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Chapter 10: Part 2: A Wedding, Seventh Year.
Another gorgeous chapter image by Gwen!
Original beta'd by Michelle! Thank you!
I would never, ever steal J.K Rowling's stuff.
“...Because he had nobody to go with...No-body. Geddit? No body. Because he’s skeleton, he’s got no body. And he had nobody to go with him to the party? Oh, forget it. Anyway, I met Thomas when we were in Hogwarts around fifteen years ago, yes I know that’s hard to believe but...”
Reason number 8,957,311 why I hate weddings: the best man and his speeches.
James was tracing patterns in the tablecloth, his eyebrows crossed in concentration and his tongue sticking out. Looking past my completely adorable boyfriend, I saw Mum and Tommy Hudson Orpington-Cade the Fifth looking loved up at the head table, her new husband being the only one to laugh at the awful jokes. The rain still pattered on the windows of the decadent room, something that distracted the guests from the awkward silences that followed the best man’s gags.
It didn’t distract me, however, as my eyes kept darting between the best man, James and the man standing by the door. My mother was right, apparently, when she had said that I looked like him. He had my dark hair, and my nose. He would have been handsome in his youth, but now his hair was greying slightly, and there were wrinkles on his forehead and around his eyes. His robes were quietly expensive and they suited him. He watched quietly as the best man finished his speech, and then when the food was served. He didn’t dare come closer to Mum, or me. I wondered what he was doing here.
“Amelie, love, you’ve got to stop looking at him.”
“I can’t help it. I haven’t seen him in eleven years.”
“That’s no reason to stare at him like he’s not wearing any clothes or something.”
“That’s just because you’d like to see him naked.”
“Oh yeah, I have suddenly harboured deep feelings for my girlfriend’s estranged father. That’s the way I roll.”
James and I were halfway through our plate of delicately prepared salmon with fancy sauce. Griselda was sitting opposite us, staring daggers at me as I flirted effortlessly with my very handsome boyfriend. She began attacking her plate of salad (obviously she was watching her figure) when James leaned over and pecked me on the cheek. We were sure to keep our voices down when talking about the return of my father. I’m not sure whether the niece of the groom would appreciate the return of the love of Mum’s life. Or so I hoped. I thought they must have loved each other enough to have me. Hopefully I wasn’t a mistake.
“You could never be a mistake,” James said lovingly when I voiced my theories. Griselda smashed the glass she had been holding, flashing us a fake smile as she tidied the pieces away with her wand. I failed to restrain the snort of laughter that erupted from my mouth and she slammed her napkin down and walked away from the table.
“Someone’s a little bit tetchy,” James whispered, although he had to nudge me in the elbow to get my attention because I had returned to looking at my dad.
Dad. The word still sounded a little bit strange on my lips. I was not used to it. I had never called any of my old stepfathers ‘Dad’ because they weren’t my real fathers. He looked so casual, just standing there by the drinks stand, leaning against the wall, arms crossed.
“And then Freddie was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get a job because I can’t work in the shop all my life’ and so Uncle Percy went and found him this post in the Law Enforcement Squad but apparently that was far too boring and…Amelie? Are you listening to me? Hey, I think I’m going to hook up with Griselda, she’s a hot piece of meat with a really nice personality...”
“What did you say?” I had just realised that James had been rambling to himself while I stared unashamedly at my father.
“Nothing, apparently I’m just talking to myself,” he said.
“But you just said something about hooking up with Griselda!”
“That’s because it is true,” James answered sarcastically, “She’s really hot!”
“Wow Jimmy, my father and my new cousin in one night? You really like to keep it in my family; and I’m pretty sure my mum would be up for it...”
“Do you know who else was up for it with your mum? Your dad.”
“Congratulations, James, I’m so proud that you’ve got a grasp of human reproduction.”
James rolled his eyes. “Just go up to him and talk to him. I could come with you if you like.”
I saw him look over my shoulder at my father, and for a moment I admired his eyes. They were really very pretty.
