiple trips to the toilet and Derek's frequent tossing. But Theresa couldn't very well sleep in their place, could she?

Just as I picked up my roasted chicken leg again and tore off a strap with my teeth, Daisy Macmillan sank into the empty seat next to me and nicked a few peas from my plate. She then proceeded trying to get them in her mouth by throwing them in the air and attempting to catch them on her tongue. Most of them ended up bouncing on her nose or chin, though. It looked ridiculous.

"Did you run out of peas at the Hufflepuff table?" I asked grumpily after swallowing my chicken. "Because really, I'm not in the mood to talk to you." Three seats down, Theresa was slowly lowering a chip from her mouth, sending apprehensive glances our way.

Daisy bit her lip, rolling the last of peas in her palm. "I just came to – you know – apologise." She took a deep breath. "Look, I'm really sorry I didn't keep my mouth shut about Louisa and you. Honestly. I – I should never have told my friends about it." She looked downcast, rubbing the pea faster between her palms. She did not see my eyebrows, raised in surprise. "It's just – I know it must've been mortifying. And if I hadn't said anything, her brother wouldn't have had any reason to call you over in that corridor and you would never have said such rude things about her." She met my gaze, a guilty look crossing her face. "So I'm sorry."

I blinked a few times, unsure how to react to this. It had already been a week since that particular incident, and to be frank, the lack of reaction surprised me. I had expected whispering, mutters behind my back, angry glances in the hallways, but none of that happened. Life simply went on as normal. Even Louisa hadn't acted any different – not that I had talked to her yet, but I planned to as soon as she came back from her family. She needed to know I hadn't meant it like that, and I was quite confident that she would see reason.

In fact, the only true damage the rumour had caused – and that was what everybody dismissed it by, a rumour – was that I had lost Philip Clambert's trust. The first year had never sought me out for a face-to-face, but instead he now walked into the other direction when I approached, instead of running towards me. But that was my own bloody fault for not looking out who was around when I said certain stuff. It was like admitting that other women were quite fit in the presence of your girlfriend.

Daisy was still awaiting my reaction. I looked her over. She was a Hufflepuff – loyal and honest. She hadn't meant any harm.

I shrugged casually. "Oh, all right. You're forgiven."

She grinned widely and tossed the last pea up. It fell right into her mouth. After she swallowed and I had finished my mock-applause, she said: "Well, now my conscience is cleared..." I expected her to leave me to my dinner again, but she started talking instead. Figures.

After about fifteen minutes of hearing stories about all her classmates and professors, and just as she was about to launch into a raging tale about Professor Potter as I patiently finished my kidney pie, Theresa slid into the seat opposite of me. Yes, I had been sitting alone, like a loner.

She smiled: a rare occurrence. "Getting chatted up there, Alan?"

Daisy's jaw dropped. "I'm not chatting him up!" she said indignantly as Theresa and I laughed. "I'm cheering him up, something totally different."

"How old is she?" Theresa asked me as if Daisy weren't there, her expression slowly sliding back into that stony facade she always kept up. "She doesn't look much older than twelve... How do you know her?"

"I'm already fourteen, for your information," Daisy said before I could answer, puffing out her chest a little bit as if to prove she was no longer a pre-teen. "And I'm Derek Nott's girlfriend, so that's how I know Alan."

"Certainly," I admitted, inclining my head. Trying to change the subject, I quickly added: "Now, what were you going to tell me next?"

"I'm not going to. It's not like you listen, anyway."

"Well, you seemed to be doing just fine holding your own conversation," I said, which was true – my responses of 'oh', 'mmh', and 'I see' had always appeared to encourage her enough to talk another five minutes.

Daisy huffed and turned to Theresa again, as if she was determined to ignore me from now on. "Anyway," she said, "I am grooming him for a girl in my year, that's why I'm telling him so much about my class."

I started and got a violent coughing fit, choking on my last bite of kidney pie. When I caught my breath again, wiping at my eyes, I saw Daisy with a broad and satisfied grin on her face. Theresa's mouth was slightly agape, and she was looking at Daisy with disbelief etched into her features.

"You what?" I asked her weakly, thumping myself on the collarbone to get the kidney out of my air pipe.

Daisy smiled. "I told you about her just now – Anna Copperfield. She's a Ravenclaw in my year, remember? She's really, really smart – I had a few projects with her and she made me feel so ignorant. She ended up doing everything herself. Anyway, she's got a bit of a crush on you."

"Really," I muttered, envisioning someone as hyperactive and talkative as Daisy, following me all over the place while giggling hysterically. "Could you point her out?"
"Sure." Daisy scanned the Ravenclaw table, which was by far the busiest table in the Hall this Christmas. "Eh... oh, look. There, you see?" She pointed at a very petite girl sitting at the end of the table, facing away from us. Her wavy black hair was reaching her waistline and the Ravenclaw next to her was at least a foot taller, but otherwise there wasn't much that I could see of her.

"Goodness. She'll look like a midget next to you."

I turned to Theresa, who was regarding the girl with a look of pity. "Excuse me?"
"Don't you see? She's five feet, tops. You're over six, I bet. You'll tower over her."
I shrugged. "Oh."

"Great!" Daisy exclaimed, clapping her hands. "Does this mean I can set a date for her with you?"

Startled, I asked: "How did you get to that conclusion?"

"You didn't object or otherwise comment on the fact that she has a crush on you. For your standards, that means it is fine."

I scoffed and stood up, as we had just been dismissed by McGonagall. When we left the Hall, I exchanged glances with Theresa, watching Daisy skip to the stairs that led to the cellars. "Wait a second," I mumbled to Theresa and jogged up to the Hufflepuff. "Hey, Daisy."

She turned around, smiling. "Yes?"

"When do you suppose this..." I made a throw-away gesture with my hand, trying to appear casual, "date, as you call it, will happen?" My heart drummed against my ribcage with nerves – it had been quite a while ago since the last time I had been on a date with a girl. Not to mention I had dated only one girl, namely Sally.

"There's a Hogsmeade weekend on programme, two weeks after break," Daisy volunteered, now rocking back and forth on her heels. "Do you want me to tell Anna? I think she'll get some kind of breakdown if you suddenly walked up to her one day – she's really shy, that's why she didn't have the guts to come over and talk to you herself, in case you were wondering."

