Chapter 6 : A Series of Important Meals
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I have decided to update at least once every 10 days. Ambitious but I think I can keep up :D
Anyway, I hope you like the chapter, which is dedicated to the awesomest person ever, aidanlynchrox! It was her birthday recently, everyone, so send happy thoughts and all that her way :D I'm so sorry I didn't wish you on your actual birthday but I do have a present which is a one-shot I've written for you which you can see if you go to my author's page! The rest of you can go check it out as well and let me know what you think! It's called Reach Out & Touch Me! :D
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“I feel like we haven’t hung out, just the four of us, in years!” exclaimed Rose, shaking her head after she thanked the waiter for leading us to our table.
“I know, right? I think the last time was when we were putting together Hugo’s birthday party.” Stated Mona as she grabbed a menu and started looking through it, taking off her sunglasses.
“Well, I’m just glad we’re hanging out now. It really has been too long.” I said sincerely, barely glancing at the menu. James and I came to Sunny’s fairly often and I knew the menu back to front.
“It’s my fault, really. I’m so sorry, you guys but what with the wedding coming up so fast, I feel like nothing will get done fast enough.” Apologized Rose, looking at us all in turn.
“Shut it, Rosie.” Said Lily easily as she patted Rose’s hand. “No one blames you for wanting your day to go perfectly. We’re all happy to help.” Lily smiled at Rose warmly, stifling a yawn. She’d just finished a late night shift with the Aurors.
“And it’s not like any of us have taken special initiative to hang out. Things have been really busy with all of us. I, for one, am swamped at work, what with covering the Parkinson-Dumani divorce.” Said Mona with a sigh.
“Ugh, that must be hell.” I said sympathetically.
Mona nodded. “Believe me, I’d rather eat toe nails than print all that nastiness but it sells the magazine and hence pays the bills.” She passed the menu to Lily.
“I feel bad for you, Mona, but I feel worse for Hector Dumani. You’re suffering just by covering what the woman says; that poor sod had to live with that banshee for 30 years!” said Lily, her tone coloured with disgust at just the concept of living with a Parkinson.
“You know he came to us, right?” asked Rose with a smirk. “Hector Dumani? Says he wants his mail screened by the Ministry. Says she’s been sending him every foul magical thing found on the planet, not to mention she keeps trying to break into the mansion.”
“You’re kidding!” said Lily with a laugh. “Finally, that bitch is getting what she deserves!”
“Too right she is!” I said fervently.
“You would say that! You have your own reasons for hating Parkinson women, don’t you, love?” asked Mona tauntingly.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said, haughtily.
“Well, let me jog your memory then!” started Rose with a grin. “Christmas eve in our sixth year when we went over to the Malfoys’ and Phoebe Parkinson-Dumani practically glued herself to James at the hips? Ring any bells?”
Mona was smiling broadly and Lily was smirking for England while Rose awaited my reply, resting her chin on her knuckles and smiling knowingly.
“Oh, shut up.” I grumbled and the three started laughing. “Yeah, laugh it up, you lot! Like you’ve never been jealous!”
“Not really.” Stated Mona mildly as she started putting up her hair in a ponytail.
“Ha! Silvia Finnegan!” pointed out Rose loudly and Mona stopped what she was doing for a second.
“Oh, I guess I blocked that out.” She said with some surprise as we all laughed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been jealous.” Mused Rose, causing us all to snort derisively.
“That’s only because Scorpius doesn’t give any woman but you the time of day in the romantic sense.” Said Lily with a raised eyebrow.
“And because there’s not a woman alive who’s brave enough to incur your wrath by hitting on your man.” I added as I called a waiter over to our table to take the order.
“Yes, ma’am?” he asked politely as he got out a notepad and pen.
“I’ll have a glass of orange juice and a cheese and jalapeno omelette please.” I said with a smile as the waiter wrote it down.
“I’ll have the scrambled eggs and toast as well as a cup of Earl grey.” Said Rose before looking over to Lily.
“I’ll have some French toast with honey and a cup of coffee, as strong as you can possibly make it, yeah?” said Lily with a wink and I found it rather endearing that the waiter blushed.
“I’ll have eggs and sausages with some hash browns as well as some waffles and a side of bacon. Oh, and some apple juice!” added Mona cheerfully.
The waiter bowed slightly before heading off to the kitchens, leaving Rose, Lily and I to stare at Mona in surprise. She was oblivious to us staring since she was busy examining her reflection in a spoon but she finally noticed once she put the spoon down. She gave the three of us a bewildered look.
