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  “Callum dumped me.”



 

“You’re kidding, right?”



 

Freya shakes her head, her long, black hair cascading down, pulling free from the messy ponytail she’d hurriedly pulled it into. It’s dead straight, something you can’t achieve even with a straightener in hand. You’ve always been jealous of her hair -her hair’s a silken waterfall, compared to your dirty blond curls, with their tendency to turn into rat tails.



 

“Not kidding. He told me that ‘I’m not cute enough for him’. What’s that even meant to mean? Is it, like, piggytails-with-bows cute, or sexy cute?” You shake your head in disbelief - there is no way that Freya isn’t cute. She’s got that pink pout, smooth tan skin that somehow never gets a single spot, gleaming eyes - almond in shape and colour - and to top it off, she’s skinny as a rail, with the beginnings of abs on her flat, flat stomach. You’ve seen pictures of her mother, Cho Chang, when she was the same age as Freya and you were now, but Merlin, Freya is twice as hot. But there’s no way you’re telling her that, no, you’ve got your secrets, and you work hard to keep them, like the Hufflepuff you are.



 

Oblivious to your inner monologue, Freya continues with a wave of her fork. “Anyway, he’s off to find someone hotter or cuter or whatever, because apparently I’m not good looking enough for him to be seen with anymore.”



 

“That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereals based on colour instead of taste.” Freya gives you the ‘I know, right?’ look, and takes a bite of her pancakes, liberally covered in healthy berries and a bit of cream. You, on the other hand, have a plate full of bacon, eggs, and toast, a stark contrast to Freya’s breakfast.



 

“I never really liked breakfast cereals anyway. They get all dusty and crunchy and...yeah, I’m blabbering, I know. I’m just...trying to distract myself, you know?” Yeah, you know. You know all too well. It’s a technique you used to use, but now you tend to clam up, or make jokes, try and divert the attention. It’s worked so far, too.



 

“No, keep doing it, you don’t want to waste any time thinking about him. He’s not worth it.” Freya cracks a smile, her dimples starting to show. Only a full, beaming smile would get those dimples to show fully, but she handed them out to everyone at every opportunity. She never seemed to run out of them, strangely enough - you could barely manage a smile for her, let alone complete strangers.



 

“Yeah, you’re right. God, he’s a dick.” Freya finishes off her pancakes, biting into them delicately. You scoff down the rest of your food, wiping hastily at your mouth with a napkin, getting off the bacon grease and egg yolk. “Anyway, we better get to class. Herbology first, right?” You nod, almost getting your hair in a pitcher of orange juice. Freya smiles, and stands up, grabbing her books from beside her. You grab yours as well - you always take them to breakfast when you have Herbology first, otherwise you’d never make it on time - and you leave the Great Hall together.



 

You notice the stares that Freya earns, as always. She gets stares for a number of reasons - one, she’s the daughter of one of Ravenclaw’s best Seekers, two, she’s gorgeous, and three, she’s the Slytherin Beater, the best in decades. You’re lucky enough to be just in her shadow, to be her friend, and to be able to be around the glorious radiance she put out.



 

“Hey, you’re awfully quiet. What’s up?” You start, head jerking up to meet Freya’s wide, concerned eyes. She gives you an encouraging smile, and you almost come clean right then and there, to hell with the consequences. Then, logic catches up with your frantic heart and brain, reminding you of what those consequences were.



 

“I’m fine. Just trying to remember if I did the Potions homework.” Freya nods, satisfied, and looks away. You breathe a sigh of relief - your secret is safe, at least for now, as long as she doesn’t try and pursue it any further.



 

This is how you live out your days now, a mix of luck, distraction, subterfuge and hoping that nobody asks too much. It’s not exactly fun, but it’s the extent you have to go to. Nobody can know. Not until you tell her.



 

You’ve been waiting a year to pluck up the courage, but it’s never happened. There’s a reason why you’re not in Gryffindor.



 

You quickly reach the greenhouses, where Professor Longbottom is waiting for you and rest of the sixth years. He’s in his element, down there, surrounded by greenery. You envy him that - you haven’t quite found your element yet, so you remain slightly uncomfortable no matter where you go and what you do.



 

“Class, class, come in, put on your gloves.” The class files in, including you and Freya. You slide on your dragonskin gloves as you enter, flexing your fingers as you do. You notice the others who are in their element here, outgoing, Slytherin Daphne Williams, and Hugo Weasley, the quiet Ravenclaw. To be honest, you took this class because it was the least repulsive class, and because Freya was in it.