"Aha," I said, shuffling my feat. "But then – how do you know? I mean, she's not in your House."

"No," she admitted, "but we're pretty good friends. And it was so very obvious she liked you, I had to do something about it."

"Oh?" I enquired. "So she doesn't know you are doing this?"

"You have got to be kidding," Daisy said, snorting. "If she knew, she'd kill me. I mean really. Anyway..." She looked over her shoulder at the small huddle of Hufflepuffs that was now walking past us. "I should go."

"Okay. Goodnight." I offered her a small smile.

"Sleep tight," she said, and turned around to descend the stairs to her common room. I made my way back to Theresa and together we walked down to our own. As soon as the entrance promptly disappeared behind us, Theresa went over to the couch in front of the fireplace and sat down. I gingerly took place next to her, feeling some of the loose springs digging into my legs.

For a few minutes, we kept quiet, simply staring into the fire as the few Slytherins that had stayed over the holidays entered the common room and immediately went down to their respective dormitories. I absently started fumbling with the pendant that was still hanging around my neck, still wondering whose it originally was.

"So," Theresa commented, attempting to string up a conversation, "you've got a date with that little girl?"

"Apparently," I muttered, leaving the pendant alone and scratching my head.
Theresa smiled again, leaning back against the back of the couch. I had seen her smile more this evening than the previous four and a half year packed together. "Well, at least we can't bother you about Sally anymore." She was grinning now. Her teeth shone an eerie orange in the light coming from the fireplace.

"Uh." I hated not being able to come up with something intelligent in response.
"It's all right," she said, shrugging. "I don't think that would have worked out, anyway."
I felt my ears colouring. "Well, err, thank you."

"No problem." She yawned and clapped her hand in front of her mouth as she stretched her legs and put her feet on top of the side-table in front of us. "Anyway, I don't know her. Anna Copperfield, I mean," she explained when I sent her a confused look. "She's a bit young for you, if you ask me."

"Perhaps," I agreed, shifting a bit to get more comfortable, "but Derek's been with Daisy – someone Anna’s age – for a while and they don't seem to have a problem with that. And I'm not even sure if I want to date her – we might not get along, for all I know."

"True," Theresa admitted. She rearranged the clip that kept her hair from falling in her eyes. "But Derek's a fool, and Daisy seems too naive to me. I doubt they both expect this relationship they have to last, deep in their hearts." She sighed. "I know he's your best mate and all, but Derek hardly is the type to hang around with a young girl for a few years. I wonder if something's up."

I chose not to comment and bit on the inside of my cheek instead. It wasn't any of my business what went on in Derek's relationships, and certainly not any of Theresa's. I decided to change the topic.

"What did you think about our game against Ravenclaw last week?"

Theresa frowned for a split second, but went along with me. "We won. What more is there to say?"

"There were quite some fouls, weren't there?"

"Yes." She nodded. "Though I never understood the rule about stooging. My great-grandfather says he loved it when he was a little boy. What's so wrong about having three Chasers in the goal area?"

"Well," I said, trying to recall what I had read about that particular offence, "it is a tactic once allowed where two of the Chasers would ram the opposing Keeper aside so the third Chaser could score a goal."

Theresa snorted. "Sounds like a textbook definition to me."

"That would be because it is."

"Yeah, sure. Anyway, I think our players were a bit exhausted, and that's because they broke the rules so much. I mean, we had that match against Gryffindor just last month! They hardly had time to train. All because those badgers had a few unfit players."
I couldn't suppress a smile. "If 'a few' means 'five of the required seven' in your neck of the woods, then I completely agree."

Just then, the entrance to our common room burst open again and Aiden walked in, laughing loudly with some classmate of his by his side. Theresa and I met each other's gaze and simultaneously raised our eyebrows. Laughter was hardly ever heard in the Slytherin common room, and never was the source of disruption a prefect. Well, until now.

"Did you see his face?" the unknown sixth year guffawed. "Too bad that lousy excuse for a professor had to show up and take all those bloody points. We could've gone on and on!"

Aiden snickered, and I winced inwardly at this pathetic display of immaturity. "Yeah, I know. Damn." He laughed again. Then he spotted us. "Hey Dave, look what we've got here!"

His companion giggled – actually giggled - and followed that up with: "Oops. D'you reckon we've interrupted something, Aiden?"

"Have you two been drinking?" Theresa asked in a bored tone. She had gotten out a comb and was raking it through her hair. Her face, however, was placid and her eyes were half-shut. She certainly didn't look amused.

While Aiden stumbled over to us, his friend hiccupped. "Damn right we have, huh? Wanna join us next time, lassie?" I was left to admire Theresa's ability to ignore him.

"Where have you been?" I asked annoyed as Aiden gripped the armrest of the couch. His breath smelled like something other than Butterbeer. “Didn’t you have to be in the Great Hall for the Christmas feast?”

"Three Broomsticks," he breathed in my face. "Had Firewhiskey. It burns, Alucard, you wouldn't believe –"

"How did you get there?" I interrupted, peering into my brother's slightly unfocused grey eyes while the other sixth year staggered towards the dormitories. "You're not allowed to go to Hogsmeade outside the specific weekends!"

"There was this thing in Potter's office – anyway," he went on, apparently not having heard my reprimand or simply not caring. It could have been both options. "I just wanted to say to you that that stuff you said to Rosario was really, really cool. You're my favourite brother." With that, he turned and managed to leave the room with slightly more dignity than his classmate.

There was a pregnant silence in the air for a while, until Theresa made a disgusted sound and shoved her comb back into one of her pockets. "I don't believe this. They think it's funny to break the rules, get completely pissed and bother other people... never mind some of them hate alcohol with a passion... silly boys..." She broke off her mutterings to look at me. "Promise to me you won't ever do that, okay?"

I held up my hands in mock-surrender. "Yes, Mother."

She sighed and looked away. "It's not funny."

I slowly lowered my hands again. "Do you have something to say?"

