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The Trouble With Life is... by Irobbedgringottsandgotaway

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Format: Novella
Chapters: 12
Word Count: 40,178
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Albus, James (II), Rose, Teddy, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/OC, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius, Teddy/Victoire

First Published: 12/09/2011
Last Chapter: 01/18/2013
Last Updated: 01/18/2013

Summary:
banner by !TheInbetweener@tda 
36,000+ Reads! Thanks so much!!
SEQUEL IS OUT!




James Potter II. 

Arrogant, charming, stupid, handsome, and alltogether a huge pain in my life. 

Which he seems awfully proud of.


Chapter 1: Problem #1
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  Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling

 

 






Well I won't rely on you,
So don't you rely on me.
I don't need nobody's approval,
I'll live without it happily.
          On My Own by Vinvent Vincent and the Villains
 

 

 






So, I suppose as this is the beginning of my story, you are most likely expecting some sort of backstory-slash-introduction.

Well, that right there was it. Yep, that sentence right there is all you get. 

See, I'm not the backstory type. No one really gives a flying kumquat about Alex's sob story. "Oh Alex, i'm so sorry, I had no idea...Oh Alex, your parents would be there if they could...I'm sure they'd be so proud..."

Yeah, except they're dead.

I guess I should start my story at the source of all my problems. This source is the root of all irks and quirks that course through my veins. The 'bane' of my exsistence, as cliche as I believe that saying to be. This source is the saltine crackers to my multiple papercut wounds, the kryptonite to my superman, and the oil to my vinegar.

 You get the picture. If only I could count the ways I loathe James Potter. 

Oh, but wait, I can!

Let's start with problemo numero uno: James is a pigheaded prat.

In fact, back at old Hogwarts, I told him this fact once, and he replied, "Yeah, but my looks make up for that, as you so clearly imply...you know you love them." Then he winked. Winked!

This is why I was not happy to see him show up at my spankin' new workplace, next to my new desk, smirking like some silly minx while talking to some leggy blonde. Seriously, I come back from a year of studying in Scotland under the world-famous and acclaimed Professor Jixson about how to defend yourself using non-verbal, non-wandal magic, and here he is, sitting on the edge of my new desk!


"If you tell me you work here too, you won't be waking up tomorrow." I said, approaching him with my cardboard box of papers and stuff, thouroghly irritated. "Or you will wake up in pain, missing a certain apendage."


"Why hello, Lex." he smiled smugly at me. "I won't tell you I work here too. Anything to make you happy sweetheart." I seethed at the nickname and jibes. The blonde girl seemed confused, then decided to leave. Ha, smart move blondie.

"Whatever Jimmy, just get off my desk and go back to your own or something." I had gone through many interviews and hard lessons and tests to get into the auror training program here and he wasn't going to get in my bloody way. Because there would be blood.


He seemed to oblige, and wandered off. I sighed, relieved. Then he stopped about five feet away. He sat down at the desk that was right behind me, so that we were situated back to back.

"What do you thigk you're doing?"

"Going back to my spot. I do actually work here, you know. Started last week as a matter of fact." He said. I thought I heard a bit of smugness.

Great, out of all the people to sit right behind me, it ends up being the most annoying guy I have ever had the displeasure to meet.

"No. This cannot be happening. If I have to go through auror training with an arrogant stick shoved up my but then you can just kill me now." I said, blithering pissed.

He twisted around in his chair. "I don't know for sure, but your arse seems fine to me. Quite fine, if you know what I mean."


I swiveled around in my chair, shooting daggers from my eyes. Laserbeams, more like it actually. "Back off, Potter. It's only been three minutes and I already want to shove my fist up your nose."

"And I thought you wanted me to kill you."

"Whatever. I'm not done with you. I have stuff to get done. Like meeting with your dad." Yeah, his dad's the head of the department. Guess I know how he got the job.

"Later."

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO


I guess I might as well give you a little backstory to tell you how James and I came to the position we are in now, where we both hate each other platonically. It only makes sense,, so I won't put up with any of your 'i told you so's.

James and I actually grew up in the same neighborhood. My parents died when I was nine, so that leaves nine other years of living normally. I'm not going to go any farther than explaining that I grew up in a nice, loving family with a dog and a white picket fence, yadda yadda ya.

I was always a fierce one, which is probably why James and I were best friends the first nine years of my life. We would build mudpies, play pickup games of football, and go swimming in the lake together. Our families were close, his parents loved me and mine loved him. I think his mom actually thought we would end up together in the end. (Ha, I'm sorry please excuse me for a moment while I go burst into histerics.)

We would play together and we even had a special game we played, 'Secret or Dare'. We had to either tell a secret, or do a dare as decided by the other person. I did some crazy stuff for that game, and told him some of my deepest, darkest, secrets, which I refuse to tell to this day. There was actually this one time where James stole Mrs. Nattenburg's .... sorry, too much information.

Anyways, they day of the fire came, and I was the sole survivor of my family (as it was fiend fire), however battered and bruised. But the wounds I had aquired were no match to the pain I felt of losing my parents and house. I also lost my only brother that day, as James and I lost contact. We didn't see each other again until the first day of Hogwarts rolled around and I saw his family at the station. I would be lying if I said that James noticed me at all that day.

At Hogwarts, we basically ignored each other while really I was still checking up on him, as he used to be my only brother. That lasted until fourth year when we had a fight that could rival the Battle of Hogwarts. Words were said that could not be forgiven and we were both hurt. We parted separate ways, agreeing to mutually hate each other. This led to many more spats, prank wars and agression on the Quidditch pitch. To this day, we're still basically pissed off at each other. So, that's the end of any backstory you'll be getting from me.


Sigh. One week after my first encounter with James at work and here I am, swamped with reports and coffee runs that none of the other senior aurors had in interest in doing. I'm up to my knees in work, am juggling my other part-time job as a waitress at the Leaky Cauldroun, and yet I can't seem to catch a break from the numbskull that sits behind me. I'm about ready to punch someone when my best friend Roxy comes by to relieve me and take me to lunch.

Roxy has been my best friend since we were first years at Hogwarts. I stole the last biscuit at the start-of-year feast and she punched me in the nose. We're pretty much a match made in heaven. Roxy is fierce, a Gryfindor like me, and plays beater alongside me in Quidittch. We make a great team. The only problem is that she's Jame's cousin.

"Roxanne! Always a pleasure! Here to take me to lunch?" James exclaimed, noticing her walking towards us.

"Shut up James, she's taking me to lunch." I snapped, teetering dangerously on the edge of my toleration for him.


"Ouch, that stings Roxanne. I'm your cousin!" He remarked as I was getting up to leave.


"Tough luck James, she's my best friend, and you're a prat. So rub those two tiny little brain cells that are in there somewhere together and figure it out." Roxy said. She looked great in a colorful, exotic top and a simple skirt. She worked next door with the Department of Magical Sports and they were pretty casual over there.

"Whatever Roxy, let's just go before I blow a gasket." I said warily.

"Yeah, really. Lexi's getting on my nerves." I stuck my tongue out at him over my shoulder.

How mature.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 










A/N: Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a review and tell me what you thought about it and what you liked/disliked about it!
 
 
 
 
 

 
 


Chapter 2: Problelm #2 + #2.5
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling

 





I must admit
I can't explain
Any of these thoughts racing
Through my brain
              Howlin' for You by The Black Keys
 

 






"James, could you bring these files to HR for me please?" I asked him as politely as I could muster.


"Why of course, Lex." He said, turning around once again in his chair. This was the first time he was actually turning around for a reason besides to request some ridiculous favor like a foot rub. I shuddered.


I shoved the papers behind me into his stomach, gulping down coffee as I turned towards my current project, which was to log old missions from the year 1984. Quite boring really, but would not be so bad if I hadn't been bombarded every four minutes with a request to fetch James a porcupine.


"Hey, these are complaints... about me!" James exclaimed, realizing that the Human Resources document was just a list of complaints featuring him.


"James, I would prefer it if you would not go through files that I give you unless I tell you." I said, aggravated at his lack of privacy.


"Oh, so are you in charge of me now?" He asked indignantly.


"No, but I should be. You haven't done one useful thing in the past three days, while I have provided multiple opportunities for you to get your things done, even though I have had hardly any opportunities because of your constant badgering. NONE!" I shouted the last part, turning and standing up to meet his eye level.


"Well, it would be a lot easier to work if you didn't keep making me do things for you!"
 

I snorted. "Well, it's not like you have anything else to do, as you refuse to be resourceful in any way!"


"Hey! Break it up you two!" Shouted Gary, the head of our section of cubicles. "I'm sick and tired of your squabbles." His bushy grey mustache jiggled. "I'm assigning you both to warehouse duty. I want full inventory on all evidence from past cases." I sighed in unison with James. We both knew better than to put up a fight. This was the second time this month.


"Come on Jimmy." I said in resignation.
------------------------------------------------
"Secret or Dare." James stated a half hour later.


"Ummm... Sorry what?" I said, completely thrown off gaurd.


"You know the drill, Secret or Dare?" He said clearly, his back to mine.
"Err... Secret." I said, confused at this strange behavior.
"Pet peeve."
 

"When people pick their teeth." I said cautiously. I decided to play along. "Secret or Dare."
 

"Secret." I could hear him let out a breath of air as he took down a particularily heavy piece of evidence.
 

"Favorite comfort food."
 

"Waffles. You?" He said casualy.
 

"Oatmeal. Plain or cooked. Secret."
 

"Secret obsession."
 

"Um... Muggle books."
 

"That's still the same. Secret."
 

"Favorite childhood memory."


"Going down to the lake with my best friend." I noticed he neglected to mention that was me, his best friend.
 

"Dare." I said boldly, curious.
 

"I dare you to climb up to the top of that very tall shelf over there and scream out the worst swear word you know." He turned, grinning smugly at me. Shoot.
 

"That's mature." I grumbled.
 

"Get on with it."
 

"Alright." I trudged over to the shelve, awkwardly climbing it in my nice shoes and pants.
 

I then proceded to stand up like an idiot and yell out a word which I had never said in the presence of an elderly. James then proceded to laugh like a lunatic before joining me halfway on an empty shelf that happened to jut out abit, so that we were comfortably sitting next to each other.


"Secret." He asked.
"Weirdest food combo ever."
 

"Pizza and tofu."
 

"Tofu?"
 

"Yes, my sister is a vegetarian now. She made me try it."
 

"OK, secret."
 

"Let's see... worst lie you ever told."
 

"I once lied to Roxanne when she asked if I was going out with Rob Finnegan."
 

"And were you?"
 

"Yes. That's where the lie came in."
 

"I see. I once told my best friend at the time that I hated her and I thought she was ugly. We were five."
 

"No, we were six i'm pretty sure. Why did you lie about that?"
"I was six and I was pissed at her for punching my nose. Dare."
 

"Hmm... I dare you to lick that post." He grimaced and leaned away, toward the old, dusty post. He stuck his tongue out just enough to barely touch the post, while I was laughing the whole time.
 

"Ugh, that was disgusting." He said. "Your turn."
 

"Secret."
 

"First boy you ever kissed."
 

"Rob Finnegan."
 

"Him again? Really? When were you seeing him anyways?"
 

"It was sixth year. The year you nearly lit the Griffindor common room on fire."
 

"Oh, yeah. I remember that now. He was somewhat of a git, wasn't he?"
 

"No he was a perfect gentlemen."
 

"Then why did you break up?"
"He cheated on me."
"What? That means he is most definitely a git. And a prat at that."
 

"Well, he had a good excuse."
 

"And what in the world was that?"
 

"I wasn't exactly what he wanted. I didn't deserve him."
 

"Geezus, Lex. What happened to you? You used to stand up for yourself. Don't ever tell yourself that you don't deserve someone. You deserve someone way better than that."
 

"Er, thanks Jimmy."
 

"Do you miss him?"
 

"I don't know. I guess I don't really miss him that much at all, as I don't actually like the whole being someone's girlfriend thing, but the snogging was great."
 

"Ha, I bet that I'm a way better kisser than that git."
 

"Hmm. I wouldn't know. Your turn."
 

"Secret."
 

"Have you ever slept with someone."
 

"To be honest, no. Wait, did you and Rob..."
 

"No. That's probably why he cheated. I didn't want to. Dare." He let out a breath of relief.
 

"Kiss me." I nearly fell off of our bench, spluttering.
 

"Sorry, what?"
 

"Kiss me."
 

That was when I lost it and punched him in the face, causing him to tumble to the ground. I panicked.
 

"Oh shit. James? Are you okay?" I said nervously, climbing down to him where he was lying on the ground. He mumbled something under his breath, clutching his nose with one hand.
 

"Oh shit, i'm sorry Jimmy. Let me see your nose." It was an ugly purple and looked broken. "Hold still Jimmy, I'm going to fix it. Episcy!" His nose snapped into place and he grimaced, turning to one side.
 

"I'm so sorry Jimmy, that was uncalled for, even if you were being ridiculous...well so was I, I suppose. Shit, now your nose is all bruised. I can't believe I actually broke your nose, I'm so sorry."
 

"Yeah, you should be, that hurt Lex."
 

"Oh, i'm sorry, you should be sorry you know too."
 

"Why? It was a reasonable dare."
 

"What? You're intolerable..." I said, shaking my head.
 

"Well you've been nothing but annoying these past few weeks, you know that?"
"And you have been nothing but a prat, and have done no actual work. You know that?"
 

"Your insane. You know, you've never chickened out on a dare before. Would it have really been so bad?"
 

"I don't know, but it's ridiculous for you to request that! Of all the stupid dares you've come up with for me, this is the stupidest! Leave it to yo-"
 

"Hey Lex?" He said, sitting up.
 

"What?"
 

"Shut up."
 

We stared at each other for what felt like hours sitting on the floor. I couldn't quite grasp what his expression was. His eyes were serious and burning right into me. It was a blazing look. We slowly got closer to each other, our faces getting closer and closer, until our lips were only a half centimeter apart. Then, we were kissing.
 

About half an hour later, I was practically sitting on top of him and his shirt was off.
"Jimmy." I said breathlessly. "What are we doing?"
 

"Snogging."
 

"Yes, but does it mean anything?"
 

"You tell me."
 

I thought about it. "No, it doesn't. It's just casual snogging, were definitely not together in any way. Besides, we hate each other. Right?"
 

"Agreed." He said, pulling me down again.
 

 

 

 







The rest of that week passed quite normally, me and James as amiacable as usual, which is to say, completely annoyed and ticked off. The brief snogging session meant nothing.
 

It wasn't until a week later that I even thought about it again. Well, seriously thought about it. It was a Tuesday night and Roxy was over at my flat for who knows what reason.
 

"So has James tried anything on you yet?" She asked casually.
 

I was thrown off guard completely. "Sorry, what? What's that supposed to mean?" I said suspiciously.
 

"Well it's not a big secret that James can be a bit crude when it comes to women. At Hogwarts he must have had about a girlfriend a week the last three years of school." She explained. "Besides, you guys have some serious tension, and I just wanted to know if James has, you know, tried anything."
 

Well this changes things quite a bit. "He hasn't tried anything on me yet except corny flirts now and then, but I am aware of his history. He won't get away with anything like that with me. I am, afterall, the one who salted and greased all of his knickers back in sixth year. I just have to refresh his memory if he does try to get to close." I answered smirking.
 

James and I may have been (are?) brief snogging partners, but there is no way in Slytherin that I would let him get by with this without a brief reminder of how aggressive I could be in Love and War.
 

This is war, Potter. 
 

 

 

 






 

The next day, I initiated my plan with the smallest, yet often most irritating sort of prank. Well James was in special training, I stole his reading glasses and proceded to smother muggle cooking oil used to grease pans that Roxanne had leant me. As I was exiting the bathroom, I had one more idea. Taking my gum and sticking it on the spots that rested above his ears, I concealed the gum with a charm and also added an extra sticking charm...or two (but definitely not three or four. Didn't want him to be incapitated like that. Oh wait...). I smirked. Take this as a warning Potter.
 

My prank was trivial, yet extremely satisfying as was proved later that day. After lunch, I returned to my desk where I spied James had returned to his recently. "Hello Potter, have a nice lunch?" I asked amiacably, smirking yet again.
 

"Yes, quite lovely. And you?" He returned.
 

"Good. Went to a new muggle cafe for tea. Bit foggy out today and the tea was a bit oily, but the walk wasn't too bad and they had nice service."
 

"Foggy out, huh." He mused. "That's a shame. The fog always makes my apartment all dewy."
 

"Yeah, a right shame." I tutted. I went back to work, filling out forms, when I realized James wouldn't need his glasses unless I gave him actual work and nearly forced him to do it. I just had to subtle in my ways. Don't automatically imply that he should use his glasses or anything. He'll come up with that on his own.
 

"Potter, if you don't fill out these forms by the end of the day, we'll both lose our jobs." I insisted, smoothly handing him a pile of forms on my way to another intern's desk.

"And I can't do them because I'm swamped with the Wales Warlock Case Files." I added, anticipating his response.
"Blimey Lex, the writings tiny! And the packet's huge!" He complained.
"That's too bad, but it's not my fault you have horrible eyesight. I'll be over at Marina's desk if you need anything."


I then walked over to Marina's desk, to ask Marina about some form for the Wales case. Marina had been a nice companion of late. She was the leggy blonde that James was talking to on the first day. She was a bit shallow, but much nicer than Mayonaise Murphy, who refused to be within a five foot parameter of me.
 

"Hey Marina, do you know what file form we should use for the suspect report on the Wales Warlo-" I was interupted by the sound of someone swearing behind the barrier that separated Marina's desk from James.
 

"Damn it, my glasses have all fogged up." Potter cursed.
 

"What the hell? Ow- why won't these damn glasses come off!" He was getting louder as he realized that his glasses wouldn't come off. "Alright!" He said standing up, coming over to glare (Well, i'm just assuming, I couldn't tell because of the grease) at the rest of us interns, or me, Marina and Murphy. "Which one of you prats messed with my glasses?" He said, seething.
I

shrugged and went back to my question with Marina.
 

"Was it you Murphy?" He asked the smelly mean guy. "No? Well then, I'm assuming Marina wouldn't be so unkind so that leaves only one person. In fact, this has Alex Johnson written all over it." Actually, it didn't. I made sure to erase all fingerprints.

Yeah, you can see why I'm studying to be an auror.
 

"Do you have anything to say to that, Lex?" He asked, coming up behind me.
 

"Nope. Nada Jimmy. I have no idea who messed with your glasses. Beats me. Actually, I think it was that guy from the Snatchers Committee. You know, Root beer Bob."
 

Root Beer Bob was a guy me and Potter had met one day training, and we came up with the nickname for him. He was drinking a root beer that day with lunch and he seemed to like it.
 

"Uh huh. What makes you think that?" He asked skeptically.
 

"Oh he told me all about his little prank this morning. You were just his next victim." I replied smoothly.
 

He seemed pretty mad still, so I did him a favor and wiped two little eye holes for him with some paper, scraping it off to make little spots for his eyes.
 

"Yep, that helps so much, Lex." He said, seething.
 

I shrugged. "That's all I can get, the rest is still on there pretty tight. Sorry."
 

He just glared at me throught his little eye holes. That's when I lost control and laughed my guts out.
 

 

 

 







Later that evening, James had managed to scrape off the cooking grease, but had not been able to get rid of my four permanent sticking charms. We were walking out together, the ministry pretty quiet as it was ten o' clock. (We had been forced to stay late because of an emergency call from Luna Lovegood saying that her house had been attacked. We still weren't sure if it was true, but the interns were dissmissed.) I was still laughing every now and then at Jame's faces of frusturation as he tried to pry his glasses off without ripping the skin out. He was struggling.
 

"You know, you don't look all that bad in your glasses." Darn, why did I say that?
 

"Oh really." He said, not too interested.
 

"Yes, you look quite sexy, actually." Dammit, I am getting way off track.
 

"Sexy you say?" He said, cocking an eyebrow at me. "Is that so?"
 

"I don't know." I said, quite honestly actually. I had no idea what was going on with the two of us, and what the whole thing earlier even meant for us. I was confused.

"Well then, what would you say to proving that?" He said quietly.
 

And that, is how we ended up in a broom cupboard alone together, snogging.

Fantastic.
 

"It is so on, by the way." Great.
 

 

 

 







A/N: Thanks for reading! Tell me what you think! 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 


Chapter 3: Problem #3
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling.
 

 





Hot like fire.
Take you higher.
You can't resist,
Kiss, kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss...
           Hot Like Fire by the xx
 

 

 







"So are we still on for brunch on Sunday?" My cousin Alisha asked over the phone the next day.

"Yeah, I reckon so. Where are we going? The usual?" I asked, sitting at my desk filling in yet another form for the Wales Warlock case. The phone? Oh, yeah, my cousin is muggle, and I don’t have a regular phone at home, so I have to use my work phone to talk to her. There’s only one minor setback.

"Who are you talking to?" Asked James. "Is it your boyfriend?" Did I say minor setback? My mistake.

"Shut up James, it’s none of your bloody business. What was that?" I said to Alisha.

"Yeah, that little Frech place on the corner." She replied.

"That French what?" I asked, confused.

"Wait, you actually do have a boyfriend?" James continued.

"The restaurant, Alex, what did you think I meant?" Ali said, getting annoyed.

"Oh yeah, brunch. Um, nothing."

"Who’s your boyfriend?" James perservered. I rolled my eyes, giving him the bird.

"So, we’ll meet there at noon then?" Ali asked.

"Yep, see you then." I said, putting the phone down.

"So who’s your boyfriend then?" James asked persistantly.

"Voldemort."

"Haha, funny. No, seriously, who is it? I bet he’s a tool."

"You’re a tool James." I reminded him.

"Yeah, but I pull it off." It’s times like these that I’m not sure if he’s actually being serious.

"Right. Well, it’s none of your buisiness."

"Seriously Lex, who is it?" He actually sounded aggravated.

"No one, for Merlin’s sake." I said, frusturated.

"Oh. Never mind then." He sounded relieved. "It’s actually a bit of a shame."

"Mmm?" I sounded, not really paying attention.

"Well, I could have used this bit of information in my upcoming prank against you."

"Oh really?" I asked, still not captivated by this conversation.

"Yeah, but I suppose I already have that snake anyways…"

My head snapped up and around, nearly smacking my face into James’ armpit as he was currently leaning back in his chair and stretching out. "What was that? Did you say snakes?" I was nervous now.

Oh, I wasn’t afraid of snakes, it just so happened that I had aquired some for my next prank on James. Who knows, maybe it was a coincidence that we both planned on using snakes against each other.

Yeah right.

"Oh, did I say snakes?" He said turning around to face me. "Oops, cat’s out of the bag. Or the snake is I suppose." I glared at him. "You’ll find out more about them later. I found them hidden in some storage closet by the way, if you know anyone who’s missing some snakes." He grinned.

I decided to ignore this and figure out a new prank as it seems that James had stolen mine, which I needed to look out for. Thank God it was Friday. I would have a whole weekend to figure out what form of torture to instill upon James next.
 

