A/N: Hello, friends. It's been a while! Sorry. One of these days I will have a more regular update schedule.

If you are wondering why this chapter took so long, the short answer is writer's block. The previous chapter concluded a major arc that I had been building to for a while and then once I actually got there, I was kind of like "Well, I know where the next part ends up, but how do I get there?" It took me a while to figure it out.

In the process of figuring that out, I started a new, completely unrelated Fred/OC fic called Playing with Fire, because apparently that's how my brain works. I will shamelessly encourage you to read that as well.

Anyway, I hope you keep reading! I am indebted to you all for your kind words and patience. It means a lot and your reviews, favorites, and follows always make me so happy.

Chapter 17: 24 Hours

The next morning, I woke up hours before my alarm.

This in itself is unusual—I am not the sort of person who typically wakes up unaided. I am the sort of person who typically sleeps late despite her alarm. But there I was, wide awake and staring at a clock that was not set to go off for another three hours.

The second thing I noticed was that I felt…happy. There was no weight in the pit of my stomach, no invisible stones pressing down on my throat, no knots of tension nestled in between my shoulder blades.

I almost laughed, partly at the incongruity of how I felt now and how I had been feeling, partly because it was another sign of my own spectacular stupidity. I'd not only been miserable, I'd refused to admit I was miserable based on the principle "If I don't acknowledge it, it isn't happening." It was ridiculous.

I could hear my parents moving around in the kitchen. I should not laugh, I decided. Unprovoked laughter at seven o'clock in the morning is probably one of those things that is likely to result in unnecessary worry and probing questions about your emotional wellbeing. And Merlin knows I didn't need to add that sort of drama to my life.

I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, listening to the quiet morning sounds of my street waking up, the cat purring at the foot of my bed, and my parents making breakfast in the kitchen. My mind drifted to last night: the running, the rain, dinner, that first kiss. It mostly lingered on the kiss. Well, the kissing, if you want to be precise.

It was lovely, it was perfect. It was not, as I had repeatedly worried it would be, complicated.

But what now?

The question came to mind unbidden: what happens next? In all of my hemming and hawing and 'it's-complicated-ing,' I'd only ever really thought about the getting together, that awkward first date: I'd never thought about what came next.

I tried to approach it rationally: what did I want to happen next? I wanted to see him again—but when? I had no plans for today, but was today too soon? Perhaps there wasn't any harm in asking if he was busy. Unless there was. Maybe it would come off eager and weird, like odd Herbert Byron and his homemade Valentines. I felt like I'd read something about that somewhere, maybe in a magazine. It seems like the sort of thing people would tell you not to do. Not that I really knew. I'd never really had a proper boyfriend before: I didn't know how these things worked.

Was he even my boyfriend?

We hadn't really talked about it. I mean, I suppose that it wouldn't be unreasonable to make that assumption, given everything that had happened. There wasn't any indication that he'd been seeking a strictly "just a few dates and nothing more" sort of thing. Right? Right. Probably.

I should ask Viv. She's relatively level-headed about these sorts of things.

More importantly, I should owl Viv about this. Angelina and Alicia, too. They'll have good advice.

Merlin, I sound selfish. Why is anyone friends with me?

I was saved from further ventures down this particular thought spiral by a gentle tap at my bedroom window. I could make out the silhouette of a small barn owl behind the curtain.

It could be from Viv, I told myself, trying to temper my expectations. I rose from bed and made my way over to the window. It could be from Alicia. It could be from Angelina. It could be about a job application…

I unlatched the window and untied the letter from the owl's leg. It looked like a short message. I unrolled it slowly and was greeted by an untidy scrawl that I would recognize anywhere.

Sophie,

This is perhaps a bit forward of me, but can I see you today? I'm doing some work this morning, but I'm available at one until such a time that you get sick of me.

George

I was smiling as I wrote my reply at the bottom of the letter:

George,

It's not forward if I was hoping you'd ask. I'll see you at one.

Sophie

I was now too giddy and nervous to have any hope of falling back asleep. Instead, I showered and got dressed and wandered into the kitchen around half past eight.

"What are you doing up?" asked Dad, looking up from his crossword puzzle.

I would be casual about this, I decided as I helped myself to some cereal. "Dunno, I just…felt like waking up, I suppose."

"You 'just felt like waking up,'" said Mum. I could practically hear the arched eyebrows in her tone of voice. "Are you ill? Jacob, check her temperature, I think she has a fever."

