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Playing Hide and Seek by LittleMissLizPotter

Format: Novel
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 25,588
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Scorpius, Albus, Rose, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing, Rose/Scorpius, OC/OC

First Published: 08/21/2012
Last Chapter: 01/29/2014
Last Updated: 01/29/2014

Summary:
Gorgeous banner by BL/ind @ tda



"Me?  Hiding?  From Albus Potter?  Pshaw.  Why on earth would I hide from a chap like that?"  I asked.

"Maybe because you made him fall in love with you and then pulled it out from under his feet?"  Arianna suggested as she carefully added to her card house.

"I - I did not make him fall in love with me!  That was his choice!"

Sequel to Exchange


Chapter 1: Chapter 1
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


So... this is the sequel to Exchange.  I really hope you guys like it.  Deandra's twenty two now.  I promise everything will be explained.


 

“Good morning, Deandra.” My boss, Hanna, greeted me warmly.

 

“Morning, Hanna.” I yawned.

 

Hanna smiled at me. “Coffee not kicked in yet?”

 

I shook my head, and walked behind the bar. A scruffy old man was sitting on the other side, shoulders hunched and head drooping. “What would you like?” I asked.

 

“Just some whiskey, please.” He grunted.

 

I filled a glass of whiskey, and set it in front of him. “Thanks much.” He muttered, taking a big gulp of the alcohol.

 

Yes, folks. After four years, three months, and 30 days after I left school, I had actually become a barmaid. Actually, I had gotten the job two years ago, but I’m just trying to give you a timeline here.

 

It wasn’t that bad, actually. You get flexible working hours, money to pay rent, and discounts on drinks. And, of course, you meet people. And working in a bar, you meet a lot of people. Some of them were famous. A lot of them were nobodies. A lot of them just wanted a drink.

 

But yes, after four years, I ended up here. I dropped my pseudonym, Delilah Miller, and took on my birth name, Deandra Misgen. I moved in with Cinda and Arianna after they finished out school. I applied for a job here, and Hanna Pilsbury took me in.

 

The door creaked open, and a man sat down at the bar. I glanced at him, and I felt the breath woosh right out of my lungs.

 

He was extremely handsome. He had dark brown hair that fell past his ears. His face was tan and handsome, with high cheekbones and eyes that were a creamy chocolate color. As I watched, he swiped his hair out of his eyes and glanced up at me.

 

He wanted me to serve him.

 

And no, that was not a sexual innuendo on my part.

 

I gladly walked over to where he was sitting, tucked my hair behind my ear, and said, “What would you like today?” In a clear voice.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Vienna, the tall blonde woman that I work with, glaring at me. I smirked to myself. Vienna always got the hot men who walked into Sunny Days, but not today.

 

“Just a beer, please.” The man said in a tired voice.

 

“Coming right up.” I said, bending down to reach the beer bottles and setting one on the counter for him. I studied his face. “You look tired.” I observed. “Is everything alright?”

 

That would get him talking. Everybody always talks to the barmaids, because they don’t think that it matters. If they don’t know who they’re talking to, their tongue becomes as loose as the knot holding the beaten up carpet Cinda, Arianna and I had in our flat together.

 

“Yes, fine, thank you.” The man said.

 

“You sure?” I asked.

 

“Well . . .” There we go. “I’m just tired of waitresses trying to chat me up. It’s not a very pleasant experience for me.”

 

I froze.

 

“I think I’ll just—I’ll just go now.” I stuttered. The heat was rushing to my cheeks.

 

He watched me squirm for a moment, and then cracked a grin. He started laughing.

 

“I got you!” He said, not even bothering to cover up his laughter. “That one works every time!”

 

Now I was getting annoyed. So he had caught me in the act. So what? He didn’t have to act all smug about it.

 

“The beer’s two pounds ten pence.” I snapped at him. He seemed to realize he had crossed some invisible line.

 

“Hey,” He said. “I’m sorry.” I turned away, but he stood and grabbed my arm. “Really, I am.” He insisted. “I’m just pretty stressed right now.”

 

My gaze softened. “Fine. It’s okay.”

 

“What’s your name?” He asked, sitting back down.

 

“Deandra Misgen.” I said. “Are you schizophrenic?”

 

Don’t look at me like that! It was a valid question!

 

He laughed loudly. “No, I’m not. Not that I know of, anyway.” He said. “Deandra’s a pretty name.”

 

I snorted. “Right. I believe that.”

 

“Really.” He insisted. “I’m Hayden. Hayden Knight.”

 

He scrutinized me closely, maybe to see a flash of recognition across my face, but he wouldn’t have, because I had no idea who he was. I guess his face kind of looked familiar, but other than that . . . he could be a celebrity, I guess. I hadn’t read a Daily Prophet in years. It was sort of dangerous, not reading the paper, but it cost way too much, and I didn’t fancy digging the paper out of a garbage can like a hobo.

 

But as soon as he said his name, a girl looked over at him from a table. Her eyes widened. Hayden saw, and got a frightened look on his face. No, frightened wasn’t really the right word for it.

 

Cornered-wild-animal. That’s the word for it.

 

He slammed his money on the counter, and grabbed his beer. “Kaythanksgottagobye.” He said quickly, and ran out the door.

 

As soon as he was gone, another large group of people entered. I was about to help Vienna serve them, when I realized who they were.

 

At the front of the group stood a man with a shock of black hair and bright green eyes. Beside him stood a young woman with long red hair and a familiar smile. Holding hands with that woman was a man with light blonde hair and blue eyes.

 

The Weasleys.

 

I did the rational thing when faced with your old friends-who-are-now-enemies-but-not-really-we’re-adults-but-we-left-things-on-a-bad-note. I dove under the counter and army crawled to the kitchen.

 

No, I’m not even joking, here. Dead serious. This shit is real.

 

I wasn’t really surprised that they were here. I’ve had to hide from them before. But never at the place where I worked. Sunny Days was the safe zone.

 

Hanna was in the kitchen, working on a stew. “Hanna, hey.” I said, standing up and brushing myself off. “Can I have the rest of the day off? My friend is—erm—in the hospital—terrible accident—can I go see her?”

 

My question was hardly finished before Hanna said yes. “Of course, dear!” She exclaimed. “We’ll manage quite alright without you.”


“Thanks, Hanna.” I said, feeling terrible about lying to her. But before I could confess, I walked out of the restaurant. Once outside, I turned on my heel and Apparated to my flat.

 

Some people’s Apparation noise is a soft pop, or a crackle, but mine had the misfortune to be a loud crack. Because of this, I couldn’t really Apparate directly into my flat, because we live around muggles, and they can’t hear us Apparating. So I had to trek up five floors before being able to collapse on our couch.

 

I lived with Cinda and Arianna. They were the only ones that would take me after what happened, not that I asked anyone else. They were at work right now, it being 8:50 am, so I had the place to myself. Cinda was a journalist for Witch Weekly, and Arianna was a Hit Wizard. Cinda’s journalist job didn’t pay much, but between the two of us, we could pay our half, and Arianna paid the rest.

 

As I flipped through the channels on my WizTV, the morning replayed in my mind. Albus, Rose, Scorpius, and the rest of the Weasley clan walking in. Did they see me? Did they recognize me?

 

And if they did recognize me, what would they do? Hunt me down and demand an explanation? If the Weasley clan was anything like I remember, that was certainly not outside the realm of possibilities.

 

I pretty much was a couch potato the rest of the morning. I watched a bit of Potion Panic, a drama show where two detectives uncovered fake marriages.  In most cases, the situation included girls who had brewed love potion to get their husbands to fall in love with them. Then Inevitable Love Disasters came on, and everyone knows that show is trashy, so I turned it off.

 

Just after I had made myself some coffee and settled on the couch, debating whether to watch ILD simply out of boredom, the door opened and Cinda walked in.

 

“Dee! Why are you home so early?” She exclaimed. “Did something happen?”

 

“You could say that,” I muttered. It seemed silly now, taking the whole day off just because Al had walked into Sunny Days, but I was home now. Besides, my pride would never allow me to admit it aloud.

 

“Did the bar burn down? Did Hanna get hurt?” She didn’t ask about Vienna. Both Cinda and Arianna knew that if Vienna got hurt I would keep working. I hated the bitch.

 

“I—erm, I saw the Weasleys.” I admitted, my cheeks burning. I kept my head held high, though. “So I snuck out. Hanna thinks that one of you two got sent to Mungo’s for spell damage.”

 

Cinda pursed her lips at this story. “All because the Weasleys walked in?” She asked. I nodded. I silently challenged her to say something to me, but she just sat down next to me on the couch. “Anything good on?”

 

“No,” I grouched.

 

“Anything interesting happen at the bar today, besides the Weasleys?” Cinda asked.

 

“Well,” I remembered Hayden, and relayed what had happened to Cinda. When I was finished, she looked mildly surprised.

 

“What did you say his name was?”

 

“Hayden Knight.” I told her.

 

“Dee, that’s the prince of England.”

 

. . . 

 

Wow, I am really out of it. I didn’t even recognize the freaking prince of England.

 

Then reality hit me, and I nearly started crying. “Oh, gosh, Cinda! I tried to chat the prince of England up! He’s going to hunt me down and kill me! He’ll have me beheaded! I can’t die, Cinda! I’m too young!”

 

“He’s not going to kill you, Dee.” Cinda said with an amused expression on her face.

 

“How do you know? How do you know, Cinda?” I asked hysterically. “Oh my god!”

 

“Dee!” Cinda said loudly. “Chill!”

 

“No! Don’t you tell me to freaking chill, Lucinda Meriwether! I TRIED TO CHAT UP THE PRINCE OF FREAKING ENGLAND. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?”

 

“Shut her up.” Arianna whined as she walked into the flat. I turned on Arianna, opening my mouth to scream hysterics at her, but Cinda flicked her wand at me, and words ceased to come out of my mouth. I glared at her. She had Silencio’d me. Silently.

 

“What happened?” Arianna asked, setting her purse down on the counter and tossing herself on the couch next to me.

 

Cinda sniggered. “Dee tried to chat up the prince of England.” I shoved my face into a pillow, my cheeks flaming. “And she saw Albus Potter, so she hightailed it home.”

 

Arianna snickered. “Of course you did, Dee.”

 

“It isn’t a laughing matter.” I said through the pillow.

 

“Then why are we laughing?”

 

Cinda high-fived Arianna while I mumbled, “You two are terrible friends.”

 

There was a pause, and then Arianna spoke. “So you actually tried to chat up the prince of England, then?”

 

I groaned and suppressed a scream. “Okay, Dee,” Cinda said, taking my pillow away. “This is what’s going to happen. You’re going to go back into work tomorrow and apologize to Hanna. If the prince is there, you’re going to apologize to him for trying to chat him up. Oh, and if Albus is there, you aren’t going to hide from him.”

 

I glanced over at Arianna, who had taken out a deck of cards and started to make a card house on the coffee table. I decided to play it cool.

 

"Me? Hiding? From Albus Potter? Pshaw. Why on earth would I hide from a chap like that?”

 

“Maybe because you made him fall in love with you and then pulled it out from under his feet?” Arianna suggested as she carefully added to her card house.

 

“I—I did not make him fall in love with me! That was his choice!”

 

Cinda laughed. “Oh, Dee.” She said, ruffling my hair. “I’m going to go make a sandwich.” I glared at her.

 

“I have to take off, too.” Arianna said. “Love you, stay out of trouble.” She ruffled my hair as well.

 

“I’m not your child, you know!” I called to the both of them. “I am a perfectly mature and responsible young woman!”

 

Both Arianna and Cinda laughed at that one.

 

I glared.
 

 

EDIT: 12.5.12


Chapter 2: Chapter 2
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hey guys!  I'm back with chapter 2!  Thank you so much for all the reviews, they were lovely :) I'm glad you're liking the sequel :)

 

The next morning, I was hesitant as I stepped inside Sunny Days. I didn’t want to face Albus. I didn’t want to face the Prince. I didn’t want to make up some story about how my friend had gotten hurt for Hanna. I didn’t want to deal with Vienna. In fact, as soon as I stepped foot inside Sunny Days, I felt like a turning right back round again.
 

Which was ironic, because it was called ‘Sunny Days’.


“Oh, good morning, Deandra!” Hanna said, taking my coat for me. “Is your friend alright? Will she recover?”
 

“She’s fine,” I answered. “She’ll be in the hospital for a couple days, but she’ll be fine.”
 

“Oh, the poor dear.” Hanna said. “Are you sure you don’t want to visit her, honey?”
 

“No, I really need the money, Hanna.” I said politely. And Cinda would bite my head off if I skipped another day of work and lost another day of pay.
 

“Nonsense!” Hanna said. “It would be a paid vacation, of course! Go see your friend! She needs you to support her.”


Even though I hated lying to Hanna, I couldn’t turn that one down. A paid vacation? For no reason at all? It was like a dream come true.
 

“Alright,” I said. “But I’ll be back as soon as she’s out of the hospital.”
 

“It’s just fine, dear. Tell her I send her my best.”
 

I pulled my coat back on and trooped out into the street. I sidestepped into the alley that was used solely for the purpose of me Apparating without being seen or heard, and turned on my heel sharply.
 

I landed with a stumble in Hogsmeade. Nobody would find me here, and I could buy candy and sugar without any disapproving looks from my friends, an added bonus.
 

I made my way to the Three Broomsticks first, and ordered a butterbeer. I remembered when Lauren had been poisoned because Aidan and I wouldn’t stop arguing. It turned out to be Athena all along… I clenched my fist when I remembered the way she had told everybody in the Common room how I had been stringing them along. Making it sound as if I wanted to. As if I had a choice.
 

I stood suddenly. Madame Rosmerta looked my way suspiciously, as if she thought I wouldn’t pay up, but I tossed the coinage on the table and stormed out into the cold.


It was nearly October. I remembered the date I had with Tyler that hadn’t been much later in the year than now. With a smile, I remembered the first Quidditch match of the season, in which I was strategist and Al played Seeker. I remembered that Marianna, a Beater, and I had been friendly. I wondered where she had gotten off to. Maybe I should try to reconnect with her.
 

Then I shook my head, getting angry at myself. Trying to reconnect with old friends wouldn’t do me any good. In fact, it would probably just lead me to more run-ins with Albus, which I tried to avoid at all costs. It was like a constant game of hide and seek with him and I.
 

And speaking of hide and seek…
 

Albus walked out of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, which was located across from the Three Broomsticks nowadays. I had been heading into the shop, despite the dangers of seeing the Weasleys, because I needed some trick candles for Cinda’s birthday, which was coming up.
 

So, naturally, I ran right into him.
 

I fell to the ground, of course. Luckily—oh so luckily—he didn’t recognize me at first, because my hair had flown into my face. He offered me a hand, helping me up and apologizing.
 

“Sorry about that—wasn’t watching where I was going—”
 

I think that, when he dropped his hand, I saw a flash of recognition in his eyes—but then the adrenaline kicked in and I Apparated away, just as he was reaching out to grab my wrist, no doubt to keep me there.
 

I wasn’t even sure where I was Apparating to until the last moment—so naturally, when I landed in the Hog’s Head—which was stupid, because Albus was only a couple of streets away—I splinched, losing myself a couple of fingernails.
 

Oh well. Who needs fingernails?
 

I peeked out the door and saw Al walking by, his face hidden and his hands stuffed in his pockets. I sagged against the wall in relief.
 

Like a constant game of hide and seek between him and I.
 

*
 

A couple hours later, I was at Scrivenger’s, picking out some quills, when a young woman about my age tapped me on the shoulder. “Deandra?”
 

