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Chapter 8: Problem #8
“It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
At the end of it all, you're still my best friend
But there's something inside that I need to release
I can't lie no more, I can't hide no more
Got to be true to myself
And it feels like I am just too close to love you
Too Close by Alex Clare
Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling. Above quote belongs to Mark Twain.
"So Alex, what kind of work do you do around the department?" Charlie asked at Lunch.
"Random stuff so far. Training exercises, paper work, same stuff as James."
"Do you and James sit next to each other?" George asked.
"Yeah, we sit right behind each other."
"I heard you pulled a couple good ones on him." George said, smirking.
I shrugged. "Just a couple little things."
"A couple little things?" Bill remarked. "James is still complaining about snakes that keep showing up in his in tray. At least once a week. He doesn't know what to do with them, as they're usually attached to dung bombs. If he tried to move it, the dungbombs would go off."
George burst into laughter. "That's genius! You should have come to work at the shop!"
"I come by once in a while." I mentioned.
"Well, next time you come by, tell them your name and you can get one hundred percent off your entire purchase!"
"That's okay, I really don't need any of that. I won't take your money."
"You definitely will be if you keep up those pranks of yours." He pointed his fork at me, just missing me with a piece of scrambled egg.
I rolled my eyes. I was surrounded by James' uncles Bill, Charlie, and George, while the rest of the cousins were down the table.
Despite my early arrival, I was practically dragged by George to where they were sitting. I have to admit, I didn't mind it sitting with them. They had the best stories.
"Remember that one time I had to take care of that dragon that was allergic to coal? That was great. Was covered in dragon snot for a month." Charlie recalled.
See what I mean?
"Oh, there was that one time Fred and I bribed some second years to distract McGonagall so that we could ditch class and fly into Hogsmede for a Zonko's trip. Second years decided that blowing up a hallway would probably distract her enough. They were in detention for three weeks minimum." Fred remembered.
I laughed at that one. "Me and James did that once in our sixth year. We wanted to have a duel, so we had a couple of first years piss off Peeves so that McGonagall would have to desert her patrolling duties."
"Who won the duel?" Bill asked.
"I did of course. Took about ten minutes and James was out with my stupefy jinx."
"He had no hope, of course, Lex here's the leading trainee in the office. Better than Kingsley was his first year." Ron commented from a couple seats down.
I blushed furiously. "I doubt that."
"I don't." Charlie said. "I remember that one time you punched James so hard that you broke his nose and gave him a black eye."
"Yeah, he was like that all summer that year. I remember that." Bill commented.
"That was funny. He was only eight years old and he managed to get beat up by a girl." George added.
"I didn't beat him up."
"You broke his nose. If that's not beating up, what is?" Bill pointed out.
I sighed. "Okay, yeah, I beat him up." I couldn't help but smiling, looking towards where James was sitting next to Fred. He caught my eye and smiled back.
I looked back at my plate, half-full of eggs, bread, ham and fruit. I hoped I wasn't blushing.
After lunch, we convened outside for a snowball fight, and Ted and James were declared captains.
Ted picked Victoire first of course, and James picked me, which was stupid of him to do. The next to go to Ted were Fred, Alice, Al, Roxy, and Molly. James and I picked Rose, Dom, Lily, Louis, and Hugo.
I was beamed with snowballs way too many times to count, and I had snow shoved places I would not like to revisit anytime soon. Of course, I got them back, especially James, as he was supposed to be on my team.
Our team lost, which was really too bad, but it wasn't our fault, or it wouldn't have been if Rose and Lily had actually paid any attention to what was going on and if James and I hadn't ended up having our own fight.
But, whatever, it was fun anyways. It began to get dark and people gradually started going inside.
"Hey, wanna come with me to the woods?" James asked as the two of us lagged behind going in.
"Sure." I said shrugging.
