Sorry for the long wait you guys- writer's block is a bitch xP Anyway, probably only a few chapter left but idunno. Anyway, reviews and responses are love and keep me writing! :D Love you guys and hope you enjoy!
As I laid in bed that night, after walking through the dead silent Common Room, I couldn't help but notice just how jumbled I felt.
Logically, I knew that I was going to have to now go through my days with everyone knowing what I was. I knew there would be comments and stares and loss of people I liked to associate with. There would be barbs that would hurt and even more crap from the Slytherins especially.
Draco would probably be even more of a smug bastard that he already was.
I'd probably be kicked off the Quidditch team.
I wonder if Neville would still want to be my partner in Herbology.
And then what would happen when the year ended? Would Umbridge take the collar off? She'd have to, I think, but when has she ever followed the rules of the morally correct.
Despite my tumbling and chaotic mind, it was easy to slip soundlessly from bed, padding quietly to the bathroom door. A lamp was lit in the small room so I could clearly see my reflection and didn't have to be wide-eyed in the darkness.
In the soundless bathroom, except for my shallow breathing, I thought about the collar.
I felt weaker than normal, maybe back at a regular human standard. I couldn't feel any supernatural strength that I could call up. Maybe my eye-sight was less sharp, or maybe it was my imagination.
Pulling my hair back, I looked at the collar, wanting to memorize every detail of my constraints for some reason.
The leather was dark and smooth. A thick layer of leather about two inches wide was stitched to rough cotton that was covered with scratchy fabric which covered the inside. Another layer of leather was over the thick band- this strap was stitched to the golden buckle that tied it all together. The buckle gleamed dully and seemed old- there was scratches and it needed a buffing.
The runes that were etched into the buckle were unidentifiable to me- but seemed very old, possibly Nordic or something. I let my finger trail the gold, which was cool, almost icy. Without thinking, I tried to unbuckle it- pulling the strap off leather out of the buckle.
The buckle suddenly flailed white-hot, burning my fingers and I clenched my teeth against the yelp growing in my throat. Feeling a tingle of panic, I tried to remain calm.
I tried to keep down the thought of the collar tightening until I couldn't breathe. It was already constricting enough but suddenly felt unbearably tight. I wanted to yank at it until the gold broke and the leather snapped.
I hated this small inanimate object winded around my neck. I hated it with a fury that scared me.
...But I couldn't do anything about it.
So, the fury, the panic, it all died down until I didn't know what I felt. Resigned, I guess. And tired, oh so tired.
Yet, as I laid in bed again, trying not to think about the stinging in my burnt fingers, sleep didn't come. My mind which was rushing and surging yet completely blank, kept me up.
A new feeling grew in me, restlessness, pulled at my legs, my stomach, an urge that I kept stamped down. This feeling made me want to run, or fight. I needed to expend this energy somehow.
How could someone feel so much energy but be so tired at the same time?
I was tired of crying, which I'd done most of the day. I was tired of the anxiety and fear for the coming day, which was filled with the unknown reactions of the people in school. I was tired of being tired, of fearing what people said.
I didn't know what to feel... So I thought of Fred instead. He'd been there, in the Common Room, when me and Harry walked in and had obviously been waiting for our arrival. George, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny were waiting for us also.
They were all quiet, sitting on the couch and chairs in front of the fire. Fred stood halfway out of one of the chairs, gaze never wavering from my puffy face.
The rest of the Common Room was dead silent, having become so the moment I'd put a step into the room. Their stares weren't concerned, like my friends'. Some were confused, others wary, but a few were completely dark.
I didn't want to sit in a room full of people who were now scared of me or hated me because of what I was. But, I didn't want to run from them, because once you started running, you could never stop.
So, I steeled myself and walked over to my friends, Harry right at my side being a comforting presence, and then sat in front of my couch, with my back to the rest of the room, blocking out their stares.
Gradually, conversation crept back into the room, but still remained slightly hushed. My friends and I were silent for a while, not knowing what to say.
I wonder if they knew I stayed here for them. I wonder if they knew, however scared I was, that I was willing to go through this whole ordeal for them.
Fred sat beside me after a moment, his presence not unlike Harry's, comforting and warm. He gripped my limp hand, the one that was unscathed from Umbridge's torture, tightly, letting me know that he was there.
Ginny started up a conversation about how unfair it was that Professor Flitwick had assigned a foot and a half of parchment for an essay on common charms for household tasks as homework. I was grateful for a topic that wasn't heavy or confusing.
