Disclaimer: I don’t own anything related to Harry Potter... or anything else that I might mention, like silly Lord of the Rings references or things of that nature. Sadly. Except the stuff I did come up with, so don’t steal them. Harrumph.


Chapter Four

Of Window Panes and Finley Bishop


“Fifty six... fifty seven... fifty eight... oh, bullocks.”

All right, that’s it.


Seriously, I can only count the number of panes in the window across from my bed three or four more times before I’m going to have to start resisting the urge to blow shit up.

Not that I’d be able to without magic, but still. The thought’s there. Tempting me. Waving around a juicy red delicious, or whatever.


Don’t muggle hospitals have, like, entertainment for the patients who are losing their minds? Like, tellys or whatever? And all I have are windowpanes.

I should really speak to Strudwick about that.

As I’m sure you can tell, this stint in the Hospital Wing isn’t helping me that much. At all. I swear, if I have to put up with one more all-knowing chuckle from Strudwick whenever Potter checks up on me, I’m going to hex her into tomorrow. Or eat her. I’m hungry. It’s actually a miracle I haven’t eaten my headboard yet; if it wasn’t for Potter sneaking in chicken and pie all the time, I probably would have done so a long time ago.

Or maybe I would have just eaten my toe. I can sacrifice one of those. Probably my pinkie toe on my left foot. That one just looks weird.


I still haven’t gotten used to the way the Hospital Wing smells. Like someone used too many Scourgifys, or something. Suspiciously clean. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if a Dementor swooped by to party it up with Strudwick in her office, either. I bet that heartless woman and the Nazgûl-doppelganger would get along splendidly over some tea and crumpets.



I would totally sneak my way out of here, too, but Potter keeps visiting me EVERY FREAKING SECOND, so I have to pretend like I’m not about to drop-kick Strudwick and make a break for it.

At least all my friends have taken it upon themselves to visit me whenever possible, which spares me at least a bit of the doom and gloom. Dom brought me a change of clothes so I’m not stuck in my week-old eau-de-throw-up garb anymore; Briar brought down my pillows and comforter from my bed in the Tower; Adam snuck in a stash of licorice wands that I keep under said pillows at all times; Ben gave me a well-meaning lecture on being healthy and some really interesting book about life in the Middle Ages; the Head Boy, Hufflepuff Stephen Nichols, came to discuss Halloween plans with me; and my Quidditch team just gave me a headache.

But an appreciative headache.

Still, I’m going crazy in here. I’ve been restricted from studying as much as I normally would have -- now, for Muggle Studies, I can only read about Dolly the Sheep via my textbook, not in depth at all. And my muscles are probably going to get used to lazing about like some hedonistic queen, and I don’t even want to imagine how my Quidditch team’s practices are going without me there to boss everyone around. And I don’t like not being able to go on today’s Hogsmeade visit, or having to wait for others to visit me, or not being able to ask for their company. For being grateful even when Potter comes around.

I just want to leave.

I frowned and shifted my position in bed, squeezing my pillow (not the one with the licorice wands under it, of course) to my chest. I’ve been stuck in here so long already; three full days of strictly regimented sleep-and-eat patterns. It’s a bit ridiculous. I’m not that unhealthy, Merlin.

Well, at least I’ve been able to shower in the Hospital Wing bathroom now, so I’m not quite so greasy and disgusting as I was when I first woke up. Still, they’re treating me like a child. I’m fully capable of taking care of myself. I do it every time I’m at home for the holidays -- now’s no different.

My sulking was cut short by the Hospital Wing doors flying open, an exuberant mess of blond curls careening towards me.

Oh, boy.

“LOLA! OhmyMerlinohmyMerlinohmyMerlin. You’ll never guess what just happened.” Dom beamed down at me, twirling with joy and collapsing next to me on my bed.

I leaned back warily. “Uh...”

Briar cleared her throat, and I only then noticed that she’d followed Dom into the room.

“Care to tell me who injected this one with rainbows?” I asked, grinning over at her, but -- holy fiddlesticks.

Briar was flushed. Prettily. And she couldn’t keep from smiling. And fiddling with her hair.

Considering Briar normally looked about as cheerful as a Death Eater on the day the-boy-who-lived lived, I was a little terrified. There were only two plausible conclusions: either Briar had finally discovered her calling as the next Dark Lady and would soon be moving to a dark, creepy stronghold somewhere in the Himalayas to live off of protein shakes, falcon eggs, and rocks; or Finley Bishop was in town.

