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Chapter 11 : Center of Attention
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“Are you guys still holding up this silent treatment? It’s been at least two months!” Ginny hissed quietly while Jamie busily scribbled down a diagnosis on a chart. She smiled, handed it to the medinurse and turned her attention to the redhead with a frown in place.
“Believe me. I know how long it’s been. Seventy-one days and a few hours,” she muttered.
Jamie walked briskly down the hallway, Ginny not far behind, and into the office of her supervisor. Healer Thomas was a tall man, dark skinned and the father of a certain Dean Thomas. Ginny flushed slightly but soon straightened up and shot a deathly glare in Jamie’s direction.
“Hello Miss Weasley. Nice to see you,” Healer Thomas said, his voice velvety and smooth. “Ah, Jamie. All done with your rounds?”
“Yes, sir. The young girl that came in earlier seems to have gotten into the family pot of floo powder and ingested it but she’s been treated and doing just fine,” Jamie replied, trying to keep the smile from her lips.
Healer Thomas seemed to have noticed this and he too broke out into a wide grin. For months on end Jamie had been toiling away, enduring all the long hours of Healer training and it was slowly coming to an end.
“Well done, Jamie. Or should I see Healer Miller?”
Her face lit up with a winning smile and Ginny all but dragged her from the spacious office after she uttered many ‘thanks’ and ‘such a pleasure to work under you Healer Thomas’. Silence settled over the pair as their heels carried them out into the warm sunlight. Summer was well upon London and it had filled every witch and wizard with the desire to be outside it seemed.
“Well done Healer Miller. Ha!” Ginny laughed, rolling her eyes with her arm still linked with Jamie’s. “Don’t let it get to your head. It’s gonna be a rude awakening on Monday.”
“And you know this how? I think I’m more than qualified for this position,” she defended, a playful scowl in place.
“I thought so too when I strolled into the first Holyhead practice. Let’s just say they handed me my own arse by the end of it.”
Ginny grimaced and Jamie had to refrain from snorting. The two dipped behind a corner and with a pop they had apparated right into the Weasley’s little garden. Mrs. Weasley burst through the door with a hand on her hip and wooden spoon in the next.
“My fault, Molly. I had to go check in with Healer Thomas and before I knew-”
“Mum, she’s a full-fledged Healer starting Monday,” Ginny interjected with a smug expression.
Jamie’s cheeks flushed a soft pink and she slowly nodded. She soon found herself in enveloped in the arms of Mrs. Weasley and felt unbearably content. She wasn’t so sure she’d receive the same reaction from her own family so she decided to savor the feeling while it lasted.
“In ya go. Everyone’s already here. In, in!” the redheaded woman demanded, shooing the two women into the crowded kitchen.
Jamie wasn’t exactly certain about the occasion for the massive get together but everyone seemed to be as equally confused. Perhaps the Weasley’s didn’t need an occasion to have a gathering though. What once had been a full house was now empty except on certain weekends when Harry and Ginny would drop Teddy off. Occasionally Ron would return to his cozy and brutally orange room when Hermione and him had a spat, but other than that the house was rather empty.
She felt nostalgic to say the least when she took a seat beside Audrey, a very pretty blonde witch with a soft face and large eyes. To say she missed the camaraderie of the Weasley family would be an understatement. Jamie had done a good job at maneuvering her way out of invitations but Ginny had physically come to take her to this one so she couldn’t exactly say no.
Jamie’s eyes wandered around the crowded room and noticed a certain face was missing. A small frown formed on her lips and her brows knitted together when she glanced down at the table and began picking at her nails.
“Mum can’t we eat already?” Ron groaned, pressing his face to the table and muttering about how he was going to make George pay for being late.
“Ronald, hush,” his mother scolded, stacking the last sandwich onto the platter and flicking her wrist. The platter rose into the air and hovered over the table, landing with a soft thud.
Two pops later and a very irritated George and flustered Angelina walked through the door and into the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley moved to fuss over her son but he brushed past her and sat in the corner of the kitchen on one of the last two open chairs.
“Looks like we’re all here,” Mr. Weasley said in his usual good-nature. “Dig in!”
Hands quickly snatched sandwich after sandwich from the platter. Boys busily ate, occasionally talking with crumbs spewing from their lips, earning them a scolding from Mrs. Weasley who ‘would not have any of that rubbish in her house.’