I turned around. I had to think back a bit, but I recognized her as Aimee Thompson, the pregnant girl I had met in the Hospital Wing. She had cut her hair to a blonde bob, but other than that, she hadn’t grown much from the time I last saw her.
 

“Aimee?” I asked. She nodded eagerly.
 

“Yeah! We met, in the Hospital Wing! I was getting the baby checked, and you were in for a Quidditch injury!”
 

“Hey, how is the baby?” I asked. It was nice to see her again. She didn’t seem to hate me, like all my other classmates, and for that I was glad.
 

“He’s fine.” Aimee said with a smile. “In fact, he’s just turned five last July. His name is Michael.” I remembered that Michael was the name of her dead fiancé. I glanced down at her left hand, and gasped.
 

“Who gave you this?” I asked, grabbing her hand and exposing the diamond on her finger to the light. “It’s beautiful! And huge! He must be rich.” I winked at her.
 

Aimee laughed. “How about we get a drink? I can explain what’s happened, and you can tell me what you did after you left.”
 

My face fell. “You heard about that?”
 

Aimee smiled at me. “Deandra, everybody heard about that. That’s why I even know to call you Deandra.”
 

“Oh,” I said. “Well, a drink sounds great. Or even a couple drinks. Let me just pay for this and then we’ll go. Let’s say, the Leaky?”
 

“Sounds good.” Aimee laughed. “The babysitter’s home with Michael, and she’s expecting me to be back in an hour and a half.”


I bought my quills and Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron with Aimee. We both got drinks and sat in a booth in the corner of the pub.


“So, how did you get engaged?” I asked. “Who’s the lucky guy?”


Aimee launched into explanation. “Well, I met this guy. He’s CEO of some big muggle company—yes, he’s a muggle—anyway, I met him two years ago. His name is Isaac Martin. We’ve been dating for a year and ten months now, and two weeks ago he proposed! The wedding’s in April.”
 

“And CEO of a company!” I complimented.
 

“I don’t care about his money, Deandra.” Aimee said, grinning. “It’s just a nice addition. But he really loves Michael, and I think Michael likes him too, and that’s really the most important thing, money or not. But he does have this big Victorian mansion—it’s a beautiful spot, I can’t wait to move in—but enough about me.” Aimee said, leaving me grinning. “What’ve you been up to?”
 

“Well, I have a job as a barmaid in a place just like this, only it’s muggle—” I began. I explained everything to Aimee. How I got my job at Sunny Days. How I lived in the Leaky Cauldron until Cinda and Arianna got out of school, and we got enough money for our flat. How my life was basically devoted to avoiding Albus. And the story that really made her laugh—how I chatted up the Prince of England.
 

“Of course, Deandra. Of course.” She giggled. She checked her watch. “Oh, it’s almost time for Abby to go—” I assumed Abby was the babysitter. “Say—Isaac should be home in a bit—do you want to meet him and Michael?”
 

“I’d love to,” I said. Aimee was so easy to talk to—I already felt like I had known her my whole life. Also, she wasn’t judging me like Cinda and Arianna always were, which was a nice change.
 

Aimee Side-Along Apparated me to her flat. As soon as we got there, a small, blond boy ran at Aimee. “Mummy!” He squealed, and launched himself into her arms.


“Hey, Mikey!” Aimee said, wrapping him into a hug and spinning him around. “How’s my favorite boy ever?”
 

“Hey, Ms. Thompson.” A girl about eighteen years old followed Michael. “He was really good today.”


“Thanks, Abby.” Aimee said. “How much do I owe you?”


Abby told her the amount while Aimee rummaged through her purse. Michael walked up to me and stared up at me with big blue eyes. “Mummy, who’s this lady?”
 

“Michael, that’s very rude—sorry, Abby, I think that’s all of it—introduce yourself.” Aimee scolded.
 

“Hi, I’m Michael Andrew Thompson.” Michael held out his tiny hand, and I shook it. “I’m five years old and I can do maaagiiic.” Michael held out the ‘a’ and the ‘i’ in the word magic, and Aimee turned to him.
 

“Michael, what did I say about telling people you could do magic? That’s what got you in trouble last time.” Aimee turned to me. “I brought Isaac home to meet Michael, and that’s the first thing that pops out of his mouth. I hadn’t even told Isaac yet—thank god he thought it was a joke. Thanks, Abby. Come back whenever, I could really use the help.”


Abby left just as a young man in his twenties entered the flat. Michael was distracted from me and yelled, “Daddy!” He ran and the man who I assumed was Isaac and launched himself into his arms.


That kid can really jump, let me tell you.
 

I glanced at Aimee. She shrugged.
 

“Hey, buddy!” Isaac said, setting him down. “What’s up? Have you been having fun today?”
 

Michael nodded, smiling widely, and Isaac said, “Good. How about you go to the kitchen and I’ll be there in a bit to make you a sandwich.”
 

Michael ran off, and Isaac turned to Aimee. “Hi, love.” He greeted. “Who’s this?”
 

“Isaac, this is Deandra, my old school friend.” Aimee introduced. “Deandra, this is Isaac, my fiancé.” Aimee winked and grinned from behind Isaac’s back when he turned to shake my hand.
 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Deandra.” He said smartly. “Did you also go to… er—” Isaac glanced at Aimee.
 

“Hogwarts,” She supplied.
 

“Hogwarts?” He asked, turning back to me with a smile.

“Yes,” I said. “I was in Gryffindor. Where dwell the brave at heart!” I laughed.
 

“Weren’t you in Hufflepuff?” Isaac asked Aimee. She nodded with a smile. It was clear that Isaac was working hard for her to understand a world he wasn’t part of. I smiled. Aimee deserved someone who worked that hard for her.
 

“Yes, and everyone knows Hufflepuff is the best.” Aimee said with a smile. I snorted. I still had a shred of house pride left, and Gryffindor was definitely, if not best, one of the greatest houses.
 

“Well, I have to head back.” I said, not wanting to intrude too long. “Cinda and Arianna will be worrying about me, and when they worry about me, generally they feel like they have to babysit me for a week.” I rolled my eyes. “I’ll see you around.”
 

“See you. We should do this again sometime.” Aimee said.
 

“Definitely.” I said as I turned on my heel and Apparated out of the flat.
 

I decided when I got back to the flat that I was truly happy for Aimee and Isaac, and especially Michael. She had been through a lot, and she had finally got her life in order—and obviously raised Michael right, despite being a single mother of 17 when she had him.
 

I just wish my life was as sorted as hers was.

 

So, what did you think?  Did you like Aimee and Michael and Isaac?  Tell me what you think - via review :) Chapter three should really be out soon, I hope :) Next chapter you should see some Prince of England action, and of course, more of Albus :)
 
 


Chapter 3: Chapter 3
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Deandra—wake the fuck up before I hex you.”


I opened one eye grouchily. Cinda was sitting on my bed, holding her wand close to my face. “Why did you ever get put in Hufflepuff?” I mumbled, rolling over and shoving my face into my pillow.


Cinda chose not to answer my question, and prodded me with her wand some more. “Deandra, I will slice your head off if you don’t get up right now. Get up.”


“I am going, lady! Get off my bed!” I exclaimed in annoyance, sitting up.


Cinda jumped off my bed and stared at me with a dangerous expression on her face. “You skipped work yesterday.”


“Hanna was giving me paid vacation—”


“Didn’t I specifically tell you not to skip work?”


“You’re not my mother!” I interrupted angrily. “And you can’t order me around! So quit it!”


“God, Deandra, you are so pathetic sometimes!” Cinda suddenly yelled. “Running away from your problems never works. You should know this by now! You shouldn’t be running away from Albus! You should be standing up to him! You should be angry at him! He tried to kill you, Deandra, and then he got mad at you for wanting revenge! A normal person would be angry!”


I was shocked by Cinda’s outburst. She was always protective of me, but I didn’t know she cared to this extent. I felt a bit of gratitude towards her, but that quickly turned to anger. What right did she have to be sticking her nose in my business? Where did she get off bossing me around?


“It’s none of your business!” I hissed at her, marching out of my bedroom angrily.


Arianna was in the kitchen area. “Cinda talk to you?” She asked me as I stormed around the flat, trying to find everything for work.


“Yes,” I growled, grabbing my coat and trying to put it on backwards.


“And?” Arianna asked.


“And nothing.” I responded. “I’m going to work.”


They had clearly teamed up on this. I vaguely wondered how long they had felt that way about my situation with Albus.


Then my mind began to process what Cinda had told me.


Why hadn’t I even gotten mad at Albus? There was truth in what Cinda said, after all. It was only natural to want revenge after being bullied for three years. And I hadn’t really done anything to him when I came back to school. Of course, there was the whole Aidan-Arianna thing, but other than that, the only thing I had done to them was making them like me, or, how Arianna put it, making them fall in love with me and then pulling it out from under them.


But isn’t that what they did to me? In my first year?


I pulled open the door to Sunny Days, still thinking.


I hadn’t done anything to them to make them hate me. We were perfectly good friends until the end of the school year, which I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember anything from the end of May to mid-June of that year.


Something had to have happened in that time frame. That was the only explanation.


I came to that conclusion just as our first customer walked in. I froze.


Hayden was back.


He saw me and bee lined to the stool in front of me. “Scotch, please.” He said, putting on a charming smile.


All thoughts of Albus and the others flew out the window, the new dilemma taking over my thoughts. How to get out of this situation.


“What are you doing here?” I asked, automatically setting the tankard of scotch down on the counter in front of him.


“Well, it’s actually a funny story.” He gave me a smile, and my heart fluttered. Even I couldn’t deny that he was extremely attractive. “I came here every day after I met this amazing girl who worked here, but she wasn’t there again, almost like she was avoiding me, until she showed up today.”


“Maybe she was avoiding you.” I said, pretending to be disinterested. “You can be pretty odd, you know. Especially when you’re rude to the girl, then rather nice, and then you run away from the bar without any reason that is apparent to the girl until she tells her friends about you, and they inform her that you’re the Prince of England.” I shrugged. “But maybe it’s something else.”


“Look,” Hayden began, the smile fading a little. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you at first. I just don’t usually tell many people, because they recognize me. For you not to seemed too good to be true.”


“Yeah, yeah.” I said. “Well, still. You could have mentioned something so I didn’t think I’d have my head chopped off for trying to flirt with you.”


Hayden grinned. “I don’t think you’d have your head chopped off as much as been attacked by all my fans.”


“Oh, trust me,” I muttered darkly. “I’ve been there, done that.” I was thinking of Albus again. He had been quite famous, being Harry Potter’s son and all. “Is there any other reason you’re here besides getting a drink and trying to talk to me?”


“Actually, there is.” Hayden said. “I was wondering if you’d do me the honor of accompanying me on a date tonight. I have dinner reservations for two at the Daynte, and I need someone to come with.”


I started freaking out. The very attractive Prince of England just asked me on a date. To one of the fanciest muggle restaurants in London. The place where all the rich people in London go. The place where I’d never be able to afford.


“You’re asking me to go to the Daynte with you?” I managed. Hayden nodded, smiling and awaiting my answer.


“Uh—yes?” Was all I could get out.


His smile widened. “Great! How about I pick you up at your flat and drive you there. See you at eight?”


“How do you know that I live in a flat?” I asked suspiciously.


“…you do work at a bar.”


“Shut up.” I said, scowling at him. I scrawled my address on a slip of paper and slid it across the counter. “This is where I live. Have fun hiking up the stairs.”


“There’s no elevator?”


“Nope.” I said cheerfully. “I guess you’re just going to have to haul your royal arse up four flights of stairs all by yourself.”


“Ha ha,” Hayden said sarcastically. “Here’s the money. See you at eight.”


The rest of the day went by in a sort of daze for me. It was a good day. I got to serve people while daydreaming about my royal (and handsome) date, while Vienna glared at me. I was always jealous of the people Vienna got to flirt with, but she had never gotten a date with one of them before.


When I got home, I was bursting at the seams to tell someone about my date, but I had fought with Cinda, and had decided I was no longer speaking to her, and Arianna wasn’t home. I didn’t want to bother Aimee with something like this, so I grudgingly got ready for my date without telling anyone.


At 8:00 sharp, the doorbell buzzed, and I ran to open it, half trying to strap up my right shoe, half trying to stuff my wand in my purse. You never know if it’ll come in handy.


I opened the door to a smiling Hayden. He looked absolutely delicious dressed up in a dinner jacket and holding a bouquet of flowers.


“These are for you.” He said, grinning, pushing the flowers into my face. His gaze dropped to my purse. “Is that a stick?”


I followed his glance and saw that my wand was sticking out of my purse. “Oh!” I said, pulling it out and tossing it to the floor with a wince. “Silly me! Must’ve left the dog’s toy in my purse again.” I laughed nervously.


“You have a dog?” Hayden asked, peering around me as if he was expecting to see a furry animal run at him. “Where is it?”


“With my roommate.” I answered quickly. “We should go before they get back. She’s with her boyfriend, and, well, you know—”


“Let’s go.” Hayden agreed with a smile. He looped his arm through mine and we traveled down the stairs to his car.


“A limousine?” I asked, astonished. “Where are you taking me?”


“I am the Prince of England.” He said with a charming smile.


“Fine,” I said, grabbing his tie and leading him into the limo. “Let’s go, Prince.”


“Sexy.” He said with a grin.


“On thin ice.” I sang back.


Ten minutes later, we pulled up in front of a fancy-looking restaurant. Hayden held the door open for me, and I stepped out onto the street, enjoying the sound my heels made on the concrete. He looped his arm through mine and we walked in the glass doors, stopping at the register. “Dinner reservation for two?” Hayden asked. The man’s eyes widened, but Hayden shushed him. “Booked under ‘Knight’. The most private booth you have?”


“Yes, of course.” The man said in a French accent. “I’ll get you there right away, Your Highness.”


Hayden shushed him again, and the man called a waiter over. “Hi, I’m Armando, and I’ll be your server tonight.” Armando said, struggling to keep a stoic expression. “Follow me to your table, please.”


I glanced at Hayden, who sent me a grin. “I figured you didn’t want to be bothered by the press on our date.” He muttered to me as we followed Armando to the back of the restaurant.


“That was very thoughtful of you.” I muttered back. We sat at our table, and Armando brought us both high glasses of water, condensation dripping down the sides. I took a sip, and Hayden smiled at me. For some reason, through my water glass, it looked more like a leer. I set my glass down.


Nope, still a leer.


“I’m glad I did.” He said. “You’ve already got a secret admirer. Although maybe he’s not so worried about being secret.” He gestured towards a table behind me.


I glanced back, and almost spit out my drink.


Rose and Scorpius were staring unabashedly at me. I turned too quickly to make eye contact, but Hayden noticed my reaction.


“Friends of yours?” He asked.


“Definitely not.” I spluttered into a napkin. They wouldn’t consider me a friend, anyway.


“Really? Because they’re heading over here right now.” Hayden told me. I glanced back to see that Rose and Scorpius were indeed heading over to our table.


“Loo.” I managed quickly, and fled to the restroom as quickly as I could without running. I caught a glimpse of Rose and Scorpius staring after me, looking disappointed, before they disappeared behind the door.


I stared at myself in the mirror. I was pale and breathing heavily from my escape. I really needed to get into shape.


The door began to open, and I hid in the last stall. “Del?” Rose asked. “Del—Deandra—whatever—I know you’re in here. You can’t hide, and there’s nowhere to run, so please just come out.”


I held my breath, and crouched on top of the toilet seat, hiking my skirt up to my knees and praying that it didn’t get soaked with toilet water, and that Rose didn’t notice me.


“I’m not mad at you, Del.” She said. Interesting. She was still using my fake name. “Please just come out. I want to talk.”


