Chapter 13

Believe Me

After the beginning of term Feast, after settling back into school life, after a summer of freedom, lessons started again. For once in her life Aiko found a reason to like the classes: they gave her ammo. Transfiguration had been a bore, the lesson painfully simple. But the results she liked.

Passing through the hall she kept her steps silent and ducked her head, willing herself to be ignored. It was her experience that if she acted as small as she could, she would be treated as if she didn’t exist, which was perfect.

Her hands were hidden beneath the extra long sleeves of her black robes. Clutched in one of her fists was a snake. In every way it looked alive, craning its small neck to try to dig its sharp fangs into her wrist. Even if she was too slow to get her fingers out of the way, the snake was spelled to leave no more than bruises. But the hard surface assured her that it was still very much stone, just given a new shape by a transfiguration spell.

As she passed by the talking boys she could not prevent a smirk. Her hand darted into Berke’s bag as quick and silently as she could manage. But when it left…it was empty. The snake had been planted neatly into the boy’s bag, a little surprise for him.

As quickly as she had come she darted away to find a seat at her own table. She would watch him now…what fun was revenge if she was not around to see it carried through?

Oblivious to the snake in his bag, Avery hoisted it onto his shoulder and shrugged. “I’ve gotta go do my evil Arithmancy homework… Ya know, I never should have signed up for that class.” It was pathetic, really. He was good with numbers, yes, but the lessons took up entirely too much time.

And after Arithmancy, lots more fun work to do. Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Charms would take the longest, then there was Ancient Runes and Potions. It was wonderful to be back at school, it really was. After a nice, long, work and Agatha free summer…

“So, talk to you later,” he muttered to Brian, standing up and weaving his way through the mass of firsties on his way to his Common Room. ”Blasted firsties. How does Megan keep from hexing all of them?”

And suddenly, standing in front of him, right in front of him so that he could not miss her, was Agatha Swales. He was forced to a standstill. Agatha looked at the bird brain and a small smile played round her lips in a cold manner.

“In a hurry Berke?” she asked, staring straight at him with her wicked almond eyes.

He sighed. Agatha Swales. She had once again managed to pop up when he least needed her sarcasm and criticism.

He wanted to hex her. Turn her hair a nice shade of orange or green. Puke green? Or perhaps just punch her and deny ever assaulting her. Though he did not do anything the first time, he had managed to get off the hook. Why would it not work again?

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am,” he said smiling, his hands pinned at his side. As much as he wanted to hex her evilness, he thought it best not to.

“So, Agatha, what brings you down to this level? I thought it was against your nature to converse with a Mudblood.”

“Who said anything about conversing?” Agatha said sarcastically. “I thought it was somewhat beneath your capabilities Berke. I thought you usually just hit people and ran away.”

Agatha was still smarting inwardly from the trauma she had suffered at the hands of Berke and was in no mood to let him forget it.

She stood there very close to him. She felt an urge to do something vile to him right there in the middle of the Hall. And she very nearly did. Agatha had never cared about house points or anything as trivial as that. But at that moment she saw, striking up out of his bag, the beautiful slimy head of a snake. Its tongue glittered as it flickered out.

Avery hated snakes. Aiko had told her of this in a moment of hatred against the Berke boy for injuries inflicted upon her. Really he was quite wild, hurting girls at will.

So Agatha just smiled and idly flicked her wand at Avery’s bag. His Arithmancy book flew out and scattered the papers on the floor.

“Oops, how careless of me,” Agatha said sweetly.

The Berke would have to pick them up and put them in his bag. The Berke would put his hand on a snake. How…how perfect.

“And what, pray tell, was that for?” Avery asked, setting his bag on the floor and kneeling down. “Just trying to be malicious?”

Most likely, he thought as he was collecting the scattered papers. Was Agatha Swales better at anything else?

Yes, she was quite accurate in her lessons and everything else she did was perfect, but she seemed to be most in her element when annoying Avery, perhaps to see him self-destruct?

“Did I even have to ask that question?” He finished, disgusted.

The papers, before they fell out of his bag, were by no means organized. And they would remain that way as he was in no fit state to organize them. He would later, when in need of the previous week’s homework for reference. But that would come later, in his dorm, when he was away from Agatha.

Taking the last of the papers, Avery shoved them roughly into his bag, feeling something rather slimy squirming around inside.

“What on earth?” He asked, opening the bag further to get a better look inside. But the bag was too small, the light in the hall too dim. Sighing, he reached in to pull the thing out, but gasped as it latched onto his finger.

He tore his hand from his bag, his eyes widening at the site of a snake hanging from his finger. A snake of all things.

“Ah!” he shouted, flinging the horrid creature from his finger. Blech!

