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Sugar Dumplin'

Chapter Text

It wasn’t really Hannah’s fault she got suspended.

Okay, it 100% is her fault…

but that no good son of a bitch, dull as dishwater, Patrick Thomas had it coming.

 

They were standing as usual in the hallway, Millie getting things from her locker before Hannah would walk her to class. Looking like the oddest pair of- something with Hannah in her ripped black jeans and Millie in a periwinkle dress and pink sweater. Hannah was leaning up against Millie’s locker, only half listening as the energetic girl buzzed about her needlepoint class, now that she’d actually joined one. Hannah was trying to pay attention, honest, but Millie had this little strand of hair that escaped her ponytail that kept falling into her pretty, smiling face as she prattled on about the new embroidered butterfly throw pillows she was making. Hannah reached out, more on impulse, and tucked the strand behind Millie's ear, fingers lingering indulgently by the girl’s ear. Millie’s grin turned softer, the faintest blush dusting her cheeks as she thanked Hannah before rushing back into her story. Hannah’s insides melted faster than a bowl of butter left in the sunshine on a June day. So Hannah was too preoccupied with trying to control her own flushed cheeks as Millie went on about the throw pillows to notice Patrick Thomas coming up behind Millie.

Patrick gave out a low whistle, eyes fixed on Millie’s butt. Hannah’s little closed lipped half smile dissolved into her usual scowl.

“Ooooweee! If ain’t the BIG miss beauty queen.” Patrick cat called as he mimicked Hannah’s stance of learning an arm against the lockers behind Millie. “Looking mighty fine for a pig in a pink dress.”

Hannah grit her teeth. “Mind your manner before I mind them for you.”

Millie gave Hannah a pleading look before giving to Patrick a nod of acknowledgment. She quickly fetched her books from her locker and closed it. She looked down to the floor then grabbed Hannah’s hand to drag the punk girl away before the short haired girl murdered somebody.

Hannah let herself be pulled away but threw a sneer over her shoulder.

“Aww, ain’t even gonna spare me a word? What I ain’t good enough to be graced with your conversation, Beauty Queen?” Patrick leered as he followed directly behind the girls. “You know I wasn’t sure what was so pretty about you to deserve to be up on that stage, let alone second place.”

Hannah was about turn around to bark something back when Millie gently squeezed her hand, murmuring softly. “Let it go, Han. It’s alright.”

Patrick, feeding on Hannah’s rage, kept going “But now that you’re walking away I can see it; your ass gotta mighty fine jiggle. And personally, I love a good booty, none of that flat Barbie bull shit. I mean, an ass like you’re just is dying to be squeezed and spanked!”

To articulate his point, Patrick leaned forward and grabbed a handful of Millie’s ass.

Which is when Hannah lost it.

Before Hannah could even blink, she lunged at Patrick and pinned him to the floor of the hallway where she repeatedly punched his face, taking extra enjoyment in the fact that she wore rings on her fingers today which were cutting into his cheeks.

“Stop it!” Millie cried, pulling on Hannah’s raised fist but Hannah just yanked her arm outta her friend’s grasp to keep hitting Patrick. Millie’s pleas were slowly getting drowned out by the sound of the bell blaring and by the small mob that was forming around the fight, kids pushing Millie out of the way to get closer and take videos.

“What is going on here?!” Mrs. Hall asked as she weaseled her way into the circle around Hannah and Patrick. “Mrs. Perez, get up this instant!”

Hannah got another punch in before she stopped. Millie rushed forward as the crowd dispersed and kids fled to their classrooms. Millie helped Hannah stand up from her seat on Patrick’s chest. Her arms enveloped Hannah into a hug, and Hannah struggled to return it without putting her bloody hands on Millie’s pastel pink cardigan.

“Ms. Perez, principal’s office! NOW!”

“She just went crazy! I didn’t do anything!” Patrick whined from his puddle on the ground.

“Mr. Thomas, go to the nurse's station to get cleaned up but then report to the principal’s office. Fighting is against school regulations! We will get to the bottom of this!” Mrs. Hall snipped as one of the jock’s helped Patrick off the floor. “Ms. Mitchellchuck, I believe you have a class to go to.”

“But I-”

“It’ll be fine, Mils,” Hannah assured as she followed Mrs. Hall to the principal’s office.

 

Yeah. Hannah got suspended for two weeks and would have a weeks worth of detention after that. Not that she regretted any of it.

When she got out of the principal’s office Hannah was surprised to see Millie standing outside playing with the straps to her pastel backpack as she waited for her. Hannah’s own backpack that she dropped earlier was at Millie’s feet. “You skipped?”

“Course I did! What happened?” Millie asked, handing Hannah her things.

“Suspension.” Hannah shrugged.

“Jesus.” Millie cursed before looking down apologetically. “I’m sorry, this is all my fault-”

Hannah reached forward and grabbed Millie’s hand. “Don’t say that! It is not your fault at all, it’s that no good bastard’s fault! I wish I had broke that no good-”

“Oh my gosh, your hands!” Millie gasped as she raised Hannah’s hand higher to inspect the girl’s torn up knuckles.

“It’s fine.” Hannah dismissed trying to pry her hand out of Millie’s but Millie held on tight.

Ever so gently, Millie pulled Hannah down the hallway to the girl's bathroom. There she gestured for Hannah to sit on the counter while she went over to wet some paper towels. Very softly, Millie raised Hannah’s hand up to her face to inspect it and carefully took off all the rings to expose the bruised fingers. She tenderly cleaned off all the dried blood, both from Hannah’s torn up knuckles and Patrick’s bloodied nose. She looked so intently as she worked and handled Hannah with such a softness, Hannah wondered if anyone had ever touched her so carefully before. Millie handled her like something precious. Hannah; the girl that only ever wore black, lived in combat boots, took Karate and Jujitsu, and been suspended twice already for fighting. Hannah was the least soft girl probably in the whole town and everybody had always treated her as such. Cause Hannah wasn’t some porcelain pageant girl doll, she didn’t crack when people were rough with her. And she generally loathed any notion that people had to be delicate with her just because she was a girl. She was a fiery ball of rage that could beat anybody into the ground and she let you know it. Still, this was nice…

“I’m not gonna break ya know,” Hannah grumbled trying to beat away the fuzzy feeling enveloping her chest not wanting to admit that she liked being fussed over.   

“I know,” Millie said, voice only above a whisper as she put Hannah’s hand down and went to rummage through her backpack. “You’re tough. The toughest person in Clover, but you that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a little gentleness now and then.”

Hannah swallowed and looked away.

Millie walked back over with a small first aid kit and slowly went about applying gauze to Hannah’s hands, sweetly humming a church hymn as she methodically worked. Hannah looked down and watched as Millie compassionately but firmly put on the bandages.

Millie tisked. “You shouldn’t be getting into fights-”

“He deserved it-”

“I’m not-”

“You’re worth it. For you, I could have put him in the ground.” Hannah admits staring as Millie put on Disney Princess Band-Aid’s on the minor cuts on her fingers were her rings had dug in. Hannah probably broke Patrick’s nose but after what he did she wishes she could have broken a lot more.

“Just promise me you won’t get into any more fights, Han. I don’t want you getting expelled.” Millie implored.

“I promise,” Hannah swore, not entirely sure she would be able to keep it.

But Millie’s smile, god it was so pretty. Her eyes just sparkled and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. Hannah had first seen it when Millie won the pageant but otherwise, Hannah liked to think that smile was just for her. Maybe if Hannah got into less trouble she’d see that smile more...

Millie worked for another minute and they sat in comfortable silence.

Finally, Millie looked up with a cheerily little grin “There we have it!”

Hannah, reluctantly, went to draw back her hand from Millie’s hold when Millie leaned forward slowly and carefully kissed Hannah’s knuckles. Hannah’s breath hitched and her eyes widened as Millie repeated the action to the other hand. Gently squeezing both of Hannah’s hands in hers, Millie looked back up sunnily announcing  “All better.”

Hannah had never been more grateful to be sitting down or else her knees would have surely given out. She quickly looked away, eyes fixed on the hand towel dispenser as she awkwardly cleared her throat and gave some kind of stuttered, flustered version of the word “Thanks”.

Millie just giggled, patting Hannah’s hands once more before she released them.

Hannah swallowed, opening her mouth but no words came out- she didn’t know what to say and then-

BRINGGGGGG….

Hannah’s phone went off firmly shattering whatever moment the two girls were just having. Hannah scrambled to retrieve her phone from her pocket. “Shit!” she cursed when she saw it was her momma’s name on the screen. Sighing, Hannah answered. “Hey-”

“Don’t HEY me missy! You are in for an earful, ya hear? Now where are you, I’m out front of the school!”

Hannah sighed again. “On my way.”

Hannah’s mom didn’t say anything else but just hung up which was probably worse... meant she was saving the big rant for the car ride home.

“Guess I’d better go.”

“Do you want me to come out there, maybe I could explain it to your momma that you were trying to help me-”

“Wouldn’t make much of a difference.” Hannah smiled ruefully. “But thanks, Mils.”

Millie nodded somberly, looking crestfallen that she couldn’t be more help as she grabbed her backpack.

“You should get back to class, you’re own Momma’s gonna give you hell for skipping as it is,” Hannah concluded as she walked towards the front of the school.

Millie nodded. “Talk to you later?”

You’re gonna be okay?

Hannah smiled, despite herself. “Yeah, Mils. Call ya’ tonight.”

Millie smiled, not the special smile, but a pretty one nonetheless.

 

Yeah, Hannah was in deep shit, but she’d do it again in a heartbeat.


Chapter Text

“Huh, Lee get a look at that,” Dale said, grinning like a cat who got the canary as he sat behind the bar at the Hideaway. Lee turned away from his Strawberry daiquiri to see what Dale was smirking at, on stage Millie was laughing leaning into Hannah as they danced. Hannah had the biggest, dorkiest smile on her face that Lee had ever seen on the punk girl as she ‘shook her ta-tas to get the raa-raas' (as Candee would put it) to make Millie smile. And smile the girl did, with the softest expression.

“Felt things here she never felt before here, she says, heh, I’ll say.” Lee chirped taking a sip of his drink.

Candee sashayed over to the bar smiling, “Are you guys seeing this?”

“Yes ma'am,” Dale simpers.

“Do you think they know?” Candee asked as he eased himself onto the bar stool.

