Chapter 3 : Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal
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chapter image by the amazing Genevieve @ TDA
You stand a little too tall, say a little too much, you're gonna bite that know-it-all tongue. You tried a little too hard, now I'm calling that bluff.
Big plans are coming undone.
-Keep The Change, You Filthy Animal by All Time Low
August 21st, 10:23 A.M. - Adams’ Residence
“Are you sure?” my father asks as we sit in his living room.
The living room is as cozy as ever, with warm colors and furniture that's been here since I was a kid. If you flip the brown pillow on the couch across from us you can still see the purple stain I got on there from my 'artistic' phase when I was 5.
I let out a loud sigh, “Yes. For the hundredth time, the answer is yes.”
“Because there is plenty of room here, and you’re just out of school; you don’t need to be out on your own-”
I interrupt him before he can continue, "Dad, I promise I can handle it! Stella and I got our own place over a month ago, it's time to accept that you little kid has left the nest."
I feel bad about my annoyed tone, so I laugh lightly, trying to sound kinder. “I know you’re worried about me living on my own, but we will be able to manage it. Plus, there is this whole magic thing that really comes in handy when dealing with intruders and what-not.”
He laughs, but I can see there’s a bit of sadness in his eyes. “I know, sport; you’re an adult now, yada yada yada. Just don’t forget about your old man, alright?”
I know he wants me living at home because he is very protective, but sometimes I wonder if it’s also because he’s afraid of being alone. It was always just the two of us since I was little. Mum left, and it feels like I’m leaving him, too. I know it’s not the same but I still feel the guilt.
“I could never forget you, Pops,” I smile warmly, and he gives me one in return.
People always say we have the same smile, but I don't agree. Nobody has seen his real smile since she left, if they had they would know how much nicer it is than mine. How much warmth it has.
“You know I love you, right, Dad?”
“Of course, June, a father always knows. Just like I know you are going to tell me about your first week as a working woman!”
I laugh, “Don’t even get me started. My supervisor is a total git-”
I continue to tell him all about my first couple of days and he seems entertained. I become so caught up in talking that I lose track of time, not realizing it’s already eleven until the timer goes off in the kitchen.
“Oh darn it, look how late it is! I really have to go. I’m supposed to be meeting someone," I glance at the clock again. “Now.”
I run into the kitchen to turn off the timer, grab my things, and head to the door. “Sorry I can’t stay longer, dad. I’ll try to stop by again soon.”
“Going to see that Albus boy?” he asks as I turn the doorknob.
An awkward silence ensues as he waits for me to say something.
“Um, no, we’re not really together anymore…” I trail off, not really knowing what to say.
“Ah, I see. Well have fun, but stay out of trouble. You are still my baby girl.”
“Me, in trouble? That would never happen! But I will be if I don’t get going now,” I laugh, closing the door behind me.
August 21st, 11:09 A.M. –Hallway outside of Flat
Stella and I live in a muggle area, so I was unsure if I should risk apparating right to my door considering there’s always the chance that someone could be in the hallway. However, the desire to not be even more late out-weighed the risks. So I did it, and I nearly landed on top of a very flustered James Potter.
Even when he's nearly being flattened, he still manages to look fit. Those dark wash jeans he's wearing are really working for him.
“Sorry! Not just for landing on you, well, I am sorry for that, but I’m also sorry for being late! I was at my dad’s house and I lost track of-“
James laughs, grabbing my shoulders, “Calm down, Adams, you’re going to have a stress-related meltdown”
I sigh, relaxing. “You are right, as always. I am sorry, though; I’m just a bit frazzled this morning.
“Frazzled?” he raises his eyebrows dubiously.
“It’s a word! Look it up, chump.”
“Whatever you say, my lady. But don’t worry, It was no big deal you were late. However, I was starting to think you had stood me up,” he says with a smirk.
I put my hand to my heart, feigning shock, “What, stand up James Potter? That’s unheard of. Practically blasphemy in my opinion.”
Another laugh escapes his lips, “My thoughts exactly. Now let’s get out of here, I’m starved.”
August 21st, 12:43 P.M. –Some fancy restaurant
My eyes are locked, leaving me unable to tear my gaze away from where Albus Potter entered the building just moments before.
“I don’t think this date was such a great idea.”
“This date was a great idea!”
We blurt out at the same time, saying entirely different things. I look down at the beige table cloth, running my fringers across the lacy edge.
There is silence as his smile falls into a thin frown, “Why don’t you think this was a great idea?” he asks, looking at me straight in the eye. “Everything seemed to be going fine.”