Then he looked at his finger…two holes had formed…not a deep ones, mind you, but if the snake was poisonous…

“How could you?” he asked Agatha softly, assuming her to have been the one to plant the snake in his bag. Not that snakes were the worst things in the world. He could deal with the snake. But the fact that Agatha was cruel enough to stoop that low. Planting a snake—the thing he feared the most—in his bag…

“Now I’m off to the Wing.” Sighing, he turned around and left the Hall, on his way to the Wing.

But on the way, his finger healed, a simple bruise left where the bite had been.

Agatha laughed at his discomfort. Really he looked so stupid screaming and flailing his arms with a snake attached to his finger.

Yet as he hurriedly stuffed papers in his bag she caught a glimpse of a black mark forming on his hand.

She wanted him to suffer—certainly—yet if he had truly been bitten, Agatha knew enough about snakes to know that the type was venomous. Despite its small size its bite could be fatal.

Trying hard not to look even vaguely concerned she hurriedly caught up with him, her long beige Choo boots making tiny noises on the stone floor.

“Did it bite you?” she asked, her eyes flashing concern even though her voice remained cold.

“Why do you insist on annoying me?” he asked, dropping his bag so as to avoid any more snakes lingering therein. “Come to plant another snake in my bag?”

He was tiring quickly of her—that is not to say that he had ever been able to tolerate her or that he ever would be able to. She was just being more annoying than usual. “And yes I was bitten you idiot!” he exclaimed, rolling his eyes. “Why else would I be going to the Wing?”

Sighing at her stupidity, he turned and headed for the Wing, leaving his snake-infested bag behind. Seriously, could she be any more malicious?

Agatha was enraged by this comment. To think that for a moment that she had actually stooped so low as to be concerned about the Gryffindor freak.

He would not be allowed to walk away from her in such a manner. Such rudeness would not be tolerated.

She spun his arm round and held back a strong temptation to smack him round the face. That would be most undignified and unladylike.

And yet…

None too gently she grabbed his wrist and caught hold of his hand in hers. If he truly had been bitten the poison would have spread too far even in the few seconds it took to reach the wing.

Yet what should Agatha Swales care if he died? Perhaps the world would be a more bearable place without his presence, which infuriated her so much.

“Let me see!” she instructed in a tone that brooked no refusal.

She held his hand in hers. It was much larger and rougher than her own. She turned it over, waiting with a mixture of horror and anticipation to see the telltale mark of the serpent.

But…there was nothing. No mark, no sign, no blemish on his skin.

She looked at him in puzzlement for half a second then swiftly let go of his hand.

“Oh very funny Berke. Yes, really witty. You are a natural born liar, really, aren’t you?” she asked, her voice cutting and chill. “You have no more been bitten than I have!” she said.

She could not stand this anymore.

She hated him. She really, really hated him. More than she believed she had ever hated anybody ever before.

Avery retracted his hand and wiped it on his robe. “You’re pitiful. I was bitten, for your information. I guess it just healed.”

He was sick of her, completely sick of her sarcasm and ridicule. Perhaps he should assault her or, better yet, kill her with a large knife. Feed her to a chimera even.

Then he got to thinking about the malice intent behind the childish prank.

“You are incredible! I guess you thought it was funny, planting that snake in my bag. Maybe you could get rid of me?”

He was certain it was her, as she was the only one around him at the time. But then again she did not seem the type to pull such a childish prank. Even Agatha, in all of her evil glory, did not hate him enough to sick a venomous snake on him.

A venomous snake that, evidentially, was not so venomous.

“So, why’d you do it?” he asked, shoving his injured hand into his jeans’ pocket.

“Me?” she said incredulously, “Me? You think that I put a snake in your bag? How utterly and completely ludicrous. As if I would ever do such an immature and pathetic thing. Well, I suppose it is the sort of thing which you would do, so you suppose us all to be on your pathetically low level.”

Agatha tossed her blonde head haughtily.

“And as for being bitten and healing. It’s a made up story. You tell tales Berke. You lie. Or I suppose you would have me believe you have a sudden and amazing natural condition whereby you are completely immune to snake bites.”

Agatha’s eyes flashed and she looked at Berke as if she wished he would crawl back into whichever bird’s nest he fell out of.

He was very near her. Very near. Her fingers itched for her wand. Or something else.

“Who then, pray tell, placed such a horrid thing in my bag?” he asked, moving closer to the evil girl. He was at least five inches taller than her so he had to strain to look at her. Maybe he should have stepped back, but he did not exactly want to. He liked towering over her, his large form casting shadows onto her smaller one. Perhaps there was more to it, but most likely that was it.

