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Chapter 14: Measuring Tape Needed
For Kristina: Read, Review, go to Hawaii!
I was exhausted the next morning, but my head felt lighter and my body was a little more energized than it was before. We stayed up horribly late with me sobbing needlessly onto Alicia’s shoulder, but I did feel like myself again. I stretched and got dressed, staring out over Katie’s ridiculously huge garden. She was out there under a gazebo having tea with Angelina.
Ah, I thought as I pulled a sweatshirt over my head to combat the cool morning air, this was what it was supposed to be like. I could relax in the country and not have to worry about anything. I felt refreshed and in the mood to move on with my life and forget all about Oliver Wood. He was a good chapter for a bit and we had our fun, but now it was over and he graduated and I didn’t have to see him again unless I wanted to.
Which, right now, I did not.
I needed to have fun with my friends and their boyfriends (also my friends) and start a new chapter with my life, starting with flicking my wand to clean up my dirty clothes and letting my hair down around my shoulders. Looking cute was something I hadn’t done in the past couple days. It was time to move on and if I met a cute boy in the process it was a bonus. If not, I had my friends and my Dad and hell, even Lou Beckett.
“Jane!” Angelina said, waving me over from the gazebo. “Did you sleep okay?”
“Yeah. Great actually.” I slid down beside her and helped myself to some tea and a croissant. “I still don’t know where you got that bed, Katie. It’s amazing. I feel like I’m sleeping on air.”
“Sure you’re not just hovering yourself in your sleep?” Ang asked. “It’s like sleep walking but with a hover charm.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m sure I’m sleeping on the bed,” I replied, taking a bit of my breakfast. “Where’s Alicia anyway?”
“She went in to grab the mail a few minutes ago. The boys will be here in a little bit. That’s okay with you, isn’t it, Jane?”
“Don’t be stupid, of course it’s okay,” I said roughly. “We’re all friends no matter who is snogging whom.”
Katie beamed. “Good. I can’t wait. We can’t let one little mishap get in the way of a great time here, right?”
“Too right you are!” I cheered, finally feeling as cheery as I looked. It was nice to be elated and to be free of the annoying burden. I knew it was still in there, just a sliver of it, but that was how it was supposed to be. “So they’re getting here soon? I can’t wait to tell Fred my dad got a girlfriend. He’s been saying he needed one for the longest time.”
Angelina smiled and turned as Alicia rushed through the garden and out to where we sat. “He’ll be happy to hear about that I’m sure. You’ll have to tell him later since I plan to have my lips stuck to his when he gets here.”
“No surprises there,” muttered Alicia. “You stole my seat, Janey.” She chuckled and sat on the other side of Katie. “No good mail. Just a note from Lee saying they’d be here around three—whoa, didn’t see this.” She flipped a gold envelope over in her hands. “It’s to me, Katie, and Ang.”
“And I’m left out again,” I said, laughing. “What is it? Notice of my eviction from the country?”
“It’s a letter,” Alicia said tactfully, opening it and scanning the script. “Wow. It’s from Dodger.”
“No way!” I cried, jumping up and lunging for it. Alicia held it away. “What does it say? Does it call me a nut case because I wouldn’t be surprised it if did. Actually, I’d be surprised if it didn’t.”
“No mention of nut cases,” Angelina said, reading over Alicia’s shoulder. “Ha, there it is.”
“There what is?” I pleaded, trying to squint my eyes to see the looping letters. “What’s it say?”
“It’s just a letter telling us to look after you until you lost it,” Alicia said. “Which you did last night so everything is fine. Do you want us to write him back telling him you sobbed for hours straight or would you rather do it?”
“Bugger off,” I muttered. “I’ll write the nosy sod back.”
“He cares about you,” Katie said.
“I know, which is why I won’t stay mad at him. I’ll just call him a few names in the letter and get on with my life.” I grinned and helped myself to Angelina’s croissant. “What is the plan until the boys get here?”
Katie looked at herself and groaned in a whiny sort of way. “I’m so pale.”
