“Looks like you were right.” Roxy said through a mouthful of cereal at breakfast a week later. She brandished a rather vile piece of pink (yes, really) parchment at me.
I took it and held it a fair distance from me, not because I was that disgusted by the colour – it was vile but I’m not an absolute idiot – but because it hurt my head to focus on reading something too close to me. I felt like an old dear.
I briefly scanned the parchment, informing me that Roxanne Weasley (+1) was invited to celebrate the engagement of Victoire Weasley and Teddy Lupin at the Burrow, on the 31st December.
“I never Saw this.” I reminded her, massaging my temples to make the headache disappear. Though it had faded dramatically since the whole getting-stuck-in-the-vision thing, it hadn’t completely gone. I wondered briefly if it would be classified as a migraine yet. Dad would know. He was a doctor – a muggle one, true, but effective enough. I wondered if, if I asked him to send me some painkillers, they’d be taken off me.
“No, but we weren’t at the Burrow when you came to mine at Christmas, remember?” Roxy said, as if it were obvious.
I momentarily thought it odd that she was referring to an event I’d seen in the future in the past tense. Then I realised that I couldn’t really pass opinion on anything ‘odd’ right now.
“So you were right,” Roxy concluded, dropping her spoon in her empty cereal bowl with a clatter. “There was a party. Therefore, no room for Roxy at the Burrow.”
“Right. Yeah.” I closed my eyes for a moment to dull the ache, then opened them and made an attempt to make an actual, decent contribution to this currently one-sided conversation. “A New Years Eve Engagement party.”
“Oh yeah,” Roxy snatched back the parchment and read it as if I’d been lying. “Bloody cheek. I might have had other plans.”
“No. Except… you know. The usual. Shining my shoes and darning my stockings ready for school the next day.”
I was fairly certain that this and other related events had not once occurred.
I looked pointedly at her feet, currently wearing mismatched sports socks rather than stockings – I was also fairly certain that she nor any other girl at Hogwarts owned anything of the sort – and her trainers discarded underneath the table.
“It might be a good party.” I said, fairly, neatly skipping the shoe and stocking issue.
“Probably. My brother will love it – Veela cousins galore to bore with his tales of being a division two reserve team beater.”
Roxy’s older brother Fred had been the bane of her life for our first five years at school. The two of them were both fiercely competitive and unfortunately for Rox, Fred had the advantage of two years superiority and being male, which gave him the upper hand in both studies and sport.
I don’t know how she got by, I really don’t. First Fred to contend with, then Rob and Chris, in Quidditch. Not that Chris was entirely competitive but he couldn’t help his superior strength. And then there was Luc, in class, with his ability to understand and store everything important the first time he heard it.
Maybe on some level she enjoyed the challenge.
Lord only knows why she’s friends with me then, I lack any competitive drive whatsoever.
Anyway, she sounded scathing, but I knew she did actually recognise that Fred was doing pretty well for himself. Just nineteen and already signed for a team – any team. That was pretty much unheard of nowadays; Quidditch players tended to reach their peak later on.
But this was Fred. She couldn’t actually sound proud of him. That would upset the balance of everything we’d ever known.
“So, when are you going to ask me to be your plus-one?” I asked, with a grin.
“Is there no surprise in romance any more?” Rob chose to arrive at this moment with a goofy leer and clambered onto the bench beside me. This placed him opposite Roxy, I noticed with a spark of interest, then cursed Chris for putting these ideas in my head.
“Not with madam, here.” Roxy sighed, dramatically. “How am I supposed to woo her when she knows my wooing plans before me?”
“Woo?” I asked.
“It’s a word.” Roxy defended.
“Now who’s been reading Harrie’s crappy romance books?” I sniped back.
“You’re the one that leaves them lying around…”
“I wouldn’t call stuffed to the bottom of my trunk ‘lying around’…”
“What have I walked in on?” Chris arrived, planting a kiss on the top of my head before ruffling my hair and sliding into the seat on the other side of Rob.
“Lover’s tiff.” Rob supplied, probably stumped by the concept of Roxy squabbling with anyone but him. “Far as I can tell, Rox has popped the question to Ren -”
The throbbing in my head flared up again and I had to fight not to wince. I didn’t want Roxy to notice and nag me to go to the hospital wing, as she’d been doing for the past week or so.
“The question?” Chris pointed out, innocently enough.
