The first piece of parchment appeared to be expensive, it was made of thick silver and there was a nice navy bow threaded through. The words were of nice calligraphy, cursive yet still legible. This wasn’t what confused me.
I was confused by who sent it.
The invitation was simple:
You are cordially invited to the wedding of Adam Greengrass and Charlotte Mercein on the 28th of December at the Mercein Manor. This invitation allots you a plus one, so choose wisely.
Please RVSP to:
Amelia Nott Greengrass
This was standard, I assumed, for I had never actually been to a wedding without being an addition to my parents. I doubted my parents even knew who Adam Greengrass was, which I was perfectly fine with.
However, there was an attached note.
Let’s meet up at the Three Broomsticks. Saturday. Noon.
This scrawl was much less legible, written on muggle notebook paper, with ink blotches. Clearly he was in a hurry when he wrote to me, probably wondering why he was even bothering to. I most definitely was.
What are the odds, really?
I wonder if Ashley knows that I was invited, however something’s tells me that this is a bit of a secret. After all, she’ll probably scream bloody murder and come after me with a knife when she learns.
The invitation sat on the Hufflepuff table staring up at me, glittering and shimmering beneath the candlelight. I tried to focus my blue eyes anywhere else, even on the unopened letter I had received, but it was to no avail.
I was suggested to bring a plus one, rather threatened is more like it. Clearly showing up solo wouldn’t be good for my reputation, or lack thereof. But I knew that I needed to bring someone, or else I would look like some pathetic slag who is still in love with a bloke much older and out of her league.
I was about to shove the envelope into the bottom of my bag, preferably never to return again, when a large hand reached out to grab it. Howard Davies sat down across from me, his eyebrows slowly rising with each line he read.
“Beaumont, I’m rather impressed,” he told me; ignoring the incredulous look I gave upon hearing my apparent nickname. “I reckon I’ll be seeing you then, yeah? Charlie is my cousin, which means I have to be in the wedding party. Ruddy awful luck I seem to have.”
“Beaumont?” I questioned, not even bothering with the other hundred questions currently on my mind.
“Beatrice Montgomery,” he told me slowly, as if I wasn’t aware of my own name. I may be a Hufflepuff, but I even I’m not that dumb. Sure, I have my moments, however he has far more. “Besides, it’s French for beautiful mountain. And you, love, have excellent mountains.”
“Pervert,” I hissed, crossing my arms delicately.
“Girls always seem to call me that,” he remarked, his eyes twinkling, “and then the next thing you know we’re trapped in a broom closet and I’m getting ordered to give even more ‘perverted’ commands. Funny how that works out.”
“I will never be one of those girls,” I promised him. His attention did not make me feel pleasurable about myself, rather disgusted. I’ve seen whom he has been with and honestly, I’d rather not be associated. I like to think of myself as a girl with standards, which his slags lack completely.
“You say that now,” he told me casually, “just wait until we’re married.”
“I was under the impression you hated me?”
Was it possible for someone to be even more bipolar? The first six years of my schooling I had received little to no attention whatsoever, from anyone, and then suddenly I gain curves and people decide to stop stepping on my glasses. Did they ever assume that it was too little, too late? I’ve managed this long, and I’m not weak. I can handle a few more months.
“Perhaps,” he admitted, shrugging his broad shoulders. “But hatred makes for the most passionate sex, love. I’ve never been with a girl who can harbor such emotions other than you, and I know it will be mind-blowing.”
“Not going to happen,” I argued.
“Don’t make promises you can't keep, Beaumont,” he said cryptically, stealing the bagel from my plate and adding raspberry jam. I was too busy trying to decode his hidden meanings to even bother acting offended or annoyed. “I’ll see you at the wedding.”
He sent me one last wink, before strutting away.
I took a deep breath, gathering my thoughts. There he sat, in a corner far from the other inhabitants, resting casually and looking as nonchalant as possible. In other words, he was the complete opposite of my worrying self.
I strode through the door; the jingling bells uncharacteristically loud and noticeable on a loud Hogsmeade day like this. Students of all ages turned to stare at me, except they weren’t whom I was watching. He looked up quickly, his brown hair swishing like satin.
Before I could even comprehend what was happening, I was lifted up into a large hug and spun around. The edges of my cashmere jumper rose up, revealing a sliver of stomach that I hastily tried to cover. So thankful was I to finally be on my feet, that I hadn’t even noticed his chocolate eyes skimming over me.
We sat down, both looking awkward and expectant at the same time.
“I took the liberty of ordering us two butterbeers,” he informed me, his grin broadening. “I would have done firewhiskey but you aren’t of age and I can't be held accountable for any actions during my state of intoxication.”
“I see,” was all I said before flushing and staring at my chipped nails.
Was it horrifically awful of me to be disappointed that this man, this god, was getting married? While I recognize that I have no chance whatsoever, I’m not sure I can sit during his ceremony and watch as he exchanges vows and becomes completely untouchable, till death do they part.
