Chapter 6 : Chapter Six
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"Fuck off, James. I don't tell you who to be friends with!" Albus left the kitchen with a packet of crisps in one hand and a bottle of pumpkin juice in the other. He rolled his eyes when he realized James was still following him and hurried up the stairs to get away from him.
"She wanted me first!" James shouted, causing Albus to stop in his tracks at the top of the stairs.
“Of all the lies that have come out of your mouth these past few years, you’ve crossed the line with that one,” Albus hissed through clenched teeth. He turned around to face James and glared down at him, remaining rooted to the spot. “Why the hell would Jess want you? She can’t stand the sight of you.”
“And why do you think that is?” James said, not bothering to keep the smug grin off his face. He placed his foot on the bottom step and leaned back against the banister. “Tell me, Albus, why do you think your precious little girlfriend hates me so much?”
“Maybe because it’s so bloody easy to do,” Albus said as calmly as possible. “Why? Is there another reason?”
“She was obsessed with me.”
“There you go again with the lies!” Albus shouted, dropping his bottle of pumpkin juice and packet of crisps. “Jess isn’t stupid enough to be obsessed with a guy like – like you. You think you’re so high and mighty, don’t you? You think everyone wants a piece of James Sirius Potter!”
“Just like most of the girls at Hogwarts, she was utterly besotted with me,” James said arrogantly. He moved away from the banister and lowered himself down onto the steps, keeping his gaze locked onto his younger brother. “I may lie about a lot of things, Al, but I wouldn’t lie about this. Who would you rather believe: a girl you’re paired up with in Potions or me, your brother?”
“You have serious jealousy problems, you know that right?” Albus scoffed. “Maybe you should get those checked out.”
“For the last time, I’m not jealous!”
“Merlin’s beard, yes, you are! You’re jealous that I have real friends whereas that little posse you hang around with at school? You’re nothing more than just some jumped up bullies who get their kicks out of tormenting others. They’re not your friends, James. They hang out with you for your so-called ‘pretty face’. Too bad you don’t have a personality to go with it.”
James turned away from Albus and let out a loud laugh. “Just to let you know...Jess’ freak show act is because of me.”
“Freak show act?” Albus repeated. “She’s just different. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“She’s like that because of me,” James cried in a frustrated tone. “I fucked with her head. I told her she wasn’t good enough for me. She’s just a stupid little girl who moved on to you when she finally realized she couldn’t have me.”
Albus had heard enough; he turned away from James and stepped back into his bedroom, his pumpkin juice and crisps lying abandoned at the top of the stairs. He slammed the bedroom door shut and kicked the side of his bed out of anger. He fell down onto the mattress and gazed up at the ceiling, James’ words floating around in his mind. What a fucking fantastic Christmas so far.
After a quick nap, Albus sat up in bed and looked over at the cluttered mess on his desk. Sighing heavily, he got to his feet and sat down on the chair in front of the window. He gazed outside and stared in awe at the heavy blanket of snow covering the back garden. He chewed on his lower lip as he pulled a blank piece of paper towards him and picked up a pen. I wonder if writing the Muggle way will be any easier....
He dropped the pen and dragged his hands down his face and back through his hair. “Relax, Al. It’s just a girl. You can talk...write to a girl.”
I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while now. How are your Christmas holidays going so far? It’s rubbish here. Everyone just keeps to themselves nowadays. James is being a prick, as usual. My sister is being such a girl and won’t stop going on about some bloke in Ravenclaw. He should pray for his life if he ever comes across me or James. I hope you’re feeling better. Lucy told me that you might have to go back to that clinic place during the summer. Whatever it is that’s wrong, try and get better. I don’t like seeing Lucy upset. I hope you’re taking good care of my hoody.
Albus. He signed off with a sigh and looked up at his owl, a small smile crossing his face.
“Ready to take this letter for me?” he said, holding it up. The owl gave a loud screech and hopped out of the cage when Albus pulled the metal door open. The large bird took the letter in its beak and flew out through the window when Albus pushed it open. “Don’t get lost!” he called after it. After his owl had flown off into the distance, Albus shivered and closed the window before brushing his hands up and down his arms in an attempt to get warm again.
