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The Potter Problem by rey

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 69,921
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Ginny, Scorpius, Albus, James (II), Lily (II), Rose, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Other Pairing, Harry/Ginny, Rose/Scorpius

First Published: 10/09/2010
Last Chapter: 07/09/2013
Last Updated: 07/09/2013

Summary:




banner by the lovely ramitaarora at tda

I thought that working for the Ginny Potter would be a dream finally coming true. I mean, she's Ginny freakin' Potter! What I didn't expect was to be forced to bump into her 'adorable' offspring, James Potter.

 


Chapter 1: A Demon From The Past
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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.

Ginerva Potter.

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."

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.






Ginny Weasley.

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.

Quidditch.

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.

"Jill!"

But then the sound suddenly gains a body and shakes me with it’s hands. Too harshly, may I add.

I scowl.

"Wha-want?"

If you can't follow, I just asked-"What do you want?"

"For you to get your sweet arse up!"

"Ho-u-no-it-swee?"

"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.

"You’re late!"

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.

So?

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.

Ordinary.

Well, at least physically.

Mentally...

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.

"Dreadful, right?"

"You can say that again." She nods.

"Hey!"

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.

"Come in."

I take one deep breath and step in, hoping for some miracle or something.

I don’t know!

It can happen!

Maybe.

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 freeze.





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.

"Of course!"

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.

"Hello. James."

 

 

 


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.

Whatever.

 



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.

"Thanks."

"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.

No.

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.

 



Monique Russo.

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.

"Um... Hi."

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."

 



That’s it.

 



Flat line.

Dead.

Gone.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zero.

...

 

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, no, no!

"Um..."

 



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...

Alone.

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.

Major fail.

 



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."

He winks.

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'?"

He laughs.

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."

He smirks.



 

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.

"Thanks, um..."

"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?!

I don’t.

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.

He smirks.

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.

Almost.

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

"Pts!"

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.

"Pst!"

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.

"Yeah?"

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.

 

What?

 

Of all the questions out there, he asks the most derisive one.

 

What?!

 

Oh, that little bastard... !

 

And...

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?

Come on!

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?!"

"Fine!"

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.

Including James.



 

"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.

And Rose...

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.

"Tatum..."

"Come on. It isn’t everyday your daughter comes to visit." I said.

"Actually, it is!" Mum yelled from the kitchen.

"Mumsy..."

"Don’t you call me that! You’re sneaky!"

I laughed. "Thanks mum!"

"Urgh, why do I even bother?!"

"Beats me!"

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.

Typical.

"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.

Riiight.

"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.

"Scorpius Malfoy!"

 

 

 

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."

"But-"

"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."

James snorts.

 

 

 

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.

Oh, fuck.

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

 

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.

"Er..."

"I didn't mean to insult you or anything." Willow attempted to redeem.

Really?

"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!"

Touche.

"Kenward!"

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."

"But-"

"No buts, Kenward! Are you a journalist or not?!"

"I-"

"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.

Reasons?

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!

But, no.

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.

Well... Shocker.

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

 

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.

"Come on!"

"What? Where?"

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.

"James, what..."

"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.

But me?

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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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."

"Bloody hell!"

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.

Crap.

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.

"What?"

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.

"No!"

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.

Not.

"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.

"Ready?"

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.

Brilliant.

"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.

...

Damnit!

"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."

Finally!

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!"

What?

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."

Random.

"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.

"What?"

"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.

"What's that?"

"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.

"Where's Rose?"

"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!"

"Did too!"

"Did not!"

"Too!"

"One!"

"Two!"

"Hah. Sucker!"

"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?

 

Yours truly,

Tatum Kenward,

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.

Cue proof.

 

 

 

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.

...

Gross.

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."

She snorted.

"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.

"What's wrong?"

"Apparently Mr Weasley had a small argument with the Minister and his wife said that he's a stubborn arse!"

I blinked.

"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.

I'm positive.








A/N: Sooo, how did you like it? :D Tell me in a review!

Thanks for reading!

 


Chapter 5: A Riverside Talk
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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.“

„But I-“

„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!“

„Doing what?“

„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?“

I nod.

„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...

„Acceptable.“

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.

 

 

 

...Right?


Chapter 6: Lynch, Steele And Lloyd
[View Online]  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 

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?“

„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...

„Surprise!“

...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...“

„Relax, Ty.“

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.

„What?“

„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.“

„Everything!“

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.

„Thank you!“

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.

Finally.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

May 2025

 

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?“

„I don’t...“

„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.

 

Maya Acker

Chief Editor

Quidditch Today

 

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.

 

 

 

But now...

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. ;)

 

 


Chapter 7: Flaming Lies
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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.“

„Unlike 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.

„Right, sorry.“

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. ;)

 


Chapter 8: The Wedding
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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










 

 

The Wedding

 

 

And...?

„And what?“

„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.“

„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 know.“

„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.

„Hi, Al.“

He summons enough strength to look up to her smiling face and produce a decent follow up. „Hello, Alice. Dylan. Nice to see you.“

Alice Longbottom.

Childhood friend.

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.

„I’m fine.“

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.

„Dad?“

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.

„Pst!“

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.“

„I agree.“

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?“

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?“

„Touche.“

 

 

 

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?“

„Albus Potter!“

„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.

Deja-vu much?

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.“

„Al!“

„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.

„Sorry!“

„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.

 

 

 

 


Chapter 10: The Dangers Of Weasley-Potter (And Malfoy) Gatherings
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter-clearly not mine.

A/N: This has some interesting memories and a funny part. Well, it seems funny to me, at least. I hope you enjoy it. :)





 

The Dangers of Weasley-Potter (And Malfoy) Gatherings

 

 

I find it extremely hard to fall asleep that night, what with the fact that Emma is staying at Al’s place, spending time with him, cozying up to his fit body...

Ok, brain. That is going too far. They’re just friends. Right?

Old friends... who used to spend every waking hour with each other, that is.

So, what? Al and I did, as well. That doesn’t mean we have some sort of a romantic chemistry. A pure guy-girl friendship can indeed exist.

Can it, though?

Urgh!

I get up and proceed to the kitchen to stuff myself with Ash’s muffins. I swear, she’s put some sort of spell on them so that you can’t possibly stop with the eating.

„Jill?“ I hear a familiar voice, only to find Willow staring at me in horror upon lifting my head from the muffin-filled bowl.

„Did I wake you up with my twisting all over the bed? Sorry ’bout that.“ I mumble with my mouth full of these delicious, addictive sweets.

As a (poor) substitute for a response, Willow points her wand at the muffins, transfiguring them into bird feathers. I nearly choke and then proceed to cough violently, since some of them are still stuck in my throat. This, however, doesn’t seem to agitate my friend in the slightest.

„What was that fooor?“ I whine.

„I could ask you the same question.“ She crosses her arms, a slightly disgusted expression on her face.

„I wanted to eat.“ I shrug, hoping Will will let it go.

Unfortunately, her Ravenclaw brain detects something fishy about my behaviour. „Stop lying, Kenward.“

„Fine.“ I roll my eyes, giving up. „Remember Al’s friend Emma, who was in love with him and since he couldn’t respond to her feelings, ran away to another country?“

Willow nods. Yes, I can hardly keep anything to myself. Shut up!

„Well, she’s back.“

„I’m failing to see what’s so bad in that.“ Will is still staring at me like I’m a mad person, which, come to think of it, wouldn’t exactly be the first time.

„Oh my Merlin, how do you not realize, you’re the Ravenclaw here?!“

„Because your logic is rubbish.“

I frown. „No, it’s not. Emma is going to push me out of Al’s life, that’s what I’ve been trying to emphasize here!“

„You can’t be certain about that. Maybe Emma is a nice girl. There’s surely a reason Albus likes her so much. Just the way he does with you.“ Willow attempts to reason with me.

„Are you trying to tell me that I’m a nice girl?“ I grin.

„I give up.“ Will denies me the joy of hearing a compliment and returns to the bedroom, leaving me alone.

Instead of feeling staid after my friend’s always logical inputs, the anxiety just comes back stronger and I’m left with no other choice.

 

 

 

„It must be something really urgent, for you to call me at five in the morning.“ The lady with the gray eyes yawns widely.

She’s one of those lucky individuals who, even in these ungodly hours, look rested and youthful.

I sit primly opposite her, my palms resting neatly in my lap. „It is.“

She pours us some orange juice and takes her time leaning back into her chair. „Tell me, Jill, what is it that bothers you?“

I take one deep breath before I blurt it all out. „I think I’m jealous of my friend’s friend, because she’s about to steal his attention from me.“

The lady narrows her bright eyes at me. For a moment, a small smile plays on her lips as if she’s expecting to hear something else. Something that will justify her being here at five in the morning, besides the surely mental sounding rubbish I’ve just babbled.

But, since it doesn’t come, she nearly hisses at me. „Dear God, Tatum, are you joking?“

„No. Why?“ I shrug, even though I’m quite aware of the reason.

„As your psychologist, I have to say, you are borderline insane.“

„Mrs Bolt!“ I protest. „You said you never state such things about your patients!“

„There’s a first time for everything.“ She gets up and dresses back quickly in her light maroon coat. „Come back when you learn the real meaning of the word emergency.“

„But I-“

„Otherwise, see you in your rightful term. By then, maybe you’ll realize how ridiculous you sound, yourself.“ She opens the door for me.

I stand up and walk outside with a huff. „See you in a few days, then.“

The lady nods, her lips finally turning into a fond smile in spite of everything I make her go through. I guess it’s because of my dad, still, because even I can hardly tolerate myself.

 

 

 

In seconds, I’m back at the flat with no idea how to make myself sleep again. So I just... don’t. I stay awake up until the paperboy brings the weekend edition of the Daily Prophet and some of Ash’s trashy magazines.

Feeling adventurous, I go to the roof, hot cocoa in one hand and the trashy papers in another. I search for the abandoned wooden bench and move it to the edge of the roof with the help of my wand. When I sit down, I flop my feet just atop of the concrete barrier between the building and the clear sky. It feels a bit dangerous, but that’s exactly why I enjoy it so much.

Although, my joy is cut short when I spot the front page of one of Ash’s magazines: Albus and Emma, sitting in a bar of some sort and smiling at each other like there’s no tomorrow. Merlin! I mean, Al and I went to plenty of places together and no one bothered to snap a picture. But as soon as these two reunite, everyone seems to take note.

The worst part, though, is the headline.

 

Spotted: Albus Potter with his new-old girlfriend

 

They mean friend, right? It’s a typo, right?

...Right?

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

„What are you doing, Kenward?“ A familiar face appears right above mine.

Besides being startled by the unexpected blast from the past, I also feel a little embarrassed since I’m lying on the roof surrounded by trashy papers opened just at this morning’s articles about Emma and Albus, staring at the sky like a crazy person.

...I can finally see sense in everyone’s point about me being insane.

„Um... Enjoying the morning sun?“ I try.

The guy shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything else. Instead, he offers me a cigarette.

„I don’t smoke, remember?“ I remind him.

„I thought maybe you changed your mind.“ The guy shrugs and then lays down right next to me.

We stare at the sky together in silence, before he conjures two cushions for us to put under our heads and decides to break the tranquillity.

„Funny how you tried to avoid me for years only for us to end up in the same building and on the same roof at the same day, isn’t it?“ He says slowly, between intakes of smoke.

I sigh, realizing there’s no more point in denying his presence. I turn so I’m resting on my side and gazing at his tan face and brilliant blue eyes.

„I’m sorry, Key.“

And it’s like I’m instantly transmitted to the past.

 

 

 

The thirty first of December, 2024/January the first, 2025

 

I was leaning on the bar table, barely keeping myself in a vertical position. The waiter had given up on entertaining me for the night and went back to mixing up drinks. One had a smell faintly reminding me of a love potion. Which was worrisome and would usually prompt me to question the guy’s credibility. But not today. Today I was too drunk to worry about such trifles.

Before ending up in this state, though, I tried to stay sober, I really did, but my career and love life were bumming me out the whole month, with the annoyance culminating on this particular night. I mean, I was handling it well enough for the past nineteen years of my existence, but tonight... tonight I just broke down.

It happens.

I supposed it had much to do with my dreadful colleague Amanda getting engaged ten days prior and Dan being promoted into Chief’s deputy. Not that I wanted those things. I wanted much more, actually, and that was the problem. I was nowhere near achieving my goals.

„Want a smoke?“ Suddenly, a deep voice brought me back to the harsh reality and I detested that.

But my displeasure vanished as soon as I took his figure in.

„No. But I think I would enjoy you.“ I slurred.

I was pretty sure I’d jump on him then and there, until everything became too fuzzy.

The next thing I remembered, besides the stolid pounding in my head, was waking up in a strange room. It was full of posters of musical bands from the wizarding world, old, new, odd, gigantic. One was even covering up the whole ceiling. And even before I spotted a guitar in one corner and a piano in the other, I knew I stumbled into the world of  a musician. The said person entered the room in pants only, showing off his fit body and levitating a cup of coffee for me.

„I see you’ve come back to the land of the conscious.“ He grinned at me playfully.

„Did I just over sleep the New Year’s party?“ I mumbled ignoring his remark, a vile feeling twisting my stomach into knots.

„I’m afraid you did.“ He offered me the hot cup, but I disregarded it.

„So it’s January the first now?“

He nodded, finally realizing that I wouldn’t drink his beverage, so he took a sip himself.

I, on the other hand, got up on my feet quickly and snatched my bag resting atop his desk.

„Where are you going?“ He set aside the coffee and stood in front of me at the door, blocking my access.

„I need to do something.“ I muttered under my breath, anger raising up in my body.

„And I need to make sure you don’t drop on your face again, so you’ll have to take me with you, I’m afraid.“ He smirked.

„Fine.“ I greeted my teeth, unnerved.

So I let him follow me to a muggle cemetery. The road was narrow and muddy, but I always went there by feet. It felt therapeutic. The smoke guy didn’t seem to think alike. He kept asking me what this was all about.

Until I dropped on my knees in front of a white stone, that is. It had the name Cornelia Kenward written on it in fine, golden letters. I kissed my palm and then pressed it against the coldness, against the date that will always mean something else to me than to the rest of the world. I could never be joyful about my New Year’s resolutions, because all I could think of was my grandmother dying on that day. It always evoked overwhelming sadness in me and that’s why I came alone every time. Because I needed to cry and I couldn’t let mum and dad, or anyone else, see me like this. So I lied to them. I made them believe I was scared of graveyards to the point of not being able to visit my grandmother. But then, in the dawn, I’d always sneak out to do so. That’s why I didn’t drink on New Year’s parties. I needed to stay sober in order to get here in those ungodly hours. And that’s why last night was a disastrous mistake.

I got up, rubbing my face to dry out the tears.

„Happy?“ I threw the remark into the guy’s direction while passing him grimly.

He just stood there, letting me go.

And so I thought that would be the end of it.

 

 

 

But it wasn’t.

 

 

 

The twenty first of January, 2025

 

I was trying to write my article about first love (Merlin!) but the giggling women running past my small office were making it impossible. I gave my best to ignore them, until I snapped and went outside, stopping the first one by grabbing her wrist gently.

„What is this all about?!“

„Come and see.“ She just smiled in response.

I sighed and, against any better judgement, followed them to the big glass wall in the north section. When I finally pushed through, I realized someone had removed the glass and put a safety rail, so the girls could lean on to hear and see better. What? Well...

„She’s the witch with the desolate eyes,

so hollow, so deprived of smiles,

she’s the witch living in a lonely world,

but she, she has mine unfurled...“

I gaped at the New Year’s guy playing on a piano underneath, in the middle of the square, with people surrounding him and following his tunes by clapping.

