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Chapter 7: The one with the valentine’s day.
“Urgh, I hate being nervous,” Jan said, staring at her nails with an agitated expression. “It’s the worst feeling.” She started biting her nails, crossing her legs on my bed and looking as nervous as she proclaimed to be.
“Don’t think about it,” I said as my lame attempt at helping her. “just think that...”
“It’s the second Valentine’s day in a row that I’ve spent with you?” Jan suggested with a slight eyebrow raise.
“Well... who would you rather spend your Valentine’s day with?” I asked, allowing myself to slump down on my bed next to her. Jan leant back too, turning to look at me with her face scrunched up into a mess of anguish.
“Would you like a list?” Jan asked sweetly, the first trace of a smile on her face.
“No thanks,” I returned. “It wasn’t so bad, was it?” I said after a few seconds of silence. “We had a nice meal,”
“And I brought you a drink,” Jan added.
“I’ll be seventeen soon, okay,” Jan laughed, bringing a hand up to her hair in the way she often did when she was self-conscious.
“I had a lovely time, Al,” Jan said, “The meal was nice, the walk was nice, there was none of those horrible awkward pauses but still... it wasn’t a real date.”
“It could almost have been a date.” I said, looking back up at the ceiling and thinking about it for a long moment. It had felt like a date when I was there – probably because of all the stupid hearts that were scattered around, the pink straws, and the ‘valentine’s day menu’ (or, in other words, the same dish with ‘cupid’ or some goddess of love in the title, sold at double the price) – but partially because Jan had looked so pretty in that strange top thing that it was perfectly conceivable that I could be on a date with her. Just a date that was astronomically better and less bloody dull than one I’d ever been on, because it was Jan and I didn’t run out of things to say mid ‘lasagne du love’ or half way through the desert of ‘amour ice cream’ or whatever.
“Almost a date?” Jan asked with a raised eyebrow and a strange note in her voice that I decided not to worry my little head about. Jan was much too complicated for me to understand.... I mean – despite complaining that she didn’t have an actual date for Valentine’s Day, she had (thankfully) rejected several offers and decided that I was better company than Clive Peterson, Freddie (stupid bastard – Jan maintains that he was joking but given that her top was a little on the low side the day he asked her, I very much doubted it) and some Hufflepuff joke in the year below.
“You know what I mean,” I shrugged.
“I don’t,” Jan countered, “Shame James fucked it up,” She sighed closing eyes for a brief second as if to gain strength. “That has to be one of the most stupid things he’s ever done.”
“Does it?” I asked vaguely, “There’s so many I’ve lost count,” Jan rested her head on my shoulder a little and I closed my eyes blissfully. There was no one in the world I’d rather be spending time with than Janet Harper, my best friend. I have more complimentary words for Janet Harper than my brother has in his vocabulary.
“He was bored,” Jan said, “due to the boycott – I heard him planning it after Quidditch practice.” At the word ‘Quidditch’ she grimaced dramatically and her face fell a little. Damn James for getting Jan so worked up about the match.
Damn Teagan Reaves for the ridiculous boycott. Due to the bra incident (which we don’t talk about) James told everyone in the world that he slept with her (twice). Therefore she had decided it would be appropriate to get every single female in Hogwarts to agree to a ‘boycott’ which meant that James wasn’t getting any and was therefore even more bloody annoying than usual. At first, it had been funny; I’d laughed myself into a teary stupor, actually, with Jan and Freddie providing the backup vocals for our symphony of hysterics. Then a whole month had gone past... then it had been two... then the Christmas holidays slipped past and James still hadn’t even been flirted with since September. This was six months. A very very long six months.
“What?” I asked. “You could have warned me.”
“I only heard half of it,” Jan said. “Anyway, I didn’t want to stress you out. If you knew James had a love potion you’d never have managed to enjoy our almost date.” The way she said ‘almost date’ was either mocking me or something else. I didn’t say anything, pondering over her words. She was right, though. Jan normally was. “All I heard was a conversation between him and Wood when he said, I quote ‘I’m going to dose Freddie up then he’ll be all loved up on Reaves, and it will be the funniest freaking thing’ then Wood – ‘what the bloody hell are you on about, Potter’ queue James ‘I’ve got a love potion and one of Teagan Reaves’s hairs’ and then... Wood ‘One from her head?’ queue raucous laughter. Sadly, it probably wasn’t one from her head – stupid bastard.”