She quickly shook her head. "No. No, I'll just..." She stood up to leave, but when she had walked half across the room, she hurried back. "Actually, I have something to ask you."

I looked up. "Yes?"

"Did you really like that Muggleborn girl? I mean really, honestly like her?"

The question jumped on me like an irritating bug would. "No," I said immediately, even though I knew the speed of my reaction was suspicious. "It was just a rumour. Just a rumour. Really."

"Oh," she answered. A trace of disappointment lingered in her voice, and made me perk up my ears.

"How so?"

"It's just –" I turned around to see her pull a pained expression, mingled with sympathy. "I just thought it was kind of cute." She hastily walked away and descended to her dormitory. Her echoing footsteps slowly faded into silence.

I moaned and put my head in my hands.


On the last day of the Christmas holidays our classmates returned. After having checked if their trunks had arrived safely, both Isaac and Derek left the dormitory for dinner whilst Richard stayed to unpack. I was languidly sprawled on my four-poster, watching on as Richard removed some of his possessions from his trunk. He threw me several annoyed looks, presumably because he wanted me to leave, but I stayed where I was, too lazy to get up and go to dinner as well.

"Stop looking at me already," Richard snapped finally as he carefully stacked his sketchbooks on his nightstand.

"No," I answered, yawning, quickly covering my mouth with both of my hands.
Richard made a weird, spastic motion with his arm, wearing a scowl on his face. "Piss off, Alan."

"And why would I do that?" I drawled, rolling onto my side and stretching my long frame so it covered the length of the bed. The mattress groaned in protest.

"Because you're annoying the hell out of me." Richard kneeled to his trunk's level again and pulled some books out. "Christ, if you have the inexplicable urge to have your face lying in this direction, at least close your curtains or something, will you?"

I shook my head, which Richard didn't see as he had his back turned towards me. Seeing him handling a large assortment of drawing quills, I thought of the little sketchbook I had purchased with Richard in Hogsmeade. It was probably collecting dust in my trunk by now. "Hey, Fammet," I said, sitting upright.

He sighed and turned to me, looking irritated. "What."

"When were you going to teach me how to draw again?"

"I wasn't. How so?"

"Dunno." I stood up and started digging through my trunk, trying to find the little booklet. "Here, I'll just take out this thing we bought in Diagon Alley last time and –"

"I can't teach you how to draw, Alan," Richard said, flopping onto his own bed. "You can stop looking."

I looked up. "What do you mean, you can't teach me? Come on, you can just tell me what to do and I'll mimic your style –"

"No." Richard held up his hand, stopping my little rant. "Mate, if I could, I'd gladly do it for you. However, I can't teach you how to draw. First, I don't know how to do that. Second, it's much easier to develop your own style instead of mimicking others. I can only give you pointers, really, like what worked for me."

"Fine," I said, peeved. I couldn't find the bloody sketchbook anyway and it wasn’t like I wanted to draw. "Can I at least look at some of your drawings?"

"Well... err..."

I frowned, narrowing my eyes slightly. Richard suddenly fumbled awkwardly with his hands, his eyes flashing back and forth between the sketchbooks on his nightstand and me, sitting about six feet away. After a few seconds, he hastily grabbed his sketchbooks and held them protectively against his chest. "No, you can't."

"But –"

"Drawings are private, Alan. Not that I expect you to understand. You can't draw." Richard walked over to his trunk and put the large stack of paper in, almost tenderly, and closed his trunk with a thump.

"So?" I inquired, more than a little annoyed. "What, you think I'll laugh at them or something?"

"I don't care if you laugh at them. They're still private and I only share them with my closest friends or family. You belong in neither category."

Despite that comment hurting a little, I knew it was true. We weren't exactly friends, by any means. I had always tried to involve Richard in the conversations the rest of us had about family gatherings and the like – as a half blood, he never really got to participate. However, though he seemed to appreciate the thought, he never talked with us and after a while (I think it was somewhere in third year) I had stopped asking if he wanted to join us. Isaac hadn't seemed to mind – he and Richard had never really gotten along, mostly because of the blood differences Isaac saw between Richard and us.

Richard sighed and dropped onto his bed again. "Look, it's just like you and your piano. If somebody asked you to teach him how to play, or wanted to hear every single piece you ever mastered, would you do it?"

I opened my mouth to say Yes, of course, but then the doubts crept in. Would I? I didn't fancy myself a teacher, let alone a great one. I probably wouldn't have the patience to mentor somebody. And on the fact of playing for someone... well, I only did that on big events, like the Easter Ball at Malfoy Manor. My stomach lurched. I wasn't looking forward to that.

I settled on just shrugging. "I guess not."

Richard nodded, then looked like he had to suppress a huge yawn. "How was your Christmas?" he asked finally, leaning back on his elbows.

"Cool," I said, laying down on my bed again and tucking an arm under my head. "The feast was nice, not too many people... I finished my holiday assignments... yeah, nothing much happened. How about at your place?"

"Oh, we went to visit my grandparents' gra–" He abruptly cut off his sentence and quickly straightened up again. "We did nothing."

"Who is 'we'?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. "And why did you stop talking? Think I don't know what a graveyard is?"

"Shut up," he snapped, standing up. "With 'we' I meant my family, you moron. Which is practically non-existent, thanks to yours."

Dumbstruck, I stared at him, my mouth slightly open with astonishment. Insults and accusations usually flew around the dormitory all day long, but they were generally good-natured and rarely said with such venom as Richard just had. He had his back turned to me again, his posture stiff, and was fluffing up his pillow. I slowly sat up. "Turn around and say that to my face, arsehole."

"You – no – don't – YOU HAVE NO RIGHT!" he suddenly shouted, twisting around and launching himself on me across the room. Before I could defend myself he had slammed his fist into my face, right on the nose. Then the next blow came, on the jaw. I winced, too stunned to fight back.

"Stop –"

Another fist smacked me against the mouth, and when it retreated I tasted the disgusting iron taste of blood. My hands tried to get hold of Richard’s wrists to stop him from attacking me. He managed to punch me on the nose one more time before I was able to throw him off.

As Richard stumbled backwards, I brought my hand to my face. That last punch had opened the floodgates, and I felt some warm moisture running down from my nose.
"Wha' was tha' for?" I muttered, sounding like I had a bad head cold.

