Waverly is pretty sure that the worst moment of her entire life takes place during the summer before her fifth year at Hogwarts.
It starts off as a normal morning, or at least as normal as a morning can get in the Earp household. Waverly wakes up to the sound of her sisters squabbling just outside her bedroom door and throws her covers off with a huff, rubbing at her bleary eyes as she crosses her room and flings open the door to investigate the ruckus.
The two older Earp girls are standing out in the hallway between Waverly’s bedroom and the bathroom opposite, Wynonna still in her sleep shorts and a tank top and Willa wrapped in nothing but a large fluffy towel, her hair still wet from the shower. The pair are engaged in a vicious argument and Waverly would perhaps be annoyed at them for waking her up with their raised voices, had she not become accustomed to the seemingly endless quarrels between her sisters during her fifteen years of life.
“…and you could get not only yourself but the entire family in serious trouble if you get caught!”
Leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded across her chest, Waverly’s emergence from her bedroom does nothing to stop the two girls from arguing, in fact it is almost as if they are so caught up in their heated debate that they haven’t even noticed her.
“But I’m not going to get caught!” Wynonna snaps back.
“You’re still sixteen, Wynonna. You know that underage magic is illegal.”
“Jeez, Willa,” Wynonna lets out a dramatic groan. “It was a joke. Lighten the fuck up!”
Taking a step forward to intervene, Waverly finally catches her sisters’ attention and they take a momentary break from their bickering.
“Do you two ever stop arguing?” Waverly sighs exasperatedly. “The day has barely even started, what is it this time?”
“She,” Willa steps in immediately, pointing an accusatory finger at Wynonna, “thought it would be amusing to summon my clothes out of the bathroom through the window while I was in the shower.”
“And it was funny,” Wynonna retaliates, rolling her eyes with an ease that comes from years of practice. “Until Willa started going on about underage magic.” Turning her full attention back to Willa, Wynonna adds, “They aren’t going to know it was me. We live in a house full of magic.”
“It’s the principle!” snaps Willa. “You need to stop being so childish the whole time and learn some responsibility.”
Wynonna opens her mouth to argue back and Waverly gets ready to step between her sisters in case one or the other of them decides to get violent (it’s happened before, and the result wasn’t pretty), but they’re interrupted by a shout up the stairs before Wynonna can get another word in.
“Girls, your Hogwarts letters are here!”
Willa scowls at Wynonna one last time and says, “Don’t think I’m done with you, Wynonna,” then strides down the hallway to her bedroom at the far end, slamming the door shut behind her with a bang that is just slightly louder than necessary.
“Man, I hate her sometimes,” Wynonna mutters under her breath as soon as Willa is out of sight.
“She does have a point thought,” Waverly reminds her. “When you leave Hogwarts you can’t expect to continue breaking all the rules and getting away with it.”
Wynonna frowns at Waverly and says, “Well maybe when I leave Hogwarts I’ll start following the rules. But until then…”
Wynonna rests a hand on Waverly’s shoulder and the immediate effect of the gesture is that Waverly closes her mouth and stares up at her older sister, a worried frown etched onto her face.
“You’re starting to sound more like Willa every day,” says Wynonna, and Waverly stiffens at the words. As the youngest of the three, there isn’t really anything that she hates more than being compared to her older sisters and Wynonna knows that. It’s a dirty tactic, but Wynonna has never played fair before and Waverly knows better than to expect her to start doing so now. “Besides, you’ll get your chance to put me in line when we’re back at school. Come on, let’s go and get our letters.”
The seriousness of the previous conversation disperses as Wynonna nudges Waverly playfully with her elbow and the two girls to descend the stairs towards the smoky smell of cooked bacon.
“Stop it, Wynonna,” Waverly says, as she feels the anxiety bubble within her at the thought of what might be waiting for her in the envelope with her name on it downstairs. “You’ll jinx it before I’ve even read it.”
Wynonna just snorts.
“Waves, they gave me a Prefect badge last year. There’s no way that they aren’t making you one.”
Waverly smiles and shakes her head at Wynonna’s words. It’s one of life’s biggest mysteries – something that gets questioned not only in the Earp household but throughout Hogwarts too – why the senior members of staff at the school deemed Wynonna Earp, a notorious troublemaker since she stepped foot in the castle as a tiny eleven year old, more worthy of the title of Prefect than her other, more rule-abiding classmates. Waverly’s initial theory is that they misguidedly thought that giving Wynonna some responsibility would somehow also give her a behavioural awakening, though one only has to meet Wynonna (and Waverly is pretty certain that most of the teachers at Hogwarts have had Wynonna in their office at least once) to realise that a badge to pin on her robes isn’t enough to turn her into a model student overnight.
“Let’s hope so,” says Waverly as she follows Wynonna into the kitchen, where a pan of bacon is frying on the stove next to another pan of scrambled eggs that is stirring itself.
Their Aunt Gus sits at the kitchen table reading today’s copy of The Daily Prophet and, upon seeing the two girls, jumps to her feet and picks up a yellowing envelope in each hand, extending them out to her nieces. Her hands trembling with a combination of anticipation and excitement, Waverly accepts her own letter and sits down at her usual seat at the kitchen table.
Waverly knows that there’s something wrong the moment that she takes the letter. It is familiar – thick parchment for both the envelope and its contents, Waverly’s name and address printed in an emerald cursive on the front, and the Hogwarts crest stamped onto the seal – but it is too familiar, and that is what is wrong. There’s no extra weight of the badge that Waverly so desperately wants to find within.
Her heart stops beating for the long few seconds that it takes her shaking fingers to slip beneath the wax seal and peel the envelope open.
Inside are two neatly folded leafs of parchment and…
No shiny blue badge with the letter ‘P’ on it.
Waverly feels her entire world crumble around her as everything she’s been working towards for the last four year dissipates into nothing all at once.
From the seat beside her, Wynonna lets out a heavy sigh and tosses her own letter to the side as the pan of cooked bacon soars across the kitchen and begins to decant itself onto plates.
“Yet more spellbooks that I’m not going to read,” she says flippantly, stabbing a piece of bacon with her fork and lifting it to her mouth. She pauses with the fork at her lips, noticing the expression on Waverly’s face, and asks, “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“There’s no badge,” Waverly says in slight disbelief. She’s spent so long dreaming of being a Prefect, years in fact, that she never once stopped to consider what she would do if she didn’t get the position.
“That’s weird,” Wynonna shrugs. “They must have forgotten to put it in the envelope.”
“No,” Waverly corrects her, “they didn’t forget. There’s no letter either. I’m not a Prefect.”
Wynonna drops her fork with a clatter and snatches the sheets of parchment out of Waverly’s hand, her eyes first scanning through the letter, then flicking through the list of school supplies on the second sheet.
“What?” Wynonna frowns, dropping the letters and picking up Waverly’s discarded envelope, as if there might be some big secret within that the youngest Earp has missed. “But you’re … but I’m a Prefect. Why wouldn’t they make you one?”
Though Waverly knows her older sister is in just as much disbelief as her and that her words are not intended to hurt, they sting her deep inside more than she’d care to admit.
“I bet they gave it to Chrissy,” she mumbles under her breath, fighting against the lump that threatens to form in her constricting throat, desperate to keep it together at least until she can excuse herself from the table and return to the privacy of her own bedroom.
Through a mouthful of bacon, Wynonna comments, “Her dad is Head of Ravenclaw, is that even allowed?”
Waverly shrugs dejectedly, but when she opens her mouth to respond, she can’t get another word in before a new arrival to the kitchen gets everybody’s attention.
“Good morning, Aunt Gus.”
Willa enters the kitchen, now fully clothed and her hair dry, shooting Waverly an insincere smile before glaring at the back of Wynonna’s head. Wynonna doesn’t even have to look at Willa to be able to sense the look of pure evil that is sent her way, and using some kind of magical power that Waverly thinks no book would be able to explain, Wynonna manages to choose the exact split second that Gus isn’t paying attention to send a rude hand gesture in the direction of her older sister.
Willa takes her seat opposite Waverly, helps herself to a slice of toast, and then, without about as much tact as a mountain troll, asks, “What’s wrong with Waverly?”
There’s a lump in her throat that is difficult to speak past and her eyes are trying to give way to tears, but Waverly answers anyway.
“They didn’t make me a Prefect.”
“Wasn’t it obvious they were going to give it to Chrissy?” snorts Willa, shooting a brief but scornful glance in Waverly’s direction that does nothing to improve Waverly’s mood. “Her dad is Head of Ravenclaw, after all.”
“Willa!” Wynonna snaps, jumping to her younger sister’s defence, and Waverly worries for just a second that her two sisters are going to start fighting it out over the breakfast table, not that it would be the first time that that has happened. Reaching a hand out and resting it on Waverly’s arm, Wynonna continues in a softer voice, “Don’t listen to her. Being a Prefect is shit anyway.”
Waverly knows that Wynonna’s words are filled with good intention, but with the disappointment at not being made a Prefect still stinging like a fresh wound, the lump lodged in Waverly’s throat just gets bigger as her heart clenches painfully in her chest.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Waverly chokes out. “You’re a Prefect!”
“And isn’t that the only proof you need that the title means nothing at all?” Wynonna attempt to reason.
“Look!” exclaims Willa, as if completely oblivious to Waverly’s disappointment, raising her own Hogwarts letter aloft in one hand and a brand new badge emblazoned with the gold letter H in the other. “I’ve been made Head Girl!”
It’s the last straw for Waverly, who pushes her chair back and gets up from the table, her bacon still untouched on her plate. With her eyes stinging from the onset of tears and an ugly sob threatening to rip from her throat, she races out of the kitchen and towards the stairs before the tears can start to cascade down her cheeks, vaguely aware of the way that Wynonna raises her voice in Waverly’s defence behind her as she goes.
“Willa, you insensitive piece of Hippogriff shit, can you not see that Waverly is upset about…”
And that’s the last thing that Waverly hears before she slams her bedroom door behind her and collapses face first onto her bed.
After a family trip to Diagon Alley the following day, during which Waverly says a total of about four sentences, she locks herself in her room with her new spellbooks for a week, only emerging for meals. She spend the first couple of days crying into her pillow, wallowing in her own self-pity as she wonders why it was decided last year that Wynonna, the epitome of irresponsibility, should be made a Prefect when she, a model student with a perfect set of grades and enough enthusiasm to keep an entire class of first years excited about their History of Magic homework for a whole term, should miss out on the position this year.
Once the initial shock has worn off (and her eyes have shed enough tears to fill the Great Lake at Hogwarts twice over), she keeps to her room almost out of spite. But the truth is that she doesn’t particularly feel like facing Wynonna, and she especially can’t deal with Willa flaunting her new Head Girl badge around the house, so she just settles for sticking to the familiar four walls of her own room and listening to her sisters squabble and fight over the most mundane things across the house.
It gets boring after a while, listening to Wynonna and Willa argue each day, a clash of personalities that has always sort of been there, intensifying in recent years as bitter house rivalry and Quidditch tensions get added to the mix. And it always follows the same narrative too; Wynonna does something that gets on Willa’s nerves, Willa scolds her for it, and then Wynonna refuses to take criticism from a sister only eleven months her senior and stubbornly fights back until on some occasions sparks literally do fly.
Waverly sometimes considers going against all her morals and breaking the laws of underage magic to cast a muffling charm on her door, just to get an hour or two of peace, but her judgement always wins out in the end. She’s too much of a goody two-shoes.
She’s too much of an aspiring Prefect, even after the rejection.
It’s almost a relief when September the first finally rolls around and the three Earp girls, along with three heavy trunks and three broomsticks and three caged owls, find themselves boarding the familiar steam engine for the beginning of another year at Hogwarts. She says “almost a relief”, because now instead of having to accept that Wynonna is still a Prefect and Willa is Head Girl, she gets to watch them fulfil (or in Wynonna’s case, complain about) their duties every single day.
And then there’s Champ. Waverly’s idiot of a boyfriend.
Waverly realises that “idiot” should not be the first word that comes to mind when she thinks of her boyfriend of five months and that alarm bells should be going off in her head at this, but in all honesty she’s too fed up to care. That, and said “idiot” of a boyfriend is currently pretty much the only person in the world who spares Waverly a second glance, even if she is fairly sure that most of the attention he gives her is in the hope that a couple of empty compliments and a bit of affection might be enough to earn him a quick handjob in one of the many broom closets at Hogwarts.
It’s just the two of them in their compartment on the Hogwarts Express, not counting Wynonna who has been dead to the world since about five minutes after the train left Kings Cross Station, sprawled across the seats opposite them with her mouth hanging open and her chest rising and falling slowly with each breath. Waverly sits closest to the window, her head leaning against the cool glass as she stares out at the green countryside that passes by as the train travels north.
“It’s exciting to be going back to Hogwarts, isn’t it?” Champ muses aloud, and Waverly hums absently in agreement. “We get to see each other every day now.”
Waverly doesn’t respond. Her own excitement at going back to school has more to do with the fifth year curriculum; exciting new spells, more complex Potions, the introduction of a new runic alphabet in Waverly’s favourite subject - Ancient Runes. None of her excitement for the upcoming year is fuelled by the prospect of her relationship with Champ becoming more convenient than it was over the summer holidays.
Waverly is saved from having to feign enthusiasm by the arrival of somebody new when the compartment door slides open and Xavier Dolls, one of Wynonna’s friends, enters. If anybody can actually be called Wynonna’s friend. The select group that Wynonna spends most of her time with is made up of the few people in the school who are willing to tolerate her, rather than people who actively seek out her company and friendship. Dolls is one of the handful of people at Hogwarts that Wynonna hasn’t pissed off – or perhaps one of the handful of people that Wynonna has pissed off but not to the point where they dislike her as much as the rest of the school does.
“Earp,” he barks out in Wynonna’s direction. When Wynonna makes no response, simply letting out a soft snore as she continues to sleep on the seats opposite Waverly and Champ, Dolls huffs irritably and leans down so that his mouth is right next to Wynonna’s ear, before repeating much louder, “Earp!”
“Whaaa-?” Wynonna startles from her sleep, grappling for the wand tucked into the waistband of her jeans and pointing it at Dolls as she lurches up into a seated position. When she realises who has woken her, she lowers her wand and sighs, “What the hell, Dolls? You know not to wake me unless it’s an emergency!”
“It is an emergency,” Dolls informs her. “Your sister is losing it.”
Wynonna, eyes still hazy from sleep, turns her head in Waverly’s direction and arches her eyebrow, before the realisation hits her and she slumps back against the seats, rolling her eyes and letting out a dramatic groan as she does so.
“Oh, that sister.”
“Yes,” Dolls nods, with an impatient eye roll of his own. “The Head Girl. You were supposed to be at a Prefect’s meeting in the first carriage fifteen minutes ago. She says that you’re deliberately showing her up on her first day as Head Girl.”
As obstinate as ever, Wynonna simply quips back, “Then my plan to show her up every day as Head Girl is off to a fantastic start.”
“Come on, Earp,” says Dolls, prodding Wynonna’s shoulder with his hand. “Don’t make me carry you there.”
Wynonna gets to her feet with a groan of protest and follows Dolls out of the compartment, grumbling something that sounds a lot like “all work and no play makes Jack a dumb fucking loser” under her breath as she goes.
“I’m glad you’re not a Prefect,” Champ tells Waverly, pressing a sloppy kiss to her cheek, oblivious to the way that Waverly stares at the door her sister just left through with a look of saddened longing. “It means you can spend more time with me.”
Champ’s heavy arm around her shoulder feels like more of a burden than a comfort these days.
When Waverly was younger, she used to love being an Earp. The name was something to be proud of, descended from generation after generation of rogue dark wizard hunters with an infamous history that seems beyond thrilling to a curious nine year old with her own thirst for adventure.
Now, however, Waverly wishes for nothing more than a single week at Hogwarts where she doesn’t have the shadow of her own surname looming over everything she tries to do. Because not only is Waverly the daughter of notorious dark wizard killer Ward Earp, and the younger sister of Slytherin’s princess Willa and Wynonna the Gryffindor rebel, but she’s descended from the legendary demon hunter Wyatt Earp. And the issue with your great-great-grandfather having his own Chocolate Frog card is that there’s a lot in a name and people come to expect certain things from you.
Waverly still remembers a conversation she had with Wynonna on the first day of Christmas break in Wynonna’s first year at Hogwarts.
“I dunno,” she had shrugged, after Waverly pounced on her with excitable questions about her first term at the school before she’d even had the chance to brush of the ash from her Floo Powder journey home. “It’s alright. Weird though. I sometimes feel like people think they know me already, you know, because I’m an Earp. Like the teachers always expect me to be good at stuff straight away even though I’m not.”
And then she paused, before changing the subject with a wicked grin.
“Oh, but last week I accidentally set fire to half of Greenhouse Two and it was awesome!”
Waverly would like to think that she’s done a pretty good job at trying to forge her own path at Hogwarts. She started at the school four years ago as a tiny but determined eleven year old, adamant that she would not become what the rest of the school would expect of her. In fact, she can still recall the exact words spoken to her by the Sorting Hat as she sat on the little stool in front of hundreds of watchful eyes on her first night at the school, after she told it that she wasn’t like the rest of the Earp clan.
“No? Well there’s no doubt that you have the boldness of a Gryffindor, but you’re a curious little one too, aren’t you? Let’s put you in RAVENCLAW!”
The sigh of relief at not being placed in Gryffindor, where Waverly would almost certainly have spent her seven years at Hogwarts concealed from sight in Wynonna’s enormous shadow, had almost been enough to topple her right off the rickety stool with the Sorting Hat still on her head.
And so Waverly, who, as far as she is aware, is the first Earp to ever be sorted into Ravenclaw, started at Hogwarts with the resolute aim of proving to people that she’s more than just another Earp. She’s worked diligently in every subject, even the ones that she doesn’t enjoy as much as the others, and consistently scored grades within the top two or three students in her year. She tutors the younger students, she regularly helps to run both the school’s Wizarding Chess club and the Astronomy club, and she’s even attempted to start a school newspaper.
And yet, with a family name that has had an immense impact on the Wizarding World and two older sisters who between them could probably bring the entire castle crumbling to the ground, it’s still not enough.
Half of the school most likely hasn’t even realised that there even is a third Earp sister, and the half that has are probably just perpetually disappointed that Waverly is neither as popular as Willa nor as interesting as Wynonna. And it’s not even like she wants to have Willa’s Slytherin fan club or Wynonna’s notoriety, but it would be nice just every so often to be recognised for her own achievements.
To be known as Waverly and not as the youngest, least interesting Earp girl.
Waverly categorically hates Quidditch. Watching fourteen overinflated egos zooming around on broomsticks in the name of sport, putting on obscene displays of aggression for a crowd that seems to worship their every move, is not what she would describe as entertaining.
More specifically, Waverly hates the annual Gryffindor versus Slytherin Quidditch match. Because the only thing worse than house rivalry is sibling rivalry, and when two fourteenths of the players on the pitch are Earps, the clash between teams is guaranteed to be monumental.
In a delightful contrast to whatever carnage is taking place outside the castle, the silence in the almost empty library is complete bliss.
Waverly loves the library; the smell of old parchment, the cosy familiarity of the high bookshelves filled from floor to ceiling with thick leather-bound tomes, the flicker of candles across yellowing pages. The scratch of quills and the occasional flip of a page are the only sounds in what is otherwise complete silence. It’s Waverly’s personal haven.
On this particular Saturday, with pretty much the entire school wrapped up in their cloaks and scarves to watch the Quidditch match that unfolds outside, the library is empty but for two of them. Waverly recognises the other girl, a Hufflepuff who must be a year or two older than Waverly because she’s seen her around but never spoken to her before, and Waverly gives her a little nod of acknowledgement as she takes a seat a couple of tables away and spreads her work out in front of her to get started on her homework.
She’s been working for about an hour when it happens, in the middle of writing an essay for History of Magic with such vigour that the tip of her quill snaps and an ugly smudge of ink ruins her otherwise immaculate essay.
Forgetting that she isn’t alone in the library, Waverly’s exclamation is a little louder than she intends it to be. She glances up, expecting to find the other girl glaring at her for the disturbance, only to find that she’s instead being smiled at, the other girl making a small gesture with her head to indicate that the disruption isn’t a problem, before returning her attention to her own work as if nothing has happened.
Waverly reaches down and fumbles around inside the satchel under her chair for a few seconds, and then when she is still without success, she pulls the bag out completely and empties its contents onto the table. The heavy thud of a textbook followed by the clatter of the rest of the junk in Waverly’s bag tumbling out once again catches the attention of the only other occupant of the library, and Waverly feels her cheeks burning in shame as she holds up an apologetic hand to the Hufflepuff.
“I’m sorry,” she says, in a whisper that is just loud enough for the girl to hear her.
Picking up her wand from the mess scattered across her usually impeccable work station, Waverly mutters an almost inaudible repairing charm under her breath and watches as the nib of her broken quill magically fixes itself.
The hairs on the back of Waverly’s neck prickle as she feels a pair of eyes burning into the side of her head and she looks up to find that the red-headed girl is still watching her with an expression of curiosity in her eyes. Waverly tries to hold her gaze, but can’t manage to keep it up for more than about a second and a half as the way that the corners of the girl’s mouth curl up ever so slowly has Waverly looking back down at the work in front of her as a pink flush rises to her cheeks once again.
When she dares to glance up a few seconds later, it is to find that the girl is no longer looking at Waverly, but the way that she studies her own textbook with the traces of a smile still crossing her face leaves Waverly all the more confused, like she’s missing out on a really obvious joke.
Waverly tries to push it out of her mind. This essay, then her Potions homework and the reading that she needs to do for Transfiguration – that’s all that should be important right now.
It’s harder than she expects to stop herself from looking up every other minute.
Waverly manages to work studiously for another half an hour, taking extra care not to damage her quill again so as to avoid embarrassing herself in front of the other girl any more than she already has, and she’s almost reached the end of her essay when a shadow falls over her desk. When she looks up, it is to find the red headed girl looking down on her, a friendly smile on her face.
“I’m taking a study break,” she says, quietly enough that her voice doesn’t really disturb the stillness of the library, not that there’s anybody else around to complain anyway. “I was wondering if you wanted to join me?”
Waverly spares a quick glance for the work spread out across the table, teeth digging into her lower lip as she considers the offer. Her head is telling her to politely decline – apart from anything else, she’s midway through a sentence, and probably only a paragraph and a half away from completing the current essay, and then she’s still got a sheet of homework questions to get done before Monday’s Potions class – but her heart, swayed by the hopeful look in the girl’s wide brown eyes, wins out.
“Why not?” she replies, setting the quill down carefully so as to not smudge any of the ink on her parchment, before pushing herself up to her feet.
“Great,” the girl smiles at Waverly. “I was going to sit out in the courtyard, unless there’s somewhere else you’d rather go.”
“No! The courtyard sounds good!” Waverly plucks her scarf off the back of her chair and holds it aloft for them both to see as she says, “Look, I’ve even got my scarf in case it’s chilly!”
“Wow, you are prepared!” the girl laughs, as the two of them make their way between the towering bookshelves towards the doors leading out of the library.
The courtyard is just a short walk away; through a door just down the corridor from the library and then down a narrow spiral staircase that brings them out right next to a gargoyle and into the covered walkway that surrounds the little square of grass. The redhead – who, Waverly realises with a startle, she is yet to properly introduce herself to – leads them through an ornate stone archway and across the grass, still damp with dew, to a bench that sits in the shade of a towering oak tree.
Once seated side by side, Waverly opens her mouth to ask her newest acquaintance for her name, but the other girl gets her words in first.
“So, you’re Waverly Earp.”
She doesn’t phrase it as question, but Waverly answers brightly regardless, giving a chirpy, “That’s me.”
“You’re quite a popular girl around Hogwarts.”
Waverly startles. There are many words that she would use to describe herself – determined, studious, enthusiastic – but popular is not one of them, not when she always seems to inadvertently do such an incredible job of blending into the stone brickwork of the castle walls.
The girl nods, and then continues, “Your father was quite a big deal. I’ve read all about him.”
Waverly can’t help the way that her insides fall at the girl’s words. She should have known better than to expect that the girl’s offer of companionship would be anything more than an attempt to pry into the life of an Earp.
“I guess so,” she shrugs dejectedly. “I don’t really remember him much. You probably know about as much about him as I do.”
Waverly pauses, deep in thought about her late father and how the things that helped her through the initial grief of losing her parents at such a young age, such as remembering the sound of their voices or the way they smelt or the feeling of having their arms wrapped around her, are now just a distant blur lost in the haze of a million other memories.
“Don’t be,” Waverly mumbles.
“The Earp name is a big one to live up to,” says the girl.
“You’re telling me?” Waverly snorts under her breath. She’s all too aware of what her name means, about how difficult it can be to try and live up to people whose achievements are always going to be wildly beyond her own dreams. “Well I don’t like to be restricted by a name. I like to think that I can make an impression as my own person.”
The girl’s dark eyes soften, a smile pulling at the corners of her lips, before she lowers her voice and replies mysteriously, “That you can.”
Waverly blushes, unable to stop herself from feeling a little self-conscious about the way that the other girl looks at her like she knows something that Waverly does not. Eager to change the subject, she says hastily, “I’m sorry, here we are talking about me and I didn’t even catch your name.”
“I’m Nicole. Nicole Haught.”
“So, Nicole,” says Waverly, eager to lead the conversation away from her own family name. “Why aren’t you at the match? Not a Quidditch fan?”
“No, I love Quidditch!” Nicole says, her eyes widening in enthusiasm. She shrugs and tilts her head to the side, then continues, “But I fell ill at the end of the summer so I missed the first three weeks of term and I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on.”
“Oh no!” exclaimed Waverly. Reaching out to rest a hand on Nicole’s arm just below her elbow, Waverly asks, “You’re okay now though?”
“Yep, all better!” Nicole answers with a nod. “Just a bit of tonsillitis.”
“It’s …” Nicole frowns as she tries to explain, “it’s a Muggle thing. A sore throat.”
“It sounds like it could be an ancient spell,” Waverly says thoughtfully.
“It does,” Nicole agrees with a laugh.
Silence falls between them and Waverly allows the atmosphere of the almost empty courtyard to settle in. The air is brisk but not too cold, though she is grateful for the warmth of the soft knitted scarf bundled around her neck, without which she would probably be shivering nd her teeth chattering together. While the courtyard would usually be bustling with sound, a common route for students passing through from one part of the castle to another between classes, with almost the entire student body out of the school, the quiet is a blissful contrast to what Waverly is used to. The only sign that the castle is usually full of life, other than the two girls who sit side by side on the bench, is the barely audible sound of the big crowd cheering in the stadium in the distance.
“So what about you?” Nicole breaks the silence.
“What about me?”
“Why aren’t you at the Quidditch match?” asks Nicole, tilting her head to the side inquisitively. “Aren’t both of your sisters playing?”
Waverly laughs under her breath and rolls her eyes, not even wanting to begin to imagine what kind of carnage might be taking place on the Quidditch pitch right now with her sisters competing against each other. If last year’s match is anything to go by (Willa ended up in the hospital wing with a bloody nose and Wynonna found herself in detention every Saturday morning for the rest of the month), then the game will probably be the topic of hot discussion throughout the school for the rest of the week.
“You just answered your own question,” Waverly tells Nicole. “If I want to watch Willa and Wynonna have it off against each other I only have to wait to go home for Christmas and I can watch it every day. The only differences are that today they’re doing it in front of hundreds of people, sixty feet up in the air, and Wynonna has a heavy bat in one hand.”
Nicole rests a sympathetic hand on Waverly’s arm, then laughs softly and says, “Wow, that bad, huh?”
“You have no idea,” Waverly nods. “I hate Quidditch in general but I loathe it when my sisters are both playing.”
“You hate Quidditch?” Nicole asks, her eyes widening in surprise.
“Fourteen egotistical jerks throwing balls at each other and chasing after a tiny golden flying thing and calling it entertainment?” Waverly snorts softly and then shakes her head. “No, thank you!”
Nicole doesn’t say anything at first, though she cocks her head to the side and arches a single eyebrow in Waverly’s direction. When she finally responds, she deadpans, “I play for Hufflepuff.”
Waverly can’t do anything but gape as her brain processes Nicole’s words. She replays her own last words in her mind and realises that she would be hard-pushed to say something more scathing about the Wizarding World’s favourite sport and those who play it, and as she realises that she’s just insulted her newest acquaintance quite spectacularly, her cheeks redden and she glances away to avoid having to make any eye contact with Nicole.
“I … uh, I didn’t … I had no idea!” Waverly stammers.
“That I was an egotistical jerk?”
Waverly looks up sheepishly, her teeth digging into her lower lip, before she says, “I didn’t mean it like…” Waverly sighs and then says, “You seem like a really nice person.”
“For a Quidditch player,” teases Nicole. She reaches out for Waverly’s arm again, resting her hand on Waverly’s elbow, then continues, “Don’t worry, I get it. Some of them are attention seeking idiots, and I get that it mustn’t be nice for you to have to watch your sisters show off in front of the entire school and get cheered on as they do it. Sport isn’t for everybody.”
“I…” Waverly trails off, staring off towards the far side of the courtyard as she continues to avoid looking at Nicole. “I insulted you and you’re still being so nice to me.”
“Yeah, well, Hufflepuff,” Nicole laughs, pointing at herself.
Waverly forces herself to smile too, though the contents of her stomach feel as though they are churning up deep inside with the mortification of what she said.
Eager to change the subject, Waverly says, “I should get back to studying.” Her eyes flickering up to meet Nicole’s, which are looking down at her with a dark intensity as if she is using them to search deep within Waverly’s soul, Waverly shrugs and adds chirpily, “Homework isn’t going to finish itself.”
Waverly thinks she detects a flash of disappointment cross Nicole’s face as the other girl finally tears her gaze away, getting to her feet and offering a hand out to help Waverly stand up from the bench too.
“Me too,” Nicole agrees, as the pair start to wander across the courtyard towards the heavy oak door that leads back into the castle and towards the library. “It’s been nice to meet you Waverly, even if your views on Quidditch are horribly misguided.”
Following Nicole inside, Waverly concedes, “Well maybe I was a little bit wrong.” With Nicole’s eyes back on her as they walk, a frown etched on her forehead as she silently asks for an elaboration, Waverly continues, “You’re not what I expected from a Quidditch player.”
They re-enter the library and Nicole ripostes, “And you’re not what I expected from an Earp.” With a soft smile on her face as she takes her seat surrounded by heavy books once more, Nicole raises a hand in a jovial wave and says, “See you around, Waverly.”
Waverly isn’t entirely sure how to process Nicole’s parting words – she’s spent years trying to prove to people that she can be more than what they expect from her family name and finally here is somebody who is telling her that she has achieved just that – but as she removes her blue scarf and sits back down at her table to complete her History of Magic essay, Waverly can’t help but cling onto that tiny bit of hope that this isn’t that last she’s going to be seeing of Nicole Haught.
See you around.
As a Muggleborn, there are several aspects of the magical world that Nicole sometimes finds beyond her comprehension, despite being one of the top students in her year. Divination, for example. The only subject that she received lower than Exceeds Expectations in her O.W.L.S. in June, because it’s painfully unfair that half of her grade for the course should depend on her ability to pretend to see shapes emerge from the mist of a crystal ball and then invent a fictional scenario that is almost certainly not going to happen as a result of said non-existent shapes.
Apparition, too. The very fact that a magical person can just envision any place fathomable and then travel there in the blink of an eye by simply thinking about it in a certain way is utterly mind-blowing. Though Nicole can’t deny that the part of her that used to obsess of sci-fi movies as a kid is thrilled at the prospect of having all of her childhood fantasies about teleportation come true during apparition lessons later this year, it doesn’t stop the mere concept of it from being completely mind-boggling.
But out of everything in the magical world, the thing that baffles Nicole the most is Wynonna Earp.
“Hypothetically, if somebody was to release two dozen pixies into the school, where do you think they should release them to maximise the chaos?”
Specifically, Nicole is perplexed by the red and gold Prefect’s badge that is pinned slightly askew to the front of Wynonna’s school robes.
“Please tell me that you’re not planning to do exactly that,” Nicole pleads with her fellow Prefect as they amble along the corridor outside the Charms classroom, patrolling the school as part of their duties.
“That’s ridiculous,” Wynonna dismisses her with a wave of her hand. “Where am I going to acquire two dozen pixies?”
Nicole has to repress a snort because she doesn’t doubt even for a moment that Wynonna has both the motivation and the means to get hold of enough pixies to wreak havoc on the entire school. If there is anybody capable of such a feat, then it is Wynonna, and Nicole is all too aware that any attempts to dissuade Wynonna from carrying out such a plan when she already has her mind set on it will just have the opposite effect, no doubt encouraging her to take things three steps further by unleashing a couple of nifflers and a medium sized acromantula on the student body too.
“Okay,” Nicole says after a few moments of thought, “but as a Prefect I feel like I should just let you know that I can’t condone that behaviour. Hypothetical, or otherwise.”
Wynonna lets out a huff, absent-mindedly using her wand to levitate a crumpled ball of parchment that lies discarded by the door to a nearby classroom. With a couple of swishes of her wand, the ball swoops around Nicole’s head and then ducks between her legs, before Wynonna vanishes the litter with a final flick of her wand.
“You sound like my sisters,” grumbles Wynonna, her voice laced with distaste.
“I met Waverly the other day,” Nicole says brightly, smiling at the memory of her encounter with the youngest Earp. She’s been replaying that day over and over in her mind since it happened – having wanted to introduce herself to Waverly for a while, she’s now worried that she’s blown her only chance at friendship with the Ravenclaw girl by staring a bit too much in the library and then confessing her love for a sport that it turns out Waverly isn’t just disinterested in, but actively dislikes along with those who play it. “We were both in the library during the Quidditch match.”
Wynonna scowls, no doubt at the memory of losing to Slytherin by just ten points, a result which, from what Nicole has heard from the rest of the school, might have gone the other way if Slytherin hadn’t been awarded penalty after penalty for Wynonna’s bad language and foul play.
“Of course that’s where Waverly was,” Wynonna complains. “Nerd.”
“Hey,” Nicole says, jumping to Waverly’s defence, even when she isn’t around to hear Wynonna insult her. “There’s nothing wrong with actually wanting to complete your homework on time.” Nicole nudges Wynonna’s arm with her elbow and then teases, “You should try it sometime.”
“Boring,” Wynonna shrugs, rolling her eyes. She turns her head to look across at Nicole, eyes alight with mischief and a wicked grin crossing her lips, and then says in a low voice, “There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to release magical creatures into the castle to liven up the school day.”
Nicole thinks that there’s an awful lot wrong with what Wynonna is suggesting but after five years of watching the other girl cause rampant mayhem without a second thought for anybody else in the school, Nicole also knows better than to try to persuade Wynonna otherwise.
“PIXIES? I DON’T EVEN WANT TO KNOW WHERE YOU GOT THOSE FROM!”
As Aunt Gus’s voice echoes throughout the Great Hall, Waverly shrinks down into her seat and tries to pretend that she doesn’t exist. The Howler isn’t even for her – it hovers opposite Waverly in front of Wynonna, who is paying more attention to the plate of waffles that keeps refilling itself in front of her than to the spitting red envelope that scolds her for her latest wrongdoing loud enough for everybody in the Great Hall to be able to hear it.
It’s not unusual. Wynonna probably receives a Howler from Aunt Gus about two to three times each school year, hence why she is more interested in her breakfast than the screaming envelope. The same can’t be said for the rest of the school. Almost every single pair of eyes in the Great Hall are currently focused on where the two Earp girls are sitting, enraptured as they listen to Aunt Gus reprimand Wynonna.
“ARE YOU INCAPABLE OF GOING A SINGLE WEEK WITHOUT GETTING INTO TROUBLE? I’M IN HALF A MIND TO COME STRAIGHT TO THE CASTLE AND TAKE YOU HOME MYSELF TO SAVE US ALL THE SHAME OF WAITING UNTIL THEY EXPEL YOU!”
“They’re not going to expel me,” Wynonna mutters under her breath, helping herself to a third waffle now that her plate is empty of the first two. “I’m an Earp.”