I didn’t make a noise.


“Okay, Del.” Rose said. She was never known for her patience. “If you don’t come out right now, I’m going to start opening these stall doors, I don’t care if you’re actually using the loo or not.” She paused, and when I didn’t respond, the stall doors started banging against the walls. She went down the line, checking each stall, until she reached mine. She paused, and I tried to get into a more dignified position before my door swung open.


Rose stood there for a full minute before bursting out laughing. “Oh, Del.” She gasped, and continued laughing. I glanced in the mirror at the way I was positioned on the toilet seat, and started laughing with her. I stepped off the seat, and bent over in laughter.


“Merlin, Del, I’ve missed you.” Rose said, and pulled me into a hug. I almost cried, I was so glad to see her. I was relieved, too. It was like a breath of fresh air, knowing Rose wasn’t furious with me. “But you don’t go by Delilah anymore, do you?”


I shook my head, with a small smile on my face. “It’s Deandra now. My friends call me Dee.”


Rose tested the name on her tongue. “Dee. That’s going to take some getting used to.” She said. “Well, Dee, who’s the handsome young man who’s sitting out there, waiting for you?”


“You’ll never guess.” I said, grinning at the fact that Rose couldn’t tell who the Prince of England was anymore than I could.


“Who?” Rose asked persistently.


I told her, and she squealed loudly. “Del—Deandra Misgen! How did you meet the Prince of England?” I told her about my bar job, and how on the very same day I met him, I saw her, Albus, and Scorpius.


“Al’s fine, by the way.” Rose said. I opened my mouth to tell her I never asked about Al, but she held up her hand. “You were never going to ask, but I know you want to know. He’s doing alright. He’s got this new brunette girlfriend who’s nice, but she’s not you.”


“Al doesn’t want me, Rose.” I said, plopping myself on the counter. “You should have seen the way he looked at me in Hogsmeade.”


“You two met in Hogsmeade?” Rose asked, looking surprised. “Al didn’t tell me.”


“It was only for a moment.” I explained. “And I ran away from him. Apparated two blocks. Lost fingernails.”


“Of course you did.” Rose said. “You’re a terrible Apparater, no offence, Dee.”


“You’ve never even seen me Apparate!” I exclaimed, offended.


“You just have that look about you.” Rose said, waving her hand in my general direction.


“What look?” I asked, laughing. “There’s no look. You just made that up.”


Rose shrugged. “Maybe I did.” She said. “We should go back out there. Our dates are waiting for us.” She jerked her head toward the main dining room. “Have fun with the prince!”


“I hope so. Have fun with Scorpius.” I said. “Has he proposed yet?”


Rose laughed. “Not yet. But it’ll be any day now, I can feel it. Now go eat expensive food and take advantage of royalty.” I chuckled, and walked out the door, heading back to me and Hayden’s table.


“Took you long enough.” He remarked. Bleh. I hated people who said that.


“Oh, hush, I wasn’t gone that long. Just ran into an old friend in the restroom.” I told him.


“Who?” Hayden asked. “Someone I know?”


“Definitely not.” I said, remembering how Rose couldn’t even identify Hayden. Besides, I would think that most magical folk would try to keep themselves under the radar of the royal family.


“Oh.” Hayden said, looking a bit put out. “Well, here comes our food. I ordered for you. I hope you don’t mind.”


I kind of did mind. I really didn’t like it when men took it upon themselves to start doing things for me. But since it was the first date, and Hayden didn’t really know me, I would give him a pass. Just this once. “Thanks.” I said.


Al would’ve known that you don’t like that stuff.


I growled at the little voice in my head. For the first year or so, when I was trying to get out and date other guys, that voice had been a constant companion. It had made it basically impossible for me to have a proper date. It was only back now because I had just talked to Rose. It would not ruin me and Hayden’s date. He was the Prince of England, for crying out loud. Who was I to say who he could order for and who he couldn’t?


“Steak.” He announced. I hid a grimace. Steak was one of my least favorite meats, second only to fish. The waiter put the food in front of me, and I smiled and thanked him. It seemed like the right thing to do in a restaurant like this.


“So.” He said, digging in to his dish. “How did you come to work in a bar as a bartender? How did you get to London? I want to hear all about it.”


Our date suddenly felt like an interrogation. I didn’t like it. Hayden was not getting off to a good start, not at all. I tried to come up with a believable story to explain how I got to London.


In the end, I settled with the story of my parents dying in a fire, and me being shipped off to my aunt’s, and living the rest of my life here. It wasn’t exactly a lie, but it wasn’t exactly the whole truth, either. Not even close, really.


“Went to a boarding school.” I said. “It was called… the Meade Academy.” I invented with Hogsmeade on the mind. I remembered my first date with Al, and how great it was compared to this one. “High caliber. I was smart.”


“Then how on earth did you end up working in Sunny Days?” Hayden asked. “If you were so smart.”


I glared at him playfully. “I was smart. I just didn’t apply myself! And then my aunt died, so I didn’t have money to go to college. Simple as that.”


“Wow.” Hayden said. “You know, I could pay for a college education for you. It wouldn’t be hard.”


“No.” I said immediately. The degree I wanted couldn’t come from muggle money. “I can’t let you do that. I want it to be me who pays for it.”


“Of course you do.” Hayden said, laughing and shoveling food into his mouth. “You’re stubborn. That’s why I like you.” I looked away. I had been called stubborn before, but somehow, this time it didn’t come off endearing like Hayden had meant it to be. It came off sort of… demeaning.


Suddenly, I felt suffocated. I glanced towards Rose. She looked at me, and somehow after all these years, we could still communicate with our eyes. I rolled them towards the ceiling, indicating I was suffering, and she grimaced. I made a face, and she glanced at Scorpius, indicating she wasn’t willing to end her date to provide a distraction for me. I jerked my head and gave her a look, and she sighed. I smiled and turned back to Hayden. “You were saying?”


He glanced between Rose and I, and then shook his head. “Are you not having a good time?” He asked.


I glanced at Rose. She was heading over, while Scorpius paid the waiter. I turned back to Hayden. “Frankly, Hayden, I didn’t. You were a perfect gentleman, but just a bit too old fashioned for me. Some tips: I don’t like being ordered for, I don’t like being offered money, and that smile that you think is endearing comes off as more of a leer. That’s all.” I smiled sweetly at him, thinking that maybe it was a bad idea to insult the Prince of England like that, and left with Rose to the ladies’.


“Wow, Del—Dee. Way to be harsh.” She said.


I shrugged. “He was suffocating me.” I said. “Can we Apparate out of here?”


“Scorpius is coming.” Rose said. “We’ll wait for him.” Just as she finished speaking, the door opened, and Scorpius walked in.


“Del?” He asked, rubbing his eyes.


“She goes by Deandra now, Scorpius.” Rose reprimanded. “Wow, way to be crass.” But Scorpius wasn’t listening. He walked towards me slowly. He stopped right in front of me, and then, as if in a trance, raised his hand and bitch slapped me right across the cheek.


“Mother of—!” I bent over, holding my cheek. I knew it could have hurt a lot more, coming from Scorpius. He was a strong bloke, and it had only stung a little. He hugged me really tightly after I was done dramatizing cheek, though. But I could not get over the fact that Scorpius Malfoy had just bitch slapped me.


“I guess I deserved that.” I said sheepishly.


“Yes, you did.” Rose said. “But not from a bloke.” She glared at Scorpius. “You poor thing! Did he hurt you?”


“No, it just stings, Rose.” I said. “It’s fine.”


“I didn’t even hit her that hard.” Scorpius said. “Where have you been, Deandra, we’ve been worried sick.” He said it flatly, like my mother would, or my aunt.


“Oh, you know.” I said airily. “Around.”


“Yeah, around isn’t quite good enough.” Scorpius said. “Merlin, Dee, we’ve all missed you a lot, especially Al.”


“Yeah, right.” I snorted. I remembered how he had reacted when he had discovered who I really was in the Gryffindor Common Room that night.


“Yeah, right.” Scorpius said in earnest, glancing at Rose.


The next chain of events happened so quickly that I hardly had time to process it. Rose sprang forward and grabbed my hand and Scorpius’s. The door swung open to reveal Hayden. Rose turned on her heel, and Hayden’s jaw dropped as we Disapparated away from the ladies’ loo.


“Damn it, Rose!” I exclaimed when we landed. “Where are we?”


“Shh!” Rose said, putting her finger to her lips. She jerked her head towards a door, and I realized I was in a kitchen, probably in Scorpius and Rose’s flat. I peeked through the doorway, and saw two people on the couch, snogging pretty intensely. One had jet black hair, and the other had long, brown and glossy hair.


I think you can guess who they were.


Albus looked up when I squeaked loudly. His green eyes widened, and I popped my head back in the kitchen.


“I’m leaving!” I announced to Rose and Scorpius.


“No, you’re not.” Rose said flatly.


“I’m Apparating out of here right now!” I said.


“No, you’re not, because Scorpius has your wand.” Rose said. Scorpius pulled out my wand and twirled it in his fingers, grinning madly.


“Got it when I slapped you.” He said. “I feel like the Mad Hatter.”


“A) You don’t have any hats, and B) how do you even know who the Mad Hatter is?” I asked, making a swipe for my wand. He held it above his head, far out of my reach.


“Ah ah ah!” He said, sounding like a creeper. “We’ve scoured the country for you, Dee. The freaking country. There is no way we’re letting you go now.”


“I have a life, you know!” I said, deciding Scorpius was a lost cause and turning to Rose, the historically rational one. “People will come looking for me! This qualifies as kidnap! I’m sure there’s some sort of law against this—eep!”


The ‘eep’ wasn’t planned, of course. The ‘eep’ was because Al Potter had just walked in the room, looking very, very pissed off. And he was staring right at—


Rose.


He was completely ignoring me.


Maybe that’s a good thing.


Yeah, that’s a good thing.


“What is she doing here?” He asked flatly.


“We found Del, Albus!” Rose said cheerfully. “Now you can break it off with her—” Rose jerked her head towards the living room. “—and make up with Del! Well, actually, she goes by Dee now, but if it’s all the same to you—”


“Rose, I told you not to go looking for her.” Albus said, his eyes smoldering. I cowered in the corner, trying to look anywhere but him.


“She’s our friend too, Albus.” Rose hissed. “We discussed this.”


I glanced at Scorpius with my most pleading expression. He hesitated, and then shrugged. He tossed me my wand. I mimed a knight in shining armor. He grinned and shrugged, and then made shooing motions with his hand. I nodded fervently.


And all this was done behind Rose and Al’s backs. Man, are we good.


With a little salute, I turned on my heel, and focused on my flat. The last thing I saw were Al and Rose’s surprised expressions.


I landed in my flat with a loud crack. Cinda rushed forward. “How did it go?” She asked. “Was he a perfect gentleman?”


“A little too perfect.” I muttered, suddenly extremely tired. It had been a long night. “I think I pissed him off a little. He chased me into the ladies’ loo when Rose and Scorpius were kidnapping me.”


“What? Arianna!”


“No—Cinda, I just want to go to bed.” I said, pulling my heels off.


“Deandra!”


I was already halfway down the hall. “G’night, Cinda! G’night, Arianna!”


“You are telling me details in the morning, young lady!” Cinda called after me.


“Yeah, yeah.” I muttered, slamming the door to my bedroom behind me. “You sound like my mother.”


Oh god, you guys. It has been waaaaay too long. But, you know, life happened... not that hat's any excuse. I really hope to have the next chapters up sooner, but no promises. I have school and stuff. I'm really sorry. If I still have any readers at all left, you should review. Really. Not that I deserve it. But still.

EDIT 11.27.12- all credit for the Mad Hatter goes to Lewis Carrol :)

XX Delia


Chapter 4: Chapter 4
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That wasn't so long of a wait, was it?  And I have a nice long chapter for you.  I think it's 4,400 words or something like that.  I was racing to get it in before the queue closed :)  Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah (I had to look up how to spell that :P) or whatever you celebrate to all of you!  I should have a couple chapters lined up by the time the queue opens again.

 

 

I woke up with a start to Cinda’s face looming over me. I screeched and rolled over off the bed, clawing at the sheets as I went. I landed with a loud thump on my back, and the air was momentarily knocked out of me.

 

“You really have to stop waking me up like that, Cinda.” I spluttered, still struggling for breath.

 

“You’re fine.” Cinda said nonchalantly, hopping off the bed and offering me a hand. I took it and pulled myself up with her help, dusting myself off. I realized I was still wearing the dress I had worn last night, and I remembered vaguely the events that had taken place the night previous. I groaned loudly, and stumbled to my closet.

 

“Details, remember?” Cinda said. “Meet Arianna and I in the kitchen. I’m making pancakes.”

 

“Ciindaaa!” I heard Arianna screech. “Your pancakes are on fiiire!”

 

Cinda cursed, and ran out the door before she could hear me ask, “Can I just have cereal?”

 

I sighed, and grabbed my favorite pair of sweats and a Weird Sisters t-shirt from a box on the floor of my closet. It served largely as my laundry basket that I rarely used, due to the fact that I thought it was a lot easier to just wave my wand and have everything be clean again.

 

After I had dressed and splashed water on my face in the bathroom that Arianna and I shared (Cinda got her own because she was paying 5% more for the flat than the two of us), I walked down the short hall to the kitchen area, where I could smell burnt pancakes poorly masked by cooking eggs. Arianna had evidently been placed on breakfast duty, which may have been the best decision of the day. Cinda was historically bad at cooking.

 

Cinda, who was sitting at the small, wooden kitchen table, jumped up when she saw me. “Sit down!” She ordered me, grabbing my hand and leading me to the table. “Details! Now! What happened last night? Did he kiss you? Did you snog? Did you have dirty sex in the bathroom?”

 

“What?” I spluttered, my cheeks beginning to flame.

 

“You’re right.” Cinda said, looking thoughtful. “That’s pretty unlikely.”

 

Arianna saw my face, and laughed. “Give her some time to wake up, Cinda. I’m sure that she’ll tell you everything.”

 

I raised my eyebrows at her, and she gave me a look. I smirked and shrugged, turning back to Cinda.

 

“You burnt your pancakes?” I asked her. Cinda glared at me.

 

“That was your fault.” She said. “You distracted me.”

 

“You were the one who decided to wake me up by sticking your nose in my face.” I said, putting my hands on the edge of the table, and pushed my chair back on its two back legs. “That was all you.”

 

Cinda rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at me. Arianna swished her wand through the air. The eggs flew from the pan to three plates that were sitting in front of each chair. I picked up my fork and dug in. Arianna pointed her wand at the refrigerator, and the pumpkin juice levitated itself to our table and poured itself into each of our glasses. Arianna sat down and dug in to her meal.

 

“Mmm.” Cinda said when she tasted the eggs. “These are really good, Arianna. But my pancakes would’ve been better. If they hadn’t burned.”

 

“Sure, Cinda.” Arianna said, barely containing a smile. Both Arianna and I knew that the only person Cinda’s cooking could rival was mine.

 

“So.” Cinda turned her attention to me. “Dee. I want details, now. What happened last night? How did Scorpius and Rose kidnap you?”

 

“Scorpius and Rose kidnapped you?” Arianna asked, nearly spitting out her pumpkin juice. “Where did they take you? How did you escape? I’m going to kill them.” She reached for her wand, but I snatched it away.

 

“It’s not how it sounds, you two, so you can relax.” I snapped.

 

“What happened, then?” Arianna asked. I closed my eyes for a moment, replaying last night in my brain, then I opened my eyes and explained everything to them, from when Hayden rang the doorbell to when I Apparated back to the flat.