“So you want to lay out?” Alicia said, rolling her eyes strategically. “You can just say that, you know?”
“I want to lay out.” Katie beamed and finished her cup of tea. “I have some organic towels in the back foyer we can get. The pond was just cleaned two days ago so it should be nice in case we want to swim.”
“Why does everyone have a pond?” I wondered out loud. “Alicia does, you do. I don’t have a pond.”
“You live in London, Jane,” Angelina said. “You get to live in all the excitement and craziness.”
“With Wood,” I muttered.
“With everyone!” she countered. “I get to have that house in Wales without a pond. Maybe I could phone Mum about putting in a pond.”
“Do that,” I replied, watching Katie rush back to her house for the towels. “I’ll ask Dad for a large fishbowl and put a miniature kayak in there or something.”
“You’re a good sport, Jane.” Alicia chuckled and placed her empty cup onto a tray just as the cook came out to collect the breakfast things. “Hi there, Thelma.”
Thelma nodded toward us. She was a tall quiet woman with graying hair and lines on her face. Usually she refrained from conversation, but last summer we managed to slip her a few drinks and she spilled all about her previous love affairs and happy vacations on the Mediterranean.
“Good morning, girls. Did you sleep well?” she asked.
“Not too shabby,” Alicia replied. “I’m a bit sick of the country, though. I think we should all go bunk at Jane’s in London.”
“And sleep on my floor?” I asked, gaping at her. “Sure, that would be fun and you’d wake up with back problems and a fish bowl on your head.”
“Let me know if you need anything. Kait’s told me you’re going to lie out. Lemonade then?”
Angelina cheered. “With ice, please. That sounds lovely.”
“Thanks, Thelma,” I said, placing my napkin on the very top of the pile and she made her way back down the garden path toward the house. “I need a cook. Dad’s good but we never really cook. Well, he did when Lou came around for dinner.”
“How are they anyway? Do you hate her?”
“I did at first,” I said slowly. “But I think I was more mad at the situation. It’s hard since she’s a Muggle though. I’m sorry to say I know very little about her. I’ll find out more when I go home. I’ll write back about it.”
“You’d better. I want to know what kind of woman Mr. Perry snagged,” Angelina said. “She better be nice. Blimey, what if she’s some crazy step mother that wants to send you off to America like Lindsey Winters’ step mum did?”
I made a face. Lindsey was our fifth roommate our first year. By the time we were in our third year she left half-way through because her father remarried and they wanted her to go to an American boarding school for magic instead of Hogwarts. Apparently tuition was thousands of Galleons a year and we never heard from her again though she sent us a Christmas card a year later of her dressed in a wonky uniform with a beret.
“Since I’m graduating this year I reckon I’ll be okay,” I said, though I wasn’t entirely convinced. I spotted Katie coming and she stopped briefly to smell a lily. “I get the orange one.” It reminded me of the Chudley Canons figurines. I shook my head. No, it would remind me of the center of a lovely flower.
I felt like the sun was cooking my skin, which was nice compared to the silly glum mood I was in the last few days. I opened one eye and saw the other girls peacefully basking in the sun beside Katie’s large pond and I scooted down a bit on my towel. I wore my practically new red polka-dot swimsuit (the one I bought for Oliver a while ago that he would never see but I figured I might as well get some use out of the thing, it was cute) and stretched my toes toward the water.
“I like this,” Alicia said suddenly, stifling a yawn. “It’s just peaceful.”
“I agree,” Katie added. “With our lives things are rarely peaceful.” She paused for a moment and took in a deep breath. “So Jane, how are you?”
“I’m really good actually.” I said this with a confident smile against the sun. “I think I’m ready to move on with my life, you know?”
“I think that’s a great idea.”
“And who knows? Maybe I’ll just hex Elizabeth and date Ellis already.”
“What a wonderful couple,” Alicia said and the girls laughed. “Some serious Seeker on Seeker action. You’ll find someone else, Jane, and if you don’t you’ll be one of the hottest singles at Hogwarts, especially with those legs of yours.”
