A/N: I just have to say, I really am sorry about the delay and for leaving all of you on such a horrid cliffie. I meant to get it up sooner, as in about a week later or so, but I'm lame. As you've probably figured out by now. Just a few quick thank yous to everyone who harassed me about updating, especially Giddyupgal for her novel, which finally got me moving again. Haha. Anyway, I've literally spent hours going through this & editing & adding & cutting, so this better be GOOD. Thanks to you all, I've loved writing this story & hearing all your fabulous review & support—so this final chapter is for all of you guys—what can I say, you rock my socks off. That's why I wear flip flops every day. And so ladies, without further ado & for the last time: ENJOY!
/Tell the ships out at sea
Not to send S.O.S's
Everything's finally okay,
I'm content with a gent who has sent the clouds away.
Climb the highest church steeple
And tell all the folks
I have what they're down on their knees for,
I love you and…
It's not secret anymore/
--Linda Eder, "It's No Secret Anymore"
"Oh no," Angelina moaned. "Oh no. Allie, how could you have let her out of your sight?"
"I'm sorry!" wailed Alicia. "I thought I locked her in!"
"She's Katie, of course she's going to find a way out!"
"Well, I'm sorry! What are we supposed to do now…"
"I don't know! Today was the day Fred was supposed to—"
"HAHAHAHAHA! Hey, why aren't you guys laughing!" I yelled. "I'm wearing a curtain! I'm wearing nothing but a curtain!"
"Yes, Katie, and that's a problem," Angelina said gently. "You see, you can't wear our curtains to school…"
"And Fred won't date you in a curtain," Alicia piped up.
I laughed. "You two are sillies!" I declared. "What would I want to date Fred for when I'm sooooooo in love with Harry!"
They looked at me blankly.
"Harry Potter?" Alicia finally asked.
"Yes! Yes! Wonderful, kind, sweet Harry James Potter!"
"How did she know Harry's middle name?" whispered Alicia quietly. Angelina cut in.
"Katie, you don't like Harry. You like Fred. You said so yourself last night."
"SILLIES!" I shrieked, twirling around in the curtain. "SILLIES! If I liked Fred, what would I be dating Harry for then, huh? Huh?"
"But you're not dating Harry! You're not dating anybody!"
"Am so!" I replied amid fits of giggles. "Asked him out myself last night after I drank this stuff, I did!" I waggled the empty bottle of potion around triumphantly in their faces. "Kissed him, too. On the lippies. Which are located here for your information." I pointed.
"Merlin, help us," Angelina groaned. "Alicia, you go talk to Harry and sort this whole thing out. I'm—er—going to get Katie looking more…presentable."
I waved bye to Alicia and started trying to fit my foot around the back of my head as Angelina sat nervously down in front of me.
"So Katie," she said presently. "How much of that bottle did you actually consume, huh?
Alicia took the steps three at a time down to the common room until she spotted Harry Potter sitting in some chairs with Hermione Granger and the younger Weasley boy, Ron.
"Harry," Alicia panted, running up to his side. "Harry, you can't go out with Katie."
Harry turned a very deep shade of red. "Alicia, I didn't want to go out with Katie in the first place. She sort of—accosted me…" He looked very uncomfortable.
"Oh," Alicia sighed. "Well that's a relief. Listen, she didn't, say, do anything more than kiss you did she?"
"You kissed Katie Bell!" Ron exclaimed. "I'm sorry, mate, but if I were you I'd give up on Cho and go for her, I mean she's—"
"Your brother's girlfriend," Alicia said quickly, and then paused. "You like Cho Chang, Harry?" she asked curiously.
Harry turned red again, and was saved from answering by Ron.
"George has another girlfriend already?" he groaned.
"You can't be serious—Percy didn't get her, did he? That insufferable git, I'll—"
"No, not Percy," Alicia said, frustrated. "Harry, what happened?"
"Well, uh," Harry began awkwardly.
"You can't seriously be talking about Fred can you?" Ron interrupted.
"Well why not?" Alicia snapped. "For your information, that's exactly who I was talking about."
"He doesn't have a girlfriend. He took Hermione out not even a week ago." He looked very upset about it. Hermione tossed her hair impatiently.
"I could tell right away it was just a ploy to get her off his mind. He wouldn't talk about anything else. Mind you, it didn't matter because I had a similar goal in mind, but not concerning the same person." She glared at Ron who swallowed nervously.
"Harry," Alicia said softly. "Please tell me what happened so I can work this whole thing out."
