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Chapter 15: Paparazzi, Triple Chocolate Ice-cream and Bus' Return
I immediately decide I need to get out of here, fast. Still gripping onto James’ hand tightly, I begin to wade through the sea of photographers and journalists. Instead of him following my lead and walking away, he pulls me back. I turn to face him, shocked, to see him answering questions from the paparazzi and smiling for the wizarding cameras.
I feel myself being tugged back towards him, and he pulls me into him and wraps an arm around my shoulder. He murmurs one word into my ear: “Smile.”
He answers another question to give me time to regain myself. He has a huge smile plastered across his face, and I still look shocked. One man yells, “Picture of the pretty lady!” and James turns to face him, pulling me even closer, beaming even wider. I manage a weak smile before the flash blinds me.
I’m pretty sure I blinked.
After a horrifying few minutes of pictures and questions being thrown at us from all directions (which James answers), we head off. He gives them another cheery wave and drags me away.
I’ve never had to deal with that before. I’ve been out with Al and Rose into Hogsmeade many times, and met with some paparazzi. Neither enjoyed it, or encouraged them like James did. Albus and Rose would just smile awkwardly and continue walking, not stopping for pictures or questions. I could tell they were embarrassed, and rather flustered.
But James seemed to lap the attention up.
I focus straight ahead, and trudge through the snow, ignoring what James I saying or where he is taking me, instead wrapped up in my own nightmare.
This is what happened in over-thinking!
I check over my shoulder and look at my arse quickly.
Phew! My skirt isn’t tucked into my knickers!
That continuous nightmare is only broken when we reach a little café on the corner of the road. I peer over my shoulder and spot the paparazzi on our heels. I don’t have time to see the name of the café before I’m pulled into it. I can almost hear the paparazzi groan- they can’t come in here.
The shopkeepers of Hogsmeade got fed up of the constant harassment from the paparazzi and had Minister Kingsley draw up an agreement that any paparazzi found to trespass into any shop in Hogsmeade or Hogwarts would be arrested treated severely.
Of course, that doesn’t stop them from wondering the streets.
“Come on, Kat!” James grins at me. “All the girls love it when I bring them here!”
“James is a player… He’ll move onto the next blonde bint by the end of the week…”
He leads me to a table and we sit down, facing each other. The warmth compared to the bitter cold outside washes over me, making me feel less tense and nervous.
Immediately he starts talking about the offers he’s received from Quidditch teams. The thing is with James, is that he can be a bit of a self-centred prick. He showed that side of himself with the paparazzi- he ignored my awkwardness- and with the immediate conversation about his future. He’s brilliant, hilarious and sweet but still self-centred.
“Of course, sorry. I’m talking about me too much aren’t I?” James interrupts my rather harsh thoughts, accompanied with a grin that would make most girls swoon.
I smile back politely, “Of course not.”
He leans back in his chair, running a hand through his ruffled hair. I can’t help but smile a little at that- he does look so cute and gorgeous.
“So I’m guessing you’ll be having you’re OWLS and NEWTS meeting with Longbottom soon, right? Discussing your future and that, right?” James says, seemingly interested.
I nod slowly. “I guess, yeah.”
“Have you got any idea what you want to do?”
“Yes, I think so. I, uh, want to do Healing…” I trail off, slightly embarrassed. But James seems intrigued now, and his eyes light up.
“Really? How cool! That’s really good. I’ll bet you’ll make an amazing Healer!” he declares.
I bite my lip anxiously. “It’s a rather hard career choice. I mean, I’ll need brilliant grades in both Charms and Potions, and even then it’s difficult for someone to take me. It’s such a competitive career choice…”
James waves a relaxed hand. “Kat, I know you’re incredibly clever. You’ll pass no problem, I’m sure. You’re amazing at Potions, and great at Charms. And you’ll blow them away with your results in Herbology- that’s always a good qualification to have for Healing too right? I know too well- I’ve only copied your homework a million times!” he winks at me.
I roll my eyes. “My work is two years below you’re level, James. I’m doing my OWLS this year- you’re doing your NEWTS.”
He shrugs again. “Yeah, well it’s still really good. Does the job! Got a million E’s and O’s from copying your homework.”
