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How Soon Is Now? by BrightStar
Chapter 11 : Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
 
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I can’t believe it’s all over, but there it is. If anyone wants to see what Lucy gets up to next, I’d recommend my short story collection, “All You Need is Love: The Next Generation.” Lucy is featured in a few stories, and will have a whole chapter to herself, “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” Fred’s story will directly lead on from “How Soon is Now?”

Thank you to everyone who reads and has been reading this, particularly those who have been reading for a long time. A special shout out has to go to TheGoldenKneazle over at the forums, for all the helpful reviews. Hopefully this conclusion will please everyone.

Thank you to Lucy, for making me tell you her story. I sometimes hated her for it, but I love her now more than I thought I would.

Finally, weirdly, thank you to the Smiths, for writing this story when I could not.

- BrightStar.

 


I suppose going to work in Flourish and Blotts was a mistake. I went from being good-girl Lucy Weasley, to a shopgirl doomed for eternity – to something else completely different. It’s just that, at eighteen you don’t know who you are, much less who you want to be for the rest of your life.

I didn’t know who Lucy Weasley was. Merlin, I don’t know who she is now. All I know is that I want this years model to be someone I’m proud of being.


I had been given a do-over. A year from the day I left Hogwarts I went along to meet the cousins coming home for the summer. I didn’t know why I went at the time, but I realised afterwards I wanted a bit of closure.

I saw Lily race into the Muggle world, a cute little sandy-haired boy in tow. Louis and Roxanne sauntered out amidst a group of friends. I saw Scorpius Malfoy emerge about two seconds before Hugo and a very flustered Rose. The two Potter brothers strutted out, a girlfriend each. Al’s girlfriend, Eva spotted me and made a beeline over.

I smiled and chatted to the girl I had always been fond of, a bit of a bookworm like myself. Over her head, I saw Fred amble over to his father. I bit my lip, hoping he’d find his way soon.

As my eyes followed Fred, I noticed a young man greeting a pretty girl with open arms. It seemed, I thought to myself wryly, good old Will had a girlfriend. I recognised her as being in the year behind me, she had just left seventh year. I wondered had he been with her when we –

And there it was. That final piece of that fatal night I was missing.


“Will we move this into the bedroom?” He asked, half whispering.

I could barely see, gripping onto him for support.

“I don’t know, Will.” I said, sleepily.

“Don’t worry, I don’t bite,” he joked.

I wavered. Ainsley had done it. Molly probably had, too. Why shouldn’t I?

We were at the bedroom of my door. Kick him out or let him in? It was decision time.

“No,” I said, wiping the last of my tears away. “Sorry, I can’t.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Is this that Mark bloke? Because I thought we agreed he was gone. And good riddance.”

I shook my head. “Sorry Will, I can’t. I’m too drunk for one, I don’t even know what I’m doing.”

“I’m sure you’re a fast learner,” he smirked. “Anyway, it’s just a bit of fun. Lighten up, L.”

That did it. “Do you know what? Will, whatever your surname is? I’ve had it. I’m not going to be “L” anymore. I’m Lucy, and I’m finished with all your bloody games.”

I gathered a breath, struggling to keep what I was saying coherent. “There’s someone else, you better just leave. And don’t come back.”

He looked as if he was about to say something, but when he saw my raised wand, he backed off. He left the apartment, muttering some horrible things about me.

I felt as if I were about to pass out. I barely got my dress off before I collapsed onto my bed, pyjamas forgotten under the pillow.


He was right. It had just been a bit of fun to him, but to me it had seemed a get out plan.


Our parents didn’t realise the pressures that were on us. They had grown up during wartime, one of the only benefits being that they grew fast, knowing who they were and what they wanted. We had what seemed like the world watching us, probably wondering why we weren’t heads of Ministry Departments in our early twenties, or successful entrepreneurs as soon as we left Hogwarts. It was hard being one of us, growing up in a post-war society. The battles we had to fight were internal, not on a public stage.


