Chapter 1 : A Love Affair in Pairs
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Disclaimer: I own nothing.
As with many things, it all started with a pair of boots.
Yes, a pair of boots. Jimmy Floo, Italian-made, authentic dragonhide...and absolutely bloody gorgeous. Words can't even describe them. They're majestic, glorious, sensational—perhaps the most beautiful boots in the world!
Now, gentle reader, I see the skepticism that shines your eyes, the cynical doubt that twists at your lips! ‘The most beautiful boots in the world?’ you ask. ‘It cannot be!’
But alas! It is.
Picture this: knee high. Four-inch heels. Supple leather so buttery, it makes your mouth water. Stitch detailing so intricate, blind nuns in Venice must have slaved over it for decades! (Okay, perhaps this is an exaggeration. Most likely, the stitching was not done by blind nuns, but rather by a large piece of machinery operated by a barely-legal Asian youth. But let’s just gloss over that detail, shall we?)
Anyway, the moment I lay eyes on these boots, I knew—this is true love at first sight. This is how it feels to find your soulmate.
Oh, I just realized! Soulmate, solemate, haha! Get it? It's funny 'cos it's a play on words! Like a pun, sort of!
You know what? Nevermind. Some people just don't appreciate good humour.
But anyway, back to these boots. Oh, these boots! They made me want to sing praises to the treetops! They made me want to live free and die hard and dance like a madwoman in the streets! They made me want to throw my arms in the air and wave them around like I just didn’t care!
It would be outright blasphemous—blasphemous—to say that these boots were merely a simple pair of footwear! No, not at all! They were more than that. They were a sign—a message from the gods, if you will—that told of something new, something big, something that was about to befall us all!
'Effy,' these boots called to me in their sweet, dragonhide-blind-nun-asian-youth voices. 'Look at us! Hear us! Taste us! ...Okay, maybe don’t taste us. That’s a little weird. But taste us in the metaphorical sense, because... because, Effy, in our dragonhide-blind-nun stitching lies a fateful, fateful message.'
Yes, boots talk to me. Shut up, don't give me that look. You know how TV has that Dog Whisperer bloke? Well, think of me as the Shoe Whisperer.
Anyway. Onto the message:
'You must buy us,' said the boots. 'We carry a promise from The Fates! We are an omen, a foretelling of the future! We are your destiny!
Also—and most importantly of all—we are NOW ON SALE! FOR FIFTY PERCENT OFF!'
As you have probably already guessed, I saw the boots. I heard the boots. I tasted the boots.
And I bought them... Or, at least, I tried to.
I am ashamed to say that there was a snag in the plan. Complications arose. Technical difficulties, if you will.
You see, before I could lay my trembling, quivering fingers on those beautiful boots and officially claim them as my own, something terrible happened. These boots—the ones that I coveted, lusted after, adored—were wrenched cruelly (and literally) out of my grasp! My future with them was star-crossed! Doomed! Cursed!
For there was one fatal obstacle that stood between me and a life of Italian-made, dragonhide bliss.
And that obstacle’s name was Albus Severus Potter.
But alas, I feel like I’m getting ahead of myself! My apologies, dear reader! I have a tendency to ramble... My best mate Liv always says that I should be entered in a hold-your-breath contest, ‘cos, with all the talking I do, I probably have the lung capacity of an Italian opera singer/professional swimmer by now.
After she said this, my other best mate, Finn, suggested that maybe I was a mermaid in disguise. This sparked a whole debate between the merits of being a mermaid versus the merits of being an opera singer/professional swimmer. Eventually, everyone decided that being a mermaid was better, 'cos you get to wear those funny little sea-shell bras. Not to mention the ability to talk to fish.
My friends are strange human beings.
Regardless. What was I talking about again?
Oh yes, my rambling.
Well, since I am a gracious person filled with...er...graciosity, I shall do the gracious thing and admit to my faults. Graciously.
