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A/N: Hi! I'm trying something a little different with this story so I would really appreciate some support. *Cough*Reviews*Cough*! :)
Also, JKR owns everything. Except, not my original characters and the plot.
A Demon From The Past
My first day working for Ginny Weasley. Can life get any better than this? Ok, it can. But, bottom line, I’m very happy being right where I am now.
Well... At least I thought so.
* * *
When I was a child, my goal was to become famous. Just that. It didn’t matter how. I was sure I’d find a way.
It all began with a dream, actually.
It was me, standing on a big shiny platform, and in front of it-masses of people. They were all screaming, their faces glowing from a sense of respect and admiration. And I thanked them. I thanked them for, I quote, ’knowing my name’.
It was bizarre. But what was even more strange was the fact that it felt perfectly normal to me.
From that moment on, it slowly grew into an obsession.
And I was fascinated with people that were already famous, too. I wanted to get near them, just in case popularity was somehow contagious.
I was just a child, ok? Children believe in all kinds of shit. So, don’t judge me! I’m sure you believed in Santa and in fairies, too.
And then, one day, I discovered my future heroine.
It was worshipping at first sight.
The seventeenth of April, 2010
"Mum, who is this?" I pointed my tiny finger at a ’Daily Prophet’ picture of a beautiful young woman with fiery red hair.
She was holding a Quidditch cup and smiling broadly into the camera.
"Oh, that? It’s an old picture of Ginny Weasley."
The name rang trough my ears, leaving me with a sense of wonderment and curiosity.
I couldn’t stop then. Questions just poured out, like I always had them somewhere in the back of my mind.
Wife of Harry Potter. Mother of James, Albus and Lily Potter. The senior correspondent for the Daily Prophet. Ex Holyhead Harpies player.
She was just about everything I dreamed of becoming. Not that I wanted to marry Harry Potter. I mean, he was old. ( Not old-old. Just too old for me. ) But, I wanted to be a good wife, mother, have a sizzling career and be-well, famous, of course.
For the rest of my life.
As a result of my worshipping, I tried to befriend James Potter back at Hogwarts, ’cause he was in my year.
Let’s just say it didn’t really work out.
* * *
The twenty first of December, 2022
"You-you-you poor excuse for a boy!" I yelled at a confused James, who was standing in our living room and trying to get away safely.
Or at least remotely safe.
"What are you on about?" He lifted his hands in attempt to shield himself from my sudden physical attack.
That’s when I bursted into tears.
"You will never understand, James Potter! ’Cause you are that self-absorbed and dense!"
I stormed off to my Head Girl dorm, shutting the door behind me very loudly and very aggressively.
At that point, my wish to be James’ friend turned into this wild desire to destroy him.
Ok, it wasn't that bad.
What I really wanted to do was to have my little revenge. And I thought, what a better revenge than beating him in the one area he so dominated.
So ok, I was the biggest anti-talent for playing it. But I figured, I had another way.
So, my fascination with Ginny Potter, my new-found hate towards her first-born son and my talent for the written word suddenly combined themselves and drew out my future perfectly.
And I knew just where I was headed.
And I knew I would succeed.
* * *
The twenty fifth of August, 2028
"Jill, you got a letter!" My dad yelled from downstairs.
My heart stopped pounding. Or was it really pounding too fast for me to comprehend it?
When I gained back my ability to walk or even think, I ran downstairs furiously. I snatched the letter from my father and ripped the top of in a split of a second.
"Sweetheart, calm down. You’re going to get a heart attack."
My dad’s the kind of person everyone should have in their lives. He’s a calmer. The quiet and wise guardian. An oracle.
So anyway, I focused my attention on the note, all feelings gone but anticipation.
And there, written in very ugly English handwriting, was presented the course of the rest of my life.
I dropped the paper, face blank, hands shaking.
"What is it, Jill? You’re scaring me."
I turned my head towards the man who gave me life and, at the same time, the very stupid name Tatum Jillian Kenward... And I realized I adore him for everything.
But mostly because he was there so I could trow myself at him.
"I got it!"
"You did?" He said loudly, even though I had a feeling I was suffocating him.
But I had no intention of letting him go.
I was happy.
I was so happy.
I was too happy for someone who wanted to become the next Queen at some point in her life.
But I didn’t care. Somehow, I thought, this was perfect. This was supposed to happen. This was my destiny.
Even though it started out as my wish for the ultimate revenge, it ended up being my ultimate goal.
I wanted to work with Ginny Weasley.
I wanted to write about Quidditch.
And I wanted to forget about the prick that James Potter once was.
But, of course, Merlin didn’t want to give me the pleasure of just being god damn happy!
Merlin apparently wanted me to meet my worst nightmare. Not once. But, all of the time.
I mean... I’m just wondering...
Why freakin’ me?!
* * *
The first of September, 2028, Today
"Jill. Wake up. Wake up, Jill."
I turn on my side, just so my ears aren’t that close to the sound that I imagine is a buzzing and highly annoying fly.
But then the sound suddenly gains a body and shakes me with it’s hands. Too harshly, may I add.
If you can't follow, I just asked-"What do you want?"
"For you to get your sweet arse up!"
"For the love of Merlin, just get up already!"
The body with the annoying sound for a voice lifts my blanket from underneath and above me, which results in my oh-so-graceful fall to the ground.
Finally, I open my eyes, turn around and see my angry looking room-mate Ash squeezing the blanket.
She takes my life more serious than I do. Really. It's kind of sad, when you think about it.
"How much?" I yawn.
"Are you kidding me?! Dress up! And no breakfast for you, lazy-arse! Go!"
I moan, as I get up from the floor.
Ash, who is by the way so lucky to have such a simple, common name, works in the Gringotts bank, but the night shift. So, even though she has the mornings completely free she gets up in the dawn, for Merlin’s sunglasses!
I really don’t understand her.
With her black hair all over her face and her piercing gray eyes, she looks quite scary most of the time. And especially when she’s angry at me. Which actually is-most of the time.
I don’t remember why I choose her for my roommate in the first place.
Oh, right. She cooks and I absolutely don’t.
Well, something’s gotta give.
Luckily, I already picked out what I’ll wear, yesterday. So, here's to hope I won't be that late.
Yes, I’m excited.
I have the right to.
It’s been five years since I started working as a journalist. I went from 'Daisy’s Daisies' to 'Witch Weekly'. And, trust me, it was not a delightful ride.
It was horrid.
To say the least.
But I’m finally here. And that’s all that counts.
When I dress up, I take a look at the mirror.
If you happen to see me on a street, I’m pretty sure you won’t remember me.
My dark-brown hair falls down my back in loose curls, my slightly big forehead covered with straight bangs, almost black eyes hidden behind modern glasses and my plump lips the only thing that really stands out.
Even my figure is forgettable. I have boobs but not big ones, my legs are not model-long, but not short either. I’m curved but not in that awesome-hot-mega-foxy way. Just... ordinary.
Yeah, that’s a way to describe me.
Well, at least physically.
I may or may not have some issues that are in no way near ordinary.
But, I’ll get to that later.
I frown as Ash comes back into my room and gazes at me, crossing her arms and leaning against the door-frame.
"You can say that again." She nods.
I’m actually a little offended she doesn’t even pretend to protest.
But then again, it’s Ash I’m talking about. Why do I even expect that from her?
She goes to pat my back.
"Don’t worry, it’s not the looks that count. It’s the brains."
"Yey, I’m so happy about that." I fake my enthusiasm.
She rolls her eyes.
"Will you leave already!? You are seriously slower than a sick slug! You should consider casting a permanent accelerate spell on yourself."
I gape at her.
"Just think about it. That's all I ask."
She then shoves me outside my room so she can get her love life frustrations out by maniacally cleaning our flat.
Probably, more times than one.
Yes, I’m not the only one with issues here. Ash is the 'likes bad boys but doesn’t know why' type of girl. I pity her.
Yeah, like I was never in love with the bad boy himself.
I’m such a hypocrite.
I apparate myself in front of the Daily Prophet building. Over the years, it has gotten bigger and shinier. Meaning, perkier. They really need to find a new architect and rebuild this place. Like, immediately.
The crowd, the hast, the noises. Now, this is what I live for. Adrenaline.
I put on my brightest smile and marsh to the glass doors that open up even before I near them completely, saying in a seemingly happy voice-"Welcome to the Daily Prophet."
I am sure the day can’t get any better.
And almost at the exact same moment, I am shown it really can’t, when someone pushes me to the floor, forcefully.
I moan. But unlike with Ash, nobody yells or says anything. I lift my head up only to see a tall male figure disappearing down the hallway in a hurry.
I look at my watch. Uh-oh. This is not good. I get up and start running myself, all the way hoping that my luck will turn around.
I have a feeling I’m running for a decade, when I spot it. The door of Ginny Weasley’s office.
Ok, it’s not that bad. It’s only seven minutes. It’s bearable. Right?
I walk closer to the black door, the color making them look even heavier than they really are. I feel like they're pressing down my soul.
As I nervously take the lock in my shaking hand, I hear her powerful voice echo inside.
"I can’t believe you’re late for your job! How irresponsible is that?!"
I gulp, believing that my life is finally and rightfully over.
Stupid comfy pillow! I swear, I’m going to sleep on a piece of wood, from now on. So I won’t be able to oversleep. Ever again. But when I look at how this situation is developing, maybe it won't even matter.
I can’t get in. I’m going right back to Witch Weekly. To Blossom White and her pink nails.
Oh, no. I’m not that desperate.
I put on a brave face not feeling brave in any way, though, and knock on the door shyly.
The yelling immediately stops. And I am met with dead, cold silence. There's just me and my pounding heart.
I take one deep breath and step in, hoping for some miracle or something.
I don’t know!
It can happen!
The office is spacious and filled with golden-like cups and piles of old 'Daily Prophets'. There are tons of wonderful ways to describe this glorious place. But, sincerely, at this moment all I see is her.
I was already here once, when I had my interview. But it still impresses me. This is where I want to work, too. But judging from the look on my boss’ face, I’m beginning to doubt that will ever happen.
"Yes?" Ginny Weasley asks, her right eyebrow raised.
I’m too nervous to take a better look at the figure standing in the shadowy corner, so I just focus on her.
"I’m..." My voice sounds like a rusty machine trying to break trough a very thick piece of wood. "I’m your new assistant."
I finally succeed to splutter.
What a surprise. She’s still frowning. Oh, dear Merlin. Save me!
"Um... Tatum Kenward." I offer.
Just then, the dark figure starts to laugh and almost squeals.
"I thought you looked familiar!"
I know that voice. I have had nightmares about it. It is buried deep into in my mind. Even thought I tried to erase it. It never worked. I was even thinking about some potions...
That's how desperate I was to forget it.
My throat is sore.
"You know her?" My boss doesn’t seem angry any more, but looks slightly intrigued.
I celebrate this fact with a little dance inside of my mind, in spite of him.
The figure finally steps out of the dark and I feel a pair of strong arms griping me tightly.
And by the time he steps back to have a better look at me, I know this is probably the worst day of my life since I saw him kissing Juliet Watson on our seventh year Pre-Christmas Ball.
"What’s up, Tatum?"
I force a smile, sensing all of the anger I repressed somewhere deep down for so many years surfacing back again in those two words I spurt out.
Chapter 2: What Goes Around... Comes Back In The Scary Form Of Rose Weasley
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Hi all! Thank you for reading, so much!
I really enjoy writing this so I hope you enjoy it as much.
I don't own anything. Only Tatum and some other new characters.
Ok, now on to the story!
What Goes Around... Comes Back In The Scary Form Of Rose Weasley
The first of September, 2016
I was watching in zest as the cold water flickered, burned by the September sun. The small waves that the boats made resembled a colony of soldiers ready to fight the enemy. In this case, wooden objects carrying children too elated and too unruly.
That’s when Willow Lynch fell into the deep blue.
And that’s how we met.
You know how you search for your soulmate, just to see if those kind of things really exist?
Well, I did the exact same thing. Only, I didn’t expect it to turn out to be a girl.
Hagrid pulled the choking girl from the water, her previously messy brown hair now a straight line following her rounded face.
The other children giggled or laughed. I’m ashamed to admit that I did too.
I was only eleven, ok? People make mistakes all the time, especially when they’re small and think Santa or Merlin rule the world ( Or both of them. Together! Wow, now that would be wicked! ).
I’m a Halfblood. That might clear up my messed up world to you a bit more. Or maybe not.
When Hagrid silenced the children, I took a glimpse at Willow. I felt a connection, almost instantly. I can’t fully explain why.
Maybe it were her taunting blue eyes, maybe it was her broken smile. Or maybe it was the fact that I could totally picture myself beginning school in the exact same way. Embarrassing myself.
Two boats away, a boy already had everyone forgetting about Willow’s water incident.
I later found out that this was the one I was so looking forward to meet and befriend.
He was giving away bags of WWW’s products, making the rest of the boys whistle in amazement and the girls swoon in, well, again-amazement.
And for a moment, he made me forget about Willow too.
In a slip of a second, in a moment of his boredom maybe, he looked away from the unruly group surrounding him.
And just like that, our eyes met for the first time.
There were no drum rolls, no firework, no... anything. But that didn’t stop me from later on believing that we were meant to be.
The moment ended just like it had began, in a split of a second, leaving me with a strange feeling that I couldn’t explain.
I turned to glance at Willow again. She was shaking. I took off my jacket and handed it to her. She smiled in a very grateful and gentle way.
"No problem. So what’s your name, Lake girl?"
She smiled shyly. "Willow Lynch."
I took out my hand and shook hers. "Tatum Kenward. And if you even try to joke about my name... I’ll be suddenly needing my jacket back."
She didn’t stare at me. She didn’t look confused like most children that talked to me.
Instead, she laughed. In a lively, joyful way.
As we got near the castle, one thought crossed my mind. And it wasn’t about the brown-reddish haired boy sitting two boats away. It was about my future best friend and made of honor ( She will be. If I ever succeed in getting someone to marry me. ).
"I like this girl."
* * *
The third of September, 2017
"I hate this girl!"
Willow sighed putting away her pumpkin juice and rolled her eyes at me.
"You hate her only because you heard rumors that she might be getting into their team. Seriously, Jill, I’m beginning to think you have issues. Like, really big ones."
I still continued to stare at the said girl.
The beautiful (snort) girl who just moved from France ’cause her father got a job in our Ministry.
Everyone wanted to know if she was a veela. Please, like being French automatically makes you a veela too.
As it later turned out, Monique really was a veela. Well, at least half of her was. And as it also turned out, I was right to fear her.
Monique was James’ first girlfriend.
"I mean, I don’t get it! What does he see in her?!"
Willow looked at me in a way that could only mean-'Do you really want to know? ’Cause there’s plenty of it.'
"Ok! Fine." I said trowing my arms in the air as a sign of surrender. "She’s gorgeous. I mean, no one’s gorgeous at twelve. And she is! But let’s move beyond her looks..."
"Jill, please, stop. They’re not even on the team yet!" Will was just beginning to get mad.
It occurred on a regular basis. It was one of the many delightful perks of being my friend. She channeled my anger better than I did.
"There is, you know, the possibility that one of them won't get in."
FYI, they both did.
I sighed. "I hate my life."
"Why, because a boy with who’s mother you’re obsessed isn’t dating you?"
And the anger just grew and grew...
I frowned. "You know, sometimes the things you say hurt."
Until it exploded in that one sentence even she knew was maybe too much.
"You know, sometimes I wonder why you’re not in St. Mungo’s yet."
Yep. Even my best friend would’ve sent me away. That’s how obsessed I was at that time.
"Fine! I’ll stop obsessing over a boy who doesn’t even know I exist."
I didn’t do it.
Actually, it only became worse with years of stalking James.
Don’t freak out! It wasn’t like that!
Ok, it totally was.
But, still... I wish Willow was more supportive sometimes.
* * *
The fifteenth of September, 2017
"So she’s on the team. Big deal!"
We were sitting at the Hufflepuff table this time around.
It wasn’t exactly forbidden sitting at a table that wasn’t your house’s. But some of the natives were sometimes too protective of their home colors. So, it was still wise to avoid doing this. But considering the fact that practically no one knew who Will and I were at that time, it was a safe and fun tradition to follow.
"I mean, let’s be realistic here, Jill. Of all the girls at Hogwarts, the chances he chooses Monique are, like, almost zero. But deal with it, he is going to find a girlfriend eventually. And, sorry for being so harsh, but the chances a bookish Slytherin who has a crush on him and his mother will be the said girlfriend are even below zero."
I kinda wish I listened to her.
Not that being ignored and overlooked by James for several years wasn’t fun. But maybe, just maybe, I could have lived without it.
* * *
The first of September, 2028, Today
I wish Willow is here now instead of in China. Maybe she can enlighten me why I’m doing this. Again. Why I’m feeling like he just stabbed my heart with a Mount Everest sized knife. When I should be shooting him death glares and swearing out all the dirtiest words that mankind has ever thought of.
James just smiles in that charming way he always does, ignorant of what is playing out in my mind.
"Wow, Tatum. It’s been a long time."
My boss coughs intentionally so her son would fill her in.
"Oh, mum. Sorry." He turns to his mother.
But then suddenly he takes my hand and drags me right in front of her desk. The closest that I have ever been to her. I don’t know what makes me sweat more. The great Ginny Weasley just inches away from my face or James’ hand squeezing mine.
Merlin, am I a weirdo or what?
"Tatum was in my year. In Slytherin. And she was also the Head Girl." James explains.
"Oh, so you lived together in your seventh year?"
That sounded kind of wrong. But my boss doesn’t seem to think so.
James nods his head furiously.
"And I think she may have had just a tiny crush on me back then."
I haven’t imagined that, right? He said it.
Merlin, seriously, why?
Mrs Ginny smiles shaking her head in clear amusement. "James, you think every girl has a crush on you."
"Well, am I right or not?" James puts his hands on his hips, making him resemble his mother in a strangely charming way.
They both look at me curiously.
Oh my God! This can’t be happening for real!
No, no, no!
Just when I’m about to start rolling on the floor in a tantrum-like attack, a knock on the door breaks the silence.
Thank you, Merlin! Thank you!
A handsome chocolate-skinned man walks in. "Mrs Potter, Mrs Knightly wants to ask you something about the column..."
"Coming." My boss nods her head.
The man does too and leaves, shutting the door in hurry.
"Sorry, children." My boss gets up from her power stool and shrugs. "Have to go. But when I come back, we will discuss your schedule, your duties and, of course, your tardiness."
She gazes at James especially long and heads out, leaving us...
Just the two of us.
This is in no way awkward.
* * *
James insists that we go get some 'good old' coffee. I try to avoid the situation by explaining (laying) that I have a 'fragile' bladder. But that doesn’t halt James.
So, here we are, sitting in the 'Daily Prophet' canteen, sipping the black sugar-free drinks that practically make themselves, together.
Magic is totally wicked. Did I ever say that?
James speaks like we are still seventeen and with no care in the world. Well, at least he didn’t have any. And he, of course, doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing to me right now.
It’s funny how history repeats itself.
Actually, no, it is not funny. Sorry for not having a sense of humor when it comes to fate’s crappy ways.
"So tell me, Tatum, what brings you here?" He smirks, pressing his wrist on his cheek and leaning his elbow against the table.
"Well... work." I say lamely.
James rolls his deep brown eyes, with just a few specks of gold in them. "I know, but from all of the papers out there and all the sections in them... You choose the Quidditch one in the 'Daily Prophet'. Coincidence?"
He hoists his eyebrows.
I try to maintain a professional face.
So I go with my last resort. The 'changing the subject' emergency escape. "And you? I though you were actually playing Quidditch."
James frowns with a slight smirk visible in the corner of his full lips. "Not smooth, Tatum. But I’ll let it go. For now."
But then, James sighs heavily, taking a quite long look at the floor. "I... I got injured a while back."
I can sense a trace of clear sorrow in his voice.
That’s when Tatum 'I want to be your friend, James.' makes a sudden comeback. "But couldn’t you..."
"No." He smiles weakly and, for a second, I wonder why I was ever angry with him.
That’s how much of power he apparently still has over me.
"Even my brother, the ultimate Healer, couldn’t help. It was one of those almost deathly falls. I should be happy I’m still alive." James finishes, his voice flat.
I stare at him. "You 'should be'?"
It’s the same laughter that made my heart jump on countless occasions. The same laughter that made me think that he was some kind of angel sent to save me (From what, I never really decided.). And other stupid things I though up when I was just a gullible teenager.
"Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t try to kill myself. Just... It wasn’t easy, I guess."
I raise an eyebrow at him.
"Ok, it was totally the worst period of my life. But, it still goes on. And this is the second best thing I can get."
"Writing?" I ask with pure disbelief.
I read a couple of James’, um, 'essays' back at school.
No wonder he asked me to help him write them again.
"What?" He laughs.
"I’m sorry, but it’s really hard to believe you wanna do this." I shrug.
"Tatum, you’re good, I’ll give you that." He then pats my hand slightly.
The shivers I had felt so long ago come back instantly. Like someone had pressed 'pause' on my feelings until I was to meet James again.
But why does it have to be him?!
"What do you mean?" I mutter, my voice sounding like a parrot with a bad cold.
"I didn’t want to do this. In fact, I didn’t want to do anything." James explains, gesturing with his hands madly.
Something that he had a habit of doing back at Hogwarts, too. And, unlike many of his friends, cousins, girlfriends, everyone actually, I found it endearing.
"I was so depressed because of my injury, I was tied to my bed for weeks. My family started a bet on who was going to get me up from it."
I made a slightly disturbed face.
"Don’t worry. It wasn’t that bad. They knew they had to do something to get me rolling again. They just wanted to make sure they do it the best way possible. And when there’s a competition going on, the Potters and the Weasleys come up with the best ideas. Trust me. We like to compete."
"Was there any prize involved?" I ask anxiously.
"Three bags of chocolate frogs. But it really wasn’t as bad as it sounds." He tries to reassure me again. "And it’s my family. We do those kind of things every day."
"So, your mother won?"
I can’t believe my heroine would bet on her son’s sanity. This sheds a whole new light on her vision in my mind.
James shakes his head. "It was my cousin Rose’s idea. So, technically, she won."
I guess everyone has their own level of 'normal' madness. James’ family is just a little more accepting than... well, everyone else.
But, who am I to say what’s crazy? Even though I’m pretty sure,this really is not normal. At least slightly.
"You didn’t even want to work for your uncle George?" I’m confused and curious at the same time.
And yes, I have a huge knowledge of James. Haven’t I said I was obsessed? Do you need me to explain to you the meaning of that word?
I didn’t think so.
"Well, I did thought about it. And this may shock you. But... no."
I am shocked.
"Did I miss something? Because... the last thing I remember is you setting Trelawney’s hair on fire at the end of our seventh year."
"Yeah... good times." James wanders out for a moment with a stupid grin sealed on his face. "But it was always just for fun. I didn’t want to work with my uncle George. This may shock you even more, but Hugo is actually the main prankster in our family."
"That is... peculiar."
We sit in silence.
My body trembles.
I feel like a leaf ready to fall to the ground. Only, I would feel the fall much, much more.
"So... you’ll write." I’m fearing for our unsuspecting readers.
"I don’t think so. I think I’ll be out of here before I even get to write anything. In the end, I’m doing this as it is the most bearable job that my family could think of in this short notice. It’s just until I figure out what I really want to do." He nods his head.
Well, that makes more sense. "You know, it was weird seeing you here. Absurd, actually."
"Well, you don’t have to go that far." He rolls his eyes.
We share a look.
It may sound like it’s natural for me to speak with him. But it really isn’t. I fell like I’m grasping for air in a vacuum filled room.
What am I doing?! I hate James! I can’t let him do this to me!
"I think we should head back to your mum’s office. We’ve already been late once. Wouldn’t be good if we reaped it."
"You’re probably right."
We stand up and our cups immediately levitate away to the kitchen.
This beats regular canteens on so many levels.
James and I stroll down the hallway not looking at each other and not speaking to each other.
Now, this is how most of our 'friendship' played out.
* * *
The eighteenth of November, 2018
James stormed into the Great Hall, looking like some wild animal just tried to eat him alive. Or at least lick him.
Everyone turned to look at him.
Yes, he was quite an attention drawer. That much, I’m sure, you already figured by yourself.
"Anyone..." He muttered while grasping for air at the same time.
Needless to say, it wasn’t the most comprehensive sentence.
"Do you have a spare DADA essay?"
The essay was due in half an hour. And the new teacher was a pain.
Everyone stayed mute. Not even James could beat Mr Cutteridge.
Or could he?
It later turned out that Mr Cutteridge was a slight lover of some forbidden potions that made him angry all the time, so he wasn’t sad because of the death of his wife.
True story. Stuff like this you just can’t make up.
"Um... I have." I raised my hand.
It’s not hard to guess that Willow gave me The Look.
While James was happily heading my way, the two of us had a silent conversation going on.
"What are you doing?!"
"I’m helping him."
"No, your unhelping yourself. Trust me, Jill, you should always come first in your life."
"But, I... I..."
"Do you even realize what Mr Cutteridge will do to you if you don’t hand him that essay?!"
I did imagine it in those thirty minutes before class.
It wasn’t pretty.
James finally stood above me and put his hand on my shoulder. This gesture was as big as I though it could be, considering it was James.
But, he also smiled.
"Tatum." I filled in, amazed that he was even trying to learn my name.
In the mean time, Willow was simulating trowing up in her pumpkin juice cup. I ignored her and gave James the paper.
"Nice to meet you, Tatum. I’m..."
"James. I know.“"I said sweetly.
Maybe it did come of as slightly crazy to him at that time.
"Thanks again. I’ll never forget you did this for me." He winked and ran off to who knows where.
But he did forget.
It took two more years for us to interact again. And it was clear that he had no idea of who I was, what so ever. Even with a name like mine.
As for Mr Cutteridge, I for once had luck. He didn’t show up that day. And the next one it was announced that we’ll be getting a new DADA teacher.
And something I also found out later on was that forgetting people and 'events' was nothing new to James Sirius Potter.
* * *
As James and I continue to 'enjoy' possibly the longest silence it the entire universe, we bump into Mrs Potter right in front of her office.
"There you are, my assistants." She smirks emphasizing the word assistants with joy, before taking both of our hands in each one of hers. "Come with me."