“You do have one massive crush on my family, don’t you?
“Well if I was going to ask out your dad then I wouldn’t bring you along, would I? That would just be awkward.”
“Love me?” I asked.
“Always,” he answered, and kissed me lightly on the lips.
I stood up, smoothing the front of my dress. James nodded to other guests seated at our table, before joining me, his arm sliding around my waist. We wound our way through the hundreds of guests at the wedding, moving slowly towards the drinks stand and my impending familial doom.
We hovered awkwardly around the drinks stand for a while, James pointing at the decorative centre pieces full of lilies and daisies and roses and saying ‘oh, look at those!’ and ‘oh my, aren’t they beautiful?’ before helping himself to a glass of punch.
“I’m just trying to act natural,” he replied when I had asked him what he was doing. I stood in front of him and placed two hands on either sides of his face, and looked straight into his eyes.
“James, answer this truly. Will I ever have to question your sexuality?”
“What? What are you talking about?” He stuck out his chest in an attempt to rescue his masculinity.
“Your ‘acting natural’,” I began, “is commenting on wedding flowers.”
“I’ll have you know that I’m taking Herbology at N.E.W.T level.”
I raised an eyebrow suspiciously, but he could tell that I was joking. James smirked, and I couldn’t help but smile. He leant in, his hands moving to my waist and he pressed his forehead to mine. I could feel his breath on my face, hot and sweet from the punch. My breath hitched in my throat and he chuckled softly.
“Now, Amelie, are you really going to question my sexuality?”
Well, obviously I couldn’t say anything, (his lips were far too close to mine to fully appreciate what he was saying) so I merely shook my head, my eyes still fixed on his face. He chuckled again, and my insides squirmed playfully. He finally kissed me and my hands moved to his hair, threading my fingers through it.
“Sorry, excuse me; can I just get to the punch?”
I pulled myself away from James so we could shuffle a little further to left, mumbling a hurried ‘sorry’ to the man. I nearly pushed James over in my hurry to get away from him once I realised whom the man was.
The man turned quickly, and stared at me for a couple of seconds. Then realisation dawned in his eyes, and I could tell that my cheeks were a bright shade of magenta.
“Amelie, my, you’ve grown up!”
And then we just stood there awkwardly. Do we hug?
“It’s been a while since you’ve seen me,” I said.
“It has,” he smiled. He put his hands on my shoulders and admired me from afar, “You’re quite the little lady, aren’t you?”
Unsure on how to respond to this, I said ‘thank you’. I reached behind me and pulled James forward, ready to introduce him to my father.
“This is James Potter, my boyfriend. James, this is my dad.”
There was a moment when the two shook hands.
“James Potter, eh? Is your mother still playing for the Harpies? Mighty fine Chaser, if you ask me.”
“She retired, but she helps out with coaching now and again.”
“Of course, of course. She was in the year above me at Hogwarts.”
The awkward silence returned. James threaded his fingers through his hair again. Dad tapped his toes impatiently. I couldn’t stand the sound.
“Why are you here?” I spurted out.
“I was going to wish your mother congratulations.”
“Bullshit,” I said, and Dad’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Why weren’t you here for the other weddings?”
“I was in the area.”
“Suffolk, really?” I said and Dad smiled nostalgically.
“You know that you are just like your mother, don’t you?”
“And that is supposed to be a compliment?”
Dad laughed again, and helped himself to some punch. I merely stood looking at him, with James still standing awkwardly by my side.
“Why are you back?”
“I wanted to see you and your mother,” he answered straightforwardly. “I saw the engagement in the paper and thought that I’d come along. Obviously, you’d both be here.”
Taken back by the simplicity of his response, I gaped silently at him for a few moments, before asking the question I had always wanted to know the answer to.
“Why did you leave?”
I felt James’ hand on my back and he shuffled closer to me. His warmth was comforting. He knew that this was something that I had wanted to know since I came to Hogwarts and met him. He was giving me moral support.