I allowed myself a smile. “I think I’m cooking. Like a roast. Eff, I’m roasting myself.”
“You’d taste lovely, Jane,” Ang said offhandedly. “Just a bit longer, though, I’m afraid there will still be blood.”
“Angelina bleeding Johnson!”
My head jerked up and the blood rush made me a little dizzy.
“Put some clothes on, I can’t have my engaged brother seeing you looking like you do! C’mere and gimme a snog, woman, you look sodding amazing!” Fred stretched out his arms from the path. He stood there in shorts showing off his pale legs and his hair was a little longer and lighter than before.
George was beside him, laughing, and Lee was bringing up the rear with a few flowers for Alicia (I assumed he picked them from Katie’s garden).
Angelina leapt up and nearly flew off her towel to Fred. They collided and Fred’s hand made contact with her rear end a few times before she slapped it away. He seemed a big fan of her white bikini.
“Hey there,” George said, all smiles, and he took a seat beside Katie on her towel. “Is this what we’re doing today? Honestly, I was thinking something relatively fun.”
“If I can sit here and just stare I’ll be okay,” Lee said with a chuckle, handing Alicia her flowers. He sat on a nearby tree stump and chuckled. “Blimey, I love summer.”
“Keep your eyes in your head,” Alicia said.
“I’m going to throw you in the pond if you tell me not to stare.” Lee chuckled and pushed her lightly with his foot. She swatted at him. “Janey, how ya been? You look—well, blimey, you look good, don’t ya?”
Fred poked at me with his fingers and I opened my eyes again. “When did you get that bathing suit, Janey? I’m in a relationship, you know. You can’t just expect me to hit on you. I might, though, get a few drinks in me.”
I smiled. “Thanks, boys, but you don’t have to say that.”
“Who’s saying what? If you looked like shit we’d tell you that too,” Fred replied.
It was true. After I failed my first Hogwarts test I cried for two days and they were keen to point out how puffy my eyes were and how shitty I really did look.
“True,” I mumbled. “Thank you then. I feel a lot better today.”
“Bugger about Wood,” Lee said. “We saw him yesterday.”
“Lee,” hissed Fred. “Shut your bleeding yap.”
I leaned up on my elbows. “You saw him? Why?”
“Ran into his arse in London,” he said, throwing an apologizing look to Fred. “Told us what happened. Sorry, love. You look a lot better than he did, that’s for sure.”
“Good,” I muttered. “Did he say anything else?”
“He was on his way to some interview. He was peeved about it, wasn’t he, Fred? Kept saying how much he hated all this publicity. That’s what he gets for being a good-looking Quidditch player, isn’t it? Alicia will probably be getting lots of attention when she’s a professional player, won’t you?”
Alicia beamed. “Of course I will. I’ll be so good looking I’ll be the most eligible bachelorette and bachelor.”
“Sure, love,” Lee said with a laugh. He continued about his likeliness to be in a magazine, posing nude or something, and Fred joined in, acting posing now.
I stretched out on the towel and smiled, listening to my friends. Now, this was life. No troubles unless I created them and a perfect amount of fun. I missed Hogwarts for this, but I had it for the time being and that was all I needed. I needed my friends and some humor and another chapter of my life.
Chapter one: join Fred and throw Angelina into the pond.
In that chapter: Angelina screamed like a first year and threw water lilies at him.
Later that chapter: Fred ended up waterlogged because of his shorts but caught Angelina and snogged her anyway.
End of the chapter: I did a cannonball off the dock just to splash Katie, who was intent on not getting wet.
I lugged myself out of the pond a few hours after the boys arrived, soaked and laughing. Fred was doing impressions of Professor McGonagall chewing him out for something and George tackled him by the legs back into the water. Grabbing the towel, I peered back over my shoulder at my friends.
“I reckon we should just cut them off,” Lee was saying as he shook his head hard to get the water off.
“I think so too. If I can’t have them no one can,” Fred agreed, stealing Angelina’s towel to dry off. She shoved him and took it back.
“Have what?” Alicia asked. “Did you not have any lemonade when Thelma brought it out? I thought there were enough glasses.”