He took my hand and led me into the woods behind the house, walking along a beaten down path. The woods had an oldness to them, kind of like the woods in northern Scotland where we saw the bear. The sun was just falling behind the trees and the sky was a pretty violet color.
Wow. I just said pretty. I think i'm turning soft. This is not good.
Anyways, we walked along for awhile, until we came to an old log and sat down.
"How are you today?" He asked.
"Fine. I'm not going to just break down because I visited my parents' grave yesterday. I haven't actually cried since I was twelve. I shed one tear yesterday." I said, almost exasperated.
"Just making sure." He said.
"So how come you dragged me out into the woods?" I asked, curious.
"I didn't drag you."
He cocked an eyebrow, then went on, "So, did my cousins make you play their little hot seat game?"
"Is that what they call it?"
"Not usually, did they?"
"Yeah, we played it." I said, not looking into his eye.
"What kind of things did they ask you? Hope it wasn't too emabarrasing." He smirked. "They can be pretty vicious. One time, I brought home a girl for Easter and they put red ants in her bed. She was a bimbo though, so I guess I see why they did it."
"Hugo asked what my favorite color was, and Lucy wanted to know if I had hugged you."
"And what is your favorite color? Is it still blue?"
"What did Fred ask? His are always the worst."
I blushed fiercly, automatically cupping my neck. "It's not worth repeating." I mumbled.
He grinned. "I see."
"You know you gave me a hickey last night?" I asked casually, steering away from the topic. Well, not really, but he didn't know that.
He cocked an eyebrow. "Really? Let me see."
I moved my hand and he took it, brushing my hair back to see. He traced the outline, making me shiver.
"You cold?" He asked.
"Hey!" I said, noticing something. "You have one too! It's just not as noticable."
I fingered his, bringing his face closer to mine.
"Why did you bring me into the woods James?" I asked, whispering. Our foreheads were touching.
"To do this." He said softly. He leaned in further, closing the gap, and he kissed me, softly.
His lips were more tender than they had ever been, and so incredibly soft. It sent little shivers down my spine, and made me want more, yet it was just so sweet as it was.
It was the sweetest kiss I had ever had.
"Alex," he said. "You're my best friend, and the best person I know. I know you might not feel the same way, but I think I might possibly be in love with you."
I didn't know what to say, and I just stared into his eyes as he peeled back.
He seemed to notice my expression and backed up, giving me space to think.
"James... I... I don't know what to say."
His face sunk.
"I'm so sorry, but I just, I need time. You're my best friend, and I don't know how I feel. I just... I need to think." I said, beginning to feel the weight of what he had just said.
"I'm sorry. I promise you I have an answer, I just need to mull over this... Holy Shoot! I can't believe you just said that!" I was standing up, beginning to freak out. "And now I'm being the asshole who doesn't know what to say! Shit!"
He looked bewildered.
"And know I'm going crazy, and you probably think i'm clinically confused! Shit! Shit!"
"Lex," He said.
"Shit! I'm such a bad person!"
"I'm such an arse!"
"I'm a horrible human being!"
"Lex- It's okay. I don't think you're any of those things. It's not that important. This doesn't change anything. C'mon, let's just get back for dinner. It'll be ready in a few minutes." He led the way down the path, while I was freaking out the whole way back inside my head, battling within myself.
I can't believe he just said that!
"I think I might possibly be in love with you."
AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Why would he say that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can't believe he actually said that!
I feel so bad! I don't have feelings for him!
No, I don't think so.
But, I mean, do I?
Well, I just don't thinkme and James are more than mutual snog partners...
But we are best friends, and the snogging is fantastic.
But since when does he love me?
We are really close. And there have been moments that I thought...
No, there's no way that he loves me. I mean, where were the signs?
I mean, I've noticed him smiling around me a lot, but James just smiles a lot.
He blushes a lot too, especailly when someone makes a comment about us together or something.
But that's just awkward.
But, I guess it's possible.
"You're my best friend, and the best person I know."