I had been given a do-over, that’s how I imagined it. Especially now, since I knew what had happened – or not happened, as it turned out – with Will. The truth was that even when I was at my worst, I had stopped myself just in time. It was if I had gotten off that train too, a second go at this last year. It was a mistake for me to go and work in Flourish and Blotts, as someone so naïve and unacquainted with the world. Someone else may have just taken it for what it was, but as always I had to worry and over analyse it.

Now though, I had been given a do-over.

~*~

“And Lucy will be going to Muggle University in the Autumn!” My dad announced, in a false-excited voice so high, I looked around to see if Mum had pinched him.

Uncle Ron opened his mouth, and closed it quickly after a not-so-subtle elbow to the ribs from Aunt Hermione. He then just smiled politely as Hermione gushed and asked about the conversion course.

The summer course that would help me adjust to Muggle life would start the following week, the same week I started in Flourish and Blotts a year earlier. It seemed almost too perfect, but there it was.

Harry was having his party the weekend before his birthday this year. A younger version of me would have taken this as an opportunity to show everyone that I’d made a change, but I was more mature than that now, or so I hoped. I knew no sweeping gestures would right everything, only hard work paid off.

I was snapped back to reality. “So have you killed Roxy yet?” Ron interrupted.

We all laughed, and I tried to keep the hysterical edge out of my laugh. “I understand Molly a lot more now I have to be a big sister,” I joked. “Anyway, I think it’s hard for her with Fred leaving.”

Roxanne, though I loved her, was hard to live with. In the aftermath of my spectacular meltdown just days before my nineteenth birthday, I had gone to live with Aunt Angelina and Uncle George . I worked in their shop in return for board and a few extra Galleons. This time, I didn’t mind working in a shop, since I knew it was only for the time being.

“And you’re leaving, too,” Hermione said sympathetically. “You’re going to live above the Hogsmede branch all by yourself, for the summer, aren’t you?”

I grimaced. They still thought I was a head case, lovely. I don’t know what version of events had reached the aunts and uncles, but they evidentially thought I was mad.

“I’ll be ok,” I replied, keeping a smile fixed on my face. “It’s near the course centre and Roxy is going to stay over all the time, she tells me!”

“Well at least she can’t be corrupted!” Ron said jovially.

Everyone in the surrounding area froze.

Awkward. So very awkward.

I forced a laugh and everyone joined in, louder than was necessary.


Molly announced she and Grandma Weasley were ready to serve the meal. I took my place at the table, asking Fred where his first stop on the Grand Tour was. I looked at him, lighting up for once, and hoped with all my heart he wouldn’t make the same mistakes I did.

I grinned to myself as Molly plopped an extra serving of mashed potatoes on my plate with a wink, as Teddy spat carrot chunks in my general direction as he described his new favourite band, and as Victoire and Dominique started pulling at each others hair in their full-on-Veela-freak glory.

Things were back to normal. No, they were better than that. I rubbed the scar on my forehead, happy with my lot and excited to see what was coming next.


~*~

I wanted to go home. I wanted to go home and curl up in a ball as my Mum brushed my hair. But I couldn’t leave – I had come so far.

Today was my first day of the transition course. I sat in a room hearing to an induction speech so terrifying I wished I was instead fighting Voldemort with no more than a breaded haddock to defend myself. I sat in a crowded room a dress and boots that seemed to be fashionable among young Muggle women, with a large handbag in which my wand was carefully hidden. We had been told to get used to passing ourselves off as Muggles, and so I had spent hours observing Muggles in their part of London the previous week.

In my bag was an old Muggle novel. Since I would be studying Muggle books, or “English Literature”, in the Autumn I had to catch up with what my classmates would know already. In the months that had followed my leaving Flourish and Blotts, I had worked in the joke shop by day and holed up in a Muggle library in the evenings, pouring over what they had to offer. My old work ethic had returned with this new endeavour.

I was frightened by the new faces, not recognising many. A lot of them were apparently Squibs, others seemingly older witches and wizards who wanted to educate themselves. There were, thankfully, some others like me.