He dived back onto his bed and pulled the blanket right up over his head, covering him from view. He dragged his bag under the cover with him and rummaged around in it for his book. As soon as he found it, his head hit the pillow and he began to read while still hiding underneath the duvet.
“Wake up, you lazy sods!” Teddy’s voice rang through the entire house, jolting Albus awake from his peaceful sleep. “Where’s your Christmas spirit?”
“Buried in the back garden where all the snow is,” Albus murmured, lowering his head down onto the pillow and closing his eyes. After a failed attempt at falling back asleep, the boy opened his eyes with a sigh and gazed around the room. Sure don’t feel like Christmas.... He kicked the duvet away from him and tumbled out of bed, landing on his hands and knees on the floor. “Ow.” He clambered to his feet and grabbed a towel from the top of his wardrobe before heading out onto the landing and hurrying towards the bathroom before anyone else could get there.
James raced out of his room at the same time and soon the two brothers were wrestling on the floor over who got to use the bathroom first.
“Use mum and dad’s bathroom if you’re so desperate!” Albus growled, shoving James onto the floor and running into the bathroom. He slammed the door shut after him and locked it before his brother could do anything about it. “And don’t you fucking dare use magic to open it.”
“What an interesting idea but I really don’t fancy seeing my little brother naked,” James muttered, sitting upright and leaning back against the banister. He turned his head and grinned as Teddy came up the stairs. “Alright mate?”
“Why are you sitting on the landing in your boxers?” Teddy questioned.
“Albus stole my shower time,” James said with a roll of his eyes, jabbing his thumb towards the bathroom where the sound of running water could be heard. “And I can’t use mum and dad’s bathroom because dad is in the shower too!” He banged the door with his fist and growled under his breath.
“You guys really need an extra bathroom around here,” Teddy laughed, making his way back downstairs.
James scrambled to his feet and followed him down to the kitchen where Lily and Ginny were making breakfast. The smell of waffles and scrambled egg wafted up James’ nostrils, causing him to grin and lick his lips. “Smells good, mum!”
“James!” Ginny cried, whirling around to face him with a pan full of sausages held in her hand. “Happy Christmas, love. Uh, why are you half-naked?”
Lily sniggered under her breath and began buttering the slices of toast that were piled high on a plate in front of her. “Run along and put some clothes on. Or...” She looked over her shoulder at her brother and grimaced in disgust. “...at least take a shower. Good Godric, James.”
“Sorry,” James laughed, taking a seat at the kitchen table. “Al is taking his sweet ass time in the bathroom.” He jumped in his seat and cried out in shock when Albus slapped his hands against his shoulders. “Merlin’s knickers, Al! You just gave me a heart attack.”
“Phew, go take a shower. You bloody reek,” Albus laughed, waving a hand in front of his face. He helped Lily to butter the rest of the toast and slid the plate over towards James. “Enjoy. No, seriously, go take a shower first before I die from inhaling your body odour.”
Ginny plucked at the black button-up cardigan Albus wore over a casual white shirt, much to his distaste. “There’s fluff all over it,” she said, moving on to his sleeves.
“Mum, would you stop? It’s fine. You’ll be checking my jeans next,” the boy muttered sarcastically as he took a seat at the table next to Teddy. He shared a small smile with him and pulled some scrambled egg onto his plate. “Are we going back to the Burrow this year or what?”
“Yeah, Nan’s cooking...again,” Lily said, placing cutlery and empty glasses in the middle of the table. “I would have thought she’d be sick of it by now.”
“It’s Molly,” Teddy said in a muffled voice. “...that’s all I need to say.”
Albus doubled over the table, laughing hysterically and nodded in agreement. “Good enough for me.”
Later on in the day, the Potter’s and Teddy headed over to the Burrow for Christmas dinner. They were greeted at the door by an overly-excitable Rose Weasley.
“We were wondering when you were going to get here!” Rose cried, throwing her arms around Albus’ neck and hugging him tightly. She went around to the others and hugged them just as tightly. “What took you so long?”
“We had a little...hygiene issue,” Albus said, glaring over at his shoulder at James.
Rose grimaced in disgust and nodded. “Oh. Well, that’s just lovely, Al. Get in out of the cold, you lot!” She stepped back into the house and led them in through to the living room where more than half of the family were sitting.