“She’s going to be my plus one… sorry Chris -” Roxy grinned, “- to my cousin’s engagement party. Hey, actually, maybe I can get you all invited. After all, it’s New Years Eve… I’m sure I can put up a sufficient fuss to acquire a few more invites…”
I didn’t doubt it. If Roxy’s ‘cute, baby daughter’ act wouldn’t get her what she wanted from her Dad, she could argue for England. I got the impression that it both exhausted and delighted him when she stubbornly and intelligently made her point to him. For some weird reason it made him proud of his extremely difficult daughter.
“Wicked.” Rob loaded his plate with bacon, “What’s the situation going to be regarding Veela cousins…?”
As Roxy narrowed her eyes I promptly pulled a ‘told you so’ face behind Rob’s back at Chris. If Rob was interested in Veela cousins, obviously there was no romantic feeling there between him and Roxy…
Chris shook his head, eyebrows raised, and nodded at Rob again. I followed his line of vision and noticed the tiny, wicked smirk on Rob’s face as he dug into his breakfast. Almost as if he knew exactly what he was doing. Almost as if he were bracing himself for the backlash…
“Oh, don’t worry Robin,” Roxy said, airily, “There’ll be enough of them to go around for entertainment, you know, for the rest of us. To count how many rejections you can get in one night, that is -”
Rob appeared surprised at the lack of yelling, but laughed appreciatively at the comeback. If there was one thing Rob definitely was, it was a good sport. Or perhaps it was because he knew that that would infuriate Rox even more.
Speaking of good sport…
“Hey, why aren’t you guys training this morning?” I realised that today was a Friday – they’d usually have their early morning sessions today and yet here I was, not abandoned at breakfast alone, whilst Luc buggered off with whoever the hell his current girlfriend was.
Roxy and Rob exchanged eye rolls – momentarily allies – and chanted simultaneously as Chris answered me. “No training the day before a match.”
“Ah.” I remembered. The match tomorrow. Ravenclaw vs. Gryffindor. All they’d been talking about all week. It must have just slipped my mind because…
Nope. No excuse. I was just a poor and pathetic excuse for a friend and girlfriend. I‘d been so consumed in feeling sorry for myself over my headaches (migraines?) that I hadn’t even been worrying like I usually did.
“Hey, you’ll be -” I began.
“’You’ll be careful won’t you?’” The three of them chimed in together again. What were they, wind up dolls?
Was I that predictable?
I scowled. “I’m only saying.”
“Ren, Ren,” Roxy gave a dramatic sigh and eye roll, “You know perfectly well that to date no one has ever managed to get anywhere near hurting me or Rob…”
“Willis-Weasley Beating Team have most definitely inflicted a whole lot more damage than they’ve ever suffered.” Rob was attempting to sound wise, I think, with the whole talking in the third person thing. It didn’t work. Particularly teamed with the casual high-five he and Roxy exchanged across the table without pausing to swallow their mouthfuls of breakfast.
See what I mean? Sometimes they can be the best of friends. Perhaps this was going to be a good Roxy and Rob day.
“Why ‘Willis-Weasley’?” Roxy demanded, as an after-thought to the amiable high-five.
“Because! Because why should you be first?”
Ah, I spoke too soon.
“It sounds better.” Rob shrugged as if it were obvious.
“It does not.” Roxy dismissed with a flick of her hair. “And besides, it makes more sense for ‘Weasley’ to be first. It’s alphabetical.”
Oh dear God, this was pathetic.
“Does it really matter?” I fulfilled my best mate quota with an attempt to keep the peace.
I was promptly ignored.
“Well, fuck me. If it’s alphabetical, that just overrides any sort of freedom of expression, doesn’t it - ” Rob retorted, snarkily.
Freedom of expression. Such a freaking Ravenclaw.
“It’s because you think you’re better, isn’t it?” Roxy accused.
“Did I say that?”
“It’s obvious. You think you’re better and stronger than me because I’m a girl.” She had her ‘dangerous’ look. The one where her dark eyes were narrowed to the extreme and seemed to flash threateningly.
As usual, it didn’t have an outward effect on Rob.
“Well, I am stronger.”
Oh Rob. Stupid move, stupid move. I could practically hear mine and Chris simultaneous internal groans.
“I knew it.” Roxy hissed.