I sighed and sat down at the table. "Really. I'm not nocturnal. I just…slept really well last night, I suppose." I busied myself with my cereal, hoping that would be an end to the questions.

"It would do you well to make this a habit," said Mum, never one to pass up an opportunity to lecture me about my sleep habits. "Especially once you get a job that doesn't have a ten o'clock start time."

"I like to dream big," I said. "Maybe I'll have a job that won't start until noon."

"Cheeky. Have some berries, I bought them at the farmer's market yesterday." She pushed a bowl of sliced strawberries in front of me. "How are your applications coming?"

I shrugged, spooning some strawberries into my cereal. "Well enough."

"Did you respond to the advertisement I left for you last week? The one for the bookkeeper?"

"Why does everyone think I'd be suited for bookkeeping?"

"You're detail-oriented and responsible," said Dad, "I think people expect you to be good with numbers."

"Well, I'm not," I said, taking a bite of cereal.

"I just chose it because it pays well and it's nearby," said Mum, smiling as I shook my head vehemently. "All right. Are you going to be working on more applications today, or are you waiting to hear back?"

"I might this morning, but I was planning on going out this afternoon."

"What for?"

"Just meeting a friend."

This was evidently the most suspicious answer that I could have offered.

"A 'friend?'" said Mum, suddenly looking very interested in the conversation. Dad had surreptitiously set down his crossword.

"Yes," I said, still trying to be casual. "I do have them, you know."

"Yes, but most of your friends have names, I imagine," said Mum.

"Fairly common thing to have, names," offered Dad.

I rolled my eyes. "It's George, if you must know. I don't know why that's important."

I ate another spoonful of cereal, hoping this would act as a sort of signal that the conversation was over.

It didn't. If it did anything, it seemed to encourage the opposite, as Mum and Dad were now exchanging that privately amused sort of look that parents sometimes share. You know, the smug one that seems to say, "We know more than you do and now we're going to be utterly infuriating and smile because we have this inside joke, ha ha ha."

"You're seeing George today," said Dad, as though he were musing on some great revelation.

"Yes, that's what I just said."

"Is this a friend sort of thing or a more than friends sort of thing?" asked Mum.

I was silent for a beat too long.

"Ah, so it's a more than friends sort of thing," said Mum.

"You know, that 'I'm seeing a friend' line always works in the movies," I said with no small amount of bitterness.

"That's the only setting it does work, darling," said Dad. "It's a transparently obvious strategy."

"Excruciatingly obvious," added Mum. "Not to mention the fact that you've been unusually mopey lately. We pick up on these things, your dad and I."

I wasn't entirely sure how to take this. I had thought it was likely that Mum and Dad had picked up on my general mood this summer, but I was certain that I had been extremely subtle about the source of my moodiness and even more certain that they would likely attribute any perceived changes in mood as a result of the stressors of post-Hogwarts life and not any sort of romantic relationship.

"So," said Dad, "this young man is one of Arthur Weasley's sons?"

I sighed. I gave up. There was no point in denying anything.

"Yes."

"And how long have you been seeing him?"

"Er—" I looked at the clock on the wall. "Twelve hours. Give or take a few minutes."

Dad whistled. "Maggie, I'm afraid we've failed as parents. Our darling girl has had a boyfriend for twelve hours and we are just now finding out."

"I don't know if I'll ever get over this," said Mum.

"You know, you both think you're being so clever and funny," I said, which was enough to turn Dad's stony expression into a long and drawn out chortle.

"Nonsense, Sophie, your mother and I are very concerned with the direction your life is taking," said Dad, failing spectacularly at keeping a straight face.

"You're laughing at your own bad jokes. That is the epitome of sadness," I said to Dad, who was now laughing even harder.

"No, darling, it's the epitome of being a middle-aged dad," said Mum.

"You're both ridiculous."

"Yes and one day you're going to grow up and find that you have become just as ridiculous as your dear parents," said Mum, clasping my cheeks in her hands and kissing me on the forehead.

"You wish."

"You can't fight genetics my darling girl," said Mum cheerfully. "Now. We've established that you're seeing a boy. I'd like to have him round for dinner at some point. It doesn't have to be today, of course, but some time soon."

"Maybe after you start measuring your relationship in calendar days," laughed Dad.

"Dad."