It was light, and didn't speak of the cruelty (except in academic form) of people. It didn't speak about how now everything seemed upside down for some reasons. It was shallow, and I appreciated her more in that moment, than I had in a long time.
As we sat there and tried to hold a light conversation, regardless of the eyes on me from both people in the common room and my friends, somewhere in my mind a miniscule thought crept in.
It was tiny and I almost didn't want to admit it, but a small part of me was relieved that I didn't have to hide such a big part of me anymore. It wouldn't be good, people knowing about me, but it took the stress off of having to hide it.
Unfortunately, it brought the stress of people knowing, which I didn't know would be worse or not compared to having to hide all the time.
Instead of contributing to the conversation with my scratchy and hoarse voice, I instead studied Fred's hand meticulously.
He had the hands of a worker. They were tough, calloused on the pads of his fingers and palm. They were also somehow graceful for how big they were. His fingers were long but sturdy, showing an ability to be used for hard work or the most delicate of projects.
A few scars littered his knuckles along with freckles on the back of his hand, leading up his wrist to his arm. Sparse hair on the fingers, between the first and second knuckle.
His hands showed me his life, his history of playing with his brothers and sister, but also the diligence to his crafting of merchandise for George's and his store. Mindlessly, I ran a thumb over his skin, passing over freckles and muscle. Fred's skin was warm, and seemed to help melt a little bit of the ice that had grown inside me.
Fred pulled my palm upwards, smoothing a finger over the tender skin of my palm, careful not to hurt me.
He fell silent and turned to look at me, but I didn't meet his eyes. I didn't trust myself to hide any pain.
Because however much pain and worry my friends knew I held, I still felt bad when they could see it in my eyes. I felt sorry that I had caused them stress, anger, and whatever other negative emotion this day caused.
I wanted to make it better for them, I didn't want them to feel how I did, but I didn't know how to do that without lying and hiding every non-happy emotion.
There was too much reflection and thought and everything going on in my brain right now. So, I simply let my head rest on Fred's unwavering shoulder, trying to breath in his dulled scent.
That, thinking back, made me most sad for some reason.
But, I was done with being frighted and self-pitying. I could handle this.
So by the time I had replayed the moment, I was drowsy enough to fall asleep- though it was a light one and not particularly restful.
Yet, when I woke up, just that small amount of rest I got seemed to help.
I could face the coming day- I had my friends and hopefully some other people who didn't care if I was a werewolf or not. And while I hated to think of the actions coming to me by those who detested my kind, I knew that, with help, I could get through this, even if Umbridge did everything in her power to stop it.
Waking up was a quiet affair and it wasn't too long before I was lacing up my boots, buttoning up my shirt and pulling my hair up to get ready for the school day. The 5th year girls room was strangely quiet and Hermione gave me a nervous smile.
I gave her a sincere one back, knowing that my melancholy and self-pitying was over for now.
Let it be said that sleep is the best medicine.
...Unless you have a concussion.
So, when I had brushed my teeth and was prepared for the day, I straightened my back and pulled Hermione out of the dorm.
Just like when I had walked into the Common Room last night, the conversation died out and it did this morning also, but to a lesser degree. My chin was tilted up and I wasn't going to take shit from anybody.
While there was a few mean stares, most had settled down to neutral and I even got a few nods which was better than completely ignoring my presence. At least I knew I wasn't going to get too much hostility from my own House. And I knew it was asking too much for everyone in it to accept me but at least it mostly meant that I could expect the bulk of the ridicule from Slytherins.
I wondered how the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws would react.
Anyway, my general group of friends were waiting in a group by the door of the Common Room along with Neville and Luna. They all seemed to be giving me stares that were clinical, like they were going to assess my well-being from burning a hole in my face.
I smiled anyway and that seemed to help.
Soon enough, we were all heading downstairs for breakfast, which was a trip.
All too soon, I could hear whispers as I passed by and the collar seemed to grow hot against all the attention, or maybe it was just my face. When we finally got to the Great Hall, which now seemed to only hold memories of being outed, there was even a shrill wolf-howl from the Slytherin table that made me flinch.
A large group of the Slytherins laughed and even some of the other Houses too.
Fred pressed closer to my side, as if almost trying to shield me from the stares. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it, hoping to convey to him that I was okay. Once enough people had filed in for breakfast, it offered some obscurity for me in the crowd.
Which was the only bit of peace I got from the day.