"Don't you dare call me an arsehole," Richard said, his voice trembling. "You're such an entitlement bastard... you know what? I wanted to do that for a long time now. You're bloody annoying, that's what you are. You're just too damn nosy for your own good. Idiot." Then he came over to me. "Well, let me see that."

My face burned with humiliation. What did he expect – that I would let him help me after he'd put me down verbally and physically? All I did was ask a question. He was the one who didn't have any right.

I impassively kept my hand in front of my face. "I'll manage just fine, thank you."

"Jesus Christ, Alan, this is what I mean! Step off your high horse for once."

I simply stood up and walked to the bathroom. Inside, I removed my hand when in front of the mirror. I swallowed uneasily at the sight that met me.

Some of the blood was already dry and starting to darken, but it looked terrible against my very pale skin and made my injury look ten times worse than it actually was. The blood that had escaped from my lip was still red and trickling down from the corner of my mouth, making me look like some kind of vampire. As Richard came in I hastily wiped it off.

"Oh my God," Richard whispered. I met his gaze in the mirror, but he quickly looked away. "You look like – err –"

"Like crap?" I asked, turning on the water taps. Richard stayed silent as I rinsed my hands and face, so I took that as a yes. When I dared to look at myself again, the only things that were evident of the fight were a dark bruise on the side of my jaw and a slightly bigger nose.

"Well," I said, stepping back, "no harm done. Are you coming to dinner with me?"
"I – yes, yes, of course," Richard said, accepting the silent peace offering. "You don't have to stop by the Infirmary?"

I shook my head and wiped my hands on the towel next to the sink. "I'll be fine." When I made way to the dormitory again, Richard awkwardly coughed.

I turned around. "What's wrong?"

"Err – I was just wondering what you were wearing. You know, around your neck. I never thought of you as a necklace kind of bloke."

My hand automatically went up and clenched around the pendant that was safely hanging against my breastbone. I really should keep the sodding thing better hidden. "It – it was a birthday gift. I like it." I narrowed my eyes. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh," Richard said, "nothing important. I was just wondering." He was getting his aloof air back now, the shock of the sudden fight having worn off. "Shall we go? There will be nothing left for us otherwise."

"Sure, sure," I muttered, almost dashing out of the dormitory as I muffled the pendant away under my robes again. I couldn't wait to eat and have an excuse to stop talking to Richard. This was just too awkward. "Let's go."


Drum. Drum. Drum.

Tap tap tap.

Drum. Drum. Drum.

I watched as Sally slowly laced up her boots, getting prepared for our weekly patrol in the corridors. We had received orders from the Head Girl some time ago, and the fifth year Ravenclaw prefects, who would also be walking around, had just left the Prefects' Lounge. I was getting rather impatient. The longer we waited with getting out of here, the later I would be able to sleep. I still had loads of homework to do, and frankly, I thought that was much more important than grabbing some rule-breaking student out of bed after hours.

Drum. Drum. Drum.

Tap tap tap.

Drum. Drum. Drum.

"Alan, please stop doing that already," Sally snapped exasperatedly, tying up her laces and putting her robes over them. She then started with the other boot. I sighed and started doodling on a piece of parchment someone had left on the large oak table we were sitting at.

The Prefects' Lounge wasn't actually a lounge, to be honest. It was as big as a classroom, and it just fit the twenty-five of us authority-holding students (give or take a few – there always were some people who didn't show up, I had noticed) when the Head Boy and Girl held conferences with all the prefects. Outside of those, we only had to report here for patrol, but we could also sit down at the main table and do homework, even though it technically wasn't allowed (which was why it was usually disguised as 'discussing prefect duties'). However, the most common use for the room was to use it as a private snogging place, as it was often empty during the day and only prefects knew the password.

A sound of clack, clack, clack informed me of the fact that the Head Girl was approaching, so I quickly turned over the doodle I had been scribbling down. I didn't think she would have appreciated a drawing of a beheaded person, not in the least because I had helpfully captioned it 'Longbottom'.

"Are you two set? Come on now, the other two left fifteen minutes ago. You're messing up the timetable." She glanced at her wristwatch. "If you leave now, I won't report it. Otherwise I'll have to put you in another evening."

I jumped up and stretched my legs, not wanting to be deprived of another evening in which I could have been catching up on assignments. Sally suddenly sped up with her progress, convincing me she had just dawdled to tick me off. In ten seconds she was up and ready to go.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" she said chirpily, re-pinning her prefect's badge to her robes so it was clearly visible.

"Throw that away, please," the Head Girl said to me, pointing at the piece of parchment still on the table. "Then you'll be free to go."

I crumpled the doodle and threw it into the wastepaper basket we passed on the way out. The Head Girl smiled and opened the exit for us. "I'll be waiting for you. You will report back half past ten sharp, okay? Any later and you could get into trouble." I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Did she think we'd never done this before? We weren't thick or anything just because we weren't in Ravenclaw.

Despite this annoyance, Sally and I both nodded and stepped out of the Lounge. The centaur-shaped statue concealing the entrance slid back into place, into a row of other statues that looked exactly like it. I often thought it was a miracle I could find it between all those duplicates. I always got rather jumpy in this corridor, what with all the arrows pointed at me. The guardian centaur narrowed his eyes, but otherwise kept perfectly still. I nervously diverted my gaze, glad I had never met an actual living centaur.

"Do we get to do the sublevels?" I asked hopefully as Sally took out the parchment with our route on it. Nobody was in the dungeons or cellars this late, so we'd generally have nobody to deal with.

"Nope," she sighed. "Third floor, fourth floor and fifth floor – the Ravenclaws got the sublevels and up until our territory." She laughed. "Honestly, I'd rather do this."

"Suppose the Head Boy and Head Girl are doing sixth and seventh?" I asked, frowning. "There's nothing up there. They sure know how to split the duties."

Sally shrugged and pocketed the parchment again. "Probably. We'll have to start by going left, according to our directions."

We set off towards the East Wing. "How was your Christmas?" I inquired politely. My voice sounded falsely casual even to my own ears, but I was trying to break the underlying current in our conversation that kept us from getting too personal.