"What are you laughing about?" Brenna had appeared in the doorway and was surveying the kitchen with her hands on her hips, as though to suggest that she was Very Disappointed. "You woke me up, you know."

"Nothing," I said at the same time Dad said, "Your sister has a boyfriend."

"Dad."

"What? How long have you had a boyfriend?" demanded Brenna. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Twelve hours," said Dad, shaking his head. "Believe me, Bren, your mother and I are just as shocked as you are. We have been in the dark all this time."

"Dad."

"Is it George Weasley, then?" asked Brenna. "Marcy Wright said you were dating one of the Weasleys, but I asked you and you told me it wasn't true."

"Well, it wasn't at the time."

"Who's Marcy Wright?" said Mum.

"A girl in my year. Kathleen calls her the Charlemagne of Rumors because most rumors can be traced back to Marcy."

"The Charlemagne of Rumors? You're going to have to explain that analogy."

"He was some old king who had loads of children. Like twenty. About half of Europe is related to him. We're probably related to him. You and Dad might even be related, Mum, but if it's through Charlemagne, it's so far back that it probably doesn't matter."

This revelation was enough to render Mum and Dad speechless for about half a moment.

"And where did you learn this information?" Mum finally asked.

"Kathleen, of course," said Brenna. "She's learning about genealogy over the summer."

"Amateur genealogy and twelve hour boyfriends," sighed Dad. "Where did we go wrong, Maggie?"


At three minutes past one, I was once again taking the stairs two at a time up to Fred and George's flat, only this time I was powered by a mixture of giddiness and anticipation rather than regret fueled by anxiety. I reached the landing and knocked on the door.

This time, it was Fred who greeted me, opening the door and grinning in the sort of obnoxious way that seemed designed to remind me that the last time I'd seen him, I'd knocked over his coffee table as I had unsubtly leaped from my position in his brother's lap.

"Oh stop it," I said in lieu of a proper greeting as he opened the door.

"I haven't even said anything!"

"I can tell what you're thinking and it's nothing good."

Fred shrugged. "Fair enough, but I'll point out that that is true most of the time and not exactly unique to the present situation." He winked. "Come in, he's in the living room."

I walked past Fred into the kitchen, which was most the same as the night before, except there was a faint aroma of bacon hanging in the air and an unwashed skillet soaking in the sink. I walked into the living room and found George sitting on the couch, peering at what looked to be an invoice. He looked up and smiled and I suddenly found myself feeling equal parts giddy and nervous.

"Hi."

"Hi."

A beat of silence followed as we looked at each other, smiling rather dopily.

"Merlin's pants, you two are going to be utterly disgusting from now on, aren't you?" sighed Fred from behind me in the kitchen.

"We're adorable," said George, putting his face in his hands and batting his eyes. Fred made a retching sound.

"You were in favor of this," I reminded him. "You could have stopped it."

"Mine is a life filled with regret." Fred shook his head. "Anyway. I'm off to the shops. I'll be back at half past two. Make sure you're presentable, clean up any spills, stay safe, George, be a gentleman and make sure you take care of her needs—"

"Fred!"

He grinned wickedly and was out the door, cackling all the way.

I looked at George. He smiled and patted the seat next to him. "Would you like to sit down?"

"Sure."

I sat down next to him on the couch, toeing off my shoes and tucking my feet under me. I was suddenly very conscious of every part of me—my pulse thrumming in my throat, the blush prickling in my neck, the way my hands felt shaky and uncertain, my knee grazing his thigh.

I looked at him. He seemed amused.

"This is still a little weird, right?" I said.

He chuckled and took my hand, rubbing his thumb in a circle on my palm. "A little. But not in a bad way."

"No, not bad at all. Just…different, I guess."

There was a moment of silence.

"Can I kiss you?" George said quietly.

"I was hoping you would."

He didn't waste any time, closing the gap between us in one swift motion. As our lips met, I felt this inner sense of relief, like I'd been holding my breath since he'd kissed me goodbye the previous night on the landing outside his flat, while moths fluttered against the porch light above us and crickets sang quietly in the background. Within two minutes, I was back in his lap in the same compromising position that Fred and Lee had found us in the night before.

Kissing George was dizzying. It was as though all of that time that we hadn't been kissing—sixth year, seventh year, the past few months after school had ended—had finally caught up with me. I needed to kiss him more than I needed air, food, and water combined.