Finley Bishop was Briar’s old neighbor who’d graduated from Hogwarts three years ago. Her best friend. More specifically, her manlove. The only person she’d ever make googly eyes to.

Also, the only person who could break her heart.

Not that I’d ever mention it to her.

But really, Briar had been in love with Finley for.. jeez, who knows how long. Since she was a little kid. He knew her when she was still a gross, creepy-looking wrinkly newborn, so maybe even since she first set eyes on him. She loved him when he taught her how to play Quidditch. She loved him when she got sorted into Ravenclaw as a first year, just like him. She loved him when he started going out with Felicia Harris in his fifth year. She loved him when they broke up in his sixth. She loved him when he graduated. She loved him when he moved away to Cannes, trying to establish some sort of wizarding film following.

And she still loved him.

A bit pathetic if you ask me, but.. she didn’t. And she wouldn’t. Because she knew.

I just want her to be happy.

“Finley owled Briar a letter at breakfast. He wants to come and visit her in Hogsmeade today. Can you believe it? He says he has ‘news’ for her that just ‘can’t wait’.” She sighed blissfully. “I think he’s finally coming to confess his love for her! It’s so obvious!”

Well, I totally called that one.

Briar stared at her feet, flushing more. She looked so.. so.. happy. “Probably not,” she said, shrugging casually, but even the village idiot (re: Potter) would be able to tell that she’d been convinced Dom was right.

So I couldn’t say what I thought, which was: he was really going to break her heart this time.

Instead, I said, “Wow! Congrats, Bri. Maybe all these years of pining are going to really pay themselves off, you stud muffin.” The words sounded false to me, but Briar and Dom seemed to buy it.

“Shut up,” Briar mumbled, now grinning. The smile seemed to grow more and more with each second.

My heart twisted. If you’re going to tell someone you love them, you don’t have ‘news’. You have news when you’re marrying someone, or expecting a child if you’re already married. Right?

Maybe I’ve read too many books. Maybe that’s it.

I hoped I was wrong. That he did love her. It was possible, right? That one day while he was in Cannes, he had an epiphany. Maybe he was writing her a letter when he realized. Yeah, that sounds about right. He was writing her a letter, and he noticed that his life was empty without her in it. And he wanted to tell her. To tell her fast, before he lost his courage to tell this girl he loved her, this drop-dead gorgeous girl who probably looked at him like an older brother.

Yeah. Maybe that’s it.

“Well, what are you waiting here for? Hurry up and go get ready, you bint. It’s already what, ten-ish? When are you supposed to meet him?” I forced a smile on my face.

Briar bit her lip, probably embarrassed that she was obviously over the moon. “Uh, he said we’d meet up at twelve at Zonkos and.. go from there.”

“Ooh, your first date together. Very nice, snagging the older man.” I waggled my eyebrows, ignoring the part of my brain that noticed that Potter might have been wearing off on me.

She yanked my pillow from my arms and hit me with it.

“Hey! I’m wounded, a cripple. You can’t hurt your captain!” I protested, collapsing dramatically onto my other pillows.

Briar rolled her eyes and Dom tickled my foot. “You’re an idiot,” Dom said sweetly, Veela lovableness in full force. “But think about it this way, Bri: if you two do get together, we’ll have two things to celebrate tonight! Your new relationship and Lola’s birthday! It’ll be the party of the century.”

My birthday? Wh... oh.

Well, shit. I guess tomorrow is my eighteenth birthday. I’d kind of lost track of time, holed up in here.

I better be out of the Hospital Wing by tonight, Strudwick be damned.

“Whatever, you two, get out of here. The longer you stay, the more likely it is that you’ll run into a Dementor, and Strudwick only knows what kind of damage that’ll do to your complexion. So go meet your man.” It killed me that I was shooing her out the door. Maybe to get her heart broken. But what else could I do? I was her best friend. I had to be there for her, to encourage her happiness. I couldn’t let my own cynical instinct get in the way.

“You’re about as persuasive as a rock,” Briar snorted, but she was looking almost.. shy. Sweet. As far as Dark Ladies go, anyway. “But... I’ll see you later.” She smiled hopefully at me, Dom dragged her out of the room, and they were gone.

I was going to bludgerfuck Finley if he hurt her.

Which he wouldn’t, because I had no reasonable proof to think so. Right? Right.