“I doubt anyone would have been quick enough to slip the snake in my bag… You were the only one with the opportunity.”

It was true, yes, but magic, such as a relocating spell, could have been used. Yet after the assault episode…

“And how can I be sure you aren’t to blame? I mean, you did do something to me to make me fall madly in love with you. And, come to think of it, I’d like to know what.”

“Me?” she said again, but this time all wide eyed innocence. “It’s not my fault you can’t resist me, is it Berke? Admit it Berke,” she said, daring him, provoking him, wondering simultaneously where on earth this was leading and why she was playing such a dangerous game. “You know you love me, really.”

Agatha looked up at him with her insolent almond green eyes, telling herself desperately that somehow this was permissible behavior. That clearly she was tormenting a Gryffindor. Therefore all must be well.

She did not drop her gaze first.

It was pathetic, really. She was actually making the assumption that she loved him? That he wasn’t under the influence of a potion?

Ridiculous, Avery thought.

But how could Avery be sure it had been, in fact, a potion? It certainly seemed to be one. Everything seemed to fit, the loss of reality, the sickening feeling he got afterward.

They were dangerously close together now. Too close. Closer that anyone would think they would ever get. One would assume death to befall one of them before they would ever stand that close.

“How could I love you of my own free will?” he asked his voice barely above a whisper. “Even if I did, you would never allow it. And if I was ever dumb enough to act on my feelings, you would most certainly do something to discourage me.” He shook his head slowly and backed away from her. “I know you’d never love me, no matter what.”

Agatha felt like she could not breathe. Something inside her was being pulled tight and tighter. Why was he whispering? She had been joking right? Couldn’t he tell? Had she not said it right? Why was he so serious? Why were his dark eyes looking at her like that?

The pain was not imagined but real and physical. Agatha held her side, incased in a beautiful Armani cashmere jumper.

It took every bit of her strength. It felt as if she had to somehow force herself away and force herself to say what she had to say. She owed it to her family, to her whole network of beliefs.

“You are a filthy mudblood,” said Agatha faintly. “Keep away from me Berke. You can look, but you certainly can’t touch.”

She turned away. It had lacked any sort of conviction. But at least it was said.

Avery’s thoughts rebelled. Touch? Touch that thing? That thing that thought heritage made her better than everyone else?

It was laughable. Why would he want to touch? Or look for that matter? She would never give him the time of day, so why bother? He was a mudblood, unworthy of Agatha’s time and attention. Too filthy to breathe the same air as her Most Perfectness.

“Why would I want to touch?” he asked, placing a hand on her shoulder.

He had touched her? Of his own free will? Avery Berke actually touched Agatha without being threatened to do so?

He retracted his hand quickly and continued. “Or even look, for that matter? Not like it would get me anywhere. You think you’re too good for such filth.”

He sighed and turned around, walking slowly away from Agatha.

Why did he care so much why she despised him? Perhaps it was a need to no longer be rejected, a need to prove himself to Agatha. But they had been open and avowed enemies since day one, so why would he care?

But he did…care.

Agatha hesitated. For a second she stood. Undecided. Most unlike Agatha Swales. Her certainty was normally one of her mainstays. She always knew what to do, what was right. She was nothing if not decided.

Yet as she turned over the alternatives in her mind, none of them satisfied her whatsoever. To do, or not to do. That was, most clichéd, the question.

Swiftly, with a flick of her hair she put her head in the air and walked swiftly past him.

“Follow me,” she said as she passed and without looking at him walked past him and out of the hall.

He followed.

He followed her because she had said to. He had no reason to, nor, when in his right mind, would he ever have wanted to. But he followed her without as much as a word.

He did not know where she was taking him, nor did he care. He just followed like a zombie follows its master.

He followed, silently, most likely causing all to turn and look at him for his serious lack of judgment.

He followed, for some reason feeling compelled to do so.

Agatha opened a small side door leading out from the castle and slipped outside. It was cold out and she shivered in her small cashmere jumper, short skirt and long beige boots, wishing she had gone to the common room first to take her enormous, white fur coat.

She thought he would come. She felt quite certain in herself. Yet there was an element of doubt and uncertainty. Agatha hugged her arms to her body and stamped one small boot clad foot on the hard and frosty ground.

She tucked a strand of short white blonde hair behind her ear and moved closer to the protective solidity of the looming castle wall.

He came. He did not know why, but he did.

He opened the door leading out to the grounds and was surprised to find Agatha standing right there, as if waiting for him.

He did not have a jacket on and was freezing. Luckily his jeans were somewhat warm. Not much, but somewhat.

A large smile was plastered onto his face for some reason unbeknownst to him. But it was there, most likely to scare Agatha half to death. Perhaps she would think he would assault her if he looked deranged?