 

Arianna leaned back and whistled. “Wow, you’ve had a night.”

 

“I know, right?” I asked. “And you—” I gestured at Cinda with my fork, the bit of egg that I had just speared nearly falling off. “—thought that I was just avoiding the question.”

 

Cinda’s eyes were narrowed, and her lips were pressed tightly together. “What’s up?” I asked, recognizing her face. “Upset ‘cause I ran away again?”

 

“Well, there’s that.” Cinda said, pushing her chair out and bringing her plate to the sink. “And there’s the fact that you seem to be utterly convinced that you are completely in the wrong here.”

 

“What are you talking about?” I asked, even though I thought I knew what she was talking about.

 

For the past couple of years, Cinda and I had fought a couple times over how I should be reacting to the whole chain of events in seventh year, and even the years before, when I was Deandra-before-Delilah. She thought I should be angry. She thought I should yell and yell at Albus and the boys and that they were completely in the wrong.

 

But I just didn’t feel that way. For one, Albus and the boys—actually, just Albus—scared the hell out of me. They were anomalies to me. I didn’t understand how they could love me one moment, and then hate me the next. It had happened two times—I knew why they hated me now. I would hate it too, if I had fallen in love with a boy who wasn’t who he said he was. But before that, I must’ve done something bad—it was even worse that I couldn’t remember that month of my life. The last month of first year just wasn’t there. And it was second year when they started hating me.

 

It was my fault both times. Why would I be mad at them? I would apologize to them, every last one of them, a million times until they forgave me if I wasn’t so scared of Albus. He was a stranger to me now. I had no idea how he would react.

 

“I’ve told you, Cinda—it’s none of your business.” I said as she slammed her plate in the sink so hard that it broke. Cinda cursed and pulled out her wand to fix it. “I don’t understand why you’re angry at me for it anyway! If you care that much, hunt them down!”

 

“Yeah, that’s the thing, Deandra.” Cinda said, turning to face me. “I’ve tried. But they’re just as well hidden as you are, which leads me to believe that they are just as scared of you as you are of them!”

 

“They’re not hiding, Cinda!” I said loudly, standing. “Did you even listen to me? They aren’t looking for me, Cinda. They don’t care!”

 

“Rose and Scorpius were, Dee. Were you listening to yourself? They practically kidnapped you to get you back to Potter!” Cinda turned to Arianna. “Back me up, here!”

 

Arianna shrugged, and moved to sit on the counter next to Cinda. “I don’t care about Scorpius and Rose and the others.” She said. “I think you’re better off without them. But don’t you feel angry at him, Dee? Don’t you want to yell at him? Don’t you want to just—I dunno, hex him in to the next century?”

 

“Sorry, I don’t get murderous tendencies about my exes—I think that particular quality is reserved for the Slytherins.” I growled, glaring at the two of them. There was a little voice in the back of my head warning me not to pick a fight with the both of them, but I ignored it.

 

“You’re so stupid, Dee!” Cinda yelled, her voice reaching a hysterical level. “You think that it’s all your fault, but it’s not! We saw it happen, we were there! It’s there’s!”

 

“Yeah, but that’s the thing. You weren’t there. You didn’t see the way he looked at me. You didn’t see the way they—you weren’t there. You two have nothing to do with this.” I said, my voice seething. I stormed out of the flat, grabbing my coat as I went and shrugging into it after slamming the door.

 

*

 

“Dee!” I dropped a mug and turned suddenly. Rose, who had somehow gone unnoticed, was sitting at the table next to me. She disregarded the mug and pulled me into the chair across the table.

 

“Rose!” I hissed. “I’m working! You know, work, that thing that people have to do when their parents aren’t rich and famous? Yeah, I’m in the middle of that!”

 

Rose feigned a hurt expression. “It’s not my fault my parents saved your sorry arse from the Dark Lord himself.” She sniffed. “It just turned out that way. And besides, your boss is a pushover. She gave you two extra sick days to visit your friend in the ‘hospital’.”

 

“Stalking me, much?” I asked. “How do you know about that?”

 

Rose shrugged. “Talked to the bitchy blonde. Vienna? Is that her name? She hates you, you know.”

 

“Most people do.” I grumbled, glaring in Vienna’s general direction.

 

Rose rolled her eyes. “When are you going to let that go? Al doesn’t hate you, you know. He just… he just strongly dislikes you at the moment.”

 

I snorted loudly. “Okay, Rose. That makes me feel so much better.”

 

“At the moment.” Rose emphasized. “And the rest of us miss you, Dee. Tell you what,” She said, leaning across the bar. “You come over to my flat for lunch. Al won’t be there, I promise. Just me and Scorpius. You can explain everything.”

 

“Yeah, right.” I said distrustfully. “Like hell Al won’t be there. You kidnapped me last night. Don’t think I forgot about that!”

 

Rose rolled her eyes. “Would you have come with us if we hadn’t? And I think ‘kidnapped’ is a bit of a strong word, don’t you? I mean, we let you go, in the end.”

 

“Scorpius let me go.” I corrected. “I’m sure you would have kept me there all night, and had me meet Al’s new girlfriend!”

 

Rose’s face fell a little at the mention of Al’s girlfriend. “She’s hardly new. And not really his girlfriend.” She muttered unhappily, like a moody child.

 

“How long have they been dating?” I asked curiously. “What’s her name?” Even though I hadn’t exactly stayed single since I had run away from Hogwarts, I hadn’t had a serious relationship with anybody. I was a little hurt that he could get over me that quickly.

 

I stopped that train of thought. I had no right to be jealous. I didn’t even know when they had started dating. They could have met two months ago, for all I know.

 

Rose frowned unhappily. “I don’t like thinking about it.” She said. “You’ll have to ask him. Or, I’m sure Scorpius would tell you. But you’d have to come over to our flat.”

 

I hesitated for a moment. I knew that it was just bait to get me back. But, on the other hand, now I was really curious about Al’s girlfriend. Or, his not-a-girlfriend, as Rose put it.

 

“Fine.” I sighed loudly, throwing my hands in the air. “You got me. I’ll be there.”

 

“Thank you so much, Dee!” Rose said, cheering immediately. She jumped up, smiling from ear to ear. “I promise you won’t regret this!”

 

“Al better not be there!” I called as she grabbed her jacket and walked out the door of Sunny Days.

 

“He won’t be!” She called back cheerfully, and disappeared with a swish of her bright red hair.

 

I grabbed a rag and wiped the bar down, for something to do. I couldn’t believe what I had just agreed to. I was going into the belly of the beast. Out of the cauldron and into the fire. Whatever you’d like to call it, I was in trouble. Deep, major trouble.

 

I was totally going to regret this.

 

*

 

Just after I got off for lunch, I shrugged my coat on and walked out to the back alley. I closed my eyes and visualized the room I was in yesterday in Rose’s flat. Then, crossing my fingers, I turned on my heel sharply, Apparating to the kitchen.

 

I appeared with a loud crack, and someone shrieked loudly. I heard a loud thump, and shattering glass. I cracked open one eyelid, and saw Rose on the ground, her hair poofed around her face. She had evidentially been holding a mixing bowl when I Apparated straight in front of her.

 

“Rose?” I heard a familiar male voice call from the living room. I froze just as Aidan popped his head in the door. “Rose, are you… o… kay?” His eyes widened as he saw me, and I prepared to Disapparate instinctively.

 

“Oh no you don’t!” Rose gasped from the ground, and grabbed the hem of my coat just as I turned, visualizing the alley.

 

I appeared on the street. Rose jumped up, dusting herself off, and then patted herself down. “What on earth are you doing?” I asked incredulously.

 

“Checking for all my body parts! I don’t want to have splinched!” She said frantically, patting her arms. “Still have arms… legs… butt… breasts! I still have my boobs!” I gaped as she hugged herself thankfully. It was possibly the weirdest thing I had ever seen, and living in London, I had seen some pretty questionable things.

 

“Now…” She rounded on me. “You! You said you would have lunch round my place!”

 

“And you said no one would be there!” I retorted angrily.

 

“I never said that!” Rose protested. “I said that Al wouldn’t be there. I never said anything about Nathan and Aidan.”

 

“Nathan’s there too?” I asked. “That’s just great. I’m never going to your flat again, you know that?”

 

Rose regarded me for a moment, and then she jumped forward and grabbed my forearm. “Rose!” I managed to exclaim indignantly before we Apparated away again. “You have to stop doing that!” I said, scowling as we reappeared in her kitchen.

 

Aidan and Nathan were standing in the kitchen. Aidan’s eyes widened again when he saw me, and then he scowled. I was a little surprised by this. I guess that I thought that if anybody out of all my friends would forgive me, it would have been Aidan.

 

Why was he out of all of them (excluding Al, of course) holding a grudge against me? He really shouldn’t have been affected by it at all. In fact, he should be welcoming me with open arms! I was his cousin! Why was he still angry at me?

 

The only explanation I could think of was that blank month in my first year, and, of course, I had no idea what I did, because it was blank.

 

“What is she doing here?” Aidan asked, glaring at Rose.

 

“Aidan, if you don’t want me to bring her round, you need to tell me why I can’t tell her what she did!” Rose exclaimed angrily.

 

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “What did I do?”

 

Aidan and Rose ignored me. Nathan sent me a little apologetic smile, but I didn’t return it.

 

“There’s a reason she can’t know.” Aidan snarled.

 

“You have no right to treat her this way when she doesn’t even know why.” Rose retorted, crossing her arms across her chest.

 

“It’s not your decision to make, Rose.” Nathan said, speaking for the first time. “It’s the Ministry’s, and St. Mungo’s. If we could tell her, we would.”

 

“Tell me what?” I asked loudly. “What did I do?”

 

“I’m so sorry, Deandra, we can’t tell you.” Nathan said. “You go by Deandra now, right?”

 

I nodded stiffly. Aidan regarded me coldly. “I hate that name.” He said, shooting venom at me. “I hate you. Get out.”

 

“Aidan Clarke, this is my flat.” Rose said just as coldly. “You cannot kick people out of my flat, no matter how much you hate them. You get out. Go on. Leave.”

 

“No way.” Aidan said, looking angry. “As soon as I leave, you’ll spill the beans. I’m not going to risk that.”

 

“I’ll still be here, Aidan.” Nathan said. “You go. You’re not thinking rationally.” Aidan spun around to face him. Something seemed to pass between the two of them, because Aidan turned on his heel and Disapparated with a loud pop. I stared at the spot where he had vanished. I was a little angry with him. He was supposed to be my family.

 

But what had I expected, really? It’s not like we had ever been that close. We had played together when we were little, sometimes, but his parents had never liked mine. We only really had that one year, and whatever friendship we had then was ruined by whatever I had done. My anger shifted from Aidan to myself. I had been idolizing him this whole time, when I was really just missing my parents.

 

“Never mind him.” Rose said, although she was still clearly angry. “We can still have lunch the three of us.”

 

“Rose…” I said. I really didn’t want to stay here. It seemed painful.

 

“Deandra, please.” Rose pleaded. “I haven’t seen you in so long.”

 

“I promise I’ll come by tomorrow.” I said. “I really have to go.” I turned on my heel and Disapparated. I appeared in front of my old house, my parents’ old house. I hadn’t been here in ages. They had given it to me in their will. They had completely paid of the mortgage, so it didn’t cost me much to maintain. I could have lived here until Cinda and Arianna got out of school, but I really hated visiting. There were too many memories.

 

I walked up the overgrown path and unlocked the door. I walked through the hallway, which still had all of our family pictures hanging on it. They were dusty from lack of cleaning over the years. The whole house was.

 

I winced when I stepped on the first stair. It always creaked loudly, and I hated it as a child. When I reached the landing, I instinctively turned down the long, narrow hallway. The door at the end was my parents’ room.

 

I pushed the door open. The room was exactly how they had left it all those years ago. I hadn’t touched a thing. The sheets were rumpled, as if the bed had been recently slept in. My father’s clothes were all over the floor, as was his habit. There was a small dresser and a mirror. There were still reminders for my father written in my mother’s neat handwriting. There was a calendar for the year 2020, the year they died.

 

I curled up on my mother’s side of the bed like I used to when I had a bad dream. I would come to my mum, and she would stroke my hair and sing to me until I fell to sleep. I felt a tear slip down my face. I didn’t often miss my parents. It had been a long time since they died. But I could really use a mum and dad right now.

 

I cried myself to sleep on my parents’ bed, occupying it for the first time in eight years.

 

*

 

I woke up in the morning to the sound of birds chirping. I slowly raised my head. I had sprawled all over the bed in the middle of the night, and my clothes and hair were rumpled and a little dusty from the sheets. The sun was shining through the window, illuminating the dust that I hadn’t seen before. The whole room was coated in it. I made a face and rolled out of bed.

 

I checked my watch. It was 7:01 in the morning. I had about an hour before I had to be at work. I grabbed my purse and walked back out of the house, locking the door behind me. Then I Disapparated back to my flat, preparing myself for the questions from Arianna and Cinda that I would surely receive.

 

Cinda was sitting in her favorite arm chair in front of the TV when I walked in the door. She didn’t look at me when I came in, but I could practically feel her perk up. I quietly put my purse down and crept to the bathroom to take a shower.

 

When I got out, the bathroom steaming and my hair sopping, I wrapped a towel around my body and stepped into my bedroom, both Cinda and Arianna were sitting on my bed. I yelped and almost dropped the towel, before running back into the bathroom with the first article of clothing I could find, a long shirt.

 

“What are you two doing in there?” I yelled at them through the bathroom door, pulling the shirt over my head and wrapping the towel around my waist. I looked ridiculous, but I walked back into my bedroom anyway. I needed pants.

 

“Late night last night, huh?” Cinda asked. I glared at her pathetically and grabbed underwear and jeans from a pile on my floor. I walked back into the bathroom and closed the door to change.

 

“It’s really none of your business,” I said, opening the door and starting to brush my hair out.

 

“Yes, well, you know I’m going to find out anyway, so just tell us. Which one were you sleeping with, Albus or Hayden?” Cinda prodded.

 

I choked on my own spit, and started coughing. Arianna hopped up and pounded on my back with her fist.

 

Once I had recovered, Arianna led me to the bed, and the three of us sat in a circle, like we did in Salem when we couldn’t sleep. “So, which one was it?” Cinda asked. They both leaned forward slightly, awaiting my answer eagerly.

 

“None! Neither of them!” I exclaimed. “My god, you two! Why can’t I spend the night at the bar for extra money? Is that so unbelievable?”

 

“I went to the bar last night!” Arianna said. “You weren’t there, I didn’t see you.”

 

“I must’ve been taking a loo break.” I said, putting on an unconvinced look. “Honestly, you two, I was at the bar. I was fine.”

 

“You were at the bar all night?” Cinda asked disbelievingly.

 

“Well, no.” I said. “I, er—I spent the night at my grandmother’s place.”

 

“Your grandmother’s.” Cinda said, dryly.

 

“Yeah!” I said. “Old Granny Misgen. She’s getting up there; the woman’s a hundred and two.”

 

Arianna and Cinda exchanged a look. “Deandra, your ‘Old Granny Misgen’ died ten years ago. You told us when you came to Salem, remember? You said, and I quote, that the woman was ‘a menace to society’ and that you were ‘bloody glad she had kicked the bucket.’”

 

“Cousin.” I amended. “I was with my cousin.”

 

“Now, why couldn’t you have just told us you were with Aidan? We would have accepted that.” Cinda said. “It would have been easy.”

 

“Because…” I floundered. “Because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings!” I said, looking at Arianna. Her eyebrows flew up her forehead. “I mean, the Aidan thing is still a bit of a touchy subject…”

 

“No it’s not, Deandra.” Arianna sighed. “Honestly, I’m over it.”