“So Freddie was supposed to fall in love with Teagan?”
“Right,” Jan said. “I guess James figured she’d extend the boycott to Freddie too, and then he’d stop shoving boobs in his face whenever he got the chance. Alas, James – the absolute douche – managed to get some of his own hair in the potion.”
“Thus resulting in Freddie falling in love with Teagan Reaves and James simultaneously,” I finished.
“And James bursting in on our almost date dressed as a woman.”
“Why was he dressed as a woman?” I asked lightly, playing back over the scene in my head. It brought a genuine smile to my face. Although, at the time the prominent feeling had definitely been shock – and a lot of it. Jan and I had both been silence for a long moment. Actually, most of the restaurant, packed with couples for Valentine’s Day, was deadly silent for a long moment. Before James had collapsed onto the floor yelling ‘help me’ in a strange high pitch voice which I assumed was him trying to stay ‘in character’
“Ah.” I said, grinning at the ceiling. “It was the lipstick that got me,”
“No,” Jan countered, “it was definitely the bra.”
“Maybe,” I said, “Still, it was pretty funny – having him hide behind us in the three broom sticks for thirty minutes.”
“Annoying,” Jan countered, “he kept butting in every time you tried to talk,”
“Still,” I said stretching back my arms on my bed and staring at the ceiling. “Then Teagan ran in, Freddie too and then you -”
“I don’t regret it,” Jan grinned, turning to me triumphantly. “Not for a second. I’m glad I told Freddie where he was. Perfect payback.”
“The snog was revolting though.” I shuddered.
“Oh I don’t know, how long has Reaves been running the boycott? Six months? He’s gagging for it. He probably enjoyed it. Freddie definitely enjoyed it.”
“He won’t enjoy it when he comes round tomorrow,”
“Can’t believe James knocked him out,”
“I can.” I said,“I can’t believe love-drunk-Freddie managed to get a snog in before James punched him. Wish I’d got a picture.” Jan, beside me, grinned – her eyes lighting up. “You didn’t?” I asked in wonder. Imagine what I could do with that picture? Imagine the number of times James could come to me, and I could say ‘No James, and I have a photo of you dressed as a woman and being snogged by your male cousin which I could easily send to witch weekly.’ What a wonderful prospect...
“Well, I knew there was going to be a love potion on the loose. Of course I brought a camera.”
“I adore you Janet Harper,” I declared, rolling onto my side and staring at her in awe. She was beautiful, amazing, wondrous – could there be a more fabulous person? I very much doubted it. My chest glowed with love for her, my best friend, who achieved such beautiful blackmail material. I was free!
“Always the charmer, Al,” Jan replied – turning to face me with a slightly flushed smile. “Just don’t go trying to seduce me now,”
“Well, we’ve practically already been on a date,”
“On valentine’s day.”
“Twice. So, really... We just need to snog regularly and then we’re a real couple.” Jan’s face fell back into her previous unsure expression. “Worried about Quidditch?” I asked quietly.
“Oh right, yeah,” Jan said. “It’s just James says we have to win this year. And I was abysmal last time.”
“You weren’t,” I said. She was. I vividly remembered sitting in the stands with Samantha Harrison (who insisted on grabbing my hand at spontaneous intervals and jabbering on about how she didn’t understand Quidditch – I should have listen to James when he told me not to take her to Quidditch match. In my defence I didn’t realise she thought it was a date) wincing as Jan continually dropped the Quaffle and looked steadily closer to tears. They’d won – just, but James had been in such a bad mood, declared that it was my fault then drunkenly attempted to push me down the stairs.
Lily had written home about it. So James had turned my cereal into a bowl full of spiders drowning in milk. I’d almost eaten one. Then screamed and accidently upturned the whole bowl into Jan’s lap. It hadn’t ended well for anyone (especially when Jan, in retaliation, had stuck my hands to my armpits for two hours – it was difficult to explain to Professor Whazit and I ended up with a detention for accidently running my potion by a rather erratic attempt to unstick my hands).
She raised an eyebrow at that.
