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Chapter 25: The One at the Ice Skating Rink
“Where’ve you been, young lady?” I jumped about half a foot in the air and stumbled around blindly like a demented beaver, slamming into the banister that lined the stairs and almost tripping over my own feet. I do believe that makes the score Summer: 1, Coordination: 0.
“I – I went for dinner at the Weasleys’ house. Fred came round and invited me this morning.” I said slowly, wondering whether or not I should have mentioned to her that I was going out. I didn’t bother – usually she wasn’t even home when I got back from going places. Fuck knows what she does and where she goes when she leaves, but she does. I didn’t even know who she had gone to visit over Christmas when she went to Cornwall.
Because let’s be frank, who would want my mother hanging around them when they’re trying to spend some valuable family time with their... oh yeah, family.
Because that’s what you do during the Christmas holidays. You spend time with your family.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were leaving?” I frowned and cocked an eyebrow at her, leaning back so my shoulders were supported by the banister, my expression cool and cut off.
“Because I didn’t think to. I don’t normally tell you before I go out, and you usually don’t notice. It’s not like I’ve been out all night – it’s only nine o’clock.” I gestured to the watch that was swinging around my wrist, a setting too loose.
My mum’s mouth dropped open slightly, and I realised that she had painted liberal amount of scarlet lipstick across her mouth, in what looked like an ill fated attempt to recapture her youth. The result? She looked like a puffin.
“Well... well, in future, Summer, I would like you to inform me before you leave to go anywhere.” I scowled, showing resentment towards once again being treated like a child. “I’ve been worried about you – you could have been anywhere. And with your father gone, I didn’t know how I was going to find you.”
My heart softened a little bit as she blinked at me, and I thought back to what James had said about her trying to prove she cared, but just going about it in the wrong way.
She’d been worried because I didn’t come home. She wasn’t trying to control my life by telling me that I must inform her before I go anywhere, and she wasn’t trying to weasel in on my love life because hers was officially ending. I just had to be more patient with her.
Right. Alright. Breathe. Calm down. Do something calm, casual, and something to show that you understand she’s going through a hard time.
To my mother’s enormous surprise – shown by the sharp intake of breath and gobsmacked expression – I stepped forwards and wrapped my arms around her waist, squeezing her quickly around the middle before pulling away and stepping back, sharpish.
“I’m sorry for worrying you. I’ll... I’ll tell you if I’m going somewhere in future.” I nodded.
My mum’s jaw dropped open a little more, and she blinked a few times. It was the first time I had voluntarily initiated a hug since the day I first left for Hogwarts, way back in first year, because it was the first time I had ever been away from home for such a long period of time. And even before then, it had been a rare phenomenon.
Other than with James, I just wasn’t the hugging kind of person. Snogging, yes. Hugging – not so much.
“I hope you’re doing alright over the divorce, mum. I... if you need to talk about it, you can come and talk to me, I suppose. If you want to. But I warn you now; if you start trying to talk to me about your sex life then I am going to hex you out of the room so fast that you won’t be seen for dust.” My mum laughed and dabbed at the slight moisture in her eyes.
Honestly. The woman is so emotional. It’s ridiculous.
“Thank you, Summer. I know your father and I handled everything badly when telling you about the divorce, but –”
“Yeah, we don’t need to talk right now. Seriously. I’m gonna go to bed – it’s been a... a messed up night, let’s just go with that one.” I shrugged again and dragged my hands through my hair to push it back off my face. The house felt oddly warm, all of a sudden – as did my cheeks.
“Alright. Goodnight, darling.”
Thankfully she didn’t try to push her luck and hug me again, so I quickly turned away from the emotion-fest and took the stairs three at a time to get back to the safety of my room, where there was no over-emotional menopausal woman hanging around.
“Mrs Lancaster – it’s really nice to see you again. You look as lovely as always.” I rolled my eyes as I heard James’ voice float up from the floor below, filled with a respect and friendliness that had not been there when he had been confronted with my dad. He’d been outright rude to my dad, to be honest. Not that I cared – I probably would have gotten pissed off if he’d been nice to him.
“Oh, James, thank you,” my mum giggled, and I nearly began to dry retch. My mother likes to think she’s youthful and whatnot, and that is embarrassing enough – but using her flirty and charming voice to speak to a bloke that is technically younger than me?
Not on, mummy, not on at all.
My father is already a cradle robber. I will not have you being one as well – I’ll get a reputation. My friends won’t ever want to come over for dinner. I’ll be called the daughter of a cougar! Oh good heavens, the world is ending.
I can just see it all happening now... what is happening to the universe?!
Next thing you know, James is going to have run off with my mother and I’ll have to marry Kyle.
Yes, because that would just be what would have to happen. The world couldn’t just continue as normal – apart from the fact that my sort of best friend/snog buddy/whatever you want to call it has run off with my mother. No, I’d have to marry Kyle Davies, for some reason. Just to balance the world out, you know. Because that just makes sense.
“No problem at all,” James said back. I scowled at the wall. Stop flirting with my mother and get up here. I didn’t ask you round so you could stand in the kitchen and act like a twat. Honestly. The audacity of some people is unreal. “Do you happen to know where Summer is? I’ve come to collect her, and I have no idea where she is – your house is just so big.”
“It is large, isn’t it? Her father has little man syndrome – he just had to have the biggest and the best of everything. So we had this place built – it’s ostentatious. But he likes it, and so do I. Not that I’m going to be living her for much longer...” Oh good Merlin. Do not get sentimental and worked up, mother. Just tell James I’m in my room and then go and have a nice cry to Carole down the Post Office. Don’t try and drag James into your problems... please.