Waverly loves Wynonna, she really does, but she hates this, hates the gung-ho attitude that Wynonna has where she thinks she can get away with anything and everything just because she’s from a well-known family. She hates how Wynonna somehow manages to get away with far too much, and that even when she doesn’t she seems to take each punishment as a violation of her rights and an excuse for her next misdemeanour to break even more school rules.
Waverly hates how the rest of the school indulges what Wynonna does with more attention than it deserves; how each time Wynonna does something that catches everybody’s attention it ends up being all the school can talk about for days; how Wynonna’s escapades somehow makes Waverly more interesting, not because she’s Waverly and people finally want to get to know her, but because she’s Wynonna’s sister and everybody is suddenly interested in talking to her as if hoping that she can give them an inside scoop on Wynonna’s life.
She hates it.
“WHAT WOULD YOUR PARENTS THINK?”
Wynonna lets her fork drop to her plate with a clatter and looks up at Waverly, exasperation in her eyes as she says, “And there is it.” With her hands now free, Wynonna flips off the Howler with both middle fingers just as the envelope bursts into flames and its ashen remains drift down to the table. “Guilt-tripping me with the dead parent card isn’t going to stop me from doing anything.”
With the Howler now gone and the rest of the school back to muttering softly as they continue to point and stare at where the two youngest Earp girls sit, Wynonna returns her undivided attention to her food, not even looking up as somebody new approaches and joins them for breakfast.
“A Howler before Halloween?” says the newbie - one of Wynonna’s band of misfits, seventh year Doc Holliday - as he drops onto the bench next to Waverly. “Is that a new record, Earp?”
“Nah, remember my second year?” Wynonna replies through a mouthful of waffle.
Doc grimaces and then replies drily, “I’d really rather not.”
Wynonna looks up from her breakfast, and then immediately starts choking on the food in her mouth. Her face turns a deep red colour, not too dissimilar from the Howler that was so recently screaming at her in front of an audience of the entire school, and as she coughs and splutters, Wynonna reaches for her goblet of pumpkin juice and takes a long swig to wash the food down.
“Okay,” Wynonna rasps, when she’s finally regained a small amount of her composure, “what the hell is that?”
It takes a few moments for Doc to realise that Wynonna is addressing him and when he does, he responds, “What the hell is what?”
“That!” Wynonna answers, as if it is obvious. Waverly, about as confused as Doc seems to be, looks at her sister expectantly with her own breakfast now forgotten. When Doc continues to stare blankly at her, Wynonna rolls her eyes and gestures to her own upper lip as she says, “On your face! The … you know…”
Waverly switches her attention to Doc and her eyes widen as she notices the patchy teenage fuzz masquerading as a moustache on his upper lip. She manages to refrain from laughing, but she can certainly see why Wynonna, being the person that she is and with the level of tact that she doesn’t have, managed to nearly suffocate on her own breakfast at the sight.
Clearly proud of his own attempts at growing a moustache, Doc scowls at Wynonna as he says, “It’s called facial hair.”
Wynonna has the audacity to actually snort.
“I’m pretty sure that my Great Aunt Cassie has more facial hair than you.”
“Oh,” says Doc, leaning across the table and tilting his head to the side as he quips back, “it runs in the women in your family, does it?” He sits up straight once more, using his fingertips to stroke the fuzz on his top lip, then continues with an air of pride, “This is a sign of my masculinity.”
“Oh please,” Wynonna rolls her eyes as she picks up her fork and aggressively stabs at a chunk of waffle on her plate. “I’ve seen you naked and it’s gonna take a lot more than a pathetic moustache before you’re anything close to mascul-“
“Sorry, what?” Waverly interjects, her eyes wide as she processes Wynonna’s words and the flippancy with which she says them. “You’ve seen Doc naked?”
“Yeah,” Wynonna shrugs as if this is old news. “Problem?”
“You and him?” Waverly asks, eyes flickering between the pair of them and her face slowly screwing up in disgust as her mind floods with images that are enough to put her off the rest of her breakfast. “You’ve … but I thought that you and Dolls were…”
A trace of incredulity crossing her face, Wynonna replies, “Me and Dolls are not…”
“You and Dolls aren’t what?”
As if sensing that he is being talked about, Dolls chooses that exact moment to join the conversation, hovering behind Wynonna’s shoulder as his eyes move between the three of them seated at the table, expectantly waiting for one of them to give him an answer. When none of them do, he lets it drop with a shrug, tapping Wynonna on the shoulder and gesturing with his other hand towards the doors out of the Great Hall.
“Anyway, come on Earp,” he says. “We’ve got Transfiguration in twenty minutes and I’d bet my wand that you haven’t finished the homework yet.”
“We had homework?” moans Wynonna, getting to her feet in a hurry and swinging her schoolbag over her shoulder. “Shit…”
Waverly tuts softly under her breath and watches in amusement as Wynonna grabs another waffle with her hand and starts eating it as she chases Dolls out of the Great Hall.
“Well that’s my cue to leave,” grumbles Doc, his voice noticeably gloomier as her stares after Wynonna and Dolls. While Waverly has absolutely no interest in hearing any of the sordid details about her sister’s personal life, the revelation that she and Doc have had something going on between them, no matter how brief of an affair it might have been, along with the look of resentment that fills Doc’s eyes as he stares after Wynonna means that Waverly can’t help but wonder if there is something more complex going on between Wynonna and her two closest male friends.
Doc leaves with a glum expression on his face, swinging his legs over the bench and getting to his feet before trudging out of the Great Hall with his hands buried deep in the pockets of the grey uniform trousers he wears beneath his school robes.
Watching him leave, Waverly’s eyes fall on a familiar redheaded Hufflepuff approaching where she now sits alone, and the sight is enough to turn the corners of Waverly’s lips up into a smile and push all thought of Wynonna’s hypothetical love triangle out of her mind.
“Where is Wynonna off to in such a hurry?” Nicole says, dropping into Wynonna’s recently vacated seat across the table from Waverly, her eyes still glued to Wynonna’s back as the middle Earp girl almost sends two first years flying in her urgency to leave the Great Hall.
“She forgot to do her Transfiguration homework,” answers Waverly, adding as a mumbled afterthought, “Again.”
“Your sister continues to baffle me,” says Nicole, shaking her head disapprovingly, though the trace of a smile that crosses her lips puts her disapproval in an oh-that’s-so-Wynonna kind of way.
“You mean how after five years she still hasn’t realised that she could avoid detention by actually doing her homework?” Waverly asks. She rolls her eyes, though by this point she has moved way past irritation at her sister’s behaviour, and almost beyond desperation too, into boredom at the repetition of Wynonna’s lack of consideration for school rules. “Or the fact that the public humiliation of getting a Howler from our aunt seems to do nothing to stop her from pulling idiotic stunts like releasing a swarm of pixies into the Great Hall during the evening feast?”
Nicole grimaces as she replies, “I feel at least partially responsible for that one. She told me about her plans and I didn’t try very hard to convince her not to do it.”
“Don’t beat yourself up about it,” Waverly reassures Nicole. “I’m not sure you could have said anything to stop her.”
Nicole laughs softly in agreement, a pretty laugh that fills Waverly’s heart with a warmth that she decides that she wants to feel over and over again. As her laughter falls away, Nicole’s gaze flickers up, her brown eyes wide and filled with a doe-like innocence as she looks at Waverly.
“Anyway, enough about Wynonna, how are you?”
Though the question, at least Waverly assumes so from the expression on Nicole’s face, has no deeper intention than genuine interest in Waverly’s life, it still takes her aback. After their first meeting, Waverly had been certain that any future interactions with Nicole wouldn’t stretch further than perhaps a nod of acknowledgement in the other’s direction as they pass in the corridors, particularly considering Waverly’s accidental rudeness with her comments about Quidditch players. It’s enough of a surprise that Nicole has made the choice to come and talk to her at breakfast at all – indeed Waverly presumed that Nicole just wanted the hot gossip about Wynonna’s latest escapades – let alone the fact that she is showing an interest in Waverly.
“I’m … I’m good, thanks,” she replies, her mouth a little dry as she stumbles over even the most basic of answers in her surprise. “And you?”
“Not too bad,” answer Nicole. Reaching a hand up to her own neck, Nicole tilts her head to the side and winces, before she says, “My neck aches a little though … you know, from holding up my giant head.”
Waverly lets out a low groan and covers her eyes with one hand as she shakes her head. Letting her hand fall back down to her side, Waverly says, “I really cannot apologise enough for what I said about Quidditch players.”
“Apology accepted,” says Nicole. A slow grin starts to spread across her face and Waverly lets herself relax, until Nicole’s expression turns serious and she adds, “but on one condition.”
With her heart racing inside her chest, Waverly fights a wave of panic as she asks, “What’s that?”
Nicole leans across the table, and though the pause before she speaks has Waverly almost trembling in anticipation, her voice is full of teasing undertones when she finally speaks.
“You come and watch me play the next time that Hufflepuff have a game.”
Waverly sighs in relief and then nods, “Deal.”
“Waverly,” says Nicole, feigning seriousness and tilting her head to the side slightly as she leans closer. “I’m going to have to ask you to calm it down with the enthusiasm.”
Waverly sighs again exaggeratedly for comedic effect and then fights back a smile as she looks at Nicole and says, “The things I do for friendship.”
The slow grin that spreads across Nicole’s face at the word friendship is so pure that Waverly wants to capture it in her memory forever. It’s almost as if Nicole can’t quite believe that Waverly wants to be friends with her, a thought which stuns Waverly because she can’t quite comprehend why Nicole would choose to join her for breakfast, when she presumably has so many other friends from her own year group that she could sit with instead.
“What’s your first class?” Nicole asks, as Waverly finishes the final mouthful of her breakfast as sets her cutlery down on the plate.
“Defence Against the Dark Arts.”
“Can I walk you to class?” asks Nicole, almost breathlessly.
Waverly freezes up in shock, though not in a bad way. Definitely not in a bad way. She’s struck once again by how innocent Nicole’s request is, and wonders immediately why she’s wasted the last four years at Hogwarts seeking the approval of literally everybody else in the castle when all it takes is one wide-eyed Muggleborn for her to suddenly feel incredibly valued as an individual. Not even Champ, with his slightly ill-placed yet well-meaning affection, has ever filled Waverly with this kind of warmth before.
“I’d like that,” Waverly agrees with a shy smile. “But don’t you have your own class to get to.”
“It’s fine,” Nicole dismisses Waverly with a casual flick of her hand as she gets to her feet once more. “It’s on the way.”
Waverly is pretty certain that Nicole is in the same Transfiguration class that Wynonna and Dolls have first thing this morning, and despite knowing that the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom is two floors higher and in the opposite wing of the castle to Transfiguration – definitely not on the way at all – she agrees regardless.
Waverly follows Nicole out of the rapidly emptying Great Hall and the pair fall into stride out in the Entrance Hall as they walk towards the Grand Staircase.
“So.” Nicole starts, “it’s the Hogsmeade trip next weekend. Are you going?”
“Yeah,” answers Waverly. “I think I’m supposed to be going with Champ.”
As they step onto the first moving staircase, Nicole turns to look at Waverly, her eyebrows raised in surprise.
“Champ … Champ Hardy? You two are still…?”
Waverly nods, and then says, “Uh huh. Six and a half months.”
Nicole’s eyes widen and she stares out into the distance for a few seconds as the staircase comes to a shuddering halt beneath them. She waits until they have started walking again, taking a door that leads out of the central staircase and into the part of the castle where the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom is, before speaking again.
“Things are pretty serious then?”
Waverly shrugs, leading the way along a narrow corridor and then up a twisting spiral staircase before answering, “I … I guess so.”
“No need to sound so enthusiastic, Waves,” Nicole says, any sign of whatever it was that crossed her face when she learned about Waverly and Champ gone as she shoots Waverly a teasing smile and nudges her elbow against Waverly’s arm. Waverly’s eyes widen at the unexpected pet name, which Nicole seems to immediately take as a bad thing, rushing into a hasty apology. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to … can I call you that?”
The rush of affection that Waverly feels for Nicole upon hearing the nickname intensified by the fact that it just slipped out by accident, is unlike anything that Waverly has felt in a very long time, and she nods shyly.
“I like it.”
Nicole relaxes visibly, letting out a long sigh of relief just as they reach the door to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, where Waverly can already see some of her classmates beginning to settle into their seats beyond the classroom door.
“Well, here we are,” Waverly says brightly, not exactly sure what the etiquette is for thanking a budding new friend for accompanying her to class. For going completely out of her own way to walk Waverly to class, despite having her own lesson in a different part of the castle to get to, and particularly after Waverly did the exact opposite of giving Nicole a reason to want to be such a good friend during their first meeting. “Thank you so much. You really didn’t have to do this.”
“I know I didn’t,” agrees Nicole. “But I wanted to.”
They hover awkwardly at the door to the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, neither one quite sure how to part ways. Waverly has never had the pleasure of being walked to class before and she isn’t really sure how to say goodbye – does she walk into class and then Nicole leaves, or should she wait for Nicole to leave before she enters the classroom?
Nicole is the one who finally puts an end to it.
“Well, I should go,” she says, and Waverly thinks that the reluctance that she hears edging its way into Nicole’s tone could be more than just wishful thinking on her part. “I have to get to Transfiguration.”
“Okay,” nods Waverly, taking a slow step backwards towards the classroom door as she lifts a hand to wave goodbye. “Bye, Nicole.”
Hogsmeade never fails to leave Nicole in a stunned state of awe. Every trip feels like the first one and the excitement of walking down the path from the castle in the midst of a swarm of students and seeing the picturesque little village with its crooked buildings and winding streets come into view has Nicole’s heart doing little flips in her chest as she imagines what the day has in store.
Hogsmeade has an old-fashioned kind of charm to it. The buildings are small and quaint; wooden signs swing in the breeze above the entrances to shops, smoke drifts up from crooked chimney pipes atop tiled roofs, and the window of Honeydukes displays shelf upon shelf of glass jars filled with coloured sweets like an old Victorian shop. Yet there’s something so incredibly special about the magic that brings Hogsmeade to life and sets it apart from the small Muggle villages dotted across the British countryside.
Nicole, along with what feels like every other Hogwarts student visiting the village, spends the first hour of her trip in Honeydukes. It takes that long to make it around the entire shop, what with how many teenagers are crammed into such a tiny space, but even when Nicole finally makes her way out of the busy shop and back onto the cobbled streets, her hands and pockets overflowing with paper bags full of a colourful assortment of all kinds of treats, Nicole is still certain that there must be at least one kind of wizarding confectionary that she’s been meaning to try but has missed out on due to the sheer number of students crowding the shelves in Honeydukes.
Bidding farewell to two of her closest friends in Hufflepuff, who have both arranged to meet their boyfriends in the disgustingly frilly teashop down one of the side streets off Hogsmeade’s main road, Nicole ambles down the street alone, basking in the crisp autumn breeze that hits her face and the aura of magic that fills the air.
A voice shouting her name catches Nicole’s attention and she spends a few seconds looking around for its owner, finally catching sight of Waverly Earp standing outside one of the shops. Waverly is bundled up in a thick cloak, her blue and bronze Ravenclaw scarf, and a pair of fluffy earmuffs, and she bounces up and down on her toes as she waves eagerly to get Nicole’s attention.
“Waverly, hi!” Nicole tries not to seem too eager as she bounds over to Waverly. Glancing around, Nicole frowns at the fact that Waverly is by herself and asks, “No Champ?”
Waverly gestures over her shoulder with her thumb and Nicole’s insides sink with the weight of a heavy anchor as she peers through the glass shopfront behind Waverly, where she can see Champ Hardy amongst a group fo boys laughing at something on one of the shelves inside.
“Apparently Champ’s idea of a perfect date is dragging me along while he mucks about with his friends and pays more attention to silly joke shop toys than her does to me,” Waverly says, her tone bitter as she turns to look at Champ through the window, who seems oblivious to the fact that his girlfriend is waiting for him outside the shop.
“Would you rather he took you to Madam Puddifoot’s?” asks Nicole, thinking of her two best friends and the presumably nausea-inducing dates they are on with their own boyfriends.
“Merlin, no!” Waverly answers with a grimace. “Have you seen the inside of that place? It looks like a lace factory exploded.”
Tilting her head to the side, Nicole teases, “Is that not what girls like?”
“You’re a girl,” Waverly quips back, “You tell me.”
It catches Nicole off-guard. Sometimes she forgets that the rest of the world around her is so painfully heterosexual and she tries not to let the surprise show on her face – the very last thing she wants to do is scare Waverly off.
Instead, Nicole takes a deep breath to calm herself down and replies, “I’m not like most girls.”
She’s trying to be cool and mysterious, despite the hammering of her heart, and she thinks that it works because Waverly takes a few seconds to consider Nicole’s words. But then a sly smile crosses Waverly’s lips and she agrees, “No, I guess not,” which flusters Nicole and leaves her feeling the exact opposite of cool and mysterious.
Twitchy and transparent.
Which isn’t exactly the vibe she’s aiming to give off at all.
Nicole takes a couple of deep breaths to calm herself down, an impressive feat considering the question that’s on the tip of her tongue, and then speaks once more.
“I know you’re on a date,” Nicole uses air quotes as she says the word date, causing Waverly to laugh softly and roll her eyes, “but I was on my way to the bookshop if you fancy coming with me?”
“Seriously?” asks Waverly, her head jerking up and her eyes wide in surprise as they search Nicole’s face for any sign that her invitation might not be genuine. When Nicole nods, teeth digging into her lower lips slightly as she awaits a response, Waverly sighs in relief and answers, “Oh thank you, I’d love to. I don’t think I can put up with Champ’s idiotic friends for much longer.”
Nicole can’t stop the grin that spreads across her face as Waverly bounces over to her. Nicole loops her arm through Waverly’s under the pretence of huddling together to ward off the chilly October breeze and Waverly leans into her side as they stroll down the cobbled road towards Tomes and Scrolls, Hogsmeade’s only bookshop.
“So how has your week been?” Nicole asks conversationally.
“Oh, you know,” Waverly answers vaguely, her voice bright. She glances up at Nicole with a knowing expression on her face, before adding, “It’s fifth year.”
Frowning, Nicole asks, “But I can’t imagine that you’re finding the workload too much?”
Waverly hesitates before answering, then confesses with a little tremor in her voice, “I … I kind of love it.”
She lowers her gaze in shame, as if somehow believing that Nicole is going to find her weird and abandon her with Champ and his friends for the rest of the day for enjoying her academic studies, as if they aren’t currently on their way to a bookshop, of all places. Nicole doesn’t consider herself a violent person, in fact she much prefers to work things out with words than with brute force, but she can’t help but find herself filling with a quiet rage along with the urge to hurt whoever has made Waverly feel like it’s not okay for her to enjoy learning.
It’s maybe not intentional, but Nicole clings to Waverly just a little bit tighter with the arm currently linked through Waverly’s, silently communicating her reassurances that it’s okay for Waverly to be completely herself around Nicole.
“What’s your favourite subject?” asks Nicole, encouraging Waverly to speak more about the things that she loves.
Waverly glances up at Nicole briefly, a soft kind of wonder in her eyes as if she can’t quite believe that Nicole is actually interested in getting to know her, then she smiles as she answers happily, “Definitely Ancient Runes. It’s so fascinating, so complex but so rewarding, you know?”
“I … I actually don’t,” admits Nicole. “I didn’t take Runes. I regret it though, choosing Divination was a terrible decision.”
“You took Divination?” Waverly asks, her eyebrows shooting up with such speed that Nicole is surprised they don’t keep going and disappear into her hairline. “That surprises me.”
“Really?” Nicole shrugs, then explains, “I’m Muggleborn so the whole idea of predicting the future is like a childhood fantasy come true. Of course I took Divination.”
“And how did the class compare to the childhood fantasies?”
Laughing and shaking her head at the memories of the complete joke that was three years of Divination classes, Nicole answers truthfully, “It was a complete waste of time, to be honest!”
Upon reaching the bookshop, Nicole reluctantly lets her arm slip free from Waverly’s and pushes open the door, standing aside as she holds it open to let Waverly enter first, who beams at Nicole and mutters a soft thanks in return.
When she follows Waverly inside, Nicole stops and takes a few moments to appreciate her new surroundings. Each towering bookshelf holds hundreds of leather bound books, each book contains thousands upon thousands of words. From spellbooks to advanced potion making, herbology to ancient magical lore, colourfully illustrated children’s books on magical creatures to dusty tomes written in almost forgotten languages, there must be a book on every conceivable subject somewhere in this shop. Nicole could spend a lifetime in here and still barely scratch the surface of the knowledge that is waiting to be uncovered.
But being here with Waverly brings a different kind of excitement. It’s not a date, Nicole has to remind herself every few seconds, because Waverly is just a friend, but Nicole would be lying if she said that she hadn’t meticulously planned out every detail of what a first date with Waverly would entail. And this would be it; a couple of hours in a bookshop where they explore the shelves that are filled with stimuli for an endless number of conversations, how they could get to know each other so well just by walking around this shop and discovering where the other’s interests lie.
Not to mention the fact that Nicole is a hopeless romantic at heart and the throwback to where they first met, surrounded by the high bookshelves of the Hogwarts library, seems to signify something really special to Nicole.
But this is not a date.
It’s so hard to keep telling herself that when Waverly grabs Nicole’s hand with her own mitten-covered one and drags her to the back of the bookshop.
They’re in the Runes section of the bookshop and Nicole barely has any idea what Waverly is saying (something along the lines of a collection of books that she’s been saving up her galleons for) but it doesn’t really matter. Waverly could be talking about a subject that Nicole knows more about than anybody else in the world and the words would still mean nothing because Nicole is far too enraptured by the way that Waverly gesticulates with her arms, far too mesmerised by the passion and the enthusiasm with which Waverly talks, to take notice of the words themselves.
Waverly is beautiful. Of course, Nicole already knew that from a purely objective point of view, but Waverly’s intelligence stretches far beyond any kind of physical beauty. Nicole could be presented with an actual Veela, and she would still think that Waverly, with her quiet charm and otherworldly intellect, is the most beautiful girl on the planet.
Waverly Earp – who even just a couple of weeks ago was nothing more than a stranger, a quiet Ravenclaw in the year below Nicole who always keeps herself to herself, known for being the youngest daughter from a family of famous dark wizard hunters – sharing her passions with Nicole with expressive authenticity, is now just Waverly.
And yet she is so much more than that too.
“Are you okay?”
Waverly’s question brings Nicole out of her own thoughts and she feels a little bit delirious as she answers, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Way more than okay.
It is thirst finally getting the better of them that forces them to leave the bookshop. Though Nicole could quite easily spend the rest of the day in the bookshop with Waverly, listening to the other girl talk about subjects that she’s interested in and moving from one conversation to another with an effortless kind of ease that is just so completely unlike anything that Nicole could find in any of her other friendships, they have to leave eventually, wrapping themselves up in their cloaks and scarves once more before leaving the shop and crossing the street to the Three Broomsticks.
“Thank you for this,” Waverly says, as the pair sit down at a table near the fireplace in the cosy pub, each holding a frothy tankard of butterbeer.
“For what?” Nicole asks, confused as to what she has done to warrant a thank you.
“For saving me from having to spend the day with Champ and his friends,” explains Waverly. She takes a sip of her butterbeer and then, with her teeth anxiously nibbling at her lower lips, continues, “Is it bad that I’m almost glad that he’s with his friends today because it means I don’t have to deal with him one on one?”
Nicole’s eyebrows shoot upwards and she replies, “He’s your boyfriend, isn’t he supposed to be the one person that you want to spend all your time with?”
Waverly’s face falls and she shrugs, before answering, “I guess so. But with Champ it’s just … sometimes I feel like I’m just a piece of arm candy, like he doesn’t actually care about me beyond having somebody to make out with occasionally.” Waverly hesitates, then adds, “And that he can say he’s bagged himself an Earp.”
Nicole reaches across the table and rests her hand over Waverly’s, unable to believe how anybody is capable of making Waverly feel so underappreciated and still be able to sleep at night.
“Waverly,” Nicole says, looking into the other girl’s eyes and speaking with complete honesty. “You’re so much more than some guy’s trophy. Anybody would be lucky to call you their girlfriend. And if Champ Hardy can’t see that, then he doesn’t deserve you.”
Waverly glances down, embarrassed, and makes a noncommittal grunt, so Nicole continues.
“I can’t tell you how to live your life, or who should and shouldn’t have an important place in it,” she tells Waverly, “but if you ever want to complain about boys, or plot how to crush the heteronormative patriarchy, I’m your girl.”
Waverly looks up, a soft smile on her face, and she just opens her mouth to say something in response when the pub door crashes open, letting in a chilly gust of wind as four boys jostle their way inside, led by a familiar figure. Upon seeing her boyfriend, who she abandoned earlier in the day in favour of spending time with Nicole, Waverly sits up straighter and anything she might have been about to say to Nicole goes forgotten.
The boy looks around, searching for the voice that said his name, and when his eyes fall on Waverly and he gapes at her with a dumbfounded expression on his face, Nicole suspects that he might not even have noticed his girlfriend’s absence today at all.
“Oh,” he says. “Waverly. You’re here.”
“Yes,” Waverly answers, her tone brusque, “I am.”
“Who is your friend?” Champ asks, nodding his head in Nicole’s direction.
“This is Nicole,” says Waverly. “We went to look at books together while you were in the joke shop.”
Champ spends a few seconds looking at Nicole, his eyes slightly narrowed as he appraises her briefly, before he relaxes and turns to Waverly with a smile on his face. A stupid, stupid smile that Nicole wants to wipe off with a flick of her wand.
“That’s so cool that you’ve got a friend to do girly stuff with instead of me,” he tells Waverly.
Like Nicole says, she really wants to inflict some physical pain on Champ and her brain is already forming a list of the spells that she could use and ranking them based on a combination of how much embarrassment they would cause Champ and how much pleasure they would give her to use.
But instead of taking out her wand and hexing Champ into the next century, Nicole forces herself to stay calm and asks, “Girly stuff? You mean like reading?”
Waverly’s soft snort from beside her is more than worth any backlash she might face from Champ for that comment. But instead of retaliating with anger, Champ seems to miss the sarcasm in Nicole’s voice entirely, instead taking her by surprise by actually agreeing with her.
“Yeah,” he nods, without a trace of irony in his voice. “Just like that.”
Champ walks closer to their table, closing the gap between himself and Waverly so that he can lean down and press a kiss to her lips, though Waverly turns her head slightly at the last minute so that his mouth lands on her cheek instead. Unperturbed, or perhaps he just didn’t notice Waverly’s lack of enthusiasm for his affection, he straightens up and gets ready to walk over to where his friends stand at the bar waiting to order their drinks.
“See you later, babe,” he says, before he departs.
“I didn’t know that boys couldn’t read,” says Nicole drily, the moment that Champ is out of earshot, “but that explains so much.”
Waverly’s laugh in response, as sweet and smooth as the butterbeer that they drink and such a contrast to the frosty reception she gave to Champ, is possibly the only thing that matters in Nicole’s world.
Nicole fits into Waverly’s life like the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle, but unlike that missing puzzle piece, Waverly didn’t realise that the picture was incomplete until she met Nicole.
Waverly’s social circle has always been enough. Whatever problems there might be elsewhere in her life (being overshadowed by two older sisters, the lack of a Prefect badge on her school robes, an underappreciative boyfriend), her social life has never felt inadequate.
She has her friends in Ravenclaw; Chrissy, Steph, Jeremy, and a few others. Then there’s Wynonna who, despite her total disregard for the rules and her penchant for causing absolute chaos whenever the opportunity arises, is an important part of Waverly’s social life. Along with Doc and Dolls, Waverly often enjoys her sister’s company at meal times – as crass as the conversation topics might be, Waverly gets on well with Wynonna most of the time and has no qualms about hanging out with her sister.
Nicole, however, is a refreshing injection of something new into the otherwise familiar routine of Waverly’s life. She fits in like she’s always supposed to have been there – a new study buddy for those long evenings spent huddled over a pile of books in the library, somebody who occasionally walks Waverly to and from her classes without being asked to, a person to huddle up next to on a bench in one of the courtyards during break, a buffer at mealtimes against the weirdness that is the Wynonna-Dolls-Doc love triangle that none of them seem willing to actually acknowledge. Because Nicole already knows Wynonna and Dolls through their Prefect duties, she fits into that part of Waverly’s life with immense ease, offering up an effortless banter with Wynonna and the boys whilst maintaining the same kind of why the hell do I hang out with these idiots vibe that Waverly feels so strongly in herself too.
The only problem with Nicole’s smooth transition into Waverly’s life is that it makes Champ almost redundant. Which, the more that Waverly thinks about it, doesn’t seem like so much of a problem at all.
Where Champ is weird and dismissive, Nicole is kind and attentive; where Champ seems uninterested in Waverly beyond her looks, Nicole pays attention to every little thing that Waverly says as though her words are giving Nicole life; where Champ will happily blow Waverly off in favour of hanging out with his friends without even a glimmer of remorse, Nicole goes out of her way to ensure that Waverly feels appreciated in everything that she does.
It’s not a fair comparison, in fact it’s not really a comparison at all, when one brings Waverly infinitely more happiness than the other, but it’s one that Waverly’s brain can’t help but make. When she’s with Nicole, Waverly feels guilty about the fact that she should want to be spending this much time with Champ instead, but when she’s with Champ, she can’t stop the way that her brain is counting down the minutes until she can make her excuses and find Nicole instead.
The only thing that she would miss out on by cutting Champ out of her life and replacing him with Nicole would be the making out. And yet, as Waverly shudders at the memory of Champ’s slobbery tongue moving in predictably invasive circles in her mouth, she realises that maybe she wouldn’t be missing out on much at all.
Waverly feels bad for even considering the possibility of ending her relationship with Champ. As irritated as she sometimes gets with his behaviour, he’s never done anything to hurt her. He calls Waverly beautiful when he’s supposed to, he listens to Waverly complain about her sisters, he holds her hand in the hallways and kisses her and pays attention to her when the rest of the school would happily disregard her existence entirely.
All things that used to be enough but now don’t seem like that at all.
And with the imprint that Nicole is making on Waverly’s life increasing with each day, Waverly doesn’t know for how much longer she’s going to be able to put up with Champ before she snaps.
Willa is the one who screws everything up.
Since Nicole has been a part of her life, Waverly is no longer surprised when she leaves a lesson to occasionally find somebody waiting for her outside the classroom. What does surprise her on this particular Thursday afternoon as she leaves the Charms classroom after an especially exciting lesson, is that the person waiting outside for her isn’t wearing the usual yellow and black Hufflepuff colours, but instead the green and silver of Slytherin.
Willa – Head Girl, Seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch team, and one of the most popular girls in the school – does an extraordinary job of pretending that she is the only Earp at Hogwarts. Indeed, Waverly is much easier for her to ignore than Wynonna, but while the younger two Earps share some of the same friends and can often be seen in each other’s company, Willa avoids them both unless absolutely necessary. The result is that Waverly only really interacts with Willa during school holidays.
Which is why it’s so startling that Willa has gone completely out of her way to accost Waverly on this random Thursday afternoon.
“Willa?” Waverly asks confusedly.
Willa’s fingers clasp around Waverly’s wrist, roughly dragging her away from the rest of her classmates and down the hallway, pulling her into a secluded alcove beside a towering statue of a warlock. Waverly has only a few seconds to wonder what is so urgent and secretive to justify the fact that Willa has all but kidnapped her as she left the Charms classroom, before Willa gets straight to her point with no preamble.
“I want to talk about that friend of yours.”
As confused as before, if not more so, Waverly desperately racks her brain for an idea of who Willa might be talking about, then asks, “Which friend?”
“The Hufflepuff girl,” Willa elaborates. “Haught.”
“Nicole?” Waverly’s eyes widen and she gets momentarily distracted by thoughts of how much nicer it would have been to leave her final lesson of the day to find Nicole waiting outside of the classroom instead of Willa. “What about her?”
“People are talking about her,” answers Willa, lowering her voice as if afraid that somebody is going to eavesdrop on their conversation. “There are rumours.”
Waverly’s expression twists into a frown. Gossip has a habit of spreading around Hogwarts faster than one could send an owl from one side of the castle to the other but Waverly hasn’t been privy to any rumours regarding Nicole. If it was something big, she definitely would have heard about it by now, which leads her to believe that whatever rumours Willa is talking about are strictly between her own group of Slytherin’s most elite.
“What kind of rumours?” Waverly dares to ask.
As far as she is concerned, there isn’t anything that could cast a shadow over Nicole’s character – Willa could tell her that Nicole is secretly a wanted criminal who has stolen thousands of galleons from inside the deepest vaults in Gringotts and Waverly would still turn up to her regular Thursday evening studying session in the library with Nicole later tonight. But with the way that Willa looks at her, as if she’s about to tell Waverly something that will change her entire opinion about Nicole, Waverly is almost scared to hear the truth.
“Rumours that she’s…” Willa trails off and cranes her neck slightly, glancing both ways down the corridor from their secluded alcove as if to check that nobody else is around, before she continues, “… that she’s a gay.”
Waverly stills as uncertainty sends an uncomfortable shiver down her spine that feels a little bit like somebody has poured a trickle of icy cold water down the back of her shirt. She’s heard nothing of these rumours before, nor has there been any indication, either from Nicole or from anybody else, that these rumours have any foundation. Waverly has opened up to Nicole a lot in the few weeks that they’ve been friends – she’s told Nicole things about her family, about her own fears and aspirations, that she hasn’t shared with anybody else before – and she’d like to think that if Nicole is gay, that she would feel like she could share that part of her life with Waverly without feeling ashamed of herself.
But the way that Willa currently looks at Waverly, the way that she says the word “gay” as if it leaves a nasty taste in her mouth, doesn’t sit right with Waverly, whether the rumour is true or not.
“And so what if she is?” asks Waverly, folding her arms across her chest defensively as she tries not to let herself feel hurt by the fact that Nicole might be hiding something like this from her.
“People will start to think that you’re one too,” answers Willa, her eyes filling with a look of pure disgust as if she can’t think of anything worse than her sister coming out as gay.
“And?” Waverly repeats, defiantly standing up to Willa despite the pounding of her heart in her chest.
“Waverly, I’m the Head Girl,” Willa says, teeth clenched and her voice barely more than a growl. “I leave Hogwarts in just a few months and I’m applying for really competitive positions within the Ministry of Magic. I can’t afford any blemishes on my record. Being related to Wynonna is bad enough without people thinking that my other little sister is a lesbian. It’s bad for my image.”
“Bad for your image?” scoffs Waverly, raising her voice slightly in disbelief at the complete rubbish that is leaving her sister’s mouth. “Willa, you never even acknowledge me when we’re at Hogwarts. Half the school probably hasn’t even realised that we’re related!”
“Of course they have,” hisses Willa. “We’re Earps.”
And there it is again. Their surname hanging over Waverly’s head like a dark grey cloud, just waiting to send a crackle of lightning down to wreak havoc on her life.
“I’m with Champ,” says Waverly stiffly, adjusting the way that her school bag sits on her shoulder and stepping out of the alcove. “Nicole is just a friend.”
“And you’d do well to stick with Champ and leave Haught behind you.”
Waverly doesn’t turn up to the library that evening to study with Nicole. She makes a list of excuses in her head – that she’s too tired to study, that she’s almost completely caught up with her homework anyway, that she’s been neglecting Champ recently and that he deserves some more of her time – anything but the fact that she might just not be ready to face Nicole after the conversation with Willa earlier today.
The guilt that Waverly feels for avoiding Nicole overwhelms her, but so does the messy tangle of thoughts that won’t stop whirring around inside her head. The truth is that she just doesn’t really want to see Nicole right now.
Though, if Willa is correct, it does hurt a little bit to think that Nicole might have been keeping her sexuality from Waverly, that’s not what stops her from standing Nicole up. What gets to her is the snide comment that Willa made afterwards. People will start to think that you’re one too.
She wants people to know her as Waverly – clever, kind, and ambitious Waverly – not as Willa Earp’s lesbian little sister. She doesn’t want to be the subject of other people’s conversations just because there are rumours about her, least of all rumours that aren’t true. The knowledge that there are people who are talking about Nicole like that, and that people could start talking about her in that way too, especially after looking past all of her incredible accomplishments during the four and a bit years she’s been at Hogwarts, leaves Waverly feeling a little bit queasy.