I immediately moved from the wall and went back to my office, closing the door and hoping this whole ordeal wasn’t for me.

But... I heard a knock moments later.

„Jill, someone’s here to see you.“ Said a girl through a loud giggle.

„I’m not present.“

The door opened anyway and the smoke guy was standing there, smiling at me. „Your body begs to differ.“

„The body is merely an empty shell without the spirit inside.“ I spat back.

„Come on, Jill, go out with him.“ My female colleagues pleaded in the background.

„I don’t even know his name!“ I yelled at them.

„It’s Keyon. Keyon Eggo. But you can call me Key.“

He was gazing at me with such a pure hope that I finally felt guilty enough to accept to go out with him. You know, besides the obvious fact that I was intrigued by his outlandish name.

But the whole time we were on the date I told him I couldn’t have a boyfriend since I was hung up on someone else. Keyon wouldn’t have it, though. He kept saying he would help me get over ’that arse’. There was no use in turning him down. Key wanted the challenge, he thrived on it. So we started seeing each other, but not exactly dating since I let him kiss me once or twice during the whole five months we hung out together.

And then, one morning, it just hit me-how bad it was of me to be using his company without giving much in return. Not just in the physical sense. I was barely there whenever he talked or smiled at me, too. I was an arse, because being an arse let me feel superior, just like James had to feel in our friendship. And I liked that in a very much twisted, sick way. When I told Key that I couldn’t do that to him anymore, he protested. He didn’t believe me when I told him I didn’t participate in our relationship. He wanted, he still yearned, to win me over.

So as soon as I could, I started looking into transferring to Witch Weekly in order to get away from Key, amongst other things. It was cruel, yet it was the best thing I could do for him.

 

 

 

May, 2025

 

The last memory I had of him was when I told him I was moving away because I got a job offer (I alternated my reality a bit to suite the needs I had.). He asked me just one favour-for us to spend a whole day and night together and, then, he would leave me alone.

I obliged. It didn’t bother me.

Until he fell asleep next to me in his old, poster-pasted room. There was still a trace of sadness visible on his tormented face and it finally got to me. I sobbed quietly to myself, because I was a jerk and everything that happened to me in my miserable existence up until that point was deserving. I put my palm on his face and muttered so silently I couldn’t even hear my own voice: „I’m sorry.“

And that was the last time we saw each other.

 

 

 

Until, of course, now.

 

 

 

„No. I’m sorry I insisted so much when, clearly, you were in no condition to be in a relationship.“

I squeeze his hand in gratefulness.

„Have you... you know, gotten over him?“ He adds.

„Yeah, I finally have.“ I chuckle.

He takes a look at the magazines surrounding me. „But you’ve fallen for another bloke now, I see.“

I rumple the papers and throw them away. „He’s just a friend.“

„Clearly.“ Key laughs.

 

 

 

I call him into our flat later on for a coffee and he agrees. That’s when both of my friends, Willow and Ash, start acting a bit weird.

„So, where are you from? You seem rather exotic?“ Willow smiles at him.

„Um, my father is British and my mum’s family is from Africa.“

„Such an interesting mix.“ Ash nods her head.

„And what do you do for a living?“ Willow takes his palm carefully to examine it. „Your hands look like those of an artist.“

Key laughs and nods slightly, clearly amused. „I’m a musician. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the band Dragon Puffs?“

„Oh, Merlin! I thought you looked familiar!“ Ash squeals, which is a rather rare occurrence in itself. „Desolate eyes and Dragon hunt are some of my favourite tunes, I swear!“

Dragon hunt is yours?!“ Willow gasps. „That is me in song form, I joke you not!“

„What are you doing here? I mean, you could probably live in a far better environment.“ Ash wonders.

„Yes, but I like living in small, relatively normal neighbourhoods.“ He shrugs.

„Since Tatum is living here, too, it can’t really be normal, you should know that.“ Ash interjects with a smirk thrown my way.

„Har-har.“ I roll my eyes.

 

 

 

So it goes on, back and forth, until I go off to get ready for Rose’s and Scorpius’ goodbye party. I sit in my room with Will and Ash laughing in the background.

Ash then suddenly knocks on my door so loudly I jump up, startled.

„Hey. Willow sent me to inform you that we’re kidnapping Keyon for the day.“

I smile lightly, but can’t keep the tingle of sorrow away from my eyes, which Ash notices. She sits down beside me, resting her palm on top of mine, the one that’s squeezing the dress I picked out for today’s party.

„What’s wrong? I mean, besides the usual existential crap.“

I laugh a little, shaking my head. „Nothing.“

„I’m sorry. I didn’t ask you if there is something wrong, because that much is evident. I wanted to know what or… who it’s about.“ Ash persists, her firm expression back.

Dad’s approach is appreciated, but right now I think Ash’s is the only one that can break through my armour.

„It’s Keyon.“ I mutter, my voice breaking a little.

„What can you possibly have against a stud like him?“ Ash rolls her eyes at me.

I break into a short giggle, but then my features turn dim yet again. „He reminds me too much of that horrible, dark side of myself. Reminds me that, since I’m capable of causing so much pain, I’m not deserving of happiness.“

Ash stays silent for a moment, which is an unusual sight: not hearing her spat vague insults in response. She takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, before replying in a straight tone.

„I’m going to tell you a story. But you have to promise you’re not going to blab it out to anyone.“ By this point she opens her eyes again and stares at me intently.

I nod my head, lost for words. Ash is a highly private person and occasions of her sharing herself with me are rare. So I understand the gravity of what’s to follow.

„When I was about five years old I started fancying a typical, normal Muggle boy from across the street. My magical nature was something no one in my family suspected of, because I hid it away, deep inside of myself. I knew, on some level, that it was out of ordinary, the things I could do. And, unlike many children who would probably enjoy such abilities, I detested my strangeness. So, liking the most uninteresting boy in my neighbourhood was a way of escaping the truth: that I was different. Just a few blocks away lived Felix Chadwick, a boy two years older than me and also quite unusual. For this reason, he felt drawn to me and sought out my attention and friendship. In turn, I broke his heart. Repeatedly. I stuck to the bland boy up until I got my Hogwarts letter and I could’t run away anymore. However, by this point Felix had moved to another part of London with his family. We were separated for two years and then suddenly reunited at the platform nine and three quarters. I was so lonely and scared that, when I recognized him, I felt relief. In a moment of sheer bliss, my mind blocked out all the terrible things I did to him when we were little. But Felix didn’t forget. He wasn’t outright rude, like me, but it was clear he didn’t enjoy my company. I took the hint and wandered about the train until I met my only Hogwarts peer, another Muggleborn witch named Poppy. But even though Poppy was the best friend I could wish for back then, I always felt something was missing. Or rather, someone. The years passed by and Felix kept avoiding me and I kept hurting. Until I… Until I admitted to myself that it wasn’t only friendship that I yearned to have with him. That didn’t change anything on his end, though. Felix finished school and went on to travel around the world, much like Willow. And I lost him for good, the only truly decent guy in my life.“

I gaze at Ash’s tormented expression and squeeze her hand back.

She grins, not adverting her eyes from the floor, until adding: „Now, I’m not saying that you’ll realize you love Keyon along the way. But maybe he’s a friend that’s been missing from your life. Maybe… if you push him away, you’ll regret it. And regret is far more painful than being reminded of the bad things you did, trust me.“

She pats my hand lightly before getting up.

She halts a bit at the door, however, her back facing me. „Besides, you never know how associating with a rock star can benefit you.“

At this point she turns quickly, winks at me and leaves me alone in a whoosh.

My lips curl into a smile on their own. Sometimes, Ash is a better Slytherin than I am and that amuses me because I attribute it to me rubbing off of her. And that makes me very happy.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

When I walk out some minutes later, the living room is already deserted. Ash and Will indeed stole Key for the day and led him to who knows where. I honestly don’t even wanna know.

Suddenly, there’s a loud pop in front of the door and a string of laughter. My face immediately falls as I go to the wooden entrance to my flat.

„Miss Kenward, your room service is here.“ A female voice sings.

„Flat service.“ The male one corrects.

„It can’t be that big of a flat for it to be a mistake to call it a room, now can it?“

„Emma...“ The male voice warns with a trace of reprehension.

„What, I can’t help it that I’m rich.“

I finally open the door only to find the two of them twirl to me in surprise.

„Have you heard...?“ Albus starts.

„All of it.“ I affirm by nodding.

„Good, we won’t be obligated to paraphrase. Let us apparate to the Weasley manor then!“ Emma cheers.

„The Weasley manor?“ I try not to show how offended I am but instead concentrate on the other issue. „I thought the party was held at Rose and Scorpius’ home.“

„Yeah.. I forgot to mention that, didn’t I?“ Al scratches his forehead, embarrassed.
„I can’t go there looking like this!“ I point out my overly exposed body. „I thought this was only for the youngsters of the Weasley-Potter-Malfoy bunch!“

This is also when I notice how tame both Emma and Albus look, her in a pair of black pants and a white shirt and him in green skinny jeans and a white T-shirt.

„Don’t worry, the older ones also know how to appreciate a good view.“ Emma winks at me.

Oh, Merlin, this is not good.

„I’m sorry, Ty, but we have to go, now, or we’ll be late.“ Al says with an apologetic look on his face. „But, really, don’t fret about it, you look fine.“

„You mean fiiine.“ Emma repeats his last word with a sleazy accent.

„Emma!“ Al frowns at his other friend before taking my palm and smiling at me in reassurance.

I sigh as I lock my door and let him apparate us away.

 

 

 

We land in a small shielded park with willows blocking our view. It’s cold and dark and I curse myself for choosing such a small dress for this time of the year. Emma has every right to mock my stupidity. She and Al step out of the small area where we apparated and lead the way to a more green and lively surrounding. After we leave the park behind, a small street appears, lights from the street lamps giving the neighbourhood a more welcoming look. The houses are squeezed right next to each other, forming a tight succession dominated by faint yellow and red colors. One house particularly stands out, though. In every way possible: it has one floor more than the rest, the paint is fresh and bright and a sign with the words Weasley Manor is placed above the beautifully carved door.

„I suppose you can guess which one is of my uncle and aunt.“ Albus smirks at me.

I grin back at him, but the moment is interrupted when Emma pushes both of us to the entrance. She presses the button on the right and a loud sound echoes throughout the house. Then, a rumble of voices near us and Hugo, Fred and Dominique pull us in as soon as the door is opened.

„Good Godric, who is she?“ Fred wiggles his eyebrows at me.

„Um, I interviewed you at the wedding a little over a week ago?“ I try to help.

Fred squints, looking me over and over again. „Hm, red dress, up to the knees, right?“

I turn to Albus, slightly disturbed. „Is this how he remembers people? By what they wear?“

„Only girls, love. Only girls. And it’s by how little they wear.“ Fred winks at me.

I blush, because, heck, Fred Weasley is actually one handsome fellow.

„Fred, don’t make me call Trisha on you.“ Dominique warns. „Girlfriends don’t usually find such a behaviour amusing, let me tell you.“

„Urgh, Dom, why do you always wreck my fun?!“ With that Fred is off, leaving us with the other two Weasleys.

They prove to be more collected than Fred as they lead us pacifically to the big living room full of people. Almost everyone there turns to look at us, though, especially me in my mini dress. Fuck! Seriously, what was I thinking?! Even grandpa Weasley is frowning at me from the corner, lifting his head from some kind of a retro mobile phone. Great, scoring family points like a boss, ain’t I? Not that they are my family. No, I didn’t mean it like that! Double fuck!

Rose is the first one to approach us, a huge grin on her plump lips. She pulls me into a tight hug and, upon releasing me, gives a questioning look to Emma.

„Wittling?“

„Back from the dead.“ The girl smiles.

„Welcome.“ Rose embraces her as well, but with evidently less enthusiasm.

If she noticed this, Emma keeps it to herself, which I have to admire.

Rose, on the other hand, leads me immediately to her parents and my legs start to turn into jelly, right on cue. Did someone perform that silly spell on me or am I just star struck? It could be both, though, considering where I’m at. Not that I didn’t meet them at the wedding, of course, but it was rather brief and, well, I was busy with other... things.

„Mum, dad, this is Tatum Jillian Kenward, who prefers to be called Jill (She winks in my direction, proud of herself for not forgetting to mention my hate toward the name Tatum.), I don’t know if you’ve met her at the wedding, but she’s the one who pushed me to think about my feelings toward Scorpius.“ Rose tattles on.

„So you’re the one who actually forced me to associate with the Malfoys.“ Mr Weasley frowns at me.

My face goes pale in an instant.

„Dad!“ Rose giggles at her father. „She’ll think you’re being serious.“

„Oh, she knows I’m only joking. Right, Jill?“ Mr Ronald bumps my shoulder.

„Heh, right.“ I force a grin.

Mrs Weasley, however, rolls her eyes at her husband. „Ron, you’re scaring the poor girl!“

„It was a mere waggery!“ He protests.

„Err.“ Rose takes my hand and pulls me away. „Maybe we should come back in a couple of minutes. It usually takes some times until they’re back to adoring each other.“

„Or not. We could not come back.“ I murmur.

I notice Al, Emma and Lucy chatting in the corner on my way to wherever Rose is leading me next. I wave to him faintly and he motions back, a small smile tugged onto his lips, which instantly makes me feel better.

I remember talking to their grandmother next, about her life and many memories, and how Rose was one temperamental baby. So I tease her that her children will be even worse, because that’s how the universe pays back. Rose pretends to get angry but it’s clear she’s enjoying my antics. Even though I still don’t understand why she’s taken such a liking to me.

Then, we’re chatting with Bill, who’s sharing the most insane stories from his trips around the world.

„Have you ever come across a girl named Willow Lynch, possibly?“ I ask, just to see how the odds are of him remembering her, because Will claims they crossed paths somewhere in Poland.

„Of course, she’s your mate, right?“

„I can’t believe you recall her!“ I exclaim, excited.

„Well, she tried to explain to me how we’re connected through James being your old friend and her being your mate for almost an hour. Trust me, I can’t forget it.“ He chuckles and so do I.

„No, seriously now, she’s a great expert in her field, she has a bright future ahead of her.“

I smile at that, because there was a time when Willow was on a brink of giving up of ever becoming a curse breaker.

 

 

 

September of 2024

 

I was just back from an awful day at Daisy’s when, upon opening the door to my tiny flat, noticed that it was empty. Even though the apartment was quite small, it had one advantage over my other settlements: a rather charming balcony. Since the door was left unlocked it was clear that my room mate was somewhere in here and I knew exactly where to search for her. I set my bag down in the middle of the room, at the floor, even though the table was inches away from me (That’s just the sort of unexplained things I liked to do.) and wandered to the said balcony. Sure enough, my brunette friend was sitting there and eating a whole cake by herself. I knocked on the glass door lightly, to what she twirled apprehensively, but sighed with relief when she took in my exhausted figure. She pointed her wand to the door, I could see her muttering Alohomora, and it opened with a loud screech.

„Hello, roomy.“ I smiled as I sat next to her, conjuring a fork to join her in the eating.

Willow scoffed at the action, clearly having a plan to finish the cake alone.

„Hi.“

We ate in silence for about five minutes, before Will sighed heavily like she always did before confessing something embarrassing or hard for her. I casted a curious glance her way.

„I don’t know if I can do it, Jill.“ She mumbled.

I knew exactly what she was referring to. Willow was still on her training to become a certified curse breaker. It took a toll on her, sometimes she was so tired after it, she’d sleep through the whole day. Soon, she was supposed to go to Japan to finish her preparation there, since their school for studying curses was the most estimated one in the world. And, going into her career, at the start, Willow knew she wanted the best education. Plus, she was from a rather wealthy family, she could afford it. She only lived in this crappy flat, because I refused she paid more than exactly half the rent, so this was the best I could afford. And Will didn’t want to leave me, not when she would be off into the world in a matter of days anyway.

