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Rush by daylight

Format: Novel
Chapters: 9
Word Count: 49,438
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Humor, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Albus, Hugo, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, Scorpius, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing, Rose/Scorpius, James/OC, Lily/OC, OC/OC

First Published: 10/14/2014
Last Chapter: 03/05/2018
Last Updated: 03/05/2018

Summary:





"We fight crime now, Josie. We'll be wearing catsuits. Ergo, the two of you need to sort out your sexual tension before you jump each other's spandex-clad bones."

Josie Deetrin's universe of daydreams comes crashing into reality in a cracking cacophony of mysteries, madmen (also women, if you count Dom - which Josie absolutely does), and magnificent displays of shameless adolescence.

Josie's story will continue on HPfanfictalk ~


Chapter 1: leap

 

 

I don't own: Alice in Wonderland, Princess Diaries, Heathers, Harry Potter, or anything else you just might recognize.


 







LEAP
 










Have you ever felt - when standing on the roof's ledge of a perilously tall building or when you don't mind the gap on the London Underground - that toe-tingling, stomach-swooshing, tongue-twisting thrill of what's possible?


Like, when you're standing on the ledge of the roof of that perilously tall building and you crane your neck forwards a bit - with your arms held straight out to maintain your concocted notion of balance - not to look at the twinkling vista twisting beyond your beating heart and planted feet, but to look straight down, so you can see the grungy alleyway with the overflowing dumpsters and the fire escapes and the midnight smokers hanging their heads out of windows to ash into their potted plants. And it's not a, oh my god what if I fell right now feeling (though that's there too), but a, oh my god what if I jumped? And your toes don't tingle at the prospect of dying, but at the idea of falling.


Because you've never truly fallen, and the thought of giving yourself up to gravity makes your head spiral in a giddy tailspin. (If only there was a plush mountain of pillows waiting for you at the bottom.)


But the toe-tingling, stomach-swooshing, tongue-twisting thrill lasts only a second before it becomes too much, and you step back away from the edge, much to the nervous relief of your friends who had wanted to come to this perilously tall rooftop to drink and laugh and crow at the moon, and definitely not to scrape your inebriated, whimsical self off of the grungy alleyway pavement.


"Josie!" I turn and grin at Dom's quirked eyebrow and nervous smile, "If you're quite finished flirting with death, we need you as an impartial judge!"


Still smiling, I swivel back to take one last look from my perch. This time not at the dizzying distance to the ground, but out beyond me - us - at the lights that stretch and come together and deviate like veins, surging and swerving like the lifeblood of this bubbling metropolis.


London is undoubtedly alive.


I hop off the ledge with wobbly legs and make my way back over to my friends, skirting around an entwined couple 'stargazing', and come to rest at the edge of the group of my people lounging in a circle of folding chairs and crushed beer cans. I don't know why I don't keep moving forward; why I don't, when realizing there are no more vacant chairs, sit upon Jude Wood's lap and stake my claim for the night as I have since the beginning of the summer. All I know is that my toes are tingling with the thrill of what's possible, and the giddiness of falling into this night - this last night of real summer holiday, of teendom - has me bouncing on the balls of my feet.


I take another step.


Dom giggles at me, twisted around so she can reach her hands out to me over the back of her chair, "C'mere, daredevil. Sit with me."


I feel Jude's eyes on me as I sit sideways on Dom's lap, my arms slung around her neck and my head resting against hers. She wraps her arms around my waist, "Did you have any mind-blowing revelations standing on the edge of the world?"


I smile lazily, "Oh, a few," my eyes slide past Davis, Eloise, and Parker to meet Jude's steady gaze. My smile grows as he gives me his bedroom-eyed half-smile, "What did you need me to judge for?"


Dom sits up straight, bumping her temple against mine, "Oh, that's right!" She twists round again to look over the back of our chair, "Rose, Scorp, stop sucking face for a second so Josie can decide our fates!"


"We are not - we're stargazing!" Rose splutters, hurrying over to us and leaving Scorpius to stroll at his typical leisurely pace.


I smile up at her flustered face - just why she chooses to deny the thick fog of attraction between her and Scorpius is beyond me - and hold my arms out to her, "We're in a city, Rose. It's called light pollution. Come join the love-pile, anyways."