Even Rob recognised the error of his ways there. “I didn’t say better. Did I say better? You heard me, I said stronger. I am, I’m a bloke – it’s physiological, you know that –”
“A beater’s strength is his strength!”
“Who says that?”
“You do!” Her voice was steadily rising in pitch.
He was an idiot, sometimes. And absolute idiot.
“Well, what do you want me to say, Rox? You need some sort of a reassurance? You need me to tell me you’re good just to make you feel secure? Sure. You’re amazing. There. Is that what you want to hear?”
“Fuck off and die, Willis.” She was a sweetheart, my Roxy.
“Couldn’t do that to the team. Where would we be without our strong beater?”
Sometimes I truly wondered if any sort of thought process went on at all inside Rob’s head before he spoke.
I sincerely doubted it.
Roxy’s grip on her fork tightened. Oh no. Not another stabbing. I still wasn’t over the trauma of the Vicious Fork Stabbing of ‘24. I could still hear Rob’s howl of pain and see the shiny metal impaled in deep red blood on the back of his hand if I tried.
The grip loosened.
Oh thank God.
She swivelled and stood up, swinging her legs over the bench. “I’m going to Charms. I’ll see you all there.” Her tone of voice was very sweet and calm, as if she were just heading down to class early to catch up on some reading.
Not likely. She was Roxy Weasley.
Rob swallowed as he watched her stride away, a slightly pained expression on his face as if he’d just been presented with the most complicated Arithmancy problem ever.
When Roxy disappeared from the doorway without looking back, Rob turned back to Chris (amused) and me (disapproving).
“I was kidding.” He held out his hands in appeal. “You know I was kidding.”
“I don’t think it really matters what we know, mate.” Chris said.
“Oh, come on. She knows it too -”
“I don’t think she finds it funny.” I supplied. Understatement of the Year there.
“But it was funny.” Rob looked thoroughly thrown.
“Yes, yes. You’re very funny.” I patted him on the arm before standing up. “Come on, we’re going to Charms.”
Rob followed my lead, along with Chris, without protest, until we were climbing the stairs towards the Charms corridor.
“But -” Eventually Rob recognised the seating predicament we’d be in.
“Yep.” I put a hand on his back to prevent his escape. Not that I could really restrain him. He hadn’t been lying about the strong thing. He could probably knock me aside with a finger, but that’s not the point. “You’re sitting next to our dearest Roxanne.”
“No buts.” I ushered him along. “Man up.”
To be fair I could see why he’d been slightly apprehensive. I was sure he, too, remembered the Vicious Stabbing Incident of ’24. After all, his hand was the one in question. I think he still had the scars, having refused to go to the hospital wing.
With one last shove, Rob was through the door and stumbling along towards his seat next to Roxy at a table for four in the corner, his complexion ever so visibly paled.
“Nicely done.” Chris congratulated me.
“You say that now,” I pointed out, “But you’re the one that’s got to sit with them.”
I saw realisation dawn as Chris groaned. “Touché. This is going to be one frosty research session.”
For the past term we’d been working on a Charms research project in pairs. Alphabetically. Therefore Weasley and Willis were working together, sat on a table opposite McMillan and Potter.
I could see Chris’ resignation that he was going to have to work twice as hard throughout this lesson as he both assisted Lily Potter in their project, and also acted as the messenger between Rob and Roxy whenever they were required to communicate.
I, however, was safely on the other side of the classroom working with Luc.
“Have a fun lesson, love.” I grinned.
Chris responded with a self-pitying grunt and slouched into his seat opposite the two darlings. Roxy had averted her chair to a forty-five degree angle away from Rob, while he sat – still with that baffled expression – with his cheek resting on his fist, hazarding frequent glances at the sheet of dark hair blocking Rox from him.
This would take a while. I ought to have felt bad for Chris having to deal with it, really I should.
I skipped across the room to my lovely seat on the lovely far side of the room, a lovely long distance from the frosty vibes.
“Morning, Mr Da Costa.” I chirped, as I slipped into my chair besides Luc.
He frowned. Well that was a reassuring greeting.
“What have you got away with?” He analysed, after a moments scrutinizing.
How offensive. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean.” I protested, still in my chirpy voice.
He stared for a second longer, before glancing over his shoulder at the Arctic. Oh wait, my mistake, Roxy and Rob’s table.
He understood at once. “What was it about this time? Let me guess, he implied he was smarter than her?”