 

You stare at the plant in front of you. Merlin, this isn’t worth your attention. You have a million other things you’d rather be doing right now.



 

“Today, you’ll be studying the Snargaluff plant, and attempting to extract pods from it. This can be...interesting. I suggest you pair up, or go in groups of three.” Freya looks at you, smiling. It’s kind of given that you’ll go together -you’re sort of an inseparable pair, much to your mixed delight and despair.



 

“Can I go with, um, with you guys?” Hugo, all skinny, redheaded and freckly, is practically shaking in front of you. Freya gives him a reassuring smile, beaming and broad, which manages to get an answering smile.



 

“Sure thing. You might have to try and get the pods, though, we’re not the best at this.” Hugo’s eyes light up at that - like you said, he’s in his element - and he nods eagerly. You arm yourself with secateurs, and so does Freya, who has tied back her hair in a tight bun to avoid having it torn out. It definitely looks good on her, with little wispy bits curling in front of her ears.



 

She catches you staring, and you look away hurriedly. You think you might be blushing, and sure enough, when you press your hand to your cheek, it is warm.



 

Hugo prods at the plant, and it awakens, vines circling like a kraken. It lunges for you, but you whack it away with a swift movement of the secateurs. Freya is defending herself against a few tentacle-vines, snipping away efficiently. Hugo has his arm plunged into the heart of the plant, trying to get the seed pods.



 

“Seriously, are you okay?” Freya is almost glaring at you, insistent and stern. You blush even more, much to your chagrin. Hugo is still elbow deep in the plant, but you ignore him.



 

“Yes, I’m fine. Why do you care?” A crease appears between Freya’s eyes, which are shining with hurt and concern.



 

“Why do I care? Because you’re my friend? Because I care about you? Because you look like you’re about to cry whenever I look at you?” Every word, well-meant as it is, just cuts you deeper, and brings more pain to the surface, flowing out in waves of red, red anger.



 

“Well, sometimes you seem more like my mother than my friend, Freya. You always seem to be rushing me about, telling me what to do and what not to do, and worrying after me. I can handle my own problems!” Hugo makes a slightly strangled noise, but we both ignore him. Professor Longbottom is looking more and more worried, but you ignore that too.



 

“That’s because you’re always so closed up! You hide from the world, and I’m trying to help you break out of the shell you’ve made. Merlin, I’m trying to do you a favour!”



 

“Well, guess what! I don’t need your favours, or your pity, or anything! I’ve never asked for anything from you, ever!” Hugo’s whimpers had turned into shrieks now, and you have to look over. His arm is stuck in the plant, coiled by vines. Freya turns too, and sighs, running over to attack the vines with her secateurs. You stay where you are, still fuming inside. Freya is too, apparently, because while she cuts away at the tentacles, she’s still shouting at you.



 

“You don’t have to ask, I can see it, plain as day! You’re an open book, and you have been since I met you, and right now, you’re suffering, but I don’t know why! Why won’t you tell me?” You snort, blood rushing into your face again, this time from rage rather than embarrassment.



 

“Oh, yeah, like that’d solve my problems. Trust me, telling you would just make things worse!”



 

“You can’t know that! You can’t possibly know that!”



 

“Really? Trust me, I know that. I know it all too well, Freya. I have known that since-aah!” A vine seizes your ponytail, and you scream, hitting it with the handle of your garden equipment. Freya lunges, secateurs at the ready, and chops off the vines. They drop to the ground with a thud...and you feel something brush the nape of my neck.



 

You reach up and look down at the floor at the same time. Your hands brush the feathery ends of your hair as your eyes stop dead, staring down.



 

There, in a tangle of severed vines, is a dirty blond, curly ponytail. Yours, to be specific. Freya stares at it in horror, before looking back at you. You can feel tears welling up in your eyes, and you take a hasty step back.



 

“I’m...I’m so...” You shake your head, and Freya stops talking. Her eyes are full of guilt, and that’s the last thing you wanted to see right now. You turn hastily and run out of the room, half blinded by the tears streaming down your cheeks.



 

You bolt back to the castle like a startled horse, ignoring the startled looks you’re earning from students and teachers alike. Nobody tries to stop you, though - they recognise the beginning of a breakdown when they see it. You scramble your way through the corridors, eventually finding yourself at the entrance to your common room. You tap out the rhythm, familiar to you as breathing by now, and scramble through the passageway on hands and knees. You come out in the familiar warm, earthy surroundings of the common room. Usually, the sight would have made you smile - today, you can’t imagine smiling. You make your way, a little slower this time, to your dorm room, with its four-poster, yellow curtained bed, and slump down onto it, face burying into your pillow.