I laugh and grin at him, before frowning a little. “It’s just that, it can be a little difficult. There’s a hell of a lot of training- which costs a lot- and when you first start you don’t earn much… We haven’t got that much money between us all. With Tyrique in the Marines and Mum only working part-time at the Dentists’… She has to buy all our school supplies, too, and all the other stuff. I don’t know whether I can afford that sort of career…”
James leans forward and takes my hand in his. “Katrina, do you really think we’d leave you without money? Our family are pretty loaded, and my Mum and Uncles know better than most how difficult it is with money. We’d give you money. You’re part of the family.”
That makes my heart swell a little, and I feel touched.
“Thanks,” I mumble, blushing a little, embarrassed that he’d thrust money at me- his only few month long girlfriend.
He blushes now and mumbles his next sentence. “Hey, listen. The Christmas hols are coming up, and I was wondering if you fancied coming to ours for Christmas? It was my mum’s idea, and she’s cleared it with your mum. It’s just whether you want to…” he finishes rather anxiously.
I smile happily and nod. “I’d love to.”
He leans forward again and plants a very gentle kiss on my lips. When we break apart, I smile tentatively at him.
Then, the moment of tenderness is gone. It’s back to Quidditch and whether he should accept the Chaser position Puddlemere United are offering him, or Seeker at Chudley Canons.
I’ve just said goodbye to James. He’s gone off to meet Fred at his dad’s new shop in Hogsmeade. The date got a whole lot better from that point, actually. He bought me a Butterbeer and the paps had dissaperated by the time we left. Despite the cold weather, he still bought me an ice-cream from Honeydukes- he even remembered my favourite flavour.
Triple chocolate with Honeydukes sprinkles and extra chunks, just if you were wondering.
I’m not entirely sure when Rose will be back, so I’m wondering around by myself, dodging the enchanted snowballs the best I can. I trudge through the snow, absentmindedly walking to Al and I’s spot, overlooking the Shrieking Shack. There’s a tree facing it, and you have an amazing view over the Shack, the Whomping Willow and Hogwarts.
I find myself climbing up it, not slipping once. Careful not to mark my dress, I sit down on our branch- the thickest of them all- and stare out into space, just thinking.
I hear a loud hooting noise from my left. I look around, and spot the source of the sound: my owl. It soars through the air till it reaches me. It perches on a thinner branch just above me, still in arms reach.
“Hello Fluffy!” I croon, reaching for the letters in his grasp.
I know. Original. Fluffy. In my defence, Angus named him. He named it after Hagrid’s old pet…
There are two letters, and when I unfold the first, I am unsurprised to see it’s from Mum.
Wow. I’m sidekick.
Dear Katrina it reads,
I’m just writing to you as you haven’t written to me for a while, dear. I’m getting rather worried. Is everything quite alright? You’re not hurt are you? Or ill? Or is it just boy trouble? Friend trouble? Write back to me soon, Katrina dear, I’m rather worried!
How is Angus doing? Is he alright? Studying hard I hope! Keep an eye on him, dear, you know what he is like.
However, there is a slight problem. Since Dennis and I are celebrating our five year anniversary over the Christmas holidays, Dennis has booked us a romantic getaway to Australia over Christmas! He’s so wonderful, isn’t he? However, this means you’ll need somewhere to stay! Tyrique is in Afghan- not that I’d trust him to look after you and Angus anyway- so he’s out of the question.
I know it’s rather rude to take advantage of their hospitality again, but couldn’t you ask Rose or Albus if you could stay with them? I’m writing to Mrs Potter and Mrs Weasley- such lovely people- too, so hopefully they will have no problem!
I’m sorry, dear, it’s a shame we can’t spend Christmas together.
But you understand don’t you?
Much love always,
I roll my eyes at my Mother’s worried letter and at Dennis’ attempt at chivalry. “Mental mum…” I murmur under my breath. I make a mental note to reply to mum saying James has already invited me round, and that I’m absolutely fine. I’ll just lie and say I’ve busy with my work- that is true to a certain extent. The amount of work to prepare us for OWLS is ridiculous. I won’t mention the fact that Rose is pregnant…
I unravel the next letter. It’s from Tyrique.