I took her hand, to what she adverted her gaze form the cake to my eyes. „If you can’t, who can?“

She chuckled to herself a little and got back to eating. She let me hold her hand a bit longer, though. She knew, deep down, that her doubts were only that-doubts. And she would not give up this far into the game. But it was nice having someone reassure you, anyway. It always was.

 

 

 

„Jill!“ Rose startles me, which causes me to end the recalling of one of my last days with Willow, before she left for Japan. „Come on, I have to show you something!“

The girl pulls me away from Bill, to whom I wave apologetically. He nods in return, a knowing grin on his mature face. Bill is a good looking lad, too. The scars only make him appear more wicked in a very cool way. This family has too many good genes, I swear. But then you have Rose, who is clearly beautiful, but so hard to keep up with. In seconds we’re out on a large terrace, which gives a full view of the backyard that’s only accessible through the house. It’s gigantic, though, with a swimming pool right in the middle, the water glimmering with lights I’m not sure are achievable without the use of magic. Around it, lined up in straight sequences, are threes that I’m witnessing for the first time in my life. They have almost purple leafs that glow celestially in the dark, adding to the steep play of lights.

„Wow.“ An impressed breath leaves my mouth.

Rose giggles delightfully. „Mum loves to experiment with magic back here. There’s a protection shield around so it’s not in the field of view of their Muggle neighbours. So basically, she can do whatever she wants with their yard.“

„And your dad?“

„He’s usually too lazy to participate, so he just chills by the pool, while mum comes up with new charms.“

I grin. „I can see that happening, all too clearly.“

„Those are my parents for you.“ She nods.

I walk to the rail, leaning on it with the lower half of my arms, gazing at the shimmering water. „It’s beautiful. But how come they’re living in a Muggle neighbourhood?“

„Because mum expressed a wish to. While Hugo and I were little and all up to our graduation, we lived next to our uncle Harry and aunt Ginny. But then mum said it was time she came back to her roots for awhile and when she sets her mind to something, dad always loses the argument.“

I smile, completely understanding it because of what I’ve read about the pair. „So they may move back at some point?“

Rose nods. „I think she already misses my aunt and uncle not being around constantly. I know dad does.“

She then Accios two stools for us, offering one for me to sit on. I do, but make sure to still be able to watch the lights bounce of the pool and trees.

„Jill, I have to talk to you.“ She flicks her wand silently but from many personal uses, I   know it’s the Muffliato charm.

„All right.“ I turn to her.

Rose sighs deeply before continuing, which frightens me a little, to be honest. „About Albus.“

Dear Salazar, no.

„And Emma, too, while I’m at it.“ She adds, annoyance dripping from her voice.

„What about them?“ I mutter, wishing I could escape from this conversation.

„Look, I like you. Now, you don’t have to necessary understand why, but I do. A lot, actually.“ She rattles on, as if she can read my mind. „I can try to explain it, though.“

I shrug.

Rose giggles. „See, even that gesture of yours is likable. You’re so very... you. Awkward, weird around the edges, not able to understand the human sort quite well, but at the core... There’s this ambitious person, full of adoration for writing and a clear need to be loved and accepted. You’re vulnerable. And I can relate to that, quite a lot actually. We’re more similar than you think. Maybe if I had a little less of family members and fame attached to my name, I’d be almost exactly like you. You’re like a twisted, edgier version of the person that I am, as well, deep down. Why do you think I was so aggressive at school? It was my way of dealing with the world that I couldn’t fully grasp. I still can’t, but I’ve learnt to let loose a little. And I see there’s a more joyous girl inside of you, too, you’re just so used to horrible things happening to you to let her out, completely. And I understand that, trust me, I do.“

I gape at the young Weasley, well Malfoy, woman in admiration. „Can you replace my shrink ’cause this would be so much cheaper for me?“

She laughs, patting me on the back with a little too much force. „See, there it is, that spunk, humour, spark. And that’s why I like that you’re hanging out with Al. He’s... he’s a good chap, but he’s been obsessed with one single girl for far too long. And Emma...“

„What do you have against Emma?“ I wonder.

„Nothing much, in general.“ Rose highlights the general part. „She could be a good friend, but it’s obvious that’s not what she wants. It has been, from the start. I’m afraid that’s the only reason she befriended him-to dig her way up to his heart. I mean, she left as soon as he rejected her. Which means that, since she couldn’t get what she wanted, she had no use of him anymore. Now she’s back and I can bet you she hopes he’s over Alice, so she can try her luck again. And, seeing you, how you want to be there for him, genuinely, with no ulterior motive, has made me open my eyes to how much better of a company for him you are.“

„Why do I get the feeling that you want to set me up with him, then?“ I frown.

Rose chuckles at my failed serious expression. „Well, that’s exactly the reason, don’t you see? You have no ulterior motive. You just care about him, in the most sincere, innocent way.“

I look away to the marvellous performance of lights dancing over the grand yard. I feel free, suddenly, like a big weight has been lifted from my chest, like I can breath again. And Rose hasn’t even stopped pairing me up with her cousin. It doesn’t matter anymore, though, because I understand her now. And I adore her for seeing me for, well, me, not who I’m at the surface. Al or no Al, I’m starting to love his family, however crazy they may be. Or... just because of that. We’re unlikely kindred spirits, and in an inexplicable way, I feel I belong here.

 

 

 

Rose rejoins Scorpius at some point later on, but she doesn’t miss the opportunity to wink my way at all times. I smile and shake my head in amusement, whenever she does so. I, too, want to go back to Albus, but it’s as if the never ending members of the Weasley-Potter-Malfoy family are determined to keep me away from him.

Right now, for example, I’m trying to escape Louis, who’s taken it upon himself to court me, as he proclaims. After trying to escape him in the living room, I end up against a wall in the deserted kitchen with his hands on each side of it, right next to my head.

„Why do you protest so much, Jill? I mean, you’re single, I’m hot. We’d make beautiful Kenward-Weasley babies.“

„That right there is the reason, the fact that you just said that.“ I crease my nose in disgust.

„Oh, come on. I’m a good snogger, at least?“ He winks at me, a questioning look on his handsome face, no malice in his voice. It’s obvious that this chase around the house is merely a way for him to get me to like him.

But I can’t. Not in that way, anyway.

Why is that, though? The guy’s like sculptured, for Merlin’s sake! And the last time someone kissed me... Was when his cousin saw his lost love at the wedding of his other cousin. Maybe that’s why.

I crouch down and, just when I’m about to escape him, I hear a weird splitting sound. I stop dead in my tracks.

„Nice underwear.“ I hear Louis remark, amusement dripping from his voice.

No.

I twirl around to find my dress stuck to a nail sticking out of the wall where I just stood.

No, no, no!

„Hey, guys have you seen-“

And of course, my luck just keeps getting suckier by the second.

I veer to the voice I already know the owner of, but I can’t hide, nor can I repair the damage quickly enough in order to get rid of the guilty expression on my stunned face.

Mind you, the scene is the following: my dress, previously hanging off a nail, has fallen to the ground, so it appears as though I’ve taken it off willingly; I, on the other hand, am standing dangerously close to Louis Weasley, in my care-bear underwear (Yeah, I have a thing for care-bears. Shut up!), while he’s resting his arm on my waist (Wait, when did that happen?!).

I open my mouth in horror but no words come out.

„Oh.“ Is all Albus says, before slowly backing off out of the kitchen.

 

 

 

Well, fuck my life.

I take back the notion that I love this family, because they will clearly be the death of me.

 

 








 

A/N: Giggles. I’m sorry, I had way too much fun writing this chapter, especially the ending part. :D Thoughts?

 

 


Chapter 11: Trains
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Disclaimer: Not mine. HP, I mean. The characters of Tatum, Willow, Ash and some others are, though. But that's about it.

A/N: It's so weird posting this chapter, considering the fact that I'm writing the last one. That will be the sixteenth one, unless I change my mind, but that's not likely to happen. So, you have this one and five more chapters to look forward to. :) And, God, they have quite some humour in them. :D








 

Trains

 

„Well, that was fu-“ Will stops mid sentence when she spots me curled into a ball on the couch, yet again, eating muffins.

She huffs as she closes the door behind her with caution.

„What in the name of Merlin is it now?“

„Albus.“

She sighs. „Wow, how suspiring.“

Her tone is rather sarcastic, which I pick up on. As an equally dreadful response, I  throw a pillow at her, but she reacts too fast, casting a small Protego shield, so the cushion bounces off, right back into my face.

Willow giggles in triumph, while I rub my grating nose. „It’s not funny.“

„No, it’s rather pathetic.“ She agrees. „So, what is it with Al this time around?“

„He thinks I engaged in... a physical action with his cousin Louis at the party.“

Will turns to me, intrigued. „Why’s that?“

„Because he found us in each other’s proximity, with my dress on the floor and my underwear exposed.“

„The care-bear ones?“

„Is that what interests you the most, out of everything I just told you, really?“ I narrow my eyes at her in disbelief.

Willow shrugs. „You get in all sorts of weird situations, I’m used to it by now.“

I do have to agree with that.

„If only Al would think alike.“ I sigh, feeling slightly depressed.

„Why does it bother you what he thinks?“ Willow crosses her arms, a questioning expression on her round face amidst wild, brown curls.

„Because...“ I scoff. „Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?“

„To me, yes. I don’t know if you understand the true reason behind your recent behaviour, though.“ She smiles at me, seemingly rather pleased with herself.

I stay silent for a change, unwilling to argue.

Until I notice something. „Where’s Ash?“

„She’s been sleeping in her room for two hours now, silly.“ Will shakes her head at me, like a mother would at her gullible child. „Came back earlier from our night out with Keyon. Why do you think I’m whispering?“

„Because?“ I shrug.

Willow laughs silently in response.

„Why is she sleeping at this hour, anyway?“

„Right, you don’t know.“ She nods, as if remembering a crucial information not attainable to me as of yet. „Her boss sent her an owl a few hours ago-she got promoted!“ Will beams.

„Promoted?“ I blink.

I didn’t know Ash could get promoted so quickly, what with the competition at Gringotts being insane. I guess I never give her work ethics enough credit. She does have a perfectionist nature, which should have clued me in.

„She’s working in the morning shift from tomorrow. So when I leave, which will be soon, I’m afraid, you won’t be so lonely anymore. Plus, you have Al.“

„Correction, had Al.“ I interject grimly.

Willow rolls her eyes as if not believing me. „Right, I’m going to sleep, as well. Care to join me?“

I shake my head, to what my friend storms off, annoyed.

I can’t blame her. But she wasn’t there. She doesn’t know how embarrassed I feel or unable to come up with a decent explanation to Albus.

Maybe I really should sleep, it can only help me think better, right?

But I can’t. His horrified face is constantly in front of my eyes. It probably mirrored mine, since I was completely aghast. Still am. Because... I’m scared he won’t be willing to stay friends with me after the whole Louis fiasco. Correction, I’m scared shitless. It’s actually frightening how important he has become to me in such a short span of time.

Frightening and luscious simultaneously. Now... what does that description remind you of?

Shut up, brain!

Merlin, from now on, I won’t think when I’m upset. I’ll just stick to eating Ash’s muffins. That’s harmless. If you don’t count my ever expending buttocks, of course.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

I walk into my office with a killer headache and a blurred vision. The staying awake until dawn, thinking about Albus and simultaneously eating sweets habit has started to take a toll on me. I flop down into my chair, huffing.

But I’m not given an opportunity to have some peace, because James enters my office like it’s his own.

„Hello, Tatum!“ He salutes cheerfully.

„Speak louder, please.“ I groan.

„I don’t think that would be a good idea.“ He retorts, the sarcasm flying way over his head.

„Urgh, what are you doing here, James? I recall you quitting some time ago. And, yet, here you are, not forsaking this place for a second.“ I support my throbbing head with my palm.

„Well, aren’t you an unpleasant one.“ He remarks with a frown, but he’s quickly back to his trademark smirking. „I think I finally know what my calling is!“

„Brilliant. Now, why are you telling me this?“

„Because, you’re my future sister in law, duh!“ He rolls his eyes at me, as if that is a given.

„James, no.“ I shake my head, unable to produce a more coherent argument.

„I’ve seen how you two danced at the wedding and exchanged meaningful glances at the party yesterday. It is sooo a yes.“

I hit the desk with my head lightly, frustrated. „Ok, your thoughts on me and your brother aside, what is your calling?“

Well, now I’m intrigued.

„I’m going to be a WiTV host for a show with Quidditch star guests.“ He beams at me.

I squint at him, confused. „I don’t recall there being such a show.“

„That’s the point, I’ll convince them to make one, for me. Innit great?“ He beams even wider.

Dear Merlin, what have I ever seen in James Potter is puzzling to me now.

„Yes, James, it’s splendid.“ I smile at him in a tired manner.

„Well, that’s all. Except....“ He stops to grin at me significantly. „Albus wants to talk to you.“

I perk up. „What? When? Where?“

„Aha, you do have a crush on him!“ James points to me, satisfied.

I trow a pencil at him, but it misses him by a mile. Fuck, I’m a lousy flinger when sleep-deprived.

„Tonight. At cafe Pixie in Diagon Alley. Nine o’clock. Wear something hot. That last bit is my own addition.“ James winks.

„Yeah, like it wasn’t obvious.“ I smirk, for the first time this morning letting myself enjoy the silliness of James Potter.

He waves me goodbye before heading off minutes later. I surely hope not to stalk my boss again. But who am I to give lectures on stalking?

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

For safety purposes, I choose a pair of skinny jeans this time, complete with a yellow shirt and a light jacket, just right for autumn. Besides my clothing, everything else is giving me trouble. By everything else, I mean this date with Al. Well, not date, but you know what I mean. I’m scared he’s going to want to stop communicating with me. And since I have driven people away from myself in the past, that wouldn’t be such a shock.

When I walk up to the cafe, I can’t help but laugh a little, letting myself relax for a moment. It’s electric blue, I guess to honour the magical creatures whose name the owners have borrowed, so narrow it makes me wonder if even two tables can fit on one of the four floors it has, and a man in a Pixie suit is standing in front, blocking people’s paths in order to persuade them to come in. Why in the name of Salazar would Al ask me to come here?

Just as I’m wondering this, his palm rests on my shoulder. I turn around to a happy, cheerful face, which makes me joyful as well.

„Hey.“ I give him a quick hug.

„Sorry, it’s hard looking at you seriously after seeing your underwear.“ He chuckles.

I hit him in his forearm as a response.

„Although, when you get past the bears, you become aware of the hotness.“ He winks at me.

I blush, in spite of myself. „Does this mean you’re not mad at me?“

„Why would I be? I’m your friend, without the boy prefix.“ He says it with a face too stern.

I nod, suddenly feeling a bit disappointed. What is wrong with me? This should delight me!

We enter the cafe and choose a table on the last floor, one of the four at the story, as it turns out. I wasn’t far of, then. I order a butterbeer and Al follows my lead. When the waiter finally delivers and leaves us alone, I speak up, albeit nervously.

„Why are we here? I mean, it’s a bit...“

„Ridiculous?“

„Yeah.“ I giggle.

„Well, I thought it would suit you, as you’re one highly nonsensical person.“

„Hey!“

Al just laughs at my protest. „It’s mostly deserted and I wanted us to be alone, that’s why. Plus, the other reason still stands.“

I roll my eyes, but I’m secretly amused by him.