“Stronger.” I corrected him.
“Ah.” He nodded wisely, “A touchy one.”
It was true. The strength issue was always a more touchy one for Roxy because, unlike with grades or anything, it was the one thing she had to admit to herself that she wouldn’t be able to beat Rob at. You could study extra hard to improve your grades (sadly I’ve seen them both at this, frantically studying the night before a test, not for the teacher or themselves, but for the sake of competition) but there’s not really any way for Roxy to become stronger than Rob. Ever.
“You missed the climax at breakfast,” I told Luc, “And you missed the last fight. And the… Hang on… When was the last time you witnessed a Roxy-Rob fight?”
“I dunno,” Luc shrugged, “They fight every other day, it can’t be that long ago -”
“You haven’t been sitting with us for ages,” I realised. Wait a minute… “Lucas Da Costa are you breaking The Rules?”
The Rules are a sacred and vital part of Luc’s inclusion in our group. I perhaps first ought to explain that Lucas Da Costa is probably the smartest guy in the year; which, I suppose, in turn makes him the smartest guy in the school. But whilst some may apply this intelligence through extra assignments and further study, Luc chooses to use his smart-alec ways to seduce a new girl about every other week. Alright, that’s a slight exaggeration, but sometimes it feels that way.
So this called for some rules.
An extensive set of regulations surrounding Luc’s slightly whore-ish nature to ensure that his (and our) reputation remained untarnished, and we could all get along just fine and dandy, making life much better for everyone of course.
“No, Renee Cook, I have not,” Luc retorted without missing a beat.
Ha. Think you can deter me with your smooth talk, do you, mate?
“Remind me, please, of Rule Number Four?” I prompted.
His innocent expression slipped just a fraction. Just a fraction, though. He was good. Any one else probably wouldn’t have noticed, but there were four people in the school who wouldn’t be. And unfortunately for him, one of them was perched right next to him.
And he knew it.
“Aw, come on, Ren…” He moaned, with a small laugh.
“You have, haven’t you?” I exclaimed. Blimey, I’d only been guessing but it was true. “You’ve broken Rule Number Four. You’ve abandoned us for six or more meals on the trot. We agreed to this, Luc! You can’t abandon us for a whole two days, it’s just not done!”
“You don’t understand,” He protested, “It’s easy for you and Chris. You don’t have to do the boyfriend/friend split, you’re in the same friendship group! We don’t all have the perfect life, you know…”
My head throbbed painfully again. Ouch. I’d almost forgotten about this blasted headache. Keeps coming back to haunt me when I least expect it.
I rubbed my forehead, as if that would make it go away.
“Oh no, you’re not going to guilt trip me with that one,” I told him, “I’m not thick. What’s wrong with bringing her over to eat with us for a change? Come on, we’d all like to meet her, I’m sure. Who is the lucky girl this week, by the way?”
Luc muttered something I couldn’t quite hear, his voice muffled by the odd way he was sitting with his mouth pressed to the heel of his hand as he rested on his elbow.
“Pardon?” I assumed it was an accident.
He mumbled something incomprehensible again.
Then it clicked. Blimey. He was uncomfortable. Luc Da Costa was a little bit embarrassed! This was brilliant. Unheard of. And bloody brilliant.
“Come now,” I nudged him in what I felt was a friendly and jovial way, “Tell your buddy who it is. You want me to use my inner eye? ‘Cause I will. I’ll look right here, right now, I tell you. And I’ll See. You know I will -”
I was only pissing about. And he knew it. Of course I wouldn’t be so petty (that and I was off Seeing for life) but he lifted his head from his hand and let his arm fall to the desk.
“It’s Bonnie.” He said it so shortly that I didn’t click right away.
He glared. “Bonnie Bonnie.”
“Bonnie Bonnie? As in Bonnie Summerby? As in Bonnie Bonnie? As in your ex-girlfriend Bonnie?” I babbled. Maybe a little.
“She’s not my ex-girlfriend.”
I groaned. “Oh God, Luc, are you really going to do that? The whole Ultimate Bachelor act gets old, you know. You can claim you were never an item all you want, but you were at it pretty much exclusively for months with Bonnie, and if that’s not a relationship then I don’t know –”
“I never said she wasn’t my girlfriend.” Luc said, still sounding snippy, “I said she’s not my ex-girlfriend.”