I leaned back into my pillows, feeling more unsettled than ever. Maybe an hour passed, maybe ten minutes. I don’t really know. I just felt like there was a huge boulder weighing down on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. Something just felt.. wrong. I was so worried for her, and it was stupid because I had no reason to think that he was going to say something that would crush her. I just... felt it. Which, of course, didn’t mean anything. His news could have been as simple as telling her that someone finally bought the rights to one of his films. Something like that. Something safe. But I just...

“What’s eating you up inside, Cartwright?”


Potter was frowning at me from only a few feet away, far closer than I would have anticipated, and I instinctively clutched the sides of my bed for balance-related purposes. “Bloody hell, Potter! Don’t sneak up on me like that.” Or I’d fall out of bed, and that would just be embarrassing. “It doesn’t exactly help me ‘heal peacefully.’”

He just sat down on the edge of my bed, the same spot Dom had vacated earlier, and stared at me.

“What’s wrong? You looked like you were about to cry earlier. This place can’t be that stifling.” He ran his hand through his hair as per usual, dark eyes boring into mine.

His concern irritated me, and I looked away.

“You’d be surprised,” I grinned, trying to change the topic. What would distract him? Something, something... “Strudwick thinks we’re dating. She’s become totally insufferable, always making jokes. Worse than you, even.”

Well, that definitely did the trick. His eyes widened and a dark blush conquered his freckled face. I smirked, pleased I’d broken his usual poker face.

But alas, he recovered quickly. Again. Damn it. “Are you sure that you’re not just imagining her comments to fulfil some sort of fantasy you have about me?” He smirked back at me, and mine dropped immediately. “I am rather fit.”

I kicked him, my foot still underneath the bed sheets. “In your dreams, barmcake.”

He smiled at me, his eyes crinkly. “Nice try, Cartwright. What’s bothering you?”

I glanced away again. “How’d you know something’s bothering me?” My voice was lighter than air.

“You’re easy to read,” he said, shrugging.

But I’m not. Really. I never reveal anything when I don’t want to.

I don’t like that he can see through me so easily.

“It’s just...” I grasped for a subject. “I’m... stressed.” Well, fair enough. “About making up all my classwork.” Also true. “And about the match against Hufflepuff.” Mark another dash in the truth column. “And... it smells funny in here.”


He raised his eyebrows, the corners of his lips quirking up. “It smells funny?”

I felt my cheeks heating up. “Uh... yeah.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, the eloquence of the century.

“Huh,” he answered, eyes not leaving my face.

“Yeah,” I said, pointedly staring at my comforter. There was one small stain on it from a bit of pink nail polish I’d spilled and hadn’t gotten around to cleaning yet.

“Cartwright,” he said again, voice gentle.

“It’s a lovely day outside, isn’t it?”

“Cartwright.” I looked up. His eyes were earnest, staring, seeing.

My will eroded within seconds.

It’s not like I wanted to tell him. I didn’t. But.. I had to tell someone, and he was there, looking like he actually cared, Rowena knows why, and my heart just felt so tight, and... he looked like he cared.

My worries fell forth in a rush. “It’s just that Briar’s been in love with this guy for a long time now -- remember Finley Bishop? -- and he just sent her a letter saying that he has ‘news’ he wants to tell her at Hogsmeade today and Dom and Briar think that he’s going to tell her that he loves her but I just feel really off and I’m worried he’s going to crush her but I don’t know why and I can’t even say anything because I don’t want to hurt her and it’s probably all just in my head anyway and I’m just so, so worried for her.”

I took a breath. Let it out.

I started at my comforter, waiting for him to start laughing.

He didn’t.

“Well, that’s that, then.” He was staring at me seriously.

“What?” That wasn’t the answer I was expecting, to say the least.

He grinned at me then, dimples flashing, eyes bright with mischief. “I’m going to bust you out of here.”


“Wait here. I’ll be back. Draw the curtains around you.”

And he was gone just like that.


Completely confused, I did as he told me. Don’t ask me why. He just.. sounded confident. And.. I was grateful that he hadn’t laughed. It was like he understood, just like that.

I munched absently on a licorice wand, waiting.

“Pssst. Cartwright.” I blinked. Did I just hear.. “Cartwright.” Yeah, definitely just heard my name. Damn, he was fast.

The curtain around my bed lifted a little, and I expected to see Potter’s face grinning down at me. Instead, I saw... absolutely nothing.

Fucking hell.

“What the - ?!” I flew back against my headboard, terrified.