 

“My mistake!” I said cheerfully. “I’ll tell you next time. Now, if you guys could excuse me, I really have to get to the bar.”

 

“Again?” Arianna asked. “You worked late last night!”

 

“Short of staff, Vienna’s sick.” I invented. “See you two tonight! Girl’s night, remember?” Every Friday Cinda, Arianna, and I went out to a restaurant and ate food, then two of us got too drunk to Apparate while another stayed sober enough to get us home.

 

It was fun, honestly.

 

I grabbed my work uniform on the way out the door, telling myself I would change in the bathroom once I was at Sunny Days.

 

As I ran down the stairs, I thanked my lucky stars that they didn’t question me further. There really wasn’t anything wrong with where I had been all night, but Cinda and Arianna didn’t know about the house. And whenever I mentioned my parents, they got all sympathetic. I didn’t need it. It was just awkward, since it had happened so long ago. I still missed them, but I didn’t need a moment of silence every time they were mentioned.

 

I Apparated outside the building, making sure no muggles were watching. I reappeared in the back alley, walked into Sunny Days, and nearly turned around and walked straight back out again.

 

Hayden was sitting at the bar.

 

I remembered the bathroom scene, where Rose and Scorpius had kidnapped me by Disapparating with me… and Hayden had been there, standing in the doorway. Hayden, the muggle. Hayden, the prince of England, who now knew about magic.

 

We broke the Statute of Secrecy. We were in trouble.

 

Hayden noticed me, and stood immediately. I sighed, and waited for him to reach me.

 

“Deandra.” He said. “I need to talk to you.”

 

“I know—”

 

“No, I really need to talk to you.” He insisted, his chocolaty eyes wide. “A couple nights ago, when I took you to dinner, you went in the ladies’, and you—”

 

“I know, Hayden.” I said.

 

“So I’m not crazy?” He asked, his face pale. “I actually saw that, it wasn’t just—I dunno, a hallucination or something.”

 

“No, it was real.” I said. I needed to calm him down before he did something stupid. “Look,” I sighed. I was going to regret this. “How about you drop by my place tonight. Around six? I’ll explain everything, I promise.” His face relaxed when I said this. “I promise. But you’re not crazy.”

 

“Thank god.” He said. “I thought—”

 

“I know.” I interrupted. “And I’d really love to talk to you about it. At six, okay?” I realized that I had scheduled our little meeting over girl’s night, and groaned. I really wanted to get drunk after the past week.

 

“Okay.” He said, straightening. “I’ll be there at six.” He nodded at me, and smiled slightly, then walked out into the cold.

 

I sighed and walked to the bathroom to change, wondering how on earth I was going to explain magic and Disapparation to the muggle prince of England.
 

 

Review, please!  It would really make my day.  What did you think of Aidan still mad at Deandra?  And what about Deandra's story of why she can't be mad at the boys?

--Happy Holidays, Delia 


Chapter 5: Chapter 5
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“So—Merlin, I’m not exactly sure how to explain this…”


Hayden was sitting on my raggedy couch, in my raggedy flat, looking at me, waiting for an explanation for three people spontaneously disappearing out of a ladies’ loo. Now that I thought about it, it did seem pretty odd. I mean, I used to think of magic as a normal way of life, but when you really think on it, us magical folk are pretty weird people, with all the old customs, magic schools that reside in castles, and a liking for the mysterious.


Can you even explain magic? Is that even possible?


“Start at the beginning.” Hayden prompted.


“…that doesn't help much.”


I thought for a moment, and decided to just open my mouth, and whatever popped out would be where I would start.


“So, magic is real.”


Believable, brain. Really believable.


“Is that what that disappearing thing was?” Hayden asked. “A magic trick? Just that?”


“I suppose.” I said. “But not the kind of magic trick you’re thinking of. It’s real, actual magic. From a magic wand.” I pulled out my wand and tossed it to him. “That’s mine. You get one from Olivander’s when you’re eleven years old.”


“Why eleven?” He asked, examining my wand in awe.


“That’s when you get your letter to Hogwarts.” I said. “A magic boarding school.” I explained when he looked confused. “I went there. You attend for seven years, and then you go out into the magical world to find a job.”


“Just like real life.” Hayden said.


“Well, it is real life.” I said. “Magical people think that you muggles are as odd as you think they are. Muggles are what we call people with no magical blood, by the way.”


Hayden searched my face, trying to decide if I was lying or not. I took my wand from him, and pointed it at the coffee table. “I’d move.” I advised, because his feet were propped up on it. He shrank back into his chair, and I flicked my wand. “Wingardium Leviosa.” I said clearly. The table floated into the air, sufficiently impressing Hayden.


I carefully set the table back on the ground, and Hayden stared at it, his eyes wide. “It won’t bite you.” I said, laughing. “Although, I could make it if you wanted.”


“That’s alright.” Hayden said faintly. He was looking rather pale.


“You okay?” I asked.


“Just… I might be sick.” He said, and bolted towards the bathroom.


I glanced at Cinda and Arianna, who were standing in the kitchen area, watching us. “Maybe I shouldn’t have started out with the floating table.” I said.


“You think?” Arianna asked, snorting. Cinda smacked her arm. “Ow!” Arianna complained. “What was that for?”


“We’re giving Dee moral support! You aren't helping!”


“C’mon Cinda, you were just starting to be the nice one again. Don’t go back to the dark side.” Arianna joked.


“Says Arianna.” Cinda muttered, watching as Hayden stumbled back to the couch. “You okay?” She addressed him.


“M’fine.” He mumbled, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.


I watched him carefully. “That’s magic, anyway.” I said quietly as he sat, staring at the table. “You can’t tell anyone what you saw, Hayden. Magic is a secret. I’m breaking so many rules by telling you this, especially considering who you are.”


Hayden looked up. “Secret?” He asked. “But we could use this.”


“Oh, I wouldn't go down that route.” Arianna said, cutting into our conversation. “I rreally wouldn't start on that.”


“Why not?” Hayden asked defensively. “It’s true.”


“Because then we’ll have to wipe your memory of everything you saw. Two weeks of your life will be missing and you’ll never remember. Trust me; I cast a very strong memory charm.” Arianna said, tapping her wand against her palm. “Your choice.”


“Fine.” Hayden said, slouching back into his chair. “I won’t tell. But I still say it could be useful.”


Arianna narrowed her eyes. “I’m watching you.” She warned.


“Look,” I started, planning to explain what would happen if the muggles knew about magic, but I was interrupted by a rather loud pop. I glanced to my right and saw Scorpius gripping Al’s arm rather tightly. They both had rumpled hair, which indicated that they had scuffled for a bit before Scorpius managed to Apparate here.


“Scorpius!” I exclaimed, jerking my head meaningfully in Hayden’s direction.


“Oh, sorry.” Scorpius said, taking in Hayden’s pale face. “You’re the bloke from the restaurant, right?”


“Yeah, this is Hayden Knight.” I introduced. “He’s the Prince of England.” I steadily avoided Al’s hateful glare, talking only the Scorpius. “Hayden, this is Scorpius. He’s a friend.”


“He’s the guy who made you disappear.” Hayden stated. I nodded, throwing a furtive look at Scorpius.


“Kidnapped would be a more accurate word. And he seems to be making a habit of it.” I said, narrowing my eyes at Scorpius’s grip on Al’s arm. “You are aware that you broke the Statute of Secrecy by doing that, don’t you?” I asked Scorpius. He shrugged.


“You seem to have it under control.” He said. “Besides—hang on, what’s she doing here?” I followed his gaze to where Arianna was standing in the kitchen area.


“She lives here, Scorpius.” I said, glancing from to Arianna and back again.


“Why?” Scorpius asked, making a face.


I rolled my eyes. “Same reason you live with Rose and Al…bus.” I said, glancing at him quickly. I wasn’t sure if I should use his nickname, but it was second nature to me. He glared at me, and I looked away.


“Because I can’t pay rent with my crap job?”


“Because you’re friends.” I said exasperatedly. “Although, the job thing is a reason too.”


“You’re still friends with her? After all she did to Aidan?” Scorpius asked. Al muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “As if she would care.” And Scorpius glared at him.


“Oi!” Arianna said. “I can hear you, you know!”


“You’re still friends with me? After all I did to you?” I asked, ignoring Arianna.


“Exactly my question.” Al muttered sarcastically.


“You know what?” I asked rounding on him in what Cinda likes to call my ‘Here Comes the Bitch’ voice. “I don’t think I quite understand what your problem is here!”


“Oh, you don’t understand what my problem is?” Al scoffed angrily. “Would you like me to list your many offences over the past 11 years? Or would you not like your new boyfriend to know about your true inner bitch?”


“Oh, you’re one to talk!” I yelled at him. In the corner of my mind I was painfully aware that everyone in the flat was completely silent, watching this go down. “You’re the one who bullied me to the point where I moved to another continent to get away from you!” Angry tears were welling up in my eyes, but I bit them down. “And you won’t even tell me why!”


Al’s eyes were stormy and his fists were balled at his sides. He opened his mouth, as if he were about to make a biting remark, but Hayden, of all people, stood up to defend me.


“Hey,” He said, facing Al. For a moment, I had a vision of two hot guys in shining armor fighting over who gets the girl, like in a fairytale, which was essentially what was happening here, only in my version they were two princes from different worlds fighting, and one hated my guts. “That’s enough. I don’t know you or what your history is with Deandra, but from what I’ve heard, you don’t have any right to talk to her like that. Like she did something wrong.”


“And who are you?” Al asked. “No, don’t tell me. Latest boyfriend. You took her out on one date and she left you at the restaurant. Yeah, she’s flighty like that. Never could face her fears. You’re just the pity date.”


I’m the bloody Prince of England, mate.” Hayden said. “I’m no pity date.”


“Then I am sorry, Your Highness, because you have made a truly terrible choice in the female species. She will ruin your life. I’d try to explain to you how she ruined mine, but the magic involved would probably be too much for your little brain to comprehend.”


“Never pegged you for a pureblood supremacist, Potter, especially considering who your dad is.” I spat out, grasping at straws to defend Hayden. Al had never been a pureblood supremacist, not even close. He wasn’t the complete opposite, simply because he wasn’t that interested in the topic, but he definitely wasn’t discriminatory.


But it was that comment that set him off. He sent a hex at me so fast that I hardly had time to dodge. My wand was in my hand in a heartbeat, and then Al and I were dueling. I sent spell after spell at him, pouring all of my confused, angry, and hurt feelings into the nastiest jinxes and hexes I knew.


I’m not sure if it was Cinda or Arianna that cast the Shield Charm, but one of my spells rebounded off an invisible wall and shattered a vase. Scorpius lunged towards Al and Disapparated with him before he could do any more damage, leaving me with my two best friends and one very confused and frightened Hayden.


Arianna started cleaning up (none of our spells had hit their targets, leaving quite a mess in the flat) while Cinda and I tried to explain things to Hayden.


“Who was he?” Hayden asked shakily.


“Ex boyfriend.” Cinda responded cheerily. “Dee just let out a lot of pent up rage and suppressed feelings, she should be easier to deal with now.”


“Oi!”


“Well, that’s a relief.” Hayden said, smiling nervously. Then he looked to me.


“Look,” I said softly. “It’s really hard to explain right now. How about you and I go on a date next Wednesday? Except not with the fancy restaurants and the limousine. Someplace normal. Like a picnic.”


“It’s the middle of November.”


“We’re British. We live in London.”


“So?”


“So I’ll meet you at 5 outside the building.”


“Fine.” Hayden said grouchily. “I’ll bundle. But I have to go now.” He stood up and grabbed his coat.


“Hayden?” I asked when reached the door. Cinda and Arianna were dutifully busying themselves in the kitchen, pretending not to listen. “I’m really sorry. For everything.”


He crossed the room. “Hey.” He said, cupping my face with his hand. He kissed me softly, causing my stomach to warm and my eyes to flutter shut. I could feel his smile easily with my lips against his, which, by the way, were very soft and warm.


His lips, not mine. Although I hope mine were too.


Too soon, he drew away with a grin. “It’s alright.” He said. With that, he crossed the room and opened the front door. Then, he was gone.


I stood there for a moment, a stupid smile creeping on to my face.


“I approve Arianna said, making me jump in surprise. She was standing right to my left.


“Very romantic.” Cinda said with a nod, standing to my left.


“Shut up, you two.” I said with a grin.


*


“And they still won’t tell you why?” Aimee asked.


I was at Aimee’s flat, sprawled across her and Isaac’s queen sized feather mattress. It felt like the most comfortable thing in the world, regardless of all the sex that had probably taken place on it.


“No!” I said, staring at the white ceiling. “I don’t get it.” I moaned and rolled over on the blue silk sheets, facing Aimee. She was sitting with her legs tucked under her, brushing her stick-straight blonde hair out.


“Why did they say they can’t tell you again?” Aimee asked.


“I dunno, because of the Ministry or something.”


“And when did they start bullying you?” She asked absently.


“Beginning of second year.” I responded.


“Can you remember anything major that happened before that?” She asked, beginning to pull her hair into a neat French braid.


“I can’t remember anything about the month of May.” I said, shaking my head. “Well, and my cousin—Aidan’s sister—died in Mungo’s June 2nd. My family wasn’t invited to the funeral, strangely enough. I asked my dad about it, but he just said that Aidan’s family had reasons. Her name was Arabella. She was five. I don’t remember much about her.”


“Maybe that’s it.” Maybe they’re just harboring a lifelong grudge against you for Aidan.” Aimee mused. “Hair tie.”


I grabbed one off my wrist and handed it to her. “That’s pretty unlikely.” I said. “I mean, what grudge? What did I do?”


“Maybe you didn’t do anything.” Aimee said. “Maybe your parents did something, and Aidan’s parents told him to make your life hell.”


“Well, I guess we’ll never know.” I sighed. Aimee shot me a confused look, and I elaborated. “My parents are dead.”


“Oh,” She said thinking. “Well, I was the fat ugly pregnant girl who got knocked up by her dead fiancé at 17 years old.” She shrugged. “Life could be worse.”


I laughed loudly. “Life could be worse.” I agreed. “Hayden kissed me.”


Aimee’s eyes widened. “Oh my god—you do not have a right to be complaining right now!” She exclaimed. “The Prince of freaking England kissed you! I mean, have you seen that man candy? Sure, Albus is great, if you like scrawny, I guess. To be honest, I never thought he did fully mature, if you know what I mean.”


I snickered loudly and sat up. “Hey!” Aimee exclaimed. “I want details! How was it? Sexy? Sultry? Sweet? Is he grabby?”


“No, he’s not.” I assured her “It was sweet. I had just apologized for being such a jerk to him—” I had thought about it a lot and I really had been nasty to him. “And then he kissed me.” I smiled at the memory.


“Oh my god, you’re totally in love with him!” Aimee squealed, seeing my expression.


“No, I’m not. I don’t believe in love, anyway.” I said. I had never admitted to this out loud, but as soon as I said it I knew it to be true. “They’re just words that guys use to get into girls’ pants.”


“Well, it certainly worked on me.” Aimee shrugged. “Fine, so you don’t love him. But you do like him, at least.”


“I do like him.” I said, smiling as I checked my watch. “I have to go.”


“Why?” Aimee whined.


“Girls’ night.” I said, rolling off her bed. “I’m going to get too drunk to Apparate!”


“Sounds fun.” Aimee muttered sarcastically. “Why?”


“Because it’s girls’ night and I want to get drunk.” I said. Then I turned on my heel and Apparated to my flat to change.


*


“3 more firewhiskey shots and a tequila.” I slurred to the bartender, a burly blond male.