"Er—right," he began. "Well, I was just up—you know, trying to finish my potions essay and Katie came up to me and gave me my invisibility cloak back. I'd let her borrow it a while ago…anyway, she seemed a bit funny. I asked her what was wrong, and she just waved around this potion bottle. It looked like Pepper-Up. She was steaming at the ears and er—she told me she loved me and…tried to kiss me. I didn't really expect that so I guess I didn't really do anything to stop it and when she asked me out I was too shocked to answer…I guess she took that for a yes. Fred doesn't know about this does he?" He looked a tad nervous.
Alicia waved her hand dismissively. "No and he doesn't need to if you know what I mean. Anyway, all that's important is that you know that Katie was under the influence of Pepper-Up Potion of which she is extremely allergic, and she doesn't mean anything she does when she has that stuff. And you're not dating. Which is good because she'll be dating Fred by the end of the day, with any luck, which she really hasn't had a lot of lately considering…"
"Right," Hermione said firmly. Alicia was prone to delving into long speeches about her friends involving odd phrases like "under the influence of" and "of which".
"Well anyway," she finished. "Thanks."
"No problem," Harry said, looking genuinely relieved.
"Hey, Alicia!" Ron yelled at her retreating back. She turned around. "When they do go out, could you make sure they don't snog in the common room? I hate it when my brothers date Gryffindors…"
I could feel the effects of the Pepper-Up Potion starting to wear off…By that I mean, I was back to my usual state of mind to realize that being dressed in a curtain, as well as dating Harry Potter were completely ridiculous and equally disconcerting ideas and I was back to focusing on Fred. Yes, I was in my uniform, hair brushed, looking sufficiently presentable and with a mind to get a hold of exactly what I wanted and as quick as I could. However, there was still enough of the potion left in me to make anything seem acceptable in the way of getting what I wanted. I swallowed the last bite of sauage from the plate of breakfast Angelina had brought up for me (she seemed to think I shouldn't be around people at the moment for some odd reason) and stood up to make a declaration.
"Today is my day!" I said resolutely.
"Right you are," Alicia approvingly agreed.
"I'm going to get my man!"
"That's the spirit!" cheered Angelina.
"And I'm going to do that by knocking out Sarah Fawcett!"
"Nooooooooo!" both of them yelled together. "Katie, no. You can't."
"I have to!" I yelled. "She wants him, he might want her, I have to go!" And I ran out the door.
"Katie!" Alicia called down the stairs. "Katie, we were just kidding about the whole Sarah thing. We have no clue if she still likes him!"
"It's true," Angelina agreed, "We just said that so you'd get a move on!"
"You two are liars," I called back up to them. "Now I gotta go, there's not a minute to lose!"
I sped out of the common room at top speed, setting out on my quest to find Sarah Fawcett. I could just see her, any minute, wrapped around Fred, snogging him senseless. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I had to get her out of the picture. The Pepper-Up Potion was clogging my better judgment. I could feel the adrenaline shoot through my veins. It was kind of cool.
"Sarah!" I yelled, finally spotting her in a corner on the sixth floor.
The long haired girl turned around. "What?" she asked confused.
"I'll show you what!" I yelled. And with all of my five foot, two inch power I socked her in the gut. She doubled over.
"Katie Bell!" she yelled between gasps for air. "What on earth did you do that for!"
"For trying to steal my man, that's what!"
"Your man? I have a boyfriend!"
"But you still secretly want Fred, admit it!"
"Fred and I are over. And you're about to over too, come to think of it!"
She lunged at me; my quidditch reflexes allowed me to miss the blow, but just barely. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all…
"Sorry Sarah, no hard feelings!"
And I ran quickly out of the foyer down the stairs and to the left. I heard angry voices behind me; I wasn't sure if they were following me or not, but I ran anyway, escaping from my lapse of judgment and trying to find Fred in the process. At around the fifth floor corridor, I passed one of Sarah's curly-haired friends, screamed and ducked behind a tapestry.
"Sar!" the girl called, "Sar, I just saw her! Over here!"
I quickly sidestepped behind the large tapestry, tiptoeing backward while watching them search and then falling headlong down a staircase that was apparently located behind me.
I tumbled down the stairs and straight into none other than Fred Weasley himself.
"Whoa!" he yelled as he tried to catch me, but I must have been falling too hard because I knocked both of us over. I was lying on top of him, and I could feel the rest of the potion fade away.
"Hi," I said awkwardly.
"Hey," he replied curiously. "You know, I've been looking for you for a while now. Funny to run into you here…or you into me, rather…"
"I have something I need to tell you," I said quickly, moving along. Hey, if I was prepared to do it in a curtain, I might as well do it now, right?