My first class Transfiguration was with McGonagall who didn't seem to tolerate any barbs at me. She was too on top of her class for whispers or paper airplanes today and seemed to glare at everyone as if daring them to do something.
That class wasn't so bad and I think I fell a little in love with McGonagall for it but the urge to give her a hug wasn't big enough to do so and I don't think she would appreciate it very much even if she was the one to defend me.
However, my next class was with Snape and the bulk of the Slytherins which took away any contentment I got from McGonagall's class.
The first thing Snape said when I walked into the room was, "Careful class, the rabid animal arrived." which elicited numerous laughs from the Slytherins. I was too anxious from having to sit literally surrounded by people who basically lived to hurt me in any way, shape, or form that I didn't spare a single glance at Snape.
Though his barb seemed to make the knot in my stomach grow tighter but it also steeled my resolve to not let anyone get to me.
They're just words, Ariel. I told myself fiercely. With a deep breath to steady myself, I walked over to my seat beside Draco and sat down, not paying him one bit of attention even though my fist ached to break his nose again. It did however, bring my spirits up a little to see that Bulstrode's face was blue and black making her look like she had two black eyes. Her nose was also crooked a bit now and I had to clamp down hard on the spiral of satisfaction that burst into my stomach to hide a smile.
After we all got settled and the snickers from the Slytherins died down, Snape started the lesson. I can't say I wasn't surprised to find that it was the wolfs bane potion that we were making. It elicited numerous mean laughs from the Slytherins and when I glanced over at my friends on the Gryffindor half of the room, saw my trio of friends shoot me apologetic looks.
I merely sent them a smile, kinda forced, but sincere enough that they relaxed a bit.
"The properties of this potion is to establish a docile attitude in a turned werewolf if the afflicted person takes it a week before the change. However, if made incorrectly, the potion is fatal to the monster who drinks it, in human or werewolf form." Snape said, trying for an innocent face but failing with the dark glint in his eyes.
That did not send a cold prickle down my spine as the attitude of the Slytherins in my general vicinity turned down right homicidal almost.
"You have the class period to make this potion. If done correctly it should be a sludgy grey, with silver streaks that mists. The ingredients are listed on the board and your instructions are in your Potions books. I expect near silence and if you fail to finish your potion within the allotted time, don't bother making excuses. Begin."
Since I just wanted to get this day done and over with, I quickly scribbled down the ingredients and picked up my cauldron, knowing Draco wasn't going to help but not like I would've accepted it if he had offered especially since the potion could be fatal to me.
However, as I was in the ingredients closet, I came across a small problem. There was dried bushels of monk's hood, which I felt like was a nicer name then wolfs bane, hanging on racks but the moment my fingers touched them, the plant seared my skin, feeling red hot.
I yanked my hand back and glanced at my reddened fingers in shock. Apparently if you're a werewolf, even just the touch of the plant burns you and I shuddered to think bout what if it was ingested undiluted.
So, I clamped down hard on my stomach, bracing myself for the burn and quickly snapped off a bushel and dropped it into my cauldron. My fingers stung so I pressed them against the cool metal of my cauldron and felt a small relief.
Quickly, I gathered the other ingredients up and refused to think about how I had ingested this stuff a few weeks back know that I knew intimately just what I had taken.
When I returned to my seat with all my supplies, the whispers from the Slytherins quieted abruptly. This was when I wished I had an iPod so I could stuff my earphones in and block out all the sounds but alas, electronics and magic hardly work well together.
But no, I was forced to sit there and listen as everyone quipped out little barbs and insults that were severely testing my patience. It took all my self-restraint to tune them out until all I focused on was the white-noise in my ears.
Luckily, the potion was fairly easy to make when I finally tuned out the Slytherins. It mostly involving cutting and crushing ingredients while a cauldron full of wine simmered. However, once I got to the step when I needed to add the wolfs bane, I wavered.
The potion required me to finely chop and mince the dried sprigs before crushing them into a powder with the mortar and pestle. The mortar and pestle part wouldn't be painful for me but for me to chop and mince the plant, I had to hold them down and ugh, this was going to suck.
Burns, to me, was one of the worst type of injuries. With a scratch or cut or something, there was a sting yes, but burns were a hot sting that stabbed sharply into you and I just hated them.
With my hate of burns in mind, I grabbed my silver knife for potions and quickly transferred the bushel of wolfs bane onto the cutting board I was using, clenching my teeth to hold in the hiss of pain that wanted to escape.