I opened my mouth with a clever retort. Then stopped and had to close it. Then, “What?”
“She’s not my ex-girlfriend,” He said, “Because we never broke up.”
“You never…” I thought back, “Yes you did.”
“No we didn’t.”
“Yes you did!”
“Ren, I think I know we -”
“You always break up with them!” I pointed out.
“With who?” Luc wasn’t entirely on my wavelength.
“With girls,” I was doing well, I though. Sounding intelligent and suchlike. A bit.
Luc raised an eyebrow, clearly thinking exactly the same as me. Then he got this weird smile on his face that I don’t think I’d seen before. “Well, not this time.”
Oh God, Oh Lord, Oh hell.
“Lucas Da Costa, was that just a sappy smile?” I demanded.
He wiped the smile from his face. “What? No -”
“It was!” I gaped, putting two and two together. “Oh God! You like her!”
“What? Of course I like her, what else would I be doing with her -”
“No, you really like her!” I prodded him in the chest for extra emphasis, “That’s why you’ve been together for… God, it must be months and months now. That’s why you’ve ditched us for her -”
“I have not ditched you -”
“- that’s why you… hey.” I paused, with a frown. “If you really like her, why don’t you just bring her to sit with us rather than ditching us?”
It was Luc’s turn to open and close his mouth like a fish. Like a twit-fish.
Realisation dawned, a little late. Again.
“Does she still not like us?” I asked, a little incredulous. Of course I’d be surprised. We were a wonderful bunch, me and my buddies. You know, the odd bit of violence (strictly between the boys and/or Roxy and Rob) and death threats (always Roxy and Rob) aside. Wonderful, I tell you. I don’t know who in their right mind wouldn’t be thrilled at the opportunity to sit with us.
“She doesn’t dislike you…” Luc said, in an attempt to defend his Love.
“Then why did we not know you were still together? Why haven’t you joyously introduced her to your friends and integrated her into the group?”
“Introduced? You’ve gone to the same school for six years -”
“She’s a sixth year, we’ve not had a proper chance to get to know her.”
“Yeah, well…” Luc shrugged.
“She still doesn’t like us!” I concluded, mildly outraged.
“It’s not that,” Luc groaned, “Really, it’s not. She doesn’t dislike you guys, Ren, she’s intimidated by you.”
I blinked. “Intimidated?”
“Yeah. And I don’t blame her. Look at what she’s going to see when she looks at us lot. There’s me -”
“Perfection incarnate, obviously.” I chipped in humorously, but immodest little Luc ignored me quite rudely.
“There’s Roxy and Rob ripping one another to shreds either verbally or physically -”
Well I couldn’t deny that that would be a little off-putting.
“- And then there’s Mr and Mrs Couple of the Year so in love that it hurts -”
It took me a second to figure out he meant me and Chris. I blame it on the head twinge. Darn headaches.
“Oh come on, me and Chris aren’t like that.”
“You’re so like that. It only takes five minutes in your presence for you to wonder when the wedding is…”
Ouch. Freaking headaches.
I think it was getting worse. It seemed I couldn’t go a minute or so without another twinge and they were only getting more frequent. And painful. That last one made me close my eyes.
“Ren?” Luc looked concerned.
“Uh-huh?” I asked, squeezing my eyes for a second before opening them.
“Sure.” I blinked a couple of times. The light seemed to be really bright. Was it usually that bright?
“If it really bothers you I can ask Bonnie to have lunch with us,” He said, jumping to the conclusion that I was hurt by his girlfriends disregard, “But you’re going to have to be the one to tell Roxy and Rob to be on their best behaviour. I get frostbite just looking over there…”
I took a glance over my shoulder and winced again. Too bright. Why was the light hurting my eyes? Now my head was pounding, rather than just the occasional throb.
For one woozy second I forgot what I’d twisted in my seat for, then I remembered, but slowly and with difficulty, like trying to recall a dream. Roxy and Rob, that was it… Roxy and Rob…
I overbalanced in my chair. My eyes were screwed up, my grip was weak and my hand were sweaty.
It was too bright.
The last thing I remembered was Luc’s panicked voice calling my name but from a great distance, blurring images of Rob, Roxy, Chris and… Too bright… A glint of red hair…
I was starting to stir.
“- the Headmaster was very clear that you are to go back to class, Mr McMillan -”
“I’m sorry but that won’t be happening.”
