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Chapter 4 : Taking Initiative
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So I take all that other stuff that I said before and I'm gonna make it work
Because I'm losing my mind and it's driving me up the wall
And this time, it will be different. This time it will be different.
-Navy Taxi by Kate Nash
August 26th, 8:02 P.M. –Ministry of Magic
“You’re late.” Mrs. Carey says, standing in the doorway looking particularly evil with her crossed arms and sinister glare.
“I’m sorry, my roommate discovered what a curling iron was this morning and there was some burnt hair that needed to be dealt with,” I say, stroking the singed locks.
The she-devil just rolls her eyes, “I don’t want to hear your excuses; I want you to be on time.”
Two minutes late is hardly a criminal offence, but I just nod and head towards my office. Um, I mean cubicle.
However, when I arrive I see someone sitting in my chair, in my cubicle.
What the banshee is going on?
The invader looks up and smiles bright; she looks oddly familiar but I can’t place it.
“Oh, ‘ello there! May I help you?”
She looks so darn friendly that I don’t say the nasty (but wonderfully witty) response I was planning. Instead, I smile back, “No, actually, but I think that’s my desk you’re sitting at.”
Her eyes grow wide and her cheeks flush, “I’m sorry love, I didn’t know. Boss-lady
over there said I could pick wherever I wanted.”
“Of course she did.” I snarl under my breath.
She sends a curious look my way, “What was that?”
“Oh, nothing, it’s just that our boss has it in for me. She was probably hoping you’d take my desk in order to piss me off.”
She laughs, “That’s unfortunate. She did have a bitchy look about ‘er. I was going to give ‘er the benefit of the doubt, but I guess that’s not necessary.”
“You got that right, she’s a complete cow.” I chuckle a bit at my own joke, as lame as that is, and I ask what her name is.
She stands up and extends her hand forward, “The name's Ophelia, but you can call me Leah. It’s less of a mouthful.”
“How old fashion.” I joke, shaking her hand. “I’m June, and I don’t have any nicknames; at least not any that I want people to be aware of.”
I shudder at the memory of when Al got the whole Gryffindor house to refer to me as only ‘Junebug’ for an entire week. How disturbing.
“I suppose me folks are a bit old school. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you, June.”
After introductions are out of the way, I help her find an office (cubicle) of her own and explain to her what we do around here. Seeing as we do just about nothing but pointless paperwork, it doesn’t take too long.
“So how’d you end up working here, of all places? Your desk is filled with exotic vacation pictures and you’ve even got a nose ring; you don’t really seem like the ‘Department of Transportation’ type.”
Letting out a hearty laugh she says, “Honestly, I’m not really sure how I ended up here either. After I graduated Hogwarts two years ago, I’ve just been doing odd jobs, never finding anything that kept me interest. A friend of mine mentioned an opening here and I figured I might as well give it a go.”
So that’s where I recognized her from!
“I knew I’d seen you before. You were head girl when I was a fifth year prefect.”
A small smile comes across her lips, “That’s me; Previous headgirl and a Ravenclaw to boot. You’d think I, of all people, would have me life in better order.”
“That alright Leah, it’s seems like chaos is everywhere lately. My life included.”
“That’s too bad. You seem like a girl who would ‘ave her shit together.”
I snort, “Hardly.”
I expect her to ask a follow up question, like most people would, but she just nods in understanding.
I start thinking aloud, “Sometimes, I wonder how crazy everyone’s lives must actually be. From the outside, it’s easy to make things look perfect, but when you get past that, everything's a bit more complicated.”
“That’s why I’m kind to everyone I meet, because I know they’re fighting their battles too.” Her sad smile quickly becomes a grin as she says, “Okay, I’m kind to people until they give me a reason not to be. I can be a right nasty witch to those on my bad side.”
I smile back.
You know what? I think I’m going to like this girl.
We finish up talking because sadly, there’s paper work I need to deal with. I head back to my work area to get started.
Apparently, a wizard in Surrey requested quite a few portkeys under several alias in order to pull a prank on his friend. The poor friend nearly had a heart attack when half of the items in his home were glowing blue and disappearing. By the looks of it, whoever was working that day must have been confunded, because activating that many portkeys in one location is against protocol.