 

 







Later that night as I was leaving, I heard a soft hissing noise in the dark, empty office. My head snapped up, remembering James’ threats earlier. This couldn’t be good. I followed the sounds into the break room. It was dark except for the light coming from the refrigerator. I was about to leave when I heard the hissing sound again, this time coming from a cabinet under the sink.

Inside the cabinet was a huge crate that housed the snakes that James had stolen from me.

I smirked, shaking my head.

Oh James, you'll pay for this later- I promise.
 

 

 

 







"You did what with snakes?" Ali asked as we walked into the small muggle restaurant together on Sunday. I was explaining to her the bruise on my chin that came from when I was moving the snakes to a more convenient location.

"Never mind." I sighed, sensing her disgust. My cousin, Ali the muggle, was a very conservative person. As in, she grew up at the age of four. She was never one to make mud pies and play silly games like I did with James. She was a lawyer in downtown London, and a very successful one at that. She insisted on taking me out to brunch once or twice a month. She basically felt bad for me, not that I minded. I love pancakes and bacon. And eggs and sausage. And hash browns.

She wore a very prim, beigy-pink jacket and skirt with a crisp, white collared shirt. Her white-blonde hair fell perfectly straight down to her shoulders, her bangs uniform.

I had gone with wearing my cleanest pair of pants, which were jeans, a plain, somewhat rumpled yellow blazer, and my favorite sensible brown boots. It was one of the nicest outfits I owned, besides my work uniform, which was khaki pants and the red blazer that I had traded out today for the yellow one I had mentioned earlier. (I had figured that I could use an extra blazer while buying the red ones. Besides, they’re surprisingly comfortable. ) My hair, well, was my hair and I had worn it down today for once.

"Well then, let’s go find a table." She said walking over to the host. "Hello, table for two please." She told the hostess politely. She nodded and said that it was a fifteen minute wait. "Okay, that works. Oh, I’m sorry Alex, I have to take this call, I’ll be right back." She told me, taking out her muggle cell phone. She walked outside to the patio, where she began talking and shouting into her phone, aggravated with another client. I sighed and sat down on the bench by the door.

The restaurant was very upscale, with pale yellow wallpaper, with gold trim. There was a lot of that same ornate trim around the old-fashioned windows, which were very tall, and reached the ground. There were many little tables situated around the floor, gold frames and white cushions. The curtains were a sort of beigy pink like Alisha’s suit. My bright yellow blazer stood out from all the beige and pale colors. Chandeliers adorned the ceiling, which was more ornate than the floor.

There were a lot of couples and people on business meetings sitting around the tables. I was watching a pretty red-haired woman sitting at one of the tables with two guys, obviously brothers by the same shade of hair that I saw the backs of. They looked like they might be her sons or something. The woman seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place her, because she was so far back in the restaurant, partially hidden from view by a plant, as were the two shaggy haired guys.

Then one of the guys turned around to call for a waiter. He was the shorter of the two, and when he locked eyes with me, I recognized him instantly. He had the same green eyes as his brother and father. It was Al Potter. He smiled and nodded to me, then turned back around. I saw the woman, Mrs. Potter, crane her neck to look at me, and I noticed James stiffen.

I groaned. "Everything allright, Alex?" Ali said as she sat down next to me.

"Yep, I just have to use the loo. Be right back." I said, getting up quickly. I walked to the back of the restaurant and went into the first restroom I could find. There was a line of sinks along the wall, and two entry ways on each side of the row of sinks that led to some stalls as far as I could see. I walked over to a sink and washed my hands, splashing some cold water on my face to get rid of the blush that had crept up my neck.

So what if James happened to be here? So what if Al and Mrs. Potter were here too? Al had already acknowledged me, so I didn’t need to confront them again. They probably wouldn’t even see me again once I got my table. The door opened, then shut again. Footsteps came from behind me as I continued to wash my hands. I looked up, then immediately wished I hadn’t.

"James, what are you doing in the girl’s bathroom?" I asked, confused.

He looked just as confused as I was, if not more. "What do you mean? This isn’t the girl’s bathroom. I should be asking you what you are doing here, in the men’s room." His eyebrows creased.

"No, this is the girl’s room." I insisted.

"No, it isn’t, you’re just too stubborn to admit it, and I’m guessing that you haven’t noticed the urinals either.

Darn. I glared at him.

"What are you doing here anyways?" He asked.

"Well James, sometimes, when someone has gotta go, they gotta go." I explained as simply as I could.

"I meant here, as in the restaurant." He clarified, rolling his eyes.

"I’m here with my cousin. She insists on taking me to brunch now and again." I explained. "Why do you care so much anyway?"

"No particular reason." He shrugged. "I’m here with my mum and Al. Al reckoned he saw you."

"Mmm. I thought that was him." I pondered.

"That’s a nice blazer you have on there." He said, somewhat awkwardly.

"Thank you." I said, just as awkwardly. "That’s a nice… um shirt." I said, looking at his collared shirt that he wore without a tie.

"Is that the same as the ones you have to wear to work?" He asked, looking at it still.

"Yes." I said, crossing my arms over my chest. He looked up. "I just happened to grab a couple extra ones while I had to get the ones for work." I explained.

"Ah, I see." He shifted weight to his other foot, looking at the floor tiles. "Err…, listen, about earlier this week…" He began awkwardly.

"Oh, yeah, I suppose we should talk about that, um…" I said, blushing.

"Yeah, err, while I was hoping that we could just-"

"Forget about it? Yeah that’s what I thought." I said, cutting him off. I bit my lip nervously.

"Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. We should just, forget about it. I mean if that’s what you want." He said, looking up at me.

"Yep, that works for me!" I said, almost too chipper. "Well, unless…" I trailed off.

"Unless what?" He said, his brow creasing. I stepped closer, having no idea what I was doing.

"We could just…" I stepped even closer, despite my internal protests to run out of there, pronto.

Before I could stop myself, my head was slightly tilted, centimeters away from his. I could feel my heart pounding, his breath blowing against my face. We were like that one second, and the next, we were kissing. Again.

Drat.

Things were heating up, his hands tangled in my hair, mine wrapped around his neck. I was just thinking how lucky we were that this bathroom was empty when we heard the doorknob turn.

"Shit, James, I’m not supposed to be in here." I whispered, panicked. The door opened, and James pulled me back quickly and shoved me into a stall with him.

"Here, stand up on here." He whispered, helping me stand up on the toliet seat. I was now standing about three inches taller than him.

"James?" A voice called. "Are you in here?" It was Al. Of course.

"Uh, yeah, I’m sort of busy, I’ll be back in a few minutes." He said, looking at me, obviously trying not to laugh.

"I told her he’d be occupied." I heard Al mumble.

Once we heard the door close, we burst out laughing. That was just so random, and for some reason, incredibly funny.

Oh, hahaha. We are not on anything! Really. Although I am still standing on a toilet with James hands resting on my waist, us leaning into one another, laughing like no tomorrow. And it was probably one of the most natural positions I had ever been in.

We sort of trailed off at the same time, staring at each other. "Well, I suppose I should get back soon." James said quietly.

"Yeah, same. My cousin is probably looking for me." I said, not wanting to leave and hoping that he would kiss me again.

"Yeah…" He trailed off. "Er, here." He helped me step down without falling into the toilet bowl, as I normally would, me being my clumsy self.

"Thanks." I said. "I should probably go first. You can head out in another minute. Don’t want people staring."

He scratched his neck nervously. "Yeah, see you later then."

"Yep. Catch ya later Alligator."

He chuckled at the old saying we used to say to each other every day when we were little. "After a while, crocodile." He smiled.

I grinned back, then left the loo, searching for Alisha. She was seated not too far off at a table, talking on the phone again. I headed over, taking a seat across from her, noticing that I was situated so that I could see Al’s face right behind Ali’s head. She smiled at my presence, acknowledging me. I picked up a menu to order, barely noticing James slip into a seat next to Al, so that I could see him and make clear eye contact, which we did as he sat down. I grinned behind my menu, holding back laughter at what had just gone on in the bathroom.

"There you are James, mum was getting worried about you." I heard Al say.

"Really no reason to. I was just in the bathroom." He said.

"Yeah, for nearly fifteen minutes." His mother said. "What the hell were you doing in there that took twenty minutes? I swear James, if you cause trouble today, I will be very disappointed in your lack of maturity." She scolded him. I held back laughter, silently shaking behind my menu.

"Relax, mum. It was nothing of that sort." He said, attempting to calm her.

"And what sort was it of?" She asked.

"That’s between me and my bladder, I’m afraid." He said, grinning. Mrs. Potter sighed.

I made the mistake of looking over at James, who was already looking at me. We made eye contact, and that was the end of it. I cracked up immediately, earning a quizzical and concerned look from Ali, who was still on the phone.

Then I tried to adjust my position on the smooth white silk cushion and slipped, causing my laughter to subside.

Of course it would be me who fell out of my chair. Ali made a sort of half-scream, half-squawk, causing everyone within a twenty-foot premise to look over at us, and me, sprawled on the floor with my leg sticking up across my seat. James and Al stood up to get a better look, their eyes concerning. Then James broke out laughing once I appeared to be okay. This caused me to crack up. Then Al began to chuckle, covering it up with a cough. Soon it was just the three of us laughing while everyone silently stared.

"I’m okay, everyone, go back to your waffles. Please." I said, between laughter. James and Al came over and helped me up, while Ali was looking on, confused.

I refused their help, standing up on my own, saying "I’m fine" repeatedly.

"Really guys, I’m fine." I said, dusting off my jeans, and readjusting my blazer.

"If you say so." Said James, chuckling. I glared at him. Al looked between the two of us suspiciously. "So, you guys work together now, is that right?" He asked.

"Yeah." I answered. "Hey, how are you here?" I asked. "Shouldn’t you be at Hogwarts?"

"Yeah, but I got out for the afternoon."

"Hmph." I grunted. "Wish I could have done that."
 

 

 

 







A/N: Hey! I hope you enjoyed this little chapter! I also hope that you review! Pretty please!!! I even have a question for you to answer: Would you like to see James' POV? It's a yes or no question-very easy! Let me know! I'll try to update pretty soon!
 
 
 


Chapter 4: Problem #4
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling.
 

 




And the winds will change
Straighten out your track
When you least expect it
It'll come right back
And you are all alone
       The Winds by Jessie Baylin
 

 






"Potter! Cover me! I'm going for it!" I shouted

“Got it!” He shouted in response, dodging a hex and shooting another to counter it towards the attacker.

I ran towards the target, intent on returning back to my team successful. We were thirty minutes into our Wednesday training session, in which we practiced for basic field work, such as securing a target in a field of aggressive defense men. James and I were on the same practice team, and had agreed to have each other’s backs during these sorts of things. We seemed to work well together and were sufficiently improving as a team, and as proof, I hadn’t been hexed once today, while on the first day of field training, I had been hit with at least six stinging jinxes. It had not been pretty.

I sprinted across the field, hexes colliding behind my back as I grew closer to the old shoe that was posing as the day’s target item. I snatched it, ducking and rolling to avoid a curse that narrowly missed my arm, instead brushing against my shoulder, ripping my blazer. Damn. Now I needed to bribe my neighbor to sew it up. Again.

I got up and sprinted back to James and the other five people on my team, screaming with excitement, as it had taken us thirty two minutes and fifteen seconds to complete the challenge, beating our previous record by seventeen minutes.

James clapped me on the back as my team surrounded me, showering me with praise. I smiled; glad to have finally been the one to come back with the trophy. It was usually one of the older trainees, or the more experienced ones who brought it back.

“Nice work Lex.” James smirked at me.

“Thanks.” I grinned back.

“I reckon we’re getting better at this teamwork thing.” He reckoned.

“Yeah it’ll come in handy for the retreat this weekend.” I said. “Rumour has it that we’re partners for some of the teamwork exercises.”

Alright, let me explain. This weekend, we have a department retreat that happens once a year. Everyone in the department besides those needed for emergencies (and those smart enough to come up with a good enough excuse to get out of it) will pile into a huge wilderness center in northern Scotland where we will stay overnight for two nights while participating in team bonding sessions and activities.

My definition of a retreat is this:

Retreat: (n.) An excuse made up by superiors to encourage “inner group bonding”; includes sitting in small groups talking about your feelings and playing games like the human knot, which I have never actually been able to get out of.

Anyways…

“Oh yeah?” grinned James. “Where did you hear that from?”

“A little birdy with a huge mustache whose name rhymes with Mary might have told me.”

“Gary?” He seemed skeptical. “You seem to have him wrapped around your finger these days.”

“Well, let’s just say that I’m great at a little method called ‘sucking up to superiors’.”

He rolled his eyes. “You should have been in Slytherin.”

Cue me bursting into laughter.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

He just looked at me warily. I eventually calmed down when I began to choke and James had to resort to slapping me on the back. Hard.

“Man, that, was, funny.” I said breathlessly.

“Uh huh.” He was still looking at me like I was insane. “You okay?”

Ha, he actually seemed concerned for my sanity.

“Oh yeah, brilliant. That joke actually just made my day.” I pondered for a second. “Well actually, breaking our team’s record in field practice took that prize, but your joke made my five minutes.”

He just rolled his eyes, obviously done being concerned for me. Which is good, as I certainly don’t need his bloody concern. I am an independent person after all. And a Gryffindor, as I just blatantly proved. I mean, I was the girl who would T.P. the Slytherins on a whim. Seeing their faces at breakfast the next morning was like seeing a little kid’s face light up on Christmas, except, you know, the opposite facial expressions.

Hahaha. It’s funny just remembering it.

“What are you smiling at?” James asked, bringing me back to present time.

“Oh nothing.” I said serenely, in a private moment of bliss.

“So, would you like to tell me why I found a snake in my pencil drawer this morning?” He asked, changing subject completely.

 I smirked, biting my lip to keep myself from breaking out into laughter.

“You found a snake in your drawer?” I said, acting appropriately surprised. “And you didn’t tell me?”

“Frankly, I didn’t think you’d be of much help.” He said, sighing. “In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that you had something to do with it.” He looked at me pointedly.

“Little old mwah? Never.” I said, acting scandalized at the thought, grinning behind my hand.

He sighed. “Whatever. I already know it was you.”

“James Sirius Potter! I would never do such a thing!” I gasped.

He rolled his eyes yet again.

“Oh, and by the way, I would look out for more. Whoever did it probably had the whole lot of snakes that you originally stole from me, which was about seven. Good luck!” I called over my shoulder as I left the training room for lunch with Roxy, ignoring his calls of indignation.

 

 

 

 

 











After lunch, I returned to the office, intent on doing some paperwork. It had been a good, productive lunch break, as will be revealed shortly.

I went and sat at my desk, intent on being productive. James was nowhere to be found. About ten minutes into a file, there was a shout and a banging sound. Then a very loud expletive in the voice of our favorite slacker.

James burst into our desk area, levitating a snake in mid-air, which kept slashing around and thrashing out. He cleared his throat loudly.

“Oh, hello Jimmy. That’s a nice new pet you have there.” I said nonchalantly. “You should name it Pete. It’s a nice name for a snake.”

“Care to explain why there was a snake in the men’s restroom?”

“How would I know what goes on in the men’s loo?” I asked innocently.

He glared at me. “Well it’s not like it would be the first time you’ve wandered on into a men’s room.”

Darn. He got me. “Honestly James, I don’t know where you come up with these wild accusations.”

A crowd had begun to form around Me, James and Pete.

“You little conniving….”

Unfortunately for James, James was not able to finish his sentence because Gary chose that moment to wander over.

“What the devil is going o-“

Unfortunately for Gary, Pete chose that moment to lash his tail out, smacking Gary in the face.

Unfortunately for James and Alex, we were in deep shit now.

James and I made brief panicked eye contact, before scrambling to attend to the unconscious Gary.

“You…. Two…. Are… in … deep… shit.” He said, voicing our thoughts, before blacking out again.

And that, is how James and Alex found themselves sitting in the St. Mungo’s waiting room an hour later, bored out of their minds, waiting for Gary to come to so that he could fire them both.

“This is so your fault James Sirius Potter.”

“My fault? You’re the one who let a snake loose in the office!”

“While you’re the one who hit Gary over the head with the snake!”

“Yeah, because you put him in the men’s room!”

“Which I only did because you stole my snakes in the first place!”

“Yeah, because I knew you were going to do something stupid with them, and you did! And I only did it because you glued my glasses to my face!”

“Which I only did because, because you…” All right, so technically it is my fault. “Because you’re a prat!”

He rolled his eyes. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, we’re both going to get fired!”

“Why are you so nervous then? It’s not like you’ll have any trouble getting a new job! Heck, you don’t even need a job, your family’s loaded! Meanwhile, I’ll be out on the streets, pounding the pavement for real work because I’ll have no money as a lonely waitress and therefore be homeless, as I don’t have a family to welcome me back into a cozy mansion!” I ranted.

“Hey! I need this job too! And if you’re homeless, then maybe that’s how things were meant to end up!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I yelled.

“It just means that everything happens for a reason.” He said. “If you’re meant to get fired, then so be it. If you’re meant to live on the streets for a year, then you’ll live on the streets for a year. I happen to believe firmly that every little thing happens for a reason.” His voice was calmer now, less angry. I was puzzled by the turn in this conversation.

“What, so me being homeless is ‘meant to be’ at this point?” I asked, irritated.

“Look, some things are inevitable.” He went on, tetchily. “Some things happen because fate wants them to happen.”

“Oh, and since when do you believe in fate?” I asked. This was getting ridiculous.

“Since… since…” He stumbled. “I don’t bloody know do I!?”

“Well, I’ll bet that you do know, because the answer is never!” I shouted. “The James I know would never believe in something as stupid as ‘Fate’!”

“The James you know?” Now he just looked ticked. “Don’t pretend like you all of a sudden know me, as if the past eight years haven’t happened! You think you know what my life is like now? Do you? Well I can assure you that it sure as hell isn’t as great as you think it is, and I know that your life sucks worse than goat shit, but since when have you ever cared? You used to be the girl who wouldn’t care! You never whined about losing your parents! Ever! Not once! Not about your house being gone, or losing your dog, or losing everything you had! I’ve seen you cry once when we were five years old! So why now? Why complain now, when it’s actually your fault that your life is screwed up!”

He took a deep breath and stormed out of the reception area, towards the coffee room. I sighed and sat down tiredly. I sat and pondered for about three minutes, during which I couldn’t sit still, knowing that James was in the other room, fuming about me. Don’t ask me why, but I hated it when he was mad at me. Not pissed or annoyed, but actually generally mad. James is actually a generally happy person, doesn’t let much get to him. In fact, he’s only been this mad at me about five times, ever, the past four of them from when we were in our last years at Hogwarts.

I sighed dejectedly, got up, and went into the coffee room where he was mulling over a steaming cup of black coffee. I quickly poured myself the same thing, (I practically live off of black coffee and tea) and plopped down next to him.

“This is the sixth time you’ve ever been mad at me.” I said, sipping my coffee. “Ever.” I took another sip. “In all our lives.”

I took yet another sip, peering over to see what his expression was. It was blank, expressionless. I sighed.

“It’s true you know. What you said. I’ve been complaining a lot lately. Been a stick in the mud, really. I tell myself that I have a reason to be, but that’s bull piss. I have no reason. It’s not the worst my life has ever been, that’s for sure, and there are still plenty of people out there whose lives have been way worse than mine. I may have next to nothing besides my puke small apartment and a couple of potted plants and a mattress with sheets on it, but there are people with way worse problems than that.

“And you’re right. I really don’t know you anymore. We used to know everything about each other. You’re still the only one who’s ever seen me cry. But I do know that you’re a Chudley Cannons maniac, are obsessed with Quidditch in general, hate tofu, love the color blue, hate the color green, love to eat waffles when you get upset, you used to date that one slut whose name I can’t remember but you were infatuated with her for a good month when she broke up with you, I know that you used to think I was pretty, you love your siblings, secretly love your parents, secretly hate your cousin Louis because he tries to beat you at everything you do, you used to think that whatever happened was our own damn fault, used to believe that Thestrals were made up until you realized that I could see them, Teddy’s your hero even though you always say that it’s your childhood dog. You love the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Marley. You secretly love the muggle sport football, and used to play it with me in the summer. You used to love spending time with me, you used to love anything that I made you try, except tapioca because it’s absolutely disgusting. And you used to love me.” I looked at him briefly and saw that he was staring back at me.

“I used to be your best friend. I was for ten f-ing years, and you were mine too.” I finished softly.

He looked away and sighed. I could tell that he wasn’t mad anymore, not really. But he still deserved to hear what I had to say next.

“And I’m sorry. For everything.” I reached out and circled my arm around his shoulders. “And I mean everything.”

He smiled and put his arm around me too. “You’re forgiven.” He looked at me, his bright green eyes burning into mine. I came in closer, hugging myself to his chest, relieved beyond relief that he had forgiven.

And I couldn’t help but smile too. Even though I might lose the job that had kept me alive for the past month, even though I could lose what little things I had, I had James again. Somewhat. But somewhat was better than not at all.

I looked up at his face. He was still smiling, his expression otherwise curious. “Friends?” I asked.

“Friends.” He agreed.

His expression flickered for a second, faster than I could catch. If only I could tell what was going through his mind.

 

 

 

 

 











Man, if only I had a Knut for every time she made me wonder what was going through her mind. I’d be a rich man, I decided as I looked down at her face, content against my shoulder. The sight of her made me smile.

Alex tended to do that a lot. She didn’t like to show weakness, ever, so her trusting me like this was big. It was a nice change. It sure was a lot more fun than her gluing my glasses to my face, as genius as I have to admit that was.

She sighed, her expression flickering, showing that she was thinking of something else now. Something a little sad maybe. I hoped it wasn’t too sad. I liked it when she was happy. I haven’t seen her truly happy since before the accident. I’d seen flickers of it in the past month, but those flickers were only flickers, which couldn’t compare to the radiance of her true happiness.

Wow, I sound like a complete sap in that last little bit there. Let me assure you right here, right now, that James Potter is not a sap. Repeat after me:
James Sirius Potter is not a sap, but a supermegafoxyawesomehot manly man.

If that doesn’t evaporate your doubts, refer back to the previous paragraph and repeat the steps.

Yes, now rather than later people.

“Mr. Potter and Ms. Johnson?” A receptionist called, bringing me back to the present.

Alex sprang up off my chest. “We're here.”

“Gary is ready to talk to you both.” She said, holding the door open for us as we found our way out.

I gulped. This ought to be good. Alex practically ran to Gary’s room, me following her as best I could.

We reached the door, and Alex looked at me nervously. I nodded gravely and she turned, knocking softly on the door. We heard a gruff voice say, “Come in”.

Alex led the way again, and we entered the room, stopping at the foot of Gary’s bed side-by-side nervously, Alex picking at the dirt under her nails and biting her lip like she always does when she’s nervous.

Gary spoke first.

“You two are idiots.” He began. Here goes. “I can’t believe that you were let into our department. You were lucky that my cheek was split open and not my eye.” His mustache jiggled as he glared us down.

