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It's been three days since our mistake, and so far he's managed to pretend pretty well that it never happened. I mean, he winks at me when no one else is looking, but for Potter, that's a marked improvement.

 

I haven't breathed a word to anyone, and I'm hoping Potter has managed to keep the single biggest thing to ever happen to him from his friends. It would be unbearable if they knew. Maybe he'd never get to live it down either.

 

I'm taking up an entire corner of the common room as I work diligently on my Transfiguration essay. It's not so much that I find the coursework difficult, as I hate writing essays and it always takes me a million years. Two million years when Potter keeps looking over at me and staring. It's really distracting and even years of dealing with it doesn't make it any easier to ignore.

 

I huff and cross my arms over my chest, the quill still in my fist. I give him my most menacing glare and he quickly looks away, back to his cronies. I hope if they're planning something that it has nothing to do with me, because I swear to kill them this time if it does.

 

When Potter doesn't look back after a moment, I go back to struggling with another essay. It's almost the end of November, and the thought of an entire winter and spring filled with essays makes me want to scream in frustration.

 

I hope the other students understand I'm not the top of the class for no work. Merlin, I hate essays.

 

I dig in once more, but I only get a few inches in before I can feel eyes on me again. I raise my head to glare at Potter, but I find it's Black and he's incredibly close to me. I give him a weird look and turn around slowly, my back to his face. I hope he gets the message.

 

Black leans over my shoulder, peering down at my work. I point my wand at his nose and whisper menacingly, "Get out of my face." He pulls back and I continue to work on my essay. Have I mentioned that I really hate being disturbed when I'm working? It makes me an evil person.

 

"Prongs, with her fiery temper, you'd have a great dynamic in bed!"

 

I'm up and facing him faster than I know what's happening. I throw the first spell that comes to my mind, and his hair begins to grow and turn blue. He has no idea what he's just said, and I'm aware of that, but I still want to kill him. How wildly inappropriate that was!

 

Potter has his wand pointed at Black, too, and I notice that his face is changing, looking suspiciously like a weasel. I don't take time to understand what's going on, but I stomp out of the common room, leaving all of my work behind.

 

I haven't a clue where I'm going, but anything is better than being in the common room with those two buffoons. I sigh, slow down a bit, and checking my surroundings. I'm in the Charms corridor, again. I have this weird fascination with this corridor, and I always come here when I'm upset.

 

So that's news; I'm upset.

 

I sigh and sit down on one of the window sills. Damn that Black. He can't ever just leave well enough alone and shut his bloody gob. Potter and I were managing, although I admit it was barely. He didn't have to stick his nose into this, not after all of the shit I went through trying to cover up our escapade.

 

I lean against the cool stone and take in the view from the window. This is my seventh year at this castle and I still find it all breathtaking. Having grown up with the notion of magic as a fairy tale, I hardly can believe in now it's all real.

 

If only some of it wasn't.

 

It'd be nice if I hadn't drunkenly slept with two different boys who, just my luck, are best friends, and one has to permanently remain a secret. It would be even better if one of those boys wasn't infatuated with me.

 

What had I done in a previous life to deserve this mess?

 

I curl up on the sill, folding my arms over my knees. It's safer to be here when I'm pulled as tight as a string. I'm less likely to get hurt, and maybe I can contain the hurt I already feel.

 

I don't understand why this hurts, I really don't. Maybe it's the notion that once you sleep with two different people, you automatically turn into a slut. No, that's not it. Both of those are fairly secret, and I think it takes the entire world knowing before you have that reputation.

 

It's not even the taint on my reputation that could upset me. In fact, it'd be good for me if the school didn't assume I was so bloody perfect. I don't know where the notion I needed to be perfect came from, but once it arrived, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. And the truth is, the only students who remain that know of my drinking binge Fifth Year are Gryffindor Seventh Years; the younger students won't have heard of it, because Gryffindor doesn't really have spiteful people who spread nasty rumors. We're kind of a close-knit year; minus me and Potter, of course.