Molly came out of the kitchen and gave each of the Potter kids and Teddy a kiss on the cheek before moving on over to greet her daughter and son-in-law.
Albus made a face and rubbed at the lipstick stain on his cheek as he made his way over to join Lucy on the couch.
“James refusing to shower again?” she laughed, handing Albus a glass of butterbeer she retrieved from the coffee table.
“No,” Albus said, accepting the drink with a smile of thanks. “This time he wouldn’t get out of the bloody shower.” He glanced down at the red jumper she wore over her dress and smirked at the large yellow L in the middle. “You got your sweater then?”
“Here you are, Alby,” Molly said, bustling over with a neatly-wrapped package clutched in her hand.
“Alby?” Lucy sniggered at the nickname, only to stop when Albus shot her a glare.
“Thanks, Nan,” Albus said brightly. He tore the paper back to reveal a grey sweater with a large emerald A covering the front of it. “Mine looks nicer than yours,” he said, shooting Lucy a smug grin.
“It could have been worse,” the girl said, looking down at her hand-knitted item of clothing. “She could’ve made it yellow instead of red.” The two cousins cracked up laughing and had to cover their mouths to quieten down.
While the Potter and Weasley families settled down later in the day to have dinner, across London, someone was refusing to eat.
“Jessica, please eat something,” the man at the top of the table said, massaging his temples with his fingertips. “It’s really good.”
“I’m not hungry,” Jess mumbled, poking her gravy-smothered turkey with her fork. “Can’t I just –”
“No,” said a woman’s voice which was closely followed by the appearance of one at the kitchen door. She wore an apron over her clothes and her dark blonde hair was pulled up into a messy bun with two loose strands hanging down on either side of her face. She removed her apron and took a seat next to Jessica at the table.
“Eat up, Jessica.”
“My name is Jess...Susan,” Jess said.
“Don’t start this now,” her father said, shaking his head as he took a bite of his dinner. “Jessica, just eat.”
“I don’t think so.” Without another word, Jessica slid out of her seat and hurried out of the kitchen. Ignoring her father’s protests, she yanked the front door open and stepped out into the freezing cold. She wore nothing but a pair of shoes and a knee-length dress so she was quick to chill in the snowy weather. Goosebumps shot up along her bare arms and legs, causing her to wrap her arms around herself to try and keep warm.
Oh, it’s useless! Stupid Christmas, even stupider dinner – wait, is stupider even a word? Ah, I don’t care; it is now! Gazing upwards, the sky was completely white which was a sign that it was going to snow even more. As she continued to stare, she squinted in order to try and make out the oncoming silhouette. Soon enough, a bright smile appeared on her face when she saw it was an owl. Her smile was quick to vanish when she realized it was struggling to keep airborne.
She ran forward and reached her arms up, catching the exhausted owl before it could hit the ground. “You poor thing,” she whispered, gazing down at the large bird. She raised her eyebrows at the letter clamped in its beak and questioned whether it was for her or not. She turned on her heel and hurried back into the house to get the owl some water.
“What’s with the bird?” Susan asked, jumping to her feet when she saw the animal in her daughter’s arms.
“It has a letter...for me. I think it’s for me anyway.” She was the only witch in the neighbourhood so she figured the letter was for her. “I’m going to take it upstairs to get some rest.”
“But...your dinner is –”
“I don’t care about dinner when I have an exhausted owl in my hands!” Jessica shouted. She poured some water into a bowl and carried that, and the owl, upstairs to her room. “My owl is off hunting at the moment so you can take her cage until you get better,” she said softly as she coaxed the bird into the empty cage. She gave it some owl food before throwing herself down onto her bed to read the letter.
A fluffy white cat leapt onto her stomach and began purring loudly in her face. “I’m sure Susan will give you what’s left of my dinner,” she told the cat. Despite being a white Ragdoll, Jessica had named him Dubh, which was the Irish word for ‘black’. “If she tells you to go away, just claw her or something.” Dubh gazed up at his owner with wide, blue eyes before hopping off the bed and marching out of the room.
Jessica opened up the letter and began to read in silence. Soon enough, a bright smile appeared on her face when she read Albus’ name written at the bottom. So maybe this Christmas isn’t turning out to be so bad after all....
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