I tried to comfort myself with the fact that the pain of the change was way worse than this but nonetheless I wasn't exactly excited to burn most of my right hand.
Draco, even though I was ignoring him, seemed very attuned to my reaction before a knowing smile formed on his lips, completing the "I look like an utter douche-nossel" face.
He had noticed that the wolfs bane burned my skin which I incited a huge sense of foreboding in me. I knew it was going to cause me problems in the future.
Anyway, I couldn't deal with him now, I had to finish this potion even though I knew there was at least a 70% chance that Snape was going to drop my sample anyway.
So, I braced myself and then quickly pressed my right fingers down on the sprigs, bunching them together and down. Instantly, pain radiated from my fingers as the plant seared my skin but I just gritted my teeth and did the quickest chopping of plants I've ever done. Mincing the pieces was less painful with only small sparks of pain when I accidentally touched the plant and soon I was able to scrape the minced chunks of the stupid plant into the pestle to be ground.
After I'd gotten it all in there, I took inventory of my hands. My left was mostly unharmed with only small blots of pink skin. My right however was definitely more damaged. The fingers were bright pink, bordering on red, which throbbed painfully.
I wasn't sure blisters were going to form but it was close thing and I felt a prickle of irritation that my gloves for herbology were too big and clumsy for me to have used them. Irrational to be angry at an inanimate pair of gloves but I felt that recent events granted me pardon from foolish reactions.
Anyway, with the wolfs bane ground up and carefully stirred into the cauldron, I took stock of the time left, which was just a little over ten minutes. Enough time for the potion to simmer to completion.
Which left me with the awkward "What-do-I-do-now?" problem considering I was surrounded by hostile people. I settled with cleaning my potions equipment meticulously.
I wiped down my silver knife, rinsed my mortar and pestle (taking care not to touch the stupid left-over powder), washed my cutting-board, and carefully closed up my vial and scales container since those particular pieces were fragile.
It's worth mentioning that the whole class session, the Slytherins had never stopped paying attention to my presence and Draco's stupid smirk had never left his face. The constant attention left an itch under my skin and I felt like a bug under a microscope, which did not sit well with me.
Comments were fine with me- people weren't exactly creative with them, but what I found out was really the problem with today was the ever-present eyes. I can handle being the center of attention, but then there's the center of attention and I wasn't exactly comfortable with that one.
The cleaning, despite my best efforts, did not take ten minutes so I sat all packed up except for the cauldron and test vial. So I sat waiting.
Which felt like what I had been doing the whole day, waiting for something I guess.
I eventually survived Potions and Charms, which almost as good as Transfiguration. Unfortunately that left Defense Against the Dark Arts. I took a moment, a few minutes before class started to get a breather, knowing I'd be facing Umbridge for the next hour and a half.
She's not scary, I reminded myself. You're not afraid of her.
She wasn't going to get the better of me again. I was going to sit quietly in her class, staring straight ahead, and continue to do so until the bell rang and I was free for another day.
So when class started, I felt moderately prepared and did my best to ignore the paranoia that was making the collar seemed tighter.
Seems like I was ignoring a lot of things today, but then again, that did seem to be my go-to for fixing problems. Ignoring them, hoping that they go away.
Yet, they never seemed to...
Anyway, class with Umbridge. Normally, in a word, awful. Today, excruciating.
Her gaze was piercing and lingered on the collar way more than I was comfortable with. I thought Draco had been a smug asshole but Umbridge had almost palatable waves of smugness coming off of her. The class, while normally pretty quiet, was even more so today, as if every one was waiting for another fight or confrontation.
But I still kept my head down, staring resolutely at my desk, memorizing the wood grains in it. It was hard to keep my shoulders from rising up somewhere near my ears, but I kept them loose for the most part.
The minutes ticked by slower than usual, I'm telling you. Fate was wanting me to go crazy.
… Maybe I'm being a bit over-dramatic.
I still got through the class though, by the skin of my teeth, but I digress. Harry and the gang headed to the library for some homework time but I still felt a bit riled up from all the constant attention and the less-then kind stares so I decided to head for the Room of Requirement where I knew I would get some alone time.
Along the way, George appeared, thankfully being his normal chipper self.
"Hello, Ace! I would ask how your day has been but I wager I can make a pretty decent guess so I'll save you the pain of reciting it." he said, grinning.
I just laughed a bit and nodded, "You'd probably be right, and I thank for you saving me from the horrible torment."