Waverly adds her unsettled stomach and the fact that she feels as though she might hurl up her dinner at any moment to the mental list of reasons why she’s decided not to join Nicole in the library tonight.
Instead, Waverly spends the evening with Champ, the pair of them sitting on the floor in the darkness of an empty classroom on the second floor of the castle. Champ’s arm drapes around her shoulder and the fingers of his other hand sit intertwined with Waverly’s on their laps, while they just talk and steal the occasional kiss. Champ tells her dumb stories about him and his friends and then listens as Waverly recounts her own day, minus her surprise encounter with Willa.
As time spent with Champ goes, it’s actually not that bad, and Waverly is reminded of the reasons why she’s dating him in the first place, the reasons why it would be unwise to end their relationship. He’s charming when he wants to be, he’s certainly not bad to look at, his kissing technique has improved by strides since they first started going out, and he’s not always a complete idiot one hundred percent of the time.
But it’s not quite an evening spent poring over thick spellbooks with Nicole.
It’s also not an evening that is going to start any unsolicited rumours about Waverly’s own sexuality, Waverly is quick to remind herself almost as soon as her mind wanders and starts to mourn the loss of her typical Thursday night.
Waverly and Champ leave their hiding place fifteen minutes before curfew, sneaking a couple more kisses in the seclusion of the moonlit classroom, before they step out into the corridor and slowly amble along it with their laced fingers swinging between them as they walk.
So caught up in the deep abyss of her own mind, Waverly doesn’t notice the figure walking ahead of them until it’s too late and Champ has already pointed her out.
“Isn’t that your friend?” he asks, gesturing down the hallway, and Waverly glances up, jolted out of her own daydreams by the sight of Nicole’s red hair pushed back into its familiar braid. Before Waverly has the chance to say anything, Champ is cupping his free hand around his mouth to amplify his voice as he shouts out, “Hey! Haught!”
As Nicole stops walking and turns around on the spot, Waverly’s body is overrun with chills. And not the nervous excitement, butterflies-in-stomach, good kind of chills, but the uncomfortable I’ve-just-had-a-bucket-of-icy-water-dumped-on-my-head kind of chills.
It’s suddenly as though all of the mental progress that she’s made with Champ tonight has disintegrated. His hand, fingers intertwined with Waverly’s, suddenly feels clammy in her own, and just the sight of Nicole has Waverly feeling guilty for choosing to give the time that she should have spent with Nicole to Champ. She knows immediately that it was a mistake, but as soon as that thought crosses her mind, she is reminded of what Willa said.
People will start to think that you’re one too.
“Waverly,” says Nicole, breaking the silence as soon as Waverly and Champ are close enough to hold a normal conversation. “I was kind of hoping to see you in the library tonight.”
“Oh crap, is it Thursday?” Waverly feigns confusion, though she can tell from the look of disappointment that crosses Nicole’s face that she isn’t buying it for even a second. Attempting to justify her choices, she continues, “I … I didn’t really have any work to do tonight. I’m all caught up on homework.”
Champ, as oblivious to what Waverly is feeling as ever, interjects with a smarmy grin, “And she wanted to spend time with me, right babe?”
Waverly responds with a noncommittal murmur which Champ seems to interpret as an agreement, if the way that his hand tightens in hers is anything to go by. He shifts their positions, stepping behind Waverly and wrapping both arms around her middle as he rests his chin on her shoulder, and though Waverly knows he’s just trying to be affectionate, just being Champ, she can’t help but feel like the affection is a little too territorial for Waverly to feel entirely comfortable in his arms.
She feels trapped, both physically and emotionally.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around,” says Nicole, as she turns around and starts to walk away in the direction of the Hufflepuff common room.
The hurt is evident in Nicole’s voice and it stings in Waverly’s heart like she’s been stabbed with a vicious knife. She wants to apologise for bailing on their weekly study session, but her throat clams up the moment she even considers doing saying something. With Champ behind her, his arms wrapped possessively around her, the friendship with Nicole that has been blossoming so beautifully in the last few weeks seems almost like a distant memory.
Champ’s arms around her waist feel foreign, and as she watches Nicole retreat down the corridor, Waverly can’t help but feel like it’s more than just her friend walking away from her, that something else is leaving her too.
Waverly still isn’t feeling herself the following morning, and she spends breakfast sitting in complete silence, contemplating all of the events of the last twenty four hours while she nibbles half-heartedly on a slice of buttered toast. There’s a conversation going on around her – Wynonna doing her usual morning routine of winding up Doc and Dolls – but Waverly doesn’t feel like joining in. And with her mind cycling through thoughts of Willa and Nicole and Champ faster than she knows how to comprehend it, she isn’t really capable of joining in even if she wants to.
It takes a few minutes, but once she’s finally got bored of the boys, Wynonna seems to notice that Waverly is gloomier than usual.
“What’s crawled up your butt?”
Waverly doesn’t feel like sharing the full truth with Wynonna – as much as she knows that she can always trust Wynonna to have her back, she doesn’t need the pressure of worrying what another person might be thinking about her.
Shrugging noncommittally, Waverly answers vaguely, “Just something that Willa said to me yesterday.”
Wynonna wrinkles up her nose and says, “And I was hoping that you’d finally broken up with that pathetic sack of shit you call a boyfriend.”
Wynonna has always been rather vocal with her opinions about Waverly and Champ’s lack of compatibility, but right now, when Waverly’s own mind is filled with seeds of doubt anyway, it’s not exactly what she wants to hear this morning.
“You can do better,” insists Wynonna, reaching across the table to rest her hand over Waverly’s. “Way better.”
Waverly glances down at the half-eaten piece of toast on her plate, having lost her appetite completely, and admits sadly, “Nobody else is going to date an Earp.”
“Not true,” says Wynonna. She nudges Doc with her elbow to get his attention, and then says, “You’re into Earps, aren’t you, Holliday?”
“Gross,” Waverly screws up her face. She likes Doc, likes the role her has in their group and the way that he can lift up Wynonna’s mood when she’s having a bad day, but Waverly would never see him as anything other than a good friend. “Doc’s not my type.”
“Oh, baby girl,” Wynonna laughs. “I wasn’t offering him to you.” Wynonna lifts her fork to her mouth and manages to fit half a sausage in her mouth in one go, before she adds, her words muffled by the food, “And just for the record, don’t listen to a word that Willa says.”
“She just…” Waverly sighs, and then says, “Apparently there are people who might be saying things about me. She told me to be careful about how others might perceive me.”
“You’d be better off taking advice from a steaming pile of dragon shit than from our sister,” Wynonna tells her, as eloquent as ever, gesturing emphatically with her fork.
It’s meant as a reassurance, and though the words fall slightly short of that, knowing that Wynonna has got her back might just be enough to help Waverly through another day of fighting against her own mind.
Waverly still feels like crap the next morning too.
It’s Saturday, but not only that, it’s the day of the Quidditch match between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Waverly stays in bed, the curtains drawn around her four-poster and all four of her blankets pulled tightly over her shoulders as she nestles in their cocooning warmth. She can hear her fellow fifth-year Ravenclaw girls getting ready for the match, excitedly chatting about their predictions for the match and how hot one the Ravenclaw Seeker is as they wrap up in cloaks and their blue and bronze scarves.
When she hears them leave for breakfast, the dormitory door clattering shut behind them, Waverly rolls over in her bed and lets out a long sigh. She feels terrible about not going to the Quidditch match but the very last thing she wants to spend her day surrounded by crowds of her fellow students when Willa’s words, still raw in her mind, have her constantly worrying that any little action could have everybody spreading lies about her.
Nicole’s face swims to the front of Waverly’s mind and a fresh wave of guilt washes over her. She knows that Nicole is expecting her to be at the game today – she made that promise when they first started spending time with each other and Nicole has dropped a couple of hints in the last few weeks that she’d like to see Waverly there. Nicole even suggested that this particular match between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, the only game in the Hogwarts Quidditch calendar in which neither of her sisters will be in the air, should be the one that Waverly chooses to come to.
But she just can’t bring herself to go.
It’s not just the crowds. By not going to the match at all, Waverly doesn’t have to choose a side. She feels as though she would be letting Nicole down by turning up dressed in blue, but openly supporting Hufflepuff against her own house would just be adding fuel to Willa’s fire.
She doesn’t want to let Nicole down, but Willa is her sister, and no matter how hard she tries not to, she can’t help but want Willa’s approval too, even if the oldest Earp is far from worthy of it.
Waverly spends the whole day in bed feeling sorry for herself, only dragging herself out in time for dinner, where she sits with Chrissy and Steph after mumbling something about cramps to excuse herself for not being at the Quidditch match.
She spares a glance for Nicole, who sits with her Hufflepuff teammates, cheeks flushed and damp hair hanging down her back as they celebrate their victory. Knowing that Nicole won doesn’t appease Waverly’s guilt.
If anything, it makes it worse.
About thirty minutes before the evening curfew, Waverly finally decides that she’s had enough. She throws on an oversized sweater and leaves Ravenclaw tower alone, taking the long route down to the ground floor of the castle and past the school kitchens until she finds herself standing outside the Hufflepuff common room.
Not knowing the password to get in, Waverly has to wait for five minutes for somebody to arrive – a fourth year boy with his arms laden with drinks and treats, presumably for a party that’s taking place to celebrate Hufflepuff’s victory in the Quidditch match.
“Hi,” Waverly says to him as he passes. “Could you see if Nicole Haught is in there? I need to speak to her.”
He nods and disappears inside the common room.
It’s another couple of minutes, ones that feel like they drag on for hours, before Nicole emerges from the Hufflepuff common room. Her cheeks are pink, she holds a bottle of butterbeer in one hand, but the smile drops off her face when she sees Waverly nervously shifting her weight from one foot to the other outside the Hufflepuff common room.
“Hey,” says Waverly. Gesturing with a tilt of her head to the drink in Nicole’s hand and the Hufflepuff scarf draped around her neck, she adds, “Congratulations.”
“Hi,” Nicole frowns in confusion. “What are you doing here? Not that I’m not glad to see you, but I wasn’t expecting this.”
Taking a deep breath before she speaks, Waverly says, “I want to apologise. I made you a promise and today I broke that promise.”
Nicole’s expression remains confused for a few seconds, before it hits and she nods understandingly as she says, “You weren’t at the Quidditch match.”
“Nicole, I’m so…
“No,” Nicole interrupts her, taking a step forward and reaching out with the hand not curled around the bottle to touch Waverly reassuringly on her slumped shoulder. “You don’t need to apologise to me. I’m not stupid – I know there’s something going on in that head of yours. You haven’t seemed yourself the last couple of days and I understand completely that watching a Quidditch match is the last thing you’d want to do if there’s something troubling you, whether it’s a Champ thing or and Earp thing…”
Overcome by Nicole’s blind compassion, Waverly feels guiltier than ever before for almost pushing her friend away. Knowing that Nicole deserves a full explanation for her unusual behaviour, Waverly interjects, “It’s actually a you thing.”
Nicole’s jaw drops open and her eyebrows furrow together once more, before she asks, “A me thing?”
Waverly hesitates before she elaborates. She doesn’t want to seem accusatory or upset with Nicole because that’s the very last thing that she’s feeling right now, but Nicole has clearly noticed that Waverly has been off with her and she deserves to know why.
“Willa accosted me the other day,” says Waverly, pushing past the nerves that cause her heart to flutter and her fingers to fidget with the sleeves of her baggy sweater that hang down over her hands. “She said that there’s rumours going around the school about you.” Waverly glances down at the floor, then back up at Nicole, nibbling her lower lip anxiously before she continues, “Rumours that you’re … gay.”
Nicole’s answer is short and reveals nothing but her own surprise.
Eager to make things right with Nicole, Waverly presses on, “I don’t care about that. I don’t need to know whether that’s true or not, but…”
“I am,” Nicole interrupts her. “Gay, I mean.”
Waverly nods, swallowing as she processes this new piece of information, before she replies gratefully, “I appreciate you sharing that with me.” She continues, “But that’s not why I’ve been distant. Sure, it was a bit of a shock when Willa first told me, but you’re my friend and that’s not going to change because of this. But Willa told me that the more time I spend with you, the more people are starting to spread those rumours about me too.”
Hurt flashes across Nicole’s eyes and Waverly wishes that she knew how to make it go away, wishes that she knew a spell that could make all of this trouble disappear and return their friendship to how it was just a few short days ago.
But there isn’t a spell that can do that, so Waverly has to attempt to do the same with her words.
“I’m having a lot of thoughts about where I stand with Champ right now,” confesses Waverly. “A lot of doubt about whether I can see a future with him and I’m just not equipped to handle people spreading rumours about me on top of that.”
It’s barely even a glimpse into the world of confusion that Waverly feels like she wading through right now, but it’s all that she can find the words to explain right now. And thankfully, from the way that Nicole is nodding and sending her reassuring smiles, it’s just about enough.
“I understand that,” she tells Waverly, nodding in understanding. “It must be very overwhelming.”
“You’re my friend, Nicole,” says Waverly, a lump forming in her throat that make it difficult to speak without choking, “and I’ve been pushing you away for reasons that you don’t deserve.”
Without any hesitation, Nicole steps forward to close the gap between them and wraps her arms around Waverly. Waverly relaxes into the embrace and lets her head fall to Nicole’s shoulder, burying her face into the soft wool of the scarf draped around Nicole’s neck and screwing her eyes shut to stop that tears that threaten to cascade down her cheeks.
“Waves,” Nicole says softly, running a soothing hand through the hair on the back of Waverly’s head, “I understand that you might not always want to talk to me about what’s going on in your head, but don’t ever feel like you can’t talk to me.”
“What did I do to deserve a friend like you?” Waverly mumbles into Nicole’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for pushing you away.”
“You have nothing to apologise for,” Nicole assures her. As she releases Waverly from her hug and takes a step back so that she can look Waverly in the eye, she continues, “You’re with Champ. I know that this is easy for me to say, but if people can’t respect that then they aren’t worth your time.” A mischievous smile lights up Nicole’s face as she adds, “Plus, I’ve been spending too much time with Wynonna lately and she may have taught me a couple of banned hexes and I’d be happy to break a few school rules by using them on anybody who causes you some trouble.”
“You wouldn’t,” Waverly says, smiling softly for what is probably the first time in days. Waverly takes a step back, lifting her arm up to check the time on the dainty silver watch around her wrist. “Oh rats! Speaking of school rules, I was supposed to be back in Ravenclaw Tower five minutes ago.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s Wynonna’s turn to patrol that part of the castle tonight,” Nicole informs her. “If I know her at all, she’ll be making out with somebody in a broom closet instead of doing her duties.”
Waverly screws up her face at the thought of Wynonna getting handsy with Doc Holliday in a secluded corner of the school after hours, though a small part of her hopes that what Nicole is saying is true if it’ll mean Waverly avoids getting into trouble for wandering around the castle at such a late hour.
“See you around, Waverly,” says Nicole, as Waverly departs with a tiny wave. “I’ll see you soon. I’m always going to still be here, no matter how long it takes you to figure out what’s going on in your head.
Waverly doesn’t know what she did to deserve a friend like Nicole.
For those of you thinking that Champ is overstaying his welcome in this fic (he totally is!), Waverly is finally going to get rid of him in the next chapter.
Until then, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!
Waverly dumps Champ on a Wednesday morning.
It happens in the middle of Potions class, one of the few classes that she and Champ share. They've been partners all year, sitting next to each other and sharing a cauldron for many of the projects that the professor sets for them to attempt in class. (Waverly's grade for the year so far is only a mid Exceeds Expectations, while Champ's is inexplicably high for somebody with so few brain cells.) And Potions, a class where at least half of the work they do in class is practical and allows for conversations, is the perfect class for Waverly to share with her boyfriend because they can talk while they follow the instructions for the newest potion and attempt to brew it correctly.
Not on this particular Wednesday morning.
"Oh, you know your friend?" Champ says suddenly, as Waverly glances over his shoulder to check that he's chopping up their ingredients to a high enough standard, while she supervises the correct stirring of the cauldron that is giving off rich purple fumes as it bubbles and smoulders as per the instructions. "Haught?"
Waverly's head snaps up when she hears Nicole's name. The two of them are pretty much back to normal, though Waverly is still cautious about the amount of time she spends with Nicole and how it might be perceived by others, while Nicole continues to be the most unnecessarily understanding person on the planet.
"What about her?"
"So I heard this rumour that she's into girls," says Champ.
Waverly stiffens. Since hearing from Willa that Nicole's sexuality is the subject of conversations between people who have never even taken the time to speak to her, Waverly has heard a few whisperings around the castle. Thankfully nothing particularly nasty has befouled Waverly's ears, but it still makes her incredibly uncomfortable to hear other people talking about one of her closest friends as if they deserve a say on the matter.
"Nicole's sexual preference is nobody's business except her own," Waverly tells Champ coldly.
"Hey, chill!" Champ responds defensively, holding both hands, including the one that holds the small knife from chopping up ingredients, aloft in a mock surrender. "I'm just saying, it's kind of hot, don't you think? A girl making out with another girl? I'd pay a few galleons to watch that kind of action."
Champ's snigger is the final straw for Waverly, the way that he looks at her with a smarmy grin as if expecting Waverly to agree that she finds herself turned on at the concept of Nicole and another girl.
"You know what Champ," Waverly raises her voice a little bit, forgetting both that they are in middle of a full classroom and that they are supposed to be brewing a potion whose success depends entirely on Waverly stirring it with the correct motions for the next ten minutes. "You are such a pig!"
"What's your problem?" asks Champ, letting the knife drop to the table and turning to Waverly with his hands planted on his hips.
"You're disgusting, that's what!"
"Well at least I'm not saying that it's not normal like everybody else is doing!" Champ attempts to defend himself. "At least I'm being supportive."
Waverly could hex him. In fact, if they weren't in the middle of a Potions class where it would almost certainly get her deducted several house points and possibly a detention, she would hex him.
"Fetishising sexual attraction between two women does not making you supportive, it makes you a dick!"
"It was just a joke!" Champ holds his hands up. The tone of his voice deflecting the blame onto Waverly as if it is her fault for not agreeing with him, he continues, "Why do you have to overreact so much?"
"I'm not overreacting," Waverly answers indignantly, not quite able to process the level of dragon shit that is leaving Champ's mouth. "Nicole is my friend, and unlike every other moron in this school, I don't give a crap who she fancies."
"Calm down," Champ says. "Let's just forget I said anything."
He reaches out with one hand and rests it on Waverly's arm in an attempt at a truce, but it's the last straw for Waverly. She can't associate herself with somebody who talks about her friends like that, particularly the one friend who has stuck beside her through the recent turmoil of emotions in Waverly's mind.
"No," Waverly shakes her head conclusively, the decision already made. "I'm not just going to forget what a prat you are. And you know what, I don't want to associate myself with somebody who makes such disgusting remarks about a close friend of mine. We're done, Champ."
And as if to add emphasis to her point, echoing the celebratory fireworks that are going off in Waverly's mind at the realisation that she's finally brought herself to break up with Champ, the cauldron that she's been neglecting to stir while arguing with Champ promptly explodes in a cloud of purple smoke.
Word travels around Hogwarts fast. So fast that when Waverly sits down for lunch with Wynonna and Dolls barely an hour after the exploding cauldron incident, during which Waverly received the worst telling off she's ever had at Hogwarts from their Potions professor and then spent forty five minutes in the Hospital Wing being treated for minor burns, Wynonna already knows that Waverly and Champ are no more.
"So I hear you finally gave Chump the dump."
If it was anybody other than Wynonna, anybody with a little more tact, they would have tried to hide the glee from their face. As it is, Wynonna is more animated than Waverly has seen her in a while and she knows that the grin on her sister's face has only a little bit to do with the fact that there are donuts on offer for dessert today.
Waverly is feeling surprisingly unaffected by the breakup. Maybe it's too soon for her to have fully processed it yet, maybe her mind is still reeling from the explosion of their cauldron. Or maybe she just genuinely isn't bothered that she's no longer calling Champ her boyfriend. Whatever the reason for her indifference, it means that Wynonna's apparent joy at her little sister's return to the single life doesn't bother her either.
"It was an explosive breakup," Waverly acknowledges. "Literally. Our cauldron blew up."
Wynonna grins and Waverly doesn't think she's ever seen her sister look so proud of her.
"Nice," says Wynonna. She ponders thoughtfully and then continues, "I'm going to use that one in the future - when there's a guy I can't get rid of, blow something up in his face." Pausing only momentarily, Wynonna grins and raises her eyebrows suggestively as she concludes drily, "Makes a change from things exploding in my face."
Waverly wrinkles her face up in disgust and ignores the last past of Wynonna's comment as she says with a pout, "It's not funny. We failed the class and we have to go to the Potions classroom on Friday after classes finish to attempt the potion again."
Wynonna's jaw drops open and her cutlery clatters to her plate. Even Dolls, who always seems so serious to Waverly, raises his eyebrows in surprise.
"Waverly Earp," asks Wynonna, leaning across the table with genuine intrigue on her face, "have you got a detention?"
"It's not detention. It's a makeup lesson."
"Sounds like detention to me," Dolls comments unhelpfully.
Wynonna holds out a hand for a high five, which Dolls ignores and she lets it fall back down to her lap dejectedly.
"Welcome to the club sis," she says to Waverly.
Wynonna picks up one of the two donuts on her plate (seriously, only Wynonna would put mashed potatoes and donuts on the same plate and call it a nutritious meal) and breaks it in half, offering one half out to Waverly as if it is a prize for finally joining the “detention club". Waverly accepts the gift and puts it aside for later. Though the gesture of Wynonna sharing with Waverly should probably fall a little empty considering that the stacks of donuts in the middle of the table keeping magically refilling themselves, the fact that Wynonna Earp, self-professed Donut Queen, is offering to split her share of infinite donuts is actually quite touching and somewhat softens the blow from being asked to redo today's Potions class outside of normal school hours.
With her mouth stuffed full of the other half of the donut that she gave to Waverly, Wynonna's eyes widen and she beckons over a newcomer, who Waverly is happy to see is Nicole. As Nicole drops onto the bench opposite Dolls and greets them all, Wynonna swallows her food and resumes her gleeful celebration of Waverly's latest mishap.
"Haught! Guess who got a detention?"
"You?" guesses Nicole, as she helps herself to food and piles her plate up with a much healthier lunch than the one Wynonna has chosen.
"Wrong!" grins Wynonna, and Waverly knows that Wynonna was expecting Nicole to make that guess because revealing the truth is all part of Wynonna's fun. Considering that this is the first detention (makeup class, Waverly's brain is quick to correct) that Waverly has received at Hogwarts and it is unlikely, considering her track record, that she will be receiving another one any time soon, Waverly is happy to let Wynonna have this one. "Waverly has detention."
"It's not a detention, it's a makeup lesson," Waverly rolls her eyes, turning to face Nicole as she gives a proper explanation, knowing that Wynonna's version of events will be a dramatic overexaggeration of the real thing. "I failed the class when I accidentally caused a cauldron to explode while breaking up with Champ."
Nicole pauses, a fork laden with food hovering between her plate and her mouth as she turns to look at Waverly with concern in her eyes as she asks, "You broke up with Champ? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," shrugs Waverly. It's a little bit of a lie - though she knows that she's made the right decision and that the overall feeling she's had since breaking up with Champ has ultimately been relief, he was still a big part of her life and it does hurt a little bit that she's had to let him go. "Good riddance."
"Atta girl!" Wynonna says proudly, offering out her hand for a first bump, which Waverly reluctantly meets with her own.
Beside her, Nicole still looks a little worried, like she doesn't quite believe that Waverly is this okay barely an hour after breaking up with somebody. Waverly tries to communicate something with her eyes, something that reassures Nicole that there's no immediate need for concern but that they can talk about it later, when Wynonna isn't present. Whether Waverly's attempts at telepathy are successful or not, Nicole chooses to stay silent on the matter and Waverly is grateful for that.
Waverly stays quiet for the rest of the lunch break, letting the three sixth years carry conversations about something that happened in their shared Transfiguration class that morning and gossip surrounding a few of the girls in their year. Waverly is only half paying attention, nodding along and making vague noises of agreement whenever one of them looks at her but her mind is far away.
She thinks of Champ and whether she’s made the right decision, and of Nicole and the nasty things that some of the students in this school might be saying about somebody with such a kind heart, but mostly she thinks of Willa and what her reaction is going to be when she finds out that Waverly and Champ are no longer together and whether this new development in Waverly’s life is going to trigger the rumours about her own sexuality in the way that Willa promised it would.
Waverly is so caught up in her own thoughts that she doesn’t realise the lunch break is almost over and that she has a lesson to get to until the other three are getting to their feet ready to leave the Great Hall.
"Can I walk you to class?" Nicole asks Waverly as they stand up.
"See?" says Wynonna, shooting Waverly a sly grin. "Haught is the kind of person you should be dating! Chivalrous, intelligent..." Wynonna pauses and takes a moment to check out Nicole's body with about as much subtlety as a Hungarian Horntail in a greenhouse, before she concludes with a grin, "... and a cracking arse."
Waverly blushes at the suggestion, though she knows it is only intended as a joke. She can't help but wonder if Wynonna has caught wind of the rumours that Willa claims will soon be making their way around Hogwarts if Waverly keeps up such a close friendship with Nicole. She can only assume that she hasn't, though Waverly does get a brief moment of amusement as she imagines what Willa's reaction would be if Wynonna were to repeat such a comment in front of their oldest sister.
Nicole, clearly unfazed by Wynonna's sense of humour after five years of sharing classes and the much more recent development of shared prefect responsibilities, reacts in the best way possible - by deflecting the attention away from the idea of something going on between her and Waverly and back onto Wynonna.
"Whoa!" she exclaims, holding her hands up in mock protest. "Keep it in your pants, Wynonna! I just don't see you like that."
Clutching a single hand to her chest, right above where her heart is, Wynonna replies, "You wound me, Nicole."
Waverly smiles softly, grateful that she’s manages to surround herself with a good group of people, and follows them out of the Great Hall and onto the Grand Staircase to go to their respective classes.
"So are you sure you're okay?" Nicole finally asks, as they part ways from Wynonna and Dolls on the second floor landing. "You broke up with somebody this morning."
"And it honestly feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders," Waverly shrugs indifferently. It is the truth - Waverly feels much lighter now that she no longer carries the burden of her relationship with Champ around with her, though she can't deny that she's a little bit nervous about having to face him Defence Against the Dark Arts in just a few minutes. "Champ and I are not right for each other. I was delusional to think that it could ever work."
"So what was the final trigger?" asks Nicole.
"He..." Waverly hesitates before she answers because while the truth is that this is a decision that has been building up for weeks over a number of things, she doesn't know whether she should burden Nicole with the knowledge that it was an argument that stemmed from a conversation about her sexuality that finally sealed the deal for Waverly. She eventually settles for a diminished version of the truth. "He was being a prick."
"Business as usual then?" jokes Nicole, eliciting a nervous little laugh from Waverly.
"He actually said some pretty demeaning stuff about you," Waverly finally confesses the truth, deciding that after all the support Nicole has offered her, Nicole deserves to know that Waverly also has her back in any situation. "I could handle the way he treated me - he can treat me as nothing more than a prize on his arm, or a means of bragging to his mates that he finally got to second base - but the moment he started being nasty about somebody I care about..."
As expected, Nicole's expression turns remorseful and she launches into an apology.
"Waverly, I'm sorry..."
"Don't apologise," Waverly insists with a reassuring smile. "This isn't on you. It was going to happen sooner or later."
Nicole nods and swallows down whatever she is feeling right now, though Waverly knows Nicole well enough to know that she will continue to feel at least partially guilty until she is one hundred percent certain that Waverly is okay following the split from Champ.
"What kind of things...?" Nicole begins to ask tentatively, before Waverly cuts her off with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"It doesn't matter."
"I've probably heard worse," Nicole points out.
"And there's no need for you to hear this kind of stuff again," answers Waverly conclusively, and though Waverly can tell that Nicole is still a little bit curious about what Champ might have said to provoke such a response from her, Nicole shoots Waverly a grateful little smile and Waverly knows that sparing Nicole the grim details is the right thing to do. She elaborates vaguely, "He was being a homophobic bell-end and I dumped him for it, that's all that matters."
Nicole pulls Waverly aside just before they reach the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Nicole asks, her brown eyes full of concern as they flit between each of Waverly's own eyes, searching for any sign that Waverly might not be as fine as she keeps insisting that she is. "Just because Champ is a turd, it doesn't mean you're not allowed to be upset that it didn't work out."
Waverly is prepared to put on a brave face - she's been doing that pretty much her whole life, hiding how she really feels about things to spare other people the burden - but then she spots Champ and two of his rowdy friends approaching the classroom from the other end of the hallway, laughing and joking as if he didn't also go through a breakup this morning. It's not that she finds herself missing Champ, more that she misses the security of being in a relationship and though she knows that Champ is not her soulmate, if such a thing even exists, she doesn't know if she's ever going to find that kind of security in another person again.
Though she manages to keep her emotions in tact - barely - she can't help but confess her fears to Nicole.
"What if nobody else wants to date me?" she voices the pitiful thoughts aloud, the lump in her throat hardening with each second that passes. "What if Champ is the only one and I threw that away because of a few little comments? What if now that I'm single I'm just the weird Earp girl again?"
Nicole doesn't even hesitate to wrap her arms around Waverly, pulling her into a tight embrace. Two weeks ago, Waverly would have been self-conscious about the gesture, worried that hugging in such a public place could spark the very rumours she's so desperate to avoid, but right now she doesn't even care. Nicole's arms around her are a comfort, the smell of a berry-scented body wash masking an underlying scent that is slightly musky and ever so Nicole and makes Waverly just feel so overwhelmingly at home.
And besides, why would Waverly be ashamed at being branded a lesbian when the only lesbian she knows has without a doubt the kindest soul out of any person she's ever met?
"That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Nicole assures Waverly, cupping the back of Waverly's head with one of her hands and running her fingers through the hair there in a manner that feels oddly intimate, but in the most brilliantly soothing way. "You are the most wonderful person I've ever met, beautiful on the inside and the outside, and anybody who can't see that isn't worth your time anyway. The question isn't whether anybody will want to date you, but whether anybody is worthy of dating you. Anybody would be lucky to call you their girlfriend."
Waverly pulls back from their embrace to look Nicole in the eye, only to find that Nicole's face is filled with such sincerity that Waverly doesn't doubt for a second that Nicole's words were anything but the absolute truth. The tears in Waverly's eyes are no longer a result of her own self-doubt and crippling fear of loneliness, but a direct response to the realisation that Waverly has somebody as unfalteringly wholesome as Nicole to pick her up when she's feeling low.
"How do you always know the right thing to say?" Waverly sniffles
Nicole deepens her voice as she pronounces, almost sage-like, "With age comes great wisdom."
"Okay, grandma," Waverly giggles through her glistening eyes and forces herself into composure once more.
"I'm serious though," Nicole tells her earnestly. "There's probably a queue of people who are lining up to date you."
And because it's Nicole saying it, who Waverly probably trusts more than she trusts anybody else, herself included, she just about believes it.
Nicole is right on two counts.
Firstly, that there are people who are actually interested Waverly. In the forty-eight hours after her breakup with Champ, Waverly receives no fewer than three propositions from the boys of Hogwarts.
Unfortunately for Waverly, Nicole's other correct statement is that none of these boys are worthy of her. Even Waverly, who is feeling more than a little bit sorry for herself and her newly single status, can see that.
The first one comes from a Gryffindor boy in the year below Waverly, who approaches her and asks her if she wants to hang out with her after classes finish one afternoon next week. It's actually rather a sweet offer - the boy isn't one that Waverly knows at all, but he's got a cute smile and a face that will surely be handsome when he grows out of his gawky teenage phase - and despite it being a mere six and a half hours since she broke up with Champ, she's actually tempted to say yes.
That is, until she notices his friends, a group of five rather loutish fourth years sitting two tables away, one of whom chooses that exact moment to disturb the silence of the library by hissing "Get in there, Anthony!" while the others jeer and make rude gestures with their hands. The boy - Anthony - sniggers along with them and slinks off back to his friends without even waiting for Waverly's answer.
She doesn't know what hurts more - the fact that she's now the object of what was clearly a dare, or the fact that she nearly fell for it.
The second one is a much more obvious no. In fact, Waverly has already compiled a list of reasons why she's going to say no to him before he even asks. (One, he's a notorious fuckboy; two, he plays Quidditch for Gryffindor so Waverly's opinion of him is already negatively skewed; three, she's almost certain that there were rumours about him and Wynonna last year and while she's completely supportive of her sister's casual approach to sex, the idea that Wynonna has already been there first puts her off entirely; and four, he greets her with her surname instead of calling her Waverly.)
"Earp! Hey, Earp!"
Waverly sighs as she turns around and sees who is approaching her. She doesn't really know what it is that other girls see in guys like this. Sure, she supposes that he's good-looking enough, with his school uniform worn sloppily enough to give off some bad-boy vibes and curly dark hair ruffled in an I woke up like this kind of way. But his reputation for screwing any girl who even glances his way and then casting her aside for a newer model at the first available opportunity precedes him and Waverly's interest in being just another notch in his bedpost is so minimal that it probably goes into minus figures.
"So I hear you broke up with Hardy," he says, reaching up to run a hand through his curly hair in a move that is probably supposed to be disarmingly cute.
Waverly, who isn't stupid enough to fall for his cheap tricks, merely nods in response.
"About time," he smirks. "You can do way better than him. You deserve somebody who can show you a thing or two."
Waverly agrees with him that she can do better than Champ, but she isn't really sure that this guy is much better. It's possibly not a step backwards, maybe just a step sideways from Champ (a step slightly further into fuckboy territory) but Waverly is certain that whatever "thing or two" this sleazebag wants to show her is nothing that she actually wants to see.
"How about you and I hang out sometime?" he continues, and Waverly has to admire his persistence in the face of her complete disinterest. "Maybe tomorrow? We could go up to the Astronomy Tower and look at the stars. I've heard that it's pretty romantic up there."
And Waverly has heard that it is infamously Hogwarts' number one hookup spot, and even if she was prepared to sacrifice her dignity by accepting what this guy is offering her, she doesn't particularly like the idea of being caught by a prefect patrol (a patrol that could include either one of her sisters, Nicole, or even Chrissy and Jeremy from her own house) with her underwear around her ankles and a half naked Quidditch player between her legs.
"I think I'll pass," Waverly says, and she makes to step around him and continue walking.
"Come on, Earp," he says, stepping into Waverly's path once more to block her from leaving. "Hardy is just a boy. What you need is a proper man to treat you right and show you how everything is done."
From the time of his voice and the lewd smile on his face, Waverly can tell that the "everything" he is talking about probably requires minimal clothing and the missionary position.
"What I actually need is for you to leave me alone," Waverly says, folding her arms across her chest and brushing past him with her head down so that she doesn't have to look him in the eye.
"Whatever!" he calls after her. "Your loss. You know where to find me when you change your mind!"
Waverly is not certain about many things in her future right now, but one thing she is absolutely positive about is that her mind will remain firmly unchanged on this particular matter.
The third proposition leaves Waverly feeling the most uncomfortable, which is saying a lot, considering how she felt after the first two.
It comes from Tucker Gardner, a boy in Waverly's year with a reputation for being a bit of a loner. Normally this wouldn't be something to put Waverly off - she hardly has the most expansive social circle herself - but there's a reason why Tucker has no friends; namely, he's a bit of a creep.
“Waverly,” he says, tilting his head to the side. “I would say that I’m sorry to hear about you and Champ, but I’m not.”
“What do you want, Tucker?” Waverly sighs.
“You and I have always had a special connection,” he continues, and Waverly rolls her eyes. She and Tucker have only spoken a few sentences to each other since their first year, and they certainly don’t have any kind of connection, not in her eyes anyway. “Maybe now you’re no longer with Champ we can explore that connection together. We’re meant to be together, you know.”
After the couple of days that she’s had, Waverly loses it.
“We are not meant to be together!” she yells at him, causing him to flinch. “The only thing that you and every other guy at Hogwarts cares about is getting your dick wet and I’m not that kind of girl. I broke up with Champ less than two days ago and you know what? I’m happy being single! I don’t need a guy in my life, least of all a creep like you.”
“Come on, Waverly,” says Tucker, reaching out with one of his hands to touch Waverly’s arm. “You don’t mean that.”
