AN: Hey guys! I'm finally back!
I'm so sorry for not posting earlier :/
Thanks so much to everybody that helped and gave me advice about this!
Hope you like it! Tell me what you think, pleaaase!
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing if not my ideas.
"I know you love Mac Gonnall, deep down" Rose teased John.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that. I'm a rebel" He said puffing his chest out and winking.
Rose snorted. "Yeah, right"
John pouted while unlocking the door to his house.
It was a Tuesday and it was Harry Potter time. They had reached the fourth book and were at a crucial point, both knowing what was coming and dreading it.
"What? It's true! I am!" He protested, pushing the door open.
"You are what? Boring?" Came a voice from inside.
John froze on the spot and his face hardened, even if his eyes showed a deep fear.
Rose, worried, put a hand on his back.
"What? Cat got your tongue?" Asked a boy coming from the kitchen, smirking.
Rose had to admit it: he was good looking. Dark brown hair, blue piercing eyes and a smile as dazzling as his brother's made the package rather appealing.
As soon as he saw her, however, he shot her a flirty smile that she had not seen on his brother's face.
"You're not gonna introduce your pretty friend here?" He asked at John.
"What are you doing here?" The eldest bit back harshly.
"Woah, hello to you too, brother. My lessons were cancelled, but in heading out in two minutes, just dropped by to get changed." Jack answered playfully.
Rose was surprised at John's behavior, but she could also see how tense and...worried? he was. She had never seen him like that. It looked like he was living his worst nightmare.
"Well, since you don't seem too keen on being polite..." Jack said, moving towards her and already offering his hand, but John stepped in, putting himself between his brother and his friend. This defensiveness was weird, and Rose was taken aback by it.
Reaching for his hand, she took his right one in her left and squeezed it.
John, sighing, moved away, and Rose stepped next to him.
"Fine. Rose, this is Jack, my brother. Jack, this is Rose."The girl took his hand and was surprised when, instead of shaking it, Jack brought it to his lips and kissed its top.
"A pleasure to meet you, Rose. I wonder what a beautiful girl like you is doing with this nerd" He jabbed playfully at John, his voice clearly flirtatious.
Rose blushed at the compliment, but squeezed John's hand and leaned her head on his arm.
"Uh, I dunno. This 'nerd' seems pretty good to me" She answered, smiling up at him, and she could see the almost predatory twinkle disappear from the boy's icy eyes.
"Oh, I see..." He said, playfulness back on.
"I guess you're right, he is pretty clever" Jack said, smirking at John.
The tense posture disappeared from John's body and he rolled his eyes, relaxing.
"He is right here, you know" He said, faking annoyance.
"Oh, hi John! Hadn't seen you there!" Jack exclaimed and Rose giggled.
Shooting a glance at the clock, the clear eyed boy put his coat on.
"Well, I gotta go." He said, moving to the door. "Rose, it's been a pleasure. Have fun, but not too much" He winked and wiggled his eyebrows before stepping outside.
John sighed, exasperated but smiling.
"Yeah, yeah. Bye Jack" he said closing the door.
Then he turned around and went in the kitchen.
Rose was puzzled by the interaction between the two brothers, but decided to wait to ask and followed John, where he was pouring himself some juice.
"You want some?" He asked.
"Yes, please" she answered, picking up a glass and handing it out.
John watched proudly as Rose moved comfortably around his kitchen, smiling as she remembered at the first try were glasses where.
Silently, they moved to the living room and sat down close to each other.
"My turn, right?" Rose asked holding up the book.
John nodded, his mind miles away: he knew he had overreacted earlier, but he couldn't help it. Jack had a bad effect on him, and on his friends too. They always chose his brother and his charm over him and he couldn't let it happen with Rose.
The girl read a whole chapter, but didn't get a single comment or reaction out of John.
Sighing, she put the book away and her theory was confirmed when the boy didn't question why she had stopped.
