"You were an altar boy, right?" she asks.

He nods.

He knows the battle of wits is about to start, and he isn't sure if he can handle it. She's a bitch. A cold, calculating, manipulative, brilliant, sassy, flirtacious bitch and he knows that he's going to lose before the argument even starts.

But he wins, really. Because she always feels guilty. Being mean comes so natural to her, but not without its price. Her quips are quick, witty, and biting to the core. His aren't. But what she says bites at her core, too: his victory.

"Tell me," she leans forward with a smirk on her lips and a fire in her eyes, "I've always wanted to know, are the rumors about the Catholic church true?" She tosses her dark hair over her shoulder and waits for his answer, an air of superiority surrounding her.

He cocks his head to the side, willing to at least hear her out so he knows how to attack her next. It's a precarious line he walks, in between flames and ice, brilliance and stupidity. They know how to hurt each other, but timing is everything.

"The ones about the priests and the altar boys?"

He very nearly sees red when she says that. Of course she would go after his religion. Of course.

"You wanted to be a priest once, didn't you?" she continues.

She dives straight to the most precious thing he's ever told her. She only does it because he did it first. He's got a big mouth. It's something that got him into the deepest trouble with her. Because he told something you don't ever tell. And now she hates him for it.

"Did that little career goal spring up before or after you had some get-to-know-you time with Father Patrick?"

It doesn't matter when it'd sprung up. It matters that it died when he realized that if God existed, He didn't give a shit about people. Oh, no, He didn't. He couldn't. Because if He did, this war wouldn't be happening. Innocent, good people wouldn't be murdered in their beds at night and his best friend would be able to come to school, not hide out in the woods.

But oh, God, he hates that voice of hers. That voice of hers that's so condescending, so I'm-above-you, so taunting. She knows exactly what she's doing: winding him up until she gets her fight, until she can hurt him just a little bit to get him back after all the hurt he's doled out to her.

"Even if I did, it'd be one more man than you've ever been with," he snaps.

He knows it isn't true. For fuck's sake, he saw her being fingered and very nearly fucked up against a wall by a seventh-year the other day. He's not sure why she did it, why she does any of it with anyone, really, as he can tell she doesn't get off on anything that guy does. Maybe it helps her to forget she's a bitch, forget she's cruel and cold, forget the hurt and pain and suffering going on in the world when her hands are down his pants and his are up her shirt.

But she doesn't rise to the bait, not really.

She smirks. Then she says, "You've been counting?"

And he knows he's done for. Because if he says no, then he admits that he knows she's been with a man, men, anyone for God's sake. And if he says yes, he's caught anyway.

So he goes on the offense.

He takes a step forward, lets his arm drift around her waist gently. He sees her eyes open wide, filled with what's very nearly fear; she's always hated to be touched. "Would you like me to count?" he whispers in her ear. She shivers.

Suddenly, he knows she's wondering how long the people around them have been standing there, watching their interaction. He doesn't blame them. This sort of fighting has been the same between them since third year. It's normal, something people try to hold onto in the middle of such a terrifying war and if a few of the younger children find comfort in the fact that at least something is the same, neither one of them are going to bedrudge the kids their hope.

And he knows, too, she's considering laughing it all off, the whole argument, because that's what she's always done: laugh off any embarrassment, anything that hurt, because she could never show weakness.

Except he knows her. He knows her, all too well for her liking. He knows she has weaknesses, and so many of them. She's a rebel with a sarcastic, biting outer shell and a center too warm and open-hearted for her liking. She wants to be harder, wants to make her heart out of stone so she can't be hurt, especially not by the Carrows, by the Death Eaters patrolling the school, by the terrible, horrendous people in the world beyond. Especially not by him, again.

Too bad they were once best friends. They used to tell each other secrets they just couldn't tell Dean and Parvati. He took her to the Yule Ball in fourth year, the year they'd been trying to be friends once again, but it just hadn't worked.

Now they're just too good at fighting. And taking comfort in that fact now that things've changed so drastically. Some things didn't change, though. They still fight, and they still take comfort in each other when things get too bad. Like when he gets so mad at his Da for leaving his Mam he just wants to punch something, for the Troubles and how he never wanted that life to come to the wizarding one. Like when she cries over her mother's suicide and her dad's alcoholism, her brother's abandonment. They know each other inside and out; it's good to have someone make you feel better who knows you that well.

But that smirk is back on her face, now, and he knows her mask is firmly in place once more. Her right hand travels gently up to his collarbone and she leans in close, so close; their lips are almost touching.

"Maybe," she whispers.

And he gives up. Because he knows that she's getting horny, now; fighting's always turned her on, and when she's drunk like this, she's liable to do anything with anyone.

And he doesn't feel like being a mistake, not tonight.

So he argues and he hurts her. He causes her bottom lip to tremble and her eyes to fill slightly. But the tears don't fall, and he knows he's the only one who can see them. He's really the only one who's seen the breakable girl, there.

He's pretty sure no one will ever see her again. Sad, but true. Because she's a sarcastic bitch, now. She protects herself from the outside, either mean or friendly, but never the latter towards him.

Because he just knows too much. And there's nothing she can do about it.

He wishes they could go back to being best friends.


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