On stage Hannah dipped Millie, the girl’s bubbly giggles filling the room. Hannah’s grin widened, unbelievably so, unquestionably different than the silent, angry stare everyone was used to seeing.

“If they haven’t figured it out already, they're about to,” Lee smirked. “The question is: who will make a move first?"

“My money’s on Ms. Hannah Banana.” Dale chimed in, eyes gleaming.

“I’ll take that bet! I have full faith in my ladybug!” Candee piped. “Lee?”

“Hmmm, I’ll let you two duke it out.”

“You’re no fun!” Candee whined. “What’s the winner get?”

“Hmm, first choice in Lucy’s wardrobe box?” Dale suggested.

“Lee already got the pick of the litter of those” Candee said. “What if when I win, you have to come out shoe shopping with me in full drag. I’m talking eyelash extensions, wigs, six-inch heels, and bustier. ”

“Jesus, shoe shopping with you! That could take years!”

“Exactly!” Candee singsonged.

“FINE! Well, when I win you have to give me a big speech singing my praise, which I will write and you have to do the Dolly show ALONE and not lip syncing! You have to sing alone in all your tone-deaf glory.”

“You got yourself a deal.” Candee agreed. “Wonder if anybody else has noticed…”

  

Ellen

 

In hindsight, Ellen was surprised she didn't see it sooner. She'd been so preoccupied with the pageant and her spat with Willowdean that she really didn't spend time with Millie and Hannah till afterward. It was a quiet Saturday night in late October and Ellen was on her way to pick up the girls. They were carpooling to the theatre to watch a reshowing of the 1970s Halloween. Ellen pulled up to Hannah’s house first for the punk girl hop into the front seat, kicking her feet up on the dashboard.

“Hey,” Hannah unceremoniously greeted.

“Get your feet off my dash, Han!” Ellen chastised smacking Hannah’s combat boots.

“Well hello to you too,” Hannah snickered but complied.

“Seatbelt!” Ellen reminded.

“Okay, mom.” Hannah teased.

Ellen rolled her eyes playfully, as Hannah leaned forward to flip through the radio stations.  

“God, all they play is damn country music or gospel around here! Can they play something other than ‘Fishing in the Dark’ on repeat? And I swear if I hear Johnny Cash and Family singing “Will the Circle be Unbroken” one more time I’m gonna stab somebody!” Hannah seethed.

“I got my Dolly CDs-”

“Nooo, no more Dolly Parton, please! It’s all you and Will listen to, I think I can recite every lyric to every song by heart now.”

“Here,” Ellen leaned forward and helped Hannah find a station playing Tchaikovsky Swan Lake. It was hardly Joan Jett or Metalica but it seemed to appease the short haired girl for the time being. While Ellen was leaning forward she caught the scent of something vaguely spicy but also sweet, she sniffed. “Are you wearing perfume?”

“Cologne.” Hannah shrugged, Ellen saw the hint of a blush on the other girl’s cheeks and she quirked a brow. “What?! Don’t look at me like that! I um- uh -just forgot to do my laundry and all my clothes still smell ripe from gym class.”

“Mmm.” Ellen acknowledged but she continued to study the short haired girl as they drove in relative silence.

They pulled up to Millie’s house next and Ellen was surprised when Hannah unbuckled her seatbelt and jumped out of the car.

Millie came out of the house, waving goodbye to her mom before she skipped down toward them. Ellen watched, feeling like she was intruding, as Millie let out a bubbly hello and gave Hannah a hug. Ellen had to keep her mouth from falling open as Hannah RETURNED THE HUG.

When they separated, Hannah walked forward and opened the front car door for Millie doing a mock little bow. “M’lady.”

Millie cutely giggled, cheeks tinted pink. “Thank you, sugar! Too sweet.”

Sugar?  Sweet?

There were many words that Ellen would use to describe Hannah: some not so nice like "Stubborn", and while the girl was never cruel, she could be "Insensitive" and "Rude". But of course, there were the many, many wonderful words that applied to Hannah like "Brave," "Strong," "Honest," "Loyal," and even "Kind" (in Hannah's own rough around the edges way).

But the words "Sugar and "Sweet" were certainly not in Ellen's descriptors of Hannah. Hell, Ellen doubted anyone besides Millie would use those words in regards to the rebellious teen.  

Hannah ducked her head to hide her smile as she crawled into the back seat of the Jeep but Ellen saw it.

Just as the last notes of the Swan Lake ended the radio announcer cut in “Alright listeners, that concludes our Classical Music hour. Just a reminder that the Little Miss Glamour pageant is this Thursday, be sure to pick up your tickets as it’s selling out fast! Up next we have Johnny Cash singing “Will the Circle be Unbroken.”

“Ooohhh! This is a good one,” Millie cheered as she turned up the radio and started to sing along softly.

Ellen glanced in the rearview mirror at Hannah who sat silently, not so much as a word of objection and the corner of her lips twitching up as her eyes fixed on the girl in front of her singing.

Huh.

~later~

Everything else was surprisingly uneventful in the fact that it felt normal… But Ellen was noticing little things that were normal that seemed to have bigger implications on closer inspection. For instance, Hannah always leaned in closer when Millie spoke and Millie always found little ways to touch Hannah like putting a hand on the shorter girls shoulder or patting her hand.

During the movie, Hannah threw an arm around Millie’s shoulder.

Ellen elbowed Will.

“Hey!” Will protested, shying away from Ellen’s bony elbows.

“Do you think-”

On the screen, Michael Myers jumped out from where he was hiding in the back of Annie’s car to strangle her. Millie screamed, drawing the attention of several other theatre patrons, before burying her face into Hannah’s neck. Hannah’s arm around the long-haired girl tightened and she moved to whisper reassurances into the girl's ear, too soft for Ellen to hear what Hannah was saying. Maybe "Sweet" wasn't too far off... at least as far as Millie was concerned. 

“El?” Will prompted.

Ellen couldn’t bring herself to comment on what she was seeing. It felt too private. “Nevermind.”  

Huh. Ellen thought as she eased back in her seat. Well, they’re pretty cute.

 

Bo

 

Four o’clock on Wednesday, just before the dinner rush at Harpy’s, and Bo was waiting eagerly for Willodean to show up for her shift. While he waited he was surprised to see Hannah and Millie show up in their usual booth. That wasn’t necessarily unusual on its own; it’s just that both Willowdean and Ellen work today and Bo hadn’t pictured Hannah and Millie, as the definition of polar opposites, to hang out on their own.

Bo didn’t pay them much mind as Marcus came up and took their order, instead focusing on flipping burgers. Willowdean should be here in the next fifteen minutes and Bo was planning on asking her to-

“Hey Bo, I’m just gonna go to the washroom. Be back in a minute!”

“Wait Will’s not here yet- Marcus what about the food?” Bo objected.

“I’ll be back soon!”

Bo sighed and got started on the two combos for Millie and Hannah which Marcus forgot to ring in. He glanced up from flipping burgers to see Hannah reaching across the table to boop Millie’s nose. The girl smiling at the action before playfully swatting across the table.

Huh. Okay…

The girls seemed to be engaged in some kind of conversation, a very different picture from the first time Bo had seen them at the diner. The first time, Millie had been on a sunny little rant about winning the pageant and Hannah looked like she was struggling not to smack the sunshine outta Millie. Bo hadn’t really ever thought they’d be friends and yet here the girls were and being very touchy-feely at that.

Bo turned down the heat on the grill, hoping he wouldn’t burn his burgers before he went behind the counter to set on making Millie’s usual strawberry shake and Hannah’s chocolate. Over at the table, Millie grabbed something out of her purse. It was wrapped up delicately in some purple tissue paper, and she handed it to Hannah with a hopeful smile. Bo put the food on the tray and got ready to serve, but he watched Hannah unwrap the unprompted present.

It was an iron-on patch that obviously Millie made herself in her needlepoint class. It was a slightly asymmetrical powder pink heart that had the words “Girl Power” embroidered in pretty cursive black letters.

Bo sucked in a breath. Oh no. Hannah was gonna hate it, and not only was she gonna hate it, but she was also gonna say something mean. And then Millie, poor sweet Millie, was gonna cry. And Bo wasn’t gonna stand for that. He didn’t care if Hannah was a girl, if she so much as said one word about this gift being stupid then Bo was gonna have to smack an apology outta her. Bo hadn’t had many interactions with Hannah but he’d heard enough about her from Will to know that Hannah hated anything resembling girly and had snide comments coming out the wazoo. Bo quickly put the milkshakes on the tray and marched over there, hell-bent on defending Millie from Hannah’s mean remarks.

Bo started to stomp over to the table just as Hannah looked up from the present, unaware of Bo’s looming, a big smile on her face with soft eyes. Bo sputtered.

“Aw Mils, It’s beautiful! Thank you, I love it.”

Wait what the fuck?

“Well, I know you got that hole in your backpack and I figured you could use something to patch it with- course I know pink isn’t usually your colour and I was gonna make a skull but I haven’t gotten really good at doing anything besides letters yet so- well there ya have it.”

“It’s perfect. I’ll put it on after I get home.” Hannah reached across the table and took Millie’s hand.

Bo actually stumbled back in shock. Had Hannah been replaced with an alien clone? What the hell was going on?!?!

At Bo’s movement, Hannah’s head jerked over though she didn’t let go of Millie’s hand.

“Hey Bo-zo, if you’re gonna gawk at us like a sideshow at least pay admission” Hannah quipped snidely, retracting her hand from Millie’s as she folded her arms across her chest.

Yep, there’s the Hannah that Bo knew.

“Here ya are,” Bo said before dumping the food on the table and walking back to the kitchen. Bo scrambled to flip the burgers which were looking a little too well done from sitting on the low heat for so long. When Bo looked back up Millie was tossing french fries into Hannah’s mouth. The two weirdos looking like best friends despite how strange they looked together- but ‘best friends’ didn’t feel like the right label for them... Sister? No. That wasn't it either...

Hannah leaned her elbows on the table and gave Millie this look. A look Bo was all too familiar with from personal experience with-

but that would mean-

Huh.   

 

Willowdean… and everyone else

 

It was a regular Saturday night at the Hideaway. The usual squadron of underaged kids was there, with Rosie Dickson chaperoning of course (though everyone working here knew the young teenagers already so the chance of them getting their hands on alcohol or into any kind of mischief was -500%).

The Dolly Party was coming to a close, Candee announced the last song for the evening would be “Islands In the Stream.”