Flinching away from his touch, Waverly takes a couple of steps back away from Tucker and with tears swelling in her eyes, responds, “Yes I do. Leave me the hell alone, Tucker.”
And with that, Waverly turns on her heels and flees, wiping the tears from her eyes with the sleeve of her school robes as she goes.
"Men are pigs," Waverly tells Jeremy on Friday afternoon in Transfiguration, as she recounts the tale of her endless woe at the hands of Hogwarts' male population since her breakup with Champ two days earlier. Realising who she’s talking to, she adds, "No offence."
"None taken," Jeremy shrugs indifferently. "Men are pigs. Especially the straight ones." Adding as an afterthought, Jeremy concludes glumly, "Gay men are just confusing."
Waverly flourishes her wand, watching as the gerbil sitting on her desk turns into a beautiful white china teapot decorated with an ornate pattern of delicate pink and red flowers. It's no coincidence that she chooses that exact moment to perform the spell perfectly - the professor walks past just as she does so and nods approvingly at her stellar effort, and when Jeremy accomplishes the spell to the same standard moments later, Waverly knows that the pair will be able to get away with a little more chatter than their less successful classmates for the rest of the lesson.
"I'm sorry," Waverly says to Jeremy, when the professor's undivided attention is focused on demonstrating the correct wand movements to the pair of Hufflepuff girls struggling to master the spell at the next table along. "Here I am complaining about my miserable love life and I haven't thought to ask about yours."
"Oh, it's infinitely more tragic than yours," Jeremy teases with a mocking eye roll. "I can't believe you're complaining that half the Gryffindor Quidditch team want to sleep with you."
"Have you met the Gryffindor Quidditch team?" Waverly asks, arching an eyebrow in Jeremy’s direction.
"Fair point," acknowledges Jeremy. "But if you think you've got it bad, remember that the gay dating pool at Hogwarts is basically non-existent."
Waverly's mind wanders inexplicably to Nicole, who presumably faces exactly the same problems as Jeremy does. Waverly immediately feels guilty and vows to be a little more thoughtful when making complaints about her love life. Poor Nicole has patiently listened to Waverly moan about Champ for weeks, and now to her moan about single life after Champ, when she has probably been resenting Waverly the whole time for even having potential romantic interests to complain about at all.
Waverly imagines Nicole getting herself a girlfriend - imagines what it would be like to watch Nicole holding hands and kissing somebody, to see her spending all her free time with somebody else, to see her smiling and laughing because of somebody else. Of course, Waverly wants Nicole to be happy and if getting a girlfriend is going to do that then she'll be happy too, but she can't help the lurch of jealousy that twists at her insides at the thought of Nicole having somebody other than Waverly as her number one person.
It's stupid, she knows that, and incredibly selfish, but Nicole has become an important part of her life this school year and Waverly doesn't really know how she would cope if that changed.
Jeremy's voice brings her out of her own thoughts.
"Sorry," she mumbled apologetically.
"You spaced out completely there,” he teases her.
Waverly exhales, her eyes closed as she tries to bring herself back to the present, then opens them and greets Jeremy with a smile.
“Sorry,” Waverly repeats. “Just got a lot on my mind. But go on, tell me about you. Any guys in your life right now?”
Waverly's detention that evening is about as successful as a remedial Potions class with an ex-boyfriend can be. The professor is either feeling particularly nice or the news that Waverly and Champ are no longer together has reached the staff room and he doesn't want to deal with another explosion, because he gives them separate cauldrons on opposite sides of the classroom and leaves them to work individually. And the result is one that Waverly is happy with; her potion is damn near perfect when she turns in a sample while Champ's is the wrong colour, the wrong consistency, and is giving off a putrid smell that is making all their eyes water.
Packing her things away as quickly as possible, Waverly swings her schoolbag over her shoulder and hurries for the door, hoping to escape before Champ can catch up to her to save having to face the walk up to the Great Hall from the dungeons in an awkward stalemate with her ex.
Unfortunately for her, Champ races after her, calling out her name as he does.
She ignores him, but Waverly can hear heavy footsteps behind her as Champ runs to catch up with her, quickly falling into step beside her.
"I miss you." he pleads.
Waverly can do nothing but roll her eyes and tut under her breath. After the few days that she's had, Waverly would be quite happy to never see another boy again, and of those boys Champ is definitely at the top of the list of people she'd rather avoid.
Ignoring Champ doesn't work, not when he's walking beside her step for step, and when he gets no response, Champ clasps his fingers around Waverly's wrist and drags her to a halt as he lets out an indignant, "Hey!"
"What?" demands Waverly, snatches her arm out of Champ's hold. "Are you waiting for me to say that I miss you too?"
Champ looks at Waverly meekly and then nods, "Well, yeah."
"You're going to be waiting a long time," Waverly tells him, continuing to make her way up the stairs from the dimly-lit dungeons to the main part of the castle for dinner. "I don't miss you Champ. It's only been a couple of days but I feel so much better now that we're no longer together."
"You don't mean that," Champ says, his voice hardly more than a desperate whine. "We were good for each other."
"Maybe I was good for you, but you weren't good for me," Waverly tells him, not caring if her honesty is a little too brutal. "You were constantly dragging me down, you ignored me until it suited you to have a girlfriend, and you belittled me until I was nothing more than a piece of meat hanging off your arm. I'm done with you, Champ. And it feels really good."
They reach the Entrance Hall right as Waverly concludes and she can't help but feel proud of herself for that little speech. It's been a long few days - Waverly's emotions are running high and she wants nothing more than to spend her Friday night curled up in a soft armchair in front of the crackling fire in Ravenclaw Tower with a good book - but she's glad that she can still at least string together a strong argument.
It has the desired effect too. Champ stares at her, dumbfounded, and Waverly can almost hear the cogs turning in his brain as he tries to come up with something in response.
"Hey, douche wagon!"
Waverly has never been so happy to hear Wynonna's voice, and the sight of her sister coming down the stairs into the Entrance Hall, her school shirt untucked and rolled up to her elbows and her red and gold tie mysteriously absent, is a welcome one.
Squaring off in front of Champ, her fingers curling threateningly around the wand in her hand as her arm hangs loosely at her side, Wynonna raises her chin and demands, "Are you harassing my sister?"
Champ cowers away from Wynonna and answers, "I'm just speaking to my girlfr-"
"She isn't your anything, fuckwit," snarls Wynonna, giving Champ a gentle push on his shoulder to assert her authority, "least of all your girlfriend."
"Piss off," retorts Champ, taking an aggressive step forward and reaching for the wand in his own pocket. "This is none of your business."
Waverly is frozen where she is, watching the exchange between her sister and her ex-boyfriend. She doesn't know whether to step between them to stop something from happening that lands one or both of them in the Hospital Wing, or to take a step back as they inevitably go at each other to save herself from injury.
"Waverly is my sister," Wynonna says defiantly through clenched teeth, her words sending a rare surge of Earp family pride through Waverly. "That makes her my business. Now why don't you go back to the pond you came crawling out of."
With a flick of Wynonna's wand, there's a flash of light and Champ is no longer standing beside them. For a moment Waverly panics, because it isn't completely beyond the realm of possibility that Wynonna knows a highly illegal spell that has irreversibly banished Champ to somewhere that he will never be found. But then she hears some muttering from the other people in the busy Entrance Hall who gathered around when they realised they might be about to witness a fight. Waverly follows the direction of a couple of index fingers and realises what they are pointing at - a slimy grey toad flailing around helplessly where Champ stood just a moment ago.
Waverly's mouth falls open in surprise. Human transfiguration is an advanced skill and Wynonna, who Waverly was pretty certain rarely pays attention in any of her classes, has just performed it to perfection as easily as if it were a first year spell. Not only that, but the sight of Champ as a toad, helplessly squirming around on the floor as those around them laugh and point, is a visual that Waverly is probably going to treasure for a long time to come.
"Come on," mumbles Wynonna, shoving her wand back into the pocket of her uniform trousers and looping her arm through Waverly's to steer her towards the Great Hall as if she hasn't just performed complex magic in front of an entertained audience.
"You're going to get in so much trouble when one of the professors find him and realise that it was you," Waverly reminds Wynonna, despite still being impressed by Wynonna's unexpected skills.
"Don't care," shrugs Wynonna, ignoring the whisperings around them as she guides Waverly over towards the end of one of the four long tables for dinner. "It was worth it." As they take their seats, Wynonna looks across in concern at Waverly and asks, "Are you okay?"
Waverly takes a deep breath and counts to five, then smiles across at her sister as she answers truthfully, “I am now."
As winter envelops the castle, bringing flurried snowfalls and icy winds to the Scottish highlands around Hogwarts, Nicole falls in love with the school for what is probably the billionth time. She counts herself incredibly lucky that she gets to spend nine months of the year living and learning in a goddamn castle, instead of attending the drab Muggle comprehensive school that her parents planned to send her to until she received that fateful letter that would change the course of her life forever.
The castle is beautiful in winter, full of crackling log fires and towering Christmas trees and a beautiful layer of morning frost on the grass in the courtyards and all across the surrounding hills. Nicole loves having an excuse to bundle herself up in an extra fluffy jumper, her school scarf and gloves, and her thickest black cloak, just to be able to walk around the school grounds and fully appreciate the festive atmosphere that surrounds the school.
And this year, to improve things even further, she has Waverly to keep her company on such outings.
If Nicole hadn't already been one hundred percent convinced that Waverly Earp is the cutest person on the entire planet, the sight of Waverly bundled up in a cloak that is at least a size too big for her and the fluffiest pair of turquoise earmuffs that Nicole has ever seen solidifies that knowledge.
They leave through the castle front door, taking the path that leads towards the Great Lake so that they can walk along its icy banks. The grounds are beautiful, shrouded in a thin layer of snow that glimmers and crunches underfoot. The lake itself has frozen over almost entirely and where the students would splash around in the shallows in the hot summer months, there is just a treacherous sheet of translucent white.
It is only when they are approaching the greenhouses that Nicole realises that Waverly is being quieter than usual.
"Hey, what's up?" she asks, reaching out with a gloved hand and curling her fingers into the crook of Waverly's elbow through the thick material of her cloak.
Waverly's response is far too quick to be the truth.
"You can talk to me, you know," Nicole reminds her, not wanting to push but also knowing that Waverly has very few other people that she feels comfortable opening up to and just a few days after her break up with Champ, she probably has a lot going on in her head.
"Yeah but..." Waverly seems nervous and for a moment, it seems as though she's going to keep it all bottled up and try to pretend that there's not something bothering her. Letting out a long sigh, Waverly finally admits, "It's been brought to my attention that while I've been complaining about all the silly little things going on in my life, I haven't stopped to think of you.” Waverly glances up at Nicole with a guilty expression in her eyes, before adding, “And, you know, how there are really limited options of girls at Hogwarts for you to date or complain about."
Nicole could laugh. All she wants is for Waverly to be happy and right now, when Waverly is having so much shit flung her way from every direction, if what she needs to be happy is a willing pair of ears to listen and be understanding then Nicole is happy to be that person. It never once occurred to her that there should be any reciprocation, that Waverly needs to earn the right to have her problems attended to by doing the same for Nicole. And jealousy has definitely never been an issue. It hasn't crossed Nicole's mind that the reason she has nothing to complain to Waverly about is because there are a lack of dating options.
"Who have you been talking to?" Nicole asks, amused by Waverly's confession and wondering how such an idea has been planted in her mind.
"Oh, I like that kid," Nicole says, smiling at the memory of her few short interactions with the likeable, if slightly dorky, Ravenclaw boy. "I've shared Prefect duty with him a couple of times."
Nicole takes a moment to consider what Waverly has said about being worried about Nicole getting jealous, and almost laughs.
Nicole has been aware of her attraction to girls for two years now and has known that she'll probably have to wait a while, possibly until she leaves Hogwarts, before she can find a serious relationship for almost as long. Though being single sucks, particularly when all her friends are getting into relationship and enjoying dates and first kisses and even starting to have sex, and Nicole wants to be able to join in with all that excitement, she's optimistic enough to know that the right girl is out there and that a little patience will make it all so much more magical when it does finally happen.
(She ignores the way that her heart clenches in her chest as her brain reminds her that the only girl she's ever felt attraction towards beyond a little crush is probably straight, definitely emotionally unavailable, and happens to be walking beside her right now.)
"But you don't have to worry, it's not a bother at all," Nicole says, her words intended to reassure Waverly that she has every right to rant about the wrongs in her own life without worrying about whether she's be selfish or not. (She isn't. Nicole could listen to Waverly talk for hours about anything and remain enraptured throughout.) "I'm happy being single, I'm happy to wait for the right girl to come along. And in the meantime, feel free to rant about how stupid the male population of Hogwarts is because I agree entirely."
Waverly laughs and makes a little noise of agreement, and Nicole is relieved to notice that some of the anxious tension that was on Waverly’s face before has dissipated after Nicole’s reassurances.
“So go on,” Nicole prompts her. “What’s bothering you?”
Letting out a sigh, Waverly says, "I'm sick of people only talking about me as an Earp. Or they talk about me in relation to my sisters.” Waverly changes her voice to mimic the other students in the school and says, “‘Wynonna's slept with half the school, maybe her recently single little sister is just as easy.’ Or ‘Willa Earp's little sister must be gay because she's spending too much time hanging out with a lesbian.’"
Waverly glances up at Nicole as she says this last bit, eyebrows raised as she waits for a reaction.
Nicole just laughs softly and then says, "I'm honestly flattered that people think I could be dating you."
"Yeah, ditto," agrees Waverly. She leans into Nicole's side and then adds, "You're quite a catch."
"Yeah,” snorts Nicole, rolling her eyes playfully, “tell the ladies of Hogwarts that."
Now past the greenhouses, they take a left turn that follows the path up a set of uneven stone stairs and towards a tall archway that leads back into the castle through one of the courtyards. But when they reach the top of the stairs, Nicole realises that the way back into the school has been blocked by somebody stepping out from behind the stone pillar of the arch.
A shiver trickles down Nicole’s spine when she realises who it is, worse than any induced by the cold winds during her leisurely walk with Waverly.
Bobo Del Ray. Head Boy, seventh year Slytherin, and perhaps worst of all considering Waverly’s current predicament, Willa Earp’s boyfriend.
His arms folded across his chest and his chin held up high, Bobo is an intimidating figure blocking their way forward, and Nicole has no doubt in her mind that his presence here, where it is just Nicole and Waverly with nobody else in sight, is no coincidence.
"Well,” he sneers, eyes flickering between the two girls. “What have we got here? Hogwarts' very own pride parade."
Nicole has dealt with Bobo a lot during her time as a Prefect, particularly in the last few months where his position as Head Boy has put him in a position of power over duty rotas and prefect meetings, and she knows from experience what a power-hungry, downright nasty piece of work he can be.
“What do you want, Bobo?” she asks with a despondent sigh.
Nicole is determined to not let any fear show on her face, even when Bobo takes a step closer in an attempt to frighten them, and she maintains eye contact with him until he is the one to break it to look at Waverly instead.
“I think you both know what I want,” he answers cryptically. Nodding at Waverly, he elaborates, “Willa has already spoken to you.” Turning back to Nicole, he looks at her with an expression of revulsion, as if Nicole is something nasty he has found on the bottom of his shoe, before he continues, “And you, you'll stay away from Waverly if you know what's good for you."
Waverly’s voice pipes up from beside Nicole, slightly shaky but defiant as she asks, "Are you threatening us?"
Bobo tips his head back and actually has the audacity to laugh in their faces.
"Why, of course not!” he tells them, though the malicious grin on his face suggests otherwise. “I'm the Head Boy." His grin falls off his face as quickly as it arrived and he stares them both down with cold eyes, before he growls, "And you'd do well to remember that too."
Bobo leaves as suddenly as he arrived, his cloak sweeping around his calves as he turns and slinks off into the courtyard once more.
“Merlin,” Waverly curses from beside Nicole, when Bobo is out of earshot. “What a dick.”
Nicole hums in agreement, wrapping an arm around Waverly and pulling her in for a reassuring hug, before chuckling softly into the other girl’s hair as she muses aloud, "Who would have thought that out of the three Earp sisters, Wynonna is the one with the best taste in men?"
Thanks to Tre_rox for suggesting that Champ needed to be turned into a toad, Wynonna was only too happy to comply!
Waverly compiles three lists in her head.
The first is a list of reasons why people might misconstrue Waverly's friendship with Nicole and assume that they are dating.
One; they are both single.
Two; Waverly’s friendship with Nicole is sudden and new and close and wonderful in every way.
Three; Waverly has only recently broken up with Champ and must therefore absolutely be in need of a rebound. (This reason makes Waverly roll her eyes, but teenage logic when it comes to relationships of the heart has never been particularly renowned for making logical sense.)
Four; the students of Hogwarts are generally too narrow-minded to realise that people can have friends of the gender they are attracted to without being attracted to that person, and so naturally they must all think that Nicole has an ulterior motive for her friendship with Waverly. (Again, Waverly has to roll her eyes at the absurdity of this one.)
Five; Willa believes it to be so, and while the oldest Earp has the personality of a baby mandrake, she also has the authority and popularity that come with being Head Girl and so people are naturally inclined to believe everything she says.
With that particular list complete, Waverly concludes that anybody who might suggest that she and Nicole are interested in dating each other are either blind or stupid (or both) and moves onto the second, much shorter list - reasons why she and Nicole are not dating.
One; Waverly is not gay.
Two; Nicole is probably not attracted to her.
Waverly tries to add a third reason to this list (three; Waverly is not attracted to Nicole) but when she thinks of Nicole's eyes, deep and brown and full of entire galaxies of expression, and her smile, sometimes small and nervous but other times wide and toothy and brilliant enough to outshine even the most powerful Lumos spell, she flusters and realises that reason number three cannot be added to the list because it is a downright lie.
(Waverly is far too overwhelmed by this to realise that if reason number three is a lie, then perhaps reason number one must be too, and the fact that the only reason that she and Nicole aren't dating is because of the unconfirmed matter that Nicole does not find Waverly attractive, and that is just far too much of a mindfuck to cope with on a Monday morning.)
(Waverly will later come to realise that this list actually comprises of only one reason - one; Waverly and Nicole are both too blind to realise that they are perfect for each other.)
The third list is the longest - so long, in fact, that Waverly is certain that it will never reach completion. And it is a list of reasons why having people thinking that she is dating Nicole would not necessarily be a bad thing.
One; Nicole is kind.
Two; Nicole is beautiful.
Three; Nicole is intelligent.
Four; There is nobody that Waverly enjoys spending time with more than Nicole.
Five; Nicole listens to everything that Waverly says like she is absorbing it into her brain.
Six; The way that Nicole treats Waverly, with such overwhelming compassion and thoughtfulness, is unlike the way that Waverly has been treated by anybody else ever.
And the list goes on.
It's basically just an infinite list of Nicole's good qualities and Waverly keeps thinking of new things to add to the bottom of it.
Xavier Dolls is not somebody that Nicole ever had the chance to speak to until they were both made Prefects at the beginning of their fifth year. Though they shared the occasional class in their first few years at Hogwarts, they moved in different social circles and it hasn’t really been until this year, with Nicole’s new and close friendship with Waverly bringing them into the same friendship group, that they’ve started to get to know each other.
Despite their acquaintanceship being a relatively new one, Nicole always relaxes when she sees her name written next to Dolls’ on the weekly prefect rota. He’s a good partner on patrol; attentive, always focused on the task at hand, and a calming presence at Nicole’s side. Though he comes across as quiet and closed-off to those who don’t know him, he can hold a good conversation about a variety of subjects and Nicole has found that they have a lot in common with each other, the fact that they both have an interest in going into magical law enforcement when they leave school being just one of many things that they’ve found to talk about.
Tonight, however, future career opportunities are the last thing that Dolls wants to discuss.
"So, Waverly Earp, huh?"
The question takes Nicole by surprise. They’ve just patrolled the corridor outside the library, checking that no late-night studiers are out past curfew, and are heading up a spiral staircase with their illuminated wands held aloft when he speaks, the first words spoken by either of them in about five or so minutes.
"What about Waverly?" Nicole asks, trying to play it as cool as possible, despite the way that her insides squirm in delight at the way Waverly’s name rolls of her tongue, like it was made to be spoken through her lips.
"Don't give me that,” Dolls scolds her, giving Nicole a knowing look that tells her he isn’t buying her faux indifference. “I've seen the way you look at her."
"And how is that?"
"Like she's your entire universe."
Nicole thinks her own feelings for the youngest Earp girl are about as complex as trying to read a passage of text in an ancient runic script without having studied the language before. She’s been struggling for a while to fully comprehend the extent of her feelings towards Waverly and what it means for their blossoming friendship, and yet Dolls, as observant as ever, has just read her in an instant and found the words for the butterflies that have been residing in her stomach since she first introduced herself to Waverly just a couple of months ago.
Nicole sighs and decides that it’s not worth the effort it would take to protest, not when Dolls is going to see straight through any lies she tries to tell anyway, then responds, "I mean, she's Waverly."
It’s hardly a good explanation (Nicole reasons with herself that there aren’t the words in the English language to describe what a wonderfully precious girl Waverly is) but Dolls nods knowingly and she thinks he understands what she means.
"Those Earp girls have something special about them, you don't have to tell me."
Nicole spots her chance to deflect the conversation away from her own dismal lack of a personal life and exclaims, "Oh that's right! You and Wynonna!"
"There is no me and Wynonna,” Dolls dismisses Nicole with a quick wave of the hand not holding his wand up to light the way ahead of them. “Back to you - what are you going to do about Waverly?"
It’s a big question, one that has been running through her mind every time she sees or spends time with or even thinks about Waverly, and one that has thus far been answered with ‘absolutely nothing’. Because there isn’t really anything that Nicole can do. Yes, she likes Waverly a hell of a lot more than she should like a close friend but keeping that to herself isn’t ruining their friendship and it’s certainly not Waverly’s burden to bear. Not when Waverly has so many other things to worry about that are much more serious than whether or not she should be trying to force some reciprocation to Nicole’s romantic feelings towards her.
"There's nothing I can do,” Nicole admits to Dolls with a shrug. “If she's straight then that's it, if she's not then she has a lot of stuff to figure out and I'm not going to rush her into that. She has to do it all on her own terms."
Dolls nods thoughtfully and replies, "That's all very sweet.” He pauses for effect, his dark eyes shining with the smug authority that comes with knowing something that Nicole doesn’t. “The thing is, I've see the way she looks at you too."
"And how does she look at me?"
A slow smile spreads across Dolls’ lips as if he is revealing a deep secret as he answers, "Like you are her entire universe."
Nicole snorts. She would wager that she knows Waverly better than Dolls does and she has seen the way that Waverly looks at her, which is to say that Waverly doesn’t look at her as anything more than a friend. And Waverly has no reason to look at Nicole in any other way. Waverly is beautiful and smart and kind and could have pretty much anybody she wanted, while Nicole is just … well, Nicole is just Nicole. The very fact that Waverly even wants to be Nicole’s friend is astonishing enough.
"Balderdash,” Nicole mumbles dejectedly.
"I only say it how I see it,” shrugs Dolls matter-of-factly.
Nicole doesn’t want to believe it because she doesn’t want to get her hopes up, only to have her heart broken at a later date, but these words are coming from Dolls. If it was anybody else, Nicole would dismiss the suggestions as outrageous in an instant, but Dolls is perceptive and is one of the very last people that Nicole would accuse of saying something like this if he didn’t completely believe it to be true.
"You really think she sees me like that?” Nicole asks, the tiniest glimmer of hope that has been residing in her chest for months now, slowly starting to burn a little bit brighter as Dolls’ words give the flame the fuel it needs to properly ignite.
"I'm certain of it,” answers Dolls. “Of course, if Waverly has some self-discovery to do then you have to let her do that. But you can't just wait around and expect her to come to you, or else you'll blink and find she's sharing her bed with the likes of Doc Holliday."
Nicole looks at Dolls in confusion, because Doc Holliday is pretty much the last person that she would imagine losing Waverly to and just the thought of those two together is enough to send a shiver of discomfort down Nicole’s spine, but then she realises that Dolls is no longer talking about Waverly. Nicole sighs in relief, knowing that the Waverly and Doc scenario is not going to happen, and opens her mouth to return Dolls’ wisdom with something of her own about the way that he and Wynonna dance around each other.
She never gets the words out because they both startle at a clattering sound nearby.
“Did you hear that?” Nicole asks Dolls, her wand raised in alarm as she looks both ways down the corridor in search of the source of the noise.
Dolls nods and raises his finger to his lips, his face illuminated in the yellow glow of the two lit wands.
“It’s probably just Peeves,” Dolls whispers, barely loud enough for Nicole to hear.
At twenty minutes past curfew, there shouldn’t be any students out of their house common rooms and the school poltergeist is certainly a likely culprit, having been known to cause mischief during out-of-hours prefect patrols before, but it is their duty to investigate the noise regardless. At the sound of another crash, one that sounds suspiciously like furniture being knocked over in the nearest classroom, Dolls nods his head in the direction it came from and leads the way to the classroom door. He kicks it open softly with his foot and steps inside, Nicole close behind him, their wands raised as they look around the darkened classroom.
“Well, if it isn’t my two favourite Prefects.”
They both recognise the voice, but it’s Nicole who notices Wynonna sprawled on the stone floor of the classroom, a chair on its side next to her and a half-empty bottle of Firewhiskey rolling around near Wynonna’s right hand.
"Wynonna, have you been drinking?" asks Nicole, lowering her wand now that she knows that they aren’t in immediate danger.
“Hey, look what I can do,” says Wynonna.
She reaches for the bottle of Firewhiskey, pushing herself up into a seated position as she unscrews the cap. Wynonna takes a swig from the bottle, wincing at the taste, then tips her head back and lets out an almighty burp, a small burst of flames erupting from her lips as she does so.
Smirking up at Nicole, Wynonna asks, "Does that turn you on, Haught? Does it?"
Nicole thrusts her wand into the pocket of her school trousers and hurries across the classroom to snatch the bottle and its lid from Wynonna, who seems to have had too much to drink to have the coordination to stop Nicole from doing so.
"Not in the slightest,” Nicole answers, passing the bottle of Firewhiskey off to Dolls, who has already righted the upturned chair, before she hooks her hands beneath Wynonna’s armpits and hoists her up to her feet. “Let's get you to bed."
"What?” asks Wynonna, stumbling slightly now that she is back on her feet, though Nicole’s arm around her stops her from crashing back to the floor. “Drunk on school grounds and you're not even going to give me a detention?"
Speaking for the first time since they discovered Wynonna, and with a look of concern on his face at Wynonna’s state, Dolls says, "What you need is a glass of water and your bed."
"The Prefect team is becoming a shambles,” Wynonna tuts, her words slurring together as she raises her finger and points it matter-of-factly first at Dolls, then at Nicole. “A fucking shambles.” In a much lower voice, Wynonna rolls her eyes and then mumbles, “If only the Head Girl removed her head from up her own arse for long enough to notice."
"Wynonna..." Dolls starts, letting out a low groan and rolling his eyes.
Nicole intervenes and rests an assuring hand on Dolls’ arm. She knows that Dolls cares for Wynonna, just the same as she does, but she knows that their relationship is a complicated one, both from Dolls’ cryptic comments earlier during their patrol and simply from observing the two and the way that they behave around each other. Nicole knows that they both like each other in a slightly-more-than-friends capacity and that they are both far too stubborn to actually admit that, choosing instead to dance around each other in a way that is too complex to attempt to understand.
Nicole also can’t guarantee that Wynonna’s current state, drunk out of her mind and only able to keep herself upright because Nicole’s arm around her waist isn’t letting her fall back to the floor, isn’t because of something that Dolls has said or done. She decides that it’s probably best if she handles this particular situation by herself.
"Dolls, I've got her,” Nicole tells him, steering Wynonna towards the door of the classroom with Dolls following close behind. “You carry on without me.”
Dolls glances at Wynonna, a look of uncertainty on his face, but he nods in agreement with Nicole’s suggestion.
“Come on, Wynonna,” says Nicole, as they start the journey up to Gryffindor Tower while Dolls disappears in the opposite direction to complete his patrol. “Let me take you to bed."
"Nicole Haught,” says Wynonna, her words slurred and a lopsided grin spreading slowly across her face. “Are you trying to seduce me?"
"Because I heard a really weird rumour yesterday. Mercedes Gardner said her sister told her that you have a thing for my sister?”
Nicole balks at Wynonna’s words. Despite the threats from both Willa and Bobo, as well as Waverly’s concerns that people are misreading their friendship, Nicole has been yet to hear any actual rumours about the nature of her relationship with Waverly until now. But Mercedes and Beth Gardner are both part of Willa’s posse and notorious gossips, so if those two have caught wind of this new rumour, Nicole has no doubt that it will make its way around the castle like a nasty virus.
Thankfully, Wynonna doesn’t seem to believe what she’s been told, for she lets out a snort and continues, “Isn't that just ridiculous?” Producing a wand that Nicole didn’t realise she had on her, Wynonna points it at nothing in particular, and then says, “Riddikulus!"
A wisp of white light shoots from the tip of Wynonna’s wand and vanishes into the air. Though that particular spell is harmless, particularly without a Boggart to use it upon, Nicole doesn’t want to see what other magic an intoxicated Wynonna has up her sleeve, and she is forced to push her worries about the Gardner sisters spreading rumours about her to the back of her mind for later, as she wraps her fingers around Wynonna’s wrist and pries the wand from her hand.
Wynonna grumbles her protests briefly while Nicole tucks the confiscated wand safely inside her own robes, then loses interest and continues talking.
"Anyway, it doesn’t matter what Mercedes thinks. We all know that you have the hots for me and not Waverly."
Though her anxiety remains present, quietly bubbling away somewhere deep inside her where it waits to spill out at a later moment of inconvenience, Nicole lets out a nervous laugh under her breath. She should have known that Wynonna could be counted on to not believe any false rumours that might be circulating the castle and Nicole reminds herself to have more faith in Wynonna, despite any encounters with Firewhiskey.
"I'm afraid I don't have the hots for you, Wynonna,” Nicole tells the other girl, her arm tightening around Wynonna’s waist as they reach the bottom of a staircase leading up to the next floor and start their ascent.
"Come on, Haught,” scoffs Wynonna. She gestures down at her own body and the momentary distraction almost causes Wynonna to trip over one of the steps. Look at me. “Who wouldn't have the hots for me?"
"I'm sure that everybody fancies you,” Nicole plays along, hoping for Wynonna’s cooperation in response. “They'd be stupid not to."
"Exactly,” agrees Wynonna, with a curt nod. She cranes her neck over her shoulder to look behind them, an action that would send her tumbling to the bottom of the staircase if it were not for the strong arm that Nicole has around her waist, and shouts down the empty hallways, “You hear that, Dolls? Haught thinks you're fucking stupid."
"Shhh,” Nicole encourages Wynonna to quieten, using both of her hands to guide Wynonna safely to the top of the stairs and relaxing in relief now that the imminent danger of Wynonna falling down a flight of stairs and injuring herself is over for now. “You don't want to wake up the entire school, do you? That's how to get yourself a detention."
"Like I give a shit about detention,” spits Wynonna. Looking around and frowning when she sees that Nicole’s hands are both empty, Wynonna asks, “Where's my Firewhiskey?"
Nicole is grateful that she had the foresight to leave the bottle with Dolls. It’s enough of a struggle for her to pretty much carry Wynonna all the way back up to Gryffindor Tower, let alone having to deal with the added complications of wrestling a bottle of Firewhiskey out of her hands too.
"You don't need any more to drink,” Nicole tells Wynonna. By this point, they’ve reached the portrait of the Fat Lady that guards the Gryffindor common room. “What you do need is to tell me the password so we can get you to your dormitory.”
“You shouldn’t be so bossy, Haught,” Wynonna tells her. “It’s not an attractive feature on you.”
Nicole rolls her eyes and glances up to the portrait in front of her, where the Fat Lady is looking down at them with a look of disapproval on her face.
“Please can you let us in?” Nicole begs. “She just needs her bed.”
“No password, no entry,” the Fat Lady replies unhelpfully.
“Come on, Wynonna,” Nicole pleads with the girl leaning against her side. “What’s the password?”
“Bubotuber!” Wynonna declares very loudly. When the Fat Lady refuses to swing aside to let them in, Wynonna tuts and then mumbles, “Shit, that was last week. It’s … Crumple … Crumple Snout …” Wynonna stumbles over her words, deep in thought, then looks to Nicole for help, “Come on, what’s the name of that dumb creature? Crumple something.”
“Crumple-Horn Snorkack?” Nicole supplies hopefully, before sighing in relief as the portrait of the Fat Lady swings open to admit them. “Merlin, Earp. You aren’t half making me work for this.”
Nicole guides Wynonna across the Gryffindor common room, a homely place decorated with red and gold banners and furnished with comfortable sofas grouped around small tables. She ignores the stares that they receive from a few of the other students as they pass, unsure whether the attention they are receiving is because of the presence of a Hufflepuff in their common room or because of the drunken spectacle that Wynonna is making as she stumbles over to the stairs that lead up to the girls’ dormitories. Nicole suspects that it is the latter, though it doesn’t stop her from feeling self-conscious about trespassing into the Gryffindor common room, even if it is with the most honourable of intentions.
“Let’s get you into bed,” Nicole says, when they reach the privacy of Wynonna’s dorm room, which is thankfully empty. “Where do you keep your pyjamas?”
Wynonna produces an old cotton t-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts, and Nicole turns her back as Wynonna puts the pyjamas on, despite Wynonna’s suggestively lewd wink as Nicole tells her to get changed.
“You joining me, Haught?” Wynonna asks, as Nicole helps her to get into bed and pulls the scarlet blanket up to Wynonna’s shoulders to tuck her in. “There’s room for two.”
“I have to get back to the rest of my patrol,” Nicole reminds her. Wynonna doesn’t protest, instead struggling to keep her droopy eyes open to look at Nicole. “And you need sleep. We’ll talk in the morning, okay?”
When Nicole enters the Great Hall with Waverly the following morning, she spots Wynonna immediately, head resting on the table and her plate of breakfast virtually untouched.
“Morning, troublemaker!” Nicole says chirpily, as she takes the seat across from Wynonna. “How are you feeling?”
Wynonna lifts her head from the table for long enough to scowl at Nicole, then lays it down again as she replies in a voice that is muffled by the curtain of dark hair that spills across her face, “Everything hurts. Why does everything hurt?”
“Merlin,” exclaims Waverly, frowning inquisitively at her sister’s sorry state as she helps herself to a slice of toast and starts to butter it. “What happened to you?”
“Wynonna discovered Firewhiskey last night,” Nicole explains, when Wynonna proves incapable of doing anything but letting out a long groan. “Lucky for her, the Prefects on duty who discovered her decided not to report it to her Head of House.”
“My advice to both of you,” says Wynonna, lifting her head and pointing her index finger across the table to where Nicole and Waverly sit. “Just stay away from boys. They’re not worth it.”
Nicole’s plans for her future already involve having as little interaction with her male counterparts as possible, though she decides that Wynonna is too hungover to be reminded of that.
“Do you, um, do you want to talk about it?” Waverly asks Wynonna tentatively, and Nicole nods along in solidarity.
“Like fuck I do,” Wynonna grimaces and shakes her head. “You’re my sister and I love you, but I’m not going to talk to you about boys.”
Nicole makes a mental note to speak to Wynonna about this later, when Waverly isn’t around. If Wynonna’s experimental trip into the world of Firewhiskey was caused by Dolls or Doc or any other guy at Hogwarts, Nicole would rather offer her an ear to listen to her problems than to watch Wynonna spiral in alcoholicism.
“Haught, what happened to my Firewhiskey?” Wynonna asks, turning her attention to Nicole.
“Dolls has it,” Nicole tells her. When Wynonna lets out a huff of annoyance, Nicole presses on, “You can have it back when we get to King’s Cross at the end of term. Consider that your punishment instead of the detentions you’d get if it had been a member of staff who stumbled upon you last night.”
“You’re such a snooze, Haught. I can’t believe I almost let you seduce me last night.”
Nicole balks at Wynonna’s words, almost spraying a mouthful of pumpkin juice across the table. When she recovers, though surprised that Wynonna remembers anything from last night at all, Nicole feels the need to turn to Waverly to justify her sister’s words.