“How many have you had already?” Cinda demanded. She was sitting to my right, illuminated by the lights of the dance floor behind her.


“I dunno.” I said. “Two.” I smiled happily and held up two blurry fingers. Or was it three? Everything was sliding in and out of focus.


“Three more firewhiskey shots and a tequila?” The bartender asked, setting the drinks down in front of me.


“Uh, no.” Cinda said, pushing the drinks back to him. “Look at her! She’s way over her limit. How many drinks has she had?”


The bartender stared at Cinda stupidly. “’Ey,” I slurred, my accent sounding thicker than ever. “Leave Percy alone. He didn’t do… he didn’t do nothing to you.” Why was it so hard to get these words out? And why was the room spinning?


“Look,” Cinda said, taking a seat next to me and rubbing my back. It felt good. “My friend is too drunk to see her fingers—”


“I’m surprised she ‘asn’t passed out yet, miss.” The bartender said truthfully. Cinda glared at him, and he shut up. I frowned. Cinda shouldn’t be mean to Percy. He was very nice. Supplied the drinks.


Was his name Percy?


“As I was saying, my friend is too drunk to see her fingers. I’m going to go find my other friend and get them both together so I can Apparate them home. If she asks for a drink, don’t give it to her. If she tells you I was just kidding, don’t listen to her. If she tries to bribe you, don’t take it. Trust me; I will know.” Cinda got up from the bench and walked into the dancers. I tilted my head. It looked odd from this angle. Although, looking around, the room looked odd from every angle.


A drink would help with that.


“A—a vodka please, Percy.” I said, putting on my best smile.


“I’m sorry miss, but your friend over there just said that I am not to give you any more drinks.” He said, wiping out a glass with a rag.


I laughed loudly at this. Why would Cinda say that? She must have been making a joke. “She was just kidding.” I told him, striking a provocative pose and almost falling off my seat. How did that happen?


“I am sorry miss, but she said you would say that.” Percy told me.


I sighed. It looked like desperate measures were to be taken. I stood up, and the world spun for a bit, but I blinked a little and it came back into focus—a little—and I steadied myself on the bar. I leaned across the counter and grabbed the back of Percy’s head with my free hand and forced his lips to mine. I forced his mouth open and kissed him forcefully. While he was distracted, I reached for the tequila I had ordered earlier and grasped it tightly.


I pried myself from Percy and held up the tequila, panting. “Nice meeting you.” I slurred, and then I stumbled out onto the dance floor, holding my drink aloft while I wiped my mouth.


After a little bit of trippy jump-up-and-down-like-a-gorilla dancing, I had lost my tequila and I was now dancing with a complete stranger (my suspicions were that he was a man, although I could be wrong. He felt a bit scrawny) to an extremely dirty song. Vaguely I hoped in the back of my mind that he wouldn’t try to rape me or something, because there wasn’t anything I could do to stop him. I was wayyyy to drunk.


So that’s how I found myself with my back to a complete stranger, grinding up against him with my arms hooked around his neck, not really caring as he sucked at my neck and groped me with all he had.


Shouldn’t have had so much firewhiskey. I completely blame the alcohol.


“Hey!” A voice snapped me out of my alcoholic stupor. I looked up to see Cinda. From what I could make out of her face, she looked furious with me. She glanced up to see who I was dancing with, and her eyes widened.


“Get over here.” She muttered, ripping me away from the stranger. “And you.” She said, turning to my dance partner. “Who do you think you are?”


“I’m sorry.” The voice slurred. It sounded familiar, but I just couldn't place it. “Do I know you?”


Cinda made a look of disgust. “You’re just as wasted as she is. Well, I hope you remember this in the morning. Just know that I will never let you near her again.” I was tempted to look around to see who she was talking to, but Cinda kept a firm grip on my arm. “Don’t look.” She muttered, and she led me away.


She led me back to the bar, which I thought was excellent. “Ari!” I exclaimed, because Arianna was sitting where I had been. “How are you tonight? Have you got your grooooove on?”


“How drunk is she?” Arianna slurred at Cinda.


Cinda sighed. “As drunk as you.” She answered, and then muttered to herself, “I hate girls’ night. Outside, both of you!”


We let her lead us outside and back behind the club. She grasped both our forearms tightly and spun on the spot.


As soon as we appeared in the flat, the world spun again, and I ran to the bathroom. Well—I ran to the hall, ran in to a wall that I swear attacked me on purpose, and threw up on the floor.


“Scourgify!” I heard Cinda say. The vomit vanished, and I stared at the spot where it had been in confusion.


“Where did it go?” I asked Cinda in a confused voice as she led me to my room. “Where is it?”


“It’s everywhere, Deandra.” Cinda sighed, tucking me into bed. “Now go to sleep.”


“Okay!” I said cheerfully, and closed my eyes tight.


I heard Cinda say, “Goodnight, Deandra,” before she shut the door, and I was submerged in darkness.


So this is way late. I promised myself that I'd get it out on January 10th, but finals snuck up on me and I didn't have any time. The week's been hectic. But hopefully I'll have more time and I'll be able to get more out by February. Remember to review! What do you think about Deandra finally yelling at Al? And Hayden? Tell me!

~Delia


Chapter 6: Chapter 6
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I woke up with a fuzzy memory and a killer hangover.

 

My first thought: Oh is this my bed I really hope this is my bed if this isn’t my bed I’m screwed.

 

My second thought: I really hate girls’ night.

 

My third thought: Someone turn that fucking alarm clock off.

 

I groaned loudly and felt for the tiny Box o’ Pain. My hand brushed it and I pressed the snooze button in relief.

 

Seven minutes later, the alarm went off again, so I rolled out of bed, slamming the off button on the devil machine as I did so. I stumbled down the hall to the kitchen, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and trying to ignore my pounding headache.

 

Cinda left me a note on the cabinet where we kept the food.

 

Dee-


Arianna and I had to leave for work. Hangover tonic on the table. You have work today at 9:00. Be there or be square.


-Cinda

 

I laughed softly and downed the hangover tonic they had left for me. I ate breakfast quickly and got ready at the same pace. I was actually ready to Apparate to work a few minutes early.

 

When I got there, Vienna and a new girl I didn’t know were already setting up the bar. I took my coat off to hang it up and grabbed an apron. Hanna bustled out of the kitchen. When she saw me, her face fell.

 

“Deandra, dear.” She said, looking regretful. “You may want to come back to the kitchen with me.”

 

I paused, and hung up my apron again, wondering what this was about. I followed my boss back into the kitchen, where the food for the day was already being cooked.

 

“Yes?” I asked politely.

 

“Deandra, I’m afraid you’ve missed too many days of work to be acceptable.” Hanna said, avoiding looking at my face. Her eyes were instead fixed on a spot just above my left shoulder.

 

“What are you saying?” I asked, a feeling of dread rising in my stomach.

 

“As of right now, you are no longer an employee at Sunny Days.” Hanna stated, still not looking at me. “You will receive one more paycheck. We thank you for your time here.” It sounded as if she was reading from a script.

 

“But—all that time—” I floundered, grasping for an argument. I knew I had missed some work lately, but I wasn’t aware it was that much. “You said I could have it! To visit my friend in the hospital!”

 

Hanna pursed her lips, and finally made eye contact with me. “You can go now, dear.”

 

I opened my mouth to argue, but I saw that Vienna, the new girl who I now realized had taken my job, and customers were staring at me. I didn’t want to make a scene. I slowly walked past Hanna, grabbed my coat again, and stumbled out into the cold.

 

It took me a while to figure out who I wanted to Apparate to, Aimee or Rose, but in the end I decided on Rose. I wouldn’t want to bother Aimee, Michael, or Isaac with this morbid topic.

 

I appeared in Rose’s flat with a loud crack, right in front of her. She gave a small squeak, but relaxed when she saw it was me. Then, her expression became one of alarm as she analyzed mine.

 

“Deandra? What’s wrong?”

 

“I just—I just lost my job.” I murmured, more to myself than her. I stared at the tiled floor of the kitchen. “I—I dunno how it happened.”

 

Rose reacted immediately. “That’s terrible, Deandra.” She murmured sympathetically, embracing me. I latched on to her, hugging her tightly as she rubbed my back. I was letting my eyes droop shut when I saw something.

 

Or rather, heard something.

 

Rose had frozen, so I know she had noticed it. “Rose?” I inquired. “What was that?”

 

“Haven’t a clue.” Rose muttered, releasing me and stepping back.

 

“Rose,” I warned. “That sounded like a moan. A very—sexual moan.” My cheeks got hot. “And I know that there are only three people are living in this flat. And two of them are you and Scorpius. Unless Scorpius is cheating, which I very highly doubt, that moan belongs to Al’s not-new-not-really-his-girlfriend girlfriend.” I raised one eyebrow threateningly.

 

“Oh, fine!” Rose whispered. “But you don’t want to go near her Dee, you really don’t.”

 

“What, you think I can’t handle her?” I demanded.

 

“Well….”

 

“Rose, c’mon! Have some faith!” I exclaimed, walking towards where the noise was coming from. I stopped in front of the door that I knew led to Al’s bedroom. I felt sick to think of what he and the mystery girl were doing in there, but I continued anyway. “It’s been what, four years? I’m over… it.”

 

I paused because I had tossed the door open to reveal Al and the mystery girl. But she wasn’t some girl Al had picked up on the streets of London. She was—she was the worst possible person he could be with. I blinked several times to make sure what I was seeing was even real, because there was no way that Al would ever be dating Athena.

 

Rose’s unhappy words came back to me. “She’s hardly new.” They must have been dating since school; it was the only thing that made sense. Clever Athena exposing the fake that broke Albus’s heart: they were the perfect match.

 

“And she’s hardly his girlfriend.” My gaze fell to her left hand, where a large white diamond rested on her finger.

 

Engaged. Al was engaged to Athena.

 

Al immediately rolled off Athena, his cheeks turning red. Athena pulled the sheets up to her chest, but I paid her no attention. My gaze was fixed on the engagement ring. It stood out in the dim room, sparkling even without an immediate light source. I swallowed, trying to suppress the sickness I felt with the scene.

 

For a small moment, the thought crossed my mind that that should be my engagement ring. But I pushed it away immediately. Even if Al and I had stayed together, I doubted that we would have gotten married. I wouldn’t be able to live as Delilah forever.

 

“What is she doing here?” I heard Al ask. He didn’t sound angry, for once. He sounded surprised, and a little bit guilty.

 

“She just lost her job.” Rose explained, her voice sounding disapproving and just as disgusted as I was at what she was seeing. “We talked about you two in the flat. If you want to do that kind of thing, you have to get your own place.”

 

“Don’t worry, Rose, darling.” Athena spoke up. I could hear the smirk in her voice. “We weren’t doing anything.” She whipped the blanket off with a condescending smile. I blinked and my eyes snapped to her face. “See?” She continued with her icy grey eyes boring into mine. “Clothes on.”

 

My hands unconsciously balled into fists, and one of them reached for my wand that I knew was in my pocket. Al saw where I was headed, and stopped me just in time.

 

“Deandra, how about we head outside to talk?”

 

“I’m not a child, Albus!” I snapped defensively, turning on him. “You don’t need to use that voice with me!”

 

“What voice?” He demanded. I could see a shadow of a glare beginning to form on his face. We were headed into the danger waters, and I didn’t care. I was angry. I had lost my job. My worst enemy was engaged to my—the boy I loved. As in past tense loved, of course, but still. It was a living nightmare and I wanted to curse the living daylights out of someone. If that someone was Al, so be it.

 

“That ‘I need to be careful or someone may get hurt’ voice. It’s not as if you care about me. Clearly.” I spat at him, aware that my words were harsh. But this was the boy who had made me feel like nothing.

 

“You’re right.” He responded viciously. “Why should I care about you? You’re a terrible person.”

 

“What, for not wanting to be bullied for my last year of school?” I demanded, furious he was going down this path again. I didn’t even know what I had done to him.

 

“You should have never come back.” He said darkly, glaring at me.

 

I opened my mouth to retort, possibly with a nasty curse, but Athena put her arm on Al’s shoulder. I hadn’t even noticed that she had gotten out of bed. “Let’s not tease the animal, Albus.” She cooed, staring at me frostily. “It’s not nice.”


That did it. A strangled scream escaped my lips, and I launched myself at Athena. She yelped as I hit her, and we fell back on to the bed. I tore at her hair, scratched her face with my nails, and shoved my knee into her stomach. My wand lay on the floor, forgotten.

 

When Athena tried to fight back, I growled and started punching. I had grown up with a father who liked to fight, and thought I may need to one day, so I knew how to throw a punch. My fist collided with her nose, and blood spurted everywhere. That was when Al and Rose, who had been standing in the background, presumably with surprised looks on their faces, jumped into action.

 

They had to work together to get me off her. I was aware that I probably seemed crazy, between the blood spatters on my clothes and face, tangled hair, and animalistic shrieks, but I didn’t care. I struggled against Al as he held me back. Rose had rushed to Athena, who was moaning on the bed (but very differently from before). “Get her out of here, Al!” Rose ordered, and Al cooperated without question, spinning on his heel and Apparating with a soft pop.

 

We landed in the grass. By this time I was crying loudly, heaving raggedly as dry sobs escaped my lips. Al realized and tried to pull me into a hug, but I scrambled out of his reach and curled up on the ground, my arms hugging my knees as I rocked back and forth, wiping my eyes furiously and looking anywhere but Al.

 

It was a while before I realized that we were on the hill where we went after I fought with Tyler.

 

I stood up, only sniffling a bit now, and turned to Al, who was watching me carefully like I may explode at any moment. “Why did you bring me here?” I demanded.

 

“First place I thought of.” He mumbled, shrugging.

 

We were silent for a bit, staring at each other, challenging the other to speak first. I shoved my hands in my pockets, suddenly wishing I had my coat. I had taken off at Rose’s, I remembered now. It was early autumn in London, so it was early spring on the hill. It was a grayish sort of day. The wisps of cloud in the sky seemed to be working together to cover the sun, and the wind blew with a biting chill.

 

Finally, I summoned up the courage to ask the question I had wanted to ask him for a while.

 

“Why?”

 

“Why what?”

 

“You know what.”

 

“I can’t tell you, Deandra.” He said after a short pause. I looked him straight in the eyes (they were still very green), but he wasn’t lying. “And even if I could, I wouldn’t.”

 

“Why not?” I half-whispered.

 

“Because,” He paused, and took a deep breath. “Because you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself.”

 

*

 

However mysterious (and traumatizing) Al’s explanation for not telling me was, life goes on, and I did not want to be left in the dust. The fact of the matter was, I was officially unemployed, and could no longer pay my share of the rent that I owed Cinda and Arianna. And while they were my best friends, and would probably let me live there for free if they could, they can’t, so I’m moving.

 

I’m moving in to my parent’s house. It scares the crap out of me, but I’m hoping that I can clean it up a bit, and maybe only use a small portion of it—leave the rest of it preserved in its’ unlived in state. I know I said I hated the place, and I still do, but what choice do I have? I can’t live in a hotel or an inn. I have no income.

 

I stood outside the door of my—Cinda and Arianna’s—flat. I was leaning against the wall, feeling sick. The floor seemed to be tilting, so I sat down heavily, trying to absorb the information as it washed over me again in a wave.

 

I was unemployed. I was poor. I did not have NEWTs, I could not get a reasonably well-paying job. I had no options. I had no worth.

 

Albus is engaged to Athena.

 

After, Rose told me when the wedding is scheduled for. The date is May 30th—they wanted a spring wedding, and they could wait.