And then there was the matter of hands. Mine were tangled in his hair at first, but I soon found that there were so many other places that they had to be—his cheeks, the back of his neck, his shoulders, his chest. His hands were occupied first with my face, tracing my jawline to my ears, and then on the small of my back, pulling me closer and tracing small circles that made my breath come quicker and a blush creep to my cheeks.

We passed much of that hour and a half this way, in a bundle of lips, tongues, hands, and heat. Nothing beyond kissing—not yet—but I was realizing that the "beyond" was going to quickly become less of an if and more of a when, at least if things continued to go well. But I was getting ahead of myself.

George finally broke away from me sometime later and swore quite colorfully.

"What's wrong?"

"It's a quarter past two. Fred'll be back in fifteen minutes."

"Bugger."

George grinned. "How's my hair?"

"A bit disheveled." I smoothed down his hair and straightened the collar of his shirt. "How about mine?"

"Beautiful, as always."

"You're not being helpful."

He grinned and tucked a wayward strand behind my ear. "You're fine. Come on, give me one last kiss before Fred comes and spoils it all."

"I suppose I can manage that." I leaned in and closed the gap between us.

Two minutes later, I pulled away from him. "We've got to stop."

His hands tightened on my waist. "One more? We've got time yet."

It didn't take much to convince me.

Five minutes later, I pulled away again. "All right. Really. We've got eight minutes and I'm not knocking apart your coffee table again.

"Spoilsport." But he smiled as he said it and his hands fell from my waist. I slipped off his lap and stood up, stretching my legs.

"Where's your bathroom? I want to see about my hair."

"Down that hall, first door on your left. I'm going to get something to drink, d'you want anything?"

"Water, please."

I found the bathroom as he described it. It was small and reasonably clean, and tiled in alternating shades of bright yellow and cornflower blue. Like the kitchen, it was about ten years out of date, which lent to its charm. There was a shower curtain embroidered with tiny sunflowers, an artifact that I was certain had been provided by their mother.

I surveyed my hair. George had been mostly truthful: it wasn't that bad, just a little mussed. I ran my fingers under the tap and combed them through my hair, which smoothed out the worst of it. My cheeks were still quite flushed, but there wasn't much I could do about that.

I looked happy, I decided. I was happy.

I left the bathroom and returned to the couch just as George was returning with two glasses of water. He handed me one glass and sat down next to me, draping an arm around my shoulders. I leaned into him and took a sip of my water.

"My parents found out about you," I said.

"That was quick."

"I didn't mean to tell them, exactly," I said. "Not that I was planning on keeping it from them. It's just it's all very new and—"

George chuckled. "Easy, love."

"I just didn't want you to think that—"

"I know. And I don't think that."

There was something profoundly reassuring about this statement and I found myself relaxing again.

"Mum was asking about my plans for the day and I said I was meeting a friend, and that is apparently not as effective misdirection as films have led me to believe."

George scoffed. "Hardly."

"How is it that everyone has worked this out but me?' I said, not expecting an answer. "Anyway, they didn't believe it and then Dad went on this whole thing where he was pretending to be upset because I'd had a boyfriend for twelve hours and hadn't told them—"

I paused, cheeks flushing as I realized that I had referred to him as my boyfriend out loud. I looked at him, trying to gauge his reaction. He was staring at me with a familiar expression—head cocked to the side, corner of his mouth quirked up in something like a smile, waiting to see what I'd do next.

"Why do you always look so amused when I'm worried?"

"Because you're delightfully charming."

"Flattery will get you nowhere," I said, which was clearly a lie. George laughed.

"You worry too much."

"Well…I just…I don't want to muck this up," I said, setting my glass on the table. "May I remind you that less than twenty four hours ago, I was standing on your doorstep in the rain to ask you to dinner because I'd mucked things up?"

"Sophie." His tone turned serious. "You don't have to worry so much. People make mistakes."

I looked at my hands, picking absently at the cuticle of my thumbnail.

"You would have to make the most spectacular mistake to irreparably muck things up," continued George, setting his glass down next to mine on the coffee table. "Like accidentally join the Death Eaters. Or own a pet ferret."

I laughed. "A ferret?"

"I find them unsettling," shrugged George. "Those little hands and beady eyes. Ferrets are the Death Eaters of the animal kingdom."

"You shouldn't make jokes about Death Eaters," I scolded, trying and failing to hide a smile.