Rena, the letter reads,
How are you? Mum’s been getting frantic since you haven’t written for a while. She’s visited my house seventeen times in the last week, asking me whether I’ve heard anything from you. So write back to her, for sanity’s sake!
But, you are alright, aren’t you? No, I’m not going to pull an over-protective-brother-paddy-fit on you, just wondering!
Okay, I am worried. Has anyone hurt you? I’ll smash them to a pulp if they have!
Anyway, how’s Angus? Is he doing alright? Bet he’s off snogging some girl, knowing him! Keep an eye on him, will you? You know Mum worries about him. I do too, he’s insane.
Have you got any news? Anything exciting happen? Knowing you, you’ll want to know what’s been going on in my life, I’ll bet. This isn’t for Mum’s ears (or Angus’) so keep it to yourself. I, uh, met a girl. Lottie, she’s called. She’s my new Commander’s daughter. Yeah, I know. Not great.
See, there’s another slight problem. She hates me. She thinks I’m a “cocky twat”. Exact quote, Rena, exact quote. I don’t know why, but she’s still not relenting. Advice?
I might not be able to write for a while. I’m heading off to Afghan for a bit now. Nothing serious, just the usual stuff. It’s difficult enough hiding this owl business from Quentin, let alone hide it from a bunch of nosy gits in my squad.
Sort out Christmas soon, love. You know Mum’ll go mental if it’s not sorted by tomorrow.
Lots of love and all that shit,
I laugh at my brother’s letter, raising my eyebrows at the news about Lottie. I laugh at the mention of Quentin- his roommate- despite that it’s not very funny. But Quentin is bonkers, absolutely, pure craziness.
I love him.
Then I sigh. I hate it when my brother goes to Afghanistan. Ever since he joined to Royal Marines, I’ve become permanently worried for him. I’ll write back to him later.
I hear a rustle from below me, and I look down. A figure is climbing up. I stay completely still, panicking slightly. Then, a thin face with shining green eyes and messy black hair pops up.
“Albus! You scared the shit out of me!” I cry, laughing a little. Then I remember I’m supposed to be more reserved with Al and frown at him.
He gives me my favourite cheeky grin that makes my heart pound. “Mind if I join you?”
I smile unsurely and nod slowly.
“Budge up then,” Al orders and swings up to my branch. Obediently, I move a little to the side, allowing him to sit next to me.
“Why aren’t you with Sarah?” I ask him, not looking at him.
“Our date ended a while ago. She went off with some Ravenclaw friends. Where’s James?” Al replies easily, not looking at me either.
“Oh, uh. Ours ended a bit ago too. He was going to hang with Fred at Weasley Wizard Wheezes,” I answer.
He nods slowly, finally looking at me. “So, why aren’t you with Rose? Is she with Malfoy?”
I roll my eyes. “He’s your best friend Al-”
“Ex-best friend.” Al corrects.
“What are we, twelve? He’s is your best friend, Al. At least refer to him by his first name. And yes she is. She’s gone with him to her first scan,” I answer shortly.
Al frowns at that. “I would have thought she’d have taken you…”
“So did I,” I interrupt sharply, Rose’s choice still stinging.
An awkward and tense silence settles on us after my annoyed outburst. We stay perfectly still, avoiding eye contact, not even daring to cough. It’s weird. I’ve had lots of awkward silences with my other friends, even Rose. But never Al. Usually one of us does the “Awkward Turtle” and the ice is broken, or Al farts or starts talking about socks or something odd. We’ve never had such a long silence of this kind. Finally, Al breaks the silence.
“When did it become so awkward between us?” Al sighs, gazing at me. I meet his eyes for the first time in such a long time. Everything comes flooding back: all the good times, and the funny moments. His eyes dance in the bright light reflecting off the snow. I realise quite how much I have missed him. The rude “Since you became obsessive over your girlfriend and called your brother a manslag” dissolves on my tongue.
“I have no idea,” I whisper quietly, not breaking the gaze. Without speaking, he pulls me into a hug. I rest my head on his shoulder, tears pricking my eyes. “We can’t let this happen again.” I murmur, inhaling his scent again. He smells weird. The scent is sharper, sweeter.
