I’m meant to be studying, but my mind can’t seem to stop wandering — strolling, ambling, meandering — past any logical thoughts about wand movements and essays in favor of exploring long-forgotten side streets and overgrown avenues, cobbled together with the fragmented tangents of long ago daydreams.
The Great Hall whispers with the scratching of quills on parchment. If I close my eyes, it could almost sound like the wind sifting through tall grass, turning a hillside into a rippling, golden-brown summer sea. And it’s funny, how something so innocuous as a feathered quill can make me tumble back to another time, to a summer’s day when nothing but sheer boredom could have driven me to pick my holiday-leadened limbs up off the couch and into the garage to stare skeptically at the rusted old bike that’s been in my family longer than I have. But the day was unseasonably warm and I was quite certain that if I spent another second in a place that had four suffocating walls and closed doors and latched windows I’d hitchhike somewhere more exciting if I had to.
And it’s true what they say about riding bikes, my legs had not yet forgotten that age-old rhythm, and I skittered my way down my grandparent’s graveled driveway, out onto the paved street and away. Not very far, really, but certainly far enough — far enough to make that house look like it could maybe fit a doll, but definitely much too small to contain me. And my hair whipped behind me while my legs burned, the sky stretching above me like this endless canopy of blue, and this road I’d known my whole life was looking brand new.
My lungs were aching by the time I saw that meadow bordered by that rundown fence, that field of rippling gold, and I squeezed those ancient brakes to send me lurching off the road. I jumped off my bike and threw it to the ground so quickly the back wheel was still spinning while I climbed over the little fence. The tall grass tickled my legs as I walked and I couldn’t help but think how marvelous it was that I’d found this place, this ocean I could lie down in and never drown. And I did it, the tall grass yielding to my shape as I made myself a part of the landscape, the sun warming my face and my arms. And I felt like I was glowing, like if someone could see right through me they’d find that my veins were pumping liquid gold.
I open my eyes and my gaze drifts upwards to see the enchanted sky is not an endless blue like that one I remember so well, but something dark and turbulent, a silent storm swirling overhead. And though I adore cozy, autumn days, the sounds of quills on parchment has me aching for a gloriously uneventful, sun-baked summer’s afternoon.
It's close to dinner time, and those who don't want to be cooped up in the library or shut off in their common rooms have set up camp at the long house tables in the Great Hall. The atmosphere is light — surely a result from our study loads still maintaining a beginning-of-term levity — and there are scattered conversations, laughter bouncing around the hall, lilting high over head until a stern glance from a professor stifles the mirth, along with the occasional sounds of armies clashing from a few different sets of Wizard's chess. The fires in the brackets along the walls glow brightly, the jugs of pumpkin juice sidled up next to trays of biscuits along the Ravenclaw table stay forever full, and I'm just wondering why anyone would want to study anywhere else on this rain-splattered evening when Jude’s annoyed drawl brings me back down to earth,
“Josie, if you kick me in the shin one more time I think they’ll have to amputate the leg.”
I halt my swinging feet and look across the table at Jude, smiling apologetically, “Oops.”
Jude shakes his head, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips before he looks back down at his parchment, muttering, “Head in the clouds, as usual.”
His words take me aback, and I stare at him as he works. Because it’s not like what he said about me was exactly complimentary, but I can’t help that I feel weirdly flattered anytime anyone makes a definitive statement about me. Like they’ve taken the time to look past the generic whole to see my individual patterns, and I can’t remember the last time I looked at Jude as more than just Jude, to really see him, in all his singular, mismatched, wonderful pieces. This boy whose face I’ve probably looked at more than I’ve seen my own.
So I stare at him — at the way he hunches his shoulders so he can lean unnecessarily far over the table to be above his parchment, like he has to stare directly down at it or else get distracted by what’s happening in his peripheries. And how he’s the only left-handed person I can think of off the top of my head, and how it’s causing his elbow to bump every so often against Rose’s as they scribble furiously next to each other. How Rose doesn’t even notice the occasionally jarring contact because she’s so used to it at this point. And at the way he sucks in his cheeks when he pauses to think, and how he loads his quill up with way too much ink every time, but doesn’t seem to mind the too-bold blotches dotting his parchment. And it’s funny, the longer I watch him the more I can see, like how being in such a loud environment is obviously stressful for him when he’s trying to focus, but he’s here anyway. And I like the way he’s leaning his forehead against his free hand as he writes, his fringe slipping through the cracks of his fingers to stick up at odd angles.