When it came to the tea break, we all filled into a kitchen where the use of a “kettle” was demonstrated. I exchanged a nervous giggle with the young witch next to me. I felt a lot braver about making new friends, after the past year. I was a lot more confident than I had been, even more so than when I worked in the bookshop. Though I still went out at night sometimes, I didn’t need to drink in order to talk to someone.

When it came near to my turn to use the “kettle”, I moved toward the counter in order to get a look at what the young man ahead of me was doing. Craning my neck in order to see what strong, capable hands were doing, I furrowed my brow in concentration.

I was not in any way prepared for what came next. The man spun around, still holding the device. I jumped out of the way to avoid the hot water that seemed to explode for the kettle, hitting my head full force off of a nearby cupboard.

My first thought was that I mustn’t scream and make a fool of myself in front of all these new people. The second thought was that I recognised the voice that roared a bad word beside me.

My hands clamped around my head, I felt several people rush toward me. I assured everyone I was fine, while trying to determine this myself. Slowly, I took my hands away, blinking at the unfamiliar people around me. I smiled shakily at them, mortified, before the smile was wiped off my face.

Why was Mark Seton beside me? And why was he holding a kettle?

We couldn’t seriously be taking the same course, could we? And to meet a year to the day, in such similar circumstances – the old scar on my head, probably worsened by this morning’s events, was proof enough of this coincidence – surely that was too good to be true.

Feelings of guilt, of embarrassment or anything other than pure joy should have filled me at this moment, but it was not to be.

I had been given a second chance.


~*~


We all filled out of the centre after a long day. I could see, already, “electricity” was going to be my main stumbling block. I was to meet Victoire and Pippa for a quiet drink this evening, as I didn’t need to be into the centre until late morning the next day. It felt great hanging around with Victoire and the others again, this time more like their equal. None of these things, however, were on my mind as I left.

I saw Mark a little ahead, and smiled as best I could. Earlier, he had just apologised for the accident, and we had gone our separate ways, ignoring each other even when we were put in the same group. We were both going to be attending the same college London, though obviously studying for different degrees.

He walked over slowly, looking as if he was about to bolt. I moved towards him too. Finally, we were face to face once more.

“Hi Lucy,” he said quietly.

“Hi Mark,” I replied, softly.

“How are you?” he asked politely.

I replied I was better, with a nervous laugh.

We stood awkwardly, staring at our feet.

“Do you think - ” I asked hesitantly. “Since we’re in the same course and everything, and we’ll be in the same university…”

“That we can be friends again?” Mark said, in a strangled voice
.
“No!” I exclaimed. I backtracked wildly when I saw his expression. “I mean, I wish. I just wanted a chance to explain. To tell you what happened, the whole story.

“Some forgiveness would be nice though,” I joked awkwardly.

Mark sighed, and my heart started to beat more loudly than before. “Look, you shouldn’t have to explain. I see now I got the wrong idea. That’s my fault. I just wish I was there for you, when you clearly needed a friend.”

He took my hand, carefully.

I didn’t know what to say. My heart pounded in my chest as I finally looked him in the eyes.

His eyes, still so startlingly blue. Still so open, and so kind. The same openness was plain in his face, slightly pale in the sunlight, contrasting with his dark hair.

How had I not noticed the kind of beauty I saw now? The kind features, the tall, lean stature? The toothy smile that could not but prompt a returning smile?

In some ways, Mark looked ordinary. In some ways, he was ordinary. He was just a nice, normal young wizard, like everyone else trying to find his way through life.

If Mark was ordinary, then he was ordinariness raised to perfection.

I felt his strong, sure hand encompassing my little one, and a breath caught in my throat.

I smiled, and smiled, and kept smiling. He smiled too, clearly waiting for me to say something.

I took a deep breath. “You met me at a very strange time in my life,” I said as lightly as I could, rising to my tiptoes.

Gently, even reverently, I pressed my lips to his with closed eyes, immediately feeling overwhelming warmth in the eager returning kiss. I felt a kind of warmth spread to my heart that I calmly supposed, quite rightly, must be love.


And so, my life began.

 

 

Finished 3.30 AM Monday 17th October 2011.
 
 


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