Hannah and Millie were snuggled up at their usual table and Will had to do a double take when Millie’s lilac sweater found its way over Hannah’s bare cut-up black -t-shirt clad shoulders.

Huh.

Well, Will had other things to focus on, like the fact that her momma was giving Bo the evil eye after she caught them sneaking off to kiss during “Rockin’ Years”. I mean, what did Rosie think was gonna happen when Will got a boyfriend? That her first kiss would be at the altar? Ridiculous.

Anyway, at the start of the final number, Millie was dragging Hannah away from the table to get up and dance. Hannah was putting up a big show of dramatically groaning and flopping “reluctantly” behind Millie, faux-ly bemoaning the notion of dancing with the energetic girl. Millie just giggled and Hannah smirked, wrapping her arms around Millie’s waist as Millie plopped her hands on Hannah’s shoulders. Will followed suit, grabbing Bo’s hand and slugging him over to the dance floor with Ellen and Tim not far behind. Will pulled Bo close to dance with her, leaning her head on his shoulder but Bo, with the sight of Rosie’s notorious glare, quickly pushed her to dance an arm's length away to “leave room for Jesus.” Will just shot a glare of her own over at her mother.

Will looked over and saw that Millie, church-going Millie, was not leaving room for their lord and savior as she danced so close to Hannah that their middles were almost touching. Hannah seemed to be murmuring something into Millie’s ear which causes the girl to delightfully squeal “Han!” and bury her pink-tinged face in the shorter girl’s shoulder.

Which Hannah allowed?!

The other day, Callie patted Hannah’s shoulder and Hannah looked like she wanted to bite Callie’s hand right off! So Hannah snuggling with Millie was… unexpected? Or at least not how one would expect the two of them to interact. Then again one wouldn’t expect for Hannah and Millie to hang out, let alone dance, together in the first place.

Hannah and Millie’s foreheads were getting pretty close together, noses half an inch from brushing, the two looking intently on each other's faces and singing along to the words softly as if they were in a world all their own without half a dozen Drag queens lip-syncing or a bunch of bikers playing pool behind them.

No more will you cry, Baby, I will hurt you never. We start and end as one, in love forever. We can ride it together, uh-huh. Makin' love with each other, uh huh. Islands in the stream, that is what we are. No one in between. How could we be wrong? Sail away with me... 

Was it just Will or did the whole atmosphere of the room seem to change? A soft sweet heaviness settled over the dance floor. Before Will could observe more, Bo playfully gave Will a spin and a dip.

“Am I boring you? Or is your mind occupied trying to keep up with my phenomenal dance moves?” Bo teased as he pulled Will back up.

“Phenomenal? Ha! You wish!” Will goodnaturedly shot back. “Are you seeing this?”

“What? How pretty you look tonight?”

“Charmer.” Will rolled her eyes. “No, I’m talking about Millie and Hannah… they’re dancing closer than us right now.”

“Yeah well, neither of ‘em have a Momma watching ‘em that is likely to kill one of ‘em for getting too fresh.”

“Hey! It’s not like I asked her to come-”

“I know. I’m just teasing.” Bo chirped tightening his hands on Will’s hips reassuringly. “And yeah Millie and Hannah, I mean I would have never guessed but they are pretty adorable in a weird sort of opposites attract kinda-”

“Wait what? They're together? Like together together?”

“Yeah. Well I mean, aren’t they?” Bo genuinely asked.

Will opened her mouth to say more but then the song came to a close. The couples separated to give Candee and the other queens on stage a round of applause. Will watched as Hannah whistled at them and slotted her arm around Millie’s shoulders. Now that Will thought of it, Hannah had been doing that a lot, when had that become the new normal? Millie clapped along but her focus seemed to be stuck on Hannah like gum sticks to the bottom of your shoe.

Millie, almost looking like she was in a trance, leaned down and planted a kiss on Hannah’s cheek that was dangerously close to the other girl's lips.

Huh- Well actually, Will wanted to say she was surprised but somehow it felt very natural; like this was simply the order of events as they were always meant to happen. But then-

Hannah stopped.

Will sucked in a breath, worried that maybe they’d all read the situation wrong.

Maybe the smoke and glitter in the neon-lit air had them all seeing things before.

Hannah turned and her eyes peered into Millies like she was trying to find something. Her eyes were wide, blue eyes rimmed in smeared eyeliner frantically searching brown ones, mouth slightly parted. Will could only describe Hannah’s expression as one of utter shock. Like she just watched someone get run over by a tractor.

The queens started to go backstage but Lee and Candee paused to observe what would happen next, just as in suspense as Will was.

Millie paled as what she did finally sunk in, not helped by the fact that Hannah still hadn’t so much as breathed yet. “I’m sorry! It was an accident! Gosh, I didn’t mean to do that, honestly! I don’t know what came over me, it’s only just that well- It felt like the thing to do cause we’ve been- The dance- and the song- and your eyes and I thought that you might- with me- I’m sorry! I mean I like you, well a lot, but you don’t seem to... Goodness, I really did it now, didn’t I? Listen I won’t do it again, I promise!” Millie full on ranted, tears collecting in her Bambi eyes as she unhooked herself from the arm Hannah still had around her shoulders. “Please say something, Han.”

Hannah just made a vaguely strangled sound from the back of her throat.

She hadn’t so much as blinked.

The arm that had been around Millie lingered awkwardly in the air.

Totally. Utterly. Frozen.

A tear escaped Millie’s eye as she shook her head desperately. “Oh no! Please, please don’t be mad at me! I’ll- I’ll just see if I can catch a ride with Ellen and you can go Willowdean or I can go with Willowdean and you- whatever you want and we’ll see each other on Monday and we can forget this whole thing ever hap-”

Hannah's brain kicked back into gear, the punk girl rushed forward to grab both of Millie’s cheeks and haul her down for a kiss that seemed almost a little too aggressive at first as Hannah smashed their mouths together into a closed-mouthed kiss. Millie stood there, copying Hannah’s eyes-wide-in-shocked pose from moments earlier, before fluttering her eyes closed and making the kiss look a little softer if not less awkward. Millie’s hand came to gently rest on Hannah’s back.

“HA!” Candee cheered, rather loudly as the stage mics were still on. Causing everyone, except the newest happy couple, to sputter and look at him.

Meanwhile, the couple kept kissing, slow and sweet now. Though neither girl was super experienced at it and Millie tilted her head wrong causing their noses to bump. Millie went to pull away to apologize but Hannah followed her lips, not willing to let her go.

“Hannah, honey, you’re gonna have to let her come up for air at some point.” Lee teased as he hopped off the stage. Not that they paid him much mind.  

“Oh don’t encourage them! Common now girls! Break it up!” Rosie intervened stepping forward to gently pry them apart. “Kissing like that in public is no way for unmarried ladies to behave!”
Millie’s cheeks flushed, going through at least eleven different shades of pink and red in a quarter of a second as she pulled away gasping. Hannah just grinned, brushing the tear stain off Millie’s cheek, too pleased to react to Rosie’s comment about proper women’s behavior.

Lee avoided Rosie’s glare that read “Kissing in public is one thing but smooching for more than 3 seconds is another, how dare you endorse this, Lee?!” as he shimmied over to the bar.

Candee wasn’t far behind him.“So Dale, shoe shopping tomorrow, how does 1:30 sound for you? That give you enough time to do your nails?”

Behind the counter, Dale groaned. “Well, Hannah initiated the kiss-”

“Only after Millie kissed her first AND said, I quote now, sugar: ‘I like you’. We didn’t say nothing about who kisses who on the lips first: our bet was about the feelings and Millie acted first so tough luck, big boy you’re gonna have to put on a dress to go shopping for heals with me!”

Dale, strictly a tailor and not a model of Drag fashion, just grumbled as he went about to make some more drinks. “Yeah well… they work pretty well together though, don’tcha think?”

“Yeah, they really do.” Lee smiled.

They watched as Hannah reached up for another peck of Millie’s lips which, turned into another peck on the lips and then on the nose, cheeks, forehead, eyelids, chin, then the cheeks again causing both girls, not just Millie, to giggle. All the while Rosie clucking complaints at the girls halfheartedly.  Before pulling away, Millie pecked Hannah's nose and suddenly Hannah broke Millie’s record for blushing as the shorter girl seemed to turn fifteen shades of pink all at once, still grinning though even after Will and Ellen started making mock kissing faces behind them.

Dale snorted. “I think Millie just broke Hannah.”

Rosie was trying to corral the girls out of the bar, claiming that it was much too late for any respectable young lady to be out and that they all needed (mainly she needed) her beauty sleep. Hannah couldn’t stop grinning as she stepped behind Millie to help her with her coat, like a proper Gentle-woman. Then Millie lifted her hand to rest on Hannah’s cheek briefly as thanks, Hannah leaned into the contact letting out a pleasant hum that undoubtedly would have embarrassed the girl if circumstances were not different. With that the girls left, fingers lacing together as they waved goodbye to the three men at the bar. 

Dale waved back, a little envious of them, and more than a little upset that he’d lost the bet; but seeing those girls happy lifted Dale’s heart (almost) enough to get him through the thought of shoe shopping with Candee.


Chapter Text

Hannah cupped her hands in front of her face and exhaled to try and check (for the fifth time) if her breath smelt. She’d had brushed her teeth (twice) before going to Millie’s house but she’d eaten curry for lunch and she was paranoid that her breath still smells like coriander spice. She fidgeted with the strap to her backpack. She was standing on Millie’s front step, trying to get the nerve to ring the doorbell.

Normally, Hannah would just stroll right in, kick off her shoes at the door, and waltz right up to Millie’s room to flop on her bed. Millie would enthusiastically rise from her desk and greet her and the two would chat, eat snacks, and do homework until about quarter to six; right before Millie’s parents came home. Hannah would quickly pack up her stuff and bolt out the door before either Mr. or Mrs. Mitchellchuck came home. On a day where Hannah wasn’t so organized in her planned exit (usually cause she got sidetracked talking to Millie and staring dreamily into those pretty brown eyes), she’d try her hardest to politely make small talk with the adult Mitchellchucks before “regretfully” saying she needed to get home and beeline outside.

It wasn’t that Hannah didn’t like Millie’s parents... per se.

It was that Millie’s parents didn’t like her.

The negative energy towards Hannah radiating off the Mitchellchucks was palpable.

They thought Hannah was a bad influence on Millie.

That Hannah would make Millie’s grade’s slip, that she’d introduce Millie to drinking and drugs, sneak Millie out to parties, get her to stop believing in Jesus, that she’d make Millie a feminist or (god forbid) gay.

