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Chapter 4: The one with the girlfriend troubles.
There were benefits to having a girlfriend but these were definitely not outweighed by having your eyes permanently blinded by the sheer vibrancy of your girlfriend’s yellow hair. She needed to go. I was blind enough already.
Only I’d never dumped anyone before and considering I hadn’t exactly asked her out – mostly because I hadn’t wanted to – and as Jan had done it for me (which apparently Jenny said was ‘sweet’ which was another reason why I had to get rid as quickly as possible. I was taller than James. I had muscles now. I was sixteen. I didn’t want to be ‘sweet’)... I wasn’t really sure how you did these things.
I really needed to ask Jan but she’d been conspicuous only in the lack of herself since our fabulous victory and the awkward victory party in which Jenny decided we were ‘dating’ and snogged me. It was quite a scaring experience actually. But I found that when kissing her I could close my eyes and not look at her ridiculous hair. Last time I’d talked to Jan I’d asked her about her relationship with Wood, and if James had been right... and then she’d disappeared and Rose said that she was mad at me for ignoring her. Which I wasn’t.
I could ask Rose, I supposed, but considering her hair was as red as Jenny’s was yellow I wasn’t sure if Rose would be sympathetic to my reasons as to why she must be dumped immediately. I’d almost asked James, but I wasn’t that desperate and it turned out he’d accidently helped me on that front by writing to mum.
I’d received the letter this morning at breakfast and I had made a point to knock James’s pumpkin juice down front (with magic, of course) after I’d read the first line.
James says that you have a girlfriend now. He also says that her hair is yellow although I am sure that’s just boy speak for blonde. Still, I always thought of you as more of a brunette type. Anyway, Al, just keep us updated – you don’t write to us enough. We want to be involved with your life. Your father too. We miss you.
I was now beginning to feel the benefits of James ratting out the details of our lives to our parents because now I could reply expressing my deep rooted hatred of my girlfriends hair and asking mum what that hell I should do. I needed to dump her without hurting her feelings. Mum would know. Dad would be useless. Mum though... she knew about this stuff. No doubt she’d been training Lily, which is why she had an unnatural amount of guys interested in her. Not that any would dare come too close. Like I said – I had muscles now...and James had always been scary (apparently).
Her hair is yellow mum, it’s awful. Honestly it’s physically painful to be in the same room with her for a long length of time – I’m almost certain it’s the radiation leaking through and I will probably slowly dye because of the reactivity of its yellowness. It looks like the sun is shining out of her head, and I don’t mean that in an endearing or cute manner at all. It’s strange. I think it reflects off my glasses so I get double the glare because no else has this issue. I’ve taken to squinting at her when we talk.
I’ve also started having nightmares about her hair coming alive and strangling me. It genuinely terrifies me. It’s the same colour as your washing up gloves. Marigold – that’s what it is. Except sometimes it looks slightly green, like snot. I can’t stand it. It makes me feel nauseous. I’m not even sure what the rest of her face looks like because I’m so distracted by the yellowness.
Then I heard a familiar laughter behind me and looked up to find that Jan was reading my letter over my shoulder and seemed to be dying of hysterical laughter, the likes of which I hadn’t heard since James jinxed my hair off. “You’ve just written a whole page about her hair!” She spluttered, pulling herself a seat out and throwing herself into the seat next to me. “A whole page!” She exclaimed and then she was laughing again.
“How do I dump her Jan!?!” I said desperately putting my hands to my head. I attempted pulling it out to show my frustration – but thanks to James I knew that bald didn’t suit me. Hey, no one can say he hasn’t helped me at some point during my long years of life. “I mean – how...”
And that’s when the bookshelf came flying towards my face.
Why the hell had I chosen to write the letter in the library, I don’t know, but... it was just where I always went to write letters. It seemed the natural place. At least until a bookcase started flying in your direction and you become convinced that you are going to die. My whole life flashed in front of my eyes – most of it involving incidents that James had manufactured and created just to piss me off, or Jan being mad at me for reasons I didn’t understand, or Jan being mad at James for reasons I totally understood.