“I don’t care about lemonade,” said Fred, clearly scandalized. “I was taking about Jane’s legs. Blimey, have they gotten longer. I think they have. Katie, do you have measuring tape up at the house?” He leaned down and stared at my newly tan legs.
Angelina grabbed him by the collar. “Jane, could you wear pants the rest of the week please?”
“Did you say a skirt and heels?” I asked, chuckling. “Of course, Ang.”
Drool could have been coming out of Fred’s mouth.
“Dressed for dinner then, Katie?” Alicia asked, grabbing Lee by the ear.
“Yeah. I think we’ll have dinner out under the gazebo. I think the dining room is much too fancy for us and our food-throwing tendencies.” She pulled open the screen door to the kitchen and waved to Thelma. “Smells lovely! What is it?”
“It’s a surprise, dear. Go on and get cleaned up. Dinner will be on in about an hour.”
I always loved Katie’s house because it made me seem proper and wealthy. Sure, I wasn’t poor thanks to Dad and his ability to afford a London flat, but I would never have an enormous country home with a gazebo and a cook and a dining room with twelve-foot ceilings. We even had to get dressed up for dinner, something I hadn’t done in years unless I was still in my pajamas from that morning.
I closed the door to my present bedroom and flipped on a light with my wand. I ruffled through the wardrobe and found a pretty green dress with embroidered beige flowers which matched my shoes. It was nice, feeling pretty again. I knew even though the boys were taken they would notice. I enjoyed that.
I raided my makeup bag and brushed a bit of blush over my cheeks and added mascara and glittery gold to my eyes. I felt fresh, messing up my hair a bit in the mirror.
With plenty of time to spare, I snatched a quill and some parchment and positioned myself at the desk so conveniently in the bedroom. What a room this was!
I hope you’re well. The weather is beautiful here and I feel much better than I did when I left. I have a few things to tell you when I get back. Sorry I’ve been acting so crap lately. I’m good now, though. I hope Lou is enjoying herself. I look forward to getting reacquainted with her as long as she doesn’t want to talk football. I’ll have to do research if she does. I hate research.
Katie’s house is as lovely as ever. The boys just arrived this morning and we spent most of the day tanning and screwing around in the pond. Why can’t we have a pond? I’m thinking at least a fish bowl. You’d have to take care of it though. Let’s name the fish Waffle. What do you think?
Be sure to write back while I’m here!
I bit the quill thoughtfully and then regretted it because it wasn’t a sugar quill. There was time enough for another letter.
You’re a prat, you know that? Telling the girls to look after me. For your nosy information I did end up breaking—yesterday morning actually. It was a horribly dramatic affair with tears and a magazine crumpled on the other side of the room. It was very unlike me, but I knew you were right. What was I thinking, making eggs? Thanks, Roger.
It was the article in Quidditch Weekly that did it, if you want to know.
I feel much better today. I’m not sure if I should tell you or not. Are we that good of friends? I’d like to think we are. Anyway, I feel good. We did some swimming and the boys (Fred, George, and Lee) are here and we’re having a great time. It’s like I’m back to being Jane—feisty, gorgeously attractive (don’t you deny it, Dodger) Jane.
Thanks for looking out for me. I’ll definitely keep you posted while I’m here!
Perfect. I even felt like a formal, letter-writing girl of the nineteenth century. I should start using ridiculously big words and curtsey and not sit beside my significant other at dinner. What a sight I would be!
I tried to curtsey in front of the mirror. I nearly fell and decided I should leave the nineteenth century alone and live in the present.
I wondered for a few minutes about that Quidditch Weekly. Blake Eviart out of the Wigtown Wanderers definitely shouldn’t have had the number one rookie spot. Even though I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, Oliver Wood was hotter.
The gazebo was lit with little fairy lights around the top and a large candle centerpiece in the shape of a tree. I arrived with Angelina and Fred and watched him squeeze her tush lightly before they sat.