And that of course was ridiculous.

Cause Hanah would never do any of those things (okay besides the last two…)

And it was hard to be around that amount of negative energy. While Millie’s mom was considerably more lenient; allowing Millie to be around the gays at the Hideaway, it was strictly a “toleration” and not an “endorsement.” Cause Millie’s mom didn’t have any problem with homosexuals… provided that her daughter isn’t one.

Which brings Hannah to the here and now… standing for the last five minutes on Millie’s porch trying to get the courage to ring the bell and wondering if she should cancel last minute and book it down the block before anyone sees her.

Millie had invited Hannah to a sleepover at her house.

And Hannah had stupidly, stupidly accepted.

Damn it, Millie could talk Hannah into anything, a scary thought that had haunted Hannah on many a sleepless night. Cause Hannah meant ANYTHING.

Hannah didn’t even think about it when she accepted the invite, Millie had just looked so hopeful and then she was positively beaming when Hannah agreed to come over. The slightly taller girl had rushed forward to grab Hannah into a big hug, gushing about how they could paint each other’s nails and watch movies and talk all night long. Hannah had never really been a sleepover kinda gal but seeing Millie so happy was worth the try but...

There was no escaping the Mitchellchucks.

It was only 6:30 on a Friday which meant that Hannah would have to eat with them and have them (undoubtedly) linger to make sure Hannah hadn’t brought “the marijuana” or “the crack” to the house. God, if Hannah stayed she was doomed to be treated like a three-headed monster.

However, if Hannah stayed she was also going to be treated to Millie’s smiling face, her pretty laugh, maybe even get a hug or two.

To stay or not to stay, that is the question…

Hannah stole herself a deep breath before bringing a shaky hand up to ring the bell.

No backing out now.

Instantly, Hannah heard Millie’s excited footsteps rushing for the door. Hannah felt a little smile tug at her lips at the sounds of the other girl’s excitement. Not a half second later Millie threw open the door and positively beamed. “Hannah you came!” The slightly taller girl continued forward and wrapped her arms around the punk girl.

Hannah hugged back, slightly awkwardly patting Millie’s shoulder but losing herself in the comfort of the embrace nonetheless. The butterflies in Hannah’s stomach were slightly undercut by the feelings of guilt, Millie’s exclamation of “You came” ringing through Hannah’s head. Did Millie think Hannah wouldn’t show up? Had people canceled on Millie before? Course this was not helped by the fact that Hannah had seriously considered bailing on this plan only moments before- but what was the reason for that again? Not a single thing came to mind as Millie pulled back (much to Hannah’s disappointment and barely contained pout) to grab Hannah’s hand (much to Hannah’s happiness and uncontained smile) to drag her inside.

“Ooh, I’ve always wanted to have a sleepover! This is gonna be so much fun! I got out a bunch of movies from the library, mostly the classics like Sixteen Candles but I know that not your thing so I also got out some horror movies too, though you might have to hold my hand during the really scary bits! But I’m so excited that you’re here I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep anyway so I’m not too worried about that and OH! I thought we could braid each other's hair. Is that what girls do at sleepovers? That’s what they do on TV anyways, do each other’s nails, makeup, and hair. Maybe you can teach me how to do eyeliner later? I don’t know how Candee and Lee do it! I swear, I tried to practice yesterday but I nearly done poked my eye out! And I got a whole bunch of candy from the store and we can make popcorn and-”

Hannah grinned. Millie was right about one thing, sleepovers weren’t really her thing.

But god, how Millie was smiling! Face nearly split in half with the size of her smile! Eyes shining brightly and the prettiest, warmest color of brown Hannah had ever seen. Like melted chocolate. And the feeling of Millie’s hand in hers, warm and soft, making Hannah feel all warm and tingly with her toes curling in her socks as she followed Millie to the kitchen.

“Who’s at the door?” Mrs. Mitchellchuck called she was leaning over the stove mashing potatoes.  

“Hannah!” Millie happily replied.

“Oh.” Was Mrs. Mitchellchuck’s only response. “Her.

Hannah felt her shoulders tense and bit back a groan.

It begins.

In Hannah’s most polite, albeit slightly strained voice, she said. “Hello, Mrs. Mitchellchuck. How are you doing today?”

“Fine.” The older woman grunted.

“Can we go upstairs, Momma?” Millie asked, not picking up on the tension in the room in the slightest as she excitedly bounced on the balls of her feet. Hannah quirked a brow. Did Millie need permission?

Mrs. Mitchellchuck did a stern nod of her head. “Dinner’ll be ready soon.”

“Kay!” Millie singsonged before gently tugging Hannah back through the living room and up the stairs. Hannah let a long breath out as soon as Millie shut the door. “What do ya wanna do first?”

Hannah didn’t get to respond as Mrs. Mitchellchuck’s shrill voice rang out “Keep your door OPEN, Millicent!”

Hannah flopped on the bed and rolled her eyes.

This was gonna be a long, long evening.

 

Dinner was called not but ten minutes later. Hannah begrudgingly dragged herself from the sanctuary of Millie’s pink bedroom to the kitchen table where the Mitchellchucks' were poised like they were Archangel Michael bout to pass judgment on Hannah’s soul.

Hannah swore Mr. Mitchellchuck was 10 feet tall as he sat at the head of the table.

They ate in relative silence with only Millie gently prattling on about school. Millie's older brothers were both at work, unable to deter the tension with talks of football, so it truly was just the four of them. Sitting intensely around the table. Picking at their food. Oh, Joy. 

Hannah barely paid attention to Millie as she felt herself whither under the stare of others. Hannah hated this. She wasn’t a self-conscious person, sure she got a little nervous with public speaking and all that but Hannah was pretty sure she had never been judged as harshly as she was being judged right now. She could feel Millie’s parents taking everything in from her smudged eyeliner, her piercings, her dark clothes, her short hair, to the slouch in her back. Hannah was the girl who could usually take all this, from the kids at school, the pageant directors, and the fuck- the whole town. Right now she wanted to bolt from the table.

But she couldn’t.

Cause Millie was so fucking important to Hannah and the rebellious girl wanted the Mitchellchucks to like her despite everything. There was some deep, futile wish in Hannah’s heart that Millie might come to care for Hannah the way that Hannah cares for her. And if that happened then Hannah would want the Mitchellchucks to accept them, which includes them accepting Hannah.

Which wasn’t going to happen, for many reasons, but least of all if Mr. Mitchullchuck’s scrupulous glare was anything to go by.

“Hannah is it?” Mr. Mitchellchuck’s voice called out, a loud booming sound that echoed as it cut Millie off from her story about English class.

“Yes, sir.” Hannah nodded, trying not to let her anger show. Mr. Mitchellchuck and Hannah had been introduced at least five times now after all. Hannah forced her jaw to relax as she looked up to meet the man’s stare, even if it felt like rising to a challenge that she was not prepared to fight.

“What’s your grades like, Perez?”

“Fairly good, sir.”

“Yeah?”

“Oh yes, dad” Millie chimed in. “Hannah’s really smart! She helps me so much with-”

Mr. Mitchellchuck lifted his large hand up to cut Millie off. Hannah didn’t like that. “So mostly As, then?”

“Actually, yes.” Hannah felt her cheeks turn heat up. Mr. Mitchellchuck’s aggressive tone was firing her up.

“But not all As?”

“No, sir.”

“What else then?”

“Got a B in pre-Calc, and- not as well in gym.”

“And why is that?”

Hannah felt trapped, she knew what he wanted her to say. She currently had a D in gym because she only attended class maybe once or twice a week. She hated gym. None of her friends were there and she was stuck with Callie and Becka and all the other plastic girls who pretended to be nice to her face but talked badly about her behind her back and made fun of the way she looked as Hannah wasn’t the drop-dead gorgeous, slim, long-legged beauty queen like them. So Hannah cut gym class. And since gym was her last period of the day, Hannah just went straight to the public the library instead before she’d go to Millie’s after school. But that didn’t matter, what mattered was that she was skipping school at all and, therefore, was a bad influence that is not worthy of being around Millie.

Millie quickly swooped in, looking back and forth between Hannah and her parents. “Dad, please-”

“No! I wanna hear this.” Mr. Mitchellchuck leaned forward, eyes narrowed. Hannah couldn’t help the way her jaw set as the man cut Millie off again. “What’s the matter, Perez? Sports not your thing?”

“As a matter of fact, no, they aren’t sir.”

“Sure, you’re not skipping?” The man asked rhetorically, eyes gleaming triumphantly. And FUCK Clover for being such as small town where everyone talks.  “Going to the library?”

“Well Dad, even if she is, the library is hardly a horrible place-” Millie started.

“It’s where the druggies go! They hide their stashes in the books! I’ve seen it! How could you be so stupid, Millicent?! You brought a criminal into my house!”

“Don’t you call her stupid! And I’m not a criminal! I don’t do drugs, I go there to study!” Hannah barked back. 

“Liar!” Mr. Mithcullchuck bellowed, face going red. “I don’t believe you. You are just some druggie dyke who’s trying to take advantage of my daughter! You think I don’t know what you are? What the whole town knows what you are? You’re some worthless punk who’s not fit to breath the same air, let alone sit next to decent people like my family! You think everyone doesn’t know about the sick thoughts you have about my daughter?! Well, I won’t stand for a perverted-”

“That’s enough!” Millie cried out, slamming her hands down on the table hard enough that the dishes rattled.

“Millicent!” Mrs. Mitchellchuck objected but Millie didn’t let her speak.

“No Momma,” Millie insisted in a powerful voice that Hannah had never heard before. “You’re wrong, both of you are wrong to treat her this way! Hannah is a good person, who always is there for me and supports me and I won’t have you two disrespecting her! And so what if she’s gay, that is if she is gay? That doesn’t make you evil and nor does the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, or the movies you watch or shoot even if you skip gym class sometimes! There is nothing wrong with any of that! I don’t care about that, I wouldn’t care if she was a burnout either! Cause she’s amazing! She’s sweet, kind, smart, loyal, and the best friend I’ve ever had for always and I love her!”

Hannah’s heart stopped. She felt the breath leave her lungs.

She’s amazing. The best friend I’ve ever had for always and I love her.

Always. 

I love her. I love her. I love her.

