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Chase Me

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Chloe Beale was always excitable. And the fact she was stood in front of the notorious Hogwarts Express, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of students and families and pets only made her more excited for the new school year.

She felt a hand on her shoulder, and realised she’d been bouncing her heels. “Chloe, honey, calm down.” Her mom smiled at her softly, and Chloe could still, even after 5 years, see the pride in her eyes as she turned to face her.

Chloe’s parents had been suitably shocked when they had someone knocking on their door, telling them their daughter was a witch, but in Chloe’s opinion, they had adjusted well, and she appreciated it with all her heart. They always dropped her off at Kings Cross every September and picked her up every June and once, she even caught her dad reading an old magazine about Quidditch she’d left lying around.  It was nice they cared enough to take an interest.

“Sorry,” Chloe said, her voice bright as she stilled her feet. “I’m gonna miss you, tell dad I’ll miss him as well!” For the first time since she’d started Hogwarts, her dad hadn’t been able to see her off for the year, having been called away to China on a business trip. It would be a lie to say she wasn’t disappointed, but her enthusiastic nature and utter delight at the prospect of another year of learning meant nothing could dampen her spirits.

“I will Chlo, he’s so proud of you for becoming a prefect; we both are!” Her mom gushed, using a handkerchief to polish the shiny red and gold badge pinned to Chloe’s chest. “And he asked me to wish you luck in your O.W.L.s too”

Chloe practically beamed at the thought her dad had made the effort to remember the names of her exams, and her smile widened. “Thanks mom, I love you.”

“I love you too honey, now hurry, you’ll miss the train!” Her mom said, with a hint of urgency as she looked at the clock on the platform, chuckling to herself as the redhead threw herself into a quick, last minute hug.

Chloe waved goodbye to her mother, dragging her trunk towards the carriages and soon, she was lost in the midst of the wizarding world.


 

“Chloe!” Chloe heard her friend before she saw her, whipping around widely to find the source of the voice when suddenly she came face to face with-

“Bree!” Chloe cried out happily in response, pulling her into a tight hug. Aubrey Posen was a 6th year Ravenclaw that Chloe had befriended after they shared an all-nighter in the library, during her 3rd year; the blonde helping Chloe with some transfiguration homework that had brought her to tears, and they had been practically inseparable ever since.

“I missed you too Chlo, we need to have a catch up soon. But, as Head Girl, I’m afraid I have to set you to work since you’re a prefect now” Aubrey sighed sadly. “There seem to be a lot of lost first years that need rounding up and if I don’t do it then Bumper sure as hell won’t.” The blonde rolled her eyes. “How that boy became Head Boy is beyond me.”

Chloe let out a soft melodic laugh. “He isn’t that bad Bree! Right, first year round up, I’m on it! I’ll see you at dinner?”

“Not if I see you first Beale” Aubrey joked, and with that, she was gone, leaving Chloe to gather the lost kids.


 

After she had herded all of the students onto the Hogwarts Express and got them all reasonably settled, Chloe began making her way to the prefect’s carriage in search of Aubrey.

Chloe thought Hogwarts would have a riot on their hands if the student body found out just how luxurious and lavish the prefect carriage actually was, but luckily for them, it was protected by a spell that doused any non-prefect in ice cold water, and ever since the entire school saw and laughed at that 4th year Slytherin boy two years ago, nobody had tried to break in.

Said Slytherin boy, had since become a prefect, and as of the last few months of her 4th year, had also become Chloe’s boyfriend. As she entered the carriage, her ice blue eyes found his dark brown ones, and her lips pulled into a wide smile as her feet carried her towards him eagerly.

“Hey Chlobird” He said, his dark eyes sparkling as he pulled her into his strong arms, planting a kiss on the top of her head.

“Missed you Tom” She replied, her head buried in his chest, listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart.

Tom was a 6th year, tall, dark haired and with high cheekbones that Chloe marvelled at.  He was nice, even when they were just friends, he always walked her to her common room in the evenings and gave her his jacket if she was cold and was never put off by the way Chloe found comfort in (sometimes excessive, she thought) physical contact. He was accepting and charming and although they had only been seeing each other for a few months, Chloe thought to herself that maybe she could fall in love with him.

Herself and Tom had bonded over their shared love of quidditch, despite neither of them being able to play to save their life and after a few too many butterbeers on the empty quidditch bleachers, Tom had whispered that she was beautiful and that he was about to kiss her, and they had been an item ever since. Chloe had spent the majority of the end of her 4th year practically living in the Slytherin common room, helping him study for his O.W.L.s, her perky, cheerful nature helping to motivate him, and he came out with the highest grades in the school. (Not that Chloe credited herself to that, but she totally did).

Their embrace was interrupted by a loud call from Bumper "Right guys, if you could all take your seats that would be cool-"

“What Bumper means,” Aubrey interrupted. Chloe hadn’t seen her appear in her haste to see Tom and she shot the blonde a bright smile. “Is that we have business to attend to.” She finished, shooting a glare to the older boy to her right as she sat in her seat at the head of the table. Chloe pecked Tom’s cheek in a quick goodbye as she made her way to her own seat further down the large mahogany table that dominated the centre of the carriage. She took her seat, and found herself next to a Ravenclaw boy she knew was called Greg, but to whom she had never spoken, and on her other side, to Jesse Swanson, who was presumably the other new Gryffindor prefect.

Jesse had dark hair and eyes, much like Tom, but his eyes we’re filled with warmth and kindness, whereas Tom’s eyes held a mystery Chloe was itching to discover, a secret to unlock. It was what made their relationship so enticing to her. She knew Jesse from the majority of her classes, and he also was a Chaser for the Gryffindor quidditch team, so she liked him and flashed him a bright smile as she sat down, which he returned warmly – giving Chloe the pleasant feeling in her stomach that she got whenever somebody smiled at her.

“Firstly let’s welcome our new prefects. For Gryffindor, Chloe and Jesse,” Aubrey announced, smiling widely at Chloe, who flushed slightly and gave a small wave when her name was mentioned. “For Ravenclaw, Alice and Greg,” The boy beside her, and the girl on his left both raised their hands slightly and Chloe smiled widely at them, hoping to make them feel as welcome as she already did, what with being best friends with the Head Girl and dating the Slytherin 6th year prefect. “For Hufflepuff, Ashley and Benjamin,”

“I-its Benji!” A brown haired boy across the table from Chloe called out, his face red. Aubrey smiled, and nodded, making a mental note to remember.

“And last but not least, for Slytherin, we have Jenna and Johnny.” A pretty blonde girl and a black haired boy both nodded. “Excellent,” Aubrey continued, content with the fact everything had, so far, gone smoothly and without a hiccup. “Now I’d like to congratulate you all on becoming prefects, and I look forward to working with you all in the future.”

Bumper flicked his wand lazily and a goblet appeared in front of each person. He raised his glass, “To the new prefects” The older students all repeated his toast and Chloe picked up her glass, grinning as the scent of Butterbeer filled her nose as Aubrey began to repeat the list of their duties, a list Chloe had read and reread about a hundred times when she got her letter from Hogwarts.

Chloe’s eyes drifted back to Tom, who was sat on the other end of the table, attentively listening to Aubrey, despite knowing all of his duties by heart. She smiled softly, her gaze wandering over his features; the way his hair had flecks of auburn and gold that shone in the sunlight; the way a shadow fell across his features due to his angular jaw and cheek bones; the way that, even though his attention was completely focused on Aubrey, his eyes periodically flitted to Chloe, his jaw slackening into a lazy smile whenever he did. She loved the way he looked at her, it made her feel special.

Aubrey finished her list and smiled “Okay, so that concludes the briefing, if any of you have any questions, feel free to come and find me whenever you need me, I’ll always be there”

A girl with ash blonde hair coughed unsubtly, “Not always”, and Chloe watched Aubrey shoot her a filthy look. Chloe knew the girl, Stacie Conrad was her name and Chloe knew far too much about her to say they had never actually spoken. She was the 6th year Ravenclaw prefect, and Chloe often wondered how she had secured that position; everybody knew of her utterly scandalous reputation, not that Chloe was judging her in any way. She knew her and Aubrey had been friends, and Chloe had listened to many late night confessions from Aubrey regarding Stacie Conrad. However, the pair had, for a reason not even Chloe knew, not spoken in several months. All Chloe knew was that whenever Stacie’s name left Aubrey’s mouth, it sounded unfamiliar and bitter, and for that reason alone, Chloe held a certain dislike to her.

Feeling a hand on her shoulder, Chloe turned to see Tom stood behind her, flashing her a bright smile. Alice had gone to ask Aubrey some questions and Greg had followed, (Chloe swore he had a crush on her, not that it was any of her business), leaving his seat empty for Tom to occupy. Chloe laced their fingers together and squeezed his hand, “So, how does it feel to be a bigshot N.E.W.T student now?” She asking teasingly, tilting her head.

“No different than before,” He chuckled softly, “How was your summer? Did your mother get the flowers I sent?”

Chloe’s grin widened and she almost had to physically force herself not to launch into an hour long speech about how amazing her summer was as she knew that despite his reassurance and protests, even Tom must find her unwavering enthusiasm for life pretty annoying, so she settled for her usual smile and nodded “It was wonderful, and yes, you shouldn’t have Tom! They looked ridiculously expensive.”

The older boy shrugged and replied in a casual, offhand manner, "And? It was no trouble, really.”

Chloe knew that Tom’s family was rich. His was one of the few pure-blood families left intact after the Great Wizarding War and she knew he sat on a not so small fortune, locked away in a Gringotts vault deep underground. Chloe came from a working class muggle family, growing up with only the necessities, never having any money to spare and so she always felt extremely conflicted whenever Tom spent his money on her.

“Still…” She began softly, running her thumb over his repeatedly. “Thank you though, they were lovely.”

He smiled his typical lopsided grin and squeezed her hand. “You’re lovely.” He countered and Chloe rolled her eyes in response. She was about to chide him for such a chaste compliment, when she heard Aubrey calling her from across the room. Chloe stood quickly, leaning down to kiss Tom on the forehead, murmuring that she would see him later, before walking around the table towards Aubrey.

“It’s yours and Jesse’s turn to patrol the train. You just have to make sure th- Hell, you know exactly what you’re doing, who am I kidding?” Aubrey chuckled, making Chloe smile softly. “You can swap with Benji and Ashley at lunch time”. Chloe nodded, wishing Aubrey goodbye as she made her way to the exit of the carriage, dragging a confused Jesse along with her.

They wandered down the carriages in comfortable silence for several minutes until Jesse spoke. “You’re Chloe Beale right?”

Chloe nodded, smiling pleasantly. “I am indeed! It’s Jesse Swanson isn’t it?”

The dark haired boy nodded, “Yeah, that’s right. I’ve seen you in potions, you’re incredible at it!”

The redhead’s cheeks flushed and she shook her head humbly, “I just practise a lot, I was actually failing at the beginning of 4th year but my boyfriend tutored me and now it’s my favourite subject” She smiled widely at the fond memories she was flooded with; Tom running his strong hands through her hair as she poured over numerous text books intently, the kisses he gave her when her potions turned out near perfect. “Why? Do you need help?”

Jesse lowered his head, looking slightly ashamed. “I won’t be able to become an Auror if I don’t get an Outstanding in my O.W.L.s. I think I’m probably working at a T level right now.” He chuckled nervously and Chloe felt her heart sink.

“You can be my bench partner if you like? Then you can watch me and you’ll learn faster.” She beamed, her heart swelling as the boy’s demeanour seemed to lighten immediately.

“I’d like that, yeah.” He smiled, and Chloe couldn’t help but grin back, excited at the prospect of making a friend in Jesse.

They finished their patrol without a hitch and were heading back to the prefect’s carriage when a loud bang echoed through the train. Chloe grabbed her wand; 9 inches made of rosewood with a Veela hair core. (Tom always joked that her wand chose her for her beauty, to which Chloe always rolled her eyes and replied it more likely to be her temperamental nature); and along with Jesse, ran towards the source of the noise.

What they found was a 4th year Slytherin boy that Chloe knew to be a trouble maker. (Tom always complained the kid always caused a scene in the common room), pinned against the wall by his throat, by a short girl with long, dark hair. Her left hand was at his throat, and her right was pointing her wand at his chest.

“Say that again, I dare you.” The girl said darkly, and Chloe couldn’t help but marvel at her voice, it sounded so dangerous, yet soft simultaneously and the redhead half-wanted not to intervene so she could hear the brunette utter more threats.

A whimper from the younger boy brought her out of her thoughts and Chloe raised her wand as Jesse pulled open the door to the compartment. “Put him down, please.” Chloe said, using the most authoritative voice she could muster.

The girl turned to her and Chloe saw her full face for the first time, and for a second was breath taken at just how pretty she was. Not conventionally so, but the way her wavy brunette hair framed her face, matched with her deep blue eyes that Chloe may or may not have been lost in for a moment, made her incredibly striking to Chloe.

She stared at Chloe for a moment with a look of complete disdain, but the redhead held her gaze and after another second, the brunette dropped the boy, smirking slightly as he hit the ground with a loud thud before hurriedly scrambling out of the compartment. At the look of confusion on both Chloe and Jesse’s faces, the girl spoke again, and Chloe swore she could listen to that voice for days. “He called me a mudblood.” She said in a low voice, with a twinge of sadness. Chloe’s heart sank.

“Why didn’t you just hex him?” Chloe’s curiosity overcame her and the words were out of her mouth in a flash. “I mean, why grab him?”

The brunette shrugged disinterestedly, “I don’t like magic.” She stated bluntly. Chloe opened her mouth to ask why, but the other girl interrupted her, “Look Red, are you gonna give me a detention or can I go?” The nickname came out with a mocking tone and Chloe knew it was meant to offend her, but surprisingly it made her want to laugh. Made her want to get to know this girl more than anything.

Chloe deliberated for a second, but she knew if anybody had called her that, she would have been angry too. “You can go.” She replied calmly, and no sooner had the words left her mouth, did the brunette practically shove past the two Gryffindors, and disappear amongst the swell of students crowding the corridor of the carriage.

“Who was she?” Chloe wondered aloud, her eyes still focused on the spot the girl had just vanished from.

“That’s Beca Mitchell.” Jesse said, “I really don’t fancy getting on the wrong side of her, ever.” He joked as they both stuffed their wands back into their robes and began walking back to their carriage.

Chloe only nodded in response, letting her mind wander back to brunette, Beca, and one clear thought made its way to the forefront of her mind.

She had to see this girl again.

Chapter Text

Patience, as much as she’d like to disagree with herself, was not one of Chloe’s strong points. Her knee bounced rapidly and she tapped against the table, desperately wishing for Professor McGonagall’s speech to just be over, finally. It wasn’t that she disliked the woman, Chloe actually had an immense amount of respect for her head of house, seeing her as a strong, inspiring woman that constantly pushed Chloe, making the redhead strive to achieve. She thrived under the professor’s guidance. But, oh God, could that woman talk and all Chloe wanted to do was find Aubrey or Tom or somebody she knew.

Sure, she had friends in Gryffindor; Chloe got on with absolutely everyone she encountered, (Until Beca Mitchell, of course.) but she had never really formed any strong friendships with any of her housemates and much preferred the company of her friends in other houses.

After The Battle of Hogwarts, inter house friendships became evermore frequent, to the point that, discounting formal occasions such as the Sorting Ceremony, students were free to sit with whomever they liked at meal times, regardless of house; and last year, Chloe had settled into an easy routine of eating lunch every afternoon and dinner every night on the far left table, with Tom, Aubrey, Jessica and Luke. She frowned to herself, realising she hadn’t seen the latter two of those friends since arriving at Hogwarts.

Her eyes flitted over to the Slytherin table where she saw Tom laughing to another boy and she felt a pang in her chest, suddenly feeling excluded as she also noticed Aubrey, Luke and Jessica sat next to each other at the Ravenclaw table, both giving McGonagall their undivided attention, unlike their Slytherin friend. Chloe’s eyes scanned the Slytherin table and her gaze landed on Beca Mitchell, sat by herself, at the very end of the table, her head resting over her folded arms on the table. The redhead giggled to herself as she realised the brunette was asleep.

As McGonagall finally finished her speech, a round of applause erupted throughout the Great Hall and Chloe couldn’t help but laugh out loud as she watched the sound wake the sleeping girl. The look of lividity on Beca’s face was a picture, and Chloe wished she had a camera so she could capture it forever.

There was a scrambling and scraping of benches as people started moving, switching tables to sit with their friends in other houses and Chloe practically sprinted to the Slytherin table where she could see the rest of her friends making their way to. She slid along the polished mahogany benches, wrapping an arm around Tom’s waist.

“Hey you” she greeted him softly, leaning her head on his shoulder as she wrapped his right arm around her waist, pulling her close. Chloe leaned forward, in front of Tom to see Jessica, who had just sat down on Tom's other side. “Hi Jessica! Did you have a good summer?”

Aubrey and Luke joined them from the Ravenclaw table, a fraction later than Jessica, and for the remainder of the feast, the group chatted happily, and Chloe felt like she truly belonged once again, surrounded by her best friends with Tom’s arm secured around her. It was a happy feeling.

Growing up in the muggle world, Chloe never felt like she fit in, like she belong anywhere, not until she came to Hogwarts, and even then, she never really formed any close friendships until she met Aubrey in her 3rd year. But ever since then, having met Jessica and Luke and Tom, Chloe honestly felt like she could call Hogwarts her home.

An hour or so later, people began to drift off to bed, having had their fill of the spectacular welcome feast and Tom leaned his head down to whisper in Chloe’s ear. “Do you want to go to bed?”

Normally, Chloe would have shaken her head, wanting to spend as much time with her friends as possible, as their joy and happiness only fuelled her own, but after such a long day of travelling and patrols and her encounter with Beca Mitchell, Chloe felt drained. She nodded to Tom, smiling warmly as he removed his arm from around her waist only to intertwine their fingers immediately.

“Night Jess, night Luke, goodnight Bree!” Chloe called and waved to her friends, and after Tom had said his own goodbyes, they began making their way to Gryffindor tower. She and Tom always walked the long, deserted ways toward the Gryffindor common room, elongating their time together and giving themselves a break from the crowds using the main staircases. Chloe used the opportunity of an isolated passage to ask Tom the questions that had been burning inside throughout dinner. “Do you know Beca Mitchell?” She asked curiously, swinging their joined hands gently as they strolled along. It was a habit she had picked up as a child and she had never really shaken it.

He paused for a second, considering, before his features formed a small frown. “I know of her.” He replied coolly, looking down as they walked. She raised an eyebrow, indicating she wanted an elaborated response. He sighed softly, “I’ve seen her around in the common room and stuff, but she mainly keeps herself to herself. I heard she nearly got herself kicked out of school though, something about attacking another student.”

Chloe thought back to the encounter she’d had with Beca today, the way her fingers tightened slightly around that boys throat before she let him go; What Tom was telling her didn’t seem entirely unfeasible. “Why do you ask, love?” He questioned, his tone returning to neutral.

“I met her today.” Chloe began, deciding on impulse to leave out the part where that ‘meeting’ included Beca holding a guy by the throat and Chloe having to draw her wand on her. “I saw the tie and figured you might know her is all. She seemed-“ Beautiful. Incredible. Downright magical. “Interesting.”

Tom face morphed in what could’ve been classed as a scowl, but still looked so angelic on his features. “I can see what you’re trying to do Chlo, you shouldn’t bother. You can’t fix her.” He said solemnly.

“I’m not trying to do anything, Tom. I just said I thought she was interesting.” Chloe argued, however her tone was light-hearted. She and Tom never genuinely argued, Chloe could never bear to be angry at him, and Tom was so charming that rarely ever had anything to disagree on.

“Don’t befriend her.” Tom stopped walking, dropping her hand to pull her to face him, his hands holding her at her waist. “She’s dangerous Chloe, she isn’t worth a second of your time.” He said in a low voice, his dark eyes glinting in the candlelight.

Chloe opened her mouth to argue, to tell Tom that he didn’t know her and maybe she was better than the things she had been rumoured to do, to tell him that she saw something in Beca’s eyes that made her want, no, need to know more, to tell him he was wrong. But he cut her off immediately. (Chloe thought to herself, just in that moment, how alike Tom and Beca Mitchell seemed.)

“Chloe, leave it.” Chloe could hear the annoyance seeping into his voice and the way such bitter words sounded coming from his mouth made her stomach twist and her face fall. Tom noticed to change in her immediately and moved his hands from her waist to encircle her, pulling her forward into an embrace. “You’re too good, Chlo. You’re kind, and sweet, and honest, and people like Beca Mitchell destroy people like you.” His voice was earnest and soft and Chloe felt the uneasy feeling in her stomach fade away slowly.

And when Tom said. “So please, just stay away from her.”

Chloe didn’t argue. She just nodded. Tom placed a kiss on the top of her head lovingly.

They walked the rest of the way to Gryffindor Tower in an amicable silence, thoughts of Beca Mitchell still bouncing around Chloe’s skull, filling her mind with nothing but more questions.

Tom broke the silence, squeezing her hand as he reluctantly asked, “Are you angry at me?”

Chloe frowned, before her expression morphed into a soft smile. She stopped walking and took both of Tom’s hands in hers, facing him. “Of course not Tommy” she finished with a teasing tone, that made Tom chuckle, the worry leaving his eyes; she only used that nickname when she was trying to make him smile. It always worked, without fail.

“I love you Chloe, you know that right?” Tom said sincerely and even though Chloe had told Tom she loved him after 4 dates, it still made her blush uncontrollably to hear it reciprocated, and she looked down, away from him in a weak attempt to hide her reddened face.

He stopped in his tracks, turning Chloe toward him and tilting her chin upwards to look at him with his thumb and forefinger. “You know that right?” He repeated, and Chloe felt him searching her eyes for any sign of doubt.

But there was none. Chloe knew wholeheartedly that Tom loved her, just as much as she loved him. Her lips pulled into a warm smile and she fluttered her eyelashes slightly. “I know,” She replied, as she rested her hands against his waist, casually tracing patterns up and down his sides. “I love you t-“

Tom’s rough lips covered hers in a hungry kiss before she could even finish her sentence, yanking her closer to him, as he pressed against her. The way his lips moved against hers, Chloe thought, was more magical than anything taught at Hogwarts and she let out a breathy moan as his teeth nipped her bottom lip, obliterating any thoughts in her mind other than him; his lips, his hands, his teeth dragged over her lip. Chloe savoured the taste of his lips, and a frown fell across her face as he pulled away, running a hand through his, thanks to Chloe’s roaming hands, slightly less neat hair.

He stared at her for a moment and Chloe felt his gaze run through her, suddenly feeling very exposed despite being fully clothed. “You really are something,” He smile, shaking his head to himself, holding his hand for her as they turned the corner to reach Gryffindor Tower.

They reached the entrance to the common room, and the Fat Lady cooed at their intertwined fingers, causing Chloe’s blush to return as Tom laughed. He turned to her, dropping her hand to cup the side of her face, running his thumb along her jaw slowly. “Goodnight Chloe” he said softly, as he leant forward and placed a gentle kiss to her forehead, his lips lingering for a moment against her hair.

Chloe sighed into the embrace. “Night Tommy.” She giggled, stretching up on her tiptoes to plant a chaste kiss on his cheek. She watched wistfully as he headed back to his own common room, wondering how he made every movement seem so purposeful and powerful. As soon as Tom rounded the corner and disappeared from Chloe’s line of sight, she let a small sigh and turned to the Fat Lady and gave the password “Fiddlesticks”, smiling politely as she swung open to allow Chloe to enter. Chloe’s smile widened as she climbed through the passage and entered the common room.

As she looked around, breathing in; taking in the sights and sounds and scents, and in that moment, only one thought reverberated through her mind.

Chloe was home.

Chapter Text

Hogwarts didn’t half throw you in at the deep end.

Chloe’s classes had only just ended for her first day back and yet here she was, sat alone at the end of one of the tables in the Great Hall, pouring over a mass of Transfiguration homework. Chloe loved having Professor McGonagall as her teacher, she was of the absolute highest standard, but she definitely didn’t love the excessive amount of homework she gave.

Groaning in frustration, Chloe set her quill down. Having your favourite teacher in your worst subject was a nightmare. Fortunately for Chloe however, salvation had just arrived in the form of Aubrey Posen, who had strolled into the hall and sat herself down next to Chloe.

She cocked an eyebrow to the utter mess of parchment and textbooks that littered the table and smiled sympathetically. “Transfiguration? Already?”

Chloe sighed. “It’s McGonagall, what did you expect?” She let her head fall onto the table with a light thud. “I can’t do it Bree.” She moaned, her voice muffled by the paper on the desk. Sitting up slightly frantically, she carried on, “And if I don’t get at least an E then McGonagall won’t let me into her class next year and I’ll never become a Healer an-“

“Chloe, Chloe! Calm down,” Aubrey said soothingly, placing a hand over her best friend’s arm. “C’mon, what is it you’re having trouble with?”

“Vanishing spells” Chloe moaned, her hands sliding up her face and into her hair, bunching into fists.  “We’re supposed to be able to vanish a goblet and write a foot of parchment on the uses of vanishing spells and the concept of ‘non-being’”

Aubrey drew her wand; 10 and a quarter inches, Hawthorne and Phoenix Feather; and cleared her throat. She pointed her wand at an abandoned glass on the table and flicked it in a short and precise movement, “Evanesco”.

Chloe watched in awe as the cup vanished before her, however the awe slowly morphed into frustration. “How is it so easy for you?” She sighed sadly. Aubrey was her best friend, but Chloe would be lying if she said she’d never been jealous of Aubrey’s natural ability in everything. But Aubrey was possibly the least boastful person alive and she was always happy to help Chloe; she was patient and never mocked the redhead whenever a spell went wrong; Chloe was grateful for having such a wonderful best friend.

“Just give it a try!” The blonde insisted, “Copy my wand moments” she said softly, repeating the flick of her wand.

Chloe took a deep breath and gripped her wand. She focused on her own glass with a determined stare and uttered the incantation. “Evanesco!”

There was a moment of silence and Chloe hadn’t realised she’d shut her eyes until she heard Aubrey say in an optimistic tone. “It could’ve been worse!”

Reluctantly, Chloe slowly opened one eye to survey the inevitable damage and was pleasantly surprised. The glass was still there, well, half of it was; the bowl of the glass was nowhere to be seen, leaving only the stem and base. Chloe allowed herself a small smile. “Not bad for a first try, eh?” She couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that she hadn’t managed to vanish the glass with the ease Aubrey had, but she reminded herself that Aubrey was older and had had much more practice; Chloe felt better immediately.

“Not at all!” Aubrey replied genuinely, smiling supportively at Chloe. “Come on, keep trying!”

After an hour or so, a near fit of tears and several trips made by Aubrey to the kitchen for study snacks, Chloe had done it. She’d vanished that god damn goblet and her smile was wide as Aubrey cheered for her.

“I told you, you could do it!” Aubrey said with a grin, nudging Chloe with her shoulder gently.