He wiped away the smile and sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“I’m here.”

It was odd. Agatha shivered and not just with the cold. The last time the two had been outside alone, Avery had, that is she had, well things had happened and Agatha had ended up with ripped clothes and blooded knees.

It was not the best of memories.

She looked at him. He looked rather uncertain. Unsure and slightly nervous and Agatha gained momentum and confidence from this. “So why did you come Berke?” she asked sarcastically, feeling more at home with this sort of exchange, “I call and you follow is that the way it is?”

“Don’t start with me.” He muttered, shaking his head. “What do you want?”

He had a feeling where things would lead. Nothing would change. They would be at each other’s throats for the whole of the conversation.

He had expected things to be slightly different. She had actually seemed civil for a moment.

Was Avery dumb enough to think she could ever be civil?

“What do you want?” he repeated, slightly peeved. “You wanted to talk to me out here for some reason, and I’m here.”

He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep some of the wind off his semi-bare skin.

Agatha took her arms from round her body and the wind whipped her perfect hair. She placed her hands on her hips and glared at him.

“I could very well ask you the same question Berke,” she said angrily. “I had no desire to make a ridiculous and unseemly display in the midst of the Great Hall. You…you…are behaving oddly,” she almost shouted at him and it was rare, very rare for Agatha to lose her cool, calm exterior.

“What is it with you Berke?”

“And how am I behaving oddly?” He asked, cocking his head to one side. “I’m not the one dragging someone onto the grounds to talk to them about something that surely could have been said in the nice, warm castle.”

He sighed, shook his head, and began pacing to keep warmer. Ignoring her question, he once more asked, “So, again I ask, what do you want?”

“You,” she said.

“Me?” he asked, his attention turning from the student dodging the flailing branches of the Whomping Willow to Agatha. “What? Could you elaborate on that?”

Me? Oh! She must mean she wants to tie me up and then cut off my head. I got it now.

“No, I certainly could not,” she said coldly. Her moods seemed to be altering dramatically second by second.

She pulled her jumper more closely around her and looked at him, straight in the eyes. “It was a ridiculous thing to say and I apologize,” she said slowly and very, very quietly, so quietly he had to bend to hear. “Fear not I shall never say it again.”

She moved away from him and opened the internal door back to the castle, head held high.

Avery cocked his head to one side, quite confused by her sudden change in attitude. For a moment, she had been…oh, what’s the word?

Nice?

Odd sensation, the feeling of a Swales being nice to you.

Then she turned back into her old self… As if she were under a spell or something to influence her to become…nice.

“Wait!” he said, jogging over to her and placing his hand on her shoulder. “Tell me. What did you mean?”

Like she’d tell him… But it was worth a try.

“Oh go play on an Apparation pitch Berke,” Agatha said. “You don’t get anything do you,” she added recklessly and banged the door closed behind her.

“What on earth?” he asked himself, opening the door quickly and chasing after Agatha. The one time he actually wanted to have a civil conversation with her, she went and had a hissy fit.

She would not talk to him, even if it was to insult him. That was surprising.

“Agatha…” he muttered once he caught up with her. “I might, if you’d explain this stuff to me!”

It was pitiful. They were both acting odd, then they started acting differently, but still oddly.

“You’re being very confusing right now and I’m trying to understand why. So, would you give me that courtesy?”

Agatha sat down on a most convenient bench, which just so happened to be placed at the side of the corridor. She put her golden head in her hands.

“You’re a muggle,” she said slowly. “You are just a muggle.”

An odd comment perhaps and not at all what she had been asked, but it was precisely what she was thinking at that moment in time.

And at least she had not said “mudblood.” A small improvement.

Avery sat down next to her on the conveniently located bench, glad that she finally decided to be nice enough to talk with him.

“I’m not a muggle. I’m a wizard. Muggle-born, yes, but…” He sighed, not entirely sure where that random comment of hers came from. But perhaps it fit into her explanation somewhere, so he responded as if it was a justified comment.

What was she getting at? She had said she wanted him (whatever that meant) then she was going on about his heritage?

Odd...

“Exactly,” Agatha said, “muggle born. Do you have idea…no of course you don’t how could you…how, how impossible that is.”

She probably was not making a great deal of sense to Avery, though it was painfully clear in her own mind.

She was very aware of his presence next to her. He was very, very close to her. She felt his breath moving his body ever so slightly.

Agatha was making no sense to Avery. Maybe she understood what she was saying, but he was completely and utterly lost.

“Nope. Clueless…” he mumbled, shrugging and accidentally bumping his shoulder against hers. “Oh, sorry ’bout that…”

He sighed and rested his elbows on his knees, looking at her. “Could you try again? Please?”