I try not to look at James. So I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m weird all over again.
But, who cares?!
Not even a little.
Not at all.
"Here we are!" My, ok our, boss opens the door with a bright grin plastered all over her face.
That’s when my grim expression turns into a smile so wide that I fear it’ll cut off my ears. And that’s exactly when James’ carefree face starts to look like a poster face for 'bad news acceptor'.
"Oh my God." We say in unison.
But we are actually thinking the exactly opposite things.
The dark ambience with an ancient looking window across from the door, two tables facing each other in the middle, one dusty shelf in the corner and the wall all together covered in Daily Prophet articles cut out from the paper, make this place the most single brilliant space.
Next to boss’ office, of course.
I step inside, speechless.
"I’m... Erm... Speechless." Says James rubbing his chin with an unreadable expression on his face.
"You like it?" His mother smiles warmly with a trace of hope in her voice. "Sure, it needs some fixing..."
"It’s perfect!" I exclaim squealing like a little girl who just got her first Barbie.
Only, I hated Barbies. I kind of liked shaving their heads and pretending they were boy soldiers with girly pink clothes.
I was highly imaginative.
James gives me a look.
It resembles the 'Mate, are you serious?' look. But it can also be 'Chick, you are a complete loony.'
Either way, it doesn’t make me look good.
I send him a 'I don’t care, you Piggish Pig, the Pig of all Pigs.' gaze.
I don’t think he gets it.
"Make yourselves comfortable. I’ll be right back!" Mrs Weasley makes a noise that almost sounds like my previous little outburst.
And so, for the second time today, my boss leaves her promising assistants alone. In an unusually stuffed dark room. With atrociously small amounts of fresh air.
Or is it just air?
James glances at me while I gape at the articles. One figure stands out, just like her flaming red mess for a hair.
"You really like it here, don’t you?"
I slowly turn around to face him.
* * *
The thirteenth of October, 2020
I tried to block the irksome sound out and concentrate on my potion, as my partner was somewhere wandering the halls, not carrying for the 'fucked waste of my life' subject, as she called it, in the slightest.
I finally gave up, highly unnerved, and turned around furiously.
And sure enough, it was him.
James Sirius Potter.
He was smirking in that 'James' way, with his right eyebrow casually lifted up, as to show how he enjoys his life, out and out. And to shove it down everyone’s throats. In this exact case, mine.
But all of a sudden, my heart raced up. My palms became sweaty in a personal record of mine and I felt like I was choking.
It was two years since I last 'spoke' to James. A yet, it felt awfully too long and too short at the same time.
It felt like a different life. One where James 'Everybody loves me!' Potter by some miracle spoke to that weird Slytherin girl with only one Ravenclaw as a friend.
It felt surreal.
But this... This felt even more unrealistic.
I lost myself in his stern eyes that I felt were reaching deep into my soul, looking for something that they couldn’t find anywhere else.
He frowned at my voice like he was trying to collect some old, buried memories from the back of his mind.
I smiled in sweet anticipation.
"Have a spare quill?"
And just like that, my heart was shattered again.
What a pathetic looser I was, right? No, wait, I was a pathetic excuse for a looser.
But I won’t have it any more!
* * *
"What?" He asks through a laugh, his hands stuffed in his pockets, as he slowly sways back and forth in an irksome and calm way.
Of all the questions out there, he asks the most derisive one.
Oh, that little bastard... !
That’s exactly when Rose Weasley chooses to come to her cousin for the 'emergency of the century' crisis.
And as luck will have it I am, according to James anyway, the 'ideal solution'.
I never signed up for this!
Holly crap of all craps out there in this unfair world...
I’m doomed, ain’t I?
* * *
So, ok. I may have had some major evil plot emerging from the back of my mind a few years back. It was the 'how to bring James way down so he never ever gets to see the sun again' plan.
But really, it is so in the past. I mean, it never even played out. So, isn’t karma miscalculating things a bit?
Rose Weasley’s wedding?
I think no one deserves to be punished in this horrid way.
Who’s she, you may ask? And why am I fearing her and her wedding so much?
Let’s go a few memories back down the road...
* * *
The fifteenth of October, 2018
"Oh, and by the way, you know who’s also in the Gryffindor team this year?" Willow tried to hook her sausage with a silver fork she just accio-ed.
"You mean, besides the blot that is Monique Russo?" I fake-smiled.
I wasn’t even trying to make it appear real. Willow would read it anyway.
"Merlin, Jill! Can you not think of her just for a second?!"
Will smiled content with herself and opened her mouth.
"Second’s up! What a pest she is, right?!" I snorted.
Will looked at me in a highly murderous way. She was pissed. No, she was in her 'I’m going to rip your head of if you don’t shut the hell up!' mode.
So, I listened to her. Even though she didn’t say a thing. It was very much implied. Believe me.
"So, you know who’s on the team?" Will said through gritted teeth.
I shook my head in response.
"Rose Weasley! Go figure!"
"Rose?" I asked almost stuttering.
It was known throughout the school that Rose Weasley had temper issues. And not in that 'I’m an angry teenager, leave me alone!' way. It was far more... complex than that, so to speak.
I thought it couldn’t get worse in the anger department. That was, until I met Lily Potter later on.
But that’s not the point. The point is, no one could get near Rose, unless she approved it.
She wasn’t exactly a bully. She wasn’t going around the school lurking scared little first years to bring her frustrations out on them. No.
But, making Rose angry... It was probably the last thing you’d do before booking yourself a bed at the hospital wing for at least two weeks.
So to hear that Rose was on the Quidditch team, and of course as a Beater, made me just a little scared for all the poor bastards up there, playing with her.
"Who let her in? Are they crazy?" I muttered to Will, twirling around to check if anyone could hear me.
Will shrugged. "Dunno. But this may actually make me go watch the matches with you. Finally some decent action going on!"
She smirked right into my face.
As it turned out, Rose was the best Beater the school ever had. She was almost hundred percent accurate in her attacks. Gryffindor won every single cup while she was there.
But, beating her Quidditch opponents was not her only hobby.
Rose was smart. She proved that in her first year, scoring all O’s and making the Potter-Weasley clan proud. She wasn’t the only one to do so. But she was the sweetest.
Until, of course, the second year rolled around. And Rose found out that she, above everything, enjoyed competing (Of course I'm diminishing this.) with Scorpius Malfoy.
* * *
The fourth of March, 2019
"Oh my Merlin!" Willow almost fell out of her chair laughing as she read my article in the 'Daily Hogwarts'.
"It’s not funny." I frowned. "Rose has temper issues. According to sources she is ten times worse than both of her parents combined. And they had anger management problems, too.“
I was really getting into this whole reporter thing. It wasn’t just fun. It was... inspiring.
Ok, so I only wrote about Hogwarts’ scandals. But still.
"Oh, come on, Jill! You have to admit! Rose is a blast! I think we would get along pretty well.“
"Why don’t you go and be her friend then?" I crossed my arms.
Will smirked at me. "You are such a baby, Tate. One day, you’ll fall for a guy... And I mean, really fall, not this whole James nonsense..."
"Hey!" I yelped offended, but she ignored me.
"And when the day comes and you need to take that one step, the step that gets you to your final happiness... You’ll chicken out and crawl back into your baby shell again."
"That’s ridiculous." I raised an eyebrow smugly like I knew better.
"At least Rose goes after what she wants, Jill. You could learn a thing or two from her."
Willow folded the paper just so the picture of Rose carrying a pig-shaped Scorpius on a leash parading through the Great Hall was visible.
"If transforming a nice boy as Scorpius into this is what it takes to be bold, than I’d rather be a muff my whole life." I though to myself.
And I was a muff during my time at school.
Willow wanted me to look up to Rose as she was sure that this girl would achieve something amazing in her life with a will like hers.
I didn’t. But Willow sure did.
My best mate eventually went on to become a Curse breaker, traveling the globe and making me miss her enormously.
She most certainly went on to do great things.
* * *
The fifth of July, 2027
"Mum!" I called out from the living room.
I could hear the dishes clapping and being washed. She always did it by magic. Not letting me do the same in the meantime, of course.
"What has your pretty little head thought up now?" She responded in turn.
"Um... pancakes." I suggested shyly.
"Come on. It isn’t everyday your daughter comes to visit." I said.
"Actually, it is!" Mum yelled from the kitchen.
"Don’t you call me that! You’re sneaky!"
I laughed. "Thanks mum!"
"Urgh, why do I even bother?!"
I flipped trough the channels until reaching 'Wiz News', the first magical television program that was inaccessible to muggles. Unless they were married to one of us. Which was dad’s oh so wicked privilege.
I turned the volume up a little when a picture of Rose Weasley popped up on the big screen.
"...And now, a historical moment, not just for her family but for all witches around the world! This morning, Rose Tonks Weasley became the first woman to be named an Auror after Nymphadora Tonks."
"Oh, wow." I gasped. "Mum, come over here! You have to see this!"
She grumbled but did so. She sat next to me on the couch.
"Rose graduated from Hogwarts in the year 2024 as an excellent student with her strongest subjects being DADA and Transfiguration. Rose is the daughter of famous war heroes Ronald Weasley and Hermione Weasley, former Granger, who didn’t want to comment on these news. Oh wait, my partner tells me that the father actually wanted to say something but Rose wished him not to."
"Women have enormous power over us." The male moderator winked to his partner.
I let out an silent 'ew'.
"As soon, and if ever, Rose decides to comment on her success, you will be the first to know, dear viewers. Now, to Luna Scamander and her Egypt story for today...“
I turned off the TV and glanced at my mother.
"Holy Merlin." She gazed at me with wide eyes."That girl has no boundaries! She can do anything!"
Mum was almost absolutely right. ’Cause Rose really could and still can do lots of stuff. But it appears that staying sane and collected while planning her own wedding is not one of those things.
But, it’s Rose.
Me? I’m not surprised at all.
On the other hand, am I shocked to my socks to hear that she is marrying non other than Scorpius Malfoy himself?
Yes, that I most certainly am.
Another A/N: So, what do you think?
Good, bad, or just plain horrid? :)
Are you surprised at how Rose turned out? And what about her career choice? What do you think will her relationship with Tatum be like? What about Willow? Like her? Hate her? Tell me what your think! :)
Chapter 3: World's Most Idiotic Plan... Again?
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A/N: Hi, you lot! Thanks so much for reading and reviewing so far.
I am so sorry it took me so long to update, but I had some problems with posting the chapter.
But to make it up to you, here's a new chapter! I hope you like it!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
World's Most Idiotic Plan... Again?
Flying into our office, resembling a wild monkey out for it's food, is the Rose Weasley and she furiously launches herself at James. She even succeeds in knocking him, actually them, to the ground.
I step aside, startled and at the same time happy that I was spared by my usually suckish luck.
"Nice to see you too, cousin." James moans from beneath her.
But Rose ignores the whole being polite and saying hi thing.
"WET!" She screams, her face flushed and her ears crimson.
Both James and I frown as we scan Rose for any signs of water, guessing it to be the source of mentioned wet issue.
But there's no such thing. Not even a drop.
"What?" James asks, his voice damped under Rose's weight.
"WET!" She repeats even more fiercely.
"I heard you the first time around! The problem here is that I don't really understand what you're trying to say!"
Rose huffs and finally stands up, releasing James.
That's when we come face to face.
I remember Rose as this tomboyish, tough and petite girl with frizzly red hair and a dangerous bright look. But that's not the Rose that's now standing in front of me.
Even though I can still detect her tough persona and her devilish smirk, Rose Weasley is a woman now. Tall, slender, almost completely speckless and with a winning smile. Her wild hair is now tamed, falling in round, shiny curls down her back and she's not wearing her sweatbands any more. Instead, a dark sparkly fillet is peaking from her bouncy hair. And she's even wearing earrings!
I notice that, for the first time since I've been meeting Rose around the school, she's towering me by a few inches. Thank Merlin she was more petite than myself back at school. That made her at least a bit less frightful.
After gazing at me with no tact what so ever, a wide smile creeps onto her plump lips.
"You're that journalist girl, aren't you?"
Surprised, I look at James, searching for an explanation.
Why would Rose know anything about me besides the fact that I was the Head girl? Even with that, almost no one knew who I was.
James just shrugs.
"Um, yeah. Yes, I am."
Rose suddenly pats my back. I stumble a little. And I realize that no matter how feminine she may look, Rose will always be tough.
I regain my balance fast and try to smile.
"You, like, planted the first seed!" Rose says amazed, staring at me for a moment.
"I'm sorry, what?"
I don't hear her answer as James gets irritated by the fact that no one's paying him attention.
"Not to rain on your parade, Rose. But you were saying something about someone being wet, if I recall correctly."
Rose twirls to her cousin, her long curly hair swinging behind her. It almost looks like it's moving in slow motion. Like, flowing in the wind, shining on the sunlight...
I'm totally not jealous.
Rose laughs loudly. It's the most warm-hearted laugh I've probably ever heard.
"No, silly. Nobody's wet. It's W.E.T.-Wedding emergency thingy." Rose says rolling her eyes like it's the most obvious thing.
A matter of fact everyone ought to know.
"Oh, Merlin." James' face falls immediately. "Rose, couldn't it wait?"
Rose seems like she's thinking his words through for a second.
But it only lasts for so long. "Well... No. Come on! I'm the bride! You're all engaged in pleasing my every wish. It even says so in our contract."
She finishes smugly.
James sighs. "Rose, there's no such thing as..."
"You're getting married?" I cut James' speech short because I'm slightly...
Hm, what's the word?
Dumb-struck. Yeah, I think that's it.
Not that Rose isn't bride material. Just, I never pictured her doing all these traditional lady-like things.
Rose squeals(!), I presume because she's happy that she can gush about her love life to yet another person.
"Yes! Isn't it great?!"
I nod my head slightly and her eyes turn to an even lighter shade of blue.
"And guess who it is! I bet you, you won't be right." She smiles like a little girl who just got her first Barbie doll.
Even though I can't imagine Rose Weasley ever being fascinated with such girly toys.
I don't even open my mouth and Rose is already shrieking.
I'm left speechless.
Not in a 'Oh, that so weird.' way. But in a 'Aliens have just danced in pink bikinis in front of me and asked for an autograph.' kind of way.
Translated... What the bloody heck?!
Because, I seem to remember her yelling at Scorpius in the Great Hall that she'd rather not marry at all than have to spent her eternity with a snobbish self-centered, pretentious, cold jerk like him.
Forgive me if it comes as a surprise to me.
Plus, now that I think about the idea, I wonder how all the people around her can handle her temper right now. Weasley anger management issues plus all the craziness that comes with planning a wedding... How is her family even still breathing?
"Oh." Is all I manage to utter after a long pause.
Rose begins to laugh, her curls flying all over her shoulders.
"I was expecting such a reaction. You were the one that wrote about our incidents, after all."
Incidents? She calls them 'incidents'?
Boy. Rose Weasley obviously has no real idea about her past deeds' epic proportions.
"I'm a little surprised, yes."
"I'm sorry." James bounces into the conversation again and Rose decides to give him the time of the day again.
"Rose, as you can see, we are working. I have no time to help you."
"No buts!" James interrupts her trying to look all stern and serious and fails completely. "Besides, I'm not your crisis-to-go-man, either."
"I know that." Rose rolls her eyes again.
I have a feeling she does that a lot when with James.
"But my W.E.T. man is currently unavailable. That's why I'm here to begin with."
"And why exactly is he unavailable?" James scans Rose's face as if trying to dig deeper into her story and find a way out for himself.
"'Cause... He is the W.E.T."
"Albus is what?"
Rose sighs shaking her head. "I can't go to Al for my problem, because... he's the problem."
"Oh." James suddenly smirks while crossing his arms on his chest. "I think I'm going to like this. Do carry on, dearest cousin."
Rose bites her lip like she is revaluating her decision to tell James about the whole thing. And who blames her, really?
"Al doesn't have a date for the wedding."
A silent moment passes.
But it is immediately followed by James' hysterical laughter.
"It's not funny." Rose glares at him with passion.
"No. You're right." James wipes a tear from his eye. "It's just sad. I mean, the bloke's been single since the year of 2005!"
"You mean, from the day he was born?" I frown.
"Exactly!" James nods his head at me. "He's almost 23 years old now. At the prime of his life. And what does he do? Marries his career. It's pathetic, really."
"Hey!" Rose points her index finger in his way, not amused. "Just because you haven't found your dream job yet, doesn't mean we should all loose passion for ours."
She then crosses her arms tightly.
I remember her like this. Feisty, tough, 'Don't cross my path when I'm angry!' Rose. She's still got it.
James blinks a few times, the comment obviously not leaving him indifferent.
"But Al's gone too far and you know it."
Rose shakes her head at her cousin and turns to look at me. "Let's not bother Tatum with our ridiculous family issues."
But the moment he lands his warm eyes on me, they get this glorious spark I never saw before. It makes me feel uneasy.
His face turns into one gigantic smile.
"What?" I stutter, fear creeping in my veins.
I have a bad feeling about this. Why else would James smile so maniacally at me?
"Tell us, Tatum.."
He strolls over to me and plucks his hand over my shoulders.
It was so long ago that I felt his touch like this. Well, it wasn't completely like this. It was...
"What are you doing on September the thirteenth?" James interferes with my thoughts.
I glance at him confused. But then, realization hits me like a stick over my head.
* * *
I have one very distinct memory of Albus Severus Potter.
The seventeenth of October, 2021
"Will, can you please not chew into my ear?!" I glared at her while attempting to concentrate on my writing.
"Wha-? I no- doin- tha-." She muttered, her mouth full of food.
I swear, I sometimes thought all that Willow did was eat. And still, she managed to be so fit. I just didn't get it.
I still don't, by the way.
I raised an eyebrow at her.
She sighed. "Ok, fine."
She mumbled a bit more before inching away from me to give me some space.
"What are you writing anyway?" She tried to peak at my article.
"The usual." I smile. "You should try it. It's fun."
"What, writing about James' love life is fun to you?" She said after reading what I wrote.
"Er, ok. Not that particular subject, no. It isn't fun, at all. But other than that, it's a thrill!"
Willow sighed again. "I really thought you'd go for something else."
"What do you mean?" I looked at her, confusion attached to my face.
"I never pictured you as a journalist."
Cue awkward silence.
"I didn't mean to insult you or anything." Willow attempted to redeem.
"I just thought we'd go on wild adventures together." Her eyes lit up. " You and I, traveling the world, hunting dragons..."
"There is no such a profession as the dragon hunter, Will. Merlin, you're such a weirdo sometimes."
"Well, look who's talking!"
I turned around as my boss ran into my chair almost knocking herself down. She quickly straightened herself, acting like nothing happened.
Sunshine Lloyd was in no way a sunshine.
Maybe it was a protest against her parents for naming her after something bright and shiny.
Merlin knew I secretly wished to join her.
Chief, as everyone called her on her demand, has always been wrapped up in black clothes and a dark frown.
I got the chance to see her again three years ago. At the time, she was working at 'Witch Weekly' and still not smiling. But since that place is Hell itself, I don't blame her at all.
Chief slammed a paper in front of me.
"Your new story! Want it ready by tomorrow!"
I examined the piece of parchment with interest before picking it up.
After I finished reading it, I looked up at her.
"Albus Potter won the 'Young potion master competition'? Hasn't that thing happened just fifteen minutes ago? How did you find out who won this fast?"
Chief smiled, her golden eyes piercing mine. "I have my sources."
Chief always 'had her sources' which she never revealed. I don't think it was about protecting the person's identity. Rather, it was more about the mystery effect. Chief liked to seem mysterious.
"Do the interview as soon as he gets here."
"No buts, Kenward! Are you a journalist or not?!"
"Good! Now get me that god damned interview! By tomorrow!"
She marched off furiously, just as she approached us minutes before.
Chief was... intense, to put it that way.
But this time around, I thought, she really overdid it. How was I supposed to interview Albus? It was probably the most difficult task ever.
First, he'd be tired from the trip.
Second, everyone was going to attack him with questions as soon as he got back.
And third, Albus Potter was so shy that I couldn't even remember the sound of his voice. As I wasn't sure if I ever heard it in the first place.
After I persuaded Willow to take me to the Ravenclaw's entrance to wait for Albus to return from France, she swore she would never listen to me again.
She did, though. 'Cause I'm just that wise.
I mean, not that I don't get her need for, what did she say... ? Yes, adventure.
But she shouldn't be so vile. She should support my choice! 'Cause that's just what friends do. Right?
But when we got there I too asked myself-what the heck was I thinking?!
Giggling Hogwarts' girls were forming a rather large and loud group. I even got a glimpse of one girl squeezing a picture of Albus. Where the bloody hell did she even get one, with him being so private?
I cursed silently to myself. But I decided to not give up so easily. So, I wasn't left with any other choice but to stand in the crowd and just-wait.
Willow's gruffness just got bigger when a clumsy first year accidentally hit her in her leg.
Seriously, a first year? Here? What is becoming of this world?
I glanced at Will shortly, just to check if she was still as pissed as before. She wasn't. She was actually even more furious. At this rate, I wasn't expecting to live through the night.
Twenty minutes later, though, Albus Potter was ready to make his entrance.
Now, I have seen Albus Potter before. But it was never so... direct. We would occasionally pass each other in hallways. Or in the Great Hall. But that was it, really. Albus was known as a person who liked to keep to himself. So, for me to have an actual conversation with him, it was almost impossible.
Definitively impossible, I thought back than.
But the way my life's been progressing these days, I'm beginning to doubt that theory.
It was just a brief moment. A brief contact. His eyes sank into mine. Or was it the other way around? His shade of emerald was something I'd never seen before. Only in the newspapers, on his father. But to see it in person was different. It was... captivating.
I saw panic flaming in those eyes. Fear. Maybe even... Loneliness?
But I shrugged it of. Albus had a huge family. Why would he ever feel lonely?
He furiously grabbed a coat from his rucksack and as soon as he passed it on to himself, Albus Potter disappeared into thin air.
* * *
"Why can't you just find someone else for him?!" I hiss at Rose and James as we are enjoying butter beers at Leaky.
It's one of those weirdly hot days and I feel like I'm choking in my own sweat.
Ewww. Gross mental image.
"Well, we could try..." Rose begins but, of course, James doesn't let her finish.
"But Tatum, it's perfect! Al knows that you and I used to hang out..."
Used to hang out? Seriously? Does he really believe we did that? It was merely a few parties. And on the last one...
I try not to choke on the memory. But it's still hard.
Merlin, I'm such a pathetic little heart broken girl, aren't I?
It all feels so real again. 'Cause he's here. And I'm here. And he's pleading me with those deep brown eyes of his. It's like we're at Hogwarts all over again. And I just want to be his friend. I just want to help him. Do whatever he wishes...
"I'll just tell him that I met you unexpectedly, which so happened anyway..." James smiles in that wicked way of his when he's engrossed with something. "I really wanted to invite you to the wedding. And you don't have a date... It's perfect!"
That's what he thinks.
Rose seems to agree with me as she protests. "It doesn't make any sense. You could take her to the wedding, as well. Why should Al believe that he needs to do that?"
My heart skips a beat. I glance at James. What if...
"Rose, I'm going with Vanessa. Have you forgotten?" He fires back annoyed.
And... Bam. Right into my face. Again. I swear, James is programmed to do this to me, over and over.
"Oh, right." Rose sighs rolling her bright eyes. "Vanessa."
She almost hisses at the name.
James raises his eyebrows at his cousin. "Do you, by any chance, have something against Vanessa?"
"Oh, don't get me started..."
"Guys!" I decide that it is time to step in and save the day.
I don't get enough credit for this, I tell you.
"Why would I do this, anyway? I mean, what's there in it for me?"
Yes, I like to have some benefit from these kind of situations. When I don't really see why I should do it otherwise.
I was in Slytherin, ok? That's just the way we roll.
"Well, you..." Rose wanders out for a moment.
She must really be freaking out about this wedding when she wants to let a complete stranger (Aka, me.) to attend the ceremony. Not to mention the party.
I guess she kind of likes me because of my stories. But is that really enough to let someone participate in such a huge event in your life?
I presume Rose is just one of a kind. She's just peculiar that way.
Rose finally gets an idea which she announces with snapping her fingers. "You'll get our interviews! Exclusively. Scorpius and I have been dating secretly at the beginning. But the media found out about us just three weeks ago. They're thirsty for the sensation that will obviously be our wedding (James snorts.). But you, Tatum..."
She puts each of her hands on my shoulders and gazes at me fiercely and dramatic. "You'll be the one getting the scoop."
I play with the idea in my mind.
Of course, I know I have so much to gain. Writing about their wedding would surely make me at least slightly more famous than I am right now. Which is... Zero factor of famous.
But do I really want to interfere? Do I really want to get myself involved with this family again? I admire Ginny, I do. But I don't believe I'm quite ready to have to deal with the whole clan. It's intimidating!
"I'll... get you back on that. Ok?"
Rose smiles nodding her head. But I can detect that sly smirk of hers, like she is convinced she already won the battle.
"Merlin, Tatum, where's your sense of adventure?" James rolls his eyes at me. "No wonder you weren't in Gryffindor."
I turn to glare at him.
Where's... where's my sense of adventure?! Well, he wouldn't know, of course. Because he was soaking in firewisky!
I have this wild desire to jump at him and, and... I don't know. I'm confused. I can't even tell hate from love. Or love from desire. Or desire from infatuation. How am I supposed to know what I want to do to him?
Human emotions suck. They just turn your brain into gray mash without any functions.
If I could just forget everything... Or wake up and realize that I was just being silly. And move on already! For Merlin's sake!
I gaze at James again, my first wish to attack him slowly burning out. It's replaced with a sensation that I can not identify.
* * *
The thirty first of October, 2022
James stormed in, his face red from running, I suspect. He gazed around the room distraught until spotting me before our fireplace. He paced to me and when I picked my head up, it was already too late.
James grabbed my hand, my book falling to the ground with a loud knock.
I was confused.
Sure, James and I were sharing a room and it resulted in more conversations between the two of us. But it never really got passed some random themes, mostly about Hogwarts and it's wicked ways.
"You and I. Room of Requirement. Halloween party!"
He pulled me out from our Head's common room before I even realized that I was in my Care Bears pajamas. Well. Just... perfect.
But then I focused on James.