"Oh, nothing special," she said, steering us to the right and apparently not noticing I wanted to have a conversation. We passed the Weasley Swamp, some indoor mess the two Weasleys who owned Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes had made when they were at Hogwarts. There always was a first year or two who managed to trap themselves in at the beginning of the year.

"I wonder why they never removed that thing," I muttered to Sally, pointing at the swamp over my shoulder.

"Because it's a good piece of magic," she replied. "I think it's pretty cool. Have you seen all the plants that grow in there?"

"Of course I have," I said crossly, annoyed with her pleasant tone. "I go to school here too, you know."

We passed the prefects' bathrooms and we both lapsed into silence after my last remark. After looking around the whole fifth floor and finding nothing out of place, we went down to the forth floor, where we were immediately granted the sight of two cats in the middle of a mating ritual. Well, the male – a very large and overly fluffy orange one – was trying to jump the female, which was twice as small. Her loud screeches echoed through the corridor as the male chased her, so Sally and I quickly shooed them to go elsewhere.

"Get a room!" I called after them as they scampered down a narrow staircase.

Sally rolled her eyes. "They're cats, Alan." She strode over to the Charms corridor. "Come on now, we need to check the classrooms."

I sighed and jogged over to her, as she was already opening the first door. After poking her head inside, she said: "Nope. Nothing going on here."

Suddenly we heard a loud giggle about two classrooms over. I glanced at Sally, who nodded. We dashed over to the door of the respective classroom and I pulled it open, letting Sally enter first. When I slipped into the room as well, I was faced with no other than Louisa and Longbottom. Judging by the way they were standing, they had probably been kissing seconds before. I felt something boiling hot inside of me, but Sally started talking before I could say anything.

"Well, what have we got here." She folded her arms and wore a rather smug look on her face. "Tut tut. Two lovebirds out of bed after hours. What a romantic evening is in store for you." I watched as she tapped her cheek with her finger, like she was pondering what to do. "Ah, yes, I think twenty points from Gryffindor is quite deserved. Oh, and another twenty because your hair is a mess, Longbottom. And ten more because you're sitting on my desk, Rosario."

I was about to object that wasn't really fair, so much points for a bit of kissing after hours, but after glancing at Longbottom's mussed up hair and Louisa's rather haphazard robes I decided Sally could take as many points from Gryffindor as she wanted.

Who, speaking of, had just pulled out the parchment with our route on it and turned to me. "Do you have a quill, by any chance?"

I searched my pockets and found the one I had been doodling Longbottom’s early demise with – if a bit crooked – and handed it over. "There you go. Self Inking."

Sally scribbled down Louisa Rosario and Michael Longbottom and pocketed both my quill and the parchment. "The caretaker will be hearing of this."

"Isn't it enough that you've taken points?" Longbottom said, rather thin lipped. "Why do you take so much pleasure in getting other people into trouble?"

"You got yourself into trouble," Sally retorted, drawing herself to her full length – which wasn’t that impressive, truth to be told. "Now go back to your common room. I assume you know the way. Or would you like an escort?" she added mockingly. When both Louisa and Longbottom threw her a filthy look, she laughed and turned around. "Coming, Alan?"

I smiled thinly at Longbottom, but Louisa refused to look my way and I didn't really want to face her now, anyway. I followed Sally, and said: "I'll leave the door open, hmm?" before resuming our patrol. Sally looked highly pleased with herself and even skipped a few times to express her joy.

When we were on the way back to report we were done, we were held up by somebody calling for us. "Hey, you two!"

The female Ravenclaw prefect, Rowena Chandelier, ran up the stairs Sally and I had just climbed and joined us.

"What?" Sally asked, annoyed. "We're only a few corridors away from the Lounge, what's so important?"

Rowena took a few moments to catch her breath, her eyes darting accusingly between us. "You two... you slacked off, didn't you? You left way later than Callum and I. Why are we here at the same time?"

I tapped my watch. "We had to report back half past ten sharp. We haven't slacked off. I'd say you're running late."

"Never mind," Rowena said quickly, like now was not the time for mistakes to be pointed out. "What I meant to ask was what happened, you see I just met quite an angry couple the other moment and when I tried to give them detention because they were out after hours they snapped at me that they'd already been caught once." She said this all very impatiently, as if we were two particularly dim-witted students. "Was that your doing?"

I snorted inwardly. How very Longbottom to be so stupid. Why hadn't they just gone back when we had told them to? Apparently they had needed an escort.

I glanced at Sally, expecting her to lead the conversation. After all, I hadn't done a thing – technically speaking. However, my fellow prefect remained mute, her arms crossed and her eyes set on a fancy pillar nearby. This Sally was behaving quite unlike the one who had given detention and taken points without letting me get a word in edgewise, not that I had tried.

"Well?" Rowena pressed, shaking her dark red hair back.

"They were out after curfew," I answered, slightly hesitating as Rowena narrowed her eyes. She really looked quite scary like that. "I guess they didn't like us interrupting their snogging session."

"Actually," Rowena snapped, jumping at the bait. "They told me you had taken fifty points. Fifty. Do you know how much that is? They were just out after curfew; a simple fifteen points would have been more than enough."

"Are you saying it's okay to break the rules?" I asked. "I mean, 'just out' after curfew sounds like you're saying that's fine to do."

"You know what I mean." Rowena glared at me. "You're abusing your positions!

That wasn't me, that was Sally! I wanted to say, but I didn't really think that was fair. After all, I hadn't stopped her. "No, we're not," I argued instead. "We did what we thought was right. It's not our fault your standards are different."

"By the way," Sally cut in, still examining the pillar, "it really isn't any of your business what punishment we gave them. They were out after hours, like Alan said, so they shouldn't have been surprised or angered that we docked points. Or do you disagree, Chandelier?" I noticed she conveniently forgot to mention the reasons she had given the Gryffindors for the loss of points, but I refrained from commenting.