Yes, I do have a habit of straying off topic. But that is only because I have a big imagination—ginormous, as my grandpop would say.
...Ah, grandpop. How I miss him sometimes. You know, he used to sit me on his knee and pretend to fish tiny chocolates out my ears (this, incidentally, marked the beginning of my long and tumultuous love affair with anything involving the cocoa bean). He was always doing little magic tricks like that. Imagine how surprised he was when they found out I was witch!
Well, not surprised at all, actually. He was dead by then.
What was I talking about?
Ah, yes, my rambling! Sorry, I’m doing it again, aren’t I? Surely by now you must be gnashing your teeth, stomping around, and pulling out various chunks of your hair in frustration. So, for you and your follicles' sake, I will just get to the point.
My name is Effy Amelie Paddock, and I'm not exactly sure how to describe myself. My parents are always blathering on about how I'm special and 'gifted,' which Finn says that is just a nice way to say 'touched in the head.'
She likes to joke, that Finn.
But honestly, I don't know what I would call myself. Shoe-lover, I guess. Chocolate Enthusiast, of course. And I'm also a sixth-year Gryffindor at Hogwarts, if you're interested.
Oh, and I'm blonde.
But to put it simply, I am simply a budding, fresh-faced lass filled with zest and youthful verve! Before all of this happened, everything was simple! I was happy to live a normal life filled with ease and the occasional bout of manic shoe-shopping. I was content.
But then, it all changed. Completely, totally, irrevocably changed. Basically, what happened is this: my life did a 180-degree turn, flipped sideways, and then flopped upside down on it's back—without even having the decency to ask me for permission first.
And, as with many things, it all started with a pair of boots.
Picture this: Diagon Alley on a warm, August’s afternoon. It is truly a beautiful day. The sun shines! The birds sing! The trees...er...exist!
And walking down the path, sparkling and lively with vigor, is the heroine of our story (me, if you haven’t already guessed)! A pretty lass—golden-haired, bright-eyed, and fair-browed (whatever that means)—she wanders innocently down the street, whistling cheerily to herself as she walks.
(This is a lie. To be blatantly honest, I cannot whistle for beans. But let us pretend for the sake of story, yeah? It adds ambience.)
As our heroine strolls past cluttered shops and cafes, she waves to various townsfolk, occasionally stopping to offer a cheerful smile and a small hello. The birds chitter and chatter! A small breeze tugs playfully at her hair!
And on she walks, meandering down the cobblestone streets, when—
Okay. I can’t do this anymore. Enough of this stupid third-person business. Honestly, I don't know how authors do it... It would drive me crazy to be a writer. How ‘bouts I just take it from here, alright?
So, I’m walking down the street, humming and smiling and generally just enjoying the fresh air of a fading summer. Its a gorgy day, the weather is nice, I’m going to be seeing Liv and Fin for supper later... So far, I’m feeling like a pretty happy gal.
But then, all of a sudden, I spot it. Roscoe Renaldo’s Italian Goods and Accessories Shoppe.
My heart thumps faster. My fingers tingle with longing. I yearn to go inside and take a look, but I know—in the deepest, most somber depths of my heart—that I cannot. See, here's the thing: in case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a shopaholic. And ever since last month’s bell-bottom phase (don’t ask), when I successfully spent about half my saving's account at Gypsy Moon’s Hippie Haven, my parents have put a ban. I am not allowed to buy anything—literally anything. Not even a bottle of water.
It's kind of sad. If I were not such a gracious person, I would find parents' blatant lack of faith in me to be insulting.
But my folks' trust issues aside, the gist of it is this: no more shopping for Effy. It's a terrible, terrible thing. And despite an excessive amount of arguing, groveling, and even the occasional threat to kill myself (all in good humor, of course), my mum and dad refuse to budge.
So now I stand outside Renaldo’s, heart a-thumping, fingers a-tingling. I know that I cannot—must not—give in to my temptations. No matter how sparkly Renaldo's front window is, or how alluring the items are behind it, I must (wo)man up and stay strong.