Did Millie ever look as beautiful as she did right now? Eyes dark and sharp with her brows furrowed, shoulders squared. Millie was so strong, in ways Hannah always wished she could be. Millie with her determination and bravery could fight any battle and win. So sweet and kind but also fierce.

Hannah had to bite her lip from calling out an “I love you” of her own, one very different than the one Millie had just shared.

The Mitchelchucks tensed but no one said anything. Mr. Mitchellchuck bristled and Mrs. Mitchellchuck just looked down shamefully into her mashed potatoes.

Millie took in a deep breath, voice calming down and shaking slightly like she was pained with what she said next. “You both have been so cruel to her, and she doesn’t deserve it. You should both apologize but I know you won’t… not yet anyway. But I know, if you took the time to get to know Hannah that you’d come around. Just like I think you’ll come around on a lot of things, even people who are gay. Cause love is- well it’s way more important than this hatred you both have. Why can’t you see that?" A melancholy quiet settled over the kitchen, Millie sighed before she continued, "I think Hannah and I should go upstairs now. Please, don’t talk to us lest it’s for an apology.”

With that, Millie grabbed her plate with one hand and took Hannah’s hand with her other. Hannah absently grabbed her own plate and let Millie guide her back up the stairs, not entirely sure what just happened.

Hannah was thankful for Millie’s hand to ground her as she made her way up the stairs. One foot at a time. Brain reeling.

Millie stood up for her.

Millie stood up for her against her parents.

Hannah tried to think back of a single time anyone had ever done something close to something like that for her. No one had ever. That’s why Hannah needed to be tough, that why she needed black eyeliner and karate classes ‘cause no one was going to stick up for her and yet-

Best friend. 

Always. Always.

I love her. I love her. I love her.

The words danced in Hannah’s mind, spinning and twirling in a loop mimicking the pleasant turning of her stomach. 

Hannah may have just got verbally harassed by Millie’s parents but Hannah had never felt so safe and loved. It made her vision blur, her brain go blank, her chest feels light. Sometimes Hannah was so in love the world felt like it melted away.

The fog around Hannah’s brain cleared as Millie closed her bedroom door, letting out a sigh as she leaned against it. Millie gave Hannah’s palm a squeeze before letting it go, eyes soft and so apologetic. “I’m so, so sorry, Han. I didn’t think they’d dig into you like that, honest.”

“Fuck, Millie don’t be sorry! What you just did, what you just said back there- no one has ever stood up for me like that!”

“Well I still feel bad, I invited you over, you get here and not half an hour into being here they decide to yell at you!”

“Well yeah, that’s pretty shitty of them,” Hannah agreed. “But I didn’t come here for them, I came here for you. And you- you stood up for me, Millie. Thank you.”

“Well, I would do it again. Just like I know you would do it for me.” Millie’s gave a small smile, a little sad but still so warm. “Now, why don’t I get some movie set up on my laptop and we can spend the rest of the evening up here?”

Hannah’s lips tugged up in a gentle smirk. “Sound perfect, Mils.”

 

Unsurprisingly, the Mitchellchucks never did make it upstairs to apologize.

Hannah couldn’t care less.

They watched Sixteen Candles, Clueless, and Mamma Mia.

They had tried to watch The Exorcist but Millie freaked out, hiding in a nest of pillows and stuffed animals on her bed as she begged Hannah to turn it off.

They ate too much candy.

Hannah let Millie french braid her bangs.

They painted each other’s nails; Hannah’s were midnight black and dark purple while Millie went for cotton candy blue and sunshine yellow.

They talked for hours.

Talked about nothing; favorite colors, personality quizzes, friendly gossip, music, and longing for summer days.

And they talked about everything: painful memories, fears, dreams, future plans, college in a couple years, and secrets.

They made plans for road trips, some with the whole group and some just for the two of them: Dollywood for Willowdean, a sunny beach holiday with Ellen, Disney Land for Millie, and of course the usual travel the world and see the sights from New York to Hong Kong. 

Before they knew it was 2 am and Millie was fading fast. Murmuring softly about something with only the barest traces of coherence as the long-haired girl fought to keep her eyes from drooping closed.

At some point, both of them had changed into pajamas and brushed their teeth to crawl under the covers.

Now they were both lying in Millie’s slightly too small bed. Hannah kept her back to the wall, she felt slightly self-conscious without her makeup on, in her sleep shorts, and about sharing a bed with Millie.

The other girl was still drop-dead gorgeous without her makeup on and in her peach-pink nightgown. Dark hair fanning over the pillow, skin smooth and glowing in the moonlight from the window.

Hannah must have looked a mess in comparison.

Also, Hannah had never shared a bed before. And what if she snored? Or if her feet were cold? Or she stole all the blankets? Or she bothered Millie? What happened if Millie did any of those things? Inside, Hannah felt herself screaming. Millie wasn’t the only one who had never had a sleepover before… Hannah flattened her back against the wall, trying to make as much room as possible between them.

“And I think that really those black cats get a bad rap, ya know? It’s the witch thing- but they didn’t do anything- it’s silly. *yawn* They’re cute too, not unlucky and *even bigger yawn* they- they are so fluffy-  with their cute lil paws and their- their… what was I saying, again? Oh yeah, never met a cat I didn’t like. Black, hairless, or otherwise.” Millie mumbled sleepily into her pillow.

And just like that, the nervousness was gone. Hannah giggled as she fondly rolled her eyes. She might be still too keyed up to sleep but dang it if Millie wasn’t the cutest thing Hannah had ever seen. And Hannah was never too anxious to tease her best friend “You tired, Mils?”

Millie just murmured something resembling a no.

“Sorry Mils, I don’t speak sleepy.” Hannah chirped, poking Millie’s cheek.

“M’not sleepy.”

Hannah snorted watching as Millie’s eyes fluttered closed, lashes fanning her cheeks. “Ya sure bout that?”

“Mmm,” Millie hummed. “Positive. Not tired. Wanna talk to you s’more.”

Hannah was grateful for the dark of the room for containing her flush, her insides were all gooey. “I think you need to go to sleep.”

“But I’m not tired.” Millie sleepily whined before yawning again.

“Okay then,”  Hannah whispered, this moment was just for them and not the Mitchellchucks down the hall... even if it was just about cats. “So what’s this about cats?”

Millie tried to talk again for a little while, Hannah contributing too but mainly enjoyed listening to Millie’s honey-smooth voice as it got a little more high pitched in her sleepy state. After a while, Hannah’s eyelids started to get heavy too, the clock reading that it was almost 3 am.

“Alright, Mils. I think it’s time to go to bed.”

This time Millie didn’t fight. “M’night Han. Sweet sleep...”

Hannah shook her head fondly and let her eyes fall closed as she smirked into her pillow. “Night, Millie.”

“Love you…” Millie purred quietly.

Hannah’s eyes shot open.

Millie was already asleep.

Hannah felt her pulse spike again. She watched as Millie instantly went into a deep sleep, breaths coming out in even waves, and rosy lips twitching every so often like she was talking in her dreams. Hannah lost track of how long she kept awake for, not willing to move even to glance over Millie’s shoulder at the clock.

“Love you too, Mils,” Hannah whispered softly into the darkness before she forced her frigid arms to relax and clamped her eyes closed. Wishing for nothing more than to dissolve into the mattress…

 

Hannah could sense the sunlight through her closed eyelids but she was too warm and comfortable to move. Something tickled her nose, her legs were caught in the blankets, she had a mysterious wet spot on her shoulder, and her left arm was cramped but she didn’t mind. She was staying right where she was.

She’d been having the best dream, Millie and she were on a summer picnic date on a checkered blanket on a hill, under a tree, near a strawberry patch. Millie’s head was in Hannah’s lap and they just chatted and fed each other jam sandwiches and sipped iced tea. Everything was warm sunshine, strawberry and whipped cream scented air, and giggles. In the dream, Hannah was able to lean down and plant a sweet kiss on Millie’s lips. They were dating. And they could cuddle and nobody cared and there were no parents to disprove and everything was so soft and sweet and perfect.

So no, Hannah wasn’t gonna move. She was gonna stay right here and get back to dreaming about Millie in her arms-

She felt something move under her chin and something cold press against her neck.

Hannah groaned, squeezing her arms around a pillow tighter to hide her face in the top of it. Tigger, her cat, must have gotten into her room last night and… wait… she wasn’t home… she was at Millie’s… so what was-

Hannah blinked her eyes open.

At first, she didn’t understand as she was expecting to see Millie’s sleeping face beside her or else Millie’s bedroom wall.

Instead, Hannah was gaze fell on the side of the bed Millie had been on which was now empty. Okay… Millie must have gotten up first and was probably downstairs getting some breakfast. But Millie didn’t have a cat or any pet (besides a goldfish named Mr. Bubbles) so then what was moving that woke Hannah up…

Hannah looked down slowly to see that she was not, in fact, snuggling one of Millie’s many pillows, but was, in fact, holding a sleeping Millie. Hannah blinked, sleep stricken brain not quite comprehending what she was seeing. One by one everything clicked into place:

  1. The slumbering girl had her head carefully tucked under Hannah’s chin.
  2. Hannah’s nose and her left hand were buried in Millie’s strawberry-shampoo scented hair.
  3. Hannah's right arm was pinned under Millie and was wrapped around the taller girl's waist.
  4. Millie’s cold nose nuzzled into Hannah’s neck.
  5. Hannah could feel every movement Millie made, including each rhythmic breath that tickled her skin. 
  6. Millie was drooling slightly which had created the wet patch on the space between Hannah’s collarbone and shoulder.
  7. Millie’s warm hands were gently resting on Hannah’s lower back.
  8. Their bare legs were tangled, slightly awkwardly with the height difference and Hannah's long, bony legs.
  9. Millie’s toes were curled sweetly into Hannah’s calf.
  10. They were cuddling….

Hannah jolted, a horrified squawk rumbled from her throat.

Millie groaned softly, burying her face deeper into Hannah’s collarbone. “M’five more minutes.”

Hannah sucked in a stuttered breath… okay, Millie was still asleep.

All Hannah had to do was carefully extract herself from the sleeping girl and no one would be the wiser. Fuck, Hannah didn’t want to move. She wanted to nestle back in and pull Millie impossibly closer and have a lazy Saturday in bed before she could see Millie gently open her eyes and Hannah could kiss her forehead and whisper a “good morning” into the other girl's skin…. which was just a dream and it was never gonna happen. What could very well happen was that any second Millie’s mom could barrel through the door and see Hannah spooning her daughter, scream bloody murder, and get the rifle. Hannah would be dead! No, Hannah needed to swiftly and carefully get herself out of this situation, no matter how badly she didn’t want to...