"So, to my next question, where might you, little miss, be going in the dark, creepy, nearly empty hallways?" George smiled before linking his arm with mine and leading me forward, the way I had been originally going.
"I was gonna head to the Room of Requirement since I can't seem to get any peace today." I answered. He made a sympathetic sound.
"Well, you won't get much peace if you go there- Fred's working on shop-stuff." he said, "Sorry to take your sanctuary."
I was a bit let-down that I couldn't be alone but hanging out with Fred right now would be the second best thing. "That's okay. I guess I can hang out with him for a while." I made a big huffing noise, like it'd actually be a problem.
But then, an actual sigh came out, one that wasn't for humor. George stopped me by putting his hand on my shoulder, making me look at him.
"Wanna talk about it?" George asked quietly.
I hesitated for a moment, but knew that talking might help.
"I'm tense from all the attention today. Hogwarts, when I first came here was amazing- I got friends, became happy... But now, I can't be alone in my own head and there's too much attention for me to be comfortable anymore.
"Plus, there's Umbridge and Draco and this damned collar and..." I sighed again, "I stayed because of your guys, got the collar so I could stay with you guys but there's still just a part of me that hates that Umbridge ruined what made me so happy. That part of me wants to leave." I stopped, not knowing how else to articulate my thoughts.
George immediately wrapped me into a hug and I gratefully sank into it. I knew from past experiences that he didn't smell like Fred but with the collar, I couldn't decipher what he smelled like and that made the hug a little less comforting.
"I understand how you could feel that way and I want you to know that we'll do everything in our power to help you and make you feel better even with Umbridge being here. Me and Fred are even staying to help out."
"Huh?" I pulled back at little bit, confused. "What do you mean you're staying? You were gonna leave?"
George looked sheepish. "Uh, yeah. We'd planned to make a break for it during exams, since we have money for the shop and decided that school wasn't really necessary anymore. But Fred and I decided to stay after what happened yesterday."
Suddenly, I was angry.
"You can't do that!" I said, stepping out of his embrace rather roughly. "I'm not going to be the thing keeping you here miserable with Umbridge! You guys had this planned, you can't just not go because I got found out!"
"Yes we can. We're not going to leave you here with her. As much as we trust the rest of the group, Fred and I would rather be here so we can help you feel better too!"
"George, it'll make me feel [i]worse[/i] knowing that I'm the thing keeping you from following what you want to do! I already feel so guilty for causing so much stress on you guys- I don't want this on my conscious as well!"
I felt shaken and so horribly guilty. My stomach was in cramps and I had trouble getting a good deep breath.
Forcing myself to look George in the eyes, I saw he was staring silently at me, with a searching expression of some sort.
"Please. You guys have to go- it'd make me feel better that at least some of my friends can't be hurt by Umbridge anymore. As much I want you two here so I can sit by you guys in front of the fire and not feel so shitty, I want you to show Umbridge she can't control all of us."
My words helped straighten my spine, and raise my chin. George and Fred were leaving, even if they didn't want to.
"You guys are going. Keep whatever was planned and be ready for it. I'm going to go yell at Fred and make sure he understands that you two are leaving."
I stared at George, until his searching expression smoothed out and he nodded, something in his eyes, I couldn't identify.
Then I turned on my heel, and left him in the hallway. It didn't take long to reach the Room of Requirement, the anger that was simmering now, keeping my pace steady.
Pushing the door open, I saw Fred in the potions room the Twins had shown me when I first was shown their merchandise. Fred was focused on the boiling potion in front of him, his cloak off and his sleeves rolled up to underneath his elbows. His forehead was shiny with sweat from the heat of the fire and his hair was mussed from his fingers probably running through it in frustration.
He finally noticed me, smiling quickly, before returning his eyes to watch the potion carefully.
"Hey, Ace. How are you doing this probably horrible day?"
"You have to go." I declared, ignoring his question.
An eyebrow raised and without looking at me, he smiled again, "Tut-tut," he jokingly reprimanded, "I was here first, so I have seniority."
Frustration bubbled up again, and I swiped my hand forward, "That's not what I meant!" I almost yelled at him. Startled, Fred finally looked away from the potion, probably realizing that I wasn't in a joking mood.
Which I wasn't.
"You have to go. With George. During exams. You have to leave like you had planned. I already talked to George about it and-"
"Whoa, wait a minute. George told you about us not leaving?" Fred cut me off, eyebrows drawing down in confusion.