“You two better fix whatever rivalry you have going on by the end of this weekend or you’ll be fired for sure.” He looked at us menacingly. Then what he said registered in my brain and in Alex’s too.

“You mean we’re not fired?!” She yelled, looking up and meeting his eyes.

He grumbled. “And fire the two best recruits I’ve seen since the Battle of Hogwarts? You two messed up this time, but-“

He wasn’t able to finish his sentence because Alex chose this moment to tackle him in a hug.

“Uumph.” Was all that came out his mouth while Alex was currently yelling ecstatically.

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’m not going to be homeless after all! I’m not going to live on the streets as a dirt poor waitress after all! Did you hear that James? We’re keeping our jobs!”

Gary was spluttering. Alex seemed to notice and climbed off him gently.

“Oops. I’m so sorry Gary! Thank you! Thank you!” She said.

“Yeah, just get the hell out of here so I don’t have to see either of your faces.” He grunted.

I then proceeded to drag Alex out of the room, smiling as she jumped up and down excitedly. I smiled too, relieved that I got to keep my job. And that Alex wasn’t homeless of course.

As I closed the door to Gary’s room and stepped away, something flew at me that and I smelt something like a combination of vanilla, wood and grass, as the thing was nearly knocking me over.

I realized that it was, of course, Alex.

“Oh my God! I’m so relieved I could kiss you right now James!” She exclaimed without thinking.

Then she realized what she said and that several people had heard and were watching curiously. She blushed, jumping down from me.

“Well, not really, since there are a bunch of people staring at me right now and that would be completely inappropriate, and not to mention completely awkward, and-“

“Hey.” I interrupted. “It’s okay. I know what you mean.” She looked relieved all over again. “So, you hungry?” I asked casually.

“Starving.” She admitted.

“Want to come get Chinese with me?” I said, testing the waters a bit. “I’m not really ready to go back to my flat right now, and I’m tired of pizza and ramen noodles.”

She thought about it briefly. “Yeah sure, what the heck? I know a good place downtown. We can take the muggle underground. You ever taken it?”

“Nope.” I admitted.

“Well then come on!” She said, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the exit. “Let’s go!”

She pulled me out into muggle London and down into the first station she saw. She led me through the turnstiles, showing me how they work. They’re actually pretty cool. And they’re fun to walk through.

She pulled me through the gates onto a train headed towards the downtown area. We held onto handholds attached to the ceiling and all of a sudden we were moving. Fast.

Alex laughed.

“What’s so funny?” I said, scrunching my eyebrows together.

“Your face.” She said, laughing. There it was, that true happiness, back again, not just flittering away like it usually did.

“Your face is funny.” I shot back, laughing with her. It was hard not to laugh; her laugh just did that to people.

Now she was really laughing, swinging into me, while people stared at the two lunatics laughing on the underground.

“That was awful.” She said, breathless.

“Your face is awful.” I said between laughs.

“Your mom’s face is awful!” She said, cracking up all over again.

“What’s that about my comeback being awful?” I asked, laughing, feeling almost drunk on her laughter. It just kind of consumed me, like a fire in my chest. A warm blazing feeling.

Not that I’m being sappy again. Because that was definitely not sappy at all. Whatsoever.

She grinned at me, leaning even closer, so that my face was only about a centimeter away from hers. I smiled back, leaning in to close the gap when the train jolted and we smashed foreheads with each other.

“Ow!” She said indignantly, holding her forehead. Her expression was disgruntled, but she was blushing. I couldn’t help but laugh at her funny expression, despite the pounding going on inside my brain.

Then she smiled, rolling her eyes, showing her nice white teeth. Well, I mean they weren’t that white, but she obviously brushed them at least once a day.

“Come on loser.” She smiled, pulling me off the train, past the turnstiles in a whole different station, up the stairs into a busy downtown muggle London street. It was about eight thirty so the lights were all on, and the city was lit up nicely. Alex practically skipped down the road, pulling me with her by the hand. Finally, we reached a tiny little shop on the corner of the street with lanterns hanging outside, lit up with little designs on the sides.

She pushed open the door, a little bell ringing. We walked into the tiny little restaurant which happened to be very quiet on this Wednesday night. There was a short older woman at the door to greet us.

“Hello Alex, good to see you. Who is this?” She said to Alex, looking at me.

“This is my friend James.” She said.

“Nice to meet you.” I nodded.

“Where do you want to sit today?” She asked.

Alex considered. “How about by the window? I haven’t sat in that one over there before.” She pointed to a table next to the window next to the door.

The lady smiled and set down menus for us to use at the table. Alex let go of my hand, sitting down at the table.

“What was that about?” I asked, curious. It was times like this that I wish I could read her mind.

“I come here a lot.” She began.

“Yeah, I figured that.” I said. “But what about the whole seating thing?”

“I like to sit somewhere different every time. I usually sit by the window on that side, or as close as I can to it, or somewhere close to the kitchens.” She smiled looking around, pointing out the various places.

“I see. So how come you like this place so much?”

“It’s fantastic here. The food’s great, the people are brilliant, and it’s just a great place to sit and think, you know?” Her expression was almost dreamy, but more serious and peaceful. It astounded me often how down to earth Alex was, how she didn’t care about how she looked, and how she didn’t need much for her to be content. How she had nearly nothing, yet here she was, happy again. With me.

“Makes sense.” I decided.

“What about you?” She asked. “Do you have anywhere like this that you usually go to?”

The question kind of threw me off. “Not really.” I thought. “I like to go to this one park though, its right behind my flat, you can see it out my window. It’s actually really nice there. Looks really cool in the winter too, when the muggles put little twinkly lights up on the trees. And for New Year’s eve, they have a sort of cool lantern festival that looks fantastic, the sky and the park all lit up from the lanterns floating around.”

She smiled. “Sounds nice. You’ll have to show me sometime. I’d like to see that.”

I grinned back. “Yeah I will. Promise.” 

“Good.” She decided.

Then the nice lady came over and took our orders. Alex helped me pick out some dish with a bunch of meat in it, while she chose some sort of spicy noodle thing with chicken and peppers and curry paste that she had been meaning to try. She ordered rice too, and two iced teas with lime. My mouth was watering, and we were both starving, so she told the lady to surprise us with a third dish.

“So, your siblings enjoying school?” She asked conversationally. Alex seemed to like Al and Lily, she just didn’t really know them very well, but she kept up an interest in them while she was at Hogwarts.

“While, Al’s enjoying sixth year, and Lily’s, well, Lily.” I said, hoping she would remember how spirited my sister could be.

“Ah, I see.” She said, seeming to understand. “Are they doing Quidditch?”

“Yeah, Al’s as good as ever, and Lily’s proving herself as a pretty good chaser.”

“I bet. She has the right amounts of ferocity and energy.”

“Kind of like you then.” I said, and she smiled.

“I think I had more of the ferocity then the energy, but they work somewhat similarly.” She shrugged.

“You were a great chaser.”

“We worked well together, didn’t we?” She said. “When we weren’t fighting that is.” She added.

“Still do.” I said truthfully, grinning. She smiled back at me.

The food came shortly, the surprise dish some sort of shrimp.

 I shall describe the food in no more than three words. Best. Damn. Food.

Alex was right, of course. The food was brilliant. My meat dish thing was great, and it was hard to get past the spiciness of Alex’s noodle dish, as it was flaming hot, but it was good past the screaming.

She laughed as I stood up quickly, knocking my chair backwards, my face steaming up and screaming for water.

“Water just makes it worse, silly.” She rolled her eyes, laughing, and forced me to sit down and eat a bit of rice. She smiled, shaking her head while continuing to eat the Death Valley on a plate.

We continued talking, and laughing past the point where we were both finished. She had moved her chair closer to mine, and we talked for what must have been an hour. It was amazing, just spending this time with her, getting to know her again, without the pranking and the snogging.

Oh great, now that I brought it up, I can’t stop thinking about it. Snogging her is honestly fantastic. Definitely the best kissing I’ve ever experienced. Of course, that’s all she sees it as. Snogging, that is. Now I can’t stop staring at her lips, when they’re moving, when they’re not. I can’t stop thinking about how they taste and feel.

We finally get up to leave around eleven o’ clock as the store is closing. I walk Alex to her flat a couple of blocks away, and as we stop in front of her door, I can’t help but reach out and touch her soft lips during a moment of silence. She stares up at me, eyes wide, and we lean in. I want to kiss her, but I can’t. We’re actually friends now, and I don’t want her to freak out on me.

So I settle for a kiss on the forehead, a goodbye, and a smile, which she returns. I make sure she gets into her flat okay, then turn and walk down the street alone, the street wet from a rainstorm earlier today, the light from the streetlamps reflecting in the wet pavement. I walk for a while, sorting things out through my brain. I don’t realize how close I am to my own home until I’m standing in the park I was telling her about, the one behind my flat.

I can’t help but wonder what Alex is doing right now, what she’s thinking about. Maybe she’s thinking about my lips on hers, or how much she loves spending time with me, like I am of her.

But chances are, she’s probably thinking the opposite, and I’m just delusional, distracted by her pretty smile and soft lips, as well as how happy she was tonight, and how strong she’s always been.

But even worse than that, the better chances are, she’s probably already moved on, and is thinking about Quidditch or Roxy’s latest dilemma, as she’s already forgotten how nice this night really was, and I’m still hanging on to this dream of a night.



 

 

 

 

 









 

 

A/N: Thanks for reading, as always! Kind of a meloncholy ending, but look at the length of this chapter!! I was really excited about this chapter, because it kind of came out of nowhere and it was a big deal for James and Alex to go through this.
Soooo...... James! What did you think??  

They're 'friends' now! But are they really? What do you think they are? Let me know what you think that means, I'm curious to know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 P.S. Loved all the reviews this story got last time! made my day! Love all you people that reviewed!







 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 5: Problem #5
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And your heart's against my chest, your lips pressed in my neck
I'm falling for your eyes, but they don't know me yet
And with a feeling I'll forget, I'm in love now
Kiss me like you wanna be loved

         Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran

 




"James, will you stop figeting so much and just wait nicely?" I asked, aggravated, yet again, as James and I sat with Marina and Murphy in King’s Cross Station. We were waiting for the arrival of our train that would take us to the huge retreat center up north in who-the-hell-knows-where. The four of us trainees would be considered a ‘team’ as far as kitchen duties, bunking, and the bathroom went. James and I had already been assigned as partners, and we would be working with our actual department team for the actual team activities.

"Sorry." He said. He stopped for about, oh, 55 seconds before tapping his leg, bouncing it up and down quickly.

"James."

"Sorry." This time he stayed still for 23 seconds, then he began to drum his fingers on the bench.

"James!"

"Oh, sorry."

He began whistling 13 seconds later.

"JAMES!" I was completely ticked now.

"Sorry!" He looked sorry too.

"Why don’t you just go over to the coffee shop over there and get some tea for us." I suggested, wanting to get rid of him for at least a minute.

"All right." He sighed and got up.

Only twenty four minutes to go, ladies and gentlemen.

"So…" I began, attempting to make conversation with Murphy or Marina, who was currently filing her nails. "I hear they’re going to have a big scavenger hunt in the woods this weekend." I said, attempting at making interesting conversation.

"Hm." Marina said, obviously not listening.

"So, Murphy. You excited for a weekend filled with team bondage and sharing a bathroom?" I asked.

He just gave me a look that said what-do-you-think? Like it was obvious he was not excited at all.

"Well, I for one, am feeling quite optimistic about a weekend camped out in the woods." Said James, coming back with tea and coffees for us. Me and him with plain black coffee, Marina a very watery ‘herbal’ tea that she asked for, and Murphy with a nice Earl Grey.

"And why is that?" I asked, not very interested.

"I happen to like nature, and free holidays, even if it includes sharing a bathroom with you lovely people and kitchen duty."

"Well, since when are you so optimistic?" I asked.

"I just am."

"Hmmm." I said, not really thinking about what I was supposed to be saying. Gary came ambling over to us looking annoyed.

"Train’s here." He grunted, stumbling over to the edge of the platform where a big train had just pulled in.

I snatched up my backpack and climbed onto the train along with the stream of aurors all from the department.

James followed suit, with Murphy and Marina not far behind. The four of us ended up sharing a table in one of the train's cars.

"Anyone up for exploding snap?" James asked, a minute out of the station.

And there went my idea of a quiet train ride where I could read or sleep for most of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 








The train stopped, and I looked out the window to see white. Everything was white, because of the snow that covered the tiny train station in the middle of nowhere and the bright, yet cloudy sky that blended in perfectly with the roaming expanse of snow I was looking at.

"Where the hell are we?" James asked, tactless. "We're in the bloody middle of nowhere! Where is this retreat center?"

"Calm down James. It's just snow. And I'm sure the center is somewhere out there." I said, throughougly aggravated from the nineteen rounds of exploding snap and the two extremely awkward conversations with Murphy and the fifteen conversations with Marina, who was getting on my nerves as well. Not to mention dealing with James the ENTIRE trip.

"Yeah, well you actually like snow. I feel obliged to point out that we could be stranded in the middle of Antartica, and the only thing that would tell us differently is the lack of penguins." He said back.

The whole department crowded onto the platform, all thirty-seven of us, most of the department made up of older men dressed in jeans and jackets or coats with the occaisonal tough woman. Gary looked like he was going to say something to the four of us trainees about scouting a place to go when he was interuppted, thank goodness, by Mr. Potter.

"So, I was told that the center is about three-quarters of a kilometer in that direction." He gestured to the right of the station, the opposite direction of where the train was now heading, without us on it. He was looking at a scrap of parchment with some directions scribbled on it. "Well then, feel free to lead the way, James, Alex." He said, nodding to me and James, who happened to be standing closest to the end of the platform.

I grabbed James by the arm and gracefully jumped (by which I mean stumbled and hopped) of the platform into the huge snowbank. I landed in the snowbank in a patch of snow about three feet deep, effectively burying myself in snow up to my thighs. James landed next to me with a thump, as he landed himself on his butt, burying himself up to his neck in snow.

"Come on then." I said as I hoisted James up. Others were hopping over the edge into or over the snowbank, and were beginning to march along through the snow. James stood up easily, brushing snow out of his hair and face. We began to trudge along towards the back of the group, not really talking too much.

"Secret or Dare."

I sighed. Fantastic. "Secret." I decided, a little wary of what sorts of stupid dares he could come up with in the midst of all this snow.

"Do you honestly like all this snow?" He asked.

"Yes."

"Even though we're currently trudging through snow three feet deep to get to a stupid work retreat one kilometer away?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

I had to think about it, but once the answer came, it made perfect sense. "It's just perfect." I looked out at the barenness of the landscape. "The vastness of the white, how it just goes on forever. The coldness, how it drifts down gently, landing everywhere. I love waking up around this time back home to the first snowfall of the year. It was the best at Hogwarts. Snow is fun, it means the Holidays are coming. There's something so lovely about it." I shrugged. "I just love it."

"Hmm." He looked at me. "Don't get me wrong, I love snow, I just haven't met a lot of people, females basically, who like snow. I knew you did as a kid, and still at Hogwarts, you would love playing Quidditch in it and having snowball fights and stuff."

"Yeah, those were good times. I was able to just kind of forget about everything that was going on with my personal life and just commit to Quidditch, or get wrapped up in snow-bombing your dorm."

"And now it's harder?" He scowled.

"Well, it's a lot harder to forget about my family and stuff while I'm lying awake in my apartment at night, alone. No one to talk to but myself."

"Why don't you call anyone?"

"Roxanne doesn't bother with a muggle phone, and I don't know anyone who would be awake at three in the morning in the middle of the week, ready to talk."

"You could call me, you know, my name's in the directory. I'm usually up, as that's about the time my roommate stumbles in, drunk. I'm the one who has to shove him in the shower and put him to bed so that he doesn't get fired, so that he can manage his half of rent."

"That's awful. Thanks though." I smiled at the thought of talking to James when I can't sleep. "So, your turn. Secret or Dare?"

"Dare, definitely." He grinned.

I grinned back. He'd be regretting his decision. "Throw three snowballs at Gary."

He laughed. "That's it? Thank god, I thought it would actually be hard, knowing your dares."

"I wasn't finished. Throw three snowballs at Gary, now, and during every meal during the weekend, and he can't know that it's you."

"Still not that bad, as long as I don't get caught."

"As long as you don't get caught." I agreed.

We reached the center about a half hour later, a massive log cabin resort sort of building, nestled right up to the back of some woods. Huge woods, actually, that seemed to go on forever. It was a nice place, it seemed, a sort of lodge the ministry had that they used to send departments on retreats once a year.

We all padded into the cavernous reception area where Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley (another auror very high up in the department, a war hero, not to mention James's godfather) checked us in, the only group for the weekend. We were given our room assignments, me with Marina and James with Murphy. I was looking forward to rooming with Marina almost as much as I was looking forward to sharing a bathroom with James and Mayonaisse Murphy.

Marina carted her huge suitcase alongside me with my lightweight backpack, grumbling incoherently about the long treck up to the lodge. Her nomally infuriatingly bubbly and peppy attitude had deflated like a huge balloon. She was still in a sour mood, grumbling, as I unlocked the door across the hall from James and Murphy, a loo to the right of us, in between the two rooms. As the interns, we were put at the end of the hallway with the only two rooms without a bathroom, meaning all four of us would be sharing the hall loo.

"Oh thank god!" She cried as I finally opened the door, the stubborn lock and key taking forever. She rushed past me into the room, carting her huge suitcase to the twin bed furthest from the window. "I'll be taking this one, hope you don't mind." She dumped the suitcase on her bed, then left the room saying, "Right, I have to pee like a dog, so don't touch my stuff while I'm gone." She said, awfully tart about it. I dumped my bag on the floor by the other bed and went over to the window.

I pulled back the curtains to see a spectacular view of the woods, the pine trees dusted spectacularily with snow, birds chirping out of the branches. At least the room had a view. Besides that and the two beds, there was a counter with a mirror and a table and four chairs, a dresser and that was it. Marina came in and began putting all her stuff from her suitcase into the drawers of the dresser.

Once she ran out of drawers, she closed the suitcase and set it on top of the dresser then turned to me. "Right, we have an hour and three quarters until dinner is served. I'm going to take a nap, make sure to wake me up in exactly one hour so I can get ready." She said. I nodded my understanding. She put some headphones on and laid down on her bed.

"Aw man, you two got a way better view than we did." Said James, coming in through the slightly open door. Marina appeared to not hear him, her headphones too loud.

I rolled my eyes. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, nothing. Just bored."

"Where's Murphy?"

"Back in our room."

"How is Murphy?"

"He's actually a rather nice bloke, you know, just shy. Although, I did go into the loo a minute ago and it stank to high heavens. It was not very pretty. I didn't actually see Murphy go in, as he just said he wanted to meet with Gary or something."

I paused. "I don't think that was Murphy. I can't have been. The first person to use it was Marina, and I haven't heard anyone use it since." My voice dropping to a whisper, as Marina was still in the room, just not paying attention. My face broke out into a grin, and so did James once he realized what I was saying.

"Oh man, it was really bad in there." He laughed. "That's funny, that really is."

"No wonder she's been in a pissy mood all afternoon." I figured.

"Yeah. Hey, Murphy and I were gonna play exploding snap, want to join us?" He asked, hopefully.

"Well, it's not like I have anything else to do." I decided.

James and Murphy's room was exactly the same as our room, just with a different view out the window. Murphy was a pretty cool guy. He turned out to have one of those quiet senses of humor that you only hear if you talk to him personally. He didn't actually smell like mayonaise either, which was a definite plus. He was a clean sort of guy. Turns out he played Quidditch in school for the Hufflepuff team. Plus, he was really smart, got eight or nine NEWTS. Makes sense as to why HE's here, still haven't figured out Marina.

About forty minutes before dinner began, I woke up Marina, who spent another five, upset with me because I was supposed to wake her up five minutes ago. I returned to Murphy and James's room until dinner after that.

Dinner was served by a group of senior aurors, including Harry and Ron, who apparently couldn't cook for their lives. James, Murphy, and I were walking down the service line when I nudged him and reminded him of his dare.

He grinned and pulled a perfectly round snowball out of his pocket. I cocked an eyebrow.

"Freezing charm." He whispered.

Quickly, he turned, directed his shot, and threw the snowball, turning around before we heard it hit it's target.

"OI!" shouted Gary, snow dripping down from his hair into his mustache. "What the ruddy- ?"

James and I laughed while Murphy rolled his eyes. James' uncle Ron eyed us suspiciously but decided to leave it be.

James's second try hit Gary right in the back while we were eating, and his third hit him on his way out.

"Talk about easy dares." He said, still grinning on our way back to our rooms after a team bonding session in which we had to complete one of those human knots and did some icebreakers. Basically, it was a pretty pointless activity. But tomorrow, we had a huge scavenger hunt in the woods to look forward to.

"Yeah, you lucked out tonight, but tomorrow night he'll be all irritated after a full day of being in the woods." I reminded him. "It'll be like hitting a bear."

"All the more fun." He smiled. We reached our rooms. "Well, night. See you tomorrow for a day in the woods." He yawned.

"Goodnight James."

 

 

 

 

 

 








"All right, so the objective here is to get back with your partner first after going to all stations and completing all tasks set out for you to complete. This is meant to increase work ethic between you and your field partner and increase your overall team skills." Read Mr. Potter off another scribbled on piece of parchment. "You already know your partners, and it is to be remembered that the first team to get back gets off Kitchen Patrols." This last part seemed to really get the attention of some of the people huddled around at the edge of the forest, and James in particular.

"Man, I don't think I could live with myself afterwards if Gary were to win that." He whispered next to me. "You ready to take all these bastards down."

"Oh you bet I do." I said sarcasticallly.

James, however, didn't pick up on said sarcasm. "We are so gonna take this thing." He said, completely serious. I know.

"You may begin, in 3..." Mr. Potter had now stopped reading off the sheet of parchment and had begun counting down. "2..."

"We're gonna run as fast as we can in that direction, so we can get ahead!" James whispered urgently to me.

"What?"

" 1...."

"Just do it!" Deciding not to question James' tactics, I got ready to bolt at the

"Go!"

Everyone set off at various paces into the woods, in search of a checkpoint. James seemed to know what he was doing when he ran straight into the woods past the other groups, me right next to him, keeping pace with him.

I scanned the surrounding forest. No other groups were in sight yet, and it had been about ten minutes since the start. "James, I see something over there, two o'clock."

"Oh yeah, I see the flag, let's check it out." He jogged over to the station, which consisted with a flag and a sheet of instructions. He read the instructions.

"It says there's a blue flag high up somewhere that we have to get down." He looked up. "Oh, I see it, it's that little flag tied way up there, in that tree right there." I followed his gaze, spying the blue flag tied about twenty meters up the tree.

"We could throw a rope up there or something..." He suggested, running a hand through his hair, thinking hard.

"Or I could just climb up there." I suggested in return. It was definitely the easiest idea, but the hardest solution. I wasn't heavy enough to actually break the tree and I was pretty decent at climbing things. It could work.

"I don't really like it, but we don't really have a choi- Hey, what are you doing?"