“You can’t… this is not your choice to make! Professor Longbottom has directly informed you that -”
“Well you can directly inform him that I’m not going anywhere -”
No. I couldn’t be waking up. Because that sounded a whole lot like my boyfriends voice and my boyfriend would never be so ill-mannered as to talk to the nurse like that…
“You think we can even concentrate in class now? She’s our friend and she fainted. Do you know how traumatising that can be? I may need to seek therapy in the long run. We’re staying.”
That one sounded like Roxy.
“Yeah, what she said.”
Hey, and that one sounded like –
“Oh, way to go with the insightful input there, Robin.”
Wait. I couldn’t still be sleeping. There’s no way I’d put myself through dreaming about Rob and Roxy’s petty squabbles. I got enough of that in my waking hours.
“You need to leave, Mr McMillan, or it’ll be a detention tomorrow for you and I am not above the innovative idea of scrubbing bed pans... That goes for you too Miss Weasley and Mr Willis. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about you sitting quietly over there Mr Da Costa just because you’ve kept your mouth shut -”
No. If this was real they couldn’t get detentions. Not on match day…
“Shh, she’s waking up.”
I opened my eyes.
“Chris,” I said, and cleared my throat, mildly surprised to hear how hoarse my voice was, “You’re being rude.”
A relieved grin spreading across his worried face was the first thing I took in about my surroundings. “Do forgive me. I completely apologize for my disrespect, Madam Bones.” He said to the nurse, immediately and mock-solemnly, making me chuckle croakily.
“Ren, thank God.” Roxy plopped down onto my bed besides me, “Now, I’ve seen you in a few states recently,” She shot me a knowing look, “But this tops it all.”
Bollocks. What was that look supposed to mean? It’s not like I’d fainted or anything like this before.
“Thanks, beloved best friend. Your support is always graciously received.”
“Noted.” She dismissed with a wave of a hand. “How’s the head?”
“Alright.” I was nonplussed. “Did I hit it?”
“No, Luc caught you -”
I waved a thank you at Luc, on the chair at the foot of my bed, who acknowledged it with an immodest nod of his head.
“- But that’s not what I meant. Headaches, remember? The reason I’ve been telling you to come to the hospital wing all week long and if you’d listened to me, maybe this never would have happened and the stress wouldn’t have cut a good eight years or so from my life -”
“Headaches? You never said you were getting headaches…” Chris sat down on the wooden stool beside my bed and took my hand. It was only against his warm skin that I realised how cold my hands were. He noticed it too, and took them both between his to warm them.
“I’m not.” I glared at Roxy. This was exactly what I didn’t want – Chris worrying about me. “I mean I am. But they’re not bad. Or often. Just every now and then -”
“Yeah, you know, I often get crippling headaches that knock me unconscious for half an hour too…” Rob rolled his eyes.
“I’ve been out for half an hour?”
“You’ve been getting headaches, Miss Cook?” Madam Bones joined in the concern. Marvellous. Just what I love – being the centre of peoples anxiety.
“Just every now and then.” My teeth were gritted.
“For how long?” Madam Bones asked.
At that moment I hated the poor woman. I knew she was only doing her job, and it was a good job. Helping people. I respected that. But I could immediately see where this was going and it was what I’d been trying to avoid for the last week.
“Only about a week.”
“A week?” Chris was frowning, but he didn’t let go of my hands. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
Because I didn’t want all this sodding fuss. Because I didn’t want you to worry.
Because I didn’t want it to be anything to worry about.
Any one of the above.
“We were in Divination.” Roxy supplied, for Madam Bones benefit.
I whipped my head around and glared at her.
“What?” She said, her eyes wide, “We were.”
Oh. I got it. She wasn’t going to say anything about the stupid vision if I wasn’t. Because that’s the sort of friend she was. She was going to make me either do it or die of the guilt of lying.
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t say it.
Chris hated it when I Saw anything. I didn’t want that combined with his worry.
“It was really hot.” I said to Madam Bones. “Maybe I was dehydrated.”
“I’ve checked, and although you were a little dehydrated after your episode, there were no signs of any extended dehydration, nor any other physical abnormality.
“I don’t know, there’s that disgusting growth on her neck right there…” Rob chipped in, peering closely at me, “Oh wait. That’s her head.” He grinned in a ‘what you going to do about it’ kind of way. Prat.
“Charmed, Rob, thanks.” I said.