“I didn’t try to seduce Wynonna,” Nicole clarifies. “If anything, she was coming onto me.”
Waverly holds a hand up and shrugs.
“It’s none of my business,” says Waverly. Grinning at Nicole, she teases, “Besides, you’d be cute together. Wynonna has renounced boys and we all know where your interests lie.”
Wrapping an arm around Waverly’s shoulder, Nicole pulls the younger girl into her side and grins back, “Thanks, Wave.”
Waverly loves Thursday evenings. It’s the one night a week that she and Nicole set aside specifically to study together in the library.
Of course they hang out together at other times during the week too, occasions where they can actually hold proper conversations instead of sitting in complete silence of opposite sides of a table in the library, but those times often get disrupted by Quidditch practice or Prefect duties on Nicole’s part and, before the breakup, spending time with Champ on Waverly’s. Not to mention the fact that being in both different year groups and different houses really limits their social time and means that the precious time Waverly has available to spend with Nicole is often also spent with Wynonna, Doc and Dolls too.
But Thursday nights are just for them. No interruptions, no excuses, just Waverly and Nicole and a stack of books and parchment on the table that they’ve unofficially declared as theirs towards the back of the library. There’s a certain comfort to be found in doing her work with Nicole’s presence across the table. It’s not just the brief conversations they exchange in hushed whispers to bounce ideas for essays off each other, but the stolen smiles they share across their shared workspace, that Waverly decides makes her work of an even better standard than she’s used to.
Waverly would also be lying if she said that she didn’t enjoy watching Nicole study. In fact, reason number nineteen on her list of reasons why people thinking that she and Nicole are an item isn’t an issue, is that the little crinkle that forms between Nicole’s brows as she pores over books and concentrates on her schoolwork is what Waverly can only describe as “cute as heck”.
Waverly always looks forward to Thursday evenings. Which is why, when she leaves the Great Hall after dinner with Nicole by her side ready for their last Thursday evening in the library before the end of the school term, her mood immediately sours when she realises that they are being followed.
Specifically, when she realises by whom.
It’s Willa, who is pretty much the last person that Waverly wants to see. Waverly hears Nicole let out a disconcerted sigh as she also realises who is calling out Waverly’s name, and Waverly couldn’t agree more.
“Can we talk?” asks Willa, crossing the Entrance Hall to stand opposite Waverly and Nicole.
From beside Waverly, Nicole’s fingers brush lightly against Waverly’s wrist, a gesture that doesn’t go unnoticed by Willa’s watchful gaze, as she asks softly, “Do you want me to stay?”
“I think it’s best if you don’t,” Willa answers in place of Waverly, appraising Nicole from head to foot with her nose turned up and a look of mild disgust in her eyes. The way that Willa looks at Nicole really doesn’t sit well with Waverly, but what is worse is the way that Waverly can feel Nicole tense beside her. Not wanting to cause any public arguments, Waverly chooses to ignore both and says, for her own benefit and for Nicole’s, “It’s fine.”
“No, it’s not,” Nicole says through clenched teeth. Grabbing Waverly’s hand to get her attention and eye contact, Nicole pleads, “She can’t keep threatening you like this.”
Waverly understands, after all it is her sister who keeps threatening them. But she also knows, Willa being the way that she is, that Willa will thrive off any kind of reaction she manages to draw from them. Waverly doesn’t want to give Willa the satisfaction of thinking that she’s getting to them.
Waverly will discuss this in detail with Nicole later – it’s probably a conversation that has been way overdue for far too long – but right now she needs to deal with Willa without the risk of any tempers flaring, regardless of how justified it would be for Nicole to finally snap and give Willa a piece of her mind.
“Nicole, please,” begs Waverly, squeezing Nicole’s fingers to reassure her that the situation is under control. “I can handle this.”
Nicole shoots Willa a look of resentment, then adjusts the way that the strap of her bag sits on her shoulder as she mumbles to Waverly, “I guess I’ll see you in the library.”
Waverly watches as Nicole leave, waiting until she is out of earshot before she rounds on Willa, hissing out her distaste at the way that Willa feels the need to unnecessarily meddle in Waverly’s life again.
“I don’t have anything to say to you, Willa,” Waverly seethes, forgetting her earlier plan to remain calm and unaffected by her sister’s behaviour. That idea went out of the window the moment that Waverly saw the heartbroken look on Nicole’s face right before she departed. “And unless you’re here to apologise, there’s nothing I want to hear from you either.”
“I’m just looking out for you,” Willa replies, holding her head up with an air of superiority that is just driving Waverly bonkers. “Why can’t you see that?”
Waverly is fuming. It’s taking a lot of self-control to not whip out her wand and cast a horrible spell on her sister (Wynonna may have taught Waverly the spell she used on Champ “just in case” and Waverly is certain that Willa would make a particularly slimy toad) but she forces herself to be better than that. It will only give Willa more ammunition against her in the future – no doubt she would put Waverly’s behaviour down to Nicole’s bad influence, as if Nicole even has the spite within her to be capable of harming a hair on anybody’s head, even with good reason.
What makes her so angry is not the complete lack of foundation for Willa’s concerns about the nature of Waverly and Nicole’s relationship, but her insistence that their friendship is any of her business in the first place. Her first threat, while upsetting, was one that Waverly managed to excuse – sure, it planted seeds of doubt in her mind that were very nearly detrimental to her friendship with Nicole, but it was just Willa being nosy and unreasonable, nothing new. And Bobo’s threat didn’t really bother Waverly too much either because she doesn’t think that there’s anything he can do to actually hurt her.
But to be approached a third time, when it is clearly making Nicole upset and making her question whether it is safe for Waverly to spend time with her, is one step too far.
“Why do you have such a problem with Nicole?” demands Waverly. “Is it because she’s gay or because she’s a Muggleborn or because you just can’t stand the sight of me being happier than you?”
Willa rolls her eyes and mutters, “Merlin, you and Wynonna are as bad as each other.”
Waverly has no idea what Willa means by that. It’s presumably just a way of deflecting any responsibility away from herself, keeping up the illusion that she is the perfect one out of the three of them while her two younger sisters continue to cause rampant mayhem and bring shame upon the family name. But Waverly doesn’t care about the Earp name right now, and being compared to her sisters is the easiest way to rile her up even more.
“Listen,” Waverly hisses at Willa. “Nicole is one of my closest friends and I’m not going to throw that away just because you don’t like her. I don’t care if you think there’s something more going on between us because there isn’t. She’s a good friend and nothing more than that, and that’s all she’s ever going to be.”
With that, Waverly turns on her heels and leaves Willa alone, not even bothering to turn back to see what Willa’s reaction is. Waverly is feeling quite proud of herself for that little speech, and she sure as hell isn’t going to ruin it by allowing Willa to get the last laugh.
With only a couple of days to go until the Christmas holidays, the library is almost empty and Waverly finds Nicole with ease, sitting at their usual table near the back. Waverly drops her bag to the floor with a thud that is probably a little too loud for the silence of the library, not that there is anybody in the vicinity to complain, then takes her seat opposite Nicole.
The concern is still on Nicole’s face but the hint of sadness that was there before is gone. Waverly is glad of that fact. After expelling so many emotions in her outburst at Willa, she doesn’t think she would be able to keep herself together if Nicole still looked like a mournful puppy.
“What happened?” Nicole whispers, setting down her quill and leaning closer to Waverly across the table.
“Just…” Waverly pauses and lets out a sigh. “Just Willa being Willa.” Rolling her eyes, Waverly adds, “Again.”
“Do you want to talk ab-?” starts Nicole.
“No,” Waverly says determinedly, as she reaches down to open her bag and takes out her Potions textbook, a few spare sheets of parchment, and her quill.
“I’m fine,” insists Waverly.
She isn’t fine. She is anything but fine. Waverly is angry at Willa but also disappointed with herself because all she wants is for Nicole to be happy and comfortable with the fact that things aren’t going to change between them. The problem is that Waverly doesn’t know how to do that, and it feels a little bit like every time she tries to pull Nicole closer, she only ends up creating a deeper chasm between them.
Tears begin to prickle in Waverly’s eyes and she gets to her feet, ducking between two bookshelves under the pretence of searching for a book before Nicole can see that she is upset.
Her earlier euphoria at standing up to Willa has vanished and Waverly is left with nothing but sheer hopelessness at the realisation that whatever she does, she’s probably going to end up losing Nicole. Or, if things carry on the way that they are, Nicole will distance herself until they are nothing more than meagre acquaintances because she believes that it will “save” Waverly from Willa and Bobo.
No. Waverly dismisses the frankly ridiculous idea that flashes through her mind. One; she isn’t brave enough to go through with it. And two; it probably wouldn’t work anyway.
There’s a part of Waverly’s brain that tells her not to go through with it, that it’s a terrible idea, that she should take a few moments to regain her composure and then go back to the table and diligently work on her Potions homework like she’s supposed to be doing. But the other part of her brain, the part that has been awash with confusion for days, if not since she met Nicole for the first time, tells her to just go for it.
Besides, if Waverly is going to end up losing Nicole either way, she might as well lose her in style.
Waverly peers around the edge of the bookshelf, watching as Nicole studies in silence, oblivious to the turmoil that Waverly’s mind is putting her through just a few feet away. And then Nicole lifts her quill to her mouth, chewing on the tip of the feather plumage as her forehead scrunches up in deep concentration, and Waverly makes her decision.
“Nicole!” she hisses.
Nicole glances up, looking at Waverly with a question in her eye, and Waverly silently beckons her over. She watches anxiously as Nicole slowly pushes back her chair and gets to her feet, each second that it takes for her to come over another opportunity for Waverly to change her mind. But she doesn’t.
“Is everything okay?” Nicole asks, her voice quiet so as to not disturb the stillness of the library.
“Yeah, just a book that I need on a high shelf,” Waverly lies effortlessly, doing her best to ignore the way that her heart thumps erratically against her chest, almost hard enough to shatter her ribcage and break out of its fleshy confines. “Do you think you could come and get it down for me?”
Nicole, as helpful as ever, nods and a pleasant smile spreads across her face.
“Sure! Of course!”
Waverly grabs Nicole’s hand in her own and leads her between the towering bookshelves until they are right at the back of the library, almost in the restricted section. It’s darker back here, where nobody is studying and fewer candles are lit. Waverly thinks that it might be colder too, though she can’t be certain that the shiver that ripples down her spine and has every hair on her body standing to attention isn’t being caused by something else.
Like nerves. Because oh boy, is Waverly nervous.
“Okay, so where’s that boo-?”
Waverly cuts Nicole off before she can finish her question, before Waverly can hesitate for long enough to have misgivings what she’s about to do, by pushing herself up onto her tiptoes and pressing her lips against Nicole’s. Nicole lets out a grunt of surprise as their mouths collide, and her hands hang limply at her sides for a few seconds as Waverly pushes her back into the nearest bookshelf with a thud, but then they come up to hold Waverly’s waist through the soft grey material of her uniform jumper.
The first thing that crosses Waverly’s mind as she kisses Nicole is that Nicole’s lips are incredibly soft. And yes, Waverly’s complete kissing history up to this point comprises entirely of Champ Hardy, whose chapped lips were always dry and his mouth rough and messy against Waverly’s. In comparison, kissing Nicole is like kissing an angel. Then again, Waverly thinks that even if she had shared a kiss with an actual angel before, she would still prefer Nicole’s lips against hers.
Nicole tastes sweet, like the sugar mice that Waverly knows she keeps in her bag as a treat for when she’s studying, and there’s an underlying taste of the pumpkin juice that was served with dinner. She’s still for the first half a second, surprised by Waverly’s unexpected assault, before she relaxes and her lips becomes pliant beneath Waverly.
Unfortunately for Waverly, when Nicole’s initial shock wears off, it’s accompanied by the realisation that they are kissing, and she brings it to a halt that is almost as sudden as the conception of the kiss.
“Wait. Waverly, wait!”
Nicole pulls her mouth away from Waverly’s before Waverly has the chance to connect their lips once more, and leans her head against the shelf behind her as she tries to regain her breath. Once she’s taken a few deep breaths, Nicole opens her eyes and looks down at Waverly, the blacks of her pupils blown wide and though it could be because of the darkness of this particular gloomy corner of the library, Waverly finds herself hoping that the cause is something else.
“Is this about Willa?” Nicole asks, raising her eyebrows.
“No!” Waverly protests. She lets her hands drop to her sides and takes a step back to clear her head, before she continues, “It’s about me, and you, and…” Waverly glances up at Nicole and notices the way that her braided hair is slightly dishevelled from where Waverly’s hands have been, how her lips are parted and a little bit swollen and smeared with the pink of Waverly’s lip gloss, and she almost loses her train of thought. “Well, it’s mostly about you.”
Nicole’s hands drop from where they’ve been holding Waverly’s waist and her eyes fall closed. Panic rises up inside Waverly like a bubbling potion in a cauldron as she realises that she’s basically just attacked her best friend’s mouth with her own without first checking that it was okay for her to do so. Waverly has just violated Nicole’s sexuality for her own personal gain and the thought of making Nicole uncomfortable by putting her in such a compromising position has Waverly feeling incredibly guilty. And, if Waverly is completely honest, a little bit nauseous too.
“Oh fudgesticks!” cries Waverly, launching straight into a gushing apology. “I’m so sorry. This was incredibly impulsive of me. I never stopped to think that it wouldn’t be what you want…”
Nicole’s eyes flutter open and she looks down at Waverly, her features relaxing and a slow smile crossing her lips, before she says in a low voice, “I didn’t say that.”
Nicole brings her index finger up to Waverly’s chin and tilts her head with the delicacy she would use if it were made of china. She brings her face down to Waverly’s stopping just before their mouths connect, and her lips ghost over Waverly’s. It feels incredibly intimate, with the way that Waverly can feel Nicole’s warm breath on her lips sending a shiver down Waverly’s spine. Nicole’s nose nudges ever so softly against Waverly’s before she finally closes the gap between their mouths properly.
The second kiss is just as good as the first, perhaps even better. Nicole takes charge this time, coaxing Waverly’s lips open with her own and introducing a tantalising swipe of tongue that has Waverly stifling a tiny moan. It’s all that Waverly can do to lift a hand to the back of Nicole’s head again, fingers curling over the neat braid at the back, while her lips respond to each movement of Nicole’s against them.
Waverly is so caught up in the kiss that she doesn’t realise that Nicole has walked her backwards until her back collides softly with a bookshelf. She lets out a little noise at the sudden contact and their lips part for long enough for Nicole to let out a breathy laugh, but then she’s kissing Waverly again, enthusiastic but tender, and Waverly feels as though she’s soaring away from the castle on a broomstick with Nicole, ascending to a new place where they are the only two people who matter.
Later that night, Waverly adds yet another reason to the third list in her head.
Twenty three; Nicole Haught is probably the best damn kisser in the world.
What is this? Less than a week between updates? Don't get used to it!
(I had a lot of irl stuff to do this week which means that naturally I ignored all of it and spent my time writing this fic instead!)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Christmas holidays arrive far too quickly, a blur of festivities and end of term celebrations that Waverly barely notices because her brain is consumed with the fact that she kissed Nicole.
She kissed Nicole. That was a thing that happened. Waverly still can’t entirely believe that it wasn’t a dream.
Even more alarmingly, Nicole kissed her back.
It was everything that Waverly thinks a first kiss is supposed to be; tentative, a little clumsy, butterfly-inducing, but overwhelmingly it just felt right. Like Waverly’s lips were destined to meet Nicole’s.
Waverly thinks that maybe she should be a little frightened of just how right it did feel, or confused about the fact that not even ten minutes after telling Willa that Nicole would only ever be just a friend (and believing those words herself) she was throwing herself at Nicole by the lips and enjoying it, but she isn’t. The only thing she feels other than the all-encompassing peace that comes with finally finding what seems to be her purpose in life (kissing Nicole), is a worry that maybe Nicole doesn’t like her quite as much in return.
They don’t get a chance to speak about the kiss before term ends. There’s always too much going on or too many other people around and it doesn’t seem right to have the “so we kissed, what now?” conversation while Wynonna is right next to them reeling off a list of increasingly creative ways she could get back at Professor Lucado for giving her a Dreadful on her most recent Defence Against the Dark Arts essay.
So they wait, and then the Christmas holidays arrive and because it’s not really the kind of conversation they can have via owl either, then have to wait even longer.
Waverly thinks that they’re okay though. The hug that Nicole gives her as they bid goodbye to each other at King’s Cross is almost slightly too long to be friendly and is full of whispered promises to send regular owls to each other while they aren’t at school.
Three weeks have never passed slower than they do during the Christmas holidays.
There really isn’t much for Waverly to do at home. She commits herself fully to helping Aunt Gus get the house ready for Christmas, but once the towering Christmas tree has been set up in its rightful place in the corner of the living room and decorated with colourful ornaments, and the rest of the house has been tidied to within an inch of its life and covered with festive wreaths and garlands, there’s very little else for Waverly to do except for listen to her sisters squabble and bury herself in work.
But even that isn’t really enough. Waverly finishes all the schoolwork set for her to do during the break within the first three days of being at home, before deciding to immerse herself in a complex Ancient Runes textbook that isn’t even on the curriculum until next year, but she finds it difficult to concentrate, even on her favourite subject, when all her mind wants to focus on is the memory of Nicole’s scent enveloping her body as her soft lips slowly tease Waverly across the precipice into heaven.
Because the problem is, Waverly isn’t trying to alleviate boredom (an advanced runes textbook would usually do a more than good enough job of that), she’s trying to distract herself from thoughts of Nicole before she has a complete mental breakdown from replaying that kiss over and over again in her mind.
It’s all very overwhelming. Waverly is having a difficult enough time comprehending the fact that she does have feelings for Nicole, let alone what those feelings might mean for the future of their relationship, whether that’s as friends or something more. It feels so incredibly sudden – Waverly has never felt like this about a girl before, or maybe not about anybody – but when she compares it to Champ, who pestered her for three weeks until she finally gave in and agreed to go out with him, it also feels very right.
When getting lost in the whirlwind of her own mind gets a little too much, Waverly pays a visit to the local Muggle library and after a failed attempt at using their computers (she knows that there’s a thing called an ‘internet’ that will supposedly answer any question that she asks it but she has no idea how to use it and asking the elderly Muggle librarian for help is just not an option when a Muggle her age would know how to do it by herself) she settles for doing her research the old-fashioned way – with a book.
There are only a couple of books in the library that discuss sexuality, and Waverly tucks herself away in a corner as she pores over them, learning the meaning of words that she’s never even heard of before. It’s all very fascinating stuff to read and is certainly at least a little bit helpful. Waverly comes away from the experience with the knowledge that there are lots of possible labels for what she’s feeling towards Nicole, but that at the end of the day, all that really matters is the fact that she does have feelings for Nicole, and that she wants to act on them.
As promised, she and Nicole correspond by owl every few days. Nicole doesn’t have an owl of her own, instead an orange cat called Calamity Jane that Waverly briefly met on the train from Hogwarts to King’s Cross at the end of term, but they send Waverly’s owl back and forth with letters talking about how fed up Waverly is of her sisters, while Nicole tells Waverly about the work she’s doing helping out in a bakery owned by her aunt in the busy run up to Christmas.
Nicole finishes each letter with a variation of “I miss you” and each time Waverly sees those words written in Nicole’s loopy handwriting, she feels herself falling a little bit more for the girl on the other end of these letters.
Waverly’s owl arrives on Christmas morning laden with so many parcels that it’s a wonder she could even fly carrying such a load. There are three large gifts wrapped in brown paper and neatly labelled and addressed in Nicole’s familiar handwriting, one for Waverly, one for Wynonna, and a third for ‘the Earp/McCready family’.
Waverly tears the paper off her own gift with careful enthusiasm to find an unlabelled white box inside, but when she lifts the lid the aroma of sugary treats fills the air as she reveals the contents. There’s an assortment of cakes, biscuits, and other baked delights inside, as well as a few brightly coloured Muggle sweets and chocolates. There’s a small folded note in the corner and Waverly extracts it from its sticky confines, opening it to read Nicole’s writing.
Merry Christmas! Here are a selection of treats from my aunt’s bakery. Try them and let me know what you think – she’s always looking for honest feedback and suggestions to make things better!
I also included some Muggle chocolates following that conversation we had a few weeks ago. You can thank me later for enlightening you!
Missing you loads and can’t wait to see you in January!
“Holy mother of Merlin,” Wynonna groans in delight from across the room. There’s powdered sugar on her nose and she’s already two mouthfuls into one of the doughnuts in her own gift from Nicole. “These are possibly the best doughnuts I’ve ever had.”
The box addressed to the entire family contains a Christmas cake and Aunt Gus looks positively thrilled at the sight of it, rushing it off to the kitchen for safekeeping away from Wynonna’s already sticky hands, before reminding Waverly to thank Nicole for her generosity.
Waverly agrees as she tears the shiny purple wrapper off something that calls itself a ‘Curly Wurly’, not even caring that the hard caramel almost glues her back teeth together. The conversation she had with Nicole about Muggle versus Wizarding confectionary took place almost two months ago just after the visit to Hogsmeade the solidified their new friendship, and Waverly is both surprised and touched that Nicole remembers it well enough to have sent Waverly a few treats to try.
Not to mention the delicious-looking baked goods. If the obscene sounds that Wynonna is making as she tucks into a second doughnut are anything to go by, Waverly’s assortment of cakes will be just as tasty as they look.
It’s one of the nicest, most thoughtful gifts that Waverly has ever received, and that includes the set of expensive quills she opened from Aunt Gus less than an hour ago, and the fact that it comes from Nicole has Waverly’s heart fluttering like a swarm of excited pixies in her chest.
When Nicole catches sight of Waverly on Platform Nine and Three Quarters in January, she trips over her own feet and almost sends the trolley holding her trunk, her cat, and her broomstick sprawling across the platform. She’s grateful that she manages to right herself at the last minute. Nicole is returning to school with an unofficial New Year’s resolution to be cool and suave around Waverly following their kiss last term, and upending her trolley before she’s even had the chance to say hi to Waverly would shatter her plans in an instant.
It’s just that Waverly looks angelic, dressed in a snow white jumper knitted from the fluffiest wool Nicole has ever seen and with her long hair tumbling in perfect curls over her shoulders. Across the platform, Waverly tips her head back and laughs at something that Chrissy Nedley says, and Nicole’s heart soars at how pure Waverly’s happiness is.
And then Waverly turns her head and her eyes meet Nicole’s across the platform, and Nicole is glad that she’s standing still because if she were moving, she is certain that she would end up in a crumpled heap on the floor beneath a pile of her own luggage.
Waverly excuses herself from Chrissy and then manoeuvres her way through the crowd of students and parents swarming the platform, until she is standing in front of Nicole with a beaming grin on her face.
“Hey, you,” Nicole greets Waverly breathlessly.
“Is that all I’m getting?” Waverly pouts playfully. “Come on, where’s my hug? It’s been three frickin’ weeks since I last saw you!”
Nicole lifts her hands from the trolley, prying her fingers out of the white-knuckle grip they have on the metal handle, and wraps her arms around Waverly’s shoulders at the same time that Waverly’s squeeze her around the middle. Their height different means that Nicole’s face buries itself into the fluffy hair just above Waverly’s right ear and she inhales deeply. Waverly’s scent is intoxicating, a floral perfume masking an underlying musky aroma that Nicole thinks is probably just Waverly herself. It reminds her of the last time she was close enough to fill her nostrils with this smell and how Waverly’s perfume clung to her school jumper for days after they kissed in the library.
A heavy blush rises to Nicole’s cheeks at the memory and she is grateful that it’s January and she can pass the colour off as her reaction to the chill in the air.
“So how was your holiday?” asks Waverly, excitement in her eyes.
“It was good,” Nicole replies with a nod. “It’s always nice to go back to the Muggle world and take a break from all the magic, but I can’t wait to be back at Hogwarts.”
“Thank you for the present, by the way,” Waverly says with a smile. “Those cakes were scrumptious.”
Nicole smiles to herself, because Waverly Earp is the only person who would use the word ‘scrumptious’ unironically and get away with it.
“I’ll tell my aunt you enjoyed them,” says Nicole.
“Wynonna enjoyed her gift too,” Waverly continues. “She even threatened to move into your aunt’s bakery full time when she leaves Hogwarts! She seemed amazed that Muggles are able to make such good doughnuts without the use of magic. Of course, I told her that doughnuts are a classic Muggle treat that probably originated from the Dutch olykoek but she told me to shut up and stop being a nerd.”
“Hey, do me a favour,” says Nicole, reaching out to rest her hand on Waverly’s shoulder as she looks earnestly into Waverly’s eyes. “Never stop being a nerd around me, okay? It’s one of the things I like most about you.”
Waverly’s eyebrows shoot up and Nicole can tell that she’s trying to hide the shy little smile that passes across her lips, which in turn has Nicole blushing again. Nicole suddenly becomes aware that this is the first time they’ve spent one-on-one time with each other since their kiss and that despite their frequent owls over the Christmas holidays, the kiss is not a subject that they’ve discussed, or even mentioned in passing, at all.
For all intents and purposes, it could have been a product of Nicole’s imagination.
Except that the memory of the press of Waverly’s lips against hers, the feeling of Waverly’s soft hands caressing her face and cupping her jaw, the pressure of Waverly’s slight frame pressed between her own body and the bookshelf, are all far too vivid to be just a dream.
Which means that it really happened, and that it’s something that they should probably talk about before things have the chance to get weird.
“So I think that maybe we should talk abou-” Nicole starts, but her suggestion is cut off by the shrill screech of the conductor’s whistle piercing the air, informing everybody on the platform that the train will be departing in five minutes.
“We should get your luggage onto the train,” Waverly says, lifting Nicole’s broomstick off the trolley and tucking it under one arm, while picking up the carrier containing Nicole’s orange cat in the other hand. “Mine’s already onboard. I saved us a compartment.”
Nicole nods with a swallow, frowning as she considers whether Waverly knows what Nicole was about to say and is choosing to ignore the conversation that they so desperately need to have, or if the loud whistle has just distracted her from the fact that Nicole was mid-sentence at the time.
Hauling her trunk off the trolley, Nicole wheels it along behind her as she follows Waverly to the nearest train door and between the two of them, they manage to get all of Nicole’s luggage on board the train with a couple of minutes to spare. Waverly leads the way down the narrow corridor, past compartments full of Hogwarts students happy to be reunited with their friends after three weeks apart, until Waverly slides open the door to one that is empty but for Waverly’s large trunk in the rack above the seats and her owl in a cage on the floor in the centre.
The train rumbles into life, slowly pulling out of the station as it starts its long journey up north, and Nicole decides to make another attempt at talking to Waverly about the kiss.
“Anyway,” says Nicole, as they store her trunk next to Waverly’s, “as I was saying out on the platform…”
Nicole lets out a groan of frustration as the compartment door slides open and Waverly’s friend Jeremy enters. All she wants is to check in with Waverly and make sure that the kiss they shared isn’t going to affect their friendship, as well as possibly testing the waters to see if her feelings for Waverly are reciprocated beyond one spur of the moment kiss following a heated encounter with Willa. But it seems like the universe is throwing everything at her to prevent that conversation from ever happening. And Nicole doesn’t believe in omens – three years of the bullshit that was Divination classes made sure of that – but it feels a lot like there’s a greater force at work telling her not to have this conversation at all.
“Do you mind if I sit with you guys?” Jeremy asks, gesturing to the empty seats in their compartment.
Nicole is in half a mind to tell Jeremy that yes, she does mind, and could he please go away and leave her alone with Waverly for the foreseeable future, but then Wynonna chooses that exact moment to push past Jeremy and sprawls sideways across three whole seats. Nicole realises that the Hogwarts Express is the very last place that she and Waverly are going to find some privacy.
“’Sup, Haught,” says Wynonna. “Good holidays?” Her eyes fall on Jeremy, who is still hovering awkwardly by the open compartment door, and she scowls at him before asking, “What’s the dork doing here?”
“Sorry, I’ll just…” mumbles Jeremy, gesturing over his shoulder as he takes a couple of steps back out of the compartment.
“No!” Waverly protests, grabbing Jeremy by the wrist and pulling him fully inside. “Ignore Wynonna, she can be a bitch in the mornings. You’re more than welcome to sit with us.” Turning her attention to Nicole, Waverly asks innocently, “What were you saying, Nicole?”
Disheartened, Nicole tries not to let it show on her face and shrugs as she sits down opposite Wynonna in the seat next to the window and answers, “Oh, it was nothing.”
Taking her seat next to Nicole, as Jeremy takes the third on their side of the compartment, Waverly says, “Wynonna, I told Nicole how much you enjoyed those doughnuts.”
There is not much that can get a horizontal Wynonna to sit up, but talk about doughnuts is one of those things. Wynonna shoots upright, leaning forward as she says to Nicole, “They were fucking incredible. I would let those doughnuts do some really nasty things to me.”
“Ew,” winces Nicole. “I won’t pass that feedback on to my aunt. I’ll just tell her that you really enjoyed them.”
“Is you aunt single?” asks Wynonna. “Can I marry her?”
“She’s been happily married for sixteen years and has two kids.”
“Damn,” groans Wynonna, collapsing back against the seat. “I’m going to need a constant supply of doughnuts to stop me from falling into a deep depressive cycle.” Wynonna pauses, her eyes flicking between the three of them, before she finally prompts them impatiently, “Aren’t you going to ask what’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” Jeremy asks obediently, eager to get on Wynonna’s good side.
“I’m glad you asked,” Wynonna says, as if she didn’t invite him to do so beforehand. “Dolls has a girlfriend.”
Nicole’s eyebrows shoot upwards in surprise. She likes Dolls but she can’t imagine him with a girlfriend. He’s always very work-oriented, focused on classes and homework and prefect duties and it surprises her that he’s got the time for a girlfriend, let alone managed to actually managed to find himself one.
It also surprises Nicole that his girlfriend is not Wynonna, considering the fact that she knows Dolls has a bit of a thing for the middle Earp sister, but when she reminds herself of Wynonna’s current state as Hogwarts’ resident hot mess, she realises that Wynonna is clearly not ready to have a boyfriend, whether that is Dolls or anybody else.
“Dolls has a girlfriend?” Waverly exclaims, echoing Nicole’s surprise. “But I thought that he and you…”
“I know, right!” Wynonna nods emphatically in agreement. “I’ve been flirting with him for like, at least a year and a half. I thought we had a good thing going.”
“Flirting with him for a year and a half but also sleeping with Doc Holliday and being quite public about it,” Nicole reminds Wynonna, wincing as she earns a scowl in response to her truthfulness. “Maybe Dolls is fed up of the mixed signals.”
Wynonna grumbles indistinguishably under her breath for a few seconds, before saying, “Maybe, but Eliza fucking Shapiro? He’s going to replace me with that bitch?”
“I’m sure she’s a very nice girl,” Waverly pipes up.
“The only thing nice about Eliza Shapiro is her taste in underwear,” Wynonna replies. With a reluctant shrug, she continues, “That girl can rock a bit of lace.”
Wynonna continues to surprise Nicole and as she frowns in confusion, Nicole dares to ask, “How do you-? You’re not even in the same house.” Nicole shakes her head, before saying, “Never mind, I don’t think I even want to know how you know that.”
Nicole takes a little bit of consolation from the fact that Waverly looks equally as confused beside her, while Jeremy seems positively harrowed by the thought of a girl wearing lacy underwear, his face pale and his eyes wide in revulsion.
Before Wynonna is able to provide them with an answer as to why she is knowledgeable on the underwear preferences of one of her female classmates, the compartment door slides open yet again and Doc Holliday hovers in the doorway.
“Hello ladies,” he greets the three girls, before turning his attention to Jeremy, and holding out his hand. “I don’t think we’ve met. You can call me Doc.”
“Doc Holliday,” Jeremy says enthusiastically, grasping Doc’s hand with both of his own. “I’m Jeremy. I’m a huge fan … I mean, I’ve always looked up to you and-”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jeremy,” says Doc, interrupting Jeremy’s babbling admiration.
Nicole represses a laugh at the way Jeremy looks like he might pass out from excitement, and she makes a mental note to tease Jeremy about his little crush on the older boy at a later time.
“You doing anything tonight, Doc?” Wynonna asks the newest arrival to their compartment, raising her eyebrows as a suggestive smirk passes across her lips, apparently forgetting her sadness at Dolls’ new relationship status from just a few moments ago. “Wanna hang out? Maybe in one of those disused classrooms on the fifth floor…?”
“Ew,” Waverly grimaces, and knowing both exactly what Wynonna means by ‘hang out’ and what Hogwarts’ older students tend to use those disused classrooms for, Nicole has to agree.
“I’m afraid I have already promised tonight to Rosita,” replies Doc apologetically. “Speaking of, I need to go and find her now. It was nice to see you all again. A pleasure to meet you, Jeremy.”
As soon as Doc is out of earshot, Wynonna lets out a disgruntled huff.
“Rosita?” she asks incredulously. “Rosita Bustillos? As in Tits McGee?”
Rosita is a Ravenclaw in Nicole and Wynonna’s year; smart, witty, and top of the year in Potions for five years in a row. Not to mention the fact that she’s very pretty and, as Wynonna has less that eloquently pointed out, has assets in other areas too. Nicole would be lying if she said that she didn’t used to have a little bit of a crush on Rosita during their fourth year, and she can certainly see why Wynonna is feeling threatened by Doc’s newfound friendship with the girl.
That doesn’t mean that she can justify Wynonna’s annoyance.
“So let me get this straight?” Nicole says to Wynonna, well aware that she’s venturing into dangerous territory by giving Wynonna a harsh dose of the truth. “You’re mad because after stringing not one but two guys along for the best part of two years, they’ve both decided it’s not worth it and are showing an interest in other girls?”
As predicted, Wynonna scowls at Nicole and retorts, “Ouch, Haught. Why have you got to shame me like this?” Wynonna lets out a dramatic sigh and falls back against the seats again, crossing one leg over the other as she says, “Life would be so much easier if I were a lesbian. You’re so lucky you don’t have to deal with men.”
Nicole almost lets out a snort at Wynonna’s words. She’s well aware that Wynonna doesn’t have any nasty intentions with what she’s said, but it’s the fact that she hasn’t stopped to think just how her words could be perceived that hurts Nicole more than what she actually says.
Next to Nicole, Waverly lets out an indignant little huff and folds her arms, and Nicole feels a rush of affection for the way that Waverly must have picked up on what Wynonna failed to think about.
“I mean, the homophobia is a bitch,” Nicole reminds Wynonna, her voice laced with ire, “the dating options are non-existent, and it comes with a side order of anxiety and internalised self-hatred that can take years to overcome, but yeah, at least I don’t have to deal with men. Oh, except that I do because sometimes even being out and proud isn’t enough to stop them from being entitled jerks.”
Wynonna’s face falls and she has the decency to look genuinely guilty as she apologises.
“Shit, Nicole. I didn’t think. I’m sorry. I’m an asshole. Feel free to hex me into next year for making that dick comment.”
Nicole nods and shoots Wynonna a soft smile to let her know that the apology is accepted and that there’s no animosity between them, while Waverly leans across the gap between their seats and rests a hand on Wynonna’s knee.
“Wynonna,” Waverly says to her sister, “Doc and Dolls are both fundamentally good-hearted guys. I know it must suck to feel like you have to choose between them, but you need to stop messing them about or you’ll lose both of them for good.”
Wynonna tucks both hands behind her head and closes her eyes, trying to mask her feelings with indifference, but the slight tremor in her voice as she speaks gives away her disappointment as she reluctantly admits, “I think it might already be too late.”
The compartment falls silent for a few long seconds as the three girls contemplate Wynonna’s predicament, before it is broken by Jeremy, who has apparently not been listening to a single word that has been spoken in the last few minutes. He glances around at the three of them, eyes wide and face thrumming with excitement, his right hand held up slightly in front of him as he looks at it in awe.
“I can’t believe Doc freaking Holliday shook my hand!”
Waverly wants to talk to Nicole about this kiss that they shared but she doesn’t know how to. Well, what she actually wants is to kiss Nicole again and again and again until she’s deliriously drunk on the taste of Nicole’s lips, but she recognises that they need to talk before that can happen. The problem is that starting the conversation with Nicole, the “I kissed you and I like you and I want you to like me back” conversation, is about as appealing as the prospect of throwing herself off the top of the Astronomy Tower.