"Climbing the tree." I replied, already about four meters off the ground, the lower branches easier to manuever.

"Well, don't kill yourself." He said nervously.

I rolled my eyes. "Just be sure to catch me if I fall."

He looked even more nervous down there on the ground. I had to slow down a bit as I had reached some more tedious branches. The flag was nearly in reach, just a bit further. I readjusted myself so as to untie the knot, then retied it around my ankle for the climb down. When I reached some of the bottom branches, my ankle slipped and got stuck in between a branch and the trunk. I felt my ankle twist, and felt a pain shoot up my leg. "Er, James? A little help here?" I thought my ankle had twisted, and wasn't going to get out of that tree by myself.

"What is it?" He asked from behind me. "Are you stuck?"

"Yes!" I said, aggravated. "Help me down!"

"Er, okay here, I'll just lift you a bit to loosen the hold."

"James, that's my arse. Try again."

"Er, yeah, sorry 'bout that."

"Just get me out. I think I sprained my ankle."

"Here."

He grabbed my calf and lifted my foot out of its hold, and I toppled down onto the ground on top of him.

"Eurmpth." James mumbled on the ground, underneath me. Our faces were about half an inch apart from each other.

"What?" I asked, confused, staring into his bright green eyes.

"I don't know, I forget." He said, staring back, regaining the breath he lost when he got knocked to the ground.

Then I realized what I was doing and rolled off of him, my ankle burning with pain.

"We should keep going." I said, as James stood up. I tried to get up as well, but found that my ankle wouldn't hold the weight. James pulled me up on one foot.

"Why don't you just hop on my back for now." He suggested, eyeing my ankle warily. "We can go back and get someone to look at your ankle. We don't have our wands either."

"What?!" I shouted, incredulous. "We're not going back untill we've finished!" He was the one who wanted to win originally, but now that I had just climbed that huge tree, I was in this for good.

He seemed surprised. "Well, are you sure?"

"Yes! Just let me hop on your back!" I cried exasperated, and ready to move.

"Well okay..." He still seemed hesitant, but he still let me on his back. He grabbed hold of my legs behind my knees and I wrapped my arms over his shoulders, which I happened to notice were very broad and muscular through his jumper. I must not think about rubbing my hands over those shoulders... or kissing that neck... or generally snogging James...

"Which way are we going Captain Alex?" James aked, pulling me out of my reverie.

"Just head straight somewhere." I said. My cheeks had turned hot and I was probably blushing madly.

"Aye aye Captain." He said as he began to jog in one direction.

We jogged (and by we I mean James) along at a pretty good speed for about ten or fifteen minutes before James stopped so that I could look around for another flag.

"Man, you're fit. I said, sliding from his shoulders gentle so I could look around. It seemed pretty barren around here, no flags in sight.

James laughed. "And you say that because?" He asked suggestively, waggling his eyebrows.

"Oh, get a hold on yourself." I said, patting his stomach, yet still blushing. (Which of course, was rock hard) "I was referring to the fact that you just ran all that ways with me on your back and you're barely out of breath. You only stopped so that I could look around."

"Yeah, well, we have an intense Auror training regime." He said modestly, hands on his hips. He ran a hand through his hair, blushing.

I grinned. "You're blushing."

"What? Oh, er, I guess so." He blushed harder.

"So, where the hell are we? I don't see any flags around, and I haven't heard or seen any of the other groups." I said decisively, looking around for anything.

I looked at James, whose blushing face suddenly grew as white as the snow surrounding us. "Alex, get on my back." He said, almost a whisper, watching something in the distance. "Now, please."

"Okay, but you know that wasn't very polite. What are you looking at?" I said quietly to match his whispers, climbing onto his back carefully like last time.

"Don't freak out, but there's a bear over there, about a hundred or so meters at eleven o' clock."

"A bear?" A bear? Was he serious? Where? I looked towards eleven o' clock and saw it. It was barely a smudge in the distance, because of all the snow, but I could make out the hulking brown body and as it ambled a little closer towards us, it's beady black eyes. This ain't no Teddy Bear. I thought as I looked at the huge, bulky, brown bear.

"James, whatever you do, don't run. It'll only bring attention to us. He's already staring at us."

"You think I don't realize that? And He? It's not bloody Paddington bear Alex!" James hissed under his breath.

"Just calm down." I said, trying to sound soothing. "It's going to amble off in a minute once it realizes we're not going to hurt it. It's more scared of us than we are of it."

"It's a bloody brown bear! I thought these things were supposed to be extinct in Britain! Yeah, like I'd be scared of two stupid humans if I weighed two tons and had claws and teeth like that!"

For a while, all that could be heard was our breathing as we watched the bear get closer every minute. It was watching us, coming towards us.

"Maybe I should just fight it or something." James said under his breath.

"James don't be an idiot. It's a bloody bear! It's not afraid to kill you!"

"But maybe I can buy you time or something. And besides, I thought you said it was more afraid of us than we are of it."

"James, I'm not letting you die because you think it will help me. It's stupid! And I can't, my ankle's toast. And we should definitely be afraid of that bear, because it looks ready to eat us right now. Plus it's a bloody bear! "

"Well, I think we need to do something. We don't have our wands, but we could try running."

"No, if we run. he'll chase us. And bears are fast, trust me. I can try something, but I need you to shut up."

James obliged, but I could feel how tense he was. I closed my eyes and focused. Confundus. Confundus. Confundus.

 

"Alex, the bear looks confused, it's walking in circles."

"James, run. Now."

He followed my orders and sprinted off in the opposite direction of the bear, bringing us even further into unknown territory, but away from the bear. James ran for a long time, before stopping and setting me down gently.

Once he set me down carefully, he turned and crushed me into a bear hug (haha like my joke? Too soon? Yeah, I suppose).

I relaxed into his arms against his broad shoulders, relaxing.

"Blimey, Alex, you really saved us. I thought that we were toast for sure. I don't know what I'd do if I had to watch you get eaten by that bear. I thought you were going to die, and it was all my fault for leading you to that spot. "

"James..."

"If I hadn't been so stupid, you wouldn't have had to be in that spot."

"James."

"If only I had stopped you from climbling that tree, now your ankle's really bad, and it's my fault too, I'm a horrible person arern't I?"

"James, none of that was your fault, all right? None of it." I looked him in the eyes, and before he could say anything else, I kissed him. He kissed me back, holding the small of my back, while I ran a hand through his hair while holding onto the back of his neck. It was perfect, probably our best kiss yet. Snow latched onto our faces, melting almost at the touch. His hair was silky, his shoulder and neck muscles under my fingertips.

Of course, we were still stuck in the middle of the woods somewhere in Northern Scotland, with no idea where we were, completely lost in the snow.



 

 

 

 

 








A/N: Well, sorry it took so long! I've been sick, and busy! I hope you liked it though. Please let me know what you think about the chapter by leaving a review in that pretty box for me! 

PS: I  do not own the Paddington bear, who belongs to Michael Bond.
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 6: Problem #6
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling.

 

 







 Keep the nightmares out,
Give me mouth to mouth.
I can't live without ya,
Take me to your house.
               Home by Daughter
 
 

 

 

 







So, after our lengthy and passionate snog, James and I came to realize that we were stranded out in the middle of a snowy forest in Northern Scotland without our wands, completely lost, and I still couldn't walk because of my ankle. We had just been confronted by a bear (what the heck was up with that? Since when were there bears in Scotland? Weird, I know) which I used a confundus charm on (without a wand, mind you) to scare off.

"James." I said, out of breath. "We need to go back, it'll be dark soon."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right."

We were standing very close still, James' arm around my back, the other in my hair. Our lips were only a couple inches apart.

He stepped away. "Hop on." He said, turning around for me to jump on his back.

I jumped on as lightly as I could, and he began to walk back in the direction we hoped we came in.

"Hey James?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks for the ride. And the snogging wasn't bad either..."

I could feel him give out a hearty chuckle, his shoulders vibrating.

"Trust me, it's really no problem. I should be thanking you, you got us away from that bear. That sure was weird."

"Yeah, when was the last time you've heard of a bear in northern Scotland, or anywhere near the continent?"

"Never."

"Exactly. Makes me feel bad though. He's probably really lonely."

He laughed again.

"Maybe. But he probably just makes friends with owls and bunnies."

"Still. He probably feels all alone."

James sighed, his shoulders heaving. "Maybe. But maybe he likes the solitary. Maybe that's why he's here. He could've just hopped a plane from way out west in America or Canada to get away from all the other bears."

"Like the muggles wouldn't notice a huge bear was sitting across the aisle from them." I said, laughing. James laughed too.

"Yeah, I suppose you're right. He'd have to sit up front next to the captain."

We laughed harder.

It took us three and a half hours, but we found our way back to the lodge. It was dark of course, and it was just Harry waiting for us. He looked relieved when he saw us coming out of the tree line.

"Thank goodness. What took you two so long? We have Watson and Helsing looking for you now." He said, coming over to us.

"Yeah, sorry. Lex hurt her ankle, then we got lost and ran into a bear." James explained.

"A bear?" He looked skeptical. "In these woods?"

"Yeah, it was really far out, and completely bizzare. Lex scared him off with a confundus charm."

"Without a wand?" He looked towards me.

I nodded sheepishly.

"That's impressive." He said. "Well are you allright?"

"Yeah except for Lex's ankle." James said.

"It's really not that bad, I just can't put weight on it." I cleared.

"Well, that must mean it's just a sprain- i think. Why don't you bring her inside and we'll have a look at it. James, it would be a good idea to just wrap it up and putt some ice on it until we get a healer. I'll call Watson and Helsing back then meet you two in the lobby." James nodded and Harry walked past us in the general direction of the woods.

"You still hanging on?" James asked me.

"Bear-tight."

He chuckled. "Nice one."

"I try."

He brought me into the front lobby, going up a flight of stairs and down two hallways. He set me down really gently in a big squashy armchair and took the one right across from it.

"May I?" He gestured towards my foot.

I nodded and he picked up my foot and laid it tenderly in his lap, peeling off my shoe.

"Warning, my feet may reek." I cautioned him.

He grinned up at me. "Trust me, you're a girl. No matter how bad they smell, mine will always be worse."

"True."

He held my foot by the bottom of my calf and the arch of my foot. He was barely touching me, yet whole leg felt tingly, on fire, despite the dull throbbing of my ankle.

He called over one of the workers, asking for some ice and a cloth bandage.

"How bad does it hurt, on a scale of one to ten, one being a papercut, and ten being eaten alive by a bear?" He asked, still cradling my foot in his lap.

I grinned at the bear reference. "Two point five. But I have a high pain resistance, so who knows."

"Are you sure it doesn't hurt very bad?" He asked, seemingly concerned.

"Positive. I'm fine, I just can't put weight on it." I tried not to roll my eyes at his concern.

"Okay... oh, here's the ice." The helper had brought over a small bag of ice and some thick medical gauze.

James took them both, and started to unwrap the gauze, only to begin wrapping the gauze around my ankle, still being very careful not to move it too much. "Does this hurt?" He asked, looking up at me.

"No, it's fine. I'm fine."

He went back to wrapping my ankle tediously. He finished it off and put the ice on it, which felt good, and took down the throbbing.

"Does this feel okay?" He asked.

"James, I'm fine. This isn't exactly the first time I've sprained or broken anything. I was in the hospital wing at least once a month for Quidditch injuries."

"Well, still." He said. "Spraining your ankle is supposed to hurt."

"It hurt pretty bad the first time when I was seven and I fell out of our tree house, but now it really doesn't hurt very bad. Like I said, I've developed a high pain resistance."

He smiled. "I remember that. You were upset because you weren't supposed to go down to the lake for a week while it completely healed."

I smiled back. "Yeah, I was pissed. It was the last few weeks of summer, and I had to spend it sitting in bed or on the couch. You helped entertain me of course, but I still missed going outside and running around."

"Yeah, after a few days I began to run out of jokes and ideas for pranks and had to resort to making drawings and playing hangman." He smiled broadly at the memory. "Man, I really miss those days."

"Feeling nostalgic, Potter?" I cocked an eyebrow at him.

"You know what I mean. The simpler days. Before everything happened."

"Yeah, don't we all."

We were silent for a few moments, just staring at each other. I noticed the tiny freckles on James' cheeks, right under his eyelids, whose eyelashes were actually long and graceful.

"You doing allright, Alex?" Said Harry, coming over to us.

"Yep. The ice really helped the throbbing." I answered, breaking the moment.

"That's good. Dawson says he can fix it right up, and that he'll be right down. So you guys really ran into a bear?" He asked, somewhat incredulous.

"Yeah, it must just be one of those bizarre things." I answered.

"Well, I'm glad you two are okay. How are you doing otherwise Alex?I haven't seen you around in a long time."

"I'm doing good." I replied. "It has been a while, hasn't it."

"Well, you'll have to stop by sometime. Maybe over the holiday. You're always welcome at our house." He said, smiling warmly, like my father used to.

"Thanks Harry." I grinned back.

"It's no trouble. I'm sure James would be happy to have you."

James blushed. "Of course."

Then Dawson, an older and more weathered Auror, came over and fixed up my ankle properly, with magic. He and Harry left to go to bed, as it was now past ten thirty.

James and I hung back for a while, me now placing both of my feet on his lap comfortably.

"Your dad is pretty great." I commented.

"Yeah, he and I have always been closer. Him and Al are close too. Us Potter men stick together." He grinned, rubbing my feet over my socks.

I smiled, completely relaxed with James, talking about his family. "That must be nice. What about your mum? Are you still close with her? And Lily?"

"Lily and mum are real close, we all are, I guess, except when we argue, which is actually pretty often. Like right now, Lily is fighting with Dad over something. I forget what it is, but they've been at it for a couple of weeks over the mail." He pondered that. "Me and Al fight a lot, which is why we were never allowed to have a room together as kids. When we weren't arguing, we were trying to explode things, and prank Lils." He smiled. "But you probably know all this already. You used to be a big part of our family. We all missed you when you left."

I smiled warmly at him, staring into his green eyes, so filled with warmth at the moment. "Well, I missed you too. Even when we were fighting at Hogwarts, and pranking each other, it was better than those couple of years when I was away from all of you." I admitted. He smiled.

"So where does that leave us now?" He said softly, so soft that I could barely hear him from a foot away.

I sighed deeply. "I'm not sure. But I'm glad you were there when I first showed up." Then, somewhat jokingly, I added, "But don't think that this means I'm going to stop pranking you. You've got a lot coming."

He laughed at this.

 

The rest of the retreat passed somewhat uneventfully, as I endured another night rooming with the ever so lovely Marina, who (surprise!) snored louder than James' uncle Charlie, who had once fallen asleep in the Potters' armchair while visiting, and practically shook the whole house. The highpoint was when Gary's hair was set on fire during an activity. We were dead tired on the way home and slept the whole way back. It was rather embarrasing waking up with my head in James' lap, but the only ones who had seen were Marina and Murphy, who were asleep as well. And James, presumably.

We returned to work for another week and a half before Christmas holidays. On the last day before holidays, the department had a brief, festive party that included someone spiking the punch, and a round of pin the curse on the Death Eater that went one Impediment curse too far. As I was gathering my things to leave, James was as well.

"So, what do you have planned for your holiday?" He asked amiacably.

"Well, some quality 'me' time, that's for sure. Not really sure. Roxy will probably drag me on a shopping trip so she can buy gifts for 'all her stupid cousins'." In truth, I'd probably spend them watching muggle movie marathons and eating chinese food at my favorite restaraunt. Probably even spend some time at the pub if I really started feeling bad for myself.

"Hey! I take offense at that!" He said, sounding hurt, but smiling anyways.

"Her words, not mine." I said, defending myself. "What about you?" I asked, atempting to be polite.

"Well, Al and Lily will be back from Hogwarts, as will all the other 'stupid' cousins. Teddy's staying with us for awhile, and that's always interesting. Victoire will be busy planning their wedding, so we won't see much of her. Roxy will show up when she feels like it, which is pretty much all the time. Everyone just kind of shows up at each other's houses when they feel like it on holidays, so you should definitely stop by."

I smiled, somewhat sadly. "I'll try."

"Well, I sure hope you do." He smiled genuinely at me, the same smile I was really beginning to love... or appreiciate and like.... yep, definitely appreiciate.

I shook my head and gathered up the last of my things, heading out into the Atrium of the Ministry, then through one of the fireplaces to the alley behind my apartment complex, making sure not to be seen. I went inside, unlocking my door, and entering my messy, small apartment. I threw my bag on the floor and plopped down on my little ugly couch. I was so tired from the past few days of work that I fell asleep within minutes. I woke up a couple hours later only to relocate to my bedroom, where I curled up with my comforter and slept for another nine hours.

The next day I went for a walk to the Chinese place where I had a late lunch/early dinner. I then went to a couple of shops and picked out a fairly decent sweater for Ali, who would be offended if one of her only cousins didn't send something to aknowledge her. I picked out something small for Roxy, and that was pretty much it. The day after, I spent the day tidying my apartment, which took pretty much all day, as I dusted and cleaned the windows as well as sorting through dirty laundry and dishes.

The day after Roxy dragged me with to pick out presents for her cousins in Diagon Alley and parts of muggle London.

It's funny how the tiniest things in life set you off. Like, for example, the next morning when I saw the couple and kid walking the dog down my street while I was fetching the mail, which included a single Christmas card from my cousin Ali. The day after, it was the old man sitting on the bench with the young woman, his daughter, comfortably leaning against him. After that, I headed straight to the pub.

I had always had a special relationship with my dad. We would always play together, and Saturdays were our special time together, when he wasn't working. He would always serve me lunch, a sandwitch with pickles, mustard, tomatoes, and roast beef. He would take me to the park when I was really little, and push me on the swings, so high that I would start to get scared, and he would catch me and hold me in his arms, all encompassing.

So when I saw the father and daughter in the park, the snow gently falling around them, I just about lost it right there. I went into an alley and apparated to an old wizard bar that I knew of, and ordered a large tankard of firewhiskey. And another. At about five, the effects were beginning to wear off, as I held my liquor quite well, thank you very much, and I walked out of the pub, only a little dizzy.

I walked down the familiar street, knowing where I was going subconsciously. I entered the graveyard and meandered to the back, to the large joint grave that I hadn't visited in nearly a year. The graveyard was empty as I sat on the large block of marble, hugging my knees to my chest with one hand, and stroking the names carved into the marble with the other.

Here lies Edward Matthew and Vanessa Coleen Johnson.

May they live joyously in death, as they did, always, in life.

The saying fit them nicely, near perfect fot my parents, but I couldn't imagine some random stranger writing it.

I stayed there for a long while, in a peaceful state, memories of them swimming through my head. How my father would hold me, how my mother would stroke my hair back. A single tear fell from my eyes, melting a tiny circle of snow with it. This was the first tear I had cried since I was twelve years old. It had felt oddly satisfying, but I wasn't really feeling sad, so it ended with that. The tear was more out of the happy memories, than my current sadness. There were church bells ringing not far off, and the sound of voices as they exited the church in front of the graveyard. Two men had entered the graveyard and walked over to a grave on the other side of the large statue thirty meters away.

May they live joyously in death, as they did, always, in life.

I traced over the words meticulously for what must have been ages, following the gentle swoops of the y's in joyously, and the f in life.

May they live joyously in death, as they did, always, in life.

"My mother wrote that, you know. 'May they live joyously in death, as they did, always, in life.' Fits, doesn't it? They were always so happy. Just like you were. My mum always knows what to say." And apparently, so did James.

He sat down next to me, careful not to cover the engraving that I was still fingering. I had looked up, and found his bright green eyes reading the words on the tomb.

"You really miss them, don't you. You're tough, so you got through it, but I don't think you ever really let yourself feel the pain." He looked straight at my eyes, but I didn't respond. Of course it would be James who would figure me out and sum me up in two sentences. Because he was spot on. He knew it better than I did.

"You don't always have to be so tough you know. And you don't always have to be alone."

He gathered me up in his arms then, and I buried my head in his chest, listening to him breathing, feeling his heart beat against his chest at a nice, steady pace against my own, quicker beat.

I wasn't crying, but I needed this more than ever. He stroked my hair, tucking my head into the crook of his neck.

We sat like that for a long time, peacefully. One or two other people came and went, but the graveyard remained mostly empty.

"Thank you James." I breathed. I looked up at him, and he stared back into my eyes.

"Anytime Alex." He smiled again, warming my chest from the inside out. He brushed my hair back and tucked it behind my ear.

He slid off the grave and offered his hand out to me. "Come on."

"Where are we going?" I asked, sliding off as well.

"Back to my place. I just have to leave some flowers on another spot first."

I took his hand and he led me to the grave that the two men had visited earlier. I realized now that it must have been James and Harry. "Were you here with your dad earlier?"

"Yeah, he went back to the house. I told him I'd be along in a little while."

I nodded. "This is your grandparents' grave, isn't it."

He had stopped in front of the graves of Lily and James Potter. The originals, I had to assume.

He nodded. "My dad visits quite often, and I make sure to come with on holidays. It means a lot to my dad, and he misses them, even though he never actually knew them."

"Right. I often forget your dad's the Boy-who-lived. He's just so down-to-earth."

"Yeah. He is."

 

"Hey James, is it Christmas eve?" I asked, counting the days and hearing the singing now coming from the church. We were walking down the snowy street, hand in hand, on the way to his house.

"What have you been doing these past few days? Hiding in a cave?" He looked at me strangely. "And yeah, it is. That's why the rest of the family is back at the casa. I have to give you a warning, my mum's just about crazy right now, getting ready to go to the grandparents' house tomorrow."

I smiled. "Are Al and Lily home then?"

He gave a little cringe. "Yeah, I suppose I should apologize for them in advance. They'll be all hyper, as it's Christmas eve and all that."

I laughed. "I'm sure I can handle them."

When we passed the empty lot that used to be my house, I cringed, and James squeezed my hand tightly, pulling me closer to him. The foundation was all that was left, except for a couple of wooden slabs that used to be a treehouse, and the worn out swings near the edge of the woods.

James slipped his arm around my shoulders, steering me towards his house.

James' house looked the same as it always had, with it's blue shutters and warm atmosphere. There was light in most of the windows, and movement going on inside. He led me up the walkway, and led me through the front door.

"Albus Severus, if you ever make that gesture again I'll glue those fingers together! And Lily, could you please stop trying to tickle him? It's driving me insane! Harry, could you grab that pan there for me please? Yes, that one thanks." Ginny looked up from the kitchen counter in the room to our left. "Oh good to see you're back James."

"Hey mum." James said, pulling off his jacked and scarf, hanging them half-heartedly over the coat rack in the entryway. "Ran into Alex at the church, brought her with." He helped me out of my coat, and threw that over his own. He led me into the kitchen where the rest of his family was, fluttering about, Ginny at the center of it all.

"Alex! How good to see you!" Ginny said, smiling. "Come over here! I haven't seen you in ages!" She pulled me into a big hug, pulling back and holding my face in her hands. "You look great! So grown up! Would you like something to eat? We've got plenty of food, so help yourself, no need to ask in this house. James can grab you something. Albus! What did I say about playing with the Asparagus!" She turned to yell at Al.