Did he really mean that? I mean, I felt the same way about him... but did he really love me?
"I know you might not feel the same way, but I think I might possibly be in love with you."
Why did he say that???
Now I don't even know if I feel the same way about him.
Do I love James??????
"Something on your mind dear?"
"No, Molly. Not at all." I said, smiling sweetly at Grandma Weasley. I was sitting at the table again, sipping at coffee and eating cake with the rest of the Weasley clan after dinner. Molly had served desert and I was now sitting next to her and Hermione. I guess I had been staring blankly into space a little too blatantly, probably because of my inner turmoil.
"I'm just going to get some fresh air." I said to her, getting up from the table. I saw James notice me, but thankfully, he disregarded it, giving me space.
I grabbed my coat on the way out, and left, shutting the door quietly behind me. The warmth and chatter were quickly replaced by cold and silence. It was peaceful though, the way the snowflakes tumbled gently down into the yard, which was lit up by a lot of little twinkling lights hanging from the sky.
I couldn't even describe how I was feeling. I just felt frusturated first of all, I suppose. But not with James. Myself.
"Hey. Something on your mind?" Roxy asked, coming out the door behind me.
"Nope. Nothing at all. Everything's just fine and dandy."
"Pfffft. Bullshit. I know you way better than you think I do. What's up?" She walked up next to me, taking special care to not trip in her heels.
"Just... I don't know what to do with myself."
"Is it James?"
I sighed. She did know me. "Maybe."
"It definitely is. What did he say to you in the woods?" She asked. Wow, Roxy really never misses a beat.
"I don't want to say."
"Ah, I see. Well, I'll just say that James meant it, whatever it was he said. And Lex?"
"I think you mean it too, you just need time to figure it out on your own."
There was silence. The snowflakes continued to come down.
"Don't stay out here too long, all right? I don't want you catching hippothermia."
"It's hypothermia." I smiled.
"Same thing. Don't linger long." She retreated back inside, her heels clicking against the steps.
I followed her after a minute and joined the family with gifts, determined not to make any contact with James.
"Well, here's my stop." I said as we approached my apartment building. "Thanks a lot for bringing me with to your family's Christmas, James."
I was still avoiding James' eye contact as he said, "Here, I got you something. You don't have to open it now of course, but here it is anyways."
He handed me a small, thin, package about the size and shape of a large muggle children's book, a large one with pictures on every page. It was moderately heavy, and wrapped in plain, green paper.
"Thanks. I haven't gotten you anything yet, sorry. I didn't have enough time, but you'll be getting something from me soon, I promise." I said, looking at him now.
"It's fine Lex. That's not the point." He was grinning. "And I'm really glad you came with us today, it was great."
"Okay, well, thanks again."
"Good night, Lex." He said. He took a step forward and gave me a friendly hug.
When he stepped away, he brushed his lips against my forehead briefly, bidding me goodnight.
"Merry Christmas Alex."
"Happy Christmas James."
The next morning, I was woken up by my muggle phone ringing.
I stumbled out of bed to answer it, clinging my sheets around me, as the cold morning air of my apartment found it's way against my bare arms.
"Alex? It's Harry. I'm sorry to call you so early, but it's important. James said I could reach you this way." I yawned, tilting the phone away from me slightly. "I need you for a mission, starting tonight. I need to send ten agents to Romania by tomorrow morning. I will be going with all of you. It'll probably take about sixteen days or so.
"I'm assigning you and nine others to leave tonight by portkey to Romania. A situation has sprung up with some of the vampires there, and negotiation is required. We might have to penetrate some of their forces if they refuse to cooperate. Are you able to leave tonight?"
...... "Yeah, sure. Sounds fine. That sounds great."
A/N: Thanks for reading and please review! I know it's not the longest chapter in the world, but it's big. So, you must have something to say. What did you think about what James told Alex? What do you think she'll say? If she gets a chance before she leaves for Romania...