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Masha Babicheva

You're an explosion (you're dynamite)

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Masha Babicheva

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"Let me count the ways." Red cheeks (Masha) and red hair (Fe) found their corner away from the party (Masha's) to list compliments (Fe's) into the quiet of the lake. Masha did not remove the hand that dragged Fe away and did remove the gaze that held Fe in place beside her. It was cold: Fe's presence was as much to provide heat to the body as it was to the heart.

 

Masha would count the ways about her friend's goodness, and her greatness, but at her own pace. She had to make certain, still, that she inked these moments into her being; she would not allow herself to forget the way the moon looked (big, moon-like) or how the party sounded (distant, chaotic) or how Fe felt (warm, friendly) or how she, herself, felt (warm, warm). All she had were these moments.

 

"I was going to start," she laughed—remembering, considering—and laughed again, "that your goodness begins in your humility, but I think that would be an offensive notion, wouldn't it?" Fe, who wore her confidence as thick as armor, whose bragging topped even her own. "Maybe the goodness begins in your pride, then." Her frozen grip shifted down a thin arm to spindly fingers and tangled them with her own. (Warmer, better.)

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Felicia Fletwock

Fe was fifteen, and not at all humil – not at all an expert on conjugations and especially not ones of words that implied meekness or self-aggrandization in any form. Her dad was humble; her mum was not; and Fe took after her mum.

 

Fe was fifteen, and the bundle of fingers around her elbow made hotness race all the way up her arms and into her ribs, searing, sawing, and if those ribs were tree branches, they would have burnt to crisps.

 

Fe was fifteen, and she was (probably) in love.

 

They had wandered away from the party. Attended mostly by upper-year students so Fe felt a swagger to have made the guest list, swaying with music and drinks and pilfered snacks much better than the junk the Gryffindor usually lugged along to get-togethers – packaged, processed, chemically altered to hyperactivate – it was a bash. Felicia fed on the pump of it for mere moments, but that was enough to imagine future duplications but also to warrant leaving so soon, although the majority of that was definitely Masha.

 

The Russian’s hand slicked down her arm cold, twined together fingers; Fe felt a hot-cold eruption but kept mild.

 

“My dad calls any pride hubris,” she said, making a face, but secretly glad at remembering the word (not really a feat: Ferdinand used it lots, and all in perfect enough context for his daughter and wife to infer its meaning). “But my mum thinks it’s crucial.” Her face scrunched up again, freckles blended to knots. “I guess my parents have opposing values.”

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Masha Babicheva

Boundaries were not something that Masha subscribed to nor something she believed in. Her family was not shy and so Masha was not shy—casual intimacy came as naturally as breathing and, these days, she had no reason to lock it up. And, so, there was no reason not to squeeze at Fe's fingers or to pull their hands to sit in her lap.

 

"I can see that." It was cold and Fe was warm and Masha scooted closer to steal more of it; she would not freeze from the air, but she might freeze from any distance. (She'd never been good at distance.) "I'm inclined to agree with your mother, I think," so close, now, that their conversation was smoke to land on each other's shoulders.

 

It was cold and Fe was warm and her hand was warm and Masha's chest was warm because of her and she was certain, then, that this was the reason she'd come here in the first place. To compete—always to compete, always to prove—but also to sit at the edge of a lake in the middle of the night with a girl that could still be a stranger, if only she hadn't been brave and interesting and Fe.

 

"I think, maybe, I'm overwhelmed." Admissions of weakness didn't always come easy, but the company pulled them into existence with a wry grin and nudge into the body beside her. "I think it would take too long for me to finish this list and I think I'd have to leave for Durmstrang without discovering everything I should include on it. Can I send you a truncated letter in three years after I gather my thoughts?"

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Felicia Fletwock

The surface of the lake was so rippled the moon’s reflection did a dance on it – jerky and flashing and making Fe’s eyes hurt, but she wouldn’t close them, not with Masha so close and so beaming herself: it was a cool lunar burn that the girl gave off, so very different from Molly, who was hot and flecked as Firewink sparks, or Elliot, glacier-cold and snappy, or the Muggle girls back in Plumstead who were lukewarm and unremarkable and who Fe mocked alongside the Muggle boys for their blandness.