"I refuse to let fear rule my life or affect my comedy."

"I have a feeling it's mostly the comedy."

"Mostly."

I picked at my cuticle for a moment. I could feel him watching me, waiting for me to speak.

"So," I said, after a moment, "I mean, we didn't actually discuss this, so I didn't want to assume…but does that mean…are we…" I trailed off, and looked at him. He was smiling.

"Well, that depends. Are you seeing anyone else?"

"No."

"Do you want to see anyone else?"

"No."

"Well, I am not seeing anyone else and I also don't want to see anyone else," he said, ticking off each statement on a finger. He raised his eyebrows. "I reckon that means you're my girlfriend, which would in turn, make me your boyfriend. Is that an acceptable arrangement for you?"

I smiled. "Yes."

"Brilliant." He grinned and pecked me gently on the lips. "I'll send the contract round this evening."

"I am not signing a contract."

"Too late," he said cheerfully. "Now that we've cleared that up, what did your parents have to say about our budding romance?"

"Oh, beyond Dad's terrible jokes, they didn't seem to have a problem with it. Mum wants to have you round for dinner at some point."

"It will be delightful, I'm sure," said George, sounding like he meant it. "I have not had the opportunity to inform my parents, but knowing Mum, I expect she'll have it sussed out within the week. She's wily like that."

"Well, hopefully I won't be a disappointment."

George arched an eyebrow at me. "Are you mad? Mum has called you as, 'that lovely girl, Sophie Fletcher,' since fourth year, at least. She'll want to adopt you. She may even trade me for you."

"You're joking."

"I'm dead serious. You can ask Fred."

"I've scarcely spoken to your mother."

George shrugged. "You've made a good impression the few times you've met. AND you've always sent us thank you notes for gifts. She likes that sort of thing."

"How would she have known about those?"

The tips of George's ears reddened slightly. "I—er—might have left one or two in a pocket…or used them as a bookmark…"

"Really?"

He shrugged. "Well. I told you I fancied you."

I took his face in my hands and kissed him square on the lips. "George Weasley. That is without a doubt the most charming thing I have ever heard."

"If you tell anyone, I'll deny it," he said, eyes twinkling.

"You wouldn't."

"No, probably not."

The sound of the latch being undone interrupted the moment and I dropped my hands from his face, settling back into the couch.

"I'm back!" shouted Fred from the doorway. "Are you decent? I have company with me."

"Decent as I'll ever be!" called George.

"That had better mean you have clothes on, because I'm coming in," replied a familiar voice.

George and I exchanged a look. It was Viv.

"Viv, what are you doing here?" called George.

"Went to look at a flat in the area and I ran into Fred by the shops and I thought I'd stop by. And you and I need to have a talk—"

Viv suddenly appeared in the doorway, glancing at me briefly before looking back at George. "—about this Sophie thing because I'm starting to—"

It took a moment for my presence to register with Viv. Her eyes widened and she looked back at me, taking in the way I was sitting on the couch, leaning against George, his arm draped casually around my shoulder.

"Hi, Viv," I said brightly.

"You—you're here," said Viv. "Bloody hell—did you—you actually came to see him. You are actually here."

"If you want to get technical about it," said George, "she was here last night. Ran here in the rain from Flourish and Blotts and showed up on my doorstep with a dramatic speech and asked me on a date."

"It was not a dramatic speech," I clarified.

"She's being humble, it was extraordinary," said George, ignoring me as I elbowed him. "Angels and demons alike wept at the sound of her words."

"Lee and I found them snogging on the couch when we got back," added Fred, casually strolling past Viv and plopping down into an armchair. "Very scandalous. I don't know that Lee will ever be the same."

Viv opened and closed her mouth a few times, seeming torn between utter glee that this sorry chapter in our lives had concluded so happily and irritation that this news had not been conveyed to her immediately.

In the end, glee won out. She whooped and launched herself at George and me, enveloping us both in a bear hug.

"You two are the most frustrating human beings to ever walk the planet," she declared.

"Objection," said George.

"Overruled," replied Viv, cheerfully. Her eyes narrowed as she focused on me. "You and I need to have a conversation later about your communication. But right now I am too happy to be mad at you." She wrapped her arms around me in another bone breaking hug.

"And you!" she said to Fred, leaping up from the couch and elbowing George in the stomach in the process. "You knew they were here and you didn't tell me! You knew that they had sorted things out and you didn't tell me!"