“Everyone’s allowed to have an off game.” I said reasonably.
“Right.” She still looked worried.
“Don’t think about it,”
“That’s easy for you to say,” She said snappily. “And if you’re not going to help then -” Sensing the danger of oncoming tears – which always made an appearance when Jan was nervous and started being moody – I sat up quickly, grabbed one of my pillows and hit her around the head with it.
Jan was silent for a second. She sat up, grabbed my other pillow, and got me round the stomach. She raised a challenging eyebrow. I narrowed my eyes. Then she hit me round the face... and then we were in the middle of an epic war of the minds, pillows for weapons and only one aim – to kill or be killed.
I took a serious blow to the head, and Jan took one to the stomach. I grabbed her pillow as she went for the top of my head. She pulled it. I pulled it. Then it was a pillow-tug-of-war in the name of honour and prestige for the rest of time.
“Mine,” I said. She had the advantage. She was pulling downwards.
“Sod off,” Jan said, sitting back down to make the use of her current height advantage. I got on my knees, roughly using all my reserve-beater strength to get the pillow to the edge of her finger tips. Then I stopped pulling, expecting Jan to fall back onto the bed and look silly, but... instead she was pulling hard enough that I came tumbling forward and forward and... on top of Jan.
And somehow our lips were awkwardly pressed together. Like an almost kiss.
And Jan’s lips were very soft and I almost wanted to kiss her.
I stared at her from my position on top of her, scared to move in case I did something stupid or inappropriate, and I was on top of Jan – so she could hardly bloody well move. The moment was becoming steadily more and more awkward and then... Jan – who had the pillow in her left hand – took her opportunity to hit me with it. On the arse.
Still, it was enough to make me snap to my senses and roll off her.
“You’re more hench than I thought,” Jan said, rubbing her ribs looking disgruntled “If I can’t play tomorrow it’ll be your fault again.”
“Bollocks it will,” I said, sitting up and throwing my pillow at her. “Anyway, you’ll be great. You always are.”
“Apart from last time,” Jan pointed out.
“Okay,” I said, “Apart from last time.”
“Hey, you’re not supposed to agree you lousy excuse for a best mate.” She threw the pillows back at me. She was smiling though – albeit in a slightly strained way. Damn Quidditch nerves.
“I distracted you for a little bit at least,”
“Distractions tend to fail when you remind the person that you’re distracting them.”
“Oh well, you looked bothered by something – so I assumed it was just Quidditch.”
“You assume too much,” Jan said.
“So Quidditch isn’t bothering you,”
“No,” Jan said. “I’m not James you know, I do think about other things. And I do actually have feelings you know.”
“Wait, I know you have –”
“I mean I am a girl, I don’t know if you’ve forgotten or –“
“I could hardly forget you’re a girl, could I?” I muttered.
“And what does that mean.”
It meant that she was super-mega -foxy-awesome-hot with stupidly long beautiful legs that were so very distracting. And very nice arms, actually, that ended up all freckly and cute in the summer. Especially her shoulders. “That I can hardly miss your PMSing,” I said out loud. Bad choice. She looked mad.
“Thanks Al,” She said standing up and folding her arms over her chest. “Thanks a lot; it’s so nice to have such a complimentary friend.”
“You want me to compliment you?” That would be easy enough. It wasn’t like I’d run out of compliments any time soon.
“Not now I don’t!” Jan said heatedly. “But it would be nice sometimes if you acknowledge the fact that I’m not one of your male mates.”
“- well I certainly don’t have pillow fights with them.”
“ – or just show me some bloody respect.”
“Don’t bloody flirt with me!” Jan yelled loudly. “If you’re just going to...” She trailed off. “I’m not... I’m a person.”
“I don’t flirt with you,” I said slowly, “And I know you’re a person.”
“What do you call all this ‘almost date’ business then,” Jan said heatedly. I stared at her blankly. “Just don’t flirt with me if you don’t mean it,”
“How do you mean flirting? I don’t -”
“You’re missing the point.”
“You’re not saying any point.”
“You’re not listening to my point.”
“Well explain properly!” I said feeling frustrated and confused and angry all at the same time. What was she on about? Why was she mad at me all of a sudden? “I don’t get what the problem is.” I said, forcing my voice to remain steady and normal even though I wanted to get mad and yell a little bit.