 

It made me sick, thinking about it. All I could imagine was Al, kissing Athena after the vows were said. Effectively cutting me out of his life forever, because once he married Athena, I wouldn’t be able to see him. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Then there was the fact that his bride wouldn’t like it—and what excuse did I have to see him, anyway? We weren’t even friends anymore.

 

I miss the days when we were friends.

 

I felt the familiar lump in my throat that meant I was close to crying, and I swallowed vigorously. Pull it together, Deandra. I ordered, standing up. You have to do this.

 

I fumbled for the key and unlocked the door. I quietly pushed it open, and peered around, searching for them. They weren’t in the living room or the kitchen area. Maybe they weren’t here. My heart leaped at the thought, but my mind pushed it down. They were here. It was 6:00pm, they were here.

 

I gently shut the door behind me and placed my key on the end table by the ratty couch we had picked out together for our flat. I wouldn’t need it anymore.

 

“Cinda?” I called into the flat. “Arianna? Are you here?”

 

Cinda’s bedroom door opened, and she flew out, sliding down the hallway on her socks. She must be in a good mood. I heard banging from the bathroom, and a muffled shout of, “I’ll be right there, Dee!” from Arianna. Cinda and I exchanged a glance and snickered as she emerged, pulling her pants up frantically.

 

“Did you wash your hands?” Cinda asked, ever the mother.

 

Arianna stuck her tongue out at Cinda defiantly. She had never enjoyed being mothered.

 

“That’s gross.” Cinda told her. Abruptly, the grin slid off my face. I had just remembered what I was here to tell them.

 

Merlin, I did not want to leave.

 

I silently reminded myself why I was doing this. It wasn’t because of them, it was for them. I didn’t want to be a burden, even if they said I wouldn’t be.

 

“Dee? What’s wrong?” Cinda asked, sensing that something was awry. I jerked myself out of my reverie, looking at her. It was almost painful. But I wasn’t leaving them forever, I reminded myself. I was just getting my own place.

 

I didn’t know why it was so hard.

 

“I’m moving out.” I announced quietly, finding a crack in the hardwood and focusing on that, refusing to look at my friends. I would not cry.

 

“What?” Arianna gasped. I looked up at her, and my resolve to be emotionless broke immediately. Her blue eyes were stretched wide in confusion and hurt. I glanced at Cinda, who looked much the same. “Why?”

 

“I lost my job, guys.” I mumbled, looking back down at the floor. “Hanna found out about my ‘friend’ in the hospital.”

 

“And you want to move out because you can’t pay rent anymore.” Cinda murmured, suddenly understanding.

 

“So you’re just running away from your problems again.” Arianna said angrily. “So what if you can’t pay rent now, Deandra? Just get a new job!”

 

“Ari—” Cinda chided quietly, putting a hand on her shoulder, but Arianna shook it off. Cinda turned to me apologetically, but I ignored her. I could fight my own battles with Arianna.

 

“It’s not that simple, Arianna.” I told her, trying to keep my tone neutral. But she would have none of it.

 

“No, it is, see.” She said. “You go out, see what’s available, apply, interview, and bam, you’ve got a job!”

 

“Oh, that’s rich,” I said, clenching my hands. “Coming from you, the girl who’s only applied for a job once! No one will take me, Arianna! I don’t have any qualifications! The only job I’m likely to get is bartender, waitress, or janitor at some muggle office building! And you know why that is? Because you forced me into that stupid Unbreakable Vow! I had to leave school!”

 

Arianna turned red with rage, and seemed to almost swell. “Are you kidding me right now, Deandra? I may have come up with the Unbreakable Vow, but you were all for it, if I remember correctly! And if my memory serves me as well as it does on that matter, I warned you to not become friends with them! I warned you to keep your distance! So I don’t want any of the blame for that!”

 

“You pressured me into it!” I yelled at her, pursuing the Unbreakable Vow topic. On the inside, I knew she was right, but I didn’t want to admit that. And it would be easier to leave in rage then to leave missing my friends.

 

“Bullshit.” She said, not raising her voice but lowering it. It was Arianna’s favorite form of fighting. It could actually be quite scary. But I remembered her from before she came to Hogwarts, and it didn’t frighten me.

 

“Is that what you tell yourself to sleep at night?” I asked, curling my lip.

 

“You know what, get out! Go! Run away, like you always do!” Arianna yelled at me. I could tell she was angry. But this statement made Cinda angry as well, and she snapped out of her stupor (which included watching us fight with her mouth slightly ajar) and stepped between us.

 

“This is my flat too, Arianna. You can’t just kick her out.” Cinda defended.

 

I pushed her out of the way. “No, it’s alright, Cinda. It’s fine. I’ll run. Just like I always do.” I was too angry to feel the sting to her words yet, but I knew it would come in the morning, and I would regret what I was about to say. “I just hope you can survive without me. I mean, Cinda and I made you who you are. You are nothing without us. Just remember that.”


Arianna’s eyes were shooting daggers at me. “I remember when you came to Salem, you bitch.” I stepped back. That hurt. “You were the ugliest thing I had ever seen. You made me? On the contrary, my dear Delilah. I made you.”

 

“Stop it!” Cinda protested, stepping between us again. “We were all sailing without a captain, okay? We all made each other who we are. I wasn’t as brave before I met Deandra, and I wasn’t as smart before I met Arianna. And I know that you two weren’t as nice before you met me! Arianna, you taught Dee to stand up for herself! Dee, you taught Arianna to get revenge without being too obvious about it! We all held each other together, remember?” She was almost crying by now. Arianna and I exchanged a glance, the anger between us quickly dissipating.

 

“We are best friends.” Cinda told us. “We stick together. Dee, you can’t move out.”

 

I stared into Cinda’s pleading brown eyes, and my resolve crumbled. They were my friends. I couldn’t leave them if I tried.
 

So, I'd just like to say that I feel incredibly guilty for being so behind schedule on this.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get chapters out sooner now.  It's spring break, so I'm hoping (but probably won't) to finish chapter 7 before school starts again.  But don't get your hopes up.  I'll definitely finish a good chunk of it.  I had to split this chapter in half, because it was getting a bit long and I wanted to post ASAP, so hopefully 7 will go faster for me.  

 

Reviews are welcome and appreciated!  What do you think of Athena being Al's mystery girlfriend - nay, fiance!  Twists!

 

-Delia


Chapter 7: Chapter 7
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Hi guys. Not dead.

A thousand apologies for leaving this story for what... six months? Eight? Life has been crazy lately, but I'm really hoping to start posting again, now that I know where I'm going with this story.

So just a refresher: Deandra lost her job, Al and Athena are getting engaged, and Deandra tried to move out of the flat that she, Arianna, and Cinda shared, unsuccessfully, if you were confused about that. She still lives there. Also, she's dating the Prince of England, which brings me to another point.

I will be the first to admit that I am not European, I am American. I have no idea how modern-day monarchies work. I am totally improvising and making things up with this whole dating the Prince of England thing, so just bear with me, and if I did something totally, completely wrong, feel free to call me out on it in a review :)




One month later.



I walked out of the bright classroom, squinting to find Hayden in the dim light of dawn. My peers and I were streaming into a dank alley, a place that was hidden from the muggles. It was a bit like Hogwarts, in the way that they hid the building from muggles, except not nearly as nice. But what can you expect, from night classes?


I had been attending night classes to finish my NEWTs for the past month. In one week we had the actual tests, which were making me extremely nervous. I was already studying hard, staring at notes for at least four hours a day. I could not fail.


“Hey,” Hayden greeted, smiling as I kissed his cheek. “How was class?”


“Same old.” I told him dismissively. “You ready?”


“The car’s parked in the street. Your flat today? I’m getting tired of the café?” He said, threading his fingers through mine.


“Sure, why not?” I said, yawning widely. Night classes were definitely taking their toll on me. I hadn’t yet adjusted to sleeping during the day and learning during the night.


“I’ll drive.” Hayden offered, seeing the yawn. I tried to wave him off, but he insisted. “You’re dead tired, and you drive horribly anyway.”


“Do not.” I said, even though I knew it was true. I usually Apparated, so I didn’t have much practice behind the wheel.


Hayden had a nice car, with comfortable seats. They were heated. I didn’t mean to, but on the way to the flat, I dosed off, leaning my forehead against the cool window. For some reason, it felt infinitely better to close my eyes and sleep when I wasn’t supposed to, rather than when I was in bed. Although nowadays, when I wasn’t in class, studying, or going on dates with Hayden, I was almost definitely asleep, which worked just fine for me. It left me no time to think of Al.


When we arrived at my flat, Hayden gently shook me awake. “Rise and shine, sleepy head. Time to climb a mountain.” I groaned, thinking of all the stairs that lay ahead of me. Hayden laughed and got out of the car, walking around to my side to open the door for me.


I was still half-asleep as we trekked up the flights of stairs. Holding on to the railing for dear life, I was using my arms to pull me up as much as I was using my feet to push. As soon as we got into the flat, I stumbled to the couch and collapsed on it as Hayden headed towards the kitchen area, presumably to cook breakfast. “Can you even cook?” I mumbled at him.


“What was that?” He asked, turning the stove on and rummaging around in our cupboards for something, probably pots and pans.


“I said, can you even cook?” I asked, louder.


“Come on, Dee, it can’t be that hard to make eggs.”


I rolled on to my back and yelled, “Arianna! Breakfast duty, stat!” I tried to roll back on my stomach and go to sleep, but it just wouldn’t come. I huffed, annoyed, and got up, going to sit at the table. Hayden had already made a spot for himself while Arianna worked at the stove, monitoring the eggs.


“Decided to grace your boyfriend with your presence?” Arianna asked sarcastically.


“Fuck off, you would be trying to sleep too if you just spent all night learning advanced Charm work.” I told her.


“Don’t have to; I learned it at school, because some of us know enough not to drop out.” She said sweetly. I yawned, ignoring her comment. Usually I would be offended, but Arianna and I had been trying desperately to make amends after the fight we had, and I was too tired to care right now.


Hayden leaned across the table and spoke in a low voice. “So, listen,” He started, glancing at Arianna. “There’s something I wanted to talk to you about….”


“I’m gone.” Arianna said to no one in particular, abandoning the eggs and walking down the hall back to her room. I jumped up and scooped them out of the pan and on to plates. They were almost done anyway. I pulled two forks out of the drawer and sat back down.


“About what?” I prompted as we both dug into the eggs.


“I’ve actually been meaning to tell you this for a while…” He said hesitantly, putting down his fork. I glanced up, and slowly put mine down as well, heart leaping into my throat. It sounded serious. Serious was never good.


He took a deep breath, as if preparing to sprint 100 yards, and said, “My mom wants to meet you.”


My mind went blank. What were you supposed to say to that? Al had never specifically told me that his parents wanted to meet me, they just sort of… did. To stall for time, I slowly took a bite of egg, trying to formulate a response in my brain.


“Um… okay?”


Great job, brain. Really eloquent.


Hayden scrutinized my face, trying to find more of a reaction. “So… when would be best for you?” His eyebrows were drawn up in worry. I was probably scaring him with my unresponsive behavior.


“…Just to make sure, we’re talking about your mother, the Queen of England, correct?” I asked quickly. As soon as I asked the question, heat rose to my cheeks. Now he was going to think I was just dating him to meet royalty. “I mean, not that it matters, it’s just kind of weird to think about sometimes, that I’m having eggs with the Prince of England in my flat, you know?” I said, laughing nervously.


“Yeah,” Hayden said, laughing, looking relieved. “The Queen of England. She’s not as scary as the title makes her sound, I promise. So… you’ll meet her, right?”


“Hayden,” I began, after a breath. “Uh… you have to understand. Being what I am… it makes it difficult….”


“You don’t have to tell her about magic, Deandra.” Hayden said, getting serious again. “I promise, you don’t. I’d just… really like you to meet her. If we’re going to be dating, it’s kind of a requirement. I’d rather she’d hear about my new girlfriend through me, rather than through the tabloids.”


I smiled, although I was still nervous on the inside. What if the Queen—his mother (I was going to have to work on calling her that) didn’t like me? That was a lot of pressure, to be dating the Queen’s son against her wishes. Would I even do that? I didn’t know.


“I guess I kind of have to, don’t I?” I asked, trying to keep the smile plastered on my face. “She is the Queen, after all.”


“I don’t want you to feel like you have to go just because of… who she is.” Hayden said, frowning.


“But I do, don’t I?” I asked with a wry smile. Hayden hesitated, and then shrugged.


“It would be nice.” He admitted as I stood up. I grabbed his plate, taking our dishes to the sink and turning on the faucet. I pointed my wand at them, and they began washing themselves, soap bubbles rising up into the air. “So, will you?”


I turned back to find him a few inches from my face, his hands resting on the counter on either side of me. I leaned back against the counter and brought my hands up around his neck, threading my little finger around a strand of his hair. “I suppose… an arrangement could be made….” I said distractedly as he began to kiss my collar bone, humming happily.


He made his way up my neck and jaw, finally planting his lips on mine. I made a little noise in the back of my throat, and pressed my body into his, wishing that Cinda and Arianna weren’t here.


But they were, as we were painfully reminded of a few seconds later. Arianna made her presence known by clearing her throat loudly. Hayden and I broke apart, Hayden turning red. “I’d better—” He said, mumbling. “I’ll just—go—”


“See you later, Hayden!” Cinda called gleefully after him, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. He slammed the door behind him in his rush to get out. I turned to the two of them.


“Don’t scare him, guys.” I reprimanded. “I actually really like him.”


“We noticed.” Arianna muttered, moving to the stove. “Can I use magic now? Now that he’s out of the way?”


“He knows about magic, Ari, you can use it whenever you want.” I told her. Arianna rolled her eyes as she started breakfast for her and Cinda.


“Wouldn’t want to scare him away.” She told me sarcastically.


“So what did he want?” Cinda asked curiously, sitting at the table. “Besides to make out with you?”


“He wanted to….” And I stopped. If I told Arianna and Cinda about Hayden wanting me to meet his mother, it made it real. Right now, it was just a thought in his head, something he could still cancel if he realized I was too crazy, or if he wanted to suddenly turn on me. I could pretend that I wasn’t hurt at all if Cinda and Arianna didn’t know about it. But if I told them…there was no going back. And I wasn’t ready for that yet.


“He just wanted to make out with me.” I lied. And yawned. “I’m going to go to sleep. Class was really tiring.”


“NEWTs in a week!” Cinda reminded.


“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” I called back, slamming the door to my room and falling into bed. Despite all that had happened with Hayden, I really was tired, and I almost immediately fell to sleep.



*



When I woke up, it was late afternoon, which was normal for my schedule now. Go to night school, breakfast with Hayden, sleep for six hours, and then study until night school again. Maybe I could fit a couple extra hours of sleep in there, if I felt I had studied enough.


I meandered out into the living area, wondering if I could scrounge up some cereal or an apple. To my mild surprise, Cinda was sitting on the couch, watching TV while she wrote an article. I had forgotten it was Sunday.


“Good afternoon?” I asked, glancing at her.


She looked up. “Oh, hi Deandra!” She said brightly. “Is this usually when you wake up? Where do you find the time to study?”


“Night class starts at 10, Cinda.” I told her, checking the digital clock on the oven. It was 2:30. Plenty of time. “Do we have any food around here? Where’s Arianna?”


“Sleeping, just like you. I live with boring people.” She said, trailing off with a sigh. “Hey!” She exclaimed, brightening. “Do you wanna go out for… what would you call this… lunch-ish? We could go to that little café with the library. You could study and I could write this monstrosity.” She suggested, gesturing at the article on her lap.