Jamie had managed to find out that Audrey was one year older than her, a Healer at St. Mungo’s, and enjoyed pottery when Percy wasn’t looking. She was a pleasant girl, but the brunette struggled to keep her attention on the words leaving Audrey’s lips. Every ten minutes or so she’d glance up and see George scowling down at his sandwich.
“Everyone. Everyone quiet down,” Percy chimed in, rising from his seat. “Now I’m sure you’re all wondering why Mum called you all here today. It was my doing, actually. You see, I--rather, we,” he stopped glancing down at Audrey and placing his hand on her shoulder. “We have some brilliant news. You know what, I’ll let Audrey help with this.”
The blonde slowly rose to her feet. Jamie could tell she was blushing and having a difficult time keeping the smile off her lips.
“Percy and I, well we’re getting married,” Audrey announced, holding her hand out to display the dazzling ring.
Jamie blinked at the diamond and wondered how she hadn’t seen that earlier. Perhaps there had been a charm set over it or something.
“Another one of my babies is getting married!” Mrs. Weasley cried.
Tears were already streaming down her face but she was smiling from ear to ear. Mr. Weasley had his hand over hers comfortingly, but his eyes were proudly focused on his son. All the commotion must’ve disturbed sleeping Victoire though. Teddy came bursting in, flailing about with his toy wand in his hand.
“Auntieee,” he mumbled, tugging on the sleeve of Fleur’s gown. “Auntie Ferrrrrr.”
“Yez, darleeng?” she cooed, picking him up and setting him on her lap. “Yer Uncle Percey iz getting married!”
“Vic is cwying,” he said with a small grin on his face, chewing on his finger nodding.
“Oi, zank you.” Fleur quickly placed Teddy back on the floor and hurried off which other continued to offer Percy and Audrey congratulations.
Jamie stood back and watched quietly, the family crowding around Percy. Mrs. Weasley was still in tears but she went from standing in shock to showering her son with kisses. The brunette laughed softly at the woman and felt her stomach do a flip.
She had wanted to make that announcement once. No--she had been planning to make that announcement once.
A figure slipped discreetly out of the kitchen and into the living room. Jamie subtly glanced over and noticed the seat beside Angelina empty. She didn’t look very pleased. She almost looked bitter, sitting there with her arms crossed and eyes intently focused on a small scratch in the floorboard. With knitted brows and a small frown on her lips, Jamie silently crept backward and dipped behind the wall.
George sat silently on the couch. He glanced slowly over at Jamie who froze the moment she realized he was looking at her.
“Uhm,” she started, eyes widening. “You okay?”
“Just peachy,” the redhead mumbled back with an air of disinterest.
“You don’t look peachy,” Jamie replied back quieter than before.
“Really? I would’ve never guessed that.”
Jamie flinched at his tone. Whatever had happened before his arrival had only been made worse by Percy’s announcement. She edged closer and sat down on the opposite end of the couch, glancing timidly over in his direction. She hated the fact that they had amounted to two people who could barely talk to each other.
“Percy seems happy,” Jamie diverted with an uneasy smile in place. “Audrey’s nice, too.”
“Why are you talking to me?” he interrupted bluntly.
Jamie opened her mouth to speak but the words fell short so she simply closed her mouth and shrugged. They had gone over two months without talking and now she needed a reason to talk to someone who had once been one of her closest friends.
“You didn’t look very pleased when you walked into the kitchen,” she replied. Although it could suffice as an answer, it wasn’t exactly straightforward.
“Nothing slips past you.”
“Will you stop with the sarcasm?” she finally sighed, looking over at him with a crease between her brows and an apparent scowl. “You’re being a bloody git.”
George’s shoulders sank into the couch and he let his head fall back as a sigh slipped through his lips. His eyes fluttered shut and he began to gently massage his temples.
“We got into a fight as I’m sure you assumed. She’s always nagging me,” he admitted in a flat tone. “I-I thought you might bring McLaggen today to spite all of us so I got really worked up over it,” George finally announced, sitting up straight.
“Why would I do that? I know none of you get along with him. Ginny only puts up with him for my sake,” Jamie replied. She felt defensive even as she tried to come off calm and collected. “And why would you bring that up to your girlfriend?” she huffed.
“I dunno,” he replied with a jerking shrug. “‘Cos I felt like it.”
“Jamie! I’ve been looking all--oh. Sorry,” Ginny stopped, her eyes widening as her body rigidly carried her quickly back into the kitchen.
“Brilliant,” Jamie muttered under her breath, casting a sidelong glance in George’s direction.