“Are you storing up for winter?” asked Rose and Mona finally cottoned on as to what we were on about.
“I didn’t have much to eat last night so I’m famished.” Said Mona by way of explanation. “So, Aidan, how’s the writing going?”
“It’s going well! A bit slow every now and then but I’ll take care of it all during the editing process. Trying to put in some new ideas so I’m meeting Landon for lunch on Saturday. I haven’t seen him in more than a month! I’m really excited.” I said happily as I thought of my brother.
“Oh, right, yeah! I haven’t seen him since Hugo’s birthday!” said Lily, slapping her forehead with her hand.
“I know! How’s Sasha, do you know?” asked Rose excitedly. I grinned.
“She’s just started the fifth month apparently and she’s starting to get pretty big, apparently, and Landon’s been running around like crazy because of her cravings. The latest one’s jam and gherkins with bread.” I said.
“That is disgusting! I could never eat summat like that, pregnant or not!” said Mona with a horrified expression.
“That is quite vile.” Agreed Rose with a shudder.
“I dunno. Might be interesting, actually.” Stated Lily lightly. She started laughing when she noticed us staring at her. “I’m joking! Loosen up, you lot!”
“Anyway,” said Rose, trying to change the subject. “Scorpius and I are heading over to his parents’ place for dinner on Friday night to discuss the wedding plans.”
“Merlin, Circe and Morgana! Are you nervous?” asked Mona with some concern.
“No, I’m looking forward to discussing wedding plans that have all been made by me according to my taste with my fiancé’s fashion designer/galleonaire mum.” Deadpanned Rose.
Mona blinked once or twice. “So that’s a no, then?”
Rose continued to survey Mona before turning to Lily and me. “Does she seem to be getting slower to you two as well?”
“Shut it!” Said Mona, swatting Rose with her napkin while we giggled. “It’s not my fault that I can’t tell when you’re being sarcastic! You should work on your inflections!”
“I’ll get right on that.” Joked Rose just as the waiters started bringing over our breakfast.
“Oh, thank god. I’m starving.” Groaned Lily appreciatively as the waiter set down her plate in front of her.
“This is divine!” breathed Rose as she tried some of her scrambled eggs.
“It seriously is!” agreed Mona as she tried a bit of everything. “How have I never come here before?”
“I don’t know. It’s been around for at least seven years.” I said with a shrug as I took a bite of my omelette.
“Well, I’ve been missing out! How did you hear about this place again?” asked Rose as she took a sip of her tea.
I could feel my cheeks flush a light pink and I stared at my plate as I answered. “Um, I uh came here with James some time back after... well, he brought me here for breakfast after the first time we... you know.” I said.
There was a pause and I hoped that everyone would drop it and we could move on but –
“Ohhhhh, I see.” Said Mona gleefully. “This is where you guys ate after the first time you worked up an appetite with your nocturnal activities.”
“It’s called sex, Mona. No need to get all fancy with the words, just ‘cause you’re an editor.” Said Rose, smirking at me.
“Rose.” I said warningly, casting a glance at Lily whom I didn’t want to gross out with talk of sex with her brother but I might as well have not bothered because she just waved me away.
“Don’t worry about it. Al’s dated half the girls in my department and I’ve heard more about my brother than I ever wanted to know. I’m kind of used to it now.” She said with a shrug as she shovelled down her French toast.
“Thank god I’m not in contact with the girls Hugo shags. I don’t think I could take it.” Said Rose with raised eyebrows and Lily grinned.
“He gets around just as much as Al and I have had the displeasure of talking to his conquests as well. You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Ew, ew, ew.” Said Rose, making a face. “I cannot think of my brother that way!”
“I’m glad because that’s illegal.” Said Mona, pointing her fork at Rose.
“I can see why girls would find Hugh attractive, though. He’s kind of sexy in a boyish way.” I said with a smirk at Rose, knowing it would disturb her.
Surely enough, Rose pretended to gag and we all roared with laughter.
It was good to get back with the girls.
“Mum and Mrs. Chen have ganged up on her, making her drink all manner of maternity potions and strange teas and all that. I think there are about 12 a day in total now.” Landon said as he speared a cherry tomato with his fork and popped it into his mouth.
“Poor Sasha! They must be driving her up the wall!” I exclaimed, though I couldn’t help but be amused at mum’s antics. “D’you want me to have a chat with mum?” I offered as I cut up my chicken.