Dom makes a dramatic strangled cry when Rose sits on my lap, "You're going to break me!"


We ignore her as Davis leans forward, "Right, Jose, what's it gonna be?"


I stare at him, "Give me the options and I might be able to tell you."


Eloise laughs and I give her a slight smile. Despite the fact that she's been seeing Davis for the better part of the summer, Eloise has yet to leave a lasting impression on me. She's nice enough, sure, but nice doesn't really seem to jive with our group dynamic. Rose already fills the spot for sugary-sweetness, while the rest of us tap-dance along the lines between perfectly pleasant and facetious. What's the point of being a Ravenclaw, after all, if you have to hold your tongue against every opinion that might cause a stir?


Scorpius crouches down next to our chair, long fingers fiddling with the laces on Rose's trainers as he addresses me, "The group's divided on what to do with the rest of the night, and you're the last to give an opinion."


I roll my eyes, "But there's an even number of us."


Dom pipes up from the bottom of the love-pile, "Exactly! That's why we've decided whatever you say, goes."


"No pressure," Jude drawls with a wink.


"Where does everyone stand, then?" I ask, looking around the group and smiling indulgently when I see Parker with his head lolled back, completely passed out. Parker has a rather impressive ability to fall asleep anywhere, at any time. Alcohol only makes it worse (or better, depending on how you look at it).


"I want to go to Al's end of the summer party like we planned. It's at James and Freddie's new place and it's going to be insanely fun!" Dom pleads, batting her long lashes at me.


I frown. I wasn't aware that we had planned on going to her cousin Al's party at all. But that's totally Dom's modus operandi; whenever she hears of something she wants to do, she instantly assumes everyone else wants to go along too. But, usually, Dom's taste in activities coincides with everyone else's idea of a good time.


"Right, what's the other idea?"


Davis leans forward with a smile, "We were thinking of maybe popping by a few clubs instead."


I cock my head to the side, leaning around Rose's shoulder, "But not everyone's legal yet."


Davis shrugs, "We could confund a few bouncers, no big deal."


Rose sighs, "I don't really like the sound of that."


"Besides," Dom chimes in, "there'll be free alcohol at Al's anyway!"


I shrug, "That settles it for me."


Dom squeals, "Yes!"


Davis scowls, "Well, what if we split up?"


Dom is scandalized. I don't like the idea, either.


"But it's the last night of the summer!"


Davis rolls his eyes, "We'll all see each other on the train tomorrow, you saps."


I smile, "It's because we love you, really." I turn to look at Jude. God, that smile of his holds so many promises. "And you?" I ask him slowly, "What's your opinion?"


Jude leans forward, elbows on knees, and his lips move to betray a promise I had thought they held, "The clubs actually do sound cool."


We observe each other, Jude and I, for a steamy second. And then I cast my gaze downwards and shrug to hide the fact that I'm disappointed Jude doesn't want to spend the last night of the summer - this summer that holds the beautiful grey area of what we're doing and what we are to each other - together.


"I guess we'll split up, then."


Jude frowns. Apparently my lips had betrayed a presumed promise, too. "C'mon, Jose. Come dance with me tonight. I'll even buy you an obscenely priced drink."


Davis whistles his way into a sly grin, "I know I wouldn't be able to turn down that offer."


I nudge Rose so she'll stand, and I follow her up, "Sorry, darlings, I'm going to Al's."


Dom squeezes my waist in excitement as she stands up too. I know she's happy I'm choosing to hang out with her over Jude. Not that she doesn't like the idea of us together, per se, but the fact that she's had to share me this summer, and the fact that the shape of Jude and I is so Undefined, definitely bothers her.


Jude's sultry mood has soured as he pushes a hand through his hair, "Do you really want to babysit Dom all night and hide from James' girlfriend's death glares?"


I frown, "Becca doesn't give me death glares."


Dom grabs me by the elbow, intending to steer me towards the stairwell, "Yes she does, love. But don't think about her. Think about all the fun you and I will have! The laughs! The bonding!"


Rose grabs Scorpius by the hand, "We're coming too!"


"We are?"