“You look good,” he said casually, crossing his arms and showing off his ridiculously perfect biceps. He was clad just as I, in a jumper and jeans, with one major exception. I looked fresh out of bed, which I wasn’t, and he appeared to have come off a runway. “Less gawky than I remember, much more filled out. If I were single I’d give it a go. Tried once, unless you’ve forgotten.”
“Are you even allowed to say that?” I asked, blinking a few times.
“Probably not,” he admitted, leaning further back on his chair and appearing completely oblivious to the looks he was receiving. Every girl within the proximity was drooling, me included. “So how have you been, Trix?”
“Blossoming, apparently,” I mumbled. I view this as the perfect, golden, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to unload my every secret. I did save him from marrying a psychotic wench, after all. He owes me.
“I can see that,” he said, staring very pointedly at my breasts. “Anything else?”
“I feel like screaming because I don’t have anyone to talk to,” I breathed out, feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder. All this time I’ve been hiding myself from the truth. I don’t truly have friends, I just babysit the Marauders. Why fool myself into thinking otherwise?
“We’re all here for you to talk to,” he told me seriously, “you just never speak.”
“I speak,” I said quietly, even though we both knew I was lying.
In reality, I kept everything bottled up to an almost unhealthy degree. The saying goes that you are your own worst critic, and that can't be more spot on. If there was one place I needed to be rescued from, it was my mind.
“Do you remember when I ran into you last summer?” he asked, transporting me back to that day.
I was standing in the window of a dress shop, scowling as the old lady recorded my measurements. My father was being honored once again at the National Football League Gala, but this time around I was old enough to attend. Did it matter that I had absolutely no desire to dance with 300-pound bald men? Apparently not to mother dearest…
Had the dress not been so positively dreadful, I might have even been excited at the prospect of getting dolled up and beautiful. Unfortunately, the chiffon fabric barely reached the top of my thighs, the neckline was far too low, and the shimmering bronze material clung to my skin.
It was mortifying.
I attempted to pass the time by staring out the window, and froze when I saw a familiar face I had not seen in years. But there he was, his gaze meeting mine, and smirking.
I don’t know what possessed me to do it—confidence or maybe sheer foolishness—but I ran out of the evil woman’s clutches and onto the cobbled street. It appeared that he was waiting expectantly, tapping his foot impatiently, as if he knew I was coming.
“Hello, Trixie,” he greeted in his deep, throaty voice. “How’ve you been?”
“Been better,” was all I replied, staring down at my bare feet. It’d been a while since I’d had a pedicure, which showed. I probably had time to fit it in before the big event coming up, although I wasn’t too worried. More importantly, why was I staring at my feet when Adam Greengrass was talking to me?
“Shame,” he pouted, “anything I can do to make it better?”
I was only just beginning to comprehend why such a talented, attractive, blindingly brilliant bloke was talking to me. I’d certainly grown out of my Ugly Duckling phase and was working my way towards Beautiful Swam, however I didn’t think I was actually there yet. I still had a unibrow to pluck and a mustache to bleach.
We chatted mindlessly for a while, before things turned serious.
“I just bought this new flat right in the middle of Diagon Alley,” he told me proudly, those brown eyes that I adored twinkling. “It’s not too shabby, if I say so myself. Perhaps, you want to grab dinner and then come see it some night, you know, as a date?”
“To be perfectly honest, it’s the least you could do,” he told me, shrugging. His broad shoulders highlighted this movement, and I just wanted to grip them with my fingers. “You did ruin my last relationship, after all. I mean I’m hot, you’re bloody sexy, and we’re both young. Why not?”
“I’ll owl you,” I promised.
He couldn’t see my crossed fingers behind my back.
“I waited three days,” he growled, suddenly looking angry, “three days. Do you have any idea how mortifying that was for someone fresh out of Hogwarts, supposed to have the world at their fingertips? I couldn’t even get a date with a sixth year. My mates ridiculed me daily, asking if the encounter with my ‘Dream Girl’ was real or just imagination. I began to question that, as well.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, because I was.
I was also rather cross with myself. Regardless of whether or not you are ready for it, life happens. Opportunities, they happen. And yet there I was, with a golden one, and I just watched it glide away.
What if I had owled him?
Would I be dressed in a beautiful white gown, getting married?
“That’s the real problem, isn’t it?” he pressed on, running his hands through his hair at a pace too fast to be comfortable. “You’re not sorry. You know, Beatrice, I invited you to my wedding so that you could catch a glimpse at what you’re missing out on. And I’m not just talking about my wedding. You’re missing everything. Do you want to know why?”
I did, but I didn’t tell him that. He continued on his own.