Slowly Hannah eased her legs away from Millie’s, easier said than done considering how Millie had crossed her ankles to latch on. Hannah wiggled her hips back trying to get a little bit of space between them so she could slide her arms out from around Millie, but Millie’s hands that were pressed to Hannah’s back tightened, pulling Hannah back in.

“No,” Millie pouted, face pinching lightly.  “Don’t wanna get up yet…”

“Shhh, it’s okay. Go back to sleep, Mils.” Hannah cooed. Millie instantly relaxed again at Hannah’s words which allowed the awake teen to reach around to pry Millie’s hands off the base of her spine. Once Millie’s hands were tucked at the sleeping girl’s sides, Hannah tried again to ease back toward the wall and slide her arm out from where Millie was sleeping on it.

“No!” Millie cried out hand moving to curl around Hannah’s hip. “Don’t go!”

Hannah sucked in a breath, knowing that Millie was dreaming about someone else holding her. That stung. It hurt so much that Hannah stopped, closing her eyes to steady her pounding heart, taking a moment to cherish the feeling of Millie’s warm body so close to hers. Probably the only time she’d ever feel it like this again.

After another minute, to make sure Millie was still asleep. Hannah tried again, easing out so slowly, eyes trained on gently pulling out her arms… at first, Millie didn’t appear to notice and Hannah thought she was finally getting somewhere when suddenly the hand on Hannah’s hip tightened again.

“Hannah?” Millie called, voice slurred.

Hannah’s eyes grew wide as they flicked up. Was Millie awake?!

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Goddamn, fucking shit!

But Millie’s breathing was still so even, eyelids twitching but still closed.

She was still asleep.

Hannah breathed a huge sigh of relief before she doubled her efforts to get free, she had up to her elbow out and-

Wait Millie called out for her… in her sleep… did that mean she was dreaming about- no, No, NO, NO. Hannah was not letting her mind go there. Hannah couldn't fucking take it if she got her hopes up only to be heartbroken later. There was no way in Hell or Clover that Millie was dreaming about Hannah holding her. No way. Uh-uh. Not happening. Hannah started to slither out a little faster, being less careful with her movements, she needed to get away. This was too close and-

“No Hannah, don’t go, M’stay wit’ me, please…” Millie pleaded softly. “Don’t wantcha to go yet… Han stay…”

Hannah felt a whimper in the back of her throat that bubbled from her chest. This wasn’t happening and it hurt too much and “Millie, wake up- you’re dreaming and you don’t know what you’re saying-”

“Don’t wanna wake up, you’ll be gone… you’re always gone when I… wake up… m’not ready to… let go… you…” Millie resounded cuddling back into Hannah’s arm, effectively erasing the progress Hannah had made at sliding her arm out.

This was a nightmare. That’s what this was. All a bad, horrible, teasing nightmare and Hannah just needed to wake up.

Hannah sobbed, her heart felt like it was breaking, goddamn it Millie couldn’t know what she was saying, this must be just a weird dream for her, like when she dreamt that Coney Island was a land of walking-talking ice cream cones. This didn’t mean anything to Millie and it felt like Millie was driving a knife into Hannah’s chest with every single word. Hannah couldn’t take it and finally, she just yanked her arm back causing Millie to tip forward to which Hannah firmly pushed her back to her side of the bed. Hannah backed up, pressing herself to Millie’s wall. It was too much, god Hannah felt like she was having a panic attack.

After being shoved away, Millie stirred awake, arms still outstretched like she was reaching for Hannah.

Hannah felt her breath get quicker, her heartbeat pounding in her ears. She needed to get up and out of bed now, if she made it to the bathroom and splashed water on her face to wake her up and then she could breathe and-

“Han?” Millie asked, rubbing at her eyes with the palm of her hand. Ordinarily, Hannah would have found the motion adorable, with how sleepy and sweet Millie’s voice was in the quiet of the morning but right now all Hannah wanted to do was run. Hannah bolted till she was sitting upright. “Hey, hey, did you have a nightmare? Hannah was wrong?”

Millie was sitting up to and she caught Hannah’s wrist before the girl could escape. The touch felt searing on Hannah’s skin, she didn’t want it but she wanted it too much and Millie- Millie was risking enough as it was by letting Hannah sleepover after the fight she had with her parents- she didn’t need to find out that Hannah was in love with her. It would ruin them and Hannah couldn’t let that happen, she wouldn’t.

However, she couldn’t hide it either. Because she waited too long and all of a sudden Millie’s arms around her and it’s everything. It’s always been everything. Hannah’s arms, which she had just spent the better part of ten minutes trying to get away from Millie, are wrapped around the girl once again. Cause Hannah can’t breathe and her heart’s pounding like it’s trying to break its way through her chest but Millie’s hair smells like strawberries and she’s gently coaxing Hannah to copy her breathing and it’s all gonna be okay cause Millie’s here and it’s always okay when Millie’s here.

Millie’s coaching her to breathe now. Getting her to match inhales and exhales and Hannah can’t stop herself from thinking about what it was like this morning waking up with Millie’s gentle breathing fanning against her neck and how right it felt to hold her close like that and how much she wants to be the one Millie dreamed about cuddling.

“Stay.” Hannah gasps out before she can stop herself.

Millie’s cheeks turn pink but she gently rubs Hannah’s back and threads her fingers through Hannah’s short hair. “Course, Han. Whatever you need-”

“Y-you told *hiccup* me t-t-to stay. Why did you- why would you tell me to stay?”

“I always want you to stay. I always like having you here.” Millie assured, slowly, voice confident and so open and honest. It made the ache worse. 

“No!” Hannah cried pushing herself away. “No, you want me to paint your nails and talk about cats and watch John Hughes movies with you! You don’t want- Shit! Fuck, you asked me this morning- but you don’t mean it!”   

“Mean what?” Millie blinked, confused. Her brows collecting in worry.

“To stay!” Hannah hollered, not caring anymore about anything. “Last night, somehow we got so I was spooning you and you- you told me to stay! And it’s not fair! Cause I had you here for a minute and you offer your hugs so easily to me but I’m your friend and you love me but not how I want you to and we can cuddle all night long, and I try to wake up and leave so you don’t freak out and you- you- just you-  Fuck it!”

Hannah couldn’t take it, moved forward and pecked Millie’s lips.

Fleeting. Gone too fast. Easy enough to deny that it never happened in the first place.

“There,” Hannah stated, dumbly, before ripping herself away. She quickly scrambled off the bed, not even looking to see Millie’s reaction before she ran over to try wiggle back into her black skinny jeans over her sleep shorts and throw all her stuff back into her bag.  “Your parents were right that I like you and I can’t do this anymore. It’ll be easier if I just go and you can have Willowdean and Ellen over for sleepovers next time. And they- by the way- will probably appreciate watching Sixteen Candles way more than me and they’ll actually be able to sit through dinner with your parents!”

“Hannah,” Millie called rushing off the bed and catching Hannah’s hand. Hannah stopped, even though everything was screaming at her to go and run. But then Millie whispers: “Stay, please.”

Hannah deflated. Bag sliding off her shoulders and hitting the floor with a soft thud that neither girls paid any mind to. All that energy gone from her in a second. Gone. Poof, in a cloud of strawberry scented smoke.

Millie was gently tugging on Hannah’s hand and leading her back to bed and coaxing her under the rumpled blankets. Hannah felt herself move, glide across the carpeted floors and lie again under floral sheets. Millie was smiling sweetly into her shoulder, reaching up and wiping a stray tear from Hannah’s eye- that’ right- Hannah had been upset… why had she been upset? Whatever could have been wrong? Nothing, not when Millie was burying her nose into the juncture of Hannah’s neck and Hannah was wrapping her arms around Millie’s waist to pull her closer.

Hannah felt like she was asleep, this was a dream. Yes, she must have never woken up and, after a brief nightmare, she was having a good dream about a sleepy Saturday morning. Millie pulled back gently to trace her fingertips shyly down Hannah’s nose, her cheeks, the line of her jaw. A sweet, lazy grin took Hannah’s face, this dream felt so real. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to Millie’s forehead, deciding that if she was still asleep that she’d make the most of it. Millie let out a happy little hum, smiling brighter than the sunshine pouring through the window.

I love her. I love her. I love her.

Hannah shook her head. “Will you be here when I wake up? Or did you’re dad kill me last night at the dinner table?”

Millie giggled. “You’re awake now silly!”

“Can’t be.” Hannah denied, tightening her hold around Millie’s waist, trying to comprehend that she could feel the texture of the cotton nightgown and the warm of Millie like she wouldn't be able to if she was dreaming. She couldn't fathom how uncanny this was. Still, if this, for some chance, wasn’t a dream then they’d have to talk about what just happened. However, first: “Hey Mils?”

“Yeah?” Millie asked pressing a delicate kiss to Hannah’s neck.

Hannah’s breath hitches. “Stay?”

“Always.”

And if this is a dream then Hannah never wants to wake up.


Chapter Text

Perfect... Millie looked absolutely perfect in the floating candlelight of the Great hall. 

Hannah looked up from her plate at the Slytherin across the long table to see where Millie was sitting over with the Hufflepuffs. She was giggling along with Marcus, Becca, and Bo who sat beside her, they looked happy together. Though it was no secret that Bo and Willowdean fancied each other, Hannah was still green with envy. Hannah wanted to eat with Millie! It wasn’t fair they had to sit with their houses... Okay, it totally was but it didn’t mean that Hannah had to like it. The punk teen barely got to spend any time with Millie, they weren’t any of the same classes. Millie was aiming to be a Healer and Hannah wanted to be an Auror, not a lot of room for overlapping subjects. So they could talk after class but then they had homework. Hogwarts was a funny place considering that there was almost too many nook and crannies to meet friends in but never enough privacy. The library was excellent but Irma Price didn’t appreciate idle chatter, the courtyard was too cold now in the winter season, and almost anywhere else someone always had to find them and interrupt. It could never just be the two of them! Someone was always...

Callie elbowed Hannah and gave her a playful look. “You really oughta stop staring.”

“I’m not staring.”

“Sure you’re not, Hannah.” Callie rolled her eyes and turned back to her conversation with the other housemates.