Further evidence that the person was bewitched is that none of the objects are arriving at their correct destinations, or at their allotted times. The man’s bathtub was just located this morning a top a tree Devon, when it was supposed to arrive at a small field outside of London yesterday.
The whole situation would be rather humorous if I wasn’t the one having to deal with the repercussions. Now if only we could locate that blasted toilet of his…
“Hello, do you have minute to talk?”
I look up from my papers to see the guy from the Auror’s office. He looks even yummier than before.
“Yeah, sure, take it away.” I do my best to make my tone professional; it’s more likely that he’s here for business rather than pleasure and I don’t want to sound like a fool.
“Well, after we met, I realized that I never properly introduced myself. I thought maybe we’d run into each other and I’d get a chance then, but after awhile I got impatient and decided I’d stop by your office instead.”
He stops for a moment to take a deep breath, “So here it goes: Hello June, my name is Connor Thompson and I would be honored if you’d spend your lunch break with me.”
I’m not dreaming am I? A fit Auror really did just nervously ask me to have lunch with him?
“Hello to you too, Mr. Connor Thompson. That was very kind of you to come all the way the most boring place on earth just to visit me.”
I purposely avoid answering his question; I don't think I'm ready to go out with another guy. The whole 'using James' thing was a big mistake, so I don't want to start anything with someoen esle until I know it's for the right reasons.
He laughs, “Oh, come on. Working here can’t be that boring. I heard about the porkey fiasco; that’s got to be loads of fun.”
I gesture to the pile of papers on my desk, “Yes, buckets of fun. I’d daresay I’m having a blast.”
“That’s the spirit!” he says with a grin. “Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude, my dear.”
“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind while I work on all of this for the next few hours.” I smile back.
“Ah, so I guess you’re a bit too busy for lunch this afternoon?”
I bite my lip and do my best to avoid eye contact, “Yeah, I’m really sorry but there’s just so much to do…Maybe another time.”
“Oh, okay. Well, good luck with all of this, I hope it doesn’t take you too long.” His bright smile fades slightly, and there is a distinct ring of disappointment in his voice, but he remains friendly.
“Thanks, I’ll try my best.”
With that, he takes his leave and I am alone in my cubicle once again.
August 26th, 4:49 P.M. –June and Stella’s Flat
“Who’s there? You should know that I’m a black belt; my hands alone are weapons of mass destruction!”
Both of my parents are magical, but my dad’s muggle born, so my childhood home is in a muggle neighborhood. Eddie Wells from down the street was obsessed with karate movies, so I’ve seen enough to understand the lingo. Odds are a magical intruder wouldn't understand what that meant, but when there’s a possible killer in your house it’s hard to think clearly.
You see, I came home from work to find the flat was unlocked, and Stella was nowhere to be found. Then, I heard an odd rustling noise coming from Stella’s room, totally freaking me out. This freak-out resulted in my previous shouting.
There’s no response to my intimidating threat, so I gather all the courage I have (Godric himself would be proud) and step into her room. What I see is complete disarray. It’s as if someone went overboard on explosion spells. You should know that normally, our flat is rather organized. It’s on the smaller side, so any clutter would take up needed space.
Looking around at the aftermath of what must have been a terrible accident, I don’t notice the small girl that has popped up in front of me. “Do muggles really attack each other with belts? Because that’s a tad barbaric, don’t you think?”
I let out a tiny shriek. I would hardly even call it that; it was more like a yelp. “Oh Merlin, you scared me!” I say, realizing it’s just Stella’s younger sister. “Jasey Rae Anderson, you better have a good explanation as to why you have blown up your sister’s bedroom.”
She pushes her glasses back into place and brushes invisible dirt off her clothes before responding. “Obviously, I’m organizing. I go back to Hogwarts in only three days! I should have come a month ago; this girl needs a lot of help.”
“I have to agree with you on that one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Stella clean something before, unless it was in detention.”
“So you understand the seriousness of the situation, yes? Because I could really use some help.”