Potter’s head popped out of nowhere, floating in mid-air. “Wotcher, Cartwright.” He was grinning as I’d expected, but there was no way I’d expected to see his, you know, decapitated head, or whatever.

“Oh, bloody hell. Don’t tell me you just died and came back to haunt me. Please, Merlin. Please.” What a horrible existence I’d have. I could already imagine it: Potter sneaking up on me in the shower. Tickling my nose while I slept to make me smack myself in the face. Stealing my knickers and parading them around the Great Hall or during Quidditch matches. Potter, 24/7, bothering me.

Please, please be alive.

He was clearly amused by my reaction, the horrible, horrible man.

“I’m not dead, don’t get your knickers in a twist.” He climbed onto my bed then, letting the curtain fall back to its proper place, and took off.. a silver cloak? And suddenly he was whole and alive and I almost hugged him, I was so relieved.

I settled on stuffing the rest of my licorice wand in my mouth.

“What the fuck is that?” I said once I swallowed, glaring at him. “An invisibility cloak? You’ve got to be kidding me. How’d you get your hands on one of those?” I couldn’t keep the envy from my voice. An invisibility cloak.. oh, boy. That explained a lot.

He winked at me. “Family heirloom.”

I snorted, shaking my head. “I should have known.” Leave it to Harry Potter to have one of those lying around.

“Well, come on -- get under,” he said, lifting up the cloak.

I stared at him.

“You can’t be serious. You want me to get under that thing with you? There’s no room for both of us!”

He rolled his eyes. “Cartwright, you’re worried about your best friend. There’s no way you’re going to sit by and let a chance like this pass you up.”

He was right, but I didn’t want him to know that, so I said, “You don’t know me, Potter. I’m head girl. No way I can just.. just.. bust out of here with your help, of all people’s. I have to set a good example, and if Strudwick thinks I should be in here, I’m staying. Even you dared me to, don’t you remember?”

He said nothing, just looked at me with those all-knowing eyes.

Well, shit.

I didn’t try to lie any further. “Fine. Scoot over.”

He smiled.

You know, to give Potter some credit, it started out pretty well. When we were getting off the bed, at least. I guess because we were squatting and roughly the size of goblins (or of their distant cousins, the hobbits), the cloak covered us better than I’d thought it would have.

Once we stood up, however, it soon became apparent that the invisibility cloak was much, much smaller than I thought it was. That is to say, Potter and I were hunched over. His arms, which were holding up the cloak so we didn’t trip over it, were over my shoulders, his head on my hair.

I swallowed.

This was your grand idea, Potter?” His breath was warm on my neck, and my hair raised.

“Just imagine how Wood and I feel when it’s the two of us stuck under here, not me and you.” His voice sounded strange.

I laughed despite myself.

“You know, why didn’t you think to just walk in here like a normal person? Then only I would have had to been stuck under here, and Strudwick would have thought you were leaving after you realized I’d gone to sleep, or something.” I mumbled, the two of us walking closer and closer to the door.

“Well, that’s why I’m not a Ravenclaw like you are, darling.” I didn’t have to look to know that he was grinning his grin.

“You don’t have to tell me that,” I shot back, amused.

I’ve gotten used to his pet names now, I guess. It takes too much effort to get him to stop, which he never does anyway. I’ve given up.

Tell me I’m going soft and I’ll punch you in the throat.

Don’t think I will?

Try me.

“Okay, now.. We’ve got to open the door slowly, so she doesn’t notice it moving out of the corner of her eye, or something. Can you get it?”

I nodded, reaching out for the door.

It was halfway open when she noticed.

“If you two are trying to sneak out, you’re not very smart about it, are you?”

We froze. I craned my head backwards, trying to catch a glimpse of her from behind Potter, but I couldn’t get a good picture.

“How the fuck does she know?!” I whispered, banging my head back against his chest in frustration.

Potter was silent for a few heartbeats. “Cartwright... you said she thinks we’re dating? I’ve got an idea. Just go with it, okay?”

I didn’t have time to ask him what he meant before he was whirling the cloak off of us, throwing an arm around my shoulder and casting his own megawatt grin in Strudwick’s direction.

She didn’t even have the decency to look surprised.

“Alice, dearest. I see you’ve caught us. You’ve always been clever like that,” Potter began, turning his head to whichever angle would best project his dimples.

Not that I was jealous of them, or anything.

“Mister Potter, may I ask why you’re kidnapping my patient?” ‘Alice’ responded dryly, raising her eyebrows at him.