“Nah, Sasha can handle herself. She’s tougher than she looks.” Said Landon fondly as he thought of his wife. “What?” he asked defensively as I gave him a huge grin.
“How freaking cute are you? You actually manage to seem sappier than when you first fell in love with her!” I said accusatorily and Landon had the decency to flush.
“I know, I know. The lads keep saying the same thing. I just... I can’t seem to help myself. I’ve never been happier in my life, Aidan. I love her so much and she’s giving me the best gift a guy could ever get. She’s making me a father!” Landon shook his head, as though in a daze. “I can’t get my head around it. I’m scared shitless but I couldn’t imagine life any other way now. I can’t imagine anything without her.”
“Awwwww! I’m so happy for you Landon. You’re going to be a dad!” I stated, joyfully.
“I know! It’s just... d’you think I’ll be an okay one?” he asked with some concern.
I smiled before I reached across the table to squeeze his hand reassuringly. “You’re going to be a great parent. You both are.”
Landon squeezed my hand back gratefully before grinning. “And you’re going to be an aunt! How does that feel?”
“Exciting! I can’t wait to be cool aunt Aidan, the one my niece or nephew will run to when you or Sasha impose your tyrannical rule over the kid!” I said, clapping my hands excitedly.
“I thought you said we’d be great parents.” Stated Landon with raised eyebrows.
“So I did.” I said, taking a sip of water.
“So how come we’re imposing tyrannical rule over our child?” Landon asked as he folded his arms over his chest.
“Well, you’re only human, Landon. Everyone makes mistakes, don’t they?” I pointed out knowledgably and Landon snorted.
“If you say so, love.” Landon shook his head incredulously at my logic, though with a smile as I contentedly took a bite of my chicken.
I had missed my brother awfully, not to mention my parents whom I hadn’t seen in the better part of a month. I would have been shocked if my mum and dad even remembered what I looked like! I was very glad indeed that Landon and I had decided to go out just the two of us. Sasha was more than welcome of course but she was being held hostage by her mum that day. Landon, rather wisely I thought, removed himself from the line of fire by coming out with me.
Landon looked good, wearing dark jeans and a dark green shirt with the top buttons undone and the sleeves rolled up. His hair hung loosely over his eyes, though a little damp from his shower and his smile exuded warmth and comfort, one of the qualities that made him such a good Healer. More than that, he was still the best brother a girl could ask for.
Landon had been there for me a lot over the years. He understood that there were some things you’d rather not have your parents know and he guarded my secrets well. He provided sanctuary when things got rough with work when I was just starting out and his door was always open, in bad times and in good. And I still went to him whenever I needed really good advice. He might as well have been my agony aunt.
Sometimes, looking at him, it was hard to believe how much time had passed. It felt like just yesterday when I watched him and Sasha get married and now they were about to have their first kid. I couldn’t think of two people more prepared to be good parents. They were both Healers, for crying out loud! How could my niece/nephew possibly be in better hands? If Landon was going to be half as good a parent as he had been a brother, that kid would be just fine.
“I love you, you know that right?” I spoke up suddenly.
Landon looked surprised for a second before he smiled wide. “I do know that actually. You’ve told me many times over the years. And I love you too. So we’re even.”
I grinned. “Good.”
“So, tell me,” started Landon, putting down his knife and fork to pay complete attention to me. “How’s life been? How are things with James?”
“Things are great. He’s been really busy because the season’s going to start in a month’s time so the team’s been practicing like crazy. He spends more than enough time with me, though, so everything’s fine. And things are getting really hectic because of planning Rose’s wedding but we’re doing wonderfully.” I said happily.
“Oh, yeah, I got the invitation. Make sure you thank her from me, yeah?” said Landon, taking a sip from his water. He hesitated before he spoke again. “Aidan, love, can I ask you something?”
“Yeah, shoot.” I said, furrowing my brow a little.
“You and James have been together a long time, not that much less than me and Sasha and even Rose and Scorpius. What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is have the two of you given any thought to the next step in your relationship? Like getting engaged maybe?” asked Landon tentatively.
“Oh!” I was surprised at the question and I’m sure it showed. “Oh, well, um, I guess we haven’t really talked about it much.” I stated awkwardly.