I tell her I’d be glad to help and we get to working.
Jasey, or Jay for short, is one of Stella’s calmer siblings. She needs structure; if things aren’t organized or in their proper place it bothers her, which is the total opposite of Stell. She prides herself in being messy. Instead of tossing old things out, she brought literally years worth of rubbish she’s collected into this room. Why she brought it all here? I don’t think I’ll ever understand.
“Hey, look what I found. I think it’s one of her scrapbooks.”
Stella goes through these weird obsessions, and at the end of every school year she becomes addicted to scrapbooking. The end of seventh year was particularly crazy; nostalgia took over and she felt the need to document practically every moment.
I reach to take the book out of her hand, “Lemme have a look at it.”
I open it up and the first page is one of all the girls in our dorm; ah, how I miss my fellow Gryffindors. There’s one of us in first year compared to us in seventh year. It’s so odd to see how much we’ve changed! I’d have to say the biggest transformation is probably Rose; she doesn’t even look like the same person. Not to be mean, but she wasn't the cutest 11 year old in the world, but now she could pass for a model. Not that I'm jealous or anything...
The next picture is one of the Quidditch team that Stella had me take. Personally, I think my photography skills are superb. Look at that lighting, it’s genius.
I just skim through the next few pages; they’re mostly filled with photos of Stella and I, or of her and her various boyfriends. I’m getting towards the end when one picture makes me freeze. It’s a shot of Albus and I. I’m sitting on his lap and he’s giving me a kiss on the cheek. We look so utterly happy that it’s almost painful to look at. Sure, we had our ups and downs, but being with him always made me feel a little lighter; more carefree.
I feel the tears gathering me eyes as I slam the book closed. “Um, I need to go.”
“What? We’ve only just begun! There’s socks that need to be matched!” Jay insists, pointing to the mounds of clothes everywhere.
“Eh, I, um, I ha-have a thing. A very important thing that I-I must d-do!” I stutter my words, completely failing at the ‘whole keeping it together’ thing I was going for.
I exit, trying to get outside as quickly as I can. I head to the park across the way, I see a bench there that looks about as lonely as I feel. The light grey paint is horribly chipped and metal legs are severely rusted, but I seat down anyway.
At least that way, we both don’t have to be alone.
August 26th, 6:09 P.M. –Rusty Bench
Ten minutes of peace is all I get before it starts pouring rain. I should go in, but I’ve always loved the rain. I reason with myself that if I stay out here long enough, the rain will wash my problems away with it. Not very logical, but at least it was something.
Plus, it’s actually kind of enjoyable watching the rain splatter on the cold ground. It distracts me enough that I hardly even notice the tears beginning to form in the corner of my eyes.
"JUNE? ARE YOU OUT THERE?” A voice shouts, jerking me out of my trance-like state.
It takes only a second for me to realize the scream belongs to Stella. I see her as she crosses the street to the park shouting, “ADAMS, FOR YOUR SAKE, YOU BETTER ANSWER ME!”
“I’m over here.” I shout halfheartedly, but it’s enough for her to spot me.
I can practically hear her sighing with relief, but when she speaks, she doesn’t sound too pleased. “June, what the hell are you doing?”
I slowly look up at her, and seeing her face is all it takes for me to lose it. The few tears in my eyes from earlier are joined by many others. I could probably be the first person to actually cry a river of tears, you know, if I had the energy to find a place suitable for such a thing.
“Oh, honey.” She shakes her head in pity, “You’re a complete mess.”
“I know!” I wail.
That’s right. I wailed. I’m not much for dramatics, but even I can have my moments.
Her gaze softens as she gentle helps me up from the bench. “Come on; let’s talk about this somewhere less... wet.”
Even in my terrible mood I manage a small laugh as we make our way back inside.
We remain silent as Stella boils some water for tea and we get into dry clothes. It’s not until we are both settled into the couch with our warm cups of Earl Grey that Stella starts asking questions.
“So, what’s the deal? I’m barely a foot in the door when Jay tells me how you bolted. I go searching for you, only to find you crying outside. I want to know what happened to cause all this.”