“Miss Posen, would you be a dear and allow me to steal Chloe away for the evening?” Chloe turned to head to see Tom sauntering into the hall, wearing a devilish smirk.

“Oh, I don’t know Mr Edwards, what exactly are your intentions with my best friend?” Aubrey countered in a teasing tone as he sat down opposite the girls, reaching his hand across the table to take Chloe’s.

“Only the best for my Chloe,” He replied as he lent forward, matching Aubrey’s tone, shooting a wink in Chloe’s direction and the redhead rolled her eyes, leaning to meet him halfway across the table to peck his lips.

Aubrey let out a long, drawn out sigh. “I suppose if you insist, have her back by ten,” she teased, holding up a finger, pretending to threaten him.

Tom had already stood up by the time Aubrey had finished speaking, beckoning for Chloe to follow him.  After collecting her things, she practically skipped along the table, throwing a quick wave over her shoulder to Aubrey, matched with a shout of “Thank you!” for the blonde’s help with her homework. Aubrey raised a hand nonchalantly, her way of letting Chloe know that it was nothing.

“So how was your day, sweet?” Tom’s smooth, clear voice turned Chloe’s attention back to him. She laced their fingers together, his large, broad hand enveloping her petite one, and as they began to walk through the long corridors of the castle, Chloe shrugged, giving a noncommittal jerk of her head

“McGonagall already gave us homework,” Chloe moaned in dismay, a fleeting smile crossing her face as Tom squeezed her hand comfortingly. “ And I didn’t have potions. So it wasn’t great. How was your day?” Chloe asked, genuinely interested as she let herself be led blindly through the twisting halls and passageways, having absolutely no clue where Tom was taking her.

“Let’s see if we can change that, eh?” The smirk on Tom’s face alone, was enough to get Chloe excited about whatever he had planned for the evening, but the light, warm tone of his voice only added to Chloe’s eagerness. “My day was fine,” He added, as an afterthought, and Chloe smiled softly at the way it seemed his priority was to cheer her up, before even thinking about himself. She liked that about Tom. He always had been so incredibly selfless.

“Where are you taking me, Mr Edwards?” Chloe asked, in a high pitched teasing tone, swinging her’s and Tom’s hands between them as they walked.

He shook his head endearingly and tutted jokingly, “Just wait and see, Miss Beale” He replied, his tone equally as teasing. That was one of the many things Chloe loved about Tom, he was so easy to have a joke with, to tease, and he actually enjoyed it.

She let him pull her through seemingly endless corridors, as she told him more about her day and how she wished McGonagall would cut her some slack with the work, because it was only the first day back, until he pulled her to a stop, standing in front of her, blocking her view. “Do you trust me?” He asked, with a smirk that made Chloe’s insides melt.

“Unequivocally.” Chloe replied instantly, pulling a face that made it clear to Tom that his question was ridiculous. Chloe didn’t have to even think about it, she couldn’t think of anyone she trusted more perhaps maybe Aubrey; she had known the blonde longer, and more closely than Tom, but there was something about him that made Chloe feel so assured and safe, she couldn’t help but have every confidence in him.

“Close your eyes then. Let me lead you.” He said, in a low voice, his dark eyes glinting in the candlelight of the passage and Chloe willingly obliged, her eyes fluttering closed as she felt Tom take her hand and began to guide her the remainder of the way to wherever he was taking her.

Eyes still firmly shut, she heard him mutter “Alohamora” and then the sound of stone on stone, moving and shifting, and she felt a breeze against her face for the first time that day. So they were going outside, Chloe thought to herself, a small smile playing on her lips as her curiosity burned through her, twisting in her stomach and squeezing through her heart as she wondered where on earth Tom was taking her.

“You can open your eyes now.” Tom never dallied with anything except getting straight to the point, a sentiment Chloe appreciated, yet simultaneously could never understand; it wasn’t like she enjoyed dancing around awkward, unspoken issues – she was with Tom regarding his directness on that front, but sometimes Chloe wished that he wouldn’t be so blunt all of the time.

As she opened her eyes, Chloe gasped, her eyes lighting up as they took in Tom’s surprise: Laid before them, as the sun was beginning to set over the horizon of the castle grounds, was a picnic blanket; set out with what looked to be all of Chloe’s favourite things. She was pulling Tom into a bone crushing embrace before he had chance to brace himself and the pair tumbled over, courtesy of Chloe’s enthusiasm.

Chloe grinned mischievously, giggling at the disgruntled, yet endearing look plastered across Tom’s face that appeared once the initial shock of being tackled to the ground had worn off. She rolled herself off him, helping him to a sitting position using that hand that wasn’t currently holding herself up, and she pouted slightly as he groaned, rubbing a spot on the back of his head. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly, and if anybody had been within a ten metre radius of the couple, they’d have been able to tell in an instant that her apology was genuine. Chloe hated pain; she hated feeling it, she hated knowing that others were feeling it and she definitely hated being the cause of it, whether it be to herself or somebody else. And so whenever she had caused somebody pain, she felt the need to remedy it immediately, to do anything within her power to take that pain away. “Let me kiss it better?” She offered, with a small smile as she brushed a stray piece of Tom’s hair away from his face.

Thankfully, he chuckled and nodded, sitting up fully and commenting on how he hoped Chloe wouldn’t treat all her patients like that when she became a healer. Chloe loved the way Tom had complete and utter faith in her ability, the way he was so adamant that she could become anything she set her mind to. She pressed her lips lightly against the back of his head, breathing in the scent of his hair; he smelled like coffee and liquorice, and despite not particularly caring for either, Chloe reveled in the aroma.

She considered, adding up all the little things she knew she loved about Tom and wondered if they equated to her being in love with him. Chloe didn’t know, nor in this moment, did she particularly care. “This looks amazing,” She said genuinely, gesturing towards the now slightly disheveled blanket. “Thank you.” Chloe pressed her lips against the corner of Tom’s, barely touching as she brushed his lips.

He smiled in response, his signature lopsided grin that made his eyes glint and had Chloe’s heart aching, as he picked up one of the bottles of Butterbeer that lay scattered around them, discarding the bottle top with a lazy flick of his wand and handed it to Chloe.

They sat like that, eating and drinking and laughing, as they watched the sun set over the grounds, filling the sky with strokes of pink and gold and amber, and as Chloe thought about she’d never seen anything so beautiful, her thoughts flitted to the mysterious girl she had encountered on the train, Beca Mitchell, and how just for a moment, Chloe found herself completely lost in the brunette’s deep blue eyes, with their dark shadows and highlighted flecks of gold and turquoise that shone in the sunlight.

Maybe Chloe had seen something as beautiful before.  

Chapter Text

Quidditch season was fast approaching, and Chloe couldn’t be more excited.

She had managed to sweet talk Donald, a 7th year who was captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team, into letting her watch the practice for their upcoming match against Slytherin and after fluttering her eyelashes a little, a few well placed winks and an insistence that she wasn’t there to steal tactics for the Ravenclaw team, she’d convinced him to let Aubrey watch too.

As a muggleborn, Chloe found quidditch absolutely fascinating. A terrible experience in primary school involving a gang of boys and a couple of footballs left her with a great disdain for sport, and there had been no exception to this, until she came to Hogwarts.

However broomsticks and Chloe did not get on well. She learnt this after her first flying lesson in first year after she quite promptly fell on her arse and broke her tailbone. Madam Pomfrey had fixed her up in a flash, but Chloe had never been on broomstick since.

Watching other people fly though, was Chloe’s favourite pastime.

Smiling gratefully as Aubrey passed her a packet of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, Chloe picked a red one out, it looked innocent enough, and popped it in her mouth. And hastily spat it out onto the quidditch bleachers.

“Oh my god, that was disgusting!” Chloe exclaimed, wiping her mouth with a look of deep displeasure on her face. At Aubrey’s puzzled, yet amused look, she elaborated, “Chili.” with a groan. As far as spicing things up in other aspects of her life went, Chloe was completely unopposed but when it came to food, she literally couldn’t think of anything worse.

“Bad luck, Chloe. My turn!” Aubrey started with a solemn tone, but finished brightly, her gaze solely focused on Chloe. Aubrey really didn’t care for quidditch. At least she didn’t anymore, Chloe gathered. Her and Aubrey had used to go to every match together, sitting together in the stands, despite being in different houses but for the last few months of last year, Aubrey began declining Chloe’s invitations to watch the matches together, passing the redhead off with excuses of ‘too much homework’ or just ‘not being in the mood’. Despite her deathly curious nature, Chloe had never pried into why Aubrey had stopped coming to the games but her suspicions told her that it something to do with the blonde no longer wanting anything to do with Stacie Conrad, who happened to be the Ravenclaw seeker.

Chloe didn’t usually let her curiosity run away with her. She’d learnt the valuable lesson to keep it under wraps pretty early on in life, and normally she could managed just fine, but something about Aubrey’s secretive nature regarding what exactly had happened between her and Stacie didn’t sit right with Chloe, and she found a multitude of questions burning against the tip of her tongue.

“What happened between you and Stacie Conrad?”

The silence that had once been pleasant, turned stale and the air hung heavy between the two girls. Chloe bit down on her bottom lip, chewing anxiously as she knew immediately she had overstepped an unspoken boundary. She opened her mouth, profuse apologies ready to spill from her lips at any given moment but Aubrey spoke before she could get the chance.

“That took you a while. You’ve been waiting to ask for a long time.” Aubrey’s response wasn’t a question, and so Chloe didn’t take it as one, simply nodding her head slowly.

“You seemed as if you didn’t want to talk about it, so I never did.” The redhead explained, caution apparent in her tone. It wasn’t that she was scared of Aubrey, they had known one another long enough to forgo that particular worry; Chloe just hated upsetting people, and even the possibility of upsetting her best friend, the person she cared most about, had Chloe’s stomach turning.

“I never brought it up cause I didn’t feel ready to. I figured maybe if I waited for you to ask, I might feel differently.” Aubrey’s reply surprised Chloe, and relief washed over her as she scanned to blonde for signs she was distressed in any way, and found none.

“And do you? Feel differently?”

Aubrey opened her mouth to speak before seemingly deciding against it; Chloe could practically see the struggle happening inside of her best friend, Aubrey’s entire posture slumped and the sight nearly brought a tear to Chloe’s eye. She wasn’t used to seeing her usually so exuberant friend so disheartened.

After a long pause, Aubrey’s voice came in barely more than a whisper, sounding rough and raw and honest. “I miss her so much.”

Questions flitted through Chloe’s mind but she knew Aubrey well enough after their two years of friendship to know that it was best to remain quiet and let Aubrey explain in her own time, on her own terms. And so Chloe waited, her hand moving to rest against the blonde’s knee supportively.

“You know we were friends last year, right?” Chloe nodded. “We had practically every class together and we really go to know each other, you know? We we’re so close.” Chloe squeezed Aubrey’s thigh gently, nodding again. She knew better than anyone just how close the pair had gotten over the course of last year, the time she spent with Aubrey often being filled with the blonde marveling at Stacie Conrad. Not that Chloe minded, she herself was just as preoccupied with a certain dark haired Slytherin boy.

“And well, after a while, I guess I started wishing she wasn’t just my friend. Except I didn’t really know that. Not until I saw her on the train after not speaking to her all summer. All I knew at the time was that I felt like a white hot knife was twisting in my stomach whenever she brought someone back to the dorm. I mean, I knew she had a reputation, and because i’m not a completely awful person, I tried to ignore it, but somehow it got to the point where I just couldn’t.” Aubrey drew in a long, shaky breath and Chloe watched, waiting patiently for her to continue. “The morning after one too many of her ‘friends’,” Chloe physically shuddered at the pure bitterness in Aubrey’s voice as she uttered that word. “ had left, I completely blew up at her - I called her a bunch of awful things; a slut, a whore, and I didn’t even really know why, and she got angry and said I understood nothing and called me some pretty awful things back, and it all got so heated and she asked me why I cared so much and I couldn’t give her a straight answer because I didn’t know so I told her I didn’t care at all. And she said if I didn’t care about her, then I might as well never talk to her again. So I said fine, and she left.”   

Chloe mused over Aubrey’s words, the silence sitting comfortably between them now. It was obvious to her that Aubrey had had a crush on Stacie for a long while, but she had never stopped to consider the Aubrey hadn’t really understood her own feelings. She hadn’t even known Aubrey felt like that about girls, not that Chloe cared in the slightest. Maybe Aubrey hadn’t either. Chloe’s family were extraordinarily liberal and no assumptions had ever been made regarding her sexuality growing up, but from what little Chloe knew of Aubrey’s family, they had very different views. Maybe the pressure to conform to societal, and parental expectations had meant Aubrey had suppressed her own feelings so much, she didn’t even know herself.

“And you haven’t spoken since?” Chloe asked, her voice heavy with sadness on her best friend’s behalf. She couldn’t fathom losing somebody so close to her.

“Only once.” Aubrey’s said solemnly and the look her face told Chloe she was picturing the encounter vividly. “Do you remember the attack in Diagon Alley last May?”

Chloe nodded, she couldn’t forget.

“Stacie’s father was one of the men they killed.” Aubrey’s voice was laced with pure, raw sadness and Chloe could feel tears welling in her eyes at the sound. “I ran into her on patrol, after she found out; drunk out of her mind, mascara all over her face. I was still so angry and hurt, but I couldn’t just leave her in that state, so I practically carried her all the way back to the dorm. After I put her to bed, she grabbed me by the arm and asked me to stay, but I couldn’t do it, I knew how selfish I was being but I just couldn’t. So I left. And when I came back after I finished my patrol she’d gone, to someone else’s bed.” Aubrey finished with bitter, yet resigned sigh. “Do you think I was wrong Chlo? To leave?”

Chloe had a very strong moral character, and many of her friends often relied on her to rule difficult decisions as she somehow always knew what the best way to proceed was. She was proud of her morals and it was without question that she didn’t think Aubrey was in the wrong.

“I think you did what you could Bree, and it isn’t selfish to put yourself first. God knows you spend a lot of time and effort trying to please other people.” Chloe replied instantly, offering Aubrey a small, supportive smile. Her eyes flitted back towards the pitch and her smile widened into a full blown grin as she watched Donald score. She cheered loudly, and from across the pitch, he threw her a thumbs up, which made her heart swell. Chloe absolutely adored making people happy. She returned her attention to Aubrey, moving the hand that was resting against her leg to squeeze her hand. “I really am sorry about the way things ended between you and Stacie. Do you think there’s any way you could resolve things? I mean, you said yourself, you miss her.”

Looking down, Aubrey shook her head slowly and the action alone had her desperate to pull Aubrey into a smothering hug and, take away all of her sadness. “You heard her on the train, she’s made it pretty clear she wants nothing more to do with me Chlo.”

Chloe could feel herself being pulled lower and lower, just from the weight behind Aubrey’s words. She herself had lost friends throughout her childhood, for one reason or another, but she couldn’t quite understand the anguish in her friend’s tone. Chloe couldn’t recall ever being as disheartened about losing a friend. Except to Aubrey, Stacie wasn’t just a friend, was she?

“You still have feelings for her.” It wasn’t a question, nor an accusation and Chloe hoped it didn’t come across as either.

“I don’t know, all I know is it hurts to look at her.” Aubrey raised her free hand, placing it over her chest. “Every time I think about her, I feel it, right here.”

Chloe’s heart ached.

“Oh Bree, I’m sorry. I’m always here for you though, you know that.” Chloe said softly, as she leaned into Aubrey, bumping their shoulders together.

“I know you are, thanks Chloe. And thank you for listening, I guess I never really noticed just how much bottling everything up sucks. You’re such a good friend.”  Chloe felt her stomach twist pleasantly as her heart swelled with pride. Tom often threw compliments at her, meaningless superficial ones that made Chloe smile, but that she didn’t particularly care for at times. Compliments like this however, meant the world to Chloe and she could barely contain her grin as she bundled Aubrey into a tight hug.

The sound of yelling broke the pair apart and they both turned to see what on earth the commotion was. What they saw, was an angry looking Luke, their good friend and Ravenclaw quidditch captain, flanked by none other than Stacie Conrad, who even from afar, Chloe could see was wearing a furious expression.

“This is our time to use the pitch!” They heard Stacie yell, and the tone of her voice had the pair hurrying down from the stands to go and intervene if necessary, Aubrey’s face falling into a small frown at the sound of the other girl’s voice.

We booked it!” Donald retorted, squaring up to Stacie as the remnants of the Gryffindor team dropped out of the sky to back him up. Luke hung behind Stacie, looking annoyed, but also slightly uncomfortable at the situation. Chloe felt for him, he really didn’t get along well with any sort of conflict, even if he thought he was in the right.

“Yeah, after he told our entire team our practice was cancelled!” Stacie fired back, gesturing wildly to the new Gryffindor seeker, whose name Chloe did not know, a 6th year with tan skin and dark curly hair. She started towards the boy, “You son of a-”

“Take another step and I’ll dock you 50 points. I don’t care if we’re in the same house.” Aubrey called out, with a shaky voice, as she walked up to Stacie and Luke, Chloe hot on her heels.

“Oh the cavalry’s here. Fucking fantastic. Fuck off Posen.” The word’s left Stacie’s mouth with such vehemence that Chloe physically flinched, an action, she noticed was mirrored by Luke. Aubrey however, stood her ground. The trembling in her hands didn’t go unnoticed by Chloe, though.

“Charming.” Aubrey replied smoothly, her voice laced with sarcasm that Chloe knew was a telltale cover up for the fact that Aubrey was extremely nervous. “Luke, can you please remove Conrad from the pitch. You can practice after classes tomorrow.”

Luke nodded, reaching out to take Stacie’s arm but she wrenched it from his grasp violently. “Are you fucking kidding me? You can’t even say my fucking name, can you?” She taunted, her voice sour and full of disdain.

“Like you said mine, you mean?” The words flew from Aubrey’s mouth like bullets and Chloe saw Stacie’s resolve falter, only for a second, before she raised an eyebrow and wrinkled her nose.

“My apologies. Fuck off Aubrey. “ Aubrey’s response came immediately.

“With pleasure, Stace.”

Chapter Text

The subsequent hours after the confrontation on the quidditch pitch were spent with Aubrey; soothing and calming the blonde, who sobbed quietly into Chloe’s shoulder, her fingers digging into the fabric of Chloe’s robes as she cried, not that the redhead would tell a soul. She knew Aubrey was an extraordinarily private person, and having it spread around the school that she had participated in a blazing argument with her own house’s Seeker, only to have blindly stormed her way back to her common room to cry her eyes out, would have been damaging to anyone’s reputation, let alone the Head Girl’s.

Once she was certain Aubrey was decidedly calmer, Chloe allowed herself to stop rubbing circles on the blonde’s back and pull away from her, using the sides of her thumbs to wipe any stray tears from her face, giving her a small pat on the cheek when Chloe deemed her presentable.

“Thanks Chlo’ “ Aubrey mumbled softly, mirroring Chloe’s actions and wiping her cheeks, just to make sure. “For staying, I mean.”

Chloe shook her head endearingly, a small smile playing on her lips as she tilted her head a fraction to look at her best friend. “Of course, I wasn’t exactly gonna leave you Bree.” She hesitated for a moment, her teeth tugging at her lip nervously as she thought about how exactly to phrase her next question. “Do you… Wanna, maybe, talk… About it?”

Aubrey smiled gratefully, her eyebrows furrowing a fraction as she considered, her teeth worrying at her lip. “I feel awful.” She admitted in a low voice, her gaze lowering as she became suddenly fixated on a spec of dust at the foot of her bed.

The redhead frowned, her head tilting even further as she watched the way Aubrey’s face fell. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” Chloe replied softly, instantly reaching to place a comforting hand on her friend’s knee, her mind on the interaction at the quidditch pitch.

“I left her.” Aubrey’s mind was clearly somewhere else, and with those words, Chloe knew exactly what she was thinking about. Her grip on the blonde’s leg tightened the slightest bit.

“You weren’t under any obligation to stay” Chloe countered, her tone soothing and calm as she stroked small circles over Aubrey’s skin, through the fabric of her skirt, her chest tightening almost painfully at the sadness lacing it’s way through Aubrey’s voice.

“She asked.” Aubrey replied simply, as she stared straight into Chloe’s impossibly pale blue eyes, before dropping her gaze once more, fiddling with a stray thread on the edge of her duvet, swallowing harshly. “That should have been enough.”

“Bree…” Chloe exhaled in response, her hand moving up Aubrey’s leg to rest against her thigh. “I promise you, you did nothing wrong. You and Stacie weren’t even friends anymore, you didn't owe her anything, you don't owe her anything.”

Aubrey nodded to herself, musing over Chloe's words. Her voice seemed to brighten a little when she spoke again. “I suppose you're right.

“I always am!” Chloe replied smoothly, a smile creeping across her face as she removed her hand from Aubrey's leg, tucking it behind her back as an extra support, her fingers clenching around the bed sheets.

Her smile widened as she saw her grin mirrored in Aubrey's lips.

“Now, I have an important question for you.” Chloe said brightly, straightening her back and settling herself more securely on the bed, turning herself to face the blonde, crossing her legs.

Aubrey's raised eyebrows were enough of a response that Chloe continued immediately.

“Does your seemingly unsolvable feud with a certain Ravenclaw quidditch team member mean you're not coming to the match with me on Saturday? Because it's the first game of the season and we haven't been to one together sinc-”

“Chloe.” Aubrey gently placed a hand on each of the redhead's knees in a desperate attempt to stop her rambling. “Of course I'm coming to the game with you. Wouldn't miss Ravenclaw vs Slytherin for the world.” She added with a small chuckle.

Chloe's eyebrows shot up, her throat suddenly much drier as her thoughts wandered to a certain brunette who happened to be captain of the Slytherin quidditch team.. “Slytherin? I thought we were playing you?” she queried.

Aubrey shook her head. “They rescheduled all the matches. You guys play Hufflepuff in a few weeks.”

Chloe nodded, accepting Aubrey's words as the truth, a broad smile spreading across her cheeks at the notion that she would be seeing Beca Mitchell much sooner than she anticipated.

 

 


 

The majority of the school turned out for the first match of the season, and Chloe managed to secure a spot for her and Aubrey at the very front of the stands, both girls donned in the traditional blue and silver to support Ravenclaw as the crowd surrounding them cheered, despite the fact that the players hadn’t even arrived on the pitch yet.

“I’m excited to see Luke in action, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen him play.” Aubrey said happily, eagerly watching the pitch for any sign of their friend. Chloe was glad she was excited, she hadn’t been to a quidditch match in a long time, thanks to her desperate desire to avoid anything and everything to do with a certain Stacie Conrad.

“He’s improved a lot since you last watched him, I really think he could go professional next year. Me and Jess were talking about inviting a scout to watch him play later on in the year.” Chloe replied, her eyes also glued to the pitch, but they were definitely not watching out for their friend, not that Chloe would ever admit to it.

Aubrey tore her gaze away from the pitch to stare at Chloe, smiling endearingly at just how selfless and caring her best friend was. She always thought of other people before herself, a trait that Aubrey would never claim to have, especially since that encounter with the Ravenclaw seeker. “You really are something else Chlo, that’s a brilliant idea.” Aubrey encouraged, her smile wide, and Chloe beamed in response, her instinctual reaction to any sort of compliment.

She was about to thank the blonde, when a surge of noise from the crowd erupted around them and both girls returned their attention to the pitch to see the two teams making their way to the centre. Whilst Aubrey’s eyes, who she would swear were watching Luke the entire time if anybody asked, followed the player with “Conrad” emblazoned on her back in striking silver letters, Chloe allowed her gaze to wander until she spotted the dark haired girl with “Mitchell” written across her back, at the head of the Slytherin team line.

Chloe watched intently, her gaze fixed on the girl as she shook hands with Luke, noticing even from afar, the way her fingers clenched around his, just that little bit too tightly. She noticed the way it was Luke that flinched as they shook hands, and how it was him that was the first the wrench his hand away, shaking it slightly before gripping his broom and kicking off from the ground, circling around his players before getting into his position. She watched as Beca flew to directly opposite Stacie, every muscle in her body tensed as she waited, anticipating the whistle which, as soon as it rang out across the stadium, set her off like a rocket, leaving Stacie in the metaphorical dust.

The way Beca looped and twisted and turned, with such grace and agility, had Chloe utterly mesmerised. She'd seen good flying before, Luke was an incredible flier and an amazing player, but this; the way even the smallest flick of her wrist could change her course instantaneously, without dislodging so much as a hair, was something completely new to Chloe. It made her stomach twist and her lips part in awe.

A loud cheer brought Chloe out of her Beca Mitchell induced trance, and her head whipped away from the said brunette, to see Luke punching the air, having apparently just scored. A little late, Chloe clapped and cheered, and Aubrey nudged her gently. “Who were you watching? It obviously wasn't Luke.”

“I was just looking for the snitch.” Chloe replied idly, as her eyes scanned the pitch for the dark haired girl currently clouding her thoughts. Aubrey hummed skeptically in response, her eyes not leaving the pitch either. Once she had spotted her again, Chloe watched intently as Beca circled the pitch from above, not unlike a hawk as she sought out the snitch. She noticed in her peripheral vision that Stacie had opted for a different tactic, circling the pitch close to the ground, underneath the majority of the players.

Chloe hadn’t realised just how long she’d been staring at the brunette, as when she looked up, she saw on the scoreboard that it was 170-10 to Ravenclaw, a faint blush creeping across her cheeks at her new found self-awareness. She wasn’t embarrassed as such; Chloe was rarely embarrassed in any way, her exuberant confidence usually outshining anything that could possibly make her feel self-conscious or awkward; but something about the notion of staring at someone for so long that she tuned out from the world around her caused a bout of shame to wash over her, sitting heavy in her stomach as she considered what that even meant.

It didn’t have to mean anything, Chloe quickly concluded, sitting further back in her seat as she attempted, somewhat pathetically, to focus on the game; a feat that swiftly defeated her, as she allowed more and more thoughts of the Slytherin seeker to swim through her mind. It didn’t have to mean anything that Chloe enjoyed looking at Beca Mitchell; anyone with eyes could see that she was exceedingly attractive, and the disconnected, standoffish personality she had displayed to Chloe at their first meeting had only made her seem more attractive, in Chloe’s eyes. It didn’t have to mean anything, that the idea that she was attracted to Beca had crossed Chloe’s mind more than once since then, but the redhead had downplayed it to the fact that Beca Mitchell and Tom shared many qualities; the dark hair, the direct manner, the same glint in their eye. It didn’t have to mean anything, as Chloe watched as both Stacie and Beca shot like fireworks in the same direction, both gaining speed exponentially in their pursuit of the snitch, that she was secretly hoping for the brunette to catch it, despite her best friend being in the opposing house. It didn’t have to mean anything that her heart leapt inside her chest as she watched Beca Mitchell raise her fist to sky, and everybody could see, even from afar, the fluttering wings of the snitch encapsulated in her firm grasp.