"Well, I have something I want to tell you," Fred countered.
"Me first," I declared.
"No, me first," he said.
"Fred! Me. I have an angry mob behind me and it's kind of important that it's quick."
"Yes. I accidentally punched Sarah Fawcett in the stomach."
"I know. Stupid, right?"
Just then at the top of the stairs, we saw Sarah and her friends looking around frantically.
"Where is that little wench?" Sarah growled angrily. "She can't have gotten far, no one runs fast on stubby little legs like those."
"HE--!" I was about to shout, but Fred clapped a hand over my mouth and covered me with his body. Sarah's head snapped around.
"Hey Weasley," she called down the stairs. "You haven't seen your little girlfriend running around here lately, have you?"
"Don't have a girlfriend, Sar," he replied easily. "Haven't had one since you, actually."
"How heartwarming," she said coolly. "You know who I mean. Katie Bell. She just decked me."
"I'm sorry to hear that," he said smirking. I held my breath. How on earth was she not seeing me? If she caught me, I was dead. Mind you, I might be dead soon anyway if she didn't leave. Fred was suffocating me.
She rolled her eyes. "You never were good at lying," she said.
"Well, whatever Katie did or didn't do, I think you should just lay off her okay? She's had a recent bought of—er—delusion brought on by—ah—Marcus Flint."
"Yeah. Flint. You know—big tall hairy git with an IQ the size of my little sister's bosoms?"
I turned my laugh into a choke as she rolled her eyes again. "I know who Marcus Flint is," she snapped.
"Right. Then you'll know you should go find him if you really want to deck somebody."
She looked at him appraisingly. "Alright, Weasley. I believe you," she said finally and turned around to go. Just as she was about to exit the foyer behind her friends, she turned around and said, "What on earth are you doing on the floor anyway?"
"Uh—lost my wand." Smooth Fred, real smooth. Not like it's sticking out of your pocket or anything. I waited for the inevitable, but it didn't come. Apparently Sarah was blind.
"Oh. Right," she said slowly. "Well—Bell said something about me trying to steal you. I don't know if that's more delusion or not but…I'm not. I think you should date her."
"Thanks for the input, Sarah," he said easily.
She stared at him for a few more seconds and then exited. I immediately pushed Fred off of me and groaned.
"Merlin, were you trying to kill me?" I gasped.
"Trying to save you actually. But I would settle for killing you, I suppose. I wouldn't have to keep covering up for you that way."
I ignored that. "Well, the next time you try to save me, could you not force yourself on top of me? I nearly died."
"That reminds me," he said. "I was just underneath you, trying to shut you up. Maybe it will work better from up here. Let's resume the conversation, shall we?" Fred repositioned himself on top of me and held down my hands because I kept trying to punch him.
"Why won't you listen to me?" I wailed. "It's important and I may never have another chance to say it if you go first!"
"I'll listen to anything you have to say if you'll just grant me a few seconds," he said calmly.
"I don't have a few seconds!" I yelled. "I have to tell you now. I like yo—"
"I'm sorry, Miss Bell, but I really must insist this time," he said firmly but playfully. I tried to speak, but he was holding my lips together.
"You always get the first say," he said. "I want it this time."
I tried to yell at him but he conjured up a piece of tape which he taped tightly over my mouth.
"Mmmmph!" I protested.
"What was that?" he asked. "You're ready to listen to me now?"
Okay, whatever. He wins. I nodded.
"Good. Now as long as you're just lying there without anything to say, I have something interesting I wanted to show you. I was walking across the grounds two days ago and I came across this rather informative bit of parchment…"
He reached inside his cloak and pulled out an old, worn piece of paper with lots of writing and scribbles on it. Very familiar writing and scribbles, actually…if it hadn't been taped shut, my jaw would have dropped.
It was my list.
He seemed to notice my surprise and was apparently enjoying it. "Now let's see here," he said, glossing it over. "This appears to be a list of requirements for the perfect boyfriend written by none other than, it seems, you. Is that right?"
"I'll take that as a yes…okay, continuing on. Wow, you look at that…'Must wear shoe size 11'. That's me. Interesting. 'Will play the piano most exquisitely'…me again. 'Has the ability to share what I'm thinking without me having to say it'…my, I certainly am doing well, aren't I? 'Will dance with me in the moonlight'…hmm. Pity. I would never do that. But nothing's perfect right? I mean, if I was perfect, I clearly wouldn't be the perfect boyfriend because I was—well—perfect. Are you following me?"