He smiled affectionately down at me, and I smiled right back. I’m a damn good actress in everyone’s eyes... except Potter’s, maybe, but that didn’t matter right now. “Not kidnapping, Alice, never! But, you see..” He sighed dramatically. “It’s Hogsmeade weekend, and my darling Lola’s been cooped up in here for a week now. Do you think it would be all right if I stole her for a bit today? I promise I’ll have her b--” I elbowed him in the stomach. I did not want to come back.

“Please, Madam Strudwick?” My Head Girl Grin ™ was in full effect, too. Much more charming than Potter’s, if I may say so myself. “I feel a lot better, and you’ve thoroughly convinced me to mind my health so I don’t get stuck back in here again.” I leaned my head against Potter’s shoulder to make it seem like we were... loving.. or some other gag-worthy hippogriff dung, and he kissed the top of my head (though I was so going to castrate him for that one later).

She smiled knowingly, letting out a light sigh. “Well, who am I to get in the way of true love? You two are obviously enamored with each other. I was going to check you out later today, but go, have fun. You’re free at last, Miss Cartwright.” She winked at me, and I flushed.

“Thanks, Alice dear! I’ll never forget your kindness!” Potter shouted as we walked out the door.

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” She chuckled, shaking her head. “Oh, to be young and in love...”

As soon as the door closed behind us, I punched him in the stomach. “That was for touching me in the first place.” I punched him again. “And that was for kissing me.”

He smirked at me, unfazed by my annoyance. “Don’t pretend like you didn’t like it.”

My glare only amused him further. “You’re just lucky your little plan worked, Potter, or you’d be swimming with the Giant Squid right now.”

“I do that all the time, actually,” he answered, and I nearly smacked my head against the wall in exasperation. “He’s a great chap. Listens to all my woes with such understanding, never even complains about it.”

I rolled my eyes again, fighting the smile that was threatening to break out. We started walking towards Hogsmeade, and it felt nice to see a part of the castle that didn’t smell funny or have Dementors skulking about in the corners. Now, if only I wasn’t so worried about Briar, things would be brilliant.

“I give up. You’re incorrigible, Potter.”

He beamed. “My mum tells me that daily, too.”

I cast him a sidelong glance. “And don’t you think that should tell you something about yourself?”

He nodded. “That I’m dashing and devilish.”

I almost choked.

“Right,” I said, laughing. “Keep telling yourself that.”

We were silent for a minute or two. It wasn’t a painful silence; more like we didn’t have anything pressing that needed to be said, and that was okay. It almost unnerved me, how quickly I was getting used to his company. The thought struck with the overwhelming urge to run away, to run away as fast as possible. Or to say something mean and have him start hating me again. But... I didn’t want to. This was nicer than fighting.

Finally, he broke the silence, saying, “Thanks for not making a big deal out of me mentioning my mum.”

We were waiting for a staircase to move its way over to us, so I took the opportunity to survey him, a little confused.

“What do you mean?”

He shrugged, running his hand through his hair. “Most people make a big deal out of who my parents are. Not my cousins, obviously, but.. it’s hard to find someone else who doesn’t start acting differently once I mention them, or starts making comments, or....” He seemed subtly frustrated, and I frowned. It just... it seemed like this was something that honestly bothered him, and I was surprised. When we were younger, I distinctly remember him using who his parents were to his advantage. That things had changed, I hadn’t realized.

“Potter, listen.” I was being serious. I wasn’t planning on getting emotional, or whatever, since... bloody hell, who do you think I am? But I could relate. “I of all people understand that parents... they’re just parents. They don’t make you who you are. You do. You’re yourself. Your parents, for instance, are talented at Quidditch. You’re not. And that’s okay,” I said, grinning at last. He rolled his eyes. “What I mean to say is that.. everyone shits.”

“What?” He laughed once in surprise.

“You heard me. Everyone shits. Your parents go to the bathroom. Albus Dumbledore shit daily. And so did Voldemort, though he probably had his Death Eaters wipe his arse for him. Your parents did some seriously great things, and I respect them a lot, but... in the end, they’re people just like you and me. And they’ve probably made some mistakes as parents. And you’ve probably gotten in fights. And they shit. And that’s normal, because they’re normal.” I shrugged. “So I don’t see why I should think of your parents as different than mine, or Briar’s, or Adam’s. Because in the end, they’re really just parents. And that’s that.”