“Um... yeah, I’m very sorry to hear about all that – if you don’t mind me saying, Mr Lancaster is a fool for leaving you.” Really, James, really? Really? “But I really need to know where Summer is – she gets annoyed if I’m late. Which is ridiculous, because she is the tardiest person I know.”
My mother laughed a watery chuckle and rustled around for something.
“She does have a temper on her, doesn’t she? She gets that from her father, I suppose, but she’s much worse than he ever was. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. She’s going to get an anti-social behavioural order if she’s not careful.” James laughed, and my mother joined in. “She’s in her room, my love. Take care of her when you’re out today.”
“I will,” James promised, and I could hear his footsteps against the tiles as he made his way out of the kitchen.
“Um – James?” Mother called, and I could hear James’ footsteps clunk to a stop. I winced my eyes shut a little tighter, wondering what she could possibly have to say to him. Please don’t be anything embarrassing. Please don’t ask when he got so tall, or whether I was seeing anyone new. Please don’t ask whether he’d like to stay for dinner. Just walk away, mother. Just leave the poor boy in peace.
“Yes, Mrs Lancaster?”
“Call me Daphne, my love. I’m going to be changing it back to Greengrass soon, anyway.” James coughed awkwardly. “I was just wondering if I could ask you something. It’s a little personal, but I’ve been meaning to ask Summer and... well, with the mood she’s in at the moment, I don’t think it would be the smartest idea.” James laughed.
“She is in a bad mood at the moment,” James agreed. Gee, thanks, bestie. “So sure. What do you want to know?”
“I was just wondering... well, is there something going on between Summer and yourself?”
There was a sudden coughing fit from downstairs, so I could only guess that James had begun to choke on his own saliva. Sexy. How am I holding myself back from running down there and jumping his fit bones right now?
“I mean, I saw sparks between the two of you during the summer holidays and thought the two of you might have gotten together, but then I didn’t want to embarrass you by saying anything, so I kept quiet. But at the Christmas Eve ball, there was just something... she was so strange with you, but she seemed more relaxed than I had seen her in a long time when you were dancing together. So I was just wondering... is there anything going to between you and my little girl?”
“I – no, Mrs Lancaster – Daphne, sorry. Not in the sense you mean, no. I mean, there might be, one day... depending on how things work out. But right now, no – Summer isn’t my girlfriend.”
“Oh. That’s a shame. I want her to be happy, James, and she seems so unhappy at the moment. You make her happy – and if that’s what it takes to finally force a smile onto her face then that’s what I want for her. Just – just don’t ever leave her, James. I think she needs you.”
“You really think?”
“I do. And I’m pretty sure she’d agree with me if she wasn’t so goddamn stubborn all the time.” James laughed again.
“I – I think there will be something between Summer and I, one day. But... but we have a lot to work through before we get there. She has more issues than I care to think about that she won’t talk about, and I... well, I still have problems with something Summer did and something that happened between me and an old girlfriend... We have a lot of obstacles, basically. But I think – I think there could be something...” James trailed off, and even from the floor above I could tell that he was blushing.
“Sorry, James, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. You can go and find Summer now, I didn’t mean to keep you.” James’ footsteps started again, and I quickly leapt back from the door and more into the centre of the room so it didn’t look like I was being a creeper.
James’ footsteps hammered on the stairs, and a second later the door to the room next door to my bedroom went crashing open, followed by a curse. That door slammed shut again, and then mine was shoved open rather brusquely. James stood grinning in the doorway, his cheeks still a little pink and his hair flopping sexily into his eyes.
“You alright, love? I don’t know why your house is so fucking huge, I get lost every time I come here and mmmfff –” James cut off as I took two steps forwards, flung my arms around his neck and pulled him to me in a hard kiss.
He seemed surprised, to say the least. I had a feeling that if I hadn’t had my arms around his neck that his knees might have given way and he would’ve have gone crashing to the ground.
I pulled back and grinned at him, not caring how stupid I looked whilst smiling and bothering to consider why I was smiling, before leaning forwards and pressing my forehead against his.
“Hello, James,” I grinned, and James leaned forwards to recapture my lips in a kiss. I tightened my arms and we staggered out of the doorway to my bedroom, me kicking the door shut with my foot and jumping into the air, hooking my legs around James’ hips.
“Mmmf – Summer – Sum – mmm,” James stopped trying to speak when I slid my hands into the bird’s nest on top of his head and tugged gently at his roots.
After a couple of minutes or so of top notch snogging (if I do say so myself) James seemed to recapture his thoughts, and he slowed the kiss down gently before pulling away. I rested my chin on his shoulder and stared at the wall behind his head for a lack of anything better to do.
“Summer – I told you no.”
“Funny, you don’t seem to have remembered that until just then,” I muttered loftily, and I could feel rather than hear James sigh.
“Summer, I told you that I wasn’t going to do this. Not until – anyway. Just think about, I mean – think about... I mean, you and Jack –”
“Split up a few days ago,” I finished for him, and I screeched as James suddenly dropped his arms from beneath my legs and let me go flying. I slammed my feet onto my bed, and using James’ neck as a brace, forced myself into a sexy squatting position before leaping off the bed and onto the floor. James was gaping at me, his fringe all up in his face and his nose white.
“You – you and Jack split up?” I nodded, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. Stupid strand of hair, getting in my face and making the rest of my hairs looking like twats. “When were you going to tell me – were you just saving it for when you could get something out of it? Or were you saving it to see when you could make the most dramatic announcement? Fucking hell, I have never met anyone that is as much of a drama queen as you before.”