She looked at him, her oval green eyes for once lacking their insolent touch. Instead she looked young, much younger than her smart and worldly self.

“I can’t explain. I’m sorry. I just can’t,” she said sadly. “Look this is stupid, I mean really stupid,” she said gaining a bit of her old quick talking banter back.

“Forget it, this never happened. I will deny it, so don’t even try to mention it, Berke.”

She stood up.

“Mention what?” he asked, deciding against asking for a complete explanation for her odd behavior.

He was curious, yes, but it was best not to pry. She was actually being nice to him, for once.

He stood to his feet, still trying to process the confusing information, when he kissed her. It was a short kiss, lasting only for a second or two before he pulled back his head, his eyes growing wide.

“Whoa… I didn’t, did I? I mean, Donal, and you and me and Donal and muggles and…” He continued rambling on and on about random things, trying to convince himself that he had not kissed her. That it was just a dream. That Donal would not kill him later on…

Agatha smiled. A rare event and it suited her. The disdainful haughty expression left her face.

“Oh do shut up, Berke,” she said and putting her hand out she pulled him to her and kissed him back, much more and much harder.

“Come with me,” she breathed, feeling his warm breath brush against the top of her head.

Once more, like one possessed, he followed.

Agatha pushed open the door to the library very slowly and took a peek inside. It was quiet, a few students working alone in various corners and a group of firsties whispering over a pile of books in the centre of the room.

She turned to Avery.

“Oh this is so ridiculous,” she hissed. “Okay, I’ll go first, you can follow in a few minutes. Meet you,” she said, her stealthy mind working over.

“Meet you in Arithmancy,” she nodded and more confidently pushed open the doorway, gave a haughty look around and walked purposefully towards the back of the library round the side Arithmancy aisle near the restricted section where few had reason to be.

She shook out her blonde hair and wished she had her compact on her. Outdoors was, in Agatha’s eyes, a rather disagreeable place to be. It had a vile habit of messing up one’s hair and clothes.

She tried, in the few moments peace she had to herself to reason out what she was doing and why. Yet she could find no reasonable motive for her behavior.

What would her parents say? What would Donal say? These were questions at which she blanched, so she tried to push them, temporarily, to the back of her mind.

Yet she had fought this ridiculous obsession for long enough. Perhaps if she gave it free reign she would be free of it. Free of him. And after all it was what she wanted. And Agatha Swales always got what she wanted.

Avery nodded and stepped back into the hall. He would meet her in a few minutes. Until then he would try to clear his head of all of the confused thoughts floating around.

She was a pureblood Slytherin who had a boyfriend. So she had no reason to fall for Avery.

If things started getting too odd he would have to force himself to back away so as to avoid complete humiliation. But it would be difficult. He might actually like Agatha.

But that was impossible. He was a mudblood. A mudblood with enough brains to know that Agatha Swales, a Slytherin Pureblood, would never give him the time of day, simply because he was not as good as her.

But maybe she was turning human, setting aside the old preconceived notions that blood made someone better than someone else.

Agatha Swales not think herself better than everyone else?

It was impossible.

Preparing himself to face Agatha’s ridicule for even thinking of her in such a way, Avery stood up and entered the library, looking around for a minute before proceeding to the Arithmancy section where Agatha sat waiting.

After searching for a moment, he found her, sitting on the ground, looking about as miserable as he felt.

“Ah, yes, hello,” she said coming out of her reverie and greeting him in a rather reserved manner.

She motioned him to sit next to her on the floor. (Although clearly Agatha Swales was not indeed sitting on the floor but on a rather attractive red plush cushion. Sitting on the floor, such a notion. It may be good enough for the likes of Avery Berke but not for her, Agatha Swales.)

“What do you suggest we do about this…situation, we…er… find ourselves in now?” she asked him diplomatically and oddly formally, considering what had just, but a few moments before, passed between them.

He sat down and rested his head on his knees, trying to avoid Agatha’s gaze.

“I’m still at a loss to figure out how we got ourselves into this situation.” He muttered, shrugging.

“What do you think?” He said, turning to look at her. “You’re the one who has everything to lose in this. You are, after all, a Pureblood. Merlin forbid you be seen with me, a mudblood.”

“So.” He said, taking a deep breath. “You’re the one who has to decide. I’ve already made up my mind.” The end bit was whispered, though Aggie, only a few inches away, most certainly heard.

“Yes,” she said in a long drawn out sigh, never even considering that he could have actually meant that he had made up his mind not to want her. The way that he said it and the way that he looked at her with large brown puppy dog eyes, it did not need further clarification.