“Oblivious,” Jan said disdainfully before grabbing her bag off the floor and walking out of the dorm, leaving me utterly dumbstruck and very very confused.
“What’s wrong, little bro?” James asked, not looking up from his game of chess, as I slumped down on the sofa next to him forty minutes later. Those forty minutes were well spent by me trying, and failing, to work out a feasible solution and coming up with nothing.
“Jan,” I muttered. Glancing over at the concentrating faces of James and Hugo. Hugo appeared to be winning. It was the only thing Hugo ever could win at. It was his chess board – I recognised it all too well – so James really didn’t have a chance. “I think it must be the wrong time of the month,”
“Oh yeah,” James said – his gaze still fixed on the board – “It is. I heard her talking about it with Madison after Quidditch practice. Something about brooms and sanitary towel’s not mixing. I told them they should trying being a man. Jan then told me I should try being a man. Ha!” James said triumphantly as he took one of Hugo’s bishops.
“You still have lipstick on.” I pointed out after a few seconds of watching the progress of the game of chess. I reckoned in about a minute Hugo would have check-mated him.
“It makes me lips look red and kissable.” James returned, lightening fast. “What was the argument about?” He asked before I had a chance to add ‘Freddie thought so.’
“Something about accidental flirting, some point that I didn’t understand about not meaning said flirting, something about Quidditch and her being a girl, as if I hadn’t noticed, and her having feelings not related to Quidditch because she wasn’t you. And about bloody Valentine’s day,”
“Bloody hell Al,” James said, banging a fist on the chess board and glaring at me. “Why can’t you organise your pathetic life around Quidditch? If Jan fucks up tomorrow then I swear...”
“Not my fault,” I said defensively. “If the bloody woman would tell me what she meant.”
“She was probably trying,” James said, angrily turning back to the chess board and swearing loudly. “Why do I always lose?” He asked. “Fucking check mate.” He muttered darkly. “All right Hugo, piss off and gloat elsewhere. I need to have words with this douche bag.”
“Have words, what am I? Four?”
“Sometimes I wonder,” James said. “Look Al, I don’t ask for much.” I snorted at that. Don’t ask for much my arse. “But if you could stop upsetting my players before my Quidditch matches that would be great.”
“I didn’t do anything last time!” I said defensively. “Why is everyone getting at me?”
“Because you’re an oblivious little git.” James said simply. “And yes you did upset Jan; yes it was your fault she dropped the Quaffle fourteen times and no I shouldn’t have pushed you down the stairs.” That was almost an apology. Closest I was going to get, for sure. “You want it spelt out for you? Samantha Harrison was why we nearly lost that Quidditch match. That clear enough?” James asked, before standing up and disappearing up the stairs. Leaving me well and truly flummoxed.
“ALLBOOBS!” James yelled, pushing through the crowd and drunkenly throwing an arm around my neck. “I’d like to thank my brother,” James said, dragging me up on top of the table with him and grinning round at the crowd of Gryffindors and Ravencalws. Probably some Slytherins somewhere around. “For supporting me, and for helping me achieve this... WONDERFUL result.”
“You haven’t won the season yet mate!” Someone yelled, throwing a bottle top at James’s direction. He ducked. It hit me in the face. Great.
“But we beat your Hufflepuff arses by three hundred points!” He yelled before adding a couple of profanities for good measure. I struggled to get out of his vice like grip and back onto the safety of the floor, but he kept hold of my wrist and threw our arms up into the air. Like I’d done something towards the victory.
“Get off my you bloody git,” I said, wrenching my wrist of his grasp – sending both of us toppling off the table. James on top of me. Bloody ouch.
“Al?” Jan questioned, appearing out of nowhere in a black dress that made her look like she’d just stepped off one of those silly fashion magazines, except better than that because she had that little scar on her nose from the time she’d fallen over and nearly broken her nose on her cauldron, and a slight bruise that must have come from Quidditch (because it hadn’t been there yesterday) and the most damn beautiful smile.
She kicked the drunken James off me and pulled me up to my feet. “Congratulations,” I said my voice sounding fake and much to load in my throat. I think James had broken my chest by landing on me because it felt a bit funny.