I stare at the front door to the shop, my eyes raking over the curly script that proclaims the store's title. I take in a few deep breaths. Close my eyes. Try to find my inner chi. I do anything possible to calm myself, but no luck. In fact, the effort from all that chi-locating has only made me more stressed, and now my face has developed a kind of spasm. Wonderful.
So I decide that, for the sake of my face and my sanity, it can’t hurt to just, you know, pop in and have a bit of a looksie. I’ll only spend ten minutes in there, I swear! And then, as soon as my time is up, I’ll run right out and find Liv and Fin. They’ll be able to curb my shopping madness.
Plus, it’s my Aunt Julie’s birthday in January. And since I am such a gracious person, I think I’ll get a head start on shopping for her gift now... in August. Besides, Renaldo’s is the perfect place for her. They have this whole section on headscarves, and my Aunt Julie loves headscarves. She’s a lesbian.
(Please note that I am not suggesting that there is a correlation between liking headscarves and being a lesbian. I'm just pointing out a few lesser-known facts about Aunt Julie).
Anyway, I walk through the door, my brain feeling all bubbly and sparkly like it does before a good episode of shopping. Inside, it's positively boiling—apparantly, Renaldo, although being a genius when it comes to accessorizing, does not understand the concept of a cooling charm. Perhaps someone should explain it to him.
I take a moment to browse through a dusty aisle of colourful headscarves, making sure to reign in my self-control when I see a display of super cute bags. Come on, Effy. Down, girl. You're here to look for Aunt Julie's birthday gift—nothing else. Just keep your eyes on the prize. Stay focused, and don't get distrac—
Oh my Merlin.
I stop right in my tracks, almost knocking over a rack dripping with glittering necklaces in the process. But I don't care. I can't care. It's literally physically impossible for me. All I can do is look. Look, and drool.
Because sitting right in the middle of the store, just mere metres away, displayed for the entire world to see... Are the boots.
And not just any boots. The boots.
Cue clouds parting! Bursts of celestial light! A glee club of angels singing and dancing, complete with jazz hands all!
They are beautiful. Magnificent. The kind of boots Joan of Arc must have worn to battle! The kind of boots Cleopatra donned when she walked along the Nile River! The kind of boots Cat Women would've had stashed in her closet!
I must have them.
All thoughts of Aunt Julie and my parents fly out of my mind as I make a beeline to the table. Taking small, hasty little steps, I quickly near the boots, my whole skin tingling in excitement. I imagine myself wearing them, the soft, black leather zipped up tight around my calves, my toes carefully snuggled into their cozy, warm caress...
I am almost there... Only a few steps away!
It’s like the scene in all those romance movies, where the two lovers start from opposite ends of a meadow and run slow-motion style towards each other. The music swells! The tension builds!
My fingers are just brushing the boots when—from out of nowhere—they are taken away!
It feels like the universe has shattered. Oh, woe! Misery! Agony! Cruel Fates, what have you done to me?
Giving a dramatic, scalded gasp, I look up—only to come face to face with Albus Severus Potter.
It takes all the effort in my grief-stricken body to stifle yet another gasp. Albus Potter. Albus Potter. ALBUS POTTER!
There he is, standing in all his emerald-eyed glory, the boots—my boots—held in his sex god hands.
I say 'sex god' because Albus (despite the strange and, quite frankly, cruel name) is something of a legend at our school. Even though he’s in my house, I’ve never really talked to him before. Being a year above me and, well, Albus Potter, he’s far too intimidating to even think about approaching.
Quidditch star, wildly popular, and absolutely scrumptious to match, he’s Hogwarts' Golden Boy. It's a universally acknowledged fact that everybody loves Albus. Students, teachers... even a few Slytherins! He can get anything he wants from anyone he knows. Despite the fact that he's not exactly Mr. Number One Student, everybody still thinks Albus is amazing. I don't know why. He just has this...charm. It entices people, puts them under a spell. It's almost supernatural, in a way. He's untouchable. Impeccable.