The book shelf stopped tilting at a 45 degree but staying bizarrely stationary. Several books flicked open and on them were letters that appeared to have been tacked onto the middle pages...
Jan looked at me. I looked at her. “James.” We said, as the last book opened and spelled out the words I knew meant another misguided adventure.
“I don’t know why you’re dragging me into this,” Jan complained, her arm comfortably linked through mine. “He’ll probably just kick me out and say it’s private anyway.” I ignored that comment completely – although this probably wasn’t the best way to win Jan over after a whole month of the near-silence treatment. I reconsidered.
“I want you around,” I said eventually – hoping this would spark up happy-good feelings that wouldn’t make her disappear again. She smiled and seemed pretty chuffed by that comment, so I decided it had worked. I reached out and tickled the pear before stepping into the kitchens and...
It was like a Wesley family reunion. Rose waved us over with a disgruntled expression on her face. Freddie offered me the thumbs up from somewhere way over to my left... Hugo was there, sat with Lily... and Dom was there – which was something, because Dom never got involved in anything. Louis was sat with Molly. Lucy... Roxanne... and various other people, who seemed to have tagged along, like Jan.
“Don’t ask me what’s going on,” Rose complained. “Apparently he’s called upon the whole family this time.”
“You could just leave?” Jan suggested sliding into the seat next to her. Despite Rose and Jan being friends and roommates... about every month they both got extremely irritated at each other and both started bitching, whining and generally being unpleasant too each other. Then something would happen and they’d go back to their normal cheery selves... so I assumed it was just one of those weeks.
I gave up trying to understand the female race after that one argument (which apparently wasn’t an argument) when Jan had ended up yelling that it was ‘all Rose’s fault’ and then Rose had sworn at me and told me to keep my ‘oversized glasses-perch out of her business’ then they’d had a slight cat fight – including hair pulling, hexing and a broken nail. And James had arrived with popcorn.
Then I gave up trying to understand James.
“But... Well, it is intriguing, isn’t it?” Rose asked.
“Too right,” Freddie grinned, sitting on the table with his usual lopsided grin. He made a point of wrapping his arm around Jan – which she shrugged off – even though I was entirely sure that the awkward looking (pretty) blonde girl had arrived with him. “Ever since the Hogwarts Express incident he’s been as good as gold – creepy really. The other day I saw him coming out the library.”
“Bullocks,” Dom said, turning round and joining in our conversation. “James Potter? In the library? He must have been pulling something.”
“No,” Freddie shook his head. “That’s what I thought, so me and Chan,” he said nodding to the blonde girl who smiled and gave him a little wave – Freddie always managed to have some girl or other. He claimed it was a delicate mixture of being ‘famous but not too famous’ and having a decent sense of humour. Thus James had proved he had a sense of humour by permanently sticking a fake moustache (god knows where he got it) onto my glasses for a whole week. “Stayed in there for quite some time – nothing. Anyway, you should know Dom – your lot are the ones so interested in the library.”
She lifted up a middle finger in his direction. “This is Carl Dobbs, by the way,” she said gesturing towards the tall male that was sitting next to Dom staying unnaturally silent.
“You better look after my sister,” Louis said, wondering over and fixing him with his best glare. He had guts, you had to admit – her boyfriend was huge. He nodded slowly.
“Bit of a talker,” Freddie said in my ear. “I wonder how Dom gets a word in edge ways?” Which apparently Dobbs had heard, because he turned – just as slowly – to fix his gaze on Freddie. Still remaining completely silent. Creepy.
“Where’s your girlfriend Al?” Freddie grinned, nudging my shoulder with enough force that I half fell off the bench.
“Elsewhere,” I muttered darkly.
“Hey, look,” Lucy said, catching all our attention, “The entire Quidditch team are here!” Jan looked up at that, stood up and made a point of going over to her – gag – boyfriend, Wood. He snogged her a little too enthusiastically and had a minor case of the wondering hands. He was worse than James.