Hannah shook her head. God, did everyone know she had a crush on Millie now? Was Hannah that transparent? And if that was the case then could they all leave her to pine in peace without being so obnoxious about it-

Hannah winced a banana was dropped on her head by one of the owls above. Hannah whipped around to look at the Gryffindor table to see Willowdean and Ellen were very giggly and non-apologetic as they were clearly the culprits of this assault. Hannah glowered at them, they just mouthed “ASK HER OUT ALREADY!”

Hannah’s scowl deepened as she shook her head no and turned back around.

But just as she faced right side round a letter was suddenly dropped on her head.

Bloody owls were out to get her today it seemed.

Hannah opened the letter, not at all phased when she saw ASK HER OUT ALREADY in Willowdean hasty scrawl on the parchment.

Hannah carefully tucked the note into her robe. Hannah carefully checked the staff table to make sure no one was looking, before she turned back round to see the owl-messenger abusing Gryffindors to flip them a bird of her own. 

 

The first time Hannah met Millie was on the train to Hogwarts first year. Hannah was brooding off in what appeared to be the only free compartment. Hannah was… a mix of emotions. She was excited for Hogwarts, she had jumped for joy when she got her letter but now she was nervous. She’d never been away from home before and now she’d be living away from her Mother and everything she knew…

Hannah’s Mother had seen her off at the 9 ¾ platform, Mrs. Perez’s mouth had been in a tight line as she awkwardly patted Hannah’s head and told her: “Focus on your studies, get into Slytherin, and behave .”

Hannah just gave a somber nod as she got on the train, finding an isolated compartment as everyone else was coddled by their parents on the platform. Hannah watched out the window as one pretty girl (who looked about Hannah’s age) with round cheeks was practically being suffocated with the adamant embrace of the mother. The mother was pressing kiss after kiss on top of the girl’s head in the space between her pigtails. But instead of being annoyed or embarrassed the girl was beaming and holding her mother back just a tight. They looked sweet, and Hannah had to swallow her envy. She turned away. The girl was clearly going to be a Hufflepuff. There would be no need for Hannah to ever interact with such a bubble-brain… which made Hannah feel… sad?

She shook the thought away she turned to her knapsack and pulled out one of her books. Hannah was hoping to use the train ride to get ahead on the school work as she was kind of hoping that she’d end up in Ravenclaw. Hannah kept diligently reading as she heard everyone else board the train as it got ready to depart but she was finding herself distracted by dreams of Hogwarts and what the Ravenclaw dorms would be like... Hannah smirked at the thought of the letters her mother would send her: disappointed that Hannah didn’t end up in Slytherin like the Perez dynasty would have it. It would be so funny… Mother… Hannah (for some inexplicable reason) found her eyes starting to well up with tears. She would miss the ol’ bat after all…

Just then the compartment door slid open to reveal none other than the future Hufflepuff girl from the platform. Just perfect! Hannah thought as she quickly swiped at her eyes and buried her face into her book, hoping to send the vibe that she wanted to be left alone.

But the girl didn’t leave. “Oh good, an open seat! Most are already taken now, I stayed a bit too long saying’ bye to mum. Mind if I sit?”

Hannah shrugged but moved so she was facing away from the other girl, hoping that would be message enough to leave Hannah alone.

It wasn’t.

The girl jumped into the seat across from Hannah, grinning. “This is so exciting! I’m Millicent, well everyone calls me Millie. I like that better. What’s your name?”

Hannah didn’t respond. She turned her page.

“You’re so cool!”

That took Hannah by surprise she looked up to see Millie looking at her at awe, despite the snub.

“You’re so calm! I was a nervous wreck last night, couldn’t sleep a wink! Aren’t you nervous? Hannah is it?”

“H-how do you know my name?” Hannah stuttered, most likely destroying whatever cool rep she just established.

Millie stole herself for a moment, smiling fading into a very serious face. “Imma witch.”

Hannah blinked.

Millie bit her lip, her cheeks turned red, and it wasn’t long till she burst into giggles. “Your name is on your luggage label next to you.”

Hannah resisted smacking herself in the forehead for her stupidity. Duh.

And then to make things worse-

“Wait have you been crying?” Millie asked, big Bambi eyes growing in concern.

“W-what?! No!” Hannah denied, even though she knew her eyes were red.

Millie just reached forward to rest her hand on Hannah’s. For some reason, Hannah didn’t pull away. “It’s okay, Hannah.” then Millie gave Hannah probably the kindest smile anyone ever gave her. “Me too.” Millie didn’t ask Hannah any more questions, didn’t force her to talk. Instead, Millie lit up in a pleasant conversation which Hannah found herself enjoying immensely. Then to top it off Millie bought Hannah jelly slugs later.

Yeah… Millie was definitely going to be a Hufflepuff…

… But it turned out that Hannah wasn’t going to be a Ravenclaw. She was a Slytherin. She didn’t want to be, Hannah hated the idea of being cold and calculating like the rest of her family. She wanted to be smart and she’d worked so hard all summer. But apparently, it wasn’t hard enough. All that work for nothing.

Her mother won.

Hannah kept her cool but rushed out of the Great Hall and fled to the Girl’s lavatory the first opportunity she got. She didn’t realize it but Millie, seeing that Hannah was clearly upset, followed her.

“I’m so sorry Hannah, I know you were hoping for-”

“Get out!” Hannah cried. Her mother was right, people in their family were cold and they didn’t need friends and she didn’t need Millie feeling sorry for her.

“But I just wanna help-”

“You can’t help! Leave me alone!”

 

“Mmm thought I’d find you here.” A smooth voice rang out from the darkness.

Hannah jolted upright from where she was hunched over her books, tucked away secretly in an alcove with her books after having snuck past curfew to study for the N.E.W.T. “Expecto Patro-”

“Easy, Han!” Millie interjected, quickly tugging off the hood to the invisibility cloak. “It’s me.”

Hannah let out a deep breath of relief. “Bleeding Hell, Mils! Don’t scare me like that! What are you doing here, shouldn’t you be asleep?”

“I could ask you the same question.” Millie returned, her eyes visibly softening even in the shallow light of the luminous spell. “It’s late, Han. You need to get your rest.”

“I need to study if I want to be-”

“I know.” Millie cooed, slipping the rest of the cloak off her shoulders, she grabbed a seat next to Hannah and rested her hand on the Slytherin’s narrow shoulder. “But you’re working yourself too hard! You’re gonna burn yourself out!”

Hannah sighed in defeat. “You’re right, I’ll just finish this chapter and-”

“Oh no, you don’t! One chapter turns into the rest of the textbook. Common Han, I know you better than that. Here, how bout I quiz you real quick and then we’ll both go to bed-”

“No, you could get caught and-”

“Shh,” Millie simpered as she gently moved closer so that her side was pressed against Hannah’s. Carefully Millie grabbed the invisibility cloak (which she undoubtedly borrowed from Bo who uses it to sneak into Gryffindor and see Will all the freakin’ time) and draped it over both of them. “There! Now let’s get through this and get some shut-eye, hmm?”

Hannah wished the cloak would make her blush invisible too.

 

It would be weeks later, in Flying lessons that Hannah would see Millie again, after weeks of ducking the Hufflepuff at every opportunity. But that all changed after a couple weeks when the universe thrust the two of them together again. The Slytherin students were being competitive with each other. This competitiveness soon took the form of aggression. The Slytherin house had lost 15 points in the first week due to Hannah’s first-year class fighting each other on their broomsticks. As a result, Professor McGonagall decided to co-ed the class with Hufflepuffs (at least until some of the beds in the Infirmary were cleared from kids who had been pushed off their broom).

There were two things in this world that Hannah was afraid of:

  1.  Public Speaking and 
  2. Heights

 

She was petrified in Flying Lessons and had happily hidden in the disaster that was her class to avoid flying for the last few weeks. But now it was unavoidable: she was going to have to face her fear.

And in the end, it had been Millie who helped Hannah. While McGonagall was talking to other students, Millie showed Hannah where to put her hands and hold the broom, promising that Hannah wouldn’t crash or fall off or get hurt.

“How do you know?” Hannah challenged.

“Just trust me.” Millie smiled as she took Hannah’s hand to adjust it on her broom.

And Hannah did. Hannah learned to fly quickly and she’s never been afraid of heights or flying since.

But more than that Millie and Hannah have been inseparable ever since.

 

Somewhere between second and third year, Hannah started to get this fuzzy feeling in her chest whenever she was around Millie. By fourth year Hannah had was hit with the fact that this fuzzy feeling was in fact FEELINGS. And now in the fifth year, Hannah was stuck pining.

But those thoughts would have to wait.

Hannah’s broom zoomed and zipped in the air as she desperately tried to catch the quaffle. She usually she was a Beater but apparently, she was too distracted lately so her team was trying a new strategy. So far it wasn’t working well.

Just as she was flying around the curve, trying to cover Bo (Hufflepuff’s best Chaser) from scoring. But Hannah was… distracted, to say the least. Millie was sitting there in the Hufflepuff stands, chin carefully tucked into her yellow and black scarf as she cheeks glowed pink in from the cold. Even though Millie’s face was concealed, Hannah could tell the Hufflepuff was smiling her radiant smile; it showed in the way Millie’s warm brown eyes sparkled in the chilly air. So warm like two cups of cocoa with marshmallows…

The next thing Hannah knew she was spinning out of control and nearly crashing into the Slytherin Banner. Hannah jolted back into the game to see that Bo had checked her broomstick.

Hannah narrowed her eyes and charged at Bo, who had the quaffle now, but Bo skillfully tossed the quaffle across the field to another team member before Hannah recovered.

“That was a dirty check!” Hannah screeched.

“Don’t be a sore loser, Hannah.” Bo teased. “And it’s nothing personal, just got my eye on the prize… I got a feeling that’s the same for you.” Bo smirked deviously as he jerked his head towards the Hufflepuff stands.

“She’s not a prize! You patriarchal arse, women aren’t some conquests-”

“Woah there, you know I didn’t mean it that way,” Bo assured as he turned around the hoop. “But you don’t deny it then?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Hannah denied (horribly and convincing no one) and she looked away to dodge the bludger zipping in her way.

While Hannah wasn’t looking, Bo dropped down, intercepting the quaffle and rushing forward to score. Hannah gapped at him.

Bo just cheekily chirped. “All is fair in love and Quidditch, eh Hannah?”

“Now that was dirty! Since when are Hufflepuffs such competitive cheats?!”

“You’re right I thought that was just the Slytherins!”