Though, from what I hear, he’s gotten into quite a few...er...scandals over the past years. Seems Albus has a bit of a temper—and a knack for trouble-making. Morals and rules aren't exactly his first priority, if you catch my drift. I heard once that Albus can pick any lock he comes across, wizard or muggle. Come to think of it, though, I also heard that he takes a job as a Professional Dragon-Wrangler during the summer holidays. So you can’t trust everything you hear.
I’ve also seen pictures in some of the tabloid magazines—and let me tell you, they are definitely not family friendly. Cigarettes, alcohol, fistfights—I guess the Golden Boy is a little tarnished.
Right now, it's pretty much all I can do to control myself. My eyes flick frantically from the boots to Albus. Boots, Albus, boots, Albus. Honestly, I can’t tell which one is more mouth-watering.
Liv is always ranting about how shallow the world is, and how the media is poisoning society with image-obsessed “propopanda,” or whatever. And I know it’s wrong to drool over someone just ‘cos of their looks, but honestly, Albus is F-I-T. So F-I-T, in fact, I wish I could just spread him on a cracker and eat him.
Just kidding. That would be weird.
But anyway, it'd be an outright lie to say that Albus isn’t good-looking. Dark, tousled hair. Pale, ivory skin. And those eyes—oh, those eyes! Girls have literally died over them (okay, maybe not died. But you get the gist of it)!
I never thought I’d be standing here right now, directly across from him. Practically centimetres away. I mean, I’ve barely spoken a word to the bloke since I first saw him back in first year!
And yet—here he is. Standing in a stuffy Italian shoe shop, holding my solemates in his scrumptious, Albus Potter arms.
And before I can stop myself, I’m talking.
“Excuse me,” I say politely, “but those are my boots.”
I know that Albus is older and fitter and infinitely cooler than me, but, for once, I don't think twice about talking to him. Gorgy emerald green eyes or not, those are my boots, and I’ll be damned if I let anyone else get away with them—even Albus Severus Potter.
Incidentally, why is he buying boots? What does he need them for? Does he like to collect women shoes? Gasp—does Albus Potter secretly moonlight as A CROSS-DRESSER?
Albus is looking at the boots in his hands with a quizzical expression on his face, as if he doesn’t know what it is they do, exactly. His eyebrows are drawn together, his nose scrunched up adorably. It's such a cute, clueless face that I can hardly believe it belongs to some rebel, cross-dressing dragon-wrangler. He simply looks like a little kid.
Albus glances up, startled, and—Oh my Merlin—locks his green gaze on mine. I try not to swoon, ‘cos Liv says that swooning is a degrading cliché that only furthers the stereotype that all females are weak and feeble, but it’s awfully hard when those green, emerald eyes are staring. At me.
“Oh,” he says, blinking. His voice is deep, slow, careful. I wait for him to say more, but he stays silent. He doesn't even offer an explanation as to why he is holding a pair of women’s shoes in his hands. Hmm... Perhaps he is the sneaky kind of cross-dresser.
“Yeah, so, it’d be great if you could hand ‘em over, thanks.” I put on my bossy, authoritative tone, the same one my mum uses when she gets all cross and huffy and wants to have her way. She's a muggle lawyer, so it's bound to work.
Albus blinks some more, and his confused expression melts into a surprised one. He seems caught off guard—it’s obvious that nobody has ever talked to him like this before. I’m shocked too—normally, I’d be fawning and flirting just like any other girl. But—but—there is a serious matter at hand. My boots. And I can’t help but feel a smidge territorial. These are Effy’s boots. Effy’s. Everyone else, no touchy.
Albus still isn’t saying anything. He just keeps on blinking at me, surprised, the boots in his hands.