His eyes dart up at me momentarily, and return to me when he finds me staring. Jude’s gaze narrows playfully and his quill pauses, “What?”
I smile, “Nothing.”
“You’re looking at me funny.”
“I’m not looking at you funny.”
His grin is lopsided, “Yes you are, you freak. It’s distracting.”
I huff, but I feel a laugh welling up inside me, “You use too much ink.”
“More ink means I can write for longer stretches! It’s efficient.”
I grin, “Buy a pen and be done with it.”
He’s grinning too, “Buy a heart and stop judging me.”
“Stop being so sensitive.”
“Stop using me as a way to avoid your Runes.”
Pouting playfully, I lightly kick him in the shin, “Runes are boring. Bothering you is fun.”
He kicks me back, “Runes aren’t boring, you just suck at them. Like you do at most things.”
I huff and laugh incredulously, “Don’t be so rude.”
He laughs too, “Don’t be so sensitive.”
I kick him again, “Don’t —“
Rose finally bursts, “Oh my god, shut up.”
Jude and I look at each other, and the way he’s screwed up his face to keep from laughing has me laughing, and me laughing causes him to laugh, and I just can’t believe it’s been so long since I last felt a connection like this to Jude Wood.
Once the laughter has faded into tired grins, I call him an idiot — just for good measure — so he calls me an idiot, and with one last smiling glance at each other we look back down at our respective parchments.
The Great Hall slowly fills with more and more people as the hour gets closer to dinner, the noise increasing in volume and size, and I’m just thinking about how much I’ve actually managed to get done on my Runes when Dom pulls on a lock of my hair as she arrives.
I smile up at her as she slides on to the bench next to me.
She looks around at Rose, Jude and I with all our books and papers spread around us and she scrunches up her face, “Have you lot been studying here this whole time?”
Rose barely glances up, “What else would we be doing?”
“Something fun, I don’t know,” She smiles a self-satisfied smile as she pours herself a glass of pumpkin juice, “I was taking a nap. It was delightful.”
“Good for you,” Rose mumbles, head down, hand scribbling.
Dom frowns over at Rose, trying to catch a look at what she’s writing, “What are you working on over there? I thought you’d finished everything that was due.”
Rose looks up and sighs, her paused quill dripping ink over her elegant scrawl, “Henry and I have decided to gather everyone up before Prefect rounds tonight, as a sort of post-first-weeks check-in. We’re meeting at the top of the marble stairs right after dinner, so I’m just trying to gather my thoughts beforehand.” Groaning, Rose falls over on to Jude’s shoulder, “I hate public speaking.”
Jude absently pats Rose clumsily on the head without looking, continuing to write, “There there, love.”
I try to smile at her bracingly, “You’re wonderful at it! Everyone thinks so, I promise.”
She smiles weakly back, “Thanks, Jose. Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be fine, I just get — so nervous.”
Dom and I nod sympathetically, and Rose is looking a little bit better when Davis, Eloise, and Parker climb onto the benches next to us.
“Hello, dear friends,” Parker says jovially, his grin slipping when he looks over at Rose, “Oh, who died?”
Dom smacks Parker in the arm for being so insensitive, and he mutters, “What did I do?”
Their brewing argument is halted by the appearance of dinner, and Rose, Jude and I happily shove our books away in favor of stuffing our faces with roast potatoes, lamb, and stew.
“Oh! So listen to this,” Dom starts, her fork pausing over plate, “I had this dream last night —”
“Oh yes, please tell us about your dream, Dom. Let me guess — you were flying? Fascinating.”
“Shut up, Parker. So I had a dream last night that I was eating a bowl of cereal.”
I look up from my own plate to stare at Dom and find that Rose, Parker, Davis, Eloise, and Jude are doing the same thing. She’s twirling her fork between her long fingers with a very concerned expression on her face.
“That’s it?” I eventually say.
“That’s it. I was just sitting in my kitchen, eating a bowl of cereal.”
Davis frowns, “But what happened after that?”
“I’ve just said, that’s it. What d’you think it means?”
Parker shrugs, attention back on his food, “Probably that you’re a psychopath.”
I stifle a laugh as Scorpius squeezes on to the bench next to Rose, pecking her on the cheek before reaching for a plate, “Sorry I’m late. What did I miss?”
Davis snorts, muttering, “Nothing, trust me.”