“Bo Larsen when I get my hands on you I swear you’re gonna have to be sipping pumpkin juice through a straw for a month!”

 

“You doing alright, Han?” Millie asks.

“I’m fine.” Hannah bats the question away, and it’s true… mostly. She’s had a good day but she’s exhausted. With the N.E.W.T only 6 weeks away the Slytherin house is a mess. Everyone is studying and up in the night with ambitious dreams of being Aurors or in Ministry. And with everyone doing their own luminous spells it gets kinda hard to sleep there, least of all because Hannah’s been studying after hours too.

There’s a lot of pressure for pride.

Millie, intuitive as ever doesn’t push the issue but instead offers “You should sleep over.”

“What in Hufflepuff?” Hannah quirks a brow.

“Yeah! It’ll be great and you’ll get a night of better sleep than in your house.”

“What about bed check?”

“Well, you’ve been sneaking out to study as it is…”

She had a point.

“Okay,” Hannah tried to reason. She wasn’t an impulsive person (well except when something made her mad) and there were a lot of factors. Hufflepuff had the vinegar security system, what if she set it off? “Won’t I get sprayed with vinegar?”

“Not if you come in with me or you know the secret knock.” Millie shook her head.

Alright…  What if someone snitched on her for sneaking out- well it couldn’t be another Slytherin less they want to lose house points and Hufflepuffs aren’t known for being tattletales… “Where would I sleep?”

“Well I think there should be enough room in my bed in my dorm but if there isn’t I can grab blankets and pillows and we can sleep in the common room.”

Hannah nodded, she couldn’t think of a  single reason to say no… “Fine.”

Millie let out a delighted squeal, which coming from anyone else would have annoyed Hannah. Instead, Hannah felt her features soften, lips twitching up in a smirk.

“Okay meet you out here at 10 after.” Millie farewelled.

 

Hannah got into her PJs, Slytherin green set her Mother had mailed her for Christmas, and after a quick bed check, Hannah grabbed her bag with some study materials and quietly prepared to head out. Callie quirked a brow. “Going somewhere?”

“What?”

“Well, you usually don’t bother to change into your jammies before you sneak out… going someplace different?”

“No…” Hannah lies.

Callie’s eyes sparkle, she smirks. “Alrighty then, have fun.”

Hannah ducks her head and quickly shuffles out the door as Callie yells after her to “Tell Millie I say hi!”

 

Millie’s standing outside the large round Hufflepuff doors for Hannah already. She grins, and the place looks pleasant but Hannah’s still apprehensive about setting off the security system and altering the entire school about an “intruder”. Did they expel people for this? Hannah thought of what her mother would think. The word BEHAVE rattling around her head. 

Hannah gulped.

Millie just shot her a warm smile that said trust me.

Hannah gave a nod, returning a shaky smile of her own as Millie went forward and did a series of intricate taps on the different barrels. Finally one of the larger barrels creaks open, revealing… yellow. Lots of yellow.

Hannah follows Millie inside, the room doesn’t feel underground near the dungeons and kitchens. While the copper lamps have dimmed for lights out the room still feels sunny like it’s getting a sliver of sunshine from between the curtains. The couches are yellow with lovely looking quilts draped over the back there are round windows… wait how are there windows. Hannah wonders but she’s just captivated by how warm, earthy and inviting the Hufflepuff home is.

Millie goes over to adjust the lamps to be a bit brighter as Hannah flops down on the couch. “Do you want to study for a bit before bed.”

Hannah grins “You read my mind!”

 

Millie, to her credit, did study for about a solid thirty minutes. The two curled up together under one of the beautiful patchwork quilts with books in their laps. Millie flipped through her herbology book as Hannah plowed through her Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook. But after a while, Millie got up and started plucking dandelions and daisies from the window sills. She took the flower and set them in her lap as she curled up with Hannah on the couch, delicately streaming them into a flower crown. Hannah let her head drop to Millie’s shoulder as she kept reading, it was so content… so peaceful.

Hannah felt her mind starting to lull as she felt Millie softly humming some girly pop song next to her. After a moment Millie leaned up to drape the flower crown over the punk girls hair, the yellow flowers a stark contrast to Hannah’s dark choppy hair. Millie let out a triumphant giggle, smile making the room feel impossibly brighter… it almost hurt Hannah’s eyes to look at but she couldn’t look away… maybe… Hannah thought this was a good moment to finally tell Millie that she was in lov-

Suddenly the door to the common room opened, Hannah jumped a little, scared it was a staff member here to bust them. The flower crown dropped lopsided on her head. She stiffened… only to find… Willowdean?

“Will!” Millie exclaimed excitedly.

Will smiled, her eyes flicking to Hannah and letting out a snort when she saw the flower crown perched on top of Hannah’s head. Will opened her mouth, no doubt to tease but then Bo came out with the invisibility cloak tucked over his arm.

The four of them blinked at each other.

Bo blushed a little but grinned toothily. “Well, I’ll be off on my date, you kids behave now!”

Hannah wanted to bury herself in the large puffy yellow couch. God kill her now…

Millie just giggled, Hannah tried to bury her blush in her textbook… so much for a moment.

 

It would be weeks later, after the N.E.W.T. when they were all eagerly awaiting their results that Hannah could finally work up the nerve to ask Millie out. After coaxing from Bo, Will, Ellen, and even Callie: Hannah was finally going to do it.

She decided to send a letter by owl mail… it felt the safest.

After class, she went straight to the Owlery before she could talk herself out of it. However, as she ascended up the stairs she found that Callie was following close behind her, eyes glowing with mischief.

“Can I help you?” Hannah snarked.

“Relax, Hannah Banana.” Callie playfully chided, obviously calling back to the banana assault weeks ago… Callie never bloody forgot anything. “Just using the post.”

Hannah narrowed her eyes but turned around to make her way up the stairs, when she finally made it, she tried her hardest to ignore Callie who seemed innocently enough posting a letter to her mom, and reached into her bag to grab some parchment, since she came straight from class Hannah hadn’t even bothered to write the letter yet figuring that she’d love her nerve otherwise.

But when Hannah dipped her hand in the bag she found all her clean parchment was gone and all that was left was her quills and her Potions notes. Hannah dug around desperately in her bag… she could have sworn she had clean parchment in here…

“Out of parchment?” Callie asked, “You can borrow some of mine.”

Hannah felt a pull in her gut since when was Callie so nice? Hannah took the offered parchment skeptical, Callie’s eyes seemed to glimmer. “What’s the catch?”

“No catch. Damn Hannah, is it so hard to believe I could just help you?” Callie asked with a roll of her eyes.

Hannah bit back the obvious answer of yes.

“You should hurry though,” Callie noted, looking a little… nervous?

“Why? Is this a trick? This gonna explode or something?”

“No. But if you keep stalling you’re gonna chicken out, Hannah Banana.”

And Callie… wasn’t wrong. Without another thought,  Hannah fought against her logic and turned around so her back was to Callie. Using the wall Hannah carefully wrote out

Millie, I like you. You are the kindest person I know and your smile is like sunshine. Would you go out with me? Yours, Hannah. Before folding it, stuffing it into one of Callie's envelopes, and addressing it. Handing it to one of the owls before she could talk herself out of it.

Callie grinned, a Cheshire cat smiles if Hannah ever saw one. “Perfect, guess we should get ready for dinner!”

Hannah felt her stomach roll.

 

When it was finally time for dinner Hannah felt like she was going to throw up. She didn’t dare look at the Hufflepuff table or at Callie. She kept her eyes fixed on her plate as she nervously picked at her food. Any second now Millie was going to get her letter…

“Ohhh look!” Callie called. Elbowing Hannah in the ribs. “Millie’s got a letter!”

Hannah’s eyes bolted upright to see Millie’s confused face from getting a post… a red envelope having been dropped onto Millie’s plate. Hannah bit her lip. Red envelope… that’s strange. Did Hannah post it in one? She couldn’t remember. No, it couldn’t be Hannah’s letter cause red was usually for-

Becca gasped next to Millie. “Oh no! Someone sent you a Howler.”

"Want me to open it for you?" Bo offered kindly but Millie shook her head. 

Hannah’s stomach clenched. No, it couldn’t be her letter to Millie it had to be someone else-

Then the worst possible thing happened.

Millie took a breath before ripping off the seat to the letter. The letter floated up in the air, bending so that it looked like a mouth. In a loud, booming, haggard voice it read “TO MILLICENT MITCHELLCHUCK, HUFFLEPUFF: MILLIE, I LIKE YOU. YOU ARE THE KINDEST PERSON I KNOW AND YOUR SMILE IS LIKE SUNSHINE. WOULD YOU GO OUT WITH ME? YOURS, HANNAH. POSTED BY HANNAH PEREZ, SLYTHERIN”

The letter immediately shredded itself up.

Hannah just gapped. The dining room went quiet, someone’s dishes clattered. Beside her, Callie clamped a hand over her mouth to contain her giggles.

Hannah kept her eyes locked on Millie, the Hufflepuff just looked down at the scattered bits of paper on her plate. Both of their cheeks turned pink. Someone… who sounded a lot like Willowdean, gave out a cough. Millie looked up, brown eyes big.

Hannah couldn’t take it. She bolted up from the table, knocking over some glasses as she went as she fled out of the Great Hall. Someone called out “Wait!” but all she could hear was the scattered whispering and Callie’s cackling.

Hannah dove, not even sure where she was going as she sprinted through the corridors. Eventually, she burst through a door to find that she was in the girl's lavatory. She rushed over to the sink.

Someone rushed after her- and it was deja vu.

Millie stood in the doorway. Panting softly. “You… huh huh... You didn’t even wait for my reply-”

“Look Mils, I’m sorry. Callie gave me the parchment, I didn’t know it was gonna be a Howler, honest!”

“Hannah-”

“And you never want to be friends again I would get it-”

“Hannah! YES!”

“Cause that was so- wait what?”

“Yes,” Millie said walking forward to take Hannah’s hand. “I’ll go out with you.”

And maybe the girl's lavatory at Hogwarts, Moaning Myrtle a couple stall away, wasn’t the most romantic place to have a first kiss, but as Hannah leaned her forehead against Millie’s she couldn’t care less. Soft and sweet, Hannah could have sworn Millie's lips tasted like jelly slugs. Hannah smiled into the kiss. Maybe she wouldn't kill Callie after all... Millie just giggled sweetly as she pulled Hannah in for another kiss. 

And even in the dingy light, with leaky faucets around them, it was perfect.