I don’t like it.
Frowning, I breathe in again. It’s gross actually. His usual scent can’t mask the bitter odour of whatever deodorant he’s wearing. I break away from him.
“You smell gross.” I tell him, nose wrinkled. He laughs and sniffs himself.
“The new disgusting spray Sarah bought me. She’d be offended if I didn’t wear it.” He tells me, eyes crinkled in laughter at my face.
“Well don’t wear it around me please. It ruins your smell.” I grumble. He blinks at me.
I nod. He looks at me quizzically and I sigh and explain, “Yeah. Everyone smells different. Their scent tells you a lot about them. Like Dom smells of sugar and vanilla, so you can tell she’s sweet and cute. Rose smells like, well, roses. That sort of says she’s beautiful and romantic, but rub her up the wrong way and she gets prickly and thorny.”
He laughs, his eyes twinkling. “You’ve got them spot on. What do I smell like?”
“Quidditch brooms and broomstick polish, but also of trees- sort of foresty. A little bit of parchment too, and books,” I recite easily. I smile a little to myself. “You smell perfect.”
Albus has this sort of weird look on his face, as if he’s just realised something. Still with his thinking face on, he pulls me in for another hug. I have a feeling he’s smelling me.
“I’m sorry for being a prick, Rena.” He says quietly, his voice muffled by my coat.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry for a being a bitch.” I whisper back, eyes closed.
“Nah, you weren’t. I was a prick first. I didn’t mean the things I said. You’re not a bimbo. I’m happy for you and James, I honestly am.” Al murmurs.
He’s happy for me. He doesn’t care. He has Sarah.
“And me for you. I need to meet this Sarah. And you need to make it up with your family. It’s my fault you fell out.” I reply easily.
“It’s not! It was perfectly understandable why you had a strop. I was horrid!” he answers indignantly.
Before we can have a “It’s my fault” “No it’s mine” fight, we hear giggling from below us. We break apart and Al presses a finger to his lips.
The giggling gets louder and we spot a couple staggering over to the fence overlooking the Shrieking Shack. It reminds me of the old days- we used to perch on this here branch and watch all the lovey-dovey couples come down here and smooch. It was great- we’d know who was hooking up with who and who was cheating on their partner.
And not at all pervy.
I peer at them, wondering if we know them. They look quite young, really, although the girl isn’t wearing any layers. Just a jacket over her very tight top. I squint at them again and recognise the face.
I almost fall out of the tree.
And the boy is Angus.
I let out a muffled sound- a sort of half moan, half shriek. They don’t notice and move closer together. Then, they’re kissing.
Al, meanwhile, is wetting himself in fits of silent laughter. I must have a pretty hilarious expression right now: disgust mingled with horror and pure fury.
“They look like they’re eating each other’s faces…” I whimper, repulsed. Al laughs even harder, still silent, and I feel the corners of my mouth twitch. It is quite funny. Gus would be horrified if he found out his older sister was watching him snog his girlfriend…
“He’s only in third year and he’s going further than I ever have!” I groan. Albus now has tears streaming down his face.
Suddenly, Gus’ hand slips under Polly’s top.
“Alright!” I hiss, holding my hands up and tightly closing my eyes, “I’m going. I’m not going to watch my brother shag his girlfriend!”
Albus laughs again and manages to choke out the words, “But if you leave now, they’ll see you and he’ll know you’ve been watching him!”
“Crap!” I throw my head back in frustration. “So I’m just going to have to sit up here and wait until they’re done?”
Albus nods, grinning. I groan quietly. Al reaches into his little rucksack he’d hung above us and pulls out some of Honeydukes best chocolate, break it in half and hands a bit to me. I accept it and we both munch on it quietly, avoiding staring at my brother making out with Polly.
It wasn’t how I imagined my first date to go with James, I have to admit. But it was still brilliant.
A/N DID YOU ENJOY?
Sorry to all those Jatrina shippers! I have a feeling you will be gutted about their date? I thought it went rather well- believe me, I planned it to go a lot worse. But I do love James!
Anyways, thank you for reading! Don’t forget to leave a review and keep reading!