I cocked an eyebrow coolly and slowly settled myself down on the end of my bed, surveying James from beneath my eyelashes.
I was surprised, to say the least – annoyance and anger hadn’t quite been what I had pictured for the scene after I told James that Jack and I were now done, dead and buried. At least, to me we were. I hoped that Jack had realised from the letter that there was no getting back on the horse for the two of us.
“Well, no... I just didn’t want you to get the wrong idea. And yesterday we were talking about other stuff, so it wasn’t really the right time to mention it. Merlin, I thought you’d be pleased – you hate Jack.”
James ran his hands through his hair, across his chin before pressing the heels of his palms into his eyes.
“Sorry, I – I didn’t mean to snap at you. You just – you’re very... intense today, and I was just struggling to keep up. I mean, one second you’re yelling that it’s none of my business whether you’re with Jack or not, and the next you’re announcing you’ve split up. You’re... confusing.”
“And I haven’t always been?” I smirked, pushing myself off the bed and flinging the strap of my handbag over my shoulder. James rolled my eyes and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, pulling us both out of my bedroom door.
“Don’t remind me, love. I might run for the hills.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Fuck!” I shrieked, my legs flailing out from underneath me and somehow managing to propel me forwards at breakneck speeds at the same time. I flung my arms out to try and steady myself, but the resulting feel of some random old lady’s boob put a damper on that escapade.
“Mind your language, ma’am, there are children present,” a random bloke in a neon orange vest droned, pulling one of his headphones out of his ears and shooting me a blank look that suggested he was daydreaming about the many fun hours he had spent the night before playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Fred tried to get us to all play that once. Two hissy fits from Dom, a couple of textbook whacks to the head from Penny, a lot of moaning from James, a bored sigh or five from Connor and a punch to the arm from me later, the box was burned to charcoal. Dom and James soon invented a war dance to chant around the common room, which consisted of a lot of grunting and the throwing of these ashes into random peoples’ faces.
They were made to stop after Mary Finch got some in her eye and started shrieking about feeling the eyesight draining from her body.
“Did he just call you ma’am?” James laughed, walking like a doof to the entrance to the ice rink and smirking at me pathetic position on the ground. I could almost feel the ice seeping into my knickers. If I got frostbite of the bum department then you know how it was caused.
“Yes, he did. Because some people, unlike you, have manners.” I shot James a glare and tried to push myself to my feet, only to slide back over on the goddamn skates and land flat on my arse again. I was going to be black and blue by the time the night was over.
“Funny, because you’re the most unladylike female I know,” James laughed, glancing apprehensively at the ice but not actually stepping down onto it.
“Really? You have met Dominique Weasley, right? There girl that had a contest with Fred to see who could finish the most cigarettes and shots in four minutes? The girl that sits with her feet on the table and wears boots that weigh more than I do? And I’m the unladylike one?”
“Yes, but Dom knows that right time to scream out obscenities and the right time when not to. For example, you do not scream out the f-word whilst in the middle of a crowd of children at the local ice rink.” James smirked down at me as I scowled and tried to force myself to my feet again.
“Oh, well aren’t you just oh so high and mighty...” I grumbled, wincing at the strange blue colour my fingers had turned and trying once again to shove myself to my feet.
Funny enough, it is not a walk in the park to use a giant patch of ice to force yourself upright when your shoes cannot touch the ground due to a fatally thin piece of metal being stuck to the bottom, just waiting for some poor sod to come along and trip over onto you, consequently slitting their neck open on the stupidly sharp blade.
I mean, what twat decided that it would be a good idea to make these for children?
“Are you going to get onto the ice any time soon? I could do with a hand up,” I snapped angrily, and James grinned awkwardly.
“You know, now that I think on it, I’m not wearing thermal underpants – I mean, if I fell over then I could quite easily get frostbite and die, or have my arse fall off or something... so maybe it would be best if I stayed back here and... erm... guarded a nice cup of hot chocolate. Yep. Sounds good.”
Something suddenly clicked in my brain, and I was so surprised by the thought that I managed to push myself to my feet without shoving myself back over onto my already saturated arse.
“James, you’re not scared of falling over, are you?” I asked quietly, and some lardy looking bloke in a grey hoodie barked loudly with laughter as he shoved past James. I scowled at his retreating figure, and grinned when he slipped over and landed flat on his back just a few metres away from us. James was glaring down at his skating boots, a pink haze crawling mercilessly up his cheeks.
I bit my lip to prevent myself cooing at him like an old lady confronted with a toddler in a pram.
“No!” James protested. I bit my lip a little harder to stop myself from laughing. I slowly shuffled forwards on the ice, pressing my hand against the wall for balance, and stepped quickly onto the little step that led off the rink.
I grabbed James’ hand and pulled him closer to me, ignoring his funny staggering and tottering movement that he made in his boots. He looked like one of those women that you see clattering around behind professional Quidditch players at games with their blonde hair curled into ringlets and their poodles yapping like twats in their handbags.
“Listen to me,” I said calmly, wondering how to go about delivering the whole inspirational speech thing. I’d never done it before. “Listen to me – all you have to do is walk really slowly, and keep hold of the side. I’ll hold your other hand. I won’t let you fall over.”
“You fell over!”
“I didn’t expect it to be so slippy!” James rolled his eyes.
“Really, love? You weren’t expecting the ice to be slippy? What, did you think it was going to be like running rubber along Velcro or something?” I scowled and stepped forwards to biff James over the back of the head. He grinned and batted me off idly, wrapping his arm around my neck and pulling me into some kind of messed up headlock.
“Shut it, you,” I grumbled, and James pulled my head back up so my eyes were level with his. Without realising it, I had begun to lean up on my tiptoes so my nose was brushing against his temple, his eyelashes tickling my cheeks.