"You could have the courtesy to look at me when you try to reprimand me, Goyle," Rowena hissed. Sally locked gazes with her and for a moment the air seemed to crackle with animosity. I kept looking back and forth between the two girls, waiting for one of them to explode or something equally unlikely. Both Rowena's ruffled red hair and Sally's slightly tangled blonde locks seemed to glow eerily in the light of the nearby candles. I absently cocked my head, observing the picture. They were both really quite pretty, actually, especially now they weren't arguing their heads off.

"As prefects," Rowena continued quietly, interrupting my thoughts, "we are allowed to dock points and give detentions, yes, but we mustn’t abuse our positions. Don't even try to deny you didn't, you know I'm telling the truth. Just because they are Gryffindors does not mean that you have the right to take more than thrice as much points than usual. I'll have to report you if I find out you did it again."

"We haven't been abusing our positions," Sally whispered slyly. "Really, Chandelier, I don't know what you are getting at. Do you have a guilty conscience, perhaps? Have you abused your status? Or are you living up to your reputation as a goody two shoes Ravenclaw?"

A dark red blush crept onto Rowena's face, matching nicely with her hair colour. "If being a 'goody two shoes' means I'm not like you, then yes, I'm living up to it. And I'm rather glad I am." With that, Rowena stalked past us, her hair flying around her face as she went in the direction of the Prefects' Lounge.

There was a beat of silence in which Sally and I exchanged looks, but then we both cracked up.

"Merlin," Sally gasped, "I'm sure glad I'm not in Ravenclaw with her. Did you see that hair?"

"The hair's pretty," I managed to say.

Sally abruptly stopped laughing.

"So is yours," I added quickly, and she seemed satisfied with that. We cut a few corners on our way after Rowena, as we really had only a few minutes left. But we made it. The Head Girl took our parchment back and nodded, saying she'd give it to the caretaker.

"Excellent," Sally said, rubbing her hands as if she'd finally won the annual Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw. "Then I guess we'll leave."

"Be careful," the Head Girl said absently, still scanning the parchment.

"You'd think there are pixies flying all over Hogwarts, the way she constantly keeps warning us," Sally started as soon as we had rounded the first corner on our way back to our dormitories. "Honestly, she probably thinks we're twelve or something –"

"Perhaps no pixies, but we do have a poltergeist," I muttered, pulling Sally though a nearby door with me as Peeves approached our corridor, carrying a bucket of paint and a paintbrush. I liked to think I slipped in rather stealthily – being in Slytherin and all – but as soon as we stepped inside the space that was apparently a broom closet, I knocked over a large bucket of dirty water, spilling it all over Sally's robes and shoes. We both held our breath as Peeves darted by. He had not noticed anything, having just cackled when I stumbled.

I put the bucket upright, coughing. "Sorry."

"Indeed," Sally said, a disgusted edge to her voice. "I'll have to get these to the laundry; they're my best set! Ew." She lifted her right foot, which made a rather revolting, slurping sound – kind of like somebody eating oysters. "I am not going to walk around like this."

"Then stay here," I joked.

"Isn't there some kind of spell for this sort of stuff? Just for the time being?" she asked, ignoring what I said.

"You mean some kind of vacuum?"

She nodded.

I shook my head. "Not that I know of."

"Great," she said grumpily. "This is entirely your fault, you know."

"Of course it is." I rolled my eyes. Heaven forbid she had something to do with it. "The Prefects bathrooms are on this floor; there's usually a spare robe or two in there. Shall I come with you?"

"And watch me undress?" Sally asked, pulling a face. "Thanks for the offer."

I didn’t say that, I thought, blushing, but kept my mouth shut and settled for a shrug instead. Fine. "I'll see you later then."

Sally hitched up her robes, showing her carefully laced boots. "Ugh. You ruined my shoes too."

"Yeah, yeah," I muttered, opening the door for her. "Good luck."

"I should hope so. Bye." She tiptoed through the corridor, leaving little puddles of water in her wake. I went in the other direction, towards the dungeons, while my mind was in fact in Sally's bathroom. I grinned. A bloke could dream.


It was a bitter cold Friday morning in the middle of January when my classmates and I stood outside the greenhouses, waiting for Professor Vapor to arrive. The Hufflepuffs stood huddled together in a large group, leaning close to one another as protection against the chilly wind, whilst we Slytherins were scattered amongst the patch of muddy, slippery snow in front of Greenhouse Four. I pulled up my scarf a bit more, half tempted to wrap it around my ears against the cold, but that would have looked ridiculous so I refrained from doing so.

I glanced up the path that led to the castle, still seeing no sign of our Professor. It was not like her to be late – normally she'd be the one first in, determined to give anyone who was late detention. I shook my head and threw Derek a questionable look. He stomped his feet, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.

"What d'you reckon?" he asked, his breath forming a small cloud in the air. "Is she sick, maybe?"

"I hope so," Bridget suddenly spoke up, who had hung around us for a few minutes. Her nose was the colour of raspberries. "I still have to finish my essay for Potions due this afternoon. I mean, gosh, it has to be unreasonably long, doesn't it? I'm not even half way!" She hoisted her scarf further up her face, obscuring more than half of her face.

I slowly blew hot air on my hands, which were slightly blue. "Yeah, I had a tough time with that one yesterday. Crap, it's so cold."

"Thanks for that refreshing piece of news," Derek muttered, but then stood tiptoe so he could look over the Hufflepuffs' heads. "Well, there she is. About bloody time, too. I can't feel my toes. Or anything else, for that matter."

I turned my head, taking advantage of being taller than everybody else. As our Herbology professor marched up the path to the greenhouses, her bun comically flopping up and down, I saw she had a large, iron cage floating next to her. It seemed to hold a bunch of vines, which emitted an eerie green light and writhed against the restrains of the cage.

"What is that?" Bridget asked, her voice slightly muffled through her scarf. "Why isn't it in the greenhouses? Wow, it must be really dangerous. Do you think it's rare, Derek?"
Derek's eyebrows shot up, as if he was surprised at being addressed. He coughed a little and rubbed his hands together. "Uh, I don't know. I've never seen it before... but I haven't read out Herbology book entirely, either, so I'm honestly not the best person to ask."

I snorted. "To put it lightly."