“We won!” Chloe’s head whipped round to face Aubrey, who was wearing a smile worthy of the Cheshire Cat, completely contrasting the redhead’s now baffled expression.

“But B-” Chloe stopped herself short, she and Beca Mitchell were in no way, on a first name basis. “But Mitchell caught the snitch for Slytherin!”

“Look at the scoreboard Chlo!” Aubrey squealed excitedly, her heels bouncing, and Chloe redirected her attention to said scoreboard, her jaw dropping as she saw it read. ‘Ravenclaw: 170, Slytherin: 160.’ “Mitchell caught the snitch, but we still won!”

As Chloe allowed herself to pulled through the swarming crowds, by Aubrey, to celebrate with Luke and Jessica, she found herself wondered why on earth Beca would catch the snitch when she knew it would mean their defeat. Maybe she had misread the scoreboard and thought it would secure their win? Maybe she was channeling Viktor Krum, and knew they were going to lose, and wanted to make their defeat less humiliating? Maybe she was simply nervous for her first game as captain; the youngest Slytherin captain in history, Chloe had discovered; and panicked, catching the snitch without even thinking?  

Her thoughts were interrupted as she and Aubrey made their way onto the pitch, both of them being immediately being pulled into bone crushing embraces by their friends. “Chloe” Jessica cried happily after she pulled away from her. “Did you see me score five goals?!” She asked excitedly, and Chloe nodded enthusiastically in response, blatantly ignoring the way she noticed Aubrey’s lips curl into a smirk, because they both knew that Chloe hadn’t been paying any attention to anything other than a certain dark haired Slytherin.

“We’re gonna go shower and then head to the common room to celebrate, you coming?” Luke smiled widely, running a hand through his cropped blonde hair as she looked between Aubrey and Chloe.

The former nodded eagerly and the latter smiled gently and replied, “I will later, I said I would go and find Tom after the match. I’m sure he’ll need consoling after that defeat.” Chloe giggled and the others laughed along with her. “I’ll meet you guys in the common room. Need to make sure I can do the riddle.” She added with another chuckle. Despite what she sometimes told herself in rare, fleeting moments of self-doubt, usually transfiguration related, Chloe was extremely intelligent, and she had spend enough time with her Ravenclaw cohorts to be able to bypass their common room password riddles with relative ease, despite being a Gryffindor.

She waved goodbye to her friends and their teammates, and set off in search of Tom, who no doubt would have skulked off back to the Slytherin dungeon to sulk about losing, even though he wasn’t even on the team; he was just as hopeless, if not more so than Chloe when it came to actually flying a broom. The stroll through the grounds and back up to the castle gave Chloe time to reflect, and she found herself comparing Beca Mitchell to Tom when they had first met; Tom had been just as blunt and abrasive, and it had taken several attempts of initiating conversation, and eventually giving up on that tactic and asking him to a quidditch game, to actually befriend him. Chloe wondered if there was any way she could scale the walls she could feel surrounding the dark haired girl on whom she was so fixated.

The sun had already began to set, and the corridors inside were illuminated with a soft glow from row upon row of candles along the walls. Many of the students had either already headed back to their common rooms, the Great Hall, or were still at the quidditch pitch, and so the passageway Chloe walked through on her way to the Slytherin common room was completely deserted. She rounded a corner, whistling quietly to herself as she strolled along, only stopping when she heard a distant voice, cursing; Chloe was instantly curious.

“Fucking- Stupid goddamn motherfucking-” Chloe rounded another corner, her steps speeding up as they brought her closer to the source of the voice, which Chloe was suddenly certain belonged to-

“Beca?” Chloe inwardly cursed herself at the casual way the name rolled off her tongue, as if it belonged there. She had to remind herself that they weren’t friends, in any capacity. The dark haired girl was sat by the side of a large stone pillar that extended from floor to ceiling; that, if Chloe had approached from the other end of the corridor, would have hidden her from the redhead’s view; her knees curled to her chest, her hands clenched into fists that covered her face. Chloe felt her heart ache at the sight of the other girl in such a foetal position.

At the mention of her name, the brunette looked up, lowering her arms to rest against her knees as a look of utter disdain filled Beca’s features; from the crease between her eyebrows to the way her lip curled upwards into a small sneer. “Do I know you?” She asked, her voice laced with derision as she stared up at Chloe, who only found herself endeared at Beca’s, to be quite frank, rudeness, although her heart sank at the redness that rimmed her eyes.

“I’m Chlo-”

“I don’t care, sweetheart. ” Beca interrupted, her frown darkening to an outright glare than ran through Chloe like a knife. “Now, would you kindly fuck off and leave me alone?”

“You swear an awful lot, you know.” Chloe replied lightly, as she sat herself again the cold, stone floor opposite the brunette, completely disregarding her request for Chloe to leave. “A lot of people think that people who swear are less intelligent, but it was actually recently proven that people who curse a lot actually have much stronger language skills and higher verbal intelligenc-”

“You talk an awful lot, you know.” Beca interrupted again, her tone mocking Chloe’s previous words with an edge that made the hairs on the back of Chloe’s neck stand up, however not in an entirely unpleasant way.

“I’ve been told.” Chloe replied instantly, her voice still light and airy, a small smile playing on her lips at the notion she was actually having a conversation, albeit almost completely one sided, with Beca Mitchell. “You seemed upset.” She continued in a lower voice, one laced with concern, as she tilted her head a fraction as she watched Beca.

Beca stared into Chloe's eyes for a moment, before her glare dissipated into a look of recognition, her eyes still narrowed. “You’re the one who nearly gave me a detention.” The dark haired girl said suspiciously, although her posture relaxed slightly, a move that didn’t go unnoticed by the redhead.

“Emphasis on ‘Nearly’” Chloe said in a sing-song voice, feeling both amused and joyful that the brunette was no longer looking at her like she was deciding the best way to kill her. “What’s wrong?”

“Are you fucking serious?” No, instead of looking at Chloe like she was deciding on how to murder her, she was staring at her like she was suffering from a serious episode of insanity. “ I lost.”

Chloe shrugged her shoulders. “Only by ten points.” She offered, although she knew it was unlikely it would do anything to reassure the brunette. Chloe could practically feel the disappointment and shame radiating from the brunette.

“Only because I caught the snitch.” Beca snapped, her glare returning as she regarded Chloe with a look of complete detestation.

“You’d have lost by 310 points if Stacie had caught it.” Chloe countered, unphased by the other girl’s outburst. “If anything, you saved your team a lot of embarrassment,”

Beca scoffed quietly. “ My team.” before seemingly considering Chloe’s statement, her face falling. “I don’t know how to be a captain. We scored one goal.” She replied sadly, and the raw, honest emotion Chloe could see on the brunette’s face, and feel in her voice made her stomach twinge uncomfortably.

A smile grew on Chloe’s face; helping people, offering advice, was her forte, and she shifted a few inches closer to the brunette. “So get your chasers to work on scoring techniques and passing, working together, and anticipating the keeper’s movements. That’ll help your keeper out too and he’ll get better at actually saving the goals. Get your beaters to work on their aim, and get them to go for the chasers more, the only person I saw them aim at today was Stacie. Keeping the other team’s seeker away from you is all well and good, but when it's costing you goals, it isn’t worth it really.”

Beca returned Chloe’s smile, for the tiniest fraction of a second, before remembering herself, her lips pulling into a sneer rather than a smile. “You sure seem to think you know a lot about quidditch.” She stated, her voice filled with an air of contempt that even Chloe could see was false, to an extent.

“I do!” Chloe replied brightly, a wide smile playing on her lips, as she stood up quite abruptly, deeming Beca to be in much better spirits. “One last thing before I go; Play rock, paper, scissors with me?”

The brunette’s lips parted slightly, unsure whether Chloe was joking or not, before she rolled her eyes. “If I agree, will you finally leave me the fuck alone?”

Chloe nodded confidently, and held out her fist and reluctantly, after throwing Chloe another look which was obviously meant to question her sanity, Beca did the same. “Okay. Rock, paper, scissors.” Chloe called brightly, as she flattened her hand into the ‘paper’ shape, a smirk appearing on her features as she Beca held out two fingers in the shape of ‘scissors’

“See? Everybody loses sometimes.” Chloe said with a soft giggle, and although the brunette rolled her eyes again, Chloe was certain she saw the beginnings of a smile cross her features.

The redhead spun on her heel, and began strolling along the corridor towards Ravenclaw tower, her engagement with Tom seemingly forgotten, when she heard the other girl speak again.

“What did you say your name was?” Beca called out, her voice echoing along the corridor as she leaned forward, looking past the pillar at the other girl.

“Chloe.” The redhead replied instantly, her smile widening almost painfully as she realised she'd managed to climb a few steps up the walls surrounding Beca Mitchell. “My name is Chloe Beale.”

Chapter Text

“I can only live where there is light, but I will die if light shines upon me. What am I?” The bronze, eagle shaped door knocker that guarded the common room questioned as Chloe approached the door, still full of elation from her, much more pleasant than the first, encounter with Beca Mitchell.

It didn’t take her long to consider, and smile a small, genuine and endearing smile as the knocker before replying. “A shadow,” in a clear and confident voice, her smile widening as the door swung open to reveal the Ravenclaw common room which, as she strolled through the archway, seemed to be in the midst of an extraordinarily loud and lively celebration.

A blonde boy with a sloppy grin that Chloe didn’t recognise thrust a bottle of butterbeer into her hand, laughing joyfully, before being pulled away by his group of friends, and Chloe sipped it slowly as she drifted through the throngs of people, seeking out her friends. She found the three of them, lounging lazily on a group of sofas at the edge of the room, hidden behind a set of bookcases. “Chloe! You made it!” Aubrey exclaimed, moving her legs from where they were resting over the edge of the arm of the sofa so that Chloe had space to sit down.

“Sorry I took so long.” Chloe smiled as she sank into the plush settee next to her best friend, taking another sip of her drink and relaxing into her seat, stretching out her legs and back.

“Too busy with lover boy making magic of your own?” Luke sniggered, obviously slightly tipsy, his usually pale cheeks flushed pink with inebriation.

Confusion flooded Chloe's features for a flicker of a moment until the realisation of Luke's words hit her square in the face; Tom. She had completely forgotten to go and meet him in her Beca Mitchell induced euphoria. Both Luke and Jess seemed too merry to notice Chloe's internal struggle, but she felt the stone cold sober Aubrey’s eyes burning through her and she inwardly cursed her best friend’s attentive nature. She exhaled a nervous chuckle, “No, nothing like that.” she replied in what she hoped was a confident voice as she watched Aubrey raise an eyebrow at her momentarily, her eyes narrowing a fraction, before she shrugged, not questioning Chloe's answer, despite the fact they both knew it wasn't exactly the truth.

She felt guilty for not being entirely truthful with Aubrey, the girl with whom she had always shared everything, but truth be told, Chloe was embarrassed to admit she'd forgotten to even meet her boyfriend after she'd become too preoccupied with a girl she barely knew. But Aubrey seemed preoccupied herself, the blonde’s gaze now fixed on Stacie Conrad, who was sat alone at a darkened edge of the room, swigging great slugs of firewhisky, from what Chloe could gather, from the bottle.

The blonde’s face morphed into an expression of deep sadness and concern, and Chloe was about to do something; say something to comfort Aubrey or move to pull the blonde into an embrace that Chloe hoped would take away some of her sadness; but a younger Ravenclaw boy with curly dark hair interrupted her thoughts as he stuttered out “Excuse me, are you Chloe?” as he swayed on the spot where he stood, obviously nervous in the presence of a prefect, the quidditch captain, the star chaser and the head girl.

“Yeah, that's me.” Chloe sat up, straightening her back as she leaned forwards to look at the boy more thoroughly, her curiosity peaking.

“T-Tom’s outside for you. Told me to find you.” the dark haired boy stammered out and his words caused a small frown to appear on Chloe's face. Tom was exceedingly intelligent, he could bypass the riddle with ease, so why was he choosing to send an, obviously terrified, boy to look for her?

“I'll go and see what he wants.” Chloe announced to the group, but it was only really Aubrey who was paying any attention, nodding at Chloe. “Thanks for letting me know!” She said animatedly to the younger boy, a beaming smile on her cheeks, which he reflected with much less enthusiasm, before he dashed off to presumably find his friends.

The butterbeer had gone to her head slightly, and clambering out of the passage behind the eagle knocker proved slightly more difficult than Chloe had initially anticipated, and she was probably coming across as extremely undignified, not that she cared, as she came face to face with Tom.

“You're not dead then.” He stated bluntly, his voice having lost all its usual charm and warmth in a way that set Chloe on edge, but she could understand why he would be annoyed at her forgetting about him, so stepped closer and took his hand to soothe him.

“I'm sorry Tommy.” Chloe replied softly, her gaze fixed on her hand, her thumb running over the side of his repetitively. “I got so swept up in the match-” And Beca Mitchell. “That I just forgot.” she sighed apologetically, letting her free hand wander up his side. “Let me make it up to you.” she husked, her fingers closing around the back of his neck.

Tom reached behind his neck to wrench away Chloe’s hand, taking a step away from her. “So you came straight up here with the others?” He asked in an emotionless voice, his intense stare bearing down on Chloe like a ton of bricks, his eyes narrow and unreadable.

Chloe didn't know why she lied. She hated lying principally, and she had never lied to Tom before, but there was something about her meeting with Beca Mitchell that made her want to keep it a secret, keep it locked away like a sacred treasure unbeknownst to everyone but her. Maybe it was the subconscious shame of putting her boyfriend aside for a girl she barely knew, but was undeniably attracted to. Or maybe it was the memory of Tom’s averse reaction to the mention of Beca Mitchell when she had first asked about her. She didn't know why, but the lie rolled of Chloe's tongue easily as she replied. “Of course.”

“Liar.” Tom replied in a low, dangerous voice that made Chloe's heart pound in her chest, in the most unpleasant way. “I saw you. With her. ” The final word left Tom’s lips in a tone of utter disdain and Chloe almost felt angry because he knew absolutely nothing about Beca and she couldn't understand his judgement of her.

“Tom I-” Chloe started, hastily trying to explain herself because she honestly hadn't meant to lie, but he quickly cut her off, his voice raising as he spoke in an increasingly agitated and aggressive manner.

“I told you you to stay away from her.” He interrupted, his voice shaking with anger that really should have alarmed Chloe because Tom was usually too apathetic towards most things to ever warrant anger.

“Tom-” Chloe tried again, desperate to make things right because she couldn't bare Tom, or anyone, being angry with her. It made her stomach turn.

“For fuck’s sake Chloe! I fucking told you!” The swearing was the first thing to genuinely scare Chloe. Because Tom never swore. Not when he accidentally transfigured his bed into a grand piano because Chloe was distracting him with butterfly kisses to his shoulder whilst he tried to study, not when he fell off his broom and broke a rib when trying to learn to fly since he failed so miserably in first year, not even when Chloe had set his robes on fire by mistake and instead of using a spell to put him out, thought the solution was to shove him straight into the lake. He never swore and that fact alone had Chloe stumbling backwards as Tom moved closer to her. “I told you not to speak to her, are you fucking stupid or something?”

“Are you fucking serious?” In any other situation, Chloe might have laughed at the way she seemed to embody Beca Mitchell, the brunette's earlier words flashing through her mind. She laughed derisively, her hands waving emphatically as she stepped away from him again. “Since when did you own me Tom? I don't belong to you, or anyone , okay? I can, and will, speak to whoever the fuck I like and I swear to god, I will walk away right now if you keep telling me what to do.”

The dark haired boy said nothing, merely tilting his head a few millimeters as he regarded the smaller redhead, his eyes still narrowed into a glare; a glare that Chloe mirrored as she waited for Tom to say something.

Go on then.” He replied cooly, gesturing at the Ravenclaw common room entrance behind them, his voice low and emotionless. “Go.”

Chloe's jaw dropped, genuine shock flooding her at Tom’s words. She was beyond furious at his controlling outburst, but the fact that he actively encouraged her to walk away, rather than apologise made Chloe want to cry; deep, raw sadness filling her, as she blinked back tears. She wondered how Tom could just stand there and watch her cry, and not do anything for a brief moment, before turning on her heel sharply and storming back into the common room.

On her return, she had resolved to find Aubrey but as Chloe circled the still crowded room to try and find her best friend, it became apparent very quickly that she was otherwise occupied; The blonde was unsuccessfully attempting to help an extremely intoxicated Stacie Conrad upstairs to the dorms, it seemed, and the taller girl was resisting vehemently.

“Get your fucking hands off me Posen, I am not drunk.” Stacie insisted, her words slurring slightly; she obviously was drunk, very much so. She tried to bat away Aubrey’s hands, but her inebriated state meant her aim was pretty far off.

“Stac- Conrad , come on.” Aubrey urged, and as she looked up, to avoid being hit in the face by Stacie’s flailing limbs, she locked eyes with Chloe.

Chloe was scarily accurate at reading people's emotional states, just from their face; she could tell if Jess was anxious from the way a crease appeared between her eyebrows, she could tell if Luke was frustrated or unhappy by the way a muscle in his jaw twitched, and if there was anyone's face she recognised more readily, it was Aubrey Posen’s stressed face.

The tell tale wide eyes that screamed ‘Help me’ to Chloe were all that was needed for her to rush forward to grab the other side of a now only semi-conscious Stacie. She knew Aubrey saw the hurt and the upset in her face as soon as they made eye contact; Aubrey was just as good, if not better than Chloe at reading people like an open book; and she knew Aubrey cared from the small frown that appeared on her lips. But Chloe's problems were shut away, outside of the common room door, whereas a now sobbing Stacie Conrad was very much here and Chloe knew where both her’s and Aubrey’s priorities should lie.

After several minutes of heaving that made Chloe’s arms ache, she and Aubrey finally managed to help Stacie up the stairs and into her bedroom, the redhead shutting the door behind them as Aubrey guided the ash blonde girl to her bed, where she collapsed and curled up, wrapping her arms around her knees which she had brought to her chest, her fingernails digging into the bare skin of her calves as she cried.

The combination of the anguished sounds coming from Stacie, and the heartbroken expression on Aubrey’s face, sent the dull ache in Chloe's arms and shoulders straight to her chest, her heart sinking at the air of upset and sadness in the room. She understood Aubrey’s pain; she, by her own admission, still harboured feelings for Stacie and it was hard enough to watch somebody she cared so deeply for in such a state, let alone somebody who seemingly hated her.

Aubrey perched herself uncomfortably on the edge of the bed beside Stacie's head, unsure of what to do, where to put her hands, how to comfort the shaking girl next to her. Tentatively, she placed her hand against the back of Stacie’s head, stroking her hair with feather like touches so as to not alarm her. “Hey,” The blonde said softly, leaning down slightly so her face was closer to Stacie’s ear. “You’re okay.”

Chloe marveled at the sheer amount of unconditional love Aubrey held in her heart, knowing full well that the tenderness and care she laced through her voice, the delicate, comforting touches would be breaking her inside, but she persisted, because that was what Stacie needed and Aubrey, despite the pain it caused, stabbing in her gut like a white hot knife, would do absolutely anything for her.

Aubrey looked up at Chloe, who was still hovering anxiously by the door, not wanting to leave her best friend alone in a situation she might have felt uncomfortable or out of her depth in, but also feeling like she was intruding on what looked to be quite an intimate interaction. Chloe and Aubrey had been such close friends for so long that they could communicate easily with a simple look, and the one Aubrey was giving Chloe in that moment plainly said. “I know you’re upset, I will be there,” before she looked down at Stacie, indicating to Chloe that she quite literally had her hands full.

And Chloe smiled, because even knowing Aubrey cared was enough, enough to see her through the next few hours without desperately needed the blonde’s shoulder to cry on. She flicked her gaze upwards and to the side and made her move to leave, hoping Aubrey understood her “I’m fine, come and find me when you can,“ look. The older girl nodded and with that confirmation that she had been understood, Chloe quietly opened the door and slipped out, shutting the door behind her as she went.

“Don’t cry.” Aubrey pleaded softly as she stroked her hands through Stacie’s hair, her fingers nimbly plaiting and unplaiting as she attempted to soothe the girl. Her mind raced for the right thing to say and before she had chance to think, to consider whether they would really help, the words “I’m here,” fell from her lips.

Apparently, that was not the right thing to say, at all.

Stacie wrenched herself away from the blonde’s lap in a flash, and even through the tears still present in her eyes, Aubrey could see the undisguised, fervent look of unadulterated loathing in her emerald eyes.

Fuck. Off.” The words rolled off Stacie’s tongue with such eloquence, her voice laced with a level of vehemence Aubrey had never heard from the other girl before. The blonde stood abruptly, tears forming in her eyes as she moved to get out of the room, get away from Stacie, get out of her own goddamn head. Her hand was on the doorknob when Stacie’s voice echoed through the otherwise painfully silent room again, in a much softer, beseeching tone that made Aubrey’s heart break. “Stay. I’m sorry, please, I’m so sorry, please stay Bree”

Aubrey’s fingers tensed around the handle of the door, her knuckles going white at the strain. She swallowed harshly as she heaved a laboured breath, the tears that had been welling in her eyes finally falling as she recalled the only other time she had heard such a plea from Stacie, the time she had yanked the door open and slammed it behind her as she walked away after the other girl had begged her to stay. She couldn’t do that again. So when she heard Stacie’s broken whisper of “ Stay, please,”   reverberate throughout the room, she did; she stayed.

Her feet carried her back across the room towards Stacie’s bed and she half sat, half fell against it in her haste, her desperate need to be there for Stacie, whose eyes, still wet with tears, were locked on Aubrey’s with an expression that, for the first time in her life, Aubrey couldn’t read.

Aubrey wasn’t sure who moved first; whose head tilted, or who initiated closing the gap between them, or whether the earth had just happened to lurch to one side and force them together but as soon as she felt her nose brush against Stacie’s, it didn’t matter anymore, because their lips had crashed together and anything other than the feeling of Stacie’s lips on hers was irrelevant. The taller girl pressed her lips against Aubrey’s with a sense of urgency, an air of desperation that the blonde had never experienced before as Stacie’s hands tangled in her hair, pulling her close with such impetuosity that her head began to spin, blood pounding in her ears as her heart raced and her chest heaved.

Stacie’s lips were softer than Aubrey expected, as their mouths slanted against one another’s and once again, she wasn’t sure who reacted first; whether it was Aubrey who parted her lips or Stacie who swiped her tongue against the seam of the blonde’s mouth but it seemed neither of them ever anticipated, and therefore were not prepared for the sound that left Aubrey’s lips. It was quiet, but in the otherwise silent room, the blonde’s half-gasp, half- moan of surprise rang through the room, as clear as day.

When Stacie pulled away from her,  Aubrey’s heart sank and her stomach turned, but then her lips were on Aubrey’s again, harder; raw, desperate hunger apparent in her every movement as her fingers clenched into tight fists through Aubrey’s hair and the blonde could feel the tears still falling from the other girl's eyes and that should’ve been her first indication that they should stop, that Stacie really wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this, but the urgency with which Stacie clung to her clouded over all of Aubrey’s usual rationality, and instead of pushing her away, she let Stacie kiss her, over and over and over until she needed to stop, to catch her breath and steady herself because Stacie Conrad had just unravelled her completely.

Aubrey let her eyes flutter closed and she drew in a sharp, ragged breath that made her lungs feeling like they were on fire after being deprived of everything but Stacie for so long. When she opened them again, her breath hitched in her throat because Stacie Conrad; the confident, flirtatious, often borderline inappropriate Stacie Conrad; was staring at her, her pupils blown, eyes wider than a deer in headlights, remnants of tear tracks still visible on her face in the twilight, with a look that borderlined on horror. “Don’t go.” Stacie pleaded with a desperate shake of her head and Aubrey was certain she had never heard a more harrowing sound. “Please don’t go.”

The first thought to enter Aubrey’s mind was that they really should talk about this; the fact they had just kissed, but Stacie’s mind was still clouded with alcohol, and Aubrey wasn’t even sure she could talk after that, let alone form a coherent enough sentence to even begin to question what had just happened.

“You think too much, Posen.” Stacie’s voice sounded clearly throughout the room, and usually Aubrey would’ve winced at the use of her surname, but it rolled off Stacie’s tongue with a tone of great endearment, rather than the usual disdain, so the blonde really couldn’t bring herself to care. “Stay with me?” Stacie’s voice was quieter this time, and although it was a question and not the desperate plea of earlier,  Aubrey could still hear the imploring nature of the request.

So when Stacie laid down on the bed, still fully clothed in her crumpled school uniform, tie hanging loose around her neck, rolling onto her side to face away from the blonde, Aubrey followed suit, letting herself fall back onto the bed without a second thought, because when Stacie said Aubrey thought too much, she wasn’t wrong; thoughts and worries constantly ran through Aubrey’s mind, Chloe often joked she really needed an ‘off’ switch, and as she lay herself next to Stacie, the blonde was inclined to agree, because she was thinking about everything; the way her breathing was still heavy and erratic next to the other girl’s easy, gentle breaths; the way her heart was definitely thudding audibly in her chest; the way she didn’t know where to put her hands for fear of accidentally brushing against Stacie’s back, and how that was ridiculous because they’d just kissed and Aubrey’s hands had literally been everywhere.

She felt a hand patting against her blindly, and craned her neck to see Stacie awkwardly reaching behind her, evidently searching for something without bothering to turn around. When a hand closed around Aubrey’s far arm, she didn’t have time to process how the taller girl was pulling the arm over and around her, didn’t have time to think about how they were actually spooning and how coy and domestic that sounded, but as Stacie’s sleepy murmur of “Don’t think, ” found it’s way to her ears, Aubrey relaxed into the other girl, tentatively burying her face in Stacie’s shoulder with a sigh, as she resigned herself to the fact that she could talk, and question, and think tomorrow, and all she had to do now was be.

Chapter Text

Contrary to her own expectations, Chloe had actually made it the entire way back to the Gryffindor common room, had uttered the password to the Fat Lady and had managed to get half way up the stairs to her dorm room before the first sob ripped through her, tearing her open like a rusty knife; jagged and painful.

Chloe hated fighting. Arguments and disagreements always, without fail, left her with a sickening feeling in her stomach that simultaneously made her want to be sick, as well as cry until she had no more tears. She didn’t know why she had such an awful aversion to conflict, she didn’t have any traumatic childhood events to label as the cause, her parents rarely fought, and even when they did, she was sent upstairs and all the doors were shut, blocking the sound from her ears.

The redhead had first discovered said aversion after she had accidentally knocked a full bottle of ink over, an extremely stressed, Aubrey Posen’s charms homework and the blonde had yelled, in a mixture of shock and justified annoyance, at Chloe for her clumsiness, causing her to promptly burst into tears, completely unexpectedly. It took almost an hour of gentle soothing and whispered apologies from Aubrey to calm her down enough to stop crying, and ever since then, Aubrey had never once yelled at her again, and Chloe had actively avoided any form of conflict. 