The ‘tough’ bloke in the grey hoodie (but now with a large wet patch on his arse) stumbled past us again, and shoved into my back as hard as he could as he did so. I slammed into James’ chest and his mouth instantly dropped open, his expression switching at the speed of light so he looked like he was going to whack the bloke over the back of the head.
That would be just what I needed – James to make a scene in the middle of a muggle ice rink.
“James, just leave it – he’s just an obnoxious git. Leave it.” James was still scowling angrily after him, and I quickly got bored. “James? James?”
I leaned forwards and took James’ face between both of my hands, pressed my lips quickly against his and then leaned back to my original position. James blinked; looking a little shocked, and then sighed.
“Right, well, let’s have a go at this skating thing, then,” he grumbled, and I grabbed his hand. Pressing my palm against the cool ledge of the wall, I gently stepped out onto the ice and stilled, waiting to see whether I was going to fall flat on my arse again.
James followed me slowly, the hand clutching mine tightening to the point were it was almost painful. His fingernails were cutting into my palm, but I didn’t pull away – he’d looked after me enough before.
“James?” I asked slowly.
“You’re Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. You fly up two hundred feet into the air on nothing other than a charmed piece of wood, catch a ball that flies at ungodly speeds through the air and dodge other flying balls that want to knock your head off your shoulders. And yet... and yet you’re scared to step on some ice... That makes no sense.”
James laughed and loosened his grip on my hand, squeezing my palm gently in what I like to think was an affectionate manner. Either that or he was trying to squeeze all the blood out my limbs.
Which would be pretty crummy of him, you have to admit. I’ve been nothing but nice to him my whole life. Ish.
“Yeah, I guess it sounds pretty strange when you put it like that. I dunno. I haven’t liked snow or ice since I was a kid – you would not believe how grateful I am that it hasn’t snowed this winter.” I nodded in agreement.
“I hate snow, too. It’s too cold and wet and stupid and makes me look like I have really bad dandruff.” I agreed grumpily, and James rolled his eyes, looking like he would have elbowed me had he not been worried about falling flat on his arse.
We continued to very slowly step our way forwards on the ice. The embarrassing part was when children no older than eight were whipping past you doing fucking figures of eight with smug little smiles on their bratty faces. James refused to let me kick them over. He’s quite mean, really.
“Yeah, but you hate everything,” James laughed, and I shot him a scowl. “I hate snow because it eventually turns to ice when it’s walked on, and then you have to play fucking ice princess to get down to the wheelie bin down at the back of the garden. You might not have noticed, Summer, but I’m not exactly an ice princess.”
I laughed and shook my head, before stopping slowly so that James’ front bumped into my back.
“What are you doing?” James asked slowly, and I turned around to shoot him a charming smile. Pecking him quickly on the cheek (look, I’ve already been told off for swearing in front of children, I don’t want to be told off for acting like a whore, too) I took my free hand off the wall and wrapped it around his neck.
“Right, come on – we’re going to get off the wall.”
James’ jaw dropped open and he quickly started shaking his head, glancing around to see if anyone was watching us. I noticed that the grey hoodie-clad thug had re-entered the rink. Maybe the blade from my boot could just slide across the ice and possibly decapitate him.
“Well – well let’s not be hasty. I mean, the wall and I have gotten pretty friendly – we can just stick together for now. I mean – erm... look, I’m quite comfortable in this spot. Ouch! My ankle! I’m pretty sure I just twisted my ankle. And I can’t go freeform skating if my ankle is... twisted.” James trailed off at the look on my face.
“You... twisted you ankle?” I asked flatly. James nodded confidently. “Without moving. Fucking amazing, that, isn’t it?”
James scowled at the floor and I rolled my eyes, but dropped his hand so I could wrap both of my arms around his neck regardless. I shuffled forwards a little and pressed my nose against the tip of his, his breath tickling my lips.
“James, we’re going to be fine. I won’t let you fall over – and if you do fall, I won’t let you get hurt. You’ll be fine. Trust me.” James still didn’t look convinced. “Don’t you trust me?” James sighed.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know? What don’t you know?”
“I don’t know... I don’t know whether I trust you.” The expression slid off my face and I lapsed into silence as James words bounced around the room. I don’t know if I trust you. I took a deep breath and slowly dropped my arms from his neck, pressing my hand against the wall as James ran his hands through his hair. “Look, Summer, you did ask and –”
“You don’t trust me?” I interrupted, and I nearly jumped when I realised that my voice hadn’t come out as angry and strong as I had planned it to... it was almost hurt. Why was I hurt?
“I – what the fuck have you done recently to deserve my trust?” I blinked. “Oh, right, yeah... I should totally trust you after you agreed to go exclusive with me and then fucking snogged my brother – don’t look at me like that, Summer, I’m not going to stop harping on about it – and then... hmm... oh yeah, you start dating the ex-boyfriend of my cousin, despite the fact that you’d refused to even consider dating anyone, even me, for years. Fucking hell, Summer.”
I gaped at him for a second and tried to get pissed off, but I couldn’t. For the first time ever, I couldn’t force myself to get pissed off with him.
Because, for some strange reason, I felt... ashamed? Maybe. He was... he was right. Of course, I’d toss myself into Dante’s second circle of hell before I admitted that to him – it was bad enough that I was thinking it.
“I – James, you stopped speaking to me. Did you ever wonder why I started dating Jack? I was lonely.” James gaped at me. “You’d stopped speaking to me, Dom was off with Connor, Penny and Fred were fawning over one another... normally I would have had you, but you wouldn’t talk to me. I needed someone – and he was always nice to me. He was nice to me, and I didn’t want to lose him. I’d already lost you.”