"Hey..." She said, leaning a hand on his shoulder.
John shook his head to clear his mind.
"Sorry, I spaced out..."
Rose chuckled: that was the understatement of the month.
"Yeah, I noticed."
When she didn't get any answer, she got worried.
"Wanna tell me what's on your mind?" She asked softly.
John sighed, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hands.
Feeling the need to comfort him, and also particularly brave, she shifted on the couch.
"Lay down" she said offering her lap as a pillow. He hesitated.
"Come on..." She whispered and he relented.
Slowly he lowered himself on the couch, part of his legs dangling down the side of it, head on the girl's legs.
Giving into her desires, she threaded her fingers through his hair: they really were as soft as they seemed.
A small moan made its way out of the back of his throat and his eyes fluttered close.
Smiling softly, Rose spoke again.
"What's bothering you?"
"If it's bothering you so much, then it can't be that stupid." She bit back, her voice barely above a whisper.
Focusing on the soft caresses she was giving him, he gathered his strength and prayed that Rose wouldn't think less of him when this was over.
"I'm sorry I acted like that with my brother earlier. I know I was out of line." He sighed again.
Rose didn't say anything, just waited for him to let it all out.
"It's just... I feel threatened by Jack. He's my brother, and I really love him, but... Well, let's say he is far more interesting than I am." He said with a dry chuckle, his voice sad.
Rose struggled to keep her mouth shut even if she thought what he was saying was all kind of wrong. He needed to say this, though, so she forced her feelings down, focusing on his harsh words and on her soothing motion on his scalp, that were probably calming her more than him.
"Lots of times, people I called friends... They left me. And that happened because of John. Or better, because of his charm." He forced a half laugh.
Rose's heart constricted at the dejectedness in his voice and the pain in his eyes. Gently, carefully, she traced his cheek with her fingers, ever so lightly, hoping it could give him some strength.
John closed his eyes and shuddered, then sighed. He felt like all he had done since this had started was sighing.
"He is sorry, really. He tells me every chance he gets, just... Even if I know it will happen, it still hurts every time, you know? Everyone prefers him to me." He added, his voice breaking at the end.
Rose felt helpless, and angry, and heartbroken for him: how could they do that? To him, of all people!
"I always have this feeling that, when somebody seem to be my friend, it's not true. That they're close to me because they need help at school, or because I'm quite good at swimming and so it's nice having «one of the favorites» near you. And sometimes my suspicion are confirmed and-..." He cut himself off, eyes misty and voice rough.
The blonde girl couldn't take it anymore: she had never thought people could be so mean.
Surprisingly, one of his hand searched hers and she took it, squeezing it and then tangling their fingers together.
"I'm sorry..." She said, her voice a whisper, hating how that one word couldn't even begin to convey how she felt, how much his pain was hurting her too.
John chuckled drily again.
"Don't be... I'm the one who's bothering you with this stupid things and wallowing in self pity. I'm the one who's sorry." He said bitterly, eyes looking anywhere but at her.
"Hey..." She whispered, trying to catch his eyes, but he kept staring straight ahead.
"Look at me." She pleaded.
Reluctantly he turned his face to her.
"If I know one thing, is that you're not bothering me. It's actually rather touching that you're telling me this, trusting me with this." She started, giving him a pointed stare.
"There's no one I'd rather share this with." He whispered so softly she barely heard, and her heart skipped a beat at the softness in his eyes.
"Secondly, well... Don't doubt yourself. I can't bear to see you doing this to yourself. You're one of the most fantastic person I've ever met and I can't really understand how anyone would ever leave you. You're funny, smart and caring and really, do I have to go on? I'm sorry your friends are so stupid, but it's their loss. I would never ever have left you for your brother. Never." She finished, taking a deep breath and trembling slightly after realizing how much of herself she had revealed.
John was stunned into silence. He opened and closed his mouth, no sound coming out of it, his eyes watering. Finally, he managed to whisper a "thank you" as a tear escaped his eye.