I glared at him.
"Right, sorry, you obviously want me to keep reading this. Alright then. Here's another one I seem to be good at…'Will call me Kate and not Kates'. Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm about the only one who uses Kate…let's see…'Never uses the word chuckle'. That reminds me of a fun night we spent together in Hogsmeade after I proved myself right about you not dating Diggory. Yes, no chuckle usage here. Ah, look, I almost failed at another one: '6'2"'. Luckily it seems Ange has saved me though…"Knows how to help me when I'm lost'. Well, I am pretty good at that aren't I? Yes, yes…ah. 'His wand's made of mahogony'. Wow. So's mine. 'Teases me about being short, but won't let anyone else'…I do tease you about that and if you'd like I can certainly prevent everyone else from doing so…I'm pretty chiseled if you hadn't lately noticed. Well, look at that. Minus the dancing in the moonlight, I believe I've accomplished every requirement on this perfect boyfriend list of yours, and I'm sure my many other amazing qualities will cover up for the minor lapse in not being a totally cliché sort of bloke. Except wait! Would you look here…could you read that for me?"
He was pointing to the last requirement I'd written on my list. I continued to stare him down.
"Oh, that's right. You can't speak. Let me read it for you then. It says 'Will have the perfect kiss'. Well, wow. I certainly can't vouch for myself on that one, and unless you want to go talk to Sarah Fawcett again, I'm going to have to say that you'll have to judge for yourself, Kate. So…what do you say. Will you have me?" He grinned and raised his eyebrows, but I could tell he looked a little nervous.
I really could have helped him out, but I was still angry that he didn't let me talk first so I kept him in suspense for a moment longer before rolling my eyes and pointing to the piece of tape currently covering my lips.
And in one fluid motion, the tape was vanished and I was kissing Fred Weasley for the first time in my life. The bell for class rang and silenced, and still his lips were on mine, his fingers in my hair, my hands on his chest, my heart exploding with the most happiness I think I'd ever felt before. Years of jokes, teasing, and trouble had melted away into romance in a single two week period. How about that, then?
When we finally parted, I just stared as he grinned and asked, "So? Do I pass?"
I smiled. "Well, I'm not quite sure…" I admitted playfully. "I think I might have to test that again…"and so I kissed him again.
"You have no idea how long I've been waiting to have you do that," Fred smiled when we broke off the kiss, brushing his fingers through my hair with a gentle quality that both surprised and gratified me. "I guess that means I have the perfect kiss then, right?"
"And I was better than George?"
I laughed. "Better than George and Harry."
He stared at me. "You've kissed Harry Potter?"
I froze. "Uhh…I mean, if I had kissed Harry, I'm sure you would have been better then…uh…him. Heh."
He continued to stare at me.
"Um, yeah, so this is cool…"
"I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that," Fred said finally. "Just promise me I'll be the only bloke you kiss from now on, okay?"
And then I let his kiss me again until suddenly I backed away.
"What?" he asked.
"Nothing, just, you never let me say what I had to say."
"Oh yeah, and what's that?"
"I like you back."
"Whoever said I liked you?"
"Well don't assume. I don't like you."
"Well then that was awfully rude of you because—"
"I love you."
"I love you, too. I have for a long time."
"Not longer than me, I'd bet you."
"I don't feel like fighting with you about it right now. How about we make up for lost time instead?"
"Wait," he put up a hand to stop me. "Not that this isn't great or anything, but you've missed Transfiguration nine times already this year and if you hit a tenth before December you get detention and I get detention for skipping a fifteenth time, and I'd really rather spend tonight snogging you than disemboweling frogs."
I grinned. "Oh, alright."
"Well," Fred breathed, taking my hand in his. "Here we go."
He pushed the door to class open and every single head including McGonagoll's turned to stare at our intertwined hands.
"Er—" I said awkwardly.
They all gaped and then simultaneously erupted into applause.
"Finally!" yelled Cormic McGlaggen, "I thought they would never stop fighting!"
I stared at Fred, a little embarresed and a little gratified at this sudden outburst of approval. He grinned down at me.
"Well, darling," he said cheekily, "What do you say we give the people what they want?"
I laughed. "Oh, go on then."
And as Fred leaned down to kiss me, the room got even more raucous as even Professor McGonagoll seemed to crack a smile, and as Lee stood on his desk, whooped, and yelled, "Now that has been a long time coming!", I knew that I had finally found the perfectly imperfect boyfriend who's kiss had definitely been on my list along with so, so much more…