“Everything is going fine! In fact, I am having a wonderful time. The food, the witty banter, your hair; it all surpassed my expectations.
James laughs, “Well then, what’s the problem?”
“In all honesty, I had ulterior motives behind saying yes to this date. The primary motivator being that it would hopefully make Albus jealous…”
His shoulders slouch slightly as he nods, letting me continue.
“I figured it would make him see he still wanted me, and the two of us could have a good time in the process. What I didn’t account for was him being here,” I jerk my head in the direction of his table, “And now this whole thing just seems ridiculous. I feel awful about using you. It’s wrong and rather pathetic. Almost as pathetic as the fact that it didn’t even work.”
I stare down at my now empty plate, waiting for him to speak.
He takes a deep breath, breathing out a gust of air. “Being truthful, I was kind of using you as well. Not that I didn’t want to go out with you, because I did, but my ‘primary motivator’ was that I knew it would piss my brother off.”
My eyes slowly widen as my jaw drops just a bit. He was using me, too?
Thinking I’m upset, he frantically asks, “You’re not mad are you? Because you just said-”
I place my hand on his across the table to silence him, “I’m not mad. Actually, I’m somewhat relieved. Now I don’t feel quite so guilty. But are you mad?”
“Yes and no. Not mad at you, though. I’m mad that my weasel of a brother’s actions are affecting you like this. I’m mad that you feel like you needed to do something to make him want you again, when he clearly doesn’t deserve it. Just look,” James glances over to Al’s table; “He’s got some tarty-looking blonde with him as we speak. You deserve better than him.”
I look over and see the aforementioned girl. I can feel the tears welling up in the back of my eyes. James called her a tart, but that must have been for my benefit because she looks gorgeous. It’s like she stepped right off a runway and into the restaurant. Not to mention she has a chest that’s bigger than a pair of quaffles.
“Oh for love of Merlin, I can’t compete with that!”
His eyebrows crumple in confusion, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I throw my arms in the air, frustrated. “You should know, you are a male after all. I’m ordinary looking on my best days. Guys don’t just go from dating girls like her to girls like me.”
He laughs at this, changing my frown to a scowl.
“I don’t see what’s so damn funny about this, Potter.”
“Oh, I’ll tell you what’s funny. It’s funny that you’d say you’re ordinary when you are anything but. I think you have a classic case of distorted body image, Adams, because that is the last word I’d use to describe you.”
Instantly my cheeks flush with red at his compliment. I don’t know how to respond to that, so I try to diverge from the subject. “Did you just use the words, ‘distorted body image’?”
Now he’s the blushing one, “Well, Lily would always leave her TeenWitch magazines lying around, and I may have picked up on a few things… I thought it would help with talking to the ladies.”
I burst out laughing. It’s loud enough that practically everyone is now staring; everyone except Albus and QuaffleBoobs, that is.
“Hey! It’s not that funny. It takes a real man to admit he reads his sisters magazines on occasion.” He pounds his fist into his chest in an ‘I’m an alpha male’ sort of way.
Relieved to have moved on to lighter subjects, I let out another laugh. “You keep telling yourself that.”
He smiles and we fall into a comfortable silence. He puts his hands on mine like I had them before. It feels nice having someone’s hand to hold again, if only for a little while.
“Let’s get out of here. Sitting around here can’t be easy for you.”
I know what he’s referring to, so I nod in agreement. “Definitely not easy, but don’t you think I should be heading home?”
“Nonsense! We went through all this trouble to use each other, we should at least have a little fun,” he throws in a flirty wink for good measure.
“I suppose you’re right… What are we going to do though?”
James beams at me, “Excellent; and don’t you worry about it. Just follow my lead.”
Apprehensively, I agree. He leans in, whispering, “Okay, on the count of three we’ll start.”
What have I just gotten myself into?
This can’t be good.
At that, he jumps out of his seat. Startled, I follow suit.
“SNOG ME BABY. SNOG ME REAL GOOD.”
Next thing I know James and I are kissing like mad in the middle of the restaurant. People begin clearing their throats and making other noises to signify they feel this is rude, but I just deepen the kiss, too afraid to pull away and risk seeing Albus’ table.
“Um, excuse me Monsieur and Madame, but some people are trying to eat...” A waiter says, obviously feeling very awkward, but doing his best to hide it.
“You’re right; we should take this back home anyway. That way you can be naughty without bothering these nice people, Sugar Lips.” I say using my best sultry voice.
“Why of course! Why didn’t I think of that before, Love Muffin?” hee says, throwing down a handful of coins onto the table. There’s way more than necessary, but he doesn’t take any back.