Waverly thinks that she’s already made her stance on the situation pretty clear. She doesn’t go around just kissing anybody and Nicole knows that, and Waverly is sure that Nicole is more than clever enough to figure out that Waverly would only do that because she has feelings for Nicole. The next call is Nicole’s to make and so Waverly stays quiet and waits for it.
One day turns into two, which turns into three, and then a whole week has passed and they still haven’t talked about it. And it seems weird to bring it up after a week of not doing so and then Waverly’s mind tricks her into thinking that perhaps it would be a better idea to just forget about it completely, and what if that’s Nicole plan all along, to just not mention it and hope that Waverly has forgotten about it too, and sweet mother of Merlin, Waverly hates trying to second guess both herself and Nicole!
When did relationships become so freaking difficult?
Oh, that’s right. When Waverly stopped dating Champ the worthless douchebag and started pursuing somebody that she actually has terrifyingly genuine feelings for. That’s when.
Waverly tries to talk to Nicole about the kiss. At least, that’s what she tells herself each time she finds herself with a brief moment of alone time with the Hufflepuff and the opportunity to finally talk, spending minutes hyping herself up, only to chicken out at the last minute with an internal promise of next time.
Yet each ‘next time’ is exactly the same as the one before, and so the situation remains unresolved.
And with Hufflepuff’s next Quidditch match rapidly approaching, meaning that every spare minute that Nicole has is spent out on the Quiditch pitch training with her team, the ‘next time’ moments become fewer and farther between until Waverly reaches the hopeless realisation that maybe they actually aren’t going to have this conversation at all. Maybe that kiss is destined to fall forgotten, collecting dust like the underused books on the library shelves it took place amongst.
It’s been nearly two years since Waverly last attended a Hogwarts Quidditch match, but on Saturday morning she finds herself making her way down to the stadium with the rest of the student body to watch Nicole’s team take on Slytherin.
The January winds are icy and Waverly firmly believes that nobody should have to go outside in such weather, let alone be forced to endure what could end up being hours sitting outside watching sport, but Waverly made a promise to Nicole and she’s not going to break it again, not when Nicole looked so excited at the prospect of Waverly being in the crowd.
Besides, as well as her thick cloak, gloves, and earmuffs, Waverly is wrapped up in a yellow and black Hufflepuff scarf borrowed from Nicole, and the fact that the scent of vanilla dipped-donuts – the scent of Nicole – still clings to the wool, somehow warms Waverly up against the almost arctic conditions in the Quidditch stadium.
Though she doesn’t share the enthusiasm for the sport that the rest of the crowd seems to have, Waverly claps as the two teams walk out onto the pitch, cupping her hands around her mouth to amplifiy her cheers as the commentator announces Nicole’s name whilst reading out the list of players for each team.
And then, before she knows it, all fourteen players are soaring into the air as the referee blows the whistle and releases the balls.
Waverly doesn’t pay much attention to the game itself. Instead, she is captivated by how at ease Nicole looks on a broomstick. Her canary yellow robes billow out behind her as she expertly steers her broom back and forth in front of the three towering hoops she’s been tasked to defend.
Nicole gets her first touch of the Quaffle a couple of minutes into the game, speeding into its path as one of the Slytherin Chasers tries to send it past her through the right hand hoop, catching the red ball nimbly between her fingertips and then sending it soaring through the air to one of her teammates as Hufflepuff make a counterattack.
Waverly cheers along with the Hufflepuff crowd as Nicole makes her expert save, and it registers in the back of her mind that if she’d known Nicole played Quidditch sooner, she probably wouldn’t have stopped coming to Quidditch games in her third year. Waverly decides that’s she’s really missed out by not watching Nicole play before. Nicole is an elegant flyer, but it’s not just that. There’s a passion that comes through in the way that she plays, an effortless interaction with the other players on her team that can only have come from the hours upon hours that Waverly knows Nicole has spent at training, and not even a hint of the brash conceitedness that Waverly has come to mentally associate with Quidditch players.
“She must be quite some friend if she’s got you coming to a Quidditch game,” Jeremy mumbles from beside Waverly. When she turns to look at him, there’s a knowing smile on his face, and Waverly wonders whether Jeremy’s super intellect extends to being able to tell that Nicole is so very much more than just ‘some friend’ to Waverly.
“I have a confession,” admits Waverly, as the secret that has been gnawing at her for weeks begs to be shared, “but you have to absolutely promise not to tell anybody else.”
“I swear,” nods Jeremy, clenching his hand into a fist and holding it to his chest above where his heart is. “Anything you tell me stays between us.”
Waverly glances around to check that nobody is eavesdropping, but they are all too busy paying attention to the game, where Hufflepuff have just sent the Quaffle flying past the Slytherin keeper and through the central hoop.
“I kissed Nicole,” she admits, her pounding heart settling in her chest as she finally says the three words that have been troubling her mind for weeks out loud. “It was before Christmas. I kissed her and she kissed me back and…”
“Nicole Haught?” Jeremy asks, gesturing to the figure in yellow robes hovering in front of the hoops at the end of the pitch closest to them, as if there could be another Nicole that Waverly is referring to.
When Waverly nods, Jeremy throws his arms around her without warning and wraps her in a tight hug.
“What’s this for?” she asks him breathlessly, the air in her lungs squeezed out by the force of his hug.
“It’s a solidarity hug,” Jeremy tells her as he pulls away. With a grin, he explains, “Us gays have to stick together. Wait, you are…?”
Jeremy trails off and the grin disappears, replaced with an expression of doubt as he waits for Waverly to confirm her sexuality for him.
“I think so,” Waverly nervously admits. “Well, I don’t know what I am, but I’m definitely something.”
After weeks of self-doubt, it feels like a weight has been lifted off Waverly as she finally unburdens what has been playing on her mind. And it feels so good that Waverly wonders why she didn’t tell anybody sooner.
“Labels are for food,” Jeremy shrugs, dismissing the thought with a wave of his hand. “I’m so happy for you though. You and Nicole make such a cute couple.” He pauses for thought, then says triumphantly, “Wayhaught!”
“What?” Waverly asks, frowning in confusion at the nonsense word that Jeremy has just blurted out.
“It’s your couple name,” Jeremy explains, as if it is supposed to be obvious. “Half your name and half hers. Like Jeriday – that’s my name for me and Doc Holliday. Entirely hypothetical, of course, but can you blame a guy for dreaming?”
“Nicole and I aren’t…” Waverly trails off with a sigh as she tries to collect her thoughts, something which is much easier said than done now that she has the idea of her and Nicole as a couple planted in her mind, her brain swelling with blissful imaginings of what it would be like to just be with Nicole, to walk around the castle hand in hand and not have to worry about what anybody else thinks or says about them. It makes her sad that it isn’t a reality. “Listen, I like her a lot, but I don’t think she likes me back. Not like that.”
“Has she said as much to you?” Jeremy arches an eyebrow at Waverly.
There’s a cheer from the crowd at the other end of the stadium, and Waverly glances up at the match she’d almost forgotten was taking place around them to see that Nicole has just let in her first goal of the game, making the score thirty points to ten in Hufflepuff’s favour. Nicole handles the loss well, barking an instruction out to her teammates before shooting the Quaffle off in a long throw to an unmarked Chaser, exactly as she would have done if she had saved the goal.
Turning her attention back to Jeremy, Waverly nibbles anxiously at her lower lips as she answers his question.
“No,” she admits. “But she hasn’t said anything about it at all. I think she’s trying to forget that it ever happened.”
“Okay, here’s my next question,” Jeremy says thoughtfully. He leans in a little closer, then raises his eyebrows as he asks, “Have you said anything about the kiss to her?”
“And are you trying to forget it ever happened?” Jeremy presses on, and Waverly can tell both that he already knows the answer and exactly what point he is going to make next.
“Of course not!”
“And that’s my point,” Jeremy tells her knowledgably. “She’s probably feeling exactly the same, waiting for you to bring it up. Think about it – she’s openly gay and there have already been rumours about her having feelings for you. Your sexuality is a mystery to her, other than the fact that you kissed her once and then didn’t mention it for weeks. She’s probably worried about feeling like she’s trying to force herself onto you.”
Waverly hates to admit that Jeremy is right but he is. And maybe, just maybe, if Waverly had realised this sooner, she could have saved herself two weeks of anguish.
A plan is already formulating in Waverly’s mind, a plan where she finds Nicole after the game to either congratulate or commiserate her, before just saying fuck it and confessing how she feels to Nicole. The risk of doing so is that things will become weird and that she could lose Nicole as a friend, but knowing Nicole as well as she does, Waverly also knows that Nicole will do all that she can to not let that become a reality. But the reward, Waverly realises as she glances up at Nicole again and falls a little bit more for the Hufflepuff Keeper, could be the best thing to ever happen to her.
“I’ll talk to her,” Waverly relays her thoughts to Jeremy. “Tonight. I’ll do it after the…”
Jeremy’s hand clasping around Waverly’s wrist, his other arm extended in front him as he points at the Quidditch field, is enough to cut Waverly off mid-sentence and she turns to look at the game unfolding before them.
“And it looks as though Slytherin Seeker Willa Earp has spotted the golden snitch!” the commentator announces through his megaphone. “She’s diving from what must be a hundred and twenty feet, and the Hufflepuff Seeker is hot on her tail!”
Waverly watches, her eyes wide, as the green blur that is Willa speeds through the air. The entire crowd falls silent, on tenterhooks as they wait to see whether the capture of the snitch will signal the conclusion of this match after barely fifteen minutes of gameplay.
Despite the excitement of the two Seekers racing each other to the snitch, the rest of the game continues around them. An attack by the Slytherin Chasers sends the Quaffle flying towards the hoops at Nicole’s end of the pitch and she speeds to her left to stop it, catching it deftly in one hand, while oblivious to the other threat hurtling towards her from above.
Waverly realises what’s going to happen a split second before it does and her heart stops in her chest, frozen in time. Nicole’s perfect save has thrown her right into the path of the two oncoming Seekers and there’s nothing anybody can do to stop the imminent collision. It seems to happen in slow motion, but when Waverly opens her mouth to scream out a warning to Nicole, no noise leaves her mouth.
Willa pulls away at the last minute, the tail end of her broomstick just clipping Nicole as Willa swoops out of the way and begins another lazy lap of the pitch, no sign of the golden snitch anywhere to be found.
The Hufflepuff Seeker is not so lucky. Believing Willa to be chasing the tiny golden ball that could make or break the match, he is less aware of his surroundings and where Willa swerves to avoid Nicole, he doesn’t notice her until it is too late. There is a sickening crunch as he collides with Nicole, followed by a unified groan from the crowd, and both players tumble from their broomsticks in a messy tangle of yellow robes.
This time, when Waverly screams Nicole’s name, it seems to reverberate throughout the entire stadium.
Before you yell at me for them not talking about the kiss, I'd like to remind you that they are useless gay teenagers, one of whom is in the middle of a sexual identity crisis. I promise you that the communication issues will be explained and resolved in the next chapter.
As for the cliffhanger, feel free to yell at me about that as much as you like!
When Nicole wakes up, she wonders for a moment if she’s gone to heaven. It’s partly because the room is bathed in bright light, with white sheets and curtains and a pillow behind her head that is so soft that it could actually be a cloud, but mostly because there is what can only be an actual angel sitting in the chair beside her bed and holding her hand.
And then the angel flies at her, letting out an incoherent squeal as she almost climbs on top of Nicole and wraps her arms around Nicole tightly enough to force the air out of her lungs, and she realises that this can’t be heaven because Nicole hurts everywhere and there’s no way that this much pain can coexist alongside angels.
“Wave … hurts …” Nicole wheezes.
“Oh jeez,” Waverly apologises, perching herself delicately on the edge of the chair beside Nicole’s bed and taking Nicole’s hand in her own again, lacing their fingers together with care. “I’m just so happy you’re awake.”
Nicole looks around at her surroundings, the clinically white bed in which she lies in the hospital wing secluded from the rest of the room by curtains on either side of her. For the first time, she notices the source of some of her pain, a sling looped around her neck and holding her throbbing right arm up against her chest. It’s not the only place that aches, and part of Nicole doesn’t really want to know what other injuries she has beneath the hospital gown she wears.
“What happened to me?” she asks Waverly, her memory of the series of events that led to her current predicament fuzzy at best.
“Do you not remember?”
Nicole screws her face up in concentration as she tries to recall exactly what she remembers last.
“I was playing Quidditch and then…” Nicole pauses, and shakes her head when nothing comes to her, continuing, “and then I wasn’t.” Her face falls as she remembers the match, and her mouth falls open in horror at the thought of letting her team down when they need her the most. “Oh no, the Quidditch game! I need to get back out and carry on play- ouch!”
Nicole winces as she tries to push herself up into a seated position and it met by a searing pain in her side. Waverly’s hands are on Nicole in an instant, gently lowering her back down to the bed with a concern written all over her face.
“Careful!” Waverly warns her. “You cracked three of your ribs, broke your arm in two places, and you’re very lucky that everything else is just bruised.”
“But the game…” Nicole protests feebly.
“Honestly, Nicole,” Waverly rolls her eyes impatiently, though there’s the barest hint of a smile on her lips that tells Nicole that she’s not actually annoyed, as she continues, “you Quidditch players are the worst. I’m pretty sure the game is over by now. You’ve been out for most of the day.”
“What was the score?” asks Nicole, gripping Waverly’s hand as if her life depends on it. And, if she’s completely honest, her life does depend on knowing that her teammates were able to keep going without her and win the game.
“I don’t know,” Waverly shrugs, squeezing Nicole’s fingers back in a silent apology. “I’ve been by your side since they stretchered you off the pitch.”
“You didn’t stay to watch the end of the game?” asks Nicole, and thought there is a part of her that is disappointed that she will have to wait for somebody else to tell her what the result was, she’s mostly just incredibly touched that Waverly chose to leave in the middle of the game and has given up the rest of her day just to wait for Nicole to awaken. Nicole feels a fresh rush of affection for the girl that is already rapidly becoming the owner of a large chunk of her heart.
“Of course not, silly,” Waverly shakes her head. She looks into Nicole’s eyes with the utmost sincerity in her own, as she explains, “I needed to know that you were going to be okay and I wanted to be here when you woke up. Besides, you were kind of the only reason I even went to the game.”
For the briefest moment, Nicole wonders whether pretty girls with soft hands and disarming words are known to have healing abilities, because with Waverly by her side saying things like that, Nicole almost forgets that she’s broken multiple bones in her body.
“Really?” Nicole asks breathlessly.
“Yeah,” says Waverly, nodding shyly. Her thumb absently brushes against the soft skin of the back of Nicole’s hand, before she continues. “You’re pretty good, you know.”
Nicole nods and can’t help but shoot Waverly a smug smile, as she replies cockily, “Oh, I know.”
“Don’t be a jerk,” Waverly scolds her, shaking her head disapprovingly, and Nicole falls sombre again. “I don’t have it in me to be mad at you right now. You can’t do this kind of thing to me! You have no idea how worried I’ve been.”
“I’m sorry,” Nicole pouts. “But it’s not like I planned it.”
“No, you didn’t,” agrees Waverly, tilting her head to the side in acknowledgement. Her faces contorts into a frown, eyes hard and the muscles between her eyebrows becoming more prominent as she scowls and says, “But Willa did. That conniving little sneak orchestrated the entire thing.”
“You think so?” asks Nicole. She remembers very little of the accident itself – one minute she was up in the air doing her thing in front of a crowd of hundreds of people, and the next she was in huge amounts of pain right here in the hospital wing – and she wouldn’t be able to explain what happened, let alone locate the right person to pin the blame on.
“I know so,” answers Waverly with complete certainty in her voice. “She’s got it in for you, she always has done. And now I’ve got it in for her.” Waverly lowers her voice to a threatening growl as she says, “She has got no idea what is coming for her when I next see her.”
Nicole swallows, her eyes wide, and she’s honestly a little bit scared on Willa’s behalf at the threat replacing Waverly’s usually sunny demeanor. Nicole has witnessed first-hand what Wynonna is capable of when she’s angry and sharing the same blood, Waverly is no doubt equally as terrifying to cross. Waverly is just as good as, if not a little better than, her older sister at magic, and Nicole can’t even begin to imagine what the outcome might be when those talents are combined with the fierce Earp temper.
“Waves, you can’t hurt her,” Nicole attempts to reason with Waverly. “She’s your own sister.”
“But she…” Waverly pouts, and her voice is strained as she continues, “Nicole, she tried to hurt you.”
“Yeah, she tried,” Nicole points out with a smile. “But I’m fine.”
“Try telling that to your three cracked ribs,” says Waverly, shaking her head. “It’s just that … Merlin, I saw you fall off your damn broomstick and I thought I’d lost you.” Waverly’s eyes begin to swim with tears and she uses the hand not clutching Nicole’s like her life depends on it to wipe at the dampness before it spills down her cheeks. “I’ve been such an idiot these last couple of weeks, waiting for you to say something about the … about what happened in the library before Christmas, and then when I saw you fall I thought I’d lost the chance to tell you how I really feel about you.”
Nicole has to push past a lump in her own throat, her own eyes threatening to sting as she reacts to the evidence, both visual and spoken, of how much Waverly truly does care about her.
“Yeah?” asks Nicole, her mouth just starting to turn up into the smallest of smiles. “And how do you feel?”
“Shit, Nicole, I like you so freaking much,” confesses Waverly, closing her eyes to compose herself before continuing. “It scares me, you know, because I don’t think I ever expected to care about you this much. You’re … you’re everything to me. And yes, I’m scared of how I feel, but I don’t think anything has ever felt more right than the feeling I get in my chest when I look at you. And sometimes, when you look back at me with that cute little smile on your face – yes, that one,” Waverly points an accusatory finger at Nicole and the smile that is slowly spreading across her entire face as she listens to Waverly’s heartfelt ramblings, “I feel like I’m going to explode because how could somebody like you look at me like that.”
Nicole can’t stop the grin on her face, even when it starts aching in her cheeks, because nothing could possibly make her happier than what Waverly has just said. Nicole feels like a complete idiot for not talking to Waverly sooner and any excuse that she’s come up with in the last two weeks to not bring it up (lack of privacy, being distracted by the upcoming match, or simply just being scared of rejection) suddenly feel insignificant. Nicole curses herself for not bringing it up, when they could have spent the last two weeks being abundantly happy with each other instead of skirting around the edge of awkwardness.
“Waves…” Nicole says, somehow finding enough breath in her lungs to get the words out. “I kind of really want to kiss you right now, but I’ve got three cracked ribs and I can’t sit up so could you maybe come a little closer?”
Waverly lets out a little sob as she leans down ever so carefully and presses her lips against Nicole’s. Nicole can feel the dampness of Waverly’s cheeks against her own and if she had the free movement of her hands, she would reach up to wipe Waverly’s tears away, but she can’t. Instead, Nicole uses the part of her body that does have full functionality – her mouth – to gently coax Waverly’s lips open against her own.
It’s nothing like their first kiss, but no less spectacular. Nicole thinks she can taste the raw emotion from Waverly’s recent outpouring on her lips and she drinks it up, trying to kiss back with just as much feeling, trying to convey through the slow movement of her lips against Waverly’s that she feels the same way.
Waverly pulls back from the kiss far too soon, much to Nicole’s disappointment, but when Waverly lays her head down on the shoulder of Nicole’s good arm, her own arm draped carefully across Nicole’s stomach, she doesn’t find herself complaining too much. It can’t possibly be a comfortable position for Waverly – she’s still sitting on the chair beside Nicole’s bed, perched on the edge of the seat with her back bent over so that she can rest her torso next to Nicole’s body – but there’s a certain comfort to having Waverly so close and if Waverly is happy to sit like this, Nicole sure isn’t going to ask her to move.
Waverly has always been affectionate, but now that the confession of feelings is behind them, Nicole’s mind is almost overwhelmed by the realisation that they might get to do cutesy things like cuddle and hold hands as often as they like.
The realisation sends Nicole’s thoughts down a different path. What does this new development mean for their relationship? Are they dating now, or…?
Waverly’s mind seems to have wandered in a similar direction, though much more conclusively, because she muses aloud, “You know, I’ve never had a girlfriend before.”
“A girlfriend?” Nicole’s eyebrows shoot upwards at Waverly’s words. “Is that what I am?”
“I don’t know, do you want to-?” asks Waverly, lifting her head from where it has been resting on Nicole’s shoulder to look at Nicole with a question in her eyes, her teeth chewing on her lower lip as she anxiously awaits Nicole’s response.
Nicole has never had a girlfriend before either, only a brief fling with a Muggle girl in the summer between her fifth and sixth years at Hogwarts, but the thought of being able to call Waverly her girlfriend fills Nicole with more joy than she ever thought it was humanly possible to feel.
“Yes, you idiot,” Nicole grins, watching as Waverly’s body visibly sags in relief. “I want to be your girlfriend.”
Waverly smiles too, then leans in to brush her lips softly against Nicole’s, before she returns to her position against Nicole’s side. Their fingers are still tangled together from earlier, and Waverly’s thumb is painting delicate circles against the back of Nicole’s hand. The whole moment is perfect, beautiful enough to cancel out the pain in Nicole’s chest and other arm, and she wants nothing more than to encapsulate this memory for eternity, so that she can revisit it for years to come.
The moment is perfect, which of course means it’s Wynonna’s cue to crash into the hospital wing and ruin it.
“What’s up, dickheads?”
Nicole half expects Waverly to pull away from her side, to lift her head and disentangle their hands to pretend that she didn’t ask Nicole to be her girlfriend a mere twenty seconds ago. And she wouldn’t blame Waverly for doing do. She knows first-hand how overwhelmingly confusing it can be to question your own sexuality and Nicole is very aware that the whole liking girls thing is still a relatively new concept for Waverly. It would make sense that she wants to hide this from her sister for the time being, until she’s had the chance to fully wrap her head around the idea of being with Nicole.
But Waverly doesn’t draw back, instead apparently content to remain exactly where she is. And Wynonna either doesn’t notice their joined hands and the intimacy of their position, or just chooses not to mention it (knowing Wynonna as well as she does, knowing that Wynonna is both hysterically unobservant and an absolute horror when there’s juicy new gossip to be enjoyed, Nicole suspects it’s the former) because she says nothing on the subject.
“Haught!” Wynonna exclaims in surprise. “You’re awake!”
With Wynonna’s arrival, Nicole almost forgets about Waverly and the recent development in their relationship, a much more pressing issue on her mind.
“Wynonna, you have to tell me the Quidditch result.”
Wynonna’s face falls and Nicole knows what her response is going to be before she even opens her mouth to answer.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Wynonna says with a grimace. “It was a complete shitshow after you went down. Hufflepuff got annihilated.”
“You’re kidding,” groans Nicole, and Waverly’s hand tightens in her own in a silent show of support.
“Nope,” Wynonna shakes her head, before launching into an explanation. “Willa was virtually unopposed, the guy that came on to replace you was an absolute moron, and the Hufflepuff team was completely off their game. Understandably so. I mean, they had just watched two of their team get carried off like corpses.”
Nicole’s heart feels heavy. It’s a bitter disappointment to hear that her team has lost the game, particularly after all the training they’ve been putting in. The Hufflepuff team is definitely better right now than Nicole has seen it since she started at Hogwarts and she knows that they are of the right calibre to win the whole cup if things go their way.
But today things didn’t go the way that they could have done, and Nicole knows that it’s partly down to her. It wasn’t her fault that she fell off her broom, nor that her fall affected the rest of her team when they had to carry on without her, but she can’t help but wish that she’d been paying a little more attention the rest of the game going on around her, instead of focusing on the Quaffle and whether it was heading for the hoops at her end of the pitch. If she’d been paying attention, maybe she could have ducked out of the way at the last minute, saving her team the game and herself a few broken bones.
“Fuck,” Nicole mutters.
“I agree,” nods Wynonna.
“I mean, it’s just a game…” Waverly’s soft voice pipes up as she attempts to reason with the two Quidditch players, though she stops and falls apologetically silent when she receives a glare from both Wynonna and Nicole for her words. Quidditch it never just a game, especially not at Hogwarts when the house rivalry is at its fiercest.
“Babygirl,” says Wynonna, shaking her head disapprovingly in Waverly’s direction, “you may be the smartest person in this goddamn castle, but you don’t have a fucking clue when it comes to Quidditch.”
Nicole hates to side with Wynonna over her new girlfriend, but she agrees with Wynonna’s sentiment entirely, and mumbles, “Wynonna has a point.”
“Slytherin are top of the table and basically guaranteed to win the cup unless Ravenclaw can pull a miracle out of their arses,” Wynonna continues.
Waverly’s eyes widen in surprise. Even she, who knows next to nothing about the sport and has very little interest in how the battle for the highly contested trophy plays out, knows that her own house Quidditch team is useless, having not even come close to challenging for the cup during her time at the school.
“Oh shit…” utters Waverly.
“Exactly,” nods Wynonna. “And even if Ravenclaw can beat Slytherin, it’ll all go down to point difference.”
“Which,” Nicole interjects, “after today, I imagine is in Slytherin’s favour?”
“Unfortunately,” Wynonna replies with a grimance. “And I don’t think I can stomach having to watch Willa take the cup in her final year.” Wynonna sulks for a few seconds, then brightens as she swiftly changes the conversation. “What I can stomach is dinner. You coming, Waverly?”
Waverly glances at Nicole, worry etched on her face, as if she’s asking for Nicole’s permission to leave the hospital wing for some food.
“Go,” Nicole insists, squeezing Waverly’s fingers to let her know that it’s fine. “I’ll be okay on my own. You’ve been by my side all day, you should go and have something to eat. Otherwise you’ll pass out and end up in the bed next to mine.”
“That doesn’t sound like too bad of a thing,” Waverly mumbles, smiling softly in Nicole’s direction. She does push herself up to her feet, however, and leans down to press a gentle kiss to Nicole’s forehead. “Don’t do anything to hurt yourself while I’m gone.”
Nicole grins wickedly up at Waverly as the younger girl makes to leave, and quips, “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Waverly has a girlfriend.
Not just any girlfriend. Waverly would happily wager her third of the contents of the Earp family vault in Gringotts that her girlfriend is better than anybody else’s girlfriend, for one simple reason.
Her girlfriend is Nicole Haught.
Nicole, who even after falling from her broomstick and breaking multiple bones, still manages to look like an ethereal goddess. Nicole, who looks at Waverly as though she is lighting up Nicole’s entire world, when really it should be the other way around. Nicole, whose kisses are as sweet as honey and as addictive as the most powerful drug.
Nicole, who by some miracle that cannot even begin to be explained, seems to want to be able to call Waverly her girlfriend.
Needless to say, Waverly is far too distracted to listen to a single word that Wynonna says on the way down to the Great Hall, switching off as soon as Wynonna starts a critical monologue about the Quidditch results and how much it has ruined her own team’s chances of winning the cup at the end of the school year.
It’s the sight of Waverly’s other sister, who Waverly last saw circling high above the Quidditch pitch like she hadn’t just orchestrated a serious collision between two members of the other team, that is enough to bring Waverly out of her Nicole-induced reverie.
“How fucking dare you!” yells Waverly, charging across the Entrance Hall towards Willa.
She doesn’t stop to think about her actions, just beelines straight for Willa, her anger boiling away inside her and ready to explode. At the sight of Willa, the memories of the Quidditch match coming rushing back and Waverly is flooded with images of Nicole’s limp body falling through the air, of the sickening crunch that seemed to echo throughout the stadium when Nicole’s body hit the grass pitch, of Nicole lying pale and unconscious for hours in the hospital wing while Waverly waited for her to wake up.
“What the hell, Waverly?” demands Willa, when Waverly gets close enough to give her sister a rough shove in the shoulder.
“You attacked Nicole!” seethes Waverly. “You knocked her off her broom!”
Willa is unnervingly calm as she listens to Waverly’s accusations, and the slow smile that spreads across her face once Waverly has finished speaking is chilling.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she tells Waverly, though the look that Waverly can see in her eyes tells the exact opposite story. “She was knocked off her broom by her own Seeker. Everybody saw that.”
Waverly’s insides churn as the weight of Willa’s words hit her. Because it’s the truth. Nobody can dispute the fact that Willa was not the one who actually knocked Nicole from her broom, not even Waverly.
And that’s when Waverly realises just how maliciously clever Willa’s plan was. She intended for the two Hufflepuff players to collide, not only to double the damage done to the opposing team, but to absolve herself of all blame.
“But you planned the whole thing,” Waverly continues, though her accusations feel a hell of a lot weaker now that she knows that nothing she says will ever hold any weight. “It was a nasty trick that has your name written all over it.”
“Nonsense,” counters Willa, her tone aloof but her eyes full of the smug satisfaction of somebody who knows that they can’t be argued against. “I saw the snitch so I dived for it, Haught got in the way, and I had to swerve. If anything, she obstructed me. She’s always had it in for me, you know.”
“You lying bitch,” growls Waverly.
“Careful, Waverly,” Willa wanrs her. “Think about who you’re going to believe, your own sister or that manipulative Mudblood you call a friend?”
Waverly wants to punch Willa. So much so that she swears she can actually feel the fists clenched at her sides thrumming with anger. And with her previously untarnished behaviour record, Waverly realises that she would probably be able to deck Willa in the face and get away with a fairly unsubstantial punishment. She knows for certain that if it were Wynonna in her position, and if Willa was making such comments about somebody that Wynonna cared deeply for, that Wynonna’s fist would have already made contact with Willa’s face.
But Waverly lacks both Wynonna’s recklessness and her complete disregard for the rules, and so she doesn’t punch Willa, no matter how much she feels that Willa deserves to be hit.
“Nicole is ten times the person you-”
“Is there a problem here, ladies?”
Waverly falls silent mid-sentence, disrupted by Professor Lucado’s arrival into the Entrance Hall. Part of Waverly is relieved to see the professor, whose interruption has provided her with an excuse to escape the argument with her sister and avoid having to listen to any more of Willa’s snide insistence that she has done no wrong. However there is also a part of Waverly that finds Professor Lucado’s arrival to be most unwelcome, when all she wants to do is to rip into Willa for her total lack of a moral centre.
“Not anymore,” Willa answers the professor, putting on her best Head Girl smile, though she glares at Waverly out of the corner of her eye.
“Good,” says Lucado. Her eyes flit across to Waverly, then back to Willa, before she continues, “Then I suggest you both move along before I find a reason to put one or both of you in detention.”
Willa nods obediently, straightening her school robes and making her way into the Great Hall for dinner, surrounded by her impenetrable circle of Slytherin’s most heartless bitches.
Waverly, meanwhile, stays where she is, unable to move. Her hands are still clenched into fists at her side, so tight that her fingernails are digging painfully into her palms, and she feels the prickle of tears in her eyes.
“Waverly Earp, did I make myself quite clear?” Lucado’s voice booms out.
“Yes, professor,” Waverly chokes.
Waverly’s relationship with Willa has always been strained, but in this moment, Waverly doesn’t think she’s ever hated Willa more.
The school matron comes around shortly after Waverly leaves to go to dinner and fixes Nicole’s broken bones with a quick wave of her wand. Nicole marvels at the healing spell, feeling nothing but a spreading warmth where the tip of the matron’s wand connects with her skin, and wishes that she’d had magic available to her the last time she broke a bone. (At eight years old, the novelty of having to wear a cast on her wrist for six weeks grew old about two minutes after the last of her friends finished signing the cast, and having the bone fixed in an instant would have been a godsend.)
Though her injuries are healed, the matron instructs Nicole to continue wearing the sling on her arm for a couple more days as a precaution and warns her that her ribs will be tender until the bruising and swelling calms down. She also decides to keep Nicole in the hospital overnight for monitoring, as is standard protocol when a student is knocked unconscious.
Nicole makes an attempt to protest because all she really wants to do is go and find her girlfriend (Nicole mentally squeals because she still can’t believe that she has a girlfriend now) and kiss her again, but exhaustion gets the better of her and she slips into an easy sleep before she can find herself missing Waverly too much.
She dreams of pretty eyes and soft lips and it’s not quite as good as the real thing but it’s pretty damn close and Nicole is happy to make do until she can see Waverly in the flesh tomorrow.
By the following morning, Waverly has calmed down a little bit. By which she means that she can probably ignore her sister’s presence if they happen to cross paths, instead of violently assaulting her.
That is, until she encounters the person that she wants to see second least.
Bobo’s presence, halfway along the quickest route between Ravenclaw Tower and the Great Hall and absolutely nowhere near the Slytherin common room, means that he has to have made a specific effort to venture into this part of the castle. A specific effort, by the looks of it, to come and speak to Waverly. And, just over twelve hours since Waverly had a very public argument with Bobo’s girlfriend, Waverly imagines that it can’t be anything good that he has to say.
“Ladies,” says Bobo, nodding politely to Chrissy and Steph, who flank Waverly’s sides. “Would I be able to have a private word with Waverly?”
The two girls glance at Waverly or confirmation, and she gives them the smallest of nods, inviting them to continue the journey down to breakfast without her while she deals with Bobo.
“Listen, Bobo,” Waverly starts, almost as soon as her friends have left, not giving Bobo a chance to speak before she does. “I don’t want to hear it. Yes, I was probably out of line yesterday, but so was Willa when she…”
“I want to apologise for Willa’s behaviour,” Bobo interrupts.
It’s enough of a surprise to cause Waverly to stop mid-sentence. She’d been expecting anger and threats, a reprimand for her behaviour against Willa yesterday and a warning not to pull a stunt like that again. Bobo is the Head Boy, and between him and Willa, they command a lot of power in the school, both within the student body itself and the staff room. Waverly is fully aware that they could probably make her life a living hell – more so than it currently is, where they can get away with seriously injuring one of Waverly’s best friends in front of a crowd made up of the entire school and more – if they so desired.
Which is why the very last thing she expects to leave Bobo’s lips is an apology on Willa’s behalf.
“She’s been out of line,” Bobo continues, “both on the Quidditch pitch and off.”
“So you’re admitting that Willa was to blame for Nicole’s accident?” Waverly presses him for a confession, knowing that he, more than anybody else, will know the extent of Willa’s role in the incident.
“I think we both know who was responsible for that.”
It’s a frustratingly vague answer, but it tells Waverly what she needs to know, confirming her sister’s culpability without Bobo actually admitting it outright.
“Listen,” says Bobo, reaching out a hand and brushing a loose strand of Waverly’s hair out of the way, before resting it on her shoulder, and though the gesture is intended to comfort, it has Waverly feeling even more on edge than before, something which is only enhanced by the littlest hint of patronisation in his voice. “Willa cares about you a lot. Of course she does, you’re her baby sister.”
“She devised a plan that hurt my … Nicole,” chokes Waverly, changing the end of her sentence at the last minute, though the glint in Bobo’s eye suggests that he didn’t miss it.
“She’s just looking out for you.”
Waverly blinks away the tears in her eyes, and then looks up at Bobo, before she asks, “And what about you? Are you ‘just looking out for me’ too?”
“Of course I am,” leers Bobo. “You’re a very special girl, Waverly. I hope that your Nicole knows that.”
“She does,” insists Waverly, because even though this thing with Nicole is fresh and uncertain and terrifyingly exhilarating in every way, the one thing that she is certain of is that Nicole appreciates her for nothing more or less than exactly who she is as a person.
“Good,” says Bobo. He tilts his head to the side, an unsettling smile on his face, and runs the fingers of one hand through the tuft of white-blonde hair that runs down the centre of his otherwise closely shaven head, before taking a couple of steps backward as he bids farewell to Waverly with a salute. “I’ll see you around, Waverly Earp.”
Sorry for the delay in getting this chapter out. I had to take a little break from writing to try and get my motivation back but it should be business as usual from now on. Thank you for your patience!
I hope you enjoy the enormous amount of gay in this chapter...
“Knight to E4.”
Waverly watches as Nicole’s charcoal coloured knight glides across the checkered board, before knocking over one of Waverly’s ivory pawns.