He wanted her. Well, of course he wanted her, and frankly who would not want her? She was not perfect, naturally, yet she believed one must always strive for perfection, and she thought she was probably pretty close.

But it was also true. He was a mudblood. Agatha closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She had already made a decision and there was no going back. She just had to be strong, hold her head high and see it out.

Perhaps once she had the thing she wanted, she would not want it anymore. It often happened that way in the past and expensive toys, once craved and then forgotten, had littered her nursery when younger.

And she was also very aware of him next to her. Aware that if she turned her head he would be there, right by her. That she could kiss him if and any time she chose.

She turned her head and looked at him with her wicked green eyes.

“I am prepared to overlook that,” she said. “Does that help you any?” A small smile, half genuine smile and half insolent smirk was on her face and she looked at him, daring him what to do next.

“Prepared to overlook that? My imperfections you mean?”

He was confused, as anyone in his position would be. About as confused as Agatha, most likely. She seemed to be warring with herself, half wanting Avery, but half wanting to kill him to rid herself of him.

“Whatever.” He muttered, ignoring her evil smirk and hoping she would stop messing with him.

“So, honestly, is this going anywhere?”

“I honestly think I may kill you in a moment if you don’t stop with this,” she hissed in exasperation, the smile gone from her face. “You must waste a good percentage of your life dithering about. I must change that,” she said half to him half to herself,” although in reality it was far from the only thing about him which Agatha planned to change.

“I do not wish for a boy who can’t stand up for himself,” she said and stood up delicately smoothing down her tiny beige skirt and pulling up her long boots.

“So what’s it to be Berke?” she asked hand on her hips. “Man or mouse? In or out?”

She was mocking him. Plain and simple.

And she managed to stay very consistent in attitude throughout the whole ordeal.

“I would think,” he began, standing up, “that you would be equally as confused as me. But you manage to maintain your dignity. Odd.”

Now just to prove he was a man. How she thought him to be a mouse was beyond him, but…

“Just what do you expect from me? Though I’m sure with enough time around you I will eventually live up to your standards.”

“Fine,” she said haughtily, tucking a stray white blonde hair behind her ears.

“Mouse it is then. Bye bye, Berke. Have a nice life bird-brain.”

She turned and started to walk elegantly back towards main part of the library.

She turned just once.

“Satisfied are we now?” she asked.

”So, I take it you don’t care to listen? Just assuming that I’m a mouse? Fine then. I guess you don’t care.” He stopped walking towards her and shook his head.

“I’ll never be good enough, will I?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “You’ll always think of me as little Avie-pie or Bird-Brain, won’t you? Won’t you?” He smiled slightly, awaiting her response, almost entirely sure of what she’d say.

“Maybe you should go back to Donal. I don’t matter enough, I can see that much.”

But instead her response was utterly uncharacteristic and entirely unexpected. It almost seemed as if Agatha Swales had a split personality that day. Or she was very confused. Or she was playing games. Or all three.

“Sorry, Avery,” she said and, for perhaps the first time ever, used his full name. She walked back to him where he had stopped uncertainly.

“I am a most frightful beast today aren’t I? What can I say?” she asked and instead didn’t say anything but lifted her white blonde head to his dark one and put her arms round his waist.

“I guess.” He muttered, shrugging.

By now he was completely confused by Agatha, not sure what she was getting at. She had messed with him once, so what was to say she would not do it again? But she did seem more genuine now. Not much, but somewhat…

“Well, I’m not much better. I think this whole thing is making us, well, me at least, go mental.” He sighed and looked around during the awkward silence that followed.

He wanted to kiss her, but that might not be the best thing to do. She did not seem too happy at the moment, more mad than anything else. Why make things worse?

She knew how he felt.

She would have to make the first, well, second, move. He was not going to make a bigger fool of himself than he already had.

“Yes, yes whatever,” Agatha said soothingly. “Don’t worry all will be well,” she said secretly plotting how she could get exactly her own way all the time. She reached up onto her toes and kissed him again.

“So now we are going out there are a few minor points we may need to discuss,” she said sweetly after a few minutes of kissing him in the middle of the library.

He just raised his eyebrows, slightly taken aback by her terminology. So it’s not just a fling? Interesting.

“So, what exactly might those points be?” He asked, knowing that they most likely were about his mannerisms and how he didn’t live up to her standards.

Either way, he would try to change. But there was that little problem about the jealous boyfriend, for as far as Avery knew, Agatha and Donal were still together.

“Well,” Agatha drawled, confidently now tucking her arm though his and beginning to work slowly to the library exit. “First of all, the erm…and I don’t mean to be too indelicate about this my dear… but the blood issue. Is there any way at all you may have overlooked any relatives, minor, distant or otherwise who may contain wizarding blood?”