"Hello Alex." Said Harry warmly, cutting up some tomatoes for Ginny. "Good to see you here."

"Hi Harry." I said, smiling.

"C'mon, let's go sit in the living room then I'll get you something to eat." Said James, nodding his head towards the room across from the entry.

When we got there, Al and Lily were just starting a game of exploding snap.

"Hi Alex!" Said Lily brightly. "Want to join us?"

"Sure. Hey Al." I said, entering the room and joining Lily on the couch, beckoning to Al. James took the seat next to Al across from us in the warm, comfortable sitting room.

"You hungry Alex?" He asked.

"Er, yeah." I said, my stomach rumbling as if it could hear what I was saying.

"I'll grab you some chili that my mom made earlier. You okay with that?" He asked.

"Absolutely." I smiled, and he left the room.

"So...." Al began the moment James stepped out ot the room.

"So you and James are friends now then?" Lily asked bluntly.

"Yeah, I guess so." I shrugged, dealing out the first round of cards.

"More than friends?" Al asked pointedly.

"No." I snorted, feeling my cheeks burn.

"Oh, they so are." Said Lily to Al.

"Have you two snogged yet?" Al asked.

I choked. "No! I don't know what you two are talking about. James and I are just friends."

"Lex, we know when you're lying." Said Lily.

"How?" I asked, playing a card from my hand.

"Your nostrils flare." She stated plainly.

"Really? That's weird. I've never noticed."

"I bet James has." Al mused.

"Probably." Lily agreed. "So, are you going to answer the question?"

"What question? Oh, that question?" I laughed nervously. "The answer is no, guys, seriously." I said, trying hard to not flare my nose.

"Hey, I got you some chili, Lex." Said James, coming back into the room with a steaming bowl of Ginny's chili. "So what did you guys talk about while I was gone?"

"Fishsticks." I said quickly, dealing him in and sending a pointed glance towards Al and Lily.

We continued playing for a while, the conversation flowing in and out of the game casually. Lily and Al talked about Hogwarts while James and I told them stories about the Auror office, including the many injuries Gary had sustained because of us. They found it amusing.

"James? Could I have your help please?" Called Ginny from the kitchen.

"Coming!" James called. "Be back whenever." He said to us, leaving the room to help his mum.

"So Lils, how long until the wedding, do you reckon?" Asked Al like it was the most casual thing in the world.

Chili nearly came out my nose.

"You mean until James proposes, or until the actual wedding?"

I was now choking on chili, gasping for air.

"Until James proposes, I suppose."

Someone, please kill me before the chili does it on it's own.

"I'll say sixth months."

I was dying at the hands of meat and beans.

"Are you serious? No more than four!"

Oh, don't mind me, I'm just sitting here, with chili obstructing my airways.

"You want to bet?"

I had stopped choking, and was now gasping, letting sweet air fill my lungs.

"Sure, let's say fifteen galleons if its less than four for me, same for you if its more."

"Excuse me! I'm right here! And that is not going to happen!" I practically shouted, finally able to form words.

"Would you like to enter the pool for fifteen galleons?" Al asked simply.

I scowled at him, then shrugged. "Easiest thirty galleons I'll ever earn."

Lily and Al exchanged signifigant smirks, the little prats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 










A/N: Thanks for reading! Please leave a review! Also, you should check out my new story, it's an Al/OC, and takes place at Hogwarts. Still a little tentative, but I'm excited about it.
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 


Chapter 7: Problem #7
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling.
 

 




Maybe we know how the story ends
Maybe it's not even about us
We both retreat to opposing sands
And the love lives on without us
One thing I know for sure is
Love will find a way
               Heart's Content by Brandi Carlile

 

 





"So Alex, you're coming tomorrow right?"

I remembered these words James spoke to me the night before when I opened my eyes the next morning to a pounding on my door.

I bolted upright in bed.

It was Christmas day. It was Christmas and I was spending it with the Potters and the whole Weasley clan. And James was here to pick me up.

He banged on the door again, and I hollered, "Just a minute! Come on in it's open!"

I ran into the tiny kitchen to greet James.

"Sorry, overslept, be ready in like two seconds!" I said as he stepped into my kitchen, looking almost aprehensive.

He took in my boxer shorts and baggy jumper, my hair still piled on top of my head, nodding. "Take your time."

I dashed into the bathroom, brushing my teeth and quickly taking care of buisiness. Thankfully, I had showered last night before plopping into bed, so I took my hair out of it's constraint and ran my fingers through it, fluffing it up a little. I ran across the kitchen to get to my closet, where I extracted the only skirt I owned, a modest black skirt that was pretty casual, not straight or clingy, but not exactly poofy either.

I picked out a nice, short sleeved cream shirt to go with it, and grabbed my green blazer, sliding it on.

I grabbed my coat off the rack as I entered the kitchen, ready to go. James was observing the room around him, then turned to look at me.

"Sorry to make you wait, I can't believe that I didn't wake up in time."

He smiled. "You forgot to set your alarm, didn't you?"

I sighed. That was what I was missing last night. "Yes."

"C'mon." He shrugged towards the door. "Let's go, Grandmum will worry."

"Of course."

We walked out to the alley behind a building and apparated just over the hill before the Burrow.

"I have to warn you, my Nan will be estatic that you're here. She hasn't seen you in years. So watch out." James cautioned while walking towards the house.

I laughed. "I missed that woman."

"She missed you too."

When we reached the front steps, he went in front of me and opened the door for me, in a grand gesture, allowing me to step through while rolling my eyes. We entered into complete chaos. I could see all the women scrambling around the kitchen, frantic. The smell wafted over to where we stood, and my mouth began to water. I shrugged my jacket off, which James took, and hung next to his own jacket, which he shrug off as well.

"James! Glad you're here! Great to see you again Alex!" Said Harry, as James led me into the den. Harry was sitting with James' uncle Ron, his uncle George, uncle Bill, and uncle Charlie.

"Hi Harry, nice to see you too." I greeted.

"Come have a seat with us, we were just talking about the Quidditch match against Bulgaria." Invited Ron.

James ambled over to the only couch left, and I took the spot next to him.

"So Bulgaria lost then? That's surprising." Said George, continuing their previous conversation.

"That is surprising." Added James. "What was the final score?"

"260 to 110." Said Ron. He looked almost gleeful. "And it's not that surprising, they're all a bunch of wankers."

Harry laughed at that. "Really, Ron? Still? You know Krum retired almost ten years ago."

"What do you have against Krum?" I asked Ron.

"He's a bloody wanker, that's all." Ron said, avoiding eyecontact. Harry laughed again.

"He dated my aunt Hermione in their fourth year." James whispered into my ear. "Never forgave Krum for it, even though the rest of the world somehow managed to forgive him for losing the world cup a few years back as team manager."

I laughed, which made James laugh. Ron scowled, looking suspiciously at us. Harry looked suspiciously at us as well, but a different sort of suspicious. He caught me staring at him staring at the two of us and quickly joined Charlie and Bill's conversation about the current status of Goblins.

"Let's go find some of my cousins." James suggested, pulling me up from the couch by the hand.

We walked upstairs into what was Bill and Charlie's old room to find Al, Rose, Lily, Hugo, Louis, and Roxanne.

"Alex!" Cried Roxy, coming over and giving me a bone crushing hug. "Lily said you were coming! This is so great!" She hugged me again. James caught my eye and laughed at my expression, which was clearly saying, "I can't breathe for Kumquat's sake!". He held back laughter before saying,

"Yeesh, Roxy, let her breathe."

"Shut up James." She said, but reluctantly let go of me.

"Where's Fred?" James asked.

"Picking up Alice." Roxy explained. James nodded. From what Roxy had told me, Alice was Fred's girlfriend. They had met on a trip to India after Hogwarts and hit it off immediately.

"What are you guys doing?" I asked, plopping down next to Rose and Lily. James sat down next to me, and Roxy on the other side, squishing Rose into Lily.

"We were just chatting." Said Lily nonchalantly. She winked at me when James wasn't looking. What's that supposed to mean? I gave her a confusing look and she responded by looking significantly from me to James, and back to me again. I rolled my eyes, subtly giving her the finger. She giggled.

"What's so funny?" Asked James, his forehead creasing.

Lily giggled even harder. I scowled, and Rose caught on too, and joined in.

"Do you know what they're laughing about?" James asked me.

"No clue." I lied.

"James? Could you come here for a moment?" I recognized the voice of Ginny coming from the bottom of the stairs. "You too Al?"

James and Al got up reluctantly before leaving to answer to their mother.

The moment James was out of ear's reach, they sprang on me.

"So Alex, how is James this morning?" Lily asked, cocking an eyebrow.

I decided to feign innocence. "Fine, I guess."

"Did you guys snog last night?" Rose asked.

I broke out into nervous laughter. "What? Why would we snog?"

"Because you guys are obviously secretly dating or something." Said Roxy. I glared at her. So much for backing me up.

"We are not." I said defiantly.

"Then who gave you the hickey?" Lily asked pointedly.

My hand immediately snapped to my neck, remembering last night.


"So, this is it." James said as we approached my place. "Should I walk you up?" He asked politely.

"Sure." I said, rooting around my pockets for the key to open the door. "Might as well make you some tea or something."

"Sounds nice." He said.

I led him up the stairs up to my apartment. I dropped the keys down onto the counter and threw my coat on the rack.

"Go ahead and throw your coat somewhere. I'll put a kettle on." I said, nodding towards James.

We had tea and chatted for a while, cracking jokes at each other. The discussion got pretty intense at one point, I don't remember what it was about, but I remember leaning in really close to James, feeling his breath against my cheeks, warm and minty from the tea. We got closer and closer until our lips were touching, a mad desire for the feel of James' kisses overtaking me. Things got intense fast, and James picked me up from the table and brought me over to the couch, kissing my neck and colarbone, which really set me on. We were only interuppted when we both seemed to realize James' parents would notice if he didn't come home at all before Christmas and the fact that we were making out on my couch.

 



 

"No one. I tripped on my way to the bathroom last night." This wasn't exactly a lie, as I had tripped into the bathroom last night, right after James had left, feeling dizzy, as James' lips always seemed to make me feel.

"Sounds like it hurt." Louis mused, obviously not believing me.

"It's not a hickey!" I almost yelled out of frusturation with these people.

"By the way, we included a bunch more people into the bet." Lily said. "Here's the list."

She handed me a piece of parchment which read:

Alex J. (Future P.) -not at all, collective amount

Lily P. - 4 months 15 galleons

Al P.- 5 months 15 galleons

Rose W.- 3 months 10 galleons

Louis W. - three weeks 20 galleons

Hugo W. - two months 10 galleons

Dom W. - three and a half months 10 galleons

Molly and Lucy W. - six months and two weeks 5 galleons

Vic L. - seven weeks 15 galleons

Ted L. - one-hundred and three days 40 galleons

Roxy W. - six months 15 galleons (sorry Lex, but it's inevitable. Just be glad that I did six months, not three weeks like Louis)

Grandpa W. - seven months 6 galleons

George W. - two and a half months 30 galleons

"Are you serious? You know that if i'm wrong, which I'm not, I have to pay one hundred and ninety-one galleons?" I asked incredulously.

"Yeah, and if you're right, which you're not, we pay you one hundred and ninety one galleons." Lily pointed out.

"That's a lot of money." I said. "I am going to be rich..." I looked down at the list again. "Seriously, Louis, twenty galleons on three weeks?"

"I have a feeling I'll be the closest." He grinned. "I will be a rich man."

"How does this even work, if one of you is closet?" I asked, confused. "And how did you get your grandpa in on this?"

"We give half the money to them, and split the rest of it among us." Lily explained calmly. My second question was averted.

I huffed a big gush of air, crossing my arms. "This is stupid."

"You won't say that when you're paying us one hundred and ninety one galleons." Said Al, entering the room again.

He noticed my startled expression, saying, "Calm down Lex, James is still busy."

He smirked.

Prat.

I scowled at him. He just smirked more.

"So guys, shall we play the game?" He asked.

"Oh are we playing the game?" Asked Fred, entering the room with his girlfriend, Alice, a lean girl with messy, short brown hair.

"Yeah, I reckon so. We were thinking we should inclued Alex, as she's here and James is currently running over to the Lovegoods." Al said, still smirking at me.

"What's the game?" I asked, warily.

"Don't you worry, Lex dear, it's all fun and games. No pressure what so ever." Fred said gently.

Rose and Lily giggled. Why did I not beleive him?

"Let me fetch the others. Be right back." Said Rose, getting up to get everyone else.

Everyone was now gathered in a large circle, the entire Weasley clan minus the adults and James, plus me, Alice and Ted.

"Okay everyone, this is Alex's first time, so let's explain the rules of The Game to her." Began Ted, the oldest, and therefore the leader.

"First rule of the Game is: Don't talk about the Game."

"Second rule: Whatever happens here, stays here."

"Third rule: You must answer every question honestly and fully, otherwise Ted will see to your punishment."

"Last rule: There's no way out."

I crossed my arms, frusturated.

"So, everyone have their questions ready?" Ted asked the group at large.

They all nodded mischeivously, Fred in particular.

Oh Kumquat. They better not ask anything embarassing.

"Have you ever shagged a guy?" Dom asked, the first to go.

Drat. Guess I better scrap the idea of nothing embarassing.

"No." I answered confidently.

"Favorite color?" Rose asked.

"Green." I answered immediately.

"How many boyfriends have you had before James?" Louis asked.

"One. And James doesn't count, we're not dating." I tried not to get frusturated. It would just provoke them.

"Have you and James hugged?" Asked Lucy, sniggering into her palms. It was actually kind of cute.

"Yes." I said, avoiding eye contact. "We're friends. Best friends, I guess."

"Have you guys snogged?" Asked Molly, who then whispered into Lucy's ear, which got them giggling again.

I could feel my blush creeping up my neck. I subconciously covered the hickey with my hand, hiding evidence. "Yes."

There was an outbreak of excited whispers at this, until Ted shushed them.

"How come you and James are friends again?" Ted asked maturely.

"We enjoy each other's company. We just understand each other." I shrugged.

"You just understand each other..." He repeated, thinking hard.

"Brunettes or blondes?" Asked Victoire.

"Brunettes. Blondes tend to be shallow." My ex was also a blonde.

"Who gave you the hickey?" Fred asked slyly.

I blushed again. "Pass." It was one thing to admit to ever snogging james, and another to admit to snogging daily.

"There's no passes in The Game." Grinned Fred.

"Well, it was...uh...James...." I said really quietly and blushing fiercly.James...It was James..."

"What was that?" Fred's grin was even wider, and everyone was sniggering, it seemed.

"

 

"Come again?" Fred asked yet again.

Are you serious? How many times do I have to admit it?

"James! It was James allright?" I said, exasperated and completely red.

Fred looked extremely satisfied, and about five people were sniggering. "No need to shout, Alex dear." He winked.

Wow. I really want to smack him.

"Why do you say that you and James aren't dating when you clearly are?" Alice asked next.

"Because we're not! I mean, we've never actually talked about it..." I trailed off.

"You haven't had the talk?" She asked, then shook her head, tutting.

I rolled my eyes. "Next question."

"At brunch that one time, when we ran into you, and James disappeared for twenty minutes, and you were also missing, and then you came back all disheveled-"

"Next question!" I said quickly, cutting off Al and his little satisfied smirk.

"You have to answer Lex." Ted said.

"Fine!" I wanted to scream. "Continue Al."

"What exactly were you two doing together in the men's room together?"

"Just snogging." I said fervently. "Nothing else."

"Have you shagged James?" Lily asked bluntly.

"NO!" I pretty much shouted.

"So are you guys just like snog partners then?" Asked Roxy.

"I guess..."

"Lunchtime!" Grandma Molly called up the stairs.

"Thank you Kumquats!" I shouted out loud, tumbling down the stairs, right smack into James.

He caught me by the shoulders, steadying me. "What's the rush?" He asked, grinning. "My cousins annoying you?"

"You have no idea..." I said quietly, so he couldn't hear me.
 

 

 






A/N: I know, it's a short chapter, and it's somewhat of a filler. I just wanted to get something out. Please tell me what you think!

What was your favorite question asked?

Who do you think will win the bet?
 
 
 


Chapter 8: Problem #8
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“It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
-Mark Twain
 
 

 




 At the end of it all, you're still my best friend
But there's something inside that I need to release
I can't lie no more, I can't hide no more
Got to be true to myself
And it feels like I am just too close to love you
              Too Close by Alex Clare


 

 

 

 






Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling. Above quote belongs to Mark Twain.



"So Alex, what kind of work do you do around the department?" Charlie asked at Lunch.

"Random stuff so far. Training exercises, paper work, same stuff as James."

"Do you and James sit next to each other?" George asked.

"Yeah, we sit right behind each other."

"I heard you pulled a couple good ones on him." George said, smirking.

I shrugged. "Just a couple little things."

"A couple little things?" Bill remarked. "James is still complaining about snakes that keep showing up in his in tray. At least once a week. He doesn't know what to do with them, as they're usually attached to dung bombs. If he tried to move it, the dungbombs would go off."

George burst into laughter. "That's genius! You should have come to work at the shop!"

"I come by once in a while." I mentioned.

"Well, next time you come by, tell them your name and you can get one hundred percent off your entire purchase!"

"That's okay, I really don't need any of that. I won't take your money."

"You definitely will be if you keep up those pranks of yours." He pointed his fork at me, just missing me with a piece of scrambled egg.

I rolled my eyes. I was surrounded by James' uncles Bill, Charlie, and George, while the rest of the cousins were down the table.

Despite my early arrival, I was practically dragged by George to where they were sitting. I have to admit, I didn't mind it sitting with them. They had the best stories.

"Remember that one time I had to take care of that dragon that was allergic to coal? That was great. Was covered in dragon snot for a month." Charlie recalled.

See what I mean?

"Oh, there was that one time Fred and I bribed some second years to distract McGonagall so that we could ditch class and fly into Hogsmede for a Zonko's trip. Second years decided that blowing up a hallway would probably distract her enough. They were in detention for three weeks minimum." Fred remembered.

I laughed at that one. "Me and James did that once in our sixth year. We wanted to have a duel, so we had a couple of first years piss off Peeves so that McGonagall would have to desert her patrolling duties."

"Who won the duel?" Bill asked.

"I did of course. Took about ten minutes and James was out with my stupefy jinx."

"He had no hope, of course, Lex here's the leading trainee in the office. Better than Kingsley was his first year." Ron commented from a couple seats down.

I blushed furiously. "I doubt that."

"I don't." Charlie said. "I remember that one time you punched James so hard that you broke his nose and gave him a black eye."

"Yeah, he was like that all summer that year. I remember that." Bill commented.

"That was funny. He was only eight years old and he managed to get beat up by a girl." George added.

"I didn't beat him up."

"You broke his nose. If that's not beating up, what is?" Bill pointed out.

I sighed. "Okay, yeah, I beat him up." I couldn't help but smiling, looking towards where James was sitting next to Fred. He caught my eye and smiled back.

I looked back at my plate, half-full of eggs, bread, ham and fruit. I hoped I wasn't blushing.

After lunch, we convened outside for a snowball fight, and Ted and James were declared captains.

Ted picked Victoire first of course, and James picked me, which was stupid of him to do. The next to go to Ted were Fred, Alice, Al, Roxy, and Molly. James and I picked Rose, Dom, Lily, Louis, and Hugo.

I was beamed with snowballs way too many times to count, and I had snow shoved places I would not like to revisit anytime soon. Of course, I got them back, especially James, as he was supposed to be on my team. 

 

Our team lost, which was really too bad, but it wasn't our fault, or it wouldn't have been if Rose and Lily had actually paid any attention to what was going on and if James and I hadn't ended up having our own fight.

But, whatever, it was fun anyways. It began to get dark and people gradually started going inside.

"Hey, wanna come with me to the woods?" James asked as the two of us lagged behind going in.

"Sure." I said shrugging.

He took my hand and led me into the woods behind the house, walking along a beaten down path. The woods had an oldness to them, kind of like the woods in northern Scotland where we saw the bear. The sun was just falling behind the trees and the sky was a pretty violet color.

Wow. I just said pretty. I think i'm turning soft. This is not good.

Anyways, we walked along for awhile, until we came to an old log and sat down.

"How are you today?" He asked.

"Fine. I'm not going to just break down because I visited my parents' grave yesterday. I haven't actually cried since I was twelve. I shed one tear yesterday." I said, almost exasperated.

"Just making sure." He said.

"So how come you dragged me out into the woods?" I asked, curious.

"I didn't drag you."

"Theoretically."

He cocked an eyebrow, then went on, "So, did my cousins make you play their little hot seat game?"

"Is that what they call it?"

"Not usually, did they?"

"Yeah, we played it." I said, not looking into his eye.

"What kind of things did they ask you? Hope it wasn't too emabarrasing." He smirked. "They can be pretty vicious. One time, I brought home a girl for Easter and they put red ants in her bed. She was a bimbo though, so I guess I see why they did it."

"Hugo asked what my favorite color was, and Lucy wanted to know if I had hugged you."

"And what is your favorite color? Is it still blue?"

"It's green."

"What did Fred ask? His are always the worst."

I blushed fiercly, automatically cupping my neck. "It's not worth repeating." I mumbled.

He grinned. "I see."

"You know you gave me a hickey last night?" I asked casually, steering away from the topic. Well, not really, but he didn't know that.

He cocked an eyebrow. "Really? Let me see."

I moved my hand and he took it, brushing my hair back to see. He traced the outline, making me shiver.

"You cold?" He asked.

"No."

"Hey!" I said, noticing something. "You have one too! It's just not as noticable."

I fingered his, bringing his face closer to mine.


"Why did you bring me into the woods James?" I asked, whispering. Our foreheads were touching.

"To do this." He said softly. He leaned in further, closing the gap, and he kissed me, softly.

His lips were more tender than they had ever been, and so incredibly soft. It sent little shivers down my spine, and made me want more, yet it was just so sweet as it was.

It was the sweetest kiss I had ever had.

"Alex," he said. "You're my best friend, and the best person I know. I know you might not feel the same way, but I think I might possibly be in love with you."

I didn't know what to say, and I just stared into his eyes as he peeled back.

He seemed to notice my expression and backed up, giving me space to think.

"James... I... I don't know what to say."

His face sunk.

"I'm so sorry, but I just, I need time. You're my best friend, and I don't know how I feel. I just... I need to think." I said, beginning to feel the weight of what he had just said.

He nodded.

"I'm sorry. I promise you I have an answer, I just need to mull over this... Holy Shoot! I can't believe you just said that!" I was standing up, beginning to freak out. "And now I'm being the asshole who doesn't know what to say! Shit!"

He looked bewildered.

"And know I'm going crazy, and you probably think i'm clinically confused! Shit! Shit!"

"Lex," He said.

"Shit! I'm such a bad person!"

"Lex,"

"I'm such an arse!"

"Lex,"

"I'm a horrible human being!"