"Yes! James' new place has a great balcony for - erm - stargazing."


Scorpius smiles down at her, "Lead the way."


Dom and I simultaneously turn to wrinkle our noses at each other, which leads to single-ladies-girl-power giggling. I wave a goodbye as we skip to the stairs, and I sigh when I see Davis and Eloise already wrapped up in each other, and Jude moodily shaking Parker awake. I hope they end up having fun tonight, regardless of the fact that we're taking most of the fun with us.

 






 

"Dom," I say suddenly, as the tube hurtles towards James and Freddie's place, "why d'you guys think Becca hates me?"


She quits making funny faces at Rose and Scorpius canoodling a couple seats down to fix me with a 'duh' stare, "Because James had the fattest crush on you for, like, years."


I roll my eyes at her, "He fancied me for literally two seconds. And that was well over a year ago!"


She rolls her eyes right back at me before fixing her gaze on her reflection in the dark window across the train car so she can fuss with her hair, "It was not two seconds, Jose. I had to listen to him whinge about you for ages before I finally told him to get a fucking grip."


I sit and contemplate this for a few moments - in the way you only can when you've been drinking, where every thought seems to crawl by and yet you still can't quite catch it entirely - before I conclude, "He intimidated me too much back then for me to think about dating him."


Dom fluffs her hair, "That's what I told him. He just didn't understand that a tall, handsome, sixth year Gryffindor Quidditch Captain was a lot to take on for a sixteen year old Ravenclaw."


I flush a bit as certain flustered memories come to mind, "I'm glad I wasn't around for that conversation."


"So am I." She pauses, before sliding her gaze to me with a saucy grin, "But you're all grown up now."


I push her lightly with a groan, "Don't even think about it. He's got a girlfriend who apparently hates me as it is."


"You forgot to mention that you have Jude."


"Right. And I've got Jude. Kind of. Maybe."


Dom wrinkles her nose in distaste, "You guys have to figure your shit out. And soon. Daniella Dawson was talking about putting the moves on him at the end of last term."


I groan, "Not Double-D! There's no way I can go up against her massive assets."


"Not to mention the alliteration."


"Fucking alliteration."


"This is us," Scorpius calls over, standing up as we slow down.


"Finally," Dom sighs happily, pulling me to my feet, "I need another drink. My buzz is starting to wear off."


I giggle with Rose as Dom slings an arm around Scorpius' shoulders, their beautiful blonde heads leading the charge out of the Underground and into a quieter part of London than where we'd been before. The thought makes me blink up at the tall buildings surrounding us. What if there's someone up there, right now, on one of these rooftops, watching us frolic through the surging lifeblood of London?


The thought makes me shiver.


"Cold?" Rose asks kindly, looping her arm through mine to pull me in the direction our blonde-haired tour guides are taking us.


"I'm just - I get kind of awed by the city, sometimes."


Rose appraises me as we walk, her smile growing, "I do too. One of the perks of growing up in the 'burbs, I guess."


"Don't forget the isolation of Hogwarts. That really throws London into perspective as well."


"Hogwarts has got Hogsmeade! There's lots of varied magical folk who live there -"


"Yeah, but that's not really what I mean," I interrupt, gazing up at the skyline once more, "I'm talking about the - the energy of the city. Can't you feel it thrumming with life, even now, at this hour?"


Rose gazes up at me like I'm some kind of skyline, smiling wistfully, "I love it when you get this way."


I look back down to meet her eyes, puzzled, "What way?"


Rose looks in front of us, picking up our pace to make sure we don't fall too far behind Dom and Scorp, "When you get all - you know, poetic."


I shake my head at her bemusedly, "I'm always this way."


She cuts her gaze over to me, "But you only share it when you've been drinking."


I crack a smile, "No filter this far down the rabbit hole, I suppose."


Rose laughs, "Keep it up, Josie, and I may just ditch Scorpius' company for yours tonight."


I laugh with her, "If I could only be so lucky. Although, I don't really fancy having a sulky Scorpy on my hands."


"Keep up, slowpokes, we're nearly there!" Dom calls over her shoulder as she points at a decent looking apartment building halfway down the street.