I soon figured there was something utterly wrong with him. The way he was walking, his steps short and rapid, not looking at me, his nails almost jabbed into my hand.
"James, is something wrong?"
He suddenly stopped. After he turned around, I stepped back.
I never saw him like that before. His eyes were red, his face pale and there was no sign of his famous smirk.
"I just want to have fun tonight, okay? Just that."
I hesitated a bit, worried that this was the worst idea of all his ideas that I knew of. But I gave in. I somehow knew he needed it. I knew it would make him feel better.
And it did.
It was just the beginning of my downhill path that I took that night.
I wasn't supposed to let him do that to me. But I didn't have the will to resist. Because... He's James. And just one look is enough to convince me that the most stupid idea is nothing but sheer brilliance.
And here I am again. Doing... what? Exactly the same thing I did that night at Hogwarts.
And I know it's utterly wrong. But it seems like I just don't care.
'Cause... he's still James.
And I'm afraid he always will be.
A/N: Again, so sorry about the delay. I hope you enjoyed this. Tell me what you think!
Chapter 4: Wedding Frustration And Cherry Toxication
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Disclaimer: Don't own a thing.
Wedding Frustration And Cherry Toxication
Flying on a carpet is not at all complicated as everybody makes it out to be. It's actually more simple than flying on a broom. When you fly on a carpet, you don't feel pain in certain areas, nor do you have the need to clench to a piece of wood. You just sit back and enjoy. Thank Merlin, I'm good at apparating so I don't need to resolve to such untrustworthy measures all the time.
And what's even more brilliant about this particular carpet ride is the fact that people are watching me and admiring my courage. I don't really understand their fascination. But who cares? They love me. Is a reason really that necessary?
"It's nice. Being famous. Isn't it?"
I jump up at the voice and almost fall down. I can hear people gasping, afraid for my life.
I turn to his annoying face. "James! I could've died!"
But he ignores my feelings and is persistent to share his. "Tatum, I need you."
I freeze. He gazes at me with that broken look in his dark eyes, the gold shining through just slightly. This got me. Every. Single. Time.
But not now. 'Cause this time my evil side, blinded by pure hatred, emerges from deep inside of me. "Well, too bad, because I don't need you."
And I push him out of the carpet,not thinking clearly.
When I realize what I've done, though, it's too late.
I look down, panic overtaking my body and scream at the top of my lungs. "James!"
Something hits me hard in the head and I close my eyes, the pain killing me. When I open them again, I find that I'm no longer on my enchanted carpet but in my flat, with Ash hovering over my body, a curious expression on her face.
I lift myself up, still fuzzy from the dream.
But one memory is still very clear. "I killed James Potter!"
Ash snorts. "Sorry to shatter your fantasy, but unless you apparated to his apartment this morning, there's no chance you did such a thing."
She trows me a copy of some trashy celebrity magazine with James and a girl gracing the cover of this morning. And it so happens that her name is non other than Vanessa.
"Oh." I blink at the picture of them sharing a smooch, my insides twisting. "Well, that's good to know."
No, it's not.
I stare at the distance for a while. "I need to see my life couch again."
Ash sighs frustrated. "It's called a psychologist, Tatum. No point in denying that you desperately need one."
Ash Accioes the magazine back possessively while I pout. "And by the way, if you don't get ready in five minutes, you'll be late again."
I jump to my feet and start my already traditional fuss over my over sleeping and lack of clothes to wear. I catch Ash rolling her eyes numerous of times. Well excuse me, Miss Perfect. Like she's never late! ...
Ok, she isn't. But that's not the point, anyway. Wait. What was the point again? Oh, nevermind.
The fuss ends in me dressing into an uber ugly yellow skirt and a white jumper.
I glance at Ash.
She sighs. "What now?"
"I guess I have no time to eat?"
"No!" She garbs a pillow and trows it at me again with force. It hits me right in the face.
"What was that for?"
"I don't know!" She yells back. "You make me do meaningless things, Kenward! Now move it, for Merlin's sake!"
I smirk. She frowns. I'm positive she's wondering about my devil's plan. I'm an evil genius, after all. I point my wand to the kitchen, a silent Accio breakfast following quickly. In the meantime, Ash doesn't respond quite in the way I expected her to. Instead, she's smiling back at me, her hands crossed in a smart arse kind of way. What the...
And... crash. Or does is sound like splash more? I use my free hand to try and get the strawberry pie (with cream) off my face. When I succeed it's only to be met with a hysterical Ash, almost rolling on the floor from laughter. It's only been ten days since her last charmed pie hit me in between the eyes. I guess it was still too early to let my guards down again.
After tucking my wand away, I apparate as quickly and gracefully as I can. I'm not in the mood to be mocked. Not that I ever am. But do I have a choice? I mean, those pies are really something else (When they're actually on my plate. Not my face.). I can't help it!
I walk into the 'Daily Prophet' with the hope that I'm clean and I stride down the hall as proudly as I can manage. Since, you know, I just had a killer dream (Literally.) and a circus clown episode. But I smile to myself. 'Cause... Finally. I'm home.
My ever-seeing journalist eye spots Mr Wood talking to an elderly lady with peculiar glasses in the hallway. They seem to be on their way to her office, wherever that might be.
I flush a little. Not because I have a thing for older, married, hot (Well, I have to give him that.) men. But because I've always wanted to interview him. Well, not always, but since I got into the whole Quidditch journalism thing. Oliver Wood may just be my prize to win in this job.
I finally get to our office, all chirpy and enthusiastic to start.
Just when I'm at arranging my notebooks in rainbow colors, James storms in, frantic. He waves his wand around the room, casting numerous spells. After taking a deep breath, he sits opposite me. I raise an eyebrow at him.
"Crazy fan girls." He explains smiling with relief, sure that he's now safe.
I sigh and return to sorting my belongings into the desk. With one thought standing out in my mind. When exactly will I go completely crazy? Because I will, there's no doubt about it. If James keeps acting like this and his fangirls keep popping up everywhere he goes.
Maybe I should really visit my life couch again. Merlin knows I could use some advice. It's been a long time, after all.
The Summer Of 2023
I sat on the chair-couch-like-thingy, looking around with doubt. The room was almost pitch black, a red light shining over it. Old books were stuffed into the corners and the two chairs had colorful buttons sewed into them. A life sized bear was staring at me with his blank eyes from beside the table. Ok. And she's supposed to tell me I'm crazy? Hell no!
A wacky looking woman strolled into the room, her eyes running over her notes. I hoped she was just a lost assistant. Or a pizza delivery lady. What? I was kind of hungry!
"Miss... Kenward?" She asked, finally glancing at me.
I wished she didn't, though. Her eyes had this scary shade of gray that made me want to run for my life. Way, way far from her.
"Yes." I muttered.
She smiled in response. It didn't make things easier. She had quite a loony smile.
"I'm Mrs Bolt." With that, she quickly took one of the stools and sat down in front of me.
Way too close. I thought I stopped breathing for a second there.
"Don't tell me. You're heartbroken?"
I blinked, my mouth open. How did she...
"How did you...?"
"My girl." She smiled again.
This time it seemed warm and comforting. And maybe just a little bit sad, too.
"I've seen enough heartbreak in my life to be able to recognize it from miles away."
In that moment, I forgot about how crazy she seemed to be at first. I just knew I could trust her. Plus, she was my dad's second girlfriend. That should count for something, right? Not that I trust dad's love choices. I mean, I love mum. But she's kind of a loon, too. Well, to be fair, we all are. Even if just a little.
It was that summer that Mrs Bolt and I started a strong friendship. The summer I hurt the most. The summer I decided to hate James and destroy him. It was also the summer before the one when I fantasized about strangling my boss, Blossom White. Ok, not really. Maybe just breaking those atrociously pink nails of hers.
... Like I said, we all have our... days. Nothing unusual.
It takes me a while but I finally realize that James's been staring at me.
Damnit. I'm still flushing!
"Nothing, just..." He tilts his head to the side slightly in that cute way of his. "It feels wrong being here when there are people out there that actually want this job. Just like you."
I try not to, but I still smile, positively surprised by James' conscious waking up suddenly.
"That's actually nice of you."
He smiles back, but then remembers something else. "Oh, by the way, you're meeting Rose after work. You're finally going dress shopping."
I gape at him. Well, it was extremely short lived. R.I.P. James, the nice and considerate guy. James 'I always have my way!', welcome back.
"But I didn't even agree to that!"
"Don't worry. Rose's fashion sense has evolved since Hogwarts. You won't end up being named 'The worst dressed wedding guest'. That will, again, be Mr Lovegood." He nods his head at me, reassuring.
"No, James! I meant, I didn't agree to go to the wedding itself!"
James snorts. "Of course you did."
I shake my head. "No. I didn't."
"Yes you did." He assures me again.
He frowns. "Then, who told me she'd gladly accompany Rose and buy a dress with her?"
He suddenly shuts up, becoming quite pale. "Oh. I'll need to talk to Vanessa."
Great. Just bring up Vanessa now, too. I missed hearing about her.
"Blimey, being drunk hasn't done good things for me lately."
I roll my eyes at his stupidity. 'Cause... really?
"Besides," I add. "Your brother Albus surely declined to go with me."
"Al?" James laughs." He's the least problematic. I think he's finally realizing he's getting old."
"James, you're almost eleven months older than him." I remind him.
"Exactly! I'm so far ahead, he feels ashamed at his failures." He beams.
I shake my head in disbelief.
James then decides to pull the big guns out. His sad eyes.
I. Hate. Him.
"So, will you go to the wedding, then?"
"Why do you insist so much, anyway?"
I don't know what I'm expecting he'll say... Or maybe I do too well.
He shrugs, a genuine smile spreading over his handsome features. "Al's my brother. And Rose is like my sister. I just want them to be happy."
The worst part is that I know he's being honest.
Seriously? Can he make things any harder for me?
He smiles again.
Apparently, he can.
It seems that James Potter will always be just a little bit enigmatic to me.
I sigh frustrated at my lack of will. "Fine! I'll go."
"Great!" He beams. "Rose will pick you up at the entrance hall."
Did I say this morning that I'm an evil genius? Try James Potter. He's the devil!
* * *
Just as promised, Rose shows up at the entrance hall. She looks effortlessly breathtaking, her red coat flowing out of her wavy her and her eyes brighter than ever. She smiles warmly at me.
I take her hand and nod, trying to not think of anything. Especially not about how easy it is for James to manipulate me. It scares the crap out of me!
And so we apparate away to... Diagon Alley, which looks colorful and live in return. Mums with little children are strolling down the road, their Fast-changing-balloons bouncing in the air. I suppose it's a WWW invention. They dig the whole childish angle these days. Young couples holding hands, lovingly gushing about their lives together. Even the rare goblins that are probably rushing to their work places, being in the afternoon shift, seem rather joyful.
It all just makes it even harder for me to feel bad at all.
"We're going to 'Padma's'." Rose explains on the way. "It's the best and most suitable place, trust me. I wouldn't want to drag you out all day."
She turns to me and grins.
I smile poorly in return. "Thanks."
Rose suddenly stops. I almost run into her, not realizing this.
"You didn't agree to go, did you?"
Did I really sound that poor?
"I-" But nothing else comes out.
Come on, Tatum! You're a Slytherin! You should be cunning and-and... stuff.
"Merlin! James can be such an idiot!" Rose yells, attracting quite a bit of attention.
"No!" I stop her madness.
Gosh, she's still got the worst temper.
"I want-I want to go."
She inspects me, unsure. "Really?"
"Yes! I mean, why not? I'll get the scoop. That's priceless."
Well, it really is.
Rose's frown slowly turns into a smile again. "Great! Then let's go shopping!"
Thank Merlin she's not that hard to convince.
Mrs Padma is actually a quite lovely lady. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that she said that I have a nice figure. I'm not that desperate. No matter what Ash says!
The store is medium in space and bright orange in color. It hurts my eyes pretty badly, but I say nothing. Even so, it's stuffed with people. Of course, mostly women. Two of them are even arguing over an unique piece of clothing at the corner. Cue yelling and... interesting choice of words.
I blink at them. But since Mrs Padma is ignoring them hard, I try to do the same. She picks out a strapless red dress for me, assuring me that the knee length would 'suit me perfectly'. I believe her. I mean, do I look like I know better than her? Didn't think so.
I go to the changing room, Rose and Mrs Padma following me and chatting outside.
"So, Rose... Only two more weeks. Are you excited?"
"Oh, yes! I can't wait! Scorpius is just... perfect. Everything is perfect."
My heart sinks.
I'm not jealous, really. I just... Ok, I want that, too. How come I don't get to have it? What's wrong with me?!
... Ok. Don't answer.
"Well, good luck at still thinking that ten years into your marriage." Mrs Padma answers.
Rose laughs. "Oh, come on. I've seen you and Mr Thomas. You look like a pair of teenagers."
I step outside, impatient. And a little sick of the happy love talk. A mystery to me, really. Well, if you don't count Gail. And I don't. Breaking up during our interview with Cormac McLaggen (As the hottest single guy under forty.) could probably imply that it wasn't an all too healthy relationship.
"Wow, Tatum. You look beautiful." Rose gasps.
"Thanks." I reply gratefully.
"It looks perfect on you." Mrs Padma agrees. "So is this the one then?"
The one... I force a fake smile that's hurting my face slightly.
"I'll take it."
As we land on the frisky air, I take a deep breath in. Gratefully, it calms me down.
I should be able to act better. I'm usually so good at it. I don't know what it is with this bloody day.
"Are you all right?"
I turn to see Rose watching me, hesitation dancing in her eyes.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"You're a little pale." She informs me. "Why don't we have a cup of tea together?"
I shrug. I guess a cup of tea never did anyone harm, did it?
What was I thinking? Of course a cup of tea can't harm anyone. That is, anyone but me.
We enter the Leaky Cauldron, Rose happily strolling to Hannah Longbottom, the pleasant wife of our Herbology teacher at Hogwarts, Neville Longbottom. Or Neville Lovelybuttocks, as we liked to call him. What? He had a nice backside.
While they're blissfully chatting (About the upcoming wedding, I'm sure.), I sit down to wait for the waitress. And that is exactly where the chain of awfully stupid events of that day starts to unfold.
Number one. The waitress forgets to bring ANY sugar so I can put it in my tea. I know, I know, I'm being picky. But seriously? Isn't that her job? It's not like I said I wanted a gold-colored, bubble-gum-tasting, vanilla-smelling overflow in it or something like that. Merlin!
Number two. A guy actually bends down on his knee and proposes to his girlfriend. Right bloody next to me! Rose is in happy tears, beaming at the couple, while I'm glaring at the gorgeous ring. The guy makes this overly sweet speech about how he wanted to propose to her in the same place he realized he loved her.
Bleh, I want to puke.
And third... Wow, I'm actually not feeling that well. For real.
Rose turns around to me and gasps.
"Ok, Rose, I know I'm pale. It's not that..."
"Merlin, Tatum! You're swelling up!"
And then I realize. I look at my tea which has the color of a flaming red...
"Is this tea by any chance a cherry one?" I ask the waitress, already gasping for air.
"Y-yes... W-why?" She stutters.
I don't get to answer as I fall on the floor like a cut tree.
* * *
Ouch. The bloody light is just too light. It hurts my bloody eyes.
"Don't worry. It's just a side effect. It'll wear out really fast."
Did I actually say that out loud?
I open my eyes. And there it is. The most emerald pair of eyes looking back at me. I stare at the slightly amused smile for a second, until I register where I am and who I'm gaping at.
"Albus Potter?" I mutter, feeling a tad out of place (Try that a lot. Last thing I know, I was at the dark and too stuffed Leaky.).
I also then remember James' words-'Not even my brother Albus, the ultimate Healer could help...'
Oh, so I'm at St. Mungos?
He nods his head, the thick black hair getting in his eyes a little.
Did I say that out loud, too?
"You should lay back down." He smiles.
I then realize that I've been nearing his face and lifting my whole body from the bed. Whoa... When did that happen?
I decide to listen to him this time around, but still protest verbally. "I'm fine."
"You're allergic to cherry."
"It was nothing."
He spins around to give me a serious 'Don't argue with me.' look. So I shut up immediately. He scares me a tad. Well, all the Weasleys and Potters do.
I look around instead. The room is spacious and maybe the white just adds to it. An empty bed is resting on my right and at the left is a little red headed girl just staring at me.
"You have crazy hair." She says in that annoyingly honest way children always do.
I gasp. "Well, you... You have..."
"Honestly." Albus cuts in. "You're going to argue with a child? An ill child by that?"
I shut up again but am tempted to break the silence as the girl sticks her tongue out at me.
"Wait..." I realize. "I'm in the children's department? Really?"
Albus breaks into a short laughter. "No. Jade here just likes to sneak out of her bed and come here to chat with me."
I stare at the monster child. She smiles back evilly. She's good. So little, yet so astute. I'm smelling a Slytherin here.
"I'm sure she's a delightful company."
Albus walks to me again and hands me a glass with some weird red liquor in it.
"Isn't it obvious?" He teases.
I sigh and snatch the glass, pouring the awful thing into my mouth.
I make a face. "Disgusting."
Jade shakes her head at me. What?
"That means I made it just the way it's supposed to be. Good."
I disagree by frowning, then look around the room again. "Why am I the only one here?"
"Well, we had some emergency cases this morning but nothing too much, really."
"So, it's a bad day for you."
Albus sizes me steadily. "On the contrary, it's a good one."
He's a peculiar one.
I wonder if he still has that coat with him. And if he sneaks out when life becomes too much to handle. I'd love to have one. Not that my life is eventful in the way that I would ever require one, of course.
It's then that I remember something's missing. Or rather, someone.
"She, um... " Suddenly, he becomes slightly nervous. Which makes me nervous. Albus looks like the reasonably composed type. This is not looking good for me.
"She had an episode... earlier. She kind of freaked out when you fainted."
"What did she do?" I utter, afraid for my well being.
Albus picks his wand and slides the curtain, that's been hiding the other beds, with it.
I gasp. Dozens of presents are laying on the rest of the empty white sheets.
Jade squeals and goes to rip them open without asking. Hey, I know she's just a sick child. But still. It's a little rude.
"Oh, Merlin." I shake my head.
"She may have also fled to..."
"What..." I look at him in despair.
He hesitates. "Gather the whole family to see you."
That's when we hear a loud thud in front of the door.
"Ouch, Fred! What the fuck?! Learn how to apparate properly or, I swear, I'll hex you so bad you won't know what hit you!"
"Lily!" The older voice says, clearly shocked.
"Come on, Ginny. It's not like you were any better."
"Ron! Ginny, he didn't mean it like that."
"So you haz to meddle in everyzing, Hermione?"
"I'm not meddling! He's my husband! And Ginny's my sister in law!"
"Yes, Hermione. Thank you for those never heard of before facts."
"Oh, come on, Angelina! You too?"
"Will you all just shut up! I'm getting married!"
"Oh, trust us, we know." Says the annoyed voice, obviously through greeted teeth.
"You also almost let a person suffocate to her death." Adds another one, a little more immature.
"I did not!"
"Bloody hell, I always fall for that one." Concludes the male voice miserably.
I turn to Albus in pure fear.
He smiles, his eyebrows raised in amusement. "Good luck handling the crazy."
I seriously, desperately, scared-for-my-own-life need a drink. I'm sure there's some legit liquor in that potion cabinet of his. If not...
I. Hate. You. James Sirius Potter.
P. S. Someone tell my family I loved them deeply and that I will never forget them. Ever. Thank you.
Oh! And don't forget to kill James The Piggish Pig Of All Pigs for me. Why did I ever feel guilty about dream-killing him anyway?
apparently straight from her death sheets.
P. S. P. S. No, I am most definitively not being over dramatic. Trust me.
Ok, ok. If you insist.
The twentieth of July, 2025
"Merlin, Tatum, stop pulling your dress down."
I glared at the tall female, smoking her last cigarette like her life depended on it. You know, like sucking it and all.
Her nicotine drive was not damaged even by the fact that we were hiding in a bush. A very uncomfortable bush by that.
"Mind your own business, Ava."
"You will never get anywhere with an attitude like that."
I smirked. "Just watch me."
"Jill!" Marc ran toward me breathless, following a loud shriek coming from the ballroom of the house in front of us.
"Apparently Mr Weasley had a small argument with the Minister and his wife said that he's a stubborn arse!"
"What are you waiting for, Jill?! We have to move! I have my camera!" The boy looked like he'd piss right there from all the excitement. "Boss will love us forever!"
I started running with him, almost knocking myself down when my dress decided to stay in the bush without my body in it.
"You do realize that Mr Weasley and his wife always yell stupid things at each other and then kiss afterwards? Like, the whole night. That's what I've heard, anyways."
"Jill, do you realize that we need this job?" He glared at me.
I thought about it.
Then shrugged. "Meh. What the heck."
I regret to this day that I stumbled upon the fight-love scene of Mr and Mrs Weasley in the Minister's ballroom. It was the scariest thing I've seen in my entire young life.
So, I'll say this only once again. Trust me. When it comes to the Weasley-Potter clan... it's always a better choice to stay away than not to.
But as my suckish luck likes to toy with me, I have no choice. Or, you know, I would have. If I'd just say 'no' to James once in a while.
Nooo... it's just my Karma.
A/N: Sooo, how did you like it? :D Tell me in a review!
Thanks for reading!
A/N: I know, I know. What the heck is this, right? I'm updating this story after months, years even. I just got inspired after reading the previous chapters and... this happened. I don't even know what to say anymore. XD Read and maybe review? IDK.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
I’m pretty certain a panic attack is on its way, when I turn around to Albus in fear and utter faintly. „Help me.“
He starts to reply, but when we hear another Rose-Hugo fight („I mean, why would you pick Al over me!? I’m your brother!“ „If I recall rightly, it was you who insisted not to be included in the W.E.T. operation, so stop using it as an arguing point every single time, darn it!“) and my look grows from frightened to completely desperate, Albus instructs Jade to go back to her room and then quickly runs to me.
„Take my hand!“ He says while offering his palm.
I watch as Jade sneaks out through a back door, wondering just how much time she spends roaming around St. Mungo in order to know it so well and sensing it must be a lot, I feel bad for her for the first time since meeting her.
I quickly turn back my attention to Albus, though, and after taking his hand in an instant and a stilly woosh, we’re gone.
The next surrounding I see before me is that of an unknown roof.
Albus has now let go of me. He’s instead pacing up and down, ignoring my puzzled state.
„I could get fired for this.“
„What? Why?“ I finally regain my ability to talk, albeit doddery.
He stops abruptly to stare at me in disbelief. „Are you joking?“
„Not necessary, no.“
„I essentially kidnapped you and you ask me why?!“
„Why did you, though?“ Albus frowns at me. „I mean, not kidnap me but listen to me. A minute ago, you seemed pretty pleased that I had to endure a secure torture from your whole family.“
Albus sighs, finding a cold wall to lean on near by. „I guess... I recognized that look.“
„What look?“ I ask, confused.
„Of total despair. And, whenever I feel that way, my automatic reaction is... to run away and hide.“ He picks his head up to look at me, guilty. „But you’re not me and I’m sorry I jumped to the wrong conclusion. Not to mention that it’s totally unprofessional behavior.“
I immediately remember his disappearing act under that cloak so long ago upon my failed interview, which didn’t make me popular with Chief, to say the least. Does this qualify as a reason to be pissed at Albus Potter? Or his today’s kidnapping? Because, no matter if it does, I wasn’t and I still am... not angry in the slightest.
I guess it’s because of his strangely compassion-inspiring eyes.
Right, another Potter boy has mad puppy-dog-eyes skills. Just what I need in my life.
„Oh no. It wasn’t a wrong decision.“ I assure him. „I was that panicked. It’s just that this robe doesn’t provide much shelter from the air up here.“
I point to my bare legs, trying to smile and make him smile, too.
It’s a success since Albus finally chuckles. „Come on, let’s go back to your room.“
„Um, can you just... apparate me to my home or something? I really can’t handle your family in this state.“
„You mean in an almost see-through patient robe?“
„It’s see-through?!“ I yelp, immediately covering all the problematic parts of my body.
Albus laughs. „I was joking on both accounts. I presume you wanted to say you can’t handle them while under the influence of a potion? Even though it’s not that strong, to be fair to the poor potion.“
I eye him with interest. „You’re one peculiar guy, aren’t you?“
„So I’ve been told.“ He smiles. „But I’m sorry, Tatum, I can’t apparate you. As you can tell from my previous freaking out over your ’kidnapping’, those sort of actions are forbidden in St. Mungo. You need to be legally released first.“
I huff. „I hate you.“
„Understandable.“ Albus nods.
After that, he apparates me straight back to my bed. To my despair, Rose is already in the room.
„Before you ask, yes, I let myself in. And yes, I know that’s pushing the privacy boundary slightly.“
„Slightly?“ I mutter but Albus catches it and tries not to laugh.
„But let’s focus on the real issue here, shall we? Where have you two been for the last ten minutes? Not only have you made everyone impatient to the point of giving up and going back home, but you also-“
„You mean, you’re the only one here?“ I ask in hope.
„I think I just said that.“
I throw Albus one giant grateful look. I guess Karma remembered that I didn’t actually carry out my evil plan to destroy James. Huh. Well, that’s certainly new.
„Anyway, what I was saying is... I also got scared for your life, Tatum. Again. It’s like you have a death wish today.“
„Or... you’re actually the one with a secret plan to murder her. Tatum, I would reconsider going to her wedding, if I were you.“ Albus supplies.
„Al!“ Rose gasps. „One more strike and I’m taking your W.E.T. person badge away.“
„Oh, I wouldn’t want that.“ He says flatly, obviously with sarcasm, but it goes unnoticed by his cousin.
„That’s right. So stop trying to sabotage your own date for the wedding. What is it, do you not like Tatum or something?“
I sink down on my bed. Merlin, how come I keep getting myself in such awkward situations? Curse you, James Potter, this is all your fault!
Albus Potter sighs. „That’s not the point here, Rose. The point is, you’re meddling in my life.“
„I always do that. Why does it bother you so much now, of all times?“
I sense that this conversation is not really suited for an outsider like myself, so I suggest to Albus that he gives me the release. But Rose won’t have it.