"Wow, you sure are a blinky fellow, aren’t you?" I blurt out before I can stop myself. Crappers! That came out wrong—it wasn't meant to be an insult, I swear! The words just kind of, er, fell out of my mouth...!
My comment, however, seems to snap Albus out of whatever daze he’s in. He regains control over his expression, smoothing it over into a hard, ivory mask. His mouth twists with disdain, eyes flashing irritably. Oh, so there’s the infamous Potter temper I’ve heard about.
“What makes you think I’m just gonna hand them over?” He says coolly. “I saw them first.”
I go into a little scoffing and eye-rolling fit for a moment, mainly because I can't think of anything to say. "Yeah, well... They’re still mine!”
“Sorry, but I don’t see your name on them,” Albus shoots back, which is totally unfair ‘cos I doubt he even knows what my name is. Bracing myself, I muster up my most pants-wetting glare, cross my arms, and jut out a hip. Lawyer Pose, activated.
It’s not very intimidating, though, seeing as Albus is still about a head taller than me.
...Which is another reason why I have to have those boots, actually. Albus has an unfair advantage. I need the height boost.
“Why do you want them so bad, huh?” I lean in shrewdly, widening my eyes and perhaps looking a little bit creepier than normal. “Why are you so set on buying these boots? Do you like to wear women’s clothes? ARE YOU A CROSS-DRESSER, ALBUS POTTER?” I pause, and then add, “Because if you are, you have really good taste. Though I suggest you do your shopping during the nighttime. Less people will see you that way.”
I cannot believe myself and, judging by the baffled look on Albus’s face, he can’t either. First, I accuse the guy. Then, I’m complimenting him. Then, I’m giving him advice on how to cross-dress, of all things. Jumping Jehosaphat, these mood swings are really tiring.
“Um, no,” Albus snaps back testily, “for your information, it’s my sister’s birthday next week. I’m thinking about buying the boots as a gift. Jesus, mind your own business, will you?’
Well, that explains it.
Albus’s glare is cuttingly superior, and I can’t blame him, really. After all, here I am, a puny little sixth-year butting into his life, shouting all types of accusations, and generally just faffing about like a stupid idiot. He has every right to be annoyed. It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t talk to seventh-years like that—especially if the seventh-year is Albus Potter.
I deflate a bit. Pushing a hand through my hair, I let my face crumple into a frown. I feel embarrassed, chagrined, silly. Honestly, I don’t understand. I usually get along with everyone... I’m a likeable person, I swear! Just not when precious, Italian-made boots are involved.
“Sorry,” I mumble meekly, cheeks flushing. I really don't feel like spending the whole day arguing with this kid. “I think we got off on the wrong foot there. I honestly didn’t mean to, uh, accuse you like that. How 'bouts a fresh start?"
With that, I flash a smile as a sort of peace-offering. Albus looks at me, expression crinkled with confusion. Ha, he's doing that nose scrunching thing again. I can't help but smile, it's just too darn cu—
“Alright.” Albus seems to debate with himself for a bit, and then he finally nods in agreement. I have to stifle a dreamy sigh.
And then he smiles, and it’s like the world cracks in half. Forget the hair. Forget the skin. Even forget the bloody eyes! Albus’ smile is like something I’ve never seen before. Slow, intense, subtle... It takes me surprise. Like the edge of a burning piece of paper, curling up around the corners, glowing, smouldering. I can see why Albus is so popular. All he has to do is put on that smile, and he can probably get anything he wants.
I clear my throat. Come on, Effy! Think lawyer! You’re a professional, for Merlin's sake! Get in, get the boots, get out. Simple as that.
...But not so simple when Albus Potter is standing in front of you, smiling that paper-burning smile, eyes gleaming in obvious amusement.
“I’m Effy Paddock,” I finally say, just to say something.
“Yeah,” Albus muses. There’s no need to introduce himself. We both already know who he is. “I think I’ve seen you around. Fifth-year, right?”
“Sixth, actually.” I flush. Holy toast! Albus Potter knows who I am! Or sort of, at least.