Rose and I depart from the Great Hall together a few minutes before dinner ends, her arm linked through mine, and I let her set our brisk pace as we make our way to the large landing at the top of the marble staircase.
“D’you think everyone will come?” Rose whispers anxiously to me as we reach the top step and find ourselves to be the first to arrive.
I stare at her incredulously, an unwitting smile curving my lips, “Do I think the Prefects will come to a Rose Weasley summons? Yeah, I think they’ll make it.”
Rose looks a little uncomfortable, “It’s Henry’s meeting too. We decided on it together at lunch.”
My mind flashes back to the awkward-looking conversation I saw them have at the Gryffindor table earlier today, and I lightly pat her hand, “Of course it is, dear.”
The first stream of Prefects begin to arrive, and we all have to awkwardly make room for the other students trying to get around us to go to their common rooms. Rose is beet red from the embarrassment of having not thought this all the way through, and I let out a sigh of relief when the last of them have seemingly made their way up to bed.
Rose clears her throat, and we stop shuffling around, “Er, sorry about that. I just — I mean, I thought the staircase would be convenient for everyone, I should’ve realized —“
Henry lays a hand on her shoulder and — very kindly, I think — interrupts her, “Thanks everyone for coming, we’ll try and make this quick. So, we’ve been getting some pretty distressing reports of certain partners either not patrolling together, or not patrolling at all.”
No one is looking directly at me, but I feel my face heat up all the same. How did Rose find out that Eric wasn’t helping with our route? And why didn’t she tell me I was about to get scolded in front of everyone?
“The thing is, there’s a reason you guys patrol in pairs,” Rose cuts in, her eyes flitting from one face to another (but seeming to skip right over me), “You’re there to back each other up, and to make sure no one’s behaving how they shouldn’t. You’re a team, but you’re also each other’s check and balance. Okay?”
There’s a general murmur of agreement, and subtly, everyone glances around at each other to try and suss out who’s been slacking on their patrols. I try not to meet anyone’s gaze straight on, but my eyes find Al’s anyway. He and Sally Hanseth — his prefect partner that’s always trying to get him into dark corners of the castle — are standing together on the other side of the landing. His smile grows as his eyes stay locked with mine, and I know I should be listening to Rose, that this lecture is meant for me in particular, but something about his knowing, ever-observant gaze is calming away the stress that’s been coiling between my shoulder blades.
How does he do that? How can I feel like laughing a giddy laugh just by looking at him?
I feel an urge to slip through this crowd and make my way over to him, to let my weight lean against him and have his arms wrap reassuringly around my waist.
Al winks at me like he knows what I’m thinking, and I blush instantly, my gaze flickering to the floor at my feet.
“Right, thanks everyone,” Henry finishes, “We appreciate all the work you’re doing, honestly we do, so just let Rose or myself know if you come across any trouble tonight, alright?”
The crowd shifts and turns chaotic as partners find each other in the crowd. I feel a gentle touch on my arm and turn to find Eric Gallahan smiling sheepishly at me, “So that was kind of brutal, right?”
I smile back at him, oddly relieved he feels the same way, “Definitely,” I heave a big sigh, “Should we start, then?”
Eric nods, his hand pushing through his hair, and we turn to make our way back to the Entrance Hall. I don’t turn around to see if Rose is watching us go.
We’ve made it down the stairs and through three corridors before we say anything, Eric’s lanky frame a good meter away from me. But then he clears his throat awkwardly, “So, listen, I’m — er, sorry about not really pulling my weight. I know that wasn’t really fair of me.”
I grin in relief that he broached this awkward topic first, “No, it’s fine, thanks. I should’ve said something instead of just pretending I was cool with it.” Eric nods at the floor, a frown on his face, and I stumble over my words, “I didn’t tell them about us not patrolling together, either.”
He finally looks up from the floor and meets my eyes with a smile, “Thanks, Deetrin.” I nod back and we lapse back into silence before he sighs, “I just — kind of hate patrolling. It’s so boring.”
I look over at him incredulously as we pass through the doors leading to the covered walkway by the greenhouses, and try to be nice about it when I say, “Why are you a Prefect, then?”
He shrugs, his gaze on the darkened grounds, “It seemed cool when I got the badge in the mail, and my mum freaked out, she was so excited, so I kind of had to do it. And now it’s like two years later and I’d much rather be doing — anything else, really.”
I nod, looking at the cobbled stone under my feet, “I get that, honestly. But I’ve kind of come to like being in the castle at night.”