James looked a little dumbstruck; his eyes wide and trained on my flushing face. I didn’t take my eyes off my skating boots.
“You never lost me.”
“Yes, I did. James, you didn’t speak to me for two months. I mean, I know I fucked up a lot but – you completely overreacted! I’m not saying – I’m not saying it’s your fault, because it’s not. But you – friends forgive and all that shit. I would have forgiven you. I would have been pissed as fuck, but I would have gotten over it.”
“I would have gotten over it too – but Summer, Albus and Natalie –”
“I know you went through shit with them, but you can’t let what they did in your past affect your future so much. You’re clinging on to what happened with them instead of just moving on and being happy with someone else. And I know I’m not the ideal person to do all this inspirational shit but... James you need to move past this.”
“It’s hard. I’ve spent so long being angry about it, I don’t think I can just let it go. That really ruined all the confidence I have around my love life. And you – you were helping me get over it. Because you wanted me. Not my brother, me. And then...” I closed my eyes. “Summer, it was like a slap in the face. Everything came back. I – that’s why I’m so stuck on what you did. It’s not because I can’t let go of the past. It’s because I – I can’t forget it.”
I thought I was going to be sick. Was the side of an ice rink filled with multitudes of screeching children really the right venue for this kind of conversation?
“I’m sorry.” Why am I apologising so much lately? It’s getting ridiculous. “I really am sorry for what happened with Albus – I was pissed and pissed off, James. I wouldn’t have done it sober.”
“I – I want to trust you so bad. I want to trust you and I want move past this and I want to just be normal and have a normal relationship and not slip back into some mindless thing like we had before. But it’s so goddamn hard. That’s why I wanted that type of relationship with you to begin with – because it if was just physical then there was no chance I was going to get hurt. But you’re my best friend, and it was never just physical. So I did get hurt. So that plan was fucked.”
I took a deep breath.
“I did the same thing. I never wanted to be in a relationship because I was so sick of being hurt, and getting so upset and acting like a pathetic little girly girl... so I just... I just did the same thing you did. I mean, with Jack it was different. I never... I mean, he was nice looking bloke, but I was never really connected to him, so I knew I wouldn’t be hurt and I’d be alright. He was more into me than I was to him. So that was all good. But with you – it’s different. You... you hurt me last time, when you stopped speaking to me. So I dated Jack to make myself feel better, like someone still wanted me.”
“I still wanted you, you know,” James said quietly, and I nodded.
“I guess, on some level, I did it to get back at you. But I didn’t mean to do that – I don’t want to hurt you and I never did. The whole time I said I was doing it because Jack was safe and safe meant happy, but... I don’t know. If you saw me with someone else, then maybe you’d want me too. I didn’t... fuck.” I broke off and ran my hands through my hair.
James seized my hand and pressed it to his lips, before slowly putting his other hand back on the wall and shuffling backwards.
“Let’s get out of here. We’ll go get something to eat. I don’t to talk here.” And again, for one of the first times I could remember, I just agreed without bothering to attempt to argue.
“Right... I’ll have the spaghetti bolognaise and some garlic bread – don’t go skinny on the portion, I’m a fan of garlic bread – and he will have the lasagne with extra cheese, and a side order of chips. We’ll share a portion of onion rings, and to drink we’ll have... a jug of water, tea with cream, not milk and half a sugar, and an iced sparkling water would be wonderful, thank you.”
The waiter gaped at me and quickly started to scribble down a couple of hints as to what I said. I cocked an eyebrow coolly and scooped up both menus, handed them to him and waited for him to leave.
“Um... wait, what came after the extra portion of onion rings? I didn’t quite catch it.” The waiter frowned at me and James started to snort behind his hand. He knew full well what I was like in restaurants. If the service wasn’t good enough, then that just wasn’t on. See, this is why we should only to go restaurants off my approved list. Things like this happen.
“I said a jug of water, and we’ll take a wedge of lemon with that, now I think on it, tea with cream and half a sugar, but no milk will go anywhere near that mug, and a sparkling water with ice. As in, frozen water. A wedge of lime with that would be wonderful.” The guy gaped at me.
“Hang on, what was –”
“Listen, sweetheart, I’ve already repeated my order once, make me do it again and we’re leaving. I expect the drinks and the meals to be correct or there will be trouble, do you understand?” The waiter floundered for a moment but quickly shut his mouth and stumbled off. James grinned at me.
“Do you have to be so rude to wait staff? Really?” I blinked. “He’s only trying to do his job, and you are a very difficult customer.”
“Look, if we had gone to The Manor like I suggested, then we would not be having this issue. And I know you say that the portions aren’t big enough, but can’t you just grasp the concept that it’s gourmet food and you’re not supposed to get very much. You moan about that all the time, whenever we go to restaurants that I choose.”
“That’s because you always choose places that cost more than a car and serve food in such small portions that you can barely see it. I mean, seriously – would you rather have a nice big plate of spaghetti bolognaise with garlic bread, or a slice of beef covered in whole leaves of mint and drizzled with a bottle of oil? Oh, served with half a raw cherry tomato, of course.”
“That beef dinner looked lovely – I have no idea why you wouldn’t eat it. And ordering a takeaway pizza to be delivered to our table at the restaurant was just plain embarrassing.”
“No, it looked foul. And your tablespoon of frogspawn looked even more disgusting.”