“Thanks,” Jan smiled even wider, and threw her arms around my neck and hugged me. She’d been drinking already too – her breath smelt slightly different. Jan didn’t let go for quite some time. James had definitely done some funky shit to my chest.
“How is James pissed already?” I asked when she finally released me. “The party only started ten minutes ago.”
“We’ve been drinking since the game finished,” Jan said, grabbing my hand and pulling me over to the drinks table. She wobbled a little. Drunk-Jan was too cute. I smiled at the back of her head.
She poured me a lethal looking mixture of several different things I couldn’t even name – probably donated by James – before handing it to me with a satisfied smile. “I need to talk to you,” Jan said. “I mean, we need to talk.” I nodded. It was true. We did. “Drink this first,” Jan said, “I need to talk to James but... when your drunk – come find me. It’s really important.”
“I’ll get right on it,” I said, taking a gulp. I tasted a little like celery. It was drinkable. I took another sip.
“Just, Jan – don’t drink anything else, yeah?”
“But Al, what if I get dehydrated?” Then she winked and turned around dramatically. She wondered over to James in her heals in a roundabout way – occasionally veering slightly to the left, and then the right – before managing to right herself. James and Jan had a semi-serious looking conversation, in which they both glanced over at me a few times, before James started heading over in my direction. It was all very curious.
I took a long gulp of what I decided to call celery-juice and watched as James approached through the crowd. “Drink up mate,” James said, clapping me on the shoulder. He suddenly seemed a lot less drunk. Which was interesting. He was still pretty sloppy though. “In fact, I have an idea – shots!”
“No thanks,” I said. Goodness knows what they were up too, but... shots? This early on in the night?
“You’re such a girl,” James said. “Hey, remember that time when you broken into the Slytherin’s dorms to perv on girls bras?”
“Fine,” I said, “shots it is.” James grinned, pouring me three shots of clear liquid that was quite clearly not water. I didn’t really like shots. One time I’d chocked and Jan had been hysterical with laughter for close to twenty minutes. I never really got over the shame. I took a deep breath before knocking it back this time, grimacing as the taste hit the back of my throat.
“One more,” James said. I sent him a look, and took that one too. It was a lot more tasteless that the first. “Last one...” James said pushing it in my direction.
“No,” I said firmly, picking up my glass of celery-juice-stuff and wondering over to talk to the guys in my dorms, my other friends, mostly to get away from James’s weirdness and Jan’s strangeness. I did need to talk to Jan. If James had been insinuating what I thought he was insinuating then I very much needed to talk to Jan straight away. Why she wanted me drunk before we talked, I didn’t know, but at this point her wish was my command. Whatever. I’d do whatever she wanted me too. Always would. “Albus mate,” Rory grinned, “You look like your pretty shit-faced already.”
“That’s absolute bullshit.” I told him, as straight as I could, but as I did I noticed the ‘s’ sound felt awkward and strange on my tongue... and... I was slurring already. What was in this celery-juice stuff? He laughed at my face. I laughed with him. It was preeeetty funny.
One of the great things about Jan was the way she always swore when she was drunk. She wasn’t exactly prim and proper with her language most of the time, but when she was drunk she ended up effing and blinding more than anyone. Every other word started with f. Then, whilst all these words were flying out her mouth in a rush of swearwords and curses, she’d start attempting to be very philosophical and meaningful. Once I’d found her sat in a corner pretending to smoke a pipe and telling a very confused forth year about the flaws in our consumer society.
I couldn’t wait to talk to her, actually, but I wasn’t really sure where she was at the minute. Anyway, she’d given me strict instructions to find her when I was drunk. And was I drunk yet? Not yet. I was getting there.
I took another drink of my celery-juice-stuff which now seemed to taste nice and was much easier to drink. So I drank a bit more of it. Where was Jan? I missed her. I wanted to talk to her. I needed to talk to her because... if what James had said was true then... well, I had lots of stuff to say. About how fucking hot she looked and how fancying your best friend for years and years was confusing because it feels normal and at the same time feels strange and weird and different. And how I just thought that I might just fancy her because she’s so bloody beautiful and how...
Fuck, I was drunk.
Jan time. I glanced around, seeking her out in the crowd and... Where was she?