 

“Me too!” she blurted out like a cough, grinning, because YES, she always agreed with her mum over her dad even though her dad had more sense and was sterner. “I mean, I’m like her more than him. I think it’s important to be proud. The good kind of proud, not the hubristic kind.” Vocabularic triumph. Fe grinned; her cheeks, reddened, mixed with the pale of the moon to make carnation.

 

Masha nudged her and Fe’s leg went tingling like it was asleep: a billion needles against a billion nerves. 

 

Fe wanted to kiss her; 

 

Fe could not move; 

 

Fe kept eye contact and didn’t fidget (which was a feat on its own).

 

“I’ll be almost graduated in three years!” She sounded disappointed, and even realizing this she didn’t mask it. Pouting: against rules (her mum’s mostly) but the Gryffindor did it anyway. (She was impatient.) She nudged Masha back (more pins, ahhhhhhhh). “How about just one thing? Shortest list ever.”

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Masha Babicheva

Fe buried darker and deeper into Masha's skin: she was endeared by the Gryffindor girl and counted every star in the sky as lucky that they'd been yanked into each other's orbits. Fate had treated Masha well, giving her someone who burned hotter than flame and was not at all hubristic, someone whose ink she could wear as armor and pride. (She was endeared.)

 

For Masha, sometimes, affection overcame her when she flew too close, starved her out and bled from her pores until her overfilled heart was satisfied that it had done its job. It was like that now. Fe held Masha's gaze and Masha held Fe's hands and her heart was thumpingthumpingthumping and she was so very fond of Fe Fletwock that it seemed a shame not to show it.

 

"Does it count to say that your good is a little bit of everything?" And Fe was pouting

 

(pouting! Another thing to add to an ever-growing list!)

 

and Masha's endearment was growing and brimming—cold needles on hot cheeks, hot bursts on cold fingers—and she was grinning as bright as the moonlight, was leaning in on an automatic order that her Affection demanded and her body executed willingly. She did not tremble or preamble; rather, she pressed cold lips to cold lips as a matter of fact. Once (to ease the thundering in her chest), twice (to thank Fe as ardently as she could for her existence), a third time (to apologize for being overwhelmed).

 

And she stayed locked, close. She grinned again, clutched Fe's fingers to keep (them)(both of them) grounded to the moment. "Three years isn't long to wait for a good list, I think."

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Felicia Fletwock

The second kiss was best.

 

Fe did not know how on earth she could tell the difference – but then again, YES, she DID: she had always been sensitive, prone to freaking out over feelings, and especially ones that fed and brimmed and meant more than movement.

 

The First Kiss was conjectural: a test. It reminded Felicia of touching a foal for the first time, letting it know trust.

 

The Second Kiss was a meaning, a single symbol Fe was meant to interpret and did, as: I like you I like you kiss me.

 

The Third Kiss was a finality. Fe didn’t feel it as an END, forever, but as the end of an act before the next. It was more diffident than the others, an apology from someone unpracticed in saying sorry. It mixed her, but she let it fade, let the Second Kiss brighten into a pulsing rune of Affection and Want.

 

She kissed Masha back, her first kiss and sure she was doing it right because it was not hard to copycat, to learn to ride and read another’s mouth. The motion started slim and slow then hit a high – Fe was familiar with the feeling, it made sense, it felt good, which meant it was right – before slowing off and backing down and their lips parted, sticking a bit with the breath that cooled them, like welding, together.

 

Dizziness: common, with a concussion –

 

Stabilization: the crutch of held hands – 

 

Infatuation: ????????????????

 

She mushed her fingertips into the spread of Masha’s hand, mapping the lines there, wondering where the suction was, the grip, the requirement of forever. She grinned, for once a sort of sheepish. 

 

But still bold.

 

“It’s gotta be the most meticulous list ever,” she said, beaming more – another WORD!!! – “if I have to wait that long.” And there would be more and more good things about her, surely, as she grew, and so that meant Masha could never stop adding and adding and adding.

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