“Your mother didn’t tell you?”
“No,” I answered uncertainly.
“Well, then it is not my place to tell.” And with that, my father disappeared into the crowd now dispersing to the dance floor. I admired the way he talked to strangers, with ease and grace that I would never be able to achieve. Obviously, that was something I had not inherited. I saw him chat amicably with some of the richest men in the wizarding world.
James turned to watch him as well, and we stood side by side as people bustled around us.
“He’s up to something,” I said to him.
“How can you say that?”
“Because, according to my mother, I’m like him, and I have that exact same face on when I’m doing something sneaky.” It was a weak argument.
James stood on tiptoe to look at my father again.
“I’m not convinced.”
“Really? Christmas, fourth year? Ringing any bells?”
James nodded thoughtfully then turned to look at me. He placed his fingers under my chin and titled my face up towards his.
“Well, if he is just like you, then he must be very nice,” he said huskily. I pulled away from him (albeit reluctantly).
“Seriously, what is wrong with you today?” I asked sarcastically, smiling at him.
“What do you mean?”
“All this cheesiness, really James? I preferred it when you were declaring your undying love for my father.”
“That joke is getting a little too old now, don’t you think?” James said.
“True,” I said, admitting defeat, “maybe I focus all my energy on finding out what my father is doing here.”
“And while you’re doing that, I’m going to eat some cake.”
He pecked me quickly on the lips and went off to find some cake. I watched him leave before turning to look at my father, only to find that he had disappeared. I got sucked into the crowd that was on the dance floor, squeezing through seemingly hundreds of people. He was nowhere to be seen. I asked a rather grumpy looking Griselda where he had gone, but apparently she failed to acknowledge my presence as she danced, rather promiscuously, with a fair-haired kid. I continued my search over the dance floor, apologising profusely to some high-ranking Wizengamot guy who I knocked into. I avoided swirling robes and dresses and several waiters carrying flutes of champagne.
I saw a door open on the other side of the hall, and I darted over there, hiding behind an elaborate column. The edge of Dad’s cloak disappeared into the room before the door clicked shut. I was about to run over there to follow him, but my mother moved out of the crowd, her white gown rustling on the floor. She looked around before opening the door and following my father into the room.
I came out from behind the column and leant against it, trying to figure out why mother and her estranged ex-lover were running in secret... and at her own wedding.
“How’s my little spy, then?”
I turned around to find James standing behind, a large plate of cake in his hands and his mouth surrounded by a thick layer of icing.
“Sufficiently confused, thank you very much,” I answered.
“My dad just went in there,” I gestured at the door behind me, “with my mum!”
“Oh,” James looked thoroughly unsurprised as he shoved another piece of cake into his mouth. “Then why aren’t you eavesdropping?”
I was too fast for him and already had my ear shoved against the wood. I heard nothing, and was just about to turn the polished doorknob, when the door opened and Mum stood impressively in the doorway; strands of hair were falling from her complicated hairstyle. As she huffed, they lifted in front of her face. I stepped aside quickly as she strode out onto the dance floor, Dad fast on her heels. His was face red and a vein throbbing in his neck.
The dancing crowd parted, forming a perfect circle in the middle of the room as the two adults stopped. I could see Mum crying, and Dad started to pace. Neither of them seemed to care that their impending argument was going to be well and truly publicised.
Thomas pushed his way through the crowd, staring at his new wife and her ex-lover, shock written all over his face. James erupted through the hundreds of people on the other side, turning his head to search for me. I ran over to him.
“What the hell is going on?” He asked quietly.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
The hall went silent. Elderly Mrs Hudson-Radcliff was tottering around with her walking stick; the soft beats the only sounds in the echoey hall.
“Why did you come back?” Mum asked, her breath hysterical.
Dad looked around at all the surrounding guests, and leaned in close. He spoke quietly.
“Do you want to do this here? Right now?”