Landon reached out and grasped my hand, putting me at ease. “I don’t mean to sound like mum, love. It’s just that you may be young but you and James have been together a long time and it doesn’t seem like you’re moving in that direction. If that’s actually what you want and you’re happy with the way things are then great... but if you’re not... well, maybe it’s time to start talking about where all of this is going, you know?” he suggested quietly with a small smile that showed that he was only trying to look out for me.
“I guess I don’t know what I want yet.” I replied softly and Landon reached out to tuck a lock of my hair behind my ear.
“That’s okay if you’re okay with it. I just want you to be happy.” Said Landon and I couldn’t fault him for it.
When I got back to the flat after my lunch with Landon, my mind was racing. Mum had been asking me about marrying James for over a year now but I had figured that it was mum! That’s what mothers did, wasn’t it? Bug you about when you’re going to get married, when you’re going to have kids, all of that? But Landon was only a year older than me and hearing the question from him was putting things into perspective.
Should James and I be married by now? Was something wrong with us being together and living together for so long without getting married?
How could it be wrong when everything felt so right to me? I mean, yeah, I wanted to get married. Most girls do, of course, and I was no different but I’d never felt that strong of a need to. I mean, I’d always had a plan about my life and in that plan I would at least be engaged at the age of 25, which I was almost hitting. I wondered whether I should talk it over with James.
But then another thought occurred to me.
Rose and Scorpius had been together for a year longer than James and I had and they were just getting married now. Mona and Prentice had gotten together before us too and they weren’t even thinking about marriage.
I relaxed a little as I settled down on our comfortable sofa. We had plenty of time, I decided. There was really no need to rush things. So what if I wasn’t engaged yet?
I knew James and I would end up together and that’s all that mattered.
“And I swear to Merlin, it took every ounce of my energy to not kill him right then and there. How hard is it to just do as you’re told, honestly! I keep telling him to just cover himself and stop looking out for me but will he listen? He better not come crying to me when he loses an arm or some other appendage that’s even more valuable!” said Al, his voice muffled as he shovelled roast potatoes into his mouth.
“He’s a kid, Albus. He’s learning right now and he’s just excited to work with you, can’t you tell? I seem to recall you being overexcited and landing yourself in St. Mungo’s with tentacles sprouting out of your rear when you started and you weren’t even being trained by someone cool!” I said with a grin as I speared a bit of pasta on my fork.
“Thanks for that flashback. I’ve been trying to block it out of my mind but hey, go ahead, make me relive painful and humiliating memories.” Deadpanned Al and I laughed.
“Stop being so dramatic; don’t forget who conjured up countless cups of ice chips for you that day. And I did wait the longest to make fun of you, you know.” I pointed out as I took a sip of my wine.
“Oh, you’re too kind! However can I repay you for doing what friends are actually supposed to do!” he replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Shut up and eat.” I rolled my eyes but grinned at my best mate.
It had become a habit for Al and me to have dinner together at least once a week. It started a couple of years back when Al had had a really bad day at work and I decided that I should go cheer him up. The fact that it was a Wednesday was just a coincidence but from then onwards we tried to have dinner together on Wednesdays as regularly as we could since I got plenty of time with the girls and not as much with Al. James, accordingly, kept himself busy on those nights.
And what with Rose’s wedding fast approaching, I knew that he needed at least one woman to not be driving him up the wall with wedding details and running errands so I thought we ought to catch up.
I watched as Al signalled for a waiter to bring some more wine to the table. We were having dinner at a place called the Milestone. The food was good and the service was great and the atmosphere, with the cherry wood furniture and olive green walls was really comforting. Al loved the place and had become good friends with the chef over the past year. I guessed that it was because it was in this restaurant that he decided what he would do with his life.
Al had gotten accepted for training as an Auror but an ill timed statement from a boy in our year named Rector Vane brought that dream to a screeching halt. Rector had said that of course Al got accepted into training; it was his own dad’s department after all. He got hexed by pretty much all of us as a result but the damage was done; Al knew he had earned his place at training but he also felt that people would think he hadn’t, just like Rector did and nothing we said would convince him otherwise.
I was proud that Al had decided to work his way to the top by being a Hit Wizard first. He’d worked really hard for many years and I knew that his whole family appreciated what he was putting himself through.
“Oy, earth to Aidan Briars!” I snapped out of my thoughts. Al was watching me with raised eyebrows as he chewed his steak. “What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing, mate. Just stuff.” I replied with a smile.