"How big is this party supposed to be?" I ask Rose with nervous, pent-up excitement.


"Decently big, I think. They invited pretty much everyone they thought would be able to get out of the house the night before school starts. Some of James' new Auror training friends will probably be here too."


Right. Strangers. Small talk. Alcohol. School tomorrow. Focusing on the now and not the inevitable headache that awaits me in the distant lands of tomorrow (technically today, I suppose, since we're due to board the Hogwarts Express in ten hours), "Right."


"Josie Deetrin!"


"Yes, Dom Weasley?"


"Walk with me. I've got important things to discuss with you."


I blow Rosie a kiss, which she returns, before scampering to where Dom is waiting for me. I look over and see Scorpius immediately envelope Rose in a warm, one-armed hug as they walk ahead of us, heads bent together as they whisper to each other.


Get married, already. Or at least admit you're into each other, for pete's sake.


"So, how do you think he's gonna do it?"


I turn back to Dom, taking a couple big strides to catch up to her, "How's who going to do what?"


"James. How do you think James is going to greet you tonight?"


"Er - normally? Probably along the lines of, 'hello' and 'good to see you again'."


Dom tsks, "No no no, James has way more originality than that. I think he's going to open the front door wide when we knock - which is why you'll be the one doing the knocking, of course - and he'll say 'oh, Jocelyn Marie Deetrin, where have you been all my life?' and then he'll sweep you into this big, foot-popping kiss while the music swells in the background, and a single, crystalline tear will run down my cheek, because I was the one who set you on this collision-course with destiny-"


"He has a girlfriend, you monumental freak."


Dom scoffs, "Like that matters to destiny."


"I'm kind of speechless right now."


She hooks her arm through mine with a sly grin, "Not as speechless as you'll be when James sweeps you off your feet, just you wait and see."

 






 

 


As it turns out, it's Freddie Weasley who answers the door, much to Dom's very vocal dismay.


"Shut the door Freddie, and tell James to come let us in."


Freddie furrows his brow, mouth slightly agape, looking at the rest of us for confirmation.


I roll my eyes and push past Dom, "Hey Fred, good to see you. Ignore Dom, please."


Freddie seems to regain his composure as he gives me a loose hug, "Easily done, Josie-Bean."


I wander into the spacious apartment as Freddie greets the rest of the group, and I look around to see if I know anyone in the jumble of faces chatting and drinking at Albus Potter's End Of The Summer bash. There are a few people taking shots in the kitchen who I know graduated last year with James and Freddie, and I can easily spot Dom's redheaded relations scattered throughout the party. I make eye contact with one redheaded relation in particular, and we make a beeline for each other.


"Josie, my love, my stars, my most favorite subordinate!" Molly Weasley cries as she drunkenly flings her arms around my neck.


I laugh into her wild curls, talking loudly above the music, "Always a pleasure, madam Head Girl."


"I'm not Head Girl anymore, Jose."


"I think you get to keep the title even when you leave office, like the Minister of Magic. Or the Pope."


She releases her tight hold on me, but only so she can hold my face in her hands, "I've missed you. Come work for me when you're done with school."


I laugh and her unsteady, glassy gaze fights to keep me in focus, "I don't think being your favorite prefect qualifies me for a position in your office, Molls."


Molly dismisses my comment immediately, leading me by the crook of my arm towards the kitchen, "Nonsense! I'll be a junior partner at the firm within the year, mark my words, and I'll get to choose who works under me." She sidles up to the black granite kitchen countertop and sloppily pours two shots of Ogden's finest, "Now drink with me. One shot for us, and one for the fallen homies."


She knocks back her shot before I can ask and I quickly follow suit, swiping a finger under my watering eyes. Molly pours again.


"Who's fallen?" I ask as she hands me the glass again.


She glares at the mass of people outside the kitchen like they've all personally affronted her, "Clark Stebbins."


I give a dramatic gasp, "Say it isn't so! Not the former Head Boy?"


"The very same."


"You guys aren't dating anymore, I take it?" I drink the firewhiskey, in honor of the excommunicated former Head Boy, and set my glass on the counter just a moment before Molly does the same.


She shrugs in a would-be casual way, "He couldn't handle 'us' in the real world. Didn't like that I'm doing better professionally than he is."