Eric looks at me from the corner of his eyes with a smile, “I could see that. You’ve definitely got that vibe about you.”
I cock my head to side and look at him curiously, “What vibe?”
He shrugs his thin shoulders again, “That — I dunno, mysterious vibe, I guess.”
I scoff, “I’m not mysterious.”
“You’re quiet, then, and quiet translates as mysterious.”
“I am not quiet.”
“Well, not now,” Eric counters, and we grin at each other.
We come to a stop at the edge of the walkway, and scrutinize the rain pouring over the grounds.
“Much too wet for patrolling,” Eric decides.
I readily agree, turning back towards the castle quickly, “Definitely.”
After years of patrolling Hogwarts at night, the dark holds no more monsters for me. I walk the hallways slowly, surely, and with a solace I didn’t expect to find in the vast silence of the sleeping castle. It’s not the stark silence of a deserted place, but the warm kind of quiet I expect parents feel when their toddlers have finally agreed to their naps. Almost as if the castle is grateful for the stillness after all the buoyant clamor that comes with a school day, the fires in the brackets along the walls dance merrily, the suits of armor creak as if getting comfortable, and the chill that typically pervades these stone halls has disappeared. The ghosts floating by on their cosmic tides are always happy to chat as I walk — and they hover — down empty corridors, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve passed a History of Magic exam because of the helpful tips Nearly Headless Nick or the Grey Lady have shared. And though I’m used to having Rose chattering merrily beside me as we patrolled, the occasional conversations with Eric and the comfortable quiet between us as we beat these familiar paths is nice in its own way.
The only real difficulties of our late night strolls are students out after curfew, but even they’ve seemed to understand recently that they’re meant to be in bed, and they depart for their common rooms without causing any trouble. Even Peeves hasn’t wreaked any real havoc this term. The castle, and all its inhabitants, are settling in for winter already.
We round a corner, waving our wands in wide arcs to cast the light across the entire corridor. My glance is simply cursory, the similarities between this hallway and the one we’ve just left so close to identical that my eyes skim swiftly over the grumbling portraits, the closed doors, the suits of armor nestled into their alcoves as the worn carpet muffles our slow, ambling steps. We’re nearly a third of the way down the corridor, chatting happily about the first Quidditch match of the season — Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff — coming up when I finally notice that we’ve veered off course, went left when we should’ve gone right. I’m about to tell Eric we should turn around when I hear shuffling coming from behind a tapestry. Eric hears it too, placing a finger to his lips and wiggling his eyebrows playfully. I have to stifle a laugh as we approach, and I notice the tapestry move a little.
I’m about to announce myself in my typical fashion — something along the lines of ‘Oi, Prefect on her rounds here!’ — as Eric prepares to whip open the tapestry, when I hear a soft voice sigh, “Oh, Al.”
My heart speeds up as time slows down, that soft sigh echoing — reverberating, bouncing, gaining in speed and volume — in my mind.
Eric looks bewildered when I take the tapestry from his grip, slowly letting it fall to the side. We stare at the embraced couple inside the tiny passageway, and I can only see limbs from the girl, but the back of the boy is uncomfortably familiar to me — dark, wild hair, broad shoulders, strong arms. I can see a hint of his Gryffindor tie from underneath his collar that’s gone all askew.
“Al?” I hate how breathless I sound, and I can see Eric’s discerning glance cut over to me from the corner of my eye.
It doesn’t matter anyway, because Al continues to kiss this girl like his bloody life depends on it, like no one interrupted, like he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to. And it’s weird, watching from the outside how his hands grip her waist and tangle in her hair.
It’s strange, knowing that it’s only been seconds since we pulled that tapestry to the side, but it feels like I’ve been standing here all night — like someone carelessly knocked over the universe’s hourglass, so now time is slipping by just one grain at a time.
I quickly avert my gaze to the floor, and see their discarded robes bunched up around their feet. Their Prefect badges glint up at me.
“Hey,” I hear Eric say loudly, although it sounds distorted beneath the pounding of my heart in my ears, “Hey!”
Eric’s booming pitch catches their attention, and they pull apart. Al leans his forehead against Sally Hanseth’s, his Prefect partner. The one that’s always trying to catch him in dark corners of the castle.
I guess she finally caught him.
They breathe heavily, staring at each other, completely elated. He murmurs something to her and she grins up at him. My stomach feels heavy, twisted. Oh, Al. I can’t get her voice to stop repeating in my head.