The fact that Tom had gotten angry with her for talking to Beca Mitchell made her blood boil; she didn’t understand his so vehement hatred towards her, and also she didn’t understand how somebody as loving and caring and sweet as Tom could carry such hatred inside him. She didn’t understand how the boy with the cheeky grin and the floppy hair and the warm eyes and kind heart; the boy that told her he loved her, could be so cruel and cold and uncaring. Could have the audacity to tell her to leave, to give up on their relationship.

Chloe wondered if they had just broken up. She wondered how she even felt about that; hurt and upset that he could so easily throw away everything they had, for the sake of a petty disagreement; angry and confused at how he could talk about someone he didn’t even know like they were dirt under his shoe, could talk to her like she was his property, could call her stupid when he knew that she was actually extremely insecure about her intelligence; and lastly a strange, unfamiliar sense of relief, that she pinned down to the fact that at least they weren’t arguing, because she didn’t have any other explanation.

She sank down onto the plush four poster bed as she choked out another sob; Chloe may not need Aubrey's shoulder to cry on just yet, but she definitely needed to cry and she didn't even attempt to restrain herself as she allowed the tears to stream down her cheeks, ragged, shuddering breaths burning through her lungs and up her throat, serving as a reminder that she too had been a part of their argument.

Chloe genuinely couldn’t recall a time she had raised her voice like that, before tonight. And that fact alone scared her more than Tom’s aggression and his swearing and his willingness to walk away from her, more than anything.

Several hours; Chloe assumed - she honestly didn’t know how long she’d been lying in bed, staring into space; had passed before she heard a quiet, but urgent knocking at her door. “Come in Bree,” the redhead called out softly, not bothering to cover up the sadness in her voice, knowing full well the blonde would neither fall for it, nor appreciate it.  

Even in the dim light, as Aubrey entered the room, Chloe could see that she looked flushed, making a mental note to question her best friend once she was feeling less like her heart had just been ripped from her chest. Aubrey padded lightly across the room, and Chloe shifted in the bed, moving to one side just as Aubrey lay down beside her. It was an unspoken plea that of course the blonde answered; whenever Chloe was sad, which was actually quite rare, they would simply lie in her bed and talk, sometimes about the problem, sometimes not, it had been that way since they had become friends, though neither one was quite sure how it had come about.

The first thing Aubrey said wasn’t any sort of expression of sorrow; there were no ‘Oh honey’s or whispers of apologies because whatever the reason for Chloe’s upset, Aubrey knew it wasn’t her fault and therefore, that Chloe wouldn’t appreciate nor want her apologies, nor her sympathy, which the redhead often mistook for pity. Instead, in a low whisper, Aubrey asked, “What do you want to talk about?”

“I think Tom and I just broke up.” Chloe uttered softly, her words simple and lacking any emotion other than sounding tired.

Aubrey blinked as she took in Chloe’s words, and instinctively laced her fingers with the redhead’s; she’d learned very early on in their friendship that when it came to Chloe, there was no such thing as too much physical contact, and in actuality, what would usually be considered quite intimate and romantic displays of affection such as hand holding and kisses to the cheek and forehead, were a definite way to relax and reassure her best friend. “What happened Chlo?”

Chloe squeezed back with a gentle sigh, feeling very appreciative of Aubrey’s touch against her skin. “He yelled at me for speaking to Beca Mitchell. He said I was ‘fucking stupid’.” she whispered, her voice barely audible, even in the otherwise silent room.

It was those words that caused Aubrey to roll over, propping herself up on her elbow as she turned to Chloe with a small frown. “You’re not stupid Chloe, you’re one of the most intelligent people I know. And I’m a Ravenclaw.”

The redhead let out a small, involuntary chuckle as she rolled over to match Aubrey, reaching out to brush a piece of the blonde’s fringe behind her ear, accidentally brushing against her cheek in doing so. “Your face is really hot Bree.” she stated, her eyebrows furrowing slightly as her curious nature overpowered her sadness for the moment. It wasn’t a question, but the subtext behind her words was obvious and hung over them, spreading through the room like a cloud of smoke; Chloe wanted to know why.

As soon as she’d felt Chloe’s soft fingers brush her cheek, Aubrey knew she was done for; Chloe might have been upset, angry, confused and everything in between, but once her brain latched onto a thought it sat in her brain, milling around and seeping through all her other thoughts until it was the only thing in her mind, and Aubrey knew there was no way she was going to escape the redhead’s curiosity for long, and she figured if it kept Chloe’s mind distracted from the events of earlier that had caused her to feel so distressed, there was no point in evading telling her what had just happened.

“Stacie Conrad kissed me. Or I kissed her, I’m not really sure exactly what happened but one moment we were just looking at each other and then-” Aubrey spilled excitedly, gesturing noncommittally to finish her sentence, knowing that Chloe would understand what she meant. Chloe was silent for a moment, simply staring at Aubrey with a decidedly neutral expression, and the blonde’s stomach felt uneasy as she realised that Chloe probably didn’t want to hear about how she and Stacie Conrad had kissed when her own relationship was shattering around her. She bit her lip, an apology reading and waiting on her tongue, almost spilling from her lips as she parted them, preparing to speak; But then, Chloe’s entire face lit up, and she practically sprung  into a sitting position, crossing her legs as she waited for Aubrey to mirror her, which the blonde did with an expression of confusion, which only morphed into a small, bashful smile when Chloe began to speak.

“Oh my god! Was Stacie a good kisser? She looks it. How did it feel? Did you get to second base? Ahhhh Bree, this is so exciting!” Chloe gasped out, a wide smile on her lips, the tears on her cheeks forgotten as she bounced on the bed in anticipation, a soft giggle escaping her lips at her own enthusiasm.

Aubrey shook her head endearingly, reaching across to place a firm hand on Chloe’s knee, stilling her. “Chloe, calm down.” Aubrey giggled quietly in a hushed tone, partially worried that Chloe’s excited squeal would wake some of the other Gryffindors and she would be kicked out, back to her own common room. “Stacie is a really good kisser, better than she looks. It felt… Strange. But good-strange. She was still crying…” the blonde trailed off, sadness creeping into her voice before her brain caught up with Chloe’s questions and her jaw dropped. “Chloe, no!” she paused, “Yes? Maybe, I’m not s- I don’t really remember.” she finished with a shrug and a sheepish grin across the bed to her best friend.

Chloe’s lips fell into an ‘O’ shape and she gasped again before letting out a small giggle, shoving Aubrey’s knee playfully. “Oh my god, you so did!” she exclaimed, practically shrieking with laughter as Aubrey launched herself at Chloe, tackling her for her teasing as she placed a hand over the redhead’s mouth gently to muffle her giggles.

“Chloe you’re gonna get me kicked out!” Aubrey whispered urgently as she hovered over her friend, but she couldn’t help but erupt into a fit of giggles herself as she felt Chloe smirk beneath her hand. With a contented sigh, the blonde fell back against the mattress, confident that Chloe was finally going to be quiet, watching as the redhead rolled onto her side to face Aubrey once again. “If you get kicked out of here, you can go back to Stacie.” Chloe replied in a playful, sing-song tone before a soft frown fell across her features. “Which leads me to my next question; why the hell are you lying in bed with me, telling me to shush, when you could be with Stacie?”

“You’re my best friend Chloe, you needed me.” Aubrey answered, her tone dripping with affection as she too propped herself up on one elbow to look more properly at Chloe. “Besides, if I wake up next to you tomorrow, there’s no chance you’re gonna tell me to ‘fuck off’.” she continued, her voice softening slightly before she perfectly mimicked every inflection and quirk of Stacie’s voice for her last two words, laying back down to rest her head on Chloe’s shoulder with a quiet, resigned sigh.

“If you steal my covers I will absolutely tell you to fuck off.” Chloe teased gently, knowing her humour would relax Aubrey, and incidentally calming herself in the process as she nudged the blonde to lift herself up for a moment so she could slip an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close and pressing a quick kiss to the top of Aubrey’s head. “Thank you for coming anyway, it means a lot to me that you did.”

Aubrey chuckled lightly in response to Chloe’s joke, and she felt herself relaxing into Chloe’s hold easily. “God, why didn’t I just fall for you? Everything would be so much easier.” she groaned softly as she turned, burying her face in Chloe’s chest.

“Are you calling me easy Posen?” Chloe questioned with mock offense before she giggled happily, tightening her grip on the blonde. “I guess you just can’t help who you fall for.” she said with previously unseen sincerity, and it didn’t even cross her mind to be concerned that it wasn’t Tom’s face that flashed through her thoughts at her words.

“True.” Aubrey agreed quietly, her speech muffled slightly by the fabric of Chloe’s shirt. “We would make a cute couple though.” the blonde giggled softly, leaning up to mirror Chloe’s earlier action and brush a strand of hair out of her face for her.

“Oh totes. The cutest.” Chloe agreed as she laughed, the sound peeling around the room; soft and melodic. “But you're way too much of a control freak for me.” she ribbed gently, nudging Aubrey’s head with her nose playfully, causing the blonde to giggle again.

“Control freak?” Aubrey scoffed, though she knew it was true, and also that Chloe wasn’t judging or berating her in any way, so the redhead’s comment didn’t offend her in the slightest. “Yeah, well you’re too-” Aubrey paused, trying to figure out the best way to describe the quality of Chloe’s she was thinking of; that she loved so very much, but that also drove her up the wall on an almost daily basis. “Bouncy.”

Chloe pouted and when she she spoke, it was with a childish whine that she knew was sure to make Aubrey smile from its joking nature, “Hey, I thought you liked my- Bounciness.” Chloe couldn’t help but frown at how silly the word sounded, and the uncertainty in the redhead’s voice as she said it made Aubrey snort with laughter, which in turn only made Chloe pout even harder.

When Chloe fell silent, Aubrey turned to look up at her best friend, partially concerned she’d actually upset or offended her. She shifted so she was sharing Chloe’s eye line and she couldn’t help but sigh endearingly at the way she was pouting.  Her fingers drifted up to cup Chloe’s cheek and she let out a soft chuckle as she ran her thumb over the redhead’s cheekbone. “Oh, you are so cute.”

As much as she wanted to, Chloe couldn’t even pretend to be angry at Aubrey for long, and even after a few seconds, she longed for their spirited teasing again. She stared into her best friend’s soft blue eyes for a moment before she smirked and raised one eyebrow. “You know, if we had fallen for each other, this is the part where we’d kiss.”

“I take it back, you’re ridiculous.” Aubrey giggled in response, lightly patting Chloe on the cheek where her hand had rested a few seconds ago before she wriggled her way back down to rest against Chloe’s shoulder once again, huffing out a laugh before yelping indignantly as Chloe jabbed her in the side with her index finger. “What was that for?”

“Are you implying that I am not kissable, Posen?” Chloe asked in a slightly discontented voice, though her eyes showed Aubrey that she wasn’t really upset.

“I didn’t know you swung that way Chlo.” Aubrey teased with a quick wink as she rolled over to face Chloe once more. She couldn’t control the snigger that followed because, despite her words, the way she’d caught Chloe staring with such fixation at the Slytherin seeker earlier that day made her quite certain of it.

You didn’t answer the question.” Chloe huffed, before she shrugged and smiled softly. “And anyway, I just like people , I don’t really care what’s in their pants.”

“Nicely said Chlo.” Aubrey chuckled again, before she remembered Chloe’s earlier statement, and knew yet again, she wasn’t going to get away without giving an answer. “You’re very kissable. Everybody wants to kiss you.” she replied sincerely, because it was true; practically every guy, and several of the girls in the school had expressed their attraction to Chloe, and whilst she was exceedingly pretty, Aubrey knew it was also simply because she was such a genuinely nice person, that anybody would find hard to resist.

Chloe shook her head as she blushed furiously, and Aubrey honestly didn’t understand how the younger girl couldn’t see how attracted to her people actually were; whether to her physical appearance or to her exuberant personality. It broke her heart a little to know that Chloe didn’t see herself the way literally everyone else did. The redhead opened her mouth, and Aubrey was certain she was about to speak, so was confused when Chloe simply giggled and shook her head, closing her mouth again.

“What?” The blonde asked curiously, shifting slightly closer to Chloe, automatically feeling the need to reassure Chloe that she could tell her anything, placing a hand on her hip and rubbing lightly. When Chloe only smiled and shook her head again, Aubrey grew more impatient and shifted even closer until she was face to face with Chloe. Her tone sounded annoyed, but her smile was wide, so Chloe knew she wasn’t really mad as she repeated. “What?!”

“I was going to ask if you’d ever kissed a girl, but then I remembered.” Chloe descended into another set of giggles, matching Aubrey’s pose as she slid her own hand over the dip between  Aubrey’s hip and her waist, letting her fingers splay out over the fabric.

“Careful honey, you’re beginning to sound like you’re flirting with me.” Aubrey replied smoothly, though her tone held none of the warning her words gave; she knew Chloe didn’t like her in that way, if she did, she was confident, and she certainly hoped, that Chloe would just tell her if she ever felt that way, and since no such conversation had ever arisen in their many years of friendship, Aubrey knew that this conversation was just Chloe being Chloe; playful, flirtatious, sometimes downright outrageous Chloe. “Have you?”

“I was just curious, silly.” Chloe rolled her eyes, dropping her hand away from Aubrey’s waist to shift closer as a sudden feeling of loneliness washed over her at the blonde’s question and she felt the desperate need to be close to her best friend. The only person she had ever kissed, properly kissed, was Tom, and thinking about that made her heart hurt. The full force of realisation that he’d so easily given up on their relationship, on her, suddenly hit and she found herself wanting to cry again, having never felt so completely alone, despite her extremely close proximity to her best friend; Aubrey, who never had and, she was sure, never would give up on her. She wasn’t sure where her next words came from; maybe they stemmed from her complete and utter loneliness, or the swell of absolutely unconditional love for her best friend, the loss of Tom, or simply the fact that she craved affection, especially in times of distress; but as she spoke, the words didn’t sound wrong as they fell from her lips. “Can I kiss you?”

Aubrey didn’t know she was able to feel so much at once; confusion, for the most part, because Chloe had never expressed an interest in kissing her before, and she was certain that Chloe didn’t have feelings for her in that way; heartbreak, because even in the dimly lit room, she could see the tears in Chloe’s eyes and she could certainly hear them in the way Chloe’s voice cracked, and although she wasn’t sure what had caused the sudden plummet in Chloe’s mental state, it physically hurt her to see her best friend in so much pain; worry, because this behaviour was strange, even for Chloe, and Aubrey felt desperate to know what exactly was going on inside Chloe’s head; even more confusion at herself as she felt herself shift closer to Chloe, because she was actually considering it and why shouldn’t she? She loved Chloe and Chloe loved her and it felt so nice to actually be wanted by somebody, after being tossed around by Stacie for so long, even if it was only to comfort and reassure Chloe. She wasn’t in love with her, but at least she knew with deathly certainty the redhead wasn’t going to hurt her, and it was probably that thought that made her decision as she nodded hurriedly and breathed out a barely audible. “Yes.”

The kiss was much softer and slower than the one Aubrey and Stacie shared, Chloe’s lips pressing against the blonde’s with careful precision as she slowly moved her hand up to cup Aubrey’s cheek. If Aubrey had to differentiate between the two, to allocate one word to each kiss, it would have been easy; Stacie was lust, and nothing but it. Chloe’s kiss, in a word, was love. Her own hand found its way to cradle Chloe’s cheek, and for a while they stayed like that, pressed close together, holding each other as they lips moved slowly and gently against one another’s. Chloe wasn’t sure if it was simply because it was Aubrey, or if it the way she was holding her with such care, but she was sure it was the most intimate moment she had ever shared with somebody.

As Chloe’s lips brushed against her’s for what felt like the hundredth time, Aubrey tasted salt, and the confusion of the unfamiliar sensation was enough to snap her back into reality, and to realise that Chloe had moved on from softly crying and was now quite heavily sobbing into her. “Chlo- Chloe.” she gasped breathlessly, slipping her hand down to grip the redhead’s waist to gently push her away, whilst still holding her firmly. “Hey, don’t cry, it’s okay.” she soothed quietly, as she wrapped both of her arms around Chloe’s waist and pulled her close, rubbing her hands up and down Chloe’s back soothingly. “Come on, am I really that bad of a kisser?”

“No.” Chloe let out a watery chuckle as she drew in a deep breath, letting her head rest in the crook of Aubrey’s neck. “You’re not a bad kisser.” Chloe giggled through her tears, and Aubrey pulled away to see a small smile on Chloe’s lips, the sight making her heart warm after feeling like she’d been doused in icy water at the sound of her best friend crying. “I’m just very lonely.” the redhead added as an explanation of her tears.

“Oh Chlo,” Aubrey tightened her hold on the smaller girl as she pressed a soft kiss to Chloe’s temple. “I’m always here for you, okay? Whatever you need, I’m here.” she promised sincerely, before she figured the teasing had worked in making Chloe smile once, so she might as well try again. “Even if you are just using being upset as an excuse to make out with me.”

Although tears still rolled down her cheeks slowly, Chloe laughed genuinely, pulling away from her best friend to raise and eyebrow and reply, “In your dreams, Posen.” before she lay back down, resting her head against Aubrey’s chest once more, hearing the steady rhythm of the older girl's heart as she pulled the duvet up over them finally.

“You know it Beale.” Aubrey teased back with ease, settling herself against Chloe’s soft mattress, all thoughts of Stacie gone from her mind as she instinctively tightened her embrace of Chloe, wanting to make sure the redhead felt safe, secure and most importantly, loved as she felt herself already beginning to drift off to sleep, the pair of them falling into a comfortable silence.

“Bree?” Chloe’s quiet and soft voice broke through the silence, and although she felt bad, because the way Aubrey had mumbled in response indicated she had been right on the cusp of sleep, she felt an extremely strong urge to air her thoughts, and she had never been too good at controlling herself. “For the record, I’d love to have fallen in love with you.”

Aubrey sighed endearingly, and even in her sleepy state, she somehow found the energy to plant a soft kiss to Chloe’s temple before she replied. “I’d love to have fallen in love with you too.”

 

Chapter Text

A soft, but definitely indignant groan involuntarily escaped Chloe’s lips as an unfortunate gap in her curtains meant the sun that rose with the daybreak happened to land right across Chloe’s face, bringing her abruptly, and all too soon out of what had been an extremely pleasant sleep.

As she became increasingly accustomed to her surroundings; the dim, dawn-lit room with Aubrey’s warm arms holding her tightly, the blonde’s gentle and rhythmic breath grazing against Chloe’s neck, making the tiny hairs there stand on end; it tickled, and the sensation was so nice, so comforting, so homely that she was reminded of her last night’s words; she really did wish it was Aubrey she’d fallen for.

Aubrey was a complicated person, but Chloe felt she knew the blonde better than almost anybody else, which made loving her easy. Loving Aubrey never made her heart ache and her stomach twist the way Tom did. Tom. His harsh words and his cold gaze made their way back to the forefront of Chloe’s mind, and in the soft light of the early morning, with no other sounds than Aubrey’s soft breathing as she slept soundly beside Chloe, the redhead couldn’t help but feel so utterly alone.

She wasn’t sure what the hell she’d been thinking when she’d kissed Aubrey, the short answer was: she hadn’t been, but the long answer was much more complex and confusing for Chloe’s brain to comprehend at such an early hour on a Sunday morning. For as long as she could remember, Chloe had felt the need to be touched; apparently, her dad had once told her with glee, when she was a baby she used to scream blue murder unless somebody was holding her, which drove her mother up the wall, much to her dad’s amusement. Physical contact made her feel safe, from any imaginary dangers she might be facing, and reassured, that she was loved and wanted; a feeling that Chloe had craved for almost as long as she known her liking for physical displays of affection.

Most of her childhood friends hadn’t understood just how desperately she needed that extra bit of affection; they always pulled out of her hugs too soon, gave her questioning looks when she slung her arm around their shoulders, pulled their fingers out of her own when she’d clasped them tightly, frowned in confusion when Chloe bid them goodbye at the end of the school day with a quick peck on the cheek. Even Tom found it difficult to adjust to the sheer amount of affection she needed, and in turn, showered upon him, not that Chloe ever blamed him. She knew she was a handful, everybody had always treated her as one; before Aubrey, that was.

Chloe remembered very clearly the first time she had ever initiated what could have been considered not strictly platonic contact between them; it was a few weeks into their friendship, just when Chloe had started sitting with Aubrey and her friends at meal times rather than with her not unfriendly, but not overly familiar housemates, and during their evening meal, Professor McGonagall had began a lengthy, and deadly serious speech about the behaviour of one of her O.W.L classes, and how intolerable it was. It wasn’t even Chloe’s class the headmistress was ranting about, she was only in third year, but the steely and cold tone made her shudder and due to her great averseness to conflict of any sort, she couldn’t help but feel extremely on edge. She remembered very clearly, reaching across and patting Aubrey on the thigh gently to catch the blonde’s attention, wide eyed like a rabbit caught in headlights (a phrase that only last year, Chloe had the immense pleasure of trying to explain to her best friend) as she asked in a barely audible, contrite whisper if Aubrey would hold her hand.

She remembered expecting the older girl to laugh at her, or to stare at her as if to question her sanity, but to Chloe’s surprise, Aubrey simply smiled and nodded, slipping her hand into Chloe’s beneath the table and gripping it tightly in a way Chloe didn’t know she needed until Aubrey had done it, her worries about the wrath of McGonagall almost completely forgotten as she shared, although she didn’t realise it then, a defining moment with her best friend in terms of the progress of their relationship.

Aubrey had never asked Chloe why she had asked, so frightenedly, for her to hold her hand; in fact, it never even came up in conversation until Chloe herself brought it up, as they sat across from each other atop Aubrey’s bed, pouring over whatever homework they had at the time, wanting to know why Aubrey hadn’t questioned her about it yet. “What’s there to question?” Chloe remembered Aubrey’s reply as clear as day, and she still remembered the feeling of absolute confusion that she was filled with at the blonde’s words, because nobody had reacted to her strange little quirks so normally. Before she could have interjected, Aubrey had continued with a small nonchalant shrug as she settled back against her pillow, which she had propped up against her headboard, “You wanted me to hold your hand, so I did. It’s not like I have any reason not to want to hold your hand Chlo, why is that so hard to believe?”

And Chloe had been so completely moved by Aubrey’s words that she had to shake her head to prevent tears from falling as she explained to the blonde that all of her old friends had found it strange and uncomfortable that she found comfort and enjoyed things like platonic hand holding, to which Aubrey shrugged again, and promised that whatever way Chloe needed comfort, no matter how strange by societal norms, she would be there.

How exactly they moved from holding hands under the dinner table to kissing each other in the dead of night, Chloe wasn’t sure but she was certain that she hadn't found the experience unpleasant or uncomfortable, and she could only hope that Aubrey felt the same. She didn’t have any romantic notions towards her best friend, they were definitely incompatible in that sense, but kissing Aubrey wasn’t romantic, it was safe and loving and it put a halt to the terrible loneliness that had been eating away at her stomach the entire evening. Kissing Aubrey was simply another way for the pair to show how much they loved each other, without being in love, and Chloe decided, as she shifted comfortably in Aubrey’s embrace, that that was perfectly okay.

The sunlight that was partially blinding her was becoming increasingly annoying, and slowly, so not to disturb her still sleeping friend, Chloe reached out behind her to pat around her bedside table, looking for her wand so she could close the damn curtains properly. In her haste, she felt the wand slip through her fingers as she reached to grasp in, and heard the sharp clatter of wood on wood as it hit the floor, making her wince at the sound and groan at the fact that she would actually have to get out of bed to retrieve her wand.

As she broke out of Aubrey’s embrace to lean off the bed in search of her wand, she heard a quiet mumble from the blonde and the sound of the drapes closing, shrouding the room in darkness once again. There was no way in hell the sound that left Aubrey’s lips were actual words, let alone a real spell, but the thought must have been strong enough in her mind for it to have done to trick as she dropped her wand back onto the small pile of her clothes at the side of Chloe’s bed before she rolled over to face the redhead with a sleepy grin. “Mornin’ ” she giggled, her voice thick with sleep as she ran a hand through her hair, pushing her fringe out of her eyes so she could see Chloe as she blinked herself fully awake.

“Morning Bree.” Chloe giggled back as she pulled herself back onto the bed, letting her wand go forgotten on the floor for the time being as she too rolled onto her side to face her best friend, and as she met the blonde’s bright blue eyes, she was hit with a sudden, unfamiliar anxiety as she wondered what Aubrey had thought of last night; whether the night’s sleep had given her a newfound clarity and Chloe’s actions had made her feel uncomfortable or confused, as, with a much clearer head after such a good night’s sleep, Chloe could definitely see how her actions could be misconstrued, and she hoped Aubrey understood her well enough to understand the intentions behind her actions.

The change in Chloe’s demeanour didn’t go unnoticed by Aubrey; of course it didn’t, Chloe’s happiness and wellbeing was one of the most important things to her and so any dip in the redhead’s usually so chirpy mood left her concerned. “What is it Chlo?” she asked in a soft, caring tone, sounding positively heartbroken at the idea that something wasn’t right with her best friend as she reached across the gap between them to lace their fingers together, knowing just how much comfort Chloe took from the action.

Comforting Chloe wasn’t even second nature to Aubrey, it was a primary instinct she’d held from the first time she’d spoken to Chloe, a memory she still held clearly in her mind, even two years later; Aubrey had escaped the unusually rowdy Ravenclaw common room in favour of a more peaceful place to work for the evening and since they’d instated the twenty four hour service in the library, it seemed like the perfect option. The blonde remembered how deserted it had been, save a few dedicated 5th and 7th years, already studying for their respective O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, and how she’d been glad of the quiet, silence in fact, as she settled down in a secluded corner, flicking open her transfiguration textbook with a lazy ease as she sat back in her chair. Aubrey had stayed like that for a while, simply enjoying the peace as she studied when she first heard the soft, muffled cries, seemingly coming from the other side of the bookcase adjacent to her.

At first she’d thought she was mistaken, that the sound was simply a trick of her mind in her undeniably tired state, but the sound came again, and the sheer amount of pain that Aubrey could hear, even through the muffled sobs had her shakily getting to her feet, book still in hand as she quietly padded through the maze of bookshelves until she stumbled upon the small redhead girl in Gryffindor robes, sat on the floor with her back against the bookshelf, her head buried in her hands and with what Aubrey recognised as a third year transfiguration textbook lying discarded at her feet.

The first words Aubrey ever spoke to, although she didn’t know it then, the girl who would in a matter of weeks become her best friend were “Don’t cry.” and as she looked back on that moment, the very same words were on the tip of her tongue yet again, because Chloe looked so small and scared and all Aubrey wanted to do was put a smile on her lips again, because she could quite honestly say that Chloe’s smile was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.

“I kissed you.” Chloe replied after a long pause, her voice quiet and contrite and her heart thudding painfully in her chest as she felt her anxiety increasing tenfold at the impending conversation.

“Is that why your heart sounds like it’s just ran a marathon?” Aubrey asked, her voice laced with a mixture of astonishment, surprise and the ever present concern - as well as a slight hint at pride, a fond memory flashing through her mind of the day Chloe told her that some muggles ran twenty six miles for fun. “Chloe relax, it’s me.”