He was quiet, mulling over what I said for a moment. Then he turned to me, and said, equally seriously, “You’re something else, Cartwright.” His eyes were warm, heavy. They saw too much.

I didn’t like the way they looked at me.

“Not really, dumbarse. Now hurry up and get a move on, or I’ll leave you behind.” I wanted to leave him behind. Things were changing too fast for me to handle. I didn’t like how.. how I’d disliked him so much only a few short weeks ago, and now he’d become... what? A friend? It was too ridiculous to fathom.

But then again, considering I’d been hating him based off of how he’d acted as a child, maybe it wasn’t so ridiculous after all. People do tend to change between the time they’re elven and the time they’re seventeen, or so I’ve heard. And it’s not like I’d really had much of a reason to hate him, anyway. I just.. did. Because he’d tease me, because he was an arrogant arse, only... the rest of my friends had acted that way all the time, too, and I still liked them.

What was the real reason? Why hadn’t we gotten along? He wasn’t that bad of a guy. I couldn’t figure out why. Was I forgetting something? Had I really disliked him for no apparent reason?

It hadn’t occurred to me to ask myself why I felt the way I did. I just.. did.

I’d been a right bitch, hadn’t I?

We were outside now, trekking down the path to Hogsmeade. For a fall day, it was remarkably beautiful -- sunny, cool. The breeze felt like a velvet caress, and I smiled.

It was so nice to be free. I could save the soul-searching for later.

“So, what’s your plan of action, Agent Cartwright?” Potter asked, smiling down at me.

I wrinkled my forehead. “Err... that’s a good question. I hadn’t really thought that far ahead yet. I just know.. I have to be there. In case.”

He nodded. “I know. So how about we make a day of it? Stalking is more fun with company.” He waggled his eyebrows at me.

“I’m sure you know that very well,” I said, laughing.

He preened. “Very true; you’d be horrified if you knew all the times I -- er, well, nevermind.”

I decided to ignore that.

“What time is it?” Briar and Finley were supposed to meet at twelve, I remembered. Zonkos. If it was much past that, I had no idea where they’d be.

“Half past twelve,” he answered, glancing at his magical pocket watch.

“Okay.” I relaxed a little. With any luck, they’d still be there. “Well, Potter. In the mood to buy some products that, under any other circumstances, I’d never let you take back into school?”

He couldn’t wipe the smirk off of his face.

Bloody idiot.

“Come on, Cartwright. Spying awaits,” he beamed, slinging an arm casually around my shoulders as we began the trek down to Zonkos.

It only took him a split-second to stiffen, realizing his mistake.

I don’t like to be touched. Especially by him.

Kind of hard to forget that one, isn’t it?

“Fuck,” he said, wincing. “Uh, sorry --”

I swallowed.

“It’s okay,” I said. “I don’t mind.”

The ensuing silence was deafening.

“Well, it’s not like I’m saying you can pull that whole sneeze-and-grope move, or anything, because I’ll castrate you in a split-second, but, uh, you can -- “ I was about to say ‘touch me,’ but luckily I had the foresight to shoot that one in the arse. “I mean, you don’t have to worry about me going bloody banshee all over you for... being friendly.”


Well, now, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to go jump off the nearest cliff and save myself the embarrassment.

Potter didn’t seem to mind, though. When he looked down at me, his grin was the biggest I’d seen yet. Like he won the lottery. Or a date with Tad Hamilton. Probably the latter.

“Got it,” he said, dimples in full force, grin in place. “I can do friendly.”

For some reason, the way he said that, the way his voice drew out the word smoothly, meaningfully, I felt blood rush to my cheeks.

Yeah, I’m definitely going to regret that one.



A/N: So... this chapter. Eugh. XD It’s been SO long since I updated (I’m sensing a trend here...), so it’s pretty difficult for me to get back into the flow of things and just... get everything right, you know? I wish I could update more frequently, but with classes, work, and having a social life.. fanfiction doesn’t really fit in very often. But I’ll TRY to update far more frequently. Honestly.

Anyway, I take no credit for the AVPS reference. Anyone catch it? *grins* It wasn’t exactly subtle, but I couldn’t help myself. I love me some AVPM. And LotR. And anything else nerdy with an acronym.

BUT I HOPE YOU ALL LIKED THE CHAPTER. Let me know what you thought (even if you didn’t like it, which is totally understandable :x). Favorite quotes are always fun, too. It’s weird to look at my writing through someone else’s eyes. So, please review! They’re the only things that keep me updating.

Thanks, everyone! <33


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