„I’ve missed you.“ I whisper. „I know that Emma is back and that you had a lot of catching up to do but, yeah... I’ve missed you.“

Albus extends his hand to grasp my palm gently. The touch sends small waves of warmth throughout my body.

„I’m sorry. I know I’ve neglected you lately. But Emma’s finally found a flat so we won’t be glued to each other 24/7, at least.“

„Yeah, at least.“ I whisper to myself.

Albus leaves the issue behind and starts talking about his job, the most interesting cases he had today, since it was a busy day, but mostly full of funny accidents, nothing critical. As he gesticulates wildly and his glasses keep slipping down his straight nose, I can’t help but stare at him. In a weird way, I’ve never felt more fond of him than in this moment right here.

„I don’t want to lose you.“ I suddenly utter, on a verge to cry.

He stops mid sentence to gaze at me with his ridiculously beautiful emerald eyes and it hurts. It physically hurts and I don’t even know why.

He stands up, circles around the table and pulls me in a gentle embrace. „I’m not going anywhere, silly. Even when you marry Louis and have notoriously cocky children with him, I’m still going to pop up in your home, unannounced, hopefully catching you in your underwear. Preferably that bear one.“

I laugh into his shoulder. „I’m not going to marry Louis, you dummy. I don’t even like him like that.“

„Well, I don’t know who’s there left to fancy for you, then. Because, no matter how full of himself Louis is, he’s one of the fittest guys I know.“

As soon as he says this, Al’s nose creases in discomfort. „Ok, that sounded wrong coming out of his cousin’s mouth.“

I shake my head at his frolicsomeness, still laughing.

And it’s always like this with him, it seems. Even when I feel like my world is ripping itself in half, Albus somehow manages to make me smile. And, secretly, that’s the main reason I couldn’t even begin to imagine my life without him.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

It’s the first day of October and an unusually sunny Wednesday. It’s also the day Scorpius and Rose are coming back from their honeymoon, along with Alice and Dylan. And I’m nervous. More nervous than Albus appears to be, oddly. We’re standing at the King’s Cross train station, awaiting the two couples along with many other relatives and friends.

The spouses chose to come back in a train, since all four of them met at the Hogwarts Express, on their first rides to Hogwarts. It’s a symbolic way of marking another beginning in their lives. Then, it was their acquaintance. Now, it’s marriage.

In fact, their train should be here in a matter of minutes. The hustle around us is proving to be a good shelter for speculators like myself. Conveniently, since my thoughts are in a larger disarray then the whole station. As a reflex helping me disguise the imbroglio in my head, I wave the small flag with the sign Malfoys on it, nervously playing with my hair.

The mask is not good enough to fool Albus Potter, though.

„What’s wrong?“ He takes my hand, the one previously busy with my brown locks, and squeezes it.

I turn to him, getting a little lost in his gaze. „Well... it’s...“

I stop, realizing I’m not able to explain. How can I put my sentiments into words when they aren’t even clear to me?

„Hey, guys, sorry I’m late!“

We veer to spot Emma panting her way to us, carrying a flag similar to mine, only instead of silver letters, hers have those of a pretty scarlet color.

See, in this one week that has passed since my date with Al at the Pixie, I’ve learnt to appreciate Emma. For example, she has no clue how to mask her obviously high standard of living. Now, you may think that is just plain vainglory on her part, but it’s not, she’s genuinely, hilariously posh, so it’s a constant source of laughter. And she’s a bit insensitive, too, which, again, could be a bad thing, but Emma makes it be a risible trait. She’s also started working in a small hospital of her own, like, for real-her father has a hospital and has decided to retire, so she’s basically her own boss, which means that Albus isn’t around her constantly, just as he said he wouldn’t be. Because of this, the tension between the three of us has mellowed down and I’m starting to see why he likes Emma so much. And I guess she likes me back, too, since she has a nickname for me, her own sign of affection.

„Bus, TaKen, what’s up?“ She bumps our shoulders forcefully.

Even Al is rubbing his painfully after she lays off.

„Just waiting for the love birds.“ I smile in a slightly overly enthusiastic manner.

„Right.“ Emma nods, catching my tone in understanding.

„Is there something you girls want to share?“ Albus glares at us, offended for being left out.

I always forget how intuitive he is. It’s really hard to keep a secret from him.

„Oh, come on, it’s Alice. We’re just worried.“ Emma reads my mind, word by word.

„Of what? That I’ll profess my undying love to her? I already did that with no result, remember?“ Al scoffs.

„You actually told her about your feelings?“ I wonder.

Albus sighs. „Yes, she rejected me. You know, funny thing is, I think you were there when that happened, actually.“

„Where?“ I frown.

„At the Three Broomsticks. You were with a boy, too. Some tall, dark lad.“

I narrow my eyes at him, trying and failing to recall the person in question.

„Valentine’s Day, fourth year, well... my fourth, your fifth.“ Al adds, as if to help me remember.

Then, it actually does hit me. „Oh, Merlin, I think I know now.“

 

 

 

The fourteenth of February, 2021

 

I was looking anywhere but at my date, as he was jabbering on about his favourite subjects at Hogwarts. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hogwarts (Well, kind of.), but this guy. This guy! It was as if he was out to marry it! But it was all my fault, no one else to blame, really. I was the one who flirted with him in Potions, I was the one who smiled at him in the Great Hall, I was the one who suggested this particular outing. Then again, to be fair to myself a little here, too, I was desperate. I needed to take my mind off of a certain Potter boy.

But it seemed as if Merlin wouldn’t have it, because, all of a sudden, who should come in, but another Potter. Specifically, the middle one.

Albus Potter. An enigma of its own kind. He was someone I never talked to, thus, one of the rare people that didn’t somehow end up being written about in the school’s newspaper, at all. He was in the company of Alice Longbottom, a childhood friend of his, as I’ve been told. They sat far away from us, but they were still in my field of view. I could see them laughing as they sat down. For some reason, I felt compelled to peak in their direction, every so little. Probably because Dean was boring me to death. They appeared to provide more entertainment for me, even though it was mostly all smiles and chuckles and quiet talking.

Until, at one point, Albus just stood up, his expression firm, but clearly dark. Alice was staring at him, her mouth hanging open. And then he just... left. The girl looked down for a moment, before Accioing her bag from the corner and storming off.

Needless to say, the said incident was the most exciting thing that happening to me that Valentine’s Day. And it didn’t even involve me directly.

 

 

 

I gaze at Al in compassion.

„Yeah.“ He nods. „But I’m fine now.“

Just then, the train halts and the cloud of dust gets lifted up from the ground, mixing with the steam. The shrieking sound of the machine stopping resembles a quite loud dirge.

„This reminds me that I’m going to have to come back here on Saturday and send Willow away.“ I say sorrowfully.

Albus cocks his head to the side slightly, clearly confused as to why would Will travel this particular way.

„She really likes trains.“ I explain.

Al laughs and flings one hand over my shoulder, the sudden contact making me shiver. It’s been like this whole week and I’m trying to ignore it with all of my strength, but it keeps getting in my way.

Oblivious to my conflict, Albus points to the four people getting down from the train in front of us. I perk up when I notice Rose and Scorpius with a tanner skin tone and Alice and Dylan looking very much in love. My eyes drift back to Albus, naturally, in order to observe his reaction. Surprisingly, he leaves Emma and myself behind, and is one of the first people to give the couples welcoming hugs.

Emma quirks her eyebrow at me. „Am I in some sort of a parallel universe?“

„Probably.“ I mutter, frankly startled by Al’s bold approach to the girl he has loved half his life.

Alice and Albus take significantly longer to greet each other compared to the others, which makes my stomach drop to its lowest level. He places his hand on her forearm at one point to what she responds with a fond smile. With a kiss on the cheek, the two part ways.

I’m unable to look Al in the eyes at the time being, so I go to say hi to Rose and Scorpius instead.

„You two must’ve spend a lot of your time at the beach.“ I note, after embracing them.

The pair shares quick glances, after what Rose bites her lip.

„Not really. We kind of didn’t leave our room. Even for meals, we had them be brought to us.“

I frown. „Then how...“

„It’s a new charm I’ve been practising.“ Scorpius explains proudly. „It appears convincing, do you concur?“

„Our parents won’t suspect that all we did was... well, you know, right?“ Rose blushes for the first time since I’ve known her, which makes me delightfully happy.

Seriously, Rose Weasley can get flustered, as well. It’s not just silly me.

I giggle at them. „It does seem cogently, no worries.“

 

 

 

After everyone has exchanged hellos, we all start heading back to our respective homes. Al, Emma and I usually part ways when we reach a small wizarding square called Alastor Moody Square, even though most have taken to calling it Mad-Eye Square, about five minutes away from Al’s flat. It’s a place with a quite young history, built to honour the great Auror Alastor Moody. It has a statue of him in the centre of the board space and a tradition of youngsters dressed to resemble the late Auror assembling every so little to celebrate his life. Right now, though, the place is mostly empty, save for an old couple sitting by the fountain with water constantly changing its color. Steadily reaching our exact parting spot, I can’t help but be in an interrogatory mood.

„So, what did you and Alice talk about?“ I wonder.

Albus smiles, looking in front of himself, firmly avoiding our questioning gazes. „I told her I was sorry.“

„What for, Mr Nice Guy?“ Emma voices my exact thoughts.

Clearly, he was in no need to ask for forgiveness.

„For not being there when she needed me, just because she couldn’t love me back.“

The notion makes me nod to myself and then remember Rose’s remark about Emma. My heart skips a beat as I look towards her. She’s still, breathless and too quiet. I can only imagine how she feels as the words slowly set in. It’s not too long before she halts, searching for Al’s arm to stop him, as well.

„Are people supposed to apologize for loving someone?“ She wonders, her look innocent, unsure, as if that of a little girl scared to hear the answer.

„No.“ Al drops my arm now in order to put both of his palms on Emma’s face. „Never. I was apologizing for being a bad friend as a result of my love.“

 „Then... then I have to apologize, too. Because... I was so selfish when I left and I-“

He hugs her tightly, leaving me to stand awkwardly by the side.

Dear Salazar, what do I usually do with my hands?

„Oh, Merlin, I’ve wanted to tell you that for so long, ever since I came back, but I thought that if I ever brought it up, we would lose our chance at a fresh start. I’m so sorry, Albus. I am.“

The rest of it is muffled since Emma buries her head in his shirt.

„And Jill.“ She suddenly lifts her head toward me. „I have to ask you to forgive me, as well. I was scared you wouldn’t let me redeem myself properly, because you’re so much better than me. Al is lucky to have found someone like you.“

She pulls me by the shirt and now the three of us are all embracing each other in the middle of the square. I can sense two pairs of eyes on my back, the old couple surely confused by our outburst of affection.

„I’m not as good of a person as you think, Emma.“ I assure her.

„But you’re a better friend than I am.“ She persists.

„Are you certain? Because I barely have any myself.“

„Oh, shut up and just accept my eulogy already, good Godric!“

I laugh and nod, while Al continues to crush us in his arms.

For a minute, I feel the kind of quiescence that only comes from being consummately and utterly content. And I may be greedy in wishing this, but I hope it never thaws.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

As a stark contrast to the joyous moment I had with Al and Emma earlier in the week, helping Willow pack is expectedly awfully sad. It hasn’t even been a full month since she came to visit and, yet, here she is-going into the unknown again. We sit on the floor carefully Accioing all of her belongings into her trunk, one by one. When one of our pictures lands over the pile, I can’t help but pick it up with a dismal sigh. I get even more rueful upon realizing it’s our first picture taken together. It’s one of my fondest memories of Willow.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve, 2016

 

„Well, that’s it. I’m officially spending the holidays at a school. I don’t know if I should be proud as a Ravenclaw, or sad as a human being.“ Willow flopped next to me at the Slytherin table, sighing.

„Oh, come on, Hogwarts is brilliant! You shouldn’t feel badly about it.“ I beamed back in all honesty.

My staying at Hogwarts story was that dad had a slight accident at work and refused to be treated with magic, he claimed he was too tough for the easier route. However peaceful and rational my father usually was, he sometimes regressed to the level of a fifteen years old boy trying to impress a hot girl. Namely, my mother. It was sweet and embarrassing, all at once. For this reason, he had to rest all through the holidays and mum advised me to stay at school so I wouldn’t miss the festal atmosphere.

 

Well, at least this was the original explanation I got. A few years down the round I found out that dad actually had a lighter case of tuberculosis. And they didn’t want me to watch him suffer at that young age.

 

I accepted staying back with the utmost joy. I was (still) completely entranced by Hogwarts. Willow, however, didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm. It was somewhat understanding, though. While I was looking at the possibility of a modest Christmas at home, Will had just failed to grab onto the potential of celebrating it in Moscow.

„Right, it’s not too shabby, but this is Russia we’re talking about. Why did my parents have to get stuck in Paris, urgh?“

I narrowed my eyes at her for the first time that day. Which was probably a personal record. „You realize how snobbish you sound right now?“

She sighed yet again, launching onto a big piece of chicken. „It’s not really about being somewhere fancy. But just... being somewhere else, you know. I love travelling. If I could make a living out of it, I would.“

„Well, maybe you will someday.“ I smiled, relieved that my initial liking of Willow wasn’t shattered.

Just then I noticed a girl from Hufflepuff, another first year student, with a camera hanging around her long neck. I grinned to myself, an idea coming to my mind.

„And you can even go places starting now.“

Willow frowned at me, confused. „What...“

„Come with me.“ I pulled her by the sleeve and out of the Great Hall.

 

 

 

I instructed her to wait for me outside the Slytherin common room. I felt kind of bad, since it was rather cold standing out in the corridor, so I made sure I was quick.

„Oh, Merlin! It better be something good, I almost froze to death.“

„Oh, it is.“ I smirked.

I led her into an empty classroom right next to the Potions one. It had the ideal setting. The blackboard behind, the high table in front of it, the darkness. It was perfect.

I set two muggle devices on the desk, the smaller one nearer to the board. The whole time, Willow was watching me intently, quiet. It was strange for her to be this peaceful, so I contributed it to the new, unfamiliar objects that clearly fascinated her. As I adjusted everything, I called her to join me in front of the blackboard.

„What are we...“

„Look at the small camera.“ I pointed to the object in front. „And smile, wave, make faces, whatever you want.“

„That’s a camera?“ She frowned. „It’s rather strange looking.“

„Yeah, it’s because it’s more advanced than the ones in the wizarding world.“

Will scoffed. „I seriously doubt that.“

„Ok, shut up and smile!“ I realized I was a bit brassy, but I was also getting unnerved by her smart arse.

Willow sighed and the first few smiles were clearly forced. But when she realized that behind us, there was a large slide show of different locations around world, just like a real life background, she visibly became excited. After hours and hours of laughter, I shut off the devices and showed the pictures caught on camera to my new friend. The backgrounds were of cities all over the world and it appeared like we travelled them all together. In mere hours.

„Well, I have to say it, then, don’t I?“

I nodded, quite pleased with myself.

„That was... bloody brilliant!“ She exclaimed. „When can we get the pictures?“

„I’ll send the camera to my parents, so they can develop the photos. So... in a matter of days. Do you want some of them specifically or...“

„The first one.“ She almost whispered.

I went back to the awkward picture, where Willow was frowning at me and I was waving like a maniac.“

„Why that one?“ I couldn’t help but wonder.

There were clearly far better photographs in there.

„Because...“ She took a moment to smile sincerely at me. „It’s our first photo together.“

I smiled at her, as well, for the first time certain that I wouldn’t lose her.

All up until that moment, it always seemed as though Willow was a bit reluctant to befriend me. Maybe it was the fact that I was a Slytherin, or that we were coming from very different backgrounds, status and ancestry wise. Or just that I was rather, well, odd.