And with Aubrey’s words, Chloe did relax because the combination of the blonde’s hand in her’s and the soft, caring expression adorning her features made her feel completely safe almost immediately. “You’re not…” Angry? Confused? Going to leave me? “ You’re okay?”

“Of course I am.” Aubrey replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, her grip on Chloe’s hand tightening instinctively. She shifted herself a fraction closer to the redhead, wanting to reassure her that she was being truthful and she wasn’t suddenly going to run for the hills. Even if she had been freaked out, her friendship with Chloe meant way too much to her to ever do that. “Is that really what you’re worrying so much about?”

Chloe nodded slowly, habitually biting down on her lip, toying it between her teeth as she thought about what to say next. From the way Aubrey was reacting, she was almost certain that she had nothing to worry about, but it was that almost that had her drawing in a sharp breath, needing to clarify exactly what Aubrey felt about what had occurred between them last night to put her mind at ease. “You’re okay with the fact I kissed you?” she asked in a small voice, her eyes widening slightly in apprehension of her best friend’s reply.

The blonde’s features screwed up in what Chloe initially perceived to annoyance; the intrusive thoughts in the redhead’s mind telling her that her intensive questioning was pissing off Aubrey; but then her expression changed and she was shaking her head, chuckling softly with a soft grin on her lips, regarding Chloe with a look of such unconditional love that it made her heart feel like it was going to burst. “You really are adorable Chloe. If I didn’t want you to kiss me then I would’ve said no when you asked me.”

Chloe considered Aubrey’s words for a moment; as much as she loved her, Chloe knew the blonde wouldn’t do anything that made her feel uncomfortable for the sake of Chloe’s comfort; she loved Chloe, but self preservation and respect was important to Aubrey. “It is weird though, that I asked you to do that. You didn’t have to.”

“I know I didn’t have to Chlo.” Aubrey assured softly, letting out a small endearing chuckle as she opened her arms, inviting the redhead in for a hug if she wanted it, which Chloe graciously accepted, burying herself in Aubrey’s embrace, reveling in the feeling of the strong, yet soft arms holding her. “Believe me, I wanted to. It made you feel better, didn’t it?”

“Yes.” Chloe breathed out in an almost breathless whisper, her cheeks burning with embarrassment and shame because normal people didn’t kiss their best friends to try and ease their burning loneliness, normal people ate ice cream and binge watched bad reality TV, though granted she had access to neither of those things whilst here at Hogwarts. “It’s not exactly normal though, is it Bree?”

Aubrey scoffed and pulled away from Chloe to stare incredulously at her, one eyebrow quirked upwards. “Chloe, we’re literally at a magic school for magic people. None of this is exactly normal is it? Please don’t worry about it, you know I would do anything if it meant you felt better, you’re my best friend.”

“Do you really mean that?” Chloe asked, craning her neck to turn and look at her best friend, not wanting to break of the comfort of Aubrey’s embrace if she could help it.

“You’re silly Chlo,” Aubrey giggled endearingly as she pulled the redhead closer, pressing a soft kiss to the top of her head lovingly. “Of course I mean it. And as much as I’d love to spend all morning in bed with you, telling you just how much I love you, I really should head back to Ravenclaw tower.” she sighed in a mixture of annoyance and resignation, though she didn’t make any move to actually leave Chloe’s bed.

Chloe understood, she really did; Aubrey was head girl, and although she had a perfectly legitimate reason, being caught leaving somebody else’s room in last night’s clothes was sure to spark rumour and speculation, neither of which Chloe wished upon her best friend. It didn’t stop her heart sinking however, as she reluctantly broke out of Aubrey’s hug, pushing herself to sit up properly, running a hand through her hair as she watched the blonde slip out of her bed, clad in only her shirt and underwear; which really should’ve been Chloe’s first clue that Aubrey hadn’t felt uncomfortable in the slightest; as she picked up her wand, placing it carefully between her teeth as she stepped back into her skirt, fixing it about her waist with swift, adept fingers, brushing out the creases with the pads of her fingers as Chloe onlooked.

“Thank you for staying with me.” Chloe broke the comfortable silence as Aubrey met her gaze, wand still perched carefully between her teeth as she shrugged her shoulders into her cardigan, attempting to make herself look presentable, rather than looking like she’d slept in someone else’s bed in her clothes, which was exactly the case.

Once Aubrey had retrieved her wand from between her teeth, and placed it safely in the pocket of her jumper, she flashed Chloe a wide, blindly smile full of warmth and love that made Chloe’s heart feel like it was fit to burst as she wondered how on earth she had gotten so lucky to end up with Aubrey as her best friend. “It was no trouble, besides, I had fun. We should have sleepovers more often.” the blonde replied with a soft laugh that rang through the otherwise blissfully quiet room.

“I’ll hold you to that Posen.” Chloe giggled back, feeling almost completely back to her usual chirpy self. Aubrey leant over Chloe and pressed a quick kiss to her forehead as she prepared to depart, stepping back into her patent black brogues as she promised Chloe that she would indeed come back for more sleepovers.

“I’ll see you later Chloe, are you coming out to Hogsmeade later?” Aubrey called quietly, hesitating in the doorway as she turned back to look at her best friend.

“I was supposed to be-” The redhead cut herself off, because she really didn’t feel like vocalising that she had had plans with her now, possibly,   ex- boyfriend. “I don’t know.” she ended plainly with a small shrug.

Aubrey nodded understandingly; Chloe and Tom had always gone on regular dates throughout the school year on their trips to Hogsmeade, and this was, in all likelihood, the first weekend they wouldn’t be spending the day in each other’s company. “ Well just come and find me if you feel like going, I love you Chlo.”

“I love you too Bree, see you later.” And with Chloe’s final bid of farewell, Aubrey slipped out the door, disappearing from Chloe’s sight as she began her trek back up to Ravenclaw tower.

 


 

 

Aubrey managed to surreptitiously sneak her way back to the Ravenclaw common room without being caught by any of the patrolling members of staff, answering the door knocker’s riddle with ease before she strolled into the common room, already alive with a low hum activity, even for the early morning.

“Well, well well,” Luke greeted Aubrey from across the room, wearing a devilish smirk as  he sat, draped languidly across a plush armchair, a potions textbook open in his lap. “Look what the cat dragged in. Fun night?” he teased as he raised an eyebrow, sitting up straight in his chair as Aubrey crossed the room to take the seat opposite him, throwing him a glare as she slumped into the arm chair, crossing her legs over each other and folding her arms.

“I was with Chloe, you ass.” Aubrey replied sharply, though her words held no real malice towards her friend, only a slight biting edge which Luke knew to just be another form of teasing.

The blonde boy shrugged, “Doesn’t mean you weren’t having fun.” he shot back immediately, his smirk widening for a moment, before his posture relaxed and his features fell into a softer, more caring expression. “How is she? I heard that she and Tom had broken up.”

Aubrey exhaled gently, uncrossing her arms to run a hand through her dishevelled blonde hair. “News travels fast in this place; and I thought it was the Hufflepuffs that were the gossips. Even she’s unclear as to what's going on with them, but she was pretty cut up about it last night. What Tom said really hurt her. I invited her to come out to Hogsmeade with us later, she said she’d think about it.”

Luke nodded thoughtfully, sitting back in his chair. “I heard them last night, we all did. I hope she does. If not, I’ll try and talk to Tom; from what I heard of it, he sounded completely out of line.” he said with a bitter edge to his tone; since Aubrey had introduced Chloe to Luke, he had always felt protective over her, much like the older brother she never had, and anyone hurting her, even one of his closest friends, made his blood boil.

Aubrey mirrored Luke’s action, nodding in agreement, knowing that if anybody could get through to Tom ,get him to understand that what he said and the way he acted was wrong, it was Luke. She opened her mouth, about to reply, when she was interrupted by the sound of the common room passageway opening, and in walked Stacie Conrad, looking, the only way Aubrey could describe it, beautifully wrecked; her hair was completely dishevelled in a way that made it very apparent that she hadn’t spent the night simply sleeping, and although she really didn’t want to think about it, Aubrey was certain she saw a scattering of faint purple marks through the taller girl’s white shirt, that she really didn’t want to think were love bites.

“Would you look at that, two dirty stop outs.” Luke laughed boisterously as he called out to Stacie, who only smirked in response as she approached. “Where did you get to last night then Conrad?”

“Some girl from Slytherin. I was so fucking pissed, I don’t even remember what happened last night. Didn’t even get her name.”  Stacie replied with a smug grin, and that, combined with the fact that Stacie had gone off to sleep with a fucking stranger after kissing her, after she had comforted her, and held her whilst she sobbed into the sheet, made Aubrey want to throw up.

She should have known; known that she wasn’t anything special, that the kiss she shared with Stacie meant absolutely nothing to the brunette, she inwardly cursed herself for being so incredibly stupid and naive.  Her heart contracted and Aubrey swore she felt physical pain that Stacie would do such a thing, when her mind reminded her with an inward bitter laugh, that of course she would.

“Sounds like you had a better night than Aubrey.” Luke smirked; he didn’t really know the extent of what had happened between Stacie and Aubrey, and so conversing with both of them simultaneously wasn’t nearly as awkward and uncomfortable as it was for the girls.

“Why’s that?” Stacie responded in a clipped tone, pointedly not looking in Aubrey’s direction. Luke may have not caught the sneer that accompanied her words, but Aubrey did, and her stomach churned as she wondered how Stacie could go from the way she had been last night, to how she was acting now.

“Our friend Chloe got dumped, we think. Bree was looking after her all night. She was in a real state.” Luke explained, and Aubrey could have sworn that she saw a flicker of an emotion she couldn’t quite put her finger on cross Stacie’s features as she digested the information; Remorse? Regret? Guilt? The blonde girl wasn’t sure, it might have even been a trick of her eye, as in a flash, the smirk that simultaneously made her heart melt, as well as break completely, returned.

“Oh. I definitely had more fun then. I have the hickeys to prove it.” Stacie chuckled back, and as she lifted a hand to her neck, presumably to push her hair back and reveal said hickeys to the other two teenagers, Aubrey snapped.

“Luke, I’ll see you later. I have things to do.” she said sharply, abruptly standing from her chair, desperately trying to hold back her tears as she purposefully walked back towards the stairs leading up to her dorm.

The blonde girl thought she’d managed quite successfully to keep a cap on her emotions as she walked away, until she heard Stacie call after her. “Laters, Posen.”

The last thing both Luke and Stacie heard from Aubrey, was the small, but definite sob that involuntarily escaped her lips, and before either of them could say anything, the forceful slamming of the door.

Chapter Text

After tossing and turning for several hours, Chloe reluctantly resigned herself to the fact that she was unlikely to get any more sleep. She wished she could’ve stolen just a few more hours, because every moment she was awake, it was a constant reminder that Tom had left her. At least when she was asleep, she could escape the sickening reality.

Since Aubrey had left, Chloe was alone with her thoughts, and she still couldn’t quite believe how violently Tom had reacted to the simple fact that she had spoken to somebody he didn't like, for no good reason that she could discern. Was it jealousy? Chloe wondered, but even that seemed ridiculous because Tom had literally nothing to be jealous of; Beca was a girl she barely even knew, it was hardly like she was going to throw months of what had been a perfectly wonderful relationship away for her, and Tom didn’t have those sorts of insecurities in the first place.

Even if they couldn’t salvage the relationship, or even a friendship, Chloe wanted to at least know why.

Part of her would have been quite content to hide away in her bedroom all day, wanting to avoid Tom, avoid the whispers and lingering glances, avoid the inevitable creepy guys that would sidle up to her after finding out that she’d recently become single.

The other part of her knew that if she didn’t at least drag herself out of bed, that Aubrey would be back in her room, with pursed lips and folded arms that wouldn’t waver til Chloe at least agreed to eat breakfast. And she was actually pretty hungry.

With a sigh, Chloe rolled herself out of bed, crossing the room to where her trunk was kept, searching for something to wear. It was Hogsmeade weekend, which meant that uniform wasn’t required to be worn, and the summer had run right through into September, meaning it was still a pleasantly warm temperature outside.

Eventually, after several minutes of rummaging; because after letting Aubrey cast an undetectable extension charm on her trunk, Chloe had brought every item of clothing she owned with her to school; she decided on a simply, but pretty black and white striped skater dress which she laid carefully on her bed, along with her underwear as she delved further into the trunk to find a matching pair of shoes.

After managing to find a pair of black and white Converse high tops to match, Chloe tossed them onto the floor beside her bed before crossing back to the bed, perching herself on the edge of the mattress as she stripped out of her pyjamas, discarding them in a messy pile in the corner of the room which she vowed to sort out when she was feeling better. (When in all likelihood, Aubrey would clean it up before Chloe even had a chance to think about it.) She then turned her attention back to her clothes, lifting the dress above her head to slip her arms in, pulling it down with one swift motion. As she sat back down to put her shoes on, she realised she’d forgotten to pick out socks, and with an eye roll, she reached to grab her wand from the bedside table. “Accio.” she muttered, flicking her wand at the trunk, and sure enough, a pair of socks flew towards her, which she caught in her free hand with surprising dexterity.

Moments later, having slipped both her socks and shoes on, Chloe was ready, or so she thought, until she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, a groan running through her as it was still painfully obvious on her face that she’d been crying.

There was probably a spell that could have rid her of the tear tracks and red eyes, but Chloe decided that there was nothing wrong with some good old fashioned make up, simultaneously figuring that dolling herself up a little might actually improve her mood. Sitting down in front of the mirror, Chloe pulled out the bag of makeup from the drawer next to her and half an hour later, she smiled into the mirror, feeling exponentially happier now that she didn’t look like a reanimated corpse, and with a definite skip in her step, after grabbing her jacket from her bed post and her purse from her desk, Chloe headed down to go and find Aubrey.

Their group of friends always met outside the Great Hall on Hogsmeade weekends, so when Chloe wandered down the staircase facing the hall, she was surprised to see only Luke, clad in ripped black jeans, a grey t-shirt with sunglasses perched precariously on his head, stood waiting.

“Hi Luke!” Chloe greeted brightly, genuinely excited to see and spend time with her friend. She pulled him in for a quick hug before releasing him with a smile. “Where’s Bree and Jess?” she asked curiously as she stepped back, looking around as if she was expected her two friends to just appear beside them.

“Hey Chlo,” Luke replied easily, flashing her his signature lopsided grin. “Jess is just running a little late, Aubrey is… I don’t know if Aubrey’s coming out with us any more.” he continued in a lower voice, a heavy frown adorning his usually boyish features as his eyes flitted up to the staircase behind Chloe.

“Bree’s the one who invited me out though?” Chloe stated, her voice laced with confusion and concern for her best friend’s welfare. “Is she okay?”

Luke offered her a small grimace and a shrug, “I think she was crying earlier.” he answered bleakly, his entire face sporting a saddened expression, before he leaned forward, moving to murmur in Chloe’s ear as he asked. “Is there something going on between Aubrey and Conrad?” in a discreet whisper, his lips so close to Chloe’s ear that she could feel his hot breath against her skin.

Chloe’s entire body tensed; if Aubrey had been crying, and Luke was making inferences about Stacie Conrad, that meant that something had happened between them, something radically different from the events Aubrey had told her about last night. And she needed to know what.

“Why would you think that?” Chloe asked, not even bothering to appear surprised as all of her subtlety was clouded with her intense worry for her best friend,  her features etching into a concerned frown as she stepped away from Luke, looking up at him as she waited for his response.

Luke shrugged and shifted his weight to his other foot. “She was fine when she came back from you room, and then Stacie came in and she got all weird. I know they're not exactly friends but-”

“What exactly did Stacie talk about?” Chloe interrupted swiftly, getting straight to the point because she knew she was close to figuring out what had triggered Aubrey’s upset, and she wasn’t in the mood for Luke to be indirect with her.

“She talked about her latest one night stand. She hooked up with some Slytherin girl last night apparently. I’m pretty sure she was about to show us the hickeys she got as proof but then Aubrey bolted.” Luke explained, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he waited for Chloe to divulge what her mind was concocting with the new information.

“She said what?” Chloe gasped, completely shocked by the revelation that Stacie had slept with somebody right after kissing Aubrey, and  knowing exactly how much finding that out would crush her best friend. She knew Stacie slept around, everyone did; the girl had a scandalous reputation among the older, and some younger, students at Hogwarts and it was no secret that she was a massive flirt, but the way she watched Stacie hold Aubrey,  the way she cried into her and let Aubrey comfort hurt her, it just seemed different to Chloe, like it actually meant something.

Apparently not.

A completely irrational part of Chloe’s mind suddenly latched onto a smaller piece of information Luke gave, and she couldn’t help but wonder whether said ‘Slytherin girl’ had been Beca Mitchell, a thought Chloe desperately wanted out of her head. It quickly dawned on her that both Luke and Stacie knew who Beca was, they had literally played against each other that very same day, and so Luke would have simply mentioned that it was her if it was, therefore it most definitely wasn’t. Chloe didn’t even take the time to wonder why the thought of Beca and Stacie sleeping together made her feel so incredibly uneasy, and she convinced herself that the sudden urge to go and find Stacie and tell her exactly what she thought of her was simply due to the obvious pain she had caused her best friend, and nothing more.

Luke’s frown etched even further into his features as his confusion only increased from Chloe’s response. “That’s what she said.” he repeated, completely not understanding the shock behind the redhead’s response, curiosity seeping into his tone as her wondered why on earth Chloe was in such surprise.

“Shit.” Was Chloe’s only response in a quiet, controlled whisper that she made sure only Luke heard. She was unsure what was the best thing to do; If Aubrey was upset, then of course she needed to comfort her to the best of her ability, but she also knew that unlike Chloe, Aubrey sort out comfort if she needed it, and didn’t much appreciate anybody, even Chloe, prying into her business, and Chloe didn’t want to appear disrespectful in any way.

Her decision was made for her when she noticed Luke’s attention snap towards the stairs behind her, and she saw Aubrey and Jessica making their way down the stairs towards them, meaning that she needn’t go back up to the Ravenclaw common room in search of her best friend. Aubrey smiled softly at her, and Chloe decided that the blonde seemed happy enough for her to let her enjoy their day together, and she could ask about what Luke had told her later.

Chloe was nearly knocked over by the force of the hug Jessica barrelled into her with, instinctively breathing in the fresh scent of the blonde girl as she buried her face in the crook of Jessica’s neck. Jessica was just as exuberant and bubbly, if not more so than Chloe and she enjoyed hugs and cuddling just as much, meaning her’s and Chloe’s embrace was almost painfully long for their onlooking friends.

“Let the girl breathe Jess, she’s barely been single a day and you’re already throwing yourself at her.” Luke teased, calling out to the embraced pair as even Aubrey sniggered beside him. Ordinarily, both Chloe and Aubrey would’ve been put quite on edge by the comment, but even in his joking tone, Chloe could feel the care beneath his words, and so could Aubrey and so they both simply laughed as Jessica released Chloe with a sheepish grin.

“Are you okay Chlo? Is there anything I can do?” Jessica asked, her features filled with deep concern as she let her arms linger around the base of Chloe’s spine, wanting to make sure the redhead was at least coping with her upset before she completely let go.

“I’m getting there Jess, thank you.” Chloe replied, smiling easily at her best friend as she stepped back out of the embrace, straightening her dress out. “Right now, all I wanna do is go shopping with my best friends and get a drink.”

“Well that, my darling,” Luke drawled with a smirk as he draped his arm over Chloe’s shoulder, intertwined his fingers with her’s as she reached up to take his hand. “That can be arranged.” he chuckled easily, squeezing Chloe’s hand gently as he ushered her to move forward,  and with that, the four set off on their way to Hogsmeade, laughing heartily as Luke started to tickle Chloe mercilessly, getting her laughing and smiling in no time as she squirmed away from him, only for him to twirl her back towards him gracefully; Tom, all but forgotten for the time being.

 


 

They ended up in The Three Broomsticks, all crowded round a small, secluded table in the corner, away from most of the busyness of the pub, laughing at Luke’s expense as he’d gotten royally rejected by a seventh year Gryffindor girl. Chloe had giggled, told him to cheer up and that she would buy him a drink as compensation, and so after checking what Aubrey and Jessica wanted, she made her way to the bar, hovering casually as she waited for the bartender to finish what he was doing to serve her.

“So… You come here often?” Chloe heard the languid, borderline bored yet teasing tone that could only belong to one person she knew, and with eyes wide in surprise, she turned to see Beca Mitchell smirking at her, leaning one elbow on the bar as she sipped at a nearly empty bottle of Butterbeer.

It struck Chloe that this was the first time she had seen Beca out of her school or Quidditch uniform, and since her breakup with Tom, she didn’t even feel ashamed to admit to thinking that Beca looked really, really good; she wore black skinny jeans that had faded slightly, a simple grey t-shirt topped with a sleeveless leather jacket that forced Chloe to refrain from biting her lip; her hair was pushed lazily behind her ear, and fell over her shoulders in messy waves, in a way for many, would be trying too hard to look natural, but on Beca, Chloe could tell it was.

“Does that pick up line ever actually work?” Chloe raised an eyebrow at Beca, mirroring her action of leaning against the bar, a small smile playing on her lips as she saw Beca’s smirk morph into a more genuine smile at Chloe’s question.

Beca shrugged in response, and Chloe noticed a hint of shyness in her eyes and a faint blush spreading across her cheeks as she watched Chloe. “Who says I was trying to pick you up? From what I heard, you’re tied down.” she replied coolly as she tipped the last of her Butterbeer into her mouth before setting the bottle down again the bar, raising an eyebrow at the redhead before she turned back to the bar, rather rudely snapping her fingers at the bartender.

“And where exactly did you hear that? Been checking up on me?” Chloe teased as she sidled slightly closer to Beca, feeling more and more at ease with each passing minute as she rested both elbows on the bar, having practically forgotten all about her friends and their drinks as she watched Beca intently.

Beca cocked her head towards Chloe and shook her head in what the redhead was almost certain was an endearing manner. “Well when a complete stranger comes up to you and forces you to play childish games, I had to take precautions; you could have been out to kill me, I had to make sure you weren’t crazy.”

“I don’t recall you complaining at the time.” Chloe raised her own eyebrow at Beca as she drummed her fingers against the bar, unable to contain her smile as she saw the brunette’s lips twitch into what was almost a smile. “And you heard wrong; tied down, I am not.”

At Chloe’s revelation, Beca’s eyes widened and it took her a moment to respond when the bartender asked her what she wanted; she huffed impatiently and shook her empty bottle, rolling her eyes before she turned to Chloe, having smoothed out her expression. “And for you?” she asked, with a tone that sounded almost hopeful; the sound warming Chloe’s heart in a way she didn’t really understand.

“Uh- The same, please.” Chloe stammered, caught a little off guard by Beca offering to buy her a drink before she regained her composure and smirked at the brunette. “Oh, so now you know I’m not ‘tied down’, you want to buy me a drink?” she teased softly, moving even closer to Beca until their shoulders were almost touching, the light, downy hairs on her arm only barely brushing against Beca’s.

“I’m just being polite, cutie.” Beca replied smoothly, though there was a faint blush spreading across her cheeks as she passed Chloe her drink, which the redhead found absolutely adorable. “What happened though? Last I heard, you and Mr Perfect were all loved up.” Beca noted casually as she took a sip from her bottle, watching Chloe’s face carefully to check she hadn’t crossed any lines with her questioning.

Chloe chuckled softly at the tone of complete disdain that Beca used to refer to Tom before she too took a drink of her Butterbeer, breathing in deeply through her nose before replied. “So you don’t like Tom, huh? He’s had some very complimentary things to say about you.” Chloe said with a small smile, knowing Beca knew full well that Tom didn’t like her in the slightest; a feeling that was very obviously mutual.

Beca let out a loud laugh and scoffed, turning to Chloe with an incredulous expression. “ Well I know that’s not true. But to answer your question, no, I don’t like him.” she replied rather curtly, before flashing Chloe a smile and raising her eyebrows again. “You gonna answer mine now?”

Chloe blushed when she realised her question dodging had been caught out, and she opened her mouth to answer when she noticed Beca’s attention focus on a spot behind her, and she turned to come face to face with Luke, who was grimacing. “Hey Luke, what’s wrong?” she asked, her voice instantly concerned at the hard expression on her best friend’s face.

“Don’t worry about those drinks, we’re going.” he replied in a low voice, before looking pointedly over to the corner where they had previously been sitting. Both Chloe and Beca followed his gaze and the brunette made a small noise of disgust whilst Chloe’s eyes widened as they saw Stacie Conrad aggressively making out with an unknown blonde girl, right opposite where they had been sitting.

“Oh! Just give me a moment-” Chloe said hurriedly, looking around frantically for her jacket when Luke held it out to her, along with her bag, smiling gently at emphatic movements.

“Chloe relax, stay here if you want.” Luke smiled warmly, placing a hand on Chloe’s shoulder to still the girl, who was practically vibrating, before tucking a strand of hair behind her ear that had come loose in her frantic efforts to get ready quickly. “Me and Jess can make sure Aubrey’s okay, you looked like you were having fun with Mitchell here.”

A faint blush crept across Chloe’s cheek at the insinuation, and she looked over to the doorway to see Jessica and Aubrey, who, although she looked upset, was smiling at her, and nodded towards Beca, indicating that she was okay to stay. “Okay, but I’ll come find you later?”

“Sure thing Red.” Luke grinned before he nodded to Beca. “Mitchell.” he offered the brunette a smirk before taking a step back and offering the pair of them a short wave before ducking away, heading back towards the door where Jess and Aubrey were waiting for him.

“That’s not even the same girl as last night.” Beca muttered under her breath, her attention having returned to Stacie, and the blonde whose name neither of them knew, before something seemingly snapped her attention back to Chloe, and she peered curiously at her. “Wait, your friend’s name is Aubrey?”

“Yeah?” Chloe replied, her voice equally curious and confused as she wondered where Beca’s thought train had taken her, and why she wanted to know Aubrey’s name.

“Interesting.” Beca replied shortly as she mused over the information, taking a small sip of her drink before she looked back to Chloe, focusing on her again. “Since you’re staying, do you- Do you wanna, maybe, sit? Away from Conrad and her fuck-buddy of course.”

A small chuckle escaped Chloe’s lips at Beca’s sudden awkwardness, and her subsequent attempts to cover it up, and she nodded eagerly, a wide smile on her lips at the notion that she was actually going to spend at least a portion of the afternoon with Beca Mitchell, and possibly actually start to get to know her. “I think I’d like that. Maybe.” she teased; and as Beca cracked a wide, genuine smile, Chloe could barely contain her excitement for the afternoon ahead.



Chapter Text

“You never answered my question, you know” Beca stated dryly as she sat down opposite Chloe at a secluded table in the corner of the pub; the opposite corner to Stacie Conrad and her latest conquest; a fresh bottle of Butterbeer in hand.