“Yeah, and I’m a half eaten pumpkin pie at my Nana’s house.” Said Al with a snort as he wiped his mouth with his napkin since, indeed, the idea of a pie not being cleaned off at his Nana’s house was indeed laughable. “Everything alright?”
“Without a doubt.” I said with a grin. “What about you?”
“Everything’s peachy, love. Don’t worry about me. I mean, yeah, my boss wants to talk to me about my record with the Ministry tomorrow and Rose sends me at least two owls a day reminding me to pick up things that might be near the office and I feel like ripping my hair out whenever I go to mum and dad’s for a meal but hey, it’s all good.” Said Al casually as he finished his steak.
“Ouch. That bad, huh?” I asked as I reached out to rub his hand comfortingly.
“Nah, I’m making it sound worse than it is.” Replied Al with a smile, squeezing my hand reassuringly. “I guess it’s just a bit of a shock to my system, you know? I didn’t have to do much for Vic’s wedding because I was in school for most of it. Dom ran away and got married so that was sorted. Lucy had the simplest wedding in the history of mankind and Molly would rather shoot herself than ask me to help with any of it and Fred got married on a bloody beach in Brighton.” Reeled off Albus thoughtfully. “This is the first time I’ve been so... involved, I guess.”
“Yeah, well, she’s your best friend; not to mention your favourite cousin. Did you really think she’d let you sit back and do nothing?” I asked with a smirk and he sighed.
“I didn’t think it; I just hoped for it.” I laughed at his expression before I reached out and ruffled his hair.
“It’ll all be worth it in the end, you’ll see. And no matter how manic she’s acting right now, Rose really appreciates it and she loves you all the more because of it.” I said soothingly.
Al grinned at me as he thought about Rosie and how happy she’d been ever since Scorpius had proposed. “Yeah, I know. I just like whining. People take such good care of me when I whine.”
I rolled my eyes as I drained my glass of wine. “You’re just a spoilt brat.”
“Did you know that James once got a Hippogriff as a birthday present just because he mentioned that he wanted one to Hagrid?” stated Al plainly as he wiped his plate clean with a piece of bread.
He let the statement hang in the air before I replied. “Point taken.” I said.
“Excuse me?” Al and I looked up to see an attractive girl standing next to our table, looking quite nervous.
Albus flashed a charming smile as he wiped his hand on his napkin. “Yeah?”
She cleared her throat. “I was just wondering... well, I mean, I wanted to know whether you’re... you know, um...”
The girl had a way with words, I had to say. Al and I exchanged amused glances before he turned back to the girl.
“No, I don’t know um, as it were. Care to expand on that?” asked Al with a grin.
The girl gave a small nervous laugh before her eyes settled on me meaningfully. I daresay I took the hint.
“Oh!” I said, catching on and moving to get out of my seat to give them a moment. “Oh, right, well, I’ll just head on to the l –”
Al grabbed my hand and pulled me back into my chair. “You don’t need to go anywhere.” He said easily before turning back to girl. “Yes?”
It was a test, I knew. Albus liked his girls to have some moxy and I supposed he figured that if she couldn’t do something like ask him out in front of one other person, she couldn’t do much else properly either.
To say the girl rose to the challenge would be quite fair. She realized what he was doing when I shot her an apologetic look. She stood up straighter, lifted her chin a little bit and smiled ever so slightly.
“I was wondering whether you were free for drinks on Saturday.” She stated. Her voice shook but there was otherwise no sign of nerves.
I turned to Albus just in time to see him smile winningly. “Saturday would be perfect.” He stood up, setting his napkin on the table. “Excuse me for a second, would you?” he said to me, eyes twinkling.
“Take your time.” I said with a grin. He winked at me before he and the girl walked over to the bar for a chat.
I was used to it. You couldn’t go anywhere with a Weasley or Potter who was single and not have someone proposition them. Hell, everyone knew James and I were together and that still didn’t stop anyone from asking him to marry them even when I was right there!
And Albus, of course, was something else. He exuded charm and he had the innate ability to put people at ease when he spent time with them. The fact that he had brilliant green eyes, a wonderful smile and fashionably messy hair helped things along a fair bit.
I looked over at the bar to see how things were going and I couldn’t help but be startled. With the way Al was leaning against the counter and ruffling his hair, he looked almost exactly like James... or at least the James I remembered from school. Al was grinning charmingly and said something that made the girl laugh quite a bit. It was Hogwarts all over again.
I shook my head a little as I turned away and smiled. The Potter boys sure had a way with the ladies.
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