Mum nodded fervently, crossing here arms in front of her chest. I stepped in closer, wanting to know why my father had returned. But he just stood there, pinching the bridge of his nose. Thomas also walked forward, so it was just the four of us in the centre of the room. He looked thoroughly put out.
“Look at us all,” I said sarcastically. “A lovely little family reunion.”
“Amy, please don’t,” Dad said pleadingly, and I feigned mock sympathy.
“Adrian? Are you going to answer me?” Mum asked.
I turned to look at my dad, waiting for him to answer. I wanted to know too. I also wanted to know why he left in the first place.
Dad mumbled something incoherently, and the three of us leaned in to listen to him. He edged away from Thomas.
“I really don’t feel comfortable talking about this in front of him,” Dad said, gesturing at Mum’s new husband.
“Anything you’ve got to say you can say it in front of Tommy. Go ahead, Adrian. You did always like to speak your mind,” Mum said.
Dad shifted uncomfortably. The band struck up a tune and the crowd around us began moving again, but no of them dared to move towards the four of us. James was around somewhere.
“Do you still have feelings for my wife?” Tommy finally voiced what all of us were thinking.
“No!” Dad said disgustingly.
“Well thank you,” Mum answered sarcastically. She was insulted.
“Are you insulting my wife?”
“Are you insulting my mother?”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then how did you mean it? Or was that tone of revulsion in your voice merely accidental?”
“I was just shocked that you thought I would come back just to ruin your wedding,” Dad said.
“You ruined a lot more than that when you abandoned us eleven years ago,” I reasoned, and Dad turned to look at me, his eyes wide.
“What did I ruin?” He asked.
“Why did you leave?”
“Why did you come back?”
Dad suddenly reminded me of a gnome caught in wand light. You could tell his mind was overloaded with questions. The tiny clogs inside his brain were whirring and whirring and I could almost hear their miniscule sounds. He looked around nervously. The other guests had begun dancing around us. Apparently nobody cared about the possible love triangle between the bride, the groom and the bride’s ex-lover and father of her child.
James had returned, another plate of cake in his hands. I rolled my eyes at his ability to eat loads but not put on weight.
“Do you want money?” Thomas asked.
I saw Dad’s eyes light up and I hoped that it wasn’t the case. His robes were expensive, and he looked groomed and well fed. I didn’t want him to be some disgusting gold digger like my mother usually was. Or maybe that was just my family. I looked up at James. His family were very rich. Maybe I’m a gold digger too.
There was silence while we waited for Dad to answer.
“You’re not a gold digger are you?” I asked. The tension had become too much.
“Because that’s probably where Mum got the habit from,” I reasoned. Thomas raised an eyebrow at me.
“Not that Mum is...taking...digging...your gold, Tom - of course she’s not.”
My new stepfather continued to stare at me. Pocket money looked out of the question now.
“I might need a little extra cash, yes,” Dad said. I forgot about my pocket money and turned to look at him.
“Really? That’s why you’re here?” Mum asked.
Dad blushed. Mum laughed.
“Yeah.” Dad looked confused. I shared a bewildered look with James.
“Well we can deal with that,” she said, but she continued to stare daggers at him. Thomas visibly relaxed, glad that there were no awkward love triangles or hidden affairs. Part of me was happy too.
“Anything else, Adrian?” She said coolly.
Dad looked confused. It was probably the only facial expression he brought this evening.
“I don’t think so.”
Mum walked over and pulled me towards my father. Her grip on my arm was tight and painful.
“Mum, what are you...”
“Did you come back for your daughter?”
I felt my heart speed up. I had not seen my father in eleven years. I resented him for leaving us by ourselves, for allowing me not to have a father. I barely knew him, but suddenly I cared what he was going to say.
“What?” Dad laughed half-heartedly.
“Did you come back to visit your daughter? Did you come so you can ask her about her exams, or Quidditch?”
“Well, I talked to her when I arrived, but...” Dad said uncomfortably, and I froze.
“So you just came for the money?” Mum said, the bitterness evident in her voice.