Rose smiled softly, pressing a hand to the side of his face and stroking away the tear with her thumb.
"Can I have a hug?" She whispered and John sat up immediately, turning to her and pulling her to him. He buried his face in her neck, while she relished in the feeling of being once again in his arms.
She was starting to depend on these hugs, these moments made of silence broken only by hushed whispers, of comfort and of sweetness, of understanding and bonding, of barely there caresses and, sometimes, brushed kisses.
John inhaled her dizzyingly calming scent in slowly.
She had this affect on him: whenever he was upset or sad, even her mere presence could make him feel better.
And god, how much he loved having her in his arms…It was almost as if she was a piece of a puzzle that fit perfectly in his hold.
He laughed at himself for how much cliché this sounded, like, straight out of a romance novel.
But really, she was brilliant: he had told her things nobody else knew about him, things he was ashamed of and she was at his side, still.
John's breath tickled the skin of her neck pleasantly. She stroked his back lightly, feeling the taut muscles under his sweatshirt.
When the boy breathed in deeply, as if to talk, she straightened up a little.
"I have something to show you" He whispered, his lips brushing on her skin and causing a small shudder. Then he took her hand and brought her up.
Wordlessly, he lead her up the stairs that led to the study room. She was surprised when, instead of stopping there, he pushed another door open, one where she'd never been.
She stiffened when she saw where they were headed: there were two wardrobes next to the door, then a door and a bed with multicolored blankets on the left and a window followed by a bed with blue blankets on the right. John's bedroom.
However, when John felt her tense, he smirked lightly and she relaxed a bit.
"Relax, this is not our final destination" He said and Rose scowled playfully at him.
He stopped in front of the window, then he lifted the rug and took a key from under his bed.
Rose saw him bend and "What are you-"; she asked him.
She was stunned into silence when he opened a trapdoor on the floor, stairs visibly going down from there.
"Ta-dah!" he exclaimed, smiling.
A clear light, probably from a window, made it possible to see the floor.
"Go ahead" He prompted and, as she descended the stairs he closed the trapdoor.
When she arrived downstairs she stopped dead in her tracks: before her was a long, not really large room full of objects.
There were books, pillows, a guitar and many other things. The centre focus of the room seemed to be the cubbyhole like area embedded within one of the walls, dimly lit by several overhead lamps. The small space was made in it a seating area covered in pillows then encased in a teal green bookcases in the spaces walls, clearly worn from years of use and a vast collection of knickknacks and books in varying degrees of tatteredness.
John jumped down next to her and smiled at the look in awe in her eyes.
"Welcome to my secret room" He said smiling.
She was speechless for another couple of seconds, then grinned widely.
"John, this is beautiful!" She exclaimed.
The boy smiled softly.
"It's a room my dad made for me. When my siblings were born, he thought I was going to feel…envious, so he did this. It's my hideout since I was a kid" He said melancholily.
Rose sought his hand and squeezed it lightly.
"Seems pretty amazing to me" She whispered back.
Then, after letting him have some seconds of memories, she lightened the mood.
"So… can you really play the guitar?"
"Of course I can!" He retorted back, faking offense.
"Well, then you'll have to play for me, sometime" She winked with her tongue-touched smile.
John nodded eagerly, then pulled on her hand.
"Come over here!" He exclaimed moving a few steps into the room.
Rose's breath caught when she saw how many books and memories were embedded in the small seating area.
"Oh my god. Can I try it?" She asked, excited like a little girl on Christmas.
John nodded and let her get comfortable first amongst the cushions, then he joined her, laying down close to her, passing an arm behind her head and reaching for his special collection of Harry Potter's book from a shelf.
"Where were we?" He smiled.
Looking at Rose eagerly trying to find the right page, all he could think of was how much a good decision it was to put his secrets in her hands. They were surely safe, he added in his mind, cuddling closer to her and making her lean her head on his chest.
Safe and sound.