Chapter 2 : These Things Don't Happen To Normal People.
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Then my eyes fell on him. “James?” I said, sleep still evident in my voice.
“Hey sweet heart,” he said. I guess him crawling into bed had woke me.
“Where have you been?” I murmured, rubbing my tired eyes.
“Fred needed my help with something.”
I frowned. “Help with what?” Something about that sentence left me unsettled. I didn’t know why.
“A . . . prank. We were pulling a prank.”
“At five in the morning?”
“Best time for pranks,” James winked. I smiled and snuggled into him, pulling the blanket closer to my shoulders.
- - -
When I rolled over in the morning, James was gone for Quidditch practice. I stumbled into the restroom to see a monster in the mirror. A pasty monster with dark circles under her eyes and a rat’s nest of hair.
Damn, I am sexy.
I trudged into the kitchen and started making eggs and bacon. Mmm, bacon. Yes, I am a fat cow. Don’t judge me. I flipped on the small kitchen TV so I could watch my favorite sleazy gossip wizarding channel while I cooked. I love Saturdays.
“ – and here we are with her now, Anna Moreau,” Kim Chang, the host, said. Hmm, name sounded familiar.
“Hello,” the Anna chick said shyly. She had long, straight blond hair and a quiet smile. Her big, black eyes burned brightly from under her fringe. Her voice had barely a hint of a French accent, but it was definitely there.
“Tell us about your relationship with the hottest hunk in England,” Kim smiled indulgently, like she was a teacher and Anna was the favorite student who had just answered a question perfectly.
Oh. Anna Moreau. Right. Now I remembered why she was so familiar.
“Well, y’know, it started out as innocent fun. I’ve always been a huge Cannons fan, even when I was little. I went to Beauxbatons and I would sneak CannonNews magazine under my bed. I got in trouble for that a lot, actually.” Kim laughed like Anna had just told an incredibly witty joke.
Anna continued. “We met last year at the Wandhop, which as you know is the coolest wizard club in England. We just hung out and had some Firewhiskey, y’know? Just talked about life and stuff. A few weeks later we passed each other in the street and he said, ‘Anna, m’dear, is that you?’ That’s when I really fell for him, honestly. A guy who can pick you out in the streets of London must really be something.” I scoffed, not convinced that any of this was true.
I was startled to hear my name. “Pippa Aarons sure thinks he’s something. Would you consider yourself a homewrecker?” Kim asked, feigning compassion for me. Come on, we all know I’m just the latest piece of news to her. No need to sugar-coat it.
“I never wanted to become ‘the other woman’… But I suppose no one wants to be. It just happens.” Anna mused for a second. “James told me she’s really nice, and that they had a lot in common and he really liked her, but that they’re just not right for each other. James never wanted to hurt her. I never wanted to hurt her. These things just happen.”
They assumed I knew. They assumed I had read and believed the TeenWitch article. Of course I’m too much of a dunce for that.
But no, none of this was true. She was just an obsessed fan, James had told me that much. And I trusted James.
“Now, a lot of people are wondering how you’re any different than the fan girls who fake relationships with James Potter. Can you show us proof?”
“Of course,” Anna smirked.
Pictures flashed on the screen. One was her and James kissing, one was the two of them at a club, James’ hand on her knee, one was her practically draped all over him at a club, his hand resting on her lower back.
“And of course I have phone calls recorded,” Anna said, when the screen showed her again.
James’ voice, my James’ voice, filled my ears. “Annie-doll, you there?”
“Of course, Jamesie.” On screen, Anna was blushing.
“Are we on for Friday night?”
There was much more to the phone call, lots of lovey-fricking-dovey bullcrap, but I had tuned out when he had said that.
Something snapped in my head.
Fred was with his American girlfriend Ashley Johnson for the weekend. In New York. They’d left Thursday night.
“Fred needed my help with something,” James’ voice teased me.
And that’s when everything went black.
- - -
I’m trying to sleep here.
What? Go away!
“Pippa Aarons, if you don’t wake up I’m going to pour water all over your face.”
Huh. I wonder who that was. It sounded kind of like… him.
And that’s when something very cold and very wet splashed all over my face.
“GAH! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?” I spluttered, opening my eyes to see a very smug Albus Potter leaning over me with a now-empty bucket.
“You needed to wake up. I put the fire out, by the way.”
“What fire?” I rubbed my eyes and started to get up. Ow. Did I hit my head?
“Yeah, your eggs were burning. And I assume you hit your head on the table, ‘cause there’s a huge lump on the back of your head.”
I realized I was lying on a couch. Aw, how sweet! He carried me to the couch! Wait, what? Why was he here? Freak. “Why are you here, freak?” Pippa, nooooo! I need to learn to shut up once and a while.
“Well,” he said, dead serious, not even caring that I had just called him a freak, “ I flooed over as soon as I saw the thing on TV. I thought you might need… “ He trailed off, blushing. The thing on TV. Reality crashed down on me and I let out an audible gasp. Albus’ eyes snapped up at me when I gasped. He looked so . . . hurt.
I dropped my gaze and tried to regain my old self. “Consolation sex? I’m good thanks,” I said sarcastically. Even to me, the retort sounded half-assed and lame.
“If you don’t want my help, I can leave,” he replied icily, his dark green eyes flashing.
“No, please. Stay. I was only joking.” I bit my lip and stared at him. “Is this… what you were trying to tell me?” The few seconds it took for him to answer was enough of an answer for me. I studied Albus’ face while he mused. His face was more round, less sharp and angular than James’. James’ brown eyes made him look exotic and dashing, but Albus’ green eyes were full of so much expression. James was sometimes hard to read, but Albus looked like the kind of guy who could be read like a book.
I knew Albus in Hogwarts, of course. We were in the same year. But I’d never really met him. Never got the chance to study him this way.
“I read between the lines as to what was going on,” Al finally nodded. “When you lived with him as long as I have . . . you get to know the territory. You love James, and I believe James still loves you. But he’s not a one-girl kind of guy.”
“Are you . . . defending him?” my voice was barely a whisper, yet it sounded like a yell in the quietness of the room.
“I’m explaining why you need to get out of this relationship.”
“I think that’s as well as done, mate,” I said scathingly, thinking a girl would have to be insane to keep her boyfriend after a public humiliation like that, no matter how much of a hunk he was.
“I never realized how much of a right bitch you were, Pip,” Albus replied scornfully as he crawled into my fireplace and flooed away, not once looking back.
I realized two things.
I was going to have to confront James – shit. I suck at confrontations.
And Albus had called me Pip. Could this day get weirder?
A/N – Yes I am sadistically evil. Poooor Pippa!! Gah, I love the smell of drama in the morning.
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