“No! I mean, that was my main objective, however...”
He sounded businesslike and formal. I didn’t like it.
“Tell us the truth, Adrian,” Mum said, “you just came for the money. Not to see your daughter, not to ask how she was or how she was doing. Just for the money.”
Dad looked ashamed. He should be.
I knew it. Part of me always knew it.
James brushed past me as he stepped forward. I gripped onto his arm tightly. Dad, once again, looked as if the Knight Bus had just hit him.
“Why didn’t you come just to see your daughter?” James spoke slowly, as if he were talking to a five year old. Dad had now swapped his confused face for his scared face. James is talented. His dad destroyed Voldemort, you know. Mine’s just a gold digger.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with you, Potter,” Dad replied, looking at Mum for back up, but just receiving a stony glare.
“I think it does,” James said quietly. The classical waltz surrounding us now seemed a little too much.
“James, don’t,” I said. “It’s fine. Dad was just about to leave, wasn’t he?”
I looked towards my father, but he was braver now. James and him were at the same height, staring at each other.
“I think I’d like to stay,” Dad said forcefully, “I’d like to try a little bit of the cake.”
James raised the plate of cake in his hand and for one magical moment I thought he was going to smash it in his face like in Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle. Muggles must have lots of fun.
“Here, you can have mine.”
“James, Dad,” I said quickly before the pie throwing started, “please don’t do anything stupid. This is Mum’s wedding!”
James lowered the plate of cake and shoved into the hands of a chubby toddler waddling nearby.
“Fine. Have a nice evening, Florence. I hope you two had a wonderful day,” James said angrily before storming off the dance floor. He opened a door and disappeared into the rain.
My remaining family, old and new, stood silently by me as the other guests continued to dance. Mum put her arm gently around me.
“Go. I’ll take care of your dad.”
I ran off after my boyfriend. The green satin heels I was wearing did not make the job any easier. They pinched at my toes so I took them off near the front door and ran out onto the lawn in bare feet. The grass was damp, the rain pouring all around me and into my eyes. I finally saw James. He was leaning against the ornate garden balustrade, looking out into the beautiful Suffolk countryside.
I walked right up to him.
“Hello,” I said. He turned around, looked briefly at me for a second, and then returned to looking at the hills and the clouds.
The hills aren’t that interesting. Not if you don’t like sheep.
“Do you want to talk?”
So the silent treatment. That is brilliantly unhelpful.
“Listen, James, I don’t know exactly what I’ve done wrong, but...”
“It’s not you.”
“Okay,” I said uncertainly. He turned to look at me.
“My parents are famous. My parents are kind and loving and clever. I’ve never fully appreciated how much they do for me, or what it would be like if they were gone.”
I looked at him, struggling to see where this was going.
“Your mum is different. She’s fun and everything, but she’s not always there for you. Your dad has never been there for you. I’ve also never appreciated how difficult it must be for you.”
James seemed different. He was speaking maturely, and with a sensitivity that was overwhelming.
“I couldn’t understand why your dad wouldn’t want to see you.”
“Well, my dad is a bit of a...” I began, but James cut me off.
“I know you better than your own father knows you.”
“And that’s a bad thing? James, I can’t see where you are going with this.”
“You’re amazing. I don’t why your dad doesn’t want to know you.”
And in that moment, I felt like I would love James Potter forever.
There you go. The rewritten and long-awaited chapter ten. Hope you like it. Before you all go and leave beautifully long and adoring reviews (hint, hint), I just want to ask you all a couple of questions. I have planned out all the 'moments' of James and Amelie's relationship. There are going to be five more chapters - and maybe an epilogue if I feel like it - however I have one slot free. So here is the question: are there any particular moments you would like me to write about? They have to be between first year and seventh year as I want the story to be set during the years they are at Hogwarts.
That's the end of this novel length author's note. Thanks to long_live_luna_bellatrix who helped with the 'gnome in the wand light' thing. Thanks!