„Besides, it has Beijing in the backdrop and you just know I’ll live there someday.“

„I thought you wanted to live in Moscow.“

„And who said I have to limit myself to one city?“ She grinned.

 

 

 

„Who knew it would be a bit prophetical.“ Willow smiles at me observing the photo over my shoulder.

„Sadly.“ I say sincerely.

Willow rests one of her hands around my waist. „You’re always welcome to join me.“

„I guess that’s one big difference between me and you. I love to come home at the end of the day.“

„No, the difference is that my home is the whole world and yours is just this lousy apartment.“

I push her away from me on the floor to what Will laughs.

„You’re still a smart arse.“

„And you’re still weird.“

I chuckle because, here it is, the real reason Willow hesitated to become my friend. I’m glad to find out she’s not prejudgmental as I made her out to be in my 11-years old mind.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Saturday, October the fourth, is so rainy and foggy, that I find it hard to see anything in front of myself. But in a bizarre way, the weather suits me just fine. Probably because I feel as if the nature is depicting my sadness in its own marvellous, gray way.

I’m standing at the platform number eight, arm in arm with Albus Potter. Next to us there is Ash, leaning against Keyon, who expressed the desire to come out and say goodbye to Willow, as well.

„Who’s he?“ Al wants to know.

„My neighbour.“

„Her past lover.“ Willow finds it appropriate to meddle and out loud, too.

„Will!“ I hiss at her.

„Past lover?“ Albus seems dumb struck.

„I will kill you one day, Lynch, I swear!“ I growl at my (former) best friend.

She giggles. „But I’m off to see the world. Good luck with finding me.“

Just as she says this, her train starts to whiff. With her luggage already set in the right compartment, Willow runs from one to the other person of the small group sending her away, gives everyone a peck on the cheek and climbs onto the train. Seconds later, as the machine is beginning to move, she pops up at one of the windows. Pushing it down, she sticks her head of unruly brown hair out, grinning.

„Call me when you announce the wedding! I want to be your maid of honour!“

And before anyone can question her about who exactly she is referring to, the train vanishes from our sight.

„Well... that was weird.“ Key breaks the silence.

He then turns to Albus, extending his palm. „By the way, I’m Keyon Eggo, the neighbour of these two lovely ladies. And, yes, Jill’s ex.“

I smack him on the head with my wand angrily. „We’ve barely kissed twice.“

Al observes his hand with a frown for several moments before accepting it. „Albus Potter, nice to meet you.“

„I thought you looked familiar.“ Key laughs.

Albus doesn’t seem annoyed, though. „You look familiar, as well.“

„He’s from Dragon Puffs.“ Ash supplies. „You know, the rock band.“

Albus chuckles to himself upon hearing this new piece of information.

„What is it?“ I wonder.

„Nothing, I just... I have a weird connection to one of their songs... Don’t mind me.“

Ash and Keyon chat a little more with us before they apparate to some cafe in Muggle London, Rouge or something to that effect.

Which leaves me alone with Albus, after days.

I like Emma, honestly, I do, but I miss hanging out with Al, just the two of us.

He looks in front of himself, his hands resting on his back. His posture is quite proper, too constricted to seem natural. It’s clear that his thoughts are wandering about, before he speaks up.

„I’m ready, Ty.“

I look up to his firm face, determination written all over it.

„What for?“ I whisper, almost afraid of what he’s about to say.

Al turns to me slowly, the most warm smile, he’s ever given me, gracing his full lips. And suddenly, all the tension is gone.

He appears utterly happy and resolved when he declares the following. „To move on.“

 








 

A/N: This is a bit of a filler chapter, but it has one crucial development in it-Al’s determination to finally move on. And also-Tatum is starting to realize that her feelings toward Al are developing in unexpected ways. As a result, you should be prepared for a slight change of pace in the following chapters. ;)

 

 


Chapter 12: The Green-Eyed Monster
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Disclaimer: HP-not mine, duh.

A/N: As a thank you for your support and because I finally have more time on my hands, here's a new chapter already! I hope you enjoy it. I quite like it myself. I hope that doesn't make me sound too cocky. :D

 




The Green-Eyed Monster

 

 

 

The thirteenth of October, 2028, Today

 

Mrs Potter and I are on our way to a match that will surely be exciting. After winning against their former opponents,  Tutshill Tornados and Ballycastle Bats are set to compete against each other. This provides us with yet another opportunity to visit the village of Tutshill, which I embrace, seeing how I’ve taken a liking to the said city.

The game in itself proves to be the most dramatic one I’ve witnessed yet. Plus, James is falling into a Quidditch ensued trance right next to me. He caught word of our trip this morning and insisted on being a special companion of ours. Needless to say, he’s only making our work harder.

 

Well, at least the weather is remotely nice.

 

„Thomas is racing for the Bats’ Keeper, Sophie Ashbee! He swings and... and... oh, bad luck for the Tornados! The Quaffle is blocked. But, a fantastic move on Ashbee’s side! She’s keeping the score even!“ The commentator tries very hard not to sound biassed, although it sometimes slips through that he’s quite the Tornado fan.

„The score has been even for twenty minutes now! I can’t take this!“ James munches on Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. I try to warn him that it’s not a very good idea, considering the fact that he can bite into a disgusting one at any moment.

But the warning doesn’t come soon enough.

„Urgh! Vomit! Vomit!“ James spits the candy out, his forehead creasing in horror.

I can’t help but giggle at his frowning features.

„Jillian, the game.“ Mrs Potter warns me not to let James distract me and I turn around, blushing in slight embarrassment.

I need to stay focused. Why does James have to be so loud and how does Mrs Ginny keep ignoring him so effortlessly? Probably because she has years of practise.

„Killian Wright is heading for the hoops! He’s in full speed aaaand... He scores! It’s 120 for the Bats against the 110 points of Tornados!“

„This can literally take a whole day, can it?“ I mutter, suddenly realizing that neither of the Seekers is nowhere near finding the Snitch.

„I hope so!“ James beams.

While I do love a good Quidditch match, what’s enough is enough.

As if hearing my thoughts, Tarah Attri starts soaring into the sky at a dangerous speed. Tornados’ Seeker Zackary Bolton takes note and goes after her into the clouds. They’re up so high that the white nebula mess hides them away from the viewers completely. Suddenly, Zackary is flying down, the small golden object escaping him just slightly. He extends his arm even more and, finally, his fingers clasp around the fluttering ball. But then, he loses control over his broom and falls flatly onto the ground.

The crowd instantly goes wild. The commentator announces the win and everyone runs to the field to see if the Ballycastle’s Seeker is all right.

Thankfully, Bolton picks his head up with a groan. „I think I just broke my... everything.“

The crowd laughs and someone helps him stand up on his legs, the Snitch still shining in his palm. With a bit of a limp, Zackary hoists it into the air and that’s when I snap a picture of the thrilling moment.

 

 

 

„That was unbelievably intense!“ I exclaim later on, while we’re eating in a small dinner of a rather retro style.

„You haven’t experienced an i of intense!“ James protests.

„Oh, really?“ I shoot him a cocky smile.

„Yes, really. Try being a part of something like that instead of just observing.“

My smile falters a little.

„James, don’t be rude.“ His mother scolds him.

„I’m not rude, just honest.“

The woman sighs, clearly irritated. But we proceed to eat and then later on walk through the village in relative peace. Until Mrs Ginny walks into a restaurant to use the loo and James and I are left alone, that is.

„It still hurts, doesn’t it?“

He turns to the sound of my voice, a knowing look on his face. „I don’t think it’ll ever stop.“

„Then why do you insist on coming to the matches?“ I wonder.

„Because... even though it pains me, the love I have for Quidditch is stronger than the regret over not being able to play it myself.“ He puts his hands in his pockets, swinging lightly on his heels.

I grin a little to myself. „Albus is not the only peculiar one in your family, I see.“

„No. But he’s still the weirder one.“ James smirks.

„Well, I like that about him.“ I cross my arms, as if to stand in Al’s defence.

„You don’t say.“ He raises his eyebrows and I realize that, after who knows how much time, James is being sarcastic.

I didn’t even know he had it in him, to be frank.

 „But that’s not all you like about him, is it?“ He throws me one poignant look before his mother returns and we resume to walking.

I try to catch him alone again so that I can protest against his claim that I fancy his brother, but the opportunity never comes around.

We return to London in half an hour, exhausted. Mrs Potter leaves early, taking James with her and now I’m sitting in my office, alone once again. Lately, being alone hasn’t resulted in good things for me. I’ve been overcome by a muffin-eating rage, I’ve gone to my psychologist at five in the morning and I’ve laid on the roof, surrounded by magazines with articles about Albus Potter. Of course, every craziness is somehow linked to him. Not that I wasn’t insane already, but, is it just me, or does Al bring out the most loony side of myself? It’s clear that I’ve got a problem. The Potter Problem, to be exact.

As I dwell on this, I don’t even notice that my tea, brought to me by a young new intern, is of a deep crimson color. But when I do notice, which is of course too late, all I can think of is how this is all Albus’ fault.

 

 

 

It’s not too long before I’m at St. Mungo’s and faced with Al’s laughing eyes.

„I can’t believe this is happening again.“ I moan.

He tries real hard not to chuckle. As a result his voice sounds broken and high pitched. „Well, there is this theory that the universe is going in circles...“

I frown. „Cut the crap and give me that awful potion.“

He hands me the cup, grinning. I, on the other hand, drink it with a shudder.

Ugh, why does medicine have to be so disgusting? Why can’t it taste like Ash’s muffins? Then I wouldn’t mind getting an allergic reaction every day.

Plus, you’d be treated by Al.

Shut up, brain!

I hand him the cup back, a sore smile loosely attached to my lips.

„Are we still going to that concert?“ I ask, remembering the said issue all of a sudden.

Namely, Keyon has given the four of us, Al, Ash, Emma and myself, tickets to a Dragon Puffs concert. A little surprising, Ash has been the one that’s the most excited to go among us.

„I’ve actually been meaning to ask you something on that topic.“ Al sits slowly by my side, the sheets beneath him rumpling slightly.

„What?“

„Can you ask Keyon to get another ticket for me?“ He smiles at me, all earnest.

„Sure.“ I shrug, but then wince. „Unless it’s for Louis. He’s been practically stalking me ever since the underwear incident.“

Albus chuckles and the sound makes me giddy, as well. „No. It’s for Sienna Phan, my colleague and... well, potential date. She will be if you... you know, get me the ticket.“

My heart stops beating for a moment and a deep breath is stuck inside my throat. I soon release it, but don’t feel any less like I’m choking.

„Oh... ok.“ I utter, my voice barely over a whisper.

„Thank you!“ Albus embraces me and I... Don’t want him to ever let me go.

Stop it, you crazy brain, you!

„It’s going to be so much fun! Sienna is lovely, you’ll see. Works at Emma’s hospital so we’re not even breaking any rules.“ He laughs.

Yeah, you are, the rule of friendship that requires best friends not to date presumably hot Healer girls. Not even if they’re as brilliant as Emma turned out to be.

Ok, this is ridiculous. I have to get a grip here and face the truth. Why am I jealous every time another girl wants to come near Albus? Well, not counting Mary and Sage, because... to be honest, deep down I knew beforehand that wouldn’t work out. Is that right there the cause? I’m afraid this time it might actually work?

„Now, off you go! I’ll come around to get the ticket after work and then we’ll meet at the concert Saturday night.“

„But...“ I mope. „That means we won’t see each other for five days.“

„Oh Merlin, how will we ever survive?“ Albus mocks me in a rather sarcastic tone.

Even though I usually enjoy it so much, now it’s just making me slightly angry. I even swat his palm away, when he tries to pinch my cheek teasingly.

I watch him return to brewing potions then, his precise movements, his straight posture, that thick black hair surely getting in his green eyes... Why is it that I’m just now noticing how bloody gorgeous he is? I mean, in a purely aesthetic way. Friends can find other friends fit, there’s no harm in that, right?

I get ready and near him to give him a brief kiss on the cheek. But even that action leaves me slightly breathless, unlike so many times before.

Albus, completely oblivious, smiles and nods at me. „See you around.“

My heart breaks just a little. „Yeah, see you around.“

Because that is just a gentle way of saying-hey, I’m about to seduce a girl into being my girlfriend and I won’t have time for you anymore, sorry.

Damn it, why did he have to decide to move on so fast?!

Ok, I’m not being fair. He’s been pining after the same girl for the better half of his life. It’s time.

Still... why does it have to be with Sienna Phan of all people? Not that I even know who she is, but she sounds dreadful, anyway.

...Yup, I’m officially mental.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Saturday is coming around too slowly without seeing Al, so I’m realizing just how much my life has been enriched by his presence.

And it appears I can’t do anything without remembering an anecdote or two of ours. Like, say, I would eat and my kitchen disaster at his flat would immediately spring to mind. By kitchen disaster I mean the last time I was there and managed to somehow burn a cloth, even though it was magically set to be fire resistant. I told Al that he probably didn’t charm it well, while he argued that I was just a freak of nature who could wreck even things that seem completely uncompromizing. Or I’d be off to bed and I’d remember that one time I fell asleep on his couch while we watched WiTV. I woke up in the morning with a sweet note and a rich breakfast on a plate next to me. In moments like those, I wondered if we did appear a bit too couply to bystanders.

In order to not get caught up (too much) in the mess that are my thoughts, I’ve taken it upon myself to hang out with Key, Ash and Emma in the meantime. Emma is usually always so busy that I have to meet her briefly and mostly at her hospital (Wow, she owns a hospital. That will never stop being impressive.). So, basically, she still hasn’t met the first two. I, on the other hand, have indeed met Sienna Phan. Well, not formally. I’ve seen her from afar. And, damn it, she’s quite felicitous with her pale skin, straight black hair and dark eyes, the ones Albus has admitted to liking the most. I’d say she’s of mixed roots, appearing slightly Eurasian. Her surname points to that being a fact, as well. In short, she thoroughly looks the part of a dream girl.

„Did you miss him?“

„Sorry?“ Emma picks her head up from some papers she’s signing, a confused expression on her dark features.

„When you were away. Did you miss Al?“ I ask her again, but my look is wandering around, stopping on the girl from across Emma’s office-Phan, to be exact.

She’s currently writing something, as well. A letter to her parents maybe. They live in Ireland. The things you learn from stalking people are fascinating.

„Well, yes. At the beginning, I did.“ I look over to Emma, who’s watching me gaze at the girl from across the hall.

„What happened later on?“

She shrugs. „Time, I guess. Separation. It all contributed to my independence. I didn’t stop caring. I just stopped... hinging on him.“

I quirk my head to the side slightly. „I’m currently having an issue with that. With... detachment. And how to deal with it.“

Emma smiles with a very significant look directed at me. „Sometimes that isn’t possible.“

„But you managed to surpass it.“ I insist.

„It’s because I had no other choice.“

„Well, I don’t have either.“

She smirks at me playfully. „Are you sure?“

Before I can answer, who should peek into the office but Sienna Phan. My insides immediately respond by twisting in an unpleasant manner. You know, like when you really want to slap someone but don’t because you’re not sure if (s)he is secretly a karate savvy. That kind of unpleasant.

„Hey, boss.“ The girl chirps happily. „Just want to say goodbye. I’m done for today.“

„Sienna, come in for a second, please. I’d like you to meet someone.“ Emma urges her to step inside instead.

I glare at her, but Emma effortlessly ignores me.

