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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.



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.



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.




“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 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!



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