„No, just tell me first. What is wrong?“
Albus shakes his head in obvious defeat. „I wanted to go alone, because... that spot was supposed to be for Emma and as you know...“
He looks away for a brief moment, but then back to Rose sternly. „I just... It doesn’t feel right going with someone else so soon after what happened.“
It is clear he’s choosing his words wisely in order to not give anything away to me. But I’m not offended. The guy clearly has his reasons. And James and Rose went against them. In contrast to not feeling angry at Albus, I feel annoyed by James again.
Rose walks closer to her cousin to put a soothing palm on his shoulder.
„Al... it’s not too soon. It’s been a year.“
„A year hurts just as much as one day when you care for someone that much.“ With that, Albus gives me the release and goes back to making potions, clearly not able to speak again. Rose nods, waits for me to get dressed and we exit the room together. When outside, she puts her hand on my shoulder, much like she did with her cousin.
„I’m sorry, Tatum. I was really looking forward to seeing you at my wedding.“
But why, I wonder. She seems to read my look and chuckles.
„Don’t you remember the last story on me and Scorpius that you wrote at the end of your seventh year?“
I try to recall the article and the event that inspired it.
Sometime in May, 2023
I was sitting at the Ravenclaw table with Will, when we heard a loud blast. Every breathing soul in the hall turned to the source, which turned out to be a powerful spell casted by Dorotha Webb, our resident DADA star. That was to expect from her, not only because of Dorotha’s vast knowledge of spells, but because of her show off Slytherin nature. In short, she liked to brag.
But something was still unusual about this event. And that was the fact that it hit Scorpius Malfoy, who positioned himself in front of Rose Weasley, the one Dorotha probably planned to be stricken. I couldn’t recall Dorotha and Rose fighting before the incident, so I was puzzled and, like everyone else, scared for Rose’s well being.
Professor Neville was the first one to react and he took the injured Scorpius in the direction of the hospital wing, leaving Dorotha screaming in tears and Rose shaking. Somehow, Chief appeared right then next to me, whispering: „The story is yours.“
I didn’t even have time to answer. She was already gone. Chief was creepy. She also liked pushing boundaries. That’s how I got to being hidden in a closet in the hospital wing, spying. I felt slightly bad for doing so. But I also felt an adrenaline rush and a need to prove myself worthy of the given task. So that’s why I didn’t step back to as they say ’look at my life and look at my choices’. I already knew it was wrong. But since being nice didn’t seem to get me anywhere (Especially with a certain Potter boy.), I was done with it. I was a Slytherin, after all, and it was bloody time I started acting as one.
So, ok, I was really bitter at this point in my life.
I was hoping the nurse would keep avoiding the closet and not notice me peeking through long enough for me to get my story. Fortunately, she did.
The first one to visit Scorpius out of the two girls was Dorotha, as I had hoped. She was still sobbing and clenching her shirt at the spot where her heart was. Sooo pathetic. I was this close to snorting loudly. Well, you can’t actually see how close, but you get the point.
I repeat-really, really bitter.
The girl sat beside the sleeping boy, trembling. She looked at him for a moment in order to gain courage to take his hand. When she did, her crying became even more intense.
„I-I’m sorry, Scorpius. I didn’t want to do this to you.“
Scorpius woke up at this point, visibly tired, but alarmed at the sight, as well.
„Dorotha, please, go.“
„I know you didn’t want to do this to me. But you did to Rose. And, that way, you hurt me even more.“
The girl’s eyes widened. „But... She slapped you and insulted you...“
„She’s just immature. You, on the other hand... Dorotha, I saw pure hate in your eyes.“
„It’s because... I... I love you and she’s the reason you’ll never love me back.“
Finally, the boy took her hand, as well, to what Dorotha smiled in hope.
„No, she’s not. I don’t love Rose. I just can’t fall for you when you do things like this. I’m sorry, Dorotha.“
The girl stared at him in shock, tears streaming down her cheeks harder then ever.
„I’ll leave you both alone, I swear.“ With that, she ran out.
I gazed at Scorpius’ laying form, puzzled.
Who was this boy, anyway?
Son of Astoria and Draco Malfoy. A Ravenclaw. Reportedly friends with Albus Potter, but they weren’t seen together often. Could be because of Potter’s private nature, though. And Rose’s nemesis by her words. To everyone else, he seemed perfectly nice, though. He was even aware of my name, Merlin knows how.
But who was he really? And why on Earth would he protect the girl who made his life so difficult?
The said girl came in a few hours later. She wasn’t crying. She didn’t seem upset, her expression was blank even, which was strange concerning her temper.
„Rose?“ Scorpius took notice of her presence right away.
„You mean Weasley?“ She smirked and made her way to his bedside.
But, unlike Dorotha, she chose to sit on the stool next to the bed. I noticed she had a small bandage on her wrist, as well. Must had gotten it when she fell after Scorpius pushed her out of the way.
„I’m sorry about that.“ He seemed to be focused on the exact thing as I was.
„Are you joking?“ Rose laughed. „You saved me from being almost torn to pieces. Can’t imagine how much time it would have to pass before I could beat some Quidditch arse after that. And I live from beating Quidditch asses.“
„Oh, I’m aware.“ He smirked.
Rose glanced at his smiling face but decided to look away pretty quickly. „Listen, I’m not good at this.“
„You’re good at humiliating and taunting me, instead. I’m aware of that, as well.“
„Oh, shut up, Malfoy. Don’t be such a wimp.“
„A wimp? That’s new.“ Scorpius nodded his head in amusement.
„You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you?“ Rose fixated him with an intense stare. „To make it easier for me to say thank you. Since I only know how to communicate with you through insults.“
„You’re imagining things, Weasley.“ He grinned.
„Well, I am. You know... thankful to you for what you did today. But that doesn’t make you any less annoying.“
„I would assume.“
„See!? Stop doing that!“
„Stop acting like you know me, ’cause you don’t! That’s what bothers me about you! Just ’cause you’re a Ravenclaw doesn’t mean you have everything figured out!“
„I’m aware, because I’ll never figure out why you’re so angry.“
Rose’s face became dangerously red, alarmingly fast. This was the first time that I was afraid of being in that closet, even though nurse Brown was a frightful woman, too. But no one could come even close to Rose Weasley. That’s why I was amazed at Scorpius’ will to confront her.
Scorpius Malfoy-a hero, I mentally added to my ’Who is Scorpius’ list.
„I-I-I... You’re insufferable, Malfoy!“ With that, Rose Weasley fled the room.
And I was left staring after her with no idea how to write a story out of all this.
It took me a week to do so, so that’s telling.
Then, it showed up. The story. And everyone was reading it. And I mean everyone. I even caught several professors doing so and they were usually appalled at the paper. Why was everyone so invested? Well...
„You’re dead.“ Willow whispered to me while we were hiding in a broom closet, waiting for Rose Weasley to pass us by.
„Yup.“ I nodded.
„Why would you write that?!“
„I don’t know! It just... slipped out!“
„Yeah, right. You were pondering about this story for seven long days, so bullshit.“
I bit my lip. „I panicked, ok? Ever since I failed to do the Albus interview, Chief’s been breathing down my neck. It had to be something big. Besides, I’m out of here in a matter of weeks. So, sayonara to the bloody Potter-Weasleys forever!“
„Sayonara my butt!“ Willow hissed. „Don’t you remember your creepy plan to become Ginny’s assistant only to destroy James? That doesn’t seem to me like you’re planning to stay away from them.“
„Right. Crap. I’m my worst enemy, aren’t I?“
„Glad you finally figured that out, at least.“ Will shook her head.
Oh, but you’re wondering about the content of the article, aren’t you? Or not. I’m still laying it out for you, so suck it up.
It went like this...
After the incident in the Great Hall when Slytherin student Dorotha Webb casted a dangerous spell toward Rose Weasley that instead hit Scorpius Malfoy, it has been evident that the attacker has decided to stay away form the pair. But, was it really her decision? Sources tell that Miss Webb visited young Mr Malfoy the same day of the attack to apologize. But it was clear that she was only sorry for hurting Scorpius and not Rose Weasley, to what Mr Malfoy reacted very strongly. He was the one asking Webb to keep her distance, since by Dorotha wanting to injure Rose, Scorpius was ’hurt even more’. Now, which enemy says those sort of things?
But, that’s not all. Dorotha wasn’t the only girl visiting him that day. Miss Rose herself decided to stop by to say thank you. They had an exchange that is not your typical nemesis talk. Far from it.
One thing is sure, Rose Weasley may as well be angry all the time because she has unresolved feelings toward Scorpius Malfoy. And as for the boy in question? He seems to be more aware of them then Rose herself.
Eventually, I became so good at hiding, that Rose decided to stop seeking me out to give me a piece of her mind. We did meet after awhile, but she seemed uninterested. And I thanked Merlin for successfully avoiding her long enough to be alive by the time of my graduation.
„I wrote that with the desire for a more scandalous story in mind. It wasn’t supposed to be truthful.“
„But it was.“ Rose smiles at me. „I did have unresolved feelings toward Scorpius and he was aware of them. He just wanted me to realize them on my own and not push it. That’s the reason why it took some time for us to actually start dating. I needed to grow up. I’m grateful to him for being patient and... well, I’m grateful for him.“
She glances at me meaningfully. „I’m also grateful to you. Your article got me thinking. And even though I denied it for many years to come, it led me to eventually accepting my feelings. Whoever your source was, though... I have to say, I’m impressing by his or hers hiding skills. I don’t recall anyone being in the room. And the article was too close to the truth for the source to be lying.“
„You know what they say-never reveal your sources.“ I say nervously. „Journalists’ honor.“
Rose chuckles. „I like you, Kenward. That’s why I’m not giving up just yet. You are going to go to my wedding. Mark my words!“
Why, Merlin? Why? And why am I asking when I already established the reason for all my misery?
James. Sirius. Potter.
How I hate thee.
* * *
James is about to be late again, but he pops in just in time. I raise my eyebrow to behold the sight. He has a dark green suit on, his hair is a complete mess and naturally I spot a hickey on his neck.
„Busy morning?“ I ask while scribbling in my notebook.
I’m just pretending, of course. I don’t want to seem as too invested, which I know sounds laughable coming from me. But, who cares.
„I went... Suit shopping with Vanessa.“
„Didn’t end there, it appears.“ I force a grin.
„Very perceptive of you, Tatum.“ He mocks me, while sitting down.
„You also forgot to take off the price tag on that lovely suit of yours.“
He glances at the tag, sighing. „Great. Now the shop owner will think I stole it.“
„Wait, you didn’t buy it?“
„Oh, Tatum, Tatum. You naive girl.“ He shakes his head in amusement. „One day into the suit-shopping and you expect Vanessa to actually let me buy something. I’m in for a week long torture, I’m afraid.“
I roll my eyes.
„What about you? Bought a dress?“
„Bought it but for no reason.“
„Oh, come on, a dress will make you look better, you have to trust the shop lady.“ He pouts at me, which brings me to the brink of my already gentle nerves. „Even though you don’t actually believe her.“
„No.“ I say through clenched teeth. „What I mean is, your brother Albus refused to go with me.“
„No, he accepted. I remember it clearly.“
Merlin, he can be so dense! „He changed his mind afterwards. Something about not feeling right taking anyone except Emma.“
James hits the desk with his head, the dust flying around it.
Hm, does anyone ever clean this place?
„Merlin! I thought I had him persuaded!“
„James...“ My curiosity won’t leave me alone. „Who was Emma?“
„What do you mean was?“ James frowns, but then realization takes over his sharp features. „He spoke about her like she died again, didn’t he?“
„My brother’s an idiot, I swear.“
Well, look who’s talking.
„Emma’s not dead. She just refused to have anything to do with him a year ago and disappeared from his life after he broke her heart.“
I look at him curiously.
„Sit back, Tatum. This may take a long while.“
After some hours, or it may have been ’just’ forty minutes, to be frank, I sit back into my chair, gasping.
„Well, that’s what you call a big story.“
„Right? And a big idiot to match it.“
„Oh, come on, Albus is your brother.“ I smirk. „If he’s an idiot, you’re one, too.“
„I beg to differ.“
„You would.“ I mutter under my breath.
James gazes at me with suspicion. „Do you have something to say to me, Tatum? ’Cause I swear, I have the strangest feeling that you’re not telling me something that you really, really want.“
„Nope.“ I smile forcefully. „Now, let’s get back to work.“
„I don’t wanna.“ He whines like a spoiled child.
Wait did I say like? How silly of me.
„Can you finish everything writing related and I can just do the physicals?“
„You are a lost case, I swear.“
He just grins at me.
Today is a very special day and it’s not because I got up early enough or the fact that Ash willingly made a delicious breakfast for me, no. Not that those facts are unwelcome, of course. But it’s because it’s my fifth day at work, which implies that I survived the previous four. That’s exceptional, what with my self-humiliation tendency, especially in front of people I admire (Ginny Weasley) and care about (Basically everyone except James Potter.). As a result, I feel strangely accomplished. Which is, well... strange.
And so in honor of my good mood I decide to dress nicely for a change. I pull out an old purple dress from the back of my closet that I deemed to be too much for me a long time ago, thus the shoving out of sight. Feeling especially spunky and full of spite, I decide to try it on. Which is easier said than done. It appears that the dress has shrunk. Yup, that makes more sense than the simple fact that I’ve been getting more plump over the years (Specially taking my no-ironing-no-washing-until-it’s-unrecognizable policy.).
Whatever. If I can still wear my favourite jeans from when I was 13, I think I can manage fitting into the bloody dress.
After forty minutes, just when I’m about to give up, I succeed. And when I glance at the mirror I know I can’t get out of the dress now, and it’s not ’cause I probably literally can’t get out of it without the help of magic, but because I look...
I turn to the door to spot Ash nodding her head full of dark hair at me. „What’s the occasion?“
„I’m about to survive a whole work week!“
Ash frowns. „Don’t jinx it.“
At that exact time, someone rings the bell.
„See?“ Ash goes to open it, huffing.
„With my luck, it’s probably Rose Weasley.“ I throw the remark in Ash’s direction, who’s out of my sight, moaning.
„It’s not, but you’re close.“
I walk out of my room to gaze at the guest. „Albus?“
He’s staring back, right at my exposed legs, though. The last time a male did that was when Marc the camera guy from work was trying to make me notice I had a huge bruise on my knee. So I’m really accustomed to these sort of things and, naturally, I don’t blush (Lies, lies, all lies. Well, apart from Marc attempting to tell me about the welt.).
„What are you doing here?“
„How very polite of you.“ Ash snorts and goes back to her own room, leaving us alone.
That’s when I realize the younger Potter is still standing at the door. I really do know my manners. Mum and dad will be proud.
„Sorry. Do you wanna come in?“
„Actually, I was hoping you’d come out.“
I glance at my watch. It still doesn’t say I’m late. And since Albus, who I assume is very proper and precise, is here instead at his workplace, I believe I have more time than I imagine.
So I listen to him and close the door behind us when we walk further back into the corridor.
„Did Rose send you? ’Cause, really, you don’t have to take me to the wedding. I understand.“
„Actually, no. I came here on my own.“ Albus smiles. „I do that from time to time, you know.“
„Of course you do.“ I blush at my own stupidity.
Albus decides to not comment on it, though, and instead offers me his hand.
„You do realize the last time I did that, we ended up on a windy roof and we both almost had a panic attack.“
„I’m not offended by your hesitation, of course. But this time I plan to take you to a different kind of a windy place.“
I narrow my eyes at him. It’s the first time I notice he’s in a beautiful gray suit, instead of his green St. Mungo robes, the only clothes I’ve seen him in by this point. He looks...
„You look amazing, as well.“ He smiles at me again.
I take his hand in hopes of not embarrassing myself any further and in an instant, we’re gone.
We apparate to a dark, strait passage, which prompts us to hold onto each other more tightly. As soon as I realize I’ve been clinging to him as if to dear life, I let go. Albus doesn’t seem fazed by any of this, but instead leads me out of the stuffy place and into a faint sunlight.
„We’re here.“ He gazes at the house behind me, which makes me turn around and mimic his action.
The building is three stories high, very narrow and very white. The facade is decorated with fresh flowers of countless colors and I soon realize why, since that’s when I notice the name of the building positioned at the top of the first floor.
„The Mayflower.“ Of course, it’s the name of a famous historic ship, but it still has the word flower in it, which I find endearing.
„My favourite London pub.“ Albus declares. „Come on, let’s go inside.“
If the outside look is plain, the interior is a completely different story. It’s old, yes, but I guess that’s a part of its charm. The faintly orange walls are covered in numerous paintings and framed photos, some of them being monochromatic. The bottom part is covered in black wooden boards to match the color of most tables and chairs.
Albus heads straight for the back door, to the terrace. And just then is when I realize the pub is positioned on the Thames’ riverside. The view is breathtaking and the wooden furniture helps complete the feeling of being somewhere in nature, away from the lights of London. The distant buildings are the only ones giving away the secret.
Albus picks the spot in the furthest corner, as close to the river as it can get from here.
I sit down slowly, my mouth hanging open in amazement. „Wow.“
„Brilliant, isn’t it?“ He smiles at my wonderment.
„How did you find this place?“
„You mean because I’m such an outgoing type?“
I blush furiously. „I didn’t mean it like that, sorry.“
Albus laughs. „It’s all right. I understand your puzzlement. Emma brought me here a long time ago, actually.“
I look up to his distinct green eyes, just when the waiter nears us to take our orders. It’s latte for both of us. When we get our drinks and get cozy stealing glances at the river, I look at the silent Potter again.
„You’re wondering why I brought you here.“ He says, taking a sip of his coffee.
Well, can you blame me? I mean, the guy stops by my flat early in the morning (And how the hell does he know where I live, anyway?), apparates me to his favourite pub on the Thames without so much as an explanation and expects me to not wonder what the heck is going on? That’s just absurd, if you ask me.
„I wanted to talk to you about the whole not going to the wedding issue. In a more private setting.“ He puts his cup away and leans forward to me. „Look, Tatum, don’t think I’m some whiny teenager in a body of a grown man, what with changing my mind whole the time. I wanted to tell you everything about the whole ordeal before you got sucked in. And I couldn’t do that at St. Mungo with Rose questioning me.“
I nod my head in understanding.
„I accepted to go with you before I knew who you actually were, just to please Rose.“
„Should I be offended by that statement?“ I narrow my eyes.
„Oh, no. It’s not what you think.“ Albus shakes it off. „I thought you were just some old friend of James and he wanted you there. And since he’s with Vanessa, I’m his first pick to fill in the spot. Rose seemed to agree.“
„That’s what I thought, too. Just... the other way around.“
He nods. „And just like you, I went with it. That was until I found out about your role in Rose and Scorpius getting together. Rose let it slip and I just knew what was going on her mind.“
„What?“ I’m seriously confused.
My writer brain seems to be asleep this early in the morning. Good thing I usually get up later.
„I’ve had a big role in getting them together, as well, since I’m Scorpius’ best friend.“ Albus looks at me significantly.
I’m more puzzled than before, though.
„Don’t you see it?“
„Not this early in the morning, sorry.“
„She’s trying to hook us up. The two people she deems most deserving of her gratitude.“
I stare at him dumbly.
„Oh.“ Is all I manage to say after awhile. „Is that so bad?“
Well, there are worse things in life than being paired up with Albus Potter. Still, I don’t know if he thinks the same about me. I mean, even I’m aware of my glorious weird... ness.
„You don’t realize how Rose’s brain works, do you?“ Albus whispers dramatically. „She won’t stop until she succeeds.“
I bite my lip. I do know that the majority of the Weasley-Potter clan is crazy. And Rose was insane back at Hogwarts. What guarantees me her sanity now? I say nothing. And Albus does, too, it seems. Rose may have good intentions, but I doubt it would end even remotely well.
„So you backed out in order for me to save my arse from getting too involved?“ I inspect him with interest.
For some reason something doesn’t seem to add up here, no matter how nice Al appears to be.
„I know I said it was because of Emma. But it’s not. It was the first thing that popped into my mind when Rose insisted on a good reason.“ He stops to take another sip of his coffee, but then casts a quick glance at the river, as well.
There’s something in his movements that suggests that he’s not being completely honest. Then again, I’ve only met him once before. Maybe I’m just imagining it.
He looks back at me, a new boldness in his eyes. „I was the one who hurt Emma, after all, not the other way around. And even though it sucks that she ran away leaving me with only one true friend once again, well outside of my crazy family, I’m not holding a candle for her.“
The wind and the sound of the waves crashing against the bank fill out the short moment of silence. I look into Albus’ emerald eyes, this time having a far darker shade.
„Why are you doing this?“
I’m a Slytherin and my brain works on the basis of favors and benefits. So... what is Albus’ prize in all of this? There must be something. All signs point to it, after all.
He smiles, looking down for a second, like a child being caught in a failed attempt of lying. „I don’t know. I guess... I have this feeling that you’re a good person and maybe... I’d like you to be the friend that I lost in Emma.“
Ah, there it is. Well, to be fair to Al, that’s probably the sweetest request in the game of favors and benefits I’ve ever heard.
„So... You want us to not risk becoming Rose’s puppets in order to be able to be true friends?“
To my surprise, Albus smirks at this, an expression I never thought I’d see on his gentle features. „Precisely.“
A small shiver goes down my spine, as a warning that something still seems fishy about this whole situation. „And how can I be sure this is all not just some twisted way of getting me to fall for you in the end and for it to be under your conditions and not Rose’s?“
Albus grins, a faintly mischievous glint in his light eyes. „You can’t.“
He offers me his palm, once again, but now it’s in order for me to accept his friendship.
I stare at it for some time.
It’s like an exact replica of an old memory, with James doing the same.
The first of November, 2022
James finally came out of his room. I could almost smell the stink of someone being in it for 24 hours straight. His hair was messy, as were his pajamas. Well, at least he put on some, for a change.
„Good evening.“ I tried to contain my excitement because of what happened at Halloween, since he most likely didn’t remember what he did.
But, in spite of that, he still did it. And it must mean something, right?
„Woah, is it that late?“ He rubbed his eyes, finally taking in the sight of my sitting form by the fireplace.
„Sure is.“ I lowered down my notes and gazed back at the somnolent boy.
He squinted in my direction. „What happened last night?“
„You got drunk.“
„That’s to be expected. I mean, did I do something stupid... more so than usually?“
I bit my lip, my heart beating in madness. „No, you didn’t.“
„Great.“ He sat down beside me, smiling. „Hey, thanks for coming with me. I really needed company, even though now I can’t remember you were there for the most part.“
I smiled back at him. „You’re welcome. And, hey, if you need company some time again...“
James grinned at me. „You’d do that for me?“
„Why not?“ I shrugged.
He inspected me for awhile but then he offered me his hand. „Let’s do it the proper way, then.“
I blinked, confused.
„Will you, Tatum Kenward, be my friend and follow me on my adventures, however insane they appear or turn out to be?“
My heart started pounding. This is it. This is what I’d wanted since I first saw him in that boat nearing Hogwarts six years ago.
I grinned like I’d never get the chance to do so ever again and took his hand into mine.
„I will.“ I practically shrieked.
Because I knew, deep inside, even though James didn’t remember Halloween, it was a sign he liked me more than he himself realized. And the fact that he wanted to be friends now was just further proof of that.
I can’t believe how incredibly stupid I was.
I nervously gaze at the outstretched hand. After everything that happened with James, how can I trust another Potter boy?
But this is Albus. Healer Albus. Children-adore-me Albus. I-run-away-when-I’m-scared Albus. I-don’t-want-you-to-become-Rose’s-new-toy Albus.
I glance at his eyes once again, catching what appears to be a gleam of hope somewhere in there and I finally accept his palm with a confident smile.
Instead smiling back, though, Albus smirks once again, looking so much like his brother that it terrifies me. But I’m sure he’ll never hurt me like James. Because... he’s the good Potter.
Warning: Two characters mention a drug as a part of a joke, but they do not use it.
A/N: So, yup, I had to write that warning, just in case. But it’s all done in a light mood, so I hope it doesn’t prevent you from reading. After all, here’s where you’ll learn about Albus’ true reason for not taking Tatum to the wedding. ;) Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not and never will be mine.
Once again, Ash is staring at me from the entrance of my room, her hands crossed tightly over her chest.
I sigh, a little unnerved. „What?“
„He’s cute, you know.“ Her face remains blank, like most times, but I sense a smile in her voice.
„You don’t say?“ I smirk, debating with myself weather to zip or unzip my light leather jacket.
Ash appears slightly surprised by my words.
„I’m not blind, Ash.“ I roll my eyes. „But he’s got too much potential to reduce him to just looks.“
„Too much potential for what?“
I finally face her completely, a little annoyed. „Go on, tell me what you’re really thinking.“
Ash takes in my look, nodding. „You put real effort into it. You never cared much for how you dress. Until two days ago. Until you started hanging out with Albus Potter, that is.“
„So...“ She takes a deep breath. „I think you like him more than you let yourself admit.“
„He’s a friend, Ash. I’m not messing this up.“
„You mean like you messed up your friendship with James by falling in love with him?“
I frown. „What is this, an interrogation day?“
Ash nears me and unzips my jacket, leaving my decollate free from any fabric shields.
„It’s an even if I don’t want to admit it, I care about you day.“ She finally smiles and turns me to the mirror once again, fixing my hair a bit. „Just promise me this. Even if you dare to let your walls fall down again, don’t blame yourself this time around.“
With that, she leaves me to stare at my reflection. My body seems somewhat foreign, what with being in a pair of skinny black jeans and a low cut silver shirt. A strange feeling creeps from the pit of my stomach.
Damn you, Ash! I was perfectly happy being completely care free. And I still don’t exactly know what she wants me to do. What, fall in love with Albus? I can’t do that! Well, ok, I could. But there’s still this one huge idiot who won’t let me, whom Ash seems to have forgotten. James Sirius Potter. The bane of my existence. And, sadly, still the only guy who makes my legs turn into jelly even without that dreaded hex.
But there’s no more time to ponder, since I hear the door bell. Taking a last glance at the mirror, I head out to greet Albus. But when I open the door...
...I am almost strangled with Willow’s embrace.
„Oh my Merlin!“ I return the favour.
The noises we make are loud enough for Ash to creep out of her room again. Willow positively squeals upon spotting her. Yes, Ash and Willow dig each other annoyingly much. I guess it’s inevitable, what with both of them judging me constantly. I suppose that’s how most people in my life bond and more so with each other than me, of course. I really do need Albus in my life, don’t I?