“Keep the change, you filthy animal!” I say to the waiter, while James throws me on his back. Leaving by piggyback ride is something I’ve always wanted to try.
"Hold on tight, Spidermonkey," he says as we make our way to the exit.
Right before leaving he shouts, “ADAMS, YOU SURE HAVE A NICE BUM.” James and Al make the briefest eye contact before we get the door slammed shut in our faces.
As soon as it clicks shut, he let's me down and I start to run. I’m running so fast my lungs are burning. I used to run all the time, it was always something that helped me clear my head, but I just haven’t had the will to do it for quite awhile.
My head start doesn’t keep James from catching up to me easily. We continue sprinting until the end of the street, and I practically keel over once we stop.
James, on the other hand, looks perfectly fine.
“Out of shape, Adams?”
“I,” huff “am not,” huff “out of shape!” huff huff.
“Sure, so you’re just panting like a dog because you’re hoping to attract that German Sheppard over there?” he laughs, pointing across the street.
I collapse down on the nearest bench, “Can you really blame me? Look at that shiny fur, it’s practically irresistible.” I deadpan as I catch my breath.
James laughs and concedes that a shiny coat is a rather sought-after trait. He also sits down, though I doubt he’s in need of a rest.
“So… We really made a scene back there,” I say a bit awkwardly, not really sure how I feel about what went down. In the moment, I was thrilled, but now I’m not so sure.
He nods in agreement, “We surely did, Adams. Albus was absolutely fuming by the time we left; serves that git right.”
He scoffs, “I know. I could see it in his eyes that he just wanted to rip me to shreds. But, he had that girl with him, so there wasn’t much he could do about it. Hopefully, he’ll come find me later; I’d love an excuse kick his scrawny butt.”
James looks towards me, waiting for my approval, but I’m at a loss for words. I thought I’d enjoy getting revenge, but hearing James talk about him in such a venomous way makes me feel a bit disgusted with myself. Going around having snog-fests in restaurants with the sole intention of hurting him like he hurt me isn’t the way to solve anything.
Quietly, I say, “Actually, James… I’m starting to feel this whole thing was a big mistake. Even if he did break my heart, it doesn’t make what I did okay.”
A look of total shock flitters across his face. “Wait, what? You don’t feel guilty, do you? Because Albus deserves everything he gets and you shouldn’t care if you upset him when he obviously didn’t care that he upset you.”
I gaze sadly at him, “That’s the thing though; I can’t not regret hurting him. When you love someone, their pain is your pain. There’s no way around it.”
“So you’re telling me, that after all of that, you’re even more miserable than before?” he asks incredulously.
I hang my head, unable to look up from the dirt on my shoes. “Yup, that’s what I’m saying.”
I expect him to be mad, to yell at me for being so back-and-forth about it all, but he surprises me by laughing softly and letting out a sigh. “You really are a complicated girl, Adams.”
Glad to see that I haven’t mucked up everything today, I flash a meager smile. “If only I came with a manual, it would save the world a heap of trouble.”
He stands and extends his hand to help me up, “Nah, everyone makes a mess of things once in awhile, it’s in our nature. The real problem is when it’s time to clean up.”
“Well, James, it looks like I’m going to need a fairly large mop.”
August 21st, 7:47 P.M. –Albus’ Flat
“Lily, get the hell out," I say, tossing a dirty shirt at her.
“Come on Al, I’m sick of your sulking,” she pouts, trying to pull me out of my chair. My favorite chair, I might add.
“And I’m sick of annoying little sisters. Why don’t you go bother someone else?”
She laughs, pissing me off even more.
Why doesn’t she ever take me seriously?
“I would, but it’s always funniest when the person is you.”
Normally, I’m amused by her antics, but not today. Groaning, I say, “I’m not in the mood Lily.”
She runs her hands through her dark red hair, a classic Potter move. “You’re never in the mood for anything anymore.”
I try to defend myself, but she won’t have it. “Don’t even bother trying to deny it, Albus Severus. Maybe at work, or when you’re out with friends you act normal, but as soon as your alone it’s as if you shut down. It’s not healthy.”
I recline farther in my chair and close my eyes, “There’s nothing unhealthy about wanting some peaceful Albus time.”
“Ugh! You are absolutely impossible. I’ve got to go look after the Finnegan’s kids, but maybe Scorpius can get you out of this funk.”
Did she just say the word funk?
She walks to the door and shouts in the hall, “SCORPIUS, GET YOUR MALFOY BUTT IN HERE AND FIX MY CRANKY BROTHER.”