„This is Tatum Jillian Kenward. I call her TaKen, because I’m awesome. But for everyone else, it’s Jill.“

I roll my eyes at her, as I accept Sienna’s palm. Her squeeze is gentle and soft, so unlike her boss’. I smile to myself as I recall the first time Emma shook my hand. I thought it would fall of from the strength of her handshake. What a difference a little time can make. At the beginning I feared Emma, but now... well, that same envious feeling is directed at Phan.

„Sienna Phan. Nice to meet you.“ The girl smiles warmly.

Merlin, she’s so proper and so... so... annoyingly perfect!

„We’ll all be going to the concert together. Isn’t that great?!“ Emma clasps her hands in a little over accentuated joy.

I narrow my eyes at her, but she just smirks.

„Oh, that’s right. You’re Albus’ best friend.“ Sienna continues to smile at me sweetly.

I turn to Emma, slightly surprised, because... isn’t she his best friend? Besides, they’ve known each other for years. Al and I? Not even for a month and a half. Emma nods her head at me, eyebrows raised prominently. As if to point out that she’s right, on what account exactly-I’m not quite sure.

„I guess... I am.“ I answer awkwardly.

„He talks about you all the time.“ The Healer grins. „I look forward to us spending more time together.“

„Yes, that will be splendid.“ I conclude grimly, but, thankfully, Sienna is much like James in that sarcasm mostly goes unnoticed by her.

„Well... I’ll be off now.“ I utter awkwardly and basically run away, without giving Sienna the chance to engage further into the conversation.

Not before giving Emma an I hate you look, though. She responds with the brightest grin possible. Maybe Rose is right-I shouldn’t fraternize with the enemy, because clearly Emma secretly detests me.

Ok, who am I joking? I’m too lovable to be detested by anyone.

Yup, think happy thoughts, Jill, happy thoughts! Even if they’re forced.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

The day of the concert has finally arrived and I have the jitters. For no apparent reason. Because I’m just weird.

No, ok, I can’t convince myself that there’s no reason. Deep down, I’m quite aware of it. I’m a Slytherin, after all, I ought to be smart... to a degree. But that doesn’t mean I’m about to say it out loud.

Unlike Ash, who’s been mumbling loudly for the past two hours.

„Will you calm down, it’s only a concert?“ I try to concentrate on my hair, experimenting with different spells to accomplish the same effect Willow and Ash did so many times before.

I have to do it by myself, because, as is evident from the current situation, my room mate is not in her right mind and cannot be of any assistance.

„Cam down? CALM DOWN?!“ She shrieks at me. „You expect me to calm down?!“

„Er... well, maybe.“ I say meekly, not so sure anymore.

„You don’t understand, Jill. I’m going to die. I really am.“ She slumps down onto the couch and grabs one of her muffins, stuffing it in her mouth.

Hm, she must be really distressed, since Ash rarely eats her own sweets. She doesn’t think they’re good enough, which is absurd, I can attest.

I crouch down next to her face, observing her nervous eyes. „I’m missing something here, aren’t I?“

She turns shyly to me, her bright look settling down on my dark one.

„He’s going to be their pre-group. He and his band.“

„Who?“ I ask in confusion.

Ash bites her lip so desperately, that it’s clear she can’t utter a single word more that she has already. But it’s not necessary, because I finally get it.

„The only good guy you ever fancied? Felix Chadwick? He’s a musician, too?“

She nods, finally getting her voice back. „I told you he went of into the world. He was actually trying to find success abroad first, since he loves to travel. And now that he has, he’s returned to Britain to seek affirmation here, in his homeland.“

That’s why you’ve been as excited as I’ve ever seen you these past few days.“

„Oh come on, I’ve been excited before.“ She argues.

„You’re on a verge of turning into a robot, so no.“ I smirk.

Taking advantage of her position right next to me, Ash slaps me across the face.

„Hey!“

But mere seconds after, she hugs me tightly. „I can’t screw this up. Please, don’t let me screw this up.“

I press my palm to her silky hair and smile. „You won’t.“

She smiles back, clearly grateful for the support. With her stern facade, I sometimes forget how fragile Ash is, behind it all.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

The hustle hits me from all directions. People are screaming, pushing, laughing. It’s somewhat scary. But the scenery is lovely, I have to admit. Namely, the concert is taking place outside, in a spacious meadow, surrounded by tall shifty willows, caressing the ground gently. The grass is soft while it tickles my bare feet (Well, it is an unusually hot October night.), its color an intense green shade. It reminds me of one particular emerald pair... that’s getting lost in those dark eyes of Phan’s beneath the starry sky. He’s clearly entranced by her, squeezing her hand, making her laugh, that satisfied smile gracing his lips, glasses always slipping down his nose slightly.

He looks... so happy. I just wish I could be, too. If nothing, but to show my support.

Emma surprises me, though, because she doesn’t pay much attention to the pair, but is instead smitten by the whole event.

„I’ve never been mixed with the crowd at a concert before.“ She grins, practically jumping in her spot between a bare-chested guy and a forty-something fit Latina lady.

„Let me guess, you always got the VIP treatment.“ I smirk.

„I can’t help it that I’m rich.“ She uses her trademark sentence again, earning a general eye roll from the whole gang.

„You can at least tone it down.“ Ash remarks off hand, standing up on her toes to catch sight of the stage. „Why are we so far off, anyway?“

„I’m a little scared of the crowd.“ Sienna dares to confess, to what Ash just sighs.

If I had noted such a thing, she would’ve ripped my head off! But I digress.

„Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.“ Al presses his forehead onto her temple, to what she smiles and turns to catch a quick kiss from his lips.

As on cue, an unpleasant feeling starts to burn in my stomach.

Ok, Jill, calm down.

You think it’s that simple?

Um, yeah, I do!

Think again!

I frown as the pair continues to snog as if they’ll never see each other again.

You wouldn’t protest against that now, would you?

Shut up, brain! I’m trying to think!

Um, hello, you can’t do that without me. Duh.

Well, whatever... Just let me be a good friend and tone it down with the jealousy, will you?!

Do you hear yourself, Jillian? You can’t be a good friend if you’re jealous. Actually, you can’t be a friend at all.

I sneak a quick glance at the pair, but mainly Al’s blissful face, the moonlight reflected in his light eyes behind those large glasses. And that jet black hair, falling over his forehead, so out of order, so...

„It’s about to start!“ Ash nudges me in the ribs and I turn to the stage quickly, hoping no one has noticed that I’ve been daydreaming about my friend who’s out on a date with another girl.

Please, do tell me if it’s possible to be more together than I am right now.

Snort.

The lights in front get dimmer and suddenly dozens of floating screens appear above and around us-all showing the stage and every movement on it. The crowd cheers and a loud sound erupts. Fireworks dance in the sky changing their shapes and spelling out one sentence-Enjoy The Music! In the darkness in front, four people emerge and Ash instantly grabs my hand.

„Which one?“

„The guitar player.“ She almost whispers.

My eyes land on a tall, lean figure, carrying the said instrument in his hands. Clad in skinny jeans and a black shirt, he follows the guy who’s the singer of the band and two girls, their bass and drum players. As he’s too far off, I look to my right, catching his appearance far clearer in the floating screen. He has dark skin, black curly hair cut short to his head and unusual eyes that seem to constantly change their shade, from green to golden.

„He’s gorgeous.“ I note.

„Hands off.“ She smirks at me and I laugh, nodding my head in obedience.

The singer puts his wand to his neck and greets us with his loud, melodic voice. „Hello, darlings! Are we going to have some fun tonight or.. are we going to have an absolute blast?!“

The crowd cheers in response.

„That didn’t even make sense.“ I say, to what Albus chuckles.

I turn to him, amused and slightly proud that I succeeded to catch his attention, even though he’s on a date with another girl.

„Shut up, Miss I don’t believe in Unicorns.“ Ash retorts.

„Well, I do still have to see one in flesh.“ I cross my arms, not ready to be made fun of.

„As much as I love hearing you fight, I think we came here to listen to music.“ Emma supplies.

„Or, in Ash’s case, to ogle the guitar player.“

My roomy immediately points her wand at me, which causes my voice to... well, disappear. I try to speak up again, but the only thing that comes out is the gusty air.

„It’ll wear off by the time the concert ends.“

I glare at her irefully. Ash just smiles and turns to the stage cheerfully.

„For what it’s worth, I miss your voice already.“ Albus says behind me.

I veer to him and give him a grateful look, to what he responds with a warm smile.

Merlin, he has to stop being so... lovable! And snoggable. I mean, I can’t help but notice how much Phan seems to enjoy his plump lips. She makes it look like it’s the best thing in the world! I do wonder if...

The music suddenly starts, cutting my train of thoughts, and the crowd goes even wilder. On several occasions I get hit by the people jumping next to me. At one point, a guy even collapses on top of me. His dark eyes survey my whole body before he jumps to his feet. His figure comes into full view then and I seem to be rather willing to forgive him for knocking me down.

„I’m sorry, love. I think my mates slipped something in my butterbeer earlier.“

My stomach can’t help but leap in triumph over his use of the word love, even though he’s clearly waisted. Hey, the guy’s insanely attractive. Forget Louis Weasley, this one’s the poster man for perfection.

„Is he bothering you?“ Suddenly, I feel Al’s protective arm on my shoulder and observe his light eyes turn far darker.

„Is he your boyfriend, love?“ The guy asks me, a fairly disappointed look on his sharp features.

I try to say no, but then remember, highly angered, that I’ve completely lost my voice, property of one Ash Goldwyn.

„Yes.“

I turn to Albus, startled by his confident affirmation.

„Is it true?“ The guy slurs in my direction. „Because I say... you’re awfully cute.“

Suddenly, Al reaches over and gives me a full blown kiss, to what all of our friends stare in confusion. Not to mention Sienna.

Albus then stops just to give the guy a vicious glare. „You were saying?“

The young man puts his hands up in a surrender fashion and marshes off, tripping over his own feet in the process.

Al waits for him to disappear completely before leaning down to observe me with care. „Are you ok?“

I nod, completely frozen and, even if I was able to, I’m certain I could not produce any words.

„I know we said no physical acts are allowed between us, but that’s the first thing that popped into my mind in order to get him to leave.“ He looks at me all earnest. „I hope you don’t mind it that much.“

Not at all, I want to say, but since I can’t, I just shake my head, still completely dazed.

Al smiles at me and then goes straight back to Sienna, mumbling something in her ear, probably explanations as to why he has done what he has just done. To defend my honour, he’ll probably say. Not-to finally kiss the girl I truly fancy. That’s something I can only imagine to myself.

Ending yet another one of my daydreams, Emma suddenly pulls me to the side, slightly away from Albus, Sienna and Ash, a worried expression on her face.

„Ok, I’ve been teasing you about Albus lately, because I found it cute. But now I see that I was wrong. You don’t just find him fit... You’re in love with him, aren’t you?“

I shake my head, but I conclude that my look must’ve given my away, because Emma doesn’t appear to believe me.

 „Look, Jill, I have come to like you, in spite of myself. Because, believe me, I wanted to hate you.“

I frown at her. So Rose was right all along.

„Don’t... listen to me, please, don’t do that. Don’t fall for him first. Albus is the type of guy who likes a challenge. I mean, why else would he persist on being in love with Alice for so long? I see that he cares for you, probably more than for anyone else in his life, me included, even if it pains me to admit it... It’s true. But if you show him that you like him more than just a mate before he does... If you two start a romantic relationship on your insistence... It’ll fall apart. Trust me. I know.“

My heart suddenly sinks, remembering the headlines in the newspapers upon Emma’s return. I cast a questioning look at her and she seems to read it quite well.

„Yes, we were an item for awhile.“ She nods slowly, biting her lip. „But it couldn’t work because I pushed him into making a step he wasn’t ready for. If... if you want to have him fall for you... just... wait. Or you’ll destroy everything.“

She gives me a long, meaningful look before storming off back to Ash. I am left standing there, in the middle of the crowd, unable to move. And thinking...

 

 

 

What the bloody hell have I gotten myself into?

Not only do I appear to be developing a feeling of the love sort, but it’s happening with a Potter! Need I remind you of my turbulent past with them? No, because I’ve done that enough already. But since I’ve come to terms with the fact that what I was feeling for James wasn’t truly love, I’ll let you know what happens when it actually is.

 

 

 

The twenty second of November, 2027

 

I was leaning onto a railing, letting the snow fall down on my frizzy hair lazily. It was rather cold, but it was as if I couldn’t feel the winter grabbing at me, pulling me into its icy embrace. And I was quite aware of the reason.

I couldn’t feel anything.

Anything but the glaring void inside of me, that is.

„Hey.“

I turned around to see Ava, my cigarette addicted colleague, joining me at the terrace.

I nodded my head and even that felt like a too much of an effort. I was so tired. So, so tired...

„Maybe it’s better like this.“ Ava muttered into the cold wind, avoiding my hollow gaze.

I’d been told that it’s hard to look at-it’s that dark and devoid of hope.

„Maybe.“ I finally managed to retort, albeit with difficulty, which led my voice to break.

Ava finally picked up the courage to gaze at me. All she saw was a shell of the ambitious girl I once was. The girl that claimed she’d work with Ginny Weasley and follow all of the most exciting Quidditch matches in flesh and not just by reading about it in the Daily Prophet. Because, the girl promised she’d become the most esteemed writer of the Prophet stuff one day.

And now... that girl was barely able to grip at the railing in front of her.

Ava surprised me when she suddenly squeezed one of my hands and smiled, well... sort of, anyway. She wasn’t one for pleasant behaviour or chats.

„Soon, all of this will be behind you. You won’t even remember Aidan in a couple of months, because... you’ll be out of here. In Daily Prophet, getting that interview with Oliver Wood you so desire.“ She stopped only to smirk a little, as if it still amused her how much I wanted to speak with that man. „I’ve always seen it inside you, the potential for greatness. I guess that’s why I’ve mostly been awful toward you. I envy your talent.“

I was honestly taken aback. Ava and I had always been the worst journalistic pair and I never figured why our boss insisted on sending us together with Marc for each and every story out there. So, to hear her speak like this, it was truly shocking.

But I guessed she wasn’t blind to my pain, either, and decided she should give me a break. Everyone else seemed to, anyway. Because, they knew... they could see how much it ached me.

Aidan and I... it was a complicated story of denial, misunderstanding and hurt. Denial-because we never admitted to being a couple, even if everyone could see us holding hands and stealing kisses at work. Misunderstanding, because I thought he had an official girlfriend he was hiding from me, when his cousin came to visit, all tall and blond and perfect. I got insanely jealous as a result and, third, hurt-because I felt as though he had betrayed me. But... we never agreed that we were together... so, did I have the right to behave so? Aidan thought I didn’t. He didn’t wrong me, essentially, but he never felt so intensely as I did in our odd... arrangement. So he felt that I needed space to get over the whole mess and did a quite honourable thing.

He left.

Which brings me to today. Because, today I got promoted and our boss threw a small celebration party in my honour and... in spite of myself, I sent Aidan an invitation.

As evident, he firmly refused to come.

I guess I got what I deserved, what with everything I made Keyon go through two years prior. Aidan left me the same way I left Key. And the circle was complete.

 

The knowledge that I could finally move on didn’t prevent me from going slightly crazy afterwards, case in point-dying my hair lime green, sporting a Mohawk at some point, having a one night stand with a girl (Don’t ask... ever.), waking up in Berlin one morning with no recollection of how I got there and, eventually, going into an interview at the Daily Prophet. I only list the last item as crazy because, if I was my usual self, it probably would have taken me several more years before doing such a thing.

 

 

 

Basically, in love... I go bonkers. More so than usually.

 

 

 

So, you see why now? Why I can’t be trusted with love?

This nonsense needs to end and it needs to end now!