“It was not frogspawn! It’s called caviar and it’s actually lovely. I don’t know why you had such an objection to trying some. Really, if you never try anything new then –”
“Summer, I don’t give a shit what you say, I am not going to sit there and let you try to feed me half of the cube of feta and mint that you got given for dinner. The only reason I ever agreed to go to those places with you in the first place was because I wanted a good snog afterwards.” I rolled my eyes and glanced suspiciously at the waiter that was re-crossing the room.
He laid down a jug of water (with the wedge of lemon, I was pleased to see, but sadly he had also included some ice that I had not asked for) and two accompanying empty glasses. He glanced nervously at me and quickly dropped down a bottle of sparkling water and another empty glass, this one slightly slimmer than the first two.
I cocked an eyebrow as he nervously glanced at me again and pulled his notebook out of his front pocket.
“Erm – the coffee is just being made, it will be out in a minute... erm, is everything that is here alright up to now?” I glanced over the table and pursed my lips, shaking my head lightly.
“There is no ice and no wedge of lime in my glass for the sparkling water, and I don’t understand why my coffee is going to be ready in a few minutes when I ordered a tea with cream and half a sugar. My James doesn’t like coffee, he likes tea.” The bloke gaped at me again.
“I – I’ll go and get you some ice and lime now, ma’am. Sorry.” He scampered off.
“Do you have to be so rude to him? He’s older than you are!”
“Yeah, that means that he should know better than to get my order wrong. Honestly, what kind of self respecting waiter can’t even tell the difference between coffee and tea? And wouldn’t coffee with cream be horrible, anyway?” James rolled his eyes.
“And actually, I do like coffee. I just felt like a tea today.” I brushed him off with a quick flick of my hand. The waiter stumbled back to our table with another glass, this time filled nearly to the brim with ice and with a wedge of lime perched on top like a flag on a castle. I sent him a cool smile as he set it down in front of me.
“Um... James?” I said slowly, and he glanced up at me. “You know what you said a minute ago – that you would agree to go to these restaurants with me so that I’d snog you... did you do that a lot? Agree to do things you didn’t like so I’d snog you?”
James nodded, a smirk spreading across his face.
“Of course I would. I mean, I love you, Summer, but you don’t half have a temper on you, and you tend to get very pissed off when people don’t agree with you. So I would go along with whatever you wanted, because otherwise you wouldn’t snog me. And I liked snogging you. So I just did whatever you wanted.” I stared down at my napkin.
“I – I didn’t know that you did that.” I said slowly. “Is my temper really that bad?” It was a question that had been burning on my lips for days – everyone seemed to commenting on my temper lately. I mean, I know I get pissed off quite a lot, but... is my temper really that terrible?
“Yes, yes it is,” James laughed, and I blinked up at him. “Summer, I’ve seen you punch someone in the nose because they made a comment about your ass when they thought you couldn’t hear them, turn from happy to furious in less than a second, and attempt to throttle a girl because she told her friends that she reckoned she had better hair than you.” I cocked an eyebrow. I didn’t remember doing any of those things.
“Well... just because I like sticking up for myself, that doesn’t mean that my temper is terrible. I would rather be told that I had a temper and am too uncontrollable or whatever than let someone walk all over me. I think not letting people take charge of you is a good thing – but no one else seems to think that.”
James poured himself a glass of water from the pitcher and took a deep sip, before peering at me from over the top of the rim. I swallowed hard.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing that you are willing to stand up for yourself and do so very well – I think it’s actually a very good thing. I’d get pissed off if you were like Penny and didn’t stand up for yourself even if the bloke is a fucking...” James trailed off angrily, but then seemed to recover himself. “But it’s not so much that you’re willing to stand up for yourself – you get so angry and defensive about everything. Sometimes you can’t make a comment without you taking it the wrong way, or you can’t even look at you without you getting angry. Summer, you’re so defensive all the time. Not everyone is trying to screw you over, you know.”
“I – I don’t think that. I just want to... I don’t want anyone to think that they can – I don’t know. I’ve always been like that. I like things done my way, I don’t like people disagreeing with me and I don’t like to be contradicted. I don’t like people to be rude to me, and, as I just showed that waiter, I like certain privileges to be extended to me, basically – well, because I have money.”
James nodded and set down his glass.
“I get what you mean. I mean, there is no point in me telling you that your temper is too bad or something, because you’re not going to change. You’re hot-headed, and you have been as long as I’ve known you. But you need to get into your head that not everyone will agree with all the time, and that isn’t a reason to go off on one.”
“I know – I do know that I get annoyed too easily. But like you said, I’m not going to change. I don’t need anyone else, and I don’t want anyone else to try and muscle their way in on me. That’s why I don’t like change. That’s why I don’t like starting new relationships.”
James nodded, and leant forwards in his chair. He pressed his hands together so he fingers were interlocked and leant his chin down to rest on them.
“Do you trust me?” I blinked a couple of times as James whispered the question, watching the way his lips pursed outwards to form the letter ‘o’ and the way his lips pressed together to formulate the letter ‘m’.”
I didn’t know what to say. Did I trust James? I trusted him more than I trusted anyone else. I trusted him more than I trusted Big Gob Dom, who, don’t get me wrong, I adored... but Merlin, could that girl talk. She could talk the hind leg off a donkey.
And Penny... well, I did trust her. But Penny was so quiet that I always felt awkward trying to have a serious heart to heart with her – well, not that I did heart to hearts. But it would have been even worse, had I tried to confide in her. But I did trust her.
Fred – Fred would accidently give everything away without even meaning to. He always has the best intentions, but sadly, those would go to shit and he’d end up dropping me in it. So no, I didn’t trust Fred as far as I could kick him. Connor was the person that I trusted the second most out of the lot of them – he was quiet and dependable. But Connor would always give something away if he thought that it was what was best for you.