"Lex- It's okay. I don't think you're any of those things. It's not that important. This doesn't change anything. C'mon, let's just get back for dinner. It'll be ready in a few minutes." He led the way down the path, while I was freaking out the whole way back inside my head, battling within myself.

I can't believe he just said that!


"I think I might possibly be in love with you."

 

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Why would he say that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe he actually said that!

I feel so bad! I don't have feelings for him!

Do I?

No, I don't think so.

But, I mean, do I?

Well, I just don't thinkme and James are more than mutual snog partners...

But we are best friends, and the snogging is fantastic.

But since when does he love me?

We are really close. And there have been moments that I thought...

No, there's no way that he loves me. I mean, where were the signs?

I mean, I've noticed him smiling around me a lot, but James just smiles a lot.

He blushes a lot too, especailly when someone makes a comment about us together or something.

But that's just awkward.

But, I guess it's possible.


"You're my best friend, and the best person I know."

 

Did he really mean that? I mean, I felt the same way about him... but did he really love me?


"I know you might not feel the same way, but I think I might possibly be in love with you."

 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why did he say that???

Now I don't even know if I feel the same way about him.

Do I love James??????

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

"Something on your mind dear?"

"No, Molly. Not at all." I said, smiling sweetly at Grandma Weasley. I was sitting at the table again, sipping at coffee and eating cake with the rest of the Weasley clan after dinner. Molly had served desert and I was now sitting next to her and Hermione. I guess I had been staring blankly into space a little too blatantly, probably because of my inner turmoil.

"I'm just going to get some fresh air." I said to her, getting up from the table. I saw James notice me, but thankfully, he disregarded it, giving me space.

I grabbed my coat on the way out, and left, shutting the door quietly behind me. The warmth and chatter were quickly replaced by cold and silence. It was peaceful though, the way the snowflakes tumbled gently down into the yard, which was lit up by a lot of little twinkling lights hanging from the sky.

I couldn't even describe how I was feeling. I just felt frusturated first of all, I suppose. But not with James. Myself.

"Hey. Something on your mind?" Roxy asked, coming out the door behind me.

"Nope. Nothing at all. Everything's just fine and dandy."

"Pfffft. Bullshit. I know you way better than you think I do. What's up?" She walked up next to me, taking special care to not trip in her heels.

"Just... I don't know what to do with myself."

"Is it James?"

I sighed. She did know me. "Maybe."

"It definitely is. What did he say to you in the woods?" She asked. Wow, Roxy really never misses a beat.

"I don't want to say."

"Ah, I see. Well, I'll just say that James meant it, whatever it was he said. And Lex?"

"Yeah?"

"I think you mean it too, you just need time to figure it out on your own."

There was silence. The snowflakes continued to come down.

"Don't stay out here too long, all right? I don't want you catching hippothermia."

"It's hypothermia." I smiled.

"Same thing. Don't linger long." She retreated back inside, her heels clicking against the steps.

I followed her after a minute and joined the family with gifts, determined not to make any contact with James.

 

"Well, here's my stop." I said as we approached my apartment building. "Thanks a lot for bringing me with to your family's Christmas, James."

I was still avoiding James' eye contact as he said, "Here, I got you something. You don't have to open it now of course, but here it is anyways."

He handed me a small, thin, package about the size and shape of a large muggle children's book, a large one with pictures on every page. It was moderately heavy, and wrapped in plain, green paper.

"Thanks. I haven't gotten you anything yet, sorry. I didn't have enough time, but you'll be getting something from me soon, I promise." I said, looking at him now.

"It's fine Lex. That's not the point." He was grinning. "And I'm really glad you came with us today, it was great."

"Okay, well, thanks again."

"Good night, Lex." He said. He took a step forward and gave me a friendly hug.

When he stepped away, he brushed his lips against my forehead briefly, bidding me goodnight.

"Merry Christmas Alex."

"Happy Christmas James."

The next morning, I was woken up by my muggle phone ringing.

I stumbled out of bed to answer it, clinging my sheets around me, as the cold morning air of my apartment found it's way against my bare arms.

" Yeah?"

"Alex? It's Harry. I'm sorry to call you so early, but it's important. James said I could reach you this way." I yawned, tilting the phone away from me slightly. "I need you for a mission, starting tonight. I need to send ten agents to Romania by tomorrow morning. I will be going with all of you. It'll probably take about sixteen days or so.

"I'm assigning you and nine others to leave tonight by portkey to Romania. A situation has sprung up with some of the vampires there, and negotiation is required. We might have to penetrate some of their forces if they refuse to cooperate. Are you able to leave tonight?"

...... "Yeah, sure. Sounds fine. That sounds great."

    
A/N: Thanks for reading and please review! I know it's not the longest chapter in the world, but it's big. So, you must have something to say. What did you think about what James told Alex? What do you think she'll say? If she gets a chance before she leaves for Romania...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 9: Problem #9 and #9.5
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling



 

 







My hands are shaking
This is a complicated love with me
Keep your eyes closed, I've seen it baby
I've seen where this goes
         Stay by Sara Bareilles

 

 

 








"Alex!"

I was walking through the muggle airport terminal, lugging my suitcase behind me when I heard my name being called.

"Alex!"

I turned around, looking around for the voice. I didn't see anyone, so I turned and kept on walking, figuring it must be a different Alex they were looking for.

"Alex!"

This time it was closer, and I recognized the voice.

"James?" He came into view among the mass of people walking back and forth among the crowded Heathrow airport terminal.

"Alex, thank god you haven't left yet!" He approached me, stopping about a foot away from me.

"Listen, James, I-" I began to say, but he cut me off.

"No. Not now. Okay? I think I already know what you're going to say, and I don't want you to feel forced into anything, okay? I just want you to know that whatever the hell is going on with us, we should just forget about it for now, and just remember our friendship. I know you're leaving, and I have no idea when you're coming back, so I just came to say goodbye, nothing more, nothing less."

"Well, okay, goodbye I guess?"

"Goodbye Alex." He said, leaning in and kissing me on the cheek, while resting his hand on my neck.

He turned and walked away, not looking back. I stood there, no idea where to go from there.

He was just about to completely disappear into the crowds, when I called,

"James!"

He turned around, confused. I left my suitcase where it was, and ran after him. I ran up to him and practically jumped into his arms, hugging him. He was warm despite the cold weather outside, and smelt so familiar, woodsy and fresh. I buried my head in his neck, taking in a last whiff of his scent, just holding on to him.

"Promise we'll write. It won't jeopardize the mission or anything. Just write, okay?" I asked, pulling back.

"I promise." He said, smiling.

"Good. Catch you later, Alligator." I said, and turned to leave.

"After a while, Crocodile." I looked back, and he looked back as well, smiling.

I smiled.

The plane ride was long, but not as bad as I anticipated. I sat next to Ron Weasley, who pretty much slept the whole ride, snoring away. I thought that I would have to spend the whole ride feeling bad about James and feeling guilty for running away, but now that we had left on good terms, all I had to think about was my feelings for him.

Great.

Did I love James?

I had no idea, I had never been in love.

If anything, this trip would be the final line to decide my answer. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Of course, after two hours of boredom and Ron's snores, I started to resent Harry's choice of using muggle transport for every mission to avoid detection from other ministries.

I was hungry, bored, and had to use the bathroom, as the little airplane bathroom had been occupied ever since the seat belt light came off. I swear, every time the door opened and someone left, another person would waltz right in there and shut the door just as I was getting up. And I flat out refused to eat airport food.

"Can I offer you some peanuts, miss?"

"Hell no."


Dear James,

I know it's only been a couple of hours since we last said goodbye, but this plane is soooo boring. I'm sitting next to your uncle Ron, and he's been snoring the ENTIRE time. The food sucks, and the bathroom is always occupied. I know I should have brought a book or something, but honestly, I didn't exactly have time I probably wouldn't have read it anyways.

I'm glad we could leave each other on such good terms. I think for me to figure out my feelings for you things, I need space. It would be good for us to see other people, at least for a while.

-Alex

Dear Alex,

Sorry your plane ride was so boring, and sorry for Ron. I think that would be best for us, provide the most space, you know. In fact, guess who asked me out last night? Marina! I put her down nicely, asking for a raincheck. It'll be good for us to see other people, but Marina isn't exactly what I had in mind. How's Romania? Is the weather good? the food?

-James

 



 

So Marina had asked James out? Interesting. I wonder if it had anything to do with me being gone? No, Marina didn't know that there was anything going on between me and James. Not that there was...

"What do you have there, Alex?" A voice said next to me. "A love letter?"

"No." It was Leanne, an older auror on the trip. She was becoming a friend of mine, as she was only several years older than me.

She was sitting next to me at the pub we were currently at. It was a cold night in Romania, after a long day of scoping out caves and other outdoor stuff. Leanne and I had retired to the pub to get food before going to bed in our shared hotel room, muggle of course.

"It's not a love letter." I said, explaining. "Just a letter from a friend."

"James?" she asked, suggestively.

"You know there's nothing going on between James and I." I said. "And yes, it was him."

"What did he write you about?"

"Nothing, really. It was a short letter. Wanted to know about Romania. Said Marina asked him out the other night. You know her?"

"That slut?"

"Leanne!" I punched her in the shoulder amiacably. "She's not a slut, just a bit of a bitch some of the time."

"Your words, not mine."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing. So, anyways, notice any decent guys on this trip?" She asked. Leanne was twenty four, and always on the hunt for men to date, or you know...

"No, eighty percent of these people are over forty, and the other twenty percent is us."

"What about in here? Tell, me, do you think Romanian men are sexy?"

"No. I think they drink a lot of beer and have beards."

"Now, now, Lexi. Just because you're hostile at James for dating other women, doesn't mean you get to be hostile towards men in general!"

"I am NOT hostile to men in general! And who said I was hostile at James just because that bitch asked him out? Why would I be?"

"Oh, Alex. It's been a whole week, and you haven't even looked at other men. Not even the cute bellhop. Besides, you bring up James in nearly every conversation."

"I do not! And I have looked at the bellhop! He's undeniably attractive!"

"So why haven't you shagged him yet?"


Dear James,

It's been a week, and although I love cold weather, these Romanians have it down to a T. They work all day out in the snow, then come in and drink beer around six. It's really a dull form of life, but they seem to enjoy it. Romania in general is about seventy percent men, in my estimate. (Leanne extimates eighty five) And about ninety percent of those men have beards and are over thirty. Leanne has been trying to get me to shag the bellhop. Not going to happen. I've taken the liberty to notice that he tucks his shirt into his underwear and couldn't grow a beard if he tried. The food here's pretty good. A lot of steak and potatoes, your kind of food.

What's going on back in the UK? How are the siblings? What's going on back at the department? Have to say I'm glad Gary didn't come with us. (Sucker :-P) Write me back soon,

Alex

Dear Alex,

Romania kinda sounds awful, except for the food. Things are going good here, nothings really new. The departments been quiet, especially with my dad and Ron gone. Gary's worse, as he seems to think that he's in charge just because they're gone. It's been pretty boring with just Murphy and Marina, who keeps implying that she wants to go on that date. But, to be honest, I haven't found anyone better, as the prospects out here are pretty dumpy right now.

Oh! guess what? Al asked me for girl help! He's having girl troubles at school and he wrote me about it, saying that Lily is too meddlesome and the rest of our female cousins would just make fun of him. I didn't know what to say, so I just told him to write to you. You're way better at that stuff than me. Write back soon,

James

 



 

JAMES:

Yes, it was true. My little brother was having girl troubles. I bet you anything it's with this one girl who he always has over in the Summer holidays. They're best friends or something. Not exactly sure why he asked me, but I am pretty awesome. I was touched that he went to me though, even though I was technically his 'last resort'. That's a bunch of bullshit, however, as I know my mum is his last resort. I think he's just scared that mum will give him great advice that actually works. I sent him off to Alex anyways, though.

Alex has been in Romania for three weeks, now. We write to each other a lot, just exchanging pleasantries and such, little one sentence notes and some longer letters, like the one I had just mailed. It was hard to tell what I should do about her though. I didn't know if I should just go on a date with Marina to say I tried, or if I should just wait for her to figure out her 'feelings for me'.

Either way, I can't pretend my jealousy sensors didn't go off the charts when she wrote about screwing that nerdy bellboy. Thank squash she was joking.

I still hadn't decided wheter my proclaiming my love to her was just plain stupid, or the best thing I'd done since planting that cactus in her dorm room in sixth year. Good times.

Currently, I was leaning towards stupid, which is probably why when I was taking my coffee break, I asked Marina out.

"Hey James, what are you up to this weekend?" She asked from her spot at the table in the break room, sipping on her tea, which looked to be mostly cream and sugar.

"Nothing really." I said, taking a large gulp of coffee, just the way I (and Alex) liked it. "You?" I asked to be polite.

"Oh, nothing. I'm still waiting to hear back from this one chap though, so we'll see."

I wanted to roll my eyes at her blatant suggestion, but I held myself back.

I took another drink of coffee and thought of Alex, sitting in a pub with a bunch of Romanian men, and how she wanted to see other people before deciding anything.

It was stupid, as nothing had really gone on between us. (Okay, so we both know that's a bunch of ape shit, but it wasn't like we had dated or anything) I was still kind of put off though, feeling kind of rejected.

Which is probably what caused me to say:

"Hey, you want to get some dinner tonight?" to Marina.

She smiled. "Absolutely. I'm glad you finally asked."


Dear Alex,

So, James said I should write to you, as he was no help. I'm having girl troubles. This one girl, who I've known forever, and I'm best friends with, has been acting wierd lately, and I think that I might just fancy her. Like, a lot. But I don't want to ruin our friendship, so I have no idea what the hell to do. Apparently, you can help me.

Al

Dear Al,

You should just really pay attention to how she's acting, try and figure out if you're the reason she's acting so strange. You should definitely keep being friends with her, but you can be friends and more than friends at the same time. Just keep me updated on how she's acting and how much you like her. Whatever you do, try not to admit that you love her to her. It just makes things complicated. These things take time.

Alex

Dear James,

I finally talked to Al, told him to keep his eye on her. Is this girl nice? Pretty? I'm curious. He says he really likes her. Keep me posted. How's everything going on at home? Definitely missing England right now. Romania kind of sucks right now, and we're not even close to finishing the mission, and it's been a whole month. Write me soon,

Alex

 



 

Man, it was hard work helping sixteen year olds with their love issues. Writing letters to Al though wasn't bad at all, and anyways, there was another letter I had received that was worrying me.

It began with,


Miss, I regret to inform you that you are now behind on your payments for your housing...

 



 

and ended with,


If you cannot procure the money by the end of next week, we will be forced to evict you from your apartment.

 



 

This was really worrying me, because, well, I was in Romania for one thing, with no idea what the hell to do about a possible eviction. I mean, how on earth would I get back to clean out my stuff? I had done the math, (Okay, so maybe I had Harry help me finish off the balances) and I was realizing that the expenses of my apartment had gone up a lot in the last year and that I could not afford to live there anymore. That means I had to sell my apartment. This was not good.

I was ready to contact my cousin, Alisha (Remember her?) to help me organize my stuff into boxes and all that, as I couldn't leave Romania, until three days later when I recieved a letter from my one aunt, Alisha's mum.

It began with,


Alex, honey, I hate to write this in a letter, but I heard from your neighbor that you were in Romania. He gave me this adress...

 



 

It continued with,


I hate to ask you to come, but I really can't do this alone. It would be great to have you here. Alisha was always the one to do these sorts of things, and now...



(This part trailed off with several scribbles and tear drop stains)

And finally, almost completely smeared with tearstains, it ended with,


The funeral is this Sunday at noon. It'd be great if you could come Friday, please respond soon.

 



 

Of course. My only living relative that I was relatively close to got in a car accident the same week I get evicted from my apartment. Rotten timing for me, but perfect timing for my schedule.

"Well, you can get on a plane Friday morning, comfort your aunt and go to the funeral, pack up your apartment, and be back by Monday." Harry said as I asked for permission to leave for the weekend. "I'm sorry you have to deal with all this, Alex. If there's anything Ginny and I can do, just let me know." He put a fatherly hand on my shoulder, attempting to comfort me.

He made it sound so easy. But I booked a ticket, packed a bag, wrote my aunt, and went about my business, waiting for Friday to come. I was tired, stressed, and to be honest, really missing James. Like, reallly realllly missing him. A lot. Things were becoming pretty clear in my mind actually, and I was thinking about meeting him this weekend to tell him.


Dear Alex,

Thanks for helping Al. The advice you gave him sounds good. Way better than what I'd have said. How's the mission going? Oh, and guess what? I went on that date with Marina, it wasn't actually that bad. We had a good time. I think she's just looking for a good shag though, so it's really not going anywhere. Write soon,

James

Well then why don't you just have fun shagging Marina while move out of my apartment, and plan my only relative's funeral?



I thought after reading his letter. I ripped it, kind of pissed off, as I had been on the edge the past couple of days. It was Thursday, and I was leaving tomorrow. Of course James felt the need to tell me this. He obviously knew that it would piss me off. Well, technically, he didn't even know if I had feelings for him, and I guess this kind of proved it.

Damn it. I have feelings for James. I might even be in love with him. All I know is that I love snogging him, love spending time with him and miss him like hell. I had imagined many different scenarios where I would jump into his arms and he would just snog the shit out of me in the airport and then we would go off and I would proclaim my love for him then shag the piss out of him.

HOLY SHIT. I'M IN LOVE WITH JAMES POTTER.

Well, this actually makes things a lot easier. Right? I can see James this weekend, tell him that I've really missed him and have feelings for him.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

Definitely freaking out.

I decided to just write him a quick letter before going to bed. (as if I would sleep now)


Dear James,

I'm coming home for the weekend. Wanna meet at the Leaky Cauldron at eight on Friday night? I'll meet you at the bar.

Alex

Alex,

That's great! I'll see you at eight tonight!

James

 



 

I was feeling pretty optimistic when I boarded the plane on Friday morning, when it was so early it was pitch black and the moon was still high in the sky. I couldn't sleep, knowing that the plane was bringing me closer and closer to James. I couldn't wait to go home, even just for a little while. I loved London, and more importantly, James. Home for me was wherever he was. I had begun to realize this while away in Romania.

When we touched down, my heart soared. It was raining in London. It had been nearly a month, twenty nine days, since I had seen James. Now that I was here, I knew that what I had decided was right.

My uncle was waiting behind customs with a sign that read, "Allex".

It had been about thirteen years since I had seen my uncle, as my aunt and mother were never close and they my aunt and uncle didn't want anything to do with me when my parents died. We lived in completely different worlds. But yet, how hard is it to spell Alex? It's a common name! Very straight forward! How could he misspell Alex?

I sighed, heading over to him.

"Hello Alex." He said. He was wearing a fancy suit, with properly trimmed hair. He screamed "Wealthy".

"Hello."

He led me out to his car, a very nice silver banker's car. I put my bag in the backseat and joined him in the front seat.

"It's very nice of you to come, Alex. Patty and I can't thank you enough. I know our family's never really got along, but it's real dignified of you to come to her funeral. I know you two got together for brunch every once in awhile."

I decided not to mention his absence from my parent's funeral.

He drove me to there fancy schmancy house outside of London, dropping me off before heading off to his job as a banker.

"Oh, Alex. So nice of you to be here." My aunt said flatly. "It's been very hard to plan this, and Robert's family can't come until tomorrow afternoon, so I need a lot of help right now."

That about summed up the rest of my day. I spent the whole day running erands to the florist and a caterer, stopping by Alisha's firm and various other places she frequented, such as her aerobics class, to spread the news that she would not be coming anymore. Her firm already knew, but they gave me a huge thing of white tulips.

So basically, I was walking around London all day carrying flowers from the florist to the house.

I finally got away around seven thirty when I went over to Roxy's flat.

"LEXI!!!" She cried when she opened the door to her apartment. "I'm so excited!"

I had mailed ahead of time to tell her I'd be back for the weekend, so she had my whole weekend planned out for me. Of course, it was mostly working on the funeral and then cleaning out my apartment. And I would be busy tonight. Anticipation was settling in my stomach at the thought of seeing James again, in less than an hour.

Roxy did her best to get me ready, shoving me into my best jeans and one of her nice, cashmere sweaters, although she argued for a dress, tights, jacket, fancy scarf, and boots. I did wear boots and a scarf though, so I don't know what she was talking about.

"But that scarf is so dull." She whined as I wrapped my plain black and white scarf around my neck before putting on MY jacket.

"Too bad. I'm leaving now. I probably won't be back for a while, so don't wait up."

"Are you sure I can't come with?"

"Absolutely. See you later."

"See you. Have fun! But not too much fun! Wear protection!"

I left, blushing at the last part. I had told her I was meeting James, that was it.

I caught a ride on the tube to the Leaky Cauldron, getting out a block away. I slipped in the doors about eight twenty, and scanned the bar for James.

I walked among the tables, and I found him almost immediately, sitting with his back to me, facing.... Marina.

I froze.

They were talking amiacably, although James kept checking his watch and looking towards the door. I was at an angle, in the midst of some tables.

She laughed, leaning in farther. Before I even realized what was going on, she leaned in and kissed him. I waited for James to pull back, tell her that this wasn't going to work because he was in love with someone else and was meeting her right now. But he stayed, frozen in place, liplocked with Marina.

I turned to leave, storming past tables.

"Hey, Alex! Is that you? Wow it's been a long time!" Someone said from a table. I ignored them, moving faster and faster to the door.

"Alex!"

I recognized this voice, but ignored it, crashing the door shut behind me.

"Alex! Come back!"

I turned around the corner and ran into the alley behind the pub, a cool mist settling down into the night, making it cold and damp. Just as I was about to apparate, someone came out the back entrance, the one the bartender proably used to take out the trash.

"I don't know why you came. I don't know why he said he would meet you. We already had plans." She said, stepping down.

"He's been complaining about you a lot lately, about how you write him all the time, and he just doesn't want to seem mean by stopping.

"I've listened to him complain about you a lot. How he accidently said something that made you think that he loved you. But really, he regretted it the moment he said it. He originally just said it to score points with you but it backfired when you took it so seriously."

How could she know about this? My world was currently crashing down around me.

"He just sees you as the occaisonal snog partner. Nothing more, everything less. You didn't think you were the only one did you? He planned on telling you to scram tonight. I was there for moral support. Then you didn't show. We thought you had come to your senses. Apparently not. I bet you really thought he loved you, didn't you?" She laughed, sharply, and cruely.

"Well, let me be the one to break it to you sweetheart, It's best you get it plain and simple.

"James doesn't love you.

"He never has, and he never will. Bad timing, I know, but you should have realized sooner."

I wanted to scream at her, to tear out her hair and tell her how wrong she was. But Marina wasn't one to lie so dramatically. She was just the blonde bimbo of the office.

I was frozen.

"Alex?"

It was him. He had just turned around the corner of the alley. He was soaking wet, as the rain was now coming down in sheets.

"James." I cried. "Please. Is it true?" Water was streaming down my face, and I was descending into desperation.

 
"Is what true?" He seemed confused.

"That you don't love me."

"What? Alex, hold on a second here, let me just..." He held up a hand as if to hold me back.