“Well, you must really like these boots, Effy Paddock,” Albus remarks. Even though his tone is casual, it feels like there’s something more to the comment. A secret message riding underneath the words. At first, I’m confused.
And then, the realization hits me like a rampaging hippogriff—or rather, a stampede of rampaging hippogriffs.
He’s trying to get the boots.
Albus Potter is trying to steal my bloody boots away. From me.
See, the thing about Renaldo’s is that all the shoes are charmed so that they’ll magically fit to your specific size, but—and pay heed, dear reader, ‘cos here’s the catch—Renaldo's only makes one pair of each shoe.
So the boots Albus is currently holding in his hands? One-of-a-kind.
And he wants to buy them.
Not going to happen. I don't care if he's Albus sodding Potter. Heck, I don't care if he's freaking Mother Teresa! Those boots are mine, and there is no way in helicopter that I'm gonna let him get away with them.
He wants to play dirty? Fine, I can do that too.
“Yeah,” I reply just as casually, “I really, really like them.”
“So does my sister,” Albus remarks, his paper-burning smile turning slightly wry. “She’s been raving on and on about them for the past week.”
I feel guilt well up inside of me, rising like a vicious tidal wave. I try to squash it down, but I can’t help thinking about Albus’ sister. She’s only a fifth-year, and I've never really talked to her... But even so, I feel like we're connected. In my opinion, there's a special bond between all shoe-loving women. Like a sisterhood, almost. And taking these shoes from Lily—stealing them away—is a crime against the sisterhood.
Maybe I should just let Albus have them. It is for her birthday, after all...
...No, Effy! Think of the boots! Think of your destiny!
It’s obvious that Albus is trying to bait me... But I’m not going to let that work! I won’t back down without a fight!
But... Menstruating Merlin, this boy’s good. Playing on my guilt like that... Albus can sure be manipulative when he feels like it. I guess it’s a by-product of always getting what he wants. Though it's kind of scary, how good he is.
“So, I'm guessing that means one of us has to give them up.” I shrug and look down nonchalantly, though I can’t help but peek at Albus from under my eyelashes. He seems unfazed.
“Yeah, one of us,” he hints, as if it’s already obvious who one of us is. Me.
But I’m not going down that easily. Just because the Golden Boy has everything handed to him on a silver platter doesn’t mean that I should give my boots up... Right?
“I don’t think you understand,” I say, attempting an appealing smile. “The love I have for these boots... It can’t be described in words. It’s like the love a mother has for her newborn child! My very being burns for these shoes! They are my soulmates!”
Albus quirks an eyebrow, expression going from 'sly' to 'weirded out.' Oh, crappers. I’ve really freaked him now... “You must really love shoes."
I nod earnestly. For some reason, I feel the ridiculous urge to prove to Albus that I love these shoes, that I’m worthy of their glory. “Yeah,” I assure him, still nodding frantically. “I love shoes! Boots especially!" Suddenly, it starts to feel very hot in this cramped, small store. My voice feels thick and heavy. I'm trying to talk normally without going into another one of my rambling tangents, but it's so hard when Albus is staring at me, his green eyes sharp and alert. It's like all the words are suddenly stuck inside my mouth, and I just can't get them out right.
"Yup, shoes a-are, um, g-great!" I babble on thickly. Merlin, why is it so hot in here? "F-Fantastic, really! I mean, there are just no true words to describe my...er... adoration. I love boobs.”
There is a long pause. For a moment, I allow myself to foolishly believe that everything's okay, that I had managed to stop talking before I could successfully make a fool out of myself.
But then... I realize my blunder.
It's like a punch to the chest. It hits my body full-force, knocks the breath right out of my lungs in one fell swoop!
"I mean, there are just no true words to describe my...er... adoration. I love—"
This isn't happening. I can't believe myself.
'I love BOOBS'?!