She laughed a small, false little laugh. “It’s just, well it makes a difference to my parents you see,” she explained, failing to mention that it was also frightfully important to Agatha herself. She looked hopefully at him, willing him to say yes.

“I dunno,” Avery said, shrugging. “It’s possible, yes, but highly unlikely.”

He could tell, to some degree, that Agatha desperately wanted him to say yes, to mention that long lost second cousin, twice removed, on his mother’s father’s great-uncle’s second cousin’s husband’s brother’s side who just happened to also have magical blood in them.

He stopped walking to think for a moment, now unsure of why she had posed the question. Sure her parents would care, but did Agatha care as well? Was she still being her same old self who thought blood made someone better than someone else?

“Hey Agatha… Erm, might I ask why you asked that question? I mean, do yu also care about my heritage?” He began thinking of his different family members. As far as Avery knew, all of them were muggles. “Perhaps we should check my history to see if there was a witch or wizard somewhere way back when. If it’s that important to you, I mean.”

“Oh, would you?” she said looking at him with sparkling eyes which he could hardly refuse. “That would be utterly divine if you could. And well as for me…” she paused and then decided to lie. After all what he didn’t know…

“Of course I would be lying if I said it had not mattered to me previously, but as I said I am prepared to overlook the issue at present,” she said a lightly as she could manage and dismissed the subject choice hastily to another.

“And Avery,” she continued sliding one hand under his top and snaking it round his back. “There is also the issue of your, well your little friends. Far be it from me to tell you whom you can and cannot be friends with my dear, but really Avery some of them are surely unworthy of you! That Moor girl, whatever her name is, Virginia or Violet or Veruca or some such,” she waved the other hand in the air dismissively and her solitaire diamond flashed in the light.

“I simply cannot believe that she is an acquaintance worth forming darling,” she exclaimed, “And in all honestly I feel rather uncomfortable to have you associating with her too.”

Agatha smiled a furtive, underhand wicked smile at him. “Don’t you agree, Avery?” she asked and rested her blonde head on him.

Agatha would never admit such, even perhaps to herself but she had other, less worthy reasons for not wanting her boyfriend to associate with the sniveling brat.

She still seemed upset about his family, but he brushed it aside, somewhat offended by what she said about Vivi (not Violet, Virginia, or Veruca as she’d called her).

“I think that only I am capable of saying who is a good friend for me, Agatha.” He said, trying to ignore the thoughts of his hex-happiness whenever he was around Vivi, or Aiko, or anyone who annoyed him on a bad day. And as practically every day was a bad day…

“So no, I don’t. And mind you, I don’t complain about Karlee or Abigail.”

Though I hate them as much as you hate Vivi.

Those preps, practically Agatha clones. Though Agatha did not annoy him much anymore, her two clones annoyed him to no end. He reasoned that by her seventh year Agatha would have gained followers in every year.

“So I intend to keep Vivi on my list of friends. Had it occurred to you that you could just not be around me when I’m with Vivi?”

He was sure, though, that she would concoct some reason why he should withdraw himself from Vivi.

Sighing, he made a mental note to begin checking his family’s history, once, of course, Agatha got her hand out of his shirt. Glancing up, he realized that a far more prevalent problem was about to present itself.

Donal entered the library carrying a small stack of books with which to do his homework. He was thinking about Charms, and almost walked into two people, but stopped in time. “Sorry,” he muttered, and went to step around them, and then it hit him.

Agatha and Avery. Side by side. Not arguing. And with their arms around each other. Looking friendly. Looking far too friendly for Donal’s liking.

He backed up a couple of steps, confused. “Er…Agatha? Avery?” He greeted them in a puzzled tone.

“What’s going on?” His brain was trying to process this, but it didn’t seem possible. How was it possible?

Finally, after a few moments of just standing there, a look of shock on his face, he managed to reach a logical conclusion. Agatha had bewitched Avery again. That must be it. Grinning at her, he asked, “So how did you do it this time? Surely he didn’t fall for the potion trick again?”

Laughing, he slapped Avery lightly on the back and made a move towards the tables. But the look on their face’s stopped him. Surely this was a joke, right?

It took Agatha too long to regain her composure. Regain it she did, but the damage had been done. She looked conscious. She looked guilty. A faint flush of pink tinged her cheeks and she let go of Avery too quickly, too abruptly.

She looked between Avery and Donal. They were best friends and yet they were also so different. Muggle versus pureblood. Rich verses poor.