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

After the concert is over and Emma, Al and Sienna have gone their ways, Ash and I set out to see Keyon backstage. He has promised to arrange a meeting of sorts, for my friend and Felix Chadwick. Apparently, Key and Felix go a long way back, so he isn’t likely to refuse the offer.

Is this what Ash meant by never knowing how associating with a rock star can benefit you? That little minx! I bet that she immediately seized her opportunity the moment I led Keyon into our apartment for the first time.

He lets us in his room, a small space but luxuriously arranged. I instantly take a look at the mirror, which seems to answer back at you in colorful insults.

„What...“

„Oh, aren’t you a know-it-all? Can you, please, shut the bloody hell up and leave me to enjoy myself in piece.“ The mirror scoffs at me.

I turn to Keyon in horror. He laughs at my bemused face.

„I got it as a gift from an ex girlfriend. In the letter that came with the gift, she said she finally found a way to express her feelings toward me after our break up.“

Ash giggles in the corner, but that could be from her nerves, as well.

„Why would you keep it, then?“ I wonder.

„As a constant reminder for me to be a better person.“ He admits, shrugging. „Plus, it’s hilarious.“

I observe him intently. As a reminder to be a better person... It’s such a positive take on something horrible from his past. I guess I have to look at him the same way-not as a reminder of how bad a person I was, but as a solace to be better in the future.

„Well, I don’t want to sound rude, but... when is Felix coming over?“ Ash utters, twisting her dark lock with force.

Keyon smiles at her and, after his eyes drift to the entrance briefly, he nods his head toward it. It takes Ash a few seconds before she veers to spot the tall, dark man standing at the door. I glance at him, as well, noting that he appears even more handsome so close up. Ash stands up and I can literally see her knees trembling. She takes a few steps towards the door, unsure. The whole time, Felix doesn’t move or even flinch. It’s only when Ash gets so close to be able to put a hand on his cheek, that he closes his eyes and melts into her touch.

„I’m sorry.“ He whispers.

„No, I am.“ Ash chokes through tears.

And before another word is uttered, the two fall into each other’s arms.

„I think we should go now.“ Keyon pulls me by the sleeve.

I nod and follow him out.

When we’re far enough and by ourselves, I can’t help but wonder. „How is it so easy for them?“

„Well, I’m not completely in on the whole story, but according to Felix, it wasn’t exactly easy.“ Key shrugs.

I sigh, nodding. „I guess you’re right. They do have a long history. But, I mean, how did they get over it? How did they come to this point of just... letting everything go and... leaping into it?“

„I’m not an expert on love...“ Keyon smiles at me to what I roll my eyes. „But I’d say that... sometimes... every silly obstacle stops to matter, because you realize that life is, indeed, too short.“

„Great, so I have to wait for his grandfather to die or something.“ I mutter to myself.

„What?“ Key frowns.

„Nothing!“ I perk up and pat his back cheerfully. „Thanks for doing this for Ash! As they say-how can I ever repay you?“

„Well, as a matter of fact...“ Keyon smirks and an unpleasant feeling creeps up on me.

I have a suspicion I won’t like this.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Well, it turns out it’s the opposite. Because, get this-Keyon has seen Emma briefly in the passing before she left for her flat and... he seems to find her hauntingly beautiful. And who am I to stand in the way of a possible romance?

Ok, truthfully, I’m just hoping Emma returns his sentiments so that I don’t have to worry over her gloomy presence in Al’s life in a romantic sense ever again.

Wow, I’m feeling those Slytherin genes over-coming me again.

Finally!

This love nonsense has made me weak. And I can’t allow it! From now on, I will listen to my mind, even if it is a slightly weird place. It’s better than listening to my flimsy heart, anyway. Because I ought not, I repeat, NOT let Albus Potter ruin my life, even though I can’t deny that he has taken over it completely.

So... if I can’t get him out of my head, I’ll get him into my bed (Well, ok, it’s probably going be his bed, because I have a room mate and that would just be awfully awkward.) and, consequently, out of my system. I don’t care that he has Phan now (I refuse to label her as his girlfriend. That would just be absurd.).

I’m a God damn Slytherin and it’s bloody time I behave like one! 

 





A/N: Dun, dun! Tatum is in her Slytherin mode again. Expect hilarity in the following chapters as a result. :D

 
 


Chapter 13: The Flirting Escapades Of Jillian Kenward Part One
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Disclaimer: Not mine.

Warning: This chapter contains a lot of Tatum's natural craziness. And a sensitive topic. So if you are not up for funny and outrageous mixed with sad parts, you should skip this one.

Also, the chapter is filled with sexual innuendos and what not. But since it's called the way it's called, I think you guessed that on your own. :)









The Flirting Escapades Of Jillian Kenward Part I

 

So, it’s four in the morning, October the twenty eight, and after fifteen days of intense thinking, I’ve finally composed the final list of Best flirting techniques with Albus Potter for all occasions.

 

Number one: Look into his eyes. Not in a creepy manner like Louis Weasley does-Salazar, is he annoying or what, but in a very, very sexy one, to the point of making him squirm.

 

Number two: Make skin contact. Again, not in a creepy, molesting manner (I’m looking at you again, Louis!), but in a sweet, seductive, (falsely) innocent one.

 

Number three: Speak in a low, silky tone. The one that could cure cancer, if voices were given such a power. Or the one that will turn him on so profoundly, he’ll have no option but to throw you on your bed. No, his bed, because you have a room mate and she probably wouldn’t approve of your antics. Even though Will did catch her doing a similarly unsettling deed in the apartment that one time, of which’s nature they still refuse to inform you. So, yeah, maybe you should do it in the flat, just for good measure and revenge! Anyway... where was I? Ah, yes!

 

Number four: Use the things that he loves against him. For example, vanilla ice cream. Al adores it. So, make sure to be eating it at all times possible. And by eating I mean licking it in a highly suggestive way, with side moans as a bonus! If this doesn’t make him want to rip your clothes off, well, then... he’s secretly gay.

 

Number five: As a continuation of the above technique, speak in a highly suggestive way. Anything can be traced back to sex. For example, say, he notes that he enjoys the night sky and its stars, because he does, Al is such a romantic, bless him. You can retort in the following fashion. Oh, you know what I enjoy that is usually done at night and makes you see stars, if performed rightly? See, everything, and I don’t say that lightly, everything can be sexually suggestive.

 

Number six: Do those little things for him that no other person is aware of he enjoys, because he’s mainly embarrassed about them. Like, say, buy him patchy socks. The patchier, the better! Or play Ford Bubbles for him. He knows he wants to listen to those ridiculous songs! This way, he’ll remember that he can be silly and relaxed in your presence, not ashamed of anything-and by that I mean not ashamed of ravishing you in your-HIS bed.

 

Number seven: Let him do things for you. Case in point, let him finally teach you how to cook, as he promised he would, anyway. This will provide for more close proximity between the two of you and if food is not a natural aphrodisiac, I don’t know what is! Plus, guys like helping a lady out, because that usually sets them up for receiving a favour in return and you know what that is most of the time. Wink, wink.

 

Number eight: Dress to impress. But not like you’re going into an interview. Lose the professional, tame look. Make it spicy! If you insist on the work thing, though, choose a shorter skirt/tighter pants and undo some of the buttons on your shirt. Tight is right! Short is hot! Remember it. Repeat it. Live it.

 

Number nine: Learn German, even if it’s just a few words. Apparently, Albus Potter has a recurring dream of a German girl yelling at him in that slightly stiff, strict language (Well, that’s how it appears to my ears, anyway.). I guess that’s the main reason he finds it hot. The girl seems angry and too proper, but when over taken by his passion toward her Al jumps her the two engage in... well, you get the drift. So, learn German and then yell something at him. He’ll surely snog the living daylight out of you (And do other naughty, naughty things.).

 

Number ten: Which brings me to the ultimate weapon. If all of these above things don’t work out, this one is fail proofed. Tell him that you hate him. Let him do something stupid and tell him those exact words. I. Hate. You. Once, while sleepy, Albus told me, not consciously, of course, this is, after all, rather embarrassing for him, that angry girls are a weak spot of his. And not just angry, but furious and downright out of their minds with rage. The more you reject him, the more he’ll want you. Cliches are, after all, cliches for a reason.

 

That’s all, my little tormented soul. I wish you luck. I hope you shag Albus Potter and are, afterwards, able to move on from this love nonsense. Because you’re rubbish at love. You can barely manage being a decent friend. A girlfriend would be an unrealistic expectation on your part.

It’s just one shag, anyway. Al is a guy, so there shouldn’t be problems concerning him. And, after all, he’s ditched Phan, which is a plus. Yes, it merely happened yesterday, but who cares. The guy probably hasn’t had sex since Emma... er, ok, never think of that again. Ever! Where was I? Ah, yes! Al hasn’t had sex since... forever (I doubt he did it with Phan, because he told me there has to be an emotional connection -snort- and the two were together for barely two weeks. There wasn’t a connection of any kind, besides both of them being Healers. Because I know Al likes to give chances, no mater how slim they are-except to Mary the vegetarian, but that’s understandable-and if he dumped Phan after two weeks only that truly means something.), so I’m fairly certain he’ll be up for it. As for the emotional connection issue... well, you’ll just have to persuade him to forget about the stupid thing that is love for a second and simply... do it!

Because you ought to, I repeat ought to get him out of your system. Or else... you’ll go mad and then no one will want to associate with you, anyway.

So, once again-good luck and on with it!

 

Yes, I know I’m (slightly) insane-even my psychologist has confirmed this to me. You don’t have to constantly point it out, though. That won’t stop me from acting crazy, you know.

 

 

 

The late morning finds me in an uncomfortable sleepless state, my eyes red from the maniac behaviour and plans I can’t seem to stop envisioning. In every single one of them, Potter and I end up in my, I mean, HIS bed.

I’m developing an obsession. This is unhealthy, it is. But that’s exactly why I have to do it. So the madness can be over with. And Albus and I can go back to just being friends. In any case, after all is said and done (But mostly done. And by all, I mean me. Hehe.), I can’t be worse off than I am now.

...Right?

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

For the scene of my first flirting attack, I mean ACT! Flirting act! Ahem. As I was saying, for the scene of my first flirting act, I have chosen Al’s work place... Because he’s currently working, I finished early at the Prophet and I can’t get him out of my head. The last bit is a constant, though.

As I’m a control freak in disguise, I decide to follow my flirting list serially. So, today, I have to maintain eye contact at all and any cost! Which may have resulted in some... accidents.

„Hey, Al!“ I cheer from the entrance.

He turns around and gives me a warm smile that melts my heart and prompts me to almost look to the side in order to hide my furious blush. But I can’t give up so easily! So I persist in staring at him in a surely unsettling way.

„Hey. What are you doing here? Did you drink cherry tea again?“ He smirks.

I stick my tongue out at him. „No, I finished work early. Can’t I come here to visit you with no other reason but... to visit you?“

Merlin, I’m so awkward.

Al nods. „I suppose you can. It’s just that you usually avoid St. Mungo’s, so, naturally, I’m curious.“

Yes, I avoid it because people constantly tell me I should get locked up in here, at the loony department. I don’t want to give them many opportunities to actually do that!

„Oh, you’re imagining it.“ I chuckle nervously. „Anyway, I’ve missed you.“

Albus suddenly directs all of his attention towards me, crossing his arms over his chest and leaning against the Potions table. „Ok, what do you need, Ty? Spill it out.“

I try to appear thoroughly shocked. „Nothing of the sort you probably think. Just your company.“

I finish that with a small, albeit slightly forced, smile. All the while, I don’t look away. So I near him, ending up leaning against the table as well.

„You’re acting weird.“ Al notes suspiciously.

„I’m always weird.“ I snort, very attractively may I add. „You know that.“

„Yes, but now it’s more so than usually. Much more.“ Al finally grins, as if he just realized he can poke fun at me.

„Well...“ I try to move closer, but with insisting to maintain eye contact, I forget to look around myself.

Which causes me to knock down almost all of Al’s potions at the table, some twenty or thirty of them. This finally prompts me to look away, after giving Al one horrified stare.

He pushes me away gently. „Watch out, mixing potions can be very dangerous!“

I sneak a glance at the table behind Al’s back and notice that some of them have made a gaping hole in it, while others are disappearing into the air in purple steam form.

„Oh, Merlin, I’m so sorry, Al!“

„Don’t worry. It may seem so, but this is not the first time something like this has happened. I always tell my superior that I need a separate room for making potions, but he disagrees. Maybe this will finally convince him.“

I bite my lip, defeated. „How can I make things right?“

As soon as I say this, who should come in but Jade, the little red headed girl who visits Al far too often. She peeks into the room, puzzled, her burly eyes reflecting all the steam in the room.

Merlin has a great sense of humour, I see.

„Keep her away for awhile.“ Al nods toward the girl, to my utter dismay.

Let me refresh your memory-Jade and I... not the best of friends, exactly. But Al needs a favour and I caused this whole mess, so I owe him.

I sigh and walk to the curious girl, taking her hand and pulling her outside.

„I want to play with Albus.“ She protests.

„He’s busy right now. So I will have to do.“

„But I don’t like you.“ She says, again, in that annoyingly honest manner children do.

„Well, you know, life’s like that. Sometimes you have to try and tolerate people you detest.“

„You use fancy words.“ She just answers.

„Why, thank you.“ I decide to view that as a compliment.

The girl suddenly pulls on my jeans and I look down to her. „I need to make the water go away.“

„What?“ I frown at her, confused.

Who can understand children’s language? And she says I use fancy words.

In order to demonstrate, since I can’t seem to follow her gibberish talk, Jade crouches down and lifts her little dress, making a shhhh sound.

„Oh.“ I blush, annoyed that I didn’t understand her the first time around. „You want to take a piss.“

The girl nods.

„Well, we need to find a Healer who can help you.“ I look around, but, unfortunately, the floor we’re at seems rather deserted.

Jade shakes her head. „I have to go, now!“

„Ok, ok!“ I roll my eyes. „Geeze, don’t be so impatient.“

I pick her up from the floor into my arms, concluding that she seems lighter than she looks. But as she comes into my clear sight, I notice a strange rash on her whole body, which immediately attracts my full attention. A feeling of sadness suddenly overwhelms me.

„Jade, what illness is it that you have?“

She just shrugs, looking down at her tiny fingers playing with a ring. That’s the other thing I haven’t noticed until now.

„Can I...?“ I show to the pretty piece of jewelry.

The girl practically shoves it to my chest. With an oomph sound (The child can be quite forceful.) I take it. The ring is made of gold and has a writing engraved on the inner side.

It says. „Love has already saved me.“ Then the saying changes to be replaced by another sentence. „Don’t mourn me, Theodore.“

„Jade.“ I feel my whole body going stiff. „Is your dad’s name Theodore?“

She nods. „He fell asleep. For a long time. That’s what my grandma told me.“

I can barely hold my tears in at this point. „Like your mum?“

„Like my mum. But she was sick. Dad was just sad.“ The girl shrugs again, looking down at her now empty palms.

I give her the ring back, trying hard not to sniff too loudly, which proves to be quite difficult. „Let’s go find that piss room.“

 

 

 

„We’re back!“ I announce to Al some half an hour later and Jade runs to him, hugging his leg.

He laughs, lifting the girl into his arms with no visible effort.

„We went to take a piss!“ Jade yells.

I stare at her, mortified.

Al almost drops her from laughing too hard. „Who taught you to say that?“

Almost instantly, Jade points her tiny finger at me.

I gasp. That little traitor!

„I take it you two had fun.“

To my surprise, Jade nods, a little smile dancing on her sealed lips. Al gives me a grateful look, while I nod in return.

„But I have to go now.“ I say, to what Jade protests with a loud no.