For some reason everyone’s gaze travelled from Jan’s awkward snog session to me, where I was keeping my lips tight shut so the stream of swearwords stayed safely inside. “What?” I demanded off Rose.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Rose said, glancing back at Jan and Wood. Unfortunately he hadn’t suffocated mid snog and was now approaching us and sitting down. Er...
“Anyone know what this is about?”
“I told you,” Jan snapped. “No one knows.”
Yes! Yes! Argue. Argue. Argue damn it.
“Albus?” Wood questioned. Obviously not listening to a word the poor girl had said. Probably too interested in sex and snogging. Insensitive prat.
“Nothing.” I said darkly.
“Thank you,” Jan said primly, sitting down next to me and resting her head on my shoulder. Wood’s eyes burned into my shoulder. Bloody hell. Jan was going to get me killed.
“Attention!” James yelled, dramatically appearing. He glanced at me, winked, and gave me the thumbs up. Wood practically exploded next to me. Forget Jan, James was definitely going to get me killed. Still, we’d all seen that coming. “Okay, so...” He walked forward sitting down on the front table and grimacing. “I really need you this time guys.” His lip started bleeding as he spoke. That was new. Actually...
He was looking more than a little worse the wear, with dark bags – or maybe a slight bruise – under his eyes. Detentions beginning to drain him? Except that couldn’t be it, he’d been his glowing, joking laughing self right up to...well, the last time I’d seen him.
“I’m going to have to explain from the beginning,” He said, glancing down and taking a deep breath. “You know erm... Evie Perks?” Ravenclaw in my year. Petite. Nice girl. We all stared at him blankly. “So... we’ve been, well, we’ve been dating since the summer.”
“It’s December.” Freddie said, slack-jawed. My face just fell off. Seriously.
I don’t think I’d ever even heard James says the word dating before, other than in a mocking cynical tone. I suppose he had been a little less annoying recently. I’d put it down to growing up. Apparently my hopes were to be dashed once more.
“And, then... well, yesterday I found her erm, in a broom cupboard with Malfoy.” We stared at him. Genuinely dumbfounded. “And you know they said if I did anything else wrong this year I’d be expelled?” He took a deep breath. “He’s gone and said that I broke his nose,”
“Did you?” Dom asked.
“Do you blame me?” James asked. “Apparently they’re a thing now,” I’d never seen James looked quite so defeated before. He slumped down on one of the tables looking thoroughly miserable.
“What do you want us to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” James muttered, “I don’t have much of a plan or anything... there were three witnesses. I’ve got nothing. I can’t go explain because... well, Evie’s going to deny we were ever a thing, I think.”
“We’re going to sort this,” I said standing up. “For once, I hate to say this, but... it isn’t your fault.”
“I love you man,” James said weakly. “Best brother ever.”
“Love you too, James,” I said clapping him on the back, “But... we’ve got some serious planning to do.”
“I can talk to Malfoy,” Rose said. Hugo and I sent her questioning glances. “Let’s just say I have some decent leverage.”
“Okay, I won’t ask,” I said standing up on one of the benches. “Is anyone good friends with Evie? If someone could talk to her...”
“I’m her roommate,” Freddie’s awkward blonde girlfriend said. “I could talk to her,” I nodded trying to search for someone else who could also go – I didn’t exactly trust her abilities. Dating Freddie Weasley and brains didn’t seem like a proper fit, if you asked me. Maybe I was judgemental. Maybe I’d learnt from experience.
“Your girlfriend,” Jan said pointedly.
“My...Oh, Jenny, right. Well, Jan if you could find her – explain things, I mean...” I shuddered. Her hair was just so yellow. “And if you could go too. That should be enough persuasion.”
“What about the rest of us?” Hugo asked eagerly.
“We deal with the witnesses.”
“So your leverage was...?”