“Seriously though, why are you talking to me?” the male asked.
Jamie averted her gaze from George and focused on her nails which had become very interesting in the last few seconds. Was it appropriate to say she missed him? She missed joking around and spending hours in the joke shop on her days off. She missed yelling at him through the wall or fussing over something he had destroyed or burnt.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she whispered. “This is stupid. That entire argument was just stupid. Seventy something days! Nothing said!”
“I tried to talk to you!” he defended.
“You were so worried that I was betraying you and your family but you said it yourself! You said I needed to move on and I have.”
Jamie looked over quickly and could tell that George was struggling with his words. They were extremely close to circling into the argument that had caused the silence to begin with.
“You know how I feel about Cormac and there’s no need for me to reiterate that but just be careful,” George finally replied, frown in place. “I was too rash in trying to force you to get over my brother. Everyone grieves at different paces.”
“Thank you for acknowledging that but I will never get over Fred, George,” she whispered, turning her body toward him and reaching out and taking his hand gingerly. “Don’t you for a second think I’m replacing him. No one will ever compare to him.”
George glanced down at their hands before looking up and meeting Jamie’s eyes. He nodded slowly and sighed. It had become suddenly quiet in the kitchen.
“I guess that’s all we can really ask of you. If he--” George trailed off and swallowed. “If he makes you happy then I suppose that’s...good.”
“He really does,” she assured him in a soft tone. “I don’t want any more of this animosity though. What am I to do if my boyfriend and best friend don’t get along?” George winced. “You are my best friend, George. I’ve learned to be happy for you and Angelina.”
“Ha. She’s not too happy about you,” the redhead muttered. He rolled his eyes and pulled his hand from Jamie’s.
“Nothing. Look, I’ll try my best to accept your dating Cormac but I can’t make any promises that I’m going to be chipper.”
“All I ask is that you try,” Jamie said.
She smiled and wrapped her arms timidly around his neck in an awkward hug. Soon she felt his arms wrap around her waist and although she was desperate to pull away, she just couldn’t. With a final squeeze, the two separated. Someone cleared their throat and Jamie looked over, gazing upon a very annoyed looking Angelina.
“May I speak with you George?” she asked in a sickly sweet voice.
“I was just leaving,” Jamie said.
The brunette cast one last look at George and offered him an apologetic smile before rising to her feet and walking back into the kitchen. She couldn’t help but peer over her shoulder when she passed through the doorway, watching Angelina sit rigidly beside George. Turning around, she noticed that everyone’s attention was on her.
“Everything all right, dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“Oh, of course!” Jamie replied with a fake, bright smile on her lips. “I actually need to head out. So sorry for not staying longer. I’ll, uhm, stop by sometime this week?” she offered, glancing around the room.
“You better,” Ginny grumbled.
Harry placed his hand on her shoulder and gave Ginny a look that she seemed to understand. She turned to Jamie and rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless. After offering Audrey and Percy another congratulations, hugging Mr. and Mrs. Weasley goodbye, and assuring Ginny she’d stop by the Ministry to have a chat with her whenever she was at Harry’s office, Jamie stepped out of the Weasley’s cozy kitchen and carefully slid her wand from her pocket. The familiar tugging sensation of apparation washed over her and she found herself in Diagon Alley shortly after.
Jamie felt rather sorry for George as she ascended the steps into her building and entered her apartment. She tossed her wand onto the coffee table in her quaint living room and trudged down the hallway and into her bedroom.
Happy that she and George had finally broken their silence, Jamie still couldn’t help but wonder if things were really as good as they seemed. Angelina had certainly seemed peeved with the mere presence of Jamie beside George and she couldn’t wrap her head around it. She had once felt irritable whenever seeing the two together, but she had told herself often it was only because he was so like her Fred. With Fred gone, naturally she would go to the closest thing she could find and pine for it. It just so happened that he was a twin and George had been her rock during the grieving process.
This was ridiculous.
Flopping face first into the bed, she let out a heavy groan into her pillow followed by another, and another. Life had, for a brief moment, seemed a lot easier. In those brief moments where the two had actually been conversing, Jamie was given brief glimpses of life before Cormac and Angelina despite the conversation being about those two very people.
Yes, this was truly ridiculous.
Weeks passed without much interaction between Jamie and the Weasley family. They were all fretting over Percy and Audrey’s wedding and she didn’t want to get mixed up in preparations so she kept her distance.