It should have been no competition. There should have been no doubt, no question in the mind of Agatha Swales and she was deeply conscious of it. She knew how delighted her parents and all of their mutual connections had been about the alliance between the noble house of Swales and that of Talmorra. And she shuddered to think of the response to a filthy mudblood instead.

A part of Agatha was tempted to brush it aside lightly. To laugh it off, agree with Donal and double cross the Berke boy completely. What a triumph that would be indeed.

And yet when she looked at Donal…although he was dear to Agatha in many ways, no more did she feel any thing. He was her friend. They thought the same way on many points and he was a pleasant acquaintance with whom to pass an idle hour or so.

And to the other side, looking at her with agonized eyes was Avery. He had so many faults in so many ways. His blood, his friends, his opinions and ideas, his indecisiveness…

And yet when she looked at him…

This wasn’t a joke and for once in her life Agatha Swales was not playing games no matter what anyone else may have thought.

She decided.

She would have to brazen it out and pay the cost.

She tilted her little chin in the air and took a deep breath. She took hold of Avery’s hand.

“Sorry, Donal,” she said.

Donal dropped his books, not even noticing the loud thump as they hit the floor. His face drained of color, and he staggered backwards a few steps until he bumped into the wall behind him. It couldn’t be over! Not just like that!

But he could see it in Agatha’s face that she, for once, was being very straight and serious. And his heart knew it. And it broke.

He barely whispered, “And I’m sorry too,” before he turned and ran blindly from the library, not even thinking about his books, not caring if anyone was in the way.

Avery stood still through the whole episode, doing nothing but blinking stupidly. The moment Donal spotted them, everything had started spinning. He was sure that his best friend would lunge at him, ready to kill him for so much as touching his girlfriend (though she was touching him more than he was her.) But Donal did not. Either he did not believe it or he did not care. Either way he just sat down and looked up at them.

Then Agatha grabbed his hand. Of all things. Avery was sure she would waltz over to Donal and join the whole of the library in laughter mocking his stupidity. He was sure they would think that he had once again fallen victim to Agatha’s love potion.

But none of that happened. Nothing happened the way he had expected it to.

Donal had not killed him and Agatha had not mocked him. He liked the outcome of everything. Well, part of it. He did not like that Donal had to get hurt in the process, too hurt to even kill Avery.

But Avery was overjoyed that Agatha had stood by him rather than ditching him when everything got hairy. And for a pureblood to make such a bold move as to stick by a mudblood? She was most likely risking a lot, but it appeared as if that didn’t matter to her anymore.

That made Avery happy.

…but Donal was really hurt. That was bad.

And they shared a dorm.

Avery would die in his sleep. He knew it.

Agatha saw the look on Donal’s face before he turned and left, and she tried hard to wipe out any compassion she may have been feeling. Indeed Agatha found it hard to focus her attention on more than one target simultaneously and Berke needed to be taught. To be swept away by her as Donal had been, to live and breathe for her and with her.

That was certainly a challenge and Agatha Swales loved challenges. Now that she had decided. Now that she had come this far she wanted his complete, utter and undivided attention and she was absolutely determined to share him with no one. No one at all.

She kept hold of his hand and turned her fair face up to him.

“Believe me now, Avery?” she whispered softly and putting her other arm round his waist she pulled him slowly to her.

She raised her long lashes slowly and lifted her eyes to meet his eyes. A tiny flicker of a smile played round her lips and she kissed him, at first little fluttery kisses around his lips and then more intensely. She pulled him to her and she felt him, warm and secure around her. She shivered slightly.

Avery was still confused by the whole episode, but he had no objections to Agatha’s actions. Though he did not expect her to take such actions when Donal was so hurt. She had just, in a sense, dumped him; and, without any visible feelings of regret, began to be all over Avery.

After Donal’s sudden outburst, he would not have been surprised if the whole of the library had turned to stare at them. Everyone probably was, but Agatha cared little about that as well. She was acting (in front of everyone mind you) as he was sure she once had with Donal.

But he had no objections to her rather odd display of affection. He thoroughly enjoyed the attention, even if Donal had been hurt by it.

At the time thought, his thoughts were not exactly on Donal. Screw Donal for all he cared.

He got Agatha; that was all that mattered.

“Yes.” He muttered, smiling briefly and kissing her once again. “Yup, I do.”

He was so tall and strong, she felt tiny in his arms and her heart beat fast as she looked at him, felt his warm skin and his soft lips on hers. However she was not going to let him see that he had any effect on her. Not a bit of it. She was in control and that was the way it was going to stay.

Reluctantly therefore and almost feeling a little dizzy, she broke off his kiss and with a playful and wicked smile she whispered, “Let’s go. I have somewhere I’d like to take you.”

She tugged gently at his hand.

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