“Nobody asked you, Robin.” Roxy snapped, simultaneously.
“Miss Weasley, Mr Willis,” Madam Bone sounded slightly weary. “You’re really not doing yourselves any favours…”
“Shutting up. Got it.” Roxy glared at Rob and shifted on the bed so she had her back to him. Mature and stuff.
“I was only kidding. It was funny.” Rob muttered to himself, sounding just as baffled as he had after Roxy had stormed out of breakfast.
“You’re very funny, Robbie,” I consoled him. “Can I go now?” I asked Madam Bones.
“No!” Roxy and Chris said firmly and simultaneously, both in their own way looking out for my health. Although in Roxy’s case her tone was more ‘how stupid are you’ whereas Chris was calmly caring.
“I’m afraid not just yet, Miss Cook.” Madam Bones bustled around with a few inexplicable utensils, “Spit.” She advised, holding a glass tube in front of my face.
“Pardon?” I automatically withdrew.
“Spit.” She repeated.
I stared at the tube, then at Rob and Luc, who were paying absolutely no attention, to Roxy who saw nothing strange about the whole thing, and to Chris, who stifled a grin.
Shooting him a look I shielded my mouth and tried to spit as delicately as possible into the glass vial.
“How do you even make that look pretty?” Roxy rolled her eyes, “I missed the tube when I had to do it in fifth year…”
“Am I done?” I asked, again, “Can I go yet?”
“Have a little patience, Miss Cook,” Madam Bones was starting to sound a little irritated.
I just wanted to get out of there. Whatever she was doing over there, mixing my spit with potions, she was probably trying to figure out what was causing my headaches.
And if she did find out, which she might – I mean, I don’t know any other seers… maybe the whole ‘getting stuck in a vision’ thing has happened before? – nothing was going to stop her announcing it in front of my friends.
And if we got into that vision, we’d get dangerously close to…
“I can’t see any sort of a problem medically,” Madam Bones announced. Fair enough for her to say. The vial of my spit was now a radioactive looking yellow. “Have you been under any level of stress at all?”
I firmly ignored Roxy’s narrowed gaze on the side of my face. It practically burnt. “Not that I’ve especially noticed,” I shrugged, “It is NEWT year, I suppose…”
Rob snorted, “You’re on an E in every class.”
Madam Bones frowned slightly, “Perhaps you’re feeling slightly overworked?”
It was Luc’s turn to snort, “You don’t have to work for an E. What do you think she is, a Hufflepuff?”
If he wasn’t one of my dearest friends, it would be quite easy to hate Luc. But I knew that it wasn’t just a superior attitude, he genuinely couldn’t get his head around that fact that not everyone is a near genius.
“I do too work.” I told him, doing my bit sticking up for the Hufflepuffs. Well. Kind of.
“So you’re feeling stressed?” Madam Bones posed.
“No! I didn’t say that. Look, I’m fine. Maybe I was just a bit tired…”
“So you’re having difficulty sleeping?”
“No! I’m fine. Ok, now I’m slightly stressed. Does that count?” I asked, retaining as much politeness as I could.
“You’ve been saying you’re tired for a while, actually.” Chris interjected, “For about a week, I’d say. Isn’t that how long you said she’s had headaches for?”
Ok, abandoning talking to me now, are we, and just talking about me?
“Yeah.” Roxy agreed without removing her stupid stare off the side of my face. “Why d’you think that is, Ren?”
What was she doing? What happened to it being up to me if I told or not?
“Flu?” I suggested, weakly.
She tutted loudly.
Our exchange hadn’t totally escaped Chris’ notice. Nothing ever did.
His eyes flicked between me and Roxy, questioning.
I squeezed his hand, then turned to Madam Bones. “Seriously. I’m ok. Can I please go now?”
She didn’t look happy about it. But that could have been because she was worried about my health or that she was just frustrated that she hadn’t been able to figure out what was wrong with me. She was probably a Ravenclaw herself.
But, whatever. Fifteen minutes later I was free to go with just the promise of attending an appointment the following week to follow up, which I’d more than likely forget about.
“Lunch?” Rob only had one concern after it turned out I was ok. That was probably all he’d been thinking about the whole time we were in there.
“Read my mind, bro.” Luc agreed, heading towards the Great Hall.
“So, Luc,” I remembered the conversation we’d been having before the fainting incident, “Will Bonnie be joining us today?”