"You lied. You regret telling me you loved me."

"What?"

"I know what you told her. I know the truth James. Now I want you to just leave me alone. I'm tired of this chase. My life has been nothing but a whole shit load of trouble since you showed up again. You're the biggest problem in my life, and I'm tired of it. I don't want you."

His face crumpled. He looked stung, as if my words have crushed him. I knew better.

"Alex..."

"Just leave. Just go." I felt weak.

"If you really feel that way... I guess then you should just leave." He had a hard look on his face, yet he remained where he was, the rain soaking through his shirt and hair, the water crawling across his skin.

"Goodbye James."

I regained my senses after a few seconds, and apparated to Roxy's house, with one last glimpse at Marina, looking at me like I was a sick puppy.

I fell, toppling to the carpet of her sitting area, shivering from the cold. I wrapped my knees to my chest, laying there in the fetal position.

I guess James didn't want me after all. Why else would he have been chatting, snogging Marina at the bar when he was supposed to be meeting me?

I thought he loved me, but maybe those were just empty words.

For the first time in seven and a half years, I cried, sheet racking, despairing sobs, as the one thing that had brought me so much joy, came crashing around me.


James doesn't love me.


 

 

A/N: Wow, quite the chapter. Let me know what you thought please!! I plan on writing a couple more chapters, so that this story will be eleven or twelve chapters total. What do you think will happen?
 
 
 
 


Chapter 10: Problem #10
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable is JK Rowling's.

 




Why should he come back through the park?
You thought that you saw him but no you did not
Who can be sure of anything through
The distance that keeps you
From knowing the truth
                   The Park by Feist


 




"Alex, you're my best friend...

and the best person I know.

I know you might not feel the same way...

but I think I might possibly be in love with you."

Liar. It wasn't true. After all, why would he love me? And if it was, why didn't he fight for me? Why had he started seeing Marina? He could've just kissed me full on at the airport and I would have known right then. I thought of all the times he had just

I was just so angry at myself for getting my hopes up so much then fooling myself into thinking that everything would just work out on it's own.

Because, honestly, when has that ever worked for me?

Oh, that's right, never.

"Oh Alex, what happened?" Roxy asked as she came into the room and found me laying on her floor in a heap of salt water and snot.

"James..." I choked out. "Doesn't... Love...... Me" I broke out sobbing again, as if saying out loud had made it just as true as it had been to hear it come out of her lips again.


"Well, let me be the one to break it to you sweetheart, It's best you get it plain and simple.

"James doesn't love you.

"He never has, and he never will... you should have realized sooner."

 

I wanted James. I wanted his arms around me instead of Roxy's. I wanted him to come and wrap me up in his arms and let me cry into his shoulder. I wanted this more than I ever wanted anything else.

But it wouldn't happen.

I had lost James.

He didn't want me.

And I had told him I didn't want him.

"Lex, I've never seen you cry. I'm so sorry."

"He's the only one who's ever seen me cry." I cried into her shoulder.

"Oh, sweetheart."

"I want him so bad. I love him Roxy."

"Shh..." She stroked my hair, making shushing noises, comforting me, cradling me in her arms. "Come on. Let's get you dried off, you're shivering."

She led me into the bathroom where she sat me on the floor and started drying my hair with a towel. She left for a minute, coming back with fresh clothes. Soft cotton replaced my sopping denim and drenched jacket.

Roxy brought me over to her bed, where she brushed through my wet and tangly hair, before gently twisting it into a braid. She made gentle shushing sounds, calming my sobs. I was still shivering when I slipped underneath the covers. She crawled in next to me, and after long hours of sobbing, I drifted off into sleep.

The next morning, I felt raw, and dry. I knew that I must have looked like absolute shit, with my eyes all red and puffy.

Roxy was moving around in the kitchen when I entered, putting together some scrambled eggs, just the way I liked them. She set a plate in front of me.

"I'm not hungry." I said, my voice hoarse and crackly.

"Eat." She commanded anyways. She put a huge cup of coffee right in front of my face. This almost started the waterworks again.

I sipped at the coffee and picked around the eggs, for once I wasn't hungry for breakfeast. "Roxy, I'm really not hungry."

She sighed. "Allright then. Let's get you in the shower. You okay to help your aunt?'

I nodded, padding off to the shower in her bathroom. Of course, the steady stream of water against my cheeks and back just reminded me of the events last night, reopening the wound.

This time though, I didn't cry.

It was going to be an awful day, but I was done being the weak girl who had gotten dumped by a bloke who had nothing better to do than shag blonde girls all day.

About an hour and a half later, after arguing with Roxy for over twenty minutes over why it was perfectly acceptable for me to wear sweatpants, I found myself in jeans, real bloody denim jeans, in my aunt and uncle's house. It smelled like Alisha and put me into even more of a funk if possible. Roxy was actually the only person I had left.

There was one time when I was fifteen that Alisha and I snuck out of the house one summer night and met a bunch of her friends in the park. They were all four years older than me but all I remember was how Alisha looked at me that night, like she was glad I was there.

Today was a flurry of even more flowers, scurrying around town and making sure the caterer knew what was going on. I'm assuming he does, but he only speaks French, so it's a bit of a guess.

I went through the morning and a good section of the afternoon in a daze, until it was time for me to go over and pack up my apartment.

I packed everything into boxes, and bags and more boxes, remembering the many small memories that came with each object. It seemed that everything had memories with them. Everything from the pair of socks I had never thrown out despite the ginormous hole in them, simply because they reminded me of staying with Roxy's family over the summer before our sixth year, to the couch that held many memories of me sitting in it and doing other things... with James.

Changing thought process...

Thinking of cute puppies to calm me down...

I ended up getting rid of a bunch of things, like most of my large pieces of furniture. I decided that when it came time for me to get a new apartment after Romania, I would compliment it with new furniture. I ended up earning a bit of cash from doing this, which would help when it came time for me to buy a new flat.

The only furniture I didn't donate or sell was that couch. For some reason, that ugly yellow couch was too important to me. Not just because I made out with You-Know-Who (not Voldemort, obviously) on it, but that couch was originally in my childhood home. I happened to come across it in some muggle estate sale and instantly recognized it, buying it for half it's worth. I used to sit and drink tea with my mother when I was still very young, curled up in her lap, my eyes fluttering closed while I tried to stay awake. I would sit on that couch with my father while he read the newspaper, rubbing my feet in his lap. It was all I had left of my family. I even had a memory of eating chinese take out with Alisha on that couch.

So, yeah, there was no way in hell I was getting rid of that thing. I planned on keeping it until my days as an old cat woman (It was inevitable at this point) before passing it on to another fruitful family. (If they actually were interested in a one hundred year old couch).

But anyways, cleaning out that apartment was hard. All those memories being shut in boxes or shipped off to charity or to the neighbor's flat. It felt relieving however, as if I was starting over. The last few days had taken a toll on me, and it felt like a permanent change. I could tell I was growing up, learning from my mistakes, finally being completely independent.

Which is why the new mature me wanted to get this funeral over with, stuff those boxes in a storage unit somewhere, and, for some reason, there was an inkling for closure with You-Know-Who (nope, still not Voldemort).

Roxy came by to help me carry the boxes to her place to store, as she had so faithfully volunteered to do so. We lugged the boxes to her apartment, apparating back and forth, storing as many boxes as we could in the storage closet she rarely used, except to store her out of season jackets and shoes. So, space was pretty minimal to begin with. Which is why I was left with five boxes of my junk and an ugly yellow couch that I refused to let go of.

"Look, Alex, I know you probably won't like this idea, but we have to store this stuff somewhere, and I know a perfect place..."

"Go on." I said, looking at her suspiciously as she trailed off.

"I was thinking that we could borrow Harry and Ginny's storage space. They have a ton of free space we could store all this in, and I know they wouldn't mind at all. And since he doesn't actually live there... I figured it was safe." She looked at me nervously.

I sighed, blowing a couple of spare hairs off my forehead. I considered the possibilities, as well as my other options. They were limited.

"Fine." I said. She breathed out a sigh of relief. "But only because I don't want to pay to rent storage space, and I don't know anyone else to store this stuff with."

"Great! Let's pop on over and ask Ginny!"

"Great..."

 

"Shit. I just remembered. I don't have a thing to wear tomorrow." I said, carrying the last box into the Potter's basement storage room. Believe it or not, but I didn't own a black blazer.

"Oh yeah that's right. Well, I'm sure Ginny has something. You're about her size. All my stuff is either to long or tight on you anyways." Roxy said dissmissively.

"Are you sure she wouldn't mind? I feel wierd already about being here..."

"Nonsense." She said. She grabbed my arm. "C'mon, let's go ask."

"Of course! I'm quite sure I have several things that could work." Ginny answered after Roxy asked about black outfits for me. "Why don't you come on up to my closet and we can check?"

She led us up the stairs into her and Harry's bedroom. It was large with a red-ish color scheme. Very comfortable and warm. She led us into her walk in closet and began looking thorugh hangers of dresses and such. I sat down on a little ottoman thing while Roxy and Ginny scoured the huge closet, occaisonaly finding something worthwhile, throwing it in a pile on the floor.

"Here, try these on." Roxy said, handing me a pile of black dresses and skirts.

I tried on a lot of black dresses, skirts, and pants until Roxy and Ginny were finally satisfied with a simple black dress that had as Roxy put it, "No sleeves, boat neck and a skirt that's not clingy, but not too poofy."

I finally plopped down at the Potter's kitchen table around six, as Ginny had asked us to stay for dinner as it was already getting late.

"How are you Alex? You seem really down today." Ginny said from the kitchen counter, where she was chopping up tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. Roxy was in the loo.

"I'm fine. I guess it's just my cousin's funeral." I said, shrugging. Obviously I wasn't about to spill to her the gruesome realization I had come across last night about her son.

"Ah. I see. Were you very close?"

"Not very. But she was really all I had left, you know?"

"No I don't. But I can only imagine." She looked at me sincerely. "Just know that if there's anything else you need, let any one of us know. I know that when you get back from Romania that you'll need a place to stay and help looking for a new flat, so just let me know allright?"

"Of course." I tried to smile in thanks, and managed a sort of grin. I think.

 

That night, I left the Potters and headed straight towards the pub, Roxy coming along to make sure I "didn't do any shit I would regret". At this point, there really wasn't much that I would regret tomorrow.

We went and had a couple of drinks, but we didn't stay long. Roxy was getting creeped out by this one hairy guy who kept looking our way and she didn't want me getting too pissed the night before my only relative's funeral. Roxy apparated us back to her flat, where she placed me at the table and put a cup of coffee down in front of me.

I was ready to just pass out in my jeans and shirt when there was a frenzied knock on the door. I figured it was Roxy, who had just left, to dash over to the drugstore a couple of blocks down to get some fresh tea and chocolate. She probably forgot her wallet or something.

Whoever knocked, knocked again, even more erratic.

"Yeesh Rox, no need to break down th-"

It wasn't Roxy.

It was James.

I shut the door, but before I could, he stuck his foot in the door, jamming it.

He swore. "Please Lex, just let me come in. That's all I'm asking here. Just five minutes to explain."

I thought about it. "No. And don't call me that."

I slammed the door in his face and went to make myself another cup of coffee.

He knocked again. I ignored it.

He kept knocking. "Please, Alex."

After a couple of minutes, the knocking subsided completely, and I heard him sigh.

I sat down on the floor, leaning against the door.

"James? What are you doing here leaning against my door?" I heard Roxy ask, the noise slightly muffled, about fifteen minutes later.

Yes, I had figured out that James was leaning on the opposite side of the door. I had heard him stop pacing, swear and then slide down the door about ten minutes ago.

James mumbled something about Alex not letting him in, and the pressure on the other side of the door was relocated, and I stood, backing up from the door which was now jiggling as Roxy tried to open it.

"James, I know you might regret what you said, but whatever you told her, it's too late. She's already been hurt by you." Roxy said. I could hear her digging around her bag for the keys once she realized I had locked the door.

"But I didn't do anything, Roxy. I haven't even spoken to her in person since before she left for Romania. Just letters. And I know it's not that. All I know is that I found her in the back alley of The Leaky Cauldron last night, and she was telling me that she didn't want to see me ever again. Do you know how hard the past twenty-six hours have been for me? They've been downright shitty. And I know Alex's have been too. So please, just let me talk to her."

The rustling had stopped. Roxy sighed. "Okay. But if she decides to hex you, that's all the chance you're getting." The door jiggled as Roxy inserted the key, opening the door.

"Alex." She said as she opened the door. I was sitting at the counter, pretending to do the crossword in the Daily Prophet. "Listen. I think you just need to hear James out."

Let's see... what is five spaces long and is the first word of the popular 'lucky' potion.

I filled in the word 'felix' and looked at the next problem.

"Alex, he has no idea what he's done and he deserves an explanation from you and he deserves to give you one."

Hmmm... what is the furry animal that resides in cold climate and rhymes with 'pear'.

I started to fill in the spaces. .. B..... E..............

... A ....

 

Dammit.

"Fine." I told Roxy, getting up off my seat and dragging James out into the hallway, grabbing my coat and scarf. "Let's go." I dragged him by the arm down to the street, walking for a while in silence, side by side, hands in pockets. We walked for a while until we came to a park somewhere just outside of muggle London.

I finally stopped walking, turning around to face him, my boots crunching the snow and ice beneath them.

He breathed out, forming a foggy cloud in the air.

"Listen Alex. Whatever Marina told you, I have a right to know what it was."

He stared at me intently.

I cleared my throat. "And why should I tell you when you know exactly what it was that you told her in the first place?"

"Because i'm sure it's not true at all."

"And what if it is?" I asked.

"Then I don't know why you're so mad at me. And if it isn't true, and you still don't feel the same, then that sucks, but at least you were honest and told me."

"Fine. But I know it's true. I saw you two together when I first came to the bar to meet you. You two sure looked cozy."

"What? What are you talking about?" He genuinely seemed confused. Poor boy, he must suffer from memory issues.

"I saw you and Marina snogging."

"That? Lex, she launched herself at me. I had no idea what to do. I don't even know how she knew I was going to be there."

"Uh huh. You know James, I never realized what a great actor you are. Really. You even fooled me."

"About what?"

"James, honestly. I know you don't love me. And I don't know how many girls you've used that on, but it's sick."

"What? Alex, that's -"

"Look James, it's too late, okay? You know, I meant to meet with you to tell you something. And I now know how wrong I was. Because I don't love you. And you obviously don't love me. So maybe, maybe it's just easier if we forget all this happened. You probably did the moment I left. Once you realized you weren't getting anything else out of me."

"So, you don't love me?" He seemed gravely serious now, looking at me intensely.

"Is that really all you got out of that?"

"Is it really too late?"

"Yes, and yes, I don't love you." At this moment, I knew that what I had waited for twenty nine days to say was utterly and helplessly true. I was hopelessly in love with James Sirius Potter.

But I had messed everything up with those four words.

But I knew that they had to be said. It was best that way. Better if what we had been messing around with for the past one hundred and forty three days would just end now.

That's how it had always worked for us.

It was the same when I left those ashes of a house and buried my parents beneath the soil. James had never worked in my life, and I knew now that I was just a brief little thing to him, and I had played along perfectly.

His face was oddly expressionless.

"I've waited to tell you that for twenty nine days."

"And I've waited to hear that for twenty nine days. But honestly, I love you Alex. Sincerely. But, if that's really how you feel, and you're positive you'll never change your mind, then I'll stop bothering you, and you won't hear for me for the rest of your life. However many days that is." James delivered this intensely, staring straight in my eyes.

I stared back sincerely, knowing what I had to do. "It's how I feel. And I'm not changing my mind."

"Then I guess this is goodbye. For good." He began to turn, then stopped. "And just so you know, whatever Marina told you was bull shit. Just knowing that we were friends made the past one hundred and three days the best I've had since we were eight years old together."

He turned, and my heart broke.

Because of this, I faltered for a half a second.

"James?"

He stiffened and turned a quarter of the way towards me.

"Yes?"

"In twenty nine days, if I change my mind, and you haven't changed yours... let's meet at that park by my old flat, around seven."

"Your old flat?"

"Yeah, I um, moved out of it... can't afford the rent anymore."

"I see. And yes, if I haven't changed my mind, I'll be there. But Alex?"

"Yes?" It's almost a whisper.

"If it doesn't work out, and only one of us show up, as the other has or hasn't changed their minds, I won't want to see you anymore. At all."

He turned and continued to walk away, as the realization that this tiny flicker of hope wasn't real at all, merely a figment of my imagination. My heart shattered, and I sank to the ground, plopping down onto a soft, snowy bank, the stars forming constellations above my head.

My only hope was that I would change my mind for real, as his obviously would.



 

 

 

 

 

 








A/N: Well, what did you think? Any ideas about what is going to happen next, especially in twenty nine days? Do you think Alex's going to change her mind? James? I'm guessing about three more chapters left, I'm finishing eleven right now, and there should be two more after that, and they're coming quickly, so keep in tune!
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 11: Problem #11
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling.
 

 





 Is it my fault, is it my fault?
We’ve been missing each other
We’ve been missing each other
My fault, is it my fault?
                      My Fault by Imagine Dragons

 

 






My only hope was that I would change my mind for real, as his obviously would.
 

 

 



3 Days

"Team, I'm happy to say that we have a lead, and it's a big one." Harry announced the day after I returned from Romania.

We all cheered and clapped, hoping that this meant we'd be out of here soon.

"Thank God." Leanne sighed.

"We have located the heart of their operation and are currently developing a plan to disentangle their foundation..." Harry went on to explain.

It was hard getting used to the idea of no more James. I was still mad at myself for what I did, but now that there was space between me and him, I knew that what I did was right for both of us.

I guess I believed that James wasn't just fooling around with me for a good shag, but I still didn't know if he meant what he said about loving me. I think he just got caught up in the moment and blurted it out, but, who knows. Besides, even if it was true, there's no way he still believes it now. He knows better.

Either way, we'll both find out in twenty six days.

15 Days

Still no luck. I was still head over heels in love with James. Now I just wanted to see his face. I knew that unless something life altering happened in the next fourteen days, I would be there, waiting in the park, just to know that he had moved on.

We were coming even closer to finishing the case. Plans to remove the organization were almost done being drawn up and they would take about eight days to complete. I was a little nervous about not being back in time, but I should make it there in time with a day or so to spare.

As they days grow by, I become more and more anticipated, with the butterflies settling in my stomach. This feeling is the only thing keeping me going right now, this little flame of hope, and this little piece of knowledge that in fourteen days, I'll know what he feels.

1 Day

Today was just about the hardest day of my life. After yesterday, maybe. I'm not positive.

Anyways, here's how my day went.

At seven, Roxy woke me up and shoved me in the shower, fully clothed, so as to 'get me going'. I assure you, it did nothing for me except fuel the anger for having to be woken up. Of course, once I remembered why I had to get up and what had happened last night, I sobered up pretty quickly, settling into a funk that lasted for at least seventy hours.

I changed into the dress from Ginny, trying to ignore the fact that it smelled like James did sometimes. It actually helped calm me though, despite what had gone on with James.

I inhaled the fresh, soothing scent as I listened to my aunt ramble on to the caters and drivers and guests, all about something not going right. Some of these things might have been my fault, but I didn't notice as I wasn't paying attention.

The service could be described as fitting. It was very buissnesslike, a lot of acquiantances of Alisha and of her father. No one from my side of the family, of course, as there was none.

I didn't know one person besides my aunt and uncle. I met Alisha's boyfriend, a nice looking fellow who seemed pretty down about it all. He seemed to care the most out of all the people there, even me. This made me think of James. Would he be this sad at my funeral? Sadder? Relieved?

I sure as hell hope he wouldn't feel relieved.

I watched as they lowered my last remaining relative down into the ground, and thought of James.

I missed his warm arms around me. I hadn't felt them for a month. Not since that day in the airport, when we were still best friends, plus more.

That was a good term for what we had.

We were more than friends with benefits, but we weren't all lovey dovey relationship type.

Best Friends plus more.

I rode in the nice black car from the service to the reception. We passed by a tube station and I thought of James, and the night I brought him on the underground tube system to the restaraunt near my apartment.

I sat through the luncheon with people I didn't know, eating a crappy salad and some decent cucumber sandwitches. Everything was very quiet, and it was slightly unnerving.

It felt very good to come back to Roxy's flat and simply plop straight down onto the couch and take off my uncomfortable shoes.

There was an owl waiting for me when I got back. It was from Al.


Dear Alex,

Thanks for the advice last time. I've noticed that she doesn't like her boyfriend very much and that she is probably going to break up with him soon. I sure hope she does, as he is a prat. I'm thinking of asking her out once she breaks up with him, but I feel like she'd just laugh in my face. What should I do?

Al

Dear Al,

I have no clue to be honest. I would reccomend casually suggesting to her that if she really doesn't like her boyfriend that they should break up. Make sure to do it completely platonically and as her friend, not as competition. Once she does, it all depends what you feel like doing. If you think you love this girl, however, don't let her go. Love sucks, unless if it's real. I know this is kind of a suckish letter, but I'm not feeling it today. You should just ask Lily.

Alex

 

After writing this depressing letter to Al, I passed out on Roxy's bed, exhausted, thinking of James.

Day 8

Only twenty one more days until I'll know.

Last night, Leanne took me out for beer to 'liven my spirits'. I've been pretty down the past few days, and apparently, people are noticing.

Yesterday for example, I talked to Harry. This is how our conversation went:

"How are you doing Alex? You seem kinda down."

"I'm fine. Just been under a lot of stress."

"Is it about your cousin?"

"Yeah, partly. The flat too a little bit." And your son. (Which I wanted to say but didn't).

"Well, if there's anything I can do, just let me know. Have you talked to James recently?"

*awkwardly tries not to show any emotion on face* "Not to much. He's doing okay I think."

"Just wondering if that's what has you down."

"Well, yeah a little. Nothing major, I guess."

"Well, I always thought you two were great together."

"You know we weren't actually dating."

"I know, but James told me a little bit about what went on between you too."

*blushes* "Really? How much?"

"Not enough to understand you two, but just a little bit about what happened over Christmas and a little before that."

"Oh, okay."

"Don't worry. Nothing too personal."

"Okay. Well, thanks Harry."

"Yeah, no problem. I really am sorry about your cousin. I don't know how close you were, but I know you would meet up with her a lot."

"Yeah, we weren't the tightest, but we were pretty close."

"Well, hopefully things will only go up from here for you." He smiled warmly, putting his hand on my shoulder in that fatherly way he always did.

Now I was sitting in a Romanian pub with a tankard of beer in front of me, listening to a bunch of drunk men sing some long folk song about a man who lost his goat. All the while thinking of James.

Yep, only up from here.

24 Days

Only two more days.

Less than fifty hours.

That's less than three thousand minutes.

The anticipation is boiling very intensely right now.

Everyone is celebrated because we just finished the mission today, putting over thirty vampires in the custody of the ministry. We leave tomorrow, and we should get back late tomorrow night.

Currently, a drunk Ron Weasley is going over all the things he's going to do with his wife when he gets home.