Oh, Merlin. No. That can't be it. I did not just say that in front of Albus Potter. Quickly, I turn my head slightly to look at his face, praying for a sign that he hadn't been listening or that something had distracted him or—
But no. He’s staring at me, a mixture of amusement and confusion on his face.
Son of a biscuit-eating bulldog! What have I done?!
“Um, I meant to say that I love boots. Not... Not the other thing.”
“Uh-huh,” Albus nods, eyebrows raised, face scarily neutral.
“Honestly! I don’t...er...love boobs. That was a mistake, a total slip of the tongue, really!” I exclaim, flapping my hands in the air in a very flustered manner. It’s like an out-of-body experience, like I’m floating in the air, watching from above as I make a complete and utter fool out of myself in front of the boy I’ve just met. Albus Potter. I can’t believe this is happening. I feel like I'm about to hyperventilate.
Oh god, here comes the rambling. “I mean, I don’t hate boobs.” Stop talking, Effy, stop talking. “After all, I do own a pair.” I give a short, nervous laugh and then, horror of horrors, gesture to my own chest. Albus raises his eyebrows. “They’re actually quite useful.” STOP TALKING! STOP TALKING! “You can balance stuff on them... Like a shelf! It’s fun!” By now, my voice is shrill, my face flushed, and I’m breathing quite heavily. Albus is staring blatantly at me, face a mixture of fascination and alarm, as if I’m one of those bizairrely entertaining Japanese game shows on the telly.
“I mean, it’s not like I’m in love with them, or anything. I don’t love boobs.” I assure hastily, desperately trying to get out of the nice grave I’m currently digging myself. “I’m not a lesbian—though I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being one! I’m fully in support of the gay movement! Embrace your sexuality, I say! Who cares what others think?”
I’m slowly running out of things to say, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it’s good that I won’t be able to act like a bleeding idiot in front of Albus any longer. On the other, I’m dreading the awkward silence that will inevitably occur once I stop talking. “Gay is great! Er...what’s that saying again? Oh yeah, ‘we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!’ Totally awesome.” This cannot be happening to me. This is all a dream. “You know, my Aunt Julie’s gay.”
On that note, I suddenly, miraculously, shut my mouth—though it’s a little difficult, seeing as my foot is currently stuffed inside it. Albus just nods, looking carefully at me as if I’m a crazy person who’s bound to attack any second now. His face is now carefully, completely blank.
“I see,” he says.
“She wears headscarves,” I add lamely, as if this can somehow rectify the totally awkward situation we are now in.
There is another long pause. Oh, hey there, awkward silence! We’ve been waiting for you! ‘Bout time you showed up...!
Finally, Albus says something.
“Well, I think I better go...” He slowly begins to back away, but not before he holds out his hands, offering me the boots. “Here, you take them.”
Much to my surprise, the strange blankness in his face is gone, and his green eyes are now glimmering with a faint hint of amusement. Amusement? I have no idea what that could mean. Perhaps he finds my apparent mental instability to be funny.
“N-No, I couldn’t,” I stammer, unable to believe that, after all this, he’s still willing to talk to me. “Your sister—“
“Forget about my sister; I’ll buy her something else. You should take them, seeing as you obviously love them so much.” The corners of his lips quirk upwards. I stare at him blankly for a while, incredulous.
“Oh, alright.” I start to take the boots from his hands—and then the oddest thing happens.
Our fingers brush and, immediately, it feels like my entire body has frozen over. His skin is so cold, it’s as though he’s been living in the arctic for the past year. Which is bizarre, really, since we’re standing in a sweltering Italian shop without air-conditioning, in the middle of an August afternoon... How could this be?
Unfortuantely—or fortunately, perhaps—Albus pulls away before I can say anything about it. I watch as he turns around and walks off, strolling smoothly out the door without another backwards glance.
Well, that was odd.
A/N: So how'd you like it? Good? Bad? Terrible? Drop a review and tell me what you think! I'd love to hear your guys' opinions.