Sally finally peaks over Al’s shoulder to look at us, to see me loosely clutching the tapestry in one hand, with my lit wand pointing uselessly at the floor in the other. I wonder if my face is as raw and open to her as it feels.
“Deetrin?” She says, winded, her eyes glowing and her cheeks flushed. She glances over and catches a sight of Eric’s uncomfortable expression, “This isn’t your route.”
“No,” I agree, and I’m surprised at how even my tone is. My eyes are glued to Al’s back, to his rumpled shirt untucked from his trousers, and his hair, wilder than ever. My eyes seem to trace the shape of his arms wrapped around Sally’s waist. Why hasn’t he turned around? “We spaced out a corridor or two back and ended up here.”
Sally clears her throat, and stands on her tiptoes to lean her chin on Al’s shoulder. The last of her lipstick is smudged on one end of her lips, and I imagine if Al turned around I’d find the rest on him. “Well. Obviously we’d appreciate it if you didn’t spread this around or anything. Al hates it when his private business is splashed across the papers. You know how it is.” She rolls her eyes good-naturedly and squeezes his bicep.
Oh, Al. “Right.”
A long, hollow pause echoes between us. Sally’s starting to look annoyed. “Could you, y’know —“ She flutters her hand in the air, in a shooing motion.
“Right.” I take a step back, willing Al to turn around, to just look at me.
Eric’s face settles into a disgruntled grimace, “Look, just so you know, we’re gonna have to tell the Head’s about this. It’s, like, wildly unprofessional.”
Sally rolls her eyes, her face turning away to hide in Al’s shoulder, and along with Sally’s breathless sigh inside my head is another mantra — just look at me. Look at me, Al.
But then he’s moving, shifting towards me, and I realize that the very last thing I want to see is her lipstick on his face, so I whip the tapestry shut and spin around, walking as fast as I can — though it really could be considered an awkward, muddled run at this point — with Eric loping confusedly behind me until we arrive at the fork in the hallways, where we went left when we really, really should have gone right.
The rest of our patrol creeps by, leaving me in this heavy purgatory, an endless quagmire of deserted hallways keeping me from my bed where I can lie still and think. And hurt. And forget.
My legs feel like lead, this stroll I used to cherish turned into a shuffling march, the seconds ticking loudly — and slowly — by from the watch on my wrist.
You weren’t exclusive, I have to remind myself, You weren’t anything.
“So I’m guessing you and Potter were a thing, then?” Eric finally asks, his cheeks splotched with red. And though Eric seems like a decent enough person, I have next to no desire to analyze what just happened with him in this corridor.
“Sort of,” I mumble, “Not really, I guess. Just a bit of a shock.”
“Look,” He goes on, hand rubbing at the back of his neck, gaze in front of his feet, “For what it’s worth, Potter must be insane. I mean, Hanseth’s the worst.”
Despite myself, I feel a warmth towards Eric and his awkward, bumbling steps, and I smile up at him, “Cheers, Eric.”
His whole face flushes red and he smiles back at the floor.
One hallway bleeds into the next as this last hour melts by, my feet on autopilot, my gaze not focused on this corridor, but fixed on a hidden passageway behind a tapestry, two floors above.
We finally come to a stop in the Entrance Hall and Eric gives me a searching look, “You gonna be alright?”
I wave a hand around and try to say airily, “Oh, fine. Just planning what jinxes I’ll be using on Potter tomorrow.”
Eric smiles, but we both know I’m not really fooling anyone.
He jerks his head towards the staircase, “You go on up. I’ll let Rose and Henry know what happened.”
I feel like hugging him, but thankfully I haven’t entirely lost my mind yet, and instead just grin up at him, “Thank you. Really.”
Eric nods shyly and I turn to jog up the staircase, feeling utterly exhausted.
I’m nearly back to the common room, that eagle-shaped knocker just one corner away, when I hear a voice call out.
My stomach drops twelve stories when I turn and find Al Potter jogging over to me. A few of the buttons have ripped off his shirt, and her lipstick is definitely on his face. My heart is somewhere inside my churning stomach, my face burning. God, I feel hot all over.
Why is he looking at me like that? So — so normally?
I swallow, heart thumping, my voice incredulous, “What could you possibly want?”
His eyes are wild, bright, glassy. He startles me by putting his hands on my shoulders, “You haven’t seen her, have you?”