“Is that really the way to talk about your elder Lily?” I mumble, attempting and failing to block out her squawking.
“I don’t think a year and a half age gap makes you my elder Al. But if you want to think so, you go right ahead.” She comes over and kisses the top of my head. “Bye big bro, please strive to be a bit more mature about things, okay?”
I just wave my hand, dismissing her. That girl is always acting like she’s older than me or something.
She leaves, and it seems like I’m going to finally get my wish of solitude. But of course, Malfoy has to pop his over-gelled head into the door.
“You in here mate? Lily said you were in one of your funks again.”
Did the word funk suddenly become say-able again and nobody bothered to tell me?
“No, there’s no one in here.”
He comes in and drops into the chair beside me, letting out an exasperated sigh.
“Why so low? Didn’t you go on a date with that foxy blonde today?”
“Yes. I did.”
He leans forward, “And…?”
“And James was there, with her.”
He raises an eyebrow at this, “Wait, your brother was there with the blonde?”
“No, James was not there with Blair. He was there with,” I can feel my muscles tense just thinking about it, “June.”
Scorpius falls back into the chair, “Oh, I see.”
Blood rushes to my face, the tired way he said that makes me suddenly angry.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demand, jumping out of my chair.
“Relax, mate, I didn’t mean anything by it. It’s just that if it’s upsetting you so much not being with her, why don’t you do something about it?”
I settle back into my chair, soothed by his calm tone. I almost remind him that she was the one who broke things off with me, but instead I go a different route.
“It’s not that. It’s just this is so typical. Of course she ends up having a date at the same restaurant as me, and with my own brother no less. Then they start snogging like wild right in front of me, shouting obscene things all the way to the door. It’s like I’m having a sick joke played on me by reality.”
His eyes widen in shock, “Are you serious?”
“Yup, and it was for my benefit, no doubt. James probably convinced her it would be a right laugh. He still hasn’t forgiven me, and looks for any opportunity to make me miserable. However, I’m sure she was happy to go along with it; June’s not exactly the president of my fan club.” I practically spit, I’m speaking with so much spite.
“That’s rough, I’m sorry. I’m not sure what to do about the Adams problem, but I’d bet that James would forgive you if you just-”
“No.” I insist. “I just can’t, Scorpius, I can’t. I hate that he’s mad and I want to make it right with him, as well as the rest of them, but I’m simply unable; at least for now. I know you don’t understand it, but please don’t you make me feel guilty, too.”
He must have believed my words were sincere, because he lets it go. “Okay, well then let’s focus on June. If she affects you this much then the only conclusion I can come to is that you’re not over her.”
“I abso-bloody-lutely am! No guy would enjoy watching his old girlfriend getting it on with his brother. How would you feel if I snogged Laura Burns in the middle of your breakfast?”
“Well, I would feel sorry for you and be adamant that you could do better. She had such nasty morning breath, he says it so seriously that I can’t help but laugh.
“Okay, I’ll admit that was a bad example. I’m not on my best form today.”
“Because you’re still in loooovee with Adams,” he teases, making me slightly grumpier. But at this point I’m too drained to actually be mad.
“Way to ruin a nice bro-tastic moment, Malfoy,” I say while chucking a shoe at his head.
I’m throwing a lot more clothes than usual, I note inwardly.
“My bad, Potter, I didn’t realize.”
This segues into small talk, and we spend the next half hour speculating the results of the Puddlemere match tomorrow.
“Well, Fred bet that if they win I have to give his chicken back, so I’m hoping Tornados pull through.”
“If that’s the case, I hope so, too. Fred is unbearable when he has that bloody chicken. Now, I must be off. I’m meeting the ‘rents for the weekly Malfoy dinner.”
“Good luck, mate.” I say as he heads to the door.
“Thanks. Good luck winning back your girl from a couch,” he winks, leaving the room.
“I don’t love her!” I persist. “And this is a RECLINER, not a couch!”
I hear his laugh echoing in the hall, followed by the loud crack that lets me know he’s gone.
“I don’t love her.” I mumble to myself, wondering how many times one must lie until it becomes truth.
A/N: So there's chapter 3! What did you guys think of the Albus P.O.V at the end? I hope it was clear enough that it was his perspective and not June's.
Disclamier: JKR owns HP, not I (: Oh, and that spidermonkey comment was from the movie twlight, I just had to include it. I love being ridiculous :D
A/N2: Edited July 22nd for grammar (thanks agian arethusa for beta'ing!)
8/25/11- Added a great new chapter image from genevieve @ TDA. It's of James and Blair (Quaffleboobs)
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