“Nice dress,” he said, laughing as we sat down. I gave him a thumbs-up for noticing. “Where are the—oh, there’s Lee and Leesh. You’d think the hostess would be out here first—look! I love this dip. Artichoke dip. Delicious. Ang, try this.” He dipped several chips into it and stuffed his face. Oh, so like Fred.
Lee and Alicia joined us moments later. Alicia sported a flower tucked into her hair and a smile on her face. Seeing her happy suddenly made me a little more elated. I had such wonderful friends.
“Just drop it,” I heard Katie say, walking outside in a pretty white summer dress. Her hair was slicked back in an elegant bun and George was beside her in a beige blazer and some sort of loafers. “Let’s just have dinner and we’ll talk about it later.”
“Do we have to?” He was grinning, but Katie did not. “Oh, come on, love. We’ll talk about it later then.”
“Ah, lovebirds!” Fred chimed with a mouthful of artichoke dip. “Try this dip, Georgie. This stuff is great.”
“Thanks.” George took a few chips onto his plate, but did not try to dip. He kept casting sideways glances at Katie.
“Everything okay?” I said carefully.
“Just stress is all,” Katie said happily, masking it quite well. “We just have to make some choices is all.”
“About the wedding?”
“Yes. But they’re simple choices and we can wait for my mum to get back anyway so let’s just have a lovely dinner.” She beamed as Thelma came out magicking several platters in front of her.
I stared down at the roasted pork and potatoes and soup with a strange chive arrangement on top and grinned. Real, delicious, probably expensive food. I loved Katie’s house.
My favorite part about Katie’s house was the balcony on the third floor off the landing. It was a large wooden deck with a series of wicker furniture and rails just big enough to slide my legs through and let them dangle down toward the grass. It was only sprinkling so I took a seat under a large golf umbrella, Ang at my side, and we stared out over the enormous garden illuminated by tiny rock lights.
“I had fun today,” she breathed, leaning her head against one of the rails. “It was nice just to let loose and get along again. We’ve had far too many things happening lately with that Bastian business and the Cup and you and Oliver.”
“I agree. I had a great time. I feel like me again, which is always nice.” I adjusted the umbrella in my hand. “I just need to find a new boy to fight with.”
“You will. No Dodger then?”
I snorted. “No Dodger. Ever. We’re friends, but I don’t think I could really fancy him anymore. But he’s a good guy.”
Angelina grinned. “I’m glad.” She paused and we listened to the tiny pats of rain on the fabric above us. “Can I ask you something, Jane?”
“Did you and Oliver ever have sex?”
I nearly choked. “Did we—what? Why?”
“I was just wondering. You know, since I told you when Fred and I did I realized I never asked you. Well, recently anyway. We always hound Katie about her and George.”
I stared out at a patch of dark purple flowers, biting my lip. “No. We didn’t. He talked about it a good deal because he’s a pervy bloke, but we didn’t. Nah. I was kind of scared about it. Glad we never did.” I laughed nervously.
“Do you think that could have saved it?”
“My relationship? Are you mad?” I said, gaping at her. “I don’t think so. I don’t think anything could have saved it.”
“Don’t be daft, of course a few things could have saved it.”
“Like what?” I asked, a little more aggressively than I probably should have.
“Like communication, Jane.”
I didn’t reply. Instead, I stared straight ahead into the flowers for several minutes until Angelina stood up and went inside. I stayed, still listening to the droplets which were now coming down harder, and thought about what she said. I wondered if the lack of physicality in my relationship was a toll on our interaction. I wondered if I was even ready for something like that—of course not. I wondered if he knew that.
I certainly didn’t tell him.
A/N: And another chapter bites the dust. The boys are back! I don't really know what to write in this author note. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed. It means so much to me and I wrote 2 whole chapters in one night because of the amazing reviews. Yay! Just doing edits now and the next should be up in a week or so.
I have now updated 3 times since the queue stopped. Yay TA status!
So what is everyone else doing without the queue? Also, leggie comments returned in this chapter, I hope you all enjoyed them: favorite quotes? Fred lines? Favorite chip dip?
Next Chapter: napkins.