“What happened with Tom?” Chloe repeated, raising an eyebrow to make sure she’d gotten the right end of the stick, and when Beca offered her a quick nod, the redhead sighed, sagging in her chair as she blew out a breath and shook her head slowly, before she ran a hand through her auburn locks, a small frown on her lips. “Quite honestly, I don’t even really know. I was supposed to meet him after the game yesterday, but then I- I ran into you, and after, I completely forgot to go down to the Slytherin common room and went straight up to Ravenclaw tower, and later that night, he came up and found me.”

Chloe watched Beca’s eyes narrow a fraction at her words, but the brunette only sipped her drink and said nothing, nodding a head to indicate Chloe should continue, which she did.

“He sent some poor kid into the common room to fetch me, when he could have easily solved the riddle and then got all moody with me. I tried to apologise about forgetting to meet him, but he wouldn’t have it, and then he asked me if I came straight back to Ravenclaw Tower with my friends. I should have known something was up when he asked that, and I didn’t mean to lie-”

“You lied about it?” Beca interjected, a small frown crossing her features; she didn’t know what exactly made her feel so unnerved, and almost jealous about the fact that Chloe, practically a complete stranger , had lied to her boyfriend because she didn’t want him to know she’d seen her , almost as if she was ashamed of her, which was a ridiculous notion in itself because the pair didn’t even know each other. Beca shook her head, silently tutting at herself, because Beca Mitchell didn’t do jealous, and she had absolutely no reason to be getting upset when it was Chloe who had been treated badly, nor jealous, because she barely even knew the redhead, and she didn't do feelings either.

“I don’t know why I did it. It didn’t occur to me that he’d- He saw me. Us. So he knew I lied, and he got so angry. I don’t even know why, it’s not like he caught us making out behind the statues, we were just talking.” Chloe shook her head in incredulous frustration, completely baffled by Tom’s unjustified anger. Yes, she had lied to him, but that, in her opinion, didn’t excuse his behaviour. “And then he got all ‘I told you to stay away from her. For fucks sake Chloe, I fucking told you.’” the redhead rolled her eyes, mocking Tom with every disdainful word as she took a large, long swig of her drink. “‘Are you fucking stupid or something?’” she imitated the older boy before clicking her tongue and setting her bottle back against the beer mat, a little heavy handedly. “Prick.”

“He called you stupid?” The amount of unadulterated outrage in Beca’s voice was quite embarrassing for the brunette, and she had to remind herself that she and Chloe weren’t friends, and she didn’t really have any reason to feel so strongly about the situation, other than her dislike for Tom, which was increasing by the minute. “You’re right, he’s an arsehole.”

Chloe nodded silently, taking another drink before she let out a soft sigh, cocking her head slightly and raising an eyebrow at Beca, looking at her over the top of her bottle. “Why don’t you like him?”

Beca raised one eyebrow, carefully studying Chloe’s face to see whether she should sugar coat her reasoning for disliking the redhead’s only very recent ex. “I think he’s arrogant, and selfish. And I think he finds enjoyment in other people’s misery. He-” Beca hesitated, Chloe would obviously still hold a great deal of feelings for this boy, whether she admitted it or not, and the brunette didn’t want to ruin any potential friendship they might have by telling Chloe something too derogatory about her ex boyfriend. The fact that Beca was being so considerate made her shudder, as well as thinking about friendship, and as if to calm her thoughts she took a swig of her drink. “I just don’t think he’s a very nice guy.”

Chloe only nodded slowly in response as she took a moment to muse over Beca’s revelation; she had never thought of Tom as selfish, quite the opposite in fact, nor had she ever thought him to be arrogant, but she supposed after the way he had treated her, like she was his property and not his girlfriend, she figured there was another side to him that she had never witnessed before, and that perhaps Beca had seen it.

The redhead was about to question her on this, when an almighty crash rang throughout the pub and Chloe whipped her head around to see the owner of the pub ushering an obviously extremely intoxicated Stacie Conrad, as well as her mystery blonde companion out of the front door, after Stacie had knocked over a tray of glasses pushing the blonde girl into the bar, her lips firmly planted to the girl’s neck.

If it weren’t for the fact that her best friend was hopelessly head over heels for Stacie, Chloe would have laughed at the taller girl’s ridiculous behaviour, but instead she only scoffed as she and her companion stumbled out the door, whilst the owner brandished a broom and yelled something about public indecency. When she turned back to Beca, she was surprised to see the dark haired girl rolling her eyes and tutting, her eyes lingering on the door way. “Something against Stacie too? Or do you just automatically dislike everyone I know?” Chloe teased, a slight glint in her eye at the notion she was teasing Beca Mitchell.

“I don’t particularly like people who hide their feelings, and I know for a fact that she is.” Beca replied coolly, finishing off her drink before setting the empty bottle back down on the table, swallowing softly at the complete irony of her disliking people who hid themselves, when she herself did exactly that 99% of the time.

“Why do you say that?” Chloe asked curiously as she sat forward in her chair, leaning closer to Beca as if the brunette held some deep, important secret that Chloe desperately needed to hear, when a thought struck her, and she froze, leaning halfway towards Beca with her brow furrowed. After her moment of thought, Chloe leaned as far as she could towards the brunette and whispered, “You wanted to know my friend’s name. Why?”

Beca couldn’t help but smile at how adorable she found the redhead, before she checked herself and mentally told herself to get a grip, she barely knew the girl for Merlin’s sake. “Its pretty easy to remember a name when it’s being screamed in the middle of the night in the room next to yours. Apparently Conrad can’t cast a silencing charm.” the brunette drawled as she shook her head, rolling her eyes again before she offered Chloe a smirk, “It’s a good thing the girl was too into Stacie to care she was screaming some other girl’s name.”

At Beca’s revelation, Chloe’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped open, before she let out an incredulous giggle and sat back in her chair, still giggling to herself. “She was screaming ‘ Aubrey’? When she was-?”

“Yep. Three times to be exact.”

Chloe giggled again, running a hand through her hair before her face fell. “Don’t tell anybody this, but Aubrey really likes Stacie. I wish they could work things out.”

“Well I imagine Stacie quite likes her too.” Beca sniggered, raising her hand to click her fingers rather rudely at a barman to clear her empty bottle away, before she frowned and cocked her head to the side, her eyes never leaving Chloe’s. “Why is she hooking up with random girls when she clearly wants this Aubrey chick?”

“That's what I wanna know.” Chloe huffed, feeling defeated and a little frustrated as she sat back in her chair, letting the bar man clear away her bottle as well as Beca’s as she thought for a moment. “I also wanna know how Stacie even ended up in the Slytherin dorms when the last I saw her, she was sobbing her heart out in Aubrey’s lap. They kissed too, Aubrey told me.”

“Two girls in one night; Classy.” Beca noted quietly, her voice laced with a tone of utter disdain, before a comfortable silence fell over the pair whilst Beca recovered from her disgust at Stacie Conrad’s promiscuity and Chloe wondered what she could do to get Aubrey and Stacie together, when it was what they both obviously wanted.

Their silence however, was broken abruptly by a loud, rather obnoxious cough from behind, and Chloe watched Beca’s eyes narrow, before she turned around to come face to face with Tom. He looked awful, like he hadn’t slept or eaten, and Chloe’s heart ached, but then she remembered his harsh words and possessive attitude and her expression soured. “What do you want?”

“Well you don’t waste any time, do you?.” The dark haired boy drawled in a low voice, his eyes trained on Beca, who was now practically glaring at him, her knuckles turning white as she clenched her fists tightly as she regarded with him with a look of utter disdain before speaking.

“I don’t think it’s any of your business what she does anymore.” Beca quickly fired back, her eyes narrowed and her gaze cold and unforgiving as she looked up at him.

“She’s still my girlfriend-”

“I am here! ” Chloe spat, glaring up at Tom, despite the fact that Beca had also been talking about her; for some reason that didn’t make her blood boil like it did when Tom spoke about her. “You made it very clear last night that I’m not your anything, Tom. What do you want?”

Tom’s face faltered for a moment, and it seemed to Chloe that he’d lost his resolve as he stammered out. “ C’mon Chlo, don’t be like th-”

No Tom, you don’t get to do that.” Chloe said firmly, though her voice was shaking, along with her hands, which like Beca’s, were clenched into fists beneath the table. “You don’t get to talk to me, and treat me like I’m nothing, then come running back when you realise you lost the best thing that ever happened to you, you don’t get to do that.”

The older boy looked positively astounded, and whilst Chloe was a little shocked at herself for being so forceful, Beca couldn’t contain her grin, though she still held a rather uneasy feeling inside her that definitely had nothing to do with the adorable redhead opposite her looking so upset.

“Chloe… I love you.” Tom insisted, moving closer to the redhead, who’s eyes widened, before they filled with tears. Beca placed her hand on Chloe’s knee beneath the table.

“Are you serious? You yelled at me Tom-”

“I only yelled at you because you lied to me!” Tom retorted in a low voice, his dark eyes flickering to Beca before they were forced back to Chloe when she let out a loud, incredulous laugh.

“Lied to you? I only lied to you because you were being so controlling! It’s literally none of your business who I talk to, whether it’s someone you don’t like, or not. I told you a little white lie, you swore at me,  and called me ‘fucking stupid’. Is that how you treat somebody you love?” Chloe replied, her voice breaking as a single tear ran down her cheek, which she furiously wiped away; Tom didn’t deserve her tears. “I’d like you to leave, please.”

Instantly defensive against, Tom scoffed, “It’s a free country, I can stand where I like”

Tom’s obnoxious words sparked something in Beca which she’d later try to pin down to the fact that she hated the guy, when in reality it probably also had something to do with the tears littering Chloe’s face. “Dude, she just asked you to go, so fuck off before I make you.”

Chloe wasn’t certain whose wand was drawn first, whether Tom stepped back or was forced back by Beca, but somehow, with a loud clatter and the scraping of chair legs against the stone floor, the two brunettes ended up stood opposite each other a few paces from the table, both glaring at each other with their wands pointed directly at each other’s chests before Beca spoke again. “Don’t make me hex you.” she practically growled, her eyes darker than Chloe had ever seen them before.

She knew she should put a stop to this, but she was frozen to her seat, fixated on the sight in front of her, and then suddenly everything happened so fast that if the redhead would have blinked, she would have missed it all; Tom lunged for Beca, pinning her against the stone wall of the pub, his elbow at her throat; Chloe stood to yell at him to stop, to leave her alone, but before she could even speak, he was suddenly thrown backwards, skidding across the floor with a loud crash as he collided with an empty table.

“I will not have violence in my pub!” Chloe’s head whipped round to see Madam Rosmerta, wand raised at Tom with a fierce expression, and after a second of complete shock, Chloe stood up and rushed over to Beca, who had since sunk to the floor, her hands at her throat, gasping for breath.

“Beca? Oh god- I’m so sorry- Are you okay?” The redhead gasped, crouching in front of the tiny brunette, who, curled up on the floor with involuntary tears in her eyes, looked so much more vulnerable than Chloe imagined she ever wanted to be seen.

“‘Mmm fine.” Beca muttered, her breathing slowly becoming easier to control as she reached up to wipe her face; she didn’t want Chloe to see her cry, even if it was only out of pain.  “And shut up… ‘s’not your fault…” she managed to get out in low voice, still breathing heavily now that she was able to.

After making sure that Beca was able to keep breathing regularly, Chloe turned back just in time to see Tom struggling to his feet, still glaring, before skulking out of the pub. Their eyes met briefly, and whilst she was still shaken up from what had just happened, Chloe hoped the expression she gave him did the job of saying ‘Don’t you ever come near me again.’ as she watched him leave.

As she turned back, Chloe noticed Beca was trying, and failing, to get to her feet. “Here, let me help.” Chloe said softly; despite not even knowing the brunette, she was sure that Beca wouldn’t ask for her help, even if she desperately needed it, and so she figured she might as well offer.

When Beca didn’t protest,Chloe tentatively held Beca under her arms, just above her rib cage, and the brunette grudgingly held onto Chloe’s shoulders as she pulled her to her feet with ease. “Thanks.” Beca mumbled softly as she pulled herself out of Chloe’s grip to shakily make her way back to her seat, falling into it clumsily as she drew in another deep breath, her face flushed from having been deprived of oxygen; Chloe thought it was cute.

Sitting back down across from Beca, Chloe offered her an apologetic- bordering on petrified look, due to the immense amount of guilt spreading it’s way through her body and invading her thoughts; Beca will never want to speak to you ever again. You’ve ruined everything. This is all your fault.

“He never hurt you like that, did he?” It was Beca’s voice that broke Chloe out of the vicious thought cycle, and whilst she was grateful, the brunette’s words shocked her, rendering her speechless for a moment as Beca continued, “Because if he ever laid a hand on you-”

“No, no!” Chloe interrupted, shaking her head rapidly, because in spite of the horrible things he had said to her the previous night, he had never physically hurt her, certainly not in the way he had just assaulted Beca. At first, Beca’s question had startled her, but she realised now that the way he had treated her, the conclusion the brunette had come to could have been perfectly valid, and it was that thought that brought Chloe to the verge of tears, though the specific reason why was unbeknownst to her as she whispered, “I’m so sorry Beca.”

Beca, who had been awkwardly looking around, her eyes flitting between the table, the floor and the bar, looked back to Chloe as their moment of silence was broken, and her eyes instantly widened when she was that the redhead was almost crying; it made her feel something in the pit of her stomach that she didn't have the words to describe, and she had the uncontrollable urge to do everything in her power to make it stop. “Oh- No- No Chloe, it's okay! Uh- Fuck- Seriously, I’m fine now!” she insisted, tripping over her words as she desperately tried to put a smile back on Chloe’s lips, fighting the compulsion to reach across the table and grab her hand, because Beca Mitchell did not hold hands.

A small giggle escaped Chloe’s lips at the way Beca’s words awkwardly tumbled from her lips and she sniffed, rubbing her eyes before offering Beca a small smile, that despite being a little teary, the brunette couldn’t help but think was adorable. Before Chloe could say anything, which realistically would be another apology, Beca spoke again, her voice softer than Chloe had ever heard it before, “Don’t apologise for him. It’s not your fault he can’t control his temper. Ass.”

Chloe giggled again and nodded slowly, silently promising that she wouldn’t apologise again, accepting that it wasn’t her fault. “Thank you for standing up for me, you didn’t have to.”

“Well, he was being horrible, I wouldn’t him to speak to anybody like that.” Beca shrugged and tried to play it cool, like she would've done what she did for anyone, but they both knew that wasn’t true, not that Chloe would draw attention to it, since she found Beca’s blasé attitude quite endearing, as well as undeniably attractive.

“Even so, I still want to thank you. You were totally badass.” Chloe giggled, both at her own words and the blush she noticed creep across Beca’s cheeks at the words, and as the brunette smiled at her, before bursting into giggles of her own, Chloe felt completely at ease again.

Chloe insisted on at least buying Beca another drink, to accompany her thanks, despite Beca’s protests, and the pair fell back into a light, easy conversation, with Chloe teasing Beca, only to pout and flutter her eyelashes whenever the smaller girl pretended to get annoyed with her, causing Beca to roll her eyes, but eventually forgive Chloe, because let’s face it, she was irresistible.

Their lighthearted banter was interrupted when the door to the pub was flung open, and a frantic girl ran in, looking around wildly until her wide, tear filled eyes landed on Chloe and she rushed over. “Chloe! Chloe you have to help me!” the fourth year Hufflepuff girl, Emily, urged; her voice laced with a mixture of panic, and complete and utter terror as she tugged sharply on the redhead’s arm.

“Emily, Emily hey- Em- What’s wrong?” Chloe asked firmly as she was forced to stand up, Beca mirroring cautiously; the younger girl’s tone setting them both on edge.

“It’s Benji! I- I- Oh god, Chloe you have to help! You-”

“Emily, slow down! What the hell are you talking about?” Chloe urged softly, firstly, not wanting to be in the center of another scene in the pub, but also not wanting the younger girl’s panic to spread to any of the other customers in case something was really wrong. “What exactly has happened to Benji?”

“I- Oh Merlin, Chloe-” Emily choked out, her voice thick with tears as hysterical sobs racked her body, something that was starting to seriously worry Chloe, who knew the girl, and at the very least concern Beca, who didn’t. “I think he’s dead!”




Chapter Text

Ever since she’d found out what being a Healer was, Chloe had wanted to be one; helping people was an instinct that ran so deep inside her it was practically ingrained in her bones, and even as a child, she knew she wanted a job where she got to do that, she just didn’t know at the time it would be such a magical one.

So when Emily had stumbled into The Three Broomsticks, crying hysterically and screaming that she thought her best friend (and possibly something more, Chloe had always suspected, though now really wasn't the time to speculate) was dead, the redhead knew she had to do something to try and help, and as for medical knowledge, Emily had certainly gone to the right person; Chloe spent half her free time pouring over medical books, both wizarding and non magical, in preparation for what she hoped would be her future career, and Madame Longbottom, the school nurse, had even admitted she was sure Chloe knew things that she didn’t.

At Emily’s words, Chloe didn’t hesitate to let the younger girl drag her out of the pub, with a confused, and startled Beca hot on their heels. Emily managed to get out something about the Shrieking Shack and Chloe set off in a sprint, a small part of her brain feeling slightly self conscious about the fact that she was wearing a dress, and running along the street at the speed she was, was certain to reveal parts of her that she really didn’t want on show, but she pushed her embarrassment to the very back of her mind, Benji’s well being and safety being the most important thing.

Chloe’s eyes went wide in fear as she skidded round the corner, and Benji’s body came into view, or at least, the mass of blood pooling around him did. She dropped to her knees as she reached him, her heart pounding in her ears as she studied his condition; his body was covered with gashes from head to foot, which explained the frankly frightening amount of blood; Chloe wasn’t squeamish, not by any standards, but this was terrifying. She pressed her fingers to his neck, and let out a sigh of relief when she felt an extremely weak, but distinct pulse beneath her fingertips.

She was vaguely aware that both Beca and Emily had arrived behind her, but her mind was completely focused on the unconscious boy in front of her as she tried to piece together vague fragments of information that could help her save him; she recalled reading, scrawled on a piece of paper that had fallen out of a library book these symptoms, specifically as if the victim ‘had been slashed with an invisible sword’ before she didn’t remember if she even knew the spell that caused it, or the counter curse.

With a start, Chloe realised that she couldn’t do anything , because she didn’t have her wand as her bloody hands patted over her body, as if checking for pockets, before remembering that she didn’t have any, she was wearing a dress. She was about to turn around, to yell to Beca, or Emily, that she needed their wand, when she felt a soft, warm hand on her shoulder, and her head whipped around to see Beca staring at her, holding out Chloe’s bag, complete with her wand. “You’ve got this. What do you need?” the brunette said softly, and thought Chloe could tell she was scared, her voice had an extremely calming effect on the redhead, and she breathed slightly easier.

“Take Emily to Madame Longbottom, she’s in shock, Tell McGonagall, or anyone really, and bring me some dittany, okay? It’s important Beca, I’ll need dittany. You have to be quick.” Chloe reeled off hurriedly, her eyes dropping back to Benji’s deteriorating state as soon as she knew Beca was listening to her, desperately trying to remember where she had read those words, whilst simultaneously trying to keep as calm as possible, knowing it wouldn’t help anybody if she started to panic.

“Shock. McGonagall. Dittany, fast. Got it.” Beca said firmly as she squeezed Chloe’s shoulder before she stood up, and the sound of Emily’s sobs got further and further away, allowing Chloe to clear her mind. She tried a few simple spells, that she was near certain wouldn’t work, and she was right; none of them did anything to stop, or slow the bleeding, and it was only then that it hit Chloe that she wouldn’t be able to save the boy, a thought which shook her, but she forced herself to shake it from her mind; doubting herself wouldn’t help.

Taking a deep breath, Chloe closed her eyes, searching her mind, retracing her steps because she knew that whatever else had been on that paper was going to be the key to helping Benji. She remembered the day well, it was when the new History of Magic teacher had started, and they learned for the first time about the great wizarding war, and it was that thought that sparked something in Chloe’s mind, and her eyes flew open with a gasp; The war, Casualties. Illegal spells. Chloe remembered giggling when Aubrey told her about a spell that caused a boy to lose his entire ear, and the blonde chided her, saying it wasn’t funny. She knew what had caused Benji’s injuries.

Swallowing harshly, Chloe tightened her grip on her wand; she knew how dangerous it was to attempt an unknown spell on someone living, let alone somebody who was very likely going to die if she fucked up, but she was very quickly running out of options and so with a deep breath, Chloe dragged the tip of her wand across a cut along Benji’s cheekbone and whispered “ Vulnera sanentur.” before holding her breath for the effect.

Chloe watched, half in awe, half in relief as the cut on Benji’s cheek slowly but surely started to close up. She was so caught up in watching her spell at work that she was completely unprepared for the unconscious boy to wake up, his arms flailing, hands grabbing at her, completely covering her arms and her front in blood as he screamed in pain. Chloe hadn’t been planning on him waking up. “Benji! Benji! It’s Chloe, I’m going make it stop, okay? But you need to stay still.” Chloe urged as she watched more blood spill from the wounds she had yet to close yet.

Thankfully, Benji stopped flailing and his head fell back against the ground, his eyes closed, though his face was contorted in agony. Chloe repeated the spell over and over, letting it flow off her tongue like a strange, eerie melody as she got more confident, and she felt her heart slowing down as the younger boy’s body healed, the wounds seemingly knitting closed and the blood covering him returning into his body as she traced her wand over each and every cut, until the only evidence of any trauma at all was the blood covering Chloe.

It seemed some time between his painful awakening and now, Benji had fainted again, his breathing much more steady and regular as Chloe sat back, her own breathing heavy as she felt the adrenaline start to drain from her body, leaving her feeling extremely shaky. She knew Benji wasn’t out of the woods yet, she didn’t know how permanent this counter curse was, and she knew the boy would be left with scars, judging by the depth of the slashes to his chest if she didn’t get some dittany soon, praying that Beca would be back with help quickly.

Barely five minutes later, Chloe heard footsteps skidding down the path and relief flooded her when she heard Beca, who had obviously just ran the entire way from the castle to get to her, “Chloe? I-I- I got the- The dittany, right? Is he okay?” The brunette asked breathlessly, holding out a small, clear vial for Chloe to take.

It was only when Chloe reached up to take the small bottle from Beca’s hand did she realise just how much her own were shaking due to the intense adrenaline rush, and she shook her head, pushing Beca’s hand away before she moved to yank Benji’s shirt open, giving Beca access to his bare chest. “My hands are shaking too badly, you need to pour a few drops over the scars, okay? I think he’s gonna live Beca, I think he’s gonna live.” Chloe whispered as she pushed herself back, her body suddenly exhausted as she slumped on her backside, watching as Beca carefully removed the stopper for the vial and followed Chloe’s direction, pouring the liquid over Benji’s chest before sharply pulling away from the greenish smoke that billowed up from where the droplet touched his skin.

“Help is coming, by the way.” Beca whispered as she moved over to Chloe, judging by the redhead's lack of response that there was nothing wrong with the green smoke, and that it was safe for her to just wait until some actual adults arrived. The blood completely covering Chloe was unnerving Beca slightly, but she could see how badly she was shaking from a foot and a half away, so she knew that Chloe needed some comfort, figuring she could deal with a little blood. “I told Madame Longbottom everything that happened, and McGonagall, Professor Longbottom and a healer from St. Mungo’s are on the way. Are you… Are you okay?”  

The concern in Beca’s voice startled Chloe; before today, she had barely even spoken to her, and even now, she still didn’t Beca would consider them friends, so the softness of her voice once all the sarcasm and sass had been stripped away was a new feeling, though it was definitely not unwelcome. The other reason she was so shocked was because, despite all the blood and gore, there was nothing wrong with her; it was Benji who was recovering from a brutal, vicious attack that neither of them knew the motive behind, and Beca was asking if she was okay? Chloe chuckled softly, “Me? I’m fine, I didn’t just nearly die.”

It seemed Chloe’s teasing had caused Beca to realise that she’d momentarily dropped her angsty bravado, and she coughed slightly, and sound that Chloe definitely didn’t find extremely adorable, not at all. “ Well, yeah. I know that. I just- I- Your hands are shaking.” Beca paused, and Chloe felt the brunette’s eyes drink in her appearance, “Your whole body is.”

“Oh.” Chloe giggled, her voice a few semitones higher and slightly delirious before she took a deep breath, knowing that it was just the adrenaline in her body and there was nothing more worrying going on. “It’s just adrenaline, nothing to worry about. This mess, however-” Chloe gestured down at herself before letting out a soft giggle, not even registering that whilst she had been speaking, Beca had shifted even closer to her.

“You’re still pretty though.” Beca stated a little abruptly, like the words had escaped her lips before she could process them, and as soon as she realised what she had said, the brunette’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open like she was about to start back tracking, and Chloe simply couldn’t have that.

“Thanks!” Chloe replied brightly as she slipped her still shaking hand into Beca’s squeezing it tightly, not making a big deal out of Beca’s words, because it wasn’t a big deal; she always called Aubrey pretty, and Jess, and hell, she’d even called Luke beautiful a few times, it didn’t mean anything, except that maybe Chloe was wrong about Beca’s views on the status of their friendship.

Chloe was about to pull her hand away again, not wanting to make Beca feel uncomfortable with her overly touchy personality, when as soon as she moved, Beca tightened her grip. She didn’t say anything about it, but as Chloe looked up from their intertwined fingers to Beca’s face, she saw that she was staring intently at Benji’s unconscious body, her eyes wide. “Who would do something like this Chloe?”

“I don’t know Beca, I really don’t know.”

 


 

 

 

“Can you just run through what happened one more time, please?”

Chloe groaned; after Benji had been safely taken to hospital, and all of the students had been escorted back to the castle immediately, the school had been placed on total lockdown; this wasn’t just some harmless prank gone wrong, McGonagall had said, this was a deadly attack, and the safety of the students was of the utmost importance whilst there was still an attempted murderer on the loose. She and Beca had been taken up to the headmistress’ office immediately, where they had to recount the events firstly to Professor McGonagall and Professor Longbottom, then Professor Macmillan, as Benji’s head of house, then to Benji’s parents, and now finally, to a small team of aurors who had been assigned to investigate.

Still sat in her bloody clothes, which no one had bothered to offered to clean, despite nearly everyone in the room being able to, Chloe really wasn’t in the mood; she was exhausted, she was hungry, and despite being hailed as a hero by Benji’s family, the professors, and even the healer from St. Mungo’s, who said that if she hadn’t acted as quickly and precisely as she did, there was an extremely high possibility that he would have died, she really didn’t feel like she was being treated as one.

“Oh come on, we’ve been here hours!” Beca grumbled, obviously seeing Chloe’s tiredness and figuring she should take it for the team and answer, Chloe did all the actual life saving after all. “That Emily girl ran into the pub, crying that she thought Benji was dead. She said he was down by that old shack thing-”

“The Shrieking Shack?”