 

You start crying then, sobbing for every day you’ve had to keep your secret, for every moment that you came close to telling Freya but decided against it, for every painful stab that her imagined words have caused in you. You cry for everything you’ve missed out on. You cry just for the sake of crying, to feel the salty droplets on your face.



 

Finally, the tears stop, and you roll over, facing the canopy of your bed. You start to feel a little better, or at least, you tell yourself that you are. Your life is just an elaborate lie, to yourself, and to everyone else.



 

There is a knock on your door. You ignore it. You suspect it is your roommate, Yvette. She has a tendency to mother you, and this is a perfect opportunity for her to do just that, in her eyes. In yours, however, it is not a good time - in fact, it is never a good time to be mothered. Instead, you just stare up at the canopy, noticing a small tear in the left corner. You should really repair it. You’ve never noticed it before - did you make it, or did a previous occupant make it?



 

There is another knock at the door. You ignore it again. Screw whoever that is, you’re having an emotional moment. They can wait.



 

The knocking stops. And immediately starts again. You groan and roll out of bed, feeling your newly-shortened hair whirling around your face. You stumble to the door, rubbing at your cheeks, and open it, a thousand complaints at the ready.



 

They all disappear the moment you see who it is. Freya.



 

“How did you get in?” She smirks a little, a rebellious spark ablaze in her eyes.



 

“I watched someone else get in. Slytherin, remember?” You can’t help but smile a little, barely a twitch of the corners of your mouth, but Freya still manages to spot it. She smiles in return, and you once again envy her ability to muster a genuine smile at any time. Your face moves back to a blank, almost sad expression, and you stare at her, remembering the tear tracks that are probably below your eyes.



 

“Why are you here?” Her grin fades a little, then becomes a stubborn line, filled with determination. Freya reaches around to the back of her head, pulling around her ponytail.



 

“Mostly to do this.” She pulls a pair of scissors out of her pocket and with a loud snip, her ponytail falls, a fall of silken raven tresses, drifting down to lie on the ground behind her. You gape in horror, eyes moving from her hair on the floor to her face and back again.



 

“You...what? Why would...what?” You can’t get a sentence out, can barely close your mouth to form the words. Freya sighs, and pushes past you into your dorm, sitting down on a random bed. You shake your head, and go to join her, sitting on your bed - she’s not leaving until you humour her.



 

“I figured we could both rock the short hair. I mean, it was my fault you got that haircut, anyway, and I figured I should do something to make up for it. This doesn’t really fix it, but at least everyone won’t just be staring at you now.” You look down at the ground to hide your face, or more specifically, the blush that was currently staining your cheeks a bright shade of pink.



 

“Thanks, I think. I just...you shouldn’t have done it. For me, that is.”



 

“Why not?” You look up, seeing the confusion and annoyance in Freya’s eyes, noticing the crease between her brows, the crease that shouldn’t be there.



 

“Well...ugh. I don’t know. But you shouldn’t have.” Freya rolls her eyes and moves over to my bed, sitting next to me, close enough that our legs almost touch. I try and move subtly away, but she just moves closer.



 

“I am your friend. That means I do things for you, whether it’s let you copy my homework or get the same accidental haircut that you got. It’s what friends do. Hell, if you decided to move countries in the middle of the night, I’d probably follow you.” You swallow, suddenly choked up. Freya puts her hand over yours, and you feel your heart start to race. It’s a wonder that she can’t hear it, the way it’s banging against your ribcage.



 

“Thanks.” You’re about to say something more, although you’re not quite sure what, but the words stop dead just behind your lips. You glance at Freya, who’s giving you this look, a look you can’t put into words.



 

“Are you okay?” You freeze for a second, then sigh quietly. You feel something pressing up against your throat - it might be your heart - and then, suddenly, it bursts out.



 

“No, I’m not.” Freya sighs, sympathy alight in her eyes.



 

“Do you want to talk about it?” Once again, you go still for a second. You open your mouth to say, “not really”, but instead, what spills out is...



 

“I’m...I’m a lesbian.” The word hangs in the air for a second, and you stare ahead, registering what you’ve said a moment after it was too late to take it back. Freya’s eyebrows shoot up, and her eyes widen. She’s as speechless as you are, and you sit like that for a bit, in awkward and complete silence.



 

“I...I can’t believe it.” To my surprise, Freya starts to laugh, hands flying to her mouth and sides shaking. You swallow hard, waiting out her fit of laughter - she must be hysterical, you guess - and then meeting her eyes again.