„I’ll come back again, sometime.“ I assure her.

She calls for me to near her, gesticulating with her tiny hands. I walk towards Al and her, standing too close for my own comfort. His presence has an intoxicating effect on me. Jade doesn’t seem to notice, though. She leans over and links her hands around my neck sweetly, the affectionate gesture taking my mind off a certain black haired man in my proximity.

Promise you’ll come back again.“

I smile into her silky red hair. „I promise.“

She then gives me a peck on the cheek and leans back into Albus. He, on the other hand, directs his eyes at me in a way I don’t believe he ever has. They’re twinkling with something unusual, something...

„Thank you.“ He mouths. „I’ll see you after work?“

I nod and, before I can examine his gaze and guess its meaning, I stalk outside. I don’t think I could have handled it any longer, anyway, to be quite honest.

Damn it, how am I supposed to maintain eye contact, when he gives me such intense looks?

Ok, mission failed. At least step one. But that’s what I have the other nine for-I think to myself in delight, which results in a slightly devilish laugh. And since I’m still at St. Mungo’s people are staring at me. No! I’m not insane-I think while running out as fast as I can.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Later that day, Al invites me over to his flat. Which is a perfect setting for number two from my Best flirting techniques with Albus Potter for all occasions list to be carried out. The touching step, to be more precise.

As soon as Al notices me pop in the middle of his room, he smiles. I, on the other hand, take the opportunity and hug him. He doesn’t hesitate in returning the embrace. Well, someone seems eager. Maybe the second step will be all I need to...

„Thanks for looking out for Jade today. She really liked you.“ Al grins.

„Yes, I really liked her, too.“ But what I’m trying to say here is-I really like you.

„I had the impression you’re not a children’s person. What happened?“ Al leads me to his living room, that show with Orin Wadding, the guy Willow has a crush on, babbling on his WiTV screen.

I sit down on the couch, turning my whole body towards Al. Also, I make sure to rest one palm on his knee. Subtle, yet assertive. He doesn’t seem to notice it much, however. Damn it, why is he so oblivious?

Maybe because he’s focused on Jade at the moment?

Right! Jade!

„I... I saw her ring.“ I mutter back to his remark.

Remembering that moment makes me misty eyed even now. It was all that took to make me realize how small, fragile and breakable Jade is. How much protection and affection she deserves. And how I’m finding myself suddenly wanting to be the person to give her all that.

Crap! I’m supposed to look my best. And I don’t look my best when on a verge to cry, let me tell you.

Al sighs. „It’s so tragic.“

„Does she have the same illness her mum had?“ I wonder.

„I’m afraid so.“ Al says quietly.

„So that means... she can...?“ I don’t even have the strength to finish that sentence.

Al nods, not able to produce an answer in the form of words. So I take his hand, this time genuinely, and squeeze it with care. He turns to me, his eyes glimmering just like earlier today. The combination of the heat I’m feeling holding his palm and the intensity of his look prove to be too much for me, yet again.

So I stand up in alarm. „I just remembered... I left my purse at work.“

And with that blatant lie, I apparate away from his apartment.

 

 

 

Frick! How am I supposed to seduce him when even the first two steps are giving me trouble, being the most innocent ones?

Maybe I jumped into this list too fast. I need better preparation.

Hm, I could maybe practise on Keyon.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

No.You will not practise on my boyfriend!“ Emma gives me the deepest frown I have ever attested.

„Oh, come on, Emma, it’ll be fun.“ Key laughs beside her, the only one not sitting by the window in Leaky Cauldron.

He’s such a gentleman.

„Maybe for you.“ She growls in response.

Who knew Emma could be so possessive? Well, I should have figured with her character, really.

You see, the two have gone out on their first date immediately following the concert. They’ve been together for two weeks and, contrary to Phan and Al’s two weeks, that time was enough for them to realize they’re crazy about each other. Key even promised to stop smoking, since Emma as a Healer won’t have it.

It’s insane, really. But, as I like to say, who am I to talk about what’s mad?

„You’re mad.“ Emma shakes her head at me.

See what I mean?

„Come on! I helped you two hook up! Don’t I deserve a little aid in return?“

You didn’t do anything. It was all me. I even found out where Emma works and lives from Ash. Because you were too busy developing your seduction plan.“ Keyon reminds me stirring his coffee calmly, contradicting his slightly accusing tone.

Bugger. I need to get more involved with my mates’ lives. If anything, I can always have some gain from it.

„Jill, I warned you. This will just destroy your friendship will Al. You need to stop pursuing him in a romantic sense until he’s made the first step.“ Emma jumps in, assuming my attention.

„Aren’t you an expert on Albus Potter.“ Keyon teases.

„Oh, shut up, mister I failed in wooing Jill.“ She rolls her eyes in response.

„Aw, such a sweet, gentle soul this one is.“ Key snickers.

Emma turns to him, probably to slap him, but he catches her lips in a passionate kiss instead.

Ewww.

When they stop, I take my chance with talking to them again, before they resume to more revolting physical actions. „But I don’t want to pursue him in a romantic sense, you see. More like in a purely sexual one.“

„So, I repeat, you’re mad.“ Emma nods her head.

„Why are you denying that you’re in love with him, Jill?“ Key wonders. „It’s so obvious that it hurts my eyes, to be honest.“

„Because I can’t be his girlfriend!“ I suddenly shriek.

Luckily we’re under the Muffliato spell-you can never be too careful. I can only assume how crazy I look to the other guests.

„I...“ My voice breaks a little. „Key, you’ve seen it. I don’t do relationships well. I just end up hurting myself or the other person involved. I ruin everything, every time.“

The two stare at me in silence for a while, until Emma reaches over the table and rests her hand on my shoulder.

„Did you consider that, maybe... All of those times it happened because it was supposed to?“

„What are you implying?“ I ask her, unsure.

„That there’s usually that one relationship standing against the odds. The one that survives, in spite of everything.“ She now looks to Key and smiles gently, to what he responds by kissing her forehead. „Maybe Al and you... you’re the ones who won’t break in the end.“

„I can’t take that chance.“ I mutter. „I wouldn’t stand losing him.“

„Oh, but you think having sex with him won’t ruin everything, too?“ Key interrupts my moment of honesty.

„It’s just sex.“ I shrug and then get up. „Fine, if you won’t help me, I’ll... I’ll practise on Felix!“

„I wouldn’t try asking Ash if I were you.“ Emma smirks. „Imagine my reaction and then  multiply it by ten-that’s how she’ll respond to you request.“

No, she won’t. I think I know my room mate better than Emma. She’ll gladly help me.

 

 

 

Ok, so maybe Emma does know Ash better than I do, which doesn’t help my case of wanting to be a good friend.

„You are insane!“ Ash screams at me, upon my plea.

Damn Emma, why does she get to be right all the time?

Whatever, I have other things to focus on right now. Like ravishing Albus Potter.

But there are no males left for me to practise on. How am I ever going to get Al out of my system now?

 

 

 

And that’s when it clicks.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

„Hi, dad!“ I jump into his embrace the moment he opens the door.

No, you sick people, I won’t practise my flirting skills on dad. I’m just going to ask him for advice, seeing how he’s the only male left in my life that I can talk to without hesitation. Mum is out with a female friend of hers, so dad and I resume our seats in the empty living room. Not before he brings us some hot chocolate, that is. Have I mentioned that I adore my father? Yes, I possibly have. I never get tired of repeating it, though.

The room is decorated with pumpkins carved to resemble faces-smiling, in rage and downright scary. The nearing Halloween has already made its presence known in my parents’ house, you see. There are even a few magically enhanced pumpkins hanging from the ceiling with their grimaces changing constantly, which makes me slightly dizzy as I stare them down.

Finally, I look away from them to my father’s curious face.

„Dad, I came here to talk to you about... matters of the... heart.“ I finish awkwardly.

It’s more the matters of some other parts of my body, but dad doesn’t need to have it spelled out like that.

He closes his eyes and joins his hands for a moment, as if in a deep meditation state.

After a moment of silence, he smiles at me. „I have been waiting for this day.“

„Er... ok?“

„Jill.“ He shifts slightly in his spot on the couch to look me directly in the eyes. „When two people love each other, they... ahem, engage in... how should I put this...“

„Dad!“ I jump up in embarrassment. „I don’t need a sex talk! You do realize that mum had the honour way back when I was fourteen and she caught me snogging Terrence from down the street?“

„Ah...“ My father stays still for a moment and rubs his chin, lost in his thoughts. „I wasn’t aware?“

„That’s besides the point, though, because, really, don’t I seem old enough to you to have already... engaged... in... you know?“ I stammer, blushing furiously.

Why did I think this wouldn’t be uncomfortable? No matter how much daughters love their fathers, it’s always going to be awkward talking about sex with them. Trust me.

„Indeed.“ He nods, clearing his throat. „Well, what did you want to talk about, then?“

„I wanted to know which one of the two of you made the first move, mum or you? And what was the move that made you become romantically involved, anyway?“ I want to ask sexually involved, but I’m afraid to bring that word up again so soon.

Dad sighs, a content grin on his face. Then, he stands up and leaves the room, just like that. I stare after him, stunned. Until he comes back, carrying a photo album and a stack of, what appear to be, love letters.

 

Oh Merlin, what have I gotten myself into?

 

„That’s a long story.“ Dad grins, opening the album to its first page.

There rests the first photo of my parents together, ever. They appear to be in an amusement park, smiling at each other warmly. He urges me look at the pictures, some moving, some not, until I finish the album on a picture of myself as a baby. He always does this, lets me get lost in the photos, but never clues me into how some of them were made. I guess it’s because I usually groan when he tries to talk about mum and the olden days.

But now I need to know.

Dad then gives me a letter without an address on it, written by him and clearly meant to be sent to Elisa. After that, he hands me another, much shorter, one containing his name on the back, and encourages me to read it.

 

 

 

Esteemed Mr Percival Kenward,

 

I’m sorry to inform you, but, instead of writing down the number 113 in your nameless address, which I assume is what you wanted to do, you wrote 123, prompting the postman to get confused and leave the letter at my door. Since, you know, there isn’t a number 123 in our street. My home, under the number of 122, is the last one in Exchange Alley. I wish to inform you this in order for you to know that a certain Miss Elisa Llewelyn hasn’t received her letter yet, as a result of this confusion. And I don’t want to have a possible break up on my conscious. I would have given her the letter myself, had I not opened it beforehand (There was no way for me to be certain that it wasn’t for someone in my house, after all. Please, in the future, be sure to write the name of the person you are scribing to.). Now, I don’t feel it would be appropriate.

PS I want you to know that Miss Elisa may be up to something behind your back, because I have seen her holding hands with a young man while frolicking around the village. I reckon you should be aware of that, in case you plan to marry her.

 

Sincerely,

Miss Mirabelle Austin.

 

 

 

„Dad.“ I snicker. „How come you didn’t write the name on the letter, anyway?“

„Oh, I was in an awful hurry.“ He waves his hand. „But since the village where they lived was mostly of family houses, having only the number and street written down was enough clues for the postman to find the right recipient, anyway.“

„Only, you managed to mess even that part up.“ I giggle.

„It’s true. But had I written Elisa’s name on the letter, your mum and I would probably never come to be.“

„So I have to thank aunt Elisa for my existence.“ I smile, amused by the fact that mum thought Elisa was dad’s girlfriend, even after reading his clearly non romantic letter.

I guess I’m crazy thanks to her side of the family, which dad likes to point out, too.

„Has’t she bragged about that to you already?“ Dad wonders.

„Not really. Although, now that I think about it, one time at her second wedding with uncle Rory she did mention that she’s a natural matchmaker and that she’ll help me get married, too, if I want, so that we can follow the tradition in our family. I thought she was just mumbling, because she was rather drunk.“ I chuckle.

„Well, your aunt is not one to be trusted at weddings.“ He smiles, agreeing.

„Especially since she keeps having them over and over.“ I note.

„Forsooth.“ Dad agrees.

„But you were telling me about mum and you.“ I remind him.

„Right!“ He composes himself again. „You see, it’s hard to determine who made the first move, as you say nowadays. Was it me with my lost letter or your mum writing back? Or was it me again, answering her, curious to find out who this Mirabelle was? I guess fate made the first move for us.“ He laughs.

„Dad!“ I nudge him a little. „I didn’t know you were this romantic.“

„It’s clear you haven’t read any of my letters to your mum.“ He notes, teasing me for always running away when he starts talking about mum and their romance.

„Well, can I now?“ I look over to the pile on the table, curious.

„Oh, lord.“ He blushes slightly, clearly unprepared for my sincere interest in their story. „All right, have this one. It’s the least embarrassing. And that says something.“

Dad hands me a piece of paper addressed to Mirabelle Austin. I lean back into the couch, crossing my legs, and start to read, intrigued.

 

 

 

Dear Mirabelle,

 

Oh, how happy has your last letter made me, you will never truly know. I was just back from the hospital, visiting my ill mother (I wince at this, the memories of nana still making my heart ache.), and was feeling very dismal. But your sharp words, your quick mind, your colorful humour-they made me smile amidst all of that sorrow. Which has prompted me to think about, well, us.

Mirabelle, even without seeing eye to eye with you, I know that I’m in love with you. Because, love is born not from mere sight, but from the ties between two hearts. And you have captured mine so quickly, so firmly, yet so gently, all at once, that I can’t imagine my days without your presence any more. I feel as if I could cross the whole country, just to see you, making an unexpected visit to my sister and her husband my excuse. I know it has only been three weeks since we started exchanging words, but for me, time is irrelevant when it comes to the matters of the heart.

So, Mirabelle, will you accept me coming to your village, will you be my guide, will you give me a chance to finally see the woman that I know I will love forever?

 

Yours,

Percival Kenward.

 

 

 

„Dad!“ I exclaim. „This is so...“

„Cheesy, I know.“ He laughs. „Your mother and I liked writing like we fell out of a middle century novel.“

„No, I was going to say that it’s sweet.“ I smile at him. „How you fell in love so quickly and even without seeing each other. And yet, here you are, so many years later, still enamoured.“

He nods. „It’s because we were insanely lucky. We found each other in a world full of wrong choices. Yet, somehow, we beat the odds.“

„Do you think...“ I utter. „I will be lucky as you?“

Dad hugs me and kisses the top of my head. „You will. Because you’re our daughter and the odds are always on our side in this family, at least where love is concerned.“

I beg to differ, I want to add. But dad seems so certain and giddy that I don’t want to ruin the mood.

Yet, a small part of me becomes hopeful, if only for a second. If friendships and fame and a large number of relatives are not our strength, the Kenwards do appear to have unusual luck in love. Even aunt Elisa. Maybe you thought she keeps having weddings with different men. But no. It’s always with uncle Rory. They have this weird, romantic-as they claim, tradition of renewing their vows every now and then.

So you see, all Kenwards appear to be finding their partners fairly early on in their lives.

I know that my romantic history isn’t really... stellar. But maybe that just means I’m up for a great reward for all that thrall I have endured up until now.

And maybe... maybe that reward will indeed come in the form of Albus Potter.

 

 

 

But, right now, that maybe is not enough to satisfy my needs.

So, no matter how crazy everyone thinks I am, I will go back to my original plan of seduction. Because I haven’t had fifteen sleepless nights for a flimsy maybe. I had them in order to entice Albus Potter and that I will do.

 








A/N: Yeah, I know, Tatum is cray-cray. She knows it, too, as was said. :D

I just feel the need to point out that a lot of Tatum's opinions and slight prejudice are her own, NOT mine. She is not me and I am not her, although every character that I write has a small part of me inside of them (Don't think dirty thoughts, you perverts. ;)).

 


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