“Hi Albus,” Not Jan. Hufflepuff. Why was a Hufflepuff here anyway? They bloody freaking lost. Maybe she was bloody freaking lost too. Haha.
“Hey,” I said. One of the Bone’s twins. Which one? I glanced downwards slightly in the general direction of the chest. Becky. Definitely Becky. “How are you Becky?”
“Sad that we lost, I guess,” She said. Didn’t sound all that sad, actually. Sounded pretty cheerful. Where was Jan? “I’m glad that you won though,” Made no bloody sense. I wasn’t even on the team. “I like you Al,”
Sod. Bloody alcohol giving people confidence to do things like that, say things like that, and then she looked at me with her very blue eyes and smiled. Hand on my arm, now, smiling at me like a scary smile-fiend.
“Thanks,” I said awkwardly. I didn’t really have an opinion of Becky Bones. She was hot, I supposed.
“It’s hot in here,”
“Yes, it is rather.” I agreed, suddenly feeling stifling hot in my shirt. I pulled at the collar awkwardly. Where the hell was Jan?
“Do you want to go outside?” Becky asked, finger running up my arm. Merlin.
“No, no,” I said, “I need to talk to Jan, you know – Janet Harper. She wants to talk to me. My best friend.”
“Well, where is she?” Becky asked, crooking up an eyebrow. She had a good point, the woman did, where was Janet? Jan. Jan... my Jan. Where was that wonderful woman? “Outside?” Becky said, grabbing my arm and pulling me to the doorway before I had much chance to protest. I’d finished my drink at some point. My glass was empty. What was Becky trying to pull? Wasn’t she listening? I needed to talk to Jan.
Then she pushed open the portrait. “Becky,” I said. “I really need to –”
Oh. There was Jan. Leaning against the wall and talking to Rose – a serious looking girly chat. The intense kind where everyone stares at you like your some kind of different species if you walk into one, because they’ve been talking about girl stuff for so long they’d forgotten a second gender existed. They both stopped mid word and stared at me, exactly as I thought they would, as if I was some very strange other creature who they spoke a slightly different language and whom they couldn’t understand easily. They also looked increasingly angry. Interesting. “I was looking for you,” I told Jan. She stood up, suddenly looking really really pissed off all over again. Why was she always angry? It seemed like she spent her life angry at me. I wanted to make her happy, not angry.
Rose looked mad too. Nothing new. Didn’t care about bloody Rose.
“Looks like it,” Jan said, folding her arms before walking straight back into the common room. Rose followed her, making a point of sending me daggers.
“Jan!” I yelled after her hopelessly. Sod.
Becky giggled. She was so repulsive with her sickly girliness. Who cared if she was hot? Then she kissed me, forcing her strawberry lips on me.
“Look,” I said, “I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick,” I continued, “I really need to talk to Jan.”
Becky flicked her stupid hair and pouted her stupidly shinny lips. “She didn’t look like she wanted to talk to you.” That was true. My head hurt. I was too drunk for this.
“Stop it,” I muttered, pushing her off me, “need to talk to Jan.” I turned to the portrait. “Wolfsbane,” I told the fat lady. She shook her head. Bullocks. “Look, do you know the password?”
“Why would I know the password?” Becky giggled obnoxiously, “I’m a Hufflepuff.”
“Rose, where’s Jan?” I asked, pushing through the crowd and walking over to her. She was talking to Scorpius. Didn’t they break up? I mean, Jan had said it would be temporary but... seriously, they’d only had that argument yesterday and Lily hadn’t even had a chance to sink her red-painted-talons in yet. Apparently it was an important getting back-together type conversation, because both of them turned and stared at me incredulously. Why did people keep staring at me like that? Did I have something obscene stuck on my head? (Actually, let’s not rule that one out – when was the last time James was near me?)
“I don’t know,” Rose said, turning back to Scorpius and blocking me out of the conversation completely. I sighed irritably and tried to find James, maybe he knew where she’d gone?
And who the bloody hell was Lily snogging? Shit. James couldn’t be here then, or that bloke would have been pushed in the fire by now. I should probably hex the bastard. I would do. I needed to find Jan first. That was more important.
“Rich,” I said, pushing my way towards my dorm mates. “Have you seen Jan?”