"Yes!" I said, eyes narrowing. "You guys had it planned to leave during exams but then decided to stay after Draco told Umbridge about me. And I'm here saying, no, you guys have to go."
"No," Fred responded, "We don't actually." He straightened up from over the potion and turned to face me, obviously knowing this was going to turn into an argument.
"Yes, you do." I argued. "I refuse to keep you here, miserable, just so you can get me to laugh a few more time than I would without you."
That was a blatant lie. Fred and George almost always made me laugh hardest and most frequently. I loved all my friends but when it came to helping me laugh and not stick in my head so much, the Twins were the best at it.
Fred looked almost angry now. "We're staying to help you feel better- we're staying to help protect you. Draco and Umbridge and the rest of them are hostile and could try to hurt you." Why was he being calm about this.
"Fred, you guys not leaving would hurt me. I already told George I feel guilty- me being the reason for you staying would probably leave me feeling so guilty I'd throw up." I stalked towards him, stopping arms reach away.
"I know you want to stay and help, but knowing that you guys can't be hurt by Umbridge would make me feel better than I could say."
Looking at him, I could tell Fred was gearing up to argue more. I didn't know how to explain to him that I wanted them to be happy out of Hogwarts and starting their shop. That would make me happy. Knowing they're finally out of Umbridge's clutches, even though I knew I would still be here.
I'd rather have them happy out with a shop of their dreams, then stuck here just because they wanted to make me feel better.
I didn't know how to explain it- how to form the words that would convince Fred that I meant it, that I'd be happier with them gone, however awful that sounds.
Since no words were forthcoming, I did the only thing I could think of.
I kissed Fred with every ounce of feeling I had in my body at the moment. My frustration at him for not listening. My anxiety and my tiredness from the day bled over too.
It didn't take much effort to plaster myself to the front of his unresponsive body, to wrap my arms around his neck and stretch on my tip-toes.
And after a moment, a heart-beat where my frustration almost sparked into fear of him not returning the kiss, Fred jerked back into action.
His arms, wrapped around my back, pressing me tighter against him. His head tilted to the side, deepening the angle of our kiss while he leaned forward and put more power into it.
Fred's skin was almost feverishly hot from the heat of the fire and it erupted goose-bumps across my moderately chilled skin.
I refused to let him take over the kiss however, tightening my arms around his neck so I could hold it in place. His hands moved from around me, slipping under my button-up shirt, to the bare skin of my hips.
We kept trying to pull each other impossibly closer, making sure there was no empty space between us as we kissed.
His thumb rubbed up my hip-bone and startled I bit Fred's lip. He shuddered violently and his hands were suddenly red-hot clamps on my hips.
Things, however, were stopped short (probably a good thing) when I went to weave my hands into his hair, forgetting about my singed fingers.
I hissed out in pain and Fred immediately froze, hands going lax. We were both breathing hard and it was hard to think straight when Fred's eyes were dark, his cheeks a ruddy color, and his lips looked bee-stung.
It took me a moment to remember that my fingers were burnt and that's why my fingers had hurt trying to weave into his hair. I brought my right arm down from around his shoulders to inspect them.
Still red, like before, but no worse for the wear. Fred made a distressed sound and bent to press a careful kiss to the tip of my ring-finger.
"Apparently, touching wolfs bane when you're a werewolf can burn you." I said softly, explaining why they were burnt.
He looked up from my fingers, expression concerned, before leaning down gently, brushing a soft kiss to my lips. It was nothing like the fire before, but just a mere press of lips against mine that didn't speak of anything but comfort.
I sighed, and dropped my head to his neck, resting my cheekbone against hi pulse-point.
"Fred," I started into his neck, "please. I want you guys to go and start your shop and make little kids laugh with your pranks. School is over in a few months anyway and I'll have the Golden Trio and your sister and maybe others to have my back. If it'll make you feel better, I'll send you weekly letters saying I'm still alive and that I miss you two.
"But just please. You guys have to go." My right arm returned to around his shoulders so I could hug him tightly, willing him to understand. Fred just huffed and hugged me back, which I counted as a small victory.
"Bi-weekly letters and expect responses from both me and George. I also want the others to confirm that you're not hexed into the hospital wing or something."
I hid my relieved grin in his shoulder, but knew he noticed.
"No problem, just..." he pulled me back from the hug, looking straight at me, unwavering. "Be careful." he finally said.
Nodding, I promised.