I give a sympathetic frown, "That's awful. He's in magical law too?"


"At the same firm as me," she grimaces.


"Yikes."


Molly rolls her eyes, "Tell me about it." She sighs and her eyes wander the apartment, "Nice place, isn't it?"


It really is. It's a corner apartment, and two of the walls are made almost entirely of glass, with a balcony that - from what I can see, at least - wraps around the whole length of the two walls. The inside is spacious and open, with an ongoing theme of rich brown leather for the furniture and gleaming modern finishes. The overall effect screams expensive, but it's tastefully done all the same, and I'm absolutely sure their mums have decorated for them.


I look around at the fancy appliances nestled into the kitchen's black granite countertops and observe that they look mostly untouched, "Do they even know how to work these?"


Molly smirks, "They haven't a clue. They order takeout, mostly."


Typical.


I move out of the kitchen and stand in the living room, appraising the hardwood floors with Molly at my side. After a moment I nod in satisfaction, "These look ideal for sock-sliding."


"That was the first thing I said when I saw this place."


I spin around and come face-to-chest with James Potter. I take a quick step back, and note that he looks exactly the same as he did at the end of last term. Same boyish grin and dimpled cheeks. Same strong jaw and slightly crooked nose. Same hazel eyes that look at me with the same amount of keen interest.


I grin up at him as he folds me into a hug, "Sounds like you have your priorities straight, then."


His smile grows, "I'd like to think so."


Molly is all smirks as she gives an awkward cough, and James quickly lets go of me. He shoves a hand through his hair, "Fancy a tour?"


I shrug and look around, "I think I've got the gist of the place. I'm off to look at the view next."


James grins, "It's gorgeous, Jose. You're gonna love it."


A pair of arms slide around James' waist from behind, and Becca's head appears around his side, "Josie, hey! How are you?"


I smile at her, Dom's words ringing in my ears, "Fantastic, thanks. And you? Work going well?"


Becca's smile fades too quickly to be natural and her eyes glance over me with practiced disinterest, "I'm still looking, actually. But I have a promising interview with a potion brewing lab on Wednesday next week."


I nod over-enthusiastically, "Wow, that's great! I'm sure you'll get it, they'd be fools not to hire you."


Becca doesn't appear to be listening to me anymore. Instead, she seems to be having some kind of intense eye-conversation with James. It does not look like a pleasant discussion. There are a lot of narrowed eyes and expressive eyebrows involved.


I clear my throat, "Well, I'm off to look at that view now. Cheers James, thanks for having us over."


James looks over at us and gives me an apologetic grimace, "No problem Josie, thanks for coming."


I wave and quickly turn to loop my arm through Molly's, "Shall we, Molls?"


"Oh absolutely, darling. There's no one I'd rather look at this romantic view with than you."


When we're far enough away, Molly bursts into laughter, "God, that was like watching a car crash. Couldn't look away if I tried."


I shake my head, cheeks flushing.


"Molly! You left me!" We turn in the direction of the desperate cry to see Molly's little sister Lucy sprawled across one of James' beautiful leather couches, her feet dangling over one of the armrests and her hands outstretched in our direction. Her makeup is severely smudged and her shirt looks like it has a bit of sick down the front.


Molly rolls her eyes at me, mouth twisted up in a grimace, "I told her not to take those shots. She's such a lightweight and she never listens to me. I'd better make sure she's alright."


I nod with a smile, "A true friend's work is never done. Come find me later?"


Molly beams, kissing my cheek before weaving her way over to her distraught sister. Speaking of high maintenance siblings, where has Dom gotten to? I haven't seen her since we got here. Standing on my toes, I try to make out her shade of blonde in the crowd, but a particularly popular song has come on and limbs are flailing to the beat. I sigh. This is her family's party, I'm sure she's alright.


Unable to resist another staggering, toe-tingling view, I push open the glass doors that lead to the balcony.


James is right. The view is gorgeous, and I do love it.


As if sleepwalking, I make my way to the very edge and clutch at the glass barrier separating me from a twelve-story fall. The balcony is wide enough to fit quite a few people, and many of them are surrounding a stone fire pit a few meters down from where I stand, but their voices are muted by the pounding of my heart.