I sigh, taking a moment to think. “This day happened.”
She raises an eyebrow, “Go on.”
“Well, it all started this morning when I was late for work. You know how much I hate always being late…”
I continue to tell her everything. From turning down a perfectly nice guy to breaking down over a picture; I leave out no details.
“I can’t believe that something as dumb as a picture could have this affect on me. I should be stronger than this. After months of being apart, I don’t understand how I’m not stronger. If anything, I’m getting weaker.”
Stella pats me on the back, urging me to continue.
“It’s not that I’m one of those girls who need a man to be happy, I just need him in particular. Even before we dated, Al was always a part of my life. Whether it was someone to study with, or someone to fight with about nothing; at least he was there. Now, he’s gone, and I’m afraid he’ll stay that way.”
She lets out a huge breath, taking a moment to let what I said sink in. “Alright, first things first; are you sure you even want him back?”
I give her a look that screams 'have you listened to a single word I said'?
“I know seeing pictures of him probably stirs up a lot of memories, but I think you are forgetting why you broke up with him in the first place. He really hurt you, and if he were to walk in here right this very second, would you be able to forgive him for that?”
I open my mouth to respond, but snap it shut.
Would I forgive him?
“Honestly, I think I would. Enough time has passed that I feel I’m ready to talk it out with him. I’m willing to give him a chance to explain, and hopefully he’ll understand my side as well. I want him back in my life.”
Satisfied with my answer, she shrugs, “Then you should do something to make it happen.”
“Like what, march up to him and demand we talk?” I say sarcastically.
Ha. As if it were that simple.
“Yeah, that’s an option.” She replies, her tone containing no hint of humor.
I move my mouth wordlessly for a moment, trying to come up with a response. “That’s just impossible!” I say eventually, for lack of a better reply.
“And why is that?”
“Obviously, it’s because… well, um… I can’t just…you know.”
“I don’t see why you have to wait around for him to come to you. It’s your life, sweetheart. Don’t sit back and wait for things to get better; make things better yourself!”
Her positive attitude is so infectious that I feel myself brightening up. “You know what? I think you’re right! This time, I am going to take a stand and make my feelings known. Next time I see him; I’ll walk right up and tell him I want to work things out!”
She beams at me, squashing me with a giant hug. “I’m so proud of you, June. It’s about time you learned to take the initiative in relationships.”
I hug her back tightly, “Thanks, Stella. Now I just need to figure out when’s the next time I’ll see him. That way, I can mentally prepare myself beforehand.”
She smiles a devilish smile, “Well, the word on the street is that Scorpius Malfoy is throwing a party in honor of his birthday this Saturday. Al is his best mate, so you know he’ll be attending.”
“And we will we be attending?” I ask suspiciously.
She laughs, obviously very pleased with where this is heading. “If I talk to Scorpius about it tomorrow, I think our names might end up on the guest list.”
“Are you sure a party is the best place for this to happen? I was thinking more along the lines of during a break at work…”
She throws me pleading looks, “Come on, It won’t even be a real party! I’d say it’s more of a small get together. Pleaseeee say you’ll go? Pretty please!”
She even uses the sad puppy dog eyes she knows I can’t refuse.
I throw my hands up in defeat, “Oh, alright I’ll go! Stop your begging before I change my mind.”
“Yes! This is just perfect! But we’ll need to go shopping A.S.A.P. Tomorrow is Friday, so that leaves us very little time. Not to mention we still have to…”
I pretend to listen as my thoughts move on to more pressing matters.
You see, I only have two days to figure out what I’m going to say to Al after months of silence. What I say to him could potentially make or break any chance of us getting back together. I haven’t the slightest idea what I’m going to do, but things will fall into place eventually…
AN: I'm so sorry this wasn't up sooner. I had every intention of putting it up as soon as the queue reopened, but something got in the way everytime I tried. My wifi connection, for example, kept dissappearing everytime I was about to submit a chapter, causing me to start over several times. Sigh. But it's up now, and I hope you enjoyed it! I don't think it's the most exciting chapter, but it is a turning point for June. Leave a review and tell me what you think!
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