 

I lean my head back and close my eyes, taking slow deep breaths. I'm not so upset anymore. Mostly I'm just frustrated, primarily at myself for my handling of the situation. What kind of uproar have I ensured this time around?

 

My redheaded temper always gets the better of me. I try to prove that stereotype wrong, but in the end, I explode the entire situation. I never manage to keep calm.

 

I hear footsteps now. They're getting louder. They stop for a second, and then they continue. They're heavier than any of the girls' in my dormitory; please don't be Potter. I don't open my eyes when they approach, on the off chance the person isn't looking for me.

 

Who am I kidding? It's late evening, and no one I know comes here at this time except me.

 

"Hey."

 

"Hi," I whisper back. I open my eyes as Black sits down opposite me.

 

"You seem pretty upset."

 

I sigh. I hate how, since we accidentally slept together, this kid can read me. If he could before, he wasn't very good at interpreting it. Now he always knows.

 

It's weird that we're even sort of friends. Black and I have had a weird relationship ever since we drunkenly slept together. I'm able to be very open and honest with him, and I haven't figured out why. I still don't like him, but I trust him.

 

"I am," I reply, stretching my legs out. I brush some hair out of my face and look up to him. He gives me his half-smile and we're oddly comfortable here.

 

"It's about what I said." It's not a question, he already knows the truth. He just doesn't know why. I'm not sure I feel comfortable telling him the truth.

 

"It is," I agree, hoping this may deter him for a moment.

 

"Why?" Why can't he just take the bait and ask me something else?







I sigh and fold my arms across my body in an attempt to protect myself. I bite my lip before saying, "It's embarrassing."

 

"More embarrassing than what happened with us?" he asks, his smile light and teasing. Despite our past, he teases me like I'm his younger sister. Which, when you think about it, is really creepy.

 

I smile back. "More embarrassing."

 

"Wow, this must be bad. Were you caught in a broom cupboard with Peter?" He gets what he wants; I laugh.

 

"No, not quite that bad."

 

"Did you tell Pr—uh, James about what happened?"

 

I look at him like he's crazy. "Of course not. I'd like to live, thank you."

 

I don't elaborate anymore. I don't actually want to say it aloud. If I open my mouth and tell someone else, it comes irrevocably real, and I don't know if I can live with that. This is Potter; we don't get along. It's a rule of Hogwarts, it's written in the fine print. I can't imagine what it could be like without that safety and stability. No matter how each year changes, I always know Potter and I won't get along. It's safe, it makes sense.

 

Sleeping with him changed something in that program for me. It took that to open my eyes, and I see he's actually a good guy. I mean, I've been tolerating him and working with him all term, but now I see that he's a good person. He's not pretending, he's not just trying to win me over. He is genuinely a good person, and I don't think I am.

 

As I'm running through my inner turmoil, Black finally comes to his senses and figures out what happened. I'm honestly surprised it took him so long.

 

"Oh, Merlin," he says, his eyes wide. I nod in distasteful agreement.

 

"You and Prongs…" But he has the same problem I do; he can't get the words out.

 

I don't intend to open my mouth, and speaking was not on the agenda. But suddenly I find myself say, "I slept with Potter."

 

I gasp and cover my mouth. I admitted it aloud. Great job, Evans, now it's a fact you have to live with. As he stares at me in shock, a funny thought occurs to me and I chuckle.

 

"What? What could possibly be funny about this?" Black demands.

 

"I'm halfway through your group," I tell him, hoping he understands what I'm saying through my giggles. I'm not sure why this is so funny, but I'm laughing as though it's the most hilarious thing I've ever heard.

 

Black laughs with me, so it mustn't be too terrible of a joke.

 

"Evans, I never thought you'd come so far," he jokes, and I laugh even harder. I nod, trying to show that I agree with him.

 

Maybe it's okay to let someone else know. Maybe now that there's another person to finally comprehend all of the looks, I won't feel so trapped and alone. If nothing else, now there's someone to laugh at the absurdity of it all with.
 

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