Fred shrugged and grinned. "I thought it'd be funnier if you saw for yourself. And you did not disappoint." He ducked as Viv pummeled him with a throw pillow.

It took Viv a couple of minutes to settle down, to say the least.

"Merlin's beard, you people are exhausting," she said, panting as she lobbed the throw pillow at Fred one final time. She plopped down next to me on the couch, squeezing me again in another bear hug. "I am so happy for you, you dunce," she whispered into my hair.

"I am not a dunce!" I protested.

"Truly, you are. The dunciest of dunces." Viv released me and suddenly pointed a finger at George. "George Weasley, if you break her heart, I will—"

"—destroy, devastate, decapitate, and disembowel me?" interrupted George. "Am I forgetting anything?"

"Defenestrate?" offered Fred.

"Defenestrate," added George.

Viv nodded. "Correct. You'll date her until she's finished with you and then you may retire to a monkish life of quiet celibacy."

"Sounds reasonable."

"Good," said Viv. George gave my shoulders a squeeze.

"What are you even doing here?" I asked, mostly in an effort to steer the conversation away from violence and back to something like sanity.

"Looking at flats," said Viv. Her eyes suddenly lit up. "Sophie! THIS IS PERFECT!"

So much for sanity.

"Er—what exactly do you mean?"

"I looked at a flat today," said Viv breathlessly. "Three blocks from here. Two bedroom. Built-ins. Exposed brick. Utterly gorgeous."

"All right…"

"They want 378 Galleons a month. I can't afford it on my own and I went to look because I thought that I could find a flatmate if I liked it enough. I thought of you first, of course, but I thought since it was so close to Fred and George that you probably wouldn't be interested, but now that you've cleared this up, it's a selling point!"

"Viv, I can't afford 189 Galleons a month," I said gently. "Not on a clerk's salary."

Viv shook her head. "No, no, no. You wouldn't have to. I'd pay 260. You'd only have to pay 118."

"I can't have you paying more than half the rent—"

"I can afford it," she insisted. "Gringotts offered a lot more than what I was expecting. A lot. 260 is more than affordable for me. And besides, I would rather pay a little more and live with someone I actually like than split the rent evenly with a stranger."

"It just doesn't seem particularly fair—"

"You won't be at Flourish and Blotts forever," said Viv with much more confidence than I felt about the prospect at the moment. "We can always renegotiate when your circumstances change. Or you could take on some of the extra chores if you'd like. We have options, Sophie."

I paused. This was feeling less like a pipe dream and more like a possibility.

118 Galleons was within my means. I'd done that math before. And I hadn't been able to find anything suitable in that price range—flats at those prices tended to be in dodgy parts of town and boasted features such as doxie infestations and resident ghosts with unsettling personal habits.

"Well…"

Viv could sense that I was warming up to the idea. "It's a gorgeous flat, Sophie. "Hardwood floors, lots of light. Close to work. Close to George…"

I looked at George. He grinned. "Don't look at me, it's up to you."

"You'd be living with your favorite person and best friend, who would completely forgive you for not owling her immediately about the developments in your romantic life…"

"Vivian, don't pretend for a moment that you're not going to bring that up regardless of how many flats we share."

"And your best friend would be very discreet if you chose to have a visitor overnight, or perhaps opted to spend your evening elsewhere…"

"Vivian." I was blushing to the roots of my hair. But I couldn't deny that that particular advantage of this arrangement hadn't crossed my mind.

"Come on, Sophie. It's perfect. We could go look at it again right now—the letting agent's office isn't that far and she said she was going to be in the office until half past five at least."

I was struggling to come up with a reason why this plan wouldn't work.

"All right," I said after a moment of silent debate. "Let's go."


Viv was right. It was a beautiful flat.

Our footsteps echoed on the hardwood floors as we walked through, the letting agent's voice echoing loudly as she rattled off the various amenities that the space had to offer. It was light and bright and newly painted. The second bedroom—the smaller of the two—had beautiful built-in bookcases with plate glass doors that immediately made it the best bedroom in the place, better than the larger one with the double closets and the pretty view.

Viv was doubly right, I realized as I opened the latch on one of the bookshelves: it was a perfect flat.

And that is how in the course of a single 24 hour period, I acquired a boyfriend and signed a lease on my first flat.