“Yeah, that. So we all ran down there, Chloe was ahead of us, and when we got there, the kid’s all covered in blood, cuts everywhere. Chloe seemed like out of the three of us she would be the most useful, so I asked her what she needed, and she told me to take Emily back to the castle, alert people, and bring her some- Uh, some-”

“Dittany.” Chloe supplied weakly, lifting her head from where it had been resting against the arm of the chair was currently curled up it to glance at the aurors, before letting her eyes flutter shut again, and she moved to lay her head back down.

“Yeah, that’s right, dittany!” Beca continued, looking over at Chloe, who really did seem exhausted, the adrenaline come down had seriously worn her out. “So I ran up to the castle as quick as I could, took Emily to the infirmary, got the dittany, and as I was running back out, and ran into, literally ran into Professor McGonagall, so I really quickly told her what had happened, told her that Chloe was doing her best but we needed a healer, and then I ran back down to where Chloe was.”

Thankfully, for both girls, the aurors had already been informed by the hospital of the spell Chloe had used to heal Benji, so after Beca had finished her retelling of the story, the aurors left, leaving the girls alone with Professor McGonagall, who had just returned to the office. “I’m sorry you’ve been stuck in here for so long, the aurors patrolling the school know who you are so you’re free to go down to the kitchen and get whatever food you like since you missed dinner, just don’t spend too long out of your dorms, this may sound daunting, but if Mr Applebaum was a target, and not just a random attack, you two could also become targets for saving his life. That was a very brave thing you did Miss Beale, I’m very proud to have you in my house.”

At those words, despite her tired state, Chloe perked up, her eyes brightening as she pushed herself into a proper sitting position, smiling widely at the headmistress. “I- Wow- Thank you Professor.”

“No, thank you. I’m awarding you 500 points, and 200 for you, Miss Mitchell, got to make all the running worthwhile somehow.” The professor joked, and Beca actually managed a grin, straightening up in her chair and letting out a content sigh as she felt all of the muscles in her back and shoulders crack pleasantly. “You can both go now. Oh, by the way, Miss Beale?”

“Yes Professor?”

“Miss Posen is waiting outside for you, and has been for the last two hours, she’s a little... agitated.”

“Oh Merlin, thanks for letting me know Professor!” Chloe exclaimed softly, pushing herself out of her chair as she held out a hand to Beca, “Come on, you.”

Chloe pulled a very begrudging Beca out of her chair with surprising ease, despite her exhausted muscles, and she barely even noticed herself linking her finger’s with Beca’s as the exited the office, not that Beca protested in any way as they stood in silence which, after the hours of talking, was completely comfortable. Their silence was eventually broken as the stairs they stood on finished their descent and reached the corridor, and a shrill, panicked, and after not seeing her all day, very welcoming voice pierced the air “Oh my god Chloe! Finally! I’ve been waiting down here for hours! Merlin, are you okay?”

The redhead barrelled into her best friend faster than a speeding bullet, dropping Beca’s hand before hugging Aubrey tight around the neck, needing the physical reassurance that she knew the blonde could provide for her where Beca couldn’t. “I’m okay Bree, really tired, but I’m okay.” she said softly, before realising that she was still covered in dried blood and yanking herself away abruptly, offering Aubrey an apologetic smile when she took in Chloe’s appearance properly for the first time.

“Chloe! You look like you were the one that nearly died!” Aubrey gasped, taking a small step back so she could fully take in the redhead’s appearance, whilst Beca awkwardly shifted her weight from one leg to the other, not knowing where to look as Chloe skipped away from her and back towards the blonde.

“Really Bree, I’m fine. A bit shaken up, obviously, but once I wash all this crap off and get some sleep, I’ll be okay, I promise. I just need to rest.” Chloe replied sincerely, taking Aubrey’s hand in her own and squeezing gently, wanting to reassure her that she really was okay, or at least, as okay as she could be, and that the blonde didn’t need to worry about a thing.

Aubrey studied Chloe’s face for a moment before she seemed to decide that Chloe was telling her the truth, and she nodded to herself. “Do you want me to go with you to clean up?” she asked, before her eyes flicked to Beca and she then studied her for a moment, before she continued. “Or is Beca gonna go with you?”, staring rather pointedly at the brunette, who looked momentarily confused; Was this Aubrey chick telling her to go with Chloe?; before she stammered out that she would go with Chloe, because she could do with a shower too, before Aubrey continued, a small smile, which Chloe recognised as more of a smirk, on her lips, “Oh, okay then! I’ll just-”

“Please stay with me tonight.” Chloe interrupted, the idea of a mystery attacker on the loose near the school didn’t exactly fill her with joy, and she didn’t enjoy sleeping alone at the best of times. “I have some serious drama to tell you about.” the redhead’s eyes flickered to Beca, who obviously understood she was referring to her’s and Tom’s altercation in the pub, and offered Chloe a brief, knowing smile.

“Well if there’s drama…” Aubrey pretended to roll her eyes, knowing that, whilst Chloe probably did have things to tell her, she really just needed somebody tonight, and despite the heavy repercussions of getting caught out of her dorm after this new, very strict curfew had been enforced, she would of course be there for her best friend. “I’ll just go and wait in your room, okay?”

Chloe nodded, glad that Aubrey had understood her fear and apprehension and was happy to relieve it as best she could. Launching forward to give her best friend one last hug, taking care not to touch Aubrey with her bloody clothes, Chloe let out a soft sigh before pulling away, offering the blonde a warm smile before stepping away completely. “I’ll let you get go then, don’t you dare fall asleep without me!”

“I wouldn’t dream of it Beale, don’t take too long!”

“Laters Bree!”

 

Chapter Text

“So you and the blonde are close then?” Beca asked rather awkwardly, having gotten sick of the silence that Chloe apparently found comfortable as they walked towards the Prefect’s bathroom, but having absolutely no idea how to make any sort of small talk.

“Aubrey.” Chloe corrected with a smile before she nodded eagerly, thrilled at the prospect of getting to talk about her best friend. “She’s been my best friend since third year. She’s great. Do you have a best friend?”

Beca scoffed. “Do I strike you as the type that plays well with others? Let alone have a ‘best friend’?” The way Beca said the words made them sound dirty and childish, causing Chloe’s smile to falter momentarily as she swallowed, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. As soon as she noticed Chloe’s apparent distress, Beca cursed herself inwardly, silently floundering for a way to remedy the situation because the way Chloe looked when she was unhappy made Beca’s insides twist unpleasantly, though she wasn’t really sure why. “I don’t really do ‘friends’ at all… I’ve never found somebody that I actually enjoy spending time with for longer than like five minutes,” the brunette chuckled, slightly nervously before continuing, “Except you. I liked hanging out with you.”

Although she knew it was sure to make Chloe smile, Beca was not prepared for the way Chloe’s entire face lit up at her revelation, the redhead’s unbelievably blue eyes widening slightly before she smiled the widest Beca had ever seen, which was saying something, because that girl smiled a lot; something that also made Beca’s stomach flutter, but definitely not in an unpleasant way, not that she could quite put her finger on what exactly made her feel that way.

“You liked hanging out with me?” Chloe’s words were almost shy, with an undertone of innocence that made Beca’s insides curl because from what she had already seen from this girl, combined with her reputation for being one of the nicest, and most popular students in the school; What? Maybe she did go round asking the few people she just about tolerated about the sunny redhead after their meeting in the corridor, so what?; she had gathered that Chloe was not a shy person, and that knowledge made Beca consider whether her confidence really was as strong as she portrayed, since she obviously seemed to care very much about what Beca thought of her, and it instantly made the brunette want to reassure her.

“Yeah. I mean, it didn’t suck...Wait! No, I didn’t- Oh fuck-  Just- Yes, I liked hanging out with you.” Beca eventually managed to splutter out, her face turning bright red as she blew out a long breath, feeling extremely embarrassed at her apparent incompetence at speaking as she shook her head to herself.

“You're cute.” Chloe smiled kindly, finding the flush of Beca's cheeks endearing as they reached the entrance to the bathroom, unaware at the way her words were making Beca heat up like there was a fire burning in the pit of her stomach. “Fireflies.” she whispered to the door, which opened immediately and the redhead ducked under the doorway to lead Beca into the large, lavish bathroom, grinning at the look of astonishment on the brunette’s face.

“Cool, isn't it?”

“Try fucking amazing.” Beca chuckled in response, her eyes wide as she surveyed the room, thoroughly impressed. “And only prefects can come here?”

“Strictly speaking, yes.” Chloe started, smiling mischievously as she moved ahead of Beca to start turning on a series of taps, bright pink bubbles bursting out of one of them, whilst another was spewing out water scented with citrus. “But nobody else is going to be coming up here, so I won’t tell if you don’t”

Beca chuckled at that, but the sound was abruptly cut off by a sharp intake of breath, which inadvertently transformed into an awkward cough as Chloe shamelessly unzipped her bloody dress, letting it fall to the floor, leaving her just in her underwear. “Dude!” the brunette exclaimed indignantly, because that was the only response she had to her heart speeding up like that and her mouth going dry, not wanting to look at Chloe like that, but being unable to tear her gaze away.

“What?” Chloe asked, sounding genuinely confused and concerned as she looked around for a second, before she noticed the flush in Beca’s cheeks and she giggled softly, “Oh… I’m pretty confident in all of this.”

Beca swallowed, almost cringing as Chloe pulled her socks and shoes off, leaving very little to the imagine as she tried her hardest not to look the redhead up and down. “You should be.” she replied awkwardly, shifting from one foot to the other as Chloe smiled at her, her heart hammering in her chest.

Deciding to take pity on Beca, who was obviously embarrassed, Chloe moved to sit on the edge of the bath, before sliding in, sighing at the warm water surrounding her, washing away the grim evidence of the day’s events. Turning around, so that her arms were resting on the edge of the bath, looking up at Beca, she flicked a jet of water at the brunette. “Aren’t you coming in?”

“What? Just like- In my underwear?” Beca spluttered, despite the fact that that was obviously what Chloe meant, and they both knew it.

“Yes?” she replied, as if it was obvious, before her eyebrow twitched and she toned down her playful slightly. “I won’t look, if that’s what’s making you uncomfortable.”

“Um- Yeah… Thanks- Sorry.” Beca mumbled, waiting until Chloe had turned away before she slipped her jacket off, dropping it next to Chloe’s bloodied dress, before she pulled her shirt over her head and stepped out of her jeans, pulling her shoes and socks off, taking a breath because she was about to get in a bath, with an undeniably beautiful girl, her thoughts going crazy inside her head; She’s got a boyfriend. They broke up! That doesn’t mean she wants you. They could get back together. Just get in the damn bath Mitchell.

“You’re still not joining me.” Chloe’s voice broke through Beca’s internal monologue, bringing her back out of her thoughts as she chuckled weakly, quickly sitting down on the edge of what was essentially a swimming pool, before sliding in.

“Happy, now?”

“Ecstatic.” Chloe replied with a smirk as she turned to face the brunette, her expression changing into one of endearment as she noticed how, despite being surrounded by bubbles, Beca was still trying to cover herself; Chloe found the shyness cute. “Isn’t this nice?” she sighed as she kicked away from Beca, floating onto her back as she splayed out, simply enjoying the warmth of the water whilst simultaneously giving Beca a little bit of privacy, hoping to get her to relax slightly.

Beca had to agree with Chloe; this bath was amazing. “Yeah, it’s not bad.” she agreed, managing to maintain her usual apathy to a degree, because being in a bath with Chloe Beale was affecting her in more ways she cared to mention.

There was a comfortable silence in which Beca slowly released the arms covering her chest, even though it was underwater, and just when she thought she might actually be getting used to the fact that she sharing a bath with a seriously attractive girl who was emotionally involved the biggest asshole in the school, a soft melody began to float through the air.

You shout it out, but I can't hear a word you say. I’m talking loud, not saying much. I’m criticised, but all your bullets ricochet. You shoot me down, but I get up.”

“You know David Guetta?” Beca blurted out with far less dignity or grace than she’d have liked, her voice echoing slightly as it bounced off the high ceilings.

“Have I been living under a rock?” Chloe raised an eyebrow as she sank back into the water, swimming towards Beca gracefully before she stopped a few feet away, not wanting to cross any lines. “That song is my jam.”

‘Your lady jam’ a small voice inside the redhead echoed, causing her cheeks to flush a delicate pink, desperately hoping Beca assumed it was caused by the warm water.

“Yeah, no, I-” Beca stammered, sinking lower in the water now that Chloe was closer to her, which only caused her to accidentally get a mouthful of water as she went to speak again, erupting in a fit of coughing as her body tried to force the water from her lungs.

Chloe instantly swam over, all regards towards personal boundaries gone now that Beca was in potential danger; she did want to be a healer after all. Patting the brunette’s back forcefully as she used her free arm to hold Beca above the water, propelling them to shallower depths, she smiled reassuringly. “You’re okay, it’s only a little water.”

“That’s two lives you’ve saved today.” Beca joked weakly as she managed to regain her breath, still panting slightly as she watched the way Chloe’s face fell and the arm around her fell away, and she instantly realised what bad taste her joke was in.

“Don’t joke about that.” Chloe mumbled as she moved away, avoiding Beca’s gaze as she swallowed thickly because now her mind was conjuring up horrific images of Benji bleeding out on the pavement.

“Sorry, you're right. That wasn't funny.” Beca swallowed awkwardly, feeling like such an idiot for saying that; of course Chloe wouldn’t find it funny, how could she be so stupid?

“It’s just- What if-?” Chloe started, knowing Beca hadn’t meant it in that way, but unable to control her emotions as she felt everything just bubble up to the surface from inside her and she burst into tears, covering her face with her hands because, despite the fact that she was quite literally exposed to Beca, in the sense that they were stood no more than a foot apart in only their underwear, she was embarrassed to show Beca this raw, vulnerable side of herself because she barely knew her.

“He could have died- And it would have been my fault!” the redhead continued to sob, and it was then that she registered Beca’s arms awkwardly wrapping around her, comforting her as she cried.

“But he didn’t die Chloe. You helped him. You saved his life.” Beca whispered quietly as she desperately tried to stop the girl from crying because it was doing something to her insides that she couldn’t put her finger on, but it was making her stomach twist unpleasantly.

Suddenly, Chloe threw her arms around Beca, all thoughts of embarrassment and personal space gone as she sobbed because she could stop the horrible ‘what ifs’ going through her mind and the haunting image of Benji drenched in blood was stuck in her mind as she pushed herself closer to Beca, forgetting that she really didn’t know this girl and that Beca probably didn’t understand just how much she actually needed physical reassurance.

Beca held Chloe as she cried for a moment, wanting to help her, before the reality of the situation became too much for her; Chloe was practically naked against her, and she could feel the way the redhead’s bare skin was pressed against hers in a way that made her feel like her insides were on fire, and she just didn’t do crying.

And so she let go.

Chloe blinked, startled by the sudden lack of contact around her, and since the tears in her eyes were now running down her cheeks, she could clearly see the look of abject horror on Beca’s face, and she immediately wanted to simultaneously cry harder and throw up.

“I should- You- You shouldn’t- I- I need to go.” Beca stuttered, all the care in her voice gone as she pushed herself out of the bath, grabbing her wand to dry herself off in an instant because she, rather selfishly, just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. Without meaning to sound as blunt and, frankly, horrible as her words came out, she added. “Stop crying, you look silly.”

Chloe watched in a mixture of shock and genuine pain that ripped right through as Beca awkwardly hurried away to change into some clean robes, still staring at the same spot when not even a minute she was speeding back across the room towards the door, without a second glance to the redhead, whose only indication to Beca actually having left, since she didn’t say goodbye, was the slamming of the door, which echoed through the room and made Chloe flinch.

Standing there in the water, completely dumbfounded, Chloe stared, her gaze still fixed on the spot that Beca had left her, alone and sobbing her heart out in the middle of the bathroom. She realised with a start how stupid she had been to even think Beca would want to be friends with her, she was just a stupid little annoying girl that couldn't keep her emotions under control.

Why would Beca want that?

Beca said she didn't do friends.

You're such an idiot Chloe.

The redhead swam over to the edge of the bath, pushing herself up onto the tiled floor with practised ease as she wandered mindlessly over to the showers on the edge of the room, tears still dripping down her cheeks.

These ones weren't for Benji though, not that Chloe would admit it.

Turning on the water, not bothering to adjust the temperature despite the fact that it was essentially freezing cold, Chloe sat down slowly, bring her knees up to her chest and hugging them close to her body as she cried, staring into space ahead of her as her body and, in tow, her thoughts began to shut down courtesy of the icy water, leaving the redhead a shivering mess on the floor.

 


 

 

Aubrey waited for Chloe for a considerable amount of time, trying to take into account any factors that may have delayed the redhead in returning to her room; the obvious time is took to clean up all the dried blood as well as just general relaxing after a stressful day, and even an extra twenty minutes or so just in case something did happen with Beca Mitchell, having seen how Chloe looked at her.

But once it hit the hour mark, Aubrey started to worry.

Pushing herself up from where she had been lounging on the redhead’s bed, having no problem actually getting into the dorm since she was head girl and the Fat Lady knew and liked both her and Chloe, Aubrey grabbed her wand from the bedside table and tucked it inside her robes, heading off towards the prefect’s bathroom in search of her friend.

Wandering into the bathroom only a few moments later, Aubrey listened out for any sign of life, specifically any sort of sounds that might indicate that she really needed to leave Beca and Chloe alone, but all she heard was the running of the water echoing through the room. The bath was drained and empty, so the blonde wandered around the corner to where the showers were, her eyes widening as she saw Chloe sat on the floor of the cubicle, clad only in drenched underwear as the water ran over her.

“Merlin! Chloe!” Aubrey gasped as she ran over to the redhead, first moving to switch off the water, not minding that she too had gotten soaked with the water after just moment of being underneath it; Chloe was her priority.

At the sound of her name, Chloe looked up blankly, staring at Aubrey but apparently not really seeing her as the blonde knelt down in front of her, not caring that her tights were getting soaked. “Chloe? What’s happened? Talk to me.”

“She left.”

There was a long pause in which Aubrey tried to formulate an appropriate response, knowing that by ‘she’, Chloe meant Beca Mitchell, but before she could open her mouth again, Chloe spoke again.

“I was crying, and she left me. Everyone leaves me. She left me, Tom left- Fuck- I’m so alone-”

“Chloe, look at me. Hey, look at me. You’re not alone. I’m here. I’m here, okay?” Aubrey urged softly as she cupped Chloe’s cheeks between her palms, holding the girl’s eye contact. “I’m here.”

Aubrey expected perhaps some more tears, maybe a little smile or a laugh, or even just an acknowledgement of her words, but what she didn’t expect was Chloe surging forwards to crash their lips together, feeling the redhead’s hands tangle in her hair to keep her close.

The kiss was hot and wet, and Aubrey understood that it was what Chloe needed, she needed to feel wanted, and loved, and to be shown just how true the blonde’s words were; that she wasn’t going to leave.  

So she kissed her back, pulling her close in a way that wasn’t romantic, not at all, it was protective and caring, and Aubrey knew it would make Chloe feel better, but despite the fact that they were definitely making out for the second time in two days, there really wasn’t any sort of sexual tension between them; they just happened to be two, very affectionate best friends.

After a pause, it was Chloe who was the first to pull away, breathing heavily, but no longer sobbing as she looked at Aubrey, an unreadable expression on her lips.

“I’m-”

“Chloe, if the next word out of your mouth is gonna be ‘sorry’, then save it. Its me. Do you feel a little better?”

The redhead nodded slowly, very appreciative of Aubrey's no nonsense nature when it came to situations like this, because her thoughts tended to spiral out of control very easily. “A little… Thank you…” There was a short pause in which the pair both caught their breath and relaxed in each other’s company, before Chloe spoke again, an inquisitive look on her face. “Why are you here though? How long have I been down here?”

“Over an hour and a half… I was worried about you Chlo…”

“Jesus… I’m sorry Bree, I didn’t mean to worry you… I just… I needed a cry, you know?” Chloe managed a weak smile as she let her head fall against Aubrey’s shoulder, her eyes falling shut as she kept taking deep breaths to steady herself.

“I know honey, I know…” Aubrey sighed in response, and Chloe knew just how truthful her words were as they sat together on the damp floor of the shower cubicle, simply enjoying one another’s company for a moment.

“Alright then,” Aubrey continued a moment later, sitting up straighter and pulling Chloe with her as she smiled. “Time to stop moping, Miss Beale; I believe we have a sleepover in order.”

Chapter Text

“And then she just… Left.” Chloe explained, feeling much calmer now that she was all tucked up in her own bed, her head resting against the pillow mere centimetres away from Aubrey’s. She wasn’t at all perturbed by the close proximity, quite the opposite in fact, and she knew that whilst Aubrey didn’t necessarily revell in such close contact, she also knew the blonde was happy to indulge her if it would make her feel even the slightest bit better. “I don’t know what I did…”

“You didn’t do anything honey… Mitchell has always been… Well, frankly, not a nice person.”

“I don’t think she’s a bad person…” Chloe countered softly, absentmindedly fiddling with the collar of Aubrey’s t shirt, since they’d both changed into casual clothes. “She defended me to Tom… She was so angry at the thought he might have hurt me…”

“Well Tom is a completely different story.” Aubrey huffed, positively furious that someone she had considered her friend could hurt Chloe so deeply. “It’s not difficult for anyone to be angry with him at the moment.”

At that, Chloe looked up, frowning slightly. “Has everyone just stopped talking to him?” she asked in a small voice, still fiddling with Aubrey’s shirt as she shuffled closer still.

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Hmm…” Chloe responded softly, letting a breath of silence fill the air for a moment. “I kinda miss him.”

“Chlo-”

'I know, I know.” Chloe interrupted, not needing the lecture she knew was brewing behind Aubrey’s lips. “Part of me feels bad though…”

“You shouldn’t. He hurt you. And I know we don’t exactly like Beca Mitchell at the moment, but he attacked her.”

Chloe hummed softly, knowing Aubrey was right. They lay together in a comfortable silence for a few moments longer; usually the redhead found silence unnerving, but Aubrey made her feel so incredibly comfortable and safe, that she was certain they could just sit for hours on end without speaking, just enjoying one another’s company.

After a long pause, Chloe whispered softly. “Do you think it’s possible to like more than one person at a time?” she asked, her voice miniscule, muffled by the way she was pressed up against Aubrey.

Aubrey hummed softly, stroking through Chloe’s hair idly. “I think it can be possible…” she replied slowly, her words dragging out to indicate to Chloe that she knew the redhead’s question wasn’t simply hypothetical, but she wouldn’t bring it up without being prompted by her friend.

“Right…” Chloe replied softly. “Do you think it’s a bad thing?”

“Hypothetically…” Aubrey started, speaking slowly to consider her words. “If somebody were…. Available, then I wouldn’t see any cause for concern… However, if they were unavailable and perhaps… Still felt that way… Then that may prove to be an issue.”

Chloe nodded, snuggling closer to her best friend as she thought, thankful that Aubrey hadn’t questioned her about her queries. ‘Do you think it’s wrong of me to… i don’t know, still… Have feelings for Tom? I miss him…”

“You we’re in love with him… That doesn’t just go away overnight.” Aubrey replied, shifting to allow Chloe to cuddle closer to her. “I do think you need to be careful though…”

“Careful?”

“Tom’s shown himself to be… Well, quite frankly, dangerous Chloe… He attacked Beca Mitchell in the middle of The Three Broomsticks, for Merlin’s sake!”

Chloe swallowed, she knew Aubrey was right, she had been there. Before she could respond however, Aubrey continued.

“If that’s what he does to a stranger, I don’t particularly want to imagine what he could do to you… I don’t want you to get hurt Chlo.” Aubrey whispered lovingly, squeezing her arms just that little bit tighter around the redhead’s waist.

Revelling in the contact, Chloe sighed softly. “Beca Mitchell is a loner, with like… no friends. She’s an easy target. If Tom even came close to me, he’d have to deal with you, and Jess, and Luke . I’ll be fine Bree. Besides, Tom really should be the least of our worries, with what happened to poor Benji…”

Aubrey tensed at that. “What- What even happened?”

Chloe shook her head, at a loss. “Only really dark spells could do that kind of damage… I mean-” she lowered her voice. “Death Eater level spells… Ones they outlawed years ago.”

“Who- Who even knows that kind of magic anymore?”

“I don’t know Bree, I really don’t have a clue.”

“And there was nobody around when you got there? Nothing suspicious?” Aubrey questioned softly.

Chloe shook her head. “Not even Emily saw, and she was only a few steps ahead of him by the sounds of it.” she replied. “In the time it took her to run up to the Three Broomsticks, and for us to get back down there, whoever did this could’ve gotten anywhere…”

Aubrey grimaced. “Do you think it could be one of them ? A rogue death eater?”

“Attacking school kids? Where’s the reasoning? It just doesn’t make any sense” Chloe sat up slightly, running a hand through her hair.

“Then who? It was only students in the village today. There’s no way a student could’ve done that, right?”

Chloe shook her head with sureness. “There’s no way… That’s seriously advanced magic. Way beyond the capabilities of a NEWT student even.”

“Come here…” Aubrey whispered, guiding Chloe to lay back again the bed, feeling the tension running through her back and shoulders “You did a great thing today… And I know you’re scared, we all are, but right now, you need to rest. You were dead on your feet when I saw you three hours ago. Sleep.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry…” Chloe replied, letting Aubrey wrap her up in a warm embrace, a soft yawn escaping her lips as she curled up against Aubrey. “Night Bree…”

“Night Chlo… Nox.

 


 

“As many of you are aware, one of our students was subject to a brutal attack in Hogsmeade village yesterday.” Professor McGonagall called across the Great Hall, the entire study body staring back at her with wide, fearful eyes.

“Whilst Mr Applebaum is in a stable position at St Mungo’s, please keep him in your thoughts, and wish him a speedy and full recovery. Were it not for the quick thinking and bravery of another of our students, Chloe Beale, he might not have survived, so please join me in congratulating her.”

Chloe blushed and dropped her head to stare at the table as the entire hall erupted in applause, the sound ringing in her ears. She didn’t want the praise, she hadn’t helped him because it would look good, or because she’d win house points; she did it because he was her friend and she loved him.

“Thank you. Now, whilst we are working diligently to discover who, or what, could have done this to Mr Applebaum, extra precautions will have to be taken in order to ensure nothing else like this happens again.” Professor McGonagall continued, her tone much firmer and in control.

“Firstly, until the perpetrator has been apprehended, there will be no more visits to Hogsmeade.” A collective groan rang out through the hall, but Chloe felt quite relieved; the idea of going anywhere near Hogsmeade with such a terrifying threat still out there was just unfathomable to her.

“Secondly, every student will be required to be attend two extra defense against the dark arts class. For the most part, these classes will simply be an hour extension on your existing classes. For NEWT students, please consult with your head of house as to when your classes will be.”

“Extra classes?” Chloe felt Aubrey lean closer to her, her sift whisper almost swallowed by the general murmurings spreading throughout the hall. “What’s that going to solve?”