“Her cleavage,” Jan laughed, and Rose laughed too – back to normal again, I supposed. Girls were so confusing. “And her charming wit and personality,”
“So you’re dating the bastard?” I asked her. Despite this being ‘all for James’ she seemed to be pretty damn smiley about the whole thing. Last I’d heard she’d hated Scorpius Malfoy with the passion of a thousand suns, or something of the sort. “He snogged James’s girlfriend? Do you have no dignity?!”
“He didn’t know. She was two timing both of them.”
“She’s not even that pretty,” Jan commented dryly, painting her nails a shiny black that looked very dramatic against her skin. Jan’s nails always looked dramatic. Or just very chipped.
“Oh right,” I snapped. “I forgot you had a crush on my brother.”
“I don’t have a crush on your brother!” She hissed. “I told you it was someone a bit like him, not him.”
“Wood?” Rose suggested.
“Wood?” We both questioned simultaneously.
“You know, your boyfriend.” Rose said with a superior eye roll. Rose had the superior thing down. Seriously, I didn’t know anyone who was quite so adept and making you feel inferior. Except perhaps Scorpius Malfoy. Match made in hell, if ever I saw one.
“Oh, right,” Jan said. “Ex-boyfriend. Again. Wondering hands,” She added by way of an explanation. “But I suppose he is a bit like James,”
“Wood is a prat.”
“So was this other bloke a prat?”
“Completely.” Jan laughed.
“Point is, how did you break up with him? I swear, it’s impossible to do!”
“You’re breaking up with Jenny?” Rose questioned with an arched eyebrow. I nodded. “You can’t break up with her today considering she managed to convince Evie not to be a complete bitch.”
“But you’d already sorted it with the agreeing to date Malfoy, business.”
“She’s lost Evie as a friend because of it,”
“Anyway, Jan helped with that, and... by that point six other people had already claimed to have been the one to break his nose and Dom had seduced two of the witnesses into silence, her boyfriend having threatened the other one into silence. Sure, she was part of the effort but...”
“You can’t.” Rose countered. “Don’t be a bastard, Al.”
“Then again,” Jan said looking up from her nails with a wry smile. “Her hair is a ridiculous colour.” And I remembered just why I loved Janet Harper.
“That’s why you’re dumping her?” I stayed silence. “You’re such a guy. Stop objectifying women.”
“Oh go snog Malfoy,” I said feeling disgruntled and slightly ashamed as I stared at the floor. She took a deep breath and turned an interesting shade of purple before picking up her books and shoving them into her bag. “I didn’t mean that!” I yelled at her retreating back. “No snogging before your thirty!” but she didn’t reply. She must have been out of hearing range or something.
“Women!” I exclaimed in exasperation.
“I hope I’m not included in that,” Jan said primly.
“Course not, you’re not a woman.” Jan raised an eyebrow at that. “I mean... you’re beyond womaness. There’s all the good bits like erm... being able to talk about feelings and being nice-”
“- and looking fabulous?” She suggested.
“And looking fabulous.” I confirmed. “And then you don’t fly off the handle and say confusing things, or dye your hair stupid colours and go on about how ugly you are when you know you’re pretty. And you actually eat and don’t cry all the time.”
“You’re such a twelve year old,” Jan laughed, finishing her last nail with a flourish. “But thanks, anyway,”
“Just don’t start bloody ignoring me again or I’ll take it back,”
“Yeah... sorry, I just... I was letting this thing get in the way of our friendship but, I’ve sorted it now – it’s fine. This is more important.”
I nodded, grinning at her for a moment. “Oh, Jan,” I complained. “How do I dump her?”
“I can help you out there,” James said sandwiching himself between us awkwardly. He looked cheerful again although his lip was still somewhat swollen. “I owe you one,” I stared at him. “Well, you organised that whole mission, Al, and let’s face it – it was epic. You had all bases cover. There was no way the man was bringing me down! So... I’ll help you with your romance troubles. I sure as hell know they can be a bitch.”