 

“I understand if you don’t want to be friends now.” Freya’s smile drops, and her eyebrows drop down, complete and utter confusion dominating her face.



 

“What?”



 

“Wait, what?” Freya shakes her head, forehead still creased in a frown.



 

“No, no, I do want to be friends. I mean, kind of. I don’t think less of you because you’re a lesbian, if that’s what you’re worried about. Not at all. Actually, it’s good.” This time, it’s you who’s frowning. Freya’s blushing a little, and so are you - in fact, your face is burning up, heat pulsing out of your flushed skin.



 

“How...what? How is it good?” She must have misunderstood, or you haven’t spelled it out clearly enough.



 

“Well...God, I don’t know how to say this, honestly. But yeah, it’s pretty good.” You’re gobsmacked, to put it lightly.



 

“I...but I...”



 

“But what? You’re gay. It’s not a problem. I’m not going to go screaming through the corridors or anything. And it sucks, because you’re probably going to have to put up with a lot of bullshit because of it, but it’s still good.” You’re staring now, basically gawking at Freya. She raises an eyebrow, almost on the verge of laughing, but there’s a serious look in her eyes. “What, did you expect me to hate you because you were gay? Not everyone is homophobic.”



 

“I...wow.” Freya giggles, then turns deadly serious again. She presses her lips together, as if mustering some sort of courage, and blows out a breath forcefully.



 

“But yeah, it’s good. Because I have a little coming out to do myself.”



 

Your insides do a flip. Then a somersault, and a whole goddamn gymnastics routine, as Freya purses her lips again, and then speaks.



 

“I’m asexual.”



 

No.



 

“That’s why Callum broke up with me. He wanted sex, and...I couldn’t deliver.”



 

“Huh.” You sound deadpan, so you try for a reassuring smile, but it falls flat as well. Freya doesn’t seem to notice, though, and she smiles back.



 

“No, it’s all good. I mean, if he’s dumping me over my sexuality, I don’t really want him as a boyfriend. I’ve already moved on.” She goes to flick her hair off her shoulder, realises it’s not there anymore, and grins sheepishly. “But yeah. I’ve said my piece, you’ve said yours, do you want to come to lunch now?”



 

“It’s lunch?”



 

“Yeah, has been for about....ten minutes.” You nod, mind and stomach still twisting painfully. Freya grabs your hand and tugs you, towards the door. She stops then, and spins around.



 

“Victoire.”



 

“Yeah?”



 

“I’m not blind, you know.” Every thought process stops, and you stare blankly at your friend. She sighs, and puts a hand on your cheek. “I know you like me. Okay?”



 

You swallow hard. Then, very slowly, you nod, a gargantuan effort.



 

“How long have you known?”



 

“A few months. You always clam up or make jokes whenever you see me, or touch me, and you blush a lot, so that’s when I knew.”



 

“Oh.” Freya smiles slightly, and leans forward. She steps up on tiptoes slightly, so she’s level with your face.



 

“I should probably confess. I may be asexual, but I’m biromantic.”



 

And she presses her lips to yours, in an explosion of strawberry lip gloss and warmth and rightness. You move your hands to her neck, feel her arms around your waist, her warm breath against your lips and chin.



 

It’s over so soon, but those glorious few seconds feel like an eternity. Freya moves back, lips curved, eyes shining. She tugs at your hand again, and you step forward, in a daze, mind still spinning with a tornado of colour and light, a beautiful, destructive maelstrom.



 

“Holy shit.” Freya laughs, her eyes twinkling.



 

“C’mon, starstruck, there’s food waiting. Or do I have to make you?”



 

“You might have to make me.” Freya raises an elegant eyebrow, moving a little closer again.



 

“Is that a challenge?” You shrug, trying to appear nonchalant.



 

“It might be.” Freya sighs, and looks around, a sly grin appearing on her lips.



 

“Or we could just stay here, you know.” You can’t help but smile in return, heart thumping away crazily.



 

“I’d like that.”



 

“So would I.”




 







DISCLAIMER NOTICE: The statement about cereal that Victoire says is a John Green quote, from Paper Towns, on page 37. I do not own Paper Towns.

Hello all! It's been....ages since I last wrote fanfiction. Wow. Um, here's a challenge one-shot to make up for it?




Sorry guys. BUT HERE IT IS.
I miiiiiight have a bit more of The Redheaded Clan soon as well, but no promises. Not in the next two weeks, but maybe in the next month. So, see you then maybe!
Cheers, Phoenix Quill

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