Chloe shrugged. “At least they’re doing something.” she replied softly.

“Thirdly,” Chloe and Aubrey both redirected their attention to the front of the hall. “If anybody has any information about who could have done this, I urge you to come forward. Now, prefects, Quidditch captains and head boy and girl, stay behind; the rest of you are dismissed. Classes are cancelled for today.”

Chloe followed Aubrey towards the front of the hall, where the rest of the prefects seemed to be congregating. She noticed Beca Mitchell hovering awkwardly, but glanced away before the brunette noticed she was looking, still feeling extremely hurt at the outcome of last night.

“That was really brave… What you did.”

Chloe turned to come face to face with Tom, her expression turning sour as she swallowed uncomfortably. “Thanks…” she replied quietly, her weight shifting from foot to foot.

“You always were so brave.” Tom said in a low voice, lifting a hand to cup her cheek gently.

“Please don’t.”

Tom lifted his hands and took a step back. “Sorry… I just miss you… For what it’s worth, I really am sorry for how I behaved… What I said to you and yesterday… I apologised to Mitchell.” he glanced at the brunette a little sheepishly. Chloe followed his gaze, and met Becas’s, unable to determine what her expression was saying. “I just… I really hope we can at least be friends again Chlo.”

Chloe sighed softly, her eyebrows furrowing slightly. “Just- Lets see what this is all about and then we’ll talk, okay?”

Before Tom could respond, Professor McGonagall gathered them all closer now that the hall had emptied of the remaining students. “Now, Miss Posen, Mr Allen, you two will be in charge of coordinating hourly patrols of the castle, these will be conducted by yourselves, and all of the prefects. Anything out of the ordinary is reported directly to me.”

“Yes Professor.” They both replied, Aubrey as calm as ever and Bumper more serious than Chloe had ever seen him.

“Now, Captains…” Professor McGonagall directed her attention to Donald, Luke and a seventh year Hufflepuff girl Chloe didn’t recognise who had all gathered together. She narrowed her eyes and looked around again, before spotting Beca stood away from the group. “Until we can be certain the castle and grounds are safe, the Quidditch league will be suspended-”

“What?!” Luke gasped, his face a perfect image of complete outrage.

“You can’t cancel quidditch!” Donald challenged over the top.

“This is so unfair!” The Hufflepuff captain chimed in.

The only person that didn’t seem phased by the news was Beca, who stood perfectly still, her hands in her robe pockets.

“No comment, Miss Mitchell?” McGonagall raised an eyebrow, surprised that the usually sarcastic teenager had no retort.

“No Professor.” Beca replied, and Chloe nearly did a double take at how quiet and subdued the brunette sounded. “If it’s what you think is best.”

“Well, I implore you all to take a leave out of Miss Mitchell’s book. In lieu of Quidditch practises, you will all be assisting the prefects in their rounds of the castle.”

A general murmur of “Yes professor” ran through the group, and after a few last words, they were all dismissed. Luke wandered over to Chloe and Aubrey, looking thoroughly pissed off.

“Cancelling quidditch...what are they gonna do next, ban fun?!” he groaned, running a hand over his cropped hair.

Ever the voice of reason, Aubrey sighed softly. “You know it’s for the best. Imagine if whoever attacked Benji managed to get into a quidditch stadium full of students. Everybody’s at risk and you know it”

“I know… Its just… Urgh!: Luke groaned in frustration. “I’ll see you guys later, better go break the news to the team…” he added, before setting off to Ravenclaw tower.

Chloe watched him go for a moment before turning back to Aubrey. “We should hang out tonight, cheer him up.” she chuckled weakly, before frowning at the expression of discontent Aubrey was showing something over her shoulder.

“Tom’s staring at you.” The blonde whispered quietly, her gaze darting between Chloe and behind her.

Chloe took a deep breath and nodded, resigning herself to what was about to happen. “I said I would talk to him… Give him a chance to explain-”

‘Chloe! What is there to explain? He treated you really badly and attacked somebody right in front of you!”

The redhead winced at the shrill tone of Aubrey’s voice, but nevertheless, held her ground. “There’s no harm in talking Aubrey… Besides, we were together for a while… Even if it’s just a bit of closure, it’s something I have to do.”

Aubrey folded her arms and stepped back. “Fine. But be careful, okay?”

Chloe rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Aren’t I always?”






Chapter Text

They ended up in that same spot overlooking the grounds. Chloe couldn’t quite believe that in the space of only a couple of days, they’d gone from having the best date of her life to... Well, this. She thought back over their relationship, trying to remember spotting any red flags, noticing anything that would have alluded to this side of Tom, but she couldn’t. In the last few days, he had gone from the perfect boyfriend; someone she could see herself introducing to her parents, marrying even; to someone she felt like she barely knew.

 

Tom looked contrite as he gestured for her to sit, which she did, him a few feet away, both staring out over the view. They watched the clouds drift across the tree-tops of the forest, the wind whistling softly as Chloe waited for him to speak first.

 

“I just... Get so angry sometimes...” he spoke softly after a long period of silence. “I get so angry and I don’t know how to... deal with it. And it just builds and builds and I try to stop it but I can’t .” his voice cracked and Chloe knew this was the first time he’d said this aloud. 

 

“So it just explodes out of me...” he sighed, idly throwing a small stone into the distance. “I know it’s no excuse...”

 

“You... Attacked Mitchell.” Chloe swallowed thickly after a moment. “You had her pinned against the wall and you... You wouldn’t listen to me... I was really scared. It looked like you would’ve really hurt her if Madam Rosmerta hadn’t stopped you. That’s... That's not okay Tom.”

 

Tom nodded slowly, shifting slightly closer. “I know that... Believe me Chlo, I do... I can’t tell you how sorry I am-“

 

“It’s not me you need to tell-“

 

“And you know I’d never hurt you!”

 

Chloe turned to look at him at that. “I don’t know that anymore Tom. You practically strangled a girl right in front of me.”

 

Tom’s face fell at that and he retreated. “Right... Yeah... I did apologise to her. Mitchell, I mean.”

 

“That doesn’t make it all magically go away.” Chloe replied, the irony of the phrase not lost on her.

 

“I know... But it’s a start, right?” he asked hopefully, and the expression on his face broke Chloe’s heart.

 

She never had been good at controlling her emotions. 

 

“It’s a start.” the redhead agreed softly. “I... I do wanna be your friend Tom... And- and who knows, maybe... we could be... Something more again in the future... But it’s not just about what you said to me in the fight anymore... You... I- I don’t trust you anymore.”

 

Tom nodded again. “I guess I deserve that... I really do love you Chlo.. I- I wanna spend the rest of my life with you...”

 

Chloe felt her heart squeeze painfully. “I… Wanted that too… For a time at least. Now, I- Everything is messed up and complicated and I don’t know you anymore”

 

The dark haired boy swallowed, and nodded succinctly. “Do you… Think you’ll… Start seeing anyone else? I’m sure somebody’s got their eye on you. I mean, you’re beautiful…”

 

Chloe chuckled nervously. “I… With everything that’s going on, dating really is the last thing on my mind…”

 

Tom nodded again. “Right… Yeah, of course…”

 

They continued to look at each other for a moment more, and Chloe wondered what was going through Tom’s mind at that moment. His features were calm, his expression resigned and soft; but given the emotions he’d just described and the way he flew off the handle in The Three Broomsticks, Chloe really had no idea what was going on in his head. 

 

“I’m going to go.” she said quietly, moving to stand. “I promised Luke we’d hang out... Console him about quidditch being cancelled.”

 

Tom nodded, brushing off his robes as he stood also. “Well... have fun. I hope he’s not too down about it.” he gestured for her to lead the way inside. 

 

He walked her over to the Ravenclaw common room in an amicable, if a little uncomfortable, silence and as they reached the base of the tower, he stopped, turning to face her. “Take care of yourself Chlo... I’ll... I’ll stay out of your hair.”

 

“Take care too Tom.” Chloe replied softly, feeling a mixture of sadness and relief at the finality of the conversation. 

 

He smiled wryly at that, nodding in response before ducking into the shadows, heading back down to the Slytherin common room, leaving Chloe alone again. 

 

---

 

As she made her way into the common room, Chloe was surprised to find what appeared to be a party in full swing, music blasting and loud chatter filling the room. 

 

Looking around in dismay, Chloe saw Luke chugging a bottle of Firewhisky, being cheered on by the entire quidditch team, who were all in their full team robes. Eventually she managed to find Aubrey in amongst the chaos, a bemused expression on her face. 

 

“Bree!” she called over the noise, managing to catch the blonde’s attention. “What is going on?”

 

“Hey Chloe...” Aubrey chuckled as Chloe finally pushed her way past a group of drunk Ravenclaws to get to her. “Well... Luke told the team that the league was cancelled for the foreseeable... So they decided to just pretend they won. They’re having a victory party” 

 

Chloe laughed softly at that, because of course that is what Luke would do. 

 

“Heyyyyyy Chloe!” the redhead looked around to see Jessica stumbling towards her, giggling as she practically fell into her arms. “You made it!”

 

“I did...” Chloe nodded, very amused. “How are you feeling Jess?”

 

“Sooooo gooooood... Wow... You’re blurrrrry.” the blonde giggled, stumbling slightly. 

 

The sound of glass smashing caught all their attention, and they realised Luke had dropped his now empty bottle of firewhisky. The room silenced for a moment, all eyes on the quidditch captain. Someone tossed him a bottle of butter beer which he haphazardly caught, cracking it open with his teeth, and the room erupted with another round of cheers, the party back in full swing in an instant. 

 

Jessica stumbled her way back into the action, leaving Aubrey and Chloe alone again. 

 

“How did your talk with Tom go?”

 

Chloe looked around for a moment, this wasn’t the time or place to talk about it. Sensing her reluctance, Aubrey offered a hand. “Cmon, let’s go up to the dorm, it’ll be empty now and we can talk.”

 

The redhead followed Aubrey upstairs; the last time she was here, she was helping the blonde put a paralytic and hysterical Stacie Conrad to bed. She made a mental note to ask Aubrey what was going on with all that once she’d spoken about Tom. 

 

Climbing under the covers beside Aubrey, Chloe sighed. “He... Said he was sorry. Again.” she began softly, pulling the quilt up to her chest. “And he started telling me all about how he gets this... Anger... and he doesn’t know how to handle it...”

 

Aubrey frowned at that, a little surprised; aside from his outburst in The Three Broomsticks, Tom had always seemed rather mild mannered. “Wow… I- Well it suppose that makes sense, given what happened… Did he say what...Was causing it?”

 

Chloe shook her head. “Just that he didn’t know what to do…I didn’t really know what to say to him… Do wizards have anger management?” she chuckled humorlessly.

 

Aubrey raised an eyebrow, confused.

 

“Well...Muggles have these groups...Or.. classes I guess… Supposed to help with stuff like this. It’s called Anger Management.” Chloe explained.

 

Aubrey nodded slowly in understanding. “Sounds like something a lot of people around here could do with, to be honest...Tom… Mitchell…Merlin, even Luke sometimes” she joked, trying to lighten the mood slightly.

 

“Maybe it’s the same with muggles…” Aubrey continued. “But I bet that sort of thing is frowned upon in Tom’s family… A pride thing. They’re practically royalty, they're so pure-blood.”

 

“Maybe…” Chloe agreed softly. “I… Despite everything, I just wish I could help.”

 

“Seems like this is something Tom needs to deal with by himself, Chlo.”

 

The redhead nodded and silence fell over the pair for a moment. Remembering her earlier thought, Chloe looked up at Aubrey.

 

“So what’s going on with you and Stacie Conrad now then?”

 

“Do you think we should go back and join the party?” Aubrey countered, completely avoiding the question, her cheeks pink.

 

“Aubrey, c’mon-”

 

“I think we should.” The blonde stood up from the bed and was out of the dorm so fast Chloe could’ve sworn she’d apparated.

 

Chloe shook her head in disbelief, an amused smile on her lips. Resolving to get answers one way or another, she climbed out of bed, and followed Aubrey back towards the party.

 

---

 

Once she made it back downstairs, Chloe realised that news of the party had clearly spread throughout the castle, as she saw blurs of red, green and gold scattered amongst the blue that filled the common room.

 

She scanned the room for Aubrey, and found her with Luke and Jessica, who were both seemingly trying to force her to join them in getting drunk as the blonde laughed and shook her. Whilst she didn’t think getting hammered was necessarily a good idea, given the potentially fatal danger that could be lurking nearby; Chloe was glad to see Aubrey having fun and relaxing for once. 

 

Letting her eyes wander aimlessly, the redhead was surprised to spot Beca Mitchell sat at the edge of the room. She’d changed out of her robes and was wearing an understated outfit of black jeans and a black t shirt, clearly not wanting to be noticed, which Chloe found amusing, since she’d turned up to another house’s party uninvited.

 

It took her a second to realise when Beca looked up to meet her gaze, too long for Chloe to pretend she hadn’t just been staring. Beca patted the seat next to her with a contrite expression, and it was only then Chloe realised that she was here to see her.

 

“I thought you’d be here.” Beca said simply as Chloe approached and sat down beside the brunette, not entirely sure what to expect from this conversation.

 

Chloe frowned curiously at that. “Why?”

 

After a brief pause, Beca sighed, defeated. “I… May... Have asked...Where I might find you.” she swallowed thickly. “And I remembered you were friends with Blondie.”

 

“Aubrey” Chloe corrected instinctively, before realising that Beca had just admitted to asking other people about her.

 

“Yeah...whatever.” Beca shrugged, her pale cheeks dusted pink. “I- I wanted to talk to you.”

 

Chloe swallowed at that, even more surprised. The thought that Beca Mitchell wanted to talk to anyone , let alone her, was shocking; aside from the Slytherin quidditch team, and their few brief encounters, Chloe had never seen Beca willingly talk to anyone.

 

“Um… Why?” the redhead managed to get out. She wanted to ask why Beca had left her alone the previous night, why she had run away and what it all meant, but she couldn’t quite get her voice to work properly.

 

Beca opened her mouth to speak, but stopped herself. Frustrated, she sighed. “I’m not good at this… Talking...I- I don’t- I don’t feel comfortable with it.” she grumbled, staring at her lap the entire time.

 

“Okay…” Chloe replied softly, still a little confused as to what this was all about.

 

“But I- I want to… Talk. To you.” Beca continued after a pause. She looked up, glancing around the common room at all of the rowdy students, grimacing at the amount of people. “This is a lot… For me.”

 

Chloe watched Beca, finding the sincerity behind the very clear discomfort in her eyes. “What makes you feel comfortable?” she asked softly, instinctively leaning closer to the brunette, close enough that she feel Beca’s shallow breath against her face.

 

Beca looked into Chloe’s bright blue eyes for a moment. “Will you come with me?”

 

“Where?”

 

“I’m gonna take you where I feel comfortable.”




Chapter Text

Chloe wasn’t entirely surprised when Beca led the way down to the quidditch pitch; up in the air where you didn’t have to talk to, or be near, anyone definitely seemed like Beca’s cup of tea.

 

Though they weren’t supposed to be there, Beca’s status as captain allowed her access to the broom store out of hours, and she retrieved her own firebolt and a spare broom for Chloe.

 

“You know how to fly, right?’ Beca asked brusquely, holding the broom out in front of her as if to keep Chloe at a distance, following their close proximity in the common room.

 

Chloe couldn’t figure Beca out, she went from being distant and moody to caring and sweet within seconds, with seemingly no trigger for her mood swings. She knew she didn’t actually know the brunette very well, at all in fact, but she couldn’t help but feel drawn to her, finding herself wanting to be close to Beca in spite of how upset she had made her the previous night.

 

“I can fly. Just not very well.” Chloe replied softly, taking the broom from Beca and following her out onto the pitch.

 

Beca flew off almost immediately, leaving Chloe a little disorientated until she spotted her again, hovering about 50ft over the centre of the pitch, clearly waiting for her. Chloe mounted her broom and managed to follow Beca up, feeling a little unsteady. She hovered just opposite the brunette, watching her as well as she could whilst almost trying to keep herself stable.

 

“I won’t let you fall.” Beca said softly, barely audible over the soft wind.

 

“I really hope not.” Chloe chuckled nervously, trying not to look down at the 50ft drop below.

 

“It’s peaceful up here… Don’t you think?” Beca asked, looking considerably more relaxed on the broom than Chloe, sitting up and back to watch the redhead. ‘It clears my head… Lets me think clearly.”

 

“When you’re not thinking about falling to your death, yeah, I’m sure it could be.” Chloe chuckled nervously, trying really hard not to look at the ground.

 

“I don’t think about falling to my death.” Beca smirked.   Does she really think she’s gonna fall? Adorable.

 

“ What do you think about then?” Chloe replied softly, genuinely interested, still trying to figure the brunette out.

 

Beca was silent for a moment, wondering if she could trust Chloe, wanting to trust her. “I wanted to apologise for last night. I shouldn’t have left you when you were upset.” 

 

Chloe swallowed softly at that. “Right… I-”

 

“No let me-” Beca interrupted, holding a hand up. “This is… hard... for me.” she blew out a deep breath. “Do you remember when we met, on the train?”

 

Chloe nodded silently.

 

“You stopped me from punching that kid...and you asked me why I didn’t just hex him.” Beca continued, stalling a little before she got to the difficult part of the conversation. Whilst she wanted to open up to Chloe, it didn’t come naturally to her and she had a lingering fear that the redhead would judge her.

 

Get it together Beca!

 

“I told you I didn’t like magic.” Beca blew out a deep breath, looking over Chloe’s head at the evening sky, knowing she would get too emotional if she made direct eye contact. “My mom… she was a muggle but when she found out I was a witch she was… so… awesome about it. My dad not so much. He thought I was… wrong and unnatural… I mean, he was never the best dad before that, but he went from tolerating me to… just… hating me.”

 

Chloe frowned adorably at that, trying to picture an eleven year old Beca discovering her magic for the first time. Even imagining teenage Beca, it was hard for Chloe to understand how anyone could hate the brunette; she was so small and adorable that she looked cute even when she was trying to look menacing. 

 

“Him and my mom started to fight a lot… about me. She was always creative and when it was just the two of us, she would always encourage me to test out my abilities.” Beca swallowed, inhaling deeply. 

 

“That made my dad really… really mad… He figured if they pretend magic didn’t exist.. They could just forget all about it… That i’d lose my ability or whatever.” 

 

Chloe nodded along, not entirely sure where Beca’s story was going, but the fact that she kept referring to her mother in the past tense hadn’t gone unnoticed and the redhead felt a little uneasy about it.

 

“We were driving when… They started fighting again and my mom was driving to defend me and my dad just would stop… yelling.” Beca gritted her teeth, clearly getting upset. “I still don’t really know what happened… But… the car just… exploded… I… made it…”

 

Chloe’s chest tightened almost painfully and she instinctively maneuvered her broom a little closer to the brunette, having a really unpleasant feeling about what Beca was going to say next.

 

“The official report said ‘engine failure’... But I know it was me. My dad and I both just got some minor scratches and burns but my mom… she… didn’t make it. There was nothing I could do…”

 

Beca blew out a deep breath, wiping her face quickly, though Chloe could see that her eyes were wet. She tentatively moved closer to the brunette, not wanting to do the wrong thing and spook her, or do anything that would cause her to close up again. She felt so honoured that Beca would share something so deeply personal with her, especially since she had a feeling that she was the first person Beca had shared this with.

 

‘Beca…” Chloe breathed softly, not knowing what to do or say, but wanting to make it known that she was there for the brunette.

 

“Afterwards… I was just… a mess. I cried every day, right up until my dad shipped me off here, telling me he never wanted to see me again.” Beca chuckled sardonically. “When I was on the train, I decided right there that I wasn’t gonna let anyone see me cry, especially not that bastard… Now… Crying just makes me feel uncomfortable. That’s… that’s why I left. It just… reminded me of my mom, and how I felt and-”

 

“Beca, stop. You don’t have to explain any more. It’s okay.” Chloe said softly, her voice quiet and soothing. “I… I’m not gonna pretend to even… come close to understanding how that must have felt… but… thank you, for telling me.”

 

Beca nodded, looking pretty tense again. She’d just told Chloe that she’d vowed never to cry in front of anyone again, and here she was, nearly in tears in front of Chloe for a second time. 

 

Get a fucking grip Beca.

 

Chloe could see how uncomfortable Beca was, and was desperately trying to think of a way to ease the tension in the air. Seemingly out of nowhere, she blurted out. “Wanna teach me how to play?”

 

“What?”

 

“Quidditch I mean. I like to watch, but I’ve never played.” Chloe followed up hurriedly. “You could teach me?” she suggested hopefully.

 

Chloe hoped that the physical pursuit of playing would distract Beca’s mind from the tragic story she’d just described to her, and that teaching what was clearly her passion to Chloe might actually be fun for the brunette, giving her a small sense of purpose, if only for a moment.

 

“Teach you?” Beca replied slowly, watching Chloe as if she was trying to figure out whether the redhead was teasing her, or on the flipside, flirting with her.

 

“Yeah... It could be fun.” Chloe replied with wide, earnest eyes.

 

“Okay...Um.. Stay there then.” Beca said bluntly, though she hadn’t intended for it to come out that way, her mind was just going at 100 miles per hour. She looped around Chloe and flew back down towards the broom shed to get some practice balls for them, trying to keep her thoughts in check.

 

She’s just being friendly, she seems like that kind of person.

 

She just broke up with that Tom guy, she probably doesn’t wanna date anyone.

 

She’s probably not even into girls, especially not you. Not after what you just told her.

 

She probably thinks you’re a freak.

 

You killed your fucking mom for Christ’s sake.

 

But she hasn’t left yet.

 

It was that thought that gave Beca the confidence to return Chloe, a quaffle tucked securely under her right arm as she flew back to where the redhead was waiting diligently. 

 

“So… you know what this is right?” Beca asked, holding out the quaffle with one hand for Chloe to see.

 

“Yeah, that one’s the quaffle!” Chloe replied enthusiastically. ‘That’s how you score goals!”

 

Beca chuckled softly at Chloe’s enthusiasm, deciding that the redhead genuinely was excited. “Right, exactly… You wanna try catching it?”

 

Chloe steadied herself on the broom, squeezing her legs together as hard as she could to try and ensure she wasn't going to fall off. Whilst she trusted Beca, and believed her when she said she wouldn’t let her fall, accidents happen, and Chloe was damn sure she wasn’t going out by falling off a broom.

 

When the redhead didn’t respond right away, Beca continued. “Try kind of… catching it and tucking it into your side, with one hand. Keep one hand on the broom so you don’t fall.”

 

Taking a deep breath, and trying not to picture her life flashing before her eyes, Chloe nodded, raising one hand up ready to attempt to catch. Beca tossed the ball gently and Chloe was surprised at the ease with which she caught it, easily tucking in under her arm.

 

“Hey, you’re a natural… Are you sure you’ve never played before?” Beca teased, an eyebrow raised sceptically. “Throw it back to me now. Go long!” she added, putting on a deep ‘bro’ voice which had Chloe in stitches.

 

“Uh… Sure thing man.” Chloe matched Beca’s voice as she threw the ball as far away as she could, watching in awe as Beca sped off after it. She gasped softly when she realised that Beca was letting the ball fall as close to the ground as it would go before she caught it, clearly wanting to show off her speedy broom and her superior flying skills.

 

Her awe was short-lived as she realised the quaffle was hurtling back towards her at terrifying speed; she’d been too focused on Beca to notice her actually throwing the ball at her. “Shit!” she exclaimed, throwing both arms over her face instinctively, her entire body tensing up as she braced for impact.

 

It only took Beca a second to realise that Chloe wasn’t going to catch the ball, and she was already speeding after it before Chloe even realised it was coming her way. She managed to swoop in front of the redhead and catch it before it hit her square in the face. “Chloe. It’s okay.” Beca giggled softly. “You can  come out now.”

 

Chloe peeked out from behind her fingers, seeing Beca grinning like the cat who got the cream, idly tossing the quaffle from hand to hand. She dropped her arms from her face and took a hold of the broom again, steadying herself. 

 

“You can barely let go of the broom with one hand to catch the ball when I’m 6ft away from you, but the second your face is in jeopardy you go hands free?” Beca chuckled incredulously.

 

Chloe just laughed, adrenaline fueled relief running through her still. “It’s the only face I’ve got, I’ve got to protect my assets, don’t I?” she teased, flying a little closing to Beca now she was certain she wouldn’t fall.

 

“Well…. It’s a good one.” Beca replied, her voice thick. “Your face, I mean. It’s good- Nice. Like...you look… Good.” she stammered out, her cheeks visibly bright red even in the twilight.

 

Chloe smiled at that, finding Beca’s blush endearing, though she wasn’t entirely sure of the reason behind it. Is she trying to… flirt with me?

 

“You’re not so bad yourself Mitchell.” Chloe smirked, seeing no harm in entertaining Beca’s compliment, wanting to see where all of this led; she’d definitely be lying if she said she didn’t at least have a little crush on Beca, and the revelation that the brunette might feel the same way had Chloe’s stomach doing somersaults. 

 

“Beca.” The brunette corrected, her voice softer now. “I think we’re clearly on a first name basis now.” she whispered, not breaking eye contact with the redhead as she flew even closer slowly.

 

“Well, Beca...” Chloe repeated, correcting herself as she settled her broom so it was adjacent to Beca’s, their faces so close that Chloe could feel Beca’s breath on her skin. “You have a very nice face-”

 

“Your eyes are so fucking blue…” Beca interrupted softly, gazing at Chloe, completely captivated; all she wanted to do was lean in and kiss the redhead.

 

Don’t fuck this up Beca!

 

“Yeah…’ Chloe whispered, not even realising she was leaning in until Beca’s lips were on hers, and hers on Beca’s, and holy shit Beca Mitchell just kissed me!

 

Chloe reached up with one hand to cup Beca’s cheek, wanting to show her that this was okay, that she wanted this. She smiled into the kiss when Beca mirrored her, cupping her cheek. 

 

The kiss was soft, and sweet and Chloe suddenly understood why Beca loved flying so much because she was soaring right now and she never wanted it to end. 

 

It was Beca that was the first to pull away, needing to catch her breath and not wanting to push too far, too fast. She chuckled nervously, her cheeks pink as she tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, straightening up on her broom.

 

“Well that…” Chloe smiled breathlessly. “Is definitely better than quidditch.”

 

Beca laughed loudly at that, the sound ringing out across the empty stadium. “Hmmm… I don’t know about that…” she teased, dodging the elbow that Chloe threw her, giggling the entire time.

 

“Why don’t you let me try and change your mind?” Chloe suggested, pulling Beca in again by the front of her t -shirt.

 

“Who am I to say no to a prefect, huh?” Beca replied, already leaning in for a second kiss, which Chloe readily received.

 

---

 

Fifty feet below, a clenched fist smashed through the glass butterbeer bottle it was holding, and a shadowed figure unseen by the girls skulked back into the darkness.