Jamie sat at the kitchen counter, eyes focused on the front page of the Daily Prophet while her hand idly stirred her tea over and over. As she read over the short piece on Percy Weasley, the youngest Senior Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, and his rather unknown Healer fiancé, Audrey Simmons, a muffled explosion shook the whole building and sent the tea cup sliding across the table.
“Reparo,” she muttered, pushing herself up and looking out the window. Dark clouds of black smoke were wafting through the front windows of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes while little children scurried about out front.
After hurrying out of her apartment to see what all the ruckus was about it appeared that one of the Wildfire Whiz-bangs had been lit and sent right into a large cauldron full of Peruvian Darkness Powder.
A highly disgruntled George appeared from the clouds of black dust, coughing and waving his hands about animatedly.
“I’m so sorry Mister Weasley!” cried a small, mousy-haired boy with tears leaking incessantly from his eyes. “I didn’t mean to light it. They dared me to do this,” he added, clutching his toy wand and flicking it. Small sparks flew from the tip and the kid grimaced before shooting an embarrassed glare over at snickering boys.
“Not to worry, Mister?”
“Creevey, sir. Mitchell Creevey,” the small boy announced.
Jamie couldn’t help but think how different he was from the Creevey boys she knew back in her days at Hogwarts but surely neither of them had a son. This boy was at least seven or eight.
“Wouldn’t happen to be--” George started but the boy cut him off.
“Cousin of the Creeveys you’re thinking of, I think, sir,” Mitchell trailed off quietly.
“What’s all this ruckus about?” came the shrill voice of Madam Malkin, hands firmly pressed to her hips in a way that made Jamie think of Mrs. Weasley.
“Just had a bit of an accident, Elladora,” George assured her. “But unfortunately that means I’ve got a bit of a mess to clean up. Shop should be open tomorrow in tip top shape!” he announced to the crowd around the front entrance. Several children groaned and soon the crowd dwindled down.
“Need any help?” Jamie asked quietly when George finally looked up and at her.
“Er, what?” The dumbfounded expression shifted to understanding and he glanced at the still murky air in the shop. “Wouldn’t hurt,” the redhead chuckled.
“I thought the whole place was going to fall over,” Jamie commented after diving into the mess and breathing easily with the help of a Bubble charm. She began siphoning the remnants of powder from all the shelves while George stood on the other side, using his own methods to clean.
“I think I got a lungful of this ruddy powder,” George mumbled, directing his wand everywhere he could and muttering ‘Scourgify’ repeatedly.
Jamie glanced back and frowned slightly but soon returned to mumbling ‘Tergeo’ at the layer of soot resting on everything. They returned to their silent cleaning and before long everything seemed to be fairly clean.
“Thanks for all your help. Merlin knows I’d still be at it if it weren’t for you,” George chuckled after sticking his wand back into the breast-pocket of his dragon-skin suit.
“It was really no problem at all. I wasn’t doing anything except reading the Daily Prophet repeatedly,” she admitted. “I see Percy and Audrey made it in.”
“Mum was right proud. She had sent an owl this morning with a copy just so I could see.”
Jamie looked over to catch the tail-end of a grimace leaving George’s features. Her brows rose slowly but she willed them back down and forced herself to keep a nonchalant attitude.
“Uhm,” she started. But words failed her and she just sort of smiled goofily. “Of course she’s proud. She had quite fun with Bill’s wedding, even though it was spoiled,” she trailed off, shrugging her shoulders slightly and placing her wand in her back pocket.
“I s’spose,” he mumbled. George gave a wary glance in Jamie’s direction. “So how’re you and--”
“Let’s, uhm, not talk about that. Let’s,” she trailed off and tapped her fingertip lightly against her lips. “Let’s go to the Leaky Cauldron! I’ll buy. Come on, it’ll be like old times,” she goaded with a wide smile.
And George smiled wider and brighter than she had seen in a long time, nodding slowly and reaching into his robes for his wand. With a flick of his wand the curtains were drawn and the sign on the front door flipped quickly.
“To old times!” George announced, raising his glass half an hour later when they were sitting comfortably in the Leaky Cauldron.
“To old times!” she replied softly, smiling just as brightly as George.
A.N: Well that was a horribly long wait that I want to sincerely apologize for and thank everyone one of you who have stuck by me through this whole crazy process. Work and school this semester have made it more difficult than I had initially thought they would but alas here's the next chapter! I think there will be either two or three chapters left so stay tuned and leave a review! Thanks so much and I apologize for the horrendous hiatus I've been on as of late.
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