Just when I think about him, he apparates in front of the still open door.
„Oh, bad timing?“ He asks.
Willow turns to me, her eyes as big as those of an owl.
„I don’t know if you remember, this is Willow Lynch, my best friend from Hogwarts.“
Albus takes her hand and shakes it lightly with a smile. „I do remember you, actually. We were in the same house, after all.“
See? Albus is nothing like his brother. He actually remembers people. Even those he never spoke to, I presume.
Willow is giving me the look, throughout. The what is the meaning of this look.
„Maybe we should postpone our date?“ Al suggests.
„Date?“ Willow almost shrieks, but Ash shakes her head in warning, thankfully, so it comes out as a slightly load question.
„It’s just a friendly hang out.“ I roll my eyes.
„Oh, no. Don’t postpone it.“ Will quickly adds. „It’s not like I just got here. But Albus did and you shouldn’t make him wait, that’s rude.“
She laughs and pats my back forcefully.
„But what about your suitcase?“ Albus teases about the big yellow case sitting on the floor, implying he’s well aware that Willow did indeed just arrive.
„Oh, that.“ She stares at it dumbly for a moment before her Ravenclaw brain produces a believable answer. „Just got back from my boyfriend’s flat. Yup, I always take a tone of lingerie since that’s what makes him-“
„All right, I think we heard enough about it.“ I shove Willow inside and take my place beside Albus.
If this is what she wants, then I won’t protest.
After a quick goodbye, Albus and I are gone. We apparate to The Mayflower again to what I frown. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best pubs I’ve been to. But I feel like this is his and Emma’s place and I’m a whole other person. I don’t want to be a replacement, even if that’s what Al has on mind. I want to be... well, me.
I squeeze his hand once again and he narrows his eyes at me. „Can I take you to my favourite bar, instead?“
He smiles. „What am I to expect?“
„Oh... a little bit of crazy, I guess.“
He nods, as if that doesn’t surprise him at all.
We appear in a small corridor, once again, sheltered by darkness, mere seconds later. When I lead him out, we end up standing in front of a three story building.
„The Sir Richard Steele?“ Albus reads the sign. „I’ve never been here before.“
„Curious. It’s one of the most popular London pubs.“ I tease him to what he rolls his eyes.
I lead him inside, leaving the red and white facade behind.
„Well... this is... random.“ He comments upon inspecting the interior.
I giggle. „Spot on observation.“
I run to the spot next to the stairs, in the right corner, shielded by a shelf covered in books and a few photos. Next to the wooden settle there’s an old fireplace that doesn’t currently work. Actually, the coziest spot in the entire pub.
I plop myself down just below the stairs and Albus takes the seat next to me, nodding. „I approve.“
„I didn’t expect anything less.“
He takes a second to observe the paintings on the ceiling, clearly not over with analyzing the place.
„It’s so old and quirky. Plus the books. Totally you.“
„Hey, you know me for less than a week. How would you know what’s totally me?“ I mock him slightly.
„You’re not that hard to figure out, Tate.“
„I beg to differ.“ I cross my arms, slightly offended, since, after all, I take pride in being a mysterious, brooding Slytherin. „Urgh, and don’t call me Tate.“
„Then how should I call you?“ He completely ignores my protests about being dubbed easily understood.
„Jill. It’s my middle name.“
„No...“ Al frowns. „I want to have a special nickname for you.“
„Because I’m your special buddy?“ I laugh before realizing exactly what I just uttered. „I mean...“
His eyes lit up suddenly. „That’s it.“
„Ty?“ I ponder. „I can deal with that. What should I call you, then? I need a special nickname for you, as well.“
He stares at me intently for a moment, expecting who knows what, and that’s when it comes to me. „Verdant!“
„As in... green?“
„Yes but it also means being inexperienced. So... green for your eyes and inexperienced for, well... that’s self explanatory. And I’m shortening it to Ver.“ I smile proudly.
„I’m not inexperienced.“ He huffs.
„Sorry, but didn’t you tell me it was Emma who took you to pubs to begin with? Besides, I don’t recall any of your girlfriends or notable troubles in your life, considering you’re a Potter. You’ve only ever had a sheltered life.“ I prattle, until I grasp the magnitude of my own words.
Then I stop, mortified I’m already about to lose him as a potential friend. Which, considering my track, isn’t too strange.
„I’m sorry. I went too far. I do that sometimes. Ok, a lot. But...“
„Shhh, Ty.“ He puts a suiting hand on my back. „You don’t have to apologize. Nor should you. Not with me, at least. I like that you say what’s on your mind. Especially if it’s true.“
I observe him, staying silent for once.
„I’ve been holding back my whole life. Seemed much easier. Since... in the rare occasions I did open up, I ended up hurting people or getting hurt myself. I’m not very good at socializing. Even with Emma...“
He makes a pause and I urge him to continue, not letting him know that the other Potter boy already filled me in. „What happened with Emma?“
He looks at me, hesitating, and then sips a bit of his beer. Hey, cut the guy some slack, it’s Sunday.
„It’s good for you, you know. To talk about it.“
He nods, sighing, understanding exactly what I mean. But that doesn’t prevent him from being slightly infirm.
Nevertheless, he speaks up again.„I met her at my Healer studies. Well, our Healer studies. She was training to be one, as well. Bright young witch. Talented beyond belief. I knew immediately I wanted to befriend her. Just like I did with you. You both have... something that instantly pulls me in.“
I smile contently. „What is that?“
Albus ponders about it for a moment. „I don’t know... There’s an air of... joy surrounding you, I guess.“
I burst into laughter.
„What?“ He smiles, confused by my reaction.
„It’s just... Willow always told me I was crazy. Mum and dad constantly tell me I’m too pushy. And Ash thinks I’m beyond lazy. Are you sure you have the right idea of me?“
„Oh, but it’s not an idea. It’s a deep feeling that goes beyond mere surface. You have gaiety in you, lots of it. You’re just not aware of it because... maybe you’ve been too focused on the negative aspects of your life to see just how many things there are to be gleeful about. But you’ll eventually let go of it, the resentment, I mean.“
I stare at him, my mouth hanging open dumbly. „That’s... somewhat accurate.“
He rolls his eyes, clearly full of himself. „Please, I know I’m spot on. I have a sixth sense about people. That’s why I want to befriend you. And that’s why I wished to do the same with Emma. We were partners for the whole course of our studies. And so we established a great bond. But... Emma saw something more in it. A possibility for a love that I couldn’t offer to her. Not then, anyway.“
„But why?“ I whisper.
This is something James didn’t tell me about. This is something that would also explain why I never heard of Albus’ love life before. It has to be a disillusion of some sort. It always is, isn’t it?
He turns to gaze at me softly. „I was already in love.“
„And not with her.“ I whisper.
„And not with her.“ He repeats, bowing slowly.
We stay silent for a moment, both looking out the window to our right, watching the busy people flee down the street. I feel strangely calm, as if Albus’ confession has made me closer to him in a way that requires no words.
Still, he decides to offer them. „You won’t ask me who she is?“
I shrug. „I don’t think I need to know.“
He smiles at me with clear admiration but goes on to further explain regardless. „I have known her since we were children. But it wasn’t until Hogwarts that I fell in love with her. First year, Potions class. I guess it’s part of the reason why I pursued the Healer career. I always associated potions with happiness after that.“
„Do you still...“ My voice breaks slightly.
I think I’m hoping he says yes, so that we have another bond: irrationally long crushes on people who ignore us.
„She got married a few days ago.“ He just says, trying hard not to rift.
And that’s when everything clicks in my mind.
„Oh, Merlin, will she be there as well? Is she one of the guests along with her husband!?“
Albus turns his head from the window to my wide open eyes once more, a sorrowful gleam in his emerald pair. „I thought she was off on her honeymoon. So I gladly accepted to be your companion. But then I accidentally heard her... heard them talking to Rose about postponing their trip in her honour. And I just... I’m sorry I didn’t tell you immediately. But I wanted to keep it to myself. And that’s easier achieved if I stay alone. I can get lost from the wedding effortlessly only if I have no duties to a consort. I can vanish as soon as the I do’s are over. So I’m not forced to spend time with her... I won’t be able to handle it, not now that she’s married.“
He takes a moment to regain himself before adding. „Besides... I really think the other stuff is true, as well, that Rose will want to pair us up.“
I take his hand gently to what he almost pulls away, surprised by the touch.
„I wasn’t keen on going to the wedding myself. Part of the reason being Rose. But the rest...“ I gaze up at his curious face. „We’re in similarly shitty situations, Pot.“
My eyes then suddenly fill with delight. „Merlin, it was right there! The most perfect nickname ever. Pot for pothead!“
I sit back, laughing uncontrollably. The waiter eyes me from the bar suspiciously.
Albus, on the other hand, shakes his head in amusement. „See. Goes straight from being miserably in love to joking about marijuana smokers. That’s the reason why I want to be friends with you. By the way, that’s a really old jest. Even I, as someone who has less contact with the Muggle culture than you, know that.“
„Whatever, Pot. Hand me that beer.“
„You’re not really sticking to calling me that, are you?“
„Watch me, Pot.“
„I’ll come up with a more offensive nickname, too.“
„Pot isn’t offensive. It’s fun.“
„Well, then, I’ll just call you Ward, because you’re certifiably insane so it suits. Plus, it’s a part of your surname, as well.“ He smirks at me, not letting go.
„Drop it, Pot. You can’t out wit a Slytherin.“
„I think I already did. Multiple times.“
„I’m sorry.“ We turn to the disturbed face of our waiter now standing right above us. „Our other guests are bothered by you.“
„It’s the pot, isn’t it? Or the ward? Or both?“ I wonder.
„No... just... you two in general.“
The next thing I know we’re outside laughing.
„Merlin, that was diverting!“ Albus stops enough to utter this and breath a little.
I smirk at him.
„Want to do that in some other pubs, as well?“
He takes a look at his clock. „We have around two more hours before I have to meet Rose about another emergency. I seriously hate the W.E.T. person badge.“
„That’s more than enough.“ I search for his palm, giddy. „Let’s go!“
And so, we disappear from the Belsize Park to another part of London, looking to wreak havoc and have some much needed fun along the way.
„So... that was fun.“ Albus smiles at me, after we apparate in front of my door.
I nod happily, agreeing.
There’s a short silence interrupted by him again, his voice now determined. „You know what... Let’s go to the wedding together, after all.“
I frown at him. „What?“
„I know, I know. Now I have no excuses for being compared to a whiny teenager anymore. It’s just... If it was anyone else, it would be easier going alone. But... You’re... Someone who insists on calling me Pot, can’t hold a beer and speaks Spanish when drunk. I think, no matter what... We can help each other out on that wedding. We can survive it together.“ He smiles at me and I do, as well.
„El placer seria mia.“
He leans in and kisses my cheek. „I hope you didn’t return the dress.“
„I didnt. I guess I was planning to crash the wedding on my own, anyway.“ I wink as he takes a step back.
He gazes at me for a moment before continuing. „Thanks for the date.“
And with a cheeky grin he’s off, leaving me alone in the corridor.
I open the door only to hit Willow in the face, since she’s obviously been listening to us pressed on it.
„Oh, I’m sorry!“ I crouch down next to her, as she covers her nose with her palm, blood streaming from it.
„It’s all right. I did stick it where it didn’t belong, anyway.“
I help her up and she performs the Episkey spell with her wand. It takes her about a second to beam again and pull me down on the couch.
„Now you owe me the story, from start to end. All of it.“
„You just said you deserved the hit in the face.“
„Don’t test me, Kenward!“
I sigh. „Fiiiiine.“
At this point Ash walks in, as well, levitating a chocolate muffin for each of us. Sitting down, they both face me in anticipation. Well, Ash doesn’t show it as much, but it’s there. I can practically smell it.
„I don’t really know what you want me to say.“
So I tell them.
By the end of the story Ash has made even more muffins and the two of them have eaten about a dozen each, making ah and oh sounds along the way.
„Why is it that the most interesting things happen when I’m not around?“ Will sighs.
„Because you’re constantly away.“ I retort, without trying to make it seem as if I’m accusing her. „Besides, you sometimes do stumble upon them. Like today.“
„Or the last time.“ Willow casts a timid look in Ash’s direction, who’s clearly desperate to avoid her gaze.
The twentieth of December, 2027
I was trying to produce a bearable article for the worst column I had written for and I had written some serious crap in my short journalistic life. Namely, Spells and food: How to seduce him with your magical cooking. I didn’t even know how to make a decent sandwich, so that says it all. To add to the disaster, that’s when my boss, Blossom White, decided to make herself present in my abnormally small office. I greeted my teeth at her pink nails, which she had stuck somewhere in her large bundle of curly red hair, as to rearrange it somehow.
„How is it going, sweetie pie?“
I know, I know. I shouldn’t hate on someone who insists calling people pies, ’cause she probably didn’t know any better. But for me, that was the exact reason I couldn’t stand her and that overly sweet voice of hers.
„Fine.“ I managed to force a smile, which probably just made me look like a crazy person.
„Oh, good. Because I was wondering if you could take some time to go with me to visit my mother this afternoon. I could use company.“
That’s another reason why I detested Blossom White. I was sort of her escort and unable to refuse in fear of being fired. She prevented me from having a personal life of my own! Not that she was the sole responsible for that, but still. I stood by my point.
But my mouth was left hanging open since my answer was cut off by Willow popping in, her face pale and covered in a disturbed expression.
„I promise, I will apparate in front of your door from now on.“ She went on to hug me.
„Oh, dear, did you find a dead body in her flat?“ This was Blossom’s first idea at that statement.
Why would she let someone she felt could have a dead body inside her flat go see her ill mother? Or... maybe she hoped I would slip more sleeping potion than it was allowed in her mother’s drink instead of her. Why yes, my mind was a dark place.
I threw Will a pleading look so she would save me from my misery and, thankfully, she understood. „Oh, yes. It was dreadful. A man tried to break in but her room mate fought him and... It was her first Avada and she’s still under shock and... She really needs you, Jill.“
„Oh, Merlin! Go, Tatum, go!“ My boss shrieked.
„But what about your mother?“ I added, just for fun.
„She’ll live.“ Blossom said with a tone that wasn’t too cheerful.
See? I wasn’t imagining it, she really did hate her mother.
Willow and I stumbled outside and, on a safe distance, I burst into laughter.
„Right. Laugh all you want. I’m still not apparating directly to your flat anymore.“ Willow cut me off darkly.
„Oh, Merlin. What did you find in there?“
„I don’t want to talk about it.“ She avoided my gaze.
Later on I found out that she caught Ash and her then shag, Tom Whatshisname, in a very disturbing activity.
„I wish it was sex.“ Willow almost sobbed.
„Oh, shut up.“ Ash rolled her eyes.
„Come on, will you two ever tell me what it was?“
„NO!“ They shrieked at the same time.
„I find that utterly discriminating.“ I huffed, offended.
But despite being totally unfair to me, Willow did save my arse from Blossom White and her mother. After that, boss distanced herself from me, which didn’t do wonders for my killer theory, but made me endlessly happy, anyway.
It also marked the beginning of Willow’s apparating outside the flat policy and an end to all her awkward encounters upon arriving to visit us based inside of our apartment.
„I still think it’s bonkers you won’t tell me what it was they were doing.“ I cross my arm and frown at Willow.
„Trust me, it’s better you stay in the dark with this one.“ She shudders.
Darn it, why do I always seek out what is bad for me? Is that just basic human nature?
I end up going to sleep pretty late that night, what with the excitement over Willow coming to visit after nine months, Ash supplying us with muffins to a point of not being able to breath from eating so much and thinking about Albus’ secret love.
And with his silly grin making itself comfortable in my mind, I finally drift off.
Monday morning. The worst thing after James Potter. Because, you know what he did? He brought his mate Wood along to show him where he works and they’re currently making fun of our office. Of my sanctuary.
His father may be a Quidditch god, but Liam Wood is far from being worth of admiration.
„And Kenward, you remember her.“
Wood narrows his eyes at me, humming. „No. I can’t place her.“
„Probably the only girl you didn’t snog.“ James supplies oh so nicely.
„Why, because you did?“ Wood asks, curious.
„Oh, Merlin, no.“ James laughs.
I then point my wand to his chest, unnerved. „One more word and I’ll Langlock you.“
„Is that some kind of spell?“ He wonders, unfazed.
I sigh deeply and lay my wand back on the table, murmuring under my breath. „Peasants.“
„Anyway, let’s see the roof again, it’s brilliant up there.“ James chooses to ignore my whispering.
„Not so fast, James.“
I look up to see Mrs Potter frown at her son and his mate and I beam gratefully.
„You two need to come with me.“
Potter and Wood near her but she stops them. „Not you, Liam. Go home.“
He shrugs and the two boys perform a complicated hand shake. „I’ll see you later, then?“
„This time you buy the pizza.“ James instructs before Wood is gone.
Mrs Potter takes us to a big hall on the second floor, that’s already filled with dozens of people. I’ve never actually been here before so the magnitude of the room amazes me. It’s so bright, as well, unlike most of Daily Prophet’s offices. The people are starting to take places at one single table, its length being some kind of a record, I’m positive.
„What’s this about?“ James asks his mother.
„We’re getting a new Chief today so you better behave.“
She instructs us to sit at two stools which are as far away from the door as possible. It’s inconvenient since the speaker is at the opposite side of the room.
Thankfully, he magnifies his voice. „Thank you all for coming. As most of you already know, our beloved Chief Lee has passed away.“
James and I share a perplexed look.
„Mum, why didn’t you...“
„Shhh.“ She hushes us so we return to listening.
„ And though we’re in pain over this great loss, we need another person to lead us. Today, we decided who that’s going to be. Dear colleagues, I present to you your new Chief Editor, Miss Sunshine Lloyd.“
My mouth falls open in shock. And I’m not the only one. Confused looks are shared when a petite, black haired girl walks into the room. Even though she’s in a working suit, black of course, she still doesn’t seem older than seventeen. The only thing different is that her hair is long enough for it to be tied in an surprisingly elegant ponytail.
„Thank you, Dorian.“ She salutes the man who introduced her mere seconds ago with her magnified voice, as well.
Then she turns to us, the employees. „Not quite what you excepted, I believe. But if you ask me, it’s time to shake things up a little around here. Wouldn’t you agree? Although I don’t dispute Mr Lee’s vision about this paper, I have my own ideas and I know you’ll enjoy them. Don’t worry, I have enough experience to carry them out.“
I immediately remember our last talk from when I met her at Witch Weekly. Back then I was someone who desperately wanted to get a job there, as well. So I fought for an interview. Oh, had I known Blossom would take over just a few months later, I don’t think I’d ever set my foot there.
I was sitting primly on my chair, waiting for my interviewer to arrive, all the while stealing glances at the office. It was well lit, spacious and filled with newspapers. I could only dream of working in a place like this. So, all right, I knew it was Witch Weekly, but when you’re coming from Daisy’s Daisies (Don’t ask.) everything is a treat. And Daily Prophet just seemed like a far away dream at this point.
Finally, the door opened and I heard footsteps behind me.
„Miss... No way!“
I turned around to see Sunshine Lloyd gape at me. She looked the same, dark baggy clothes, dark make up and long messy hair, her golden-hazel eyes being the only bright detail on her entire petite body.
„Chief?“ I stared at her. „Well, this is a surprise.“
She offered me a brief hug, which was significant coming from her, and sat at her spot opposite me. „Is it, really?“
I smiled. „Well, since you’re once again in a superior position, I guess not.“
She tried not to laugh at the jab. „So, you’ve decided to pursue journalism as well, I see?“
„Guilty as charged.“ I smirk. „Mostly because I’m not good at anything else.“
Sunshine nodded. „I concur.“
There was a short moment of silence before she spoke again. „Sooo... you want to work here?“
„Yes, I do.“
She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at me. „Look, Kenward, I’ll do this just because I somewhat like you. Don’t.“
„Don’t what?“ I was confused.
„Don’t become employed here.“ She frowned at me.
„I don’t understand...“
„Trust me, this is the place people come to when they’re desperate. And what do you get when you gather so many desperate people at one place?“
„A frickin’ hell hole!“ She leaned over the desk and looked straight into my eyes. „Run while you still can.“
Suddenly, a knock was heard and a pretty blond girl peeked in. „Miss Lloyd, Chief wants to see you.“
She sighed. „Fine, I’m coming.“
The girl disappeared quickly enough.
„Should’ve used Muffliato as a precaution. I never learn.“ Sunshine whispered more to herself than me. „Look, come back tomorrow. If you still want to work here, I’ll hire you. But, promise me this, you’ll think it through.“
„I will.“ I lied.
I needed that job! I couldn’t just stay where I was for years to come. As absurd as it sounded, Witch Weekly was a step up in my career. And Sunshine Lloyd wasn’t going to scare me off. For all I knew, she saw me as a rival and wanted me to stay away from her.
Why do I never listen, Merlin?!
I came back tomorrow, of course. Sunshine wasn’t there anymore. Apparently, her boss did hear what she was saying to me (Later, I found out they had Weasley extended ears placed everywhere!) and she got fired. My new interviewer assured me that Lloyd was insane and that I would enjoy working with them profoundly. So I accepted.
And that’s how I got stuck there for three more years.
Sunshine, on the other hand, appears to have made the best of her term of notice. That girl is pure ambition.
In one quick moment she looks over to me and I wave.
„I have to go.“ James announces and leaves the room.
Chief (Huh, it seems her nickname will always be appropriate.) takes the chance to near me, instead.
„I swear, it’s like you’re stalking me, Kenward.“
„I could say the same.“ I smile, offering my hand.
She accepts it with a curious look on her face. „Say, wasn’t that James Potter standing by your side erewhile?“
I nod. „Ridiculous, isn’t it?“
„Well, I certainly didn’t expect to see him employed here.“
„He’s just counting his days until he figures out what to do with his life.“ I explain.
„What about Quidditch? I’m sorry, I wasn’t even in the country for the past two years, I’m not familiar with anyone’s whereabouts.“
Out of the country? I should have expected her to go that far.
„He got badly injured. He can’t play anymore.“
„Ah.“ She nods slowly, staring in the direction James ran off with an almost sorrowful expression. „That’s a shame.“
She then turns to me again, her curious gaze back. „What about you? Which department to do work in?“
„I’m Mrs Potter’s assistant.“ I answer proudly. „I want to be a Quidditch journalist one day.“
Sunshine examines me, her lips turned into an amused half smile. „I never took you for a Quidditch kind of person.“
„I wasn’t.“ I retort sincerely. „Not until our seventh year when I took an interest in it... At first it was kind of misplaced, but later on I figured I really do want to write about it.“
Sunshine, well Chief, observes me with care, humming quietly to herself for a while. She’s obviously thinking about my words, but in what way... I’m not really sure.
Suddenly, she instructs me to follow her into her office and I oblige. It’s a luxurious room right next to the one where the announcement was just made. Not to be mistaken for anything else but an office of the person in charge. Chief asks me to sit and I listen to her, making myself comfortable in one of the two chairs opposite her. It feels like I’m floating on a cloud. My bottom has never enjoyed sitting more than now, I must say. All the while, my new boss is looking through some papers, absorbed.
„Look, Kenward.“ Chief suddenly interrupts my thoughts when she gives her paperwork a rest. „Since we can’t seem to shake each other off, what do you think of actually writing about Quidditch under my watch?“
I blink, lost for words until I succeed to utter somehow. „Are you serious?“
„Why not?“ She shrugs. „I believe it’s time young people take matters in their hands around here. It will do wonders for Daily Prophet. I hear it was in quite a rut. No disrespect to Mr Lee, of course, but we can bring back the glory this paper once had. What do you say?“
I blink, still startled. „But what about Mrs Potter?“
„She’ll stay the Senior correspondent, of course, with you becoming her first ancillary. It’s time she starts sharing her knowledge with another journalist. Don’t you think?“
This isn’t the first time I’m being offered a big break, even though you would think that with me being... well, me.
The Fall of 2023
It was early October and my fourth month visiting Mrs Bolt, aka my psychologist. I was sitting back in one of her armchairs, playing with my dark locks, when the woman in question walked in with a big smile on her face.
„I brought you these.“ She offered me a basket of cookies.
„Thanks.“ I bit into one, sighing contently. „So... why did you want to see me?“
It wasn’t my term and we usually stayed faithful to those, so I was a little surprised she called me up.
„I think you’re ready.“ She grinned at me and handed me a piece of paper.
I took it curiously and read what it said.
I looked back up at Mrs Bolt, astounded. „I can’t...“
„Yes, you can, Jill. We’ve figured it out already, remember? Quidditch is something you’d like to write about, no matter how it all started. And Maya is an old friend. She assured me that Quidditch Today is an aspiring paper.“
„It’s not just aspiring. It’s the most famous Quidditch paper in whole England.“ I concluded with a respectful shiver. „That’s why I can’t accept it.“
Mrs Bolt eyed me for a moment, curious. „I hope this is not because you still plan to carry that scheme out.“
I bit my lip. „No. I just... I’m not prepared to jump into it so fast. I need to build up to it. I really do need the experience. I don’t know if you understand.“
Mrs Bolt took the card back, smiling. „I do. I just hope you’re doing this for the right reasons.“
„Don’t worry, I am.“
I wasn’t. Not then, at least. It was too soon after graduation and I was still very much hurt. I wanted to have my revenge, whatever that meant.
I smile at Chief, a determined look in my eyes. „I could handle that.“
She puts her small hand on my shoulder, a reassuring glint in her bright eyes. „And this time no one’s getting fired. Well, maybe except James.“
We snicker at that, before she leads me out to show me my new office.
A/N: The next chapter is probably my favourite among those I have already written, so I recommend that you don’t miss it. ;)
A/N: My favourite chappy (Well, up until now, anyway.) is finally here. Enjoy. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
It’s Tuesday and I’m officially basking in my new work place, although my small stuffy office will be dearly missed. I’m right next to Mrs Potter this time, so we can collaborate and discuss articles as needed. She was very happy for me, stating that she would’ve given me the job herself, if Mr Lee hadn’t been the one with the responsibility. Thankfully, now I have Chief on my side.
I mean, can life be any more perfect than right now?