It’s not how she planned to spend today. With the whole of Ravenclaw house down at the Quidditch pitch watching their team presumably getting slaughtered by their Gryffindor opponents, Waverly took the opportunity to sneak her girlfriend of just two weeks into the deserted Ravenclaw common room for a covert makeout session on one of the soft sofas there. What she did not anticipate was that both of them would get distracted by a chess set laid out on a table before they could get their lips on each other, which is why they find themselves separated by a coffee table instead of wrapped around each other like initially planned.
It strikes Waverly as a terrible waste of time (privacy is hard to come by in Hogwarts and they currently have not only Ravenclaw Tower to themselves, but probably most of the castle too, and they can play chess whenever they like) but Waverly is competitive and so, apparently, is Nicole, so when the suggestion of a quick game of chess gets thrown into the mix, challenging each other becomes the only option.
“This game is obscenely aggressive,” Nicole observes, as Waverly commands her bishop to take one of Nicole’s pieces, knocking it over with a violent swing of its staff and then dragging the stone remains to the edge of the board.
“It’s just chess,” shrugs Waverly, already strategizing her next few moves in her head as her mind starts plotting out all the possible directions this game could go based on the options that Nicole has for her next turn.
“No,” Nicole chuckles softly under her breath, “this is chess on steroids.”
“Steroids?” Waverly repeats, testing the unfamiliar word.
“They’re a kind of drug that Muggles use to build muscle and enhance performance in sport,” Nicole explains quickly. “We have chess in the Muggle world too, only it’s much tamer. The pieces don’t attack each other and you move them by hand like this.”
Nicole reaches out to pick up her queen, only for the game piece to start whacking her thumb with its tiny stone sceptre.
“Ouch,” she yelps, withdrawing her hand as quickly as she would if her hand came into contact with a scalding object. “Queen to D3.”
“That sounds horribly boring,” Waverly muses softly.
Nicole smiles, and then says absently, “I have a chess set at home. Maybe we can have a game when you come and visit me in the holidays.”
Waverly freezes, and she watches the change in Nicole’s facial expression as she realises exactly what she’s just said. The smile falls off her face almost comically, then Nicole glances up at Waverly with guilt in her deep brown eyes as if waiting to see what irreparable damage her slip of the tongue has done to their budding relationship.
“When I … when I come and visit you?” Waverly asks, eyebrows raised as Nicole’s words start to properly sink in, filling her with the same kind of pleasant warmth that Waverly usually associates with drinking butterbeer.
“I didn’t…” Nicole tries to correct her mistake, but Waverly is quick to intervene.
“You want me to come and stay with you? You want me to meet your family?”
“Of course I do,” Nicole replies without hesitation. “That’s what … that’s what girlfriends do, right?”
It takes Waverly a moment to process what Nicole is suggesting, but when she does, a huge grin spreads across her face. Because this is exactly what she wants too, even if she hasn’t realised it until now. She wants to be let into that part of Nicole’s life; to have dinners with her parents and be shown photographs of Nicole from when she was younger, to meet Nicole’s Muggle friends and hear stories about Nicole as a kid, to watch Nicole exist in a world without magic and to fall in love with Nicole more and more with each glimpse she gets into Nicole’s life.
Waverly wants to know all of Nicole, and though spending time with her family during the school holidays is not just daunting but downright terrifying, it’s a logical step in their relationship that Waverly wants to reach and then surpass, until Nicole’s family is her own and vice versa.
“I want that too,” confesses Waverly, trying to reign in her eagerness while her mind flies at the speed of a racing broom with the limitless possibilities of a life with Nicole as they explore each new milestone of their blossoming relationship. “And I want you to visit me too. I know you’ve already met my sisters, but there’s Aunt Gus…”
“I want to meet her,” Nicole nods along enthusiastically. “I know how much she means to you and I want to prove to her that I’m good for you.”
Recalling Aunt Gus’s delight at the treats that Nicole sent her family for Christmas, Waverly replies, “I think she already loves you after that Christmas cake. And she’s only going to love you even more when she meets you.”
“Yeah?” Nicole asks breathlessly, her lips turning up at the corners in a hopeful smile.
Waverly lets out an exhilarated breath, then says, “Merlin, is it weird that I’m so excited by all of this? That even though we haven’t been together for very long, I’m already planning a future with you in it.”
“Not at all. You fit into my life like you’re supposed to be there.”
The chess game between them is long forgotten, and Waverly accidentally nudges the corner of the board in her haste to clamber across to where Nicole sits, knocking several of the stone playing pieces flying as she does so.
“What are you-?” Nicole starts to ask, as Waverly climbs into Nicole’s lap and sweeps her own long hair out of the way in a single swift movement.
“Screw chess. I want to kiss you.”
Nicole’s eyes widen dazedly, as if Waverly’s words hit her like a stunning spell, and she lets out a breathy laugh as her hands shakily seek out Waverly’s hips.
“Well,” Nicole mumbles, as one of Waverly’s hands finds the back of Nicole’s head and pulls her hair from its braid so that she can tangle her fingers into red locks and draw her mouth closer for a kiss, “if you insist…”
To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Gryffindor win the game. Though Nicole kind of wishes that she could have watched the match, she has no regrets, not when her head is still giddy and her lips still tingle from Waverly’s kisses.
Oh boy, what kisses they were. Nicole feels as though she’s been granted an extra twenty years of life, just from the feeling of Waverly’s keen lips on her own. If it were possible for Nicole to kiss Waverly all day every day, you can be damn sure that’s exactly what Nicole would be doing.
At dinner that evening, Wynonna wastes absolutely no time in filling Nicole in with a play-by-play retelling of Gryffindor’s victory, so detailed (if a little biased) that by the time she helps herself to dessert, Nicole feels like she actually went to the match instead of secluding herself in the Ravenclaw common room with a chess set and an eager girlfriend.
“I can’t believe you two skipped out on the game to do homework,” Wynonna complains, her voice a little muffled by the mouthful of chocolate cake she’s just taken.
“Yeah, homework,” Nicole mumbles under her breath.
Beside her, Waverly lets out an almost inaudible laugh, while across the table, Dolls raises an eyebrow and shoots Nicole a look that tells her that her knows exactly what Nicole’s reasons for not attending the Quidditch game were.
Wynonna remains almost comically oblivious.
“We already knew that Ravenclaw would lose,” Waverly reminds her sister. “And I won’t apologise for not wanting to watch you show off on a broomstick for a couple of hours.”
Looking affronted, Wynonna glances across at Nicole, seeking her support. But as much as Nicole likes Quidditch, she thinks she like Waverly even more, and she’s not going to disagree with somebody who kisses Nicole with as much enthusiasm as Waverly has spent today doing.
“Sorry Wy, but she has a point,” Nicole concedes, shrugging apologetically.
Wiping chocolate cake crumbs from her lips, Wynonna gets to her feet with a scowl and says, “Whatever. You can all get bent. I have a victory party to go to.”
As she watches Wynonna leave the Great Hall, Waverly shakes her head and says, “One day, I hope a bludger hits her in the head and knocks some humility into her.”
Nicole laughs softly, then agrees, “We can only hope.”
Waverly loves kissing Nicole.
It’s her new favourite activity. More enjoyable than reading a good book, more rewarding than winning a game of Wizard’s Chess, more comforting than curling up under a cosy blanket beside a crackling log fire. Waverly could do it all day if her schedule were to permit it.
Waverly likes the slow kisses they share when they don’t have to worry about class or Quidditch practice or Prefect duties; she likes the chaste kisses they press to each other’s lips when they part ways for the night after an evening studying together in the library; she likes the carefree kisses that Nicole presses to her forehead or her cheek or her knuckles, a silent reminder that she’s still there; she likes the kisses that are fuelled by a fierce urgency and accompanied by wandering hands that dare to seek out new places.
The deserted classroom is dark, but the fire with which Nicole kisses Waverly could set the entire castle alight. Waverly can only cling to the soft material of Nicole’s grey school jumper and try to kiss back with the same kind of intensity. The feeling of Nicole’s lips sliding against her own is stronger than even the most powerful of spells, like Nicole is charming Waverly with her kisses.
And Nicole seems to be enjoying herself too. She doesn’t moan, but she lets out these little breathy noises that are almost always followed by her lips turning up into a smile against Waverly’s and Waverly loves it. She loves being the one to make Nicole smile but she loves being the one that Nicole kisses, the one that Nicole wants to kiss and enjoys kissing even more.
And Merlin, knowing that sends a thrill of excitement through Waverly’s body, until her lips are tingling and her hands are thrumming with restlessness until she can’t help but slide them up to Nicole head, cupping Nicole’s jaw in the palm of one hand while the fingers of the other knit into her hair and keep Nicole’s mouth anchored against her own.
The action elicits another little gasp from Nicole, and this time it is Waverly who is smiling into the kiss.
“As a Prefect, I feel like I have an obligation to tell you that this corridor is Hogwarts’ second most popular hookup spot,” Nicole mumbles against Waverly’s lips, her voice breathless and a little gravelly, and knowing that she is out of breath because Waverly has been kissing her is yet another boost to Waverly’s ego.
“I think it’s fairly obvious that I didn’t bring you here for a conversation,” Waverly smirks in response. “Besides, the prefects won’t start their patrols until nine and we’ll be gone by then.”
Nicole’s hands slip beneath the lower hem of Waverly’s shirt, carelessly untucked as a result of their recent activities, and find the soft skin of Waverly’s waist underneath the fabric. It tickles at first because Nicole’s hands are a little cold, but Waverly just wants Nicole to be as close to her as physically possible and the skin-to-skin contact is something that she’s been unwittingly craving until this point.
“Oh yeah?” asks Nicole teasingly, as she leans down for another kiss.
Waverly accepts the kiss with an open mouth, letting Nicole’s tongue sweep into her mouth and humming enthusiastically in response. Her hands continue to play with Nicole’s hair, tugging at the locks and running the pads of her fingertips through the soft curls at the nape of Nicole’s neck.
Kissing Nicole induces a delirium within Waverly’s mind, an intoxicating rush swells and courses through each inch of her body. When Nicole kisses her, Waverly feels like she’s soaring high above the world, able to overcome the greatest challenges and knock down the tallest barriers. When she feels like this, Waverly is pretty sure that she could conquer anything.
When she feels like this, having that bubble popped is a horrible plummet back to reality.
Which is exactly what happens when the classroom door crashes open without any warning and Wynonna, of all people, stumbles inside. She isn’t alone. Close behind her is Perry Crofte, a seventh year, whose hand Wynonna drops the second that she notices Waverly and Nicole, who have jumped apart and put several feet of distance between their bodies in an attempt to pretend that they haven’t been making out.
Her eyebrows furrowing into a confused frown, Wynonna asks, “Why are you guys in here?”
Waverly looks up to Nicole with wide eyes, and she looks equally as stumped by the question. They both start speaking at the same time, responding to Wynonna without actually giving her a proper answer, fictional or otherwise, as to what they have been doing.
“We were just…”
They stumble over their words like a pair of babbling idiots, gesturing with their hands where words fail and looking at each other in their desperation for find a reason for why they are tucked away in the dark corner of a secluded classroom just an hour before curfew.
It’s so obvious what they’ve been up to. Waverly’s uniform is crumpled and her school tie askew, her cheeks flushed, her lips swollen. Nicole is equally as dishevelled, her hair unruly from where Waverly’s restless hands have been teasing the red curls between her fingers. Guilt is plastered all over Nicole’s face and Waverly knows that it’s mirrored on her own.
There’s no way that Wynonna can’t know what she’s just interrupted.
And yet she remains unaware.
“You guys should probably pick somewhere other than the hookup corridor to hold your little homework club,” Wynonna says, as if she’s imparting some great and ancient wisdom upon them, rather than just proving her blind foolishness.
For Merlin’s sake, Waverly thinks to herself as she tries to smother a snort, they don’t even have any books with them.
“Well, yeah,” Nicole replies effortlessly, “but we’re practicing spells and we’re not going to get caught if we do it here.”
Waverly’s eyes widen as she catches onto Nicole’s excuse, slipping her wand discreetly out of the waistband of her school skirt so that she can pretend that she’s been holding it the entire time, before improvising, “Nicole is helping me perfect colour-change charms, you know, because she studied them last year.”
Wynonna’s eyes flit between the two girls, and for a moment Waverly thinks that she’s going to realise that they’re lying and bust them for their real use of this deserted classroom. But then Wynonna shrugs it off and Waverly sighs with relief when she realises that they’ve managed to get away with their feeble lies.
“Whatever. Perry and I were just … well, I don’t suppose you’d believe me if I said that we want to practice charms too?”
Waverly cringes, not wanting to know anything more about her sister’s personal life than she already does. (Seriously, why does Wynonna think it’s okay to regularly complain about Hogwarts’ male population and their disappointing skills in the copulatory department while in the presence of her younger sister?)
“Not a chance,” Nicole says to Wynonna.
Wynonna stands there awkwardly for a few more seconds, while Perry stays by her side, a look of inquisition on his face that suggests he might be slightly less blind to Nicole and Waverly’s situation than Wynonna.
“Well,” says Wynonna, after a few moments of excruciating silence. “Perry and I will just …” Wynonna gestures towards the door as she takes a couple of steps back, nudging Perry in the direction of the corridor beyond s she goes. “See you two losers around, I guess.”
Wynonna and Perry disappear out of the classroom as suddenly as they arrived, slamming the door shut behind them and leaving Waverly and Nicole alone once more.
Waverly slides her wand back into the waistband of her skirt now that the façade of practicing charms is no longer needed, and then grimaces in distaste as she says, “I’m sorry, but knowing that Wynonna is getting laid next door kind of kills the mood in here.”
“I can walk you back to Ravenclaw Tower,” suggests Nicole, eyes bright with enthusiasm and no trace to be found of any irritation that their clandestine makeout session has clattered to an abrupt halt following Wynonna’s interruption.
Waverly collects her school jumper from where it lies discarded draped over the back of a chair and pulls it over her head, concealing the shirt beneath it that has been rumpled by Nicole’s keen hands.
“You’re not mad that I haven’t told Wynonna about us yet, are you?” asks Waverly, as Nicole leads the way to the classroom door and opens it so that they can walk out into the corridor outside.
“Why would you think…? I’m not mad, Wave. Of course I’m not.” Nicole reaches for Waverly’s hand and gives her fingers a reassuring squeeze, then laughs softly to herself as she adds, “Besides, it’s almost funny how clueless she is.”
Waverly hums in agreements and slips her fingers between Nicole’s so that their entwined hands hang loosely between them as they start the walk up to Ravenclaw Tower.
“I don’t know,” shrugs Waverly. “I just don’t want you to think that I’m ashamed of being with you. You’re so sure of yourself and I’m … well, this is still really new for me.”
“Yeah, and I know that and understand it completely.” With their intertwined hands, Nicole draws Waverly to a halt and spins her so that they are facing, using her free hand to brush Waverly’s hair over her ear as she says, “Listen, I’m just really happy that you want to be with me. I don’t care if you want to hide that or shout it from the tallest tower, as long as you still want me.”
Waverly nods, and then says, “I’m not hiding you.”
“I want to tell the whole world how lucky I feel to be the person that you’ve chosen to be with,” confesses Waverly, smiling at the thought of walking through these very same corridors during the daytime, Nicole’s arm draped around her shoulder as their fellow students look on without a doubt in their mind as to the nature of the relationship between the two girls. “But there are complications.”
Waverly’s blissful daydream falls sour as her sister’s face swims to the front of her mind, dressed with an expression of disgust at the prospect of Waverly flaunting her relationship with Nicole so publicly.
“That’s definitely one,” Waverly nods in agreement.
“We’ve both seen what she’s capable of,” Nicole reminds her.
They start walking again, slowly ambling towards the part of the castle where Waverly’s dormitory is situated, their joined hands swinging between them as they go.
“And Wynonna…” says Waverly, trailing off to let out a long sigh, before she continues, “Deep down in my gut, I know that she won’t bat an eyelid. But there’s a nagging part of my brain that sometimes wonders…”
“If one sister can be an ugly homophobe, then who is to say that the other won’t be too,” Nicole finishes Waverly’s sentence for her.
Nodding, Waverly jumps in quickly and carries on, “And I know it’s ridiculous because it’s Wynonna.” Waverly smiles to herself and, deep in thought, she says, “You know, I always used to wonder if she’d turn out to be the not-straight one in the family. And I’m still not convinced that she is straight.”
Nicole laughs softly under her breath, then says to Waverly, “She did spend the whole of Charms yesterday talking about Rosita’s boobs and how annoyingly perky they are.”
Waverly laughs too and shakes her head because it is such a Wynonna thing to do, to push a guy that interested in her away because of her own commitment issues and then take it as a personal attack when he replaces her with somebody else.
Turning the conversation away from her sister and back to their relationship, Waverly sobers and asks, “But you understand? That right now I like the thrill of this being something that’s just between you and me.”
Nicole smiles to herself and adds, “And Dolls, and Jeremy, and every other person with keener observation skills that Wynonna.”
Waverly can’t help but chuckle lightly as she muses aloud, “How has she not figured it out?”
“It’s kind of funny, don’t you think?” Nicole agrees, a slow grin spreading across her face.
Gesturing behind her, back in the direction they have walked from, where Wynonna is presumably getting up to Merlin knows what in a dark classroom with Perry, Waverly says, “Well she’s clearly got other stuff on her mind right now.”
“I think Perry is on more than just Wynonna’s mind,” Nicole smirks suggestively.
“Gross!” protests Waverly, as her face contorts in disgust at the unwanted images that Nicole’s words are pushing into her mind. “That’s my sister!”
They arrive at Ravenclaw Tower, far too soon for Waverly’s liking, and though it’s time for her to say goodbye to Nicole and enter the common room for the night, she doesn’t quite want to part ways with Nicole just yet. They dawdle at the bottom of the staircase that leads up the tower, neither one wanting to be the one that says goodbye first.
“I’ve had fun tonight, you know,” says Waverly, as a way of delaying the inevitable moment that Nicole has to leave her to return to her own common room at the bottom of the castle.
“Oh yeah?” grins Nicole.
“Yes,” nods Waverly, stepping into Nicole personal space and enjoying the way that Nicole’s hands come to rest on her hips to keep her close. “We should definitely practice charms again tomorrow night.”
“You’re very devoted to your studies, Miss Earp,” Nicole replies, keeping up the pretence as they both continue to slyly poke fun at Wynonna’s unawareness.
“You know it,” agrees Waverly.
Wrapping her fingers around the yellow and black tie that hangs from its loose knot at Nicole’s collar, Waverly uses it to pull Nicole’s mouth towards herself, meeting her lips in a messy open-mouthed kiss. The amount of tongue she uses is borderline too much – definitely too much for being in such a public place, where anybody could leave or enter Ravenclaw Tower at any moment – but Waverly has something that she wants to prove to Nicole, that she isn’t ashamed of Nicole or hiding their relationship from the public.
And, to be completely honest, Waverly is still a little bit pissed that their kisses from earlier got so rudely interrupted and she wants to make up for what was lost.
When she’s satisfied that Nicole is going to need a cold shower before she goes to bed, Waverly pulls back with faux shyness on her face as she slinks towards the narrow spiral staircase that leads up to Ravenclaw Tower.
“Bye,” she whispers huskily, and it’s almost painful to drag herself away from Nicole and the look in her hungry eyes.
As she forces herself to leave and start up the staircase to her common room, Waverly swears that she can hear Nicole let out a low groan of frustration and smiles to herself in triumph.
“I don’t know about this, Wave. I mean, Astronomy Club?”
Nicole’s eyebrows are raised, her brown eyes filled with a speculative doubt, almost like she doesn’t want to even try to make good of Waverly’s invitation for Nicole to attend a meeting of Hogwarts’ Astronomy Club.
“Once,” insists Waverly, looping her arm through Nicole’s at the crook of her elbow and leaning into her girlfriend’s side as they walk towards the Astronomy Tower. “You only have to come this once. And then if you really don’t enjoy it you never have to come again.”
“Fine. But I’m warning you now, I was never any good at Astronomy. I dropped it the first chance I had.”
“That’s okay. But you can’t blame me for wanting to invite you. You know, me and you, staring up at the stars.” Waverly bats her eyelashes at Nicole and says in a dreamy voice, “Don’t you think that sounds romantic?”
“With, like, ten other people there,” Nicole snorts, rolling her eyes. She leans her head down to look at Waverly, fighting a smile off her lips as she adds, “Yeah, really romantic.”
“Stop that,” Waverly scolds her girlfriend, slapping Nicole playfully on the arm. “Or I’ll invite somebody else next time.”
“No you won’t,” challenges Nicole.
Waverly bites her own tongue in defeat, knowing that she’s been caught out.
“No I won’t,” admits Waverly. She drops Nicole’s arm but lets her fingers lace through Nicole’s, using their joined hands to drag Nicole towards the Astronomy Tower with slightly more speed, not wanting to be late for the meeting. “Come on, baby. We’re going to be late.”
Nicole has other ideas. She pulls Waverly to a halt, drawing their bodies in close as she smoothly loops both arms around behind Waverly’s back.
“Call me that again.”
“What?” asks Waverly. “Baby?”
“Yeah,” nods Nicole, an infectious grin spreading across her face as soon as Waverly utters the nickname again. “I like it.”
Waverly blushes and drops her eye contact with Nicole. The use of the pet name was accidental, nothing more than a subconscious slip of the tongue, but Waverly can’t deny that it feels right and the fact that it has Nicole grinning like a kid stepping into Honeydukes for the very first time is even more of a thrill.
“I like you,” Waverly replies shyly, draping her arms around Nicole’s neck as Nicole starts to lean down for a kiss with a smile pushing at her lips.
“Well if it isn’t Hogwarts’ cutest couple,” comes a voice from down the corridor, and Waverly pulls back from Nicole just a fraction of a second before their lips can touch, to find Jeremy strolling towards them, a smile on his face as he watches the interaction between the two girls. He turns his attention to Nicole, and then asks, “You’re coming to Astronomy Club, Nicole?
“Yeah, Waverly is making me,” answers Nicole, letting out a fake groan as if spending a little more time with her girlfriend is the world’s worst chore, though she slips an arm around behind the small of Waverly’s back to pull Waverly into her side in an affectionate gesture that counters her words.
“No I’m not,” banters Waverly. “I asked you if you wanted to come along and you said yes. And maybe that was because I offered you a bit of an incentive…”
Waverly raises one eyebrow suggestively at Nicole and then grins when Nicole’s eyes perceptively darken in response.
The arm around Waverly’s back drops slightly, Nicole’s hand sliding dangerously low on Waverly’s hip, as Nicole lowers her voice and replies, “You were very persuasive…”
“Okay, ladies!” Jeremy interjects loudly, popping the bubble of seduction that envelops the two girls. His cheeks are tinged ever so slightly with a flustered blush as he reminds them, “Still present!”
“Sorry,” says Nicole, though when her hand squeezes where it still rests on Waverly’s hip, Waverly has every suspicion that there is not an apologetic bone in Nicole’s body right now. “Shall we go?”
Jeremy leads the conversation as they complete the walk up to the tower, chatting happily about the constellations that they should be able to see in the clear skies above the castle tonight, while Nicole and Waverly trail close behind, hand in hand. As they share Jeremy’s company, Waverly takes note of how nice it feels to be open about her relationship with Nicole, to just exist together as a couple in the presence of somebody else.
She wants to feel this comfortable in herself all of the time.
When they reach the fortifications at the top of the tower, there is already a small group setting up for the club’s meeting. A row of brass telescopes is being lined up along the ramparts on the side of the tower that looks out over the Forbidden Forest. The three of them join in, with everybody wanting to start looking up at the night sky before any clouds can start to roll in and obscure the stars.
They’ve nearly finished setting up the telescopes around the balustrade of the tower when the door to the staircase creaks open, and Waverly’s heart sinks uneasily when she glances up to see who the newcomer is.
The entire group falls silent as they notice the Head Girl amongst them, and Waverly waits for Willa to announce her reason for interrupting, knowing Willa well enough to know that she isn’t up to any good.
“Haven’t you heard?” says Willa, her voice cold but the barest hint of a smile on her face and a smug air to the way that she carries herself as she addresses the students. “It’s far too dangerous to let a group of unsupervised students play around at the top of the castle’s tallest tower in the middle of the night. As of tonight, the Astronomy Club has been disbanded.”
The members of the club start whispering amongst themselves, shocked by Willa’s revelation. As disappointed as they are by the news, however, not one of them speaks up against Willa, too terrified by her status to dare contradict her authority.
But it is Waverly, who knows Willa primarily as a sister before a Head Girl, who steps forward to confront Willa, outraged by the words that have just left her eldest sister’s mouth.
“Disbanded?” spits Waverly. “What the hell, Willa? You can’t do this!”
“Actually, as Head Girl, I think you’ll find I can,” says Willa, straightening her spine to further the height difference between them, an action which puffs out her chest and draws attention to the shiny badge pinned to the front of her robes.
“This is an abuse of power … a personal vendetta that you have against me.”
“Oh, don’t be so self-absorbed the whole time, Waverly,” says Willa, her voice laced with scorn.
Nicole steps forward, standing by Waverly’s side in solidarity.
“Waverly is right,” says Nicole. “The Astronomy Club has been a part of this school for centuries, supporting students who want to take a further interest in the subject beyond their normal academic studies, and you want to disband it now because you can’t be bothered to do your job properly.”
Despite the anger directed towards Willa that stews inside her, Waverly feels her heart swell with affection for Nicole. Not only is Nicole jumping to her defence and standing up to Willa, but she’s also defending the Astronomy Club with a surge of unexpected support that is the polar opposite to the reluctance to end the meeting of the club barely thirty minutes ago.
Willa doesn’t seem as impressed by Nicole’s act of defiance against her.
“How dare you speak to me like that?” she snarls at Nicole. “I could have your Prefect badge taken off you, you know.
“I’d like to see you try.”
Waverly wonders momentarily if she’s ever been as attracted to Nicole as she is right now.
With Nicole and Willa squaring off against each other and Waverly frozen to the spot, overwhelmed half by rage towards her sister and half by drooling adoration of her girlfriend, it is Jeremy who steps forward to intervene.
“Nicole,” he says, resting a calming hand on Nicole’s arm to stop her from before she can do something that she’ll end up regretting, “why don’t we save this conversation for later. You know, when there isn’t an audience?”
Nicole’s jaw clenches, her hand curls into a fist at her side, and for a moment Waverly thinks that Nicole is going to take a swing at Willa’s face. But after several long and tense seconds, Nicole looks across at Jeremy and nods once in agreement.
Jeremy claps his hands together once and turns to face the rest of the Astronomy Club, and then says, “Okay guys, you heard what Willa said. No Astronomy Club tonight. We’ll try our best to reach an agreement about the future of the club and get back to you about whether next week’s meeting will be taking place.”
There’s a bit more disgruntled muttering, but the group disperses and starts to put away the telescopes that have only recently finished being set up.
Waverly doesn’t help. Instead she wraps her fingers around Willa’s wrist and drags her across to the quiet side of the tower.
“Willa,” she says through clenched teeth. “A word, please?”
Willa wrenches her wrist out of Waverly’s tight grasp and moves her hand to rest on her hip. Nicole crosses to Tower to be with them, taking up position at Waverly’s side like a personal bodyguard ready to defend her at a moment’s notice.
“Why are you doing this?” Waverly pleads with her sister.
“I told you,” replies Willa, her body stiff and her answer dull and rehearsed, like she’s been planning this for a while, “the Prefect team is responsible for all extra-curricular school activities and we’ve decided that providing supervision at this time of night isn’t feasible.
“Hold on,” interjects Nicole. “Why wasn’t this discussed at a Prefect meeting? I’m sure we can come up with a better solution. Hell, I’ll supervise the club if I have to.”
“I hardly think that’s a good idea,” replies Willa, eyeing Nicole up and down with a look of mild distaste in her eyes. “I don’t think you can be trusted with any kind of responsibility when Waverly is around.”
Nicole takes half a step closer to Willa and growls, “I am this close to hexing you off the top of this tower myself and the only reason I haven’t done that is because it will prove your stupid point right.
“Have you disbanded any other school clubs this week or just the one that I’m a part of?” Waverly asks to stop the feud between the two older girls from escalating any further, though she already knows the answer to this particular question.
“No other clubs meet in the middle of the night at the top of a dangerously high tower!” Willa argues right back.
Waverly holds her tongue. There’s nothing she can think of to say in response to that. Waverly has to admit, Willa’s argument, as ever, is airtight. Waverly can’t argue the reason that Willa is giving for disbanding the Astronomy Club, even if they both know that it is an outright lie to cover the fact that she just can’t stand to see Waverly be happy.
“Come on, Nicole, let’s go,” says Waverly, making a point to take Nicole’s hand in her own very deliberately so that Willa can’t possibly miss the gesture. “Unless Willa wants to put us in detention for being out after curfew.”
As Waverly makes to leave the tower with Nicole in tow, Willa makes one final remark.
“Don’t tempt me, Waverly.”
And just when you thought this fic couldn't get any fluffier, I decided to prove you all wrong!
Thanks for bearing with me during the delay in getting this chapter to you. I hope you enjoy it!
“Are you excited?” asks Nicole, as they walk arm in arm down the winding path from the castle to the little village of Hogsmeade.
It’s Valentine’s Day – their first Valentine’s Day as a couple – but also the first time that there has been a Hogsmeade visit since they became girlfriends. And so, despite the amount of time they’ve spent together in the last month, this technically makes today their first date. Nicole did it properly, asking Waverly if she would like to accompany her to the village for a date, as if Waverly wasn’t already planning to spend the entire day with Nicole anyway.
And now here they are, following the crowds of students down to the local village, and though Waverly’s heart is warm with the prospect of spending an entire day in the company of her girlfriend, she also feels the flutter of nerves deep within her gut.
“Yes,” answers Waverly, before she adds, “and a little bit nervous, actually.”
“Really?” queries Nicole.
“Well, this is our first proper date, isn’t it?” explains Waverly. “It’s only natural to be a little nervous.”
Nicole lets out a long groan, raising the palm of one hand to her forehead as she exhales, “Shit, you’re right. What if we realise that we’re not compatible after all?”
Waverly has a brief moment of panic, barely half a second where she thinks that Nicole’s words are serious and that Nicole is doubting whether their relationship can survive the strain of going out on an actual date, but then Nicole’s face cracks open into a huge grin.
Slapping Nicole’s arm playfully, Waverly rolls her eyes and teases, “If you carry on like that, there won’t be a date.”
“So what do you want to do today?”
Waverly shrugs her shoulders, and then answers, “I don’t mind. We could spend the day repotting Mandrakes and I’d still enjoy it if I was doing it with you.”
“Great,” says Nicole, tightening the arm that is looped through Waverly’s as she leans a bit closer and says, “because I thought we’d start the day off with a little visit to Madam Puddifoot’s Teashop and then…”
Waverly stops in her tracks, unhooking her arm from Nicole’s and placing both hands on her hips in an attempt to look fearsome, a look which is probably completely offset by the thick cloak and scarf she’s bundled in, as well as the knitted bobble hat pulled down low enough to keep her ears warm against the icy February wind.
“What have I told you about winding me up?” she pretends to scold Nicole.
“I’m sorry, baby,” says Nicole, wrapping one of her arms around Waverly’s back as she attempts to steer Waverly back towards the village, “but it’s not my fault that you’re so cute when you pout.”
“You’re lucky that you’re so pretty,” Waverly mutters playfully.
“Just to check, Madam Puddifoot’s is a no?”
Waverly shudders at the thought of having to visit Hogsmeade’s vile little teashop. She’s been there once before – Champ thought it would be cute to take her there for their first date, probably thinking that the baby pink décor and the frills and bows that decorated everything inside it would be Waverly’s perfect idea of romance – and she was appalled her surroundings.
“A definite no. I don’t know how that place is still in business.”
“Straight people,” Nicole offers up as an explanation, and Waverly grins like it’s an inside joke that only they understand. “I know it’ll be packed, but how about we start off at Honeydukes?”
“So that I’ll be able to taste sugar mice on your lips every time I kiss you for the rest of the day?” asks Waverly. She looks at Nicole, as if the answer is obvious – which, Waverly thinks, it is – before she replies, “Um, yes please!”
After a visit to Honeydukes, where Nicole insists on being the one to pay for the paper bags full of sweets that are now nestled in the pockets of Waverly’s thick cloak, they step back outside onto the cobbled street. Waverly’s breath hits the cold air in a billowing cloud of condensation and she shifts her weight from one foot to the other, rubbing her mitten-covered hands together as she tries to warm up against the sudden drop in temperature.
“Come here,” says Nicole, wrapping both arms around Waverly and pulling her in close, wrapping some of the extra fabric of her cloak around Waverly too as an extra barrier against the cold. “I’ll keep you warm.”
“My hero,” grins Waverly.
“Where to?” asks Nicole. “I bet the Three Broomsticks is warm. How about a Butterbeer? On me, of course.”
“Nicole, you’ve already bought enough sweets to rot all my teeth,” whines Waverly. “You can’t pay for my drink too.”
“Yes I can,” counters Nicole. “I asked you out, it’s only fair that I pay for the date too.”
“You know that I would be spending today with you whether you’d asked me to come with you or not?” sighs Waverly, as she looks up at Nicole and raises one of her eyebrows. “It’s not like you need to impress me by paying for everything. I’m already your girlfriend.”
“And I am so incredibly grateful for that,” says Nicole, brushing her lips against Waverly’s forehead. “I’m not doing it to impress you, I’m doing it to treat you. To thank you for putting up with me for a month and to promise you that I’m going to take care of you for as long as you’ll let me.” When Waverly opens her mouth to object, Nicole is quick to continue, “And yes, I know that you don’t need somebody to care for you, but I like being here for you, you know, just in case you ever do.”
Waverly pouts, though her heart contradicts her brain by swelling with affection with the knowledge that Nicole wants to be the one to look out for her.
“You can pay for one drink,” she tells Nicole. “If we stay for a second then I’m buying my own.”
Nicole’s face cracks into a huge grin.
Nicole’s hand seeks out Waverly’s and her fingers slip between Waverly’s easily, knotting together as she leads the way across the cobbled street to the Three Broomsticks.
“So have you thought anymore about the Astronomy Club?” Nicole asks, dropping Waverly’s hand when they step inside so that she can unravel her scarf from around her neck as they cross the crowded pub and wait to be served at the bar.
“I’m sort of waiting to see what Willa says when you ask her about it at the Prefect’s meeting tomorrow night,” answers Waverly.
“Jeremy and I have worked out what we’re going to say to her,” Nicole tells her. “We think we can get the support of at least one or two more Prefects. If you like we can go over it with you tomorrow before the meeting?” Turning her attention to the barmaid, Nicole says, “Hi, two butterbeers, please.”
“I’d like that,” nods Waverly. “Though to be completely honest, I don’t think Willa is going to back down now.”
There’s a pause in the conversation as the barmaid slides two frothing tankards of butterbeer across the wooden bar top, while Nicole counts out the correct change and pays for their drinks. With her drink in her hand, Waverly leads the way over towards an empty table by the window.
“So we need to go over Willa’s head, then,” says Nicole, sitting down opposite Waverly and taking a sip from her drink.
Waverly nods in agreement, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand to get rid of the froth that has collected on her upper lip from her own drink, and then says, “That’s exactly what I was thinking. I was going to try Professor Nedley. He’s my Head of House and I spend a week of every summer at Chrissy’s house so I’m more than just another student to him. I think he’ll be willing to listen.”
“And you’re basically top of his class,” grins Nicole. “He won’t be able to say no to you.”
“Let’s just hope that he has the power to help us.”
The door to the Three Broomsticks swings open, letting in an icy gust of wind that Waverly isn’t prepared for. With it, enters a familiar figure, her dark mane unruly from the wintery weather,
Wynonna’s eyes scan the pub as she shakes the snow off her boots, and they light up when they land on the table in the corner where Waverly and Nicole sit huddled over their tankards of butterbeer.
“This is cute,” Wynonna says as she approaches them, removing first her fingerless gloves, then the red and gold scarf from around her neck. Oblivious to the date that she’s interrupting, Wynonna drags an empty stool over from a nearby table and sits herself down at their table. “Girls day out. No boys allowed, am I right?”
Wynonna grins at them with a twinkle in her eye like she’s in on some big secret, though Waverly can’t help but internally laugh at the irony that Wynonna couldn’t be further out of circle.
“You could say that,” Nicole mutters under her breath.