“Are you all right?” I asked worriedly.
“Sure,” James said. “Just remind me not to date, ever.”
“That’s stupid,” Jan commented.
“It’s perfectly sensible, dating nearly ruined my education and my life. Won’t let that happen again.”
“That’s impossibly sad.”
“Why, were you interested Jan?” James winked at her. “Now we’re both back on the market – it won’t last long.” She swore at him and called him something her mother wouldn’t like. I grinned at that. “Well... your loss.”
“So you’re giving up girls?” I asked disbelievingly.
“Oh, hell no. I’m giving up seriously dating girls.” James countered. “I have a new rule. Only date girls that you would cheat on, then you won’t care if they cheat on you.”
“It’s a good job Rose isn’t here.” I said darkly. Objectifying woman much.
“I still think that’s sad, come on James – this was your first proper girlfriend. You can’t give up on love forever.”
James ignored that. “So, dumping Jen, are you sure?” I nodded. “I mean, she has big...” he gestured. “I hear you’ve had firsthand experience too?” He winked again. Jan cringed at my side. “What if you sorted your hair issue?”
“No, she’s got to go James. Just. Sort it out for me, please. Will you.”
“If you’re sure?” James asked.
“I’m sure,” I said, just as Jan pointed in the direction of the doorway with a look of semi-amazement on her features.
“Because I may have told her that I thought dark brown might suit her better...” James said grinning as he took in Jen’s new hair. Dark brown it was. Sexy it definitely was. She’d just become ten times more attractive... and well, really, when I thought about it. Jenny was nice. She was funny. She was a good kisser. There were definite benefits to having a girlfriend... and she looked so...
“You know, James, its fine -” I began just as he stood up and walked over to her. “No!” I protested. Again, he must have been out of hearing range. “Abort James! Abort!” I hissed. Ignored. Do I have one of those voices that no one can hear?
Jan sent a disgusted look in my direction.
I could definitely hear James’s voice. “My brother, he just... to tell you the truth. He can be a bit of a prat on occasions.”
“Oh god, stop it.” I muttered into the desk.
“And... he absolutely hated your hair.”
I swore into the wood of the desk. This was so unfair. Never. Letting. James. Help. Me. Again.
“He said he used to have nightmares about it actually. He’s been telling everyone he wants to dump you for about a month.”
“Make it stop Jan,” I said, pealing my face of the desk and sending her a longing look. She shook her head and smirked.
“Some of the stuff was really mean, actually. He even said...” then he whispered something into to Jenny’s ear that I couldn’t hear. Jenny looked outraged. “Anyway, I’m so thankful for you helping me out today, and... you know I’m the older and more mature brother. I was wondering if you wanted to come have a drink in the kitchens with me? Forget about Al. He’d never even kissed a girl before you,”
“That’s not true!” I complained, seriously considering banging my head against the desk and crying. Everyone in the common room was watching the scene, of course.
“He couldn’t even dump you himself, you don’t want him! Now, what do you think Jenny? You up for a butterbeer with the Quidditch Captain?”
“One second,” Jenny said and that flirtatious voice I’d become accustomed to hearing. Then she stepped forward, rounding on me with her sexy dark hair falling around her face. “They are not fake!” She exclaimed before slapping me round the face. It stung. A lot actually. I stared at her in shock. Jan, beside me, was silently laughing.
“Screw you Albus Potter!” She added before turning back around, swaggering – her underappreciated (by me, anyway) hips swinging hypnotically as she allowed James to wrap an arm around her waist. His hand casually moving down to her arse – a move I’d never have tried to pull. He turned around and grinned, mouthing ‘you can thank my later’ with yet another wink.
Jan had tears streaming down her face from laughter and seemed to be in the midst of some sort of fit.
I looked back to James, walking out with my now ex-girlfriend. Help me my arse.
A/N - NEXT TIME: Two more 'I love you's, more of James being James, more of Al being oblivious and irritable, more of Jan's nails and... a tattoo. Excited?
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