James would keep his gob shut even if he knew that my secret was most likely going to kill me. He was always there for me... he was my James. He was my best friend.
“Yes. Yeah, I do trust you.” James blinked and ran his hands through his hair, looking a little uncomfortable, with his lip jutting out so he could chew down on it.
“Good, I’m glad,” James said eventually, reaching across the table to take the hand that was fiddling with the edge of my napkin. I resisted the urge to grin like a twat and glanced down at my knees so he wouldn’t see the twitching of my lips.
“What? That I trust you but you don’t trust me?”
“Not the second part, so much, but the first part, yes. I always worry that you don’t trust me. I worry that you don’t fancy me anymore, I worry that you’re pissed off with me, I worry that you’re seeing someone else, or snogging someone else, or even shagging someone else. I worry that you’re going to get hurt, or that you’re not eating enough, or that your friends are so obsessed with their boyfriends at the moment that you’re feeling lonely. I worry that you’re going to get bored with me.” I gaped at him.
“I – I – do you really worry that much? Seriously? James, you’re either going to get wrinkles or shoot your blood pressure through the roof.”
James grinned and stood up, dragging his chair across the floor with the back of one of his feet. He stopped it when he was right next to me and pulled me down onto his chest, his hand still grasping mine.
“I’m always going to worry about you. I worry because I don’t trust you, and I never have any idea what you could be doing... or who you could be doing.” His voice dropped near the end, and I wondered whether I was supposed to hear him.
I opened my mouth to snap back about me not being a whore, and could he stop talking about me like one, when I remember what he had said about not everything having to piss me off. I clamped my lips shut and wondered what I could say that would be a nice, calm response.
Nothing came to mind.
Well, you know what they say – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So I pressed my lips shut and didn’t open them again. That is, until the silence started creeping James out and he decided to shatter it like glass.
“Um, Summer? Cat got your tongue or something? Aren’t you going to elbow me or scowl at me or swear at me or snap at me... or something? Anything? Why are you being so calm? You’re freaking me out. Freak out, Summer! Freak out! I don’t like you being calm – oh, what is happening to the world?” James clapped a hand to his forehead and laid his face down on the table.
I blinked down at the back of his head and rolled my eyes, shooting an ironic smile at the nosy old folks on the next table. Maybe they were staring because James had been screaming, but still... no need to stare.
Their parents clearly never taught them proper manners. Hmmp.
“No, I just... you said that I overreact too much. So here I am. Not overreacting. Being nice and calm. Like that bloke that meditates and wanders around in a robe banging a giant gong in a temple. You know the one I mean, right? Nice and calm.”
“You’re so weird,” James grumbled into the tablecloth, and I patted him on the back of the head.
“James, how many girls have you slept with?” James’ head flew off the table and damn near hit me, and only didn’t do so because I jumped out of the way and nearly fell out of my chair. I am such a cool diva. Really – coordination: 20 points. Yep.
“What?! You can’t just go around and ask things like that! You – that is personal information! You can’t just drop it into conversation like it’s no big deal or something – you just... you can’t ask things like that! How many guys have you slept with, anyway?”
I blinked and smirked, kicking my feet up so I could rest my legs across James’ lap.
“I thought you just said that you can’t ask things like that.”
“I was wrong – you can ask things like that. Now answer the question, Summer.”
“Are you going to answer me?”
“Not until you’ve answered.”
“Fine, then. But first, you have to tell me how many guys you think I’ve been with.” James suddenly looked very uncomfortable.
“I don’t know – I honestly don’t. I mean, you do kind of have a reputation for being very big on the whole ‘love thy neighbour’ thing, so... I really don’t know. Just tell me.”
“James, I’ve only been with two guys. Two. And I’m eighteen in a few months.” James nodded and smirked, wrapping his arm around my shoulder.
“Whilst that is low in comparison to the rest of Hogwarts, I’m afraid I’ve won. I’ve only ever been with one girl.” I gasped and yanked my head off his chest, launching forwards so hard that I nearly smacked myself into the face with the water pitcher.
James cocked an eyebrow at me.
“Are you honestly asking that question? You know full well who I’ve been with.” Oh yeah... Natalie. Boo. “Who are the two that you’ve slept with – I assume that one is Andrew. Who is the other one? It’s not...” James trailed off, looking a little worried.
“It’s not who?” I asked gently.
“It’s not... Goldstein, is it? Jack the Prat?” he confirmed in response to my questioning glare.
“What? No – no, I didn’t sleep with Jack. I would have, I think, if he had wanted to – but he said right from the beginning that he wanted to take our ‘physical relationship’ ‘slow’” I rolled my eyes.
“What’s wrong with him? I would have shagged you years ago if you’d let me. But you... didn’t. Prudey McPrudekins.”
“Prudey McPrudekins? Erm, James – I’ve slept with more people than you have.” James rolled his eyes again and shook his head.
“Well played, Lancaster. Anyway, you never answered the question – who is the other bloke you slept with, other than Andrew? And I always knew I didn’t like him – well, I started to feel a little sorry for him after to cursed that gargoyle into following him around the castle, trying to whack him over the back of the head.”
“Oh, that was funny. Besides, he’d been the one that called me a bitch in front of everyone – he had to pay the price.”
“Right... remind me not to get on your bad side any time soon,” James said slowly. “And anyway, you haven’t answered the question – who was it?”
“Do you remember the bloke I was dating before I got with Andrew – Callum Whatshisface? Yeah, it was him. I was with him for a month, slept with him, he dumped me, Fred beat the shit out of him for me, so I got with Andrew, was with him for eight months, slept with him, we split, summer happened, and then I started snogging you. That’s the history of Summer.” James grinned.