“Have you seen Rory?” Richard grinned. “He’s totally shit faced!”
“Rich,” I said. “Jan.”
“I saw her,” Dave said, looking very sober – as Dave always did – and ignoring Rich completely. “Going up the boy’s stairs.”
“Seventh year.” Dave said, clapping me on the shoulder (why did everyone do that?) before turning away and calmly sipping his beer. Jan was in the seventh year boy dorms? Why?
“Was she alone?” I asked, pulling on Dave’s arm in a way I knew would be very annoying.
“No, but I didn’t see who it was. Sorry.”
Everything was going so wrong. I looked around in irritation. If James was here I could ask him which one of his ridiculous mates was no doubt taking advantage of my drunken best mate. “Molly,” I said, spotting her in the crowd and pushing my way towards her. “Have you seen Jan?” She shook her head. “James?”
“Useless,” I muttered, pushing past her and making a point of sending a tripping jink and Lily’s snog partner. She better not have been drinking. I told her that, yelling at her actually, and then she pushed me and told me to sod off before resuming her snogging. I didn’t have the heart to hex him again.
Sod this, I thought, staring round at the stupid party feeling disgruntled and fed up. All I wanted to do was talk to Jan. Was that too much to ask? Now she was gone. Probably didn’t even care where I was too busy enjoying herself with some selfish bastard (who was going to be castrated tomorrow morning). I climbed up the stairs, considered bursting into the seventh year dormitory and making a scene but decided that Jan really would be angry at me then, and slumped into my own dorm. I collapsed onto my bed and stared at the ceiling.
I wanted to cry.
James was wrong then, I decided – pulling the duvet above my head and suddenly feeling exceedingly morose and drunk (thanks Jan, thanks James) – James was very much wrong this time. I’d never wanted James to be right before. It was a strange, harrowing feeling that made me feel shockingly lonely.
Anyway, Jan had fancied me – a year ago. She’d said it herself; ‘we were too good friends’ and she’d gotten over it. And it didn’t matter if I thought she was hot, and that she was...you know, Jan – with her nail varnish and her snarkiness, and her hatred of my brother and her bleeding perfectness. None of that made a slightest bit of sodding difference because I was too late all due to the fact that, like Jan said, I was freaking oblivious.
I decided I liked oblivion, on the whole, because at least in my wonderful state of oblivion things weren’t so freaking complicated and I didn’t have to lie here, still pretty damn drunk (thanks Jan, thanks James), weighing up the ethics of fancying your best mate. I mean, was it even fair on her? Did I just fancy her because she was so hot, or did I fancy her because she was Jan and because Jan was my best friend and brilliant and wonderful and lovely. One was acceptable but scary, and the other one made a first class idiot but was easier to deal with.
It was all academic anyway: Jan was off somewhere doing god knows what (well, I could probably guess if I wanted to but vomit wasn't a route I really wanted to take) with some stupid seventh year who didn’t deserve to wipe shit of her shoes and I was lying in bed – exactly one floor below – with the uncomfortable realisation that I was a compete oblivious fuckwit. And I was so drunk (thanks Jan, thanks James) that I probably wouldn’t even remember my sudden moment of epiphany and subsequent moment of ‘shit Al, you’re a jerk’ and would return to my ridiculous state of pretending that Jan wasn’t some creature sent from heaven to put up with my James-induced mood swings and generally be a beautiful specimen of the female kind. Well, I was sure some of these thoughts would have permeated even my thick skull. Surely?
Maybe I did get the crap genes after all.
“Dear Merlin,” I muttered into the darkness – pressing a hand against my spinning head. I was exhausted and mixed up and confused. And drunk (thanks Jan, thanks James). Pretty bloody drunk.
What a colossal fuck-up.
Then, to put the icing on the top of another wonderful Valentine’s day weekend, I closed my eyes and continued mumbling to myself for a few more seconds before promptly passing out.“Albus Potter,” I murmured into the dark empty room, “you stupid bastard.”
A/N - Next time SSTTAP: James takes matters into his own hands (oh dear), Al loses his temper quite magnificantly and there are many, many, many 'I love you's. Excited? I know I am. Thanks for all the reviews so far and please keep them up :)