That’s when my daydream is shattered upon hearing two guys arguing while nearing my office. I already know who they are but that doesn’t prevent me from sighing when Albus and James enter the room, practically barking at each other.
„I will never forgive you for leaving me alone in that dirty office, Tatum.“ James whines upon directing his attention from his brother at me.
„She doesn’t like being called that.“ Albus interrupts.
„What?“ James is puzzled.
„Tatum.“ Al rolls his eyes.
„But that’s her name.“
Albus and I share a disbelief ridden look.
„James.“ I stand up. „Go back to your office. If your mother sees you wandering around...“
„I’m not a child!“ He whines yet again and runs out of the room, leaving his brother alone with me.
„I swear, sometimes I wonder if mum had an affair before delivering me and Lily.“ He sighs.
I chuckle in response. „It appears he’s getting worse with the wedding nearing. Although, I can’t blame him. It seems Vanessa is torturing him with suit shopping and hair fixing and whatnot.“
„He chose her as a girlfriend, so there’s no one else to blame, really.“ Albus shakes his head.
I decide to drop the issue, not in the mood to discuss James’ girlfriend any further, instead focusing my attention on the other Potter.
„So, to what do I owe the honour?“ I smile at him teasingly.
„I just dropped by in my lunch break to inform you that Rose and Scorpius want to give you their pre wedding interviews this afternoon.“ He sighs, handing me a paper with the address of their apartment written on it. „Did I mention that I detest being her emergency guy already?“
„Every day.“ I confirm, mocking him slightly.
Albus finally smiles, letting his tension melt away. „Also, I wanted to ask if you could come over to my flat tomorrow?“
A warm, tremulous feeling suddenly awakes from the pit of my stomach.
„Why?“ I ask all shilly-shally.
„To try out our outfits together, play games, have fun, just something to ease the stress.“ He bites his full lip. „James isn’t the only one becoming more nervous as the wedding approaches, you know.“
I nod my head in understanding. „I know. All right then, I’ll come over. Where do you live?“
„I’ll pick you up after work, don’t worry.“ He smiles and comes over to place a kiss on my cheek. „See you tomorrow.“
With that, he exits the office, leaving me alone.
Great, Jill. You just can’t seem to refuse making favours for Potters, can you?
But this isn’t a favour, I remind myself. Albus is my friend, the one James never could or wanted to be. I guess it’s just hard getting used to a Potter boy actually caring in return.
Rose and Scorpius don’t live in a flat, but a two story house, much to my disbelief. It’s located in the garden suburb of Hampstead, about seven miles from the city centre of London. The sight actually takes my breath away as it feels out of place so near to the hustle of England’s biggest city. The yard is shielded by a one meter high green barrier and the outer walls of the building are covered in red climber plants, making it easy to believe that this house has grown out of the ground by itself, just like the numerous herbs. I step inside the court and immediately my gaze is drawn by a house elf tending to the garden flowers of all colors and sizes. He looks up me, as well, his big, strikingly green eyes piercing mine.
„Hello.“ I smile at him, a little startled that a house elf is walking around in broad daylight in a muggle suburb.
„Greeny wishes you a good day, Miss Kenward.“ He bows slightly. „Miss Rose and Mr Scorpius are waiting for you in their home.“
„Oh, thank you. Have a nice day, too.“ I nod at him and proceed to the door.
I knock loudly, since there isn’t any door bell, which doesn’t surprise me. The house appears to be quite old, after all, albeit well kept.
A moment later, Rose opens the door, beaming at me. „I’m so happy Albus came to his senses and you’re going to the wedding. Come in.“
I walk inside only to be even more amazed at their house. The interior is dominated by white wood and quirky furniture, but it’s clearly all matched in style by someone who has a neck for art.
Rose leads me into the living room, which is bright and smells of home made sweets. To the right there’s a big fireplace and a line of cupboards with plenty of framed photos standing on their wooden tops. To the left, a big couch and a few armchairs in mainly red colors are surrounding a wide black table with a bowl of cookies on it. Ahh, so that’s where the lovely smell comes from.
A medium sized window just opposite the entrance reveals the house elf still working in the garden.
„Greeny is our employee.“ Rose supplies. „Does lovely work with the flowers. Mum would disown me if he was working for free.“
I smile amused, because, yes, Hermione Weasley certainly would have an outrage in that scenario, but then, suddenly, I remember my puzzlement from before. „But isn’t it a bit dangerous for him to wander around in a muggle suburb?“
„Oh, no.“ Rose chuckles. „Hampstead is very much aware and open to magic and everything that comes with it. Children are constantly flying on brooms and befriending each other, no matter their heritage. It’s kind of like an utopia of some sort.“
„It must be great living here.“
„Oh, it is!“ Rose agrees enthusiastically. „When I first moved in with Scorpius I thought it’d drive me insane. I mean, Rose Weasley in a suburb? A little hard to picture.“
She snorts and I grin because she’s completely right. It is hard to picture. But Rose doesn’t fail to surprise me as of late.
„But then, after actually residing here for some time, I realized... this is the best bloody place in the world!“
„It sure looks heavenly.“ I comply.
As if she just remembered something, Rose turns to me hastily. „Hold on, I’m going upstairs to call Scorpius. He’s working on some boring paperwork for the Ministry, the poor thing. Make yourself comfortable.“
She leaves me to myself and runs up the stairs next to the living room. I look around and decide to take a glance at the photos to kill some time as I wait. Most of them are of the happy pair, as I note upon observing. There’s one of them dancing, one of them making faces at the camera and one with splashing around in water. And all of them have one thing in common: Rose and Scorpius look so in love, it’s tangible even in moving frames. It makes me feel beyond jealous. What? It’s hard not envying someone so lucky.
Soon enough Rose is back with Scorpius following her step, a big grin on his sharp features. „Well, isn’t it Tatum Kenward, Hogwarts’ star reporter.“
He hugs me before I even produce an answer. „How do you know me?“
„How can I not know you?“ He lets me recover from his tight grip as we all sit down around the table.
„I always had this impression that I was a nobody at school.“ I joke (but not really).
„Rose and I couldn’t ignore you when you constantly wrote about us, even if we wanted to. Plus, that last article... Really, who was your source?“
„Mal, I already told you she can’t reveal that.“ Rose rolls her eyes in amusement.
„Right, journalists’ honour.“ He smiles at me. „Besides, now you’re hanging out with Albus. So we’re bound to bump shoulders. But, I must warn you, I’m very possessive of him.“
„I sometimes wonder who should really be getting married here.“ Rose mocks, leaning into a kiss.
„What can I say, bromances are in style now.“ Scorpius shrugs with nonchalance before responding to the kiss.
Merlin, pour some more salt into my single’s heart wound, will you!?
I smile at them, trying not to appear as ragingly jundiced of their love as I truly am.
„Well...“ I get my paper and pen charmed to take notes for me out of the bag thrown over my shoulder and smile at them. „Shall we begin?“
I end up staying for diner, since the interviews, both joint and separate, take more time than expected.
„Are you guys ok with me selling them to Spells?“ I ask as Rose levitates my plate in front of me, followed by a cup of lemon tea. „After I do the wedding exclusive too, of course?“
„You can do whatever you please.“ Rose notes and Scorpius nods in agreement. „After all, there may not even be a wedding without you.“
„I don’t think I’m that responsible for you two getting together.“ I shake my head.
„Rose never forgets favours, however small and unintentional they are.“ Scorpius smiles at her in adoration.
I nod, feeling a bit uneasy.
Albus is right, Rose won’t stop until something happens between the two of us. I don’t like being forced into things. It usually makes me lose interest for the very same thing I’m being forced into. And, besides, Albus is pining after another girl, which I’m pretty certain Rose must be aware of to some extend. It’s clear the fates are not in our favour.
So then why does Rose keep insisting?
Will and Ash wait for me patiently since I, quote, need their help to at least appear decent tomorrow.
„Girls, it’s not a date.“ I roll my eyes at their insisting.
„I beg to differ. It may even get physical.“ Will winks at me in a suggestive manner.
„Eww, no.“ I frown.
„Are you saying Albus Potter repulses you?“ She looks at me in shock.
„No, he doesn’t.“ Ash smirks at me, knowingly. „She thinks he’s cute.“
„Praise Merlin. I was beginning to think you’re in love with me or something.“ Will bounces back.
„Well, maybe I am. Why do you think I call you to come visit all the time?“ I play along.
„It’s true. Oh the burden of being so fabulous.“ Willow chuckles while Ash sighs at our childish behaviour.
She takes it on herself to Accio the whole content of my closet and lay it down on the floor. We look into the numerous clothing items, lost in thoughts. The conclusion we draw together, after awhile, is that I need to buy something new from time to time, in spite of my protests. In the end Willow borrows some of her clothes, modifying them a bit to fit my slightly rounder figure.
„I just want to state, once again, that this is not a date.“
„Shut up and come out!“ Will insists so I obey.
The two girls stare at me when I enter the living room again. In Will’s mini skirt and a fun red shirt I believe I look decent enough. They don’t seem to follow my line of thoughts, though.
„There’s something missing...“ Ash says and Will agrees, nodding her head.
I hate how in sync they are.
So Ash takes her wand and performs a series of spells on my hair, with Willow providing approving sighs. After about ten minutes, they urge me to look in the mirror. I’m shell shocked to find my otherwise wavy hair completely straight and shiny. It makes me look somewhat... different. But in a good way.
It all reminds me of that dreaded Pre-Christmas ball, which turned out to be the catalyst for my hatred toward James.
The twentieth of December, 2022
I had never felt so happy like that day. From waking up to lambent snow falling slowly over the castle, to unwrapping my gown that mum sent me via our family owl. Everything was perfect, which was a nice change. If I was still sharing my dorm, my room mates would be highly annoyed by me, no doubt. They often claimed I stumbled into their house by mistake, since I was so overly enthusiastic.
„You’re a Hufflepuff in disguise, I swear.“ Bella Cartwright would tell me, scoffing.
And every time, without exceptions, I would fail to mention that the Sorting Hat indeed had trouble deciding where to place me. But upon stating that I’ll always be more self preserving than friendly, the babbling hat put me into Slytherin. And it was right. I tended to be self absorbed more often than not.
Even today, I was getting ready with little to no worry about the mess I was making. Thankfully, there were no whinny girls surrounding me this time. After hours of preparation, though, at nine o’clock sharp, I was ready. I took a look in the big mirror next to the window, sighing contently. I was in a long purple dress that clung to my figure in a quite flattering manner. And my hair was cooperating, which was good enough for me. I looked so different that I had trouble recognizing my own self. And that was a secure sign my mission was accomplished.
I walked out only to see James in an elegant suit, waiting for me with a startled expression. „You look... different.“
„The good kind of different, I hope.“ I smirked, feeling overly confident.
„You’re always full of only good surprises.“ He answered and added. „Shall we?“
I nodded and took his offered hand into mine. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I mean, yes, after Halloween I fantasized about being his date, but those were just that-fantasies. I never expected any of them to come true. But.... somehow they did.
We arrived to a full Hall and immediately girls were giving me envious looks, which just made me even more happy. I thrived on their jealousy. I acted like a true Slytherin that night, maybe even a bit too much.
The space was filled with floating candles as always, but now, they were red and glowing, making the Hall shimmer with ruddiness. It was beyond beautiful. I was only sad Willow refused to go with us. I mean, I understood. The two of us had a long tradition of avoiding the ball. And maybe I betrayed it in a way. But this was James. I couldn’t say no. I just couldn’t.
The long tables were replaced with round small ones, fit for about four people. James led me to the table that was near the bar, which was already occupied by Liam Wood and his date for the night, whom I didn’t know. She presented herself as Bridget Grignard after Wood did, even though I was well aware who he was. James started hanging out with him not so long ago, after they bonded over who knows what. I felt as though I didn’t have to know much about Bridget, though. James was all I needed for the night, after all.
As, always, I was so monstrously wrong.
At first Liam and James talked and joked around, with Bridget and myself staring awkwardly into distance. This was interrupted when a nice slow song came on and both boys offered us dances, which we gladly accepted. As James led me to a full floor, I could feel dozens of eyes watching me. But that all stopped mattering as soon as he put his arm on my lower back and swayed me to the rhythm of the song. I felt like flying, and not just because of the suspicious pumpkin juice I drank beforehand. I rested my head on his chest, listening to his heart beat steadily.
„Thanks for asking me to the ball.“ I whispered.
„That was the least I could do after you crashed all those parties with me.“ I could hear a smile in his voice.
I breathed in deeply, never feeling so content.
Only for that feeling to be crushed in mere hours later.
Namely, James and Liam disappeared after that song, leaving me alone with Bridget. I didn’t bother to strike up a conversation in hopes that James would come around soon enough. But she did that for me, anyway.
„Would you mind coming to the bathroom with me?“ She pleaded. „I’m kind of scared going there, what with that shrieking ghost.“
I accepted, only because I hoped it would kill me some time until James returns. But as we rounded the first dark corner, I got my answer as to where the said boy disappeared. He was kissing Juliet Watson, his Quidditch team and house mate. And, apparently, snogging buddy. They were so engrossed with each other that they didn’t even notice Bridget and myself staring at them.
I took that as an opportunity to turn around and run, only stopping when I was safely away and alone, dropping to my knees in the abandoned corridor. And I started sobbing, my breath getting cut off numerous times. I felt like I was suffocating, which wasn’t too far from the truth. Because in that single moment all of my hopes about James, that were even more inflamed after Halloween, were crushed. And, after years of waiting for him to notice me, I was finally too broken to continue clinging to a silly dream.
Soon, a warm pair of hands were resting on my back and I looked up to see Bridget giving me a compassionate gaze. I didn’t even care that her name was the only thing I knew about her. I threw myself into her embrace, sobbing even harder. She never said a word. And that’s why I felt forever grateful to her.
You can say that my only make-over turned into a disaster, so I don’t really like practising them, to put it lightly.
„It’ll last ’till tomorrow night, don’t worry.“ Ash assures me, interrupting my wandering thoughts. „Now, I have to go to work and I hate you for not letting me sleep even a little.“
„What?“ I protest. „You two stayed up waiting for me on your own. Don’t blame me.“
„She can’t blame me either because I’m her favourite. Right, Ash?“ Will smiles sweetly at her.
Ash sighs. „I regret the day I thought I could handle a life with a room mate.“
With that, she apparates away.
„Now you see what she’s usually like.“ I snort.
„Yeah, the illusion is shattered.“ Willow jokes, clearly not fazed. „But back to you and the younger Potter.“
„Urgh, Will, give it a rest.“
„No, wait. I just wanted to say...“ She puts her warm hand on my shoulder and smiles at me. „I don’t think you’re crazy anymore.“
„And why’s that?“ I cross my arms, not even commenting on the absurdity of her statement.
„Because you’re finally going after someone who’s emotionally available.“
She kisses my cheek and disappears into the bedroom leaving me with a very bad feeling. Ok, so I kind of didn’t mention Al’s crush in the whole story. What? He obviously wants it to be a secret between just the two of us.
Oh, Merlin. You didn’t intend for my best friend to ever think I’m sane, did you?
That day Mrs Potter seeks me out in my office with an excited grin on her face. „Come now, I’m taking you to your first game.“
My heart leaps, as I pick my bag up in a hurry.
„You should bring your jacket, as well.“ Mrs Potter suggests pointing to my coat flung over the chair.
„Why? Where exactly are we going?“ I wonder.
„North.“ Is all my boss says (Well, she is still my superior.) as we exit my office.
Two hours later, I’m fighting the horrific Northern Ireland rain, trying to see anything of the game being played between Ballycastle Bats and Wimbourne Wasps.
„Oh Merlin, this is a disaster!“
Mrs Potter chuckles at me. „Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it!“
I conjure a pair of rain glasses, inspired by the ones my boss has, and put them on, finally able to see the players. Trying to use my self writing note and pen won’t work now, so I try to memorize everything. Until I notice Mrs Potter filming the game with a magically enhanced camera, obviously way better prepared than I am. I sigh, defeated.
She notices this and pats my back in sympathy. „You think I was any better when I started? Unlike you, it took me a significant amount of time to learn because none of the more experienced journalists had time or really wanted to help me.“
„Yes, because I will teach you everything I know. Just have a little patience. This is your first game, after all.“
I smile, nodding and finally relaxing enough to watch the game in enjoyment. It’s messy and fast paced, the rain only adding to the effect. The most unnerving moment is when, due to a hard wind, Ballycastle’s Seeker Tarah Attri almost falls of her broom. But she stays collected enough and, somehow, even manages to catch the Snitch before Wasps’ Neal Beaufort.
I leap out of my seat, cheering. „That was a bloody amazing save!“
Mrs Potter’s lips turn into a knowing smirk. „I think we have our title.“
Near the end of my working hours I smile contently at the article I just finished. An amazing save leads into an amazing finish. After additional consulting with Mrs Potter she suggests that I run it by Chief. I skip happily toward her office when I notice James walking up and down in front of it.
„James?“ I utter, confused.
He snaps from his thoughts and stares at me, mortified. „I, uh... I lost my... wand... somewhere around here.“
There’s two reasons why I know he’s lying. First, he can easily use Accio to track down his wand at any time. And second, his wand is clearly stuck in his back pocket. I look at it in amusement and James noticed.
„Whatever. I don’t need to explain myself!“
„I didn’t even ask you to.“ I shrug.
Suddenly, there’s a noise heard from Chief’s office and James runs to me, pulls me over to a dark corner and puts his palm over my mouth. This should probably excite me, what with his face being just a few inches away from mine. But, surprisingly, it doesn’t. Instead, I’m just completely perplexed by the whole situation.
James waits for the noise to settle down, then pulls away from me, letting me go. „Sorry.“
„May I ask what that was for?“ I cross my arms in anticipation.
„Nothing, I just...“ He sighs. „I want to talk to Chief but I can’t. If that makes any sense.“
I narrow my eyes at him.
Before I can ask him why, though, James adds. „Please, don’t tell her I was here.“
He sounds rather desperate so I nod my head, after what James leaves in the direction of our old office.
Chief doesn’t seem to be aware of James practically stalking her. Or if she is, she doesn’t bring it up so neither do I. She accepts my article and puts it away to review later, congratulating me on surviving the first on-scene job.
I return to my office quite proud of myself only to see Albus sitting on the edge of my desk, waiting for me.
„Shall we?“ He hops of the table to offer me his hand.
I shake my head, slightly disturbed my the resemblance to the day of the Pre-Christmas ball.
No, Jill. This is not the same boy and not the same situation, therefore, he’s not a prick and you’re not miserably in love with him.
I finally smile and link my arm to his. „Lead me to your humble home then, Al.“
He smiles at me, raising his eyebrows. „So you decided to drop the other nickname?“
„Only if you drop Ward.“ I return.
He chuckles. „Agreed.“
Albus then leads me outside the building, where it’s safe to apparate, and we leave for his apartment.
„Well... I’m not convinced this should be called a humble home at all.“ I mutter after walking through his flat.
It’s conveniently located near his work place, St. Mungo, and it’s a part of a small residential building consisting of only four floors. And Albus’ happens to be occupying the last two. It’s like a two story house inside a building. The dominating color is white, with a few touches of gray, blue and green, fully expected from Albus.
„I mean...“ I look around in awe. „It’s huge!“
„Yeah, I think I exaggerated a bit when I bought it.“
„You actually own this place?“ I gape at him in amazement.
He shrugs. „Healers are well paid.“
I nod in agreement. „Makes sense. Since you suffered through your studies, unlike the rest of us.“
He laughs. „Oh, come on. Your flat is lovely. Well, the little I saw of it.“
„There’s not much more than the little you saw, to be frank.“ I add, to what he snickers in amusement.
He shows me around until we settle in the living room, debating what to do.
„Exploding snap?“ I suggest.
„No, something more... spicy.“
„Strip exploding snap?“ I suggest playfully.
He gives me an entertained look.
„What? I’m not ashamed of my body.“
„I’ll tell you what. I won’t forget your suggestion. For future references.“
„I was only joking.“ I say erratically.
„But...“ Albus ignores me. „What do you say about playing Flaming lies this time around?“
„Oh Merlin, are you sure you want this?“ I bite my lip nervously.
„After your reaction, even more so.“ He doesn’t give up.
So we prepare to play Flaming lies, which is basically a form of Truth or dare, slightly changed to fit the wizarding world. Basically, it’s mostly played by two people with a little help of a watered down version of the Veritaserum potion made and sold by the Weasleys, its effects lasting a couple of minutes at best. One player asks the question, the other drinks the potion and, obviously, has to tell the truth. If you try to fight it and lie anyway, the potion acts so that your hands become red, resembling a fire, in honour of the funny saying Liar, liar, pants on fire. Only here the hands are the ones that appear to be on flame. And if you lie, the opponent has a right to dare you to do something ridiculous, magic or no magic involved. In fact, he or she can take it so far that you have to tell the truth, anyway, as a compensation.
Being a true gentleman, Albus lets me ask the first question.
„All right, here we go. Do you...“ I think for a moment, before it hits me. „Do you hate your name?“
He laughs, obviously knowing why I ask that. „I did, when I was little. Not anymore, though.“
I observe his hands, which stay perfectly common. Crap, I lost my chance to embarrass him at the start!
Albus smirks at me and hands me the glass containing the mild truth potion. I sigh, already expecting a disaster.
„What did you think of me when we first met at St. Mungo?“
Crap! „Um... that you’re nice?“
Naturally, my hands are flaming. Double crap!
It is clear Albus is enjoying himself thinking up an impossible dare. „I dare you to tell your crush that you’re in love with him.“
He smiles trying to appear oh so innocent.
„Urgh, fine. I thought you were weird, annoying and kind of cute. Happy?“
Albus chuckles at me. „Quite, thank you. Your turn.“
„All right, then. You want to go deep, let’s go deep.“ I stare at him with confidence. „What did you think about me that day?“
„Stop copying me, Ty.“ He smiles, amused. „I thought you were interesting. And, yeah, cute.“
I try to suppress my blush, since his hands aren’t turning red. „Well, thank you.“
„I’m just telling the truth.“ Albus winks at me. „Now, entrust me... do I know your crush?“
I instantly freeze. „I thought you didn’t need to know that.“
„No, you said you didn’t need to know the identity of my crush.“
„Because I believed you’d return the favour.“ I utter, now a bit annoyed and, well, angry.
„Apparently not.“ He retorts happily. „Come on, I’m not asking for his name here. You know that my crush is a childhood friend, after all.“
„Urgh, fine.“ I bite my lip, giving up. „You do know him.“
„Is he from my family?“
„Albus, it’s not your turn to ask the question.“ I remind him.
I stay silent for a moment before I add quietly. „He is.“
„Do you still love him?“ Albus throws a significant look my way.
„Yes.“ I mutter, a little peeved, because he already knows this.
But Al is not staring at my face anymore as he’s observing my hands. I follow his gaze only to find my palms to be flaming red.
„I don’t!?“ I ask myself, completely bemused.
„I guess not.“ Albus smiles at me contentedly.
I look up to meet his blithe, emerald eyes, feeling lost.
When the bloody fuck did that happen?!
A/N: Oops, Tatum fell out of love with James. :D Does that make you happy like it makes me? I mean, just look at how James treated her at the Pre-Christmas ball. She had a right to plan a revenge, didn’t she?
Btw, the next chapter is finally dedicated to the wedding! More interesting things are coming. ;)
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Sorry for the wait, I’ve been updating the chapter images, as you can see, but now I’m back. :D
„And what happened then?“ Willow is staring at me in excitement.
„Nothing. I came over here.“ I shrug.
„What?! You left him hanging, just like that?!“
„What do you mean, left him hanging? I was confused, excused myself, wished him a good night and got home. What was I supposed to do?“
Willow’s eye actually twitches. Ash pats her back in order to calm her a tad.
„He was obviously trying to get that confession out of you so he could make a move.“
„Oh my Merlin, he fancies you, you idiot! Why do you think he invited you to his flat and made you realize that you’re over James?!“ Willow’s breathing heavily again, so it appears Ash’s patting didn’t help much.
„I don’t know. To kill some time?“
„I am going to kill you!“ Willow jumps in my direction, but before she can grab any part of my body, Ash flicks her wand and the Protego spell issues a safety shield that holds her back.
I look over to Ash, a little startled.
„I guess I can use you as a room mate a little bit longer.“ She shrugs and I smirk, satisfied that she finally admitted to liking me... sort of.
„I can’t with you anymore, I swear.“ Willow, of course, interrupts our moment of pure friendship.
„I’m sorry, but you’ve got it all wrong, Will.“ I assure her. „Albus doesn’t have the hots for me.“
„And how would you know?“ She spats, clearly pointing out my strike of clueless behaviour.
„Because he’s in love with someone else.“ It slips out before I can contain myself.
Mortified, I put my hand over my mouth as to not let anything else escape.
„Excuse me?“ Willow narrows her eyes at me and I gulp. „You did not just say that Albus Potter is in love with someone else.“
„Why does it bother you so much, anyway?“ I mutter, even though I know the reason.
„Because! You idiot, it appears you can’t like an available guy, but always go for the pathetically occupied ones, one way or another! That’s it, I withdraw my sentiment that you’re not crazy anymore!“
I gasp, offended. „You can’t do that! Especially since I don’t like Albus that way. It’s all you people around us that keep pushing it to happen!“
Willow is already prepared to yell out another insult but then she stops herself, clearly realizing something.
„Who’s campaigning for Albus and you to be a couple beside myself and Ash?“ She asks, intrigued.
„Rose Weasley, fiercely so. Not that it matters.“
Willow’s eyes light up suddenly and, I must admit, I’m a bit scared. „Oh, but it does.“
„I’m confused.“ Ash utters finally and I nod my head in sympathy.
„Don’t you see? Rose is obviously close with Al. She probably knows all about his crush. If she’s rooting for you, Jill, that means that Al’s crush is not good for him either, just like James is wrong for you on so many levels I can’t even start to count.“
„And so that automatically means Al and I are somehow soulmates?“ I scoff.
„Well, there’s a far bigger chance for that than his crush being it for him, or James being your knight in shining armour, either.“ Willow won’t back down.
I sigh, motioning to Ash to break the spell. She does so, but Will takes the first chance to run to me and smack me on the head, anyway.
„Ouch! Remind me never to trust her again!“ I yelp to a tired Ash.