I considered for a moment. It would be nice to get out of the flat, I supposed. It was the only place I had been besides night school and occasional dates with Hayden for weeks. “Sure.” I agreed. “Just let me go get dressed.”


Minutes later, Cinda and I had walked downstairs, I with my books and Cinda with her laptop and binder. She held out her arm, and I took it, ready for the Side-Along Apparation, since I had a history of splinching. There was a crack, and then we were at Pop’s Café and Library, a cute little place in one of the lesser-known parts of London. A little over priced, but cute.


We set our stuff down at one of the back tables, near the bookshelves, which were extremely old and sagging a bit under the weight of the books. Cinda ordered two coffees for the both of us, and we settled down to work.


It was pretty much silent between us, with only the sound of Cinda clacking away at the keys of her laptop, and an occasional question about something on Charms or if I knew how some word was spelled. After maybe an hour of this, there was a break in Cinda’s typing. She looked up, a bit more frazzled than she had been when we came in.


“I can’t look at this anymore.” She told me, shutting the lid of her laptop. “I need a break. You?”


“I could go for one.” I admitted, closing my Charms textbook, making sure to mark my page. “Should we buy food or something?”


“One of those scones looks really good.” Cinda said dreamily, looking at the menu hanging on the wall. “I’ll order, shall I?”


“Oh, I can do it, you did it last time.” I offered, but she waved me away.


“I need to stretch my legs anyway, don’t worry about it.” She said.


I needed to go to the bathroom, so I got up anyway, cracking my back and walking to the back of the shop, thinking. I needed to pass this Charms NEWT. I needed to pass all my NEWTs. It was the only way I was going to move forward in my life. I needed to get a career, to make some of my own money. And then, maybe, I could afford to think about what had happened at Hogwarts. But right now, I needed to focus on moving forward, not looking back.


Or, at least, that’s what I told myself as I stared at an ad for tampons mounted on the inside of the bathroom stall. It still really bothered me that I didn’t know why they had suddenly just… turned on me. There had to be a reason. It was unrealistic for a human being to hurt another without provocation. Even if they were 12 year old boys.


When I got back to our table, Cinda had put her laptop and binder on the floor, and had two scones and two new coffees on the table. I followed suit, placing my books on the ground, and pulled the scone across the table towards me, digging into it.


“So. Dee.”


I glanced up, suddenly afraid. So there was a reason that Cinda wanted to come here. She wanted to interrogate me. Probably more about Hayden.


“How do you feel about the wedding?”


I blanched. That was unexpected. “How do you know about the wedding?” I asked, trying to get the image of Athena and Al kissing under the altar out of my brain, but every time someone used the word wedding, it came up, like it was permanently part of my memory, even though it hadn’t happened yet.


“Rose Weasley and I happen to be on speaking terms.” She said, trying to look innocent as she took a sip of her coffee. “Anyway, we got a save the date.” She said, taking it out of her purse and sliding it across the table for me to look at. “Well, you did, but Rose said we could all come. She also told me that Athena wanted you there, probably just to spite you.”


“It’s a bit early for save the dates, isn’t it?” I asked, trying hard not to choke on my scone as I read the date on the card. “March 15th? Rose told me it would be May 30th!”


“Maybe you made her feel threatened with your little visit.” Cinda suggested. “Athena, that is. That’s probably why she moved the date up.”


“It’s the end of November.” I said, glancing outside to the cold, grey sky. “That’s a lot of planning to do in not a lot of time.”


“Yes, well,” Cinda said, taking a bite out of her scone. “How do you feel?” She asked, her words muffled around the pastry.


“I don’t need you to be my therapist, Cinda.”


“Oh come on, Dee, I’m curious.”


“Fine.” I said, scowling. “I feel murderous, because my best friend is sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Again.” I took a bite of my scone, tossed it on the plate, and leaned back, crossing my arms across my chest.


Cinda laid a tragic hand to her heart. “Such hurtful words.” She said dramatically. “I suppose I’ll just have to figure it out on my own. Let’s see… if I were Deandra and the boy I was in love with got a fiancée and moved on… hmm. I would feel hurt. And confused. Because clearly he was in love with you, or at least deeply cared about you, because you’re still alive, so how did he move on so quickly?”


I tried to keep my scowl in place, but my expression faltered, and Cinda noticed. “Ahh, I got it right. Well, Dee, I have the answer to that as well. I really do love Rose, she’s such a source of information.” I groaned, and buried my face in my hands. I was going to have a talk with Rose about things she was allowed to tell Cinda when this was over.


“He didn’t.” Cinda said.


“Didn’t what?” I asked, uncovering my face.


“He didn’t move on so quickly. After you left, they didn’t date until two years, when they landed themselves in the same Auror program, and became partners. They didn’t just go to school together, they’re coworkers. Office romance. And of course it helped that she unveiled Delilah.” I glared at the mention of my alias. Before, Deandra had been the name to avoid for Cinda and Arianna. Now Delilah was the past I didn’t want to think about.


After a few minutes of silence, in which I contemplated what to say to this and Cinda sat back, looking smug, I finally decided on the evasive response. “It doesn’t matter what I feel.” I told her. “He’s getting married and I’m dating someone else. Emotions aren’t what I need to think about in this situation.”


Cinda looked at me curiously. “Really? I thought emotions were all this situation was.”


“No,” I said. “It’s just… never mind, it’s stupid, it’s going back to Deandra before Delilah and I just don’t want to—can’t—” I amended. “Think about that right now. I have to study and do well on the NEWTs.” I reached under the table and grabbed my book again, opening it and trying to ignore Cinda’s penetrating stare.


After a few minutes, Cinda sighed and shook her head, grabbing her laptop and binder. “I wish I understood you, Dee.”


I can assure you, you don’t. I told her in my head.



*



I tapped the end of my pencil against my desk, trying to think of an adequate response to the question: In 1642, what international organization banned the Lovelust Charm on the grounds of dangerous usage and unsavory intentions? I was sorely tempted to write FUCK THIS SHIT in big, bold letters, but I knew that would make 2,000Gs worth of night classes worth nothing in 12 letters.


I was so glad I skipped these in 7th year. I don’t think 17 year old Deandra would have been able to handle NEWTs, what with everything else going on. 21 year old Deandra could hardly handle them. Shit was tough.


The Charms NEWT took an hour and a half to complete. When I finally handed in my roll of parchment, it seemed like I had been sitting in that desk for a lifetime. As soon as I got outside I cracked my back, knuckles, and neck, completely stiff from sitting in that uncomfortable plastic chair for so long.


The wizard supervising the entrance and exit of the Exam Hall (a two-level concrete building made up of one long hallway with a bunch of little rooms attached) smiled cheerfully at me. “How do you think you did?” She asked me.


I didn’t want to think about how I did. The whole time my brain was full of things not related to Charms—Hayden’s request to meet his mother, Al and Athena’s engagement, and an underlying sting of betrayal coming from Rose’s direction, because she told Cinda all those things. Overall, not the best test-taking environment.


But I couldn’t think about that. It was too late now.


“Okay.” I said, giving her a bracing smile. “Where should I go now?”


“Charms practical.” She told me. “You’re going to go down the hall until you reach the elevators, and then go to the basement. Once you’re there, there should be another supervisor to direct you.” She smiled at me. “Good luck!”


“Thank you.” I said, and set off down the hall in the direction she pointed. I felt a growing sense of dread as I walked. If you thought hard enough, this entire place could be a metaphor for hell, and I was descending deeper into it.


The supervisor directed me to the third room down from the elevators. It was a larger room, with four stations set up. The examiners all sitting there, waiting to decide your future. For them, it was just another job. Just something to check off the to-do list.


For me, it was everything.


I took a deep breath and walked over to an open examiner, a middle-aged woman with mousy hair and a thin, worn smile.


“Name, please?” She asked.


“Misgen, Deandra.” I told her, and she searched her roster.


“Gotcha.” She said, crossing my name out with a bright yellow sharpie. “Alright, Miss Misgen, let’s see what you can do….”


She made me perform several charms, varying from stuff I learned in first year to things I had barely covered in night classes. For most of those, I managed to improvise, but otherwise I thought the exam went fairly well. All my studying had evidently paid off.


“Very good, Miss Misgen, very good.” The examiner said after I performed a charm on a teapot to make it sing. “Now, just one last thing… if you could conjure a Patronus Charm for me?”


I swallowed. “I thought that wasn’t a standard?”


“Oh, it’s not.” She said. “But it could improve your score significantly if you can perform one. If not… well, it doesn’t count against you, so no harm done.”


“Okay,” I muttered. I guess if it could only help… I knew the theory well enough, and had even managed to cast one once, back at Salem. Not that I ever had much use for one.


I tried to summon up a happy memory, but to my dismay, nothing came to mind. All my memories with Al were tainted by the bitterness between us now. All the memories of Aidan and my family were confused and overshadowed by my parents’ death, and when Aidan turned on me. The only ones left were a precious few with Cinda and Arianna. I called on one, the first night we had a ‘sleepover’. We talked about our pasts. That’s when the truth came out about me, and they reacted in the best way possible. They took me in.


Expecto Patronum!” I exclaimed, flourishing my wand. Only a few pathetic wisps of silver emitted from it. I felt the heat rise to my cheeks. “That’s…weird. I’ve been able to conjure one before.” I muttered, almost to myself. “Expecto Patronum!” Nothing.


“Okay, Miss Misgen.” The examiner said, stopping me. “I think that’s enough.”


“That doesn’t count against me, right?” I asked desperately. “You said it wouldn’t.”


“Don’t worry, Miss Misgen. You did great.” She said, giving me an encouraging smile. “Now, go sleep it off. It’s probably been a very long day for you.”


“Yes, yes it has been.” I said, a bit defensively. “I—okay.” I turned on my heel and walked out of the room, feeling terrible about the practical. There goes my future, my career—it’s all over.


Whoa there. A little voice said in my head. That didn’t count against anything. Relax.


Merlin, I just couldn’t think right now. I rubbed my temples and nodded at the supervisor, who gave me a cheerful smile. As soon as I got out of the building and into sunlight, I Apparated home. I took a once-a-few-months risk of Apparating right into my room. Without taking off any of my clothes or doing anything, I collapsed onto my bed and curled up into a ball, wiggling out of my shoes and throwing them off the bed.


What went wrong in there? Why couldn’t I conjure a Patronus?


Why couldn’t I think of something happy?



*



It was amazing how much WizTV someone could watch when they were trying to avoid their life.


I had maybe seen 3 hours of Potion Panic before Cinda decided to intervene. “Dee.” She said, pointing her wand at the screen. It went black just as one of the main characters, ‘Detective Donna’, was about to read some incriminating letters between the wife and her brother. I made a noise of protest, but Cinda ignored me, pulling me off the couch. “Dee, you are meeting Hayden’s mother in 45 minutes, it’s time to get ready. Arianna, help me!” She called as she struggled to support my dead weight.


“I don’t—want to.” I told Cinda as she dragged me away from the couch. I had agreed to meet Hayden’s mother a few days ago, on another date with Hayden. Arianna popped her head out of her room, clad in only a blue bra, holding two shirts in her hand.


“Cinda, if she wants to be a slob for the Queen of England, let her be a slob.” She said, brandishing her shirts at us.


“The green one would look better.” I told her as Cinda pushed me into my bedroom. I fell on to the bed and pretended to go to sleep. Cinda huffed and began to go through my drawers, looking for something suitable. I rolled over and glared at her back. “I don’t want to look presentable.” I whined. “She’s not going to like me anyway.”


“That’s ridiculous.” Cinda told me, tossing a blue sun dress at me. “Go try this on.”


“A sun dress?” I asked disbelievingly. “It’s the end of November.”


“Just go try it on, Dee, don’t be difficult.” Cinda said. “I’ll look for something dressier in my room. We’re… sort of the same size.”


“You’d be better off looking in Arianna’s room.” I muttered as I strutted across the hall into Arianna and I’s bathroom, dress balled around my fist.


“Hey!” Cinda called after me. “Put this on too! I don’t think I have anything and I know Arianna basically just owns Quidditch jerseys and work clothes.” She threw a light blue cardigan at my face, a few shades lighter than the dress she had given me. I looked at it in disgust.


“I never wear this, it makes me look like an old lady.”


“Just try it on, Dee!” Cinda said exasperatedly. With a huff, I slammed the bathroom door. She didn’t have to be rude about it.


I had to admit, the sundress-cardigan combination didn’t look that bad. I walked out of the bathroom, where now Cinda and Arianna were waiting for me. “You look fine.” Arianna told me after a once over, and shut herself in her room again.


“You look gorgeous, Dee.” Cinda gushed. “Or, at least, you will once I’m through with you. Take of your socks.” I looked down at my feet, which were covered in thick wool socks.


“Do I have to?” I asked, wigging my toes.


“Yes of course you have to.” Cinda told me. “Now, come!” She grabbed my hand and dragged me to her bedroom.



*



By the time she was done, I had reluctantly removed my socks, chosen shoes to go with my outfit, had my hair done up in an elegant-yet-not-too-elegant style (Cinda’s words), and had eye makeup and lipstick applied to my face. And Hayden was going to be here any minute.


“Arianna!” Cinda called from her bedroom. “Come here, I need your opinion on something.”


“This better not be on how Dee looks.” I heard her grumble as she opened the bedroom door. I glared at her as Cinda spun me around like a model. “She looks great, good job, Cinda.” Arianna said grumpily. “Now all you have to do is pack her a lunch and give her a kiss on the head before she goes off to Kindergarten.”


“What’s Kindergarten?” I asked.


“American thing.” Arianna told me. “American muggle thing… you know what, never mind.” She said as a loud buzzing sounded. “Looks like your date’s here. Have fun, don’t screw up.” She walked back down the hall into her room. I wistfully wondered what she was doing in there. It was probably better than meeting the Queen of England, your boyfriend’s mother.


“Go!” Cinda encouraged. “Go answer it!”


I took a deep breath, plastered a smile across my face, and walked to the living area, pulling the front door open. Hayden had his finger on the buzzer and a bouquet of flowers in his other hand. He smiled when he saw me.


“You look nice.” He complimented, handing me the flowers.


“Thanks. So do you.” I returned, pointing my wand at the flowers so they floated to my room. Hayden watched them in awe.


“It’s still so weird that you can do that with a stick.” He told me, grinning.


“Magic wand.” I corrected. “Shall we go?”


“We shall,” He said, holding out his arm. I set my wand on the end table and took it, wincing at the thought of having to walk down five flights of stairs in heels. “I hope you don’t mind, but I got us a limo again. Feels fitting, since we’re heading to Buckingham Palace.”

“Merlin’s pants.” I said under my breath. The nerves that I had managed to keep at bay suddenly hit me, making me slightly nauseous.

“It’ll be fine.” Hayden reassured as we reached the bottom of my building. He opened the door for me, and there it was, a sleek black limo waiting just for us. A balding chauffer clad in a black suit opened the door for me. I thanked him and climbed inside, trying hard not to take it all in. If I took it all in, it would only make matters worse.

Hayden climbed in after me and sat by me as the limo began to move. I turned to him suddenly. “I’m really nervous.” I admitted, my mouth sandpaper dry. In response to this, he took my hand and kissed the back of it. I smiled, the sickness in my stomach receding slightly.

“Does that make it better?” He asked softly. I nodded, and he flipped my hand over and kissed the inside of my wrist. “What about that?” I smiled, and glanced at the driver. He noticed where I was looking and reached around me to press a button. The partition closed, boxing us in to the limo. Hayden planted little butterfly kisses all up my arm, leaving a trail of warmth where his lips brushed my skin. When he reached my mouth, his kiss was soft and brief, but somehow still perfect. “Everything will be alright.” He said soothingly. “I promise.”



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