“Mind if I join you?” asks Wynonna, though the fact that she has already taken up a seat at their table indicates that she clearly isn’t expecting them to say no.
“Wynonna…” Waverly starts to whine, disheartened that her special day of having Nicole all to herself has been interrupted.
“I get it, babygirl,” says Wynonna, holding her hands up in concession.
“I really don’t think that you do,” Waverly mumbles, earning a little snigger from Nicole beside her.
“You don’t want your big sister cramping your style,” continues Wynonna, having either not heard Waverly’s soft interjection or chosen to ignore it completely. “But let me remind you that Nicole is just as much my friend as she is yours.” Wynonna gives Waverly a knowing look, while beside her, Nicole is struggling to keep a straight face. Pushing back her stool with a scrap of its wooden legs against the flagged stone floor, Wynonna says, “I’m going to get a drink, I’ll be back in a sec.”
Waverly manages to keep herself together for long enough to let Wynonna get out of earshot, before she lets her head fall into her hands as she groans out, “We have to tell her.”
“Are you sure?” asks Nicole, reaching out to rest a comforting hand in the crook of Waverly’s elbow.
“Yes,” insists Waverly, but then she wavers and contradicts herself with, “No … I don’t know.”
It’s the truth. Waverly doesn’t know. She knows that she wants Wynonna to know about her and Nicole, but the idea of coming out to Wynonna is so much easier than the reality. It’s so simple to tell herself that Wynonna will be fine with it, that her life will just smoothly transition from Wynonna not knowing to Wynonna knowing without any hiccups, but Waverly doesn’t know how she’s supposed to physically have that conversation. The hey I’m dating somebody and surprise, it’s a girl conversation seems to require a lot more courage than Waverly thinks she’s capable of mustering up.
It’s been so straightforward with everybody else. People have just found out organically without Waverly having to make some big announcement, and Waverly thinks she almost prefers it that way.
“You don’t have to tell anybody anything if you aren’t ready for it yet,” Nicole reminds Waverly, tangling her fingers through Waverly’s underneath the table.
“Do you think we could just make out in front of her and let her figure it out herself?” asks Waverly.
“I would say yes, but this is Wynonna,” shrugs Nicole. She grins at Waverly, and then says, “She could catch us both naked in bed together and would probably still think that we’re just really good friends. Gal pals.”
Waverly flushes at Nicole’s casual implication of them getting intimate with each other – not that Waverly hasn’t thought about it herself, but it’s very different to have those private thoughts while daydreaming alone in her four poster bed at night or during a particularly dull History of Magic class, than to hear the suggestion coming from the mouth of the very person that Waverly has such decadent thoughts about.
Instead, she chooses to push it to the back of her mind for later, and picks up on the last thing that Nicole said.
“Gal pals?” she queries.
“It’s a Muggle thing,” Nicole offers up an explanation. “Sometimes when two women are so obviously in a relationship with each other but the media chooses to see it as them just being very close friends, they’re referred to as gal pals. So the Muggle lesbian community has adopted the phrase as…”
Nicole trails off mid-sentence as Wynonna returns with a drink, a tankard of frothy butterbeer that she places onto the table with a metallic thunk. Nicole shoots Waverly a meaningful look, then turns her attention to Wynonna as she begins to speak once more.
“Waverly and I were just talking about that new species of dragon that a wizard in Croatia,” says Nicole. Waverly frowns in confusion, because they were talking about no such thing, but when Nicole’s eye flick across to her, the realisation of what Nicole is trying to do dawns on her. “What do you think about that, Wynonna? You see, I think that what he’s actually discovered is…”
“Ugh,” Wynonna groans predictably. “Snooze alert. How about we talk about something more exciting? How about Quidditch? Specifically, how we’re going to stop Willa and her team of thugs from winning the cup.”
Waverly’s heart sinks. She can already see how this is going to go down. Her first date with Nicole – her perfect first date where they spend an entire day together holding hands and pressing soft kisses to cold cheeks and chapped lips and where Waverly protests at Nicole’s insistence on paying for everything even though she secretly loves her girlfriend’s desire to be so chivalrous – is going to get hijacked by Wynonna and her Quidditch talk.
Waverly resigns herself to this.
What she doesn’t expect, is for Nicole to step in like she does next.
“You know what, Wynonna,” says Nicole, draining the last of her butterbeer and placing the empty tankard down on the table, “I would love to have this conversation with you and we will have it soon, but I’ve just remembered that Waverly and I have something else to do.” Nicole’s attention shifts to Waverly as she asks, “Didn’t you say that you had a book that you really wanted to buy, Waves?”
Waverly frowns, because although she kind of assumed that their date might take them to Hogsmeade’s bookshop at some point later today, there isn’t any particularly book that she needs to buy and she doesn’t know why Nicole thinks there would be.
“No, I don’t remem- oh!” Realisation dawns as Nicole uses just her eyes to give Waverly a meaningful look, the kind of look that says ‘please just go along with this’. Waverly’s own eyes widen as she understands that Nicole is throwing her a lifeline, and she exclaims, “The book! Yes! Thank you for reminding me, Nicole. I had completely forgotten about that.”
As Nicole gets to her feet, wrapping her scarf around her neck and adjusting her cloak so that it falls over her shoulder in a way that will keep her body warm against the chilly wind outside, she tempts fate by addressing Wynonna and asking, “I don’t suppose you want to come with us?”
Waverly’s heart races, worried for a moment that Wynonna’s hunger for company will lead her to say yes.
“To a book shop?” snorts Wynonna, grimacing as she takes a sip from her drink. “I’d rather eat a Hippogriff turd.”
Waverly sighs in relief. At least Wynonna can be counted on to be as predictable as ever.
“I’m really sorry, Wynonna,” says Waverly, feigning regret that they have to leave, though deep down she is bursting with glee. “See you later?”
“It’s fine,” grumbles Wynonna. “Just leave me…” Wynonna pauses for dramatic effect and shoots Waverly a look, eyes full of forced sadness and lips pouty, before finishing, “…like everybody else always does.”
Waverly hurries out of the Three Broomsticks with Nicole right behind her, and it is only when they are outside in the street once more, that she mutters, “Wynonna needs to get over herself.” Glancing up at Nicole, Waverly smiles ever so slightly and then asks, “There’s no new species of dragon in Croatia, is there?”
“No, but Wynonna’s not going to go away and fact-check, is she?” grins Nicole. “I was only trying to bore her into leaving us alone.”
“You know, this is why I love you.”
Waverly doesn’t realise what she’s said until the words have already left her mouth. She doesn’t mean it in that way, but rather as the same kind of affectionate I love you that she would say to a member of her own family, or to a close friend, or to anybody else who she cares about. But it’s only once she says it aloud, once she sees the surprise on Nicole’s face, that Waverly really feels the weight of the words and realises that actually, yes she does mean it in that way.
And with that realisation, Waverly feels her body become overtaken with sheer panic.
“I’m sorry,” she stammers, “I didn’t mean … it’s too soon…”
“You love me?” Nicole asks breathlessly.
“No, I just meant…”
Waverly tries to wriggle out of the situation before she digs herself into too deep of a hole without leaving herself a way back out. But she sees the hopeful surprise slide off Nicole’s face in a flash, replaced by disappointment that leaves a heavy weight in Waverly’s gut, and she realises that there are too many lies and uncertainties in her life at the moment without her adding another one between herself and the only thing that feels like an inevitability.
“No, wait,” Waverly shakes her head, contradicting herself immediately. She takes a deep breath, and then confesses, “I do love you. And I don’t care if I’ve said it too soon or if I’ve said it for the first time by accident instead of through a great romantic gesture, because I mean it. I’m in love with you, Nicole.”
They’re in the middle of the street in Hogsmeade, but Nicole kisses Waverly. Students amble across the cobbles as they move from one shop to another, Wynonna could glance up from her butterbeer and look through the window of the pub with a clear view of them, but Waverly doesn’t care who sees them. She’s in love with Nicole, and that announcement hasn’t scared Nicole away, like she feared it might, but instead initiated a kiss that bruises Waverly’s lips with the reciprocated affection, and Waverly thinks that maybe Nicole might just be in love with her too.
“You love me,” Nicole repeats, pulling back from the kiss only far enough to rest her forehead against Waverly’s. She phrases is as a statement this time, not as a question, and Waverly nods, more certain of her feelings with each time that she hears the word ‘love’ spoken into the air between them.
“I love you.”
Nicole smiles, and then says, “I love you too.”
Waverly’s heart soars when Nicole says it back. She still has to pinch herself on a daily basis just to check that Nicole is actually her girlfriend, and not the product of a far-fetched and elaborate dream, but when she hears Nicole say those three little words, Waverly is pretty sure that she transcends reality entirely, moving to an entirely new realm of being full of confessions of love and void of sisters that are either aggressively homophobic or just complete idiots.
“I’ve been in love with you for longer than you probably realise,” Nicole adds, when Waverly says nothing.
“How long?” Waverly dares to ask, her breath catching in her throat in anticipation.
“Do you remember that first day in the library, when the rest of the school was down at the Quidditch match and it was just you and me?” asks Nicole, smiling to herself as she recalls the memory of the day that they first met. “And you broke your quill because you were writing so fast but instead of swearing you just said “oh rats!”? I’m pretty sure that’s the moment I fell in love with you.”
Waverly’s eyes widen, and she says with a small trace of sadness, “I don’t remember there being an exact moment with you. Only that I can’t remember what it feels like to not be in love with you.”
Nicole grins, and asks, “Want to go and be in love with me in the bookshop?”
It’s the best day of Waverly’s life.
She loves Nicole. And Nicole loves her back. Waverly is pretty sure that she spends the entire afternoon bouncing around Hogsmeade, rather than walking, while the words Nicole loves you too play over and over in her mind with about a zillion exclamation points after them.
Waverly can’t quite believe that it’s true.
The walk back up to the castle would be a sad one if Nicole didn’t keep casually reminding Waverly that she loves her, as if saying it the once wasn’t already enough to cause Waverly’s heart to have palpitations in her chest. But with each time that Nicole says it, and with each time that Waverly says it back, the words become more and more of a certainty, as if Waverly’s entire life up until now has been building to the moment when she is in love with Nicole and Nicole is in love with her too.
And so, when Waverly steps through the huge door at the front of the castle and returns to normal school life, the bubble isn’t burst, but instead placed gently inside a carefully padded container and stored away safely for later.
Professor Nedley stands in the Entrance Hall, welcoming students back to the castle after their trip out of school grounds, and Waverly remembers what she told Nicole earlier about her plan to ask Nedley for his help reinstating the Astronomy Club.
“I’m just going to speak to Nedley,” Waverly tells Nicole. “I’ll be right in.”
Nicole nods and brushes her lips against Waverly’s cheek, before disappearing into the Great Hall for dinner.
“Professor Nedley?” says Waverly, approaching her Head of House as the other students returning from Hogsmeade mill past them into the Great Hall.
“Oh, hello Miss Earp!” Nedley greets Waverly brightly. He leans a little closer and, with a twinkle in his eye, asks, “I don’t suppose you know the whereabouts of your sister’s Charms homework?”
“If you’re talking about Wynonna, I suspect that there isn’t any Charms homework to know the whereabouts of,” Waverly answers good-naturedly.
“I thought as much,” nods Nedley in agreement. He clasps his hands together in front of him and asks, “What can I do for you?”
“I wanted to talk to you about the Astronomy Club.”
“Go on,” he prompts Waverly for more information.
“Well, Professor, it’s been disbanded by order of the Head Girl,” explains Waverly, “and I was wondering if there’s anything we can do to get it reinstated?”
“Disbanded?” repeats Nedley, his voice full of incredulity that is matched by the surprise that passes across his face. “That club has been a part of this school for centuries!”
“Exactly!” agrees Waverly. “But Willa says that there’s a safety issue and that it’s the responsibility of the Prefect team to supervise, which they aren’t willing to do in the middle of the night.”
“I hate to break it to you, Waverly, but your sister is right,” says Nedley, his expression apologetic. “All out of hours activities are at the discretion of the Prefect team. There’s nothing I can do if the Head Boy and Girl have decided that the club can’t continue to meet.”
“But sir…” protests Waverly.
“I’m sorry, Waverly. I wish I could help but the matter is out of my hands.”
Waverly nods reluctantly, her shoulders slumped in defeat, and she forces a grateful smile onto her face as she politely says, “Thank you anyway, Professor.”
Waverly enters the Great Hall, easily picking out Nicole’s familiar red braid amongst the students lining the benches at each of the four long tables, sitting with Wynonna and Jeremy. She makes her way down the space between two tables and sits down next to Nicole.
“I just spoke to Nedley,” says Waverly, her words for both Nicole and Jeremy’s benefit, “and he says that there’s nothing he can do about the Astronomy Club. If Willa has disbanded it, then it no longer runs.”
“I’m sorry,” Nicole says, and Jeremy shoots Waverly a sympathetic smile too.
Wynonna swallows her mouthful of food and gestures emphatically with her fork as she says, “I want to be clear that what I’m about to say doesn’t change that fact that I think academic clubs are nerdy as shit, but shutting down the Astronomy Club is a bit of a dick move by Willa. The power has gone to her head. She’s basically strutting around the castle showing off what a big shiny badge she has.”
“Well, she isn’t getting away with this,” Waverly announces determinedly. “I’m ready for a fight!”
“Yes, Waves!” Wynonna eggs Waverly on, pumping one fist in the air enthusiastically as she sares a wicked grin. “Let your inner Earp out!”
Waverly forces a smile onto her face, though the Earp name leaves a bitter taste in her mouth, knowing that it is because of somebody else with that name that the whole debacle with the Astronomy Club is happening anyway.
Perhaps sensing Waverly’s discomfort, Nicole speaks up, easily steering the conversation away from Willa’s recent behaviour.
“Waverly, could you pass the potatoes please?”
Waverly reaches for the dish of potatoes to her left, passing it across her own plate to where Nicole sits on her right. With a charming smile, she says, “Anything for you, baby.”
It slips out. After an entire day of being unapologetically affectionate with her girlfriend, Waverly forgets the present company and speaks as though they are the only two in the room.
It almost passes unnoticed. Jeremy, who is very aware of Waverly’s relationship with Nicole, doesn’t falter. But Wynonna, blissfully oblivious up until this moment, lets out a little snort that alerts Waverly to the fact that she’s let the pet name slip in front of her sister.
“Baby?” Wynonna repeats, arching an eyebrows at Waverly. “You two have the weirdest friendship ever.”
Jeremy chokes on his food and for a moment, Waverly doesn’t have the chance to feel anything but concern for his wellbeing as Wynonna’s focus turns to slapping his vigorously on the back as he coughs and splutters. But when Jeremy wheezes that he’s okay, taking huge gulps of pumpkin juice from his goblet, Wynonna’s smirking attention returns to Waverly.
Waverly falters momentarily, her brain fumbling for an excuse, no matter how flimsy it might be. Perhaps she can pretend to be tired and that it just slipped out, or pass it off as an inside joke between her and Nicole. But none of those excuses do Nicole justice, and Waverly finds herself unable to think of a reason why she should continue to keep the truth from her sister.
With a surge of bravery fuelled by the confessions of love that have taken place since the conversation with Nicole about coming out to Wynonna earlier, Waverly no longer fears Wynonna’s reaction, but looks forward to a future with Nicole where she doesn’t have to hide.
“Friendship?” Waverly scoffs, though her heart pounds in her chest loud enough that Waverly is certain it must be echoing around the Great Hall. She reaches for Nicole’s hand and laces their fingers together over the table, displaying them proudly where Wynonna can see them. “Wynonna, Nicole is my girlfriend!”
Wynonna’s gaze moves in a triangle, flitting across to Nicole, then down to their joined hands, before finally returning to look at Waverly, a confused crease between her eyebrows as she struggles to figure out whether Waverly is telling her the truth or if it’s all just a hoax.
“Girlfriend?” asks Wynonna tentatively, as if testing the word out on her tongue.
Waverly nods once to confirm, and Nicole’s hand tightens in her own, a comforting anchor in the whirlwind of uncertainty as she waits for Wynonna to say something.
Wynonna’s response is explosive, but not in the way that Waverly expects.
“Come on, dude!” she whines, looking at Nicole. “That’s my sister!”
Waverly is startled by Wynonna’s outburst, and Nicole is equally as dumbfounded beside her. Before Waverly can figure out how to respond, Wynonna turns her attention to her and speaks again.
“Nice one, babygirl,” Wynonna says to Waverly. “I mean, compared to Champ Hardy, you could be dating the giant fucking squid and I’d still approve, but I’m glad it’s Nicole.” Wynonna’s gaze glances momentarily across to Nicole and she shoots her a wink so tiny that it’s almost missed, before looking back at Waverly and concluding, “You picked a good one.”
Waverly’s entire body relaxes in relief and she suddenly can’t remember why it ever seemed like a good idea to keep this from Wynonna, when Wynonna’s reaction was never going to be any different to this. Waverly should have trusted in her sister, she should have known that Wynonna would be more interested in whether the person Waverly chooses to date is a good person or not, rather than their gender.
She smiles appreciatively at Wynonna, trying to convey the happiness that she can’t find the words for, and Wynonna smiles back, before turning her attention to Nicole once more.
“Seriously though, my sister?”
Waverly can’t help but laugh.
Nicole has never been happier.
It’s all because of Waverly. Nicole has been happy since Waverly entered her life at the beginning of the school year, and she has been ecstatic ever since Waverly became her girlfriend a month ago, but now that she gets to be public about her relationship, well Nicole feels a little bit like her broomstick has soared so high that she’s reached the moon.
Waverly is a very physically affectionate person. It’s a surprise at first, but now that their relationship is public, Waverly can’t seem to get enough of showing everybody that they’re a couple. It’s all in the little things; in Waverly’s hand resting absently over Nicole’s as they sit next to each other in the Great Hall, in Waverly tucking herself into Nicole’s side when they hang out with their friends, in Waverly pushing herself up onto her tiptoes to press soft kisses to Nicole’s cheeks and lips when they have to part ways to go to their respective lessons.
And Nicole loves it.
One person who is not so keen on it is Wynonna.
Wynonna isn’t specifically against their relationship, in fact quite the opposite. She is quite insistent that Waverly’s newest choice of a partner is much better than the last (Nicole has to agree - Champ Hardy is a whiny douchebag and Nicole still can’t understand how Waverly managed to date him for so long) and Wynonna’s new favourite thing to do is to make occasional lewd comments about her sister’s relationship with Nicole, which Nicole knows is Wynonna’s strange way of letting them both know that she is completely supportive of their relationship.
No, Wynonna just seems to be anti-relationship in general at the moment, and Nicole ends up feeling slightly guilty that such a peak in her own personal life seems to have coincided with the dip in Wynonna’s.
“Ugh,” Wynonna winces, as Waverly plants a lingering kiss on Nicole’s lips outside the Charms classroom, before disappearing off to her own class. Wynonna waits until Waverly is out of earshot, before she says to Nicole, “Can’t we go back to the time when all of that was behind closed doors?”
Nicole arches an eyebrow at Wynonna as they enter Charms and take their usual seats next to each other at the back of the classroom.
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” Wynonna says hastily, holding her hands up apologetically. “Rainbows and unicorns all the way!”
Nicole rolls her eyes and opens up her schoolbag, taking out her wand, a quill and some ink, and her heavy advanced Charms textbook, laying them all out on the desk ready for the start of the lesson.
“Merlin,” groans Wynonna, slumping back in her chair when Nicole gives her no verbal response, “it’s like getting into a relationship sucks the sense of humour out of everybody. I made a joke in front of Dolls today - a fucking funny one too! - and I got nothing from him. It’s like Eliza Shapiro has turned him into a goddamn robot.”
Nicole glances across the classroom to where Dolls sits next to Eliza, listening attentively as she talks to him, contradicting Wynonna’s statement immediately by laughing at something that Eliza has said to him.
“Has Dolls ever laughed at any of your jokes?” asks Nicole, trying to rack her brains to remember such an instance. As far as her memory serves her, Dolls’ relationship with Wynonna seems to consist mostly of Wynonna winding him up and Dolls remaining largely unimpressed by the middle Earp’s antics - something that she is fairly certain that they both consider to be flirting, or at least they did before Eliza became an important part of Dolls’ life.
“He might have almost smiled at one of them,” admits Wynonna reluctantly. She hesitates, then adds, “Once. In a dream.”
Professor Nedley shushes them and Nicole flushes in shame. Even Wynonna stays quiet while he explains the objective of the lesson and demonstrates the spell they’ll be practicing, and it’s only when he finishes and asks them to attempt the spell themselves with the person sitting next to them that Wynonna speaks again.
“Everybody is pairing off,” says Wynonna, fishing her wand out of the pocket of her robes and placing it on the desk. “Dolls and Shapiro, Doc and Rosita, now you and Waves. Soon it’s just going to be me and Jeremy left and that kid is not ready to handle all of this.”
Wynonna gestures down at her own body and then wiggles her eyebrows suggestively, letting Nicole fill in the extra details.
Nicole grimaces and then says, “Stay away from Jeremy, Wynonna. You’ll scar the poor boy for life. Anyway, what happened to that Perry guy you were dating a couple of weeks ago.”
Professor Nedley chooses that exact moment to walk past them and Wynonna reaches for her wand, demonstrating the spell with ease and earning herself a nod of approval, and Wynonna waits until he’s moved on to help the next pair of students before answering Nicole’s question.
“Okay, first of all, Perry and I were never dating .” Wynonna winces, as if even the idea of dating Perry has left a revolting taste in her mouth, then explains, “He was too … too dull, I guess. There was no spark there. We hooked up once and that was it.”
“Okay,” shrugs Nicole, “so Perry isn’t the one. But there must be another guy at Hogwarts who could be a potential boyfriend? Or a girl if that’s…”
“I’m not looking for a relationship,” interrupts Wynonna. She shakes her head in disgust and says, “Even just the thought of it makes me feel queasy.”
“Then why are you complaining?” asks Nicole.
It’s not really an answer, so Nicole has a go at filling in the blanks herself.
“Because you want to keep flirting with Dolls and doing whatever it is that you were doing with Doc but you can’t do either because they both have girlfriends?” Nicole supplies, and when Wynonna makes no attempt to argue, she knows that she’s hit the mark. “Wynonna, that’s just incredibly selfish.”
“Well you got me,” Wynonna says with a roll of her eyes, holding up her hands in mock surrender. “I miss the way things used to be, that’s all.”
“Less chitchat, Earp!” Professor Nedley calls out from the other side of the classroom, distracting them both from the conversation.
“How come I get told off but you don’t?” complains Wynonna, pulling a face once Nedley’s back has turned. “Blatant favouritism.”
Nicole picks up her wand and starts practicing the spell so that she stays in Professor Nedley’s good books.
“This conversation is far from over,” Nicole warns Wynonna.
Nicole is distracted when she leaves Charms, her brain swimming with thoughts of Wynonna and her boy troubles. She bids goodbye to Wynonna, who has to hurry off to Gryffindor Quidditch training, outside the classroom but Wynonna stays in her mind.
She feels for Wynonna, Nicole really does, and understands that Wynonna has a serious reluctance to commit to another person. But she also gets why Doc and Dolls, both of whom clearly have a soft spot for Wynonna, have given up waiting for her to commit to one or the other of them and have gone out and found themselves girlfriends elsewhere.
Nicole is so caught up in her own head that she doesn’t realise she’s about to walk into another person until it’s too late and their shoulders have already collided.
“Hey! Watch where you’re - oh. It’s you .”
Out of all the students in the castle that Nicole could have bumped into, of course it has to be Willa, whose Head Girl Badge gleams where it is pinned on the front of her robes. Willa wears a scowl on her face like Slytherin have just lost both the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup in the same day, and if she’s being completely honest, Nicole is about as displeased to see Willa too.
“Hi, Willa,” says Nicole, her tone already displaying her disinterest in having a conversation with her girlfriend’s oldest sister.
“What do you think you’re doing, walking into me like that?” demands Willa.
When she realises that Willa has decided to make a scene out of absolutely nothing, Nicole sighs, unable to find the patience to deal with a situation like this when all she wants to do is go back to her dorm and take a quick nap before dinner.
“It was an accident,” says Nicole, making to move past Willa and leave the whole thing behind her.
But Willa isn’t finished.
“Sure it was,” replies Willa, her voice laced with sarcasm. “As if it wasn’t bad enough that you’re flaunting this so-called relationship -“ Willa uses two fingers on each hand to make air quotes around this word, like the whole thing is a giant game of make-believe designed specifically to piss Willa off, “- of yours with Waverly around the castle…”
“It is a relationship,” insists Nicole. Her temper is starting to run high as anger bubbles within her like a spitting cauldron simmering on too high of a heat.
“You know, Waverly wasn’t like this until she started spending time with you.”
“Like what?” challenges Nicole. She knows exactly what Willa is implying, but until she actually hears the words, Willa is always going to have one up on her. “I want to hear you say it.”
“You’ve brainwashed her,” accuses Willa.
“I’ve done nothing but treat Waverly with the respect that she deserves,” insists Nicole, furious that Willa, who never takes an interest in Waverly unless she has her own selfish reasons for doing so, can’t see that Nicole adores Waverly and would do anything to keep her happy, even if that meant sacrificing her own happiness.
“She only started acting like … like a lesbian when she met you,” spits Willa. “Before that she was normal .”
Nicole doesn’t realise that she’s about to punch Willa until it’s too late, until her fist has already connected with the side of Willa’s face. She hears the sickening crunch of her knuckles colliding with Willa’s jaw more than she feels it, and everything from that moment seems to happen in slow motion. Willa recoils from the punch and lets out a yelp of pain, and her hands come up to cup her jaw.
“That’s for bullying your own sister.”
Still high on the thrill of the punch, Nicole doesn’t allow herself time to think before she swings her fist out again, this time colliding with Willa’s nose. Blood sprays from Willa’s nose, some of it spattering across the front of Nicole’s white uniform shirt, but Nicole doesn’t care - she can use a scouring charm later to clean the blood out and the shirt will be as good as new.
“And that’s for being an ugly homophobe.”
Nicole is pretty proud of herself. Willa looks an absolute mess - blood trickling down her face and over the hand that she’s trying to use to stem the flow, her jaw already red and slightly inflamed from the first punch, and tears welling up in her eyes.
With adrenaline coursing through her body, Nicole hoists her school bag higher up on her shoulder and pushes past Willa to continue on her way.
It’s only once she’s left the scene that she starts to register the pain in her hand, and with it comes the regret.
Only a little bit though.
Waverly has her entire evening planned out. She has about ten minutes to drop her bag off in the girls’ dormitory in Ravenclaw Tower before the Chess Club meets, then after dinner in the Great Hall she and Nicole have agreed to study together in an empty classroom on the fourth floor halfway between their two common rooms, which is basically just code for making out in a secluded part of the castle under the pretence of doing homework.
But the satisfaction of having her evening already planned out disappears the moment that she finds Nicole waiting at the bottom of Ravenclaw Tower, pacing up and down at the foot of the stairs. Worry is etched on Nicole’s face, there are small dark stains that look suspiciously like blood down the front of Nicole’s shirt, and she’s cradling her right hand as if she’s seriously hurt it.
Upon seeing Waverly, Nicole stops pacing and stands in front of Waverly.
“Baby, I … I did a thing.”
Waverly reaches for Nicole’s hand, holding it as carefully as she can to inspect the knuckles, which are swollen and bruised, like her fist has collided with something solid. Nicole winces as Waverly touches her, apparently in a considerable amount of pain, and Waverly can’t help but wonder why Nicole has come to her instead of going to the Hospital Wing for treatment, where the school matron would be able to reduce the swelling with a simple wave of her wand.
“Nicole! What happened to you?”
“It’s nothing,” says Nicole, withdrawing her hand so that Waverly can’t examine the injury any further.
“This isn’t nothing!” protests Waverly. She dares to ask, “What … or who ?”
There’s a moment of hesitation, during which Nicole must be trying to weigh up the outcome of telling Waverly what has happened versus not, before Nicole finally confesses, “Uh, Willa.”
“You punched Willa?” exclaims Waverly.
“Twice. Shit, I’m going to be in so much trouble. I’m a Prefect !”
Nicole starts pacing again, anxiously tracking the same path back and forth in front of Waverly, who reaches out for Nicole’s good hand to bring her anxious girlfriend to a standstill.
“Hey, it’s okay,” she says, lifting her other hand to stroke Nicole’s cheek reassuringly. “Everything is going to be fine.”
“I punched the Head Girl,” says Nicole, in disbelief. “She was … she was being such a bitch! You’re her sister, she shouldn’t talk about you like that. And I just got really angry because I love you and…”
Waverly realises what Nicole is saying, what must have happened in the run-up to Nicole punching Willa, and though Waverly’s initial reaction is to be furious that Willa has obviously taken it upon herself to make snide remarks about Waverly’s relationship with Nicole, she also feels a rush of affection towards Nicole for stepping in to defend Waverly in her absence.
“You did this for me?” Waverly asks incredulously, half in awe of Nicole and what she has done for Waverly. Nobody has ever cared for her that much before, and even the idea of Champ stepping in to defend Waverly’s honour is so ludicrous that Waverly could laugh.
“Are you pissed?” asks Nicole, worry etched on her face, as if she actually believes that her heroic actions could change Waverly’s opinion of her in a negative way.
“No,” says Waverly, taking Nicole’s hand and leading her over to the steps leading up to Ravenclaw Tower, where she takes a seat on the second-from-bottom step and encourages Nicole to sit beside her. “I’m…” Waverly pauses for a moment and realises that she is actually pretty angry, though not with Nicole, and so she continues, “wait, actually yes I am pissed! The fact that Willa thinks she can go around making unwanted comments about me and my relationship with you makes me furious.”
Waverly didn’t hear whatever Willa said to make Nicole angry enough to punch her, but having known Willa her entire life, it doesn’t take very much imagination to get an idea to the kind of vile comments Willa might have made.
Still fuming, Waverly continues, “She doesn’t get to dictate how I feel about you. She doesn’t get to tell anybody that my love for you is wrong, because it isn’t wrong. I don’t think there is anything more right than the way I feel about you.”
“I love you so much,” confesses Nicole, her brown eyes full of warmth and adoration beyond the sadness that still lingers from her earlier regret at punching the eldest Earp girl.
“I hate her,” Waverly growls through clenched teeth, and she’s grateful that Willa isn’t actually here right now because she’s pretty sure that her own fist would go flying out uncontrollably towards Willa’s face. “I’ve tried so hard to tolerate her because she’s my sister, but I hate her. She has no idea how often I’ve defended her to Wynonna, but it turns out that Wynonna was right the whole time. She’s just downright nasty.”
“I’m sorry you have to deal with her,” says Nicole, her voice mournful.
Nicole snakes her arm around behind Waverly’s back and Waverly leans into her side, resting her head on Nicole’s shoulder. Waverly finds the proximity comforting, and Nicole’s familiar scent embraces Waverly as much as the arm holding her close does.
“I hate being an Earp,” admits Waverly. It’s not something that she’s ever admitted aloud before, only ever allowing these feelings of resentment towards her family name to exist in her head. But out of anybody that she could admit it to, she feels incredibly comfortable having Nicole as the one listening. “I’ve always hated it, to be honest. People think they know who I am and what I can do based on what my family have done before me. And then I have Willa’s expectations to deal with too. Sometimes I wish I was more like Wynonna with a thicker skin that Willa’s words would just bounce off. But I also don’t want to be like Wynonna because I want to be me . I want to be Waverly.”
“You are Waverly,” Nicole promises her, the hand around Waverly’s waist giving her an encouraging squeeze. “You’re unbelievably special. And I think it’s a shame that more people don’t appreciate that.”
“I’m just so tired of being an Earp,” says Waverly exasperatedly.
“I know, baby,” says Nicole, turning her head and nuzzling her face into Waverly’s hair.
It’s a tender moment, a lovely moment in the midst of hatred and anger, but it gets cut short by a second year boy who walks down the corridor and stops in front of them.
“Nicole Haught?” he asks. When Nicole lifts her head and nods, he continues, “Yeah, you’re wanted in the Head’s office.”
The boy disappears up the stairs behind them and Nicole gets to her feet, running a hand through the few loose strands of hair around her face that have escaped from her braid.
“I’m going to lose my Prefect badge,” panics Nicole. Her eyes go wide, and she cries out, “Shit, what if I get kicked off the Hufflepuff Quidditch team? This is going to go on my record and damage my hopes of getting into the Auror Academy!”
“Hey!” says Waverly, jumping up off the step and wrapping her arms around Nicole in a tight embrace, hoping that her presence can be as much of a reassuring comfort to Nicole as Nicole’s was to Waverly just a few moments ago. “It’s going to be fine. This is out of character for you and everybody knows that. Look, if Wynonna hasn’t had her badge taken off her or been kicked off the Quidditch team after some of the stuff that she’s done, then you’re going to be fine.”
Nicole swallows and nods, but when she pulls back from the hug her eyebrows are furrowed together, like she doesn’t entirely believe that there won’t be serious consequences for her one moment of irrationality.
Waverly pushes up onto her tiptoes and presses her lips to Nicole’s, and then, when she pulls away, she asks, “Are you going to be okay? Do you want me to come with you?”
“I’ll be fine,” Nicole shakes her head. “Go to Chess Club. I’ll see you at dinner.”
Still cradling her injured hand, Nicole leaves Waverly alone at the foot of Ravenclaw Tower. Waverly watches as her girlfriend disappears down the corridor and around the corner, desperately hoping that the consequences Nicole will face for lashing out at Willa won’t be too severe, and she is distracted enough by it all that she doesn’t notice the lanky figure emerge from the shadows until he speaks her name.
It’s Bobo, his dark hair spiked up into a messy mohawk that makes him seem like a wild animal. He swaggers towards Waverly, shirt untucked and his green and silver Slytherin tie knotted loosely at his collar. Waverly can’t help but roll her eyes when she sees him, his presence less than welcome considering the recent turn of events involving Willa. Waverly doesn’t want to hear whatever continuation of Willa’s homophobic bullshit Bobo wants to share with her.
“Go away, Bobo,” Waverly orders him, feeling the very last of her patience wane away with each step closer to her Bobo takes. “Unless you want the same treatment that Willa got.”
“Yes, I heard that your girlfriend punched mine,” says Bobo. A slow smirk spreads across his face, as if he is amused that Willa has taken a beating at Nicole’s hand, rather than angry.
“Willa deserved it,” insists Waverly, folding her arms across her chest in indignance.
“Perhaps she did,” shrugs Bobo, and his indifference unsettles Waverly. It’s most unlike Bobo to be without an ulterior motive, and he quickly makes it clear that he has a reason for being here. “It was interesting what you were just saying though, you know, about wishing that you weren’t an Earp.”
Waverly feels a shiver trickle down her spine, as if Bobo has cast a spell on her to transfigure her blood into ice. The expression on Bobo’s face tells Waverly that he knows something that Waverly doesn’t, and Waverly isn’t entirely sure that she wants to know whatever it is anyway.
“Do you have anything better to do with your time than stalk girls around the castle and eavesdrop on their conversations?” Waverly asks with a sigh. “Conversations which are private, might I add!”
“What if I told you that your dreams are actually the reality?” Bobo says elusively.
“What do you mean?”
“What if I told you that you’re not an Earp?”
Waverly’s breath catches in her throat.
“I’d say that you’re lying,” she says, surprised when her voice comes out a lot quieter than the confident tone she had planned in her mind.
“Okay,” says Bobo, but there’s something about the tone of his voice that suggests he isn’t willing to drop the subject just because Waverly has decided she isn’t accepting his truth as her own. “But just remember that the truth is out there when you’re ready to go looking for it.”
And despite the fact that Bobo is a total psychopath who only uses his power and influence as Head Boy for his own personal gain, there’s something honest in his eyes that has Waverly believing him and doubting everything about herself that she’s ever come to know.
I have an overall outline for this story but a lot of the individual scenes I usually end up making up chapter by chapter as I write. However the punch is one scene that has been a dead cert in the outline since the very beginning of this story and every time one of you lovely readers has left a comment about how somebody needs to hit Willa, I have been grinning with glee. So here you go!
Thank you for reading and for putting up with my sporadic updates. As always, comments are greatly appreciated and help motivate me to write, and you can also chat with me about this story over on tumblr @almostafantasia