„This is the second night in a row you’re doing this to me.“ My room mate complains before she goes to work again, leaving me alone with a raged Willow.
My Ravenclaw friend huffs for a few moments, taking large steps across the room. Finally, she stops at one point, rolls her eyes as if to acknowledge her own over-reacting and embraces me lightly, dropping the anger... for now. „Don’t you see I only want what’s best for you?“
„I know. But that doesn’t mean you’re always right.“ I smile at her.
She smiles back at me, smacking me lightly in the arm. „Although, I usually am.“
„Although, you usually are.“ I agree and she grins, satisfied.
„But I feel like you’re missing the big point in this story.“ I protest. „Whether Albus is suited for me or not...“
„He is.“ Will mumbles.
„...I’m over James.“ I continue, ignoring her little input. „I don’t know when and how it exactly happened, but I’m actually over him. I guess all of this confusion as to what I feel about him since I saw seem again for the first time after years was just a faint echo of the past, meddling with my new feelings for him. And that’s that… I only see him as a friend now.“
Willow smiles at me leaning her head against mine softly. „You know why I was always so against your obsession with James?“
I shake my head, choosing not to question her use of the word obsession.
„It’s not that it freaked me out, because you remember my whole deal with Timothy Hobb-it was even worse, but it’s that I never truly believed you loved him. I think you made it all up in your head, because you admired his mum and it naturally extended to him, even though you didn’t even know who he was, really. The James that you wanted to like you back and be your friend... he didn’t exist. He was merely a fantasy.“
I look at her, amazed. „I think you could probably give Mrs Bolt a run for her money.“
„It’s just a Ravenclaw thing, you wouldn’t understand.“ She says smugly.
Now it’s my turn to do the smacking.
After that, we end up giggling to tears about this and that until falling asleep, leaning on each other.
I smile contently when I notice my article in the Thursday’s number of the Daily Prophet, signed with mine and the name of my superior, Mrs Potter. Colleagues approach me to pat my back or trow a few praises my way. The Slytherin in me is thriving on acclaim, so I pretty much I feel like I’m living my dream.
But something is missing. I realize I haven’t been bugged by James all day and that’s pretty unusual concerning his track. I go to see his mother, to ask about his whereabouts, amongst other things.
„He quit yesterday.“ She informs me, clearly not surprised by his action.
„Oh... Well, I expected that. I just thought he’d say goodbye, at least.“ I can’t deny that I’m a little bit disappointed.
After all, I had a feeling James considered me as a more than a colleague at this point.
„As I understood him, you’re going to see each other at the wedding, anyway, so it’s no biggie, as he said. But yes, that was pretty rude of him.“ His mother sighs. „But, aside my bad mannered son, we have another game to attend. I was just about to call you in to tell you.“
„Oh, where are we going?“ I grin in excitement, the tiny moment of hurt washing away.
„South. No need for a jacket this time.“ She smiles and so we immediately pack our bags to leave.
Wigtown Wanderers and Tutshill Tornados don’t quite provide the same excitement as the previous opponents, since the later are far too superior for Wanderers to give any significant resistance. Nevertheless, it’s fun and I’m left quite amazed by Tornados’ skills and confident they can climb up on the list this year.
Since the game ends pretty fast, Mrs Potter says we can spend some time on sight seeing.
Tutshill is not such a big village so we end up by the famous ruined watchtower rather quickly, with Mrs Potter offering to take a few photos of me. Sitting on the rails near by, we then eat the sweets we bought on the way there. It’s peculiar spending time with someone who inspires you. Eventually you learn that your heroes are human, as well. Which doesn’t mean they are any less worthy of admiration. On the contrary.
„You’re not just James’ friend, aren’t you?“ My boss suddenly says. „Albus has been mentioning you lately, quote a lot.“
I raise my eyebrows, slightly surprised. „Well, after I became your assistant, Rose and James’ suggested I accompany Albus to the wedding and then I had a slight accident around the same time, ending up under the care of, who else, but your son. So we kind of just started... spending time together from then on.“
I realize I’ve gone into far too many details, which probably don’t concern Al’s mother.
„I think that’s great, that you’re friends, I mean. Since Albus has been quite... cheerful as of late.“ Mrs Potter smirks at me.
Oh, Merlin. Is Albus’ mother trying to set us up, as well?
What is happening with the world?!
I laugh nervously, not knowing what to add to that, really.
„He’s always been the quiet one in the family.“ Mrs Potter continues, as if she hasn’t noticed my uncomfortable state. „And, sometimes, that makes me worried that he isn’t enjoying life enough. And I want that for him. After all the studying, he deserves to relax a little. Unlike his brother.“
I try hard not to giggle, but smile politely. „I hope that at least your daughter isn’t giving you much trouble.“
„Lily?“ Mrs Potter scoffs through an amused grin. „She’s the worst one.“
„What I’m trying to say is...“ She adds after our joint laughter dies out. „Thanks for making him happy.“
I nod slightly and then look back to the watchtower before us, getting lost in my thoughts. They’re a mixture of James quitting, Chief taking over, Rose and Scorpius in love, Ash not being able to catch any sleep because of me and Will, and, of course-Albus. As days go by, his eyes and smile and that knowing look take up more and more space in my head. And I’m not quite sure how to deal with that.
The day of the wedding, Saturday-September the thirteenth, has at last arrived. And I feel a bit scared in the face of dealing with the Weasley-Potter clan. But Ash and Willow provide great support (And smacking yet again.) and so I sort out my nerves and get ready. It takes me an hour or so before I leave my room in the knee long, strapless red dress. My hair is falling down my bare back in tamed curls. The make up is light with only my lips being accentuated with dark red rouge, the same undertone the dress has. I’ve also somehow managed to slip into high heels, praying to Merlin they don’t kill me along the way.
„Mrs Padma has impeccable taste.“ Ash concludes upon observing me.
I smile, her comment reminding me of her refusal to ever compliment me directly.
„You look lovely, Jill.“ Willow nods at me and shakes her head at Ash, clearly acting as the good friend this time around.
They switch constantly, as if trying to make some kind of game out of it.
„Thanks.“ I embrace her quickly, before I stuff even more gadgets into my enhanced purse, for what I’ve found inspiration in the magical inventions of Hermione Weasley.
I take a deep breath just when the door rings. Willow goes to open it and, without doubt, it’s Albus. After he exchanges hello’s with both of my friends, he turns his attention to me. Taking a few steps toward me, I realize we’re barely a few inches apart. That’s when I take note of his outfit, a beautiful three-piece suite. It has a light gray tone, a black tie that goes perfectly with my heels and purse, and a single red rose tucked into a small pocket close to where his heart is. In short, he looks beyond handsome.
„Is that rose supposed to honour your cousin or did you put it in to match my dress?“ I smile.
„What do you think?“ He smiles back and takes my hand, which is a first.
He usually offers his for me to hold onto it. But he does it so gently that it actually makes me like the gesture even more than when I make the first move.
„Don’t embarrass us, Jill.“ Willow winks at me and I roll my eyes in response just before we disappear to the place of the reception.
Albus apparates us to the street where the pair’s house stands, a few metres away from the entrance. Children are already playing with numerous Weasley products nearby and flying on brooms in bliss. One boy is sporting giant ears that start to falter just as we pass him. A girl near the garden, on the other hand, is drinking some kind of potion, before her straight blond hair turns to a big curly mess, to what her friends giggle in amusement. Amongst them all, I spot far more red-heads in one place then I’ve ever been able to witness before.
Leaving the employed children behind, we make our way to the Malfoy-Weasley yard steadily.
When I first found out they were going to organize the wedding in their backyard in Hampstead, I was slightly surprised. But in a good way. It wouldn’t be Rose’s wedding if she wasn’t going against tradition in one way or another.
A girl stands at the front looking intently at a long list. We near her and she asks for our names. After we are checked off the list, we enter the court. It looks so much bigger than I remember so I assume that magic must be involved. Serious magic, by that. Thanks to the wonderful weather, the wedding is taking place outside, so small round tables are placed to the right of the house. There’s flowers everywhere and not just in the small garden in front. The dominating colors of the wedding are purple and a faint gray, even lighter than the tone of Al’s suit, so light, in fact, it looks almost white. Mimicking the Great Hall at Hogwarts, they are candles levitating in the air, whose light will be fully effective when the darkness sneaks into the yard. In the far end there are lines of seats just in front of a small wooden shelter, covered in white roses, where the bride and groom are expected to exchange their vows. The flowers on each small table are roses of a lovely white shade, as well, and among them is a purple piece of paper with the names of the appropriate guests. There’s even a small pond to the left, just behind the house, the sunshine reflecting of it softly, and enough space for dancing, when the guests settle in and the vows are exchanged.
Albus leads us to the main table, where the bride and groom will be sitting. Contrary to the other tables, this one is linear and has six chairs-two for the lucky pair, two for the best man and his date and two for the made of honour and her companion. After we look at the name tags, Al and I walk to the left side of the table facing the whole yard.
„As the best man’s date, please take your place at the most important table.“ Albus bows down jokingly to what I giggle.
„You know, a few weeks ago the thought of sitting together with Rose Weasley at her wedding where she’s marrying Scorpius Malfoy, out of all people, would’ve freaked me out. Actually... It still freaks me out.“
Albus laughs as the maid of honour, Rose’s best friend Kendra Stirling, nears us with her boyfriend, who’s name is, I think, Noah Odell. We all greet each other politely.
„Maybe we should take our places in the chapel.“ Kendra notes. „The guests are almost all here and Rose is ready, so the ceremony should start soon.“
We follow her lead and find our places right in the first row.
„I’ll be standing up there most of the time, anyway.“ Al shrugs and then raises his eyebrows in a teasing way. „Will you be bored without me?“
„Yes, to death.“ I grin at him.
That’s when one peculiar looking wizard, who I suspect is the ceremony official, runs down the space between the two groups of chairs, panting. He stands under the wooden shelter, which is, I guess, an outdoor altar, and uses his wand to magnify his voice.
„Everyone, take your places. The ceremony is about to start!“
Even though we’ve already shook hands with most people, some of them are just arriving and finding their places among the lines of wooden chairs, as the official suggested ought to be done.
„Hello, brother!“ James, as one of the late arrivals, spots us and comes over with a beautiful girl following his step. She’s quite tall, lean and has amazing dark skin hard to over look.
„Is that...“ James narrows his eyes at me. „Tatum?“
I roll my eyes. „You’ve seen me dressed nicely before, James. It’s hardly news.“
„Right... the ball...“ He drifts off, a guilty look on his face.
Well, will you look at that. James Potter actually feels remorse.
„Aren’t you going to introduce me, James?“ Vanessa frowns at him, pulling him back to reality.
„Yes! Tatum, this is Vanessa, my girlfriend. Vanessa, this is Tatum, my Hogwarts peer and the Head Girl to my Head Boy.“
We shake hands and it’s clear that Vanessa has an air of cold surrounding her. As if she deems all of this far too needless. I can see everyone’s point in hating her. And, it’s not that I’m jealous, ’cause I’ve already established that I’m over James, but I can’t believe he’s with someone so annoying. Although, most of his girlfriends were similar to Vanessa, come to think of it. I guess I’m not someone who can judge him on that, though.
Vanessa pulls him to the other part of the outdoor chapel, namely Rose’s side, and I can’t help but snort when they’re on a safe distance.
„It won’t last.“ Al says with not a single trace of doubt in his voice.
„Why is he with her in the first place?“
„I think he just doesn’t like being alone.“ Al smiles at me, a small shadow of sadness dancing in his eyes.
It takes me a moment to break the gaze, as Al’s eyes have a hard grip on me. „I guess I can understand that. I just wonder... has he ever been in love? I mean, really in love.“
Albus nods. „I think he has.“
I turn to him in surprise. „Oh?“
„I’ve never figured out with whom, though. But there was this period in his seventh year at Hogwarts... when he was... completely lost. I could tell he was hurting because of something. And I believe it was in consequence of a girl. Maybe the only one who managed to break his heart.“
I stare at Albus, lost for words. Could it be...
Suddenly the memory of that Halloween night comes back to me. And how disturbed James appeared, how he begged me to go with him, how he just wanted to have fun... How he... I close my eyes, not able to block the pictures.
The thirty first of October, 2022
When James pulled me into the RoR I was expecting to get laughed at because of my ridiculous pajamas.
Well, that didn’t exactly happen, because everyone was bloody drunk. It was a relief and I took it as a chance to focus more on James. He was still erratic and witless, pulling me to the area where people were dancing. Or rather, attempting to dance. It looked like they were about to fall asleep leaning against each other’s chests.
„Let’s dance!“ James yelled at me, trying to over power the loud music.
I felt lost, the beats not something I was used to move to.
„Brilliant outfit, mate!“ A random guy in a disastrous Troll dress up winked at me.
Luckily it was Halloween, so maybe my nighties could pass as some kind of an ironic costume.
James took the opportunity of my abashment to Accio a couple of drinks for us. He pushed a glass of something that looked like Firewhiskey into my hands.
„Oh, no.“ I pushed it back to him.
„Why not?“ He almost seemed offended.
„Well, one of us has to stay sane tonight, right?“
Usually he would had smirked at that, adding a joke or two. But now he just nodded absently and emptied both drinks. There was no point in stopping him. He was already gone, anyway.
In a matter of hours, though, James was laughing so hard to the point of falling down on his back. I tried to keep up, lifting him and supporting him when he stumbled, attempting to snatch drinks from him at times (It didn’t exactly work.) and stopping him from embarrassing himself too much (That didn’t work out, either.).
„I was really happy, you know.“ He slurred into my ear at one point. „Then, it all had to crush and burn.“
We were dancing again, if you could call it that, and James was resting his head on my shoulder. He had to lean down quite a bit, as I was significantly shorter than him, and adding his intoxicated state to the equation, I could imagine how silly we appeared.
„I mean, I have feelings, too. I’m not unbreakable.“
His drunk talk suddenly started to sound more reality based, because he was staring at me with vulnerable dark eyes. His gaze was fractured and tired. His smile long hollow. It made my heart ache. This wasn’t even about my crush on him anymore. This was about one human feeling sympathy for another.
Suddenly, as I was watching him with sorrow, James’ look slipped from my eyes to my mouth. My whole world froze for a moment as he neared my face.
Was I supposed to back off? I mean, he was clearly drunk and possibly over something important that didn’t even concern me. But... It’s just one kiss. If he yearned for it so much, why not take advantage of it? Maybe it was my only chance to do so, anyway.
So I closed my eyes as our lips met. Over my heart pounding madly, the only thing I could take note of was that he tasted like alcohol and smelled of it, as well. It wasn’t spectacular, it wasn’t like from a fairy tale, it wasn’t making my stomach do flips. Still, in that moment, it felt like a dream.
James pulled away quickly enough, positioning his head on my shoulder yet again.
„Thanks.“ He murmured and that was the last thing he said that night.
From then on it was a blur of shock and effort to take him back to our dorm. The last interaction we had that night was when I plopped him onto his bed. He instantly rolled around, his back facing me. I felt strangely sad and happy, all at once. And as I walked over to my bedroom, I couldn’t help but hope, yet again... that this was the start of something remarkable.
Some people just take far too much time to learn.
„Hello, Mrs and Mr Malfoy.“
I’m suddenly brought back to reality when Albus greets Scorpius’ parents. I shift my curious gaze to them. They look just like most long married couples do, perfectly matched and comfortable with each other. I remember a time at Hogwarts when Scorpius seemed like an exact copy of his father, but now he has gained features that resemble his mother more. Although, it’s not like he can lose, either way. Both of the Malfoys are gorgeous.
„This is my date, Tatum Kenward.“ Albus introduces me and I offer them my hand, somewhat nervous.
If the pair notices, they don’t comment on it, but smile politely instead.
„Kenwards, do I know of them?“ Mr Malfoy asks.
„I don’t believe so. Maybe you’ve heard of my mother’s family, though. The Fawleys?“
„Ah, yes. Old wizarding family.“ He nods in agreement.
All right, it’s not that everyone has forgotten what the Malfoys did in the past. But when you have a son like Scorpius, who’s a Ministry darling, people tend to be more open to forgiveness. And, after all, Mr Malfoy is the one who raised him that way. Scorpius couldn’t be so praiseworthy if his parents were monsters.
And, anyway, it is Rose’s father who is causing the most problems with this marriage, not the Malfoys. I wonder if he’ll make a scene while walking her down to Scorpius. Luckily, his wife is usually prepared to keep him in tact.
The official returns yet again, now in a different, more formal outfit, taking his place at the altar. He asks us to quiet down, since the ceremony is starting. Albus winks at me as he leaves to stand in the front. I notice that he’s avoiding to look intently at the crowd, probably scared of spotting his crush. Scorpius soon follows, making his way to the official, Albus and Kendra, Rose’s maid of honour. He looks amazing in a white suite as he smiles at Al and they seem to come to an understanding of some sort, without words getting involved.
And then, suddenly, everyone turns around and gets up on their feet and so I do, as well. Since, standing at the far end, are Rose and her father. My breath gets cut off at the sheer beauty that is Rose Weasley. It’s even more shocking to me because I wasn’t here to witness her turn into a fair, but instead only remember her rough Hogwarts persona. But now... she looks celestial, as if from another world entirely. Her gown is white, matching her future husband’s suit, but it has a trace of a purple undertone, which makes it even more lovely. It’s hugging her figure perfectly, reaching her feet in an effortless flow. It’s strapless, leaving her back more bare then expected, and a black band is placed around her waist, showing just how great a figure she has. After admiring her dress, I focus on her face and you can see just how happy she is. She’s radiating joy. He father is beaming, as well, making everyone’s worries fall into oblivion. After all, you can’t close your eyes to the love that Rose and Scorpius share, no matter how difficult that may be. The two don’t break contact for a second, not even when Mr Weasley gives Rose’s hand to Scorpius, the world long forgotten. They smile so widely, it’s contagious.
I steal a glance at Albus and find that he’s already looking at me, a big grin on his full lips. He mouths something to me which I can’t quite catch. But there’s no time to wonder as the official finally starts speaking and everyone’s attention is back on the happy pair again.
„We are gathered here...“
And so I doze off, taking the opportunity to observe the guests.
I’ve already succeeded in handling Rose’s side of the family, somehow, making me kind of proud of myself. I watch as Fleur and Bill smile at each other lovingly, as well as Hermione and Ron, Harry and Ginny... See, that’s the point in those tempered Weasleys and Potters. When they think no one’s looking, they are actually quite the sweethearts.
It makes me somewhat sad to switch to Scorpius’ side, though. It’s clear that most of his family is missing, replaced by young people, who I believe are his colleagues. I sometimes forget what these two had to go through to make this day happen.
„You may kiss the bride.“ I turn to the altar just in time.
Cheers erupt as the pair snogs a bit too long, smiling at each other the whole while.
Everyone takes the cue and goes to sit at their tables, so I walk over to Albus.
„Was I any good?“ He smirks at me.
„Sorry, I was too busy looking past you.“
He shakes his head at my teasing, after what we sit at the main table. I take the opportunity to chat with Scorpius and Rose some more, a jab at the possibility of having children soon an obligatory must, of course.
„Imagine a red-headed boy and a blond girl, with both your temper and Scorpius’ smarts. They would be the end of you.“ I laugh at the pretty bride.
„Are you suggesting I’m not smart?“ Rose fakes an offended expression.
„Al! You ought to defend me from your cousin.“ I pull at his sleeve jokingly.
But as I take a more careful look at his face, I notice that his gaze is frozen on a single point in the crowd and I know why. I take his hand under the table, squeezing it. He turns to me, a panicked look in his eyes.
„Don’t leave me for a second.“ He pleads in a broken whisper.
I nod my head. „I won’t.“
Suddenly, there’s music playing and it’s time for the first dance, so I somehow manage to convince Al that we join in. As we spin around, his grip becomes more intense. I’m not sure how to help him relax, but then, someone else does it for me. We hear a loud splash behind us and everyone stops to look at James and Vanessa sitting in the pond, soaking wet. Albus can’t help but laugh so I join him. Vanessa gets up (After falling down a few times beforehand.), her face red from anger.
„That’s it! This is the last time you’ll ever embarrass me, James Sirius Potter!“ She twirls dramatically and flees the scene, leaving James alone in the water.
Albus and I take it upon us to help him. Al lifts him up and I use a drying spell on his clothes.
„Did you do that on purpose?“ I ask him, suspicious.
„Was it that obvious?“
„Kind of was, yes.“ Al adds, snickering.
„Whatever. She was suffocating me for a while now.“ James then looks at me, smirking. „Do you wanna dance with me?“
„Um, I’m with Albus, so... no, I can’t.“ I finish awkwardly.
„Blimey. The time has come.“ He puts a hand on Al’s shoulder, smiling proudly. „A girl has finally picked you over me, brother.“
„Oh, shut up, idiot.“ Al smacks him on the head, but it’s clear that it’s out of amusement.
James nods at us with a wink. „Have fun.“
With that, he leaves to sit at his table, all alone. I feel bad for him, for a slip of a second, until Al calls my name. So I take the chance to resume to our dancing. Albus is much more relaxed now, resting his hand on my waist gently. Dancing with him is a whole other experience. He’s quite tall in comparison with my other dancing partners (and slightly towering over his brother) making me reach further for his shoulder, sure in his steps and clearly completely focused on me, without his attention wavering. Although, that might be partly because he’s scared to catch his crush’s eye.
It’s as if he can hear my thoughts since he comments. „I’m really enjoying this and not just because it’s a perfect opportunity to appear engaged.“
He suddenly leans in and kisses my cheek. „Thank you for being here with me.“
I try hard not to appear flushed, even though I am, slightly. „I can think of a way for you to return the favour.“
Albus raises his eyebrows, a devilish grin on his lips.
„Oh, not like that, you perv.“ I laugh. „I was thinking it’s time for me to go around and interview some family members and friends. If you stay by my side as a known face, they’ll be more relaxed and willing to participate.“
Albus looks uneasy so I assure him. „If I start nearing... her, just... pull me away or something.“
He nods, still a little unsure, but it’s evident he doesn’t want to deny me the help. Will you look at that. I can be persuasive, as well. I’m kinda proud of myself, I won’t lie.
We move around and I talk and Albus cracks subtle jokes, which I love. I steal glances his way numerous times, just mesmerized by his ability to calm everyone down and make them smile. In his own, a bit closed off, way.
But in the middle of my interview with Hugo Weasley, who really is the family prankster (He lists all of the WWW products that are his own inventions and the number is quite impressive, I have to say.), Albus pulls me to the side quickly. „We have to go. Now.“
It’s too late, though. A familiar young woman approaches us languidly, followed by her handsome husband.
He summons enough strength to look up to her smiling face and produce a decent follow up. „Hello, Alice. Dylan. Nice to see you.“
It all makes sense now. I should have figured it out instantly. I guess I just didn’t want to. Having Al’s crush be this... unshaped ghost of a person felt easier than attaching a name to her. And a beautiful face, as well. I can’t possibly deny her varnish: her light brown, almost blond hair, pulled into a pretty braid, with a few locks falling down beside her hazel eyes, a tone eerily similar to the hue of her husband’s bowtie resting neatly around his neck. She almost seems surreal.
„This is Tatum Kenward, my date.“ Al introduces me, as he did every time before.
But now I can hear his voice trembling, breaking, echoing his inner turmoil. And I could positively kill myself for making him stay longer.
„Alice Longbottom, well... it’s Alice Brunsman now.“ She smiles at her husband lovingly as she introduces herself to me. „And this is my spouse, Dylan Brunsman.“
I shake hands with both of them while also looking back at Albus, who’s clearly beyond uncomfortable. I suddenly feel a great urge to calm him, so I rest my arm around his and lean closer into him. He glances at me, an unreadable expression gracing his features, but I like to think that he’s thankful, if only minimal.
„Are you an item, as well?“ Alice asks, after observing us intently, a curious beam lighting up her already pretty face.
„I’ve been trying to woo him, but he keeps escaping me.“ I joke, to what the Brunsmans laugh as well.
It’s only Albus who’s quiet and trying to participate as little as allowed without being dubbed out-right rude.
„Don’t give up.“ Alice winks at me, before they offer a quick goodbye and move along.
It takes Albus barely a few seconds to turn around and start running to the street, seeming as if he doesn’t even know where to exactly. Just... away.
I follow him, afraid of what he might do in such a state.
„Albus, stop!“ I call after him when he’s finally outside the yard, further down the road. Luckily, cars have abandoned it for the day, as if to honour the bride and groom.
Al listens to me, but remains firm, facing the opposite direction. I can see that he’s clenching his fists so hard, they’ve lost all color. He appears as if his world has just been crushed to millions of pieces.
And I know it’s all my fault.
„Look, I’m sorry, ok! I’m sorry I forced you to stay longer. You’re right, it would’ve been better for you to come without a date. You could have been long gone. I just... I thought I was making you feel better and...“
Before I know it, Albus is walking toward me hurriedly, a frantic, almost maniac expression on his features, and, then, suddenly, his lips are crashing mine. At first, I’m unable to move, my eyes open widely. But Al puts a suiting palm on my cheek and I break down.
I let him kiss me.
And then I kiss him back.
It’s long and hot and needy, all at the same time. Not in a desperate kind of way, but as if it’s a deep necessity for both of us.
For a brief moment, though, I let sense crawl back into my thoughts and... Oh Merlin... I’m in the same situation again, ain’t I? I’m a shoulder to cry on for someone who is clearly hung up on another person. It’s all repeating.
I pull away, feeling completely undone. „I can’t... I can’t do this.“
And I vanish from his sight before he can stop me, apparating away in despair.
A/N: Al in love with Alice Longbottom-this is a call back to my other HP fanfic, The Dursly Freak. I just couldn’t resist it. :)
PS What do you think about this cray-cray chapter? :D
Chapter 9: Secret Dating And Not So Secret Matchmaking
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Disclaimer: HP is not, never was and never will be mine.
A/N: The aftermath of the kiss is finally here! Enjoy. :)
Secret Dating And Not So Secret Matchmaking
I stare at the ceiling, my mind trying not to break from all the thoughts penetrating it. The commotion in my head is unbearable so I can’t sleep. I can’t move, either.
But someone makes sure I talk.