He punched me on the arm, just as Professor Vapor stalked towards the greenhouse we were standing next to and pulled out her wand. "You!" she barked at a Hufflepuff boy. "Get the cage and carry it inside. Everyone else follows in. And no talking, how many times do I have to tell you?" she snapped at Sally and Caitlin, who were standing together with big grins on their faces and obviously commenting on Vapor's bun, which had sagged to the side of her head with a few vapid wisps falling in front of her face. I had difficulty managing my laughter, too.

Professor Vapor shook her hair out of her face and tapped her wand against the greenhouse door. It swung open and she walked inside, the Hufflepuff boy behind her nearly toppling under the weight of the cage. One of the vines had wrapped itself around his arm, and once he had put down the cage he struggled to remove it. By that time most of the class was already in their seats, including me and Hilary Oak. Our professor sighed exasperatedly and cut the vine off with a swift movement of her wand. "Go to your seat," she ordered, and the boy hastened to obey. She turned to the class. I wondered how her hair had gotten back into the eternal bun so quickly.

"In this cage, there are several types of average Herbology plants you have studied in the previous four and a half years. However, each of these samples has been removed from the greenhouses as they became sick or accidentally got in touch with an unfortunate spell, or some dim-witted student used the wrong type of fertilizer." Her pointed gaze snapped over to me. I swallowed guiltily; I had hoped she'd forgotten that particular incident. Hilary scribbled away on her parchment, attempting to keep up with the note-taking. Why was she bothering?

In the next fifteen minutes, each couple was given a sample of a plant and instructed to examine it and describe what was wrong with it. Ours was a particularly squirmy kind of creeper and Hilary and I found ourselves wrestling with it on the table, making the most noise in the whole class. It was hardly giving us the opportunity to actually examine it and do our assignment.

"What does it look like to you?" Hilary panted, taking advantage of the fact that we were permitted to talk for once.

"I don't know," I muttered, dodging a vine that was insistent on hitting me on the nose and quickly pinned it to the table. "It looks like a green octopus to me. A violent octopus."

Hilary let out a slightly breathless giggle. "I think we should try to tie the vines together so we can have a better view. What do you say?" Just then one of the vines wrapped itself around her wrist and pulled. "Ouch!"

"Be quiet, the hag is coming our way," I said, trying to hold the plant in submission and look into my book at the same time. "Come on, help me."

Hilary took over handling the plant as I quickly looked through the book. Professor Vapor passed without comment but with a nasty smile. I glared at her back, wishing there was some rule about having permission to kick impossible professors in the bum.

"All right," I said, looking away from Professor Vapor and pointing at the page. "I think it's a Venomous Tentacula –"

"Eek!" Hilary shrieked, immediately pulling her hands off the vines. No longer restricted, three of them lashed out and hit me across the face, one of them exactly hitting the spot where Richard had punched me just a week before.

Seeing stars, I clapped my hands in front of my face, letting out a pitiful howl of pain. My eyes started burning with hot tears as the vines kept beating me across the face, until somebody apparently restrained them again. I was slightly grateful, until Vapor started screaming into my ear.

"Ten points from Slytherin! Ten points from Hufflepuff! What is this for display? Miss Oak, stop blubbering and Mr Malfoy, get your hands off your face! Now!"

Waves of dislike seeped through my body and I refused to do what she asked. It hurt badly. My nose was throbbing wildly and I felt the warm flow of blood starting to go downwards, again. I rapidly blinked to stop the tears from falling. I wasn't sobbing. I was not sobbing.

"Oh, fine, have it your way. To the hospital wing you go, and write an essay about this plant without witnessing the whole lesson. Go."

I stumbled to the door, peeking through my fingers and trying not to get eye-contact with anyone. As soon as I was outside, I lowered my hands and took a few deep breaths, the cold air doing wonders to the pain in my nose. I started up the path to the castle, still holding up the blood flow that was already slowly subsiding. I somehow managed to find my way to the hospital wing without tripping over or walking into anything or anyone.

Madame Meddletin clicked disapprovingly with her tongue as I walked in. "What is it this time, love?" She led me further into the clinic, muttering under her breath: "Boys these days."

"Herbology," I said thickly, wiping some more blood from under my nose. "I was attacked by a mad plant."

She leaned closer, carefully scrutinizing my nose with a professional look. "Drop your hands, I can't see anything." I did what she asked. She softly touched it a few times before straightening up. "Sit down," she told me, and she quickly walked into her office.

I dropped onto a nearby bed, trying to avoid splattering the crisp, white sheets in crimson drops. Naturally, I didn't succeed, and by the time the nurse got back there were several dark red stains on the bed where I might or might not have attempted to wipe my hands clean. She sighed and waved her wand, cleaning the sheets as well as my hands.

"Scourgify. Now, what kind of plant was it?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "We had to find out ourselves, you see. But I think it was a Venomous –"

"Tentacula," she finished, nodding. "Yes, I thought so too because of the slightly purplish spots it leaves behind after contact."

"Are you sure those aren't just bruises?" I muttered, making an effort not to roll my eyes.

"Yes," she said blandly. "They felt like little pimples. Also, the Venomous Tentacula is teething, and your speech is rather slurred, haven't you noticed? You're tired."
"My nose hurts," I complained.

"And you're whinging," she continued. "But that's okay; nobody's ever died of that. No need to stay in the hospital wing. Here, I want you to take this –" she handed me a red-coloured potion, followed by a clear one, "and this. A blood replenishing potion and a painkiller potion. That's all I can do for now; the plant's magical qualities prevent me from using shrinking potions for your nose, but the swelling will go away on its own eventually."

I scrunched up my nose, which I immediately regretted as it hurt, and knocked back the two potions without a second thought.

"There we go," Madame Meddletin said, looking pleased. "You can go to your common room now."

"Thanks." I smiled and stood up. "I don't have to come back for a check up or anything?"

"You just love the drama, hm?" she asked, the corners of her mouth twitching. "No, you don't have to come back. I'm busy enough. Now, go on, get out!"

I grinned and made my way out of the ward. After slipping around a corner, I met a boys' bathroom and went inside to look at the damage my nose had taken. When I turned to the mirror, I saw that there was a large bruise covering most of my nose, and a few purple spots made their way across the bridge. Luckily, the blood was already gone. I raised my hand and nervously touched a spot on the left side of my nose. It did feel like a pimple. Ew.