"Beer?"


Turning my head to the right, I see Al Potter extending a glass bottle in my direction. It glints in the firelight.


I smile at him and reach out to accept it, "Cheers."


He nods and leans against the glass barrier so his back is to the view. He brings his own bottle to his lips and takes a long drink as he looks at me. The green of his eyes, starkly contrasted against his dark eyelashes, has me staring.


"Having fun?" He asks, his gaze appraising as he tilts his head slightly to one side.


Something in his tone makes me feel like we're in on some inside joke, so I drawl, "Oh, a blast. You?"


Al smiles for the first time since walking over to me, "The time of my life."


The way his eyes crinkle at the corners makes me want to smile, so I turn my head back to look at the view to hide my twitching lips. Al sidles closer and my heartbeat quickens.


"Are you afraid of heights?" He asks suddenly, and I almost laugh.


I turn to meet his gaze, and he's close enough that I could brush my arm against his, if I wanted. I like the fact that he's rolled up his sleeves to just below his elbows. I conclude - abstractedly, unintentionally - that he has nicer arms than Jude.


"Not at all," I reply, looking quizzically into his eyes, "what makes you ask?"


Al smiles, slow and soft, before gesturing at the fire pit behind him, "We've been sitting over there for most of the night, so I've seen a lot of people come and look at the view." He scrutinizes my face in a careful - if a little beer-numbed - way, "No one's looked at it the same way you have."


I try to examine him the same way he's examining me, "So you think I'm afraid?"


His tongue runs along his bottom lip - abstractedly, unintentionally - before he replies with humor in his eyes, "I'm guessing I was wrong, then." He looks up at the sky like he's considering something before moving his gaze back to me, "So if it's not fear, what is it?"


I look out at the view again, contemplative, thoughts dripping like molasses. I decide that Albus Potter - vague acquaintance, schoolmate, fellow human being - is as good as any to share these slivers of myself with.


I speak to the view, "I feel… giddy. Impulsive. Alive. Endless."


He shifts, and I can see his easy smile out of the corner of my eye as he says, "Go on."


I let my eyes wander the twinkling paths of light, and try to get my point across in the way Rose likes best, "I feel like I'm - expanding, or something. Like I'm not really what I think I am. Like - I'm not full of a beating heart and lungs and nerves and all that, but I'm just this - empty container, and I'm filling up on these lights and sounds and… existences."


Silence.


I turn to look at him, "I've been drinking."


Al's face is so full of unexpected warmth, and surprise, and I vaguely realize that I can't recall the last time I've seen such an expression on his face, and his voice holds the same sort of magic, "So have I."


"We'll be drunkards together, then."


"Solidarity."


"Exactly. You get me."


Al looks down at the beer in his hands for a second before lifting his gaze to watch the hubbub of the party. He watches them revel with vague amusement, "It's kind of like they're in a fish bowl, isn't it?"


I turn my back on the view, leaning my elbows on top of the glass barrier, and study the party. I can see what he means; surrounded by glass without a clue that they're being observed.


I cut my gaze to Albus, "Very astute, Mr. Potter."


His lips turn up at the corners, "Just a casual observation, Ms. Deetrin."


We lapse into silence, listening vaguely to the strains of conversation coming from the fire pit and the white-noise enjoyment of those inside the fish bowl.


"Do you think they'll be switching up patrol partners this term? If I have to search broom cupboards with Sally Hanseth for another year, I might just quit."


I laugh, relieved that Al's picked an easy topic for conversation. Talking about Prefect rounds I can handle. His relaxed, confident tone from before is dangerous for me, especially when I feel like this and I've had this much to drink. There's something in his eyes tonight - the same expression I can see sometimes in class when something privately amuses him, and I see it occasionally when we infrequently hang out in the same friend circle - that makes me want to be in on his joke.


"Sally is not that bad," I chide softly with a smile, bringing my bottle to my lips.


Al scoffs, but he's smiling too, "You're only saying that because she doesn't try to snog you in every dark corner of the castle," he cuts his gaze to me slyly, "Or does she?"