„How’s it going, chap?“
I sit up in my bed to see my father taking his place at the stool beside me. His beard has grown discernibly. It reminds me of all those times I would sneakily practise hair growth spells on him, usually when he was asleep. And every morning, until I moved out, dad would wake up with a new and drastically different set of locks. He never got angry over it, though. My father is indeed placidity in human form.
He raises his eyebrows at me, knowing full well that I’m lying. I sometimes despise how well he understands me.
„Urgh, all right. Things... happened at that wedding that I would rather forget.“
„So bad, huh?“
I nod. Dad holds my hand for a moment, rubbing it soothingly. In addition, I conjure two cups of tea for us, so we sit and drink together in silence. I always enjoy our bonding, as it’s so simple, not even words are necessary, and yet, it never fails to make me feel better. And the fact that dad doesn’t push for me to speak is what usually makes me do exactly that, albeit on my own terms.
After we’re done, dad wishes me good night, assuring me it’ll get better, and stands up to leave.
He turns around, a questioning expression on his wrinkled face.
„Do you think... People can want to befriend me without some ulterior motive?“
„Why do you-“
„It’s just that... I mean, look at me. I barely have two friends.“
My father sits back on the chair and kisses my forehead gently. „Jill, you are like your mother in many ways. You have her wordily spunk, her ambition and the occasional weirdness.“
„Hey.“ I jab him in the ribs playfully.
„But...“ He lets me be, just smiling in return. „You’re a bit of a loner like myself. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It usually means that you choose a rather small number of people to trust. But once you do choose them... you stick with them for life.“
I nod my head, looking down for a moment. „It’s just that... sometimes I feel like people don’t like me. And, usually, that doesn’t bother me. But...“
Dad pulls me into a quick hug, brushing my locks away. It somewhat makes me feel like a child again, warm and safe in my parent’s arms.
„Hey, if someone doesn’t want to be friends with you, it’s their loss. Ok?“
I grin in response. „Ok.“
Dad gets up to his feet and walks to the door, where he lingers for a moment, just smiling at me. He then walks out, shutting the door firmly behind him.
And so... I’m left alone in my childhood room again.
I couldn’t go back to the flat in fear of being found by Albus. I let the girls know I’d be sleeping here and warned them to not tell him where I’m at. I want to have some peace so that I can think this through. Unfortunately, my mind doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.
Since my head is pulsing with pain I choose to look around instead, the space still mostly the same. The Weird Sisters poster above my bed, the piles of old Daily Prophet’s on my desk, the lack of bright colors... It makes me realize how fragile time is, how quickly it passes. Although, now that it should show its nature when I truly yearn for it, time seems to drag painfully. Since I can’t manage to clear my mind, I start looking through my desk. Albums and albums of me and Willow. And an old diary, that tickles my interest. I open it up with sheer wonderment. It’s from when I was still going to a regular school. Mum not being sure if I’d end up being a witch, mostly kept me in the dark. So, in turn, I did the same. I had these... episodes, as I called them back then, which completely freaked me out since I didn’t know what they were, essentially. But I stubbornly kept them to myself. And to this diary.
The tenth of October, 2015
I was talking to Sam today and I wanted to tell him that I like him. He has nice blue eyes and sandy hair and smells wonderful, too. But then I got nervous and the water from the nearby fountain just kind of... flew out and soaked Sam to the bones. He got really angry and said that it was my fault. I started crying as soon as I got home. Mum asked me what was wrong, but I lied. I told her some silly story so she wouldn’t bother me further. She just wouldn’t understand. No one does.
I chuckle at my poor 10 years old self. I was so confused back then. Not that I feel any less confused now, to be frank.
I sigh, flopping back onto my bed.
And that’s when I hear it.
I frown, at first thinking I must have imagined it. But when the sound repeats itself I walk to the window, where it seems to be coming from.
I sigh with irritation when I spot Albus Potter standing below, though. „How did you find me?“
„Willow told me where you live.“
„I will kill that little traitor, I swear!“
„Come on, I was very persuasive.“
„I bet.“ I start to close my window but Al pleads me not to.
„I beg you, give me a chance to explain.“
„What? That you kissed me out of hurt and despair? I already known that.“
„Just... can you get down here? It’s hard talking to you like this.“
I shut the window closed this time around and go back to my bed. But Al won’t shut up, now getting progressively louder with his pleas. So I get up and walk downstairs in my pajamas and an embarrassing old robe, trying not to wake my parents at the same time. When I leave the house, Al is already standing in front of the door, a guilty look evident on his face.
„Don’t say that you’re sorry again. That much I got.“ I warn him.
He nods. „I’m a jerk.“
He can’t help but smirk a little before continuing. „I acted on impulse without thinking about your feelings and I’m...“
I give him a cautionary look and he nods. „Right, no sorrys. I’m just... I made a mistake, ok? Doesn’t that happen to you sometimes?“
„All the time.“ I finally soften up and give him a small smile.
He grins, happily accepting the opportunity. „See? We dig each other. Why lose that over some kiss?“
„Great kiss.“ He corrects and I chuckle.
He bows down slightly. „I wanted to show you something, as well. Care to join me?“
„In this?“ I show to my robe.
„It’s fine, we’ll be alone.“
„All right.“ I shrug. „Lead the way.“
I let him apparate us, after what we end up on a small meadow, shielded by a thick forest. The sky is dark and starry, shedding light on a table in front of us. A few candles are levitating above it and there’s some kind of a drink poured in two glasses resting atop.
I narrow my eyes at Albus.
„I was kinda counting on your forgiveness.“
„I can easily take it back.“ I tease him.
„And miss all of this?“
Minutes later we’re drinking and laughing and I can’t shake the feeling that this is what enjoying life really looks like. I steal a quick glance his way, observing him while he’s resting his lips on the glass and playing with his green bowtie, that matches his astonishing emerald eyes too perfectly. And I know I have to bring it up, because I’m confused and I don’t like being that way. It’s already hard for me to obtain control over my emotions without Al further messing with them.
„I think we need to set some ground rules if we want to keep this friendship going.“
„Oh? And what may those be?“ He smirks at me.
„No more kissing.“
For a flick of a moment I think he’s truly disappointed, but then he speaks up in a light manner. „Bummer.“
„I know. I’m a bloody brilliant snogger.“ I try to keep it cheerful as well. „Still... no physical acts towards each other. What so ever.“
Albus laughs. „All right. I’ll try to stay truthful to that rule. That’s all I can say.“
„Fair enough.“ I nod. „And second... You’ll let me help you move on from Alice.“
„Well, if you exclude sex, how do you plan to do that?“
„Joking!“ He tries to protect himself from my light hitting, but fails poorly.
„So we have a deal?“ It’s me offering a hand this time around and he accepts it festally.
„Does tickling qualify as a physical act, too?“ He jumps immediately, not waiting for my answer, knocks me to the ground and starts titillating me.
I can’t help but laugh so hard that I’m actually crying. He lets me be after awhile and so we lay down in the grass, gazing up at the night sky. We play a game, where we tell what shapes from the wizarding world the stars resemble.
„That one is oddly James alike, wouldn’t you agree?“ I point to one particular constellation to our right.
I expect a laugh in response since the group rather resembles a Troll and it’s quite obvious, but Al keeps quiet.
„I know what you’re worried about.“ He suddenly turns on his side to look at me, the stars long forgotten. „But I’m not like him, not really.“
I turn to him, as well, puzzled. „What...“
„I know that you were in love with my brother.“
I’m paralysed for a moment, not able to look back at him. I sit up, feeling lost, my breath cut off. I want to run but, at the same time, I know I haven’t got the strength for it. Albus takes note of my state and puts a suiting hand on my back, urging me to look at him. So I do, with great effort.
„It’s all right.“ He squeezes my trembling palm. „I’m not going to judge you or anything. I mean, look at me. If there’s anyone who’s a mess, it’s me.“
„How did you...“ I try to put the question together, but words get lost along the way.
Even so, Al understands me all too well. „I knew all along.“
I frown at him.
„That’s the up side of being the quiet one. You know things.“ He smiles at me.
„But you... you asked me about it when we played Flaming lies...“
„I wanted you to trust me.“ His grin suddenly falls. „Are you angry at me?“
I sigh. „When you look at me like that, even if I want to be... how can I?“ I smile at him sadly.
He embraces me briefly in response. „Look. You don’t have the control over who you fancy. Neither do I... or anyone else for that matter. So stop blaming yourself. Besides, James is the one who should be ashamed.“
I glance at him in confusion.
„As I said, I know things.“ He smirks.
„You’re really peculiar, Albus Potter.“
„I think I heard that one before.“ He smiles at me.
We lay back down, looking at the night sky yet again.
„Thanks.“ I whisper, because I know he’ll understand me without having to further explain.
He nods his head and searches for my gripe. Our fingers intertwine and I don’t even care that this is probably crossing the friendship line. Because Albus... He’s different. No ordinary rules apply to him.
And so we make up. Which implies that I have three friends now (Well, if you count the always woeful Ash.), a personal record. I can’t help but finally be an optimist about my future. Imagine that: Tatum Kenward is hopeful for a change. Beware, because this might as well be a sign of the world ending.
„Absolutely brilliant coverage!“
I smile proudly to myself as my Daily Prophet colleagues approach me to congratulate me on my Wednesday Spells piece about the Malfoy-Weasley wedding.
I would’ve written it for my home newspaper, but Chief has taken measures to throw out trashy sections, as she calls them. All the fun has been reduced to astronomy readings by the local seer and some crosswords. It’s now all about politics, science, health and sports. Frankly, I thought it would reduce our sellings, but it turns out that people like us more this way. I guess I doubted Chief with no reason.
„Leave the celebrity news to celebrity papers.“ She said.
Not that I’m complaining. I get to earn my salary, plus a little something, something on the side. Since Chief lets us occasionally write for other papers, as well, if it comes down to approximately five pieces a month.
In short, Chief’s kinda brilliant.
Today I have to submit another article to her, so I make my way to her office. Only to find James once again walking up and down in front of it. He takes note of my presence and immediately runs to me, pulling me to the side maniacally.
James casts a quick Muffliato and breaths out a deep sigh of relief.
„James, what the heck is this Chief thing all about?“ I ask, slightly annoyed at this point.
„I told you... I need to talk to her-“
„But you can’t. Yes, I do have a decent memory, thank you very much.“
He bites his lip nervously, finally cracking. „I kinda want to see her... badly.“
I frown at him. „I don’t...“
„Remember that fight we had in the Great Hall on Halloween?“ He urges me to recollect, so I do.
The thirty first of October, 2022
Will and I were sitting at the table of my house, absorbed in our conversation about dragons and books, when it happened.
James strode into the hall and slammed a paper in front of Chief, who was eating just a few chairs from us.
„Stop writing rubbish about me, Lloyd, or I swear-“
„What, you’ll tell your daddy to yell at me?“ She smirked.
I stared at my boss, worried for her well being. This was James she was talking back at and James got nasty when angry.
Everyone was now following the pair’s movements, nobody willing to interfere. (Un)fortunately, all the teachers were absent since they were having some kind of a staff meeting. The Heads were responsible for order. Meaning me, since James was the one causing trouble to begin with. I got to my feet, trembling. Now, I didn’t want to fight James, but he was positively furious and I was scared for Chief, however tiring she was as a boss.
„James.“ I placed a hand on his forearm, trying to calm him. „Come on, drop it.“
„Oh, I will. As soon as she stops making stories out of my private life.“
„That’s what the crowd wants, Potter. And I’m all about pleasing.“ Chief was now on her feet, her face inches away from James’.
„This is just a game for you, Lloyd, isn’t it? How about you find something truly productive to do?“
„Oh, and shagging around is productive?“
„More so than trashy writing, yes. You’re just a pest living of everybody else’s experiences!“ He pushed the paper into her chest with what seemed like all of his force.
But Sunshine pushed it back equally strong. „Well, look who’s talking, daddy’s boy.“
With that, Chief rushed out of the Hall, leaving James staring after her in pure anger. I tried to make him sit down and relax, but he resisted, storming right after Chief. I wanted to run after them, I did. I was just too stunned to move.
„Yes?“ I look at him in confusion.
„Well... it was supposed to be fake.“
„Fake?“ I frown at him.
„You see, we did that. We fought in public and Lloyd urged her journalists, you included, to write badly about me, because... we were trying to distract people from what was really happening.“
I suddenly remember Al’s words about James being in love and a creepy feeling awakes from the bottom of my stomach. I gaze at James and, before I even ask, I realize I know the answer. „What was happening?“
„We were secretly dating.“ He supplies.
I nod my head, understanding just how much sense that makes. At the same time, I curse my journalistic brain for not piecing this together sooner. Way sooner.
„You loved her.“ I conclude, because it had to be love for James to be so broken that night, for him to get so drunk, for him to kiss me and not remember, for him to find a friend in the jerk that Liam Wood was soon after and want to learn from the best, killing what was left of the nice guy residing in him.
He was trying to let go of something that was too important to get over so easily. And I got caught up right in the middle of it, blaming him for my misery, when really... he was more miserable than I could had ever been. Because, as Willow made me realize, I didn’t love James. But he...
„I did.“ He doesn’t try to deny it, seeming happy to finally share it with someone. „That’s why when she told me we are over later that day... I couldn’t believe it. She said that when I talked about her paper, about her future career, it was clear that wasn’t far from my true thoughts and that she could’t stay with someone accusing her of being a pest. I tried to reason with her, because that’s what we always did, yelled stupid things at each other. But she was certain that I wasn’t lying this time around.“
„Were you?“ I ask him, scared that he might confirm it.
Because it isn’t just Chief’s job, it’s mine, as well.
„Of course not!“ James frowns, clearly offended I would even assume that. „But I couldn’t convince her. So she left me. She broke me that day... You remember.“
„All too well.“ I nod.
James looks at me in sorrow. „If I ever did something bad to you in that period, I’m sorry. I was only aware of my own pain back then.“
I smile at him, patting the upper side of his palm. „It’s ok. I’ve moved passed it.“
We stay silent for a moment before I add, curious. „So... You’re still hung up on her?“
This is so surreal. The boy I was desperately after, is desperately after another girl. And round and round it goes. I guess that’s just life at its ironic best.
James leans back on the wall, sighing. „I tried to move on. But all the dating I did after was just a way for me to fight memories of her.“
He smiles sadly for a moment, breaking his dark expression. „We were really happy, you know.“
I nod, but something still doesn’t sit right with me. „Why were you secretly dating, then?“
„We both found it extremely arousing.“ He laughs. „We were eventually going to make it public, though, but... that never happened.“
I look at his grim face in sympathy. „Look, James. I understand. All too well. But you can’t just stalk Chief.“
Well, ain’t I a hypocrite?
„You either make a move or you don’t. I suggest you do. But maybe after you sort the rest of your life out. You know, your job, family life... Become the best version of yourself... for her.“
He gives me a side smile, pinching my cheek lightly. „You know, I didn’t even realize how much I missed hanging out with you.“
„It’s because it’s so easy for you to forget me.“
„Come on, when have I ever?“
„Oh, don’t get me started.“ I laugh.
„Well, I apologize for all the ignoring past James did. From now on, I promise you, I’ll be a good friend. Or even possibly... a brother in law?“ He winks at me, a slightly questioning expression on his face.
„Oh my Merlin!“ I scream in frustration. „Why does everybody keep pairing me up with your baby brother?!“
„Maybe because... it makes sense?“ He suggests.
„I does not.“ I cross my arms in anger.
„Me thinks you protest too much.“ He winks yet again after what he breaks the Muffliato spell.
I gape at him, now not able to yell anymore in fear of alarming my fellow colleagues.
„Thanks for being a pal... sis.“ He runs away before I can answer.
„Son of a....“
„Why do you want me to contact my cousin Mary, anyway?“ Ash looks at me suspiciously after my plea.
„Because...“ I sigh. „I’m tired of everyone urging me to date Al. So Mary will do it.“
„Al is not some piece of meat you can pass around, you know.“ Willow meddles from her place on the couch, watching WiTV.
„Mary is a vegetarian, anyway.“ Ash returns, muffling her chuckle.
Willow, on the other hand, almost chokes on her butterbeer in laughter.
I roll my eyes at them. „This is getting way out of hand.“
„What, your lust for Albus Potter? Because, yes, it’s getting way out of hand. It’s actually embarrassing how in love with him you are.“ Willow says, her mouth now full of popcorn.
„I will not take anything seriously from someone who is in love with Orin Wadding.“ I point to the talkative host currently gracing our tv screen.
Willow gasps jumping in front of the tv protectively. „Do not involve Orin in this!“
„You two are insane.“ Ash sighs.
I turn to her again. „So, will you help me?“
Ash looks to Will, who’s shaking her head violently.
„Fine. Just so I can get a rise out of our resident Irish fangirl here.“
„I will have my revenge when you least see it coming.“ Willow narrows her eyes at Ash dangerously. „And Irish boys are the hottest and you know it.“
I use the opportunity to get Mary’s phone number from Ash, smiling happily to myself. I’m finally going to be saved from all the annoying teasing.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I can’t imagine myself being with Al, ever, but the more everyone keeps insisting on it, the less I find him suiting for myself. It’s just how my crazy brain works.
„So... let me get this straight. You’re setting me up with a Muggle vegetarian girl, who’s an ex model. What exactly do you think we’ll have in common again?“ Al squints at me.
„Don’t be so prejudgemental, Al.“ I warn him.
„I’m just wondering.“ He shrugs.
We’re playing exploding snap at his flat and I’m winning, which is a nice change.
„Ok, what kind of girl would you like to date, then?“ I set aside my cards and focus on him, genuinely curious.
„You’re really into this whole matchmaking thing, aren’t you?“ He laughs.
„It’s fun, yes.“ I confirm.
„I don’t know.“ He shrugs. „The kind that likes me back, I guess.“
I shake my head. „Oh, come on. What else?“
„Well, I suppose... I like funny girls, intelligent, of course, with a passion of their own. And brown eyes. I really like brown eyes.“
I tilt my head to the side. „You do?“
„Why’s that so strange?“ He grins, amused.
„Most people like blue or green eyes. They’re prettier than the rest.“
„I don’t care which are prettier. I care which seem warmer. And those would be the brown ones. Right?“
I stare at him, my dark eyes getting lost in his light pair. „Right.“
I snap out of it quickly, though, not letting my conscious wander. „I guess I could match you up with Willow’s cousin Sage, then. Just... don’t tell Will.“
„Why?“ He appears amused.
„Because I said so.“
„Well, aren’t you bossy.“
„Why, do you like it?“ I raise my eyebrow playfully.
„A woman on top? Are you joking? Those are my weakness.“
„Well, you started it.“
I shake my head at him, but he just smirks in return.
Sage is positively ecstatic I matched her up with Albus. Seems she has had a crush on him for awhile now. Which makes me feel better about myself, because it appears everyone has at least one impossible love story in their life. Although, mine wasn’t really about love, but misplaced admiration.
Al calls me up that Friday afternoon to help him get ready for his date. I oblige because I know it’s not really about how incapable he is to get ready by himself, rather that he wants us to spend more time hanging out. And that’s something I find myself not being able to refuse as of lately.
The getting dressed part is as brief as it can be (He picks out a fuzzy green sweater and a pair of black jeans in which he looks heavenly.). And since we’re left with some extra time, what with Albus getting ready so quickly, he cooks us a small meal. I look on as he stands by the counter, mixing up drinks, while the spoon stirs the food by itself. I realize he’s a master at making potions, but I wasn’t aware he’s such a great cook, as well.
„It’s kind of similar, really.“
Did I say that out loud? I do that too often, I swear.
„I was really awful at Potions and I’m atrocious at cooking, so that makes sense.“
He turns around to send me an amused look. „I can teach you.“
I hum, thinking about it. „Well, all right. Since I’m going to introduce you to your future wife, I guess I can use a favour in return.“
Albus just laughs.
We sit on his balcony later on, drinking delicious liquor and snacking. The radio is playing some song about an unexpected love between a human and a Veela. The sun is setting lazily and I feel my skin slowly going cold. These are probably the last sunny days this year.
Ah, London weather.
Speaking of which, Al’s balcony offers a magnificent view of the town. The famous pointy hats can be seen hovering over the crowd. It’s nice living in this part of the city, where magic is present at every corner.
„Rose and Scorpius are leaving on their honeymoon Monday morning.“ Al suddenly breaks the pleasant silence. „We’re throwing them a goodbye party this Sunday. I was wondering if you’d want to join me.“
I actually shiver in fear at the thought of that party, because I think I only survived the wedding thanks to everything happening so fast, every relative being engrossed with the pair and me leaving so soon. This would mean I’d actually have to spend quality time with the clan.
„Why don’t you take Sage instead? I’m sure she’d love to accompany you.“
Al narrows his eyes at me, curios. „Are you still freaked out by my family?“
„N-o.“ I draw out.
Al raises his eyebrow at me, unconvinced.
„Ok, yes!“ I exclaim. „But you have to admit, your relatives can be a bit...“
„Too much?“ He supplies.
I nod. „And I’m a bit closed off, so I don’t know how’s that going to work.“
„You’re not closed off with me.“ He smiles.
„No, I’m not. But you’re probably the one Potter I can handle.“
„Oh, come on!“ He grabs my hand. „Don’t we always have fun together, no matter where we are?“
I sigh. „It’s no use. You’re going to win this argument anyway, aren’t you?“
„I thought you’d never realize.“ He winks at me.
I stay awake in my bed that Friday night, unable to sleep. I’m curious as to how the date went and if Al liked Sage.
So, the first thing I do in the morning is apparating to Al’s flat. And scaring him senseless. He drops the plate on which a delicious looking sandwich is residing and it smashes to million of pieces. Only when he flicks his wand with a quick Reparo do I notice that he’s in a robe with barely any clothes on him and a pair of glasses on the bridge of his nose. I catch myself gazing at his black briefs, before I shake my head.
„I guess it’s my fault for offering you to drop by at any time.“ He smiles at me and leads me to the kitchen, where he presents me with a sandwich of my own.
„Oh, come on. We’re like siblings now. And that’s what siblings do-they bug each other, right?“
„Do sisters usually stare at their brothers’ groin then or...?“
I smack him lightly on the head with my wand.
„Bloody gillyweed, what was that for?“ He winces in pain.
„For being sleezy. And... bloody gillyweed? You can’t even curse properly, Albus Potter. So stop trying to act like a prick when you’re far from it.“
„Like you do it much better.“
„Excuse me. I’m a Slytherin.“ I smirk proudly.
„Go on, then. Swear.“ He provokes me.
I purse my lips, frowning. „Um... Bloody hell?“
„That’s merely a variation of my own swear. You’re the most un-Slytherin Slytherin I know, Ty.“ He laughs at me in a highly mocking fashion.
„I resent that.“ I observe his face with an entertained grin. „By the way, I like your glasses. Are you copying me, Potter?“
Finally, his smirk melts away and is replaced by a barely visible frown. „I wish that’s what everybody would think, instead of me looking exactly like my father now.“
I tilt my head to the side, supporting it with my palm. „Why does that bother you?“
I’ve never really heard him mention his father is a such way before. Early on in our acquaintance, he recalled their flight classes, when Al was about five, which ended with the awkward child breaking his... well, almost everything. Which made Al not ever want to be a part of a Quidditch team. Even though he does enjoy the sport, quite immensely so, but from afar. And that is exactly how my love for Quidditch is like, as well. Albus also told me about how his dad sometimes teamed up with him in order to play pranks on James, since the older boy wouldn’t stop tormenting his younger brother. My point is, up until now, Al always spoke of his father in a fond manner. So, I’m a little startled by his words.
Albus sighs deeply. „Because... I’m not exactly like my father. Nor do I wish to be.“
I nod. „That... would make more sense if you were in Scorpius’ shoes.“
He suddenly throws a spoon at me, but I duck just in time, fortunately. „Hey!“
„I threw spoons at Lily all the time. If you want to act like you’re my sister, deal with it.“
I gasp. „Albus Potter, such a badass.“
He shrugs, a playful smile on his full lips.
„Ok, enough with this morning banter. I want to know how your date went!“ I clasp my hands on the table, giddy for the details.
„Fine.“ He says, while Accioing our empty plates to the sink.
I stare at his back dumbly. „Fine? That’s all you’re going to say?“
„What were you expecting?“ He turns to face me, perplexed.
„Excitement, at least.“ I shrug.
Al leaves the dishes behind and invites me to sit on his balcony again. A faint rain is clouding my vision, albeit we are safe from it up here. The people on the street below, however, are running in all directions. Some of them are using small Protego shields, in order to stay dry. I smile at them, in love with the sight of a mixed London full of Muggles interacting with magical folks. It’s always been my wish to live in such a neighbourhood, since I grew up in a mixed family myself. I like that environment, I like having first-hand knowledge about both sides of our world.
„I can’t date Sage, Ty.“ Albus suddenly utters.
I turn to him, ready to argue. „But, Al, you have to at least try to move on.“
„I will.“ He agrees. „Just... on my terms. When I’m ready, you know.“
I gaze back at the crowd on the street hurrying to find shelter from the rainy weather. I get lost in my thoughts for a moment, the drab around us causing me to take my time. Just when I’m about to add something, though, someone jumps in.
„And when you finally find the bloody One, right?“ The voice reveals a distinct, posh accent.
The two of us avert our eyes from the city to the girl standing just a few feet behind us, right in the middle of Al’s kitchen. She’s levitating two suitcases behind her, with a beam on her lips, as well as a knowing look in her dark eyes.
Al jumps to his feet and into the girl’s arms, laughing in excitement. „Does this mean that you’ve forgiven me?“
„It means that I’ve met far bigger idiots out there, so I’m partial to tolerating you.“
Albus snickers. „I love you, too.“
I stand up as well, albeit awkwardly, with no idea how to react. In the end, I opt for the arm-crossing and foot-skewing response.
„And is this my substitute?“ The girl rests her hands on her hips, a playful smirk on her pretty, dark features.
„Oh, you wish.“ Al teases. „Emma, meet Tatum Kenward, my new partner in crime.“
The girl extends her palm for me to take it. Her grip is firm and no-nonsense. With an elusive smirk, she offers me a hello. „Emma Wittling. Nice to meet you.“
But her whole body language indicates that she could do without me.
And so, it dawns on me: this will be the end of the Tatum-Albus era.