“You’re afraid of trying. You don’t want to try because you don’t want to fail, and you don’t want to actually feel something about anything. You can't take risk, because that means getting involved. It’s so easy for you, isn’t it? To hurt others when you can't feel pain?”
“That’s not true,” I protested, tears brimming at my eyes.
If I can't feel pain then why does this hurt so much?
“No?” he mocked, before taking a deep breath and steadying himself. “Fine, if it’s not true, then prove it. Come to my wedding and make an objection. I just want to see you care I cared.”
“Stop your wedding?” I asked, horrified. “What, do you not love her?”
“I love her more than quidditch,” he admitted, a soft smile playing at his lips. “And I will marry her even if we have to elope to Canada. I know you’re not actually going to object, but the least you could do is come and have fun with a date.”
“You probably won’t,” he said honestly, “and it worries me. I fear that you’ll never find what I have. To love someone so unconditionally is the best and worst feeling in the world. I don’t think you’ll ever open yourself up enough. What a miserable life.”
“I can try,” I told him, meaning it. “No, I will try.”
I strode into the Great Hall, my head held high. Ever since my meeting with Adam in Hogsmeade, things were different. Long gone was the limp hair I once had, replaced with volume and shine. No more did I roll out of bed, instead taking the time to apply mascara and lip balm. My uniform was magically adjusted to fit my body, showing off curves I never realized that I had.
It was time to start living.
‘Concentration, no hesitation, if I don’t start living it will be eternal damnation.’ There were few spots at the Hufflepuff table this morning, I realized. I was left with three plausible options: a) my bitchy roommates b) perverted little Roger or c) Howard Davies.
I didn’t say anything as I sat down next to him, instead scooping some sausage onto my golden plate and violently stuffing it into my mouth. His three best mates were sitting across me from, staring rather rudely.
Patrick Finnigan was paused, his mouth open and showing the contents of his breakfast. Is that bacon and eggs I see? Justin Fletchley had one hand around the neck of his tie, tugging. Samuel Thomas gave me a glance over, and then another, before looking back down to his plate, smirking.
“To what do we owe the pleasure?” Howard Davies asked, his voice much deeper than I was accustomed to. I turned to face him, arching a perfectly plucked eyebrow, and he gagged on his cereal, getting milk on his button down.
That’s not exactly the reaction I was expecting.
“Beaumont?” he asked, horrified, before whipping out his wand and scourgefy-ing the mess away. That’s rather quick thinking for a Hufflepuff. “What happened to you? You’re almost—almost normal.”
“Brilliant,” I muttered, “Because that’s what I was going for.”
He watched as my face fell, before groaning, and then the unexpected happened. Howard Davies pulled me into what I’m sure was meant to be a comforting, gentle hug. In reality, his admittedly not awful smelling armpit was suffocating my face, and I hesitantly wrapped my arms around his middle.
It was sort of nice, just being there.
I could forget that this was Howard Davies, whose hands were crawling dangerously low on my back, and just be in the moment. Was this living? Or was this just comfort at the knowledge of having someone? Perhaps it didn’t matter, not in the long term. He was here as was I, and we were just together circumstantially.
“Your hair smells nice,” he murmured, taking a deep breath. “It’s vanilla and cinnamon spice, almost like Christmas, I think. There might be hints of gingerbread, too. Tell me, Montgomery, do you smell like that everywhere?”
I pulled away, and he winked.
“Well,” I sighed, “surprisingly it was nice while it lasted. You make a good teddy bear, you know, all soft and cuddly and whatnot.”
“I am not soft,” he protested, outraged, “nor am I cuddly. I’m a man.”
I ignored his statement, choosing instead to take a deep breath. This was the moment, where I truly take Adam’s advice, and I dearly hope I’m not rejected. It’s simple, really, what I have to do.
Davies, there’s a wedding coming up… be my date?
Davies, do you want to be my date to the wedding?
Davies, you’re coming to the wedding with me.
“Davies,” I began, exhaling loudly. “There’s this thing coming up…”
“Hold on just a moment, would you?” he asked, and I subconsciously pouted. He even had the audacity to hold up a finger, like I’m some small child. “I think I see Vanessa Bell giving me the signal.”
“This is more important,” I urged, because it was—to me.
“Yeah. Uh huh. Definitely,” he mumbled, still focused on the Ravenclaw table and not me. Did my effort this morning mean anything? He began getting up, swinging his legs over the bench with precision. “I’ll see you later lads, I have to go answer a siren’s call.”
They sent me pitying looks.
“Better luck next time, yeah?” murmured Samuel Thomas.
“Next time?” I asked. “There won’t be a next time. I mean how hard could it possibly be for me to get a date to a sodding wedding? Actually, don’t answer that. I’ll be fine. I’ll just ask Remus, because he’s the only one talking to me at the moment…”
What had I done to James, anyway?
“No offense, lass,” Patrick told me in his thick irish accent, “but we don’t really care, do we?”