Luc groaned as there was a chorus of ‘Bonnie?’ from the rest of them. A shriek from Roxy. A laugh from Chris. And a ‘who’s Bonnie?’ from Rob.
“You think you can get away with that just because I thought you just died?” Luc shook his head, “I was scared, but not that scared, Cook. You’re going down.”
I wasn’t particularly intimidated by the threat. Luc had nothing on me, especially with the other three now intrigued.
“As in Bonnie Bonnie?” Roxy echoed my exact phrase from earlier, “Again?”
“Nope, not again,” I supplied, “They’ve been together in secret for months now.”
“I’m starting to regret catching you.” Luc informed me.
“Bonnie? She the hot one?” Rob asked.
“No.” Luc said, swiftly heading off any potential interest from Rob.
Just as anticipated, he lost interest.
“Lucas!” Roxy sounded disappointed.
“She’s not hot. She’s beautiful.” He invented, hastily.
“Vomit.” I chipped in.
“Beautiful. Bloody hell. You’re either serious enough to be that sappy or serious enough to pretend to be that sappy to head me off. Either way I’m impressed.” Roxy gave her seal of approval.
“Luc’s growing up.” Chris grinned.
“Give me a break.” Luc sounded fairly exhausted from the onslaught. “And no, she won’t be joining us today. Not until Rob and Rox are on non-murderous terms, and Ren regains enough colour to resemble a human rather than a vampire.” He stared sternly at each of us in turn whilst informing us of our flaws, then paused at Chris. “Chris, you’re doing fine.”
“I should think so.” Chris nodded, matter-of-factly. “So I can meet her?”
“Am I that pale?” I asked, touching my cheeks.
“I thought you were dead.” Luc said, in explanation.
“I want to meet Bonnie!” Roxy complained.
“You’ve met her already. You just don’t remember because you were strangling Rob with his tie.” Luc reminded her, calmly.
No wonder the poor girl has avoided us.
Rob, Roxy and Luc took off slightly ahead of Chris and I. Ordinarily I’d have kept pace – despite the utterly pointless conversation – but Chris’ steady hold on my hand held me back a little.
Oh hell. I almost didn’t want to look up at him.
“So what was all that about?”
I steadily looked at his shoes, “What was what about?”
“Ren.” He took both my hands. The gesture pulled me closer and, the seriousness of the situation aside, I still got that familiar old pang of longing that only Chris could elicit just by pulling me close.
Roxy wanted me to tell him. Roxy was smart. She’d know what was for the best.
Why the hell couldn’t I say this?
Another beat of silence passed as I willed myself to at the very least look up and meet his eyes.
But I didn’t.
It made me jump when he pressed his lips against my hair. “I’m going to let this go, seeing as you’ve just fainted -” He was way too good for me. “- But Ren… you… I used to be the one you’d tell everything to. I know, Roxy’s your best mate too. But we… we’re more than just the girlfriend-boyfriend thing, aren’t we?”
Yes. Of course we were. We were right. So everyone told us. We were best friends, soul mates. We were the ones expected to be married as soon as we left school. Only to each other; not to other people.
The return of the familiar throbbing in my temples didn’t startle me any more. Just a brief tensing of my shoulders and I was pretty sure Chris didn’t notice it.
“I love you.” These were the only words I could summon. I didn’t know if they made up for anything, covered anything. But I mean them. Really.
From Chris’ heavy sigh as he released my hands and rubbed his hands firmly up and down my arms I could imagine his slight frown, even though his cheek was flat against my hair. I kind of thought for a second he wasn’t going to say it back. That would be a first. The very thought of that made my stomach churn.
“I love you too.” He was Chris. He wouldn’t do that to me. “Always.”
For the first time since I’d started keeping things from Chris I could put a name to the ugly, churning feeling in my gut.
I was disappointed in myself.
A.N. Sorry for the long wait on the update! I had a mishap pasting... and it told me my chapter was too long so I therefore made the assumption that the rules had changed and panicked that all my to-be-posted chapters were too long so fussed about with that and dsliked cutting them and then realised I was wrong and they were fine before. Sigh. Urgh. All good.
Anyway I hope you liked it! Although not a lot happened, the next chap involves some revelio-ing on Roxy's behalf. Exciting!
I' love to hear what you think! Please leave a review!
Thanks for reading
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