I gape at him, at his face hovering above mine. And though his grip on my shoulders is tight, his gaze is frantic and faraway, and it’s like he can only see me in parts — eyes shifting restlessly from my nose to my forehead to my right eyebrow, like his mind can tell that I’m a person but can’t make that final leap of recognition, to assemble me as a whole instead of just familiar pieces.
His face is glistening with sweat, a high flush staining his cheeks, the rest of his face very pale, and it occurs to me that he looks sickly. His hair is sticking to his forehead, his dark eyelashes blinking rapidly.
Finally I manage, “Who? Sally?”
His whole being lights up when I say her name, “Yes, Sally! Merlin, I love that name. I love her.” He stares off into the distance before snapping to me, “Anyway, have you seen her? I’ve lost her, and I’ve got to find her.”
I stare into his glassy eyes, the usually brilliant green seemingly dimmed, and take in his dopey, ridiculous grin. My heart pounds even harder than before, and I struggle to take a normal breath.
Could it be? Is Sally Hanseth really crazy enough to spike him with love potion?
Or am I only wildly hoping that’s the case? What if she’s his summer girlfriend?
“Al,” I say in a slow, clear voice, and his gaze focuses on the tip of my nose, “What’s my name?”
“Does that matter?” He says breezily, and I try not to let that cut into me, “I’m just trying to find Sally. I have to find Sally.”
I take in a shaky breath and give him a queasy smile, “Luckily for you, I know where she is.”
Al’s grin is huge, it’s stretching at his cheeks so much his face looks like it might split in two, and for the first time in a fortnight, I think of Charlie Kline. “You do?! Oh, thank you, really. So where is she?”
I pull his hands from their clutched grip on my shoulders and guide him by the elbow, “She’s, er — in the Hospital Wing. She’s not feeling very well, I’m afraid.”
Al looks stricken, “Is she going to be alright? Why are we walking so slow? I have to get to her!”
He tries to tug out of my grip but I hang on to his arm tighter, “She’ll be fine, Al, don’t worry. In fact, she’s expecting you.”
Al grins, “She is?” I nod and he sighs, “She’s wonderful, isn’t she?”
A lump that’s more like a boulder is lodging in my throat, and I pick up my pace, practically dragging Al behind me, “She’s the best.”
“Back so soon, Ms. Deetrin?” Madame Pomfrey inquires when we arrive at the Hospital Wing, my hand like a claw on a squirming Al.
“It’s — It’s Al,” I pant, trying to stop him from sprinting through the Hospital Wing, “Love potion, I think.”
“Where is she?” Al whines, hopping on his toes, “I can’t see her!”
I look beseechingly at Madame Pomfrey, and she gives me a knowing — and a little amused — smile, “I’ll take it from here, Ms. Deetrin.”
With gentle, practiced hands, Pomfrey guides Al to the nearest bed, soothing his frantic movements.
“But where is she?” He asks Pomfrey’s forehead.
“Who, dear?” Pomfrey says blithely, mixing and matching different potions on the cart next to her.
Al huffs, “Sally, of course!”
“Oh yes,” Pomfrey replies, “How silly of me to forget! She told me to tell you she’ll be here in a minute.”
He grins up at her, “She did?” Pomfrey nods and Al sighs, “She’s wonderful, isn’t she?”
“Absolutely, dear. Here, Sally wanted you to drink this while you wait,” Pomfrey deftly tips Al’s head back and forces him to sip from the antidote she’s made. As soon as it hits his tongue, his bright expression dims, slowly turning bleaker and bleaker. His whole body hunches in, his head bowed.
“There there,” Pomfrey soothes, pushing on his shoulders so he’ll lie down, “Rest now. You’ll feel better in the morning.”
Al curls up in a ball, his eyes on the floor, expressionless except for the abject pain furrowing his brows.
It’s bizarre, seeing him like this. This tall, broad, beautiful boy reduced to this small shape. This boy who’s got my heart beat thumping to irrational beats when he smiles at me. And this tangled mass of confused hurt that I’ve felt since I saw him wrapped around Sally Hanseth — that set my wild, overgrown attraction to him suddenly and cruelly ablaze — hasn’t gone away, even now. But it doesn’t matter now, does it? God, my head is spinning.
Pomfrey turns away from him and walks quietly back over to me.
“He’ll — he’ll be alright, won’t he?” I murmur, eyes fixed on his sorry state.
“Right as rain in the morning,” She says briskly. Pomfrey eyes me shrewdly for a moment before placing a gentle hand on my shoulder, “You’ll feel better in the morning too, dear.”
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