I wrinkle my nose at him as I smile, and I watch his eyes take a quick glance down at my lips.


My toes begin to tingle.


I sigh sadly, "I'm not Sally's type, I'm afraid."


"Count yourself lucky, then." My eyes follow the strong lines of his profile as he takes a hearty swig.


Turning back to the cityscape, I rest my arms on the glass barrier and rejoice in the chilled air that refreshes my face and cools my tingling attraction, "Oh, I do. I'm partnered with Rose, and while she may be a stickler for the rules, she doesn't try to sexually harass me."


Albus laughs for the first time, and I try not to grin at what feels like my first triumph in this moment we're harboring together.


He offers me a sympathetic half-smile, "Rose is Head Girl this year, Josie, you'll have to get a new partner anyway."


Of course I already know this, and he knows that I know. Did he say it just to fill a gap in conversation, or to perform some supposed role? Are we not - Albus and I - leaning on this balcony together to be free from the social expectations of the fish inside the glass bowl?


I reply with the response I knew I would say since the words left his lips, "I know. I hope it's not the new Head Boy's old partner, I hardly know him. What's his name? Gallahan?"


I am a steward to convention as much as he is.


Al nods, "Yeah, he's in Hufflepuff, I think. Weird we don't really know him." He frowns, "It's actually kind of crazy how big the student body's gotten recently. My dad said it used to be that they only needed one dorm each - y'know, boys and girls - for each year in every house."


I frown, thinking, "Yeah, that is pretty crazy. I wonder why the sudden influx in magical children?"


Al shrugs, "Maybe more parents are just deciding to send their kids to Hogwarts instead of homeschooling, or any of the other magical schools. We are the school rife with fame, after all."


His tone is deeply sarcastic, and I sigh. A drunk Albus Potter stuck on the issues of his heavily-publicized life cannot be a good thing.


So I try to make him smile again, "You're talking about Nearly Headless Nick, right?"


It works; Al looks at me out of the corner of his eye, his lips tugging up, "Of course. Nick's a legend, isn't he?"


I smirk up at him, "His wobbly head has terrified children for generations."


Al's eyes crinkle at the corners to match his smile, his tone suddenly posh as he says, "Nick's insatiable appetite for real food can never go unmentioned at any respectable dinner party."


"Oh yeah, he can't eat, can he? That's kind of sad."


"It is, isn't it? He also celebrates the day he died every year, apparently."


"That's ultra sad."


Al stares at me for a second before grinning, "How did we get on this topic?"


I grin back, "I haven't the foggiest."


We fall into another silence - this one quite a bit more comfortable than the last - and he turns to face the view too. He puts his arm up next to mine. Our forearms are gently pressed together, and it's definitely on purpose.


My stomach swooshes.


I swallow, focusing my attention on my dangling hands. I feel Al turn to look at me, and I move to look at him. Eyes level with his neck, I slowly crane my head back to meet his gaze. His expression darkens as his eyes slowly travel to my lips, and heat instantly coils in my abdomen, my heart thudding in my ears.


Al breaks our heated stare first, and I remember to breathe.


He clears his throat as he whips his head back to stare at the bottle in his hands, and I stare fixedly at the buildings across the street, my mind racing.


"I hope we get partnered for rounds this year," He says with regained composure after a long pause, smiling and looking at me out of the corner of his eye.


"Yeah?" I say, with a teasing (alright, you got me, flirtatious) lilt to my voice and small smile playing at my lips, "Not afraid I'd try to jump you in dark corners of the castle?"


Al smirks down at me, eyes alight with interest, "You'd never be so bold."


I tut-tut (though he's quite right, of course), "Don't presume to know me, Albus. You know what happens when you assume."


His smirk grows as his expression turns devious, "I goad Josie Deetrin into snogging me in dark corners of the castle?"


I laugh (my head spinning at his boldness), bumping my shoulder lightly against his. He smiles at his hands, and bumps his shoulder back against mine. He sighs, and my stomach lurches at the sound.


After a lifetime of almost-moments, he says, "I can't believe this is our last year."


I shake my head, "I haven't wrapped my mind around it yet. It feels like my entire life has been Hogwarts."


Al nods, "Close enough, anyway. I know I won't want to leave at the end of it."