“So you’ve been with me technically longer than you’ve been with anyone else?”
“No – because I’ve never been with you. I’ve snogged you longer than I’ve ever snogged anyone else. Where is that goddamn waiter with our food? I may launch a complaint with the manager.”
“If you do, I am walking out. They’ll spit in our food.”
“They wouldn’t dare.”
“Summer, they’re probably already going to gob in it. You nearly made that poor waiter piss his pants.”
“Well, he should probably go and get his bladder checked, shouldn’t he?”
“That’s not the point!”
“I think it is the point.”
“Are you arguing with me? Do I have to get the gargoyles on you?”
“No! No, we’re fine.”
“You are such a Gryffindor,” I sighed, laying my head down on James’ shoulder as we strolled up Lancaster Hill towards my house. I could see a black dot illuminated against the window of the first living room, and I realised that my mother was watching us. What is my life?
“And sometimes you’re not enough of one – you’ve got the brave, reckless, courageous and daring and all that shit – but you always seemed more like a Slytherin to me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Summer, but you’re kind of selfish. And you tend not to think about others. And you’re probably the most cunning person I know – and you always look out for yourself. Slytherins are brave too, you know – it’s just a different kind of brave. They’re brave when it comes to themselves. Gryffindors – take Fred, for example. He’s one of the bravest guys I know. He’ll risk having the stuffing beaten out of him to stand up for any of you girls. He beat up Callum for you, he beat up Kane for Penny, he’s beat up more of Dom’s ex-boyfriends than I can count. He’s a true Gryffindor.”
“I love Fred, I really do. He’s as nutty as squirrel poo but I do adore him. Him and Penny as a couple are pretty much the cutest thing going.”
“Yeah, I suppose...”
“What? Do you not like Fred and Penny as a couple?”
“No! No, I do.”
“Then what is it?”
“Is it their couple name? Because I know Frennie isn’t anywhere near as exciting as ConDom, but –”
“Summer, it’s nothing to do with their couple name. I just – I’m worried about Fred. Penny is one of the sweetest, shyest girls I have ever met. She’s an absolute angel, she really is. It’s just... he’s never been in love before.”
“Love? Do you really think that Fred is in love with her?”
“I do. I think he’s been in love with her for a while – just think about how good he’s been to her. For fuck’s sakes, Fred was one of the biggest players in the school and he’s been with Penny for quite a while – but they haven’t had sex.”
“No, they haven’t. And it’s because he doesn’t want to do anything that could possibly fuck up their relationship. He’s in love with her, Summer.”
“That is so sweet!”
“Did you just call something sweet?”
“Shut up. We’ll never speak of that again. And why is the fact that he’s in love with her a bad thing – you’ve got a pained expression on your face.” James frowned and mussed up the mess of hair on his head. I tucked myself further into his side.
Winters in England are far too fucking cold.
“Because Fred is essentially a child – he knows he’s in love with her, but... Penny was in a very serious, very complicated relationship with Kane. And it will take a while for her to let herself fall in love with him again. I hope – I hope if he does drop the L-bomb soon then he doesn’t get too crushed when she doesn’t say it back.”
“Do you really not think that she wouldn’t say it back?”
“No, I don’t think she would.”
“I know. “
We had reached the top of the hill by this point, the searing stitch in my side a testament to that, and James had begun to look a little awkward. He was shuffling his feet across the gravel and peering anxiously at his watch.
“What time is it?”
“A little after four o’clock, why?”
“Just curious. Is a girl not allowed to ask the time anymore?”
“No, no – she is. Erm... right. Well, have a nice evening.” I rolled my eyes and pulled my wand out of my pocket, charmed the door open and stepped into the porch. James followed suit and leant against the brick wall behind him.
“You too. I probably won’t see you until we go back to Hogwarts, so if you get there before I do, don’t forget to get a nice compartment. I’m not bunking with Scorpius like we had to in September. I’m still scarred from the blonde bint that he was ‘dating’ that tried to ask me at what age would Scorpius like to get married and have children.” James laughed loudly.
“The girls really do go batshit over your cousin. I hope him and Rosie sort things out. He’s a good bloke, deep down, and I know she wants to be with him. I’m just sad he’s given up on her after all this time.”
“Well, he tried for months to get her to forgive him and just go on one date with him, but she wouldn’t. I don’t blame the bloke for not wanting to be rejected anymore.”
“Well, my granddad chased after my grandma for years until she eventually said yes – and they ended up married and with a son. Maybe he shouldn’t give up so easily. Anyway, I should really get going – goodbye, Summer.”
I leant forwards, wrapped my arms around James’ neck and gave him a chaste peck on the cheek.
disclaimer: none of this belongs to me. nothingggggg. yes, with six 'g's. not velcro, and not dungeons and dragons.
RIGHT, before i forget ~ and i want ya'z all to be honest, naww ~ do you reckon i should do a being summer sequel? right, i only ask because i am really not sure. i was never planning to, but then stupid little plot thingies keep popping into my head and i think 'hey, i'll put that into the sequel', and then i'm like 'NO! i'm not doing a sequel!' and then i end up arguing in my head. i dunno. so yeah, in your opinion, being summer and sequel (staying summer, anyone? nah, jokes) or just an eppy-loggy at the end? TELL MEEEEE.
oh, and this chapter is for kelsey. because she was my 900th review for dis storay. you're an angel. and it's also for voldys_moldy, for being my 1500th review as an author :D
thank you for all the amazing reviews, and please keep them coming!
ellie :) xx