I decided to go to the library, as I had left my bag in the greenhouse and so couldn't do homework anyway. I left the toilets and sprinted up the nearest staircase to an empty corridor. However, when I turned the next corner, I got face to face with none other than Louisa Rosario, who was so startled by my sudden appearance that she jumped and fell backwards.

I blinked, looking down on her. I hadn't seen her without Longbottom yet, so I was kind of surprised as well. "I - hi."

She threw me a surprisingly filthy look, got up again and dusted off her robes. Then, she walked past me without as much as a sideways glance. She had almost gone down the same stairs I had used when I called out.

"Hey, wait."

She ignored me. After a brief hesitation, I went after her.

As my legs were much longer than hers, I quickly caught up with her, even though she picked up her pace a bit when I got closer. She took another staircase, but this time she went up, making me wonder why she'd gone down in the first place. "Wait!" I called again, and finally met up with her on the top of said stairs. Still, she just turned the other way, as if she could barely hear me.

"Rosario!" I said indignantly, going after her again. I was going to be embarrassed of this later, I just knew it.

Then why don't you stop?

We continued this for three more corridors and one more staircase before I had enough and caught her by the shoulder. She immediately jerked it from my grip and kept going. Fuming, I walked past her and blocked the way. Before she could dodge me or turn around, I had grabbed her by the arm. She tried to twist it out of my hand, but I tightened my grip. We need to talk. Oh, that sounds stupid, but it's true.

She hissed and pulled one more time before whispering: "You're hurting me, bastard."

"I'll let go if you promise you won't walk away," I said, clearly hearing my heartbeat drumming in my ears. "Promise it to me."

Louisa tried to break free again, but when I still didn't budge, she sighed. "I – I promise." She scowled. "What do you want?"

I tentatively let her go, unsure if she'd still make a break for it, but she stayed. Of course. She was a Gryffindor. "I –" I paused, trying to get the right question in my head. I took a deep breath. "Why did you run away from me?"
Her lips thinned. "You know why."

"No," I said, my voice trembling slightly. "I don't know why." You do. You do.

She narrowed her eyes and raised herself to full height. "Excuse me?"

I quickly lowered my gaze to the ground, feeling an unwelcome blush creeping up my face. "I –"

Her voice was hard as steel. "Look at me. Look at me and say you don't know why."

I raised my head again, meeting her eyes, which were even darker than normal. Seconds passed. After the tension-filled pause, in the wake of her demanding gaze, I looked away from her again. I couldn't say it. I didn't know why. I was a great liar. Why couldn't I do this?

"I have nothing else to say to you," Louisa finally said. She turned around to go.

"Don't leave!" I said, promptly shaming myself with the pleading tone in my voice. "You promised."

She sighed angrily and whirled around again. "So?" She raised her chin. "Spit it out."
I folded my arms. "What if your brother made it all up?"

There was another long, uncomfortable pause, but when she finally spoke, I wished it had lasted longer. There was not a trace of warmth in her voice when she said: "Are you suggesting that you never said a foul word about me? That my brother would lie to me about such things? My brother is a lot of things, but he is not a liar." She stepped closer to me, and the next thing I knew, my cheek stung and suddenly started heating up very quickly. Astonished, I brought a palm to my face to rub where Louisa had slapped me. She withdrew her hand, her own cheeks flushed. "Unlike you, my brother is honest with me."

"That's what you think," I snapped back. That slap hurt.

Louisa, who had already made another attempt to leave the scene, stopped abruptly and stalked back again. That time, I was prepared for what was coming and caught her hand in time, and grabbed the other one just to be safe. She unexpectedly started sobbing as she tried to wrench my hands off her again. I loosened my grip. "Don't cry," I mumbled awkwardly. "Come on, don't..."

"I was right there, you idiot!" she cried out. "At the top of the bloody stairs! And now you're trying to tell me I made it all up?"

My hands went slack and she was able to tug her own away, but I didn't quite notice. It was just occurring to me I had very possibly ruined everything.

"You – I –" I tried to make something up – it could've been anything – but words failed me. Perhaps it was the Venomous Tentacula's qualities messing with my brain.

"You called me a Mudblood!" Louisa yelled right over my useless mumbling. She started crying in earnest. "You – you called me a slut! What do you expect me to do now? Forgive and forget, is that it?"

"But I –"

"I trusted you!" she burst out, wiping the tears from her face. "You said – you – you said you didn't care about my blood, damn it! You were lying all the time! Damn it all!" She clapped her hands in front of her face to hide her tears, making me feel even worse about everything.

"I don't care," I said desperately, reaching out for her. "I wasn't lying, I promise." She glared at me through her fingers, her gaze so hateful I abruptly recoiled, wincing inwardly. It was looking like I had ruined everything.

"Don't you dare touch me again," she threatened. "You're just trying to get me to believe you again, so I can be your bloody toy again, to mess around with when you're bored and to make fun of with your stupid friends, is that it?"

"I – No!" I exclaimed. How could she think that? "You’re getting it all wrong! Look, Louisa –"

"Do not use my name. You're not worthy of it." She dropped her hands and straightened her shoulders, drawing a shuddering breath. "Stay away from me. I don't want to have anything to do with you anymore, do you understand? Stop following me."

I was speechlessly standing there, feeling defeated as she walked away, when she whirled around in her path. "And send my regards to whoever punched you on the nose. God knows you deserved it."

"I'm sure he does," I said, but not loud enough so Louisa'd hear it. She had disappeared around the corner anyway.

I don't know how long I kept standing there, looking at the end of the corridor as if hoping she'd come back and ask me to apologise, and I'd feel relieved. Then it would be over, and we could be civil again and perhaps something else, but that didn't happen of course. Instead, I felt stupid. I felt stupid for liking her, for pursuing her, for talking bad about her, for making a total fool of myself in front of her and messing everything up from the start. I felt stupid for thinking I ever had a chance.


Author's Notes: Well, finally! I'd say that it won't take that long again, but with the queue closure lurking in the near future I don't know. So the next update will probably be in August. See you then!