It's really quite vulgar, especially since I know Hermione, and if she were here she would grab him by the ear and hurl him into the snow.

Everyone's spirits are also very high because we are going to recieve a big fat paycheck when we return that could probably be used to pay to feed two dozen Romanian goats for a year. Feeding them fancy french grain imported from Argentina. So yeah, a lot of moolah.

I was simply glad to be returning back home to England. And James. Even if he didn't show up, at least I would know.

All I know is that nothing life altering has happened and I'm still mad for him.

two thousand, five hundred and eighty three minutes left.

17 Days

We have recently begun the plan to take down the vampire organization that's plotting against the ministry and life in general. Sinister, I know.

Only twelve days until I find out whether his mind has changed. Mine still hasn't.

It's a shame, but it's all that's left of me right now.

I'm becoming more and more desperate.

Last night for example, Leanne took me to the 'nice pub' of the region. Took us a half hour to get there, and there was an actual nice bar there, with nice polished wood and decent lighting.

She's been doing great to help cheer me up. She reminds me of Roxy, who I miss very dearly. I know that Leanne would like her, and that when we get back, they'll end up good friends. After I introduce them of course.

Still thinking of James, even as I watch Leanne down three tankards of beer and dance on top of some poor gentlemen's table.

Shit.

21 Days

Here I am, with eight days and two hours left, and I'm still in love with him. My mind has only grown stronger. One of my two only sensible hopes is that he's changed his mind.

My other is that he still loves me, and as much as I love him.

We are just about finished with the mission and we'll be back just in time for me to sleep for a couple of hours, then have a decent amount of time before meeting James when I get back to England.

Oh, by the way, Al's written me a couple more times.

I apologized for being so pessimistic towards him, blaming it on the weather.

He said he casually suggested to the girl to break up with her boyfriend, and she slammed him with her history of magic textbook.

Idiot. He obviously wasn't platonic at all, and they must not have been on the best terms.

I told him this, and suggested to just leave her be for a little while before assesing the situation again.

I thought of James and added, but don't wait longer than twenty days. That's just torture.

 

28 Days

Only twenty two hours until I'll know for sure.

Currently, I am lugging my suitcase down the many wooden stairs to where the rest of the team is waiting for our ride to the airport two hours away by car.

We load into the dingy old cabs, riding along to the even smaller, remote airport.

Our feet echo in the mostly empty airport as Harry leads the way to the desk where we get our tickets. He talks with the woman there for several minutes before turning back to us.

"Listen up everybody." He says, standing before us all. "There's a bit of an issue with getting tickets for the flight home. Our original flight is canceled for the weather, and we're going to have to wait around here for the next available flight. That's in about four hours. I'm very sorry, and so is Patrice over here, so please be respectable."

Four hours?!

I quickly do the math.

This means that by the time I get out of the airport it will be about two o' clock London time. That's plenty of time to catch a cab or apparate to meet James.

It'll be fine.

I keep telling myself as we sit around playing cards and chatting and complaining for the next three hours.

I watch out the windows and think of James.

The snow keeps barrelling down, without hardly any relief. I wonder what James is doing, what he's thinking, whether he's thinking of me.

It's been three and a half when the next announcement comes.

"I'm really very sorry you lot, but the weather is too bad for any flights. The soonest we can get out of here is tonight at midnight, as long as the weather reports hold true.

I do the math again.

It's four o' clock Romanian time. I need to be back seven o' clock London time.

We're leaving at midnight Romanian time...

We'll be back around ten o' clock London time.

I sit frozen in my seat.

"Alex, you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost or something." Leanne says.

"Ten o' clock... We won't be back until ten o' clock tomorrow... "

"So? Why that face? You got a hot date or something?"

I turn and look at her. Her face turns serious.

She looks around, then pulls me back into a deserted hallway, away from everybody else.

"What's this about Alex?"

I tell her, on the verge of a panic attack. I tell her everything she doesn't know. About what happened over Christmas. About what happened twenty eight days ago. What our agreement was. How I still desperately love him. How I have to know whether he changed his mind or not.

I stare straight at her the whole time. She stares at me right on back, barely saying anything, reminding me so much of Roxy, it's scary. She rubs my shoulders soothingly when I finish, well she tells me that it's going to be okay, that it's going to be okay in the end.

I remembered what James had said, about not wanting to see me if I don't show up. This is really my last chance.

"Leanne... I have to be there. I just have to." I whispered, staring out at the snow encasing the whole bloody country.

"Okay Alex, we'll get you there." She looked scary serious as she marched me back into the main area, over to Harry.

"Mr. Potter." Leanne said resolutely.

"Hello Leanne, Alex. What can I do for you?" He looked up from whatever documents he was reading from his seat next to Ron.

"Alex needs to be back in London by six o' clock tomorrow, or so help me God, I am going to blow a gasket. I'm pretty sure Alex already has."

His eyebrows creased, confused. "Why the urgency?"

"It's of the utmost importance." She insisted. "Is there any way she can aparate back?"

"No, it's much too far to risk, and the weather's so bad that there's too much interference."

I begin to shake.

Leanne looked at me, quite nervous, before turning back to Harry.

"Mr. Potter! This is life or death sort of stuff! And I assure you, that if Alex doesn't make it back in time, I will personally make sure that you will never see my Protego charm again!"

Oh, that was low. Leanne was famous for her amazing Protego charm. She was recruited at the age of 17 because of it.

Harry looked genuinely scared.

"Please, Harry." I said in a whisper, so desperate I thought I was going to burst.

"That bad huh?" He thought for a moment. "Well, I suppose if you gave me a little bit, I could try and set up some apparition points for you two."

"Thank you." I sighed.

He got up and walked away, going off to organize things for us.

Leanne took a seat while I paced around her, anxious for Harry to finish speaking with the ministry.

"Well, it looks like you two are able to apparate together to a series of different spots. First if from here out to Hungary. From there you will apparate to Austria, then France, then England. Here are your instructions," He handed us a huge stack of parchment with instructions. "and make sure not to draw attention to yourselves, you know the drill."

"Thank you so much Mr. Potter, we really appreiciate it." Leanne said gratefully and relieved.

"How many times have I told you Leanne, it's Harry. Now, be safe, you promise? Don't just try to rush through, take your time and you'll be back in no time at all." He smiled.

I hugged him fiercely. "Thank you Harry." He seemed surprised, but hugged me back anyways.

"Good luck Alex. And don't worry, you'll definitely be back by seven."

"What?"

Did he know?

He just winked and waved us off to the back corridor.

The next twenty two hours were some of the hardest, most anxious hours I will probably ever spend.

We apparated to the different checkpoints easily, but we had to go through a customs officer in Austria, ride in a goat cart for three hours in Romania, we got held up in France with less than five hours to go, we got lost from Austria to France, and were held up by Sheep in Romania as well. By the time we reached France, I only had ten minutes. I was freaking out.

"Just calm down Alex, we'll get there. We've worked too hard to miss it. Just breathe. We can't apparate out of here if you don't calm down." Leanne spoke soothingly to me, as my breathing currently sounded like some sort of broken pipe in the midst of muggle London's tube system.

"Okay." I took several deep breaths, simply breathing in and out for a couple of minutes.

Five minutes left.

"Okay, I'm ready. Let's go."

We apparated into a field in the middle of a town an hour outside of London.

When I realized where we were, I lost it.

Absolutely lost it.

"LEANNE! I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!!!"

"Shhhh... Alex, c'mon, calm down, we just need to apparate into London."

"NO! DON'T YOU GET IT? WE'RE GOING TO BE TOO LATE! HE'LL BE GONE! HE PROBABLY WASN'T EVEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? I NEED HIM! I NEED HIM, LEANNE. I need him..."

She grabbed my shoulders tightly. "Then let's go get him."

We apparated into an alley in muggle London about twenty or so blocks from the park.

"Allright, Alex, time for you to run. Good luck." She bid me ado as I sprinted out of the alley, emerging into the city lights. The sky was a navy blue, with all the busy street lights lit up, cars racing past.

I ran.

I shoved past people, jumped over curbs, and ran through intersections.

I ran.

I scrambled past familiar landmarks.

I ran.

I went past the Thai restaraunt I frequented.

I ran.

I ran past the buildings I used to see every day by my old apartment.

I ran.

I ran past the streetcorner where James and I had kissed.

I ran.

I ran through the melting snow, to the park where I could only hope he would still be waiting.

I ran.

I ran, I hoped, I worried.

I stopped at the entrance to the park, scanning the walkway where he should be.

All I saw was a brick path, winding amongst the trees. Several street lights lit up the path into the distance where I knew there was a bridge across a little creek, with a great view of the city lights.

I didn't see him.

He hadn't come.

The breath left me as I sank down onto the bench.

So much.

We had been through so much.

And I knew right then that I really had no idea whether or not Marina had told the truth. She had no reason to say those things however, unless she truly thought so. But James had just seemed so confused and baffled. He seemed to really love me, despite what Marina had said.

I didn't want to think about this now.

I didn't feel whole, as I thought I would just by knowing his choice.

I just felt empty, knowing he didn't pick me.

I got up, and began walking down the path.

Despite, how he made me feel at home, for once in my sorry life, despite how good it felt to kiss him, and how much I wanted him, despite the fact that he was my best friend, despite the fact that he was the only one to make me cry, despite he was all I had left, despite that I needed him, and despite the utterly true fact that I loved him, he hadn't come.

He hadn't chosen me. But I had chosen him.

The park was very empty, a cold breeze blowing through the trees, as the street lamps reflected off the water left from a recent rain on the sidewalks.

As I made my way slowly towards the bridge, I spotted a figure, walking across it.

I knew instantly, that I was wrong.

I ran.

"James!" I called out.

I ran after him, stopping at the foot of the bridge.

"James!"

He turned from where he was at the other end of the bridge.

I ran across the bridge.

We met in the middle.

I didn't even bother talking, simply kissing him, feeling his arms circle around me, knowing that I was home.

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 12: Problem #12
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Disclaimer: Anything recognizable belongs to JK Rowling.

 

 

 

 









Wow! Last chapter! I can't believe I'm actually finished with this story! It's my first finished piece! I'd like to give a blanket thank you to all you awesome people who reviewed, you kept the story going, and to all of you other awesome readers out there! I would like to say, I will probably come back and edit this at some point, adding little scenes and tidbits from time to time, but I have two other stories to work on, and a whole 'nother idea stirring around in the alphabet soup also known as my brain. So keep your eyes out for stuff. I also have a one-shot in the works that all you Alex/James shippers will appreiciate! So thanks so much to all you readers, and enjoy the last chapter! Nuff' said.

 

 A/N (12/3): so, the sequel for this story is up, with a third chapter coming soon. I like to call it a seprequel because each chapter contains something post-epilogue for those who like the happy ending the best, and contains stuff from Hogwarts time, which is the stuff I love, you know, the build up.

Also, you should check out my Al/OC story if you like this chapter in particular! Not to mention the one-shot containing these two lovebirds (may or not contain a proposal... *whistles, trying to act naturally*)

Thanks again to all my readers (at this point there are 21,000!!!!!!!!!) {squeeeeee!}
 

 

 

 








Now I have come to understand,
The way it is,
It's not a secret anymore,
'cause we've been through that before,
            - Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae

 
 

I didn't even bother talking, simply kissing him, feeling his arms circle around me, knowing that I was home.

And then, it started to rain.

It was like a glorious outbreak in the heavens, pouring down its cool rushes of water unto us.

I broke away, and simply laughed.

I laughed seriously for the first time in years. James immediately caught on and joined me, us two laughing like absolute maniacs in the middle of a rainstorm on a bridge in the center of London.

It was perfect.

"Twenty nine days was much too long." He said, the first one to break the silence, his laugh dying down. His eyes looked like they were on fire, giving me a blazing look like green swirls of fire.

"Much. Much too long." I agreed, kissing him again.

"I love you." I said, finally, breaking away for a brief second.

He smiled again. "And I love you."

 

 

"James! Are you sure this is the right window?" I hissed in the dark, currently clinging to the branch that my health depended on.

"It's my own house, I'm pretty positive." He said from below me, watching me, ready to catch me if (or when) I fall.

"Okay." I said aprehensively. "Remind me again why we didn't just take the front door?"

"This is easier." He said.

"In what way James?" I asked, trying not to lose my patience.

"I don't want to get caught sneaking into my father's study. Plus, my family thinks I'm in Wales for the weekend. Double plus, YOU wanted to avoid the whole 'yeah we're dating now' situation with Lily and Al."

Right. So worth it now that I think of it.

We'd only been together for just over twenty four hours, and I was trying to avoid Lily and Albus for as long as I could, as they'd be absolutely insuffurable.

"Okay, here I go..." I say, jumping onto the tiny balcony adjacent to the window.

"Coast is clear, come on up." I whisper into the darkness.

"Is it locked?" He asked, climbing up the base of the tree.

"Yeah, but I'm on it." I whisper back, in the midst of jimmying the lock.

There was a satisfying click and I was able to slide the window open gracefully, tumbling into the room not so gracefully.

I let out an 'oomph', and to my surprise, someone yelled in response.

"WHA? DON'T MOVE! WHO'S THERE? I'M ARMED!"

"Al! Don't worry it's just m- JAMES NO!"

There was another crash and James toppled in through the window right on top of me.

I sighed, cringing. There would definitely be a nasty bruise on my elbow.

"WHOEVER YOU ARE, YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT I'M ARMED... AND I KNOW KUNG-FU. AND A VARIETY OF WATER CRESS TAI KWON DO!"               

"Shut up Al." James said. "Water Cress Tai Kwon Do? Really mate?"

"AHA! I SEE THE PERPETRATOR HAS TAKEN HOLD OF MY RECORDS! BUT ALAS! HE HAS MADE A MISTAKE! YOU'RE NOT JAMES! JAMES IS IN WALES!"

"No he's not, I'm right here, you arse." James said. I couldn't see him in the dark, but I could sense him rubbing a sore spot on his head.

"PROVE IT!"

"Just turn on the damn light. We can't see a damn thing."

A couple of moments later, the lights flashed on. We were in a teenage boy's room, and I was still on the floor, behind Al.

"HIIIIGGGHHHH YAHHH!" Al yelled, charging straight at James, who was convieniently right in front of him, under the window.

"YOU BLITHERING IDIOT!" James shouted as Al continued to whack James over the head with his pillow, while wearing footie p.j.'s with little snitches and brooms on them.

"I SEE THAT YOU FOUND YOURSELF SOME POLYJUICE POTION!" Al exclaimed. "CLEVER, BUT NOT CLEVER ENOUGH!"

"Oh for god's sake Al..."

It was actually a pretty funny situation, watching James get terrorized by his younger brother, who was wearing footie pjamas. Which is why I started laughing.

Al turned and looked at me, trying to stifle my laughter.

"I'm sorry, carry on... " I said, between chuckles. "But... I just have to ask... Are those actual footie pjamas?"

Al looked away from me for a second to glance down at his sleepwear choice.

James started laughing too.

"What the hell is going on in here? Doesn't anyone in this damn house understand the concept of beauty sleep?" Lily grumbled as she entered the room, rubbing her eyes.

"Sorry Lils." James apologized. "We were just going anyways..." He said, averting his eyes to me and then the door, in silent agreement.

I started to slip out, trying to get past Lily and Al without them grasping what was going on.

Didn't work out too well.

"Alex? What are you doing here?" Al finally asked, still blushing from the footie pajama comment.

"Alex?" Lily questioned, turning to see me. "What the hell? Why are you here..." A grin broke out across her face. "Oh, this is too good."

Shit.

"So, how long have you two been dating?" Lily asked as we sat at the kitchen table, where James and I were sitting side by side with Al and Lily across from us, coffee in front of each of us. James was holding a bag of frozen peas to his head where he hit it, and I had frozen corn on my elbow.

"Like, thirty two hours or summat." James said, kind of mumbling. I looked at him, and a grin broke across my face at how ridiculous he looked, holding that bag of peas to his forehead.

He started laughing too, the two of us breaking down into laughter in the middle of the table.

"This is absolutely pathetic! I should have been notified at least thirty one hours ago of this happening!" Lily exclaimed.

"Whatever you say, Lils." James says, rolling his eyes. "You'll be the first to know the next time something big happens."

"Right. Glad we're on the same page." She said, mistaking his sarcasm for utmost seriousness. James just sighs and starts to drink the coffee Lily had made. "When you get engaged. I better be the first person you tell."

Cue James spraying his coffee all over the table.

I can feel a blush creeping up on my face.

Al just laughs.

I glare, patting James on the back to prevent him from choking.

"It's a little early for that, is it not?" I say, my blush subsiding. James is finally done coughing.

"Not in my eyes." Lily says plainly.

I roll my eyes.

"So, Al. How's Taylor?" James asks, turning the conversation away from us.

"Splendid." He said, averting his eyes to anywhere but James or I.

"Still in love with her?" I ask.

"Er... I guess, but I really don't think she feels that way, so it's better if we just stay friends for now." His face is turning red.

"Well, as the saying goes, the way to a man's heart is cooking. The way to a woman's is friendship." I said wisely.

James scoffs. "You just made that up didn't you?"

"Yes. But it is true. At least somewhat." I shrug. He just smiles and rests a hand on my knee.

"Well, as far as I've learned," Lily says, "The way to a man's heart is either chocolate, or s..."

"Or what?" Al asked, staring her down threateningly, anticipating her answer. 

"Er... sorbert. Sorbert." she says, blushing.

"That's what I thought." James said.

I laugh again, leaning into James.

He looks at me and smiles, reaching down to kiss me.

It’s official. I am irrevocably, absolutely, and unequivocally in love with James Potter.    

And I’ve never felt so at home.

I guess, that's the thing about James. I'm at home whenever I'm with him.

And the thing about life is, life's short, and is hard. So you just have to find that center, and keep rooted there, holding on for your life.

 

 

“James, if you don’t pick up the pace a bit, Hermione’s going to have your head.” Alex says over her shoulder, walking down the path, her nice shoes clicking against the stones. She’s pulling me along by my hand, but is smiling and rolling her eyes. She looks beautiful in a nice green dress and nice heels and earrings. She left her hair as she usually does, a touch of the regular Alex.

“She won’t mind if we’re a little late. In fact, she’d be proud of us for being ‘fashionably late’.” I respond.

“It doesn’t count as being fashionably late if we’re always late.” She retorts.

“I think it should.”

“Yes, but you have to admit, being an hour late to your family’s Christmas dinner doesn’t bode well.” She chided.

“Well, they’re your family too, so they won’t be lecturing just me.” I reminded her.

“Yes, but they like me better. Plus, I’m still pretty new, so they’ll probably let me off the hook.” She smirks.

I roll my eyes. “It’s been, like, seven months and two weeks. You wish.”

“No. I just know.”

“Cocky much?” I raise an eyebrow teasingly.

“Perhaps. Why? Are you intimidated?” She gives me a jokingly intense stare.

No, but I am turned on. I just smirk at her and wink.

She rolls her eyes. “Just pick up the pace James. Now’s not a good time to get distracted.”

“You know you want to.” I say, kissing her neck, right underneath her ear. She smells good.

She leans into me. “Yes, well, your parents, and all your relatives are probably waiting for us, and they already have a lot over my head…” She sighs, turning around to kiss me.

“Still paying off the bet? It’s been, like a year and a half you know.” I remind her, between kisses.

She breaths out. “Possibly. It’s just so much damn money. And I’m trying to pay it gradually, since we’re saving up for a house and all that.”

“Alex, you don’t have to worry about that.” I say seriously. “You know that we already have a decent amount saved up, and with both our salaries, it’ll add up quickly.”

“I know.” She sighs, resignedly. “I just don’t like giving into their satisfaction.”

I laugh. “You’re impossible.”

“Only when I feel like it. And we should really go, they’re all waiting fo-“ I cut her off with a kiss.

“Allright. We actually need to go now Alex. Stop getting so distracted.” I say, smiling.

She glares. “Don’t even.”

“What? Were my rugged good looks too much for you? Or was it my snogging abilities?” I smirk.

“I can’t believe you. YOU distracted me.”

“What? I can’t kiss my own wife?”

“You’re impossible.”

I laugh.

“C’mon.” She says, pulling me along.

We walk along the street, under the sparse street lamps, to Ron and Hermione’s place. They’re hosting Christmas this year, as the Burrow is under construction, and Grandpa Arthur’s been in bed with the flu, preventing the fretting Molly from cleaning up the house. He’s better now, thanks to her. I hope Alex and I will be like that.

But then I remember, Of course we will.

“James! Alex! Come in!” Says my aunt Hermione as we step into the entry hall. “What took you so long?”

“Er… just got caught up in doing a couple things. Sorry, hope you haven’t been waiting for us or anything.” I explain.

“Oh no! The roast is almost done, you have great timing.”

I give Alex a look that clearly says, “I told you so.”

She rolls her eyes. “Here are the caramels that I said I would bring, Hermione.” She hands her the tin of caramels that took five pans, three pots, four wooden spoons to hit me with when I tried to sneak a sample, three hours, twenty kisses, and a partridge in a pear tree to make.

I know. Still not the greatest cooks. But we’re getting there. Plus, they actually turned out great, probably thanks to Alex’s mom’s old recipe we used.

“Oh! Great! They’ll love these I’m sure! Hope it wasn’t too much trouble!” She says. More people appear over her shoulder as she turns into the kitchen to check on Grandma Molly’s roast, and I make out Al and Louis.

I help Alex shrug out of her coat, hanging ours on the overflowing rack.

“Hey Alex. Is that a hickey?” Apparently this is a common greeting for Al to ask Alex. She blushes every time though.

“No.” She blushes. She touches her neck. Oops. I guess she does have one.

“C’mon Al. We’re married now.” I remind him.

“Hey Louis, Hugo.” Alex says, nodding to Louis and Hugo, who just walked in the door.

“Alex!” My sister exclaims, practically bouncing into Alex’s arms.

“Hey Lily, long time no see.” Alex laughs, returning Lily’s embrace.

“I know! I’ve missed you!”

“Missed you too, sis.” I say from the side.

“Hey James.” She gives me a hug too, laughing.

I look to Alex, and she just shakes her head, giving me a look, like, “Can you believe her?”

I smile, and shake my head. My dad shows up by the door and gives me and Alex one of those knowing looks before hugging each of us, like the one he gave when he found out we were dating. Like he wasn’t even surprised.

Later, after a nice, long dinner and night, Alex and I are walking down the street after apparating into an alley near to our flat.

“Man, your family is the best.” She says.

“I know. And now they’re your family too.” I remind her for the second time that night.

Our family is the best.” She says, smiling, emphasizing the ‘our’. I like how that sounds, and lean in to kiss her.

“I know.” I say, leaning down into her.

And I think of how unquestionably I love her.

And I feel at home.

"Home is where the heart is" as they say.

And I say, to truly come home, find your heart. Mushy, I know, right?

But seriously. You just need to find your #3 extra spicy chicken pepper pad thai, and stay there.

And that's the thing about life. 
 

It's not about the troubles that bring you down, but the things that hold you together.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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