I smile, "I will. I think I'll be ready for what comes next."


Al shoots me a disbelieving look, forearm warm against mine, "What, the limbo-phase of our twenties? I mean, we won't be in school, but not in a real career or anything yet either," he bites his lip as he thinks for a moment before shaking his head, "Sounds like a decade of waiting in line for something."


I wrinkle my nose at him, "You can't think about it like that! You have to look forward to the little things."


Al smiles, and I can tell what he's going to say before he says it, "Alright. What little things?"


I really think about it - gaze unfocused, lingering somewhere beyond the tangible - feeling a strange zeal to make Al see (he's been everything that I find attractive in a boy, and I can't have him shattering that now), "Think about… the freedom of your twenties. Think about how many risks you'll be willing to take because your whole life is stretching out ahead of you," I look at him imploringly but he needs more, so I hurry on, eyes darting over the backlit cityscape, "I mean, I can't wait for my first shitty apartment in some dodgy neighborhood. I'll love that apartment, down to every last mystery stain on the carpet or - or water spot on the ceiling, because it'll be mine. And I have all these bizarre, irrational desires I'll be able to fulfill on a whim," I can't stop my dizzy smile, "Like, I want to play stand up bass in some random band on someone's crumbling porch on a - on a Tuesday night. And I want to catch a commuter's portkey at 2 a.m., one of those portkeys that takes late night ministry workers back to Paris or Berlin or somewhere far away, just because I feel like it. Doesn't that sound fun?"


His expression is unfathomable, "Yes."


I grin at the potential prospects, "I want to blow a whole paycheck on a night out with Dom and Rose, and not regret a thing. I want to be set up on a hopeless date with one of my future coworkers, and giggle about it with Dom when I get home. And I want to visit art museums on my lunch breaks, and fly my broom overseas to Ireland on a beautiful day. I want to take a magical cooking class because I'm seriously hopeless at household spells. And a dance class. I'd love to learn how to dance. And I want-"


I finally meet Albus' gaze and forget to take that breath I've been needing to take. The look on his face is like the unfamiliarly warm expression from earlier, only magnified and intensified and radiating.


"I want a lot of things," I finish a little breathlessly.


"Me too," Al murmurs.


I clear my throat and speak quickly to dispel the heat spreading between us, "I think our twenties will be uncertain, and exhausting, and, God, so demeaning. But it'll be wonderful."


Al finishes his drink and stares at the empty bottle as if the label says something wholly important, "How'd you get so wise, Deetrin?"


I bite my lip to keep from smiling too big and turn my face to look back at the view, "Someone put a drink in my hand a few hours ago."


I've never felt attracted to Al Potter before tonight. Well, I suppose that's not entirely true; I became a bit of a casual admirer of his good looks and even-better humor last year when he hit that final growth spurt, but it was nothing. Trivial. Fleeting and inconsequential.


But this, this is standing on the edge of a rooftop with a crowd of people screaming for me to jump.


"You get a little pucker in between your eyebrows when you're thinking hard about something." His voice is a murmur in my ear, a stutter in my heartbeat.


I draw in an unsteady breath.


"What are you thinking so hard about, Josie?"


My tongue twists.


I turn my head, achingly slowly, to look at him. He's right there, his lips just inches from mine. I flick my gaze up to meet his, and feel the coiled heat spread from my abdomen and down my legs.


He's moving towards me, a fraction of a fraction at a time. I lift on the balls of my feet ever so slightly, and the memory of earlier tonight - this last summer's night - when I felt myself falling into the limitless as I stood on the precipice of my beautiful, forever friends, comes rushing up to meet me as his lips come falling to meet mine.


Our forearms are still pressed together.


My eyelashes flutter closed as I tilt my face back, my lips parted, breathless -


The tip of a wand presses sharply against the back of my neck, a gravelly voice murmuring in my ear, "Pucker up, princess."

 






Wow. If you're reading this, thank you. I hope you enjoyed reading, because I've so enjoyed writing it!
What did you think of Josie? Al? Dom? Scor/Rose? Everyone else?
And who's got their wand pressed to Josie's neck?!
Please review :)

 

Nora xx

 

 


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